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Gaming indie games

Spooktober Games #8: The Forest (Release Date: 2018)

Endnight Games Ltd’s The Forest is a game where players have to survive in a mysterious forest against cannibalistic mutants. Players explore the forest, find materials to build objects, and fight off the mutants. The game features a time system where players will play during the day and at night. Players are able to gather items during the day to build a fortress to halt mutants. At night, players fend off the hungry mutants, who will attack players’ buildings. Stealth is a way to attack the mutants or players can attack head-on with their own crafted weaponry. The game is on Playstation 4 and Microsoft Windows.

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Movies Spooktober

Crimson Peak Review

Cover of the Arrow Blu-Ray Release

Crimson Peak, directed by Guillermo del Toro and released in 2015, is a gothic horror tale about a girl falling in love with a boy and moving into his castle with him. Now, while that may sound like a fairy tale, the events leading up to her moving and the events preceding are quite horrific. Mia Wasikowska plays Edith Cushing, the girl mentioned above, an aspiring author who falls for the dashing baronet Thomas Sharpe, played by Tom Hiddleston. After the death of her father Edith agrees to move to Allerdale Hall, the mansion that Thomas Sharpe lives in with his sister Lucille, played by Jessica Chastain. Lucille is a gloomy and despondent woman who seems to be hiding something, along with her brother.

The performances from Tom Hiddleston and Jessica Chastain are excellent, with Jessica Chastain being an absolute standout. Mia Wasikowska is good in her role, but unfortunately, her character spends the majority of the movie in a passive role with decisions being made for her rather than making decisions for herself. While this may seem like a criticism, and to be fair it is a little bit, I think it is interesting what Del Toro does with her character in the latter part of the film. While she is passive for the majority of the first half she begins becoming more active, making things happen for herself, in the second half of the movie. I find this interesting that this change comes in her character not long after she says, “Characters talk to you and transform; they make choices,” whether this was intentional on Del Toro’s part I’m not sure, but never the less it is interesting and I believe of note.

The real star of this movie is the house, Allerdale Hall, also known as Crimson Peak. The house is an entity; a dead and rotting corpse with bleeding walls. The production design done by Tom Sanders is absolutely breathtaking; I don’t think I have ever wanted to live in a broken-down house more in my life. The ghosts that inhabit the movie are also quite extraordinary. Created with a mixture of practical effects and CGI the ghosts have an eerie atmosphere about them and it is hard for the audience to fully understand their purpose and motive until the end of the film.

Crimson Peak is an excellent gothic horror that features elements of mystery, romance, and fairy tales. Guillermo Del Toro’s movie are hard to place in a box even though on the surface they appear to be simple genre films. This is definitely a movie worth checking out if you are a fan of romantic gothic horror.

Rating 4.5/5

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Movies Spooktober

Classic Slasher Review: The Slumber Party Massacre

The Slumber Party Massacre, released in 1982, is a slasher movie written by author and feminist Rita Mae Brown and directed by Amy Holden Jones. On the surface it looks like a typical Roger Corman produced slasher flick; it includes slightly gory kills and copious amounts of gratuitous nudity, but there is more to this slasher than what we get on the surface.

The movie follows four friends, Trish, Kim, Jackie, and Diane, who are spending their night having a slumber party, and two sisters, Valerie and Courtney. Valerie is a new girl at school who lives next door to Trish. She is invited to Trish’s slumber party but opts out because she overhears Diane bad mouthing her in the school locker room. This all acts as a set-up for the killer to attack. The killer, Russ Thorn, played by actor Michael Villella, is sufficiently creepy as the near-silent slasher who without motivation begins killing these poor girls off.

What makes this movie refreshing, despite its cliched plot, are the characters who populate the film. They make stupid decisions but personality-wise they all seem like real teenagers dealing with issues of sexuality and who scored the runs in last night’s baseball game. Amy Holden Jones has spoken about how the movie is a metaphor for a female losing her virginity, and that is obvious in a scene where one of the girls sits helpless in front of the killer as he uses his phallic-like drill to kill her. The scene is even framed with the drill bit between his legs symbolizing this. The movie is often not subtle about this symbolism but that is works to the movie’s advantage steering it away from being a typical slasher and elevating it to something new and original. The ending, without giving to much away, is also something of note showing the surviving girls traumatized by the horror they have experienced.

This is an excellent early 80s slasher that was way ahead of its time. It offers an interesting deconstruction of slasher movie characters and tropes. If you are looking for a fun, cheap, and unique slasher film definitely check this movie out.

