Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Dawn of the Dreadfuls (2010) by Steve Hockensmith - Zombie Horror Book Review

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies came out to critical acclaim back in 2009. It mixed up Jane Austen's classic novel and set it against the back drop of zombie apocalypse.Its success led to two more books in the series. A sequel (Dreadfully Ever After), and a prequel; Dawn of the Dreadfuls. I thought I may as well start with the prequel.

Set four years before Pride and Prejudice and Zombies the book opens with England in relative bliss. Attending a funeral of a local man the people of a small English village are shocked to see the deceased return to life. Mr Bennet recognises the event as the return of the unmentionables (what people of polite society call the zombies). Many years in the past the unmentionables rose up but were defeated. Mr Bennet realises he must train up his beloved daughters in the way of the fist to battle the new threat. Shunned by their equals the daughters nonetheless become warriors. As Elizabeth Bennet realises her fate she comes under the attention of two very different men vying for her affection; Master Hawksworth her powerful sensai, and Dr Keckilpenny who would rather battle the undead menace using his intellect.

Having read the original I knew straight away that Hawksworth and Keckilpenny would more than likely come to tragic end (as they are not in that one) , also that no harm would befall the principal characters. Being an original piece of work rather than an adaptation of someone elses work Hockensmith was able to bring far more humour and excitement to his prequel. The book is consistently funny, much of it comes from the language which is written in Austen's style. These are people of high society dealing with zombies, and they act accordingly.

A lot of new characters are introduced, a highlight being Captain Cannon; the leader of the battalion of soldiers brought to the peoples aid. He had fought in the previous zombie war and had lost all his limbs then, so he is carried around in a wheelbarrow by two soldiers who he calls 'his limbs' and do everything he would do if he was able, such as when he wants to think he gets his limbs to pace his wheelbarrow back and forth.

Not having to fit into the template of a pre-existing story means that much more exciting events are able to happen, the whole last fifth of the book is a siege and is very exciting bringing lots of drama and action, from that point onward I just could not put the book down. Plot twist after plot twist happens, I really was not expecting any of them, tying together loose threads from earlier events to fantastic effect.

Like the other books in the series there are drawings every now and again from key moments in the book, This time around I think all of them actually cover zombie scenes, they fit well into the style of the book. It will be interesting to see how natural a fit this prologue tale is with the main book which I shall be reading next.

Dawn of the Dreadfuls is a wonderful zombie novel, funny, action packed, well written,  and a warm nod to the books of old. It has to be said better than Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.


Monday, 25 February 2013

Manborg (2011) - Sci-fi Film Review

Manborg is described as a cult classic in the making, having seen it I must say I agree.  The film was made to look like an old 80's style straight to VHS (remember those?) sci-fi film.

Manborg takes place in an apocalyptic future where Nazi demons led by Count Draculon have invaded Earth from Hell. During the human/demon wars a young soldier is killed by Count Draculon after trying to avenge his brother.  Many years later he awakes...as Manborg; a cyborg warrior intent on stopping Count Draculon and his hellish forces once and for all.

I have not laughed so much in a long while, I did not expect this film to be good at all. Filmed on a budget of $1000 it was purposely made to look terrible by director Steve Kostani. I thought that the film was going to be boring but it was actually very good. What the look most reminds me of is the game Mortal Kombat, everything looks like it is filmed against a green screen, with what I imagine is very little actual sets.  The majority of the film is CGI with fantastically bad claymation effects also used (usually when a demon is shot or attacked). Manborg felt very much like a videogame.

The four main characters that make up the film are all brilliant. Manborg (played by Matthew Kennedy) is a complete idiot unable to control his cybernetic weapons, speaking in a booming loud robotic voice, and completely socially inept walking everywhere to beeps and whirs. #1 Man (Ludwig Lee) is an Asian warrior who looks like a character right out of Mortal Kombat, always straight faced and with a completely dubbed deep, deep voice. Justice (Connor Sweeney) is a brash, very cocky kid who wields a pair of pistols, lastly is Mina (Meredith Sweeney) an expert with throwing blades. The rest of the films characters for the most part are demons who are a mix of masks, prosthetics and claymation. Very pleased to see no CGI characters, everyone is refreshingly real (well, real or plasticine). All the characters are played completely over the top with terrible acting, especially physical over acting (a scene where Manborg looks shocked springs to mind). The script truly stinks but works so well because it does not take itself seriously. To paraphrase some dialogue 'Hey Bro, it's me, your brother, I died at the beginning. You did well, your a true hero...there's no heaven' May not mean much out of context but in the moment I nearly spat out my drink laughing!

