The Horrorshow! The Horrorshow! Our Top 10 Retro Reasons to Attend Days of the Dead Atlanta 2017!

Posted on: Feb 3rd, 2017 By:

Days of the Dead will be celebrating its sixth spooktacular year at Sheraton Hotel Atlanta this Friday-Sunday Feb. 3-5. Our favorite part as always about this horror media convention is that it celebrates not just contemporary cinema but retro classics. In other words, there’s plenty to please both the gore-fan and the Famous Monsters Kid. Here are 10 of our top things to do this year.

blair_21) LINDA BLAIR. Duck and cover before she spits pea soup on you. Seriously, though, the star of THE EXORCIST (1973), SAVAGE STREETS (1984) and ROLLER BOOGIE (1979) deserves our utmost Retroexploitation respect, and we hear she’s sweet as pumpkin pie.

2) STRANGER THINGS. Look for a quartet of young stars from this spooky sci-fi back-to-the-‘80s hit Netflix drama including Noah Schnapp, Caleb McLaughlin, Gaten Matarazzo and Finn Wolfhard.  Get your photos signed and catch them onstage for a panel at 1 p.m. on Saturday.

3) SID HAIG AND BILL MOSELEY. Returning once more are two of the sweetest sinister guys in show businesses. Sid Haig, one of those rare B-movie icons and character actors whose career spans the decades from Jack Hill’s blaxploitation films of the 1970s to the chaotic, creepy Captain Spaulding. Hear his reflections on an amazing career Sunday at noon. Quite frankly you and Bill Moseley scared the sh-t out of us in THE DEVIL’s REJECTS (2005), and since we’re not easily scared, for that we salute you both!

4) DOUG BRADLEY. The one and only real Pinhead returns to show you such sights, interpret your dreams and tempt you with autographs.  Hear his tales of terror on the set during an hour onstage Saturday at 2 p.m.

5) PJ SOLES & LYNN LOWRY. Forget their remake replacements. These ladies won our horror hearts as two of 70s/80s swellest scream queens for their turns in the original HALLOWEEN (1978) and THE CRAZIES (1973), but to us, PJ will always be Riff Randell eating pizza with the Ramones and toppling Principal Togar in one of our favorite cult movies ever, Roger Corman‘s unparalleled ROCK N ROLL HIGH SCHOOL (1979).

john_russo6) JOHN RUSSO wrote the screenplay for THE NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968) and appeared in it as a zombie. Need we say more?! An undead living legend.

7) THREE FACES OF JASON. Kane Hodder, Steve Dash and C.J. Graham all donned the legendary hockey mask. Hear them recall their times of terror Friday at 8 p.m. and catch them all weekend in the autograph area. Seriously though, these are some sweet dudes and you don’t have to be afraid if they blow you a kiss. Well, maybe.

8) PROFESSOR MORTE, JAMES BICKERT, MADELINE BRUMBY & THE CASKET CREATURES. Another swell thing about Days of the Dead is how it’s embraced Atlanta’s local horror talent including four of our favorite ATLRetro Kool Kats of all time. Catch punk/horror local favorites the Casket Creatures in concert Friday night at 11 pm (Kool Kat interview here). Infamous director James Bickert (Kool Kat here) leads a panel on the making of FRANKENSTEIN CREATED BIKERS (2016) with cast and crew members including Atlanta’s favorite hold-no-prisoners fightin’ Scream Queen Madeline Brumby (Kool Kat here) Saturday at 4 p.m., and the movie screens at Midnight. The Silver Scream Spookshow’s Ghost Host with the Most Professor Morte, aka ATLHorror Renaissance man Shane Morton (Kool Kat here), will be scaring it up in the exhibit area with creepy creations for sale and at The Days of the Dead ‘80s Slasher Prom Saturday night at 11 p.m.

16388401_10102129650654939_171823735463528198_n9) SCARE-TASTIC SHOPPING.  Horror cons are the perfect place to stock up on both macabre movie memorabilia, cult classics on DVD and creepy clothing, costumes and accessories.

10) FRIGHTENING FILMS & MORE! The nonstop action includes a 48-hour film festival featuring new and classic indie horror shorts (both US and international), animation, features and con exclusives. Plus costume contests, SFX how-to panels, Haunt Acting 101, and much more!

Days of the Dead main con hours are Fri. Feb. 3 from 5 to 11 p.m.; Sat. Feb. 4 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; and Sun. Feb. 7 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., with parties and films going late into the night on Friday and Saturday. Kids under 10 and military free. For more info, click visit the Days of the Dead Atlanta official website here.

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Kool Kat of the Week: Stan Bowman, a.k.a. “Stan the Zombie” Gets Reanimated in a Starring Role with STAN THE ZOMBIE: THE MOVIE, While Staggering Through Atlanta’s Undead Horror Scene Devouring the Locals One Rotting Piece of Flesh at a Time

Posted on: Jun 25th, 2015 By:

by Melanie Crewstan the zombie promo
Managing Editor

Stan Bowman, a.k.a. “Stan the Zombie”, has become a local legend within Atlanta’s homegrown bloody fangtastic horror scene, staggering his way through cons and events donning rotting flesh while reeking of the undead. He’s been dressing up in bloody-gore-filled costumes since he was a teen and has made dining on the flesh of locals his go-to thing. So much so, that in 2010, he trade-marked “Stan the Zombie” and has been cast as such in several film and television productions, including his first taste of the biz, Giles Shepherd’s ACE THE ZOMBIE: THE MOTION PICTURE (2012). “Stan the Zombie” has also made appearances on the talk-show SCARY TIMES in 2014, and has had roles in AJ Caruso’s horror short, Z.14.12 (2014); a comedy TV series, ZOMBIE SOCKS in 2014; Jason Lumberjack Johnson’s video short, SUPERMANN TREE SERVICE (2015) and more! “Stan the Zombie” will even have his own stand-alone film, STAN THE ZOMBIE: THE MOVIE, which is currently in pre-production and will take viewers down his deep dark path of his hellishly undead past. For a sneak peek teaser and fleshy taste of the upcoming film, grab a copy of the comic book, STAN THE ZOMBIE!

