Archive | September, 2010

Hidden Talents – Singing

24 Sep

Many of our favourite TV stars can do more than act and sometimes get the opportunity to put their other talents to good use. This week I’ll focus on those that showed off singing voices that we were just not expecting. I won’t be including musical episodes – that’s a topic for another day!

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We’ll start with one that knocked my nerdy little socks off  just yesterday – Jeri Ryan. I believe she had sang in things before Star Trek: Voyager, but hearing Seven of Nine’s sweet – if too flawless – rendition of You Are My Sunshine is really something else. I had no idea she had such a beautiful voice. It’s made even better by the accompaniment by Ricard Picardo as The Doctor.

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Christina Hendricks is already utter perfection – that’s just plain fact – but she can sing too. And play the accordion. Her performance of C’est Magnifique! in season 3 of Mad Men was nothing short of enchanting.

(I’ve been searching for this video for months and it’s finally up! All the more rewarding to watch)

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Sadly, Eliza Dushku missed her chance to belt out a power ballad on Buffy, but redemption came in the form of Dollhouse. Her version of the aptly named Freedom is stunning. Eliza definitely broke new ground for herself as an actor in Dollhouse.

(Sorry, best video I could find but the song is fairly clear)

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Man, I miss Ally McBeal! It was a great show with weekly singing from some awesome people, and who’s more awesome than Iron Man himself, Robert Downey Jr.? This one in particular, River, is just wonderful.

Also, high praise for James Marsden and his golden pipes – but I couldn’t find any videos of him on McBeal, so you’ll have to settle for Robert, I suppose.

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Rose McGowan has a gorgeous voice, very old Hollywood which suits her down to the ground! Charmed was known for it’s weekly musical appearance at P3 but in this episode it was Paige’s turn to burn up the closing scene with Fever.

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Next time I’ll be looking at those stars that can shake a tailfeather!

Supernatural Frightfest: Top 8

23 Sep

When I settled in for my first day, many of which would follow, of Supernatural I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had only seen an episode or two before that and had hardly paid attention. But I had been given the season one boxset as a present and I’m not one to turn down a gift – especially when it promises otherworldly shenanigans and nommy actors to boot!

Having grown up watching Buffy and Angel, where I was only majorly freaked out every now and then, I didn’t think Supernatural would seep into my subconscious. Yeah, I was wrong. On that first viewing I watched up to ‘Hookman’, I believe. That may have been a tad too much to start with because suddenly my already paranoid midnight trip to the kitchen was worsened by my overactive imagination.  I did not anticipate this reaction from a CW show, home to One Tree Hill and Gossip Girl. It isn’t afraid to scare the audience and push the horror a little further. And there’s some gore and other icky stuff for a healthy balance. That’s where this post comes in. I was pondering the most unnerving episodes of Supernatural and came up with a few of them. So, here’s my top eight (yes, just to be awkward), all uniquely unsettling like weird little snowflakes.

We’ll start off the way I did with the pilot. This was a great opener. It set up the characters and their back story very well while giving us a taste of its creepy potential. The pilot focused on the story of the Woman in White who appears by the roadside asking the unfortunate driver to bring her home. As expected, bad times ensue. Why so spooky? Woman in a white dress appearing by the road, oh, and she flickers! I won’t spoil the ending, but her tale is a sad one and doesn’t end without a chill or two.

Technically, ‘The Benders’ was the very first episode I ever seen. I was at a sleepover, as us gals tend to be, and one or two of the others loved it and followed the show. At that point I had only heard snippets about it and hadn’t given it the time of the day. Anyway, we gathered around the television and watched the crazy hillybilly family hunt and trap their unsuspecting victims – people. I remembered very little of it, except that at one point they were in cages and the twisted brood were one freaky mess of genes. When I watched it again on my first Supernatural marathon I wondered how I’d not paid proper attention to it. It’s one of those Wrong Turn feeling stories where you know the creeps can’t be reasoned with. Plus, people can be the most dangerous of all villains.

