Sunday, January 31, 2010

for your consideration.

To cleanse my palate after that last post, I'm gonna take this opportunity to mention that I have been nominated in Bloody Disgusting's Horror Blogger Awards.



Still a little shocked from this news to be honest. I've yet to sit down and go through the list, but the sheer fact that I am in the company of Final Girl makes me all puffed up with pride. I started zombie cupcake back in '08, inspired by that very blog; so now to be on a list alongside her is quite something (to me, anyway).

So yeah. Go and have a looky at the list and vote if it pleases you. Not necessarily for this one, even, if you think someone else deserves it more. I'm happy just to have been invited to the party, I don't have to be jumping out of the cake too.

Oh and I also want to say thanks to anyone who has found this blog via Bloody Disgusting, and has liked it/decided to follow it. Welcome!

Evil Aliens (2005).



I fell asleep watching this and I can't bring myself to sit through it again. So this will be short and sweet.

The only thing worth mentioning about Evil Aliens is that before the opening credits even roll, there's a scene which involves a man getting a drill in the rectum.



Emily Booth doesn't even get her tits (fully) out.

Avoid.

Monday, January 25, 2010

...for me?!



I'm flattered to report that I have been given a blog award! And it comes with instructions...

01. Thank the person who nominated you for this award.
02. Copy the logo and place it on your blog.
03. Link to the person who nominated you for this award.

Right well, I wish to thank the wonderful Mother Firefly for deeming me a worthy recipient of the Kreativ Blogger award. I'm so pleased with myself that the logo and her kind words are already in situ on the sidebar on the right.

04. Name 7 things about yourself that people might find interesting.

1. I've been in love with Elvis Presley since I was 6 years old.
My parents had two Elvis LPs when I was little. My favourite was this one:



Even now I can't look at that picture without feeling very giggly and vaguely lovestruck.

Neither of my folks were huge fans, so my obsession came out of nowhere. I love it though, Elvis makes me happy in a way that borders on spiritual. I visited Graceland a few years ago, which was phenomenal. I spent the entire walk around the mansion on the verge of tears, then sobbed at his graveside. Then I was interviewed for Elvis radio. Best, most bizarre day ever.

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I also have Elvis' first name, in his handwriting, tattooed on my left wrist ♥

2.
I was a zombie pin-up for a day.

Rue Morgue held a "Rue Morguette" competition in 2009. Sadly I didn't win, but the photoshoot I did to find an image to submit was sooo much fun. I had wanted to paint myself green for ages, so it was pretty cool to have an excuse to do that, at the very least...



3. I compelled over 300 people dressed as zombies to meet in Central London for World Zombie Day 2008.



A lot of good came from WZD08: not only a lot of money and awareness being raised for a local charity, but strong friendships were also forged, too. Another by-product of the day was the birth of a group called 'WZD London', which I suppose you could say I am chief of. To date we have raised thousands of pounds for a homeless charity called St Mungo's, all through our zombie themed events.

At times I have been referred to as Zombie Queen of London... but it's never something I'd call myself ;)

4.
America ♥!

Love the place. Have for as long as I can remember. Even in school in History class, the US facts always seemed more interesting and likely to stick in my head than anything else. I seem to have an unquenchable thirst for the place. To date I have visited six states (and probably passed through more, just not "experienced" them, so I don't count them) and I am so not done.

As an off-shoot from this, I'm really into North American popular culture of the 1950s, such as diner and drive-in culture, rock'n'roll (Elvis obviously falls under this too), greasers... all that kind of stuff. I'm not a hardcore obsessive in that I dress in 1950s attire every day or anything, I suppose it's just an ongoing, simmering appreciation - but a strong one all the same.

5.
I got into horror because of my parents.
They put a TV in my room when I was in my mid-teens. So on a Friday night I used to stay up and look for juicy stuff to watch. If memory serves, I first saw Dawn Of The Dead this way.

As I've mentioned on here before, my Dad used to throw recommendations in my direction, too. The Shining, The Hitcher and Black Christmas were all viewed with his blessing when I still lived at home. He asked his friend at work to lend me a dodgy VHS copy of The Exorcist when it was still extremely hard to get hold of, and I was technically too young to be watching it. More recently he lent me The Mist. Coolest Daddy-O.

6.
I have a weird fixation with the number six.

No idea why or where it came from, but I pretty much live my life guided by it one way or another.

7.
The very first film I ever cried at was The Fly (1986).
The bit where Brundlefly picks up the end of the shotgun with his little pincer-hand, and puts it against his head.



Yup, cried like a newborn. NB: I tear up at the drop of a hat now.

05. Nominate 7 Kreativ Bloggers.
06. Post links to the 7 blogs you nominate.
07. Leave a comment on each of the blogs letting them know they have been nominated.

And Now The Screaming Starts
Well first off, what a great name. Secondly, I have to confess that I am a loser when it comes to being a blog reader and I don't follow this one as closely as I should (eg: reading everything as soon as it is posted). Having said that, whenever I do take a stroll over to And Now The Screaming Starts, I am there for a long time and I love the way this guy writes. Thirdly, his profile picture kind of excites me. Maybe that's something I should keep to myself though. Definitely check the blog out!

