On May 19th, the ever eccentric and wildly unpredictable rock band Faith No More will return with Sol Invictus, their first new studio album in 18 years. This announcement shocked and delighted the music community, surging a renewed interest in a band that once dominated headlines and commanded attention.
With this new album coming out, I wanted to look back at this band and recognize the important role they played for many listeners. This wasn’t just another band to enjoy for a while and then put to the side. No, Faith No More was something that always offered more and they should be recognized as such.
In order to demonstrate the importance of the band’s return with Sol Invictus, I’m going to focus specifically on their 1992 album Angel Dust. I’m doing this for a few reasons:
- It’s the first album where vocalist Mike Patton had a significant impact on the writing of the material. That’s why there’s a rather noticeable difference between the sound of The Real Thing and Angel Dust.
- It’s the last album that had guitarist Jim Martin, so there was still that sound that brought them acclaim and popularity.
- Because it’s a great fucking album.
Now, before I dive into the amazing qualities of Angel Dust, you’ve got to remember that The Real Thing was incredibly popular, reaching Platinum status in the US and selling over 4 million copies worldwide. This was the band that made a metal song wildly popular with “Epic” and they knew exactly what it took to make that kind of music, which they could’ve easily done again. Instead, they eschewed that path, creating what might be one of the best anti-sellout albums.
Angel Dust was an album that mystified yet delighted critics upon its release. Most hailed it as a wildly original and fascinating album, one that demanded focus and an open mind. Lyrically, musically, and visually, it was nothing that anyone expected.
If you look at the lyrics for Angel Dust, you’ll see that this is not your normal fare. They are poetic and are wasted on anyone who doesn’t take a closer look, belying the playful, carnivalesque nature of the music. They are often delivered with a Tom Waits-styled swagger, pouring forth with strange rhythms that are as unexpected as they are delightful.
Look for example at the opening track, “Land Of Sunshine”. It’s an amalgamation of Chinese fortune cookie fortunes and questions that are asked by the Church of Scientology. However, it fully embraces this nonsensical approach and instead twists and turns the lyrics into a scathing commentary on how happiness can only be found when properly “ordered”.
Vocalist Mike Patton has always been able to do unbelievable things with his voice and Faith No More never held him back from allowing him to showcase those talents. A stellar example would be “Smaller And Smaller”, where he chants almost like some Gregorian monk, hitting dissonant notes that manage to fit in perfectly. Suddenly, he is screaming like some horrific reptilian monster only to fall back to a growling rasp, a creature whispering and seducing from the shadows.
Musically, this album, like other releases, was all over the place. Each member contributed greatly to the overall sound, creating a landscape that never repeated itself, always offering something new and enrapturing. From the exciting chants in “Be Aggressive” to the gothic and sinister “Malpractice”, from the odd surfer rock ballad “RV” to the chaotic “Jizzlobber”, there is always something unique.
At the end of the day, Faith No More never really gave a shit what people thought about them and that’s precisely what made them so appealing. They did their own thing and it just so happened to resonate with enough people to make its mark.
Drummer Mike Bordin perhaps said it best, when he stated:
…we made our record, we produced it our way, we wrote our songs, we played them our way, it sounds like us. [Source]
After years away, with each member doing their own thing, they’re back with that same irreverent attitude. And in a society that’s so concerned and paranoid with what people think of them, this is the breath of fresh air that is desperately needed.
Be sure to pre-order Sol Invictus through Amazon.
Mulder and Scully are officially returning to television.
After months of will-they won’t-they, it’s been announced today that Fox has officially greenlit a new chapter of The X-Files. The six episode event will be directed by creator/executive producer Chris Carter and David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson are reprising their roles as Mulder and Scully.
The announcement was made today by Fox CEOs Dana Walden and Gary Newman. Production is set to begin this summer. Carter had this to say:
“Think of it as a 13-year commercial break. The good news is the world has only gotten that much stranger, a perfect time to tell these six stories.”
“We had the privilege of working with Chris on all nine seasons of THE X-FILES – one of the most rewarding creative experiences of our careers – and we couldn’t be more excited to explore that incredible world with him again,” remarked Newman and Walden. “THE X-FILES was not only a seminal show for both the studio and the network, it was a worldwide phenomenon that shaped pop culture – yet remained a true gem for the legions of fans who embraced it from the beginning. Few shows on television have drawn such dedicated fans as THE X-FILES, and we’re ecstatic to give them the next thrilling chapter of Mulder and Scully they’ve been waiting for.”
Ever since the Iron Curtain was lifted all those years ago, it’s scary hearing some of the stuff that went on in the Soviet States. I’m not talking about the regime (which was plenty scary), I’m talking about their own social incidents like serial killers: Anatoly Onoprienko, Gennady Mikhasevich, and of course, Andrei Chikatilo. Chikatilo, aka the Butcher of Rostov, was executed in 1994 after years of murdering and raping 52 women and children (though he claimed to have committed more than that). It’s always treading a fine line when you create and base a film on a person’s crimes, but Czech writer/director Petr Jákl has taken a swing with his film, Ghoul.
