This isn’t an attempt to make light of the epidemic of gun violence that has swept across American over the past decade, nor is it an attempt to politicize the horror genre. This is another example of misguided attempts to remedy societal ills by scapegoating horror movies and TV shows. To date, a quantifiable, scientifically sound connection between fictional depictions of violence and “real-life” violence has never been established.
The Republican governor of Kentucky, Matt Bevin, has been at the forefront of the gun violence debate for the past few months. In an attempt to assign blame for the increase in fatal shootings, he’s targeted smartphones, video games, and illegal drugs (anything, it seems, besides gun manufacturers and the powerful congressional lobbyists who push their agendas).
Now, Bevins has a new scapegoat for the recent rash of mass shootings: Zombies. Here’s what he said during a recent interview with conservative Kentucky radio host Leland Conway:
“Seriously, what’s the most important topic that seems to be in every cable television network for example? Television shows are all about what? Zombies. These are drips, drips, drips on the stones of the psyches of young generations that are growing up in a society that increasingly said this is normal and okay. And eventually, some of those young minds are not going to be able to handle it. “And then we’re shocked, for reasons that are beyond me, that children act out this way. And yes, it’s only a few. But my gracious, it only takes a few.”
Whatever you may personally believe is the root cause of America’s gun violence epidemic, I can state one thing emphatically: It has nothing to do with Overlord, The Walking Dead, or any of the films that comprise the zombie subgenre of horror.
What do you think of governor Matt Bevin’s assertion that zombie movies and TV shows are to blame for the recent spate of mass shootings in America? Sound off in the comments below or on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram!
In 2002, after zombies had taken what seemed like an indefinite hiatus from gracing cinema screens, a scrappy little movie called 28 Days Later… came from across the pond to revitalize the genre with a shot of adrenaline. The movie depictis the chaos in an abandoned London following the spread of a rage virus that turns humans into violent, sprinting maniacs hellbent on biting and infecting others. This movie brought zombies back from the dead once more, and the fast-moving undead infected movies far and wide, including Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead remake and the [REC]/Quarantine franchise.
And yet, debate still rages on as to whether or not these undead revenants can truly be considered “zombies,” a question sparked by 28 Days director Danny Boyle himself, who has previously stated emphatically to the contrary. Hearing from the director might seem like a pretty cut and dry end to the debate, but that’s the interesting thing about the term “zombie.” There’s actually a lot of flexibility there, and while he was certainly thinking of the George A. Romero series of Dead flicks, Boyle wasn’t necessarily looking at his film in the broader scope of the subgenre’s history.
Real quick, let’s try to break down what a zombie even is. As cemented by Romero’s 1968 Night of the Living Dead (although the specific term wouldn’t come into use until quite a bit later), what is popularly known as a zombie is a slow-moving, undead revenant that eats human flesh and spreads its zombieism through bite, blood, and sometimes scratch. Usually, the only way to kill them is a bullet to the head or destroying/removing the brain. In the original concept, the dead were rising from graves to feast on the flesh of the living, but in contemporary zombie fiction like The Walking Dead, that has morphed into a more viral concept, with zombies spreading the disease only among living hosts, who die and then come back.
By that definition, Boyle’s monsters certainly don’t seem to fit. They’re certainly not dead, they’re just living beings that have lost their minds. And their violence isn’t born from a need to eat, it’s just pure adrenaline, rage, and an instinctual urge to spread the virus to as many hosts as possible. It’s basically an extreme form of rabies, and nobody would call a rabid raccoon a zombie, even if they might be just as scary.
However, the concept of the zombie existed long before the rise of Romero, and that’s where things get interesting. Films from the early years of cinema like 1932’s White Zombie or 1943’s I Walked with a Zombie reveal the true source of the term “zombie.” These zombies come from the Afro-Caribbean spiritual tradition of Vodou, more commonly known as “voodoo.” In this tradition, a zombie was a reanimated corpse with no soul or will of its own, in service to a powerful bokor sorcerer. They weren’t inherently violent creatures but rather unpaid, unthinking workers. Think Mickey bringing all those brooms to life in “The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.”
This concept was most recently and thoroughly explored in Wes Craven’s 1988 The Serpent and the Rainbow, which adapted a nonfiction book from ethnobotanist Wade Davis, who explored voodoo zombies in Haiti from a pharmacological perspective. In his work, he posits the existence of a “zombie drug” composed of two powders. One puts the victim into a deathlike state, and the other scrubs the mind of free will, putting the person into a zombie-like trance where they are suggestible and follow orders.
