The latest poster for The Vicious Brothers’ upcoming sci-fi thriller Extraterrestrial (read our review), arriving in the States on VOD October 17th and in theaters November 21st, was just abducted.
“Still reeling from her parents divorce, April (Brittany Allen) is dragged back to the vacation cabin she spent fond summers at as a child accompanied by a group of friends. Her trip down memory lane takes a dramatic and terrifying turn when a fireball descends from the sky and explodes in the nearby woods. Lead by her boyfriend (Freddie Stroma), the group venture out toward the crash site and discover the remnants of a ship from another planet along with footprints that suggest its alien occupants are still alive. The college friends soon find themselves caught in the middle of something bigger and more terrifying than they ever thought possible.“
Extraterrestrial also stars Gil Bellows (The Shawshank Redemption, House at the end of the Street), Jesse Moss (Final Destination 3, The Uninvited), Melanie Papalia (The Den, Smiley), Michael Ironside (Terminator Salvation, Starship Troopers), Emily Perkins (Ginger Snaps Trillogy), Sean Rogerson (Grave Encounters, 12 Rounds Reloaded) and Anja Savcic (I Love You Beth Cooper, Repeaters).
Just over a week ago (and about a week late) I made a Steam Curator page partly just to experiment with the new feature, but mostly because I know how challenging it can be to find a quality horror game on a platform that’s gradually become inundated by titles of wildly inconsistent qualities. The point of our Curator page is to gather some of the best horror games on Steam so all you have to do is find the game(s) you think may be interesting.
To make up for lost time, I said we’d celebrate reaching a thousand followers with a special giveaway. I assumed it would take a few weeks, maybe longer, for the page to gain steam (sorry). Instead, it took a week.
Because my word is my bond, or whatever, that’s exactly what we’re going to do.
The fine folks at Funko have gifted me with some awesome Pop! Vinyl figures of Jason Voorhees, Michael Myers and Freddy Krueger to give away to six of you.
TO ENTER: Put I’m Funky for Funko in the subject line and include YOUR FULL NAME and ADDRESS in the message which I’ll ask you to send to email@example.com. Winners will be chosen at random on Friday, October 10. No PO Boxes. All are eligible.
And don’t forget to follow our Curator page!
Ironic that Sony just got behind the long-delayed Zombieland (review) sequel as today marks the 5th anniversary of Ruben Fleischer’s hilarious horror comedy that starred Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Woody Harrelson and Bill Murray (who had the most epic cameo of the decade). The film was a monster success taking in $100M worldwide, which is why a sequel was quickly put into development, even if it never came into fruition. One of the best little gimmicks in the film are the “rules”. Which rule would be your flaw? Too bad the Amazon television pilot was so awful because we could have had a world of Zombieland…
Also released in 2009 was Filmax and Magnet’s incredible found-footage sequel [REC]2 (review), which originally premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. This was in the early days of VOD platform pushes, and was considered an exciting moment for horror fans to be able to rent it the same day as it was in theaters. The coolest aspect of the sequel was how Jaume Balaguero and Paco Plaza evolved the story so that these zombies were actually possessed by demons.
What really makes October 2 so special is it’s the day DreamWorks took a big chance on The Ring, one of the first remakes that started the reboot fad and also the J-horror trend. Nothing ever came close to the success The Ring had both financially and in terms of quality horror. Gore Verbinski’s visual style is what set the tone for this terrifying reboot of the Japanese franchise, Ringu, which racked in $250M worldwide. It’s also one of the rare horror films to break $100M in the states, actually pulling in a shocking $129M. I remember DreamWorks setting up early screenings across the country, which is what started the hype train a rollin’. It’s too bad the sequel was so awful, even though the home video release came with a kickass short film , directed by TMNT and Texas Chainsaw: The Beginning‘s Jonathan Liebesman. If you have no teen this, seek it out immediately. Even though the franchise has gone quiet, a 3-D sequel is in the works (completely bypassing a found-footage one).
October 2 was even better, though, sharing the day with Dee Snider’s criminally underrated, way ahead of its time 1998 Strangeland, about teenage girls who are victimized by a psycho (named Captain Howdy) who lures them using the Internet. The film was a box office disaster, but has found life among us horror fans on home video.
