Based on this week’s comic, it should come as no surprise that I find lawn flamingos to be creepy things. It’s probably the eyes, more than anything. They always put me in mind of a speech from my favorite movie of all time:

“And, you know, the thing about a shark… he’s got lifeless eyes. Black eyes. Like a doll’s eyes. When he comes at ya, doesn’t seem to be living… until he bites ya, and those black eyes roll over white and then… ah then you hear that terrible high-pitched screamin’. The ocean turns red, and despite all the poundin’ and the hollerin’, they all come in and they… rip you to pieces.”

Yes, it’s true, my favorite movie is not a zombie movie. But it’s got great characters, great pacing, and every so often, someone gets eaten. What more can you ask for? I’ve loved Jaws to pieces (heh) since I was just a little tyke, and nearly 30 years later no movie has yet toppled that big, beautiful man-eating fish from its pedestal.

That said, I did dedicate myself to some new zombie viewing this week. Severed: Forest of the Dead made its way into the Netflix queue. I wasn’t expecting much, to be honest, but at first I was actually getting into it. The set-up was interesting (logging camp and eco protesters beset by the living dead), the acting seemed decent… but once the apocalypse scenario started it was all the same ol’ same ol’. Not that there’s anything inherently wrong with that, but in my opinion you really have to bring the A game if you’re going to trod over the same tired tropes of the genre. Otherwise all the jump cuts, film grain and shakycam in the world won’t save the film from getting a bit, well, dull.

You have the cowardly douchebag company man who abandons people to die, you have the ‘Apocasex Now’ scenario (female and male lead pork each other because… well, because they’re there… and they’re pretty…) … but I really started groaning when they stumbled into the makeshift survivalist compound and all its attendant cliches. Just once I’d like to see one of these where the “Alpha Male” does not attempt to rape the female lead the first time he’s alone with her, especially when it’s pretty clear no more than a few days have passed at most since everyone was isolated. At least 28 Days Later gave us a month.

The thing is, there was some potential here. There was one wonderfully ironic scene where the survivors were trying to rescue screaming eco types who had chained themselves to trees before the outbreak, and were now being set upon by the zombies of fellow tree huggers and loggers alike. That’s a moment arguably up there with the original Dawn of the Dead having a zombie hiding amongst the store mannequins, in being setting-specific and having some social commentary underlying the gore. But I could never quite figure out if the movie was being self-aware like that. For instance… and yeah, I’ve been giving lots of spoilers, but let’s face it, this isn’t The Sixth Sense… we have the following exchange of dialog after the douchebag scientist admits the company was performing genetic experiments to regenerate trees and make them grow faster:

Scientist: Only I can stop the clear-cutting of forests!

Eco-girl: You can’t stop it like this!

Well, actually eco-girl, this scenario is exactly how you can stop the clear-cutting of forests. In the better movie that could have been, the dialog would go:

Scientist: Only I can stop the clear-cutting of forests!

Eco-girl: You’re right. Once everyone’s a zombie, they won’t care about lumber anymore.

Ah well. Thus does Severed plod along to its oddly inconclusive conclusion, possibly making some point along the way. I think the point was that people are dicks, and zombies like to eat people regardless of whether they’re dicks or not. I just wish they’d found some new ways to express that.

For some time now I’ve been meaning to once again gush happily over the A World On Fire blog. Every day its proprietor, Brian, has new and exciting zombie-related entries. Oftentimes multiple entries. I know there’s plenty of zombie sites out there, but AWOF is the one I consistently find easiest to browse and cherry pick interesting movies, games, or toys to check out. I found AWOF when Brian first found and reviewed us back last October, and have been happily checking it out ever since.

Well, Brian hadn’t forgotten about us, either, and just last week he posted a new update praising what we’ve done so far. Perhaps then, my pimping his blog now will seem self serving. Perhaps. All I can say in my defense is that I’ve had AWOF on our links page for several months now. And that I enjoy being self-serving once in awhile.