Why we love zombies.

One look at me leads many people believe that since I’m a writer I must write romantic

Some rights reserved by Jem Yoshioka
Some rights reserved by Jem Yoshioka

comedies, or ultra-heavy drama making a searing statement on society. Nobody guesses that I’m actually a huge horror and sci-fi buff, and therefore focus my writing in these areas.  “Write what you know”, they say – and I do. Haven grown up on a steady diet of all things Stephen King with “Best Of” sci-fi almanacs for dessert, I know my stuff.  With all this goodness coursing through my blood (and guts) I found myself wondering “why do people love horror movie so much – and beyond that – zombie movies”?

I’ve heard the theory that horror movies are an audience’s way of virtually enacting the violent scenes on screen within the safe confines of their living room.  I have to say I’m not too keen on this one.  For one thing, when I watch a movie like the current EVIL DEAD reiteration I’m not wishing I were the one doing the killing.  “It’s subconscious!” You say. “Bah” I say, that ridiculous. I don’t love to see people die in any movie (unless I can’t stand that character!). Maybe that’s why I prefer a masterfully spun tale of horror such as THE SHINING, or MISERY, over the FINAL DESTINATION series, or worse yet the SAW movies, but I don’t think so.  While I’m sure that there are many people (especially hormonally charged teenaged boys) that love a good slasher solely for the body count (the more gruesome the better) I think the love of these movies resides even deeper.

I’ve also heard the theory that we are experiencing our greatest fears in a safe way in order to subconsciously gain control over them.  It’s the same theory that pervades the love of rollercoasters and haunted houses. We love to be scared – but only if we know it’s really safe.  This is the same reason Hollywood loves a happy ending. After our hero (or heroine) survive the – insert horrible killer here – we like to know they’re finally safe, because in essence we are them.  We have fought against, and survived the serial killer/deformed nuclear-charged monster/human trafficker and come out the other end stronger and wiser, all from the safe confines of our popcorn strewn seat.

Science- ahem, I meant: SCIENCE tells us this is true in part. Watching, dreaming about, or playing video games about situations puts our brains through a mental jungle-gym though which we experience the situation, and learn from it, almost as if it were real. In particular I think that zombies illustrate one of man-kinds worst fears: that everyone has turned against us, and forces us to face that fear, at least in practice.

I also think that the love of zombies go far beyond the need to be faux-scared and practice survival.  I think that the love of zombies taps into our dissatisfaction of the everyday grind.  Even if you love your job, love your house (with the huge mortgage) and love your kids (with college expences looming) they can seem like a yoke around the neck for many people, even during the best of times.  A zombie apocalypse is as attractive as any other apocalypse to the tired masses – it’s a get out of jail free card from oppressive debt, pain in the ass neighbors, and the prison of middle management.  It’s a golden opportunity to REALLY start over again.  We all have pioneers and explorers in our DNA, or we never would have made it out of Africa hundreds of thousands of years ago; a zombie apocalypse is just what we need to exercise those genes again – at least for the duration of the movie or TV show.

Finally zombies represent something even more deeply rooted in our psyches then the need to escape every day mediocrity.  They embody the same fear and distrust of others that form the basis of sectarianism, but now in a new and more palatable foe.  The only other faction that can be so universally hated and not leave a bad taste in your mouth are Nazis.  But Nazis, as reviled as they are, are outdated.  With zombies we can once again band together in our hatred for an adversary and no one feels guilty for killing.  It’s a simple us against them formula where there is no redeeming quality for the bad guys to fall back on, and there never will be.  We have absolution for our hatred and bigotry. We’ve finally found an expectable way to express our hardwired evolutionary dislike of other groups without offending anyone, or running the risk of discovering that they are just people, exactly like us.

With all this psycho-babble voodoo hoodoo surrounding the love of zombies it seems nearly impossible not to love the.

So say we all.  😉

 

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Spring Breakers Vs. Jurassic Park

Last night my husband and I had a debate: Should we see JURASSIC PARK in 3D or SPRING BREAKERS?  In a previous life this decision wouldn’t have been that big of a deal.  If we saw one film now, we could see the other one later in the week, or even the next night, if we really wanted.  Since having the baby however, it’s become a production to spend an evening without him.

