Connect with us

Editorials

[SXSW] We Witnessed the Birth of TWO Neomorphs in ‘Alien: Covenant’ (SPOILERS)!

Published

on

SXSW Alien Covenant Neomorph

Are you all tired of these “We Saw Footage From [Insert Popular Upcoming Horror Film] !” posts? Trust me, I understand. I would love nothing more than to show you the teaser trailer for It, or the two incredibly suspenseful scenes from Annabelle 2 that were shown to attendees of the SXSW Conference and Festivals last weekend. Unfortunately, the studios just aren’t ready for that yet, so we are relegated to simply describing the footage for you. For that I apologize, but what I can offer you is my opinion on the exclusive footage that was shown to attendees of the festival.*

*Apologies for the delay on this. This footage was screened on Friday March 10th but I just haven’t had a chance to write about it yet.

It was an unusual move for festival programmers to have their one of their opening night films be Ridley Scott’s Alien, which was shown at one of the festival’s biggest venues: The Paramount Theatre on Congress Avenue. Not that the festival hasn’t shown older films in the past, but with Covenant just two months away from release, I was 99% sure that it was going to be a surprise screening of Scott’s new film. Sure, the publicists told us that it was just going to be footage from Covenant followed by a screening of Alien, but it wouldn’t be the first time a surprise twist happened at a film festival. Plus, Scott, Katherine Waterston, Michael Fassbender and Danny McBride were all there to introduce the footage. Surely they were going to show Covenant, right? Wrong. It really was just three scenes, but I did get to see Alien on the big screen afterwards, which was pretty great.

***MAJOR SPOILERS (deaths included) for Alien: Covenant to follow.***

One of the scenes that Scott showed us, which shows that the android David (Michael Fassbender) seemingly created the xenomorphs, was already covered by our very own John Squires. That was actually the third and final scene that was screened for the audience. The first scene showed the crew of the Covenant landing on the new planet. There’s not a lot to mention about this scene, but it does give you an idea of the chemistry that the characters have and they all seem to play off of each other very well.

The second scene that was shown, however, was a doozy. We were able to witness not one, but two neomorph births. We told you everything you need to know about the neomorphs back in December, but finally seeing them in action was truly something special (if a little CGI-heavy, but more on that in a bit). In case you’ve missed some of the news: neomorphs are the result of the local ecosystem being mutated by the accelerant/black goo. Over time, pods started to grow on the trees and the ground, and release a spore when disturbed. These spores infect several members of the Covenant crew by entering the body through the ear and nostrils. The spores cause the growth of the Neomorphs inside the infected hosts.

The clip shown at the SXSW Conference and Festivals featured footage that is shown in the trailer, but this gave us an extremely close look at the neomorph and it’s attack habits. If you were afraid that the film wouldn’t be scary, let me put those fears to rest. This was a truly frightening scene.

The clip opens with part of the crew running back to a ship after already making contact with the spores. Carmen Ejogo’s character is with an injured crewmate who is coughing up blood all over her. Faris (Amy Seimetz), who is the wife of Tennessee (Danny McBride), lets them on to the ship and brings them both to the exam room. Faris is clearly unsettled by the man’s condition, but Ejogo tells her to help them. The man starts convulsing and Faris runs out of the room to radio the rest of the team who is still outside. She locks the door on her way out, trapping Ejogo and the man in the exam room. After her radio conversation, Faris runs back to the locked exam room and looks inside. Ejogo is hugging the man and his back starts splitting. Ejogo runs to the door and demands that Faris let her out. Faris denies her request. The man’s back completely rips open, and a small, white alien fetus falls on the ground (*splat*). The man’s corpse hangs over the side of the exam table.

The baby neomorph jumps up and begins to crawl around the room. Ejogo grabs a small knife and readies it for an attack. The neomorph jumps at her and begins scratching at her and stabbing her with its tail. After putting up a brief fight, Ejogo succumbs to her wounds and Faris opens the door to help her. She runs inside slips on the man’s blood, which garners the attention of the neomorph. It runs at her and she hurriedly crawls out of the room and shuts the door….on her foot. She manages to pull it out of the doorway and as it shuts the neomorph begins headbutting the door. Faris runs down the hall and the neomorph breaks the glass window of the exam foom, escaping into the corridor and chasing Faris. She makes it into the cargo hold and begins shooting at the neomorph. After missing several times, she shoots a canister that triggers an explosion. The ship goes up in flames.

