Chip off the old tune - chip music for the masses - apologies for the strained, non sequitur, idiomatic headline...

Posted by Eric Brightwell, November 28, 2009 01:13pm | Post a Comment
Trailer for Blip Festival: Reformat the Planet

Chiptunes (or chip music) is a genre of electronic music made using (now) old video game and computer hardware. The limitations of 8-bit technology present considerable challenges that require surprising creative solutions. Kōji Kondō, pretty much the Mozart of the scene, composed the score for Super Mario Brothers that shows how brilliant the music can be. Using a remarkably tiny sonic palette he managed to create a catchy electro-Afro-Cuban melody that could be looped over and over without driving the gamer completely insane, even in shameful, febrile, all night gaming sessions. When the DJ Jubilee-led Take Fo' Superstars used it in "Do the Mario," it was amazingly still fresh. Witness:

The roots of chiptunes date back to the 1970s. In the first part of the decade, video games like Pong used sound effects sparingly. With the introduction of the Atari 2600 and the Apple II in 1977, video games and computers began to use music more extensively. Then Asteroids debuted in 1978 and ushered in video games' golden age with distinctive bleeps, blops and white noise.

The music and sound capabilities were a selling point for video games, and computers and programs like 1980’s Atari Music Composer and 1987’s Ultimate SoundTracker (preceded by the 1982 introduction of MOS Technology SID in Commodores) allowed users to make chip music. Eventually, Atari’s POKEY, Nintendo’s Ricoh 2A03, GI’s AY-3-8910, Yamaha’s YM2612 and other hardware fueled the growth of chip music.

Celebrated professional chiptune composers of the golden age include Ben Daglish, Chris Hülsbeck, Hirokazu "Hip" Tanaka, Jochen Hippel, the aforementioned Kōji Kondō, Martin Galway, Nobuo Uematsu, Rob Hubbard, Tim Follin, Yuukichan's Papa and Yūzō Koshiro.

Prominent amateur chiptunes composers include Baroque, Duz, 4-Mat and Turtle. Their preferred way of making their music available was through computer files, although, by the late ‘90s there began to be CD releases of chip music – roughly coinciding with contemporary video game scores moving toward indistinguishablity from those used in films, relying increasingly on full orchestrations or collections of popular songs. Nonetheless, there remains a dedicated movement of musicians who still make chiptunes.

In many of the musicians’ cases, they’re probably too young to have played video games that used 8-bit technology, which probably leads some to dismiss the practitioners as engaging in hand-me-down nostalgia. That may be partly true (although chiptunes have recently been revived for several new games). Some chiptunes musicians bristle at the suggestion that their music is merely a retro trip and distance themselves from the music’s video game roots, attracted more by the unique aesthetic, timbres and artistic limitations of the format than an ironic revivalist spirit. In fact, many newer acts don’t limit themselves merely to chip music, instead using the technology (and samples of it) into more conventional genres like indie rock, heavy metal (e.g. Nintendocore) and dance.

Newer chiptunes progenitors, in addition to releasing recorded music, have, unlike their forebears, turned to live performance (although some professional video game composers have adapted their scores to symphonic performance. This era was ushered in with 8 Bit Weapon’s 2005 performance of "Bombs Away" and "Gameboy Rocker" on G4's Attack of the Show! Today, performers like Alex Mauer, Aliceffekt, Anamanaguchi, C-jeff, Firebrand Boy, mcfiredrill, Paza Rahm, PDF Format, Random, Role Model, Sabrepulse, Solemn Camel Crew, Trash80, Virt, XC3N and YMCK incorporate chiptunes to varying degrees in music in many cases made available through netlabels like 8bitpeoples, 8bitcollective, micromusic, Pause, superbutton and mp3death.

For more about chiptunes, check out these links:

California Fool's Gold -- Exploring The Arts District

Posted by Eric Brightwell, October 22, 2009 09:22pm | Post a Comment

This edition of the neighborhood blog is about The Arts District... or The Artist District... or is it The Artist-In-Residence District... or perhaps The Artists' District? This, and other issues, will be sorted out by blog's end to everyone's satisfaction.


Pendersleigh & Sons' Official Map of the Arts District

To vote for another Los Angeles neighborhood to be the subject of a neighborhood blog, go here. To vote for one of the communities in Los Angeles County other than in Los Angeles, go here. To vote for Orange County neighborhoods, vote here.

            William Wolfskill                                                                      La Grande Station

The area along the western bank of Los Angeles River currently designated The Arts District in Los Angeles has gone through many changes in identity and name over the years. It passed from the hands of the Tongva to the Spaniards to the Mexicans and, most recently, to the Yankees. One of the latter, a Kentuckian named William Wolfskill, planted the land (or had it planted) with citrus trees to sell to scurvy-prone miners who swarmed the area following the California Gold Rush of 1849.

Central City East in 1909


By the 1870s, trains began arriving in the area both to transport the citrus to far off locales and to bring in migrant workers to work in the groves. The Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad opened the Moorish-style La Grande Station in 1893. Thirteen years later, a new depot opened at 3rd and Santa Fe.


Following the arrival of trains and the immigrant laborers they brought, the area began to rapidly industrialize. Much of the work in Los Angeles, based as it was on agriculture, was seasonal. To cater to the workers between jobs, many bars and flophouses sprang up between downtown proper and the growing industrial district which gradually became known alternately as Skid Row and the Nickel -- because it’s centered on 5th St.

