Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Election Day Rant!

To my regular readers - sorry! I'm getting political, and I'm going local. I promise I'll post less neighborhood-oriented stuff soon!

When I went to vote today, I saw several people with 'Vote No on Issue 6 signs'. For those that don't know, we have a renewal levy on our ballot for our schools. It is critical as our schools are in bad shape physically and financially. Add to that the fact that our current superintendent inherited a mess from the previous administration and we have the perfect storm for our school – and children – to suffer. If the levy doesn't pass, all extracurriculars will need to be cut, all AP classes will be cut, band and music and art will be cut. This is partly a result of mismanagement on the part of the prior administration, failure to pass a levy on the last ballot,  and partly the result of the recent economic downturn (Increased foreclosure in the communities means less tax money). To help with this, the teachers union has graciously forgone raises in their last contract negotiations. We NEED this levy to pass. However, we have the 'Vote No' group to contend with. We didn't pass a levy last election cycle because of their negative campaign and the wealth of misinformation they spread. I normally try to refrain from politics… but seeing these people this morning angered me.

The stated goal of this group is to call for 'accountability' of the board and the superintendent. They say the community can't afford more taxes (never mind that this is a renewal and will most decidedly NOT raise taxes). They say that the board is not spending the money correctly. They want to ask the hard questions and think of the tax-payers. Forgive me while I step well past calm and non-judgemental and tread squarely into the vulgar. They are full of shit.

Here's the simple truth: The group against the levy are rabble-rousers and are selfish douche nozzles. They are emblematic of the conservative, Tea-Bag obstructionists who so recently shamed all of us at a national level by holding the government hostage with a shutdown. They – Ted Cruz and his slavering minions, as well as the 'No on Issue 6' group - think they are being patriotic and somehow noble by 'standing up to the way things are done', pillaging the village, and salting the earth on the way out . There is nothing noble in this path. It is selfishness wrapped in the tattered rags of pointless jingoism. In their imagined and perfect world, nobody has to pay taxes and everyone is self-sufficient and life is wondrous and bright. Here's some news – taxes are a part of life. That's how it works. Taxes are an unavoidable side effect of a civilized, effective civilization. Everybody pays their tithe to the government and the government provides for the betterment of that same society.

A good school system is the bedrock of a good community. The value of your home, and the worth of your citizenry can be judged by how well you treat your children. When you are looking to buy a house somewhere new, the first question you ask is "What are the schools like". If the Anti-6 crowd had it their way, the answer would be, "Not good." This has a ripple effect on the community. Bad schools lower your property value, which means you lose money when you try to sell it, if you can at all. And, I don't want to hear the tired excuse of 'Well, my kids are grown" or "I don't have kids in the school district, why should I pay for it". Because that's what responsible members of a community do, you selfish dick. If you're retired, think of your poor kids who may have to sell your crappy house after you die to pay off your funeral and debts. Oh wait! They can't because nobody wants to buy a house that smells of old crotchety people in a city where they have shitty schools. I'd also like to note that some of the people involved in the Anti-6 group are in fact avowed home-schoolers. Now, don't get me wrong, home-schooling is a viable educational alternative. To each their own.But, because you think you can do a better job teaching your kid than professionals, don't penalize every other child in the district because you don't want to pay for something you're not using. It doesn't work like that.

 (EDIT TO ADD: This is not an indictment of home schooling in general. This is directed to a specific group of homeschool parents I know through activities with my kids here in Willoughby. In fact, I know of several exceptional home-schoolers, one of which I went to high school with. She is phenomenal and - despite the fact that her kids are home-schooled - she still understands the big picture of the impact any detriment to our school system is. Home schoolers may not have kids in the schools, but they have a stake as they pay taxes on it. I wanted to clarify that.)

