Diary of the Dead (2008): Movie Review

Where will you be when the world ends? When it comes to apocalyptic movies, the beginning has always been my favorite part. Sure, its fun to see the aftermath, what the world looks like when the dust settles, but what I find absolutely intriguing is what happens in those defining moments when normalcy gets flipped on its head. This is a huge reason why I’ve always enjoyed George A. Romero’s films. Night of the Living Dead and Dawn of the Dead are (among other things) about what happens in the moment when the world ends. Day of the Dead and Land of the Dead are films about how people are doing after-the-fact. Good movies, but they’re missing that special punch. As we discuss Diary of the Dead, let that defining question sink in, that is, What will you do when the world ends?  Continue Reading

PLANET of the DEAD continues…

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Happy Friday, folks! It is my extreme pleasure and utmost excitement to officially announce the next chapter in the Planet of the Dead series, WAR for the PLANET of the DEAD. And to unofficially announce the upcoming titles of later sequels in the series. In 2019, ESCAPE from the PLANET of the DEAD is planned to release. And in 2020, VOYAGE to the PLANET of the DEAD. Those are the planned books, thus far. Could there be more? Time will tell. For the foreseeable future, I have stories and characters planned out for the listed titles above. WAR for the PLANET of the DEAD is scheduled to release October 9th 2018 on Amazon Kindle, paperback and audiobook shortly thereafter. You read right, next month!

Huge thanks to my friend Travis Eck for designing all these awesome original covers. And my new editor, Chad A. Clark. And of course to the man Duncan Ralston for spearheading Shadow Work Publishing and taking on all these flesh eating tales.

But that is not just it… WAR for the PLANET of the DEAD is currently available for preorder on Amazon Kindle. And as per norm, I’ve marked down the preorder to $0.99. Why? Because I know I’m no big shot writer, I just like telling stories. Why not make my books super affordable? Right? As for this story, I had a LOT of fun writing this one. PLANET of the DEAD was my homage to George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead (1968). It had a somber tone throughout all the different character stories. WAR for the PLANET of the DEAD is less somber and more action oriented. This is my homage to THE greatest zombie movie ever made, Romero’s DAWN of the DEAD (1978). Several parts in this book were inspired by Dawn with the cutthroat in your face brutality. The PLANET of the DEAD is truly at WAR in this new chapter in the series.

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Following the events of Planet of the Dead, survivors of the expanding outbreak take shelter in homes and bunkers and apartment complexes. Across the world, armed police and military struggle to maintain safety. Tensions mount as the worst imaginable comes to pass when nuclear weapons are used on civilian populations overrun with the living dead. Soon afterward, a coup mounts between warring factions of Generals, ruining the best-laid plans of two AWOL soldiers, a cybernetically enhanced veteran, and a scientist, forcing them to fight both humans and flesh-eating hordes of undead as they seek refuge from a planet plagued by war.

Preorder for just $0.99!!!

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Thanks for reading!

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“This is the end of the world as we know it…”

 

The Hobbsburg Horror

Available on eBook, paperback, and audiobook

The Hobbsburg Horror by [Flowers, Thomas S.]

From the author of FEAST and REINHEIT comes a collection of 9 dark fiction stories inspired by the works of H.P. Lovecraft.

They Came to Gordium an elderly man is haunted by the crimes of his past.

Immolate a widower detective struggles to solve the connection between a series of eerily similar suicides.

Sunnydale Wolves a romantic stop at a popular overlook turns deadly. 

The Hobbsburg Horror is a Lovecraftian tale of a weary reporter pulled into an otherworldly story of murder and a lodge with reports of strange colors at night. 

Hobo a well-to-do housewife’s picture-perfect life is shattered by a home invasion. 

Are you hungry, dear? down on his luck divorcee Jacob Miller, after consuming a free pizza is possessed by an internal parasite. 

From the Sea is a tale of an amateur sailor and his wife who are besieged by creatures that come from the sea during a storm. 

Neon Fortune Teller Madam Drabardi reads the future of paranoid businessman Ronald Murray who believes his wife is cheating on him, but infidelity is not all Drabardi sees.

Nostos Katherine Adonis journeyed light years to escape the nightmares of her past, but some ghosts can never be escaped.

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The Last Hellfighter

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“…extraordinarily enthralling novel which weaves from contemporaneous society into the future and back to the early 20th century American culture and the Great War” -The Haunted Reading Room.

