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How to survive an outbreak of undead

Living DeadThe following is a list of survival tips that should be helpful during the next outbreak of t-virus, rage, radioactive mutant plague, whatever.

You’ve been watching the news and the inexorable advance of the undead as the outbreak approaches your location. At first it was just an unusual diversion on TV – something frightening, but safe because it was happening far away from you and the authorities were doing something about it.

But then things get more serious as the talking heads begin to look scared. The national guard is called out, but they’re overwhelmed. One by one, checkpoints are overrun as infection spreads. What was once a small quarantine zone on the news has suddenly grown much larger. Whole towns are abandoned as the rate of infection grows exponentially and the undead spread at a terrifying rate.

At about the same time that news feeds start to disappear, leaving anchors staring blankly at their monitors, you begin to realize that roadblocks and national guardsmen aren’t going to be enough.

Your local TV station preempts national coverage of the epidemic to announce that the undead have appeared in the streets of your own city. Somebody cranks up the tornado siren over by the fire station and the TV goes to static. Now you’re sitting in your living room staring at a screen full of snow listening to that mournful wail of the sirens in the distance, and it feels like the end of the world.

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— Yes, this is a reprint of a SpookyBlue feature I wrote a long time ago. But it’s still important information to keep handy in case the deaders start to get a little bitey.

Because chainsaws are stupid *

Haunted House (Gottleib)How many times have you trapsed blindly through a corporate haunted house whose theme was a collection of gore, guts, blood, evil clowns, more gore, and some lunatic running around with a chainless chainsaw?

It’s the same thing year after year. Pick out the cluster of tweener girls that are huddled together like a pack of hamsters in a box full of rattle snakes, follow them around, torment them mercilessly. Meantime, your guide, if there is one, leads you from one uninspired room to the next.

Here is the “bloody operation gone wrong”. Next is the “Freddy Krueger” room. Next is an Alien chomping on a space marine. Wait…what?

There was a time…1974, I think, when your friendly neighborhood haunted house was populated by Frankenstein, the Wolf Man, and their pet bats. Sure, some folks raised an eyebrow, but times were changing, people were loosening up a little, and if two middle-aged men wanted to live together, then who really cared? But back to the subject. Whole flocks of ghosts roamed the dark, cobwebbed halls where black cats and witches danced around cauldrons and maybe you’d even see The Creature From The Black Lagoon because you just never knew where that guy was going to pop out from. There were hollow-eyed skeletons and white-faced zombies, and graveyards, and all manner of unseen spirits. Sadly, focus moved away from the scare, instead concentrating on the shock.

“Haunted” has been replaced with “horror”, and there’s a distinct difference. Horror denotes “an overwhelming and painful feeling caused by something frightfully shocking”[reference.com]. Haunted simply means “inhabited or frequented by ghosts”[reference.com]. Sort of the difference between a midnight stroll through a cemetery and being electrocuted by a malfunctioning automatic toothbrush.

I’m not saying that there isn’t a place for a good shock, but the movie’s getting old. This fixation on grossing out the audience has taken over. Violence replaced the gothic. It’s much more difficult to evok and maintain a sense of apprehension or full blown dread than to simply target a knot of hamster girls and scream “Rrraaaaahhrr!!”

Being shocked isn’t being scared. You may fear the shock that you know is coming, but after the shock, everything’s over. That is, until the next one. And the next. After a while it just all runs together.

I want to experience a haunting. I want chills to run up and down my spine. I want to have time to appreciate a really well done prop. You should experience a haunted house. The only example I can think of is Disney’s Haunted Mansion. It plays with you. It doesn’t throw you down on the bed without so much as a kiss and scream “Rrrraaaahhhrr” in your face.

There are usually two or possibly three big “horror hotels” or “industrial nightmares” in any given medium-sized city, and they’re often run by the same company. The props are generally static, usually horrific, and every couple of rooms are sparsely peppered with actors earning minimum wage. A quick shock, then herd the sheep through the chute to the next blood-drenched room. <yawn>

Is it any wonder why home, carport, basement, and yard haunts are so popular? Their focus is on the scare, the creep factor. Not the dollar. Sure, they’ll still torment that cluster of hamster girls because they make it so easy, and because it’s fun. And without so much “blood – raar! – blood – raar!”.