The rest of the crew is approaching the ship as it explodes. There is no sign of the neomorph but Faris walks outside, covered in flames, and collapses. She is dead. It is at this moment that another crew member begins convulsing and eventually collapses. As the rest of the crew tries to help him, he begins vomiting blood and another baby neomorph squirms its way out of his mouth. Blood and goo are everywhere. The creature scampers off into the distance as the crew is left in shock and without a ship.

Many of you have vocalized your concerns about the use of CGI in the film, and I wish I had something positive to report on that front. Unfortunately the neomorph is a CGI creation, and it’s…not the best. It is possible that they’re still tinkering with the effects in the film so this could very well change by the time the film is released, but who knows? It was a little surprising that it looked as screensaver-y as it did, because the CGI xenomorph shown in the latest trailer actually looks pretty good. Spotty CGI aside, this was an incredibly tense and gory scene that elicited some great reactions from the audience. If the film can keep this type of intensity up for the duration of its runtime then I think we really could be in for something special.

Alien: Covenant will be released in theaters nationwide on May 19, 2017.

Editorials

Celebrate Father’s Day With the Best and Worst Dads in Horror History!

Published

on

It’s Father’s Day! What better way to celebrate dad than spending the day together watching movies? Movies have long explored the paternal bonds between father and child, and the emotional terror and madness that raising children often brings. Horror has given us an extensive roster of terrifying fathers that were never fit for the title, as well as many dads willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for their child.

In salute of fathers everywhere, we revel in horror’s worst and best dads:


Worst

Don– 28 Weeks Later

Don (Robert Carlyle) demonstrates what kind of father he is before his kids even enter the film. When a group of survivors holed up in a rural cottage let in a boy being pursued by infected, he pleads with his wife to abandon the boy and make a getaway. She refuses, and he barely hesitates in making his decision to abandon her and the boy as the infected descend. When Don is reunited with his kids, he lies about their mother’s fate and the part he played in it. Don is already a terrible father, but then his guilt leads to him getting infected. When most infected with the Rage Virus are content to shred anyone in their path, Don prefers to stalk his children the entire rest of the film.


Daddy – The People Under the Stairs

Anyone who prefers to go by the name “Daddy” is one you should probably give a wide berth. In Wes Craven’s The People under the Stairs, Daddy (Everett McGill) is one half of an incestuous brother and sister duo that have very high standards for their children. Mommy and Daddy have a tendency to raise a child up until the point where they deem the child too flawed to continue, cut out their offensive body parts, and then dump them in the basement where the child then has to resort to cannibalism to survive. Both are unhinged, but Daddy is far crazier and a bit more dangerous. His leather gimp outfit clearly proves it.


Jerry Blake/Henry Morrison/Bill Hodgkins – The Stepfather

Operating under many aliases, the eponymous Stepfather shares a lot in common with The People under the Stairs’ Daddy in that all he wants is the picture-perfect family. Unlike Daddy, this guy doesn’t just settle for dumping the kids in the basement when they fall out of line. He looks for vulnerable single mothers, woos them, and assimilates himself into their makeshift family. When it doesn’t work out, he slaughters them. It’s creepy enough, but when the Stepfather is played by an intense Terry O’Quinn it’s downright terrifying.


Chris Cleek – The Woman

It takes a lot to paint the feral, cannibalistic Woman (Pollyanna McIntosh) as the empathetic one. Enter Chris Cleek (Sean Bridgers), a lawyer that initially comes across as charming and put together. He captures the Woman and brings her back to his home so his family can attempt to “civilize her.” It reveals just how dysfunctional his family is thanks to his ruthless sadism. His son is following in his footsteps, observing dad rape the Woman and knock mom unconscious when she threatens to leave. Verbally and physically abusive to older daughter Peggy (Lauren Ashley Carter), it becomes painfully clear that there’s not a single redeeming quality about this father.


Jack Torrance – The Shining

Jack continues to be the standard by which all horrible fathers are measured. His previous dalliances with alcoholism resulted in dislocating his son Danny’s shoulder, a move that would earn any dad a Worst Father Ever award. When he relocates his family to the Overlook Hotel for a job as hotel caretaker, his paternal instincts go from bad to zilch as his mounting frustrations become more violent. Jack Nicholson nails Jack’s descent into madness, and the breaking point that drives Jack to murderous intent toward his wife and child remains an all-time high (or low) point in horror.