“…an unique take on the Dracula legend with some great historical aspects to it” -Amazon Reviewer. 

In the year 2044, reporters from the Public Relations Ministry gather at the home of Benjamin Harker, the last surviving member of the Harlem Hellfighters. At the age of 144, he is the oldest recorded man alive.

Hidden among them, Clyde Bruner is looking for a different kind of story. Across the United States, despite the Great Walls and patrol drones built to keep America secure, something has found its way in. And now towns are vanishing during the night. Entire populations, gone. Only to return after the sun sets, changed, unholy, and lethal. And whatever this evil is, its spreading west.

According to a bedtime story Bruner’s grandfather told him when he was a boy, Benjamin Harker has seen this before. He’s faced this scourge. Fought this evil. Survived them. Killed them. From the trenches of the Great War to the jungles of Vietnam to the sands of Iraq, Harker will search his past to save our future. But as each city light extinguishes across the country, is there no time left to stop what’s coming?

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PLANET TERROR (2007)

One of the best things about the Zompoc sub-genre is how widely diverse it is. You can go old school with some classic black and white voodoo hexes, such as White ZombieI Walked with a Zombie, or The Plague of the Zombies, to name a few. There are the comedies, such as Shaun of the Dead or Zombieland or Return of the Living Dead. And there are the more serious minded zombie movies such as the works of the late great George A. Romero and all those wonderfully directed Italian zombie flicks (a good number of which will be reviewed during this year’s Fright Fest). But then you’ve got those Zompocs that are a bit harder to classify. Take for instance today’s morsel, PLANET TERROR. Upon my first screening it was hard to understand where this movie was coming from and where it was taking me. I mean, was it satire? Not completely. Was it serious? Not entirely. Was it expressionist, like those gritty foreign-made horror flicks? Not absolutely. Well, for crying out loud, what precisely is PLANET TERROR? 

Before we begin, here’s an IMDb snapshot of the film:

“After an experimental bio-weapon is released, turning thousands into zombie-like creatures, it’s up to a rag-tag group of survivors to stop the infected and those behind its release.”

While we all can love and respect IMDb for providing once again a very in-depth analysis, that’s not entirely the plot of the film. The first part is spot on, there’s an opening with a shady looking group of gas mask wearing military folk lead by none other than Bruce Willis (playing the part of Lt. Muldoon) meeting secretly with another group of shady looking folk of the middle-eastern variety known in the film as Abby (played by Naveen Andrews). There’s an exchange that’s being made and like any good horror story, said exchange does not go as planned and the toxic chemical is released.

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Also like any good horror story, there’s a gang of characters, each with their own history and who somehow or another get tossed together and must figure out a way to survive. Shortly following the military-toxic gas release, we get to meet some of those characters. The main protagonist is Sherry Darling (played by the babelicious Rose McGowan), a stripper who wants more out of life. Her dream? To become to the world’s best comedian. Seriously, no joke. And then we have Doctors William (played by Josh Brolin) and Dakota Block (Marley Shelton) whose seemingly happy American lives are not so surprisingly more than they seem. Dakota has a secret. She wants to escape. But there are some…complications. First, hubby Brolin has a healthy dose of paranoia that his beautiful wife is up to no good. Secondly, the zombie apocalypse is about to turn their little Texas hospital into a circus show of exploding boils, bite marks, and severed limbs. And lastly, Dakota’s secret lover, ex-girlfriend Tammy, breaks down in front of The Bone Shack and is eventually eaten…you know, zombie apocalypse and all.

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There are other characters who add their own variety of flavor. There’s Wray (played by Freddy Rodríguez) an ex-gang mechanic who is pretty much the predominate badass until Sherry Darling takes his place. There’s J.T. Hague, the proprietor of said Bone Shake and also holds the secret recipe to the best damn barbecue sauce. There’s also Sheriff Hague (played by Michael Biehn) and his team of deputies, including the incredibly Tom Savini playing the part of Deputy Tolo. And there are more, of course. This is a Rodríguez-Tarantino joint film after all. 

As we’re being introduced to the characters, random zombie attacks begin spreading throughout this little sleepy Texas hamlet. Eventually spilling over into the life’s of our heroes. Said attack ends up forcing Wray to wreak his truck and Sherry getting her leg torn off. I should mention here, PLANET TERROR does not lack in gore, in fact its one of its redeeming qualities if you ask me. Following the wreak, Wray ends up getting locked up in the local jail cause of his past history. Sherry ends up in the hospital, one leg short. And the world around them seems to be imploding. Doctor Brolin discovers enough evidence of his wife’s planned marital abandonment to take action, injecting her with her own anesthesia tools to keep her…pacified while he deals with whatever is going on with his hospital.

