Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Again with the Boobs

A few quickies:

My review for THE BOOBY HATCH will appear at Fear Zone within the next week or two. As far as Romero-related oddities go, this one may be the oddest: it's a post Latent Image softcore sex comedy directed by John Russo and Rudy Ricci.

It also stars Ricci, who you'll recognize as one of the bikers in DAWN OF THE DEAD, as well as Russ "Johnny" Streiner and David "Flyboy" Emge.

I haven't watched it yet, but I wouldn't be surprised if some other familiar faces pop up...

In other news:

John Harrison recently talked to Fangoria regarding his score for George's new DEAD flick:

"I don’t want to write a score for …OF THE DEAD by starting off with ominous horror movie music, atonal , even pseudo-industrial sounds that are cliché in horror films today. To do that would deliver what everybody expects…this is not that kind of movie. This is something entirely different."

Sounds promising. Follow me for the entire interview.

"I do not have a title for the movie yet,” Romero told Fango this month at the Weekend of Horrors in Chicago. “Right now it’s just called …OF THE DEAD, although I kind of wish I could just name it DIARY OF THE DEAD PART 2. What I can tell you about the story is that it is going to be focused on what is happening in the world right now. The atmosphere is a little different after the Bush years, but I still sense some uncertainty."

Some uncertainty? George Romero, ladies and gentlemen, this year's recipient of the Understatement of the Year Award.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Zombie Haiku by Ryan Mecum

The undead and short-form metered verse: two great tastes that taste great together. Or, if you're like me, one great taste that makes the other taste edible.

When I was a wee one, my mother would give me aspirin crushed in honey. This succeeded in making me despise the taste of both aspirin and honey. Luckily, author Ryan Mecum lays on that sweet, reddened corn syrup branded Humor About the Undead in sufficient quantities to make the bitter pill of haiku downright enjoyable.

Can you tell I don't like poetry yet?

While attending ZombieFest 2008 at the famed Monroeville Mall just outside Pittsburgh this past fall, I had the pleasure of meeting Ryan and buying the book directly from him--it was the first I'd heard of it, in fact. I commented to him at the time (rather apologetically) that, due to the choppy form, I suspected the collection might be best enjoyed as bathroom reading.

I've been wrong before, maybe once or twice. In fact, this genre-straddling work enjoys two worlds of benefits: the convenient, serialized brevity of a poetry collection and the addictive readability of a zombie comedy. (Don't ever ask me to call such a thing a "zomedy". I'm not a fan of neologisms, let alone neologistic portmanteaus. Just... don't ever ask.)

I was hooked because Mecum's verse is adroit and actually presents a single continuing narrative. It's related from the perspective of a lovestruck would-be poet whose scrawlings go from bad to worse as his pulse goes from existent to non-. More than handful of entries feel uninspired--just as the work enjoys two worlds of benefits, it also suffers in trying to meet two worlds of expectations. Once or twice, the poetry misses the 5-7-5 syllable rule for haiku. The comedy wilts a bit when the story is made to shuffle along with occasional filler pieces. With over 300 entries, the odd duds are expected. But overall, it is a fast read and a real romp, with frequent laugh-out-loud moments and lots of general zombie mayhem awesomeness.

But the best thing about Zombie Haiku is not the humor, not the zombies, and certainly not the poetry reading experience per se (can you tell I don't like poetry yet?). The best thing is that, when it's not ghoulishly funny, it's startlingly dark and effective. The humor is the right hand that lightly tickles your belly till you're in an absolute state. The grimness is the left hand that reaches behind and delivers a quick little sucker punch to your kidney. Then you get tickled again.

Lastly, the production details on this book bear mentioning. It's full-color throughout with a spot-gloss cover treatment. Rich blood spatters, filthy, crumpled backgrounds, demented sketches and eerie polaroid snaps make this book a visual delight. (Well, if you're a sick puppy like I am, anyway. ....and I know you are.)

At merely $9.99, this stunning, clever little collection is an excellent selection for a gift, a coffee table book, or, yes, even a bathroom book. Check out Mecum's Zombie Haiku website, where you can see video clips of zombies performing haiku and even download sample pages. You can buy the book through Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble online.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Fresh Lebbon: Children of the New Disorder now in stock!

Children of the New Disorder, a new novellette by Tim Lebbon and Lindy Moore, is now in stock here at Creeping Hemlock Press.

An age ago, the children stopped coming. The priests’ promise of a curative kept the fury and misery at bay, for a time. Then the airships passed over and dropped their antidote. A relieved people drank it up like a mist of ambrosia.

