Double Feature: Night of the Living Dead (1968) & Night of the Living Dead (1990)

Its’s October!! And that means its time for the kick-off of the annual Halloween Marathon. This year is going to continuing on with the normal format of double features, released (hopefully) every other day. The focus in the the Living Dead franchise as well as finishing off the Insidious franchise which I had reviewed the first movie a few years ago.

Time for the first post of the marathon and of course, what other way to do it than to do a Night of the Living Dead original and remake double feature!

Let’s check it out!

Night of the Living Dead (1968)

Director (and co-writer): George A. Romero

Cast: Duane Jones, Judith O’Dea, Karl Hardman, Marilyn Eastman, Keith Wayne, Judith Ridley, Kyra Schon

A ragtag group of Pennsylvanians barricade themselves in an old farmhouse to remain safe from a bloodthirsty, flesh-eating breed of monsters who are ravaging the East Coast of the United States. – IMDB

George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead is a movie that is a blindspot on my list. Everyone likes to refer to it when talking about classic zombie movies so it was time to give this one a go. 1960s film so its essentially a black and white film. Black and white does do horror quite a good favor as it boosts a bit of the creepiness which is the main focus of what Night of the Living Dead portrays in its story with its slow-moving zombies. The movie is a rather revolutionary film as Romero casts a black actor as his main male lead that delivers quite the performance. At the same time, some of the characters especially the female character is kind of useless who remains in still shock or screaming panic. At the same time, the the “damsel in distress” does add a little to the tension since she essentially can’t help with the situation much and probably creates more problems than solutions.

Romero’s zombies are slow and attracted by the sense of human flesh about. At this point, these people who end up at this house together don’t know what is going on except that the dead aren’t staying dead (I think one of the posters uses that tagline). Of course, at this day and age, what zombies have we not seen and perhaps because of how the zombies themselves have gotten so much better with technology its easier to nitpick on how not scary they all are. Its unfair to compare it to current technology but my point is that watching it as a first watch now is a little harder to appreciate it for all its glory when it was released in the 1960s.

However, Night of the Living Dead as I think back to this viewing does start to be one that I would revisit. I’m not a huge fan of black and white films, somehow it adds a little something to the horror element naturally perhaps because it plays with the darker tones and hides things in the shadows easier. At the same time, the main character Ben, played by Duane Jones is pretty good and resourceful. As the group splits up because of their own need to survive by what they believe is best for the situation, the story does turn up. I’m not a huge fan of this type of ending but its definitely a shocking and unexpected one. Credit where its due.

Night of the Living Dead (1990)

Night of the Living Dead 1990

Director: Tom Savini

Cast: Tony Todd, Patricia Tallman, Tom Towles, McKee Anderson, William Butler, Katie Finneran, Bill Moseley, Heather Mazur, David W. Butler

The unburied dead return to life and seek human victims. – IMDB

Night of the Living Dead remake is exactly what it is. Its definitely one of the most similar-to-the-original remakes that is out there. There isn’t a whole lot of differences other than the female character’s personality and the ending. I can see that the writers probably were on the same wavelengths at the time as they changed the two things that I didn’t enjoy as much from the original. Its a coincidence but then did the changes make the remake better than the original? In reality, the two actually score about the same for myself after having some time to mull over it.

See as the story is the same with very minor details being changed (aside from the ending that I will talk about later), the first point will be to talk about the change in the female character Barbara played by Patricia Tallman who I found much more engaging and fun to watch since she’s a stronger female lead who works together with Ben, played by Tony Todd. While I understand in the 60s, it was normal for women in the original to be damsel in distress, in the 90s its a different story that does work fairly well. With that said, Tony Todd is not just the Candyman and its nice to see him in this role (which I didn’t know about prior to the viewing) since he’s a decent actor and takes on the role pretty well. I actually did think the role of Harry was better portrayed in this one also. There are some bigger scenes with bigger moments as the characters try to survive.

If we take a look at the second significant change and that being the ending, the original might be a little more surprising than this one. This one was a tad predictable. While its a more acceptable ending for myself, is it really better than the original? That is really based on preference. In general, the remake is a decent one although there were some parts that had some scenes that were a little meh showing especially its age as well. Plus, perhaps its the fact that this one is in color that the flaws and eeriness of the zombies is less effective than its original. Its hard to not compare the two films seeing as its essentially the same movie but done in a different decade with a better developed cinematography and effects.

