Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A Serial Killer's Genesis...

Not even done with my current novel and I'm thinking of my next. Not sure if this is the beginning of a new novel or a short stroy. Either way, I like the protaganist and there's a whole lot of Doctor Zombie in this character.

Interesting aside: I was at a luncheon at Cleveland State honoring myself and several other student writers who'd had essays published in a compilation when I struck up a conversation with another honoree named Allen. After he'd looked at my bio info in the book, he asked me how much of myself I put into the main character of my novel, North Coast Gothic. I always hate this question because, truthfully, every character I write has some of my DNA in them when I breath them into existance on the page. Like Pygmalion, I'm often startled by the life my characters take on after I create them. To me, they become real and I can hear their voices and see them in my mind. Their quirks, their idiosyncracies, their peculiarities of speech and dialect all become real. It reminds me of a vignette at the beginning of the classic Hammer films The House That Dripped Blood. In it, Denholm Elliot plays a horror writer who feels he's going mad because he begins to see and become stalked by the snaggle-toothed and wild-eyed killer he's created. I live with my characters when I'm writing and I honestly have conversations with them.

Is that crazy?

Anyway - I threw this together and I need to decide what to do with it after I finish the work on my current novel. And - yes! - this character seems much closer to me in personality and disposition than Tom, from NCG, did.

The sun wasn’t bright that day. It hid behind an endless expanse of curdled milk clouds, not even bothering to raise its head from beneath the covers of its black and grey bed. Alex was sitting there, thinking black thoughts and gazing at the Breakneck Creek far below him. It winded and twisted itself into the distance, fat and lazy like a molting barn snake. The dark sky gave the world a murky cast, and it was this murkiness that fueled the black thoughts Alex was thinking.

He reached into the bag beside him on the hard, unyielding stone bench he was seated upon and grabbed another piece of beef jerky. He put a jagged corner of the dried meat between his teeth and worried a bite free. Then he was struck with an idea.

He would become a serial killer.

Nothing had really prompted the thought, but once it had time to settle into his mind and make itself a home in there, he found that it was a very comfortable fit. He looked about himself at the manicured lawns that stretched and rolled downward, its green broken only by the varied shapes of tombstones that stuck up like black and gray mushrooms. The Evans City Cemetery in Evans City, Pennsylvania, was a little known place. But, to Alex, it was a wondrous place that would forever be famous for what had happened there many years earlier. It was this very same cemetery where, in 1966, George Romero filmed his immortal Night Of The Living Dead.

And Romero happened to be one of Alex’s favorite directors.

Alex knew many things about himself, but he knew one thing above else; he loved horror movies. He loved zombies, vampires, werewolves, ghouls, goblins, and all things dark, creepy, and horrific. He had grown up on a steady diet of Saturday afternoon Hammer Studios classics and Late Night Creature Features hosted by men in mad doctor costumes on creepy sets in the basement of the local network affiliate. He was not a nostalgic man, but he mourned the loss of this curious form of entertainment. Much of the 1970’s could be buried away in a mass grave of popular culture, but there was something sad and tragic about no longer being able to stay up late on a Friday or Saturday night and watch The Ghoul, or Dr. Shock’s Chiller X-Ray Theater.
His love for horror movies was only the beginning of Alex’s eclectic tastes. His introduction at an early age to this genre helped shape his tastes now that he had reached manhood.
Simply said, he loved all things dark.

He was an odd man. On the surface, he was attractive. He had dark hair, angular features and cheekbones that could have stepped out onto a runway at any fashion show. Any attractiveness, though, was marred by his constant frown and choice in clothing. Today, he wore a pair of black Dr. Marten boots, black fatigue pants, a long sleeve Rob Zombie t-shirt, and a long black trench coat.

It went without saying that black was his favorite color.

Black clothes and a scowl weren’t the main reason for his off-putting qualities. It was mainly his incessantly dark and brooding personality that turned people off to him. He wore a perpetual air of gloominess like a velvet- brocaded cloak. It was this that repelled most of the normal people he met. In fact, this alone - when combined with his clothing - assured that the majority of society would never see him as ‘normal’.

And he was all right with that.

All of this explained why he was here in this particular cemetery. He made the pilgrimage to this, his own particular Mecca, every few weekends. It was only a few hours ride from his home in Ohio, and he came here in an attempt to absorb or touch some of the creative brilliance that
Mr. Romero surely must have left here all those years ago.

Perhaps that could explain why he had decided to become a serial killer. The particular combination of his own strange predilections and the mystical aura of the cemetery may have caused it; like the confluence of two dark rivers. Or perhaps he’d made some sort of psychic connection with the residual energy and genius of Romero that still, somehow, lingered in this country necropolis. Either way, Alex knew that one never questioned such things. It was of paramount importance to pursue such bursts of creative energy when they presented themselves, and Alex had no intention of ignoring it.

Just then, like the harsh scream of an injured cat, the sound of a child’s laughter intruded upon his reverie. He swung his head around and saw two children playing with a water pump a few feet away from where he sat. The pump had, undoubtedly, been put in the cemetery for watering plants and cleaning gardening tools. Now though, it served as a source of irresistible curiosity to the children. They were two boys, about 8 or 9 years old, and they were splashing each other with as expected childlike innocence, as it were. Some hundred or so feet away, a women and man that Alex assumed must be their parents, were tending a grave topped by a large, square, black headstone.

