Night of the Living Dead (1968 Film)

I just finished watching the 1968 version of Night of the Living Dead, and I am not sure how I feel about this movie. I understand it is a classic in horror films, but for me, it didn’t appeal at all. I sat there watching the video and thinking is this supposed to be scary, horrify, or make me wonder, what if. The movie did none of those things for me.
The movie starts with Barbra and her brother Jonny going to the cemetery to place flowers on a relatives grave for their Mom. When the movie first started I felt like they were more husband and wife than brother and sister. They just argued like a married couple. It wasn’t until Jonny started teasing Barbra telling her “they are coming to get you Barbra” over and over that I caught on that they were brother and sister. Most husbands wouldn’t be dumb enough to do that to their wives unless they planned to sleep on the couch.
The chase scenes were comical. These living dead or zombies were shambling along, and no matter how fast the victim ran it was right behind them. That didn’t make much sense to me. Also, how did they know where to look to find them? They are dead and operating on basic instincts. So maybe they had a heightened sense of smell. Another thing that bothered me was the fact that they all had this six sense of knowing when there were humans around. It made me think back to Sarah Pinborough book Breeding Ground where the spiders have this type hive mind, and I wondered if that was the same thing for the living dead.
One part I did like was the conflict inside the farmhouse. I think they did a good job of creating the tension between Ben and Harry Cooper. They both wanted to be in control and felt that they were right. People behave like this all the time. It’s evident in the workplace. Ben is sure that is safer to be upstairs because his logic dictates that they can run off they need too. While I agree with this in some aspects, it also leaves them vulnerable to attack of the living dead breaking through his little defense of boarding up the windows and door. In that same vein, why would you use just a hodgepodge of boards? If they can get their hands inside, then they can start to rip it apart.
On the other hand, Harry Cooper argued that it was safer in the cellar. I can see the logic with one exit and entrance to defend but let’s get real for a moment. If you barricade yourself in a place like a cellar, you better have enough food and water to last a few months and something to do so you don’t go insane. Plus if those things get in there, you have no way you and you might as well shoot yourself. I did not think his idea of staying down there was a good idea.
One thing that drove me insane was Barbra’s character. I understand that she lost her brother and was scared of those things chasing her but did she have to be so weak and feeble minded? At one point they make you think she is one of the living dead but that was just a bit of foreshadowing. They do this by having her sit there staring at the pattern on a piece of lace and gets scared when the other women light a cigarette. Barbra barely says anything that is useful. I just couldn’t relate to her. I would have much preferred a character who took charged and help and then once it was over break down. That would be more understandable.
Overall, I was not impressed with Night of the Living Dead. It left me wanting more from the movie. I did try to think of it in the context of when it was made, but that didn’t help. If they had made it more realistic, I could have gotten into the movie. I just don’t think the dead coming back to life are going to be that smart.

The Yattering and Jack by Clive Barker

This week we read another short story by Clive Baker, The Yattering and Jack. I was a little apprehensive after reading Rawhead Rex. That story, while well written, grossed me out. I still want to throw that story across the room but I don’t want to break my computer. I cannot deal with things done to children. It hits to close to home.
I was pleasantly surprised when I picked up The Yattering and Jack, and I enjoyed reading this one. In the beginning, I was a little worried the story would be stale and stall out. The Yattering is a minor demon whose sole purpose is to push people over the edge so Hell can collect their souls. He is assigned to Jack who is as bland as eating a plain rice cake. Nothing gets under Jack’s skin. Not even his wife cheating on him in their house.
As the story progresses, the Yattering tries everything he can to make Jack flinch. I have to give the little guy credit he was persistent. Due to his persistence, we get to know more about him than we do if Jack was the narrator. Everything we learn in the beginning is through the Yattering eyes. From how boring the house is after the wife is dead to how unresponsive Jack is. In doing this Clive kept us in the dark about what was going on. I was worried for a minute that this was going to be a dull story if something didn’t start happening soon.
It was interesting near the end to see that Jack was trying to hide his anger and annoyance. I give him credit he had high self-control. We finally get to hear Jack’s thoughts and see how he perceived the world he was stuck in. I liked how we slowly learn that he knows what the Yattering is doing because of some deal his mother made he has to keep everything under wraps.
I laughed when the Yattering decided to make the Christmas turkey start to dance in the oven. It was gross to hear about it spilling it’s stuffing all over the floor, but all of that was made up by the turkey trying to get out. All I could do was shake my head when Jack played it off as though nothing happened. I think that scene was a great blending of gross and humor with this story. It wasn’t horrific like Rawhead Rex.
The ending was even more comical as we have Jack pitted against the Yattering trying to escape the flying Christmas decoration. The image of Christmas decoration being thrown around like projectiles were funny. It was a well-choreographed dance between good and evil. I felt terrible for his daughter Amanda because she was about to lose her mind. Even though she was strong, the events rattled her. I wasn’t too happy with Jack using his daughters likes this, but it was a great tactic to distract The Yattering and think he was winning. The Yattering overconfidence was finally his undoing. I thought the scene with the two of them locking and unlocking the doors was priceless. The whole time Jack maintains his cool and I sat there and wondered how long with this go on. At the end with the help of his other daughter, Jack was able to make The Yattering so angry that he forgot all the rules they beat into him.
Overall I enjoyed this story. It made me laugh from the beginning to the end. I felt this was a much better story over Rawhead Rex. It was easier to understand everyone’s motivation even if some of it wasn’t revealed to the very end.

