Thursday, 29 November 2012

The Walking Dead Episode 5: No Time Left - Zombie Horror Videogame Review (X-Box Live Arcade)

I have just finished the fifth, and final chapter of the Telltale made The Walking Dead adventure game. It has been a literal hell of a ride with some of the most terrible decisions I have ever had to make in a game. Was the final chapter a fitting end though? There will be unavoidable spoilers here, will try to keep them to a minimum!

With your young ward Clementine kidnapped at the end of Chapter 4 this one is all about rescuing her. Lee is a desperate man with nothing to loose, all that matters now is finding Clem, and Lee will do anything to make that happen.  Going into this chapter it is apparent there can be no happy ending, especially judging by the awful things that have happened previously. I found myself burning with righteous anger at the kidnapper yet still found the wind blown out my sails somewhat when the confrontation occurred. The choices you have made throughout the series come back to haunt you and you are given the chance to make peace with characters you may have fallen out with before.

Issues again reared their ugly head here with slow down and frame skipping. One decision I was asked to make was destroyed by juddering which meant I was not able to choose a dialogue option in time, quite frustrating but at least it was a thankfully minor thing and not something hugely important.

No Time Left is a much shorter chapter than the previous ones, I believe it took me around an hour to do. There are not many calm moments as your mission is ever present. I played Lee like how I would have liked to act in his situation, sure I made some hard choices but I don't regret a thing. This time around puzzles are kept to a minimum, the ones you do have are all based on progression.

The music for this chapter is fantastic, the best yet, from sorrowful to sad, and even a Western style tune that plays through a key moment of the chapter reminding me of Desperado. Story wise this did make me cry, it was a very sad end but has also been left open. I don't know if it was always the intent to leave questions open, or if it was a result of the popularity that has ensured a Season 2. I would like the next Season to feature a completely new cast of characters rather than continue on from the end point here as the open ended nature of the ending felt quite fitting.

There really is not much to say, if you have been playing the chapters up to this point then this is totally essential. A great end to a great game.


Wednesday, 28 November 2012

The Eschatrilogy (2012) - Zombie Horror Film Review

The first film I saw at Day of the Undead 2012 was The Eschatrilogy. At first I thought this was going to be 3 short films, but it is instead in a Tales from the Crypt style of one main story and three mini interconnecting ones.

An ancient evil awakens from the earth, with him comes zombie apocalypse, everywhere he goes the zombies follow. This supernatural terror will ensure no human escapes the ravage plague sweeping the lands. In this land a lone survivor is holding out in the mountains. A stranger appears, carrying with him a book that tells tales of the zombie apocalypse. One tale is of a zombified man searching for his daughter, one has a young man on a mission to get to his parents, the last is about a man who will do anything to protect his son.

There are lots and lots of zombies in this film, around 700 I believe. The director Damien Morter stated how many of the cast were family and friends, and unfortunately it does show as some of the acting is truly terrible with people sounding like they are reading from a script they have never seen before. The child actors all do that hideous over acting technique thing where they over emphasize words and sound unnatural.

The zombies themselves are for the most part sparsly made up, this is a great thing, I don't know what it is about sloppily done zombies but I love it, makes it feel more like a proper zombie film, there are so many as well that the sense of being completely doomed runs rampant. Some great effects are used at times, in particular I remember when someone got their face pulled off (I think) which looked great.

For a low budget film it really does look great, the directing is also very well done. The surviving humans all look scummy, a great choice of actors were used for these characters, not so much the main ones. The Dad in the third story was giving off a Swedish vibe for some reason which was off putting for a story set in Britain, while the large zombie obsessed with finding his daughter was kinda funny rather than tragic. The funniest character by far was some meat headed man whose son got killed after he failed to punch a horde to death. Believed dead he reappears later on covered in bite marks, ready to fight the hero of story 2, a very funny moment. The stories are interconnected but only really in the way that the same zombies keep showing up which fits with the supernatural cause of the outbreak

This is a hard one, I did really enjoy this film, there are many, many far worse zombie films, it's just that I never cared about the hero's of the film at all, I never rooted for them. I am not sure if the film is supposed to be serious or if it is an accidental comedy. For zombie action though there is a lot of fun to be had. I love the idea of a supernatural figure leading the undead, one who knows where any remaining survivors are and can find them where ever they hide.