The pump fascinated the children. It was one of those old fashioned ones that you only saw in Westerns; the kind with the big handle that pumped the water up from some deep well or water table far underground where white, blind, and grotesquely plump creatures lived in perpetual darkness. When the boys began drinking from its gushing mouth, Alex actually opened his mouth to warn them, but them snapped it shut with an audible clack.

If he was going to be a serial killer, he mentally chastised himself; he’d have to stop thinking like a normal person.

If he weren’t a serial killer, he would have warned the kids that they might not have wanted to drink from a well beneath a cemetery. Instead, he affected what he thought was an almost reptilian coldness and made himself enjoy the idea that the boys were drinking water that undoubtedly had been tainted with the leeching of what lay above it. It was a deliciously morbid thought and Alex relished the imagery it conjured. Cannibalism was a very serial killer fascination. It’d worked for Dahmer in Wisconsin.

He adjusted his ass on the hard, unforgiving bench and turned back to thoughts of murder. All the famous serial killers had signatures or fetishes of some sort; some specifically murderous taste in victims that they preyed upon. Ted Bundy had liked pretty college girls, The Green River Killer liked prostitutes (and so had Jack the Ripper, for that matter. HE was one hell of a twisted bastard, Alex thought.), Dahmer liked Asian boys.

He’d need something. It’d take some more thought, Alex decided, although he was pretty sure it would be pretty girls like old Smiling Ted Bundy. He also found that he liked the idea of the infamy that might have come from becoming a serial killer. He saw himself as Death, cloaked in black with obsidian armor and a flaming sword like some almost inhumanly beautiful Manga character.

The overcast sky rumbled with coming thunder and there was a flash of lightning. The trees overhead swayed with a sudden wind like the rasp of beetles in a corpse. Far below, the creek churned brown and muddy in the growing dusk. With a sigh, Alex stood and brushed dust from the back of his trench coat.

At that moment, the parents of the children called to them, and the two boys scurried away, yelling and punching at one another like all young boys do. Alex watched them go, gnawing on his last piece of jerky and glaring balefully at the family.

Maybe he could kill them, he thought.

There was nobody else in the graveyard, and it would be appropriate to do it here. He almost smiled at the thought of the headlines in the paper. Grisly Murders Committed at Infamous Graveyard, they would read. It would be a fitting tribute to George. It would be worthy of this great place.

These thoughts, though, quickly turned to logistics. He had nothing to do the deed with. There was a rusty, bent tire iron in his trunk, but he wasn’t sure how to undo it from under the tire. Also, the children’s father looked like a pretty big guy. Alex knew that he himself was a pretty strong and wiry guy, but the father was morbidly obese. So was the mother, for that matter. And he wasn’t sure he could kill the kids. The thought of killing a child made him feel a little queasy. He hesitated, and saw that his calculations were pointless anyway. The family had begun piling into a newer Ford pickup as the first, fat drops of rain began to fall.

It was better off anyway, he thought as he stood there watching them drive off.

He wasn’t regretful that he’d let them go. In fact, he was glad he hadn’t been rash in killing the family. The murder and subsequent clean up would have taken longer than he’d wanted and he wanted to be back in Cleveland before midnight.

“I’m going to only kill someone who I’ve stalked,” he said aloud to himself. It seemed a better idea than random, unplanned violence. It was more appealing to hunt his prey. Besides, there was the forensics to think of. He thought himself smarter than the average person and knew he wouldn’t get caught - - but only if he planned and took the time to do things right. Yes, forensics would be a problem. It was something he’d need to seriously consider.

As he jogged to his dented Toyota Land Cruiser, dodging bigger and faster falling raindrops, he smiled in what he thought was a chilling manner.

He would be an exceptional serial killer.


Monday, October 29, 2007

Halloween is Here!

I saw a preview for this when I went with Mrs. Zombie to see Saw IV on Friday. (My quick and dirty review: Same old Saw, just a different number after it... although the gore effects were fucking awesome! Especially the autopsy in the beginning. Realistic and beautifully gory!)

Anyway, I digress... So, this Fathom Events is doing a special 7:30 showing of Halloween 4 & 5 at my local theater. For $10, you get the two movies plus a special behind the scenes documentary. I think I may need to attend this.

If any regular, local readers see this before tomorrow, feel free to join the Doctor at the Willoughby Commons Regal cinema tomorrow night for some Michael meyers goodness!
Gods I love Halloween!!!

Friday, October 05, 2007


So - like I said earlier this week, I finished my new novel and have begun the arduous task of editing, rewriting, and fleshing it out. Then comes the hell of trying to get it published. My first novel was published based on pure luck... let's hope lightning strikes twice...

So, anyway, I've decided to go ahead and post up the short story I wrote a few years back that inspired the novel. It was originally included as a prologue to my novel, but I cut it because of various reasons, including the fact that; it didn't match the tone or narrative style of the novel, I wasn't pleased with the way it was written, and finally, that it was - truthfully - just too long for a prologue.

So - - as I'll probably never send it out to try and publish it, I figured I'd post it up on my site.

So, if you're feeling especially literary, and want to read a so-so short story, here it is.

I make no promises about spelling or grammatical errors... like I said, it became the basis for my new novel, and I pretty much left it as is once I started writing the new book...


And so began the end of the world…

The town of Wisteria was a small bucolic place. It had a Main Street, a town square, and storefronts that hearkened back to the beginning of the nineteenth century. The Ladies Social Club maintained the obligatory wisteria trees that graced the small park in the town square, their grape-like flowers hanging heavily over manicured lawns and bright red, orange, and pink roses. A memorial statue dedicated to the young men who had given their lives in the last half dozen U.S. involved wars looked sorrowfully towards the south of the square. There, the Presbyterian Church cast a long, all day shadow on the small gazebo where the Shriner band played every Friday evening during the summer.

