Archive for October, 2013


Put a note in your diary of the dead!Blood Hunger topped the kindle horror charts last month now the zombie Dead Pulse is totally free this Halloween and Day of the Dead season. Grab yourself the ultimate walking dead bargain!*
When being dead no longer means the end…

With a staple on George A. Romero’s dead mythos while paying homage to his ‘rules’,  Dead Pulse gives an insight into the zombies food pecking order, their thought process and how they actually function.

Dead Pulse also explores what it truly means to survive a zombie apocalypse through the harshest seasons on the land, sea and air over an intense 12 months. Of course there’s all the zombie action you’d expect from the genre and more.
*update 03/11/2013 Dead Pulse made the top 40 horror ebook chart #39. Thanks to all.
 

Death does not discriminate…

Remember Dead Pulse is totally free this Halloween and Day of the Dead season, but if you can wait its out now from a variety of online stores, including Amazon US and Amazon UK you can also order it from your local store. Also if you get your undead hands on the paperback edition the Kindle comes free.

Check out Dead Pulse’s “calm before the storm” trailer:
Pictures with kind permision juliland.com and A. M.Esmonde

During a zombie apocalypse Juan, a hustling Cuban, sets up a business with a couple of unlikelies and charges Havana’s local residents for cleaning up their undead problem which clashes with winning his daughter’s respect.

Director Alejandro Brugués delivers a comedy injected zombie affair, which subtexts the political and social issues of Cuba and highlights the irony of the zombie mythos, including a stab, fast and slow walking dead films. It reminiscent in part of [Rec] (2007), Shaun of the Dead (2004) in tone and The Dead (for distinctive atmosphere).

Alexis Díaz de Villegas is not your stereotype looking hero and plays the everyman Juan perfectly. Jorge Molina is Lazaro his overweight sidekick who steals some of the scenes. Notable is Andros Perugorría as the hero type who is also the love interest of Juan’s zombie kicking daughter Camila (Andrea Duro).

There are some homages thrown in to other virus flicks. The special make-up effects are excellent but the digital ones are a mixed bag, that said, the collapsing tower block and the helicopter crash are worthy of note.

It captures the unscrupulous, non-sequential social issues – especially murders, this may turn some viewers off as the characters can be quite unsavory at times. Nevertheless Juan de los Muertos is a Spanish language film (and writer Alejandro Brugués even manages to jibe at the language differences in an amusing underground car park segment)which has it’s own identity and atmosphere due to real locations captured wonderfully by cinematography Carles Gusi which gives it its own feel.

Those looking for social commentary in the vein of Romero’s dead films will be overloaded. If you’re looking for plenty of in your face blood, decapitations, head bashings and zombie comedy action this also ticks all the boxes.

As a side note keep watching for the comic credits that finish off the narrative. Overall, Juan of the Dead will have you thinking about Cuba long after the credits roll.

On a family trip to a Florida theme park a father finds something is not quite right with the vacation.

Director/writer Randy Moore perhaps has broke the mold for turning something so loved and established on it’s head. If it wasn’t for the fact it is in black and white it could almost be described as a trippy, psychedelic horror ride.

Opening with a ride on ‘Thunder Mountain’ (many famous rides are featured throughout) it quickly turns into a paranoia ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’ type vibe, reminiscent of elements of with ‘Jacobs Ladder’ and ‘Twin Peaks’ as a father begins to see the happy faces of visitors, staff and characters around the theme park turn into gnarled faces, evil faces and others with empty black eyes sockets.

Roy Abramsohn plays Jim; every day Dad, perfectly however, either there’s something not quite right with Jim or the park is off. There’s some irony thrown in is as the queues are endless for the rides and the pressure of taking the family on any holiday. Both child actors Katelynn Rodriguez as Sara and Jack Dalton as Elliott are notable.

