Saturday, December 22, 2012

The day of doom is upon us....well it was upon us, supposedly

I'm full aware this is going to be an over cliche topic as I'm writing this, but think of it this way, I'm working my way back to writing more. I'm probably going to just use this as my working back in post, and not even bother with grammatical and structural editing, but rather just a quick opinion type post.


Anyways, here I am, writing on December 22st, 2012 with a glass of Dr. Pepper at my side and the TV going. Unless we're all ghosts now, and we're just living our lives in a Matrix like world, I think it's safe to say the world has not ended.

There were no rumblings of the Earth, planets crashing causing a cataclysmic destruction, and no aliens landing destroying our major cities. Was yesterday supposed to be the final FULL day? Maybe, but doubtful.

I can honestly say that I did not believe the whole end-of-the-world theory, not even when I heard of it 10+ years ago. Why? Mostly from the most obvious, it's hard to predict the exact date of such a cataclysmic and sudden event, unless there was in fact a planet hurtling at us, which there wasn't (There was that asteroid that was supposed to hit us in 2040, but last I read, based off calculations it's supposed to miss us. But we were wrong about the Mayan calender, so who knows).


I am not one to say that the world will never end. I have my own personal beliefs (which I will not go into detail on this blog) to which I believe that one day, it will in fact end. However, to say an ancient civilization predicted the exact date of the end of the world with a counting system and calender they had made, in my mind, was a little preposterous.


Reason being is that it seemed as though they were  very good mathematicians who ended up making a calender and counting system for themselves. Saying the Mayans predicted the end of the world with their calender, to me, is like saying that the household calender predicts the end of the world because it ends on December 31st (or, depending on what you buy, it may even go into February the next year as a bit of padding).


So lets be glad that we all will see 2013, and that we have our entire lives ahead of us. Chances are, I may not make a post until after Christmas, but I may end up doing a review of something Christmas related anyhow, just for the sake of doing so. I've got three movies in mind I want to do, but will only write on one of them, since it's only THREE DAYS until Christmas!!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Silent Hill, a game review

In light of the new Silent Hill film soon to come out, I figured I'd write about where the whole series began, a PS1 game released 13 years ago (funny how some things work out). After this post, I may do something I've been meaning for quite some time now, a post focusing on the first film.

Released for the original Playstation in 1999, the first Silent Hill game came during a time when Resident Evil was the dominating horror gaming franchise, and drew similarities from players due to the fact that both titles had a slower pace than most games at the time. Instead of toting around grenades, ray guns (sort of, more on that in a bit), missiles, and machine guns to make sure you're enemy is not only dead, but a puddle of soup and ash, this game requires to to pick your battles carefully, even running when things get a bit too much.



Caution: there will be spoilers following, I will try to not be too long, but this may be a lengthy plot summery

The game starts with a line of text stating "The fear of blood tends to create fear for the flesh" laying out the groundwork for not only the small movie sequence that follows, but the entire game. The story follows a young writer named Harry Mason, who after getting into a near fatal accident on a mountain road, awakens to find that his seven year old daughter, Cheryl, whom he had been traveling with has vanished from the vehicle, and he sets out to search for her.


As he searches for his daughter in the seemingly abandoned town, Harry keeps getting sucked into a warped nightmarish version of the town. The town becomes consumed by darkness, where the walls and floors look weathered and rusted, and everything seems damp. After persevering, he would be sent back to the "normal" version of the town, which still seemed to appear abandoned.

In his search, Harry not only comes across an older woman who appears to be hiding a darker past, but also a doctor who seems to be involved in drug trafficking, a cop who seems to be a bit too trusting (she boldly gives Harry a gun for self defense within minutes of meeting him for crying out loud), a nurse who never want to be alone, and a young woman who appears to vanish into thin air.

Upon first meeting of each of these people, it appears that they have nothing in common with one another and know nothing of the disappearance of Cheryl. However, appearances can be deceptive because aside from the cop, each of the characters have a deep rooted connection with Cheryl, even long before she was born.

