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FEARNET.com News and Reviews

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    New comic book Wednesday has come and gone. The dust at your local comic shop has settled. An eerie silence descends as you finish reading your last superhero book of the week. Now it's time for something a little more sinister. Welcome to Bagged and Boarded: comic reviews of the sick, spooky, twisted and terrifying!
     
    XX No. 1
     
    A few weeks back I reviewed the Zero issue of this comic, X. Now we get the first issue in this run of the series, and it's more of the bloody, high-octane fun we saw in the intro issue. The X Killer is a masked vigilante who's going around brutally murdering the corrupt business tycoons in the nasty city of Arcadia. This issue, he's beginning to wrangle the help of a young punk reporter, but the bullets are flying!
     
    Bag it or board it up? Is X the type of comic for you? If you like Batman but wish he'd just go ahead and shoot his arch-enemies in the face, then yes… this comic is for you. This is an exciting, violent, sordid revenge/justice tale that has a noir setting and enough sleaze and gore to satisfy even the most fanatical. Check it out (but wear a kevlar vest while doing so).
     
    CreepyCreepy No. 12
     
    The classic horror comic anthology Creepy is back! The formula hasn't changed, but the stories and artwork are all new. Sometimes the issues splash in a classic, original, Creepy tale, but for the most part this is fresh, awesome material. And with artwork by Mike Mignola, Richard Corben and Richard P. Clark. There's something for everyone in this comic (so long as you're a little twisted, of course).
     
    Bag it or board it up? My favorite thing about Creepy is its place in time. Even though the comic is being written currently, it still feels very old school. It's not filled with people texting and emailing. It almost feels removed from time. And it's filled with stories about so many classic, timeless tropes. A couple of hapless kids go fishing and end up being caught themselves, a woman falls asleep on her dead husband's grave and he comes back to pay her a visit. This is classic horror stuff.
     
    ConstantineConstantine No. 3
     
    John Constantine, now officially a DC Comics character, is hot on the trail of the third piece of a mythic artifact that can detect where all Earth's magical hot springs hide. This trek brings him to London, the city that's actively trying to kill him. A curse placed on John years ago now keeps him running. Car accidents, electrical fires, the flu… London pulls out all the stops to put an end to Constantine's life. Will he be able to find what he's looking for before he croaks?
     
    Bag it or board it up? I like this comic; it's weird, fairly gory, and has a nice pace. I think Constantine's new send-up is good-but-strange. They really emphasize his accent, which is hard to do in comic book form. So he says a lot of sentences that end with "yeah?" It's a little bit off putting, but again, this is a fun enough comic. And better than you'd expect for this switch in focus for the character.
     
    TWDThe Walking Dead No. 110
     
    Rick's gearing up for a war against Negan. Negan, the psychopathic antagonist of this arc, is the bastard who's been brutalizing Rick and his crew for a while now. Rick attempts to join up with The Kingdom, a group ruled by an enigmatic man who calls himself King Ezekial and has a pet tiger. Things are brewing, a storm is coming, who will survive what will definitely be a serious bloodbath in the upcoming issues?
     
    Bag it or board it up? The zombie comic that's not at all about zombies continues on with its 110th issue. This is crazy. I still remember reading the first volume of comics, wincing every time a zombie stumbled into view. How things have changed! Not a single zombie in issue 110! Now the focus is on group dynamics, survival, new-world politics… the scope has truly evolved over the years.

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  • 05/10/13--17:00: Gift Guide: Edgar Allan Poet
  • edgar allan poet"Once upon a tell-tale storm" isn't quite as catchy as "Once upon a midnight dreary," but with this set of Edgar Allan Poe magnetic poetry, you decide what ominous verses you want to create. With over 200 themed magnetic pieces, with words such as "lonely," "forebode," "shiver," "evil," "truth," and of course, "raven," all you need is an alcohol problem and you too can become a writer ignored in your own time.

