Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Apocalypse Poker: The Zombie Thriller Reviva Las Vegas!

                       Click here to read the first chapter for free!

The Most Iconic Zombie Killer of All Time Just Challenged The Walking Dead

With the hotly anticipated television continuation of the Evil Dead film series “Ash vs. Evil Dead” in pre-production, we caught up exclusively this week with series executive producer and star Bruce Campbell, and fans can rejoice because the boomstick is back in a BIG way.
“We have a wonderful room of talented writers,” Campbell told us of the show, whose first episode will be directed by series originator Sam Raimi from a script he wrote with Ivan Raimi, Craig DiGregorio, and Tom Spezialy. Sam Raimi will also serve as series executive producer along with Rob Tapert and Campbell with DiGregorio to serve as executive producer/showrunner.
With ten episodes ordered, Campbell told us that principal photography is slated for this April in New Zealand with a planned series debut on Starz and promised of his portrayal of the horror icon he helped to create (spoilers follow), “I’m bringing everything to the table. It’s a feisty version of Ash, who’s grizzled and just wants to be left alone.”
Having had a chance to read an early version of the pilot episode last year, I can concur. In it we are introduced to a nomadic Ash, a figure who’s not only haunted by traumatic memories but also terrorized by the unwelcome continuance of Deadite attacks, which have followed him to the myriad Midwestern trailer parks he’s been forced to call home. In an effort to eke out an existence and in keeping with his previous choice of career, the character spends his days working at Ted’s Superclub as a stock room trainee and, in true Ash fashion, his evenings chasing skirt in roadside bars.
It’s a pitch perfect blend of comedy and horror, and it’s Ash through and through, which is a good thing, given the vocal fan disappointment over Fede Alvarez’s 2013 Evil Dead reboot, which chose to not feature the character. We asked Campbell if he felt the passionate fan response assisted in the return of his chainsaw arm-wearing, smart-ass antihero.
“People would just not let it go,” offered Campbell (who originated the role in 1981’s The Evil Deadand reprised it in 1987 in Evil Dead II and once again in 1992 in Army of Darkness) of Alvarez’s retool, which he produced. “They may have liked the film, but they wanted Ash [to be in it].”
Joining Campbell for “Ash vs. Evil Dead” are previously announced actors Ray Santiago and Dana DeLorenzo, the former portraying Ash’s idealistic immigrant sidekick “Pablo Simon Bolivar” and the latter “Kelly Maxwell,” a moody wild child trying to outrun her past.
“I was there during the casting process, and they’re very talented,” said Campbell. “Aside from the ensemble [aspect], they each needed to be able to hold their own because they’ll have their own series of missions. It’s an epic tale. How could you not [plan for that]? I’m a strong proponent of the ‘big picture’ plan, and we are planning for five seasons.”
As for what we can expect, Campbell offered, “We are competitive with ‘The Walking Dead,’ like, ‘We’ll show those fuckers!’ [Our] Deadites are very clever. They not stupid shufflers. They can mimic people; they can drive cars. They’re a fun threat. They [‘The Walking Dead’] are right up there [though] with being responsible for the current resurgence [of horror].”
Reflecting on returning to the property with cohort Raimi thirty-four years following its initial release, the actor (who recently wrapped shooting the trivia series “Last Man Standing,” which he hosts for CONtv, and who also is re-releasing his self-authored books If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B Movie Actor and Make Love! The Bruce Campbell Way in digital format) stated, “It’s the last laugh. We’ve come full circle. The first Evil Dead film allowed for the most artistic freedom on anything I’ve worked on. Starz is giving us the same opportunity with this series.”
As for his standing within the genre world (he’s beloved by film fans and convention-goers alike, a circuit he’s been historically quite active within),“A lot of actors do one [convention] and then never go back,” he stated. “I think they don’t like being stared at. For me, the conventions are my bread and butter. They put my kids through school. I thank the fans. I just learned early on that you should never stay in the hotel [where the convention is being held], or you’ll end up in the elevator with Darth Vader,” Campbell laughed.
Resuming sincerity, he finished, “It’s great, but we’re all just schmoes at the end of the day. If you forget that, you are doomed.”

