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  • Zombieland 2 (According to Fourth Day Universe)

    Zombieland-poster

    On October 1st, it was announced that a sequel to 2009’s Zombieland is currently in development!  Now, we all loved Zombieland but we also know that sequels are rarely as good as the original film.  In fact, sequels are often so bad that they actually inspire you to retroactively dislike the films that spawned them.  I know we’d all hate it if this is what happened with Zombieland 2.

    With that in mind, here are 6 ways to make sure that Zombieland 2 does not suck.

    1) Keep That Cast Intact

    One of the main reasons why Zombieland was such a success was because of the chemistry between Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Woody Harrelson, and Abigail Breslin.  For Zombieland 2 to be a success, all four of them need to return.  That might not be that easy since, in the years since Zombieland was released, all four of those actors have had a lot of success.  Harrelson, after all, became a part of the Hunger Games franchise and said in an interview that he would be hesitant about doing a sequel.  Eisenberg is now an Oscar nominee.  Emma Stone could very well be nominated for her role in Birdman. Abigail Breslin is an increasingly busy actress.  It might not be easy to get all four of them together again but Zombieland 2 won’t work without them.

    So, don’t recast.  Don’t bring any of them back and then kill them off during the first few minutes of the film.  Instead, do what you have to do to keep that cast together.  And if you can’t keep the original cast together, don’t make the sequel.

    And, for the love of God, don’t try to do a reboot or a prequel or a “This is a story about four other characters who survived the same zombie apocalypse from the first film.”  Quite frankly, we’re not interested in seeing what happened to four other characters.  We care about these characters and they’re the ones that we want to see!

    (I know that Romero used different characters and actors in all of his Dead films but, let’s be honest here.  Zombieland was not Night of the Living Dead and Zombieland 2 is not going to be Dawn of the Dead.)

    2) Who can replace Bill Murray?

    One of the best things about Zombieland was that Bill Murray showed up as himself.  This worked not just because Bill Murray is a national treasure but also because it forced the audience to consider the fact that, when the zombie apocalypse hits, it’s going to hit everyone.  It forced us to wonder how exactly we would react if we ran into the zombie version of one of our favorite actors.  Would we be willing to fight back or would we be so star struck that we’d allow ourselves to be eaten?

    Now, of course, Bill Murray ended up getting killed during Zombieland.  While it’s tempting to just have him magically show up alive again, it’s also a bit too easy.  I know a lot of people would say that Murray’s cameo was so successful that it would be foolish for Zombieland 2 to try to duplicate it with another celebrity.

    But you know what?  You know that it’s going to happen, whether it’s a good idea or not.  All we can hope is that they pick a celebrity who can be just as effective as Bill Murray was.  Obviously, the celebrity in question would have to be someone that you automatically like.  The celebrity would have to be a good performer.  The celebrity would have to be able to handle both drama and comedy…

    Maybe somebody like Jack Black or Seth Rogen.  Or maybe both of them!  Perhaps Jack and Seth could have teamed up after the zombie apocalypse and now they drive around California in a pickup truck full of rifles, beer, and weed.

    Or perhaps Jesse Eisenberg could take on a dual role, playing both himself and Columbus…

    3) Don’t Be Too Quick To Abandon Pacific Playland

    Here’s the thing — the first Zombieland was, like many zombie films, a road movie.  The focus of the movie was on the protagonists moving around and trying not to get eaten.  Zombieland finally ended with all of the main characters gathered at the Pacific Playland amusement park.

    Now, as tempting as it may be to have the film open with the zombies overrunning Pacific Playland and sending  Columbus and his new family on the road again, I’d actually rather see a good deal of Zombieland 2 take place at Pacific Playland.  If nothing else, it would give Zombieland 2 a chance to parody The Walking Dead‘s use of the prison.  Add to that, there’s so much fun that can be had with a deserted amusement park!  Just imagine looking at your reflection in a cracked funhouse mirror just to suddenly see a zombie standing directly behind you.

    At the end of Zombieland, the four main characters had formed a family.  Personally, I’d love it if Zombieland 2 would take some time to show us how this family dynamic has developed during that time at Pacific Playland.

    4) Don’t Shy Away From The Blood

    Seeing as how Ruben Fleischer is returning to direct Zombieland 2, this probably won’t be a problem.  That said, one of the most memorable things about Zombieland was the way moments of slapstick humor were contrasted with scenes of shocking gore.  These scenes both celebrated and satirized the often over the top “body horror” that is truly at the heart of the zombie genre.