    $14.95 at Amazon


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    CP_promo
    “Give a man a mask and he will tell you the truth,” said legendary wit Oscar Wilde, and electro-rock unit Cyberpunkers have adopted that quote as their own unofficial motto. Formed in 2006 by a pair of Italian DJs whose identities remain concealed, Cyberpunkers draw heavily from sci-fi/horror themes and imagery, and have staged epic performances at some of Europe's biggest electronic music festivals. They've distinguished themselves worldwide through a series of high-profile remixes, including a cover of Bauhaus's “Bela Lugosi's Dead” by Alex D'elia & The Deafness, and the 2009 single “Change” by Coolio, featuring iconic composer Ennio Morricone (The Thing), but they've also turned out a fair amount of original material, including the horror-themed EP Old Skulls. 
     
    While the band is touting their new EP Whatta Mask as the birth of a new image, accompanied by more sinister masks, the duo never really opted for a shock-rock approach; instead, their robotic anonymity plays more into their admitted obsession with cyberpunk culture, symbolizing their oneness with the unpredictable musical machines they harness onstage – which range from dueling DJ consoles to assorted synths and guitars. All of those facets come into play on this EP, with the band calling on the combined forces of electro-house, heavy bass, glitch, electro-industrial and cyber-metal to summon an enraged dance-floor demon.
     
    CP_Mask
     
    The title track is definitely the standout cut, with the grittiest and most aggressive synth pattern, punchiest rhythms; the violent electro-snare shots will stab your ears, and the bass is chunky as hell. The rest of the EP is on the lighter side – a lilting Daft Punk-style synth sequence with some smooth, soaring chord progressions slinks through “Mad Armada,” before breaking into a fairly easygoing dub section with an intergalactic vibe; while it sticks to a similar pattern, there's a bit more mischief to “Ogre's Ballad,” which opens in a spooky mood with minimalist organ stabs and ominous choral samples, but breaks at the midpoint into massive, rubbery bass drops. It's not quite as heavy as I expected, given the scary presentation, but there's enough urgency and morphing song dynamics to keep the dance drama high.
     
    Want to find out for yourself? You can preview all three tracks right here:
     
     
    If you dig what you just heard, pick up Whatta Mask from iTunes (Germany) or Beatport. But we're not done yet... the band just launched a video for the title track today. Watch it below!
     

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    System Shock 2, the progenitor to Bioshock created by Irrational Games, has finally been pulled out of the mothballs for digital distribution via Steam.

    While it hasn’t aged very well graphically (very few early 2000’s titles have), it’s still got the same sense of scrotum-shriveling dread as you deal with not one but two self-aware rogue AIs, as well as the parasitic hive-mind called The Many.  Fans of Bioshock have no reason not to play this, as the two titles share a decent amount of DNA, even further than the “shock” in the title.  The game is 30% off until May 17th, so there’s literally no reason not to give it a try if you haven’t.


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    Jason_1989
     
    To Friday the 13th fans eagerly anticipating Jason Voorhees' first appearance in pixel form, the official F13 video game released for the Nintendo 8-bit NES console in 1989 was a little... well, “baffling” would be a good word for it. But despite the game's major cheese factor, many horror and retro-gaming fans still have a warm spot in their hearts for this one, and NECA has a new item with you folks in mind, coming to this year's Comic-Con.
     
    First revealed by Figures.com, this blue-masked, purple-bodied 7” Jason figure is a direct homage to the game. It glows in the dark in two different colors (the mask, hands and boots glow blue; the machete glows white), and its window-box presentation is another nod to the vintage game packaging.
     
    Jason_game
     
    The figure will only be available for sale during San Diego Comic-Con, July 17-21 at NECA's booth (#3145), and carries a price tag of $25.
     
    Here's a little flashback to Jason's appearance in the game:
     

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    Gremlins
     
    This just in from our friends at Bloody Disgusting: Warner Bros. has apparently abandoned a much-hyped plan to produce a new Gremlins sequel (23 years after Gremlins 2: The New Batch left theaters) in favor of a straight-up remake of the original Steven Spielberg/Joe Dante classic. Yes, you read that right; not even the adorable Gizmo and his demonic spawn are safe from the mighty studio remake machine.
     
    According to Warner, Seth Grahame-Smith, best known as the author of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and screenwriter on Tim Burton's Dark Shadows (he's also working on the script for a pending Beetlejuice sequel), is lined up to co-produce the remake with David Katzenberg, but it's yet to be confirmed whether he will be writing the script.
     
