Las Plagas are headed to the Wii U eShop on Thursday as Resident Evil 4 resumes its secret mission of complete global saturation. There’s no way you haven’t played it by now, right? I’d be impressed if you haven’t, since this game has gradually found its way to just about every active gaming console on the planet since it released a decade ago.
What are you looking forward to in this unexpectedly awesome month for horror games?
We’ve teamed up with UK doom metal band Conan to bring you the US exclusive video premiere for song “Throne of Fire”, which comes from their latest album Revengeance.
The video is an animated spectacle of psychedelic horrors, vomiting forth a rainbow smorgasbord of phantasmagorical denizens, including robed magicians, giant insects, and a large, pissed off yeti/caveman. It’s kind of like a mix between Darkest Dungeon, Metalocalypse, and Heavy Metal, all overlain with the downtuned sludge that Conan is so well known for producing.
My recommendation? Don’t get high and watch this. I don’t think it’d end well.
Conan W/Serial Hawk:
3/3: Chicago, IL @ Beat Kitchen
3/4: Detroit, MI @ Berserker Fest
3/5: Toronto, ON @ Hard Luck
3/6: Cleveland, OH @ Now That’s Class
3/8: Brooklyn, NY @ Saint Vitus
3/9: Philadelphia, PA @ Kung Fu Necktie
3/10: Baltimore, MD @ Ottobar
3/11: Raleigh, NC @ King’s
3/12: Knoxville, TN @ Pilot Light
3/13: Atlanta, GA @ Drunken Unicorn
3/16: Austin, TX @ SXSW
3/18: Albuquerque, NM @ Sister Tavern (Free Show)
3/19: Phoenix, AZ @ Rebel Lounge
3/20: Glendale, CA @ Complex
3/21: Oakland, CA @ Metro
3/22: Sacramento, CA @ Press Club
3/24: Portland, OR @ Star Theater
3/25: Boise, ID @ Treefort Fest
3/26: Seattle, WA @ Highline w/ Bell Witch, Mitochondiran
[Interview] The Cast of ‘Pride and Prejudice and Zombies’ On Their Love Letter to Jane Austen, Razor Sharp Feminism and Matt Smith’s Muffins!
In 1813, renowned author Jane Austen published a book called Pride and Prejudice, which told the story of the Bennet girls; five daughters whose mother desperately tries to marry them off to wealthy suitors, so they are not left penniless when they grow older. The second daughter, Elizabeth Bennet, is much more opposed to giving herself away to a man in the name of financial security, much to her mother’s dismay. However, when a special gentleman named Mr. Darcy comes along, a spark catches flame between the two, igniting a reluctant romance, which starts with hatred, but bends and twists over time into true love. In 2009, novelist Seth Grahame-Smith wrote his own version of the beloved tale, titled Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which is pretty much exactly as it sounds — a comical take on the iconic account, which simply swaps out the Napoleonic Wars in place of a zombie apocalypse, and turns the Bennet daughters into trained fighters.
One of the most fascinating aspects about Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, the upcoming mashup of Jane Austen’s regency literature and the fantastical notion of the dead walking the earth, is the radical idea of making the women the weapon-wielding heroes, and the men the damsels in distress, as they stand by and wait patiently for one of these heroines to accept their marriage proposal.
“There’s just something about playing a strong, independent female character,” reflects star Bella Heathcote (Jane Bennet) excitedly with a smile on her face, “and also being physically strong and tough, and getting to rescue the boys, and not being the damsel for once that was just excellent”. Bestselling author of the 2009 novel, Seth Grahame-Smith, has received much praise for his bold depiction of the Bennet girls (in particular, Elizabeth Bennet), yet he remains humble about his interpretation of Austen’s work. Smith wants to make it clear that he is not the one due for praise for this feminist angle. “People try to say, ‘Oh, you wrote this great female heroine’ – no I didn’t. I just put a sword in her hand, and made her say all the same things”. Smith made a point to add on, “It wasn’t that I was trying to instill any feminism that wasn’t already in [Jane Austen’s] book. I mean, the book is probably the original feminist novel, isn’t it? Because Lizzie is unlike any of her contemporaries”.
Little did Smith realize how inspirational assigning a blade and sheath to Elizabeth Bennet’s side would become for women (and men) across the globe, or how it would make Austen’s 1813 classic feel extremely relevant in modern times again. Without the crucial addition of lethal weapons — and course, zombies — it’s hard to say if this 2016 adaptation of centuries old literature about the Bennet sisters being married off would have had as great of an impact on today’s audiences as it already has. The anticipation building around this film certainly wouldn’t be as intense without notable stars Lily James (Elizabeth Bennet) and Matt Smith (Mr. Collins), who grew intrigued about the project thanks to the quirky spin on the traditional novel.
“I think Liz Bennet is already just the coolest, most independent, wonderful character, and then give her a sword and she just gets even better” Lily James swoons. “Pride and Prejudice has been done and done so well, that it just felt fun to add zombies”.
Matt Smith, too, chimed in on his enjoyment of the new twist on the material: “I think that’s one of the virtues of the film, actually, that the girls are the kickass sexy heroines, you know? They did all the fighting and I think there’s something in that”.
Of course, gender swapping isn’t the only trait that lured Smith to the film. To the old Doctor, adding the undead to the mix was an insightful way to create an adaptation that hadn’t quite been done before. “It’s nice that there’s zombies in it, because it refreshes the periodness of the drama, and it allows the tone to be something else and something other, and I think subsequently, as an actor, it allows you to make bold choices, because, you know, when the Bennet sisters are talking about getting a husband, they’re not just talking about getting a husband as they would normally, they’re talking about getting a husband under the circumstance of a zombie apocalypse, which somehow makes talking about a husband more interesting”.
If by “bold choices”, Matt Smith meant stealing nearly every scene he’s in, then it truly is a blessing that he’s allowed a little more freedom through this unusual take on traditional Austen. His hilarious quips about his character Collins fancying a scone or a muffin, delivered with the enthusiasm of a small child, are often so entertaining that it’s difficult to notice anyone else in the room. “I went back to the book” Smith explains, “and when I read the original novel, I found out that he was really interested in eating, and muffins, and scones and things like that, and so I thought, maybe try and get some of that texture into the piece”.