The Eschatrilogy is definitely a zombie film you should see, it is a lot better than the Meat Markets, and other low budget films of that type. The acting may be wooden, the plot may be uninspired but it gets zombies right, hordes of shambling flesh hungry creeps are here in abundance and for that Morter should be commended.


Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Secular Quarter #3 - Sci-fi Short

Quite a while ago this was brought to my attention, I am ashamed to say I have only just gotten around to watching it (especially ashamed as it is just over two minutes long!). Secular Quarter #3 was a semi-finalist in YouTube's Your Film Festival (sponsored by Ridley Scott). Created by David Gidali it is set in Jerusalem in 2111 where the areas of the city are bisected by giant steel walls keeping the different populations separate. Giant steel mesh keeps the landmarks and buildings protected from missile attacks. Off world intervention changes all that one fateful evening...

Monday, 26 November 2012

Metro 2033 by Dmitry Glukhovsky - Horror Book Review

Metro 2033 was originally a Russian book released in 2005, it has been translated into many languages with the English language version being released in 2010 to coincide with the release of the game. Interestingly Glukhovsky preferred a videogame of Metro 2033 over a film adaptation. Anyway, I digress, I am not the best at book reviews, having not done many, I will try my best though.

Metro 2033 takes place around 20 years after nuclear Armageddon has destroyed the surface world. Artyom lives at VDNKh; a station on the edge of the Moscow Metro. Beings known as Dark Ones have begun attacking the station. It is feared that if they over run VDNKh then the whole Metro will be in peril. A Stalker named Hunter gives Artyom a special mission. He is to head to the heart of the Metro to the legendary station Polis and alert them to the dire situation with the Dark Ones. Having never been far from his home station this is a huge undertaking for the young man, and one that will lead him on a path of adventure, horror, and self discovery.

It is hard to write about this book without comparing it to the game. The world of the Metro is a place with not much hope. The game has you fighting many many hundreds of mutants and monsters, the book for at least two thirds is far more calm and at times reads like an essay. The meaning of life, religion, politics all are looked into deeply, sometimes many pages dedicated to Artyoms inner thoughts as he de-constructs the belief system, the sense of nationality and free will. On his travels he comes across many different ideologies; the fourth Reich (Nazi's), the people of the Red Line (Communists), as well as cults (such as the Children of the Worm) and more normal, but no less troubling faiths.

At times Artyoms travel seems less like a story, and more like an excuse to look into these different beliefs. He is railroaded from one set piece to a next, always some miraculous event saving him from the many times he is captured. His character states he does not believe in destiny and that free will persists yet he has changed these thoughts by the books end. One particular fourth wall breaking moment had him wondering if he was just a character in a book, unknowingly following the plot of an author, which of course he is!

The Metro is a place of tales, paranormal activity and surrealness. A lot of the book is dedicated to gossip and stories various characters have, all for the most part are interesting, and often downright creepy such as the story of a Satanic cult which believe they are on the gates of Hell and so kidnap people to dig downwards to open up the way to Hell. Others talk of a secret second Metro line where Angel type beings silently monitor the inhabitants of the world. The Metro is compared to Purgatory, to a dream, to a punishment for all mankind. There are many ghostly encounters through the story; ghost trains, mysterious voices, visions and a really interesting look back on World War II that has the Russian Red Star actually being a pentagram used to summon demons with which to fight the Nazis and their magic.

So much happens throughout the book that it never has time to get boring. It is quite sedate (apart from bursts of random violence) until towards the end when far more action occurs once Artyom gets topside and is hunted by the various mutants of the wasteland. I have gone back to play through the game after reading this book and surprised how much of an action game it actually is when my opinion before hand was that it was more low key.

