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Can We All Just Agree to Call a Zombie, a Zombie From Now On?

This obsession with nomenclature is more than a little frustrating to someone like myself who has a soft spot for zombies, despite the saturated market and steadily declining standards of AMC’s The Walking Dead.



Enter the word ‘Zombie’ on Wikipedia – the university student’s best friend; infallible fount of knowledge for humankind in the 21st century – and this is the description that greets you: “A zombie is a fictional undead being created through the reanimation of a human corpse… The term comes from Haitian folklore, where a zombie is a dead body reanimated through various methods, most commonly magic (although) modern depictions of the reanimation of the dead do not necessarily involve magic but often invoke science fictional methods such as carriers, radiation, mental diseases, vectors, pathogens, scientific accidents, etc.”

Now consider some of the most popular video games, television series, and films that revolve around the concept. Chances are, you’ll find the long-established z-word replaced with a raft of pseudonyms ranging from the reasonably sensible ‘Infected’ to the downright awful ‘Freakers’ – I can’t even begin to explain how much I hate the latter (sorry Days Gone).

Okay, so it’s not a massive issue and it has absolutely zero effect on the stories these game developers and screenwriters are trying to tell. But, at the risk of sounding like a pedantic old man who fears any kind of change no matter how small, is it really necessary? Why is it such a bad thing to call a zombie, a zombie?

I mean, how is it the denizens of The Walking Dead, 28 Days Later, and The Last of Us are completely unfamiliar with the term?

The only logical conclusion is that the concept of a ‘zombie’ doesn’t exist in their worlds. So, when Rick Grimes, Joel, Deacon, etc. first see something clearly resembling a zombie shambling (or, as is increasingly common these days, sprinting towards them with the grace and instinctive coordination of a parkour master), they simply don’t recognize them for what they are and are forced to wrack their brains looking for a suitable name to describe them.

Otherwise, their initial reaction to news of the civilization-ending outbreak would have been something like “oh shit, the zombie apocalypse everyone’s been banging on about for years has finally come to pass. Best look at investing in some padded, bite-proof clothing options from the nearest Primark” not “have you heard about that new disease that’s reanimating dead people? It turns them into insensate, rotting monstrosities with an insatiable hunger for human flesh – they’re calling them Walkers”. Because the whole undead cannibalism thing isn’t as remarkable as their gait, apparently.

It's called the zombie apocalypse, not the walker apocalypse

Obviously I don’t actually believe this is the case. Clearly, the real cause of this widespread disregard for the humble zombie in popular media has nothing to do with the lore of the individual IP or a tacit unwillingness on the part of its characters to use such a common term for these voodoo-inspired parables for profligacy and the fragility of human morality. Rather, the problem originates with the developers, screenwriters, and authors of these worlds who seem to feel the word zombie is a bit too passé and childish in 2018.

It’s like they’re concerned that, if they stuck to the universally recognized terminology when referring to their own variations on the traditional zombie, only people under the age of fourteen would be able to take the unremittingly bleak stories surrounding them – in which we inevitably discover human beings are the real threat, not the flesh-eating monsters – seriously. And that makes no sense to me whatsoever.

Is it really edgier or ‘cooler’ to refer to them as ‘Freakers’ or ‘The Infected’? And anyway, I don’t know about you, but the idea that living, breathing characters can walk through a horde of zombies undetected so long as they take the straightforward if gruesome expedient of covering themselves in semi-decomposed human viscera has a far more detrimental effect on the overall quality of The Walking Dead than the word zombie ever could.

Ignoring the real issue

This obsession with nomenclature is more than a little frustrating to someone like myself who has a soft spot for zombies, despite the saturated market and steadily declining standards of AMC’s The Walking Dead. Especially when, as I touched on a couple of sentences ago, the real issue plaguing new and existing IPs in the zombie sub-genre is the formulaic scenarios, cookie-cutter characters, and derivative storylines.