And there's the important point, I think. The fact of the matter is that the Anti-6 crowd is in it to hurt our children. They have even moved beyond the 'Vote No on ALL THE LEVIES' schtick to trying to get several of their members on the school board. They want to expand their obstructionism to tying up the board who is tasked with balancing the needs of the community with the delicate tightrope – and thankless task - of funding the schools and ensuring that our kids receive the best advantages and education they possible can in an ever changing world. The insane Tea Party mantra of 'Burn it all down!" is being directed at our children and our schools.

And I cannot abide that.

Here's how it works: If you are on the school board, your first priority should be the children. You should be an advocate for the schools and for the kids who are attending. I'm not saying there should be no oversight or someone asking if we're doing everything we should, but I am saying that everything you do should be predicated on its benefit or impact on the children of the Willoughby-Eastlake School District. You are not there to  obstruct, to challenge everything the Superintendent is doing, and you are most certainly not there to uphold the agenda of a political group who's purposes are at odds with the betterment of our kid's education.

Please go and vote if you haven't done so yet. Please think of the kids. Don't listen to the bullshit from a small, but vocal group of assholes who are trying to hurt our kids.


Friday, October 25, 2013

Music Review - Sam Haynes - Welcome to the Horror Show

I think one of the best perks about having this blog is that I occasionally get contacted out of the blue to do reviews of products - music, movies, etc - that appeal to my horror geek nature.

Granted, I sometimes also get contacted by knuckleheads who have NO clue what this blog is about; but those aberrations are worth the hassle of discovering new, exciting horror stuff.


In fact, about two weeks ago, I received an email from a musician across the pond in England, asking if I'd review his album of horror themed electronic/dance music. Now being an old school goth, who also dabbled in the club scene and did the whole gamut of raves/EBM/dance music in another life - I was more than happy to give it a listen. I should add that - with it being October - I was especially excited to listen to it because Sam Haynes (the musician) said that it was "Inspired by 70s and 80s horror themes but with a new dark sound."

70's and 80's horror themes?!? Those are sexy words right there!

So I downloaded a copy. After listening to it more times than I can count,  I can say that this album is absolutely, undeniably incredible!

On my first cursory listen, I was two songs in when I fell in love with it. The song that did it? The second track, 'Ghost House'. Imagine a John Carpenter theme - the plunking, synthesized perfection of a John Carpenter theme - that morphs and skews into a dark, melodic EBM dance beat. I know, right? Sounds fucking awesome, doesn't it? I can assure you it is.

Here, give it a listen...

My first thought, when I saw the initial email about horror dance music was that it was probably pretty hard to pull off without sounding really, really cheesy. I can say, without hesitation, that Sam Haynes is a crazy talented artist who has made a CD that is nothing short of amazing.

All of the tracks are perfect examples of Halloween music, but music that one could listen to all year round if they were a weird, sad, horror nerd like myself who loves this kind of shit.

Describing the style and influence as being inspired from the 70's and 80's could not be more accurate. There's traces of John Carpenter, the dark and ponderous excesses of an Italian Bava or Fulci score, the unstoppable stalking of serial killers in weird masks, the sexy seduction of vampires, the guttural moans of the undead, and the delightfully electronic nuances of Goblin. This music would not be out of place in a haunted attraction, or on the score of a good, quality horror film. In fact, I've been alternating between this and Midnight Syndicate - non-stop - for the last several weeks.

As we are sitting here, on the doorstep of Halloween, and as the leaves fall like brightly painted corpses from the trees to scatter about ghostlike in the chill Autumn wind; this CD makes the perfect soundtrack.

There are so many wonderful touches here and there. From the aforementioned Ghost House, to the 4th track 'Zombie'; which mixes the newscast audio from Romero's Diary of the Dead with driving EBM beats. The track '31-13' is a chilling mix of The Haunted Mansion and the creepy tones of a funeral home organ. The track 'Halloween' has a playful quality reminiscent of the background music on the Plants Vs. Zombies game, but also captures the feel of a Goblin track. 'Endless Night' is a personal favorite and I dare you to not get out of your chair and pogo around the room when listening to it! In fact, every gorram  track is eminently listenable, and every track is a spooky insight into the heart of a fellow horror and Halloween fan.