Smith isn’t the only one who noticed the underlying chuckles in Austen’s original text. Bella Heathcote agrees that when reading between the lines of romance and drama, there’s laughter to be found. “The original novel, I find it to be quite funny” Heathcote points out. “I think the funny is in the absurdity of it, it’s not like, this is a funny performance I’m giving, and I think if you take it seriously, it’s easier to laugh at you”. Her co-star Lily James quickly added, “We’re not playing it for laughs, it’s not too campy, it’s about the humor coming out of the situations”. Even author Smith placed an emphasis on the comical aspect of the film, when he said pointedly, “Humor, to me, is the unifying principle”.
Although there was plenty of room for giggles and tongue-in-cheek jabs at some of the off the wall dialogue and dated setups (such as the idea that cousins are fit to marry one another and it’s deemed perfectly normal), everyone on board knew the score. “The big wink is there is no big wink” says writer/director Burr Steers matter-of-factly, “So you have to be able to do it seriously”. This method of execution was of particular importance to PPZ novelist Seth Grahame-Smith. “The thing that I’m most thrilled about is just the tone” Grahame-Smith reports energetically. “It’s not just about the lines of dialogue, and everything, but the fact that they approached it with this unflinching seriousness, like the fact that they never really wink, that people are speaking correctly, that they are acting properly, that this isn’t like a, you know, spoof movie. We’re not doing like The Starving Games or Scary Movie. I mean, those movies, they’re sketches, they have to wear their humor on their sleeve. Whereas, this one, it’s Pride and Prejudice….that just happens to have zombies in it”.
Grahame-Smith might have been such a big admirer of Austen’s work that he set about writing a parody novel that evolved into this gigantic onscreen phenomenon, but he’s not the only member of the cast who carries an affection for the romantically-driven writer. Star Douglas Booth, who plays Mr. Bingley, had this to say about the original spark he felt for Jane’s work: “You know, you always say, ‘Oh, I’d love to time travel’, but I think you can. Do you know what I mean? The books are there, you can go straight into someone’s mind who was existing then, and just exist in their problems. I mean, she was writing about the problems she faced in the society around her, and to me, it’s like going back in time, it’s like time travel. That’s why I personally love reading those kind of classics”.
Mr. Booth is such a fan of the classics, in fact, that he has agreed to sign on to a sort of upcoming adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. However, instead of focusing on the fiction, this story will be told via the writers’ room, from the writers themselves. “I’m playing Percy Shelley” Booth says with a grin, “In a movie about the love affair between Shelley and Mary Shelley that results in the writing of Frankenstein. So, Elle Fanning is playing Mary Shelley”. What an innovative idea, especially after so many attempts to delve into the actual text! It will be thrilling to see how this interpretation of history itself plays out. Until then, this reporter will be glad to sit back and enjoy the laughs, the tears, and the unrequited romance blossoming between the stubborn Mr. Darcy, and the unattainable Elizabeth Bennet, which is sure to be made all the more amusing by the hordes of zombies the two must fight off before they can even consider joining hands in holy matrimony.
As for the possibility of a sequel to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, no official plans have been made as of yet, but it seems as though pretty much everyone (at least, everyone who survives past the first film) is on board, if it were to happen. “I would definitely have a cameo if it launched a franchise” declares author Seth Grahame-Smith with glee. “In the very least, I’d like to be a part of coming up with what happens next, and I don’t know if that would mean writing another book”. Lily James agrees that she, too, would like to join in on a second production: “There isn’t any signed-on about it, there’s no contract, we didn’t sign up to more, but I think there’s always been an open discussion about it, and I think we genuinely all would love to do another one”.
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies hits theaters everywhere on February 5th, 2016.
A&E shared this new trailer for their upcoming supernatural drama/thriller “Damien,” which reflects back to the series’ direct tie-in to The Omen.
“Bates Motel” returns March 7 at 9 p.m. ET, followed by the debut of “Damien” at 10 p.m. ET.
The teasers have all hearkened back to an iconic line from the 1976 original, which stated, “Damien… It’s all for you.”
“The ten-episode “Damien” follows the adult life of Damien Thorn (James), the mysterious child from the 1976 film who has grown up, seemingly unaware of the satanic forces around him. Haunted by his past, Damien must now come to terms with his true destiny — that he is the Antichrist, the most feared man throughout the ages.”
Bradley James plays the titular character and Glen Mazzara (“The Walking Dead”) acts as showrunner.
Set in 1880, “Transylvania” hails from “Fringe” alums and CBS’ “Zoo” team of Jeff Pinkner, Josh Appelbaum, Andre Nemec and Scott Rosenberg.
Written and exec produced by Hugh Sterbakov (Hell and Back), “ ‘Transylvania’ centers on a headstrong young woman searching for her missing father who ventures from Transylvania to New York, where she teams with a wrongfully disgraced Scotland Yard detective. Together, they witness the births of the most famous monsters and villains in history.”
The pilot, picked up to series by CW, is produced by Pinkner, Appelbaum, Nemec and Rosenberg’s CBS Television Studios-based Midnight Radio. The company also recently scored a series order at History for Jeremy Renner-produced period drama Knightfall. THR reports.
Annaleigh Ashford, pictured below, is joining the cast of Fox’s TV remake of The Rocky Horror Picture Show which will bow in the fall, reports Deadline.
She’ll play Columbia, the castle’s feisty live-in groupie played by Nell Campbell in 20th Century Fox’s 1975 cult classic (above).
The Rocky Horror Picture Show follows sweethearts Janet Weiss (Victoria Justice) and Brad Majors (Ryan McCartan), who stumble upon the bizarre abode of Dr. Frank-N-Furter (Laverne Cox), a sexually ambiguous, flirtatious alien mad scientist. He is holding an annual Transylvanian science convention to showcase the birth of “Rocky Horror” – a fit, attractive man (Staz Nair) created solely to fulfill Frank’s desires.
Other previously announced cast include Adam Lambert (Eddie); Reeve Carney (Riff Raff); and Tim Curry, the original Frank-N-Furter, who returns as the show’s Criminologist Narrator.
Production on the two-hour event special begins next month.
Netflix Instant just blew my mind by adding Brian De Palma’s 1978 The Fury, pictured above, to their streaming service.
Starring Kirk Douglas, John Cassavetes, Carrie Snodgress, and Charles Durning, “When two telekinetic teenagers become the target of an exploitative government baddie, one’s father becomes determined to stop him.”
