Summer Reading

Everyone needs a little summer reading, to pass the time as you hole up in the basement from the sun’s brutal rays… or, you know, “beach books” to pass the time as ghoulishly as possible on your summer vacation. In no particular order, five books to check out this summer, if you haven’ yet:

1. “The Changed” by B.J. Burrow: Zombie novels from the POV of the undead are tricky. A zombie novel about a zombie running for the Senate sounds like the worst idea ever, but Burrow pulls it off. The key is that everything we think we know about zombies is wrong (not a new concept, of course, Richard Matheson’s “I Am Legend” notably dealt with the theme using vampires). Plenty of gore from the very first scene, black humor, and dark romance. If you have a Kindle or a Kindle iPhone or PC app, download a free sample for a taste, and be prepared to drop $2.99 for the full Kindle novel, or purchase it in book form for about 12 bucks.

2. “Toe Tags,” Edited by Brian Barnett and William Pauley III: I picked up this collection of short stories because one of the authors, Jimmy Calabrese, contributor of “The Sleepwalking Corpse,” is a member of one of my very favorite bands, Calabrese. Zombies, vampires, demons, scary tattoos, dolls–this creepy collection has it all. Well worth the $18.00 for the book, or download it in PDF form for $10.

3. “Grande Illusions” by Tom Savini: Brush up on your special effects makeup techniques with the legendary master Tom Savini. Remember, there are only three months till Halloween! $25.

4. “Zombie Haiku: Good Poetry for Your… Brains” by Ryan Mecum: A book of zombie haiku is an awesome enough of a concept as it is, but what makes Mecum’s book of zombie haiku brilliant is that it’s actually a linear story. A quick and memorable read–if you haven’t read this or his “Vampire Haiku” book, you’re missing out. And, FYI, if you’re going to be at Comic Con International in San Diego (and if you are, I hate you), Mecum will be among those featured on the panel for “Reading with Brains: The Rise and Unrelenting Stamina of Zombie Fiction” on Saturday July 24th from 11-12 am in Room 7AB.

5. “Massive Awesome #1” by Stephen Lindsay: Picked this up at Philly Comic Con last month–this is a 215 Ink comic by the creator of “Jesus Hates Zombies.” Basic plot: this anthropomorphic piece of bacon, Commando Bacon, and his buddy Zombie Pickle, a pickle who thinks he’s a zombie, have an extreme-action adventure. Includes a JHZ one shot. Awesome!

(Updated 7/11)

Under The Sea

We probably all are familiar with the Disney version of The Little Mermaid. It’s a classic story: Girl meets boy, she moves to be with him, they fall in love, get married, and have all sorts of freaky marital relations after the wedding. The last part is from my imagination, but you get what I mean.

However, the Disney tale has its roots in a much darker story. In the original version of the story, written by Hans Christian Andersen, things do not go as well for the mermaid as it does for Ariel in the Disney version. Firstly, when the mermaid sells her voice to get legs from the sea witch, there is a very significant catch. When she has legs, whenever she walks, it will feel as if she is walking on knives with every step. Secondly, the prince and the mermaid do not fall in love; he meets another, very human, woman and marries her instead, leaving the poor mermaid tossed aside like chum over the side of a boat. It gets even better. In the original deal that the sea witch gives the mermaid, if she does not marry the prince, she will die and turn to sea foam. However, if she stabs the prince in the heart on his wedding night and lets his blood spurt over her legs, she’ll be able to turn back into a mermaid, saving herself in the process. Does she do this? No. Instead, she decides to be a total doormat and save him, sacrificing herself. After her death, however, she is transformed into a “spirit of the air” in reward for her “goodness”. Anyway you look at it, it’s a bum deal.

If only she knew...

Think Cold Thoughts…

Ice Cream Sundae Adult Costume

I knew I should have held on to that “Hotter than Hell” post for a REAL heat wave to hit… so, instead, we’ll just think about how it might feel to be engulfed in ice cream right about now.

If, for some reason, you’re wearing a costume today in the heat (or, hell, even if you’re not but are stuck without AC), be sure to wear a Kold-Vest:

Kold-Vest

Vest has pockets for frozen inserts, to keep you cool for up to two hours. If money’s an object, try the Kold Kollar.

True Love

“Is there something in my teeth?”

Even though I left my Gothic lifestyle behind years ago, I still love vampires. Up until recently, I’ve kept this love under wraps, lest I be labeled a total weirdo. However, with the resurgence of vampires in the media (even though it includes Edward Cullen, who is probably the lamest vampire ever), liking vampires is now acceptable. When I heard that my favorite show, True Blood, was renewed for a fourth season, I thought to myself that now is the perfect time to “come out of the coffin” and treat my friends to a vampire-themed party.

The premise is simple: get a bunch of people together, nibble on some snacks (or a fellow partygoer), and watch vampire movies until the sun comes up. If somebody decides to don a pair of fangs or a cape, well, all the better.

Sounds fun, right? So invite some people, make some vampire bite cupcakes, and celebrate all things undead. Who knows, maybe Dracula himself will show.

Fathers of the Apocalypse

Kenneth Welsh as Patrick O’Flynn in “Survival of the Dead.”

