Scott Snyder is a man who needs no introduction. Over the past few years he’s become one of the most prolific writers in comics due to his work on “Batman.” But, his heart lies with horror, and now for the first time in years he’s returning to where he’s most comfortable with “Wytches.” A horrific reimagining of the age old terror, brought to horrible life by Jock and Image Comics.
The absolutely terrifying book launches tomorrow, but in advance of the book’s release we caught up with Scott to talk about the core elements that make up the horror of the book. This is a man who knows and loves the genre.
Bloody-Disgusting: There is certain rawness to “Wytches” that provokes you to read further, to test the limits of your own reason, and introspection. I find a lot of good horror stems from what the creators are most afraid of themselves, for you, it seems the quick transition from sympathy, to loss of control, to chaos?
Scott Snyder: I think in some ways each character in the story is trying to keep something under control for themselves. Something that’s either buried in their past or that they feel guilt over, something that they’re not sure was the right decision. For Charlie there’s things that he’s done, both involving his wife’s accident and in general decisions he’s made in life that he has qualms about.
He’s a character that’s built very personally from Jock and me. We put a lot of ourselves into our work, sometimes at the expense of family time. There is always a sense when you’re a father or a parent of this push and pull of you love that time you spend with your kids so much, and love them more than your capable of loving anything and then at the same time that desire to not be worried about them, to not have that sense of total concern. It’s completely out of your control.
There’s suddenly a thing walking around the world that you would die if something happened to it. That can inspire bad decisions.
Similarly, Lucy has things she feels bad about with her accident. Things she hasn’t told Charlie, and the same goes for Sailor. She’s trying to keep things under control for herself. I think the best horror at least for me, is about things spinning out of control not just in a plot way where monsters break into the house, but the things that you’re afraid those monsters represent or the things your afraid will come out about yourself under the pressure of attack from some monster eventually do. That’s when the real terror manifests itself.
BD: Speaking of that chaos, I found something in the pages of the first issue is that overwhelming first exposure to true terror as a child. Sailor has an experience that haunts her everyday, I remember my child-life descending into madness after watching Stephen King’s IT, for the first time. I slept in my parents room for a year, what is about that that you wanted to explore, and what defined terror for you as a child?
SS: The movie that did it for me, was Night of the Living Dead. I mean I had already seen a ton of horror movies at that age, I must have been twelve, there was this infamous video store near my house that wouldn’t rent to kids, but would deliver to your house if you ordered them. I had seen all kinds of slasher films I shouldn’t have. With Night of the Living Dead, I was disappointed it was black and white when it began. But, I was so unsettled by the end. It was the only movie to really give me anxiety and nightmares.
Looking back it was for much the same reason that you’re talking about with IT. There is this sense that no one is going to help you, that when everything that should go well, when you go “I’m going to stick up for myself,” and pull out this knife and say “You’re not bully me anymore!” The young couple should win, but when those things go bad and you see that sense of inescapable terror, where there is no way out, the thing that you originally saw as your salvation becomes almost doubly bad.
That is sort of the terror of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, where the sheriff takes you back to the house you just escaped from. That sense of nightmare circularity, where there is no way out. That was definitely the feel we were going for, in that scene you mentioned and in the construction of the town, the woods, the home that they move into, and the strange way that the story begins to become more claustrophobic. There is this sense that everything they do to get away doesn’t work.
BD: It’s intensely personal and you’ve talked about comics being a singular experience, is it important that horror comics be more engrained in the characters rather than the situations?
SS: Yeah very much so. Reading a comic you wind up animating the characters and create a very personal investment. You don’t hear their voices, actors do not play them, and you still supply that life that you do when you read prose. Putting characters in emotional jeopardy is comics’ advantage over film or television.
Witches are considered a standard in the world of horror, hell, apart from Suspiria I can’t even remember the last time I found them scary before reading this book, what was it about them, in particular that you found to be the draw especially in a book you wanted to be your scariest thing yet?
BD: I love reimagining age old creatures, and you seem to be following that thread in Wytches and American Vampire, there must be a challenge to that, because can so easily be visually bankrupt characters, and conversely you can define them in whatever way you like, what’s the draw for you?
SS: The challenge is making them scary to you personally. I like doing something that hasn’t been done before. The thing that’s scary about the wytches for me, there’s a physical monstrousness that Jock has developed. When you see them they’re very striking chracters. The placement of their face and eyes, all that kind of stuff is unlike anything you’ve seen before. They don’t look like witches.
