Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year

Happy New Year to all my family and fiends!  May you all find love, happiness, and success in 2012.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Review of World of the Dead: Zombie Diaries 2

Title: World of the Dead: Zombie Diaries 2

Date: 2011


The insatiable dead run amok in this gore-filled horror flick, which follows a bad of humans who've survived a virus that has turned the rest of the world into zombies.  Our heroes hear about a sanctuary near the sea -- but is it true, or a trap?

One of the great things about Netflix is that, given the number of movies I watch a month, each one costs me only a few bucks to rent.  For that reason, I check out stuff that I normally wouldn’t watch because I’m willing to take a chance on any movie for $2.  Sometimes I find a treasure, and sometimes I hit a septic tank.  More often than not, though, I just dig up an average DVD.  

That’s the best that can be said for World of the Dead: Zombie Diaries 2.  It’s average.

The plot has been rehashed a dozen times.  In a Great Britain that is collapsing under the onslaught of a zombie virus, a small military unit abandons the fight against the living dead and struggles to make its way north.  From there, according to their commander (played by Philip Brodie), a naval convoy will rescue the survivors and take them to the Netherlands, the only spot in Europe not affected by the outbreak.  However, they only have forty-eight hours to reach the coast and join the evacuation before a massive air strike is launched that will burn away the English countryside and the zombie hordes along with it.  Along the way, the survivors stumble across overrun military camps, rape gangs, zombie-ravaged towns, and almost every other standard fare typical for a zombie film.  To bog down the plot even further, the entire story is told as a video diary.

Despite the numerous drawbacks, Zombie Diaries 2 does have some redeeming qualities that make the movie worth watching.  The cinematography and acting is much better than in your average independent production, so the movie is entertaining (however, despite the acting, I still didn’t really care much for any of the characters).  In addition, the video diary format does provide a unique and vital subplot to the movie.  The cameraman, a character named Jones, records his diary over a previously-recorded videotape, inadvertently leaving some of the old material intact; these snippets provide a chilling back story to the outbreak.  Finally, the last few minutes of the movie have a macabre ending that perfectly embodies the futility and frustration inherent in a zombie apocalypse.  

World of the Dead: Zombie Diaries 2 won’t be the best zombie movie you can watch in 2012, but it sure won’t be the worst.  The movie is worth a shot as long as you go into it with average expectations.  I give this movie two out of five rotting zombie heads.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Sunday Bunnies (Christmas Edition)

I decided to post several pictures of the rabbits enjoying their Christmas.  Enjoy.

Where the hell are the Christmas gifts?!?!

At least he didn't dress us up this year.

Willow baskets and hay cubes?  I asked for a bag of raisins.  Jerk.

So we made a mess with our gifts.  It's Christmas.  Deal with it.

We're tired from trying to get at the tree and chewing on daddy's Christmas gifts, so talk to the butt while we relax.

We don't have mistletoe, but Merry Christmas.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all my fans and friends.

If you've been good all year, may you get what you want for the holidays.  If you've been bad, you already have it.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Check Out My Interview on Swedish Zombies

On 21 December, Swedish Zombie posted an interview with me where I discuss one of my favorite topics -- zombies.  Please read the interview and check out the blog.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Review of Zombie Apocalypse

Title:  Zombie Apocalypse

Date: 2011


Months after a zombie plague has wiped out 90 percent of the American population, a small group of survivors fight their way cross-country to a rumored refuge on the island of Catalina. 

I sat down to watch this movie with high hopes but low expectations.  After all, it was a zombie movie with Ving Rhames, so how bad could it be?  As far as I’m concerned, Ving earned his living dead street creds in the 2004 reimaging of Dawn of the Dead, one of my favorite zombie films.  However, Zombie Apocalypse was a SyFy Channel production, and while I enjoy their movies for what they are (today’s equivalent of a Roger Corman B-film), I was skeptical. 

Zombie Apocalypse turned out to be a pleasant surprise. 

The plot is basic but entertaining.  Months after the outbreak has devastated mankind, a small band of survivors is making its way to the California coast where rumor has it that the island of Catalina is a safe haven free from the outbreak.  Along the way they join up with other groups, run across hordes of zombies, and lose some of the numbers, all the while bonding in the process.  Eventually the remnants of the cast arrive at the port facility where a weekly ferry will transport the uninfected to Catalina, only to discover that the greatest threat does not necessarily come from humans brought back to life. 

