Top 10 Wen-sday: Top 10 fictional characters I’d want in my zombie apocalypse squad

Buffy, Game of Thrones, ghostbusters, Harry Potter, Kate McKinnon, list, Marvel, Sherlock Holmes, Top 10, zombies

These Top 10 Wednesdays really sneak up on me so I’m always caught off guard. I don’t know why I’m so shit at remembering considering it happens at the start of every new month. I try and spend the month thinking about the next one but still feel unprepared when the day finally arrives. This month I wanted to celebrate the upcoming ghoulish celebrations by making it Halloween themed but my proposed Top 10 Alternative Halloween films list just didn’t happen. So I’ve decided to keep that for closer to the day and have instead decided to delve into a topic that is fairly controversial for me. I think I’ve made it clear that I’m fucking bored by zombies these days but, at a time like this. you can’t really get away from the little buggers. So it begs the question, if the day ever comes when the undead decide to fight back who do I really want by my side? What I’m essentially doing is creating the cast list for my ultimate dream zombie apocalypse movie. And I know what you’re thinking, why not just find 10 characters who have survived zombie apocalypses? Well, that would be both boring and not as much fun. So, I’ve avoided that wherever possible. It’s going to be great. But probably not. You know who these things go.


Ten: Gillian Holtzmann

 A bit of a weird one I must admit because she’s mostly prepped for dealing with ghosts. However, look back at her fucking awesome gun sequence in Ghostbusters and you’ll see she’s pretty handy with firearms. She could easily change her targets if need be. Plus, you need people who are gonna be fun if you’re the last remaining humans on Earth. I mean I love Andrew Lincoln so much but Rick Grimes is so fucking miserable and annoying. I’d have given him up to the Walkers many seasons ago. Holtzmann would put the “ha” in zombie ha-pocalypse. Also, you need more than death in a zombie movie. The sexual tension between me and the Holtz would be palpable. Or, more likely, entirely in my head and making everyone else uncomfortable. But you know, subplot.

Nine: Rupert Giles

I know, I know. Why would you pick someone from the Buffyverse and not pick Buffy herself? Well, think about it. Buffy is great, undoubtedly, but you have to spend every day with these people. Every day. Look at Buffy in season 5 and beyond. She moans… a lot. That would be super annoying after a while. Yes, she’s the chosen one but why does she have to be so holier than thou about it? Yes, Giles may have a propensity for getting bashed on the head every time he tries to fight someone, at least he knows a fuckload about the forces of evil. Surely if there’s anyone that could find a way to end the zombie plight then it’d be Giles. Besides, every zombie film has that one person who always falls into a zombie trap and needs rescuing. If I don’t provide that person then it would end up being me.

Eight: Minerva McGonagall

 Minerva is old, make no mistake, but she’s a badass motherfucker and I want her on my team. Just look at her in Deathly Hallows, she’s a queen. She faces off against Snape, holds her own in the Battle of Hogwarts and says two of the best lines in the final two films. Minerva is a powerful witch that, when Dumbledore was alive, was always overlooked. She’s amazing. Plus, you know, Maggie Smith. 

 Seven: Sherlock

In all honesty I wasn’t sure about including Sherlock on the list. He’s hardly an action hero who would be able to stand up to the zombies. However, he is the kind of guy who could help with strategy. He’d know how to keep people safe and where to get the supplies we need. He’d be the one that would wind everyone up but would ultimately save everyone’s life. Brawn isn’t everything you know. Zombies shouldn’t be the only ones looking for braaaaaains.

 Six: Obi Wan

 There were a lot of people from Star Wars that I could have chosen to be part of my dream team but there were more that I knew wouldn’t work: Luke and Yoda would be far too annoying; Chewie would no doubt growl loudly enough to alert a horde to our presence; Darth Vader would definitely kill you given the chance; Anakin is annoying as fuck; and Mace Windu was clearly shit as shown in his fucking stupid death. It essentially came down to Leia, Han and Obi Wan. I chose Obi Wan because I’m a bigger fan of Ewan McGregor’s face than I am Carrie Fisher and Han Solo without Chewie just didn’t seem right. Besides, he was a pretty big deal during the Clone Wars so General Kenobi would be a fine edition to the team.

