Tag Archives: zombies

Mummy’s Mask Chapter 2, Empty Graves – First Session

First Session (15 page pdf) “Auction of Souls” – We are happily selling off our tomb raiding loot when it goes all Walking Dead in the city of Wati.  We save some locals and then start trying to quell the problem.

The auction starts out as an exercise in whipping up the interest of buyers.  Everyone tries to talk the attendees into bidding on our lots. My favorite was the Andorens who were looking for weapons; we had a lot with weapons and a chariot together, but they weren’t interested in the chariot.  But Khaled, knowing Andorens are all about emancipating slaves, spun a tale about Harrieteb Ptubman and her Underground Chariotway in ancient Osirion that helped slaves escape from the pharaohs and they bought it (and the lot!).

amadjawet

Amadjawet the Hot Mummy

And then the zombies attack!  (After we get paid, luckily).  We beat back the first wave but then see a whole bunch of zombie hands coming down the street (from the display of severed thief hands in the public square).  When Usif and Denat go into the kitchen to find something to burn them with they’re beset by what we all agreed was a curiously hot mummy.

We defend the inn for a while until it’s clear it won’t hold up forever; we exfil the noncoms across the roof and withdraw.  We escort them to the Temple of Pharasma where it’s safe.  We get requisitioned to go out as an anti-undead strike force, so we do.

balthemm

Balthemm

We find various targets of opportunity.  We help a priestess named Balthemm by the necropolis wall; she had character art and a hypno-shield and everything so we hope she recurs.  Some of the events are combats, others are irate crowds, friendly fire from others fighting the undead, etc.

Then we find out that Ptemenib the Pharasmin priestess has been nabbed by the Silver Chain, both my thieves’ guild’s enemy but who are also involved in this necromancy business.  But at the same time some rezzed judge is popping out eyeballs of the townsfolk on a murder crusade.  So, we gotta go deal with that… Next time!

P.S. This is what the Internet gives you when you Google “hot mummies”…

Hot Mummies

Hot Mummies

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Reavers on the Seas of Fate – Season Three, Fourth Session

Fourth Session (10 page pdf) – “Zombie Proof” – as if zombie barbarians and zombie Red Mantis assassins aren’t enough, the crew ventures beneath the waves to the wreck of the Tammeraut, following their own fates.

In this session, we resume in mid-fight as the zombies threaten to overwhelm the hermitage on Firewatch Island. When they all have to fall back and barricade themselves into the scriptorium to avoid the undead hordes comes my favorite dialogue of the session:

Daphne says, “It’s days like this I’m glad I was kidnapped by pirates.”

I turned the spellcasting into a mini-game to race against time, and when Wogan and Janore finally got the spell cast they doubled down on the existing storm to waterspouts that cleansed the island of zombies!

The generic ghost that’s the end of Tammeraut’s Fate is instead part of the legacy of the shadow phantom-haunted members of the small band that got Cypher-glyphs exploded into them at the climax of Season One, Madness in Riddleport. The ongoing theme of the corruption of that kind of magic continues!  And then, they depart with a spell that can find them the Black Bunyip and Morgan Baumann!

Reavers on the Seas of Fate – Season Three, Third Session

Third Session (17 page pdf) – “Reindeer Games” – Survivors are found in the monastery! And then, it’s John Carpenter’s “The Fog” time as waterlogged zombies besiege the place.

We continue with the classic Tammeraut’s Fate from Dungeon Magazine. The first part is all investigation and talking to Janore, the remaining hermit worth talking to.  It gets more lively with the (advanced) peryton attack that almost kills Sindawe. The party was grumped that it snuck up on them “in the sky” but the belfry has only pretty narrow windows and a roof and all, it’s not high visibility unless you walk around sticking your head out to look up and down.

My favorite part was when they had the ship send a longboat – the pirates didn’t know anything was up, so when Sindawe told them “send spears, there may be an undead attack tonight” they thought he was being coy, and returned dressed as zombies. “The disappointed pirates return to their ship, pausing to moan for brains from time to time.”

