Monday, July 31, 2006

Horror of Horrors!

The Doctor is in a foul black mood.

Mrs. Zombie made me go to the doctor a week or so ago because, despite being an evil, undead scientist; I'm also turning 36 in a few weeks. And, as I'm a fat bastard, I needed a general check to make sure everything is going well.

I should preface this by saying that I did this same thing when I turned 30. I was told at that time that my liver had elevated function and, although I don't really drink that much now... I somehow damaged it when I was in college and drinking everyday. This was compounded by the fact that I didn't really drink much beer at the time - - it was all hard liquor. Add to the fact that I went to school within an hour's drive of the Indiana border where an enterprising college student could get gallons of Everclear (190 proof grain alcohol!!!) with little to no problem (Mmmmm...hairy buffalo....).

So, I went to the doctor this weekend to discuss the results of my tests and, guess what. I have pushed my poor abused liver to the limits of its tolerance.

I am no longer allowed to drink. At all.

Let me say that again. I AM NO LONGER ALLOWED TO DRINK!!!

No tasty microbrews, no frothy adult beverages, no Guinness. Dear sweet god, I'm not allowed to drink Guinness! I'm Irish for chrissakes!!! How am I not to drink Guinness?!? And you can be damned sure that Mrs. Zombie has put the screws to me and put her pretty foot down about drinking. Some silly nonsense about "seeing my kids grow up" and "walking my 5 year old daughter down the aisle someday".


Yes indeed. The doctor is in a foul black mood. I will be out tonight - in the inhumanly hot weather - stalking someone, anyone, on which to take out my anger. I warn you, dear reader, if you hear a knocking at your door in the darkest loneliest hours of the night; look before you answer. It might be me, and I've got my blood stained doctor's bag with all of my bright, pretty, sharp things within. I've things that stab, and gouge, and cut deeply into the flesh of my victims.

Pray I don't stop by.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Some thoughts and links...

I wanted to add some thoughts on my post from yesterday regarding H.P. Lovecraft, As I sort of feel like I didn't properly explain my love for his works.

As I said yesterday, Lovecraft is, in my humble opinion, one of the greatest writers from the 20th century; and quite possible one of the greatest horror writers to have ever laid blood soaked pen to paper. Lovecraft was a writer from Providence RI who contributed heavily to the early horror and sci-fi pulps of the 20's, 30's, and 40's. Such great classic magazines as Amazing Stories and Weird Tales were graced by his eerie, fantastic tales. Most of today's horror writers, including Stephen King, Ramsay Campbell, Dean Koontz, and Clive Barker have all espoused a love for Lovecraft's works; as well as honest admissions that he has been an undeniable influence on their own fiction.

I first discovered the deliciously horrible worlds and creatures of Lovecraft in high school. I was in a health class in the ninth grade, reading a copy of Tolkien’s The Hobbit when this large guy next to me saw it and freaked out. He was excited because he had found another geek like himself. You see, we geeks have a way of sensing one another. It’s like there’s some strange geek pheromone that causes us to seek one another out. The guy’s name was Sean and he would become one of my best friends (and a man I still consider a brother to this day.) He asked me if I’d ever role-played. I shrugged, saying I’d done some basic D&D in junior high school, and had wanted to play more, but the guys I played with weren’t at all serious about it.

Sean thumped a meaty hand on his desk, wrote down his address and phone number and immediately invited me over to his house to play a game called Call of Cthuhlu. I asked him what the heck it was and, more importantly how in the hell one spelled Cthulhu. He said it was an awesome game and gave me an explanation about monsters, and twenties and thirties pulp fiction, and cults that quite frankly went over my head. The next day, Sean slid me two photocopied stories. One was The Hound of Tindalos by August Derleth, and the other was The Doom That Came To Sarnath, by H.P. Lovecraft. Even then I considered myself a writer and I can remember the giddy thrill upon reading the archaic, yet beautifully written words of Lovecraft. I went on that weekend to play Call of Cthulhu.

