Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Monday, December 26, 2011
Author Ty Schwamberger is lurching (or bolting, if that's your thing) from blog to blog, spreading the malignant word of his new zombie novella, The Fields. On his way to undead notoriety, he swung by the Print Is Dead virtual offices and had the following to say:
Ah, there’s nothing like a nice radioactive chemical spill, a once-in-a-lifetime lunar movement or another strange phenomenon to reanimate the decaying dead, making them dig out of their own graves and come looking for the living. Hell, who doesn’t like to tote around a double-barrel shotgun, while scrambling away from the oncoming hordes? Right. No? Oh, come on, you’re sitting there and reading this article about the undead on your computer and you don’t like our brain-munching brethrens? Blasphemy! Zombies are cool, man! Well, at least when safely housed inside the TV or printed as words in a book. Not so sure I’d use the word “cool” if they were knocking on my front door, asking if they could borrow my brains for a nice, midnight snack. Nope. Not one bite, err, bit.
When people think of zombie movies in particular, who’s the first person you think about? Danny DeVito? Mel Gibson? Marlon Brando? Uh, no. We think of George A. Romero, of course. But, there are a couple notable zombie films prior to 1968. Films such as White Zombie (1932) and Revenge of the Zombies (1943). These two films centered around the idea of digging up bodies are removing them their graves right after burial. Voodoo was then used to turn the dead into living, mindless slaves, obeying the biddings of their human master. A few years later came a small budget, black and white film titled Night of the Living Dead, written and directed by George A. Romero. NLD hit theaters and drive-ins in 1968.
The effects of Romero's ground-breaking treatment of the theme are of course still seen today. The 1970s and 1980s brought films such as: Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things (1972), Garden of the Dead (1972), Dawn of the Dead (1978), Dead and Buried (1981), The Evil Dead (1982), Zombie Island Massacre (1984), Day of the Dead (1985), The Return of the Living Dead (1985), Night of the Creeps (1986), Evil Dead II (1987), The Dead Next Door (1988). Ah, the good ol’ days.
Then the 1990s came and, well, the movies sucked. Then the 2000s – zombie subgenre has really taken off, with such films as: I Am Legend (2007), Dawn of the Dead (2004), Shaun of the Dead (2004), 28 Days Later (2007), Zombieland (2009) and who could forget Zombie Strippers (2008)!
Since we’ve established we enjoy watching or reading about zombies, just not actually having to deal with them in “real life”, let’s talk a little about where zombies came from. Came from, you ask? Yes. The origins. The beginning. Way back in the day.
What about the history of zombie books, you ask? Well, fine. I guess I can spare a few more minutes and tell you about that too. Tales of undead fun more or less started back in 1921 with Herbert West: Re-animator by H.P. Lovecraft. There were some zombie books between Lovecraft in 1921 and the 2000s, but the subgenre really took off in 2003 with The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks and The Rising by Brian Keene. Other notable authors that have ventured into the graveyard after midnight, include: Stephen King, David Dunwoody, J.L. Bourne, Kim Paffenroth, Gary Braunbeck, Joe McKinney, Jonathan Maberry, along with several other great folks.
Now it’s time for me to enter into the fray… I’m pleased to announce that The Zombie Feed Press, an imprint of Apex Publications is releasing my zombie novella, The Fields. Below is a brief synopsis about the book.
Billy Fletcher learned to farm the family’s tobacco fields – and beat slaves – by the hands of his father. Now, his father is dead, the slaves have long since been freed, and the once-lush fields are dying. Salvation by the name of Abraham knocks on the farmhouse door, bringing wild ideas. He can help Billy save the plantation and return the fields to their former glory…by raising his father’s slaves from the dead.
Can the resurrected slaves breathe life back into the Fletcher farm? Having brought the slaves back from graves that his father sent them to, can Billy be the kind master his father wasn’t? Is keeping the farm worth denying the men the freedom they earned with death?
Billy’s conscience holds the key to those mysteries, but not the biggest one: what does Abraham really want from the former slave owner’s son?
Welcome to The Fields.
New York Times bestselling author, Jonathan Maberry, wrote the introduction for the book. “[The Fields]…is part horror story in the classic sense – misdeeds from the past coming back to haunt the present. It’s part zombie story. It’s part adventure. And it’s part social satire in its darkest sense.”
I hope you’ve enjoyed the little history lesson given today. I’m also going to ask that you take a chance on The Fields. This is a very unique twist on the subgenre that we all love watching and reading. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed with my entrance into “the field”. If so, you can give me a shout, and I’ll come running to assist the next time a crazed zombie comes knocking at your door, while looking to feast upon your nice, fresh hot brains.
Ty Schwamberger is growing force within the horror genre. He is the author of a novel, multiple novellas, collections and editor on several anthologies. In addition, he’s had many short stories published online and in print. Two stories, ‘Cake Batter’ (released in 2010) and ‘House Call’ (currently in pre-production in 2011), have been optioned for film adaptation.
You can learn more about Ty at: http://tyschwamberger.com.
Thursday, December 15, 2011
Whether you're in your garden, at the farmers market, or holed up in the local mall fending off a ravenous zombie hoard, this shirt is the best way to give zombies a piece of your mind.
via Patrick Parker
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Not like there's anything wrong with CGI, but all that glorious old school stop motion in Coraline is, well, glorious. Coming soon from the folks behind that gloriousness, ParaNorman is apparently about horror geek kid who can talk to dead people and generally finds out all his favorite movies are true, and has to fight a curse afflicting his home town and none of the grownups believe him.
