Episode 291: Priorities

Zombie Cliche Lookout: First Things First

One thing that I absolutely love to see in zombie movies (it’s a staple of action flicks as well) is when people get together, hash out a plan, and put it into action. A lot of time the planning phases is excised to save time, but it’s all implied. And, of course, putting things into place is often done as some sort of montage, which can be a lot of fun.

Even when the plans are kind of stupid, like in the 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead, I get right into it. It’s fun to see these characters all working together toward a common goal, and imagining how things are going to shake out once they actually run into the zombies. Of course, I like it a lot more when it’s done seriously, and I can think of no better example than everyone (excepting Cooper) working together to board up the house in Night of the Living Dead.

About this Episode:

Like I say above, the planning phase is usually left out of movies, since it’s much more economical to just start the montage. In a comic, or other long-form fiction, however, we have a lot more leeway to include discussion and planning.

Discussion Question: What Makes Something Scary

This in the inverse of our last question. While there are things that can completely kill the scariness of something ,what can make something scary for you? Is it realistic gore? Something that’s just a little off and uncanny in an otherwise completely realistic scenario? Horrible things that are plausible? Is it completely atmospheric?

For me, it’s very atmospheric. Good lighting goes a long way. And, as I mentioned in the comments last time around, only seeing a little bit of the monster is huge. If things are creepy, and seem to be slowly getting more so, great. And if I can’t actually tell much about the monster, that’s a recipe for fear.



Supplies are going to include a lot of things. I think one of them will definitely have to be gas for vehicles, three big reasons are as follows:

1. Defense: if the zombie attack is met with the chilled steel bumper bar on an off-road vehicle, the zombie might as well chew on it until it’s teeth fall out or it’s head is damaged sufficiently, because it’s going to kill them and they want every sort of protective defense they can get and it should ideally be mobile and armored against opponents it’s likely to battle. They should ideally have it caged and protected so that the operator of the vehicle is able to move freely, ideally they should raid the local national guard and grab their army tanks the armor on a tank could withstand zombie attacks forever and a day! 😉 Failing that they should customize whatever they can haul back and cannibalize parts from other vehicles that their owners will no longer be using for obvious reasons. Hopefully someone is a mechanic in their group or they’ll all have to learn machinery 101! 😉

2. Haulage: If they’re going to haul anything too big for their group or even move it around they’re going to need vehicles for that, like construction vehicles etc.

3. Supplies: They’re going to want a large truck so that they can find and haul away non-perishable goods they happen to come across once they’ve cleared the zeds out.

That’s a brief overview of what they should be thinking of, and yes that is long-term, I don’t really see zombie apocalypses as being short-term. 🙂


Unless it happened on the ISS, then the zombie apocalypse would be very short indeed.


There’s one good question for you, Dave: Could your zombies handle being in outer space without air, food, or water? Could they survive reentry? 😀


Without air, food, and water? Certainly.

In the vacuum of space? Well that I’m not so sure about. Re-entry outside of a capable vehicle? Now ay.


Related to the question: Something that annoys me is when they take the whole “not getting to see the monster” thing too far and never reveal it. Then I’m left feeling cheated and wondering what the hell it was.


Yeah, for me, that also applies to cliffhanger endings where they never actually reveal what happened, just cancel the show and never go back to it. It reminds me of the recent StarGate:Universe ending, they packed most of them off into sleep chambers, and one guy was left alone to face whatever was in the next galaxy.


God I hate cliffhangers, especially in movies. That shit is just cheap. And presumptuous. Unless you’re making movies simultaneous like The Lord of the Rings or Superman I & II, there’s always the chance the first movie will be it.


Yeah, I recall having that feeling before. It’s like the movie was so low budget they couldn’t afford an actual monster, just shadows.


Atmosphere is everything when it comes to being scary, and there are a whole bunch of factors that go into that.
Lighting is, of course, essential. Dimly or intermittently lit spaces are usually scarier than brightly lit ones (“usually” because there are rare cases when seeing everything can be more horrifying than having the details hidden). Since we all know why, I won’t waste more space on that.
Tension and build-up are also key to making something scary. Part of the genius of the first Alien movie was the fact that they couldn’t afford to show the monster throughout much of the movie, so they cheated by hiding it in the background or only hinting at it through extreme closeups. It was meant to save money, but inadvertently made the movie a whole lot scarier as a result. Having a monster that lurks in the shadows or could be waiting just around the next corner is far more effective than the psycho chasing you with an axe or chainsaw in broad daylight.
One factor that is often overlooked or underestimated for effect is music. If you’ve ever played Slender: The Game, you know what I mean; you can almost literally feel your back tense and the hairs on your neck start to rise as soon as that creepy music starts to play. If they had gone with something like Benny Hill’s Yakkety Sax or dubstep, it would have completely ruined the mood. The same is true for action sequences in scary movies; most directors go with some bland stock rock or metal track or some popular action-y song from the radio to accompany an action scene, but often times the tension and emotion of those scenes can be cranked way up by putting slower or more subtle music over it. A group of survivors fighting to push back a herd of zeds is more exciting with a metal track, but put a soulful classical track over it, and suddenly it’s a heart-wrenching struggle for survival.