In 1987 Kathryn Bigelow’s revolutionary vamp flick, Near Dark, blasted into theaters. Starring Lance Henriksen, Adrian Pasdar, Bill Paxton, Jenny Wright and Tim Thomerson, “Country boy Caleb Colton (Adrian Pasdar) whittles away the quiet rural nights hunting local girls – but when he falls prey to the mysterious and beautiful Mae (Jenny Wright), Caleb unknowingly becomes the hunted. Mae is no ordinary girl, Caleb soon learns; she is part of an outlaw band of vampires, and their love is about to lure him into a terrifying world of bloodlust, mayhem and absolute horror. Will Caleb pay the ultimate price for love and eternal life – or will he find a way to defeat the evil growing inside him each night NEAR DARK?” The film is insanely bloody and features some wicked special effects work.
Of these aforementioned films, which is your favorite, and which are you going to revisit this coming weekend? I feel like re-watching them all is in order…
From Blair Witch director Eduardo Sanchez, Exists pits a group of twenty-somethings against the legendary Bigfoot. We have this new clip that sets off the movie in the wrong direction. Why is Bigfoot attacking? Find out below…
In Bigfoot’s bold return to the big screen, “For five friends, it was a chance for a summer getaway— a weekend of camping in the Texas Big Thicket. But visions of a carefree vacation are shattered with an accident on a dark and desolate country road. In the wake of the accident, a bloodcurdling force of nature is unleashed—something not exactly human, but not completely animal— an urban legend come to terrifying life…and seeking murderous revenge.“
The film stars Chris Osborn, Dora Madison Burge, Roger Edwards, Samuel Davis, Denise Williamson and Brian Steele and is produced by Jane Fleming, Mark Ordesky, Robin Cowie and J. Andrew Jenkins.
Exists hits theaters and iTunes on October 24.
NBC is taking you behind-the-scenes of “Constantine,” the DC Comics/Warner Bros. TV adaptation starring Matt Ryan as the chain-smokin’ title character.
The new featurette has new footage and interviews from the fantasy vehicle “about occult master and demon hunter John Constantine, who is tasked with defending humanity from the forces of evil.”
Harold Perrineau Jr., Lucy Griffiths and Charles Halford co-star. Daniel Cerone and David S. Goyer exec produce.
The project is based on the “Hellblazer” comic book series. It has already been adapted into the 2005 feature film starring Keanu Reeves.
‘Scratches’ Dev Reveals Official Adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft Novel, ‘The Case of Charles Dexter Ward’
I’ve often complained about the bizarre lack of games that take from the rich well of unnerving stories that is the works of legendary horror fiction author H.P. Lovecraft. Indie developer Senscape seems to have heard my pleas, as they’ve just announced their plans to bring us an official — yes, official — adaptation of H.P. Lovecraft’s short novel, The Case of Charles Dexter Ward. The team behind Scratches and Serena have returned to Kickstarter, where they hope to raise an ambitious $250,000 to realize this dream project.
Usually, I’d be fully on board, and, for the most part, I am. I need more Lovecraftian games, and I’d prefer they be in the competent hands of a team that’s familiar with his works and the horror genre, which Senscape clearly is.
The one thing that’s keeping me from fully geeking out over this is their other horror adventure game, Asylum, which accrued an impressive $119k on Kickstarter nearly two years ago. They’ve continued to offer updates on the state of the game since, but donating to a second crowdfunding campaign from a developer that still hasn’t (not that they won’t!) delivered on their first isn’t an easy to choice to make.
It’s a decision that’s entirely up to you. To help you decide, here’s a trailer.
If you’d like to support this game, head on over to its Kickstarter page.
If you’re one of those creative types that makes art or creates remixes, there’s a pretty cool opportunity waiting for you courtesy of Dracula Untold. Fans have the opportunity to either create original artwork for the album cover or remix the title track of the film to win exposure and some cold hard cash.
The film’s soundtrack is composed by Ramin Djawadi, who composes for Game Of Thrones and did Iron Man and Pacific Rim.
Here are the prizing details:
The Album Artwork winner will have his or her work featured as the official cover art for the single release on Back Lot Music; receive exposure across Dracula Untold’s social media channels; receive $1,500.
Remix winner will have his or her remix featured as a digital release on Back Lot Music in connection with “Dracula Untold”; receive exposure across Dracula Untold’s social channels; receive $1,500.
Maya Bogle, co-founder of Talenthouse, said:
This partnership perfectly demonstrates how global brands are using Talenthouse to tap into the world’s creative community for large scale projects. This collaboration will help to liberate creatives everywhere and offer them a unique reason to partner with a global studio such as Universal, whilst providing financial rewards and the opportunity have their work showcased around the world.
To enter the album artwork contest, follow the details here and for the remix, you can find instructions here. Entrants have until have until November 3, 2014 at 6pm GMT to submit and upload their entry.