Marooned and hopeless, Chaylie and her family escaped the horrors that followed, only to return to a land plagued by the tragic and the bizarre.

They appear in the night. Deformed. Mewling. Inhuman. And it’s Chaylie’s job to destroy them in great and blistering heaps. But the living nightmares can only be thrust aside, never defeated. And what if one of them were to survive?

Children of the New Disorder is a chilling vision, a frightening fever dream from the minds of Tim Lebbon and Lindy Moore. Paired with the refreshing voice of a pseudonymous YA fantasy writer, Lebbon’s lauded prose has become unexpectedly daring in this spellbinding apocalyptic tale of the horrors both around and within us.
Children of the New Disorder is a tight, quick read, but what it lacks in length it makes up for in substance. With just a few broad strokes, Lebbon and Moore do an amazing job of creating a fully formed picture of a society collapsing in on itself.... A winner.
-Blu Gilliand, Dark Scribe Magazine

For free shipping, order Children of the New Disorder direct at creepinghemlock.com. It can also be purchased from Horror Mall, Camelot Books, Ziesing Books, the Overlook Connection Bookstore and others. Ask your preferred retailer about ordering.

Signed/numbered edition, limited to 450 copies -- black genuine leather, two-color foil embossing, several full-page illustrations, illustrated color endsheets: $35. Order
Lettered edition -- red genuine leather, case and price TBD

We're waiting on materials for the lettered edition's case but will have details on that shortly. You may make your reservation now for the lettered simply by emailing us with "Children lettered reservation" in your subject line.

Friday, March 13, 2009

The Walking Dead, issue #59

Hallelujah! Actually, coming from a Catholic background, it's really Alleluia for me.

This issue hits all my happy spots, starting by breathing lightly against my neck, then running its fingers down my trembling sides and nibbling my earlobe while whispering dirty, dirty promises.*

It's quick-moving, relatively light on dialogue (and what dialogue we get is generally brusque), covers a lot of territory in just a few action-packed pages culminating in a perfect mid-scene, un-silly cliffhanger ending. Kirkman hauls us back to the hair-raising scenarios that hooked us into this series. As I've mentioned before, Adlard's best work is his zombies. If we were to graph me nitpicking his art, we'd see that my whining's highest when zombie content is low. This issue dishes up our friendly neighborhood shamblers in spades, and Adlard rises to the occasion. The high water mark is a *superb* double-splash, capitalizing on some pulse-pounding action.

I have no idea how it will resolve; I'm on pins and needles. This issue is clearly the payoff I've been waiting for. (Who doesn't mumble and whine in line? Even in line for something awesome. I'm guilty.)

I repeat the point I articulated several posts ago: month-to-month is no way to read The Walking Dead. I'm sure that for youngsters in the sixties and seventies, getting a quarter to spend on books was a special treat, and they wore that quarter thin every day after school, reading and re-reading each issue for four weeks, their grubby li'l fingers leaving it filthy and dog-eared. Never distracted by the legion multimedia that today keeps our heads snapping in a different direction every twelve seconds, these kids had the time and tenacity to commit that issue to heart. They knew exactly what resolution to hope for with the next issue and never lost the narrative thread.

Couple that with the fact that comics at that time were written for kids who needed a spandex-befitted fix every month, written to be punchy and rewarding every time, and you can see why a mature title like The Walking Dead is really not suited for monthly reading. The plot takes time to ripen. The characters are usually interesting to observe just *being*. There are a lot of lulls while these things happen, and those lulls are critical.

They're critical because they are definitively punctuated by issues like this, #59, blowing your balls clean off. If every issue were like this, the title would've been an insane adrenaline-fest, ass-kicking as a horde of hyperactive tweens having their way with a donkey piñata, compulsively readable but ultimately empty. It would've burned out years ago.

Instead, Kirkman gives us a well-paced, thoughtful, long-reaching narrative that (I can't say it enough times) is undeniably best enjoyed in collected format. (Now, whether that is a series of stapled floppies or a trade paperback is left to your preference. I'm a big trade fan, myself, but that's because a: I'm cheap, b: I'm clumsy, and c: I believe the collectibility of modern comics is negligible if not dead.)

Next time you read me bitching about an issue being slow, direct my short-ass attention back to this entry and I'll promptly STFU.

