Mack Rant: Barbarians at the Gamergate…

Gamergate

Up until a few days ago, this whole Gamergate mess was outside of my radar. I was too busy enjoying my gaming hobby to really get myself into this divisive atmosphere. Then, I decided to catch myself up on this situation. I’m sorry for the unfounded claims set against Zoe Quinn and for the women involved the industry who are trying to do their part to make gaming better for everyone. I was not set to take a side in this issue since there are people who on both sides who have legitimate concerns. Women in gaming shouldn’t have to deal with such immaturity and insecurity, yet expecting gaming journalism to be ethical and without a feeling there’s conflict of interest is something applicable to all press.

Yet, my ire over the whole thing isn’t with the bullies who first harassed the female gaming populace. They’re a small minority. We’re talking about a few hundred, a few thousand to be generous. This is out of a community of millions, a minute percentage. My resentment is reserved for the gaming media, for they had the audacity to lump all gamers together as being of the same ilk as the bullies. To that I say, I have no intention of ever supporting another video game media outlet.

Personally, I have every right to be angry at gaming media for generalizing all gamers as being bullies. Just look at the Gamasutra article, “’Gamers’ Don’t Have To Be Your Audience. ‘Gamers’ Are Over.” Other media outlets included The Financial Post, Ars Technica, The Daily Beast, The Stranger, Beta Beast, and Polygon. Not only were gamers targeted, but those who presented arguments in favor of gamers, such as Christina Hoff Summers, aka The Factual Feminist.

To be fair, there are those of the Gamergate side that are keen on addressing the issue of journalism ethics.  Unfortunately, there is a noticeable number of people who have bastardized the Gamergate tag to share their own narrow-minded stances towards women.  Here is when the Gamergate proponents must make it clear they don’t share these boneheaded ideals.  Sure, its not all members of this side of the internet conflict, but its grown enough that not standing for such behavior needs to be stated.  While you may not share such notions, it would only harm your cause to not address such.

As pointed out by Luke Plunkett in the article, “We Might Be Witnessing The ‘Death of An Identity,” he said the tag “Gamer” doesn’t refer to all gamers, just the people being jerks. To that I say, then use the term “jerks” or “bullies.” Of all your journalistic prowess and mastery of linguistics you can’t use a more fitting word? You have to use the most inclusive of titles to address the dickish fringe element?

Imagine if all of a community were labeled as antagonistic because of the actions of a few. That’s the logic perpetuated by gaming media. Imagine if I exclaimed, “Anita Sarkeesian’s threat against her life in Utah was a hoax for publicity because she’s associated with Meg Lanker-Simons, who pleaded no contest after police found threats against her to be fake and interfering with a police investigation.” Not fair, is it? Then why should all gamers be slandered because of the actions of a pathetic, vocal minority?

In fact, Anita Sarkeesian in a tweet said that one person threatening her admitted to be associated with Gamergate, so she concluded that all who support Gamergate are accomplices after the fact. Its okay for her to accuse all people of a group as evil, but present even the slightest criticism against her and you’re banned from Twitter, as what happened to Dr. Phil Mason aka Thunderf00t. If it wasn’t clear enough, all sides of the issue of Gamergate reek of hypocrisy.

Sarkeesian

Also, it would be bitter irony for these media outlets to propose the end of the gamer label. Why? Because studies show that the number of women gamers is on the rise! The Daily Dot, CNN, The Entertainment Software Association, The Guardian, The Washington Post among others have reported that women make up the majority of the gaming population. As stated in her video, Ms. Summers noted that gaming is becoming more inclusive. Even the label of gamer not only refers to those who play on consoles and PCs, but also on smartphones and table top games.

Many women have taken steps to provide gaming alternatives.  Today, we have Zoey Quinn and Brianna Wu continuing the foundation set by the likes of Roberta Williams, Carol Shaw, Dona Bailey, and Amy Briggs.  The more they can contribute to gaming, the more people can see how the likes of Duke Nukem Forever, Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball, The Guy Game, Rumble Roses, Leisure Suit Larry, and Custer’s Revenge are not what gaming should be.  Gaming will change for the better and it will happen organically.

