Friday, December 23, 2011


An argument conducted via text messages.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Pity the Poor Zombie Actor

Next week The Walking Dead will open its new season. Now, for sure, I really thought the first season was pretty silly, pithy, full of bad lines and off-the-shelf stereotypes (even real rednecks aren't as rednecky as portrayed in this movie), and failing to rise to the level of a good B flick.

Having said that, I'll prolly watch as much as I can stand, most likely while spinning my bike on the trainer. (Hey, when your heart rate is high your brain can't be too heavily engaged!)

Also, I'll try to see what lows the show can reach in a genre that is already intrinsically hampered by an acting arena that is much more closely fenced in than other horror film types.

So, let's compare zombie, vampire, and werewolf films. Certainly, the dream horror flicks (Nightmare on Elm Street), the mutant flicks (The Hills Have Eyes), the sci-fi flicks (Alien), and others all horror films, but the three involving human transformation stand in a class of their own, and within them vampire/werewolf (henceforth, VW) stand on one side of a divider from zombie films, and actors who take on the role of the transformed also fall into clear divides: those you know and those you don't.

VW actors? Bela Lugosi-"Dracula", Kate Beckinsale-"Underworld", Wesley Snipes-"Blade", Michael J. Fox-in the laughable "Teen Wolf", David Naughton-"American Werewolf in London", Tom Cruise-yes, the considered-to-be miscast blonde vampire in "Interview With the Vampire". Hell, even Slim Pickens played a memorable role in "The Howling".

Zombie actors? ................ Anybody? Anybody?

And little wonder why there are no zombie actors. (Well, one could say that there ARE "zombie" actors whose names we know, but they weren't playing zombie roles!) Well, go figure. What can they do?

First of all, once the transformation takes places, that's it. There's no going back, no reverting to human form only to transform again as werewolves and vampires do. Thus, there's no waxing and waning of desire and regret. There's no pleas to help find a cure for the insatiable craving for blood or to chain the beast up until the full moon has passed through its phase. There's only mindless, soulless, and guiltless pursuit of raw human flesh. (Speaking of which, I've never figured this out: How can there be more than one or two zombies? Think about it. First, a person become a zombie and wants to eat someone. OK, so he starts eating. Then, what, he quits eating so the victim can become a zombie too? And then they go off in search of more victims. And, they find one and bite her, start to eat her. So, then what? Again, they quit eating so she can become zombie #3? Apparently, the zombies reach a tipping point where even a bite or two from each consumes the victim so there are no more zombies? Yeah, right?)

Second, zombie actors never really get to try out their dialogue skills. VW can plead, rationalize, express guilt and remorse, or describe the exquisite taste of blood or the thrill of the hunt and kill. Zombie can say only, "Brains! Brains!"

Third, zombies aren't loved, poor things. Even vampires and werewolves find lovers.

Fourth, zombies can't have sex. (Let's leave out the comments by some people that there partner is about as good as a zombie!) Lugosi feigned sex, admittedly, but he sure got to bite on a lot of beautiful necks. In "The Howling" there was a hot hot hot scene by the fireside in which a man and woman began to transform during foreplay and totally morphed into biting, clawing, scratching, and, of course, HOWLING! But zombies? Nope. So, even the last trick of bad actors--that of having sex on the screen--is denied to zombie actors.

By now, you get the picture, zombie roles are relegated to the stand-ins, the wanna-bees, the won't make its.

Having said that, herein lies an opportunity for a truly gifted screenplay writer, a brilliant actor, a visionary director, and a producer with some cojones. Do a truly ground-breaking film for zombies that will pull off a trick of making the zombie somehow more human, sympathetic, and appealing to watch for more than a few seconds. Have the zombie become a creature who has a life beyond walking the streets and looking for brains, brains, brains.

