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.

Watchin’ Stuff

Haven’t watched the original in, oh I don’t know, 15 years at least. Still a fun movie. It’s a pretty slow-paced and reserved movie, so it’s awfully strange that so many “hardcore fans” are complaining about those aspects of the new one, but let’s not even get into that. I always get a kick out of these 80’s visions of the future where future tech is just like an old CRT tv with clocks and fax machines glued to it.

What a fucking great movie. Villeneuve continues to show why he’s the greatest modern director out there. Yes, it’s a very long movie and like its predecessor it takes its own sweet time getting where it wants to go, but man, it’s so worth the investment of your time and patience. It’s definitely a strange and unconventional film, which unfortunately seems to already be driving the mainstream audience away pretty quickly, but that’s their loss. It’s hard to say much more about it without getting into spoilers. Let’s just say that Ryan Gosling’s character, K, and the evolution he undergoes in the process of the film are both exceptionally acted and directed. There’s so much more depth here than people are giving it credit for, simply because it doesn’t hold your hand and spell everything out for you. See for yourself and you’ll see what I mean.

Checked this out after reading about it at Jordan and EddieThey were right, it is pretty good for one of those found footage films, which is quite rare. I had kind of hoped that the ultimate secret of what happened in the basement would have been a little creepier somehow, but then again, it was pretty unlikely that anything they did could have lived up to the sense of dread they built up surrounding that incident. Enjoyable overall.

The new non-X-Men X-Men show has begun. It was ok. Not amazing, not bad. We’ll have to see where it goes. I will never understand Bryan Singer’s tendency to take famous character names and then slap them on completely unrelated characters. Like the Strucker family here, who are the sympathetic good guy family that are for some inexplicable reason named after a famous family of evil Nazi terrorists in the comics. Oh well. We’ll see, but it’s sure no Legion.

Wooooo, Curb Your Enthusiasm has returned! Everyone involved looks noticeably older, but it doesn’t seem to have affected anyone’s performance one bit. Still the same old  hilariously awkwardly offensive show.

Man, I really need to try to fit in some more horror movies this week. My horror intake has been pathetic for October so far! I’ll try to make it up to…you, me, Samhain, or whoever the fuck.

Now Reading: Providence

Providence is the latest (and possibly last, we’ll see) story from comic book guru Alan Moore. To put it simply, it’s a Cthulhu story that dives into the origins of the various mythologies of Cthulhu, The Necronomicon, and many other H.P. Lovecraft tales. Before getting into it further though, it’s probably important to point out that Moore’s Neonomicon should really be read first.

Neonomicon deals with somewhat the same subject matter, but it takes place in the present day and is a good deal more graphic and rapey than Providence (can’t have an Alan Moore comic without some rape, unfortunately). It introduces several key characters, that while not present for most of Providence, are still important to the end of the whole thing. There are also several locations and concepts introduced here that get re-visited and explained more thoroughly in Providence, so while I suppose you could technically read one without the other, I really wouldn’t advise it.

Anyway, Providence itself jumps back to the early 1900’s and digs deeply into the origins of the “Cthulu-verse”. Where Neonomicon was more overt in it’s horror, Providence moves at much slower, more atmospheric pace. Ex-reporter Robert Black finds himself travelling across America, searching for the secret places behind the curtains and finding much more than he bargains for. His quest begins to take him on a tour of the origins of a mysterious secret society who sprung from the teachings of a certain mysterious book, and he finds himself in some very strange situations, which he tries his hardest to be in complete denial about until it’s too late.

This approach of keeping the protagonist perpetually in the dark, while the audience clearly sees all the hidden evils lurking right behind them, doesn’t always work, but Moore pulls it off with his usual mastery of the art, turning each location that Black visits into an intricate tapestry of tension and terror. As usual with a Moore story, the design and detail of everything going on is staggering. Extremely meticulous amounts of research went into crafting this world and much thought and care was clearly put into each and every word spoken here. Everything is connected and filled with multiple meanings.

Even the title, Providence, is a clever little package of information. Providence is not only the name of Black’s ultimate destination, the town in which H.P. Lovecraft grew up and wrote his many stories, but it also literally means “the protective care of God or of nature as a spiritual power” and “timely preparation for future eventualities”, which are both highly relevant to what’s really going on in this story and also very interestingly used here, as for some reason, the word providence tends to be used in an inherently positive context, with an assumption that the being behind it has benevolent intentions, but nothing about the word or its definitions ever actually specify a moral stance.

