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The Lair Of Gary James

Archive for the ‘zombies’ Category

Something For Nothing…

Posted by BigWords on August 11, 2009

It used to be said that there is no such thing as a free lunch, but the days of having to trudge down to the shops for the product you want is long gone. There are ways and means to get your hands on all kinds of things, not limiting the methods of getting material to torrents but I’ll get to those in a while. The straightforward downloads are equally as easy to get your hands on as the torrents, so there is no reason to ignore them.

First off there is the previews and downloadable samples which companies sometimes place on the net. Vertigo (DC Comics’ adult imprint) has .pdf files of some of its’ comics available, just head to the Graphic Novels list and click on titles with #1 after the name. I recommend The Sandman unreservedly, and you should be picking up the collected volumes.

If you are a Marvel fan then Mile High has a badly-outdated page of “previews” on their site.

For books there isn’t a better free resource than the Project Gutenberg collection, which has documents available in a number of formats. With 25,000 completely free e-books it has become an invaluable source for public domain books.

So many people have uTorrent (or a similar program) on their computer now, so there’s no point in trying to pretend that you don’t know anything about it. The question becomes: what can you legally download? I have looked around, and it seems that there is quite a lot out there that is completely, absolutely 100% fine to leech. Just don’t tell anyone that I pointed out where to get all this stuff…

There’s a plentiful supply of public domain films over at Public Domain Torrents, including such ‘classics’ as The Killer Shrews, Reefer Madness and Carnival Of Souls. I didn’t say they were all good, but they’re more entertaining than a certain mega-budget movie released in cinemas recently… Night Of The Living Dead is on the site, and if you don’t have the DVD make sure you have the digital copy. Oh, and buy Dawn Of The Dead while you wait on it finding its way to your hard drive.

The Corporation, a Sundance winner no less, is available to download legally, though I should add that the special edition DVD is well worth the money.

Wired Magazine’s Creative Commons CD (143mb on disk). It’s sixteen tracks (mp3 format) of great music, and costs absolutely zilch. How much better does it get than that?

Jamendo has an amazing number of tracks available for leeching, though not a brilliant selection if your tastes run to more obscure and strange artists.

God Wants You Dead, written by Sean Hastings (founding CEO of Havenco – the company that set up the world’s first public datahaven on the sea-platform nation of Sealand) and Paul Rosenberg (author of the cypherpunk classic A Lodging of Wayfaring Men.)

Lawrence Lessig’s Free Culture is also available as a freely downloadable torrent. You should already have a copy of this, and buy a paper copy as well, just to show your support.

Time Management For Anarchists #1 by Jim Munroe and Marc Ngui. The 22 page comic is difficult to describe but worth the bandwidth. Download this, then head over to No Media Kings to learn more about the project.

LegalTorrents also have Sherlock Holmes, Tom Sawyer, Beowulf and other classics, but you should have bookmarked Gutenberg a looong time ago for all of your free reading material.

Join in, and leave links with any comments. I’ll put up a page with a list of free stuff when I have a few dozen links together.

Posted in comics, Misc., zombies | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

The Very Worst…

Posted by BigWords on July 28, 2009

Sometimes it is good to remind ourselves of the worst examples of anything, in case anyone feels the irresistible need to waste their money on them, so I’ve set out the five worst DVDs, computer games and comic-books.


  1. 48 Days Later. Ripping off a successful film is one thing, but ripping off a good zombie film when the market is already full of top-notch films is another entirely. This is an entirely unproductive and irrelevant waste of both time and money. Steer clear.
  2. Jigsaw. Nothing to do with the Saw film franchise, this is a cheap horror flick wherein a group of art students piece together a dummy which comes to life and kills them. The film is too slow, too stupid and too terrible to describe, but to give you and idea – this is much worse than Plan 9 From Outer Space.
  3. Super Mario Bros. When you absolutely, positively have to bore every motherfucker in the room to death, accept no substitutes. This is one of the shallowest game adaptations ever made, even outdoing Street Fighter for sheer stupidity.
  4. Meet The Spartans. The first rule of a parody- no, waitasec… The ONLY rule of a parody is: be funny. This redefines the extremes of unfunny, once the private domain of films such as Spaceballs and Lethal Weapon 4. It’s marginally less painful than watching paint dry, but not by much.
  5. Elektra. This makes the list due to the butchery of a classic comic-book character. You might think Catwoman, Howard The Duck or Batman & Robin deserves to be named and shamed more than this, but it was the only comic-book film with the opportunity to revolutionize Eastern combat scenes for a Hollywood audience. Epic fail.

