Sunday, October 31, 2010

Movie Appraisal: The Ring (2002)

The Ring is probably the best film remake I have ever seen. Most remakes in my opinion are terrible. This one is actually quite good. I was going to review Ringu, the original Japanese movie, but I had absolutely no time to watch it and will review that one at a later date. I've seen The Ring a ton of times and found it to be a pretty easy movie to review for my last review of October (even though technically I'm doing this review a week after Halloween. This is what happens when one has a busy schedule of classes and puts all of this on his plate as well.).

Anyway, this is one of my favorite non-psychological horror films that still is very much a horror film. I love the imagery in this film. I like it better than even most psychological horror films. The haunted videotape is awesome unto itself and actually becomes quite hard to watch since you know what it is and what it supposedly does to the viewer. The film grabs you and never lets you go, and I can't usually say that about most recent, very mainstream films. The story is fantastic. The acting, with Naomi Watts leading it, is fantastic and believable. There are genuinely very creepy moments that will leave you with nightmares for years to come. I've always liked the fact that it rains throughout the entire movie. The fog is awesome as well. And the little girl, Samara coming out of the television screen is one of the most terrifying things I have ever seen in my entire life in a film.

Seriously, if you haven't seen this film, see it. It's absolutely worth it. If you have seen it, watch it again. It's a great film that should be watched as often as possible for its setting, tone, plot, acting, awesomeness, terror, et cetera. It makes most films seem awkward and annoying in comparison.

I love the pacing of this film. I have to say that. I feel that that is something that isn't said often enough about films, but pacing is a legitimate art-form in some ways, and here is one of the best examples of great pacing that I know of. Most horror films kind of need good pacing, but this one is just fantastic. It could be that the film is a bit of a mystery plot that revolves around Naomi Watts' character, Rachel, trying to find out about this videotape. I deem this film of the mystery-horror genre. I know most people call this psychological horror, but those people are stupid and should be ignored. What I've mostly reviewed in movies over these last thirty-one days has been psychological horror. This movie is entirely in the real world. It has no epic dream sequences or anything. This is one of the fines examples of mystery-horror, but not an example at all of psychological horror. Hell, Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2, is a very definite psychological horror film. This one is not, but that doesn't make it bad at all.

Anyway, this is an awesome film. The visuals are some of the best you'll ever see. The acting is fantastic, the plot is different and pretty awesome, and everybody should see this movie at least once in their lives.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Movie Appraisal: Dead End (2003)

Ray Wise? I love that guy. My first thought after seeing him was that this movie is going to be awesome.

It actually didn't disappoint at all. I found some scenes to be unintentionally (...I think... It's always hard to tell with these kinds of movies) funny, but besides that this movie is solid horror movie best watched alone in the dead of night.

I personally didn't find it scary except once or maybe even twice and only then with jump scares. It was incredibly easy to see where this plot was going. Maybe I've gotten good at identifying what happens in horror movies of this kind. I'd almost call it psychological horror... but it's not quite that. Almost. Actually, the film reminds me of Reeker (2005), which is incredibly similar, but with much worse acting and much better visuals.

Actually comparing this film to Reeker is quite apt. They seriously are incredibly similar films. If you know the plot of one you've seen the plot of both. They do both have pretty radically different ways going about handling the plot, but the plot is still the same. I'd rather not get into spoilers here for either movie. They're both worth watching, although I will say again that the visuals in Reeker are better, while the acting in Dead End (mostly because of Ray Wise, I have to say) is top notch. It really was a pleasure to watch Ray Wise go off the deep end. Have I mentioned how awesome this guy is? Seriously, if you don't know who Ray Wise is, shame on you. Go watch the entirety of Twin Peaks including Fire Walk With Me this second. No, I'm not even kidding. Stop reading this and go watch that series. You've missed out so badly if you haven't seen it, especially Fire Walk With Me, which I have to say is one of my favorite David Lynch films.

Oh... I think I moved a little off topic. My point is that this is a very decent film, and very short for easy access. I really enjoyed it for what it was. If you haven't liked other movies that I've reviewed and liked, you probably won't like this one either, but if you have liked the other films, check this one out. It's worth it.

I do have to mention the visuals and the ideas just quickly. There are a lot of supposed to be gory scenes in this film, but the camera doesn't really show the gore, which I actually really like. I think it makes the film much better in some ways. These kinds of films usually love to show the gory shots, but this one almost has some class not showing those shots. And the whole idea of "nothing is scarier" is shown pretty awesomely in this film as well. A lot of the "scary" parts really don't show anything at all, they just imply things, which is hard to do effectively, but I feel that this film did pull it off from an artistic perspective if not from a horrific one.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Creature Deliberation: Vampires

Vampires, creatures of the night, monsters beyond all horror of imagination who... until recently... had represented terrible ideas of sexuality and life beyond death, and nowadays seem to represent terrible books and movies that should be stricken from all records.

Look, I love vampires. I feel ashamed in saying that, but I find that vampires are among my favorite horror movie monsters. Although... I don't know how many vampire movies are actually "horror" movies especially in the last thirty years or so. Some books and movies that have vampires in them still stand up quite well in the horror genre, such as Dracula (1931), as well as the original novel which is still fantastic. 'Salem's Lot , the book by Stephen King, is also quite good even though the movies made of it are nowhere near as good. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova is also fantastic as a very recent vampire novel. I Am Legend by Richard Matheson is one of the first novels to really explore vampires as almost zombies and takes multiple forms of vampires. Then there is a movie like Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens (1922), which is fantastic both as an early film and a starter to the genre.
There are a few other decent vampire stories, but most of them have not been recent. Vampires as monsters are barely recognized anymore. Now vampires seem to all be about lust and sexuality rather than a monstrous force. Anne Rice is the one to blame here. Sure, Bram Stoker kind of started it off with a sexy Dracula back in the Victorian Age, where sexy was not vogue, but try comparing that sexuality to the present-day. It's gone a little crazy. Vampires seem almost to be a fetish nowadays and not one of those cool fetishes like I have, but a disturbing one that makes me shudder every single time I hear a fangirl squee about Twilight. I have really no opinion about Twilight, only because I feel it's unfair to judge something I've never had any part of. I know about it, kind of, but at the same time, I couldn't care less about some teen girl novel, or series of novels, or movie about shirtless men that kind of make me feel very uncomfortable and inadequate... I mean... yeah... if that's what all girls want... You know something? I'm not getting into this.
My point is that vampires are first and foremost, in my mind, monstrous and horrible. That's where the horror of most of these novels and movies come from. The vampire talks like a gentleman (of gentlelady in some cases), and one can never tell what kind of monster lurks beneath the surface until it is too late and the vampire gets to have a late night snack of person neck.

The vampire myths are fascinating, stemming from old time illnesses that were diagnosed as death, and people being buried before death. Hell, maybe the myths even have some bases in reality. I'm not going to rule it out. It would be hella cool if that were the case. It probably isn't... but still, you know?
I guess my problem with modern vampires is that they aren't scary. There is no obvious horror anymore and that makes me very sad. Vampires are such an interesting monster, much more refined than werewolves or zombies or Frankenstein monsters or swamp things or whatever... and it makes them fascinating. They retain so much of their humanity while also losing so much of it as well.

Then there are things like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel and those kinds of television shows, which are infinitely better than Twilight, but simply awful in comparison to earlier and better works in pretty much any kind of media.

I like the idea of vampires. I really do, but there are so few good forms of vampires (and there really have never been many good ideas out there anyway) that it is very disappointing to see how many failures that there really are.

I wish there could be better vampires, but nowadays vampires, true horror vampires, are fast on the decline, and it shows just how far those monsters have fallen.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Movie Appraisal: Sublime (2007)

Sublime is a movie I've wanted to watch for a long time... mostly because of the poster. No, it's not because of the woman on the poster, or at least I don't think so. I always assumed it was because the poster was eye-catching or some such thing. Well, whatever the reason was, I finally had my chance to see this direct-to-video movie.

Creepy hospital? Check. Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge syndrome? Check. I already like this film long before I ever see it, but let's see what I really think, shall we?