Although Bowman is largely known as one of Atlanta’s favorite reanimated human corpses, he’s been busy working on non-zombie productions as a professionally trained actor as well. Stan_the_Zombie_comic_jpgPresently, he’s playing a role in Keith Bailey’s TEST GROUP, which is currently filming. He’s also played “Dr. Acula” in Giles Shepherd’s comedy-horror film ATLANTA VAMPIRE MOVIE (post-production); “Mastermind” in the fan web-series UNCANNY X-MEN in 2012; and plays the role of “Detective Mike Jordan” in Naz Pankey’s action-horror film I THOUGHT YOU WERE A NICE MAN (post-production). So, if you haven’t had the chance to experience “Stan the Zombie” and/or Stan Bowman the actor, you’ll want to haunt on down to one of Atlanta’s many conventions and horror events for a fleshy taste of the undead!

ATLRetro caught up with Stan Bowman for a quick interview about the history of “Stan the Zombie”; George Romero; his immersion into Atlanta’ horror film scene; and his current film shenanigans! And while you’re takin’ a peek at our little Q&A with Bowman, listen to his interview with Project IRadio’s “Nerdvanahere, as well as an interview with “Stan the Zombie” and John Farris of Dead, Buried and Back at Comic Con 2013 here.

ATLRetro: “Stan the Zombie” causes quite a rotting ruckus across Atlanta! Can you tell our readers a little bit about your undead back story?

Stan Bowman: Well, I’ve been a zombie fan since I was a kid, a big George Romero fan. I started dressing up like a zombie when I was teenager for

Project IRadio

Project IRadio

Halloween. Then in 2007, a friend brought me to Dragon Con. I saw a lot of people dressed up in costume, so I came back the next day in zombie, and was a hit! Every year I would try something and work on making it better. In 2010 I decided to coin the name “Stan the Zombie.”

What brought you to the deep dark underbelly of Atlanta’s monstrous film community and what keeps you coming back for more?

Pure luck? Nah, just going out there and doing my thing with one thing leading to another. After being discovered at Dragon Con for ACE THE ZOMBIE, some SCAD students tracked me down and asked me to be in a short movie with them. It just kept growing from there.

We’ve read that your “Stan the Zombie” character is highly inspired by George Romero films. Which would you say had the most influence and why?

Yes, like I mentioned, George Romero inspired me. It was the original NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, the black and white one. My sister and I used to beg our parents to let us stay up late and watch it. I can’t count how many times I’ve watched it!

Ace_The_Zombie_Movie_Poster_%20Clown_BLOGCan you tell our readers a little about your first film, 2010’s ACE THE ZOMBIE, directed by Giles Shepherd, and how you landed the role? Any behind-the-scenes shenanigans you’d like to share?

Well, the cameraman approached me at Dragon Con and asked if I wanted to be in a movie. Of course, I agreed. When I showed up on set in Milledgeville GA, no one recognized me without makeup. So they cast me as a ZCF Doctor. The second time I was on set, the AD asked me to come in my zombie makeup. When I showed up, everyone recognized me. Ha! It was a fun crew to work with, but with long days and nights on set. We had to be a little crazy to make it though. Ha!

Which other films, directors or actors have inspired you the most? If you could choose your favorite old-school director (besides Romero), who would it be and why?

If you’re referring to horror and zombie films, I would say Wes Craven, John Carpenter, Sam Raimi and Alfred Hitchcock. My favorite would be Wes Craven, because I’m also a big fan of THE NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET movies.

Atlanta’s independent horror film scene seems to be thriving!  What do you think draws the crowds to the lower budget independent films? And why?

Stan Bowman - The man behind the rotting flesh.

Stan Bowman – The man behind the rotting flesh.

I guess I would have to say the original stories, the hard work everyone puts in. And THE WALKING DEAD being filmed here doesn’t hurt. Atlanta has a lot of horror film fans. We took over being the zombie capital of the US from Seattle several years ago.

You’ve recently branched out beyond the rotting undead and have played some non-zombie roles, including comedy-horror flick, ATLANTA VAMPIRE MOVIE, also directed by Giles Shepherd, where you play “Dr. Acula.” Without giving too much away, what can you tell us about this production, which is set to release in October 2015?

It’s basically a spoof of BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA, but it’s very original in its own right. Everyone put a lot of time and energy into it, and we had an excellent writer. As far as a release date? Not sure, it’s still in post-production right now.

We hear there’s a STAN THE ZOMBIE: THE MOVIE in the making. Can you tell us a little about that and the comic which came out in May 2014?

Well, a Hollywood producer recommended that I come out with a comic book to add more legitimacy to my character. So I contacted a friend of mine, Zak Vaudo, and we began working on it. Zak was already half-way through the script for the movie, so we just borrowed scenes from it for the book. And Alison Cundiff did the illustrations for the comic.

You do a lot of guest appearances at horror events across town. Can you tell us a little about those? Which is your favorite annual event and why?

That’s a tough one, because I like them all; Dragon Con and Walker Stalker, of course. But the smaller ones like Days of the Dead, Twisted Fears and now Wizard World are nice, too. My favorite is still Dragon Con. It’s crowded, but that’s where STZ got his start.

i-thought-you-were-a-nice-man-posterYour first speaking role without makeup was in the web-series, the UNCANNY X-MEN in 2012, where you played “Mastermind.” How did that experience differ from your usual zombified performances?

