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FEBRUARY 2004
Brian Keene Chills with GoGo at Dark Delicacies


KEENE EATS GOGO's BRAIN : NEWS AT ELEVEN

It’s Saturday and it’s lovely. Most Saturday’s at Dark Delicacies in Burbank, California you can find someone or another of the genre reading, signing, promoting and just generally out to meet and greet the fans. This is a place where horror celebrities go visit their other horror celebrity friends to say hello while they work. I guess it’s the same as when your friend stops by on your lunch break and makes you late going back…only I don’t think these people have to deal with quite that.

Today’s special zombie guest: Brian Keene. He is signing with author Karen Taylor, promoting vamp fiction Fangs and Angel Wings, and author J. Knight, sporting horror fiction Risen, which smells suspiciously like zombie fiction.

On the way to Burbank, my boyfriend’s phone rings and it’s something to do with work/school. Dang. There will be no beers after the signing as was planned, as he must take care of some kind of editing thing. Note to self: Take separate cars. Oh well, I think. A few words in my recorder, and signed book, and my work will be done for the day and I can go home content at a job well done.

We arrive and I promptly accost Keene, wishing I had some sort of laminated card, or gold badge, so that I could “flash my credentials.” We shook hands and then I dragged him outside, along with Del (of Del and Sue Howison, owners and operators of Dark Delicacies) to take pictures with Frank (the Frankenstein’s Monster that greets you outside.) Then, back inside for my exclusive scoop, asking all the hard-hitting questions that Dead Kev just plain forgot to ask (editor’s note – Hey now, I had to leave something for you to talk to him about).

Frankenstein's Monster Crashes the Party ZAGG: Top three zombie films.

BK: Top Three zombie films. Number one: Dawn of the Dead. Return of the Living Dead. 28 Days Later.

ZAGG: I can’t even harass you…

BK: (laughs) Would you concur?

ZAGG: I do. Okay, top three zombies.

BK: Bub. Got much love for Bub. I’ve got a soft spot for the Skipp & Spector zombies in the Night of the Living Dead remake, but only because they’re Skipp & Spector. And, the zombie in 28 Days Later, the first one you see when he goes into the church…

ZAGG: The Priest?

BK: No, before the priest…all the corpses…

ZAGG: The one with the open mouth?

BK: Yeah! That’s great. He made me jump out of my chair.

ZAGG: I concur.

BK: She concurs!

ZAGG: Okay, what’s the worst zombie movie you’ve ever seen?

BK: Oh god, what was the name of it? (pauses) Darkness.

ZAGG: I’ve never seen it.

BK: It’s horrible. I rented it with fellow author Geoff Cooper and Mike Oliveri…just something to do on a Saturday night…

ZAGG: Which is what you do every Saturday night.

BK: Yeah, you know…six-pack and a zombie movie. And we made it about fifteen minutes through it, it was that horrible.

ZAGG: I’m sorry. Have you seen House of the Dead?

BK: That would be a close second.

ZAGG: We watched that last night…

BK: (laughs) Oh god…

ZAGG: …did you notice there was a springboard as the zombie was launched into the air…?

BK: No!

ZAGG: …it was so blatant…the springboard was waving at you as the zombie went by…

BK: I didn’t see that!

ZAGG: It was bad…anyway…onward…what do you prefer, the zombie as entertainment or the zombie as social commentary?

BK: Always as entertainment first, however, if there’s social commentary underlying, I don’t mind it at all.

ZAGG: Do you think the zombie is a good vehicle for social commentary?

BK: Oh, I think the zombie’s a great vehicle. Well, Romero’s done it three times, and each time he’s used the zombie to represent something different. More recently, 28 Days Later the zombie was used to represent the rage that all of us have, you know, in our modern, SUV-driving, self-owned society. I don’t think you should set out to have it represent that though. With The Rising, people have told me there’s some socio-political underlying themes. And there probably are, but I did it subconsciously. All I did was set out to tell a kick-ass tale.

ZAGG: Which I enjoyed very much.

BK: Thank you.

ZAGG: What are your plans for a zombie outbreak?

BK: (laughs) I’ve got a little cabin in West Virginia, so the first thing I would do is load up the truck, the dog, the guns, groceries, the wife…

ZAGG: Your wife is down here on the list, I see…

BK: (laughs) I gotta make sure the dog, the guns and the groceries fit first! Honey, I’m kidding! You know I love you! I would head to the cabin and I would barricade ourselves inside, and I would make sure there was enough ammunition for me and the wife and the dog just in case.

ZAGG: As in your book, are you expecting some zombie animals as well?

BK: Oh yeah. I think it’ll be everybody, including zombie animals.

ZAGG: What would you do if somebody close to you turned into a zombie, not close as in I am close to you right now, but close as in…your dog, is close to you?

