Monday, 24 December 2012

Zombie/Apocalypse 2012: A Political Horror Story by Ian McCellan - Zombie Horror Book Review

When I first heard of Zombie/Apocalypse 2012: A Political Horror Story I was a bit concerned that it was going to be a political essay using zombies as a metaphor for Americas political issues. Being English I have only a very basic grasp of what happens in the 'Land of the Free'. Thankfully the book is very easy to understand and far more of a story than I expected. Political issues are quite the same everywhere you go it seems.

Zombie/Apocalypse tells the tale of Lance; a middle aged man, set in his ways living in a small town when a zombie pandemic sweeps the globe eventually reaching him. It isn't long before he is bitten and with increasing symptoms he barricades himself in his basement and falls into a deep sleep. Several days later he awakes feeling a lot better, he realise that he may hold the cure to the zombie plague.  After a fruitless call to the C.D.C (centre for disease control) where his claims are ignored Lance decides the only thing to do is travel across zombie ravaged America with his best friend Larry to reach the C.D.C in Atlanta.

I wasn't prepared for how funny this book is, it is told from the perspective of Lance who is recounting his story, he is extremely sarcastic, often to his detriment, being able to infuriate and confuse everyone he comes across but also making the book a fun read. He is a great protagonist, he is not perfect and does some very questionable things, some that really surprised me. His thought process is usually the best way McCellan brings humour, a highlight that stuck in my mind was when he awakes from a sleep to see his friend Larry also asleep but in the drivers seat of a moving truck, it takes a whole paragraph before Lance realises what is wrong with that picture:
 'Of course, I thought to myself, he probably shouldn't be sleeping 
while he's driving. I then became very awake.'

Funny stuff. The character of Lance makes this book what it is, his observations, his outlook all make what is  your typical zombie tale into something better, as do the darkly humorous events (such as giving a deeply inspiring speech to a group of survivors only for them all to be ripped apart by zombies just minutes later).

Plot wise it is quite simple, having the feel of a road trip, being bounced from situation to situation so that there is never a lull in action, the zombies start off as a big threat but take a back seat to the evils of humanity, while later on once the undead have but lost their sting a newer threat is introduced to keep things thrilling.

So onto the political aspect now.  Mainly it concerns how bureaucracy and point scoring quickens the apocalypse. The whole adventure wouldn't even had needed to occur if Lance had been able to get past the useless rule following call centre operative from the C.D.C. Early news reports centre on politicians arguing over whose fault the outbreak is, and refusing to divert funds from other parts of the budget to deal with the uprising. The rich and famous are the ones rescued by the government while the common people are left to fend for themselves. Elsewhere you have pro-lifers and animal welfare people doing their best to get in the way (zombies get called 'life challenged Americans'). The ingrained ideals of America do nothing but fast track the doom of mankind.

I really enjoyed Zombie/Apocalypse 2012: A Political Horror Story (apart from that mouthful of a title), McCellan has an easy to read writing style that makes a zombie book that is hard to put down.


Sunday, 23 December 2012

Army of Darkness (1992) - Horror Film Review

It is damn criminal that I have still not reviewed the Evil Dead trilogy, especially as they are some of my favourite horror films. Army of Darkness is the last film in the trilogy and does expect you to have seen the previous films so there will be some spoilers.

After accidentally being sucked through a magical portal at the end of Evil Dead II Ash (Bruce Campbell) finds himself transported to the 13th Century. At first captured, he proves his worth by defeating a Deadite (with the use of his iconic chainsaw hand and boomstick) and is proclaimed to be the hero foretold in legends who would appear to defeat the evil plaguing the land. Ash reluctantly accepts his quest to banish the evil not to save the people, but he is told the Necronomicon (book of the dead) is the only object able to get him back home to the 21st Century.

Bruce Campbell always played Ash as an anti hero; a coward forced into a hero's role, but in this film he also becomes supremely arrogant, thinking himself vastly superior to the 13th Century people he refers to as 'primates'. His arrogance is his downfall many times throughout the film and leads to many comic moments. The Evil Dead was a horror with comedy elements, Evil Dead II went far more comedic but once again was still horror. The same can't be said of Army of Darkness, it has turned into an adventure film, dropping an age rating as well to be a 15. Ash is full of classic one liners (the origin of the classic line 'Hail to the King baby!') and also full of slapstick comedy.

Army of Darkness looks like it has a very small budget, the 13th Century represented by deserts and woodlands while the main location of the castle is very rough looking. Blood is in far less abundance and looks somehow even more fake than the corn syrup of the previous Evil Dead films. Being a 15 there is far less violence, gun shots do no physical damage, most the enemies being fought consist of skeletons done in a stop motion Jason and the Argonauts fashion.