Barely an episode of The Walking Dead goes by these days without someone bitterly intoning words to the effect of “that’s who we are now” or “people have always been evil”: fleeting moments of existential introspection and social commentary that were genuinely thought-provoking… the first time we heard them; encouraging audiences to consider how they’d cope if such a terrible situation were to occur in real life. But, I think it’s safe to say, this kind of philisophical subtext loses some of its impetus the 28,376th time around.

Even Telltale’s superb collection of graphic adventures, that are themselves based on Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore’s original Walking Dead comic books, whilst consistently brilliant in terms of characters, art style, atmosphere, pacing, etc. have essentially told the same story multiple times by this point. Whether we view the apocalypse from the point of view of soft-spoken ex-convict Lee or are put in the diminutive shoes of unlikely heroine Clementine, each new season, broadly speaking, follows the same group of average citizens-now grizzled survivors as they fight to preserve their humanity and find safety in an inhumane environment; surrounded on all sides by a combination of mindless zombies and antithetical communities of fellow survivors who’ve sacrificed their humanity in order to make their lives easier and feel the end of the world permits them to indulge their crueler instincts.

A clicker as featured in the Last of Us - it's basically a fungal zombie

For this very reason, when Fear the Walking Dead was first announced, I was really hoping AMC would take this golden opportunity of a fresh start to try a slightly different approach to the zombie-infested post apocalypse: specifically, treating each new series as a separate entity so as to tell a range of different stories, set at different periods of the outbreak, from the perspective of different characters from across the globe. But it wasn’t to be and, though it’s a decent enough show in its own right, the story of Maddison, Alicia, Nick and co. offers nothing new or exciting to the already overpopulated genre.

By contrast, what makes The Last of Us so special is that the story focuses on the relationship between Joel and Ellie and their place in a bleak new world. One in which the moral boundaries that separate Naughty Dog’s wonderful cast of characters are only vaguely defined and survivors aren’t neatly divided between those who are mostly good and those who are mostly bad; concepts perfectly embodied in the game’s final scene. The fact these characters inhabit a world filled with zombies is almost incidental which, consequently, makes it easy for The Last of Us to provide the kind of complex human drama The Walking Dead set out to all those years ago.

So, the next time a game dev or screenwriter is plumbing the depths of their imagination in search of a catchy, unique term to describe a reanimated corpse, hopefully they’ll cross out anything that sounds even remotely like it might have been conceived by a 13-year-old author of Waking Dead fan-fiction and instead come to the long-overdue realization that the word zombie is just fine; dedicating the time and energy this will save into creating original plot lines and three-dimensional characters.

I, for one, would be extremely happy.

Counting Final Fantasy VII, The Last of Us, the original Mass Effect trilogy, and The Witcher 3 amongst his favourite games, John enjoys anything that promises to take up an absurdly large amount of his free time. When he’s not gaming, chances are you’ll find him engrossed in a science fiction or fantasy novel; basically, John’s happiest when his attention is as far from the real world as possible.


Watch the Trailer for ‘The Mandalorian’ the First Live-Action ‘Star Wars’ Series




Thanks to the arrival of the D23 Expo, Disney has revealed the first trailer for its long-awaited Star Wars original series, The Mandalorian.

Created by Jon Favreau (Iron Man), the series is set after the events of Return of the Jedi and follows Pedro Pascal as a mysterious, gun-slinging Mandalorian bounty hunter who navigates the seedier side of the Star Wars universe.

Along with Pedro Pascal, The Mandalorian stars Gina Carano, Nick Nolte, Giancarlo Esposito, Emily Swallow, Carl Weathers, Omid Abtahi, Werner Herzog, and Taika Waititi. The first season of episodes will be directed by filmmakers like Dave Filoni, Taika Waititi, Bryce Dallas Howard, Rick Famuyiwa, and Deborah Chow.

the mandalorian trailer

Here’s the official description of The Mandalorian:

After the stories of Jango and Boba Fett, another warrior emerges in the Star Wars universe. The Mandalorian is set after the fall of the Empire and before the emergence of the First Order. We follow the travails of a lone gunfighter in the outer reaches of the galaxy far from the authority of the New Republic.