Best

Lt. Donald Thompson– A Nightmare on Elm Street series

I know what you’re thinking; how did Nancy Thompson’s father earn this spot? Divorced from Nancy’s alcoholic mother and caught up in his police work, he not only refuses to really listen to his daughter but he even uses her as bait to capture suspected killer Rod. Even still, it’s clear that he loves his daughter and was very worried over her perceived declining mental health. Also, out of the two parents, he’s the most stable option Nancy has. Lt. Donald Thompson exemplifies that all dads make mistakes; sometimes because they’re blinded by thinking they know what’s best. He makes amends for his mistakes in A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors, having finally realized Nancy was telling the truth to the point of losing his career. He ultimately loses his life in his contribution to stop Freddy Krueger once and for all, and his relationship with Nancy remains one of the most touching in horror.


Captain Spaulding – The Devil’s Rejects

Sure, he may be a bit of a homicidal maniac, but Captain Spaulding sure loves his kids. It’s primarily through his fatherly love that the Firefly clan winds up being the anti-heroes of the film. When Sheriff Wydell raids the Firefly house, Baby and Otis run to their dad, Spaulding, for shelter; mind you, it’s unclear if Otis actually is Spaulding’s child, but Spaulding nevertheless acts as a father figure to him. Baby, Otis, and Spaulding are betrayed and captured by Wydell, who intends to torture them slowly out of vengeance. Dear dad Spaulding consistently tries to bring Wydell’s attention back to him so that Baby will be spared the torture and shows visceral response at her suffering. Even more heartbreaking is when the two fall into each other’s arms after reuniting. Sure, the Firefly family might be a bunch of psychopaths, but their strong family bond, love, and loyalty stems from patriarch Captain Spaulding.


Jesse Hellman – The Devil’s Candy

Jesse (Ethan Embry) is instantly relatable as the dad struggling to provide for his family. A painter often forced to paint art that goes against the grain of his personality for the sake of buying his wife and teen daughter a house, Jesse feels like an everyman. His strong bond with his daughter over music demonstrates a depth of love. What makes him one of horror’s finest fathers, though, is that his love for her overrides everything, including the strong lure of the Devil. Even when literal temptation from the Devil distracts him momentarily, he walks through fire and injury for his daughter.


John Collingwood – The Last House on the Left (2009)

This remake changed a key detail from Wes Craven’s 1972 original; the Collingwood’s daughter Mari survives her harrowing encounter with Krug and his gang. It heightens the stakes in that her injuries mean a race against the clock. Under the shock and realization of what Mari’s endured, he’s forced to give her an emergency tracheotomy using household items. He also knows he needs to get the key to the boat to get her to a hospital ASAP, with Krug’s gang staying in the guest house. With fierce determination (and rage), John gets the key by any means necessary. Including a lot of well-deserved death toward those that were responsible.


Seok-woo – Train to Busan

If you only get to choose one film to watch with dad this Father’s Day, make it this one. A divorced workaholic, and therefore absentee father, Seok-woo has made many mistakes along his journey in fatherhood. So much so that his daughter wants him to take her back to her mother’s for her birthday. So they board the train to Busan. The only problem is that his daughter’s birthday seems to coincide with a zombie apocalypse, making their trip a horrifying fight for survival. Seok-woo may not have been the ideal father, but he quickly proves he’s there for his daughter when it matters the most. Fighting tooth and nail (and zombie) to protect her during onslaught after onslaught, Seok-woo rebuilds his relationship with his daughter in the process. This is a rare horror film that will pull at the heartstrings (or rip it out) simply for its portrayal of the daddy-daughter relationship.

Continue Reading

Editorials

The Dreamcast’s ‘Blue Stinger’ Was a Campy, Messy Attempt to Breathe New Life Into Survival Horror

Published

on

Blue Stinger 2

We re-visit the bonkers madness of ‘Blue Stinger,’ the Dreamcast’s first and most ridiculous foray into the survival horror genre

“What will you do if the monster attacks you when you’re butt-naked?”
“Then I’ll fight back butt-naked!” 

