Thursday, March 30, 2006

Raise your own undead army


Yes, instructions to make the necronomicon and more at Raven's blight. They've got tons of undead projects ready to print out. What nice ghouls.

I also recommend browsing their arcade

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Monday, March 27, 2006

Lovecraft's Reanimator: The Foretelling of a Sub-Genre

Image hosting by Photobucket

My embarrassing horror-geek confession to you, dear reader, is that I have never really read Lovecraft. I know, I know. It goes against everything logical. I’m supposed to be a huge fan of King, possibly a loyal fan of Barker, and most certainly an obsessive Lovecraft fan—an obsession I should have started cultivating since at least junior high. I actually knew this at about that time, and I gave Lovecraft a shot. Whatever the reason, he didn’t take, and I didn’t pick him up again until a couple of years later, when I was turned on to the Herbert West – Reanimator stories. I don’t recall what my reaction was at the time was, except that I, of course, loved the movie. I’m happy to say that this month’s topic here at The Zombie Blog has prompted me to re-read the stories. I couldn’t be happier with the timing; after years of loving and getting to thoroughly know the zombie sub-genre, and having been around long enough to witness certain arcs and dips in its history, I’m glad to have this perspective when re-evaluating these stories anew.

Image hosting by Photobucket

The Herbert West – Reanimator stories were originally published in 1922, in Homebrew magazine, under the title of “Grewsome Tales.” Seabrook’s The Magic Island was still seven years away from introducing the Haitian zombie to Hollywood in 1929, and White Zombie was still ten years away from introducing this same zombie type to filmic audiences. This is extremely interesting in the sense that, I believe, after reading Lovecraft’s undead contribution, these six stories indeed encapsulate the entire history of the zombie film sub-genre—from their humble beginnings right up to the very present. They even usurp Mr. Romero of the much-claimed title of the man who introduced cannibalism to the zombie mythos.

In Story I, From the Dark, the quivering, screaming result of West’s scientific trial exhibits only rudimentary memory—and not even of its past life. West and his assistant, the narrator (whose name we never know, but who we come to know as Dan Cain in the films), undertake the reanimating experiment, and it ends in what they perceive as failure. When they go to another room of their secluded farmhouse to concoct another batch of the reanimating fluid (assumed to be faulty), a ghastly scream is heard, which frightens them into abandoning the farmhouse. The following day, they read in the paper, in two separate articles, that the farmhouse had been burnt to the ground and the grave out of which they retrieved the poor soul bore evidence of a failed attempted to crawl back in. Who knows how the farmhouse burnt down, but the fact that this monster obviously tried to find its way back into its own grave leads one to believe that it retained some kind of memory. It’s true that there’s no logical sense to this at all. One could understand memories of the previous existence, but from death until reanimation, there would be no way to it to form memories. Hence, how did it know where its own grave was? Nevertheless, this can be used as an example of some kind of conscious activity, which even Madge Bellamy is able to exhibit towards the end of White Zombie. Here we have the start of the zombie in film.

Image hosting by Photobucket

Story II, The Plague-Demon, is where Romero’s critical claim to cannibalism is toppled. West and company are at it again, during an epidemic which kills Dean Halsey, of the now infamous Miskatonic University. Of course he is reanimated, and the result is his mindless murderous rampage (a rage reminiscent of the 28 Days Later “infected”), killing many people…and eating them. It’s mentioned ever-so briefly: “It had not left behind quite all that it had attacked, for sometimes it had been hungry.” This single line is so subtle it’s as if a meaningless side note—Lovecraft could never have known what an integral piece of the sub-genre this would come to be, let alone have any inkling that there would be an undead movement at all! Halsey’s zombie form is merely a ravaging automaton, killing instinctually, for seemingly no real reason, and only eating its victims when it felt like it—when it was hungry.

Image hosting by PhotobucketImage hosting by Photobucket

This is repeated in Story III, Six Shots by Moonlight. Here the revitalizing duo have brought back Buck Robinson, aka “The Harlem Smoke”, who was accidentally killed during an illegal boxing match. Of course, his corpse doesn’t respond soon enough and he’s discarded as a failure, and buried in a shallow grave. Later, an Italian family is missing a small boy and all hell breaks loose. Somewhat predictably, this third zombie edition shows up rattling at the back door, with the boys arm in its mouth, suggesting the fiend had feasted on him. He is, of course, shot six times by West. These last two tales have brought the zombie up quickly from White Zombie in 1932 to Romero’s Night of the Living Dead in 1968, which is quite a jump. The missing years are negligible though, considering how forgettable most zombie films were in between.