Train to Busan Presents: Peninsula (2020)

Peninsula (2020)

Peninsula

Director (and co-writer): Sang-ho Yeon

Cast:  Gang Dong-won, Lee Jung-hyun, Lee Re, Kwon Hae-hyo, Kim Min-jae, Koo Kyo-hwan, Kim Do-yoon, Lee Ye-won

Marine captain Jung-seok and his family escapes by ship which suddenly changes course to Hong Kong and ends up having a lower level outbreak that infects his sister and nephew, leaving him and his brother-in-law, Chul-min to escape in Hong Kong. Four years later, as they live poorly in Hong Kong with no status, the triad boss gives them a task to go retrieve money stuck in a truck in Incheon which was in transport during the zombie outbreak years ago and giving them a decent cut for their work if they get out alive with the loot. Jung-seok, Chul-min and two other Koreans end up taking this task and they find the truck fairly easily. As they plan to leave, a platoon ambushes them and triggers a massive wave of zombies. Jung-seok manages to be rescued by two sisters: Joon and Yu-jin who take him back to their hideout with their mother and  and grandfather. With the knowledge of a chance to leave Incheon, they decide to infiltrate the platoon’s camp to get back the truck and rescue Chul-min. 

Still set-2

Peninsula is a standalone sequel to Train to Busan. It is its own beast building on the post-apocalyptic world created from the previous movie. However, its important to remember that its a standalone and in many ways, an opposite experience from its predecessor, which has its pros and cons. Instead of a zombie horror film, Peninsula is more of an action film with zombies. There are more humans involved in the equation and its given up the straightforward concept in the first film to a movie with more moving parts. With that said, its hard to not compare the two as I’d wager that most people seeing this will be fans of Seoul Station and/or Train to Busan and have their own set of high expectations to meet. Whether this film lands or not will depend on how much you accept it. It does all the elements right and yet, there’s something a tad derivative that might not sit well for some. Due to more characters, it has has less space to develop memorable characters like the first film. With a standalone film, newcomers can come into this and shouldn’t have issues following the story. 

With that said,its best to see this as a standalone and come into this with fresh eyes and mind. Peninsula does a lot of the elements right. First and foremost, the cinematography is incredible. There are some scene set-ups showing the vast wasteland that Incheon has become over the course of 4 years from using the lighting appropriately to set the mood and in general, using light for its aesthetic as well as playing along with how zombies work in the Train to Busan world. The zombie scenes are the most outstanding of the film, with one scene when they first arrive in Incheon and traversing the place where the cross through that is a spine-chilling seen that comes to play in the end in a spectacular way. That aside, the zombies are used really well. Not quite as frequent but still making for a lot of good fight and escape scenes. The scenes at the platoon camp also adds a further dystopia element along with the rather familiar roles and events, however the rescue and retrieve mission is a good one. Suffice to say, the script had thought out a lot of the little details in these scenes and how its put together visually to be an engaging experience (even if it feels like a few of the plot points are familiar). 

Still set-1

The characters of Peninsula revolves around a few moving pieces. There’s ex-marine captain, Jung-seok (Gang Dong-won) who is no doubt the main character with his own inner struggle and with the most character depth and development. Gang Dong-won grasps the character fairly well even if he’s rather brooding and has rather little dialogue. The turning point of the film in terms of charming characters do go to the two sisters: older sister Joon (Lee Re) and Yu-Jin (Lee Ye-won). They bring in a level of wit and courage as Joon is a beast behind the wheel and Yu-jin is a strategic little girl with her rigged up flashy remote-controlled cars. They bring a lot of personality to the film with their appearance and what’s important is that they both still have a helplessness to them where they still feel in times of despair that they are still just kids. Of course, the character that plays their mother Min-jing (Lee Jung-hyun) also brings in a great performance. The character doesn’t have as much depth but does manage to bring some inner conflict to the whole situation. There are some surprises in some of these characters and supporting characters that do add to the film especially by the end. 

Overall, Peninsula is a well-crafted movie. Sure, its not as unique as the first one but what it has built with its post-apocalyptic world setting and the nature of their zombies gives it a lot of room to play around with. Where Peninsula might suffer is with the high expectations set from Train to Busan moving into this one, which is a completely different beast and in turn, easier to be disappointed (possibly). As a standalone, there’s a lot of standout elements and director Sang-ho Yeon does build a decent movie. Its a tad more complex and a lot more moving parts but there are little details that will be noticed that works by the end and makes sense. There are clever bits and some comedic bits, a few over the top characters and then there’s the well-choreographed action sequences with gun fights mostly (plus a car chase). If there’s one thing I didn’t talk about before, there are much more (unnecessary or over-emphasized) dramatic scenes in the veins of South Korean cinema that I’m not a huge fan of but that is also a personal preference. However, this director has one thread that links all three of the Train to Busan films and that is the conflicted main character which like I said before, is one of the great elements of this film as well. I can hate on this film but I have to say that standalone sequels always earns the film brownie points on my end at least. As a final thought, Peninsula might not be what was expected but I would love to see what else they can do with this zombie apocalypse setting especially if they move around different South Korean city as their story backdrop. 