TentSquare, the first social network and content studio creating Crowd Powered Entertainment, has launched its first TentSquare Challenge where a judge challenges members to create videos no more than 2 minutes on a topic. The 25 videos with the most votes are reviewed and awarded a cash prize, in addition to other prizes.
Final Destination‘s Jeffrey Reddick challenges TentSquare members to create videos on the topic of #ZombieBromance for the first challenge.
$500, copies of Modernciné’s horror library including “All Cheerleaders Die, “Jug Face” and “The Woman,” soundtracks for “The Woman” and “All Cheerleaders Die” on vinyl, in addition to a signed copy of “Final Destination” by Jeffrey Reddick.
Submissions open October 1st – October 30th. The winner will be announced on Halloween, so the sooner you submit, the sooner people can start voting on them!
Good luck ‘Zombie Lovers’
Chris Cold is an artist I’ve featured numerous times before here on Bloody Disgusting. Fun fact: my wanting to share his work with all of you is largely responsible for the creation of Modern Art, my sporadically recurring series that focuses on art, mostly from undiscovered artists, that’s of a macabre persuasion. I first discovered his uniquely atmospheric work on Deviant Art about six years ago, and I’ve been stalking following him ever since.
This made it especially exciting for me when Chris agreed to help me with another recurring series, The FEAR Awards — our annual celebration of the best games the horror genre has to offer — the banner from which he designed.
Now we’ve made it to the part where I shut up so you can soak up some more work from an artist that I admire, even though he makes me feel so woefully untalented. Enjoy.
For more Chris Cold, feel free to check him out on Facebook.
With Will Smith taking his talents elsewhere, Warner Bros. is now seeking to reboot the now dated I Am Legend (the awful digital effects work was dated the day of release).
Deadline reports that the studio is working on a reboot that isn’t meant to star Smith, who has been reluctant to do sequels and so far has avoided a reprise in Independence Day 2.
Warner is retrofitting A Garden At The End of the World, a spec script that the studio bought back in April from Gary Graham described as a sci-fi version of John Wayne’s The Searchers. When Graham was brought in to rewrite his script, the studio by then had talked to the I Am Legend producers and noted enough similarities to the themes and mythology of that film that they asked the scribe to consider a redraft to fit that property.
The studio made a previous attempt to prequelize Legend, hiring Arash Amel to write a script that would have brought Smith’s Robert Neville scientist character back, right before the calamitous events that left him alone on the planet. They just couldn’t figure it out and scrapped the attempt.
The 2007 original grossed $586 million worldwide, $256 million of it domestic.
Pinup art reminds me of the holidays because our family used to litter the house with holiday hangers.
As we shared with you last month, Trevor Henderson has created a series of horror hangers that included Regan, Michael Myers, a Cenobote and Brundle Fly.
Henderson has updated his Esty shop with even more hangers, this time adding the Xenomoprh from Alien, Freddy from A Nightmare On Elm Street (with super long arms!), Jason from Friday the 13th and even the hero zombie from Return of the Living Dead! Personally, I love the demonic templar!
These old-school hangers are printed on 100 pound glossy card stock, connected with brass fasteners, and come packaged in a clear plastic bag with a paper header.
You think you know the real story of Dracula? Well you don’t, idiot. According to the makers of Universal’s new film Dracula Untold, none of us do.
But everyone in the Orlando area can remedy that on Wednesday, October 8, with a FREE preview screening of Dracula Untold, two days before it sinks its fangs into theaters. It’s going down at 7:30pm at Universal City Walk:
AMC Universal Cineplex 20
6000 Universal Blvd.
Orlando, FL 32819
We have 42 passes to give away, so get there early as seating is not guaranteed. Each is good for two people, which makes 84 folks that can get in. The significance of this number is unknown to me, but maybe the mystery will be revealed when Dracula Untold drops some arcane knowledge on us uncultured swine!
In the film, “Luke Evans is starring as the most famous of vampires in an origin story that sees a Transylvanian prince risk eternal damnation in order to save his wife and son from a Turkish horde. Barks will play a figure in Eastern European folk tales known as a baba yaga, a beautiful young woman who turns into a savage witch. Kristjansson will play Bright Eyes, an Eastern European taken as a slave as a young boy and now a vicious assassin in the Ottoman Army. Parkinson will play Dracula’s son, named Ingeras.“
Starring Luke Evans, Sarah Gadon, Dominic Cooper, Zach McGowan, Samantha Barks, Thor Kristjansson and Art Parkinson, the film was shot in Belfast last year.
