Tag Archives: Zombies

Zombies, Skulls and Skeletons parade through Melbourne for the Annual Zombie Shuffle.

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About a week ago, I attended the annual Zombie Shuffle in Melbourne, where thousands of individuals paraded through the streets dressed as flesh-eating zombies, skeletons and other pop culture characters. Many enthusiasts commenced their journey at the Treasury Gardens in Fitzroy and the various costume designs were extremely impressive to say the least!

The level of creativity and imagination was definitely inspiring and I began to frantically take photographs of undead, Disney princesses, skeletons, bridesmaids, nurses, surgeons, cheerleaders, policemen, convicts, school girls and many others. In fact there were so many different zombies, I didn’t know where to look next! It was great to see different age groups attending the event; children were dressed as Zombies along with their parents, while others brought their dogs along for a leisurely walk through Melbourne.

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During the event, I noticed several attendees mixed amongst the gore and the simulated blood with skulls painted onto their faces. I began to ask myself whether the skull is still a popular icon within the contemporary visual culture or everyday life in general?

From a personal point of view, the Zombie Shuffle allows the public to explore the concept of death within a satirical or entertaining manner. The event encourages the community to display their own creativity or imagination and it is interesting to examine the way death is represented.

There was one character in particular who was dressed in an old-fashioned outfit along with the black and white skull makeup. I raced over to take a closer look and I couldn’t stop taking photographs, this costume was definitely my favourite one! While I tried to search for a place to rest, I discovered a young woman with the most extraordinary skull makeup, the overall detail was admirable and the suit complimented the intricate design. I couldn’t leave without taking at least one photograph!

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As I continued to walk through the Treasury Gardens, I recognised a green sugar skull zombie; the colours were amazing and the vibrant designs were certainly intriguing. The make up merged elements of Western popular culture with the Mexican sugar skull designs; these two particular styles provided quite a unique interpretation.

I must admit everyone who attended the Zombie Shuffle looked spectacular and the crowd was throughly entertaining! Towards the afternoon, an amazing ‘percussion group’ known as Maracatu Estrela do Mar paraded through the Treasury Gardens onto Collins street along and the members of the band were wearing black and yellow sugar skull makeup.

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Enthusiastic photographs frantically joined the crowd of zombies that were leisurely following the band down the street and I suddenly began to develop the art of weaving in and out of large, overcrowded groups who began to walk or run besides members of the Zombie Shuffle.

The band in particular was definitely a highlight; I admired the vibrant, sugar skull face paint and the positive atmosphere from the crowd. Maracatu Estrela do Mar reminded me of the Dia De Los Muertos: The Day of the Dead Festival in Mexico and the band provided  a unique twist to the overall event.

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As the crowd reached Federation Square, the Zombie Shuffle collided with a Women’s rights protest and I suddenly found myself in-between a completely different group all together. I would have loved to have stayed to the very end, however I lost my sense of direction and I decided to search for the nearest train station.

Anyway, the Zombie Shuffle was an exciting, exhilarating experience that featured amazing, yet gory Zombies, a fantastic band and a spectacular audience! I would definitely recommend attending the Zombie Shuffle next year for sure!

zombiewatermark31 Check out the Black Calavera Facebook page to view photographs from the event.

https://www.facebook.com/BlackCalavera22

https://www.facebook.com/maracatuestreladomar?fref=nf

https://www.facebook.com/melbournezombieshuffle

ABC, ‘Undead roam Melbourne Streets in Annual Zombie Shuffle,” October 11 2014, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2014-10-11/zombie-apocalypse-arrives-in-melbourne/5806796


Lollipop Chainsaw: Part II

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Suda 51’s Lollipop Chainsaw

Skulls, Zombies and Multicoloured Love Hearts Work Hand in Hand

In the previous post, I mentioned the outlandish visual aesthetics, the style and the absurd narrative in Lollipop Chainsaw, however I have discovered additional elements that do compliment the overall gaming experience including the soundtrack, the pop culture references as well as the constant use of skulls.

