Episode 494: Lindsay Ellis!

Episode 494 of The Drunken Odyssey, your favorite podcast about creative writing and literature is available on Apple podcastsstitcher, spotify, or click here to stream (right click to download, if that’s your thing).

On today’s show, I talk to science fiction novelist Lindsay Ellis!

TEXTS DISCUSSED

NOTES

ScribophileTDO listeners can get 20% of a premium subscription to Scribophile. After using the above link to register for a basic account, go here while still logged in to upgrade the account with the discount.

Check out my literary adventure novel, Guy Psycho and the Ziggurat of Shame.


Episode 494 of The Drunken Odyssey, your favorite podcast about creative writing and literature is available on Apple podcastsstitcher, spotify, or click here to stream (right click to download, if that’s your thing).

Episode 493: TDO vs. The Curator of Schlock #7

Episode 493 of The Drunken Odyssey, your favorite podcast about creative writing and literature is available on Apple podcastsstitcher, spotify, or click here to stream (right click to download, if that’s your thing).

Photo by Leslie Salas

On this week’s show, Jeff Shuster and I discuss an underrated adaptation of a Clive Barker short story, the delicately-titled The Midnight Meat Train.

TEXTS DISCUSSED

NOTES

ScribophileTDO listeners can get 20% of a premium subscription to Scribophile. After using the above link to register for a basic account, go here while still logged in to upgrade the account with the discount.

Check out my literary adventure novel, Guy Psycho and the Ziggurat of Shame.


Episode 493 of The Drunken Odyssey, your favorite podcast about creative writing and literature is available on Apple podcastsstitcher, spotify, or click here to stream (right click to download, if that’s your thing).

The Curator of Schlock #374: Brain Damage

The Curator of Schlock #374 by Jeff Shuster.

Brain Damage

This is peak schlock. 

So I was being dragged out of my truck by a crazed mob in the town of Mooseville in the province of Saskatchewan. I guess they were a little angry over my being a few months late with a delivery that would have saved their town. Before I knew it, a ball gag was being stuffed in my mouth and my ears started ringing due to all the shouting. A malcontent with a pot belly and a hairy back stuck a cattle prof in my side and I was out cold. — To be continued.

This week’s Arrow Home Video release is 1988’s Brain Damage from director Frank Henenlotter. According to Wikipedia, this movie is about a young man becoming host to a “long, phallic parasite.” Yes, that is what this movie is about, but it is so much more. For instance, this particular parasite eats brains—human brains! Imagine that you’re going about your day and a long, phallic parasite launches himself to your forehead and sucks your brain out! Yikes. Not the way I’d want to go.

Our movie revolves around a young man named Brian (Rick Hearst) who’s a bit under the weather. When Brian wakes up from a troubled sleep, he feels something wriggling around his body. Finally, the parasite introduces himself. We learn his name is Alymer (voiced by John Zacherie) and he makes a proposal to Brian: he’ll make Brian’s life a wondrous experience if Brian takes him out for nightly strolls. Brian agrees. Alymar attaches himself to the back of Brian’s head, shoots some blue juice all over Brian’s brain, and Brian is high as a kite.

Seriously, Brian goes to a junkyard and starts seeing funky colors dancing off of all the stacked automobiles. He’s so entertained that he doesn’t really notice Alymer sucking the brains out of the nighttime security guard. Brian’s brother, Mike, and girlfriend, Barbara, notice that Brian is acting strange. When Brian takes Barbara out for a fancy dinner, he sees spaghetti and brainballs on his plate.

After Brian goes to a club in a brain-juice-induced super, he gets hot and heavy with one of the dancers. The two of them go to the back alley where she promptly gets her brains sucked out by the parasite. Brian gets confronted by his neighbor, Morris (Theo Barnes), about feeding Alymer human brains. Morris was the previous host of Alymer and only fed him animal brains. Morris tells Brian that Alymer has been passed from host to host for centuries. It doesn’t end well for the hosts.

Brian confronts Alymer and wants a separation. Alymer tells Brian that he won’t be able to survive the withdrawal from the brain juice. During Brian’s withdrawal, Alymer mocks him and even sings to him as Brian pukes all over the bathroom floor.