I've said it many, many times on the blog... I love to meet and promote other artists through my small corner of the blogosphere here at the Midnight Theater of Terror. This is one of those times. Sam Haynes is one of us, dear undead readers. This is someone with an incredibly talented ear for classic horror movies and a love for the dark. That Sam Haynes has so easily melded the unique sounds of Halloween and horror with ridiculously awesome electronic music is amazing.

While emailing with Sam, he had this to say when I gushed to him about how incredible the CD was, "I wanted to do something a little different to the usual music I hear for halloween. It's part orchestral and part dance music." 

I'd say you did it, Sam. You did it admirably! 

And - because Sam is so kick-ass - he's also added, "I can offer your readers a 20% off discount code for the bandcamp store if you want it all they need to do is enter the code - Halloween - at the checkout stage at this link...www.samhaynes1.bandcamp.com

So, I guess it's Happy Halloween to you, dear readers - from Doctor Zombie and Sam Haynes! 

Please take some time to download Sam Haynes' CD. 

You will not regret it! 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Midnight Syndicate Live!

Dear readers, please make sure you take some time to run by Kickstarter and check out the project that my close friends in Midnight Syndicate are working on.

They're trying to fund a live multimedia event that showcases their particular brand of awesome.

I rarely promote Kickstarters, although I get quite a few requests to do so. In fact, I can think of only three... but this is a kick ass cause and I think it's well worth a visit.

Check it out, show some love, and sign up to support a really groovy, kooky, spooky live multimedia event!

Click here to see their Kickstarter page, and check out the video of their plans!


Monday, October 07, 2013

Horrific Road Trip - A Nightmare on Elm Street

A little quick addendum to my update from the other day. While in LA, I got to visit one other horror filming site and took a couple quick pictures.

So -- if you find yourself  in North Hollywood, you can start on North Orange Grove at the filming site  of the Wallace and Doyle house (from Carpenter's Halloween), go one block over, and two blocks south (crossing over Hollywood and Sunset) to North Genesee Avenue.

There, amidst the quiet tree lined neighborhoods of close, but beautifully maintained homes, you'll find yet another house of horror.

That's right, my lovely undead zombie minions... there you'll find the Thompson house from Wes Craven's A Nightmare on Elm Street.

Nightmare on Elm Street was such a great horror movie. If Halloween kickstarted the serial killer/slasher genre of horror films, A Nightmare on Elm Street and its red and green sweater-wearing fiend - Freddy Krueger - reimagined it. It was part supernatural horror, part serial killer, and all grotesque horror.

I first saw it in high school at a girlfriend's house. We watched it in the dark and I remember the geekish thrill I got when Wes Craven's terrifying tale unfolded on the screen before me. Even in high school, I was a jaded horror film veteran. It had been a long, long time since I'd seen a truly scary movie that made me jump and make my skin dimple with goosebumps. Nightmare did that.

It remains a classic even today.

Sadly, much like Michael Meyers, Freddy became a gross parody of himself as the endless sequels dragged on - and the Nightmare series is remembered mostly for the almost vaudevillian slapstick and one liners of the later efforts. However, one should always remember how truly scary and dark the original was.

It was only natural that I should seek out this North Hollywood home, so I added it to my list.

I actually stopped there first thing as it was on my way back from the airport, and I snapped a few quick pictures.

I should note that, a few months back, the house was on the market. I saw that it was for sale on one horror site or another and, of course, sent Mrs. Zombie an email begging to buy it and move to LA. I still live in Ohio, so you can see how that argument turned out.

Anyway, it's been obviously purchased recently as there was a 20 yard dumpster in the side yard and workers going in and out and renovating it.

It still maintains most of the features from 1984 when Johnny Depp and Heather Langenkamp fought the smarmy evilness of Freddy Krueger - everybody's favorite knife-gloved dream killer!

