Thursday, August 30, 2012

Night of the Living Dead - Rise of the Flesh Eaters






When I started poking around the web, looking to see what others have said about this film, I was actually pretty surprised to find that there weren't as many reviews as I thought there would have been.  I fully expected a deluge of blog reviews and such, but going 7 pages into Google, I only found a handful of reviews.  Sure there are user reviews on Amazon and such, but there wasn't as much love going around for NOTLD as (I think) there should be.

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What can you say about a film as legendary as Night of the Living Dead?  Should I unload a bunch of random factoids on you?  I can do that.  But if you're reading this you probably already know that NOTLD was originally titled Night of Anubis and was George Romero's rip-off (his own words!) of Richard Matheson's I Am Legend?  What you may not know is that before settling on the "Anubis" script, Romero had co-written a couple of scripts with John Russo under the title Monster Flick.  The first script was about teenage aliens making friends with teenage humans.  Meh, doesn't sound that interesting....but then again in Romero's hands, it might have been amazing.  The second script was about a kid who runs away form home and discovers rotting human corpses that have been used as food by aliens spread across a meadow.  Now THAT sounds like it would have been full on incredible.  Just that one line description gives me the creeps.


I could rehash the plot for you, but honestly who doesn't know the plot?  Even those who have never seen it (for SHAME!) know the basics.  The dead are not staying dead.  They are re-animating and feasting on the living.  A small group of survivors hole up in a rural farmhouse and try to fend off the waves of the living dead that lay siege on them.



NOTLD treats zombies as they deserve to be:  like a force of nature.  When Ben first turns on the radio and hears the first reports of people being eaten, it still sends a chill down my spine.  I get goosebumps just thinking about the way it unfolds, the way the radio announcer states that the people being murdered are being partially eaten by their murderers.  Then to make things even worse we find out that this could all be connected to a satellite that was returning to Earth from Venus with some bizarre radiation.  I can very clearly remember the first time I watched NOTLD and thinking how horrible it was that radiation from outer space was the cause of this.  I think it adds a touch of xenophobia to the terror.  Sure, it's horrifying to put the cause of the zombies down to a virus.  Fear of horrible illness is huge.....but there was something that just terrified me in knowing that this was caused by something extra-terrestrial.  Maybe it's because aliens just freak me out anyway......



I should also point out (which many already know) that the living dead in NOTLD are never called zombies. In fact that are called ghouls.  Never the less, it was this film that single-handedly not only created a new genre of film, but created a brand new movie monster.  That's really saying something.  Think about it...in the horror genre, there are many monsters....but there are only so many TYPES.   Vampires, Mummies, Aliens, Beasts, Ghosts, Robots, etc.  Until NOTLD, there was no Zombie category.  Sure there were films such as White Zombie, I Walked With A Zombie, etc, but those films dealt with Voodoo zombies and the "monster" of the film was usually the person controlling the zombies.  But with Night, we now had a completely new monster.  A rotting, flesh eating ghoul that may look like your dearly departed Aunt Alisha.....but man, she will rip you up and tear you apart, munching on your innards.



The original title of the film was Night of the Flesh Eaters.  Distributor Walter Reade decided to change the title to Night of the Living Dead.  Unfortunately when this was done and the title cards were changed in the prints, a copyright notification was never put it, placing NOTLD into the public domain.  While this was horrible for Romero and gang as far as receiving compensation for their film, it definitely helped to spread NOTLD to the masses.  It is currently the 2nd most downloaded film from the Internet Archives.  According to Amazon.com there have been 51 VHS releases, 168 DVD releases and 6  Blu-ray releases.  That's 226 different releases of the film all together.  Of course I'm not sure that includes double feature VHS tapes and DVD box sets....I got that last bit of info from Wikipedia....and we all know how reliable THAT is!