Then they encounter two hags… I wasn’t even thinking, in the adventure it’s just like Sea Hag (2).  But of course the PCs immediately came to the conclusion that Janore must be the third hag in the coven. (Heck in our current Carrion Crown campaign, the party’s ready to lynch three sisters who live together on the grounds that they’re surely witches or hags.)

This was nice and sandboxy – “Here’s a location, harden it against an undead attack!” They came up with every plan they could, then when night falls they fight a very large supply of draugr (drowned Vikings) while Wogan and Janore use a scroll to whip the storm into a hurricane. The dramatic finale, next time!

Fantastic Fest 2010 Day Six

Day 6, I wasn’t going to mess around – I put down five movies like they were unruly hookers.

First up, the awesome Rare Exports (8/10).  Scandinavians have weird myths, and this one delves into the early Swedish myths of Santa Claus – think less “jolly old Nick” and more “demented goat-beast.”   It’s the tale of a boy and his (modern day) reindeer-ranching village as Christmas approaches.  Some Americans (those goddamn Americans are always behind it) are blasting up on a nearby mountain, and it appears wolves have eaten all the reindeer…  But then you find out that the mountain may be where the natives froze and buried Santa because he was so nasty….  And next thing you know there’s fifty naked old guys running through the snow chasing a little boy.  This was a very enjoyable movie, it never goes over the line to slasher horror but you really think that any minute it’s going to…

There was a cool short before it, Unholy Night,  that similarly deals with the Icelandic Santa myths, in which there are 13 Santas, one of which is named “Meathook.”  You can imagine how that ends up.  They want to parlay the short into a film with all 13 Santas.  Sounds like a winning idea for a one-season Showtime special to me!

Then it was time for Mutant Girls Squad (6/10), the newest from the three Japanese psychos behind Tokyo Gore Police, Robogeisha, and Be A Man! Samurai School.  It’s Troma-esque schlocky gore.  I didn’t find it too engaging.  It was better than last year’s Vampire Girl vs Frankenstein Girl at least, but there’s only so far the sophomoric imagery takes you – “Girl with a chainsaw coming out her ass” and “Girl with katanas coming out of her breasts” were two of the characters in this flick.  It was enjoyable in a middle school kind of way for the first hour, and then I got sleepy.

Next was a real high point, Drones (9/10) – like Office Space, but with aliens!  Kinda.  A true low budget success, we get a tale of intergalactic domination told only with office workers in cubicles.  The writing is the real star here, and the film is clever and engaging.  The protagonist, “Brian”, discovers in short order that both his best friend and his girlfriend are alien infiltrators, but from different races that oppose each other…  But it doesn’t go all “Bros vs Hoes,” it’s a good-hearted film where the characters pull together.  Very, very funny.  We all came out of that showing reinvigorated and chatty.

Then we watched The Dead (7/10).  Fair warning, the people I was with liked this film less than I did.  They shot a zombie outbreak movie in Africa, on the border of Sierra Leone and Burkina Faso.  An American military man involved in some brushfire war there gets stranded when a zombie outbreak happens.  He travels across the country, teaming up with a local military man for much of the journey.

This film just didn’t have the bite it should have.  First of all, “zombie outbreak” is only about a 6 on the 1-10 scale of fucked up shit that happens in that part of Africa every day.  The filmmaker shied away from showing any of that, possibly out of ultra sensitivity to the inevitable charges of racism that would follow.  (They talked about some of the Internet nimrods that are already tooting that horn; there is absolutely no reason for it but people like to bring themselves some measure of fame by crapping on other stuff.)  Second of all, they talked about the transformation of the main character from selfish to altruistic over the course of the film, but the movie I saw doesn’t support that one bit (that he was that selfish, or that he changed).  I did like how the people in the movie weren’t all “turn on each other and be more dangerous than the zombies,” that’s such a cliche now; seeing even disparate people band together despite their differences (besides black/white, they were on opposite sides in a war a day ago) in the face of such a threat.