You see, the older woman with a darker past I mentioned? Her name is Dahlia Gillespie. Seven years before meeting Harry, Dahlia realized her seven year old daughter Alessa had the powers of a God. Dahlia wanted Alessa to give birth to Sameal, a demon worshiped by Gillespie and a small band of cultists. When Alessa refused to have any part in this, Dahlia attempted to kill her in a house fire, but when Alessa survived, she was taken to the hospital, and kept on eye on by associates of Dahlia with the plan of having her give birth while in torment. There, she was under the care of Lisa, a young nurse who out of the sorrow she felt for the young girl,  refused to leave Alessa alone. However, Lisa was an employee of Dr. Kaufman, who not only had her addicted to drugs, but was a fellow cultist of Dahlia.

source


When the pain was too much to bare, Alessa split her personality into two physical forms, one representing her own innocence, and the other representing her growing hatred for her mother and her fellow cultists. The innocent persona was found in the form of a baby, adopted by Harry. The darker side stayed in Silent Hill in a veil of a dream, gaining power for when the day when she could finally be reunited with her physical form and prey on those who attempted to kill her.

End of Spoilers

As complex as it may sound, the story of this game was really intriguing, and actually not too hard to follow, once you get past some of the purposeful ambiguity. You feel a major father-daughter connection between Harry and Cheryl, despite the fact that neither shared all that much screen time with one another. Harry's determination shows how much he really loved his daughter, overcoming the nightmare of Alessa to find out what really happened to Cheryl.

The small cast of characters and the abandoned town really makes for a very isolated and lonely feeling. As you get deeper into the game, the more you really see how deserted the town is. In true form to a good horror story, you start to have feelings of dread and hopelessness, but at the same time, have the determination of pushing forward and demanding answers.

One thing I must touch on with this game is a little bit of negativity. The main being the controls. I'm not talking about the common complaint of Silent Hill's combat controls (many people hated the combat in the first four or five installments, the combat itself felt just fine to me), but rather the movement controls. The controls for general movement feels very stiff and a bit clunky. You you run down a hallway and try to turn towards a door you want to open, just to overshoot it and then find yourself standing still, wondering how you missed what you were going for, only to have to turn around, back track 6 steps, then turn around again to finally go through that door. Luckily, that is almost entirely isolated to this one game. There are times in the second installment where the controls felt like that, but no where near as bad as in this title.

Another slight negative is the graphics, but to be honest, given when it came out, it's kinda hard to knock it's visuals since it is in fact an older game. You couldn't expect the groundbreaking visuals that we have today to be present in the late 90's, only the best that technology had to offer at the time for home consoles.

On the positive side however, one thing that I must touch on is the great soundtrack this game has. Incorporating industrial sounds such as the sound of pips clanging, screeching as if to sound like failing machinery, along with a the sound of guitars and drums, as well as more traditional sounding horror music such as the slow melodic. The soundtrack fit the dank and metallic structure of the other-world with the slow crawling darkness of an early foggy morning. Just off the music alone, you could feel the overwhelming darkness and the slight depression of the characters.

Another thing that was rather unique about this title, at least for it's time, was the fact that it had multiple endings. Ranging from the depressing "Very-Bad" ending to the "Very Good" even to the comedic "UFO" ending, which actually builds up a tiny bit of suspense and a little bit of spookiness until the very end, where you're abducted then returned to the start of your journey wielding the Alien Blaster, good for monster hunting.

All in all, this is a great game full of atmosphere and good bit of darkness for those in love with the survival horror genre in terms of video games, or just into horror in general. It has a pretty good story, good music, and good atmosphere. Just be wary of the controls if you do in fact plan on getting if off of PSN or something (I don't believe it's available on X-Box Live as it was a Playstation title originally, but I could be wrong about the current digital availability. Sorry, no X-Box for this wolf).

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Something new and spooky to an old classic

Ok, I'll start off by saying that it has been quite a while since I pulled out the old Bicycle cards and played any sort of traditional card game. Mostly because I'll admit that I never knew how to play any traditional card games other than Black Jack, therefore not having any interest in them, and the only exposure I'd have would be once a year on Christmas eve when one side of my family would play for most of the night.

Just recently, however, I received an email from Milan Colovic, a Serbian artist who just happened to have a liking to the darker stuff. What he showed me was the project he was working on called the "Asylum Playing Cards" published by Bicycle. After the conversation he and I had through e-mail and looking at pictures of the cards, I must say that I am impressed, and sorta wanting to pull out my playing cards again and actually learn how to play something.