‘Everybody Loves A Clown’… No they do not. Most of us loved them when were little but have grown up to see them as pretty terrifying. For me, they will always give me goosebumps having seen Stephen King’s IT at quite a young age. Okay, so not all clowns are raving psycho killers, but the one in this episode is. It uses the children to get into their homes at night and not to entertain with balloon animals! As always, the story isn’t as straight forward as ‘bad clown, clown die now’, but any usage of those greasepainted carnies promises unhappy goings-on.

Foreboding family portraits are used to their fullest in ‘Provenance’ when the brothers are on the trail of a painting that seems to bring a horrific end to all that possess it. The painting alone is mighty creepsome but when the figures start moving around it’s time out for me.

‘Playthings’ has a few of the scare-factor staples. Strange little girl, check. Imaginary friend, check. Seemingly haunted inn, check. Dolls, double check! The boys are on the case but whatever evil force lies behind it all is hard to uncover. You can see from the list above that the options are plenty and, my God, are they eerie.

From my experience, in shows such as this saying ‘The Kids Are Alright’ is almost always a lie. Supernatural features its fair share or strange and menacing little children but this one takes the cake. Dean goes to visit an ex-girlfriend only to be met by her eight year old son, who bears a resemblance to our Mr. Winchester. So, of course, when he goes missing, just as other kids in the town have been, the brothers stop at nothing to save him. Now for the scary part – yep, you guessed it – something’s not quite right with the children. Certain clips of those freaky little ‘uns will certainly stay in your head for a while…

In ‘Family Remains’, Sam and Dean investigate stories of a ghostly appearance of a girl in an abandoned house. This is one of those great episodes where all is not what it seems. Of course, the true plot is unclear in most of the stories but this one has a doosey of a twist. And a horrifying one at that.

‘Bloody Mary’. This legend has been utilised in countless movies and television shows. We know it. It’s creepy as hell. And, like all great horror stories, it makes us uncomfortable about doing everyday things like looking in a mirror. This episode was one of the show’s firsts and scared the ever-loving out of me. I had to cover my eyes at several points. I’m not going to get into it too much, just watch it… or, y’know, don’t.

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And there you have it. I tiptoed around spoilers in hopes that you might check out Supernatural for yourself. Granted, it’s gotten less so about the weekly weirdos and focuses more on the Heaven and Hell struggle, but the old episodes are definitely worth a watch. Some deserve repeated viewings, in fact.  Just be cautious when you cuddle up alone on some rainy night that you’re ready to face the things that go bump in the Winchesters’ world.

Hollywood Music Videos – A round-up

22 Sep

Actors act. Music videos often tell stories wherein people act out the parts. It was pretty obvious the two worlds were going to collide from day one. There have been so many cameos as well as more integral, movie-like characters played by some of the biggest names in Hollywood. I could have listed more but that way madness lies, so here’s a few choice picks.

Before we get started, my first video would have been Breaking Bells’ The Ghost Inside with the uber fantastic Christina Hendricks, but I can’t for the life of me find the video again! If you find it, watch, enjoy and for the love of Joss, link me up! 🙂

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Fall Out BoyThis Ain’t A Scene, It’s An Arms Race

We’ll start the ball rolling with a delightful cameo from Seth Green & Michelle Trachtenberg.

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Elton JohnI Want Love

The perfect video for any Robert Downey Jr. fan. Plus it’s a good song.

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Green DayWake Me Up When September Ends

Oh, God, I remember crying so much the first time I watched this. Jamie Bell & Evan Rachel Wood star as the young lovers.

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DidoWhite Flag

A lovely video of Dido stalking David Boreanaz. Or is she? (Yes, she is).

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KornA.D.I.D.A.S.

Korn score major point for having one of the coolest cameos, Carel ‘Lurch’ Struycken.

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FergieBig Girls Don’t Cry

This video is played muchly by me for the Milo Ventimiglia goodness. Once she leaves, just stop watching – he’s not in it again and the song is played a second time. Oy!

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Britney SpearsEverytime

Yes, a Britney video. But it’s worth it for Stephen Dorff.

