It was back to the Walker Stalker convention for the first weekend in October, this time held outside Philadelphia, PA! We arrived on the 1st of the month – the 48th anniversary of NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD – and had a wonderful time meeting new friends and reuniting with a few old ones. And best of all, it was time for me to meet up with the folks from Z NATION!
Brace yourself, because this is a huge photo-essay with over 40 pictures (including a few animated GIFs)…or is that 50?…and every one of them has a caption that tells part of the story! And that was pared down from over 700! On we go…
Oh, one last thing. My father, Marvin Blumberg, is as big a Z NATION fan as DOCTOR OF THE DEAD co-host and producer Scott Woodard and I are, and since his birthday was just days earlier on September 29th, I asked the cast if they wouldn’t mind recording a brief greeting…
And that’s all from Walker Stalker Philly 2016! Until next time!
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Growing up as a DUNGEONS & DRAGONS player and occasional Dungeon Master, I spent a lot of my childhood with my nose buried in the many rulebooks published by TSR Games (later TSR Hobbies, Inc.). While the goal was to digest the many arcane rules and scenario details in order to ensure smooth sailing at the game table, the most memorable elements from those rulebooks were, and still are, the many illustrations and full-color paintings that adorned the pages and covers of the various tomes and adventure modules.
Even before the age of 12, I was highlighting my favorite pieces and learning the names of the artists behind them; names like Jeff Dee, Erol Otus, Jim Roslof, Donald C. Sutherland III, and D.A. Trampier appearing on a new product’s title page ensured the reader that the illustrations held within would be of a certain quality and compatible style to previously published works.
As the years drew on, new names joined their ranks, including Jeff Easley, Larry Elmore, Todd Lockwood, and Keith Parkinson, and soon after that, still more artists like Brom, Jeff Butler, and Tony DiTerlizzi. Now, a new documentary focusing on so many of these incredible artists is in production from X-Ray Films and Cavegirl Productions. Directed by Brian Stillman, Kelley Slagle, and Seth Polansky, EYE OF THE BEHOLDER: THE ART OF DUNGEONS & DRAGONS is described as “an exciting new documentary that explores the history, influence, and stories behind the artwork that helps create the worlds in which we all play. The movie profiles D&D artists – both past and present – and also features former TSR insiders, game designers, authors, and fans. EYE OF THE BEHOLDER: THE ART OF DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS is a celebration of the art we all love so much.”
EYE OF THE BEHOLDER is due to be released in 2017. Keep up with its production via their Facebook page!
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Director: Turner Clay
Writer: Turner Clay
Starring: Justin Ray, Jerod Meagher, Stefanie Estes, Ron Hanks, Michael Taber, Dennis Leech, Morgan Jackson
Some dudes are hanging out in one of their many really nice apartments in LA, wearing striped shirts in neutral colors and drinking and generally being awesome, when meteors strike the city, bringing with them a toxic smoke that kills and reanimates the dead into mutated killers. It’s time to head for the coast, bro!
Ever felt like you couldn’t find your way out of a parking garage? You know, like in that classic SEINFELD episode? Well, get ready to relive the nightmare, because besides shooting most of their movie in a few square blocks of LA – probably in and around their own apartments – the team behind DISASTER LA decided that an action-packed location for much of their zombie romp was the nearest underground parking palace. Presumably, however, they didn’t want to risk having to clean up after themselves when filming there, leading to the awkward and frankly laughable use of CGI glass and identical sound effects every time someone smashes a car window.
There are more than a few nods to the 1984 mutant zombie classic NIGHT OF THE COMET.
There are more than a few nods to the 1984 mutant zombie classic NIGHT OF THE COMET in this lackluster effort, from the harbinger of apocalyptic doom arriving from the skies over LA to the occasionally amorphous skull-like prosthetics for the zombie creatures. There are also some genuine attempts at humor here and there, but like everything else in this movie – except the meteors, that is – nothing quite lands. Oddly, the movie is also a partial remake of film maker Turner Clay’s earlier (and I’m reliably informed, superior) effort, the slightly more CRAZIES-like 2011 STATE OF EMERGENCY. So why make it again, and not as well? Beats me.
Effects-wise, the zombies are mildly interesting, attracted to sight and sound, but barely ever seen – seems they could only afford to make up a few people and do their best to avoid showing them the rest of the time – but the production team must have fallen in love with the CGI helicopter model they made or acquired, since copied-and-pasted groups of them fly by endlessly throughout the film. Oddly, we hear jet fighters without seeing them, prompting us while watching to assume that they must not have had a plane to show. Then, toward the end, the jet fighters turn up on screen too, inexplicably held back in the mix until the final act.
As for other production notes, the wardrobe people must have decided that the apocalypse will best be weathered in muted colors of striped polo shirts. Oh, and hoodies…tons of hoodies! Everyone is wearing them, living and dead. Honestly, did someone on the production have a hoodie store or get a ‘discount’ shipment off the back of a truck?
DISASTER LA dwells in that middle ground between almost competent storytelling and “so bad it’s good” ineptitude.
Truly the worst part of DISASTER LA is that it’s not really all that bad while not being all that good. Although this review may suggest otherwise, the movie has enough in terms of generally decent performance and production to hold interest through most of its running time, even though it fails to deliver on anything too dramatic, meaningful, or even entertaining, and then expects you to just walk away from its beach-based finale with anything more than utter disappointment. DISASTER LA dwells in that middle ground between competent storytelling and “so bad it’s good” ineptitude, a not-at-all-sweet spot of failure that nevertheless results in something dedicated zombie fans might find themselves watching once just for the hell of it. Just don’t blame me when you do.
HELP US BY ORDERING THE MOVIE VIA THIS LINK!
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