But what makes them genuinely scary is they don’t come after us, they wait for us to come to them, because we want what they have: this incredible knowledge of their own, this ancient primal science. No spells or anything, but what they’re able to do through that science is far beyond the reaches of our own modern medicine. They can cure cancer, extend your life, make you forget things, so if you want your kid healthy you can pledge someone else to them, and the wytches know they’re meant to come to them.
They’re a dark mirror to human nature, I knew this would be a reinvention that would be really exciting to write. They have a degree of emotional and psychological terror that allows us to explore the nature of the characters involved, and not to sound corny but more largely human nature.
BD: It’s a huge element to horror, and it feels like the wytches are this form of escapism, a way to regain control, a conduit to avoid dealing with what we’re most afraid of about ourselves.
SS: Very much, absolutely. They are this very scary primal force, they are these naked cannibalistic things that live in these burrows out in the woods. They’re very alien, they don’t whisper to us, they’re this really odd reflection that just waits for us in the woods to offer them someone to get what we want.
You offer someone to them because you want to escape your fate. Ultimately you owe them more than you think, and things are going to spin further out of control for you than you thought. It’s really a fun book for me.
The Wytches are so elementally scary because they are so unknown and unfamiliar. Even their eyes are designed to be these large black reflective pupils that hide in trees and look at you through holes in trees. They have no sympathy and no mercy, they give you what you want to get what they want.
BD: Is there an element of sexuality to them and the idea of pledging?
SS: Not really, no. I wanted to move away from a more gendered design for them. There has been a gendered stigma attached to witches, it felt odd to make monsters that were specifically women. There are very androgynous, when you see the design I think that makes them doubly scary. They are unfamiliar, asexual, and predatory. So in that regard you don’t even know how they reproduce. We know, we have a whole guide, but everything they do is part of the mystery.
It’s really more of a pledge because they have a very particular process of eating you.
BD: In it’s most chaotic moments, JOCK’s style becomes loose and energetic, it’s unpredictable, and part of the terror, how tight we’re your scripts, and how much do you dictate what’s on the page?
SS: The scripts were really tight, actually. I write other books a lot more loosely. Greg enjoys the latitude on “Batman.” An action sequence is described in a paragraph or two that lays out the major beats and I’ll let him go for a few pages. Jock enjoys having a map, so that makes these scripts much more robust. All of the dialogue is pretty much where it is, but he knows from working on “Detective Comics” together, that I’ll have a note at the beginning of my scripts, at this point out of habit, that he is encouraged to change anything at all to be more effective storytelling.
For example in issue #2 there’s a scene where Charlie is fixing the chair along the stairs while talking to his friend Reg. It’s the electric chair for Lucy to carry her up. In the end the chair starts working despite Charlie not being able to get it to work, and Jock did this great sequence where his friend and him are sitting on it while it starts to move. He let it go on, to the point where they rise up out of the panel, where they’re feet rise out with this witchy quality like floating on a broom.
He always adds something else that isn’t in the script, but I love it. That’s what makes writing for him, and playing to his strengths so enjoyable. There’s another scene in issue #2 that takes place in a cafeteria, the cafeteria would have been great for Sean because he loves all the world building with the characters in the background. Jock is more atmospheric; I thought that would be more constrictive, so I set it in swim class, in a swimming pool.
To see what he’s doing with it, with the crazy blues and the reflections of the light, so I try to do things that reflect the artist that I’m with but it doesn’t change the meaning of the scene whatsoever. I give Jock full scripts and them come back then times better.
Matt, the colorist, oh my God. His style is genius, he tells a real story through color. The scenes that are violent get pixelated and painterly, as opposed to the scenes that are quiet and calm.
BD: I saw a lot of Argento lighting in Matt’s color, it felt odd and otherworldly, like much of Susperia, was that part of your design or Matt’s happy accident?
SS: For the back matter for issue #1, we’re including that color pallet. We want to show how much work goes into the coloring process. He’s really an integral part of the team. Coloring is such an important part of comics that is often neglected. He’s the third part of the team.
Colorists contribute so much to these books. Matt has a real primal emotionality to the color, that tells a story. I dictate the feel of it. For this we wanted the creepiest progression of color he could think of, but with Charlie we wanted this sense of tenderness. I try and dictate the feel of it, but I avoid the technical aspects of what they do. For me, I never would have thought of it the way it usually comes out, but it always looks so much better because I let Matt do his thing.