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Michael JacksonRemember The Time

Michael Jackson videos were just the best around, and known for all their spiffy cameos. This is one of my favourites with Eddie Murphy.

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Enrique InglesiasHero

You will all most likely know this one since it was played to death! It’s still good to watch for Jennifer Love Hewitt & Mickey Rourke though.

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AerosmithCryin’

Oh, how I wanted to be Alicia Silverstone when I was growing up…

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Tom Petty & The HeartbreakersInto The Great Wide Open

Very good video and song, heavy on the Johnny Depp.

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Stone Temple PilotsSour Girl

We had Angel, now it’s Buffy’s turn. The video would have been perfect with Weiland and Sarah Michelle Gellar, but the freaky teletubbies….?

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Limp BizkitEat You Alive

I almost forgot about this one. Thora Birch is kinda crazy as usual, but I love her. I fell into the Pullman-Paxton trap.. Someone wrongly stated that it has Bill Pullman, but it’s Paxton. Disappointing for me, but there’s still Thora.

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P. Diddy & Notorious B.I.GVictory

One of those ‘could be a movie’ music videos with Danny DeVito & Dennis Hopper (RIP).

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Fatboy SlimWeapon Of Choice

How could I finish this roundup with anything other than Christopher Walken being seven kinds of awesome!

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Any of your favourites I skipped over?

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Updated to include..

Udo Kier, Bridgette Nielsen & Shannyn Sossamon in Korn‘s Make Me Bad. How on Earth did I let that one get away from me!

The Crossover Kings & Queens of the Whedonverse

21 Sep

With the magnificent reputation that precedes him, it’s no wonder actors choose to work with Joss Whedon time after time. Sure, we may have been a bit confused watching Buffy and Angel week to week and spotting the same guy play two different characters – or maybe I was just paying too close attention – but it was nice to see the loyalty they held to the Great and Powerful Joss.  There have been many overlaps, these are just a few of the repeat offenders. (There’s some potential spoilers ahead, so be warned).

Nathan Fillion was the scary preacher man Caleb in the final series of Buffy, the world’s most egocentric superhero Captain Hammer in Dr. Horrible’s Sing-A-Long Blog and lest we not forget everyone’s favourite grumpy Captain, Malcolm Reynolds in Firefly.

Eliza Dushku added a boatload of attitude to both Buffy and Angel as the rogue slayer Faith and showed the world her versatility as Echo in Dollhouse.

Andy Umberger. I learned this name early in life from his recurring role as D’Hoffryn in Buffy. He’s known for playing the not so nice characters with his appearances in Angel as Dr. Meltzer, who couldn’t quite keep it together, and the Captain of the Dortmunder in Firefly.

Julia Lee had two spots in Buffy, as Chantarelle and Lily/Anne. The latter character, renamed Anne Steele, also showed up in Angel for a short run.

Felicia Day kicked ass as potential Vi in Buffy, sang her heart out in Dr. Horrible’s Sing-A-Long Blog as Penny and kept it real – or ‘Actual’ – with Mag in Dollhouse.

Alexis Denisof made a name for himself as Westley Wyndam-Price in Buffy before reinventing his Watcher in Angel. He went on to star in Dollhouse as Senator Daniel Perrin.

Carlos Jacott is one of my all time favourite Whedonverse guest stars. His Richard Straley tried to marry Doyle’s ex in Angel (and eat his brains), then there was the ill fated Dobson in Firefly. And who could forget the seemingly lovely Ken in Buffy – not to mention her Ghandi impression.

All Jacott’s bad guys appeared absolutely harmless, unlike Jeff Ricketts’ villains. You may remember him as one of the much talked about Blue Glove Men in Firefly and Weatherby, one of the Watchers’ special agents sent after Faith, in both Buffy and Angel. He also played a Spider Monster later in Angel. See? Evil.

Summer Glau made her television debut as a Prima Ballerina in Angel and followed Joss on to Dollhouse as Bennett Halverson. Of course, we’re all well acquainted with her mysterious, and a mite crazy, River Tam in Firefly.  