A well translated book and I will definitely be picking up the sequel (Metro 2034). Be aware this is not a happy book and has a massive, massive downer of an ending, one that even though I already knew what it was (due to the game) left me speechless with it's powerful impact. An essential book to read, a modern classic.


Sunday, 25 November 2012

The Herbaliser ft. Teenburger - March of the Dead Things (Night of the Necromantics) - Zombie Music Video

Zombies always seem to go well in music videos, there has been quite a few in recent years, obviously starting back in the 80's with Thriller. The music is rap which is not the genre I like but regardless of that this was a great video with a rap about the walking dead.

In Canada to make a music video The Herbaliser's shoot comes under attack by zombies. Thinking it would make for a great video they set out to record their song 'March of the Dead Things' within zombie Armageddon with mixed results. Quite funny, and not a bad song either!

Saturday, 24 November 2012

To The Dirt (2012) - Short Film Review

To The Dirt is a short film (23 minutes long) written and directed by Drew Bourdet. It stars Jeramy Blackford as Nate and Robert Prestor as Eli.

Nate and Eli are two hillbilly brothers living out on their own in the woods of America. Eli is a mute and retarded so is up to Nate to care for him. One day while out in the woods he discovers a corpse of a girl washed up on a river bank. Not wanting to leave the girl to rot he brings her body home.

My expectations for what this film would turn into were vastly wrong, I was expecting bad things to happen, I caught myself being prepared for twists which never came. This isn't a horror film in the traditional sense, it is sad, the loneliness of Nate with only his mute brother for company is really shown through the muted colours, the soundtrack and use of light and shade. Eli spends his days punching a straw man hung up by a shed, obviously with problems but Nate himself is shown to not be of sound mind either. Talking to the corpse he comes to befriend it in his mind. The lack of any sort of companionship is telling, from the pictures of females cut out of magazines stuck on his bedroom wall, to the way he wants the corpse to look pretty, even going as far as to stick plasters over the stab wounds on her chest; you get a real sense of his aching loneliness.

With these types of films the acting can really make or break the experience, here Blackford and Prestor both excel, Blackford having the only dialogue in the film, and being the main focus really shines giving a pathos to the character he portrays, you can't help but feel for him. Prestor on the other hand is perfectly cast as the childlike Eli.

To The Dirt is a poignant, sad and thoughtful film which takes a macabre plot and turns it on its head into something beautiful.  I am glad it defied my expectations, it would have been all too easy to go down a horror route.


Friday, 23 November 2012

Deck Z: The Titanic by Chris Pauls and Matt Solomon - Zombie Horror Book Review

I have never seen the film Titanic so I was quite interested to read an account of how it came to sink, albeit one with added zombies. I read this book cover to cover in two days, though rather annoyingly finishing the book coincided with my Internet being cut off.

Everyone knows that the Titanic sunk on its maiden voyage, what people don't know is that a giant secret was covered up along with the sinking of the vessel.  Theodor Weiss; a German scientist is on the run from the German military after he discovers a virus that can turn the most gentle person into a savage monster impervious to pain or reason. The military want the virus to use as a biological weapon, Weiss hopes to flee to America where he can make a cure for the natural disease. Unfortunately for him and the other people of the Titanic there is a German agent on board who corners Weiss and takes the vial containing the virus. The inevitable soon happens and an outbreak of zombies starts to occur. Weiss teaming up with the crew of the Titanic must find a way to not only contain the outbreak, but also to locate the missing vial.

Deck Z: The Titanic is a great zombie book, I must admit I was surprised with how much of a real page turner it was. This is helped by really short chapters, at most around five or six pages, some not even a page long. Each chapter starts with a heading giving the location the chapter takes place in as well as the time it takes place. This gives a great sense of progression.