It was a little unnerving. When you’re in makeup, it’s like a mask. But, without it and having to hear your own voice, well, that’s why I started working with a coach afterwards. Ha! But I liked it. It was a challenge and I look forward to more. It’s fun! But I’ll keep doing zombie as long has my body holds out. Ha!

You’ve also played a few detective roles, including “Detective Mike Jordan” in I THOUGHT YOU WERE A NICE MAN, which is in post-production. Can you fill our readers in a bit on this role?

Well, I’m under a nondisclosure agreement, so I can’t say too much. I play a homicide detective protecting his fiancé’s daughter. Sadly, can’t say more. But, you’ll have to see it when it comes out!

If you could put together a monster movie with all your favorite actors/actresses (alive or not), who would you choose and why?

Hmm. Arnold Schwarzenegger (Having “The Terminator” is always cool!), Kevin Spacey (I love his acting and dry sense of humor.), Kathy Bates (A great actress and she can play the creepy roles.), Jennifer Love Hewitt (Because she’s hot!), Debby Ryan (Because she’s hot and I met her..lol), Sid Haig (He can scare you too death. Ha!). I can go on and on, but those are some who come to mind.

So, what’s next for Stan Bowman? For “Stan the Zombie”?

Well, we are presently in the budget/script editing/shot list phase of STAN THE ZOMBIE: THE MOVIE. Putting together a feature isn’t as easy as people think. It’s a lot of work. We are hoping to start shooting before the end of the year, but that’s a long shot. You never know. In the mean time, I have more non-zombie roles on the docket, and hope to show that I’m more than just another pretty zombie. Ha!

Can you tell our readers something you’d like folks to know that they don’t know already?Stan the zombie headshot doctor (2)

Let’s see, I have always been a big time apocalyptic movie fan, and post-civilization (PLANET OF THE APES, OMEGA MAN, etc). I’m a big history buff and love to explore other cultures. And, I’m actually a pretty private person when I’m not doing conventions or on set.

What question do you wish somebody would ask you and what’s the answer?

Ok, I’ve been asked most through the years, but no one asked me if I could live anywhere I wanted, where would it be? Answer: In the country with three big dogs, off the grid and completely self-sufficient. Can you tell I’m an apocalyptic movie fan? Ha!

All photos courtesy of Stan Bowman and used with permission.

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Walker Stalker Convention Shambles Into Atlanta To Eat Your Brains!

Posted on: Oct 30th, 2013 By:

By Anthony Taylor
Contributing Writer

Fans of AMC’s THE WALKING DEAD, rejoice; most of the show’s cast descends on Atlanta’s Westin Peachtree Plaza Hotel and America’s Mart this weekend for the Walker Stalker Convention. The highly rated show based on Robert Kirkman’s award winning comic book series of the same name lenses just down the road in Senoia, Georgia.

Cast members Andrew Lincoln, who plays series hero Rick Grimes, and Norman Reedus – breakout post-apocalyptic heartthrob Daryl Dixon – will appear to meet fans, sign autographs and pose for photos (the last two for an additional fee). Also appearing are THE WALKING DEAD producer and makeup effects supervisor Greg Nicotero, and series stars Laurie Holden, Lauren Cohan, Melissa McBride, Danai Gurira, Steven Yuen, Chandler Riggs, Sonequa Martin-Green, Sarah Wayne Callies, Scott Wilson, Irone Singleton, Chad L. Coleman and Emily Kinney, who is also performing in concert Saturday night. Other cast members are also scheduled to appear, see the website for a full listing.

In addition, actors from BREAKING BAD, GREMLINS, FRIDAY THE 13TH and NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, and makeup effects artists from the Syfy Channel’s FACE OFF will be on hand. The convention ALSO features a large vendor’s room as well as panels and talks given by the guests, and evening activities including a Zombie Bash Party Saturday night.

Founded by Eric Nordhoff and James Frazier of the Walker Stalker podcast, the convention began life in a Kickstarter funding campaign in June, which raised $16,782.00.  Though the podcasters are based in Nashville, Atlanta was the only city where the convention could take place; the availability of the actors to appear depended on their proximity to the venue. With almost everyone in town for production of the shows’ fourth season, Walker Stalker Convention was go. The pair has said that they expect as many as 10,000 attendees for the convention.

Cable television’s AMC network recently announced plans for a spin-off series for 2015 and renewed THE WALKING DEAD for its fifth season.

Walker Stalker Con takes place Fri-Sun, November 1-3, at Americas Mart at 240 Peachtree St NW #2200, Atlanta. Hours are 12:00 pm to 8:00 pm Friday, 10:00 am to 7:00 pm Saturday, and 10:00 am to 5:00 pm Sunday. Tickets are available online or at the door.

Anthony Taylor is a writer and an expert on retro-futurism, classic science fiction and horror films and television, and genre collectibles. He is the author of ARCTIC ADVENTURE!, an official Thunderbirds™ novel based on the iconic British television series by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson. His website is http://Taylorcosm.com.

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Retro Review: If the Dead Come, Can We Learn to Live with Them?! Splatter Cinema Presents DAY OF THE DEAD at The Plaza

Posted on: May 13th, 2013 By:

DAY OF THE DEAD (1985); Dir. George Romero; Starring Lori Cardille and Joe Pilato; Tuesday, May 14, 9:30 p.m.; Plaza Theatre; Trailer here. Presented by Splatter Cinema.

By Andrew Kemp
Contributing Writer

George A. Romero’s 1968 classic NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD warned audiences that when there was no more room in Hell, the dead would walk the earth. It was a strong and resonating nightmare for Americans who, after a decade of unrest and war, had begun to wonder if Hell was truly spilling over. Romero’s 1985 film DAY OF THE DEAD has an entirely different thought for people living through the last days of the Cold War: if the dead come, can we learn to live with them? Can we learn to live with ourselves?