And I will totally be there to watch it, anyway.
Saturday, December 3, 2011
Night of the Living Dead Defense is somewhere in the middle: not the greatest tower defense game you ever played, not even the greatest one with zombies in it, most likely. In fact, it's kind of a big ripoff of GRave Defense. And like most spinoffs lately labeled with the name of a classic Romero movie, it's got jack squat to do with Night of the Living Dead.
But hell, it's free instead of two bucks, just for today, and provides yet another way to spend another hour of your life shooting zombies. And you can't buy that kind of quality time, really.
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
"From the 1950s onwards girls were encouraged to hone their zombie slaughtering skills in preparation for the inevitable apocalypse. Though young ladies dispose of the undead with ease today, toys such as Mattel’s 1962 ‘Zombie Attack Barbie’ were instrumental in helping to habituate girls to a new social norm where zombie disposal would become a very necessary life skill..."
If you're familiar with the often Catholic-hating and apocalyptic works of fundamentalist Christian cartoonist, Jack Chick, the thought of a zombie-themed comic should fill you with some kind of sick joy. And it does not disappoint.
Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Friday, November 4, 2011
Thursday, November 3, 2011
Thursday, October 27, 2011
Pregnant Zombie Costumes to make sure you'll get perma-banned from your church's Trunk-or-Treat
Ray Villafane carves giant pumpkins into zombies at the New York Botanical Gardens. (You know Villafane, he's the mad fiend behind the legendary, viral Predator Jack-o-Lantern.)
Zombie mashup/video by Eclectic Method.
Did you know that cauliflower is a zombie-attractant due to its visual similarity to brains? It's true! This I know, for the .gov website tells me so.
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
The modern American zombie first shuffled onto the scene in 1968, in George A. Romero’s landmark horror classic, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. Over forty years later, the walking dead are everywhere, and we need you to help us keep tabs on this ever-growing pustulent population.
In celebration of the release of the fourth novel from PRINT IS DEAD, Martin Mundt’s REANIMATED AMERICANS, we’re pleased to announce THE ZOMBIE CENSUS.
Are you a zombieholic? A cadaveriffic cadet? An undead aficionado? Have you always wanted to see yourself through milky uncomprehending eyes? Or are you just going as a zombie for Halloween? If you said “Yes” to any of these questions, you should know that speaking responses aloud to internet questionnaires is actually unnecessary! And also that this contest is for you… We want to count you among the living dead!
It’s simple: email us a photo of yourself as a zombie, DMV/photo ID style, just like the pics on this page. You can use make-up or Photoshop or both (but please, none of those silly zombie apps—show some creativity).
All entries will be posted here, and the Grand Prize winner—chosen by none other than the legendary John Skipp (Books of the Dead 1 and 2, Zombies, Mondo Zombie, and the upcoming Bizarro Zombie Musical, ROSE, among a million other awesome things)—will appear in some form on the cover of REANIMATED AMERICANS, to be released December 20, 2011.
Third Place: a signed copy of REANIMATED AMERICANS by Martin Mundt.
Second Place: signed copies of all four current PRINT IS DEAD novels: PRAY TO STAY DEAD by Mason James Cole, WORLD IN RED by John Sebastian Gorumba, SCAVENGERS by Nate Southard, and REANIMATED AMERICANS.
Grand Prize: In addition to an appearance on the cover of REANIMATED AMERICANS, you receive all four signed books and a special zombie surprise pack.
One photo per person, so send us your best (worst) mug. Photos should be in jpg format and should be at least 1200x1800 pixels with a maximum file size of 5mb. We’re looking for simple zombie mug shots against a blank or single-color background—nothing pornographic. No feasting zombies. No photos of actual dead bodies (because at least one of you was thinking about doing that). Email photos to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Include your name (and the name of the photographer if credit is desired) in the body of the email. Submission implies acceptance of these terms: The winning photo and two runners-up become exclusive intellectual property of Creeping Hemlock Productions, LLC. In the case of non-winning/non-placing submissions, Creeping Hemlock Productions, LLC is granted the right so use images for promotional purposes only and all other rights (e.g. reproduction and sale) remain with the author.
Contest ends November 15, 2011.
Need a reminder as we shamble closer to the date? Like THE ZOMBIE CENSUS on Facebook at facebook.com/zombiecensus!
About REANIMATED AMERICANS
Jett Ahrens has just joined the Zombie Division of the Census Bureau, hoping for a dull, uncomplicated job counting the country’s newest citizens—the Living Dead. Y’know: Zombies, Rotters, Grave Potatoes, but don’t call them any of those names. They’re Reanimated Americans, and they aren’t anything like their cinematic counterparts—they don’t eat your flesh or want your brains. They just… stand around. Loitering. Stinking up the place.
Easy enough, yeah, but one of Jett’s partners might be a little nuts, and then there’s the serial re-killer going around town and setting walking dead folks on fire. Not to mention the Red Death Gang transforming the undead into works of art. Or the pair of psychotic cops tracking the serial re-killer and wreaking havoc of their own.
Or the nasty secret Jett keeps in a rental storage unit…
A biting satire about how civilization might cope with its most popular boogieman, Reanimated Americans by Martin Mundt will send a chill down the spines of zombie-lovers and bureaucracy-fearers everywhere.