Peninsula is currently in theatres, including IMAX, ScreenX and 4DX as of August 7, 2020

*Screener provided by Taro PR*

Blog Tour: Undead Ultra by Camille Picott (Review/Giveaway)

Undead Ultra
By: Camille Picott

thumbnail_Undead Ultra Cover

Publication Date: April 7, 2016
Genre: Science-Fiction/Post-Apocalypse/Zombies

We’re celebrating Zombie Awareness Monthwith a mini tour of Undead Ultra by Camille Picott! Read on for details, an exclusive excerpt, and a chance to win a $5 Amazon gift card!

Synopsis

It’s life or death…

…and two hundred miles to run.

Can she survive the zombies and save her son?

When the virus hits, nobody is prepared. Society collapses and Kate’s son doesn’t have a way out of his dorm. She has to go get him, but the roads aren’t safe, and the government has blockades.

Everything is at a standstill.

It will be the race of her life.

Kate loves running. She’s gone from marathons to ultramarathons and knows what it takes to run a hundred miles at a time, but this is different.

This is twice as far as she’s ever run…

…and finding food is a problem.

Is it even possible?

You’ll love this unique take on the apocalypse because the struggle is unlike anything you’ve read before.

Add to Goodreads

Review

 Zombie apocalypse stories are a bit overused in the current landscape whether its books (or movies). However, Undead Ultra takes on a different take from the fast-paced style to taking the characters on an ultramarathon of over 200 miles for these two running best friends to rescue their kids from their different locations as they realize that cars attract too much attention and are dangerous to use in the current zombie apocalypse world that has overrun the country. Packed with a lot of unknowns and their expertise in running and the limited supplies, they go on this insane run that tests them both mentally and physically to not only survive the length of the run and weather but also their biggest unknown factors, zombies.

There’s a lot to love about Undead Ultra. The execution of the whole story is done incredibly well. It balances the zombie threat in a myriad of different encounters as well as the limited amount of people they meet on this run, some good and some bad as well as sharing their own darker stories with each other that they may not have shared previously. At the same time, they strategize on supplies and the different phases that they go through during this ultramarathon, probably something that not a whole lot of people are incredibly familiar with in the first place. The zombie element brings in the bad ass character elements and builds the two characters as they harden to having to fight them. The story element gives both characters a lot of insight on their past and builds them up so that the readers can know them more and connect with them. The last element of ultramarathon is simply a survival element. Its both strategy as well as survival and sheds some light on the whole concept of ultramarathon and how tough it is and the mental exercise it really is. All of these balance well together to put together this thrilling run.

Undead Ultra features primarily the two characters, Kate and Frederico. Kate wants to go find her son Carter at his unversity where she has news and communication that he is still managing to stay alive but danger is moving closer and closer. She is the main voice of the story. However, her running companion and best friend Frederico is something of a rock and has his own hardships which include some alcohol abuse and trying to find his daughter on the way as well. These two characters have a lot of depth to them as the story unfolds further with each of their conversations and especially Kate’s memories of the past as well as Frederico’s recounts of his past. As they go through their ordeals, their characters build with the knowledge of their past as well as their present actions and decisions.

There’s a lot to love about Undead Ultra. Its a fun read and a page-turner. Its incredibly well-executed and has well-developed characters as well. While the zombie apocalypse landscape might seem familiar and there isn’t a lot to change about it, somehow the execution of sending the characters on foot for an ultramarathon-esque rescue mission is one that sounds crazy but makes all the difference in making this story stand out.

Goodreads Score: 5/5

Purchase Links

Amazon
UBL
Audible

About the Author

Camille Picott

Camille Picott has been writing Stories from the End of the World since she figured out how to turn on her family’s Apple IIe computer and wrangle a floppy disk into the drive. She loves nothing more than penning an epic action scene or pushing a character to his limits.

When Camille isn’t writing or spending time with her family, she loves to run absurdly long distances. It’s not unusual to find her hitting the trail in her running shoes long before the sun rises or cranking out miles (and stories!) on her treadmill desk. She considers sleep optional and largely overrated.