DAY OF THE DEAD, which arrives at the Plaza Theatre on Tuesday night for the Splatter Cinema series, is the third film in Romero’s Dead trilogy, following the nihilistic NIGHT and 1978’s satirical classic DAWN OF THE DEAD. Unlike most movie franchises, the films in Romero’s Dead series have no direct connections to one another. Each film is an isolated story located within the same world where a plague of zombies has destroyed civilization and where the best and worst instincts of the human race clash against each other in the last, desperate clutch for survival. Fans of THE WALKING DEAD may recognize that world, and may or may not know that they owe a debt to Romero: NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD invented the modern concept of the zombie, and Romero perfected using the dead to explore the dark side of the living. In NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, racial tensions and domestic violence tears at a small band of survivors; DAWN OF THE DEAD skewers the lure of commerce and capitalism as zombies descend on a shopping mall; 2005’s LAND OF THE DEAD shows a group of wealthy survivors crawling to safety on the backs of the poor.

DAY OF THE DEAD is more of a closed system, a bottle episode that puts two opposing ideologies into an tight space and shakes them up. Sarah (Lori Cardille) is part of a dwindling team of scientists in an underground military compound charged with finding a cure for the zombie plague. The soldiers assigned to protect them are led by Captain Rhodes (Joe Pilato), who barks orders and grows increasingly hostile to the science team as the hopelessness of their situation becomes clear. The fuse in the powderkeg is the cache of zombies the scientists are drawing from for their experiments, especially a dead guy named “Bub” who may be learning to be human again.

Always considered something of a problem child in the Romero series because it compares unfavorably to the (let’s admit it) superior DAWN, fans and critics initially kicked DAY OF THE DEAD down the street, leading to an agonizing 20-year delay before Romero returned to zombies in LAND. But DAY has been picking up attention from critics lately and the signs point to what could eventually be a complete rehabilitation. Yes, the movie’s problems are hard to ignore—for an apocalyptic movie, it sure feels very small, and the performances are grating—but Romero crafts the story and stages his world with his trademark critic’s eye. The signature conflict between progress and aggression, between building and destroying, is slathered on pretty thick, but the film is also an intriguing analogy about forming camps to shoot at one another when the enemy is, quite literally, at the gates. The movie could be about climate change or a financial collapse—all that really matters is the struggle about who gets to be leader on a sinking ship.

But DAY OF THE DEAD is a zombie horror movie, let’s not forget, and it’s the visuals that really help the film pop next to the rest of the b-horror crowd. This is a Splatter Cinema screening, which means there’s plenty of outrageous gore and some of the best of Tom Savini’s famous zombie effects. Romero has a particular gift for encouraging great monster makeup and then finding inventive and iconic ways to shoot it. DAY OF THE DEAD has plenty of munchy, crunchy effects, but it also has one of the most infamous disembowelings in movie history. And here I sit, 10 years after I first saw the film, never able to shake the opening image, where a zombie walks past sporting only the least-useful half of its jaw while an old rotting newspaper declares in its headline that “THE DEAD WALK!”

The NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD was a literal evening of horrors, but the DAWN of its sequel was more of a metaphor, a way to describe the gradual realization that the world had changed and would never be the same. DAY OF THE DEAD continues that metaphor. The long day is here and the survivors have only the bleak reality that arrives and lingers—we’re all alone, on our own, and fodder for the cold inevitable.

Andrew Kemp is a screenwriter and game writer who started talking about movies in 1984 and got stuck that way. He writes at www.thehollywoodprojects.com and hosts a bimonthly screening series of classic films at theaters around Atlanta.

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Let’s All Go to the Horror Con! Our 10 Best Retro Reasons To Attend DAYS OF THE DEAD ATLANTA

Posted on: Feb 1st, 2013 By:

What are we doing this weekend?! We’re heading down to the Sheraton Hotel Atlanta, one of the most Retro of downtown hotels, to hang out with thousands of horror fans at the second annual Days of the Dead. Last year, we drove all the way to the golf-cart-riding Stepford Wife wonderland of Peachtree City, but was it worth the hour-long commute. Hell, yeah, if only to hang with super-friendly and nice Kate Rambo of ROCK N ROLL HIGH SCHOOL, aka Dey Young, and have her sign a photo to us “I have never done detention in my entire life”! Alas Dey won’t be there this year, but if anything, there is a larger rogues’ gallery of monster, scream queens and heroes! OK, money’s tight, but where are you going to spend it? The Mall? And besides you have to worry about real zombies there.

1) BUTCH PATRICK! Yes, the original Eddie Wolfgang Munster from THE MUNSTERS, one of our two favorite Retro horror-sitcom TV shows. Sure, he’s more than all grown up now, but we can’t wait to hear any memories he might be willing to share about growing up at 1313 Mockingbird Lane.

2) RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD REUNION! OK, who didn’t want to party with a spikey red-headed Linnea Quigley getting drunk and dancing in a graveyard in this quintessential ’80s zombie black comedy. Days of the Dead has gathered Linnea and seven other starts of the cult classic which spawned four sequels. See everyone on stage at a noon panel. Don’t eat people, we say! Brains!

3) RIFF RANDELL! We’re still fantasizing of hanging with the Ramones and blowing up our high school, even after all these years, so we can’t think of anything more awesome than to meet and get the autographs of P.J. Soles who played Joey’s biggest fan in cult classic ROCK ‘N’ ROLL HIGH SCHOOL (1979). In case you’re too young to know this cult classic, get yourself educated by readingMark Arson’s Retro Review here. Oh, yeah, P.J. was in a few other obscure horror movies like CARRIE and HALLOWEEN.

4) HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES/DEVIL’S REJECTS Reunions! Rob Zombie’s two best movies aren’t actually Retro but they sure look that way, being tributes to the over-the-top exploitation flicks of the 1960s and 1970s. DAYS OF THE DEAD has rangled 13, by our count, of the cast, but we have to admit we’re most excited about Mr. Machete himself Danny Trejo, Michael Berryman, who also gave us the willies in Wes Craven‘s THE HILLS HAVE EYES (1966)and Sid Haig, one of those rare B-movie icons and character actors whose career spans the decades from Jack Hill’s blaxploitation films of the 1970s to the chaotic, creepy Captain Spaulding. Quite frankly you scared the sh-t out of us and since we’re not easily scared, for that we salute you, Sid, as a true master of horror. A reunion panel is Saturday at 1 p.m.

5) PATTY MULLEN! Get ready for Splatter Cinema’s Tues. Feb. 12 screening of Frank Henenlotter‘s FRANKENHOOKER (1990) at The Plaza Theatre by meeting the actual Frankenhooker!

6) DICK MILLER! Poor Murray Futterman can’t escape our favorite feel-good holiday movie monsters GREMLINS (1984) even on vacation. We promise we’ll be polite to the consummate character actor and won’t bring our Stripe along to ruin his con. We also haven’t forgotten that he was in the original Roger Corman-directed LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS (1960) and played the police chief in ROCK N ROLL HIGH SCHOOL.

7) GUNNAR HANSEN! Leatherface in the original TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1974). He’ll even be on a panel with Marilyn Burns, the only survivor of the original rampage, on Sun. at 1 p.m.  Nuff said.

8. COMICS ARTISTS! Hopefully by now you’ve read our exclusive interview with James O’Barr, creator of THE CROW, who will be bringing along  pages from his new THE CROW: THE ENGINES OF DESPAIR series. If not, check it out here. Also at Days, look for two of our favorite Atlanta-based artists, Chris Hamer, a master of the quirky creature and bonafide Kool Kat, and Jason Flowers, who recently completed work on THE NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD trading card series for U.K. sketch card company, Unstoppable Cards. All three will be bringing con-exclusive prints and new works, so be sure and seek out their tables.

9) SPOOKTACULAR SHOPPING! Horror cons are the perfect place to stock up on both macabre memorabilia and creepy clothing, costumes and accessories. One booth we’ll definitely be stopping by is that of Athens, GA-based artist Jeanne the Maskmaker, who crafts one of a kind visages worthy of the Red Death’s Masquerade Ball.

10) PHANTAMAGORIC PARTIES! On Friday night, wear your craziest, creepiest costume to the Monsters Ball at 11 p.m. followed by karaoke at half past the witching hour. Then on Saturday at 10 p.m., Atlanta’s own most extreme Halloween attraction Chambers of Horror presents a concert by Fiend Without A Face  featuring Brent Hinds of Mastodon, followed by the MurderBall and Side Show Party, featuring Captain Stabb-Tuggo and Maybelle’s Sideshow, a Chamber-of-Horror-themed burlesque show, a costume contest, prizes and the Wheel of Torture.

Days of the Dead main con hours are Fri. Feb. 1 from 5 to 11 p.m.; Sat. Feb. 2 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; and Sun. Feb. 3 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Door prices are $55 for  a weekend pass and $25 for a day pass. Park at the hotel for only $5 with validation from front desk (valet parking exempted). For more info, visit http://www.daysofthedead.net/atlanta/.

 

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Retro Review: WHITE ZOMBIE Walks Again in the World Premiere of an All-New Restoration at Atlanta’s Historic Plaza Theatre!

Posted on: Jan 16th, 2013 By:

WHITE ZOMBIE (1932); Dir. Victor Halperin; Starring Bela Lugosi, Madge Bellamy, John Harron and Robert Frazer; World premiere Friday, Jan. 18 @ 8:00 p.m. hosted by Prof. Morte (scary details at end of story), and Jan. 25-31; Plaza Theatre; Trailer here.

By Aleck Bennett
Contributing Writer

Long before George A. Romero’s NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD forever redefined “zombie” in the public mind as “undead, flesh-eating ghoul,” the Halperin Brothers first brought the Haitian legend of the zombie to the screen with 1932’s WHITE ZOMBIE.

The movie finds young couple Madeline Short (Madge Bellamy) and Neil Parker (John Harron) reuniting in Haiti to be wed at the plantation of their friend Charles Beaumont (Robert Frazer). Beaumont’s secret love for Madeline drives him to visit local voodoo master Murder Legendre (Bela Lugosi) in order to enlist his help in winning Madeline’s hand. Legendre provides Beaumont with a potion that will transform her into a zombie, robbed of her will and love for Parker. He complies with Legendre’s instructions, but soon finds that the villainous voodoo master has plans of his own for the young beauty.

In 1932, America was in the midst of a newfound fascination with voodoo due to New Orleans’ emergence as a tourist destination. Interest was further fueled by authors such as William Buehler Seabrook. Seabrook was a well-traveled journalist, explorer, occultist and Georgia resident who had gained renown by documenting occult practices across the globe, including some of the only objective contemporaneous reporting on Aleister Crowley. Seabrook’s interest in the occult led him to spend considerable time in Haiti researching voodoo and the Culte des Morts. This adventure resulted in his 1929 book THE MAGIC ISLAND, which introduced the concept of the “zombie” to American audiences.

Producer Edward Halperin and his brother, director Victor Halperin (along with screenwriter Garnett Weston) capitalized on the nation’s interest in voodoo by borrowing liberally from both Seabrook’s work and Kenneth Webb’s 1932 Broadway play, ZOMBIE, and crafted an atmospheric masterpiece. The Halperins enlisted Bela Lugosi, fresh off his success in Universal’s 1931 smash DRACULA. It’s unclear as to Lugosi’s reasons for choosing to immediately follow a major studio hit with a micro-budgeted independent film, but he may have seen it as a way to stretch his creative muscles in a low-risk venture. Although he was paid little for his role (reports vary from $500 to $5000), his co-star Clarence Muse reported that Lugosi rewrote portions of the script, restaged some of the scenes and even directed portions of the film. His personal investment in the end results may be why Lugosi considered WHITE ZOMBIE a favorites among his own movies.