So if you have any interest in Cthulhu/Lovecraftian horror, the patience for what is an extremely dense read for a comic book, and the stomach for some occasionally very disturbing content, check this out. I hope that it’s not really the last comic Alan Moore ever writes, as he has recently claimed, but at least if it is, he sure as hell went out on a high note. Now I guess I’ll be re-reading Alan Moore stuff again for the next month…

A Quick Byte: The Fall

A MOST AGREEABLE PASTIME

603874316Not to be confused with other “Fall” games, like Black: The Fall, or apparently another completely unrelated game also called The Fall, this particular The Fall is more of a point and click adventure…sort of. The Fall is the fascinating story of a mysterious person future soldier who has crash landed on a mysterious planet. Mystery person seems to be injured and unconscious, so their fancy advanced battle suit’s AI takes over and begins its quest to find medical attention for its wounded user. The AI has full motor control over the suit, along with many other functions, though most of these are locked and/or damaged, to be opened again through future actions.

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For the most part, this all plays out in the form of what is mostly reminiscent of a point and click adventure, though it controls like a side-scrolling action game and features some very rudimentary combat…

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Watchin’ Stuff

TURTLES ON THE BRAIN! Man, I haven’t seen this in many, many years. It’s actually not a bad movie, surprisingly. Holds up a lot better than many other cartoon/video game live action movies of the 80’s. The turtle costumes were surprisingly good looking for the time too. It’s still completely ridiculous, but still much less cheesy than the awful cartoon. Fun fact: a big portion of the story in this movie was actually taken directly from the original comics for some reason. If you haven’t read the original comics, they were muuuuuuch more dark and violent than the popular cartoon versions. They were actually quite good, but that’s a tale for another time…

Secret of the Ooze was…not quite as good. It starts trying to be more similar to the cartoons and is full of horribly cheesy nonsense and weird, goofy action sound effects. It was actually still pretty amusing though, despite it being so campy and nonsensical. Really, this is one fucked up production. There are some massive continuity issues going on here that I guess our dumb child minds never noticed somehow. For instance, the turtles go attack the Foot Clan‘s base near the end, the base looks to be some kind of abandoned warehouse. A fight ensues and the turtles are thrown through the door of the warehouse. They are now suddenly in the middle of a loud Vanilla Ice concert in-progress, which you couldn’t hear at all before, naturally. The whole infamous Ninja Rap scene takes place and ends with Shredder being thrown out of a window. The turtles follow him out the window and now we’re suddenly on some docks. What the fuck. I suppose it’s a credit to the editors’ skills that most people didn’t seem to notice how strange this all was.

I’d never seen this one before, it having come out when the turtle craze back in the day was already in the late stages of dying down. This movie is about April O’Neil buying an ancient Japanese time travel artifact at a flea market. I am dead serious. She brings it as a gift to Splinter and it suddenly makes her switch places with a Japanese prince in the 1500’s, and also they switch clothes, but she keeps her jewelry and walkman because why not. So the turtles have to go back in time and rescue her and then she pretty much spends the rest of the movie whining about how they aren’t rescuing her properly and are taking too long to get them all back home, even though it’s entirely her fault that they’re all there in the first place. Again, it’s incredibly cheesy and dumb, but it still made me laugh. Easily the worst of the 3 movies, but I enjoyed it in that guilty pleasure kind of way (the vodka probably helped too).

Another Child’s Play movie you say? This one is the 7th in the series. Usually once a horror series like this gets up into numbers this high things start getting really, really bad until the series crashes and burns into obscurity (at least until someone decides to reboot it again in the future), so I wasn’t expecting much from this at all. I was very surprised to find that it was actually pretty damn good. I don’t want to give it away, but there is a new spin put on the old formula of Chucky, the murderous doll, one that brings some really interesting twists to the story and opens the door for a lot of possibilities for the future of the franchise. It actually had a really cool story that made me more excited for this series than I’ve been since I was a little kid watching the first two movies. I guess the only downside is that not much is resolved in the end. It has that “this is almost all just setup for another sequel or sequels” feeling to it, and I was a little sad to see it end so soon, right when it was getting really good. This could be great if they pick right up where this left off though, as this one really shows a lot of potential and proves that Chucky still has some life left in him after all.

So this is the story of a woman whose husband takes her out to the country for some wacky bondage/rape fantasies to revive their dying marriage, who then keels over and dies almost immediately, leaving her trapped and trying to figure out how the hell she’s going to survive. This really doesn’t sound like my idea of a good time at all. This doesn’t seem like something that would be particularly pleasant to watch for 90+ minutes, but it’s based on a Stephen King story and directed by Mike Flanagan, so I thought I should give it a chance. I give Flanagan credit for a great effort, but in the end it just didn’t work for me. To be fair, everything I had problems with was apparently part of the original story, so I can’t fault Flanagan for that, but this was a story that really could have used a few changes. It’s hard enough to find enjoyment in watching the slow decline of this woman as she sits there having conversations with hallucinations and having miserable flashbacks about her horrible dead husband and her childhood sexual abuse, because this stuff bothers me a lot more than watching Chucky graphically put a power drill through someone’s eye for some reason, but there were so many bad contrivances required for this to all play out too.