Nate Starkman & Son   

                                                                                  Industrial Street after sunset


Between San Pedro and the Los Angeles River, Central City East was soon covered with large factories and warehouses. By 1950, Los Angeles was an industrial powerhouse where more cars were assembled than in any American city besides Detroit. The city’s tire production was only exceeded by that of Akron. Los Angeles also outranked all American cities in garment production except for New York City.

One famous warehouses was owned by George Shima, the first Japanese-American millionaire. Shima was born ???? in Kurume in 1864 and lived in Berkeley (when he bought a house the newspaper headline read "Yellow Peril in College Town." His base of operation was out of a warehouse on 1275 E. 6th Street. After beginning his career as a domestic servant and later becoming a migrant worker, he nonetheless managed to amass a fortune of about $18 million (about $200 million adjusted for inflation) due to his Shima Fancy potatoes commanding 85% of the potato market.

As the population of the city swelled, much of the industry and especially the residential population center moved away from the city center, leaving behind many massive empty buildings.

Looking west near Wholesale and Mill


In the late ‘60s, many returning emotionally-disturbed and drug-addicted Viet Nam vets joined the older, by then permanent population of alcoholic ex-hobos, tramps and bums. Many missions had long serviced the indigent area and the mostly abandoned industrial area became a hotbed for those both dropping out of society and those expelled from it. Not all of the industrial core was abandoned and as different areas took on different characteristics are still organized around smaller districts, including The Wholesale District (an area where most of the produce, seafood and flowers pass into the city), Skid Row (an area where most of the county’s 10,000 or so homeless pass through), The Fashion District (formerly known as The Garment District), The Toy District and -- on the eastern edge -- The Arts District.

Economy Supply (with large chess pieces on the roof)   

Looking east down 5th St from Alameda


Not all of the district's borders have been accepted by all parties. Since it became a highly desirable area, developers have continually attempted to stretch its borders so that they can convert and sell more properties. The western border has always been accepted as Alameda. The eastern border has always been accepted as the L.A. River. Though the northern border is defined in city documents as 1st Street, both Temple and the 101 have also been described as the border and even appear as such in some unofficial maps. Confusingly, the only "Arts District" signs in the area are located at Hewitt & Traction and at 3rd & Santa Fe, intersections within anyone's definition but not marking a border. In 2000, the Central City North Community Plan officially set “Artists-in-Residence District’s” southern boundary at 6th street. Then, in 2007, the southern boundary was officially extended several blocks further to Violet St.

It is bordered by the Civic Center to the north, Boyle Heights to to east, the Wholesale District to the south, the Downtown Industrial District to the southwest, and Little Tokyo to the northwest.



The area began to take shape as the Arts District around 1976 when artists began to come to the area to inhabit the by-then often vacant buildings, attracted in part by the ample space and average rent of thirty cents-per-square-foot. Since the empty warehouses weren’t zoned for residences, there were occasional raids by the fire department and it was all a bit lawless.


In 1979, the storied Al’s Bar opened on the ground floor of The American Hotel when Marc Kreisel bought the property from the titular Al. Over the years, the club hosted many underground and then-obscure acts like The Fall, Gun Club, The Jesus Lizard, The Residents, The Misfits, Mudhoney, Nirvana, Red Kross, Sonic Youth and The Red Hot Chili Peppers. Even acts that would never likely play there were attracted by its "cred" and so poppier acts like Bad Religion, Coolio and Pennywise all filmed videos there.

 A massive Iron Mountain warehouse   

Mesquit under 6th St Bridge


In 1981, the Artists-In-Residence (AIR) ordinance was passed, allowing artists to live in their work spaces as long as the residences conformed to building and safety standards. After the neighborhood began to build up a bit of Bohemian cache, some enterprising individuals began buying the buildings and the rents began to climb, at first fairly slowly. The area came to be known by a variety of names, including The Lofts District and more often The Arts District.


Gorky's (image source: Vespa Vamanos)

Gorky's Cafe opened at 536 E. 8th Street in 1981 by a former librarian, Judith Markoff, and originally catered to local homeless and artists. Fred Powers bought the cafe in 1985, and added a microbrewery, nightly live music, neon and security guards -- promising "Foodski, Funski, Brewski" athe venue, renamed Gorky's Cafeteria & Russian Brewery. It got trendier and Powers opened a second location in Hollywood. The Hollywood location soon closed and a patron, Candace Choi, took over the Arts District location in 1992 before permanently closing the doors in 1993. The building has since been absorbed by the growing Flower District and is home to a flower shop with googly-eye dogs made out of poms and crosses made of flowers. 

In 1982, multimedia artist Stephen Seemayer finished his rough cut of an 8mm film titled Young Turks. Its setting was the area around and including the Arts District between 1977 and 1981, when few of the wealthy loft dwellers would've likely even risked a drive through the area. The stars include artists Bob & Bob, Coleen Sterritt, Richard Newton, Woods Davy, and Al's Bar owner, Marc Kreisel.