When the Dreamcast was fresh on the market, many of the examples of innovative graphics and gameplay in its titles spoke to a whole new generation of gaming that could do wonders for the survival horror genre (there’s a reason that Resident Evil CODE: Veronica was originally a Dreamcast exclusive). If titles like Resident Evil, Silent Hill, and Clock Tower could be so effective while still stuck in the 32-bit era, then imagine what could be done with the Dreamcast. The killed-too-soon Sega system has plenty of gems that fit into the horror genre, but one of the Dreamcast’s most peculiar survival horror games is a certain launch title that combines zombies, space fairies, and a location that’s inexplicably called Dinosaur Island (like seriously), all while keeping a straight face. Welcome to the world of Blue Stinger.

Blue Stinger hit the scene as one of the Dreamcast’s lesser-known launch titles. While most gamers already knew that they’d be grabbing the likes of Sonic Adventure, Soul Calibur, or Crazy Taxi with their new bliss machine, Blue Stinger was hoping that maybe someone would give it a shot because all the other more popular games were sold out. In fact, a rather interesting sales strategy was implemented with Blue Stinger’s US release. The game was actually available one whole week before the Dreamcast had even launched on 9/9/99. Take a second to consider this tactic. What benefit could this possibly serve? Did Sega and Activision hope that people would blindly buy the game simply because it was available? They couldn’t even play it yet! Thankfully the Dreamcast had a wealth of impressive launch titles because if their releases were more like Blue Stinger then the Dreamcast might have been crippled before it could even really get going. But hey, at least the game’s Japanese commercial is cool!

Blue Stinger comes courtesy of the tiny development team over at Climax Games (which would later re-brand as Crazy Games). The Crazy Games team only developed two titles—Blue Stinger and Illbleed—before they permanently shut down. Eliot’s sidekick, Dogs, even has a brief cameo in Illbleed as a corpse, which is honestly pretty fitting considering Blue Stinger’s reputation. Blue Stinger would ultimately go on to sell over 500,000 copies, but the game hardly found mainstream success or even much critical acclaim. The game’s creator and producer, Shinya Nishigaki (whose only other notable credit was the questionable Saturn title, Dark Savior) also died a few years after Blue Stinger’s release, which means that he wouldn’t go on to attempt some spiritual successor to his work. Blue Stinger was also directed by Ayumu Kojima, which was notably his first directing gig. He would go on to work on Crazy Games’ Illbleed in 2001, but that’s it.

Blue Stinger dresses itself up as survival horror, but it’s actually quite the surprising cocktail of madness. There’s a very bizarre tone and attitude to the game and there are continually weird elements throughout the experience that should make gamers do a double take, whether it’s nonsensical enemy designs, the game’s soundtrack, the fact that weapons and items are acquired through vending machines, or even just the smaller details like the title’s weird allegiance to other Dreamcast games or the fact that Eliot’s primary weapon strangely has two triggers for no reason other than the fact that it looks “cool.” That mentality I present through all of Blue Stinger and while this doesn’t necessarily amount to a scary survival horror tile or even a “good” one, it does make for a memorable, different experience that’s worth a playthrough if it doesn’t drive you mad in the process.

Blue Stinger wastes no time at all to throw as many trippy visuals at its audience as possible. The game begins on Christmas of 2017 when a meteor-like object crashes down on Dinosaur Island and Eliot and company must investigate. It’s actually kind of interesting to see the threat come from space for once and invade Earth that way rather than humans invading its environment, but that glimpse of creativity doesn’t go far enough. Pretty soon there’s a space fairy named Nephilim making out with Eliot and implanting him with her memories in the process.

The game’s sizzle reel tells the audience, “After 65 million years…the island is awake,” but it doesn’t really mean anything. It’s just exciting buzzwords. The game’s opening cutscene is maddeningly nearly ten minutes long and it really goes all out here to make this feel like an epic, next-gen experience. The fact that the game throws you right into chaos gives the impression that you’re beginning in the climax of a movie, but there’s, unfortunately, plenty of non-climax left to go.

With the game’s focus on piers, islands, and other water-based locations, it should come as no surprise that the title does involve a lot of water, which is a nice way that this game manages to feel unique from other horror games. That being said, Blue Stinger doesn’t embrace the idea as much as it could and there are other games (like the relatively ignored Sega Saturn title, Deep Fear) that go further with underwater terror. In reality, Blue Stinger embraces its horror-comedy tendencies more than anything and it results in an entertaining experience, but one that never manages to be genuinely frightening or creepy, whereas Deep Fear does achieve genuine creepiness and even Illbleed eventually has moments where absurd gore still cuts through the level of camp. This never happens in Blue Stinger.