Delivery: The Beast Within is now on DVD and digital HD from Cinedigm and The Collective. Blending found footage and reality show genres, the feature marks the directorial debut of Brian Netto, who also co-wrote the film with producer Adam Schindler.
We have (3) copies of the DVD for you guys to enter to win. To enter, put DELIVERY in the subject line and then send YOUR FULL NAME and ADDRESS to firstname.lastname@example.org. Winners chosen at random. No PO Boxes. US only.
“Delivery: The Beast Within follows Kyle (Barclay) and Rachel Massy (Vail), a young couple who agrees to document their first pregnancy for a new reality show. The family begins to unravel when the cameras capture a series of unexplained events, leading Rachel to believe that a malicious spirit has possessed their unborn child. After production is abandoned, a first hand account of the tragic, and possibly supernatural, story is told through the show’s un-aired footage and testimonials from friends, family and crew members.“
· “The Birth of Delivery” – Nine minute making-of featurette
· Audio Commentary with Actors Laurel Vail and Danny Barclay, Producer Adam Schindler and Director Brian Netto
· Audio Commentary with Composer Daniel Cossu, Supervising Sound Editor Darin Heinis Producer Adam Schindler and Director Brian Netto
Of the many horror games we have to look forward to in 2015, the PS4 exclusive teen slasher Until Dawn has managed the impressive feat of gradually climbing close to the top of my most anticipated list. I’m sure the decision to reboot development wasn’t an easy one for Supermassive Games to make, but it’s had a monumental impact on the atmosphere, which now has a subtle feeling of dread that has me anxious to get my hands on this.
Until Dawn is slated to release on the PS4 in 2015.
505 Games and Ecko Software have revealed a brand new edition of How to Survive that will serve as the definitive version of their open-world post-apocalyptic zombie survival game that released on last-gen consoles, Wii U and PC last October. Their announcement also included our first look at the upcoming game, as well as some details on what it will bring with it.
The How to Survive: Storm Warning Edition will include the original game and its DLC, along with new maps, characters, modes, weapons and survival tips. It’s scheduled to release this fall.
I never beat the original game, but I did manage to spend a few hours with it. It has its flaws — my biggest problem is that even in online co-op, you’re forced to share the screen with your partner — and it leans a bit too heavily on the silly side, but it’s fun.
If they can fix that, I’ll happily buy this game again.
In news that should surprise no one, Sega has released another brief bit of gameplay footage from Alien: Isolation, coming next week (boy, does that feel good to say) from developer Creative Assembly. Of the bajillion videos in this #HowWillYouSurvive series, this one may be my favorite. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as an old-fashioned curb stomp, especially when it’s being dealt by an android that looks like it just escaped from the bowels of Hell.
It’s obviously too late for Sega’s marketing team to do anything about it now, but I don’t think #HowWillYouSurvive fits with the content of these videos. Unless the Dark Souls series owns the rights on , something along the lines of #PrepareYourButtForImminentDeath or #YouWillF**kingDie would have been more appropriate.
Alien: Isolation arrives on PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One on October 7.
Three new videos have crawled their way out of the dark abyss in order to continue Bethesda’s exploration of the look and sounds of The Evil Within, which I can now giddily say will be releasing this month. The series follows Adam Sessler, formerly of Rev3 Games and G4′s X-Play, as he continues his behind the scenes look at 2014′s most anticipated horror game (according to you).
The Evil Within arrives on PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One on October 14.
For its concluding chapter, “Kill Shakespeare: The Mask Of Night” #4 ends with a bang in its action-packed finale. The classic Shakespearean characters feel more alive and modern as they become part of the swashbuckling genre. The “Kill Shakespeare” series has gone off in a new and fresh direction, keeping newcomers and longtime readers in a state of twisted surprise.
Written By: Conor McCreery and Anthony Del Col
Art By: Andy Belanger
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Release: Oct. 1, 2014
Reviewed By Jorge Solis
In the aftermath of “Vol. 3: Tide of Blood,” Juliet, Hamlet, and Othello were captured on the pirate ship, The Boreas. While being held captive, pirates Cesario and Viola discovered the hard way, there is no honor amongst thieves. With the traitor revealed, Lucius Andronicus arrived to make things worse. Now that he has claimed the pregnant Juliet as his dinner, Andronicus is a hungry cannibal, with a taste for unborn children.
