Updated: Sep 6
CONPLAN 8888- WEEK TWO
My week started with a tutorial, As I identified the early stages are the most problematic, this is where I want the guidance the most. After talking to Ben, the zombie concept seems to be the one which I possibly can create the best outcome and I think I will have the most enjoyment possible from.
I re-read the CONPLAN document again, to analyse and find the question for the project. Part of the document was specifying the different types of zombies. Although at this stage I am not going to investigate this, it will become a factor later in the project. With this said there were two types that stood out as areas to investigate:
Pathogenic Zombies (PZ)- zombies created from organisms infected by a virus, bacteria or another form or contagion.
Chicken Zombies (CZ)- which, is an actual proven real-world zombie case, documented by Jonatan M Forester in 2006.
Both of these have already started formulating ideas, with collecting the chicken zombie article for future research. With the chicken one, I would be interested in creating more understanding to possibilities of this and have asked Alex Frost, who studied neuroscience at Keele University to discuss.
As well as banking this research, I have started to collect zombie related books. The document guide, the CONPLAN, listed a selection of resources to look through, and I feel validated that their research concept of using pop culture matches my method.
Further reading was suggested by Lorri Trewhella to read; The girl with all the gifts, which has a different take on the concept of my subject.
Some interesting ideas started to come through my reading of the CONPLAN document. The document subject’s environmental impacts in the event of a zombie break out. Water and shelter becoming issues. This are both interesting areas, due to the fact these would likely be commodities of high demand. Later in phase 0- shape, it is proposed as this stage to supply military with the correct personal protective equipment (PPE), which could easily be another commodity to the general population.
As it is suggested in the document, the virus likely could be spread similar to a pandemic influenza. As I mentioned last week, I believe that COVID-19 can provide some data to apply to this project.
I believe at this stage of the process, I am considering the concept of a zombie outbreak that instead the world becoming an apocalyptic space with few survivors here and there, to one that is spread but there is a level of control from being overrun. I think this avenue, allows a study into the reaction of the population.
The document states.
“The human instinct for self-preservation can cause newly infected zombie hosts to deny their imminent zombification.”
Something that raises how people would react to not only if they are infected or how they do on the news of a loved one having infection. Would possibly a semi-controlled outbreak (one where the zombies haven’t over run the police and army), would we see rituals, like natural flow tests on a weekly basis, or if testing positive how would it work of for the patient? Would they need to isolate for a period, or go to a specific place? Emotionally, considering the idea of self-preservation, how would this regulated and would be cheat to avoid showing a positive?
Another factor to consider is the reaction of people’s perception play into the outbreak, with conspiracy theorists and deniers of an outbreak. Those who believe that it is a foreign weapon or population control. I have made contact with two people already, who have strong view on the COVID-19 outbreak being a conspiracy.
With this idea of living with the outbreak, I mentioned before on the about commodities, such as shelter, water and PPE. Other items like drug development possibly could factor in. They are also the financial aspect of would we be locked down for months at peak infection points? What effects, positive or negatives, to capitalism would come from the event of a zombie outbreak?
This gives some avenues of design in this project, one being of providing information and the other of commercialisation of an outbreak. I believe this is a far more interesting take on this project over simply investigating a zombie survival kit.
WHITE ZOMBIE- WEEK THREE
For this week’s film, I choose White Zombie (1932). I believe the film and the book it is based on are first real documentation on the genre and have yet to discover any books previous to this.
In terms of this film been a classic horror with realistic undead tearing through Haiti, it is not, it was made in 1932! It does however give an insight into the folklore of Zombies and Voodoo in Haiti.
One of the first scenes, shows our protagonist, Neil Parker, travelling through a plantation on the island on a horse drawn carriage, with his fiancé Madeleine. The carriage stops and we see some figures approaching them. The driver calls out saying they are zombies, and they make haste to their destination. On their arrival they seem quite calm it is suggested they are now safe.