Visit Camille at www.camillepicott.com to sign up for her newsletter.

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Giveaway: $5 Amazon GC

Rafflecopter Link

Blog Tour Schedule

May 11th

Backshelf Books (Review) https://backshelfbooks.com/
Banshee Irish Horror Blog (Review) www.bansheeirishhorrorblog.com

May 12th

Reads & Reels (Spotlight) http://readsandreels.com
Tranquil Dreams (Review) https://klling.wordpress.com/

May 13th

Misty’s Book Space (Review) http://mistysbookspace.wordpress.com

May 14th

Cup of Books Blog (Review) https://cupofbooksblog.wordpress.com/
J Bronder Book Reviews (Review) https://jbronderbookreviews.com/

May 15th

Gemma’s Book Reviews (Review) http://www.gemmmasbookreviews.wordpress.com Read and Reviewed (Review) http://readandreviews.blogspot.com/
Jessica Belmont (Review) https://jessicabelmont.wordpress.com/

Blog Tour Organized by:

R&R Button

R&R Book Tours

Ultimate 2010s Blogathon: Train to Busan (2012) by John Rieber

The first guest review of Ultimate 2010s Blogathon is for 2016 South Korean zombie film, Train to Busan by John Rieber, who runs a blog under his own name. He covers a lot of really fun topics from movies, TV and all things pop culture along with spectacular food and travel. Its truly a wonderful one stop for a lot of variety of topics and he always has a nice and refreshing angle in how he shares it! Remember to stop by to check out his blog and give him a follow HERE.

Train to Busan

The Terrifying “Train To Busan” Is Now Departing!

Looking back at a decade of great cinema, I’m always interested in seeing films that take an established genre and bring something fresh to the table.  That is certainly the case with “Train To Busan”.

South Korean Director Sang-ho Yeon delivers a modern zombie classic, blending terrific action sequences with rich character development.  

I had heard about this 2016 South Korean thriller, but hadn’t gotten around to seeing it until recently – and it blew my mind!

Train to Busan” takes place as a zombie apocalypse suddenly breaks out in the country – and a group of train passengers must band together until they reach safety – hopefully – in the city of Busan…little do they know that there is no guarantee they will be let in, and the zombies on the train are multiplying!

zombies_train_to_busan.jpg

The characters are all terrific:  a Father, played by Gong Yoo, takes his small daughter back to his estranged wife – he chooses the train.  Su-an Kim plays the young girl, and her acting is terrific: she makes the most outrageous aspects of the zombie attack seem real.  Also on the train is Dong-seok Ma, who plays a beefy tough guy who must protect his pregnant wife, played by Yu-mi Jung.

Each character is fully realized without sacrificing any action, which begins shortly after the train departs.  As they are leaving this station, the young girl notices someone on the platform seemingly sick – then is shocked to have a bloody hand slam against the train’s window.  And they are off!

One of the most unique aspects of the film is how quickly someone can be killed and turned into a Zombie – and of course, one sick person manages to get on board the train, infecting the other passengers – so the pack just grows and grows and grows! 

In a world where the “coronavirus” exploded onto the world’s stage with sudden ferocity, watching the infected zombies multiply is even more sobering: and each train car takes drastic measures to try and keep the zombies out.

As the train hurtles toward Busan, the plot continues to evolve as the survivors dwindle and the zombie pack grows.  Each of the main characters are given an important plot point – and it’s a film that never lets up on the suspense. One of the best set pieces is when the Conductor stops at a station because he’s been told that the military is there…an incredible action sequence.

Train To Busan” has set a high bar for all zombie films to come, and one of the most exhilarating films of the 2010’s.


Thanks to John for his great review for this South Korean zombie film. Its definitely a wonderful choice as Train to Busan is also one of my top movies of this past decade.

Head over to Drew’s Movie Review to see the next guest review tomorrow!

You can find the list of reviews for the blogathon updated daily HERE.

Short Story: Zombie Beach by Anthony Renfro

If you missed the other reviews of the previous short stories in The Mike Beem Chronicles. You can check it out in the the following links:

Zombie Beach
By: Anthony Renfro

Zombie Beach

Part 1: Mike and Captain

On the Coast, Mike runs into an old Sea Captain and they form an instant bond. Mike learns of Captain’s boat, his son and daughter-in-law. Captain is desperate to get off Carolina Beach, but there is a problem (and it is a big problem) the town is swarming with zombies. Mike decides to help the old man fight his way through the hordes in order to gain safe passage on his boat.