    So, Zombieland 2 not only needs to be just as cartoonishly gory as the first Zombieland but perhaps even more so.

    5) Explore Zombie Society

    Now, I know that this might sound like a rip-off of Warm Bodies but so what?  I loved Warm Bodies.  It was a good movie and a good romance.

    Add to that, in the first Zombieland, Bill Murray explained that he had survived by pretending to be a zombie and also mentioned that he had just been hanging out at a gathering of zombies.  This would seem to indicate that there is some sort of societal order as far as the zombies are concerned.  And I, for one, would love to know what that society is like!

    6) Dancing Zombies!

    Because, as we all know, any movie can be improved by a random dance number for not particular reason…

    zombieland_2_67465

    Lisa Marie Bowman is a writer, dancer, and horror lover.  You can read more of her reviews at Through the Shattered Lens, HorrorCritic, and SyFyDesigns.

     


  • Zombie Month: Night of the Living Dead

    night-of-the-living-dead-poster1 (image credit - Girl Meets Freak)

    “They’re coming to get you, Barbara.”

    This October is Zombie Month at Fourth-day Universe, and we’ve finally come to the end of our list.  This is the one they say started it all, though, as we’ve tried to point out, that isn’t necessarily the case.  It’s a classic of the horror genre, a trailblazing piece of monster fiction, and as gruesome and shocking today as it was when it came out 46 years ago:  George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead.

     

    Like so many of the zombies we’ve spotlighted this month, Romero’s “zombies” aren’t exactly zombies.  At least, they were never supposed to be.  In the movie, they’re referred to as “killers” and “murderers” in the first news reports, and later, as more information about the attacks comes to light, they’re called “ghouls”.  It’s fascinating to hear a 1960s-style news reporter try to describe what we would today call a zombie outbreak.  It’s even more interesting to think that audiences in the 60s had practically no exposure to zombie fiction as we now recognize it, and so would be taken by complete surprise at some of the scenes we would take for granted.  As I said, the movie was a trailblazer.

     

    Romero’s zombies (the ghouls) aren’t a hundred percent, of course.  While certain conventions, such as a bite spreading the plague or a headshot being necessary to kill them, are present, the source of the outbreak is practically unlike any other we’ve covered this month.  Rather than a virus, an alien presence, or even magic raising the dead, it’s supposedly radiation from a satellite that brings the ghouls out to feast.  And, though the outbreak quickly threatens to overrun at least the eastern part of the United States, once the army and militias are mobilized and know that a headshot will kill a ghoul, they’re quite effective at putting down the menace.

     

    I just finished rewatching Night of the Living Dead, and, as I said, it’s a very effective horror movie.  It focuses on a small band of survivors who try to hole up in an abandoned farmhouse until they can be rescued.  Obviously, it’s more tense and terrifying if you can ignore all you’ve learned about zombies and place yourself in the position of someone who is being introduced to the genre for the first time, as Romero’s original audiences were.  Even if you can’t, though, put this movie on your Halloween playlist.

     

    Stephen Monteith would like to remind everyone that, just because a story’s been told a hundred times already doesn’t mean it can’t still be entertaining the hundred and first time.  As such, he would like it if you would all buy his original fiction, either one or one hundred and one copies, at Lulu.com.


  • Zombie Month: Zombieland

    ZBLND_FIN_IT_1SHT_8This October is Zombie Month at Fourth-day Universe.  We’ve brought you many examples of zombies from all kinds of media, but one thing we haven’t really talked about is zombie comedy.  Today’s example is the 2009 film Zombieland.

     

    While we’ve covered satirical and parody zombie stories and even a couple of cartoons, it’s rare to find a zombie movie that actually sets out to be a straight comedy (a zomcom, if you will).  Zombieland tells the tale of four survivors of a worldwide outbreak.  They may, in fact, be up to 80% of the remaining uninfected humans on the planet.  They’re very cautious of each other and of becoming too attached to each other, referring to themselves only by their hometowns:  Columbus (played by Jesse Eisenberg), Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin).  The movie is iconic for any number of elements, not the least of which are Tallahassee’s search for Twinkies in the apocalypse and Columbus’ rules for surviving.