BD: Charlie’s got a real tough choice to make, if this comes down to his pledge. Between Lucy and Sailor, he’s dealing with a lot of problems he can’t fix, what’s in store for Charlie, and how is he going to make this choice?
SS: There’s a lot of terrible choices Charlie is going to have to make, and a lot of terrible reflection he has to deal with. In issue #2 you start to see that he may have been responsible for some of this. Part of the mystery of the book is what happened, why are these wytches after him? Who pledged Sailor?
As soon as you start meeting people in town, you’ll start to wonder, part of the fun of the book is to trying to figure out who made them the target.
This is pure black psychological and emotional terror. This to me, is getting back to my roots, and where I’m most comfortable. I can’t watch anything where a kid is getting hurt upsets me too much, but I can write it all day.
Wytches #1 hits tomorrow from Image Comics.
In theaters and on VOD nationwide November 7th from IFC is Hanger 10, which we now have the first ever still from.
“Experience the horrifying new British sci-fi thriller from director Daniel Simpson, based on spine-chilling true events!
33 years after the infamous Rendlesham Forest UFO incident, three metal detector enthusiasts hunting for Saxon gold in the same region capture incredible footage of UFOs whilst filming their expedition. As night falls – and with their navigation equipment failing – the trio finds themselves facing a terrifying encounter with an unforgiving alien presence.”
Watch this spot for a trailer when is crash lands.
BREAKING: Days away from its season five premiere, AMC announced today that it has renewed “The Walking Dead,” the #1 show on television among adults 18-49 for the last two years and most highly-rated show in cable television history, for a sixth season.
The season five premiere is this Sunday, Oct. 12, at 9 p.m. ET/PT.
“We could not be more excited for October 12th as we share new episodes of ‘The Walking Dead’ with fans around the globe,” said AMC President Charlie Collier. “In advance of Sunday’s season five premiere, AMC proudly confirms a sixth season order of this extraordinary series. Thank you to Robert Kirkman, Scott Gimple, the terrific executive producers, and the entire team who brings this compelling world and these rich characters to life. There’s plenty more Dead ahead thanks to their impressive, collective effort.”
Social media activity and interest around “The Walking Dead” is up significantly from the same period a year ago. For several weeks leading up to the season five premiere, the show has been #1 in digital engagement of all returning fall cable series, as measured by the ListenFirst Digital Audience Rating. The show’s social media following and fan engagement are at an all-time high with more than 30 million Facebook fans and 2.7 million Twitter followers, while video views of scenes and trailers for the upcoming season are well outpacing last year’s results.
For season six, Scott M. Gimple will return as the series’ showrunner and executive producer along with executive producers Robert Kirkman, Gale Anne Hurd, David Alpert, Greg Nicotero and Tom Luse. AMC also recently announced that it has ordered a pilot for a potential companion series to “The Walking Dead,” based on a new story and new characters from Robert Kirkman.
In this world, there are some films that can only be described as pretentious. You know the ones: the art-house films that try to be more than what they really are by appealing to a certain niche, but in reality are so full of themselves that they fool everyone (including the director and writer) into thinking that they should be shown in film schools for all eternity. And yes, I’ve seen more than a few of these films. I’m not one to rant about them, but needless to say, some art films rub me the wrong way. So when writer/director Shane Ryan’s My Name Is ‘A’ By Anonymous showed up on my doorstep, I was a little apprehensive about watching the film. But, having an open mind is kind of a requirement for this thing called reviewing, so I gave it a shot.
Loosely based on an actual murder case, we follow four girls, each with their own dark secrets. Alyssa (Katie Marsh) and her friend identified as “The Sidekick” (Demi Baumann), in between tormenting Alyssa’s younger brother, videotape themselves in angry teen moments, which include instances of self mutilation. “The Angst” (Alex Damiano) is a painfully skinny young woman struggling with the torture of bulimia. “The Performer” (Teona Dolniova) frequently confides to her camera phone of her aspirations to be a pop star, all the while suffering from bouts of self-harm and abuse from her father. This all culminates in the murder of Alyssa’s 9-year-old neighbour, Elizabeth (Kaliya Skye).