What do I propose? For painting gamers with the broadest strokes, I say stop supporting video game media. Don’t get your news from the likes of Kotaku, IGN, Gamespot, GameTrailers, Polygon, The Escapist, Game Informer, or any resource other than your gaming retailer and the gaming developers/publishers themselves. For the any of the aforementioned outlets not involved in Gamergate and may feel wronged for being dragged into the conflict, I can only say this: welcome to my world.

 

Gamergate image courtesy of avoiceformen.com

Mack Rant: Second Chance is the Charm…

Movies based on comic books often share similar habits to their source material: If something doesn’t work, give it time before repackaging it and reselling it. Just look at Captain America. Reb Brown, Matt Salinger, and Chris Evans mark an upward trend for Marvel’s famed patriot. Another example: The Punisher. What started with a generic action film with Dolph Lundgren led to Thomas Jane’s fun, but inconsistent, turn and the “as perfect as it gets” take by Ray Stevenson. There have been reboots for the likes of the Hulk, Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, and the Fantastic Four. What about the lesser known heroes with infamous movie turns?

As a moviegoer, I’m willing to give a second or third chance. Whether it applies to actors, directors, or licensing properties if its an earnest attempt to make a movie. I’ll wait until the final product is set before making a judgement. In the wake of San Diego Comic-Con and the recent release of Guardians of the Galaxy, I was impressed with cinematic prospects from two unlikely characters, one of which has been recently announced as set for release in 2016.

With the disaster that was X-Men Origins: Wolverine, rumors and development Hell have stalled the production of a Deadpool movie. While Ryan Reynolds was promising in the beginning of Origins, the genetic clustermuck they turned Wade Wilson into at the end likely killed whatever momentum the character had to get their own film. Despite this lackluster turn, Deadpool remained a popular character in comics, video games, and animated works. Even the short film, “A Typical Tuesday,” showed the cinematic possibilities, albeit on a small scale.

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Thanks to the widespread, positive reaction from the footage at San Diego Comic-Con, a movie is now happening. The six minute proof of concept footage cut down to two minutes was enough to build buzz. That buzz turned into a vocal demand for a full Deadpool movie. There was some question as to why four minutes were cut, but what we saw was enough to convince us that they can take our money.

Given the popularity surrounding the character, one would think a movie on him would be a no-brainer. In the hands of the duo of Lord & Miller (The Lego Movie, the Jump Street films), I would be very comfortable with them getting their hands on the Merc with the Mouth. My one qualm is the casting. Ryan Reynolds is not my top choice. I would much rather see Sean William Scott in the role. Still, as long as an earnest Deadpool movie happens, I’ll take Reynolds.

The other character that might be prime for another shot at the multiplexes is one with a serious stigma. The last time he was in a movie was back in 1986 under the productive supervision of George Lucas. While it was a financial and critical bomb, it has gone on to become a cult classic. Yes, I am referring to Howard the Duck, who made a surprise return in the post-credit sequence for Guardians of the Galaxy.

Howard-The-Duck-In-Guardians-of-The-Galaxy-Teaser

After all, why shouldn’t Howard get another chance? In the decades since, Howard has been involved in noted story-lines like Civil War and Marvel Zombies vs Army of Darkness. He made a surprise appearance in Lego Marvel Superheroes. With Marvel having greater control over some of their properties, I say give Howard another shot on film! Bring back Seth Green to do the voice while we’re at it!

I don’t see why it would be far-fetched for either character to come to the big screen. If lesser heroes like Jonah Hex, Guardians of the Galaxy, Ant-Man, and members of the Justice League who aren’t Batman or Superman can make it to the big screen, give Deadpool and Howard the Duck a turn. If both X-Men: Days of Future Past and Guardians of the Galaxy are any sign, they would be given justice for a change.