With titles like Blue Stinger there can often be production elements that are unintentionally humorous, such as voice acting or the game’s script. Blue Stinger actually features decent vocal performances that really go all out in these roles. However, the dialogue and translation work leaves a whole lot to be desired. Furthermore, the game’s main characters, Eliot and Dogs, are voiced by Ryan Drummond and Deem Bristow, who are basically just doing their Sonic voices here. If you close your eyes it’s quite easy to trick yourself into thinking that Sonic and Dr. Eggman are having a vacation on Dinosaur Island, which is a bit of a surreal experience.

One of the definite highlights of Blue Stinger is the camaraderie between Eliot and Dogs. The game builds an effective, albeit silly, buddy cop dynamic between Eliot and Dogs. Plus, the awkward, sexist banter with the team’s resident female, Janine, is also rather ridiculous and plays into the genre. At one point in the game Eliot and Dogs decides to take a bath together like this is a hot springs filler episode of an anime. Not Eliot, Dogs, and Janine. Just Eliot and Dogs. This scene justifies itself with the lame excuse that now the monsters won’t be able to smell them. It’s also bookended by some questionable dialogue like, “I’m gonna take a bath. Nothing’s gonna stop me!” Eliot and Dogs proceed to get into a rather lengthy conversation about how cool it is to take a bath in the middle of an emergency and that they’ll even fight naked, if they have to! Well, that’s something that Chris Redfield and Leon Kennedy have never had to do together in a Resident Evil game so far… If all of this wasn’t enough, Blue Stinger’s grand prize for completing the game under the most stringent of restrictions is the bizarre “Swimsuit Mode,” which allows people to play through the game again as scantily clad versions of Eliot and Dogs. This is hardly strong incentive to play through the game again, but at least Blue Stinger seems to be in on the joke.

Blue Stinger 5

The rest of the game’s sound and music design is equally all over the place, but the music is at least composed by Toshihiko Sahashi of Gundam SEED fame. There are also only six tracks in the game that play ad infinitum while other “clever” tricks are used to extend music and remix audio stingers. The music is definitely a little overdramatic, but it’s not at all creepy or suspenseful. In fact, it’s basically Christmas music on speed. By the end of the game, your brain will be a constant echo chamber of the seasonal track, “Lab Town.” The Dreamcast’s slogan was, “It’s thinking,” but in this case, it’s definitely screaming.

Another particularly curious decision that Blue Stinger makes involves the game’s controls and camera angles. The Western version of the game actually forces an awkward behind-the-character third-person camera perspective, which becomes quite erratic at times. However, Blue Stinger’s Japanese release uses a fixed camera angle, like the popular Resident Evil, and it’s a little more manageable, but prone to its own set of frustrations. Players can often get stuck in a door jam or other badly angled situations where Eliot is forced to blindly fire into the abyss. That being said, it is interesting to see that this game tried to adjust its camera based on its audience, but the better strategy would have been to offer both options in both versions of the game.

While Blue Stinger’s aesthetics may have players scratching their heads in confusion, there are at least some fairly outrageous, creative enemy designs in the game. Blue Stinger’s monsters really go above and beyond and they all look like chimera-esque abominations. This naturally leads to some rather inventive boss battles and by the end of the game you’re basically fighting dinosaur-like obstacles. Attacking these creatures also results in gallons of blood in an attempt to seem “scary.” These enemies alone make Blue Stinger feel different than the standard survival horror fare where uninspired enemies like zombies are the norm. What other horror game has a giant blob for an enemy? We need more blob representation in survival horror titles! Blue Stinger again shows its personality and its clear sense of humor here, like how zombies dress up in Santa outfits, there’s a boss that looks like a hermit crab beast that uses a jeep as its shell, and its weird obsession with a cutesy mascot who continually pops up.

Blue Stinger 3

In addition to the game’s enemies, there is also a nice variety of weapons in Blue Stinger, which includes some badass additions to Eliot’s arsenal, such as acid, plasma, ray, and rail guns! There’s even a bazooka that’s fun as hell to let loose with when you really don’t give a damn anymore. Additionally, there’s an extensive list of atypical handheld weapons like a stun rod, ray sword (every game needs a lightsaber clone), iron knuckles, and more. It’s quite detailed and allows the user a surprising amount of customization. Another truly bizarre detail is that the game’s weapons and ammo come out of vending machines and somehow pistol ammo costs less than a TV dinner or an 80 dollar sandwich. But who are we to question this? Who knows what life is like in this neo-dystopia of 2018! Hassy is also the Blue Stinger universe’s beverage of choice. Hassy.