Whether you’re a fan of Carrie, Sisters, Dressed to Kill or even Phantom of the Paradise, you have got to see The Fury, which is easily one of the best horror films ever made. If you’re a fan, put Joe Begos’ festival hit The Mind’s Eye on your radar immediately.
Also now streaming on Netflix is last year’s The Diabolical, which stars Final Destination and Resident EvilTerrorized by unexplained disturbances and horrific visions in her home, a young widowed mother turns to her scientist boyfriend for help.”
Lastly, you can now watch the 2004 CGI disaster Night Watch, which hailed from Russian filmmaker-turned mega producer Timur Bekmambetov. It’s the first in a two-part series (originally a planned trilogy), and plays on the tension between light and dark, pitting superhuman patrollers against shadowy forces of the night.
On April 12, 2016 Mondo Macabro will be releasing the Greek art-house horror film Medousa on DVD. Medousa was directed by George Lazopoulos and stars Eleni Filini, Thanos Amorginos and Vana Rambota.
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Greek horror film, so I’m definitely intrigued by this. Sounds like it uses Greek mythology in a fun way. Plus Mondo Macabro always releases incredibly obscure and interesting films, so this will likely be something to keep your eye on for sure.
In this surreal retelling of the ancient myth of the Medusa, bizarre, clothed statues of men are appearing all over Greece. Only Perseus, the leader of a gang of modern Athenian thieves, holds the answer to the mystery. It has something to do with a beautiful, long-haired woman in black who is connected with his troubled childhood. One night his gang breaks into a deserted house in the countryside looking for goods to steal. What they find is entirely unexpected and leads Perseus on a dangerous journey into his past.
Medousa is one of the very few attempts to make a modern Greek horror film. Its intriguing plot unfolds in a surprising and yet entirely logical way, creating a memorably atmospheric thriller that reworks familiar myths into an original and highly personal narrative. Mondo Macabro is very proud to be presenting for the first time on US video this overlooked gem of genre cinema. The film was screened at a number of international festivals and won a prize at World-Fest Houston in 1998. It’s a film ripe for rediscovery and this long overdue release announces the re-emergence of a unique film making talent.
• Interview with writer/director George Lazopoulos
• Interview with lead actor Thanos Amorginos
• Extensive background notes
• Newly created optional subtitles
• Mondo Macabro previews
Each week here at Bloody Disgusting we like to highlight some of the new Blu-ray releases hitting shelves across the world. Please note that this isn’t every release for the week, just a few of the ones that jumped out at us.
First week of February is kicking off strong with some quality releases across the board! I highly recommend Hellions from Scream Factory and Highway to Hell from Kino Lorber, both are awesome releases. What I’m really looking forward to is that German release of The Switchblade Sisters. The more Jack Hill on Blu-ray, the better!
Puppet Master 5 (Full Moon, Region A)
Toulon’s secret continues…The fifth exciting entry in the Puppet Master franchise. In the darkened Bodega Bay Inn, the greedy Dr Jennings has come to pilfer Blade, Six Shooter, Jester, Pin-Head, Torch, Tunneler, and Decapitron to discover the source of their animation. Hoping to get rich quick, he plans to sell their secrets as implements of war. Sutec, the dark pharaoh from another dimension, has sent his own puppet, Totem, to continue his quest to kill Puppet Master Rick and steal the magic which animates the puppets. Caught between the two foes, the half pint heroes must revive Decapitron and preserve the magic formula which gives them life with the life of the Puppet Master hanging on a string!
Batman: Bad Blood (Warner Bros, Region A)
Bruce Wayne is missing. Alfred covers for him while Nightwing and Robin patrol Gotham City in his stead. And a new player, Batwoman, investigates Batman’s disappearance.
The Last Witch Hunter (Linosgate, Region A)
The last remaining witch hunter battles against an uprising of witches in modern day New York.
Highway to Hell (Kino Lorber, Region A)
An eloping bride is taken into Hell, and her fiancée pursues.
The Giant Spider Invasion (VCI, Region Free)
A black hole hits North Wisconsin and opens a door to other dimensions. Giant 15 meter spiders emerge from it, who have an appetite for human flesh! Dr. Jenny Langer and Dr. Vance from the NASA try to save the world.
Martyrs (Starz/Anchor Bay, Region A)
In ‘Martyrs’ 10-year-old Lucie flees from the isolated warehouse where she has been held prisoner. Deeply traumatized, she is plagued by awful night terrors at the orphanage that takes her in. Her only comfort comes from Anna, a girl her own age. Nearly a decade later and still haunted by demons, Lucie finally tracks down the family that tortured her. As she and Anna move closer to the agonizing truth, they find themselves trapped in a nightmare – if they cannot escape, a martyr’s fate awaits them…
Extraordinary Tales (Cinedigm, Region A)
Five of Edgar Allan Poe’s best-known stories are brought to vivid life in this visually stunning, heart-pounding animated anthology featuring some of the most beloved figures in horror film history.
From Dusk Till Dawn: Season Two (Entertainment One, Region A)
A Texas Ranger is in hot pursuit of the infamous Gecko brothers.
Zombie Fight Club (Scream Factory, Region A)
It’s the end of the Century, at a corner of the city in a building riddled with crime …… Everyone in the building has turned into zombies. After Jenny’s boyfriend being killed in a zombie attack, she faces the challenge of surviving in the face of adversity. In order to stay alive she struggles with Andy to flee danger. The originally kind and warm hearted chemistry teacher, Wu Ming, who is now the zombie leader after the kayos broken out, has transformed into a cruel, vicious and selfish character. Violent activists match prisoners against zombies in a malicious killing game, the good side of humanity has seemingly all but vanished. Now that all order is lost, how will humans create a new century? A world of uncertainty awaits: The end? Hope? Or Death?
Hellions (Scream Factory, Region A)
A teenager must survive a Halloween night from Hell when malevolent trick-or-treaters come knocking at her door.
Five Dolls for an August Moon (Arrow, Region B)
Five Dolls for an August Moon is Mario Bava’s deliriously mad spin on an Agatha Christie-style whodunit. A space-age island retreat is visited by a group of friends and business associates—one of whom is a scientist who has invented a revolutionary chemical process. Soon the vacationers start dying, and the survivors begin to wonder who has the most to gain from these murders most foul.