We later meet our villain, Murder Legendre, a voodoo master, who refers to his zombies as his slaves. In this exchange, Murder is plotting with the plantation owner Charles Beaumont, whom Neil and Madeline are staying with. Charles has fallen in love with Madeline and wants Murder to help him and making Madeline fall in love with him. Murder says the only way to achieve this is for Madeline to take a potion and become a zombie. Charles agrees and the potion is ingested by Madeline in the form of sniffing a rose, it worth noting that Murder had suggested a flower or a glass of wine, which holds a quite modern application in drugging women.
Madeline later dies in Neil’s arms and is later buried. Neil later gets drunk and sees Madeline rise from the dead, which starts his journey for answers. These all combinates in a stand-off at a castle with Neil, Murder and Charles, with Charles seeking redemption by pushing Murder off the cliff, although Charles loses his balance and follows. The death of Murder releases the spell and Madeline free.
One of the first points within this film is that zombiism is based upon a state in which the mind is controlled. Murder states that the zombies are his slaves and do his bidding, not of they are undead and process little brain activity and not much else. The film made me question the location and discovery that Haiti was rich with zombiism, embedded into its Voodoo culture.
Further research on the zombies in Haiti shows the undead corpses actually trace their roots to Haiti and Haitian Creole traditions that have their roots in African religious customs (Gandhi, 2013).
According to Haitian folklore, the book Race, Oppression and the Zombie recounts, zombies are the product of spells by a voodoo sorcerer called a bokor. The word is believed to be of West African origin and was brought to Haiti by slaves from that region. The concept of zombies would evolve further with the creation of the voodoo religion (Gandhi, 2013).
This demonstrates that the film, understood its origins and incorporated it into the story narrative.
DR DALES ZOMBIE DICTIONARY- WEEK THREE
Dr Dales Zombie dictionary is a A-Z guide of what to expect in the event of a zombie outbreak. It explains how electroconvolsive therapy would be a good methood of killing a zombie or that you probably should not take on the apocolypse without having a double expresso first.
Some parts of the book I would strongly disagree with. Early on into reading, Dr Dale expresses that he does not cover the concept of the zombies being anything but dead. He acknowledges that films like 28 days later and Left for dead cover the concept of a virus that reduces brain function and give the host a canibalistic behaviour, but he dismisses that as NOT a zombie. He later, in section C states there is no cure and thus the zombie must be extinquished.
With White Zombie being the first zombie book and film, I would argue that the concept of zombies does not have to be undead. In fact with it base sitting in the idea of a spell of control a zombie state would be move fitting of a person or animal thats brain function has being reduced to that of a basic instint or goal, regardless of any danger or outcome. For example, if a man that works a regular job, get a regular coffee in the morning and takes his dog out in the evening, contracts a virus that changes his primary function to source and eat brains, and has no regard for his own saftey or life in the basic need, i believe he, as Dr Dale puts it is not a cannibal. A cannibal, would still observe self-preservation. The man is a zombie, and in a zombie state.
This video, demostrates a concept of a paracitic wasp using hosts to incubate the lavae. The host, a catapillar, enters into a zombie state, where its only function is to protect the wasp lavae. This ultimateley ends the hosts life. As the science community states the catapilla enters a zombie state, due to infection and eventually dies through the process, this means that this concept is possible, in theory to happen to humans. This means that a human infected with a virus, but still be living could be refered to as a zombie.
This book potentially, however offers good advise on the protection of one-self in the event of an outbreak and I may potentially re-visit late in the project.
Night of the Living Dead- Week Four
Night of the living dead has to be one of the most iconic films within the zombie genre. It is regarded that the whole zombie genre, truly started off the back of George Romero’s classic. A movie full of suspense and mostly set in one room. The fear of what is coming over the idea of a constant rampage of the undead during the majority of the first and second acts.
Before we go forward in the analysis of issues portrayed in the film, Romero always said he hadn’t intended to make the film about race — insisting that Jones simply gave the best audition (Wilkinson, 2017). Which, like my intention to discuss race within the film, is frustrating. However, although Romero claims that race is not an issue within the film, the film does display issues of race and xenophobia, even if only coincidental.