Manborgs plot is simple but works well as a result. After a great introduction Manborg wakes in a demon controlled megatropolis of the future where he is captured and made to fight demons in an arena. The use of CGI for everything means there are some great (terrible but great) locations with some fantastic demons.  Fight sequences are fast and fluid (again reminding me heavily of Mortal Kombat, and also the ITV show Knightmare) while a bike chase is a particular highlight.

It would have been so easy for the film to get lost in itself and turn boring and overlong, but at 70 minutes it is  fast paced but also giving a solid show. A great look, and also a very good soundtrack that recreates the 80's vibe well.

People often say something is so bad that it's good. This is something that really tries to be bad, so bad that it turns into one of the best films I have yet seen this year. Manborg is now out on DVD and features a very funny fake trailer after the film for a feature called 'Bio-Cop'; a zombie cop who cannot die; well worth watching the credits to get to.


Sunday, 24 February 2013

Mama (2013) - Horror Film Review

The executive producer on Mama is Guillermo del Toro; him of Pan's Labyrinth and The Devil's Backbone fame (of which he was also producer). His name carries weight with it so I was expecting something deeper than usual horror films.

Mama starts with Jeffrey (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau from Game of Thrones) kidnapping his two young child 1 year old Lilly, and 3 year old Victoria after murdering his ex wife and her work colleague. He drives out into the mountains before a car crash cause him to veer off the road and into a forest. He comes across an abandoned hut where he intends to kill his children and then kill himself but his plan is stopped when a dark force appears and rescues the children. Five years later and Jeffrey's twin brother Lucas efforts to find the children has finally paid off when two rednecks discover the children living wild in the hut. No one can understand how they lasted on their own so long, but it is not long before the children are allowed to go live with Lucas and his 'rock' girlfriend Annabel. Quite soon though a ghostly presence the children call 'Mama' appears, the spirit is non too happy that her children have been taken from her...

Creepy kid films are always a miss for me in general, thankfully here it isn't totally up to the admittedly unnerving children to bring the scares but also a crazy ghost. Unfortunately most the scares in this film are jump scares, but not even ones that are that well done. Mama relies on the music creating jump scares, it rises up to a point then explodes on you, making you jump sure, but the same way you would jump if some annoying person suddenly shouted in your ear, not because something frightening has actually happened on screen.

The plot is ok in theory but is completely full of holes with sub plots that don't go anywhere. The head psychiatrist early on discovers the ghost but keeps it a secret from the family in hope of gathering material for a book he is writing, then he goes off to the hut in the woods for no real reason at all. Lucas gets a message from the ghost of his brother telling him to go off of the hut in the woods, so he does this also but just kinda wanders around doing nothing until the main plot has need of him, and why everyone feels the need to only go to the hut in the dead of night I do not know. A lot of silliness is involved to keep the film going on, for instance Annabelle has certain proof there is a deadly ghost in the house yet stays there happily, it's not like she can't leave as several times her and the children go various places only to come back later on.

What of the ghost herself? She has a back story that is slowly revealed via files and flashbacks, and she looks creepy enough, as her body was (somehow) left to rot outside it has gone all freaky looking with her limbs stretched, her body contorted at strange angles but when it comes down to it she is mostly CGI that is more notable during the haunting scenes and takes away from the experience. The reoccurring theme of moths is well done and has some good scenes but it is hard to feel anything for this strange creature.

There are some really good scenes in the film, an early one with Lilly playing tug of war with an off screen figure was well done in a Paranormal Activity style way of a fixed lengthy shot as people enter and exit the view. A later scene involving the psychiatrist in the dark having to use the flash of a camera to find out where the ghost was located was cool, and the intro sequence of a series of children's drawings showing what happened in the 5 years between prologue and film proper was a neat idea.