Unable to deal with the pain any longer, Brian allows the parasite to join with him again. This won’t work out for Brian or any that get in his way, but you’ll want to stick around for the explosive finale.

I know. I know. You would never watch a movie about a parasite that eats people. You say this as you wait in line to buy your ticket for Venom: Let There Be Carnage.


Photo by Leslie Salas.

Jeff Shuster (episode 47episode 102episode 124episode 131episode 284episode 441episode 442episode 443, episode 444episode 450, episode 477, episode 491, and episode 492) is an MFA graduate from the University of Central Florida.

Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #144: Oh, Spooks?

Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #144 by Drew Barth

Oh, Spooks?

Is it already the spooky season again? Is this also the second year in which this article has come out during the plague? Yes to both, but at least the former is a fun kind of scary instead of the existential terror of time’s continual march. And you know what else is more fun than creeping dread? Spooky comics. More specifically, spooky anthologies. Many of the best comics and creators began their lives in anthologies—some of those original ones were so spooky they had to create a code to tone them down since some people in the 50s were cowards. Anyway. Spooky anthologies are in comics’ DNA and having a new one in Are You Afraid of Darkseid? is a delight during this time of the year.

Centered around the Teen Titans telling campfire stories, Are You Afraid of Darkseid? is a collection of short pieces from the creepiest parts of the DC Universe. Encompassing everything from urban legends and folklore to cryptids and monsters to some more creeping horrors in the form of stairs and buildings, the Titans try to scare each other as much as they can to become closer as a team. And, honestly, the creepiness of these stories works incredibly well throughout. There is a piece on The Phantom Stranger and their role in the universe that feels like it was taken from some of the original 60s anthologies; another on Batman and the Mad Hatter that’s reminiscent of the “killer in the backseat” urban legend; and a story with Aquaman and Aqualad defending Ogopogo from the other creatures in Okanagen Lake.

While Are You Afraid of Darkseid? is a quality anthology, it does also ask why anthologies like this aren’t more common from many of the larger publishers. Although DC has been consistent in their seasonal anthologies and works like Batman: Black and White and Wonder Woman: Black and Gold, some of these series have been more recent developments and seasonal anthologies are just that—seasonal. We’re also seeing a proliferation of anthologies on Kickstarter that follow singular themes, but those are typically single issue works as well. Is there a space for longer-running anthologies in the same vein as Tales From the Crypt or House of Mystery in comics today? There are absolutely a wealth of creators out there looking to put their work into the world, but are seasonal anthologies and occasional Kickstarter work the only areas for them to publish their work to a broader audience?

I’ve talked about it multiple times in the past, but anthologies are the lifeblood of comics—these are where new talent can come and demonstrate the work they’re capable of. But how many publishers want to take on that risk anymore? Even these spookier anthologies are novelties for the season, but they point to a problem that there is a shrinking place for newer creators with larger publishers. And if comics can’t adapt to what readers want from these anthologies, there’s not much of a future for them.

Get excited. Get spooky.


Drew Barth at Miami Book Fair in 2019.

Drew Barth (Episode 331 & 485) is a writer residing in Winter Park, FL. He received his MFA from the University of Central Florida. Right now, he’s worrying about his cat.

Episode 492: TDO vs. The Curator of Schlock #6

Episode 492 of The Drunken Odyssey, your favorite podcast about creative writing and literature is available on Apple podcastsstitcher, spotify, or click here to stream (right click to download, if that’s your thing).

Photo by Leslie Salas.

On this week’s show, Jeff Shuster and I discuss an quietly beautiful independent movie from 2005 called The Devil’s Rejects. Jeff & I get off track a lot.

TEXTS DISCUSSED

NOTES

Scribophile

  • TDO listeners can get 20% of a premium subscription to Scribophile. After using the above link to register for a basic account, go here while still logged in to upgrade the account with the discount.
  • Check out Jeff’s column, The Curator of Schlock.
  • Check out my literary adventure novel, Guy Psycho and the Ziggurat of Shame.

Episode 491 of The Drunken Odyssey, your favorite podcast about creative writing and literature is available on Apple podcastsstitcher, spotify, or click here to stream (right click to download, if that’s your thing).

