Sunday, February 22, 2009

Congratulations to the guys behind THE SIGNAL

...on their nomination for the Independent Spirit John Cassavetes Award for an independent film with a budget under $500,000.

The first recipient of this award was The Blair Witch Project in 2000. It seems they've since lost their appreciation for genre films.

I didn't watch the awards, not really, but RJ saw enough that he got me to catch the Cassavetes Award section of the re-airing. The Signal was the only genre contender, an excellent movie made for only $50,000 and, to my mind, the obvious choice--it represents the very spirit of low budget, using creativity, crew enthusiasm, clever shortcuts and a packed, short schedule to produce something that plays big, feels smart, and looks fantastic. I'm not going to claim outright that there's a bias in the Spirit Awards against genre films, as I haven't even seen the other movies, but they didn't look that great. My only piece of evidence is one that couldn't have affected the decision-making process:

Presenter Sandra Oh expertly announced each nominee and delivered its synopsis with solemn respect and admiration. Except for The Signal, of course, whose fantastical, violent plot she described with patently sarcastic disdain. You got the sense that she wanted to spit into a napkin when they cut away to the trailer.

Grr. What did you ever do for zombies, Oh?

Watch this space for an interview with Justin Welborn, the star of The Signal and Dance of the Dead and all-around dramaturgical fireball.

Friday, February 20, 2009

The Walking Dead, Issue #58

Last month's prognostication:

Can't wait to read BFF Handlebar McWeepy's touching-ass Vaseline-lens family flashback.

It didn't shake out exactly that way. Instead of a visual flashback, we're given a solemn recounting by Handlebar (apparently "Abraham", which I had to look up) of exactly how he lost his family.

Kirkman's heart is in the right place. I just don't know where his head is at.

In spite of what he may think, these extreme events experienced or retold with emotional frailty are neither touching nor shocking anymore, at least to me. They still have power over Rick, though, whose eyes bug out of his head as he hears Abraham's story. Why? After years of outrageous trials and losses, why are Kirkman's characters not as desensitized as we are?

Again, he overuses dialogue to come around to a very simple, powerful point, one that would have been served better through minimalism. Adlard matches his lazy stride through this segment. Things take a turn for the better when the crew approaches Morgan's house. Adlard bats one out of the park with his sweeping shots and with the depiction of Morgan's palpably maniacal state through excellent facial renderings. (Challenge: See if you can spot the vastly different panel where Adlard appears to ape Romita Jr. Winner gets a virtual handshake!) Of course Adlard wouldn't have gotten as far as he has without kicking ass at drawing zombies. I wish he got to flex this muscle more. His illustration of little Duane is chilling.

As much as I complain about Kirkman extending scenes beyond the limit their content can sustain, I truly wish that roping Morgan into joining their expedition had been a little less quick and easy. (He does manage to squeeze in some stale adages about the inhumanity of the undead.)

Lastly, the Mullet Moment--you'll know it when you come to it--reads like a reader complaint addressed within the pages. Curious!

Overall, not a terrible issue, but certainly not one that shakes off the shackles that have been holding this book back. I look forward to the return to terse action. District of Columbia, here we come!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Contaminated Expectations

I've wanted to see Contamination since my uncle bought me a Fangoria Video Guide back in--what was it, 1987? The review mentioned explosive gore FX and a Goblin score, and that was pretty much all twelve-year-old me needed.

Too bad I waited until last night to try and watch it.

I turned it off and went to bed after thirty or so plodding and severely under-edited minutes.

(The exploding rat was cool.)

I'm gonna try to wrap it up now. I'll let you know what's what...

Monday, February 9, 2009

The Best News I've Heard All Day

George's Undead Neo-Western has a composer: John Harrison.

I was personally hoping that the Big Guy would pick Donald Rubinstein, as Ruby's scores for Martin and Knightriders are fantastic (his Bruiser score was pretty damned solid, too), but you'll hear no complaints from me: Harrison's Caribbean-infused and Carpenter-esque score for Day of the Dead is perhaps the finest in the series. After two less-than-memorable Dead scores, George has taken one daddy-long-legged step in the right direction.

...of the Dead
is on schedule to be completed in either March or April, barring reshoots.

Thank you, Dread Central.


The Don May, Jr. interview is in the can. Expect it soon at FearZone.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Be Clever and Win Zombie Goodies from Tor Books!

Can you concoct a caption for this captivating cop corpse couple?

Then head on over to and check out John Joseph Adams' contest--all you need is brilliance! Winner receives a copy of Adams' anthology The Living Dead and the video game Left 4 Dead; a prize package as uncompromisingly saliva-summoning as any I've ever seen.

Bon chance, deadites!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

World War Z review

My review of Max Brooks' World War Z appears in the latest issue of Cemetery Dance magazine (#59).

While terrifying, the Romero-based zombies (aka "Zack") are nothing more than a foil in this masterwork. The true boogeymen are bureaucracy, ignorance and greed. Billions of lives are lost to miscalculations and political ploys.... Immensely imaginative, chillingly authentic, brimming with real-world substance, World War Z is a zombie novel for a new era.
Find it on newsstands now!

Zombies Invade Austin!

Damn. All the coolest stuff happens in Austin.

Quit trying, Indiana.