Bad scenes also though, in particular the completely over the top and over long final sequence set atop a cliff just dragged on and on and just made me start to not care at all about what was going on. The younger and more feral of the two sisters Lilly spends most of her screen time doing a creepy grin at the camera and whispering 'Mama' which does wear after a while, and the ending itself was quite unsatisfying.

It does have some good moments, and does work as a horror film but Mama is just let down by a few too many plot holes, characters behaving unrealistically, and an over reliance on music to create jump scares rather than what is happening in the film itself.


Saturday, 23 February 2013

Zombie Crossing (2012) - Zombie Horror Videogame Review (X-Box Indie)

I was expecting another twin stick shooter when loading up Zombie Crossing. What I instead got was a tower defence game with a fantastic soundtrack.

The game takes place in a city over run with orderly zombies, I say orderly as they follow a set blood soaked path ignoring all the other streets. Shambling out of the subway they proceed along this path until they get to the next subway were the humans are hiding. You play as a cursor, placing gun turrets, researching improvements and attempting to stop the threat from a high perspective.

Zombie Crossing has an ordered, clinical look to it. There are no humans on the map, just zombies who themselves are nothing more than static black silhouettes. The cursor is far too twitchy and sensitive making it very hard to do what you want without a lot of fiddling around. I couldn't see an option to change this insane sensitivity. When placing turrets there does not seem to be an option to change the way they are facing which led to me putting down quite a few turrets made useless by facing the wrong way. On the plus side the game has fantastic music, mellow rock music plays through out and was very enjoyable. The groans of the zombies are also well done with enough variation not to be irritating.

An ok game just let down by the crazy cursor and a rather bland look to it all. I believe it was 80 Microsoft points if your interested.


Thursday, 21 February 2013

The Zombie Farm (2009) - Zombie Horror Film Review

The Zombie Farm is a Latino zombie film that seems to be quite low budget (judging by the bad quality look of the thing). The tag line for the film is 'some things are worse than death', having seen this film I am inclined to agree.

Ana; a young woman unable to stand her husbands abuse turns to a voodoo priestess for help. She is given a potion to give to her husband. Meanwhile a film maker approaches a kind hearted con artist; Roque (the best role, played by Roberto Montesinos) with the aim to make a documentary about his work. Having discovered the potion has made her husband into an undead ghoul Ana calls on Roque for help (she had met him earlier in the film). Dragged into her conflict he, Ana, and the film maker Pilar set out to discover just what is going on.

My God this film takes a long time to get going, I actually did some timings on this. The first 34 minutes mostly follow Ana and Roque, it seems it is just there to show Roque as a lovable rogue rather than a conman. 34 minutes into the film the first zombie is seen and is promptly shot straight through the brain...but this doesn't stop the zombie who hunts Ana and her new friends like a rotting version of the Terminator. It seems the Voodoo Priestess is actually kinda evil, she (spoiler) uses her zombie slaves to work on a farm (hence the films title) for cheap labour.  If your looking for proper corpse action then skip ahead to 65 minutes where for the first time more than one zombie is shown on screen at a time and some acceptable action is given.

The Zombie Farm breaks the cardinal rule of films; if your film is boring people are not going to want to watch it. I must say I was tempted to turn it off as my yawns were increasing at a dangerous rate. The Terminator zombie may look stupid but that is nothing compared to the Voodoo Priestess's bodyguard one who appears to be the reanimated corpse of a Chinese mime, dressed head to toe in white, and with white face paint it is hilariously bad.

The film is mostly made up of a Latino cast, apparently it was released in both Spanish and English versions. It tries to explore the plight of the Latino people living in America but this is very ham-fisted with Roque going on long conversations with Pilar that seem to have nothing at all to do with what is actually going on. The use of zombies as cheap labour could be contrasted with the use of immigrants in America to do cheap labour. As a side note Roque's trademark catchphrase of 'Yabba Dabba Do!' is just plain embarrassing and is over used.

Things The Zombie Farm do right? It has a great soundtrack, all acoustic guitars, quite mellow. Despite far too much screen time Roque is a very likable character, steals all his scenes, not that that is hard with the people he is working with. The last 20 minutes are kinda entertaining, some typical zombie shenanigans with a cool resolution taking cues from Evil Dead.