Part 2: Mike and Myrtle Beach

Alone again. Mike finds an old motel on the South Carolina coast and decides to call it home. While rebuilding his life and motel he meets some new friends, fights off countless numbers of zombies, and settles into his new life by the sea.
Goodreads

Excerpt

Mike Beem lowered his rifle, put his right eye on the scope, and closed his left eye. The zombie he was about to shoot was an ugly sucker. He was currently hanging ten on a tall gigantic wave. The zombie surfer was riding a long board, wearing red flowered swimming trunks, and a tee shirt with a dirty smiley face on it. His shirt and shorts along with his thin long blonde hair were flapping in the breeze as he sailed down the wave at top speed.

Poof!

The zombies head exploded leaving only a ragged stump shooting blood up into the air. The headless body surfed for a moment or two before tumbling into the crashing wave.

“Why’d you do that?” A voice behind Mike asked, an older voice full of age and salty wisdom. He sounded like a man who had sailed the sea for most of his adult life.

Mike turned around to face him, lowering his rifle.

“Just saying, he wasn’t hurting anybody,” the old guy replied, leaning on a wooden cane with a silver metal ball on the top of it. His long white hair and soft white beard reminded Mike of his own granddad who had died when he was just a boy.

“I found this silencer, and I just wanted to try it out,” Mike replied, reloading his gun. “Besides, one dead zombie is one less zombie in this world as far as I’m concerned. Don’t care if it’s a threat or not.’”

“Got a name, son?”

“Mike Beem, you?”

“Most folks call me Captain, and I’m fine with it,” the old guy replied, as a cool blast of air pushed back his long hair. “Storm’s moving in. Going to be a nasty one.”

“I had the same feeling,” Mike replied, scanning the late afternoon sky filling up with grey storm clouds.

“That your truck?” Captain asked, nodding towards the 1955 Chevy.

“It was,” Mike replied, turning to face the machine, which was currently sitting perfectly positioned in a parking spot. Pieces of zombies where sticking out of the smoldering radiator, including one complete head with the eyes still looking around, mouth chomping away. “Parking lot was full of corpses. I had to get down to the beach somehow.”

“Guess so,” Captain replied, thinking this Mike guy wasn’t exactly all there. “How about a hot meal and a place to rest your head?”

Mike looked up and down the empty beach, across the decaying splintered boardwalk and the buildings now falling into disrepair. His decision was a quick easy one to make. “Sure, lead the way, Captain,” he replied, climbing down off the bench he’d been standing on. He slung the rifle over his shoulder, picked up his small bag of personal items, and then set off after the old man.

Review

If you haven’t read Mike Beem stories before, it usually adds a much more hopeful twist to the grim zombie apocalypse world. Mike Beem has lost a lot over the last few stories however he is a survival. His character is the pillar of these novels and he is written always as someone who is not only a hero but also very human and relatable. It is why its so engaging to read these stories. While Zombie Beach expands on the location with two parts and still has some charming characters, its hard to feel that that at some parts, it falls a little flat. Of course, those moments are never long, especially seeing as this is a short story however, with the comparison of the previous stories, this one lacks a little more depth perhaps its the fact that the circumstances are little more docile for the most part with only a few more action-packed moments. However, for the well-written characters especially the badass Mike Beem, this story (and all the previous ones) are totally worth your time.

Links

US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0736H6M52
UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0736H6M52
AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B0736H6M52
CA: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B0736H6M52

The Mike Beem Chronicles

the mike beem chronicles

If you want to check out all the Mike Beem stories in one book, this is the collection of the 6 stories.

US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0736DX4CS
UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0736DX4CS
AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B0736DX4CS
CA: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B0736DX4CS

Zombies, Vampires, Owls and Food!

This week’s personal post is totally going to be *almost* all about Halloween! Almost, ok? A few key events has happened this year which makes me somewhat excited about.  We’ll try to do this in as chronological order as possible 🙂 Lets get right to it since I need to head out for some overtime at work REALLY soon!

ranger-martin-and-the-zombie-apocalypse

First up, earlier this week, on October 22nd, a fellow blogger, Jack Flacco launched his novel about the Zombie Apocalypse and used a very witty and smart character called Ranger Martin.  I got to awesome chance to review it last week. If you didn’t get a chance to read my review of it, you can check it out HERE! If you think only my opinion isn’t enough, then you can check out the words of the rest of the review team HERE! Jack’s a great supportive blogger and if you need some reading material to go with the Halloween mood, this one is definitely a great choice for you and even your kids.

