My novel Trick or Zombie Treat is difficult to categorize. It can be for middle grade readers, young adults, and adults. It has horror, comedy, science fiction, fantasy, action, adventure, and drama. The characters include ghosts, zombies, vampires, werewolves, dinosaurs, basketball players, pop singers, and more. Maybe the best way to give a feel for what my book is like is to list the movies that influenced it. So without further adieu…
1. The Goonies
A group of kids go on an adventure in their neighborhood to find a pirate treasure. Ever since seeing The Goonies, I’ve searched for any and all movies like it. After that, I attempted to write one of my own. My short pitch for TZT is “The Goonies on Halloween with zombies.”
2. Stand By Me
Stand By Me is kind of like The Goonies without the action—but it’s even better. Four boys go searching for a dead body. I love the character dynamics and interactions between the boys, and tried to include some of the same in TZT.
3. The Sandlot
About a group of young boys in the 1960s who loved playing baseball together. Full of great characters and a dog as big as a dinosaur. Stand By Me and The Sandlot looked back at the 1950s and 60s with nostalgia, just as I did with the 1990s in TZT.
I was never really into zombies or zombie movies until I saw Shaun of the Dead, which injected clever comedy into the genre. All of Edgar Wright’s films are great. Zombieland was another zombie comedy I liked that served as inspiration for TZT.
A group of boys fight monsters in their neighborhood, including Dracula, Wolfman, Frankenstein, the Mummy, and the Creature from the Black Lagoon.
Most zombie movies are rated-R, but this was a PG animated zombie film. You don’t need real blood to make a good zombie movie. Frankenweenie and Monster House are two more PG animated horror movies I liked.
The ultimate fantasy comedy with ghosts and monsters. Except in TZT, the ghost is good—more like Slimer or Casper.
I love the meta aspect of this horror/comedy/sci-fi mash-up. It would be a spoiler alert to say too much more, but I liked how Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard included all different kinds of horror movie villains and monsters.
Another meta mash-up… The characters in TZT aren’t made of plastic toy blocks, although there is one reference to Legos in the book. But the real way this movie influenced me is how they threw all different kinds of famous characters (real and fictional) into one story–Batman, Superman, Han Solo, Gandalf, Abraham Lincoln, Shaq, Shakespeare, and more. I even included a couple of those characters myself.
10. Trick ‘r Treat
An anthology film featuring four short supernatural horror films set on Halloween. There aren’t enough good movies set on Halloween. There aren’t enough Halloween movies, period. Which is one of the main reasons I wrote TZT. Fun Size, an underrated comedy, is another recent movie set on Halloween.
There are a ton more movies, books, and tv shows that influenced me—some that I’ve forgotten and others I’m not even conscious of. But these are the films that were on my mind when I wrote Trick or Zombie Treat.