It has to be said, which I am sure any Evil Dead fan knows is that there are two endings. The original ending was deemed too depressing for the American audience and so a happy ending was also made. Both are so different from each other that they are both worth watching. I have always watched both endings when ever I watch this film

As the end of a trilogy it is a fantastic change of pace, as a stand alone film it is not that great though, it has gone just a little (ok, a lot) too comedic, Ash in this incarnation being almost a parody of himself. Still Bruce Campbell is fantastic as both Ash and Evil Ash (the films main villain), Sam Raimi's direction is superb once more. Army of Darkness is a fun, dumb film and it knows it.


Update 01/01/2021: While I have seen this plenty of times before this time it really clicked for me. It may have lost all the horror and the over the top violence of the previous entries but it really was quite funny. 

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Legend of Zombie - Zelda Zombie Parody

My awesome contact for all images of a zombie nature has pulled through again sending this on to me. Link collects hearts to replenish his health so a zombie Link eating hearts is quite fitting!

Monday, 17 December 2012

Inferno: The City of Hell - Horror Graphic Novel News

Inferno: The City of Hell is a graphic novel compilation made up of 5 issues of Inferno: A Sleep and A Forgetting that ran from 1996. You may not have heard of it (I hadn't) but it was one of the first comic series written by Mike Carey of Hellblazer and Lucifer (which I had vaguely heard of before).

The set up does sound quite interesting and suitably hellish. John Travis finds himself in a city of demons, in reality he is Jacamo Terence; the only person ever to escape from Hell, though apparently he is back as the city he is in does sound like Dis. Helped by his companions Nostradamus and a were-girl Jacamo he must find a way to survive.

Inferno: The City of Hell was released back in September of this year, 144 pages long. It certainly sounds interesting.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Zombie Strippers Ate My Brain (2012) - Zombie Horror Videogame Review - X-Box 360 Indie

I rolled my eyes when I saw this game, surely here is everything that is wrong with the often (and mostly) terrible Indie channel on the 360.

As the intro story explains you are a security guard at a strippers convention where a zombie outbreak occurs.  Luckily there was due to be a gun convention in a few days time and so plenty of weapons and ammo are at the convention centre. For anyone's information the cover art may give the game a different title but I am going off of what it was named on the Indie channel.

This actually kinda felt like a very, very low budget Dead Island. It is a first person wave based shooter but locations are tailored to look like places as opposed to the usual arena. I played 3 levels of the game. I have said before but I will say again; I have no problem reviewing demo's of games from the X-Box indie channel so there! I used to be in the mind set of buying any game I reviewed first but that left me with a lot of trash clogging up my hard drive.

Anyway the first level saw me protecting a guy who was fixing a lift, as did the 2nd level. The third level had me on a convention floor which had some nice touches such as real advertisements neatly arranged into the level so as to not stick out.  Zombies are all strippers, so many pasty looking bikini wearing lurching towards you. The 2nd level saw the introduction of slightly stronger zombies, while the third saw the arrival of legless ones who crawled along the floor trailing their entrails before them. One annoying factor is the rationing of bullets that is needed due to lengthy ammo re-spawning times.

The game looks basic but controls ok, and I have seen far worse zombie animation. For 80 Microsoft points you can't go too wrong by taking a chance with this if you really need another value range zombie shooter.


Saturday, 15 December 2012

Supernatural: Season 2 - Horror TV Show Review

In the post today I had Season 4 of Supernatural arrive (fantastic from what I have seen!). This reminded me that I had yet to review Season 2. Minor spoilers ahead...

With their Dad dead the Winchester boys are even more determined to kill the yellow eyed demon that has been plaguing their lives. As Sam's psychic powers become more apparent he discovers that there are lots of other 'chosen' out there, people who were visited by the demon as children. Some of these are good, some evil, all with different abilities. The main story concerns Sam and Dean finding these people. The main plot is again much like season 1 not that great, the script writer even admitted it was not a good storyline, revolving around if Sam was going to go over to the 'dark side' or not. This was stupid as obviously he wouldn't as he is such a goody two shoes and has utterly no reason to join forces with the demons.

There is still a 'monster of the week' vibe going on here as well as the introduction of what are pretty much comedy episodes. By far my favourite storyline was the continuing persecution of Dean by the Police who are convinced he is a dangerous criminal. 'Nightshifter' in which the brothers get caught up in a hostage situation at a bank is one of the more epic episodes with a neat Leon twist to it while 'Folsom Prison Blues' sees them using their wanted status to advantage to investigate a ghost at a prison. The comedy episodes are a bit hit and miss with 'Hollywood Babylon' just stuffed with references to other films (mostly Evil Dead!) while 'Tall Tales' sees the arrival of the Trickster character and is quite a fun one. By far the best episode is 'Roadkill' about a young woman out in the woods being hunted by the ghost of a man killed in a hit and run accident, a surprisingly moving episode with a twist that blew me away!  The season finale is good, though part 1 was a bit boring but leads to another great ending. One thing Supernatural always seems to get right is its season ends.