Rating 3.5/5

Categories
Comics

Spooktober Games #6: SOMA (Release Date: 2015)

Are you looking for a horror game that takes place underneath the sea? SOMA is the game that you’re looking for. Frictional Games, the creators of Amnesia: The Dark Descent, submerge players into the watery depths of the ocean where you struggle to survive, while discovering what it means to be human. Players are inside the underwater facility PATHOS-II where they must uncover the truth of why the facility has been isolated. There are different types of enemies that players must combat, such as corrupted humans, twisted creatures, insane robots, and an inscrutable omnipresent A.I. Gamers take on these creatures and work on trying to find the remaining inhabitants of the facility. Pick up SOMA on PS4, Xbox One, OS X, Microsoft Windows, and Linux.

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Batman Comics DC Comics

Halloween Rewind–Batman: Gotham After Midnight #3

Writer: Steve Niles. Artist: Kelley Jones.

It has been a while since we had the chance to talk about Batman: Gotham After Midnight! The saga continues as the citizens of Gotham are running scared as they learn about a new villain rising in the city. Steve Niles does a fantastic job portraying a sense of urgency within Batman. Midnight, the book’s villain, is menacing to victims, while being motivating to Batman’s rogues gallery. Niles provides Midnight with the same charisma that Joker has. Midnight persuaded Scarecrow and Man-Bat previously to help in his/her violent mission. I said his/her because Midnight’s gender is unidentified. Midnight adds Clayface in this issue to the mix to assist.

Readers get their first look at Midnight’s face in the comic. It is a ghastly sight due to Kelley Jones’ huge, one-splash page of a bony, gaunt face. It’s revealed that Midnight uses a speaker attached to the throat in order to speak. Clayface learns from Midnight that he can absorb bodies and become a gigantic, building-sized monster. Niles and Jones make Clayface into a monster that is reminiscent of classic monster movies, such as Godzilla. Clayface gets colossal size and starts to terrorize the city of Gotham. Batman appears in a mammoth-sized robot to combat Clayface–setting up for a massive showdown for the next issue.

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Movies Spooktober streaming

WNUF Halloween Special Review

The WNUF Halloween Special is a great retro throwback to older local tv specials. Set in 1987 at the height of Satanic panic and the war on drugs, this movie parodies the state of local news during that time. What helps make this movie so authentic is the way it is filmed and shot. Shot on old VHS stock this movie looks like a worn VHS tape that has been sitting on your shelf for too long.

The main portion of the movie is a local TV special exploring the mythical Amityville-like house where a boy named Donald Webber murdered and mutilated his family’s body. Webber apparently claimed to be possessed by demonic spirits. We follow Frank Stewart, a local news reporter, a husband and wife duo, Louis and Claire Berger, who along with their alleged clairvoyant cat Shadow investigate paranormal incidents; the cast is rounded out with a priest, Father Joseph Matheson, and Frank’s producer Veronica.

Preceding the special is a local WNUF newscast that features stories about a dentist offering $1 deals to kids to bring in their candy and prevent cavities, political rivals going at it, a cheesy weather report, and a report about a local Christian organization who wants to ban Halloween for being demonic. This helps add to the authenticity of the special by creating believably old local newscasts.

The big highlight of this movie is the wonderfully authentic commercials. We get political attack ads, law office ads, an advertisement for a store that sells rugs and carpet, tv show commercials which include shows such as Chicago Lightning, and my personal favorite ad for a breakfast buffet strip club.

This movie is an excellent throwback to old tv specials and is a great movie to watch for the Halloween season-I know it is now required viewing for me. I would highly recommend this movie. Check it out on Shudder.

Rating 5/5

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Gaming indie games Spooktober

Spooktober Games #5: Outlast (Release Date: 2013)

Outlast is a survival horror game by developer Red Barrels. Gamers play as investigative journalist Miles Upshur, who is exploring Mount Massive Asylum. The goal is to survive in the asylum long enough to discover the location’s horrible secret. The game is in first-person, which provides for a terrifying experience. Players don’t have weapons to use. They either have to hide or run to escape the asylum. Red Barrels incorporates enemies that are intelligent and attack at any time. Outlast draws inspiration from actual asylums. Villains in the game are based on actual patients. Outlast will take gamers on a scary experience that they won’t forget. Outlast is available on Steam, PS4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Microsoft Windows, Linux, and classic Mac OS.

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Movies Spooktober

The Mortuary Collection Review

“Dark, twisted, and awesome,” that is the kind of tale that Sam, played by newcomer Caitlin Custer, asks from Montgomery Dark, the old decrepit undertaker who works at Raven’s End Mortuary, played excellently by veteran actor Clancy Brown. The movie is set in the fictional Lovecraftian and Stephen King-esque town of Raven’s End, that is where the mortuary gets its name. Raven’s End is a gothic coastal town and from the looks of it houses many haunted and spooky tales. There is a meta aspect to this movie; the young Sam constantly critiques and nitpicks the stories that Dark tells her. She works here as the audience surrogate picking apart the familiar morality fables that we tend to see in many anthology films. I feel like the best way to rate this movie is to review each tale and use that as a way to talk about the frame story.