Five: Ellen Ripley

Ripley is often considered to be the greatest female character of all time and it’s easy to see why. She’s an amazing character who has lived through enough alien encounters to make it obvious that she’d survive this. Ripley is exactly the kind of person you need around when things get tough and it doesn’t seem as though she’d be too annoying to be around. If anything I think she’d be my sassy, cynical soulmate. We’d be BFFs in no time. I’m positive.

Four: John McClane

Earlier this year I was asked in an interview “which fictional character would you most identify with?” As I’d watched Die Hard a couple of days before I could only think of this guy but I think it’s a pretty good answer. John McClane is the kind of guy I’d want to be around in a crisis. Now I’m not talking about Die Hard 4 era John McClane. I’m talking 80s god John McClane. The guy who single-handedly took down a whole gang of German thieves. Imagine what he could do in a zombie apocalypse? I mean he’s a man who doesn’t mind being dirty, he thinks on his feet, and he’s handy with the weapons. Exactly the kind of man who’d get you through a zombie infestation.

Three: Brienne of Tarth

 I realise that there are very few lists on this blog that don’t contain Brienne of Tarth now but there’s a reason for that. The woman is a fucking badass. She’s handy with a sword, fucking huge, and just really awesome. I’d love to be stuck with her at the end of days. She’d protect me and help me get things off high shelves. I mean she fought a bear and lived for fuck’s sake. Why wouldn’t you want her around. And I’m pretty sure Podrick would just follow her around anyway and, as we know, I a fan of the Brienne-Pod friendship. It would add some much needed sentiment to my Z-movie.
  
Two: Jack Bauer

So I’ve saved the best til last. I think this one is pretty self-explanatory. Jack Bauer is handy in a crisis and knows how to stick to a deadline. If there’s anything we learnt from the 9 seasons of 24 it’s that Jack Bauer can turn anything into a weapon which would be incredibly handy given it’s the end of the world and supplies would probably be limited. The guy’s got skills. He’s also incredibly attractive so it only increases my chances for romance in my zombie movie. You know how it is: I nearly get eaten by zombies, Jack Bauer saves me, he proceeds to shout abuse and threats at me and, obviously, one thing leads to another. This shit writes itself.

One: Groot

Fun fact: the game I’ve played most on Steam is Plants vs Zombies. I used to play is as I was writing my essays so it would be open for hours on end whether I played it or not. As such I’ve managed to get 190 hours of play recorded on my account. This means I know a fair bit about zombies by now. If there’s one thing I know it’s that they don’t fair well against plants. Therefore, the best man to destroy them is a massive fucking tree. Not only was he the greatest thing in Guardians of the Galaxy but he would surely have the power to stop zombies making their way across your garden. He is Groot. I am Groot. We are Groot.

RANTING ABOUT GAME OF THRONES: A WEEK OF IRK AND IRE – Zom-be serious for a second. What the fuck are the White Walkers doing?

boring, Game of Thrones, George RR Martin, irk and ire, meh, zombies

So this is will most likely be my final post in my week of Irk and Ire. It’s my sister’s hen do thing tomorrow so I won’t get much time for writing. However, I think 5 posts of petty ranting seems like plenty. There’s obviously still more I can say; I mean I’ve barely started to scratch the surface when it comes to Dany’s unsuitability to rule Westeros. However, the season has been over for a while now and we’ve got a long wait until the next one. Especially now that Winter is here and the creators have to wait for suitable weather to film in. What I will say, as a final thought, is that no matter what I may make it sound I love this show more than anything I’ve watched and I love the books just as much. I know there’s a lot of things the show has got rid of that I was angry about but, honestly, when the show is this good I don’t fucking care. However, season 6 felt different to me. It felt rushed and everything felt all over the place. I know timelines don’t have to match up but it seemed too unstructured. Maybe without the guidance of George’s books the show is just too eager to get to where it wants to be. It’s worrying in a way because the books are less about the journey and more about the characters. Now the show just seems bothered about getting dragons in the Seven Kingdoms. I hope things settle down next season or we risk Game of Thrones going down the same route as Lost and nobody wants that.