Mike Sledge

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Vacuuming: Dirt Sensor vs. Judgment

OK, here's the deal. Sometimes I end up vacuuming my girlfriend's house. Don't get me wrong, we'd both like a good housekeeper but we've been striking out in this regard for some time. So, especially since we have dogs that track in as much dirt and dead grass as Pig-Pen in the Peanuts cartoon, we have to clean ourselves. And, since harmony to me is important, I suck it up and do my part...kinda sorta. So, I figured that vacuuming is better than cleaning the bathroom, right? Wrong! My GF has a Kenmore vacuum with the dirt-sensor technology. What is this? A dirt-sensor? Well, it's a little series of lights that turn from red (dirty) to green (clean) as the dirt is picked up. Sounds simple? Sounds easy? Sounds like a good idea? Wrong again! You see, for a guy I'm pretty clean, pretty neat. For a guy, I said. And, being a guy, I like to rely on my judgment. While I'm the first to use maps and GPS and stuff instead of wandering around for hours, there are some things I like to do by sense, and cooking and cleaning are two of them. I cook by smell and touch. And by appearance. Making pancakes means more or less following the instructions, cause while putting "one egg" in is pretty definite, the cup of milk and mix is a matter of judgment. Just like barbeque, where I cook by sound, touch, and smell. The same applies to cleaning: "Well, that looks clean to me!" But, not so quick. The light hasn't turned green yet! It's still sitting on red! What? It looks clean. It feels clean. So it must be clean. But the light is still red. Here's how that freakin' dirt sensor works:

So man's ability to circumnavigate the vast oceans of the world using only a sense of wind direction and tides is tossed aside? His sense of direction in pitch black darkness is discounted?

Oh, wait, I forgot! These damn cleaners were designed with women in mind. They need "proof" that they've done a good job.

Hmm. Or, there's another thought: these damn, infernal light things were put there for the women to check if their men did a good job!

Mike S.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Marijuana Kills...Redux

I first published this post in 2009 and recent killings in Mexico make a case for me to post again.

LOL! Yeah, haven't we all seen the film Reefer Madness?

Lately, the anti-marijuana ads have gotten a little more, well, hip.

However, both of these films miss the point, because whether grass is a gateway drug or a harmless pasttime, and whether it should be illegal or treated just the same as alcohol are all academic exercises or merely simply excuses to continue current behavior because, save for medical purposes in a few places, marijuana is illegal and, as such, the use of it promotes criminal behavior. (Note: I said "criminal" behavior not "deviant" behavior and not "shiftless" behavior.) With Sec. of State Clinton, now and for the first time I am aware of, shouldering part of the blame for the criminal insurgent activity in Mexico, one of our sister countries, we see that we are, indeed, our brother's keeper and our desire for illegal drugs has spawned a spree of killing on a scale that greatly exceeds even that of the days of Prohibition.

It is important to note that not all of the killings are "bad on bad." Honest policemen, journalists, judges, and politicians have been brutally murdered, sometimes in front of their families.

Illegal drugs are, in many ways, a commodity. They will be supplied at whatever cost the traffic will bear. Sadly, this cost comes not only in the loss of lives and law and order south of the border, it is increasingly clear that it will also carry a greater human cost in our own country. The last, that we will suffer the results of our demand for illegal drugs, does not supercede the first, the pain and misery to our neighbor.

I'm sure there are those who will say, "Hey! MY grass comes from California. I'M not contributing to the killing. However, again, it is clear that the drug cartels are also shouldering their way onto our native soil in areas of production, as well as distribution.

There are others who will say that there is no need for them to put down their favorite vehicle of escape because there are far worse drugs coming across the border and that we need to deal with those serious drugs first. They are absolutely that there are far worse drugs. They are wrong in that there is no need for them to change. If they can justify their behavior with an illegal, non-addictive drug, how can they expect others who are actually addicted to more serious drugs to quit.

I'm no prude. I know, personally, the pleasurable effects of marijuana, having experimented with it many, many years ago. However, my break with it came because I work up one morning, way before the making of the movie Traffic and other films in which the world behind-the-scenes of drugs was illuminated, with an epiphany that my money spent for my fun fostered evilness.

Ultimately, especially during the moment of a relaxing, completely enjoyable, shared high, a look around the circle of close acquaintances tells you how happy you are for such company. At that same moment, in another place of the world not far away, there are those who look around their circle of teary-eyed friends and they are thankful for their support during the mourning for their dead son, father, brother, cousin who lost his life while trying to maintain some sense of law and order in a world gone crazy.

Push for all the legislation you wish to legalize marijuana, but in the meantime think of John Donne, whose message in MEDITATION XVII I shall rephrase to say...any man's loss is our loss.

Mike Sledge