The film pulls very little when it comes to it’s realism. It’s very believable thanks to the cast. Being a low-budget affair doesn’t seem to be a problem, as for the most part the cast delivers their lines in a frank and genuine way. That’s only part of it, as the acting also feels natural. It makes you appreciate the performances more when you realize the gravity of the situations each character is in, and the subject matter. Abuse and mental illness aren’t feel-good topics, and this isn’t your typical Hollywood gussying up. From The Angst storing her vomit in jars, to the cutting of wrists while fantasizing of suicide, it’s very raw and not at all easy in numerous ways to realistically portray on camera.
Speaking of which, the camera work in My Name Is ‘A’ also helps to give the film a heavy does of realism. Making frequent use of handheld shots using smartphones and other cameras, as it’s primarily supposed to be one of the characters doing the filming, the shakiness of the image really at times helps convey the immediacy of each situation. Remember, these are basically teens just doing their thing, and so again, the rawness is very much there, just as you are very much there watching the events unfold.
As I mentioned, I’m not the biggest fan of art films. And while there was a lot to like about My Name Is ‘A’, there were moments where things dipped into the art-house realm which had me doing a few eyerolls. The music video-style interludes and the video diary vignettes started to aggravate. The same goes with the handheld shots. I understand the purpose, but moderation isn’t in the cards. It all just came across as a very disjointed slow burn (an understandably necessary slow burn for this film), and coupled with the subject matter, I just didn’t have the patience.
This is one of those weird situations. You acknowledge that there’s some truly great stuff involved in a film, but you didn’t like it in the traditional sense. And really, that’s what I have to say about My Name Is ‘A’. It’s not a horror film in the traditional sense, and it really is an art film. The acting and dialogue is very much real and integral, as is the look of the film. However, the subject matter will turn off folks, as well as the sad and harsh feel of the film. It’s beautiful, but at the same time hits every synapse in your brain with a “don’t watch” signal. Polarizing in every sense of the word, I’d recommend watching it for the realism and the non-traditional story, but everyone else will probably want to pass it by.
Shot using a variety of cameras and formats, the film is primarily framed in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. Colours are for the most part consistent across the various formats, though details can vary. There is some edge enhancement and chromatic aberration with some shots, though it’s not distracting. There’s no print damage to speak of (save for any post effects), and overall, the quality of the footage is consistent with the tone and the style of the film.
Like the video, the quality of audio varies. Presented in Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo, there are some scenes where the audio sounds tinny due to the source being a smartphone, while in other scenes it sounds much better. Dialogue is for the most part fairly clear, although there as moments where low-level speech makes it difficult to hear what’s being said. It doesn’t help that there aren’t any subtitles included. Again, the audio matches the tone and style Ryan was going for with the film.
Not content with having just one version of the film, we’re given two additional cuts of the film. The first one, The Columbine Effect, crunches My Name Is ‘A’ into a twenty-minute short film that contains the most effective scenes from the original cut. The second alternate, I Hate Me, Myself, And Us, clocks in at 57 minutes and is credited to the Katie Marsh’s character, Alyssa.
Following that are two more short films by Shane Ryan, Oni-Gokko and Isolation. Oni-Gokko is a 5-minute short in Japanese involving a girl tormented by her sister after a game of tag went seriously wrong. Isolation is a 2001 15-minute primarily black-and-white film that features Ryan drifting through a town after the murder of his girlfriend.
Also included are a deleted scene which has more of Teona Dolnikova singing, an alternate scene focusing on Teona Dolnikova, an alternate music scene that features scenes with Elizabeth from the beginning of the film with alternate music, a music video which features Teona Dolnikova once again singing while clips of the film are shown, a Teona Dolnikova Music Video Spotlight, and finally several trailers (including one for My Name Is ‘A’) for other releases by Wild Eye.
While the alternate cuts of the film make for interesting extras, it would’ve been nice to have had some input from Shane Ryan in the form of an interview or commentary. As it stands, the extras are more arty than informative. I know that’s probably what Ryan’s objective was, but even David Lynch explained his stuff.
Syfy has announced the pulpy adventure comic “Five Ghosts” is in development as a TV series to be produced by Universal Cable Productions, Black Mask Studios, and BenderSpink.
“Five Ghosts” is an ongoing comic book series created by writer Frank J. Barbiere and illustrator Chris Mooneyham. The tale of a 1930s-era treasure hunter possessed by five literary ghosts (Merlin, Robin Hood, Sherlock Holmes, Musashi, and Dracula), the comic was launched as a successfully self-published Kickstarter in April 2012, picked up by Image Comics at New York Comic Con in October 2012, and debuted in comic shops in March 2013 where it sold through multiple printings of its initial 5-issue mini-series.