Once you explore these theories, the zombie becomes a different beast entirely, but it still doesn’t quite match up with the crazed killers wreaking havoc in London. However, 28 Days Later… actually combines elements of both these traditions to create something familiar yet entirely new. The viral aspect belongs to the Romero zombie, but the Rage Virus in Boyle’s film removes all consciousness and morality from the human mind, stripping it to a completely blank instinctual state exactly like Davis’ zombie drug. It is in that state that they act most like Romero’s creations, biting and clawing and spreading their disease.
While it’s true that Boyle’s creatures fit neither definition of the word “zombie,” I’d argue that it doesn’t actually matter. The zombie transformed from one concept to the other back in 1968, and now it has transformed again, taking half a step backward down the evolutionary chain and combining both creatures into one. The term has always been a malleable one, and it can very easily stretch again once you know the history of its origin. Honestly, the truth about these monsters is that the answers are never black and white. Davis’ drugged victims both are and aren’t “zombies.” Romero’s flesh-eating ghouls both are and aren’t “zombies.” And the same goes for 28 Days Later… But by fitting exactly into the grey area that always has surrounded the term, doesn’t it prove that “zombie” is the perfect fit?
Everything is zombies and nothing is zombies, but more importantly, the creatures in 28 Days Later… can definitely be called zombies without violating some sort of fundamental rule about their nature. So there you have it. Like most things in life, the answer isn’t entirely satisfying, but at least there is one. Now you can breathe a sigh of relief and go back to arguing about whether or not it’s called “Frankenstein’s Monster” once more.
Brennan Klein is a writer and podcaster who talks horror movies every chance he gets. And when you’re talking to him about something else, he’s probably thinking about horror movies. On his blog, Popcorn Culture, he is running through reviews of every slasher film of the 1980’s, and on his podcast, Scream 101, he and a non-horror nerd co-host tackle horror franchises from tip to tail! He also produces the LGBTQ horror podcast Attack of the Queerwolf! on the Blumhouse Podcast Network.
A co-op shooter set in The Walking Dead universe? From the makers of Payday? Read why that’s both exciting and frustrating in our first impressions of Overkill’s The Walking Dead.
While many have been following Overkill’s The Walking Dead with a keen interest, others may be surprised to hear that the game has already launched, at least for PC players. It’s been an alarmingly quiet launch for a game that’s been hyped up for more than four years, attached to one of the biggest names in television. As long-time fans of the show, we were curious to see how this latest video game adaptation shapes up.
For those who have absolutely no idea who Overkill are, they’re the team that brought us Payday, an incredibly popular co-operative shooter in which you and a gang of up to three friends stage a series of daring heists. Its sequel, Payday 2, is still among one of the most played online games in circulation so when it was announced Overkill would be taking a swing at The Walking Dead, it was hard not to get excited.
Sticking to what the studio knows best, this is another first-person shooter strictly focused on 4-player co-op. While it can be run solo, Overkill has geared the core gameplay and level design in a way that makes it almost impossible to progress as a sole survivor. The sheer number of enemies, both living and dead, as well as the way objectives are structured demands a full squad of four, ideally communicating with one another.
Overkill’s The Walking Dead focuses on an entirely new cast of characters – a band of survivors protecting their Washington settlement from zombies and a rival faction calling themselves The Family. From what we’ve seen, Overkill has made an effort to flesh out this change of setting and those key characters who inhabit it, but not in a way that’s particularly memorable or impactful.
The four main protagonists each belong to a specific class with their own unique perks, abilities, and weapon proficiencies. It’s a choice that ultimately determines your role in combat – whether you want to get up close, pick enemies off from afar, or support your squad with buffs and items. Starting out, you’ll feel somewhat underpowered though as you complete missions and rank up, characters will grow stronger and more versatile.
In many ways, these design choices mirror that of Payday 2 and it’s true that, in broad strokes, The Walking Dead can feel like somewhat of a zombie-themed reskin of Overkill’s flagship shooter. However, the overall flow and feel of combat, paired with the gritty post-apocalyptic setting, help obscure any overlap.
Fighting the undead usually goes one of two ways. You and your fellow survivors can either go for the efficient route, performing stealth takedowns and going unnoticed. Then there’s the more direct approach, hacking, slashing, swinging, and shooting. It depends on the scenario, as well as who you’re teamed up with.
