Archive for June, 2011
In another quick note to round out June, yesterday brought long awaited proof sheets for my upcoming book of vampiric poetry, VAMPS (A RETROSPECTIVE). According to Sam’s Dot Publishing’s Tyree Campbell, the book will be listed for July although actual physical publication will probably be toward the end of the month.
For more information about VAMPS (A RETROSPECTIVE) cf., below, Feb. 28 and 11.
The CHIAROSCURO (a.k.a. CHIZINE) fundraising mega-issue with weekly installments beginning last March and continuing through June entered its 13th and final week Monday. This is the special “alumni” showcase featuring new work from multitudes of former contributors (my own entry, “If Only People Weren’t Made Out of Meat,” is in the poetry section in week 3), with previous segments as well as the current one still available through June 30. For more information cf. Apr. 19 and 14 below, or go to the horse’s mouth — and while you’re there perhaps consider a donation too — by pressing here.
Then afterward, in July, check back again for this professional ezine’s regular quarterly summer issue.
A quick note, but longer than its subject. Sunday brought another sale, even if a “small” one, this one for a haiku “New Growth” to appear in the May 2012 print edition of SCIFAIKUEST. For a hint of what it’s about, to quote editor Teri Santitoro “it will go GREAT with our ‘spring’ theme!”
(Sometimes you have to be very, very old to get all the references. . . .)
So COLIN, who we recently met, is now on the shelf between YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN and FIDO, the latter of which I finally watched Saturday. Very funny — think “WARD AND JUNE CLEAVER AND ZOMBIES” with the Beav’s part taken by 9 year old Timmy. No older brother Wally as such, but there is a new girl in the neighborhood who Timmy makes friends with who’s more sophisticated about things zombie and helps when it’s needed. (Well, there’s also the neighborhood letch who keeps a zombie “girlfriend” named Tammy.)
This is the idealized 1950s, but one in which the events of the original NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD might have happened 20 years earlier, say around 1948. Following the “Zombie Wars,” civilized areas have been fenced in while the wild lands are left for zombie survivors — as well as, since traces of the radiation that started it all are still in the air, human dead whose families can’t afford special decapitation/separate burial of their heads and bodies funeral services to prevent them from “turning.” Zombie bites still work as well, of course, but American commercial ingenuity has come up with special electronic collars for zombies that suppress their desire to eat human flesh (though it’s not clear what they eat instead — perhaps that’s a plot hole, but such is the nature of this movie that who cares?), making them suitable for menial work, including domestic service. Well, a bit clumsy maybe, and sort of stupid, but still. . . .
So Mom, over Dad’s protests, gets a zombie butler — because everyone else in the neighborhood has at least one — and Beaver, er, Timmy, christens him Fido and treats him as a cross between a playmate and a pet. And yes, for those old enough to remember the movie collie dog “Lassie” (“Lassie, get help — Timmy’s fallen into the well!”) there’s a reason our Timmy’s named Timmy too.
It’s a fun movie!
Of memorable (or at least remarkable) movies this week, two nights ago I watched the DVD of COLIN, a zombie movie with a “difference.” Well, one difference, and what gives it a sort of cult status, is that it was purportedly shot for about $75 on an old camcorder, using Facebook to round up people for the zombie scenes (the major expense was allegedly tea and cookies for snacks — yeah, it’s an English film, filmed in suburban London), borrowing stuff from his friends, and taking about 18 months to film since director/producer Marc Price had to learn how to do most of the technical stuff himself. A recipe for disaster, right? But surprisingly COLIN stands up well, with filming, lighting, etc. actually better than a lot of indy movies (Price does have sense enough that a majority of scenes are outdoors and most of it is shot during the daylight), the roles for the most part are fairly simple and well enough acted and, even if using friends as cast, the ones that require more complex acting are still (mostly) done well.