The side streets off of the square where all quaintly named after trees. Streets with names like Oak, Elm, Beech, and Birch ran quietly away from town, terminating in dead ends, cul-de-sacs and, in some cases, empty fields. On the east side of town, they ran for endless miles through corn fields and soy farms until they merged and emptied onto State Route 25. The side streets near town were populated by many gamble-roofed, Victorian style homes that slumbered beneath the thick, gnarled limbs of ancient trees. Flagstone walks led to immense porches with heavy, stained glass doors and foyers with high ceilings and real oak crown moldings. In the winter, radiator heat hissed in the large rooms and, year round, the floors creaked with age.

It was no different than any small town - save one thing.

Where Main Street crossed the Little ProsperityRiver, amidst the hulking and empty remains of several warehouses that perched over the brown, sluggish river waters - there was a newer building. It was a modern building. Its green, glass face glinting blindingly in the afternoon sun. It seemed out of place between the abandoned warehouses that once thrived in Industrial Revolution corpulence.

It was a research extension for the Centers for Disease Control. Rumors about its purpose ran the gamut from bio-weapons development to medical research. In truth, it was somewhere in between.

As night fell, and the evening stretched into night, something very bad was happening at the silent, green building near the river.


Dr. Byron Walker was a brilliant, but eccentric, biologist. His specialty was contagious diseases and, in a lab in the basement of the research facility, he was working on pure evil. Working on grants provided by legitimate, if somewhat shadowy, government agencies, his objective had been simple - design and develop a virus that was genetically engineered to demoralize and destroy enemies of the United States

Dr. Walker had no qualms about his highly illegal work. In fact, he loved it. The idea that someday the world may very well go to hell in a hand basket appealed to him. He was an expert in contagious viruses and knew that it was only a matter of time before some terrorist in a turban walked into Times Square with an aerosol container of Anthrax, or Ebola, or Hanta, or any of a dozen other microscopic assassins. He was certain of it happening, and he was also certain that it would prove so destructive that the government would quickly not care about any silly little rules regarding ‘ethical’ warfare.

There would be retaliation, and it was very likely that Dr. Walker’s little bug would do the dirty work. And, it was his sole ambition and goal to ensure that he was responsible for designing the most monstrous, most effective, and most lethal virus to do so.

Walker Virus X would be the worst virus ever seen, thus earning him a place beside Nobel and Oppenheimer. Whereas immortality is something many scientists hunger for - Dr. Walker was starved for it. He worked twenty hour days and burned through lab assistants the way a chain smoker works his way through a pack of cigarettes. His quest was all consuming and there was no other facet of a normal adult life that appealed to or interested him.

Thus it was that he was alone in the lab on a Friday night, working late, when tragedy struck.

The most current incarnate of Walker Virus was part of batch number 117. Per CDC regulations, all contagious and lethal microorganisms were never directly touched by human hands. The Walker Virus was bred in a closed incubator, accessible by remote operated robot only. The glass incubator had several safeguards; including a powerful exhaust hood that would instantly turn the container into vacuum, radioactive lights to irradiate and kill any microbe, and a caustic chemical bath to kill anything else left. The scientists manipulated the Petri dishes, microscopes, and instruments through the use of a 'Waldo'; or a set of industrial strength, impermeable rubber gloves that prevented any human contact with the dangerous pathogens within the glass box.

Dr. Walker had moved a slide of the virus to the microscope and was examining it when he first felt the itch on his left ring finger. He thought nothing of it as he turned from the containment unit to take some notes. As he did so, the itch grew maddeningly worse, spreading to the palm of his hand. With a frown, Dr. Walker glanced at his palm as he got up.

He had to sit down again, a feeling of terror striking him like a bucket of ice water thrown in his face.

“God, no...” he whispered, studying the very visible spread of the virus across his hand. That was one of its attributes. It was a very visually distinct infection, as was requested by the government when they had contracted him.

Ever the scientist, his first thought was, ‘How...?’

He rushed to the containment unit and pulled the left glove inside out, studying the rubber on the left ring finger. With a sense of rage and indignation, he quickly deduced what had happened.

“That bitch!” he cursed, examining a worn part of the glove. He was referring to his newest lab assistant, a snobby graduate student who had only received the job because she had a father in Congress. She had recently acquired a too big engagement ring and worn it to work, reluctant to remove it for even an instant. She had known it was a direct violation of CDC protocol, but she was too wrapped up in the glory of snagging some Ivy League fiancĂ©e.

Her vanity was now going to kill Dr. Walker.

He sat on the floor abruptly, the realization of his situation striking him in its enormity. He looked at the tell-tale bluish-grey spread of the virus as it reproduced itself with frightening speed. That was the first sign of infection - the discoloration of skin and resultant itch. Already there was a painful numbness in his fingers and hand, like pins and needles as a limb slowly wakes up from being slept on. Accompanying that was an itch like ants were trying to crawl their way out of the skin of his arm. His left arm, to the elbow, was now infected.

He knew what would come next. He had, after all, designed it. The discoloration would eventually cover his entire body and his epidermis would die, falling off of his musculature like a snake shedding its own skin. But before all of that, the madness would come. The blind, angry, inhuman madness as the virus destroyed his mind and turned him into a subhuman killing machine.

He started sobbing as the horror fully gripped him, although the part of his brain that was logical, analytical, and always a scientist gave a small cry of surprise that it worked so quickly in human physiology.

