Features

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Grandy: Monster Movies have a rich history, being one of the major sub-genres of horror movies. It was monster movies that best captured my attention as a kid, and I’m glad we made sure to include at least one in the list that didn’t involve vampires or zombies (both subjects worth covering and covered, with excellent examples). Monster movies very frequently veer off into the weird, and they pluck at our imaginations in their own interesting ways (the evolution of this sort of thing would be Pacific Rim: a movie about giant monsters, giant robots, pro wrestling, and dragon slaying all rolled into one). From Godzilla to the xenomorph in Alien to the living nightmare that was John Carpenter’s version of The Thing, monster movies have embraced all shapes and sizes in their quest to scare and terrify us over the years, shapes and sizes great and small.

After the Jump, two guys, a girl, and a gas station in the middle of nowhere Continue reading →

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Chris: Being the new kid in the neighborhood is tough. Will there be many kids in your neighborhood? Will they play the same games as you? How long will it take before you fit in? Just before Halloween in the late 1970s when I was 12, my own family moved into a new subdivision across town. New school, new friends, new everything. I vividly remember my first afternoon there, meeting the neighbor kids over a game of kickball. It was the kind of halting and stumbling interaction you might expect, stressful for all parties.

After the jump, and all of that without the complication of being undead Continue reading →

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Chris: You’re standing in line to ride an infamously crazy rollercoaster, apprehension building with each little bit you shuffle forward. You ask your friends who’ve already ridden it, “It’s probably not as bad as everyone else makes it sound, right?” You get nothing of the assurance you’re looking for. “No, it’s definitely going to shake you up like crazy. But it’s totally worth it. Trust us.” And thus I hop into my first encounter with the graphic violence and ultra gore of the New French Extremity movement in cinema.

After the jump, buckle up Continue reading →

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Bill: Most ghostly tales employ themes of vengeance or just plain malevolence when trying to explain the reason for the hauntings that occur. Lake Mungo derives its impact almost entirely from its use of loss and grief as the source of any supernatural goings on. It’s a sad tale about the death of a loved one that just happens to have a ghostly twist.

After the Jump: Tragedy meets horror down the the lake Continue reading →

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Rob: Why not cut to the chase? I think The Orphanage is the best horror film of the past two decades. Maybe more. It has all the ingredients I personally love most in a horror movie including a haunted house, a disfigured child, and a deliciously gory close-up. Director Juan Antonio Bayona is clearly inspired by some of my personal favorites like Rosemary’s Baby and Poltergeist, probably the single most formative scary movie I saw in my impressionable youth.

I think this film is an absolute master-class in how to build tension and create fear. It’s a fascinating, intricate, and rewarding mystery. And it’s a deeply moving tragedy about a desperate mother and her lost, little boy. And it all starts with a childrens’ game.

After the jump, one, two, three, knock on the wall. Continue reading →

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Chris: Have you ever heard–rather than seen–a car accident happen? You’re outside and maybe a block away or more and you still pick up the sudden sound of a quick squeal of brakes and then there’s a sickening crunch. It’s hard to describe the sound of that impact. There’s a heaviness to it, a weight. You don’t just hear it, you feel it, even if it’s not close enough to be particularly loud. [REC] has a nerve-jangling scene early where sound plays a key role and it feels a lot like this. It puts us on notice that this movie is not going to be a slow burn.

After the jump, not your older brother’s found footage movie Continue reading →

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Bill: As far as I’m concerned, The Descent has two monsters: the blind, inbred cannibals that make up the active participants in the downfall of our heroines, and the claustrophobic spaces within which this struggle takes place. I just wish that there was more of the latter and less of the former.

After the jump: John becomes Juno and Ben becomes Beth Continue reading →

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Chris: Conceived, written, and created by a group of H. P. Lovecraft enthusiasts, this film aims to bring the pulp horror author’s best known short story to the screen for the first time in a faithful adaptation. It’s a tremendously creative and ambitious idea, given the additional twist of creating the movie in the style of a 1920s silent film, which (except for the digital video used for shooting) will use only technologies available to filmmakers of that era.

After the jump, great gimmick or worthwhile movie? Continue reading →

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Bill: The amount of exhausting labor that goes into haunting people in horror films is ridiculous. Hurling furniture across a room, tossing people around like sacks of laundry, waking up at 3am to pull the bed sheets off…seriously, that’s just too much damn work. If I were ever to become a ghost, I assure you that I would do the absolute minimum to qualify as such. If the phone was left near the couch, you might see it float in the air for a second or two before dropping to the floor when I realized South Park was back on; or you might find your bookmarks moved to different pages in a book every now and again. But good lord, expecting me to float alongside a car going over 60 mph on a highway is a level of commitment I’m just not prepared for. So the ghost in Shutter does get my grudging respect for not being as lazy as I am.