It could also be because it’s just a damned fine film.

The film deftly balances the legendary with the actual. While Legendre’s zombies are the reanimated corpses of Haitian lore (their look provided by Universal’s maestro of makeup, Jack Pierce), the film also depicts his use of a poison that emulates death and results in the victim’s deathlike trance and subsequent subservience to a bokor or sorcerer. Though this method had long been suspected, a pharmacological explanation for the zombie phenomenon wouldn’t be confirmed until ethnobiologist Wade Davis’ explorations into Haiti in the 1980s.

Beyond the film’s knowing mixture of fact and fiction, it benefits from the collaboration of Victor Halperin, cinematographer Arthur Martinelli and music superviser Abe Meyer. Together, they take what may have read on the page as stagebound and stodgy and create a dreamlike vision that mirrors Carl Dreyer’s VAMPYR (also 1932), echoes elements of contemporaneous Universal horrors and anticipates Val Lewton’s exercises in atmosphere and sound design. Constantly inventive staging and camera work—taking place on sets borrowed from DRACULA, FRANKENSTEIN and THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME—operate in sync with native drumming, chants, ambient noise, eerie rearrangements of classical works and original music by Xavier Cugat to deliver a palpable sense of creeping death under the oppressive hand of Murder Legendre.

And in the role of Legendre, Lugosi becomes the embodiment of evil itself. No other role—not even Dracula—fully utilizes his mesmeric power and hypnotic presence. From the opening scene, when his eyes are superimposed on the landscape of Haiti, his presence is felt in every frame of film; this is the power of his performance as Murder Legendre. The Halperins attempted to recapture the magic of this film with a sequel, REVOLT OF THE ZOMBIES, but made the mistake of attempting to replace Bela with Dean Jagger. It’s no small wonder that the subsequent film failed.

For years, WHITE ZOMBIE only circulated on washed-out transfers of faded 16mm prints, mastered for public domain VHS and TV broadcast. In 1999, two rare 35mm prints were used to create the restored version released on DVD by the Roan Group. However, those prints were hardly in pristine condition, displaying evident damage and dropped frames.

Left to right: Bela Lugosi as voodoo master Legendre, a mesmerized Madge Bellamy and a concerned John Harron in WHITE ZOMBIE (1932).

In recent years, Los Angeles-based Holland Releasing had heard that a previously unknown complete 35mm print was rumored to be in the possession of an aged film collector. Thomas W. Holland (a previous resident of Roswell and Marietta) spoke about the efforts to track down this elusive print and its owner. “I heard a rumor about an old fellow who claimed to have a superb, original 35mm print and that began a worldwide search to find this aging, eccentric film lover and convince him to let us acquire the film for a full restoration.  People think I’m joking when I say I had to go through a friend of a friend of a friend to contact this man.” When the print was found, Holland was stunned at its overall condition. “It must have been removed from theatrical service early on, or been set aside as a special studio print.” The Holland Releasing group then set about restoring the film.

AlgoSoft-Tech USA, based in Bishop, Georgia, was hired to return WHITE ZOMBIE’s image quality to its original standards. AlgoSoft’s president, Dr. Inna Kozlov, a famed mathematician in her native Russia, took on the project with great excitement. “We arranged to have the vintage 35mm print scanned, frame-by-frame, at a very high resolution so as not to lose any information.” From that point, Dr. Koslov and her technology developer, Dr. Alexander Petukhov wrote customized software to correct any imperfections in each frame. “Our goal was to return the film’s visuals to how they looked in 1932, the way a vintage carbon arc light source would have glistened through a silver nitrate print of the era.”

Another Atlanta firm, Crawford Media Services, was chosen to do the final re-assembly of the motion picture which included intensely detailed color-correction. “Being a black-and-white film, WHITE ZOMBIE required far more expertise and patience than a typical color feature to get the light levels correct,” says producer Holland. “This film is a gothic masterpiece, and we wanted it to look exactly the way it did when audiences first saw it.”

Once the Georgia image work was completed, the master was sent to Chace Audio by Deluxe in Burbank, California. Using a variety of sources, Chace remastered the film’s faded audio tracks to restore the sound to match the quality of the restored image. “Early sound films had a tremendous amount of inherent hiss, clicks and pops,” Holland says, “but Chace was able to give us a new audio track that greatly reduced this. We weren’t looking to make a hi-fi version of the WHITE ZOMBIE track, just a cleaner, clearer representation of how the movie originally sounded in theaters of the ’30s.”

Of course, any restoration invites an amount of controversy, and WHITE ZOMBIE is no exception to this rule. The Holland restoration, which has been licensed for use on an upcoming DVD and Blu-Ray release by Kino/Fox Lorber, is already attracting its share of debate from advance reviews. (The release offers two viewing options for comparison: the Holland restoration and a “raw” transfer of the print used prior to AlgoSoft’s restorative work.) However, without actually being able to see an arc light-projected silver nitrate print of WHITE ZOMBIE, it’s impossible to say that the Holland restoration is an inaccurate representation of how the film looked in 1932.

What is most exciting, though, is the chance to see WHITE ZOMBIE on the big screen once again as the restoration makes its world premiere at the Plaza Theatre. The Plaza is making this night a grand event. Hosted by Professor Morte of the Silver Scream Spookshow (aka Shane Morton) and Blake Myers (Atlanta effects artist, filmmaker, Buried Alive Film Festival programmer and ATLRetro Kool Kat, whose credits include THE WALKING DEAD and V/H/S), the film will be preceded by the vintage Betty Boop cartoon “Is My Palm Read?” and followed by the 1932 short subject “An Intimate Interview with Bela Lugosi.” Following the filmed entertainment, the team behind WHITE ZOMBIE’s restoration will take part in a question-and-answer session. And attendees will have a chance to win a lifetime all-inclusive ticket to the Plaza, original Plaza seats and T-shirts and monster masks from event sponsor Atlanta Zombie Apocalypse.

