Tuesday, 31 October 2017

31 MORE Days, 31 MORE Screams: Day 31 (Halloween H20)

Happy Halloween! Was it a productive day? Did you get any Halloween treats? I have a bunch left over so I'm currently snacking on shit intended to be given to nine year-olds in masks. We gave out Reese's cups. Y'know. The good shit. Of course, as a grown-ass adult I can't go out and get candy from strangers... so instead I watched movies with the horrifying death of human beings as spooky entertainment. John Carpenter's Halloween has become a tradition for me since 2013, and rewatching it today it's just as great. I wrote about it last year as the capstone for this, and yeah. Still good! I hold a fair bit of disdain for Halloween 2, and it doesn't really do much for me beyond being Halloween Part 2: This Time With MORE Grisly Kills! Beyond Halloween 3 I don't really care to go after any of the sequels... save this one. The idea of this one sounded neat enough that I figured I'd give it a spin. A Godzilla 1984 sort of situation that ignores all of that other stuff I don't care about to be a years-later sequel to the original... and I guess by extension Halloween 2 has to be there because it also continues the Laurie Strode plotline. Fine, okay, it's canon. What does the world of Halloween look like 20 years later, its own future update now almost as old as the original was at the time? Join me for one last haunt and we'll find out.

Monday, 30 October 2017

31 MORE Days, 31 MORE Screams: Day 30 (Digital Devil Story: Megami Tensei)

One last song and dance before the finale, kids! We've got a doozy of a secret origin here, as these are the roots of a long-running series. Shin Megami Tensei and its various branches are a hell of a thing, and this year I completed two of them. The first, Persona 4 Golden, was a complete masterpiece and I wrote 5000 words about it. It is almost assuredly the second-best, if not best, video computer game I played this year. The second game, on the other hand, was the original. Digital Devil Story: Megami Tensei. Well, the Super Famicom remake, but who's counting? I didn't really write about it, though I likely could have. Good thing I didn't, because now I can do this. That first game was actually a loose adaptation of a series of horror novels... and the first of those novels was actually turned into a Japanese OVA. It was watching that which got me to play Megami Tensei the first, and now I've returned to waffle about it for a few hundred words as one of the closers of our marathon. Dig in, kids. We're going into one hell of a world here.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

31 MORE Days, 31 MORE Screams: Day 29 (Black Mirror)

Finally, something that's a little more straightforward. It still manages to be fucked up in a lot of ways, but in that good late October way where we indulge the darker side of things. Black Mirror is kind of what the name says; a twisted and weird reflection of our world and how certain elements of it can lead to nightmare dystopia scenarios. I guess it's kind of like The Twilight Zone for the modern age, being an anthology show... but there's no weird supernatural bullshit like aliens in the two episodes I watched. The ideas presented in these episodes probably won't happen in our world, but they're natural outcroppings of current themes in our culture. Or something. Black Mirror has something to say about the human condition, and it manages to do that with weird and wild fucked up scenarios. I should get into those episodes, huh? Only two this time, unlike the three I gave Star Trek... but the latter was a 90-minute one so it ends up being the same amount of time spent on it. I trusted Twitter pals to tell me which ones to go for, and ended up with these two. If there are better spooky-themed ones in the show, then my apologies. This is what I picked, and they were fucked enough to warrant inclusion on the blog. Without ado, let's pop on in.

Saturday, 28 October 2017

31 MORE Days, 31 MORE Screams: Day 28 (Doctor Who: Ghost Light)

I like this image 'cause it makes the mansion look like
I really don't make things easy for myself, even near the end, do I? Granted, I have picked a pet era of mine to play with. We're in the wild and wonderful word of Sylvester McCoy-era Doctor Who, the last dying embers of the classic series. This is where I first got my feet wet in the history of Doctor Who as a thing other than that new and flashy show I'd been watching for a few years, and everything here is basically genius in some way. I already covered one of its twelve stories this year when I made a passionate defense of Paradise Towers, but this is equally as tricky. It's not that Ghost Light is a bad story. It's the 80th best story ever, according to fan poll malarkey. It's... a bit of a heavy one, though. More than that, I have to tie it into the spooky season somehow. That shouldn't be too hard, as it has a spooky Gothic Victorian atmosphere and deals with a muted version of what was going on in Event Horizon, with the idea of a place itself being bad. Let's try and dive into this as best we can.

Friday, 27 October 2017

31 MORE Days, 31 MORE Screams: Day 27 (Event Horizon)

Sorry not sorry. 
Well now, that was... interesting, to say the least. Thank goodness I'm back in my usual spot of talking about movies and TV shows and stuff. Sure, I do it just as surface level as the other things, but it's like a comfort food at this point and I'm used to how it works and how to talk about it. To that end, here's a 20 year old space horror movie. Event Horizon is a strange beast, at once feeling like it's plucking elements from other popular horror films and, at the same time, being its own wholly original and unique-ish thing. Some of the concepts it works with really resonate well with me, especially the reveals late in the movie. I admit though, that as soon as I saw Paul Anderson's name on this I was expecting a goofy trash-fest akin to his Resident Evil movies (next year maybe?). To my surprise, this plays it fairly straight. It's a pretty decent little spooky space film, so let's do the usual thing and delve into it for like a couple hundred words or whatever. Boy howdy am I going to appreciate only having to do that much when November hits and I'm doing 1700 fiction words a day. Anyway. Event Horizon!