Of course, that’s what he had designed it to do.

An hour later, Dr. Walker was no longer really human. The thing that had been the doctor crept out of the lab and made its way through the dark, silent halls of the research building. It was drawn by a dark desire and fragments of its life of earlier that day. It came upon the security guard at the front door soundlessly. With a primeval and inarticulate cry, it fell upon the hapless guard as he dozed at his post. It fed for a time, but then grew restless again.

The creature stalked to the door and let itself out, setting off silent alarms. It stood on the marble steps, savoring the cool, rich scent of the night. The darkness called to it and it flinched at the brightness of the moon. Quickly, it turned from the lunar orb’s baleful gaze and searched the shadows about it. The brightness of lights to the south, and the smell of humanity drew him to Wisteria like a magnet. He grinned, a disturbing expression that was all blood and gore stained teeth.

Another side effect of the virus was a forced atavism; a reversion to a more primitive, primate state. Besides the obvious visual deformities his body was undergoing, besides the cannibalistic and homicidal impulses it felt, it also felt the desire to assert itself as an Alpha Male. It felt a need to sow its genetic material, to propogate, to breed. He needed a woman to slake this growing lust that filled him with rage and unrealized aggression.

What he sought lay in the direction of Wisteria.

Pushed by the perversions of the virus, he loped off into the darkness.


The creature was almost mad with lust when it reached the town. The desire to find a woman was almost overwhelming and consumed what small part of its brain that was left. It was late, almost midnight. Wisteria was quiet and slumbered in that early way in which all small towns do. The monster padded past the small post office at the corner of Main and Oak Streets. In its run from the river it had shed its shoes and just as quickly forgotten it had done so. The creatures bare feet slapped on the concrete sidewalk, leaving a trail of bloody footprints from the already decomposing skin on the soles of its feet.

It ran on and stopped at the first house it came to, sniffing the air expectantly. It had caught the scent of a female and it snorted hungrily.

The monstrosity ran across a manicured lawn and around the side of the house, pausing again, searching in the moonlight. It finally found where the scent was coming from. An open window on the second floor, above the porch, beckoned to him. The odor of a fertile, ripe woman poured from the window like water over a dam. He was dizzy with desire, his heightened senses threatening overload at the overwhelmingly close, but still unattainable woman. With a harsh, sobbing moan, it ran to the rear of the house.

Wisteria, as in all small towns, did not believe in locking doors, and the creature that had once been Doctor Walker quietly crept through the house’s open screen door into a darkened kitchen.

Its prey was now within its grasp.

It padded soundlessly across the linoleum kitchen floor and down a hallway courteously lit with night lights. Taking the steps two at a time, it leapt on soundless bare feet to the second floor. The creature paused at the top of the steps, its nostrils flaring. It looked down the hall at a partially opened door, the flicker of candlelight barely visible at the crack. Lust rising in its blood like a drug, the creature reached down, tearing its already shredded clothes from its loins as it stalked towards the bedroom soundlessly. As it reached the door, though, it paused. There was another smell; a smell that had been drowned out by that of the woman.

There was another man in the house!

It knelt, pushing the door open with a hand that was covered in its own dripping blood and it saw them then.

They were on the bed, making love.

Their names were Dan and Kathy Barstow and they were still newlyweds. Dan was on top of her and she was below, and they were both near the peak.

The creature saw this all in an instant and was filled with an unimaginable black rage. Kathy moaned an encouragement to Dan; a low, husky sound of impending pleasure that goaded the monster that watched from the open doorway. The sound pushed the creature over the edge.

“’INE! ‘INE” It roared, its ruined lips now longer able to say the ‘m’ in ‘mine’.

It launched itself onto the bed, catching Dan by surprise. The two rolled off the far side of the bed as Kathy screaming in terror at the creature that could only have come from the darkest, most evil depths of hell.

Screaming inarticulately, the creature landed on top of Dan and began tearing at him and biting him. Dan, still in shock, was unable to mount any kind of defense and screamed in horror at the monster that straddled and assaulted him.
In an instant, the creature bit down on Dan’s throat. Sharp teeth dug in, piercing Dan’s windpipe and carotid artery. There was a gasp of escaping air and the spurting, rhythmic spray of bright pink arterial blood. An arc of blood sprayed the end table and struck one of the candles there, extinguishing it with a hiss. Dan was dead within seconds.

The monster looked up from its victim and looked at Kathy with a lipless and gaping jack-o-lantern grin; Dan’s blood still shiny on its cadaverous face.

With a scream, Kathy turned and ran from the room, skidding on the throw rug in the hall way. The sight of her nakedness was like a cattle prod on the consciousness of the monster and it was after her as if it had been shot from a cannon.

The beast caught her in the hallway, leaping on her back and pounding her to the hardwood floor painfully. It savaged and raped her there, in the darkened hall.


It was sometime later that Kathy awoke to find the creature snoring in exhaustion on top of her. Surprisingly, Kathy Barstow was not dead, even after an eternity of hell, even after the monster had so savagely abused and raped her

Kathy slid out from under its filthy bulk. The only sound in the hallway was the creature’s guttural snoring and the snuffle of Kathy’s breathing as she tried to take in air through her broken, bloody nose. She was dizzy and disoriented from the blows she had received and she felt a burning wetness between her legs. She also felt her insides roll unnaturally. She could tell she was not right internally, and knew she was seriously injured from the beast’s attack. With all of her strength, she pulled herself slowly across the hall floor. She almost screamed with the pain of it and her vision grew fuzzy.