A side note, they started this movie way before Resident Evil decided to have its newest incarnation in Africa, so no copycat charges please.  I think some of the problem may be that they just couldn’t get some of the scenes they wanted in the can; between customs delays and bribery and being held at gunpoint and knifepoint and suffering from dysentery, they really had a hellish time trying to make a movie in Africa.  There’s a scene where he finds a baby and gives it away to some soldiers about one minute after; the director expressed his frustration that they wanted to do more with that but just ran up against the limits of their time in country.

Finally, we had Rammbock (9/10), a German zombie outbreak movie.  A sad sack going to bug his ex-girlfriend gets caught up in an outbreak and he and several other residents of the townhouse barricade themselves in and have to help each other.  This film also had a fairly positive view of human nature post-zombie, though there was the one “Mr. Twitchy” who endangers everyone by being a big selfish tool.

I thought their take on the zombie outbreak was a very compelling one. It’s a disease, and the result is 28 Days Later style fast-zombies, but you find out that being bitten isn’t 100% fatal, and that an infected’s immune system might fight it off if they stay calm and avoid adrenaline rush.  So you have a reason to not just kill anyone bitten, and a reason to be seeking after sedatives and other McGuffins.  It opens up a lot of interesting avenues that the now-traditional zombie disease closes, and I’d be interested in seeing more riffs on it.

It was also clever in that all their attempts for random townspeople to confront zombies with violence end badly – they really have to use their brains, they don’t all go Ash like so many movies depict.

This was one of the best days of the fest!  But even better is yet to come…

Fantastic Fest 2010 Day Two

Man, I’m lagging behind with the blogging, this schedule is brutal.  Fantastic Fest Day Two, and even getting to the theater at 9:30 to wait in line to pick up tickets for noon showings means you are way back in that line.

Today’s slate started out with Mother’s Day (7/10), a home-invasion film that on the one hand was a remake of the Troma dark humor/abduction horror “Mother’s Day” but on the other was an adaptation of a real life horror story, the Wichita Massacre.  Director Darren Bousman (Saw I-III, Repo! The Genetic Opera) needed something easy to get off the ground, and Hollywood loves remakes, so in traditional exploitation film fashion he agreed to do one thing while using it to do another – he had always wanted to make a script called “Wichita” he had read, about a horrific series of crimes in Kansas, but no one would touch the dark subject matter.  In an interesting twist that makes the movie seem like a sequel to The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, Rebecca DeMornay is “Mother,” a woman who kidnaps babies and turns them into her own little criminal family.  The three brothers are off on a bank-robbing spree when one of them gets shot, and they retreat home, only to find out that the house got foreclosed on and Mother and their sister have moved out, and the new tenants are having a big party as a storm rolls in.  They take them captive, call Mother, and the torture/murder/robbery/rape/etc begins.

I enjoyed Mother’s Day.  I am not a big torture porn fan and don’t like the Saw movies, but I thought this was a bit better in that it had more reasoning to it that most of that genre – not simply “we like to torture people because we are inexplicably into that”; they need medical help, money, escape, and to control a house full of people, and being monsters that’s the way they go about it.  And it was great having Brousman and others in attendance, the Q&A was so interesting it made me like the movie better.  For example, the movie was shot at 5 hours long and had entire characters – both victims and perpetrators – that were cut out to get it to theatrical release.  And they were shooting a bank robbery escape film in Winnipeg without a permit and got mistaken for real robbers, leading to a massive police mobilization with the cast and crew being taken at gunpoint.

Next, I saw a Hong Kong film, Dante Lam’s Fire of Conscience (7/10).  This wasn’t innovative, but I like the genre – the film brings to mind scenes and characters from the classics Hard Boiled, The Killer, City on Fire, and Organized Crime and Triad Bureau.  Star Leon Lai does his best Chow Yun Fat impression while giving bad guys the beatdown; his squad of cops takes a good number of casualties in the inevitable huge tea-house shootouts.  In the end it’s just “another film, you know, like those other ones I listed” but heck, I like all those movies, so it was nice to watch a newer one.