Teen Dreams
This is something of a pre-emptive award. My friend Katie owns this blog, which features hilarious scans of eighties magazines. I don't wish to exert any pressure on the girl, but personally I want her to post more! Every time she tells me of ideas for it, they sound as amazing and impressive as the magazine collection they will be taken from.

Magraith Photography
Paul is very talented. I met him through zombie projects and he was my first choice as photographer for the pin-up shoot. He's hard-working, professional and one of the nicest guys you will ever meet. His main photography website is here.

Chris's Invincible Super-Blog
An extremely entertaining one, this. Those into comics will get the most out of it, but to be honest Chris is such a funny guy that I wouldn't say that was even mandatory. I won't tell him about this award nomination because I'm shy, but I just want to spread the isb love because every time I read it I guffaw.

BuyZombie.com
If you are a zombie fan, you seriously need to be reading this. You wouldn't think there would be so much zombie news to report. SO comprehensive it boggles the mind!
"Started in 2007, BuyZombie is a site for Zombie Fans. While the started as an ever-growing database of everything Zombie related you can buy or do on the Internet it has since grown to be a hub for zombie news, media, reviews, and announcements! As time goes on we hope continue to have a complete Zombie Product database, keep you up to date on the undead happenings, as well as more features for you all to enjoy."

Lovely Listing

Formerly It's Lovely! I'll Take It! this gives one the simple pleasure of looking into amusing real estate listings and the carnage therein. Funnier than it sounds, largely due to the the owner of the blog (Sara Lorimer), her writing style and obsession with lawn furniture.

remakemagicland
This is ingenious. These guys recreate shots from films using only materials found in their office. With hilarious results...



There, all done. Happy reading and big thanks again to Mother Firefly!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Død snø / Dead Snow (2009).

What with the UK being a snowy place right now, it seemed appropriate to get this posted. Watching this film and writing the bare bones of the review was how I spent my New Year's Eve. Let it never be said the life of a horror blogger isn't a glamorous one...



Aptly, for a film set in snowbound climes, Dead Snow takes a while to warm up. Once it does though, it's a lot of fun. And goo. You know I love me some goo.

A group of medical students go on an Easter break to a cabin in the middle of nowhere, Norway. They end up with a few extra house guests, however, in the form of a massive horde of killer undead Nazis!



Er, YES PLEASE.

The zombies are hungry for the Nazi gold which happens to be sitting in the cabin's basement, and they probably aren't gonna let a little thing like fragile human life stand in the way of them getting it.



It's mentioned a few times that one of the male characters, despite studying to be a doctor, is squeamish around blood - three guesses who's gonna end up the Final Boy?

But wait a minute, this is not a film to watch for displays of subtlety. Dead Snow manages to hit a very tricky mark, by being extremely derivative and yet not at all irritating with it. This is most likely down to everything being played pretty straight. There are a lot of funny moments, but with an innocence to the comedic set-ups, rather than a self-awareness.

Put simply (although doing the film something of a disservice by reducing it so) the film is a parade of horror clichés. Spot them as they appear! Log cabin. Check. Overuse of musical stings and jump scares. Check. Seemingly crazy stranger giving some unprompted back story. Yes, he's here too.

You have to admire director Tommy Wirkola cutting right to the meat with the latter, in fact. The stranger whose sole purpose is to warn the reckless young things of the potential danger they are in, is given absolutely no introduction or explanation; he just comes in, tells a tale, acts a bit weird and then leaves.



Unfortunately, once he has done his job, he becomes expendable. This image and subtitle juxtaposition made me laugh:



A glaringly obvious influence on this film is my friend and yours, a certain Mr. Sam Raimi. There are countless direct homages to his style in crash zoom suiting up sequences - which, despite being something of a one trick pony scene-wise, I never seem to tire of - and the first two Evil Dead flicks are also mentioned by name, near the start of the film.

We are in familiar but well loved territory here folks, where ghouls are nasty and super-strong and humans are nothing but vulnerable meatsacks. People get torn limb from limb with ease. It's entertainment at its best!

Like Dylan Moran before him, in a scene which marks the hysterical new levels of gore the film will reach, the geek of the group gets pulled out of the window and disemboweled before his horrified friends. Well, technically it should be "disembrained". It's fair to say that this was a 'sit forward in seat, eyes wide, smile spreading on face' moment.




I have that jelly mold.

The characters themselves are less stereotypical than one would expect, in a film so chock full of horror chestnuts. They are a bland bunch, though likeable enough. I didn't find myself particularly wanting any of them to survive... but that's kind of the point. It's not really about hoping anyone makes it, it's about seeing who's next to paint the snow red.


Correct.

And what a stunning, inspired canvas for the carnage it is. The dazzling white showing up both the gore (bloody beautiful!) and the Nazi zombs to startling effect.







This film features much intestine-specific bloodshed. I don't think I have ever been able to say that before.







Not included in these caps are the scenes of a character dangling off of a cliff using a zombie's large intestine as a bungee rope and a POV shot of a girl drowsily watching one of the undead have a rummage around in her... well, her.