The loveable Amy Acker won our hearts as shy Fred in Angel before shocking us all in Dollhouse with her portrayal as Dr. Saunders and Whiskey. 

Remember Tracey in Firefly? Forgive me for getting wistful, but that was a sad episode. Well, that was Jonathan M. Woodward, who also showed up in Angel as the nerdy Knox and Buffy as  nostalgic vampire Holden Webster. 

I’d be remiss if I were to leave out Tom Lenk and his early Buffy appearance as Cyrus, one of Harmony’s minions. It’s a rather fun one to watch after his run as Andrew, who popped over to Angel for two episodes.

You may not remember Bob Fimiani, but he deserves a spot on the list since he was one of the original five (with Jacott, Umberger, Ricketts and Woodward) to have appeared in all of Joss’ tv shows (pre-Dollhouse). If the show gets picked up again, Joss willing, he’ll have his chance to get back on the leaderboard. Fiamani can be seen as Mr. Ward in Buffy, Elder Gommen in Firefly and both a grounds keeper and Codger Demon in Angel.

Two very honourable mentions come in the form of Jeff Kober and Brian Thompson. Now, these guys never left the land of Buffy but both sat through hours of make-up (something they’re known for) to bring you Luke and The Judge (Thompson) as well as Rack and Zackary Kralik (Kober).

Ever think you’d see Firefly’s Jayne Cobb suit up?  Well, just check out Adam Baldwin’s super strong Marcus Hamilton in Angel

He may only have Dollhouse’s Alpha and Firefly’s Wash under his Whedon belt, but come on, those are two of the greatest characters ever. So, I’ll finish up here with the wonderful Alan Tudyk!

I’m sure I’ve left out some. If you know any I missed, leave me a comment so I can see the error of my ways.

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Updated to include:

Gina Torres as tough as nails Zoe in Firefly and the irresistible Jasmine in Angel.

Yarrrr!

19 Sep

Ahoy, there matey! I take it ye be knowing what day be today – Talk Like A Pirate Day a’course. All ye landlubbers can play Buccaneer and talk like a real pirate! If ye be needing any help, I’ve pillaged the briney deep for the best of the lot.

Blackbeard the Pirate
Maynard, lookin’ for a reward, poses as ship’s surgeon t’see whether Morgan is still servin’ under ol’ Blackbeard. Then there be Edwina Mansfield on board. I don’t believe she be a damsel in distress, though.

Buccaneer’s Girl
For all ye wenches, here’s one for you. Do-gooder pirate, Baptiste, only takes his loot from the ships of Narbonne, a rich and evil trader. Part of his takings be Debbie, a stowaway who a’course falls for him. This tale is set on the seas and back on land in New Orleans.

A High Wind in Jamaica
Some little ones are mistakenly taken when a ship bringing the children to the safety of England is boarded by pirates. One of the scamps even becomes close with the cap’n., Chavez. The crew aren’t so happy with the set up but tragedy stops them unloading the brats.
 

The Island
Modern day pirates are nothing next to the traditional corsairs but still pirates. A reporter sets out to see why so many vacation boats have disappeared in the Caribbean. They don’t dispose of him, instead they let him join their wiry crew.

Muppet Treasure Island
Aye, this tale be a fierce one set on the high seas. Songs, dancing, doubloons and muppets. It may not be what Robert Louis Stevenson had in mind, but it’s a classic. Kermit the Frog and his crew fare against a band of ruthless pirates. It also has one of me own favourites, Long John Silver.

Mutiny on the Bounty
A Midshipman, Roger, joins the HMS Bounty for a voyage to Tahiti, where the Cap’n. turns out to be a brutal tyrant. After six months at their destination, crewman Christian organises a mutiny that Roger wants no part of. That’s a good lad.

Peter Pan (1953)
The story of the boy that never grew up and his adventures in Neverland. Peter and his cast of runaways are always battling against the wicked Captain Hook. Even me black pirate heart is touched by this one.

