Thursday, December 09, 2010

Have Yourself a Trashy Little Xmas: Day 6/The Deadcoats Are Coming!

It does not take a Masters degree in popular culture to proclaim the obvious: Zombies are Hot. And not in the way that glittery, Volvo-driving vampires and iron-pumping werewolves are considered hot. I mean in a global, strike-while-the-iron-is sense.

Flawed as it may have been, AMC's The Walking Dead garnered plenty of eyeballs and will be back with a second season. My Netflix queue is clogged with so many zombie flicks I can barely keep up and more big-screen adaptations are on the way. There's even a zombie-centric zine and no less an outlet than "the gray lady" published an essay about life in a zombie world by Chuck Klosterman.

So you'd probably think that with this creative tsunami sweeping Zombie Nation that we'd have run out of ways to deal with the brain-eating, shuffling undead amongst us. Wrong!

When ZOMBIE TERRORS: VOL. 1, AN ANTHOLOGY OF THE UNDEAD (Asylum Press) landed in my hands the other day my reasons for excitement were largely due to seeing good pal David Zuzelo's story "Ascension of the Blind Dead" come to life via art by Billy George. Zuzelo has been a Eurotrash mentor for years and as a fellow card-carrying HorrorDad we have been known to share everything from trashy movie tips and recipes to tweets about NFL games and stories from the harried trenches of childcare.

But as I sat down that evening and hungrily consumed the entire volume in one sitting, I discovered that Z's tale of Templars and monstrous opponents was but one of the many goodies the volume had to offer.

Like most compilations of this type – be they music, comic, cinematic or prose – the contributions are hit or miss. Some tales go for the more obvious brain-splattering, flesh-ripping gross-out though there's certainly nothing wrong with that. I'm always up for a heaping helping of four-color splatter (especially when it evokes a favorite scene from Lucio Fulci's THE BEYOND).

Other tales take a more artistic or existential approach, dropping the zombies or survivors into mad landscapes where destruction is the only way to survive, no matter what side they're on. "Arena" by Asylum publisher Frank Forte certainly stands out among these tales and one could easily imagine the character Nightslice appearing in the pages of Heavy Metal or spinning off into a title of her (its?) own.

But my own particular taste in horror tends to follow a classically trashy course that begins with EC Comics, drifts through the terrors of Night Gallery and ends up in the aisles of broken-down cinemas screening dubbed imports and domestic splatter. So it's no surprise that my favorite tales involved culinary adventures gone wrong ("Feast"), nature run amok ("Creature Converts"), a Serling-esque tale that made my skin crawl ("The Jiang Shi"), Lovecraftian horrors ("Prey") and a tale of love and betrayal that would be right at home in the pages of EC, Creepy, or Eerie ("Allison").

As for Zuzelo and George's contribution? I'm admittedly biased but loved that the tale paid homage to the genre's less well-known Eurotrash roots and stood out as a truly unique entry in an anthology brimming with trashy goodness.

Also highlighting the volume are some fantastic pin-ups, especially from the mind of David Hartman. His two-page NIGHT OF THE CREEPS homage tickled me to no end and I'm determined to have it hang on the wall of my office some day.

For the zombie/comic/gore lover on your holiday list, ZOMBIE TERRORS VOL. 1 comes with our highest recommendation!

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