Z Nation: Season 2 (Spirit Entertainment, Region B)
Three years after the zombie virus has gutted the country, a team of everyday heroes must transport the only known survivor of the plague from New York to California, where the last functioning viral lab waits for his blood.
The Green Inferno – Director’s Cut (Pinnacle Films, Region B)
A group of student activists travel from New York City to the Amazon to save a dying tribe but crash in the jungle and are taken hostage by the very natives they protected.
The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (Cinema Cult, Region B)
An extraordinary, fantasy filled masterpiece, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen highlights the amazing journeys of Baron Munchausen, who sets sail in a hot air balloon in search of his old comrades-at-arms. In his travels, the Baron journeys to the moon, visits Venus and Vulcan, and lands in the belly of a giant sea monster and that’s just the beginning!
Deathgasm (Tiberius Film, Region B)
Two teenagers who have started a heavy metal band unwittingly stumble upon an ancient text that contains a musical spell for summoning a powerful demon.
The Switchblade Sisters (Subkultur Entertainment, Region B)
Jack Hill’s Switchblade Sisters is the outlandish, action-packed story of a tough gang of teenage girls – the all-female Dagger Debs – who are looking for love and fighting for turf on the mean streets of the city! bad girls to the core, these impossibly outrageous high school hoodlums go where they want…and create mayhem wherever they go! A riotously entertaining mix of sex, jealousy and massive firepower that critics loved – don’t miss your chance to see one of the wildest films ever made!
No, the Case is Happily Resolved (Camera Obscura, Region B)
While fishing at a quiet lake, a blameless civil servant happens to witness a murder. Although he and the killer suddenly stand in front of each other, the witness (Signore Santamaria) manages to escape. At home, however, he decides not to call police, assuming that he won’t be bothered by the incident any further. The murderer, on the other hand, plays his only card: He goes to police, claiming that he is in fact the witness and that Santamaria is the killer.
After premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival, and playing Screamfest in Los Angeles, Vertical Entertainment announced an Apfril 1st VOD and limited theatrical release of Nick Simon’s The Girl In The Photographs, which pegs Wes Craven as an executive producer.
It’s a shame that this is one of Craven’s last films as it’s terrible. Not only is it hyper-misogynistic, but it looks awful, which is shocking as it was lensed by the veteran cinematographer Dean Cundey, who worked on the original Halloween films. Kalyn wrote a negative review out of the aforementioned Screamfest in which she states the film fails to flesh out its identity. I refuse to believe the film’s issues come from the screenplay, penned by Osgood Perkins, as his February was one of my favorite films of 2015. Whatever the case, don’t get your hopes up.
Kal Penn stars with Claudia Lee, Kenny Wormald, Toby Hemingway, Luke Baines, Miranda Rae Mayo, Katharine Isabelle, and Mitch Pileggi.
“Colleen’s life isn’t going anywhere. The small town natural beauty is bored with her dead end job at a grocery store and is ready to distance herself from her abusive boyfriend. In the midst of her turmoil, a pair of deranged serial killers begins leaving her photos of their mutilated victims. Her chance to escape comes in the form of Peter Hemmings (Penn), a hipster celebrity photographer who has traveled back to his hometown of Spearfish, South Dakota with a pack of models, intent on copying the killers’ intense and unapologetic artistry and use it for an important ad campaign. When he learns Colleen is their muse, Peter resolves to make her his own and use her as the centerpiece of a photo campaign in Los Angeles. But before Colleen can leave her old life behind, she must contend with the desires of her murderous stalkers who have chosen her last night in town to execute their most provocative work to date.”
Jeremy Saulnier’s uber-violent Green Room (read our review) is set for a New York and Los Angeles bow April 15th, with an expansion planned for April 22nd and Nationwide opening on April 29th, 2016.
Green Room is said to be a brilliantly crafted and wickedly fun horror-thriller starring Patrick Stewart as a diabolical club owner who squares off against an unsuspecting but resilient young punk band.
Anton Yelchin, Imogen Poots, Alia Shawkat, Joe Cole, Callum Turner, Mark Webber, Eric Edelstein, Macon Blair, and Kai Lennox also star.
The full trailer has been released and shows how tense this taut thriller is, while also delivering a few brutal punches. The indie genre film is supposed to be brutal – and the new one-sheet foreshadows this with a shot of someone hammering down a machete!
“Down on their luck punk rockers The Ain’t Rights are finishing up a long and unsuccessful tour, and are about to call it quits when they get an unexpected booking at an isolated, run-down club deep in the backwoods of Oregon. What seems merely to be a third-rate gig escalates into something much more sinister when they witness an act of violence backstage that they weren’t meant to see. Now trapped backstage, they must face off against the club’s depraved owner, Darcy Banker (Stewart), a man who will do anything to protect the secrets of his nefarious enterprise. But while Darcy and his henchmen think the band will be easy to get rid of, The Ain’t Rights prove themselves much more cunning and capable than anyone expected, turning the tables on their unsuspecting captors and setting the stage for the ultimate life-or-death showdown.
Intense, emotional, and ingeniously twisted, GREEN ROOM is genre filmmaking at its best and most original. Saulnier continues to build his reputation as one of the most exciting and distinctive directors working today, with a movie that’s completely different from his previous, highly acclaimed Blue Ruin, but which is just as risk-taking and even more full of twists. The entire cast deliver first-rate performances, but Patrick Stewart gives a transformative and brilliantly devious turn as Darcy—elegant yet lethal, droll yet terrifying, Stewart makes the film simply unforgettable.”
Visit the official website for more.
February will almost certainly improve on a mildly disappointing January that saw only two major releases and two failed crowdfunding attempts from the makers of Sylvio 2 and DARQ. There’s more promising games coming our way over the next few weeks, and they’re joined by the ongoing crowdfunding efforts for Ghost Theory and Visage.Calendula
Fans of psychological horror games will want to have a look at Calendula, if only to understand what it means when its developer says it “begins as a usual game… until it is not anymore.” With an “obscure” atmosphere and a meta-narrative set inside a “labyrinth of metaphors and abstractions,” Calendula toys with the fourth wall as often as it does conventional game design.
Or, at least I think that’s what I read on its Steam page.
Release Date: February 2 (PC)Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition
The best, or second best, Resident Evil is headed to the Wii U!
