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Bill: Adam Wingard, Ti West, and Eli Roth are just a few of the names that are often lumped together and pointed to as the new wave of horror directors on review sites, and quite often in tones that infer they’re more savior than simple auteur. And to be honest, I somewhat agree with those who say such things. This fresh crop of directors have helped to usher in a new era in horror films. An era in which formulaic studio endeavors are losing box office receipts to smaller films with much better writing. A trend I hope continues to grow.

If I had to choose one of them as the standout for me, it would probably be Wingard. He doesn’t create anything revolutionary or genre defining, but he does create interesting characters which he then puts into situations that benefit from the amount of thought that goes into them. You’re Next is a perfect example of that skill. It’s not particularly original, nor is it particularly inventive with its mayhem (although there is a fantastic blender death). It is full of sly humor and populated with characters we don’t eventually come to view as just nameless victims.

After the Jump: piano wire: the chainsaw of the 21st Century Continue reading →

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Goodbye letterboxing! The PC version of The Evil Within has gotten an update that allows players to disable the top and bottom black bars in the game’s display. The patch also gives owners of “high-end PCs” the ability to toggle between 30 and 60 frames per second.

The letterboxing and frame limiting in The Evil Within has been controversial since PC players first discovered them. While some argued that the original presentation was more cinematic, others criticized the letterbox bars and low frame rate for interfering with visibility and response times during hectic sequences. There’s no word on if a similar patch will make it to console versions of the game.

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Destiny’s first DLC offered for money, The Dark Below, is coming on December 9th. The DLC is $20 on its own, or included as part of the $35 expansion pass. It will raise the level cap to 32, add more endgame gear, offers new multiplayer arenas, increase bounty slots by five, and buffs the story with missions that will send players back to the Moon.

Through three new story quests, The Will of Crota Strike, and the Crota’s End Raid, players will fight to uncover and eliminate The Hive’s forces and save humanity.

If you’re in the mood to celebrate Halloween in Destiny, you’re in luck. For a limited time, you can get spooky consumable cosmetic items like a Jack o’ Lantern headgear from the in-game postmaster. Trick or treat Ghost!

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Chris: Often in the last month, we’ve thrown out the term “slow burn” to describe a movie that works deliberately towards its scariest moments. It’s an effective technique, and one that informs some of the best pictures we’ve watched over the last few weeks. Unfortunately, often the slow burn ends up being a slow flash in the pan, or worse, a slow fizzle. All the work building to a great scare happens and then either we jump and move on and a movie’s given us all it’s got, or the scare doesn’t particularly pay off, and all that work goes for naught. The Last Will and Testament of Rosalind Leigh is more like a slow forest fire. It sets things up slowly and beautifully, with a craftsman’s precision. Then it pays off those bets, delivering scare after scare throughout a tremendous final section of the film.

After the jump, the soul lives on, long after death Continue reading →

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Beam me up, Scotty! The X-Wing and Tie Fighter games are now on GOG.com. The DRM-free digital download service announced that in partnership with Disney Interactive and Lucasfilm Games, GOG.com will be offering over twenty classic titles from the catalog. Star Wars: X-Wing Special Edition and Star Wars: TIE Fighter Special Edition are part of the first wave of releases. These two games include the original DOS builds as well as the Windows re-issues.

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reso1

Rob: What the hell is going on? That question ran through my mind countless times while watching Resolution, Justin Benson and Aaron Scott Moorhead’s 2012 experiment in indie meta-horror. What the hell is going on? It’s not necessarily a bad question to be asking as an audience member trying to piece things together and make sense of what’s going on. It’s fun being in the dark, especially when you’re sharing that experience with the main characters who also don’t understand the strange events happening all around. But how long can you sustain that? There’s a limit to patience and a thin line between intrigue and frustration. For better or worse, Resolution constantly had me walking that line, bouncing back and forth between intrigue and frustration. It never quite answered that question in a satisfying way. What the hell is going on?

After the jump, no, seriously. What the hell is going on? Continue reading →

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Big Huge Games has risen from the ashes! Take heart gamers. This isn’t just some zombie holding company resurrection that cynically repackages old franchises for mobile gaming. They’re going to make new games that repackage old franchises for mobile gaming. Longtime designers Brian Reynolds and Tim Train purchased the Big Huge Games company name back from the 38 Studios bankruptcy liquidation and has partnered up with Nexon to publish their brand new strategy title! Since they don’t actually own the Rise of Nations name, they’re calling this DomiNations. It’s a free-to-play strategy game that lets players start a civilization in the Stone Age and work their way through time to the Space Age. CEO Brian Reynolds is positive DomiNations builds on the good work he did back in the old days.

“We’re honored to continue the legacy of Big Huge Games, which we founded on the concept of making fun, beautiful and innovative gameplay experiences on mobile devices.”

