THE WALKING DEAD walks into Dumb Movie Land

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Movies make people dumb.

Not the people watching movies, unless that movie happens to be TWILIGHT: BREAKING DAWN PART 5 or whatever, in which case yes, your LSAT scores will never be the same.

No, I’m talking about characters in movies.

Characters in books sometimes do stupid things, but not usually. Put that same character in a movie and they turn into absolute idiots.

This is true for romantic comedies (bumbling fools in love!), action movies (no henchman can shoot, and no heroine or sidekick can avoid getting kidnapped by the villain) and especially horror movies, which deserve a post all their own.

If a person with a functioning brain cell rattling around their skull wouldn’t go into the spooky abandoned house where people keep disappearing, you can bet the movie character will march right in. Does the hot young teenager know that a serial killer is chasing down and killing hot young teenagers? Well, she should definitely wear high heels and fall down six times while the psycho chases her.

There are websites dedicated to listing the stupid things that movie characters do.

However: I want to pick on THE WALKING DEAD, a zombie shebang that’s on the Glowing Tube.

As a fan of zombies, I am aware of this show, and though I haven’t watched every flipping episode, I kinda keep track of things by recaps and reviews and such. It’s a good show and not at all stupid.

So why did a smart show have their characters get so idiotic in the big series finale?

Here’s the setup: the non-zombie hero peoples are holed up at some farm, and the big finale is a battle that happens when the zombies show up, en masse.

What made me want to throw things at the YouTube clip is how the zombies happily marched across the fields and surrounded the farmhouse.

No, no, no.

If you or I are hanging around a farmhouse during the zombie apocalypse, the zombies won’t ever march up on us from every direction. Why? Because we’ll get busy, real quick, using all the tools and equipment that any decent farm has the second we arrive there and take inventory of the place.

First thing we do is fire up the tractor or backhoe and dig a long ditch around the farm.

Second thing we do shove the dirt we dug up into a berm, a rough wall. So they fall in the ditch, and if by some zombie magic one of the undead gets out of the ditch, he’s gotta climb a wall.

Third thing we do is put a barbed wire fence on top of that berm.

Fourth thing we do is find some fuel and make Molotov cocktails.

If there’s a working tractor, this sort of thing takes a day or two.

And it’s worth it, because now a single Farmer Joe type with a flipping .22 rifle can stand on top of that berm and pick off zombies all day while he sips moonshine. Because there’s no way a horde of zombies is magically getting past the ditch, the wall and the barbed wire. It’s not happening.

Zombies can’t climb.

Instead, the heroes of THE WALKING DEAD go on foot (to get nom-nom-nommed) and drive around in cars trying to blow away zombies. Which isn’t smart, either. Shooting from a moving vehicle may look cool, but you have a much better chance of hitting a moving target when you’re not bouncing around, too.

Bottom line: If you really want to survive a horror movie / zombie apocalypse, please use your noggin first and your trigger finger second.

JUAN OF THE DEAD, the epic Cuban zombie movie

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Zombie movies are inherently good.

Movies with subtitles are typically depressing and bad, and only watchable when you’re in college and think that French existentialism is amazing, that you should wear a black beret and smoke Gallouise Blondes the rest of your life, which will be spent in a cafe in Paris, sipping coffee and eating pan au chocolat as you discuss politics and philosophy with other intellectuals, never mind the fact that YOU DON’T SPEAK FRENCH.

There are two exceptions to the Law of Subtitles.

The first is DEAD SNOW, a Norwegian movie that isn’t just about zombies (yes!) but Nazi zombies (double yes!).

The second exception is JUAN OF THE DEAD, a Cuban zombie movie that isn’t afraid to pile on the craziness.

As a public service, if you haven’t seen DEAD SNOW, here’s that trailer, too.

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This is Guy Bergstrom the writer, not the Guy Bergstrom in Stockholm or the guy in Minnesota who sells real estate or whatever. Separate guys. Kthxbai.
Guy Bergstrom. Photo by Suhyoon Cho.

Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller that won some award (PNWA 2013). Represented by Jill Marr of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.

Surviving the coming zombie apocalypse

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Are you prepared?

The zombies hordes are coming. It’s just a matter of time. Maybe not today, though it is Halloween. It could happen next month, when some egomaniac scientist at a giant pharmaceutical company creates a retro-virus that cures cancer, and death, with the little side effect of turning you into the walking dead.

Preparing for the zombie apocalypse can be fun and useful. Having a stockpile of basics like food, water filters and ammunition will serve you well if (a) giant asteroids smash into Australia and turn the planet into a snowglobe, (b) some idiot dictator decides to start playing global thermonuclear war or (c) the bird flu makes sweet love to the swine flu and turns into the 99 Percent of People on Earth are Dead Flu.

(Click over here to read Zombie movies are NOT standard horror movies. Then come on back for more deep, intellectual pondering of zombie flicks.) Continue reading “Surviving the coming zombie apocalypse”

Epic Black Car deserves good owner; are you worthy?