Doing some research after reading it I was surprised to see that a number of real life people are included in the tale including the ships Captain Edward Smith, White Starline's Chairman J.Bruce Ismay, and even the naval architect Thomas Andrews. I thought this was real cool, if a bit of an insult to the memories of these real people being used in such a strange context. That's not to say I don't approve, it gave the events more of a realistic feeling, and I have heard it say Captain Smith was portrayed poorly in the film, here he is pretty much the hero of the piece, armed with a sword dispatching zombies throughout, so redeemed. Bookending the story are two chapters based in modern day, a good addition even if it does lead to a predictable twist ending.

The zombies here are of the flesh eating kind, slow shambling, dumb hordes and quite gruesomely described, one part where a parade of zombies were getting chopped up in a giant fan was a highlight.  The characters are a hotch potch of stereotypes and deeper characters. Set in 1912 the sensibilities and opinions of the characters are different than the norm, the old setting brought some freshness to the genre. Main character Weiss is deeply flawed, others such as young girl Lou and Smith are more likable and given personality often lacking in these types of books.

Kinda a spoiler here but I was expecting the Titanic sinking to be a huge part of the book, but when this event occurs it is already over two thirds of the way through the story and dealt with really quite briefly. After the horror of a zombie outbreak aboard a ship, the sinking of the ship almost seems like a welcome relief to the characters trapped there.

Well written, simple yet entertaining I would really recommend this book, a decent zombie book with real life facts giving it a neat twist.


Thursday, 22 November 2012

Day of the Undead 2012 - 6th Annual Festival of Zombie Culture

Last Saturday I went to Day of the Undead at Leicester. This is a yearly zombie event that has 12 hours of zombies films as well as loads of stalls, and apparently videogames (unconfirmed as could not find them there).

Turning up fashionably late at around 18:30 (it started at 12:00) I was immediately a bit lost, lots of people wondering around, even more zombies, in fact upon entering the place I nearly walked into an awesome looking zombie who had a giant pole going through his chest and sticking out the back. He not only looked the part (even with creepy contact lenses) but also acted the part, lurching around groaning the entire night.

Anyway after some lost wandering I went in to hear a talk from Charlie Higson (of The Fast Show fame). He writes young adult zombie books, I never realised this till recently, and have yet to read them but he was interesting, and it was cool seeing a famous person.

Next was a film called The Eschatrilogy which had a Tales of the Crypt type formula of three different stories tied together by a main storyline. Thoughts here are that despite the low budget (£15,000)  it looked great, and was well shot. The zombies were of the slow walking kind and mostly had a slap dash Romero style look to them (makeup down to the neckline only then just normal under that) I love the rough look in zombie films, who needs vast make up effects. Land of the Dead proved well made up zombies just look terrible. Acting was very bad for the most part but I enjoyed it even if the Blu-Ray the film was being shown on was broken so the last 5 minutes of the film were not shown. Zombie Ed had to sum up the end for the audience who were not impressed. It really did ruin the film a bit to be honest.

Next a whole heap of prize winners were announced (apparently raffle tickets were around, I never saw any of these, maybe due to turning up late but wish I had got some as there were lots and lots of winners of some cool horror prizes). As a side note there were some great horror stands selling lots of zombie books, DVD's and other stuff. Due to having no money I never looked at these stands in too much detail as would have wanted everything! David Moody; my favourite zombie author was there but I was A) too shy to speak to him B) Had no money to buy any of his stuff anyway, and C) Only just realised he was the guy behind the David Moody stall (assumed he was too famous to be hanging there all day!).

The next film on was Gangsters, Guns, and Zombies which was a comedy. I will just say this is one of the funniest zombie films I have ever seen, the whole audience were laughing out loud, it really was hilarious despite a loud mouthed, drunken Welshman sitting behind me angrily complaining all film about how he couldn't understand why people were laughing at it. Maybe a bit over long but a very well made film, acting also of a high standard here to boot.