The Mandalorian begins streaming on Disney+ on November 12, 2019.

Check out The Mandalorian trailer below.

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Jordan Peele’s ‘Us’ Soundtrack Gets a Vinyl Release




While we don’t publish music news or music reviews here at Goomba Stomp, we are huge fans of vinyl and since we cover film, we figured this announcement would interest some of our readers.

Back in 2017, Jordan Peele’s Get Out topped our list of the best films of 2017 and while the year isn’t yet over, there’s a good chance his follow-up Us, will land somewhere on our best of the year list as well. There are many reasons why we love Peele’s ambitious sophomore film including for the suspense, cinematography, performances, and direction, but one thing that doesn’t get enough praise is the soundtrack by Michael Abels. And if you like us, love the original score, you’re going to love this bit of news.

After giving his Get Out soundtrack a vinyl release last year, Jordan Peele is now doing the same for the soundtrack to Us.

WaxWork Records announced the news earlier today and if you’re planning on buying a copy, you don’t have to wait since it is now available to purchase through the label’s website.

The soundtrack, which received a digital release earlier this year, features composer Michael Abels’ score, in addition to songs from Janelle Monáe, Minnie Ripperton and the “Tethered Mix” of Luniz’s “I Got 5 on It” that appeared in the film’s first trailer. The album artwork was created by illustrator Edward Kinsella and features an interactive die-cut mirror board back cover, a heavyweight art print and an exclusive essay from UCLA Professor, scholar, and activist Shana L. Redmond Ph.D.

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Trailer for the Twisted Dark Comedy thriller ‘Villains’




Alter has released the first poster and the official trailer for Villains, the upcoming dark comedy thriller which stars Bill Skarsgård (IT) and Maika Monroe (It Follows) as a couple who rob a gas station and scores enough cash to start a new life in Florida. Unfortunately for them, their getaway plans turn upside down and the young couple end up stumbling on much more than they bargained for.

Villains hits theaters on September 20th and was written and directed by Dan Berk and Robert Olsen. In addition to Skarsgard and Monroe, the movie also stars Jeffrey Donovan and Kyra Sedgwick. It’s co-produced by Bron Studios, Star Thrower Entertainment, Creative Wealth Media Finance, and The Realm Films. You can watch the trailer for Villains below.

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Beanie Babies: The Collectables with Heart

Toys We Love Spotlight



For our Toys We Love Spotlight, I’m looking at one of my personal favourites: Beanie Babies. I had collected so many of these growing up, and households worldwide in the 90s and early 2000s were sure to have at least one Beanie Baby in their possession (was it even the 90s if they didn’t?). These plushie companions were cute, cuddly, and collectable, so it’s not a surprise that the Beanie Babies craze swept the globe, forcing parents and toy collectors everywhere to dig into their wallets.

Beanie Babies had a few aspects to them that made them stand out from your average plushie. Firstly, they did not have as much stuffing as most soft toys. Whilst some thought that this made them look cheap, it also made them light, posable, and gave them a realistic feel and look. The bear Beanie Babies were particularly good to pose, and this set them apart from run-of-the-mill teddy bears. Another element that made Beanie Babies more unique was their special tag. Each toy had a tag attached which had the toy’s name, date of birth, and a quotation etched inside. The former was something that could have been a risky choice, as although it wasn’t completely taking away the child’s choice of name — there was nothing stopping them from just calling their Beanie whatever they wanted — a pre-selected name can be difficult to sell, as kids can often take great pride and pleasure in naming their toys.

It was a great success, however, and worked as a nice finishing touch for the Beanie Babies, adding a dash of personality and flair (something much needed in the often critically over-saturated soft toy market), as well as making each Beanie Baby feel like their own creature with their own little stories. Adding to that was the wide variety of animals that were available, such as Tiny the Chihuahua, Pegasus the Unicorn or Swampy the Alligator. This means that the desires of each individual child or enthusiastic collector could be catered to (I myself favoured the dogs and bears).

