Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Damnit, Netflix!

I don't even know where to begin.  I guess the saying should be, "Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me.  Fool me thrice, shame on Netflix."  As mentioned earlier, I'm still working my way through TKout and my Netflix queue, watching the movies that I added that he didn't seem to excited to watch.  I figure it's only fair - it weeds out the movies he won't want to see, and he can weed out the ones I won't want to see.  So far as I can tell, he's getting the better end of the deal.

Tonight began with a little disaster from 2004, titled Zombie Nation.  Again, the poster looks pretty awesome.  It's a Ulli_Lommel's_Zombie_Nationgruesome face with the title carved into it's forehead.  Apparently the production company spent it's entire make-up budget on the poster.  Despite the fact that our femme fatale zombies climb out of the dirt, the only indication we have that they are dead is the heavy black and purple eye makeup.  Raccoons of the world, it's time to be jealous.  Zombie Nation is supposed to be about a psychotic cop who abducts, tortures, and kills women.  Then they come back as zombies.  Pretty simple plot.  However, we get instead is an existential batch of women zombies, who stagger, run, and talk their way through the movie.  Oh, and as a sign of the times, the soundtrack is that deplorable club sound so prevalent in the early part of the 2000s, which gives the whole movie more of a softcore porn feel than an actual zombie movie.  (No offense to any fetish readers out there - if that's your thing, more power to you, but I'd at least like a little warning since that's not exactly my bag of chips.)  Production value is pretty bad, looking more like it was filmed sometime in the 80s.  Not to mention that the set for the inside of the police station looks like the other side of the torture room the cop uses.  All in all, it's a pretty bad movie.  I must confess that I played it through until the end.  I just had to know if it truly was that bad.

MV5BNTUxMjUyMzk1NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMzg4NjYxNA@@._V1_SY317_CR4,0,214,317_After Zombie Nation, I went to a little flick called RetarDEAD, more out of curiosity than anything else.  Anything zombie draws my attention, and usually without a second thought.  I should have seen it coming a mile away from the title though, and I feel guilty for not giving the title more thought from the get-go.  RetarDEAD started off with a string of home movie quality trailers for obscure movies, which I think was supposed to lead up to the main film.  I barely made it through this lackluster attempt at an artsy opening.  While it was playing, I hopped on over to my staple, IMDB.com to check the film out.  The description in IMDB.com did not match the description in Netflix, or I never would have considered this movie.  Netflix describes it as the tale of a mad scientist who alters students to make them smarter, while cops are more interested in catching a sex fiend than the zombies.  Not the most scintillating plot, but not bad.  IMDB.com however, goes a little more in-depth.  The reason the mad scientist is able to enhance the students is because they are mentally handicapped.  I turned the movie off immediately and rated it with a 1 star.  I don't think that the people involved with the movie must have had any dealings with that particular community.  What few dealings I have had with special needs children (students in my classroom and students that I taught to swim) have taught me that they are loving and wonderful souls.  They are kind and caring, and do not tend to dwell on the skills they don't possess.  When I used to lifeguard, I worked with the Special Olympics swimmers.  All throughout the practice, they cheered each other on and freely gave tips to each other to improve their swimming.  I'm not a holier-than-thou type, and enjoy my share of politically incorrect entertainment, but I can't watch this one.  Having met the people I've met and seen what I've seen, I can't watch this movie.

Now I'm off to the third attempt of the night.  It's a crazy flick titled Deadgirl.  Both the Netflix and IMDB.com descriptions are close, so I think I know what I'm getting into this time.  Look for my review of it, possibly later tonight or tomorrow.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Memorial Day Weekend Survival Guide

Memorial Day weekend is upon us at last, which means it's time for hot dogs, grilling, backyard swimming pools, and time with loved ones.  If you're looking to have some extra-special fun this weekend, check out the ideas below.  But whatever you choose to do, make sure you send your warmest thanks to our Vets, and keep the ones no longer with us in your memory.  Holiday-of-the-Dead-front