However, some missions demand a quieter, more methodical approach. When coming up against The Family, you’ll need to change gears, using cover and limiting exposure as you would in a normal shooter. Make too much noise, and you’ll also fill a meter that populates the entire level with more walkers. Go in all guns blazing and you’ll quickly find your backs against the wall.
The Walking Dead tries to keep you plugged in, even between missions. You can spend any resources found on camp upgrades, recruit survivors, and send them on missions. It’s similar to the metagame Naughty Dog featured in The Last of Us and one that has you thinking about more than just gunning down zombies when out in the field.
It’s a brutal, fairly unforgiving co-op experience that’s rough around the edges and isn’t as fully-featured as some might expect (there’s no in-game voice chat, for example. Time to jump on Skype/Discord!). That said, our first impressions of Overkill’s The Walking Dead are mostly positive, overall. It successfully nails that grit of the television show and while the game can become repetitive – even frustrating – in spots, it’s a rewarding co-op shooter and one that will hopefully be refined to work out some of those awkward kinks. If you’re considering taking the plunge, just make sure you have friends to watch your six.
Overkill’s The Walking Dead code provided by the publisher.
Fifty years ago the world of horror and cinema as a whole was changed forever with the release of Night of the Living Dead. Now a direct sequel is in the works from the creative team who brought the un-dead to life.
According to a recent interview, original NotLD scribes, the late George A. Romero and John A. Russo wrote a direct sequel to the 1968 original which has now been unearthed by Living Dead Media, an entertainment web site dedicated to the series.
The script, after having not been produced for many years, is being planned to release theaters next year with the original surviving writers and producers at the helm.
According to Living Dead Media, “That history and Night of the Living Dead’s place on the Mt. Rushmore of horror films is known by most horror fans and people all over the world. But, unknown to most is that in the 1970’s, the original writers and producers of Night of the Living Dead penned a sequel to their masterpiece. A sequel that inexplicably has gone unproduced for over forty years – until now. Living Dead Media has brushed away the dirt from this amazing follow up to a classic and brought together a great team to produce the new film.”
Even after spawning a franchise that went on for five stand-alone sequels, the new film is planned to be a direct continuation of the story when it all began.
It is Living Dead Media that is looking to continue Romero’s legacy with multiple unused scripts, novels and films after his passing in 2017.
Night of the Living Dead was filmed in Evans City, PA just outside of Pittsburgh for the fraction of the cost of a Hollywood feature film by a band of filmmakers determined to make history.
Romero’s magnum opus is one of the greatest stories of independent film making as an ultra-low-budget midnight hit turned box-office success that became one of the most influential films ever made.
The original film depicted a group of strangers trapped in a farmhouse who find themselves fending off a horde of flesh-eating ghouls who’ve risen from their graves. Romero’s grim vision of a late-sixties America tearing itself apart rewrote the rules of the horror genre.
Look for Night of the Living Dead Part II in 2019.
After Death – original title: Oltre la morte – is a 1988 Italian horror feature film directed by Claudio Fragasso [as Clyde Anderson] (Troll 2; Monster Dog) from a screenplay by Rossella Drudi. The Flora Film production stars Jeff Stryker [as Chuck Peyton], Candice Daly and Massimo Vanni [as Alex McBride].
Now best known as Zombie 4 (it was re-titled to make it appear to be the second sequel to Zombi 2 aka Zombie Flesh Eaters), the film has also been issued as Zombie Flesh Eaters 3.
Researchers at a remote jungle island outpost discover the natives are practicing voodoo and black magic. After killing the local priest (James Sampson), a voodoo curse begins to raise the dead to feed on the living in retribution. The researchers on the island are killed by the newly risen zombies, except for Jenny (Candice Daly), the daughter of a scientist couple. She escapes, protected by an enchanted necklace charm given to her by her mother shortly before her death.
She returns years later as an adult with a group of mercenaries (Tommy, Dan, Rod and Rod’s girlfriend Louise) to try to uncover what happened to her parents. Shortly after arriving at the island their boat’s engine dies, stranding them. Meanwhile, elsewhere on the island a trio of hikers – Chuck, David, and Maddis ‘Mad’ – discover a cave, the same cave leading to the underground temple where the original curse was created. After accidentally reviving the curse, the dead once again return to kill any who trespass on their island…
Zombie 4 – originally released as After Death before it was co-opted into the series – saw Claudio Fragasso take the director’s reigns, while his wife Rossella Drudi provides the screenplay, proving herself every bit as incompetent as her other half when it came to writing efficient horror movies.
