The Girl with All the Gifts

On 26 January THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS hits US cinema screens. Here in the UK we were lucky enough to get to see the film in September last year. My advice to those of you in the States? Go see this movie as soon as you’re able. Based on the acclaimed novel by M R Carey, it’s a superb zombie tale with an excellent cast, which echoes the works of George Romero and John Wyndham in equal measure. Below you’ll find a synopsis, the trailer, and a link to click to read my thoughts.

The near future; humanity has been all but destroyed by a mutated fungal disease that eradicates free will and turns its victims into flesh-eating “hungries”. Only a small group of children seem immune to its effects.

At an army base in rural England, this group of unique children are being studied, subjected to cruel experiments by biologist Dr. Caldwell. Despite having been infected with the zombie pathogen that has decimated the world, these children retain normal thoughts and emotions. And while still being subject to the craving for human flesh that marks the disease these second-generation “hungries” are able to think and feel making them a vital resource in the search for a cure.

The children attend school lessons daily, guarded by the ever watchful Sergeant Parks. But one little girl, Melanie, stands out from the rest. Melanie is special. She excels in the classroom, is inquisitive, imaginative and loves her favourite teacher Miss Justineau.

When the base falls, Melanie escapes along with Miss Justineau, Sergeant Parks and Dr. Caldwell. Against the backdrop of a blighted Britain, Melanie must discover what she is and ultimately decide both her own future and that of the human race.

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I Am Legend (2007)

iamlegendposterYou might remember that a couple of months ago I started looking back at Richard Matheson’s landmark novel, I AM LEGEND, and the various film adaptations which have followed. I wrote about LAST MAN ON EARTH here, and eviscerated THE OMEGA MAN here. Now it’s time to look at the version I was dreading most. Alex Proyas’ 2007 I AM LEGEND starring Will Smith.

It’s funny how time affects your perception and enjoyment of movies. I originally loved THE OMEGA MAN back in the day, but hated it following my recent re-watch. Similarly, whilst I despised I AM LEGEND first time around, it didn’t annoy me anywhere near as much when I watched it again. It’s still horribly flawed, it still takes huge liberties with Matheson’s story, it still stars Will Smith (and I still can’t stand him), but it was… well, okay, I guess.

Here’s the trailer. Click the link for my thoughts.

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I am Legend

IamLegendRichard Matheson’s I AM LEGEND is a remarkable book. Do a straw poll of a hundred horror authors and ask them to name the single piece of fiction which most influenced them, and I’ll wager that a good number will cite I AM LEGEND. It’s not just authors – the same is probably true of film-makers too. You can’t read the book without having scenes from George Romero’s original NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD play out in your head.

There’s no question, therefore, that this is an hugely influential novel, and the fact it’s been filmed on no less than three occasions is further proof of that. Interestingly, though, it’s also a remarkably slight book, coming in at less than 200 pages. So how does Matheson cram so much into so little? I decided to try and find out. There will unavoidably be spoilers ahead.

As I type I’ve literally just finished re-reading the book for the umpteenth time. I thought it would be interesting to give you my thoughts on the novel and then, over the next few weeks, to look at each of the film adaptations in turn (and if you’re not aware of the movies, they are as follows: LAST MAN ON EARTH, THE OMEGA MAN and I AM LEGEND).

I’m sure you know the basic plot by now but, just in case, here’s the back cover blurb: Robert Neville may well be the only survivor of an incurable plague that has mutated every other man, woman, and child into bloodthirsty, nocturnal creatures who are determined to destroy him.

By day, he scavenges for food and supplies, desperate to find any other survivors who might be out there. But all the while the infected lurk in the shadows, watching his every move, waiting for him to make a mistake…

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Tex Montana Will Survive!

You might remember me waxing lyrical about a superb indie zombie film from a couple of years back called THE BATTERY. It was an excellent example of how low budgets and limited resources are no obstacle to success if you’ve got a strong vision and are dedicated to your project. THE BATTERY was an extremely original movie, and it looks like the film-makers’ next release – TEX MONTANA WILL SURVIVE! – is going to be equally inventive.