Release Date: February 4 (Wii U)Dying Light: The Following
Techland is going all out with Dying Light: The Following, which will be the largest expansion the game has seen since it released a little more than a year ago. The expansive map it brings will take advantage of the new dune buggies, and with a story campaign that involves a mysterious cult and potential cure for the plague that’s swept Harran, this DLC has the opportunity to improve on the base game’s disappointing narrative.
The Following is included in the game’s $30 season pass, or for $20 as an individual purchase.
Release Date: February 9 (PC, PS4, XBO)Dying Light Enhanced Edition
Dying Light will soon return with an Enhanced Edition that bundles all of the game’s DLC, including The Following, with a free “enhancement” update that’s mostly comprised of endgame content like bounties, meta-levels, and a Nightmare difficulty mode.
Release Date: February 9 (PC, PS4, XBO)Pesadelo – Regressão
Pesadelo is a frightening indie horror game that immediately fell off my radar after I spent some time with it a few years back. This made the news of a story-expanding sequel a welcome surprise, especially since I honestly think the first game had a story. Set in a monster-infested cemetery, a church bereft of salvation and “the school where everything began” Pesadelo – Regressão promises to deliver another frightening gaming experience when it hits Steam later this month.
Release Date: February 11 (PC)The Town of Light
The horrors that reside in The Town of Light aren’t comprised of serial killers, zombies, or monsters. Developer LKA is looking elsewhere for its emotionally devastating tale of Renée, a 16 year-old girl whose life is effectively stolen from her when she’s committed to an asylum.
The game is set in 1938 Italy, when a limited understanding of mental illnesses had much of the world employing decidedly medieval methods to cure them. If LKA can make something special out of such a promising concept, I’ll absolutely be grabbing this when it releases on Steam.
Release Date: February 26 (PC)Layers of Fear
Of the handful of unexpectedly brilliant horror games that managed to sneak up on me last year (Bulb Boy, Albino Lullaby), it was the surreal psychological horror game Layers of Fear that still lingers with me. The game’s been simmering on Steam Early Access and the Xbox One equivalent while Bloober Team slaps on another coat of polish. When they wrap that up, Layers of Fear will get a full release on Steam and consoles, with Aspyr Media handling the latter.
Release Date: February 16 (PC, PS4, XBO)The Walking Dead: Michonne
Telltale’s acclaimed episodic series is returning in a big way this year, starting with the three-part mini-series The Walking Dead: Michonne that’ll make sure we’re adequately prepared to reunite with Clem for a third helping of their emotionally draining episodic series.
Release Date: TBA February (PC, PS3, PS4, 360, XBO)Visage / Ghost Theory
Kickstarter is hosting two very promising supernatural horror games that are vying for your cash monies right now, so let’s start with the one that’s ending this month. In Ghost Theory, the paranormal activity you’ll investigate as a ghost hunter gifted with clairvoyant abilities and an arsenal of gadgets will be taken from real haunting grounds.
If that sounds like your sort of thing, its Kickstarter campaign will need your help if its going to have any hope of reaching its ambitious $141,439 funding goal.
The P.T.-inspired psychological horror game Visage also has a long way to go in its crowdfunding efforts, but with a considerably lower target of $24,550 and more than a month left to get there, I won’t start worrying about it for a few more weeks.
Capcom has always had a steep hill to climb when it comes to keeping Resident Evil relevant in a medium that’s become much more social than it was in 1996, when the series began. I’ve criticized their more spectacular fumbles with games like Resident Evil 6, but they really have done a better job than I suspect most would have in keeping this series synonymous with horror, even when it hasn’t been especially scary.
Their experiments with action horror, online multiplayer and co-op left us with a mixed bag of games that haven’t ever strayed far enough to no longer feel like an extension of the series. It’s fitting that Umbrella Corps would be the first spin-off to drop the series’ name, since it also feels the least like a Resident Evil game. I have no idea if it’ll be any good, but I’d be lying if I said it didn’t look like fun.
This video interview with producers Masachika Kawata and James Vance won’t sell you on the virtues of braining the living and undead alike with a specially modified brain pick, but it will explain how Umbrella Corps came to be.
Umbrella Corps is slated for a May release on PC and PS4.
Fan favorite writer, Darin Morgan, returns with a brilliant ‘X-Files’ story that’s the season’s best episode yet
“We’ve been given another case, it has a monster in it!”
It’s hard to believe that I was actually second guessing this X-Files revival a week ago after watching “My Struggle”, because after Wong’s “Founder’s Mutation” and this week’s exceptional episode, The X-Files revival is now batting 2/3, and it’s a very strong 2/3 at that. I daresay that this reflexive episode is right up there with “Jose Chung’s ‘From Outer Space’” and “Bad Blood” in terms of episodes on that end of the spectrum.
Darin Morgan has developed an interesting reputation through his work on The X-Files. The more reserved brother of fellow scribe and director, Glen Morgan, Darin would turn out some of the series’ most eccentric outings that weren’t under the name Vince Gilligan. Darin only penned four episodes during his three years on The X-Files (as well as writing what might be the two best—certainly the most interesting—Millennium episodes, “Jose Chung’s ‘Doomsday Device’” and “Somehow, Satan Got Behind Me”), but each episode took the still-growing show in new, bold directions helping establish what it was capable of. These aren’t just a few good episodes, but stunning scripts that truly made an impact on the show. Entries like, “Humbug”, “War of the Coprophages”, ““Jose Chung’s ‘From Outer Space’”, and series favorite, “Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose” (which also netted Peter Boyle an Emmy win, impressively) are standout entries that saw his voice greatly missed once he left the show early in its run.
It’s fascinating to hear Morgan open up on Kumail Nanjiani’s “The X-Files Files” podcast talking about his tenure on the show. Morgan talks about being a hypochondriac who was constantly worrying about deadlines, the demands of working on a television show, while talking about repeatedly going into Chris Carter’s office and trying to quit. His brother, Glen’s, presence on the series helped improve his stability and calm his nerves some, but judging by the lack of writing that Darin did post X-Files (as well as noting how many of those projects had some sort of connection to Glen, too), it seems to be an exercise that stresses him greatly, regardless of his obvious skill in the field. Morgan talks about dismissing now-classics like “Clyde Bruckman” as he was writing them, and witnessing how critical he is of his own work is also an enlightening realization.