The final film I planned to see was Cockneys VS Zombies unfortunately it was running late and was not going to start till after midnight, too late for me who was really quite tired by that point and had a drive home to do. I did see two episodes of Bumbloods a short zombie comedy series. It was funny but nowhere near as much as the Gangsters film was. I will doing a post on that soon also as the makers contacted me last month about it.

Next year I plan to actually have money when going, and also to make a day of it rather than just an evening. Photos next year as well! Zombie Ed is so passionate about zombies, he was the glue that held the event together. First saw him at Zombie Fest 2007 (I think) he is a funny and genuinely nice guy. So Day of the Undead seemed to be a resounding success, can't wait till next time! From the few films I saw I was really impressed with the quality of them. Zombie films are so easy to make terrible, these were not remotely that.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Creepy Cola - Horror Themed Fizzy Drink Review

I am back! After a pleasant week and a half holiday from my blog I am energised and ready to blog like I have never blogged before (ok, so it wasn't actually a holiday per se, more a forgetting to pay my Internet bill type of thing).

Another Halloween inspired re-design for an everyday product. After the all too real horrors of Spooky Singles I once again headed into the breach and gave this drink a go to see if it is also scary.

I was brought up on sugar free drinks, so to this day cannot abide drinks with sugar in them. This drink is crammed full of sugar, I had it about two hours ago but my teeth are still aching from being coated in the liquid. Barr drinks are corner shop mana at affordable prices, but just too damn sweet! I think it actually made me more thirsty.

So to sum up; Not creepy, the price isn't spooky good value and unless something weird snaps in my brain pan I shall not be having nightmares about this drink tonight.


Monday, 12 November 2012

World War Z - Zombie Horror Film Trailer

I had almost forgotten this film was being made. I never liked the Max Brooks book World War Z, I found it a bit boring to be honest. Brad Pitt stars in the film version, he is a great actor so I do have hopes for this. Kinda reminded me of The War of the Worlds but hopefully it wont be terrible like that film. I do love how the zombies seem almost like an unliving tidal wave, swarming everywhere in a really weird looking way!

Sunday, 11 November 2012

The Walking Dead Episode 4: Around Every Corner - Zombie Horror Videogame Review (X-Box Live Arcade)

Around a month ago the 4th episode in Telltales amazing Walking Dead adventure series was released, last night I sat down and played through it. I always play through each episode in one sitting, it feels like that is how they are supposed to be played. While episode 1 was about discovery, 2 about horror, and 3 about loss, this episode seems to be about tension.

Having arrived at Savannah at the end of Episode 3 you and your motley group are determined to find a boat with which to leave on. Between you and the docks though lies a City full of the undead. But the zombies are not the only things to worry about as there seems to be a human threat who is determined you will not escape.

This episode is far more action orientated, many times throughout the two and a half hour playing time you will be called upon to take out approaching hordes of zombies. One thing this brought to be was how Lee's gun he fires never needs reloading, it seems to have infinite ammo which ruins the suspense a bit. Most of these shooting galleries sees you in first person mode aiming a very twitchy gun in the direction of the hordes, some slow down and jerking motions led to me dying completely unfairly a few times during these.

Around Every Corner also has quite a few traditional adventure style puzzles, one in the sewers in particular was very old school in feeling. This is still far more of a story focused game than actual puzzles but was a nice reminder of where the game evolved from.

The Walking Dead always succeeds at forcing you to make horrible decisions, while they are still here they are not as harrowing as ones in previous episodes. They are still for the most part hard to make though and again this is down to the characters. The relationship between Lee and his ward Clementine is again wonderfully shown, and again makes you as the player really want to protect the little girl in a way few games can. A mid point that had an increasingly distressed Lee searching his safe house for Clem was so well done that I myself was getting really worried for her safety.

Story wise the hook at the end of 3 is not explored, instead it takes a back seat to a plot involving a mini totalitarian state and the people resisting it. Reminded me a lot of the Governor storyline in the comics though here it is dealt with quite briefly. A lot of new characters are introduced and just as quickly taken away again while as always everyone seems to be open to quick departures. There are only a few characters left from episode 1's large group and while feeling you know them is good all the new characters are so unknown that it is hard to ever care about them so I think that removes a lot from the emotional impact.

