Archive for October, 2013

AWESOME-tober-fest 2013: Night of the Living Dead (1974) novelization and a shambling mob of other zombie novels

Posted in books, Genres, horror, monsters, movies, pop culture, zombies with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 24, 2013 by Paxton

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There are a lot of zombie novels out there. I can’t read and review them all, nor would I really want to. However, there are a few I read that I’ll quickly review for you in an opportunity to get them out there so you have other zombie books to read now that AWESOME-tober-fest 2013 has got you hot for zombies again.

Let’s begin with the novelization of the original Romero classic, Night of the Living Dead.

NOTLD novel
George Romero’s 1966 film, Night of the Living Dead, is a classic in the horror genre. While attending college in Pittsburgh in the 60s, George Romero and John Russo developed a horror script. They pitched it to a film company, received funding and created one of the most important genre-defining pictures of all time.  This book is the novelization of that script.  Surprisingly, the book wasn’t released until 1974, a clear six years after the release of the movie.  Which means that it wasn’t based on an original draft of the script, it was just a page one copy of the movie.  I didn’t realize that before I started reading.  So, if you’ve seen the movie, you’ve essentially read the book.  Except, the movie is actually better.  The book is slow and a LOT less interesting than the movie.  I don’t know if it’s the way Russo writes or what, but I had a hard time staying awake while reading plus there’s not really any new story information you get for reading.  You may as well just watch the movie again.

ROTLD novel
In 1978, after Russo and Romero went their separate ways, Russo decided to write a sequel to Night of the Living Dead.  He called it Return of the Living Dead.  This book has nothing to do with the 1985 horror comedy of the same name other than it inspired that movie.  Russo wanted this book to be the movie and wrote it as a screenplay, but Dan O’Bannon disliked Russo’s story and did a page 1 rewrite.  This book was Russo’s attempt to continue the story they began in Night of the Living Dead.  It’s boring, uninspired and will immediately put you into a reading coma before you finish the first page.  It’s not even worth reading as a novelty.  As a matter of fact, just skip both of these books.  Watch the original 1966 Night of the Living Dead movie and the 1985 Return of the Living Dead movie.  They are much more enjoyable and you’ll get more out of it.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies by Jane Austen and Seth Grahame-Smith – This is sort of the grandaddy of the outlandish classic fiction category that has become all the rage the last few years.  Stuff like Android Karenina, Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters and Queen Victoria: Demon Hunter all began with this book.  All the zombie/ninja embellishments were written by Seth Grahame-Smith who also wrote Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, that Johnny Depp Dark Shadows movie and he helped create and write the MTV TV show The Hard Times of RJ Berger.  I read this book several years ago.  It’s actually very entertaining.  I thought that the structure would be 1 chapter of Austen/1 chapter of Smith.  However, it isn’t.  Smith manages to deftly combine zombies and ninjas into every aspect of this story.  The lines have been blurred and it’s really hard to see where one story ends and the other begins.  It’s actually quite amazing how well this book works.  I can’t speak for the other quirky classic makeovers I mentioned, but at the very least, this deserves a read.  I think you’ll like it.  FYI, a prequel was written by another author called Dawn of the Dreadfuls, but I haven’t read it.

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AWESOME-tober-fest 2013: 5 comic covers that homage famous zombie movie posters

Posted in comic books, monsters, movies, pop culture, zombies with tags , , , , , , , , on October 23, 2013 by Paxton

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Earlier, I did an article where I talked about comic covers that homage famous movie posters. While writing that aricle I decided to hold back a few entries in anticipation of this article.

So, in honor of my Halloween zombie theme this year, here are some comic covers that specifically homage famous zombie movies of the past.

Marvel’s third Zombies mini-series (I covered the Marvel Zombies comic franchise earlier this month) featured covers that mimic old zombie posters.  Let’s take a look at those four covers.

Army of Darkness poster Marvel Zombies 3 #1
Marvel Zombies 3 #1 (right) homages the famous Army of Darkness poster (left).  Front and center on the comic is Machine Man who figures prominently into the story.