There was something broken inside of her, something seriously wrong. She sobbed and winced, panted and cried at the agony and the hurt she felt, forcing herself to keep crawling. She knew she should have stayed still, and she was certain that her struggle was further ripping the internal injuries that assailed her with wave after wave of pain, but she also knew she had to get away from the thing that had killed Dan and had so badly mauled her.

She had made her way to the top step of the stairs, her broken and leaking body trailing an unbelievably wide path of blood behind her, when the monster awoke. It stopped snoring and abruptly sat up, looking at her with red eyes and an oozing, pus covered face.

Its skin was falling off in wet, dripping sheets. It was like the skin of wax on a recently extinguished candle and, as the creature turned towards her, a piece of its face fell to the floor with a soft, moist plop.

It grinned at her and rolled onto all fours, coming for her again.

It took Kathy Barstow a very long time to die...


To the government’s credit, it only took them a few hours to respond to the alarms Dr. Walker had tripped when he had left the building earlier that night. In conjunction with the CDC, the government agency responsible for Dr. Walker’s research had been prepared for this sort of tragedy and there was a contingency plan already in place.

A coded, encrypted call was made by the CDC director in the field to the commanding officer of a special army unit at Fort Bragg. This military unit was composed of specialists in anti-terrorism - specifically biological terrorism. The members of this team also held the highest possible security clearance that military personnel could hold and were the ultimate ‘problem solvers’. They did work the other elite military areas, like the Navy SEALS or Army Recon, couldn’t legally do.

They were efficient and deadly.

Within an hour of Dr. Walker’s escape, the response team was aboard a specially designed Concorde that was utilized by their unit for just such an emergency. They were briefed about what they were faced with and shown security video of what was left of Doctor Walker as he scurried from his lab, killed and ate the guard, and then boldly walked out of the research facility.

Even as hardened as the soldiers were, the nature of Dr. Walker’s pathogen was difficult to reconcile and even harder to contemplate having to face; but that’s what they were trained to do. They were on the ground with a half an hour of activation and at the CDC facility within another.

The team leader, Captain Christopher Woods, immediately ordered his men to secure the perimeter of the town.

They began hunting.

Quarantine restrictions were established and road blocks were thrown up, sealing the town up. The CDC and Army commandeered the gymnasium at the Rutherford B. Hayes Elementary School and began setting it up as a temporary hospital, and Captain Woods’ men continued the hunt.

They quickly found the course the monster had taken and established with certainty that he was within a one block area. A secondary perimeter was set up and plans were implemented to begin a house to house search. They quickly found the home of Dan and Kathy Barstow. Lieutenant Joe Garcia the team leader, radioed his superior officer.


Woods’ radio squawked in his ear. He was standing at a table in the post office examining a map of the town. He had commandeered the building as his de facto command center.

“Go ahead, Garcia,” he replied.

“I’ve got the trail. Subject has been located, sir.”

Woods sighed, switching his radio so that all of his men could hear him, “Garcia, you and Alpha Team have the ball. Bravo Team, assist Alpha Team if they call for backup. They’ve got a definite ID and will lead the pursuit. Alpha Team, relay your position if it changes.”

“Yes, sir!” his men all responded in unison. They were professionals and, despite the horror they were inevitably going to face tonight, they remained professionals. Woods was proud of them. Garcia and his team moved in for the kill. Woods, meanwhile, jumped into the nearest HMMV and raced to the search perimeter.


The creature returned from the bedroom, where it had been snacking on Dan’s corpse. It wiped a bloody hand across its bloody maw. The monster’s face had mostly sloughed off, leaving glistening muscle and white eyes peering about madly. The effect of this unnatural molting gave the impression that the bottom portion of the creatures face was mostly gore stained teeth. Some unforeseen mutation of the virus was twisting its bones, elongating them. It was a nightmare made real.

It shuffled down the hall towards the woman, but wrinkled its nose at her. She was quite dead and cold, her limbs twisted in the beginning throes of rigor mortis. It pushed her belly with a sharp finger, piercing the skin there. The lust was coming upon it again and it needed to find another woman. The creature knelt and licked some coagulating blood from Cathy’s navel, snorting and grimacing at the coldness of it. It was time to hunt again.

Suddenly it heard a sound downstairs.


Slowly, Garcia and Rogers entered the house, their breathing sounding harsh and strident in the enclosed space of their helmets. Close behind, covering the insertion, were Katz and the team medic, Kosminski.

“Backup teams, close the perimeter up. I don’t want this thing slipping out!” Woods ordered. There were four additional four man teams and they all took up positions at the four corners of the house, watching for any sign of an escape attempt. They were also fastidiously mindful of their crossfire. It wouldn’t do to shoot one another. Woods was getting ready to radio Garcia and ask for a report when the shooting started.

There was the sustained fire of silenced machine guns. Unlike those portrayed in the movies, a silenced gun is only slightly less quiet than a regular gun. The dampening got worse as additional rounds are fired through the silencers until it is as if they are nonexistent. The same went for flash suppressers and, as the shooting went on and on and became louder and louder, the windows were lit by the muzzle flashes of the MP5’s.


Within an hour, the CDC had secured the neighborhood and begun the elaborate cover up of the night’s events. After decontamination and an in-field debriefing with the CDC and Woods’ superiors, Woods and his men were ordered to stand down. Woods turned control over to the CDC and he and his men were ordered back to Fort Bragg.

As they boarded the black plane that was to take them home, Woods addressed the men.