Thursday, 26 October 2017

31 MORE Days, 31 MORE Screams: Day 26 (Kraven's Last Hunt)

(Hey kids, just wanted to pre-empt this one with a respectable plug since it's basically the reason I'm doing this. Pal of the blog, Sean Dillon, requested this one. He's also doing a great big longform psychochronography project on it, and God help him with that quest. Go check out his blog, Fearful Symmetry , for that. Now for my far less thorough and surface level take...)

Another day, another medium I've never really tried to write critical about, and another subject that makes you go "what the fuck does this have to do with Halloween?" at first glance. I wondered much the same when I looked into what this was. A 6-part Spider-Man comic? With Kraven? Fucking KRAVEN? I admit my only real Spider-Man knowledge comes from the 90's cartoon series, so I immediately recognize Kraven as "that jungle hunter fucker". Someone like the Green Goblin or Venom seems like a bigger spooky threat to Spider-Man, based on their importance to that mythos in general. That this works at all may be a minor miracle, but I'm here to tell you that it does indeed pull it off. Even better, it manages to have some gnarly and wild shit in it that makes it a good choice indeed for a spooky marathon. Let's go through it, then. Kraven's Last Hunt.

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

31 MORE Days, 31 MORE Screams: Day 25 (Haunting Kate Bush Songs)

Oh, for the love of God. What the hell am I doing here? Here, with a week to go until the end of the spooky marathon, trying some totally unknown writing avenues to me. Lord knows I have enough spooky media around that I can view, but instead? Here I am. Trying out musical analysis. I don't know much about music other than what I like, which is going to make all of this frightfully amateur in its deep diving. Thankfully, since I'm not really a professional writer or anything, everything I do on here is frightfully amateur. That's enough bitching about it, so let's get into it. Kate Bush. By god, I love Kate Bush. She's in my top three of songstresses who have changed my life for the better with their music. Her songs can get weird, wild... and yes, spooky at times. I'm going to look at three Kate Bush songs with spooky undertones to them, and waffle about 'em a bit and do my usual thing. Or try to. Crank up those speakers and get ready for a big mood, 'cause it's time to listen to some Kate Bush, and we start with...

Tuesday, 24 October 2017

31 MORE Days, 31 MORE Screams: Day 24 (Live A Live: Science Fiction Chapter)

I can't let you do that, Nanmo.
Huh? What in the fuck is this? This is an odd pick at first glance, I know. What in the world does it have to do with the spooky season? We'll get to that, but I first need to explain what this even is. Live A Live is a Japan-only Squaresoft RPG for the Super Nintendo, a somewhat little obscure gem buried back there. Behind your Final Fantasies and Chrono Triggers are a whole bunch of weird and wild Squaresoft games, and this is one of them. Live A Live's unique conceit is that it's split into a bunch of smaller chapters that you choose from in any order, each with their own protagonist and genre setting. There's a prehistoric setting with cave people in the Stone Age, a Wild West setting with cowboys and bandits, a ninja setting with lots of stealthy options, and so forth. After you clear the initial seven, you unlock some extra ones and the true plot of the game is revealed. Without spoiling anything, it's full of a lot of shocking twists that really surprised me back when I played it. It's absolutely worth a look. As to our purposes? Well, a single chapter of this can be blown through in about an hour or two. I fired Live A Live back up and ran through the very first chapter I played back on that first playthrough; the Science Fiction Chapter. As a microcosm out of context, it has a lot of subtle terrors going for it. Let's do the time warp again and fling ourselves forward into the future.

Monday, 23 October 2017

31 MORE Days, 31 MORE Screams: Day 23 (10 Cloverfield Lane)

Say Roseanne one more time and I'll break your other arm.
I had no real plan to cover this... but then again, the diversion into found footage sort of happened. After Cloverfield, I remembered that this movie came out and I hadn't seen it. Curiousity led me to it, and all I knew was the premise. John Goodman locks Mary Elizabeth Winstead in his basement because he thinks there's monsters outside or something. This being a Cloverfield-adjacent film, I expected the reveal at the end to be monsters. Nevertheless, what I got was pretty good! It does have some spooks and a lot of ambiguity, which I like. We can do our thing again and dive on in to what it does well, what weird shit went down outside the movie, and anything else that may cross my mind for the next couple of hundred words. On we go to 10 Cloverfield Lane!

