Ex-Heroes: A great series of Super-Heroes v. Zombies novels
Movie / Shambler / Years After the Apocalypse
What comics fan hasn’t asked themselves, Who would win a fight between Superman or the Hulk? By the same token, what comics or zombie fan hasn’t wondered how the cape types would fare against the walking dead if it ever came to that.
From 2013 to 2016, novelist Peter Clines had a hell of a good time answering that question while building a whole pantheon of convincing stretch-suiters along the way, in a series of novels from Broadway Books that are, quite basically, Superheroes vs. Zombies taken to the logical extreme. It's called the Ex-Heroes Series.
They’re fast, frequently funny, often bloody and both exciting and tragic, as we follow the superheroes who fight a losing battle against the hordes of the shambling dead and their extremely noisy teeth – your basic virus-based biters that have taken over whole cities, whole countries, and left the last few humans cowering behind a dwindling number of walled compounds. Many of the characters continue from book to book – books with totally cool names like Ex-Patriots, Ex-Communciation, and our personal favorite, Ex-Purgatory. And plenty more die heroic and occasionally pointless deaths. There’s no true ending to the timeline, and we can always hope for more, though Clines has gone on to best-seller status with his non-zombie-ish Threshold series. Still, you can spend plenty of happy hours following the dark adventures of Stealth, Zzzap, The Mighty Dragon, and the rest.
Pretty much anything by Peter Clines is worth the read. You can check out his full repertoire here. Exactly what you’d expect from the one-time prop master of Psycho Beach Party.
Even big-time zombie movie fans may have mostly missed Fido. It came and went with barely a whisper back in 2006, maybe because of its Canadian origins and poor distribution; maybe because nobody knew what to make of it. Is it a comedy? A satire? A skewed love story? Tor is it, in fact, a skewed sequel to Romero’s classicNight of the Living Dead (1968)? That’s still a good question, but there’s no doubt this is one of the least expected and most watchable of the “dark comedies” to come out of the genre… and it might be brand new to the zomfan in your life (or unlife).
Comedian and satirist Billy Connolly is virtually unrecognizable as Fido, the domesticated zombie “contracted” to Carrie-Anne Moss‘s family. They’re part of a bizarre alternative America in which radiation brought about the rising of the dead in the early Fifties, it seems, and led to a long-ago, hard-won set of “zombie wars.” Now the world, or at least as much as we see of it, is a weirdly static Perfect 1950’s World, kept that way by the ubiquitous ZomCom Corporation (you have to love that name!) that created electronic collars that allow the calming and control of your classic Romero slow zombies with the touch of a button. And that’s what Fido is – just one of the shuffling, voiceless, undead slaves in this odd world – until the family he’s working for develops an equally odd affection for him. Then the collar malfunctions and Fido kills a neighbor (who deserved it, but still …
From the beginning, Fido is not what you expect, and the entire presentation – from the off-puttingly realistic Fifties Paradise to the performances of Moss, Connolly, Dylan Baker (currently in Hunters) and the rest, are flawless and devoid of any wink-wink nudge-nudge to the audience. It’s a shame Fido’s been nearly forgotten since its appearance fifteen years ago, but that can change with a click… and it should. We’re willing to bet you’ll like this hidden gem.
All Cheerleaders Die: A Darkly Comic, Bloody Revenge Flick with Smart Zombies
Not everybody loves this movie – you can look at the Rotten Tomatoes and MetaCritic numbers and see that – and part of its appeal is definitely just the name and notion. Come on: zombie cheerleaders? You have to love it. But we tend to agree with the WeGotThisCovered review, who called All Cheerleaders Die“mindless and contrived”, but also admitted it was a “witching, bitching good time.”
One interesting production point: The semi-legendary grim-and-bloody horror auteur Lucky McKee first made this movie in 2001 when he was fresh out of film school, and liked the idea so much he remade it in 2013. The first version was a pretty straightforward (and not terribly interesting) bloodfest; in the newer edition, there’s a whole team of cheerleaders killed by heartless football players who are brought back to life with Wiccan magic, and who work together to avenge their deaths by knocking off the jocks and their minions one by one. And yes, there’s a wide-open “The End??” ending that begs for a sequel that unfortunately has never shown up.
Wedecided to include it here, and give it a solid “Adequate” rating, partly for its sheer Australian exuberance, but mostly just for the idea itself… and if you happen to have a cheerleader-type in the fam, this could be a great little gift.