    We're not sure where this might be going, but rest assured there's more news to come, so get ready...

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    VHS collectors seem to be coming out of the woodwork lately. What many thought was a dead format seems to be making a major resurgence, similar to the way vinyl did. We wouldn’t dream of telling you that the quality of a VHS cassette provides superior picture, sound, or anything. But it is certainly a lot of nostalgic fun to revisit some of the more obscure titles by way of your VCR. 
     
    Be Kind, Rewind is your one stop destination for all the information you could ever want about horror films exclusively available on VHS. We will give you the low-down on the title we are re-visiting, including where to find it, the going rate, a review of the film, and we will even provide an expert recommendation as to whether the title is worth the money. If this segment is successful, we will be examining more titles in the upcoming weeks, so tell your friends and fellow lovers of antiquated technology. 
     
    Open_House
     
    Title:
    Open House
     
    Year of Release:
    1987
     
    Distributor:
    Prism Entertainment (I suspect that Prism thought they were extremely high-tech in 1987. The presentation at the beginning of the videotape has the Prism logo displayed with ‘ultra fancy’ laser beams shooting off it. We are talking cutting edge stuff, here). 
     
    The Talent:
    Adrienne Barbeau(The Fog)
    Joseph Bottoms(The Black Hole)
    Rudy Ramos(Helter Skelter)
    Mary Stavin(House, 1986)
     
    Synopsis:
    Adrienne Barbeau stars as real estate agent Lisa Grant. Her boyfriend, a well-known radio psychologist begins receiving calls from a killer intent upon bringing the lives of pretty young real estate agents to an untimely and grisly end… Oh, no. Can Lisa and her advice-dispensing beau stop the crazed killer, or will Lisa’s next listing be her last? 
     
    Review:
     
    Open House is not a classic, but it’s not quite awful, either. It lives somewhere below the realm of mediocrity. The film’s pacing is not awful. It follows the formula of a kill every 15 minutes pretty well. On most levels, that manages to keep the audience from getting too bored. 
     
    I have never seen Adrienne Barbeau in a film where I didn’t like her character, and this is no exception. But, save for Barbeau’s character, all of the others are, at best, a little drab.
     
    For me, there are a couple of saving graces, including: the bitchin’ wardrobe choices, the '80s dialogue, the sometimes radical soundtrack, and the big '80s hair. However, while the aforementioned attributes make the film more fun to watch – in a nostalgic sense - please do not interpret that to mean that Open House is a good movie. I still maintain my previous assessment that it is below mediocre. But the over-the-top '80s shenanigans provide an element of nostalgia that makes the film a little more enjoyable.
     
    Open House racks up a respectable body count, punching in at 9 total. Given that the film is a little-known, low-budget '80s slasher film, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the deaths are not as tame as I was expecting. Some of the murder weapons are somewhat inventive, and there is a generous amount of stage blood used for some of the deaths. Though, we don’t see every murder play out on camera, we typically get a pretty brutal picture of the aftermath:
     
     
    I don’t feel that I am owed a great deal of backstory or motive as it pertains to the killer. However, I do require something with some level of plausibility. In Open House, there is a lengthy explanation as to why the killer does what he does, but thanks to the killer’s delivery of the poorly written dialogue, there is almost no chance any viewer is going to buy in to anything about the killer’s agenda. At all. Period. 
     
    Also working against Open House is an at times chauvinistic vibe. Though, the chauvinism did play in to a subplot, I felt that the subplot could have played out in a multitude of different ways that did not pay disrespect to or objectify women.
     
    Ultimately, what the film has working in its favor is a reasonable performance from Adrienne Barbeau, a respectable body count, decent effects, the nostalgia factor... and that’s about it. 
     
    Transfer Quality:
    In terms of the quality of the tape, I am happy to say that the picture is a lot brighter and a lot crisper than some of the other low budget releases of this era. The tape that I received played back quite well and did not cause me any unforeseen ballyhoo. 
     
    Going Rate:
    $147(New)
    $16(Used Very Good with Original Box) 
    $9(Used Good with Original Box)
     
    Where to Get It:
    As of this writing, EBay and Amazon both have copies available. The prices listed are for Amazon, as they currently have the best rates on this title. Open House is out of stock on Half.com, but a used copy can potentially be had for as low as $4.99 when a copy goes up for sale there. 
     