Around Every Corner had a structure to it, a beginning, middle and end yet unlike the other episodes the story is not finished, it ends halfway through almost like it is just a prelude to the likely to be thrilling depressing main story. What this episode does manage to do is create a sense of creeping dread, the music, the shadowy figure watching from the sidelines all create a tension that really doesn't lead up to anything. Despite all that though it does dump you off at a point where if you are invested in the game there is no way you can not play Episode 5. I myself cannot wait.


Saturday, 10 November 2012

The Walking Dead: Well Zombie - Horror Figure

The well zombie stood out from all the many other zombies in The Walking Dead Season 2 due to how rancid and disgusting it was. A portly undead chap had fallen into one of the wells on Hershel's farm so the gang decided they wanted to get him out of there so he didn't contaminate the water supply.  First they used meat on a rope to try and get him out, but when that failed they used Glenn as human bait. He nearly got chomped but managed to get a rope round the huge bloated corpse who was then pulled up. In doing this though the rope cut through his swelled body leading to him ripping in half, intestines going everywhere.

To celebrate this disgusting creature McFarlane toys have made a figure of him.  The well zombie is free standing. but also can be pulled in half to give him his ripped open look, complete with rubber intestines. He comes with a hunk of meat. The figure was smaller than I expected, looking like a midget next to my other horror figures, but it is detailed and does in fact look just as rank as his on screen brother.

Other figures in the series include Rick and Shane, as well as the bicycle girl zombie from Season 1, and the RV zombie from the first episode of Season 2. All priced at £14.99 I believe.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

Silent Hill: Revelation (2012) - Horror Film Review

I still don't know if I actually like the first Silent Hill film, I tried to watch it again last night in readiness for the sequel but after 20 minutes I wandered off upstairs and totally forgot I had put it on. I have seen it about 8 times and still have no opinion on if I like it or not. Anyway, I figured I knew enough about the story to head into Revelation. As a side note I watched a 2D version of the film so am not calling it Silent Hill: Revelation 3D!

Revelation takes place around six years after the events of Silent Hill, finally clearing up that ambiguous ending. When Rose and Sharon escaped Silent Hill it turns out they hadn't, Rose used a magical seal to send Sharon back to the real world. Since then Sharon (now called Heather) and her Father (was Christopher, now called Harry) have constantly been on the run, going from town to town, being forever hunted. Heather thinks it is because her Father is wanted by the Police after killing a man but unknown to her the real reason is that The Order (an evil cult from Silent Hill) want to get Heather to return home thinking it will break the curse the town suffers . Anyway basically The Order finally catch up with them, kidnapping Harry in a successful attempt to lure her back to Silent Hill where Heather encounters untold horrors.

This film is not a great film, yet I loved it, I left the Cinema with a huge grin on my face. This is everything sequels should be. From start to finish Revelation is just insane, crazy, making no sense and flinging Heather from situation to situation with no care for logic. There is no respite in this film, no slow moments, it is just madness from start to finish. This is even worked into the plot; the first film had light world and dark world Silent Hill but here once it goes to dark world it stays there. I got the feeling this film was made for me, it is like a videogame brought to life.

There is so much fan service here for people who love the videogame series (one of my favourite series!) the film is crammed to bursting with references to the games. The plot is very much based on Silent Hill 3, it includes a large variety of locations from the game such as the shopping mall, insane asylum and amusement park. A lot of characters also appear, much the same as they were in the game but with twists to their story paths. The P.I Douglas Copeland, Claudia Wolf, Leonard Wolf, Alessa; a joy to see these characters all appear on the screen much like they were in the game. Vincent is the only changed character, being pretty much a good guy here, while in the game he was older and a damn sight creepier.