The Curator of Schlock #373: Vamp

The Curator of Schlock #373 by Jeff Shuster

Vamp

Grace Jones plays a vampire stripper. If that doesn’t sell you, what will?

Back to the story of how Edwige, my kangaroo traveling companion, and I barely escaped with our lives from the small town of Mooseville up in Canada. After some little twerp announced our presence to the town, an angry mob surrounded our truck and started battering it with clubs. A brick struck the windshield, cracking it thoroughly. I thought we could wait it out, but Edwige had forgotten to lock her passenger side door. Before I knew it, they had dragged Edwige out of the vehicle. I knew it wouldn’t be long before they grabbed me.

To be continued.

This week’s Arrow Home Video release is 1986’s Vamp from director Richard Wenk. Back in the 1980s, you had a whole slew of teenage vampire flicks such as The Lost Boys and Fright Night. You got kind of a mixture of comedy with the frights and Vamp carries on with this tradition. And you’ve got an interesting cast of Brat Pack alumni in this movie. You don’t get James Spader or Molly Ringwald, but you get their co-stars.

For instance, Chris Makepeace and Robert Rusley play a couple of frat pledges named Keith and AJ. You may know Chris Makepeace from such movies as Meatballs and My Bodyguard. Robert Rusley played a bully in Weird Science right alongside Robert Downey Jr. We’ve got Gedde Watanabe from Sixteen Candles as Duncan, a rich nerd desperate for friends. Lastly, we’ve got Dedee Pfeiffer as Amaretto, a cocktail waitress at an exotic strip club. Who is Dedee Pfeiffer? She’s Michelle Pfeiffer’s younger sister. Need I say more?

So we’ve got a couple of pledges named Keith and AJ trying to get into a fraternity. AJ offers the fraternity anything they want if they’ll let them join. The fraternity wants a stripper for a party they’re having that weekend. The two of them go to see Duncan, a friendless nerd with a lot of money. He’s so rich that he has a team of students doing his homework for him in his swank apartment. Keith and AJ ask if they can borrow his Cadillac and he agrees as long as he takes him with them.

The trio ends up in a shady part of town where there’s this strip club that only opens up after dark. They stop for some coffee at a cafe staffed by a nervous man wearing a crucifix around his neck. A gang led by a creepy albino man enters the cafe after the sun goes down. Keith makes the googly eyes at one of the women in this gang and she smiles a set of sharp fangs at him. This should have been seen as a red flag, but instead of high tailing it out of town, the trio makes their way over to the strip club.

Inside the club, the young men are treated to a dance performance by Katrina (Grace Jones), the top act of the night which has to be seen to be believed. If a demented Ronald McDonald in a steel bikini is your thing, Katrina is for you. AJ is impressed and requests a meeting with Katrina to see if she’ll strip for the fraternity later that night. AJ gets more than he bargained for when Katrina puts the moves on him and takes off her clothes. He gets even more than he bargained for when she sinks her fangs into his neck.

Did I like the movie? Sure. Is it the best teen horror vampire comedy I’ve ever seen? No, but it’s good enough. You get a wonderful scene later on where Keith offers his neck to a now vampire AJ, thinking he can just take a little bit to get by. Keith replies, “What do you think I am, a mosquito?”


Photo by Leslie Salas

Jeff Shuster (episode 47episode 102episode 124episode 131episode 284episode 441episode 442episode 443, episode 444episode 450, episode 477, and episode 491) is an MFA graduate from the University of Central Florida.

Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #143: Ripping Through the Future

Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #143 by Drew Barth

Ripping Through the Future

It’s been a few months since I last talked about James Harren and Dave Stewart’s Ultramega, so I’ll have to fix that. One of the most kinetic series in the last few years, Ultramega’s first issue was the kind of series that wore its influences proudly—from Ultraman to the sentai shows of most millennial childhoods in the 90s—along with a dollop of incredible violence. But what about the rest of the series? As the first volume of the story ends, influences fallen to the side to allow its creators to chart a different path in the Kaiju genre.