Tale 1: 2.5/5

The first tale shows a woman going into a bathroom while at a party. While in there we see that she has pickpocketed some of the men at the party. She gets curious about what is behind a locked medicine cabinet and gets more than she bargains for when the cabinet is open and finds a squid-like monster lurking behind. This a short and brisk tale to set up the movie. It is a tale about the evils of theft and the repercussion. The tale serves as an entry point into the meta-commentary of the movie. Sam breaks apart the story, critiquing it and wanting more from Dark’s tale.

Tale 2: 4/5

This tale offers more of what Sam wants from the undertaker; this story is the tale of a young man who likes to manipulate and play women so they will sleep with him. He pretends to be interested in social justice and feminism but uses that to exploit and take advantage of the young freshmen at the college he attends. While giving one of his lectures Jake, the male student, meets a beautiful girl named Sandra. Later on, they meet up at a party at his frat house and proceed to bang the night away. I don’t want to give away too much of each story twist but needless to say Jake is the “victim,” experiencing what it feels like to be taken advantage of and left behind. The story offers some substance in the form of body horror and gore, both of which are incredibly effective, and the actors here, especially Jacob Elordi who plays the manipulative and ultimate victim Jake, do an excellent job. Sam is still “glib,” as Mr. Dark puts it, about this tale to arguing that its predictability drags it down.

Tale 3: 3/5

This tale is far more depressing than the preceding two. Here we see a man, Wendell, taking care of his ill and catatonic wife, Carol; he is plagued by mounting bills and the stress of taking care of someone who seemingly will never get better. He is offered an easy way out by a doctor who gives him some untraceable pills that will put his wife to “sleep.” This story has some excellent shots, the beginning of the story starts with a dream from Wendell in which he is remembering his marriage to his ill wife. It starts sunny and blissful until he has to say “til death do us part” and then the sky turns dark and the lights in the church go out, in place of his wife is a ghostly apparition. This story isn’t nearly as short as the first or as fun as the second story but it has the most substance to its narrative. You truly feel bad for Wendell’s plight and the struggles he is going through. It is horrific due to some of its visuals as well as the narrative content of losing a loved one.

Tale 4 and Frame story: The Babysitter Murders 5/5

This is by far the best story in the movie. It involves Sam, the critical and inquisitive girl who claims she is seeking employment from Montgomery Dark. This time she gets to tell the story and it offers a new twist on an old formula, the slasher movie. We get a babysitter and an escaped mental patient from the local asylum, but the story is new and offers up new blood for the genre. That takes us back to the frame story of the movie. I waited to mention it until now because it wraps everything up like it is supposed to. Honestly, some of the stories are a bit lackluster in this movie but the frame story helps make up for it because of the meta-commentary that Sam is giving. The Babysitter Murder’s tale seems to bring up the idea that Dark’s stories are old and predictable and Sam’s story is fresh and new. This meta take helps elevate the lackluster nature of some of the other stories because it directly fuels the main story of the movie, which comes from the interactions between Sam and Montgomery Dark. I also want to take special note of the soundtrack in this story that draws influence from John Carpenter’s scores from the 80s.

Conclusion:

This is an excellent meta anthology film that offers up some fun and violent stories that aim to deconstruct the predictable nature of horror films and morality tales. I would highly recommend this movie to fans of anthology films and horror films in general. It is a fun take with some excellent performances and a wonderful score from Mondo Boys. “Dark, twisted, and awesome,” that is what Sam asks for and that is what the movie gives.

Rating: 4/5

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Gaming indie games Spooktober

Spooktober Games #2: Thimbleweed Park (2017)

Number One Archives is back with another game for Spooktober! Thimbleweed Park is a mystery/puzzle game by Terrible Toybox. There’s a dead body in the forgotten town of Thimbleweed Park, which is the least of your problems. Players control five different characters who have nothing in common, but they are all connected. The game feels like an episode of Twin Peaks with humor that will keep gamers entertained. Players get to walk to creepy locations such as an abandoned circus and a haunted hotel. The locations are important to the characters as the town is a secret waiting to be discovered. Put on your detective cap and get to solving these mysteries!

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Spooktober

Sorry For No Posts Last Week!

I was busy with work and graduate assignments. I was stressed from the high volume of work that I had to do. The next post up will be game #2 for Spooktober Games! I can’t wait to introduce this next game.