Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Something's Gotta Give (2015) by All Time Low - Zombie Music Video

I first saw the video for All Time Low's Something's Gotta Give a few months back, but with such a forgettable band name I just could not remember who did it and so a lazy blog post was avoided. Thankfully I saw it again and this time made a note. The song itself is not horror based but the video certainly is.

In the video the bands singer is dressed up as a tub of French fries, he is walking around when a woman sees him and runs away screaming, he then encounters his band mates but each time he goes to hug them they recoil in horror. Eventually he catches his reflection in a window and realises that he is actually a rotting zombie. Embracing his new found ghoul-hood he proceeds to eat his band mates and then a random cat before the screaming woman from earlier shoots him dead.

I'm ashamed to say the song is really quite catchy, but regardless of the song the video is actually pretty awesome with some fun practical FX when he bites chunks out of his fellow band members. Sure it looks pretty fake but then this is a pop video; just how gory do you think it would get? Intercut with the zombie video is footage of the band performing on a street, later on after the singer has become zombified the footage of them playing has changed to a rainy setting and with everyone now zombies. Check out the video below...

Monday, 22 June 2015

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 (2014) - Horror Videogame Review (Playstation 3)

Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 is actually a sequel to the dull Castlevania: Lords of Shadow - Mirror of Fate which in turn was a sequel to the excellent Castlevania: Lords of Shadow. One terrible thing the original game did was lock the real ending behind expensive and bad DLC meaning that pretty much no one actually got to see how Gabriel Belmont became Dracula, I had hoped this game would explain that but alas it was not to be. Some spoilers of course if you have yet to play the first one

You play as Dracula (formally Gabriel) who in the prelude has his castle; Castlevania attacked by an army of the Brotherhood of Light. He manages to stop the attack but in doing so unleashes a power which destroys his castle and nearly destroys him. Awakening a thousand years later in the near future and severely weakened he discovers a giant city has been built around the remains of his home. Zobek; the Lord of Death and Dracula's long time enemy contacts him asking for his help. The acolytes of Satan have put in motion a plan to free him from Hell and so Zobek suggests an alliance to stop this from happening, in return he will kill Dracula freeing him from the torment immortality has given him.

By setting the game in modern day Lords of Shadow 2 looses a lot of what made the first game so epic. Gone are the huge vistas and varied locations, instead the game is split between two wildly different areas. Half the game takes place in a city that is in a state of ruin, an early story beat sees a virus being released that turns the infected into demons and so the city is in chaos. The problem with the city is that it is mostly so dull looking, the first area in particular (a science facility) was so boring with it's metal walkways and narrow corridors, it was a terrible introduction to the game. With the combination of Gothic architecture and modern day aesthetic there is a kind of neo-Gothic look that occasionally shines, a subway tunnel built on the foundations of Castlevania, huge statues mixed in with phone boxes, neon signs and fire hydrants; these all go together well but the sheer amount of brown and grey ruined buildings, lifeless industrial areas and sewers just cannot compete with the imaginative design of the first games areas.

Thankfully the second half the game is a lot better being based in Castlevania (via Dracula's memory or some such thing). The castle is gigantic and there are many epic views when the camera pans away to show the scale of the place. Rather than have these two different locations one after the other they are mixed up with Dracula frequently hopping back and forth between the two. I liked how these areas both had their own stories going on. The city of course was about stopping Satan's arrival while the castle section had you trying to find a way to defeat 'Inner Dracula' a being made of blood who wishes to stop you from ending your life.

The game world is now all interconnecting rather than level based, there are map rooms that let you warp around the world, while as you play you get more and more abilities to let you get to previously inaccessible areas (such as a mist ability that lets you pass through gates). Hidden around the levels are upgrades for your weapons and health while killing enemies rewards you with XP that you can use to buy new attacks or spend in a shop to buy items.

In combat you have access to three different weapon types that can be switched on the fly. Your default weapon is a whip made out of blood, this is essentially the same weapon that you used in the first game. The first of the other weapons is the Void Sword which gives you health when you attack enemies with it, while it's projectile attack can be used to freeze objects for environmental puzzles. The other new weapons are the Chaos Claws that can be used to destroy enemies armour as well as used to blow things up (again for environmental puzzles). Combat is fun enough with many different combos you can do, while the evade button means you can zip around your foes a lot. Stunned enemies can be 'finished' which usually involves you sucking the blood of the stunned monster.

There is not such a large variety of enemies to fight for this sequel, demons of various sizes and styles seem to be the default creatures, at least in the city sections, you also fight human soldiers and mechs. Trying to dodge machine gun fire is rarely fun though. The castle sections give you more old school monsters such as vampires, harpies and skeletons to battle. Special mention has to go to the many bosses, these were all fun to fight and all ended with gruesome finishers, such as a sword being flung through someones mouth, or a huge creature being sliced in half vertically. I never found any of these boss fights to be taxing but they are usually multi staged and varied, one fight has you battling against someone with all your powers you had in the first game which was a nice touch.

Not everyone you meet in this game can be defeated though and this is what I feel a lot of people did not like. Stealth pops up quite a few times here, there are huge mechanical monsters who pretty much kill you on sight, to sneak past these you can throw a swarm of bats to distract, or at certain points you can turn into a pack of rats. Now I never really struggled at any of these stealth sections, they are inoffensive enough and not frustrating.