Praise For REANIMATED AMERICANS and Martin Mundt
“With REANIMATED AMERICANS, author Martin Mundt has created a malignant masterpiece. Like a literary mad scientist armed with diabolical narrative skill and a mordant sense of humor, Mundt manages to mash-up the zombie mythos with both mayhem and Swiftian satire. REANIMATED AMERICANS is a must-read for undead-heads of all persuasions, slithering from laugh-out-loud sequences to gut-wrenching gore with the greatest of ease. Highly recommended!”
- Jay Bonansinga, National Bestselling author of PERFECT VICTIM, PINKERTON’S WAR, and co-author of THE WALKING DEAD: RISE OF THE GOVERNOR.
“If you are a fan of sardonic wordplay and the macabre; or dare I suggest, macabre sardonic wordplay ... then you, my dear X, must read Martin Mundt.”
-John Everson, author of SIREN and THE PUMPKIN MAN
“Martin Mundt writes like no one on earth, and mankind is much the better
for his efforts.”
-Bill Breedlove, author of HOW TO DIE WELL
“Martin Mundt is a nasty, warped, zero-termperature so-and-so who can't put two words together without first snickering, then slitting their throats. This guy is far too hip for his own good. No wonder reading him is such a pleasure.”
-Peter Straub, author of A DARK MATTER and THE TALISMAN (with Stephen King)
About PRINT IS DEAD
Creeping Hemlock Press was founded in New Orleans by the husband-and-wife creative duo RJ and Julia Sevin. As sometime writers and passionate readers, they found themselves frustrated with the scarcity of generous-paying, atmospheric short story anthologies. They took matters into their own hands in late 2004 when they began to accept submissions for their own anthology. Many months, one baby, two hurricanes, and one soggy home later, Corpse Blossoms was born to critical success and a nomination for the Horror Writers Association’s Bram Stoker award.
As their homeless wanderings carried them to Texas and back, the Sevins also produced an original limited-edition novella by Tom Piccirilli, Frayed, to terrific reviews and enthusiastic reader sentiment. The December 2007 release of Piccirilli's The Fever Kill brought them into an entire new league of publishers. Critically lauded and carried in bookstores nationwide, this popular title has sold far beyond expectations.
Not long after the release of The Fever Kill, the press released two zombie chapbooks – Thin Them Out (a collaboration between the Sevins and zombie lit master Kim Paffenroth) and Flesh Is Fleeting… Art Is Forever! by Gary A. Braunbeck.
The chapbooks were unveiled to much acclaim at Zombie Fest, in the hallowed halls of the Monroeville Mall (the mall location used in George Romero’s classic, DAWN OF THE DEAD). Thin Them Out went on to be reprinted in J.J. Adams’s epic zombie anthology, The Living Dead II, and the Sevins found themselves surrounded by the living dead. The seeds for PRINT IS DEAD were planted…
Even before the disaster and reaction surrounding Katrina demonstrated its true meaning, charity was a pillar of Creeping Hemlock Press's philosophy and business model. The press dedicates 10% of earnings to various charities. Your purchase from Creeping Hemlock Press or any bookseller carrying the press’s titles will help to benefit those in need.
Praise for PRINT IS DEAD
“These guys know more about the undead than I do... and that's saying something, because I've been hanging out with zombies for as long as I can remember."
-George A. Romero
"PRINT IS DEAD is the terrifying new voice of zombie fiction. They're coming to get you..."
-Jonathan Maberry, New York Times bestselling author of PATIENT ZERO
"This is the best of modern zombie fiction. If you want the best, you need to read the stuff these guys are putting out at PRINT IS DEAD. It doesn't get any better than this."
-Joe McKinney, author of FLESH EATERS and DEAD CITY
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
It's on Sunday. I think there's some other zombie show on Sunday, too.
So zombies are popular with the kids these days so, welcome to THAT: PLUS ZOMBIES.
Is the answer to "Can you weaponize a zombie virus?" really "Surprisingly, yes?" No, of course not, what are we, kids? But who cares?
Anyway, Max Brooks and Jonathan Maberry and J.L. Bourne and Kim Paffenroth, among other zombie authors and pro geeks will be represented. And if we're all lucky, they'll trot out the Nostradamus guy from every other History channel show, who has the amazing superpower of being able to make any word in any language ever into "Hitler." Cannot wait.
Monday, October 17, 2011
Lucio Fulci's ZOMBIE has become my Halloween closer--for the past few years, I end every Halloween alone on the couch with a beer in my hand and some shark-fightin', eyeball-splinterin' Italian action on the TV.
