Thursday, July 29, 2010

Never Put Off Until Tomorrow What You Could Have Written Today

I have not done as much revising this week of The Vampire Hunters: Dominion as I had originally planned.  I've been exhausted and have not had the mental energy to write.  I hope to get things into gear this weekend. 

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sunday Bunnies

Forage for greens?  In this heat?  Screw that.  We'll just stay inside and watch Animal Planet instead. 

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Three Days of the Dead, Part II

The second day of the Dead series was dedicated to Dawn of the Dead.  For this panel, the speakers were Tom Savini, the make-up effects guru for the movie who also appeared as one of the biker gang members, and four of the more famous zombies from the movie.  With Romero's niche in the industry now safely filled, the guerilla film making could be abandoned for a bigger budget picture.  Rather than use an old farmhouse about to be torn down and renovated, as Romero did in Night, this time he got permission to use the Monroeville Mall just east of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, the first indoor mall in the country.  But even fame and fortune had its limitations, because the cast and crew needed to vacate the location before the mall before opened in the morning.  Savini noted that they were usually out by seven AM because that was when the mall's muzak system turned on, and because senior citizens used the mall for their morning walks.  According to the panel, no seniors suffered heart attacks after stumbling across a pack of rampaging zombies, but several did come back to make cameos as the living dead.  (The Monroeville Mall is still in existence, but has been heavily renovated since Dawn was made in 1978 and is no longer recognizable with the movie; however, there is a zombie museum on the premises.)

Cast members from Dawn of the Dead, from left to right : Tom Savini (make-up guru and biker gang member); Jim Krut (helicopter zombie); Leonard A. Lies (machete zombie); Sharon Ceccatti (nurse zombie); and Mike Christopher (Hare Krishna zombie)

Mike Christopher hamming it up for the fans.

Day three was dedicated to the Day of the Dead.  I have to admit that for years this was my least favorite of the original Romero trilogy -- until I sat in on the panel.  Listening to the actors discuss the movie and their interpretation of their characters was eye opening.  This movie is much more than just a film about the zombie apocalypse and the total collapse of society.  As described by the actors, the movie is also about each person's ability (or inability) to cope.  Gary Klar, who played the bully Private Steel, discussed a nuance that I had never noticed before.  Throughout the movie he's the muscle man for the military unit, threatening the civilians in almost every reel and venting his anger on the zombies, whom he despises with a vehemence bordering on irrational, until you feel his character has no redeeming quality.  But in his final moments on screen, when he's about to be overrun by zombies and opts to take his own life rather than come back as one of them, Steel crosses himself with his pistol before eating a bullet, an act of religious piety hinting that maybe this man was once a descent guy in the pre-zombie days.  (On a personal note, Gary is one of the nicest guys you can meet at these conventions.  We had a sidebar discussion after the panel during which, after he learned about my own aspirations in the genre, he offered some unsolicited nut much appreciated support.)

Cast members from Day of the Dead, from left to right: Michael Gornick (cinematographer), Terry Alexander (John), Gary Klar (Private Steel), and Joe Pilato (Captain Rhodes).

A reproduction of the Dr. Tongue zombie from Day of the Dead on display in the exhibit room.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Three Days of the Living Dead

As you know, two weekends ago I went to Indianapolis for the Famous Monsters of Filmland Convention.  The main attraction for me was the reunion of some of the cast members of the first three George Romero Dead movies. 

The highlight was listening to the Night of the Living Dead panel discussion with several of the actors from the movie.  (Watching a Bluray version of Night played on a theater-style screen came in a close second).  The production of Night was guerilla film making at its most basic.  Most of the cast were friends or colleagues of George Romero.  Several of the main actors did double duty as crew members.  (For example, Marilyn Eastman, who played Helen Cooper, also served as make-up director for the movie.)  And most of the zombies and posse members were locals who thought it would be fun to play a bit part in the movie.  (For anyone who wants to see a great documentary on the making of Night, purchase a copy of Autopsy of the Dead.  This two-hour documentary contains interviews with dozens of individuals involved with the making of the movie, including the personal accounts of zombies and posse members.  Kyra Schon's interview is conducted in the basement of Romero's production studio, which also served as the basement of the farmhouse where Karen Cooper turns and attacks her mother.)

What really came across, however, was that no one involved in making Night ever imagined at the time the impact the movie would have.  There was no zombie genre until Night came along.  Everyone of us who makes a living in the business today, or enjoys a good zombie novel/movie, owes a huge debt of thanks to Romero.  And there are two generations of film makers who saw Night, were inspired by what Romero could do on a shoestring budget, and went out to start their own film careers.  For a cheap little movie that barely got theater time when it first came out and was often relegated to drive-in fare, and which then thrilled many a Monster Kid when run on late night TV (usually as the weekend movie of our favorite horror movie host), its impact has been historic.  To myself and most of those who attended the convention, we were there to meet true legends.

