The Bride Wore Brains: Book Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Image from Amazon.com

Emily Wesley Stringer’s self-published debut novel, The Bride Wore Brains, is a fun dark comedy with a heavy zombie element.

Kat’s best friend, Claire, is getting married. Like any good Maid of Honor, Kat is doing her best to ensure that the wedding goes smoothly and that the bride has her day. When the guest begin to turn into zombies, however, Kat finds that her work is cut out for her.

This gorefest clocks in at just 70 pages, but the length doesn’t hinder the story in any way. The plot is solid, and I rallied behind Kat right away. The motley crew of characters that she fights beside are engaging and witty. I found the dialogue sharp, appropriately graphic (don’t act like you’re gonna sugarcoat your words during the end times), and I laughed out loud several times. My favorite character was the one named after a sex toy; I’ll let you figure out who that is when you read the book. The minutiae of wedding planning is laid out carefully and repeatedly, allowing for me to really empathize with the Maid of Honor and her impossible task of making sure the day goes off without a hitch. The clever banter between the members of the wedding party kept the talk of bouquets and catering from getting too monotonous, while certain doom lurked on the periphery of each scene, slowly ambling toward a bloody, showstopping (and wedding-stopping) climax.

Unfortunately, this wonderful story has its share of awkward syntax and grammatical errors; so much that I had to re-read whole paragraphs at a time. At times, this took me out of the story, and hurt the flow of the narrative. I’m not sure if this was some kind of stylistic choice on the part of the author or not. Regardless, it affected my reading experience a little bit, and I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention it to potential readers.

When it comes to genre, Stringer is fully aware of her audience. She knows that when we jump into a zombie story, no matter how light it is, we want blood and guts. When the dead walk, it ain’t pretty, and the cleanup is not all Windex and feather dusters. In this case, it involves a chainsaw and a machete. When it all goes down, the author is not worried about our precious sensitivities; tendons snap, blood gushes, and power tools slice with no censorship whatsoever. It’s in-your-face and it’s a good ‘ol time.

Another note about the climax: I like to listen to music while I read, and on this particular evening I had my player set on random. As bodies were dropping (and rising) and blood was being spilled, “Lovely Day” by Bill Withers, came on. I kid you not, this is the most perfect song for the wedding-day mayhem that occurs in this book. I laughed so hard my sides hurt, and I ended up putting the song on a loop so I could keep the on-point soundtrack going. I swear to the old gods and the new, if a movie version of this book is ever made, they better play this song during the slow-motion bloodbath.

Overall, this is a solid story full of pull-no-punches dark humor and gratuitous fun, but it could benefit from an editor to smooth out the grammatical errors and slightly clumsy prose, so that readers can get the best experience possible and just enjoy the gory, gory ride. I’d recommend it to fans of [REC]3, Shaun of the Dead, and the Evil Dead films.  Find it on Amazon.

Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse: Movie Review

scouts - poster

Have you ever found yourself watching Superbad and thinking, “I wish there was a less well-written version of this with zombies and more annoying characters,”?  Then this movie is for you!

That sounds harsher than I mean it to.  I apologize to the scouts and their stripper friend.  Let’s break it down.

SCOUTS VS. ZOMBIES

Ben, Carter and Augie are sophomores in high school.  They are Boy Scouts.  Augie loves being a scout.  Ben and Carter are planning on quitting – because being a Boy Scout is super lame, you guys – but don’t want to hurt Augie’s feelings.
The three of them are going on an overnight scout trip with Scout Leader Rodgers (a Dolly Parton-loving David Koechner) when Ben and Carter are invited to a super-secret high school party by Kendall’s (Carter’s hot sister, who Ben has a very obvious crush on) boyfriend.  But it’s the same night as the camp-out!  What are these scouts going to do?

They’re going to ditch Augie after he goes to sleep and go to the party, because that sounds like a plan that will go very well.  Somewhere along the line, they meet up with Denise, a former high school dropout who now works at a local strip club.

SCOUTS VS. ZOMBIES

Pretty standard high school sex comedy stuff, really.  Until the zombies show up.
We see the outbreak at the beginning of the movie.  They are being studied at some local sciency place, which allows burnout janitors to just dance right into the zombie zone.  It seemed like they probably could have secured the area a little better, but that’s just me being cautious, I guess.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wfP_GdRFZL0

At this point, Ben, Carter, Augie (who joins up with them after having some adventures by himself) and Denise are still trying to get to the party.  Not because they want to hook up with seniors (they do, though), but because they want to save everyone there from the zombies.  Also, the military is planning on wiping out the entire city to stop the zombie spread (as seen in Resident Evil: Apocalypse, The Crazies, Return of the Living Dead and many, many more).

SCOUTS VS. ZOMBIES

I just used a whole lot of words on a pretty simplistic plot.  I apologize.  I could have just said, “high school boys attempt to procure alcohol and bang girls way out of their league, also zombies.”  Or, to kind of repeat myself from earlier, “Superbad: Rave To The Grave,” complete with one of the characters (Carter) trying to be a skinny Jonah Hill in the worst way.  Anyway, let’s get to some thoughts.

scouts - zombie selfie

It was fine.  Carter’s whole “Jonah Hill in Superbad,” act got old really quick, and I didn’t really care for bland Ben, but I really liked Augie and Denise.  I liked Augie because he wasn’t ashamed of who he was (he also created the best weapon when it came to killin’ time) and Denise because, underneath her gruff demeanor, was actually quite sweet.  Her and Ben formed a weird little friendship that I genuinely enjoyed watching.  She treated Carter like garbage, because he was a jackass and needed to be put in his place.  I liked that, because Carter deserves everything bad in this world.
Ultimately, we’re talking about zombie comedy, so let’s talk about the zombies.
It was unclear how they were going to play it.  The first zombies we see are typical Romero zombies.  We also see a zombie deer, so we know it can cross species.

