Thursday, December 03, 2009
You be the judge.
It's December 3rd - and that means that my newest novel, A Darkness Within, is now available at your favorite online book retailer. So get out there and start spending some of that hard earned money you've specially earmarked for the Yuletide holiday!
If you purchase a copy, and live in the Cleveland area, let me know. I'll sign it for you. I won't even ask for anything in return... or at least not anything too important. (What I'm saying is that I don't want anybody's firstborn - I can barely handle my own. But I can be bought with Guinness, Count Chocula cereal, or gift certificates to Big Fun on Coventry. Oddly, that's the same stuff that's on the good Doctor's X-mas list. Hmmmm....)
So - anyway. Buy a copy now. I like the Amazon, myself...
Friday, October 16, 2009
I've written about this movie before. I first saw the trailer for it on the DVD release of Frank Miller's 300 and was immediately blown away. Unfortunately, this film languished on a shelf at Warner Brothers for years.
I had high expectations for this film simply because of the awesome, creepy trailer I saw... so you can understand my frustration with the time it took to get an eventual release on this film.
In addition to my excitement, there was quite a bit of buzz on the internet and the various horror film websites I haunt on a regular basis. It seems everyone was chomping at the bit to see this movie... and the hype was that it was all good.
When considering this, you can understand my anticipation and my dread that this movie would - once released - actually suck. That's the problem with being a jaded horror fan. I can't count the number of times I've been taken in by a slick trailer or poster, been seduced by the hype of a movie that's promised so much... and delivered so little. I was anxious, but excited, when it was announced a few months ago that Trick 'r Treat was finally being released on DVD this month.
So I received my copy yesterday in the mail and, after Mrs. Zombie crawled into her warm bed, I cracked open a Great Lakes Brewey Nosferatu Ale, turned off all of the lights save the plastic jack o'lantern in the front window, and loaded up the DVD player.
I can say, unequivocally, that this movie EXCEEDED my expectations!
This film was worth the wait. It is one of the most stunningly visual films I've ever seen. The standard against which I set movies that try to capture the true 'feel' of Halloween is relatively high and rare to find. I can think of only a few films that capture the incredible visuals and feelings of Halloween that we all long for (or at least us freaks who LIVE for Halloween long for). Of course, there's John Carpenter's classic Halloween; and perhaps Tim Burton's Sleepy Hollow. But beyond that, there's not much.
And that's what makes this movie so spellbinding and so deliciously Halloween-y. Writer and Director Michael Dougherty is our kind of people, dear reader. He loves Halloween and understands what the holiday is about. And that love and understanding have created an homage to the holiday that is unlike any I've ever seen.
The film revolves around Halloween night in the town of Warren Valley, Ohio. The town is devoted to Halloween and, every year, turns it into a festival and huge party. It reminds me of the chaos of Halloween at Ohio University, which I experienced in my wayward college days. The plot revolves around four stories that occur on that spooky night and a terror that stalks the quiet, leaf-littered streets.
It's hard for me to go too deeply into the plots of each vignette simply because it would spoil much of the surprise. There's the high school principal with a dark secret (played by the always incredible character actor, Dylan Baker), 4 women on the hunt for fun and excitement with their virginal younger sister (played by the hot and lust-inducing Anna Paquin), five kids who look for a haunting good time in their search for a tragic past-Halloween accident/urban myth, and the terror a crotchety old shut-in (played by the incomparable Brian Cox) faces as the horrors of Halloween and his past clash together and find him in his cold, empty house.
All of the stories, as they take place in a town I wished I lived in, are interwoven and the tales cross paths again and again as the timeline moves back and forth through the night's events.
Tying all of the stories together is one of the creepiest characters ever, Sam. Child-sized, the character is chilling and appealing at the same time. Wearing grubby red pajamas and an oddly disturbing flour sack, Sam wanders in and out of the stories like a strange, ghostly vision. The mask is horror perfection, reminiscent of the vintage Halloween art of an earlier age crossed with the viscerally jarring creepiness of David Cronenberg's 'face' from the film adaptation of Clive Barker's Nightbreed... he's quite possibly one of the most iconic horror monsters since Freddy Krueger wandered down Elm Street with super-sized arms.
This movie was so right and so perfect. It was really the little things that made it so great. From the scenes that were perfect representation of the Halloween of our dreams, to the perfect use of jack o'lanterns in critical scenes. This film had something for everyone. From an allegorical little Red Riding Hood tale with a sexy twist, to the dark nature of Halloween pranks. Hell, there was even a different sort of striptease at one point that any horror movie lover could get turned on by... and believe me when I tell you that Dr. Zombie found it sexy as hell!
The scenes were incredible. The stories were deliciously horrifying. The pacing was dead on.
One could not ask for a better horror movie.
The test of a good horror movie, at least for Doctor Zombie, is whether or not he'd buy it and watch it again. In fact, there's a small group of movies that I feel it necessary to watch around Halloween every year. They get me in the mood for the season, and reaffirm everything I love about Samhain - everyone's favorite Pagan holiday. As the weather turns cooler, and the leaves change into bright, fireworks of color before falling like burned paper, and the smells of leaves, and ripe apples, and jack o'lanterns burned too close to their lids by candles fills the windy, dark October nights - I pull out the chosen few movies that epitomize the wicked awesomeness that is All Hallow's Eve. Those movies include, among others, the classic 1941 Wolfman, John Carpenter's Halloween, Coppola's Bram Stoker's Dracula, George A. Romero's holy trinity of Night, Dawn, and Day of the Dead, and now... Trick 'r Treat.
Yes. It's that good.
Oh... and I'm not usually one for mentioning DVD Special Features, at least as far as my reviews go, and this film is really lacking in them. But the one that it does have is absolutely breathtaking in its presentation. Entitled Seasons Greetings, it's the short animated feature that Michael Dougherty did back in 1996. It would become the genesis of this film and shows the beginnings of the creature Sam. It is amazing in that it has ZERO computer animation and was hand-drawn and animated by Dougherty himself.
It is a labor of love and pain and shows that Dougherty has the Halloween and spookiness credentials to make such an incredible movie as Trick 'r Treat. Simply put, the dude is our kind of guy, he gets it, and truly understands what makes a good horror movie.
I cannot stress enough! Go get this movie! Turn off the lights, and watch it before Halloween. Or... watch it on Halloween night. I wouldn't be surprised if a creepy kid with a big head shows up at your door, though. Or, at least, the doorway to your nightmares!
DOCTOR ZOMBIE'S RATING: 6 out of 5 CHOMPED BRAINS (Hey! It's my fucking scale! I can do it however I want!)
Wednesday, October 07, 2009
Dear, sweet Pagan gods! You are great gods, and while not necessarily benevolent, have showered us in mana and goodness. Thank you. Thank you for bestowing upon us a mainstream zombie movie of such unequaled awesomeness!
This movie is the sort of zombie movie that I hope for everytime I rent a zombie movie, have one dropped off by Netflix, or catch a late night zombie-fest on SyFy or Chiller.
Namely, a zombie movie that has the right mix of horror, comedy, gore, and sheer badassedness.
Obviously, I LOVED this movie.
Woody Harrelson, who has been guilty of playing the same sort of character again and again, has found - in my opinion - the role he was made for. He has the perfect level of bravado, irreverence, humor, and pathos in this role. His character, Tallahasee, is the zombie killer we all want to be in our own secret zombie apocalypse fantasies (everybody else fantasizes about the Zombie Apocalypse, right? Everybody has their escape plan, right? I've always argued that the hardest part about the zombies rising up from the dead will be actually pretending that I'm not excited about it!) His irascibility knows no bounds, and he treats the zombie apocalypse like his own personal extended self-help session. He gleefully kills zombies with banjos, garden shears, car doors, and anything else he can get his hands on. And yet, offsetting this manic violence, there are moments where he makes you care for the character at an emotional level rarely seen in a horror film.
Jesse Eisenberg, who plays Columbus,is the perfect foil for Tallahasee... and is the perfect partner in what is one of the best zombie movie buddy team-ups since Shaun and Ed from Shaun of the Dead. His neurosis and OCD-based adherance to his "Zombieland Rules" is the perfect counterpoint to Harrelson. Eisenberg also inhabits the role of Columbus in a way that transcends the genre label of a horror movie. He's an incredible actor who manages to make us believe he is the shy, introverted, videogame playing dork his character is. He's a geek savant, and all geeks (myself included) can't help but root for him to get the girl and become the hero.