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Like any good zombie movie, things quickly escalate. Soon, the entire hospital is in utter chaos. The patients are turning into flesh eating manics. The dead are coming back to life, so to speak, and attacking the living. In the ensuing battle, Wray arrives, freshly escaped from jail, and fashions a wooden peg leg for Sherry and tells her to suck to it, more or less regarding her currently one-leg short predicament. As Wray seems to be not only an ex-gang member, but also a freaking ninja, he shortly secures their escape and a band of survivors make their way to…that’s right, to the Bone Shack. There are “missing reel” effects throughout the duration of the movie which add to the effect that we’re watching a classic grindhouse picture, and so certain scenes end up jumping ahead or “flash forwarding.” Personally, I’m a big fan of jump scenes, so long as they are done right. Chronologically trudging forward can hinder the pace of  a movie, especially a horror movie. But toss in a few flash forwards and you can keep that momentum going.

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Needless to say, the survivors end up getting captured by the military who are still up to their no-good tricks. Our heroes hash out a plan to escape. Not everyone does. But hey, its a horror movie. We should be so lucky anyone escaped. You’ll have to watch the movie to find out though, I’m not going to tell you. Sorry.

As far as reviewing this beast of a film, I’m finding it difficult to list anything I didn’t like. And for those you know my taste for zombie movies may or may not find that surprising. On one hand, I’m what you call a Romero-purist. I like my serious slow paced zombie movies that follow the guidelines George A. Romero had established in his Dead Trilogy (Night, Dawn, Day). I’m not a huge zombie-comedy fan. But…there are exemptions. If done correctly, with purpose so to speak, I can get behind zombie-comedies. Return of the Living Dead (1985) is one of my favorite zombie movies. Gloriously over the top gore and packing one of the hardest nihilistic punches ever seen on film. As for PLANET TERROR, its not entirely comedic. It certainly doesn’t take itself too seriously. Fundamentally, its just a fun film catering to those with certain appetites when it comes to horror.

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PLANET TERROR is like someone had tossed in Dawn of the Dead, 70’s grindhouse, 80’s splatter, Japanese body-horror, and blended it on high with a dash of kung-fu. The fact that director Rodríguez gave Sherry a machine-gun prosthetic leg gives a sampling of what we’re getting here. Mayhem. End of the world gore and violence and death. But not necessarily nihilistic. There’s an end “future” scene that has a PLANET OF THE APES kinda vibe to it as humanity turns back the clock and goes nomadic in order to survive in this new undead world. My advice, you need to add this now classic zombie flick to your list of must watches for Octoberween

My rating: 4.5 out of 5

NOW AVAILABLE: The Last Hellfighter

As of midnight, August 10th, 2018, The Last Hellfighter has officially become available for purchase in both eBook and paperback formats. The audiobook is currently in production with the very awesome Rick Gregory narrating. This latest novel is an adventure through history, as one young man fights to save his future, an older man must face his past. Future and past are united in this tale that sweeps from a not-too-distant peek into what America could become in the year 2044 (certainly within our lifetimes) and then we’re taken on a journey to 1917 Harlem New York, on the eve when America enters The Great War.

The Last Hellfighter was no doubt one of the heaviest researched books I’ve done to date–and it was well worth the work. Not only do I find that period of history fascinating, I also like the idea of being able to take readers to a different time and place, to show them something they’ve never seen before. If I had to sum up the book, I’d say it was as if Dracula and Salem’s Lot had a baby and the baby happen to be Cable from the X-Men who went into the past to slay vampires. Okay…maybe not that dramatic! There are definite hints of Dracula and Salem’s Lot within the pages of The Last Hellfighter. There are splashes of 30 Days of Night too, but in the end, this is an original story. One that I certainly hope is entertaining and thrilling to read.