Far too boring to be worth your time. If you must see this and can get it cheap then I do recommend just skipping forward to an hour in and watching it from there.


Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Warm Bodies (2013) - Zombie Romantic Comedy Film Review

Zom-Rom-Com's as Shaun of the Dead penned it are quite a narrow genre in the packed zombie field. Ones like Return of the Living Dead Part 3, and yes even Shaun of the Dead are not real romance films (and most certainly not comedies) while others such as Zombie Honeymoon are just kinda grim. Warm Bodies manages to be the closest thing yet to a true romance film due to it's almost singular focus on the love that blossoms between a young human girl and an undead ghoul.

Warm Bodies takes place over a decade after zombie apocalypse has occurred. The vast majority of the world seems to be populated by both the walking dead, and mutated zombies (called Bonies) while humans are holed up in secure compounds. The film stars Nicholas Hoult (Beast in X-Men: First Class) as R; a zombie but one who seems different from the rest. He eats brains, stumbles around and generally acts like a typical undead but his mind is strangely intact. He has a home of sorts at the airport, a best friend (fellow zombie M, a comedy turn by Rob Corddry) and wonders just what his purpose is in death. Out looking for food one day he stumbles across a group of humans looking for supplies. His group quickly overpower the humans but R becomes captivated with a young girl and decides to take her home with him rather than eat her. They form a friendship of sorts and R begins to change, to become more alive, more human.

A lot of the film is narrated by R, it kind of reminded me of the way Zombie Land is set out, similar just with a zombie protagonist rather than a human. Being a zombie I had expected it would be hard for R to come across as anything likable or otherwise but Hoult manages to pull it off, his brain dead expression is balanced with his thoughts which are intelligent and lend a humour to him, much of the humour comes with R's interaction with his love interest Julie as they slowly form a friendship.

The plot is loosely based on Romeo and Juliet (very loosely, like a rotten arm dangling off a corpse shoulder only attached by a few withered veins) and is not really all that, it is more just an excuse to explore the relationship between humans and zombies. If you have seen the trailer then you have the gist of the film's big plot but doesn't really spoil things as it is all kinda obvious anyway.

In regards to zombie action there is not really too much, apart from the early attack at the drug store by R and his cohorts there is no human vs zombie action, though the evolved zombies; the Bonies are the real threat as they bully and cajole the undead and are immune to the strange change that is turning everyone more alive. Interestingly the reason zombies want brains so much is given here that by eating the brain the ghoul can relive the victims memories that leads to some cool flashbacks.

There is no reason given for the outbreak, that is fine, mystery is good, the whole change that occurs is more bizarre though. As R's relationship strengthens with Julia he becomes more and more alive, his ability to speak drastically improves, his heart starts to beat, blood starts to pump around his body and he becomes able to sleep...no idea why. Other slight things on a geek level are that the zombies have no problem working doors, at least R doesn't but then he does seem to be different to all the other zombies even at the films start. Another thing, I'm sure swapping saliva with a zombie would lead to infection? Who knows, one to try when the real world apocalypse happens.

Warm Bodies is a very unique undead film, I always jokingly said that there should be a zombie version of Twilight, and this is the closest thing. It looks great, and while not hilarious all the time does have plenty of laugh out loud moments. The zombies are unique looking, but strangely the humans all kind of blur into one, young male soldiers all kinda bland and characterless, while John Malkovich's role as Grigio; the leader of the humans of the City Warm Bodies takes place in is just cookie cutter plain, his actions for the most part very predictable. One big negative for me is the inclusion of Dave Franco in quite a big role, I don't know why but I really don't like that actor!

I left the cinema glad I had seen the film, it was by no means bad, or even average. Well worth a watch, Warm Bodies is a fun, interesting with some entertaining characters, a film that thinks outside the box but just avoids being on the level of truly great zombie flicks.


Saturday, 16 February 2013

General Update: February 2013 - 31 years old last Wednesday Edition

So last Wednesday was my birthday, I was 31 years old. One day my life's goal of being able to work on this blog full time will come to fruition, just need to get rich. Until that time it seems unlikely I will ever catch up on all the stuff people want me to do posts about. For my birthday I got a few zombie themed things; an awesome birthday card from a friend of mine, as well as a zombie T-Shirt from my sister. I have six or seven zombie shirts now (would have been more but I once lost one in a zombie apocalypse themed bet).