That was followed up by Zombie Roadkill (7/10), which was put together from a series of Web shorts that are going to be running on FEARnet soon.  A campy little set, this is about some kids who are driving down a cursed stretch of road where roadkill comes back to life looking for REVENGE!  Think “Furry Vengeance but with exploding heads.”  It’s funny and totally unrealistic, and there’s a hilarious monologue from Thomas Haden Church as the park ranger where he explains that this stretch of road was built over an Indian burial ground and witches were burned here by Puritans and then the Puritans were burned and the government did experiments on child molesters and and…  Plus they gave out “roadkill” tacos afterward.  Anyway, it was short and goofy, and it’s a web series so you should probably watch it.

Do you think I’m done?  Oh, no.  This was a FULL Fantastic Fest day, which means two more movies.

30 Days of Night: Dark Days (6/10) is a sequel to the somewhat interesting vampire movie 30 Days of Night where an Alaskan town is taken over and pretty much wiped out by a vicious mob of vampires.  The sole survivor of that movie steps into what could be a “John Carpenter’s Vampires” sequel, and hooks up with some other people who Know the Truth ™ to hunt them some vampires.  They suck at it and largely get killed.

I didn’t dislike this movie as much as the other people I saw it with did.  I thought it was more well done than some of those aforementioned Carpenter ones (does he do all the editing himself, or does he have some buddy who’s a shitty editor?  Because every movie of his since Prince of Darkness has had awful editing.).  The two female leads were in attendance, and were cutely sloshed out of their minds for the Q&A.  I mean, it’s not “good” in the traditional sense, but as someone who once went on a quest to watch all the vampire movies he could get his hands on, it’s certainly not in the bottom half of that crowd.

Although we did all burst into laughter at the vampires screeching at each other like pterodactlys getting their nutsacks stomped.  In the first movie, they all spoke some weird Eastern European type of language.  In this one, only the “borg queen” leader seems to, the rest all just squeal.  There’s one scene where they seemingly conduct a lengthy conversation.

Vampire 1: “SKREEEEEEEEE!”
Vampire 2: “SKREEEEEEEEE!”
Vampire 1: “SKREEEEEEEEE!”
Vampires 3 and 4, in unison: “SKREEEEEEEEE!”

WTF.

And finally, I saw The Violent Kind (8/10) by the Butcher Brothers (Mitchell Altieri and Phil Flores).  I didn’t expect much from the blurb in the program, but the porn stars handing out Pabst Blue Ribbon as we entered piqued my interest and the movie really delivered a heaping helping of B-movie fun!  A biker gang has a birthday party for one of it’s founders’ old ladies up in a house in the woods, and after most of them leave bad things start to happen, from possession to home invasion to unexplained electrical failures to lap dances (well, OK, that was from earlier). It was like Sons of Anarchy meets Evil Dead II with Blue Velvet thrown in – as well as bits of everything from The Exorcist to The Faculty.  It was a lot of fun; it was probably my biggest pleasant surprise of the day.

And that’s the end of Day Two.  I liked The Violent Kind the best, followed by Mother’s Day, Fire of Conscience, Zombie Roadkill, and 30 Days of Night: Dark Days.

Fantastic Fest – Rec 2

REC” is the film on which the U.S. movie Quarantine was based.  I never saw REC, but did see Quarantine.  REC 2 picks up immediately (like about thirty seconds) after the end of REC, Halloween 2 style.  From what I can see, there is about zero meaningful difference between REC and Quarantine because everything was as I remembered it from the American remake.

We pick up with a SWAT team and “Ministry of Health” official entering the cordoned building which, as we know from REC 1/Quarantine, is full of “fast zombie” victims of some unknown plague.  The big twist (stop reading if you don’t like spoilers) here is that the “official” is really a priest and the plague, though spread like a normal blood/fluid zombie thing, is a demonic infestation.  The Vatican got a hold of a possessed girl and decided to do scientific experiments on her to find an “antidote.”  And thus the killing begins.  Some of the original cast return, and some more hapless camera-loving kids wander in to provide more points of view (as the core conceit is that everything in the film was captured on one real camera or another – the reporter’s camera from the first movie, the SWAT team’s helmet cams, and the kids’ camcorder).

REC 2 was entertaining enough, and well done.  Nothing to gush over, but it’s definitely a sequel that’s as good as the original, so if you liked Quarantine you’ll like this.