ALBUQUERQUE Guild Cinema (Oct. 28 & 29)ATLANTA Plaza TheatreAUSTIN Alamo The Ritz (Oct. 24 & 31)AUSTIN Alamo S. Lamar (Oct. 30)BOSTON Coolidge Corner TheatreCHICAGO Music Box Theatre (also Oct. 28 & 29)CLEVELAND Capitol Theatre (Oct. 15)DALLAS Landmark Inwood TheatreDENVER Landmark EsquireDETROIT Landmark Main ArtHOUSTON Landmark River OaksJACKSONVILLE, FL 5 Points TheatreKANSAS CITY Tivoli CinemasLAS VEGAS Theatre 7 (Oct. 31)LAWRENCE, KS Liberty Hall (Oct. 21 only)LOS ANGELES New Beverly CinemaMESA, AZ The RoyaleMINNEAPOLIS Landmark Uptown (Nov. 4 & 5)NEW YORK CITY Landmark’s SunshineOTTAWA, ONTARIO Mayfair TheatrePHILADELPHIA Landmark RitzPITTSBURGH The Oaks TheaterPORTLAND, OR Hollywood TheatreSACRAMENTO Crest TheatreSAN ANTONIO Alamo WestlakesSAN DIEGO Landmark Ken CinemaSAN FRANCISCO Roxie Theater (Oct. 29 – 31)SEATTLE Landmark EgyptianST. LOUIS Hi-Pointe TheatreST. PETE BEACH, FL The Beach TheatreTORONTO The Revue Cinema (Oct. 22 & Oct. 31)TUCSON, AZ The Loft CinemaWASHINGTON, D.C. Landmark E Street CinemaWICHITA, KS Warren Old Town Theater (Oct. 24 & 25)WINCHESTER, VA Alamo Drafthouse WinchesterWINNIPEG, MANITOBA Park Theatre Café (Oct. 13)YELLOW SPRINGS, OH Little Art Theatre (Oct. 22)
Saturday, October 15, 2011
Last week was a good week for zombies here in Casa Zombi: we received DVD screeners of both THE DEAD and the first two episodes of THE WALKING DEAD, Season Two. We’ll cover THE DEAD shortly (see it, see it, see it), but today belongs to THE WALKNG DEAD.
I won’t waste your time: the season premiere of THE WALKING DEAD is the best episode of the series thus far.
This isn’t a great feat, granted, as the first season was hit and miss. It veered wildly from the source material—not a crime at all (the book is hit and miss, too), but it did so in an erratic and inconsistent way. Great moments from the book were jettisoned in favor of oddball diversions, and even Darabont himself didn’t bring his A-game to the pilot, which was as uneven as the season season ended up being. Even at its best (and there are some amazing moments throughout those six episodes), the first season's zombie shenanigans felt a little played out—mostly because zombies have reached a cultural saturation point. It’s getting harder and harder to get them right, make them fresh, and even when you do, you risk contempt-breeding familiarity.
But never mind all of that, because the season opener of THE WALKING DEAD gets just about everything right. Picking up soon after our heroes escaped the CDC –where no answers were given and a few more questions were raised-the premier episode finds our heroes working their cumbersome way down a highway choked with stalled and wrecked vehicles. I suspect that Frank Darabont secretly laments never having gotten to adapt Stephen King’s THE STAND, a work that he once again echoes here (the series premiere was peppered with King references). As they weave between stalled cars and trucks, the tension mounts and thickens—an effect that’s amplified by the simple omission of needless incidental music.
There’s no point in getting too deep into spoiler territory. You can imagine what happens next (herd, herd, herd!), and you’ll be at least partially right. The walking dead show up. The resulting sequence is classic zombie cinema, and our heroes are split up. This diversion takes several unexpected turns, and leads Rick and friends toward an encounter that will make fans of the book very happy. (No—I’m not talking about the business between Shane and Carl—I suspect we’ll get to that mid-season.)
As an FX hound from back in the glory days of FANGORIA, I have to sing the praises of KNB. Their work in George Romero’s LAND OF THE DEAD left much to be desired. There, they were trying in some cases to realize Bernie’s Wrightson’s production design, and the results (Big Daddy, The Butcher) were not always successful. This wasn’t a factor in the first season of THE WALKING DEAD, and with the first two episodes of season two, they have delivered, arguably, the greatest zombie makeup of all time. (Winnebago Zombie—you’ll know him when you see him—is a marvel. It’s the single greatest zombie make-up job since Optic Nerve worked magic in Tom Savini’s 1990 remake of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. Hell, it’s a strong contender for the title of Best Zombie Ever. Damned thing looks like an actual walking corpse, and that’s why you came to this party to begin with, right?)
The first episode is not without its problems. Characters do incredibly stupid things simply for the sake of ratcheting up the tension. This will be a problem for some viewers, but I was able to look past it simply because everything else was so damned good—and besides, idiotically splitting up is a time-honored horror trope. Other quibbles: inconsistent zombie rules--they're mostly slow, but some of them come damned close to running; others seem far too smart, even pausing in their actions, as if thoughtfully considering their best course of action; grinning zombie. Church zombies. (They're video-game-level silly looking, but the scene leads to a clever bit from avowed atheist Robert Kirkman, who penned this episode: Rick spends a few screen minutes talking to Jesus, asking Him for help. The next scene ends in blood, and Kirkman tells us by showing us: Ain't nobody listening.)
The second episode is not as breathlessly awesome as the first, but character development throughout both episodes is strong. Daryl shows his usefulness (in an homage to JAWS that is, in its own way, fairly brilliant), and the relationship between Dale and Andrea grows more complicated (it veers away from their relationship in the comic, but may be heading in that direction after all, and Darabont fav Jeffrey DeMunn continues on his way toward an Emmy.) Andrew Lincoln’s fake Southern accent hasn’t gotten any better, but at least the fake beard from the first season is nowhere to be seen.
The first episode ends on a jaw-dropping note, one that pushes the show even further away from Kirkman’s original narrative*, all the while echoing events that are taking place in the comic right now, as the series approaches issue #100, some eight years since Image released the first issue. The result is almost like (to use comic nerd vernacular) an Elseworlds/Earth 2 take on THE WALKING DEAD, and though the events in the television series continue to deviate from the events in the comic, season two –thus far— tonally feels more in line with the best moments from the comic than anything from season one.