We’re getting close to the end of Game of Thrones as a whole which means after years of waiting we’ll finally see who gets to permanently sit on the Iron Throne. I still have my fingers and toes crossed that Dany the grumpy teenage doesn’t take possession of Westeros’ most uncomfortable seat but it’s highly unlikely. Anyone that takes 6 fucking seasons to finally get round to doing what she’s been threatening to do better bring some fucking results. There two seasons left for the HBO series with a potential combined total of 13 episodes. We don’t know exactly how it will pan out but it seems to safe to say Dany’s taking of King’s Landing will happen before the end of season 7. Once Cersei has self-destructed and been killed, in all liklihood, by her twin brother in a mirroring of his first Kingslaying, then the crown is essentially just being left untouched for Dany to pick up unchallenged. I mean there’s literally only one other person who wants the throne and Littlefinger really wouldn’t be that hard to take in a fight. I mean does he even know how to hold a fucking sword? Look at his track record with duels. It doesn’t bode well.

If I’m honest, the leader of the Seven Kingdoms isn’t really the major thing I’m concerned about any more. I mean we’ve playing the same fucking game for so long it feels like we’re in the middle of an epic Monopoly showdown. Besides, the way season 6 has been rushing through its storylines and missing out chunks of time, it’s painfully clear how this will end. Even if we all still have slightly squiffy feelings about Dany’s unhealthy blood-lust and very rapey Dothraki hoard. Season 6 has basically taken the last 5 seasons and said “that was all just the warm up. Lannisters, Baratheons, Tyrells and Starks? It doesn’t actually matter.” The great houses of Westeros have been battling for power since before Ned Stark’s head fell off and very little has changed. Winter was still coming, people were still hungry, and crazy religious people were spouting their nonsense. Plus, you know, there was the threat of a zombie invasion. Nothing to fret about. That’s the most frustrating thing about A Song of Ice and Fire. It’s telling two very different stories at incredibly frustrating speeds: one of politics and crowns and the other of impending doom.

Now I don’t care that everything has taken so long because that’s a problem with the genre. What I object to is that everything is dragged out without an update. Especially because the story of the White Walkers is by far the more interesting part of the plot. After last seasons amazing episode ‘Hardhome’ I was super pumped for more White Walker action and the growing need to get shit sorted. Of course, season 6 gave us the fabulous yet emotional ‘Hold the Door’ which suggested shit was about to go down real soon. It wasn’t. I realise they’re waiting for Winter and the Wall has magical powers and stuff. However, it surely can’t take this long for the Walkers to do something. I mean clearly that magic thing is a bit dicey because of the Wight that attack Jeor Mormont back in season 1. There’s got to be a loophole or two. Surely dead animal zombies could be springing up all over the place and causing havoc?

The White Walkers have been a growing evil that’s always been lurking on the outskirts of the rest of the action and, as such, have become nothing more than an afterthought. I mean look at Jon Snow: one minute he’s all about stopping the zombie attack and the next he happily goes off to Winterfell to get his old bedroom back. I mean has he even stopped to think about what could happen at the Wall when he’s gallivanting around the North? Nah, mate. He doesn’t give a shit… and he’s actually fought the Night’s King. Naming the show Game of Thrones meant that they were sort of penning themselves in to the whole “who will be King question” which means that the White Walkers become much less important. Which, frankly, was a fucking mistake. Cersei Lannister might be batshit crazy but there is no greater menace in that show than what lies beyond the Wall. Anything that scares Tormund Giantsbane into trusting the Crows is definitely something you don’t wanna fuck with. So, I don’t really understand why they’ve had so little to do so far. Yes, they’ve been getting more prominent but I can’t help but feel all that time Arya spent pissing about as a bling girl in Braavos could have been taken out for more White Walker clashes.

Yeah, maybe the writers are just keeping them for the show’s big finale but that in itself is just as bad. I mean we know that in all likelihood season 7 will have 7 episodes and season 8 will have 6. This means 7 will be concerned with tying up the Throne plot and 8 will probably focus more in everyone’s impending death at the hand’s of the Walkers. It just doesn’t seem like enough time. Especially withe the way season 6 went down. Now the show isn’t being restricted by the books the creators have fucking flown forward as qucikly as they can. We’ve leisurely reached the point we were at by the end of season 5 and now we’re fucking steaming ahead. I can’t help but worry that the episode after the big Azor Ahai reveal is made we’ll see an end to the White Walkers. After all, it’s starting to feel as though they’ve become something of problem for the show, which has no idea how best to use them. They should be more than a visual treat intended to create intrigue.

