Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Winter in Cleveland

So I spent last week in Tampa for work. Although it was colder than normal (mid 60's), it was still absolutely gorgeous.

I worked all last week and then, on Friday, Mrs. Zombie flew down and we spent the weekend - just the two of us - enjoying some quality time without dealing with dumb dogs, cleaning the house, arguing kids, or any of the other bazillion distractions normal life has in store for us.

The sad part is that, yesterday morning, I was here...

I woke up this morning to....

I'd never move to Florida as I enjoy the change of seasons Cleveland has... but Jesus Titty Fucking Christ is it hard to love Cleveland when it's 15 degrees and there's a foot and a- goddamn-half of snow!!!
P.S. Check out the effective use of the snow trench for the garbage can. Normally, we cut a hole in the tree lawn for the mailman, so he doesn't have to walk around, but it also serves as a place for the garbage cans. I think about all of the native Floridian's I spoke to last week and have to laugh because they'll never experience the joys of sub-freezing temperatures and stupid amounts of snow. Too bad for them...

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Wasting TIme...

So I found a couple quick links that will undoubtedly impact your work productivity negatively.

Believe me, they did for me...

The first is the wonder that is the Marvel Superhero generator. You can use this awesome little tool to make yourself into the Marvel Superhero you've always dreamed of being. My only question is - where the hell was this when I was playing the Villains and Vigilantes RPG's back in high school and college!?!?

Next we have this awesome bit of Internet wizardry. If you'll remember, a few months back, someone got a copy of David Lee Roth's audio tracks from the Running With The Devil recording session. They posted it on the internet and every radio dj and blogger was commenting on it. Many lambasted it and made fun of it, but I loved it. I'm biased, because I'm an old school David Lee Roth fan. I love him for his talent, his voice, his hubris, his planet-sized ego, and his unwillingness to accept that it's been over 25 years since women under the age of 40 find him hot. Anyway, someone took those recordings, cut them up, and put them into a soundboard. Enjoy!

By the way, take Dr. Zombie's advice here: I would not recommend that you call your wife's work and use the soundboard to leave 12 -15 Diamond Dave messages over a 4 or so hour period. Apparently, wives hate that. So much so, that she'll wait until you fall asleep and then mercilessly beat you with a piece of soap in a sock, just like Pvt. Joker beat Pvt. Pile in Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket.

On a related note, I'm healing nicely thank you. The soap-shaped stomach bruises are starting to finally fade...

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Attack Ships on Fire...

So... I recently watched Blade Runner again and, once again, realized it is one of the coolest damn movies EVER made.


I especially I love the scene where Roy Batty is about to die and he looks at Dekker and says, "I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate. All those moments will be lost in time... like tears in rain... "

This soliloquy was especially poignant to me this time around because I have been in a weird funk as of late. I wrote about it a few posts ago (or - more appropriately - whined about it) when I wrote about my aging musical tastes.

I'm not certain why I'm suddenly so nostalgic, or feeling my age so strongly. Either way, the last month or so's seen lots of Cure, Sisters of Mercy, Depeche Mode, and other music that came from a younger, brighter time of my life.

And I've also been rewatching many of the movies as well - hence my rewatching of Blade Runner.

To help with my growing ennui, I've decided to makea commitment to myself and my writing.

I've decided to make many of my this year about memories.

I plan to periodically post little glimpses into things that I've seen in my life that will be lost for all time unless I commit them to paper - or, in this case - to the electronic ether this blog represents.

So - in that vein - here is a memory of one of the coolest things I've ever seen....

I posted this on Zombie Squad a month ago, but thought it would fit perfectly into my own Replicant history.

Back a few years ago, I helped my buddy Richie and his then girlfriend, Dr. Michelle, move back to Ohio from Oregon.

We had stopped at Mt. Rushmore and, as we were leaving, there was suddenly a rumble like a passing train. The rumble grew and turned into a a deafening crack of thunder and, in the growing gloom of the approaching nightfall, a searing stitch of lightning filled the distant sky. We hurried into our cars and resumed our trip, leaving the Black Hills under cover of one of the most incredible lightning storms I've ever seen.

After a few hours of the brilliant lightning and thunder, it started to eventually rain. And it wasn't normal rain. It was pouring rain - cataclysmic rain.

So I'm in Dr. Michelle's car (she's sleeping in the passenger seat), and I'm following Richie's truck across the high desert in a driving storm.