There’s a Kickstarter campaign running throughout February, and I urge you to support it. Not least because this is a campaign with a HUGE difference. The film is complete, already in the can, and the team behind it intend to use their crowdfunding campaign to release it FOR FREE, WORLDWIDE, as soon as the campaign ends (27 days and counting). As someone whose career was launched by giving their work away for free (if you’re late to the party, the first AUTUMN novel was available as a free download in the early 2000’s), I completely appreciate how big a deal this is for Jeremy Gardner, Christian Stella, and Adam Cronheim. Please view the Kickstarter video I’ve embedded here, check out the campaign, and pledge your support.

Remember that time I said I was finished with zombies (and I was very wrong)

Remember that time I said I was finished with #zombies (and I was very wrong)

Hate to keep teasing announcements, but as well as THE FRONT (coming soon from me, Craig DiLouie and Tim Long), we’re getting ready to announce a MASSIVE Infected Books zombie event for 2016.

By the way, I’ve been beavering away behind the scenes here, and I missed an anniversary. It’s five years last month since Thomas Dunne Books released AUTUMN. The picture above was taken by me in Barnes & Noble on E 17th Street, New York, on the day of release back in 2010. I still find it hard to believe that my little zombie story – which started out as a free pdf I used to email to folks in the pre-ebook days of the turn of the century – turned into such a monster. Five novels, a short story collection, a movie, a radio adaptation… there’s clearly still a lot of love for the undead.

So let’s have some more.

It’s Horror Week on Goodreads…

…and I’m one of the authors answering questions. Alan Moore, Clive Barker, Justin Cronin, Brian Keene, Scott Sigler – click here to see the list of horror authors taking part.

Hanging out with the people of Lowestoft. At Horror in the East with @neen_uk

The HATER movie, the new HATER books, AUTUMN, STRANGERS, THE SPACES BETWEEN – this is your chance to ask me anything (within reason). Click here and ask away. I’ll be answering throughout the week.

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Story Behind the Book

51nx7vZHruLBack in November 2013 I was asked to contribute an article about the genesis of the AUTUMN series to the fine folk at upcoming4.me, a great literary site. You can read the piece I wrote at this link.

I’m pleased to advise that my article has been collected alongside numerous others and released in print form as part of THE STORY BEHIND THE BOOK VOLUME 5 which is available now. It contains essays from a large number of writers, some of whom will no doubt be familiar to you… Sarah Pinborough, Paul Kane, Stephen Volk, Charlaine Harris, and Gareth L Powell to name but five. The collection is available from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.

In case you were wondering (because I’m sure you were), the front cover shows a computer manipulated image of pFAK protein in RPMI-7951, taken by Ivana, one of the book’s editors.

And if you’re interested in a little more behind-the-scenes AUTUMN, check out this link to the retrospective pieces I wrote about each book in the series a few years ago.

28 Weeks Later

28wlBack in January I wrote a piece about 28 DAYS LATER. The film went down reasonably well with my kids and we soon settled down together to watch the sequel, 2007’s 28 WEEKS LATER.

Interestingly, if you look back at my earlier piece, you’ll see that I enjoyed 28DL more than I had previously. I felt like it had improved with age. 28WL had the opposite effect, however, and I didn’t warm to it as I had the earlier film. As always, a synopsis and trailer follows, and my thoughts are after the jump.

Six months after the rage virus was inflicted on the population of Great Britain, the US Army helps to secure a small area of London for the survivors to repopulate and start again. But not everything goes to plan.

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28 Days Later

twenty_eight_days_laterAs a responsible father, I think it’s important to ensure my kids have a solid all round education. As such, I see it as my duty to introduce them to cultural milestones. Last night I did just that (I am being sarcastic here, by the way), sitting down with the girls for a family viewing of Danny Boyle‘s seminal 28 DAYS LATER. It had been many years since I’d seen the film, and I was interested to see how it stood up today: what was considered ground-breaking in 2002 might have appeared cliched today. To my surprise, I think I enjoyed the movie more than I ever have done.

A quick glance at my Recommendations page revealed that I’ve never written about this hugely influential movie for this site, so I thought I’d remedy that right now. As usual, a brief synopsis and trailer follows. Click on the link for my thoughts.

An infirmary patient awakens from a coma to an empty room…in a vacant hospital…in a deserted city. A powerful virus, which locks victims into a permanent state of murderous rage, has transformed the world around him into a seemingly desolate wasteland. Now a handful of survivors must fight to stay alive, unaware that the worst is yet to come…

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