Friday, November 30, 2007

Meatpie, anyone?!?

I have a deep, dark confession to make.

I am a straight, married, horror movie loving, old school Goth and...I love musicals.

I always have. It's something my mother introduced to me as a child and - to this day - I still love musicals.

Of course, being Doctor Zombie, I would be remiss if I didn't also explain that I tend to see the darker side of the entire genre. There is nothing so tragic as what the studio system did to the beautiful and phenomenally talented Judy Garland. Drugs and alcohol made a shambles of her later life, but her voice remained angelic until the end. And how fucking creepy is the end of My Fair Lady when the wispy, fairy-like, gorgeous Audrey Hepburn is embraced and kissed by the old and wrinkled Rex Harrison? I can't watch it without feeling like I'm watching a pedephile move in on the teenage babysitter.

"I'm Chris Hanson with MSNBC. Why don't you have a seat over there. Are you 'enry'"

I think part of what appeals most to me is the sense that musicals were a glimpse into a simpler time. I love musicals in the way that I love Big Band music. They are a slice of American pop culture that date themselves as surely as if one had run a test with carbon-14. And there have been damn few modern musicals that have been done since the golden age that hold a candle to the originals.

But that brings me to why I wrote this post. I love Oklahoma. I love My Fair Lady. I love West Side Story. I love Rogers and Hammerstein. I love all of them... but the composer I love above all others is Stephen Sondheim. And his greatest masterpiece - and my favorite musical - is without a doubt Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.

Imagine my joy when, on our honeymoon, Mrs. Zombie and I found ourselves staying in a hotel in the West End of London on... motherfucking Fleet Street. And imagine the dread Mrs. Zombie must have felt when I explained that my favorite musical was a grisly story of revenge, murder, and cannibalism. And that I was delighted in my dark geekish way at having actually scored a one week stay where my favorite homicidal barber is reputed to have lived.

And - best of all - Sweeney Todd is coming to the big screen. Let's just do a quick geek chic review...

Tim Burton - CHECK!
Johnny Depp - CHECK!
Still a musical - DOUBLE CHECK!

Dear dark Pagan gods - this movie is going to so rock!

Check here for the official site and a deliciously morbid trailer showing Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter in all of their malevolent glory.

I occasionally have moments of deep introspection where I look within myself, shake my own head, and say, "What the fuck is wrong with you?!?"

But then the moment passes, and I head down to my lab in the basement of the Midnight Theater of Terror. A little bit of world domination, evil science, and random torture of zombie minions always sets my shit straight.

Unpleasant dreams, dear reader!

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Some Geeky Linky...

I'll be out of town for the next few days. My Da and I bought some property in Eastern Central Ohio (Woot! I've got a Bug Out Location for when the Zombie Apocalypse happens and you don't! Thhhbbbbtt!!) so I'll be bowhunting and scouting all weekend.

Since I'll be gone for a few days, I've decided to throw up a quick post with an assload of links that have been piling up...

First up, we have info on the new Batman movie: The Dark Knight. All I can say is, "New Batman?!? Oh, God! My pants suddenly fit tighter…" It looks great! Heath Ledger’s take on The Joker looks fan-fucking-tastic. Early reports say that he’s ditched the smarmy, “tee-hee-hee” excess of Nicholson’s performance and is going with a darker, more realistic interpretation. It’s about damn time! Eschewing the cartoonish cavorting of prior Joker incarnations and making The Joker the absolutely batshit sociopath he is is going to be refreshing and so worth it. I’ve goosebumps thinking about it. I tracked down some other links. The first is information on the studio's viral campaign (where the first pics of Ledger’s Joker appeared.) For the record – it’s got to be the coolest viral campaign. Ever. Also I managed to find a craptastic teaser trailer, but it’s a trailer – so quit yer bitchin’!