Emma Stone, who plays the conniving, scamming Wichita -watches over her sister Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) with a convincing mother-like devotion... and is hot to boot. Both girls did an incredible job and we fall in love with her just as Columbus does. Wichita is smart, sassy, sexy, and the exact girl you'd want to meet up with at the end of the world.
This movie was perfect on so many levels. It hit all the right notes. The gore was superb, the effects were kick ass, and the story was spot on. There's a cameo midway through that bumps this film from a simple, well executed zombie film to a film of almost unimagineable geeky/fan boy coolness. Especially cool are the intro shots showing zombie chasing down and devouring hapless victims.
This movie was great. I love this movie. Fuck The People vs. Larry Flint... Woody Harrelson deserves to get another Academy Award nomination, and subsequently win an Oscar because this is the best role he's ever done.
If you haven't seen this... GO! If you can't get someone to go with you, call Doctor Zombie. I'll fucking go again!
DOCTOR ZOMBIE'S RATING: 5 OUT OF 5 CHOMPED BRAINS!!!
Sunday, August 30, 2009
Really, Rob. Really?
Look, I gave you the benefit of the doubt when you re-did the original Halloween. I expected that I found it so underwhelming because you tried too hard to please too many people. Whether it was the fans, or the producers, or the MPAA, or your own vision; the simple truth is that you couldn't please everyone.
And the fact is - you've shown some actual aptitude and some truly unique talent in your earlier movies. As I wrote a week or so ago, I had my concerns about your second visit to Haddonfield, and I hoped that my trepidation was unfounded.
I now see that I was deluding myself.
Halloween 2 is a terrible, terrible movie and you've squandered any goodwill I might have felt for the brilliance of House of a 1000 Corpses or The Devil's Rejects.
This movie was just awful. It was disjointed and had very little continuity. Which is laughable when one considers that most slasher flicks - the original Halloweens included - had plot holes you could drive trucks through.
All this movie was was a vehicle for Zombie to, once again, showcase the easy-on-the-eyes, but unable-to-act, Sherri Moon Zombie. It was exactly what I feared.
The story, of course, takes place one year after the events of the first film. It starts out promising enough... but quickly devolves into a blurred and indistinct mess punctuated by images of Sherri Zombie in a white dress, or talking in her stupid baby voice, or wandering around with a white horse and surrounded by an eerie and ethereal light.
Scout Taylor-Compton resumes her role as Laurie Strode and now lives with Sheriff Brackett and his daughter Annie (the only other survivor of Michael Meyers first attack). She's now living in a room decorated in a style that can only be described as nouveau crack house. She's changed from the preppy, cute, fashioable teen she was in the first movie to a stringy haired, white trash pastiche wearing clothes that one would see on a homeless bag lady. She is haunted by nightmares of Michael Meyers and, of course, is plagued by the feeling that he just might be alive.
And of course Michael is.
He has been apparently living as a hobo and has gone unnoticed in Illinois. Funny really, considering every law enforcement agent in the state has been looking for him. Right. That makes sense... because seven foot tall, massive, psychotic hobos blend in to the scenery in your average, local farm community.
It's not a spoiler to say that Michael returns, causes havoc, and kills a lot of people. What's missing is a good story line or an attempt to make it engaging.
Sherri Zombie returns as Michael's mother, but is now a ghostly apparition that encourages Michael to kill lots of people and find his younger sister. And this is the part that makes me the most angry about wasting my time on this movie. The story line with the ghostly Momma Meyers did not, in any way, add to the film. You could have just as easily left it out and, in fact, it may have helped to do so. But we can't do that because, you know, then Sherrie Zombie wouldn't have had a job and wouldn't have felt like she contributed to the family finances. It must be hard living off of all Rob's record, movie, and art money. Poor Sherri! Hell, this was like charity.
Too bad I hate charity.
And the Mamma Meyers story made less sense in the grand scheme of things because - in addition to Michael seeing her - so does Laurie. Which makes no sense. The only way I could see explaining it is that Rob is alluding to the supposed psychic link that existed between Michael Meyers and his niece Jamie in Halloween 4 and 5. Cool points if he did, and nice allusion to Danielle Harris' role in the earlier films -- but I truthfully don't think Rob intended to do that. I may just be giving him too much credit.
Additionally, there were some small cameos that did little to add to the film. Malcolm McDowell's Dr. Loomis is wandering around doing a book tour and only comes to Haddonfield in the last 5 minutes of the film. The only bright spots were Danielle Harris and the incomparable Brad Dourif... but neither of them could do much with the shit they were given.
Overlooking the glaringly awful story and nepotism that gave Sherri Zombie another shot at movie money -- the actual horror was minimal at best. Instead of giving a moody, dark, horror film (which Rob has shown he can do)... we're left with a movie that assaults the senses with violence that has little to no value in the overall story. And - in contrast to the puerile story and writing - this is the only area in which Zombie excels. I've said before that Rob has a way of filming death that makes it seem real and visceral, and that's still true. There is a brutality and veracity to the murders that Zombie captures, and it makes this a movie not for the squeamish. For gore-hounds like Doctor Z, though, it's like mana from heaven. Too bad it doesn't redeem the other inadequacies. When you look at the excellent carnage when compared to the myriad other deficencies,it's just not enough. You are left with brutal scenes that I would normally love, if I weren't so angry about the poor story and acting.
On another positive note, kudos to the Foley artists. They more than earned their pay. Every kills sounded awesome -- if only it wasn't the same thing over and over again. Namely, Michael standing over the victim and stabbing them repeatedly off screen.
What other travesties does this film deliver? Oh, where to begin...
How about the fact that Michael Meyers spends most of the movie without his mask on. Or that he makes sound everytime he kills someone. We here him grunting and growling as he viciously stabs the 15 or 20 people he randomly kills. So much for the mythology, Rob. Way to go.
I am so disappointed with this movie, and on so many levels.
The sad thing is that Rob's first pass at the Halloween franchise was a better film than this... and that movie was mediocre at best.
As I told a friend earlier - watching this movie was like spending two hours having my brain stem and the ancillary reasoning centers of my brain assaulted over and over with a shit covered stick. How can someone - who is such a fan of horror and all associated spookiness - get it so wrong? I don't know which is worse... that Rob felt it was necessary to expose us once again to the sing-songy awfulness that is his wife, or that he's so sullied the legacy of what is arguably the greatest horror movie series of all time.
If I were John Carpenter, I'd sue Rob Zombie for gross negligence, total lack of respect, and general jackassery.
DOCTOR ZOMBIE'S RATING: 1 out of 5 Chomped Brains
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
I received a copy of this film from my fellow horrorhound, Count Dante. He was surprised I hadn't seen it yet and, truthfully, I'm surprised I hadn't either. I remembered hearing good things about it when it first came out, but it somehow managed to slipped under my radar.
Boy! Was I negligent or what?!?
Feast, in a word, is fucking awesome. It is a horror movie that does what I wished so many low budget films did more often;, namely, throw the old conventions and cliches out the window...
The third and final installment in Ben Affleck and Matt Damon's Project Greenlight series, this film was directed by John Gulager. His father, famed horror and b-movie actor Clu Gulager (Burt, from Return of the Living Dead), plays one of the characters and is part of an ensemble cast that does a great job with the script and the overwhelmingly frantic pace of the film's action and terror.
The story revolves around a group of feckless losers all hanging around a desert bar on one lonely night. Their night and plans of drunken idiocy are interrupted when two characters called The Hero (Eric Dane),and the Heroine (Navi Rawat) arrive with several gruesome, filthy, ravenous monsters hot on their tails. The poor denizens of the bar spend the rest of the movie fighting to stay alive.
From the opening scene, this movie is relentless, offensive, gory, and overwhelming in its violence... and Doctor Zombie would have it no other way. This movie has everything a horror fan could dream of from gore to horror to humor to Henry Rollins. That's right... Henry Fucking Rollins. And Rollins plays one of his best roles yet... a nebbish traveling salesman who spouts self help and inspirational mantras like Al Franken's titular character, Stewart.