When I saw the word "Asylum" attached to the project, I'll admit that my first thought was that it was going to be one of those trading card games like Magic: The Gathering, only based off the camp produced by The Asylum production company. The Aylum brought such works such as Transmorphers and I Am Omega. Yup, The Asylum is that company pushing out the growing "mockubusters" you may have seen floating around stores or the net. (Side Note: Is it just me that tends to confuse Michael Bay's production company Platinum Dunes as being The Asylum, or at least a subsidiary of it, at times? I dunno, guess I don't pay too close attention to realize they're two different entities.)


The doctor is very reminiscent of Vincent Price

However, unlike The Asylum film production company, these cards don't seem to be insulting to anyone's intelligence, and seem to have a lot of artistic merit behind them. Highly detailed and very spooky, these cards are something special.




Inspired by the art of Alphones Mucha, horror films, and of course the traditionalism of card games, Colovic has created that classic idea of the card game using a somewhat modern theme. Adding a horror touch to the cards, each of the king, queen, and joker cards has a very spooky design to them that has a really cool look to them. Many bring back thoughts of watching an older horror movie.



 
Even if you don't get any of the higher tier cards from the deck in your hand, you'll still be able to enjoy the aesthetic of these cards. Each of the numbered cards have the traditional look, but of course with horror theme to them. Each have a weathered, slightly burned, almost rusty look to them and the reds tend to look as if they're slightly bloodied.




They're not for everyone, especially if you're like me and don't play card games all that often, but they are pretty interesting, at least for the aesthetic. These are certainly something for those who're into the darker side of things and want to add that to their card games or want to play cards on Halloween.


Regrettably, it appears these cards are only getting a single printing, so we most likely won't be seeing them sold as a staple like we do of the basic cards, which is too bad. It would have been cool to at least see these filling up the shelves or end caps on the game aisle every Halloween time.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

October!

Well, September is finally over, and October has begun. Even though technically, Autumn officially starts on September 22nd, I've always felt as though Autumn started with the first of October, or at least within the first week and a half or so.

I'm glad to see at least most of the heat behind us, and look forward to the days cooling off as well as seeing the darker and warmer colors associated with autumn. I am one person who just cannot not stand Summer, and everything associated with it. I have a low tolerance for heat and I don't really like the "summer activities" such as going to the beach and what not.

Autumn, on the other hand, is a much better season. The air starts to cool, and the atmosphere begins to change, as if there is a lingering darkness throughout the entire season. Like a forest dusk, I've always associated this season with a murkiness that seems to comfort more than any other time of year. I'm relaxed and not too hot to feel miserable, unlike summertime. There seems to be something in the air that just....helps make me feel at ease.

 Maybe since Halloween is right around the corner, that creates a mood for everyone to be more on the darker side of things, or maybe it's just the transition of weather that puts every one in that state of mind. Whatever it is, I'm certainly glad it's there, as it helps me to feel good.

Maybe it's just me, but it seems like even grocery stores tend to have a certain atmosphere during the Autumn season that is different than any other season. I tend to smell certain smells more often during fall than say spring or summer time. Maybe it's a seasonal fruit, or maybe I just walk past an area that I usually do not.

I'm certainly looking forward to the coming months, I have some upcoming reviews I'll be posting to lead up to Halloween, and I plan on writing more observationally on the sights I see in terms of decorations and what not (maybe I'll even get a few pictures of what I see, if it's cool enough and I'm comfortable posting pictures taken of things and peoples houses). Plus I look forward to the upcoming cooling off and hope the coming weeks stay below 90 degrees.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Horrors, girls, and a body in the web.

Well, here's an interesting one. This is a German - Yugoslav film released in 1960 and directed by Fritz Böttger. Upon a quick look at Wikipedia and Internet Movie Database, this film goes by a number of titles such as Body in the Web, It's Hot in Paradise, Horrors of Spider Island, The Body in the Web, and Girls of Spider Island.



It's always good to have a few different titles for a film, just in case someone forgets what movie you're talking about, that way you can throw another title at them to see if they'd remember exactly what it is that you're referring to.



When it was originally released in the U.S., it was a chopped 75 minute "Adults Only" film under the Hot in Paradise title, which recieved an even more edited version with the Horrors of Spider Island title. The version I'll be covering is the Horrors of Spider Island version. Keep in mind that I did not hunt down any particular version of the film, as it was included in a sci-fi box set I had recently purchased.