In terms of the game’s level design, the “big city” and mall plaza areas where Christmas lights and electricity bombard the player are really a sight and they speak to the Dreamcast’s impressive capabilities at the time. There’s also a certain thrill from killing monsters in a brightly lit supermarket with Jingle Bells blaring in the background. Blue Stinger’s levels push a very cyberpunk look, but there are still plenty of creepy and inconsistent textures on characters and locations. This doesn’t feel like it’s specifically an artistic choice as much as it’s just a clashing of styles that happens to somehow work out in a weird way. It does help that all of Blue Stinger’s environments are completely 3D rather than pre-rendered, but the possible routes to explore are sometimes comically telegraphed and the space to travel is actually much more limiting than it may initially appear. While on this topic, there’s a perplexing room in one of the game’s convenience stores that’s full of pornography and the game even asks players if they’re over 21 before gaining access to the room. This hidden area is only in the Japanese release and scrubbed from the US version, but why put that in this game out of all the possible options?

As Eliot navigates through these levels, there’s a whole lot of keycard tag present, at least in the first quarter of the game. There’s a lot of going to a location, finding a locked door, then finding the new key card. However, one instance of this becomes a bizarre crossover with the obscure Dreamcast creature racer, Pen Pen Trilcelon. This isn’t an added bonus like the toy capsules in Shenmue or something. You actually need to require four Pen Pen stamps to progress in the game and it’s just so weird. Imagine if in order to unlock a door in Resident Evil 2’s police station you needed four Mega Man magnets, or if entry to Silent Hill’s school is allowed after Harry Mason presents the nurse with three Metal Gear Solid figures? What’s even worse is Pen Pen Trilcelon doesn’t even return the favor! You’d think there would at least be a track set on Dinosaur Island or a Blue Stinger-themed vehicle, but nope. It’s almost like it doesn’t want to invite the association.

Blue Stinger 7

In addition to this, there are also strange attempts at block buzzles and timed events, which will reward Eliot with new weapons, but none of this is actually necessary. While they can make for interesting distractions, these sections feel more like something from out of a Zelda or Tomb Raider game than a survival horror title. Plus, there are also random civilians that can be helped and saved throughout the game. This is a little evocative of House of the Dead’s style and even though this material is not fundamental, it still adds a nice added level of difficulty to the experience. Blue Stinger also expands these timed events into more substantial sequences. There are several real-time missions, which seem like they could build suspense, but they’re just excruciatingly long! One of these missions puts 42 minutes on the clock as Eliot tries to get a dying man his medication and another gives Eliot a full half hour to keep himself from mutating into a monster.

Blue Stinger does deserve some credit for the ambitious decision to let Eliot get infected and start to transform into a monstrosity around the game’s mid-way point. However, this surprise isn’t just for shock value and Eliot actually gain the ability to crawl on ceilings and behave like a monster, which definitely makes for a creative second act. Resident Evil has played around with its protagonists getting infected, but it usually results in them out of commission while their partner hunts for an antidote. Wouldn’t it make for a nice change if one section in a Resident Evil game actually has your character act like a zombie and see with impaired vision? Behind all of the camp and silliness, Blue Stinger actually contains some strong gameplay ideas. It’s just a shame that the culmination of all of these parts is something that’s this insane. The game’s final boss turns into a showdown of sorts that seems more appropriate for the finale of Neon Genesis Evangelion than anything else. It’s quite the incomprehensible piece of space fairy nonsense and it’s even arrogant enough to anticipate that people would want a sequel to this “cliffhanger.” It’s more of an existential disaster than something that makes you hungry to play more. It’s a resounding Huh? rather than an impressive Woah!

With Blue Stinger, it’s really just one absurd set piece after another, whether it involves meeting someone new who has a bizarre disposition given the life-threatening situation at hand, or some new scenario that requires a ridiculous task of Eliot. This is all so prevalent and in your face that it’s just best to get on board with it from the start rather than fight it. Sure, you won’t get scared, but you can tear up jeep-crabs with a laser sword, so the glass of Hassy is still half full here. Crazy Games would ultimately get a lot better with this formula in their next and final title, Illbleed, but part of Blue Stinger’s charm is in how flawed and inexplicable so much of it is.