Monster wise there are more vampire episodes as well as a werewolf one which is not that bad, but the inclusion of a zombie based episode is less good, in the supernatural universe zombies are kind of lame.  New characters are a mixed bag, Gordon Walker is a fantastic bad guy; a hunter who is convinced Sam is the Antichrist, he has all the skills and knowledge that the boys do. Most the good characters introduced are lame, the location of the Roadhouse which becomes kind of a HQ is not great for what is essentially a road trip series. Bobby is great though, a hunter who has the look of a lorry driver, he was not originally planned to be a key character but season 4 and he is still going strong, acting as a father figure to the boys.

Another great season of a great show full of mostly good episode though the way that each episode a different issue is tackled is a bit badly handled. For instance for the duration of 'Houses of the Holy' Sam is suddenly revealed to be deeply religious and gets in many arguments with non religious Dean but just for the duration of the episode. This theme of tacked on issues seems to be a Supernatural constant which is a shame.


Friday, 14 December 2012

Dawn of the Dumb (2007) by Charlie Brooker - Zombie Themed Cover

I love Charlie Brooker's work, he is a very funny man. Dawn of the Dumb is a collection of his articles from The Guardian newspaper and actually has nothing to do with zombies or horror, but as it is an easy post to do I thought I would include a picture of the cover. Obviously based on Dawn of the Dead.

Despite what it might seem like I do have a load of better posts I could be doing, I am king at procrastinating !

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Spring-Heeled Jack: From the Tunnels of Hell by Craig Daley - Horror Comic Review

Earlier this year I reviewed Football Crazy a unique looking murder mystery comic by Craig Daley. It has been a while but I have now read another comic of Daley's, this one more horror based.

Every one hundred years on the night of Halloween a demonic figure with glowing red eyes and the ability to send men insane with fear appears in London to terrorise young women. Its ability to leap huge distances has meant that it has always evaded capture. Dating back as far as people can remember this thing has appeared like clockwork in the 73rd year of every century but come Halloween 2011 and the creature has returned out of sync. Not only that but it is now murdering people where before it only terrorised. Is it really a monster from Hell or is there a more down to earth reason.

Daley has a really strange art style, one that I have not seen before, at once plain and strange but also unique and almost addictive to look at, I approve of it even if it does seem to lack motion in some ways (action scenes always look static rather than fast paced).

I love how this story is set out, it is split into three different tales almost. One takes place in 1873, one takes place in 1973, while the last takes place in 2011. The different time lines have different generations of families in them. The best one I thought was the 1973 one in which a young man and a Police Officer contemplate going into the tunnels under Sheffield in search of the demonic prankster. Has quite a cool horror vibe to it.  All in all Spring-Heeled Jack is a lame villain in real life and here, but Daley creates a reason to it all which is interesting. Football crazy had a very cool and inventive twist to it, again here there is some really interesting reveals done, though the main one confused me a little bit.

Another good comic though, hypnotic, and entertaining and worth a look at. Spring-Heeled Jack: From the Tunnels of Hell is in two parts, both are under a pound each and can be brought at Drive-Thru Comics


Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Predatory Moon - Horror Film 'Blood Drive'

Predatory Moon is a werewolf film that hopes to enter production in April 2013. Werewolves it has to be said are probably my least favourite horror movie monsters, though I do have a bizarre soft spot for 'An American Werewolf in Paris'. This one, to be directed by Shiva Rodriquez is stated to be an old-school style one and I was pleased to read that an on screen transformation without the use of damned CGI is to be included (by far the best part of An American Werewolf in London).

Anyway to raise funds for the films production the crew have initiated a Blood Drive. Basically every time a milestone is reached on their indiegogo fund raising campaign a different famous movie monster will be killed. The first video promises the death of a zombie. Anyway if your interested in giving them money then the address is included in the video. You have till January 2nd 2013 to donate.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Rage Within by Jeyn Roberts - Horror Book Review

Rage Within is the sequel to Dark Inside; a book that I loved for its fast paced action and interesting chapter style. Much like that book it is written in such a way that once you start reading it is very hard to put down.

The first book was concerned with the four main characters (Clementine, Aries, Mason, and Michael) separate journeys across post apocalypse America. The sequel has them now all together, living in a safe house with other survivors in Vancouver. The city is infested with Baggers (the humans turned into sadistic crazed killers) who constantly patrol the streets in white vans, loud speakers promising sanctuary.  The sanctuary is actually a prison camp where hundreds of captives are kept in squalid conditions, forced to do slave labour. While scouting out the compound Mason and the mysterious Daniel are captured. Meanwhile at the University where Clementine hopes to find her missing brother Heath she and Michael discover a large group of survivors.