     

    The zombies in this movie are a lot like the 28 Days Later zombies, in that they’re victims of an infection, are hyper-aggressive, but they’re still technically alive.  They can climb ladders, work doorknobs, and presumably recognize people they knew in life.  Since they’re alive, a headshot isn’t always necessary to kill them, although Columbus’ second rule is “double tap”.  (Or “Ziploc bags”; whichever.)  With all of Columbus’ rules, a showdown with the zombies in the “Pacific Playland” amusement park, and one very surprising cameo, this movie quickly established itself as a commercial and critical success, and an important contribution to zomcoms.

     

    Stephen Monteith would likely find it difficult to adhere to Columbus’ first rule (although Tyler Durden’s first rule would be a piece of cake).  You can read his original fiction at Lulu.com.


  • DC vs. Marvel

    We recently learned what DC’s (current) plan for their movies between now and 2020.  Including 2013’s Man of Steel, they’ll have a total of 13 movies in their shared cinematic universe (assuming they follow through with the standalone Superman and Batman movies).  Marvel, meanwhile, announced a plan yesterday to expand their slate of movies to 21, not counting whatever they have planned for 2020 itself.  For effectively being eight years behind, DC is certainly doing a good job of “catching up”, as some think their sole objective is.  Personally, that’s a little too cynical even for me.

     

    JusticeLeagueVsAvengers (image credit - comicbookmovie.com)

     

    So, let’s just talk for a bit about the movies announced for Marvel’s “Phase 3″.  It’s slightly different from the schedule that came out over the summer, but that’s to be expected.  And, it’s just loose enough so Marvel and DC can play in the same sandbox in alternate months (mostly); no more head-to-heads like when we almost had “Batman vs. Superman vs. Iron Man vs. Captain America”.  Now, it’ll just be plain old DC vs. Marvel (vs. all the other blockbuster franchises that’ll come out by the end of the decade).

    (more…)


  • Zombie Month: World War Z

    SubtextThis October is Zombie Month at Fourth-day Universe.  Over the past four weeks, we’ve brought you Magic Zombies, Virus Zombies, Alien Zombies, and Zombie Revenants.  For these last few days, we’re bringing you full-blown zombie apocalypses, whatever their source.  Today’s example is Max Brooks’ seminal novel, World War Z.

     

    While the 2013 Brad Pitt adaptation may have won an award or two at this year’s Unis, no one can deny it varied wildly from the source material.  Maybe Hollywood couldn’t stomach the idea of making a zombie apocalypse movie that wasn’t all action and clichés; I dunno.  The book itself is pure satire and social commentary, as you’d expect any great zombie story to be.  While I find the politics of the characters involved to be naïve, personally, and don’t agree at all with the zombie virus or the “perfect storm” of an outbreak that Brooks created, none of that is the point of the book.  A reporter in a post-apocalypse world is interviewing survivors, government and military officials, and other important figures from the zombie war, weaving a narrative of the destruction for the reader.  The entire book is told from the perspective of interviewer and interviewee, and it’s very well-written.

     

    Solanum, the zombie virus Brooks created for the novel, was actually originally created for his book The Zombie Survival Guide, which goes into great detail about the virus’ effects and how to protect yourself (of course).  When his “survival guide” became so popular, Brooks wrote World War Z, and later, a few short stories set in the same continuity.  As much as I disagree with the particulars and the politics, like I said, I enjoyed the novel, and wish they had adhered to it much more closely for the movie.

     

    Stephen Monteith doesn’t like to discuss politics on this site, so that’s about as close as you’ll see it get.  You can read his original fiction at Lulu.com.


  • Zombie Month: Zombi 2

    Zombie_Flesh_eaters

    Two questions:

    1) Do you love Zombie movies?

    2) Have you seen Lucio Fulci’s 1979 film Zombi 2?

    If your answer to the first question was yes, then you should definitely have had the same answer for the second.  Along with launching the long and extremely influential genre of the Italian zombie film and being one of the best zombie films ever made, Zombi 2 is also one of the best horror films ever made.

    (more…)


  • Zombie Month: Jason

    FT13-Logo (image credit - yosemite-sam.net)This October is Zombie Month at Fourth-day Universe.  Each day, we’ll bring you a new example of these mostly creepy, sometimes charming creatures.  The fourth week is Revenants, the dead who return for revenge, whether for themselves or for someone else.  The final entry on our list of Revenants is the ultimate mama’s boy; though, you shouldn’t call him that unless you want a machete in the face, or worse.  From the Friday the 13th franchise, we present Jason Voorhees.