The plot is an incoherent mess and so full of holes that you’ll spend much of the film scratching your head in bewilderment, but it basically revolves around two groups of people who end up on an Island that is infested with zombies. One chap from a bunch of researchers reads from an Evil Dead-style ancient volume and resurrects the living dead – although they already seem quite spritely, attacking someone in the other group of bimbos and mercenaries. Inconsistencies like this crop up throughout the film, with Drudi and Fragasso presumably hoping that the frenetic action would stop the viewer from noticing.
Unfortunately, there is very little in the way of frenetic action. The zombies are, for the most part, so static that you could probably avoid them simply by walking at normal speed; the living characters, of course, all determinedly stay in one location rather than trying to get away from what looks like half a dozen walking dead.
There are a few novel twists – talking zombies, for one, and gay movie icon Jeff Stryker in a leading role for another. The film shows the influence of Lamberto Bava’s Demons in the early scenes – apparently tacked on to make the film longer. Fragasso and Drudi express their dislike of these scenes in the extras, but frankly, they are the best bit, ensuring it starts with a bang (it feels like a huge amount of plot exposition has been dumped before the film opens), and the first fifteen minutes or so are pretty fast- paced and outrageous. After that, unfortunately, things grind to a snail’s pace.
However, at least the zombies look like zombies, and now and again, the film briefly captures the atmosphere of Lucio Fulci’s Zombie Flesh Eaters. Al Festa – later to become a director himself, helming the stunningly terrible Fatal Frames – provides a decent Goblin-a-like score, and there are enough splattery moments to keep gorehounds more than satisfied.
It’s sad to think that the once-vibrant Italian exploitation industry fizzled out with tat like this – but for viewers who are not especially fussy and enjoy trashy, gory movies, Zombie 4 is not entirely without worth.
David Flint, HORRORPEDIA
First 3000 with First Ever Official Release Soundtrack CD of Music by Al Festa
New 2K Scan of Original Film materials
Run Zombie Run! – Interview with Director Claudio Fragasso and Screenwriter Rossella Drudi
Jeff Stryker in Manila – Interview with Actor Chuck Peyton
Blonde vs Zombies – Interview with Actress Candice Daly
“Despite the director’s claims that the last third of the film was heavily cut, it’s still gruesome enough to please gorehounds. Given the film’s genesis and the reputation of its creators, it’s surprising that anything here is worth watching at all. That, at least, is a success of sorts.” Jim Harper, Italian Horror 1979 – 1994
“Not many people are likely to confuse After Death with a good movie, but zombie and splatter fans can easily get their jollies here. Faces are torn off in lingering detail, chest cavities are turned into impromptu puppeting devices, bullet squibs burst twenty times wetter than any real gunshot… well, you get the idea.” Nathaniel Thompson, Mondo Digital
“Zombie 4 reveals its tawdriness at nearly every turn […] the film stock looks like it was dragged out of a dusty warehouse, the lighting is paltry, and the zombies are a bit nondescript (outside of their ability to talk and move swiftly), especially when compared to the great designs of previous efforts.” Brett Gallman, Oh, the Horror!
“Shot in the Philippines, (where life is cheap!), the movie has decent atmosphere and makes good use of its locations. It’s well-paced, features some solid action and more than respectable cinematography. This one works better than it really should, it is, if nothing else, quite entertaining.” Ian Jane, Rock! Shock! Pop!
