The Undead

Hello! I am back once again to talk about the scary BOO! No I’m not talking about ghosts, maybe next time. I am writing this about the undead creatures that go bump in the night because you did not invest in night lights, and they don’t know where they are going. Humanoid undead are going to be my main focus in this post, but undead animals can be super mega robot stalker creepy too.

Humanoid undead hint at the darker nature of humanity in general. They represent the darker impulses within us all. A little part of us dies every time we endure some sort of trauma, but what happens when there is very little left alive in our soul? The stories of vampires, zombies, and werewolves are interesting to me because of the parallel the draw with humanity. There are 2 sides to every coin, but the darkness can overtake both sides.

Zombies

So what makes a zombie? Generally they are dead people who are brought back to roam the earth while their flesh rots. Is there any part of their soul left? What about parts of the person they were before? I have seen many films where they speak to the dead to get information from them. I prefer the ‘Night of the Living Dead’ version of zombie where they lurch around attacking the living.

To me a zombie represents our lowest base instincts. The need to breathe, eat, and pay taxes… maybe not that last one. The desire to cling to life at any cost keeps them moving. They don’t have any higher level thought processing going on upstairs though. Much like some people I know, the wheel is spinning, but the hamster died long ago. What makes them human is gone, but they still look the part… at least until those parts fall off.

Vampires

Vampires have been depicted as everything from sparkly rainbow powered monsters of the dreamy to relentless killing machines that want to suck you dry. Like people they retain more of their soul than zombies do. They all have unique personalities that can make them as diverse as people are. Their bodies are decaying just as the zombies are and they are clinging to life like the zombies do, but they are able to stave off the decay. The blood they drink is restorative. Perhaps if they no longer get the blood they need then they too will become as the zombies are.

I like to think of Vampires as being a bit magical as well. It is mostly used to mask their decay. Their illusions trick some into providing blood to them. The fictional vampires I prefer are masters of illusion who seem to never age, but underneath the illusions they do indeed rot. The blood they consume helps to lessen the rot. It slows the rot down to the point where it is a gradual process, similar to aging but much slower. Their immortality ends up being another illusion that eventually they can no longer maintain.

These illusions are like the fronts all people put up to protect themselves. People try to show their best version to others while hiding all of the deep dark secrets that are held within. Those secrets eat at us and cause us to decay in a way. If only there were some kind of magical restorative liquid to make that darkness go away. Perhaps the violent act of getting the blood further rips at the soul of the vampire which causes the body to decay quicker even as the consumption of blood restores it. Maybe the larger the burden we carry inside does the same to us as well even though for moments we can let that burden go.

This is why I find these creatures so fascinating in fiction. They represent the darker side of humanity. This shows that the real monsters are human in nature. That can be the most terrifying part of the stories that hold these fictional creatures. I think that gets lost in these tales because we are so ready to dismiss them as monsters, but what if they are all people who have simply embraced the darker side of humanity?

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The Last Jedi

I went to see the new Star Wars event movie yesterday and it was very very good. If you haven’t seen it yet then what are you doing reading this????  Where are your priorities at? GO SEE IT ALREADY.

I do have a few thoughts on the film from a writing perspective. There are always some campy moments in Star Wars, but they only seemed natural with the original cast. The new addition of bird creatures added a couple of moments of comic relief, but they kept shoving them in the audience’s face where they served no purpose other than as a marketing tool to sell merch.

The Last Jedi begins with what seems like a large time jump after The Force Awakens. At the beginning of the new films the Empire is dead and the Republic is hunting down the last remnants of The First Order who are in hiding. At the end of the film you get the sense that The First Order are a threat to the Republic and have dealt a massive blow, but both sides are maybe on equal footing now in the battle to come. At the beginning of The Last Jedi it is more like the tiny resistance is trying to fight off an overwhelming force led by Commander Snoke. So what happened in between? Maybe I need to watch both movies again?

The writers also tried to do too much within the confines of one film. They did a great job of tying everything together, but it might have worked better if it had been broken up and parts of this film were used in the next one. Many times when writers do this you end up with parts feeling rushed or they just don’t make any sense (Batman v Superman). With The Last Jedi you get a feeling of it being rushed, but it is so awesome that you don’t really mind it too much.