Of all the superheroes out there, Batman appeals most to my own dark tendencies. I’m not a fan of DC comics, with the exception of The Bats. His tortured psyche, his burning anger, his need to exact vengeance; they all combine to make Batman one of the most complex “heroes” out there. In that vein, I’m a huge fan of Frank Miller’s Dark Knight Returns and The Dark Knight Strikes Again. Miller is the first writer to fully capture the tortured, anger driven, damaged psyche that The Bat had, and Tte newest Christian Bale vehicles finally captures what Batman is all about. Vengeance and Brutal Justice, fuck yeah!

At my heart, I’m a geek who looks at a world through the eyes of a life filled with horror and science fiction. I’m also a writer, so I’m always going to be cursed with a fertile and creative imagination. It’s who I am. And so, when I see articles like this, I immediately begin to compare it with what I’ve read or watched, and think of it in terms of, “How can I write about this?”. Often, I get a story idea and just as quickly discard it, much as I did here. However, I still saw this and had a geeky shiver run up my spine. Is it wrong – while trying not to get ALL H.G. Wells – to secretly wish for some good old fashioned Island of Dr. Moreau type experiments?!? Think about the implications of human/animal chimeras… we’re talking about some seriously cool science fiction stuff here.

Mark this one up as one of those, ‘there-but-for-the-dark-Pagan-gods-go-I!” stories. A horror novelist writes a book on cannibalism, and then proceeds to kill and cook his wife. I don't know why, but stories like this make me smile. Oh wait! I do know...I'm an a moral sociopath with a disturbing sense of humor!

Whoop!Whoop! Red Alert! Red Alert! Forgive me while I wax all Star Trek, but Simon Pegg has been cast in the new Star Trek prequel! Shaun of the Dead is Scotty! I swore, after seeing Star Trek: Nemesis that I wouldn’t be sucked in again. I swore to the very depths of my undead soul that I wouldn’t see another bad Star Trek movie. And then they announced that they were doing a prequel to the original series. My initial thought was that it was going to be Dawson’s Creek with a warp core and phasers set on stun. But, curses, I know I’ll end up going to see it. I can’t fight the inner nerd who gets all excited by the prospect of another Star Trek movie. Damn you, inner geek. And damn you, Gene Roddenberry for making me like this!

Speaking of must see movies, found two trailers for the new I Am Legend with Will Smith. Again, I felt really, “Meh.” about yet another remake of Richard Matheson’s post apocalyptic classic, but I’m starting to come around. This is one of my favorite novels – ever – and I really hope the story doesn’t get lost by the studios and the suits who are putting it together. The trailer does look good though, although I will be unable to resist taking bets with my brothers as to how long it is into the movie before Will Smith looks at a vampire and say, “Aw, He-ells no!”

And, because I’m going hunting, I found a great article about the manliest guns ever. Whereas I don’t necessarily agree with some of the choices, I laughed out loud at the writing. Truth be told, it’s actually a pretty good list of ‘must owns’. Man, I need to go shooting…

Political link! Political link! Beware of Doctor Zombie’s Liberal rage! If you’re a bible thumping conservative who demonizes Liberals and Americans who disagree with the current administration alike, skip to the next paragraph. In fact, if you’re a Bush apologist who thinks Ann Coulter’s a nice girl, stop reading my blog. Bush is a criminal and Ann Coulter’s a filthy whore. And this article scares the hell out of me. What’s absolutely terrifying is that I could see this happening. Interestingly, Musharref just did this in Pakistan and, oddly, the Bush Administration has only issued some half assed, mumbled statements about it being not necessarily a good thing. Does that big-eared, grotesque, buffoon in the White House see himself as King George I of America? And what designs does Darth Cheney have? Chilling.

