Saturday, October 31, 2009

Tricks 'n' Treats

With Halloween upon us, it seemed a good time to share some spooky goodies to make this - or any - season a little more creepy and fun...

The Strange Adventures of H.P. Lovecraft (Image)
This series captures the essence of the Lovecraft stories well: the
protagonists in Lovecraft’s stories were rarely Everymen, but more
often singular personalities who were haunted by some demon or Elder
God, but more often by their own obsessions. H.P. is presented here as
a struggling writer, so trapped by his own insecurities and familial
dysfunctions that he can’t even pursue the girl of his dreams (a
flapper librarian, no less – yowza!). Writer Mac Carter does a great
job of capturing the energy and vibe of a Lovecraft story while
keeping his own voice, and Tony Salmons’ art fully conveys the
frenetic creepiness of the tale. Unfortunately, the final issue has
yet to materialize, but for now it’s worth tracking down the first

Paranormal Activity
By now you’ve probably heard lots about this
little-indie-film-turned-box-office-smash, but the question remains,
is it scary? Let me tell you something, my friend, it is indeed. By
aiming low – focusing on the actors’ reactions and keeping the scare
level at a slow boil – this film reminds us that, still, the scariest
things are the ones we don’t see. You’ll never look at a hall light
turning on the same way again. (Note: The trailers on the film's web site are far better than the one on Youtube, but really, you'll get way more just going in fresh. At least, that worked for me.)

Drag Me to Hell
A Sam Raimi horror movie about a woman who receives a gypsy curse that
threatens to – you guessed it – drag her to hell. It’s been 22 years
since Raimi and crew made Evil Dead II, and even after all the time
and big budget films Sam proves he never strayed far from his
(Michigan) slapstick horror roots.

The Misfits – “Scream” video
Yeah, it’s old, but still worth revisiting. Bassist Jerry Only revived
the Misfits in the mid-‘90s without Glenn Danzig, to very mixed
lineups and results. But perhaps signifying the peak of the “Misfits
pt.2” was the video for their song “Scream” (from the Famous Monsters
album). Directed by none other than George Romero (in exchange for
their appearance in Romero’s film Bruiser), it distills the zombie
movie to its essence in just under three minutes, and still delivers.

And of course...


Thursday, October 22, 2009

Blacker than Blackest?

As we know, the DC Comics universe is deep into their latest Giant Crossover Event, Blackest Night which features, among other things, a villain reviving a whole slew of dead characters to wreak all kinds of havoc on the living heroes. It also seems to be resurrecting DC's status with fans (will Final Crisis ever truly be forgiven?), as the series has been August and September's top selling book. And, setting aside thecheap gimmicks to sell tie-in books, the buzz around the book seems pretty positive (haven't read it myself, so I can't comment).

So, with that in mind I found it very intriguing to hear about Marvel's newest Mutant Crossover Event, Necrosha which features, among other things a villain... reviving a whole slew of dead characters... to wreak all kinds of havoc on the living heroes.

Perhaps this is just coincidence; As I pointed out last post, zombies are everywhere at the moment, and both events sound like they've been building for a while. And yes, Marvel did start putting the Marvel Zombies series years ago. Still, one could see a trend developing with Marvel, were one so inclined:

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I leave it to you to decide...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Jumping the Undead Shark

Well, hello there. Yeah, guess it has been a while, and the blog was starting to resemble one of those abandoned houses Time Magazine is writing about – you know, not taken down, but not maintained, just a withered reminder of the glory that once was and we all hope could return.

So in that spirit, and appropriate to the upcoming holiday, the topic at hand for this post is: zombies.

I had set out to write this entry after reading about the Night of the Stripping Dead, but before I could, I encountered last week’s Savage Love article, which featured a question form a reader regarding the ethic of – you guessed it – zombie sex (you’ll have to scroll down for it).

In case you missed that, someone wrote to a national sex columnist to get advice on the morality of having sexual intercourse with the living dead.

Seriously, people.

All of this reinforces a question I’ve been asking myself lately: has the zombie phenomenon hit its peak?

Of course, a lot of this ties into the release of the movie Zombieland – which, despite its use of the modern running zombie is hilarious and worth seeing. Interestingly, it seems that whoever did the marketing for that movie knew their stuff, as I’ve seen the movie promoted by several Zombie Walk groups (including

Detroit’s own). And with AMC producing a televised version of Image Comics’ series The Walking Dead, it seems the march of the pop culture undead is going to be a hard to put down as the monsters themselves. (In this case it may not be a bad thing, since if the show turns out even half as good as the book, it’ll be one of the best series on TV). And lest we forget, while you’re waiting for the show you can always read some zombiefied Jane Austen.

Yes, everywhere you look, there be zombies.

But why does there seem to be this tendency of late to turn everything into a phenomenon anyway? Time was, you could be into pirates or ninjas or robots or primates or whatever it was, and it wasn’t a big deal, it was just what you were into. Mainly because you were ten, and ninjas were the baddest-ass thing you’d ever heard of in your entire decade-long life. But now, it doesn’t seem to be enough to just like, say, pirates. You have to be “OMG!! Pirates!!!” Everything becomes this grand statement pop cultural identity.

To further illustrate this, I give you a prime example: bacon. Once it was simply fried pig flesh that many people enjoyed at meals. Then came Baconnaise, and all its offshoots. Then the April Fool’s Day joke Bacon Lube, which proved so popular it became a real item. There are bacon t-shirts. I’ve seen a Beer and Bacon happy hour at some hipster bar. That thing that used to be just to make you stop being hungry? It’s now something you show off to demonstrate your hipness.

This could be a result of the constant barrage of cultural input we get. If you’re some artist or Hollywood executive trying to cut through the endless sea of stimuli to get your product/creation/message across, and you see some wave that people are actually paying attention to (especially if those people are in your target demographic), well, wouldn’t you try to ride it as far as you could?

Or maybe it’s just that I’m not used to the things I like being mainstream. It’s kind of like watching a band go from playing dive bars to packing stadiums – you’re happy for them, but it’s just not the same. Then you start saying how they’re not as good anymore, and anyway none of the new fans get the band like you do.

But I digress…

Now the question is, with vampires making a comeback, will the zombie be pushed out of the undead spotlight? After all, what could possibly be a bigger draw than a bunch of shuffling, rotting corpses?