28 Days Later poster Marvel Zombies 3 #2
The cover to Marvel Zombies 3 #2 mimics the poster for 28 Days Later.

Evil Dead poster Marvel Zombies 3 #3
Marvel Zombies 3 #3 looks exactly like the original Evil Dead poster.

Shaun of the Dead Marvel Zombies 3 #4
Marvel Zombies 3 #4 mimics the great Shaun of the Dead poster.

Another Marvel series that homaged famous movie posters was Deadpool: Merc with a Mouth.  It homaged a lot of famous posters like Jaws, Silence of the Lambs, The Graduate, Scarface and even Pretty Woman.  See them here on Comic Vine.  Only issue #3 homages a zombie movie.

Dawn of the Dead Deadpool Merc with a Mouth #3
Deadpool: Merc with a Mouth #3 homages Romero’s Dawn of the Dead

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Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.

AWESOME-tober-fest 2013: House of Hammer magazine #13 (1977)

Posted in Genres, horror, magazine, movies, nostalgia with tags , , , , , , , on October 22, 2013 by Paxton

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Comic editor Dez Skinn had conceived of a horror fan magazine called Chiller.  He worked right next to the production offices of Hammer Studios, and after walking past the front door one day he decided to talk to Hammer about licensing their name to use on the magazine.  In the 70s, Hammer Studios was a giant in the horror movie industry.  Their Frankenstein and Dracula franchises were huge hits.  They thought this new Hammer fan magazine was a great idea.  They changed the name from Chiller to The House of Hammer.  The magazine covered new releases as well as old.  Originally it was only going to cover Hammer movies, but it became clear that there would not be enough content so they opened it up a little bit to cover new genre pictures currently in release.  Sort of a prototype Fangoria.  The first issue was published in 1976.

Personally, I’m a big fan of Hammer Studios.  Their gothic horror films are classics.  Especially, like I said, their classic Dracula series with Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing.

In October 1977, The House of Hammer #13 was released. House of Hammer #13 cover As you can see, the cover story was Hammer’s 1966 zombie flick, Plague of the Zombies. There was also a preview of Star Wars as it wouldn’t premier in Britain until Dec 1977. One of the cool things this magazine did was to feature comic adaptations of some of Hammer’s classic movies.  In this issue they adapt Plague of the Zombies.  It’s actually really well done.  The adaptation was written by Steve Moore with artwork by Trevor Goring and the awesome Brian Bolland of Killing Joke and Watchmen fame. Below are the first four pages.  The entire adaptation is about 13 pages, so you’ll have to click through to my Flickr set to see the entire thing.  If you click the first page below (with the movie title), you can read it full size on Flickr then just click the right arrow to move to page two.

Plague of Zombies pg 1 Plague of Zombies pg 2

Plague of Zombies pg 3 Plague of the Zombies pg 4

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AWESOME-tober-fest 2013: My Boyfriend’s Back (1993)

Posted in Halloween, holiday with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 21, 2013 by Paxton

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With all the mostly horror based zombie movies I’ve been covering this month, I thought I’d try a more comedy based zombie movie. I’ve never watched today’s movie. I remember it being released, but I never got around to watching it. Today’s little gem of a movie is My Boyfriend’s Back from 1993.


The movie is about a boy named Johnny who is in love with a childhood friend from school named Missy. One night, Johnny intervenes in a robbery and takes a bullet to save Missy’s life. Johnny soon returns from the grave as a zombie so he can escort Missy to prom, but he discovers that he’s slowly disintegrating and must eat human flesh to survive long enough to actually go to the prom.

That’s the helicopter view of the plot. There’s also some not-so-subtle commentary on tolerance of people that are different. But let’s first look at some of the stars of the movie. Johnny and Missy, the main characters, are played by relative newcomers (at the time). Neither are really known for anything else. However, Missy’s douchebag boyfriend and his neanderthal buddy are both played by very well known actors.

Check out an impossibly young Matthew Fox and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

mbb_001 mbb_003

At this time, Matthew Fox had only appeared in the TV shows Wings and Freshman Dorm (with Teen Witch‘s Robin Lively). It would be another year before he’d land Party of Five.  Hoffman had had small parts in Steve Martin’s Leap of Faith, Pacino’s Scent of a Woman and John Cusack’s Money for Nothing.  It’s fun seeing these guys in very early roles.  And don’t get me wrong, the roles are small.  Especially Hoffman’s.