A trio of American documentarians with their local translator travel to a Ukranian village to shoot the first episode of a proposed documentary series on the cannibalism epidemic that swept through the country during the famine of 1932. Eventually, the group manages to interview a man named Boris Glaskov, who was convicted of killing a co-worker and eating him. Boris agrees to take the crew to the farmhouse where he committed the deed. Cameras are set up around the farmhouse to capture any creepy happenings. Boris suddenly disappears, and the group finds a strange carving of a pentagram/Ouija board on a table. After messing around with the board, the group unknowingly summons the spirit of Andrei Chikatilo, who begins possessing individual crewmembers, goading them into eating one another.
As you’ve probably guessed, the film borrows heavily from The Blair Witch Project, but there are attempts to try and carve out some creepy vibes, starting with the location photography. Jákl was able to film in a Ukrainian village, as well as grab some of the older locals for some of the “interviews”, which added to the feeling of authenticity. And while there are plenty of the predictable shaky-cam shots, there are also a couple of dynamic shots that director of photography Jan Šuster make count. I know, this flies in the face of the “found footage” motif, but we’re being honest here.
As far as the acting goes, Jennifer Armour stood out from the bunch. While she wasn’t obsessed with the documentary as Heather Donahue was in The Blair Witch (that position goes to Paul S. Tracey’s Ryan), having the most acting experience of the cast translated into one of the more convincing performances. On a whole, however, it was difficult to identify with the characters, as they spent more time bickering amongst themselves instead of using opportunities to escape their situation. Predictably, they end up paying for it, and we as the audience turn on them. Something I don’t think was intended.
You’re probably wondering how Chikatilo factors into this film. Frustratingly, it looks as if Jákl simply threw Chikatilo’s name into this along with several other ideas and put it up against a Blair Witch backdrop. Really, Chikatilo barely has any connection to the Ukrainian 1930′s famine other than being born in 1936. The film relies on nothing more than picking and choosing depending on the scene what it wants to use, and as a result there’s no cohesiveness. Further frustrating is the above-mentioned use of editing found footage from a variety of cameras, which defeats the entire idea of this being a documentary that was seemingly found in the Ukraine! Ghoul also falls back on the use of quick scares that do nothing to stimulate the tension, and off-screen violence that further betrays the whole use of cannibalism. Again, if you’re going to life ideas from anywhere and everywhere, use them and use them coherently!
Despite it being a hit in it’s native Czech Republic, Ghoul fails at being nothing more than a rip-off of the films that have come before it (and have done it MUCH better). The idea of using Andrei Chikatilo is wasted, lost in this mire of other wasted ideas that could’ve been used so much more effectively to create a creepy experience. You’d be better left to watching The Blair Witch Project again (how many times have I suggested that in the past when it comes to these types of films?). Or, if you’d keen on seeing a film with Andrei Chikatilo better utilized, go check out 2004′s Evilenko or wait for Daniel Espinosa’s Child 44.
Before the hit film starring Susan Sarandon and Tim Curry created a massive cult following in America, Richard O’Brien, an out of work actor in London, England, kept his hands busy by writing a rock musical. It was only supposed to be a way to pass the time, but after O’Brien played some of the songs he had written for his theater friend Jim Sharman, the two began to work on the play, it took on a life of its own, and that life strapped on platform heels and stomped its way across London’s stages. Starting at Royal Court’s Theatre Upstairs,”They Came From Denton High”, changed at the last minute to “The Rocky Horror Show”, went on to become the longest running stage production in history. On March 24th, 1974, the States were rocked by O’Brien and Sharman’s sexy, hysterical rock n roll party, as The Rocky Horror Show made its U.S. premiere at the Roxy on Sunset Blvd, and in 1975, the world was lucky enough to receive a feature film adaptation. The story, originally titled “Rocky Horroar”, that Richard O’Brien unleashed unto the world in 1973, may just seem like a simple spoof on the fun, delightfully strange nature of horror and sci-fi B-movies of the 1940s, but behind the charade of fishnets and nods to classic Universal monsters lies a greater motivation: the freedom of self-expression. In honor of the anniversary of America’s introduction to this fabulous play, let’s take a look back at the legacy of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
Without a doubt, this musical is easily one of the most odd, other-wordly, hysterical tales ever put on film. Nods to films like Frankenstein, It Came From Outer Space, Forbidden Planet, The Mummy, Night of the Demon, King Kong, and more are scattered throughout the feature like shimmering bits of confetti in a floor show. When Brad and Janet’s car gets a flat tire and they are forced to walk through the rain seeking assistance, they spot a beacon of hope off in the distance. A tiny glow emitted from a gloomy castle seems like the answer to their prayers, but soon, they will find that it’s only the start of a frightening introduction into a dark world that squares like them have never dared venture. They begin to sing “There’s A Light (Over At the Frankenstein Place)”, a sweet song that shows just how naive they really are, and provides a hilarious spoof on the situation that has happened so many times in horror movies, when a young couple looks for help on a dark night and winds up walking right into the arms of their assassins. Later, one of the not-quite-human creatures in the castle brings a man in his laboratory, Rocky, to life. Little does Rocky know, he’s only been awoken from his deep slumber to play the part of a sex toy in Frank-N-Furter’s life, but he soon catches on, and takes off running, much to Rocky’s dismay as he chases Rocky around the lab screaming and stumbling in his six inch heels. This hilarious moment obviously parallels 1931’s Frankenstein, and offers up an amusing notion that perhaps Dr. Frankenstein only made his monster for pleasurable personal uses. To make it even funnier, O’Brien throws in homages to Charles Atlas and muscle men of the 1950s, making it clear that Frank-N-Furter’s type of man is one that can lift a barbell with ease. Of course, this film is as much a love letter to horror and sci-fi B-movies of the 1930, ’40s, and ’50s as it is poking fun at them. When O’Brien originally wrote the script, he simply included his interests, and threw in his wickedly splendid sense of humor for taste. However, whether intentional or not, in the end what he cooked up was an unprecedented, brilliant blending of genres that was ahead of its time, both for film and for society’s approved ideas of sexuality.