The pilot is being written by Evan Daugherty (Snow White And The Huntsman, Divergent, TMNT) based on the critically acclaimed comic series by Frank J. Barbiere and Chris Mooneyham, about a 1930s era treasure hunter possessed by five literary ghosts (Merlin, Robin Hood, Sherlock Holmes, Musashi, and Dracula) whose unique abilities he can draw on during his adventures.
The series will be executive produced by BenderSpink and Black Mask. Black Mask’s Matt Pizzolo and Brett Gurewitz will co-executive produce with BenderSpink’s executive producers Chris Bender, Jake Weiner and producer Jake Wagner.
Milan Records has cryptically announced via Twitter that they will be releasing the soundtrack to the 2000 cult classic Battle Royale. The soundtrack, which was composed by Masamichi Amano, will be seeing a release in 2015. No other details have yet been released.
Milan Records is the company behind the Dexter soundtracks as well as several other TV shows and films, including Chronicle, Beneath, Dawn Of The Dead (2004), and more.
Head below for the trailer to the film.
We are seeing a #BattleRoyale vinyl release in our crystal ball for 2015…
— Milan Records (@MilanRecLabel) October 6, 2014
What percentage of the running time is scary? How much has exposition dump? How many people does Michael Myers – aka “The Shape” – slay?
All will be answered by heading over to The Dissolve where you’ll find a really cool article that breaks down all 10 Halloween movies, in charts and percentages!
Surprisingly, The Curse of Michael Myers has the most kills in it. Too bad the peeps behind the article seem to think Rob Zombie’s Halloween was inventive and cool. Naw.
Get more Halloween Treats here.
We just scored 4 clips from Universal Pictures’ Dracula Untold, the Gary Shore-directed version of Bram Stoker’s novella in theaters October 10, 2014.
The beginning of their new Universal Monster universe, these clips introduce the birth of Dracula, explain the mythology behind holm (silver is bad, guys), and show the full Matrix powers of Vlad.
In the film, “Luke Evans is starring as the most famous of vampires in an origin story that sees a Transylvanian prince risk eternal damnation in order to save his wife and son from a Turkish horde. Barks will play a figure in Eastern European folk tales known as a baba yaga, a beautiful young woman who turns into a savage witch. Kristjansson will play Bright Eyes, an Eastern European taken as a slave as a young boy and now a vicious assassin in the Ottoman Army. Parkinson will play Dracula’s son, named Ingeras.“
Starring Luke Evans, Sarah Gadon, Dominic Cooper, Zach McGowan, Samantha Barks, Thor Kristjansson and Art Parkinson, the film was shot in Belfast last year.
Warner Bros Home Entertainment released new information on their November 18 release of Steven Quale’s Into the Storm (read our review) on Blu-ray Combo Pack (Blu-ray/DVD/UltraViolet) and single disc DVD.
Explains DVD Active, the Blu-ray Combo Pack will include the following extras: Into the Storm: Tornado Files, Titus: The Ultimate Chasing Vehicle, and Fake Storms: Real Conditions. The single disc DVD will include: Fake Storms: Real Conditions.
“In the span of just a few hours, the city of Silverton is ravaged by an unprecedented onslaught of the most furious twisters they’ve ever seen. The entire town is at the mercy of the erratic and deadly cyclones, even as storm trackers predict the worst is yet to come. Most people seek shelter, while others run toward the vortex, testing how far a storm chaser will go for that once-in-a-lifetime shot.“
I’m really thrilled to bring you this premiere as I’m digging the hell out of Italian atmospheric metal band Nero Di Marte. Their ability to craft an oppressive, eerie mood is, in my opinion, heightened and not harmed by the inclusion of rage-fueled metal. “Dite” is a song that I can imagine being the soundtrack to the approach of Lovecraft-ian gods as they emerge from the sea and descend from the heavens.
“Dite” comes from the band’s upcoming album Derivae, the follow-up to their self-titled 2013 release, which received critical acclaim. Derivae comes out 10/27 (North America & UK/EU) and 11/1 (G/A/S). Pre-orders can be found here.
Three years in the making, “Derivae” was recorded, mixed and mastered using 100% analog and without use of any digital post-processing with Riccardo “Paso” Pasini at Studio73 (Ephel Duath, Void of Sleep).
Head below for this exclusive first listen!
Nov 07 Freakout Bologna, Italy
Keeping our annual Halloween Treat tradition alive, check out this stunning custom Trick ‘r Treat cake that was inspired by 2007 anthology’s favorite character, Sam.
