Vegans

vegans

Vegans: When the remake of Day of the Dead came out we got a new take on the classic character “Bub.” The original version was a zombie that was learning to use tools and communicate with the humans around him. In the new version he was called “Bud,” and was a “friend” to one of the soldiers and wouldn’t eat people at first because, it was supposed, that while he was alive he was a vegetarian. It was a new, and honestly, unsatisfying take on the zombie that seems more like a gimmick than anything else. That being said, vegans, who get turned into zombies will end up like very other zombie in most cases. So a true vegan zombie is the variety that don’t eat people. (Note: There is apparently a movie called Vegan Zombies I have yet to check out.)

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Sugar Skulls

I’ve been working on a design for a sugar skull tattoo for a friend. This is a working image, just a doodle. I don’t mean for it it have a black background, I’m just playing with shapes and images.

It’s been quite fun playing with the imagery and got me to look into the history and beauty behind the sugar skull.

MK Sugar Skull
So, what’s a sugar skull? 
Sugar skulls are closely associated with the Mexican Day of the Dead celebrations held on November 1st and 2nd. That’s the Catholic holiday of All Soul’s Day. You know it because it used to be called All Hallow’s Day and the day before, October 31st was All Hallow’s Eve or Halloween.

The idea is that on November 1st the souls of deceased children come back to earth to visit relatives followed by adults on the 2nd. This isn’t in keeping with traditional Christian tradition but shows and interesting blend of the native culture with that of the Europeans who came and settled (conquered) in Mexico.

And here is where I defer to the experts with an excerpt from this awesome site: mexicansugarskulls.com 

“Sugar Skull Tradition
Sugar art was brought to the New World by Italian missionaries in the 17th century. The first Church mention of sugar art was from Palermo at Easter time when little sugar lambs and angels were made to adorn the side altars in the Catholic Church.

Mexico, abundant in sugar production and too poor to buy fancy imported European church decorations, learned quickly from the friars how to make sugar art for their religious festivals. Clay molded sugar figures of angels, sheep and sugar skulls go back to the Colonial Period 18th century. Sugar skulls represented a departed soul, had the name written on the forehead and was placed on the home ofrenda or gravestone to honor the return of a particular spirit. Sugar skull art reflects the folk art style of big happy smiles, colorful icing and sparkly tin and glittery adornments. Sugar skulls are labor intensive and made in very small batches in the homes of sugar skull makers. These wonderful artisans are disappearing as fabricated and imported candy skulls take their place.”

Sugar Skull Tattoos
Tattoos of decorated skulls have a lot of similar meaning to the sugar skulls people eat as permanent reminders celebrating the lives of the loved ones e’ve lost. As with anything in our popular culture, they have grown and developed in their own ways. Less traditional images may have some fun or comedic images worked in whereas traditional images may be steeped in the history of the Day of the Dead.

Here are five of my favorite designs.

Maj. Cooper

Maj. Cooper
Major Cooper appeared briefly in the original version of Day of the Dead. During the movie we learn that some U.S. Army stragglers are holding out in a base in Florida. Hiding out with them are some scientists who are trying to figure out what’s going on with this whole dead-walking-the-earth thing, one of whom is doing experiments on the zombies to try and figure out what the hell is going on. Major Cooper was one of the top brass in the military survivors camp until something happened. Everyone believes he was buried but one of the scientists in the lab stole his body and had a test subject buried in his place.

Honestly I don’t like Day of the Dead very much and in part it’s because of the nutty head scientist in the movie. He’s SUCH a  stereotypical “mad scientist” that he comes across as comical and unrealistic. At the same time the movie tries to answer some pretty big questions about the zombies. This seems to be the one thing it actually does right and tells us a lot about how the zombies act and function. We learn that the desire to eat is from the most basic parts of our brains and if that is changed or removed, the zombies SHOULD in theory stop being hungry. Of course it only takes around fifteen hours of surgery and can only be done by a handful of people meaning it’s totally useless.

Doctor Tongue

I wasn’t sure what this fellow was actually called and had mistakenly been calling him zipper face since he sort of resembles a popular Halloween costume. After searching about a bit I finally found his real name, the venerable Doctor Tongue.

Dr. Tongue

Doctor Tongue is one of the first zombies we see in Romero’s Day of the Dead. He’s a horribly deformed zombie with a face that’s been seriously messed up. His lower jaw is partly missing and his teeth are all messed up with his tongue lolling out and his face split in the middle. He probably ended up that way from a  blast or a chop to the face. No matter what though, if you see him coming, head the other way!

Day of the Dead 2008

So I’ve come to Day of the Dead 2008. The original Day of the Dead was one of my least favorite of the original Romero films. I can’t say much more for the remake.

Day_of_the_dead_ver2
The poster art is pretty wonderfully gruesome. It’s the sort of drippy gooey sort of gore I like in a horror movie.

That may be the last positive thing I have to say in this review but I’ll try to keep on the bright side.