Much like many of the more obscure titles on the Dreamcast and Sega Saturn, there, unfortunately, isn’t a way to play Blue Stinger besides on the Dreamcast (but it’s woefully cheap if you do have the system). This isn’t the sort of title that has as rabid of a fanbase as something even as small as Deep Fear, so it’s unlikely that this will pop up on Steam or GOG.com any time soon. That being said, if the rights could be sorted out, a combo-pack of Crazy Games’ complete library that features both Blue Stinger and Illbleed would make for an appealing item. Collectively these titles represent a weird corner of the survival horror genre and it’s a perspective that’s worth revisiting after how serious things can get in horror games.

God, somebody give me a Hassy. I need a drink.

Continue Reading

Editorials

Celebrate Summer With These 8 Essential Beach-Themed Horror Movies!

Published

on

When it comes to summer themed horror, most revolve around summer camp or camping in general. There are countless slashers and supernatural horror films set around cabins in woods that it’s pretty much ensured that I never need to go camping again in my life. It makes sense, though; summer camps and campsites can be anywhere. The beach, however, is a much more specific setting, but one that’s even more closely aligned with the season than camping.

Cooling off in the water under the blazing sun feels much less ominous than the dark, dark woods, right? Leave it to horror to ruin that for you as well.

Here are some essential beach-themed horror films to ward you off from ever stepping foot in the water or on sand again…


Jaws

Jaws

Of course, no beach themed list would be complete without the quintessential summer horror film. Still considered one of the greatest films ever made, and the prototype for the summer blockbuster, Steven Spielberg’s seminal film based on Peter Benchley’s novel made creepy use of the malfunctioning animatronic shark against John Williams haunting score to create nail-biting tension. More than any other horror film in memory, Jaws ignited a very specific and long-lasting fear of sharks, and going in the water, making it the epitome of summer horror.


Psycho Beach Party

A horror-comedy mashup of ‘60s beach movies and ‘80s slashers with a psychodrama center, this underseen parody checks off all the boxes for beach-themed horror. Lauren Ambrose stars as Florence “Chicklet” Forest, the first female surfer at Malibu Beach. Her surfing ambitions are hindered by her dissociative personality disorder that results in blackouts, making her afraid that she’s the one responsible for murders happening in her town. Based on a play, this horror-comedy also stars Nicholas Brendon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and Amy Adams (Arrival).


Piranha 3D

The beach isn’t exclusive to oceans. Any large body of water, like a lake, can have a beach. So, technically this spring break lakeside beach set horror film by Alexandre Aja counts. For those said spring breakers, fishermen, and the Lake Victoria authorities, spring break gets bloody when an earthquake frees prehistoric piranhas from the depths of the lake’s floor. Over the top in gore matched equally by its biting sense of humor, this one is every bit as fun as it sounds and perfect for summer viewing.


Blood Beach

If there’s anything that this list will teach you, it’s that beaches in California can be bad news. In this case, it’s Santa Monica Beach, and the threat comes from beneath the sand rather than the water. Playing off Jaws 2’s tagline, Blood Beach sums up their plot and tone with, “Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water… you can’t get to it!” Hard to find and out of print on DVD, Blood Beach is the rarer option for summer horror viewing. If you can get hold of it, it’s schlocky B-movie fun that feels almost like a precursor to Tremors, but with a beachy twist (Tremors is much better).


The Lost Boys

Sometimes you don’t even have to step foot in the water to find horror at the beach. In the case of this beloved horror-comedy, the beach town of Santa Carla is inundated with vampires. When the Emerson family moves in with Grandpa after mom Lucy’s divorce, older brother Michael (Jason Patric) falls in with a gang of blood-sucking teens that prefer to party all night and sleep all day. They also choose the beach and boardwalk as their feeding ground, and hide out in a beachside cliff.


Humanoids from the Deep

An exploitation creature feature from Roger Corman that’s set in a Californian fishing village. It results it fun brutal kills from aquatic humanoids but super sleazy raping of beach going women. Take out that icky aspect and you have one hell of a fun creature feature with creature designs by Rob Bottin (The Thing, The Howling). Directed by Barbara Peeters, she did a fantastic job handling the gruesome deaths of the men under Corman’s directive, “Kill all the men and rape all the women,” but wasn’t explicit enough on the latter part of his orders. So, Jimmy T. Murakami was brought in to direct those scenes in a way that would push Corman’s B-movie goal. Save for those scenes, Peeters’ version of the story is a must watch.