As said before, Frank-N-Furter brings Rocky to life in his laboratory in front of Brad, Janet, and all of the transexual transvestites from Transylvania. However, what makes this scene both ironic and a strong commentary on homosexuality and the perception of sexual orientation during the 1970s is the design of the set. The lab is a bright pink, round vessel, filled with a plethora of penis handles and levers, where a transvestite metaphorically gives birth to a man in a rainbow-colored tank, from whence he emerges, shows off his muscles, and proceeds to enter the bedroom with his new sire. Also, if you look at the attire, aside from Brad and Janet’s lack of clothing, Frank-N-Furter dons a green surgical apron with a pink triangle on it. During World War II, German Nazis identified homosexuals in their concentration camps by forcing them to wear a pink triangle, pointed downward. Later, gay men reclaimed this badge and made it their own by pointing it upward, as a symbol of gay pride. In the film, Frank can be seen sporting the pink triangle on his apron, pointing up. Also, to add to this theory, later when Doctor Scott enters the castle, Frank-N-Furter reveals not only a hatred for the man, but a secret that Scott is actually a German. Why would Frank have such an issue with Germans? Perhaps it’s because they were the ones that oppressed his people in such a cruel fashion many years prior. However, at the end of the day, I’d still argue that this film isn’t necessarily one big pro-gay film, but just a picture that urges people to accept themselves for who they are, and give others the same courtesy. Rocky Horror plays with sexuality, tests the limits of your tolerance, and doesn’t care much for being politically correct. Yes, it’s a silly film, but in the way that it deals with such out of the mainstream sexuality with such light heartedness, it says that it’s okay to have sexual preferences that might not be heterosexual. You should be who you want to be, sleep with whoever you desire, and never feel ashamed, because the only person who could be at fault in such a scenario is the person that tries to shame you.
Rocky Horror shoves you out of your comfort zone and forces you to explore yourself, and your sexuality, through shocking, provocative behavior that plays with your emotions and toys with your sense of normality. Do you find that you’re attracted to Frank? It’s okay! Believe it or not, lots of people are, as O’Brien admits in an interview years later. If you are surprised by how open you are to the unusual nature of this film, that just means that the feature is doing its job, because this isn’t a movie that you sit back and quietly observe. This is a film that reaches out and touch-a-touch-a-touch-a-touches you, and makes you question the limits of your morality, and forces you to expand your vision of the world, leaving you with a more open perspective, and a more light-hearted, honest acceptance of others. The Rocky Horror Picture Show lives on all these years later, both on stage and on film, sometimes combining both with midnight screenings and yelling, interactive audiences, because it’s wild, and fun, and welcoming. Rocky reaches out to the loner in you and offers you a crowd of misfit toys to hang with, especially at the midnight screenings, which offer a sense of community. As the years go by, the cult following only grows stronger, because back in 1973, Richard O’Brien wrote a revolutionary little story that unabashedly declares “I am” — a message that still holds an important place in society, even all of these years later.
Insidious 3 Set Visit
By Alyse Wax
Sequels get a bad rap. Not quite as bad as remakes (where the hatred is usually well-deserved) but it seems like people look down on sequels. And of course, the returns diminish as the sequels increase. Insidious seems to be one of the few franchises where the second one held up to the first, and after spending a day on the set of Insidious Chapter 3, I am excited that it looks like the tradition will continue.
Tucked into a dusty town far north of Hollywood, with nary a trendy cafe or boutique in sight, is the small cluster of soundstages that Insidious 3 has made its home. Quite a difference from Insidious 2, which filmed in the infamous (and some say haunted) Linda Vista Hospital. But once inside, we are transported into a new and disturbing vision of The Further.
