March 5th, 2012
Give me skeletons over zombies any time.
Zombies have no charge for me anymore. I mean, I get it. I understand completely why everyone obsesses over them, what they *mean*, but it took watching that sequence from Mean Streets again recently, where the drunk, bullet riddled barman continues to lurch towards his would be assassin even though he should’ve keeled over and died five minutes before, to make me feel horrified by the undead again. All the hallmarks of the zombie were there, the shambling flying dutchman of an un-person complete with lolling eyes and outstretched arms, persistance of movement and ‘mission’ inspite of massive structural damage…. But this time I needed a real body, something more literal, less of a symbol (and, now, not just a symbol for scary stuff we’d all rather not think about, but a portal to a whole genre of entertainment/fandoms/an industry, etc. – a tangled mess of associations, many of which I find boring/slash annoying), to make me re-experience the supernatural horror of undeath and thence the very real, physical body-horror it points to. It was an assbackwards way to get there, but it worked.
November 25th, 2011
First of all, a confession: I’m not very good at computer games, in the same way that I’m not very good at telly, or at keeping up with my friend Jessica (whose collected editions of Uzumaki I eventually had to get The Boy Fae the Heed to return, due to my shameless ineptitude).
I don’t know why, but in my flailing attempts at adulthood, some things have ended up getting pushed to the side and properly playing computer games has been one of those things. For perspective: I don’t think I’ve properly lost myself to a full-length computer game since the original Half-Life, or maybe Deus Ex. I still play the damned things, of course, but it’s more of a social occasion or a light distraction – a little bit of Death Tank on the weekends with my pals, a wee bit of Arkham Asylum when I need to feel like Batman and eating Mulligatawny soup just won’t cut it.
So sure, I can admire the way Jason Rohrer tries to make the simplest game mechanics into little tests of your capacity for guilt and sentimentality, just as I can giggle when people take pot-shots at his work, but put something like Bioshock down in front of me and I’ll have to admit that I just don’t have the time for it.
I am a grown man, after all, and like all grown men, I’ve got comics to read!
So why is it that when I started to think about horror, about what I could possibly contribute to Notes From the Borderland, that I couldn’t escape from a pair of zombie computer games that I play for laughs with my friends?
Ah, well, maybe it’s the friends that are problem here.
What’s worse, after all – to stumble out into the borderlands on your own, or to do so with your friends, knowing that you’re going to betray them, or be betrayed by them, or that you’re at least going to let each other down when the real nastiness shit starts?
Click here 4 a little taste of that Borderland madness!
October 26th, 2011
aka the obvious one…
Like Elephant, I didn’t see Threads at the time. It was deliberate this time, another video, borrowed years later on the strength of fearsome reputation. I think – but these memories could well be half invented, half-recounted – I think I can remember the day after Threads was first shown. Shocked and ashen elder sisters, parents bravely pretending everything was just the same as before.
We all knew we had a neighbour not 20 miles distant, forever an unwelcome megatechnological interloper into our innocently bucolic existence, who even if not an obvious first-strike target, still had that doorstep Chernobyl possibilty about it. Parents had explained roughly what it would mean if it went tits up, and I was shocked that there wasn’t something they could do about it. There was an apocalyptic timebomb just down the road. How did they go on without panicking? Why weren’t they screaming, shaking their neighbours and duly elected representatives by the shoulders, awakening them to the threat, begging for something to be done? How could normal life as I had always known it be so permanently close to the precipice of extinction?
Watching Threads again now, as the hardy among you will, that’s still the frightening thing – the destruction of the parental superego, manifested as the pathetically heroic, hopeless efforts of the municipal employees, those clerks and accountants, supervisors and secretaries holding onto the world, to save us all through continuation of a neat and orderly bureaucracy. The accumulated ballast of human society, those cultural codes and social securities, worthy words and high hopes, and all their inevitable extinction in the awful new reality beyond the opening of the atomic portal.
The sickest joke is the collapse of all those habits and symbols would not be instant and total. They’d persist in their broken, poisoned, ineffectual form for a short time after the initial massive surge of human casualties. The words and numbers we use to organise our newly nonexistent world would be walking around undead in the fallout, scorched and sick but stumbling shortly on, for some time after we were sick and starved and gone, prior to the eventual (and as it turns out, unlikely) dominion of the cockroach.
Other posts in the Notes From the Borderland series:
September 24th, 2009
August 11th, 2009
or Crisis? What Crisis? (part one)
Think of him as 2000AD’s awkward cousin. He and Tharg used to get on great for a bit, but while The Mighty One went into his teens still drunk on the heady surge of Thrill Power, Crisis was always a bit serious. Self consciously so, you could say. You know the routine: went veggie. CND badge. Amnesty membership. Morrissey lyrics sung at high volume to that face in the bedroom mirror. Didn’t make friends that easily, and sometimes seemed to try hard not to be noticed at all, but on rare occasions he’d come out with something that would really be worth paying attention to.