TBT – Zombieland (2009)

Emma Stone, films, fucking funny, Jesse Eisenberg, TBT, zombies

On Sunday the new series of Top Gear started and, without getting into my feelings on the new format, I was glad to see Jesse Eisenberg as the star guest. Despite how awful his interviews inevitably are, I love Eisenberg and thought he was super funny when faced with Chris Evans and Gordon Ramsay. Eisenberg has made a career out of playing the awkward, geeky loner and it is something that filters out into his personal appearances. Something that has made him seem stand-offish and rude. Still, I count Eisenberg as one of my favourite actors and am convinced that, when I eventually see it, he’ll be my favourite thing about Batman vs Superman. Although, I’m still not ready to see just how bad that film is yet so I decided to revisit classic Eisenberg.

Zombieland picks up the thread laid down by Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright with Shaun of the Dead: taking a comic approach to Zombie apocalypses. Hollywood had become so saturated with Zombie films that people needed to take a different approach. Zombieland is less of a Zombie-horror film than it is a romantic-comedy that happens to contain the walking dead. It doesn’t proclaim to be scary or chilling but it does have an unashamedly jolly good time. Something I think allows it to trump the earlier British work. I know I know. It’s unpatriotic or something but Shaun of the Dead gets so bogged down in parody that it never lets itself go quite as much as this film.

This is all about the four actors having fun with guns, zombies and theme parks. In fact, Zombieland has more in common with another Eisenberg film, Adventureland, than it does with Night of the Living Dead. Eisenberg plays an unnamed man who, by strictly adhering to his own set of rules, survives alone in a world riddled with zombies. After a chance encounter with a fellow unnamed survivor (Woody Harrelson), the pair join up and make their way across the country to find some sort of life.

The two men are set up by two sisters (Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin) and lose their car, guns and supplies. Thankfully, there are plenty of abandoned cars around and the boys are quickly pursuing the sisters. After a few ups and downs, the group join together and make their way to Pacific Playland, an amusement park in Los Angeles. The four begin to bond with each other and find that being alone in an undead world isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Zombieland doesn’t really make much of the whole zombie thing which, for someone who has grown so tired of the z-word, I’m thankful for. This isn’t about watching scared people running from weird looking dead people. This is about four people having fun whilst also fighting for their lives. There are way more jokes here than there are frights but it is something that it gets so right. The script is strong and the jokes are on point. It’s a wacky film that gets away with some absurd ideas but they all work. Much has been made of Billy fucking Murray’s cameo and it is certainly one of the films greatest moments featuring some great work by Murray and Woody Harrelson.

In fact, Harrelson’s role is the stand-out of the entire thing. His crazed zombie killer is deadly, skilled and, when he wants to be, emotional. His one-man assault against a mass of zombies during the films final act is just mesmerising. Compared to Harrelson’s brash character, the rest of the cast do, sort of, fade into the backgroud. Not that the cast don’t do a good job but they have more traditional roles than Harrelson. Eisenberg and Stone are once again cast in their traditional roles of geeky loner and the independent, strong woman respectively. They do it well but we’ve been here time and time again. Their frosty relationship will quickly thaw and the pair will be locking lips well before the credits roll.

Zombieland doesn’t succeed by being completely original or new. It works because everything it does is done with enough humour. It doesn’t take itself as seriously as Shaun of the Dead did and is even more willing than its predecessor to drop some pop culture knowledge whenever it can. Zombieland is fun and that’s what counts. It breaths life into a long dead genre and, thanks to a cast that gels really well, manages to feel fresh.