    Is It Worth the Price?
    Though Open House is fairly formulaic, doesn’t really bring anything new to the game, and is a touch silly, it isn’t so bad that it can’t be watched strictly for mindless entertainment and a nostalgic walk down memory lane. By my assessment, that makes it worth your $9-$16 to pick up a used copy. The film will likely increase in price over time and there is no indication that Open House will ever receive a DVD or Blu-ray release. So, I suggest picking up a copy while it can still be had for a very reasonable amount. 
     
    Tip(s) for VHS Enthusiasts:
    If you hook your VCR up through a component cable, rather than by way of a coaxial cable, you will eliminate about 90% of your tracking problems and get a much crisper picture from all of your tapes. 

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    Netherrealm Studios head Ed Boon, the maniac behind Mortal Kombat and Injustice: Gods Among Us, tweeted a survey on his official Twitter asking fans what DC characters they would want to be added as DLC to the four-color fighting game. 

    While unofficial (Ed’s own heartbreaking words, not mine), there are some interesting choices to cast your vote on.  Obvious choices like Doctor Fate and Powergirl are joined by Zatanna and…Swamp Thing???

    While this may be unofficial, you can feel free to take the survey and cast your vote.  However, if you vote for anyone besides Swamp Thing, you’re all dead to me.


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    At today's upfronts, Fox released the trailer for their upcoming supernatural procedural Sleepy Hollow. The show takes the legend of Sleepy Hollow, and blends it with Grimm and National Treasure for an... interesting show. It looks better than the description sounds, but I am going to have to see a few episodes before I am sold. Sleepy Hollow will air Mondays at 9pm this fall on Fox (The Following will take the time slot over when it comes in mid-season). Check out the trailer and official synopsis below.

    sleepy hollow

    From co-creators/executive producers Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci (the “Star Trek” and “Transformers” franchises, “Fringe”) comes the adventure thriller SLEEPY HOLLOW. In this modern-day retelling of Washington Irving’s classic, ICHABOD CRANE (Tom Mison, “Salmon Fishing in the Yemen”) is resurrected and pulled two and a half centuries through time to find that the world is on the brink of destruction and that he is humanity’s last hope, forcing him to team up with a contemporary police officer (Nicole Beharie, “Shame,” “American Violet”) to unravel a mystery that dates back to the founding fathers.


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    The networks are revealing their upcoming schedules this week and with it comes first looks at their new shows. One of the shows I am most looking forward to this fall is NBC's telling of Dracula. Starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers as the titular vampire, NBC's version looks opulent and cinematic, the kind of show that would be more at home on HBO than a broadcast network. That could be because the head of NBC, Bob Greenblatt - who ordered Dracula straight to series without the traditional "let's start with a pilot" step - came from Showtime. With Dracula and Hannibal and midseason's pirate show Crossbones, maybe he is trying to bring a pay-cable aesthetic to a broadcast network.

    Anyway, check out the official trailer and synopsis below. Dracula premieres this fall on Fridays at 10pm, following Grimm (which returns to its original 9pm slot).

    dracula

    Golden Globe winner Jonathan Rhys Meyers (“The Tudors”) stars in this provocative new drama as one of the world’s most iconic characters. It’s the late 19th century and the mysterious Dracula (Rhys Meyers) has arrived in London, posing as an American entrepreneur who wants to bring modern science to Victorian society. He’s especially interested in the new technology of electricity, which promises to brighten the night — useful for someone who avoids the sun. But he has another reason for his travels: He hopes to take revenge on those who cursed him with immortality centuries earlier. Everything seems to be going according to plan… until he becomes infatuated with a woman who appears to be a reincarnation of his dead wife. Victoria Smurfit (“About a Boy”), Thomas Kretschmann (“King Kong”), Jessica De Gouw (“Arrow”), Oliver Jackson-Cohen (“Mr. Selfridge”), Nonso Anozie (“Game of Thrones”) and Katie McGrath (“Merlin”) also star.


