Archive for the ‘Monsters’ Category
Visual Dare #4: Steps
I’ve been meaning to get on board with Angela Goff’s flash fiction challenge and never had the timing right. 150 words of visual daring. Enjoy.
A few narrow stones steps is all that separates me from the light, denied to me since I was a child and given over to the Warmongers to raise in the dungeons. My feet refuse to take the steps.
The Priest warned me. He knew.
You cannot defeat the horrors of the maze by becoming one of them.
My muscles still shiver from the last battle, but it’s not exhaustion that keeps me from climbing the stairs. I slew everything in my path and cast aside pity, empathy, and pain. Killing the gate keepers unleashed something brutal inside me. Something that craves the shadow and chaos of the dungeons. The humanity inside us that deserves to walk in the light is long dead in me.
I cannot climb the steps.
I will stay here in the darkness and take my place among the pantheon of monsters.
Book Review: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
I really wanted to like this book more than I did. It’s the prototype for horror novels before there were horror novels. Oh sure, you could argue that horror novels go back much further, and really things like Beowulf and Greek legends have all the elements of a good horror story: heroes, monsters, death and destruction, and a bad, bad ending. But this novel and Brahm Stoker’s Dracula are the ones horror fans go back to for old school feel.
I’m actually surprised I hadn’t read this book before. It’s such a staple of English lit classes in high school and college that I wonder if I missed a reading assignment somewhere along the line. I skipped a lot of classes, so it’s entirely possible. The book is chock full of five paragraph essays, an infinite mine for essay themes like father-son and creator-creation relationships, moral duties in science, nurture vs nature in upbringing, etc., etc. If you’re pressed for time on an English paper, I wouldn’t choose this book as a basis. It’s a long, slow read and there are elements of the story buried in rambling passages where the protagonist describes how miserable he is for the eleventeenth time.
You should also be warned, kiddos googling for essay topics, that the classic horror movie of the same name bears NO resemblance to this novel. Do not put the words “lightning”, “castle”, or “Igor” in your essay. You’ll get an F!
A young privileged man from a good family and happy childhood goes off to University with dreams of becoming a master of natural philosophy (biologist/chemist). He abandons his study of alchemy and pursues knowledge of physiology with a passion that borders on OCD-like. He gets the brilliant idea to test his knowledge by piecing together a human body from spare parts and then reanimates it (though he never tells us how). He immediately flips out and abandons his now-alive creation to raise itself in the wilderness while he goes slowly insane.
The re-animated person (daemon, fiend, monster, whatever) finds out he’s a hideous abomination in the eyes of humanity and gets a little pissed off about being abandoned by his creator. He vows revenge and hijinx ensue.
The language in the book is beautiful. It was written when people still cared about five-dollar words and prose as poetry in the written word. It’s no wonder, Mary Shelley was married to a famous poet, and dabbled herself. The characters have depth and are fleshed out well, especially Victor and the Monster. You feel like you would know them if you passed them on the street and could have a conversation with them.
The scope of the book is also impressive. It ranges from the cities of Austria to the polar wastelands of the North and dozens of well-described locations in-between. Just reading the descriptions of the mountains and valleys of Switzerland, France, and Austria made me want to get on a plane and see the majestic sights for myself.
The underlying theme is brilliantly creepy and fitting of any horror story in any setting. You’ve created a monster with super-human abilities and it’s gotten free. Your creation is beyond your control and now it’s coming to get you and everyone you love. Pretty fucking scary if you think about it.
It’s pretty simple. Even though Victor Frankenstein is a compelling character, he’s a great big pussy. I’ll say that again really slow. He’s a cowardly, pathetic, impotent, dishrag of a man who makes you hate him by the end of the book. You don’t feel sorry for him, or empathize with him. You (or at least I) end up disgusted with him. He created this monster and set it loose on the world, and allows innocent people to die because he’s too cowardly to admit to the world that he’s made a colossal mistake. He spends most of the book telling the reader about how miserable he is. If he’s not in prison, or an insane asylum, then he’s in a sick bed, or moping around on a lake somewhere being pathetic. Just to give you an example; at one point, Victor knows the monster is coming for him right now and Victor gets pistols and a dagger to exact revenge. The battle is imminent, and when the monster appears on cue and does something completely evil…Victor collapses with the vapors. WTF.
Ultimately, the other thing that makes the book irritating is the grand finale is anything but. The ending isn’t satisfying. It doesn’t give anyone in the book completion of mission or revenge or retribution. I’m not going to give you the exact spoiler, but the reader is left to wonder if this creature will keep his word and end the story. Even the intrepid young explorer who relates the tale of Victor after finding him on the ice doesn’t achieve his goal. After many grand speeches and retelling of would-be adventures, everyone goes home a loser. And that just fucking sucks.
I would only recommend this book to classic horror fans who have patience, anyone interested in studying the philosophy of creation, or English Lit majors that need a book that can be debated endlessly without anyone really being right.
View all my reviews
Extreme Pumpkin Carving
Since it’s closing in on Halloween, one of my all time favorite holidays, I’d thought I’d put together some pumpkin carving links and pics for everyone. I love carving pumpkins. My artistic talent is minimal but my imagination is boundless so I’ve tried a lot of different styles and methods over the years. However, nothing I’ve come up with has come close to some of these true artists creations.
And of course no collection is complete without the appropriate Flickr group: Pumpkins
Spike TV Deadliest Warrior’s Vampires vs Zombies: Aftermath
So I blogged last time about this show and my prediction for what this fight would really look like. After watching the show on Spike TV, I was pleasantly surprised. They kept it fun and cool and didn’t get too uptight about that fact that we’re talking about purely hypothetical creatures here. They have some pretty awesome clips available as well…see below.