The fan service is intense here, my favourite being a notebook Heather finds of her fathers which contains ink drawings of various Silent Hill monsters from the games, even includes artwork of the monster children which were in Silent Hill 1! Silent Hill Origins, 1, 2, 3, and I swear even the latest Silent Hill game; Silent Hill: Downpour was referenced! Pure joy for a fan boy like me. A key scene also features a huge merry-go-round decked out with a blatant Umbrella symbol on it. This is a pure 'f**k you!' to the integrity of the Resident Evil film series, least that's what I took from it.

Very surprised to see Sean Bean reprise his role of Heathers father here, I thought he was too famous to be in the first one, so returning for the sequel I found even crazier. He is great even if he doesn't get to much screen time. My favourite horror actor of all time also turned up, I laughed out loud when I saw him emerge out of the darkness of a cell, chained up, dishevelled and crazy, looking like he was having the time of his life playing Leonard Wolf. Of course I am referring to the legend Malcolm McDowell who totally hams up his role for the very short screen time he gets. Vincent had another great actor; Kit Harington (from Game of Thrones) who made a relatively simple character into something interesting. These along with Carrie-Ann Moss as Claudia Wolf and several other characters from Silent Hill returning made quite a fantastic cast. I had not heard of main actress Adelaide Clemens before but she fitted the role of Heather perfectly.

The monsters are varied and for the most part look great. Old favourites such as the zombie nurses and Pyramid Head appear (their inclusion especially seems purely for the fans) while a whole host of new monsters appear (my favourite was a weird spider made out of mannequin parts, very freaky looking).

My main problem with the film, much like the later games is that everything looks so clean, even when it isn't. A screaming man hanging upside down with a bag taped over his head, having his stomach cut into slices for a waiting chef to cook, a naked woman tied to a gurney slowly transforming into a mannequin, a homeless guy with a giant scar for a face; all look freaky, but too clinical, with none of the grime seen in say a Rob Zombie film. Great ideas though, and the film gets really messed up with its scenes of random violence given the impression the cursed town really is a part of Hell. Revelation is a paranoid nightmare shuffling down the tracks of the mind of an obsessive compulsive. Nightmare, but nightmare made to be viewed like a ghost train rather than to be really scary.

The actors are great, but they can't help a bad plot, bad in the sense that the ways characters act usually don't make much sense, and the way the plot unfolds is weird in places. Heather crawling down a ventilation shaft comes out randomly at the exact location she needed to get to, always in the exact right location at the right time, though this could be explained away with the mythos of the cursed town. An ill advised final boss fight between Pyramid Head (reduced to the role of a good guy!) and a demon was just strange and felt completely out of place, but then with the bonkers plot maybe it was exactly what was needed.

I got the distinct feeling that watching it without prior knowledge of the games and first film you would be totally lost and confused, as it was I was in geek heaven. It makes little sense yet I came away totally happy with what I had seen, a worthy Silent Hill film, but maybe one for the fans.


Sunday, 4 November 2012

Storage 24 (2012) - Horror Film Review

I must admit when I first heard of Storage 24 I paid it little attention; a sci-fi horror set in a storage warehouse? Surely a poorly made, low budgeted mess. Looking closer I saw first of all that it had came from the creator of cult films Kidulthood and Adulthood; Noel Clarke (who also stars). Next I saw that it actually had some great actors in it, my interest was gained and I sat down to give the film a go.

Storage 24 is a British sci-fi horror that takes place mostly in Battersea, London. A military aircraft has crashed in the area where a storage warehouse is located (funnily enough called 'Storage 24') The aftermath of the crash has caused the security system at the warehouse to go haywire, trapping in several people who happened to be there at the time. Unfortunately they are not alone, some kind of monstrous being has escaped from the wreckage of the aircraft and has decided the warehouse is to be its hunting ground...

The plot is very simple; that of a monster stalking its prey, much in the vein of a warehouse based Predator, or Xtro but what makes this film special is the realism given to the few actors. These are normal people, not commando's or anyone with any kind of combat training.  Charlie (played by Noel Clarke of Doghouse fame) has recently split up with his girlfriend Shelley, he has headed to the storage unit, knowing his ex has arranged to go there hoping to confront her over the breakup, along with him is his best friend Mark (Colin O'Donoghue, star of last years The Rite). Charlie at first comes across as a highly strung loser, not likable at all. The interaction between him and his ex comes across as so believable though that you cant help but feel sorry for him. As the film progresses his character ark makes him into the hero of the piece, someone I was rooting for to win, really well handled. O'Donoghue on the other hand is disappointing here, his character turning into a stereotypical turncoat who does all he can to save his own skin while constantly putting the others in peril.

All in all there are around 9 characters in the film, of which there are 4 main ones, all the actors do fantastic jobs, yes O'Donoghue's character might be an awful horror stereotype but his acting is still done well. Without the group coming across as believable characters this film would have fallen flat, even the inclusion of comedy character David (Ned Dennehy) is done well.

What of the Alien creature then? It looks utterly fantastic, I was expecting a mess of CGI, but what you get here is a being I can only describe as looking real (as much as an Alien can look real). First only glimpsed in pieces (as is the way with these films) it is a real threat, mostly due to the fact there just are not any weapons laying around for the humans to use on it. It seems to enjoy ripping off faces, and gore is used to good effect. I don't really want to spoil what it looks like, kinda like Predator crossed with the creature from Cloverfield. One plot device sees the characters looking for weapons in random storage lockers. I was completely expecting the group to miraculously come across one full of guns, so when Charlie finds a box with an AK47 on the side of it I rolled my eyes, until he gets it out and pulls the trigger to discover it's just a toy gun! A good way to play with audience expectations in which is otherwise quite a formulaic film.

The film doesn't do anything new, but it manages to make a 90 minute film about a group of people running round a bland storage warehouse into something that excites, and makes you really care about (some) of the characters. I loved this film, I never expected to, but I did, sometimes an old idea done well is all that is needed.  Storage 24 is out now on DVD, Blu-ray and to download, priced at £12.99 and £15.99 respectively  and containing over 90 minutes of extras. I never actually watched the extras (I never do)


Saturday, 3 November 2012

Zombie for Zombies: Advice and Etiquette for the Living Dead by David Murphy - Zombie Comedy Horror Book Review

Zombies for Zombies is a parody of the many 'blah blah for dummies' books around. It is a 'comedy' book giving many many tips on how to cope with being dead.

The book is a guide that the recently bitten are advised to read in order to get into zombie care resorts. It exists in a world where zombie apocalypse has occurred, many areas of the world are sealed off by gigantic fences so that normal humans can carry on their daily lives.  In this world zombies are seen as 'post lifers' and treated with respect. At what I imagine must be great cost resorts have been created where zombies are cared for, fed, and entertained, though only ones who have followed the zombie for zombies program are eligible.

Man this book is lame! A one joke pony that just drags and drags and drags. The one joke is that the zombies are treated as humans still, given a variety of activities they can do such as zombie friendly sports, dances, and food. They are given their own TV shows to watch, songs to listen to. Hilarious. This whole thing is stretched out over a 200 page book that is awful to read.  Murphy seems quite taken with how funny he is and writes as if he is doing the funniest thing in the world when 95% of his terrible attempts at humour fall flat. Half his jokes involve putting 'TM' at the end of made up zombie aids, while he frequently makes pop culture references to what I imagine must be well know Americans, but who I had never heard of.

Interviews with people are all terribly done, his characters all come off as just cringe worthy, while his ramblings about zombie dress wear, and an ill advised chapter on zombie sex (a variety of zombie sex positions are discussed in details, not pleasant reading). The only good part of the book is an interlude that takes the form of a short zombie story. The illustrations of which there are many are done by Daniel Heard, are ok, they fit the style of writing well at least. The attempts at humour were just lost on me.