For the first hour Moore creates an uneasy anxiousness throughout as Jim spends his time following two young French girls around the park in midlife crisis fashion straining his relationship with his wife Emily played by excellently by Elena Schuber. You have a grown man who has lost his job, at the end of his tether, blacking out and leaving his kids unattended (horror enough), while encountering strange characters including a cougar like drunk, a whaling nurse, naked women and a kooky scientist to name a few.

While the story isn’t linear, it’s a strange trippy ride especially in the latter half where Jim finds himself under The Epcot Centre in a ‘2001 Space Oddity’ and ‘Future World’ looking environment. In addition, the final act and closing has Hitchcockian/’Twilight Zone’ qualities.

For a low budget affair what is commendable is that director Moore manages to put a David Lynch style chiller together turning something so ingrained as joyous and familiar into something so unnerving and surreal, while still respecting the real life park and big W (it’s not a Disney bashing film persay). Clearly filmed at Disney World and Disneyland it’s surprising how well put together and edited the film is and it has some nice effects and blood thrown in for good measure. Abel Korzeniowski’s music score emulates and captures both the park’s environment and paranoia perfectly.

Overall it’s not a conventional or mainstream horror but its not experimental film either. Recommended for those who want to see something truly uneasy without being too graphic. Disney will never seem the same again.

Escape from Tomorrow on IMDb

“Bidi-bidi-bidi”, too much horror makes me numb, anyone who’s been following my blog will know it’s not just about my films and novels. It’s my love of a wide variety of quality and shlock entertainment.

I’ll be frank nostalgia is a dangerous thing. It can ruin your adulthood or re-enforce that something really was great, revisiting Buck Rogers in the 25th Century was, well, hey what can I say, there’s much to enjoy even if father time has not been too kind.

Not only did it have a space load of guest stars, Dorothy Stratten, Richard Lynch, Roddy McDowall and Jack Palance to name a few. There’s some notable episodes, one with Jamie Lee Curtis being chased by a Terminator-like Cyborg, one with Jerry Orbach (Space Rockers) and a Tron-esque band called “Andromeda”, there’s  Cosmic Wiz Kid with Different Strokes Gary ColemanAlso Tarzan’s Buster Crabbe, (who played Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon in the original serials turns up.

So here’s a roundup of my favourite episodes (in running order) from the first series, you know the one before Hawkman, where they were still based on earth, where Mel Blanc did the voice of Twiki for the whole season and Dr. Huer, Dr. Theopolis, Princess Ardala and Kane all appeared.

Buck Rogers in the 25th Century: Space Vampire (12) (1980)

A space craft crashes into the space station where Twiki is getting repairs and Buck and co. try to figure out what happened to the ship’s crew.

Directed by Larry Stewart and written by Kathleen Barnes and David Wise- Space Vampire is a homage of sorts to Nosferatu, Dracula and a possible nod to Romero’s zombie films. The concept was debatably borrowed later by Lifeforce (1985).

This is one of the most eerie and the only horror toned episode of the first series. Should the makeup design of Nicholas Hormann as the spine-chilling Vorvon had been better designed this could have been the most rounded of all the episodes. Drained bodies, the morgue like environments, a ghost ship, the victims coming back to life it’s all good tawdry horror sci-fi stuff.

Wilma Deering gets more to do in this episode as she begins to see things and is subjected to entranced states. Here Erin Grey gets to show some range and not just her infamous tight outfits.

Highlights also include Buck and Twiki watching a recordings of the invisible (to the camera) assailant killing its victim. Buck’s investigation and him taking on the tranced hordes is also a blast. Notable is Christopher Stone as a doubting Space Station Commander, Royko who would later appear in the Howling (1981).

One of the stronger and more memorable episodes.

Buck Rogers in the 25th Century: Ardala Returns (15) (1980)

Accompanied by Twiki Buck Rogers finds himself in a cloning lab where android copies of him called a Zygots are being made.