Also add Jason Mewes to the mix and you've got some cameo casting that can't be beat.
The writers, Patrick Melton and Marcus Dunstan, wrote a masterpiece here. They took the tired genre staple of a group of people trapped and fighting an unknown evil, and made it fresh. They also blatantly took the conventions to task. In fact, most of th characters don't even have names. They are known simply by their archetypes. Rollins plays Coach. We have the Hero and the Heroine. We have Beer Guy, Bozo, Tuffy, Bartender, and The Veteran. It's almost as though the writers did this in order to say, "Don't even bother to learn their names, because they most likely won't be around long enough for you to attach yourself to any of them anyway."
The blood is awesome (no poorly rendered CGI here!) and there's buckets of the stuff. Barrels of the old red. Christ, there's swimming pools of it! The monsters are great and add the perfect mix of terror and humor to the situation. As I said before, no depravity is left unturned. The monsters are hungry, dangerous, insane, and remarkably lusty. One particular scene stands out - a smaller, immature monster gets into the bar and tears the face off of a patron. Not satisfied with having killed the poor person, the little filthy beast then proceeds to hump the face hole in full view of the remaining survivors.
That's the kind of dark, evil, and decidedly hilarious stuff that you won't see at a PG-13 showing of Prom Night. Hell, if some shaggy, toothy beast shagged Paris Hilton in Wax Works, I might have actually seen it. But no, it (I'll just have to settle for the poorly filmed One Night In Paris for that, talk about TRUE HORROR! But I digress...)
This is the sort of movie that Hollywood needs to do when they're looking to add to the horror genre. Enough with the shitty remakes of classic horror films, enough PG-13 crap, and enough Japanese ghost stories that aren't scary to the average, jaded American horror fan. Of course, the nature of this film's production gave it something of an advantage, and the fact that Affleck and Damon chose it for Project Greenlight is a testament to how cool they, and the idea of Project Greenlight, truly were.
Simply put, this is the sort of movie that would send the morons who run the MPAA screaming into the night, clawing at their eyes in an attempt to punish the soft orbs for subjecting them to such depravity.
And that fucking rocks.
You must see this film! Words can't describe the awesome!
DOCTOR ZOMBIE'S RATING: 5 out of 5 Chomped Brains!!!
Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Just a quick note to let you know that I haven't forgotten about you (and you can hide from me under the bed all you want, I can STILL hear your frightened, harsh breathing).
I'll be out of communication for the next few days as myself, Mrs. Zombie, WolfGirl and Zombie Boy travel to the dark and eldritch woods of northern Michigan to... camp! That's right! I'll be spending several days convalescing on the shores of beautiful Lake Huron in a pop-up. Cleveland will be murder-free as a result of my absence, but I expect Michigan is unprepared for the carnage that inevitably and inexorably follows the good Doctor.
I'm excited because the summer is drawing to a close and - soon - autumn will be here. And that means one thing... Halloween! That wonderful, dark, perfect holiday that all good evil undead scientists look forward to.
And speaking of Halloween coming soon, remember that August 29th will be bringing Rob Zombie's Halloween 2 to the movie theaters. I'm up in the air about how this film's going to go... I absolutley lurve Rob Zombie as an artist and director, but I was a bit underwhelmed by his initial pass at John Carpenter's masterpiece, Halloween. and some of the previews haven't assuaged my misgivings. The biggest problem? The return of sherry Moon Zombie as an apparent ghost who eggs Michael Meyers on.
That's right, it looks like Rob has managed to kill his wife in one movie and then resurrect her in the second. Now far be it from me to begrudge the dude getting his girl some movie parts. The dark gods know she's not getting any other offers. And I'll be the first to admit she's hot as hell. If I was Rob, I'd be showing her off like it was my job... but the sad fact is that she doesn't need to be in every one of your movies, bro. Seriously.
I'll obviously be at the theater opening weekend to see it, but my cringe meter is beeping.
We'll just need to see.
In other Rob Zombie news, it looks like there's going to be a direct to DVD release of his The Haunted World Of El Superbeasto. This animated work is based on the comic character he created with Steve Niles and looks to be fucking awesome! It even has the SS Werewolves of the Third Reich that he first brought to life in the Grindhouse trailer of the same name. Finally, he'll soon be starting on his Tyrannosaurus Rex after his next studio album. It sounds like he's going for a super-violent grindhouse style pick of his own. It looks to be interesting.
Of course it's scheduled to be released in 2011 and IMDb lists only one actor.
Sherry Moon Zombie.
Another film I'm completely and totally excited to see is District 9. Opening this upcoming weekend, it looks to be an awesome movie. Of course, I've been suckered in by a pretty trailer before -- but this has the feel of a great idea and a great film. We'll need to see. Unfortunately, as I'll be fending off enraged, human-flesh hungry sasquatches (sasquatchi?) in the wilds of Michigan, I'll need to wait until the following weekend to sneak out and see it. Maybe I'll make a night of it and catch Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds as well...
Finally, I wanted to throw some love towards Dr. Tarr and Professor Fether from Northwestern Ohio. I've been doing movie reviews for them for some time and they're some great, groovy, kooky cats who are doing some awesome and deliciously morbid work. I haven't given them a plug in forever, and realized it was long past due. Go to Tarr and Fether's Psycho Cinema - Doctor Zombie commands it!
Also - remember to visit and heap adulation on the awesomeness of The Daily Tourniquet. The mad genius who runs things over there - Jeff Connolly - continues to provide great fiction, poetry, and general social media madness; all at the tips of your gnawed, bloody fingers.
The power of Zombie compells you! The power of Zombie compells you!
That's all for now, dear readers. If you live in the Cleveland area, I'll see you in a week or so. If you live in Michigan, hope that I don't show up at your doorstep with my bag of pointy, sharp, rusty tools and a big smile.
Saturday, August 08, 2009
It has been said that - for the true horror film devotee - all paths eventually and inexorably lead downward to the depravity that is Cannibal Holocaust. For my part, I had been trying in vain to get a decent enough copy of it for the last couple years. Finally, I managed to snag an uncut Director's version of the film and it is every bit as disturbing and deliciously depraved as they said.
Italian Director Ruggerio Deodata's classic splatterfest is a must see. There's no arguing that. It is to this movie that the recent spate of cinema verite-style horror can trace its roots. Taking the idea of reality based film making to an extreme still unmatched, Deodata gave us a film so disturbing that it is still banned in a significant majority of countries, including Great Britain, and has the distinction of being the most banned movie of all time.
When it first came out - much like the uproar that The Blair Witch Project engendered - there was some confusion about whether or not it was a true film or an artistic film of questionable taste. In fact, many of the bans of this film were because it was believed to actually be a snuff film. The director and producers in fact had to answer to the law, faced arrested, and were made to produce the still alive - and not actually cannibalized - actors as proof that it was not a document of murder.
The film tells the story of the recovered footage of a group of documentary film makers who attempt to film previously undiscovered native people in the Amazon rain forest. They disappear into the vast jungle never to be seen or heard of again. The film is told from the perspective of an anthropologist who tries to track down the original filmmakers and fails, but recovers the footage from a tribe of aboriginal natives.
Approached by the same network that financed the original trip, the professor films his odyssey as well and - once he returns to New York - begins to piece the lost footage together. What he finds is horrifying and - ultimately - unusable for its sheer brutality.
Looking at this film from the perspective of a jaded horror fan, the actual gore and violence of this movie does look contrived. The makeup effects and alleged violation of the corpses throughout are obviously faked - but I watched this movie some thirty years after it was made. In 1980 - when it came out - it must have been grotesquely horrifying. I fully see how this could be seen as a snuff film and, while I don't agree with the banning of it, I understand the reaction by the more conservative members of society who first behold the film in all of its cannibalistic, murderous, rape-filled glory.
This film has everything. As I just mentioned, there's murder, rape, cannibalism, and gore galore. But, at its heart - and this is the part that those who would rather make it illegal miss - it shows that we and our so-called civilized morality are the true horrors in a primitive world. It's an indictment of the press and documentary film-makers who will do anything to tell a compelling story. And the missing filmmakers turn out to be far greater monsters than the cannibals they encounter in the bush.