The acting, sets, and special effects are what one would expect from a made-for-TV movie made on a limited budget and shooting schedule.  However, despite the constraints, director Nick Lyon succeeded in living up to the film’s title and gives us ninety-plus minutes chocked with action, zombies, and blood and guts.  What else could a zombiephile want?

Zombie Apocalypse is definitely worth a viewing, especially on a Saturday night with a bunch of friends and some pizza and beer.  I give the movie two-and-a-half out of five rotting zombie heads.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Sunday Bunnies

I'll just wait here for Santa, and when he shows up Christmas Eve I'll take the fat guy down and keep all the gifts for myself.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Review of Graham Masterton's The Sphinx

Title:  The Sphinx

Author:  Graham Masterton

Publisher:  MHB Press

Date: 2010

Pages: 167


For up and coming politician Gene Keiller an attraction to a beautiful woman is no strange thing.  But Lorie Semple is no ordinary woman.  She has a secret.  She has history.  And when the attraction becomes obsession he takes his first steps on a perilous journey where myth and reality collide with devastating consequences. A savage beast is unleashed and by the time he discovers the truth the mysterious beauty who has so captivated his soul it is far too late to run. 

I usually don’t post negative reviews of books.  As an author, I know full well the time it takes to write a book and the emotional investment that is made in the process.  Just because I’m not intrigued by a plotline or don’t like the way a character was portrayed, it’s not fair for me to bad mouth another author’s work.  I’ve read several novels over the past few months that have not been discussed in this blog for that reason.  This time, however, I’m making an exception.

What bothers me is that the review is of a Graham Masterton novel.

Anyone who follows my blog or interviews knows that Graham Masterton is one of my favorite authors.  His first novel, The Manitou, which I read when I was ten years old, hooked me on the genre.  After that, I devoured every one of his books like a ravenous zombie ripping into a bus full of cheerleaders.  Picking up one of his novels, I was guaranteed an edge-of-my-seat ride as Graham would take an infamous legend or twisted premise and turn it into a tension-filled, action-packed, gore-laced thriller.  Graham Masterton never failed to deliver.  At least until I read The Sphinx.

Originally published in 1978, The Sphinx was released this year by MHB Press as a signed, limited hard cover edition selling for $60 (or for $625 if you want the deluxe, lettered edition).  Gene Keiller, a self-important and egocentric mid-level State Department diplomat, meets the stunningly beautiful Lorie Semple at a dinner party and is determined to see her again despite the woman’s protestations.  After much persistence, Gene finally gets his wish and starts dating Lorie, only to discover that she and her mother are the last of the Ubasti, an ancient race that was half-woman/half-lion.  Although Lorie claims to love him, Gene begins to worry that he is being set up by the Semple women to be a blood sacrifice to keep the Ubasti bloodline alive.

The Sphinx lacked all of the elements I’ve grown to love in a Graham Masterton story.  There was no mounting tension, no surprising revelations or plot twists, no horrible and gory deaths.  The characters were two dimensional and, for the most part, unlikeable.  I was more than one hundred pages into the book before the story began to pique my interest.  Even the climax was the least exciting of any of his works that I’ve ever read. 

If you have cash to spend and you don’t mind paying the overly-inflated price to have a signed copy of a Graham Masterton book on your shelf, then by all means get a copy before they are all sold out (the cover art by Ben Baldwin is extremely well drawn and attention grabbing).  Other than that, I wouldn’t spend the money; you would be better off trying to find a first edition of The Manitou or The Devils of D-Day on e-bay and purchasing them.

The Sphinx was a major disappointment for a big-time Graham Masterton fan like me.  I give this book one out of five rotting zombie heads.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Review of "Deck the Malls with Bowels of Holly"

Horror author M.R. Gott reviewed my Christmas short story, "Deck the Malls with Bowels of Holly," from Living Dead Press' Christmas Is Dead anthology.  Check out the review here.  You can buy a copy of the anthology at Amazon.  It'd make an awesome Christmas gift.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

It's two weeks before Christmas, you bring a bag into the house, and you think we're not going to snoop?  Idiot. 

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Review of It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Zombies!

Title:  It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Zombies! A Book of Zombie Christmas Carols
Author:  Michael P. Spradlin

Publisher:  Harper Collins

Date: 2009

Pages: 81


Yes, Christmas is on its way – and all the little boys and ghouls are dreaming of stockings filled with candied eyes and bleeding body parts.  You’d better watch out!  Santa Claws is coming to town – and he knows who’s been naughty, who’s been naughtier… and who will taste best with a nice glass of Chianti!  

