Showing posts from March, 2011

Remembering the Lost Souls of Silent Hill: Shattered Memories

With all of the advancements in video game technology over the years, I'm still surprised over the lack of diversity in the area of horror gaming. Sure, I enjoy intense survival horror games, but the offerings of quality horror games outside of this particular format are pretty thin. In other words, compelling horror games that do NOT involve shooting hordes of monsters and instead focus on eerie settings, a creepy plot, and a mood of steadily building dread are far and few in between.

One of the shining examples of non-weapons-based horror gaming for the current generation of consoles is Silent Hill: Shattered Memories. Even though this game was released for the Wii in December 2009, I finally got around to finishing it. Even though I'm late in the game (no pun intended) when it comes to writing about this title, Shattered Memories impressed me in ways that few games do that I couldn't let this go by without posting a few observations about it (particularly from my backgro…

ASIMO, the Action Figure

By now, I'm used to seeing hyper-detailed, hyper-poseable (and often hyper-expensive) robot action figures--take the selection of anime robot figures offered by Revoltech, for example. However, this is the first time that I've seen a detailed and poseable figure based on a real robot.

The Japan Trend Shop has a 1/8 action figure based on Honda's ASIMO robot. The figure features two sets of palms and over fifteen points of articulation, so it can be posed in ways that match the real ASIMO. It's a very impressive replica of the real thing, and a worthy addition for anyone who's a fan of robots--both the real and the imagined varieties.

You can order your ASIMO figure from Japan Trend Shop here. If you order now, 5 percent of your payment will be donated to Red Cross and Médecins Sans Frontières to support their services for the survivors of Japan's recent earthquake and flooding. Even if you aren't interested in the ASIMO figure, the Japan Trend Shop has plenty…

Campy, Kooky Commercials Worth Watching: Man-Eating Focus Groups

I don't normally like to advertise more mainstream, non-geek-centric products on my blog, so consider this an advertisement of an advertisement: the Snickers Peanut Butter Squared Focus Group ad. Watch it here at YouTube.

Not only is this ad so delightfully morbid, but it's also a spot-on satire of focus groups and public relations. Never before has a seemingly innocuous phrase such as "Eat both squares please" taken on such hilariously sinister connotations. Kind of makes you wonder what the same focus group would say about Jaws and its sequels, doesn't it?

Five Fantastic Low-Budget Creature Features from the Modern CGI Era

Skyline is being released on DVD this week, at the same time as Battle: Los Angeles occupies space at your local multiplexes. The detail that connects these films is that both depict alien invaders kicking the crap out of Los Angeles; at one point, Sony even considered filing a lawsuit against the makers of Skyline for possible creative infringement. What sets the films apart, though, is their price: Battle: Los Angeles cost $100 million to make while Skyline only cost $11 million, equaling a cost difference of $89 million. Skyline isn't the best alien invasion movie ever made; I found it to be an average movie at best and it sort of reminded me of Target Earth, an alien invasion cheapie from 1954. Yet in spite of its middling script, Skyline's creature effects are as amazing as they are cost-effective. Besides, what's not to love about a race of alien invaders who insatiably crave human brains? Mmmm, brains....

In the modern era of CGI special effects and mega-budget creat…

The Blood-Stained Porcelains and Flesh-Covered Furniture of Jessica Harrison

When I think of mediums that are often used to depict gore, I think either in terms of materials used for movie special effects or for monster action figures and model kits. Of those materials, porcelain dolls and miniature furniture never crossed my mind ... until now.

Meet artist/sculptor Jessica Harrison. To say that Harrison's work is focused on the relationship between living bodies and inanimate objects, between the organic and inorganic, is putting it mildly. On the one hand, there are Harrison's porcelain figures, as they are described by Anne B. Kelly in a recent piece for the Huffington Post:

In the hands of Edinburgh-based artist and sculptor Jessica Harrison, maidens turn themselves inside-out, entrails spilling on porcelain petticoats. ... Her fancy figurine ladies-in-peril are reconstituted from found mass-produced porcelains, at once allowing the viewer both a sense familiarity of the precious and a tinge of hardcore gore. ... Her choice of the delicate female bod…