The cake was red velvet with buttercream and was all edible (I’m looking at you Duff Goldman).
This week the 5th annual Mile High Horror Film Festival kicks off at the Alamo Drafthouse Littleton! It’s going to be four days of awesome genre films, special presentations, and parties, and my ass will be on the ground, reporting for Bloody Disgusting.
The festival runs Oct. 9-12. It all kicks off with “An Evening With Michael Berryman” and a special screening of Craven’s classic The Hills Have Eyes. After that there’s a big Halloween party with free beer, karaoke, performances by human oddity Enigma, and more hijinks.
The programming features a ton of this year’s festival hits, including Housebound, Late Phases, Der Samurai, and more. There’s also a ton of shorts and some kick ass special screenings:
Special presentations will include a 60th anniversary presentation of CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON in 3D with actress Julie Adams in person, a 40th anniversary presentation of THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE with the original ‘Leatherface,’ Gunnar Hansen in person, CANDYMAN with horror icon Tony Todd in person, and a 15-year anniversary reunion for THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT with directors Dan Myrick and Eduardo Sanchez in person!
For a full line-up, check out the Drafthouse website!
One special presentation I’m super excited about is a screening of Conrad Veidt’s 1924 film The Hands of Orlac, with a live original score by Paul Buscarello, a local composer who’s previously done a live score for The Phantom Carriage. I’ve never seen Orlac, so this screening sounds like a proper introduction.
Check back for my coverage of the 2014 Mile High Horror Film Festival!
PS: any BD readers in the Denver area have any suggestions for spots I should hit up in my down time? I’m a used book store junkie, so any tips on shops in the area would be much appreciated.
New York-based clothing company Supreme has released a preview of its Fall/Winter 2014 designs, which includes attire that uses the artwork of the late H.R. Giger, the man who brought horror the Xenomorph from the Alien series. The problem here is that the clothing looks awful and incredibly amateurish.
Look at the gallery below and tell me it doesn’t scream of uninspired desperation. Is it that Giger passed away earlier this year? Is it because of the new game, Alien: Isolation? Is it because Ridley Scott has rekindled the fires of Prometheus 2? Whatever the reason for releasing such dreck, you can rest assured that I’ll happily wait for something a bit more unique and visually arresting.
If I wanted to throw one of Giger’s pieces on a plain shirt as an ugly square, I’d go and make the shirt myself. What a disgrace.
Bloody-Disgusting has exclusively gotten word from Invada Records about the multiple vinyl variants for the Hannibal vinyl soundtracks. Both seasons are each receiving two volumes of music, for a total of four different LPs, and the variant colors are perfectly themed for the show and its content, including “Tannum Brown”, “Hemochrome Red”, “Travertine Grey”, and “Amarone Grape”, as well as standard black.
There will be 1,000 copies of each color, for a total of 2,000 of each LP in total.
Each double LP will be housed in a deluxe gatefold sleeve, and Director David Slade has provided rare photography from his personal collection for the artwork. Each LP will come with a download card.
An exact release date has not yet been set but it appears to be coming out just in time for the December holidays.
Head below for the exact details as well as samples of each volume.
Hannibal Original Television Music by Brian Reitzell
Season 1 – Volume 1 : Double LP – available on 2 colours
Hannibal Original Television Music by Brian Reitzell
Season 1 – Volume 2 : Double LP – available on 2 colours
Hannibal Original Television Music by Brian Reitzell
Season 2 – Volume 1 : Double LP – available on 2 colours
Hannibal Original Television Music by Brian Reitzell
Season 2 – Volume 2 : Double LP – available on 2 colours
Fans of the alt-rock group Angels And Airwaves should start celebrating as the band is gearing up for a December release of their new album The Dream Walker, the first album since 2011′s Love: Part Two. The group features Blink 182 guitarist/co-vocalist Tom DeLonge and drummer Ilan Rubin (Nine Inch Nails).
DeLonge tells Rolling Stone:
Lyrically, the song is about sleep paralysis. I think we needed something that would turn heads and ignite a fan base of post-hardcore punk-rock kids that might still be lingering there from my earlier years.
The Dream Walker will be the first album without producer/engineer Jeff Newell, who passed away New Year’s Eve 2011.
DeLonge goes deeper into the album, what kind of marketing plan its release will bring, and much more in his interview with Rolling Stone. Just click on the above link to read all about it.
