Guilty Pleasures

Not specifically on undead, but relative to the romance side of paranormal/zom romance!

I’ve read a few comments and reviews on this doco and it’s been mostly negative. That the direction of the documentary shows those into romance books to be pathetic, sad sacks of loneliness or desperate for romantic attention, and ignores the range of romance readers. There’s one at Dear Author, and one at Smart Bitches, Trashy Books.

It’s available online at (maybe only for Australian viewers? If you are international, it might not work for you)

Despite or maybe because of the negative images around it, I decided to watch it. I’m still new to admitting I read romance (mostly historical outside paranormals and zombies), but a lot of my friends are romance – particularly paranormal – readers and I do wonder about the difference between the stereotyped Mills and Boon readers and the real readers I know. What is it about the books we like?

So I’ve jotted down some quotes and comments onthings that happened in the doco.

Note: Words not exact because the video was being evil for me and I couldn’t go back to get the words right :S


Women make male or neutral pseudonym for sci fi (and other genres) – men make female pseudonyms for romance books

“It’s okay for her [my wife] to read these novels to compensate what I can’t give her” – a reader’s husband

Men must be alphas, have to look imposing, got to present a good physical appearance, got to be fit, never fat. The kind of man every woman would fancy – Romance writer

Mills and Boon readers are usually past the bloom of youth, intelligent, and have steamy determination – Romance writer

Sometimes are accused by ardent feminists of being anti-feminist, of  promising women things that they will never have, which I think is ludicrous. Readers know they are reading a work of fiction, they don’t expect it in real life. – Romance writer

A reader takes up ballroom dancing inspired by the novels she reads. She admits to dressing up specially for her private tutor, but not so for her husband.

‘It gets hotter and hotter’, ‘Why can’t we expect that in real life?’ – a reader and her friend

‘There was a lot missing in my life and that’s why I enjoyed reading the books. I think it’s escapism. You just indulge yourself in them and think ‘wow, I wish that was me’ – A reader

Romance reader who likes ballroom also watches competitions and seems to admire other men who are tall and Harlequin-heroesque, pointing out features of men not her husband that she likes.

Writer takes notebook to cafes and restaurants and will note down snippets of discussion or movements. That’s what readers like, little things rather than big things, little words, little looks.

Of course she likes reading. It’s a harmless past time. – Reader’s husband

You used to get a sex scene that faded into dots … but now it’s very different – Writer

The idea that any fool can write a Mills and Boon is a mistake – Writer

The sex scene must always be in the context of a loving relationship. – Writer

This is all fantasy, it’s not the real world. It’s a nicer world and we want to maintain that image – Writer

That’s why you read the books. You want all that romance … At the end of the day, you live in the real world and everyone has their downfalls.  – Reader

A Mills and Boon book is not just happy and straightforward –  they have to work through trials to get to a happy conclusion – Writer

Why do men find it so hard to say ‘I love you’? Maybe because it’s so trite, everyone says I love you. There’s almost an in-built fear of commitment, they don’t really want to say something that will tie them down. – Writer

She’s an extremist [about reading Mills and Boon]. Militant, feminist. – a reader’s separated husband

The dancing reader is not happy. Her husband has joined her in dancing so she can go in competitions, but she envies those couples where the husband/male teaches the female. The husband is nervous, but excited to be working with her.

Women are more interested in relationships and talking about relationships than men. Women like to be told things over and over again. – Writer

We’re all yearning for love … I think a fraction of 1% get to meet their true love. It’s so powerful it’s unstoppable. You have to believe in that.  – Model

In every book I write there is a development in the character. The person at the end of the book is not the same as at the beginning, they’ve both learned something about themselves. – Writer

Mills and Boons create an excitement in my life … but it’s not something I’m setting my heart on, because real life is about different things. It’s about romance in your self, that will save you. Relationships will come and go … but it’s the relationship with yourself and how you develop that – Reader

If you think it is getting a bit stale, you have to throw something in there – Reader’s husband

We celebrate, in every Mills and Boon book, the emotion of love which is in everyone’s lifes – Writer

Real life begins where the Mills and Boon ends – Reader


After thoughts:

So a lot of this was about true life love and relationships and not just the romances. It feels a bit awkward to have watched someone else’s unfulfilled relationship.