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    Founded 17 years ago by Sage Stallone and Bob Murawski, Grindhouse Releasing is a beloved institution among horror and exploitation film fans, thanks to their lovingly restored releases of cult classics like Cannibal Holocaust, The Beyond, I Drink Your Blood, Pieces and many more. Grindhouse went on hiatus for a while, partially due to Stallone's death last year and Murawski's commitment to editing Oz the Great and Powerful for Sam Raimi. But the studio has finally resurfaced to announce a massive new slate of movie titles.
     
    HippieCorruption
     
    "After two years in the yellow brick prison of Oz, I am back full-time at Grindhouse Releasing, proudly continuing the important work that Sage and I began back in 1996," Murawski said in the announcement, in which he revealed a list of titles awaiting DVD, Blu-ray and theatrical releases – beginning with the psychedelic obscurity An American Hippie in Israel, which has gained Rocky Horror-like status in Tel Aviv and will see a new theatrical run in the US. Also, the twisted 1968 UK thriller Corruption, starring horror icon Peter Cushing, will premiere on DVD and Blu-ray September 10th (Cushing's 100th birthday), with theatrical screenings lined up in advance of that release as well. Here's the groovy trailer for that one:
     
     
    To follow, Grindhouse also plans to release the following: Sergio Sollima's The Big Gundown; The Swimmer starring Burt Lancaster; Duke Mitchell's Gone with the Pope (a big hit at theatrical screenings in 2010) and S.F. Brownrigg's Scum of the Earth (a.k.a. Poor White Trash 2). Murawski also revealed that the entire catalog of Grindhouse titles will get the Blu-ray treatment over the next year.
     
    Check out their official Facebook page for more info!

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    toxic avengerVariety is reporting that Arnold Schwarzenegger is in talks to star in the remake of The Toxic Avenger. Take that in for a second.

    The Toxic Avenger is an 80s crapfest (meant in the kindest way possible) about a janitor who becomes a superhero after falling into a vat of toxic waste. Released in 1984 from Z-movie powerhouse Troma Entertainment, The Toxic Avenger was a theatrical bomb but a VHS cult phenomenon. Toxie soon became Troma's mascot, and eventually spawned several sequels, a musical, a cartoon, and lots of merch.

    It is weird enough that they are remaking The Toxic Avenger - that would be like remaking (Plan 9 From Outer Space). But apparently Arnold Schwarzenegger is in talks to star. Weirder still... he won't be Toxie. According to Variety, "he’s in negotiations for another lead role in the reimagining of the 1980s cult pic."

    So Schwarzenegger has gone from being a horrible politician (governor of California) to a horrible box-office draw (The Last Stand flopped at the box office) to a remake of a horrible (but awesome) movie. I'm not sure which way his career is going at this point.


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    AOTU_Promo
     
    Earlier this year, we got a haunting preview of the latest album by Italian electro-rock unit Army of the Universe, in the form of the EP Until the End– featuring a guest vocal by Chibi of The Birthday Massacre and a chillingly sensual music video. The band has finally delivered the goods promised in that enticing peek, as The Hipster Sacrifice hits the streets today. Since their scary good 2011 debut Mother Ignorance, the lineup that began with internationally-acclaimed electronic music producer Albert “Trebla” Vorne, vocalist Lord Kalidon (Kult of the Skull God) and guitarist Dave Tavecchia has since added the legendary Chris Vrenna (Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson, Tweaker) to their ranks as drummer. The result is a bigger, more dangerous sound built on the same tight and simple framework of old-school synths, heavy beats and knife-edged guitars, which leaves plenty of room for sonic experimentation – something they indulge frequently on this record.
     
    AOTU_Hipsterr
     
    The tracks "Until the End," "Break the Walls" and "The Weight of the World" return here unchanged from the EP versions, which we covered previously in that review. The seven new cuts here are equally powerful, though not all as directly club-oriented, and most with a harsher, more industrial edge. The title track (which opens the album) is especially brutal, and does exactly what it says on the label – tearing mercilessly into hipster culture's “special editions and broken dreams.” Vrenna's crushing beats and Tavecchia's icy industrial riffs drive the message home, delivered in Lord K's semi-hushed salacious tones, while Trebla twists lo-fi analog synth patterns into nightmarish shapes. More old-school analog beats are paired with overdriven guitars, pushed harder and rougher to give "Pretty Unconsciousness" a dark, unnatural urgency, especially in the noise-infused chorus.
     