Book wise I am currently reading 'Dawn of the Dreadfuls' the prequel to 'Pride and Prejudice and Zombies' and on the non physical book front I am reading Maz Marik's 'End Storm' which is another zombie style story. In the videogame scene I still have Yakuza: Dead Souls, Doom 3 BFG Edition, Blood Drive, Fallout: New Vegas, and the DLC for Dead Island to play through. One billion horror films waiting to be watched and reviewed.

There is so much stuff that I have read, played, watched , listened to in the past that I should review but don't have the time to revisit. As a result I am going to introduce a new section to my blog roughly titled 'Brain Chunks' where I will do mini reviews based on my memory of these old things. With these I can't guarantee accuracy but can at least give my thoughts on whether they are any good or not.

I am also hoping to tidy up my Index page as with near 700 different posts it can be a nightmare to navigate. I am getting towards the odyssey of revisiting old posts and spell checking, tidying up, and using non linked images. Been doing that for years now! Still if you can't be asked to look through the index you can always use the handy search box to quickly look up stuff I have blogged about.

Thursday, 14 February 2013

Skyrim: Dawnguard - Fantasy Videogame DLC Review (X-Box 360)

Dawnguard was the first of the big add ons for the already gigantic Skyrim. Dawnguard concerns a battle between Vampires and vampire hunters and features as well as a load of new missions a couple of new areas, enemy types and weapons as well as the rather pointless ability to fight while on horseback now.

After hearing rumours of a vampire hunters retreat in the mountains you set out to find it. Joining the order you infiltrate a dungeon complex where you discover a pure vampire imprisoned in a tomb who is also in possession of an Elder Scroll. Escorting her home you get given a choice; either join her family and become a vampire, or leave and stay with the vampire hunters.  Whichever choice you make the missions are pretty much identical, you most stop a Vampire Lord from using dark magic to make the world eternal night.

The vampires are a pain to fight in Skyrim thanks to their health stealing magic. I set out fully intending not to join them. I never meant to go to the evil path but the choice of becoming a vampire or staying a damn werewolf (I don't like werewolves) gave me no choice. As a vampire you are able to transform into a demon form which hovers off the ground. Unfortunately and rather bizarrely this means you are unable to enter many doorways or search items and unlock doors without a lengthy transition back into your human form. The demon form gives you increased power, the ability to turn into bats or mist, and the ability to fire magical energy that steals your victims health. You are able to also hypnotise humans to obey your commands.

Oblivion badly punished you for being a vampire making fast travel impossible thanks to the sun constantly hurting you. Here this is not a problem, also here you now get a skill tree specific to either a werewolf or vampire that lets you unlock new and better abilities.

The missions themselves are not too bad, some complaints that a couple of missions have you going to spookily identical new dungeon layouts. The vampires castle is great fun, the mission involving you entering an abandoned part of it fighting stone gargoyles and skeletons was quite good.  The best mission by far was an optional one that saw you investigating various Dwarfish ruins with a ghost. The size and scale of these dungeons was amazing, gigantic caves, quite breath taking.

A few of the missions take you to completely new places. One had you investigate the giant battlefields of a soul gem, wide, wide open spaces and strange architecture but kinda empty. Another mission saw you meet up with a new race (one thought extinct at least) and go to weird and wonderful dimensions fighting lots of the games version of goblins. Led to a great looking boss fight against someone who rains down bits of ceiling on to you so that by the end of the fight the giant chamber you are in has been totally destroyed!

Plot wise this is pretty damn terrible with some awful characters but as a game extending device it worked very well with lots of new looking locations that really were for the most part very well designed. I was at around 92 hours when I started Dawnguard. By the end of my dalliance back into Skyrim I was over 110 hours so is worth the asking price.


Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Dreadtime Stories: Wolf - Horror Audiobook Review

Wolf is the last of the Dreadtime audiobooks I have gotten a hold of. I have left Wolf till last as I really don't find werewolves to be very interesting monsters at all. Not as bad as I feared, saved by the wonderful Malcolm McDowell.

