Watchin’ Stuff

Another 80’s classic, Night of the Creeps features aliens, killer slugs, zombies, and a story that’s not-so-secretly a social commentary on rapey frat-bros. The dialogue is a little cringey at times, but it still holds up pretty well for the most part. Definitely recommended for anyone into goofy 80’s horror.

Actually watched all 4 Critters movies, but I’m not going to get into great detail about all 4 of them. The original Critters was a pretty solid movie for being one of many Gremlins knock-offs of its time, though the Critters are a little more murderous than the Gremlins. The second one still holds up pretty well too, though it pretty much entirely stops even pretending to be a serious movie. 3 and 4 are actually pretty crappy. I would advise most people to stop at 2 unless you’re really into the series for nostalgic reasons or something.

Wow. I like some really disturbing and depressing movies, but this one takes the cake. Elle immediately opens with the main character being raped and from the description, I was under the impression that the rest of the movie would be a thriller about her trying to discover the identity of the rapist and get revenge on them, but apparently the description is quite misleading. Instead, the movie mostly focuses on the various relationships the main character has with her friends and family, and it turns out she’s actually an extremely unlikable person. She has extremely dysfunctional relationships with her mother, son, and ex-husband. She’s sleeping with her best friend’s husband, and is trying to screw her married neighbor too. SPOILERS INCOMING!

SPOILER TIME: the rapist turns out to be the neighbor she’s trying to fuck, and once she finds out, she…suddenly doesn’t mind so much? I guess she changes her mind and decides that she’s just going to let him come back and keep raping her because she decides she’s into it now? I gave up at this point, but I looked up the ending and apparently she changes her mind again later and convinces her idiot son to kill the guy later. What a miserable bunch of people.

This is a movie from the director of Bone Tomahawk, a decent western/horror from a few years ago. This is supposed to be similarly brutal, but I couldn’t make it far enough to find out. Holy shit is this movie slow and dry. Vince Vaughn’s supposed to be this big tough guy with anger issues, but most of the time he just kind of sleepwalks his way through the scenes. With his sedate performance and the incredibly slow pace, even when the movie finally reached the prison part, it was still dangerously close to putting me to sleep. Maybe there’s some good stuff in there later on, but if I have to sit through 90 minutes of boredom to get to it, it’s not worth it to me.

Amazingly, I’ve never seen this before. Was never really a big Patrick Swayze fan, I guess. This was pretty decent though. Calling it an action movie, as so many people seem to do, is probably a bit misleading. Sure, there are a few fight scenes, but it’s really more of a drama most of the time. Anyway, of course it’s a bit cheesy since it’s the 80’s, but it was pretty enjoyable.

And finally, another great season of Stranger Things. They took a little time to plant some seeds for future stories too, so it looks like this show will be sticking around for a while still. Anyway, it’s basically a 9 hour long 80’s movie of very high quality, much like the first season. Great writing, great characters, great everything really. If you still haven’t seen this show, get out of the damn cave you’re living in and watch it already!

This is about it for Halloween for me already, as I’m not going to have time to celebrate on the actual day since it falls on a weekday. On the plus side, I picked up a large number of terrible “new” horror movies recently. Enough to keep me blabbing for the next year or so, though I’m sure that about 85% of them will end up being complete garbage. OH WELLLLLLLLLLLLL!

Night of the Emus

Time for a bit of arcade fun this time…

Robocop by Data East

Robocop was really impressive in terms of graphics, sound (although the Robocop sound bites get a bit repetitive), and gameplay for its time. It was a real quarter sucking beast though. The first few levels make it seem like a pretty standard beat-em-up in the vein of Bad Dudes (as in tough, but do-able), but then the difficulty shoots up to ridiculous levels and just keeps rising beyond belief. In the last few levels you can easily find almost the whole screen covered by enemies, and you can end up dying in literally 2 seconds (and you only get 1 life per credit). Pretty much entirely impossible to beat in the arcades, but it’s fun to take on at home with unlimited credits.