Though Hamlet has been in the background, writers Conor McCreery and Anthony Del Col put this Shakespearean characters out in the forefront as an action star. Wrong about Juliet and Romeo, Hamlet helplessly watched the love of his life being taken by Andronicus’ men. Coming to his senses, Hamlet is ready to make things right, but he needs help from Viola, the true captain of the Boreas. Throughout the story arc, Viola has switched sides, you could never predict her next move.
McCreery and Del Col definitely have a lot of fun with the dialogue between Hamlet and Viola. Attracted to the “bad girl” act, Hamlet seems to be enjoying the dirty talk and dark humor. As if they were on their first date, the deadly duo are slitting throats as they takedown Andronicus’ ship. Notice how Viola is getting frisky after her face is smeared with blood; defining their chemistry.
Andy Belanger’s artwork delivers so much action into every single panel. Using the split-screen as a visual technique, Belanger captures the sword action and blood from every angle. Everything is set in the opening pages, where readers get a taste of how sick and twisted Andronicus really is. Belanger keeps the pace at a fast beat because the story is counting down to Juliet being placed on the dinner table.
The panels jump to close-ups when Hamlet and Viola share the panel together. They are always keeping their eyes locked onto each other. The two are attracted to each other because their kicks come from the thrill of danger. Their attraction is highlighted as a fire starts in the background.
“Kill Shakespeare: The Mask of Night” #4 closes its riveting swashbuckling adventure with an action-packed finale. I can’t wait to see how “Kill Shakespeare” continues.
Tim Daniel and Michael Moreci made a huge splash in horror comics earlier this year when they unleashed the incomparable “Curse.” They proved themselves to be masters of horror, and built a very human story out of the tried and true werewolf lore, and today I’m happy to announce their followup series: “Burning Fields.”
BOOM! Studios has taken the men who made “Curse” such an incredible success and challenged them to craft something different and possibly more horrifying. Their back with Colin Lorimer and Riley Rossmo too, so the transition into this new world should be seamless. “Burning Fields” is a geopolitical drama with a monster mythos. Think Zero Dark Thirty meets The Thing and you’ve got the right idea.
The story follows Dana Atkinson, a dishonorably discharged army investigator, who is pulled back to the Middle East when a group of American oil technicians disappear under bizarre circumstances. With the help of an Iraqi investigator, what Dana discovers is unimaginable: a series of unusual incidents at the drill site lead her and her unlikely ally to discover a mythic evil that has been released, one that threatens both the lives of the entire region and the fragile peace that exists.
I was luckily enough to sit down with Tim and Michael to discuss the challenges of returning to the horror genre, the horror of war, and the inspiration for such an original premise.
Bloody-Disgusting: Is there any pressure on returning to horror after the incredible response to “Curse?”
Michael Moreci: I think so, yeah. Maybe even only on Tim and I, especially, in regards to how we approach our work. I think our fear is that people will be expecting Curse 2, and that we’re going to take the story of Burning Fields and place it over the Curse template. Neither of us are interested in going that route, as easy as it might be. What attracted us to Burning Fields is the ambitious story we’re trying to tell, and attempting to fall back on past success wouldn’t do justice to our goals or to the reading experience. We’d be shorting too much, and that’s not in Tim’s or my DNA. That’s part of why we work so well together—we’re both stubbornly committed to telling stories that shake things up, that push the envelope. We’re not comfortable unless we’re uncomfortable. And Burning Fields is a difficult, challenging story, like Curse, like my own series Roche Limit, like Tim’s series Enormous, but in its own way.
Add those things together—that rigors of writing Burning Fields, the expectations coming off of Curse—and you have a pretty intense situation. But we feed on that; we love it.
Tim Daniel: No pressure, just a genuine desire to work in the horror genre again and allow Burning Fields to be its own thing. Stephen King has explored all manner of horror. Take two of his novels as example; The Stand and The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon. They could not be further apart story-wise, but the reading experience is pure King and pure horror. At this point in our careers, we should be able to provide readers with a resonant reading experience. Something that’s going to both challenge and reward, while being unique to itself. Certainly, neither of us have any desire to repeat ourselves. But, being that we’re in the horror genre with Burning Fields and having reassembled the Curse team, I hope readers are comfortable spending their money and time on the series knowing what they’ll get will be of certain level of quality indicative of Curse.
BD: The series is billed as military horror, which first had me double take, I think you two are the first to tackle the sub-genre. I mean Full Metal Jacket could be considered a horror movie, and even Apocalypse Now, but they were military stories first and horror second. I imagine you two want to focus on the horror but why use the military as a backdrop?
