Television Review: iZombie Pilot

izombieWith the entertainment industry absolutely saturated with all things zombie, I had zero expectations going into this new TV series.  To me yet another book, movie, or TV show about zombies was like adding salt to an anchovy.  We don’t need it.  And eventually we’re going to spit this undead mess out of our mouth and make room for the next fantastic trend.  But for now we’ll continue to pretend that there are still more rotting human tales to tell (I guess I can’t complain too much.  I’m responsible for some of that salt).

iZombie is a new TV show based on the Vertigo/DC Comic developed  by the CW Television Network.  To give a thorough review I’m going to include spoilers, so if you’re looking for the verdict just read the last line or two for a summarization.  That’s usually how these things go.

The spoils:  Girl is a doctor and engaged to be married.  Life is good.  Girl ends up at a boat party where there’s an isolated zombie outbreak.  Girl is contaminated by the zombie virus and ends up drowning in the water.  Girl wakes up in a body bag on the beach completely intact (including her rationale, motor skills, and sense of humor) but a bit paler and with a new appetite for “brain food.”

Fast forward five months and she’s no longer engaged (loves her fiancé too much to fill him in or subject him) and she now has a job in forensics doing autopsies—talk about convenience food.  Out of nowhere, the woman’s co-worker puts two and two together and labels her a zombie.  But not to worry cuz he’ll never tell.  She explains to the secret holder that if she doesn’t eat brains she gets stupid and angry.  He’s down with letting her munch at work…ON work, and after eating the brain of a recent homicide victim in her salad like some pink crouton tofu, she develops visions of what the victim went through and so establishes a relationship with a detective who thinks she’s a psychic.  In a nutshell, that’s iZombie.

The one thing that helped me look past some of the poorly written jokes was the concept that pale girl also picks up a few attributes from the person she’s currently digesting.  So not only is she seeing through their eyes, but she’s got some of their brains…figuratively; be it bad habits or a foreign language, etc.  The pilot didn’t elaborate for how long she holds onto these new talents and faults, but my guess is just long enough to get the case solved, while each episode she’ll pick up fresh traits.

iZombie is 80% whodunit cop show and 20% undead.  My cons for the show would have to include the people close to zombie girl and their ignorance toward her new look.  It was a bit unbelievable.  And at least half of the “jokes” fell stale.  Normally character problems for me fade after time, so those characters I may have issues with will probably feel like good acquaintances by mid season, and at this rate I anticipate sticking around that long.

As bad as I tore up the zombie bandwagon at the beginning of the review, I have to admit I’m looking forward to the next episode.  And maybe even the one after that.  Pass the salt please.

Check out this iZombie trailer:

Article: Where Do We Go When We Die?

angelsIt is one of our oldest questions: Where do we go when we die – or does death simply mean oblivion?

The ancient Egyptians believed that the soul went on to the kingdom of the dead, known as the Duat. To get there, it faced demons and fierce animals, finally arriving at the Hall of Two Truths, where its heart was weighed against the feather of truth and justice. If the heart was heavier, the soul was devoured by the crocodile-headed goddess Ammut. If it was lighter, it would travel on to rejoin loved ones, live in a comfortable house, have plenty to eat and drink, and enjoy constant sun and a cool breeze.

For the ancient Greeks, the afterlife was not so rosy. Greek souls ended up either in Hades, a cold, damp and dark realm guarded by the three-headed hound Cerberus, or Tartarus, where monsters and wicked humans were imprisoned for eternity. On the other hand, the Elysian Fields were a paradise reserved only for very good or distinguished people.

The Jewish people of Old Testament times believed that the dead went to an underworld

called Sheol where they slept forever, knowing neither pleasure and reward, nor pain and punishment. This view eventually changed. The Book of Enoch, a religious text dated to the 2nd century BPE, describes Sheol as being divided into four sections:

–                     One where the saints await judgement day.

–                     One where moderately good people await their reward.

–                     A third where the wicked are punished and also await judgement day.

–                     A last, where the wicked are tormented for eternity.

According to the Buddhists’ Tibetan Book of the Dead,  souls wander for up to 100 days in an intermediary bardo state, after which they either go on to the ultimate peace of Nirvana, or are reborn to new earthly lives through the process of reincarnation.

