Saturday, 27 August 2011

The Basement Always Means Doom!

I know it's not crime fiction, but like it says above, this blog's basically about anything that takes my fancy - and Zee Bee & Bee by David James Keaton did just that (I've got a real soft spot for zombies).
This novella is a witty, surreal, outrageously original take on the zombie genre. The story sees guests pay to take part in a Night of the Living Dead style apocalyptic scenario. Actors playing zombies stage an assault on an isolated farmhouse where the guests are holed up. But as the night progresses both actors and guests start becoming dangerously committed to their roles. The plot, then, is a little thin. But the plot is never really the point in Keaton's book - the point is the characters and the razor-sharp dialogue. Not a trait you'd usually associate with genre fiction, but then this isn't your typical zombie story. Zee Bee & Bee sets out to deconstruct the genre in much the same way as Scream. Its characters churn out an endless stream of movie trivia, referencing a lot of films I've seen and even some I haven't (and believe me I've seen way too many films). Far from being a sneering parody of the genre, though, it's more a kind of extended love letter from a horror film fanatic to every zombie flick ever made, particularly Romero's 'Holy Trinity'. The comparisons to Scream are obvious, but the film the first two-thirds of the novella really made me think of was Clerks. The employees at Zee Bee & Bee are a bunch of zombie film nerds who spend more time hanging out and shooting the shit than actually working. So much so, in fact, that I was beginning to get hungry for some flesh-chomping action. Then the last third of the novella kicks in and delivers a gory climax - quite literally in the case of one stomach-churning scene that I'm sure will stay with me for some time. All in all, I'd highly recommend this to horror buffs. But if you don't know the tropes of the genre, you might not get the joke.

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