Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Monster Mash

by Tracy Kiely

There are so many really great mash-ups ideas out there. On paper, they sound brilliant. The problem is making them work.
For instance, zombies recently made a come back. So did Jane Austen. It was only a matter of time before someone thought to mash the two together. And what a mash-up it was. The book, of course was Seth Grahame-Smith’s Pride Prejudice and Zombies. Happily, Jane wasn’t a zombie herself. That would be too much for to handle. Instead, the lovely Elizabeth Bennett was made to fight the creatures of the undead.
A Zombie Bitch Slap

For those of you unfamiliar with the plot, it’s basically the original story of Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy (boy meets girls, boy is haughty and proud, girl thinks boy is a jerk, boy grows to love girl, boy finally convinces girl he is FREAKING MR. DARCY, FOR GOD’S SAKE and they marry).  The only difference is that in this version, Regency England is crawling with zombies.
As the blurb on Amazon explains, Pride Prejudice and Zombies is “a delightful comedy of manners with plenty of civilized sparring between the two young lovers—and even more violent sparring on the blood-soaked battlefield.”
Some parts of the book were clever. Charlotte Lucas agrees to marry the insufferable Mr. Collins only because she has been infected with the zombie disease. Charlotte reasons that as a clergyman, Mr. Collins will ensure she receives a proper Christian burial when it is time for her to die (or have her head loped off).
However, there is also a scene in which Lady Catherine forces Elizabeth to battle one of her ninja guards. Elizabeth not only bests the man, but rips out his heart. From there, she proceeds to eat it; without the proper knife and fork.
            Another mash-up that I eagerly looked forward to was the movie Cowboys Vs. Aliens. The basic plot was as follows: An outlaw who is suffering from amnesia (Daniel Craig) must help a group of townspeople who are being abducted by aliens. Oh, and it takes place in Arizona in 1873. Oh, and Harrison Ford play a wealthy rancher who runs the town with an iron fist and doesn’t like strangers, let alone aliens. What could go wrong?
Dem There Are Aliens Afoot
            Well, as it turns out, just about everything. The movie bombed. I don’t know why exactly, but it just didn’t hit the right tone.
            And that’s the problem with mash-ups. What looks good on paper doesn’t necessarily mean it will work. It’s like asking a chef, “I have some eggs, flour, a stick of butter and sugar.  Will this make a good cake?” Who knows? It’s how you combine the ingredients that matters.
            So, I tend to shy away from mash-ups. And if you’ve ever tasted my homemade recipes as a kid, you’d understand why.


Susan C Shea said...

Agree that the outlandish mash-ups tend to stay novelties. And I have a personal distrust of anyone who thinks she can improve on Jane Austen, although there was a series by Stephanie Barron that pulled murder mysteries into the Austin world pretty nicely . I don't read romance genre novels but from the posts I see in writing discussion groups, there's a lot of romance-plus genre mixing going on. Romance+thriller, romance+vampires, etc. Heck, I'd just like to get the traditional mystery genre right in my own work!

RJ Harlick said...

I'm with you on trying to get the traditional genre right, Susan. Besides I think an author should write what they want to write, rather than worrying about what genre or mash-up it should be. Interesting post, Tracey.