I can't even begin to stress how important this film is, not only for me personally, but for the art of cinema as well.  Night of the Living Dead has literally changed the face of horror.  It certainly wasn't the first film to depict graphic violence.....H.G. Lewis had unleashed Blood Feast on the world five years earlier, but I think it was the first film to depict it so realistically.  The blood wasn't the bright red candy colored blood of the Hammer films.  Okay the blood was actually chocolate syrup, but you'd never know that watching the movie!  The point is, NOTLD made movies unsafe.  It made the horror plausible and horror would never be the same again.



I could probably continue writing all night long about Night of the Living Dead.  I love this film.  I've seen it more times than I could possibly count.  It not only birthed a new monster and genre of movies, but created a whole culture.  It has been referenced in more than 400 movies and TV shows and who knows how many books, magazines, newspapers, etc.   The point being....NOTLD is a priceless piece of cinema and every single living human on Earth should watch it.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Fix The Evans City Chapel



I have come across what I feel to be an extremely important cause for the horror and cinema community.  The Evans City Cemetery Chapel is an icon that was featured in the opening scenes of Night of the Living Dead.  Unfortunately it not sits in a bad state of disrepair.  If we cannot restore it, it WILL be torn down.

Gary Streiner, who worked on the film, has launched a campaign to restore the chapel before this piece of history is gone forever.  I wish that I had known about this sooner, but better late than never, I suppose.

After speaking with Mr. Streiner, I am going to be launching a fundraiser here in my hometown of Worcester, MA.  The plan is to screen the film for the public and raise awareness and funds for the chapel.  This is still in the planning stages, but there will be more information to come!

SAVE THE CHAPEL!

The Chapel as it appeared in the film

Gary Streiner stands in front of the chapel as it appears now.


You can visit the official website here:  http://www.fixthechapel.com/

And you join the fight for the chapel on it's Facebook community here:
http://www.facebook.com/groups/savethechapel/


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Get a Double Dose of Debbie Rochon!

So you Spent the Holidays with Debbie Rochon, eh?  Good for you!  Christmas came and went and it was everything you had hoped for.  You read your copy of Scream Queens Illustrated and your Toxie issue of Cracked front to back over and over again.  Your Santa Claws trading cards are your pride and joy and you still wear your signed Santa's Cap even though it's August.

I get it.  You're trying to hold onto that special "Debbie Feeling".  

Well, my friend, I've got great news for you!

The lovely Ms. Rochon is at it again, this time offering you a double DVD dose of demented debauchery!  Whew!  That was a tongue twister!

Check out what the Divine Debbie is offering you this time around!



Not that you need convincing, but here's the trailer for Dead & Rotting!


And of course the trailer for Dr. Horror's Erotic House of Idiots!  


Both DVD's plus a mystery T-Shirt and collectable one sheets all autographed!!!
Go ahead and treat yourself and get your Dose of Debbie now!




Killer Schoolgirls From Outer Space Preview

Soon, I will be reviewing an indie film called Killer School Girls From Outer Space and chatting with the film's writer/director Alexander Shumake.  I'm pretty excited about this and YOU should be too!

Here's a trailer to whet your appetite for some B-movie sci-fi madness!


Don't Touch That Dial!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Fathers Day Packaging Review

Attention filmmakers and distributors:  THIS is how you present a package!  First off, the box art is easily the coolest I've seen since Hobo With A Shotgun....except they took it a step further and added the very cool "round stickers" that were so prevalent in the 80's Mom & Pop video stores.


This four disc special edition is a limited run of 5,000 or which mine is number 2,163.  Which if you add up the digits individually, they equal 9.  9 divided by 3 is 3.  Which means that 3 x 3  is nine.  Or another way to do the same math is 3 + 3 +3.  333!  If you double 3, you get six, which would equal 666!!!  HOLY HELL!  And of course 6 + 6 + 6 = 18....which has nothing to do with anything!



The photos above are of the outer protective cardboard sleeve.  The inner artwork is also pretty 80's-tastic!



I just can't say enough about the amazing packaging.  Waves of nostalgia washed over me as I opened the package layer by layer.




