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The Lair Of Gary James

Archive for June, 2009

American Prospect

Posted by BigWords on June 22, 2009

Check out this fun from The American Prospect. Paul Waldman is using the ‘topical theme’ of zombies, and his ideas may help with politicized zombie novels in the pipeline. I like the guy’s writing, but I can’t help feeling that when The New York Times is ready to report about his thoughts on the shuffling undead, then the end is nigh for ghouls…

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Mr. Roadkill

Posted by BigWords on June 22, 2009

For the past week or so my sleep routine has consisted of an hour or so a night. I tried my best last night, using every technique I could think of, to gain a few hours of uninterrupted sleep, though the preparations were for nought. No coffee after 6pm, lighting dimmed to the minimum, mint tea (not that tasty, but anything for a kip) and even a horrible ‘sounds of the rainforest’ CD.

I managed three hours sleep before I woke.

It’s been a funky day, and the moments of “disconnection” have nearly resulted in my scrawny ass being run over by a truck. One minute I am walking back from the course, and the next thing I know I’m standing on the other side of the road. There is nothing I can think of which would make me cross the road, but somehow I managed to cross. Damn, one of these days it’s gonna be splat, and then I’ll be sorry…

A few months ago I went through a spell of blacking out just after waking (once when I was going downstairs), so I’m hoping that I can get over the run of sleep deprivation before I have a nasty accident. If I’m missing from the blog for any length of time you can hazard a guess as to where I will be, otherwise it’ll be business as normal.

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City Of The Living Dead

Posted by BigWords on June 21, 2009

Certain films are more resonant for me than others, even though – on the surface – they may appear very similar. City Of The Living Dead (also known under a dozen other names) is one of the films that I can watch endlessly. There is a funkiness which shows Lucio Fulci  really enjoyed making it.

The only downside to my copy on DVD is the awful cover which came on the budget release… I really miss the good old days of painted art. These are just two of the many awesome images which I would much rather look at.

Go buy the film if you haven’t already got a copy.

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Standing In The Idea Stream

Posted by BigWords on June 21, 2009

I said I wasn’t gonna talk about the process of writing, but a television interview make the devil on my shoulder angry…

Newspapers, magazines and television shows which interview writers manage to routinely plunge the depth of banality. It would appear to the casual viewer that their ‘probing analysis’ is hunky-dory, but those who write obsessively know different, and the idiotic babble which passes for conversation is exposed for the crap it truly is.

Q: Where do you get your ideas?

How many times have you read that? Or heard it asked in an interview? It is, of course, a necessary question for the interviewer, as they have an audience who are desperate to know more about their subject, but it makes me itch with anger every single time it is brought out. There are more pertinent questions, and ones which can expose a writer’s deepest fears and hopes, but ‘old faithful’ is trotted out to keep the conversation flowing.

Here is where I will try to show how ideas don’t ‘appear’ magically. It won’t be pretty, and it won’t be elegant, but it is the answer to that particular question.

My writing life is easy to describe – I sit at the computer (a laptop) and type. There are no strange rituals, no sacrifical lambs, no candles and blood magiks… It’s just typing, plain and simple. The nuggets of inspiration come when I least expect, and they can arrive in different forms. Sometimes I will be thinking about nothing in particular, other times I will be concentrating on a puzzle of sorts. The fun ideas nearly always come right outta leftfield.

You just have to stand in the idea stream, and let the groovy concepts wash over you. Some of them ‘take’, and feed into an idea that is already bubbling away, and other times the visual is a chunk of text on its’ own, standing apart from everything else. I had such an epiphany yesterday evening. It’s completely useless in and of itself, but it has the insane and out-of-the-box thinking which gets me excited.

I was watching a certain spacebound TV series, and the problem of ablation kept butting into my brain. Their shields are all that is protecting them? Damn, if there is a power cut they’ll be screwed. It kept nudging my enjoyment, and I finally turned the DVD off. It was about ten minutes later, while I was spinning the emptied contents of a packet of Maltesers around in a bowl when the Muse pooped. A big one. The kind of idea an FX geek would cry over, but I wasn’t looking for a neat visual.

You’re waiting on the idea, aren’t you?

Well, I got the notion, staring at balls of chocolate spinning in the plate, that a bunch of ball bearing type self-replicating droids whizzing around the surface of a spaceship would be kinda neat. I’m not writing a big SF novel though, and the idea is useless as a short. It happens all of the time, with a variety of blunt little plot and character add-ons that don’t fit anywhere without the assistance of a bloody big shoe-horn.

Will I ever use it? Prob’ly not. Is it cool? Fuckin’ A.

I’m just waiting on the Muse reading her instruction manual, and finally giving me an idea which I can use straight out of the box.