One of the things that threw me off right away was the fact that Ving Rames is in this. Nothing against Ving Rames, he’s kind of awesome, but he was a character in the remake of Dawn of the Dead so his presence in this movie as a TOTALLY DIFFERENT CHARACTER feels a LOT like the casting of the second Return of the Living Dead movie in which several actors were brought back to play totally different characters, all of their original characters having died in the first film.

As I was casting around for information about the film before writing this I found statements by Rames regarding his involvement in both movies to the effect that the movie was a remake of the Romero movie but stands on its own apart from the remake of Dawn.  Another amazing thing is that these two movies are apparently unconnected? Sooooo, someone remade Dawn of the Dead in 2004 and it was a box office hit then these guys come along and decide to remake Day of the Dead and that’s TOTALLY unrelated?

Sorry, but I have to call shenanigans on that one. They made this movie as a follow up to Dawn as a way to make money and didn’t have the connections or the official go ahead or whatever to make it a direct sequel to the remake of Dawn even though it is. They did however manage to get Ving into the movie. I’m willing to let the politics behind the scenes of the making of hollywood movies go as I don’t care much about it but when it blatantly effects the viewing pleasure of the movie it’s hard to let it go.

On to other things. Day of the Dead plays out in a fairly typical way for zombie movies. It takes place during a medical outbreak in a small Colorado town in which the infected dead rise up and start destroying the world. You know this already I’m sure, or could have guessed it. This movie differs a bit from others as it closely follows the actions of military personnel and their reaction to the outbreak and attempts to keep it under control. It also offers us a real answer to how the outbreak happened and who caused it.

Oddly enough, as interesting as that is, it’s sort of a disappointment by the time this movie comes along. So what if there is a crazy scientist? So what if it’s a government program gone crazy? So what if there is a secret military base? We’ve seen all that in other movies and not just the original Day of the Dead.  the answers the movie gives us just don’t seem to matter especially when the questions are so much more fun.

It’s tough to sum up all the crappy points about this movie beyond the bad story line, the lack of character development, the shallow character development in the few we do get to know and the screw-ball super powered super scientist leader of the zombies in the army bunker. Ok, that REALLY should be addressed.

As the Romero zombies progressed he introduced higher and higher levels of intelligence and understanding in his zombies including the character Bub in the original Day of the Dead. Bub manages to get into this remake as well as a soldier named “Bud” (more modern I guess) who won’t attack the female soldier because he has an attachment to her and possibly because he was a vegetarian before he died.

Much like the original Day of the Dead this movie is just a typical gore fest with a fairly boring story and action. I have to admit to liking it just a tad more than the original but liking one pile of crap more than another isn’t saying much.

Bub

This week I’m going to take a look at five famous zombies.

bub

Bub is probably one of the most well-known zombies from George Romero’s zombie series. We met him in Day of the Dead. He was a tool user who was captured and experimented on by a government scientist. He seemed to like music, and showed loyalty towards some of the humans. He even made it into the remake though in a slightly different form and his name being changed to Bud instead of Bub.

Honestly I’m not a big fan of Day of the Dead or Bub despite how iconic his image is. He’s more of a comical character than a tragic one and I just never felt sold on him in the story. One way Day of the Dead tries to advance the story of the zombie apocalypse is by showing what happened in a different part of the country, sunny Florida instead of cloudy Pennsylvania, and by showing what happened to some of the military when the outbreak happened. But once again it’s people holed up in a bunker with all sorts of horrible issues with relating to others to contend with and the zombies at the gates. In other words, pretty much the exact same story we saw in the previous two films. I would have much rather seen the story of a wandering gang like the bikers in Dawn or more of the panic in the city we saw at the start of Dawn. If they wanted to take the story further by showing a coastal city trying to rebuild in the aftermath and the place was ruled by the military, all those things would have been better. Day just seemed to miss the mark for me.

What do you think?

brain eaters

brain eatersThough most of the movies in the series are pretty bad, Return of the Living Dead is a pretty influential zombie flick from the 80’s. It not only gave us talkers, and fast moving zombies like we had never seen before, it also gave us brain eaters.

As I mentioned in my post of flesh eaters, all zombies eat people and all zombies eat flesh. The zombies in Return of the Living Dead however were the first to specifically go after people for their brains. Keep an eye out though because they don’t just eat brains. They eat flesh just like all other zombies, though they will go after the brain as soon as possible. It was a real shock to hear these previously groany nasties suddenly start talking. And it was all the more horrifying that the one thing they kept saying was how much they want to eat us!

Why the brain should be eaten by zombies is a bit of a mystery though. During the movie one of the creatures says that it eases the pain of being dead, that she can feel herself rot. There is nothing biologically or chemically accurate about the consumption of brains easing pain and seems to be a psychological desire. In Romero’s Day of the Dead it’s pointed out that even though a zombies stomach and guts were removed it still tried to feed. So this need to feed whether on flesh or on brains seems to be purely in the creatures heads. (How appropriate.)

It does seem a bit odd though that the zombies would even be able to get at the brain. It’s harder than it seems though they seem to be really good at biting no matter the state of decay.