” …a film so amateurish and imbecilic it makes the likes of RatMan and Patrick Lives Again look like veritable masterpieces. It should be acknowledged that, while this is dreadful stuff, it is at least better than Zombie Flesh Eaters 2, which stands as possibly one of the most boring films ever made. This is partly down to Fragasso, who directs with more vim than Bruno Mattei could ever manage.” Matt Blake, The Wild Eye
Cast and characters:
Jeff Stryker [as Chuck Peyton] … Chuck
Candice Daly as Jenny
Massimo Vanni [as Alex McBride] as David
Jim Gaines as Dan
Don Wilson as Tommy
Adrianne Josephs as Louise
Jim Moss as Mad
Nick Nicholson as Rod
James Sampson as The Voodoo Priest [uncredited]
Fausto Lombardi as Head Scientist [uncredited]
Alberto Dell’Acqua as Scientist who shoots The Voodoo Priest (uncredited]
Ottaviano Dell’Acqua as 3rd Scientist (uncredited]
Claudio Fragasso as The Narrator (voice) (uncredited]
Romano Puppo as Zombie Leader
Luciano Pigozzi [ Alan Collins] as Doctor
Maurizio Cerantola as The Balladeer (voice) [uncredited]
Subscriptions boxes have become a big part of the nerd community as a by product of the internet age, but you already know this. Boxes have been around for some time and while there have been a few made specifically for horror fans, they have come with mixed results. So it was only a matter […]
Pirating movies is not only illegal but takes a toll on independent horror filmmakers who pour their hearts and wallets into projects they love. In his latest short, producer Daniel Wood uses some humor to address the terrors of the torrent by adding a little supernatural twist to the ever-growing problem. When Wood made Attack […]
Zombie Cheerleading Camp is a 2007 American comedy horror feature film written, produced, edited and directed by Jon Fabris. The JAF Productions movie stars Jamie Anne Brown, Chris White and Nicole Lewis.
When teenage boys stumble upon a nearby cheerleading camp, they think their wildest dreams have come true. What could be better than a group of beautiful girls who are bored, stuck in the woods, and ready to party? But something mysterious is changing the cheerleaders, one by one…
“This is the debut directorial from writer / director Jon Fabris who seems to have gotten a lot of his talent and shots from the small town of Raleigh, North Carolina… most of the actors are first timers or come from small resume backgrounds… however the film as a whole works for what it is. Part horror / part comedy Zombie Cheerleader Camp is a fun independent release.” Horror News
“When the highlight of your movie is a ridiculous two-minute fist-fight between a man and a non-animated, stuffed squirrel you may want to rethink your plans. Completionist genre fans with absolutely no other choices might want to give this a try. Everybody else should steer clear.” More Brains
“I was shocked at how well directed the film proved to be and I’ve noticed this trend in the last few indie horrors I’ve reviewed. Whatever these movies lack in polish and scriptwriting, they make up for in using what they have on hand to entertain. The comedy is acceptable with a few laugh out loud scenes…” Brett H, Oh, the Horror!
Cast and characters:
Jamie Anne Brown … Ashley
Chris White … Cotton
Nicole Lewis … Britney
Jason Greene … Randy
Brandy Blackmon … Nikki
Daniel Check … Mikey
Terry Chandeline Nicole Westfall … Coach Sullivan
Micah Shane Ballinger … Tyler
Jaqueline Martini … Mindy
Elyse Rodriguez … Bailey
Abby MacDonald [as Abby McFadyen] … Kitty
Katie Pate … Kelly
Pudge Phillips … Ed
Brittany Forbes … Charlotte
Lindsey Kruichak … Rebel Cheerleader
The original title was Zombie Cheerleader Camp
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How far would you go for love? Horror author Jeremy Wagner answers that in his new book, Rabid Heart (Riverdale Avenue Books). After the Necro-Rabies virus breaks out, turning most of the world into zombies, Rhonda Driscoll discovers her once thought dead fiancéis actually alive (or more accurately, one of the living dead). Rabid Heart follows Rhonda as she takes off with her lover, fearing her military father will kill him; on their road trip to start a new life, Rhonda will come face to face with thrills, romance, and terror.
Some of you may already know Wagner as the lyricist/guitarist of Chicago death metal act Broken Hope; beyond his music, however, Wagner has an impressive writing career. His Best-Selling novel, The Armageddon Chord, earned a Hiram Award, a first-round ballot Stoker Award nomination, and has received critical acclaim from a number of publications. Wagner also has an impressive resume of published short stories across many anthologies.
His passion for writing and horror all began at a young age. “It all started when I was like five years old,” Wagner says. “I began by writing adaptations of monster/dinosaur and horror movies I saw on TV and writing my own creepy stories. My love for horror began at that age—kindergarten. I loved Halloween and all that creepiness that the holiday celebrated. From there it all evolved into horror movies, horror magazines, horror comics, and horror books. My mom has always been a big reader, and she always read dark fiction [such as] mystery and horror novels; so I grew up with those books around, and I began reading at an adult level in grade school. When Stephen King and Peter Straub appeared in the ‘70s, I devoured them. All of these things made me a ‘horror fan-kid’—I am still that kid!”
