Tag Archives: Zombies

Geeky “Loser” Wins The Zombie Apocalypse in Short Film ‘Super Zero’

It’s hard to be original in the “zombie” movie genre these days. The zombie-film lovers among us even have nerd-raging debates about how to categorize zombie films and even the types of zombies. And once you’ve gotten through the sequel of a movie boasting fast-running, treasure-hunting Nazi zombies… you might start to think that’s the end of the line.

But Super Zero is a breath of fresh air… Or, rather, fresh rotting-corpse-smell air, because, as our unlikely hero reminds us, “you never hear about how the apocalypse smells like total ass.”

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This is the zombie movie for the zombie-film lover who rooted for the geeky dude Erlend in Dead Snow to be the one who makes it to the end through sheer nerdery and zombie fandom. This is the zombie apocalypse for the comic book nerd, the science geek, the Cheeto-stained-fingers gamer who’s used to killing his zombies with a joystick and a X button.

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The only thing you could probably fault the film for is an overuse of the word “dickweed,” but can we even call that a fault? I mean… I get it. It’s too fun to say… “dickweed”… “dickweed.” Try it. “Dickweed”… Anyway….

From director Mitch Cohen, Super Zero is a brilliant, sarcastic, nerd-tuned take on the zombie apocalypse, so just watch it.

But here’s the brief in case you need a little more enticement:
Your standard nerd, Josh Hershberg got the shitty end of the gene pool stick. And it’s not just the lack of cleft chin and bulging muscles that screwed him over; he just found out he has terminal brain cancer… He’s ready to give up completely when the apocalypse hits. Suddenly the very thing that was going to kill him might be the only thing that keeps him alive. Well… that and apparently a knack for physics turns out to be just the thing an unlikely hero needs in the zombie apocalypse.

As unlikely hero Josh tells us “you may not be a naturally skilled athlete, brilliantly creative, or just the whole package…” but that doesn’t mean you can’t be “the baddest motherfucker in the world.”

super_zero_poster Big Block

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5 Black Horror Films You’ve *Got* to Watch This Halloween

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We all know that when things get all stalking-creepy-music-stabby in a horror film, the nearest Black person is about to meet  the pointy end of a kitchen knife or an unfortunately convenient pitchfork, but not before regretfully exclaiming  something of the “Aw hell nah!” variety.

Aside from the occasional Brandy or Ice Cube or LL Cool J (hm… sensing a “musical negro” trend here) who manages to survive the homicidal white guy or freakishly murderous animal, there aren’t too many horror films where the (single) Black character has made it out alive, or past the first 10 minutes for that matter. But even more striking is the dearth of horror films featuring a Black lead or just more than the one (disposal) Black character.

Or at least not so many contemporary ones. Turns out there have been some pretty dope subversive horror movies (lots in the Blaxploitation era) featuring Black casts, Black villains, and even some Black survivors!

1. Dr. Black and Mr. Hyde (William Crain, 1976)


So you ever notice that most of the scary homicidal murderers in horror films are white guys or creepy little white girls? Yea. So did director William Crain back in the 70’s. In this race-centric rewrite of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Crain serves up a world of racial reversal, commentary, and subversion, casting the film’s hero as a respected Black doctor who is transformed into a horrifying homicidal white man after he takes an experimental serum.

2. The People Under the Stairs (Wes Craven, 1991)

“Your father’s one sick mutha, you know that? Actually your mother is one sick mutha too.” –Fool

The People Under the Stairs is a real rarity in the horror genre — a horror film featuring a strong Black cast and created by a major director, the famed Wes Craven.  On top of that the film deconstructs the veneer of the “happy suburban family” and highlights the issues of wealth disparity and the class wars of the 80’s.  Our hero is “Fool,” a young black boy who joins up with two men from his bleak housing project to rob the house of the wealthy, money-hoarding, crazy pants slumlord that is trying to evict Fool’s family. Fool and the others lives aren’t exactly full of sunshine, but when they make it into the house, they find themselves living a whole different kind of nightmare. Rumor has it Craven wants to rescue the film from obscurity with a (appropriately timed, given the latest in wealth disparities) remake. Check a better breakdown of the film over at Quirks & Splatters.