First off; this is not as good as Dark Inside. I loved the road trip feel of that first book, as well as the four characters all having their own mostly separate tales. Here it is much more intertwined, so you get instances of different chapters taking place in the exact same place but from different perspectives. The main story for this book didn't really seem to be based on a huge event, it felt like a side story almost, and it really got exciting towards the end but the lead up to it was nothing epic, just characters trying to survive in the world.

The Baggers are far more organised now, in Rage Within they were random crazies, but here they are united under a leader bringing with it a new type of horror albeit a more traditional type. For a book aimed at young adults there is again plenty of grim violence that looses none of its rawness such as an anecdote of someone being tortured by having their insides pulled out, to close combat brutal fighting between the survivors and the Baggers all great stuff.

What Rage Within does do well is drip feeding parts of the bigger story, as well as fill in the blanks from the previous book. The character of Daniel is made much more real, the 'Nothing' chapters are back and while it is no longer a secret who or what Nothing is they are still a welcome slice of madness to break up the plot. My favourite part of the book was actually the first 40 pages which are a variety of chapters that take place three weeks before the start of the destruction of mankind, it gives a great set up and some further background on the characters Roberts has created.

A whole heap of new characters are introduced, some great, some not so interesting, I wasn't pleased to see what has to be the worlds most annoying boy; Colin still going strong, why the group don't just tie him up and dump him somewhere is the real mystery of the series. The best new character I felt was Ryder though he had limited book time so never really got to shine, it seemed like he was mostly there as a contrast to the leadership methods of Aries. As with the first book I did find myself getting confused with the lesser characters who all seem to meld into one in my head sometimes.

Despite everything that happens there really is a message of hope in her books, something often missing in apocalypse tales, it stops things from becoming too bleak (though plenty of bad stuff still happens!). I really did love this book, it is yet another page turner that at the very least sets up events for the next book in the series and has some great, completely unexpected twists in it. Cannot wait to see what Roberts comes up with next in this riveting series.


Monday, 3 December 2012

The Chateau (2012) - Short Horror Film

The Chateau is a short horror film directed by David 'dwyz' Wayman and starring Clare Gregory. It has been the official selection for 8 film festivals.

A young woman arrives at a Chateau out in the country, it seems she is awaiting the arrival of her boyfriend. I got the impression that she had not really been to the place much before as she seems out of place with all the old paintings and furniture. Anyway this being a horror there seems to be some sort of ghostly presence in the place, not happy with her being there...

I love short horrors, they never have time to get boring, and usually the short time limit allows the director to not get bogged down in exposition and just get to the crux of the tale. Gregory is a good choice of actress here (her debut role as well) in that she is believable. All too often you get characters talking aloud to themselves for no good reason, here she is silent as you would be on your own, but her actions just all seem natural.

A lot of points in the film I did not understand the importance of, such as her constant messing around with a ring she had on, it seemed to be important to the character, and even seemed linked to the supernatural events going on in the story but was never explained. This is not a bad thing, I like making up my own theories in my head (even if I am just being dense and it is actually obvious!). It all leads up to a chilling ending that while expected still was effective. Concise, interesting, and really not a bad little film.


Thursday, 29 November 2012

The Walking Dead Episode 5: No Time Left - Zombie Horror Videogame Review (X-Box Live Arcade)

I have just finished the fifth, and final chapter of the Telltale made The Walking Dead adventure game. It has been a literal hell of a ride with some of the most terrible decisions I have ever had to make in a game. Was the final chapter a fitting end though? There will be unavoidable spoilers here, will try to keep them to a minimum!

With your young ward Clementine kidnapped at the end of Chapter 4 this one is all about rescuing her. Lee is a desperate man with nothing to loose, all that matters now is finding Clem, and Lee will do anything to make that happen.  Going into this chapter it is apparent there can be no happy ending, especially judging by the awful things that have happened previously. I found myself burning with righteous anger at the kidnapper yet still found the wind blown out my sails somewhat when the confrontation occurred. The choices you have made throughout the series come back to haunt you and you are given the chance to make peace with characters you may have fallen out with before.

Issues again reared their ugly head here with slow down and frame skipping. One decision I was asked to make was destroyed by juddering which meant I was not able to choose a dialogue option in time, quite frustrating but at least it was a thankfully minor thing and not something hugely important.

No Time Left is a much shorter chapter than the previous ones, I believe it took me around an hour to do. There are not many calm moments as your mission is ever present. I played Lee like how I would have liked to act in his situation, sure I made some hard choices but I don't regret a thing. This time around puzzles are kept to a minimum, the ones you do have are all based on progression.