lol… what’s with the monkeys, Dave?
For some reason I only noticed now that Inez and Cheryl have some kind of strangely creepy family resemblance…


The monkeys?

Yeah, blame that resemblance on the lack of useful female faces in LEGO. I guess that’s why they give us lots of hair options.


What I love is when you can obviously tell someone is leaving the porn industry and trying to get into horror. Sweet, sweet soft light and those movies are horribly acted. But what scares me is suspense, something that is almost void in todays cimema. John Carpenter had it down from Halloween to the Thing.
If a creature is horribly put together then I don’t want to see it.
If the movie has nudity then lets not see it every scene.
I wont even get into low budget films. Part of me love them for being bad the other half would rather take in a nap.
[REC] (favorite possession /undead film for scares)
But I still love Return of the Living Dead


John Captenter did indeed have it down. God I love that guy’s stuff (up to a point, of course). Halloween is an incredibly effective horror film. It’s strange to think that it begat movies like Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, or – hell – Halloween 2.


Also Target has LEGO® Creator Fire Brigade 10197 for 119.99 online


That’s a damn good price. And this set it on it’s way out. Pick it up while you can.


Reality is scary. Sincerely, if the situation is plausible, and palpable, then it’s scary. For instance, monster movies don’t scare me. Period. Neither do slasher movies. In real life when Mike Myers or Jason come out of the brush with a machete, and I draw down and feed him 230 grain lead pills until he stops kicking, well, roll the end credits right there.

No, dystopian futures scare me, and really well done epidemic/pandemic movies. Anything with kids getting hurt or starving. That’s reality. The closer to home it hits in context, the scarier it is.


Reality is indeed scary, but I think reasonably plausibility is generally just as good.


Psychological horror gets me. After the first time I saw “In the Mouth of Madness,” I didn’t sleep well. It came right through the fourth wall at me.

If I had to say the top 15 scariest movies I’ve seen, in terms of their effect on me at the time I saw them, they’d be (in no particular order):

-In the Mouth of Madness
-The Exorcist
-The Shining
-Silence of the Lambs
-Night of the Living Dead (original B&W)
-Carnival of Souls
-Stir of Echoes
-Cigarette Burns (Masters of Horror series)
-The Descent
-Dead Silence

These movies have themes of madness, possession, the subjective nature of reality, and are just plain damn freaky.


Oddly enough I find all of those movies to be rather hilarious.


For me it is usually the mood music. Properly placed, I can find an otherwise unremarkable scare to be unbearably tense when preceded by appropriately tense music.

Silver Fox

Appropriate use of shadow and darkness, when you can’t see clearly or know what’s in there.


Dave, I just noticed the typo in your episode title: “things” in this sense does not need the apostrophe. 😀


Actually that’s in the Zombie Cliche lookout title, not the episode title, you haven’t invented those yet! 😉


So I actually looked it up, because I had always thought it was short for “First Thing Is First”. I was surprised to find it’s idiomatic, and that “things” is simply plural. Always cool to learn new stuff like that; thanks BV.

Tom Walsh

I love the proper build-up scare tactic, when there is almost literally a monster around every corner, star manages to escape clutches over and over again. You are waiting for it, you know it’s coming, and the movie delivers in a big way. Not with the cat, not with the “oh, somehow one other person has been here the whole time and just now we found them moment” But the “dear lord there is a claw in my gut” moment.
I don’t like the out of no-where scare, I need the music, the light, the atmosphere making me feel I may just be that person in my imagination. That gripping put together peice that can have you sitting closer to the screen and wanting/needing to know what is happening.
As for a continuation of yesterday to Dave, the book series I asked about is interesting in that the zombies in it (only used near the end in most of the series) are almost a combination of super-natural and voodoo style. They are undead, but they are under the guidance of a single person. (who uses them for stopping evil parasitic vampires actually)

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