Image hosting by Photobucket

Stories VI and V take up where Night left off in the evolution of the zombie, just as Dawn of the Dead and then Day of the Dead did. The zombies are learning, or at least, they are exhibiting some specific signs of memory. In both cases, the first thing the newly undead creatures find themselves doing is screaming in reaction to something that happened the moment they died. Story VI, The Scream of the Dead, the zombie exclaims “Help! Keep off, you cursed little tow-head fiend – keep that damned needle away from me!” Of course, the tow-head fiend is West, and he’s been up to no good, much to the horror of his assistant. In Story V, The Horror from the Shadows, the reanimation victim, Major Sir Eric Moreland Clapham- Lee, was nearly decapitated (a job that was finished once West and friend got a hold of him) when his helicopter, piloted by Lieutenant Ronald Hill, crashes during the Great War—where our two doctors are serving; the closer to the action, the fresher the specimens (obviously inspirational to the opening scene of Bride of Re-Animator). Major Moreland Clapham-Lee’s body awakens from The Big Sleep, with it’s head on the other side of the room hollering “Jump, Ronald, for God’s sake, jump!” Next thing they know, a shell explodes near them, chaos, and what becomes of the Major’s body is not known...until the next and last installment of the series.

Image hosting by PhotobucketImage hosting by PhotobucketImage hosting by Photobucket

These last two stories, V & VI, clearly show some signs of progress being made with West’s experiments, as he’s able to access fresher samples with which to experiment on. Regarding the always lively debate in zombie film circles as to whether or not the brains of the zombies function at all, and whether or not they are capable of learning or emotion, these two Lovecraftian examples of the undead are comparable to the shopping mall zombies of Dawn, who retain enough of their past-life memories to return to the shopping structure to begin with, and also to Bub in Day, who demonstrates his own ability for recall in the memorable scene with Dr. Logan, as he explores the Walkman, the razor, the book, and then later, the gun. Bub also shows us the capability zombies have for emotion—the fondness for Dr. Logan, and the hatred for Captain Rhodes.

Image hosting by PhotobucketImage hosting by PhotobucketImage hosting by Photobucket

Finally, Story VI, The Tomb-Legions, brings us up to date, and quite rapidly. In it, Major Moreland Clapham-Lee has returned, as is collecting all of West’s past experiments that are available (it’s also not entirely clear if his small, but growing army of the undead is all a result of West, or if it’s somehow generating more undead on its own), including the cannibalistic Halsey from the second installment, in order to enact some kind of revenge. This, very obviously, takes a kind of reasoning skill that none of the undead has exhibited until this time. The leap in intelligence from Story V to Story VI is about as drastic as the jump in the same matter from Day of the Dead to Land of the Dead. In Day, Bub shows not just mere memory, but also small signs of active learning (and his affection for Dr. Logan), and in Land, Big Daddy leads an army of undead through various undertakings and maneuvers (and his resentment towards the living). Also, the undead Cholo character knows enough—almost immediately after reanimation—to dispatch of the Kaufman character in a most complicated way (that is, complicated by zombie standards). There is the acquisition and retention of knowledge and there is the want of retribution, as well as its execution.

Image hosting by Photobucket

Far from merely inspiring a well-known and generally well-loved modern zombie flick, ReAnimator—years before Romero came onto the scene to so dramatically change the sub-genre; even at least a decade before the zombie itself came into the public’s consciousness—Lovecraft managed to foresee, in six short and simple stories, the historical timeline of the popular zombie in film, from its beginning to the present state of things; from the somewhat directionless undead automaton to a thinking, planning, and ultimately vengeful thing of horror.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Zombie party tragically ended by shotgun-wielding idiot

Thanks to Josh for finding this article, source unknown. Sorry. News items like this make the case for the second ammendment as an assurace of private security against real zombies all that much more hard to defend.
Seven Dead in Seattle Party Shooting

Saturday , March 25, 2006

SEATTLE — A gunman opened fire Saturday morning in a rental home occupied by about 20 young partygoers, killing four young men and two women and critically injuring at least one other person before committing suicide when confronted by police on the steps outside.
William Lowe, 59, who lives across the street, said he heard six shots fired shortly after his alarm went off at 7 a.m. He looked through the peephole of his door to see people scattering from the home.
Some of the guests had their faces painted and hair dyed for a "zombie party" held Friday night, Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske said.
One man staggered out and sat down, Lowe said, and a large man dressed in black — about 6-foot-1 and maybe 225 pounds — came out carrying a shotgun across his chest. When an officer standing in the street told him to put the weapon down, he put the barrel in his mouth and fired.
Officers found three dead in the living room, one at the front door and another on the porch steps. Three people were taken to Harborview Medical Center; one died, one was in extremely critical condition and the third was stable, the nursing supervisor said. Officers transported about a dozen witnesses to a precinct to interview them.
The victims were in their late teens and early 20s, police said. Officers said they were not yet aware of a possible motive.
"It's one of the largest crime scenes the city has ever had," Kerlikowske said.