The cast of the original Night of the Living Dead.  Seated from left to right are Charles Craig (the TV announcer); Judith Odea (Barbra); Kyra Schon (Karen Cooper); Bill Hinzman (the cemetery zombie); George Kosana (Sheriff McClelland), Russ Streiner (Johnny); and John Russo (co-writer). 

Kyra (Kareen Cooper) Schon, me, and Bill (cemetery zombie) Hinzman. (No, I'm not in zombie make-up.)

Judith (Barbra) Odea, me, and Russ (Johnny) Streiner.

Me and George (Sheriff McClelland) Kosana.

(To be continued in a later blog.)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

I Just Had to Post This

I'm still preparing my blog on the Famous Monster of Filmland Convention, but found the below on Wicked Zombies and just had to post it.  Enjoy.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Sunday Bunnies

The real reason why I got a lot done on my novel this weekend.  ("Well, I think we can get another two or three chapters proofed before supper.  What do you think, human?")

I Had a Productive Weekend

I just finished proofing The Vampire Hunters: Vampyrnomicon and sent the manuscript back to Shadowfire Press. The e-book comes out 20 August.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Quick Note on the Famous Monsters of Filmland Convention

As you know, I spent the last weekend in Indianapolis at the Famous Monsters of Filmland Convention.  It was a special event to kick off the republication of Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine, which was the Holy Grail of magazines for us Monster Kids.  The convention was appropriately spectacular for such an event.  A huge thanks to FMoF publisher Phil Kim and his entire staff for both setting up the convention and for bringing the icon of monster mags back to the bookstores. (For anyone who has no idea what I'm talking about, check out the history of FMoF.)

The main attraction for me was the three Dead reunions -- some of the cast and crew from Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead, and Day of the Dead were in attendance.  It was such a pleasure meeting these people.  The panel discussions when they all related their stories of the making of the movies were fascinating.  After each panel, the movie was shown on a large screen as if you were seeing it in a movie theater.  Now that was awesome.

I also spent an interesting morning watching two recent pilots for the reimaging of Irwin Allen's Time Tunnel and Lost in SpaceTime Tunnel was fantastic, and in my opinion rivaled Battlestar Galactica for quality and plot.  Unfortunately, these series will not see the light of day for awhile.  CBS wanted to pick up Time Tunnel for showing, but Fox TV had the right of first rejection, bought the pilot, and then decided to air instead a show they thought would be a bigger hit -- Firefly.  Keep your fingers crossed that persistence pays off, because the new Time Tunnel would be a hit.

And finally, I watched the screening and had a nice talk with Gayle Gallagher (producer) and Wyatt Weed (director) of the upcoming vampire movie Shadowland.  It's not your traditional blood-and-fangs vampire movie, but is more of a vampire love story (without the tweens and glitter).  It's definitely worth checking out.

That's the highlights.  I plan to post some pictures from the convention this weekend when I have more time.  Until then, I'm devouring my new issues of FMoF and looking forward to next year's convention.

Update on The Vampire Hunters: Vampyrnomicon

I am halfway through proofing The Vampire Hunters: Vampyrnomicon.  I hope to finish it up early next week and get it back to Shadowfire Press for its 20 August 2010 release.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Sunday Bunnies

Daddy went away for the weekend and is having fun without us.  We are not happy.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Tomorrow I Become a Monster Kid Again

At least for the weekend.  I'm heading off tomorrow for the Famous Monsters Of Filmland Convention in Indianapolis.  For me, the main attraction is the Night of the Living Dead and the Return of the Living Dead reunions.  I plan on enjoying every minute of it.  It's been years since I've been able to make it to a convention.  Hopefully I'll have some cool photos to post on Monday. 

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Sunday Bunnies

After a long day of eating, watching fireworks, and eating some more, there's nothing like cuddling up against the one you love and taking a nap. 

Happy 4th of July

During the cookouts and family gatherings and firework displays today, please take a moment to remember the men and women, civilian and military, who are away from their families preserving our independence.  Freedom is not free.  Thankfully they're willing to pay the cost.

Uncle Sam Wants.... Your Brains

Friday, July 2, 2010

Cocoa Is Doing Much Better

It's been two days since Cocoa's operation and he's almost back to normal.  He's eating and drinking more each day, and he acts likes his old self (which means whenever I'm around all he wants to do is be petted).  The right side of his face looks like he's audtioning for a roll in Night of the Hopping Dead, but that will heal soon.  So this weekend I'm taking it easy, taking care of my convalescing rabbit, and getting caught up on my reading/writing/blogging/horror movie watching.  A great holiday weekend to everyone.