Fantastic Fest: second wave highlights

Two weeks ago, Fantastic Fest announced its second wave of films.  Having taken the time to digest a few of these, I’ve decided which flicks I plan to see.  As a service to you (and because I don’t have much else to blog about) I present my personal highlights from Fantastic Fest’s second wave.  Let the celebration of the horrific, gritty, hilarious, and just plain weird commence!

(dir. Michael Spierig & Peter Spierig, 2009, USA)
The year is 2019. A mysterious plague has swept over the earth, transforming the majority of the world’s population into vampires. Humans are now an endangered, second-class species – forced into hiding as they are hunted and farmed for vampire consumption to the brink of extinction.  It’s all up to Edward Dalton, a vampire researcher who refuses to feed on human blood, to perfect a blood substitute that might sustain vampires and spare the few remaining humans.

(dir. Jake West, 2009, UK)
North American Premiere
Kicked out of the house and recently served with divorce papers, Vince (Stephen Graham, SNATCH) is at a low point in his life.  In an effort to rally their best mate’s spirits, his crew rents a charter bus for a country retreat of heavy drinking and womanizing.  The only problem is that the women in their idyllic country hideaway have been infested with the zombie plague, eaten every man in town and are now hungry for seconds.

Hard Revenge, Milly: Bloody Battle
Regional Premiere
(dir. Takanori Tsujimoto, 2009, Japan)
In a near-future post-apocalyptic bombed-out shell of Japan, lawless gangs roam the outskirts of the city, raping and pillaging with impunity.  Milly, left for dead by a particularly vicious gang, literally picks up the (her) pieces, bonds them with some truly inventive bio-weaponry and takes bloody revenge, one lowlife at a time.

Human Centipede
North American Premiere
(dir. Tom Six, 2009, Netherlands/UK)
Dr. Heiter (Dieter Laser), a leering, sepulchral surgeon from Germany whose specialty is separating Siamese twins, evolves his craft by sewing together living beings together at the “mucous-cutaneous zone” (guess) in order to create Siamese triplets with a single digestive system.

World Premiere
(dir. The Mo Brothers, 2009, Indonesia)
After just embarking on a roadtrip, six friends stop to pick up a girl who has just been robbed and return her to her home at the end of an isolated forest.   Their act of kindness ends up being repaid by a night of unspeakable horror and butchery.

Smash Cut
(dir. Lee Demarbre, 2009, Canada)
U.S. Premiere
When his latest film is panned for its sub-par effects work, veteran grindhouse filmmaker Able Whitman (David Hess, LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, HOUSE ON THE EDGE OF THE PARK) is struck with inspiration: the most realistic gore effects will come from actual
dismemberment and corpses!

Survival of the Dead
U.S. Premiere
(dir. George A. Romero, 2009, US/Canada)
George Romero returns to the Alamo Drafthouse cinema for the U.S. premiere of his latest zombie opus.  The action centers on two warring clans of Plum Island; one wants to kill every zombie on the island, the other tries to protect their undead family members until a cure for “zombieism” is found.

Sweet Karma
US Premiere
(dir. Andrew Thomas Hunt, 2009, Canada)
When her sister disappears without a trace – the apparent victim in a Russian prostitution ring in Toronto – a shy, beautiful, mute woman sets off on a bloody, intercontinental
trail of revenge.

Van Diemen’s Land
U.S. Premiere
(dir. Jonathan Auf Der Heide, 2009, Australia)
When their guard is killed en route to prison in 19th-century Tasmania, eight prisoners escape through the dense rain forest.  Their poorly-conceived escape plans crumble, food runs out and the gang of prisoners engages in power struggles, psychological games and cannibalism in order to survive.  Based on the true-life story of Australian prisoner Alexander Pearce.

Regional Premiere
(Rob Grant, 2009, Canada)When a strange flulike virus starts killing people and turning them into flesh-eating zombies, an unlikely group of guys band together, grab an SUV and head for the woods to wait out the epidemic.  Shot in 16mm on a micro-budget of $25,000, YESTERDAY transcends its resources, filling every scene with great practical effects, car crashes, ballistics and, most importantly, cracklingly sharp dramatic and comedic performances by every single principal cast member.

(dir. Ruben Fleischer, 2009, US)
Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) is a big wuss – but when you’re afraid of being eaten by zombies, fear can keep you alive.  Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson) is an AK-totin’, zombie-slayin’ badass whose single determination is to get the last Twinkie on earth.
So there you have it, everybody.  Looks like it’s gonna be a busy week! 


Joe Hill joins World Horror Austin as Guest of Honor!

For immediate Release


Lee Thomas
Nate Southard


Austin – August 14: The World Horror Convention 2011 is proud to announce the addition of Award Winning and Bestselling author Joe Hill to the lineup of special author guests. The international conference of horror’s premier talents and their fans will take place in Austin, Texas from April 28th through May 1st, 2011.

“Our goal with this convention is to highlight the brightest new stars of dark fiction, the writers and artists who are helping the genre grow,” said convention chair Nate Southard.  “Joe Hill’s name is at the top of that list.”
Hill burst onto the literary scene with his first book, the limited edition collection 20th Century Ghosts, which showcased fourteen of his short stories and won the Bram Stoker Award for Best Fiction Collection, in addition to the British Fantasy Award for Best Collection and Best Short Story for “Best New Horror.” William Morrow/HarperCollins published Hill’s first novel, Heart-Shaped Box, in 2007. The novel went on to reach number 8 on the New York Times bestseller list and garnered high critical praise. Hill is also the author of Locke & Key, a successful graphic novel series published by IDW Publishing.  His next novel, Horns, is due February 2010 from William Morrow.