Helping Japan, Anime Geek Style

Even though I don't consider myself to be the most ardent fan of Japanese pop culture, I clearly understand and am very grateful for the influence Japan has had on my appreciation of horror, sci-fi and fantasy entertainment. Thus, it would be remiss of me to not use my blog to help Japan in some way to recover from its recent disasters. Here are a few things you can do to help:

While I'm a bit late in promoting this, We Heart Japan is holding a charity art event at Meltdown Comics in Los Angeles, CA tonight from 8 to 11 p.m. Various anime artists and voice actors will be in attendance, and 100% of the proceeds will benefit Japanese earthquake victims through the Japan NGO Earthquake Relief and Recovery Fund. Click here for more details.If you miss tonight's event, don't worry. The One Piece Podcast will be holding a 24 hour marathon podcast this weekend to raise money for victims of the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan. Click here for more details about the maratho…

The Super Rabies Outbreak Continues in Quarantine 2: Terminal

I heard a few days ago that the teaser trailer for Quarantine 2: Terminal has hit the Internet. You can watch a high definition version of it here.

As the subtitle suggests, Terminal takes place in an airport terminal where an outbreak occurs of the mysterious virus from the first film. Unlike Quarantine, the sequel appears to have ditched the shaky, "found footage" style of storytelling in exchange for more traditional cinematography. Whether this will work to the sequel's advantage remains to be seen.

For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, the first Quarantine is the 2008 remake of 2007's [REC], a hit horror film from Spain. While Quarantine is very faithful to [REC] in terms of plot and execution, there is a very significant difference in their endings--in fact, the places where Quarantine deviates from the original [REC] story can be traced to its different ending. I don't want to give too much away about either film, I will say this: Whi…

Spider-Man vs. The Unstoppable Broadway Disaster

As a long-time Spider-Man fan, I've been doing everything possible to avoid gawking at the press coverage of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, the never-ending train wreck that's supposed to be a musical about Spidey. Ryan Dixon, co-author of Hell House: The Awakening and regular contributor to the Fierce and Nerdy blog, recently posted a detailed analysis of why this production keeps going in spite of the fact that this production is doomed no matter what. It's a good read, and it makes many insightful points about live musical theater and why colossal Broadway flops are successes in their own bizarro-esque way.

Curiously, Turn Off the Dark isn't the first Spider-Man musical. There was another one back in 1999, Spider-Man On Stage, which was performed in the U.K. (This show is mentioned in the book Marvel: The Characters and Their Universe with a handful of glossy, full-color pictures of the production.) Sure, it wasn't a blockbuster hit and it didn't produce any …

Ghostfaces Gone Wild: A Second Look at the Scream Trilogy

In honor of the upcoming release of Scream 4, I decided to revisit the original Scream trilogy to get ready for what Wes Craven and company have in store for us next month. I've always thought that the Scream films were smarter than most horror films (and most other films in general). Still, it had been a while since I saw all three films, so I dusted off my Scream DVD box set to re-examine this trilogy as one continuous story (as opposed to three separate film releases separated by months and years). While I was watching these movies, I saw details that I hadn't noticed before, details that will probably ensure this franchise's appeal in the years and decades to come. Read on to see what I found that makes Scream a durable franchise and what we can expect in Scream 4.

Warning: This post is written with the understanding that the reader is familiar with the Scream franchise and it goes into spoiler-heavy details about each film. Thus, if you want to read this post but have…

Dr. Herbert West's Sing-Along Stage Show

In the grand scheme of the arts, I've always suspected that there was an unspoken affinity between the absurdly excessive blood splatter in gory horror films and the absurdly excessive spontaneity of song and dance in musicals. Judging from what noted horror film director Stuart Gordon has been doing these days, I'm obviously not alone.

Gordon is currently helming Re-Animator: The Musical, a musical stage show based on his own classic 1985 zombie film, which was in turn based on a short story by horror master H.P. Lovecraft. It's currently playing at the Steve Allen Theater in Hollywood, CA, and the production will run until March 27. If the reviews at sites such as Shock Till You Drop, CHUD and Daily Trojan are any indication, this show is a must-see if you're in the area and love tuneful, off-kilter theatrics. It's got a "splatter zone" where the audience is most likely to get hit by fake blood and other wet, squishy debris, and it's also got George …

NECA's Big, Bad Predator Jamboree at Toy Fair 2011

You'd think that a blog with the word "Toys" in the title would at least have some coverage of Toy Fair 2011, which was held last month in New York, wouldn't you? Sadly, I have not been able to cover this geek-friendly event largely because 1.) I couldn't make it to the event itself and 2.) even if I did, my brain would've probably melted like butter while in the presence of such an overwhelming selection of truly awesome stuff.