It was there that I met my other brothers - Jason and Curt - and it was in Sean’s attic; sitting around a scarred and tilted rattan table, the flicker of candles dancing on the ceiling, and whilst drinking Cherry Coke and eating Cool Ranch Doritoes; that I fell in love with role playing and the works of Lovecraft.

I still have a deep love for the works of the great Howard Phillips Lovecraft. In fact, I so love Lovecraft that I’m torn between using his works for either my Master’s or Doctoral thesis.

If you've never read anything by Lovecraft, Doctor Zombie commands you to click this link and begin reading the wonderous words and chilling evil that is H.P. Lovecraft. Don't make me pull out my mind control ray!


Some other thoughts/news:

I've been contacted by Anchor Bay Entertainment again and asked to do a review of a new direct to video movie for them. There's a banner for it on the left there. It's called The Tooth Fairy. Once I receive a copy. I'll review it and let you know if it's worth seeing...

Here's an update on Night of The Living Dead 3-d. I've got to say, I'm starting to get kind of excited about this...

Also, another movie that shows I am a complete and total nerd has begun production! Dragonlance: The Movie. And yes, I spent an entire summer in high school role playing this at my buddy Sean's house. Seriously. My other friend Rich ran Dragonlance as an Ad&D campaign and we started playing in April or May. We spent the entire rest of the year living in Krinn. We would seriously go to Sean's on Friday night; load up on Cool Ranch Doritoes, Pork Rinds, Bar B Q Pringles, Root Beer NY Seltzer, and Cherry Coke; play all night; get a few hours of sleep; go to our high school jobs; and go back to Sean's to repeat the process. We'd come home sunday night to the anger of our parents, gassy and bleary from lack of sleep. God I miss that...

Since when did collecting body part become wrong?!? Damn PC police...

Here you go, the perfect anti-zombie set up, ready to go and assembled. Fortunately for Dr. Zombie and my undead minions it's really, really expensive!

Check out this site! For all your pirate needs, it's Billy Bone's Pirate Locker. Remember, all little boys want to be pirates... and we never really outgrow that when we become men! Besides, I absolutely love that intro page pirate song! Arrrr!

And finally, this is allegedly a list of most of the zombie movies ever made. It has some obvious and recent films missing, but it is a valiant effort. If anything, it would be a good source to cross check with in my quest to own and see every zombie film ever made...

That's all for now, dear reader. I must shamble back to the Theater of Terror and check on some of my more recent experiments. They've been waiting for me to return. Ahhhh...the smell of blood, and death, and terror is like the smell of warm cookies in the air...

Monday, July 24, 2006

Movie Review: Necronomicon (1996)

I was flipping channels a few nights ago and saw that Showtime was playing Necronomicon this month. Necronomicon was released in 1996 and, although old, it is a movie I hadn't seen yet. And, since I went to the trouble of watching it, I thought I'd do a review...

Now, the whole Showtime thing is a source of contention in my crypt. Showtime comes with the HBO package and, in most cases, it’s absolute crap. Showtimes series' suck (with the exception of Penn and Teller: Bullshit) and they usually have the crappiest movies.

So, you can imagine my surprise when I found that they were playing a Brian Yuzna/Jeffrey Combs film I had yet to see. So, I DVR’d it and watched it this last weekend.

Now, let the good Doctor preface this review with my take on the works of H.P. Lovecraft. Lovecraft is, in my humble opinion, one of the greatest writers form the 20th century. Seriously. And, beyond that, I feel he is one of the greatest horror writers to have ever lived. And many other horror writers; including Ramsay Campbell, Stephen King, Clive Barker, and endless others have also said as much. It could be said that he is responsible for many of the nightmares and horrors produced over the last 60 or so years.

So, with that circuitous explanation, I have to say that I am something of a purist with Lovecraft’s work. The movies that have been done based on his work have left me somewhat wanting. Yuzna’s first collaboration with Jeffrey Combs in Herbert West: Reanimator was one of the better adaptations. 2001’s Dagon was by far the best.

Most of the other’s, sadly, sucked major ass.