The movie starts off like it's going to be a bad comedy. I'm not even kidding. What is it with horror movies trying to act like comedies nowadays? It's weird. I don't know. I recognize the main actor in the film as Tom Cavanagh, a guy who I've only ever seen in Scrubs before as a very small comic character. Wow, I think, this guy is going to carry this movie?

Well, it was a decent movie of the (kind of) psychological horror. My problem is that there didn't seem to be many psychological or horror aspects to it, which kind of defeats the purpose of that kind of movie, doesn't it?

Tom Cavanagh actually does a pretty good job in this movie playing George. Another few standouts of actors are Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs who played Mandingo and who was fantastic in one of the very few horrific parts of the entire film.

The movie's plot is all right as well, going on in the same kind of storyline as Jacob's Ladder for instance except inferior, very inferior, in every way. This movie couldn't have been better than it was though. With what the plot was and the pacing and whatnot, the movie was about as decent as it could be. I didn't expect better. I pretty much got what I thought I'd get out of it.

Sublime starts off slowly and really doesn't pick up the pace ever. The visuals are not great for this kind of movie, and the best part visually were the tattoos on two different characters and the meaning behind it.

The actual ending sucks quite a bit because nothing has been learned. There are no lessons, no real reason for what happens to happen except fear and... wanting to get away from the pain... unless some of the outside world came through George's unconscious mind, but the movie didn't show it as such.

Overall my impressions of this film are average. Jacob's Ladder is better. Go watch that one a million times before you think about watching this mediocre piece of forgettable story.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Movie Appraisal: Stay (2005)

Stay is an excellent film regardless of what critics say about it. I don't even care. I've found that so many of these movies that I find the best of all time are critically panned and vilified as being terrible wrecks of cinema. Well, you know what? There are movies out there called the best ever that suck. Absolutely suck.

I'll give some examples because I feel like ranting about this. I hate The Godfather films. I hate them so much I've never been able to watch any single one of them all the way through. I will never watch any of them all the way through because they are ALL terrible movies in my opinion. They are unengaging, uninteresting, and altogether drivel. I'm sorry if that insults some people's delicate sensibilities, but it's true. The Godfather and it's sequels are not the best movies of all time. They're not fun to watch. They're awful and deserve to be stricken from the public record. Or at least that's my opinion.

Being a critic I find that most critics never say that these are things they think themselves, not universal truths. I know plenty of people who love The Godfather films... but I abhor them. Nobody is wrong there. It's just a matter of opinion and nothing else. I feel that way too many films get credit for being THE BEST EVER, but aren't... and that just gets me angry. This is all based upon opinion, so no movie could ever be the best. And anyway, why would a person want to go with public opinion over which film is the best ever. Most people are common swine and have no interest in thought, so why would I want to agree with them about a particular film? And most critics are douche-bags who deserve to be punched in the gonads for thinking their snooty selves are so much better than the rabble... and their opinions matter so much more than mine even though they suck.

What I'm trying to say is that this blog I write is really just my opinions on things. I know most people don't love the kinds of movies I love, but that's opinion and not fact. I tend to love psychological horror. It's my genre of choice, so that's what I focus on. It's what I gush over. I love Alfred Hitchcock too, and Cronenberg, and Lynch, and Carpenter, and Gilliam. Those are just the filmmakers I adore, but that doesn't make my opinion more correct than your own. I also think older movies are better than modern movies for the most part. That doesn't mean I'm right or wrong, but it's my opinion.

So, when I saw that this movie had such a low critical rating, I needed to rant about it, because, for a long time, this was my favorite movie of all time. It has since been supplanted by 1408, Jacob's Ladder, and Rear Window, but that doesn't make it any worse. In fact, being counted among those movies is quite an honor in my own mind.

I love Stay. I love it because of the imagery and the director (Marc Forster, who also directed Stranger Than Fiction, another excellent psychologically stunning film.), who did such a great job with every shot... sometimes doubling the actors in certain shots... going far and wide to make this film perfect through perceptions. I'm simply in awe of how well he made this movie. The acting is excellent. The imagery is unforgettable. The story is sublime.

Check out this film if you want to be blown away by the psychological horror (although there is less focus on the horror and more on the psychological sadly, which is why a movie like Jacob's Ladder stands up better than it) of this severely under-appreciated film.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Video Game Assessment: Half-Life 2 (2004)

Look at that face there. That is the face of a video game hero. Some names might be known pretty well by the gaming community, but very few carry the weight that Gordon Freeman of the Half-Life series does.

Half-Life 2 is one of the best video games of all time. To me this game beats out every other first-person shooter I've ever played... by far beats them out. I mean it beats them out so much that they're left bleeding on the ground begging for mercy, but the crowbar that Gordon Freeman carries around with him has no concept of this human thing called mercy. Instead it beats those first-person shooters by sheer betterness. I know that's not a word, but I don't care anymore. Do I look like I care? No. BioShock? Bah. Gordon Freeman beats you to death just by trying to kind of be like him. Any of the Halo games? Don't even make me laugh... because you won't like me when I'm laughing.

Half-Life 2 is simply better than those other games. It's a six-year old game that literally stands up better than ANY game made today... which kind of makes me sad. I mean, you would expect video games to get better over time, but that is just not the case here. This game is just so good that it literally influenced an entire genre of gaming. It heavily influenced almost every first-person shooter out there and is often compared to other apocalyptic games. Although it is always better.

There are some horror aspects of the game as well, which I like. The whole game has an unsettling feel... especially the abandoned areas in which Freeman travels. Ravenholm comes to mind in particular... almost being a zombie apocalypse kind of scenario. Also the prison level of Nova Prospekt, which has some very creepy imagery. The whole game has an oppressive and sinister feel to it. Freeman really feels like a shining light in a world full of unspeakable horrors.

There are headcrabs, barnacles, the Combine, striders, and the zombies... all of which create an atmosphere of dread for the player.

This game has perfect pacing. PERFECT PACING. It needed repeating. So many stories don't have the tight pacing this game has and they suffer for it. Every game developer and story-writer should go and play this game for the simple fact that they can see a masterpiece at work.

I should also speak of the weapon this game is known for: The Gravity Gun. Awesome. That's all I have to say.

I know this game is usually well-loved by critics... and I just have nothing bad to say about it. It's a wonderful experience. It also happens to be in my top five favorite games of all time. I'll probably mention the other games on that list at some point. I find it funny that four of my top five games are sequels to what I consider inferior games. That's always awesome when a developer really gets it and makes the sequel better.

ARGH. Now I want Half-Life 3!

Well, that's my review. This game is so awesome it makes lesser games explode from inadequacy. It should be played by every single person out there regardless of feelings on video games or skill level or whatever. It's a game that deserves to be seen because it's just as good as ANY movie, even the best of the best. It really shows that video games are certainly going to be a lasting medium.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Book Evaluation: Necronomicon (????)

I tried taking a picture of my copy of this book, but my camera didn't seem to be working for whatever reason. Oh, well... that's not a problem. I can explain this one without a picture, I suppose. I would have tried to find a picture off of the internet for this one too, but in looking up "Necronomicon", I just came up with fake examples of the real thing and... well, I don't want to use a fake book as a stand in for something that is very much real.

Sure, it's real. Why wouldn't it be? Just because somebody tells you something isn't real doesn't make it so. This book is every bit as real as it could be. I'm currently flipping through it as I type, looking for a good bit of it to explain about. This book is harder to "review" than most because it has the nonfiction element, sure, but also because there is no real narrative... it's more just full of stuff... stuff I have trouble talking about in present company, meaning whoever is reading this.

Yeah, I know, you don't believe me. Well, you don't have to. I don't care if you do or not, but the Necronomicon is real whether you believe it or not and you should believe it... because why would I lie to you? That seems like a silly thing to do.









Anyway, I came across my copy a couple of years ago... probably seven or eight. I found it... uh... well, I won't tell you where I found it. Suffice it to say that was there and I... uh... took it away with me. I didn't know precisely what I had taken. There were no words on the front cover. Instead it was bound in leather... but an odd-colored leather that I had never seen before. It has a patchwork quality to it and is a bit disconcerting                                                                          . Opening the book the word Νεκρονομιψον is written in Greek as shown. I was glad that I knew Greek and could readily and easily read it. Underneath the title was عبدالله الحظرد. I had to look that one up. It translates roughly to "Abdul Alhazred".