Tales of Monkey Island (PS3)

Tales of Monkey Island

Telltale Games rarely disappoint me as a video game developer. With the exception of Jurassic Park, I’ve enjoyed all the time I’ve spent with their console titles. Strong Bad’s Cool Game for Attractive People, Back to the Future, Poker Night II, both seasons of The Walking Dead, Sam & Max: The Devil’s Playhouse, and The Wolf Among Us offered great writing, interesting characters, and tricky puzzles. One of Telltale’s early efforts was the return of one of the PC’s classic series: Monkey Island.

Tales of Monkey Island begins with Guybrush Threepwood, mighty pirate, fighting the infamous LeChuck to rescue his wife, Elaine. After a supernatural mishap, the voodoo curse of LeChuck spreads to nearby islands, also infecting Guybrush’s left hand, but turning LeChuck back into a human. An explosion causes the ship to sink, separating Guybrush from Elaine, leaving her with LeChuck.

Guybrush arrives on the island of Flotsam, which begins the episodic journey. Through his quest, he’ll encounter strange characters and visit exotic locales. Memorable characters Guybrush will meet include the likes of French science eccentric Marquis De Singe, first mate Reginald Van Winslow, wily judge W.T., the Voodoo Lady, and pirate hunter Morgan LeFlay.

Much like other Telltale Games made around the same time, there is a lot of conversing and puzzle solving. With regards to talking to NPCs, this adds much to the game’s humor. The writing by Mark Darin, Michael Stemmle, and Sean Vanaman recalls other classic point and click games like Discworld or Monty Python’s Complete Waste of Time. The quirky dialogue and references to past Monkey Island games would make Ron Gilbert proud.

The puzzles will offer players many a tough challenge. If you aim to try this game without a walkthrough, you’ll need a lot of patience. You’ll need to explore environments for any and all collectables. Personally, I used a walkthrough to solve the puzzles and I’m glad I did. The solutions were esoteric, to say the least.

The graphics offer rich environments and detailed character models. While they seem dated for a 2009 game, there is a retro charm to the graphics. From the island of Flotsam to the game’s finish in Purgatory, you’ll venture through distinct lands and eye-catching worlds that make this game stand out more than other Telltale releases.

The music and the voice-acting stay true to the game’s off-kilter sense of humor. Dominic Armato returns from Curse of Monkey Island as Guybrush Threepwood. Kevin Blackton is clearly having fun as the villainous LeChuck. Roger Jackson gives Reginald Van Winslow much bravado for a side character. Joining them are the VO talents of Alexandra Boyd, Alison Ewing, and Jared Emerson-Johnson. Michael Land provides the music score, but it lacks any memorable tracks, save for the main title theme and the theme for De Singe.

The controls for the game work the same as those in Back to the Future. Just like Back to the Future, there are some hiccups with the navigation of characters when the camera changes. After a while, you get used to it and it becomes second nature. Fortunately, you can use the shoulder buttons to navigate if need be.

If the games of LucasArts and Ron Gilbert were part of your early gaming experiences, you would do yourself a disservice by skipping out on this Telltale entry. Tales of Monkey Island stands as one of the first strong entries of the studio. If challenging puzzles and a sense of humor are all you need to pass the time, this is a ripe selection for you.

Dead Alive (1992)

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After Peter Jackson made a name for himself with the cult classic, Bad Taste, his follow-up was with Meet The Feebles. The film was met with mixed reactions. It was off-beat and weird, but gross and mean-spirited to a degree that it turned many viewers off. Jackson made a come back by going into familiar, gory waters with a film many consider to be one of the best zombie movies ever made.

Lionel is a mother’s boy. He’s stuck in a terrible living situation with his overbearing mum. One day, he meets a girl, Paquita, and they fall in love. Threatened by this, she spies on them. One day, they’re at the zoo and Lionel’s mum is bitten by the dreaded Sumatran Rat Monkey. This almost puts an end to their relationship as Lionel’s mum becomes deathly ill. Unfortunately, the bite turns her into a zombie.

Soon, more people are attacked and become zombies. Lionel’s uncle isn’t helping either. He eyes Lionel and hope to make off with the inheritance. To make matters worse, he finds out about the zombies and blackmails Lionel. During a house party held by the uncle, the zombies escape and all hell breaks loose. It leads to a bloody climax that must be seen to be believed.

