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Zombie Christmas Carols: Michael P. Spradlin Gives the Holidays an Undead Spin

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Thu, Dec 17, 2009 at 9:00 AM

I'm not exactly a fan of Christmas music and any performance of a carol I can claim has been done under duress, but after reading It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Zombies! A Book of Zombie Christmas Carols, I'm almost tempted join a Zombie Walk and start singing "Slay Ride" or "I Saw Mommy Chewing Santa Claus." It might make the holiday a little more like Halloween. And so WCS caught up with author Michael P. Spradlin by phone to chat about undead things.

click to enlarge ILLUSTRATION COURTESY OF JEFF WEIGEL
  • Illustration courtesy of Jeff Weigel

Some carolers come to the door and you open the door and it's a crew of zombies. What do you do?

If that really happens you run and you hope that they are the slow, shambling, shuffling zombies of Night of the Living Dead and not the super fast zombies from 28 Days Later.

When I saw 28 Days Later I said, if the zombie apocalypse happens and we get the fast zombies, them I'm toast. The Night of the Living Dead zombies, I think I might have a shot at surviving. If they're the fast ones, I may have well just give up.

My favorite of the carols is "Zombie Wonderland."

I remember as a child, my mother loved Dean Martin. Every Christmas, about the only Christmas album that we were able to listen to was the Dean Martin Christmas album. That was the lead song on the Christmas album, "Walking in a Winter Wonderland," so when I first conceived the idea of the book, I knew that one of the ideas would be of the zombies eating Parson Brown, that sprang right to the forefront of my head right away. I owe that one to Dean Martin.

Are there any carols in the book that you're particularly fond of?

I'm fond of "Good King Wenceslas Tastes Great." I just like the title. I think that "Zombie the Snowman" works so well, not only was I able to match it up lyrically, but I think the image of a zombie snowman chasing people and eating the traffic cop is particularly gruesome and fun.

click to enlarge ILLUSTRATION COURTESY OF JEFF WEIGEL
  • Illustration courtesy of Jeff Weigel

Have you caroled before?

I Christmas caroled as a young child, certainly not zombie songs. People, especially kids, love to make up their own lyrics, all the way back to "Jingle Bells, Batman Smells." There's a long tradition of taking popular songs and making up you're own words. It's time-honored.

"Jingle Bells, Batman Smells" was a big hit in second grade.

Yeah, with everyone. When it gets close to the holiday season, the kid that starts singing it acts like he's the first one who's ever done it.

What prompted you to write this book?

The genesis of this comes from my teenage years of reading Mad Magazine. This is completely a Mad Magazine style parody. I've also written over a dozen children's books and when I'm speaking to classes about writing and I'm asked what my influences are as a writer, I answer John Steinbeck and Mad Magazine, which is an odd combination. I always thought that Mad Magazine is brilliant at their parodies. Growing up, they would take something like a hugely popular movie, like Jaws, and they would turn into a Broadway musical. Or, they would take Starsky and Hutch and turn it into an epic poem like "Beowulf" and it would always crack me up. Whenever they did it, it would just be so clever and the writing would be so funny.

I was at San Diego Comic-Con in 2008 and I was walking the convention floor and everywhere I turned, I saw something zombie, t-shirts, key chains. There was actually a booth of zombie teddy bears called Teddy Scares. It was everywhere and people were talking about this movie called Zombieland that came out last fall, but they were talking about it there. I just thought, boy, there's something to this. I always loved Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead. I thought that someone is going to come up with a way to zombify the holidays, why not me?

You hit it right on the head, opening the door at Christmas time thinking you're going to get carolers and then you get zombies, stuck in my head.

What do you think would be in a zombie Christmas meal?

You'd have to start with brains, jellied probably because it's the holidays and everything is sugared up. Probably egg nog with some sort of fluid that we would not want to know the origins of.

Like plasma?

Plasma, or something else. I'll let the imagination run wild.

If you want to hear Spradlin's Christmas carols, tune into Fangoria Radio (Sirius 102, XM 155) Friday night from 7 to 10 p.m. PST. Word is that host Dee Snider might be performing a few.

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