The film was made in 1968, mere months after the assignation of Dr Martin Luther King, an advocate for black equality. The matter of racial equality was a big issue during this period of North American history, and to cast a black lead for a film, was likely, somewhat controversial. The portrayal of a black lead in a film at this time was almost certainly going to be under scrutiny.
Duane Jones, who plays Ben seems like a person in this crisis to have the best ideal of handling this outbreak. However, to suggest he is virtuous would be a stretch. Judith O’Dea, who plays Barbara, winds up in the same house after running from a zombie who attacked her brother. Barbara wants to go out to look for her brother, however, Ben is adamant he is dead and that they need to stay put. Ben is being smart and logical in comparison to Barbara, who is borderline hysterical. In her frustration she slaps Ben, who returns a punch (closed fist), knocking Barbara out. Although a reaction to what would be a tense situation, and with me viewing this with a 21st-century outlook, physical violence towards women is wrong, moreover, the issue that a woman’s slap would have a little impact on a man’s punch, based on those men are inherently stronger furthers an idea of an explosive and violent nature of our protagonist. Although domestic violence around this time may have been seen as more acceptable, I would question that Ben was more than capable of restraining Barbara at this moment and that you could possibly observe that this portrayed a black man to have an unreasonable violent temper.
As Barbara comes around, we are introduced to Mr Cooper, who has been hiding in the cellar throughout. Mr Cooper's first thought is to acknowledge the radio. When Ben points out that he could have come up sooner to investigate the banging and screaming, he was quick to point out it was not his concern. Ben and Mr Cooper exchanged in a debate over if it is safer to stay on the ground and the first floor of the house or to hide in the basement. Mr Cooper does initially offer the basement to all, but Ben is quick to point out that they, in his opinion are safer in the house. Mr Cooper is quick to draw the lines between the two areas of the house and demands the radio, to take to the basement. This I think is interesting as previously he was not concerned with the welfare of any survivors in the house, as not his problem, but now upset he cannot take a valuable resource with him as he creates apartheid within the house. His return to the basement is met with Mrs Cooper sarcastically informing Mr Cooper “he has to be right” and later saying “these people are not our enemies”.
The third act is the one, that from my post-movie research suggests where racism sit within this film. This I believe is trickier to justify from other points, in that the outbreak has died down in the house. All the occupants, except Ben, have died and the ordeal for Ben seems over. It’s the twist when the local sheriff and his team, are out despatching the zombies in somewhat of a cool manner. They are relaxed with a shoot on sight mindset. When seeing Ben in the house moving, a quick shot to the head finishes his ordeal in a somewhat more unceremonious manner. It is easy to suggest that he was shot for being black. However, I would argue that this is less about his race and more about an American attitude of shooting first ask questions later.
Overall, I can see the points of the issues raised about the making of this film and its message. The message of racism and xenophobia I believe is seen much earlier than the final act. The portrayal of Ben and Mr Cooper especially show one of violent temper and demand for a resource with no reasoning other than ‘I want it which possibly could have indicated, the white Mr Cooper should be allowed the resources over Ben via white privilege. In the final act, we can also associate through modern uses of Police abusing power, with a shoot first and asking questions later. Cases like Brianna Taylor or George Floyd as more recent examples of this attitude.
The Zombie Survival Guide-Week Four
The zombie survival guide, on a personal level, is one the book that peaked my interest in the idea of zombies. Like Dr Dales, Zombie dictionary, this is mostly a guide book on what you need to do in the event of an outbreak. Covered into catagories, such as transport, it points out the pros and cons of different options. As an example, the transport page breaks down the advantages of having a dirt bike over a car, due to manoverability, however, claiming that you might likely sucumb to non-zombie related accidents. Brooks lists straight after that a list of additional equiptment you should carry, which on the motorcycle would be untenable due to its weight and size. Brooks does fail to mention this in his critique of the motorcycle.
This survivalist guide pushes the readers imagination, as when absorbing the advise, you start to consider how prepared you are in the event of an outbreak. The last quarter of the book focuses in on case studies. How these studies are written, pushes you to consider if these were real accounts of outbreaks in history.