Following its premiere on January 18, the film will be showing at the Plaza for a full week, running from January 25-31, and will be shown on a one-time-only basis in theaters across the Unites States and Canada. But you can be there first and see WHITE ZOMBIE brought back to life at its world premiere in Atlanta.

Aleck Bennett is a writer, blogger, pug warden, pop culture enthusiast, raconteur and bon vivant from the greater Atlanta area. Visit his blog at doctorsardonicus.wordpress.com

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30 Days of the Plaza Theatre: Day 2, Back to the Grindhouse for a ZOMBIE HOLOCAUST, Courtesy of Splatter Cinema

Posted on: May 8th, 2012 By:

Splatter Cinema Presents ZOMBIE HOLOCAUST (1980); Dir: Marino Girolami; Starring: Ian McCulloch, Donald O’Brien, Alexandra Delli Colli; Tues. May 8; 9:30 PM; Plaza Theatre; Trailer here.

Splatter Cinema comes with the warning that the cult horror movies they screen at the Plaza Theatre are “not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach.” ZOMBIE HOLOCAUST (1980) certainly tests your limits when it comes to the latter with a hearty serving of gore. Billed as a 30th anniversary screening, the Italian exploitation film is mash-up of the cannibale and zombie subgenres which were popular grindhouse fare back in the cusp of the 1970s into early 1980s. It owes a heavy debt to Lucio Fulci’s ZOMBI 2 (1979); the Wiki on it even says it reuses footage but other reviewers simply say director Marino Girolami pushed the boundaries of borrowing.

The plot is a standard mad scientist tale. A Manhattan hospital staffer and pagan god Kito-worshipper from a Pacific Island has a taste for dining out at the facility’s morgue. Government scientist Dr. Peter Chandler, played by Scottish actor  Ian McCulloch (who also starred in Fulci’s ZOMBIE, as well as lots of British TV), and hot morgue assistant/anthorpologist Lori (Alexandra Delli Colli) investigate only to find the corpse-munching isn’t limited to their hospital. They launch an expedition to the island where they become the hunted by first by cannibals and finally by zombies (yes, the movie makes you wait for the undead but they do finally walk) created by the twisted Doctor Obrero (Irish character actor and perennial Nazi Donald O’Brien). And oh, attention, fanboys, Delli Colli “run[s] around naked a lot”, as one Amazon fan reviewer points out.

Yup, ZOMBIE HOLOCAUST is not exactly original in plot, but then the audience for a movie like this isn’t in it for the art. While online critics lament it’s not Fulci, they do seem to say that it works on the visceral level where over-the-top gore and humor collide. And seeing a 35mm print of something like this, well, is like a time capsule back to Times Square or, in Atlanta perhaps to the old Rialto, and that good unclean fun, right? And another good reason to remember that if it wasn’t for The Plaza, you wouldn’t have that opportunity here in Atlanta.

Be sure to come early to get your free photo taken in an incredibly realistic recreation of a scene from the movie by the crazy guys who make the Splatter Cinema series a one-of-a-kind event, Luke Godfrey and Nick Morgan.

TERRIFYING TRIVIA about ZOMBIE HOLOCAUST… 

  1. It was re-edited and released in the US under the title of DOCTOR BUTCHER, M.D. by Aquarius Releasing in 1982. This version includes a 2.5 minute sequence from an unfinished student film by Roy Frumkes (writer of STREET TRASH [1987]) and a different music score.
  2. A DVD version is available from Shriek Show (Media Blasters), both individually (yes, even in Bluray as of last year!) and in the triple feature ZOMBIE PACK, also including another Italian movie BURIAL GROUND: THE NIGHTS OF TERROR  (1981) and FLESHEATER (1988), directed by and starring the recently deceased S. William Hinzman (the original NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD [1968]). In a DVD extra, Frumkes talks about his footage, for which he netted $300, plus there are apparently lots of nifty other extras including a booklet with an essay about the 42nd Street grindhouse experience by Temple of Schlock‘s Chris Poggiali. We’re not saying that you can stay home and see it on DVD, just that you may want to check out the DVD later, of course.
  3. Soundtrack composer Nico Fidenco also scored EMANUELLE AND THE CANNIBALS (1977), BLACK EMANUELLE (1975) and CONFESSIONS OF A DANGEROUS MIND (2002).

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The Horror Con! The Horror Con! Our Top 10 Retro Reasons to Brave the Days of the Dead

Posted on: Mar 7th, 2012 By:

For some time, Atlanta has boasted a fearsome fright scene—we’d even argue that it’s one of the best in the nation—thanks to the mad maniacs behind the Silver Scream Spookshow, Splatter Cinema, Gorehound Productions, Netherworld, Atlanta Zombie Apocalypse, Chambers of Horror, Buried Alive Film Festival, Rock N Roll Monster Bash, DEAR GOD! NO!… But the city weirdly never has hosted a full-out horror con.

DAYS OF THE DEAD aims to right that wrong this weekend with a thieves’ gallery of men behind masks, scream queens and cult movie idols, both classic and contemporary. The action takes place a bit south at the Wyndham Peachtree Conference Center, south of the airport in Peachtree City, Friday 5 p.m.- 11 p.m., Sat. 11 a.m.-2 a.m. and Sun. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Here are our top 10 Retro reasons why you need to go…

Riff Randell and Kate Rambo!
We’re still fantasizing of hanging with the Ramones and blowing up our high school, even after all these years, so we can’t think of anything more awesome than to meet and get the autographs of P.J. Soles and Dey Young, the actresses behind Joey’s biggest fan and the sexiest budding nuclear physicist ever to attend ROCK ‘N’ ROLL HIGH SCHOOL (1979). In case you’re too young to know this cult classic, get yourself educated by reading Mark Arson’s Retro Review here.