Grandma came over to babysit, we stuffed our faces with an early dinner, and we rushed out the door to make show time.

I’d voted for JURASSIC PARK but my husband really wanted to see SPRING BREAKERS.  I was on the fence about SB as the trailers hadn’t peaked my interest, but I did like KIDS, which was also written by the same guy, Harmony Korine, who incidentally directed SB.  To add to that, I’ve already seen JURASSIC PARK a million and a half times, and I saw it as a child on the big screen.  I’m also not keen on 3D movies as I find them hard on the eyes and the 3D to be underwhelming (thanks a lot SPACE DANCES WITH WOLVES AVATAR).  To put a final nail in the coffin my JURASSIC PARK pick, last time Grandma stayed with baby we watched IDENTITY THIEF, and that pretty much sucked (sorry Jason Bateman)– so Spring Breakers it was.

Although it had many interesting aspects I ultimately left the theatre wishing that I had been in the presence of tried and true dinosaurs. Oh what a longing for flesh ripping velocaraptors and the fine touch of Stephen Speilberg’s direction. If there is one directing style I hate, and that SB gratuitously used, it’s the faux grittiness of out of focus, unframed shots and camera angles so close to the subjects that I feel like I’m picking their noses.  In my humble opinion not only is this style overused but it’s also the lazy mans way to give a “real” feel and try to bring the audience closer to the characters.  It’s a great style to use sparingly by a director that knows its merits and, more importantly, when to rein it in, but a horrible style to shoot an entire movie in when used badly.

To add to the misery of feeling suffocated by the shots was the first half of the movie in its entirety. Talk about boring!  I’m not adverse to T&A but only a 14-year-old boy could appreciate the onslaught of booty shots and bouncing bare breasts.  I wasn’t offended, just bored.  And that’s really the essence of the entire first half.  Slow and boring with lot, and lots, and lots, of T&A in place of plot and character development.

The first half could (and should) have been told within the first 10-15 minutes and the character, Faith, was a needless distraction from the rest of the Girls Gone Wild video movie.  I’m still left wondering why her role was even needed.  It could’ve been completely lost by the side of the highway and made no difference to the direction of the plot, or roundness (or lack there of) of the characters.  The movie only became interesting after the introduction of James Franco’s character, Alien, and loss of the Faith.  Incidentally I had lost my faith in the movie being any good by this point as it was painfully past redemption.

If a movie bombs the first half, no matter how good the second half is, it’s still a Fail in my book.  That being said, there were still some interesting qualities to the flick.  James Franco’s performance was an obvious highlight, but there were also a few very engaging scenes.  I’ll point out two of them.

There’s a scene that is exceptionally directed which is when the girls rob the fast food restaurant.  The choice to shoot the scene from the perspective of the get away car was not only genuinely original (at least I’ve never seen it before) but also nicely stylized.  Another great scene was when the girls and Alien were on his bed together and he gave a blowjob to the guns they were holding.  This scene is an example of how the claustrophobic and in-your-face directing style actually worked (for a little while).

My final statement on this movie is that it was a thought provoking commentary on the disturbing trend of entitlement, a generation of sociopaths, and an obsession with material goods.  It’s too bad this theme wasn’t further explored in favor of overbearing montage scenes of the excesses of spring breakers and a lost attempt to make the film “feel” authentic.

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Welcome Back

I’d like to give myself an official welcome back!  I’ve been gone for quite awhile but now I’m back in the saddle.  I’m also pleased to announce the reason for my long stay away:  my new bundle of joy, my first born, the fruit of my loins:

CALEB COLDWELL WAHL

That’s right! Having carried to term and birthed forth my darling baby boy, I am now ready to dive back, headfirst, into my writing.

As anyone with children can imagine the pregnancy and getting ready for baby quickly took over my life.  I had little time for anything else, let alone time enough time to sit down at the computer and blog out my thoughts on writing and the film industry.  While I doubt I’ll ever have the time I did, life has returned to a semblance of normal.  The baby is sleeping through the nights finally, and I have a bit of extra time that I can dedicate to weekly (hopefully) posts.