3. Candyman (Bernard Rose, 1992)


This was the nightmare that haunted 80’s babies and kept them away from the bathroom mirror at night for years. Riffing on the legend of “Bloody Mary,” the movie tells a much more harrowing and realistic story of a Black man in the 1800s killed for sleeping with a white woman.  An artist and the son of a slave, the man was maimed and killed by a lynch mob after the white woman he fell in love with was found out to be pregnant with his child. The mob chopped off his painting hand and replaced it with a hook, which becomes his weapon of choice once he goes all legendary and starts killing folk who chant into a mirror the same taunt that his murderers did, “Candyman…”. It’s a whole lot of scary, all the more so for its drawing on historical truths.

4. Sugar Hill (Paul Maslansky, 1974)

George Romero created a whole new type of zombie with the phenomenon he started back in the 60’s with Night of the Living Dead, and this new kind of zombie stuck.  Since then zombie movie after zombie movie has featured a bunch of undead white folk chasing around and nom-ing on other white folk. (Romero’s own Night of the Living Dead actually had a Black hero in Ben Hanser and could be analyzed as one horrifying commentary on Black persecution (in fact it has been! Peep a clip of The American Nightmare documentary about it)).

sugar hillBut Sugar Hill took the zombie back to its Haitian and Voodoo roots when the movie’s heroine Sugar Hill takes revenge on the white gangsters who murdered her boyfriend by conjuring up the dead to do her bidding. It’s strangely, considering it’s Blaxploitation era, a PG movie. It’s also just strange, mildly problematic for a number of reasons, and kind of hilarious. A perfect throwback for the folks who like Halloween but hate actually scary movies, for anyone tired of the modern (endlessly starving) zombie, or for anyone who likes a good revenge film but couldn’t quite stomach Django…

5. Shadow: Dead Riot (Derek Wan, 2006)

Okay, so this one is so so so so sooo campy and ridiculous and, yes, quite bad. But it’s a horror movie led by not just a Black hero, but…gasp! a Black female hero! Solitaire is our hero, who gets thrown into a women’s penitentiary that isn’t all on the up and up, but it’s not just crooked prison guards, beefed up inmates, and creeper doctors that she whips her kung fu skills out on… oh no, it’s way better than that. Turns out the prison hosts the super-powerful ghost of a ex-inmate put to death for murdering pregnant women, and he’s back with an army of zombies (that’s right) to torture the women prisoners. But Solitaire’s got a few roundhouse kicks and some super strength that he’ll have to deal with first. Yup. Recommend watching with copious amounts of hard liquor.

Luchador Detectives, Kukaracha Kings, & Chunky SuperGirls, Oh My! Latino Comics On the Scene in L.A.

Art based on Jose Cabrera’s online comic strip Crying Macho Man

This weekend (August 17-18) in Los Angeles, a host of geeky Latino talent, packing pens and sketchbooks, will descend upon the halls of the Museum of Latin American Art to bring to geeks of all hues a taste of comics art with a Latino flavor.

Featuring veteran talent like Sonambulo creator Rafael Navarro and El Muerto creator and Expo co-founder Javier Hernandez, as well as newcomer talent like youngin’ Daniel Parada, who debuted his Mayan alternate history Zozt just this year, the Latino Comics Expo will show off the wealth of diversity and imagination in Latino comics. You’ll see everything from crime-fighting calacas to Marine zombies.

You should totally go. But if you can’t, don’t let that stop you from checking out some of these artists’s seriously amazing art and stories.

Here’s a little preview (or cruel teaser if you can’t make it) of what you might see at the show:

El Verde

When factory worker Arturo Sanchez falls into a vat of elote at the factory where he works in Fictional City, he’s certain he’s gained superpowers. Donning a mask and taking on the name El Verde, Sanchez enlists in the fight for “truth, justice, and the Mexican-American way!”  With hilariously named villains like Kukaracha King and Frita Kahlo, writer Anthony Aguilar created the superhero to bring Latino culture to the conventional superhero comics genre.  Aguilar publishes the comic online.

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Chunky Girl Comics*

Husband and wife Marisa and Jose Garcia, along with illustrator Grant Miller have teamed up as Chunky Girl Comics, to bring a voluptuous new image to the superhero genre. Taking on body image, bullying, and beauty standards, their debut comic Heavy Response Unit tells the story of four plus-sized superheroines  – Sweet Pea, Candy, Sage, and Rosie — who have to fight for equality when it becomes illegal to be overweight in California. Engaged in operation “Fierce, Fab, & Fluffy,” this diverse, curvaceous hero team is tackles bullying and empowers the body-licious.