If they decide to keep going with the series and pit the Loch Ness Monster vs Bigfoot, then I’ll complain. [Sasquatch would totally take that biatch]
First up…who helped them set the standards?
Max Brooks (World War Z)
Matt Mogk (founder of the Zombie Research Society) @mattmogk
Steve Niles (30 Days of Night) @steveniles
Scott Bowen (Vampire Survival Guide)
Ok…everything after this is SPOILER. STOP READING if you haven’t watched the show!
Enjoy a clip while you scroll…
Still here? Then let’s find out who won…
First up, the mea culpa from me. I’ve never seen 30 Days of Night or read the source material so I was a little surprised by what they came up with. I appreciate that they made the vamps bad ass apex predators. Needless to say, the movie and comic are now on my to-do list.
Second, let me say that I thought Max and Matt were fantastic advocates for our beloved zombies. Excellent work guys. Make sure you go buy Matt’s new book and follow the Zombie Research Society on Twitter. @zombieresearch
The other piece that I didn’t get right in my original article is the dead/undead nature of the Vampires. In the Niles/Bowen model the vampires have a functioning circulatory system with live blood. This would make the vampires a legitimate target for zombie attacks. The ER Doc on the show also kept stating over and over that it was *possible* for the vampires to contract the zombie virus. If this is true, then the whole battle is moot because they had the vamps biting zombie brains. You couldn’t get infected any quicker unless you had intravenous zombie blood transfusion.
My initial estimate on the required ratio of Vampires to Zombies was either 50:1 or 100:1. After the board breaking expert set the ratio, I was quite pleased with the 63:1 ratio. That seems more than fair. I also loved that zombies are the only warrior EVER to get a perfect 100 in Endurance.
The simulation was fun and I would have killed to be one of those zombie actors. It looked like a good time. 3 vampires in a abandoned factory taking on 180 zombies. The outcome was close but the winner: Vampires.
Honestly, I agree with the outcome but the premise is flawed. The flaw is in the very nature of the show. Deadliest Warrior. Zombies aren’t warriors, they don’t go to “war”. They don’t fight for ideology or land or gold or even glory. They consume to replicate, to spread, to reproduce. It’s the philosophical equivalent of pitting the Orkin man against locusts.
Regardless of how many battles Vampires win one on one or one on a hundred versus Zombies, ultimately the war is lost. Zombies will consume all of the Vampires’ natural food supply and starve them out in the end. Hey! Kinda like locusts. Imagine that.
Make sure if you’re watching the show to stay all the way to the very end…that one I won’t spoil.
Zombies versus Vampires
Yeah, you read that right chump…battle royale featuring Zombies versus Vampires.
Here’s the scoop. This week, Deadliest Warrior on Spike TV is doing a supernatural throwdown featuring my favorite ZOMBIES! They are going to pit the horror show of the walking dead vs. glittery blood sucking metrosexuals and see who comes out victorious.
I’m not going to spoil it. Go watch the preview and the show when it airs and make up your own mind. For me, why I’ll do my own toe to toe line up RIGHT HERE!
In the BLUE corner: ZOMBIES
Pick your canon carefully, it could be the difference between life and death fang-face. For entertainment purposes, we’ll assume Romero zombies. Why? Because I like them better, that’s why.
Slow, low dexterity/agility, not too bright, inability to use weapons, tools or even doorknobs for that matter.
Ability to swarm in numbers, feels no pain, can function with massive bodily damage, doesn’t sleep or fatigue. They can’t be bargained with. They can’t be reasoned with. They don’t feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And they absolutely will not stop, ever, until you are dead. Wait…that sounds familiar. Is that from a movie? No. Couldn’t be.
And in the RED corner: VAMPIRES
The canon on vampires is almost as wide as zombies, but we have to pick something. We’re not doing freakin’ glittery vampires. You can stow that noise right now. We’ll stick with mostly traditional vampires ala Blade/Le stat/Lost Boys.
Must feed on blood regularly, affected by garlic, silver, holy water/symbols (meh, sometimes), can’t go out in the sunlight, less than desirable personalities.
Super human strength, super human speed, super human agility, healing factor, immune to disease, can’t be killed by traditional weapons (bullets, swords, cholesterol, etc.)
ARENA: To give each corner a fighting chance to use their strengths, we’ll pit 1000 zombies vs 1 vampire in a large closed arena immediately after sundown. Each team has 24 hours of prep time to study tactics and prepare for battle. Battle lasts until sunrise, winner takes all.
WINNER: NO ONE
That’s right. You heard me. It would be a draw. Vampires can’t feed on zombies because they have no live blood and therefore they are not a food source. Zombies would ignore vampires because they are already dead and can’t be infected and/or turned. The most likely scenario is that they would ignore each other as fellow members of the undead. Why would a vampire bother getting dirty dispatching 1000 walking putrid sacks of goo when he/she can have a seat in a comfortable chair and wait for the match to be over?
Vampires are not well known for their easy going natures and ability to let things slide. So if forced into an arena with 1000 hungry zombies, there’s a good chance your average vamp would wipe out the zombies just for sport. And despite what the Deadliest Warriors clip shows, Vamps are perfectly capable of using swords, machetes, pistols, shotguns, pointy sticks, harsh language, etc. There would be no real reason for a vampire to get up close and personal unless it was purely for giggles. But giggles are nice even for blood sucking freaks. So…since they can’t be infected, Vampires are free for more involved close combat, without that mortal fear of being bitten or scratched by a zombie.
Disagree with me? Too bad, I’m right.
Don’t forget to tune in to Spike TV on Sept. 14th to see the results!
Post your guess of the “experts” in the comments section.