Chapter 3 is set in 2008, making it a “prequel” to the original Insidious. But the Lambert family does not make an appearance in this film. “I didn’t think there was much left to tell with the Lambert family,” admits writer/director Leigh Whannell (who will also reprise his role of Specs). “I think it would have been weird for the trailer to be like, ‘They’re back. And they’re being haunted. Again.’ If you put Rose Byrne and Patrick Wilson in this movie, and a teacup moves, their response is ‘Oh shit, it’s a ghost again.’”
Unit publicist James Ferrera gives us a vague idea of the plot: “The protagonist is a young girl named Quinn who has just lost her mother. She has a brother and a father, and the whole family is feeling the loss. It particularly touches her. She is trying to communicate with her mother, and in doing so, she unwittingly disturbs something in The Further. That is what sets off the events of this film.”
“When we took [the Lamberts] out of the picture, I started thinking about what the connective tissue would be,” Whannell says. “If it is a new family, who would be familiar? And of course, Elise, Tucker and Specs came up. The thing is, James [Wan] and I wrote ourselves into a corner in that Elise dies in the first film! I really wanted Elise back, but I didn’t want to deal with ‘ghost Elise’ – I want her alive! So then I started thinking about an origin story for her, a prequel set before the first film.”
Whannell promises there will be “little strands” that connect Chapter 3 to the first Insidious film, but promises that audiences can walk into Chapter 3 and enjoy it without having seen the first two. “I liked that slate-wiping aspect of it, but I think there is room between this film and the first film [for more stories].”
Getting Whannell to direct Insidious Chapter 3 was not a slam dunk. “We were begging Leigh to direct it, but he just wanted to write the script,” states producer Jason Blum. “There was a two-minute window where I was like, ‘I don’t want to direct part three of anything,’” admits Whannell. “Not even The Godfather made a decent part three. But after that two-minute window passed, I told myself I was an idiot, that I have to do this. This was before I wrote it. Once I started to write it, I fell in love with it. I do remember saying, ‘I don’t know if I want someone else to fuck this up. I want to fuck it up!’”
Into The Further we go. The scene we watch them film today, as they enter the last week of principle photography, involves Lin Shaye, reprising her role of Elise, as she and Quinn (played by Stefanie Scott) race down a long, Gothic hallway as they try to escape the film’s demon. The demon is a horrific vision, even in person: he is skinny and bald and hunched, dressed in a filthy hospital gown and an ominous breathing apparatus. If he looks familiar, there is a good reason for that: “He is played by Michael MacKay, the guy from Seven, who played Sloth,” explains Whannell. “I remember saying to the casting agent, ‘I want him to look like the guy from Seven, who was tied to the bed. Sloth.’ So she got him! He looks exactly the same, but a little older. That guy plays our main villain! It’s awesome to have him, given that that character was such an inspiration for our villain’s look. Imagine if that character, Sloth, got up and was walking around.”
A walk through “Sloth’s” apartment is disgusting, to say the least. We are in the 1970s version of his apartment – I guess when he was a living, (barely) breathing person. The demon in his human life was very ill and a shut-in, as evidenced by mounds of prescription bottles, oxygen tanks, cigarettes, and multiple towers made of playing cards. Of course, there is a creepy doll in the demon’s living room, but what is even weirder are the stacks of photographs spilling out around the decrepit piano: closeup photos of other, equally-creepy dolls. A stack of “Wanted” posters are mixed in, but I cannot get close enough to see who is wanted, and what for. Judging by the police sketch, I have to believe it is a pedophile.
“The lights on the set are low and gloomy,” says Dermot Mulroney, who plays Quinn’s father. “I’m just doing a scene about breakfast, getting the kids off to school – and there is a guy sitting behind me, this demon, in full regalia, ready to go on to do his part. He’s just lurking in the corner.” That wasn’t the only time Whannell scared his cast – and they have William Friedkin to thank for that. “I used an airhorn once,” Whannell confesses. “This all comes from William Friedkin. Before I started shooting, I sent William Friedkin a Tweet, and asked for advice, and he said, ‘Let’s go out to lunch and talk about it.’ So I ended up going out to lunch with William Friedkin. It was surreal! I’ve never met the guy, and he barely says hello before he starts off by saying, ‘You’ve got to scare your actors for real. Every time someone jumps in The Exorcist, it was because I was just off-camera, firing a gun. That’s what you must do.’ I couldn’t do that, so the airhorn was the consolation prize.” Stefanie Scott, who has always wanted to do a horror film and was a fan of the Insidious franchise before signing on, admits that “Leigh scares the crap out of me every day.”
Insidious Chapter 3 is scheduled to hit theaters June 5, 2015.
Welcome to the horror comic of the week, if you only have cash to pick up one comic this week make it “Intersect” #5.