Soundtrack

The musical compositions do provide a very unique aspect to the game and the player is able to customise the overall soundtrack. To be honest, I didn’t even know this was possible until I watched a review on Youtube from Angry Joe; this is a useful feature that allows the player to adjust the order or the sequence of the music. According to IGN, the musical compositions were conducted by Akira Yamoaka, an influential video game producer who is renowned for the ‘sound direction’ in Silent Hill.

Lollipop Chainsaw features a mixture of rock and roll as well as 80’s pop music including Hey Mickey by Toni Basil and Lollipop by the Chordettes. The music provides a humorous element to the overall game and how could I forgot to mention Juliet’s sparkle hunting? This unusual power allows the character to kill multiple zombies in one hit along with Hey Mickey playing in the background.

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Juliet’s Sparkle Hunting

When Juliet’s Sparkle hunting is activated, the player is bombarded with multicoloured sparkles, love hearts and rainbows; both the visual and the audio effects compliment the character’s outgoing personality. The soundtrack is catchy and I couldn’t stop signing the lines to Hey Mickey for a couple of weeks, while I’m not a huge fan of rock and roll, I thoroughly enjoyed the 80’s pop music.

The enemies appear to be inspired by musical genres including punk, goth, heavy metal, electronica, 80’s pop as well as rock and roll. It’s hard to forget the very last boss, a gigantic Elvis Presley look-alike with pink laser eyes who attempts to kill Juliet with an army of explosive zombies or abandoned vehicles. All these different genres / influences are blended together in order to create a unique, dynamic and interactive experience for the player.

The Depiction of the Skull

The skull frequently appears throughout Lollipop Chainsaw in all different shapes and sizes; they’re incorporated into the enemies clothing or instruments, they’re displayed within the background, they’re displayed on the very top of Juliet’s Lollipops, there are skulls everywhere!

The game heavily refers to contemporary music, design and popular culture; the skull in particular does have a strong connection to these genres or styles and it would be absolutely absurd to disregard such a prolific symbol. It’s interesting to see the combination of skulls, zombies and multicoloured love hearts, these particular styles are merged into one in order to deliver something random, surreal and artistic.

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The five dark purveyors / bosses 

I began to wonder whether video games change our perceptions of the skull? From a personal opinion, I view the skull as a visual style or a popular symbol that adds substance and context to a video game. The connection between the skull and immortality is something I wouldn’t even consider while I’m playing a game on the Playstation. As a matter of fact, this is a really interesting question that I will revise in the next few weeks.

I have discovered another interesting fact about Suda 51 and his previous occupations that did surprise me. In an interview with Matt Casamassina, Suda explains that he previously worked as an undertaker before he pursued a career within the video game industry and I have often wondered whether these experiences inspired Suda’s recent creations including Lollipop Chainsaw and Shadows of the Damned.

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Juliet with Skull Logo

Pop Culture References

Well there are plenty of influences or references in Lollipop Chainsaw that I am yet to mention, where do I even begin? In the third level the game appropriates some classic arcade games including Pac man and space invaders, this was one of my favourite aspects of the game!

When I played Lollipop Chainsaw for the first time, the game reminded me of Sailor Moon and Dawn of the Dead, quite an unusual combination right? Well this is the most interesting part, the school is named San Romero High and the director for Dawn of the Dead is named George Romero, I didn’t even notice this particular element until the very end of the game. I wondered whether the name was intentional and Game Font mentions that the George Romero has inspired Lollipop Chainsaw.

Throughout the game, the high school students mention Bruce Campbell’s name, the main protagonist from Evil Dead who replaces his infected hand with a chainsaw; there appears to be parallel between Ash and Juliet Starling from Lollipop Chainsaw. According to Esperino, the player is able to unlock a costume that is influenced by Ash from Evil Dead, however this is a ‘exclusive bonus’ from EB games in Australia. Here is another interesting fact, I bought a pre-owned copy of Lollipop Chainsaw from EB games, I’m tempted to play the game again to see if I am able to unlock the costume.

