A New Twist on the Saturated Zombie Genre

Warm Bodies, Isaac Marion

Warm BodiesGCCC Libraries have both the movie Warm Bodies on DVD and novel of the same name it was based on by Isaac Marion.  For fans of the zombie genre, who are a bit over the same old same old story being retold time and time again, Warm Bodies is certainly different.  The book is narrated by a zombie, named R (named by Julie in the movie, himself in the book as he can’t remember who he was as a human).  R is trapped in the daily pointless life of a walking corpse, and is pretty depressed with his situation.  He lives (well he doesn’t as he’s dead, but you know what I mean, resides maybe) with other corpses in an airport, only wandering out to the mostly abandoned city to feed on survivors with others in packs for better odds, who are also hungry enough to need to feed, as there’s big risks from humans.

In the book, zombies will also bring back parts of humans for others in the airport to eat who aren’t capable of enough movement to go out hunting on their own.   In both Warm bodies brosZombies particularly like to eat the brain of a human, as they get to relive their memories, and this is the only time they feel alive.  I like this reason by Isaac Marion for brain consumption, the best since Return of the Living Dead‘s, a brain temporarily cures the pain of feeling yourself rot. It is upon eating the brain of a scavenger that R immediately starts to enjoy the memories of the man’s feeling towards his girlfriend (Julie), who is fighting in another part of the room, for some reason he decides to save her, mask her human smell with zombie blood, and take her back to the airport with him.  As he continues to munch of the boyfriend’s brain he has saved, he starts to want the relationship with Julie, that the boyfriend had.  Julie of course just wants to escape, but through observation of R is quickly learning a lot of what she has been told about zombies being mindless corpses, existing just to feast on humans, is wrong.

warm bodies girl with brainsThe book (and the movie) are a little bit confusing to understand the whole  zombie makeup, (and zombie fan purists probably won’t like it all).  I never really understood it in the film and the book’s version even more so. I guess I just accepted whatever goes, goes, forgot to question it any longer in my mind and I ended up really  enjoying the film. The book is more like a social class divide, loosely paralleling the world of Romeo and Juliet or other fiction where say a Palestinian falls in love with a Jewish person in Israel where both families have been taught for generations that the other race is pure evil.  I liked how the book didn’t have the boneys as separate beings, but instead made them elders. That was better than the movie. But for me the zombies having relationships with each other, including getting married (R has a wife and kids in the book), being able to build stuff, and being aware enough to kidnap humans to train the kid zombies how to kill, as the humans do with zombies in the stadium is ultimately a little more confusing. R and the other zombies are more human like in this one. They can have conversations, whereas the movie zombies, they just grunted or struggled to get out one word. I preferred the movie version, but either will give those after the same old same old zombie experience on their pages/screen something not to like and complain about.

I loved the movie and after watching the special features on the DVD where Isaac
Warm bodies read bookMarion is interviewed and parts of the book’s text were shown I really wanted to read the book. The book wasn’t quite as good as I’d thought it would be though,  but still on it’s own (especially if you haven’t seen the movie yet) it’s still  a decent read. There are a fair few differences between the two mediums, some minor, such as they drive a Mercedes in the book instead of a BMW, and some major, such as the ending which is fleshed out more in the novel. The simpler one might not have made a lot of sense either, but being more simple it was easier to accept.

I found the movie to have more humour than the book, which didn’t really have  any. Perhaps this was due to what the actors brought to the screen. Nicholas Hoult (R) plays an interesting high functioning zombie, but it is really his zombie best friend M warm bodies the new hunger(played by Rob Corddry who bring the fun vibe to the zombie masses). M is definitely a much better character on the screen than the written one in the book. It didn’t hurt that his human kidnap victim was smoking hot (played by Adelaide born actress Teresa Palmer) either. I was hoping  to understand the movie a bit better after reading the book, but the book is ultimately more confusing. The number one thing I was questioning, where did  Julie get a weedwacker in the airport terminal, isn’t answered in the book  either. Issac Marion, has written a prequel though with The New Hunger. Perhaps  the answers are in there. A decent enough read, and we obviously wouldn’t have the movie without the book, but the movie is a lot better.

The movie/book have been successfully marketed but the way it was done has also produced some misconceptions as to what Warm Bodies is.  Because the book quotes Stephanie Meyer on the cover, many assume it is teen Twilight type romance novel.   It’s more of a situation light comedy.  The DVD is a family movie, the special features tell us scenes were left out or done a certain way to get the PG rating in the US. (We still rated it M out here in Australia though).