Intersect is Ray Fawkes’ strange surreal look at what it means to be “intersected.” It’s a twisted take on body horror brought to life beautifully with water colors. The narrative has been organically uncanny, it’s as if you’re lost in a fever dream and the only way out is to keep digging deeper. The beauty of the entire thing is the interlocking sexuality that comes with being immersed in the pages. There is something about being intersected that is impossible to resist, and a little hard to fathom. “Intersect” continually proves itself a worthy entry in the canon of Cronenbergian Body-horror, not by being a cheap imitation but by doing something dynamically different and insane.
Eric Switzer has continually raved about the book.
Issue #5 is the penultimate issue of the first arc, “The drumbeat of revelation sounds in cracking streets and splintering bone. All survivors move into their final position and the scorching, monstrous truth of all things is poised to be witnessed, but not before a vicious battle unfolds…”
Just as Chloë Sevigny joins “American Horror Story: Hotel”, filming has begun on her next film, Antibirth, which also stars Natasha Lyonne (“Orange Is the New Black”), Meg Tilly (The Big Chill), Mark Webber (Scott Pilgrim VS. The World), and Maxwell McCabe-Lokos (The Incredible Hulk).
Written and directed by Danny Perez, “In a desolate community full of drug-addled Marines and rumors of kidnapping, a wild-eyed stoner named Lou wakes up after a wild night of partying with symptoms of a strange illness and recurring visions as she struggles to get a grip on reality while stories of conspiracy spread.”
Filming takes place in Sudbury, Ontario.
Just the other week franchise star Jessica Lange exited the “American Horror Story” universe, leaving the reigns to the infamous Lady Gaga.
Now, with the fifth season in full swing at FX, co-creater Ryan Murphy has added Chloë Sevigny to the cast of “American Horror Story: Hotel”, returning this fall. Sevigny is a returning series regular, and recently starred in Netflix’s incredible new series, “Bloodline”.
Lady Gaga, Wes Bentley, Matt Bomer and Cheyenne Jackson have previously been cast.
We’ve been truth to figure out what “American Horror Story: Hotel” will be about. We came up with three theories, tagged here. Which do you think it is, if any?
In terms of Lange’s previous exit: “Yes, I’m done,” she told the PaleyFest audience. “We’ve had a great run here. I have absolutely loved doing these four characters that I’ve had the opportunity to play. In all the madness, I’ve loved the writers, my actors, Ryan and the whole, I mean, insanity of it, shooting here, shooting in New Orleans, the stories, everything.”
While this isn’t the first time we’ve been honored in such a way, both Tom and myself are elated to share Daniel Ponton’s new tattoo that gives homage to Bloody Disgusting!
We put our heart and soul into this website, and to know that we have fellow horror fans who would ink themselves with our logo for life is beyond humbling.
Ponton shared with us the following photo of the Bloody tat on his chest, courtesy of artist Mark Wright of Capital Tattoo in Silver Spring, Maryland.
We can’t express our gratitude enough, and can only hope that we make him proud to still have that tattoo when he turns 90…
Uncork’d Entertainment will release the applauded spookfest Evangeline, starring “The 100′s” Richard Harmon, on VOD May 8, 2015, and on DVD June 9, 2015.
“Evangeline Pullman (Kat de Lieva) has just escaped her sheltered upbringing to reinvent herself in college. As she begins to break out of her shell, she attracts the attention of a violent fraternity leader (Richard Harmon) and his two cohorts. Beaten and dumped in the woods to die, Evangeline finds herself trapped in a supernatural nightmare, and she must choose between vengeance and redemption.“
From director Karen Lam, Evangeline stars Kat de Lieva as the titular character with Richard Harmon (TV’s “The 100″) and David Lewis (Halloween Resurrection, Man of Steel).
“The Walking Dead’s” Jon Bernthal, Richard Armitage and Tom Holland have joined the cast of the Irish action-thriller Pilgrimage, which will be directed by Brendan Muldowney this spring in Ireland and Belgium, Bloody Disgusting learned.
“Set in 13th century Ireland, Pilgrimage follows a small group of monks as they undertake a treacherous pilgrimage to escort their monastery’s holiest relic to Rome. But, as the true material, political and religious significance of the relic is revealed, the group’s journey becomes increasingly fraught with danger. Ultimately, the faith that binds the men together threatens to be the very same thing that will tear them apart.”
The film was written by Jamie Hannigan and will be produced by Conor Barry and John Keville of Dublin-based production outfit Savage Productions and Benoit Roland of Wrong Men North. XYZ will executive produce.
The film is scheduled to commence production in April 2015 and shoot for over seven weeks on the West Coast of Ireland and the Ardennes Region of Belgium.
A few weeks ago we learned that Independence Day 2 (also known by the awful title ID Forever) takes place 20 years after the 1996 film and sees alien reinforcements coming to earth following a distress call sent by the first failed wave of invaders that Will Smith punched in the face.
