Our streams are back! Tonight, we stream some Fortnite. The Invasion season has been a terrific season. We’ve won plenty of matches this season. The stream is at 7 tonight on Twitch at robertfrowniejr.
I haven’t done a streamer’s journal in a bit. Last night, I streamed Fortnite for the first time in a few days. I didn’t stream as long as I wanted. However, I did have a great time. I started playing arena matches where the game gets competitive. I’m not good enough for competitive, though I did squeak out a top-5 finish. Be on the look out for more streamer’s journals.
The Summer of Spook
It has been a while since I last reviewed something. I had many more reviews planned for The Summer of Spook, but alas, life gets in the way sometimes. Hopefully, I can now begin reviewing some more films for The Summer of Spook. Today we look at 1982s The House on Sorority Row and the 2009 remake Sorority Row. Both movies have plenty of positives and negatives—the 2009 version has a bit more problems but is still fun. The House on Sorority Row is a classic and seminal slasher from the early 1980s. J.A. Kerswell has a very positive outlook on the original The House on Sorority Row and refers to it in his book The Slasher Movie Book as “one of the best slasher movies of the period,” and refers to it as, “exciting, suspenseful, and stylish” (Kerswell, 2012, #132). I can see where he is coming from in his assessment, particularly with the film’s ending, which is highlighted by a surrealist atmosphere that elevates the film’s climax.
Both films tell the story of girls in a sorority who commit a prank that ends in death and murder. In The House on Sorority Row, the prank is committed on the house mother, played by Lois Kelso Hunt. In the remake Sorority Row, the prank is committed on their friend Megan’s boyfriend, but the prank goes horribly wrong, and Megan ends up dead by being impaled through the chest with a tire iron. The remake has the character wielding a signature bladed tire iron that, to me, is a pretty unique slasher weapon, but the original has a much better pace and atmosphere. In The House on Sorority Row, the killings begin the same day that the house mother is accidentally murdered, while in the remake, the killings start a year later as the characters try and keep the secret of Megan’s death from getting out. Having the characters have to deal with the accidental death at the very moment creates a much more tense and thrilling atmosphere. The characters in both movies act incredibly selfish, except for the Final Girls from each movie wanting to call for help from the police or an ambulance. No one other than the Final Girls want to get help, afraid of the negative repercussions that their misguided prank and unintentional murders will lead to.
While I don’t have as much positive to say about the characters in these movies I do enjoy the performances from the lead character, Katherine (played by Kate McNeil), in the original and the performance by Leah Pipes in the remake, she plays the bitchy character, Jessica. I enjoy these performances for entirely different purposes. Kate McNeil does an excellent job—particularly in the final act—of relating the terror of the situation to the audience. One of the best scenes in the movie features a character hiding in a jester outfit in the attic where she is hiding. Kate McNeil does an excellent job expressing terror as she realizes that the costume is occupied. It is an effectively creepy and terrifying scene that increased my enjoyment of an already entertaining slasher movie. Leah Pipes does not get praised for the same thing; instead, her performance as Jessica is memorable because of how bitchy and selfish she plays the role. She ranks up there with Melissa from Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood as one of the best bitchy characters in a slasher movie. No matter how selfish or vile she may come across she is always a joy to watch on screen and Leah Pipes steals the movie. We get a brief appearance from Carrie Fisher in the remake as the house mother but unfortunately, she isn’t given much to do; however, she does get a pretty decent scene where she fights the killer—I feel it’s important to note whenever the great Carrie Fisher was on screen.
Both movies feature boring twists but for different reasons. I’m not sure if the original is supposed to be a twist since it is telegraphed from the beginning, but the movie frames it in a way that is supposed to be shocking. The killer’s reveal in the remake is boring, and the motive behind the kills is rather lame and uninspired. Both films are entertaining but I think I give the edge to the original The House on Sorority Row even though the remake features the amazing bitchy Jessica. The remake has much gorier kills, most of which are well done, but the original has a unique atmosphere and remarkably uses colors and lighting to enhance the horrific atmosphere. Also, the original has a legitimately terrifying scene with the killer hiding in a jester costume. All in all, I think both are enjoyable flicks to watch on a hot summer night inside the AC.
The House on Sorority Row Rating 3.5/5
Sorority Row Rating 2/5
Kerswell, J.A. (2012). The Slasher Movie. Chicago Review Press.
I enjoyed our first spooky stream of the Summer of Spooks. I feel that it was a success. I had people chatting and interacting with the stream. Thimbleweed Park is such a great mystery game with elements of puzzles and comedy. I can’t wait to return to this game to see where the story goes. I will have more weird, horror games upcoming for the Summer of Spooks.