I am also highly appreciative of the inside case design.  There is nothing that I hate more than when I have to remove a disc to get another disc out.  I don't want to handle the discs more than I have to....I like to keep everything looking shiny and new!  The discs themselves are very nicely printed and I like the fact that they all have different artwork on them so you can easily tell them apart.  The absolute coolest addition to the package is the CD that is included called An Evening With Smokey Miles.  I gave this a listen in the jeep this evening and it's quite possibly the GREATEST CD EVER!!!!  The track entitled We Are The Universe is like a combination of White Lion, Scorpion and Dokken all rolled into one amazingly awesome track.  Okay, that's it....I'm going to have to do a review of the CD.  It's THAT good.




So, I was originally going to have a review of Father's Day up today, but I'm still trying to wrap my head around the insanity.  So perhaps tomorrow night.  Meantime, I hope that you've enjoyed this look at the packaging and I hope that you've ordered yourself a copy of this limited edition.  It is WELL worth the price! 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Rock & Shock coming October 12 - 14 2012

It's been a brutal summer here in New England...the heat and humidity have been absolutely nuts.  I'm ready for the fall to embrace me with it's cooling coolie coolness. I long to smell the crisp autumn air as I take my jeep out for a drive with the top down, looking at the leaves that have turned brilliant hues of orange, yellow, red and every color in between.  I can't wait to sink my teeth into a candy apple....and of course most of all.....I can't wait for Halloween!

There's already displays starting to be put up in stores (which honestly....I wouldn't mind if they waited a bit longer.....maybe at least untill AFTER Labor Day......remember the good old days when there weren't Christmas store displays in September?  Ah well.  Anyway......not only does October bring Halloween and my wedding anniversary, but it also brings Rock & Shock to Worcester.

For those who do not know, Rock & Shock is a three day horror convention/concert.  During the day you can meet your favorite horror celebrities at the DCU Center, stroll along and visit the many vendors, get a tattoo.....your standard convention fun!  Then at night, it's off to The Palladium to rock out with a great line up of bands.  It's a pretty fantastic experience and I highly recommend you start planning your trip to Central Mass to come join the fun.

This year is shaping up to be pretty amazingly awesome.  The guest list below is (of course) subject to change and there will be more celebrities added as time goes on (and usually one or two disappear due to scheduling conflicts, etc) but this is a pretty damn exciting list so far!




The Misfits will be the headliners on Friday, October 12th
As for the concerts, Rock & Shock just announced that GWAR, Cancer Bats, DevilDriver and Legacy of Disorder will be appearing on Saturday October 13th.



I sadly missed last years Rock & Shock due to prior obligations, so I am very excited for this year! Hope you see you there!

Monday, August 20, 2012

Fangoria Scream Greats #18 - Creepshow

A water-logged Zombie Becky from the "Something To Tide You Over" segment!  

Fangoria Scream Greats #17 - Silent Night, Deadly Night



I dunno....this one is okay, I guess....but I don't really think it's poster material.  I would have preferred a poster of Bill Chapman in Santa Garb brandishing a weapon..... 

Fangoria Scream Greats #16 - Motel Hell



Oh yeah, this one is for my buddy Paul!   Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you
THE CHAINSAW PIG!

Fangoria Scream Greats #14



Ah yes, who can forget the first time ya saw this bugger jumping out at you in glorious red and blue  anaglyph 3D!!!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Fangoria Posters - Scream Greats #11 - The Brood

Well, as it so happens, I forgot to take into account some missing issues......so here we go with Scream Greats #11!!

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Fangoria Posters - Scream Greats #1 - The Incredible Melting Man

Okay so, I have some posters missing, Issue #5 is the last of the quad-folded pages I have (to be perfectly honest I'm not sure exactly how many more issues were supposed to have the quad posters.  However the Scream Great posters start with Issue #26.  So we're gonna go ahead and jump into the double/triple folded Scream Great posters for now, starting with #1  The Incredible Melting Man!

I'm not sure if I have all of the Scream Great posters.....but I'm pretty sure I do.....or at least most of them.....but I will keep cranking out all the ones I have!


Fangoria Poster #5



This one is a bit on the different side.  See back in the day, Fango used to run a section called FantasticArt.  In Issue #5, they ran a whole poster book that was stapled into the center.  The poster book was called The Legendary World of Faeries.  It contained several pieces, but the centerpiece was this quite beautiful piece, which is quite different from the usual.

