The Graveyard

The Lair Of Gary James

Posts Tagged ‘george a. romero’

How Unforgivable Does An Artistic Work Have To Be Before Enough Is Enough

Posted by BigWords on October 26, 2009

There is a thread on Absolute Write about reading a second book by an author whose first book ain’t quite up to scratch, and it got me to thinking about how bad something has to be before a creator’s entire canon is ignored. In some ways I am able to see past the voice of a writer, or filmmaker, or musician, or any other art, to accept the output for what it is, but a small part of me knows that there is more to life than slogging through an annoying or ill-conceived concept for a few good moments. There are some big event releases coming up which I’ll be waiting a while for due to this very topic.

Avatar, James Cameron’s return to the big screen may be endlessly hyped by some, though after the dumb True Lies, an obnoxious Titanic remake, and his terrible Entourage cameo, I don’t see how he has any reason to expect my money. I’ll wait on the DVD, only if the film gets good reviews, or the television premiere if it sucks ass. The notion that he has anything new to say in the realm of SF is doubtful, especially when the idea behind Avatar is examined closely. It sounds like the plot of any number of novels by people who have something to say.

George Lucas, the man to blame thank for Star Wars: The Phantom Menace is another individual who has lost any respect from me. Did he fall on his head and forget how to direct? Jeez, it’s a good thing that the fanbase ignored the terrible aspects of his second trilogy long enough for him to turn a quick buck. I’ve been wary of Star Wars properties since those films, but there have been a few games (The Force Unleashed and the Lego tie-ins) which pulled back some of the wonder from those first Star Wars films. Better than Jedi Academy at any rate…

I’m more forgiving to people who strike me as people I could have a drink with and not be irritated by. Even after Land Of The Dead and Diary Of The Dead failed to impress me, I guess I would still check out any new film George A. Romero comes up with. Is that an asshole / box office equation that I’ve just come up with? There are other creators I forgive poor quality work from, and Clive Barker – once hailed as the future of horror by no less an authority than Stephen King – is one who goes straight to the top of that list.

Cabal, a book I love as much as I am infuriated by its missed opportunities, is still with me after fifteen years of re-readings. His Books Of Blood were brilliant, and I can forgive him pretty much anything for their existence alone. His film career may not have panned out quite so well, and I’ll comfortably ignore Rawhead Rex despite it sitting on my DVD shelf alongside his other cinematic outings. I bought it, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll ever watch the fucking thing – collector mentality only goes so far.

Those are familiar names. My opinion on their talent is irrelevant. Suckers will still shell out money for any old crap that is associated with Star Wars (and how else could stores shift Jar Jar Binks toys?), but that kind of loyalty has long since left me. I (thankfully) missed the One More Day storyline in Spider-Man as it was happening due to endless and awful Spidey crap from the late nineties. I hold my grudges well. Only… The Spirit (the DVD of which I finally managed to get running) is shit. I’m sure everyone is in agreement on this. Does that mean I should wait and see if Sin City 2 is okay for human viewing?

Frank Miller, whose work is divisive when discussed in polite company, is one of the very few comic book creators who have yet to create something completely unreadable. DK2 is a hard book to love, but it isn’t as terrible as some make it out to be. There is a rhythm and a specific cadence to his writing that instantly appeals, and his artwork on Sin City, while reminiscent of both Hugo Pratt and Jim Steranko in places, is a breath of fresh air. The Spirit is an anomaly, and I’m sure he will put it behind him.

I haven’t mentioned music yet, because that is trickier to separate the artist from their work. Many times I’ve heard a song which is catchy but at the same time doesn’t sound like it belongs to the performer. It isn’t necessarily that they are doing a cover of a famous track, it’s just that they aren’t the best singer for the song. Can you imagine anyone else but Roy Orbison singing In Dreams? No. That is a perfect match between singer and song, and it is a good benchmark for anyone to compare against.

Most people deserve at least two opportunities to prove themselves. If we implement the one strike rule, then James Cameron’s career would have amounted to a shit sequel to Piranha. No Terminator, no Aliens and no Titanic… It’s a good way of looking at most artistic endeavors.

Posted in Misc., Over The Line, writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Imagination Not Required

Posted by BigWords on September 2, 2009

The incestuous and necrophilic nature of Hollywood isn’t limited to the employment of cast and crew, and as the remakes and sequels keep on coming we will undoubtedly be subjected to more freakish displays than ever before. There is a list of upcoming horror films at which are remakes, reboots and continuations of beloved and ignored films alike. The list is quite comprehensive, though I warn you before you click the link… It will depress you.

Do not look at the list if you have suicidal tendencies.

Some of the choices beggar belief, and the decision-making abilities of the studios really need to be looked into in more depth at some point. The first film which jumped out at me – being perfectly cast and directed impeccably – is Battle Royale. Merely contemplating the notion that a Hollywood hack will transform this into yet another Escape From New York knock-off is enough to cause permanent erectile dysfunction, but the good news is that no news is forthcoming.

Hopefully it gets the rug pulled from under it, and the actors can go back to shooting 90210.

“Meh”, the creator of the list, admits to not having seen The Crazies, George A. Romero’s 1970s critique of the military disguised as a horror-thriller. The themes are along the same lines as Shivers, with the “youwannafuck” prompt coming from a toxin rather than a parasite. Interestingly, both Shivers and The Crazies share a common cast member in Lynn Lowry, but that is straying from the point. The point being-

Any remake of The Crazies will be a pale and hollow imitation.

And (for future reference) Breck Eisner isn’t fit to lick clean Romero’s testicles, never mind film a remake of one of his masterpieces. Have you seen Sahara? Is there anything in that abortion of a movie that makes you think he’s capable of directing a feature film? He’ll be back to directing television pilots if (sorry… when) he fucks this up.

I mentioned Escape From New York, so I should point out that it is also on the list. If they keep Kurt Russell it will be worth seeing, but the feeling of dread which emanates from the cesspool of originality that is Hollywood makes me think otherwise. If Snake Plissken is recast, as may be the case, then this deserves to be ignored and ridiculed relentlessly. Does the list get any better? Uh… No. Sorry.

The list gets worse. How much worse? Let’s try this out for size…

Hellraiser. The endless sequels, each one worse than the previous, eventually eroded any respect the character of Pinhead had, but the original is a classic. The film is a bit rough around the edges, but to need a remake after only twenty years is insane. Pascal Laugier, a French director, is set to direct this one. At least it wasn’t his inept countryman Fuckof, sorry… Pitof that was tapped for the project.

Small mercies, eh?

Invasion Of The Bodysnatchers is also being remade. Again. For what seems like the seventh or eight time. I’ve no idea why there is a need to remake this or Piranha, which is also on the list and which has also been remade to death. Both films appearing on a remake schedule might be one of the signs of the apocalypse…

A surprising fact about A Nightmare On Elm Street – given the fact that pedophilia is a major plot point – is that Victor Salva won’t be directing. It strikes me as a missed opportunity for a clever marketing campaign, which may have made the news of a remake interesting rather than soul-destroying. I would be amazed if “Jump Street” is willing to revisit the franchise, given how busy he is with real movies, but I live in hope.

Plan 9 From Outer Space being included is a joke, right?

I have no idea what drugs producers are using, but I want some of their insanity-inducing pills…

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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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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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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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