08 Sep Just like a zombie movie
“Just Like A Zombie Movie” is a program created with Tracery that generates monster movie plots, combining the structure of a classic zombie film with the latest dreams and fears of America (according to somewhat reliable sources).
In the article “Zombie Movies Are Never Really About Zombies”, author Kat Eschner argues that zombies are metaphors for cultural fears about everything from race to climate change. Zachary Crockett and Javier Zarracina’s “How the zombie represents America’s deepest fears” shares similar thoughts. And this is probably why zombie movies are so popular (especially in America). As imaginary monsters and a saturated pop culture topic, zombies help people release their fears without having to look their true fears in the eye.
What if we create a zombie movie, not with zombies, but with the real objects of fear?
With this idea in mind, I started with the plot of “Dawn of the Dead (2004)”. I broke its structure down to 8 bite-sized parts, its characters into hero, sidekicks and villains. I also added a few spots for advertisement. Below is how I chose my content:
Villains: I switched the villains from zombies to some of the real fears of America (e.g. corrupted government official), according to Chapman University Survey of American Fears—America’s Top Fears 2017.
Names: I used this list to determine the names of the hero and the sidekicks.
Occupations: All characters jobs are based on a loose search for emerging careers or best careers in America.
Advertisement: If lacking production money, placement of ads can be helpful. This plot summary comes with several spots for ads.
Oprah quotes: Encountering a list of Oprah quotes on the corpora project , I decided to add these to the end of the plot to give it a meaningful ending.
One problem I have with the code is that modifiers like .capitalize and .s don’t work the way I want them to work. For instance, “#villain.s#” returns “identity thiefs” instead of “identity thieves”; and “#love interest.capitalize#” returns “immigration specialist Sadie” instead of “Immigration specialist Sadie”.
An example of what can be generated:
Just Like A Zombie Movie
After a long day of work, Amara comes home to a loving husband, Oliver. The two spend the evening doing laundry with the latest Arm and Hammer Liquid Laundry Detergent in Clean Burst and miss an important news bulletin.
The next morning, a neighborhood girl unexpectedly enters their house and stifles Oliver to death with tons of medical bills. To Amara’s surprise, Oliver immediately returns to life, but in the form of what seems like a medical debt collector. Oliver tries to attack Amara with medical bills. Amara flees in a Nissan Altima, innovation that excites.
On the road, Amara meets immigration specialist Sadie, HR manager Nora, compliance manager Kai, wellness coach Daniel, motivational speaker Luis and multi-billionaire Lucas. They break into a nearby shopping mall and are attacked by a security guard in the form of a medical debt collector, who tries to put medical bills out of nowhere into motivational speaker Luis’s mouth.
Staying in the shopping mall, the group indulges themselves in consumerism. Romance buds between Amara and immigration specialist Sadie. Because of their shared fashion taste, compliance manager Kai develops a friendship with wellness coach Daniel.
Meanwhile, motivational speaker Luis gets worse day by day and eventually passes away, only to return as a medical debt collector. After killing motivational speaker Luis, the group discovers the disease of bill collecting is transmitted through contact with medical bills.
As the medical debt collectors accumulate outside the shopping mall, the group is forced to evacuate. Their plan is to equip Amara’s Nissan Altima, innovation that excites and head for a nearby private airport to escape on multi-billionaire Lucas’s HondaJet: HA-420, a high-performance sportscar in the sky.
Navigating through the city, compliance manager Kai gets into a fight with wellness coach Daniel, causing the car to crash. multi-billionaire Lucas tries to flee on his own but is stifled to death by a medical debt collector. Amara kills the reanimated multi-billionaire Lucas, who’s turned into a medical debt collector, and retrieves his key to the HondaJet: HA-420, a high-performance sportscar in the sky.
Arriving at the airport, HR manager Nora sacrifices herself so others can escape. immigration specialist Sadie, after revealing a small piece bitten off of a medical bill, dies fighting the medical debt collectors. Amara, compliance manager Kai, wellness coach Daniel get onto the HondaJet: HA-420, a high-performance sportscar in the sky. On the jet, while looking at the sunset outside the window, Amara remembers what Oliver used to say: “The key to realizing a dream is to focus not on success but significance – and then even the small steps and little victories along your path will take on greater meaning.”