Bloom's General Store  

                                                                               Acme Modern Supplies

As is normally the case in industrial areas, there was a distinct lack of greenery aside from vegetation springing up in hard to access nooks and crannies until some of the locals began planting trees. As the area grew, the distinct lack of nearby services for residents became an issue until Joel Bloom opened Bloom’s General Store. Bloom, along with other community activists, lobbied the city to make The Arts District official. Recognizing the by-then thriving scene, the city began actively encouraging people to move to the district and many of the warehouses were re-zoned and converted into Artist in Residence dwellings. They also installed signs declaring it The Artist District. Even today there are official signs referring to it thusly, or in other cases as, “The Artists' District” but it has long been known primarily as The Arts District, which is what the signs now say. For a while, there was one of the old signs mounted on the exterior of Bloom's store.

Looking east on Conway 

Newly restored building on 6th St.

Jim Fittipaldi started a speakeasy/art space and magazine of the same name located in the warehouse that is now Molino Street Lofts around 1994. It briefly moved  to Los Feliz in 2000 for a bit before returning to the Arts District, making its home on E. 6th Street (in the Potato King's old warehouse). It closed in 2006.

In a predictable narrative, after the artists begin reversing the long decline of an area with their efforts, gentrification followed. Aiding the speed of the shift were clauses in AIR that exempted the building owners from rent control, so massive developers began to price out and evict long-time residents, converting the buildings in the process into appealing, if less affordable, condos. As the old timers were forced out and the buildings transformed, not surprisingly the character of the Arts District once again began to transform. The American Hotel was sold to Magnum Properties and in 2001, Al’s Bar closed its doors. In 2007, Joel Bloom passed away and his famed store closed its doors after struggling for two years in 2009. Though the intersection of 3rd and Bloom is named Joel Bloom Square, for better or worse (or both), the Arts District has quite a different character than it used to in its heyday as an arts colony.

 Between Barker Block and Molino     

 Former train depot, now SCI-Arc

As with Historic Filipinotown, the Arts District's name now applies largely to an historic population, as most artists can't afford to live in the expensive neighborhood. No longer is the area populated primarily by practicing, struggling artists, but rather by wealthy loft owners attracted by the concept of "artist" as a lifestyle rather than an actual creative pursuit. Although slumming will always hold an attraction for those from a privileged background and realtors bounce around words like “gritty,” “funky,” and “hip” like a hacky-sack in a college dormitory courtyard, in reality the big lofts, including Barker Block, Molino, Toy Factory, Biscuit Company, 2121 and the proposed AMP, are squeaky clean, posh and only affordable to established, celebrity artists or dabbling trustafarians.

The lofts are at least tastefully done (although it would be nice if part of the conversion process had included installing green roofs or walls!) and residents of the neighborhoods busily crowd their ground floor businesses whilst expertly leaving the non-loft areas surprisingly desolate and empty except for the homeless.

There are now a handful of restaurants, stores and bars in the area. I've been known to knock back a few (OK, more than a few) at
Royal Clayton's English Pub in the Toy Factory Lofts. Across the street are The Biscuit Lofts, where Sandra Oh's character lives in Grey's Anatomy. I believe that show takes place somewhere in the northwest which is why, when filming down there, they routinely wet the street.

  The Biscuit Lofts

Looking south at Mateo and 6th
To be fair, there is still art being produced in the neighborhood, although much of it has a controlled, prescribed and commodified vibe. Perhaps no space embodies the well-mannered, inorganic and sanctioned "edginess" more than the Barker Block's private, enclosed (and therefore off limits to non-residents) “Artists' Alley.” Most of the rest of the public art in the neighborhood is run-of-the-mill graffiti of the sort favored by the backpack-and-hoodies crowd whose notions of gritty street culture more likely come from Urban Outfitters than firsthand urban experience.

There’s also fair amount of theater in the neighborhood (which I haven't checked out) and several art galleries where you’ll hear terms like “outsider art” and “new ideas” bandied, even though most of what’s being discussed (and most modern art in general) seems to me ironically to be highly uniform, generic and excessively rule-bound. Ironically, much of the online discourse from new residents of the neighborhood revolves around complaining about the twin nuisances of the homeless population, on the one hand, and industrial activity on the other. Sure, Andres Serrano, Chris Ofli and Survival Research Labs type stuff is apparently fine-and-dandy as long as they’re on display in galleries -- but not when the same "media" are on the sidewalks where you walk your tiny dogs on your way to an upscale coffee shop. While I agree that homelessness and pollution are enormous problems in Los Angeles, if you hate water you probably shouldn't move to the coast and then complain that the ocean won't dry up.

In 2000, The Southern California Institute of Architecture moved to the former train depot on Santa Fe. In 2006, Gideon Kotzer opened the last Crazy Gideon’s in the Arts District. His son Daniel runs Café Studio nearby, on Palmetto. The elder Kotzer is trying to get out of the electronics game and now trying to get the approval to convert his property into a truly hideous series of ugly corrugated box residences lined stupidly by palm trees. Given the high standards on display throughout the neighborhood, I doubt the final version will look much like the Crazy One's warped vision.

Currently the Arts District is one of the most unique and physically attractive urban sections of Los Angeles. Not surprisingly, it’s been featured in several films. La Grande Station used to contain a Harvey House, was the subject of (and featured in) The Harvey Girls. In The Limey, Terence Stamp’s character utters his most memorable line before menacingly crossing Willow St. after shooting some pests in a factory there. I'm sure there've been other filmss, (I think Repo  Man), videos and TV shows filmed in part or in whole down there. If you know of any, let me know.


