Monday, October 31, 2011

This Is Halloween?

For all intents and purposes, Halloween 2011 is over. And while the party at the day job was a success (my buddy Mia won "Best Costume" as Flo from the Progressive Insurance commercials and the food was amazing), I came home to give out candy to a measly 11 Trick-or-Treaters. 11.  The best costume I saw tonight was a young Lady Gaga. The worst was an adorable store-bought Care Bear toddler. I didn't see a single vampire, mummy or zombie.

When Uncle P was a child (many, many moons ago) we would leave the house at 5:30, stop home to dump our filled-to-the-brim (or too-heavy-to-carry-anymore) pillowcases and head out until 9:30 (10:30 on a weekend). Just about every house gave out candy and the streets were filled with hundreds of costumed kids. These days, hardly anyone actually Trick-or-Treats. Nervous parents keep their kids home or limit them to only knocking on doors of people they know or force them to attend lame parties. Sadly, urban legends, Boy Scout leaders and Catholic priests have ruined Samhain for millions of sweet-toothed ghouls and ghosties.

Likewise, slutty co-eds and horny gay boys have sexualized the holiday into a Bacchanal of drunken frat parties and exposed nipples. 

Or maybe I'm just getting old.

In either event, here's the trailer for a new French horror movie called Livid. And for those of you who don't read French: Yes, it is a very bad idea to break into a vampire's house.

I'll be back tomorrow with my re-cap of  the most recent episode of "The Walking Dead" and then it's on to Turkey Month, highlighting some of the worst Hollywood has to offer. I hope your Halloween was more fun than mine.

More, anon.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

We're Coming to Get You, Barbara!

In tonight's penultimate and NSFW language Shocktober post, I thought I'd take a look at one of the smartest and funniest zombie movies ever made, 2004's Shaun of the Dead. Writers Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright (who also directed) put the British humor (or should that be 'humour?') spin on the genre with this story of a ne'er-do-well named Shaun (Pegg); his best friend, Ed (Nick Frost); his girlfriend, Liz (Kate Ashfield) and his mum, Barbara (Penelope Wilton). 

Shaun works in an electronics shop, stumbling through his day and hardly noticing what's happening around him. Ed wants him to stay home, smoke pot and play video games all day. Liz wants him to step up and take her somewhere else than the local pub for once and Barbara wants him to simply accept her second husband (Bill Nighy) and move on.

When the zombie apocalypse happens, Shaun hardly notices. He goes to work, ignoring the same beggar; the same skateboarder and the lack of an attendant at his local convenience store. It's not until he arrives home that he and Ed realize what's going on, after a zombie attacks them in the garden

When their uptight roommate attacks, the boys formulate a plan. First they are going to rescue Liz, then Shaun's mum. After that... well, who knows? Of course, thanks to Liz's pretentious friends and Barbara's husband, the plan goes awry and after several misadventures (including a very funny acting lesson):

...they end up at the local pub, afterall. Eventually, Shaun and Liz make a miraculous escape and a few weeks later, things are (more or less) back to normal.

Wright and Pegg smartly reference Romero; Queen; 80's music; Dead Alive;  game shows; Monty Python and dozens of other pop culture icons. I saw Shaun... at a Sunday matinee, by myself. There were maybe a dozen other patrons in the auditorium and I was dismayed at being the only person to laugh when Ed screams into the phone to Shaun's mum "We're coming to get you, Barbara!" I mean, honestly. What serious genre fan doesn't get that reference?

If you've never seen Shaun of the Dead (and shame on you, if not), you can watch it on YouTube here, for $2.99. Undoubtedly one of the smartest and funniest romzomcoms ever, Shaun of the Dead is required viewing for any genre fan. It also available on DVD and BluRay and shows up  now and then on Comedy Central and SyFy in a language-edited version.

More, anon.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

TV Review: "Grimm"

Last Sunday saw the premiere of ABC's supremely silly fairy-tale drama "Once Upon a Time." Last night, NBC unveiled their rival series, "Grimm." I wasn't particularly optimistic about it, but I'm happy to report that "Grimm" is probably a thousand times better. 

Nick Burkhardt (the ridiculously handsome David Giuntoli) is a homicide detective in a small, though scenic Oregon town. When the torn-apart corpse of a young college student is found in the woods, Nick and his partner Hank (Russell Hornsby) are called in to investigate. Nick has just bought a ring with which he hopes to propose to his girlfriend Juliette (Bitsie Tulloch, best known from the 'LonelyGirl15' web hoax). But he's begun to see some rather odd things. A beautiful blonde walking down the street morphs into a demonic creature and a suspect at the station appears to some sort of reptilian monster. When Nick's Aunt Marie (Kate Burton) shows up, she tells him that his life is about to change and they are attacked by a monster whom Nick shoots. Marie, close to death, gives Nick a locket she says he must never lose. Later, she reveals that he is one of the last of the Grimms, destined to protect the world from horrors they think are fairy tales. But she lapses into a coma before she can tell him more. Searching the trailer Marie drove to his house, Nick finds an arsenal of medieval weapons and an old book filled with illustrations of strange creatures.