Now – to end on a high note! Some Doctor Who goodies!!! Look! You can now own your very own remote controlled K9. I want one of these! I want it soooo bad! And, if you’re feeling especially crafty, here’s a recipe from the BBC for a very special cake. I’m going to print this out and hand it to Mrs. Zombie. My birfday’s in a month and, although I had my heart set on either a Scooby-Doo or a Harley Davidson cake, I’ve completely changed my mind. I want a cake that buzzes, “Exterminate!” and “We are the superior beings!”

Unpleasant dreams, dear readers!

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The Curse of the Widow's Peak!

So – I’ve been shaving my head for 4 or 5 years now. I started to shave it at first because I wanted to mitigate the huge amount of gray hair I had, as well as the inevitable baldness that seemed to grow every time I looked in a mirror. As for the gray, I actually started graying at the age of 16. As I understand it, this is squarely the fault of my Irish genes. Premature graying was something I’d always been aware of and accepted as part of aging.

The baldness, though, that was just goddamned unacceptable. In my twenties, I had shoulder length hair that I could pull back into a Brandon Lee from the The Crow topknot or pony tail. I loved my long hair and I regret cutting it. But the thinning made it necessary and, as I went from that to a shorter style, even the shorter style started to look like shit. So, I took to clippering it closer and closer to my skull until I finally said, “Fuck it,” and started shaving it.

So why am I telling you this? Well, because Mrs. Zombie has decided that she wants me to grow my hair again. She’s challenged me to grow my hair out until my birthday – which is like 5 weeks from now. I’ve made half-hearted attempts to grow it probably two or three times since I started shaving, but then I decide I like it shaved and go smooth again.

Funny thing is, I think the balding has slowed or stopped. Now though, I am almost completely gray. I haven’t shaved since last Friday and my head is covered with sparkly, white hairs that make me look significantly older than my 36 years. As I said, I don’t mind the gray, never have, but Mrs. Zombie hates it with a passion. I’ve actually been dying my goatee for her and, before I shaved my head, she made me dye it frequently. And it’s funny really. Most people, when they meet me, think that I’m in my late twenties or maybe thirty at the most. I still – honest to god – get carded at bars. When I don’t dye my goatee though, the gray makes a huge difference in how I’m perceived. It’s odd really.

So I’ve decided I’m going to take Mrs. Zombie up on the challenge – despite the fact that both of us are most likely going to hate it. She’ll hate it because of the gray and how old it will make me look; and I’ll hate it because the ravages of the balding have left me with an unbelievably large forehead and pronounced widow’s peak.

So – and in that vein – let’s take a look at how my hair could turn out. Here a small retrospective of men with widow’s peaks and how they sported them.

The first on the list is Craig T. Nelson. His is a worst case scenario. Notice the clean, unbroken forehead that sweeps back like a manicured snow slope to roughly the middle of the BACK of his head. Mrs. Zombie and I recently watched Blades of Gory and Craig T. was rocking a Michael Bolton-esque ‘bald-in-the-front, long-in-the-back’ party mullet. I suspect this is partially responsible for her challenge because – quite honestly – Mrs. Zombie has strange taste in men… as evidenced by her marrying me. But putting that aside, she also generally only mentions two actors she’d leave me for: George Eades from CSI, and Craig T. Nelson. That’s right; my wife has an unhealthy lust for Craig T. Nelson. I think it’s the whole Coach thing. She’s an ex-jock and something about him stirs up strange passions. I don’t get it.

Next we’re going old school! That’s right, Bela Lugosi. I could only hope to look as good as old Bela. He made women swoon, he made vampires cool, and he did it with a swept back widow’s peak. He didn’t care if he didn’t have Cary Grant’s looks, or Boris Karloff’s acting chops. He swept in with a cape and that cool-as-all-hell Eastern European accent and became a cinematic icon. Of course the heroin probably helped some too…

My mother always tells people that I look like John Travolta. I honestly don’t see it, although I do see some similarities. We’ve both struggled with our weight and he’s got dark hair and dark eye like I do. I could do worse with my own grooming. If Craig T. Nelson is the worst case scenario, John Travolta’s the best. Now that I think of it, it would be pretty fucking hilarious to sport a Vincent Vega from Pulp Fiction cut. If this works out, I’ve got my costume for Halloween next year!