DomiNations will launch on iOS and Android systems next year.

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boo_train

Ever since the Trains Vs Zombies DLC for Train Simulator taught people that the undead poses little threat to 20 tons of rolling stock, we’ve been looking forward to another ghoulish title that sets a locomotive against Halloween monsters. Trains Vs Sparkly Vampires, perhaps? The Count of Monster Disco dials back on the violence, and offers a more cartoony adventure. As the driver of the spooky steam engine “The Spirit of Halloween”, players will be tasked with delivering treats around Trainsylvania to help The Count throw a massive party.

You are the monstrous driver of a ghoulish steam train,
But will getting the supplies be a complete pain?
Capture the cobwebs and gather the snacks,

But beware…

The sight of the guests will make your bones CLICKETY-CLACK!

The Count of Monster Disco is available on Steam.

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BSS2

Chris: Berberian Sound Studio is an inverted horror movie. For the past month, we’ve seen again and again how the creative side–the cast and crew–affects a movie. Now we turn things inside out. Can the creative process of making a movie affect those who are working on it? Berberian Sound Studio says it definitely can, especially if the film is sufficiently filled with graphic images and depraved ideas. We’re shown a nebbish-like post production sound-mixing expert commissioned to work on such a film, and we watch it wreak havoc on his gentle sensibilities and mental health.

After the jump, I’d rather not get technical Continue reading →

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Chris: Here’s a movie with some terrific ideas on how to create some wonderfully effective scares. It also has a decent (if derivative) broad outline of what should be a very solid horror movie plot. Early on, this feels like it will be a very good film. People go missing, lights flicker ominously, a suburban bungalow filled with religious iconography is filmed with a creepy, stalking eye.

Then things go off the rails, and not in a scary way.

After the jump, the monster in the closet is the director Continue reading →

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, | Game reviews
BE_04

The beginning of Beyond Earth is all very exciting. I mean the very beginning before the beginning. Before the game has even started. Before I’ve even landed on the planet. I choose my faction first. I’ll be the Franco-Iberians, who earn free technologies every so often as their culture develops. For colonists, I naturally choose artists, who boost culture. Inside the spaceship with the colonists, I’ll carry the machinery that will give me a free worker for a headstart developing the landing area near my starting colony. As for the type of spacecraft, that’s a tough decision. I eventually go with a continental surveyor that shows me all the coastlines on the map. I find a certain comfort in knowing the exact shape of my new world. It’s what the artists would want.

In any other Civilization — in case it’s not clear from the full title of Civilization: Beyond Earth, this is absolutely a Civilization game, and more specifically a Civilization V game — I would have just chosen a faction. France. Rome. Polynesia. But Beyond Earth lets me build my ark/spaceship step-by-step. It gives me a multistep sense of agency in how the early stages will play out. It keeps me busy making choices before I’m even playing. That’s ultimately what Beyond Earth is all about. Making choices. Constant, unrelenting, obsequious, nagging choices that will come together to create something massive, slow, and tedious.

After the jump, a series of interesting decisions. Continue reading →

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Chris: The great triumph of this bravura bit of filmmaking from American horror auteur Ti West isn’t that he almost effortlessly creates a perfect facsimile of an early 1980s horror movie. Rather, it’s that by 20 minutes in we forget we’re watching a period piece and instead are completely invested in Samantha and the weird babysitting job she takes. What’s up with the creepy couple? Why are they offering so much money? What the heck is going on with the unseen “mother”? We’re so into the movie that we’ve forgotten that we’re not watching some great lost cable TV movie from back in the day.

After the jump, this one…she’s perfect. Continue reading →

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carl

After an achievement list leaked a few days ago, Rockstar has confirmed that a new version of Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas is coming on October 26th. The Xbox Originals digital download version of San Andreas has been removed and will be replaced with a revamped Games on Demand build. The new version will sport 720p resolution, an “enhanced” draw distance, and the all-important achievements for $14.99.

Although only the Xbox 360 version has been locked in, eagle-eyed folks have spotted developer work being done on Steam’s database for the game, which may indicate an enhanced PC version may soon follow. The new high-res Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas comes on the 10th anniversary of the game’s original launch.

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Chris: One of my favorite little throwaway scenes in Cabin in the Woods is one where a disembodied zombie appendage distracts a hired gunman long enough to allow our protagonists to render him senseless. No, that’s not the part I’m talking about, not yet. We then get this bit of inspired, silly dialogue: “Good work, zombie arm,” but that’s not the bit either, though also awesome. The part I’m talking about happens as our characters leave the incapacitated gunman. We see the disembodied arm and hand make its way onto the guy’s face, presumably to tear him apart as best it can…as zombie arms will do. It’s one of so many similarly clever and fun moments that exist at the periphery of this film that endear it to me so much.

After the jump, am I on speakerphone? Continue reading →

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