There is no date that I've ever found in the book anywhere... and I have found nothing on this Abdul Alhazred. I suspect the name is a clever pseudonym rather than an actual name. This is frustrating. I should be able to find more than I've found!

What's even more frustrating is the book itself. None of it is in English. Not even a bit. Parts of it are in Latin and Greek, but I can't seem to find them when I'm ready to translate. I don't know the other languages in it... some of which seem to be nothing more than scratches made in the book itself. Sure, there is some Arabic (I think) and some Hebrew (again, I think), but there are very few other languages I could readily identify. There did seem to be a few of the Oriental languages as well, but I could not tell them from one another. Most of the languages remain a mystery to me though. I thought I knew of most human writing, but some of this stuff looks a litt

                                                  are the diagrams. I                                                  . They are at best                                                                and                                                                                          I know                                      organs all                                                  but then                                        .                                                                                       . I didn't like them at all. They made me very uncomfortable. Something about them made them a little too realistic to me.

I guess a book shouldn't make me nervous like that, but just some of the parts of it seem a bit off. I don't know. Maybe I should get rid of it or something... or maybe I should just not look at it        .

Ah, well... maybe I'll tell you about some of my other older books pretty soon. Like De Vermis Mysteriis by Ludvig Prinn... or the most r cent o es I h v : Caretakers of Underground and The Red Cage Effect by Harold Zimmer. Or the very si  le L. Dreosin by Landon Nielson.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Movie Appraisal: 30 Days of Night (2007)

Simply put: This is one of the best vampire movies of all time. I don't even care. Don't even try to disagree with me on this next point. Vampire movies inherently suck. Sure, there are some good ones. Nosferatu, and the 1931 Dracula come to mind... but most vampire movies in recent years are not horrific stories of insatiable bloodlust, horror, and a terrible monster who looks like a man called a vampire.. no, most modern vampire croadloads are just awful pieces of romantic garbage that should be thrown... literally thrown... into the sun so that we won't have to deal with them anymore.

I understand. People like the romantic imagery of vampires. Those people are stupid and should be vanquished and conquered and the like. I can't believe there are people out there that find the Twilight series engaging. I cry for the human race. How did we lose so much ground that we now find Twilight to be a series deserving of multiple movies? I... I don't even know what to say people... I just don't know. It makes me sad. It makes me weep for the future and for our forgotten past. Look at how far the vampire has fallen... from feared bloodsucking menace all the way to... sparkling... Do you know how much typing that makes me want to break something or hit myself or something? You don't even know. Nobody does.

I love vampires. Love them. Seriously. They are my favorite type of monster. Dracula is one of my favorite books of all time. 'Salem's Lot (the book) isn't far behind as being my second favorite vampire novel. Then there's The Historian and I Am Legend rounding out some of the all-time great vampire novels of all time. And they are all seriously awesome... and even vampire movies (at least old ones) are cool, like the ones I mentioned above. But how can I ever say that modern vampire movies are good? I Am Legend (the movie) sucked. Any movie that had the name "Dracula" in its title over the last twenty years are so was absolutely terrible... and... then comes 30 Days of Night shining like a glorious lighthouse in a sea of blackened crap.

This movie is stupendous for what it is. It reinvigorated the vampire genre and made it into something a bit more respectable for a short time. Sure, a ton of things have come out more recently than 2007 that ruined vampires even more, but for a moment in 2007 this movie made vampires cool and scary again. It gave us something to worry about... something to think about... and it was awesome.

I love this film and I'm not even certain why. I thought everything was done so well. The story was incredibly well done... the visuals were PERFECT for the story, and the creepiness factor was at an all-time high in vampire films. The vampires were SCARY. This is how vampire films should ALWAYS be done. NOT WITH FREAKING SPARKLING!!! I mean, vampires should be terrifying and mystifying... they should make you want to have night terrors when you think you see the shadow of a skinny and very tall man gliding outside of your window on the darkest of nights...

These vampires can be likened to the rage-zombies in 28 Days Later. There doesn't seem to be a supernatural element in either... and instead there is strange element of reality in both... like something like that could actually happen... might even have happened in the past and that makes the whole subject terrifying. It makes the story one to shudder at in the darkest night... or a 30 day night.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Video Game Assessment: Fallout 3 (2008)

Fallout 3. I hadn't actually planned on reviewing this game since it isn't exactly a horror game... but I think it has enough horrific elements to it to be put in my October Nights series of reviews. One of the main reasons I'm reviewing this game is because I'm playing Fallout: New Vegas at the moment and it's reminding me of this game and how creepy some parts of it were.

I'm going to try to focus on certain aspects of this game, mostly horror aspects... which is not a hard thing to concentrate on. An alternate America has experienced a nuclear apocalypse and it's pretty much a sucky place to live. This game starts out in Washington D. C. and the wastelands surrounding it. It goes on to show the terrible creatures and people constantly trying to survive in an environment not suited for it.

I could tell you how much I enjoyed this game, although I think most people who played it enjoyed it, but I think that's not really the point of my review. Sure, I liked most of it (The visuals,the weapons, the gameplay... etc.), and there are parts of it I could complain mightily about (like the absolute lack of good characters and story), but I think this review will concentrate on the horror aspects of the game.

Most of the game is a horror story. The mutants, the wasteland, the creepy people... it all stinks of a horror story after the apocalypse. It feels that way and that's how it comes off. The shallow characters really allow one to focus on the situations and the roleplaying elements really come out since the player-character has no real personality, and the person playing tends to almost become the character... kind of creepy actually... well, it makes a good juxtaposition anyway. You can get lost in this game... simply lost for hours and hours... fearing as the character would fear, running as the character would run.

The monstrosities of the wastelands are only the beginning. There are ruins all around ripe for exploration and a quick death if the player isn't careful. The subway tunnels are of particular note because of how well they're done... and how dangerous they can be. When enemies in those subway tunnels are called ghouls... you know you're in for some crazy horror times.

As a casual mention, the DLC (downloadable content) Point Lookout is of particular note, being a DLC made completely with a horror story in mind. There is a strong psychological aspect to the horror here, and it's simply awesome. Also the Dunwich Building is probably the creepiest part of the game... and it should be... using the Dunwich name like that.

There are other aspects of this game that are terrifying as well... like the freaking Death Claw enemies that... *shudder*... you really never want to run into without a dart gun and some high explosives. Those things are terrible and awful and I don't want to talk about it anymore.

Anyway, the game is really awesome, and I like it a lot. It's one of those video games you can just get lost in, and that's always awesome. The characters are... well, they suck for the most part, and the story is as weak as anything... but the free-roaming environment, the gameplay, and the immersion really make this a game to pick up.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Movie Appraisal: The Machinist (2004)

The Machinist is usually best known as the movie that Christian Bale lost a ton of weight for. It's a little unfair to the movie honestly. Sure, it's quite an accomplishment to go and nearly become anorexic for a role, but I don't think that an actor being skinny is what a movie should be known for. I guess that's my opinion. I mean, directly afterward Christian Bale had to put on a ton of weight to play Batman... so, I guess what I'm saying is that this movie is only ever known (and most people don't even know the name of the film) because Christian Bale had to gain weight to play Batman after losing weight to be in this film.

This is another of my favorite film genre: psychological horror. I guess the genre can be known as psychological thriller too, but I never liked that term. A thriller implies something different to me than horror, and this film seems very much like a horror film to me... there are some scares, and some genuinely uncomfortable parts... it doesn't quite strike me as a thriller in that regard... I guess maybe it's because I think of a thriller as something by Alfred Hitchcock or a movie that is very much like a Hitchcock film or has a Hitchcock kind of plot. This film, from my own definition, is certainly not a thriller, but a horror film. It's a argument of semantics, but, I think, in this case, it's an argument worth making. Actually Jacob's Ladder has the same problem and I'd argue it even more strongly with that movie and some of the horrific scenes therein.

