GtPGKogPYT4p61R1biicqBXsUzo" /> Google+ I Smell Sheep: May 2011

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Pirates, Mermaids and Zombies OH MY!

Top 10 Reasons to see (rent) Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

If Johnny Depp is in a movie, I will go. As far as I'm concerned he is all that and a bag of chips. With all the talk of zombies, mermaids and Black Beard, I was excited to see the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean movie. While there were a lot of great scenes, the mermaid one was especially creepy, overall I was disappointed. It seemed the script was written around Jack Sparrow’s character and his crazy antics instead of being about an actual plot, if that makes sense.

It is definitely worth a rental in my opinion, and I can give you 10 reasons to watch On Stranger Tides

10.”Savvy?” I just love it when Jack says this.

9. Sexy dark-haired Spaniard in a fluffy shirt.

8. Voodoo. There are only two zombies, but a Jack Sparrow voodoo doll? Sign me up!

7. Not your mother’s mermaids! These b****es have teeth!

6. Lying by telling the truth!

5. Black Beard!

4. Ship in a bottle.

3. Peg leg with benefits.

2. The monkey!

1. Transformers trailer! Optimus Prime ROCKS!

3 Sheep, savvy?

SS (edited by BAK)

Empire of Silver: Gold for effort, bronze for results

Recently I got a chance to screen the upcoming movie Empire of Silver from Neoclassics. Directed by Christina Yao and starring Aaron Kwok, Hao Lei, Tielin Zhang and Jennifer Tilly, Empire of Silver is a gorgeous film that depicts the life of the Kang family and their management of their piaohao as the Qing dynasty begins to fall. A huge amount of effort went into this movie and I am truly impressed with their work. I'll talk a little bit more about that later, but I want to first share a little history with you.

In the 19th century, China was ruled by the Qing dynasty which would be the last Imperial dynasty to rule China. Imperial power had waned considerably since the Qing Dynasty took power in the 17th century. The various European powers, searching for new markets and sources of raw materials began to carve out spheres of influence in China. Sadly, the Emperor was largely powerless to stop European expansion. Ultimately Chinese resentment at European encroachment would lead to full-scale rebellion and the Nationalist Revolution in 1912. During this time period the piaohao, based out of the northern Shanxi province, would grow economically and with their wealth would come political influence. Much like Wall Street in the United States, the Shanxi piaohao influenced the entire Chinese economy. Ultimately with the ensuing chaos of the Boxer Rebellion and Nationalist Revolution, many of these early banks failed and their history was forgotten.

Director Christina Yao wished to tell a story of these forgotten banks and also make a critique of the corruption that frequently comes with such economic power. The movie follows the Kang family, headed by Lord Kang who has four sons. Due to a series of accidents the third son, Third Master as he is called (It's Chinese naming convention), ends up the heir to the Kang family bank. Ostensibly the Shanxi piaohao held to high Confucian standards of morality and proper action, however power ultimately corrupts and we see that the Kang family piaohao under the elder Kang has followed less than reputable practices. The opulence of the Kang family and their branch managers is contrasted with the hardship of the working classes. The elder Kang goes so far as to stock up on vast quantities of salt to sell at great profit when people need it the most. The younger Kang disagrees with his father's business practices, believing that they should behave in an upright and righteous manner. The difference between father and son is best exemplified by their choice in bank manager. The elder Kang favors Manager Qui, an utterly corrupt businessman raised from a past as a poor farm boy. The elder Kang favors Qui because he can easily be controlled through fear, threatening to fire Qui for his corrupt practices unless he does as Kang wishes. The younger Kang prefers Manager Dai, an honest and competent businessman who follows the same Confucian ideals of upright and righteous actions. The conflict between father and son is the core of the conflict as their family bank tries to survive the political turmoil.

Empire of Silver also has a love story, a plot involving women's rights, and this is where I get the main problem with the movie. It has about three or four different plots that it tries to do, but it doesn't blend them together very well. Empire of Silver ultimately lacks focus, trying to do too many things and none of them particularly well. The transition between scenes is downright jarring at times because we shift from the romance plot to the banking plot back to the romance plot. If there is one flaw about Empire of Silver it is its lack of focus that fails to create a cohesive story. One final poor choice is white subtitles because of the occasional white backgrounds. It's not a consistent problem but annoying when it does happen.