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Ash Costume in Lollipop Chainsaw

These are the most recognisable pop culture references, however there are plenty of others that I properly haven’t mentioned or discussed. Angry Joe for instance compares Lollipop Chainsaw to Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Scott Pilgrim, to be honest I would need to write a list with all of the references / influences within the game. It’s hard to recognise the references all at once, you properly need to play the entire game in order to notice all of them.

These particular elements successfully engages the viewer and the references invites the player to pay attention to every minor detail. It’s quite impressive to see how these ideas are applied or executed within Lollipop Chainsaw; the overall concept is clever, imaginative and seriously addictive! While the gameplay is often slow and unresponsive, Lollipop Chainsaw successfully invites the viewer into a gory, multicoloured universe filled with stylised visual effects, catchy tunes and an absurd narrative.

If you are interested in popular culture and you enjoy a decent soundtrack, I would recommend Lollipop Chainsaw for sure! Check out the first review for Lollipop Chainsaw for additional information or you can browse through the Black Calavera Facebook Page.

https://skullsproject.wordpress.com/2014/09/05/lollipop-chainsaw-part-i-violent-outrageous-and-hysterical/

https://www.facebook.com/BlackCalavera22

References

IGN Entertainment Inc, “Lollipop Chainsaw: Official Soundtrack,” http://au.ign.com/wikis/lollipop-chainsaw/Official_Soundtrack

Angry Joe Show, “Lollipop Chainsaw Angry Review,” Youtube, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-e6XQMCeXqY

Matt Casamassina, “Interview: Suda 51 on No More Heroes,” IGN Entertainment Inc 2014, http://au.ign.com/articles/2007/02/17/interview-suda-51-on-no-more-heroes

Hang Veng Ly, “Lollipop Chainsaw EB Games Preorder Bonus Costume, DLC and Keychain,” Esperino, 2014, http://www.esperino.com/lollipop-chainsaw-eb-games-preorder-bonus-costume-dlc-keychain

“Lollipop Chainsaw,” 2012, Playstation 3, Warner Brothers, Interactive Entertainment & Kadokawa.

http://lollipopchainsaw.com/

Image References 

http://psnprofiles.com/forums/topic/5696-what-to-play-when-youre-depressed/page-2

http://lokjip.blogspot.com.au/2012/06/lollipop-chainsaw.html

http://lollipopchainsaw.wikia.com/wiki/The_Dark_Purveyors

http://www.gamefreaks.co.nz/2012/04/20/lollipop-chainsaw-meet-starling-sisters/

http://www.destructoid.com/products_detail.phtml?p=Lollipop+Chainsaw&c=news


Lollipop Chainsaw Part I: Violent, Outrageous and Hysterical!

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Lollipop Chainsaw produced by Suda 51, developed by Grasshopper Manufacture and published by Warner Brothers Studios

In the previous post, I discussed my infatuation with Shadows of the Damned, an artistic and eclectic video game produced by Suda 51. Last year, a friend introduced me to another game from Suda 51 also known as Lollipop Chainsaw that features comedy, satire and violence all blended into one. When I played Lollipop Chainsaw for the very first time, I wasn’t entirely sure what on earth was going on so I decided to purchase the game outright and I was instantly attracted to the outlandish storyline, the over saturated colours and the stylised visual effects.

According to IGN, Warner Brothers Studios, Interactive Entertainment and Kadokawa Games published Lollipop Chainsaw in 2012 in conjunction with Grasshopper Manufacture who developed the overall game. Evan Narcisse explains that Suda 51 collaborated with James Gunn, an American ‘Hollywood director’ who created the script for Lollipop Chainsaw. This is quite interesting, as the game appears similar to Japanese Anime, especially the main character who hunts zombies in a range of revealing outfits.