Sunday, 22 October 2017

31 MORE Days, 31 MORE Screams: Day 22 (Cloverfield)

ROAR-- wait are you filming me? Turn it off, turn
the goddamn camera off--
Here and now, 22 days into this big old extensive project, we're hitting a sort of strange intersection. By chance and happenstance we have gone from metafiction, to found footage, to found footage/monster movie. Where we are now is crossing over with where we were about two weeks prior. We were looking at the original Godzilla back then, and then Godzilla 1984. Both very good in their own rights and both big monster movies with a certain sort of ethos to them. Beyond the spectacle of a big lizard smashing buildings and making shit blow up, I mean. 2008's Cloverfield is a different sort of beast, in what feels like a strange mashup of something like The Blair Witch Project and something like Godzilla. It's also got the stamp of JJ Abrams on it, which would have me raise an eyebrow given how I feel about his involvement with Star Trek and Star Wars. He gets off the hook for now... mostly. What does a fusion of Godzilla and Blair Witch even look like? Let's find out, together.

Saturday, 21 October 2017

31 MORE Days, 31 MORE Screams: Day 21 (The Blair Witch Project)

Pictured: The terrified confessions of a
soon-to-be fictional girl.
Let's continue along that weird and wild path of "imaginary gossip about real people" with a real pioneer in that craft. Yes, it's The Blair Witch Project and it's the film that brought the found footage genre to prominence... but we're on the other side of history here in 2017. To really appreciate The Blair Witch Project, you have to cast your mind back to 1999. This may be difficult if you weren't alive back then, or were an infant, or whatever. I was alive back then. I was an ordinary teen, still taking his first baby steps in the world of horror. Out comes this weird movie, and we've never seen anything quite like it. It doesn't look like a movie at all. This looks like real life, a series of tapes made in 1994 by a bunch of dead college kids of their last moments. Oh my god. Is this real? Is this a real bunch of footage of real college kids who died, crying and screaming, in the woods? The marketing and proto-viral nature of this one only helped blur the line between fantasy and reality, and basically launched found footage as its own genre. That's the 1999 side of history, but what of the 2017 side? Let's do our usual surface dive and head into the woods to find out.

Friday, 20 October 2017

31 MORE Days, 31 MORE Screams: Day 20 (Wes Craven's New Nightmare)

What if we had ideas that could think for themselves?
What if, one day, our dreams no longer needed us?
Wow. Holy fuck. I almost regret not doing this one last year. I guess I didn't want to load up on Nightmare on Elm Street movies. Still, we did get our Wes Craven on pretty good with two of his films. Nightmare On Elm Street was a real cool and heady slasher film with lots of thoughts on the nature of dreams and reality and all of that. Scream was this weirdly meta thing that brought slashers back into the mainstream, creating utterly reprehensible and petty villains in its own right. In between we have this movie, Wes Craven's grand return to his original creation. I've skipped over 5 whole other films to get right here, but I didn't when I first marathoned all of these in college. At the time I remember it being a totally jarring shock. The first few films were scary in their own right, but they veered more and more into camp with Freddy giving one-liners and ironic dream kills and all of that. Then Wes Craven hops right back in and makes it scary again and it's like a bucket of cold water. There's a lot more to this one than just moving the tone back to straight horror rather than horror-comedy, and it sets it apart from plenty of other horror films. I really dig it, so let's examine that for a moment. This is Wes Craven's New Nightmare, and it's brilliant.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

31 MORE Days, 31 MORE Screams: Day 19 (Ecco The Dolphin)

I know this looks ludicrous. Really, I do. Those of you without any prior experience with Ecco The Dolphin might wonder what in the everloving fuck a 16-bit game about dolphins is doing in a Halloween marathon. Those of you with experience, on the other hand, are likely nodding your heads in agreement... if you've seen far enough into the game, that is. Let me assure you that, despite not being horrific in the traditional sense, Ecco The Dolphin absolutely belongs on here. There are at least two reasons for this, one a little more valid than the other, and both will be explored in due time while we're here tonight. Dive right on down into the depths of terror, even further than the surface waters terrorized by a shark. This shit will make one shark look tame. You'll see. Oh god, how you'll see.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

31 MORE Days, 31 MORE Screams: Day 18 (Jaws)

What? Do I have something on my face?
Look, if I can put spooky comedies on here, I can put semi-spooky shark movies on here. I doubt anyone would contest putting Jaws onto a spooky marathon, though. Even before I'd seen Jaws, I knew things about it. My family was lucky enough to see it in a local theater at the time of its release, and occasionally shared stories about seeing it and being spooked by the guy's head in the boat. Then on the way home, in the dark, being spooked by the family dog. I think I would have caught this on TV sometime, but I couldn't pin down an exact year for you. It's a good one! We're going to do another surface-level dive into why. Pun unintended, but we'll roll with it. I live on an island myself, albeit one much larger than Amity Island. Still, the seaside is a constant companion and I do have a fondness for the ocean and its vistas. Sailing upon a coastal ferry in good weather is its own form of paradise. In that regard, a movie about the secret terror under the sea is especially affecting. Here, then, is Jaws.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