HOWEVER, this is not to say this film is not good. The sheer amount of effort that went into this film is utterly...oh my god. The film was shot entirely on location in China, using multiple buildings and structures that have stood for hundreds of years. In an era where entire films are made on soundstages I really respect someone taking the time and effort to go somewhere to film. Especially in regions as remote as the Gobi desert. Furthermore, they used multiple antique costumes and props. Jade pendants, cap badges and rings, authentic costume materials and antique furniture was used. Pretty much everything you see in the film, building, clothing, furniture, even the freaking teacups are either antiques or modeled off of authentic antiques. They did a really great job of depicting late Qing dynasty China and really pulled out all the stops for this film. I give them an A for effort but a C for actual results. It's just really frustrating that the result didn't seem to match their effort.

Ultimately my opinion on this film is that they all did a fantastic job, but how the story was put together was seriously lacking. If you're a fan of Chinese history or interested in learning about Qing Dynasty China and the Shanxi piaohao then I'd recommend this film. Despite the remarkable effort put forth by cast and crew, I found the film unexceptional. An interest in history or China is a must to keep your interest in this movie. Also, it is Chinese-language and subtitled, but I'm used to reading subtitles so it didn't bother me. I'll give them three sheep for the amazing effort.

The film will be available for viewing in the New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., and Toronto areas starting June 3rd. Information about viewings in other areas can be found here.


Adventurer's Rule #19: Always have a handy hiding spot for your treasure.


Monday, May 30, 2011

Wayne Simmons Interview+Prizes!

Today it brings the Sheep great pleasure to have Wayne Simmons, author of the zombie books Drop Dead Gorgeous and Flu, stop by to chat with us. We wanted to wrap up Zombie Awareness Month with a BANG! So without further delay we bring some fresh male meat for your reading pleasure.

Ireland. Shady Pub. 2 Sheep and 1 Zombie meet.

Sharon: Hey Wayne, thanks for inviting us to your side of the pond. Is that the right term?

Wayne: Well, I live by a lough. So pond’s close enough, I guess...

(Sharon: pssst…Katie? I’m gonna go google that word…we don’t want to look like ignorant Americans)

(Katie: yeah totally Sharon, good call! *high fives*)

Katie: Can you tell us a bit about your books and how you came up with the ideas for them?

Wayne: Sure. I’ve written two novels thus far, both of them apocalyptic horrors (or apoc-horror for short – it’s a catchy little moniker I’m trying out).

My debut is called DROP DEAD GORGEOUS. It was originally released through Permuted Press ( and has just seen re-release in the UK (as well as re-writing, re-editing) through the wonderful folks over at Snowbooks ( It’s kinda like a fucked-up take on the zombie mythos, with a quirky cast including a tattoo artist, a radio DJ, two awkward teen lovers and an agoraphobic professor. A lot of the book focuses on how the characters try to make sense of a nonsense ie. waking up to find 99% of those around them dead. There’s mystery, horror, action, angst, romance and sex throughout.

FLU is my most popular novel to date. It’s also available in the UK through Snowbooks. It’s a post-Romero zombie story, set in my hometown of Belfast. Again, the main focus is on the characters but the pace is frantic from start to finish, and – unlike DDG – the zombies show up at the prologue and remain prominent all the way through the novel. FLU was a lot of fun to write.

Both books have just been picked up for publication in Spain and Germany. Sequels are due later in the year.

(Sharon: shhhh, it means, bay)

Sharon: What books do you read that are outside of your genre? What are you reading right now?

Wayne: I read a lot of pulp fiction from the 40s and 50s, people like Day Keene and Milton K. Ozaki. I love thrillers with off-beat characters, books like MONEY SHOT by Christa Faust and KATJA FROM THE PUNK BAND by Simon Logan. Right now I’m reading THE RESIDENT by Francis Cottam. It’s an adaptation of the movie of the same name, one of the first releases through the new HAMMER label.