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Evolution of the undead - zombie movies

Posted by Eric Brightwell, October 16, 2009 01:42pm | Post a Comment
As vampires are increasingly depicted as little more than be-fanged, neutered teenage emos; the popularity of zombies has risen to the point, according to some sources, that surpasses that of the traditional king of the undead. Zombies are certainly more popular than most of their undead peers, including re-animated skeletonsghosts, mummies or the Crow.

Although zombies rule right now, their reign may prove short. After all, no individual zombie has risen to the level of familiarity of a Dracula, Frankenstein's monster or Mac Tonight. What zombies possess in ability to strike fear into the hearts of living, they lack in the personality department. Their mythology is simple, borrowing from ghouls, vampires and mummies whilst adding few touches of their own. That may be why zombies still don’t have their own musical subculture like vampires do with Goth -- just a handful of musically dissimilar bands like The Zombies, White Zombie, and Fela Kuti and The Cranberries' songs, "Zombie.” Zombies can't be said to have truly arrived in the pantheon of monsters until one appears on General Mills' line of monster-themed cereal.
In real life, zombies are entranced or betwitched servants or thralls of a Vodou/Voodoo/Vodun bokor... or, sorcerer. They can be living or dead. In movies, however, zombies have gradually taken on a variety of aspects borrowed from other undead, mainly the aforementioned vampires and ghouls.
Ghouls were originally from Arabia and are an evil sort of desert-dwelling, shapeshifting Djinn that eat children and the dead, afterward taking on the meal’s appearance, thus proving the truth behind the old adage, “You are what you eat.” In films, there had been relatively few attempts to depict ghouls. The British film The Ghoul (1933) concerned an undead Egyptologist’s (played by Boris Karloff) attempt to attain immortality and to kill his former servant. It had more in common with the previous year's Boris Karloff vehicle, The Mummy. Other ghoul movies, like The Mad Ghoul (1943), Nobody’s Ghoul (1962), Boy Meets Ghoul (1965), The Ghoul (1975), Ghoul School (1990), Ghoul Panic (2000) and The Ghouls (2003) are unlikely to ring many bells.


In the 1930s, an Indian film, Chalta Purza, may be the only silent zombie film, which is sort of a shame since zombies, with their taciturn natures, would seemingly be naturals. White Zombie, like most zombie films for several years to come, would depict Zombies within the Voudon context as not necessarily dead, but mind controlled slaves. The concept of zombies was first introduced to most Americans in the 1929 novel, The Magic Island, about zombies in Haiti.

Chalta Purza, White Zombie (both 1932) Ouanga (aka The Love Wanga) and Revolt of the Zombies (both 1936)
In the 1940s, the zombie-horror-comedy lumbered onto the scene with Zombies on Broadway.

King of the Zombies (1941), Zombies on Broadway (1942), I Walked With a Zombie and Revenge of the Zombies (both 1943)
The 1950s - despite its title, 1952's Zombies of the Stratosphere had nothing to do with zombies and therefore did not introduce the now-common idea of zombification resulting from extraterrestrial events. Instead, it was noted pioneer Ed Wood with Plan 9 From Outer Space that introduced that concept.

Back from the Dead and Zombies of Mora Tau (both 1957), Plan 9 From Outer SpaceGu wu jiang shi and Teenage Zombies (both 1959)
The 1960s - 1968's Night of the Living Dead is, it's fairly safe to say, the first important, modern zombie film. It's also still the most influential. Interestingly, the undead creatures are only referred to as ghouls within the film. As with ghouls, they shared their taste for human flesh, something most zombies are assumed to like now but had never been an aspect of their culture previously. Furthermore, unlike  traditional zombies, the creatures weren't under the control of a wizard, alien or other agent. About the only thing they had in common with traditional/real-life zombies was the lumbering gait that characterized them for decades to follow.

A few years earlier, The Last Man on Earth appeared, a film adapted from the 1954 book I Am Legend. Though it isn't strictly concerned with zombies, it's also proven very influential (including on Night of the Living Dead). After the film appeared, many zombies thereafter depicted the transformation into a zombie as a disease spread through contact from the zombie to victim, as with vampires before (and werewolves in Hollywood as well). And it blurred the lines between re-animated corpses and the merely infected living who take on similar characteristics and the singleminded hunger for flesh.

The Dead One (1961), Santo Contra los Zombies (1962), The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies and The Last Man on Earth, Zombies (1964), 5 tombe per un medium (1965), Plague of the Zombies (1966) Night of the Living Dead, Mad Doctor of Blood Island and The Astro-Zombies (all 1968)

Zombies in the 1970s carried on pretty much as those in Night of the Living Dead, although they were much more likely to unlive in Italy or Spain and enjoyed a bit more flesh and blood in their continental breakfast. Sugar Hill is notable for being one of the first zombie films to return to zombies' voudon roots, something rarely done since.

