Monday, February 1, 2010

The Survival Horror Genre

The plot of The Book of Eli in one long sentence:

After some sort of nuclear Holocaust and human society collapses, our hero Eli (who was told to take the last remaining King James Bible "west" by a voice he heard in his head) treks across the wasteland mostly on foot, defending himself with guns and a sword against cannibals and petty warlords to end up reciting the whole Bible (which he had memorized from his Braille copy that eventually falls into the warlord's hands) to a small group of intellectual people holed up in Alcatraz prison.

The plot of The Book of Eli in one short sentence:

If nuclear war wipes out most of humankind, the remaining people will be dirty and angry and won't bother fixing anything.

It pains me to say this, but the movie wasn't all that great. The critics concur. But you know what? I have a soft spot in my (head?) for this genre, and I'm willing to overlook quite a bit of nonsense in exchange for some shots of ruined cities and streets choked with derelict automobiles and cobwebby old houses with peeling paint.

(Because apparently nuclear fallout doesn't kill cobs.)

And there are a lot of things to overlook! For example, when society does collapse in these stories, people just accept it. "Collapse, you say? The zombies are nigh? Well, shit! Now I can go insane and push around a rusty shopping cart full of mannequin limbs like I've always wanted!"

Seriously? Nobody? I mean, you gotta figure on at least some looting after Armageddon, since there will probably be some assholes left. But I find it hard to believe that nobody would bother at least rebuilding the indoor plumbing.

Got it. Machinists, carpenters and literacy are particularly susceptible to nuclear bombs. Fine. I'll buy it. Let's just go look at some more burnt stuff, okay?

I think I like this genre so much because I think it's fun to imagine how I would survive in such a situation. Say I was the only survivor of some horrible plague, and everyone else turned into stabby, rapey zombies. Where would I sleep? What would I eat? Where would I brush my teeth and store my extra deodorant?

Because apocalypse or no, I don't want to be all stinky.

I figure the first thing I'd do is find myself a go-kart. I'd get one of the two-seaters, so I'd have room to carry all my shotguns around. Now, I'm sure you're wondering why I wouldn't go for something like a Hummer. I might have one of those on standby just in case, but the go-kart offers flexibility that a big vehicle does not. I could drive it indoors and I could maneuver it around or lift it over obstacles that would block a Hummer. Plus, I've always wanted to swipe one and take it off the track.

My base of operations would probably be a supermarket. Here in Michigan, we've got Meijer, but a CostCo would do just as well. Both of these places sell generators and extension cords, and have built-in gas stations. Bingo! Self-sufficiency right off the bat. The collapse of society and the constant zombie threat is no reason to put up with warm pop and no video games.

But a supermarket would be hard to keep warm in the winter, and it would be next to impossible to guard every wall against zombie incursion. So then what? What if I can't get my hands on a tank or a Brinks armored truck? A city bus, of course! Some cobbled-together armor, a couch and some extra fuel tanks, and you got yourself a mobile apartment. You could even run over zombies in it if you get bored.

Whoops. Better finish this up so I can leave the office.

Umm...ending ending ending....

And in conclusion, I would like to see more bombed-out landscapes and survival techniques in survival horror movies instead of being presented with a two-hour PSA about how being greedy will lead to my being eaten by zombies when the apocalypse comes.

1 comment:

  1. You know what? I ADORE this genre myself, and always find it sad when stories come up short. And since you're not so far away, when the nuke hits Detroit (because you KNOW that is where they'll aim) I will pick you up on the road west. The way I figure you survive is get the hell OUT of the cities where everyone is looting stuff that doesn't work, and get into a moderately climated mountain... maybe in New mexico, where there are nice clean lakes, no cities big enough for fallout, and a long enough growing season to plant stuff (see, I've been thinking about this!)--it's been in a long term book plan of mine too--an idea I play with on occasion...

    and I have a book recommendation that is a little different, but related--it's in the YA section--hope that doesn't bias you, but it is called 'Tomorrow when the war began" by John Marsden, about some high school kids who become guerilla soldiers when Australia is invaded--excellent books (there are 7 of them)


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