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“THE LAST HELLFIGHTER is an extraordinarily enthralling novel with a blow-me-out-of-the-water reader’s hook, set in the Port of Jerusalem, Maine (a beginning that rendered me speechless), THE LAST HELLFIGHTER wings us forward to the ugly and dismaying political climate of 2044 in the United States. The central figure is Benjamin Harker, native of Harlem, black WWI soldier, later Oklahoma homesteader–and vampire-fighter. I love this character (and James Reese Europe, jazz musician and WWI Lieutenant). I love and admire them, for their character [and] integrity,” –The Haunted Reading Room

“The Last Hellfighter is a piece of art, hand-stitched across a fabric that is rich in history and complexity. It has a narrative scope that is impressive. The pacing of the story is spot on, with hardly a moment that I didn’t feel compelled to drive on. And Flowers has crafted a monster that is impressive and frightening. And underneath it all, he has told a human story” –Chad A. Clark, author of the Behind Our Walls trilogy

The Last Hellfighter will be on sale for $0.99 (eBook) over the weekend.

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In the year 2044, reporters from the Public Relations Ministry gather at the home of Benjamin Harker, the last surviving member of the Harlem Hellfighters. At the age of 144, he is the oldest recorded man alive. Hidden among them, Clyde Bruner is looking for a different kind of story. Across the United States, despite the Great Walls and patrol drones built to keep America secure, something has found its way in. And now towns are vanishing during the night. Entire populations, gone. Only to return after the sun sets, changed, unholy, and lethal. And whatever this evil is, its spreading west.

According to a bedtime story Bruner’s grandfather told him when he was a boy, Benjamin Harker has seen this before. He’s faced this scourge. Fought this evil. Survived them. Killed them. From the trenches of the Great War to the jungles of Vietnam to the sands of Iraq, Harker will search his past to save our future.

But as each city light extinguishes across the country, is there no time left to stop what’s coming?

Slasher Friday: Jason Goes to Hell (1993)

When I think slasher, my mind goes to the 1980s. Its the obvious pick of the litter, so to speak. The 1980s was certainly the Golden Era of the slasher film. But the 1990s had some damn good slasher movies too! What sets the ’90s apart from every other decade has to do with its brand or style of horror. The classic silent pictures of the early 1910s had its own with German expressionism and tales of old legends come true.

The 1930s and 40s had Universal Monsters, such as: DraculaFrankensteinThe MummyThe Wolf ManThe Mad GhoulThe Leopard ManCat People, etc. etc styled in this new world reconstructing itself from the maiming machines of the Great War. And then we had the “invaders” of the ’50s with its outlandish sci-fi horror-esk Cold War flicks, like The Day The Earth Stood StillInvasion of the Body SnatchersInvaders from MarsThem!The BlobCreature from the Black LagoonPlan 9 From Outer Space, etc. etc.

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And then in the ’60s movies drew downward into psychological freights, with PsychoNight of the Living DeadRosemary’s BabyBlack SundayCarnival of SoulsWhatever Happened to Baby JaneX: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes, and so on and so on. And of course, who could forget the ’70s? The decade of Savage Cinema with terrifying flicks, such as The ExorcistDawn of the DeadAlienThe Texas Chain Saw MassacreJawsCarrieThe OmenShivers, The Brood, Deathdream, and so much more. And of course moving into the big hair and excess-excess-excess of the 1980s, with films like: The Evil DeadRe-AnimatorNightmare of Elm StreetThe ThingThe FlyReturn of the Living DeadThe StuffHellraiserPoltergeistAmerican Werewolf in LondonVideodromeCreepshow, and so many more, not to mention the birth of the Friday the 13th series and the modern slasher.

But in the 90s the monsters, in retrospect, seem to be more internalized, almost spiritual or more supernatural in nature than in decades past. Before moving on to our movie in review, lets examine for a moment the occultioris sensus of some of these spiritual-supernatural horror flicks, which would include: In The Mouth of MadnessCandymanJacob’s Ladder,  Wes Craven’s New NightmareNightbreedThe Sixth SenseRavenousSleepy HollowSilence of the LambsBaby BloodLawnmower ManCronosThe People Under the StairsMiseryCubeRinguThe Serpent and the RainbowEvent Horizon, etc. etc. And I know I’ve probably missed some, but still… Take a look! For the most part, pooling from a majority of movies, we can tell that horror withdrew from the overindulgence of gore and mayhem and, much like in the ’60s with the addition of supernaturalism, drew inward becoming a more spiritual-supernatural psychological thriller.