31 MORE Days, 31 MORE Screams: Day 17 (Young Frankenstein)

Let me tell you, I wasn't quite looking forward to writing about this. Don't misunderstand; it's a good film with lots of good moments and I'll no doubt talk more about that. My issue is specifically with writing about it. This is an all-out comedy, and I find I have a particularly hard time writing about the merits of such a thing. With horror you can waffle on about atmosphere and slashing beasts and all that, but comedy? There really are only so many ways you can say "the jokes were funny". Still, I can roll up my sleeves and give it a try. I've been waffling my words for almost 20 years, I think I can manage a couple hundred or so on a comedy classic. So, here we go. Mel Brooks, a director I was introduced to by happening to catch Spaceballs on TV once and absolutely loving every moment of it. That still remains my favorite by the nostalgia alone, but I wouldn't fault anyone for whom Young Frankenstein is their favorite Mel Brooks movie. Let us dive in. I feel confident. This whole writing about Young Frankenstein thing? IT! COULD! WORK!

Couldn't resist the quotable nature of this one, I fear. Whoops. What's striking immediately is that oh-so-familiar atmosphere, made all the better by the decision to make this a black and white movie. Really, a spoof sequel to Frankenstein had to be in black and white, didn't it? It just feels right for this sort of movie, even if many things happening in it are quite silly. Hell, you can look at the other horror spoof Mel Brooks did 20 years later for evidence here; Dracula Dead And Loving It is mighty fine and funny, but is somewhat lacking compared to this. Of course, that's more of a take on the Coppola Dracula film from the 90's but that's besides the point. Young Frankenstein has a great mood set up right away thanks to its black and white nature and all its thunder and lightning and whatnot, but what really sells it is the cast. Comedy is all about good delivery and timing, and everyone here has it. Of course there's the late great Gene Wilder in this one, and he's an absolute standout as the lead. His mad science is manic and over the top, without being too hammy. Some of my favorite moments with him are the quiet calm ones before his storms of rage; stuff like the "Quiet dignity and grace" or his "Abby Normal" bits. I love Marty Feldman as Igor, mostly because that man's weird bulgy eyes make him stand out but he does get some good lines in. Inspector Kemp isn't in the film too much but every time he shows up it's an absolute farce with his artificial arm and silly voice. Those are the standouts, but everyone manages to get a good one in.

Before we get to the good funny moments (because I sort of have to), I love that original props and stuff from the 1930's Frankenstein film were obtained and used for Young Frankenstein. It really makes this movie feel like a continuation of that canon with Dr. Frankenstein's grandson in the role. I don't want to explain too many jokes because just talking about comedy is nowhere near as funny as actually seeing this stuff. So... go see this movie. I'm nowhere near doing it justice and it's pretty good. I think my favorite gag I forgot about is Frankenstein throwing his darts through the window, and then the reveal later that they stuck in a policeman's hat and the tire of his car. That shit wrecked me because I didn't see it coming. You have Gene Wilder's aforementioned performance, but I love his very small voice while smooshed by the bookcase. Every bit of Frankenstein and the Creature's duet is utterly absurd and I adore it. There are just so many more little moments and gags that elicit good chuckles out of me and tickle me in just the right ways, but just listing them all would cheapen things. This is the thing about writing up comedy; it's a real tough thing for me to do! I think I made enough of a good try at it, though; I just about filled up the screen on my writing program without making it scroll, and these aren't meant to be long and detailed screeds. A simple little writeup about a good horror-themed comedy that is good and should be seen by you all. That's the short version, but you understand why I had to fill it out a bit more. Anyway, that's that! Actually, I could give you the short short version and sign off for the evening, so here goes.


Monday, 16 October 2017

31 MORE Days, 31 MORE Screams: Day 16 (Doctor Who: The Brain Of Morbius)

Surprise! I'm going back to my old haunts! Yes, it's time once again to look at a spooky classic Doctor Who story from the very spooky Phillip Hinchcliffe era of the show. The last time we were here, we looked at Hinchcliffe's first real sort of influence on Doctor Who with The Ark In Space. I could have gone to lots of places for another Hinchcliffe Horror outing, but I made this choice because it's another quite good story! Also because I have the DVD sitting here and it's quite convenient for me to slap it in and flip on the TV and lay down. So, this is The Brain Of Morbius and it's really just a great little adventure with Tom Baker and Lis Sladen in it. You can't ask for much else, but what you can ask for in a Halloween marathon is a little bit of horror. Your wish is granted. Here, then, is The Brain Of Morbius.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

31 MORE Days, 31 MORE Screams: Day 15 (Spooky Star Trek TNG Episodes)

Captain's blog, Stardate 72832.4. After first watching it roughly one year ago, and viewing it on and off with lots of breaks between seasons, we have finally made it to me writing about Star Trek: The Next Generation. I'm shuffling my hats about here, but the role remains much the same. Instead of waffling about Doctor Who like a third-rate Phil Sandifer, now I'm waffling about Star Trek like a third-rate Josh Marsfelder. Which is weird 'cause he's here right now. Ooh, breakin' the fourth wall. That's spooky. So is the assortment of television I've selected here! Even though there's so much I could say about how this show has positively changed me, I'm on a bit of a time limit here. So, I have to fire this off quick. I wanted to pick a handful of episodes that have more spooky elements to them. I don't know what it is, but late-era TNG had a whole bunch of episodes with gothic or surreal dream-like elements to them. Really, I'm almost spoiled for choice and wouldn't even need to stick to good episodes to do it! (Though, given what Fandom thinks, arguably my last choice didn't...). So, here are some words on some spooky-ish Star Trek episodes, and we begin with...