1507429-monster_maulers_dragon
Monster Maulers by Konami

Holy shit, where did this game come from? I just picked it at random because I thought it might make for a good Halloween game. I’ve never seen this in any arcade before. Never even heard of it. This game is fucking amazing. It’s kind of like King of the Monsters. You’re some kind of Japanese super-wrestling-hero, doing one on one matches against a bunch of crazy monsters.

The monsters are absolutely insane. Amazingly animated and each with their own large, unique sets of crazy attacks. Things get even crazier in the extra-long final level, which turns into a beat-em-up with regular enemies and multiple bosses, and has some crazy anime theme song music playing. Highly recommended.

puniser.jpg
The Punisher by Capcom

Another classic Capcom beat-em-up. If you’ve played one of these, you’ve pretty much played them all, yet they’re still all so damn fun. Incredibly violent, packed full of nice and crunchy weapons to play with, and piles of nutty boss fights. Good times.

Aliens by Konami

Basically a beat-em-up with guns, Aliens is a little clunky at times, but man they sure nailed those Alien creature designs, and there are a ton of wacky boss fights that are very reminiscent of Contra (which is ironic, since Contra was totally ripping off Alien in the first place). Not the best Alien-related arcade game, but still a fun classic.

Watchin’ Stuff

This wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. The trailer was pretty boring and the reviews are pretty terrible, but I thought it was decent. It does kind of have that feeling like if the first and last few minutes were removed or altered, it could have been an entirely different movie with no connection to Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but it was alright for what it was. Dark, disturbing, and a pretty generous amount of good quality gore effects. Did this series really need yet another origin/reboot chapter, and is this latest entry going to finally revitalize the brand? Probably not to both, but oh well.

I remember this being on tv a lot when I was a kid, so I thought I’d revisit it. Eh, it’s pretty bad. Not nearly as bad as the ultra-abysmal original Ghoulies, because that’s an extremely low bar to reach, but it’s still a pretty poor 80’s horror movie. The creature design is passable for its time, but the story, characters, and death scenes are all pretty underwhelming. Watching it now, that ending doesn’t really make sense either. I remembered them getting the giant creature at the end to swallow a dummy with a bomb in it to defeat it, but now that I see it again, it was actually a molotov cocktail that just had a cloth fuse sticking clearly out of the eye of the dummy. That was their plan? To just hope that that thing stayed lit, even when a giant demon thing swallows it? And then it makes him explode like it was made of dynamite. It just seems so silly now.

Now the big ape moment that we’ve all been waiting for. What people have been calling the most amazing ape movie ever and one of the best movies of the year. Eh. It was decent, but I actually thought it was the least interesting of the 3 recent apes movies (not including Burton Apes at all in that of course, because that never happened!). Just like the previous two, the characters and effects were great, but this one felt a lot less consistently paced than the first two. The majority of the movie focused on a small handful of characters, who spent most of the time just talking, and don’t get me wrong, the script was still well-written enough for even the slowest parts to be entertaining, but I was a little surprised at just how little war there was in a movie with this name.

You know, it sure strikes me as strange too, that this movie was so highly praised and financially successful, even though it’s so long, dialogue heavy (it even has subtitles half the time!), and action light. Why is it that this met with such mainstream success when everyone seemed to hate Blade Runner 2049 for the same reasons? Beats me.

70’s horror just doesn’t do it for me most of the time, but you never know. There are some occasional gems to be found there. This isn’t one of them. Not the worst thing I’ve ever seen, but just too dated and slow to be entertaining.

Another one that I used to watch a ton when I was a kid. I didn’t expect this to hold up at all either, but it’s actually still pretty funny. It’s absolutely ridiculous and implausible, the kind of goofy-ass nonsense that could only succeed in the 80’s, but somehow it still works more often than it doesn’t. Of course half the fun is also laughing at how terrible it is. It’s terrible in the best way though. Fun times.

Arghhhh. I tried and tried to like this. I’m a huge fan of ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but this is just awful. The quality of the writing took a huge nosedive in the third episode and I couldn’t make it through the fourth. It’s just so terrible and cliche-packed. It’s like a bad cartoon. I give up. Just bring back Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.!