Next we have…um… yeah. Right. Maybe I should get plugs, like Ben Affleck did.

Next we have Stan Lee's interpretation of the uber-widow's peak. I've read Spiderman comics since I was old enough to read and I've always been fascinated by the anatomically mysterious wonders that are Norman and Harry Osbornes' hair. WTF?!? This is just weird! And what are those strange hair ridges? Speed bumps? The really sad and scary thing is that, when I looked in the mirror this morning, the Osborne family hairline was the first thing to pop into my head. Excuse me while I shudder uncontrollably.

Finally, we’ve got the most likely of the outcomes. Although he was an idol of mine growing up, Butch Patrick’s widow’s peak is a bit too much to hope for. You have widow’s peaks, and then you have Eddie Munster’s widow’s peak. This is like Prince Valiant’s cut, or R. Lee Ermey’s flat top. Certain haircuts are iconic. And Butch rocked the widow’s peak like Eddie Van Halen rocked the guitar. Fuck yeah.

Maybe I’ll post some before and after pics… before I promptly cut it all off on Dec 13th.

Friday, November 02, 2007

SciFi Suckfest

Forgive me while I wax all geeky...

So I've been unusually annoyed with the SciFi Channel.

The SciFi Channel, and more specifically, their new series - Flash Gordon.

I'd been psyched about Flash Gordon ever since they'd started promoting it earlier in the year. They'd even managed to score the original Queen song for the promo's. And then I looked upon it and, lo, did it suck...

And I've seen it every week.

"Why have you watched it every week if its so damned crap-tastic?!?" you may be asking.

Well, there's various reasons , and the fact that I've been too lazy to delete it off of my DVR may be the most compelling. But there are other reasons for my pigheaded refusal to stop watching this insipid, vapid excuse for science fiction. Mainly - I keep hoping it will get better. And, like my sex life before I managed to meet a woman who wasn't repulsed by the sight of me naked, I continue to be disappointed.

And much of it can be placed squarely at the doorstep of the SciFi Channel. I have a love/hate relationship with the SciFi Channel. While they sometimes have some great shows, they also happen to have some of the worst fucking movies imaginable. If any movie is touted as a SciFi Channel original movie, run. Run for your very life. Run as though your very soul depended upon it.

In the last year or so, I can think of only one or two of the poorly CGI'd bags of cinematic shit they pass of as "original science fiction" that I actually enjoyed. Surprisingly, neither of these two had an overgrown, monstrous, poorly rendered snake or lizard in them. This is what SciFi Channel has been reduced to. Nameless teen actors in clunky, poorly cobbled together bad remakes of Anaconda - less the visage of a hot Jennifer Lopez in a wet t-shirt or Jon Voight with a bad Spanish accent.

And - for the record - the two films I did like were both Bruce Campbell vehicles - The Man With The Screaming Brain and Alien Apocalypse. They weren't particularly good, but they had Bruce. As Gundown, over at Zombie Squad once wrote:


Amen, brother Gundown. Amen.

So - anyway, why am I so frustrated by the SciFi channel, and Flash Gordon specifically?

Because it sucks. Duh.

Let me enumerate the suckage that it has:

- - While supposedly taking place in Maryland or Virginia - it looks like it was filmed in that old standby - Vancouver, Canada. Yeah, we get that its cheaper to film there. And I don't begrudge the producers saving some money. But for Chrissake's at least say it takes place in Seattle or some other nondescript Pacific Northwestern city. Hint: Maryland does not have Cascade or Rockies-like mountains on the horizon, dumb asses.