Escape, Christina, princesse de l'érotisme, La noche del terror ciego, La notte che Evelyn uscì dalla tomba and Let's Scare Jessica to Death (all 1971), Children Shouldn't Play With Dead Things, Messiah of Evil and La rebelión de las muertas (all 1972), Les démoniaques, La orgía de los muertos, The Hidan of Maukbeiangjow, Horror Express, House of the Living Dead and El ataque de los muertos sin ojos (all 1973), Corpse Eaters, Dead of Night, Garden of the Dead, El buque maldito, Non si deve profanare il sonno dei morti, Nightmare Circus and Sugar Hill (all 1974), La noche de las gaviotas (1975), Bakterion and Gou hun jiang tou (both 1976), The Child and Shock Waves (both 1977), Dawn of the Dead (1978) and Zombi II (1979)
In the 1980s, the 1985 film Return of the Living Dead added something to zombie lore that's now widely considered canon; that is the preference for human brains over other cuts. Also, Zombies started showing up in martial arts films, beginning with Kung Fu Zombie Vs Tigerkralle.

Alien Dead, Bloodeaters, The Children, Paura nella città dei morti viventi, Le notti erotiche dei morti viventi and Zombie Holocaust (all 1980), Dead & Buried, Heavy Metal ("B-17"), The House by the Cemetery, Kiss Daddy Goodbye, Kung Fu Zombie Vs Tigerkralle, Night of the Wehrmacht Zombies, Virus and Le lac des morts vivants (all 1981), The Aftermath, ...E tu vivrai nel terrore! L'aldilà, Le notti del terrore, The Curse of the Screaming Dead, I Was a Zombie for the F.B.I., Wu long tian shi zhao ji gui (all 1982), L'abîme des morts vivants, La tumba de los muertos vivientes, Hysterical, and Thriller (all 1983), C.H.U.D., Night of the Comet, Zombie Island Massacre and Zombie vs. Ninja, (all 1984), Attack of the Beast Creatures and Day of the Dead, Hard Rock Zombies, La mansión de los muertos vivientes, Re-Animator and Return of the Living Dead (all 1985), Gore-Met, Zombie Chef from Hell, Night of the Creeps, Raiders of the Living Dead, The Rape After, The Supernaturals, Zombie Brigade and Zombie Nightmare (all 1986), I Was a Teenage Zombie, Night of the Living Babes, Redneck Zombies, La revanche des mortes vivantes, Video Dead, Death House and Zombie High (all 1987), After Death (Oltre la morte), Dead Heat, The Dead Next Door, FleshEater, Flesh Eating Mothers, Return of the Living Dead Part II, Serpent and the Rainbow, Waxwork and Zombi III (all 1988), Oigyeingwa kongkong gangshi, C.H.U.D. II: Bud the C.H.U.D., Curse of the Zombi, The Dead Pit, Hellgate, Night Life, Pet Sematary, Jiang shi da nao xi men ding, Working Stiffs and Zombie Rampage (all 1989)
The sheer number of zombie films in the 1990s suggested there was no stopping them. Lots of retro-tongue-in-cheek-zombie comedies, though...

Bride of Re-Animator, Linnea Quigley's Horror Workout, Night of the Living Dead and Zombie Attack! (all 1990), The Boneyard, Chopper Chicks in Zombie Town, Dead Dudes in the House, Demoni 3, Killing Birds, Night of the Day of the Dawn of the Son of the Bride of the Return of the Terror, Night of the Day of the Dawn of the Son of the Bride...In Shocking 2-D, Nudist Colony of the Dead, Zombie and the Ghost Train, The Zombie Army!, Zombie Cop and Zombie '90: Extreme Pestilence (all 1991), Braindead, Dead is Dead, Pet Sematary II, Urban Scumbags vs. Countryside Zombies, Vågn op! - en religiøs zombie parody, Waxwork II: Lost in Time and Zombie Rampage 2 (all 1992), Ghost Brigade, My Boyfriend's Back, Ozone, Return of the Living Dead 3, Space Zombie Bingo, Zombie Bloodbath and Zombie Genocide (all 1993), Dellamorte Dellamore, Flesheater and Shatter Dead (1994), Female Mercenaries on Zombie Island, Legion of the Night, Living Dead in Denmark and Zombie Bloodbath 2: Rage of the Undead (all 1995), Living a Zombie Dream (1996), Death Metal Zombies, Back from the Dead, The Necro Files, Plaga Zombie, Premutos - Lord of the Living Dead, Zombie - The Resurrection and Zombie Ninja Gangbangers (all 1997), Attack of the Flesh Devouring Space Worms from Outer Space, Bio Zombie, I, Zombie, Laughing Dead, Natural Born Zombie Killers, Zombie Cult Massacre, Zombie – Regulators and Zombie Toxin (all 1998), Crossclub: The Legend of the Living Dead, Hot Wax Zombies on Wheels, Junk: Resident Zombies, Mutation, Raw Zombie 11, Violent Shit III: Infantry of Doom, Wild Zero and Zombie! vs. Mardi Gras (all 1999)
By the 2000s the size of the zombie horde became ridiculous. 28 Days Later, though some will argue it isn’t a zombie movie, asked "Why can't zombies run?" which influenced many films that followed. The filmmakers responsible for Shaun of the Dead asked, "What if a zombie-horror-comedies were actually funny?" Other filmmakers turned to shoot-em-up video games for creative inspiration.