Are you hearing me yet? Are you won over? No? Fine. I've give you more reasons:
  • Usually in a horror film you only get one decent instance of a wound that actually pumps blood. It's a bit of a showy thing so it only tends to happen the once. In Dead Snow, it's the norm.
  • There's a prolonged scene of a victim sewing up his own neck wound.
  • The FX are a mix of practical and CG. Some of the latter is a bit sub-par if you are picky like I am, but it doesn't take away from the heart of the flick. It's about fun. It's about splatter and giggles and there are more than enough instances of people getting a face full of thick, disgusting-looking globs of stuff, that I can let the ropey CGI work slide, gladly.
  • Sound is put to fantastic use: the crunch of snow, the animalistic noises of the dead (here they have more range than your standard groans), the power tools as weapons, splurging of guts and... silence. In key moments the soundscape is left completely empty and it really makes a difference. Think about it, if you had turned off your chainsaw for a moment, and the attacking zombies on the snow covered mountain weren't charging at you yet, it would be completely silent. Effective and realistic!
  • Imagine hiding up a tree, thinking you have outsmarted your assailants, then glancing down and seeing this:

Graaarrggh! Horrible and brill!

Aaand I'm spent. Just know that you have to see this film.

I don't usually link to trailers in my reviews, but this one showcases the film perfectly. If you still don't want to see it after reading the above and watching this, then I kind of don't understand why you read my blog...

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Splinter (2008).

Splinter was one of those films that I didn't hear much chatter about, but kept crossing paths with the artwork. This alone had me interested in checking it out, I mean, how could it not?



This is another small cast, one location deal. Set for the most part in a petrol station in the middle of nowhere, the unfortunates who have encountered this thing barricade themselves in and have to fend it off/figure out a means of escape, which doesn't involve being part of a human meat finger buffet.



It takes a while to get going, I will say that. When there hadn't been a sniff of gore at around 25mins in, I was starting to slip into "Eh, Whatever"-ville. Thankfully, at just that moment a whole can of WHAT THE...? gets opened.

What I found interesting about this beastie, is that like The Thing (1982) this life form seems to regard and use individual parts of the human body independently. It wears us as a kind of ill-fitting suit, or utility belt. When confronted by something it wants to attack, the whole body isn't turned, it just directs the nearest body part towards its target - even if this means breaking or dislocating the part in question. It's kinda simple when you think about it, why would an invading organism respect the fleshy outer layer as we do? It's not theirs. But seeing it executed on film, it's really brutal in a way you don't see very often.

The below cap shows one victim, overcome by the "Splinter". It makes her bash her face into the glass again and again in an effort to break into the building and get to the survivors. Our bodies are just tools to them.



It is really nasty. Once infected, we are basically turned into barely recognisable, hulking, twitching, chirping lumps of meat.



In one of the DVD extras, director Toby Wilkins states that the horror from Splinter comes in not being killed by the monster. The fact that it gets inside you and takes you over is what is so terrifying a prospect, rather than just being bumped off outright.

One of the most gruesome moments in the film actually comes courtesy of the survivors themselves. When one of them realises he is infected, the remaining two perform an amputation of his arm to try and isolate said infection. Their tool of choice is a Stanley (utility) knife. Errrk. Loving the dialogue though; as he screams in pain while they saw through his limb, this is uttered in a comforting tone: "It's okay, we're cutting your arm off." Er, thanks?



Turns out - who'd have thunk it? - you can't cut through bone with a Stanley. So they have to finish the job by dropping a breeze block on the partially severed appendage, in order to take it off completely. Blimey.



They nailed the special effects here, I felt sick to my stomach watching this!

In fact, the effects in and of themselves deserve a big mention. Wilkins - who has worked more in the visual effects field than directing, according to IMDb - wanted to achieve as much as possible with practical: "I wanted the actors to have something to really respond to, rather than just a tennis ball on a stick."

For the monster work he found a gymnast who, when put into heavy make-up, could bend and crawl in an entirely inhuman fashion, in order to look like a broken body being worn by the parasite. CG was used only where absolutely necessary; everything else was wires, puppets, trick photography and the creativity of the special effects crew (info gleaned here).

Wilkins' inventiveness and enthusiasm shows. This is one of the most imaginative and arresting movie monsters I have seen in a good while.



It's such a shame then - especially taking in consideration the slow start - that the film seems to lose its way as the end nears.

Perhaps they weren't sure how to wrap things up? Leading to the climax is an overly long sequence where the male lead proves his mettle, but it feels silly and ill thought out. And yes, I realise calling something within a film themed such as this, "silly" is a bit pointless, but there must have been a better achilles heel to reveal of this thing. Or at least a less dumb way to exploit it.

I think this is the reason I felt a little unfulfilled as the credits rolled. It's such an interesting, fucked up idea for a horror critter that the film's load appears to have been blown on that, and that alone. The plot didn't have a strong enough back to carry the weight of such a cool creature.

Have an icky parasite movie night, featuring this and The Thing. Just be sure to end strong with Carpenter's effort.