Saturday, 14 October 2017

31 MORE Days, 31 MORE Screams: Day 14 (Angry Video Game Nerd Halloween Episodes)

Yes, I think this will be a fun and interesting little treat! It wasn't even planned for right now. I was supposed to be talking about 2000's Scary Movie, a big old spoof movie about horror tropes and turn of the century pop culture that I was going to re-evaluate. In 12 minutes we had transphobic gags, date rape gags, and some homophobia so... actually, fuck that! I shut off the film at that point, wondered what the hell I was on at 15 to enjoy this shit, and thought of what to do instead. We arrived back at low-brow humor, it turns out, with the Angry Video Game Nerd. Now, I've said things about this particular pool before. One big screed. ...or two. Or three. The ad hominem naysayers of the Internet would, if they gave two shits about me anymore, like to claim that I have a cross to bear against James Rolfe and his work. Incorrect! I have been a fan of this big dumb web series with the shouty fuck man for over a decade. I'll prove it by writing positive about some of his Halloween specials now. Rolfe is a horror nut, having not only reviewed about a billion spooky movies in his own horror marathon but also actually making a shitload of his own little low-budget horror films. This is a tradition that continued on throughout his AVGN work, and today I'm poking at his encounters with three of the deadliest slasher villains and their associated computer game tie-ins. Being that the 13th is just behind us, it only seems fitting to begin with...

Friday, 13 October 2017

31 MORE Days, 31 MORE Screams: Day 13 (Jason X)

Look, it's a Friday the 13th in October. I had to come back to this well. Of course, I was spoiled for choice on how to make a grand return... or so it would seem. I gave the original Friday the 13th a bit of a shakedown for being evil last year, and in many ways that reading stands. What we have in the subsequent sequels is an entirely new beast. Jason Voorhees, The Man Behind The Mask, starting a killing rampage that would last for ages. Where to drop in on one of horror cinema's most iconic Slasher Beasts, though? The beginning? His revival. Oh no. No no no. Let's go balls out with what is, if not the worst film in the franchise, the one with the most desperate grab for reinvention. Jason X. Friday The 13th Part X: JASON IN MOTHERFUCKING SPACE. The very end, so to speak, of Jason Voorhees. Oh, he'll continue on through reboots or whatever... but in the Prime Timeline of the Friday the 13th Cinematic Universe which began in 1980, this is where Jason Voorhee's adventures end.

Thursday, 12 October 2017

31 MORE Days, 31 MORE Screams: Day 12 (Godzilla 1984)

Thirty years is a hell of a long time. For me, it's literally a lifetime. For the Godzilla series, as it turns out, it was a long period with all sorts of films followed by a decade-long rest. It was a time of Ghidoras and Mechagodzillas and Jet Jaguars and whatnot, a drift away from the unholy nuclear metaphor he was to something more base; a big monster which beat the shit out of other monsters. There's nothing wrong with that, not really! It can be quite satisfying to view... but there's something to the subtle horror that Godzilla once was. The folks at Toho seemed to think so, as well. Here we are then, in 1984. Thirty years on, and the beast has once again risen from the depths. Not to fight a space dragon, not to goof around with its child... but to destroy and terrorize the horrified populace of Japan, like the stomping allegory it once was. Here, then, is Godzilla 1984.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

31 MORE Days, 31 MORE Screams: Day 11 (Godzilla)

[roaring intensifies]
Well, that turned out to have some interesting thematic resonance. Yes, we're looking at the granddad of daikaiju today, the original, the king of the monsters. It's Godzilla. Or Gojira, I suppose, in its creators' native tongue. There are like... I dunno, 40 of these movies? It's a pop culture phenomenon and you just get this vision in your head right away when you hear the name. A really big lizard stomping around Tokyo and fucking everything up, sometimes with other giant monsters and robots around also fucking shit up or fighting each other. Yeah, that's the shit! It sounds awesome! Well, that's not how it started. Nightmare On Elm Street began not with a one-liner jokester killing people with ironic themed murders, but a serious-minded menace transcending the boundary of dream and reality and just straight up killing. Friday the 13th began not with a hockey mask zombie stabbing and slicing as some immovable force, but a desperate woman stabbing and slicing to avenge her son and get back at those goddamn fucking teenagers. In this vein, Godzilla began not with a glorious spectacle of smashing buildings and fighting space dragons, but with a film that intertwined one giant monster's random attacks with a very human cost and a very human drama. This, then, is the true beginning of Godzilla.