The sky was filled with an awe-inspiring electrical show and the wind blew dirt and sand and tumbleweeds across the seemingly endless ribbon of highway that stretched into stormy blackness before us. The thunder was like the angry roar of an avalanche and lightning crisscrossed the sky like brilliant spiderwebs spun by giant, god-like spiders.

We'd been on the road for a few days, and we were all tired, so you can imagine my surprise when - as the rain fell in shimmering, wind swept sheets and the lightning lit the inky darkness with brilliant blasts of daytime - the desert road was suddenly filled with toads.

That's right... it was a plague of toads. Millions of the little bastards.

They were pouring out of the ditches on the side of the highway like water boiling up out of a pot. In horror, we drove for a half hour through the rain, and lightning, and thunder, and fucking TOADS -- with Richie's 1968 Chevy pickup truck cutting a swath through the poor amphibious bastards.

We stopped some hours later and were standing at a gas station in the middle of
nowhere, Richie and I both drinking Jolt Colas and leaning against the building. We sat in companionable silence, slurping on the syrupy, caffeinated evil that is Jolt Cola and watching Dr. Michelle continue sleeping in the front seat of her car.

"So," I says, "did you... ummm. Hmmm... I'm really tired. I think I might have
been hallucinating for a little bit back there. You didn't see... umm... toads,
did you?"

"DUDE!" Richie yells, with a look of total relief, "I thought I was totally
losing my mind! There were toads everywhere! They were popping under my

... to this day, Dr. Michelle refuses to believe us that it happened.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Movie Review - Quarantine (2008)

Quarantine is a scene for scene remake of the Spanish horror film, [REC]. I saw Quarantine with no preconceived notions as I haven't had time to see the original film it was based on. All I knew was that [REC] has been hailed as one of the best foreign horror films to come along in awhile and has been mentioned along with Let The Right One In and Haut Tension as examplars of some of the great stuff that is being made outside of the US.

Additionally, on the mainstream horror sites out there - like Bloody Disgusting and Dread Central - Quarantine was showing up equally on Best and Worst lists by various horror writers. That alone was reason enough for me to make a point of checking it out. I should note, the drama around this movie falls into a couple different camps. The first is those who hate it because it is an almost scene for scene remake of another movie. The cries of anguish by the people who lament 'Big Hollywood' and its oppression of smaller, independent film - while being in some cases valid - is also somewhat annoying because the system is the system. Accept it and move on. I understand this and adjust my viewing based on what I can and can't tolerate. For instance, I refuse to watch PG-13 movies because - as a hardcore horror fan - I simply will not tolerate horror that is watered down, antiseptic, and acceptable to viewing by the average 13 year old.

The second camp is dedicated to those who hate the recent onslaught of 'Reality Horror'; movies like Romero's Diary of the Dead, or Cloverfield, or genre progenitor, The Blair Witch Project. Where I agree that it has yet to be done well, and done effectively, it's still much better than some of the other trends out there in horror. J-Horror comes to mind. J-horror - for those who don't know - is the endless stream of remakes of Japanese horror films that are coming out. Things like The Grudge, The Ring, or the other bazillion movies that have been remade and packaged as the scariest things in the world. Ghosts aren't scary, dude. No matter how white and pasty you make them, and no matter how herky jerky you make them move across the floor. There's a cultural difference between what scares the Japanese, and what scares Americans; and ghosts don't cut it here in 'Mer'ka.

That and most of them are fucking PG-13.

Anyway - I was excited to see Quarantine because - truthfully - I'm as big a fan of reality horror as you can get and I'm still looking for a film that makes me believe that it's happening and it's real. Cloverfield came close, but it still had some level of polish that belied the believability. Well - until I'd seen Quarantine - I was disappointed. I'm excited to say that Quarantine finally proved that it's possible to make a reality horror film that doesn't feel improbable.

Quarantine tells the story of a news team who spend the night with some fireman in LA. The news crew consists of an on-air personality and her cameraman, and they ride along with two brash, but charming, firemen to a call at an apartment building. When they arrive, they find themselves suddenly thrust into a horrifying nightmare and trapped in the building, quarantined with its diverse occupants and an infection that turns its victims into insane, cannibalistic monsters.