Peter Jackson has said he’s been heavily influenced by Sam Raimi and the Evil Dead films. It shows in Dead Alive. Lionel goes through a similar character development as Bruce Campbell’s Ash, as he goes through a metamorphosis from weakling to dashing hero. The lawnmower scene surpasses any chainsaw moment and lays the blood thick. Much like Raimi, Jackson uses the gore as a means of comedy as much as for gross effect. Also, the camera angles during the horror sequences mirror those of Raimi’s director of photography, Bill Pope.

The cast is as much a motley crew as the characters they play. Timothy Balme as Lionel readily adapts between the comedy, horror, and romance elements of the plot. Diana Penalver as Paquita serves as a charming love interest. Elizabeth Moody and Ian Watkin steal the show in their respective roles as Lionel’s mum and uncle. Stuart Devenie, Jed Brophy, and Bill Ralston provide amusing bot performances. Daniel Sabic has one of the film’s best scenes in the whole film as the zombie baby in the park. Director Jackson has a cameo as the embalmer.

Even though Dead Alive was only his third film, Meet The Feebles felt like such a radical departure that Dead Alive felt that much more like a return to form. The comedic use of gore as well as the great cast make this film stand out in Jackson’s filmography. While he may be known as the director of Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, horror fans still hold his early work dearly.

TV Review: The 9th Doctor (Christopher Eccleston)

9th Doctor

For nearly a decade, I have been well aware of the pop culture cult phenomena known as Doctor Who. The show’s theme song by Ron Grainer was in heavy rotation of my music selections. I knew a few of the actors to play him in various media, ranging from Tom Baker, Peter Cushing, and Rowan Atkinson. In the past year and a half, my social circle has increased in the number of Whovians. It was only a matter of time before it sunk its claws into me. At my roommate’s suggestion, I started with the 9th Doctor, played by Christopher Eccleston.

Technically a re-boot of the series, we follow Rose (Billie Piper) as she travels with the Doctor (Eccleston) on various misadventures and tribulations. The pair go to the past, present, and future, encountering dangerous foes and strange characters, thanks to the time traveling machine known as the TARDIS. Robotic spiders, Cassandra the last living human, bizarre news broadcasts, and deadly game shows account for some of the more enjoyable episodes.

While I recommend watching the season as a whole, I can recommend specific episodes for those just wanting to dip their toe. In chronological order, “The Dalek” is a solid choice and serves as a proper introduction to one of the Doctor’s most infamous of his rogues gallery. “The Empty Child/The Doctor Dances” is a great two parter that features my favorite monsters of the Eccleston era: the gas mask zombies. Last, “Father’s Day” is one of the most heart-wrenching episodes and does an excellent job of developing Rose as a character.

Eccleston is a sheer joy to watch as the Doctor. He has a child-like glee and disarming charm. Yet, when needed, he can be very serious and aggressive when needed. Compared to his work in films like the Gone in 60 Seconds remake, 28 Days Later, G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra, and Thor: The Dark World, the Doctor stands as his best work.

I know people who complain about him only being on for one season. Who could blame him? He had a disagreement with how the employees of the show were being treated. How much can one take of seeing their co-workers frequently degraded? Sure, the show didn’t suffer for it and Eccleston had no trouble finding other work. Yet, if we had Eccleston longer, would we have had Tennant come in when he did?

Billie Piper as Rose was a great fit for Eccleston. But, I’m not gonna lie, she did get on my nerves at times. Those moments were few and far between, and she showed much dramatic range. Trying watching “Father’s Day” and not almost bawl out in tears. For all the sci-fi elements and cheesy aspects, Piper was the heart of the Eccleston era.

If there is one flaw with the show, its the effects can come off as obvious. These are often the case with the computer effects. The effects in Father’s Day are painfully obvious, but they don’t take away from the sincerity of the episode. Fortunately, the in-camera and physical effects were great. The X-Ray shots of the Dalek lasers and seeing real animatronics for the Daleks instead of CGI go miles farther than taking the Lucas approach.