1.  Holiday of the Dead -  Driving into work this morning, I was thinking about leaving this one to the last, so I could spend forever raving about it.  However, since it's $2.99 on Kindle (a steal) why wait?  This book is a riot.  It features stories by Iain McKinnon, David Dunwoody, Eric S. Brown, Shawn M Riddle, Joe McKinney, Bowie V. Ibarra, and so many other talented authors.  It even features a story set in a nudist colony!  There are stories about vacations in other countries, stories about popular vacation hot spots, and stories about all kinds of zombie mayhem.  I read this book last winter and I couldn't put it down.  Every single story is better than the last.  I found myself laughing, crying, and cringing in terror.  Grab this for a great holiday read!

components2.  Zombie Dice -  This simple game comes in a can and features dice with pictures on them.  This game lasts about 10 minutes and can be played by up to 8 people at a time.  The rules are simple: roll the dice to eat brains and dodge bullets.  Being a zombie is easy!  So easy and portable, you can play it anywhere!  Take it to the beach, a picnic, or on the road to your next destination.  Having personally played this game, I can tell you that it's a great conversation starter when you need to break the ice and get to know someone.

3.  Run For Your Lives - If you like running, physical fitness, or zombies, check out this site.  There may be a run site near you!  Basically, you run an obstacle course and get chased by zombies.  All you have to do is survive until you hit the finish line.  Or, if you'd just like to train like it's the Apocalypse, pick up Zombies, Run! for your mobile device.  Over your music, you'll hear instructions of zombie attacks.  Collect items when you complete missions, and build up your base.  Interval training just got awesome!

4.  The Walking Dead -  You can choose to catch up on either the AMC series, or the original graphic novel.  AMC recently walking-dead-daryl-merle-dixonannounced that they will be continuing the series.  If you've been caught up in other pursuits, now's the time to get your Walking Dead on.  If you're like me and prefer to read the story before watching the show, rest assured - they're different enough that you don't need to be familiar with one to enjoy the other.  Reading and TV not your style?  Play AMC's The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct.  If ou're a fan of the antics of Daryl and Merle Dixon, you'll be pleased to know that the game is voiced by Norman Reedus and Michael Rooker.  And if you're also like me, you can't deny your fascination for Norman Reedus.

FFP0101_LastNightOnEarth5.  Last Night On Earth -  Do you like role-playing games?  Then you'll love this one.  Play out different scenarios as different people.  Just remember not to become a zombie!  Don't fret - if you're not the goody-goody type you can also opt to play as a zombie.  To quote John Leguizamo in Land of the Dead, "I've always wanted to see how the other half lives."  All of the fun of zombie-dom without the pain of dying.

6.  For the Gardener - If you're like my father, and tend to see Memorial Day Weekend as a time to get ahead on your gardening, take a look at this organizer wall posted on Instructables.com.  It's called a Zombiewall, and features a cheeky design for storing your gardening gear.  I might actually do this - but hang a sign over my things.  Maybe even hang my bicycle on a few hooks near it for extra cheesy appeal.  It seems fitting, considering Rum-Genericpretty much every other facet of my life has been invaded by zombies.  Why not the garden too?

7.  Last, but certainly not least, if you're in charge of the celebratory drinks, let's not forget to bring some zombies to the party.  Here are some zombie drinks that are sure to bring any party to life!  Just remember to drink responsibly.  If you're going to drink, stay off the roads.  Call a cab, stay on a friend's couch, sleep in your own bed.  There's no reason to be turning yourself, a loved one, or a complete stranger into a zombie.


As for my plans, I'll be at home hopefully finishing two books which need to be posted up for review, as well as working my way through Games of Thrones Seasons 1 & 2.  I might even get my garden in order, since my husband and I moved into our first house a few months ago and it was still snowing then.  Oh!  And lest I forget - my husband and I will be welcoming a new member to our family.  My parents have a few stray cats in their care, and TKout and I will be adopting one of the kittens, Tom.  He'll be hanging out for a day or so before he visits our resident Overlord (our Bengal cat, Chloe).    



