Sunday, January 2, 2011

Editorial: the NecroKeeper's Xmas Haul

So, what did Santa bring you for Xmas?

Xmas is a brilliant time for zomfans: aside from the ever-increasing list of great zombie publications available to give and receive, there's a veritable cryptful of zombie-related products out there to pick and choose from at this special time of year. In this special NecroScope Editorial, we give you a peek at all the Yuletide goodies received by our very own Keeper of the Dead and his family...

Here, the NecroKeeper models a couple of awesome t-shirts purchased from Redbubble (by Mrs NecroKeeper).

While Zombie Jr. scored these great PJ's.

And MiniZom looks ready to take on the horde in this appropriately-themed romper suit (thanks, Miss Alice!).

Zombie Jr. also scored this great Cuponk zombie game (from Santa). The idea is to bounce a ball (painted to look like an eyeball) into the cup via a specific pattern of bounces, as dictated by a card selected. Surprisingly addictive.

A zombie feltie for the NecroKeeper, courtesy of one of our regular customers at Dymocks Southland (thanks, Liz!).
And what Xmas would be complete without calendars for the following year? Here's an official Max Brooks Zombie Survival Guide 2011 desk calendar (cheers, Tate!), and a brilliant Fold-Your-Own-Zombie 'zombigami' wall calendar (once again, thanks to the awesome Miss Alice!).
All in all, a bumper haul for the NecroFamily, and hopefully a few cool zombie gift ideas for you all for Xmas 2011.

Review: Home

Dir. Cameron McCulloch, Starring Jamie McDowell, 2010

Deep in the Australian bush, a lone young woman emerges periodically from her rickety shack to thin the hordes of encroaching zombies. But is she truly alone? And will the dark secret she keeps ultimately be the cause of her undoing?

Home is a short film, written and directed by Cameron McCulloch, and shot on a budget of just AU$2,000, which took out first prize at the Made in Melbourne film festival last month. Zombies have always lent themselves to low-budget film-making, but rarely are such films so polished and gripping as Home. The simple plot is taut and engrossing, despite dealing with themes familiar to most zomfans, and McDowell's dialogue-free performance as the sole living character is excellent. The backdrop of the inhospitable Australian bush is used to great effect, with some stunning cinematography, minimal and effective use of music, and understated SFX similarly underscoring the 'mundane' horror of the piece.

Home is an absolute gem among zombie shorts, and one I'd urge zomfans to track down and see if possible. The film will be doing the rounds of various festivals in the near future, and of course NecroScope will keep our readers posted on forthcoming screenings. In the meantime, to whet your appetites, here's the official Home trailer.

Review: Pariah

Bob Fingerman, 2010, Tor

A global plague has vanquished mankind. In NYC, eight million zombies pack the streets, shoulder to shoulder, waiting for their next meal of human flesh. The residents of an upper east-side apartment block have banded together to survive, but - trapped in the safety of their fortress - soon find themselves starving and at one anothers' throats. And then one day a girl appears outside - a girl who can walk unmolested among the living dead...

Truly good zomlit - as with most great apocalyptic fiction - is never really about zombies; it's about people, and how people react to a crisis. This being the case, there's really no reason why each and every apocalyptic zombie novel shouldn't be fresh, unique and engrossing, as there is literally no limit to the number of different human characters an author can throw together to produce vastly differing behaviour and reactions, either to the zombies or to each other. Pariah is certainly a novel that ably demonstrates this truism, the central characters including some aging Jews, a couple of aggressive jocks, a younger white married couple, a black locksmith, the local 'cat lady' type, a sensitive artist, and the rather odd teenaged girl who enters their lives. Tensions within the group are inflamed by ongoing grudges and rivalries, lust, jealousy and extreme boredom, while the surreal threat of the zombies surrounding the building is counterbalanced by the utterly mundane and more immediate threat of starvation and dehydration, since the residents are unable to leave the building to forage. Fingerman's prose is pure poetry, and right from the outset the narrative simmers with a mix of escalating tension and dark observational humour, leaving the reader in little doubt that things cannot possibly end well here.

Pariah is one of the most enjoyable and engaging reads - in any genre - I've had in a year packed with enjoyable and engaging reads. This is a zombie novel one can safely recommend to literary pundits who wouldn't pick up a zombie novel under any circumstances. Brilliant, brilliant stuff, and a novel that all zomlit fans absolutely must read.