The game begins with a high school cheerleader named Juliet who must attack an army of malicious zombies and demons in order to defeat a vindictive, conniving Goth named Swan. The character brutally kills her opponents with a chainsaw along with a range of cheerleading combinations; the dance moves are used to stun the zombies and the game allows the player to upgrade the existing combinations. 

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Juliet Starling and her boyfriend Nick

Juliet is accompanied by her beloved boyfriend named Nick whose head is decapitated at the very beginning of the game when he is bitten by a zombie. Nick discovers Juliet’s hidden secrets including her ability to conduct ‘magic rituals’ on his decapitated head; this is meant to save Nick from turning into a brainless zombie. Juliet attaches her boyfriend’s ‘severed head’ onto the side of her belt and together they travel through a dark, psychedelic universe filled with sparkles, blood and delicious lollipops.

These multicoloured lollipops provide Juliet with additional health and energy that become vitally important within the last two levels. I actually realised that there are skulls throughout the game, the lollipop wrappers feature a skull at the very top and logo on the main screen features a skull with blonde hair and two pink lollipops for crossbones.

The third level also contains a boss known as Josey who flies a spaceship wearing a diaper, a pink fury jacket and a top hat filled with miniature skulls. His facial features similarities to a human skull or the Mexican Day of the Dead, I have noticed that Suda’s games refer to certain elements that explore sex, death and immortality. The skull in particular appears to be a popular symbol within Lollipop Chainsaw, as well as other games produced by Suda 51 including Shadows of the Damned.

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Josey – The Boss in the Third Level 

Throughout Lollipop Chainsaw, the narrative becomes very random and spontaneous, however this is the most entertaining aspect of the game. One minute, you’re playing zombie baseball and the next you’re character is hallucinating on magic mushrooms and you’re fighting a robotic, three headed chicken, you never really know what is about to happen next.

While the visual aesthetics are creative and highly decadent, the actual game play or the controls can be rather slow at times. This particular flaw becomes rather frustrating, as Juliet often takes a while to respond when she is knocked to the ground by another demon or zombie.

Lollipop Chainsaw also features a series of mini games including zombie basketball and zombie baseball, while the concept is imaginative, the auto focus is quite difficult to control. Trying to play this particular mini game was extremely exasperating as Juliet’s ‘chainsaw blaster’ will only focus on the closest zombie. Patience and persistence is the only way to really progress to the next level, however this is only a small section of the game. 

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Juliet at San Romero Highschool – Gameplay 

On the other hand, I don’t really understand how the zombie baseball relates to the actual narrative or the overall concept; at times I thought the mini games were unnecessary. While the baseball was incredibly annoying, this particular section didn’t ruin my overall experience of the game, as I thoroughly enjoy watching the eccentric storyline and the random interactions between the characters.

Juliet’s suggestive poses and over sexualised clothing is rather creepy at times, especially when the player is able to view up her own skirt. The demons / zombies also insult Juliet with sexist or defamatory comments, however these elements are often balanced with a strong level of humour, irony and satire. It’s almost impossible to take this game seriously, there’s Juliet Starling who has a decapitated head as a boyfriend along with a bright pink chainsaw covered in love hearts.

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Juliet Starling – Cheerleading Combinations 

Achieving a high score is another objective that allows the player to unlock a range of provocative outfits including a seashell bikini, a pink jumpsuit or a sex maid’s costume etc. There are plenty to choose from, however I was purely interested in the actual storyline, as well as the quirky dialogue between Nick and Juliet.

Lollipop Chainsaw only lasted for about six hours, although I often try to imagine what else the producers / developers could possibly squeeze into this dynamic, action packed zombie slasher game. The actual duration worked perfectly with the narrative as well as the vibrant, multicoloured landscape, anything more than six hours would become highly repetitive.

I’m quite new to video games at the moment; playing Dark Souls or the Last of Us is way out of the question right now. While Lollipop Chainsaw is rather complex at times, the game itself isn’t overly difficult to complete. If you are a beginner and you’re looking for something that is creative, visually entertaining and violent, then I would recommend Lollipop Chainsaw!