Nevertheless, as I was wading through the mountains of Toy Fair 2011 coverage for something specific at which to gawk, I found myself looking at the upcoming releases from one of my personal favorites, NECA, and their line of Predator figures. Not only is NECA adding a multi-jointed figure of the Predator hound to their 7 inch line of figures from Predators, but they are also releasing jumbo "1/4 scale" figures of the creatures from Predator and Predator 2. Of course, NECA is providing 1/4 scale figures for other licenses, su…

Jaws: Memories From Martha's Vineyard is Now Available for Pre-Order

Attention Jaws fans, for this is your lucky weekend--Jaws: Memories From Martha's Vineyard is now available for pre-order.

Jaws: Memories From Martha's Vineyard is a 296 page book by Matt Taylor, with over one-thousand never-before-seen photographs compiled by Taylor and Jim Beller. This book takes a very ambitious approach to examining the production of Jaws, from the perspectives of both the Hollywood professionals who initiated and oversaw the production and the local cast and crew members from New England who had their own unique behind-the-scenes experiences in helping to bring this classic film to life. With such an ambitious range of sources at its disposal, Memories From Martha's Vineyard will do for Jaws what J.W. Rinzler's recent retrospectivebooks have been doing for the original Star Wars trilogy.

You can pre-order your copy here at the book's official site, which also features some preview pages taken directly from the book. Jaws: Memories From Martha…

A Preview Trailer for Tron Uprising has Arrived!

I'm not sure where it came from, but it just showed up on the Internet this week: a preview trailer for the upcoming Tron Uprising TV series. Click here to watch the trailer on YouTube.

I haven't heard much else about the Uprising, except that it will begin with a 10 episode "micro-series" this fall, followed by a regular TV series in the summer of 2012. Judging from the trailer, the animation style will be part hand-drawn and part CGI (as opposed to Star Wars: Clone Wars, which is completely CGI) and, if it maintains the level of quality shown in the trailer, it should keep Tron fans amazed for quite some time. The voice cast also looks to be impressive, which includes Elijah Wood, Lance Henriksen, Mandy Moore, Paul Reubens and Bruce Boxleitner, who is reprising his role again as Tron.

From what I've heard, Uprising will take place between Clu 2.0's overthrow of Kevin Flynn and Sam Flynn's arrival in the grid world in Tron Legacy. The main character in Upr…

Five Favorite 80s Arcade Classics That Arrived in Rural U.S.A.

In the time that I've been watching the video game industry, I'd be hard pressed to find a better time for the industry than right now. People can play video games either at home on their PCs or their game consoles, or they can play them on the go on hand held game systems, laptops, cell phones, or other portable media devices that are arriving on the market regularly. Then again, there's also the Internet, which hosts a wide variety of video games of its own and allows for vast multi-player experiences that were previously impossible.

Yet there was a time when the only places where people could see what video games could really do were the video game arcades, which were filled with vending machine-sized video game cabinets. Sure, the home consoles and PCs of that era did what they could to emulate the arcade experience, but it was at the arcades where video game companies could amaze the general public with the latest advancements in graphics and game play, all for 25 cent…

Local Movie Maker Merits Award at Film and Video Competition

It's always nice to see a local budding movie maker win an award in his area of fan devotion. Barry Worthington recently received an award of merit for artistic and technical expertise from Accolade, a film, television, new media and videography competition based in San Diego. Worthington is a native of Gaithersburg, MD, which is right in my figurative backyard; the award he won was for River Haven, a 15 minute science fiction/horror short.

Worthington's other short films include Funkalicious and Advanced. (Covingway Enterprises, the fictitious company which appears in River Haven, also plays a role in Advanced; I suppose Covingway is the Weyland-Yutani Corporation of the Advanced/River Haven universe.) Worthington and his company Limitless Films are currently working on Kin, a crime drama.

Click here to watch River Haven, Advanced, and some of his other films on YouTube. Click here to read more about Worthington and his work in an article by the Gaithersburg Gazette, and click