This movie is a great one to watch at this time of year. It just works so well as a psychological film. I mean, if Jacob's Ladder emphasized both horror and a psychological aspect than this one plays things a little differently. The psychological aspect of this film is much stronger, actively screwing with both the main character's perceptions and the audience's as well. It makes this film a bit of a mind screw, which, in my book, is a good thing.

I like this film. I don't love it. It's not one of my favorite of all time, but I do think it is good. I think it is worth watching. The story and acting are excellent, but I do feel the visuals are not as stunning as other movies of this genre such as Jacob's Ladder (Which was made fourteen years before this one.) or 1408. This movie takes a lot from Jacob's Ladder, either intentionally or unintentionally, and those parts make it interesting if not unique. It's main story is quite fascinating and works out to be quite the puzzle.

I actually think I might have liked the film for one particular reason: The main character suffers from a terrible insomnia that has kept him awake for a very long time. It was this insomnia that caused him to lose a ton of weight. I can sympathize. I have pretty bad insomnia (or something like it) and seeing a movie portray insomnia as this movie does... which is accurately... or semi-accurately... makes me happy. It means that there are still some cages of a life that are terrifying even today, in this age of cell phones, laptops, and very little real horror... the horror of being trapped in your own mind... or trapped by your own emotions... or sleeplessness... is one that really strikes me as genuine.

There you go.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Movie Appraisal: Jacob's Ladder (1990)

Jacob's Ladder just so happens to be my favorite horror film of all time. Why is this? Because it is a damn good film.

I'm not going to explain much about its superb plot, but I will say that it is single-handedly the best psychological horror film I've ever seen, and when my genre of choice is psychological horror, that is saying something. Now, I understand, a lot of people don't know about this movie. A lot of people don't care either. What I'm saying is that people should care. This is one of the few films that people should watch and go, "Wow, I... I don't know what to say... but I like it!"

The chances of that happening are low though. If you don't like David Lynch of some of Cronenberg's trippier movies, don't watch this one. Seriously. It's much more... out there than a lot of movies, and that's not a bad thing, but it's something that most seem to find highly disagreeable.

This film has a story, but it is really weird, and as I said before, I kind of would like to avoid getting into it. instead I'm going to talk of the fantastic visual effects and... well, the look of the movie. It pioneered a lot of psychological horror tropes, including the fast-shaking head kind of deal used in many games and movies afterwards, as well as introducing some of the creepiest scenes in a mainstream type of movie ever.

Yeah, I know there are some trippy films out there, but how many of them are mainstream? How many of them are Adrian Lyne who also happened to direct Fatal Attraction and Indecent Proposal? Actually seeing the other movies he did, it's interesting to note just how different Jacob's Ladder is from the rest. It's actually quite fascinating, especially because Lyne did a really good job with the movie despite not exactly having a background in making movies like this.

I guess this movie can be hard to follow. Honestly, it took me watching this movie twice to actually get some parts of it. It's complicated and there is heavy symbolism in almost every character, situation, and visual.

The film is put together beautifully. I can't help recommending this film to everybody I meet, but I will give a warning: This film is not for everyone. It's tough to watch at points, and it is also very much a horror film despite some beautiful visuals and filmography.

I could watch this film over and over again and never get tired of it. I find that I literally cannot find any real flaws to this movie. I wish all movies were this movie or like this movie because then I'd be happy and wouldn't have to rant about stupid freaking movies like Cast a Deadly Spell.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Movie Appraisal: Cast a Deadly Spell (1991)

For the second day in a row I was primed and ready to review Jacob's Ladder, which just so happens to be my favorite horror film of all time. I was about to go and watch it again and write a review when suddenly I have this crazy desire to watch this movie, Cast a Deadly Spell. If you've never heard of it before, I don't blame you. I hadn't heard of it before a few months ago for the first time.

The premise is interesting. It's pretty much a 1940's detective story with magic. Yeah, it's a weird combination, I'll say that much.  It's more detective story than anything else though. I find it hard to call it a horror story too. Until the end the horror end of the movie is played down pretty hard.

So, the story opens up in Los Angeles in 1948. "Everybody used magic." the opening title tells me. Is something wrong with the grammar there or what? I know what it's trying to say, but I don't think it's saying it right. Wouldn't it be "Everybody uses magic." or "Magic is a tool for everyday use." or something like that? The past tense really confused me there.

Then the movie gets going. We meet a detective named Howard Philips Lovecraft, but usually goes by Phil. Really, movie? That's what you're going with here? You're going to use the name of an author who was a known racist and misanthrope? Okay then. All right. Let's see where this goes then. Oh, and just to put this out here too, Phil's former chief detective (or something like that) has the name of Bradbury. I wonder if his first name is Ray.

Anyway the story starts off with a dame like every one of these detective stories starts out (or so the opening monologue tells us). I don't really see the dame in this case... but all right... No, seriously, where's the dame? The only dame I see in the beginning is Phil's landlady... and she isn't causing any trouble... and it can't be the girl who Phil meets later because she doesn't start any trouble... nor does the "love interest" introduced later on. So, Phil's voice-over monologue is a freaking liar.

Phil goes about his private detecting ways and early on we are forced to see that he doesn't use magic like everybody else. Okay... so this comes into play in the story eventually, right? We learn why he doesn't use magic and that lack of using magic like everybody else saves him in the end, right? Right? No, I'm sorry to say that none of that ever comes into play in this movie at all, and that's disappointing. It feels like there were a lot of good ideas but none of them were used well at all. The only thing that Phil not using magic is meant to show is his integrity, but it's a silly notion. Magic must be a relatively new thing in this universe, but using it would help him solve crimes and put those bad guys away for good... plus, he wouldn't get into half of the terrible situations he does get in to. Use your head, Phil.

Anyway, Phil soon meets up with a man named Amos Hackshaw, who's played by David Warner. I've never heard of the name David Warner before, but the actor is so familiar I want to yell at the screen who he is even though I can't really remember. Anyway, this guy is very obviously not a good guy. I can tell this right off. He seems a little odd and well... anybody who wants the Necronomicon can't be a good guy... plus,  the actor always played bad guys from what I can remember, and since I can't remember anything, I'm going to go with my gut on this one.

There are some weird other scenes earlier on... most of which are just strange. There's a little guy named Tugwell, who is my favorite character by far, who goes and does murder. He seems to be a genuinely terrifying guy who only stands about four feet tall. I like this guy. I like his spirit. I want him to be the hero. (He isn't the hero. He's just a lackey for one of the villains.)

Anyway, the story goes on and I keep having flashbacks of The Big Sleep and The Maltese Falcon. This detective story seems to have a ton of elements of those two movies... and you know what? This movie is worse than any of them... it's probably worse than most 1940's era detective movies. I kind of wish this movie were in black-and-white. It feels like it should be. There's not reason why it isn't and it makes me confused. For a movie that so obviously wants to be a throwback to better detective movies, this movie isn't trying very hard.

And I talk about the detective elements instead of the horror ones, because the horror ones are stupid. Throughout this film, little things seem out of place because of the "magic" world gimmick, which is all good and fine, but the horror elements are lacking. Every time a horror gimmick or creature is introduced this movie turns from a serious detective film to a slapstick horror comedy, like Evil Dead 2, and that just doesn't fit. It doesn't do the comedy as well as Evil Dead 2, and thus it's comedy is stupid and makes me want to punch the screen until something breaks. Thankfully the horror elements are used sparingly, but this is the main gimmick of the film. How can the main gimmick be used sparingly in a film that really needs the gimmick to stand out?

Well, I guess you're starting to get my impression of the film. It's not good. It's actually pretty terrible. The acting isn't bad (mostly), but that's about the only good thing I can say about this movie for the most part. The scenery is weirdly washed out and doesn't look real. Again it would all look better in black-and-white. The monsters are  really fake looking and used with so much stupid humor that the scenes they appear in just make you want to hold your head in your hands until it goes away.

The plot eventually makes itself a bit interesting when a virgin sacrifice is required to summon the Old Gods, including Cthulhu and Yog-Sothoth. The ending of this scene, which is the best scene in the film, can be scene from a mile away... with the sixteen year old girl not being a virgin any longer.