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

31 MORE Days, 31 MORE Screams: Day 10 (When They Cry Eps. 1-4)

Every so often you get a work of fiction that just sticks with you. In our little marathon's case, that's usually due to it scaring the almighty piss out of you and leaving a mark on your psyche that lingers. Today's work didn't quite do that to me, but what it ended up being was unsettling as all fuck. We're looking at a small part of a larger whole here this time around. When They Cry, or Higurashi When They Cry, or Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni, or... look, let's just call it When They Cry for simplicity, okay? Anyways, When They Cry started life as a visual novel series by one Ryukishi07. It ballooned out into an anime (which is what we're doing today, specifically) and a bunch of other bullshit. There's a really neat conceit to When They Cry and the way it tells its story, but we're going to ignore most of that and save it for offhand waffling at the end. As far as I was concerned for this, When They Cry is a four-episode serial not unlike classic Doctor Who. I'm doing it this way for two reasons. The first is that I don't have the time to do a deep dive into two 26-episode series of anime to do a great big waffle about the series as a whole. The second is more personal; this is how I originally experienced When They Cry, in August 2006. I did a marathon watch of the first four episodes which make up the first "arc" of the show, so to speak. Eleven years later and having not seen certain parts of it since that summer night, it's remarkable how much of it stayed with me. Marks on the psyche that linger, scratched by the fingernails of looming dread and terror. Delve deep with me.

Monday, 9 October 2017

31 MORE Days, 31 MORE Screams: Day 9 (Little Shop Of Horrors)

Me hungry.
Oh, I've been looking forward to doing this one for a while. Last year, pretty early on, I did The Rocky Horror Picture Show. It was quite a good and interesting little horror-themed musical which paid tribute to the golden oldies of the genre. Little Shop Of Horrors has that same sort of idyllic setting (a decade not too far from our own) but beyond that it doesn't really play too much with that. It's still interesting that a lot of big musicals of that time were looking back to the 50's and whatnot; Grease, Rocky Horror, and even Little Shop Of Horrors here. I don't know if I like it as much as Rocky Horror, but Little Shop does its job well. The songs are mostly really good, which is a step in the right direction for a musical. All in all, the sound of this one is very soulful which I like. It's upbeat and peppy and I found myself moving along to the tunes a little as I lay back to watch the film. So, a success there. Let's do our thing again. Get in, talk bits, get out there. Here we go with the rad and fun Little Shop Of Horrors.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

31 MORE Days, 31 MORE Screams: Day 8 (The Tommyknockers)

This is one hella eerie cover.
So we're back on that Stephen King train again. This will be a fun one. I knew, last year, that I had to cover It given my own personal experience with that work. I also knew that I'd have to cover something else by the man this time around. He's written an absolute shitload of things so I'm spoiled for choice... but there are big beloved ones. I could have gone with The Shining, or The Stand, or The Dark Tower, or anything else Big And Important. I could have gone with a second-tier classic like Firestarter or The Dead Zone. No. No, I think on some level, it could only be The Tommyknockers. Which is at once a somewhat-maligned entry of his (even by the man himself) and a compelling personal favorite. King may have executed things a bit long-winded and heavy-handed, but what he's executed here is some sort of compelling social commentary... albeit dressed up in a story about alien ghosts. It's no secret that Stephen King fired off a massive streak of hit novels in the 70's and 80's. It's also no secret that Stephen King had substance abuse problems. The two are intertwined in a deadly dance. The latter fueled the white-hot writing streak which led to the former. He's confessed to literally not being able to remember writing Cujo due to all the booze and drugs and other crap he was putting into his body. By the late 80's there was intervention from his family, and he finally did become clean. The Tommyknockers, written between 1982 and 1987, is in many respects a book about this... but dressed up in spooky metaphor.

Saturday, 7 October 2017

31 MORE Days, 31 MORE Screams: Day 7 (Demon's Crest)

I picked a screenshot this time to show how
danged pretty this game is. 
It is time once again, as so often happens this month, to dive headlong into the world of the monstrous. The Demon Realm, even. Those who know me and know of my weird gonzo hard game prowess know that I eventually took some sort of liking to the Ghosts n Goblins series. So much so that the original game was an immediate pick for last year's marathon, and was written about here. Logically, I could have jumped to one of the other core entries for this year... but there isn't much more meat on that bone. Oh, they added in lots of new mechanics and whatnot as the games progressed. New armors, weapons, magic spells, a double jump, all that good shit. The core of its chaotic quarter-munching nature never really left it, and that whole "beat the game twice" bullshit actually stayed around. Hell, the only game to really evolve that chestnut is the Wonderswan one which added in a singular branching path to make you take a different stage 3 on your second loop. Funny how that works, huh? No, I've spilled enough complaining about the random chaos and the horseshit ending requirements for these games... for now, anyway. Let's take a different approach. Let's talk about Ghosts n Goblins games for normal people.