Second, on Wednesday or Thursday, I came home to a cute little package sunk into my mailbox and it turns out the Kickstarter project I had supported for a movie called Lord of Tears arrived in the mail.  I had took the pledge for the Signed DVD Collector’s Set with the soundtrack, I think.  It looks like this 🙂

20131022_190959

20131023_001645

Cool stuff, right? Its going into the Halloween marathon! I have a lot of stuff for the marathon coming up.  Maybe a few days of double reviews for Monday to Thursday.  Just a quick heads up for that! I’m on horror overcharge.  I’m going to try and kick up the intensity at the same time.  We’ll see how that goes 🙂

zombielol-1

Next up, I’m going to talk about a campaign right now for a giveaway in Tribesports to win some tickets for the Run For Your Lives race and some other goodies.  That looks totally cool although they don’t have it here in Montreal.  Closest for me is in Toronto.   They do have locations all over the place.

You can comment below with your best kickass zombie-training plan, Tweet @Tribesports with the hashtag #zombiesurvivalor comment on the Facebook post.

The instructions are over HERE. If you are into working out, Tribesports is an awesome supportive community and they even have some workouts targeted for the whole Zombie Apocalypse preparation.  How about it? I’m definitely getting some in and I’ll talk about it soon in my workout post.  Its never too soon to prepare for running away from some zombies, right?

Last thing that actually happened was last night, my friend got these certificates to eat at the Casino of Montreal for the buffet and all four of us feasted in a crazy way.  We almost had to roll down 5 flights of stairs and to the car.  Believe me, it was painful over potholes and the uneven highways.  It was some really delicious stuff.  Here’s a mix of my plates and some of my friends (especially dessert and crab legs for them).

I just realized that I didn’t take my 3rd plate which had Fried Shrimps, Lobster Claw and Garlic Shrimps and probably something else but I can’t remember.

How about a little update for my TV watching! The only thing I watched this week was Vampire Diaries and I find it pretty good.

vampire-diaries-season-5-poster-lead

Don’t click on that picture.  This was taken from the Hollywood life site.  I just liked this poster a lot for the Season 5 Vampire Diaries.

Okay, I’m really late already! Apparently, writing posts are time-consuming.  Who would have thought that, right?

Lets end with some awesome music! Nothing Halloween though, I haven’t found it yet, but there was a really cool Disney Medley from two very talented artists on Youtube.

Not the end yet! I just remembered that my boyfriend took some awesome vids of last weekend’s excursion.  One is at the pet store.  Our conversation is hilarious since it was the first time he used his new phone to record a video.

Kim = smartass…yes, I know 😉

Then, later that day, we had my piano practice and my cat getting all excited.  Its pretty cute!

Hope that put a smile to your face! I know I had a good laugh out of it!

Have a great weekend everyone! Stay awesome! 🙂

Book Review: Ranger Martin and the Zombie Apocalypse by Jack Flacco

As weird as there’s only two book reviews that stand out in that section according to my WordPress stats, I was given the opportunity of reviewing the advanced copy of fellow blogger, Jack Flacco’s debut novel, Ranger Martin and the Zombie Apocalypse. It will be launched on October 22.  As late as this review may be due to some technical difficulties on my alarm not ringing, I had to read this over the last two days.  I love the world of zombies and even though, I don’t read a tremendous amount of it, I do enjoy watching zombie flicks a lot. Very much like Jack in THIS POST, I may not have hated zombies (unlike Jack) but my love for zombie flicks did start with 28 Days Later also.  Over the years, I’ve watched Dawn of the Dead (remake), 28 Weeks Later, Zombieland and the most recent World War Z. The list goes on but those are some of my favorites.

Ranger Martin and the Zombie Apocalypse is about an Oklahoma shotgun wielding man who is determined to figure out what started this zombie apocalypse and how to end it.  He is teamed up at a military silo with a teenage boy he saved that he nicknamed Wildside.  Wildside is not ordinary either, he has some very nifty skills, one in particular that could be very useful but also extreme.  Along the way, he picks up siblings, older sister Matty and her younger brother Jon who had been wandering by themselves.  Later on, another teenage boy joins them in the attempt to save the world from the zombie apocalypse.  This boy, Randy, is special as he escaped from a prison where he was possibly put there for a specific reason due to the belief from the military that he is the saviour. However, nothing can be sure as when he woke up in that prison, he had also lost his memory prior.  As each have their own reasons to join together to figure out how the apocalypse started and why they want to end it, they all know one thing for certain, it was going to be one where they had to fight to stay alive.