A Medical Student Ends Up Rooming With A Zombie—And Things Get Silly

Think twice before you cheekily post an for a roommate — wanted dead or alive. A squeamish medical student finds himself with a zombie paying half of his rent and things get adorably gross from there.
Roommate Wanted - Dead or Alive was co-written and co-directed by Lærke Kromann and David Crisp as a graduation film for the Animation Workshop. It's a rather sweet claymation zombie story, one that involves less flesh eating and more slapstick bodily decay.

Click here and enjoy!

Forefathers of zombie genre recalls making of iconic film

When John Russo and George Romero sat down to write “Night of the Living Dead,” their goal was to make a truly scary horror movie.
They not only met that goal but created a whole new genre in the process.
Russo — who will appear at the Wizard World pop-culture convention ( this weekend in Cleveland — is one of the founding fathers of the thriving zombie phenomenon, and a living legend in the industry.
But back in the mid-’60s, he was just part of a small Pittsburgh television production company that specialized in low-budget commercials.
With a goal of getting into the movie game, Russo and Romero and their handful of business partners ponied up $600 apiece for a film budget.
Russo and Romero were the writers in the group.
“We decided it should be a horror film and that it would start in a cemetery,” said Russo in a phone interview from his Pittsburgh home. “George came in with half a story that would become ‘Night of the Living Dead.’ But it was about space aliens. The girl got away and gets to the house, but more of them come after her. I said, ‘This has all the right twists and turns, but who is attacking?’ I said it could be dead people. But what were they after? I thought, just about flesh-eating. George got called away, and I put it in the script.”
Russo and Romero would further fine-tune the script. Romero added the final siege, with the zombies unsuccessfully trying to get into the house.
“Night of the Living Dead,” released in 1968, became a landmark piece of horror, a low-budget masterpiece shot in grainy black and white in the Pittsburgh area. It would spawn a stream of movies, novels, comic books and television series that shows no sign of slowing down.
A big part of its initial success was that it stood apart from the status quo.
“Hollywood was making carbon-copy horror films at the time,” said Russo. “Attack of the Giant Grasshoppers, Attack of the Giant Lizards. They were all the same. The National Guard would be called out. They weren’t really scary.”
The movie’s realism ramped up its terror and became part of the blueprint for all that would follow. Modern takes on a zombie apocalypse — think “The Walking Dead” — borrow heavily from the original film’s goal of showing how people react under pressure.

“We said, ‘If this really happened, how would people behave?’ We wanted them to be real,” said Russo, adding that there was no attempt at making social commentary. “You don’t want people to step outside of the character. The sheriff gets called a redneck, but he was just doing a job that needed to be done. They were all just creatures of their time.”
Almost all zombie movies that came in the wake of “Night of the Living Dead” also adhere to the rules of behavior that were created, with great detail, by Russo and Romero.
“We thought out the rules about zombies,” said Russo. “The way to kill them by destroying the brain. What parts of them were animated and what parts weren’t. One of our group thought they should move like Boris Karloff, dragging a foot, but I thought they would have a certain amount of rigor mortis, and move slowly and stiffly. Every single thing we thought out.”
In one memorable segment of “Night of the Living Dead,” the chaos enveloping the Pittsburgh area is shown in a series of television news reports in which various cities are flashed on the screen while “live footage” is shown. Among those cities are Youngstown and Sharon, Pa.
It was a very effective technique, but one borne out of necessity.
“We had a low budget,” said Russo. “By adding the city names, we could inexpensively show that [the zombie outbreak] was happening all over the place without actually going there.”

