Book Review: So Now You’re a Zombie: A Handbook for the Newly Undead by John Austin

For far too long, the zombie story has been one-sided… always written from the point of view of the human victim or the hunter. Why don’t we ever hear about zombie-related news from a zombie? Well, never fear. All of that is about to change…

Author John Austin has pulled together a handbook to help new zombies adjust to their new position in life (or “unlife“). So Now You’re a Zombie: A Handbook for the Newly Undead provides tips on what to avoid (bullets or further head trauma), what to eat and how to hunt for it among other juicy tidbits. If I was a zombie new to undeath, I’d definitely want something like this (if I could still read) as a refresher course in how to proceed and succeed in my unlife.

From the straightforward language and references, to zombie literature and movies, to the detailed and hilarious artwork, I enjoyed each and every page. Sure, we all know that zombies hunger for brains (strict adherence to the “Brain Beach Diet”, but did you know that there are ways to communicate with other zombies to aid in hunting in packs? Did you also know that zombies should avoid humans possessed by demons because demons are unpredictable and “frickin’ crazy”?

I learned many indispensable tips for zombie life, such as:

  • Killer cyborgs are not edible, but Ronald McDonald is on the “ok-to-eat” list (Zombie Eye Chart, p22)
  • “Toe tags are a good indicator that your meal is spoiled.” (Body Q&A, p. 29)
  • To get into commercial buildings, “Tap on the glass — breathers love that!” (Commercial Buildings, p. 57)

There are many great movie references, such as “Hey, look at me, I’m at Pacific Playland!” (Zombieland) when describing how humans are “Always Drawing Attention to Themselves” (p. 37) and describing “Pretend Zombies” (as in Shaun of the Dead) as easy prey… “Can You Eat Them? Absolutely! These zombie poseurs should be eaten — slowly and alive!”

But it’s the humor throughout that had me chuckling as I read the book… There’s a whole section on “Obstacles You Will Face” – such as doorknobs, ladders, stairs, fences, trees, and ropes. And there are some great illustrations to help in defeating these obstacles, such as a picture of a kid climbing one of those ropes most of us hated in gym class with two zombies waiting at the bottom… “Just wait it out — your victim can’t hang on forever…” And when doorknobs are involved, “if physical abuse proves useless, try rotating the knob as indicated . (Result may vary.)” We’re doomed if zombies have detailed doorknob instructions!

One of my favorite sections is on “Waiting for Food” with a picture of zombies hiding behind trees that made me laugh out loud. All I could think of was the Monty Python sketch “How Not To Be Seen,” with zombies instead of Python members hiding behind shrubberies… Not all house plants or lawn-decorating plants are made equal evidently. Just make sure after the zombie outbreak that you look suspiciously at any zombie-shaped trees.

And the “Combat Quiz” (p. 103) tests your knowledge. After reading the book, you should be able to answer questions such as “Someone just stabbed a knife in my back, I should… a) Seek medical attention immediately! b) Get over it, and continue with what I am doing. c) Fall down to ease the pain. d) Have a fellow Zed remove it.” Considering zombies feel no pain and it’s not a head wound, I think I’d go with answer (b).

If you are preparing for the inevitable zombie apocalypse and your eventual change to the wandering dead, I’d encourage you to keep a copy of So Now You’re a Zombie: A Handbook for the Newly Undead by John Austin to stash in one of your open body cavities after death. You never know when it will come in handy!

This article first appeared at BlogCritics.org here.

–Fitz

p.s. Pick up this and other great zombie books and movies below!

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DVD Review: Dead Snow

Hi all!

It’s not a secret. I like zombies. Maybe not if one tried to gnaw on me like a piece of fried chicken, but I like stories about zombies whether they’re on TV, in print, or on the big screen. So when I heard about Dead Snow last year after Sundance, I knew it had to go on my “To See” list. It finally comes to DVD on February 23, 2010 and I got a sneak peek!

What’s it about? Take one part traditional horror plot with teenagers or 20-somethings, add a vacation cabin in the Norweigian Alps, and… Nazi zombies? Really!? Yes, Nazi zombies. And these guys aren’t messing around…

As the movie starts, we see a girl running through the trees and snow being chased by something or several somethings. It’s not clear what the “somethings” are, but you know they can’t be good. The music used for the opening sequence was an inspired choice and I only wish I knew what it was, but I can’t seem to find the soundtrack anywhere. We’re then introduced to the
beautiful people – four guys and three girls – heading up into the Alps for some skiing, snowmobiling, and fun. And yes, there’s a girl missing – one of the guys’ girlfriends was meeting them up there.

Everything is happy and cheerful until the obligatory weird local guy comes to the door in the middle of the night one night and regales them with stories of the Nazis and locals who had clashed 60 years before. During World War II, a Nazi company occupying the area were driven deep into the mountains and presumed to have frozen to death. He even has the gall to complain about the coffee he’s given as a guest. Once he leaves, everything gets rolling pretty quickly.

Honestly, I think this zombie movie has everything I could have wanted in a horror movie. Cute girls, humor, a bit of T&A, and zombies with a lot of personality. It even includes a zombie attack in the outhouse. Not only is it a gory, bloody mess, but it pays homage to some of the great horror movies of the past, including two of my favorites – Evil Dead and Evil Dead 2. When I saw the chainsaw come out of the shed, I burst out laughing.

Let’s talk about the zombies a bit. These aren’t your usual slow, brainless variety. For 60+ year old zombies, these guys are darn fast. The makeup artist did an amazing job providing unique faces for each zombie and I felt like each zombie actor provided a bit of personality to their characters which was awesome.

If you’re not into blood and guts, I would recommend staying away from Dead Snow. But I was constantly amazed at the variety of ways that zombies and campers could be killed or mutilated. Until this movie, I have never seen a man’s head get ripped apart. In one scene, they actually had a girl awake as a group of zombies pulled out her intestines. Fake blood was used aplenty in this film, liberally splattered across the landscape and the actors.

Also, I have to say that the subtitles didn’t detract from the film at all for me. Usually the actors weren’t talking during the fiercest action scenes, so you weren’t constantly bobbing your head up and down as you tried to keep track of what they were saying and what was happening on screen.

In my new order of zombie favorites, I’ll have to put Dead Snow in my top 5, along with Shaun of the Dead, Zombieland, Resident Evil, and Army of Darkness. Be sure to check it out at your favorite retailer or rental store when it hit shelves February 23!

–Fitz

p.s. Pick up these monsters at Amazon!

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New Trailer for KICK-ASS!

Hi all…

Typically I’m not one to jump on a bandwagon, but I have to say that the campaign that the KICK-ASS group has been running to get the word out for their movie coming out on April 16, 2010 has been great. It built slowly for me and has piqued my interest so I’ve actually written it on my calendar. 🙂

Here’s the latest trailer for the movie and it looks hilarious and fun – in the vein of Zombieland (which is a must see on DVD if you didn’t catch it in the theater)…

Enjoy!
–Fitz

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