Here's a little Friday evening joy for our loyal readers, especially kristYn from cali (though I can never remember, kristYn, are you for or against zombies?) and my good friends Jane and Brian who helped inadvertently launch the Drive-in reviews years ago when they started inviting me over on weekends for food, booze, and–quite often–braaaiiins.
First up, with both fast-moving and slow-moving zombies lurching their way into movies, comic books, pub crawls, and even classic literature, it was only a matter of time before someone opened a zombie bar. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported a few weeks ago on Donny Dirk's Zombie Den. This new Twin City bar not only features brain-devouring drinks and anti-zombie decor (such as a chainsaw in a glass case that reads "In case of zombie attack, break glass"), but even the bartenders are dressed as… no, not zombies, but as Simon Pegg's character Shaun in kristYn's favorite zombie movie, Shaun of the Dead.
The bar itself has a delightfully notorious history that fits right in with its new undead resurrection: it used to be local legendary hang out Stand Up Franks, a very old bar that in recent years had become a constant presence on police blotters for its parade of fights, prostitution, drugs, stabbings, and shootings. Franks closed in April of this year, and the new owners of the Zombie Den promise their goofy fantasy horror theme should keep things from reverting back to real-life horrors. If not, there's that chainsaw…
And while this is not exactly movie news, zombie fans and fans of fine SF/horror television should be thrilled to learn that Frank Darabont, director of The Shawshank Redemption and the much-overlooked The Mist, has signed with AMC to create, write, and direct a cable series based on Robert Kirkman's amazing zombie comic book, The Walking Dead.
We're always talking about how really ambitious genre stories would be better served by a really well-done cable series rather than crammed into two-hour movies… well, we're getting our wish here. Kirkman's Walking Dead is a must-read. It is not your average zombie yarn–it's full of all sorts of thoughtful things like character development and logical, suspenseful storytelling. Despite the title, zombies are not the point of The Walking Dead; it's about how real humans would respond and survive, and connect and clash following a zombie collapse of civilization. There's still tons of stomach-clenching suspense and action, and best of all, anyone can die at anytime.
Most of all, Kirkman is telling a long-form story–you can't break it down, chop it up, and fit it into a neat three-act arc in under two hours. An ongoing cable series–along the lines of Battlestar Galactica–is the way to go. And while I've never been one of the Shawshank fanatics (you know who you are), I've always respected Darabont's integrity and devotion to character and story. And if you think he can't do end-of-the-world horror and despair and its psychological ramifications for survivors, well bruddas and sistas you need to see The Mist. Come for the fun comic-book creatures and gore, but be prepared for one of the most harrowing, cruel, horror-show endings in a long time. Darabont may be all about humanism in his films like Shawshank, The Green Mile, and The Majestic, but in The Mist Mean Frank comes out. That mix makes him perfect to adapt The Walking Dead, a book that knows a little bit about inflicting cruelty on realistic characters you've come to know and love.
Don't go away! There's special Blob news–and music–over the jump!
(By the way, while I'm looking forward to Zombieland this fall, I'm also very excited to see if Paramount ever gets the film adaptation of Max Brooks' World War Z off the ground. An amazingly fun and gripping book–in that End-of-the-World way. Paramount is currently doing script re-writes and looking for a director to replace Marc Forester.)
Finally, not all Zombie news is good Zombie news. Let it be noted that Halloween II re-maker (and musician) Rob Zombie will write and direct a redo of The Blob. This would be the second remake of the 1958 classic that featured a young Steve McQueen fighting off a giant red Jell-O dessert–the 1988 version starred Kevin Dillon (Johnny Drama!).
Zombie says the first thing to go is the blood-red blobbiness. My guess is he'll want to go with something maybe a little darker, grittier… more like bread pudding than Jell-O. Now I'm not a Rob Zombie hater–I'm no fan of his Halloween remakes, but with stuff like The Devil's Rejects, I do kind of admire the really sleazy, grungy, mean-spirited vibe he's going for. I don't think he makes good movies, but I get and respect the kind of movies he's trying to make.
And really, we always complain about remakes of our beloved, favorite classic films. Well, if Zombie has to remake something, isn't it better that it's The Blob and not, say, The Exorcist or Jaws? (Oh god, don't anyone get any ideas…) If we're really lucky maybe Zombie will do a cover of the excellent Blob Song, written by Burt Bacharach!! (Be sure to listen all the way through for the lyrics.)
And that, kids, is your redblob…er redblog Zombie Report for this week!