BK: A Romero zombie or a 28 Days Later zombie?

ZAGG: You know, any kind of zombie…whatever zombie you imagine first.

BK: Romero zombie…I’d put them out of their misery. 28 Days Later zombie, I’d go with the original ending to the movie that never got filmed. In the storyboards, they were going to give him a blood transfusion, turn him back to normal. Probably wouldn’t work though, so I’d end up shooting them, too.

ZAGG: So, what’s scarier? A zombie modeled after Michael Jackson, or one modeled after Lou Reed?

BK: Oh god! Well, Lou Reed is a zombie, isn’t he?

ZAGG: Well…yeah.

Buy the Book! BK: A zombie modeled after Michael Jackson.

ZAGG: We’ll have to suggest that to someone for another movie.

BK: (laughs) Yeah!

ZAGG: Okay, now, if you had a “Bub” of your very own, what would you teach him?

BK: To eat with a napkin on his lap. Proper use of the salad fork over the dinner fork.

ZAGG: Anything else?

BK: (thinks) To chew with his mouth closed.

ZAGG: That, I think, would be most important.

BK: Yes.

ZAGG: Now, this is most important to me…

BK: Okay…

ZAGG: Would you really run over a zombie kitty with an SUV?

BK: Oh hell yes!

ZAGG: **stares in shock**

BK: If it was a zombie kitty! (pauses) If it was a kitty kitty.

ZAGG: **Gasp!**

BK: No, I own three cats.

ZAGG: By the way, that was my favorite part of the book, as, I love kitties and I love zombies…

BK: Zombie kitties!

ZAGG: Exactly. Where else would I find zombie kitties? Okay, now the Zombie Top Five Quick Questions.

BK: Okay.

1. Fast or slow zombies. Your preference?

BK: Fast.

2. Fresh or rotting zombies?

BK: Rotting.

3. Eating flesh, or just brains?

BK: Flesh.

4. Voodoo, or virus, etc?

BK: Virus.

5. Smart or dumb?

BK: Smart.

ZAGG: That’s it! Thank you very much!

BK: Awesome! Quick and painless!

Then there were more photos taken. A “nice” shot, but then he tried to eat my brain and before I could flail and sissy slap him away…Click! Flash! Frozen forever in time.

Keene Takes a Lunch Break After the informal interview, I skulked around the store, half looking for people to harass, half shopping. I spotted a toy hearse that when you pressed the skull down on the hood, a casket popped out of the back. In the casket, you either found a vampire, a mummy, a skeleton, or a zombie. I used to have the whole set. As I sighed nostalgically, I heard Keene goading a friend into talking to me, and despite what you may have heard, Brian Keene is nice and as gentle as a lamb (expect when he’s trying to eat your brain, and if that’s the case, he’s vicious, like a wild dog). After another second or two of standing around like an idiot, I approached Weston Ochse, horror writer (co-authoring Scary Rednecks and Other Inbred Horrors with David Whitman, also the sequel Appalachian Galapagos: A Scary Rednecks Collection), husband of Yvonne Navarro (author of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and the upcoming novelization of Hellboy) and friend of Keene. He was kind enough to throw the following my way.

“Brian Keene has written the quintessential zombie novel. This is what happens when somebody’s able to put on paper what they see on television with the best of Dawn of the Dead, everything George Romero, etc. It’s a very visual novel. What he does, more than all of us, is that he knows ways to promote himself, ways to do things that I would never think of. You know, we just follow along behind him.”

He asked me what I liked about The Rising, to which I replied, well, the action. The hot zombie action. It was unrelenting. He went on to tell the following story.

“Brian got a fan letter the other day, from a good ol’ boy, someone who doesn’t read much. Somebody who, when they saw the book was about zombies, it was enough to get them to read the book. The guy said he read the book in 36 hours. He missed his Friday night poker game. He missed his time out with the boys and he said when he finally finished it, he went outside, smoked a cigarette and he noticed a rabbit sittin’ in the yard lookin’ at him. And he couldn’t help but wonder if that rabbit was alive or if that rabbit was dead.”

I asked if the man stomped the suspected zombie bunny, but he said no. The way the man ended the letter, it seemed he was too afraid. I expressed how impressive that really is, as I am from South Western Pennsylvania, and I probably know that man. A man like that is hard to put the heebie-jeebies into. I pried Ochse further, who claimed to know the entire history of Brian Keene, but when pressed for stalking tips, he wouldn’t budge. Not even for a dollar. Not even for the chance to run down a zombie kitty.

--------

For Brian Keene, please visit: www.briankeene.com
For more Weston Ochse, please visit: www.westonochse.com
For more Yvonne Navarro, please stop by: www.yvonnenavarro.com
Dark Delicacies info: www.darkdel.com


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