I’m not so sure that reading the romances gave the women an unachievable relationship to desire as the film seemed to suggest. They wanted to be respected, to have some fun in the times they spent together and to enjoy each other’s company and work with their passions.

I didn’t think there was enough breadth in the film – there was no happily married/together couple of which one reads romance, there had to be something lacking or different in the relationship. The people were set up to be seen as trying to live in their own fantasy world, but I didn’t feel that’s what was really going on. Also, the restriction of only connecting with Mills and Boon romance – there are soooo many other imprints and publishers and types out there.

And none of them seemed to read or write or model for paranormal romance. Mores the pity, because I think it brings a new dimension in. I particularly love when the female is the special paranormal, and the male is lesser aware of the paranormal because all too often, it’s men as alpha weres/head vamps and women as the humans. Where once a woman had to be a lady to marry a lord – and there’s more than enough stories about lower class women and higher class men – it’s about changing an entire life-state, not just being able to pick nice clothes and not insult a royal guest. Could argue that romance is the same all around, it’s just paranormal types  ramp up the problems that can be had in any normal relationship. Still, I think it’s a missed opportunity to show only one kind.


Pure Rage: The Making of 28 Days Later

Virus and infections

Andy Coghlan – New Scientist Magazine: The threat to us at the moment from infectious diseases is probably as big as it has ever been and getting worse.

Professor Brian Duerden – PHLS: We have to anticipate that there will be a major pandemic.

Andrew MacDonald – Producer: It is the new fear, isn’t it? Even with weapons of mass destruction, what everyone is reallyworried about is anthrax, small pox, those sort of things…

Brendan Gleeson “Frank” : The notion that we can put our faith in institutions and forget about them is what the danger is.

Narrator: In the last year of the 20th century, communicable diseases accounted for an estimated 25% of deaths worldwide … So the idea of a new killer epidemic infecting the country is not far-fetched at all.

Professor John Standford – University College London: Just as the Darwinian principles of Survival of the Fittest and evolution are accepted for mammals, then the same is happening at a much smaller level for bacteria and that whenever they are put under intolerable pressure as they may be by the common use of an antibiotic for example, then they will rapidly find a way around it.

Danny Boyle – Director: It’s a primate based virus, it’s hideously virulent…and it leads to the all permanent, appalling state of aggression.

The film

Cillian Murphy “Jim”: What you get in this film is the remnants of panic.

Christopher Eccleston “Major Henry West”: It opens up big philosophical things that whether it is a very modern disease or whether it was always been with us

Danny Boyle: It’s actually part of us and all it’s doing is bringing out something that we’re all capable of

Gleeson/Frank: We’ve fled this whole notion of Rage, and the modern malaise and the infection of it, and we come into something that’s even more frightening…where it’s every man for himself.

Murray/Jim: What attracted me most to the script was the intelligence on it and the issues it was trying to investigate and the comment it was making on society in general

Narrator: In maintaining a realistic edge to the film, the film makers decided to use a cast of less familiar actors

Naomie Harris “Selina”: She has had to shut down emotionally in order to survive, so she’s quite cold

Danny Boyle: There’s two kind of effects in the film really to try and create both of plausible world, a post-apocalyptic plausible world and also an atmospheric world that has a strange atmosphere about it.

Danny Boyle: It’s a warning for us as well as entertainment

Narrator: And the human race should be on high alert

The Dead Will Walk

The Dead Will Walk (2004) is a documentary on the making of Dawn of the Dead and the perspective of it’s impact from those who made it. This doco is also included in the special edition DVD of Dawn of the Dead, as well as the original, the extended, and the European cuts of the film (check it here).