For instance, she’s menaced by a hungry wild dog for most of the movie. How did this hungry wild dog get in the bedroom of the house? Why, because they left the front door wide fucking open when they went to start their kinky sex session, and I don’t mean one of those things where some random accident caused the door to be open without their knowledge. They go out and give the dog (who is blatantly wild and dangerous looking) some food out in front of their house then turn around, go inside, leave the door wide open, and she even looks back and has a concerned look on her face when she notices that the door’s wide open, but then just shrugs it off and gets right to the handcuff sex. Who the fuck does that? Even if the dog wasn’t there, who the fuck does that? The worst part was the last 10-15 minutes though. I won’t give it away, but there is a very strange twist introduced in the end that just feels like it was tacked on to the story after the fact and doesn’t really feel like it fit with the rest at all, to me at least. I don’t know. I guess this is the first Mike Flanagan film that I just don’t really like, because I can’t imagine ever sitting through this one again.

This was apparently the sequel to the previous CG animated Starship Troopers movie, Invasion. I honestly can’t remember a thing about Invasion other than liking the animation. I imagine this will go down in history in much the same way. The story is ridiculous and generic. The characters strangely feel like they’re straight out of a bad anime, which I suppose isn’t too surprising given that it was directed by a pair of Japanese dudes with long histories of working on animes. It’s an absolutely mindless action movie with some decent effects, and that’s about all there is to say about it, for better or worse.

I don’t think this was anywhere near as bad as everyone’s saying. It wasn’t amazing, there were even a few brief moments where it awkwardly stumbled a bit, but it’s far from being outright bad. The obligatory “introduce everyone” first episode was a little slow and dry, but once the premise and characters were established, it all started growing on me in the second episode (of a double episode premiere). People seem to forget that Agents of SHIELD started the same way, with an average-at-best beginning that took a few episodes to find its footing, but it became amazing once it took off. Hopefully this can survive long enough to do the same, or at least long enough for them to do a fancy crossover between the two.

The Exorcist is back! A surprisingly good horror drama for being on a mainstream public channel. Too soon to say, but hopefully this season will be as good as the last one, though it seems that Father Tomas is already back to having issues with too much pride, something we thought was shaken out of his dumb ass in the first season. Looks like he’s going to foolishly get himself and others in trouble over it again. We’ll see.

Night of the Emus

Another excellent Sonic the Hedgehog game from olden times. Great music and level design. It does have its downsides though. Tails is pretty useless, unless you were trying to play that awful split screen co-op mode. He actually hurts more than he helps in the special stages. Boy, I forgot how ridiculously hard those levels got in this one. The final 2 special stages are just ridiculous, requiring you to get basically every single ring without taking a single hit or missing even part of a group of rings. You’d just have to keep playing these levels over and over again, trying to memorize everything and hoping that you got really lucky. Then for all your trouble getting all the chaos emeralds, you’re treated to two back-to-back extra hard boss fights where you have zero rings. Again, I have no idea how I used to be able to beat games like this as a kid.

An early Capcom game, Gunsmoke is a vertical-scrolling shooter with a cowboy theme. As usual with Capcom games, it has extremely catchy music, fun gameplay, and a high, but not impossible level of challenge. It’s not one of their “must play” titles, but it’s still a pretty solid classic that holds up reasonably well if you like this kind of game.

Even as a kid, I could never beat this one. I’ve always wanted to go back and finish it, but upon trying it again, I can see why I gave up back in the day. This is an incredibly sadistic game. It feels like they tried to mash Metal Gear and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles together, and it uses a system that’s kind of similar to the first Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles NES game, where you can switch between three characters at any time, but if any of them die, they’re gone forever. This is tough enough to manage as it is, but the game also loves to throw a lot of instant death moments your way on a regular basis. Attack the wrong person in a public area? Dead. Walking in public when suddenly a car comes shooting out of nowhere and mows you down? Dead. Trying to get through one of the nasty sewer dungeons and go the wrong way, prompting a wall to move, pushing you into the water with no way to escape? Dead. I couldn’t even tell what it was I was supposed to be doing. I don’t know, maybe I’ll try again someday with a guide or something, but I just didn’t have the patience for it this time.

Time enough for one more Turtles game. Again, why play the port when you can play original. Another classic Konami beat-em-up. All these Turtle games are making me want to read the old comics or watch the crappy old cartoon again. TURTLES ON THE BRAIN!