If you’re new to the Doctor Who world like I am, the 9th Doctor is a solid place to start. Sure, you can try to go back to the beginning with William Hartnell, but I would stick to as close to contemporary Who before digging way back into the show’s history. You can easily find the 9th Doctor era on Netflix or for sale at various retailers.

Top Ten Wrestling Themes

As a fan of wrestling, music plays a big part in the experience. Whether it was the 80’s work of Jimmy “Mouth of the South” Hart to the 90’s work of Jim Johnston, theme music is an integral element. ECW continued the method of the territories of using real music for the entrance of the wrestlers.

Another aspect to theme music is that while one may not like the wrestler, the theme music can add some degree of appeal. This applies vice versa as well. That will be part of this list as I countdown my picks for favorite wrestling theme songs.

Feel free to reply with your selections of your favorite theme songs.

10 – Brutus “the Barber” Beefcake

Granted, I am not the biggest fan of Brutus Beefcake. Yet, I can’t deny how sick that bassline in his theme song. Its got the synth melody with a backing guitar riff. It added a lot to his entrance and his strutting to the ring complimented the theme song.

9 – AC/DC: “Big Balls” (Balls Mahoney)

With the budget that ECW had, wrestlers had to involve the crowd with their entrances in place of pyro and a big screen. While Rob Van Dam had “breath, sweat, walk,” Balls Mahoney had the most involving entrance theme that the crowd ate up. Hearing the crowd sing “We’ve got the biggest balls of them all” gives me chills just reminiscing of it.

8 – Chris Jericho

No question, this song is connected with one of the greatest WWE debuts of all-time. When Jericho first appeared on WWE television, this song blasted with his name on the titantron and the crowd exploded. There is a swagger to this track that fits the Y2J persona. Credit to Jim Johnston for creating a track that fits the wrestler it was made for.

7 – Dr. Dre & Ice Cube: “Natural Born Killaz” (New Jack)

I am not the biggest fan of rap music, but this song feels as if it was made for New Jack and I really like it. This is probably the only case where a theme song played through an entire match for a wrestler. This added so much to New Jack’s matches that when removed really kills the momentum.

6 – Stone Cold Steve Austin

Sure, the Rock gets a huge pop when his music hits. But, Austin still garnered the biggest pop when his music hit. When his music hit, starting with that sick glass-breaking, some serious crap was about to go down. To think, all Austin said to Jim Johnston was that he wanted a song like Rage Against the Machine’s “Bulls on Parade.” The rest is history.

5 – Randy Orton “Burn Inside My Light”

I hate hate hate hate Randy Orton’s “Voices in my Head” theme. This doesn’t fit the persona Orton has. This is befitting an emo take on Al Snow’s head gimmick. But, “Burn Inside My Light” is a genuinely awesome track. Plus, it has this bravado that works with Orton’s entrance mannerisms. But, “Voices in my Head” just has nothing for Orton.

4 – Metallica: Enter Sandman (The Sandman)

Much like New Jack, you couldn’t find a theme song/wrestler pairing as fitting as this. Granted, the man couldn’t wrestle for the life of him. However, he knew how to make an entrance. Hearing the crowd sing along as Sandman made his way to the ring is an experience where you had to be there. Watching it on TV or the dreadful WWE Network, and the magic is not there.

3 – Jimi Hendrix: “Voodoo Child (Slight Return)” (Hollywood Hulk Hogan)

Sure, the nWo had its share of good theme music. The main theme as well as the Wolfpac rap theme, but licensing this Jimi Hendrix made for an unforgettable entrance. Seeing Hogan play the championship belt as a guitar with this track belting in the arena encompassed the cool of wrestling in the 90’s. There was an edge that is sorely lacking today. Yeah, Hogan may forever be affiliated with “Real American,” but “Voodoo Child” drew a lot of people in.

2 – Mick Foley/Mankind

This is one of the few instances where WWE was able to mirror the ECW mantra of music fitting the wrestler, but without using a licensed song. You watch a highlight reel of Mick Foley matches and you’re literally watching a man crash and burn himself through anything and everything. Watching a Foley match was like watching a car crash, the theme song captures that notion perfectly.