Only time will tell where THE WALKING DEAD is going. With the recent drama surrounding Darabont being removed as showrunner (and the rumors that he will stay on as Executive Producer), it can easily go either way. However, if the first two episodes of this new season are any indicator, THE WALKING DEAD is on the right track.
*I was wrong.
Thursday, September 29, 2011
If you know anything about the "Mail Art" movement, are already some sort of practitioner of the form, etc., you'll know what to expect from "Mail of the Living Dead." If not...there are hundreds of pages of collage and drawing and painting, already, all anonymous, all just contributed by people just like you, because they thought it was neat.
People exactly like you, actually, this is a living, crowdsourced document. If you like what you see and have a free little while and an itch to make your own zombie art contribution, just comment at Marc Rossmiller's Google+ page, where he keeps a running account of contributions and links to creators' accounts on Google+. Or head over to the Mail of the Living Dead blog and contribute there, or email your contributions, or snail mail your mail art, old school, to:
c/o Mail of the Living Dead
1234 Sandusky Dr.
Iowa City, IA 52240
There is some really beautiful and sometimes funny art and writing, here, and it's well worth your time to look through, anyway.
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
"The map reveals two important spatial patterns. First, much of the world lacks any content mentioning "zombies" whatsoever. Second, and related, the highest concentrations of zombies in the Geoweb are located in the Anglophone world, especially in large. The results either provide a rough proxy for the amount of English-language content indexed over our planet, or offer an early warning into the geographies of the impending zombie apocalypse."
I like to think it proves people who publish zombie books are trying way too hard in already-oversaturated markets. Come on, look at all that black space in South America! Don't you know anybody who can read and write Portuguese?
(Well, either that or: my god, the whole "First World" is clearly terrified that the rest of the world is going to show up on its doorstep and tear it to bits.)
Monday, September 26, 2011
Multi-page preview available over at Sala's blog, BTW.
The app maps a photo - an existing one or you can take one on the spot - to a variety of 3D animated zombie heads that snarl and snap at screen presses and etc. The effect is well done and it's pretty startling, watching a loved one turned all gnarly and cannibalistic.
Plus, you can save the most embarrassing pictures of them and post them on the Interwebs. Love you, sweetie.
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Thursday, September 8, 2011
Since presumably lapsing into the public domain, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD has been subjected to numerous indignities--sub-standard quality home video editions, multiple colorizations, an unwatchable mess of a 3D remake, and the infamous 30th Anniversary “SPECIAL EDITION.”
Because of this, news of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD: RESURRECTION is already being met with suspicion among horror fans. What do you say to them?
As a horror fan myself I understand the cynicism that re-working a much loved classic is often met with. The reality that filmmakers face is that it is easier to get a film financed and distributed when it has a brand name title. That’s just how the industry is right now and as an independent company it is easier for us to raise finance for a film that has ‘Night of the Living Dead’ in the title. But that is no reason to make an unimaginative re-hashing or churn out a story with no thought or substance.
When a lot of remakes are produced in the modern era they often duplicate the superficial elements of the original film without any attempt to understand the social and emotional context which made the source material so compelling. The directors too often have no affiliation for the genre and rarely recapture the genuine suspense and tension the classics are known for. You can see those hacks coming a mile off, with their flashy editing and loud soundtrack over-compensating for the inability to build genuine tension. All the studio remakes often lack imagination in cinematography too, every horror film seems to be bathed in those awful green and brown filters.
It looks like shit, literally. Not to mention that the wonderful practical effects we saw in the 70s and 80s have now been replaced by an abundance of CGI. You end up with a film that looks more like a video game, and it takes an audience out of the movie because it doesn’t look real.
One of the biggest flaws is a lack of interesting characters that break beyond stereotype, no wonder an audience can’t feel true tension when the characters are so faceless we're rooting for the villains.
I feel the best horror films have always been gritty low budget affairs powered by hungry young filmmakers with something to prove, and that’s what NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD: RESURRECTION will be. We are independent of the studios so we have the creative freedom to make interesting choices. Instead of throwing a bunch of strangers together who spend the majority of the movie arguing, the principal characters in this Zombie movie are four generations of a family, which give the relationships added depth and emotion. We will be using all practical effects, no CGI. We have an innovative young director, James Plumb, who has a genuine love for the genre. Everyone involved loves the original film and we know that we aren’t going to better it. That’s why we are going in a new direction with the characters and the plot twists, rather than staging a pointless scene for scene remake. Events will happen in this story that will unsettle the audience and leave them wondering what the hell is going to happen next. We are also not a thoughtless cash-in, using this title means we are obligated to deliver a film with substance and I wouldn't put my name to it if I wasn't confident that we could do that. We hope NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD: RESURRECTION will sit alongside the original film as an entertaining modern companion piece.
By making a NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD movie we know we are going to be a target for cynicism. But if genre fans give this movie a shot we‘ll take them on a horror ride they'll remember for all the right reasons.
The modern zombie genre is a uniquely American creation, but the best zombie films of the past decade have come from outside the US. Do you have any thoughts as to why this might be?
America is most definitely the leading light when it comes to producing classic horror. But in recent years perhaps too many American companies and filmmakers have become tied to convention. It doesn’t help when studios, financiers and producers make decisions that often result in the filmmakers’ new ideas being crushed in favor of the tried and trusted formula we’ve seen many times over. I know the “rules” of a genre are important, but sometimes it’s good to spread your wings and approach familiar genre territory from a different angle. Other countries and cultures can often bring a fresh voice to American material. But ultimately I feel the quality of a movie is down to the people making it, regardless of where they are from.