Director Roland Emmerich announced on his Twitter page that Vivica A. Fox is reprising her role as Jasmine Dubrow, the stripper who winds up marrying Will Smith’s Capt. Steven Hiller. She joins a cast that already includes Bill Pullman, Jessie Usher, Jeff Goldblum, Charlotte Gainsbourg, and Liam Hemsworth.
Smith has opted out for the sequel and it’s already been confirmed that the story will center on his stepson Dylan, played by Jessie Usher. Now that Fox has signed on, does this mean Smith’s character is dead in the new film? Will Jasmine Dubrow be a widow or a divorcee? As long as Pullman and Goldblum are reprising their roles, does anyone really give a shit if Smith’s character is dead or not?
Let the speculation begin.
Shooting on Independence Day 2 begins this May in Montreal.
20th Century Fox is planning on a June 24, 2016 release.
This impressive collection of art from concept artist Bradley Wright perfectly represents why why I fell in love with last year’s survival horror game Alien: Isolation. Had developer Creative Assembly not been as successful as they were in recreating the look and feel of the original film, the game wouldn’t have been nearly as effective as it was.
Without talented artists like Wright, Isolation might’ve ended up being as generic as Colonial Marines. It’s a good thing that wasn’t the case, so in the spirit of celebration, let’s take a few minutes to soak up some of the game’s gorgeous concept art.
For way more art like this, I recommend you head on over to It’s Art Mag.
Hands-on with Bloodborne, the reason Hideo Kojima’s name was removed from Metal Gear Solid, a possible Alan Wake remaster, and why REvelations 2 isn’t what Don wanted.
A decidedly not cryptic tweet from Raven Software has strongly hinted at a follow-up to the somewhat underrated sci-fi action game Singularity. The message “We’re going back” is all we currently have to go by, but the timing of this announcement leads me to believe we’ll be hearing from it again very soon. The original game released five years ago this June, so I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw or heard from it again in the coming months.
— Raven Software (@RavenSoftware) March 23, 2015
Today isn’t like another Tuesday. This is the day that Bloodborne makes its bloody debut. It will likely leave a slew of broken gamers in its wake, but those who remain standing will be forever changed. I’ve spent quite a bit of time with it already, and even the countless hours spent in the Souls series weren’t enough to prepare me for its horrors.
The survival horror genre can be an unforgiving one. Its games often require a level of strategy not seen in many other games. Patience, cunning, resourcefulness and the ability to remember the location of that locked door with the engraving on it you passed by an hour ago while being chased by a horde of ghouls, or something worse, because you found a key hiding under a wobbly floorboard you think might fit it.
These are skills most survival horror veterans possess. Some of us have grown lazy over the years as game design has eschewed its unforgiving nature in favor of something with a wider appeal. That’s one of the reasons why games like Dark Souls and Bloodborne are so refreshing, because they refuse to hold the player’s hand.
This leads me to my question: do you enjoy a real challenge in the games you play, or would you rather play something that doesn’t require quite as much from you?
Leading up to its release, I had heard concerned mumblings from Dark Souls fans who were worried Bloodborne wouldn’t offer as much of a challenge that developer From Software’s other franchise had become famous for. It took me all of five minutes to confirm that those worries were unfounded, when the very first enemy, a werewolf, ravaged me next to an autopsy table. Twice.
Death is as present and necessary in Bloodborne as it is in the Souls series. It’s as much of a feature as the multiplayer is, and you’ll need to understand it, to learn your way around it, before you can master this game.
“Master” might not be the right word, since for most of us, such a feat isn’t possible. You’re getting familiar with it more than anything else. Think of death as just another adversary to conquer and you might not be as frustrated when it best you again, and again, and again.
The back of each copy of Bloodborne should have a label on it that reads something like Warning: this game will break you, because where the player’s goal is to learn enough from their mistakes to survive long enough to make progress, the game has the singular goal of breaking your will to accomplish that.
You can tell that developer From Software must glean a childlike joy from each new release. They introduced their unique brand of sadism in 2009 with Demon’s Souls, only to spend the next six years perfecting the formula with the Dark Souls series. Bloodborne is an evolution of that, another step forward for the company and one of gaming’s most challenging franchises.
I didn’t realize it until I sat down with this game, but there’s an element of nostalgia to these games that may be one of the driving forces for why I keep returning to them. Bloodborne is this generation’s Nightmare Creatures, and if you aren’t familiar with that fantastic and woefully short-lived horror series, I’d still recommend it today. The first game released nearly two decades ago, and it’s aged surprisingly well.
The first handful of hours you’ll spend with Bloodborne will be the most important. It’s during this time that you’ll find out if you have what it takes to stick with it. Its introductory hours are decidedly spooky, complete with werewolves, tortured souls, scary sounds and the first of many tough lessons you can look forward to learning in the hours to come.
Dread is thick in Yharnam, a ghostly city that could’ve been carved out of any of H.P. Lovecraft’s eerie tales. I half-expected Cthulhu itself to rise from the water like an angry Kraken. It didn’t, but I’d argue there are at least a few gargantuan beasts scattered about the world that would give that Elder God a run for its money.
