I’ve written a new short story and released it as an ebook. It’s on Amazon and will be available for sale here and on Smashwords shortly. It focuses on one species of zombie in Afghanistan. Find out more:
“The outbreak of the undead in Afghanistan in 2007 shortly after a skirmish between the U.S. Army and the Taliban caused an international outcry. A village with a secret became the latest battlefield in the War on Terror. No one could predict how that battle would transform the world.
Some charged that the military deliberately weaponized zombies, a war crime. Others thought the Army didn’t do enough to stop the outbreak. Rumors abound of the Taliban trying to make the undead into a new terrorist weapon. Today, hordes of the undead roam the region, threatening to destabilize every government in the region. You be the judge. Find out what really happened in this leaked interview with a eyewitness to the outbreak.” – Buy it now!
The fine folks at Zombie Popcorn interviewed me for over two hours. We talk about the undead and role playing games. You can download it from their site or listen to it over Youtube:
I was recently interviewed by blogger Kiona Strickland about Zombies of the World. You can read it at The Examiner or the extended interview on her site. It was a fun interview and as you can tell I can talk about zombies all day long!
Kenneth Hite, acclaimed writer and author of Trail of Cthulhu reviewed Zombies of the World on Flames Rising:
“Payton does not aim for completness, but for richness. And between his light authorial tone, his slamming graphic design chops, and his slavering hunger for the topic, he shoots his target square in the head.”
Read it here!
I was interviewed by my local newspaper about Zombies. Check out their article here.
If you live in Springfield, Missouri, I’ll be at the Library Center on October 26 at 7 pm to give a speech about zombies. Learn more here.
Continued from Part 1.
The modern zombie genre began in earnest with Richard Matheson’s novel I am Legend and George Romero’s film Night of the Living Dead. Both stories focus on hordes of shambling undead attacking the human survivors of the apocalypse, typically by besieging the shelter of the survivors. From these sources sprang an entire genre of zombie apocalyptic fiction. Romero’s trilogy of Dead films inspired literally thousands of zombie films and novels. The Zombie Movie Database website currently counts over 4600 films which contain zombies. However, the zombie genre also holds great sway in popular culture. Video games like the Resident Evil and Dead Rising series, Dead Island and Killing Floor are all extremely popular, selling millions of copies. Clearly the zombie holds great appeal to both the horror enthusiast and mainstream audiences.
Like the survivalist apocalypses, the zombie story makes the prevailing social institutions incompetent or malevolent, such as the sheriff mistaking Ben for a zombie in Night of the Living Dead or the military using nuclear weapons on a city overrun by zombies in Return of the Living Dead. Many times, the zombie apocalypse is brought on by the old order, either as a government or corporate experiment or accident. Furthermore, any help provided by the government is limited, suspect or worthless, such as plutocracy established in the film Land of the Dead. In any case, the social order quickly collapses and anarchy prevails in the typical zombie genre formula.
Introduction: I gave a presentation at the 2007 Popular Culture Association Conference about the link between the survivalist movement and the zombie genre. I’ve divided my presentation into two blog posts. In part 1, I focus on the survivalist movement while in the second part, I discuss its connection to popular zombie narratives. The second part will be posted Tuesday.
Civilization crumbles apart as the Other lay siege to its last bastions of safety. Millions die or are converted to the Other during the assault. Only small groups of isolated citizens survive the apocalypse safe from the Other. They collect stockpiles of weapons and supplies to build a better future, utilizing craft and military skills to maximize the effectiveness of their tools. Many times, the survivors are overcome by the Other, but die in a blaze of glory before succumbing to the horde. The post apocalyptic world is a new frontier where only the skilled and wise adapt and survive. This story formula is not unique to the zombie genre. Survivalists have been telling similar stories since the start of the Cold War. While zombie aficionados do not sincerely believe their tales of apocalypse will one day come true, both the survivalist and zombie mythos share several key motifs. In particular, the concept of bricolage is central to both genres, as the protagonists of these stories overcome the Other (in the form of the undead or various barbaric armies of the New World Order) through skilled tool use in a variety of fields. In this sense, these stories aim for the same goal, the reassertion of individuality over the savage multitudes of the world.
The last decade has seen a resurgence in the popularity of the zombie genre in American films but it’s now spread worldwide. In the last several years, many foreign films have taken the undead in a new direction. From Nazi zombies guarding treasure to New Zealand slackers making the best of a post-apocalyptic world, the appeal of shambling hordes of flesh eating undead monsters seems to be universal. These movies are only part of the burgeoning zombie movie canon but each is worth checking out.
1 and 2. [REC] (2008) and [REC] 2 (2009):
You might have seen Quarantine, the American remake of [REC] but the reason I recommend [REC] over Quarantine is the sequel. Without giving away too much, [REC] and [REC] 2 uses a blend of Catholic mysticism and science to suggest that a strain of rabies leads to demonic possession. In Quarantine, this angle is changed to an underground scientist working on rabies research. You don’t see much of this backstory in either version of the first movie but in the sequel it makes the difference.
The American film, Quarantine 2, is a predictable direct to DVD movie set in an airport terminal. [REC] 2 takes place immediately after the first movie and follows a SWAT team as they enter the zombie-filled apartment building. It’s claustrophobically intense – the zombies run into submachine gun fire and keep coming and the hallways are too small to run away. By the midpoint of the movie, [REC] 2 distinguishes itself from other zombie movies with several clever plot twists and developments. The finale is amazing, surpassing the night vision ending of the first movie. It’s a great zombie film that takes the undead in a new direction. Two more films are being planned.