That all being said I will be making a few changes.  I will not be reserving this blog for only writing related thoughts – going forward I will use it to write about whatever I think is interesting, but admittedly it will most likely focus on film.

Finally, I’d like to introduce a second blog that I write.  This one is not a personal blog, it’s company that I write for, but it’s another aspect of life I’m passionate about: health.  The company: BoneBlast, is new and the  flagship product will soon be officially released. The website is not 100% complete yet, but my blogs are being posted with some regularity.  Once BoneBlast gets it’s feet under it you will see two health related blog posts a week from yours truly.

Check it out here: (the posts with my name are the ones I wrote!)

BoneBlast Health Blog

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Z v G & Writers v Amazon Studios

There are few things that I like more then zombie flicks; wait, let me rephrase:  good zombie flicks, which is why I always have my ear to the ground in search of the next great flesh-eating entertainment buzz.  Lately there has been a lot of this buzz surrounding the new film-to-be Zombies Vs. Gladiators.  I even saw an article about it in one of my go-to horror mags: Fangoria.  But, what sounds like great fun on the screen may actually be a real life nightmare and cautionary tale for writers.

Amazon Studios has well been on my “possibly a scam” list since they first tried to reinvent the metaphorical studio wheel.  What in theory seemed like a great way to circumvent the nepotism in the studio system and get a movie made, in actuality may be a great way to take advantage of writers (it’s all in the fine print baby). This thought seems to be underscored in this week’s goings-ons with Zombies Vs. Gladiators.

The original script for this movie was originally shopped around town by writers Gregg Ostrin & Michael Weiss.  Now, I have not read the script myself, which is available to read here if you are so inclined, but it was turned down by every studio and the word is, it was for good reason.  Fast forward a bit and the script was submitted in 2010 to Amazon Studios in a last ditch effort to get it made.

Once the script was uploaded it was contractually obligated to grant Amazon a free 18 month option period, among other things.  At the end of this option period Amazon had the provision to renew for another 18 month at a $10,000 price tag.  If the script were to win the monthly or yearly script contests the writers would be paid a $200k prize purchase price.  Zombies Vs. Gladiators did not win either.  Now I’m no lawyer but this pretty much leaves Amazon exempt from paying the $200k purchase price, while legally allowing them to develop and shoot the scripts, potentially distributing and profiting from a movie they barely paid for.

Amazon put the script out for their public rewrite contest.  Ultimately this contest was won by writer Lauri, who was one of several writers that did a free page one rewrite.  Assumable Laura was paid the $10,000 prize for her rewrite, and now Amazon has signed on horror legend Clive Barker to do yet another rewrite, and to direct the flick.  You can be sure he signed on for REAL money, not prize money.

If you look over the press releases for Z vs G you will not find one mention of the original writers, whether on Amazon’s page or on third party pages such as Ain’t It Cool News.  Not only this, but you have to wonder, will the original writers ever be paid a purchase price, and moreover, will they, at the very least receive a “Story By” credit?   They certainly aren’t receiving any credit now.

This all makes me very nervous.  A big conglomerate like Amazon has a heck of a lot of power, and lawyers to back it up.  Many question loom in my mind but maybe the biggest is, what if the original script, and the final script are nothing alike with the exception that gladiators fight zombies.  We could make twenty movies like this and they would all be completely, and more importantly, LEGALLY different.  If this happens, do Gregg Ostrin and Michael Weiss get any credit or pay?  As a writer THIS is what I find truly bone-chilling…. And I write horror movies!

Now, I wonder, what do Gregg and Michael think about all this?  It seems as though they are hoping (or praying) for the best.  On the Amazon Z vs G forum Michael posted this: “We are excited and hope (that) Clive (takes) it to the next level.”

Overall I think this situation should be closely watched and used as a cautionary tale to anyone thinking of submitting to Amazon Studios.  The only bonus I can see is that Gregg and Michael may be getting more exposure then they would have otherwise, especially if the original script is as awful as everyone says it is.  I guess the true question is, is this the exposure they want?  “Our script was so awful every studio turned it down and it needed several page one rewrites?”  Maybe… there are a lot of hack writers with careers.  I ask you though, is it worth the risk if you’re not a hack?