The plot is as follows, after hiring a number of female dancers, an oddball dance manager named Gary travels with his new employees by plane bound for Singapore to work at a dance club. On their journey, their plane catches fire and crashes. Days go by and Gary's assistants back home are left in the dark of their fate, but however one faithful assistant has hope, boldly saying "There is nothing to worry about, all we know is their plane caught fire and we lost radio contact."

Well, we soon enough find out that Gary and his girls made it out of the plane alive, as they some how procured a inflatable boat and were stranded as sea for four days, rationing out scraps of food. They soon find an deserted island, where they set up camp.




As a few more days go by, many of the girls seem to come on to Gary, which causes him to go out for a walk alone to get away from from all the stress. As he takes his walk, he is attacked by a giant mutated spider and gets bitten, which oddly enough causes him to turn into what looks like a werewolf, not a spider-man mutant as one would expect.

 He soon then terrorizes the girls, which instead of causing them to band together, causes much in fighting to the point of throwing blows and rolling on the floor, for two of the women at least. Not long after, two men on a scientific study come to the island and meet the group of women, and decide to hang out for the party until one of the men and the girl he was accompanying get attacked and killed. Those remaining go and hunt down Gary and eventually kill him by pushing him in what appears to be quicksand.


All in all, this film was a rather poor film. The pacing was off, and even if it was the unedited version, I doubt the pacing could had survived. You could tell it was more of a "beautiful women stranded alone" exploitation type film with a 'monster' thrown in to pass it off as a horror or sci-fi movie. The story was lacking, to the point where you actually had to look for it.

I was expecting more "horrors" of the monster roaming around, as implied by the title, but it being a low budget edit of an exploitation film, I guess I should have known better. It was a pretty terrible film, but if you're truly curious and love low budget films as I do, then go ahead and go for it.


PLEASE NOTE: this is going to be one of very few films where I review a "bad" movie for the sake of it being bad. From this point out, I will be covering stuff that is actually good in one form or another and is, at least slightly, more competent than this. If you were to send me an e-mail requesting something, I ask to please not have it be a "It's SO bad...you should rip it to shreds" e-mail, mostly because not only do I actually enjoy these films, I also find it hard to write legitimate posts reviewing these low grade films, as I may have exemplified with this particular post. Plus, I also like giving legitimate reviews, not "bad reviews for the sake of giving a bad review" type of thing like some entertainers on the net do. Every once in a while I'll most likely do a b-movie review as like I said, I love them myself, but they tend to be a little challenging to write about, for me at least.

A book review: Stephen King's 'IT'

Being a fan of horror literature, one of the writers I tend to gravitate to is Stephen King. While I don't believe he is the greatest of writers, which I will touch on why in a bit, I still love reading his books. I fully believe that King has one of the greatest imaginative minds, not only from the past 30 years or so, but in American story telling as a whole.


He is able to create a realistic set of characters, living in a town that feels like could be an actual American town, full of it's own culture. His classic novel It portrays this, even if it does also exemplify why I tend to not always like his writing style very much. I am going to discuss just the novel here, and not touch on the film (which I may do at a later time).


The novel was published in 1986, told in a non-linear style alternating between two time periods, and is a 1138 page beast. Many horror fans already know it's basic premise, so I'm not going to go into any deep length to outline the story, but will give a bit of a plot summary (and be warned, I WILL be giving away some plot elements, if you have not read the book, skip ahead).

The story takes place in the small town of Derry, Maine (a fictional town thought up by King). Every 30 years or so, there tends to be a series of violent murders, ending with a catastrophic and bloody end. The killings almost always involve children, with each catastrophic end tends to take out whoever is in the path of it. We learn in the course of reading that these murders are committed by a shape shifting creature that needs to feed on living humans to survive, and chooses to mostly prey on children as it sees their minds as "weak" and easy to manipulate in order to lure.


In 1958, one by one It tries to lure and kill a group of friends who affectionately call themselves "The Losers Club" due to the fact that they're bullied by their peers, specifically by Henry Bowers and his group of thugs, and feel like outcasts in their own homes for one reason or another. Due to this fact, they are able to effectively stand up to It and find that It resides in the city's sewer system.

During their confrontation with it in the sewers that it's actually an interdimensional being of sorts that is thousands, if not millions, of years old and spreads to destroy and consume many forms of life. The seven wound the creature to the point where it appears to have been killed.