Pirates of the Caribbean
The series that brought pirates back to the big screen. High-flyin’, explosive action and ghostly crews all the way from Davey Jones’ locker. And who could resist Jack Sparrow, the loveable drunk. 

Pirates of Penzance  (1983)
Based on Gilbert and Sullivan’s comic operetta, this yarn follows Frederick, the Pirate King and the not so typically brutal leader of the Pirates of Penzance. Bein’ who he is, trouble abounds when he falls in love with the sweet Mabel. This one is filled with chanteys and dancing t’keep ye entertained. 

Yellowbeard
A funny one. Yellowbeard is freed from prison just so he’ll lead those in power to his treasure – the scurvy lot! An adventure follows with parties from all over racing to get the loot. The cast alone makes it worth coming in to port to see.

The Princess Bride
Heroes. Giants. Villains. Wizards. True Love. – Not just your basic, average, everyday, ordinary, run-of-the-mill, ho-hum fairy tale. Throw in pirates, magic, epic battles, revenge and everythin’ that makes a great story. This’ll be found at the top of any good movie list.

Treasure Island  (1950)
The most famous of all seafaring tales, and this ol’ Disney film is sure t’lift yer spirits.

And for ye lookin’ to learn a few things, there’s the documentaries Pirates: Passion and Plunder and True Caribbean Pirates.

Now, go spread the pirate word or ye’ll be walkin’ the plank at the end of me cutlass!

‘Touch Me, I’m Sick’ – Tom Reynolds

17 Sep

Over the years music has taught us much about the world of romance. Love is strange. It’s all around but you can’t buy it. It may even tear us apart. People may just call to say they love you. It’s all you need and it’s a many splendored thing. There’s special categories of it – baby, young, secret, endless, puppy. I’ve even encountered love hangovers and and rollercoasters. However, the further you delve into these songs of the heart you find that love can be plain creepy.

 There may be one or two songs you’ve heard and thought, “wait a second, that ain’t right..”. Well, there’s a lot more where that came from and Tom Reynolds takes a look at 52 of the weirdest in his 2007 release, ‘Touch Me, I’m Sick’.

The book is divided into chapters, each one focusing on specialised areas of disturbing love. Among these are Hopelessly Devoted To You, an homage to those obsessive stalker hits, I’m Not Bitter, I Just Wish You’d Die, You Miserable Pig, dedicated to angry female singer-songwriters, and All In The Family, yes, folks, today’s topic is incest. Each song description is broken down into an introduction and some general information about the musician, song, how he came across it or why he chose it. Reynolds then moves on to detail the song lyrically, musically and contextually, before going on to explain why it’s deemed creepy. This is great for those songs you may not have heard or know much about. A song can sound perfectly harmless until you learn that the band’s drummer would later go a little crazy and kill his mother with an axe. Or even just reading someone else’s interpretation of the words. You just can’t listen to that tune the same way. Since it is such an odd genre of song and it features a large countdown of them, there is going to be a few you don’t know. I found it quite useful to have Youtube open while reading so I could listen and check out the videos.

Reynolds has a wicked sense of humour and a great way with words. I laughed so many times while reading the book – holding this book and smiling gets you an odd look or two if they can see the cover, let me tell you. He’s brutally honest when he doesn’t like something and ridicules his fair share of musicians and songs. In fairness, some of the tracks and stories they tell are unforgivably awful. On the other hand, I got hooked on some great songs thanks to his careful choices, like There’s A Light That Never Goes Out by The Smiths (but his description was funny and sarcastic as hell) and everyone’s favourite German industrial metallers, Rammstein, with Marry Me (Heirate Mich).

When he explores a song you’re given a totally new outlook on it. For instance, I will not be able to listen to Fergalicious by Fergie, or Millie’s My Boy Lollipop again for a while. Sometimes we see the innuendo in a song but choose to ignore it. Reynolds, however, makes well sure you notice it. He also has had a long love affair with music and is more than capable of explaining the all the technical stuff without boring those less informed.