It’s Christmas, and what better expresses the spirit of the holiday than hordes of the living dead?  As Christopher Moore notes in the introduction to this book, “there are very few literary pursuits which cannot be improved by the addition of Zombies.”  Michael Spradlin and illustrator Jeff Weigel prove this in It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Zombies! A Book of Zombie Christmas Carols, a humorous little twist to the traditional holiday fare that would scare the sheet off the Ghost of Christmas Future.  From I Saw Mommy Chewing Santa Claus to A Jolly Zombie Christmas, all your favorites are brought back from the dead with plenty of guts and gore, including my favorite, and the signature song of the book (sung to the tune of It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas):

It’s beginning to look a lot like Zombies
Everywhere you go.
They’ve stormed the Grand Hotel, and filled the park as well.
They’re hungry and they sure don’t mind the snow!
It’s beginning to look a lot like Zombies!
Blood splattered on the floor!
But the scariest sight to see is the Zombies that will be
At your own front door.

So grab yourself several copies of this book, gather your best friends (or fiends), and go zombie caroling.  You’ll be spreading some old-fashioned holiday cheer along with a good ole rotter outbreak. 

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Zombies! is good Christmas fun and makes an excellent stocking stuffer.  I give this book four out of five rotting zombie heads (each wearing a Santa’s cap).

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Fantastic Review of The Vampire Hunters: Dominion

Peter Schwotzer of Famous Monsters of Filmland just posted a review of The Vampire Hunters; Dominion, the last book in The Vampire Hunters trilogy.  Peter has been a huge fan of the trilogy, which means a lot since getting the thumbs up from Famous Monsters is an honor for an old Monster Kid like me.  However, the recommendation Peter gave for the book has me walking on air.

If you are vampire fanatic like I am you will absolutely love this vampire trilogy. In fact I like this more then “The Strain” trilogy. So what are you waiting for? Use the links above to order what I feel is one of the best vampire stories I have ever read and I give it my highest recommendation.

Beating out del Toro in the vampire genre?  Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.  I'm breaking out the whiskey and cigars in celebration.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Sunday Bunnies

If you think you're going anywhere before you give us treats, you have another thing coming.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Review of Down the Road: The Fall of Austin

Title:  Down the Road: The Fall of Austin

Author:  Bowie Ibarra

Publisher:  Permuted Press

Date: 2011

Pages: 246


Officer Mike Runyard of the Austin Police Department and his partner, Derek Tucker, are stuck in the middle of a city overrun by the living dead.  With resources and luck running out, Runyard is flung into a fight for survival among the living, the dead, and a wave of criminals released from jail into the streets of central and south Austin. 

I’ve been a fan of Bowie Ibarra ever since I read his first two zombie novels, Down the Road and Down the Road: On the Last Day.  I like Bowie because his books read at a brisk pace, his characters are well developed and believable, and his zombie carnage is first rate.  One reason his novels stand out is that the zombie outbreak not only signifies the end of civilization as we know it, but also the collapse of the social norms that bind us together.  When I read a Bowie Ibarra novel, I’m fascinated by characters who are not only scanning the path ahead for zombies, but are constantly looking over their shoulder to make certain they’re not about to be stabbed in the back.

With Down the Road: The Fall of Austin, Bowie again drops his readers right into the middle of a nightmare.

The novel centers around five groups of characters, most of whom range from barely likable to “I can’t wait to see that bastard get eaten alive.”  (NOTE:  That is not meant as criticism.  The deeply flawed nature of the characters makes them realistic.)  Mike Runyard who, thanks to his partner Derek Tucker, is wounded and has to fend for himself in a city crumbling around him.  Keri Lawrence, a junior high teacher with a broken heart of gold who is desperately trying to find a way to survive the apocalypse.  Hector Arana, the drug kingpin who escapes from prison during the outbreak and mobilizes a Hispanic gang that attempts to restore a perverse order to the streets of Austin.  And two groups of soldiers assigned to secure Austin from the living dead, one led by Sergeant Arnold whose team deserts rather than allow themselves to fall under a United Nations command exercising power over U.S. troops, and the other led by Sergeant Nickson whose team of miscreants hunt down their AWOL comrades with a sadistic glee.  As the situation rapidly deteriorates, each group winds up on separate paths that eventually cross during the apocalyptic climax.

Bowie delivers the goods in his third book in the series.  Not only is there considerable tension and intrigue as the characters try to survive the outbreak, but there is more than enough zombie action to satiate those of us who like gut-munching action.

Down the Road: The Fall of Austin is a zombie apocalypse at its best.  This book gets four out of five rotting zombie heads.