Friday, 31 December 2010

It's official. Sam won Christmas.

Not that it's a competition, but if it was, Sam won Christmas this year. His gift to me was a bespoke  blood-red Evil Dead print, pictured below. As he said, it should offset the girly flower mural in our hallway.

You can see more of Sam's annoyingly good work at, including a similar and equally brilliant typographic Smiths poster.

Friday, 17 December 2010

Photo Diary : What's that coming over the hill, is it a Santa?

Spent the day wandering around London with Sam and Jen and bumped into this. Luckily I haven't been naughty this year.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Video Nasty #40 : The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue AKA Let Sleeping Corpses Lie

Synopsis: After Edna's brother-in-law is killed by a previously dead tramp Edna's druggie sister Katie is the prime suspect. Only Edna and George, her unlikely amateur-misogynist companion, can stop the zombie uprising and prove Katie's innocence.

As a premature-climax to my languishing affair with the video nasty list last week I attended Day of the Undead, Leicester's finest zombie film festival. The event opened with The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue, a rare chance to see this classic but undeservedly lesser seen zombie film on the big screen (Props to Zombie Ed and the team at Terror4fun for organising the awesome event, even the Danny Dyer film didn't put too much of a downer on the day). I have seen the film once before in equally rare circumstances, with Matt the night before his wedding.

The film is driven by its characters, blunt embodiments of the key socio-political movements of '74, to the point of caricature. The protaganist George is a long haired post-hippy environmentalist with a healthy disdain for the man. The Inspector is the man, a proto-fascist authoritarian who hates fun, happiness and the progressive youth. 'You're all the same the lot of you' he spits at George 'with your long hair and faggot clothes. Drugs, sex, every sort of filth! '. Whilst George is convinced that the government's agricultural experiments are causing the dead to rise and kill, the Inspector prefers his equally outlandish explanation for the murders - George and Edna are devil worshipers. These two are the stars of the film and I could watch George antagonising the increasingly manic and righteous Inspector all day.

The cause of the zombie uprising, man playing god, still feels incredibly fresh, probably because its now the defacto explanation for the undead bastards. The details themselves are slightly preposterous, but no more than being bitten by the hybrid off-spring of a monkey raped by plague rats. The government are experimenting with a device that attacks insects' nervous systems and turns them into manic cannibals, effectively wiping out all vermin within a five mile radius. Unfortunately, corpses degraded nervous systems are similar to ants, hence the walking homicidal undead. In a inspired move the logic is extended to baby's undeveloped nervous systems, giving us zombie babies 30 years before the Dawn of the Dead remake.

The zombies themselves are brilliant, and due to their limited number they're given enough screen time to become distinct characters. True to Romero's vision they stumble and crawl at sub-tortoise speeds, always catching the slightly retarded scream-rather-than-run hares. They're also (according to Zombie Ed) the first zombies to much on intestines in full colour, surely a film milestone. The film's high point for gore and low point for decency has to be the infamous involuntary breast reduction, a scene that feels oddly beneath the film, added as a a concession for the gore hounds (IMDB trivia tells us that the director 'cast an actress known for having a flat chest'. If this is what you're known for you're doing this acting thing wrong).

It may be the portentous circumstances (to me, a sad film geek, a zombie film festival is a life milestone) but The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue has to be one of my favourite horror films. Unlike most efforts in the genre, it isn't really a zombie film, it's a film that happens to have zombies in it. Following Romero's lead director Jorge Grau has made a film with great acting, effects, laughs, violence, intelligence and, albeit unsubtle, subtext.

And the ending couldn't be anymore satisfying.