The music for this chapter is fantastic, the best yet, from sorrowful to sad, and even a Western style tune that plays through a key moment of the chapter reminding me of Desperado. Story wise this did make me cry, it was a very sad end but has also been left open. I don't know if it was always the intent to leave questions open, or if it was a result of the popularity that has ensured a Season 2. I would like the next Season to feature a completely new cast of characters rather than continue on from the end point here as the open ended nature of the ending felt quite fitting.

There really is not much to say, if you have been playing the chapters up to this point then this is totally essential. A great end to a great game.


Wednesday, 28 November 2012

The Eschatrilogy (2012) - Zombie Horror Film Review

The first film I saw at Day of the Undead 2012 was The Eschatrilogy. At first I thought this was going to be 3 short films, but it is instead in a Tales from the Crypt style of one main story and three mini interconnecting ones.

An ancient evil awakens from the earth, with him comes zombie apocalypse, everywhere he goes the zombies follow. This supernatural terror will ensure no human escapes the ravage plague sweeping the lands. In this land a lone survivor is holding out in the mountains. A stranger appears, carrying with him a book that tells tales of the zombie apocalypse. One tale is of a zombified man searching for his daughter, one has a young man on a mission to get to his parents, the last is about a man who will do anything to protect his son.

There are lots and lots of zombies in this film, around 700 I believe. The director Damien Morter stated how many of the cast were family and friends, and unfortunately it does show as some of the acting is truly terrible with people sounding like they are reading from a script they have never seen before. The child actors all do that hideous over acting technique thing where they over emphasize words and sound unnatural.

The zombies themselves are for the most part sparsly made up, this is a great thing, I don't know what it is about sloppily done zombies but I love it, makes it feel more like a proper zombie film, there are so many as well that the sense of being completely doomed runs rampant. Some great effects are used at times, in particular I remember when someone got their face pulled off (I think) which looked great.

For a low budget film it really does look great, the directing is also very well done. The surviving humans all look scummy, a great choice of actors were used for these characters, not so much the main ones. The Dad in the third story was giving off a Swedish vibe for some reason which was off putting for a story set in Britain, while the large zombie obsessed with finding his daughter was kinda funny rather than tragic. The funniest character by far was some meat headed man whose son got killed after he failed to punch a horde to death. Believed dead he reappears later on covered in bite marks, ready to fight the hero of story 2, a very funny moment. The stories are interconnected but only really in the way that the same zombies keep showing up which fits with the supernatural cause of the outbreak

This is a hard one, I did really enjoy this film, there are many, many far worse zombie films, it's just that I never cared about the hero's of the film at all, I never rooted for them. I am not sure if the film is supposed to be serious or if it is an accidental comedy. For zombie action though there is a lot of fun to be had. I love the idea of a supernatural figure leading the undead, one who knows where any remaining survivors are and can find them where ever they hide.

The Eschatrilogy is definitely a zombie film you should see, it is a lot better than the Meat Markets, and other low budget films of that type. The acting may be wooden, the plot may be uninspired but it gets zombies right, hordes of shambling flesh hungry creeps are here in abundance and for that Morter should be commended.


Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Secular Quarter #3 - Sci-fi Short

Quite a while ago this was brought to my attention, I am ashamed to say I have only just gotten around to watching it (especially ashamed as it is just over two minutes long!). Secular Quarter #3 was a semi-finalist in YouTube's Your Film Festival (sponsored by Ridley Scott). Created by David Gidali it is set in Jerusalem in 2111 where the areas of the city are bisected by giant steel walls keeping the different populations separate. Giant steel mesh keeps the landmarks and buildings protected from missile attacks. Off world intervention changes all that one fateful evening...

Monday, 26 November 2012

Metro 2033 by Dmitry Glukhovsky - Horror Book Review

Metro 2033 was originally a Russian book released in 2005, it has been translated into many languages with the English language version being released in 2010 to coincide with the release of the game. Interestingly Glukhovsky preferred a videogame of Metro 2033 over a film adaptation. Anyway, I digress, I am not the best at book reviews, having not done many, I will try my best though.

Metro 2033 takes place around 20 years after nuclear Armageddon has destroyed the surface world. Artyom lives at VDNKh; a station on the edge of the Moscow Metro. Beings known as Dark Ones have begun attacking the station. It is feared that if they over run VDNKh then the whole Metro will be in peril. A Stalker named Hunter gives Artyom a special mission. He is to head to the heart of the Metro to the legendary station Polis and alert them to the dire situation with the Dark Ones. Having never been far from his home station this is a huge undertaking for the young man, and one that will lead him on a path of adventure, horror, and self discovery.