The Dead Hate the Living!, Flesh Freaks, Shiryô-gari, Machine Head, Meat Market, Teenage Zombie House Massacre, Vāsasu, Wild Zero Zombie Bloodbath 3: Zombie Armageddon, Zombie Snake (all 2000)

All You Zombies, Biohazardous, Children of the Living, Dead Tor, Meat Market 2, Mulva: Zombie Ass Kicker!, Mutation 2 - Generation Dead, The Resurrection Game, Route 666, Stacy
and The Zombie Chronicles (all 2001)

Dead/Undead, The Last Days of Humanity, Mutation 3 - Century of the Dead, Necropolis Awakened, Resident Evil, 28 Days Later and Zombie Campout (all 2002)

Battlefield Baseball, Beyond Re-Animator, Blood of the Beast, Boot Hill Blind Dead, The Bunker, Corpses Are Forever, Daddy, Kiss Me, Dead Clowns, Deadhunter: Sevillian Zombies, Exhumed, Gory Gory Hallelujah, I'll See You in My Dreams, Living Dead Girl, The Mental Dead, The Naked and the Living Dead, The Necro Files 2, Noctem, The Revolting Dead, Undead, Wiseguys vs. Zombies, Zombie Night and Zombiegeddon (all 2003)

Angry and Moist: An Undead Chronicle, Bad Friend, Bone Sickness, Choking Hazard, Corpses, Dawn of the Dead, Dawn of the Living Dead, Dead & Breakfast, Dead Meat, Dead Roses, Feeding the Masses, Fuck Norge, Ghost Lake, Graveyard Alive: A Zombie Nurse in Love, Hide and Creep, Hunting Creatures, Lord of the Undead, Museum of the Dead, Die Nacht der lebenden Loser, Oh! My Zombie Mermaid, Punk Rock Zombie Kung Fu Catfight, Resident Evil: Apocalypse, Rotten Shaolin Zombies, SARS, Shadows of the Dead, Shaolin Vs. Evil Dead, Shaun of the Dead, Tele-Zombie, They Came Back, Vampires vs. Zombies, Walk Like a Zombie, Zombie Honeymoon, Zombie King and the Legion of Doom, Zombie Nation and Zombie Vegetarians (all 2004)

All Souls Day, Beneath Still Water, Boy Eats Girl, Bubba's Chili, Day of the Dead 2: Contagium, Day X, Dead at the Box Office, Dead Creek, Dead Life, Dead Men Walking, Dead Things, Die You Zombie Bastards!, Die Zombiejäger, Le Divan vert, Doom, The Drunken Dead Guy, Evil Grave: Curse of the Maya, Το Κακό, Hood of the Living Dead, House of the Dead 2, Knight of the Living Dead, Land of the Dead, Livelihood, Living Dead Lock Up , The Lost Way of the Zombies, Night of the Day of the Dawn of the Son of the Bride…Part 3, Pot Zombies, Raiders of the Damned, Return of the Living Dead 4: Necropolis, Return of the Living Dead 5: Rave to the Grave, Rise of the Undead, The Roost, Severed,The Stink of Flesh, Swamp Zombies, Tokyo Zombie, Z: A Zombie Musical, Zombie Hunter, Zombie Planet 2: Adam's Revenge and Zombiez (all 2005)

After Sundown, Automaton Transfusion, City of Rott, Dead and Deader, Dead in the Water, The Dead Live, Deadlands: The Rising, Die and Let Live, Doomed to Consume, Dorm of the Dead, Electric Zombies, Enter the Zombie, Fido, Gangs of the Dead, Island of the Living Dead, Last Rites of the Dead, Meat Market 3, Mortuary, Mulberry Street, Night of the Living Dead 3-D, Pathogen, Plaga Zombie: Zona, The Plague, Porn of the Dead, Poultrygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead, Shadow: Dead Riot, The Slaughter, Slither, Storm of the Dead, Stoned Dead, War of the Dead, War of the Zombies, War of the Living Dead, Wicked Little Things, Zombie Commando, The Zombie Diaries, Night 2: Awakening, Night of the Dead: Leben Tod, Special Dead Zombie Self Defense Force, Zombie Wars, ZombieWestern: It Came from the West and Zombies by Design (all 2006)

American Zombie, Awaken the Dead, Beneath the Surface, Brain Blockers, Brain Dead, Days of Darkness, Dead Heist, The Dead Undead, Evil Keg, Flight of the Living Dead: Outbreak on a Plane, Fog² - Revenge of the Executed, Forest of the Dead, Forever Dead, I Am Legend, Living Dead Lock Up 2: March of the Dead, The Mad, Motocross Zombies from Hell, Mutation -Annihilation, Otto, or Up With Dead People, Planet Terror, Evil: Extinction, The Quick and the Undead, The Rage, REC , Rise of the Dead, Risen, The Rising Dead, Team Massacre, Trailer Park of Terror, 28 Weeks Later, Undead or Alive, Undead Ted, Urban Decay, Wasting Away, Yûrei zonbi, Zibahkhana, Zombie Cheerleader Camp, Zombie Farm, Zombie Hunters, Zombie Outbreak, Zombie Town, Zombie Warrior, Zombies Gone Wild, Zombies: The Beginning and Zombies! Zombies! Zombies! (all 2007)