MM: Tim and I are effective as horror storytellers to the degree we’re able to accrue emotional investment in our readers. Curse had that—a story of a parent and a child as well as the frustrations many of us have with our broken healthcare system. That investment is far more important than any blood and gore you can deliver; without that sense of seeing yourself in the character, without that emotional core, the horror, ultimately, doesn’t matter. You need to be afraid of something first.
For Burning Fields, part of the core is the specter of this endless war and the horrors it has engendered. We aim to tell a very personal story with our protagonists, Dana and Aban, about loss, faith, and commitment to an ideal. But in a grander sense, we want to explore the reckoning of war. Now, there’s a million ways we can go with this, suffice to say. But we’re focused on the horrors and the gross abuse caused by the private military complex. This is a topic worth an encyclopedia of accounts (and I’d urge anyone interested to read Jeremy Scahill’s book on Blackwater for a peek into the absolute nightmarish world of PMCs), so we can’t even hope to be comprehensive. But if you want to understand how the idea of a noble war/conflict is a fantasy, look no further than an industry—a very lucrative industry—that is built around imperialism, greed, and the suffering of others, amongst other things.
That knowledge, that truth, tarnishes everything it touches. The perpetuation of war is bad enough, and it requires a certain amount of, for lack of a better word, patriotism to justify its existence. We’re all told to support the troops, to feel some sort of emotional connection to their service and sacrifice—but what does that investment mean when the growing number of those forces are essentially paid mercenaries who act without impunity and are responsible for countless horrors? That truth poisons everything, and there’s a price to be paid in it.
TD: War is horror enough. Easily, inarguably, humankind’s greatest self-created atrocity. The movie examples you cite definitely qualify in illustrating that notion. The fact that the basic components of Burning Fields made you already do a double take is exactly what we set out do. I think Mike and I like to find elements from the real-world which are genuinely horrific in nature; the threat of a parent losing a child, the rigors of war, etc. and then define and illustrate that horror through the presence of the otherworldly.
BD: Tell me a little bit more about your protagonist Dana, who inspired her creation, what drives her, and what is she most afraid of?
TD: We see so much about “strong female lead” or “instantly likable female” or “badass female” and yet Dana Atkinson is somehow none of those things and all of those things without being a gimmick or coming off as blatant pandering to current trends. In that way, she strikes me as someone we could all recognize and identify with, her struggle to pursue justice is authentic. In my head, I see her as a combination of Kara Thrace (Starbuck) from Battlestar Galactica, Dana Scully from X-Files and Maya from Zero Dark Thirty. I mention Kara Thrace first since I absolutely love what Katee Sackhoff brought to that character – a genuine sense of grit and vulnerability. Dana is only one half of the Burning Fields equation though since we have an Iraqi Detective, Aban Fasad who serves as her foil. In fact, Aban is such a strong and vital presence you could easily say Dana is his foil as well. Neither character will necessarily dominate the story.
MM: Going off what Tim said, I never make a character to suit a trend or demographic—that’s cynical and, being honest, cheap. The protagonist in Burning Fields is female because that’s how I imagined her in my head—same as Laney being an African American. Character always comes first. We’re not checking any boxes.
Anyway…Dana is a character I really love and admire. What’s so compelling about her is her dogged intensity, her intransigent dedication to her code of ethics. You don’t find that often, people who draw their line in the sand and say “I will not cross this” and don’t, regardless of how easier it might make their lives. Having honor isn’t easy.
But that’s Dana—she’s the person who keeps everyone else honest, even as they grumble under their breath about her. But, at the same time, she’s not without flaw. Her stubbornness makes her a loner, and she fears a time when the world runs out of people like her, those vigilant ones watching the gate, keeping guard. She knows, in so many ways, she’s a relic, she’s difficult; her fear is the time when she goes unheard, or a time when she finds even herself compromising.
BD: Horror always seems to be about the core elements of escapism, loss of control, and a certain dose of history. “Burning Fields” has Dana returning to the military where she was dishonorably discharged, a return to her past, but what is she running away from?
TD: Mike gave Dana an amazing line of dialogue from Issue #3 that I think perfectly summarizes her plight, “Running from, running towards…it’s all the same to me these days.” My father-in-law describes this phenomena as the “mirror maze”– when the truth and the lie, the reality and the fiction merge and it’s impossible to discern between the two any more. We end up groping for anything we might think will rescue us from ourselves and that’s a deadly trap in itself. Dana’s been lost in the maze for a while by the time we meet her…she might not be running so much as searching for a wrecking ball to shatter the whole damned thing.
BD: Can you tell me anything about the mythic horror she unleashes?