2002 Hyundai Elantra simply refuses to die. Comes in any color you want, as long as it’s black. Invisible at night. Unflinching in the rain. This automobile eats gas and spits out miles.

Automatic transmission and cruise control, with airbags out the wazoo.

Comes with an Obama bumper sticker and Smith & Wesson wheel grips, both removable, by why? It’s already perfect for a liberal who packs heat and needs cheap, reliable transportation. You can roll down the window and drive with one hand as you shoot zombies, if there are zombies to be shot, and you can do it IN THE SNOW, because for some reason, the Epic Black Car flies over snow with total control.

zombie animated gif

History

This auto has travelled 165,000 miles without a major hiccup. That’s like circling the world a bunch of damn times without exploding.

It was lovingly constructed in 2002, right when Hyundai stopped making crap and started producing cars just as reliable as Toyotas, but without the extra feature of uncontrollable acceleration to 8.35 gazillion miles per hour, followed by a rousing smash against a highway underpass. (Note: I’ve owned Toyotas and this problem seems to be fixed. Carry on.)

The Epic Black Car can hit 8.35 gazillion miles an hour in a controlled fashion and bring you to a nice gentle stop, because it has new tires and brake pads, and because it likes you, unlike other cars that try to kill you like a horse bucking off a rider or a bull shark biting your body in half, when all you’re doing is swimming along in a black wetsuit that makes you look exactly like a seal.

Standard features

It’s got a stereo with CD player and speakers that go to 11, air conditioning for the four days a year that it’s hot in the Pacific Northwest and wiper blades and a unique waterproof ROOF for the other 361 days when it rains.

It’s got bucket seats and floor mats, a glove box that nobody puts gloves in and a cigarette lighter thing that does not light cigarettes, because this car doesn’t want you dying of lung cancer. Instead of dealing in death, the cigarette lighter magically gives life to iPhones and Droids and laptops.

Four doors. Four cup-holders, including two secret ones in the back, James-Bond style. A trunk capable of storing thousands of rounds of ammunition or cases of fine Spanish and Italian wine you picked up at Trader Joe’s for six bucks a bottle because you’re not some nancypants dipstick who drives a Porsche 911 and tells everybody he won’t drink wine that costs less than $120 a bottle.

Power windows. Power steering. Power whatever-you-want.

Asking price

The Kelly Blue Book proclaims that the Epic Black Car is worth $2,955.

I don’t know who Kelly is, or why his book is blue, but he insults the honor and integrity of this humble, hard-working car, which took me to Olympia and back, five days a week, often with the Gas Empty light on, for eight years.

It never complained. It never ran out of petro, no matter how hard I tried. It never blew a tire and left me stranded ten miles west of nowhere, also known as Elma.

The Epic Black Car — like the Dude from The Big Lebowski — abides.

Logging trucks tried to kill it by kicking boulder-sized rocks at the windshield. Drivers with hamburger patties for brains tried to sideswipe it on the highway. It’s happily hopped over roadkill from porcupines to a wolf outside Elma, close enough to Forks to make me wonder: Taylor Lautner? I can only hope.

Every deadly attack was foiled, leaving only scratches and dents. Nothing could kill this car. It is fast and nimble and invincible. If it wanted to, it could whip you up breakfast or pour you a martini.

mad max car

I will sell this car to the highest bidder, unless that bidder is Mike “The Situation” from Jersey Shore.

The bidding starts at $2,500. I’ll take cash, checks, rounds of Dutch cheese or purple 500-euro notes, which look like this:

500 euro note

If you need a safe, cheap, reliable car — or have a college kid leaving the nest — this is your car.

If your name is Gordon Freeman, this is definitely your car. It has been waiting for you. I will hand you a crowbar and the keys.

If you have a high school kid who needs wheels, this is not your car. No. You need a Gremlin or a station wagon with fake wood panels that are peeling off, because such a car is the Most Effective Form of Birth Control Known to Man.

What you must do

Interested? Write a comment to this post and tell me why you are worthy of being the next owner of this fine piece of South Korean engineering.

Survival Sunday: Concrete Canvas Shelters of the Apocalypse

The First Rule of the Zombie Apocalypse: You will NOT be staying in your home.

There’ll be no electricity, no water, no cable, no internets and no guarantee that your house is remotely zombie-proof.

The Second Rule of the Zombie Apocalypse: Find a defensible shelter.

Sleeping under the stars is a good way to get nom-nom-nommed. Even if there are not walking dead around to eat your brains, other survivors will happily steal your stuff and leave you for dead.

Here’s a great little shelter from the British, who have glorious accents, making anything they say or invent ten times the awesome.

It’s an inflatable shelter made from canvas impregnated with cement*. Blow it up, spray water on it and bam, instant bomb shelter.

This is military grade stuff. Pile dirt around it and you’ve got an instant bunker that’s safe from small arms fire, mortars and the undead.

*Yes, the video says “concrete.” Cement is actually the right term. Concrete is cement mixed with rocks and whatnot.