When taken in its entirety, this film is a valuable part of horror film history in that it breaks boundaries never before crossed and does so unabashedly. Interestingly enough, the murders and mutilations shown are gruesome and undoubtedly disturbing to more sensitive viewers - but they are not the most disturbing aspects of this film. In fact, there's a genital mutilation scene that's actually really well done, as is the iconic scene of the woman impaled on the log. But, the scenes that cause the most discomfort and outcry from the non-horror fans who watch it are undoubtedly those were they actually show the killing and gutting of real animals.
The director himself has disavowed his use of animal slaughter in the movie. He said if he could do anything differently, it would have been to remove those scenes. In fact, many later versions have deleted these scenes. Thankfully, the version I saw retained these images. I understand the squeamishness casual viewers might feel when watching the death of the animals, but I myself had no problem with it. Most likely, it is because I grew up hunting and have done similar acts while gutting a deer or skinning and gutting a rabbit.
All in all, this is a great movie that, like I said in the beginning, should be viewed by all horror fans who consider themselves true horror denizens. It is a film that pushes all boundaries and is de rigeur viewing for all gorehounds like the good Doctor hisself! One could look upon it as apex where splatter and grindhouse meets the excess of 1980's slasher films. It mixes shocking images of gore and violence with biting social commentary of Romero-like proportion. See this movie if you can! Doctor Zombie commands it!
DOCTOR ZOMBIE'S RATING: 5 OUT OF 5 CHOMPED BRAINS.
Monday, August 03, 2009
Sci-Fi Channel (or SyFy - whatever) is trying to kill me. Seriously - is SyFy, or Chiller for that matter, the mucky, fly covered, smelly bottom of the port-o-john as far as cable movie stations go? It is a source of constant amazement and never ending bewilderment to me as to where and why they get so many truly awful movies. AMC does a great job of showing great and classic horror on Friday nights and at Halloween time. USA and Spike get first rate horror and sci-fi movies that are sometimes mere months out of the movieplexes.
And SyFy gets crap like I Am Omega.
I do need to be honest in that I am a huge fan of the source material for this film. Richard Matheson's I Am Legend is probably one of the greatest science fiction novels of all time and is quite probably THE singular piece of survival horror fiction that all modern apocalyptic fiction can trace its roots to. Indeed, until Cormac McCarthy's brilliant, poignant, and bleak The Road came out - I'd argue that no book has come so close to capturing the horror and loneliness of being the only survivor in a world that's moved on. Sadly, it is against this backdrop that the movie adaptations of this novel continue to disappoint.
The best version - so far - was the first attempt back in 1964. Vincent Price's The Last Man on Earth was a brillinat masterpiece. Charlton Heston did a decent job in The Omega Man, but the story was damaged by his ego, his overacting, and the poor script quality. I Am Legend, with Will Smith, was decent - but the poorly rendered CGI and lame ass ending ruined an otherwise cool film.
And then we have I Am Omega. A typical film from the low budget film distributer, The Asylum, it attempts to make money off of the release of a better known film (in this case, the aforementioned I Am Legend). The Asylum's business plan involves your going to the local video store and discovering that the new release of the coolest sci-fi or horror movie is all out. This will force you to maybe take a chance on the similarly named, similarly themed film that is alphabetically close to the movie you came for. Essentially, The Asylum is the equivalent of the generic version of your favorite vegetable at the grocery store. But, instead of a black and white label, they spend an assload of money on really cool DVD cover art that has nothing to do with the enclosed film, but is designed to lure you in.
And I'm cool with that, to an extent. I won't begrudge companies making low budget, indie horror or sci-fi films. In fact, if we didn't have low budget horror films, many great classic films would have never been made. Where I have an issue is when the films are just horrible and are put together purely for the money they can make. If you don't have a love for the genre, don't get into it. That's all I'm saying.
Enter I Am Omega. Mark Dacascos plays Renchard, the last man left alive after a plague hits the earth and turns the rest of the population into zombies. But he's not the last guy. There's some other military guys who show up to bully him into helping them rescue a woman trapped in the local city. The woman, by the way, may have the cure. Or something like that. I really reached the point of not caring about 20 minutes into it and watching it became less about enjoying a zombie movie as it was a stubborn refusal to turn it off - a test of wills, really. An endurance contest between myself and the mental anguish and pain this movie induced in me. I felt the need to see who who would blink first because I NEEDED some horror that night. Something, anything was better than reruns of Dog the Bounty Hunter. The thing is, I'm not really sure who won... but I suspect that I am now somehow dumber for having watched this movie.
I wanted to like this movie. Really. Like I said, I am a fan of the source material. And changing the monsters in it from vampires to zombies had the potential to be good. And I even kind of like Mark Dacascos (He practically channeled Brandon Lee in the TV series version of The Crow). But the effects, production, makeup, and dialogue were so bad as to be almost painful. This movie is a prime example of why non-fans shouldn't be allowed to make or produce horror films.
What else sucked? Oh let me count the suck...
The direction. Mark Dacascos did his noble best with what he had, and I'm sure he needed the money to make a condo payment, but the direction was just atrocious. I don't know if the director went to film school, and neither did I for that matter, but I'm pretty sure there MUST be a rule that says if you use repeated 360 degree camera whip pans, there needs to be some pay off to them. They are great at building tension, but it jangles the nerves in the back of my undead skull to see them repeatedly and then have NOTHING happen. The beginning had potential as it showed how the the character of Renchard was losing his mind, but any meaningful character develoment was thrown out the window as soon as the opportunity for karate kicks, explosions, car chases, and an endless slew of action movie cliches presented themselves.
And I am so goddamned sick of seeing zombies in movies who are little more than guys in jumpsuits, with some black makeup and karo syrup blood smeared on their face. Running around shrieking does not a zombie make. Especially when the main character can defeat them with a well placed over-exaggerated karate kick.
And don't even get me started on the racist, stereotypical military characters. They were, for all intents and purposes, walking bags of cliche with lines that nobody would ever say in real life. And if they did, they most likely would deserve a garrotting.
The saddest part is that the only truly redeeming thing about this film was the very small chuckle I emitted when I saw that the main character was driving around town in a ...wait for it... Olds Omega.
So - the final verdict? Bad story, stupid script, criminally negligent direction, painful acting, and a complete and utter waste of time. Yes it had zombies, but even that could not bring redemption. The very valuable life lesson learned here? Stay away from late night movies on SyFy. In the name of all that is holy, stay away!
DOCTOR Z'S RATING: 1 out of 5 Chomped Brains
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
They're wacky, they're bizarre, and they're a sign that I most likely need serious, serious psychiatric help.
First on our cavalcade of oddness is this great article I found on the middle name of Wayne. It's from over at News of the Weird. The owner of that site noticed an oddity that seems too common to be mere coincidence. Apparently, there are literally hundreds of murderers out there - - all with the middle name of Wayne. Weird, huh? I mean we all know the famous ones... like John Wayne Gacy or Elmer Wayne Henley. But - seriously - there are many more. A disturbing amount more. Now, I've heard it argued before that the press has a weird fascination with using the middle name of serial killers (I even believe the X-Files had an episode where one of the Lone Gunmen waxed philosophical about it). I imagine it's done to differentiate the killers from normal people with the name and, hopefully, spare them some of the shame and infamy they're namesakes might have had. I mean, could you imagine how bad it would suck if your mom, Mrs. Dahmer, really like the name Jeff? And that's probably one of the reasons for the whole Henry Lee Lucas, John Wayne Gacy, Lee Harvey Oswald thing. Or is it? Anyway... I'm just bringing this to your attention in case you actually know someone with the middle name Wayne. If you do, I'd keep an eye on that fucker. I bet he's - right now - thinking about killing you, raping your corpse, and eating your liver. I'm just saying...