Like the zombie dictionary, this likely may become useful during the developement phase of this project. It is exactly a survial manual, which is a fun take on the genre away from the story telling side, and an essential for anyone with interest in the genre.
I am Legend- Week Five
for the purpose of this entry I am focusing on the alternative ending version of this film. This is because I believe will help with further insights intended for this project.
This weeks film was I am legend, I wanted this film on my list as it represents the concept of zombies as still living. This contradicts Dr Dales, Zombie dictionary, which states it will only consider zombies to only be undead (Seslick and Knight, 2010, p.10).
The film follows Robert Neville (played by Will Smith) and army officer based in New York, who is presumed to by the only survivor of an outbreak three years after scientist thought they had discvered a cure for cancer.
His journey starts off with his monatonus routine, of excercise, collecting supplies, signalling to any survivors in the city and live streaming experiments to find the cure to this illness. He did most of this with his only companion, his dog, Samamtha (Sam). Its very clear early on that the lack of human contact has made an impact to his mental health, as we see him start to bond relationships with mannaquins. One can only assume he had started placing these around his regular places he collected supplies as we see them in random places, such as video shops. This seems to suggest he had started forming bonds with these dressed pieces of fibreglass to maintain some normality in his routine.
We start to understand more of Nevilles character, through a series of flashbacks where the outbreak has just started and he tries to get his wife and daughter out of the city, which actually results in their deaths. His wife pleading with him to also come with them, but refusing based on the idea, it is his city to look after, he needs to find the cure and, overall, his responsibility.
Although, not explained why, we discover that Neville is immune from the virus. We also learn that animals are immune from the airborm strain of it. Animals, however can still contract the virus, through being bitten. As Neville is immune he is conducting tests on animals to see if he can provide a cure. We see one of his rat subjects seems to be responding well to a varient of the cure, which encourages him to capture a human subject. Through laying a trap he captures a female subject, which sparks a male to expose himself to daylight (this seems to be a side effect of the virus that they can only come out at night). Neville reports this action and states he believes that brain activity is almost non-existant.
This aquision of a female subject, sets the tone of the second act where, on his daily patrol around the city, finds one of his manniquins outside of a building. He questions why Fred, the manniquin is outside the building. This is a real test of his sanity, has he started to believe Fred is now alive? He starts to shoot a Fred, eventially destroying him. A moment after, he now suspects a trap and looks up and building expecting someone to be there, as he occupies his mind with that, he fails to suspect a trap, similar to the one he layed earlier, has being set for him. With this the trap is sprung and he bangs his haed knocking him out. On awaking, to the sound of Sam barking, Nevilles foot is tied to a rope hanging int the air. He does have a knife handy, and after a struggle releases himself. Unfortunately on his fall the knife enters his leg. He know has limited time to get back to the car to return to saftey. As the sun goes down, we are introduced to zombie dogs, which run to attack him and Sam. Although He and Sam do fight the dogs off, Sam is biten.
Rushing back to the house, where the lab is, Neville gives sam, what he believes is the antidote. It does not work and she turns as hes holding her, the hold turns to strangulation as he kills, what is at this point his only friend. The expression from Neville in this moment is one of extreme pain. After this, Neville takes himself down a reckless path to punish the Zombies. Where he starts driving over them in an attempt to kill as many as possible. It is clear that he has lost all care for his own well-being. The car is eventually turned over and we are to expect his demise soon. However, a bright light from a flare scares off the zombies and he is rescued.
At this point, it is worth discussing the emotional struggle of Neville. He has made himself responisble for the situation, it not explained if he was a creator of the diesease and he never being associated with it. In terms of pharmasuticles, this is a private entity and one must assume a scientist working for the army would most likely not have involment. This responsibility, likely has been percieved through a protector achitype for the character.
what is more interesting is experienceing the lonliness of the character. His only friend is his dog and he has conversations with people and being ignored. Are the manniquins a representation of what many experience in everyday life, especially in a city where people are likely must colder to strangers. I myself, from experience have found it more difficult to seek people willing to help me with directions in London compared to when in small towns. This means his only source of companionship is with Sam, something in modern society we would mock with terms like 'crazy cat lady', not willing to wanting to be friends with these people. This is why the scene with Sam is more heartbreaking as we know that Neville will now be completley alone.
