Tag Archive: zombies


Shambling Up The Ranks…

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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!

Go see this movie – The Cabin in the Woods. Do it NOOOW!

“The Cabin in the Woods” has, quite literally, something for everyone.  Regardless of whether you fancy monsters, supernatural in general, psycho killers, government conspiracies and plot twists, or if humor or torture are more your cup of tea, you will find something you like about “The Cabin in the Woods”.  I know this may be going out on a limb, but I really really loved this movie.  I can’t wait for it to come out on DVD so I can begin forcing absolutely everyone I know to watch “Cabin in the Woods”.

First off, it’s absolutely hilarious.  Joss Whedon pulls out all the stops when it comes to paying homage to the genre.  We start with the usual crew of college kids (all of which possess morals, to varying degrees) who set out to spend some vacation time in the woods at a cabin.  What starts off as “Evil Dead” quickly morphs into a full-blown ride through everything the horror/slasher genre has to offer – but with a twist.  Aaand that’s the killer, literally.  While I really want to tell you what the twist is, it will completely destroy the movie for you.  It’s something that I’ve never seen done in any movie ever, period.  And it’s worth every minute leading up.

As for the cast, the faces may seem familiar, but not to the point that you can’t enjoy the movie.  Joss Whedon (writer) is of “Firefly”, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer“, “Dollhouse”, “Avengers”, and “Angel” fame.  Chris Hemsworth is, of course, the indomitable “Thor”.  Other familiar faces include Fran Kranz (“The Village”, “Donnie Darko“, “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodric Rules”), Richard Jenkins (“Burn After Reading“, “Step Brothers“, “Friends With Benefits”), and Bradley Whitford (“Billy Madison“, “Scent of a Woman“, and various TV appearances).  I’m sure there are other faces you’ll know, but those are just a taste.  (There’s even a special cameo by a woman who has made her mark on the genre).

“The Cabin in the Woods” kept me on the edge of my seat for the entire film.  There wasn’t one boring spot – I couldn’t help but continue to guess what was going to happen next.  I delighted each time I was wrong – what actually occurred was far more interesting than what I was expecting.  I walked out of the theater babbling inanely about how awesome the movie was – and ran straight into a woman who was complaining that it was “Two hours of my life I’ll never get back!”  Much to TKOut’s embarassment, I had to stop and chat with the woman and her daughter for almost fifteen minutes about why they didn’t like the movie.  The mother said that it was too predictable, and borrowed too heavily from other movies within the genre.  Honestly, I think that was the greatest strength the movie had.  As the saying goes, “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”.

I strongly encourage you to go out and rent this movie as soon as it comes out.  It’s an absolute thrillride – including laughs, screams, and gore-a-plenty.  It’s not your mother’s slasher cabin flick!

 

Super 8 (film)

Super 8 (film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

On Easter day, I sat down and watched “Super 8” for the first time.  (If you haven’t already guessed, I’m from an atypical family, and we don’t always watch sappy movies on the appropriate holiday…)  In any event, the enigmatic trailer combined with a rave review from a class of 5th graders at my previous school caused me to accept the invitation to watch “Super 8”.

At first, the movie seemed to go pretty slowly.  I sat there crocheting for most of the first half hour, positive that I wasn’t missing anything.  From what I could tell, it was a slightly updated version of “Stand By Me” – a bunch of boys running around doing their thing while the parents don’t watch them.  So far, so good.  The fact that the children were using a camera to make a zombie movie added a very nice touch.  Then there was the train crash scene.  I don’t think I have ever seen a more terrifying train crash scene in any movie.  I immediately dropped my crochet and watched as tons of metal went flying across the screen, all to the tune of various (glorious) explosions.  Absolute and unabashed awesome.  Arguably one of the best wreck scenes in any horror film I’ve seen in awhile.  It seemed to last forever, but never get boring.

From the train crash onward, it was hard to look away from the screen.  Each scene got progressively more interesting, and the plot thickened.  The usual suspects were in abundance: freaky military personnel, absentee father, crazed alien.  What was unusual about the movie, was the unexpected twist in the storyline.  “Super 8” gleefully transcends every alien movie you’ve ever seen, while retaining shades of “E.T.” and “Aliens“.

I wish I could tell you more about the plot, but I don’t want to spoil it for you.  This movie really is THAT good.