Katie: The zombies in your books seem to have a coughing and phlegm problem. Has anyone ever thought to off them some Mucinex?

Wayne: Mucinex? Is that American? I don’t speak American too good…

Katie: LOL Yes that's an over the counter pill to control your cough and phlegm problems.

Wayne: Ah. I see. *jots down some notes* So, let’s see... Scratch shotgun head explosion scene and replace with... inhaler scene? Hmmm. Are you girls sure about this?

Katie: Uhhh...well....

Sharon: Do happy endings belong in zombie stories?

Wayne: George A. Romero’s classic z-flick, NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, has the ultimate ending… which ain’t happy! But it’s okay to end on an upbeat note, I guess.

Sharon: that was a trick question Wayne. Everyone has to die!!!!

Wayne: Wellll, not everyone. Not always. Even Romero is known for leaving a couple kicking around at the end. Usually Irish folks. DAY OF THE DEAD, for example. Ends on a lovely beach scene. Almost like a fairytale...

Katie: Would you ever date a zombie IF she was: A. Hott B. Did not infect you C. Had minimal brain function?


A: Yep

B: Who cares – it’s the end of the world!

C: Where do I sign?

Katie: Oh man, you are sooo my kinda guy!

Sharon: I see you have a few tattoos. Do you have a favorite? One you regret?

Wayne: I’ve a few I regret, mostly lazered off and re-tattooed. My favourites? They’re all like children to me…. but I do love my ongoing chest piece by Oz at Sinister Scrawlings. Oz is a fellow horror nut. A trip over to see Oz normally involves, not just more tattooing, but a shed load of horror movies to watch.

I’ve sold/ signed books at Liverpool Tattoo convention for the last three years (in fact I’m just back from there!). All of my books to date have featured tattoos in some way.

In short: I love tattoo culture and I love tattoos.

Katie: If your best friend or *does air quotes* mate became infected with the zombie flu would you lop off their head for the greater good?

Wayne: Yes, and then I would eat them. I would eat the brains of a braineater. Oh yeaaaah…

Katie: Mmm Brains. I also wondered what Brains would taste like…food for thought I guess. *winks*

Wayne: *scratches head*

*sniffs finger then licks it*

Sharon: You have mentioned working on Flu 2. Can you tell us anything about that yet? Does it take place after the events of Flu?

Wayne: Interestingly, it’s both a prequel and a sequel. The surviving cast from FLU all return, but we also have some new faces onboard. It’s an action-packed horror-thriller like FLU, with much zombie mayhem throughout (including some interesting twists on popular mutation tropes!). There’s also a mystery element to the book: we find out what started the virus. Or should that be who…

Katie: So let's talk a bit about your undying love obsession with Wham! lol Spill all the details right now! Why on earth did you posted a video of yourself dancing to those tunes on Facebook?!

Wayne: It was at the SFX Weekender and I was pissed (that’s Norn Irish for drunk, by the way). WHAM were playing and I thought I’d throw some moves. Of course, being pissed, I thought I was dancing like a demon! Alas, as the video shows, I was dancing more like a castrated donkey…

Ah, beer! How thou doth mock me!

Katie: Well I have quite a few of those memories as also, but you won’t find me making a video. Yet...

Sharon: trying to figure out how you know what a castrated donkey dance looks like, nope, don’t think I want to go there….

Wayne: *Weird whining sounds from kitchen*

Geez, would you ever shut up, Tessie...?!

Sharon: Have you given any thought to this years Halloween costume?

Wayne: Oh yes. I’ll be a zombie, signing books somewhere. That’s a given.

Katie: What should I do if I ever encountered the zombies from your book, if of course I wanted to survive?

Wayne: Run. Hide. Be selfish. That’s the best way to survive, unfortunately. But that’s not what we want to read about, is it? We want to read about the monsters, about the heroes and villains and those we can’t pigeon-hole, the unpredictable ones who may pleasantly surprise us or bitterly disappoint us. We want to read about drama. And I love writing drama.

Sharon: When you burn out and need to recharge the soul, what do you do or where do you go?