Another famous face that pops up, in essentially a cameo, is Matthew McConaughey.  He’s in the theater scene taunting our hero Johnny.


Before this, McConaughey had only appeared in an episode of Unsolved Mysteries. This movie came out the same year as his breakout role in Dazed and Confused.  These are the most famous actors squirreled away in this movie.  Other notable appearances include Paul Dooley, Cloris Leachman, Austin Pendleton and Paxton Whitehead.

So, how’s the movie?  Honestly, it’s not very good.  A little too goofy.  A little too dumb.  The screenwriter, Dean Lorey, has written other stuff I liked like Major Payne and a bunch of the Season 4 Arrested Development episodes.  But this movie is not good.  It’s not garbage, but it’s not really good either, I’m sad to say.  I thought this would be a fun diversion from the other mostly horror zombies I’ve been covering but it’s sadly not a good distraction.

One bright spot is that the movie was sort of book ended with some cool comic art.  I’m not really sure what it had to do with the movie but the opening started off like you were reading a comic book called My Boyfriend’s Back.


The artwork is done by Tony Gleeson who has worked with Neal Adams’ studio and is still actively drawing today.  But again, I’m not really sure what it had to do with the story in the movie.  It’s not like Johnny collected comics in any obvious way.

So, no, I don’t really recommend this and I don’t really have any plans to watch it ever again.

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Also, check out the blog Countdown to Halloween for more Halloween-y, bloggy AWESOMEness.

AWESOME-tober-fest 2013: Peter Jackson’s Dead Alive (1992)

Posted in monsters, movies, nostalgia, pop culture, zombies with tags , , , , , , , , , on October 18, 2013 by Paxton

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Today I’m going to take a look at Peter Jackson’s 1992 cult zombie film, Dead Alive.

Dead Alive poster

Suprisingly, I’d never seen this movie before. I used to be a big gore hound in the late 80s. I’d heard of it at the time, but never had a chance to watch it.  I like Peter Jackson’s films for the most part. The first Peter Jackson movie I ever watched was probably The Frighteners with Michael J Fox and I loved it.  I even saw his ultra-cult hit Meet the Feebles.  So I’m a little behind the curve on this particular movie.  But with my zombie Halloween theme this year I thought this would be the perfect time to rectify this situation.  So I watched it.

And I didn’t just love it. Don’t get me wrong, there were some funny and weird moments that I enjoyed. I probably would have enjoyed this even more if I had watched it with a bunch of buddies and beer or had I watched it back in the 90s.  But, let’s not dwell on what I didn’t like, I’ll talk about some of the stuff I enjoyed.

I liked the leads well enough. Timothy Balme as Lionel was suitably awkward and Diana Peñalver was adorable and cute as Paquita. The crux of the story is an interesting origin for the zombie plague. It all starts with a rare mutant animal called a Sumatran Rat-Monkey that is created by plague rats raping tree monkeys. Yes, you read that right. One of these disgusting looking Rat-Monkeys is, mistakenly, I think, shipped to a zoo in New Zealand.


In New Zealand, awkward and nebish Lionel meets Paquita who fall in love, but Lionel’s overbearing mother disapproves.  While spying on the couple at the zoo, Lionel’s mother is bitten by the Rat-Monkey and turns into a flesh eating undead monster.  Everyone else thinks she dies, but Lionel secretly keeps her in his basement along with a live-in nurse who the mother also turned into a monster.  Soon, other victims become monsters and are put in the basement.  Eventually it gets out of hand when Lionel’s shady uncle shows up looking to get a share of Lionel’s inheritance.

That’s only like half the plot.  So much goes on that’s weird and nearly indescribable.  You really have to see it.

At one point, Lionel is attacked by a group of punks in the graveyard.  His mom attacks them, turns them into monsters and then a priest shows up and famously shouts, “I kick ass for the Lord” and uses karate to kick the monsters’ collective asses.  It’s a pretty great scene.

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