The monster mash

8 11 2010

Zombies give me nightmares.

Actually, scratch that: zombies onscreen give me nightmares. I read and enjoyed Max Brooks’s World War Z and have sketched out a short ‘story’ (basically, a fake journal article on zombies)  and nary a blip in dreamworld.

But put a zombie where I can see it? Shudder.

I don’t know why. I mean, in 28 Days Later—which jolted me out of my sleep for a week after, and then sent me lurching awake a full six months after viewing—what shocked was not the zombies (and really, not zombies, but rage-virused monsters) but the people. That military commander? The thought that one would become the rape-thing to a bunch of despairing soldiers?

Jesus, at least the monsters were just hungry, not evil.

And in the new show The Walking Dead, again, the forewarning that the problem will be with the people, not the zed-heads.

That’s what set this post off—the premiere to The Walking Dead. I watched it early yesterday evening on Hulu, figuring that gave me enough time before bedtime for me to forget it, but: no.

It wasn’t that scary, honestly, certainly not in comparison to 28 Days Later. And afterward, I thought, Eh.  Too soap-opery, too predictable, too somber, not scary enough. And the lead? Okay, so he needs to wear his sheriff’s outfit to keep himself in line, but is he really this innocent?

Dumb, actually. Or maybe not dumb, but not thinking. He needs gas, all those cars on the road, and he leaves the road to walk some ways to a gas station, which—surprise!—is out of gas.

He never heard of a siphon?

Then he ditches the car in favor of a horse, because, let’s face it, nothing makes more sense than leaving behind a steel-and-glass contained space (with storage!) for a pretty pretty equine bit of zombie bait.

Maybe if it all moved faster, carried some of the jangle that good B-movies like 28 Days Later or even the nausea-inducing Cloverfield managed to convey, I could enjoy rather than pick apart the predictability.

But nightmares for the boring? No thanks.

~~~~~

I should add that I enjoyed Shaun of the Dead, and that since it’s been so long since I’ve seen any of George Romero’s movies, I can’t remember if those gave me nightmares.

Anyway, it’s not just zombies. The Ring creeped me out, and I vowed never to camp in Maryland after The Blair Witch Project. Oh, and I recently made the mistake of watching the mediocre Event Horizon before bed—not a good idea.

I’m not generally a scary- or horror-movie aficionado, and have little patience for spatter movies, but I do enjoy a well-crafted bit of unease. (Okay, enjoy may be the wrong word; appreciate, perhaps?) The Others wasn’t scary, and even a bit somnolent, but I liked its meditative vibe.

The Sixth Sense and Signs? No.

I don’t recall any nightmares following The Road, but, then again, I don’t know that that would count as a horror film. It’s full of horror, true, but perhaps one reason my response was dulled was because I knew nothing would get better. The hope or possibility of escape or reprieve was gone, as with it the altertness that one holds on behalf of the characters. It was the end, that’s all, and I was sad for the characters, that’s all.

I had nuclear nightmares as a teenager, but as I had been experiencing those prior to seeing The Day After or Testament, I blame the miasma rather than the movies.

No, my worst nightmares when young were unrelated to anything I saw on t.v. or at the movie theatre—likely because my parents didn’t let me watch scary flicks. I’d already demonstrated the, ah, ability to scare myself shriekingly awake (Over vents. Don’t ask.), so I’d guess that they thought ‘Why tune her up even more?’

Still, there was that one episode of The Outer Limits, wherein the woman tried to vacuum up something in the corner. . . .

That probably set me off, too.

~~~~~

Still, I’m not eight and I don’t believe in zombies. In fact, I consider nuclear or environmental or even cosmic apocalypse, however unlike in my lifetime, still more likely than a zombiepocalypse. So why the scare at the latter and not the former?

Maybe because I don’t consider it likely at all, and thus don’t have the rational responses to the truly fantastical (the undead) that I do to the merely improbable.

Maybe there’s something about the uncanniness of the zombie: to be dead, but still restless, ravenous, recognizably human but demonstrably not.

Or maybe because I just keep watching these @#$!!$% zombie movies too close to bed. . . .

 

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8 responses

9 11 2010
Posky

I’m so sorry that zombies are all the rage right now. Watching television must be a nightmare for you since those ads are everywhere.

But you can tell that, deep down, you love this stuff.

9 11 2010
dmf

it’s the zombies off the screen that give me nightmares

9 11 2010
absurdbeats

@Posky: Nah: I don’t own a t.v., and I’m not traumatized, so any ads I see online don’t affect me.

Just a quirk, that’s all.

@dmf: Heh.

9 11 2010
dmf

no tv is good for the soul but if i may tempt you this year’s wallander and the new sherlock holmes on pbs/masterpiece @ wgbh online are pretty good if you like watching the detectives

10 11 2010
dmf

speaking of the non-quick:

10 11 2010
geekhiker

Yeah, I can do without the dumb soap-opera subplot in The Walking Dead (i.e. the Cop and his Wife). Blair Witch didn’t scare me that much, though. Seemed silly that they could keep getting lost in the woods, particularly when they kept passing water they could simply follow downstream

10 11 2010
absurdbeats

@gh: Exactly! I thought: Follow the freaking river! It will take you somewhere! Out!

Still, as someone who has camped in some out-of-the-way places, with only a thin bit of tent between me and Whatever Is Out There, I could relate to the fear.

But, yeah: follow the river!

12 11 2010
J.

I think by the time the characters in Blair Witch actually wanted to leave, they were all shitting themselves with fear, which isn’t the best mindset for rational thought.

If you’re watching roadside as an animal sits hypnotized by onrushing headlights, its easy to say, “Jesus, why didn’t he move?”

But those characters were annoying idiots either way.

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