Wayne: I go for a run with my Jack Russel Terrier (she’s called Dita) and some face-crunching sleaze metal on the boom box. Can’t beat that for unwinding!

Katie: Where can fans find you in the coming months? Any book tours or signings?

Wayne: The best places to keep track of me are facebook and my weblog ( I also contribute regularly to an author’s blog called DARK CENTRAL STATION (

Sharon: An idea or scene pops into your head in the middle of the night! What do you do?

Wayne: Sometimes I write it down – but it doesn’t happen often. I enjoy my sleep too much!

Katie: I am a huge Vamp lover so I must know, will the zombies and vamps ever team up against the humans? Or oh oh better yet will there ever be a zombie/vamp love scene?!

Wayne: Zombie/ vamp love scene?! Are you insane?! *spits out bad taste in mouth*

There have been several books written that pit zombies against vamps, but none – to my knowledge – where they team up.


Katie: Now just wait one sec buster! A zombie/vamp love story is a VERY good idea. *Pats self on the back* How bout this…they team up AND fall in love?

Wayne: It gives new meaning to the phrase ‘Love tears us apart’. I mean, one too many rolls in the hay and Lil’ Miss Zombie might just... break in... two...

Sharon: Have you noticed Katie has a one way mind?

Wayne: There are websites for that sort of thing. Or so I hear.

Katie: Yeah I'm in them already. Sorry guys no cure for the everlasting love I hold in my undead heart for vamps. *big smile*

Katie: Ok last question before we move into the funnest game ever! lol Anyway, in the nursery rhyme Rock-a-bye Baby it tells about the wind blowing this poor child's cradle so hard it falls from a tree top! I really am curious to know who in their right mind would put a baby in a tree top?!

Wayne: Er… *looks at watch* is that the time?

Katie: LOL Somehow that does not surprise me.

Katie: And now we movie into our ever famously known around the world Rapid Fire Round! [Sharon and Katie clap like crazy ladies] I want you to sit back Wayne, clear your mind. Answer with the first thing that pops up. Okay? Ready…….set………GO!

Katie: Care Bears or My Little Pony

Wayne: My ghoulfiend loves My Little Pony. So it has to be the damn nags.

Sharon: City or Country

Wayne: City.

Katie: Ka D'Argo or Worf

Wayne: D’Agro for sure. LOVE Farscape.

Katie: I knew I loved you for a reason! That show ended WAY before it's time. *sighs*

Wayne: Alas, yes. I’ve got a thing for girls with blue skin. I’m dying to pick up the box set and rewatch it all. Next book deal I get, that’s in the cart for sure...

Sharon: Llamas or Alpacas

Wayne: Llamas. I don’t know why…

Katie: Shaun of the Dead or The Walking Dead

Wayne: Preferably both. But if I had to choose one, I’d go for THE WALKING DEAD. Best TV in, like, forever…

Sharon: Moonlight or Sunlight

Wayne: Twilight.

(but not in the literal sense, if you get my meaning…)

Sharon: Er… no, I don’t…am I really that old (wanders off wondering if I turned off the stove..)

Wayne: Oh, you know. Those shiny nice vampires all the kids are into. Give me Spike (a la Buffy) any day to that inspid bloke with the forehead.

Katie: Catapult or Battering Ram

Wayne: Ram it up your arse!

*swallows some pills*

Okay… what was I saying?

Katie: This soooo must be an Irish thing. lol Moving on!


*bangs walking stick*

Katie: Riiiight....

Sharon: Pepsi or Coke

Wayne: I’m going to go for Tesco’s own brand. Just to be awkward.

Katie: *loud buzzer sound* Oh, sorry about that. Looks like the judges will not accept that as an answer. We have Pepsi vs Coke wars going on and will need you to pick one. *coughCOKEcough*

Sharon: you wouldn’t be choking if you were drinking the smooth perfection of Pepsi ;)

Katie: Oh har har. Pick one Wayne….

Wayne: I’ve got at t-shirt with Coca-Cola written in Japanese, so...

Katie: I'll take that as a win for Team Coke!

