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Zombie Movies: Night of the Living Dead (1968)

One of the greatest zombie films of all time, if not the greatest. It is the grandfather of all the pop-zom stuff glutting the market today. George Romero may have been inspired by The Last Man on Earth, but he created a lasting landscape of apocalyptic horror like none other out of it.

As far as a plot is concerned, there isn’t much. It’s the story of a handful of survivors that find themselves trapped in a farmhouse as the dead roam about outside it. Contact with the outside world is limited to television and radio, offering little.

What Romero did was inject a bit of social commentary in the film at a time where racial tensions were high. I cant imagine the impact the ending had on people in the late 60s. Even when I first viewed it in the early 90s it was powerful.

I don’t mind the black and white, though some do. I love the 1990 version as it was the first viewing I had of the story (My parents don’t like B&W, so there was never a copy around to watch)

Overall I give this film: 7/10

I rated the story high as it was the progenitor of all zombie survival flicks, if it came out today it would be much lower.

Characters: 6.5

Cast: 6

film quality: 6

Story: 9

Zombies: 8.5

Lasting appeal: 6

Everyone has a book in them.

This was spoken to me once by someone close to me when I told them I was writing.

This probably is one of the most condescending things anyone has ever said to me about my writing. Stringing words together does not make a writer. All this statement did for me was to recognize that they don’t respect me, or the written word for that matter. I don’t doubt that everyone had experiences and stories, imagination even, that would make a great book. What a lot of people don’t have is the ability to write 100,000 words about them, in a way that makes readers want to read.

Maybe I was sensitive about it, I think most writers are insecure and egotistical at the same time, but this diminishes the accomplishment that a writer makes.

I know a lot of people outside writers don’t know what is involved in the process, so I’ll do my best to shed a bit of light on my experience.

First you pour your heart out into a story, a story that becomes an obsession that you need to get on paper (I type mine). When the story is finally done, you edit it and proofread it yourself. Then give it to beta readers (friends, loved ones, people you trust to be honest with you) The one more edit/proof based on that.

Then you are confident that your book is ready, that it’s great. Then you look for an agent to represent you.

Most publishers do not accept submissions from anyone but agents. So you start the querying process. You spend endless hours looking for agents who might be able to represent you, based on months old info you are able to scrape together on the internet.

Each agent you come across has their own way of doing things, rather, their own way for YOU to do things. Each agent you query takes a couple hours to put together the information they are requesting, exactly the way they are requesting it. To do anything else immediately eliminates your chances (possibly, but is it worth the risk?)

If you are writing about a subject that they aren’t interested in promoting, you can feel the collective eyeroll. Out of the 20-25 agents I queried, roughly half didn’t reach out to reject my work.

The entire process seems to get more and more difficult as you continue. It’s almost cute to see the people struggling to write a book, when to someone that’s gone through the entire process, that is the easiest part of it.

So yeah, everyone has a book in them. Just in most people, it dies with them.

Walking Dead Finale and some thoughts on the series.

Season 7 finale in a short while. It and Fear, the offshoot, are the only television shows I watch religiously. Everything else I binge watch. It’s not that either are phenomenal, both suffer from some small to major flaws, but it is the only serious zombie show on.

Don’t get me wrong, I am  huge TWD fan, I’ve been reading and collecting the comics since around the prison storyline, 2006-2007 or so. For the most part they have done a decent job with the show. I was disappointed that they didn’t take Rick’s arm off, but I get it, you have a limited budget (that seems to be going down? or at least quality seems to be) and you don’t want to blow it all on prosthetics/CGI for a hand.

The next point of contention I have, and this one is a biggie for me. They didn’t kill the baby. This was catastrophic, they had to. Now they are stuck with this “prop” of a baby that never cries or fusses and is almost never seen. Terrible loose end that they seem to be ignoring.

Another thing is that when Lori was alive, they were getting formula for the kid. Maybe there were lactation problems, but they never addressed it, instead they just get formula. Babies cry, you know how to quiet one? give it a boob. Especially in an apocalyptic scenario, you don’t need to be adding more things to the list of what you “need”.

Other problems: Gas and car batteries go bad. You’ll be hard-pressed to find gas that will fire that’s over a year old. Every car they need they just hotwire  it, no muss no fuss.

Don’t even get me started on the Rick/Michonne deer scene. That was some of the worst editing I’ve seen on television. Period.

Nitpicking? Maybe. But when you are trying to immerse someone into a world you’ve created, you should at least address some of these things, so people aren’t popping back out of that world to shake their head.

Again, I am a huge fan and love the show.  I don’t pretend to know about TV production or costs or the like, but some of the stuff that has been making it to my screen this season should have never made it there. The show is great, but it could be so much better.

Fast vs. Slow

Everyone has a favorite in the Romero vs. Boyle zombie (infected). For me I prefer the slow, staggering zombie, moreso for the sentimental journey it brings me on. I have such fond and terrifying memories of the 80’s and 90’s slow undead. They are to me the symptom of a dying world and carries with it an atmosphere that the fast undead do not.

That being said, the fast undead (infected) are TERRIFYING. They take away one’s ability to outmaneuver the dead. Their world is one of sheer panic and terror, a world where one mistake is one too many.

The reason I included both in Harvest of Ruin and the subsequent books was not an effort to force them into the same work. It was because they fit, and it felt right. My mission in writing the books was to tell a story, and a good one, about normal people. Most of the stories I read and watched either had no plot other than “Ahhh! Zombies!”, had weak characters, or tried and failed at a gimmick to make it interesting. The one thing they missed over and over was a good story.

