March 31, 2015

While on my submarine kick during the writing of CRASH DIVE, coming in April, I stuck with nonfiction and episodes of THE SILENT SERVICE, which is based on nonfiction accounts of submarine adventures during WWII. I didn’t want to read the classics like DAS BOOT. Sometimes, when you write a certain type of novel, it’s good to read a lot in that genre, as it keeps you in the mood and can inspire some ideas. Other times, it’s a risk. You might end up reading that truly killer book that discourages you from writing your book, because you can’t get your head out of the story you just read and into your own. You find yourself trying too hard to either write or not write the classic, either of which spells trouble for a writer looking for his own story.

After seeing DAS BOOT, I knew the book might be like that, so I avoided it until after I was done writing. (I’m reading it now, and so far, so good.) Then I found out about another classic submarine tale, RUN SILENT, RUN DEEP by Edward Beach. It’s a good thing I didn’t, as there are some common elements between that story and CRASH DIVE. I’ll be reading the book soon, but enjoyed watching the 1958 film starring the great Clark Gable and, one of my favorite actors, Burt Lancaster.

The film is about two men who personally clash against each other and the Japanese during the Pacific War. One is Richardson (Gable), a senior submarine captain with a desk job at Pearl Harbor, who every day for a year broods over the loss of his boat to a Japanese destroyer that has a legendary ability to kill subs. Bledsoe (Lancaster) is an executive officer about to be promoted to command his own boat. Bad news for Bledsoe–Richardson has convinced the admiralty to give him Bledsoe’s command. His goal: Take it into the Bungo Straits and find the destroyer that destroyed his boat and career.

The film contains a lot of terrific elements: loyalty, courage, vendetta and honor, all against the backdrop of WWII. Richardson is obsessed, but as a commander with a crew’s lives in his hand, what price is he willing to pay to get what he wants? Bledsoe was shunted aside because of Richardson’s power play and openly resents it, but is he going to settle his own scores, or does he have the integrity to serve the rank if not the man who holds it?

After doing a ton of research into WWII submarines, I can tell you the film is as authentic as it gets in terms of what service was like on one of the fleet boats. It’s not surprising Beach, author of the book on which the film is based, actually served on submarines in the Pacific during the war against Japan.

Overall, I loved it, it was a great find. The story starts as an engaging personal conflict and ramps up the tension until it becomes a taut thriller that in my view could compete today with the best Hollywood thrillers.

The book has something of a different plot, and I look forward to reading it. The book is very hard to find, as it’s been out of print for years, but you can watch the film starting here:

March 30, 2015

You know how in every zombie or outbreak movie there’s a map showing a big red glowing splotch illustrating the spread of the virus?

Bye, bye, Europe. From WWZ.

Well, now you can make your own!

Cornell University graduates have created an online interactive map showing what a zombie outbreak would look like. It’s fun stuff like this that helps us understand how real outbreaks work.

You can control kill-to-bite ratio, zombie speed and number of steps. You then place your zombie in a populated area, grab some popcorn and watch the end of the world.

New York always gets it in these scenarios.

I had a little trouble getting the program to work with altered parameters. I also thought it would have been interesting to account for air travel, resulting in multiple outbreaks.

Make your own outbreak here.

March 27, 2015 recently reviewed SUFFER THE CHILDREN, saying the novel “draws a clear portrait of how a loving parent can turn into a monster for all the wrong reasons. SUFFER THE CHILDREN offers plenty of gore and spectacular horror scenes, but its the psychological accuracy of such a disaster scenario that makes it such a terrifying novel …

“SUFFER THE CHILDREN is absolutely harrowing, so emotionally demanding that it becomes physically exhausting, it’s convincing as all hell. I don’t think it’s a novel that’s meant to be enjoyed in the traditional sense of the term. It’s meant to challenge you, test your empathy against difficult fictional scenarios and open up your perspective about the end of the world. If you thought that THE STAND was some kind of ultimate apocalyptic horror scenario, you’ve haven’t experienced the real deal yet.”

Wow. Thanks, Ben!

Click here to read the complete review.

March 25, 2015

EXTINCTION EVENT from Dystopian Industries is a horror web series following a band of survivors forced to navigate a hostile world in the aftermath of an apocalyptic viral outbreak. The infected have overrun civilization and among the survivors, paranoia and mistrust are rampant.

Written and directed by Rob Larkin, the first three episodes of Extinction Event star Regina Chen, Melissa Gratia and John Valley with cinematography from M. Andrew Barrera.

Below is the teaser trailer. Click here to watch the series, which I thought was pretty good. The order of episodes is Day Three, God & Country and The Cure.

Extinction Event from Dystopian Industries on Vimeo.

March 24, 2015