Unfortunately, Necronomicon falls pretty close to the category of ass suckage. This movie includes three vignettes around which The Necronomicon plays a part. The Necronomicon, by the way, was created by Lovecraft and represents the most evil book ever conceived. Supposedly written by the mad Arab, Abdul Alhazrad; it is the grimoire du jour of Lovecraft’s mythos. The three vignettes of the movie are book ended by an incredulous story about Lovecraft himself. To say that the stories were ‘inspired’ by Lovecraft is to be generous.

Let’s start with the framing story. Jeffrey Combs (whom I LOVE, by the way) is unrecognizable in makeup that is supposed to make him look like Lovecraft. In fact, if not for Combs’ distinctive voice, I would never have recognized him. It actually, oddly enough, gives him an almost eerie resemblance to Bruce Campbell. Anyway, the movie opens with Lovecraft going to a special library watched over by creepy bald headed monks. It is here that he sneaks into a secret area where he gains access to the dreaded Necronomicon. As Lovecraft explains, he sees it as his responsibility to bring the evil of the Necronomicon to light in his writings. As he accidentally locks himself in the room, he begins transcribing the three stories the rest of the movie consist of.

“The Drowned” – Loosely based on “The Rats in The Walls” in that its protagonist shares the last name of De La Poeur only. That’s about it. Bruce Payne (Best remembered as Passenger 57 in, well, Passenger 57) plays Edward De La Poeur who returns to his ancestral inn by the ocean. Having recently suffered the drowning death of his wife, he stays in the decrepit manor. The lawyer who shows him around tells the story of his ancestor, the sea captain Jethro (played by the incomparable Richard Lynch) who killed himself after the drowning of his wife and son during a stormy sea crossing. Through a letter left to his descendant, Jethro explains that he had gone mad after the loss of his family and had forsaken God. At his darkest moment, a Deep One (a frog-like creature featured in another HPL story) comes to him with a copy of the Necronomicon and an admonition that all is not necessarily lost. Jethro calls upon the dark magics of the dreaded book to bring his wife and son back from the grave. Jethro quickly learns that the reanimated corpses of his wife and son are not as they appear. When they try to kill him, Jethro kills himself. We then flash back to modern day, and Edward immediately searches for and finds the book, and performs the very same ritual. His wife returns from the grave and we learn that she, like Edward’s ancestors, are in fact human meat puppets wielded by a Lovecraftian creature that lives in the basement of the inn. I kid you not. It appears to be Cthulhu himself. Edward has a brief struggle, eventually killing the beast by a conveniently placed and wickedly pointy chandelier. The first story ends with Edward staring wistfully at a sunrise over the ocean.

“Cold Air” – This is the best of the adaptations in this movie. It is a modernization of HPL story “Cool Air”. A reporter goes to a house to question a woman there about a string of deaths over the years at the house. She tells him the story of her mother, a music student named Emily who rents a room at the boarding house in the 60’s. Emily meets the owner who lives on the top floor, a Dr. Madden (played by the great David Warner). We quickly learn that Dr. Madden is not what he seems. He lives in a room kept at arctic temperatures by various machines and is waited on hand and foot by a woman named Lena. After an attempt on Emily’s life by her sexually and physically abusive stepfather, she is saved by Dr. Madden. Any gratitude she might feel towards the good doctor quickly evaporates when she returns to find that the good and kind doctor has killed her stepfather and is using him for grisly experiments. When confronted, the doctor explains that he has come up with a scientific way of stopping death and aging, but at the cost of becoming a prisoner to the extreme cold that maintains his youth. The cold, and spinal fluid sustain his youth. Emily then SLEEPS with him. She becomes pregnant, and returns a few months later to find the doctor cutting up a kind old man who worked at the diner near the house. After stopping him, there is a struggle with the housekeeper Lena, who is jealous of Emily and the Doctor’s love. The doctor overheats, and melts. Emily is shot. The story returns to present time where the daughter reveals she is actually Emily, that she is still pregnant with the Doctor’s baby and hopes to someday deliver it. The reporter falls to the floor, drugged by tea she had offered him. His last sight is that of Emily and an aged and doddering Lena as they come to steal his spinal fluid and kill him.