The story continues with Neville being introduced to Anna and Ethan, the people who saved him. Anna has stitched up his leg. However Neville is upset over Anna making Ethan powdered eggs. He explains he was saving it, SImilar to in Zombieland where Talahassy is in search of a twinkie. In a post-apocalyptic world simply everyday items would certainly become the treats.
The story continues with Neville, Anna and Ethan going around the city, Neville questioning how he was captured, claiming it must have been through "Human" intervention. as we enter the final act, we see the zombies raid Nevilles house. The combinates in the three of them hiding in the lab, where the zombie test subject seems to be responding to the treatment. As the three enter the room they manage to hide behind some glass doors as the zombies enter. The zombie that had exposed himself to sunlight earlier leads a charge to getting to the tree. This is where Neville realises that the zombies only wanted the captive woman. Neville asks Anna to open the door, she asks why, where he responds "I'm listening" .With the woman reunited with the pack the film ends.
The reason for wanting to anaylis the alternative ending was for this final scene. Part of Nevilles journey was not seeing the zombies as sentient. His narrative was these people needed curing and some of the search of the cure, resulted in others dying every time he got a test subject, earlier in the film Anna asked while looking at all the photos of the subjects if they all died, Neville coldly answered yes in a quite dismissive tone. The later realisation of reuniting the woman was an apitheny that they are in fact sentient and still feel. What I like about this scenario is that we can form an arguement to if its ethically right to abuse or dispose of zombies.
Army of the Dead- Week 8
Instead of breaking down whole plots in my blogs, I will now just focus on ideas and issues raised. This is because I have found myself spending too much time breaking down plots that are not actually necessary to the project. I will leave links where possible.
With the areas, I have considered defining my project, Army of the Dead covers all three. After an escaped "zombie" from a military transport gets out and kills the soldiers guarding its transportation, it heads to the nearest city, Las Vegas. Three years later, Vegas is barricaded off from the rest of the world. The city is divided into two parts. Ground zero, where the zombies are and then a refugee camp for survivors, who can not afford to leave. A team is assembled to go in to recover $200 million, which the owner already states the insurance has already paid out.
Abuse of authority
In the refugee camp, we witness, the refugees, volunteers and security. The guard Burt Cummings, shows his abuse of power early on in the film. He has the 'power' to have people taken away on his say so. Getta points out that no one will question him. He uses this power to sexually harass the women in the camp. This is confirmed later by Lilly, who justifies setting him up to be taken by the zombies, that he was raping the women in the camp. She essentially, excuses street justice, through the idea that he was not going to be stopped by higher authorities and that they needed to make a sacrifice, so why not a rapist.
Greed and control
The basis of the plot is about greed. Although, the mercenaries, have their reasons for wanting their cut of the money. It is through the initial idea that the casino owner wants the money in the vault, even though he has already been compensated for it. The mercenaries are prepared to face certain death (or at least some of them) to try and get their cut.
The team is accompanied by Martin, who has his own secret mission. His mission, he explains when he double-crosses the team is the real reason for going in, which is to collect a zombie's head. The head, in Martins's words, is more valuable than the money, as the head could be used for military applications. Ownership of such a item, that can be used as a weapon would certainly give the owner control on others through the fear of releasing it.
Like, I am legend (alternative ending), we see thee leader of the zombies have an emotional attachment to a female zombie. With the exception of the 'living offering' in the form of Burt, the main hive of zombies is not interested in the mercenaries. Until the zombie queen is captured and decapitated. We see our had zombie return the body to the hive and this is where we discover that she was pregnant. This sends the mission into chaos as he unleases the zombies upon the mercenaries.