Wait, let me sneak a few more bonus things on here…

Another Netflix Stephen King adaptation. I guess they’re really reaching for un-adapted Stephen King works these days, huh? Thomas Jane and friends put in a good performance and there are some nice effects, but it’s a pretty slow and dreary tale. Man kills wife, man regrets it and goes kind of nutty. Eh. It was ok, but I doubt I’d ever watch it again.

Wow. This is so very bad. Painfully bad script and dialogue. What’s with the pop up text? Was that supposed to be emulating internet memes? Who is this movie for? I feel like this is aimed kids in high school or under, yet it’s rated for ages 17 and up. I guess I just don’t get it. This is just an incredibly unfunny movie with no redeeming qualities to it, except I guess the cinematography was decent enough. Big slow clap for that.

Now Reading: The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen was never what I would call one of my favorite Alan Moore stories, but even the least exciting Moore stories are still pretty damn good. Basically, it’s a bunch of 19th century literary characters teaming up like a group of old-timey superheroes because in this world every work of fiction was apparently based on a true story. The original team consisted of people like Mr. Hyde, Nemo, and Allan Quatermain. The first two volumes are surprisingly simple for a Moore story. Sure, there’s layers upon layers of literary references scattered throughout each moment, but the main plot is very straightforward stuff. Still an excellent read, but it wasn’t until later that things started getting really dense and weird.

Things got much stranger with The Black Dossier, which was like a bizarre scrapbook filled with various prose short stories and short comic bits, all from different time periods ranging from over 1000 years BC to the 1940’s. It deals with magic, immortals, and the mysterious fourth dimension. It even includes some 3D glasses for some special bits in the end. It can be a bit dry at times, sometimes feeling more like a history textbook than a fictional narrative, but it’s certainly a unique presentation, and it adds some crazy new twists to the premise of The League. 

The third volume (because Black Dossier didn’t count as such for some reason) returns to a more standard comic book format, but continues the themes of strange extra-dimensional entities and a complex plot that spans multiple time periods. It’s a very different kind of story than the original 19th century League, but it also has ties to every story that came before it. It also features the introduction to the new Nemo, who would end up becoming the focus of the final League-related stories. It serves as a good enough ending for the saga, wrapping up most pre-existing plot threads, though still leaving enough people still standing that a sequel would be possible, though that seems extremely unlikely at this point.

The Nemo Trilogy is really more of a spinoff, covering a few key adventures throughout the life of Nemo’s daughter. It’s a bit more like the original volumes of League, as in it’s just standard straightforward adventure stuff where Nemo and crew fight against Lovecraftian horrors and Nazis and such. Not a bad read, but pretty simple stuff compared to the rest.

I’ve noticed that there were several references to and encounters with the Cthulhuverse across several of these stories over the year too. Moore sure seems to think about Cthulhu a lot, not that there’s anything wrong with that…

Watchin’ Stuff

It is a difficult quest, to try to find good horror movies that I’ve never seen before, when I’ve already seen so very many of them. You have to dig through a lot of shit to find the ever-shrinking number of rare gems within. Tonight is no different. The Boogens is another one of those boring-ass horror movies where 90% of the movie is spent doing absolutely everything to avoid actually being a horror movie because that shit costs money. It takes an hour for them to even show just the tentacle of one of the creatures on screen. It’s unfortunate, because the actors and the script were relatively decent for a low budget early 80’s horror movie, but they just sit around talking for almost the whole thing because the budget for the creature effects was about $50.

Profundo Rosso, a.k.a. Deep Red, is another crazy giallo film from Dario Argento. This time a musician witnesses a murder and gets caught up in trying to solve the case pretty much all on his own because the police are oddly absent throughout most of the story. This is basically the same plot of his previous movies again, but whatever. This one was particularly weird though. The movie randomly switches between Italian and English on a regular basis. The whole romance/team-up subplot with the main guy and the reporter lady is incredibly strange and laced with out-of-place slapstick comedy moments. The transitions between some scenes lead me to believe that there was some kind of problem with the editing. It feels almost like this movie changed direction multiple times during creation, then was never actually completed, but then they just decided to splice all the parts together anyway and say “eh, close enough”, yet…somehow it kind of works. It’s insane and absolutely ridiculous, but I couldn’t stop watching it.