Wolf follows the middle age womaniser Jack Wolff who is staying at a holiday resort searching out his next prey. Since he was very young Jack has been after women to fulfil his appetite, it seems he is a werewolf. He has set his sights on a pretty 15 year old girl who he wants to take as his next conquest but is there more to her than meets the eye?

Wolf was the shortest of the Dreadtime stories I have heard, somewhere between 30 to 40 minutes. Luckily this has by far the most Malcolm McDowell narration, it seemed he had at least a good third of the audiobook time. The story was different in that the actual werewolf part was very slim, most the tale concerned how Jack Wolff hunted his prey, his methods for choosing who he wanted next as his victim.

A few problems with this though, firstly the werewolf scenes are confusing, it is hard to have someone being ripped apart just by audio and have a good idea of what is happening. Also a spoiler here but I am not 100% sure if Jack Wolff was actually a werewolf or not, it was never made clear.

What does work is that the acting is of a high standard, I really enjoyed the character of Jack Wolff, and the other supporting characters were also quite good. Not the best Dreadtime story, but then as I have said I am biased against werewolf tales. Still an enjoyable episode. It can be picked up over at Audiogo for the cheap price of 93p


Monday, 11 February 2013

The Last Remnant (2008) - Fantasy Videogame Review (X-Box 360)

I have been playing The Last Remnant on and off for over a year now. Finally I have given up on it, I feel I have played enough of the game to be able to give a fair review of it, though admit I never got off the first disc. The Last Remnant is a Japanese role playing game and one that is really quite, quite boring.

Rush Sykes and his sister live a sheltered life on a small island. At the games start Rush's sister Irina is kidnapped by a strange group. Rushing to her aid Rush stumbles onto a battlefield where David; Lord of a nearby City is fighting along with his 4 generals. David decides to help Rush find his sister who it seems was kidnapped due to a magical power that only she possesses. While this is going on a powerful warrior called the Conqueror is rampaging across the land with an army defeating everyone he comes across...that's as far as I got.

The game is just boring, very boring. There are loads of Cities across the world map, they may look different but all follow the same pattern. There are various item and weapons shops, an inn where most the side quests are gained and a lot of NPC characters who spout nonsense.  Dungeons are varied in theory; hills and mountains as well as literal dungeons, sewers, castles etc. The problem is that they are all set out as bland mazes, they are a snore fest to fight through looking so similar that it is very easy to get lost.

The combat system sees you in groups, you can have up to 5 leaders who all have followers meaning you can have anything upto 20 characters fighting for you, though this only equates to five actual turns per round. You always fight a ton of enemies, even the basic random encounters (well, you can see the monsters before engaging) last an age as it all takes so long to fight anything. You don't get experience points, instead various abilities level up based on goodness knows what.

The main plot is very dull, utterly no surprises and this is not helped by unlikeable characters, it is fair to say not one single character did I like. The good guys are irritating and bland, while the bad guys are nasty and also dull as dishwater.

The Last Remnant was a total chore to play through, I am relieved that I have decided to abandon it some 20 plus hours in. Avoid like the plague, there is no fun to be found here!


Sunday, 10 February 2013

The Divine Comedy 1: Hell by Dante Alighieri (1300's) - Horror Poem

The divine comedies were written by Dante in the early part of the 14th Century. They are comprised of 3 volumes; Inferno (Hell), Purgatorio (Purgatory), and Paradiso (Heaven). I had long since wanted to read them but I do admit it was only after the videogame Dante's Inferno was released that I got around to buying the books. I can't help but compare the book to the game in my review, will attempt to keep that to a minimum!

Hell starts with Dante lost in a dark forest. He attempts to climb a large mountain but is stopped by several ferocious animals. Amidst his despair Virgil; a long dead poet appears, he tells Dante that to climb the mountain (which is actually Mount Purgatory) he is going to have to go around it which involves a voyage all the way through Hell. Virgil offers to guide Dante and ensure that no evil will befall him so that he can get to the mountain and from there get to Paridiso where his dead love Beatrice resides.

