Sunday, January 16, 2011

"Zombie Jamboree"

Don't get it. No, sir. Try as I might, I don't get the attraction that the media and pop culture in general have recently adopted for All Things Zombie. To briefly summarize for those of you who might've been holing up in a storm cellar: zombies are usually the result of some strain of deadly virus which kills perfectly good, loving, productive members of society, turning them into a flesh-eating, menacing corpses which feed upon other perfectly good, loving, productive members of society, thus turning them into zombies. And so it goes. I don't get the entertainment value in this.

But apparently America does. You've got "The Walking Dead" a mini-series which is poised to possibly take Best Drama at the Golden Globes tonight, besting the far superior "Mad Men". Dozens of zombie novels line the book shelves, including the new genre of mash-ups, like Paul Is Undead: The British Zombie Invasion, an alternate history novel in which The Beatles (except Ringo Starr, depicted as a ninja) are zombies, and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which is pretty much self-explanatory. And scores of zombie-themed video games give anyone the chance to be their own one-person zombie militia.

To illustrate how zombies have taken a bite, if you will, into the zeitgeist, I offer the topic of our summer party. Every year we host a carefully-planned summer party, detailed to the nines, which inevitably results in at least one of our friends labelling us "the Gatsbys of the Chicago Western Suburbs". This year, we just can't seem to come up with a good theme we both like. We've done movies, 60's and hippies, beatniks, tiki, Western, and more. Jokingly, I said to Ben, "Why don't we host a 'Zombie Jamboree'?", liking the title more than the actual theme. But Ben thought it was brilliant (Note: the party theme is still in flux as of this blog post).

So it was under the influence of a good Polish vodka and apple juice cocktail that I acquiesced and watched "Zombieland" last night. And, to my delight, I finally found a zombie film I could cuddle. Yes, cuddle.

Starring the brilliant Woody Harrelson and Jesse Eisenberg (a young, quirky, charming and affable actor I adored in Adventureland), the film takes you through a zombie apocalypse in a fresh, irreverent and achingly funny way. The screenplay is riddled with memorably quotable lines. And the main characters are drawn to a mecca of sorts, a place they hear is uninfested with zombies: Pacific Playland (thought to be California's Magic Mountain, but actually filmed at Wild Adventures Theme Park, in Valdosta, GA.)

Our heroes ride the rides to escape the zombies. Zombies amble aimlessly into rides in motion, to zombie-flattening results. There's even the dreaded Zombie Clown.

But perhaps I've given too much away already.

Rent it, see it. Trust me -- it'll change the way you look at zombie films forever.

And please, have some Twinkies on hand. Believe me; you'll be jonesing.

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