Pro tip though: there’s a part very early on where the hero sees something important at the crime scene and if you’re paying attention you might notice this thing briefly, but it happens too fast for you to see it clearly…UNLESS you get the bright idea to rewind and pause at the exact right fraction of a second, in which case you’ll end up seeing the identity of the murderer and spoiling it for yourself right away, just like I did! So…don’t do that.

This is presented as a babysitter and a kid being stalked by a killer on Christmas, but this is completely misleading. Spoiler: the home invasion is very quickly revealed to have been staged to make her scared which was supposed to end up making the babysitter fall in love with the kid somehow, but when the stupid scheme doesn’t work, it turns into this awkward kidnap/rape/murder fantasy, which is what the movie is really all about. There’s nothing scary about some horny 12 year old kid. It’s also supposedly a comedy, but there’s nothing funny about it. It was all just very unpleasant to me. Turned it off halfway through.

Another cheap snoozefest. I like how the lady on the cover isn’t even the actress who actually plays the baddie in the movie. That should tell you what kind of shit movie this is. Nothing else even worth mentioning here. Couldn’t finish this one either. Next!

Ah, dammit. I’ve already seen this one and I couldn’t finish it that time either! This is why I need to keep track of these things, because how else can I possibly keep track of all these crap movies. This isn’t even the only movie called Death Ship (they’re both awful)! NEXT!

Why am I doing this to myself? This is absolute garbage. It was a little funny from time to time, but everything about it was just so awful. Horrible acting, absolutely godawful effects…what’s to like? Oh, the shit I watch…

Back to Dario Argento so I could go out on a high note (I hoped). This was Argento‘s second step away from his usual giallo stuff, into the world of weird supernatural horror (Suspiria being the first, but I already watched that again for the dozenth time not that long ago). It’s also the second in the “Three Mothers” trilogy of bizarre witch stories. Much like Suspiria, it’s very cryptic, slow-moving, and strange. The scenery isn’t bad, but it’s not as impressive as Suspiria. It didn’t have the catchy, haunting music of Suspiria going for it either. Very weird and requires a lot of patience, but mostly likable in that crazy Argento way.

The Vita Report

The trailer made this look like a fun, wacky game with a colorfully retro look and sound, but I just couldn’t get into it. The gameplay consists entirely of holding down X, aiming, and letting go. That’s it. Occasionally you can unleash a powerup move, but it doesn’t happen very often or seem to help a great deal. Mainly it’s just that same aiming combo over and over and over again as you stand there motionlessly. It’s tedious, the aim doesn’t seem quite right sometimes, and the constant need to hold down the X button kinda makes my thumb hurt too. Oh well. Next.

Some people are not going to like this, but I just didn’t like this series enough to finish it all. I liked the first game the best of what I played. It felt very much like a clone of Mario 64 and had a nice looking world and a good collectible system, but it also had some serious control problems. The camera wasn’t great, making judging all the tricky jumps tricky business. Not impossible, but sometimes frustratingly difficult, especially when the 2nd jump on the double jump seemed to have a really bad habit of sticking and ruining your jumps. Even worse were the vehicle controls. Those hoverbike things (I already forget what they were called) had such awful handling that all the driving levels and driving challenge areas were pretty painful. They almost drove me to quit more than once, but I had gotten so far already that I kept on going.

The second game actually improved on the platforming controls a lot. Moving and jumping felt much smoother and more precise. Unfortunately, they also completely ditched everything I liked about the first one and turned the game into some kind of kiddie-dark pseudo-open world game with a heavy focus on vehicles, which seemed to somehow control even worse than before. Soooo much time is spent driving around the “open world”, which is really just a huge area full of nothing but clutter between far away objective points. For some reason they decided to make the city a huge, sprawling maze too, which is weird given that there’s nothing to actually do there. They really went overboard on all the walking and driving NPCs all over the place too. So basically when you need to drive across town for your next objective, you’re just plowing through piles of civilians and constantly crashing into other vehicles and all the many tight corners. You can adjust the hover height level, which I guess is supposed to help you navigate these parts better, but both the ground and air are usually so cluttered that it doesn’t really matter.