There must have been a great deal of trepidation that Morgan felt before deciding to rejoin the series for this revival, and I’d say that we’re fairly lucky that he agreed to come back on at all. The fact that this return not only marks an incredibly sharp script that rivals his best work on the show, but that he was also director of the effort is a true feat. I’m not sure if this exercise led to Morgan’s revitalization or exhaustion, but I hope him getting his feet wet in these waters once more means that we’ll be seeing more scripts from him, somewhere, anytime soon.
Morgan’s episodes sometimes so often feel like a hodgepodge of elements (“Jose Chung’s ‘From Outer Space’” is certainly guilty of this), with this one being absolutely no different. Seeing pieces of his life and X-Files iconography weirdly fit into the installment (such as Kumail’s casting here) is part of the fun, and even though he’s been out of the game for a long time, “Mulder & Scully…” feels like a very comforting return to home for Morgan. If nothing else, this episode nicely subscribes to the “Darin Morgan Checklist” that so many of his episodes do. Some of these are really superb touches, like Tyler Labine(!!) and Nicole Parker returning as their stoner and friend characters from “War of the Coprophages” and “Quagmire” as a nice nod to the audience and a deep cut. Another Morgan trademark, Queequeg, Scully’s former dog, gets brought up (and Scully acquiring a new dog, no less—hopefully Queequeg II), too. Not only is this a lot of fun for the fans, but this feels like Morgan is also amusing himself rather deeply, and even if this episode turns out to be a huge failure, there’s no denying that his energy and enthusiasm for it is rampant throughout it all. Mulder and Scully’s excitement here is his excitement.
Part of the fun of this X-Files revival has been looking at how each of these original X-Files writers chooses to make use of the 13 years that have passed between the “series finale” and now. Darin Morgan explores the idea of Mulder being disillusioned over whether his life has been a waste or not. Sure, this isn’t the first time this has happened, but while Mulder and Scully were out of commission, a lot of cold case X-Files have turned out to just be pranks or publicity stunts. So when the current case of the week screams “Werewolf!” it doesn’t help his malaise very much. This is mostly channeled through the episode being a prime example of Mulder acting like the Scully here—which admittedly isn’t the first time this has been done, but there’s a fresh dynamic to it now as Mulder carries an air of “I’m getting too old for this x-shit.”
I couldn’t help but have a huge smile on my face as Mulder reduces these werewolf claims to mountain lions and grey wolves rather than think a creature is afoot. Even after knowing this beast has transformed he tries to simplify all of this to science. “Mulder, the Internet is not good for you,” Scully tells him in one scene, as he uses the web to become the ultra-Scully and deduce that this monster is some sort of horned lizard thanks to practical, scientific explanations. It’s pretty fantastic and probably the best Mulder and Scully scene to come along so far this season. This episode is all about flipping their dynamic, and the actors look to be having great fun with it all, too. Even when Duchovny is having to work through huge monologues (and speaking for both himself and Scully) and exposition. It’s really nice—as simple as it is—to see these two getting back in their groove here and excited to have a classic mystery on their hands. Both of them are having fun in their element and eager to see who is right in all of this.
Mulder’s theme of disillusionment is prevalent throughout the episode as a whole when it looks like nearly everyone is questioning their career and life decisions, listless in their own ways. It’s present in a smaller sense in Kumail’s animal control worker, Pasha, and then in the central case of the episode, Rhys Darby’s were-lizard creature.
That’s right, Rhys Darby of Flight of the Conchords fame, is revealed fairly early on to be the monster-of-the-week, this hideous were-lizard creature. The early reveal is always a good indication that who the threat is isn’t the priority of the episode, and sure enough, Morgan has packed a monster of a spin on this traditional premise. Darby is perfectly cast here as a fidgety, odd individual with transformation issues. In typical Darin Morgan fashion, the beautiful lore of the were-lizard is a hilarious subversion on established monster killing rules. The only way to kill a were-lizard, we learn, is by stabbing green glass into its appendix. It’s so silly, yet great mythology building that makes just as much sense as anything out of vampire of werewolf lore and the arbitrary ingredients involved with them.
This is already entertaining enough when the episode suddenly turns even crazier when we realize that Darby’s character is a lizard monster first who has now found himself plagued with turning into a human (after being bitten by one, of course). Not the other way around. It’s also retroactively a viable explanation for Darby’s off kilter behavior that’s so entertaining throughout. Furthermore, his jubilation when he’s no longer stuck as a human and turns back into a monster is perfect and an appreciated take on an overdone transformation trope. This is what he wants.
Let me just say, I cannot get enough of this plot. A monster who’s turns into a human, who then learns to realize regular, everyday, human problems are the worst and begins to go crazy, only to then become desperate to turn back into a monster again is so brilliant. The X-Files has played around with this monster-of-the-week perspective before in creative ways—like “Hungry”, for instance—but this is very, very different. There’s a stupefying majesty to watching Darby’s were-lizard in his newly found human form getting a dog to make his life happier, slowly acquiring more coping mechanisms before ultimately being reminded that life is shitty and hard. It’s all so simple, but it’s in that simplicity that all of this connects so well. This isn’t a man lamenting over the problems of turning into a werewolf. It’s a monster being like, “Shit, is my job going to give me enough money to pay my mortgage?” He has lines like, “Ever since I’ve become a human I can’t help but lie about my sex life” and other such great human observations that are all such tiny nuggets of humanity that we take for granted. Darby’s monster seeing these mundane things for the first time (before becoming disenchanted, like humans are so wont to do) is a wonderfully fresh angle on an X-Files monster. In fact, it poses the question of who really is the “monster” here, as Mulder tries to determine if Darby’s character is still to blame for these murders, perhaps slaying them in his confusion with the ways of being a human.
While some poignant topics are dug into, Morgan still isn’t past getting goofy when the time calls for it. There’s an extended sequence where Mulder is unable to work his camera phone and apps properly, still lost from the times. We also literally get a monster considering transgender surgery as an answer to their problems, and it’s safe to say that we’re officially in modern X-Files. There’s also a fairly gratuitous Scully wish fulfillment sequence that is pretty terrific and must have been sitting in a drawer of Morgan’s for 15 years waiting to get some use. The tone of the episode is already so ridiculous and broad that by the time that Mulder’s cell phone goes off and his ring tone is Mark Snow’s theme song to the series, you kind of just have to go with it. That’s how surreal things feel.