Now I want to talk about the good stuff. The original trilogy of Star Wars was great because of the underdog nature of the films and the moments that they build up that cause you to watch with your mouth agape like HOLY SHHHH… Moments like the first time you see the Death Star blow up, Vader’s confession that he is Luke’s father, Vader turning on Emperor Palpatine. These moments were for the most part missing from the prequel films, although seeing Yoda fighting with Dooku was epic. The Last Jedi reminds us of why we love Star Wars, and it has several of those amazing moments that will stick with you. This is why The Last Jedi will be considered one of the very best Star Wars movies. I can’t wait to go see it again.

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Lady Bird

I went to see Lady Bird today, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Saoirse Ronan is a fantastic actress. It seems like she is only getting better with each subsequent film. Lady Bird is a coming of age film that captures the angst and generational gap that we all feel at that age. The drama isn’t anything we haven’t seen before, but it is done very well. The biting sarcastic dialogue and relationships between the characters are what make the movie. It isn’t exceptionally great at any one thing, but it is good at nearly everything. The one thing that stuck with me about the film is that you cannot make anyone do what you want them to. They are going to do what they want to. It’s a theme that continues throughout the film and it rings true to life.

One of my writer friends asked an open question on Facebook asking how to build a story off an ending and a vague idea of a beginning. My answer was to develop the character in your head then figure out how their motivations would lead them toward that ending. The steps in a story become easier to write if you understand the motivations of your characters. Each one is going to do what they want regardless of what you (the writer) want them to do. If you force them to do something out of character then it will not feel authentic and your readers will notice.

Writing Update

I just got back from seeing The Disaster Artist film. What I found amazing about it was how ridiculous the story was, but then at the end you realize that the actors pretty much nailed the characters they were playing. The film is based on true events and proves that life can be stranger than fiction. I wasn’t expecting the film to be as good as it was, but was pleasantly surprised. Oh, I guess I should include a writing update here as well. Weeeee

Currently editing Virtual Wars: Running on Page 5 of 88

The Unknown


What are you afraid of? We are all afraid of something, ghosts, demons, being alone, heights, confetti, or perhaps dragons. Some of the things that are the most terrifying are the things we don’t understand, the unknown.

Why do we fear what we don’t understand? What is so terrifying about things that cannot be explained? Are we as a species so in need of control that we cannot simply let things be without explanation? Or is it something more primal?

I imagine that throughout the history of man there were many points where we came upon new things that caused us great harm for no reason we could explain. This fear of new things and change was passed down through the generations. Today leaving the comfort of what you have always know to venture out into a world that can be cold and uncaring seems like a terrifying prospect. Being forced into a new situation would be even more terrifying. We are all creatures of habit, and disrupting our routine is always stressful and can be scary.

In America fear is marketed on a large scale every day as if it is a major product. Changes that are very unlikely or impossible are marketed as being something that is certain to come in the very near future. Local news programs report on crime, murder, robbery, and then there is the truly terrifying reports of the weather. This can lead us to fear others and the decisions that they make. Those decisions are never going to be under our control, but could have a major impact on our lives, or deaths. We are primed for anything to startle us. Is the bump in the night the cat, or is it some monster hiding under our bed waiting for us to close our eyes? The doubt is what keeps night light makers in business.

This also makes Sci Fi and Fantasy such a natural match for horror stories as well. For everything we know there are a lot of things that we don’t understand. There are so many ways in which scientific experiments could go horribly wrong. Fantasy takes this several steps further into a fictional world where the physical laws are different. They allow for things like magic to exist. It could also allow for unimaginable horrors like Deadpool’s unicorn.

Life is special, but you have a better chance to win the lottery than the Earth does at being the only planet in existence to have life. Not knowing the form that life takes can make them terrifying. What if they are all sentient boogers? Can you imagine trying to talk with them? The same can be said of supernatural beings. Having some entity that is not visible speak or move objects is super creepy.

The unknown also pushes us to achieve great things. We strive to answer the questions we have and stamp out this fear of the unknown. Our curiosity can also lead to our doom. Just ask Marie Curie.

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