Computer Games:

  1. Hellboy: Asylum Seeker. I had high hopes for this, but it is so ridden with bugs and glitches as to make it completely unplayable. The constant crashes, awkward controls and ugly appearance are enough to send anyone rushing from their computer screaming in agony…
  2. Star Trek Voyager: Elite Force. If being told “It was all a dream.” is annoying in a book, then in a computer game it is fucking unforgivable. Seriously, if people want to make a computer game based on Star Trek, at least let us play as Klingons so we can rip the heads off the alien enemies…
  3. Chrome. I had nearly forgotten about this, seeing as how it manages to have no original ideas whatsoever. It steals from nearly every FPS of the previous five years, manages to have the worst ladders in gaming history, has a story that barely counts as one and… Aw, hell- It’s too depressing to think about.
  4. TMNT. Film tie-in’s are meant to be bad, but this is terrible even for one of those. A piss-poor camera, terrible speed-challenges and unappealing style choices. There are small homages to previous games, but even those aren’t enough to make me want to play this again.
  5. Kingpin. The idea is fine, but the execution (no pun intended) is terrible. Characters who have joined you wander off in important shoot-outs, exploding barrels crash the game, there are solid walls you can walk through and the music is awful. The exact opposite of GTA.


  1. The Spider-Man Clone Saga. This felt like it ran on and on for nearly a decade, but it only ran for a couple of years. I was surprised that the storyline didn’t kill the title off, but it appears other people are willing to shell out cash on never-ending torment. Worse than One More Day
  2. Archie Meets The Punisher. This might have passed under your radar, but it did happen. Unfortunately. With a dumb plot, awkward art and one of the most unlikeable characters in comics (uh… Archie, obviously), this is a safe bet as one of the worst comics ever.
  3. Anything by Rob Liefeld. It’s a cheat, adding the entire output of an individual into a list like this, but the man has no talent whatsoever. Consider this free advice for any wannabe comic-book artists – Learn anatomy. To think I wasted so much money on his books, hoping he would improve…
  4. Comics Greatest World. Dark Horse rarely stumbles so badly as they did with their first attempt at a superhero universe. Never has a character been so aptly named as Hero Zero, and the majority of the other characters are equally as lame. That Barb Wire was the most successful title really says a lot about the idea. Read Ghost and X, ignore the rest.
  5. Extreme Justice? Extremely unreadable would be more appropriate. All the reasons JLA (and variations thereof) are fun to read is stripped away from the setup, and we’re left with a bunch of angry and unlikeable characters who are badly written.

There you go… Fifteen things to avoid.

Agreements, disagreements or rants are welcome.

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Fueling The Insanity Of An Already Mad Story

Posted by BigWords on July 15, 2009

I wanted to share this with people because I am forever grateful to whoever came up with the idea. I love it when I am given a new toy to play with, and this is the best I have come across in a long while. The following is an excerpt from a zombie tale, naturally…

Today hell erupted. Everyone nudges death in shock, coping or managing in noticable grief. I am one of the survivors.
The end is coming. Nearby, under darkness, Grace is noticably getting colder, left outside so everyone realizes… Damn, it’s too bad. I liked her. Don’t you imagine no ghouls shall linger on wherever living yet-
Shit, there’s one… Nudging closer…

It is a bit clunky, and the first person narration seems stilted, but there is good reason. Lets look again.

Today hell erupted. Everyone nudges death in shock, coping or managing in noticable grief. I am one of the survivors.
The end is coming. Nearby, under darkness, Grace is noticably getting colder, left outside so everyone realizes… Damn, it’s too bad. I liked her. Don’t you imagine no ghouls shall linger on wherever living yet-
Shit, there’s one… Nudging closer

Both “The end is coming” and “Nudging closer” are hidden in the preceeding text. But what of Grace? She has been put outside where the undead are shuffling, in the cold of the night… What is she doing?

The end is coming. Nearby, under darkness, Grace is noticably getting colder, left outside so everyone realizes… Damn, it’s too bad. I liked her. Don’t you imagine no ghouls shall linger on wherever living yet-

Oh, so there ain’t gonna be a happy ending then…

It will make editing something so multi-layered next to impossible, but I’m already in love with this idea, subliminally influencing the reader into a certain way of thinking as they unexpectedly get flash-forwards, deja-vu and mild disorientation. I am going to suggest a third layer as well, which will occupy every # word in the text (fourth, tenth, eighteenth, whatever) as an added complication. As I said, the editing of this technique will be next to impossible, but challenges are challenges, and I don’t give in easily.