Check it out...

As it appeared in the original film...

And how it looks today...

The door's been replaced. 

Of course, if I was the owners, I'd probably replace the door as well. Especially after how horrible the ending of Nightmare was - when Freddy dragged Nancy's mom through its tiny window headfirst? That scene, and the horrible effect, marred what was in every other respect a brilliant horror film. 

One two, Freddy's coming for you...

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Horrific Road Trip - John Carpenter's Halloween

Welcome faithful reader. I don't mean to boast, but I just came back from a kick-ass work trip 

I was given the opportunity to travel to LA for a commercial shoot. if being on a real LA set wasn't cool enough, I stayed right in Hollywood within walking distance of Hollywood and Vine. I could see the Hollywood sign from my window and - on my morning jog - I ran down the Walk of Stars. I also sat in on a taping of The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and saw all the sights that are normal for a tourist in Hollyweird, Karloffornia - as old Forrie Ackerman used to call it. 

However, I am a bit of a whore when it comes to business trips and I always make some time to see the sights before I finish. On the company dime, as it were. 

So, when I was done with my work responsibilities, and before I flew home, I did what any respectable horror geek would have done. I made a pilgrimage to South Pasadena - the heart of John Carpenter's Halloween! 

Carpenter's Halloween, as I've said many times before, is the PERFECT horror film. With the thousands of horror films Doctor Zombie's ingested over the years, Halloween remains my favorite horror film.

So, it was only natural that I would want to follow in the steps of that timeless, immortal, unstoppable fiend -- Michael Meyers! 

As I've done before with my Horrific Road Trip Series, I'll alternate screen grabs of the film with my own photos. 

BTW - This is going to be a pretty lengthy post. Sorry about that. Hang on to the end... it'll be totally worth it, I promise... 


I started my quest for The Shape in the Shatner mask in Hollywood itself as the homes where Annie Brackett and Laurie Strode are babysitting - and where the lions share of mayhem takes place - was actually in Hollywood. 

On North Orange Ave, off of Sunset, are gorgeous houses with well manicured lawns. The homes where the girls babysit can be found there. 

As I rolled down the crazy busy streets, listening to the dulcet tones of Gwyneth - the British voice of my GPS - the first of the filming sites hove into view. I squealed with geekish delight as I saw the distinct two story where Laurie babysat Tommy Doyle and where Loomis shot Michael. 

Here's a shot from the movie...

And here's how it stands today...

And there, across the street... it's the Wallace house! 

There's a pretty big difference between how it looked in 1978 and today. Sometime in the last 35 years, the house has had a huge addition added on as well as a garage. Check it out.

On the ladder in the first shot are the current owners. I spoke to them briefly and asked if I could take photos of their lovely home. They were really nice and accommodating and the lady, a pretty woman with an English accent much nicer than Gwyneth's, said it was amazing all the attention their home received. In fact, she said, tour busses were constantly driving by. I commented on how awesome their Halloween decorations were. You can see them in the second photo. All in all, they were really great about a weird, fat, horror nerd showing up on their driveway in an Eric Pigors t-shirt. 

After that pleasant exchange, I got back into my rental car (a brand new Dodge Challenger!!!) and left the craziness of Hollywood and its incomprehensible traffic for the 101 and the 20 minute or so trip out to South Pasadena. 

South Pasadena is a gorgeous little suburb of LA that John Carpenter chose as the setting of his quiet, Illinois town of Haddonfield. 

After the incredible opening scene of a young Michael Meyers killing his slutty sister, the camera settles on a quiet neighborhood. The opening scene establishes the small Midwestern hometown of our killer and his victims, and South Pasadena is the perfect Californian amalgamation of this. 

In fact, South Pasadena actually reminded me very much of my own hometown - Willoughby Ohio. It had gorgeous, well maintained craftsman homes, a quaint downtown area, and even a pumpkin patch...