For me what sucked the most (pun not intended) was the archaic nature of the game, this felt like Darksiders to me, a game which came out the same time as the original game, the whole ruined world vibe and the way Dracula climbs around the environment, as well as demons being the main enemy type just gave me a nostalgic hit. Usually upon entering a new area the camera will pan around to highlight just exactly where you need to go, this is a very old fashioned way of approaching sign posting and made Lords of Shadow 2 feel very dated for a game just over a year old. Even with this sign posting there were times where I knew exactly where to go, I just couldn't for the life of me work out how to get there. It can be hard to tell what things are climbable and which are not, you can highlight climbable structures but bizarrely only if you are already climbing a structure, not before. Also some enemies have huge glowing weak spots; again something out dated in modern games.

For all the dull locations there are a few interesting sections; a long chase on a moving train, a theatrical play that you get to choose characters and scenes for, a Metal Gear Solid style sneaking mission all help break up the fighting and climbing. Meanwhile the plot is initially bare bones and very game like with Zobek or the memory of your son sending you on pointless fetch quests but later on there were actually some decent plot twists even if overall the plot is unsatisfying and features an abrupt and damp ending. I was pleased to see all the big name voice actors returning though; Robert Carlyle as Gabriel/Dracula, Patrick Stuart as Zobek, and Jason Issacs as Satan all reprise their roles, though they sound far less interested in what they are saying this time around.

While it was not the first time I have played as a vampire in a game it was a nice change to play as more of a bad guy and there are some decent scenes which play on this concept, I really got quite into Lords of Shadows 2, there was a lot of fun to be had but this just all pales in comparison to the original. Nothing here matches aspects of that game, by moving the setting to a modern day setting a lot of the charm was lost, and the game mechanics already feel quite dated.


Sunday, 21 June 2015

The Sky Has Fallen (2009) - Zombie Horror Film Review

The Sky Has Fallen was written, produced, edited and directed by Doug Roos and has won a few awards including Best Feature at the 2009 Freak Show Horror Film Festival and Best Horror Feature at the 2009 Indie Gathering Film Festival, it was also nominated for Best FX at the 2012 Maverick Movie Awards.

One fateful night a bizarre infection sweeps the globe which decimates mankind; it turns the infected into zombie like creatures. At the same time comes the arrival of mysterious hooded figures; these sadistic killers not only hunt down the non infected but also perform sickening experiments on the dead and dying. Some months later and Lance (Carey MacLaren); a survivor is out in the woods hunting down the leader of these mysterious figures, he thinks if he can kill this one person then the madness will all end.

The Sky Has Fallen had a very different feel to it than other films of this type with an often dreamlike tone. Apart from a few flashbacks the entirity of this piece takes place out in dense woodland which while the location has a story based reason for it being where the characters are sure does save on budget. For the majority of this there are just the two characters; the brooding samurai sword wielding Lance, and Rachel (Laurel Kemper); a girl he meets who decides to team up with him on his quest. For a lot of the film there is little dialogue and plenty of action sequences, the duo are under constant attack from not only the undead but the hooded creatures. This gets into a comfortable cycle with fight scenes in the daytime, dialogue at night usually followed by dream sequences.

Mention has to go to the practical FX of which there are plenty, and wonderfully there is no CGI, not even for blood spray. Bullets thud into creatures with close ups showing the impact via squibs, limbs are cut off, heads severed, someone even gets their spine ripped out. This is one bloody film with the claret spreading everywhere. Blood is never in short supply and when the two are not fighting there is plenty of cut aways to random victims being butchered by either the ghouls or their masters. I always feel the need to mention this when it occurs but there are some scenes of children getting killed, something which is often missing in zombie films for some reason.

There are a lot of zombies here, the make up effects for them are pretty awesome looking, many are stitched up and with crude modifications done to them such as having a scythe blade stitched onto the stump of an arm, or chunks of glass sticking out the eye sockets. The hooded figures have cruel bony hands and are shown to be very powerful, snapping a wrist at one point, yet when they are dispatched they usually just stand there, their bodies substance less. A lot of the action scenes revolve around the samurai sword and reminded me loads of Michonne from The Walking Dead with Lance expertly handling the sword in fights that more resemble slow dances than fast paced encounters. There are also plenty of gun battles, though it was a bit off putting that the guns seemed to have infinite ammo.

Visually the film is a real treat, the special effects are superb and despite the wooded location the setting manages to never feel stale though variation would have been nice. Unfortunately when it comes to dialogue the problems arise. The script is pretty terrible, usually a series of unnatural sounding exchanges where neither character sounds like a real person and more like they are reading from a script, it fits with the dream like tone but with the speed and emotionless way in which the actors say their lines and the fast cuts it seems just plain weird. This isn't helped later on by some really silly and unneeded plot twists revealed via dialogue which just had me dumbfounded as to why anyone thought including them was a good idea. The films editing is different to what I'm used to also, the whole film features a lot of fast edits, usually it is only a few seconds before the shot changes leading to kinetic fast paced sequences which did get dizzying at times and left me hoping for some nice long lazy shots just to slow down the pace. I'm all for the fast edits when they are called for, but when even conversations are stuffed full of inserts and quick camera angle changes it gets slightly too much.

Saving the best till last is the wonderful score by James Sizemore, the music is simply beautiful managing to be so sorrowful and emotive throughout, loved the music and was by far the best thing about The Sky Has Fallen. In terms of plot I really liked how nothing was explained, there is no resolution as to just what or who the figures are, or why they are doing what they have done. It is inferred they could be demons, or even physical manifestations of the infection which spread the globe, and the mission Lance has set himself; to kill the figure he believes to be the leader, I love how it is never explained if it really is the leader or not.