Trailer breakdowns are usually something I reserve for games we don’t know much about, since we tend not to know too much about the game at that point. Dissecting a trailer to examine each individual frame can be a great — if a wee bit time-intensive — way to glean some information about an otherwise mysterious title. As we’re about to find out, it can also be a fantastic way to really look at a video, without slapping the pause button when we think we saw something new.
The Evil Within is a good example of this. The game releases next week, but there’s still a lot we don’t know about it, and specifically in regards to its cast of monsters.
We’ve been introduced to the main baddie, Ruvik, as well as the common enemies, called the Haunted. There’s also that big hammer-wielding dude with the safe on his head and Laura, the four-armed blood witch, among others. That’s only a small sampling of the nightmarish creatures Mikami and friends have waiting for us in The Evil Within, and by breaking apart its latest trailer, we can get a better look at a few of them.
But first, here’s that trailer again.
Below you’ll find a gallery of screenshots I took from it. I didn’t capture every interesting bit, as I was more focused on the myriad different monsters Bethesda’s marketing team managed to cram into its three and a half minute-long running time.
The Evil Within is slated to release on PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One on October 14.
Ever since Amnesia: The Dark Descent heralded an explosion of creepy, first-person horror adventure games back in 2009, the Steam market has been flooded with games from developers looking to take advantage of its success. Most fail to capture that magic — including the game’s sequel, Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs — while some attempts, like Outlast, have been far more successful. They often consist of a simple narrative, often told through collecting notes, and simple mechanics — no weapons or combat.
While a few developers have manage to find an audience for their games, a great many of the games in this popular new subgenre stumble when it comes to their narrative, atmosphere, or mechanics. The openness of the Steam Marketplace certainly doesn’t help, as it only enables more aspiring game makers to put in the minimum effort in order to make the next The Eight Pages.
It’s no one’s fault, really, but the deluge of too-similar-looking horror games shows that many indie devs don’t understand what it takes to make a “the next big hit.”
I was prepared to be disappointed in Doorways: The Underworld. The first two episodes were largely unremarkable, so reviewing the third and final chapter in this trilogy, which follows a private eye who’s tasked with tracking down a sadistic killer, didn’t immediately capture my interest.
The first two chapters weren’t aggressively bad; they just didn’t have much to offer the player or the genre. Collecting notes as an plot device has become trite, and puzzles that revolve around scouring every pixel of the environment to put together devices felt like work and wasn’t especially scary. The second chapter improved on the first, but it was still plagued by tedious puzzles.
As a follow-up to two moderately frustrating games, The Underworld is pleasantly surprising.
Not only does it fix some of the glaring issues that made the first two chapters a difficult slog, it introduces new features that improve on the atmosphere and gameplay. Though it now more closely resembles a few other benchmarks in the genre — most notably Outlast — it is a convincing testament to what the team at Saibot Studios is capable of.
In Doorways, players step into the shoes of Thomas Foster, tracking down a deranged and vicious killer through a series of abandoned, morbid-looking environments, just like before. The game begins in a labyrinthine underground dungeon, of sorts, with a series of lock-and-key puzzles preventing you from being able to proceed.
This is the predominant aspect of the series, and though I came in expecting the same monotonous trek through darkened hallways, I was happy to discover the puzzles less tedious and intentionally difficult, so the game seemed to move along at a more generous pace.
The element of the macabre scavenger hunt still exists, but they’re less challenging this time around now that the items are hidden in locations that actually fit their purpose. For example, in the first chapters, a brightly lit room may be bereft of any items, while the pitch black room next to it will have exactly what you need. No one wants to spend twenty minutes searching for the last item in a puzzle, only to find it in the corner of a room you thought you had searched a dozen times before.
Similarly, the puzzles are tiered in a way to boost the player’s sense of how to solve them, a total departure from the past. A more complex variation of an earlier puzzle may present itself later on, so the player has an idea of how to solve it, without the game doing all the work. This cohesion, puzzle-wise, makes Underworld feel more complete and satisfying experience.
Overall, Underworld looks better, and not just because of the textures. The overall level design is better, and the world is more populated with items, creating a more authentic space. Not only that, but each room or area appears to serve more of a purpose. There are fewer dead-end places that exist just because, and the game is far more effectively horrifying for it. For God’s sake, there’s even a map at one point.
In other words, in terms of how it’s been designed, Underworld is a significant improvement.