I could write about Lollipop Chainsaw for hours, there are so many different elements to explore including the audio effects, the soundtrack as well as the ‘pop culture references.’ Stay tuned for the second review for Lollipop Chainsaw!

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Juliet’s other costumes / outfits

P.S If you are interested in this particular game, I would recommend viewing Angry Joe’s review on YouTube.

References

IGN Entertainment Inc, “Lollipop Chainsaw Review,” June 13 2012, http://au.ign.com/games/lollipop-chainsaw/ps3-113691

Evan Narcisse, “Hollywood Director James Gunn chokes up because of Lollipop Chainsaw’s Zombie Killing Cheerleader,” March 27 2012, Kotaku, http://kotaku.com/5896820/hollywood-director-james-gunn-chokes-up-because-of-lollipop-chainsaws-zombie-killing-cheerleader

Angry Joe Show, “Lollipop Chainsaw Angry Review,” Youtube, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-e6XQMCeXqY

Matt Kamen, “Lollipop Chainsaw – Review,” The Guardian, http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2012/jun/24/lollipop-chainsaw-suda51-xbox-ps3

“Lollipop Chainsaw,” 2012, Playstation 3, Warner Brothers, Interactive Entertainment & Kadokawa. 

http://lollipopchainsaw.com/

Image References

http://www.deviantart.com/art/Lollipop-Chainsaw-Wallpaper-Edit-284898486

http://www.wallshq.com/wp-content/uploads/original/2013_02/lollipop_chainsaw_zombie_game-HD.jpg

http://www.gameskinny.com/nuzkb/juliets-approach-to-dealing-with-male-stupidity-among-gamers

http://www.g4tv.com/games/xbox-360/65682/lollipop-chainsaw/articles/77007/lollipop-chainsaw-gameplay-preview-hippie-zombies-offer-hilarious-times/

http://www.leftgamerreview.org/2012/08/10/review-lollipop-chainsaw/

http://theclassicgamer.com/lollipop-chainsaw-review/


Armageddon Expo at the Melbourne Show Grounds!

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Photographs by Charlotte Pridding, works produced by anonymous artist / designer at Armageddon Comic Con

Last weekend, I attended the Armageddon Comic Con in Melbourne for the very first time! There were many enthusiastic visitors dressed as super heroes, anime characters and even zombies, I must admit the costumes were incredible!

I remember walking past someone dressed as Batman, the experience was quite surreal as the costume appeared extremely similar to the one that was used in the movie. You can obviously tell that there were quite a lot of people at the comic con that have devoted a lot of time and money into they’re costumes, although this is adds to the overall experience.

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Gruesome Masks at Armageddon Comic Con, 2013

So there was a massive building in the middle of the Melbourne show grounds that was full of comic books, dvd’s, costumes, outfits and other novelty items. There were so many different booths and I wasn’t too sure where to start, there were various comic book artists that were also exhibiting some of their work, which was really interesting.

While I was wondering around all the different booths, I have noticed that the skull was printed onto almost everything! There were synthetic skeletons, skull printed t-shirts, bracelets, wallets, bags and broaches, there were skulls left, right and centre!

There was one booth in particular that immediately captured my attention, in fact I started to take loads of photographs, I just couldn’t help myself. This booth displayed a range of grotesque masks and three-dimensional skulls that would be perfect if you were producing a horror film.

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Skulls and Castrated Head

These skulls were rather sinister and there was synthetic blood dripping down the sides, that also provided quite a macabre appearance. At the very front of the booth, there was one skull in particular that was displayed right next to a disembodied head that is synthetic by the way! The display was rather interesting, although it was disturbing at the same time, it’s not every day you see a reproduction of a castrated head or a zombie clown mask!

The castrated head was quite realistic especially the blood and the gash wounds, the level of realism was rather unsettling. Both the severed head and the skull do remind me of the Momento Mori, they both resonate notions of death and destruction, although I am more disturbed of the photograph I have taken to be honest!