When the zombie apocalypse hits, one thing most survivors can really use is a dad — someone to protect them, make sure they have food and shelter, and who always, in theory, knows what to do. Zombie movie dads do what they have to do, sometimes, like moms, even if it means their own doom. In honor of Father’s Day, here are five notable zombie movie dads (spoilers ahead):

Harry Cooper, Night of the Living Dead: Antagonist, bully, devoted dad. And, not for nothing, right about staying in the basement, no matter how much more appealing Ben is. Of course, the basement isn’t quite so safe if your sweet daughter has you for dinner.

Frank, 28 Days Later: Frank is the dad you’d want to have when the shit goes down: smart, nurturing and badass. Daughter Hannah had a sense of security and reason to live that few movie survivors have, at least until Frank’s infection. In an alternate ending, Frank is actually cured and reunited with Hannah — it didn’t really work, but part of me wished it could have.

Patrick O’Flynn, Survival of the Dead: O’Flynn is one of two hard-headed feuding patriarchs on a tiny island, and the father of a couple of its inhabitants, including Judy. Judy wasn’t dealt the best hand in the dad department, but she’s one of the few adult zombie movie characters to have one. She doesn’t take it for granted: it’s Judy who acts as protector of her dad from the rival patriarch and suggests his banishment when things get ugly. Well, one of the many times it gets ugly.

Andre, Dawn of the Dead (2004 Remake): A newborn baby introduces the concept of instant, unconditional love to a lot of new dads. How unconditional? Andre didn’t seem to even consider being anything but a proud new daddy when his zombified wife, Luda, gave birth to his beautiful undead daughter. Kind of shocking, but pretty sweet.

Tallahassee, Zombieland: Tallahasse is not quite right, more than a little bit as a result of the fact that he’s a father who lost his son. Who he talks about as if he could be a dog. But a dog he really, really loves.

Now go give dad his annual tie, and make sure your emergency plans in case of zombie apocalypse are synchronized. You wouldn’t want to have to navigate it without him.

Fight!

So, the mysterious Mortal Kombat Rebirth film short/trailer that started making the rounds this week is not a game teaser, but a pitch to Warner Brothers for a new, darker MK movie, according to Jeri Ryan, who appears in the short. No word yet on whether WB is backing the movie, but if you were hoping that the mystery film was a game teaser, you’re in luck: a new Mortal Kombat game is coming in ’11 for Playstation 3 and XBOX 360. The new version, to be released by Warner Brothers, is expected to go back to featuring ultra-gory finishing moves.

I don’t know, sounds like an excuse to dress up as a ninja fighter!

Ninja Gal Teen Costume

In other news, I saw via Dread Central that “Kick Ass” star Christopher Mintz-Plasse will play Evil Ed in the “Fright Night” remake. Peter Vincent will be played by David Tennant, aka Dr. Who. I can totally see it.

App of the Dead and other Apps… of the Dead

The Official George A. Romero App of the Dead has finally been released “in anticipation of … ‘Survival of the Dead,'” which opened in arthouse theaters across the US last week (and is still available to view on Amazon On Demand and several other direct streaming options). OK, so it’s a little late. It’s a photomanipulation app that goes for $1.99 — you take a photo of a friend with your iPhone or use a photo from your iTunes gallery and turn it into a zombie. It’s pretty cool, but a couple of additional features would have made it really worth the money. I definitely think it should have the full “Come to Plum Island” video pitch that the characters watched on an iPhone in the movie. Hello? They watched it on an iPhone! There goes my summer plan to recreate the scene in the back of a truck on the way to Slaughter Beach. Which is an actual place here in Delaware, by the way. Fun fact!

Anyway. App of the Dead is still an addition to the coolest zombie apps you can pick up for iPhone and iPod Touch. My personal favorites:

Undead Attack Pinball: classic pinball game, with an added twist: you have to knock out waves of zombies with the pinball before they reach your gate, below the flippers. I’m not big on iPod games, but this one is a blast. $2.99 for the full version, with a free Lite version available.

Diner of the Dead: Another game — this one would be just OK, if not for the awesome art. Instead of killing zombies, you feed them various body parts in the order they “request.” If too many starve, you lose. 99 cents for the full version, with a free version available.

Lost Zombies: Notes From the Apocalypse: The app companion to the huge Lost Zombies community and interactive zombie documentary experiment. Visually awesome. $1.99

Got a favorite zombie app? Comment!

The Dead Have Spoken: Brazil to Win World Cup

According to a report from Reuters, Nigerian mystic John Adatiri was given a spoiler from beyond the grave on the outcome of the ’10 World Cup, which starts next week in South Africa: Brazil will take it. The dead also informed him that his own home team would make the quarter-finals. Zulu witch-doctor Sebenzile Nsukwini has also contacted the dead in regards to the event, and assures us that there will be no terror attack on the World Cup. In other news, soccer is kind of awesome for once.

By the way, the World Cup isn’t just the world’s biggest sporting event, it’s also an excuse to dress up! There’s still time to order the Adult Male soccer uniform (the sexy Adult Female costume of currently out of stock, but there’s always the Victoria Beckham-style “Soccer Wife Wig”). My personal favorite soccer-related item in the Fright Catalog is the Plush Soccer Ball Purse:

Next to the costumes of dead people, of course.

h/t: @nshn