At around 80 minutes this flew by at a rapid pace, The setting may eventually start to get bland, the characters may talk as if they are reciting lines, and the quick cuts may make you long for some slow moments but it certainly looks the part with some fantastic FX, great atmosphere, a decent enough plot, and the score is sublime. If you want to check this out for yourself head over here where the film can be purchased.


Saturday, 20 June 2015

The Horror Videogames of E3 2015 Round-Up

So this past week was E3; the greatest annual gaming event on Earth. During this three day event all the big game companies hold conferences to announce all the new games and show them off, here at The Rotting Zombie though I just plan to talk about the more horror focused ones, not even really including any fantasy stuff, though the one with the robot dinosaurs was apparently pretty decent, and who can't be excited by a remake of Final Fantasy VII?

Starting with the zombie games then first up is Dead Island 2 that is going to come out on the PC, Playstation 4, and X-Box One, this was announced a long time ago, I can't actually find any details about what was new about it at this years E3 so that's a good start. More gameplay was shown of Call of Duty: Black Ops III but I believe the mulitplayer was focused on and nothing of the warmly awaited zombies mode shown. Apparently the zombies mode is going to have an XP progression system and be a proper story. Plants VS Zombies: Garden Warfare 2 was announced for the big three, a cute style death match type game, this holds no interest for me. The final zombie game I'm not exactly convinced is a zombie game; Onechanbara Z2 Chaos is coming to the West for PS4, I think it is already out in Japan. Previous games in the hack 'n' slash series had you as one of two ridiculously scantily clad girls battling zombies. this seems to have the under dressed girls instead battling monsters. Here's a crazy trailer for you:

Still on the subject of zombies there were not one but two new The Walking Dead games announced. First up is The Walking Dead: Michonne by Telltale games, this is actually some DLC for The Walking Dead: Season 2 and not stand alone. As you can guess from the title it casts you as the comic book version of Michonne and over three chapters shows what happened to her one time in the comics when she vanished for a period. This is due out in Autumn so I guess that means I will have to pull my finger out and get around to playing Season 2 which I have owned for the longest time. Meanwhile Overkill is making The Walking Dead (not sure if that's the concrete title) which is being designed as a co-op experience in the vein of Payday, it has the backing of Robert Kirkman and is said to be full of role playing, stealth, survival horror and action featuring new characters and a new storyline. I just hope it is better than The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct which is meant to be a terrible mess of a game!

Now sliding along to straight up horror games we have the Wii-U exclusive Fatal Frame: Maiden of Black Water (Project Zero in the UK). This will be the fifth game in the series, the first is one of the scariest games of all time, while two and three are not bad. For some stupid reason Fatal Frame 4 never got a Western release so I'm glad this one is coming here, the awesomeness of using the Wii-U's Gamepad as the ghost killing camera is an alluring one as you can see below...

Corpse Party: Blood Drive is finally coming to Playstation Vita in the West, it is a sequel to Corpse Party but with more modern graphics, I am interested to play that as the first one sure had atmosphere. The PS4 version of the creepy sounding The Vanishing of Ethan Carter was shown, in the game you play as a paranormal detective searching for the titular Ethan in a rural setting. Rather than any action you explore your surroundings to piece together the mystery. Also on PS4, and an exclusive is Until Dawn that sounds like a typical teen slasher film but in game form. You play as a series of characters trapped at a remote log cabin being stalked by a crazed killer. If a character dies then they stay dead and the story changes appropriately meaning there is the possibility of multiple differing playthroughs. This could be good, a bit unsure, it looks pretty at least.

There are a hell of a lot of remasters being created at the moment, a few of them are appropriate to mention. Devil May Cry 4, Resident Evil 0, God of War III and Gears of War are all getting smartened up and released once again for some reason, talking of Gears the fourth game in the cover based shooter was teased also but I have yet to play the third or Judgement so I need to catch up. The new trailer for Doom 4 (simply titled Doom) was shown off and it seems to be going back to its roots with far more fast paced action. I adored Doom 3, it is actually in my top 10 games of all time but I don't mind this one losing the story elements, the only weird bit at the moment is the finishing moves which you can do on enemies, just seems a bit pointless.

While I do own Dark Souls I haven't even played it, and so have yet to pick up Dark Souls II so the announcement of the third didn't really give me much excitement. I'm sure the game will be good but coming off the triumph that was Bloodborne the slower paced combat leaves me feeling a bit cold. Vampyr was announced for the new generation from Focus Home Interactive, I don't know many details other than it is going to be a horror based RPG were you play as a vampire (vampyr?) in what seems to be Victorian London, I kinda dig the concept trailer so hope the game is actually any good.

Onto post apocalypse now and the videogame version of Mad Max was also shown off, there is both lots of driving and on foot sections with the car you drive being fully customisable, looks pretty at the very least. More of Fallout 4  was shown, this time around the game takes place in Boston, it looks like it is going to be more of the same but with a current generation sheen I am more than happy to once again explore the wastelands if the combat has been improved. A companion app for iOS and Android is Fallout: Shelter which from what I can gather you get to design your own Fallout shelter maybe for use in the main game?