The Summer of Spook
An old Klingon proverb says “Revenge is a dish best served cold.” In Park Chan-wook’s Oldboy, released in 2003, Oh Dae-su (played by Choi Min-sik), a man who has been imprisoned for fifteen years by an unknown person, goes to a sushi restaurant and asks to eat something alive. He has a conversation with the chef, Mi-do (played by Kang Hye-jung), about how the best sushi is made with cold hands. He then proceeds to shove a live squid in his mouth and bites the head off. Its tentacles wrap around his face, but he ignores this and keeps eating. Oh Dae-su’s imprisonment has changed him; he goes from being a man who talks too much to someone cold and seeking violence. He wants to be served something cold and alive.
I Saw the Devil, released in 2010 and directed by Kim Jee-woon, explores revenge similarly, although it engages with the horror genre much more directly. After losing his fiancee to a demented serial killer, Jang Kyung-chul (played by Choi Min-sik), Special Agent Kim Soo-hyun (played by Lee Byung-hun) begins routinely torturing the serial killer to get his revenge. As he executes this process the characters and the audience start wondering if Kim Soo-hyun is losing his soul and becoming a monster. Both Oldboy and I Saw the Devil feature the antagonist calling the protagonist a monster, or mention how they created a monster. This concept of monster creation has been present in horror fiction since the beginning. Books like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein deal with the literal creation of a monster; whereas, Oldboy and I Saw the Devil use the monster creation as a metaphor.
Neither one of these movies is for the faint of heart, and both feature traumatic endings (which I will not spoil here. Seriously, watch these movies). They deal with the subject of revenge in a dark and nuanced way. How much would someone be willing to lose for revenge? Both films explore the cyclical cycle of revenge and violence and how once someone starts getting vengeance, everything resets, and bloodlust and revenge reemerge. Western movies–I talking regionally not the genre–such as Death Wish, released in 1974 and remade in 2018, along with its subsequent sequels, and John Wick use the revenge narrative as a vehicle for an action film. I’m not saying this is a bad thing. John Wick is one of my all-time favorite action films, but what I Saw the Devil and Oldboy offer is much more poignant and shows just how much is sacrificed in the name of revenge. Also, even though Oldboy and I Saw the Devil use the revenge narrative in a much more visceral and intense way they are still very satisfying action movies with Oldboy featuring one of the most well executed fight scenes of all-time.
Both I Saw the Devil and Oldboy also bridge the horror genre, which is why I’m looking at them under The Summer of Spook banner. I Saw the Devil engages with the horror genre in a much more direct way, some moments reminded me of films like Silence of the Lambs, and I should add that Choi Min-sik gives a performance in I Saw the Devil that is equal to the intensity and power of Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lecter. I classify Oldboy as bridging the horror genre only because some revelations and moments are horrific to watch; the film is much more in line with the thriller or neo-noir genre. These are two excellent films that explore the theme of revenge intensely and profoundly, making the audience question the morality of vengeance and violence.
Both Movies Receive 5/5
Throughout the Summer of Spooks, we will do streams that feature games that have elements of horror and mystery. This is our first stream for our spooky event. The game we are featuring today is Thimbleweed Park. The game is a murder mystery that has a great sense of humor. Stream starts at 3:15 p.m. central time on Twitch at robertfrowniejr.
This will be episode 3 of Ghost of Tsushima. I’m trying to wrap up act 1 of the story, while grinding mythic tales and tales of Tsushima. I’m enjoying the mythic tales the most. They seem so ethereal and otherworldly. The stream starts by 9:10 a.m. central time.
The Summer of Spook Review #3
People fear death and the afterlife. They fear the punishment that they will receive for their sins and misdeeds. Films have explored death, the afterlife, demons, Satan, and Hell, but none have explored it with the same emotional and psychological horror present in Nobuo Nakagawa’s Jigoku. Jigoku doesn’t position the demons or devils of Hell as the tormentors but instead has the people in Hell tortured through their own guilt. The tormentors of Hell do torture and harm the people who have descended into Hell, but the movie shows people as their own tormentors plagued by guilt, and that manifests into torture and horrific bodily harm.
Jigoku tells the story of a young man named Shiro (Shigeru Amachi). Shiro is a theology student that is well-liked by his professor. He has recently gotten engaged to his professor’s daughter, his fiancee is possibly pregnant with their child, and everyone seems to think he has a bright future ahead of him, but Shiro is tormented by a hit and run that he and his friend Tamura (Yoichi Numata) committed one evening that left a man dead. Tamura is much more cold and lackadaisical about the manslaughter, but Shiro is haunted by guilt. It isn’t long before more tragedy begins to befall Shiro. His fiancee dies, and their unborn child dies in the process, his mother becomes mortally ill, he discovers that his father is an uncaring and philanderous man who refuses to aid his ailing wife, and the lover and mother of the man killed hunt Shiro wanting revenge. Nakagawa’s presentation of this material is quite dreamlike–nightmarish probably makes more sense–and surreal. The character of Tamura is unlike any other in the film, and his presence in the film adds to the surreal quality that persists throughout the entirety of the film. Tamura’s actor, Yoichi Numata, even expressed his confusion in the role and was unsure how exactly to play him. He comes across as devilish, and I was waiting for the film to reveal that he was tormenting Shiro as a ghost or Prince of Hell, but instead, he ends up in Hell tormented for his multitude of sins.