Cycle of the Werewolf by Stephen King

****Possible spoilers****

I usually know what I want to say about a book but Cycle of the Werewolf has left me at a lost for words. I don’t know how I feel about this book. Let me state that I am not a fan of Stephen King. I don’t find any of his books page turners for me. For me, his horror books do not do it. The only horror book I enjoyed was The Tommy Knockers. Now let me read The Green Mile or The Shawshank Redemption, and they were good stories. The characters were interesting and the story that he told had a meaning. It drew you in, and you wanted to know more. While this book did not bore me it did not wow me. I sat here waiting for the story to pick up to get more from the characters and possibly even more from the werewolf. What I got instead was glimpses like snapshots into lives of these townspeople right before they died.

The story starts out with a series of four murders over the course of four months each occurring on the full moon. With each of these horrible crimes, we get glimpses into the lives of the people in the small town of Tanker’s Mills. With each month that passes we get a little more information about life in the town and the werewolf. There is no guessing who the werewolf could because we are never given any clues until later in the book.
I will say that each of the characters covered are different in lifestyle and persona. You can distinctly tell their voice by the narrator’s words and their own. There was no confusion about who was talking. I think that was possible because most of the characters were the only covered in that “chapter.” If there were multiple characters, they were limited, but each word about them or spoken by them was picked carefully so the reader could tell who the main focus was.
As the story progress, we learn who the two main characters of this book are Marty Coslow and Reverend Lowe. Marty is a ten-year-old boy who hopes are dashed when the 4th of July fireworks are canceled due to a full moon. He is upset, and his Uncle who is a bit of an enabler gives him a package of fireworks and tells him to wait till after the full moon. First of all how many of us remember being ten years old or have a ten-year-old. We all know no one is going to wait. Marty decides that this is a good time to go out on the night of the full moon. In doing this, he encounters the werewolf and thank goodness for the irresponsible uncle because if Marty had not had the fireworks, he would have been the werewolf’s next victim.
Marty uses the fireworks against the werewolf and survives. His parents send him away, and for now, the boy is safe. It isn’t until he goes trick-or-treating with his father that Marty discovers who the werewolf is. Instead of trying to get others to listen to him he taunts the werewolf with letters. Asking him why he does it and why doesn’t he kill himself. I’m sorry, but this kid is not too bright because before the book ends, he signs his name to the letter. All I wanted to do was reach through the book and smack him upside his head. Let’s lead the suspected killer right to you then panic and beg your uncle for a gun.
The story ends with the werewolf coming to Marty’s house to silence him. The uncle sits on the couch with a gun in his lap and does nothing. Marty miraculously is a good shot and his second shot lands right in the werewolf’s other eye blinding him completely and killing him the process.
The ending felt anti-climatic, and nothing seemed satisfying. I think this book was a good example of tone and voice. You could feel that throughout the pages but anything short of that I was not enthralled by this story or left wanting another book to be written. I was left with wanting more to the characters in the town and more story to go along with these short pages.

Rawhead Rex by Clive Barker

I found this story to be interesting but I really did not like this one. The entire story was gross to me. It starts out with Rawhide Rex being freed from his prison and murdering the man who set him free. We discover that the people who originally imprisoned him buried him alive with a stone heavy enough to hold him down. It’s never explained why everyone really forgets the story about Rawhead Rex, but it assumed that time is the culprit. Eventually, people stop believing in things when the even is no longer fresh in their mind, and there is no written proof of the story.