So, let me say what this movie has in it: statutory rape played for laughs, a gargoyle getting kicked in the gonads, an angry landlord taking a shotgun to some gremlins, a serious conversation between to old friends, a very small man being drowned in a bathtub full of bubbly water, a zombie breaking a broad's arm, zombies building houses, the last of the unicorn hunters, a serious detective story, Cthulhu rising from beneath the ground, eating a dude, and then going back down, the Necronomicon, a demon rising from a pot of soup, and a great scene with a layer named Thadeus Pilgrim.

Ugh... I don't know what else to say... oh, yeah... when was it established the sixteen year old girl virgin was the last of the unicorn hunters? When Phil drove past her for the first time he seemed to think it was all very normal. I guess it wasn't Phil, was it? Why didn't you say something at the time? What about all the other virgins out there? Why did she have to be the virgin of choice? Couldn't it have been a male virgin too? Or is that just not allowed? I never understood that in movies. Why is it always a female virgin? Is it because males seem to fantasize about female virgins and male virgins are usually icky people who shouldn't be spoken of? Is that it? It must be and it's silly and stupid and these stupid movie characters should really get these virgin sacrifices to make sense... and if this girls father really wanted her to be a virgin for life, maybe he should have made certain she didn't hit on everything with a penis that moved in her general direction. And statutory rape played for laughs? Really, movie? What is wrong with you? And by a police officer no less... I don't understand... This movie is just the opposite of classy... it's base and seriously...? Kidding around about a police officer having sex with a sixteen year old girl?

As you can tell I'm confused and angry. This movie is a million times worse than Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2, and that's a thing I've never thought I'd say (even though that movie was actually pretty good). I wish I'd have my ninety-six minutes back. I wish I had just reviewed Jacob's Ladder.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Movie Appraisal: Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 (2000)

So, I just finished watching Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2. I had originally planned on reviewing a psychological horror film called Jacob's Ladder today, but I was doing some homework and decided to watch a movie in the background.

Now, I love The Blair Witch Project despite only watching it once probably over ten years ago. You can check out my review on that movie if you want my full impressions of it. So, I figured a sequel to a movie I really liked and found genuinely scary couldn't be all that bad.

Then I heard the reviews of it... and they bashed it to death. I mean, I remember hearing a ton of things about it being the worst sequel ever kind of thing, and I'm going to say some stuff about that without too much delay.

Hearing how bad this movie was supposed to be and kind of expecting something decently scary gave me a bit of a disconnect with this movie. I really wasn't sure what I was going to expect. Well, whatever I expected I certainly didn't expect what the movie was.

Okay, first off, my first impressions are fairly positive. The film seemed to be plotted out and interesting despite the TERRIBLE introductory credit sequence which made me wince in pain because of some of the acting. And let me tell you right now, the acting is terrible. All of the actors, or nearly all, are terrible and should never act again. Jeffrey Donovan playing Jeff, the leader of a tour group and an overall unsavory character, seems to be the only recognizable actor here... well, at least to me. He also is far and away the best actor along with Stephen Barker Turner who played Stephen. The actresses of this film were... bad to say the least. I can see why none of them have been incredibly successful in the acting industry. Going back to where I was going with Jeffrey Donovan though. I watch Burn Notice on television sometimes. (It's a series akin to an spy-action-thriller kind of thing. Really good and worth the watch.) Anyway, Jeffrey Donovan is the lead on that show, so it's a little strange to see him playing a very different kind of character even though he plays that character quite well... or plays him well within the bounds of this movie.

Now, the movie isn't terrible. It's not the worst sequel to another movie I've ever seen. That still goes to Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Why in the Hell would I ever, EVER want to see Shia LeBeouf swinging around with CGI monkeys? Sorry, but that's something that will haunt me the rest of my days. At least this movie hasn't done terrible things to my childhood or offended me greatly. That makes it a much better movie in my opinion with or without freaking CGI. Oh, man... I'm not going to get into my opinions of CGI in movies right now, but I think you can all tell the gist of what I think...

Anyway, the movie starts out with a TERRIBLE opening credit sequence that made me want to throw things at my television, but then it starts out... and I find myself actually not wanting to throw things anymore. Besides the terrible acting most of the scenes are fairly believable in the early parts of the film. The camera work is actually quite good and the whole idea of Jeff leading a group of four other people into the Blair Witch woods after the first movie popularized it was a damn good idea and I give the filmmakers credit for that.

They eventually see a tree that had never been there and this starts off the mind-screw part of the story. I'm actually really starting to like it. If the acting were genuinely good I could see this being a very effective movie. I'm not even kidding around about that. Anyway, the mind-screw parts of the story are where the movie shines. It messes with the characters' heads until neither they nor the audience knows exactly what has been going on. It makes the movie interesting and open-ended. Eventually I started wondering if the freaking Blair Witch was screwing with stuff or if it were these kids who kept showing up and screwing with the characters... or if some kind of possession took place... or maybe the Wiccan witch had something to do with all of it... or maybe their disturbance of the foundation of the old house... I couldn't figure out exactly who the villain was, but that made it interesting. I liked having few answers and even though I'm sure the characters within the movie would have liked answers, they would have appreciated the artistry of having no answers in this film.

The deaths in this film are... all right. I don't know. Nobody ever really looked dead to me. They all looked like they had some make-up on and were trying not to move. But that's just my opinion. It took me out of the film a bit, but that's all right. I'm not being apologetic about it. They should have done more with the freaking make-up... but it wasn't unforgivable, just bad. Actually one death in particular, the last seen in the film, is particularly jarring to watch... especially once the "filmed" version is seen. I was a bit uncomfortable watching that... so, I call it effective.

Now, this movie wasn't scary in the slightest. Then again not much scares me. I also watched it during the day which might have a been a bit of my problem. I doubt it, but it could have been. See, so calling this a horror movie seems a little odd to me. It feels kind of like a horror movie, but like a new-agey slasher kind of film that has some psychological elements. The "slasher" parts of the film is ineffective, but I did like the psychological elements even when they weren't pulled off well. (I like psychological horror. It's hard for me to dislike it.)

So, that's about all there is to say about that movie. I didn't hate it. It wasn't a great film, but it also wasn't terrible. I could call it mediocre and be completely correct... so that's what I'll do. Watch it if you have absolutely nothing better to do and you want to watch something new, otherwise you should probably stay away from this movie.

Also, "Book of Shadows"? Where is this "Book of Shadows"? Was there a "Book of Shadows" that I missed while I wasn't looking? I didn't see any book relevant to the plot... except Stephen's book that gets torn apart fifteen minutes or so into the film. I doubt that was the "Book of Shadows". Otherwise there are no other books that I saw. Most of the film had to do with Jeff and his cameras, not with anything else. So, why name a movie Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 when there isn't a freaking book of shadows anywhere to be found?

Oh, and one more thing that my rant of a last paragraph reminded me of. I really liked the scene with the protagonists waking up in the ruins of the house amidst Stephen's wrecked papers flying all around. That was my favorite shot of the entire film and made me very happy.

Well, that's about it. Seriously though, if anybody can tell me what this "Book of Shadows" thing means I'd be thrilled to know it since I don't right now.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Book Evaluation: The Ruins (2006) by Scott Smith

The Ruins by Scott Smith is a horror novel with elements or gore, third-world countries, and college students.

Yeah, I know what you're probably thinking (Well, no, I don't... but that's not the point. I'm trying to say something here, all right?). You're thinking, Saquarry, that sounds all good and fine, but isn't every single horror movie like that? Especially those new-fangled horror movies with all of that "torture-porn" type of stuff... or "gorn" or a million other words to describe the same thing. Aren't there a ton of different movies like that, you're probably thinking.

Well, you're not wrong, but take a look at the title of this review. Go ahead, I'll wait.

So, yeah... you so the "Book Evaluation" thing there too, didn't you? Yeah, this isn't a horror movie. (Well, it was made into one in 2008, but that's not the point, all right?) This is a horror novel with elements of gorn and torture-porn and all that good terrible, terrible stuff... well, kind of at least... but not quite too...

Now, yes, this book is disturbing. Highly disturbing. I would never recommend this novel to anybody who has a week stomach or cannot take even vaguely disturbing stuff in stride.

I think of myself as being very well-abled to handle any kind of horror, in novel form or otherwise... but even I found myself slightly disturbed at some parts... and really disturbed at others.