The major difference though is that COLIN is told from the zombie’s point of view. Twenty-something Colin comes home having been bitten, gets into a fight with and subdues the biter who’s presumably followed him home, becomes a zombie himself (most of the makeup effects confine themselves to the wounds that “turned” the various zombies), then wanders out confused, trying to figure out who he is and what’s happening to him and what he should do, in the midst of the greater London area Zombie Apocalypse (one nice touch, in a tip of the hat to NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, a TV news show mentions toward the end a possibly extreme reaction to the US outbreak in Pennsylvania — could this be the one that started it all?). Gangs of humans are attacking zombies, a gang of zombies raids a human safe house, various humans have their own reactions including Colin’s sister who believes just reconnecting to old memories — family and “Mum” — can bring Colin back.
It’s an “arty” film in its overall look, which adds extra strength in that the hand held camera work doesn’t seem out of place. On the downside, in part too because of the limited point of view, a lot of what’s happening may not be all that clear (often the danger in art films in general) — one only sees snips of the “big picture” — which leads to a lot of “WTF’s going on now?” moments. And yet at the same time it somehow packs (albeit to some extent in retrospect) an emotional punch. It’s a neat curiosity, not all that gory (no matter what some of the reviews might say), quiet, sedate, and — the arty bit again — not exactly ending with a bang. It’s not for everyone, even assuming that any zombie film could in principle be for everyone, but if it should come along on TV, or you just like zombies, especially if they’re out of the mainstream, COLIN is worth a careful look.
One of resident cave cat Wednesday’s favorite pastimes is lounging on top of a two-foot eight-inch high box she considers her High Throne, originally a shipping carton for a replacement refrigerator door gasket but, for nearly the past year, a more or less permanent piece of living room furniture. Cats, however, dote on novelty and when earlier this week some computer equipment arrived in its own box (placed temporarily in front of the TV nearer the front door) Wednesday laid claim.
The question then was, is it safe finally to throw away her High Throne? No, she still uses that at night as a favorite early sleeping-off-supper location (as opposed to her favorite later sleeping-off-supper location, the bed). But when I would come home the last couple of days, she was always on the newer, if lower box. But then yesterday after I’d petted her hello and gone to the kitchen to do some work there, I noticed she moved immediately to her High Throne, so I’ve now concluded (however self-flatteringly) that she really still prefers it, but when she hears me on the front porch she moves to the other one nearer the door to greet me when I come in and/or get petted quicker.
A True Story: Many years ago the cat of the time, Vanessa, was always sitting on the floor just inside the door to meet me when I got home from work. Granted that meant her supper would be served soon, but I wondered at times if she really waited there all afternoon, or knew how to tell time, or what, until one day when for some reason I’d tiptoed onto the porch or otherwise made less noise coming home than usual. When I then made the noise of putting my key in the lock, and doing so could see through the window in the upper part of the door, I saw her streaking out of the hall into the living room so, when I opened the door . . . there she was, sitting on the floor just inside the door as if she had been there all afternoon.
The moral, one must observe one’s cat closely.
(And then, today, a new replacement printer arrived. With a choice of two new boxes now temporarily on the floor, Wednesday is enjoying her early sleeping-off-supper nap on . . . her High Throne!)
Just a quick note. For various reasons AMATERASU: AN ANTHOLOGY OF FANTASTIC STORIES dedicated “to the people of Japan and their nation’s recovery after the destructive tsunami and earthquakes in early 2011” had been temporarily unavailable. However, it’s back! The link for ordering on June 2nd’s post should be working again, or give a click to the title above.
Also AMATERASU may become available through Amazon in the next six to eight weeks, so check back here for the latest updates.
Last night their were no storms, but a little before 11 p.m. (I’m sort of guessing having not been paying much attention — in fact, I was in the middle of emailing something when it happened) the power went out anyway. Total dark! (It’s amazing how much light comes in through the windows from streetlights, neighbors’ houses, etc.) There not being much else to do at that point, the electric lantern having been found and lit, the cave cat petted, I got a flashlight, put on my shoes, and went for a walk.
Traffic on the main road gave some light, though the traffic signal was out at the corner. Moving away from that “civilization” I climbed a hill and, off to the side of a darkened house, gazed at a just-beginning-to-wane moon illuminating the sky’s few sparse clouds. Werewolves, no doubt, were just starting to change back (a check of the calendar today confirms that, indeed, the night before that had been the full moon). Other than this the twinkling of fireflies was all to be seen.
Calmness and beauty and almost complete dark — a good night for vampires!