Meanwhile, a little girl wearing a red sweatshirt (like the dead coed) has gone missing. Thinking he's found his suspect, Nick accuses 'Butblad" (a Big Bad Wolf) Eddie (Silas Weir Mitchell). Eddie soon becomes Nick's ally and together they track down the real culprit, a fellow Butblad and mailman ("Monk" alum Tim Bagley).

A combination of horror, fantasy and police procedural, "Grimm" is much more fun than "Once Upon a Time." The writing (at least in the pilot) is crisp and fun, while the Oregon locations are stunningly beautiful. Giuntoli is fine as the young cop discovering a mysterious family secret and Mitchell is down right hilarious as a monster trying to 'go straight.' Recent "Warehouse 13" bad guy Sasha Roiz is on hand as the apparently evil Police Chief and Drag Me to Hell's Reggie Lee is a clueless beat cop. As with any pilot, the first episode of "Grimm" had a lot of information to throw at us, but I think that given time, the show's mythology will pay off in an intriguing and original series that will outlast it's competitor simply by being smarter, darker, funnier and much more intelligent. *** (Three Out of Four Stars).

More, anon.


So last night's post about the zombie sheep in Black Sheep got me thinking about zombie animals, in general. Robert Kirkwood, creator and executive producer of "The Walking Dead" said on last week's "Talking Dead" that in his stories, zombieism was non-transmugenic or not shared between species. But a quick Google image search brought up loads of zombie animal images and I thought I'd share some of them with you, here.
I first saw the "Zomboodle" on your right in a post shared by a friend on Facebook. I'm always against dressing up pets (dogs, cats, hamsters or birds), but shaving and dying them? That's another story. How badass would you look walking down the street with this dog as you Trick or Treated on Halloween? Below are a few more images I found, most of them Photoshopped, though a few are drawings and/or paintings. 

This Zomboxer looks a little sad, doesn't he?

This zombie kitty appears to have been created by the same artist, no?

This is a real dog, believe it or not. A blind Chinese Crested, this particular pup (now actually deceased, I believe) was a winner of the annual "Ugly Dog Contest." Poor thing...

This manipulated meerkat image would make the most avid Animal Planet fan run screaming...

Not so cute now, are you zombie koala?

"...with great big, gnarly teeth!" Zombunny will take you down!

This is how the Chinese are going to take over the world; with rare, adorable zombie pandas!

Stay tuned for a bonus post!

More (very) anon.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Sheepish Zombies

Zombies don't always have to be people (or former people, even). In writer/director Jonathan King's hilarious 2006 Black Sheep, the zombies are... well, sheep. 

After being pranked by his brother Angus, Henry Oldfield learns that his father has died in a farming accident and develops an intense phobia of sheep. After 15 years of therapy, Henry (Nathan Meister) returns to the family sheep farm in New Zealand where Angus (Peter Feeney)  is about unveil his latest breakthrough: a genetically engineered perfect sheep.

Meanwhile, two animal activists named Grant (Oliver Driver) and Experience (Danielle Mason) break into Angus' secret lab and steal a mutant sheep embryo in an attempt to expose Angus' evil experimentation. While making their escape, the container breaks and the preserved embryo (somehow still alive) bites Grant on the ear and then makes off into the field where it infects the rest of Angus' flock.

Thinking Grant is dead, Experience makes her way to the farm where she, Henry and farmhand Tucker (Tammy Davis) try to stop what has been put into motion. Tucker is bitten by an infected sheep and it soon becomes apparent that he and Grant have become "weresheep."We also learn that Angus, in a variation on about a million and four shepherd jokes, is having sex with his creation.

Of course, just as Angus is about to unveil his perfect sheep to a group of potential investors, the flesh-hungry flock attacks in one of the movie's most hilarious (and gory) sequences. 

Angus is turned into a giant weresheep, kept at bay only by one of the family's sheepdogs. Eventually, one  of his scientists uses genetically engineered amniotic fluid to cure everyone and Henry decides to use only organic farming  methods from then on. The virus (or whatever) is contained and everyone lives happily ever after. That is of course, until the very end where the dog is shown bleating like a sheep. Baaaad dog! (Sorry, couldn't help myself).

Preposterous; hilarious and gory as all get out (thanks to special effects by Peter Jackson's WETA Workshop), Black Sheep is probably one of the most underrated and under-seen horror comedies ever made. It is not to be confused with the dreadfully unfunny 1996 Chris Farley/David Spade movie of the same name.

You gotta a love a movie that uses the tagline "The Violence of the Lambs." If you've never seen Black Sheep, I highly recommend it.