Jigoku is an incredibly cynical film. There is no sign of hope or paradise anywhere to be found. The only redemption that anyone can receive comes in the form of endless torment in the depths of Hell. Nakagawa never dangles an ounce of hope in front of your face. From the start of the film, you know that it ends in Hell and torment. The end did leave me questioning whether or not Shiro had gained some form of redemption. In the end, Shiro’s lover and sister beckon him from afar, and where they are standing looks nothing like the Hell that he has just gone through, but having watched the movie I feel that the end may be a trick and a false sense of hope to lure the audience into believing that is some form of a happy ending. Ichiro Miyagawa joked about Heaven being in the sequel, but that was only a joke.
Jigoku is an emotionally taxing movie. The literal and figurative Hell that Shiro goes through is devastating and horrific to watch. Jigoku is a nightmarish portrayal of guilt and Hell. It is probably one of the most terrifying portrayals of Hell I have seen put to film. It is a masterpiece of horror cinema and an essential entry into the genre that shouldn’t be overlooked, but prepare to be tormented by the psychological, emotional, and violent horror present on the screen.
I am featuring Riki-Oh on the Summer of Spooks because it is a gruesome anime OVA. It is violent and it doesn’t hold back with its brutality. Riki-Oh began as a manga series that ran from 1987 to 1990. The manga series spawned two anime OVAs as well as a live-action film that released in 1991. Originally, my intention was to review the live-action film that’s titled, Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky. The film is a cult classic that’s not available anywhere. Prime Video, Crackle, and Shudder advertise that they have the film on their sites. After checking, the film is unavailable. The film is on YouTube, but the quality is poor. For now, I’m going to review the two OVAS until I can get a copy of the live-action film. I’m going to review The Wall of Hell (first OVA) today and save The Child of Destruction (second OVA) for a later date. These OVAs are available on YouTube with good quality.
The first OVA is directed by Satoshi Dezaki. The short film begins in a post-apocalyptic Japan that has been ravaged by warfare and global warming. We are introduced to Riki-Oh, who seems to be a homeless lone wolf. A car filled with yakuza members are driving down a road, then Riki-Oh absolutely destroys them with his fists. He literally punches a guy’s jaw off and we are able to see this grotesque feat. As we see later on, Riki-Oh intentionally killed these yakuza members in order to get sent to this prison facility. The prison facility is ran by corrupt leaders who secretly run an opium farm for profit. The leaders have certain prisoners who run their own section of the jail. The leaders and evil prisoners try to prevent Riki-Oh from getting his revenge on the chairman of the prison. However, they are not able to stop Riki-Oh and his superhuman abilities.
This OVA is not for the faint of heart. Riki-Oh destroys these vile prisoners with absolute ease and gory kill sequences. He literally punches a man so hard that the man’s guts explode out of his stomach. I feel like this anime perhaps inspired Mortal Kombat and One-Punch Man. Its influence is clearly felt in the subjects that I mentioned above. There are also very innocent people in this story that meet a doom that they don’t deserve. One of them is a child, so be prepared for how twisted this story is.
The anime short does give Riki-Oh an interesting story arc that makes him this mysterious character similar to Ryan Gosling’s character in Drive or Clint Eastwood’s character in High Plains Drifter. The story clearly explains why Riki-Oh is at the prison. He’s there for revenge. However, the mystery is what Riki-Oh was up to for two years. He was a star student and a brilliant musician. Before college entrance exams, he falls off the face of the earth, then pops up at the prison. The mystery is up for interpretation for viewers. It feels as if Riki-Oh has become this being of vengeance, who’s looking to cleanse the evil in the streets of Japan.
To conclude, Riki-Oh: The Wall of Hell is a brief, yet entertaining anime story. I can’t wait to watch the second OVA to see Riki-Oh’s story continued. I recommend the OVA for martial arts fans and fighting game fans. If you like gore too, check this out.
Overall rating: 3.5/5.
We have written 200 posts on the Number One Archives! What a feat. It’s hard to believe that we’ve been around that long. Thanks for all the people that stop by and check our posts out. It means a lot. Thanks to all of you!