Tag Archive: zombie

Shambling Up The Ranks…


Go “like” their page! (http://www.facebook.com/DistrictoftheDead)

It’s the time of year again!  Time to bundle up, grab a hot apple cider, and hit the road to your favorite haunted attraction.  Every year I’m thankful to be living near Buffalo, New York, where there are plenty of haunted houses to visit.  Last year, District of the Dead opened its doors for the inaugural year.  It was a small house, run partly for profit and partly for charity.  I was excited to see what the new year would bring for them, and I certainly wasn’t disappointed.

District of the Dead made many smart changes for the 2012 season.  First – they moved to a better location.  They are now at the corner of Sheridan Drive and Eggert Road, near Yings Wings Things & Bar.  This new location is prime – they are at a busy corner and surrounded by well-established businesses.  The second smart change they made was their overall expansion.  There are now two haunted houses:  District of the Dead, and Lake Effect.  While both houses are smaller than most in the area, they are jam-packed with scares!  The actors and actresses are literally laying for you in wait around almost every corner.  The team also used clever distractions and props to divert unsuspecting eyes away from their attackers.

Where District of the Dead really shines is in the pure zest of their workers.  Every blood dripped, drooling, gargling zombie on the property seems genuinely thrilled to be there.  I’ve been to enough haunted houses – trust me, when the cast and crew aren’t into the house, it shows.  Don’t be surprised if you’re eating next door at the local Mighty Taco and a freak in bandages and bloody drool comes bursting through the door – they’re just doing their job.  Scaring you senseless and inserting themselves into your nightmares.

I highly suggest you visit the District of the Dead this year.  The admission is reasonable ($13), the cause is worthy (they support local charities including The Food Bank of WNY), and the scares are plentiful.  Did I mention they also had chainsaws???  I can’t wait to see what next year will bring!

Long overdue praise…

Cover of "Down the Road: On the Last Day&...

Cover of Down the Road: On the Last Day

There are multitudinous zombie books on the market.  They fill every shelf, nook, cranny, and niche that exists.  You can bake them, cook them, sew them, crochet them, knit them, take social and business advice from them, wear them, and draw them.  Apparently, there’s even a matching pillowcase and bedspread set for your bed replete with reaching zombie hands.  There is a veritable horde of cutesy zombie books for children.  Its plain to see that zombies can be enjoyed by a variety of different people.

It would seem that even the authors are no exception.  Bowie Ibarra, for one, certainly doesn’t pass up his chance.  In the second of the Down the Road Trilogy, titled “Down the Road: On the Last Day“, he gleefully butchers and terrorizes his way through the book.  I got the distinct impression that he had a hell of a time while writing the book – and that’s not an impression I get very often.  I could imagine him sitting at his computer, laughing hysterically at the antics of his characters.

The story is based on a host of characters trying to fend of zombies, which is essentially the story of most zombie novels.  Ibarra adds an extra element of on-going stress by introducing a few United Nations crazies into the mix.  One in particular, is hell-bent on the subjugation of every person he comes across.  Not exactly fitting company for a town full of people who are just trying to survive.  The resulting clash is one of the greatest endings that I have read to date.

If you get this book I promise you three things.  The first is that you should probably be prepared to cry.  Often.  The first chapter sucked me in, and then had me bawling like a baby.  There is also an unconfirmed rumor that the last fifty pages or so may have had me bawling.  Again, unconfirmed.  The second thing you should know about this book is that you will laugh yourself silly.  Ibarra has a knack for knowing when the subject matter gets too heavy.  A little bit of humor goes a long way to letting the reader know that the people in the book are multi-dimensional.  Yes, it’s the zombie apocalypse, and yes that sucks.  That doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t have a few laughs while you’re waiting for your number to be up.  My last promise to you is that you are sure to lose sleep.  Some of the images and scenarios are so disturbing that it was all I could do to lay down and not see them play across the dark of my eyelids.  I’m talking about truly horrific stuff, not just the usual “oh it’s a zombie – watch it eating guts” kind of thing.  Ibarra seems to be able to reach into your subconscious, take the most terrifying aspect of the zombie apocalypse, and drag it screaming into the light where it follows you into your dreams.

“Down the Road: On the Last Day” sees the return of characters Alex and Red, who were friends of the central character of “Down the Road”.  Alex and Red are back in all their conspiracy-theory glory, and having a great time with a host of new characters.  I’m hard pressed to find a favorite character, because each member of the cast is interesting, unique, and important in their own way.  They have very tangible weaknesses and strengths.  What makes them even more special is the fact that they are relatable.  They suffer our same perils.  They have affairs, get into arguments, fall into irrevocable lust, and learn to forgive.  Each character is so real that I couldn’t help but relating them to people I know in my own life.