Doctors Explain Why ‘The Walking Dead’ Really Stinks

One of the nice things about AMC’s “The Walking Dead” is that if you can accept the whole “zombie apocalypse” premise, the show is otherwise pretty consistent and accurate, medically speaking.
Amputations need to be cauterized; wounds need antibiotics; malnourished, immunocompromised survivors can fight off a hundred walkers only to be felled by the flu. Even a medical expert previously confirmed to MTV News that “The Walking Dead” has done an admirable job of realistically portraying its characters’ various illnesses and injuries.
There’s just one thing the show’s writers might have overlooked: The small problem of zombie stank.
One medical professional clued us in to this issue during a recent “Walking Dead”-related discussion, when he told an MTV News writer that he’d reached the limits of his suspension of disbelief back in the very first season, during the scene where Rick and Glenn coat themselves with zombie innards in order to blend in with the herd. The problem? No human being would be able to tolerate getting so up-close-and-personal with rotting human flesh, for indisputable scientific reasons.
Eager to know more, MTV News called up said medical professional — internist Dr. Joshua Rosenfield (a.k.a. my father) — as well as our go-to trauma specialist, Dr. Deborah Mogelof, to find out once and for all just how much of an issue the odor of the walking dead would be. (Interviews took place separately, and have been edited/condensed.)
The Walking, Stinking Dead
MTV News: Let’s just get right to the point: In a world populated by walking corpses, what would the aroma be like?
Dr. Rosenfield: If the dead are rotting, the smell would be quite overpowering.
Dr. Mogelof: Dead bodies kind of fill up with gases. It’s an awful, awful smell, completely overwhelming. I don’t know if you’ve ever — if you go into a house with a dead body, it’s completely overwhelming from the moment you walk in the door.
Dr. Rosenfield: Have you ever smelled rotting meat? Or roadkill? The chemical involved actually has a name — putrescine — it’s an amino acid.
Fun fact: Putrescine not only smells awful, but has been demonstrated to be toxic to lab rats when inhaled in large doses.
MTV News: Would it ever get better? Is there any point at which the dead would stop smelling so bad?
Dr. Mogelof: As long as there’s rotting flesh on the corpse, it’s going to smell.
Needless to say, this is bad news; the dead of The Walking Dead are plenty fleshy — as our heroes so often discover when they get up close and personal with one.
MTV News: So, just for instance, you couldn’t really wrestle with a walking, rotting corpse.
Dr. Mogelof: No. Absolutely not. No.
MTV News: What would happen if you tried? Would you be vomiting uncontrollably?
Dr. Mogelof: I would. I think most people would.
MTV News: And if you were trying to camouflage yourself as a zombie, so you could walk among them, by smearing guts all over you—(Dr. Mogelof: Ew.) — would it be possible to function?
Dr. Mogelof: Not really. I think you would have a hard time dealing with that, with that smell on you.
However, there’s hope for our heroes. Because not everyone has a working sense of smell.
MTV News: If your sense of smell were really compromised…
Dr. Mogelof: Yes, that would help. The gases might cause you to cough, but it’s the vulgarness of the smell that’s really going to get you.
MTV News: So who would have an advantage in a world full of rotting flesh?
Dr. Rosenfield: People who worked in an abbatoir might handle it better, or people with really strong stomachs.
MTV News: Is it typical for people who work with dead bodies to go nose-deaf?
Dr. Rosenfield: Not really. But if it were a matter of life and death, I suppose you could become inured to it.
Dr. Rosenfield: Zombies smell so bad — or rather, they would smell so bad, if they were real. That’s why it’s strange that it’s never addressed. They never show anybody noticing that there must be zombies around because they’re smelling something.
MTV News: So basically, nobody should ever be caught by surprise by a zombie, because they should always be able to smell if one is nearby?
Dr. Rosenfield: Yes. Unless of course the smell is so pervasive that they can’t sort out the smell of near zombies from the smell of far zombies.
In summary: The walking dead of “The Walking Dead” would stink so badly that you’d always be able to smell a herd coming — but the world of “The Walking Dead” would stink so badly, generally, that all the most effective zombie-slayers would be better off having no sense of smell at all.