This is debatably one of the most entertaining of the first season, notable for its multiple Buck Zygots, Gil Gerard gets a lot of fun and is able to show a little range while Pamela Hensley as Princess Ardala is entertaining especially when showing her disappointment with the Buck duplicates. Highlights include Erin Gray as Colonel Wilma Deering (sporting her blue jumpsuit) and company almost getting duped by a Buck imposter and Buck out smarting Ardala with a glitch guise and then a showdown with Buck taking on himself in a dogfight.

More Buck equals more fun and Hensley fans won’t be disappointed.

Buck Rogers in the 25th Century: A Dream of Jennifer (18) (1980)

Buck goes in search of his girlfriend who inexplicably shows up in the 25th Century 500 years after he last saw her.

The title possibly plays on ‘I dream of Jeannie’. Opening as mystery episode with plenty of locations it’s notable for giving some background into Bucks past prior to Ranger 3’s ill- fated mission, complete with a flashback/dream scene with Buck in his 80s Formica and Velo pad.

Col. Deering’s (Erin Gray) hair is initially particularly dark then changes tint throughout. In addition Wilma sports a the less fitting white jacket/belt skirt then later the blue jump suit. Sadly she isn’t given much to do in this episode aside from bark orders.

Beneath the surface it’s an emotional episode for Buck with Gil Gerard giving full commitment especially during a death scene.

The carnival aside and despite its colourful costumes, makeup and masks this is one of the more serious toned episodes. That said, Jaws (1975) is mentioned topped off with Twiki cracking a joke about an associated tag-line in the closing.

One of the more poignant episodes.

Buck Rogers in the 25th Century: Flight of the War Witch (21) (1980)

A mysterious large sphere lands outside New Chicago where a golden orb emerges and is brought back to the laboratory for an examination. This leads Buck to discover and impending danger from the War Witch.

Opening with an extended title sequence more money appears to have been injected into the seasons penultimate and finale episode. The special effects are better and more frequent, the sets are grander. There’s brief on location external shots.

William ‘Buck’ Rogers (Gil Gerard) smooches his way through the first half like a sci-fi James Bond joined by Theo and Twiki who go along on the adventure. Dr. Elias Huer gets some weighty scenes and is further fleshed out actor Tim O’Connor brings more gravity and emotion here giving this episode an unknown edge. Col. Wilma Deering gives a defining speech adding to the uneasiness of the episode as Buck sets off into a vortex to search for life in an uncharted universe and you really do feel at this point that Buck may actually not return (it is the last of the series after all).

Julie Newmar as Zarina commands ever scene and is a partially good female antagonist reminiscent of a live action Disney Witch. Zarina is accompanied by her right hand man Spirot played by Sig Hague who get limited screen time. Series regulars Draconian Princess Ardala (Pamela Hensley) sporting some fetching outfits and Kane appear as red herrings in the scope of the episode. Twiki (Felix Silla (cousin IT) and voiced by the legendary Mel Blanc) gets his usual one-liners and there’s a some fun moments where he interacts with another robot. Although Twiki’s circular robot companion Dr. ‘Theo’ Theopolis (voiced by Eric Server) doesn’t really get much to say in this outing.

Taking some visual cues from 2001 Space Odyssey and StarTrek albeit cheaper looking this episode is one of the better scripted and constructed both aesthetically and in terms of plot.

The second half includes a Star Was-like escape with Buck assisting the perfect spoilt Princess Ardala and Deering wonderfully played by the (continually underutilised) stunning Ering Gray helping Kane. Earth’s Starfighters team up with the Draconians to help the Pendarians against Zarina’s army in a dogfight space showdown.

There’s plenty of great music with some nice stings and sound effects to accompany the many well dressed setups.

Debabtly more fun and faster paced than the feature length ‘Awakening’, The two parter Flight of the War Witch closes with a rendition of Kipp Lennon’s ‘Suspension’ song that opened the series pilot/film which fittingly bookends the the first series (arguably perfectly if series/season two hadn’t had been made).