The majority of the series, after its first issue, is about how the world is reacting now that the titular Ultramega have been killed and the kaiju that had threatened the world have become minuscule compared to their former, larger-than-buildings selves. The city of the first issue has also been split—a walled-off portion that houses anyone without the kaiju virus that caused people to transform into the beasts, and the Drowned City—the refuge of anyone not allowed in the city, built from the ruins of the final Ultramega battle. Noah, son of the last Ultramega, is captured by a gang of kaiju cultists—humans who worship the remaining kaiju as gods. After nearly dying in a coliseum-esque brawl with multiple small kaiju, he merges with the eye of the first Ultramega to become the first of these heroes in nearly twenty years.

There’s a peculiar thing about Ultramega that Harren and Stewart skirt around for most of the series. The Ultramega and the kaiju have been fighting for as long as the universe has been. Locked in an eternal fight, one can never be totally rid of the other. But without the Ultramega, the kaiju are small—a mere fraction of the selves we have seen. They cannot be born anew from human hosts and don’t seem to be able to infect anyone else. All they do is feed on the blood of humanity in their cults.

As soon as Noah transforms, however, the kaiju return to their full destructive capabilities. Like an immune response, one tries to rip the other apart. But they only ever become horrific when in contact with one another. It’s the kind of detail that has yet to be explored, but it definitely has enough connective tissue with the rest of the story to be explored fully in later volumes.

Even with all of the story in each of Ultramega’s massive issues, there’s still more to be explored in its world. And that just shows the strength of Harren and Stewart as creators. There is so much more going on beyond the panels we see and that just contributes to the living being that a story can become. As we’re only focused on a single story at the moment, there’s more than enough room to go into how the rest of this universe works, what the Ultramega and kaiju are, and just what the world will come to.

Get excited. Get big.


Drew Barth at Miami Book Fair in 2019.

Drew Barth (Episode 331 & 485) is a writer residing in Winter Park, FL. He received his MFA from the University of Central Florida. Right now, he’s worrying about his cat.

Episode 491: TDO vs. The Curator of Schlock #5

Episode 491 of The Drunken Odyssey, your favorite podcast about creative writing and literature is available on Apple podcastsstitcher, spotify, or click here to stream (right click to download, if that’s your thing).

Photo by Leslie Salas.

On this week’s show, Jeff Shuster and I discuss 2002’s classic horror film, Ju-on: The Grudge.

TEXT DISCUSSED

NOTES

Scribophile

  • TDO listeners can get 20% of a premium subscription to Scribophile. After using the above link to register for a basic account, go here while still logged in to upgrade the account with the discount.
  • Check out Jeff’s column, The Curator of Schlock.
  • Check out my literary adventure novel, Guy Psycho and the Ziggurat of Shame.

Episode 491 of The Drunken Odyssey, your favorite podcast about creative writing and literature is available on Apple podcastsstitcher, spotify, or click here to stream (right click to download, if that’s your thing).

The Curator of Schlock #372: The Crazies

The Curator of Schlock #372 by Jeff Shuster

The Crazies

That George A. Romero sure has a big imagination. 

Getting back to the story about how Edwige and I barely made it out of Mooseville, a small town in the Canadian province of Saskatchewan. I drove the truck and the place was like a ghost town. I saw no one except for a freckled-faced kid playing hacky sack by himself. I asked him where the canning factory was, told him I was here to save the town. The kid then straightened up, pointed his index finger at me, and screeched with all his might. Then, one by one, villagers appeared and surrounded us. To be continued.

This month, I’m delivering five chilling movies from Arrow Home Video and will don the persona of Curator of Shock once again. This week’s terrifying classic is The Crazies from director George A. Romero. The movie begins with two children finding their mother slain and their dad acting very peculiar. By peculiar, I mean, he’s breaking the pottery with a baseball bat and dousing every room with gasoline. Then, shockingly, he sets the house on fire.

Two firefighters, Dave (Will McMillan) and Clank (Harold Wayne Jones), arrive at the scene of the fire and can’t believe Mitchell would murder his wife and set his house ablaze. Dave’s pregnant fiancé is a nurse named Judy (Lane Carroll) and she’s helping Dr. Brookmyre treat the burn victims. Soon, the army shows up and commandeer Dr. Brookmyre’s office. Under the orders of a Major Ryder, the entire town of Evans City is now under quarantine. No one can leave or enter without official authorization. Hazmat suits and gas masks are now the standard for all government officials occupying the town.