TD: Since Burning Fields is set in the Middle East we have employed an ancient Mesopotamian myth from the region. The more we researched it, the more it yielded all manner of gruesome and outlandish possibilities for the story. So, it became more about stripping the myth to its core and weaving those elements into the story. To be clear, Dana’s not responsible for this happening and neither is Aban, who is equally important to discerning exactly what is transpiring in the area surrounding the oil field of Kirkuk.
BD: With “Curse” you worked with our expectations of the genre and the creature lore and actively defied them to create the most interesting take on a horror staple I’ve seen in a while. Are you aiming to do something similar in “Burning Fields” or are you creating your own mythology?
TD: Having found an avenue to explore in the very familiar and well-worn werewolf mythology of Curse was serendipitous. With Burning Fields, we’re presenting something very few people may have knowledge of, certainly I was not before embarking on this story, and that gives us a relatively blank canvas to fill. By the time Burning Fields comes to a close, we hope readers will see that we have done something very fresh with a horror convention that is in fact, regardless of the origin of the myth, actually very familiar.
MM: I think reinvention is a funny, though salient, term. The example I always use is Swamp Thing, how Alan Moore stripped that character down to its barest parts and tweaked the angle just a touch to give us something familiar but new at the same time. That’s what we did with Curse, taking the werewolf myth and boiling to the foundations of control (or lack thereof) and animalistic tendencies.
Burning Fields, on the other hand, is a totally different beast—I agree with Tim. It’s essentially a monster story. And what makes monster stories most terrifying? It’s that the monsters we fight are, for the most part, the ones that we create. We make monsters, thinking we can control them…until one day we can’t. It’s the monster that’s in control and, somehow, most of us don’t even notice. That’s Burning Fields.
BD: What’s it like to be working with Colin again? How much influence does he have on the story?
TD: Colin is a consummate story-teller who is vastly underrated in the field. He also happens to be a thorough professional. No matter what we script, he’s making decisions that not only execute the story perfectly, but up the ante on almost every single page. Hopefully, one of these days we can do a script-to-page process feature that will reveal just how good he truly is in crafting a page.
MM: I can’t say enough good things about Colin. He’s a pro’s pro, a workhorse, talented as can be, and a terrific man. I love our rapport, being able to write scripts and see his work as I go; it enables some great ideas and makes the process so smooth. He’s an underrated storyteller and artist—it’s hard to find someone with the prowess, and dedication, he possesses.
BD: What is your collaborative process like as a co-writing team?
TD: We’ve figured out the nuts and bolts – divide responsibilities, conquer tasks, draft outlines and scripts, revise, draft, revise, meld. But now, more than ever, Mike and I are challenging each other on the art side of the process. There’s no cheats. Neither of us will allow the other to rest on our laurels or skate through a scene or even single line of dialogue for that matter. It’s beautifully brutal. What’s truly rewarding is that moment when we hit upon something we know is working and the energy level pumps up past ten on the gauge. I dig that more than anything, because I know were doing what we do for one reason, the pure appreciation for storytelling.
MM: I think that’s the big thing, the aspect of upping our game. In an industry where so many jobs are won by reasons other than merit, Tim and I—and I’m patting us on the back, I know—have spent more effort polishing our craft, not our personas. Look, we’re both good enough guys (sort of), but all we really care about is growing as writers and delivering on the promise we make to each and every reader to deliver a story worth the price of admission. Everything else is just noise. With that shared goal, we’re able to hone and do what needs to be done for the story and nothing else.
BD: What are you most terrified of with “Burning Fields”? What parts of your own fears are on the page?
TD: Private military companies…I’m really uncomfortable with entities that operate seemingly outside or above the widely acknowledged covenant of military practice and accountability. There is definitely a “who’s watching the watchmen” feel to the entire enterprise of a privatized military. Ultimately, it seems like it’s only a matter of time before one of them (or several) obtain enough power to thumb their noses at the United States because it’s just too difficult to keep ideology pure when you introduce profit margins. Then we’ll find ourselves fighting ourselves and that’s civil war…that’s terrifying.
MM: Everything Tim said, plus my own fears about doing justice to a very, very delicate situation. We both did so much research and studying to making sure the book is as authentic as possible, specific to this place in the world. We studied Kirkuk, the Qur’an, local customs, regional news as it broke, and the history of private military companies. This is, to say the least, a heavily researched book. And I’m proud of that, but also fearful. I don’t want to come off as cavalier or insincere because, yes, while we are trying to get it right with all the legwork we’ve done, this is still popcorn entertainment. What’s happened in Kirkuk and other similar places is very real; the terrible things done by private military mercs are endless. I think we’re being as mindful as can be, though I fear there will be that person who calls us out on inaccuracies or insensitivity.