When there’s no more room in hell, the dead will walk the earth – Peter

George A Romero:

  • Was inspired by old monster classics
  • Tales of Hoffman, based on an opera, is the ‘one’ that made him want to make movies
  • His first short story was called Night of Anubis. He admits it was a total rip off of I am Legend by Richard Matheson, but in adapting and changing it, it became the screenplay for Night of the Living Dead
  • Shot Night of the Living Dead over the course of a year
  • Resisted Hollywood calls to make another movie or make others movies straight afterwards.
  • Took a tour of the Monroeville Mall, one of the first indoor malls, which was owned by friends. Was told could survive nuclear attack in there, Romero thought ‘what about a zombie attack?’.
  • Went to Rome to write screenplay for Dawn, encouraged by Dario Argento.
  • Always writes his vision and then works out how to do it
On the making of the film:
  • George’s instruction to Tom Savini, makeup & cosmetic special effects, was to simply “think of ways to kill people”. And that’s what he did.
  • The zombies had no direction in ‘zombie shuffling’ and could make it up as they went, as long as they were consistent.
  • Part of what they did in filming was to cover as many angles as possible andget as many shots as possible so there were many options during the editing process.
  • Tom Savini admired by the crew and cast as “invaluable and talented”, “couldn’t believe some of the ideas he came up with”. Savini says his time in Vietnam as a combat photographer had a big influence on him when it came to working with gory special effects.
  • Dario Argento tweaked the editing for non-English countries. George’s original edit was quite long for Dario, and thus ended up creating an entirely different version from Romero’s with less gore and comic scenes. Dario contributed to the score as well with the Goblins.
On the meaning of the film:

George: I wanted to try to give it the same thematic core that the original film had and speak about some of my own ideas about society  and … I don’t think it’s an underlying message, it’s like in your face, right up front. The way society has been conditioned to think that as long as you have this stuff, life is wonderful and being falsely attracted and seduced by things that really shouldn’t have value in your life, but do.

Tom: Everybody would love to be holed up in a shopping mall, everything you want is right there. Jewellery, money, it’s a fantasy come true.

The main cast understood what George was on about with his ‘satire of consumerism’, noting that George understood it earlier than most as shopping malls were barely starting in the late 70s. Gaylen Ross, who played Fran, said she was ‘surprised by the intelligence of the script. It’s a reflection of who we are. It’s funny.”

Romero: It’s a comic book, it’s a romp. With this underlying sense of society going to hell, I wanted to have this mash like effect of you can laugh, you can have as much fun as you want, but there’s something else going on here.


The fans:
  • Initially with European distribution they made a lot of money, but when they took it around the US, the distributors would come out of the screenings loving it, but saying ‘wow, that’s really rough, let’s clean it up’. Romero wanted to keep it as strong as possible and didn’t edit it further.
  • They ended up running the film themselves and United Film Distribution went and saw the intense reaction by the audience at one of the showings and did a deal right there.
  • Not having a rating on the film helped contribute to popularity, but advertising and showing was very limited because of it.
  • Audience very excited by gory scenes. Lots of different reactions with clapping during decapitating zombies, or running out vomiting. ‘If we’d done anything at all, we had made a crowd pleaser’ – Romero.
  • Romero so happy with intense fans who fly from all over the world to see him and love the film so much. Fans often say to actors how the film changed their lives. Another fan said: ‘When I die, I want the movie in my casket’. One fan had tattoos covering himself of every character from all of George’s movies.
After Dawn: 
  • Some wanted a sequel right away, but Romero wanted to work on other things first, including working with Stephen King.
  • When Day of the Dead came out, it had smaller distribution and it didn’t do any business, as George admits it ‘may have hurt us’.
  • Helped careers of many of those who worked on the film. George mentored everyone. “Lovely, bright, sweet man that you give 110% for. One of the best people I’ve ever known.” – Donna Siegel, assistant producer.
  • George is very comfortable with his body of work, though Hollywood still considers him a maverick. He’s ‘happy as hell’ to just keep doing what he wants.
  • Land of Dead (called Dead Reckoning at the time) script was all about ignoring the problem, ‘like trying to live with terrorism’ and reflecting what is going on today.