I know of two editions – I have the one pictured – but I’m not sure if the other is illustrated. They are done by the same artist as the cover above, Stacey Earley, and serve as introductions to what each section has in store for you. As I said before, reading this while around other people will garner you a few concerned glances, and that’s just from the cover’s Say Anything inspired drawing. Inside there are beautifully twisted pieces with blow-up dolls, butterflies trapped in jars, bunny threats and those scary guitar-wielding songstresses.

‘Touch Me, I’m Sick’ is an easy read, I say that without taking away from the quality of the book. Reynolds writes in a way that’s easy to follow without ever being too simple. He’s cheekily informal, autobiographical, a commentator on society and informative all at the same time. If you do read it and want more there’s always his previous offering, ‘I Hate Myself and Want to Die: The 52 Most Depressing Songs You’ve Ever Heard’. I’m yet to get my hands on a copy but if this is anything to go by, it won’t disappoint.

Now, go and think about what that terribly romantic song you were just listening to really means.

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5 unwanted love notes out of 5.

Whatever Happened to Baron von Shock?

16 Sep

 Rob Zombie is known for many things. First and foremost, he is a heavyweight in the world of rock music. If you listen to any of his albums or watch his music videos, his passion for all things horror becomes obvious – if his name wasn’t enough already. Many of his songs feature excerpts from or references to classic films. So, a venture into moviemaking seemed like a natural progression for Zombie. His early projects, House of a Thousand Corpses and The Devil’s Rejects, generated a hefty cult following. His decision to remake the seminal Halloween series was met with both glee and grumbles of its imminent failure. I’m yet to see it for myself – having switched it off after ten minutes due to a serious case of the wiggins – but even within my circle there’s drastic differences of opinion. So, what else is on his already impressive resumé? Rob Zombie: comic book writer, of course. Having already penned ‘Spookshow International’ and ‘The Haunted World of El Superbeasto’, among others, this wasn’t unchartered territory for the heavy metal giant. His latest series is the rather intriguingly titled ‘Whatever Happened to Baron von Shock?’.

The story follows the title’s namesake, a.k.a. Leon Stokes, on his rise to and fall from fame in the callous world of Hollywood. He begins as a simple nobody working at a television station. When their resident horror host, Uncle Spooky, quits and leaves the station in the lurch it’s left up to Stokes to take over. Enter Baron von Shock.

Volume one tells the story of his ascension to stardom, all the while being narrated by his future self. We know this story isn’t going to end well, he told us so ourselves – it’s even in the forboding title. But also, this is just how things go in La-La Land. It builds you up and offers you everything on a silver platter, the world is at your feet. Before you can order a second round of Cristal you’re yesterday’s news. Zombie has said that this recurring event of Hollywood taking in bright-eyed hopefuls and leaving them jaded and forgotten was very much his inspiration behind Baron. And we’re taken along for the whole debauched ride with Stokes. It’s like a wonderful train wreck.

In the second volume, it’s all gone terribly wrong. Here lies Baron von Shock’s career. We’re skipped ahead a lot in the story, over the years of his regretful and miserable life, to bring us to an old, washed up Stokes. Some horrific news reaches him which he wants to set about fixing. There’s some old friends as well as new in this issue, and some comedic torment from his mother.

The series oozes Zombie. There’s horror, sex, drugs, shock’n’roll – and strippers’o’plenty. Donny Hadiwidjaja is the man behind the artwork and he does a mervellous job documenting the tragic events of poor Stokes’ life. The comic is very colourful for such a dark story. It adds to the unreal feeling of what we’re reading. As for the writing, the dialogue is witty and suited to each character very well. They all feel quite real, except for Stokes’ alter-ego who is more suited to the fantasy we’d expect from Zombie. The change from one to the other in volume one was interesting to see. The Baron appears to have come out of nowhere once the camera started rolling. Plus, he’s pretty cool. I mean, who wouldn’t want a nifty catchphrase like “Shock it to me!”?

If you’re a fan of Zombie or any of the crazed antics I’ve mentioned above, this may be a comic worth checking out.

Volume 3 is now available to buy.

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