1 – The Undertaker

The Deadman has gone through a number of different theme songs through his career. Kid Rock’s “American Badass” and his early theme modeled from the Chopin’s Funeral March were good, but his re-arranged theme for the Attitude Era had the cadence of the character. This was a repackaging of the character and needed a theme to fit. Just go back and give this a listen. It still stands today as one of the greatest theme songs for a wrestler.

The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

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Victorian England was an interesting period in Britain, full of hypocrisy. While Charles Dickens was publishing novels with high morals, he would often solicit prostitutes. The Royal Family was believed to be involved in the Jack the Ripper murders to hide a bastard heir to the throne. One author had his finger on the throbbing, sanctimonious pulse of the time. He was guilty himself of a number of indiscretions, yet lessened by a lack of self-righteousness.

Oscar Wilde’s supernatural tale centers on a vain, young man, Dorian Gray. Upon looking at a recent portrait, he wished for the painting to age in place of him. In the beginning, nothing happens. The picture is set aside and Dorian goes on with his everyday life.

At this time, Dorian is courting a young actress who tires of working on the stage. She decides to quit after giving a purposely bad performance. Unfortunately, Dorian is in the audience and it is known the two of them are seeing each other. Dorian is mortified of her. After the performance, he shares his discontent and breaks up with her, leaving her crying and alone. The next day, word gets out of her suicide.

While Dorian washes his hands of the matter, blood stains appear on the hands of his portrait. As time goes by, Dorian’s image ages. For every ill-deed, another sign of consequence shows on the picture. Dorian continues to live his existence, disregarding the haunting sight of the painting.

The Picture of Dorian Gray is a surprisingly dark piece of Victorian literature, much different from other works by Wilde. Wilde was noted for his comedic plays like The Importance of Being Earnest, this novel stands as an anomaly. With its supernatural themes, this novel is regarded as one of the best 19th century works of horror. It stands up there alongside the likes of Dracula and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Wilde maintains a steady pace throughout the novel. Dorian’s deconstructive arc as he progresses through his immortal existence makes for some frightening mental imagery. We see him adopt a lower profile in society, as maintaining a public persona would net unwanted attention. The state we see him near the end of the novel is dramatically different, yet yields itself appropriately for this morality tale.

If there was one issue with the novel, its one of the chapters, either 12 or 13. The chapter focuses on a vase in Dorian’s house. The narrator goes into extensive detail about the history of the artifact, how it has been all over the world and in possession of royalty. Yet, it is to have its place in Dorian’s home, as opposed to a museum, merely because it looks nice.

While taking place in Victorian England, the relevancy of the message still stands to this day. Being in a position of wealth or having physical beauty doesn’t excuse one from practicing human decency towards others. Sadly, this is a message that appears to be lost on many of the affluent. The Picture of Dorian Gray is a horror novel that emphasizes the evil that can be committed by human monsters. Its one of the few Victorian works that has aged gracefully and not feeling dated.

Cannibal Apocalypse (1982)

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This edition’s film is an interesting twist on the cannibal sub-genre of horror that serves as an intriguing commentary on the aftermath of Vietnam. While it may not take place in the wilderness of Southeast Asia, the animal savagery is still fitting in the concrete jungles of Atlanta, GA. Let’s look at Antonio Margheriti’s Cannibal Apocalypse.

The film opens with Norman Hopper (John Saxon) looking for POWs through the dangerous jungles of Vietnam. After a brief exchange with enemy combatants, Hopper finds a pair of prisoners, Charlie and Tom (played respectively by John Morghen and Tony King). Tom lunges at Norman and bites him in the arm.

Norman wakes up from a nightmare that replays the incident. Norman has been fighting uncertain urges ever since returning from combat. When Charlie re-enters the picture, Norman tries to be more resistant to these unknown tendencies. At the same time, he is the target of affection to a neighbor’s daughter.

After biting a girl at a movie theater, Charlie is on the run from the police and a biker gang. A stand-off at a mini-mall ensues with Norman being called in to calm Charlie down. When Charlie is brought to a psychiatric ward, he scratches a nurse. She starts showing similar signs and quirks that Norman was seen to experience at the start of the film. As people around Norman fall prey to cannibalistic tendencies, can he continue to resist them?