As a bonus, here's the cover of said Poster Book:


Fangoria Poster #4


Hell yeah!  It's Gaiking from the excellent anime Demon Dragon of the Heavens Gaiking
 (大空魔竜ガイキング Daikū Maryū Gaikingu)


It was also shown in America as part of Force Five.


Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Prank Caller by Ken Stroebel

This is a bit of dark poetry that appeared in Issue #9 of Fangoria.  I thought it was quite good, so I wanted to share it with you.  If anyone out there knows who Ken Stroebel from Merril, MI is, please let me know!  I'd love to chat with him.

"A body, A body!"
  The voice cried in vain,
Out on your lawn,
  In the cold pouring rain."

A morning search showed
  No sign of the dead
"Twas a prank caller indeed,"
  The angered man said.

The phone rang again
  The next morning at three,
The same eerie caller,
  The same eerie plea;

"A body!  A body!"
  The voice cried in vain,
"Out on your lawn,
  In the cold pouring rain."

"Now look here," he said
  "This calling must cease!
If it happens again,
  I shall phone the police!"

For days it continued,
  Each morning at three
The eerie voice groaning
  The same eerie plea;

"A body!  A body!"
  The voice cried in vain,
"Out on your lawn,
  In the cold pouring rain."

The ninth time it happened
  The man went insane,
He threw down the phone
  And ran out in the rain.

Across the green lawn,
  Out into the road,
Shouting and screaming
  In the wet morning cold.

"There's no body here!
  Now leave me alone!
Stay out of my life
  And stay off of my phone!"

Around the dark corner
  The speeding car came.
It flew out of nowhere
  And went just the same.

It shattered his bones
  With thrift and with flair.
It hurled his limp body
  High into the air.

In the silence of dawn
  He lay in the rain
Ready to die,
  Writhing in pain.

He could hear someone speaking;
  He remembered to phone.
From inside the house
  He heard someone groan;

"A body!  A body!"
  The voice cried in vain,
"Out on your lawn,
  In the cold pouring rain."

Feeders (1996)

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Yup....this is gonna be GOOD!
There have been many famous siblings throughout cinematic history.....The Baldwin Brothers, Emilio and Charlie, The Bridges Brothers, Joan and John Cusack, etc.   However, there is one family name in particular that really gets my blood pumping:  The Polonia Brothers.  Mark and John Polonia are the SOV masterminds who created the 1987 epic Splatter Farm and had been making no budget flicks right up until John's untimely death in 2008.

It's one of them thar flyin' saucers!
Back in 1996, The Brothers Polonia, collaborating with Cannibal Campout director Jon McBride, unleashed their Sci-Fi masterpiece, Feeders.  Shot for about $500, the wrote, directed and John and Jon starred in the tale of an invasion of aliens hungry for human flesh.  The story follows friends Derek (McBride) and Bennett (Polonia) as they embark on a road trip to The Ocean.  Yep, apparently they aren't going to the beach....they're headed straight to The Ocean.  Once there, it's Bennett intention to get down and busy with bikini clad beach babes.  Derek is more interested in photography and taking pictures of their trip.

Our Intrepid "Heroes"
The aliens waste no time and beam down about 5 minutes in.  Then there's about 15 minutes of footage of the aliens stalking a fisherman and such.  The POV shots from the alien's perspective is done in negative......which is a slightly annoying effect, but it does add a little bit of a creep factor to it.  The aliens themselves are absolutely hysterical!  There are two of them (well, two puppets....I'm not sure how many aliens are supposed to be running around...because they are all represented by the same two puppets!) and they are both equally craptastic.  They kinda look like muppet versions of the common descriptions of "Greys".  Even better...they have non-moving mouths....which is a bit ironic because they're FEEDERS.....just saying.
Alien Flesh Eaters!