More, anon.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Grim Night

One last zombie break before Halloween, yes? It'll be worth it, I promise.

Writer/Director Bryan Bertino (The Strangers - a movie I've actually grown to like more than my initial review might suggest) is back as the producer of Grim Night. From what little I have found online, Grim Night supposes a world in which one night a year, creatures called "Grims" arrive and kill hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. It's not clear whether these beings are supernatural or extraterrestrial from the super-creepy trailer, though the spec trailer was good enough for Universal to buy the rights to the movie, which looks like nothing we've ever seen.

Bertino's 2008 film The Strangers is about a couple (Scott Speedman and Liv Tyler) who are randomly targeted and terrorized by a trio of psychotics. While I first found the movie a bit derivative, subsequent viewings have left me decidedly unnerved by the randomness of it all. Of course, the cold and emotionless attitudes of its masked killers (Gemma Ward, Kip Weeks and Laura Margolis) only adds to the terror. 

Yikes! Is Tamara home?*

More, anon.

*Did anyone else notice the reference to The Strangers in this week's Halloween episode of "Psych?"

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Zombie Ink

Long time readers know that Uncle P has some (and wants more) ink. Tattoos truly are addictive. I have three, currently; one on each calf and another on my hip. All are in black ink, though one has a spot of color. I want a full color one, though. I'm thinking on my inner forearm, next. I just need to decide what I want. For most folks, tattoos are deeply personal. Mine all have symbols which reflect my personal philosophy. But I'm thinking my next one will be something fun... maybe even a zombie tatt. Of course, I would never get a full body tattoo, like Rick "Zombie Boy" Genest (above), currently the model for designer Thierry Mugler. Rick can also be seen in Lady Gaga's "Born This Way" video and in the DermaBlend commercial embedded at the end of this post.

Still, I'm not sure what kind of zombie ink I should get. Take a look at some of the examples I've found and let me know what you think. You know I love your feedback.

Now this is a rather gruesome, if realistically rendered tattoo. Still, I'm not sure it's right for me.

This one's a little more cartoony, don't you think? Plus, I don't really see myself wearing the dog collar.

Another cartoony zombie tatt. Is she eating her own hand? I don't get it.

Here's version of the poster from Lucio Fulci's Zombie. I don't know that I'd want a wormy eye permanently inked on my body.

While Elvis was hella hot in his '69 Comeback Special, I don't think a zombie version of him is something I'd want on my skin...

Hello No!

Goodbye, Norma Jean.

Um... no.

Interesting, but still not quite what I'm looking for.

Whatever I decide upon, it's good to know that DermaBlend has me covered (literally):

More, anon.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Fast Zombies

In 2002, the director of Shallow Grave; Trainspotting and The Beach gave us his own take on the genre with his terrifying film 28 Days Later. Doe-eyed beauty Cillian Murphy got his big break in the story of a virus gone wild in Great Britain. When animal rights activists break into a lab and release the test monkeys from their cages, they unwittingly unleash the "Rage" virus, a bio-engineered disease with an instant infection rate.

28 days later, Jim (Murphy) a bicycle messenger injured in a crash, awakes from a coma in an abandoned hospital. Confused and scared, he makes his way onto the deserted streets of London where he is soon set upon by a group of raving maniacs. He is rescued by Selena (Naomie Harris) and Mark (Noah Huntley) who hide him in the Underground and explain the situation, telling him they've heard reports of infection in Paris and New York. The next day they make their way to Jim's parents' house, only to find that they've committed suicide to avoid becoming infected. That night, drawn by a candle in the window, a group of the Infected (the word 'zombie' is never used) attack and Mark is killed. Selena and Jim soon find Frank (Brendan Gleeson) and his daughter Hannah (Megan Burns) holed up in a tower of flats with dwindling supplies. They head to Manchester, drawn by a pre-recorded radio message that promises a cure to infection. Frank ends up infected when blood from a body drops into his eye and is killed by a group of soldiers just as he is about to rage. The soldiers take Jim, Selena and Hannah to their "headquarters" in a deserted mansion, where they discover the whole thing was a ruse to lure women with whom the soldiers intend to repopulate Great Britain. One soldier, Sergeant Farell (Colin McQuarrie) theorizes that the infection is not global and that the British Isles have been quarantined by the rest of the world. As the evil Major West (Christopher Eccleston) prepares Selena and Hannah for rape, he has Farrell and Jim taken out to be executed. Jim escapes and releases an infected soldier named Mailer, whom West had chained in the garden. As Mailer wreaks havoc on the soldiers, Jim rescues Selena and Hannah, but is shot by West who was hiding in the back of their car. Selena backs the cab up to the door and Mailer drags West out through the rear-window. 28 days later, Jim awakes in a cottage, having been saved by Selena. She leads him outside where she and Hannah have created a cloth sign that reads "Hello," just as a a Finnish jet flies over head.