Also, cats
Also, cats

Then we get to a scene early in the outbreak where our heroes are making a stand in a liquor store parking lot.  A horde of zombies are lurching towards them.  Suddenly, one of the zombies goes down on all fours and starts running at them like a flesh-eating ape.  Okay then.  We’re dealing with Day of the Dead (remake) zombies.
We also find out that the zombies retain something of their pre-zombie memories, much like latter day Romero zombies (as first seen in the original Day of the Dead).  How do we find this out?  Why, the scouts sing “…Baby One More Time” to a zombie wearing a Britney Spears t-shirt, and the zombie attempts to sing along.  It’s a highly scientific method.

"My loneliness is killing meeeee..."
“My loneliness is killing meeeee…”

There is some decent gore, especially when the scouts “weapon up” and hit the party.  They created a bunch of zombie-killing weapons from random hardware store items, because apparently they had all earned their Weapon Making merit badges.  Lots of death, destruction, mayhem, etc.
If you like the image of someone using a zombie penis as a handle, only to tear that handle off and send it flying through the air, there is also a scene like that.  There is also a scene where someone takes a selfie with a pair of zombie boobs.  I did not care for those scenes.

scouts - running up stairsI can’t say I enjoyed this movie all the way through, but there were enough funny/bloody moments to keep me entertained.  There’s something I had to keep in mind as I was watching this: I am 35 years old.  This movie was not really made with the “approaching middle-age man” in mind.  If I was in high school or college, I’m sure I would find this movie hilarious.  It’s a bit of dumb fun with crude jokes, lots of gore and a little nudity.  It’s fast-moving enough to make it easy to overlook its flaws.
Although, honestly, if you switch out Carter for a character who is less obnoxious, I’m sure I would have enjoyed this more than I did.  As it stands, this was a fun movie that I will probably never watch again.  If I do, it’ll probably be on mute, in the background of a party.

scouts - trapped
Who am I kidding?  I don’t have parties.  I apologize for lying to you all.

Rating: 2.5/5

31 Days of Horror Day 29: Severance

severance movie poster

A British horror comedy about a work retreat held in a remote cabin in Hungary.  The fear of bears is real, but they soon realize something more sinister is lurking in the trees.  Is their cabin really an old mental institution, or is that just a story?

Severance - Walking on Road

I love this movie.  It’s a comedy, but it also knows its horror movies.  It plays out like a tense slasher, and there are some pretty brutal scenes.  While some of the violence is played for laughs, it’s never overly goofy.  So, while it is absolutely a comedy, it never loses sight of the horror aspect.

Severance - Knife

It’s incredibly funny, and doesn’t lack for blood or gore.  If you haven’t seen this yet, I highly recommend that you do.  If you have, now’s the time to revisit it.

31 Days of Horror Day 21: Tucker & Dale vs. Evil

Tucker and Dale - Poster

Did you all like when I wrote about Dracula 3D then disappeared for a while?
What?  You didn’t like that?  My bad.
To apologize, let’s watch Tucker & Dale vs. Evil: a different look on the murderous redneck genre.  In this film, we follow the lovable Tucker and Dale as they fix up their new summer home, only to find college kids committing mass suicide on their new land.  It’s extremely funny and extremely bloody.  I adore this movie.

They have had a doozy of a day.
They have had a doozy of a day.

31 Days of Horror Day 17: The Cabin in the Woods

Cabin in the Woods - Poster

Hey guys.  Let’s get real for a second.  This week has been really stressful.  Work has been crazy.  And, on top of these 31 Days of Horror posts and the return of The Walking Dead, I have also been keeping myself busy with my work at Packer Update.  All of that means I’ve been writing more on a daily basis than I ever have in my life.  It seems like I’m busy all the time.  I love writing about horror movies and football, but sometimes I feel like no one actually reads any of this, and it’s just draining, ya know?

Not now, zombie hand. I'm in the middle of something.
Not now, zombie arm. I’m in the middle of something.

Sometimes I feel like I need something like Evil Dead: something big and nasty and drenched in blood.  Other times I need something like The Cabin in the Woods: something that just gets it.  Something that turns a perfectly executed genre deconstruction into a hugely comical bloodbath.  Something that has fun with genre conventions, yet doesn’t mock the genre.  Something that can simultaneously make you laugh and cringe.

Cabin in the Woods - Unicorn

I didn’t love this the first time I saw it.  I loved the first hour, but thought the ending was just a bit too much.  A bit too in-your-face.  The more I watch it, the further I get away from that view.  I love that they can take apart the genre by looking at it from a different angle, then shrug their shoulders and heap mayhem on the third act.  It’s beautiful.  It’s the result of some guys who made a movie they always wanted to watch, and had a lot of fun doing it.

Cabin in the Woods - Elevator

They show you all the monsters they could have used instead of the Zombie Redneck Torture Family, then they unleash them all on the world in a blaze of bloody glory.  (If you’re looking for great way to kill time, do a Google Image search for “Cabin in the Woods Monsters”.)

Cabin in the Woods - Cubes

The concept is perfect.  The cast is great.  The dialogue is fantastic.  It’s Friday!  Let’s all have fun and watch The Cabin in the Woods.

Cabin in the Woods - Cabin

And don’t forget to dance.

Cabininthewoodsdance