ScrimismsPresently suffering a dearth of witticisms
Books and Movies10 Apr 2008

April fools! I’m not really in Nebraska.

I have only a weak affinity for the undead. Some people apparently think vampires and zombies are the Coolest Thing Ever, but not me. They can be a good device when done properly, but proper handling of them is rare.

I was quite disappointed when I discovered Halo’s single player campaign eventually turns into a ho-hum zombie hunt. Tactical battles against clever aliens gave way to leaning on the “fire” key and hoping my shotgun wouldn’t run out of ammo at an inopportune time. Endless faceless hordes are scary at first, and then become repetitive.

I caught the movie “I Am Legend” a couple months back. It’s about the last man alive in a world overrun by vampire-like plague victims who only come out at night. It’s notable for its scenes of people-free New York City and it’s fun to watch Will Smith crack up from loneliness, but ultimately failed to deliver on its premise and suffered from an absolutely idiotic ending.

I liked it enough that I subsequently read the 1964 novel of the same name by Richard Matheson. The book offers a more interesting take on vampire-plague dystopia, one in which the title actually makes sense. It’s tough to say a lot about without giving away a lot of the plot (and if you think you might want to read t, for god’s sake stay off google). Compared to the movie, the undead are a little less terrifying and a little more pathetic (though still dangerous), the protagonist is even more deranged, and the ending does a nice job of turing all the vampire folklore on its head. It may seem a bit predictable to today’s (metaphorically) undead-plagued reader, but it actually pioneered the “zombie as plague victim concept” and so is a notable part of the Undead Canon. What it really does well is paint a portrait of a man driven mad by the mad world he’s been thrust into.

Worth checking out. Your local library probably has a copy with Will Smith on the cover.

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