The film has a very simple plot and premise, but it is executed to near horror perfection. I'm not really spoiling anything by telling you that the terror here is a type of infection... one could have figured it out based on the commercials and the title... but it is utilized to full effect.

The film moves at a quick pace, but doesn't feel rushed, and the camera work is exactly what one would expect from a news camera person. And that is where other reality horror films have failed. Whereas they use people with camcorders and often forget the limitations of their premise (ie; they use edits and camera technique that are obviously contrived and professional), Quarantine's camerawork becomes a part of the drama and has the feel of raw footage one would receive from, say, a war correspondent. The 'get the shot, no matter what' attitude adds to the story, and doesn't detract.

The acting was top notch, even the acting done by Jennifer Carpenter. Jennifer Carpenter plays the on air reporter and gives a strong and believable performance here. You may know Carpenter as Deb Morgan, the profane and flawed sister of everybody's favorite serial killer, Dexter. Dexter is one of my favorite television shows right now and I have always been, truthfully, disappointed by Jennifer Carpenter's work on that show. On a show with such a stellar cast and such superb talent, Carpenter's work has always seemed sub-par. This movie, though, is the perfect vehicle for her over the top delivery and performance.

At the end especially - her terror is played as though she is really and truly feeling it. She is near hysterical with fear, and Jennifer Carpenter carries the weight of all of the horror and insanity she's witnessed and makes it personal for us, the viewer. The decline of her character - from a smart, witty, self-assured career newswoman; to a terrified, hyperventilating, traumatized wreck - is fascinating to watch.

The supporting cast does an equally great job. The majority of the actors were unknowns and this worked to the story's advantage. With the exception of a couple familiar character actors - one felt that this really could have been a real crisis situation.

And, an advantage of the realistic camera work that worked incredibly well was the frequent use of jump scares. Normally, jump startles are telegraphed and - honestly -are the work of lazy, inexperienced, or bad directors. Not so in this case. There were probably a half dozen or more jump scares and every one worked to full effect. Kudos to the director and DP.

The infected, by the way, fucking rocked. One could make the argument that they're alive and, like Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later infected, weren't zombies in the purest sense. But I've never been one to get my panties in a bunch with that distinction like other zombie fans do. The fact is that the infected in Quarantine are psychotic flesh eaters who no longer feel pain is close enough to a zombie to count. And, as the movie progresses and the tension builds, the terror the infected represent is chilling and deliciously played out. And, the setting adds perfectly to the agonizing horror. Director John Erick Dowdle does a phenomenal job of making the apartment building a character in its own right. The claustrophobia and terror of being trapped and quarantined in a building with the infected is downright awesome.

To give you a feel for how palpable this fear was; imagine yourself trapped in a small five story walkup apartment with ten zombies. Now make them the running, insanely fast and aggressive zombies of Zack Snyder's Dawn of the Dead remake.

Fracking. Awesome. Dude!

One final point, this movie did something I normally hate in a movie. It gives an explanation or origin for the problem. I've railed against this before, and in other reviews, but in this case I'm ok with it. The 'explanation' actually works and adds to the story and realism, as well as provides additional terror for the principals.

All in all, this film is - in Doctor Zombie's not so humble opinion - probably one of the best horror films of 2008. In fact, it's so good, it's made me want to see the original Spanish-language [REC] to see how it compares. Unfortunately, as many who are smarter than me have said, the disadvantage to seeing some great horror movies is that you can't see them again for the first time.

So... get out there! Find Quarantine and see it. I would even go so far as to recommend that you see it in a theater because the effective use of jump scares works so much better when you're in a full theater with people screaming and reacting along with you.

I do have one major gripe - and I'm adding it here at the end. It is a bit of a spoiler so stop reading now if spoilers piss you off. I'll wait...

SPOILERS COMING (Click and highlight the space below to see...)

The poster above, and all of the advertising for the movie, basically tell you how the movie ends. In fact, because they'd played the trailer as they did on television ad nauseum, the whole last ten minutes of the movie is - in my mind - made less and to me - almost ruined it. Where I understand the powerfulness of this imagery made this movie seem really scary and creepy, and contributed to getting people in the seats to see it... I also felt it detracted.

A small gripe - but a gripe nonetheless...


...and end of review. SEE THIS MOVIE! You won't be disappointed! Dr. Z. promises!!!

Doctor Zombies Rating: 5 out of 5 Chomped Brains!!!