I will be the first to admit I love Goth music and wearing all black. So much so that Mrs. Zombie tends to get pissed off when she sees my t-shirt drawer. "Dammit, Doctor Z!" says she, "would it kill you to get a blue or green shirt? If you buy one more black shirt I'm going to scream!" That being said, I'm old school enough to say that I went through the black eyeliner, long black hair, and all back clothes phase sometime in the early 90's (I blame Brandon Lee and The film adaptation of J. O'Barr's The Crow"). That being said, I was always aware of the limitations of my fashion choices. Believe it or not, Northern Ohio, in the summer, is beastly hot and humid. Unbearably so. So I've never been adverse to wearing shorts and dressing for comfort. This site, on the other hand, makes fun of Goths who just won't let their emo, Marilyn Manson obsession go. It's called Goths In Hot Weather. The site's funny, snarky, and makes me laugh because I get it and have been there. Check it out.
In line with my never ending fascination with cannibalism in all of its forms... as well as my goal to climb a mountain in the next year... this is a great article about how best to survive an emergency where it becomes necessary to eat your fellow travelers or plane crash victims. Useful information to be found here. Sure Bear Grylls will drink his pee and squeeze water from elephant poo... but does he mention tips for how to eat someone when you're trapped above the death zone on a 14000meter peak? I don't think so. (And I totally think Les Stroud is more likely to eat a brother than old Bear. Bear's badass, but Les is a god!)
Michael Jackson. Yeah. He died. And I'm commenting on it. You have no idea how much I hate myself for having to do this. Anyway... I get the mass hysteria his death produced. I will (grudgingly) admit that I had a copy of Thriller and spent an entire Boy Scout troop meeting sometime back in the 80's trying to moonwalk. I think the single Thriller and the subsequent video continues to be a masterpiece of Halloween goodness. And I do respect him as a musician. In today's soulless, over produced wasteland that is pop music, there will never be a performer of his caliber. All of these things I will concede. But am I the only one who thinks his whole legacy was tainted by the fact that he did inappropriate things with little boys?!? I get that he was probably mentally ill and that it was a direct result of his douchebag father, Joe Jackson -- but it still doesn't sit right. All the adulation seems odd to me. But, that aside, the reason I'm writing this is because I knew he was obsessed with Peter Pan. There are some that argue that was his whole goal with the skin bleaching and cosmetic surgery. This article, though, sheds some light on another of Jacko's obsessions and fascinations. Apparently, he wanted to do a movie based on the life of Edgar Allen Poe. He identified with the brilliant but tortured writer. Kind of gives it a different spin, huh? I can't say that I would have seen a movie about Poe as played by Michael Jackson... but I'd be there opening night if it was a Tim Burton film starring Johnny Depp. Totally.
This video is fucking brilliant! If Doctor Z hadn't mangled his beanbag with a vasectomy... this would totally make me buy condoms again! Found via Fangoria.com and Trojan.com...
This just pisses me off! Am I the only evil genius who dreams of a wondrous world full of Dr. Moreau-like chimeras and manimals!?! Fucking Congress and their stupid laws about "scientific responsibility". If it passes, by the way, I'm not going to do anything about the cooler full of human/animal embryos I have in a corner of my lab beneath the Midnight Theater of Terror. They can have my test tubes when thy pry them from my cold, undead hand! (When they make genetic god-like monster creation criminal, only criminals will have genetic god-like monster creation labs!)
Fascinating site I'll be adding to the blogroll. Some great pictures in here... check it out!
That's all for now, dear readers... I'll be back for more cannibalism, degeneracy, and various, nefarious shenanigans soon!!!
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
On a writing note, make sure you check out a new site called The Daily Tourniquet. It's a horror site that, on 6/11, will be publishing one of my short stories called "Working Stiffs". As they've shown me some love by actually publishing one of my stories, I'd appreciate it if you showed them some love by checking out the site. It's got a neat design and some great dark art, fantastic fiction, and beautifully creepy poetry happening.
So... that's all for now my lovely undead minions. The Doctor will return shortly and I promie the horror will begin anew!
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Note: This was written last week on Thursday May 7th, but for obvious reasons, I held off on posting it to let family know...
It was just three little words. The three words you never want to hear. I was sitting in a surgical oncologist’s office two days ago, the lights dimmed so she could better show me the MRI scans, the ultrasounds, and the mammograms.
You’d think that I would have reacted differently then I did.
“You have cancer.”
Three little words.
“You have cancer.”
Instead of getting angry, or crying, or denying the obvious - I simply nodded and asked the doctor what the next steps were.
And it’s been like that ever since. That same numbness, that same measured acceptance; it’s not so much apathy as it’s acceptance of an unpalatable inevitability.
I often joke with my wife that I’m not a lucky person. I can count on one hand the times I’ve won something. And yet, I somehow managed to pull the cancer lottery and get one of the rarest forms of cancer for men. I’ll get to that in a minute… and that last statement will be abundantly clear as you read on.
You see, back in November or December of last year, I started to notice occasional wet spots on my shirts. For a week or so, I didn’t think anything about it. Then I noticed that it was always the same spot. Imagine my confusion when I realized that my right nipple was leaking a clear serum-like fluid.
“Hmmm… That’s odd,” I thought.
So, as I'm a typical Gen-X'er, I turned to the internet to figure out why in the hell an otherwise healthy, albeit slightly overweight, 38 year old male would have clear shit coming out of his nipple. I saw some bodybuilding websites that talked about increased estrogen levels and changing up supplements. I disregarded those because I’ve, for the last two years, been taking a doctor prescribed testosterone supplement to deal with lowered boy juice levels (it’s the result of a wonky liver). Besides, who listens to the meathead jocks anyway? They’re the ones who think it’s cool to pump anabolic steroids and shrink your nuts.
So my web crawling continued. I landed at Web MD, where I found some information that was a little more helpful. Disturbing phrases kept popping up, though. Thinks like; “unilateral discharge” and “cancer” and “ductal carcinoma”.
I decided to see my doctor. That was in March. I had increased my dosage on my testosterone and noticed a decrease in the nipple discharge. Sometimes I’d go days with no leaking. Then one day, on a whim, I gave the old moob a squeeze, and it shot a stream of liquid across the bathroom. Time to see a doctor, I said to myself.
My doctor looked at it and recommended further testing. And here’s where the indignity kicked in. Believe me when I say that there is nothing more emasculating then being a man and having to go get a mastectomy. The waiting room, the exam room, even the consultation room are all festooned in the ubiquitous pink imagery and ribbons of the woman’s breast cancer movement. And there is nothing so embarrassing and cringe inducing than being a five foot ten inch, 240 pound, shaved head man with a bad attitude who has to sit in the waiting room - all while explaining to the young, vacuous, and gum snapping female receptionist, “No, it’s not a mistake. I’m supposed to be here for a mammogram. And thanks for letting everybody in the waiting room know.”
The indignity continued.
The mammogram was inconclusive - and so they immediately walked me over, shirtless and wearing a paper gown made for a petite woman – to get an ultrasound. The thing was - it wasn’t inconclusive. The radiologist was unsure of a spider-web like mass on the right side of my chest. I saw it on the screen and I remember sitting there, getting that weird feeling that things were bad.
So I had an ultrasound. Afterwards, I was allowed to get dressed, and I waited expectantly in the ultrasound room for the radiologist to review the new test. After ten minutes, the technician who’d done the ultra sound (wearing nursing scrubs with more of those Pepto-Bismol pink ribbons on it) came back and told me it was fine. I just had some dilated ducts due to excess fat and it was nothing to worry about it.
I breathed a sigh of relief and went home, happy and confident it was nothing. I was losing weight because of a diet and exercise regime I’d worked out with my regular doctor, so I figured that – once I lost some more weight – the problem would clear up on its own.
My doctor called two days later. He said the radiologist had recommended a follow up MRI. I was confused and told my doctor so.
“They told me it was fine,” I said.
My doctor assured me it most likely was, but that they were just being thorough. “If it were me,” he said, “I’d do it… although I’m sure you have nothing to worry about.”
So I went for the MRI.
At this point, my wife was getting worried and went with me. I reassured her that they’d said it was all right. I told her that it was just to be safe. I promised her it was nothing.
The day after the MRI, my doctor called back and said I needed to get a biopsy. The mass was still hard to define and they weren’t sure, and the best bet was to get a chunk of it. He was still optimistic, but I was starting to get worried.
So, two days ago, I went to a pre-op appointment with the surgeon. As I walk through her door, I see that she’s actually a surgical oncologist.
