Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Pigeons from Hell #2-4

Dark Horse Comics

When I first covered Pigeons from Hell #1 in this blog, we left off with a pile of dead pigeons and a group of friends who stumble upon the Blassenville Mansion's strange power. Little is revealed in that first issue, but the following comics tell the gruesome tale of a long-standing curse that resides within the house, and a violent history of slavery and murder.

After several of our characters are killed and become zombies, a local lawman on horseback meets the kids to help get to the bottom of it. We soon discover the grounds are haunted by souls of deceased slaves, shape-shifting shadow creatures that are unable to actually harm the humans but are condemned to the land forever. The sheriff brings the 2 surviving Blassenville sisters (Claire and Janet) to an old man named Alcebee who resides in the same swamp - he is over 100 years old and has the knowledge they seek. He grew up as a slave to the Blassenville family and is now trapped in his home, within a circle of safety that the spirits cannot penetrate.

Alcebee explains that the spirit is actually the soul of a Blassenville daughter, who drowned an illegitimate slave child and haunts the house ever since. Her heart, removed from her body by a voodoo curse, is the source of the house's strength. In order to put an end to the chaos the sisters must first stun the spirit by revealing it's reflection in Alcebee's mirror, and then destroying the heart. The souls of the slaves will then be free.

This modern adaptation of the Robert E. Howard classic is perfectly executed by Joe Lansdale (writer) and Nathan Fox (illustration). The two are a dynamic duo - Lansdale often leaves out text alltogether, allowing Fox's art to tell the story. Fox's choppy but sharp drawings have an edginess that makes the gore and violence come to life before our eyes, leaving alot up to the imagination and in turn creating one of the most exciting horror comics of the new milennium. I can only hope that this short 4-comic mini-series be made into a feature film. Until then, make sure you grab all 4 chilling issues and enter the Blassenville Mansion if you dare. Thanks again, Dark Horse!

Purchase Pigeons from Hell at the Dark Horse website:

Monday, August 25, 2008

Movie Review #22: Zombie Town

Directed by Damon Lemay

There are two things that I will never get sick of in horror films, past and present: hillbillies and zombies. Zombie Town has both, with zombie hillbillies to boot! Before the opening credits even roll we have a body count of 4 and some cool cannibal gore effects. Heavy metal music quickly breaks into a knee-slappin country soundtrack; throw in some terrible acting, a backwoods town infected by parasites, and you have yourself the typical recipe for an an all-out amateur gorefest.

Two brothers, Jake & Denton, are struggling to maintain business at the local mechanic garage. While responding to a breakdown call, they bump into Jake's redhead ex (Alex) who is conducting water testing for the town and coincidentally fails to notice a decaying corpse floating in the lake. The call then leads them to a run-down house in the woods; Denton is immediately attacked and of course Jake leaves his brother on site to go get help. Denton soon becomes a zombie and the local sheriff makes the brilliant decision to let him rot behind bars.

The real fun begins when slimy parasites crawl out of Denton's body, infest the police station and make their way into the sheriff's toilet. The sheriff takes his last shit and then rises from the dead (later on we spot him limping through town with his pants still down around his ankles haha). Alex and Jake arrive at the jail and quickly bottle up a parasite to sample in the lab, later discovering that salt kills the parasites.

Alex is quite the scientist, and concludes that the parasites are injecting fluids into the spine of its victims, causing violent zombie-like behavior. The entire town becomes zombies, hence the name, and our characters take it upon themselves to blast and sprinkle their way through the streets using shotguns and bags of salt, picking zombies off one by one in classic Dawn of the Dead fashion. The best scene of the film is when an old bag named Ms. Mahoney turns into a zombie at the local Bingo hall and eats the winner. Randy and Jake show up with a shotgun and declare the scene is "like a god damn grandma massacre in here!" Pure genius. I give this movie 4 toes - total entertainment from start to finish!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Movie Review #21: Wizard of Gore (re-make)


The horror re-makes of the past few years have been, for lack of a better word, boring. Granted almost everything in horror has been done, so any new film is indirectly paying homage to some horror film of the past whether it claims to or not. Seriously though - how many different ways can you kill someone? How many times can the victim fall down while running away? Is it possible that the genre itself has finally become oversaturated with cliches and cookie cutter plot development? Well just when you thought modern American horror was doomed, in steps The Wizard of Gore.

Attempting to re-create a film by the gore master Herschell Gordon Lewis is indeed a tricky task. But in this case, director Jeremy Kasten does the original film (1970) justice by not only keeping the gore intact but re-working the story into a modern hallucinogenic terror experience. Set in present day Los Angeles, a writer named Edmund Bigelow (played by Kip Pardue) and his girlfriend (Bijou Phillips) frequent a local magic show. The magician, Montag The Magnificent, is played astonishingly well here by Crispin Glover (Willard, 2003), who has come a long way since Marty McFly in Back to the Future (1985). The Suicide Girls make several appearances and are, of course, completely naked. Hand-picked by Montag from the audience, the girls are slain on stage behind a sheet of smoky glass, sending the audience into a frenzy only to be shocked that the girls leave the stage without a scratch. The real terror begins when the same girls start turning up dead after the show with the same wounds.

Edmund is determined to reveal Montag as the murderer, but the viewer is mislead by various hallucinations in which Edmund himself appears to be the killer. A mind-control drug referred to as tetrodotoxin (found in puffer fish) is used by Montag on the audience and show participants to create his gory illusion - as a result the viewer loses all sense of reality, allowing Kasten to really let loose his vision. This is not the kind of film you can watch once and understand - a second or third viewing is advised. The plot is all over the place, and the action is very confusing. One thing is certain - Kasten used the original film as a foundation, but creates something brand new and surprisingly original. I give The Wizard of Gore 5 toes - this is one of the best horror films I have seen this year. It just came out straight to DVD on Tuesday so go pick up a copy immediately.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Movie Review #20: Hell's Ground


The American title for the Pakistani slasher "Zibahkhana," directed by Omar Khan, borrows its plot structure from American horror films like Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but succeeds in creating its own unique niche in international horror cinema - quite an achievement from a country who hasn't produced a scary title since the 1970's.

Your typical crew of victims, 5 young Pakistani teens with conflicting personalities, sneak out to attend a rock concert but, of course, never actually make it there. They pile into a rented van and drive out to the forest, taking a shortcut and running into mutated zombies along the way. After a visit to the local medicine man, who warns them that they are on Hell's Ground, one of the teens eats a deadly dose of hallucinogens and they are picked off one by one by a burqa-clad killer waving a spiked ball and chain. As if there weren't enough blatant Western horror cliches staring us in the face, the main characters just never seem to learn in the horror genre, even in Pakistan - the killer never dies after the first try. Our lead female nearly escapes after smacking the killer with a barbed wire stick. She then does what any determined woman would - returns to the body and plunges a stake through his chest dozens of times and leaves spattered with blood, only to run into her friend-turned-zombie for a climactic finish that leaves plenty of room for a sequel. I say bring it on!

Khan seems torn between shooting a zombie movie and a slasher, developing a back story that goes nowhere about people who mutate and feast on blood after being poisoned by the local water supply. The picture quality is terrible, which adds to the feel of the film, but the gore and effects are great. I give this film 4 toes - a fresh take on a genre that has become so repetitive and predictable. And the Bollywood soundtrack makes for a belly dancing good time as well . . .