In this horror romp, a woman’s love for her fiance survives the zombie apocalypse despite his status as one of the undead.
Twenty-one-year-old Rhonda Driscoll was a hairstylist just six months ago, before the Necro-Rabies breakout in North America. Rabid zombies, known as Cujos, devour living humans or turn them into the undead. Rhonda is one of 200 survivors at a military base run by her father and sole remaining family member, Col. Kenneth Driscoll. When the latest mission for gathering supplies and survivors includes her hometown of Levendale, she’s reluctant to join, as it’s where she watched her loved ones die. But it’s also a chance to revisit her home, where she surprisingly finds her husband-to-be, Brad Savini. He’s “Cujo-fied,” but rather than kill him, Rhonda secures Brad with a gag ball and a handy pair of furry handcuffs. The colonel isn’t happy when Rhonda brings a Cujo back to the base, and when it’s clear he’s planning to put Brad down, she flees with her undead fiance. With little knowledge of how the plague is affecting the rest of the world, she faces unknown dangers. Sure, there are other living humans out there, but they may not be preferable to rabid zombies. Wagner (The Armageddon Chord, 2011) merely hints at a global epidemic while ensuring the story is Rhonda-centric. This maintains a sharp, persistently moving narrative of the protagonist’s personal quandary and eventual flight. Rhonda’s questionable decisions (for example, leaving the base’s safety) are forgivable, as she’s protecting her soul mate, who, to be fair, is tamer than most Cujos. She’s moreover a laudable heroine, trained by the colonel. She uses her shooting skills to dispatch multiple zombies and cares for a couple of younger survivors. The narrative stays grounded in familiar zombie terrain, from an undead lover to humans proving worse than the flesh-eating Cujos. But it’s immensely fun, and Rhonda dishes out one-liners with panache, even if only in her head: “I ain’t got time to bleed.”
An endlessly entertaining zombie tale that checks off genre conventions with style.