It is hard to write about this book without comparing it to the game. The world of the Metro is a place with not much hope. The game has you fighting many many hundreds of mutants and monsters, the book for at least two thirds is far more calm and at times reads like an essay. The meaning of life, religion, politics all are looked into deeply, sometimes many pages dedicated to Artyoms inner thoughts as he de-constructs the belief system, the sense of nationality and free will. On his travels he comes across many different ideologies; the fourth Reich (Nazi's), the people of the Red Line (Communists), as well as cults (such as the Children of the Worm) and more normal, but no less troubling faiths.

At times Artyoms travel seems less like a story, and more like an excuse to look into these different beliefs. He is railroaded from one set piece to a next, always some miraculous event saving him from the many times he is captured. His character states he does not believe in destiny and that free will persists yet he has changed these thoughts by the books end. One particular fourth wall breaking moment had him wondering if he was just a character in a book, unknowingly following the plot of an author, which of course he is!

The Metro is a place of tales, paranormal activity and surrealness. A lot of the book is dedicated to gossip and stories various characters have, all for the most part are interesting, and often downright creepy such as the story of a Satanic cult which believe they are on the gates of Hell and so kidnap people to dig downwards to open up the way to Hell. Others talk of a secret second Metro line where Angel type beings silently monitor the inhabitants of the world. The Metro is compared to Purgatory, to a dream, to a punishment for all mankind. There are many ghostly encounters through the story; ghost trains, mysterious voices, visions and a really interesting look back on World War II that has the Russian Red Star actually being a pentagram used to summon demons with which to fight the Nazis and their magic.

So much happens throughout the book that it never has time to get boring. It is quite sedate (apart from bursts of random violence) until towards the end when far more action occurs once Artyom gets topside and is hunted by the various mutants of the wasteland. I have gone back to play through the game after reading this book and surprised how much of an action game it actually is when my opinion before hand was that it was more low key.

A well translated book and I will definitely be picking up the sequel (Metro 2034). Be aware this is not a happy book and has a massive, massive downer of an ending, one that even though I already knew what it was (due to the game) left me speechless with it's powerful impact. An essential book to read, a modern classic.


Sunday, 25 November 2012

The Herbaliser ft. Teenburger - March of the Dead Things (Night of the Necromantics) - Zombie Music Video

Zombies always seem to go well in music videos, there has been quite a few in recent years, obviously starting back in the 80's with Thriller. The music is rap which is not the genre I like but regardless of that this was a great video with a rap about the walking dead.

In Canada to make a music video The Herbaliser's shoot comes under attack by zombies. Thinking it would make for a great video they set out to record their song 'March of the Dead Things' within zombie Armageddon with mixed results. Quite funny, and not a bad song either!

Saturday, 24 November 2012

To The Dirt (2012) - Short Film Review

To The Dirt is a short film (23 minutes long) written and directed by Drew Bourdet. It stars Jeramy Blackford as Nate and Robert Prestor as Eli.

Nate and Eli are two hillbilly brothers living out on their own in the woods of America. Eli is a mute and retarded so is up to Nate to care for him. One day while out in the woods he discovers a corpse of a girl washed up on a river bank. Not wanting to leave the girl to rot he brings her body home.

My expectations for what this film would turn into were vastly wrong, I was expecting bad things to happen, I caught myself being prepared for twists which never came. This isn't a horror film in the traditional sense, it is sad, the loneliness of Nate with only his mute brother for company is really shown through the muted colours, the soundtrack and use of light and shade. Eli spends his days punching a straw man hung up by a shed, obviously with problems but Nate himself is shown to not be of sound mind either. Talking to the corpse he comes to befriend it in his mind. The lack of any sort of companionship is telling, from the pictures of females cut out of magazines stuck on his bedroom wall, to the way he wants the corpse to look pretty, even going as far as to stick plasters over the stab wounds on her chest; you get a real sense of his aching loneliness.

With these types of films the acting can really make or break the experience, here Blackford and Prestor both excel, Blackford having the only dialogue in the film, and being the main focus really shines giving a pathos to the character he portrays, you can't help but feel for him. Prestor on the other hand is perfectly cast as the childlike Eli.

To The Dirt is a poignant, sad and thoughtful film which takes a macabre plot and turns it on its head into something beautiful.  I am glad it defied my expectations, it would have been all too easy to go down a horror route.


Friday, 23 November 2012

Deck Z: The Titanic by Chris Pauls and Matt Solomon - Zombie Horror Book Review

I have never seen the film Titanic so I was quite interested to read an account of how it came to sink, albeit one with added zombies. I read this book cover to cover in two days, though rather annoyingly finishing the book coincided with my Internet being cut off.