In 2007, director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo (Intacto) made the Boyle-produced sequel, 28 Weeks Later. Starring Robert Carlysle (The Full Monty; "Once Upon a Time") and Rose Byrne. It featured an unrelenting opening sequence in which Carlysle and his wife find themselves under attack by the Infected while hiding out in a remote farmhouse. 

American forces have taken over and are attempting to rebuild British society. Carlysle is eventually reunited with his children, but his wife is a carrier who reinfects the isolated population of survivors in the security zone known as  "District One." Byrne ("Damages"); Jeremy Renner (The Hurt Locker and the upcoming MI4: Ghost Protocol); Harold Perrineau ("Lost") and Idris Elba ("The Wire") are American soldiers trying to keep it together and keep the infection contained. 

Darker and even more grim than the original (if that's possible), 28 Weeks Later is one of those rare sequels that is actually as good as the original. 

Boyle insists the franchise (28 Months Later has been announced for a 2013 release) is not about zombies, though it follows the classic structure of a modern zombie film. The movies' fast-moving ghouls helped inspire Zach Snyder's 2004 version of Dawn of the Dead (much to George Romero's consternation).

And here's a (poor quality - sorry) German-dubbed version of the opening sequence from 28 Weeks...

Both films are excellent and certainly worth every zombie fan's attention. 

More, anon.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Zombie in a Penguin Suit and Bloodletting

So I'll get to my abbreviated recap of last night's "The Walking Dead" in a bit. I want to talk about a couple of other things first, the least of which is the rather brilliant short film, Zombie in a Penguin Suit. Director Chris Russell's short film is not quite what you might think. 

Posted on YouTube on October 13th, it's already had over 96,000 views and deservedly so. I first saw it today on BoingBoing.

With a title like Zombie in a Penguin Suit, one might expect a comedy. And it starts out amusingly enough. But then it becomes something else. It gets a bit creepy and then... well, it gets a little sad. And you somehow come to identify with the title character. I know that sounds weird, but really, you do. In just under seven and a half minutes, Russell manages to create a sympathetic zombie in a film that is amusing, creepy, gory and touching, all at once. I can't wait to see what he does with a full-length feature. Take a look for yourselves:

There are plenty of short zombie films on YouTube. Some of them are okay. Most of them are downright awful. I doubt you'll find one as good as Zombie in a Penguin Suit.

As for last night's "Walking Dead:"

The episode opened with a flashback to the day Rick was shot, with Lori commiserating with another mom about the fight she had with Rick, admitting she was the one who was at fault. Shane arrives to tell her Rick has been shot and she has to break the news to young Carl. Cut to the present where Rick is racing through a field with Carl clutched to his chest, followed by Shane and the man who shot him, Otis (Pruitt Taylor Vince). Otis tells Rick to keep going and ask for Herchel. Rick arrives at the Greene farm where Herchel (Scott Wilson) takes them in and immediately begins to work on Carl's wounds. Finding that Rick is the same blood type, Herchel insists Rick stick around for a transfusion. 

Meanwhile, Lori; Andrea; Glenn; Daryl and Carol continue their search for Sophia. When Andrea is attacked by a walker, she is suddenly saved by the horseback riding Maggie Greene (Lauren Cohan), who takes Lori back to the farm and instructs the others on how to get there. Back on the highway, a blood-poisoned  T-Dog tries to convince Dale to abandon the others, after a search among the abandoned cars reveals no antibiotics. The group arrives back at the highway and Daryl reveals his brother's stash of drugs, including a painkiller and a powerful antibiotic ("Merle got the clap now and then"). This is the second time Daryl has saved the life of the man who may have cost Merle's life, proving Daryk may not be the redneck creep we thought he might be.

Back at the farm, Herchel has only managed to retrieve one of the six bullet fragments in Carl's belly, but he needs a respirator and other equipment to perform the rest of the surgery. Shane and Otis volunteer to go to the FEMA station set up at the local high school to retrieve what Herchel needs, as the group on the highway debate abandoning Sophia to go to the Greene farm. At the farm Lori discovers that Herchel is a veterinarian while Shane and Otis find themselves trapped inside the school by a horde of walkers, separated by a gate held by a single flimsy pin.  Yikes!

More, anon.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

TV Review: "Once Upon a Time"

Let's take another zombie break, shall we? That's the beautiful and talented Lana Parilla as the Evil Queen in ABC's newest series "Once Upon a Time." Parilla's big break came on "Spin City." Since then she's appeared on the failed "Boomtown;" the failed "Swingtown" and the failed "Miami Medical." Sadly, it looks like she's landed another turkey with "Once Upon a Time."