Some people have tried to do something different with the genre, but all that has resulted in is the current craze of zombies running like Olympic sprinters. What the hell is all that about? I know this started with 28 DAYS LATER but they weren’t zombies, they were people infected with the “Rage” virus. I think the creators of subsequent zombie movies must have felt that a fast moving zombie would be scarier and to some extent that might be true. But we won’t be including any sprinting zombies in NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD: RESURRECTION. Asking people to believe corpses can return to life is enough, asking them to believe that a corpse can kick ass in the 100 meter sprint is a step too far.
As a viewer, I find the most effective zombies to be the ones without tons of stuff glued to their faces. My favorite cinematic zombies are, appropriately enough, Optic Nerve's excellent creations in Tom Savini's much-maligned and highly underrated NIGHT remake. They came closest to evoking the look of actual corpses, which no doubt comes from Savini's direction--he was a photographer in 'Nam and knows dead when he sees it.
Can you describe the look you'll be going for with your walking corpses? Who's doing the FX?
I agree that Tom Savini’s NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD is very under rated. There’s some terrific set pieces in that film, particularly the opening graveyard scene which I thought was a superb riff on the original. If that film didn’t have the burden of being a remake it would be far better regarded.
For our project we have a new talent in charge of the effects, Rachael Southcott. People may not know her name now but after this film she is going to get a lot of work in the genre. We are going for the more realistic grounded zombie look with anatomically correct wounds. We want to ground everything in reality in this film, the characters, the setting and the look of the zombies.
Midway through the second episode of THE WALKING DEAD, when the zombies were trying to claw their way into the department store, I came to the realization that zombies were in danger of being played out... that no matter how well-made a new zombie production, that work would suffer from the fact that we've basically seen all of this before. We're reaching the saturation point.
What are you doing to avoid this?
James Plumb and I had a similar discussion when we were mapping out the script. I think a good reference point is if you look outside the zombie genre and to horror in general. Look at the famous icons of horror. In the original HALLOWEEN Michael Myers is a constant threat but he’s in the shadows a lot of the time. Same thing with Freddy Krueger in the first A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. Then if you look at the subsequent sequels and remakes of those films they put the villains to the fore, you see them a lot and their impact lessens. So in that case I think it’s important to use the villain sparingly, and pick the right moments for maximum impact. In this genre, if you see someone blowing a zombie’s head off every five minutes, you become desensitized after a while. So what we will try to do is give the audience characters and relationships they can invest in. We focus on how four generations of a family, with all of the history and emotion involved, cope with facing their own mortality. In our film the characters aren’t informed by a history of zombie movie “rules”, we have them reacting to situations as we would in the real world. The threat level to the family also extends beyond the zombies. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but they won’t just have the undead to deal with.
What are your favorite zombie films?
Obviously the original NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD and DAWN OF THE DEAD are masterpieces and revolutionized not just zombie movies but film in general. But I always had a soft spot for Romero‘s original DAY OF THE DEAD. It has a slower pace than the other movies but I felt the characters were really interesting, ‘Logan’, ‘Rhodes’, ‘Bub’, and I always thought it had the best FX of any Romero movie. Joe Pilato is an absolute legend, I love his performance and never tire of seeing him shouting down Frankenstein and the scientists!
The remake of that film was a total disgrace, a zombie walks up the wall onto the ceiling at one point!
Another zombie movie I particularly love is Lucio Fulci’s ZOMBIE FLESH EATERS (AKA ZOMBI 2 and ZOMBIE). I’m a big fan of Italian horror and exploitation in general, and that is one of my favorites. The zombies look fantastic in that one, plus that eyeball scene still impresses me even though I’ve seen it more than a hundred times!
Does your film contain analogues to characters from the original film? Essentially, what I'm asking is: does anyone come to get Barbara, and will we see Ben and an exploration of racial/social strife? Or have you allowed those elements to be a part of the original and opted instead for a new cast of characters?
There is one character from the original who plays a very prominent role throughout, but other than that it's essentially a new cast of characters. We won't be exploring the same themes as the original, with this story being set in modern times we'll be exploring modern issues.
In 1968 they didn't have the internet, social networking and mobile phones so we've had to acknowledge those advances in technology, which is an interesting challenge when you're trying to create an environment where the characters are truly isolated and cut off from the world. But technology isn't a prominent theme. The most interesting element for me was looking at the contrast in the way the younger and older generation view violence and having to face their own mortality. Trapping four generations of a family in one location allows us to really explore that. Ultimately this is a story about human beings rather than zombies, underneath the intestine munching and throat ripping we hope to touch on some universal truths about the human condition.
Intestine munching and throat ripping? Is there going to be a lot of that in NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD: RESURRECTION? Are you going for old-school gorefest or suggestive restraint?
The film will have a lot of suspense and tension, but it wouldn't feel right if the undead didn't get a meal time at some point!
What format are you shooting in, and how would describe director James Plumb's directorial style?
We are shooting in High Definition. James has directed a number of shorts in a variety of genres and has brought a unique style to each one. James is a very visual filmmaker, he has paid his dues in low budget filmmaking and I feel it has definitely helped his development as a director. Despite having limited resources, every short film I've seen from him has been progressively more ambitious and impressive. This is the perfect time for James' feature debut. Far be it for me to put any pressure on him but I feel that in years to come he will develop into one of the UK's best directors.