I'm towards the end of the horror type games so onto sci-fi briefly. For the PC XCOM 2 has been announced. Its a strategy based game like it's predecessor (that once again I own but have yet to play. It takes place in an alternate time line where aliens have conquered the world.  New DLC for Destiny is coming in the form of The Taken King, I didn't get the previous DLC due to not thinking it was worth the asking price so will not be getting this either unless it releases at a fair price. Halo 5: Guardians was announced for the X-Box One, no interest for me as the series has never caught me, apparently there is going to be some horde mode playable for over 20 people. On the subject for under whelming sequels a new Metroid game in the form of Metroid Prime: Federation which is to be a first person shooter on the Nintendo 3DS. People have been complaining that not only is it a spin off and doesn't even star Samus but that it seems to be entirely multiplayer focused. Lastly a trailer for Mass Effect: Andromeda was shown which has the crew of the Normandy exploring new worlds and has a western vibe to it. Let's hope it is better than Mass Effect 3!

Now to finish off more was shown of Rise of the Tomb Raider, I really hope it keeps some of the horror elements that made Tomb Raider so utterly awesome, if it does then I shall be picking that up sharpish.  More was also shown of Batman: Arkham Knight, I adored Batman: Arkham Origins and with this new one being current generation only it should at the very least look fantastic. So there you go, a long post but it seems plenty of games coming out and lots to look forward to!

Friday, 19 June 2015

Done In (2014) - Short Horror Film Review

Dark Art Films' award winning short horror Done In is now available to watch online for free at Eli Roth's Crypt TV network, also I will imbed the film below. Due to the nature of this short I don't think I'm really going to be able to say much about it.

Guy Henry (Holby City, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows) stars as Harry and as Done In progresses you realise he is writing a suicide note. He talks about the life he had with his deceased wife and how no amount of money can replace losing the love of his life.

This short is eight minutes long, though with the credits not included it is pretty much a straight seven. What actually happens is mostly silent, Harry is sat down writing his suicide note, while he narrates what he is writing. In line with what he is writing his facial expressions change, he wonders around the ornate room he is in, looking at old photo albums while an old clock tick tocks away in the background, he very much has the image of a man preparing for the end. It is a very talky piece but it flew by at a rapid pace, I was engrossed by the letters words, Henry has such a calm, relaxing voice while some of the words in the note were actually quite beautiful and touching. Meanwhile there is such a sense of kindness and sympathy for the character that you can't help but like him.

The finale blew me away, I can honestly say I was not expecting that and so the power of the moment was intensified, to say any more would ruin it all. Done In was expertly cast, looks the part and was just plain superb, you should check it out below.


Sunday Shorts: Done In
A man writes a goodbye to the world.
Posted by Crypt TV on Sunday, 14 June 2015

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Maggie (2015) - Zombie Horror Film News and Trailer

Maggie has been described as a tense, arthouse zombie film but the biggest reason people are going to watch it is that it stars the iconic Arnold Schwarzenegger. You might be thinking that him and zombies would equal ridiculous over the top balls to the wall action but instead this seems to be going down a more slow paced apocalypse, think more The Road than Dawn of the Dead.

From what I gather Arnold plays the father of a girl who has become infected in a zombie infested world, as her slow transformation occurs he does everything in his power to protect her against the people who would wish her harm.

I am quite looking forward to this horror which is due to come out in cinemas on 24th July. It is actually making it's UK debut at the Edinburgh Film Festival this Saturday (20th June). It is directed by Henry Hobson and marks his first directed film. Check out the short trailer below...

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

The Wicker Tree (2011) - Horror Film Review

The Wicker Man is a stone cold classic British horror film, that just cannot be denied, it is surreal, and clever and features not only one of legend Christopher Lee's greatest roles as Lord Summerisle but has one of the very best twist endings in a horror with an unforgettable climax. The Wicker Tree is directed by Robin Hardy who was also the directer of The Wicker Man so I hoped this loose sequel would also be good.

A young Texas couple; cowboy Steve Thomson (Henry Garrett), and his famous gospel singer fiancee Beth Boothby (Brittania Nicol) head to Scotland in order to try and convert the people there to the lords way for their church. With things not going well in the city, businessman Sir Lachlan Morrison (Graham McTavish) invites the couple to go to the countryside to his remote village where he assures them the villagers will be more willing to listen. As anyone who has seen the original will guess Morrison has a more sinister agenda in mind...

The Wicker Tree is not a good film, I had to get that out the way first, I was sorry to come to this conclusion as at first it really was quite enjoyable, but the film peaked too soon with it losing steam in it's final third and managing to be both tedious and predictable. I had been planning to watch this film anyway but with Christopher Lee's sad passing last week I bumped it up due to him having a guest appearance here. Originally he was going to play the main lead but an injury led to him dropping out so instead he appears in a flashback briefly, with it insinuated that he is the same character from The Wicker Man.

Obviously this is set in modern day rather than the 1970's and while I think it is a sequel rather than a reboot much of what happens is kind of similar. There are lots and lots of songs sang throughout, not as weird here as with Thomson being a gospel singer it makes sense she would sing, also like the original there is plenty of nudity there to act as temptation for the innocent couple, while the village folk seem all too ready to burst into creepy Scottish songs at a moments notice. There is not any real surprises as it is pretty obvious what is going to happen, I said to myself I would have been disappointed if it had ended any way other than what I expected but it met my expectations and still vastly underwhelmed me.

