There’s an interesting new Indiegogo campaign for UMW (United Weapons Master) looking to raise $100,000 to fund further development of their Lorica suit of customized intelligent combat armor (Named after the Roman Legion armor). Currently the campaign has raised over $40,000 in 8 days. The plan is to create a whole new venue for martial and weapons artists to safely display their full contact fighting talents for fighting fans around the globe. As our favorite Starship Trooper media guy might ask: Would you like to know more? (more…)

Amazon Studios has big ambitions to get into the independent movie-making game, attempting to rival Netflix and get a piece of the money to be had.  Of the 16 different projects that they currently have going, one in particular stands out as having the potential to be one of the best, or perhaps worst of the lot.  It is called Zombies vs. Gladiators and it’s about… well, zombies fighting Roman gladiators.

At first glance this sounds like something that you’d see popping up as a target for Rifftrax.  At second glance, however, you’ll find that famous horror icon Clive Barker has attached his name to the project in the form of a rewrite on the script.  Is this just an attempt to make the movie marketable?  Let’s examine the facts, shall we?

Here’s a brief release on the general plot of the film:

…a shaman about to die in the Coliseum casts a spell that rouses history’s first wave of zombies. It’s up to a gladiator to stop the spread of the zombie horde and save Rome.

Okay, still sounding like a big, fat turkey.  Let’s hear what Mr. Barker has to say about the project:

I’m excited by the opportunity to interweave two very rich narrative threads.  One of them concerns itself with the reality of the decadence of Rome and its rise and fall. The other is a fantastical narrative element – the living dead. My brief to myself on this project is to give the audience not only zombies they have never seen before but also a Rome they have never seen before.

From the way he describes it, the movie starts to sound a little tasty.  The potential for a stylistic film filled with Barker’s classic horror elements is there.  But the third and final test – will Amazon simply take his rewrite and then do whatever they feel is going to sell rather than stick to what the author produces?  Will what can be a unique and interesting concept be mired down in production and directorial decisions that defy common sense and good taste?

Here’s a hopeful statement from Barker on that note:

Amazon Studios offered up the dream ticket with this project. In twenty five years of working in this town, I’ve rarely had people listen to what I had to say as closely and as carefully as they did and then simply give me the freedom to go do it.

Well, the movie is passing the tests, at least in theory.  Unfortunately, other than the name and the blurbs, little else in known about the project.  Rumors put Barker as director, though these are unconfirmed.  Still, Zombies vs. Gladiators has the potential to be either one cool cult classic or a huge pile of grade-B cinematic vomit.

Keep your fingers crossed, Nerdreaders, and check back for more breaking developments from The Bastards.


Thanks to The Mary Sue and Chicago Tribune for the info. on this one.

Starz returns us to the ancient world of gladiators and Roman decadence with their third season of the sensational swords-and-sandals series, Spartacus: Vengeance. Picking up only a few weeks after season one, the freed gladiators who rebelled against their lanista and master, Batiatus, are now fugitives hiding in the sewers of Capua. Or, fugitivus, as the episode is titled.

For weeks they’ve been terrorizing the city, killing Romans and stealing food and supplies. But their rebellion is becoming weak, splintered, as the freed slaves are beginning to grow hungry and restless. The gladiators are split between two leaders with different goals; Spartacus (Liam McIntyre) seeks revenge for the death of wife while Crixus (Manu Bennett) is determined to be reunited with his love, Naevia, a former slave of the house Batiatus.

The episode opens with Spartacus leading an attack on mercenaries sent to hunt them down. They’re dealt with swiftly and gruesomely. On one of the dead soldier’s chests Spartacus carves a name. Whose name? Why, old friend Gaius Claudius Glaber (Craig Parker) the Roman army legatus now praetor responsible for selling his wife into slavery and eventual death.

Once word of Spartacus’ message reaches Rome, Glaber is sent back to Capua to deal with the mess he’s made. You see, Glaber was responsible for bringing Spartacus to Capua in the first place, where he showed promise in the arena and was bought by Batiatus, a power-hungry and presumptive lanista who sought to rise high in Roman society. Batiatus then blackmailed Glaber into giving his ludus patronage after his batshit crazy wife, Ilithyia (Viva Bianca) kind of-sort of murdered someone and Batiatus covered it up. For Glaber, being linked to Spartacus and his rebellion is putting a nasty stain on his fancy new praetor robes.