After the Jump: I just wish it starred in a better film Continue reading →

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, | Features
Zeus

[Editor's note: Every two weeks, we'll pick a classic game to play and discuss. Then the choice of the next game will be made by a randomly selected participant from the current discussion. It's like a book club, but with videogames. We'd love to have you join us. Register for the forums and hop into the discussion! This week's choice, by DireAussie, is Zeus, Impression's city builder set in Ancient Greece in which the gods walk among us.]

My first and second picks were Fantasy General and Warlords 3. Unfortunately, they’re not available anywhere. It is a little too soon for the likes of Civilization 1 and Planescape Torment since we’ve recently played those two genres in the Classic Game Club. They’re also true classics, so many in the club have probably already played them. Looking back on past choices, nobody’s picked any city builders yet. And there are so few of them on the market these days, but quite a few old ones to choose from. I have my genre!

Why Zeus? I wanted to pick something I’ve never played before. Sorry, Tropico and SimCity, you’re both out. It came down to Pharaoh, Caesar 3, or Zeus. We already have more modern builders for Egypt (Children of the Nile) and Rome (Caesar 4), both of which are fine games. Zeus is the last in the Impressions Games series and presumably the most well-refined. It also has great reviews on Good Old Games, so Zeus it is!

I’ve started playing through the tutorial already. Being a fan of the Tilted Mill builders (after Impressions closed, many of its employees formed Tilted Mill), I’m already feeling quite at home with the mechanics. I’m hoping to start on one of the adventures soon.

You can get Zeus from Good Old Games here. A community widescreen patch is here.

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Chris: A Tale Of Two Sisters is a movie about lies and deceit. It is about a dark and terrible secret two people share but dare not speak of, even to each other. We know that something terrible has happened to this family in the past, and seems to be happening to it in the present. That all this is happening inside a haunted country manor house only adds to the tension.

After the jump, ghosts always do complicate a reconciliation Continue reading →

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28days

Chris: I’ve found that folks love to talk about 28 Days Later and its sequel, 28 Weeks Later. That makes sense. Those two movies played a large part in helping put put zombie culture at the forefront of 21st century horror. They helped lever zombie everything into our current cultural lexicon. The problem I have with typical discussions of these films that I’ve been subjected to is that everyone seems to want to talk about the least-interesting thing about them.

After the jump, they’re zombies; deal with it Continue reading →

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, | Features

The Alien film series never got a good video game, unless you count Alien Vs. Santa Claus Vs. Bartman Vs. Punky Brewster, which I don’t. Sega (and, I guess, a developer (?)) aim to change that with Alien: Isolation, which follows Ripley’s daughter (?) whom we never knew existed before (?) as she attempts to find out what happened to Ripley (?). Honestly I’m about 90 minutes in and I’m not sure what happened or is happening, and I’m a huge fan of the first two movies. There’s no manual, and the opening cutscenes don’t make it clear, so maybe I was supposed to get the backstory from reading reviews? I haven’t dug deep into any Alien: Isolation reviews because, like Tom, I try to avoid reviews for things I know I want to experience. (Tom plugs his ears, closes his eyes, and chants “I can’t hear you I can’t hear you” during movie trailers! Did you know that? Fun Tom fact! But did you also know that if YOU don’t do that, you’re cheating yourself out of experiencing art the way it was meant to be experienced? It’s true! Never watch movie trailers, and you should probably avoid game trailers too!)

Anyway, the point is, obviously WE know what the alien is, but I don’t know whether the protagonist knows what it is. She should, right? Because it’s been 15 years (?) since her mom tangled with the beast, and don’t they have e-mail in the future? Or are they still on microfiche? This is a very ’70s future, after all. It seems like the alien is a big mystery to her. Maybe I’m supposed to have watched Alien right before playing this game. I’m not asking for MORE exposition per se — there’s plenty — just BETTER exposition. I’m a writer, hire me for the sequel.

The game is stylish and creepy and so far I’m digging it. I just give the exposition zero stars. I’m not sure what that works out to on Metacritic, but I know it’s under 50%.

Anyway, enjoy my comments on the opening.

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Bill: Lucky McKee’s solo directing debut is an odd little character study that slowly widens its lens over the course of 93 minutes to show the madness surrounding its main character. It’s often laugh out loud funny, sometimes even touching, but eventually ends on a bittersweet note that manages to be both sad and horrifying at the same time.

But one thing is perfectly clear after the first few minutes of this film: Angela Bettis is the biggest reason it succeeds.

After the jump: Why you should never trust a seamstress Continue reading →

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