“It’s been a hard night, men,” he said over the whine of the plane’s engines as they warmed up, “Although it doesn’t feel like it, we won a battle for the good guys tonight. I’ve got the first round when we get back to base, boys.”

“Hoo-rah!” the men called back, laughing and slapping each other in congratulations. Woods smiled back, recognizing that they were still keyed up from the mission and needed to blow off some steam. In fact, he was pretty sure he himself would need a few drinks to dull the memory of the video tapes and the aftermath of the Doctor’s spree.

Before he sat down, he glanced at Garcia. He saw that his right hand man was not joining in the post-battle celebrations. Lieutenant Garcia was staring out the window, shivering slightly. Woods let it go; believing that Garcia was dealing with what he had had to do that night. He decided to give his lieutenant some room.
That was the biggest mistake he could have made.


Garcia looked out the window, and then looked down at his shaking hands. His skin itched something terrible and his veins seemed to be darker and bluer than normal. He thought it must have been the lighting in the plane. Either way, he didn’t feel well.

Unknown to all of them, Garcia’s bio- suit from earlier in the night had had a bad seam and was not completely airtight. Given the transmission nature of the Walker X virus, that shouldn’t have been a problem. However, Doctor Walker’s true genius lay in the mutability of his work. As the virus had percolated in the late Doctor’s gory, misshapen body; it had changed and gone beyond even its creator’s darkest desires.

It had become airborne.

And Garcia’s faulty hazmat suit had allowed the virus entry.


It took the plane over an hour to reach Fort Bragg in North Carolina. In the hours between Garcia’s initial infection, his subsequent exposure to the team, and the long flight; the entire team had been infected, and began tearing each other to shreds. The pilot and co-pilot themselves were dragged screaming from their seats, torn to pieces and fed upon by what was once the tactical team. The plane, on autopilot, returned to Fort Bragg, but then simply flew in programmed circles.

For several tense hours, the control tower tried to contact the plane, but it would only occasionally get crackling static or the more disturbing sound of snarls and growls and screams. They could do nothing, only watch as the plane circled about the base, waiting for the inevitable. When the unavoidable happened and the plane ran out of gas, it plummeted to the ground carrying its howling, gibbering, deadly cargo.

The crash, unfortunately, did not kill all of the occupants. Two of the former Special Ops team; Garcia, and a corporal named Braddick; crawled from the wreckage just as the Search and Rescue teams arrived. Braddick tried to attack the emergency teams and was just as quickly shot and killed.

Garcia, however, slunk away through tall grass and kudzu covered undergrowth, wincing at the bright searchlights that were even now being poured over the crash sight. Being farther gone, and more driven by the urge to mate, Garcia went seeking a different prey.

His skin had long since fallen off and his bones had warped and twisted so much that he was unrecognizable as anything human. His teeth, had elongated and sharpened and his exposed muscles oozed a constant blood and pus. The virus had so twisted his mind that his thoughts were no longer even thoughts. He was an evil, instinct driven monster that might have crawled from the nearest hell of one’s preferred religion. The blood that oozed off of him, like his entire body, teamed with the Walker X virus. His very breath was an invisible, steamy cloud of pathogens and infection.

None of this mattered to the creature that was once Garcia. All it cared about was the smell of women that arose from the town before it.

He loped into the town, infection following behind him like some dark, evil cape.


As the dawn of September 18th rose over the town of some 15,000 people, the infection caught and spread. Those who weren’t killed or eaten were themselves infected. The horrifying work of Doctor Byron Walker spread across the countryside like a cancer, growing and metastasizing.

A police officer, who had killed a disease victim on his front lawn, passed the infection to several people he later stopped at a CDC roadblock.

Those people drove on, infecting several others at a rest area.

Those people took the infection with them on the road.

Soon, two towns were infected, then three, and then counties, and then entire states.

A businessman, having drank infected water, boarded a plane to Germany. The plane, like the military transport that had killed Captain Woods’ team, crash-landed outside of Berlin.

The infection then began its march across Europe.

It all happened so quickly that no medical, law enforcement, or government agency could move quick enough to stop it. There efforts to do so were as ineffectual as shouting into the swirling, black winds of chaos.

And so began the end of the world...

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Movie Review - 28 Weeks Later (2007)

This by the numbers sequel to Danny Boyle’s genre reinvigorating outing, 28 Days Later, is a mix of good and bad. I found myself delighted with some scenes, and completely disappointed with others. Whereas conflicting emotions or impressions are something to be strived for in the case of some films; cinematic schizophrenia – as is the case here - is not.

And that’s how I felt watching this. It felt like I was watching two movies, neither of which the director could decide on – so he just did both.

The plot revolves around the – obvious – 28 weeks after the Rage Virus has been unleashed on an unsuspecting England. Within a few weeks of the initial outbreak all of the infected have died of starvation, and the US military has moved in at the behest of the UN to restore order and begin the resettlement of England.

The actual film starts during the initial Rage infection with the characters of Alice and Donald Harris(played by Catherine McCormack and the always kick ass Robert Carlyle).They are holed up in a farmhouse in the English countryside with other survivors, trying to survive in a world gone mad. Their refuge is compromised, however, by the appearance of a small boy who brings with him scores of raving, psychotic, Rage-infected cannibals. In a heart-wrenching scene, Donald runs in terror, leaving his wife to die at the hands of the infected.