A sequel of sorts to the familiar stories we all grew up with, "Once..." starts with Prince Charming (Josh Dallas) rescuing Snow White (Ginnifer Goodwin). On their wedding day, the Evil Queen promises to put a curse on all the fairy-tale characters, sending them "somewhere horrible" (the 'real' world). A pregnant Snow (Disney characters have sex?), unnerved by the prediction, seeks out the imprisoned Rumpelstiltskin (Robert Carlyle) for advice. He tells her that the daughter she is carrying will save them all on her 28th birthday.

Meanwhile, in modern Boston, Emma Swan ("House" alum Jennifer Morrison) appears to be on a blind date with a handsome rogue. Turns out she's really a bonds person, taking down a creep who skipped out on bail. She arrives home to celebrate her birthday alone with a cupcake when her doorbell rings. There she finds young Henry (Jared Gilmore), a 10 year-old who claims to be the son she gave up for adoption. Begging her to come home with him, Henry explains that Emma holds the key to saving him and everyone else in Storybrooke, Maine from the curse. He says his adoptive mother, the town's mayor (Parilla) doesn't really love him and he knows why. After dropping Henry home, a wolf in the road leads to an accident which keeps Emma in town and after some poking around, she decides to stay for a week at Granny's Bed and Breakfast. There she runs into Mr. Gold (Carlyle) who, Granny explains, owns the town.

Jumping back and forth between the two worlds, "Once Upon a Time" does it's best to create a cohesive story. And because Disney owns ABC, the show uses the Disney character names (Doc; Sleepy; Grumpy; Jimminy Cricket, etc.) with abandon. But try as they may, the writers ("Lost" and Tron: Legacy writers Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis) just don't cut it. While the fairy-tale land is gorgeously rendered in terrific CGI with beautiful and elaborate costumes, the whole thing is just too damned silly to be taken seriously. It might have worked if they had taken the characters and set them in the modern world as an allegory, but making them the actual fairy tale characters trapped in the 'real' world, is just ridiculous. 

And before you say "Enchanted" (a movie I loved) to me, I have to say that there is not a hint of comic irony to "Once Upon a Time." We're meant to view this nonsense as a serious dramatic take on the genre. I'm hoping that NBC's upcoming competing fairy-tale series "Grimm" does a better job of it, though I'm dubious.

I'll probably watch "Once Upon a Time" a few more times before I give up on it entirely, but I don't anticipate the show making it past it's first season.

The real losers here are the talented cast, forced to take part in the most ridiculous series in recent memory. while retaining straight faces. *(One Star Out of Four).

And here's the trailer for NBC's competing series, "Grimm"

At least they have the good taste to use a Eurythimics song...

More, anon.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Rock, Rock, Rock, Rock 'n Roll Zombies

1985 was a banner year for zombie movies and Dan O'Bannon's The Return of the Living Dead was exceptional for several reasons, the least of which was the introduction of zombies' hankering for braaaaiiiiinnss!

The late O'Bannon (the cousin of a college friend of Uncle P's) is probably best known as the screenwriter of the original Alien. His first zombie movie was a delightfully weird little movie called Dead and Buried, which I'll be talking about later. For his directorial debut, he teamed up with Night of the Living Dead's producer John A. Russo to update and elaborate on the mythos created by Romero ad Russo in 1968.

In a military warehouse in Kentucky, Frank (Poltergeist villain James Karen), the foreman shows a new employee, Freddy (Thom Mathews) a barrel which contains a corpse and a gas that the foreman claims inspired the events in Night... When Freddy accidentally opens the barrel, reanimating the corpse inside. With the help of their boss Burt, (Clu Gulager) they subdue the zombie and take its remains to a local cemetery for cremation. Unfortunately, the soot and smoke from the crematory creates a toxic rain which settles in the graveyard, creating hundreds of brain-hungry zombies. Also in the cemetery are a group of punks (Freddy's girlfriend among them) looking for a cool place to party. The rain forces them to flee, pursued by the zombies. of course, Freddy and Frank begin to get sick from exposure to the gas and soon realize that they are dead and also hungry for brains. All the mayhem results in a small military strike, taking out 20 blocks of Louisville with nukes. Of course, the resulting rain leads to the obligatory sequel, also starring Karen and Matthews as different characters who suffer similar fates. Return of the Living Dead also stars 80's 'Scream Queen' Linnea Quigley as Trash and features a soundtrack with songs from The Cramps; The Flesh Eaters; The Damned; Jet Black Berries and SSQ

It also introduced the infamous "Tarman" zombie (on your left) and gave an explanation for why the zombies craved brains - being dead hurts and eating brains relieved the pain.

Director/Screenwriter O'Bannon went on to write the screenplays for director Tobe Hooper's  film Lifeforce (about vampires from outer space) and his remake of Invaders from Mars; Total Recall and Screamers.