Everyone knows that the Titanic sunk on its maiden voyage, what people don't know is that a giant secret was covered up along with the sinking of the vessel.  Theodor Weiss; a German scientist is on the run from the German military after he discovers a virus that can turn the most gentle person into a savage monster impervious to pain or reason. The military want the virus to use as a biological weapon, Weiss hopes to flee to America where he can make a cure for the natural disease. Unfortunately for him and the other people of the Titanic there is a German agent on board who corners Weiss and takes the vial containing the virus. The inevitable soon happens and an outbreak of zombies starts to occur. Weiss teaming up with the crew of the Titanic must find a way to not only contain the outbreak, but also to locate the missing vial.

Deck Z: The Titanic is a great zombie book, I must admit I was surprised with how much of a real page turner it was. This is helped by really short chapters, at most around five or six pages, some not even a page long. Each chapter starts with a heading giving the location the chapter takes place in as well as the time it takes place. This gives a great sense of progression.

Doing some research after reading it I was surprised to see that a number of real life people are included in the tale including the ships Captain Edward Smith, White Starline's Chairman J.Bruce Ismay, and even the naval architect Thomas Andrews. I thought this was real cool, if a bit of an insult to the memories of these real people being used in such a strange context. That's not to say I don't approve, it gave the events more of a realistic feeling, and I have heard it say Captain Smith was portrayed poorly in the film, here he is pretty much the hero of the piece, armed with a sword dispatching zombies throughout, so redeemed. Bookending the story are two chapters based in modern day, a good addition even if it does lead to a predictable twist ending.

The zombies here are of the flesh eating kind, slow shambling, dumb hordes and quite gruesomely described, one part where a parade of zombies were getting chopped up in a giant fan was a highlight.  The characters are a hotch potch of stereotypes and deeper characters. Set in 1912 the sensibilities and opinions of the characters are different than the norm, the old setting brought some freshness to the genre. Main character Weiss is deeply flawed, others such as young girl Lou and Smith are more likable and given personality often lacking in these types of books.

Kinda a spoiler here but I was expecting the Titanic sinking to be a huge part of the book, but when this event occurs it is already over two thirds of the way through the story and dealt with really quite briefly. After the horror of a zombie outbreak aboard a ship, the sinking of the ship almost seems like a welcome relief to the characters trapped there.

Well written, simple yet entertaining I would really recommend this book, a decent zombie book with real life facts giving it a neat twist.


Thursday, 22 November 2012

Day of the Undead 2012 - 6th Annual Festival of Zombie Culture

Last Saturday I went to Day of the Undead at Leicester. This is a yearly zombie event that has 12 hours of zombies films as well as loads of stalls, and apparently videogames (unconfirmed as could not find them there).

Turning up fashionably late at around 18:30 (it started at 12:00) I was immediately a bit lost, lots of people wondering around, even more zombies, in fact upon entering the place I nearly walked into an awesome looking zombie who had a giant pole going through his chest and sticking out the back. He not only looked the part (even with creepy contact lenses) but also acted the part, lurching around groaning the entire night.

Anyway after some lost wandering I went in to hear a talk from Charlie Higson (of The Fast Show fame). He writes young adult zombie books, I never realised this till recently, and have yet to read them but he was interesting, and it was cool seeing a famous person.

Next was a film called The Eschatrilogy which had a Tales of the Crypt type formula of three different stories tied together by a main storyline. Thoughts here are that despite the low budget (£15,000)  it looked great, and was well shot. The zombies were of the slow walking kind and mostly had a slap dash Romero style look to them (makeup down to the neckline only then just normal under that) I love the rough look in zombie films, who needs vast make up effects. Land of the Dead proved well made up zombies just look terrible. Acting was very bad for the most part but I enjoyed it even if the Blu-Ray the film was being shown on was broken so the last 5 minutes of the film were not shown. Zombie Ed had to sum up the end for the audience who were not impressed. It really did ruin the film a bit to be honest.

Next a whole heap of prize winners were announced (apparently raffle tickets were around, I never saw any of these, maybe due to turning up late but wish I had got some as there were lots and lots of winners of some cool horror prizes). As a side note there were some great horror stands selling lots of zombie books, DVD's and other stuff. Due to having no money I never looked at these stands in too much detail as would have wanted everything! David Moody; my favourite zombie author was there but I was A) too shy to speak to him B) Had no money to buy any of his stuff anyway, and C) Only just realised he was the guy behind the David Moody stall (assumed he was too famous to be hanging there all day!).

The next film on was Gangsters, Guns, and Zombies which was a comedy. I will just say this is one of the funniest zombie films I have ever seen, the whole audience were laughing out loud, it really was hilarious despite a loud mouthed, drunken Welshman sitting behind me angrily complaining all film about how he couldn't understand why people were laughing at it. Maybe a bit over long but a very well made film, acting also of a high standard here to boot.

