Trust me. Christmas shopping sucks a dong. This year, in the spirit of giving, I’m here to offer you some advice about what to buy the people in your life who like nerdy, spooky stuff. My gift to you: A little stress relief. I’m not the kind of blog that gets a lot of substantial freebies so in some cases, these are items that I have reviewed based on freebies sent to me by the companies, but I wouldn’t recommend them to you unless I actually endorsed them as a quality product. Others are some shit that I happen to think are sweet based on personal interactions. All links below will take you to Amazon where you can order these items and in the interest of disclosure, I do get a piece of the action if you choose to do this, so buy something sweet and support Cinema Suicide. Happy holidays!
Badass: A Relentless Onslaught of the Toughest Warlords, Vikings, Samurai, Pirates, Gunfighters, and Military Commanders to Ever Live by Ben Thompson
Recently reviewed in the Suicidal Book Club, Badass is a catalog of the personalities noted in the title above written using the language of your average 12 year old male on the internet. Short of using actual internet shorthand, the book recounts the lives of the most intense individuals ever to live and subjugate entire cultures. It’s absolutely hilarious from cover to cover and as well as detailing the deeds of well-known conquerors, it also features people you may not be familiar with.
Battlestar Galactica: The Board Game from Fantasy Flight Games
Product tie-ins for movies and TV shows are typically poor representatives of the vibe and appeal of the show they’re tied into but the Battlestar Galactica boardgame, based on the hit Sci-Fi channel series is as close as you get, which is saying quite a bit. Each playthrough is a perfect emulation of the drama and paranoia of the original series thanks to a set of tight rules and cooperative play that seems overwhelming at first but is, in fact, pretty easy. Players assume the roles of the show’s major characters and pool their resources to overcome crises as they are presented but from the start, hidden among your ranks, are secret Cylons out to remain hidden while sabotaging the Galactica’s progress. Games last, typically, 2 to 3 hours and are tense from start to finish. It’s an outstanding game that made me finally get off my ass and watch the series.
DMZ Vol. 1: On the Ground by Brian Wood and Riccardo Burchielli
I’ve been calling DMZ by Brian Wood and Riccardo Burchielli one of the best ongoing comics of this decade. It’s the story of Matt Roth, an intern photojournalist for a big news organization. When the chopper dropping him in the the DMZ, aka the lower east side of Manhattan, during America’s second civil war, is attacked and destroyed, he is left with no guide, no sense of the streets and what little equipment managed to survive the wreck in order to tell the story of life inside the DMZ. It’s an allegory for people trying to make their way and resume their lives in warzone no-man’s lands like Baghdad and Kabul and is one of the most compelling reads of the decade. The storytelling is sharp and the art is appropriately urban. It’s a little bit Escape From New York, a little bit The Warriors with dialog straight out of The Wire and it would make a killer TV series. I cannot recommend this comic enough. Buy the collected trades. They come with all sorts of cool extras and you won’t have to wait an agonizing month between monthlies to see how the story turns out.
The Twilight Zone: Unlocking the Door to a Television Classic by Martin Grams
This book won a Rondo Award last year for being the final word on a well trodden path. There has been no shortage of examination of Rod Serling’s seminal series, The Twilight Zone, but assembled here for the first time ever is the ultimate tome of knowledge for that friend of yours who thinks they know it all about this shit. The Twilight Zone: Unlocking the Door to a Television Classic will prove them wrong and teach them thing or two about what really went down in those early days. For fans of the Twilight Zone, this is an absolute must have.
Left 4 Dead 2 by Valve (for Xbox 360 and Windows)
The original Left 4 Dead was one of the finest online experiences I’ve ever had. Typical public gaming over Xbox Live is an exercise in agony and the Live social experience is a collective chatroom akin to Lord of the Flies having been rewritten by T-Pain but Left 4 Dead took this wasteland of wasted braincells and leveraged it to create something more than a game about shooting zombies in the head. The sequel took that four strangers survival horror trope and elevated it to new heights with new maps, new weapons and new thrills. It also adds a new dynamic world building system to make sure that you never play the same game twice. It is the king of replay and I couldn’t get enough versus mode play.
Saga of the Swamp Thing by Alan Moore and Stephen Bissette
You can either hunt these books down at comic shows or on Ebay and pay out the nose for them or you can spring for the trade paperbacks, which is the only way to go unless you’re a diehard. Thanks to the enduring popularity of these iconic horror comics made legend by comic book madman, Alan Moore and a name as synonymous with Moore as Dave Gibbons, I speak of Stephen Bissette, DC has issued two of these great collections in beautiful hardback editions and I cannot recommend them enough. The only comic to ever bring a tear to my eye, Swamp Thing retcons the original Swamp Thing story and tells a series of stories so mature, so complex that DC didn’t know what to do with them. Their popularity ushered in a new age for comics and helped established the Vertigo range of books proving to the world that yes, adults can like comic books. Beautifully penciled with a series of stories that are horrifying, funny and tragically romantic. Edward and Bella have nothing on the former Alec Holland and Abby Arcane.
Shock Festival by Stephen Romano
There was a lot of confusion last year when Shock Festival was released as to what it actually was. Billed as a coffee table book, it cataloged, exhaustively, data and anecdotes about some of the grindhouse’s filthiest treasures but in fact, it a pure work of fiction by horror artist, Stephen Romano. The catch is that not one word of it is true. This is a work of obsessive madness, a love letter to theaters with sticky floors having nothing to do with spilled cola. It embraces the decay of fifty seat theaters and dilapidated drive-ins where double features were both b-movies. Everyone who reads this site with any kind of regularity should buy this book and make love to every page.
Monster Kid Home Movies
A gigantic collection of home movies made in their childhood by people you may know as movers and shakers in the horror genre today, Monster Kid Home Movies is the ultimate homage to those formative years where horror wrapped its claws around us all and never let go. Monster Kid Home Movies showcases the schlocky amateur offerings of young kids making their own horror movies and more times than not, doing a better job with make up and special effects than they had any right doing. Most of the time, the result is silly, but it’s cute and it’s fun and it makes you wish you could go back to being a kid again.