And that’s how I found myself sitting in her office, listening to her matter-of-factly tell me that it’s a malignancy and that she’s 95% sure it’s cancer.
“You have male breast cancer,” she said.
All I could focus on was the stupid pink ribbon on her wall.
Let me give you some facts:
-- First, men DO get breast cancer
-- Male breast cancer accounts for less than 1% of all breast cancer cases. That equates to about 400 cases in the US per year, and about 1200-1500 worldwide.
-- The mortality rate is higher for men than women… but that’s mostly attributed to the fact that men ignore symptoms or because of the stigma attached to what’s commonly believed to be a woman’s disease (See: My articulation of shame at having endured a mammogram).
-- It mostly occurs in men over 60 years of age, but factors like a bad liver can cause it to occur earlier.
Remember I said I hit the lottery? Yep! I’m lucky in cancer! There’s nothing quite like scoring a super rare form of the Big C, for men at least. Yeah, me! I’d not recommend you stand near me during a lightning storm. My luck for personal catastrophe seems especially significant.
I’m sure I’m paying some sort of karmic debt here. It was most likely my joking about my man Patrick Swayze’s pancreatic cancer. Either way… it is what it is. So – this will probably be the last post about this that I put on the Midnight Theater of Terror. I have a couple other blogs that I’ve set up for various jackassery, so I think I’ll cannibalize one of them and user that to update my regular readers about what’s going on with this crazy journey I’m about to start.
I’m doing that because Doctor Zombie’s Midnight Theater of Terror is my creative outlet for fart jokes, movie reviews, fiction, poetry and other various nefarious shenanigans. Cancer - unless you’re wishing it on, say, Ann Coulter - is generally not funny. So I’m partitioning things. I think I’ll need to write my way through this, writing is a therapy for me. But, on the same hand, I don’t want to bore you or depress you here. Hope you don’t mind, dear reader. If you’re interested, feel free to follow along over on my Zombie-A-Go-Go blog.
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
If you haven't already figured it out, poetry for me is about imagery and sound. Vivid imagery is - in my mind - a hallmark of incredible poetry. And, forgive my mullet and the rock and roll devil horns, but some of the most incredible poetry ever written can be found in song lyrics. Now don't get me wrong, most pop music is - at its heart - soulless shit, and the lyrics reflect that. Sometimes it transcends the soullessness, but not often. However, other forms of music have had some of the most incredibly poetic writers imagineable... and they don't get the credit for it.
Jim Morrison, for instance. I'm not a huge Doors fan, but I appreciate Morrison's ability to write incredible lyrics. I didn't always feel this way. My friend Kristin gave me a book of his poetry some years back and it was incredible. I realized then that he was an artist. It gave me an appreciation for his music that I didn't previously have.
The list of musicians who are poets is exhaustive and I will not go into them, but I did want to post the lyrics to one of my favorite songs; Blood, Milk, & Sky by Rob Zombie.
Zombie's got some crazy lyrics and in most cases it's just a mish-mash of imagery with little sense... but this song is somehow different. I should add that I've mentioned this song before in my list of top twenty songs of all time. But I feel it necessary to show how the lyrics, even apart from the incredible music, stand up as poetry.
Take a look and you be the judge: Does this qualify as poetry? I think it does...
Blood,Milk, & Sky
The siren sings a
Lonely song of all the
Wants and hungers
The lust of love a brute
Desire - the ledge of life
Goes under - divide the
Dream into the flesh
Kaleidoscope and -
Candle eyes - empty
Winds scrape on the
Soul - but never stop
To realize -
Intoxicate the night
Hypnotize the deperate
Slow motion light - wash
Away into the rain
Blood, milk and sky
Hollow moons illuminate
And beauty never dies
Running wild running blind
I breathe the body deep
1,000 years beside myself
I do not sleep - seduce
The world it never
Screams dead water lies
Ride the only one who
Knows - beauty never dies
Tuesday, April 14, 2009
The following is one of my favorite poems by Charles Simic. It's a short little piece that pays homage to John Donne's early Sensuality poem, The Flea.
Whereas Donne's was rife with the wooing and imagery reflective of a much more romantic era... Simic's Love Flea has a darker slant to it. The imagery shows a level of obsession that borders on the creepy. What I especially love about Simic is that, even though he is not a native born English speaker, his poetry and language skills are better than people who've been speaking English for their entire lives.
And that's really sort of the crux of why I'm celebrating National Poetry Month. Our language and the expression of it are essential. I once read somewhere that the United States was the only country in the world where more than 50% of its students fail their own language.
That's shameful. And that's why I ask you to indulge my celebration of National Poetry month. I may be an English Lit and poetry dork, but I'm also dismayed at the lack of respect our own unique language and voice gets - even from those of us that grew up speaking and reading it.
Anyway...back to creepy, obsessive poems about fleas....
He took a flea
From her armpit
In a matchbox,
Even pricking his finger
From time to time
To feed it
Drops of blood.
Sunday, April 12, 2009
Even beyond this, Danny Boyle singlehandedly resurrected the zombie genre with his dark and oh-so-English-zombie-movie-that-didn't really-have-real zombies-in-it, 28 Days Later. Well directed horror films like this have returned England to the horror map in a way we haven't seen since the glory days of Hammer Films.
It is against this backdrop of heightened expectations that I approached Zombie Diaries. And I'd read some good early buzz about an English Diary of the Dead that out-zombied the master himself -- George A. Romero.
High praise indeed, and I approached the film open-mindedly based on some of the other great stuff I'd seen coming out of Britain.
I can now say, unreservedly, that the fuckers who said this movie was good were liars.
The movie started out promisingly enough. It tells the story of a group of news reporters covering a story in Northern England. Filmed in the first person, cinema verite style so popular nowadays (ala Blair Witch, or Cloverfield, or Diary of the Dead); there is good exposition about rumors of quarantines and a sickness in continental Europe and England. The crew, a likeable enough group, arrive at a farm to find an empty farmhouse. They break in and there is an incredible scene of them searching the house and finding the now zombiefied occupants in an upstairs room. Fleeing, they run into the woods and it's apparent that the zombie apocalypse is on!
It started out well enough and I was enjoying it. Then, it switched to another story several months into the zompocalypse, where we follow a ridiculously stupid trio of scavengers as they try to find food and supplies in an empty village. The actors in this vignette are made especially annoying because one of them is supposed to be an American. The actor playing the American says things like "boot" and "lorry" with his poorly concealed English accent, makes snide, stupid comments about how Brits don't have guns, and then shows he is completely incapable of shooting or handling a gun. This, by the way, is a rampant behavior throughout. The actors handle guns like people who have - understandably - never handled guns. But this is not the place to discuss the idiocy of English reactionary anti-gun lawmaking... although it would help make the movie more believable.
The scene shifts several more times and we eventually settle on a group trying to survive on a farm. The stories eventually converge and, in a heavyhanded way... the drector and writer show that - amidst the horror of a zombie outbreak - humans are still more horrifying and monstrous then the reanimated undead.
I find the premise and resolution to this movie downright insulting.
The makers of the film, in their attempt to make the film meaningful and cautionary about the human condition, succeed in only implying that they're smarter than the audience. Condescension and smugness are - as I said before - insulting.
The actors weren't all terrible, but they weren't professionals, either. In fact, I couldn't shake the feeling that this was a college film project; a project so bad that the only way this film could have possibly gotten a distribution deal was because the director managed to give a blowjob to someone in the business. That's right, someone had to become a whore to get this film out there. It's the only explanation.
What else was bad? Oh, plenty...
The camera work was terrible. It was nausea inducing, and I've never - ever - gotten that motion sickness feeling when watching any other movie of this type. What was worse, and almost criminal, was that the cameras were handled by the actors -- and nobody had the wits or foresight about themselves to say, "linger on the approaching zombie and NOT the ground, the tree, the sky, and your big, stupid feet in rapid fucking succession!"
Also, an hour and a half of a camera bouncing around jarringly whilst hearing heavy breathing as an out of shape actor runs about aimlessly does not a good movie viewing experience make. Even if you do punctuate the out of breath running with the occasional clipped, British-accented, "Oh dear."