The final film I planned to see was Cockneys VS Zombies unfortunately it was running late and was not going to start till after midnight, too late for me who was really quite tired by that point and had a drive home to do. I did see two episodes of Bumbloods a short zombie comedy series. It was funny but nowhere near as much as the Gangsters film was. I will doing a post on that soon also as the makers contacted me last month about it.

Next year I plan to actually have money when going, and also to make a day of it rather than just an evening. Photos next year as well! Zombie Ed is so passionate about zombies, he was the glue that held the event together. First saw him at Zombie Fest 2007 (I think) he is a funny and genuinely nice guy. So Day of the Undead seemed to be a resounding success, can't wait till next time! From the few films I saw I was really impressed with the quality of them. Zombie films are so easy to make terrible, these were not remotely that.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Creepy Cola - Horror Themed Fizzy Drink Review

I am back! After a pleasant week and a half holiday from my blog I am energised and ready to blog like I have never blogged before (ok, so it wasn't actually a holiday per se, more a forgetting to pay my Internet bill type of thing).

Another Halloween inspired re-design for an everyday product. After the all too real horrors of Spooky Singles I once again headed into the breach and gave this drink a go to see if it is also scary.

I was brought up on sugar free drinks, so to this day cannot abide drinks with sugar in them. This drink is crammed full of sugar, I had it about two hours ago but my teeth are still aching from being coated in the liquid. Barr drinks are corner shop mana at affordable prices, but just too damn sweet! I think it actually made me more thirsty.

So to sum up; Not creepy, the price isn't spooky good value and unless something weird snaps in my brain pan I shall not be having nightmares about this drink tonight.


Monday, 12 November 2012

World War Z - Zombie Horror Film Trailer

I had almost forgotten this film was being made. I never liked the Max Brooks book World War Z, I found it a bit boring to be honest. Brad Pitt stars in the film version, he is a great actor so I do have hopes for this. Kinda reminded me of The War of the Worlds but hopefully it wont be terrible like that film. I do love how the zombies seem almost like an unliving tidal wave, swarming everywhere in a really weird looking way!

Sunday, 11 November 2012

The Walking Dead Episode 4: Around Every Corner - Zombie Horror Videogame Review (X-Box Live Arcade)

Around a month ago the 4th episode in Telltales amazing Walking Dead adventure series was released, last night I sat down and played through it. I always play through each episode in one sitting, it feels like that is how they are supposed to be played. While episode 1 was about discovery, 2 about horror, and 3 about loss, this episode seems to be about tension.

Having arrived at Savannah at the end of Episode 3 you and your motley group are determined to find a boat with which to leave on. Between you and the docks though lies a City full of the undead. But the zombies are not the only things to worry about as there seems to be a human threat who is determined you will not escape.

This episode is far more action orientated, many times throughout the two and a half hour playing time you will be called upon to take out approaching hordes of zombies. One thing this brought to be was how Lee's gun he fires never needs reloading, it seems to have infinite ammo which ruins the suspense a bit. Most of these shooting galleries sees you in first person mode aiming a very twitchy gun in the direction of the hordes, some slow down and jerking motions led to me dying completely unfairly a few times during these.

Around Every Corner also has quite a few traditional adventure style puzzles, one in the sewers in particular was very old school in feeling. This is still far more of a story focused game than actual puzzles but was a nice reminder of where the game evolved from.

The Walking Dead always succeeds at forcing you to make horrible decisions, while they are still here they are not as harrowing as ones in previous episodes. They are still for the most part hard to make though and again this is down to the characters. The relationship between Lee and his ward Clementine is again wonderfully shown, and again makes you as the player really want to protect the little girl in a way few games can. A mid point that had an increasingly distressed Lee searching his safe house for Clem was so well done that I myself was getting really worried for her safety.

Story wise the hook at the end of 3 is not explored, instead it takes a back seat to a plot involving a mini totalitarian state and the people resisting it. Reminded me a lot of the Governor storyline in the comics though here it is dealt with quite briefly. A lot of new characters are introduced and just as quickly taken away again while as always everyone seems to be open to quick departures. There are only a few characters left from episode 1's large group and while feeling you know them is good all the new characters are so unknown that it is hard to ever care about them so I think that removes a lot from the emotional impact.

Around Every Corner had a structure to it, a beginning, middle and end yet unlike the other episodes the story is not finished, it ends halfway through almost like it is just a prelude to the likely to be thrilling depressing main story. What this episode does manage to do is create a sense of creeping dread, the music, the shadowy figure watching from the sidelines all create a tension that really doesn't lead up to anything. Despite all that though it does dump you off at a point where if you are invested in the game there is no way you can not play Episode 5. I myself cannot wait.