Short, Gory, and Totally Worth It!

Some years ago, when I was first realizing that there was an absolute boat-ton of zombie material available, a friend mentioned a British mini-series to me. Called Dead Set, it features a fake Big Brother TV show which is in full swing when the zombie apocalypse hits. The kicker? None of the contestants know what’s going on.

The show starts on the night of an Eviction, where a cast member is chosen to leave the show. There is a crowd outside the studio, waiting to see a live interview with the cast member who is evicted. There is a big stage and a dolled-up host. In the meantime, another crew member was sent to get a previous Big Brother contestant’s mother because there is also a reunion party going for previous Big Brother participants. Needless to say there are tons of living people at the studio when the first zombie shows up.

Inside the Big Brother house, the screaming doesn’t sound unusual. They mistake the screams of agony for the fan frenzy of eviction night. The next morning though, things seem to have changed but they can’t figure out why. They just know that the cameras aren’t recording, Big Brother isn’t reminding them to put on their mics, and things seem a bit quiet. Dead, almost.

Life in the fishbowl changes abruptly when Kelly, one of the behind-the-scenes workers at the show, comes in bloody and carrying a huge pair of blood-dripping scissors. She tries in vain to explain to the cast what happened, and that not only is there no TV show anymore, but there may not even be a world at all. They don’t believe her, until one of the cast members opens a fire door, accidentally letting a zombie inside. The zombie is fast, ravenous, and bloody as hell. Before anyone can do anything, another cast member is bitten on the leg. Kelly dispatches the zombie in a very gory sequence featuring a fire extinguisher and some really realistic special effects.

From there on, it’s a tooth-and-nail battle for the contestants of Big Brother and the few crew members left. They must stay alive against all odds, which includes ravenous, rabid, fast-moving zombies. As if that weren’t enough, some of the cast members themselves become obstacles to survival.

I’m not big on Big Brother type shows, but this is phenomenal. The characters vary from funny to downright insipid. The non-zombie protagonists are downright terrifying. Dead Set doesn’t hesitate to delve deeply into the horrors that humans are capable of both in times of stress, and in times of relative quiet.

I highly recommend this show, especially if you have the roughly two and a half to three hours to run it from start to finish. The storyline is compelling, the effects are super impressive, and the death scenes are inventive. While there are many tropes of the zombie genre present, Dead Set definitely sets the bar higher for movies and TV shows that follow.


A super strange and exciting anthology…

I bought “The Best of All Flesh” at a local bookstore because I wasn’t ready to start another book series, but I was running out of zombie material on my bookshelf.  I like to alternate book series with anthologies so that I don’t get bored with either book style.  Anyways, this book sounded interesting because it was selected material from all three of the Books of Flesh Anthology Series.  I still want to get the other three books, but I figured it would be a nice way of finding out if the books were worth getting immediately, or worth holding off on buying.  After reading the composite anthology, I really do want to track the other books down !

The book was astounding !  I loved almost every single story in this book, and I found that the ideas were all fresh and new.  The zombie types ranged from voodoo to modern and everything in between.

One of the stories by Myke Cole, “Shouting Down the Moon”, was really sad.  It’s about two lovers who are separated by their enemies and attempt to reunite after death.  This story is also about two warring tribes, and features voodoo-infused zombism.

Barry Holander’s story “Familiar Eyes” deals with a husband who cannot accept the fact that the mud-covered corpse that keeps coming after him is just a shell, and not his wife.  He repeatedly defies government orders and does not burn her body.  An interesting twist on the zombie myth – the longer the bodies are exposed to the air and not cremated, the more indestructible they become.  Another twist is that the zombies come back for the person they loved the most when they were alive, once that person is dead, they go back to their graves.

“Sitting with the Dead” by Shane Stewart explores the idea of speaking with the dead.  In the story, a man sits with his grandmother in the funeral home and talks with her and waits for her to turn into a ravenous cannibal corpse.  Meanwhile they say all the things that should have been said when she was alive.

I don’t like tight spaces and crowds make me nervous, so the story “Charlie’s Hole” by Jesse Bullington was really terrifying for me.  During the Vietnam War, a small group of soldiers are forced to go down into a tunnel presumably made by the enemy.  While down in the tunnel they are pursued by creatures, and cross paths with a terrifying old sage.  While every story in this book was amazing, this is probably the scariest (for me personally).  The ending is a real surprise too !

Immediately following Stewart’s story is Jeremy Zoss’ offering, “Electric Jesus and the Living Dead”, which I was apprehensive about at first.  I’m not overly religious to the point of being preachy, but I do get nervous about how some authors portray God during the zombie apocalypse.  Despite the fact that Jesus is a talking electrical statue in Las Vegas, this story wasn’t offensive.  Actually, it was pretty funny.  During the zombie apocalypse this stereotypical fat, spoiled, video gaming teenager is stranded in his house.  After a little while with no food he begins to hallucinate that his mother’s cherished Jesus statue is answering his prayers and discussing a means of escape.  Instead of finding a patient, loving savior, the teen finds that the statue is cheeky. In one of my favorite scenes, the statue tells the kid to stop carrying on because he never prayed before and that if the kid doesn’t like it, Jesus will move on and tend to the members of his flock that prayed to Him before everything went down the drain.

I don’t want to give you a synopsis of all the stories in the book, but I am deadnut serious when I say that you absolutely MUST have this book.  The stories are very interesting and well thought-out.  This is also a rare book in that all of the stories are worth reading.  There wasn’t a single story that I disliked or thought was less interesting than the rest.  No, the authors aren’t very well known but they still have talent.  I would not hesitate to read another story written by any of them.  Seriously – go out and buy this book.  You won’t regret it !  “The Best of All Flesh” will not be a disappointment !