Dead on arrival

American Movie Classics has been running its traditional Halloween scare-a-thon movie marathon, and yesterday I watched a little bit of a zombie movie.

Like everyone, I am captivated by the undead.

What makes zombies so interesting is that they move around sort of like living humans, but they’re deadly dangerous, have no sexual allure whatsoever (unlike vampires) and their existence puts survivors into all sorts of moral quandaries. It’s why The Walking Dead is so popular. While arrows to the eyeballs is fun a couple times an hour, you really can’t take a steady diet of close encounters with rotting flesh. So, like The Stand, most of your time needs to be spent on how the living cope with the apocalypse.
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Stephen King, when writing The Stand, chose a deadly strain of the flu virus to wipe out 99.7 percent of the population. Zombie movies and TV shows routinely blame a virus for “infection” and the spread of zombification of human beings. World War Z, for example, mostly occupied itself with finding the originally infected human and, for a zombie movie, wasn’t particularly scary. The scrabbling mass of CG undead humanity was awesome, however.

So when I turned on AMC I was thrilled to find the Hollywood zombie purveyors had kicked it up a notch and given us what we want: horrible zombies who eat the flesh of the living on a plane.

Flight of the living dead photo flightofthelivingdead_zps5b3751d1.jpgYes, the title of this movie was Flight of the Living Dead, which I totally wish I had made up. Actually they probably did come up with the title first and then built the movie around it. Zombies! On a plane! It’s even better than Snakes on a Plane — although, no, it didn’t have Samuel L. Jackson, so it could definitely could, by definition, have been more awesome.

As a matter of fact, why didn’t they get Samuel L. on board for this project? I mean, come on. He needs to be the go-to guy for terror in the skies.

I confess I didn’t watch more than about 20 minutes of the movie, which was billed, as I later learned on IMDB as “action horror.” But of course I didn’t have to; you know what happens. The zombies get out, bite nearly everyone, and they chase the remaining people — who not only have to fight the undead but cope with the fact that they’re 30,000 feet from terra firma, which is where all good zombies need to be. Preferably, beneath it.

I was amused by the periodic shots of the big ole jet airliner, taken from slightly above and always covered by flashing, menacing lightning. It reminded me of Airport ’75 (1974) with Karen Black flying the plane, her slightly crossed eyes locked on the instrument panel as she winged a 747 over mountain peaks and brought nuns and sick children safely to the ground.

The movie is a few years old and I might try and scare it up sometime. Even though I enjoy zombies the year ’round, there’s really nothing like Halloween to really bring the undead to life. Gives you an appetite for it, you might say.

Thank heaven writing about these undead ruminations and unsavory combinations only strike me about once a year — although if you put a corpse in some fetching footwear you might captivate me a whole lot more frequently.

Halloween — LIVE!

On the occasion of this annual festival of all that is gory, dead, undead and disgusting, I bring you this thing of beauty.

It’s a positively pumpkin sky. Which I’m convinced the heavens gifted me with, after seeing my aversion to the whole “holiday” yesterday.

Yes, you read that right. God reads my blog.

Well at any rate, tonight was Trick-or-Treating, and we did the neighborhood laps, extorting candy from the neighbors.

This particular neighbor happens to be my mother, so the extortion is entirely justified. Grandmothers, after all, are entirely set up to ply their grandchildren with sweets they’re not supposed to have.

It’s quite a sociable neighborhood, is it not? With friendly signs telling it like it is. I chose not take offense.

Other houses sported carved pumpkins in varying states of decay. This one looked pretty much freshly killed.

Where is my carved pumpkin you might ask? Still in its pristine state, I answer. I’m still not over the year I sweated and slaved to carve this great enormous thick-walled bastard the likes of which I’d never seen. You could have gotten 12 or 15 pies out of that thing. I traced a simple triangle-eyes, circle nose, gap-tooth mouth upon its lumpy countenance — and 45 minutes later I had like an eye and a half out. It was unendurable. I haven’t carved a pumpkin since, though I’m sure if I mustered up the energy while trolling down at the old pumpkin patch, I could discern one that had a little more scope for carving.

But I doubt I will.

I just say, now that I prefer the harvest decorating style of pumpkin and dare anyone to make me carve it. Eviscerate — maybe.

Let me be clear, though — Halloween, in my eyes, is for the small fry, and this particular tater tot had a marvelous time. “This is the BEST HALLOWEEN!” he kept squealing, the whole way home after a good hour or so of neighbor-extortion. “I remembered to say thank you!” he also was wont to report.

For that, it was worth just a little death and dismemberment.

