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Will Gnaw Brains For Food

Zombie movies are the new hip thing. Filmmakers from every vault have rushed to join the feeding frenzy. Even the original brain-eater, George Romero, has risen once again.

If you're a burgeoning auteur looking to steal some scraps from this particular meat wagon, but you're stuck for something to distinguish your own cinematic cadaver from the rest of the undead herd, here's an idea. The legend of John Henry makes an excellent beginning for a zombie flick.

Our story opens on John Henry, who has just worked himself to death digging a tunnel faster than a steam shovel. Now he is laid to rest in the tunnel he dug with his own hands.

Suddenly and unexpectedly, the Venus orbiter Steam Shovel V returns to Earth. It crashes, blanketing the atmosphere with strange rays. Soon, John Henry rises from the dead and digs himself out of his tunnel. And this time, no mechanical device can stop him.

Shambling across the countryside, John Henry catches and devours unwitting steam engines. One group of panicked locomotives barricade themselves inside a roundhouse, hoping to wait out the chaos. But they must blow their whistles, which soon attracts more trouble than they can handle.

Alternately, if you're a filmmaker of conscience and want the story to play out against a backdrop of evil corporatism: John Henry could return from the dead as an unstoppable strip miner. Risen from the grave with the strength of ten cadavers, he shears off entire West Virginia mountaintops to get at the ore beneath.

In response, mining firms sue for lost projected revenue, seeking damages equivalent to the profit they would have made if each lost mountaintop had been made of platinum. John Henry makes an abortive attempt to tunnel into the CEOs' skulls, in search for any nuggets of value. But he is caught, tried, and sentenced to dig ore for the CEOs' golden parachutes.

This is cinematic gold, people, strip-mined straight from my brain. Wouldn't you like to own the mineral rights? At the very least, the fact that I came up with it proves that I do have lots and lots of brains. Any takers?