I understand that a lot of this review has touched upon Darin Morgan’s legacy within the series, and for any sort of revival of this magnitude I think the topic of the past is an important one to get into. While more than anything this return to The X-Files should be good, it should also honor and pay respect to the original seasons, too. While Morgan is all about paying respect to the past here, the most touching example must be during Mulder and Darby’s conversation in the cemetery about life. The two of them are standing against two prominent headstones, one for Kim Manners, and the other for Jack Hardy. Manners directed over 50 episodes of The X-Files and passed away in 2009, but Hardy is a lesser-known name, and only passing away less than a year ago. Hardy was close to the production team, acting as the first assistant director not only on Carter’s Millennium (which Morgan and Wong were also heavily involved in), but also Glen Morgan’s feature films, Willard, Black Christmas, and Final Destination 3. Clearly he’s particularly close with the Morgans, and seeing his tribute alongside Manners’ is really, really sweet.
All of this culminates in a rather contemplative episode that goes out on an unexpected twist that’s pretty in line with the rest of Morgan’s dynamic. There’s a great Scully in distress scene that’s subverted by her not needing anyone to save her in the end. She manages to be her own hero while simultaneously solving the whole case by herself, off camera, in mere minutes.
It’s not important though. None of this is. After all, it was probably just ice…
See you again in 10,000 years.
If you haven’t heard of the bullet ant, it’s an inch-long abomination with a particularly nasty bite that’s been compared to getting shot by a gun. In other words, it’s living proof that nature is actively plotting our downfall. And if that wasn’t sufficient enough proof of this, the bullet ant was blessed with another talent that’s clearly been designed by nature with sinister intent. It can scream.
I mention this because it’s the first thing that came to my mind when the makers of the zombie survival game H1Z1 took to Steam earlier today to announce a new type of zombie that will soon be making the post-apocalyptic wasteland a considerably scarier place to live. It’s my pleasure to introduce you to… the Screamer.
We’ve seen this guy before in Resident Evil 6, Killing Floor, State of Decay, and Dying Light, among others, and often with that same outfit. Killing Floor’s Siren wore one, and the Screamer would have too, had it not been cut from Left 4 Dead.
As much as I would’ve liked to see its creator, Cher — an intern at Daybreak Games, not the Cher — bring a new twist on the screaming zombie concept, it’d be hypocritical of me to criticize a design that’s alarmingly effective in instilling in me a primal fear that still resonates with my lizard brain.
No word on when it’ll come to H1Z1. I’ll let you know when that changes.
Showtime’s third season revival of “Twin Peaks” has netted Naomi Watts (Mulholland Drive) and Tom Sizemore (Natural Born Killers), according to Deadline. Not only have those two joined, but writer/director/co-creator David Lynch will apparently be reprising his role as FBI Regional Bureau Chief Gordon Cole!
The trio join confirmed actors Jennifer Jason Leigh, Laura Dern, Amanda Seyfried, Sherilyn Fenn, Kyle MacLachlan, and more.
The third season will be premiering on Showtime in 2017. It picks up over two decades after the events of the first two seasons, which aired in the early 90’s.
I gotta tell you all, with each additional casting announcement, I’m getting more and more psyched for the return of this show! I already loved the first two seasons but this is getting me so amped that I can barely take it!
A lot has changed since I last sat down with Matt Cohen’s supernatural horror game Paranormal nearly three years ago. It’s still the most faithful, albeit unofficial, game adaptation of the Paranormal Activity film franchise, thanks to procedurally generated supernatural happenings that get progressively worse as you delve deeper into the story.
Three years later and I still don’t know what I’m supposed to do. Such is the life of an artist.
Cohen and Co. have been rebuilding Paranormal in the Unreal engine while simultaneously expanding the scope of the nearly four year-old indie game beyond the walls of its haunted house setting. The latest build should arrive very soon, according to a post on the game’s Steam page.
I didn’t need a reason to fear my phone, I already get plenty anxious every time it makes a noise. When it rings, I cautiously pick it up like I’m in a horror movie and I’ve just found something curious on the floor of the serial killer’s cabin.
The augmented reality horror game Night Terrors aims to take that illogical fear to an entirely new level by turning our phones into fun little gateways to Hell. Open it and your home will be filled with a variety of demonic entities and horrific specters not meant to be seen by human eyes.
Night Terrors developer Novum Analytics raised $46,732 last summer via a flexible funding campaign on Indiegogo that didn’t reach its ultimate goal of $70,000. Novum wanted to give us the “scariest game ever made” so they came up with a system that “understands where you are in your environment” and uses that information against you in some truly frightening ways.
Novum recently started a second Indiegogo page so those who missed out on the first could get in on the action. Night Terrors arrives this Halloween on iOS and Android for $5.99.
Rise of the Tomb Raider is the newest entry in this more gritty, dark version of the 90s action/adventure series, starring the titular Tomb Raider, Lara Croft. It is a follow-up to the 2013 reboot, Tomb Raider, and the PC version is a port of the XBox One version, exclusive to that console through Christmas. This time around, Lara is on her own Last Crusade, searching out an artifact her father only dreamed of being able to find.
Though not a traditional horror game, Rise of the Tomb Raider plays, in many instances, like an uber-violent exploitation flick from the 70s. This Lara Croft is not simply a gun-wielding adventurer, intent on seeking out and unlocking the world’s secrets. No, she is also a grim survivalist, hell-bent on punishing those who ruined her life and sent her on this journey. The new hero of this franchise snatches dudes into watery depths and slices their throats, a la Jason Voorhees, or sneaks up behind them and executes them like James Earl Cash, from Manhunt.
This incarnation of Tomb Raider is very often compared to the wildly popular Uncharted series, but I’ve got a bold claim to make here: save for the writing, I think Rise of the Tomb Raider exceeds the heights of the Uncharted games.
The MacGuffin in this game is more or less the Matrix from the original Transformers animated movie, and it totally works as a means for drawing Lara into this adventure. There are eternal prophets, soulless soldiers, and secretive organizations involved, and that sort of plot is befitting of a Tomb Raider game.
As far as actual writing goes, however, it’s kind of flat. The villain, Konstantin, is barely visible throughout the game, which is both a benefit and a curse. Why would he spend all of his time trying to taunt Lara Croft like a Bond villain? On the other hand, his absence is certainly felt toward the end of the game, when we are supposed to care about this standoff between the adventurer and the secret society wackadoo?