The premise of this novel is simple. Some college friends, two groups of couples actually) go to the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico and see the third-world first hand. It starts getting bad when the four college students meet up with a German man and three Greeks who go by Spanish nicknames. The German man, Mathias, has a brother who met a female archaeologist and went to her dig site with her. Mathias really wanted to meet up with his brother again, so the four Americans, Mathias, and one of the Greeks, Pablo, go to the archaeological dig site to find Heinrich, Mathias' brother.

After trying to be dissuaded the six decide to take the plunge to the ruins...

The ruins?

Oh, this can't be good...

It isn't. A bunch of villagers surround the ruins once the six get to it. They also find it strange that an area around the dig site has been salted so that nothing can grow in a large circular area around it. Weird, huh?

Well, Pablo gets hurt after they all think they hear a cell phone in a large hole. They take him up and try to help him out of the dig site, but the villagers surrounding the ruins won't let them go past... they even seem willing to kill to keep the six of them from leaving the dig site.

Oh, this can't be good. Why would they do that? Well, what about that phone that was ringing before? Did they ever find it?

Heh heh... Let's just say that something odd stirs amongst the ruins...

Now, I'm not going to give this story away. The movie is quite a bit different from the novel and the novel is much better. The novel is much scarier even though the visuals on screen in the movie are supposed to be really nice. I prefer the descriptions of the book.

I have to say that this was one of the few legitimately terrifying novels I have ever read. It is disgusting and hard to read at points. The ending is legitimately depressing. I've never read another ending like that in my entire life and I kind of hope to never do so again. It felt like being kicked in the gut multiple times especially with such well-written characters.

This book is well worth reading... much more so than most terrible modern horror novels that aren't Clive Barker, Stephen King, or Peter Straub (Or House of Leaves for that matter, but I'm not going into that one yet.). Seriously check it out if you like horror and feel you can handle it. If not, take my word for it. This novel is wonderful and disturbing... it's hard to read... but also impossible to put down. Have fun sleeping soundly one you've finished it...

Sunday, October 17, 2010

THE SLENDER MAN is There

BEWARE THE SLENDER MAN. HE COMES FORYoU. Do yoU DaRe sEARCH?

Do you ever wonder what might go in the night while you are not watching when you cannot watch tHe end Do you not dare to find truth where there is only fiction or fiction where there is only trutH?

Show me nomore, wanderer, for I see nothing else. The lights are going out and I fear WHere I shall be taken from here. he comes for me in the night and I cannot find heim anymore.

EDIT FROM SAQUARRY: Uh, I don't remember writing this review, but I'll keep it up. Sometimes I write when I'm kind of tired. I'll check out some of this stuff and keep this up for a little bit while I try to find out if I was the one to write this or if somebody hacked my account.

Eidt: Dont adjst for mey. Insted. My Friend. Ill see too you.

EDIT #2 FROM SAQUARRY: Okay, not sure why this review has been going around my webpage, but I did a little research on this "Slender Man" fellow and I found that he's only an urban legend created at the forums of Something Awful. So,  yeah... not sure why somebody's trying to screw around with me.

Anyway, you can find some stuff about him (as well as other fake scary stories) here.

But I guess what I want you all to know is that this is probably some big crazy hoax and you shouldn't worry about me. Nope... not ever again.


Saturday, October 16, 2010

Movie Appraisal: Paranormal Activity (2007)

So, here's yet another movie. I've done a lot of movies, haven't I? I guess I find it easier and quicker than reading books or playing through a video game... the thing is that I haven't been going and hating all of these movies, which I find strange. Maybe it's because most of the movies I've watched so far have been good... or maybe I'm just reviewing movies that I enjoy. I'm not sure, but here's yet another movie I liked.

Paranormal Activity is a creepy movie. It's atmospheric and wonderfully weird. I like the movie from beginning to end. The pacing is fantastic with the daytime shoots and the feeling of everything being over during the day... and the nighttime shoots and the absolute terror of the creature awakened by the two young lovers.

The scariest part for me was watching this alone in a creaky old house on a Lovecraftian street, at around 1:00 AM. Yeah, I found it hard to sleep, let me tell you.

If a horror movie scares me, it's good. Period.

This movie uses the pacing, the minimal set and money, and the actors effectively. It's as if the director actually knew what he was doing. Look, I've seen so many movies out there that want to be this but aren't, so this movie is like a breath of fresh air rather than the punch in the gut that most movies like this are.

I would watch this movie over and over again. That's about how good I feel about it. It's no 1408 with all that movies excellent visuals, but it has something awesome nonetheless. It has a feeling to it... an energy that means something... there is a true fear there that cannot be explained and should be a true fear besides. I love a movie like this because it isn't about a simple ghost or monster or something... it's about something alien... something we cannot comprehend and that's what makes it scary. It's what makes 1408 scary too. When you put a human face on something it takes away the horror of what's happening. You can understand a person. We can be dicks or dweebs, terrible people or good... but we can understand each other. We all bleed. We all die. We all want to be loved and love in turn... and most of all we want ourselves to be right. That's all there is to understanding humans... but things that aren't human are much more terrifying. They scare us to our core. We don't understand their motives and thus we fear the unknown.

I guess my point is that this is a good movie and worth watching by yourself in the dead of some awful night. Seriously, do yourself a favor and check this out. If you like the movies I do, you won't be disappointed.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Movie Appraisal: The Evil Dead (1981)

The Evil Dead is one of the better horror movies of all time. Sure, I can argue that it looks like a very low-budget film, it acts like a really low-budget film, and besides Bruce Campbell the actors are mostly terrible, but this movie also has some great things going for it.

I love this movie. It shows me that Sam Raimi is an actual good director for the most part. I really couldn't have cared less about his Spider-Man movies because I hate Spider-Man that stupid suit-wearing, wise-cracking, Spider-Man... I don't know why my reaction to Spider-Man is so visceral, but I just hate everything about him. I kind of wish the character had never been born... but I'm getting off topic.

The Evil Dead series is one of the better known comedy-horror hybrids of movies. I mean, this franchise also put BRUCE CAMPBELL (AKA THE GREATEST MAN ALIVE) on the list of best actors to ever grace the screen. You may think I'm showing my sarcastic side here, but I actually really like Bruce Campbell as an actor. He does a great job in every movie I've ever seen him in and that's more than I can say about Viggo Mortensen or Kurt Russell... as examples.

Anyway, this whole franchise is mostly very good. The first movie, which is the one I'm reviewing here, is easily the least known and hardest to find. The third movie, Army of Darkness, is usually thought of as the best of the three... but I strongly disagree on that count. I mean, it's not as if I hate Army of Darkness, but it's a little too campy for my taste. I'd rather have horror with my horror movie and Army of Darkness is a campy horror-action film, which is perfectly watchable... just not the type of movie I really like.

The second movie, The Evil Dead II, is also very good. Hell, the whole franchise is... but it ups the campiness from the first movie up to eleven... which is fine for the movie it's trying to be, but a little upsetting because The Evil Dead is actually quite a wonderful horror movie.

Now, I'm sure you've seen, or at least heard of, movies that have plots like: Four college students go up to a cabin for a weekend of sex and fun and then something happens. In this case it's that they play a recording of the guy, a professor, who previously live there, and wake up an evil from the woods when the professor's voice says an incantation to wake it up. Yeah, it's kind of a weird way to get stuff started up, but it works really effectively.

You might think that this movie is campy and full of hilarious things all over the place... but it isn't and it doesn't. This is a purely horror film from beginning to end. And it works really well. You start liking the characters (especially Ashley Williams played by the inimitable Bruce Campbell) and fear for them as the trees and the dead come back to life to kill them all.

It works effectively because you know they're all screwed, but you hope that they make it until morning. I mean... at least one of them must make it out of the cabin alive, right? Right?

Well... sure... Ash makes it out of the cabin... but he doesn't get very far...

The filmography in this movie is fantastic. I have to admit that straightaway. In this movie you can easily see just what kind of filmmaker Sam Raimi was going to be, and what I mean by that is that he's a really good one. He started off a whole new way of shooting horror films with this movie... and even though most of his other "horror" films are just campy action flicks, this movie, as definite horror, really was a genre type of starter on many of the same brand of horror films and the way one directs horror films.