 

New project IP

I’ve been working on a new project the past two days and it’s going wonderfully so far. between hanging out with my daughter and the other responsibilities, I only was able to work on it for 3 hours or so. Roughly 6k words in and the two story-lines I started with have merged. Let’s see how long this one holds my interest, as I have 6 current WIP. Anyhow it is a sci-fi book that takes place three hundred years in the future. Technology has not progressed and the world is a post-global melt waste of desert. not going to say anymore as it will be too telling, but the story framework I have running has me very interested at the moment.

Nothing new to report on Harvest.

Back to writing before I run out of time.

 

Harvest of Ruin info

It has been a hectic couple weeks getting things prepared for publication. As a result I’ve accomplished little creatively. I wrote a couple pages of a short story yesterday, the beginnings of an homage to HP Lovecraft, it was the first I had written in nearly a week.

I ordered some postcards as swag today for signings/public appearances. Also, submitted the book blurb for the back cover to severed press. It reads as follows:

In the wake of a foodborne outbreak that sweeps the globe, the scattered survivors are left in a desperate fight to survive, as the dead, fast and slow alike, rise to feast on the living.

The Demott family is ending a weekend of camping by visiting a scenic river-walkway. When the sounds of chaos and panic come from the city ahead, they are propelled into a frenzied flight in search of safety.

Will Norman is on his way to class in Manhattan when his commute turns into a harrowing, life-or-death journey.

Tar Morrison watches his idyllic Rocky Mountain community fray at the seams. Their isolation has limited exposure to the infection, but for how long?

Will their efforts be enough, or will the task at hand prove too much?

Harvest of Ruin follows an array of survivors, focusing on the panic, terror and cost of surviving in a dying world.

Dawn of the Dead 1978

I didn’t see Night of the Living Dead until the remake came out in 1990. My parents didn’t watch black and white movies, so the first zombie movie I watched was Dawn of the Dead (1978). The first time I watched it I was probably 7 or 8 years old (1984 or so). I was probably too young to be watching it, but I was raised on slasher flicks. My parents had a membership to one of the first video stores in the county and every weekend we drove 30 minutes to get a couple movies, just to return the next day to return them. They copied hundreds of movies over the years, meaning that growing up, on top of all the movies we rented from video stores, I had a cabinet of ~200 VHS tapes at home, each with 2-3 movies on them.

The copy of Dawn of the Dead I grew up watching was one of these, it was recorded on EP so the quality, which was not great to start with, was very dark. The generator room scene, where Stephen (flyboy) empties a pistol trying to kill one zombie was completely black, and I remember trying to decipher the scene by sound alone.

What made the movie so memorable to me was that I grew up in shopping malls, in the 80s, most of us did. Seeing the stores we all walked by and went through nearly every weekend, lent a sense of realism that the re-make, as well-conceived and executed as it was, couldn’t match. Most malls back then were similar in design, and though, mine didn’t have a gun store or a skating rink in it, there was a sense of familiarity there, and I never went into the Orange Plaza again without thinking about Dawn of the Dead.

Once they had secured the mall, before the bikers sweep through, there is a scene where the group is collecting supplies and comforts from all the stores in the mall, as if they are on a shopping spree. In a sense, they were re-creating their world out of the husk of the old, a theme that I often find myself daydreaming about to this day.

Overall I give this film: 8.2/10

This might very well be my favorite zombie film of all time.

Characters: 7.5

Cast: 7

film quality: 8.5

Story: 8

Zombies: 9

Lasting appeal: 9

Zombies everywhere!

I often wonder if the genre is overdone, and I always come to the same conclusion. No. The problem is that we grow to think of one particular show or movie as defining that genre. The show or movie might get old, but all it takes is a fresh take and it’s new all over again.

Harvest blends the worlds of Boyle’s infected with Romero’s zombie. The slow zombie reanimates during rigor mortis, whereas the fast undead reanimate before rigor sets in, thus are capable of anything they were in life (as far as speed and strength) I don’t consider this to be a great innovation on the genre, however, I do feel the way in which the worlds are blended in the story adds a whole other element of fear to the traditional zombie story.

Writing my first book as a trilogy

The first book I wrote was when I was 12 or 13. I filled a single subject notebook, front to back with my chicken-scratch handwriting. That notebook is long lost at this point, but it is interesting to note that I didn’t try to write another book for more than 25 years.

This go-around however, I had to figure out what worked for me. I had a handful of false starts, in 2013 or so, where I got bogged down in the minutiae of editing before I had even written the story. I didn’t start writing Harvest of Ruin in earnest until late November/early December of 2015. I knew I had to get the story out and it became a single-minded passion. About 15,000 words in and I knew it was going to be multiple books, two at first, then finally three.

By the time spring rolled around I had the first two written, in draft form. I revised and edited book 1+2 in the spring and fall of 2016 and wrote the third book as soon as the weather turned towards winter again.

Then came the months of hell that was querying, revisions and editing. As I write this, I am still a month off of being finished with the final? revision of book 2 and, although book 3 is cut into book form, it is still only a draft as far as the revisions I’ve done to it.

The shame is that once I realized that I could write novels the ideas keep streaming in. I’ve got 4-5 more projects brewing anywhere from being a sketch of a story to 20,000 words written, but so little time to work on them.

 

Making a webpage

So I spent a good portion of the day working through a few sites to find a good web-host and ended up here.

The two other sites I worked on had some really nice lay-outs but the price was prohibitive, especially considering the book isn’t out yet.

Still some issues floating around and some pictures I need to straighten out on photoshop but, Here we are.