Bachelor Party in the Bungalow of the Damned, The Brass Ring, Colin, Curse of the Anasazi, Dance of the Dead, Day of the Dead, Dead Snow, Dead Space: Downfall, Deadgirl, Descendents, Diary of the Dead, Edges of Darkness, Evilution, Fast Zombies with Guns, Flick, Graveyard of the Living Dead, House of the Damned, House of the Dead, King Zombie, Mutant Vampire Zombies from the 'Hood!, Ninjas vs. Zombies, O.C. Babes and the Slasher of Zombietown , Onechanbara: Zombie Bikini Squad, Outpost, Pig Hunt - Don't Be Scared, Quarantine, Reel Zombies, Resident Evil: Degeneration, RetarDEAD, Rika: The Zombie Killer, Sabbath, Samurai Zombie, Sexykiller, Slime City Massacre, Stag Night of the Dead, The Undead, The Vanguard , The Veil, Virus Undead, Yoroi: The Samurai Zombie, Zombie Apocalypse Now!, Zombie Hunter Rika and Zombie Strippers (all 2008)

All You Need is Brains, Autumn of the Living Dead, Bio Dead, Blood Moon Rising, Bong of the Dead, The Book of Zombies, Carriers, The Crypt, Dark Floors, Dead Air, Dead Moon Rising, Dead Past - Rache aus dem Jenseits, The Dead, Deadlands 2: Trapped, Die-ner (Get It?), Doghouse, Drive-In Horrorshow, Ed and His Dead Mother, Evil - In the Time of Heroes, FVZA: Federal Vampire and Zombie Agency, Gallowwalker, George A. Romero's: Survival of the Dead, Haunting Kira, Hell on Earth, La Horde, House of Re-Animator, Joshua Breed, The Living Corpse Mutants, Night of the Living Dead goes 3D, Night of the Living Dead: Reanimated, Paris By Night of the Living Dead, Plan 9, Pontypool, REC, The Revenant, Romeo & Juliet vs. The Living Dead, School of the Dead, Silent Night, Urban Scumbags vs. Countryside Zombies Reanimated, Zombie Night, Song of the Dead, Stone's War, Tormented, Uniform Sabaigaru, Walking Dead, Woke Up Dead, Worst Case Scenario, Xombie, ZMD: Zombies of Mass Destruction, Zombies of the Night, Zombie Reanimation, Zombie Women of Satan, Zombieland and Zone of the Dead (all 2009)

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Hispanic Heritage Month - Latinos in American Cinema

Posted by Eric Brightwell, September 26, 2009 01:51pm | Post a Comment

Aside from a brief fetish for Latin Lovers in the silent era, roles for Hispanics and Latinos in American silent film were few, far between and generally quite minor. In the sound era, images of Hispanics and Latinos in Hollywood began to increase in number, although Latino characters were at first usually portrayed by non-Latinos in brownface whilst real Latinos were frequently used as all-purpose ethnic types.

          Ramon Novarro and Lupe Velez (as Navaho) in Laughing Boy                                Leo Carrillo and Duncan Renaldo

In the first decade of sound, there weren't many roles for Hispanics or Latinos aside from in popular, long-running series like Zorro, The Cisco Kid and The Mexican Spitfire series, the latter a vehicle for Lupe Velez. Pedro Armendáriz mostly starred in Mexican films; when cast in American ones, he invariably had to exaggerate his accent sufficiently. Throughout the '30s and the following decade, Arizona-born Chris Pin-Martin appeared in almost eighty films, invariably as a heavily-accented, broken English-speaking Mexican in small roles and as sidekicks, like Pancho in the Cisco Kid movies and as Gordito in the Zorro series. The Zorro franchise, begun in the 20s, continued to be popular throughout the era. The Cisco Kid series dated back to the teens. In them, unlike with Zorro, Hispanic actors like Leo Carrillo, Duncan Ronaldo and Cesar Romero were usually cast in the lead. Hispanic actress Rita Hayworth (born Margarita Cansino) was initially billed as Rita Cansino in a series of unrelated B-movies. In them, she usually played a variation on the fiery Mexican maiden in need of an honorable Anglo's protection and love.

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>Examine text adventure - Ask will Generation Text revive the popularity of text-based adventures?

Posted by Eric Brightwell, September 6, 2009 02:37pm | Post a Comment

Like silent films, old time radio, male grooming and slide shows, the text-based game is a largely dead art form. Like the other examples, it's uniquely enjoyable and was snuffed out by its flashier, less imaginative offspring in the pursuit of realism and technology. (Don't get me wrong, I think GUIs are la mamá de Tarzán and I even crossed the security line at Xerox PARC on a nerd's tour of historic Silicon Valley to drink from the fountain where the Xerox Alto was born back in 1973.) But the quiet pleasures of text games are enjoyable in their own right and with a whole generation almost incapable of communicating through any means except texting, the text game seems ripe for a comeback.


Instead of using graphics, text-based games use prose to tell the story. Players type specific commands to such as "go north" to play. A lot of the fun (and frustration) comes from having to type them precisely. For example, if you type "omg go north lol!!!," the computer will reply, "You used the word north in a way I don't understand." It may be frustrating at first to not punctuate every command with "lol," but once you get the hang of it, you'll find text games can be highly addictive. Besides, frustration puts hair on your chest.

The fact that there are no pictures can make physically creating a map with a pencil and paper neccessary. It also requires using your imagination and problem solving that you may not be accustomed to. Text games can be very challenging and sometimes you may want to type an expletive. If you do, the programmers have in nearly all cases thought of that and you might get a response like, "Not right now. I'm tired."