Spaceships, laser shootouts, robots, warring aliens, forcefields, voice computers to name a few, overall with some underlining theology, smidgens of action its one of the slicker produced and better looking episodes.

So there it is, what are your thoughts on Buck 80s series one?

American students on a visit to Romania get more than they bargained for when they encounter a female vampire on which the legends are really based and call on help from Peter Vincent, a monster hunting reality star.

 
Despite a critical and fan black lash the 2011 Fright Night remake it was surprisingly entertaining enough. Fright Night 2 – New Blood starts well enough with its explosive and Paranormal Activity-esqe opening where an unseen vampire (on camera) assailant murders its victim. From pole dancing clubs to underground stations story wise with elements reminiscent of the fictionalised version of the real Elizabeth Báthory, this instalment may have fared better as a standalone vampire film.
 
Following a gratuitous Jamie Murray moment as Gerri Dandridge (and others littered throughout) we’re introduced to a handful of stereotype characters, and a recast Peter Vincent (Sean Power) on his Most Haunted, Ghost Hunters, Faked or Fact-like programme which coincidently is being filmed in Romania. Aside from characters names it shares very little, if anything as a sequel to Fright Night the remake or the originals.
 
Writer Matt Venne serves up a sequel in the vein of a 80s horror cash-in follow-ups, it’s a rehash/retelling of the same story, the overarching concept with a different backdrop. It features a nice touch where the antagonist uses bat like sonar to locate the leads. There’s a few one liners, even a borrowed line from ‘Happy Days’ Fonz.
 
With a fitting soundtrack, a horned eerie score and some good blood and makeup effects it mainly benefits from Murray’s natural allure and performance. To director Eduardo Rodriguez credit it has some great Gothic settings and locations and some novel camera work – other than that think a hybrid execution of it predecessor, the Subspecies series and American Werewolf in Paris. Aside from being more graphic it presents what the likes of Teen Wolf the TV series, True Blood, Vampire Diaries and Grimm to name a few offer.
 
 

What it lacks in originality, epitomizing all the trappings of a horror sequel it makes up for with its Hammer looking settings, violent and bloody soaked fun setups and surprising production values given its direct to video debut. Murray fans will be pleased.

 

Fright Night 2 on IMDb

A family gather together for a funeral, only a killer doll has an old score to settle; and blood & mayhem ensue.

Opening in a creepy large house (complete with its own Diamonds are Forever lift), a mysterious death occurs in the first few minutes after a revamped ‘Good Guy’ doll is delivered. From the outset there’s an updated, excellently designed Chucky doll and Joseph Loduca’s melodic, yet eerie, music score sets the tone.

There’s plenty of atmosphere in this installment from series veteran Don Mancini (director/writer), with Curse sharing much with the Psycho films in design and pace. Brad Dourif again voices Chucky. The great one liners are fewer, a bit more poignant and cutting. There’s a few relationship surprises and story twists. Web-cam moment, stitches reveal and closing are particularly memorable, also there’s a great scene after the credits.

Some of the cast are debatably too polished, nevertheless, the horror elements are there and include the original mix of nannie, young child and a killer doll. The child actor Summer H. Howell is strong and wheelchair bound Fiona Douif (daughter of Brad) is notable as Nica.

Many scenes are effective with inbuilt tension and jump scares, notably the shower encounter and dinner gathering. With lingering camera movements and interesting angles, Mancini also leaves plenty to the imagination as some of the set ups take place off screen, that said there are lots of effects, blood and gore on display – decapitation, an electrocution, an empty eyeball socket and an axe attack to name a few.

There are lots of nice touches that are fitting to the modern Chucky doll, that mirror today’s toys, making him all the more menacing when he comes to ‘life’. Pupils dilate, his eyes are bloodshot, walking and running – Chucky is back better, creepier and badder than before. For die hard Child’s Play fans Dourif appears briefly in his serial killer Charles Lee Ray guise, some old photos and newspaper clippings feature Andy and scene’s link direct to the first installment.