It’s one of the few knocks I have against this game. The writing, the banter, the characters, they are all so grim and mordant. The game has no sense of self-deprecation or humor at all, and a story that is more or less the retelling of Last Crusade without Sean Connery in a brimmed hat is kind of lacking, to be honest.
The game’s real villain and real sidekick is the environment, and that’s where the tension excels. I’ve never been a huge fan of third person platforming in these games — Uncharted included — but the combination of the puzzles and the feel of the running and jumping in Rise make for some interesting mechanics. The game handles exceptionally well, to the extent that some non-scripted climbing sequences feel as though they are cut scenes designed for the player’s benefit help the cause.
To build on that idea, the visual language of Rise of the Tomb Raider is similarly wonderful. It is built in such a way that you don’t necessarily have to constantly click the right stick to reveal your waypoint. The game naturally guides you in the right direction.
For example, walls that can be scaled are marked with white blazes, and the climbable ice has a different color tint than its surroundings. If you still can’t find your way, the waypoint indicator also reveals points of interest in directing your journey.
Some might see this as hand-holding, but I prefer it to wandering around the landscape without an inkling for where to go. The way the environments are set-up and marked gives the player a rhythm for how to traverse the world, and it becomes less about the puzzle of “Where do I go?”
The different areas are distinct enough, even if they all feel somewhat like “exotic locale” to me. What separates Rise of the Tomb Raider from its contemporaries is that it is neither a linear experience, nor is it an open world game. Unlike Uncharted, each section of the game doesn’t get locked off once you complete the narrative for it.
At the campsites, you can fast travel back to any location and complete any number of quests, tombs, or collectible hunting. The map gives enough detail to drive players to seek out ancillary content without making it seem like it’s necessary. I tooled around with some of the side content, but I basically main-lined the story for the sake of the review, and I felt completely satisfied with both the amount of content and story within the core game, so people looking for plenty more to do can find whatever they want.
The game is also not so open that you feel entirely rudderless. Rather than give you quests within the world that spit you back out into an open world, you engage in sort of linear main quests that connect different sections of the game. They are crucial to building the world and the narrative for you, and they are very often a balance of spelunking / climbing and combat.
Until the end of the game — which I’ll get to in a few paragraphs — I never felt overwhelmed by the amount of combat in this game. The combat encounters always felt necessary, or at the very least, narratively acceptable, so I dug how they were spread out among the platforming elements.
One only need take a look at screenshots or trailers to notice just how amazing Rise looks. Very often, actual gameplay looks better than the cut scenes in most games I’ve played over the last few years. The art style is also a plus. The environments not only look great, they are well designed.
And speaking of things that are well-designed, the puzzles, while simple, are some of my favorites from a game of this type in a long while. There are a few that are quite difficult, but for the most part they are intuitive and easily discernible through a little bit of detection. I found myself kind of amazed at how some of them are constructed, not merely because they are good puzzles, but because they build on the skills of other puzzles. That is really something the designers deserve credit for that I’m sure will go unnoticed.
The crafting and upgrade system was reminiscent of The Last of Us for me, personally. Beyond guns, Lara can craft various explosives from found elements in the world. Trees can be stripped for arrows, and gears help to aid weapons upgrades. It’s a fairly in-depth system, but it never gets over its own head with sophistication. It was just the right amount of added complexity to make character progression feel natural.
In addition, the game’s side content builds on the crafting and upgrade system in such a way that might behoove players to branch out and complete more of it to get their character fully decked out in the three basic skill types: Brawler, Hunting, and Survival.
The story is one of the least interesting elements of the game, but it does a serviceable job of building the story of the 10th century prophet at the heart of the game. I never really cared about any of the characters, save Lara herself, though I did find her arc in Rise fairly compelling. Besides Jonah, her erstwhile companion, I didn’t find myself connected to any major story element.
Which brings me to the third act of the game. Once all hell breaks loose, it really breaks loose. Rise of the Tomb Raider was never that game to me. It was about retrained encounters that were absolutely necessary, and yet the end of the game seems to forget all about that.
The amount of combat in the lead-up to the resolution is ridiculous, and it goes to ridiculous ends. The game seems to bask in a sort of Roland Emmerich style destructothon, much to the game’s detriment. I’m over the overly-epic finale, and I kind of wish this game had sidestepped the worst offenders of the past. AAA games have an insecurity about endings, and it is played out in a big way here.
Rise of the Tomb Raider works best when it is about exploration, spiked with some combat. When it attempts to become a third-person shooter, it loses some of the magic that made the first three-quarters special.
This is probably the most blatantly unfortunate comparison to be made between Rise of the Tomb Raider and the Uncharted series. For me, the Nathan Drake games could never quite stick the landing. The first two acts were superlative, but the third act always got bogged down in the lore, in supernatural nonsense that felt as though it had to be there to make the story bigger than life, somehow.
Tomb Raider almost avoids that trap, but not quite. Still, it’s better than ninety percent of the games I played in 2015 — I still consider it a 2015 game, despite the 2016 PC release — and so I’ll take it over a milquetoast spy movie any day.The Final Word:
Rise of the Tomb Raider is one of the best action adventure games out there, and I’d go so far as to say it’s better than any Uncharted game I’ve played.
I will always and forever cherish fan communities for all that they have to offer. The reverence and care they have for a material is undeniable but their creativity in pushing properties into new mediums and angles is nothing short of admirable.
Today marks another amazing entry in fan-created content as writer/director James Campbell has released Ripper, a Batman fan film that pits the world’s greatest detective against none other than Jack the Ripper, the infamous serial killer who stalked the Whitechapel district of London in 1888, killing five prostitutes and mutilating their bodies in horrifying ways. The video’s story is loosely inspired by Batman: Gotham by Gaslight, a one-off DC comic written by Brian Augustyn that was released in 1989.
There are a lot of amazing things about this fan film, including the fantastic set design, the great wardrobe, and the overall giallo feel that makes delightful use of color. However, I feel like the soundtrack didn’t fit the film. There’s definitely a place for retrosynth soundtracks, a lá Goblin or John Carpenter, but it felt very mechanical and cold compared to the warmth and antiquated look of “London”.
Still, this is 100% worth your time and I highly recommend giving it a view when you get a chance!