What are you going to be up to this wonderful weekend? 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Suggested Reading for Teens

When I used to be a teacher, I would often overhear my students talking about zombies.  They played Left 4 Dead, Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare, and talked 9781442402331_p0_v1_s260x420non-stop about what to do in a zombie apocalypse.  (If you were wondering, I taught middle school for three years, which puts my students at about age of 13.)  As an adult, I find that I can read whatever I choose.  My students, on the other hand, need more carefully selected materials.  I remember thinking that it was such a shame that there were no horror books on the reading lists.  That seems to be the one genre that schools avoid, and it's a pity.

Over the course of my last year as a teacher, I befriended one of the parents.  She and I talk about pretty much everything and anything, and I count her among my closest friends.  Her son, my previous student, has the run of my zombie library (with his mom's permission - I let her know if I think there's anything she might object to in the books and she makes the decision).  That being said, I'm always on the lookout for suitable reading material that I will be able to pass along to my own future children so that they can know the joy I feel in reading, and in specific, horror.

There's one book in particular that keeps coming to mind as a suitable entry-level zombie book.  Make no mistake - I read it when I was twice my student's age, and I loved it, so when I say it's appropriate don't make the mistake of thinking it's "tame".  It's very deep, and the characters have to survive a host of growing pains in addition to the struggles of living in a zombie-infested world.  Jonathan Maberry has a way with telling a story about young people in an apocalyptic world that is engaging and realistic.  His story Rot & Ruin, based on one of my all time favorite short stories, centers around two brothers and their tumultuous relationship.  Benny Immura's last memories of his parents cause resentment towards his older brother Tom, whom he views as a coward.  The story centers around the two brothers struggles.  Benny struggles to find his place in the community in the shadow of his brother's achievements (though he's not entirely sure what they are, just that everyone adores his brother), and Tom's struggle to help his brother grow up in a harsh world.

Any way you slice it, this is a great book, and it becomes an even better series.  There are four books total.  I have only read up to the second book, as I want to take my time.  Series like this don't come around often, and I want to make sure the magic lasts just a little bit longer.  If there's a zombie fan of any age in your home or family, pick this book up.  If you're not sure what the big deal is with this whole zombie craze, pick this book up.  You won't be disappointed.

Netflix Failed Me Again

RISE-OF-THE-ZOMBIESAnother night at work, another zombie flick on the screen.  My husband shares his Netflix account with me, and anyone who knows us both can tell which movies were chosen by each of us.  He tends to favor Asian fight flicks and any other action movies, and I can't pull myself away from anything zombie or foreign.  In any event, it's time to thin the queue.

Tonight, I'm watching Rise of the Zombies, which features Danny Trejo on the movie poster.  Shame on Netflix!  I'm almost done with this movie, and I have been able to follow along with it, despite pausing it for calls and half watching while I enter tickets into the computer.  What I'm trying to say is that start power from Danny Trejo, Mariel Hemingway, and LeVar Burton can't save this film.  It's a non-descript zombie shooter that is more like a film adaptation of Left 4 Dead than an actual movie.  Any moments that could possibly be suspenseful or sad are ruined by a soundtrack that has been nothing but overly dramatic the entire time.

The plot for Rise of the Zombies is pretty run-of-the-mill.  People are stranded at Alcatraz while the zombie apocalypse rages outside.  Others are not so lucky - they're still trapped in the city just across the water.  They see on TV that there's a scientist who is working on a cure.  Some people leave the island to go see him, some people leave the island just to go out on their own, and some people stay behind to work on their own kind of research.  There are too many characters and none are developed enough to make them or their names memorable, but they do die in interesting ways.

 When I was reading the IMDB.com entry for Rise of the Zombies, I saw that the film was made in 2010, and was a TV film for the SyFy Channel.  That new tidbit actually made me appreciate the film a little more.  You see, as a child, I would watch SyFy all the time with my parents.  They would show reruns of The Twilight Zone, as well as The Outer Limits.  I also used to watch the movies that SyFy produced.  Therefore, I can say with a conscience backed by experience, that this has to be the best film SyFy has come up with on it's own.  They didn't use too much CG, and the makeup was actually pretty good.