Anyway, here's Carpenter's establishing shot...

And here's how it looks today, with Doctor Zombie! Muwahaha! 

Cool, huh?!?

From here, it was only a short hop to another of the iconic scenes from the movie. As Annie and Laurie walk home from school, Michael plays peek-a-boo with Laurie behind a distinctive looking hedgerow. It only took a little bit of searching to find it about 5 or 6 houses down from the intersection in the opening shot above. 

And here's how it looks today... wait, what's that behind the hedge?!? Oh, it's just Doctor Zombie! Whew...

In the movie, Annie investigates and finds nothing. She calls Laurie over mockingly, and shows her there's nothing there... 

Or is there?

By the way, if you watch the movie, during this scene, you can see smoke drifting into frame from the left - the other side of the bush. That's cigarette smoke from Carpenter, who was standing just outside of frame! 

Two doors down, we find Annie's house. Annie goes in, and Laurie runs into Sheriff Brackett, who laughs, telling here 'It's Halloween. Everyone's entitled to one good scare!' You'll notice the distinct lattice on the facing of the porch...

It's changed little in 35 years...

After this successful shooting site stalking... it was on to more sites in South Pasadena. 

Next, I made my way downtown. If you'll remember, on their way to the babysitting jobs, Laurie and Annie drive through town and run into Sheriff Brackett again. The local hardware store had been broken into by The Shape, where he stole 'some masks, some rope, and a few knives'. The Hardware store then... 

And today it's a string of shops and restaurants.

In that very same scene, after the girls leave, Dr. Loomis arrives to speak to the sheriff. Behind him, Michael slowly drives over the railroad tracks in the town square and away after the girls....

Today, the square is much more developed, but the commuter trains into LA remain...

Oddly, there was a jaunty sort of statue in the square now. It doesn't look anything like Michael Meyers. I think the residents of South Pasadena are negligent in their disregard for their most famous resident! I suppose if one squints, the statue might look like Michael. That's how I'm going to look at it. I mean Detroit is getting a Robocop statue... Haddonfield should have a fucking Michael Meyers statue. Amiright?!?

After ruminating on the travesty and injustice of no Michael Meyers statue, it was time for the piece de resistance! The ultimate in horror geekdom. Much like my visit to the Texas Chainsaw Massacre House... it was time to visit the Michael Meyers house! 

The actual house was moved from its former residence to the downtown area and completely remodeled. It was saved from destruction... which makes up in a small way for no Shape statue. Across the street - seriously, RIGHT across the street  - from the Hardware store, sits the Meyers house. 

Originally, it looked like this...

And today this house of horror, this den of grotesquerie, this abattoir of death... is an insurance agency.

Apparently, I'm not the first horror geek to make this particular pilgrimage... and I'm thinking some other people have ruined it for the rest of us. 

So, after much geekiness and the posting of a selfie of myself in front of the house to Facebook, it was on to other scenes! 

Which brings us to another iconic scene. Early in the film, the girls walk home from school and have their first run in with old Michael.  I tracked down the scene next...

As they leave school, they walk past a distinct brick wall. Soon after, Michael comes around the corner in his stolen station wagon... 

And today... 

And look, it's Dr. Z just wandering along in the footsteps of Jamie Lee Curtis, P.J. Soles, and the heavenly, still sexy Nancy Keyes.

The girls cross the street, and The Shape cruises slowly around the same corner... where Annie yells at him. He jams on the brakes... ominously.

And my humble attempts to recreate the shots...

Awesome, right? (I added the first shot of mine above to mostly show off my kick ass rental car. A Dodge Challenger, in LA, is balls!!! ) As you can see, there's quite a bit of construction behind the wall, and the pachysandra is mostly gone. It looks like they recently redid the sewers on the street and tore them out, sadly. 

Finally, I wandered over to the Strode house. 