This brings us to JASON GOES TO HELL…

Strange as it may sound, JASON GOES TO HELL is my favorite Friday the 13th movie. While made in the 1990s, the film still retains a lot of the classic signatures of the slasher film and yet still retaining its originality. Taking a peek at the Rot-o-Meter, it feels as if I’m fandom is a silent minority. In fact, there’s a good many who outright loath this movie. Why? Because its not the same as the other Friday the 13th movies. JASON GOES TO HELL is different, not in the same way Halloween III is different Jason is in the movie. Instead of his usual form, the story follows Jason in his more demonic state. Blown to shit by the FBI or Special Task Force or whoever they are, Jason is reduced to his core essence, a freaking looking demon worm.

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Not that anyone is the wiser. The worm hides in Jason’s oversized black heart and transfers to coroner #1’s (played by Richard Gant) body in one of the most awesome gruesome scenes in the movie. Jason has no body, so he must reside in a host. It’s an interesting take on a classic slasher character…now turned parasite. JASON GOES TO HELL is still a slasher movie, but its almost more than that, its heavily supernatural, internalized, damn near spiritual and equally monstrous. To continue living, he must jump from body to body until he can find a blood relative in order to regain his former glorious form as a hockey masked machete wielding maniac. 

These “rules” are accepted story plots from glimpses of prized horror movie relics such as the Necronomicon, a little easter egg head nod to The Evil Dead. There’s at least one fella who knows the score. Duke (played fantastically by Steven Williams) is an ole western styled bounty hunter who seems to know a lot about Jason and the Voorhees lot. According to Duke, Jason had a sister, who in turn had a daughter, and the daughter had a daughter. But uncle Jason has no love lost, I mean technically he’s not even human anymore, that part of him died a long time ago. All that remains in the worm and the worm needs a blood relative host in order to regain its preferred corporeal form.

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Along the way Steven Freeman (played by John D. LeMay) and Jessica Kimble (played by Kari Keegan) do everything they can to stop Jason for good…basically by trying to stay away from him. But Jason, hockey mask or no, is an unstoppable killing machine. There are a lot of really good gore scenes, but my favorite has to be the Diner Massacre. The supposed name ought to give you a clue as to how wonderful that particular scene is…in a nutshell, four deaths, deep fyer drowning, jaw crushed in, arm torn off, impalement, enough gun shots and blood splatter to wet the staunchest of horror nerds dreams, oh…and one skull crushed. And that’s just one scene!

But why was JASON GOES TO HELL so hated? The movie sounds totally badass, right? 

When our beloved classics cross over into a new era, they likewise transform into the cerebral appetites of said decade. Consider Wes Craven’s New Nightmare, which was not heralded as a good Nightmare on Elm Street… Why? Because its not a Nightmare on Elm Street movie. The ’80s are…as they say, game over man! Done! Gone. Hasta la vista baby! When long running series’ transition into a new decade, the judgement and critique of the film becomes…well, a tad bit unfair. When we hear Nightmare on Elm Street or Friday the 13th we expect what we had back in the 1980s, but its not the 1980s anymore. If we were to be reasonably rational, we must critique said movie for the era in which it was made… Of course, a really-really-really good critique will look at both, if the movie is from a running series. Does the movie honor the decade past while ushering in a new take in a new era? While JASON GOES TO HELL has received some rather harsh criticism, my opinion on the matter is, yes, JASON GOES TO HELL does honor the past while taking a step in a new direction.

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JASON GOES TO HELL had some drawbacks, sure. Fans were hoping for what they’ve come to love, teen-slasher-gore. But that’s simply not what this movie was about. If we can push away from the table of Great Expectations, we’d see the amazingness this Final Friday brings to the table. Much like New Nightmare was for Freddy. I know plenty who hate that movie, simply because it wasn’t like the others.  Yes, they weren’t the slashers we remembered from the ’80s. But hey, the ’80s are over! In JASON GOES TO HELL, the action was well paced. The acting was a hell of a lot better than in some of the past Friday the 13th’s. The cast was solid. There was humor, specifically in all the mentioned Easter Eggs in the Voorhees House. The Uncut edition was chock full of gore and practical effects. It was brutal when it needed to be and it was supernatural when it needed to be. And the soundtrack was also very memorable. Overall, I thought JASON GOES TO HELL was a fantastic addition to the franchise, taking the ’90s spiritual-supernaturalism back into the gore-fest mayhem of the ’80s, or vise-versa…? Oh, whatever, you know what I’m getting at!

My Rating: 4.5/5