All that being said, Rise of the Zombies wasn't the best zombie film out there, but it certainly wasn't the worst.  It's helped greatly by LeVar Burton (Geordi La Forge of Star Trek: Next Generation, Kunta Kinte of Roots, and star of Reading Rainbow) and Danny Trejo (Machete, Predators, and pretty much every movie that requires a bad-ass Latino or Mexican).  Put on Rise of the Zombies if you just want a movie to play in the background while you chat with some friends over pizza at a sleepover, or any time that you want a horror film that you don't have to pay very close attention to while you watch.


 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

So Bad, I HAD to Review It

I'm sitting in my office at work, pulling the graveyard shift for the credit card processing company I work for.  I'm loving my new job as a support technician - and loving the hours more!  There haven't been any calls in about two hours, so I've been catching up on my reviews and watching shows on my husband's Netflix account.  Even though I'm the only person in the office and it can get spooky, I still can't stop watching horror movies!

Tonight, I wanted to look for something different.  I didn't want to watch the same movies that I've already seen.  With a thunderstorm coming in, I would have preferred HBO's classic show Tales From the Crypt (which aired during my childhood - and scared me witless!), but alas, I left my DVDs at home.  While looking through the queue, I came across Hypothermia, starring Michael Rooker.  Some of you most likely know Rooker from AMC's The Walking Dead, where he plays Merle Dixon, brother of Daryl Dixon (played by Norman Reedus).  I love watching Rooker tear up the screen as Merle, and I wanted to see him in another role, so I clicked on Hypothermia.  By the end of the movie, the only motivation was Rooker's performance.

Hypothermia-PosterI think the best way to describe Hypothermia is to say that it's a mixture of JAWS and Tremors, but set on a frozen lake with far fewer characters, almost none of which are memorable.  The story centers around two families who come to the same lake to ice fish, but have different ways of ice fishing.  Rooker's family prefers a quiet shelter set up with little holes in the ice.  They sit and share a nondescript hot drink from a Thermos and wait for fish.  The other family, led by (hang on while I go figure out the antagonist's name)...Steve Cote and his son (I kid you not) Stevie Jr, prefer more high tech methods.  Reading the movie description, it would seem like the two families are supposed to be in opposition, but when I watched it, I wasn't sure if I was seeing the same movie.  I came to realize that Rooker's character wanted to have a good time, his family wanted to get out of the area because they were cold, the antagonist was a jerk, and his son was boring.

The scariest part of the movie is the poster.  When the underwater monster was swimming around, the audience knew because the camera shots were from under the ice, with an orange-toned fish-eye camera lens.  This begged the comparison to JAWS, at least the opening sequence anyway.  Sometime during the halfway point, one of the characters realizes that the monster is drawn by vibrations (Tremors rip-off), and so the characters endowed with common sense began to move around quietly, though they didn't make an effort to get off the ice and back to the cabin.

About three quarters of the way through, the audience finally gets to see the monster.  Bad move, production company.  Very bad move.  The monster is a man in a ridiculous mask that doesn't have a working mouth, and looks to be made of pleather.  Overall, it's more of an updated Creature From the Black Lagoon.  When seen from above the ice, it resembles a large koi.  I was going to put a picture of the monster in this post, but I started to feel guilty.  While looking for a suitably funny picture, I stumbled on a few blogs that actually liked the movie and praised the monster.  If you're interested in seeing it for yourself, just go to google.com and type in "hypothermia movie monster".  I'm sure you'll get an eyeful.

In summation, Netflix this movie if you are a fan of Michael Rooker, if you're watching movies with whimpy people that don't want to be truly scared, or if you're out to find the next "so-bad-I-had-to-experience-it-for-myself" movie.

An Anti-Hero for the Ages

Eloise J. Knapp delivers a new kind of zombie apocalypse survivor in "The the-undead-situation-book-coverUndead Situation".  Whereas most authors strive to deliver a likeable hero in their books, someone who survives by their wit and their negotiation skills, Knapp brings us someone totally different.  One might say he is the antithesis of Rick Grimes (from The Walking Dead).  Where Grimes is guided by his principals, and propelled to protect those around him, Sinclair isn't burdened by anything other than his need to protect himself.  And his pet ferret, of course.  And the idea that there is a finite amount of candy now available.