Like many writers, Wagner’s work with Rabid Heart came as a surprise; what was meant to be a short story eventually grew into something more. As he continued to write, the creative cogs in his mind began moving, further developing the story and shaping his post-apocalyptic zombie road trip. “Several years back I was offered to sell a zombie romance story to St. Martin’s Press for an anthology called, ‘Hungry For Your Love.’ Rabid Heart started there… but it wouldn’t stop. IT WAS TURNING INTO A NOVEL!”
He continues, “Before I knew it, I had written 30,000 words and had to stop because my story for the anthology had to be no more than 5K words or something. So, I stopped in my tracks, and I wrote a completely different story for the anthology titled, ‘Romance Ain’t Dead.’ After that, my other novel, The Armageddon Chord, was sold to another publisher and I got busy promoting that and then started ANOTHER new novel. A year after [The Armageddon Chord] dropped, I returned to focus on Rabid Heart, finished the first draft and then reworked it numerous times until I was happy with it. I was lured back to finish this novel because I couldn’t get it out of my mind. I like it a lot. It got under my skin in a way that Cormac McCarthy’s The Road got under my skin. My stories aren’t happy with happy endings, and that’s how I like my fiction. And that’s why I was so into Rabid Heart—it’s a legit and deep story full of darkness and the hope of getting through that darkness.”
Over the past few years horror has begun to take on more spotlight in mainstream attention; in particular, the zombie genre saw a massive boom. From The Walking Dead to Zombieland and a hundred and one other stories about the living dead, everyone was feeling the zombie fever. As someone who loves zombie stories, Wagner states, “Zombies have always been more horrifying than anything in cinema for me. [George A. Romero] had it down man. The Walking Dead has it down.”
Wagner also recognizes that there are a lot of these kinds of stories, and in that acknowledgment, he has set out to portray a different spin with Rabid Heart. “I’m such a huge fan of zombie films and apocalyptic films/concepts. I’m quite aware that the zombie genre is saturated with zombie movies, zombie books, zombie comics, zombie toys, and more. Being original is paramount for me. To that end, I feel Rabid Heart stands apart because it’s a bit DEEPER of a story than most. That’s not a diss on anyone else; it’s just that on TV and whatnot, zombie stories happen fast, with injections of horror and action that gloss over the meat of the story. I wanted to tell the story of Rhonda Driscoll in reality—the reality of pure terror and PTSD one would suffer in this fucked up, apocalyptic scenario. Not to mention how one would deal with a loved one who became infected and homicidal.”
“With that, I liken the setting of Rabid Heart to something akin to Day of the Dead meets 28 Days Later meets The Road. Pure horror on [the] one hand, survival in a bleak and lethal world on the other hand—with a protagonist desperately clinging to [an] element of LOVE. [It’s a] ‘love’ which really is already lost in one respect, but, it gives her purpose to live. Know what I mean? I don’t write romance novels, but I am a romantic and wove that into this tale of terror and world brought to its knees by the Necro-Rabies virus; I also tried to make the ‘virus’ that sets off the pandemic to be based in reality as much as possible. I referenced Richard Preston’s, ‘The Hot Zone,’ for much of that.”
Between being in a band and writing, one might assume Wagner is a pretty busy guy. But regarding his workload, he’s determined to focus on his passions. He shares, “I’ve always been able to balance music and writing. The writing of books, editing, revising, blasting out short-fiction all usually takes place every morning, while the music and band stuff all takes place at night. Right now I’m in a great place as I’m focused and devoted to only writing new books and getting other new books ready to publish next year. As far as Broken Hope, I’m taking a break for a bit from that. I’ll do [Broken Hope] stuff when the time is right. No matter what, writing books and music are my two main passions in this life, and I make it all work.”
Photo Credit: Stephanie Cabral
When it comes to effective horror writing, Wagner believes in tapping into emotion. While Rabid Heart contains plenty of gruesome and intense moments, at the core of the story is fear and love; two feelings that are prominent in everyone’s lives, pushed to unthinkable extremes in Wagner’s novel. Through Rhonda, he presents a character with real drive and purpose, hoping to protect all she has left in a world gone to hell.