Lily, early on points out that Vegas has become their kingdom and there is a hierarchy. Suggesting that, although in a zombie state there is also community. The tension in the film is that they are going to drop a nuclear bomb on the city, which although you would not want the zombies roaming free, they are contained. The zombies are a society, although not conventional (to western standard), and the United States government are to extinguish the community, with no real investigation of them as people. This comes back the idea zombies are simply a threat and must be destroyed.
Although, technically, you could argue that the first death is the soldiers, who are white. I would argue the first significant death is Burt. Theo Rossi, who plays Burt is of mixed race: Italian, Spanish, Syrian, Lebanese, and North African (Ngozika, 2018).
As well as being the first significant death, Burt is also portrayed as an evil man. We see a further two non-whites die in the film before a white death.
I looked at this idea of non-whites dying first in zombie films. The Huffington Post, tested this idea, sampling 25 horror films and concluded that 52 per cent of the time white women would be the first to die. Although this sample pool is far to small to conclude what demographic dies first (Newcomb, 2013).
Self-absorbance and the apocalypse (DEAD SET MINI-SERIES)
This week's first media choice is Dead Set, based on a zombie apocalypse within the Big Brother house. Generally, this is a straightforward zombie infestation mini-series, that happens to be based around a once-popular reality series.
What is different, is the cultural issues placed within the series. Patrick Goad (Andy Nyman) becomes a key character in the social commentary in the series. He has no respect for the contestants in the house, his view is these people just want to become famous and rich, quick, through the reality show. His view is these people are lazy and don't deserve any rewards for participating in what was once a social experiment. Ironically, he is also happy to, himself, reap the benefits of the show in his capacity as the show's producer. Patrick, as a character, represents a man who only believes in his own self-interest. We see at the start, his biggest fear starts with not an outbreak happening, but as the news spreads the fear that his show might be replaced by the news. Pre-outbreak and post-outbreak he bullies all around him, He eventually, through manipulating one of the surviving housemates, Joplin (Kevin Eldon) into helping him to escape the compound, with no regard for the consequence of the other survivers, which, eventually,. sees the other survivers become turned.
Although Patrick is portrayed as the "almost" villain character in the series, we see the other survivors also act in self-interest or are more concerned over their status. Joplin, who is the older member of the Big Brother house, something that seemed part of the diversity of the series, displays some odd behaviour, one of which being, when presented with the opportunity to abuse trust on spying on another contestant, Veronica, in the shower. Although, Veronica, is aware of Joplins vourisms, and refers to him as a creep, she is almost not bothered by his actions also. Another example of self-absorbance is when three of the survivers go out to find medical supplies, Marky sees he is on the cover of heat. Instead of worrying about the threat of the zombies, is more concerned with how the public perceive him. This is one of the more blatant cases of self-absortion in the series.
Space (Adam Deacan) is possibly the most level headed person in the group, He shows forward thinking with instances of closing the gate as well as working collaboratively with the other housemates. Even when facing his fate of becoming a zombie, he is still working to try and save whoever else is left. Space, races a situation of racism as two police see him when he is out collecting the aforementioned supplies. While on his knees with both officers pointing their guns at him, it is only when they realise he is on Big Brother that they ease off, not before telling him he's the "almost" black one.
This is a quite modern example of people, in the United Kingdom might respond to an outbreak. Like in Army of the Dead with Mikey Guzman killing zombies for likes on social media, would we see people more concerned with how they are perceived as others other the need for survival. It is also worth noting that others may act against the interest of a group to make sure they survive.
With Shaun of the Dead, Instead of a full breakdown of the film, with the theme of my allegory, likely to be based on race equality, the last scene picks up on something that may be unnoticed by the audience. This is a year since the outbreak, zombies are been used within the service industry. As part of small clips and part of a range of tv shows looking into the event, this is likely a quickly dismissed or humorous result of the movie. It does question, though an ethical issue with the situation.
I sent out the video clip with the simple question of what people thought about the idea of using zombies as unskilled labour. The second response was the most interesting, in that there was an issue with the zombies taking away from humans for jobs. Is this a similar attitude to that of migrants working unskilled jobs in the UK?
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