You start shooting in September. How long will principal photography last, and when can we expect the film's release?
Principal photography will last a total of four weeks. We'll have post production completed by Christmas with a release in the UK and US planned for early 2012.
It's taken a little over forty years for the sub-genre created by George Romero and John Russo to completely saturate pop culture. Video games, movies, books, and television --zombies have taken over and are more popular than ever. To what do you attribute this, and how long do you think it will last?
I think there's something about Zombies that really resonates with people. Zombies deal with the deep seated fear of death we all have, and the eternal question we all ponder about what could happen to us when we pass away. Ultimately, most people enjoy the thrill of being scared for entertainment and what's scarier than death itself trying to eat you alive? A lot of the recent incarnations of zombies have been more humorous though and personally I don't want to see too much of that. I think Zombies will always be popular if the quality of the movies, TV shows, books etc is maintained. The creators of the modern concepts need to keep the zombies frightening. That's what we hope to accomplish with NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD: RESURRECTION. We intend to take the audience out of the comfort zone of what they are used to seeing in zombie movies.
When the Walter Read film distribution company re-titled NIGHT OF THE FLESH EATERS as NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, they left out the Copyright mark, leading to the belief that the film was in the public domain.
Legally speaking, it isn’t. Image Ten fought for fifteen years to wrest distribution rights from deadbeat distributor, Walter Reade. In 1978, Reade went bankrupt and the distribution rights reverted to Image Ten. In 1983, Image Ten won back their copyright in federal court. By then, unauthorized copies of the film were so prevalent that to track them down and fight them in court would have been financially impossible. Today, the matter is worse. So, technically, if Image Ten had the money to take anyone exploiting the NIGHT name to court, they’d quite possibly win. Does this give you pause, either ethically or professionally?
If Image Ten wanted to sue then no doubt they'd have to track down dozens of other filmmakers and distributors who have used the title for decades now, which just seems a big waste of time and money. Personally, I think it's George Romero who should be suing someone for tainting his original classic with that abomination of a sequel CHILDREN OF THE LIVING DEAD.
I have every sympathy for the original NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD team that a distributor's mistake led to them losing a lot of money from the original release. George Romero in particular has had to sign away the rights to a lot of his subsequent DEAD films as well, just to get them made. It's a tough old business and I can empathize with not getting the amount of money from a film you had hoped to. But I'm sure they have all done pretty well financially down the years, all of them have launched successful careers and made a comfortable living. They are certainly worth alot more money than any hardcore fan who forks over his or her hard earned cash to see the films they have made.
I know some of the original team have criticized people who use the title and I of course understand their point of view. But while it's not their fault the film is public domain, I think complaining about other filmmakers taking the opportunity to use the title isn't fully justified because they have sought to capitalize on the original film's fanbase themselves. Look at the additional footage some of the original team inserted into the 30th Anniversary edition. That disappointed a lot of fans. Particularly because the producers themselves publicized the DVD by claiming the footage equaled the original film, when anyone who saw it knows that it didn't. They have a right to try and make money from the original any way they can, but they didn't need to pretend the new footage lived up to the original. That's a surefire way of alienating dedicated fans.
Personally, I hope that the makers of the original film remember the position they were in when they made it. Talented people just looking for a chance to break out and start a career doing what they love. The original film gave them that opportunity and despite the public domain issue they have still done very well out of it. So it would be great if they were happy for other up and comers to take the opportunity to make a NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD movie and launch their careers too. But judging by past comments I get the impression they won't be! All we can do is try and honor the title by making a quality movie and who knows, maybe the original film's producers will begrudgingly appreciate the effort. Stranger things have happened!
NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD: RESURRECTION starts shooting on September 24th.
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
He didn't step down graciously after getting the WALKING DEAD machine up an running, as those optimists among us assumed may have been the case. Nope--he was canned.
So what happened? The Hollywood Reporter sheds some light on the situation right here, but I came away from that article not wholly satisfied. Maybe he was fired because he tried to fix an episode that wasn't up to the show's standards, and maybe that incident was merely an excuse to fire Darabont, who wasn't too keen on proposed budget cuts.
Right now, it's all speculation and leaked anonymous insider news kernels. When asked, my contacts at AMC offered no comment.
Darabont has issued no response, but I suspect we'll get one eventually. This is the guy who told George Lucas he was insane after his Indiana Jones script was rejected by the Bearded One--Frank Darabont is not one to hold his tongue.
Why AMC would intentionally sabotage their biggest show remains a mystery.
For more on this puzzling series of events, check out Devin Faraci's take on the matter over at Badass Digest.
Thursday, July 28, 2011
In addition to his work on The Shield, Mazzara was showrunner on the STARZ L.A. drama, Crash. He was replaced for the second season. I have no idea what this says about his showrunning abilities, but I'll defer to Darabont, who knows what he's doing (expect for that ridiculous hospital bed POV from the first episode of THE WALKING DEAD).
Online fanboy negative response notwithstanding, there's absolutely no reason to declare this the end of THE WALKING DEAD. Darabont is a filmmaker, not a showrunner, and now that he's gotten THE WALKING DEAD off the ground, after five years of trying to bring zombies to prime time, it makes sense that he'd move on to other things. (Like maybe a film version of Stephen King's THE LONG WALK.)
This changing of the guard has not affected the production of season two of THE WALKING DEAD, which is set to premiere on October 16th.