     

    Camp Crystal Lake is cursed, or so they say.  At the very least, people who spend a lot of time around the lake, whether it be at the camp, in a lake house, or on a boat headed for Manhattan, do tend to die bloody.  We have Jason to thank for that; mostly, anyway.  In the first movie (spoiler alert), the killer was actually his mother, Mrs. Pamela Voorhees, who wanted to punish the camp counselors who let her son drown in the lake because they were having sex.  Hence, we have the trope of people becoming targets in horror movies if they have sex.  While Mrs. Voorhees was trying to avenge her son, her death at the end prompts Jason to avenge his mother; for, like, a dozen movies.

     

    It might seem strange including him in a series on zombies, since it turns out he wasn’t really dead, just very hard to kill.  In the past, we’ve included Jason in the category of “unkillable monsters”.  Well, not all zombies can be killed, either, and for about half the movie franchise, Jason is officially “undead”.  His “revenance” begins in the sixth movie, Jason Lives, when he is risen from the dead in an effort to erase his evil forever.

     

    Ironic?  Yeah, let's go with ironic.

    Ironic? Yeah, let’s go with ironic.

     

    Stephen Monteith prefers good old-fashioned slasher films to modern trends like found-footage, and Friday the 13th helped cement the slasher genre.  You can read his original fiction at Lulu.com.


  • Zombie Month: High Plains Drifter

    Clint Eastwood High Plains Drifter (image credit - aaalasa1297.blogspot.com)This October is Zombie Month at Fourth-day Universe.  Each day, we’ll bring you a new example of these mostly creepy, sometimes charming creatures.  The fourth week is Revenants, the dead who return to the land of the living for as long as it takes to get revenge.  If you haven’t seen High Plains Drifter, the 1973 Clint Eastwood film, then I guess I just spoiled the whole movie for you.

     

    High Plains Drifter tells the tale of a “mysterious stranger”, played by Clint Eastwood, who arrives in a small frontier town indebted to a gang of gunfighters.  Since the stranger singlehandedly guns down the three men who were supposed to protect the town, they turn to him for help.  At night, he’s plagued by nightmares of a man being brutally whipped.  During the day, he’s helping the townsfolk prepare for when the gunfighters will come seeking payback.  At least, he says he is.  That’s all I’ll say for now, in case you still want to retain some mystery.

     

    High Plains Drifter is a classic western influenced by the works of Sergio Leone and Don Siegel and directed by Eastwood himself.  It’s also a rare example of a sci-fi western done really well.  40 years after its release, it’s still as popular as ever.  The (non-)twist at the end explains the way Eastwood’s character acts towards the townsfolk (even if it doesn’t excuse it), and presents a classic example of the type of undead we’re spotlighting this week.

     

    Stephen Monteith thinks Clint Eastwood would have been a perfect choice for Jonah Hex…40 years ago.  You can read his original fiction at Lulu.com.


  • Jodorowsky’s Dune

    jodorowskys_dune_poster

    I have to admit that I’m always a little bit cynical whenever I hear various film fans bemoaning films that were never made.  These are the films that were nearly made but ended up being abandoned because the production company ran out of money or maybe a lead actor died or maybe the studio refused to release it or else they released it in a heavily edited form.  There’s a certain tendency among hipsters to decide that any movie that they will never be able to see would automatically have been the greatest film ever.  It’s rare that anyone ever suggests that maybe it’s for the best that Stanley Kubrick never made his version of Napoleon or that maybe Ridley Scott’s version of I Am Legend would have been just as bad as the version that starred Will Smith or even that the footage that we have of Orson Welles’s unfinished The Other Side of The Wind doesn’t look that impressive.

    In fact, some day, I want to see a documentary about an abandoned film where everyone says, “Oh my God, I’m glad that movie never got made.  It would have sucked!”

    However, that documentary is never going to be made.  The great thing about praising a film that was never made was that you don’t have to worry about anyone watching the film and then going, “You have no idea what you’re talking about!”