The earliest text games were created for mainframe computers in the 1960s, allowing multiple users to play online. Adventure was the first widely-played MUD (or multi-user dungeon) and set the standard for text games that followed. Over the years, text games were continually modified and ultimately many of them ended up being ported to personal computers. I, for one, greatly enjoyed The Sumer Game, and most of all, Oregon Trail, on our family's Apple ][e... and Zork on the TRS-80.


Here's a by-no-means-complete list of some of the more significant text games which debuted on mainframes:

BBX (1961), The Sumer Game (1969), Highnoon (1970), Basbal, Oregon Trail and Star Trek (all 1971), Hunt the Wumpus and Star Trek (both 1972), dnd and Dungeon (both 1975), Colossal Cave Adventure (1976), Empire, Mystery Mansion, Oubliette and Zork (all 1977), Acheton and Decwar (both 1978), Avatar Battlestar, Brand X, HAUNT, Martian Adventure and New Adventure (all 1979), Hexarin, Kingdom of Hamil, Monsters of Murdac, Quondam and Rogue (all 1980), LORD (1981), FisK (1982), Avn, Castle and Dunnet (all 1985), Fylfeet (1986), Crobe, MIST, Nidus and Quest of the Sangraal (all 1987), Spysnatcher (1989), and Rise to Glory (1997)


When personal computers began appearing in homes around the turn of the '80s, programmers like Scott & Alexis Adams, Don Daglow, Jonathan Partington, Jon Thackray and others began professionally making text-based games for the new market. Anyone that was familiar with programming languages could make their own with relative ease. I wrote my own, Voyage to Zeus, based on the bizarre imagination of my younger cousin, Carly. What I wouldn't do to have a copy of that! Big companies like Adventure International, Infocom, Synapse Software (who referred to text games as "electronic novels"), Melbourne House/Beam Software, Angelsoft, Topologika and Spectral Associates spun what had once been an amateur hobby for a few nerds into commercial gold. In 1982, games with graphics became popular, but as this partial list suggests, popular text games continued into the '90s.

Adventureland, Pirate Adventure
(1978), Voodoo Castle (1980), C.I.A. Adventure, Eamon and Mission Impossible (all 1980), The Count, Ghost Town, Madness and the Minotaur, Mystery Fun House, Pyramid of Doom, Saigon: The Final Days and Strange Odyssey (all 1981), Deadline, The Golden Voyage, The Hobbit, Savage Island and Starcross (1982), Enchanter, Forbidden Quest, Infidel, Suspended - A Cryogenic Nightmare, The Witness and The Wizard of Akyrz (all 1983),  Cutthroats, High Stakes, The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Mindwheel, Seastalker, Sorcerer and Zyll (all 1984), A Mind Forever Voyaging, Brimstone, Essex, Hampstead, Leather Goddesses of Phobos, A Mind Forever Voyaging, Spellbreaker and Wishbringer (all 1985), Breakers, Mindwheel and Terromolinos (all 1986), Philosopher's Quest (1987), Amnesia, Braminar, Dodgy Geezers, Jacaranda Jim, The Lurking Horror, Nord and Bert Couldn't Make Head or Tail of It, Sherlock: The Riddle of the Crown Jewels and Stationfall (all 1987), Dr. Dumont's Wild P.A.R.T.I. (1988), Arthur - The Quest for Excalibur, The Hound of Shadow, James Clavell's Shōgun and Journey (all 1989), Humbug (1990), Danger! Adventurer at Work! (1991), and Spy Snatcher (1992)


For many younger people today, the thought of life without a constant flow of text messaging is, if not unimaginable, incredibly stressful. Though it, like the text game, goes back to the mid-'60s, text messaging didn't really explode until the peak of BBS use in the late '80s/early '90s. In the early and mid-90s, I killed a lot of time (partly because it was dial-up) on ISCABBS and even made friends whom I'm still in contact with regularly today -- as unlikely as that sounds. My brother, meanwhile, was often using IRC to do the same.


Not coincidentally, as peer-to-peer communication through personal computers grew more common, conversely, text games became less so. Cell phones weren't really an issue at first, as they were still primarily used to make telephone calls. Although the first phones with SMS appeared in Finland in 1993, when I got my Motorola StarTac in 1997, it (like most cell phones) was bulky clamshells with external antennae and a simple diplay of phone number. Not to mention, they were so large that I carried mine in a pleather holster attached to my belt.

Nowadays cell phones are more like tricorders than conventional phones and there are many days (weeks?) where mine's phone function goes unused. As I walk the streets of Los Angeles, I routinely have to dodge hunchbacked textlemmings blindly stumbling around, no doubt in most cases merely making inconsequential small talk or sexting their friends. But what to do when your friends are busy, or their phone is dead, or your continued coordination of multiple Stove Top Stuffing meals has left you hungry for something new? Why not, just for lolz, run a terminal emulator and play a text game on your phone? You'll be glad you did. And check out the computer game section at Amoeba. We've been known to feature some pretty classic antiques at low, low prices. Though to play them may require tracking down a floppy disk drive, text games are doorways to whole 'nother worlds and therefore worth the effort.

One final note, should this whole "text-based games on cell phones" thing take off-- under no circumstances attempt to play them whilst driving. Just look what happens when a group of chavvers get wrapped up in a game of Eamon!

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