I’m quite inexperienced when it comes to zombie novels.  The only ones I’ve read prior to this one is Warm Bodies, which I reviewed earlier this year.  There is nothing to compare to for me however, Ranger Martin and The Zombie Apocalypse is an engaging read.  There were some parts that felt a bit lengthy here and there but the down times were never long enough to make it slow.  Its a good debut for Jack.

There are a few things that I liked about the book

First of all, I liked a lot that its beginning wasn’t overly descriptive in a way that it was a drag (which happens a lot).  It was a fun way to introduce us to all the characters and what generally brought them together.  Because its from a third person, we see how everyone interacts and their reactions instead of just one person’s view and that works really well for how the story pans out.

Second, we get a good idea of the contrast of the personality and the value their abilities have to make this a good team.  Definitely its a team with their own sets of problems and kinks they need to work out but with Ranger Martin’s over the top entrances powered by his anger towards the situation, the tough and protective Matty who protects her brother Jon from growing up before he actually has to amidst the situation and the two teenage boys.  We get emotional clashes and bonds that develop and that brings on character development.

Third is what I mentioned on the top, the book has quite a bit of intense action especially in the last few chapters.  However, aside from it being very much action, in a way that you feel like you are reading a movie.  Jack’s writes in a way where I had an easy time picturing and seeing in my mind what was really going down.  Its a pretty fun experience for the most part and especially in most situations, we always have Ranger Martin bringing in some witty smartass comment to loosen up the intensity sometimes.

How about it? Halloween book review featured a novel written by one of our very own about zombies.  Jack does a great job in this first novel and I urge you to grab a copy when its released on October 22 (thats next Monday!).  I promise it’ll be fun! I read this over 2 days and there were many times I didn’t even want to put it down, not because of time constraint to get this review up but because it just had so much action going on. I loved it and totally recommend it! 🙂

Book Review: World War Z by Max Brooks

My original intention was to finish reading World War Z before the movie hit theatres, however, that simply didn’t happen.  There were many reasons that I decided to see the movie without finishing the book, the main one being that the adapted version had about 10% correlation to the book.  If you happened to miss the review, you could check it out HERE! Moving on…

world war z by max brooksWorld War Z by Max Brooks is about the aftermath of the world surviving this zombie apocalypse.  The story is written as the person (Max Brooks) who interviews many of the men and women who witnessed it first hand in different countries with different backgrounds, contributing and taking advantage to or of the situation as it happened.  In their stories, we see the underlying social, economic, technological, political, etc issues.  The interviews and stories are separated in the phases of this war the almost ended humanity, from the warnings to the blaming, the panic, how it evolved in USA and then relating it to all around the world and eventually the way it ended, so to say, revealing the world they lived in as everyone rebuilds their life and many situations are reversed.

What started as a rather slow buildup in the beginning caught on slowly as each story progressed in their way and in their own direction. I supposed it was intended to be like that as in recounting the early stages of the zombie apocalypse and the warnings was slower.  It also reflects on the issues of ignorance.  The warnings were ignored and many eventually in the next part blamed it on the government or leaders, whichever organization for not acting at the correct time which would have possibly prevented this from happening or at least nipped it in the bud before it became a worldwide pandemic.

There was one part where I felt (as a Canadian) that there was a very pessimistic view of the American value.  I just wonder if an American reading this would feel that Max Brooks had a very strong feeling of hatred towards the population’s tendency to be self-centered and ignorant because for a few stories in the section of blame that was what I read between the lines.  However, those parts were also the ones that peaked my interest in the whole book from there.  However, if you think about it, many times we live our own lives and ignore a lot of issues going on around us until it is too late so maybe he was just using one population to reflect how many common people would react to a situation like this if it were to occur.

For the most part, this book was very intriguing.  The way it was set up was also very good.  The only issue I had was as I got to the end, I couldn’t remember the names anymore and in the last section when some of the previously interviewed men and women were saying their final parts and what they got out of this war, I had to flip back to the front and look at the countries and recheck their story to not be confused with what they would say.  That was slightly frustrating.  If it had an index or table of contents of the countries, that would’ve helped.  Just saying…maybe a lot of other people have better memory than me, but sometimes, after reading 30 different stories over 2 weeks, it gets a bit hard to recount it.