What the production has saved on the lack of locations, to it’s credit, the money has been put into the excellent special effects. Mancini returns it to its Child’s Play roots while making references to the rest of the series including a great cameo from one of it’s most colourful characters.

It delivers with its back to horror basics approach, updated effects and Mancini’s Hitchcockian execution and links to its previous counterparts. This instalment is less likely to date than some of its predecessors. Recommended.

Curse of Chucky on IMDb

With the release of Day of the Dead Blu-ray (Collector’s Edition) (1985) from Shout! (Scream) Factory. I thought I’d revisit Romero’s zombie Classic (film review below), I loved the Arrow Blu-ray edition, some may like Shout! Factory ‘s new colour, you can find a comparison here and there’s a new documentary ‘World’s End: The Legacy of Day of the Dead’.

That’s said it’s personal preferences I have no idea at all which is more accurate to what Romero indented as both we remastered from an original and the Arrow Ed. was also loaded with extras and Docs.

Here’s the walking dead bad news for many – this new Collector’s Edition is region A locked, so if you have a European player that isn’t multi-region you’re dead out of luck.

P.S more bad news – if you’re interested in the 2014 Day of the Dead Remake and whether or not Lori Cardille will appear, I caught up with Lori and sadly she advised me that no one has got in touch yet not even for a cameo. (There’s still a chance though, I hope.)

Set a reminder! Put a note in your diary of the dead!

The zombie good news is that Dead Pulse is totally free only kindle worldwide this Halloween season (31st Oct-3rd Nov) More info on Dead Pulse below.

DAY OF THE DEAD (1985)

A small group of military officers and scientists reach breaking point in the confines of a bunker as the world above is overrun by zombies.

The first two scenes set precedence that the rest of the film can’t equal. The jumpy dream sequence is followed by and eerie deserted city during the day that soon comes to ‘life’ with the walking dead. The city scene creates tension, the howling wind and echoing voices.

Lori Cardille acting is excellent as Sarah, as too is Terry Alexander, as realist pilot, John. Jarlath Conroy is the alcoholic radioman William McDermott, however, after this strong introduction and the movie looses it lustre and wider audience as it goes into the underground bunker.

From here on in, we’re treated with a great performance from Sherman Howard as the ‘thinking’ zombie Bub and a fantastic monologue from Alexander, this is where the film finds it feet. There are fantastic special effects by Tom Savini, who fine-tunes what he did in Dawn’ and adds some more gore into the mix. Over the years the score by John Harrison has really grown on me and given the film a memorable lost hope feel.

There are other fine moments in Romero’s script, Miguel Salazar’s break down, Sarah’s struggle and some memorable on liners mostly from Richard Liberty’s Logan and Joseph Pilato’s Rhodes. However, what lets this film down slightly is some uneven acting. That said, John Amplas underrated and overlooked subtle performance as Dr.Fisher is a hidden gem and Johns monologue at the ‘Ritz’ is Oscar worthy.

Day of the dead is a tight zombie film, and debatably a classic but even if you disagree it’s worthy enough to enjoy time and time again.

When being dead no longer means the end…

So with a staple on George A. Romero’s dead mythos while paying homage to his ‘rules’ I wrote my second novel Dead Pulse which gives an insight into the zombies pecking order, their thought process and how they actually function. Dead Pulse also explores what it truly means to survive a zombie apocalypse through the harsh seasons on the land, sea and air over an intense 12 months. Of course there’s all the zombie action you’d expect from the genre and more.

  Death does not discriminate…

Dead Pulse is out now from a variety of online books stores, including Amazon US and Amazon UK you can also order it from your local store. Remember the e-book free this Halloween. Also if you get your undead hands on the paperback edition the Kindle comes free too.

Check out Dead Pulse’s “calm before the storm” trailer: