Nick Durham

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GAME REVIEW: Doom 3: BFG Edition (2012)

GAME REVIEW: Doom 3: BFG Edition (2012)

Doom 3: BFG Edition
(PS3, XBOX 360)

By Nick Durham

I usually don't play first person shooters. I've never been one to hop on board the Call of Duty or Halo bandwagons, and I more than likely never will either. For me, it takes a lot for me to dive into an FPS, an awful lot, which is strange because in my youth, I loved these fucking games. Granted the play mechanics of them were much simpler back then compared to how they are now. I played the hell out of Duke Nukem 3D, Quake, Wolfenstein 3D, etc...but there was always one game (and franchise) in particular that spoke to me more than all of them put together.

Mother. Fucking. Doom.

Like many others, I played Doom until my eyes bled, then I'd wipe away the tears, and play some more. This would continue for years, because somehow I'd never get tired of Doom, and I still don't to this very day. In 2004, after what seemed like eons, we finally got Doom 3, which upped the ante in terms of its technical aspects compared to its two predecessors, and is undoubtedly one of the scariest games of its era. In 2012, id Software released Doom 3: BFG Edition, which features a remastered take on the 2004 title, along with its Resurrection of Evil expansion, and throws in the classic Doom and Doom II along with their various expansions for good measure as well.

This remastered take on Doom 3 looks glorious and fucking terrifying. One thing that the game originally had going for it quite a bit was its lighting effects that were optimized to hide enemies, have them jump out at you, and scare the holy living shit out of you to boot. There's very few new elements crafted into the gameplay, such as using your flashlight while still holding a weapon, but that's pretty much it. The game's engine remains the same with no changes/updates, which is fine because there really don't need to be any. The game still ends up being as enjoyable now as it was back then.

There's also a shit load of content thrown in here for good measure. As I mentioned before, other than getting a remastered take on Doom 3, you get the Resurrection of Evil expansion, as well as a new single-player The Lost Mission pack. Combine that with the original Doom (technically the Ultimate Doom version, but whatever) and Doom II (with the No Rest for the Living pack), and you have one hell of an overall package that is more than worth its price tag. Speaking of price tags, since this came out in 2012, you can easily find this for less than 20 bucks, which is a total fucking steal.

All in all, having a remastered take on Doom 3 is one thing, but having it included in this package that features so much great content is a total fucking steal. It's good value for your money if you still have a last-gen console and want to scare yourself shitless, so you really have no excuse to do so. Seriously, stop reading this and go pick up Doom 3: BFG Edition. You won't regret it one bit.

Rating: 5/5

Posted by Alan Smithee in GAME REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments

BLU-RAY REVIEW: Corruption (1968)

By Nick Durham

Corruption

Did you know Peter Cushing was once in a film where he played a semi-crazed plastic surgeon who goes on a spree murdering young women in an effort to harvest their glands to preserve his younger fiancé's damaged face? If I told you any of that, would you even believe me? Well guess what guys, it's true. Peter Cushing, known as one of the classiest thespians ever in the horror genre, starred in this little known flick that provided ample amounts of blood and boobs. Thanks to the good folks at Grindhouse Releasing, now we can call see Corruption in its wonderful, depraved, swingin' 60s glory.

As said already, Cushing plays a jealous plastic surgeon named John Rowan, whose hot model fiancé (Sue Lloyd) suffers a nasty facial injury. Feeling responsible, Rowan believes he knows a way to fix the damage, a method which involves harvesting the skin glands of voluptuous young ladies of course. What follows is lots of blood and boobs, and just the right amount of enjoyable schlock gets packed in without the film itself ever feeling like absolute filth, if that makes any sense at all.

Never before seen uncut in the U.S., Grindhouse has happily given us Corruption in all its nasty glory. Hell, I do believe that this is actually the first home video release of Corruption here in the States at all. It's funny watching it now, because even when it gets to its nastiest moments, the film isn't as graphic as one may think it is. Granted that the time this came out I'm sure it ruffled enough feathers, but even in its silliest and nastiest moments, Corruption manages to have a small touch of class attached to it. This is mostly because of having Cushing in the lead villainous role. I couldn't imagine that he was super comfortable in the role, but the man was a total pro, and he's wonderful here as the main attraction. In fact, the cast as a whole is pretty damn good, which also includes Vampire Lovers hottie Kate O'Mara as well.

Grindhouse Releasing, which has managed to supply us with wonderful releases and re-releases of little-known or lost films with tons of extras and care, has really delivered with this Blu-ray release of Corruption as well. There're two versions of the film as well as vintage and new interviews, an audio commentary that features Cushing's biographer David Miller, awesome reversible case cover artwork, and tons more. Needless to say, this deserves to be in your collection, especially if you're a Cushing fan.

All in all, Corruption is a surprisingly little known film that deserves your time and attention. It's also another wonderful example of what makes Grindhouse Releasing so awesome in terms of releasing little-known vintage films on modern physical media. Like I said before, Corruption deserves your time, and you need to pick it up. You won't regret it.

Rating: 5/5

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
EDITORIAL: Why We Need Resident Evil 2 HD Remastered

EDITORIAL: Why We Need Resident Evil 2 HD Remastered

By Nick Durham

A while ago I reviewed Capcom's Resident Evil HD Remastered, which wound up being a supremely enjoyable HD take on the classic first installment of the long running survival horror franchise. The game was a smash hit and made Capcom a shitload of money in the process, so immediately fans were hoping that maybe we'd finally get an HD remaster of Resident Evil 2.

Well, lo and behold, we're getting it.

Resident Evil 2 HD Remastered is coming. Who knows exactly when, but it's coming. It's about damn time too, considering we've had about umpteen remakes of the original Resident Evil as it is, but never a true new take on the classic first sequel (and no, the Dreamcast and Gamecube ports of Resident Evil 2 don't count either). Ever since the idea was planted in my head that this could become a reality, my mind has been running a mile a minute thinking about how amazing it could be given the new technology of today.

Just think back to the first time you played Resident Evil 2. Remember the first encounter with the Licker? Or finding the police station? Or trekking through the underground? Or the final showdown shortly before Raccoon City gets nuked off the face of the Earth? Imagine re-living all of that with a fresh coat of HD paint. Hell, imagine the game with a re-done control scheme that discards the dreaded tank controls of yesteryear. We could have something really special on our hands folks.

Now I know that having an HD take on Resident Evil 2 is going to sell really well. Probably so well that Capcom decides to do an HD remaster of Resident Evil 3: Nemesis (which I can almost guarantee will happen some time in the future). As a gamer, I know first hand that no one knows how to beat a dead horse better than Capcom does (except for maybe EA, but I digress), so they could keep on remastering various installments in the franchise all they want, but what I'm hoping happens is that maybe we'll see the franchise as a whole return with new installments that go back to the true survival horror roots of the series.

Back in the day, Resident Evil defined survival horror. Conserving ammo, saves, and health packs/healing plants to make it through the game was the way it had to go to survive. Resident Evil 4 changed the franchise forever with a more action-oriented approach to mix with the scares, and it winded up being one of the best games of its era. Resident Evil 5 and the recent Resident Evil 6...well, they just weren't. They were such departures from what we've come to love about the series that we started to forget what made this franchise so fucking good in the first place. Resident Evil 2 HD Remastered can put us on the right track, and thanks to the first remaster game, it looks like we're already on our way there.

Get ready my people, we're going back to Raccoon City one more time. One more time of a refreshing take on the epic zombie survival horror series that changed everything back in the day. Strap yourselves in folks, shit's about to get awesome once again.

Well, hopefully anyway.

Posted by Alan Smithee in EDITORIALS, 0 comments

MOVIE REVIEW: Last House on The Left (1972)

By Nick Durham

the-last-house-on-the-left-1972-00-650-75
With the passing of Wes Craven, I've been going back through a number of his films that I haven't seen in a while. With that in mind, please know that I mean no disrespect to the man at all with the words you're about to read here about his infamous debut feature film. Anyone who knows me well knows my feelings about The Last House on the Left, and in retrospect, it's easy to see why, too, especially when you watch this movie again if you haven't seen it in a long time.

Keeping all that in mind, I'll say here and now (and again for anyone that actually knows me) that I fucking hate this movie so much. I really, truly do. I hate everything about it (almost). From the super out of place goofy interludes featuring bumbling Podunk cops, to the flat out atrocious dialogue, I despise this movie and I'm not afraid to say it. Not one fucking bit.

All that being said now, I will also say here and now that I respect Wes Craven's original The Last House on the Left, because despite how much I shit on it, it remains a powerful film that was a product of its time. It also set the beginning stage for one of the biggest and most revered directors in modern horror history. So yes, I respect this movie and loathe it all in the same breath.

You all know the film's synopsis by now, so there's no need for me to go through it again. What I will say is that this re-working of Ingmar Bergman's The Virgin Spring still manages to pack a punch all these years later believe it or not. That scene where Mari, knowing she's going to die after being brutalized by Krug and his crew, walks out into the lake and awaits being shot to death, is truly a powerful piece of filmmaking. The late David Hess, who would end up making a career out of playing sick fucks, is a terrifying villain. Other than those two pieces of the film, I can't stand the rest of it. To this very day, I still can't.

Now, as a die hard horror nut, I've seen much worse films that feature much more graphic cruelty and violence, but I have a hard time watching rape scenes in ANY film. I often get a lot of shit from fellow horror fans/friends of mine because I won't watch A Serbian Film or the August Underground flicks. I just can't do it and I fucking refuse to as well. With The Last House on the Left, the brutality on display here is relatively tame compared to what we've seen in the years to come since its 1972 release, but it's the way the film is shot that has always made it so disturbing to me. The film's low budget and Craven's ingenuity give it an almost pseudo-documentary feel, much like Tobe Hooper would do with The Texas Chainsaw Massacre just a couple of years later. That gritty sense of realism makes it all the more disturbing. I can mostly deal with that, but when you get the aforementioned scenes of bumbling idiot cops (complete with bumbling idiot music), the overall effect gets lost. You wind up thinking to yourself, "what the fuck am I watching? Is this a super dark comedy or some shit?"

So yeah, that's my thoughts on Wes Craven's The Last House on the Left. No matter my feelings towards it, I have the utmost respect for it, and I always will. Thankfully Craven would end up refining his style and churning out some genre classics that we all know and love, but everything began here with The Last House on the Left. That alone is reason enough for you to see it if you've never dived into it before, but don't expect to keep it around for repeat viewings.

My honest rating: 2/5

Legacy rating: 4/5

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
BOOK REVIEW: The Scarlet Gospels (2015)

BOOK REVIEW: The Scarlet Gospels (2015)

By Nick Durham

scarlet
Clive, what the fuck?

I want to start by saying that I am a Clive Barker fanatic. In my youth when I first started reading horror, aside from Stephen King, Clive Barker was one of the names I'd heard get thrown around the most. I had seen Hellraiser long before I ever read The Hellbound Heart, but once I did it didn't take long before I had read all through his published works. Barker has been and forever will be beloved by me, so much so that I'd even put him above King on my list of favorite horror authors. The man is a true master of horror literature.

Or at least he was.

I've been looking forward to The Scarlet Gospels for what seems like years. In fact, it doesn't just seem like years, it has literally been years (actually well over a decade) since Barker himself teased this unholy face-off between paranormal detective Harry D'Amour and Pinhead. An unholy face-off between the two that would spell the end for one, or possibly both, characters that we've all come to love over the years. Good fucking lord, such an epic showdown would truly be something special that will as revered in the years to come as much as The Hellbound Heart and most of what's contained in the Books of Blood volumes.

I am very sad to say that it doesn't work out that way, if at all.

First of all, I'm going to try and not delve into too many spoilers, because I'm not a dick (I'm lying, I totally am). With that in mind, be warned, because things may get a little spoiler-y regardless. Don't say I didn't warn you.

Anyway, the novel gets off to a flat-out fantastic start where we learn that various magicians all over the world have been reaching incredibly grisly demises at the hands of Pinhead, who mostly gets referred to as the "Hell Priest" here (truth be told, Barker himself always kind of hated the name "Pinhead", so this is kind of a nice little in-joke here). The opening chapter of The Scarlet Gospels is simply brilliant. It's vintage Barker, with an imaginative set-up, and some disgusting pay-offs. I don't want to give too much away, I really don't...you just have to read it to believe it. Trust me, it's awesome.

After that though, things are mostly downhill. We catch up with Harry and his blind medium friend Norma, as Harry takes on a job that turns out to be a fairly predictable trap that puts him in Pinhead's sights. Before we know it, both Harry and Norma, along with a small crew of their compatriots (or "Harrowers" as they end up getting referred to) are headed straight to Hell...figuratively and literally. This is where I have some of the biggest problems with The Scarlet Gospels. I had really looked forward to reading Barker's take on Hell, because I figured that at the least it'd be unique. Sadly, it just isn't. It's not awful or anything mind you, it all just comes off as meh. His vision of Hell and the denizens therein are just plain boring. Seriously, it feels like more of a chore reading through his descriptions of the inner-workings of Hell, and that flat out kills any momentum that has been garnered by the time we get to this point.

Another problem with the novel, at least for me anyway, are many of the characterizations and dialogue. Harry and Norma come off as well-written as they always have been, but the rest of Harry's Harrowers are two-dimensional, cookie-cutter caricatures. The cookie-cutter caricatures mostly refer to Harry's pal Caz as well as the precognitive Dale, who, once they meet, just totally become gay caricatures. Considering Barker himself is gay, and has usually written gay characters wonderfully in the past, this is a massive disappointment. In fact, whenever Caz and Dale converse with each other or about each other at all, it's kind of mind-numbing.

While I'm on the subject of characterizations, what the fuck is up with Pinhead? We never really get a clear motivation as to why he's doing what he's doing, or why he really needs Harry to be his "witness" to his deeds. We also are never really given a clear reason as to why he wants to usurp Lucifer or much else either. This is one of the story elements that you can just tell had so much left on the cutting room floor. It has been said before that so much had been excised from the original product that I would love to read a sort of "director's cut" of this if it would ever see the light of day. I truly hope that one day such a thing happens, but I'm not really counting on it to be totally honest. I kind of think that we should all be glad that The Scarlet Gospels has finally seen the light of day at all.

Now I know it sounds like I'm shitting all over it, and I kind of am because I've been looking forward to The Scarlet Gospels for so fucking long now, but the end result isn't the abortion I may be painting it to be. A majority of the novel is entertaining, and a showdown between Pinhead and Lucifer and the fallout that follows, is entertaining enough. It's just that the finished product is so disappointing considering the years of hype. Maybe that shouldn't be such a surprise, because when something gets hyped up like this for this many years, it'll never meet anyone's expectations.

So yeah, The Scarlet Gospels isn't what I'd hoped it would be. Like I said before, it isn't bad, not one bit...but it is still pretty disappointing considering what we've seen from Clive Barker in the past. I'd say still check it out though regardless. It's worth reading, just don't expect it to be as wonderful as you might hope it to be.

Rating: 2.5/5

Posted by Alan Smithee in BOOKS, COMICS, AND PUBLICATION REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments

BLU-RAY REVIEW: Spider Baby (1968)

By Nick Durham

spider baby
There're a lot of films I've seen over the years that have managed to make me say out loud, "What the fuck did I just watch?" Spider Baby is one of them. From exploitation director extraordinaire Jack Hill (who would go on to direct Foxy Brown, Coffy, and one of my all time personal favorites in Switchblade Sisters) and featuring the legendary Lon Chaney, Jr. in one of his last roles, Spider Baby is a nasty little gem and an underappreciated classic.

Chaney plays Bruno: a guardian and caretaker for three siblings who suffer from a strange genetic disorder that causes them to de-evolve. Bruno has always had his hands full, but things soon become a bit more complicated when some distant relatives show up to the decrepit mansion they all live in to claim the property. What happens next is some pretty nasty shit, with sanity and various body parts lost in the process.

Darkly humorous and peppered with some very freaky moments, Spider Baby is a treat. The performances from Chaney and the three siblings (which features a young Sid Haig!) are wonderful and somehow still terrifying to this very day. Granted some elements of the film itself haven't aged all that well, but it still manages to be an effective little piece of trash regardless. Originally filmed in 1964, the film didn't get officially released until 1968, and went through a whole lot of different titles in the process as well. Thanks to midnight showings over the years and word of mouth, Spider Baby has managed to become a beloved film of the era, and continues to be discovered and re-discovered as the years go by.

I know I've raved about other releases from Arrow Films before, but their release of Spider Baby is another wonderful Blu-ray package. The picture quality has been remastered, with it's stark black and white cinematography looking simply beautiful. There's a feature length commentary from Jack Hill and Sid Haig, as well as Hill's 1960 short film The Host (also starring Haig) included here as well. There's a panel discussion on the film from 2012, a rarely seen alternate opening sequence, new interviews, video of Hill revisiting the old house the movie was filmed in, and the typical collectors booklet that all Arrow releases include, among other features packed in here as well.

Like I said before, Spider Baby is a supremely underrated exploitation/horror film from an era where films like this were rarely seen. This release of it from Arrow Films is a must have for collectors and aficionados of this type of wonderful trash. Do yourself a favor, pick it up...even if you've never seen it. You won't be disappointed.

Rating: 5/5

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
BLU-RAY REVIEW: Contamination (1980)

BLU-RAY REVIEW: Contamination (1980)

By Nick Durham

contamination

My trek through European splatter trash will never end.

Contamination is, as you can probably tell just from the cover, a 1980 Italian rip-off of Ridley Scott's classic Alien, which had achieved monumental success just a year prior. Armed with probably about a quarter of the budget (if I'm being generous) of the budget Alien had, Contamination is a super trashy and cheap cash-in on a much more revered film, much like Bruno Mattei's Hell of the Living Dead is a bonafide Dawn of the Dead rip-off, only this is directed by the guy that made the sci-fi shitfest Star Wars rip off known as Starcrash, and a really shitty Hercules movie starring Lou fucking Ferrigno. Even though it sounds like I'm shitting on Contaminationin this opening paragraph, believe it or not, I have a love for this Italian-branded fecal matter, and Arrow Films has blessed us once again with a beautiful Blu-ray release of the film.

The film's storyline, and I use the term loosely, revolves around a ship drifting into harbor containing a shitload of strange eggs. The eggs of course, are alien in nature, and explode, disgustingly mutilating anyone around them. Turns out there was a mission to Mars sometime prior, and the one drunken astronaut that returned may have some clues as to why these things are on Earth. What follows is a plot to destroy humanity, and quite possibly one of the most laughably awful movie monsters in the history of celluloid.

I know it sounds like I am shitting on Contamination, but I'm doing so out of love. I've always had a soft spot for this film. I know it's bad, I know it's cheap, I know it isn't anything you're likely to remember fondly...but goddammit, I adore it. It attained its fair share of notoriety upon its original release, being labeled as one of the infamous Video Nasties in its day, due to the exploding splatter effects shown mostly in slow motion. The effects, while ridiculously fake looking, are somehow a sight to behold. I know that sounds like it makes no sense, but trust me, watch it. There's also a soundtrack provided by Goblin (!) that is absolutely wonderful.

The Blu-ray rlease from Arrow Films features a bevy of special features that we've come to expect from the label. There's a commentary from super fan and filmmaker Chris Alexander, new documentaries and interviews with director Luigi Cozzi and star Ian McCulloh (who you know from Fulci's Zombie among other splatterfests of the day), a collector's booklet, and even a digital graphic novel based on the film's original screenplay. That's only a handful of what all is in this package, and it is glorious.

All in all, it shouldn't be much of a surprise that Arrow Films has provided us with another wonderful release of a wonderful piece of trash from yesteryear. This Blu-ray is a wonderful addition to your collection if any of what I described of the film seems to be up your alley at all. As for the film itself, Contamination is a gloriously goofy and entertaining Alien rip-off that represents what makes this type of Eurotrash so enjoyable. Pick this up.

Rating: 4.5/5

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments

In Praise of Grindhouse Releasing

By Nick Durham

grindhouse releasing

One thing that horror fans have over fans of nearly any other film genre is the quality of the physical media release, in this case Blu-ray and DVD. You know The Criterion Collection? That line of films that feature a bevy of special features and picture restoration and are kind of pricey? Criterion features plenty of films that are worth your time (and somehow Michael Bay's Armageddon...I'm dead fucking serious) and even has a few surprising horror entries in their lineup as well (Videodrome, Naked Lunch, Don't Look Now). That being said, aside from maybe Arrow Films and Scream Factory to a lesser extent, no one delivers in terms of deluxe horror and genre releases like Grindhouse Releasing.

Co-founded by film editor Bob Murawski and the late Sage (son of Sylvester) Stallone, Grindhouse Releasing has picked up and distributed some super rare or in some cases never before seen films for small theatrical releases and Blu-ray/DVD releases as well. These range from grindhouse cinema classics like Cannibal Holocaust and The Beyond to shit you've never heard of like The Swimmer and Gone with the Pope. There're other films in their lineup (not all horror either), some which may sound familiar to you, including Cannibal Ferox, Massacre Mafia Style, Corruption, An American Hippie in Israel, The Big Gundown, Pieces, Cat in the Brain, and I Drink Your Blood. Hell of a lineup right?

I had mentioned Arrow Films and Scream Factory earlier. While both those labels are favorites of mine and offer some quality releases, a majority of the films featured on either label have something in common: we've heard of most of them at the very least. That's not the case with a majority of Grindhouse's lineup. While yes, we've all heard of Cannibal Holocaust, Cannibal Ferox, and The Beyond; is there anyone that remembered Corruption? Hell, I love Peter Cushing and I never even heard of it let alone knew of its existence. Imagine the shock on my face when I realized one of the classiest men in horror starred in a film where he was killing young women to supply his wife what she needed to maintain her appearance, and that there were tits aplenty. It's things like that that really separate Grindhouse Releasing from the rest of the pack.

I could go on and on about Grindhouse Releasing, but I won't. Not because I don't want to, but only because they offer films that deserve your attention. The fact that they painstakingly restore and re-release these little known films for wide audiences today is a beautiful thing indeed. We should all take the time to love and appreciate what they've done not only for horror fans, but for the genre as a whole.

Posted by Alan Smithee in EDITORIALS, STAFF PICKS, 0 comments
BLU-RAY REVIEW: Island of Death (1976)

BLU-RAY REVIEW: Island of Death (1976)

By Nick Durham

islandofdeath

 

What the fuck did I just watch?

That was my initial reaction to Island of Death upon my first viewing, I really didn't know what to make of it in terms of thinking it was "good" or a flaming pile of shit. Usually I base a film falling into either category on how much enjoyment I got out of it, but for a movie like Island of Death, garnering any kind of enjoyment out of it doesn't reflect on whether it's good, or whether it's shit. Basically what I'm saying is this movie is a pile of shit, but I enjoy the hell of it regardless.

Directed by Nico Mastorakis, who has gone on record to admit he only made Island of Death to make a quick profit after seeing how much money the original "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" raked in, Island of Death follows a newlywed couple visiting the Greek island of Mykonos. Doesn't take too long to figure out that our newlywed couple aren't what they seem: they're actually an incestuous brother and sister looking to go on a rampage of murder and mayhem on those they deem "sinful". The irony of that isn't touched upon at all, as "Island of Death" is just shock after shock for the sake of shocking. Not that there's anything wrong with that, I mean what else could we really expect here in all honesty?

Throughout the film's running time, our couple engages in all kinds of deviant behavior in addition to the murder and chaos, some of which just has to be seen to be believed (that poor goat). That being said, it's violence is surprisingly not all that graphic, but its tone borderlines between being mean-spirited and unintentionally hilarious to the point you may have to pause the movie to catch your breath from laughing so much. This can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on the viewer, but for me, it made me enjoy it more than I probably should have to begin with.

Sitting on top of the UK's famed Video Nasty list for years before a super edited version saw the light of day across the pond, Island of Death has finally been presented here in all its uncut glory by the fine folks at Arrow Films. Arrow is much like Grindhouse Releasing: both labels release Criterion Collection-level releases to a bevy of horror films that range from being forgotten classics to best-to-be-forgotten fecal matter on film. Arrow outdid themselves here with this release, featuring a wonderful HD transfer of the film, as well as a surprisingly interesting booklet containing an essay on the film. There's also a new interview with director Mastorakis and a documentary focusing on the film as well as other selections from his filmography and an overview of his career in general (Spoiler Alert: I think he's kind of like Uwe Boll, but older).

You'll likely see worse and more depraved films than "Island of Death", but you'll certainly see better ones as well. That being said, the film does have its place in genre history for its Video Nasty notoriety, as well as managing to be a favorite among exploitation aficionados. If you want to pick it up, you can't go wrong with this Arrow release. Say whatever you want about the film itself, but the total package here well-assembled with lots of features, and is worth the price of admission if any of this sounds like your thing.

 

Rating: 3.5/5

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments

MOVIE REVIEW: Dracula 3-D (2012)

By Nick Durham

dracula3d

What the hell happened to Dario Argento?

I know this topic has been covered so many times before that it's grown redundant as fuck, but seriously, what happened? So many of his films have resonated with me over the years since I'd first seen them, from Suspiria to Phenomena to Inferno to Tenebrae; his body of work has meant a lot to me personally. That's why it kills me to see Dracula 3-D, because watching this cinematic abortion is the equivalent of seeing Argento's career die a slow and agonizing death. I thought Giallo and Do You Like Hitchcock? were bad...but Dracula 3D is something else entirely.

From its opening titles onward, you know you're in for a smorgasbord of supreme shitiness. You know that brilliant cinematography and film framing that Argento films have always been known for despite their varying overall quality? There's none here...like at all. Everything in this film just looks so cheaply put together. I've seen shot-on-video trash that looks better than a majority of this film's production. Maybe I'm just being too picky, but none of it is made any better thanks to the schlocky 3D. Watching the film in 2D kind of reduces how cheap everything looks surprisingly, so maybe that's the way to go if you feel like punishing yourself by watching this piece of shit.

The film's storyline doesn't adheres to the source material off and on, which is fine honestly, because not every film adaptation of Dracula needs to be one hundred percent faithful, I mean look at the Universal Dracula and Hammer's Horror of Dracula; those films are perfect. Now comparing either of them to Dracula 3-D is like comparing a juicy t-bone steak to a piece of kangaroo meat posing as a McDonald's hamburger patty, but I digress. We get the usual characters with the Count (Thomas Kretschmann), Van Helsing (Rutger Hauer), Harker (Unax Ugalde), Mina (Marta Gastini), and Lucy (Asia Argento); all of whom range from atrociously bad to hilariously bad in their performances. Hauer in particular looks like he wants to wink at the camera whenever he's on screen like hey guys, I know I'm in this piece of shit...I need to pay the rent. Now maybe this isn't all necessarily the fault of the actors, considering I'm sure they all know the absurdity of what they're involved in. Asia has no excuse though, she's used to this by now. I hope when Father's day rolls around in the years to come since the film's release she gives dear old Dad a punch in the groin for this.

The other thing about Dracula 3-D is its running time. Clocking in at close to two full hours, the film drags and drags and drags. Maybe if it were packed with more ridiculous moments like Dracula turning into a praying mantis (yes, you read that right), things might be a little more enjoyable, but alas, that's not the case. The film just plods onward, always threatening to bore you to tears, and once something occurs that gives you a slight sense of hope that things might not be so bad, you get fucked in the head back to reality of how un-engaging, poorly put together, and overall just plain lame this film truly is. I really can't believe this is from the same guy that gave us Suspiria and all the other films of his that we've raved about for years and hold near and dear to our hearts. Seriously, what the fuck happened?

No matter how much shit I talk on Dracula 3-D, it doesn't do the shitiness of the film justice. I can't believe I'm going to say this, but I really recommend you watch it just to see what I'm talking about here. I'm dead fucking serious. I can't guarantee you'll make it through the whole way, but I can recommend you'll find something funnier than Mel Brooks' Dracula: Dead and Loving It could ever hope to be. In fact, I think we should all start a drinking game just for this movie. Every time you hate yourself for watching it, take a shot. You'll be so smashed you may be declared legally dead within the first twenty minutes or less.

 

Rating: 1/5

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
GAME REVIEW: The Letter (2014)

GAME REVIEW: The Letter (2014)

By Nick Durham

What the fuck did I do to deserve this? No, seriously. What the fuck did I do to deserve having to play this fucking game? Who did I fuck over in this life or a previous life that has led to me willfully accepting the punishment that is playing?

The Letter? No, you know what, no one answer that. That would be too long a list.

Anyway, The Letter is a first person survival horror game where you take the role of a young man searching for your father who has mysteriously disappeared. Your journey starts in a bedroom and leads to a construction site where dear old Dad was working...or something like that anyway. In all honesty I didn't get too far in The Letter, but I'll get to why exactly in a minute or two. Along the way on your journey you'll walk around a lot in dark areas...and that's pretty much it. To call this game boring is saying it lightly. Literally absolutely fucking NOTHING happens in this fucking game. NOTHING!

Despite the fact that The Letter is boring as sin, this isn't even the game's biggest crime, not even close. First off, when the game first loads, look at that title screen. Did someone make this in fucking Microsoft Paint? Because that's what it looks like. Not to mention the game's graphics overall are untextured, super cheap looking garbage. I've seen early generation PS1 games that look way, way better than this piece of shit. Now I've been playing video games for a majority of my life, and I know firsthand that graphics don't necessarily make a game good or not. That is very true. There's plenty of super fun and enjoyable games that look like shit, but manage to be a great time. This is not fucking one of them.

Second of all, the control scheme for this game is fucking awful. This is mainly because the game's vertical axis is reversed...AND THERE'S NO FUCKING WAY TO CHANGE IT! That's right. You press one way to move, you move the opposite way. Great controls for a survival horror game right? Not to mention the fact that, as previously mentioned by me so eloquently right above, THERE'S NO FUCKING WAY TO CHANGE IT! I can forgive the graphics, and I can forgive the lack of horror, but I just can't forgive this. Not at all.

To make matters worse, the game is just so fucking cryptic. Cryptic games used to be the norm back in the 8 and 16-bit days, and they could be fun (and frustrating) to figure out. Figuring them out here is not fun, it's problematic, mostly because of the game's super shitty mechanics. Even just trying to get out of the first room, THE FIRST FUCKING ROOM, turned into a head scratcher. Like seriously...fuck all this.

Upon further investigation, I learned that The Letter flopped on IndieGoGo, only managing to secure over 300 bucks instead of the $5,000 originally set as the goal. The game was dumped upon the Nintendo e-shop for $1.99, and the outcry from Nintendo's Mii-verse is deafening. People feel ripped off, and they rightfully should. It doesn't take long to realize that "The Letter" is not a finished game, not by a long shot. It is, at its heart, a failed attempt at using crowd-funding to make a game, and then failing even further in terms of releasing a knowingly unfinished product with the hopes of churning out some kind of profit. A product crafted by inexperienced game developers that churned this steaming digital turd out as quickly as possible. Why am I shitting all over it like I am? Because the crew behind this promised over and over that The Letter would be granted consistent updates from its launch day to provide an overall better gaming experience. Guess how many updates have happened since the game was released in the beginning of 2015? Not a single fucking one. That is basically what we call a scam folks. Not a super expensive one, but a scam nonetheless.

On the flip side of that, it costs 2 bucks, so I know there are some of you that may be saying "come on Nick, it's only 2 bucks, what did you really expect?" Well, for starters, I expected something that played like a competent video game. I've played free-to-play games on my fucking phone that are way more in-depth than The Letter could ever hope to fucking be. I know it's only 2 bucks, but you know what? I still want my fucking money back.

Rating: 0/5

Posted by Alan Smithee in GAME REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments
GAME REVIEW: Resident Evil HD Remastered (2014)

GAME REVIEW: Resident Evil HD Remastered (2014)

By Nick Durham

Good fucking grief, how many times can you remake this fucking game? The original Resident Evil came out in 1996 believe it or not, and I have fond memories of playing the shit out of it in my youth and feeling a sense of accomplishment when I finally beat the damn thing. That in itself is a small triumph. This was when the Internet was in its infancy and just looking up walkthroughs online like you can today wasn't a thing (and I didn't believe in strategy guides because strategy guides are for pussies), and I think I spent more money renting the damn thing so many times than the actual game was worth.

All that is beside the point, however, as going back to the original Resident Evil today makes you realize that the game has not aged well at all. Its super cumbersome controls and the historically atrocious voice acting combined with the glitchy and frustrating AI tarnishes the memories I have of it...but that didn't stop Capcom from first releasing a Director's Cut of the game a few years later (around the time Resident Evil 2 first came out) that supposedly fixed some issues (spoiler alert, it didn't). Then, in 2002, Capcom completely remade the game for the Nintendo Gamecube. This version fixed a lot of the problems that plagued the original, with new graphics and gameplay elements that made the game more enjoyable than ever. So really, how does remaking the game in HD for modern consoles end up faring?

For starters, Resident Evil HD Remastered is basically almost the exact same as the Gamecube release 13 years ago. Granted there are quite a few graphical touch ups here and there, with upgraded texture mapping, backgrounds, and character animations. All these touch ups really do help make the game look absolutely beautiful, no doubt about that. I've never seen an old school-type Resident Evil game look so goddamned good. Seriously, there are parts in this game that are jaw-dropping. Capcom really did outdo themselves in the graphics department here, there's no doubt about that.

In terms of the actual gameplay elements, you get to choose between the original control scheme or an updated take on them, which is a nice touch because playing with the original tank-like controls these days makes me want to pull my fucking hair out. If you've played the game at all before in any iteration, then you're likely not going to be frightened by any of the game's offerings of shocks and scares, because you've already seen them before. That being said, they can still be nerve-wracking, and super enjoyable to boot.

The flaws of Resident Evil HD Remastered are mostly the same flaws that have appeared throughout the early entries of the series. The super limited camera angles can be a major pain in the ass, but if you've played the old Resident Evil games for any length of time, you already know this. Not to mention the fact that the game's inventory system is so goddamn dated and annoying that it just never really works all that well. Granted it never has, and granted that this is a survival horror game we're talking about (and the name of the game with that genre is trying to think ahead because you have to, well, fucking survive), but even still it feels like one of the most dated aspects of the game.

Flaws aside, Resident Evil HD Remastered is a blast to play regardless. It will make you remember just what made you fall in love with the franchise in the first place, and will also help ease you away from any recent bad memories that the much maligned Resident Evil 6 managed to create. So, whether it's your first time playing the original Resident Evil or your hundredth, check out this HD remake. You won't be disappointed.

RATING: 4/5

Posted by Alan Smithee in GAME REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments

MUSIC REVIEW (RETRO): Demon Knight Soundtrack

By Nick Durham

demon knight

Has it really been 20 years since Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight first came out? It's hard to believe that it's really been that damn long. It's even harder to believe that Tales from the Crypt has been off the air for almost that long as well. With all that in mind, Tales from the Crypt has always held a special place in my heart. The TV show itself was basically my own personal introduction to horror in my youth, and while I still enjoy Demon Knight to this very day, it's the film's soundtrack that has resonated with me even more so than the actual film.

Like how the show was an introduction of sorts for me to the horror realm, the soundtrack to Demon Knight was an introduction for me to metal music that wasn't somehow related to Ozzy Osbourne or Metallica. This was the first time that I can remember hearing Pantera, Ministry, Megadeth, and others that would continue to resonate with me as I got older, and helped mold my love of the metal genre. Even though most of the tracks featured here are from previously released material from their respective artists, they all manage to fit the atmosphere not only of the film, but of the comic book horror lunacy of Tales from the Crypt as a whole.

Opening track "Cemetery Gates" is a classic single from Pantera's "Cowboys from Hell", only here we get an edited take on it that shaves about a minute and a half off the run time. Ministry's "Tonight We Murder" is lovely, while Machine Head's "My Misery" seems to be an original track provided for the film. Megadeth's "Diadems" sounds like a B-side from the "Rust in Peace"/"Symphony of Destruction" era, and Melvins provides "Instant Larry", which is pretty damn kicking.

The legendary Henry Rollins is here with Rollins Band (who else would he be with?) providing "Fall Guy", which isn't really anything special in all honesty, but Biohazard's "Beaten" and Sepultura's "Policia" more than make up for it and make me want to smash my head into a wall in a good way. Filter is here with the only song they're known for besides that fucking annoying ass "take my picture" song from the end of the century, with "Hey Man, Nice Shot", which may be about Kurt Cobain or Bud Dwyer. Take your pick. Finally the soundtrack ends with the lone hip-hop track here, "1-800-SUICIDE" by Gravediggaz. I've never been into hip-hop too much, but this song is wonderful. Not to mention the fact that I can still recite the whole thing word for word to this day.

In closing, the Demon Knight soundtrack may appear to be nothing special at first glance, but for those that were around when all this originally hit, it will hold a special place in your heart. I still listen to many of the songs featured here to this very day, and because of this soundtrack, it helped me discover so much wonderful music as the years would go on. Maybe I'm talking it up a bit more than what it's worth because of the sake of nostalgia, but I can't help myself. It was special to me then, and it's special to me now. Check it out if you never have before.

Rating: 4/5

Posted by Alan Smithee in MUSIC REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments

MOVIE REVIEW: Hell of the Living Dead (1980) & Rats (1984) – Double Feature

Hell of the Living Dead
&
Rats: Night of Terror

By Nick Durham

Hell of the Living Dead cover

Distributed by Blue Underground

Blue Underground has been behind some of my favorite DVD and Blu-ray releases over the past few years. Daughters of Darkness, Dead & Buried, Stagefright, and the Maniac Cop sequels are just a few of the home video releases that the company has poured a lot into in terms of picture restoration and extras, making them well worth adding to your collection. The films themselves tend to range in terms of overall quality, but it can usually be assured that you get your money’s worth in terms of overall content included. Anytime I hear of a film getting the release treatment from Blue Underground, I’m usually excited…even if said film is a pile of horse shit.

Which brings me to this double feature of Bruno Mattei’s Hell of the Living Dead and Rats: Night of Terror. Two fairly terrible films from one of the biggest schlock-meisters to come out of Italy in the history of ever. How do they hold up given an HD treatment from the fine folks at Blue Underground? Well, to put it bluntly: you can put lipstick on a corpse and it’s still a festering sack of rotten flesh, but I digress.

Hell of the Living Dead is one of many cheap films to come out of Italy in the wake of the massive international success of George Romero’s classic Dawn of the Dead. Right down to blatantly using the SAME EXACT FUCKING MUSIC SCORE from Romero’s beloved zombie opus, to featuring our crack team of gung-ho commandos dressed in the same uniforms as DOTD’s Ken Foree, Hell of the Living Dead is one of the biggest zombie film rip-off’s in cinematic history. I’m not kidding. I’m sure Romero would have sued but I’m also fairly certain the line to sue Mattei was backed up around a street corner somewhere (seriously, look up Mattei sometime, you’ll see what I mean).

Anyway, Hell of the Living Dead features many unintentionally hilarious moments, nonsensical plot threads, overdubbed stock footage, and some of the most cringe-inducing, yet ridiculously entertaining, dialogue I’ve ever heard in my whole life. That, and our female lead decides to get naked and paint herself up in order to “infiltrate” a tribe of natives…don’t ask why, just go with it, you’ll enjoy it all a lot better. That is the strange thing about Hell of the Living Dead; for as awful as it is, you can’t help but enjoy it despite its faults and overall cheap feel. It’s fun in spite of itself, and it features a hysterical climax that just might make you applaud its awfulness.

The second part of our double feature of shit is Rats: Night of Terror. Now this garbage features a crew of post-apocalyptic bikers running afoul of blood-thirsty rats when they decide to bed down in an abandoned village. If you thought Hell of the Living Dead was nonsensical, then Rats will really make you howl with laughter. It does feature some relatively gross effects work and at least a couple memorable characters, so it isn’t a total loss. The most miraculous thing about Rats is that, like Hell of the Living Dead, it manages to be somewhat entertaining despite its absurd amounts of overall badness. That, and the ending is a total fucking hoot.

In terms of special features and all that, each film features various interviews and trailers that had been seen before on previous releases for each film. It’s not surprising there’s nothing new here in terms of supplemental material, and in all honesty we should be glad we get anything at all for either of these films. The films themselves look pretty good in HD, which isn’t a surprise either considering that Blue Underground usually does a great job with picture quality, but there’s something about the sound quality that seems a little off, at least to me personally. I can’t quite put my finger, or rather my ears, on it necessarily. Maybe it’s just me.

Anyway, if you love older schlock by way of Italy, you really can’t go wrong with Hell of the Living Dead or Rats: Night of Terror. Both films are atrociously enjoyable, and having them together on the same disc is a nice little touch that aficionados of this horse shit (like me) will find plenty of enjoyment with. Just remember one thing kids: when it comes to movies like these, you can always do worse. Much…much…worse.

Overall rating: 3/5

Posted by Alan Smithee in MOVIE REVIEWS, REVIEWS, 0 comments