For Ilithyia, returning to Capua is like reliving a nightmare. The friendship she began with Batiatus’ wife, Lucretia (Lucy Lawless), almost destroyed her, literally. She was at the ludus, as were many of Capua’s nobles, when Spartacus’ rebellion began. She barely escaped and ordered her guards to lock the doors, condemning everyone still within to a bloody, bloody death. And guess what!? Upon their return to Capua there’s only one residence suited to Glaber’s needs of hunting down Spartacus, it’s the lovely house and ludus of Batiatus! Still with that fresh, recently massacred Roman smell. And it seems the residence is not completely unoccupied.

But what of the arena? Who will fight and die spectacularly in order to please the mob? Since Spartacus’ rebellion it’s clear the quality of gladiators has suffered, and the crowds as well as Capua’s elite are tiring of the boring matches. In attendance is Seppius, a young man of noble birth seeking to capture Spartacus and be honoured for it. He’s joined by his sister, Seppia and their relationship reeks of more than sibling affection. (Note: Their relationship was initially intended to be incestuous but the show’s creators didn’t want to appear to be stealing the idea from HBO’s Game of Thrones and their incestual power couple, the Lannisters.)

Back with the fugitive gladiators, Spartacus and Aurelia (wife of Varro, Spartacus’ only true friend at the ludus who Spartacus was ordered to kill) share a quiet moment. Spartacus gives Aurelia the coin he’s managed to save off dead Romans in the hopes she can find her son, leave the borders of Rome’s empire, and be free. It’s a nice sentiment, but if you learn anything from watching Spartacus, there are no happy endings.

Finally we get to what’s made this series such a hit, sex and slaughter. Crixus and Spartacus seek out a slaver to find some answers about where Naevia was sold. They enter a whorehouse and proceed to kill a bunch of naked people. Nothing’s quite a brothel buzzkill like having your dick severed by a pissed-off Gaul. In the end all they learn of Naevia is she was sold off to a villa in the south, but more importantly they learn Rome is sending an army to end their rebellion. A real Roman army led by Glaber.

Spartacus’ lust for vengeance takes over and instead of heeding caution and joining Crixus in his search for Naevia, he plans to confront Glaber while he makes a speech in the town square. Glaber has come to appease the worried crowds of Capua’s citizens, promising to end Spartacus’ rebellion swiftly. He brings forth a former Batiatus slave captured while trying to flee. It’s Aurelia, bloodied and beaten almost beyond recognition. In his fury, Spartacus’ attacks from where he was concealed in the crowd, seeking out Glaber. The two fight and before Spartacus is overtaken by guards backup arrives in the form of Crixus and the other gladiators. The reclaim Aurelia and escape.

As Aurelia lays dying from her wounds she makes Spartacus promise to stay away from her son for she, “would not have him die in your wake as his father and mother.” Oooh. Burn. After this Spartacus agrees to join Crixus in his search for Naevia, but as they travel south they will free every slave they come upon until they have raised an army. Then they will return and kill Glaber and every Roman standing in their way.

Spartacus truly is back with a vengeance and this season promises to shock us with even more insane, over-the-top violence, debauchery and sex than ever before. I absolutely love the tenuous alliance between Spartacus and Crixus and I’m sure as the season continues we’ll see them clash again and again. Liam McIntyre steps into the role of Spartacus as if he had been playing him all along. In no way do you feel he’s trying to impersonate Andy Whitfield’s performance, but come the end of the episode he is Spartacus, no questions asked. In our interview with some of the show’s stars, Craig Parker (Glaber), mentioned how the actors felt they were working in very different camps. There’s the slaves and the Romans, and I’m interested to see what different challenges the characters face in their respective “arenas.” Particularly Ilithyia having to deal with a deranged, but totally not dead, Lucretia. Viva Bianca and Lucy Lawless’ scenes together were definite highlights of season one and I’m only looking forward to more. Of the new characters introduced, I think the siblings Seppius and Seppia will be fantastic to watch. Incest or not. Who knows what kind of trouble they’ll be stirring up this season.

Make sure you tune in Fridays at 10pm on Starz. Below, watch the trailer for this season of Spartacus: Vengeance.