Sid Haig!
Sid is one of those rare B-movie icons and character actors whose career spans the decades from Jack Hill’s blaxploitation films of the 1970s to the chaotic Captain Spaulding of Rob Zombie’s HOUSE OF 1000 CORPSES and THE DEVIL’S REJECTS. In our book, the latter is a modern exploitation classic and arguably the best of Zombie’s movies. Quite frankly you scared the sh-t out of us and since we’re not easily scared, for that we salute you, Sid, as a true master of horror. And OK, it’s pretty darned cool that your co-star Bill Moseley is going to be there, too, and both of you share a panel at noon Sunday.

Sexy Scream Queens!
A horror con wouldn’t be a horror con without a bevy of beautiful scream queens. I know it’s fun, guys, to get an autograph and pose for a pic, but we’re jazzed to hear what these gals have to say about their stints as the victim, too. Looking forward to that opportunity at the Scream Queens Panel Sat. at 2 p.m. featuring Linnea Quigley (NIGHT OF THE DEMONS 1 & 2, RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD), Barbara Crampton (RE-ANIMATOR, FROM BEYOND, TRANCERS 1 & 2), PJ Soles (who also of course was in John Carpenter’s original HALLOWEEN and CARRIE), and “honorary scream queen” Mark Patton (NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET 2)

Vintage Zombies!
Being that THE WALKING DEAD is filmed inAtlanta, it seems perfectly unnatural to have a few of its zombies as con guests. But we have to admit we’re more excited about meeting George Koshana (Sheriff McClelland) and John Russo (screenwriter) from the original NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD (1968). In fact, we’re just tickled blood-red that they’re still on the con circuit, especially after the sad recent loss of Bill Hinzman. Glad we met him down at Spooky Empire in Orlando a few years ago.

Home-Grown Horror!
While the Hollywood stars may be the headliners, another cool thing about Days of the Dead is it also embraces our local Atlanta scary subculture. At midnight Friday, the gory gang at Atlanta’s adult haunted attraction Chambers of Horror is hosting an adults-only Rock N Roll Torture Lounge. Watch lovely ladies spin the Wheel of Torture and win prizes as the Right Reverend Andy, of Psychobilly Freakout on Garage 71, spins horror rock and punk hits. Then at 8 p.m. Professor Morte, Persephone and the Silver Scream Spookshow will be throwing a special bonus show exclusive to Days of the Dead. Be there and be scared!

Macabre Movies!
Don’t just meet the stars, take a little time out to catch a few movies. Our favorite picks, of course, are cult classics, both old and new. Linnea Quigley hosts a special workprint screening of ‘80s cult classic RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD, featuring alternate scenses, takes and 15 minutes of footage never screened to the public, Friday night at 9 p.m.  Then on Saturday, DEAR GOD! NO! has been generating quite a buzz on the festival circuit for its over-the-top authenticity as a homage to ‘70s exploitation films, and you have another chance to see it at 3 p.m. Catch up on our crazy interview with director Jimmy Bickert here.

Creepy Costumes!
Be sure and pack your most frightening recreation of a horror icon, or at least your camera, as Days of the Dead serves up several costume events. On Friday night, dance until you drop dead at the Monsters Among Us Costume Ball, a Phantom Ball-themed costume party with DJs spinning. Then the best of the best compete at 4:30 p.m. Sat. in Wickedbeard’s Costume Contest. Finally Sunday, don your best zombie make-up with a Zombie Best in Show Contest, co-horror-hosted by Argos T. Fleam and Atlanta’s own Professor Morte. We’re informed that experts will judge on zombie poise, form, dexterity and talent. Dripping, dribbling, drooling and loss of appendage will reflect negatively on your final scores.

Custom Hearses!
Even if you’re not ready for that final ride to the graveyard, it’s always pretty amazing to see custom hearses done up with all the creativity of vintage hotrods. All day Saturday members of Atlanta’s Dead Ends Hearse Club will be showing off their wheels the Hell on Wheels Hearse Show, with raffles and giveaways and a contest for best of hearse at 2 p.m.

The Man Behind THE CROW!
THE CROW began as a comic book with a cult/goth following about a mild-mannered guy returned from the dead to wreak revenge on the human monsters who raped and murdered his true love. Beautifully drawn and written, the haunting and violent tale by James O’Barr inevitably caught Hollywood attention but seemed destined for another fatal turn with the tragic death of star Brandon Lee, son of Bruce Lee, on the set. James has made Atlanta comics con and DragonCon appearances before, but it always make us smile to see him back because not only is he an amazing artist but also one of the sweetest guys on the planet. Be sure and ask him to show you the portfolio of what he’s been up to lately, and yeah, you can tell him we told you to.

Spooktacular Shopping!
Horror cons are a great place to stock up on , and from the list of vendors booked for this weekend, we’re definitely bringing some extra cash and credit card. Hollywood Book & Poster always packs a super selection of vintage horror posters, stills, books, scripts and more at reasonable prices. And stop and say hi at the Diamond Star Halo table to ATLRetro Contributing Editor and Libertine proprietress extraordinaire Jennifer Belgard, who has really revved up our own Shop Around section. For a full vendor and artist line-up, click here.

Those are just our top 10 reasons to come, of course. Yours may be Gary and Jake Busey, Roddy Piper, Jeff Burr, Tyler Mane or any of the other many guests. We don’t judge. We just say if you don’t support your local horror con, the first could be the last so get yourself down to Peachtree City and let’s have a fiendishly fun time together.

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