So much spirit, it’s scary

There’s something ridiculous, and most probably truly scary, about someone who just spent 20 minutes taking 97 pictures of herself in the hopes of getting a decent shot of my Halloween jewelry.

It’s scary because frankly, it’s not all that fantastic. Much more interesting is my son’s Halloween costume, which he donned in the gray dawn of morning in order to wear it to Preschool.

Darling, no? As are Mrs. Fleenor and Mrs. Gabbard, there on the right, who confided she was “too embarrassed” to pick up her morning Diet Coke at McDonald’s this morning. Can you believe that?

This year Trassie appears as Luigi, of Mario Brothers fame, which every kid I know insists upon calling Mario Bros. Like, he’s my bro, plural of. Like that. Maybe that’s how the games are marketed; I don’t know — but it’s one of those things that make me cranky if I haven’t gotten enough coffee or I don’t have more important things to bother me.

Honestly, Halloween is not one of my favorite holidays. I mean, really: death and dismemberment, who is really for that? Plus the decorations don’t even fit the definition. Don’t look to me as someone who wants rig out her house so that it looks like crap.

Oh, I can be talked into things. One year I purchased some of that spiderweb junk and draped it all over the bushes so that it appeared a massive arachnid had set up camp in my hollies. This theoretical spider also caught all manner of dried, curled leaves; windblown Kroger plastic grocery bags; and the occasional small rodent.

No, the rodent is a lie; he was discovered beneath the recycling container decomposing. Thankfully he’d mostly gone back to earth because there really wasn’t any stench, just bones — which has perplexed me ever since because I more or less faithfully take out the recycling every week. So how did he die and lay decomposing and stinking for weeks? Maybe it was because I rolled the cans to the curb after dark and never saw the horrid thing. Bleck-o. Now I’m viewing trash disposal in a whole new light. Thank heaven I’ve got two slaves, I mean adolescents, to take over most of the KP duty.

See what thinking about Halloween has done? Set me to ruminating on dead animals and stinking garbage. Oh what a fun season. And let’s don’t forget about the whole reason for the season: evil spirits loose in the world. It falls the night before a Holy Day in the Church calendar, All Saint’s Day. Halloween, or All Hallow’s Eve harkens back to a pagan holiday that the Christian observence was meant to counteract. Something about going all out for a holiday celebrating the antithesis of what I believe just chafes a wee bit.

But that’s not to say I am AGAINST HALLOWEEN or that IT’S THE WORK OF THE DEVIL. I mean, look at me, I’m wearing skulls.

Halloween is full of happy memories of my childhood — trying to cover then entire residential area of Carrollton in the time allotted for trick-or-treating was always the major goal of the night’s festivities. On a good night’s haul, we went home to change bags more than once. Then there’s the sweet memory of the Halloween party in the school basement at church, where the perfunctory bowl-of-spaghetti-as-guts were the main attraction of the “haunted house.” I’ll never forget the time I got water up my nose bobbing for apples and thought I was going to die, right there in the sight of the Blessed Virgin smiling down upon the satanic activities. Good times, good times.

Last year I purchased a small graveyard from a neighbor who was moving out, peopled it with a ghoul coming out of the ground and threw in some pumpkins to up the cheer factor a bit.

Trassie, who as you can see, last year dressed as Spiderman, thought it was pretty fun. But after a while the ghoul, who has taken up residence in the garage since he concluded his duties last year, started to bother him and he didn’t care to see his ghastly face every time we got out of the car. Ditto for the hideous death head, or something that Tras nabbed at the Wal-marts a couple weeks ago, expressly at the behest of Mssr. Trasimond, who wanted a “scary thing” to art the house up a little bit. Ever since it’s been home, he’s begged Tras to get rid of it. I can’t say I disagree; Mr. Death Head has spent the week facing the wall on top of the refrigerator, apparently his own personal version of hell.

So every once it a while, it’s fun to get in the spirit of Halloween. Death and decomposition, whee! I’m content to throw some skulls around my neck, rig up my children as Nintendo characters, Illegal Aliens (it’s true; Christopher is sporting the quasi-racist little green man-with-a-green card mask) and even a Powder Puff Girl.

Just as long as no real ghouls come knocking and turn me into a simpering idiot, prone to scampering through the house like the demons of hell are after me, like I did one time when Tras came back from a shopping expedition unexpectedly.

It prompted him to ask if I found this “tippie-toe run” an effective deterrent to burglers, home invaders or visitors from the spirit world.

Well you never know. It might.

Enjoy the season, celebrate death and remember when you go to Mass early Sunday morning to thank God he spared you a visit from some miscellaneous demon from hell the previous night.

From ghoulies and ghosties
And long-leggedy beasties
And things that go bump in the night,
Good Lord, deliver us!