Friday, 6 October 2017

31 MORE Days, 31 MORE Screams: Day 6 (Castlevania II: Simon's Quest)

Now this is more my speed. No utter confusion like I had in trying to write about Species. I know this game well. Very well, as it turns out! Actually, now that I think on it, I'm pretty sure our story begins in 1995! On that same family trip where older people watched Species and I watched Free Willy 2! Sometime during it, we went to a flea market and I got three NES games. Gremlins 2, The Adventures Of Bayou Billy... and Castlevania II: Simon's Quest. That's right, my Castlevania experience begins here. Even that's inaccurate to say, though. Me and my sister never called it "Castlevania II". We called it Simon's Quest. Now, this game's much maligned (and we'll get to that haunt in a moment) but there are two reasons why it stuck out in my mind as a gem and classic in my very small NES collection. One, I had no idea of the broader Castlevania series of action platformers and thus had no preconceptions of what Castlevania was "supposed" to be. Two, my sister bought me a Nintendo hint book which had a chapter on Castlevania II. I never beat it because it didn't detail the whole game (notably, the infamous tornado puzzle isn't mention), and yet it's stayed with me all these years later. Let us paint some broad strokes and look at Castlevania II... oh hell, let's just go all the way back to 1995 and call it Simon's Quest, huh?

Thursday, 5 October 2017

31 MORE Days, 31 MORE Screams: Day 5 (Species)

Whaddya at, humanity?
Every so often I come across a thing that I intend to write about, and its impressions on me are only "what in the fuck am I going to say about THAT?". Species, from 1995, is one of those. I guess there are some angles I can poke at. I don't need to be here for a 5000 word screed, after all. I'll just get in, get out, and see what I can make of whatever the hell I experienced. I suppose beginning at the beginning works well enough. Any doubts I had about slotting Species right here faded once I saw the credit "Sil Created By H.R. Giger" at the opening. So, somebody clearly had Alien on mind. Species is a very different take, though. We have horror in sexuality, but... well, our slasher from beyond the stars is a lady this time. Part of what's kept Species in my mind for over 20 years has been that lady. Not so much in her performance as I hadn't seen the movie until now, but in her name. Natasha Hendstridge, making her film debut. A local girl from my island of Newfoundland! THE SEX ALIEN IS A NEWFIE GIRL, EVERYBODY RUN. Hell, she's not even in the opening. The alien/human hybrid Sil is a little girl at first, a little girl who escapes gassing and rushes to freedom. It's hard not to root for her, even as we learn what her objective is through the rest of the movie... but then the horror begins. Tentacles burst forth from this ordinary girl in a bad situation, and she cocoons. Bursting forth some time later, naked and covered in space ichor, is Natasha Hendstridge. Hell, the first we see of her are her boobs. Get used to that. She's topless quite a bit. Something awakens within her once she reaches Los Angeles and gets nice clothes and adapts. Sil needs a man, and she'll kill to get one.

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

31 MORE Days, 31 MORE Screams: Day 4 (Metroid II: Return Of Samus)

This is real tricky ground we're delving over now. Metroid II is pretty fresh in my mind. Y'know, thanks to that big remake that came out a while ago. Which I wrote about here, in case you missed it. That was a GameFAQs review so it's more formal and... game journalist-y? I hesitate to call myself a game journalist, mostly because what I like to do here is the shit I am about to do right now. That being esoteric waffling bullshit with a hint of mysticism. The intent here is to do that, but everything gets tricky. I might want to write lots about Metroid II in the future and I don't want to blow my entire wad. I'll try and show restraint. Let's talk about Metroid II, how it's spooky, and how it ties into all that Aliens stuff I was babbling about yesterday.

Metroid II, more than any other game in the series, is haunted. I speak not just of the stark black caverns of planet SR388, or the harsh screeching chiptunes that eventually devolve into droning noise and dread. I speak of the future. Not only is Metroid II's climax a key lynchpin in the plot of the Metroid series, but its legacy is haunted by the future in varying attempts to possess it, and take possession of it. The curtain between worlds is thin here, and things bleed in from other timelines and other worlds. We will focus on those esoteric haunts later, and try and get some semblance of coherence here. First, the game itself. Metroid II, the sequel to 1986's hit NES game Metroid. There are plenty of comparisons to make between Metroid/Metroid II and Alien/Aliens. Thematically it's not a complete 1 for 1 fit, but it works well enough. Metroid II, kind of like my perception of what Aliens was, is a "bug hunt" where our heroine's goal is to destroy every last specimen of a deadly alien species. She encounters and kills many of said alien species before having a big showdown with the alien's queen, retreating into the depths of space with her adopted child. That last part is admittedly one of the future ghosts haunting us, but we'll get to that. Metroid II is much lighter on plot than Aliens, and it doesn't have that whole healing from trauma reading attached to it. Samus Aran, Metroid's heroine, is a capable badass bounty hunter who singlehandedly saved the day in the first game. She was not the terrified last survivor of a lone Xenomorph as Ripley was in Alien's closing moments. No, they apply that trauma to her in the future... and totally botch it, I might add. Still, we're not letting that future in right now. It's a terrible spectre screaming about babies, and we are haunted by it, but clutch your holy symbol close to your chest as we delve deeper.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

31 MORE Days, 31 MORE Screams: Day 3 (Aliens)

I don't like it as much as Alien, but I'll be damned if my appreciation for it hasn't jumped up in places on this rewatch.