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USMZ

Roman Montes de Oca, who describes zombies as his “passion,” has been writing his zombie comic USMZ as a free web comic, releasing a new page every week. But now he’s made the horror glossy and brought it to print. A Marine himself, Montes de Oca draws on his own experience to bring a gory, bloody, foul-mouthed zombie apocalypse that follows the Marines who are called on to save our souls!

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Sonambulo

Salomon Lopez is climbing to fame as a masked fighter going by the name Sonambulo in Mexico, before he gets caught up with the Mafia who beats him up and leaves him for dead. But before this fatal entanglement, Lopez had developed a sleeping disorder that often left him sleeping for days at a time, so when these gangsters bury him, Lopez instead falls into a 30-year sleep. Sonambulo emerges with new found powers that make him a top rate private detective to contend with the dark forces of the night. Creator Rafael Navarro first self-published the comic back in 1996, but continues to bring dynamic heroes to audiences as an animator for video games and television.

*Correction: Turns out Chunky Girl Comics won’t be making it this year, but never fear they will be in San Francisco with the Expo in June next year!

PAXEast Day One

Life-size Lara Croft model from the New Tomb Raider

Massive nerdery exploded on the harbor yesterday. Packs of gamer geeks from across the U.S. descended upon the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center, armed with backpacks to load up with swag, laptops to plug into LAN parties, and decks to dominate at the tabletop tournaments.

Since the Con sold out early, I only managed to nab a badge for Friday, but SO worth it, if only just to marvel at the only place in the world where there is no line for the women’s restrooms.  That said, women were pretty well represented on the fan side of things. And the Tomb Raider panel showed that there are incredible women on the development side turning out some really awesome stuff.

There was even a little (very little) brown-folk representation, at a booth featuring Independent Game Festival award winner Guacamelee (DrinkBox Studios), a combat game inspired by Mexican folklore and traditional Mexican culture.

Guacamelee (DrinkBox Studios)
Guacamelee (DrinkBox Studios)

With a name like Guacamelee, it definitely deserves a skeptical eyebrow raise and hesitant side-eye. But maybe it’s a beautiful work that celebrates an often under- and mis- represented culture in geek world. We’ll see…

In the meantime, the rest of the Con was a bombardment of everything from the big corps and online games to tabletop tournaments, Nerdcore jams, indie RPGs and MMOs, cosplay geniuses, and even a geeky furniture design business.

Here’s a couple of highlights:

GAMES!

WildStar looks like it’s going to be amazing. Graphics look great, and the story is fun – clashes between races from across the galaxy ensue when a dreamy planet called Nexus is discovered and hordes of galactic beings descend upon it, some to colonize, some to protect and defend it, some exiled and looking for a new home, and some are just there to wreak general havoc for the shit of it. Definitely signed up for the beta on this one.

With the Beta for The Elder Scrolls Online out this month, it’s no surprise that there was a 2-3 hour long line of fans at the Bethesda booth, where the insanely awesome trailer was booming on loop entrancing and tempting Elder Scrolls fans into their secreted gameplay section.

Another one that grabbed my eye, purely by it’s beautiful design was Contrast by Compulsion Games. It’s quite the departure from the shoot-em-up battles, galactic space wars, and  zombie frenzy survivalist games flashing on the screens around the rest of the Exhibit Hall.  This game is set around a cabaret and a little girl named Didi. The player plays Didi’s invisible friend Dawn, who can literally become her own shadow for stealth purposes, etc.  It’s an interesting idea that makes for a spectacular design, but I wonder if the concept is strong enough to hold action, story, and strategy…  I might give it a try just to find out and look at all the pretty.

A couple others worth checking out…

…if you’re into stealth games: Mark of the Ninja (Klei Entertainment)

…if you’re into quirky survivalist, gather/collect games that show no mercy: Don’t Starve (Klei Entertainment)

…if you’re into significantly *less* quirky survivalist zombie games that scare the bejeezus out of you: The Last of Us

Fun fact: Ellen Page was the model for lead character Ellie
Fun fact: Ellen Page was the model for lead character Ellie

COSPLAY!

I’d do a  whole feature on it, but it’s been done better over at Kotaku.

I will however, add to the love for Amy Demicco’s supercrazyawesome battle dress made out of Magic cards.

Amy Demicco logged 200+ hours to create this beast.
Amy Demicco logged 200+ hours to create this beast.

GEEK CHIC!

Over at the Geek Chic booth, a cadre of very fashionable geeks were opening our nerdy eyes to the possibilities of furniture for your gaming habit. You don’t have to settle for long boxes for your comics or the coffee table you commandeered from your parents for your Friday night Dungeons and Dragons parties.

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