100 Days of Horror welcomes you to ... SATANFEST 2013

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"Y'all know me, know how I earn a livin'. I'll catch this bird for you, but it ain't gonna be easy. Bad fish! Not like going down to the pond and chasing bluegills and tommycods. This shark, swallow ya whole. Little shakin', little tenderizin', and down you go. And we gotta do it quick, that'll bring back the tourists, that'll put all your businesses on a payin' basis. But it's not gonna be pleasant! I value my neck a lot more than three thousand bucks, chief. I'll find him for three, but I'll catch him, and kill him, for ten. But you've gotta make up your minds. If you want to stay alive, then ante up. If you want to play it cheap, be on welfare the whole winter. I don't want no volunteers, I don't want no mates, there's too many captains on this island. Ten thousand dollars for me by myself. For that you get the head, the tail, the whole damn thing."

Saturday, July 31, 2010

100 Days of Horror Day Eight - "Return of the Living Dead!"

Sleazy greetings to you one and all!

Yesterday presented an actual challenge for this quest, because we wound up going to a local fair with another couple and hanging out until 10:30. The only problem was, I hadn't watched "The Happening" yet, and was worried about missing it ... for like, three seconds. Because I told myself, "This is a stupid fucking you're doing anyway, so what's the difference? It's not like there are cameras watching you!"

Or are there?

Regardless, I was ready to just say fuck it and hang out and get drunk, when the wife pointed out that the kids were home alone and that we should attend to them eventually. So we were home before 11, and at that point, I felt the urge to carry on. So with one beer in me belly, I set out to watch "The Happening," and it was enjoyable! I laughed, I cried, I hurled insults at Marky Mark - it was awesome.

And it reminded me of one of the reasons I am doing this - to truly discover where my love for these kinds of films lie.

And today's selection is a perfect example ...

"Return of the Living Dead" was one of the first - if not THE first - zombie movie I ever saw (or remember seeing anyway - I may have caught a Romero film before that). And of course, I proceeded to tape it and watch it over and over again. So it's one of the all-time favorites in the horror genre as it exemplifies ... well, you can read all that shit below. Enjoy!

Return of the Living Dead (1985): Directed by Dan O’Bannon. Starring Clu Gulager, James Karen, Don Calfa, Thom Mathews, Beverly Randolph, Miguel A. Núñez Jr and Linnea Quigley.

The Skinny: This could be the first actual cult classic on the list so far. This zombie comedy follows a group of teens as they deal with hoards of undead, suddenly reanimated after one of their group helps his boss cremate another reanimated corpse from a government-sealed canister in the basement. The smoke causes a chemical rain to leak into the ground, and the dead – both fresh and years dead – begin to crawl from their graves.

What’s Good: This is the quintessential 80s zombie movie. The effects are good, the cast is perfect (even when they’re overacting), and the story spawned two sequels of very inferior quality. It even acted as a sort of social commentary, with its acid rain and secret government projects … there’s even an inferred nuclear deterrent used when the outbreak becomes too great and the government is contacted for help. What is more 80’s-paranoia-inspired madness than that? Plus this is a throwback to the era of practical effects versus CGI effects (i.e., the effects are done in-camera rather than in post production), so you get to see top-of-the-line effects done by a ragtag group of artists. The blood spurts, the brains, the horrible thing in the basement - they all exist in real time and space, not green balls on sticks.

What’s Bad: Well, that really depends on your idea of “bad.” Yes, it’s “bad” in as much that it is a low-budget 80s zombie movie – and if those five words don’t’ send a chill of excitement up your spine, then you are reading the wrong damn blog. It is also as violent as you can get, what with the constant consumption of brains. Yes, you see unlike Romero’s zombies, who just want to scrunch on your creamy, succulent guts, O’Bannon’s zombies can only cure the pain of being dead by consuming what’s in your gulliver like. Also, oh my god is there ever nudity – Scream Queen Leanna Quigley (aka “Trash”) runs around starkers to the strains of SSQ’s “Tonite We Make Love Til We Die,” a synthpop hit with lines like, “I once slept with the devil/it was really no big thrill.” Mercy.

Why We Like It: Oh we loves it, Precious. We loves it. Again, this is one of those movies that speaks right to the heart of me – it’s corny, it’s violent for the sake of violence, and – duh – it’s a zombie movie! And one of the greats in that category, I might add. And it is bolstered by a great soundtrack featuring SSQ, The Cramps (one of my all-time favorite bands!) T-Sol and Roky Erickson. And by the way, if you don’t know Roky, get to know him now – he’s badassery in the flesh.

Memorable Stuff: “BRAINS!” Followed by “MORE BRAINS!” A scene where a reanimated zombie grabs the two-way radio from the ambulance (the drive of said ambulance now being consumed on the ground) and in a gravely brain-soaked voice says, “send more paramedics” is also damn funny. For intensity, the scene where Clu Gullager drags himself into an active crematoria to avoid becoming undead (to the strains of “Burn The Flame” by Roky Erickson, just so’s we know not to take it too seriously) is a keeper. Oh, and let’s not forget Quigley strutting around naked in the cemetery, espousing bad Goth poetry as she strips naked (“Do you ever wonder about all the different ways of dying? You know, violently? And wonder, like, what would be the most horrible way to die?”). So dang it, what’s not to love here?