Abed: The Film

by Katemandi, Last Girl on Earth

What would you do to keep your family alive?

We tend to think of the zombie apocalypse with pyrotechnics, unspooling in the crowded streets of big cities with ample armed forces in place to protect the citizens from the ravening hordes (at least at first). But what happens off in the periphery where people are left to their own devices?

From Familiar Productions LLC, director Ryan Lieske brings to life a gruesome little tale from acclaimed horror writer (and super-nice person) Elizabeth Massie. Abed offers a unique angle on the zombie narrative, one that focuses the horror on the human costs. In the interests of full disclosure, I should say that some of the folks involved in the film are friends and I was part of the Indiegogo project that funded its filming (and thus get a thanks along with all the funders in the credits). I think this will become more common as projects go direct to their potential audiences for funding and cut out the middle men.

For a film with a shoestring budget, it looks awfully good. There’s a texture and palette to the visuals that lends richness to the story. The acting is mostly quite natural and convincing, especially stars Rachel Finan (Meggie) and Daniel E. Falicki (Quint) who carry the film by providing its heart. I found Mama, played by Vicki Deshaw-Fairman, a little too mannered at times, but not distractingly so. There was an extra level of creepiness for me because it was filmed near where I grew up, so the familiarity of the landscape and accents made the story even more uncanny. Great make-up and art direction. The music by Tom Ashton enhances the atmosphere without ever overwhelming it.

I’ve watched a lot of horror films and find it rare to actually feel horror while watching one: Abed will fill you with horror. Like a lot of Massie’s tales it’s not initially the “in your face” kind, but subtly creeping up until you wonder how things got so bad. This is a truly unsettling story; not for everyone! Lieske and crew have done a wonderful job at bringing the story to life. You invest in the characters and believe in the lengths people will go to for the ones that they love. You’ll shudder. This film will stay with you. Well done.

It’s going to be making the rounds of festivals, so with luck news soon about distribution. Drop by their Facebook page for updates.

Buy the original story for 99¢

Tools for the Apocalypse: Zombie Tarot

by Katemandi, Last Girl on Earth

Got zombies? Need to predict their next move? You need the Zombie Tarot!

Our fave zombie novelist Dana Fredsti has reviewed the deck at length, which she calls, “cool, clever and beautifully illustrated.”

Lyn over at the Witch Blog has a wonderful video review of the brand new tarot deck designed for the vagaries of the undead apocalypse: Zombie Tarot. Let’s have the lovely Lyn take over:

Drop by the Witch Blog for all your witchy needs! Drop by Zhadi’s Den to keep up with Dana’s climb up the ladder of success. And pre-order your tarot deck today!

Dear Readers

Aunty Apocalypse is in and she wants to know what you want to hear about! Use the comments section for this post to let us have your thoughts on what you want to hear about on the GGSA.

Know Your Idols #27 Mulan

Ok we’ve all seen the Disney film and it’s great, but Hau Mulan was a figure from Chinese history that became something of a legend and had a poem about her that is believed to have been transcribed in the 6th Century. Long before the suffragettes we had Mulan.

What’s her deal?
Well Disney was actually on the nose with this, when Hau Mulan’s elderly father was called up to serve the army she took his place. From there the stories differ, but either is good. The historical figure served for 12 years, working her way up the ranks, gained great honour and retired quietly to her home town. It’s thought she lived during the Nothern Wei Dynasty (386-534).

Image Source

Disney has a rather more fanciful version with Eddie Murphy as a tiny dragon Mushu. Still it’s a good fun romp and covers the same basic principle, girl replaces elderly father Fa Mulan, girl kicks ass at being a warrior and wins respect and honour for her family.

Disney movie Mulan

She Says:
My ancestors sent a little lizard to help me?
Just because I look like a man doesn’t mean I have to smell like one
Uhh… I mean, uh, sorry you had to see that, but you know how it is when you get those, uh, manly urges, and you just gotta kill somethin’… fix things, uh, cook outdoors…

Image Source

Putting aside the Disney fun briefly, Mulan was a true idol, a girl in a patriarchal world who stood up and took arms for love of her father and her families honour.

Here is what I could find online of the poem ‘Ode to Mulan’

Tsiek tsiek and again tsiek tsiek,
Mu-lan weaves, facing the door.
You don’t hear the shuttle’s sound,
You only hear Daughter’s sighs.
They ask Daughter who’s in her heart,
They ask Daughter who’s on her mind.
“No one is on Daughter’s heart,
No one is on Daughter’s mind.
Last night I saw the draft posters,
The Khan is calling many troops,
The army list is in twelve scrolls,
On every scroll there’s Father’s name.
Father has no grown-up son,
Mu-lan has no elder brother.
I want to buy a saddle and horse,
And serve in the army in Father’s place.”

In the East Market she buys a spirited horse,
In the West Market she buys a saddle,
In the South Market she buys a bridle,
In the North Market she buys a long whip.
At dawn she takes leave of Father and Mother,
In the evening camps on the Yellow River’s bank.
She doesn’t hear the sound of Father and Mother calling,
She only hears the Yellow River’s flowing water cry tsien tsien.