While you’re watching, you might recognize some familiar names in show biz.  (Fortunately, recognizing them doesn’t mean that they’ll stick out to you as a particular character to the point of it ruining their current role!)  The project was spearheaded by J.J. Abrams and Steven Spielberg.  You  may remember J.J. Abrams from “Armageddon” and “Lost”, and if I have to tell you who Steven Spielberg is, well then you’re not fit to be reading this article.  Other familiar faces include Ron Eldard (who played Dodge in “Ghost Ship“), Joel McKinnon Miller (“Men in Black”, “Just Like Heaven”, and others), Kyle Chandler (“Friday Night Lights“, “King Kong” and “Early Edition”), Amanda Michalka (AJ of “Ally and AJ”), and Elle Fanning (little sister to Dakota Fanning).  Whew!

If you’re looking for a movie that is out of the ordinary and very entertaining, I highly recommend watching “Super 8”.  The movie is well-acted, the plot is interesting, and the train crash is not to be missed.  If you do choose to view “Super 8”, make sure you stick around for the credits.  The kid’s zombie movie is included as part of the credits – and it’s actually pretty good!

It’s hard to believe that so much horror and gut-wrenching sadness could ever originate from the likes of the cherubic-looking gentleman featured in the picture to the right.  He could be your next door neighbor or the teller at a local bank.  Luckily for zombie aficionados, he’s neither.  In fact, he’s none other than the celebrated zombie author, Craig DiLouie.

I’m a bit ashamed to admit that I just got around to reading “The Infection”, which has been on my To Read list for some time now.  Had I known what kind of tale was in store – I’d have picked it up sooo much sooner.  In fact, I’m so excited about this book, you wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve written and rewritten this review to try and get it right!

DiLouie’s greatest strength is in his ability to move the story along at a fast yet organic pace.  There isn’t a single spot of unimportant or boring information, and the characters develop on their own without DiLouie playing God and throwing random obstacles at them for the sake of their growth within the story.  Each character seems real from the first time the reader meets them, and they stay that way until the very end.  There’s Kid, who spent his whole life being bullied at school only to find he was tailor-made for the apocalypse.  We have Wendy, the she-cop who’s too beautiful to be taken seriously, but ultimately finds her way to acceptance.  Anne, the enigmatic group leader who never lets her guard down.  There are others in the ragtag group, each as important as the last.

The actual zombie infection is multi-faceted as well.  It starts with an event called The Screaming, which is the sudden and agonizing death of a large percentage of the populace, and eventually moves on to The Children of Infection.  The Children of Infection are horrific abominations that are  driven out of hiding when the cities begin to burn.  They include my personal favorite, the Hoppers.  They are naked monkey-like organisms that end in grasshopper legs.  DiLouie deftly blends modern zombie and apocalyptic fiction with the 50s style monster genre, creating infection vectors that are, quite literally, larger than life.

As if DiLouie weren’t talented enough, he’s also able to elicit a visceral reaction from his readers.  I found myself inadvertently yelling at my Kindle while my favorite character was devoured by one of the Children of Infection.  I hadn’t seen it coming, and I knew it wasn’t a crack shot from the author.  It was, unfortunately, what was to be expected of any zombie novel worth the paper on which it’s printed.  Characters must die, whether they’re the hero or the scumbag.  Everyone alive during Infection is living on borrowed time, and nobody knows it better than the characters.

I was so impressed by “The Infection” that I almost flipped to the first page to read it again.  While I’ve already discussed DiLouie’s writing style, there is one more very important tidbit I’d like to leave my readers with.  DiLouie handles flashbacks and character back story in a unique way.  He titles his chapters after the pertinent character, and makes sure that anything that happened in the past is written in past tense.  That sounds easy enough, but then when the reader is immersed, the story is written in the present.  This causes the reader to feel as though they’ve been swept along into the story with the characters.  It also builds a sense of urgency and fear that moves the story along.  Instead of experiencing the story as a casual observer, the reader is forced to take greater interest because the story is taking place in the here and now.

Thankfully, this book will appeal to readers of all levels of zombie experience, from the die-hard survivalist who is counting the days until the apocalypse, to the closet-zombie reader.  Whatever you do, go and purchase this book RIGHT NOW!  Especially because rumor has it (as in, craigdilouie.com has it) that there will be a sequel entitled The Killing Floor out sometime early this year.  I promise you – this book needs to go straight to the top of your reading list…right now!

(You can view the ultra-creepy book trailer on Youtube.com here!)

 

 

 

 

2011 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 4,100 times in 2011. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 3 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

A New Face, A New Terror…

Uh-oh! He found you!

Prepare for the arival of Suzanne Robb, who brings us a new vision of zombie mayhem with her debut novel, “Z-Boat”.  It doesn’t matter whether your buy the  book in Kindle format or traditional paperback, this is a must-read book.  Especially if you’re tired of the tried-and-true formula that the zombie genre has stuck to for so long.  Robb delivers a fast-paced novel full of government and interpersonal intrigue, a submarine too decrepit for it’s deep sea rescue mission, and a host of strange characters that is sure to delight.