Run for your lives!
 Passing through town and stopping at a gas station, Bennett puts the ol' charm on and talks one of the local girls into calling up her friend for a little double date action.  This scene is friggin hilarious to me because Bennett is such a horndog.  Derek goes into the store to buy more batteries and film and when he comes out, Bennett tells him about their pending double date.  Derek seems less than thrilled.  Apparently this isn't the first time ol' Bennett has been consorting with the locals.  I don't know why, but the scene cracks me the hell up.  So much so that I've decided to let you watch it yourself.  You're welcome.

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See?  That was some amazing acting there, wasn't it?  You should see the phone call scene between Donna and Michele (the boy's potential "dates").  It's one of the best "bad acting" scenes I've ever laid witness too!  Pure awesome-sauce!

Well, our boys are on their way to set up their campsite when they hit the fisherman from earlier with their car.  Being the Good Samaritans that they are, they check on him to make sure he's okay.  "What if he's still alive?"  Bennett asks.  What indeed.  The answer?  Bring him to the nearest doctor's office!  Not a hospital....not an emergency room....nope.....a doctors office.  Cause bringing him to the family physician is definitely gonna be the best place for him to get care!  Anyway, the guy is mumbling about "little men" as the boys manhandle him and shove him into the backseat of their convertible.....head first of course!

Girls????
Sadly, Mr. Fisherman doesn't make it.  Apparently this is no big deal because the doctor tells them that they have to fill out some paperwork....next thing ya know they're back on their way.....no worse for the wear.  They decide to set up camp and wait for the girls to arrive.  Oh yeah, that's actually not going to happen because they've been "eaten" by aliens.

Well once out in the woods, Bennett and Derek stumble across a decapitated head.  Skin's gone....eyes still in sockets....top of the skull is gone but the brain is apparently mostly intact.  It's hilarious!  One of the few gore effects in the film.  An alien springs up and attacks out heroes.  It spits acid at them and burns Derek's hand.  They boys run back to the car, but it's dead, so they start to run.

Really?  The Feeders didn't eat the eyes?  That's the best part!

They come across an isolated house where all the residents have already been murdered by the invading forces of flesh munching aliens.  The fellas check the house out for other extraterrestrial intruders and then huddle up and try to form a plan.   That's when the UFO settles over the house and the "climax" of the film takes place.  I won't tell you what happens, but I will tell you that it is nothing short of pure cinematic cheese of the highest degree.

At least she still has her hair!

I have to give The Polonia Bros. and Jon McBridge credit.  Not only did they make a fun SOV sci-fi/horror flick and do it Guerrilla style (for instance filming at that gas station without permission.....or Jon McBride running down a quiet suburban street at 5 in the morning yelling about aliens) but they also managed to get their film distributed through Blockbuster Video.  This largely had to do with the fact that Independence Day was a huge hit and Blockbuster wanted an alien invasion film to cash in on it's success and in turn found quite a bit of success in it's own right through rentals.

This movie has a certain something.  A certain charm.....a certain Je ne sais quoi.  There's a feeling a fun that permeates the film.  Even better, if you happen to have the Double Feature DVD (it includes Feeders II: Slay Bells...YES!) like I do, then you also get some great interviews with both brothers as well as McBride.  I loved the story that McBride tells about his excitement for the UFO interior scenes only to find that the set was simply some aluminum foil placed on the ground.  If you are an aspiring filmmaker, then you need to watch these interviews AND these films for inspiration.

"Holy shit, we got picked up by Blockbuster!!!"

I will be reviewing Feeders II:  Slay Bells a little closer to Christmas, because it is now one of my all time favorite Christmas themed movies!  Four words for ya:  Santa Kicking Alien Ass!!!  Until then, you need to track down this movie.  It may not be easy if you are looking to own it (and you SHOULD) because the DVD is now OOP, but you can rent them from Blockbuster Online and Netflix.  You can still find VHS and DVD copies on E-bay and Amazon, but sometimes they can get a bit pricey.  At any rate, if you love SOV cheese-fests then you need to do yourself a favor and watch FEEDERS!