At dawn she takes leave of the Yellow River,
In the evening she arrives at Black Mountain.
She doesn’t hear the sound of Father and Mother calling,
She only hears Mount Yen’s nomad horses cry tsiu tsiu.
She goes ten thousand miles on the business of war,
She crosses passes and mountains like flying.
Northern gusts carry the rattle of army pots,
Chilly light shines on iron armor.
Generals die in a hundred battles,
Stout soldiers return after ten years.

On her return she sees the Son of Heaven,
The Son of Heaven sits in the Splendid Hall.
He gives out promotions in twelve ranks
And prizes of a hundred thousand and more.
The Khan asks her what she desires.
“Mu-lan has no use for a minister’s post.
I wish to ride a swift mount
To take me back to my home.”

When Father and Mother hear Daughter is coming
They go outside the wall to meet her, leaning on each other.
When Elder Sister hears Younger Sister is coming
She fixes her rouge, facing the door.
When Little Brother hears Elder Sister is coming
He whets the knife, quick quick, for pig and sheep.
“I open the door to my east chamber,
I sit on my couch in the west room,
I take off my wartime gown
And put on my old-time clothes.”
Facing the window she fixes her cloudlike hair,
Hanging up a mirror she dabs on yellow flower powder
She goes out the door and sees her comrades.
Her comrades are all amazed and perplexed.
Traveling together for twelve years
They didn’t know Mu-lan was a girl.
“The he-hare’s feet go hop and skip,
The she-hare’s eyes are muddled and fuddled.
Two hares running side by side close to the ground,
How can they tell if I am he or she?”

Apocalypse Olympics

by GClarkHellery

In case you missed it the other day, the apocalypse girls were having a little chat on Twitter about a possible Apocalypse Olympics which got me thinking: what sort of games would we have at the games? I’ve made a list of possible events but feel free to add more in the comments section below.

  1. Speed packing. How quickly can you pack your evac bag with all your survival items?;
  2. Running from zombies (in heels) one for a giggle;
  3. Werewolf wrestling;
  4. Know your idols speed naming competition;
  5. Shoot the clown;
  6. Bow and arrow assault course. First part would be traditional archery, followed by different challenges using different parts of your bow, perhaps chop the head off the zombie with the string etc;
  7. Pin the tail on the (undead) donkey;
  8. Long jump, over a pit of man eating slugs;
  9. Aliens attack, laser tag;
  10. Going back for the cat. How many animals can you herd into the correct pens.

Music for the Apocalypse #35 Experiment IV

Ah Kate Bush purveyor of excellent and unusual music offered us this little piece of awesome. I can’t help but think it’s fitting. Here’s a vision of a possible apocalypse for you all.

Experiment Iv
We were working secretly for the military.
Our experiment in sound was nearly ready to begin.
We only know in theory what we are doing.
Music made for pleasure
music made to thrill.
It was music we were making here until –

But they told us all they wanted was a sound
that could kill someone

From a distance
so we go ahead

and the meters are over in the red.
It’s a mistake in the maklng.

From the painful cries of mothers to the terrifying scream

We recorded it andIput it into our machine.
But they told us all tney wanted was a sound
that could kill someone
. ..

It could feel like falling in love
it could feel so bad

But it could feel so good
it could sing you to sleep

But that dream is yaur enemy.

We won’t be there to be blamed
we won’t be there to switch.
I iust pray that someone there can hit the switch.
But they told us all they wanted was a sound
that could kill someone

From the distance
so we go ahead

and the meters are over in the red.
It’s a mistake we have made.
And the public are warned to stay ofF.
And the public are warned to stay ofF.

Map of The Dead

Assuming we don’t lose internet connectivity when the apocalypse comes (and in the words of Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory, if that happens there’s no point continuing is there?!) there’s a useful tool called the Map of the Dead which allows you to see where there are supplies, medical aid, possible danger areas and more local to you. It’s an interesting site and excellent for all your pre-apocalypse planning. Check it out here.

Music for the Apocalypse #34: Brave New World, by Iron Maiden

Iron Maiden have been suggested to me several times for this series, and this song in particular. I was waiting until the moment was right, and I feel the time has come. Rock out, ladies!

I did wonder whether ‘Brave New World’ really counted as apocalyptic. The lyrics certainly have an apocalyptic ring:

Dragon kings dying queens, where is salvation now
Lost my life lost my dreams, rip the bones from my flesh
Silent screams laughing here, dying to tell you the truth
You are planned and you are damned in this brave new world

But the book on which the song is based, Brave New World is more dystopic than apocalyptic, and this comes out in the lyrics, too: ‘Dying to tell you the truth / You are planned and you are damned in this brave new world’. This is clearly about trying to get a message of warning (the truth) out about the dangers of the dystopic society – nobody really lives in a world where their lives are ‘planned’ out for them by the state.