 

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Dr. Who – Script to Screen

One of my favorite series on TV right now is Doctor Who.  It plays on BBC America and if you haven’t watched an episode you are certainly missing out.   I remember when I was young and my parents would watch Doctor Who; but back then I could not truly appreciate the complex characters and the labyrinth of story lines (not to mention that I really didn’t dig the whole phone booth thing).  Now-a-days I find the show to be highly entertaining and intriguing; it has come a long way from my first experiences with the Doctor.

The show is now in it fifth version of the series with the eleventh incarnation of the Doctor (bye David Tennant, I’ll miss you, helllllo Matt Smith!).  Don’t let this confuse you if you’ve never seen it.  The Doctor, is a time/parallel universe traveling alien in human form that regenerates if he is killed (hence the different actors).  The show is also the longest running Sci-fi show in history (it’s even in the Guinness Book of World Records) and it has racked up an enormous amount of awards for both it special effects and outstanding programming.

What is really fun about the show is that the current version is not a remake of the original but a continuation.  This means new and old fans can enjoy it alike.   Whilst I could not appreciate it in my formative years, I think now that my favorite part of the current show is its campy over the top acting, awesome (and sometimes cheesy) special effects, and makeup ingenuity.  I also love the fact that the show does not take itself too seriously, and that it is one of the few shows I feel has true heart.

I am very excited to see the new season but a little bummed the show runners decided to hold off awhile on it.  The only reason?  Why to build anticipation of course.

To whet the appetite even more a short film was released recently as part of the Script to Screen children’s contest.  It’s fun, a plug for the 2012 Olympics, and a great way to introduce a new generation to the overwhelming awesomeness of Dr. Who (even if this short is a little goofy, even for the Doctor) and I think a contest like this is great!

Congratulations Rebecca, Emily, and Libby (no last names given because they’re kids for gosh-sakes!) from Ashdene Primary School in Wilmslow.  You’ve done a great job!

Rebecca, Emily, and Libby with Matt Smith and Karen Gillan
Rebecca, Emily, and Libby with Matt Smith and Karen Gillan

 

Awwww… how cute!  I’d probably count myself as lucky if I could get a job working for these fine young ladies one day!

If you’d like to see the script they wrote in action check out the awesome Dr. Who short below.  Enjoy!

 

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MY HUSBAND ON THE PRESS CIRCUIT

To promote Webdultey’s Toronto premier Charles has been hitting the radio and TV circuit.  Check out all these fun interviews!

Newstalk 1010 – Charles talks movies with Bern Eulerk & Richard Crouse.   If you didn’t catch the broadcast a podcast is available.  Their segment comes in at about 18:30.

Charles @ Innerspace
Charles @ Innerspace

Innerspace – See Charles be interviewed by @SPACEchannel to promote Webdultery as a part of a feature to promote the Canadian Film Fest.  Airs tomorrow on Space.  Don’t worry I’ll post a video as soon as it’s available!

102.1 THE EDGE – Charles goes on the air live to talk about Webdultery at 3pm this Wednesday.  Don’t forget to tune in!

I’LL KEEP YOU UPDATED WITH MORE TO COME!

 

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NAKED GAMES

Generally I reserve my blog for writing related topics only, but today I will bend that somewhat flexible rule.

I would like to present to you the “Naked Games” video promo for Dirty Deeds.  Directed by my husband Charles Wahl, they are already getting massive attention, and were even the top feature in Shots magazine.

Charles Wahl - featured in Shots
Shots magazine

 

Amazing!  And this is only the first set.  For the next little while a new video will come out every Monday.  There is a censored version and uncensored version for each video, and both versions are great and have their own merits.  The catch is, enough people have to share the censored version to unlock the uncensored version.

Lucky for you I have access to both versions of the first video.  Enjoy!

Dirty Deeds – Uncensored

Dirty Deeds – Censored

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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