    On the flipside of these more aggressive cuts, the band is equally skilled in summoning an '80s synth-pop groove, as demonstrated in "A Visionary Story," complimented by smooth vocal harmonies that feel summoned from that same decade. A similar mood comes through "In Another Place," a mellow and romantic synthesis of danceable '80s pop and dance-floor darkwave. They mix and match those lighter grooves with harder beats for the throbbing mechanical orgy of "Chillin'," where a spooky synth line lends a gothic touch before they blow the roof off in an industrial-metal breakdown. While I half expected "Coin Operated Girl" to be a cyber-spin on the Dresden Dolls hit "Coin Operated Boy" – it isn't, unless maybe by accident – I was surprised to find instead a stylistic callback to “Lovedead,” complete with the bump-and-grind beats and bit-crushing effects. The album closes with the marching robot beat of "Mine," which starts simple, with a buzzing synth sequence beneath dual-octave vocals, but evolves as it builds intricate puzzle patterns, including piano and light, spacey arpeggios, to an offbeat and breathtaking finale.
     
    It's refreshing to hear the band stretch creatively with this record, pushing at the borders of their already solid formula in some pretty daring ways, drilling a bit deeper into Trebla's '80s influences while remaining true to their hypnotic, pulsing rhythms, which seem to be getting heavier and sexier with each release. If you dug Mother Ignorance, this one definitely goes a notch higher... and if you're new to this band, get in here now. The Hipster Sacrifice is available now via Metropolis Records (CD or download) as well as iTunes, Amazon and the usual digital vendors. In case you missed it before, here's the surreal and sensual video for “Until the End”...
     

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    As you may have figured out by now, I am obsessed with television. I am also a night owl (“Sleep is for pussies”), so I tend to watch a lot of Adult Swim on Cartoon Network. For those who go to bed at a sensible hour, Adult Swim is the block of animation (generally running from 10pm to 5am) that is decidedly not for children. It is stuff like Family Guy, Robot Chicken, and Metalocalypse, plus anime on the weekends. The animation that airs during this time is often subversive (or at the very least, crass) but more fascinating than the programming are the bumpers. Bumpers are the station ID clips that roll between shows, often just 15 seconds or so. I have to say, most of these bumpers scare the hell out of me. With some, obvious motifs are clearly meant to scare (i.e. clowns and hands reaching from computer screens). But with others, it is the sheer bizarreness that chills me. Below, I have highlighted some of my “favorites.”

    Clown Kids

    Clowns. Kids. Bizarrely misshapen puppets of popular Adult Swim cartoons. Eerie chime music. These always give me the chills.

    Grandma and the Computer

    A hand coming out from a computer is scary enough; a Blue Screen of Death is even worse. But the Blue Hand of Computer Death dating grandma? What the hell is wrong with people? This is a compilation of granny bumps. Check out the one around the 50 second mark - that one terrifies me.

    Meow Meow: Dancing with Mask

    This is how snuff films start out.

    Corporate Kitty

    Animals in human clothes always make me feel weird, but what is even scarier about this bump is creepy, fake, plastic smiles on all those people standing with that smug cat. I think the cat is their evil overlord, who tries to “look cool” but once the cameras are off, he will beat that cult of humans with a sack of oranges.

    Haiku Man

    There is so much going on here: a funeral dirge. Makeup that looks like a clown painted up Boy George. Weird, warping camera effects. And the dude eating a paintbrush. I think that is the part that upsets me the most.


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    Zombie Squash represents the sort of simple perfection that marks a damn fine portable game: an easy-to-digest concept, accessible controls, and bite-sized levels that are perfect for anything from a bus ride to a bowel movement.  Players are cast as Peter Stompingtail, a lethal lepus who must defend his garden from the titular zombie squash with his own violent vegetables, an arsenal ranging from carrots to zucchini launched from a crossbow and replenished by his bunny brethren.

    While at initial glance Zombie Squash may seem like a lot of other titles on the App Store, even bearing more than a passing resemblance to PopCap’s Plants vs. Zombies, it has a few interesting wrinkles to separate it from the crowd.  The soundtrack, composed by Roy Z, is some properly headbanging metal that definitely adds a pretty substantial level of auditory mayhem to the proceedings, and even the theme song is both goofy and oh-so-catchy.  Second, creator Attila Juhasz had the stones to approach Living Dead daddy George A. Romero to lend his voice and likeness to the game’s villain, Dr. B. E. Vil.