Speaking to writing horror, he says, “Someone said prostitution is the oldest profession and I say that HORROR is the oldest story. Whether it’s a cave painting, early people telling stories around a campfire, the Bible, [or] Charles Dickens, horror is at the heart of the great tales. Effective horror starts with characters that readers care about; readers want the best for the character—I put mine through hell, and therein is another component to effective horror. Using gore, horror, and terror as [proper] ‘tools’, along with tension and suspense and fear, makes for effective horror. Tell a human story and mess it up. A real protagonist like Rhonda Driscoll in Rabid Heart really fucks up and makes mistakes. That’s sobering. Tragedy. Write about things that terrify you. And remember, the more we know in a horror story, the less frightening it becomes.”
In a world full of zombie stories, Rabid Heart provides a unique spin on the genre. Romance is a fascinating element to find within horror, and Wagner does an excellent job balancing emotion with action. Through the book’s protagonist, we witness someone go through numerous dangers, all for the sake of trying to find hope. For those looking for a different kind of zombie story that offers something a little more than what we’re used to, you can’t go wrong with Rabid Heart.
It brings Wagner a great amount of joy to see the praise for Rabid Heart (especially since some of that praise comes from some folks he looks up to). “First off,” Wagner says when discussing the rewards of writing the book, “actually finishing the book and getting it published with my new publisher was immensely rewarding. Then there [are] the blurbs for Rabid Heart and [about] me by some of my favorite writers like Peter Blauner, Alma Katsu, Peter Straub, etc.That’s fucking huge for me. I don’t take that lightly! And when it comes to the overall writing process, let me tell you, I LOVE IT! I absolutely love the craft of writing; I love the editing, the revising, making the story even better, the research, watching a new tale take on a life of its own. This is why I do what I do; I love [writing] to death and with great passion. Everyone should find that in life.”
I Sell the Dead is a 2008 American comedy horror feature film about grave-robbing written, edited and directed by Irish-born Glenn McQuaid (V/H/S). The Glass Eye Pix movie stars Dominic Monaghan, Ron Perlman, Larry Fessenden and Angus Scrimm.
18th century justice has finally caught up with grave robbers Arthur Blake and Willie Grimes. With the spectre of the guillotine looming over him, young Blake confides in visiting clergyman Father Duffy, recounting fifteen years of adventure in the resurrection trade.
Blake’s tale leads from humble beginnings as a young boy stealing trinkets from corpses, to a partnership with seasoned ghoul Willie Grimes as they hunt creatures unwilling to accept their place in the ground…
“I Sell the Dead is not only one of the few horror comedies to really work, but also a fittingly tongue in cheek Hammer tribute. McQuaid shows himself to be a genuine genre talent, and it is rewarding indeed to see a director really put effort into recreating, rather than simply referencing some of the classics of old.” James Mudge, Beyond Hollywood.com
“The gothic horror film has become somewhat of a lost art, so it’s nice to see someone trying to resurrect it (so to speak). And while McQuaid pays homage to the classic movies with his shrouded moors and grave-robbers, the movie simply falls short.” Mike Long, DVD Sleuth
“If I have one criticism of the film it’s that I wished the two, when tussling with the undead, had a few more action scenes, but I assume that budget limitations killed the chances of this happening. This tale of buddy body-snatching is warm and witty and deserves high praise…” Darren Amner, Eye for Film
“As it stands, this delightful bit of gallows humor has its high points. It also suffers from occasional stumbles. Still, in a genre that sees more misfires than masterworks, I Sell the Dead is an excellent minor example of the latter. While it could have possibly been better, fans know it could be a whole helluva lot worse.” Bill Gibron, Pop Matters
“As far as the horror elements of the story are concerned they are centered around some of the stronger comedic moments of the film and do provide the bigger laughs. And there were some great laugh loud moments […] But I Sell the Dead is not without strong horror scenes and a good amount of blood letting.” Andrew Mack, Screen Anarchy
“You’ve basically got it all here. There’s genuine scares and genuine laughs. The makeup work on the monsters is quite impressive and frightening, and there’s even some bits of zombie gore to enjoy. The script is smart and clever, and filled with intentional anachronisms that only serve to make the film more unique than it already is.” B-Sol, The Vault of Horror
“First-time director Glenn McQuaid is especially enthusiastic about the duo’s rivals (a Burton-esque family of rogues dubbed “The House of Murphy”), but the editing rushes through the best bits and trips up Arthur and Willie’s partnership. Supporting hobbit turned Lost axiom Monaghan is too reserved anyway, and even Fessenden holds back from hork-in-yer-top-hat unsavoriness.” Nicolas Rapold, The Village Voice