TBT – Life After Beth (2014)

Anna Kendrick, meh, rom-com, TBT, zombies

My last post, a much longer rant than I had anticipated, concerned the realms of creepy love. It’s a worrying fact about society today that normal love stories are no longer enough to satisfy an audience’s needs. It needs to be unusual and extremely over-the-top. It’s an explanation for why the humble rom-com that kept Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan in work for most of the 80s now only exists within hybrids with other genres. As time goes on these will only get fucking weirder but, for now, the supernatural romantic love story still seems to be exciting the type of pathetic people who think the latest popular YA sensation is the most romantic fucking story ever written. Hollywood knows where to place its bets and love stories featuring sexy versions of horror movies staples have been ten a penny in recent years. For the most part I’m okay with it if I can avoid it but, I have to admit, I’m a little about the potential popularity of the zombie romantic comedy (or zom-rom-com). I mean it seems to me that the moment young people start fantasising about having sex with dead people we could have a major fucking problem on our hands.

I realise that, as someone who has already admitted to being jaded with the current amount of zombie focused content filtering out of our entertainment industry, this review was never going to be glowing. However, zombie-based comedy is not a new thing. Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg’s Shaun of the Dead was one of the earlier and strongest additions to the genre and pretty much ruined anyone else’s chances of beating it. Their film came out 10 whole years before Life After Beth so my naive heart still believed it could make a difference. I loved the premise and, as someone who desperately wants to be Aubrey Plaza, was fairly excited to see how the cast dealt with it.

The story begins with the death of Beth Slocum, a young girl bitten by a snake whilst hiking. Obviously the tragic events comes as a huge shock to her parents, Geenie and Maury, (Molly Shannon and John C. Reilly) and her boyfriend, Zach Orfman (Dane DeHaan). Zach finds comfort in visiting the mourning family until they mysteriously start to avoid him. Turns out Beth came back from the dead and her mental parents have taken to hiding their little miracle in the attic. Zach, upon discovering his undead former love, realises that he now has the chance to make amends for the shitty relationship they had before that pesky death business put a damper on things.

Of course, in the early stages the relationship is at its necrophilic best with Beth picking up where she left off. She is seemingly the same person she was but slightly more rotten skin. Much quicker than he discovers how fucking weird it is to be having sex with a zombie, Zach realises that death has had a a much greater effect on his girlfriend that it initially appeared. Beth is now super strong, quick to anger and only subdued when listening to endless hours of Smooth Jazz. Not exactly his ideal women then.

Life After Beth could have been a fucking great film if it had stayed within the domestic territory of ‘boy meets girl, boy loses girl to snake bite, girls comes back from the dead, boy happily starts sleeping with girl again’. That would have been the perfect blend of simple and funny that would have allowed the strong cast to do good work. Instead, Jeff Baena attempts to evolve this narrative into a much bigger/shitter zombie apocalypse story and manages to lose control of it all. He leaves too much unexplained and shows too little of the scale of the problem to create enough drama.

It’s a huge fucking disappointing that Life After Beth fell into such a familiar pattern because it seemed to be a fresh approach to an undeniably over-saturated genre. The cast do a great job with the material they are given and could have done much better with a stronger premise. John C. Reilly and Molly Shannon are fucking great as Beth’s overprotective and incredibly crazy parents. Dane DeHaan, not your typical rom-com lead, is sensible enough to play the grieving Zach with the right level of creepy so you can understand his actions whilst never being fully on board with them.

Of course, Aubrey Plaza is the star of the show and manages to pull a shitty concept into something vaguely watchable. She does great work as the happy-go-luck, just back from the dead Beth and as the fully fledged Zombie psycho strapped to an oven Beth. She has most of the movies funniest and most memorable moments. I’d hate to have seen what a fucking huge pile of shit this would have been without her. Especially when you consider Baena’s half-hearted introduction of the women also vying for Zach’s affection, Erica (Anna Kendrick). Kendrick has about five minutes of being nice and pretty and is basically forgotten until the films final act. It’s just another distraction that we could have done without and is fucking disrespectful to an actress as reliable as Kendrick.

Life After Beth‘s problems arise from the fact that it’s not a complete idea. The script basically came from an idea that would have produced a good-length YouTube sketch that was stretched into a 90 minute film. It proves that there might still be room to work within the zombie genre but warns anyone willing to take the risk that its going to be more difficult than they’d think. Film makers have become fucking lazy because, when it comes to zombies, we’ve seen it all before. All we need is one strong and original idea and the undead film industry could really come back to life.