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.