Combat works much like it did in the Souls games. Your character has a light attack, a strong attack — both can be charged for more devastating blows — a ranged attack, and an assortment of evasive moves. You can lock onto a specific foe for something to focus on, but I only recommend you do that during one-on-one fights. The enemy AI is refreshingly unpredictable, so ignoring or underestimating something can, and almost certainly will, prove fatal.
You probably won’t even notice the more restricted arsenal compared to From Software’s previous games, because the developer went to great lengths to keep such a thing from mattering. The weapons are more satisfying, and they’ve been built to reward those who employ a good offense, as opposed to the more defensive play favored in Souls.
I love that your arsenal is immediately made more personal because you choose it. So much of this game is familiar that I found myself latching on to this one big change. I expected to be able to improve and customize my character’s stats, abilities, gear and, to a certain extent, the weapons, but I did not expect for the relationship to get even deeper. It does, thanks to the introduction of runes and blood gems, which give you even greater control over your character. It’s an extremely welcome addition.
The combat runs at a noticeable quicker pace that, I’ll admit, took some getting used to. I don’t often go in guns blazing, so it took a few defeats for me to be able to confidently vanquish even the most basic enemies. More strategic players will likely enjoy the health gain mechanic that’s been introduced to offset the quickened combat.
Basically, you can regain some of your lost health with well-timed blows. Mastering this will be required if you want to survive encounters with more capable enemies, like any of the game’s numerous bosses. 40-ish hours in and I’m still working on it.
Exploration is as important as ever, as there are countless rewards waiting for those who are willing to go out of their way to find hidden treasures. You’ll want to explore this world anyway, because it’s one of the most unforgettable game worlds I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting.
The massive, inter-connected world that was first introduced in Dark Souls is back, and with it marks the return of the always fun mini game where you cautiously explore unfamiliar locales to see if your character is capable of surviving in them. I can’t tell you how many times I learned, usually through the expenditure of alarming quantities of blood, that I’m not quite ready to visit certain areas. It can be scary, but that’s part of the fun.
Loot is still very present, it just takes a while to fully reveal itself. When combined with all of the above, you get a combat system that puts a significantly greater emphasis on character builds than Souls ever did. Having a few different options is something you’ll want to consider trying out, especially if you find yourself being bested by the same baddie numerous times.
The innovative multiplayer this studio first gifted us with six years ago has made its way to Yharnam, too. Stuck on a particularly tough fight? Call on some allies to offer aid. Feeling mischievous? Embrace your devilish side by invading another player’s world to make their life more difficult. The former will come in handy when you’re ready to try a Chalice Dungeon — an assortment of dungeons with specific objectives and added difficulty modifiers that greatly add to this game’s replay factor.
As I’m sure you’ve gathered by now, Bloodborne is very much a Dark Souls game. Many of the ideas are here, they’re just presented in a Gothic horror package that’s darker, bloodier, scarier and so much better. From Software has learned a lot from their Souls series, and that knowledge has clearly led the direction they took with this.
The Final Word: Bloodborne is one of the most challenging games I’ve ever played. It’s also one of the most beautiful, unforgettable and rewarding gaming experiences since, well, Dark Souls II.
There’s an unsophistication about the DreadOut universe that’s at once both endearing and disappointing.
Like its predecessor, DreadOut: Act 2 is an unapologetic love letter to a now bygone era of survival horror, a time of clunky controls and claustrophobic camera angles. It’s likely it’s no coincidence that playing the latest chapter in the DreadOut series evokes memories of those stellar games of yesterday; Fatal Frame/Project Zero, Deadly Premonition, Silent Hill… they’re all echoed here, some more successfully than others.
The story picks up on the heels of the opening Act, and once again we fall into the dainty feet of the silent (and unnervingly unemotional) protagonist Linda, an Indonesian schoolgirl who falls unwittingly into a school-field-trip-gone-wrong trope.
Though the first Act 1 was a strangely solitary affair, in Act 2 we’re united – albeit briefly – with our erstwhile colleagues, which helps pack a little flesh on the otherwise bare bones of a storyline. For though predecessor Act 1 was less than successful in delivering a tangible narrative, Act 2’s tale is little more detailed, unfurling a storyline that’s cliched but intriguing nonetheless.
Again, the scant clues you collect during your exploration shed a little light on the mystery, and though the game deploys a number of horror game cliches and cheap jump scares, the design of your enemies – from their appearance to their backstory – is delightfully detailed, complemented further by competent sound design that packs more punch than the visuals alone could hope to deliver.
But whilst the detailed ghost graphics offer insight into developer Digital Happiness’ design competency, the subtle palette of blues, greys and blacks and Scooby-Doo-esque backdrops are instantly forgettable, which is a shame, given how much scope there was to expand on exposition through environment.