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Zombie Novel Checklist

Posted by BigWords on June 20, 2009

Some people still don’t know that there are such things as zombie novels. I can only wonder how the gooey undead goodness has passed by anyone unnoticed, so I thought that a (incomplete as it is) checklist was in order.

  • After Twilight: Walking The Dead by Travis Adkins. From Permuted Press.
  • Blood Of The Dead: A Zombie Novel by A.P. Fuchs.
  • Book of the Dead edited by John Skipp & Craig Spector.
  • Breathers: A Zombie’s Lament by S.G. Browne.
  • The Breathing Dead by A M Esmonde.
  • Cell by Stephen King (sorta, it starts off as a weird zombie book).
  • City Of The Dead by Brian Keene.
  • Day By Day Armageddon by J.L. Bourne.
  • Dead City by Joe McKinney.
  • Dead Science: A Zombie Anthology.
  • Dead End by Anthony Giangregorio. Another Permuted Press book.
  • Deathbreed: A Zombie Novel by Todd Tjersland.
  • Down The Road: A Zombie Horror Story by Bowie Ibarra.
  • Empire by David Dunwoody. Read a sypnosis here.
  • Eve Of The Dead by Nathan Tucker. See here.
  • The Forest of Hands and Teeth by ???
  • I Am Legend by Richard Matheson.
  • Generation Dead by Daniel Waters.
  • George A. Romero’s Dawn Of The Dead by Chee.
  • Guilty Pleasures by Laurell K. Hamilton.
  • Monster Island by David Wellington.  [Book 1] Online serial, also available in print.
  • Monster Nation by David Wellington. [Book 2]
  • Monster Planet by David Wellington. [Book 3]
  • Oasis, A Zombie Novel by Bryce Beattie.
  • One Rainy Night by Richard Laymon.
  • Plague Of The Dead by Z.A. Recht.
  • Pontypool Changes Everything by Tony Burgess.
  • Pride And Prejudice And Zombies by Jane Austin & Seth Grahame-Smith.
  • Resident Evil – The True Story of Biohazard.
  • Resident Evil – Caliban Cove by S.D. Perry
  • Resident Evil – City Of The Dead by S.D. Perry.
  • Resident Evil – Apocalypse novelization by Keith R.A. DeCandido
  • Resident Evil – Extinction novelization by Keith R.A. DeCandido
  • Resident Evil – Genesis novelization by Keith R.A. DeCandido
  • Resident Evil – The Umbrella Conspiracy by S.D. Perry.
  • Resident Evil – Underworld by S.D. Perry.
  • The Rising by Brian Keene.
  • The Serpent And The Rainbow by Wade Davis.
  • The Stupidest Angel by Christopher Moore.
  • The Undead: Flesh Feast by edited by D.L. Snell & Travis Adkins.
  • White Zombie: Anatomy Of A Horror Film by Gary Don Rhodes (non-fiction).
  • World War Z by Max Brooks.
  • Zombie Haiku-Book by Ryan Mecum.
  • Zombie House by James Kisner (as Martin James).
  • The Zombie Survival Guide by Max Brooks.

And you can read about an evolving zombie novel here. It ain’t done yet, but sounds fun.

There are a bunch of zombie stories here, which play off the themes explored by Max Brooks among others.

I’ll cover the comic-books later… Much later…

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The Not So Funny Pages

Posted by BigWords on June 19, 2009

frankmiller_twoThe weekly comic-book run isn’t something I partake of anymore. I know it is almost heresy to admit to, but it’s true. There’s just so many titles being produced (and so many bad ones) that I can’t justify splashing out on an issue I’ll only ever read once. While it is still an important part of my DNA, the Marvel Universe has gotten too big, introduced too many alternative universes and managed to become bewilderingly blah… Same with DC’s multiverse / no multiverse / hypertime / new multiverse ad infinitum…

Add in the Spider-Man mess, and there is little to draw me back to the superhero comics.

I initially stopped reading for a couple of months, but other things slowly ate up the money I intended to lay aside for the funny pages. The constant stream of excellents DVDs being released, new computer games (and new consoles), classic paperbacks that I never managed to purchase first time around, and more, forced their way into my list of “must have items”.

Having looked through the comics I did splash out on in the last couple of years, I found that there were more older titles than new ones. I still keep up with the characters and creators who make me smile, but I’m not desperate to read them any more… Hellboy and Sin City are the only comics I will go out of my way to read, and even then it is normally after the fact. Back issues are the lifeblood of my collection. Damn, I’m a bad geek. I’m letting the side down…

It’s hard to stay ahead of the unrelenting release schedule. Even when I was spending huge amounts on comics I never really considered the expenditure as value for money, and since the main purpose of comics is entertainment, I’m sticking with the comics that entertain me most.  The title which has managed to stay at the top of the list just happens to be Sin City at the moment. Sin_City-That_Yellow_Bastard_3_p21 It is kinda weird not having to trudge over to Edinburgh every week, but I’m not missing the journey.