Dozens of rounds were fired in the house, where people — ranging from their early and mid teens to mid-20s — gathered after a larger party called "Better Off Undead" in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. Some of the guests were "made up to look as if they were dead," the chief said.
He said the shooter, who had been invited to the party at the home, left the house about 7 a.m. and came back 10 minutes later heavily armed.
As the gunman walked the half block from his black Dodge pickup truck, he apparently spraypainted the word "NOW" in orange twice on the sidewalk and once on the steps of a neighbor's home, police said.
When he got to the house, he immediately opened fire before forcing his way inside. He shot two people outside, three in the living room and then went upstairs looking for more victims, Kerlikowske said.
Just before the shooting started, a 20-year-old Bellevue man told The Seattle Times, his 17-year-old girlfriend called him to an upstairs bathroom to talk while she applied makeup. Most everyone else in the house had been asleep about five hours, said the man, who was not identified.
"We heard gunshots and screaming and I opened the bathroom door and looked down the stairs and saw flashes from the gunshots. It was pretty intense," he said.
He locked the door and he and his girlfriend crouched in the bathtub.
"After all the gunshots, the shooter came upstairs and tried to open the door. He shot a round through the door and the bullet whizzed by my face," the man said.
The gunman then went back downstairs, he said.
"We thought we were going to die, plain and simple," said the young man, interviewed outside the downtown police station where he said he was among a group of about 30 partygoers questioned by police.

Kerlikowske said an officer in the neighborhood heard the shots and arrived to find one person staggering out of the house with a gunshot wound. The officer confronted the man with a shotgun but got no further than "Drop your ..." before the man turned the weapon on himself, the chief said.
The gunman also had a handgun, police said. Kerlikowske said the gunman mainly used the 12-gauge pistol-grip shotgun, "a weapon not designed for hunting purposes but for hunting people."
The gunman was wearing bandoliers of shells for the shotgun and carrying additional clips for the handgun. In his truck, police found an assault rife and multiple "banana clips" carrying 30 bullets each.
Police said they did not know if drugs or alcohol were a factor, though Kerlikowske said marijuana and alcohol were found in the house.
"This is a terrible tragedy for all of the victims and their families," said Mayor Greg Nickels in a statement.

"This kind of gun violence is extremely unusual for Seattle and this neighborhood," he added. "We don't know the exact reason, but we do know that it wasn't random."
Neighbor Cesar Clemente, 25, said he called 911 when he heard the shots. He looked outside to see people fleeing, and two people huddling in the bushes. He called for them. One, a man, made it to his front entryway, shot in the arm and the abdomen. The other collapsed in the bushes.
Clemente asked the man what happened. He said only, "I've been peppered." Medics quickly took him away, leaving behind a few shotgun pellets on the floor where he had been lying.
Lowe said people came and left the house at all hours, often with facial piercings and elaborate makeup.
"This was a destination point," he said.

Nancie Thorne told The Seattle Times that her 15-year-old daughter, Suzanne, was in the house when the man opened fire. She hadn't heard if her daughter survived.
The girl's boyfriend, Jesse Mullens, called Thorne earlier Saturday to say they had gone to the house following a "zombie rave" Friday night, Thorne said. They were about to leave — Mullens was waiting outside — when the gunman barged in.
Mullens told Thorne he heard a lot of gunshots. He thought Suzanne was stuck somewhere in the house with the shooter between her and the door.
"It's the worst phone call a mom can get," Thorne said, crying. "She shouldn't have gone to the rave. I've never approved of those things. ... I just hope to God she's alive. And if she is, she's grounded for life."
Hospital officials said the girl was not there.
Aaron Hoyle, 25, of Renton, said about five people in or near their 20s lived in the blue, two-story bungalow with white trim, and that some were promoters of warehouse parties. Hoyle hadn't been to the home in about three months, but came to see if his friends were OK when he heard about the shooting on the news.
The home, which according to King County property records is owned by a man named D. Gregg Doyle, is just a few blocks from Miller Community Center, where Little League baseball games were under way Saturday morning.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

random zombie link

This guy may be making a video game or something. Some interesting pixelated cartoons.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth

Image hosting by Photobucket

Bethesda Softworks® announced today that the highly anticipated survival horror game, Call of Cthulhu®: Dark Corners of the Earth™ for the PC will ship to North American stores the week of March 27th. Call of Cthulhu®: Dark Corners of the Earth™, developed by Headfirst Productions, is based on the Call of Cthulhu® paper-and-pencil role-playing game, which is itself inspired by H.P. Lovecraft’s novels.

Image hosting by Photobucket
Eeek.

Image hosting by Photobucket
EEEK!

Click here for more info...

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Trailer tuesday

Here's a trailer for a silent call of Cthulhu adaptation coming out. Maybe it will be good; maybe it'll be cheesy. Time will tell.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Phreaky Photo Phriday: Cthulu month!

That's right, folks, I'm using this FFF to announce this month's shambling theme is the Cthulu mythos. Get ready for a month of edritch content, as the Elder Ones conspire to take back the Earth.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Hellcat

Okay, this is from the Attak of the Zombie Cats flikr. As an abashed cat lover, I love this.
Also along Cat lines...
Cyclopean kitty. This is not a photshop, this thing was actually born and lived for a short while.

And where there are cat's there's sure to be...
A good dog can be a valuable ally when the zombies come, unless it tends to bark a lot or otherwise attract attention. Get an unconspicuous dog.