And that cool cover art (see it at the top of the review)? Yeah... typical straight to DVD shenanigans. I hate that. When you spend an assload of money - more than you did to actually make the movie itself - to design a really, really cool DVD cover in order to TRICK people into buying or renting your crappy movie - you are obviously a douchebag. So, whoever's responsible for that? Bravo... you're a douchebag.
The worst part is I bought into the hype and wasted part of a gift card to buy this on DVD. I spent $20 to own what could best be described as a movie that was filmed by simply handing some college kids a camera and saying, "Here. Have fun!"
So let me sum up and reiterate... horrible acting, terrible dialogue, stupid story. The only reason this film didn't get a Zero out of 5 Chomped Brains was because of the honestly good beginning and the fact that it had SOME zombies in it. Nothing else redeemed it, that's for sure!
Aaarrrgghhh! This movie was so stupid it made me want to kick small children and puppies out of sheer spite!!!!
Doctor Zombie's Rating: 1 out of 5 Chomped Brains
Saturday, April 11, 2009
I opted for the Sonnet, but it was a hard decision.
I love all of Eliot's work. Despite claims by the literati that his poetry was not, in fact, poetry... he helped define the modernist poetry movement in the first half of the 20th century.
And Hollow Men is quintessential Eliot. Given that it is a free form poem and there is no meter per se, the mere economy of his words and stanzas generate their own meter. And the meter moves and adjusts throughout.
There is also a darkness to this poem that appeals to me emotionally. Eliot won the Nobel Prize in Literature and his detractors can say whatever they like... but in Doctor Z's book, T.S. Eliot is a genius.
The Hollow Men
by T.S. Eliot
Mistah Kurtz—he dead.
A penny for the Old Guy
We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats’ feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar
Shape without form, shade without colour,
Paralysed force, gesture without motion;
Those who have crossed
With direct eyes, to death’s other Kingdom
Remember us—if at all—not as lost
Violent souls, but only
As the hollow men
The stuffed men.
Eyes I dare not meet in dreams
In death’s dream kingdom
These do not appear:
There, the eyes are
Sunlight on a broken column
There, is a tree swinging
And voices are
In the wind’s singing
More distant and more solemn
Than a fading star.
Let me be no nearer
In death’s dream kingdom
Let me also wear
Such deliberate disguises
Rat’s coat, crowskin, crossed staves
In a field
Behaving as the wind behaves
Not that final meeting
In the twilight kingdom
This is the dead land
This is cactus land
Here the stone images
Are raised, here they receive
The supplication of a dead man’s hand
Under the twinkle of a fading star.
Is it like this
In death’s other kingdom
At the hour when we are
Trembling with tenderness
Lips that would kiss
Form prayers to broken stone.
The eyes are not here
There are no eyes here
In this valley of dying stars
In this hollow valley
This broken jaw of our lost kingdoms
In this last of meeting places
We grope together
And avoid speech
Gathered on this beach of the tumid river
The eyes reappear
As the perpetual star
Of death’s twilight kingdom
The hope only
Of empty men.
Here we go round the prickly pear
Prickly pear prickly pear
Here we go round the prickly pear
At five o’clock in the morning.
Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom
Between the conception
And the creation
Between the emotion
And the response
Falls the Shadow
Life is very long
Between the desire
And the spasm
Between the potency
And the existence
Between the essence
And the descent
Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom
For Thine is
For Thine is the
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.
I was excited to finally get a chance to see Fido. I had heard great things about it on the various horror sites I lurk about on on a daily basis.
This independent zombie film does not fail to deliver.
Directed and written by a relatively inexperienced team, this wonderful zomcomrom (zombie comedy/romance) hits all the right notes and, in addition to paying homage and respecting the genre's established conventions, it manages to add to the genre with a story line that is innovative and fresh.
The story takes place sometime in the late 1940's or early 1950's. It's after the war, but instead of having fought Germans, Italians, and the Japanese... mankind was pitted against hordes of the ravenous undead. This simple premise is what makes this film seem so absolutely brilliant. It still has America luxuriating in the blissful, innocent, post-war years that my father was born into. The "golly gee", Leave It To Beaver world where men wear chinos and work to provide a living. The women wear house gowns and wait for their men to return home, their makeup done and a pre-diner cocktail waiting for their man. And the kids dream of being cowboys and trade baseball cards while playing ball in the sandlot at the end of the street.
And Fido perfectly captures that nostalgic innocence beutifully, although there's now a darker side to it. Kids have shooting practice in their curriculum at school, learning to defend their families and selves with zombie killing headshots. The idyllic towns are surrounded by fences, behind which a wasteland crawling with the undead shamble about in search of warm, living flesh. As an added bonus...technology has now enabled the Zombie War survivors to even domesticate zombies with a special collar... turning them into the perfect, docile house servent.
And this is the crux of the story. The Robinsons are living the new American dream.. with ineffectual and zombie-traumatized dad (played by the always great character actor, Dylan Baker), neglected wife Helen (Carrie Ann Moss) and their son Timmy. Helen, tired of her husband's fear of zombies and wanting to 'keep up with the Joneses', orders their own zombie. Fido (played by Billy Connelly) arrives... and Fido becomes the dog that Timmy never had.
That is, until Fido's collar begins to malfunction.
The cinematography and visuals of this flick were absolutely incredible. The Director and DP did a fabulous job of capturing the look and feel of 1950's America. And then, there are scenes like the one where a recently zombified neighbor goes on the hunt. Beautifully rendered, the zombie stalks through the night against a backdrop of the moon which fills the screen.
There was little gore in the film, but what was done was done brilliantly. The costumes, the sets, the actors...everything was dead on.
The true standout performances though, go to lead zombie Fido and Carrie Anne Moss' Helen. Despite heavy zombie makeup that makes him near unrecognizable, and the limiting of his lines to zombie moans; Billy Connelly manages to express more emotion and pathos with just his expressions then Kevin Costner has done in ANY of his movies. Carrie Anne Moss, who I've wanted desperately since The Matrix, furthers adds to my unrequited love and sexual frustration by appealing to my 1950's pinup girl fetish.
The other characters are interesting and comic in their own right. There's the Robinson's neighbor, Mr. Theopolis (played brilliantly by Tim Blake Nelson) and his ucloseness and unexplainedly unnatural relationship to his zombie, Tammy. Then we have the villain, Special agent Bottoms, played by the excellent Henry Czerny. All of the characters are written well and the actors breathed life into the script.
Quite simply, this is one of the best zombie movies to come out in a long time.
And, I think what works so well is it's retelling of history. It makes a zombie war... and the time period in which it happens... seem believable. Recently, many of the zombie and horror sites have been excited about a novel called Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Seth Grahame-Smith. It's a retelling of Jane Austen's literary classic, Pride and Prejudice, but only with zombies.
I think this, and Fido, are an incredible idea. The zombie genre has become stale and something of a cliche; and historic reworkings are breathing new life into my beloved genre. And Doctor Zombie couldn 't be happier.
So - Fido. This is a must see. That is all!
Doctor Zombie's Rating: 5 Out of 5 Chomped Brains!!!
P.S - Mmmm.... Carrie Ann Moss...
Friday, April 10, 2009
This is one I wrote and had published somewhere or other. I believe it was online and the site is no longer around - which could mean one of two things. A) They were less concerned with paying the bills as they were with publishing poetry, or B) I'm the Ted McGinley of poetry and, if you're publishing a poem by Dr. Zombie, you'd best get ready to start bailing because your boat's a-sinking!!!
Anyway, the poem below's a short piece I wrote when I was in college and - truth be told - I still kind of like the imagery in it. Especially the juxtaposition of the imagery in the context of sound.
It's one of the few poems I wrote that I actually like... so take that for what it's worth. Either way, I still suck at poetry....
Parade of Souls
dancing in the empty streets
between the silent buildings
the smiley moon
and flickering street lamps
They pass soundlessly
through the stillness
and move on
through the night
their tattered shrouds
endless roar of silence.
I have no idea what it's about, it was mostly just an experiment in imagery.
So... feel free to look at it and comment away. Don't be shy... and don't worry about my feelings. Part of being an amoral sociopath means I can't be hurt by criticism... which is cool, right?