BD: What are your favorite horror movies? What inspired “Burning Fields” the most, and where did the idea come from?
MM: The Thing, without question, is all over Burning Fields. I love that movie, first and foremost, but I also love the idea of this sickness, this virus, that is psychological more than anything. It’s a disease that compromises who you are as a person. And that’s a point I was getting to earlier—we’re supporting troops in these PMCs, and these war corporations are, without question, no effing good. They’re not. They go in and they poison wherever they go and, in turn, sully our own souls with their motivations (war for profit) and actions. And, of course, there’s something more concrete happening in Burning Fields about an evil being awakened and that evil spreading wherever it goes.
TD: A partial and ever changing list of favorite horror films: The Mist. The Thing. The Conjuring. The Descent. You’re Next. Frankenstein. The Wolf-Man. The Hunger. Monsters.
Burning Fields germinated with Mike. He sent me a three sentence email. I loved it immediately and responded to the idea. A few days later it was still stuck in my head, rattling around and taking form. Assembling itself. I sent Mike back a revision, adding on a piece or two and off we went. He responded in kind with even more detail and one such note was the location of the story – Kirkuk. Amazingly, he was throwing a dart at the map and we then discovered to our amazement that this place has been in almost constant conflict for the better part of a century as a hotly contested, oil-rich region of Northern Iraq. In fact, he just topped himself last week when he sent me a one word email. And that’s started us down a new path for what hopefully becomes our next project… My personal list of Burning Fields ingredients: The Thing, Jarhead, The Conjuring, The Descent, Zero Dark Thirty, The Hurt Locker and True Detective…
First, let me admit my bias: I love Rat Queens. I have the T-shirt, I did an interview with the creators on my own site, I drove up to New York for the D20 Burlesque Show, my phone autosuggests “Dave” when I type “Orc,” and I have a quarter sleeve tattoo. So it would be impossible to pretend that this review is an impartial one. However, as a (possibly insane, obsessive) fan, I love this series because it is great. It is well written, it is funny, it is beautiful. If it stopped being any of those things, you can bet I would have a problem with it. I’m not cutting this series any breaks, because I love it so much.
WRITTEN BY: Kurtis J. Wiebe
ART BY: Roc Upchurch
RELEASE: October 1, 2014
Reviewed By Katy Rex
All that said, oh my goodness. Issue #8, debuting on Oct 1, is mostly a Violet origin story. More than that, though, it hints at a Rat Queens origin story. Wait, you say. What about that cliffhanger? What do you mean, origin story? Sorry, folks. Kurtis J. Wiebe is fucking with you. And if you’re like me, you won’t even be mad about it. Sure, the issue after the “most epic cliffhanger to date” is a flashback, leaving you on the edge of your seat for another month. But this issue gives Violet more depth and character, it puts her temper into context, and it explains (at least a little) what the deal was with Barrie a few issues ago. Plus, it gives us the slightest little hint about the name “Rat Queens.”
Roc Upchurch, who apparently doesn’t want to have any free time, does the colors, the pencils, and the inks. The colors in this issue are phenomenal. There are panels, like the one below, where details like Barrie and Violet’s eyes speak volumes about siblinghood (the same eye color) and resentment. Some of the panels, however, suffer from a lack of detail. In contrast to the single page portrait of Vi on page 2, the following splash features inset panels with characters with no faces. This lack of detail isn’t present through most of the book, but it is slightly off-putting. On the other hand, the depth of detail in the shaving scene later makes the moment truly heartwarming.
If you’re trade-waiting on this series, you’re missing the letters page, which is your usual collection of cosplays, fan art, and love letters—but this issue, we get to see Kurtis’ new daughter, Willow Kate, and we get a recipe for a new “vomit inducing, blood poisoning [alcoholic] beverage,” dubbed “Betty’s Candy Coated Dreams.”
Be sure to pick this issue up today!
—Katy Rex writes comics analysis at endoftheuniversecomics.com, comicsbulletin.com, and bloody-disgusting.com. She also writes scholarly articles for various academic journals. She really likes butt jokes, dinosaurs, and killing psychos and midgets in Borderlands 2. She has a great sense of humor if you’re not an asshole. Twitter: @eotucomics Tumblr: katy-rex.tumblr.com Instagram: @katy_rex Email: email@example.com