Another note: When Adlard switched to drawing his pages actual-size several issues back, there was a marked drop in the quality of the faces, with eyes clearly misplaced, mugs flattened, etc. I think he's finally starting to get his footing again and is beginning to master the smaller layout. There are only a small handful of WTF faces in this issue. Most of the art has come up to the level Adlard established when working full-size. High five, Charlie!

See? I'm not so insistent a whiner as you've empirically observed me to be.

*I'm not so Catholic anymore, but I feel like I ought to say some Hail Marys just now.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

There Will Be Boobs, and Other Assorted Stuff.


Like any nerd worth his or her weight in Golden Age comics, I sat in line for the midnight premiere of Zack Snyder's Watchmen.

I'm not going to attempt any kind of in-depth review, as even now--some two days since I saw the film--I'm still processing it. It will take several future viewings, I believe, for it to stand in my eyes on its own merits. For now, it's merely a lush visual representation of the book, the viewing of which was heavily informed/influenced by my most recent re-reading of the source material.

I will say this: the violence lacked subtlety, and thus lacked impact. It's cartoonishly grand guignol. It didn't help that what could have been the most shocking and unnerving kill (the child killer's run-in with his own meat-cleaver) was marred by shockingly unfinished digital gore.

Am I the only one confused by Snyder's choice to transform the alley brawl into a massacre? Disarming a thug and then plunging the knife into his throat? Rorschach or Blake would do that, sure--but Laurie and Dan?

Contamination Follow-up

I finished watching it. It's the most under-edited movie I've ever seen, a 45-minute story (possibly thirty!) stretched and padded to the ninety-minute mark.

It's interesting to note that writer director Luigi Cozzi was no mere hack hired to churn out an Alien knock-off, an easy assumption to make. The accompanying documentary reveals him to be a science fiction fan steeped in the rich history of the American pulps. This is evident in the decidedly quaint silent invasion plot, as well as in the design of the cyclops, a creature that would have looked at home on a cover of Amazing Stories (or maybe sprawled across Times Square in an effort to stop a nuclear holocaust).

For all of his love for and knowledge of the genre, Cozzi produced a film that is little more than an amusing oddity. There are a few fun ideas on display, but, unless you're an Italian horror completist, this one isn't worth your time.

Unless, of course, you want to have some fun playing around with it in Premiere or Final Cut.

The Man Who Saved Night of the Living Dead

The first part of my massive interview with Don May, Jr. is now live at Fear Zone. The second will be posted this coming Thursday (the 12th), at which time I'll run my review of Synapse's upcoming release, the boob-filled Swedish sexploitation flick, Exposed.

Belated Thoughts on a Movie Already on the Way Out

I liked the Friday the 13th remake. I began writing this half-baked review a few days after seeing the movie, but it sat around as a draft for too long and now it's just plain stale.

It's not a great film. It's not really even a film. It is, however, a fine Friday the 13th movie--a low bar, but a bar nonetheless.

I have a certain fondness for the Jason flicks--not because they've very good (they're mostly not), but because I was a kid when I saw them and they titillated me in all the ways good slasher flicks are supposed to titillate a thirteen-year-old boy: a scary and unstoppable monster, creative and bloody kills, and boobs (unless we're talking about Part 7, which delivered perhaps the coolest-looking Jason, but nary a blood-droplet or even a barely-glimpsed areola. (The MPAA were zealous when it came to butchering horror films back then.)

The new Friday delivers on all of the above: Jason is as imposing and unstoppable as ever (and maybe even a little cooler), the kills are fairly creative (though not nearly as bloody or inventive as one would expect, given the freedom offered by digital FX. A sign of some modicum of restraint on the part of the film makers, or a lack of imagination?), and boobs. Not a bountiful abundance of boobs, but more boobs than I've seen on screen since Hostel, as well as a bouncy and protracted sex scene that would have prompted me to go on a slow-mo frenzy, back in post-pubescent VHS glory days of 1987.

The Friday movies are the butter-slathered popcorn of the horror genre. They're junk, but they're greasy good fun. Because of this, one should not go into a Friday the 13th remake with the same apprehension or incredulity inspired by remakes of truly great films. It's Friday the 13th -- not Dawn of the Dead or The Texas Chain Saw Massacre.

With Scream 13 years behind us, the slasher film is, for better or worse, once more allowed to merely be a slasher film: the new movie is self-aware only in that it references elements from the first three Friday films. Surprisingly, it's not nearly as winky as one would expect, and there's even a nuanced and--gasp!--sophisticated moment or two.

If you're an old-school Friday fan and you're up in arms over this movie, it's probably because you've not given the original films an objective assessment.