Director Antonio Margheriti benefits from a game cast and an interesting script from screenwriter Dardano Sacchetti. Its easy to see why Tarantino loves this film. It has over-the-top characters, shocking violence, and swift editing. Plus, there is some interesting insight that lightly comments on the ordeals of returning veterans trying to assimilate back into society, attempting to regain some semblance of a normal life, below the gory surface

Saxon and Morghen stand out in the cast. Saxon is great as a character in constant flux. Morghen steals the show as the wily veteran who has long given in to his cannibal urges. Tony King, Elizabeth Turner, May Heatherly, and Wallace Wilkinson provide strong supporting performances.

Make-up effects artist Gino De Rossi provides the typical cannibal gore with edible breasts, severing limbs, and plenty of blood. This film also contains a scene that is right up there with the eye-splinter scene from Zombie and the breast-tearing in Living Dead at Manchester Morgue. A character has a hole blown right through themselves. We see the hole in the body as well as the face of the actor in the same shot. This moment, alone, makes for a great case of why there should still be practical effects in horror films instead of CGI.

The music in the film by Alexander Blonksteiner is an interesting mix. You have a disco funk track in additional to the Goblinesque Moog synthesizer mixed with Ecuadorian percussion. The best track would be the theme played during the opening sequence with a symphony-accompanied funk sound like it was ripped from an episode of The A-Team.

Cannibal Apocalypse is a welcoming change of pace for those who want a cannibal film that breaks away from the emerald infernos seen in Holocaust or Ferox. It clips along at a fast pace and the 96 minutes fly by. With the ever-capable Saxon as the lead, one of the best gore effects ever pulled off by De Rossi, a script by Sacchetti, and Margheriti’s direction, Cannibal Apocalypse is a noteworthy addition to horror viewing festivities.

Wolfenstein: The New Order (PS3)

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After years and years of video games with Nazis as the bad guys, one can imagine there is a discontent among gamers over the lack of original enemies in games. Ever since the original Wolfenstein 3-D made killing Nazis fun, as well as introducing the first person shooter genre, numerous titles have pitted players against virtual Reichs. Just when you think Nazi-blasting has lost its charm, the originator makes it fun again!

Its 1946 and World War II is still raging on. William “B.J.” Blazkowicz is part of an assault on a key Nazi stronghold. If the offense fails, then Germany gets the upperhand. The assault fails and Blazkowicz is knocked into a coma. For 13 years, he is in a comatose state, taking residence in a Polish asylum. One day, the Nazis arrive and start killing people. Here, B.J.’s combat instincts return and he takes the fight to the Nazis.

Taking cues from the Fallout series and last year’s Bioshock Infinite, Wolfenstein: The New Order has fun with its alternate history setting. You wake up in 1960 to find the Nazis won the war, nuking NYC into making the US surrender. Fortunately, there is an underground resistance that is taking the fight to the Nazis. Along the way, you’ll read newspaper clippings filling you in on the history you missed out. You find music recordings of popular songs, adapted for the alternate history of the game. Imagine if Inglourious Basterds with the scope of Blade Runner, you get Wolfenstein: The New Order.

One nice touch is the upgrading system based on how you play. Playing stealthy gives you perks to benefit that style. If you’re a guns a-blazing type, there are perks for you to earn as well. You can also get perks for going crazy with the grenades. While I do like the perks for stealth, just wasting everyone in sight proved to be too much fun to pass up.

Visually, the game is wonderful. The murky gray of the battlefields are a nice contrast to the rich colors of the asylum. Each environment has its own distinct feel. The character models are full of detail. Despite the occasional jerky animation, its fluid and eye-catching. The weapons, both past, present, and future look to have real weight when wielded.

Audio-wise, the game offers a near-cinematic experience. The score by Mick Gordon has contemporary sensibilities of film composers like Alan Silvestri and James Horner. The altered history pop music recalls Tony Bambino’s contributions to Bioshock Infinite. Die Kafer’s Beatle-esque “Mond Mond Ja Ja” is one of my go-to selections from the game.