The problems started with the choice of actors and the characters they play. McTavish is a poor mans Lord Summerisle, he had giant shoes to fill and while he gives his all to the role his character just is not a patch on Lee's performance. On the other side of the morality side the Texan couple are such wet blankets and dull that I could not care less what happened to them. Thomson soon reveals his religious beliefs to be weak, his character is quite dense and conforming to the stereotype of the dumb brash cowboy, meanwhile the character of Boothby just has nothing to her, Hardy's attempt at making her into a head strong heroine fail as she just has nothing to her character at all.

I really wanted to like The Wicker Tree, I almost did, it steadily gets better and better up to the sixty minute mark, the couples dealing with the bizarre villagers and the expectation of a cruel twist kept me kind of glued. At the hour mark and with Lee's minute long appearance passed (a great scene no less) the slow burn of the final third up to the nonsensical ending, and the failure to create any sort of tension drained my enthusiasm. I found myself clock watching, even giant nods to the first film could not get me interested, nothing surprised, nothing made me feel any kind of emotion and I was left wondering just what was the point of it all.

There are certainly worse films out there and this does have it's moments of interest but there is none of the atmosphere and that last third really did just ruin it all. I'm kinda glad Lee wasn't able to play the lead role, he dodged a bullet indeed.


Monday, 15 June 2015

Bloodborne (2015) - Horror Videogame Review (Playstation 4)

I love Demons Souls, I love what I played of Dark Souls but I have to confess I am ill suited to playing those sort of games as they are very hard and unforgiving. When I discovered there was to be a new game in the genre of tough as nails explore-o-thons and that it was going to be horror based rather than fantasy I just knew I had to play it and so was one of the rare games I actually went out and brought new.

Now the story is very obtuse and so I don't think for a moment I will be able to accurately explain the gist. You start the game getting a demonic blood transfusion which gives you the ability to fight monsters as a Hunter. After passing out you awaken in a deserted medical centre in the Gothic city of Yharnam, it seems the majority of the residents of this city have mutated into hideous monsters, the non affected have all hidden away indoors while Hunters such as yourself stalk the streets to battle these creatures with it being indicated that when dawn comes the monsters will vanish.

Despite owning a few of these types of games Bloodborne is the first one I have actually completed, I kinda feel proud of that fact as I'm not the best to be brutally honest. Think of the Metroidvania style of game where you are in one huge level where you explore to find new items and unlock new pathways. Now instead of 2D change that into a third person game. As you work your way through the city you find lanterns which when lit give you the ability to travel to the Hunter's Dream where you can use blood echoes (basically experience points) to level up as well as buy supplies and quick travel to any lantern you have unlocked.

In the Souls games you are meant to walk around with a weapon and a shield, fighting seems quite slow paced but not so here. The best way to fight is by attacking constantly, your character is fast and can dive around and quick step like a loon, and there is one ingenious way the game forces you to keep attacking. If you take damage you have a small window in which you are able to regain lost health by hitting an enemy, this leads to intense periods of battling before quick stepping out the way to have a breather. Usually I am Captain Cautious so the fact that I changed my usual tactics shows this way works. Also unlike the Souls games you have access to a gun, this is purposefully underpowered though and is just meant to be used to stun enemies.

Bloodborne is not a game where you can charge around though, there is danger around every literal corner and it does not take long for you to be dispatched (to respawn at the last lantern you used) so I would find myself ever so slowly inching through the levels, heart pounding at the knowledge that at any moment I could find myself dead and my precious blood echoes lost. As with the Souls games should you die all your experience is lost, make it back to where you met your end and you get a chance to collect it, but in a cruel twist of fate you are now more than likely going to discover a enemy is holding onto it.

With it's Gothic setting this is very much a horror game, with cathedrals, castles, graveyards and an exaggerated Victorian London vibe there is nothing safe and sound here. From cobbled streets to swamps and nightmare planes of barren rock the variety took me by surprise. The monsters you face are for the most part fantastically designed; huge rats in the sewers, towns folk roving in gangs armed with all manner of sharp implements, werewolves, witches, reapers and hat wearing giants among a huge throng of others, there is a crazy amount of unique enemy types that all the way up to the games finish were surprising me in their scope. The bosses on the other hand are not always the best to look at, many of them are huge multi limbed monstrosities that fill up the screen and thematically go together well but are just such a mess of different parts that they don't really look like anything. I actually found the humanoid looking bosses to be far more fun to fight. As with the normal enemies though there are a huge amount of these, including plenty of optional ones and even a few secret ones.

The ambiguous storyline was really interesting, a lot of the back story is told in item descriptions while a lot of the time you just try and work it out yourself. A university lost in a nightmare, an exiled old hag living out in the woods all, combine to make Yharnam seem real, the design is top notch and the game looks fantastic. The soundtrack is also top tier and I will definitely be purchasing that.

Aside from the game proper there are also Chalice Dungeons, these are randomly generated dungeons that you can battle through for unique items and in a nice touch actually feature quite a lot of bosses and monsters that are not in the main game proper. The design is not the best for these and certainly feel different in tone to the rest but I found them fun to do in small chunks and they really help in getting blood echoes. Another part of the game is the ability to summon other players to team up with them, I tried this once, it didn't work as it is a science to actually find someone. Enemy players are also able to invade your game, thankfully this only happened once. Like the Souls games you can look at signs on the floor of the game world which when accessed show a ghost of a player dying, and there are also notes left everywhere by other players to provide clues and help.