    When you first start the game, you can’t help but smile at the uncanny caricature of Romero, sporting a pair of elfin ears and vampiric fangs, as he announces his plans for world domination with his army of zombie squash.  The accent that Romero inflects is the sort of Eastern European hamminess that you would find in a high school production of Dracula, but it’s incredibly endearing, and the over-the-top goofiness of it is a perfect fit for a game called Zombie Squash.

    Thankfully, the game itself holds its own even without the Romero appearance, with levels increasing the ranks of squash that charge towards your end of the garden while offering more destructive ammo to dispatch them.  The later stages become positively frantic, but the dead-simple controls keep it manageable, alternating between launching farmer’s-market firepower and harvesting ammo with nothing more than a quick tap.  It’s challenging, but never in that “it’s the controls’ fault” sort of way.  You have no one to blame for failure but yourself, which is the earmark of a well-designed game.

    Zombie Squash is available now for iPhone, iPad, and Android devices.  You can find more info and download links at http://www.zombiesquash.com.


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    Bousman
     
    Red Sea Media announced two interesting new horror titles for their slate: the sales agent has picked up the worldwide rights (outside North America) for Sacrilege, the latest genre project by Saw series veteran Darren Lynn Bousman (pictured above on the set of Saw II), and Hell Baby, a satirical spin on the exorcism subgenre.
     
    Sacrilege, which is still in early preproduction (no casting announcements yet), centers on a family who rescue their young son from a satanic cult, and must not only protect themselves from the vengeful cult members, but from the killer kid himself. "Sacrilege is one of the most intense and macabre scripts I have ever had the pleasure of reading,” Bousman said. “I am through the roof to finally be making it and having Red Sea in my corner selling it."
     
    Hell_Baby
     
    Hell Baby, written and directed by Robert Ben Garant & Thomas Lennon (the creators of Reno 911!), stars Rob Corddry and Leslie Bibb as an expectant couple who must hire a team of elite Vatican exorcists after discovering a demonic presence in their New Orleans home.
     
    Red Sea will introduce the projects at the upcoming Marché du Film. More details to come!

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    Douglas Warrick has heard all of your scary stories. He’s heard stories about demons, and creepy, sentient dolls, and urban legends, and the ravages of age and disease. He’s heard them all, but he’s got a few stories of his own he’d like to share. They’ll sound somewhat familiar, perhaps, but in truth they’re like nothing you’ve ever heard before.
     
    Plow_BonesApex Publications Publisher/Editor-in-Chief Jason Sizemore has wisely pulled these stories together in Plow the Bones, the first in a series called “Apex Voices,” his company’s new line dedicated to introducing readers to writers with unique new voices. I’d say this first selection is as clear a mission statement as Sizemore could hope to make for this new line, and it has set the bar pretty high for whoever is lined up as “Apex Voices #2.”
     
    I could write paragraphs, whole pages even, on each and every story here, and fail to feel that I’ve adequately explained what I enjoyed about this book. Chalk it up to the pure joy of discovery; prior to cracking open Plow the Bones, Warrick was an unknown quantity to me. I think that’s part of what made it such a fun read – the idea that grew with each page I turned, that here was a new writer showing me new things; a new writer with an entire career ahead of him, and I’m getting in on the ground floor instead of playing catch-up.
     
    Join me, won’t you? Let’s all get together on this so that, years from now, we can sit back with our arms folded smugly and say, “Douglas Warrick? Yeah, I’ve been reading him for a while now.”
     
    Because I feel like I need to get a little more specific, I’ll look at two stories (one of which you can read online, in its entirety, via a link at the end of this review) that really jumped out at me:
     
    “Zen and the Art of Gordon Dratch’s Damnation”: How many stories have you read over the years that attempted to describe Hell and damnation? Now, how many of them actually made you think, “Whoa, if it’s anything like this, I need to get my soul right…”? This chilling story examines the experiences of Gordon Dratch in Hell, watching closely as its denizens peel him back, first physically and then emotionally, layer by layer, studying his suffering at a microscopic level. They have nothing but time and imagination on their hands, and when they’ve peeled him down to his essence they merely stitch him back together and start all over again. Dratch, an atheist who practiced a home brew of Zen and meditation before he died, eventually finds a little something in his version of faith to see him through, but not before a bout of suffering that’s one for the ages.
     