The puppies were my Beanie Baby of choice. They were all such good boys and girls.

The Beanie Babies also had their own way of tackling difficult issues in society, showing them to kids through the guise of a soft toy. I’ll give you an example through my own experience: I had a Beanie Baby that (as odd as it may sound) gave me more of an understanding of the horrors of September 11th. Weird, right? Allow me to explain. I was only just nine years old on that now-historical day when the twin towers in New York were attacked and so many innocent people lost their lives. I had come home from school (it was afternoon time here in the UK when it happened), and I remember my mum watching it on television in complete shock. She had watched the whole thing whilst I’d been at school.

I didn’t really understand what was happening to be honest. Even when I was watching the repeats of the plane crashing into the side of the tower, I was somewhat oblivious the gravity of the situation (though as a nine year old child, I suppose I could be forgiven for that). The news continued to report the tragedy for a long time, and my school held assemblies to discuss the matter. I knew people had died, and that made me very sad, but I remember thinking that people died all the time, so why was this one incident reported on so much? About a month or so after, TY released three Beanie Babies as a tribute to those lost during 9/11. One of these was a Dalmatian Beanie Baby called Rescue, and I wanted him the moment I saw him, not really knowing the true nature of his purpose. My mum obliged happily, knowing what he represented. I remember taking my little Dalmatian with the red collar and American flag on his leg home and reading his tag. It read:

To honor our heroes
who lost their lives in the
national catastrophe that
took place on September 11, 2001.
We mourn for them and express our
deepest sympathy to their families.
God Bless America

Rescue the Dalmatian was joined by America the Bear and Courage the German Shepherd. The Beanies were a set of three released to honor those who perished in the tragedy of 9/11.

I found Rescue in my room recently, and the memories flooded back to me upon reading it again. I remember looking into all the acts of heroism and bravery after reading Rescue’s tag, and that’s when the situation really hit home to me. I looked into the stories of firefighters and first responders and those who had died, as well as all the search-and-rescue dogs attempting to save people among the chaos. As a child, it can be hard to see past your immediate opinion and truly consider the sheer weight of a situation, but with Rescue’s help, I was able to see just how this event was indeed very different to anything I had ever seen before, and how serious it was. It was the first time I felt like I was thinking like a grown up. I looked at the world differently from then on — obviously as I got older, but also from my ability to think harder and search deeper. Honestly, I don’t know if I would have even bothered if it wasn’t for Rescue reminding me of exactly how much was lost on that day.

Rescue, perhaps the goodest and bravest boy of them all.

Beanie babies will forever be ingrained in culture. They are still bought, sold and collected even now and will remain a timeless staple of most of our childhoods. They certainly are for me. Especially you Rescue, the bravest firefighting Dalmatian the world has ever known.

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‘Shenmue III’ Gamescom Trailer Details a Day in the Life of Ryo



The original Shenmue games pioneered the open world genre, in part through their inclusion of many different minigames and side activities. The Kickstarter-funded Shenmue III looks to continue that legacy, as developer Ys Net and publisher Deep Silver have debuted a new trailer at Gamescom 2019 entitled “A Day in Shenmue.”

The developers provided the following description of the trailer via their latest Kickstarter update: “Exploring the town, playing minigames and battling! We hope it feels just how a Shenmue day should!” Sure enough, the footage showcases the series protagonist Ryo participating in a number of minigames, such as a boxing game and a pachinko machine. The end of the trailer also includes a good look at the series’ signature kung fu combat.

Beyond the new trailer, the Kickstarter update also noted that Yu Suzuki, the famed creator of Shenmue, will be present at Gamescom for autograph signings.

After numerous delays, Shenmue III will finally launch on November 19, 2019 for PS4 and PC via the Epic Games Store.

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