“Whispers” – This section is based on “the Whisperer in the Darkness” and shares only the creatures (the Migos) with the Lovecraft story. In it we meet the world’s worst female cop, Sarah, as she and her lover/partner are chasing a serial killer named “The Butcher”. Their cruiser crashes and, while unconscious, The Butcher drags Sarah’s partner Paul into a labyrinthine warehouse. Sarah regains consciousness and begins pursuing the killer, following an extremely wide trail of blood deeper and deeper into the warehouse’s bowels. After much Three Stooges like stumbling about, Sarah runs into the owners of the warehouse, Mr. Benedict (played with great humor and aplomb by Return of the Living Dead’s own embalmer Ernie, or Don Calfa) and his wife Mrs. Benedict. Sarah forces Mr. Benedict to take her to The Butcher’s Lair and he does so, leading her into an underground tomb with ancient Indian pictographs. Too late, Sarah realizes that the Benedicts are the killers, but not before they cast her into a pit filled with human remains. Here, she is attacked by Migos, creatures that reproduce by stealing and using the brains of their victims and feed by sucking the marrow from their bones.

The movie ends with the conclusion of the bookend it started with in which Lovecraft must – using his trusty sword cane - fight his way past an evil creature, the even more evil monks, and out the door with the Necronomicon to a waiting cab.

So – what worked in this movie? The effects were good, to an extent. In The Drowned, there was some horrible painted-on-the-film glowing effects during the ritual. The same sort of effect that, truthfully, would have looked dated on a movie or rock video ten years earlier. Also, the creature effects were puppet like, which is unfortunately more noticeable in today’s world of clean and polished CGI. Ray Harryhausen was a genius, but computers made him obsolete. Take that as you will, but it’s true. The other effects, like the melting of Dr. Madden, and the beautifully rendered blood and charnel pit in Whispers were top notch and should appeal to all gore hounds. The scripts left something to be desired. Modernizing of Lovecraft’s works are inevitable and acceptable. I understand that. But some faithfulness to the source beyond a cursory mention should be the goal here, especially in a movie that so patently derives from his works. Truthfully, Whispers sucked. The story was horrible, and with the exception Of Don Calfa, the acting was something I would expect from a film school production. Cold Air was better, but I felt a love story in a Lovecraft story was the wrong way to go. Cthulhu and the Elder Gods care not for human love!

The first vignette, The Drowned, was the best of the bunch, but again, the scripting suffered. This would have made a great feature length movie. It had the right atmosphere, and the strongest Lovecraftian elements, along with the best actors. I would have loved to have seen more development before the quick summoning and subsequent killing of the evil that lurks in the basement.

One final thing that irks me is the whole Lovecraft bookend story. Lovecraft as some sort of sword wielding, adventuring Indiana Jones was downright silly. Those know anything about Lovecraft would know that he was a hypochondriac, agoraphobic, recluse. NOT the type to fight the mythos of his stories. He was a genteel writer with delicate sensibilities. I just wanted to mention that.

Overall, it wasn’t the worst Lovecraft adaptation, but it was nowhere near the best. It was disappointing that Combs and Yuzna, who’ve done so much to put Lovecraft’s works on celluloid, would release such a poorly put together film. It was obvious that this was a fun, “Hey, we need a paycheck!” situation. That being said, it IS still Lovecraft. It should be seen if only by fans of the genre. The effects were decent, the stories passable, if poorly written, and it is standard late night popcorn fare. If you need a horror fix, it will be a better choice than many of the other direct to video car wrecks out there.

Doctor Zombie’s Rating: 3 out of 5 Chomped Brains

Note: Doctor Zombie would give one of his rotting, undead limbs to see a big budget, non-modern, fatihful Lovecraft movie. With REAL effects. It's sad tha the two best potrayals of Lovecraft's works weren't truly Lovecraft films. The first was John Carpenter's In The Mouth Of Madness as it perfectly captured the feel and creepiness of Lovecraft's world. And the best rendering of a Lovecraftian creature can be found in Guillermo Del Toro's Hellboy. The creatures in Hellboy gave me chills and made me squirm in my seat. These guys both get it, as does Peter Jackson. There are rumors he'd love to do "At The Mountains Of Madness". Please. Make it so, Pete. Please!