“Did you see that ghost floating in the window? How’d they do that?”
“What’s behind that tombstone, daddy?”
“It’s a werewolf, son. We used to see those all the time back in 1974.”
“Where’d they all go?”
“I think they were hunted down by clowns or something, but they’re making a comeback.”
“I’m glad.”
“Me too.”

* The phrase “because chainsaws are stupid” was first launched into the Haunter’s Lexicon by the horrible folks at Castle Blood probably back before that one time I saw them at Ironstock and bought a bumper sticker that’s still stuck to my red toolbox out in the shop.

Politicians, like diapers, have to be changed frequently – and for the very same reason

Here is another group of old magazine ads for … stuff from … some time back. If you’ve missed previous installments on this subject, you’ll enjoy these. ::1:: ::2:: ::3:: ::4::
If by “Banquet” you mean nude drunken civil disturbance. Can you find the third woman in this picture? We wonder if she shares the glazed stare of the copper-haired beauty on the left. “Sweet elixer of life, I hunger for you.”
I don’t know what this an advertisement for, but judging by the number of phallic symbols, I’d guess it’s either lipstick or corn dogs.
In a park somewhere in central Florida, a pod of Disney animatronic robots attempts to blend in with the local flora after bludgeoning three imagineers and slipping out an unlocked gate. It wasn’t hard to find them as they all stood perfectly still, one boy slowly pivoting around to swing at the softball hanging from a tree branch.
Nothing brings out the hearty flavor of molten cheeze whiz and corrugated pig shavings like the zippy taste of Hunt’s Tomato Catsup. But we draw the line at whatever that disturbing green thing is.
In the future of 1965, your house will come equipped with its own built-in weather radar/anti-commie warning receiver on the roof. Thin sheets of plastic will have the insulating properties of six inches of fiberglass as well as the tensil strength of steel. Friendly sentient snowmen will roam the countryside.

What is a “Gonk” anyway?

Dawn of the Dead SoundtrackOnly 29 more shopping days until Halloween, kids!

Looking for the perfect gift for your favorite haunter, or for your pet zombie who lives in the shed out in the garden? We recommend Dawn of the Dead – The Unreleased Incidental Music Soundtrack.

This is currently at the top of my list of favorite (if not oddest) records, but as much as I admire Mr. Romero, I have to believe that the genius behind this supremely creepy and unusual soundtrack for Dawn of the Dead was rooted more in economics than cinematic brilliance.

The best and most recognizable moments of this CD come from the De Wolf, Rouge and Hudson sound libraries, an unremarkable collection of dusty music commonly used as background fodder for radio and television ad spots of the time. Purchasing the rights to a few pieces of “incidental music” from the collection was a less expensive alternative to having new music written for DOTD.  Not counting original tracks performed by Goblin, that is.  Romero’s choices were so…peculiar, yet they still fit.

My favorite tracks are The Gonk, of course, and the Mall Montage consisting of We are the Champions, Ragtime Razzmataz, Tango Tango, and Fugarock. They’re parodies of themselves and are so cartoonishly over the top that you can’t help but enjoy them in their grim context. Was Romero a genius? Lucky? Or were his tastes so avocado and burnt orange that The Gonk‘s destiny was self-assured?

I’m not a hater, really. I love George, Land of the Dead notwithstanding. And I love this soundtrack. Great noise to supplement endless repeats of Monster Mash at your Halloween party.

By the way, a Gonk is a sort-of furry doll thing with a sordid history.

Dawn of the Dead – The Unreleased Incidental Music complete track list…

1. The Gonk H. Chappell
2. Cosmogony Part 1 P. Lemel
3. Sinestre E Towren
4. ‘Cause I’m a Man The Pretty Things (P. Reno)
5. Figment S. Park
6. Mask of Death J. Trombey
7. Scarey 1 D. Scott
8. Scarey 2 D. Scott
9. Dark Earth J. Trombey
10. Mall Montage Scene (We Are The Champions), Ragtime Razzamataz, Tango Tango, Fugarock
R. Tilsley, H. Chappell, B. Stoller, D. Scott
11. Barrarge J. Trombey
12. Desert De Glace P. Arvay
13. Sun High S. Park
14. Dramaturgy P. Lemel

Where can you get your own? Well, try here, or here.