It seems that a plane carrying a bio-weapon (codenamed Trixie, naturally) crashed in Evans City and infected the water supply with a deadly virus. Infected citizens either die or go stark raving mad. There’s a wonderful scene of a kindly old grandmother knitting a sweater while rocking in her rocking chair. When a couple of the hazmat soldiers show up to her place, she gleefully stabs one of them to death and goes right on knitting as if nothing has happened.

More government officials arrive in the form of Colonel Peckmen (Lloyd Hollar) and Dr. Watts (Richard France). Both of them had worked on the Trixie project and are felt to be the best ones to deal with that mess. Colonel Peckmen demands that every citizen in Evans City be rounded up and put in the high school as Dr. Watts works on a cure. Dr. Watts complains about not having the right equipment, the bureaucratic red tape, and having to wear the gas mask.

Meanwhile, Dave, Clanck, and Judy are hiding from the authorities, trying to figure a way out of town before they catch the disease. They’re holed up with a father and daughter that are showing signs of losing their minds. Dave and Clank manage to shoot and kill some of the soldiers roaming the town. Clank even manages to take out a helicopter. But while the occupiers may be incompetent, they still greatly outnumber any resistance the town is giving them.

Eventually, Dr. Watts discovers a potential cure for Trixie. He gets so excited that he leaves the lab without his gas mask. Two hazmat guards confront him, thinking he’s one of the local townspeople. They force him into the high school with the rest of “the crazies” and he gets trampled to death, the cure disappearing with him.

Colonel Peckmen gets called away to Kentucky where the local citizens are experiencing similar symptoms. I’m sure everything will turn out fine.


Photo by Leslie Salas.

Jeff Shuster (episode 47episode 102episode 124episode 131episode 284episode 441episode 442episode 443, episode 444episode 450, and 477) is an MFA graduate from the University of Central Florida.

Comics Are Trying To Break Your Heart #142: Another Day, Another Crisis

Comics Are Trying To Break Your Heart #142 by Drew Barth

Another Day, Another Crisis

Since the early 60s with the “Flash of Two Worlds” story, the idea of the crisis would come to define every major event in DC’s history. With Infinite Frontier by Joshua Williamson, Xermanico, Tom Derenick, Jesús Merino, Paul Pelletier, Norm Rapmund, and Romulo Fajarado Jr., we’re seeing the most current capping of a Crisis, with the lead into another.

The idea of the crisis in DC canon has always been a point of change. From the creation of the Multiverse to its destruction over and over and over to that one time Identity Cris—wait, no, never mind that one.

But the crisis is where the bloat of comics canon can converge on a point and wipe itself clean, for the most part. Post-Crisis, New52, DC Rebirth, and now the Infinite Frontier—all of these points have been a simplification of canon and new points for readers to jump into the larger DC Universe. But where those points of post-crisis had their own foibles, Infinite Frontier has seen to ease itself more into what has already been established. The events taking place in the series are still massive—there’s the revolt of Earth-0 against the rest of the Multiverse and the reveal of an Omega Lantern being controlled by Darkseid—but with the short series of Future State stories earlier in the year, these new stories spinning out of the event can feel more organic.

But what’s most interesting about Infinite Frontier as a series is how it has begun to re-introduce elements of the DC Universe at large that have either been absent or handled in less than stellar ways. With the most recent Crisis in the form of Dark Nights: Death Metal, the Multiverse has once again become infinite—even if the focus is still only on a core fifty-two worlds. But with all of these parallel worlds comes similarly larger threats. Threats like the return of a Darkseid that looks closer to his original incarnations. While some of his more recent appearances have shown the god as a more capable Doomsday, Infinite Frontier has him as this scheming entity—a being whose machinations are unknowable to mortal minds. It’s always good to have a dark god act like something inevitable and unknowable instead of just a punch machine.

But a post-crisis can still feel like a crisis on its own. Infinite Frontier is an interesting precipice on the edge of future canon. It does what any good event book should—tell its own story, lay out some large stakes, and set things up for the next inevitable crisis to shape the universe.

Get excited. Get infinite.


Drew Barth at Miami Book Fair in 2019.

Drew Barth (Episode 331 & 485) is a writer residing in Winter Park, FL. He received his MFA from the University of Central Florida. Right now, he’s worrying about his cat.