The Silly Sexism of 'The Walking Dead'

The Walking Dead, like any show, has its problems. While it is one of the most diverse shows on television, many have criticized its revolving door of people of color: killing one off before adding the next, as if having too many non-white people onscreen at one time would be too much. And while there are lots of women onscreen -- including women of color: Michonne kicks ass as well as kicking the ass of stereotyped writing -- there is another small thing that continues to irk me when I tune in every Sunday.
Rick, Darryl and the other dudes look fit for an apocalypse: their scruffy faces get scruffier every season, and flashbacks to the smooth-faced Sherriff Rick of Season 1 are almost shocking in their stark difference. It's an effective plot device, really; a way of illustrating both the passage of time and the ways in which priorities/capabilities have changed. In last night's episode, Rick finally says the title, admitting, "We are the walking dead." And it's true, they are. They collectively stagger down the road, zombie and living alike, both men and women: dirty, bedraggled and weather-beaten. So why then, if the dudes are forced to wander the ruins of the United States with Castawaybeards, do the ladies have underarms as smooth as Baby Judith's cheek?
It's a small beef, I know, but one that is repeated in too many post-apocalyptic, science fiction and dystopian films to go unnoticed. BuzzFeed made a hilarious listicle last year cataloging the ridiculousness: "12 Female Characters Who Keep Shaving Despite Constant Peril." And it is ridiculous, the notion that with death around every corner, women would still take the time to slip away to the bathroom and shave their armpits. In the last episode of Walking Dead the group couldn't even find water. You mean to tell me the women not only shaved -- but dry shaved? No. I can't believe that. I don't think any woman would be that desperate.
This ridiculous hairlessness is confounding considering the lengths the show goes to be convincing in other aspects of the zombie apocalypse: sickness, zombie gore, hunger, violence. It's bizarre that a show with a scope as wide as The Walking Dead's can imagine many things, but women with armpit hair is not one of them.
Part of this problem is the writers: I could find reference to only three women writers in a list of over twenty credited for The Walking Dead. Much has been written about the mixed results of male writers penning female characters, and we see the results in the media we consume every day: female characters who are unrelatable and lacking in complexity...who shave their armpits during the zombie apocalypse. This is part of the reason so many -- myself included -- have latched on to Shonda Rhimes#TGIT shows: women! Complex women! Relatable, diverse women! It's an oasis in a dry desert of missed marks.
But it's not just the male writers, of course. Even many female writers wouldn't stop and think, "Hey wait, the women should be fuzzier." Our culture informs our media, and in a culture that both infantilizes and sexualizes women, it's unsurprising that no one would consider the absence of body hair: we're so used to its erasure (in advertising, in film, in television) that its absence is somewhat realistic: women don't have body hair, we're told. So when it's missing -- even in the most unlikely scenarios -- we don't even notice.
It's disturbing that women in other realities (dystopian, post-apocalyptic or sci-fi) -- stories of which, unfortunately, are few and far between -- are subject to the same sanitization that women in our own sexist world are. In the past I've written about the limits of the white imagination when it comes to imagining characters of color in fictional worlds, and the same is true for the collective imagination when it comes to women: our imaginations are stunted by the -isms of our time.
Perhaps this is why there are so few stories -- books and film -- that tell the stories of women and people of color in worlds beyond our own. The future, it seems, belongs mostly to white men, another reflection of the values we see in our day-to-day realities. Whether the scenario is alien invasion, zombie apocalypse or government-gone-mad, the story tends to center on white men, with everyone else in their role rotating around them in their "proper place." Hairless women. One black character killed off to be replaced by another. Would it be a stretch to point out that Glen in The Walking Dead is the least bearded of the men in the cast, a reminder of the traditional emasculation of Asian men in American media? Maybe. Maybe not. But it's something to notice.
This is why I never stop hunting for science fiction and post-apocalyptic fiction that gives a glimpse at another vision of the future. Kenyan short film Pumzi is one. Upcoming sci-fi romance out of Ethiopia Crumbs is another. Anything by Nnedi Okorafor. Anything by Octavia Butler. Chang-rae Lee's recent book On Such a Full Sea. There are others, but there are not enough.
Our sexism (and racism) is ingrained in us. It permeates the stories we tell and how we imagine the future. Many have called the apocalypse -- in whatever form it arrives in -- "the great equalizer." The thing that brings all of humankind together against the thing that threatens our survival. But when I look at many of the stories we have that tell the story of our future -- sci-fi or speculative -- too many of them look just like the past.

Poster and trailer for The Biker Warrior Babe vs. The Zombie Babies from Hell