I wanted to love this game and judging by my heap of praise I indeed did love this game. It is not perfect, the quick travel system could have been more streamlined, while occasionally it can get so hard that it feels like you are treading water. Initially it had ridiculous load times but a patch has fixed that issue and so towards the end of my 35 hour playthrough this was no longer an issue. Bloodborne is the first essential game of this generation.


Sunday, 14 June 2015

The New Neighbors (2015) - Short Zombie Film

Here at The Rotting Zombie HQ I often times review short horror films, yet with The New Neighbors clocking in at just under three minutes I decided it wouldn't get a proper review.

Unable to deal with the constant noise of New York Joe moves out to the country and buys a remote house, yet after discovering who his new neighbour is he starts to have second thoughts about the location change.

I quite enjoyed this short, the majority of the comedy piece is narrated by the lead character who has a soothing voice to listen to, locations look nice and there is nothing wrong with the actors. The zombie make up was passable, while the plot was simple but fun. This was written, directed and edited by Ryan Blackwell who also stars as Joe and the zombie. It has been entered in a contest; My Rode Reel 2015 so check it out below and if you like what you see then head on to the contest page (here) and give Blackwell your vote.

Friday, 12 June 2015

Lara Croft and the Temple of Osiris (2014) - Fantasy Action Videogame Review (Playstation 4)

When I heard there was to be a sequel to the 2010 isometric action game Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light I was very excited, I had so much fun with that game; a near perfect co-op experience. This time around the game can be played with up to four players and is on current gen consoles.

Lara and her rival Carter Bell are both on a mission to find the ancient relic known as the Staff of Osiris, they have tracked it down to an Egyptian pyramid but upon claiming it the God Set appears and marks the duo for death, for the staff had kept imprisoned the Gods Horus and Isis who were the last ones to fight against evil Set. They tell Lara and Carter that if they help them gather up the body parts of their father Osiris then they will be able to remove the curse that threatens them.

Now maybe I am misremembering the first game but the dungeons of this one seem a lot smaller and simpler than before. I believe the first had a straight progression from start to end where here you get a large hub area which gives you some slight control in what order you battle the levels. Paradoxically despite a larger amount of levels (however reduced in size they may be) the variation is instead a lot less than before, for the most part you are just working your way through pretty much identical looking dungeons.

I feel like designing the game for four players has dumbed down the complexity of the puzzles, there were a few that really stumped me and my co-op partner for a while but the majority were really quite simple. Despite now featuring four characters there are only two different types of abilities spread over the group. Lara and Carter have pretty much the same move set as Lara in Guardian of Light. She has her twin pistols, she has a grappling hook that can be used to create a tight rope, or to climb up sheer walls, and she has the ability to light torches. Isis and Horus have a slightly different and not as good move set than Totec had (the other character in Guardian of Light). Both are able to create a force field that acts much like Totec's shield, and can use their staff to move certain glowing objects. Rather than have spears they are armed with lasers that are required in a number of puzzles where you have to bounce the laser beams off of mirrors. The problem is that this laser is far less fun than Totec's spears as that involved the other player (they could use thrown spears as makeshift platforms) while shooting a laser doesn't involve the other players at all.

There seems to be a lot more action this time around, regularly you will find the screen flooded with large scarabs, skeletons and crocodile men, and with a variety of weapons unlocked as you progress these can be fun to defeat even if it is entirely possible to loose your character in the heat of battle. The bosses are fun enough to fight, most of them being Egyptian Gods such as the huge crocodile beast Sobek who also appears to chase the group in several of the games fun chase sequences.

Thankfully despite all this retreading of old ground Temple of Osiris is still a lot of fun to play in co-op, there are still lots of ways to grief your friends such as using your force field as Isis or Horus to push them off a cliff, stepping off essential switches at the worst moments, and laying down bombs to blow them into the air as they pass by, all fun despite the many real world punches I got for griefing! Another way to grief is to greedily steal away all the gems dotted around the levels. Gems are used to unlock the hundreds of treasure chests in the game but unfortunately the usual reward for opening a chest is some sort of lame power up you can equip, none of these seemed worth the effort of having so I soon tired of even bothering to open up any chests.

Being a downloadable next generation game (well current gen now) it does look prettier than before with some nice particle effects used and a crisp clear look to the game, but this can't hide what is really more of the same, there is no real innovation here, and instead the smaller and more thematically similar levels show up how much better Guardian of Light was designed. The plot as before is not memorable at all though that was no surprise, and again I heavily suspect single player would be quite bland. Still as a fun co-op game it cannot be faulted, I had a heck of a lot of fun playing it regardless of it's many issues.


Wednesday, 10 June 2015

The Taste of Evil Brains (2015) by Evil Brain Taste - Zombie Music Video and News

There's been a hole in my life ever since the awesome zombie death metal band Send More Paramedics died (may their rotted corpses R.I.P) however I have now discovered a seemingly newly risen UK zombie death metal group in the form of Evil Brain Taste who sent me an email about a music video for their debut album.

The band members (Bone, Stench, Chot, and Legg) play while dressed as zombies and all their songs seem to be about zombies or eating brains. The video for The Taste of Evil Brains starts with two hipsters being shown a dilapidated house by an estate agent, with the sight of zombies in the distance he hurries the couple inside. The duo keep encountering the undead in the property until they get knocked out and awake tied to chairs where Evil Brain Taste play in front of them.