That said, the handful of interactive, puzzle-y touches – using reflective surfaces and props to catch incognito ghosts, or a twist to the perceived safety of your purgatory status for instance – were expertly crafted, again intimating that this indie studio may be capable of more than its currently delivering.
Whilst the combat mechanic remains chiefly unchanged from the previous chapter – again, like Miku’s Camera Obscura from Fatal Frame, you must use your cell phone or clunky SLR to capture and banish the spirits – I did enjoy the variation. Each enemy-type boasts its own unique weakness, which means much like Zelda dungeons of old, you’ll need to suss out each one’s achilles heel, revising your combat strategy on the fly and carefully surveying your environment for tools and clues.
Oh, and don’t forget your ghostpedia: despite it’s horrifying generic name, its a valuable resource, and may provide tips and hints on how to defeat your folklore foes.
The trouble is, like the opening instalment, DreadOut Act 2 is just a tad too shallow an experience.
Satisfying stories can save glitchy graphics, and beautiful backdrops can sometimes detract from a shallow story, but in this case, we’re cursed with neither scenario. It’s not awful, but it’s not all that good, either. Though steeped in Indonesian folklore, there’s little here that sets it apart from older – and, in many cases, better – games that came before, and the rich lore is barely explored, let alone fully exposed.
Linda’s nonno-syllabic nature means we rarely know how she feels, and as such you play with a peculiar detachment which alienates you from your protagonist. Unflinching in her observation of the horrors around her – and seemingly unaffected by the fates of her friends – Linda’s stoicism is unfitting at best and uncomfortable at worse. For how can you be expected to care about her when she fails to care about anyone else herself?
The WTF moments – say, the mysterious 30 foot high woman floating in air, and some of the latest encounters with the our friend the Woman in Red – are the few things that save the game from what would otherwise be a very lacklustre offering indeed.
If DreadOut: Act 2 had captured some of the intrinsic intrigue of the heyday of survival horror, had told a retro story in a new, challenging way or even stuffed its world with plentiful narrative clues that rewarded off-the-beaten-path exploration, I’d be more forgiving. As it stands, the game offers good value for money (if you’ve bought Act 1, Act 2 is available at no extra charge) and is short enough that you’ll probably complete before feeling bored.
Yup. I’m using the game’s shortened playtime as a positive here.
If you’re a fan of Fatal Frame et al, I’d be surprised if you didn’t enjoy a few hours of exploration with Linda. But just don’t come in expecting any contemporary twist here. It plays, looks and feels just like a fifteen-year-old PS2 horror title, but with little in the way of the puzzles or combat that so defined the genre. It lacks complexity and depth in both story and approach, leaving me straddling a no-man’s land of neither love or loathing.
Final Word: Play it or don’t play it – I don’t think your life will be drastically affected one way or the other, I’m afraid.
Developer Daybreak has announced some impressive sales figures for H1Z1, the zombie survival game where players gradually realize they’re not playing DayZ, which has sold over a million copies on Steam since it arrived on Early Access in January.
The news of this milestone came from a tweet by Daybreak president John Smedley, who, just a few hours earlier, had posted an arguably more exciting announcement that over 5,000 dickheads cheaters had just been banned from the game. That’s great news for everyone.
I haven’t played H1Z1 yet and Tyler didn’t seem to impressed with it. If you’re still in the thick of it, I’d like to know.
One of the big questions that has loomed over the storied career of legendary metal band Metallica was, “Why does …And Justice For All have no bass to it?” It’s a question that has been brought up many times over the years and has puzzled countless fans, especially after the fantastic Master Of Puppets.
But that question can now be laid to rest as Steve Thompson, who mixed the album, has opened up and explained everything that happened to lead to the absence of bass on that album.
In an interview with Ultimate-Guitar, Thompson explains exactly what happened:
We had to get the drum sound up the way he had it. I wasn’t a fan of it. So now [Lars Ulrich] goes, “See the bass guitar?” and I said, “Yeah, great part, man. He killed it.” He said, “I want you to bring down the bass where you can barely, audibly hear it in the mix.” I said, “You’re kidding. Right?”
He said, “No. Bring it down.” I bring it down to that level and he says, “Now drop it down another 5 db.” I turned around and looked at [James] Hetfield and said, “He’s serious?” It just blew me away.
I wanted to take “Master of Puppets” and blow that away. That was my sonic direction for “… And Justice For All.” It was all there but I think they were looking for more garagey-type sound without bass. And the bass was great; it was perfect.
It was a shame because I’m the one getting the sh-t for the lack of bass.
But do you want to know the kicker? You want to hear the real zinger in all of this? Check out the chutzpah of Ulrich several years later at the Hall Of Fame:
I remember when Metallica got elected to the Hall of Fame, they flew us out and I’m sitting with Lars. He goes, “Hey, what happened to the bass in “… Justice?” He actually asked me that. I wanted to cold cock him right there.
Well, there you have it. The most vocal and noticeable member, Mr. Lars Ulrich, is again the reason behind yet another issue in the band’s career. Good job, sir.