However, 27 years later a young homosexual couple is attacked, and one is thrown over a bridge, waking It up and causing It to feed on the young mans remains. This causes Mike Hanlon, the only member of "The Losers Club" to not leave Derry and become successful, to make six phone calls, each one to his former friends and pleading them to return.


End of semi-spoilers here

I liked the fact that there was a lot of mystery behind the creature and that there was that constant lurking threat. Throughout the entire novel, there is a sense of dread as you knew that it was somehow watching you from the shadows. It plays on ones fears of isolation and the fears one would have during childhood. It could either hide underneath a veil of happiness or come full force in a horrific way.

I also liked the fact that fear came from not only the creature, but from other sources as well. Henry Bowers and his gang could easily scare any reader, due to the fact of how demented Bowers could get. Bowers was just an all around miserable person who was raised in a miserable environment and was manipulated by the evils around him to do terrible things. He did such terrible things that it would have made a great novel all on it's own. The terrible things that he and his friends get into will easily stick in ones mind for a long time, and throughout the novel you will see the decay of his consciousness.


However, there is just that one thing about this book that makes it a hard read, and King tends to have this habit with most, if not all, of his novels.There are points where it feels that there is a bit too much exposition and things aren't getting accomplished in any shape, form, or fashion. While I'll agree that we need characters to relate to, and it's good to have realistic characters, I don't think we need to constantly be told of one characters farm life and to go through his daily routine a number of times. This is my main gripe with many of Kings books, if he didn't feel the need to constantly lather us up with almost pointless exposition at times, then he'd be a great writer.

This novel is certainly worth checking out, despite this fact. I can say that even though it was dragging at times, I certainly enjoyed reading it to the point that I've read it a second time for the heck of it. While King needs to tone down the exposition, his imagination is one of the best out there.


Eventually, I plan on doing a review of the film version of 'It' (which I very much enjoyed), and other King novels, such as The Stand (which I have read once many years ago, but I won't be getting to that one for quite sometime as I believe it deserves a reread). I'll also be doing reviews of other horror related materials in the future that I've enjoyed, as well as a look and observations on other things in dark culture (much like my Halloween post).

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Minor Update

I do, in fact, have two posts that I'll be publishing soon. I plan on a simultaneous release for the both of them, and they should appear shortly.


One of the posts is in fact done, the other is still in progress. Reason for doing this is that if the finished one is read before the other, than one may get the wrong impression of the purpose of this blog, so therefore I wanted to showcase what it was that I was trying to do with the blog.


Anyways, I know that I'm more or less rambling to myself in a way, but I'll be posting minor updates like this for the blog every once in a while, at least for my own sanity.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

A notice of halloween, rather early

It seems as if each year, the acknowledgement of Halloween is coming earlier and earlier. I remember thinking last year during the last week of September, that it seemed Halloween came really early in stores and what not.


This year, half way through the month, Halloween stuff is already here in stores like Target, and there's a Halloween specialty store that is soon to be open right next door to Target. I am not complaining, as it makes it easier for people like me to buy things for ones room to use all year around (such as a small skull that I bought today from Target, in fact. That will be there day in and day out, even when October is long gone), yet it just seems like Halloween is getting a little more acknowledgement more and more each year.

I myself never celebrated Halloween. I never went out Trick or Treating, nor did I really decorate the house for the day (even though I like the spooky stuff and tend to buy stuff just for decorating sake, not Halloween sake), but I did always like the dark and spooky since I was young.


Maybe people are warming up to the idea that the spooky isn't all bad, or maybe people just like the idea of "dressing up" at least once a year (a practice I never really understood, to be honest). Whatever the reason may be, I like to see the slightly spooky as I go out, even if for a little while.

A resurgence

After a rather long absence, I decided to start anew with my blog. My older blog, which had the same title, had a lot of reviews and writings that I had put a lot of effort into. I had put general ideas down, reviews, and other assortment of things relating to that of a darker nature.


I then deleted it. I got to the point where I wasn't writing, and felt as though there was little to no point for it being there. It seemed if I couldn't get a blog written, reviewed, edited, and eventually posted within about a weeks time, why continue with it.


I however decided to make a return after realizing there was a point of the blog, which was to discuss the things I love, whether or not the blog had actually gotten any views. I loved reviewing things of a dark nature, and writing for the sake of writing to get ideas out.



I'm sure that this time, the darkness will not die, as shadows may fade only to return in another form.