Sinclair spends the whole of the book avoiding other people, eating candy, and hanging out with his pet ferret.  It doesn't exactly sound like a compelling read, but trust me, it's worth every penny you'll pay for it - and more.  Knapp is an amazing author.  She takes you right into Sinclair's mind - and what a ride that is!  I never thought I would root so hard for a protagonist who is so obviously unhinged.  Sinclair makes it painfully clear to the reader that he's happy with the new world in which he resides.  He doesn't have to worry about other people bothering him, he doesn't have to share the world's candy supply with anyone else, and he doesn't have to conform to any other societal principles.  That is, until an equally unstable and unusual woman enters his life.  And then another.  Before he knows it, Sinclair is having issues with something he's never given a second though to - morals.

If you're looking for a new take on the apocalypse, you really need to pick up The Undead Situation by Eloise J Knapp.  It's available for Kindle and in paperback, and either choice is sound.  It would also make a great gift for anyone interested in psychology, zombies, candy, or ferrets.  Now, stop reading this review and go get the book!

The End of the Sparkly Vampire

Jack Hamlyn has officially returned the vampire to it's rightful place in vampirushorror.  The tyranny of the sparkly vampire has come to an end.  Hamlyn's new tale, Vampirus, goes back to the roots of the creature.  His vampires don't drive stylish cars and make friends with the local mortals.  They die in delirious agony, and come back for their loved ones at night.  They come to the windows, speaking lovingly, all the while scratching at the windows with their clawed hands.  Hamlyn's vampires are disease vectors, who use bites to spread it others.

I couldn't put this book down.  It was almost too much to bear - watching one man struggle nightly against the reanimated body of his wife and daughter.  Hamlyn kept the story moving along at a brisk pace, which is not an easy feat considering during the majority of the book, the protagonist was searching for his vampire family.  Hamlyn created the perfect antagonist as well.  He took a community member, dear to the protagonist, and turned her against him.  Hamlyn made her the embodiment of evil, a ruthless predator toying with our hero every step of the way.

Vampirus is a fascinating book, and I highly suggest that everyone go to amazon.com and pick it up.  It's a quick and engaging read, and features vampires with some bite to them!

 

 

She's a doozy!

her

If you're a fan of horror, and you like to venture into unknown territory, I highly recommend a little gem from Severed Press.  It's by an author named Luke Keioskie, whom you might remember as the author of Dead America.  Keioskie's newest tale is Her, A Horror Story, currently available for Kindle, and at it's current price, you're all but stealing from both the author and the publishing company.  It's a fairly fast read, propelled by the interesting characters and more twists and turns than a backwoods road.

Our literary femme fatale, Serenity, is anything but a by-the-book terror.  She's a chameleon - reading your deepest desires and fashioning herself in their likeness.  Then, she'll stalk you, captivate you, manipulate, and finally destroy you.

The story begins with Serenity walking down a road with her suitcase.  A passing driver picks her up and offers to take her to town.  Serenity accepts - it just so happens she has family in the next town.  Little does the driver know the capabilities of her strangely familiar passenger, or the hell she's about to unleash on the quiet little town.

As Serenity mingles with the townsfolk and becomes a larger part of their lives, we learn more about her own history.  She's been around for a deceptively long time - long enough to have lived many lifetimes.  While the scenery and players change around her each lifetime, Serenity's purpose remains the same.  All  that Serenity wants is to be loved, and even though the price for her love is phenomenally high, most pay it unwittingly.  Simon Moss, on the other hand, finds out that there is an even higher and more terrible price for those who do not want her love.

When I first picked up Her, it sounded like an interesting story.  From the first sentence all the way through the end, I couldn't put it down.  Keioskie kept me guessing the whole time.  Is Serenity a succubus?  Is she a vampire?  When I finally found out the answer, it blew me away.  Not because it was so simple, but because I had never seen it coming.  Actually, I don't think I've ever encountered a similar creature yet in my reading.

I highly recommend this story to anyone.  Whether you prefer zombies, ghosts, demons, vampires, werewolves, or less popular horrors, Her: A Horror Story is perfect for you.  Luke Keioskie has the unique ability to appeal to a vast range of horror fans.  Not a fan of horror?  Check it out anyway - you'll never see the twist ending coming!