Watch for my next post where I'll share one of my favorite TS Eliot poems.
Saturday, April 04, 2009
I think it's wonderful that we celebrate poetry, although I will admit that - while I am reasonably proficient at prose - I actually suck at writing poetry. Which is funny because I have a deep and abiding love for the form and frequently read and enjoy it.
That being said, I will be celebrating National Poetry Month here in Doctor Zombie's Midnight Theater of Terror. Whether it's the English major/dork in me, or my unfathomable need to fill my life with pain and embarrassment, I will spend this month sharing some of my favorite poets and poetry -- as well as some of my OWN... as painful as that's going to be.
Call it the attention whore in me.
Look at this way, I will also be commenting and mercilessly ridiculing my own horrible attempts at poetry -- and encourage you to do the same! Nothing like a little blood sport to make one appreciate the masters, huh?
So... to kick off National Poetry Month, I figured I'd go with one of my favorite poets, Sylvia Plath. I'm also doing this because I just read that, a few days ago, her own son killed himself. Is there such a thing as a suicide gene?
This poem, by the way, is the last one she wrote before taking her own life. In essence, she wrote her own eulogy.
The woman is perfected
Body wears the smile of accomplishment,
The illusion of a Greek necessity
Flows in the scrolls of her toga,
Feet seem to be saying:
We have come so far, it is over.
Each dead child coiled, a white serpent,
One at each little
Pitcher of milk, now empty
She has folded
Them back into her body as petals
Of a rose close when the garden
Stiffens and odors bleed
From the sweet, deep throats of the night flower.
The moon has nothing to be sad about,
Staring from her hood of bone.
She is used to this sort of thing.
Her blacks crackle and drag.
Friday, April 03, 2009
So I’m going to try to be better about updating, I promise! In fact, I’ve got three or four movie reviews that I need to write up and post, as well as today’s post with the metric fuckton of links I’ve found over the last few weeks. Be patient with the good Doctor, dear reader, I promise I’ll continue to write and post because - really - I’m an attention whore and, if I don’t write, I’ll lose my mind and actually start listening to the screaming voices in my head. When that happens, it’s only a matter of time before I show up at someone’s door with a bag full of sharp and pointy medical instruments.
And none of us want that, do we?
So, on to the links…
I’ve said it countless times, but I get the sense that some of you still aren’t listening. I am a huge geek. I’m an alpha geek. When speaking of myself, I should put GEEK in all caps! Don’t believe me? Let me prove it. I’ve become a huge follower of this site and/or blog. That’s right, I’ve been following the exploits of Wil Wheaton. Now I know what some of you are saying. You’re saying, “WHAT?!? Wesley Crusher? I HATE that dude!” And believe me when I say I was right there with you at one time. The thing is, as I get older, I realize that the cat was just doing a job and wasn’t writing all the scripts. I like reading about his life post ST:TNG because he, like the good Doctor Zombie, is honest and unabashed in his self-proclaimed geekishness. So there. I’ve said it. I dig Wil Wheaton. In fact, I’d totally hang out with him. I’d buy him beer and we’d split the case, and we’d get drunk discussing the efficiency of warp nacelles and whether or not he ever saw Marina Sirtis naked. Wil Wheaton rocks!
My regular readers should know some other basic truths about me from my blog. They should know I’m a geek of epic proportions, they should know that I have an unnatural and decidedly creepy fascination with horror movies, and they would also tell you that I love stories about cannibalism and necrophilia. I don’t know why I’m fascinated with these stories, but I am. Maybe it’s my inability to wrap my undead head around how absolutely fucked up one has to be to sink to such unplumbed depths of depravity. I don’t know why, but I’m fascinated. That being said, this story is a testament to how weird, bizarre, and twisted human beings can get. And… for extra cool bonus points, this took place in Doctor Zombie’s state of Ohio, down in Cincinnati. As an aside on this… part of my duties at my part time security job at the local hospital is to pick up the bodies of people who’ve died and transport them to the morgue. I check in the bodies, move them around, occasionally help the coroner or the Eye Bank people prepare them, and even bag them when the nurse’s are being lazy. I can say, without equivocation, that the smells, sights, and sounds (yes, SOUNDS) one deals with when handling the deceased are not in ANY WAY sexually arousing. That this dude did this is seriously deranged and disgusting. Deranged, disgusting, and fascinating because of how creepy it is.
I’ve seen these before, but these crazy perspective chalk drawings never cease to amaze. The ones in this article are way cool, especially because they have a post apocalyptic feel to them. One thing I can say is that, while the good Doctor is an incredible writer, I do wish that I had some artistic talent. I seriously have trouble drawing a straight line to make a stick figure. I’ve always been in awe of people who could do things like this. What’s worse is that I friends who are artists of this caliber. And I love them as friends, but hate them because of their talent and ability. It is a hate borne out of envy. Is that wrong?
This story is a few weeks old, but I find it fascinating on a lot of different levels. An excavation of a plague grave in Italy has unearthed evidence of a vampire.
All right, it wasn’t a vampire, but it was what the superstitious, medieval gravediggers of the time did with what they thought was a vampire. I love this sort of story, and there’s an even cooler link attached to it with pictures of the actual grave. Which brought up an interesting question to me; namely, is excavating plague graves safe? I remember when Mrs. Zombie and I went on our honeymoon to London, we visited Greenwich where there is a big open field outside of the Greenwich Observatory named Black Heath. It’s a lovely park where families were having picnics, kids were playing, people were jogging, and it was being enjoyed by all. The thing is, I later found out that it’s a big, undeveloped park and called Black Heath because, back in medieval times, it was actually where London buried the bodies of victims of the Black Death. It was undeveloped because there was a risk of re-releasing the plague. Cool story, huh? Apparently, it’s untrue… but I find it deliciously chilling to think that an errant bulldozer and a misread work order could unleash a new onslaught of Yersinia Pestis on an unsuspecting world.
I can watch this GIF for hours. This is what happens when Millenials do too many bong hits and decide to do something cool and EXTREME; when, in fact, it will almost surely result in an epic fail. Idiots.
Found this article about a cadre of women fighters living in the hills of the Ukraine like Shaolin monks. This is sexy on so many levels… and this is the sort of thing gamers and geeks the world over have fantasies about. Soooo sexy….
This LiveJournal entry has created quite a bit of discussion over at Zombie Squad, and I had to link to it. Fair warning before you click it, though… this is, quite possibly, the worst fantasy novel EVER. If you are easily offended by horrible writing, save yourself a click. Seriously. What cracks me up is that it is like a description of a woman by a fantasy gamer/LARP’er who’s never ventured out of the womblike safety of Mom’s basement and laid eyes on a real girl. It’s like this scene in The 40 Year Old Virgin, where Steve Carrell tries to describe the feel of breasts, having never felt them.
Someone on ZS also mentioned that the monumentally bad fantasy novel was like reading any of the Gorn books. I read those back in college and, until they mentioned it, I had totally forgotten how bad the Gorn books really were. They were, like the book above, misogynistic crap. What’s scary is that there are actually people who have devoted their lives to following the “Way of Gorn”. Seriously.
On a related note, sometime I fear for humanity.
Finally, I’ve two links to the British press. I’m not really sure how I feel about the British press at times. They don’t have the standards we do, and can sometimes print outright bullshit with no care for the consequences. It’s yellow journalism at its worst, and I hate them for it. But then, there’s the snarky, sarcastic side of their reporting. I love this dearly and it’s what keeps pulling me back to The Sun and The UK Daily Mail. Nobody does snarky better than the Brits, and this article about President Obama’s visit to the UK for the G20 meeting was fucking brilliant and wholly unlike anything you’d read here in the US… even in the tabloids. The only place you can read this sort of cattiness is in the blogosphere, but even that douchebag Perez Hilton doesn’t do it as well or as well written.
The second link is to a trailer of the new Sasha Baron Cohen movie, Bruno. I’ve got to say, this cat’s a genius. He’s actually managed to out Andy Kaufman Andy Kaufman and taken this particular brand of humor and art to levels never before seen. This movie looks fucking hilarious and I’m looking forward to it.
That’s all for now, dear readers; unpleasant dreams!