Showing posts from May, 2013

Human Sacrifice, Spirit Photography and a Cursed Village Haunt Nintendo Wii's Project Zero II: Crimson Butterfly

Two people who are lost in the woods find themselves in a strange village that vanished a long time ago under mysterious circumstances. No, it's not Brigadoon--it's the Nintendo Wii edition of Tecmo's Project Zero 2: Crimson Butterfly (a.k.a. Fatal Frame 2).

Project Zero 2 was one of the last major releases for the Wii, but it was only sold in Europe and Japan in June 2012. I was able to purchase a copy of the European version at a reasonable price through eBay, and then I played it on my Wii console through the region-free Gecko OS application that I downloaded for free from the Homebrew Channel. This might sound like a lot of effort just to play a video game, but I'm glad I did it. Even though it arrived late in the Wii's release schedule, Project Zero 2 is one of the best horror games available for that console. Read on for my complete review.

Avengers Assemble Arrives on Disney XD

Last weekend saw the debut of Avengers Assemble on Disney XD, with a two-part pilot episode. This is the second Avengers cartoon to air on Disney XD, the other one being The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes that ran for two seasons. So how does the new Avengers series hold up? It's too soon to tell about Assemble's overall quality as a series, but here are some initial thoughts about the pilot episode and some speculation about where the cartoon might go in the future.

The Good: Regardless of whatever else I thought about the pilot, it's nice to see the Avengers back on TV. Other superhero teams have made repeated appearances on TV throughout the years (particularly the Justice League and the X-Men), so I'm glad that Marvel's team of A-list superheroes is getting a second chance.

The Bad: The two-part Assemble pilot is a jumbled mess. It features not just one but two attacks by the Red Skull against the Avengers: first, he kidnaps Captain America in an attemp…

Remembering Return of the Jedi

This last weekend marked the 30th anniversary of the theatrical release of Star Wars: Return of the Jedi, which was released on May 25, 1983. Being a life-long Star Wars fan, it would be wrong for me not to do some kind of retrospective about this moment in modern geek history.

At the time of its release, Return of the Jedi marked the end of an era for me. Star Wars wasn’t just my gateway drug into all things geeky; it was a rehab-worthy addiction that began with Star Wars in 1977 and ended in 1983 with Jedi. That’s six years of toys, books, comics, posters, bubblegum cards, board games, magazines, t-shirts, Underoos, pajamas, bed sheet sets, window curtains, towels, wallpaper, drinking glasses, vinyl records, and dozens of other licensed items that I cannot recall at the moment. That list doesn’t include the release of Empire Strikes Back in 1980 and the subsequent theatrical re-releases of both Star Wars and Empire before the arrival of Jedi; each of these trips to the movie theater…

Nerd Rant: Is it the Beginning of the End for Home Video Game Consoles?

While I consider myself to be a gamer, I only play video games that fit within my disposable income budget, a budget that has been quite modest as of late. Thus, I have only been gaming within my financial means, playing discount or used games on a Nintendo Wii console that I bought a few years ago and playing older games on my PC. I've tried to play newer PC games, but my computer has an integrated graphics card that causes newer games to stutter; thus, I can’t play new PC titles until I can afford a new PC, and that won’t be for a while.

With my current financial limitations, I can only watch what’s currently happening in the video game industry from the sidelines. Nintendo’s latest system, the Wii U, isn't selling nearly as well as its predecessor, and the upcoming next generation consoles from Sony and Microsoft are causing concern among the gaming community due to their new restrictive features. For example, Microsoft’s upcoming Xbox One will require an Internet connectio…

Star Trek Boldly Goes Where Its Merchandising and Licensing Rights Say It Can Go

Star Trek 2.1: The Wrath of CumberKhan

I've been a Star Trek fan for a significant portion of my life-spanning geekhood, although my overall enthusiasm for the franchise has waned considerably during the last decade. It's not that Star Trek is a bad franchise as a whole; I just think that its potential has been squandered time and time again due to the absence of a strong, central leadership figure at the helm to guide the franchise through its various incarnations and effectively capitalize on its successes. As a result of this lack of leadership, Trek has been subject to Paramount's whims, which has largely resulted in competently made yet frequently bland Trek content and products. Whether it was using Trek to prop up a fledgling TV network (as was the case of Voyager and then Enterprise for Paramount's now-defunct UPN) or pushing one of the more successful Trek spinoffs onto the big screen just to makes some extra dollars (the underwhelming and uninspired Next Gener…

This Fall: He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Meet the Justice League

Summer is almost here, which means that superhero fans are going to be treated to all sorts of Marvel and DC goodies for the next few months. On the Marvel side, we already have Iron Man 3 in the theaters, which will be followed by The Wolverine in July and Thor: The Dark World in November. We'll also be getting two new Marvel cartoons on Disney XD--Avengers Assemble later this month and Hulk and Agents of S.M.A.S.H. in August--as well as the live-action Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. TV series debuting on ABC in the fall. Over at DC, we'll be getting the Man of Steel movie in June and the new Beware The Batman series on Cartoon Network in July. Also from DC is a crossover comic book miniseries that's scheduled for this fall, when the Justice League crosses paths with He-Man and the Masters of the Universe.

I'm not sure why DC is doing this, other than the ongoing nostalgic appeal of He-Man among people who grew up during the 80s and the fact that DC and Mattel, the company th…

Ray Harryhausen, 1920 - 2013

I heard this week that stop-motion effects legend Ray Harryhausen passed away at the age of 92. Geek sites of all stripes have been doing obit and retrospective pieces about Harryhausen and his astonishing legacy, so it's only fitting that I share a few thoughts of my own about this amazing monster maker.

I was first exposed to Harryhausen's work the same way I was first exposed to most classic fantasy, horror and sci-fi cinema: through syndicated TV, during weekend afternoon sessions of channel surfing. I initially didn't know who Harryhausen actually was, but I knew his work when I saw it. The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms, It Came from Beneath the Sea, Earth vs. the Flying Saucers, 20 Million Miles to Earth, Mysterious Island ... whenever these movies would air, I would tune in and gawk in amazement at Harryhausen's stop motion creations as they terrorized us feeble, fragile human beings. I couldn't have told you a thing back then about how he brought his creations t…

This Weekend: Blood at the Beach III Convention at Virginia Beach

For as much as I love horror, I don't get to nearly as many horror conventions as I'd like, especially ones that have creative, gory-sounding names. Yet if you live in the Virginia Beach area and have some time to kill this weekend, you might want to go to Blood at the Beach III, a horror convention that's being held at the Norfolk Hotel and Conference Center from May 10th to the 12th.

Its bikini-bloodbath name aside, Blood at the Beach III sounds like it will be a fun event with a great selection of guests, including a Friday the 13th Part VII: The New Blood cast reunion. The convention will even have an official "Virginia Beach Zombie Walk" this Friday evening as part of the festivities. Click here to go to the official site, which has more information about Blood at the Beach III.

I also wanted to mention that among the attending vendors will be our own sell-made monster maker Georgette Gaynor, who will be selling her creations at Blood at the Beach III. (Click

The Following Season One Review

It's over--for now. The Following, Fox's attempt at the kind of serialized horror that has proven to be successful on cable TV with shows such as Dexter, The Walking Dead and American Horror Story, wrapped up its first 15 episode season last Monday. I love horror, so I can't fault a major network for trying to bring new horror TV shows to prime time. However, after a strong start, a great cast and some intriguing ideas, The Following sputtered to the end of its initial run with a lot of sound and fury that signified very little. Read on for my complete review of this show's freshman season.