It seems like the team listened to criticisms of the first release and improved upon the design to make the game simpler, more straightforward, and dramatically more tense and frightening. Even though the same sort of item hunt exists, the team has employed some neat tricks in order to heighten tension.
Environments have an added threat — which I won’t spoil — that makes the game infinitely more unnerving. It isn’t just about walking around in the dark, collecting items, which was what scuttled the first two chapters. It doesn’t rely solely on dark rooms and jump scares for a horror effect, and the result is something that rivals other, similar entries into this particular subgenre.
Underworld doesn’t compare unfavorably to Outlast, at certain points, even if it is a much less high-profile release. Some of the gameplay elements, like the monster encounters, are much closer to that game than they are not, which is so bizarre considering how little like Outlast the first two chapters were.
While the first chapters were primarily about puzzle solving under the auspices of exploration, this game is really, truly a horror title first. The sense of space feels decidedly more authentic, and then on top of that is the layer of the outside threat, the monster. I don’t know if the team was simply trying something new this time around, but it definitely works a hell of a lot better.
There aren’t many monsters, but they make up for their lack of numbers by being vicious. I won’t talk in specifics, but the game approaches its scares from multiple different perspectives, and it’s really quite effective. There are chase sequences, jump scares, environmental scares, and just general dread. I’m not even a jump-and-shriek kind of person, but one moment in particular made me yelp louder than I have in a really long time.
There are some clunky elements to Underworld, but a great many of them (like the platforming) are holdovers from previous entries in the series. The biggest problem I had still relates to the tedium the game engenders with overlong puzzle sequences. The idea that solving the same kind of puzzle several times in a row is not appealing, especially when the game should be trimming the fat to make the climax more suspenseful.
It has a very strong second act, and though the third act puzzles are probably the most clever of the series, the back end suffers due to an uneven sense of pacing. It’s as though the three parts were completed separately and then spliced together to create a whole game.
Even worse, some of the design decisions actually feel like they are meant to prolong the experience rather than enhance it, which becomes very problematic. Sometimes the game mistakes tedium for tension, and that is a dramatic miscalculation as to why people play horror games.
Ultimately, I’m interested to see what this developer does next. Underworld is an interesting concept that could be expanded to continue the series or be rolled up into a much larger game. There are still some lacking elements, but this chapter of the game shows the series’ potential. The team learned to use the limited mechanics at their disposal to great effect, resulting in a game that delivers a steady stream of quality scares.
I may be awarding some bonus points here due to the comparison to the first two chapters, but the game I played this time around is way more interesting, tense, and game-like than the previous entries. If you’re looking for something to scratch the Outlast / Amnesia itch, then you won’t be disappointed with Doorways: Underworld
The Final Word: It’s clear developer Saibot learned a lot while making the first two episodes in this trilogy, and because of this, Doorways: The Underworld is far superior to its predecessors.
With its release rapidly approaching, Bethesda has released a brand new trailer for The Evil Within that focuses on its impressive array of twisted, freakish and otherwise monstrous-looking creatures. The basic baddies are known as the Haunted, and after seeing their glowing eyes, deformed bodies and creative use of spikes and barbed wire as fashion accessories, I think the name fits.
As fashion-forward as they may be, I’m very much looking forward to setting each and every one of them on fire when The Evil Within arrives next week.
The Evil Within is slated to release on PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One on October 14.
After coming to Steam Early Access last September, the indie multiplayer horror game Damned has finally reached a point where it’s ready for a full release. In it, a team of four survivors are pit against a player-controlled monster that’s tasked with hunting them throughout a procedurally generated environment. I still haven’t gotten around to playing it yet, but I’ve heard good things.
I may need to remedy that by including it among the 13 horror games we’ll be playing in our upcoming 13 Days of Horror series, which kicks off on October 19.
You can find Damned on Steam for $19.99, or you can grab a four-pack for $59.99.
After a painfully long wait, Alien: Isolation is less than a day away. Arguably one of the year’s most anticipated horror games, Alien: Isolation follows Amanda Ripley, Ellen Ripley’s daughter, as she finds herself being hunted by an especially nasty xenomorph — among a few other baddies. From what we’ve seen of it so far, the game looks sufficiently terrifying and entirely unlike the abysmal Aliens: Colonial Marines.
However, if you’re still on the fence about it, I’m currently hard at work on getting my review of it out as soon as I possibly can to help you decide if it’s worth your time.
Alien: Isolation hits PC, PS3, PS4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One on October 7.