There were several scenes with Laura and her own home spread throughout the movie. Nowadays, across the street, is the South Pasadena library.  It was weird really - there were high school students going in and out, moms with baby carriages and picnics on the lawn, and this iconic house of horror across the way! 

I've a few shots of it...





I don't know... if I was living in Laurie Strode's house, I'm not sure I'd tempt fate by having Halloween accoutrements so brazenly displayed. Would you?!?

So, having spent a thoroughly enjoyable day walking in the steps of the greatest slasher killer of all time, I got back into my Challenger and headed for LAX for my return to the Autumn-gripped, October  coolth of Northern Ohio. It was the first day of October, and I feel I did a great job of living up to the awesomeness of what is - to Doctor Zombie - the best month of the year. As Halloween approaches, I relived the movie that helped redefine horror movies and spawned an entire new horror genre. 

It was a good trip before that, considering why I was out there in the first place. To visit the scenes of cinema history was an added bonus that only a ghoul like myself could appreciate. 

Hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.

By the way, here's the real reason I went out there in the first place. I was out for my work at Evil Corporate world. That's why I was on set and met this really great, funny, smart actress - who is not at ALL involved in horror films. 

Look at Dr. Z - hanging with a celebrity! 

Until next time, my dear, undead minions!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

CD Review - 'Monsters of Legend' by Midnight Syndicate

It was storming the other night. As the thunder and lightning warred in the purplish and storm-pregnant Northern Ohio night sky, I decided to immerse myself in Midnight Syndicate's newest instrumental work, Monsters of Legend.

I'd been listening to it for days at work and while writing - and LOVING it - but I figured I'd give it the full treatment it deserved. Per the press release that accompanied my copy, and that I posted to the blog a few weeks back, Monsters of Legend is a tribute to the 'golden age of horror' and '...inspired by horror films from the silent era, Universal Studios' horror classics, Hammer Films, and other European horror films of the 60's and 70's.'

That last paragraph there? Yeah, every bit of it is sexy words to old Doctor Zombie.

So, to get the full scope and understanding of the artistic work, I decided some in-depth appreciation was in order.

I poured myself an unnecessarily large glass of Swiss absinth, turned off the lights, put Monsters of Legend in the CD player, and let it play while I watched some classic silent horror movies with the sound turned off. It may be the absinth tempering my opinion but bloody HELL- watching Murnau's Nosferatu, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, and Lon Chaney's chilling portrayal of The Phantom of the Opera with only the accompaniment of Midnight Syndicate was one of the most exquisitely sublime experiences I've ever had.

To say that the duo of Gavin Goszka and Edward Douglas have outdone themselves is an understatement of negligent proportions. Monsters of Legend is a masterpiece and the single best album of their dozen plus to date. I shit you not

I'm an unapologetic fan of Midnight Syndicate and it's not an exagerration to say that many of  Midnight Syndicate's previous CD's are frequently playing in the background when I'm writing or reading. Their last outing, Carnival Arcane was awesome and I gushed about it when it came out. However, I find that the themed nature of that CD makes me want to only listen to it at certain times of the year. Monsters of Legend, while coming out at the perfect time - on the cusp of autumn and the impending Halloween season - is different in that I know that it will almost certainly become a year round aural delight.

In other words - like Born of the Night or Gates of Delirium - this CD will become a year round treat for me.

The level of musical sophistication on Monsters of Legends is far and above anything Midnight Syndicate have done previously. It is simultaneously evocative and chilling. The instrumentation is a heady mix of orchestral arrangement, howling wolves, creaking doors, and eerie wind blowing across a stark graveyard. Framing the theme around the classic horror movies I grew up with is only icing on the top of the metaphorical cake. As the tracks roll from one to another, they perfectly capture the stalking horror of Lugosi's Dracula, the poignant tragedy of Karloff's monster, and the drafty castles and foggy moors of Peter Cushing or Christopher Lee.