Starz hasn’t had the same kind of success with their original series as say, HBO or Showtime. Camelot was canceled before its first season ended and even popular properties like Torchwood haven’t fared too well on the premium channel. But don’t count them out of the original programming market yet, their biggest hit is one hell of a contender.  Returning for its third season, a first for a Starz show, is Spartacus: Vengeance. Vengeance is the sequel to Spartacus‘ first season, Blood and Sand, which aired in 2010. Spartacus: Gods of the Arena, which aired in between Blood and Sand and Vengeance, was a prequel season.

If you’re unfamiliar with the extremely graphic, sword-and-sandal drama I’ll summarize: Spartacus follows an enslaved Thracian turned gladiator who leads an uprising against the Roman ruling class. The first season dealt primarily with Spartacus’ rise as a gladiator and his revolt against his master. Vengeance will see us following the escaped gladiators and slaves as they begin their rebellion.

Did I mention this show is graphic? Good, because it is excessively so, but that’s part of the fun. The show’s creators wanted a truthful interpretation of Ancient Roman society, and they nailed it. Spartacus is gory, like, really gory. But it’s also gory in a fun, comic book way with blood spraying across the screen. It’s also very graphic in its sexual content, another accuracy from Roman culture. For realz, sometimes this show could be considered soft-core porn. It’s dirty, it’s gritty, and it’s an all around fantastic show because for all its sex and violence, they’re telling a great story, too.

The first episode of Vengeance airs this Friday at 10pm on Starz (the first season is available on Netflix Instant) and in a promotional build up Nerd Bastards was invited to sit in on a press conference call with some of the show’s stars. On the call were Manu Bennett (Crixus), Craig Parker (Gaius Claudius Glaber), Nick Tarabay (Ashur) and Dan Feuerriegel (Agron). They answered a multitude of questions about filming, what we can expect from their characters this season, as well what the transition has been like with Liam McIntyre taking over the role of Spartacus. (Andy Whitfield who played the role in Blood and Sand sadly passed away from  non-Hodgkin lymphoma in September of last year.)

The guys gave some really thoughtful and thorough responses. Check ’em out below the cut.


Spartacus Vengence Extended Teaser Trailer


Spartacus is back with a vengence . . . yeah, it is a little too early in the week for puns, but this extended teaser trailer for the January premiere on Starz looks terrific. Forgetting all the tragedy that this show has endured with the death of Andy Whitfield, there are still some amazing stories to be told.

Lucretia – the baby, her revenge.

The Slave uprising and battles.

Ilithyia – she has some payback coming.

Those are the top concerns for this NerdBastard. The show has been a great ride, the bloody fights, the sex, the merkins. Everything is set at eleven. Below is the series synopsis and the teaser trailer. 

Here’s the synopsis:

On the heels of the bloody escape from the House of Batiatus that concluded Spartacus: Blood and Sand, the gladiator rebellion continues and begins to strike fear into the heart of the Roman Republic in Spartacus: Vengeance. Gaius Claudius Glaber and his Roman troops are sent to Capua to crush the growing band of freed slaves that Spartacus leads before it can inflict further damage. Spartacus is presented the choice of satisfying his personal need for vengeance against the man that condemned his wife to slavery and eventual death or making the larger sacrifices necessary to keep his budding army from breaking apart. Containing all of the blood-soaked action, exotic sexuality, and villainy and heroism that has come to distinguish the series, the tale of Spartacus resumes in epic fashion.

Spartacus Gets “Thumbs Up” on Third Season

Starz is showed it’s happiness with the success of the Spartacus franchise and ordered a third season before the second season of the series had even premiered. Spartacus: Vengeance premieres on January 27 and production on the yet to be named third season is set to begin in New Zealand in early 2012.

“Many surprises are in store for Vengeance viewers this year, but rest assured the multi-layered plot and richly developed characters will continue to be a trademark of this series,” said exec producer Rob Tapert.

Vengeance marks the debut of Liam McIntyre in the title role of Spartacus, in which he succeeded the late Andy Whitfield.  McIntyre is joined by returning cast members Lucy Lawless, Peter Mensah, Manu Bennett, as Crixus, Dustin Clare, Nick E. Tarabay, and Katrina Law. The most recent chapter of Spartacus was the prequel, Gods Of The Arena which aired in January 2011 and averaged an estimated 6.2 million total viewers per episode across all linear channels and on-demand viewing. Those kind of numbers have made the series a Starz favorite.