It’s difficult to give a basic summary of such an intricate book, but here goes!  The Betty Loo and her crew have been commissioned to go on a rescue mission deeper than they’ve ever gone before.  Along with the usual captain and crew, a few new people are assigned.  A quick check of the personnel files shows that these people are anything but ordinary – and that all is not what it seems.  As (bad) luck would have it, the second they leave the dock and begin the mission, everything goes awry in the worst way imaginable – from mechanical failures and dueling spies to accidental crew deaths.  The worst is yet to come – the sub they are going to rescue is crewed by…zombies.  Unfortunately they aren’t the shambling Romero variety either.  Robb’s zombies retain a little intelligence, and a nightmarish pack mentality.  Do they make it out alive?  Does the plague reach the surface and the unsuspecting world?  Read Z-Boat and find out!

If you haven’t read any books by Suzanne Robb, now would be the time.  She’s a promising up-and-comer who has already published stories in multiple anthologies.  “Z-Boat” is her first published full-length novel, and there is talk of a sequel.  Her greatest strength as a writer is her ability to weave interesting characters into an even more interesting story line.  She began the book with a Prologue detailing the current state of the world, a first chapter with a not-so-desperate S.O.S. call, and then went straight into the characters and story.  The zombies don’t actually appear in full force until the middle of the book, but by then the reader is so deeply immersed in the political intrigue (and, let’s face it, trying to guess who’s going to make it out alive), they the zombies are an added treat, rather than the main focus.

If you happen to enjoy nitpicking books then I should warn you that there were a few grammatical errors along the way, but nothing worth getting in a tizzy over.  They didn’t impact the ability of the reader to enjoy the story.

On a personal note, I found that once I got through the first few pages, I couldn’t put the book down.  It drove me crazy trying to figure out who was going to die, where the zombies came from, and how the crew thought they were going to make it back to the surface in a busted sub.  And just to warn any prospective readers, I actually cried at the ending.  It was really sad, but really fit the book.  I think I’d have been really aggravated if the book had a different ending.

Now, stop reading this and go buy a copy of the book for yourself!  (And your friend!)

 

This picture was lovingly and respectfully pilfered from the author's blog. <<http://gotld.blogspot.com/>&gt;

I finished Kim Paffenroth‘s “Dying to LiveLast Rites” a little while ago, but haven’t gotten the opportunity to give it the write-up it so badly deserves.

**Pre-Review Warning: You will cry your eyes out so hard when you finish this book that your chest will hurt.  Actually, I lied.  There are a few sections where you will cry your eyes out.  Don’t say I didn’t warn you!**

It was a thought-provoking tear-jerker that left me thinking about the human race, and also introspectively about myself. It made me consider what I myself might be capable of under the right circumstances.  I’d like to think that I would be a good person, but when I think of what I’d do to save the ones I loved, my certainty wavers.  (So don’t sit there smugly assuming you’d be any better either…)

If you’ve read the two previous books in the series, you have already been introduced to the four central characters.  Rachel and Will, two humans who are forced to leave their community because of their treatment of Lucy and Truman, two sentient zombies.  The community they were living in doesn’t believe in executing zombies, but they don’t believe in coexisting in the same house either.  In any event, the last installation of the trilogy finds the four companions on a boat, with Rachel seriously ill.  Will, Truman, and Lucy decide to seek medical help from a town they find.  What happens to each and every one of them will test the boundaries of what most readers think humans are capable of.  You will find yourself sickened, pensive, and deeply heartbroken by the end of this novel, I guarantee it.  And then you’ll feel lost knowing that at this time Paffenroth has not announced any other additions to the series.

Probably the single greatest strength of this work is Paffenroth’s ability to create new and complex characters that work seamlessly with his well-established characters while at the same time never losing sight of the importance of the message. While many messages can be found in the book, I choose to take away the idea that a life built on greed and egotism leads to nothing. Conversely, a life built on sharing, self-sacrifice, loyalty and love may not always give you what you expect, but it will be more fulfilling. The best part? Paffenroth isn’t preachy about it. He sneaks up on you, his you over the head, and runs off into the darkness while you are left with a serious bump on your head and the echos of his laughter.

The Walking Dead - Comic-Con - July 22, 2011

Image by starbright31 via Flickr

It started out so promising, it really did.  The survivors made it out of the CDC alive (most of them), and then they find themselves horrifically besieged on a highway by a bunch of walking dead.  Awesome!  They hide under cars and almost make it out undetected, until little Sophia decides to prematurely come out from her hiding place.  She goes running off persued by walkers.  Still doing pretty well.