Pictured: Healing from trauma.
Oh yeah, we're free of the Ghost of September Past now. I'm writing this on the day of. Good lord almighty do I have egg on my face. I freely admit that. Last year I wrote about Alien, which is one of my favorite horror films. Here are those words and here is something I wrote near the end of that:

Aliens is a nice action movie, I guess, but Big Gun Fuck Man Vs. Scary Acid Blood Monster is slightly inferior to The Sexuality Slasher for me.

I mean, fuck me. I fucked it up. That is NOT what Aliens is at all. Oh, there are Big Gun Fuck Men (and Women) in it... but this is not a movie about them. It's partly about them and how they get totally fucked up by the aliens, but to me this movie is about Ripley, her trauma from the first movie, and her making attempts to heal that trauma and help someone else with their own trauma. It's all of this and far more shooty shooty gun gun than the original film had, but I nevertheless find myself with a new passion for Aliens. Let's delve into the Ripley stuff then, because it's what worked on me the most. Ripley wasn't quite the stereotypical Final Girl in Alien, but she ended up being the one who survived all that nasty shit on the Nostromo and even managed to blast a Xenomorph out of an airlock... albeit petrified the whole time and singing a song to herself to keep her nerves at bay. She lived, but nightmares are plaguing her. This shit fucked her up. Now, the Alien series is far from your typical slasher fare, but it's nonetheless a comparison I find myself coming back to. Final Girls have come back in horror movie sequels before. Off the top of my head there's Friday the 13th's Alice, who... died. Then there's Elm Street's Nancy, who... died. Halloween's Laurie Strode, who went through even more bullshit on the same goddamned night and (as of the upcoming film) will have dealt with this Myers shit for 40 fucking years. I haven't seen Halloween past #3 but Ripley's arc in Aliens feels different from those other girls'. Ripley survives her encounter in the first film, is traumatized... but gets to go back and confront her trauma. She wants to help the missing colonists of LV426, as well as destroy whatever xenomorph bullshit is down there. She wants in.

Monday, 2 October 2017

31 MORE Days, 31 MORE Screams: Day 2 (Stephen King Short Stories)

It's still the ghost of September past speaking to you from the evening of the 28th. I write in somewhat of a half-assed time limit fit of desperation, in which I have about 3 hours to get all of my affairs in order before hitting the sack and then hitting the road. It's a tricky bit of timing, and as I said in yesterday's post it leaves us with a bit of... limiting in what we can cover. I admit a certain level of procrastination due to not knowing if this trip was happening or not, but hell. If Douglas Adams can work under a deadline, me too. Here, of course, is the difference born out of desperation. The Enigma Of Amigara Fault was always planned. The following is a spur of the moment thing based on a friend mentioning one of the two things here to me today. So, here earlier than I intended is Stephen King. I gave IT a nice big bit of coverage last year, and now that has a new remake (which I've not seen and won't be talking about this year, sorry) so his meganovels are no stranger to these marathons. Sometimes overlooked, though, are his short stories. What does Stephen King under brevity look like, his horror contained within a smaller liminal space? Not unlike my own situation, actually. Well, I'm going to find out with two especially spooky and effective short stories from his 1985 short story collection, Skeleton Crew. Zooming out a bit, Skeleton Crew is one of the better collections he's done. The stories in it are mostly from the early 80's, a... contentious period for the man (though not for his work); it'll make sense later in the month. Pretty much all of the stories in this book are good ones, but I chose two in which the endings still stick in my mind. Let's get to the good stuff with the first one. Away we go...

Sunday, 1 October 2017

31 MORE Days, 31 MORE Screams: Day 1 (The Enigma Of Amigara Fault)

This post is haunted.

Haunted not by any malicious ghoul or ghost, but haunted by the necessity of me actually not being here at my computer on October the 1st. I'm writing this on September the 28th, the eve before I head out. I'm the ghost haunting this post, the ghost of September Past working on spooky words early. As such, we need to be quick about things. I've no time to watch a movie, no time for a lengthy reread of a book, no time to play through a big game. Luckily for us, brevity can be a powerful tool. Here, then, is a one-off short story in manga form which manages to be more terrifying than many feature films, a quick work that is not unlike an expert sword slash of horror. One swipe, one cut. That's all it takes to bring something utterly horrific to life. I give you... Junji Ito's The Enigma Of Amigara Fault. The link right there will take you to it and it will not take you long to read. Of course, maybe you're already familiar. Either way, now you know the terror. Now let's talk about that terror, shall we? As we are to do for the next 30 days, of course.