Horror of Horrors: World War Z
Welcome back, my shambling breeders of the undead! Today I am going to be giving you a more current flavor to the Horror of Horrors, and put the light on a movie that is currently in theaters. What’s that you say? Haven’t gotten a chance to see it? Fan of the book more than the movie? Well luckily Arthur has you covered. I have done both, seen and read World War Z, so it should be an interesting journey for all of us today. So put on a long sleeved shirt, because this one is going to be a biter.
When it was first announced that World War Z was going to be made into a movie, I was rather interested. I had not read the book yet at that point, but made it a point to. The book by Max Brooks is the sequel to the Zombie Survival Guide, and essentially lists through the point of view of a reporter, all of the trials and tribulations of a worldwide zombie outbreak. It is a pretty horrifying tale of survivor accounts and eye witness reports of the things people are experiencing when shit starts hitting the fan, and guts are spilled into the dirt. It is a wonderful read. Most zombie stories are the standard affair of a group of survivors trying to make it to safety when all hell breaks loose, but World War Z brought a different take to it by breaking everything up into chapters and different views of multiple people. It shows us how different parts of the world react to the outbreak, and how certain cultures decide to handle what is going on. For example, Israel is the first to realize what is really happening, and in a move that shocks and confuses most people, completely shuts down their borders and does not let anyone in or out. Good move Israel, even though it is really messed up. However, they are one of the only countries that seem to have everything under control. China gets a pretty serious situation going with missing or stolen nuclear subs, and the poor, poor French have a horrible adventure that Bill and Ted would find most bogus. I don’t even want to talk about it because it is such a miserable and horrible situation that they find themselves in. I even had to verbally and mentally take back all of the jokes that I have ever made about French Toast or crepes, and now refer to them as Big Dick Toast and Blood Pockets. They are the only names befitting the badassness that is the French in World War Z.Not to say nobody else had a hard time, but the French resonated with me.
The book, much like most other adaptations, is just so much better than the movie. Not to say that it is a bad movie, because it isn’t. It’s just a different story set in the same universe that borrows themes and locations from the novel, and starring Brad Pitt. The thing is though, that they borrow very loosely and sometimes do not get it completely right, to the point where they even changed some of the general happenings from the novel. Israel was a big part of the book in terms of defense tactics and like mentioned earlier, they were the first to take things seriously, but in the movie they wind up shooting themselves in the foot. I’ll let you take a wild guess as to how they do that…..I’ll wait…….got a guess? OK good! Did you guess they started letting some people in? If so then congratulations! You are part of the problem and not the solution. Just kidding. But seriously….I understand how this is just a plot device put into place to make things seem more dire, but if you really wanted to show that, instead of wiping people out, have a soldier shoot a few infected family members before they turn, and that way you get a chance to see the state the world is in, and also add a bit of the horrible to the surviving human’s actions. It would have made for a more surreal approach and let you know the lengths people are willing to go to stay safe and keep the infected out.
One thing I must praise the makers of the film though are for the zombie reanimations. They used to fast, don’t give a shit zombies rather than the slow shambling and grabby zombies, which I normally do not care for. However, the reanimation from dead/infected to zombie was superb. They wrench and turn in horrible fashion, as if it is the most painful experience of their lives. The dead flesh and broken bones twist and snap as they bring themselves up to attack position, and they jump and run as if freshly fired out of a cannon. Like I said, I prefer the slower, more methodical zombies, but this was just nicely handled. I read a while ago that they were attempting to use ant mentality to simulate the behavior of the zombies, and it is plain to see that they hit that point on the head. The zombies run and crawl all over each other in an attempt to get to their prey, and seem to have more intelligence than most other zombies. That is not to say that they can think and form plans, but they are more resilient and resourceful than most. It is kind of funny to watch, but at the same time you would think it was just a horrible nightmare if you were face to face with them. Since it is a PG-13 movie though, the gore factor is at an absolute minimum, which turned me off just a bit when I first found out. It still was not enough to keep me away though, even though I hate PG-13 horror movies. I just loved the book that much.
Another thing that the book does different, is that it provides a more bleak approach to the source material. I know that most people like to have a good time and do not like seeing sad endings, unless you are into that sort of thing, and they had to end the movie on a rather high note, which is unfortunate. The book does not really end on a happy note, but more on a healing backdrop. After everything has happened, the zombies are still out there, but the humans have figured out ways of taking them out with proper formation and shooting tactics, along with knowledge of weather and terrain. The movie does not show this, as the book has the slower zombies, and takes a turn for the bad with their version of figuring out a way to fight them. They do not find a way to fight them properly, but they find out a way to make themselves invisible to the zombies, taking what I call a bitch pill. Brad Pitt learns something, which I will not spoil if you would like to see the movie, and lets everyone else know about it too, which in my opinion was a bitch way out. I’m sorry, I know the film went through development hell, but I just thought it was a rather cheap cop out. Not to say it takes away from the rest of the movie, but it kind of does….in slight fashion.
To be perfectly honest, I enjoyed the movie. Not as much as I did the book, but the movie was not bad for what it had to go through and for the source material it had to emulate. I can completely understand how it would be difficult to put a book like that into movie form, but there are better ways of handling it. I also must praise Brad Pitt for actually getting on board with this movie, and really wanting to do it. I don’t think that I have ever seen Brad Pitt in a zombie flick, and it was a nice change of pace for him. World War Z is in theaters right now, and the book is on store shelves all over the place. If you have a free night, go ahead and see it, but see it without trying to match the book word for word. You will be upset if you do, and it’ll make you easy prey for the infected.
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