    For instance, I recently watched an excellent documentary called Jodorowsky’s Dune.  This film tells the story of how the iconoclastic director Alejandro Jodorowsky attempted to make a film out of the science fiction novel Dune in the mid-70s.  During the documentary, Jodorowsky explains that his version of the story would, in many ways, be different from the book.  Since I’ve never read the book nor have I seen any of the various adaptations that actually were eventually produced, I can’t say whether Jodorowsky’s changes would have been an improvement.  For that matter, I can’t say whether or not Jodorowsky’s film would have been great or if it would have been a legendary misfire.  I’ve seen El Topo and The Holy Mountain so I’m pretty sure that his version of Dune would have been uniquely his own.  But there’s no way for me — or anyone else for that matter — to say whether or not the film would have been any good because, after assembling an intriguing cast (Orson Welles, Mick Jagger, Salvador Dali, and David Carradine) and recruiting several talented artists and technicians (H.R. Giger, Dan O’Bannon, Chris Foss, and Moebius), Jodorowsky was never able to make his film. The Hollywood studios took one look at Jodorowsky’s vision and said, “There’s no way were paying for that.”

    However, the documentary goes on to make a very intriguing argument that Jodorowsky’sDune may be the most influential film never made.  Many of the people who collaborated with Jodorowsky would go on to work on other science fiction films and, when they did, they brought with them many of the ideas and concepts that were originally developed for Dune.  The documentary not only suggests that this might be true but also offers up some pretty compelling evidence, showing us how everything from Raiders of the Lost Ark to Prometheus has featured scenes that originally appeared in Jodorowsky’s Dune storyboards.

    I may not be totally convinced that Jodorowsky’s Dune would have been the greatest film ever made but I love this documentary.  The majority of it is spent just listening as Jodorowsky, alternating between English and Spanish, tells us the story of what he hoped to do with Dune and how, ultimately, he could not do it.  Jordorowsky’s love of film and art is obvious with each word that he says.  Whether he’s talking about meeting Salvador Dali or passionately advocating for creativity and imagination, Alejandro Jodorowsky is never less than charming and inspiring.

    If you love movies, you’ll love Jodorowsky’s Dune.  If you don’t love movies, Jodorowsky’s Dune will change your mind.


  • Dawn of Justice Trailer Leaked! (Or maybe not.)

     

    "We're Bringing Grimdark Back!"

    Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

     

     

    SOMEWHERE AT WARNER BROTHERS
    *****************************************************************************************************

    “Damn. Marvel’s YouTube views have gone and leaped all the way out to the Andromeda galaxy! The early leak of the Age of Ultron teaser is the best thing to happen to them since they paired up a raccoon with a tree!”

    “Do you realize what you just said?”

    “Never mind that! We need to ‘accidentally’ leak the Dawn of Justice trailer! Don’t we own the other half of the world’s super-heroes? Superman, Batman, that boy in the tights, Xena, green guy, and Mister Fish?”

    “…..listen, the footage for that is still really, really raw, and I th-”

    “Cut a trailer. NOW.”

    ****************************************************************************************************
    COMING SOON TO THEATERS
    ****************************************************************************************************

    Lois Lane: “Superman! You just fried the Toyman’s eyeballs out of their sockets!”

    Superman: “Yes, yes I did. And being properly traumatized by it, I now can vow to never do it again in a realistic, grounded way, just like how breaking Zod’s neck was something I had to actually DO before realizing it’s wrong.”

    Lois: “….”

    Superman: “Welp, off to save others!” (flies through a building, leaving a massive, gaping fissure)

    Lois: “That does it. I’m lighting up the Bat Signal.”

    ——-

    Batman: “Hmmmm. This Superman. This Super…MAN. I’ll bet I can take him.”

    Alfred: “How, Master Bruce?”

    Batman: “By randomly exposing him to shiny rocks in the hopes that one will make him sick.”

    Alfred: “….brilliant, Sir.”

    Batman: “That’s why -I’m- the Dark Knight Detective.”

    ——

    Cyborg: “Hey, Diana! Welcome to the party! Wanna hit the limbo line?”

    Wonder Woman: “Actually, I’m pretty damn SICK of limbo.”

    Aquaman: “You said it.”

    ***********************************************************************
    SUPERMAN V. BATMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE…together, we can BE JUSTICE!
    ***********************************************************************

    “So, what did you think? Eh? EH?”

    “….”

    “What? Does it need more grimdark? We’ll make sure Superman rends Mister Mxyzptlk in the next one, to teach him the realistic, grounded lesson that it’s wrong.”

    “That’ll work.”

    *********************************************************************

    John Ellis is sure that the actual trailer and film will be a lot cooler.  At least, he hopes so.
    All characters, titles and images belong to DC Comics, used here for the purposes of parody and satire only.


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