Then what the hell happened?!

They survive the horde of zombies.  Fine.  They loose the little girl Sophia, also fine.  Shane talks about (read: whines) losing Lori and how he’s going to leave the group.  Fine.  Then they find themselves looking for Sophia in a church, with a few faithful zombies inside.  The first thing I thought when I saw that was, “Oh boy – Danny Boyle anyone?”  That’s right people.  It felt like a rip-off of 28 Days Later – where Cillian Murphy walks into the church and is chased by a few enterprising zombies.  Of course, they group easily overcomes this obstacle, but then they hang around a little bit while a few characters go through a pseudo-epiphany.

The ending cliffhanger did it’s job and made up for some of the more ridiculous moments of the show.  I just wish they’d start working in some of the graphic novel material.  Unfortunately, I don’t think we’ll see “The Governor”, and Shane is still certainly alive and kicking, so I’m not holding my breath.  I am hoping that the season stays away from kitschy moments – that would really kill the season.

The make-up effects were savagely on par with what I would expect some sun-dried zombies to be.  The actors were top-notch again, and the dialogue wasn’t stuffy or over-bearing.

Overall – I’m pretty much in the same spot as where I left off.  Hurrah that there’s a zombie TV show, boo-rah that it’s not as awesome as it could be. (Oh, and I keep hearing rumors that there will be a video game based on the TV show.  Not thrilled about that at all.  Some things shouldn’t be poisoned by a need to make money off of people who don’t know a good zombie when they see one.)

As always – let me know what you think!

Brian Keene – part 2!

Cover of "City Of The Dead"

Cover of City Of The Dead --> This is the cover of my book as well 🙂

I finished “City of the Dead” on the car ride to Maine the other day, and I figured I should write about it now.  In another week or two things will get very hectic.  I will hopefully be returning to school to get my master’s, and I will have other things taking up my limited time.  Therefore, while it’s still fresh in my mind, I’m going to write as many reviews as I can remember (I’m fairly behind in my reviews).

“City of the Dead” is the thrilling conclusion to “The Rising“, both of which are written by Brian Keene.  I’m not going to go into detail, since the last book ended so abruptly, and this book starts right away with the story.  What I will say is that we lose some good characters, and we gain a few along the way.  Character growth for those still (un)lucky enough to survive continues at a natural and realistic pace.

This book finds the demon-lord Ob continuing to amass his forces for the war against all life forms and their Creator.  He continues to have dry, morbid, and sarcastic humor.  I’m not going to lie – I really do enjoy his quips.  Some people have criticized Keene for it, but I have to admit, it really does enrich the story.  I wouldn’t figure that a timeless demon-lord would always speak in an older style, especially when you figure that the bodies these demons are possessing are full of our current language and skills.  It stands to reason that they would update their language as well.

This book finds a group of survivors trapped in an impregnable New York City skyscraper.  The skyscraper was designed to withstand any kind of biological, terrorist, or natural attack/disaster that could ever happen.  The designer, Ramsey, has locked himself up inside the skyscraper, and he sends out forces to look for survivors daily.  Unfortunately for everyone else in the tower, he has a messiah complex, which I guess isn’t unusual since his building is named Ramsey Towers.  He fancies him their ultimate savior, and comes to think that they adore him.  Most of the people living in the skyscraper are very diverse, with their own tales of woe and their own characteristics.  It’s fun to guess who will be a main character, and who will become zombie fodder.  Keene writes so convincingly and with such back story that it’s hard to decide who is a main character and who is not.

The climax of the story is truly unforgettable.  The zombies pitch and epic battle, and humanity’s last struggle is no less epic.  The stories of all the characters intertwine, and you find yourself rooting for almost everyone.  Since the situation has become more dire in this book, there are virtually no rape scenes, which makes it an easier book to read.

Again, the book is a work of pulp fiction, so please don’t expect it to be a classic for the ages.  “City of the Dead” is highly entertaining and worth reading, and I suggest it to anyone who wants to read something that isn’t the usual zombie book.  Take nothing for granted, and make sure you have a few hours to spare – once you pick this book up you won’t want to put it down!

For the cook…

Cover of "Ghoulish Goodies: Creature Feat...

Cover via Amazon

Here is a list of cook books that cater to the macabre.  If you know of any others, please feel free to message me or use the comment option to share with everyone.

I added links to the pages on amazon.com, but as always you can find them at other stores and retailers.