I’m also not missing the Spider-Man crapshoot, where any given issue might be the worst comic ever written. The endless tinkering with classic characters is one of the primary reasons I gave up on certain comics in the first place. Green Arrow is Oliver Queen, not Connor whothefuckishe, and I haven’t gone back. I know the changes have probably given the title new life, but I just don’t care.

The best thing that has arrived from cutting out the titles which annoyed me, is the ability to go out and buy classic runs I could never have afforded had I been wasting the money on newer comics. The Frank Miller Daredevil / Elektra Saga, all of the Nestor Redondo comics, Hugo Pratt’s Corto Maltese stories and the E.C. titles which formed such an important part of my teen reading in reprint form.

I may be a bad geek, but at least I have taste.

Trying to get Joe Quesada to understand why people don’t like his editorial style may be difficult, but as long as a few brave souls refuse to read his butchery of the Spider-Man title, the message might get through. In the meantime I’ll be reading Sin City.

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Mobile Madness

Posted by BigWords on June 18, 2009

Half-holidays are big in the UK, “Look, it’s a Thursday. Lets have a day off to celebrate.”

On these days I normally go home and stick on cartoons or a video game, but today I braved a venture to Dunfermline high street. It isn’t the prettiest place in Scotland, but it’s better than Ballingry… Just.

The bank was kind enough to let me take more money out, but the next time I turn up I’ll be getting nothing unless I remember the shotgun. I decided that a walk around the shops was in order, because there’s nothing worse than a wallet full of money. But… what to buy? I figured that now was as good a time as any to get myself a new mobile ‘phone, after breaking / losing / throwing away all of my exisiting ones. Half an hour of looking at the variety of designs later, getting the feel of the different types and examining the various prining plans, I made my decision – I bought the cheapest piece of shit they had on pay-as-you-go.

This is where the weirdness turns up again. It seems I can’t go twenty-four hours without something annoying the hell out of me, and today was no different. The ‘phone was fresh out of the bag, unused and completely untouched when I popped the sim card in, but it wasn’t long before I started getting text messages. The ordinary “Hi and thanks for giving us money,” which is only to be expected from a whorish company like T-Mobile, but also a certain adult text.

I quote:

“[Name Removed] has added you as a friend on FB. To viev her profile click here: [http removed] Adult FB Help [‘phone no.] optout rply STOP.”

Which is completely fucking insane on a number of levels. Firstly, there is more chance of Shane McGowan becoming Prime Minister than me joining something like Adult Facebook. It’s a complete piece of piss, and there’s nothing there I need. It isn’t something I’m drawn to, and if there is no need for me to go there, then I ain’t fucking joining. I’ve never heard of this woman who has added me as a friend, so she isn’t a friend.

Less than an hour later I get this:

“Im desperate for a shag! come meet me! Click here: [http removed] Optout send STOP to #####]

I haven’t had sex in so long my balls are turning to concrete, and a cornhole is now sending me bullshit texts designed to frustrate me even more… It wouldn’t be so bad if the spelling had been checked before the text was sent, but everything about the message got under my skin.

The morons behind these texts can now consider themselves added to my shit list.

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What The Fuck Did I Say Now…?

Posted by BigWords on June 18, 2009

Fuck, fuck, fuckity fuck. Fuck-a-doodle-do. Blah, blah, blah…

Swearing. It’s not big, and it’s not clever.

Fucking hell, the endless debate about “bad language” continues, and I managed – once again – to get drawn into the bloody argument. I should know better. I should back away quietly, making absolutely positive that I’m not seen. I should run away like my nads are aflame. But no, I have to pitch in. I have to have my moment, and point out that swearing is fucking important. More than being important, it is a connection to those around us… The breaking of a social taboo that allows everyone a release.

Damn. I’m a sucker for a good argument, and over on the Absolute Write boards a fight conversation started about the use of ‘fuck’ in novels a couple of days ago. Not actual fucking, just the word. Am I missing something? Was there a memo? Did everyone suddenly decide that there was a line that could not be crossed? Am I alone in flogging the bloated, fly-ridden carcus of the subject? There are enough people, and smarter people at that, who are bitch-slapping the use of swearyness to make sure that every fucking person alive knows the difference between a curse and a turn of speech.

There are some phrases which I adore: “sheep-shagging, inbred, sonuvabitch cum-guzzling retard” being one I’m particularly fond of. David Britton (in a book called Motherfuckers no less) used “Jesus H. Christ erect”. Both valid contributions to the language, and both phrases which I can use pretty much every day. Would Bill Hicks have been funnier if he never swore? Or Billy Connolly? Or the genius that is Irving Welsh, who has mastered the art of swearing in a completely readable manner – and I challenge anyone to complain about the use of ‘fuck’ in Trainspotting.