The Mutilator

This ‘80s slasher, one of the goriest, probably doesn’t seem like essential beach horror. It is, though. It follows a group of friends heading to a family owned beachfront condo over break, and naturally, things get deadly. Originally titled Fall Break, it’s a rare slasher with an upbeat theme song that feels like it belongs more to a comedy than horror, and it fits the charm of this over the top movie. The kills are gruesome and make great use of beach themed weapons like a fishing gaff. It’s also a rare slasher where there’s no real mystery at all behind the killer’s identity. Beach theme plus gore equals a must watch summer slasher, even if it’s set during the fall.


Creepshow 2 “The Raft”

The best segment for this anthology sequel also perfectly encapsulates the terror of summer. Or at least, it makes for a strong case to heed warning signs posted on the beach. For four college friends, they decide to opt for a more isolated setting for their day at the beach, driving to a secluded, empty lake. They swim out to the raft out in the middle, only to be greeted by a strange oil slick. The friends realize they should’ve just stuck with a more crowded beach when the oil slick begins devouring them in painful ways. Not only is this one of horror’s best anthology segments, but it proves horror can lurk in all bodies of water.

Continue Reading

Editorials

[Butcher Block] Brutal Psycho-Killer Home Invasion ‘Angst’ is Extreme

Published

on

Butcher Block is a weekly series celebrating horror’s most extreme films and the minds behind them. Dedicated to graphic gore and splatter, each week will explore the dark, the disturbed, and the depraved in horror, and the blood and guts involved. For the films that use special effects of gore as an art form, and the fans that revel in the carnage, this series is for you.

When it comes to difficult, hard to watch films that elicit uncomfortable reactions to the extreme violence depicted on screen, Gaspar Noe’s Irreversible ranks high on the list. There’s a 10-minute sequence in it so harrowing and bleak that it’s become infamous. So when he had repeatedly named a little seen, banned 1983 Austrian film, Angst, as a major influence on his filmmaking (he’s stated that he’s watched it at least 40 times), you know it’s going to be dark. A film so extreme that it was banned all over the world, even earning an X-rating in France, and the controversy surrounding it contributed to an overwhelming debt that ensured it would be writer/director Gerald Kargl’s first and last film.

It’s likely in large part to Noe’s praises of the film that eventually unearthed Angst from obscurity, and thanks to the great curation of horror streaming service Shudder, horror fans are finally able to see the film that makes even Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer look somewhat tame. There’s an opening card on Shudder that warns of the ultra-violence that lies ahead, but it becomes quickly forgotten as it introduces the viewer to K. As K. is in the process of being released from prison, his inner monologue narrates his sordid childhood that gives detailed illustration as to how this psychopath was formed. The unconventional camera work and the framework of this narrative makes it easy to see why it’s so ahead of its time, and further makes the viewer forget that K. has depraved violence in store, even when he tells us he’s eager to kill again.

After a botched attempt to make his taxi driver his first victim post-prison release, he flees into the woods and winds up at a seemingly empty, large isolated home. He finds a disabled man inside, whose mother and sister arrive home shortly after. It’s here that this psycho-killer film gets from mildly unsettling to full-blown discomfort, as K. goes after each member with frenzied ferocity.

That Kargl makes K.’s attacks so visceral despite being mostly bloodless is effective. It’s a real-time, intimate look as K. tortures, defiles, and kills his victims. Even still, none of it prepares the viewer for K.’s final kill, so vile, bloody, and steeped in realism that even when the preceding scenes would be enough to earn the film its reputation, this scene alone would do it on its own merit. So much blood spilled, and Kargl used pig’s blood instead of fake blood to perpetuate that since of authenticity. The murder alone feels uncomfortably real, but then K. decides to take it a step further by drinking blood, vomiting, and even necrophilia.

The events of the film are based on true life Austrian serial killer Werner Kniesek. Kargl’s film feels so authentic because it is. Kniesek’s triple homicide ranks among the most ruthless in criminal history, and Angst feels like an intimate portrayal that seeks to understand what drives psycho-killers to kill. Kargl and cinematographer Zbigniew Rybcynski’s camerawork is a marvel on a technical level, but it’s pure, unrelenting anxiety. It’s a perfect example that horror doesn’t always have to spill gallons of blood from opening credits to end to earn its extreme warning. In 1983, Angst was way ahead of its time, and even today there’s still no other home invasion horror quite like it.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

this week in horror

BD on Instagram

Most Popular