The Hell Dante describes is the Christian view of Hell at the time. It is made up of 9 circles, each dealing with a different sin. Hell stretches all the way down to the centre of the Earth.  At first it seemed all a bit rushed, Dante passing from circle to circle quite rapidly, but the later circles are far more hard going and take up around half the journey. Lots of monsters, demons and damned souls are encountered along the way.

Many tortures are described as Dante descends. From the circle of Lust where souls are forever swept around by a giant wind to a boiling river where the wrathful are forced to reside. Descriptions are often quite good at giving a vivid view of what the locations look like. The woods of suicide where the trees are all people who had killed themselves, the giant burning desert where people who committed sins against God and nature are forced to either be buried in the scolding sands, or forced to forever run, where it rains eternal fire.

The most enjoyable circle to read about was the 8 bowges of fraud, each one had a different punishment for a different type of fraud, one where everyone's heads were twisted completely around (fortune tellers now forced to forever look backwards), another one where the damned were forced to wear brightly coloured metal robes (the hypocrites) and a nasty one where souls were forced to reside submerged in a lake of boiling pitch, demons would stab them with spears if they dared show their heads above the surface.

At first I couldn't help but draw comparisons between the videogame and the book, familiar characters were mentioned that I recalled as bosses in the game, and the locations were at times similar. As Hell goes on though the comparisons fade away, the later half is completely different to the game and it has to be said a lot better. In Dante's poem Satan (known here as Dis) is not some evil master of Hell, instead he is a victim the same as everyone else, impossibly huge he is encased in ice at the very bottom gnawing on Judas, Brutus and Cassius. Dante and Virgil climb down him (and then in a neat twist due to gravity reversing they then climb up him) to escape Hell.

The version of The Divine Comedy I read was translated by Dorothy Sayers in 1949. It starts with a 70 page introduction that explains the background of the time Dante lived in. Turns out many of the people he encounters in Hell are real people he knew in life, both enemies and friends (Dante had a exciting life, he was involved in battles, and was exiled from his home town). This part of the book was really quite dry and boring to be honest. The poem itself is far better. Split into Cantos each one starts with a description by Sayers of what happens which is quite useful, and ends with some descriptions of the various themes and people looked at. The last part of the book is a large glossary that I skipped past.

A great tale, a classic for all time, just let down slightly by the droning introduction. Really left me wanting to see what happens next in the further two volumes.


Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Dreadtime Stories: Reincarnal - Horror Audiobook Review

Reincarnal is the 4th of the 5 Dreadtime Stories I have got for review. This one as the title suggests deals with the theme of reincarnation.

During a hipster gathering Nora is hypnotised and regressed back to a past life where she witnesses her apparent past self being butchered by a creepy looking thin man. Back in the present she at first thinks it meant nothing, and that it was her subconscious mind creating fantasy, but then she starts having horrific nightmares about people getting killed by the same thin man. She discovers she is seeing the victims of a serial killer returned after 30 years. Using her psychic connection to the killer she works with a reporter to try and find and stop the depraved man.

Like the other tales before it there is a sense of creeping dread throughout, all the previous tales have ended with a twist ending so I was expecting this to be no different. I really quite liked the main character of Nora so wanted her to prevail against her Seven style killer. For what little actual time the killer gets his character still manages to have a fearful presence. One thing I would have to say is that the actors who play the 1980's victims do not do that great a job, sound very hammy. The plot is quite basic but never gets boring.

Malcolm McDowell again gives a fantastic narration, as I always say his voice does wonders for the quality of the play as do the many fantastic sound effects used. Another good Dreadtime Story. Like the others it costs under £1 and you get over 40 minutes of story. It can be brought from Audio Go.


Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Zombie Ed - Zombie Horror Film News

I know of a Zombie Ed, he runs a series of different zombie events including Zombie Fest. This film is not about him though, it is about a different Ed.

Released by Brain Damage Films, and directed by Ren Blood Zombie Ed is described as a horror comedy. Ed is a loser, living in a crappy apartment, no girlfriend, a terrible car. One day Ed wakes up to find out he has turned into one of the undead. Where he failed in life can he succeed in death?

The trailer is below, it looks very low budget, and didn't make me want to watch the film, but as Gangsters, Guns and Zombies showed sometimes a great film can still be found despite a terrible trailer so who knows?  Zombie Ed is out on DVD now.