Katie: Easter Island or Roswell

Wayne: Roswell. They had that dodgy TV series with the funny looking bloke who never spoke much…

Sharon: Toilet Paper hangs from the front or Back of the Roll

Wayne: Back?

Sharon: Did you check next time you went to the bathroom?

Wayne: Haha!

Katie: Sir Mix-A-Lot or Tone Loc

Wayne: Dance-A-Lot?

(especially when WHAM Are playing)

Katie: You and your passion for WHAM it's admirable lol

Wayne: Can’t beat a good bouffant...

Sharon: Slow Meandering Zombies or Fast Agile Ones

Wayne: Burning mutha-fukka zombies!

*takes another pill*

Sharon: Got any extra pills? For Katie, or course.

Katie: No worries, mine are better.

Katie: Hello Kitty or Keroppi

Wayne: Hello nurse!

Katie: Uhh….lol Ok! Hello Kitty it is!

Katie: Thank you so much Wayne for taking the time to chat with us. Would you like to add anything before we close?

Wayne: Just a hearty thanks to both you lovely ladies for taking an interest in my work, and for a fun interview!

*pets nearest sheep*


Katie: Smells nice right? *evil laugh*

Wayne: Fragrant!

While Sharon and I continue to debate over which soda is better we will move on to the Flu Prize Giveaway. In the comments below please make sure to list both things to be automatically entered to win: signed copy of FLU, zombie brain lollipop, zombie breath mints, Hello Kitty stickers and notepad and other sheep swag items!

1. Your Email Address

2. What would you need to kill a zombie with?

Contest ends June 12th 2011 at Midnight. Open to US and International.

Double your chances to win by following our blog.

Good Luck!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

AHITH: Eaters

Another Hole In The Head, Part 8 Film Festival, is taking place in San Francisco June 2-17 at the Roxie Theater. Among the feature films we got to review was the Italian zombie flick Eaters, directed by Luca Boni & Marco Ristori.

Eaters presents a vicious world that’s been devastated by “the great epidemic.” This fun filled romp of violence, mayhem and sly wit centers around two ‘hunters’ of the living dead, Igor and Allen, and the scientist Gyno who is trying to find out what has happened to the human race. In a Mad Max world of full throttle madness we meet a mysterious girl, a crazy painter and a handful of neo-Nazis hell bent on gladiator blood lust.

Eaters is a horror movie for those that love zombies, blood guts fingers and toes, it's gore and cheese all wrapped up in one. As we all know, the best a zombie is a dead zombie. ;) Unfortunately the storyline is a tad confusing, there is talk of a worm causing the epidemic then later of some sort of fertility drug so I was a little uncertain of what was the actual catalyst of the zombie outbreak. But the point is, zombies are here and the world as we know it has been changed. Women were affected first by the outbreak, without us being around to make babies the human race is on the brink of extinction. Plenty of really wacky characters throughout the film have you wondering what the hell kind of drugs is everyone on! (and more importantly where can I get some?) One of the main characters "Igor", who is played by Alex Lucchesi, reminds me of a bad knock-off of Jason Statham. With sideburns to make even Santa jealous this guy is over-the-top in the cheese factor.
Overall the film felt very disjointed when it came to the plot. One second a mad scientist is trying to cure the world by hacking away at infected bodies and the next he is letting the zombies he has captured for "tests" go. Quite a few of the stunts in this film look like elementary school ruff housing, just rolling around on the ground like kids. And it only gets weirder from there. Zombie Death matches that you would never find me signing up for, weird Nazis popping up out of nowhere and a young girl who apparently holds the key to saving humanity. But the film never provides any explanation on why all of this is happening.

I was pretty disappointed in the overall story. I can see how this could have been much better but with the disjointed plot the film never found a rhythm for me. But on the plus side there are a few really humorous parts, some GREAT costumes and makeup and hands down gore galore! It's an Italian film with subtitles, so be prepared.

Eaters will be showing on Friday, June 3rd at 11:30pm and Tuesday, June 14th at 9:20pm. Roxie Theater, 3117 16th Street @ Valencia in San Francisco.

Getting 2 and 1/2 Zombie Impregnating Sheep