Hill joins award-winning authors Sarah Langan, Joe R. Lansdale, and Brian Keene on the WHC 2011 guest list. Additional Guests of Honor will be announced in the months to come. A website featuring convention and hotel information, registration, and more is live at

The World Horror Convention is an annual gathering of professionals in the horror industry: publishers, authors, artists, musicians, filmmakers, dealers and, of course, horror fans. WHC serves as both an industry insider’s networking event and a chance for fans of the genre to get together, meet some of the creative talents in the field, and generally spend a weekend celebrating All Things Scary.

Visit our guests at:
Joe Hill:
Sarah Langan:
Joe R. Lansdale:
Brian Keene:

For more information please contact Nate Southard at or Lee Thomas at

Twilight fans: officially more defensive than zombie fans

So this weekend I attended Armadillo Con, Austin’s sci-fi and fantasy convention.  I had a great time hanging out with cool cats like Lee Thomas, Joe McKinney, Matt Cardin, and John Picacio, but even more importantly, I got to witness my first official Twilight fan freak out.

It happened during, or all things, the zombie panel.  This hour was by far the most fun I’ve ever had watching a panel, as it mostly involved Lee and the moderator, A. Lee Martinez, discussing the limitations and problems of the zombie sub-genre while the audience told them to go to hell because zombies fucking rule and they’re both a bunch of lame motherfuckers anyway.  Okay, so I’m paraphrasing.  It was still fun.  Near the end of the panel, after I’d spent 45 minutes wondering if one of the zombie fans planned to storm the panel with a knife or something, the topic of Twilight somehow came up.  Martinez proceeded to try to make a point about the wave of fandom that has followed Twilight‘s rise.  His attempt sparked the following exchange.

Martinez: It’s funny, because before Twilight, I’d never heard of something like a female nerd.

Furious Female Voice from Back of the Room: Bella is not a nerd!!!

Martinez: Um….

So there you have it, ladies and gents.  In a room crammed full of angry zombie fans, a pissed of Twilight fan reigned supreme on the Scary Scale.  Egad.

A setback and a step forward

My debut novel was supposed to be published by the end of this year.  A contract was signed back in January or February.  Sadly, due to a change of focus from the publisher, all rights to my novel have been returned.

Amazingly, it doesn’t feel like a big deal.

Sure, I’m a litle disappointed.  I think that’s natural.  The choice to remove the book from the production schedule was mine, though.  I was offered the chance to stay on and declined it.  No hard feelings, just business.

I’ll be shopping that novel again later this week.

In more positive news, I got a peek at the contract for a novel I co-wrote with a friend.  A lot of folks know about the book, and maybe they’ve been wondering why I don’t mention it much.  Well, that’s because I don’t like to talk about things that aren’t contracted.  Now, we’re a step closer to this book becoming a reality, and that comforts me.

Keep your fingers crossed, ladies and gents.

Sight Seeing: A Dangerous Game

Gather ’round, ladies and gents, boys and girls.  I’d like to tell you a story of bravery and daring do.  A tale of courage and determination in the face of certain death, where the guy gets the girl and all is set right in the universe.

Sadly, I don’t have such a story, so you have to settle for hearing about how I hurt myself sight seeing.

See, last week Shawna and I took a short trip to Washington, DC.  Shawna had never seen our nation’s capital, and I’d only been once on a seventh grade field trip.  Naturally, Shawna wanted to see the sights, and so did I.  So we took the Metro into town (and I spent a lot of time thinking to myself I think I killed a supermutant in Fallout 3 right over there), and soon we were in line for the National Archives.

Little did I know this would be the most relaxing part of the day.

After we left the Archives, we walked up to the Capitol and snapped a few pictures.  Then, we started down the mall.  After brief stops in the Natural History and American History Museums, we made out way to the Washington Monument for more picture-snapping.  From there it was on to the Vietnam Memorial, the Lincoln Memorial, Korean Memorial, and three different attempts to locate a path to the Jefferson Memorial (we eventually decided to just snap pictures from a bridge).

But we weren’t done yet.  Not by a long shot.  After cooling down at the World War II Memorial, we made the walk up to the White House and then over to Old Ebbitt Grill for lunch.  After eating a great chicken sandwich, I stood to continue our trip.

That’s when I noticed my knee.

There was a slight ache in my left knee.  Nothing major, and certainly not as painful as my feet.  As we made our way to the Air and Space Museum, however, it slowly grew worse.  I’m not sure if Shawna noticed my more frequent stops to take pictures, but I’m glad she didn’t object.

By the time we made our way through the American Art Museum (which is so amazing I wish I’d had another day to check it out), I was hobbling back to the Metro station.  That night, I could barely walk steps, and sleeping was an exercise in futility.  My knee felt like it was on fire, and if I placed my hand on it while bending and flexing, I could feel all kinds of scraping and popping.

After flying home, I had to sit down and take breaks while leaving the airport.  As painful as it was, it was also embarrassing.  So few people injure themselves by walking.  It figures that I’d be one of the lucky few.

Three days and half a tube of Icy Hot later, I’m feeling much better.  The knee barely hurts at all today.  Who knows, maybe it’ll all go back to normal. 

Until the next time I go sight seeing.

Ah, who am I kidding.  Next time, I’m just gonna buy a goddamn postcard.