I'm going to state something else here too... this movie is scary and gory. It has scenes that are uncomfortable to watch and the fear is very real. You kind of feel like you don't want to go into the woods at night after watching this film. I like The Evil Dead as the horror movie it truly is... I only wish that its sequels had been more of the same despite their quality.

Well, those are my two cents. Check it out if you haven't.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Video Game Assessment: BioShock (2007)

Okay, I'm seriously very sorry for doing this, but this is a game I've been wanting to review for a very long time and I only just remembered it existed while I was going through a pile of games I finished. I say that I'm sorry because I'm sure there are people out there who really like this game. There are probably even people (perhaps) reading this review who REALLY like BioShock. Well, I'm going to say something that's probably going to make me very unpopular to those people.

I hated this game.

I hated it with a severe passion I usually only reserve for Dark City, Finnegans Wake, and The Martian Chronicles.

I'm not even kidding. This is my least favorite video game OF ALL TIME. You may think I'm going way overboard with that statement or something... but I'm not. I cannot think of a single video game worse than this piece of absolute crap. I'd rather play anything instead. I'd rather play a freaking Barbie game, or one of those freaking Pet Vet games or whatever they're called where the vet goes and pets the animal a lot until it gets better, or whatever the hell those games have in them. How should I know what's in them? I don't play them for a reason and if I did play them I'd kind of know what to expect.

This game is a pile of turds. Why? Well, because of what it claimed to be and what it turned out to be, of course. I mean, if you tell me this'll be the game that innovates first-person shooters with many elements of horror for years to come, I'd understand what you're saying... then I'd play the game and slap you in the face for this affront to humanity.

Did I say "affront"? I meant blight.

Seriously, this game is terrible. And I'm sure all these people who are into "mainstream" games like the Halo crowd are probably slobbering all over this game calling it a masterpiece of horror, sci-fi, and video games themselves... but those people are idiots. They have no idea what's going on at the best of times, and even though I consider myself quite mad most of the time, I'm not mad enough to call a turd a piece of gold. I'm sorry, it's just not something I feel comfortable with. It goes against the basic rules of everything.

BioShock feels like a game that wants to be something better. It wants to be the older kinds of games with a great plot and some puzzle elements and a WHOLE LOT of horror... but what it comes off as is pretentious bullcrap.

I love great stories. Love great twists and turns. Look at my Silent Hill 2 review or my Deadly Premonition one if you don't believe me. Seriously. Those show that I love great stories, even when the game is ultra-hyped. Silent Hill 2 is often called the scariest game of all time, and you know something? Despite my insistence on hating most things well-loved by the populace, I love Silent Hill 2. I think it is the scariest video game of all time without a doubt in my mind. And saying that makes me hurt a little knowing that I agree with so many other reviewers out there... but it's true and I cannot deny the truth despite my obvious mental defects.

But this game... oh, this game... I can't even like it. Sure, I tried to like it. I played levels and had a little fun from time to time. I killed weird people stuck in the underwater city of Rapture, and I didn't feel anything. The scares WEREN'T SCARY! How can a horror game not be scary? How is that even possible? How can people like this game?

I'm so angry I could spit staples out of my teeth as hard and fast as my staple-gun. I don't think any game has ever made me this angry before... no, I know that no game has ever made me this angry. I can't believe how many people liked this game. I can't believe enough people liked it so that there was an even more terrible sequel made which I will never play even under threats of death and bodily destruction. I'd rather die painfully than play a game that hurts my pure visions of video games.

I played this game for about an hour on my first playthrough. It seemed a little tense from time to time and I didn't hate it. I thought it was all right. I thought that maybe I'd like the game even... but after a little time playing through the game, I found that instead of liking it more I was just bored. I knew what was coming before it came. I could kill everything without a blink of my eyes. I don't even like first-person horror games all that much because they make me nervous, but this game just made me sigh for the game to throw some kind of challenge at me... anything to keep me from falling asleep in front of my television.

I mean, there are some good ideas... like the plasmids and everything, but they're implemented so poorly. It's like a rip-off of the Fallout series or something with all the little cutesy 1950's era doodles. It just makes me angry. Nothing here feels original. Nothing here even feels good. It's like vomit in video game form and that... well, that just isn't right in any circle.

The big twist is stupid and happens way before the end of the game. I couldn't care less. I might not have seen it coming exactly, but I didn't care about these characters I never saw except when I listened to them talking over a radio at me and saw a little picture in the corner looking at me. How stupid is that? Show me a cutscene if you're going to try to be Half-Life... I mean, Half-Life did that whole playable cutscene thing perfectly, showing me the characters involved without feeling distant from everything. It made use of the special weapons (e.g. The Gravity Gun) and used them effectively. This game instead goes for the whole, "Yeah, go use this fire plasmid to melt some ice. Yay!"

Whoopdee-doo... A one-year-old child could figure that out. A dog could figure out that warmth is bad for ice. What the hell kind of game is this that treats me as if I have the intelligence of a one-year-old child dog thing? IT MAKES ME ANGRY!

And the worst part is the ending... well, that and the item collection to become a BIG DADDY, which has to be one of the most hyped up easy enemies ever. I mean, when I first saw the trailer I was all like, man those things are going to rock!And then they didn't. It was quite the let down. It was like somebody telling me they were going to give me a puppy, and then instead they ritually sacrificed the puppy there in front of me and gave me the poor thing's fur as a final gift. I don't want dead puppy fur, I want a living puppy that will make me giggle and be happy! BioShock, why did you have to give me a dead puppy's fur? (Yes, I'm going to go with this analogy as long as I can. Hopefully you're getting a fraction of the amount that I abhor this game.)

Why does this game exist? Why is it so popular? Has the mainstream become so hopeless that this is seen as GAME OF THE YEAR material? I can think of many better games of 2007 right off the top of my head: Assassin's Creed (which I didn't even like all that much), Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare, The Orange Box, Lost Odyssey, Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, Peggle, even Silent Hill: Origins, which was absolutely terrible mostly! I can't even think straight... This game is making me so angry...

I will admit one positive aspect of this game just to calm my absolute rage. It has outstanding visuals. The graphics are outstanding mostly, and the water effects are beautiful. Okay, that's about it... and you know what? I guarantee that almost everybody who loves this game love it for its "innovative weapons" and "cool graphics" and that's sad. Games should be measured by more than just what they look like and how you kill the enemies. But no... stories don't matter... characters don't matter. The only things that matter are graphics and gameplay and if that's all that matter than yes, this game is a fricking gem among an ocean of gems. ALL GAMES ARE PLAYABLE OR THEY WOULDN'T BE GAMES! GOOD GAMEPLAY IS LIKE SAYING A MOVIE SHOULD BE WATCHABLE! OKAY!? AND GRAPHICS SHOULD BE TOPNOTCH ON NEW CONSOLES, BUT THAT'S NOT ALWAYS THE CASE, ALL RIGHT!? AND IF IT ISN'T THEN THAT GAME THAT DOESN'T SHOULD HAVE SOMETHING EXTRA SPECIAL LIKE A REALLY GOOD STORY! Okay... take a deep breath...

My point is that games should have all these things... just because this game has some decent graphics and gameplay doesn't make it GAME OF THE YEAR. What made it GAME OF THE YEAR are douchebags who consider it art rather than seeing it as pretentious bullcrap that should be flushed down the nearest toilet.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Book Evaluation: The Mothman Prophecies (1975) by John A. Keel

The Mothman Prophecies by John A. Keel is a creepy supposedly nonfiction book. Now let me just say that if this book is nonfiction than the world is a much creepier place than most of us have ever known.

I'd like to believe this is nonfiction. It makes me truly think that the world is much more interesting than I had ever known.

I like this book. I like it a lot.

See, it talks about the Mothman, a moth-like entity that supposedly visited people in Point Pleasant, West Virginia between 1966 and 1967. Keel was a journalist dealing in paranormal kinds of stuff and he was investigating these strange sightings.