The Return of the Living Dead was both a critical (89% on RottenTomatoes) and modest box office success, earning over $14M domestically on a budget of of $4M. It spawned four sequels, including 2005's Return of the Living Dead: Necropolis and Return of the Living Dead: Rave to the Grave. None of the sequels had nearly the success of the original, each growing sillier and sillier. If you've never seen it, The Return of the Living Dead is probably best viewed with friends at 4:20 (wink-wink, nudge, nudge).

I have no idea what the hell Peter Coyote is doing in these movies...

More, anon.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Lovecraftian Zombies

The stories of H.P. Lovecraft, creator of the Cthulhu Mythos (see Uncle P's header), have been adapted into many films over the years, but probably none so infamously as "Herbert West: Reanimator." Released in 1985, at the height if the physical effects horror movie craze, Re-Animator was directed by Stuart Gordon and starred genre legend Jeffrey Combs as West.

After being ejected from Zurich University for killing and then re-animating a professor, Herbert West finds himself at Miskatonic  University (a Lovecraft staple), where he continues his experiments in a secret basement lab. He immediately clashes with professor Carl Hill (David Gale), whom West claims stole his research on brain-death. West re-animates a dead cat and recruits his roommate Dan (Bruce Abbott), whose girlfriend Megan (Barbara Crampton) has her own reservations about West.

Upon Hill's advice, the Dean (Megan's father) bans West and Dan from the school. But they sneak into the school's morgue and revive a corpse which goes on a rampage and kills the Dean. West re-animates the Dean, but Hill catches them and traps the Dean in a padded room. An enraged West decapitates Hill with a shovel and then injects Hill's body and head with his his neon green fluid. Hill and his decapitated head trap Megan in a lab and his body uses his head to... well, let's just say this scene is what prompted the studio to release the film without an MPAA rating, while redefining the term 'giving head.' West and Dan arrive in time to save Megan, though Dean Halsey and the other re-animated corpses escape and Megan is eventually killed. Dan uses West's formula on Megan and the movie ends with Megan returning as a violent zombie. The following  trailer may be NSFW:

Re-Animator was followed by  two sequels. Bride of Re-Animator and Beyond Re-Animator were not nearly as successful as the original, but each has it's charms.

Owing a great debt to Mary Shelly, the Re-Animator series is an interesting take on the zombie sub-genre and while the sequels are hardly brilliant, the original film stands as both a fascinating and repulsive take on the idea of the dead coming back to life with disastrous results, and the hubris of a scientist who delves into things best left unexamined.

More, anon.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Corporate Zombies

While certainly one of the most enduring of recent zombie franchises, I can't actually recommend the Resident Evil movies as "good." Based on the 1996 Capcon video game, director Paul W.S. Anderson's franchise starts in an underground facility known as The Hive, run by the evil Umbrella Corporation, which is working on creating bio-weapons for a corrupt government. The facility is overseen by a super-computer known as The Red Queen.* When a corporate thief breaks open a viral vial, he turns the facility's workers into a horde of hungry zombies and the corporation unleashes Alice* (Milla Jovovich -- who would eventually become Anderson's wife) to fight the monsters and the computer. Future "Lost" cast member Michelle Ridriguez and future "Ugly Betty" hottie Eric Mabius are along for the ride. The Hive is located deep beneath the fictional "Raccoon City." Really? Was "Beaverton" taken? Or how about "C*ntsville?" Too obvious? Honestly. I can't imagine a more ridiculous name for a city.

Anyway, the genetically superior Alice beats the odds and escapes the zombie horde, though nominal love interest Mabius is captured and mutated for the sequel, 2004's Resident Evil: Apocalypse. Oded Fehr (The Mummy) and Thomas Kretschmann (King Kong) co-star.

Alice, now super-powered by the T-virus, is sent back to rescue the daughter of the scientist who created the virus, a formerly crippled child who is infected similarly to Alice. Alice is forced to battle the mutated Nemesis and wins, though Raccoon City is destroyed by a nuclear air-strike. Not to worry, because Alice returns in Resident Evil: Extinction, in which she joins a caravan of survivors on their way to Las Vegas. Alice not only has super-strength, but psionic abilities, which she uses to stop an attack of zombie-crows and ingratiate herself among the survivors, led by "Heroes" alum, Ali Larter. Once they reach Vegas, Alice discovers another Umbrella facility, where hundreds of her clones lie waiting to be activated.  

Extinction is actually the last Resident Evil  movie Uncle P has bothered to see.  I suppose I'll get around to seeing last year's Resident Evil: Afterlife 3D when it shows up on basic cable (any day now) and next year's Resident Evil: Retribution a few months later.

While the Resident Evil movies obviously have many fans (thus the mounting sequels), I find them to be rather ridiculous action movies that use the sub-genre as a vehicle to feature Jovovich in increasingly ridiculous action sequences. I admit to loving the former model as Leeloo in Luc Besson's over-the-top Science Fiction film The Fifth Element, I refuse to say she's an actually good actress. And I don't imagine her appearance in the upcoming 3D version of The Three Musketeers will do anything to change that opinion. 2012 will see her reprise the role of Alice once more in Resident Evil: Retribution.