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Creepy Zombie Clown Mask

I didn’t quite catch the artist’s name, although the level of detail and craftsmanship was just incredible! there were two life sized zombies right opposite the booth that appeared quite gruesome and realistic. The Armageddon Comic Con really does demonstrate that the skull is a very influential icon in contemporary design and popular culture, almost every single booth sold skull merchandise.

There were visitors that even painted their faces in order to replicate the Mexican sugar skulls and there were a range of artists / designers that have frequently used the skull in their own body of work. The gruesome masks and the synthetic skulls were definitely my favourite, their sinister and grotesque nature were substantially different compared to everything else that was for sale.

If you are looking for some extra information, there are a few links attached below. If you are interested in the next Armageddon Comic Con, there will be another one in 2014!

http://armageddonexpo.com/au/

https://www.facebook.com/BlackCalavera22


Warm Bodies Directed by Jonathan Levine

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Ok so I haven’t been to the cinemas in a very long time and last night I decided to watch Warm Bodies, a romantic comedy that tells the story of a flesh eating zombie named R (Nicholas Hault) who falls in love with a young woman known as Julie (Teresa Palmer) While I am a huge fan of zombie films, I have never heard of a zombie love film; as soon as a I viewed the trailer for Warm Bodies on Youtube I was completely fascinated with the storyline.

I’ve watched love films featuring vampires, werewolves, witches and even fairies, never have I watched a love film with zombies. So many of you are properly wondering whether Warm Bodies is similar to Twilight and this is a comment that I have heard several times over the past couple of weeks. The storyline including the visual and the audio effects is rather entertaining, in fact I was impressed with the sound track throughout the entire film!

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Warm Bodies is rather corny in some parts, although the film does offer a humorous and entertaining twist! What I do find particularly fascinating is R’s ability to reconnect and empathise with a human survivor; Julie finds herself trapped within an abandoned aircraft, where she begins to realise that her fellow companion is more than just a lifeless corpse.

Then there are the bonies, so what are the bonies? They are these grotesque, skeletal figures that are determined to suck the life out of the living and the dead. It is the sharp definition of their long, thin skulls that differentiates the bonies from the zombies. Within the film, a zombie can potentially disintegrate into a bonie, where the corpse enters the realm of the undead. It is this idea that fascinates me the most, the fact that there are multiple stages of death and Warm Bodies reflects R’s determination to become human once again.

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While I do not normally go out of my way to watch a love film, I throughly enjoyed Warm Bodies. In fact, it was great to watch something different besides your stereotypical, B-Grade zombie film. Don’t get me wrong, I will never fall out of love with Dawn of the Dead or 28 Days Later, although it is quite refreshing to watch something different from time to time.

I am quite surprised I have actually watched a love film, as I usually go out of my way to avoid them. This must be a good sign, finally someone has made a love film that is enjoyable and easy to watch, this is an incredible achievement. Ok so if you are expecting an intense zombie film, where everyone and everything is completely obliterated by rifles and machine guns, I properly wouldn’t recommend watching Warm Bodies. However, if you do enjoy watching the occasional zombie film and you do not mind some of the corny parts, then I would advise clicking on the URL links below for further information.

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Did you know, Warm Bodies is based on a novel by Isaac Marion? I didn’t even know this until I typed the name of the film into Google, it would be interesting to see how the book compares to the film, I suppose I’ll just have to find out. Jonathan Levine has successfully directed a humorous and entertaining film featuring Nicholas Hault who plays a superb, even marvellous role as R, a zombie that is able to express a range of human emotions such as love, happiness and despair.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1588173/

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/warm_bodies/

http://warmbodiesmovie.com/

URL Links

http://www.impawards.com/2013/warm_bodies_ver6_xlg.html

http://collider.com/warm-bodies-review/

http://turntherightcorner.com/2012/11/13/first-warm-bodies-trailer/warm-bodies-skeletons-bonies/

http://theblemish.com/2013/02/warm-bodies-review/