Back home, I went to bed. What else to do? Though I knew from the subject line of an unopened email that something good would await in the morning — and that, too, with vampires.
So at 5 a.m. or so power came back on — I got up and turned off things I hadn’t been able to the night before, then went back to sleep. Then later this morning amidst other duties I got to the email. Another story, “A Cup Full of Tears,” has been accepted by Post Mortem Press for their upcoming book, MON COEUR MORT. The guidelines for this were for “paranormal romance and/or horror fiction associated with a broken heart.” The description continues, “[I]t is our goal to break free of the current trend in paranormal romance by remembering that genre fiction is lurid and disturbing at its core.” And if that weren’t enough, how could my inner Gomez Addams have resisted submitting to a book with its title in French!
“A Cup Full of Tears” is a very short tale about a vampire who preys not just for blood, but to gain a new lover. She seems most persuasive, or is it more that her victime de la nuit happens to be caught at a vulnerable moment?
For this and more, publisher Eric Beebe is aiming for a late July/early August release for MON COEUR MORT. More news here as it happens.
RAPUNZEL’S DAUGHTERS, noted May 24, et al., is now available for pre-ordering at http://pinknarc.com/books.htm. It should be physically out on July 1, with plans to have electronic versions for Kindle and Nook at about the same time. My story in this one (for those of you who might not have heard it enough already ;-)) is “The Glass Shoe,” a contemporary deconstruction of sorts of Cinderella.
The stories in RAPUNZEL’S DAUGHTERS are based on fairy tales, myths, and legends, often exploring the question: What came after the “Happily ever after”? For an interesting pre-publication review that even has a line on my story, just check here (not that last month’s readers might not have seen it before too).
I had started watching Elvira on TV Sunday hosting the original NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, but not quite in the right mood for her wisecracks, switched to a DVD of THE HORDE (a.k.a. LA HORDE), a very violent — and very well done — French zombie film which had just arrived from Amazon UK maybe the day before (since it was cheaper in England even with the postage, even getting it new, and I don’t have any problem with PAL format). Ironically, since I usually watch these in the original language with subtitles, the British disk has an English language dub as well, while I understand the US equivalent doesn’t. One thing about The Horde also though (and I think it’s picked up in some of the reviews) is that the use of sound is extremely well done, and the “background noise” becomes very important by the end.
The main objection some critiques have is that none of the characters are particularly likeable: It involves French police having to join with gang bangers to fight their way through a zombie, um, horde — but the cops are corrupt bastards who’d originally attacked the crooks in an abandoned high rise because the crooks had previously killed one of their fellow cops (and who, despite his being married, the sole policewoman member of our merry band had been sleeping with — but, well, it is French). There are also poor people still living in the building including a particularly politically incorrect (he refers to the zombies as “Chinks” throughout) elderly veteran of Dien Bien Phu (the engagement after which Charles de Gaulle reportedly warned President Eisenhower that the US ought not get involved in Viet Nam — Eisenhower didn’t listen), two Nigerian crooks who had apparently had their own violent past in Africa, the still-resident apartment security man who has a weapons collection stashed in his office, and one particularly over the top battle between the lead policeman and “La Horde” in the building’s underground parking garage which, yes, is probably not 100 percent believable but, still, Wow! Also, for those who pick sides between slow zombies and fast zombies, these guys are FAST — and, re. the unlikeable characters rap, yes, guilty as charged, except at the same time they’re delightfully quirky.
Also the film is quite nihilistic (speaking of THE NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, original version).
I would compare THE HORDE favorably with the Spanish film [REC], for those who’ve seen that one. Similarly, the French film starts off a little bit slow but once in gear, and not very far into it at all (though I understand there is a version with about 8 minutes more set up at the beginning, but only available in Germany– it is, however, included in “Deleted Scenes” in the Extras), it doesn’t let up for a moment.
This will not be everyone’s kind of film, but if you should feel the urge to watch an ultra violent zombie film, THE HORDE would be a good pick. And don’t miss what one critique called the “ultimate cat fight” between our policewoman friend and a female zombie who tries to jump her in an apartment kitchen (e.g., use of a refrigerator as a weapon).