With lyrics such as 'flesh is tasty but all we want is brains can't stop the hunger running through my veins' they certainly are not trying to impart a serious message but instead it is just plain fun to listen to. They have recently released an album on iTunes and other music download services titled Dead Dead Bad which as it was cheap (£3.99 in the UK) I just had to purchase, listening to it as I write this post and it is quite enjoyable if your into the zombie metal genre. Check out the video for The Taste of Evil Brains below and see if it's your cup of brains...

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Pernicious (2015) - Horror Film News

Pernicious is a horror film from director James Cullen Bressack (My Pure Joy, Blood Lake) that has been on the official selection for a variety of film festivals around the globe as well as won a few awards including best director (Underground Monster Carnival) and best horror film (Hollywood Weekly Magazine Film Festival 2014). It has been described as 'a bloody, supernatural horror flick'.

Three young girls go on a trip to Thailand to teach English for the summer but while there they unwittingly free the spirit of a murdered child who appears as a gold statue. With the golden girl wanting nothing more than to kill, the trio must delve into Thai folklore and find a way to stop the madness.

From the trailer you can view below it looks like Pernicious could be interesting, the antagonist of a gold girl haunting the girls looks like she could be creepy while dream sequences or maybe actual events of people being tortured seem to cover those hankering for some more Saw/Hostel style misery. It stars Ciara Hanna, Emily O'Brien, and Jackie Moore in the lead roles and as well as directing it Cullen Bressack is also the films writer.

Pernicious is currently available to pre order on iTunes and will be coming out On Demand on 19th June as well as showing in a limited number of selected cinemas. Check out the trailer below and see what you think...

Monday, 8 June 2015

Insidious: Chapter 3 (2015) - Horror Film Review

The first Insidious film really impressed me, at the time it felt like a breath of fresh air, yet the sequel; Insidious: Chapter 2 was not so good. Bearing that in mind I lowered my expectations for the third film which is actually a prequel and follows psychic medium Elise.

Elise (Lin Shaye) is visited by a young girl; Quinn Brenner who wishes to contact her mother who died a few years previously. Elise is unable to help her but instead gives her a warning about trying to contact the dead as anyone could be listening. After a car accident caused by an apparition Quinn finds herself bed bound back at her apartment flat. Soon strange goings on start to happen with a shadowy figure who seems to be haunting the girl and wishing her harm. Meanwhile Elise has had a vision of Quinn in trouble but she has her own personal demons to battle as due to an incident in her past she has stopped using her powers.

I enjoyed Insidious: Chapter 3 but it met my expectations in the sense that it really was more of the same. There is far too much of a reliance on jump scares and while a few times I nearly fell out of my seat in shock it is a lazy way to generate scares, thankfully there are some sequences later on in the film that actually create fear through well filmed pieces and not by flinging monsters at the screen. The being haunting Quinn is a scarred figure wearing a breathing mask and is creepy enough when you only get glimpses of the demon, though later on in the film you get to see more and more of the antagonist and it does loose some of its impact through over exposure. With Quinn having both her legs in casts she is powerless to escape the attention of this evil entity, many scenes take place in her bedroom, these horror scenes are quite effective as the victim is literally unable to do anything except lie there and shiver on her bed as she's tormented.

The main plot in particular just doesn't do enough to separate it from all the other films of this type, nothing surprised me and there were no real stand out moments. The side plot of Elise regaining her lost confidence was a lot more enjoyable, her character was the most likable from the first two Insidious films so getting to see more of her was a great thing. Being a prequel it succeeds as not only does it give further background on her but also nods its head at both the first two films with a cliffhanger ending that leads into Insidious, as well as more background on the veiled 'woman' that haunts Elise whenever she enters the dark world. Comedy duo Tucker and Specs also turn up here once again, as always their characters are too over the top funny seeming at odds with the horror world they inhabit. They do have some great lines and it was interesting to see how they came to meet Elise but they just do not fit in what is otherwise a serious horror film.

The main cast do a fine enough job but there are some dud actors, Quinn's brother Alex played by Tate Berney was not great, the best thing I can say about him is that he doesn't get much screen time. In fact he does so little, and adds so little that the film would have been no worse off if they had just written him out entirely. Special effects are not bad but they didn't really do much to stand out either while the score fits the films tone well but is not memorable.

I liked the idea of having a truly powerless heroine and that definitely made the scenes in the girls bedroom effective, I liked seeing more of Elise's past, but overall Chapter 3 just doesn't do enough to stand out. I enjoyed it and it is a better film than the second in the series but it is never going to be anyones favourite horror.


Sunday, 7 June 2015

The Evil Within: The Executioner (2015) - Horror Videogame DLC Review (Playstation 4)

The Executioner is the third and final DLC to be released for survival horror videogame The Evil Within, the first two being The Assignment and The Consequence. I had heard that this one was not story based and instead mission based but that is slightly incorrect.

Taking place after the events of The Evil Within you play as a father who has been convinced by the dodgy organisation Mobius to enter the deadly STEM program in order to rescue his daughter who is trapped inside it and is on the verge of being lost forever. Once in the dream world you find your appearance has changed; you are now a hulking monster (a box headed creature). You are tasked with hunting down and killing everyone in the device in order to free the girl.