Thursday, August 9, 2012

The Twilight Zone - Episode 5 - Walking Distance

I, like many others I'm sure, have spent time day dreaming about the past.  Wishing that somehow I could go back again to those lazy summer afternoons of my childhood.  My biggest worry was what game to play with my friends or what toy I would play with next.  Mom would call us in for dinner and then it was back outside until dusk.  There were no worries and everything seemed right in the world.  The truth is you can't go back and you will not find happiness in the past.  This message was never more clear to me than in this episode.

Martin Sloane (Gig Young) is driving through the country and stops in at a gas station to get his car serviced. He is near his childhood hometown of Homewood....in fact it's within (wait for it) walking distance!  Martin decides to take a visit and walks to town.  Upon his arrival, he discovers that everything looks just as it did when he was a boy.

He goes to the drug store and is surprised to find that the owner, Mr.Wilson (Patrick O'Malley) , whom he remembered as being dead, is alive and well.  He walks to the park and see's himself as a boy.  He follows is Young Martin (Michael Montgomery) to his childhood home and meets his parents.....exactly as they were when he was a boy.  He tries to tell them that he is their son, all grown up, but needless to say that doesn't exactly go over well.


Martin goes back to the park and see's his younger self on a merry-go-round.  He tries to talk to the boy and (surprise, surprise) freaks the kid out to.  Young Martin falls off the merry-go-round and hurts his leg.  You know as I write this, I can't help but think of how bizarre that really is.  First of all, any guy trying to talk to kids on a merry-go-round could be seen as creepy and, well, pedophile-like.  Now talk the pedophile connotation (of which there are none in the show.....this is just my warped mind at work) and add in the factor that he is creeping out a younger version of himself.  That's just warped!  That would make a pretty wicked movie wouldn't it?  A pedophile who targets a young boy and molests him, only to find out that he IS the young boy that he molested and the molestation is what fucks him up as a kid and turns him into a pedophile!!!!!!!  HOLY SHIT I JUST BLEW MY OWN MIND!


Okay....so now that I totally went off on a sick and twisted tangent, back to the actual story.  Martin talks with his father again, who now believes him because he saw future dated money in his wallet.  His father gives him a bit of a pep talk, telling him basically to stop living in the past and look to the present for happiness.  Martin then finds himself back in the present day and walks back to his car (now with a limp!) and drives off into the sunset so to speak.

I love this episode.  It speaks volumes to me.  As I mentioned above, I've wished that I could go back and be a kid again.  I've longed to go back in time and feel the freedom of no responsibilities.  When I would get upset that I couldn't do something that the big kids were doing, my mother would always say to me "Don't be in a rush to grow up, you can only be a child once."  While my wife may make the argument that mentally, I still remain a child (and it's true...I'm a giant man-child and proud of it, damnit!), your childhood does slip away from you faster every year until one day you wake up and you're in your 30's.

Wow, we went deep this time, didn't we?  We dealt with psychological issues, pedophiles who diddly their younger selves, personal happiness, nostalgia.....this was just jam packed with goodness.  But like all good things, it must come to an end and so I leave you with:

Midnight Factoids:

- Originally aired October 30th, 1959
- Bernard Herrmann (he composed the iconic Psycho music) composed the score for this episode.
- Time Magazine listed this episode as the ninth best of the whole series.
- This is J.J. Abrams (Super 8, Star Trek) favorite episode.  In his film Super 8, the military launches an operation code named Walking Distance.


Phantoms from the Celluloid Crypt:

Gig Young -starred in the 1967 shocker The Shuttered Room.  He also appeared in the Kraft Suspense Theater episode "The End of the World, Baby" and The Alfred Hitchcock Hour episode "A Piece of the Action."

Patrick O'Malley - also appeared in the Twilight Zone episodes "Static" and "Back There".  Keep an eye out for him as The Baggage Man in the original 1956 Invasion of the Body Snatchers.  His filmography is quite extensive....he took and unaccredited role in The Phantom Creeps (AMI Cheif in Chapter 12) and even appeared in the 1916 version of The Picture of Dorian Gray as Sybil Vane.  All in all he has 419 film acting credits to his name!