Much like junk food, the Resident Evil movies are sort of tasty going down but are empty calories when all is said and down. Stick with Romero and Russo for truly satisfying  Zombie fare. 

*I have no idea why they would sully Lewis Carroll's amazing nonsense novels in this way.

More, anon.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Dead: Part 3

In the fall of 1984, my sister and I attended our one and only fan convention, the Fangoria Horror Convention in NYC. It's there that we met horror icons Tom Savini and the very sweet Michael Berryman. And it is also where we saw a sneak preview of George A. Romero's third entry in his "...of the Dead" series, Day of the Dead. We were freaking out over what we saw and what promised to be the best "dead" movie, yet.

The movie was released the following summer and we went, anticipating nothing less than an amazing horror experience. We got... well, we got a decent zombie movie that, truth be told, could have been better.

In an underground military facility, a group of soldiers and scientists try to find a cure for the zombie apocalypse which has taken out most of the world's population. There's Sarah (Lori Cordille); John (Terry Alexander); Bill (Jariath Conroy) and Miguel (Anthony Dileo, Jr); Captain Rhodes (Joe Pilato) and Dr. Logan (Richard Liberty). Rhodes and his team have been rounding up zombies for Logan's experiments, which are kept in pens far from the group's living quarters. Logan, known as "Dr. Frankenstein" by Rhodes and his team, is ostensibly working on a cure, but is actually working on domestication of the zombies. His 'star pupil,' a former soldier Logan has named 'Bub' (Howard Sherman) can speak; remembers how to use a phone and even salutes a C.O. 

You have to love the inclusion of Stephen King's "Salem's Lot" in that scene. I'm sure he did.

While gathering more 'specimens' for Logan's experiment, one of the zombies breaks free and bites both Private Miller and Miguel, causing Rhodes to call an official halt to Logan's experiments. Sarah amputates Miguel's bitten arm and cauterizes the wound in an effort to prevent him from becoming a zombie. While searching for painkillers for Miguel, Sarah and Bill discover Logan's private recordings along with the head of the recently bitten Pvt. Miller. Sure that both Logan and Rhodes have gone insane, they begin to plot their escape. Rhodes discovers their plan and sends them to the zombie pen. Eventually, all hell breaks lose and the facility is attacked by zombies from both above and below. Bub gets a hold of a pistol and shoots Rhodes in the back and as the zombies tear Rhodes in half and make off with his legs, he croaks "Choke on em!" as Bub salutes (language and gore may be NSFW):

After fighting their way through hundreds of zombies, Sarah, Bill and John make their escape in the helicopter. We next find them on a beach of a secluded island where John and Bill fish in the surf as Sarah crosses off another day on a calendar.

From those clips, one might think Day of the Dead is an exciting and relentless thriller but in reality, it's a talky treatise on morality, interspersed with scenes of zombie mayhem. Romero had begun to take himself, and his genre, too seriously for his own good. While better than the three "Dead" films he would make later, Day... is a rather disappointing entry in the series. Muddled by philosophical questions which one might think would add gravitas to the concept, Romero's dialog heavy script actually gets bogged down over-serious concepts and Act II simply drags by as the characters debate, argue and complain about their situation. It doesn't help that most of the movie is confined to a single location. A mere six years after his brilliant Dawn of the Dead, Romero gets too caught up with social commentary, forgetting what made the first two movies so compelling - the smart balance between horror and commentary.

While certainly a worthy entry in the series, Day of the Dead lacks both the terror and the intelligence that makes his first two entries so horrifying. And even though both Night and Dawn are both primarily set in a single location, the claustrophobic underground facility in Day comes off as rather stagnant. And while that may well be what Romero was going for, it just doesn't work as well as it does in the first two films. And I'm not sure why. If you have any insight, I'd be glad to hear it. Still, Day of the Dead is certainly worth seeing, especially for the sub-genre's fans. 

More, anon.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Let Them Eat... Brains?

By now, regular readers know that Uncle P's sister has a side business as a custom cake baker. She makes specialized cakes customized for any event. Among my favorites cakes she's done are a pirate ship with pretzel railings and a camping cake with a pretzel campfire. She's also made gorgeous birthday and wedding cakes, though never a zombie cake. Well, except the one we made together when I was down to visit her in Florida this past April. But more of that, anon.

As if you haven't already guessed from the title and the picture on the right, tonight's post is all about Zombie Cakes and Zombie-themed food.

Of course, Uncle P is hardly surprised by the popularity of these gruesome comestibles. Zombies have never been as popular as they are now. There are Zombie Walks, Zombie Pub Crawls and I'm told there's even a very popular zombie TV series on cable. And what better way to celebrate than with zombie-influenced foods?