One particularly disturbing group of incidents described in the book concern "The Grinning Man" Indrid Cold. Indrid Cold is supposedly a paranormal entity who contacted Keel and others in Point Pleasant and Elizabeth, New Jersey during that same period of time. This whole episode of the book is incredibly creepy with strange sounds and lights appearing all over the place and Cold asking questions to some of the people who saw him. He is used as an example of some kind of extraterrestrial because his features are supposedly very alien-like, which is kind of awesome.

I guess this book simply excites me. I love the idea of reality being more interesting than what we can sense with our limited capabilities. I like to think there's more to life than living and dying and finding someone to live and to die with. It would seem empty if that were what life was all about.

I just have to say that I really like this book. I find it creepy and convincing,but mostly I find it fascinating that something like the account written within could be the truth.

The Mothman also goes down in history as one of the strangest phenomena of all time, a convincing scary creature that was almost meant to be a bad omen of something or other.

I should also give a mention to the collapse of the Silver Bridge, which in the book is shown to be a culmination of the paranormal events and an end to the grouping of sightings of the Mothman and Indrid Cold of this time period.

I think that this is the best of the nonfiction paranormal books in existence, and easily my favorite. It was made into a movie in 2002, but the movie was frankly not very good. I didn't like it at all and it really screwed up the source material which is a damn shame. I'm going to end this review with a quotation that I particularly liked from the book, even though it isn't scary or whatever else... I found it memorable and a little funny. So, there's that.

They expressed surprise that I had been given a tour of the exchange building. This was unheard of. The FBI and the CIA hate each other, and they both hate the telephone company. The telephone company, in turn, seems to hate everybody.


Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Video Game Assessment: Resident Evil 4 (2005)

Resident Evil 4 is a wonderful horror game that came out in 2005 for the GameCube, PlayStation 2, and eventually the Nintendo Wii systems. A lot has been said about this game and I'm going to try to keep this short. I love this game. I really do. I know I've been reviewing a lot of things I like, but horror is my favorite genre and this is one of my favorite horror games. The funny thing is that I really dislike every other Resident Evil game besides this one, which I find very funny.

Seriously though, this is far and away the best of the Resident Evil games. I've played some of the others and haven't finished any of them because they're just not as good and not as fun. I like how this game really went away from the whole zombie thing and took the entire series into a new and fantastic direction (or at least it did until Resident Evil 5 came out... don't even get me started on that game...). I liked how the zombies weren't zombies in this game. They were Spanish villagers infected with some sort of terrible mind-controlling parasite kind of thing. It was a neat thing to try and it worked out amazingly well.

The gameplay of this game is fantastic as well and spawned a ton of other games (Silent Hill: Homecoming, Deadly Premonition, Resident Evil 5, and others) to use the same over the shoulder third person perspective which worked so well. The inventory of this game and its management is fantastic as well.

Where this game really shines for me is the action rather than the horror. This game focuses pretty strongly on Leon Kennedy (the protagonist and player character) being more of an action hero than a horror protagonist. That's not saying that this game isn't horror, but it does stress the action parts of the game in some places pretty heavily. I really like the first [part of the game the most when Leon is stuck in the Spanish village and has to kill all the villagers since they are attacking him. I felt that that part was the most effective of the entire game and I really enjoyed it. The next four sections of the game are quite a bit shorter and not nearly as terrifying, but I think they're still good, just not as good as that first part which was fantastic.

Strangely enough, I felt that the first part was the entire game when I played it. I thought that if that was the whole game, it was kind of short, but really well done. I would have been happy walking away form it there and would have had much of the same praises for the game and many fewer complaints. I just didn't like the rest of the game as much. I felt it was too padded and went much deeper into the Resident Evil continuity from other games than I was comfortable with.

Altogether though it is a solid game with fantastic gameplay and a fun story. The enemies are cool looking, the bosses are mostly very fun, and I was happy I had the chance to play this game.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Short Story Scrutiny: "The Colour Out of Space" (1927) by H. P. Lovecraft

Okay, I don't have a picture for this one, which I'm infinitely sorry for. Honestly though I can't see this review having a picture anyway. "The Colour Out of Space" by Howard Philips Lovecraft is the single best examples I have ever seen of a purely atmospheric piece of horror. Sure, there are other good examples by other authors, but this one is the best because of how it effectively uses the material to be terrifying.

Now, personally, I am not a huge H. P. Lovecraft fan. I like some of his stuff some of the time, but most of his stuff is garbage and unfit for brain consumption. I mean, the man was about as racist as a man could be and it comes off in his writings as random asides about the inferiority of other races. Kind of sick in a way.

But in this story, the idea of racism doesn't raise its ugly head. Instead this story focuses on an alien, which also happens to be the title of the story. It is a colour from space that is the real horror. It steals energy from the land and the people on it eventually driving them all insane. They all die fairly horribly not long after that as the area itself becomes a haven for otherworldly wildlife. The most horrific part for me is how everything earth-like and natural for us turns gray and disintegrates into nothing at all. It provides a sharp contrast to films and other stories that have the horror being something substantial that one can fight. The horror of this story isn't in the substance, but rather the lack of substance, the lack of an enemy, the lack of motive. The fear here is really very little,but it is used so effectively that the horror becomes much more tangible than any mindless slasher film. There is a feeling of absolute dread that spreads its way across the story and in some ways it feels much realer than most other stories out there. In some ways it almost feels as if this story could happen in our world... or maybe already has.

What I'm saying is that this story is outstanding and its short length leads it to being accessible to just about anybody. Check it out and see the horror of "The Colour Out of Space" for yourself.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Movie Appraisal: Event Horizon (1997)

Okay, so I know that this movie isn't particularly well liked by pretty much anybody. So, I'm going to continue being controversial and I have to say that I love this movie. Parts of it were chilling, the horror was great, and the imagery (I go back to that yet again) was FANTASTIC.

No, I'm not even kidding around here. This movie was absolutely fantastic for me, and I know there are tons of people out there who hate this film. Actually every person I know who I've talked to about this film has hated it and pretty vividly hated it, but there's something about this film that draws me to it like a moth to a bright light-bulb.

I know the story doesn't make a TON of sense, but that's fine. As I'm sure I've established already, movie stories don't mean much to me since I dislike the movie medium to begin with. I feel movies are usually too short to make effective stories. That's not always true, and in general I think horror movies are the best kinds of movies because they use pacing and the shortness of the medium effectively. I also lump suspense and thriller types of movies into horror. See, those are the kinds of movies that prosper under a tight schedule. Other movies, like serious dramas or most romances or comedies (boy, do I dislike most comedic films), I feel, suffer from the shortness and the pattern of movies. It seems that every one of those films has to have the same kinds of stuff happen in them and it makes them tiresome and terrible and kind of makes me want to go insane and turn into a vampire and just go wild. I just hate most movies, all right? My point here in this review is that I don't hate this movie. In fact I kind of really like it.

Now, I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "Saquarry, you idiot, how can you like this horrible film and dislike, oh let's see... Ghostbusters for example?"

Well, that's easily answered. Ghostbusters is an overrated sack of cruddy garbage and should only be watched by people who have actually no appreciation over actual storytelling and character development. I feel that the whole genre of comedy is made specifically for the lowest common denominator of people. It dumbs down the whole populace and makes each and every one of us more pieces of goo obsessed with amusement than thinking human beings who are made to use our imaginations.

This is one of the reasons I tend to like older films. I feel that the minimalist approach is the best approach to anything. Use class to get points across. Assume your audience isn't a bunch of mindless zombies even if they are.

And that goes to my point. I feel that most people who dislike this film just don't take the time to see it as it is. Now, I hate sci-fi films... and sci-fi in space is almost instantly a turn-off for me. I actually dislike most sci-fi films in general unless they happen to be awesome. I really liked 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and Sunshine (2007), but that's about it.

Anyway, I loved the imagery of everything. I liked the ship and the scares. I liked the deaths and Sam Neill was amazing. I mean, he was just absolutely fantastic in this film. I could watch that man's performance over and over again. he is such an underrated actor, but he's been fantastic in everything I've ever seen him in, even if I didn't particularly like the movie like Daybreakers (2009), for example.

Anyway, watching this movie with its twists and turns and real scares shows me that there are some great horror films still being made.