This DLC all takes place in first person rather than the usual third person perspective. This kind of reminded me of Condemned: Criminal Origins in that your melee weapons have real heft to them and so you have to time your attacks slightly. What was strange that not once was I made aware of the controls, most of them I figured out on my own but it wasn't until the final boss that I realised my weapon had an alternate attack and that I had the ability to run. It felt a bit off that I died repeatedly due to simply not knowing the controls that the game didn't feel the need to tell me.

 Your character at first only has access to a giant hammer but as you progress you unlock more weapons in the shop area that include a chainsaw, rocket launcher as well as tools such as bear traps and dynamite. You also are able to upgrade these weapons as well as upgrade your abilities such as getting more health, better defence and a faster walking speed (being a large brute you are really quite slow). To purchase all these you need to collect coins that are obtained by defeating enemies as well as destroying destructible scenery such as crates and vases.

For the most part you get assigned missions to kill one of seven different boss type characters with half the game taking place in the mansion area from the main game, and the other half being the torture rooms under the mansion. While being in first person makes these look slightly different it was a shame that this DLC featured no new areas at all. You are able to scan the environment that reveals hidden diary notes and coins, while aside from your main mission there are fun challenge rooms that feature plenty of usable scenery such as spinning blades and spiked walls.

The normal enemies you fight are easy to defeat, when they are stunned you can press square to do a ultra violent finisher such as crushing a downed enemies head with your boot, or impaling one with the spiked side of your hammer. This features tonnes of blood but it was a weird slightly pink colour rather than red and so the gross factor was lost a bit. Bosses are slightly different in that usually there are alternate ways to defeat them than just attacking. One of them for instance stands on a balcony and so you have to stun explosive enemies and then fling them at him to inflict damage.

There is story which seemed a bonus; there are plenty of diary entries from your characters daughter, as well as Mobius files but these seem just an excuse to carry you through the game, I did not find the plot to be gripping in the slightest and the files are bare bones. While it was cool that there actually was a plot I do wish there had been more to it.

At about an hour and a half in length I soon saw the end of The Executioner, after the fantastic DLC that came before I did feel let down by this one. It lacked some of the polish of the others while the story is poor and there is not enough variation. It was novel to get to play as a monster and I did have fun but to be honest this is average stuff.


Friday, 5 June 2015

Harvest (2015) - Short Horror Film Review

Harvest (Hosten) is a nineteen minute award winning short horror directed by Martin Sonntag and Kim Sonderholm (who also stars in it). Kim is in pretty much every film ever made in Denmark so was great to see him once again. This short had a delightful introduction by the Troma legend Lloyd Kaufman.

John is an illegal organ harvester who works for a shady criminal and commits murder to get the organs he needs. After botching a kidney retrieval his boss warns him that he only has until the next morning to get a replacement with extreme consequences should he fail. A desperate John starts his search for the right victim...

First of all though the film is in Danish with English subtitles I really could not fault the acting. I understand it is hard to judge the way the characters actually speak but it sounded right, and there was no over acting either which always helps. Sonderholm is on form here playing as the emotionless John. Siff Anderson also stars as a woman who is selected by John, by contrast her character seems playful and so they contrast well.

The plot is based on the urban myth of people having their organs stolen by strangers and is played out well here. This is a cautionary tale with a great twist ending that added some much needed humour. There are a few scenes of bloody violence which feature no end of blood and yet there was a disharmony to these scenes that did reduce the overall films effect on me.

There is organ harvesting and so bodies are cut into, unfortunately the fake bodies used in these scenes do not look realistic at all. The first of these scenes hid this fact by having plenty of blood and shots of a real body mixed in, yet the second of these ones has a body being cut into that I at first struggled to even recognise as a body, the colour and texture was all wrong, later on in this sequence what is obviously a dummy then features. This was a real shame as it did detract from my enjoyment of what was otherwise nearly a great piece of short film making.

Outside of the second scene of gore there was a lot done right here, the plot was interesting, the characters had motivations to their actions and there is nothing to fault with the directing, the only other small problem was that some of the English subtitles were incorrectly spelled and the cover picture is just plain weird but that was minor at the most.

I enjoyed Harvest, so if you get the chance it is well worth a watch. There are due to be plenty of screenings of this short, it can next be seen at Kultfilmsfestivalen in Alingsas, Sweden on 27th June.


Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Munecos (2015) - Short Horror Film Review

Munecos is a short horror from Chile, at first I thought against reviewing this as it is in Spanish and there are no English subtitles, but apart from a brief phone call there is no dialogue so I feel I got the gist of it. Munecos translates as doll/dolls I believe from my quick Google search.

A detective is working from home investigating a series of strange serial killings in his town when he gets a knock at the door. There is no one outside but he discovers a creepy little black figurine which he brings back inside his apartment, it isn't long before the detective falls asleep and starts to have the worst nightmare of his life...

Munecos is eleven minutes long and is all centred on the one character as he works at home, despite the language barrier I do feel I got everything that went on here though it is strange that the man should bring in the doll statue he finds on his doorstep. The score does the job well enough, it invokes mystery and horror but in general the film itself isn't scary. The whole dream sequence reminded me a lot of a budget Silent Hill world; set at a circus it seems and has lots of set dressing of bodies under plastic sheets. I liked the fact that while at first seeming like it would be a thriller it instead turned slightly supernatural.

This was an interesting film and I appreciated the resolution though ending on a needless jump scare felt a bit cheap (still effective though), also the fact there were no end credits seemed a bit strange, and it would have been nice to know what was said in the phone conversation that occurs at some point. Still the actor does a good enough job and the film is not shot badly. Check it out below...