    “Come to My Arms, My Beamish Boy”: We meet a man on the edge of slipping away entirely, a man whose mind is slowly being nibbled away, one memory at a time. It’s Alzheimer’s, of course…or is it parasites from another dimension? The cause, in the end, doesn’t matter. What matters is the quietly brutal way in which Warrick describes the loss of this man’s memories, forcing us to stand by helplessly as he watches them blow away like ash in the wind.
     
    There’s an uncompromising vision at work here, one that encompasses the surreal, the silly and the sadistic with equal skill and ease. Reading this reminded me of when I read Clive Barker’s short stories for the first time – here is someone with a fresh new take on the horror genre and with incredible writing chops to boot. 
     
    Plow the Bones is a great start to the “Apex Voices” line, and should be a powerful boost to Douglas Warrick’s career. I can’t wait to see what both Apex and Warrick have planned next.
     
     
    Hear Warrick read an excerpt from the book below:
     
     
    Blu Gilliand is a freelance writer of fiction and nonfiction. He covers horror fiction at his blog, October Country, and contributes interviews to the Horror World website. Follow him on Twitter at @BluGilliand. 

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    Hobs1
     
    UK theme park Pleasurewood Hills has announced next month's launch of their new horror attraction, “Hobs Pit.” The dark ride was developed in partnership with  special effects expert Rob Ostir and voice actor Corey Burton as one of several new rides commemorating the park's 30th anniversary.
     
    Parks and Burton have worked previously on US-based theme parks, including Disney World and Universal Studios, and have been involved with numerous Disney features, as well as the films 2012, Mars Attacks! and The Chronicles of Narnia. Burton's long history of voice acting roles includes  Disney's Aladdin, TV series Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and video games like Batman: Arkham City and God of War: Ascension. 
     
    Hobs2
     
    While park management are keeping a tight lid on the ride details, they revealed that Hobs Pit is based on an old abandoned mine shaft and “unexplained phenomena” discovered during excavations at the park. Pleasurewood Hills General Manager Alexis Camelin says it's the first dark ride to combine a walk-through and seated experience, and the company states that “this is not a ride for the faint hearted.” 
     
    The grand opening of Hobs Pit will take place on June 2nd, and thousands have already signed up to the mailing list at their official site. The teaser below doesn't really reveal anything, but does play up the element of claustrophobia...
     

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    Dead2
     
    Filmmaking brothers Howard J. Ford and Jonathan Ford have posted a new trailer for The Dead II: India, the sequel to their acclaimed 2010 zombie epic. Filmed on location, this film tells the story of an American engineer who races across the desert to rescue his pregnant wife in the midst of a sudden massive zombie outbreak in India.
     
    Judging by the trailer, which recently premiered at the official site of UK's Film4 Frightfest, it looks like the sequel is continuing the heavy emphasis on barren, sweltering locations (the original was set in Africa) and gritty action – including what looks like an insane para-sail escape – and plenty of claustrophobic and grisly zombie siege scenes.
     
     
    As of this writing, no release date for The Dead II has been set, but there's an official Facebook page up now, so keep watch...

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    FDTD
     
    This just in from Deadline.com: during a preview of their upcoming program slate, Spanish-language network Univision announced a partnership with El Rey Network, a new English-language cable channel co-founded by Robert Rodriguez (Planet Terror) which will focus on action-oriented programming. One of the original shows in line for the network's premiere is a series adaptation of From Dusk Till Dawn, the 1996 vampire/crime/action mashup from Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino.
     
    “The El Rey Network is going to be the home of kick-ass entertainment,” Rodriguez declared. 
     
    In addition to From Dusk Till Dawn, the channel will also air a yet-unnamed action series developed by producers Alex Kurtzman and Robert Orci (Fringe, Star Trek Into Darkness). El Rey is slated to launch late this year... more details coming soon!

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