Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Review: Zombies of Mass Destruction

Dir. Kevin Hamedani, 2009, Roadshow Entertainment

Life in the seaside community of Port Gamble reflects the ideals of small-town America; white picket fences, friendly neighbours, a more comfortable pace to life. Until, that is, a terrorist attack results in a zombie uprising. Then, an unlikely trio comprising an Iranian-American girl and a gay couple will have to battle not only the undead, but the simmering intolerance of their fellow survivors, in order to save their town and themselves...

Despite always trying to not judge a DVD by its cover, I should admit from the outset that my expectations of Zombies of Mass Destruction were significantly lowered by the label 'A Political Zomedy' gracing the cover of this release; generally, when producers of any political satire feel compelled to emphasise the fact that the movie is a political satire, this tends to indicate that the satire (and usually the movie in general) isn't up to much.

I bother to mention this only because I'm fairly certain that others may share my feelings on this. And it would be a pity if any of those folks were to avoid watching ZMD based upon that assumption, because ZMD is actually a pretty damn good film. The acting is excellent, the special effects and make-up convincing, and the script - which admittedly follows the standard zombie-uprising plot - is both entertaining and exciting.

Even better, the satirical content of this movie actually works. Much of the political commentary is admittedly pretty unsubtle stuff, with very obvious allusions made to dodgy post-9/11 politics, and the torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib, among other things. Yet beneath all this in-your-face stuff is another, more subtle (and disturbing) layer of socio-political satire examining the casual bigotry of Good People, the evils performed in the name of humanitarianism, and the truism that even the worst events will serve someone's political agenda, big or small, and it's when addressing such issues that both the script and acting really shine.

Zombies of Mass Destruction is a terrific little flick, and a definite 'must-see' for any fan of zombie cinema, particularly those who enjoy Romero-esque social commentary. The DVD release is now available in Australia through the usual retailers.

News: Reminder! Subscription Drive Competition Closes Soon!

If you haven't yet signed up as a NecroScope 'Shambler' (Follower), here's a reminder that our first-ever official subscription drive competition closes on September 16th, 5pm EST (original post here), leaving only two more days for zombophiles to enter the draw to win a fabulous prize pack comprising:

* A SIGNED copy of Feed, by Mira Grant (Orbit, 2010).
* A copy of the novel State of Decay, by James Knapp (Roc, 2010).
* A copy of Dead or Alive, by William Harms (Absolute Tyrant, 2010).
* One copy each of Black House Comics' After the World: Killable Hours (Clay Blakehills) and After the World: Gravesend (Jason Fischer).
* A copy of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and Zombie Jim, by Mark Twain and W. Bill Czolgosz (Coscom Entertainment, 2009).
* A copy of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Zombies, by Nathan Robert Brown (Penguin Books, 2010).
* A copy of the comic George A. Romero's Night of the Living Dead: The Beginning, Issue #1 (Avatar Press, 2006).

The draw is open to international Shamblers as well as Disinterred Australians. Simply press the 'Follow' button on the right-hand menu. One lucky subscriber will be picked at random after the cut-off, and contacted via the website.

News: Zombie Week at Tor.com

Zombie fans would be well advised to shamble past Tor.com this week. Why? Well, because the publisher's site is currently hosting a zombie theme week, featuring articles and blog entries by the likes of Joe McKinney, Bob Fingerman, John Joseph Adams, Roger Ma, and other members of zombie royalty, as well as short fiction and novel excerpts from Neil Gaiman, David Wellington, Amelia Beamer and more, plus comics, poetry, music, survival tips...

So: grab your shotgun and head on over to Tor.com for more zombie-related goodness than can possibly be good for anyone.

Review: What Will Come After

Scott Edelman, 2010, PS Publishing

One of my greatest occasional pleasures as both a reader and a reviewer is in picking up a new collection by an author responsible for several stories I've previously enjoyed, and then realising that I've actually read (and greatly enjoyed) almost all of the tales therein without previously having attributed them to the author in question.

So it has been with What Will Come After: the Complete Zombie Stories of Scott Edelman. This wonderful hardback collection contains eight reprints (and one original) dating back as far as 1997, with each and every one a bona fide classic of the genre (this further evidenced in the publishing acknowledgements at the back of the book). Edelman's work takes full advantage of the extensive range of tropes and themes offered by zombie fiction, delving into classic literature mash-ups ('Live People Don't Understand' and 'Tell Me Like You Done Before') to dark examinations of the human condition ('The Man He Had Been Before' and 'The Human Race'), existential angst ('What Will Come After'), black humour ('Goobers'), and onward into realms previously unexplored, including a dose of Shakespearean-style theatre ('A Plague on Both Your Houses') and an exploration of the Big Question: what happens in a zombie-infested world once all the humans have been either consumed or converted? ('The Last Supper').

Edelman writes beautifully literary zombie fiction with broad appeal; simultaneously insightful, engrossing, and darkly entertaining. What Will Come After is available for purchase directly from the publisher's website, and any afficiando of zombie fiction will be richer for immediately adding a copy to their personal collection.