This is a watermelon, carved into a brain. Yum!

Here's a raspberry-filled cupcake topped with a candy brain. I may actually attempt this for a Halloween-themed dinner-party with friends next weekend.

I don't know if this jerky is supposed to be made from or intended for Zombies.

Most zombies I know prefer their food raw. I can't see this as a popular product among the living dead...

Here's a brain-shaped cake with a cleaver in it. I suppose that's a good way to divide the tasty treat evenly, though I doubt zombies are particular about portion size.

I'm not sure if this zombie cake is about to perform surgery or oral sex. 

Is this a zombie cake, an alien cake or a Nightmare Before Christmas cake? I don't get it...

Here's another zombie wedding cake. I hope the bride and groom are actually more attractive than this.

Almost finally, here's an adorable (?) Hello Kitty zombie cake. Oh, those wacky Japanese...

Uncle P once dreamed of a job as a special effects make-up artist. That was way back in the 80's when there were tons of jobs to be had with literally hundreds of FX studios. Now, I can design costumes and sets on paper that will make you lose your mind. But my sculpting skills are rather lacking, which is what one needed to make it in the industry, back then. Of course, CGI just about ended the industry, and while there are still a handful of studios producing physical effects, the demand has just about bottomed out. Why do I mention this? Just so you can wrap your heads around how bad a sculptor I am, before you take a look at the zombie cake Uncle P and his sister made last April. Sis baked the cake and provided the icing, fondant and modeling chocolate. Uncle P actually sculpted the figures (more like mangled). It didn't matter, though. Sis and I literally laughed ourselves silly while putting this hot mess together. And now I share it with you, in the hopes you won't think less of me...

Yikes! No more cakes for me!

More, anon,

Monday, October 17, 2011

Funny Strange or Funny Ha-Ha?

That's not tiger's blood.

While not included in the list of sites I visit regularly, I do love the occasional trip to, the Photoshop site that offers tips and provides glimpses into what the best Photoshop users have to offer. They often sponsor hilarious contests and many of the photos in tonight's post are from those contests.

As my buddy Pax Romano recently lamented, zombies are literally everywhere these days. Pax thinks the proliferation of zombies lessens their impact as a horror sub-genre. I
 would politely like to disagree. Yes, there is tons of silly zombie stuff out there but there are still plenty of zombie-related things that are effectively terrifying. Just take a look at last night's season premiere of "The Walking Dead." I haven't been so anxious since Romero's original Dawn of the Dead as I was during the "herd" scene. But that doesn't mean we can't have fun with zombies. And that's what tonight's post is all about. Fun. And what could be more fun than celebs as zombies? Many of the images presented below are hilarious. Some are disturbing. And even more are both. I'll leave it up to you to decide:

Can zombies be sexy?

Brad is currently shooting the film adaptation of Max Brooks' novel World War Z. Personally, I'm confused by this, as Brook's novel had no through-line to connect each chapter.

Brad's "Wife" seems well-suited to the genre, doesn't she?

Angelina must be zombified, taking care of all those kids, don't you think?

"No! Not Clay! he can't be ga...err, um... a zombie!"

Clay Aiken always seemed to be a zombie to me, even after he finally came out. Ick!

Gaga puts the 'gag' in Gaga

As much as I've come to love her, Lady Gaga will never be as cool as George Romero or Tom Savini.

Zombie Douchebag

I'm sorry, but even zombification can't make a douchebag like Eminem cool.

What Are You Waiting For?

She may not be a "Holla Back Girl" (whatever the f*ck that is), but Gwen Stephani makes for one Hella zombie.

Attend the Tale of a Miscast Actor

I understand Depp's appeal as an actor in some roles, but I don't get him as a sex symbol. Maybe this picture explains why.

Love Me

He's never looked better.

"I just wanna have lunch!"

Goldie is like 400 years old now, right?

"Melissa! Brains! Now!"

Oh, wait. Joan Rivers is still alive.

Or is she....?

No wonder Rose let him go...

His heart will go on?

Abandon Hope...

I imagine the ravages of the office will leave Mr. Obama looking very much like this once his terms are over.

You Know I'm No Good

Too soon?

 Even cartoon characters aren't immune to the Zombie Plague...

Brain patties, anyone?

He lives in a cemetery under the sea...

Mickey! Noooooooo!

The Scariest Place on Earth?

Oh, bother!

That's not honey!

This one's for D

Of course, there's always the celebrity zombie tattoo...

Okay. You may be asking what planted the seeds for this Celebrity Zombie post. Well, I'll tell you. The sweet, smart and very funny daughter of one Uncle P's dearest and oldest friends posted the following video on my facebook wall:

Does Caitlin know her Uncle P, or what?

Needs More Cowbell

More, anon.