Of course, there are a lot of songs in this series that are not strictly apocalyptic in nature, but which we have recommended to you as a good soundtrack for the apocalypse nonetheless. However, it seemed an interesting question to me: just what is the relationship between the dystopic and the apocalyptic. They certainly share key themes. Brave New World is concerned with the apparent dichotomy between civilisation and nature. The old theme that the civilised world corrupts, that technology that seeks to interfere too much with nature risks ‘damning’ us, either because it is seen as an attempt to interfere with God’s plan, or because nature itself is venerated. Apocalyptic fiction, art, and music is similarly concerned with the themes of civilisation and nature. Where dystopia explores this by positing ‘over’-civilised worlds, apocalypse does so by destroying civilisation and forcibly returning us to a state of nature. In this case, however, nature is rarely kind. There is usually some descent in to barbarism as warring tribes battle it out for resources and territory.

And yet, I suspect this dichotomy of apocalypse and dystopia is as artificial as that between nature and civilisation. They idea that anything could become ‘unnatural’ has always puzzled me – after all, human beings are natural creatures; why should their actions in some cases be deemed natural and in others (typically those concerned with creating advances technology or novel political systems) not? Close examination of apocalyptic texts reveals that they are usually more complex and nuanced. In The Stand after the initial outbreak of looting and vandalism, most survivors seem concerned with rebuilding civiliastion – regardless of whether they side with Abagail Freemantle or with Randall Flag. The factionalism arises because of differing ideals of what it is to be civilised. Even in films like Mad Max II and III, which might seem archetypal of the descent into barbarism and ‘state of nature’, the tribes war over possession of gasoline, which is itself a product of and enabler of civilised technologies (chiefly, transportation – so crucial in the barren Australian environment for people unused to surviving in the Outback*).

Equally, in dystopic fiction, the dystopia is often set against the backdrop of a savage outside world, from which the inhabitants are walled off for their own safety. Thus, in Logan’s Run, the world outside the domes is an overgrown wilderness that had been abandoned following some catastrophe. The rigidly stratified world where people are killed once they reach 30 has come into existence in order to deal with the constraints on resources forced by the retreat into the domes. Brave New World similarly suggests a world where a happy, comfortable life is preserved via population control and a rigid caste system, but a ‘savage’ world still persists outside the boundaries of that system. Moreover, a recurring theme of dystopic fiction is a sort of stagnation born of such oppressive societies that might be seen as the end of one sort of world: the death of imagination.

Are dystopic and apocalyptic fiction the same? No, but they are flip-sides of the same coin. Dystopia can arise out of apocalypse and apocalypse can ‘free’ us from dystopia, but in such cases the one hangs in the background of the other, asking questions. Is it really that awesome to be ‘freed’ from responsibility? Is it really so great to be ‘freed’ from civilisation? 

Play this song when you’re feeling sad about the world that has been lost. If you’re stuck in a post-apocalypse world it can be good to blast out a song with an angry beat to remind you that not everything that’s gone was good.

 – Apocalypse Womble out.

Know Your Idols #26 Saga Norén

Know Your Idols #26 Saga Noren

by Katemandi, Last Girl on Earth

What’s her deal?

Nordic crime has been all the rage since The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo but the latest import to come south, The Bridge [Bron/Broen], has a heroine who would kick Lisbeth’s ass because she is the vortex of cool. Unlike seemingly every other kickass heroine these days, however, Saga didn’t have to be raped to be strong — she just is intelligent, dogged and extremely tough. She seems to exhibit the characteristics of Asperger’s but remains highly functional. With her Danish partner Martin, the shambling bundle of well-meaning but ego-gratifying regular guy, Saga also begins to deal with the pain in her past by studying the wreck Martin makes of his life. And she learns — Saga begins to understand human relations as she focuses her laser-like intensity on an increasingly bizarre and complicated case — and goes mano a mano with a serial killer and takes bullets and drives a Porsche. The whole case relies upon her sharp observation and razor-sharp mind.


Mini-series, dual language in Swedish and Danish. Lots of atmospheric shots of the Øresund Bridge between Mälmo and Copenhagen. Saga is played by Sofia Helin.

She Says:

 Typical behaviour has Saga evincing puzzlement and surprise that other people like praise and expect it. She often regards her colleagues as if they were some kind of alien species whose actions are often trivial and unfathomable. There’s a bit of a joke here on the differences between Swedes and Danes that are not going to be too apparent to most of the viewers in English: I remember a Dane telling me quite humorously that Swedish trains don’t say “No smoking” but rather “No smoking cigarettes, no smoking pipes, no smoking cigars…” Well, you get the picture. Saga and Martin just blow up the stereotypes to the extreme.

I didn’t plan to watch the series. I can seldom watch a series, but I got hooked in and sat there Sat night watching it as broadcast — shrieking at the end of episode nine. Saga is well worth your time: you’ll want her on your side come the apocalypse.

Invasion? What invasion?

In response to “Canada Prepares for Zombie Apocalypse”, I thought I ought to share my family’s recent holiday video with you. British Columbia is a lovely place, but we’re accustomed to living under the constant shadow of disaster, and taught from an early age to prepare for earthquakes, tsunamis, bear attacks, avalanches, and generally a million ways that Mother Nature might open her maw and eat us. Of course, with such constant vigilance, there comes the danger of growing complacent… (Save the world? Not today — I’m on vacation in Tofino!)