The film fast-forwards to the return to England of Donald’s children, Tammy and Andy (played by Imogen Poots and Mackintosh Muggleton. And yes. I’m serious. Those are their names. Seriously.). During the initial outbreak, they had been on a class trip to the continent and now are returning to find their father in charge of maintenance at the secure base where the US Army has started to settle the survivors. Donald lies to them, telling them that their mother is dead and that he could do nothing to save her.

In a strange turn of events, their mother is not dead. She is found and, due to a strange genetic anomaly shared by her son, she has been infected - but not afflicted - by the virus. She is a carrier and it is only a matter of time before the virus is re-released and the terror starts all over again.

When I’d said I had conflicting feelings about this film, it’s important to realize how much I enjoyed 28 Days Later. Danny Boyle’s original movie was an instant zombie classic and it was largely responsible for the resurgence in popularity of zombie films in the early part of the decade. It showed studios that zombies were a viable moneymaker and, as a result, Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead (2004) was green lighted. In fact, if not for 28 Days Later, the great George Romero would not have been given the go ahead for Land of the Dead. So, with that being said, it’s important to look at 28 Days Later in the context of what it was responsible for.

In addition to that, it was just a great concept.

I am not a zombie purist. I don’t believe that all zombies should be shambling, mindless shells. 28 Days Later showed how absolutely scary running zombies could be. (And yes – I know that the infected in these movies weren’t zombies. And yes I know they were alive, so you can shut the fuck up. They were zombies, just not like we were used to seeing. Look at it in the context of what they did FOR zombie flicks.) The Night of the Living Dead 1990 version illustrated how slow, shambling zombies weren’t as much of a challenge to evade.

Running, unstoppable zombies – now that’s some scary shit!

Additionally, the best part about the Rage Virus was that it lent some actual reality to the genre. The dead coming back from the deadbecause of voodoo, contamination by particles from space, or a cracked container of Trioxin are completely fictional. A virus that drives people insane, cannibalistic, and fills them with unimaginable rage is different. That’s something that could be sitting in some government lab right now! Chilling and creepy!

And it is all of these things, when combined with the precedent set by 28 Days Later, that makes 28 Weeks Later a lesser film. 28 Days Later gave a glimpse into how unadulterated rage impacts a country that is, culturally, very reserved. And not that I’m trying to paint Brits with a large, stereotypical brush; but the loss of control the Rage virus represented was anathema to English emotional reserve. And Boyle showed that with the despair his characters felt.

Not so in this film.

28 Weeks Later is, at its heart, an action film that just happens to take place in London. When you take a country that has little – if any – personal gun ownership, and drop in US Special Forces with AR15’s, 1911’s, and Chey-tac .50 caliber sniper rifles; you lose some of the impact.

Also, the original had an intellectual quality to it that touched on things like animal rights, the social implications of a catastrophe on a national psyche, and the existential meaning of being human; this movie was all about waiting for the next trite action sequence, or thinly veiled swipe at the US military and the current state of US foreign policy (which I’m okay with to some extent. Quite honestly, we’ve gotten ourselves into our current political and military shitstorm, so it's our own fault. Just don’t beat me over the head with it.)

Oddly enough, I felt that I’d seen this film before. And that is because it had many of the same anti-government, anti-military themes we’ve seen a hundred times before. The closest amalgam to this I can think of would be George Romero’s little known film, The Crazies. In fact, 28 Weeks Later was close enough to Romero’s film in plot, story, and social commentary regarding the military/industrial complex that I would be willing to lay money that director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo had to have watched it prior to filming this.

So, what were the bright spots in this film? The brightest was Robert Carlyle, who has yet to disappoint me in any role he’s taken. The terrifying opening scene where he is forced to leave his wife, and then runs in utter horror and panic from the overwhelming onslaughts of Ragers was absolutely brilliant. This opening scene was so well done in fact, that the rest of the movie could only try – and fail miserably– to live up to it. What I enjoy about any Robert Carlyle performance is the expressiveness of his eyes. No other actor out there can convey so much horror, anger, pain, or despair with only their eyes. And his character Donald is a study in guilt and sorrow.

Additionally, the scenes where the Army gasses the streets of London where beautifully rendered, but they too were not as effective as the original films scenes of a deserted London, or horses running in a field.

So, in the final analysis, it’s unfair to say that I didn’t enjoy the movie. But, much like I said the other day when looking at the Resident Evil series, the horror of this film took a back seat to the action. In that respect, and looking at it as an action film, I enjoyed the movie. But the sequel pales in comparison to its predecessor and doesn’t really add to the story, which is what I was looking for it to do. As is so unfortunately common, it had the feel of a big studio sequel that ignored what made the independent original so great. It lacked a compelling story and what little story there was dwarfed by the need to get to the action and let the infection spread again. It became less about the human qualities of the characters and more about the really cool CGI effects.

Sadly, I will probably not own this. There is little, if any, reason to motivate me to purchase a inferior sequel that even a director’s cut can’t fix. Perhaps if Boyle had taken the reigns instead of simply producing, it would have been a better movie… but sadly that didn’t happen.

And that kind of sucks…

So, skip it at the theater (if its still there…) and wait for a DVD rental. You’ll watch it once, say, “Meh. It was okay,” and then just as quickly forget about it.

Doctor Zombie’s Rating: 2 out of 5 Chomped Brains!!!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Some great movie news!

Some quick news that I had to get up and on the site for all of my fellow horror fiends!

Doctor Creepy over at Dread Central just broke the news that Guillermo Del Toro is moving ahead with his version of HP Lovecraft's At The Mountains of Madness!!! I absolutely love all of Del Toro's work and - if there's any director out there today I could pick to do a Lovecraft adaptation - Guillermo's the hombre!