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Here's the press release:
North Bank Entertainment, the UK production company behind Ruggero Deodato’s forthcoming ‘The House on the Edge of the Park Part II’, has teamed up with Independent Moving Pictures and Mad Science Films to produce NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD: RESURRECTION, a British version of the 1968 horror classic.
The film will be produced by Andrew Jones and is the debut feature of director James Plumb, who has previously helmed a number of award winning short films. The script has been co-written by James Plumb and Andrew Jones. Rob Graham of Independent Moving Pictures is the Executive Producer.
Producer Andrew Jones: “NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD: RESURRECTION is aiming to serve as an entertaining companion piece to the original film rather than attempting to do the impossible and improve on it. This project is being produced by a group of filmmakers who are genuine fans of the horror genre. We have fresh ideas for how to revitalise the Zombie sub-genre and have created a story that combines modern elements with the classic premise. We are sure genre fans will be happy to see a modern horror film which focuses on genuine suspense and tension, utilises practical FX rather than CGI and provides characters that the audience will actually care about.”
Director James Plumb: "In 1968 George Romero revolutionised both the horror genre and low budget, independent filmmaking with his film “Night of the Living Dead”. It is only fitting that “Night of the Living Dead: Resurrection” is to be made in a truly independent, low budget fashion, rather than become yet another glossy, sanitised Hollywood remake."
Principal photography begins on September 24th, 2011. The film will be shot on location in Carmarthenshire, Swansea and Cardiff in South Wales, UK.
In 2012 the deceased have risen from their graves with only one instinct: to feed on the living. As academics speculate on the scientific cause of the phenomena, theologians point to the Armageddon foretold in the Book of Revelation. As the cities are overrun and civilization crumbles, a family take refuge from the undead army in an isolated farmhouse in West Wales. But the greatest threat is already among them.
You're rolling your eyes, and I'm tempted to join you, but how can it possibly be worse than the last few times someone dragged the name NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD writhing through the dirt? All the bad 3D, crude animation, puppets, and sliced bread in the world can't top what was done to NIGHT in 1998, so who cares anymore? Eventually, someone is going to get it right.*
Maybe these folks...
*Tom Savini got it right in 1990, by the way.
I think that last trailer I posted was a fake. I haven't looked into it, but it felt... wrong. Whatever the case, there's a new trailer, and it's very real, but it's not even news anymore--it's been eclipsed:
Frank Darabont has stepped down as showrunner on AMC's wildly successful series, THE WALKING DEAD.
As no official statement has been made (we're trying to get one), we're left only with speculation: was the strain of overseeing thirteen episodes too much for Darabont? I have no idea. Some have suggested as much, but what of the talk that AMC was threatening to cut the show's budget?
Two months ago, Darabont told The Hollywood Reporter that he feared budget cuts would hurt the show:
“Creatively I have no complaints thus far, but I believe if they do move ahead with what they’re talking about, it will affect the show creatively ... in a negative way. Which just strikes me as odd. If you have an asset, why would you punish it?”
Darabont's departure comes as a surprise. Just last week, he appeared at the San Diego Comic-Con and gave no indication that things were amiss. Recently, when asked if he'd be directing any episodes of the second season of THE WALKING DEAD, he said:
"I'm hoping to. You know, being the boss is kinda like being the kid who has to stay in and do homework. Everyone gets to play outside. Yeah, it's hot and miserable, but my God it's fantastic. And I'm just going, 'Aww, I've got to go home to L.A. I'm cramming for finals, I guess. While you guys get to play zombies, I'm doing homework.'"
Hindsight prompts me to read between the lines here. Was Darabont already distancing himself from the production? Is this a natural and expected thing--Darabont getting the machine rolling along and then passing the wheel to another, perhaps one with more showrunning experience? I don't know. Someone does, and I expect we'll get a real answer soon enough.
Meantime, how about that trailer?
Thursday, July 7, 2011
"And I believe they're going to put Walking Dead in July as well. I think it's just a sensible thing — they want to attract as many eyeballs as possible, away from the heavy competition of the September, November, January start."Exciting, right? New Walking Dead any day now!
Settle, settle--it's not happening. I asked someone at AMC, and the response I received was simple:
"The Walking Dead will premiere around Halloween. It is not premiering now."So there. Makes sense, considering that the season two promotion machine did not rumble into motion until tonight, with the release of this teaser trailer:
It's more stylized than I'd expect, but it does what it's supposed to do: let you know that a new season of The Walking Dead is right around the corner. Excited?
Monday, July 4, 2011
- News on PRINT IS DEAD's latest releases.
- News on AMC's The Walking Dead and the film version of World War Z.
- Interviews with some really awesome zombie authors, including Jonathan Maberry, Joe McKinney, and many more.
- Reviews of comics, movies, and books.
- A report from the set of Brian Keene's Ghoul.
- News on Zombie stuff I've currently forgotten about.
- News on Zombie stuff of which I am currently unaware.
- Pray to Stay Dead by Mason James Cole
- World In Red by John Sebastian Gorumba
- Scavengers by Nate Southard
All three books are receiving rave reviews, and this is just the beginning: we have several other excellent zombie titles in the pipeline, including The Living by Kealan Patrick Burke and Reanimated Americans by Martin Mundt. 2012 will bring even more zombie awesomeness-- much of which I can't even tell you about. We'll be working with some of very best horror writers around to bring you the very best in zombie fiction.
Check back often, and thanks for stopping by.