The Roman Catholic Church indoctrinated the concepts of a heavenly paradise, a fiery hell, and purgatory, a temporary resting place where souls undergo remedial punishment for minor sins before being admitted to heaven.

With the advances in modern medical care, the near-death experience has complicated the subject of life after death. Dr. Raymond A. Moody Jr., author of the ground-breaking 1975 book, Life After Life, and like-minded researchers have found that people revived after clinical death often describe several of the following events:

–                     The sensation of floating, seeing and hearing everything going on around their body.

–                     Passing through a dark tunnel where the sound of wind or even music may be heard.

–                     Ascending toward a light at the end of the darkness.

–                     Being greeted by deceased loved ones, a guide, religious figure or being of light.

–                     Being shown a life review.

–                     Experiencing a pleasant, heaven-like place or – rarely – a fearful, hell-like place.

–                     An increased interest in the meaning of life, and a loss of their fear of death.

If you have had a near-death experience, Halloween Forevermore would love to hear from you!

Article: Gothic and Great

Vintage GothicIt is said all great works stand on the shoulders of giants. Of course, modern horror owes a huge debt to gothic fiction. Fingerprints of the gothic remain in retellings of haunted houses that are more than settings but characters in their own rights and in madness visiting even the most unlikely characters.
Horace Walpole’s 1764 “The Castle of Otranto” is credited as the first gothic novel. Ann Radcliffe, Matthew Gregory Lewis, and Christian Heinrich Spiess wrote great gothic tales in the 1700’s. The Victorians embraced the writing style, immortalized by such greats as Oscar Wilde, Henry James, and the Bronte sisters. Bram Stoker’s “Dracula,” Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein,” and myriad works by Edgar Allan Poe continue to inspire film makers, readers, and writers and even land on reading lists for lucky high schoolers.
Some “stock” characters that appear in gothic literature. First and foremost, the virtuous maiden, a lady who often harbors a mysterious past and with whom men fall in love, presides over the action. Her hero overcomes odds and sometimes the supernatural to rescue her, should she land in the hands or a villain, tyrant, or ruffians. Usually, there is some comic relief provided by stupid servants or buffoons. Clergy members often factor in as well, but many are weak and sometimes evil. Certainly, never to be forgotten are the settings themselves. Dark, often medieval settings like crumbling castles, fog-enshrouded graveyards, and haunted woods, places with disturbing histories peopled with archetypical characters define the genre.
Often embraced plot devises include night journeys and looming deadlines, miraculous survivals and supernatural powers, all inevitably blanketed with psychological implications including fear and madness. Gothic fiction explores conflicting feelings through classic good versus evil, sometimes with surprising outcomes.

Movie Review: The Last Man on Earth (1964)

The Last Man on Earth
The Last Man on Earth

The Last Man on Earth, Directors: Ubaldo Ragona (as Ubaldo B. Ragona) , Sidney Salkow (uncredited)
Writers: William F. Leicester (screenplay), Richard Matheson (screenplay) (as Logan Swanson) 
Stars: Vincent Price, Franca Bettoia, Emma Danieli 

Based on Richard Matheson’s literary masterpiece, I Am Legend, The Last Man on Earth makes the first of three attempts (the second being The Omega Man starring Charlton Heston and the third the CGI fest I Am Legend with Will Smith) at bringing Matheson’s book to the big screen.  Such a simple idea with minimal characters, yet Hollywood can’t seem to get it right.  While the other two adaptations may have been more visually stunning (well, if you like your monsters full blown CGI; poorly done I might add), The Last Man on Earth is the most similar to the book, yet fails horribly in its delivery.  I blame the writer and director.  And I’ll punish them more later.

Vincent Price plays Dr. Robert Morgan, the lone survivor in a world that has succumbed to a world-wide plague that has turned the living into shambling, weak vampire/zombie hybrids.  While the sun sleeps, Dr. Morgan spends his nights spinning vinyl, reminiscing, and giving his best effort to keep his sanity intact, all the while the undead relentlessly pound on his residence in an attempt to gain access and make the doctor one of their own.  Once daylight breaks, the doctor attends to his daily ritualistic chores and preparations including filling up on gas for his vehicle and generator, disposing of plagued bodies of those he has destroyed while sleeping, restoring expired garlic, and fixing mirrors and boards broken from the beating the house took the night before.