There are other influences here that - intentional or not - appeal to the inner geek in me. By paying homage to the classic horror composers, I realized the extent of their influence on other pieces of music and composers. In Midnight Syndicate's reimagining of those earlier composers,  I heard the ghosts of other musical pieces that I love. There were shades of the sing-songy steam punk Victorian soundtrack of American McGee's Alice; there was a section that was reminiscent of Doctor Who composer Murray Gold.

All of it was classic Midnight Syndicate.

As an added bonus, there were some new arrangements of older Midnight Syndicate tracks. Like Born of the Night and Realm of Shadows, Monsters of Legend is thematically tied to the strange, dark hamlet of fictional Arcacia. Midnight Syndicate took the time to re-arrange some songs from those earlier works and I especially loved the remix of Dark Tower, by far one of my favorite Midnight Syndicate tracks from one of my favorite earlier albums - Born of the Night.

I can't express enough how much I love the much more orchestral nature of this album. There is something so perfect about the sound of this album. As I write this, some 75 days from Halloween 2013, I can say without a doubt that Monsters of Legend will get played, played again, and overplayed between now and then. It's funny, actually... as the weather's grown cooler, as pumpkin ale starts to show up at the local beer distributor, and as the leaves begin to change; my preoccupation with all things Halloween grows and grows. I've actually been scheming and planning (Or obsessing. Whatever.) about the quickly approaching Samhain festivities and, I'm certain that, with the release of Monsters of Legend, my life has become even more complicated. 'How?' you ask? Well, thanks to Midnight Syndicate, I'm now seriously thinking of redoing my entire yard haunt to fully take advantage of the musical perfection of this new album.


So, in the final analysis, I can unequivocally say that all of my faithful zombie minions and readers should pick up a copy of Monsters of Legend. I can also say that, if you haven't checked out Midnight Syndicate yet, there's something wrong with you. Any fan of horror, any purveyor of darkness like Old Doctor Zombie, anyone with an abiding love for all things creepy and dark and terrifying should experience the grotesque chill of Midnight Syndicate.

You're missing out if you don't, dear reader.

Click here to visit Midnight Syndicate and buy Monsters of Legend. Clickety-click! 

Doctor Zombie's Rating: 5 out of 5 Chomped Brains!!! 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

In the Footsteps of the Walking Dead

So I just returned from vacation with Mrs. Zombie, WolfGirl, and ZombieBoy. We went to Florida and stayed on the island I used to go to every summer when I was a child. Besides the fact that I burned my poor, pale, undead skin horribly... I enjoyed myself. We stayed on the Gulf-side and I spent some time just floating in the Gulf, resting in general, and visiting some incredible Tampa-area breweries to indulge my unnatural thirst for craft beers. 

On our ride back (18+ hours in a car, with WolfGirl, who's been on vacation and eating take out food for an entire week, and the resultant gassiness aside), I was lamenting the fact that this family vacation didn't include a visit to a horror movie filming location. We did go to Ybor City in Tampa - where they filmed much of the suburb Punisher film that starred Thomas Jane and John Travolta - but it wasn't the same. 

I do plan, the next time I travel to Tampa for work, to take a jaunt down to Fort Meyers and visit the filming site of Romero's Day of the Dead. Remember the beginning? When Miguel lands on a city street and pulls out the bullhorn? That was filmed right in downtown Fort Meyers.

I also realized, as we were booking a hotel on our return trip, that we were actually stopping at the exact exit in Tennessee I would use to get to Morristown - where Sam Raimi and Bruce Campbell filmed the original and sublimely incredible Evil Dead. Alas, Mrs. Zombie could not be convinced to divert our return home to plunge into the Tennessee back country and commit some minor trespassing because she wanted desperately to get home. My disappointment was crushing; or, as Mrs. Zombie said, "Quit moping about because you're sunburned, tired, and acting like a geeky fanboy who was told that he had to cancel a trip to ComicCon. You'll live."

I should add that she also, in a related conversation, denied a trip to ComicCon for family vacation next year. She is a cruel tyrant at times. Too bad she's so damned pretty, and actually willing to sleep with me, because I wouldn't put up with this otherwise. 

Oh well. I do plan to head to Morristown this fall. Watch for it!

But, I digress. Anyway, I was all mopey on the ride home, when it dawned on me that we would be driving through Atlanta! It was an incredible oversight on my part, I don't know how I didn't realize sooner that we were in the heart of Walking Dead country! 

So, I quickly unplugged my iPhone - disconnecting the creepy tones of Midnight Syndicate and The Cure to snap a quick picture. 

This is what I got: 

Although not exactly how I wanted it to look, it was close enough to make me happy. It was far too much to hope it would look like this:

Yes, I get that it's spun like 90 degrees. We were coming in on I-75 South and the iconic shot of Rick is taken from State Route 10 looking west towards I-75, but it was close enough to please that nerdy part of me that finds immense pleasure in stalking famous horror sites.

I plugged my iPhone back in, turned on some more music (or, 'that weird shit you listen to' as Mrs. Zombie calls it), and settled in to the rest of my drive; secure and pleased as I imagined the horror of a city as large as Atlanta succumbing to the ravenous, moaning zombie hordes of the undead apocalypse.

It almost made the relentless tingle and pain of my sunburn bearable.

Friday, July 19, 2013

Midnight Syndicate Releases MONSTERS OF LEGEND Album


Symphonic gothic horror musicians MIDNIGHT SYNDICATE have just released their sixteenth studio album, MONSTERS OF LEGEND.   This “tribute to the golden age of horror” is inspired by horror films from the silent era, Universal Studios’ horror classics, Hammer Films, and other European horror films of the 60s and 70s.  It features the sweeping symphonic horror instrumental music and sound effects in the signature style the band helped pioneer. "We want to make you feel like you are a character in one of those classic horror films - that you've entered a world where any one of those iconic Universal monsters could be right around the corner," said composer EDWARD DOUGLAS.   The CD artwork features original images from classic Universal Studios horror movies including BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN, WEREWOLF OF LONDON, and DRACULA.

“Those classic horror films are at the core of what we do in Midnight Syndicate, so to do an entire disc based on them was a lot fun,” added Douglas.  “Musically it required us to use more traditional orchestral instruments, and use them in more ways than we have in the past.  The result is a fuller orchestral sound with a heavy classical music influence.   There are plenty of nods to James Bernard, Bernard Herrmann, and other early film composers.” Although the band promises the new disc will deliver the dark atmosphere haunted house designers, roleplaying gamers, and Halloween music enthusiasts expect from them, they feel they've crafted a disc that transcends their favorite time of the year.  “Like CARNIVAL ARCANE, we feel we’ve taken things up a notch both musically and with the sound design on this release,” said GAVIN GOSZKA.  “There’s a lot there to listen to and lose yourself in.”

In addition to over 50 minutes of new music, the band went back into its archives and recreated several tracks from its early releases Born of the Night and Realm of Shadows, bringing the total runtime of the disc to over 65 minutes.  “Both the new album and those older ones are set in and around the mysterious hamlet of Arcacia.  We felt it would be a great opportunity to breathe new life into a few of our lesser known tracks from those discs to help tell this story.  For additional atmosphere the band called on voiceover artist Dick Terhune.   “Dick’s known throughout the haunted house industry as the “Voice from Hell,” needless to say he was the perfect match for this disc,” added Goskza.

The CD is available now through the band’s website, as well as iTunes and Amazon.com.  It will also be available in select Halloween retailers beginning in August.   A collector’s edition 12” vinyl version is also available on the band’s site.

Official Midnight Syndicate website: www.MidnightSyndicate.com
Midnight Syndicate on Facebook: www.Facebook.com/MidnightSyndicate
Midnight Syndicate on Twitter: www.Twitter.com/MidSyndicate
Dick Terhune – Voice From Hell website: www.VoiceFromHell.com