The story starts when Rawhead Rex gets released from his prison buried deep in the ground, and he goes on a killing rampage. Rawhead Rex kills anyone and everyone in his path. He goes onto leave the remains of his victims where he finds them. Sometimes only leaving a random foot and shredded clothing.

The worst part for me was the way Rawhead Rex desired to eat babies and children. I wanted to throw up at the descriptions and I almost could not finish this story. I don’t like stories with children and babies being murdered in such a way. I think that’s because being a mom I want to protect my children from anything that will harm them. Then you have Rawhead Rex describing how delicious they are and how much he prefers them over grown adults.

I will say this about the story. The details were rather vivid, and I think that’s what evoked such emotion out of me. Clive Barker carefully chose his words for this story, and he did a good job with it. He really brought to life the horror that this creature could wreck upon the world. The author focused more on what Rawhead Rex was doing rather than the setting around him. We are given enough information as to the setting to be able to fill the missing details that most authors give you in a story. This story could take place in any town almost anywhere in the world, and it would fit.

What I would have liked to have seen was more about what scared Rawhead Rex. He mentioned that he could smell the blood on the woman and that was poison to him. Well why was it? I didn’t really understand that part. What made a woman’s time of the month so deadly to him? Rawhead Rex is even repulsed by it and is ready to leave but instead eats the pony and thinks about what he is going to do. He never really has a plan on how he is going to get his revenge and become the King. All he does is succeed in getting himself brought down and killed by the people of this town.

Another thing I would have liked more explanation of was this stone was that they found inside the altar. What was it’s significance? What power did it hold over him? Was it because it was a holy relic or the idea that it was something from God.

As much as I did not like this story I would have like a few things answered. I think this is why I don’t read shorter stories. While the story leaves you with a sense of dread and turns your stomach, I think it could have given us a little more to go on.

Breeding Ground by Sarah Pingborough

This week we had to read Breeding Ground by Sarah Pingborough. The title alone caught my attention and the description hooked me into the story. I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It kept me turning the pages and forgetting about the time when I should have been getting to bed to sleep. This story pushes a person to think about what they would do in some of the situations the characters faced.
It follows the story of Matthew Edge who loses his wife Chloe and their unborn child to this new species of spiders that use humans as host for their young and food. Matt narrowly escapes by the sheer willpower of Chloe using the last ounce of her strength to break the connection to the hive mind long enough for her to tell Matthew to get out and don’t come back for her.
Matt runs and bumbles around along the way at first. Instead of being quiet he makes lots of noise breaking into places for the basics like food and clothing. Luckily for him, nothing comes out into the streets to attack him. His luck doesn’t change till he meets an old man named George. George becomes a surrogate father to the survivors, and they flee their homes in search of some places safer.
Sarah Pingborough plays with your emotions in this story. Every character has a secret they are running from. For Matt, he was running from what happened to Chloe and the man he found wrapped up in a cocoon begging for help. He never opens up about the man asking for help till he faces a spider or a widow as they call him and it repeats the word “help me.” That is just creepy right there. Others lost their loved ones, and some didn’t know what had happened to them.
The one character who hit a nerve for me most was Nigel Phelps. He was arrogant and pompous about everything. He sticks to the conventions of his normal routine from searching for expensive clothes to personal hygiene. Nigel never speaks about what happened to his family like everyone else. It isn’t until the very end that we discover he and his daughter were pinned for hours unable to move. Their bodies muscle were numb, and as the widow came from inside his wife instead of protecting his little girl, he throws her at the widow and crawls away while she screams for help. What makes this part the worse is he does the same thing to another little girl who knew his daughter all because the little girl’s big sister was infected somehow with a widow growing inside of her. His fear turned him into a monster more so than the widows at that moment. As a mother, I was enraged and sickened. There have been very few characters I had wanted to end myself, but Nigel was at the top of my list.
Sarah plays with emotions in this novel. She did an excellent job of pulling our heartstrings throughout the story. I know there were a few points in the story where my heart was racing and praying that everyone made it out alright. Other times I was ready to strangle the idiocy of some of the characters. Even though only one narrator was telling the story, Sarah wrote the story well enough that we could connect with the other characters involved in the story even the ones we didn’t.

Overall this a very well written, gripping book. It will keep you on the edge of your seat. Sarah Pingborough evokes all your emotions and leaves you sitting there wondering what you would do in a situation like this. I highly recommend this book.