Ultimately the doctor runs into a female.  There is a twist, and we find out a theory the doctor has regarding why he’s still alive.

Let me say this.  In 2012, Matheson’s book received the Vampire Novel of the Century Award from the Horror Writer’s Association.  If you have yet to read it, this really should encourage you to skip all film versions and do so.  I’ve yet to find someone who disliked the book.  That being said, let’s get back to punishing the filmmakers.

The-Last-Man-on-EarthI think the biggest error the creators of the film made was to have Price narrate his actions.  This dumbed down the movie significantly and pointed out the obvious instead of trusting the viewers.  The narration in this case was just lazy filmmaking.  Yes, Mr. Price has a hauntingly beautiful voice, but this is a movie.  These tales are told visually and by using necessary dialogue, leaving the viewer’s mind to fend for itself and to help create and sometimes interpret.

While there is one genuinely creepy scene in which a plague victim who had recently been buried (rather than thrown into a burning pit normally used for disposal of bodies) scratches at the doctor’s door asking to be let in, overall the acting is poor, the actions and reactions are not believable, and potential is ruined.  Surely the theme will attract this generation due to the abundant interest in post-apocalyptic scenarios; however, unless they are in it for nostalgia, I think viewers will find themselves disappointed.

 

Watch the FULL movie right here:

Article: An Auspicious Friday

Friday the 13thIn 2015, three months host Friday the Thirteenths. February, March, and November.

For some Halloween enthusiasts, such auspicious dates deserve celebration, perhaps watching one or all of the twelve slasher flicks starring hockey-mask-clad villains from the 1980’s. Such was the popularity of the films and their lead, Jason Voorhees, that the Friday the Thirteenth franchise inspired merchandising, novellas, and comics. Horror enthusiasts know hearing “chi-chi-chi-ma-ha-ha” means bloody trouble.

The ominous date also served as motivation and title for an award-winning Canadian-American television series that ran from October, 1987 until May, 1990. In the series, cousins Micki and Ryan inherited an antique shop and discovered many of their wares were cursed by the Devil. With the help of Uncle Lewis, they retrieve the items and secured them in a protected vault.

Some, including theoretical historians and novelists like Dan Brown and John Robinson, point to the arrest of the Knights Templar by King Phillip IV of France on 13 October, 1307 as a potential origin of the ill-meaning of the day. Others claim the foreboding for number 13 harkens to Jesus’ last supper when Judas betrayed him with a kiss. Norse beliefs placed Loki as a late arrival for Frigg’s dinner party, bringing bad luck to all in attendance.

However, most historians believe appreciation of the bad fortune brought on Friday the thirteenth began in the late 1800’s, perhaps when retired Civil War Captain William Fowler started the Thirteen Club to repudiate superstition.
superstition_1950sStill, to this day, businesses report lower productivity and higher call-offs when a Friday falls on the 13th of a month. Perhaps this is because of paraskevidekatriaphobia or friggatriskaidekaphobia, terms for fear of the date coined by Isador Coriat in Abnormal Psychology. A perusal of registries of natural disasters does reveal many tragic occurrences on such Fridays, but statisticians do not see a glut.

However, admirers of the macabre may find their hearts beat a strange cadence on Friday the Thirteenth, whatever their reasons.

Article: Drive-In Radio Spots

If you are old enough to remember the drive-in, then you are probably old enough to remember horror movie ads. And though most may recall watching trailers on television, I vividly remember listening to ads on the car radio. I have been collecting these audio spots for a few years now, and I thought I would share my favorites here. They are posted for pure nostalgia only and I claim no ownership of them. Enjoy these great MP3s!

Asylum of the Insane
Asylum of the Insane
Basket Case
Basket Case

 

Dawn of the Dead
Dawn of the Dead
Equinox
Equinox
Halloween Poster
Halloween Poster
Blood-Spattered Bride
Blood-Spattered Bride
Lady Frankenstein
Lady Frankenstein
magic poster
Magic
Phantasm
Phantasm
Suspiria
Suspiria