Monday, February 04, 2013

Love in the Time of Zombies

How is that possible? Even thinkable? One could experience horror, disgust or at best pity for these wretched creatures all while either running away from them like hell or hacking at them- the head, you have to destroy the head, isn’t it?- lest their bite would turn you into one of them.

Terror, yes, but love for a zombie?

Well, I guess it is possible if he’s Nicholas Hoult’s R. in “Warm Bodies.”

Because R. is a Corpse (that’s what they’re called in the movie) who hangs hard onto the flicker of humanity that’s somehow left in him. His interior monologue is humorous, mostly of the self-ironic kind. He is a keen observer of his new world and, while he does obey the primary impulse of hunger, he also tries to transcend it. (I suppose in this he also represents the teenager trying to surpass awkward bodily and emotional limits.) And how does he do it?

By trying very hard to stay connected with what it means to be human. Companionship, music, dreams and memories (even if they are not his and the way he acquires them is… well, yuck!).

And love.

Love. Love can thaw a frozen heart. Love can save you. (Love does conquer all, I guess.) And that simple gesture of holding someone’s hand suddenly shows its very complex significance.

 I loved, loved, loved the movie! (It’s been filmed in Montreal!) It is a wonderful mix of romance, comedy and suspense, and all the actors are doing a very fine job to convey them. Besides Nicholas Hoult (R.) there are Teresa Palmer (Julie), John Malkovich (General Griggio, Julie’s father), Rob Corddry (M., R.’s friend) and Analeigh Tipton (Julie’s friend, Nora). Jonathan Levine, as director and writer, has also done a great job.

Watch here the first four minutes of the film.

I went to see “Warm Bodies” on Saturday afternoon with my oldest daughter (not yet a teenager) –the youngest stayed home with my husband- and while I was not at all surprised that females made up for the vast majority of the audience I also found it amusing. I guess the few guys present were boyfriends or husbands dragged in there by their YA loving (better) halves. LOL

This makes me think of how most of the YA literature is directed at girls. Which reminds me of another zombie one can fall in love with…

Bram from Dearly, Departed: A Zombie Novel by Lia Habel.

I got this book from the library but halfway through it I decided I liked it so much that I wanted to buy it. (Long live Amazon!) Steampunk, romance and zombies in the same story might seem like a strange mix, but Lia Habel succeeds in a fascinating way. It is 2195 and the world as we know it has been destroyed. What remains of it has rearranged itself into a high-tech society with Victorian manners. But this world is conflicted and Nora, the high-society girl more interested by military history than debutante balls, finds herself right in the middle of it. That’s how she meets Bram, the young soldier, brave, handsome, noble… and dead. He has retained his humanity even better than R, with the help of medicine, yet theirs is a star-crossed romance for he is… dead and his decay inevitable…

You can read an excerpt here.

Finally, it’s funny that after all these thoughts on romance, I can’t help also thinking of Minheer Vanderhausen. What about him, you say? If you don’t know who he is or if you’ve forgotten, I invite you to (re)discover him in Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu’s short story, Strange Event in the Life of Schalken the Painter. You can read it here or here. Let me know what you think…

P.S. I just realized that I haven't mentioned at all the book upon which the movie is based, "Warm Bodies" by Isaac Marion. I cannot comment on it since I haven't read it yet...but I will... soon... :-)


  1. thanks for the review on warm bodies...i have enjoyed the commercials...and wondered at it...i might just get my wife to a zombie movie now..smiles...nice hit on the short story as well...i am off to read it now...

  2. Brian, I think she would like it. :-)

  3. I'm definitely going to rent this one, at least. The commercials did pique my interest.

    I think the world would be a much nicer place if MORE things in our culture were directed at girls.


  4. I seriously must have skipped a month in a coma or something. Where in the hell did this current Zombie craze come from and when did it become so mainstream?

    There is a young entrepreneur in Detroit trying to get 20 acres of land (easily available) to open a zombie theme park, where among the thrills you get to shoot his zombie employees with paint balls. Of course being Zombies they can wear no head protection so...maybe they will be real zombies after a month on the job.

  5. Just as with Vampires, I don't get the love connection in fiction with cold, dead, and in Zombie land, decaying flesh. I shudder when my wife brushes her cold feet against me. I'd think about staking her if she was 'Dead' cold all over. :)

    I'm sure 'Warm Bodies' was funny though. The preview you posted was. :)

  6. a zombie love story was inevitable. Still it looks interesting. I'll probably see it.

  7. hmm I've been wondering if I might like Warm Bodies. My husband loves The Walking Dead, but I can't handle watching something like that intense/creepy.
    The book Dearly Departed sounds interesting too. But alas I'm already lugging around three YA books, and some book about how the french parent babies/toddlers differently (my son's 16 so if I glean anything useful it will be funny to try to apply it).

  8. Paul, yes, you should see it. :-) And it's nice what you're saying about girls... :-)

    Mark, I suppose you have to be familiar with (paranormal) YA literature... After vampires and werewolves and fairies, came angels, zombies, revenants... Crazy? I guess... But these zombies are not your "regular" ones. Those are not at all my choice of books or movies. These "romantic" ones though are fun.
    As for that Detroit entrepreneur... well, I guess he's riding the wave... :-)

    Bernard, you're right. :-) Yet... Yet... It's probably all about the fascination with death and the connection between love and death that come to us from Romanticism. It also doesn't harm that all these guys are so good-looking... LOL

    Charles, as you say, it was expected... I'm only (a bit) surprised that it beat the stories with angels to the big screen. Yes, you should see it. :-)

    Taffiny, so nice to see you here! :-) I've seen only the first episode of The Walking Dead but this movie is completely different.

  9. I have had not the slightest interest in the recent zombie craze, but you changed that in one fell swoop with this very smart review, Vesper. :)

    I love this idea of having to try hard. To keep feeling love, to stay connected to some inner core of humanity. It CAN be an effort, even for us non-zombies. And yet, it's everything.

  10. *yawn* one day, vampires; next, it's zombies; tomorrow, back to werewolves?

  11. I'm not a huge zombie fan, but I can't wait to see "Warm Bodies"! It looks hilarious.

  12. Sarah, your praise makes me so happy! And you're absolutely right about having to try hard. I'm afraid that so often we don't even try enough...

    LW, one needs a bit of fantasy... Just look around you... can you take this world without at least a bit of (pleasant) fantasy? :-) :-) :-)

    Lauren, thank you for visiting my blog. I've never been a zombie fan and probably won't be one from now on either, but this very nice movie is a lot more than that. :-)

  13. Great! Let me know what you think. :-)

  14. not against fantasy in the least, my fave genre... am against 'me too-ism'

  15. i've ccome accross the first 4 minutes of warm bodies and it totally got me.
    i will surely check that one out around the web.

  16. Love CAN thaw a frozen heart, so true...

    I'm testing the waters:

    with a new blog idea!

    Hope to see you soon Vesper, happy weekend. G

  17. LW, I love this term 'me too-ism' ! LOL

    SzélsőFa, it's just come out on the big screens... :-)

    Geraldine, I'll take a look. :-)
    A great weekend to you!

  18. PS: My new prompt blog is a go as of this Sunday, woohoo!

    Had a good response to the idea and lots of prompt suggestions already. Hope you'll join in soon Vesper!

    Happy Weekend, G