This idea harkens back to a few cultural touchstones such as The Bible Code, subliminal advertising and classic foreshadowing, but it has the edge of insane brilliance which gets me fired up regardless of its origins. Nearly everything I touch seems to need an extra something which remains tantalizingly out of my grasp, yet this- This is a tool which I need to use. The effectiveness of the text-within-a-text may be unproven, and it may turn out to be unprovable, yet the psychology is sound.

We take in information all of the time without knowing we are absorbing the information. It is how tricksters magicians such a Derrin Brown are able to convince people of the most unbelievable things, or to implant thoughts in the minds of unwary audience members.

Be careful when you read something of mine from now on, I might be prepping your unconscious for a bank job…

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Posted by BigWords on July 12, 2009

The Creature looked down upon the village hungrily, eyes narrowed and shallow of breath, determining which foodstuff he could kill without struggle…

Monsters have played a large part of my life. When I was a li’l kid, I spent a lot of time watching the classic Universal monsters stalk and smash their way across the screen in television repeats of the legendary movies. As I grew older, and started to understand the other-ness of the stories, I became obsessed with Victor Frankenstein’s stitched-together creation and the shambling horrors of George A. Romero’s ghouls. They were primeval, instinctual nightmares dredged up from the subconscious and given life.

The foodstuffs were moving slowly, makings sounds at one another. They carried their gatherings like he did, but garbed themselves in strange materials to hide their true shape. The Creature knew they were breakable, and when broken they gave up their juices as any other foodstuff would.

Monsters speak to us in ways which romantic heroes or adventurous spacefarers cannot or will not. The essence of a true monster is simple and complex, and it is hard to explain just how important the EC Comics reprints forged an unbreakable connection in my mind between shadows and fears. My mother tells a story every so often about one night I stayed up to watch a Quatermass serial. I forget which one I saw, but the most likely culprit seems to be Quatermass And The Pit. I had gone to bed after watching the black and white images long enough for them to have made an impression, but woke in the middle of the night. A scream brought her running to my room.

The outline of my dressing gown hanging on the door had stirred images of a thing standing before the foot of my bed.

I bring this up in the hope of explaining how a physical reaction to the written (or filmed) word is still possible in an age when the better part of our world is mapped and charted. The nuances of the universe are being slowly unraveled, while scientists struggle to comprehend the ways in which new energy sources can be found… Is there room for the unknowable or the unseen? Have we destroyed the sense of fear which led our ancestors to write ‘here be dragons’ on maps?

I don’t think we’re even close to claiming superiority over the night. We’re still bound to the fears of the dark. Horror may have changed its’ clothes over the decades, but it’s still the same chap. The Bogeyman may not be an undead Count, or a tragic Cenobite, or a screaming Banshee, or the flesh-eating Wendigo, but he is still waiting to catch you unawares when the moon is high in the sky and there is no-one around to hear your screams. The Monster, as a character in and of itself, will remain in the world of writing as long as there are writers.

Carefully, steadily, the Creature made his way to the foot of the hill. His terrible aspect hidden in the outstretched fingers of the ancient trees.

There is no way I can let the tradition of classic monsters go. They are much a part of me as any other cultural influence.

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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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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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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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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 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.


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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Links To Things That Keep Me Sane(ish)

Posted by BigWords on June 14, 2009

CAT, n. A soft, indestructible automaton provided by nature to be kicked when things go wrong in the domestic circle. (Ambrose Bierce)

Yes, starting a blog with an obscure quote is fucking despicable. Don’t care.

There hasn’t been much in the way of worthwhile writing flowing forth from my pen. The time which was formerly dedicated to coming up with ideas is now free time. This is very, very dangerous – I get bored easily, and when I’m bored, I tend to come up with things to do. In the lean times (between the muse shitting on me from a great height) I get cranky, slightly insane and tend to spout off at people who piss me off.

Today I’m trying to be nice, as coaxing ideas is difficult enough without the threat of physical violence. There is no sign that the muse is going to void her bowels on me any time soon, so I have put together some nice links for your edification – the theme of which is ZOMBIES:

This is a list of zombie rules from a much better blogger than I.

Here is where you will learn about horror tropes.

…and learn about how saying the Z-word is bad.

de wolfe music can be found here. Their tune ‘The Gonk’ is heard at the end of Dawn Of The Dead.

You can find job opportunities in a zombie outbreak here.

Dead Source is a George A. Romero fan site you should check out.

Okay, so it isn’t much of a reading list.

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