Overall, a great concept and an interesting read.  It spread through the worldwide spectrum and reflected the urgency and desperate situation that the zombie apocalypse brought and the different ways people fought it in different countries.  The majority of the stories were ones that would tug the heartstrings or make you sympathize or connect with the character, some other ones would make you wince in anger at the negative effects and how some people still was too selfish to see the big picture and many times causing it to be worse.  Its an eye-opener in general of human nature when put in the most gravest danger.

I gave it 4 of 5 stars in Goodreads but honestly, maybe it was more of a 3.5 (but I like to round up).  🙂

Have you read this before? How did you feel about it?

Book Review: Warm Bodies by Isaac Marion

My Goodreads Review: Warms Bodies is a love story.  Something like zombie version of Romeo and Juliet where its forbidden love.  One because the main character R is a zombie.  We read this book in his perception.  The things he observes and how he progresses.  How he views Julie, the girl that he gets drawn to.  Its not that I didn’t like this book.  I actually enjoyed it and made me wonder what would happen next in tense moments.  These tense moments helped me forget about the questions revolving around the foundation of this story.  It felt like there were consistencies in R being the narrator of this, that sometimes would bother me.  When I did turn off those questions, the story turned out to be quite compelling. Overall, shut off your brain and what you have been exposed to as a zombie and read this book. You will find some enjoyment in Marion’s imaginary world.  

warm bodiesWarm Bodies by Isaac Marion is a zombie love story.  Its set in a world where there is really nothing left.  War and other global crisis has caused the world to deteriorate.  All that is left is a small group of humans trying to stay alive among a world infested by a plague.  In this location, its set where they live in a Stadium and have different areas of their “army” to keep everyone safe, fed and alive from the zombies that now walk the land in different areas. The zombies live in their different hives along with Boneys which are fully deteriorated corpses: skeletons.  They have a control over them.  We get introduced to “R” who is a zombie.  He doesn’t remember his past but he also dislikes being called a zombie although he has no feelings and senses.  He does have a best friend, “M” and they carry on broken conversations here and there.  Most other zombies just groan and stare.  One day, when they go into the city to look for food:(humans to feed on), they run into a group of people. R ends up killing a young soldier, Perry, and when he eats his brain, he dives into his memories.  There he sees the life of Perry and his girlfriend Julie.  After he stops seeing those snippets from that bite, he sees Julie getting attacked and he saves  and abducts her to the abandoned airport where his hive is.  During this time with Julie, they learn more about each other and slowly R develops more skills in talking and eventually, an increasing ability to feel emotions.  When something happens and Julie decides to leave, R accompanies her to protect her.  Along the way, to protect him from her father she leaves him behind.  In desperation, R goes after her with the help of M, who had helped them escape the airport.  R then disguises as a human and walks into the stadium to find Julie.  Their reunion brings on something that changes everyone around them.

If I could use one word to describe this book, it’d use the word: bizarre.  Its a new way to see the world of zombies.  Zombies are the walking dead, but point is, they are dead.  Their hearts have stopped, they don’t breathe, they don’t eat except for human flesh.  All this is because of a plague.  So that means they can cure it.  They can revive the dead or at least thats the goal, right?

This book is first person narration by the main character R.  He is a zombie but sometimes, I feel like being the description that Marion first gives of him is that he doesn’t have feelings and he doesn’t know who he is or what he is.  But then, there are also contradictions in my mind.  Because he knows how to describe that ingesting food tastes like Styrofoam.  But how does he know what styrofoam is? He knows how to listen to music and work a record player and he can talk broken words.  On top of that, he seemed to know all this before he met Julie, who is supposedly the spark that starts the whole zombie revolution or is it evolution? Somehow in this world, the Boneys are super intelligent dead who somehow understand the concept of having a church, of marriage, and of educating the younger zombies.  To me, that’s bizarre.  The dead can barely talk and most of them have no idea what they are doing except for the instinctive urges they get to feed, but somehow they know how to do this.  They care about preserving the plague the way it is and keep the zombies as they are.

Pretty much, what I’m saying is that, when I was able to tuck away all the logical questions my brain kept firing out at the beginning, it was an enjoyable story.  It is a unique concept and its pretty good one also.  You just have to be able to buy that love can conquer all.  That it can help revive your soul.  I really tried to keep this not too revealing of the story.  There is a really weird twist that I won’t mention but it does give this story a bit more reason as it progresses.  I do recommend reading this because it is a very different from the zombie story we have seen in movies(or maybe even books but this is the first zombie book I’ve ever read so I can’t really comment).

Have you read this? Heard of it? How about the movie coming out in February (I think)? Will you go to see it?