These long and unpleasant treks between each mission are bad enough, but the missions themselves weren’t much fun for me either. A mysterious lack of checkpoints in missions, which forces you to start the whole level from scratch each time you lose or die, and some rather unpleasant objectives like the dreaded escort missions, just didn’t work for me. An awkward new gun mechanic didn’t help matters much either.

I don’t know, maybe you’d have to have grown up with these games to appreciate them. I’m sure people from other generations that try to play my favorite old NES games probably find them very clunky and annoying too *shrug*. I just couldn’t bring myself to finish the second one and moved on to something else.

Oh, a pixel art horror game. Finally something I can enjoy, right? Sigh. Nope. Didn’t much like this one either. It has an interesting premise and looks nice enough for what it is, but the execution is really questionable. It’s set up like a roguelike, where there are no saves/checkpoints and if you die once it’s game over. I’m…not really sure why though, because it’s a really slow paced adventure/survival horror. Each time you start over you’re forced to play through a lot of forced sequential scripted events, most of which just involves walking back and forth between the same two sections of the game. Doing this part once is fine, but after having to repeat it all for the fifth time or so, it’s pretty repellent. You know, I never even got to see the combat in the game. The first time I played, things ended early due to me accidentally triggering an alternate bad ending. Next time I guess I made a wrong choice and got automatically killed in a cutscene. Next time I got a little further, even finally running into some actual enemies, but I still had no weapon and there were bad guys in every direction I ran, so eventually I just ended up dying again. I just don’t know why they went with this halfassed roguelike system and didn’t even allow you to hurry through all the slow scripted stuff in the beginning. Having to do that all every single time you die is insane and unfun. Pass.

Ahhh, finally something fun. That was an annoying bad streak for a while there. I’m generally not a fan of the steampunk aesthetic, but this was just such an oddly fun game for being all about mining. It seems to often be lumped into the Metroidvania genre, but I think that’s a bit misleading. There are very few set levels. Mostly you’re just digging your own way through giant patches of increasingly tough dirt, searching for all the gems you can carry. It seems kind of silly when you think about it, how all you really do in this game is dig around for gems, which the only thing you can spend on is better gear for…digging around for more gems. It’s oddly compelling though. There is combat, but you really don’t use it much at all. Other than the fact that it’s side scrolling and has a map, I don’t really see how it fits into the Metroidvania category at all. Anyway, fun game though.

Another steampunk game? Sure, why not. This return visit to Steamworld instead takes the form of a turn-based tactical lite-RPG. It wasn’t quite as compelling as Steamworld Dig, but it’s still a very enjoyable adventure with a pretty decent amount of content. The battles get really difficult after a while too. I probably should have turned it down a notch, but the game made a point of telling me that “experienced” was the recommended and intended difficulty, so I took that as a personal challenge for some reason. Anyway, I made it through eventually.

In related news, it’s since been announced that the upcoming Steamworld Dig 2 will be coming to Vita again, so I’ll definitely be checking that out.

And finally, everyone has probably heard of this game by now. It’s a side-scrolling Dark Souls clone. It does quite a good job of creating a Dark Souls type of experience, without being too derivative. Playing a game like this in 2D is a bit odd. One less dimension means it’s often a lot easier to hit what you’re aiming at since the baddies have one less dimension to dodge into, but this works both ways. There’s much less space for you to furiously dodge-roll into when you get into a sticky situation.

I’m not sure what the point of adding a second form of currency was. You can use gold to buy items at some shops instead of salt (souls) and you lose a chunk of gold when you die, but still have to go retrieve your salt if you want it back. I don’t know, it just didn’t seem to really add anything. I guess I saved some salt by not having to spend it on store items, but then there weren’t very many shop items that I needed to buy anyway. *shrug*

Something about an intricate inter-connected Souls type of world seemed harder to keep track of than it did in the 3D versions too, though maybe this was just because I didn’t play it as heavily as I usually did with the Souls games. Not that it’s not a fun game, I just don’t often put as many hours into Vita games as I do full ones. Anyway though, good game if you like this sort of thing, with many tough levels and enemies. Good times.