And the saddest thing about this post: there are more fucks here on the screen than I have had in the past ten years.

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Dead Serious

Posted by BigWords on June 17, 2009

I like computer games almost as much as I like grubby seventies exploitation films, and there is one game which has been getting me harder than Gears Of War. Yeah, it has zombies in it (big surprise there), but it’s third-person…

Luckily I loved the original, and there is every sign that its’ follow-on will be sweet as apple pie. And just as fuckable.

DEAD RISING 2

Dead Rising 2 is the game which I’m getting rather sweaty over. I’ll be first in line to pick up the 360 release (go on, say it… I’m a gamerscore whore). If you haven’t played the original, it riffed heavily off Romero’s Dawn Of The Dead but had enough original ideas to stand alone. As an example of the ‘swarming’ tech, of which great things were promised in Starship Troopers, it achieved greatness – albeit with a severed-tongue-in-cheeck. How good were the zombies at finding their way? As long as they don’t get too close to the shitter then the AI is fine. Apparently zombies don’t like the smell of fresh turds – funny that, with them decaying and everything, you wouldn’t expect a floater to keep them from charging the stalls.

There’s a whole world waiting for zombies (and psychos) to get medieval on, and it seems we’re gtting a bigger playing field than before. What the increase in map size really means is the Achievements will be a bitch to get. It was hard enough photographing all of the tags in the alloted time, so a bigger explorable area will cause more hunting, more cursing at the screen and more broken controllers… Ah, the joy.

The original game was amazing, though riddled with annoying glitches. The time constraints, teeny, tiny writing and bastard-difficulty of the unlockable segments should have been noted by Capcom (who have already said the text will be SD readable). Dead Rising 2 is taking precedence in my fantasies, having ousted fervid dreams Summer Glau. That’s mighty impressive for a game I have yet to play. The last time I was this excited was when I saw the first ten minutes of the Dawn remake. We all know how the rest of that film turned out, so here’s hoping DR2 does a better job of sustaining the suspense.

And…

I got around to thinking about other films which could do with the game treatment. As Ghostbusters‘ release schedule in the UK is busy being fucked up by ‘exclusivity’ deals, we really should be demanding that someone get off their ass and make a Buckaroo Banzai game. Or Back To The Future. If someone had the balls to sign the cheque, the entirity of eighties film could be served up and I would be playing regardless of cost. Just imagine it… The Breakfast Club as an FPS…

Hands up everyone, who wants to shoot Judd Nelson in the face?

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After Gorno

Posted by BigWords on June 15, 2009

Not sure if I’m early or late with the realisation that Gorno is still big. I didn’t think much of Hostel, but the second film was funny enough to keep me amused; the Saw films have been so-so… Now there are more “Video Nasties” on the way. I wasn’t impressed with the DPP’s definition of films from the seventies and eighties as such, and the new raft of films being touted as ‘extreme’ just don’t seem… Extreme.
Note for producers: If you’re gonna make a film that people get queasy watching, then make sure you have the stones to go through with your promise to the viewer. If I see another Cabin Fever wannabe, I’m going to projectile vomit blood. Make the films terrifying.
Note for viewers: Don’t believe the hype, the films will never live up to your hopes (or fears, if you’re the kind of person who hides when Doctor Who is on the television). They aren’t going to shoot a real horror film until Takeshi Miike is allowed to play with Hollywood’s toys…

If you want a shopping list of the old DPP list go here. Most of the films should be on DVDs (I have some of them on video-CD’s burned from old video cassettes), or you can use BitTorrent to download them directly. Woah, what happened there? Damn morality elves are trying to take over the internet again.

My recommendations from the list: Zombie Flesh Eaters, Shogun Assassin, Cannibal Holocaust (which ended up in court in Italy after it was suspected of being a snuff film) and Killer Nun.

So, how does the horror genre step up?

To steal an old term (and a much overused one at that) we should think of Hardcore Horror as a side-step. Jigglin’ titties, as Bill Hicks would have said. Yeah, it’s the lowest common denominator, but it sells.

Picture it: Some blonde chick, bent over the kitchen table getting some serious tunnel love, then POW she grabs a knife from the rack, turns, slashing Bum Boy across the chest. He drops to the floor, blood gushing, his semi waving about as ‘the mood’ is shattered. Blondie grabs a bigger knife, turning him over onto his chest. The camera moves, so we can see Blondie pushing the knife up his asshole, twisting it as it goes in, her other hand free to give him a handjob.

Cut to- Blondie giving a blowjob to his corpse.

Damn, I think I might have hit upon my first film script with this idea…

“Hello, Mr. Bruckheimer, I have a script you might be interested in.” (pause) “Yeah, it’s fucking brilliant. It’ll be massive in the bible belt, those guys just love their moooo-veeees.”

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