“Down the Road: On the Last Day” ends just as it should, which doesn’t necessarily mean it’s fair.  If you’re looking for the zombie feel-good book of the year, you should probably look somewhere else.  If on the other hand you’re looking for a fast-paced and entertaining read, then you need this book in your hands right this minute!  I liked it so well that before I had even finished, I went over to amazon.com to pick out the next book, “Down the Road: The Fall of Austin“.  If pass this by, I guarantee you will regret it!

Don’t forget to hop on over to YouTube.com to see the exclusive book trailer for “Down the Road: On the Last Day”.


Zombie 5K ?!

Original caption from American army: "Cam...

Image via Wikipedia

As none of you are probably aware, I am on a kick trying to lose some weight.  I find it hard because there really isn’t a goal other than “stop being unhealthy and big”.  Pretty nebulous, isn’t it?  Today my boyfriend showed me a website that has me thinking in terms of a reachable goal: survive a 5k populated with zombies, that also happens to be attached to an obstacle course.

If you’re like me, those last few words most likely dropped your heart into your stomach, and your stomach somewhere in the vacinity of through the floor and out the other side of the world.  The website with all of the information is http://runforyourlives.com/.  It posts information on when the run is, and where it will be.  This year’s run is October 22 in Baltimore, Maryland.  I live in New York State, so I won’t be present.  However, don’t give up hope!  The website states that “the infection is spreading in 2012”, so maybe I will be able to drive to the nearest location.  Let me know what you think !

Another Moody series…

Autumn leaves

Image by hichako via Flickr

Almost immediately on the heels of reading “Hater” I started the other series I own by David Moody, “Autumn”.  I had read about it in the back of one of my other books and had been anticipating it for some time.  I was anxious about reading it because I wasn’t a fan of “Hater”.

At first, “Autumn” really delivered.  At first.  There was gore, screaming, people dropping dead for no apparent reason.  There was absolutely no logic to the survival of the characters – and I loved it.  Then something else happened.  Moody tends to get his characters together and spend time building them up, which is good except that nothing happens while the characters are chatting.  The zombie bodies stayed prone while the characters squabbled, when the zombies rose they didn’t do much (not unlike the living characters), and finally the violence started.  My biggest complaint was the inconsistent pace.  There were sections of the book when my heart was pounding, and then there were sections I couldn’t stay awake.

I will say the David Moody has a great ability to create realistic characters who show organic growth.  By organic I mean that when Moody writes about his characters, it’s almost as if they’ve come alive and taken over their own story.  They do things that seem natural under the circumstances based on their personality, but they aren’t stereotypes or caricatures either.  That alone saves the books from being terrible.

I bought the second book, “Autumn: The City” and now while checking some information on amazon.com I realized that the third book “Autumn: Purification” is now out as well.  Blast!  Looks like I’m officially two books behind.  Anyway, as always, I’m advocating that all three books are read.  I don’t believe in judging a series solely on one book.  In other words, you can look for my further reviews when I get around to it – after I’m finished with the two I’m currently reading.  In the meantime – grab the book, read it, and let’s chat!

Walking Dead panel

Image by gluetree via Flickr - From left to right Andrew Lincoln, Sarah Wayne Callies, and Jon Bernthal from Comic-con's The Walking Dead panel. The season 2 trailer debuted this year at Comic-con.

AMC debuted it’s highly anticipated zombie series last year on Halloween.  My family and I huddled together in the darkness of our living room, staring in rapt attention at the TV as zombie after zombie shuffled across the screen.  It was sheer brilliance.  The zombies were so real you could almost smell their foul putrescence, each one more gruesome than the last.

I had high hopes for the season, but it didn’t pan out.  In retrospect, I think it was my fault.  I had hoped that the show would follow the books.  They were such a wealth of ideas it would be crazy not to use the material.  Instead, the show saw survivor Rick Grimes dragging his wife, son, and other survivors to the Center for Disease Control.  There they found some interesting facts about the zombie virus, and we got to see an x-ray movie of a zombie.  Cool, but not as awesome as some of the scenes in the book.

On the other hand, my gripes aside, the casting was beyond perfect!  Hero Rick Grimes is played to perfection by Andrew Lincoln, who seems to not only portray Rick’s strength but simultaneously bring an air of unspoken uncertainty and insecurity.  After all – he’s not Superman.  He’s a man who is lucky to have his wife and son still alive, and he’s fully aware of it every moment that they survive.  His guilt-stricken and confused best friend Shane is played by Jon Bernthal, who leaves nothing to be desired in the role of friend-turned-foe.  Unfaithful wife Lori is given life by Sarah Wayne Callies.  The other characters are perfect to the point of being creepy.  They look almost identical to their characters, right down to their facial expressions.

Thankfully, AMC chose not to inundate the series with cheesy celebrity cameos.  I can’t speak for other viewers, but I know I’d rather have people starting their careers.  I don’t want to watch and say, “Oh wait, I know that person”.  To me, that ruins the apocalypse because you know that actor or actress as someone else.  The one exception is Norman Reedus, of “Boondock Saints” fame.  It had been so many years since he was in that iconic movie that he was not immediately recognizable to me.

As the debut of “The Walking Dead” Season 2 gets closer I find myself excited.  The trailer for the new season can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1OZ0mu8Ey6A and you NEED to watch it right now.  It’s going to be amazing.  I’m back on board fully and counting down the days.  When the season debut is televised, I will be right there, glued to my chair and devouring every frame.


Image via Wikipedia - not quite "DEADWORLD" but better than I can draw !

…there was “DEADWORLD” (or so they tell me).  I bought the DEADWORLD OMNIBUS a few months ago based on the strength of the cover – it looked awesome.  There are a horde of water color zombies whose features are just barely recognizable.

Immediately “DEADWORLD” distinguishes itself from the typical zombie story.  King Zombie is free from Hell and looking for a specific man and a specific book that can help him to open wide the gates of Hell.  When that task is complete, all the horrors of Hell will walk the Earth and they will kill everything in their path.  Each book in the series adds new characters and new plot twists that keep the story engaging, and the reader guessing.

“DEADWORLD” really shines in its different artists.  Each book has been inked and created by a different mix of people, and the vast differences in styles are strangely complementary.  Some drawings are frantic and sparse and others use more contrast between stark white and deep black.  The different drawings assist the reader in switching from viewpoint to viewpoint within the story.

King Zombie is drawn mostly the same in each book, but with enough differences to fit in well with the overall art.  My favorite part of King Zombie is his attitude: fully badass and cheeky.  He hides beneath shades, and rides around on a motorcycle with a bandanna on his head.  His lines are occasionally amusing – yet I found myself feeling guilty for chuckling along with him.  Admittedly, sometimes I wound up rooting for the old sack of bones (oops – I know I should have like the survivors more, but King Zombie definitely has more interesting moments).

The zombie formula is also different in “DEADWORLD”.  The zombies have added power and a definite hierarchy, in part from their book, and also in part from their direct link to Hell.  They are able to transfer into different bodies, mind-talk from far away, and all heed the call of King Zombie.  Definitely good stuff (from a literary point, anyway).

“DEADWORLD OMNIBUS” is a fairly quick read (named OMNIBUS because it contains all the DEADWORLD books to date), so if you like graphic awesomeness you need to add this to your collection.


Different ways of wearing a balaclava.

Image via Wikipedia - Throughout the book series I kept reading about a "balaclava" but had no idea what it was. Apparently the versatile piece of headgear in these silly pictures is a "balaclava".

I don’t know which is worse – waiting for a new book to come out in a series, or having a great book end and wishing for more.  I guess it all depends on how close you are to the release of the next book, doesn’t it?  I was lucky enough to find Joseph Talluto’s “White Flag of the Dead” series early enough to not be too far behind, but late enough to get in two volumes before the third came out.  (Another caution:  If you bought the self published version – you’re waiting for the second book.  If you’re like me and you own the Severed Press editions, you are going to read “White Flag of the Dead”, then progress to “Taking it Back”, then progress to nail biting and anticipating until the third volume comes out.)

I finished “Taking it Back” a few days ago but haven’t gotten a chance to really post about it until now.  “Taking it Back” continued the story of survivor John Talon and his band of allies as they try to establish a network of surviving towns along a train track.  Talluto surprises and delights with several close-calls and the usual band of miscreant survivors who seem hell-bent on causing as much additional misery as they possibly can.

Talluto’s growth as a writer is heavily evident in this section of the book.  Not only does he expound on previously created characters, but introduces an interesting array of other survivors.  I was pleased to see the addition of a femme fatale, just because it avoids the usual stereotype of the woman as the helpless wench that just gets in the way.  Sarah, John’s closest female ally, is also another nice stereotype killer.  Along the way we lose a few established characters – not too many, but just enough to make the story believable, which is always a good thing.  (Relax – it’s nobody you’ve probably become terribly attached to anyway…or is it?)

The action begins and doesn’t stop.  My favorite part is the roaming, ravenous, grey cloud that comes sweeping towards an unsuspecting town.  What is it?  A hoard of dead.  When do they reach the town?  TOO SOON.  The obstacles that the townspeople and other survivors concoct for the dead are really fascinating – I’m absolutely positive that I’m doomed if there is a zombie apocalypse.  I am bereft of certain common sense, let alone using boxcars to create a fence!  Let alone having the skills to operate heavy machinery…

“Taking it Back” is by no means devoid of creepy moments.  I chuckled out loud when John went walking with (Tommy I think?) through a recreation center that was turned into a first aid station.  Obviously there would be zombies…but still they continue deeper into the building.  They find about a hundred or so cots and a mess of blood, and they respond by flashing their lights around…only to illuminate about 100 starving ghouls who proceed to give chase.  Thrilling scene, but by no means the best!

If you haven’t jumped on the bandwagon and started reading these books, you really need to!  They are fascinating and intriguing.  Joseph Talluto is a great story teller that never ceases to surprise.  Any self respecting zombiephile needs to add “Taking it Back” to their collection.

Braindead (film)

Image via Wikipedia

The movie I’m about to review is gorier and funnier than a Sam Raimi movie.  I kid you not.  And it was directed by the man who headed the unbelievably involved “Lord of the Rings Trilogy“.  That’s right people – Peter Jackson directed a horror movie!  1992 saw the release of “Dead Alive” (also known as “Braindead”), a movie which I should have seen years ago.  I have no idea how I’ve survived for so long without seeing this film.

The movie opens with an anthropologist and his helper carrying a wooden box through a jungle.  The man helping the anthropologist keeps advising against the transport of the thing inside.  When the natives of the region catch up to the two men, we find out the the box contains a dangerous species of monkey.  While trying to flee, the anthropologist is bitten by the “Sumatran rat-monkey” and it is suspected that he is infected.  Toute de suite he is dismembered.  After little discussion between the anthropologist’s helpers, it is decided to send the monkey to America anyway, and they reap the monetary benefits.

The rat-monkey finds itself in a zoo, where mamma’s boy and perpetual nebbish Lionel is on a date with his girl Paquita.  True to form, Lionel’s mother is spying on them, and she accidentally falls backwards onto the cage with the Sumatran rat-monkey (I really love that phrase!)  It tears into her sleeve, and she becomes infected.  Lionel spends the rest of the movie first trying to take care of his soon-to-be-zombie-mother, and then trying to fight off the horde of zombies after he looses control.

There was only one part of the movie that I took issue with: a sex scene between two zombies.  Sorry people – I’m just not a fan of necrophilia in any form.  Even if it does produce a fugly zombie baby that advances the plot.

Now on to the good bits!  The gore was super inventive and realistic.  It ranged from dismemberment and arterial spray to pus and removed teeth.  The gore became excessive, but not really boring.  It seems Jackson can always find a new use for some extra blood and gristle.  Which brings me to my reaction to the movie – while I’m usually a wuss about certain kinds of gore (think all the “Saw” movies), there are some things which are surprisingly hard to handle.  There is a scene where a certain amount of puss lands into a certain food and is consumed.  I paused the movie and ran out gagging.  It took a good solid five minutes before I could go back to the movie.  And then a few other things happened with that food.  Apparently I won’t be eating anything of that persuasion for awhile now.

The music was cheesy and carnival-esque, and the acting wasn’t the best either.  However, I think those elements combined to create a rare kind of movie.  “Dead Alive” seemed to joyfully mock  the zombie culture, while at the same time creating something of value and interest.  I strongly encourage everyone who likes zombies to watch this twisted classic (don’t plan on eating before, during, or after the movie…you will retch.  I’m not being a drama queen!)  “Dead Alive” is definitely not your grandparent’s zombie flick!


The Lost Lansdale !

Cover of "Dead in the West"

Cover of Dead in the West

For a few years now I have been searching for the book “Dead in the West” by Joe R. Lansdale.  The first edition was published in 1986 – my birth year – and, to my knowledge, it is the first zombie western.

For Easter this year my boyfriend and I exchanged gifts, and I told him that first and foremost on my list of books was “Dead in the West”.  He found me a mint condition 2005 edition that is SIGNED by Lansdale.  I almost died when it arrived.  (Incidentally, he builds computers – so I bought him some parts he wanted).

No lie, I read that book in three days.  Cover to awesome cover.

The story revolves around a Reverend named Jebidiah Mercer, who has lost his faith in God due to some shenanigans from his younger days.  He feels that he is unworthy of being the Lord’s servant, and has resorted to holding prayer services specifically to get money to fuel his alcoholism.  He wanders from town to town and ultimately winds up in Mud Creek.  Mud Creek is a seemingly boring little town.  That is, until he finds out about the mob that attacked an Indian medicine man and his wife.  The mob hangs the man and does far worse things to the wife, and moments before dying the man vows revenge on the town.  It appears that Reverend Mercer has arrived just in time for the bloodbath that follows when the dead rise.

I can’t say enough about how great I think “Dead in the West” truly is – Lansdale is a master.  At times the story is funny and at other times its heartbreaking, other times I thought I wasn’t going to be able to turn out the light for fear of the images playing on my eyelids.  There is one scene in particular that caught my interest.  The good town doctor is in his study in the dark listening to the body of a deceased man come after him.  As he watches by the light of a single match, the body pieces itself together – all the parts crawling independently across the floor.  As usual, Lansdale adds humor when a nose decides to settle on a wayward finger instead of the face.  That notwithstanding, the whole scene felt very Lovecraftian to me.  It felt like it could have been straight out of “Herbert West: Reanimator”.

If it is at all possible for you to track down this book and read it, then you should.  “Dead in the West” will make you a rabid page-turner.  With every page the story gets more interesting, and more frightening.  If you’re not already a fan of Joe R. Lansdale, then this is the book to try.  He’s one author you don’t want to exclude from your horror collection!

An artist's visual representation of the Elder...

Cthulhu - tentacles and all. Image via Wikipedia

What a fabulous book!  “Beneath the Surface” was an amazing book!  Judging by the Cthulhu looking beauty on the cover, I thought these stories would be all about the ocean.  I was really off-base with that assumption, and all the better for it!

Almost every story in this book was a blast.  “Thorguson” by Scott Christian Carr started the anthology.  It details a submarine captain in his ship at the bottom of the ocean.  His whole crew is dead, but they’re walking around and banging on the sides of the ship.  We never find out why they died, but we do find out what they’re up to, and it’s not too pretty.  The story is written from the point of view of the captain as he faces his horrible end.  Great story!

Next up is “Raw Materials” by Derek M. Fox.  After reading this story, I will never go for a road trip.  Not an unplanned road trip, nor a planned one.  Nor will I stay in a hotel that isn’t run by a chain.  As one couple finds out, the kindly but slightly odd proprietors may just be after your hide!  All around creepy story.

“Stone Creek Station” by Scott William Carter provides an interesting look into a wish most people have at one time or another in their lives.  His character decides to go on a road trip after his wife leaves him, and he winds up in a little town with a big secret.  He follows the town elders out to a train station seemingly in the middle of nowhere.  As it turns out, the train station is for the dead, who come and visit periodically.  Wouldn’t everyone like to talk to their deceased loved ones?  After reading this story, I know I changed my theory.  This story is both thought provoking and sad, and certainly not one to be missed.

Marie Brennan puts an evil twist on the Walt Disney Sleeping Beauty tale in “Kiss of Life”.  I’m not going to say anything else, excepting that it’s a times a riot and at times a terror, but it’s definitely a story you NEED to read.

Angeline Hawkes delivers an interesting look at the power of relices in “The Relic: Father Santiago’s Bones”.  It’s also an interesting look into why we choose the relics we do.  The father in question is actually part of the Inquisition.  He allows the rape, torture, and murder of an innocent girl in front of her own mother.  The mother curses him, and when Father Santiago dies his bones become relics.  However, they are not the good kind that grant prayers or heal babies.  They are cursed, and when certain people touch them, a terrible thing happens.  (I can’t tell you, because it will ruin the story.)  This story is also a must-read!

To be honest, I liked the book so much that I almost wrote a summary for every story.  If there is one book you buy this month, you need to buy “Beneath the Surface.”  It includes all the stories mentioned above, plus a money tree that punishes it’s finder, a sadistic and hungry mattress, a nameless and ancient horror about to be unleashed, and a witch who steals souls.  There are many other stories in the book – and you NEED to read them all.