- - Flash is no longer a football star. Get this - - he's a marathon runner. And not even a famous one. He's the "3 time winner of the City Marathon". They actually try to use this as a pick up line in the first episode. "Hey baby, wanna make it with a tool who paid a $15 entry fee and got a free t-shirt for the local benefit run? You can help me pin on my race number (Wink, wink, nudge, nudge)."

- - Mongo just sucks. A soft filter on a camera does not an alien world make. And Ming is a smarmy guy who rules with an iron fist. Wait, oops! How silly of me, it's not an iron fist... it's by water rationing. That's right, he's an evil dictator who has a garden hose hooked up to a water purifier. Oooh! Scary! Idi Amin, Hitler, and Pol Pot got nothing on Ming the Merciless. Who needs genocide when you can give your subjugated masses cavities because they've got to drink well water instead of flouridated tap water?!? The horror!

- - The hawk men are normal, non-winged, muscular dorks with leather capes that can fly. Totally ignoring the physics and indescribably gay image of muscular men in leather capes flapping away into the night... you never actually see them fly on camera. You'd think SciFi would've sprung for a green screen and some of the same technology my local weather guy's been using for the last 40 years or so, huh? Not so, dear reader. Not so.

- - And there've been no significantly weird monsters on Mongo either. You've got some people in weird costumes (if silk on chicks, and leather on guys, and generic military uniforms and helmets on the Mongo Guard count as "weird"). And the occassional strange face painting. Even the latter Star Trek shows subscribed to the "give them some latex ridges or bumps or spots on their face to make them alien" philosophy. Flash Gordon's not even going that far.

- - What worked so well with the original Flash Gordon (and I'm counting the 1923's serials, the 1940's and 50's radio shows, the 1950's TV series, and even the Queen scored bag of win that was the 1980 movie) was that Flash, Dale and Hans Zarkoff were trapped on Mongo. Lost and adrift in a culture of wierd aliens and cutthroat palace intrigue, they fought with stereotypically plucky human resolve. Now we have "rift technology" where a wormhole opens up between Earth and Mongo and they have to make little day trips to save the universe. Again I blame the cheapness of the production, because it's obviously cheaper to keep the characters in faux-Maryland than to splurge on expensive sets. Whoever's in charge of the money at SciFi needs to stop hanging onto it likes it's his own. At the least, the accountants need to get punched in their junk because 90% of the whole goddamned show takes place on Earth. Dear dark Pagan gods - save us from the bean counters. Please.

- - And don't even get me started on Rankol - one of the bad guys who is supposed to be a creepy alien. Slapping a fake metal plate to the side of his head and hiding a Segway under his robes is absoultely fucking ridiculous. That's right - a Segway. The same thing my office mail guy uses because my company's campus covers over a mile of hallways.

I guess what makes me so mad about this show is that SciFi has such a great track record with their original series. This is the same channel that brought us some of the best and most innovative sicence fiction TV in years. From The Invisible Man series, to Farscape, and the Stargates: I've become accustomed to better quality from them. And the time is ripe for introducing a new, edgy science fiction show to their Friday night lineup. I mean look how successful other reimaginings of classic SciFi have been. Battlestar Gallactica, anyone? The Bionic Women? Doctor Who?

And I think I just figured out the problem. In the last paragraph I wrote "new, edgy..." and "innovative". Flash Gordon is everything but that. It's safe and would be more at home on a network channel and not cable.

But that's the problem with the Sci-Fi channel. They've never gotten the idea that they're CABLE. They've always watered down their movies and, now, apparently, they're watering down their programming. They should take the lead from FX and push the envelope. Sadly, they won't. They refuse to stop being safe because - and I've got this on good authority - the SciFi Channel hates me. That's right. The SciFi channel hates me and small children. Seriously.

But what what else would you expect from a channel that calls itself the SciFi channel and yet DOESN'T RUN STAR TREK in any of its past incarnations. When Spike, or G4 scoops you on the Star Trek, do you really have the street cred to call yourself the "SciFi" Channel?

I'm just saying...