The voice acting surprisingly plays the material straight, which works to the game’s advantage. Voice acting veteran Brian Bloom brings a cold, distant tone to Blazkowicz, but can put on the charm and humor to add appeal to the character. Alicja Bachleda is the heart of the game as Anya, the other survivor of the asylum massacre. Dwight Schultz of TV’s The A-Team brings on the ham as the Nazi mad scientist, Wilhelm “Deathshead” Strasse.

The controls handle well enough. The only issue I had was when I threw grenades when I didn’t want to. That was just me getting used to these particular shooting controls. Other than that, the game plays smoothly enough. Aiming is easy and accurate with weapons, absent are the accuracy issues of Dead Island or Call of Juarez: Gunslinger.

As for flaws with the game, I’m hard-pressed to really think of any. If you’re not a fan of first person shooters, this may not be the game for you. But, after the numerous disappointments like Duke Nukem Forever and Aliens: Colonial Marines or homogenizing the genre like Call of Duty has, its great to see a classic-inspired shooter go back to its roots and not mess it up.

If you’ve grown tired of Nazis blitzkrieging into all the video games, I suggest giving this one a try. It may change your mind like it did mine. You won’t be bored and will relish to explore this piece of altered history. With solid controls, great audio, sharp graphics, and intriguing plot, Wolfenstein: The New Order stands as one of the best games of the year.

The Lost Continent (1969)

lost continent

Hammer has made a reputation for bringing on the blood and sex approach to horror. The famed studio seemed to revel in breaking that notion of social repression. Hammer took some of the classic monsters of Universal and brought them back in glorious color. Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee were the faces of the company. When the studio wasn’t making period horror, they would venture into realms of a most bizarre nature.

A group of travelers are on a cruise out of Freetown, Sierra Leone. Little do they know their captain is smuggling a dangerous explosive in yellow containers known as Phosphor B. This is a different kind of explosive. Instead of a spark, water sets it off. The captain makes it clear to his crew to avoid the customs agents as they exit through the shipping lanes.

Not long after their getaway and a shocking mutiny, they find themselves venturing through water filled with dangerous seaweed. This is only the beginning of their unpredictable trip. They encounter a giant octopus and a freakish crab. A group of natives walk over the seaweed tied to balloons filled with a gas lighter than air. They encounter a clan of fanatical inquisitors led by a child who claims to be a messenger of God.

The script by director Michael Carreras, under the pseudonym Michael Nash and based on Dennis Wheatley’s novel Uncharted Seas, recalls some of the more wild works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Jules Verne. The Lost World, Mysterious Island, and Journey to the Center of the Earth are among the clear inspirations for this film. The joy is seeing this film for the first time and being wowed by how unusual it is. However, because of that the movie doesn’t stand up to repeat viewings.

Another problem with this film is the lack of a main character. There really isn’t someone in the audience to relate to. This also extends to the absence of a memorable performance. Despite having a talented actor like Nigel Stock (Young Sherlock Holmes) and someone as stunningly beautiful as Dana Gillespie, none of the actors stand out. Lacking someone iconic like Cushing or Lee hurts the film.

Considering the film’s subject matter, this film was likely made because other films may not have done so well. This was the case with another odd movie, Hausu. Toho Studios made that particular film because the movies that made sense didn’t sell tickets. Making The Lost Continent may have been due to audiences no longer interested in the same monster movies as Hammer was accustomed to making.

The set design by Arthur Lawson and the costuming by Carl Toms must have been a field day for them. Even if the movie doesn’t make a lot of sense, its still interesting and visually arresting. The environments and costumes are professional grade. Adding the cinematography of Paul Beeson and the film is just as well shot as the more notable Hammer films.

While this film may not be to everyone’s taste, its worth seeing just once just for how weird it is. If you’re looking for a Hammer film off the path beaten by Dracula and Van Helsing, then this might be the film you’re looking for. Much like Vampire Circus or Blood from the Mummy’s Tomb, its not the first film one thinks of with regards to Hammer but they are effective films nonetheless.