Monday, January 19, 2015

Exotic/Disgusting Foods and Beverages Forum--Dock Street "Walker" Beer and Zombie Movie Top 10 List

     Dock Street Brewing Company is a well respected Philadelphia-based brewery and brewpub.  This offering is inspired by the AMC show “The Walking Dead.”  Inspired by, not literally affiliated with it—I don’t think Andrew Lincoln harvested the hops or anything (although his character might have, during the “Farmer Rick” period in the prison in Season 4).  The reason it qualifies for my blog (and honestly, it’s a bit of a stretch) is its zombie theme, and that it contains actual roasted goat brains.
     Walker is a fairly well respected beer, according to reviews.  Men’s Health Magazine, and the websites RateBeer and Beer Advocate all gave it decent, if unspectacular marks.  Good or solid seem to be the consensus.  Type-wise it’s an American pale stout, which is a variety I’ve never heard of before.  It’s brewed with wheat, oats, barley, cranberries (to simulate blood, I guess), and the previously mentioned brains.  And I should thank my friend Cody, for making me aware of this beer, and generously giving me a free one.  Since it’s a small, sought after batch, I’m particularly indebted.
      I had misgivings right off the bat, as stouts are not a beer type I normally enjoy.  And in some ways this foreboding was confirmed—I didn’t love it.  However, evidently I like American pale stouts better than the other subtypes, as I didn’t hate it, either.  I rate it about a C-.  It was slightly short of average, but far from a drain pour.  The goat brains were supposed to give it a smoky flavor.  I was hoping for a rauch bier-ish result (see June 25th, 2012 post), but alas, I didn’t taste anything like that.  Nor did I detect much of the cranberry flavor.  It seemed like a lighter version of a stout.  It did, though, hide its alcohol content (7.2%) well.  So, all in all, I don’t think I’ll have this again, but to those who like stouts, and/or want an atypical beer with a fun label (there’s a zombie on it, of course), it might be a good purchase.  It probably will be a little pricey, and hard to get, though.
     To flesh this post out a little, I thought I’d repost one about zombie movies.  This is one of my first blog posts ever, back from February 2012.  It didn’t appear on this blog, but on my publisher’s blog (  As always, feel free to chime in with your own choices, criticisms, etc.
                                        Top Ten Zombies Movies

     Since my book (“Dead Reckoning” due out February 17th) is about the tragedy that unfolds when a cast and crew filming a low-budget zombie movie meet a group of Luddite campers, I thought it would be appropriate to discuss my Top Ten zombie movies.  To a zombie geek such as myself, whittling the vast number of films I love down to just ten was rather agonizing.  I made an effort to include the major types—a couple of George Romero’s movies (of course), a few Italian opuses (opii?), and a few intentionally funny/satiric films.  Just missing the cut were “Day of the Dead,” “Zombie Holocaust” (AKA “Dr. Butcher, M.D.”), “Let Sleeping Corpses Lie” (AKA “Breakfast at the Manchester Morgue”), “Dellamorte Dellamore” (AKA “Cemetery Man”), and “Prince of Darkness,” among others.  Movies listed in order of release.

1)      “Night of the Living Dead” (1968) Directed by George Romero.  The Granddaddy of the zombies-are-flesh-eaters theme.  Also originator of the idea that every dead body becomes your enemy (with rare exceptions).  Before this movie, zombies were basically fleshy robots, controlled by others, usually in small numbers, and therefore, not as dangerous and frightening.  NOTLD changed this forever, and created zombies as a new horror archetype.  Its unflinching violence and pitch black tone also were innovative at the time.  Truly, this could be said to be the “Citizen Kane” of zombie movies, in that it affected this subgenre and the whole genre of horror profoundly.  It’s never been the same since.
2)      “Dawn of the Dead” (1978)  Directed by George Romero.  Continues and tops the elements from NOTLD.  The hordes of the dead are expanding, and are threatening society.  Romero’s social satire (present in all of his movies, but most noticeable here) is a statement about how consumer culture in the form of shopping malls makes mindless drones of us all.  Very entertaining, with likable characters, good action, and incredible, gruesome gore.
3)      “Zombie” (1979)  Directed by Lucio Fulci.  Fulci’s tour de force about zombies running amok on a tiny Caribbean island.  Nasty, sweaty, and disturbing, yet oh so fun at the same time.  Includes two unforgettable scenes—one a horrifically painful and graphic death from a splinter of wood, the second a fight between a living corpse and a shark (!)  And the latter is real, not CGI.
4)      “Burial Ground” (AKA “The Nights of Terror”) (1981) Directed by Andrea Bianchi.  Another “spaghetti dead” offering, with all the typical elements of that—poor acting, ludicrous storyline, gratuitous nudity and gore, sleaziness of every kind.  To paraphrase John Waters, it’s indefensible, and therefore awesome.  You’ll probably feel the need to take a shower afterwards.  Also notable for the industriousness of the zombies—they show use of tools, and have problem-solving capabilities.
5)      “The Beyond” (1981) Directed by Lucio Fulci.  More Fulci, with all his trademark extreme violence and gore. A woman discovers that the Louisiana hotel she’s inherited is over one of the doors to Hell. The whole film has a dreamlike quality, or more properly, a nightmarish quality.
6)      “Dead and Buried” (1981) Directed by Gary Sherman.  A series of bizarre murders in a quaint New England coastal town bedevils the local sheriff.  Especially when the victims later seem to reappear.  Boasts an effective plot and good acting, along with spectacular special effects.  Oddly poignant, too.
7)      “Return of the Living Dead” (1985)  Directed by Dan O’Bannon.  Clearly meant as a satire of zombie movies (and does an excellent job at this) but also tense and frightening.  The dead are a revelation, too--smarter and nearly indestructible.  Originated the fast zombie idea over fifteen years before the zombie-ish folks of “28 Days Later.”
8)      “Re-Animator” (1985)  Directed by Stuart Gordon.  Loose (in every sense of the word) adaptation of the H. P. Lovecraft story, where university med students learn how to raise the dead, with devastating (yet often humorous) consequences.  Delightfully graphic in every way.
9)      “Braindead” (AKA “Dead-Alive”) (1992) Directed by Peter Jackson.  Before “Lord of the Rings” Peter Jackson put out low-budget, often gleefully gross yet imaginative fare like this.  Completely over the top in all ways—there’s gallons of blood, a zombie baby, ghoul on ghoul sex, reanimated intestines (!), and disturbing Oedipal events.  Despite all of these things (or because of them?) it’s also a sweet love story, and very (intentionally) funny.  Beware the Sumatran Rat Monkey!

10)   “Shaun of the Dead” (2004)  Directed by Edgar Wright.  Another zombie satire, and one of the best.  The dead return to life in England, menacing a slacker and his circle of friends.  More of a comedy than horror movie, but has some intense moments.   

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