Monday, July 10, 2006


So - - my kid sister's getting married this fall. My future brother in law's pretty cool. He's into The Simpson's, horror flicks (although he has questionable taste in that area - he's actually spoken positively about some of the cinematic abortions of Uwe Boll, and really liked AvP), and can extensively quote movies, much like the good Doctor can (which, pleasantly enough, pisses both Mrs. Zombie and my sister off to no end). He's also a fan of the Guinness and any man who loves the Irish frothy goodness of Guinness is a good man in my eyes.

Anyway, this last weekend was the bachelor party. We spent the weekend at a couple of rented cabins at Put-in-Bay. For those who don't know, Lake Erie has several islands. Put-In-Bay is on one of them. Essentially, it's this quaint little island with a few really great bars and beautiful lake views. It's also a summer play area for the rich, college students, and anybody else who is into drinking large amounts of alcohol and just hanging out. So, needless to say, it was a weekend of drunken debauchery with little redeeming value. I went up with my dad and my uncle and we started drinking on the ferry ride over on Friday and didn't really stop until we left Sunday morning.

Also, some perspective should be given. There were twenty-five guys total. Of those twenty-five guys, three were over 40 (my dad, my future brother-in-law's dad, and my Uncle Tom), a handful in our 30's (this included me) and the rest were all in their 20's. Only five of us were married.

Here's what I learned:

- When you're on the wrong side of 30, you get grouped up with the 'old guys'.
- Every group of friends has that one guy who, while barely tolerable sober, is a complete ass when drunk. This dubious honor fell on one guy named Meyers. Meyers came back from the bars at 2:30 am, staggering, slurring, and looking to fight anyone or anybody. It's only a matter of time until he pisses someone off and gets beat down because he lacks the motor control to back up his belligerance.
- Golf carts have too high a center of gravity to go around a cul-de-sac at top speed. Their likelihood to tip is further exacerbated by loading said golf cart with eight guys in varying stages of intoxication. Gravity is not your friend when drunk, and neither is gravel in the aforementioned cul-de-sac.
- Additionally, golf carts do not have the necessary ballast to float across the mile or so of Lake Erie to the mainland. In fact, they sink rather quickly; regardless of how much speed you get up before launching into the lake.
- It is possible to get a DUI on a golf cart.
- We had a cabin full of fifteen girls in their 20's next to us. When you get more than two girls together, there is always drama. In fact, I think it is an immutable law of the universe that fifteen girlfriends are incapable of having a good weekend without someone crying, someone being a bitch, and/or someone getting so drunk her friends spend the whole weekend pissed off at her. Guys are much simpler. We drink, we make fools of ourselves, and we pass out. No one fights, no one gets swept up in drama. Even Meyers' foolishness is amusing.
- Fifteen 20ish aged guys will do anything to impress fifteen 20ish aged girls. Until the female drama starts and they start the bitchiness. Then the 20ish guys just hurl mysogynistic insults at the girls. Meyers will go straight to the mysogyny because, in his drunkeness, he thinks, 'the bitshes lub when you tell them dey're shtoopid..".
- The cost to get life-flighted off of the island is between $5000 and $8000.
- Hot college aged girls still won't even LOOK at me. Not that I'd do anything, it'd just be nice. You know?
- Just like when I was in college, there is always one drunken dimwit who manages to puke into the bathroom sink and not bother to clean it up OR take responsibilty for it. Why this happens is a mystery because the toilet is two and a half feet to the left!. I suspect Meyers.
- Two and a half days of non-stop drinking makes me a smelly bastard. I feel bad for the guys who were stuck in my room.
- 20 year old guys can be goaded into surprising acts of stupidity when drinking by simply saying, "I bet you'd never be able to...".
- And, finally, it is never...ever... a good idea to drink an entire bottle of Jameson's and then go all in on the first hand of a $50 buy in game of Texas Hold 'em. Even if you're sure that your off suited 2 and 7 are a sure bet to win. Dammit.