There have been so many attempts to capture Lovecraft's genius on celluloid over the years - and where only a few have actually succeeded (Yuzna's Reanimator, From Beyond, and the incomparable Dagon) - most have been downright abortive in their efforts. Del Toro though is the first director to actually make me feel as though it could be done. I've referred to it before, but I think that scene at the end of Hellboy - when the ultimate evil descends upon earth from the cold wastes of space - encapsulates all that is Lovecraftian. When I saw Hellboy for the first time, I squealed in geekish joy at the horror that Del Toro created and I knew that - someday - he'd get the opportunity to do a full Lovecraft adaptation. And that day has come. Del Toro gets it and if I didn't know better, I'd say he spent some part of his young adult life as I did - sitting in a dark and candlelit room, eating chips, role playing Call of Cthulhu, and battling the insane minions of the Elder Gods and the Great Old Ones.

Combine his ability to capture the sheer, sanity-shattering horror of the Cthulhu mythos with his breathtaking ability to film the surreal and beautiful (as he did in Pan's Labrynth) - and you've got a sure thing, my fellow gorehounds. I'm all twittery and giggly thinking about it!

And - if you have no idea what I'm talking about here, I command you to go the book store and pick up a copy of HP Lovecraft's short stories (preferably something with the longer novella, At The Mountains of Madness). If you've never experienced the joy and wonder that is Lovecraft, you are in for a treat! I can't make any promises that you won't lose your mind or feel the oppressive horror of a cold night sky - because somewhere out there, in the depths of space and time, are things that are cold and alien. Things that care not one whit for the insignificant race that is man. Things that are the stuff of eldritch evil and that are always, always hungry.

You have been warned...

Also speaking of the master, Lovecraft... a few months back, I won a copy of a DVD from the spooky guys over at Goblinhaus. It was a low budget Biff Juggernaut production called Lovecracked. It was basically a compilation of Lovecraft inspired low budget, indepndent, amateur films. Some were comedy, others were more serious.

They were all bad.

I'd been planning on writing a review of it, but completely forgot to as the low quality and extremely bad scripting/humor of the connecting scenes was cringe-worthy. There are ways to do Lovecraft, and there are ways not to do Lovecraft. And - big hint - if your budget is less than a $1000; stay the fuck away from Lovecraft. Seriously.

Let me sum it up more succintly. To give you an idea of the caliber of this compilation, I've got two words for you

Zombie. Porn.

That's right, there was a porn version of The Reanimator on it called.... wait for it... The Repenetrator. And that was the highlight of the DVD.


So, what else...

Oh yeah - I forgot to mention that, when I saw Zombie's Halloween a few weeks back, there was a trailer for a film adaptation of Stephen King's Mist. This is a story I've been dying to see made into a movie for more than 10 or 15 years. It is one of my favorite Stephen King works and it also has Lovecraftian overtones. King's track record for movie adaptations has been equally as abysmal as that of Lovecraft, with only a few standouts (Kubrick's The Shining, The original Salem's Lot miniseries, The Stand miniseries, and Pet Semtary come to mind). Of course, his non-horror stories have faired much better (The Green Mile, The Shawshank Redemption), but few have captured the feel of King's work. And don't even get me started on his own, made for television scripts... yeccch!

Please don't let this suck...

Some great movies on the horizon, also...

October 19th is the release of 30 Days of Night. I actually picked up the novel adaptation of this last spring. I grabbed it because it had some really great cover art and I liked the ide a of vampires taking advantage of the extreme northern winter. It reminded me of a great comic I'd read as a child about just that sort of thing. It was in a Tales From the Crypt, or some other similar horror comic that I seemed to live on as a child (which may explain quite a bit about who I am today, but I digress...) It's a brilliant idea - combining the loneliness of Carpenter's The Thing with the blood sucking goodness of nosferatu overcoming their biggest weakness. I've heard some great things about this flick and, hopefully, I'll be catching it soon...

And I'm also slightly embarassed to say I haven't actually caught the new Resident Evil yet. Time has been something of an issue lately and, truth be told, the series has kind of been a let down. Now I'm not saying that I feel the RE movies are bad - quite the opposite, actually. I enjoy them immensely. The reason I enjoy them though is based in the reality that they are primarily action films. The zombies and horror take a backseat to the heavy metal music and Milla Jovovich kicking ass in all of her brain melting sexiness. And I love Milla with all of my undead soul... its just I'd like to see more brain chomping and less tactical weaponry. The RE games rocked because of the horror and the ambience of the locations. RE1 did a good job of capturing some of this - before it devolved into a rock video - and RE2 threw away any pretense of being anything BUT an action film... but I'd still like to see more horror, ya know? So I may try to catch it this weekend.

So much to do...so few places to hide the mutilated bodies. Sigh.

Want Some Free Halloween Stuff?

I've been reviewing some of my past Halloween links, and saw where I put together a list of my favorite Halloween related songs last year. I even offered to send out copies to anybody who wanted a Doctor Zombie Halloween Mix of Terror CD.

I wanted to extend that offer once again this year.

I'm tweaking the songs a bit, and adding or removing some of them, but I am close to having the final Halloween mix put together.

So - if you want some Halloween themed music to get you in the mood, or - like I do - you need some background music with which to torture victims with - this is the grooviest, coolest mix with which to do it.

Just drop me an email at doctorzombie@oh.rr.com and I'll get you a copy burned and mailed before Halloween. I'll even pick up shipping - because I got a connection who can take care of that for me for free!