Saturday, April 30, 2016

Giallo Film: The Fifth Cord

Hey gang! Look, I really would love to hear your input on how the reviews are going. Again you can reach me at or leave a message on Rotten Reelz Reviews so I know I am actually tickling your funny bone and/or informing you on film, TV and games. Let me know if there are some specific titles you want me to look at.
I thought I would look at a Giallo movie today. For those that are unaware of this, a giallo movie is a murder mystery with a fair degree of gore inspired by yellow paperbacks translated for Italy the mystery novels of both British and American writers and primarily devised by director Mario Bava.

Today's giallo is straight up murder as a raspy, excited voice over anticipates murder. Deciding the pros and cons of weapons versus hands on and with such glee you think he was opening Christmas presents instead of arteries. This is The Fifth Cord.

What do you mean you cannot do Eggs Benedict??!!!

With a fish eye lens our killer speaks of stalking his prey at a New Year's get together with too much thrill in his voice. John Lubbock (Maurizio Bonuglia of The Troops Get Married, Ludwig, The Perfume of the Lady in Black and The Kiss of Death) was the killer's first victim but he bungles it and leaves him alive and by that I mean he survives the clumsy attack. Finding out this man injured but alive fellow partygoer and journalist Andrea Bild (Franco Nero of Django, Force 10 from Navarone, The Salamander, Enter the Ninja, The Last Days of Pompeii, Django Strikes Again, Die Hard 2: Die Harder and Django Unchained) decides he better investigate into this attack. A second attendee of the party a invalid doctor's wife Sophia (Rossella Falk of 8 1/2, Modesty Blaise, Black Belly of the Tarantula and Sleepless) is gacked rather easily in her own home and even Andrea's crotchety elder editor has been found dead in the park.

Ew, make out scenes with Edmund Purdom.


Both bodies leave a calling card, a black glove with each with a finger cut off. Next thing Andreas finds himself as a potential suspect being an often outspoken alcoholic, this lead police to start to put things into perspective. Who is next? Why is this happening? Will Andreas be convicted via lazy cops?

The atmosphere in the film drags us across many lives from what lurks behind closed doors to what is out in the open for all to see. It dares you to look away but has the feel of a crime caper rather than a typical gialli and even gives a strong role to a woman rather than treating her like eye candy or a prop to be moved from set to set. Helene played by Silvia Monti (The Brain, Blackie the Pirate, A Lizard in a Woman's Skin and While There's War There's Hope) brings a sharp mind, a cool head under pressure and insight to a grim scenario.

Our director Luigi Bazzoni (Pride and Vengeance, The Possessed, Footprints on the Moon and Blu Gang e visseror per sempre felici e ammazzati) brought his "A" game telling a dark and morbid tale along with acquiring the astounding cinematographer Vittorio Storaro (The Bird with the Crystal Plumage and Apocalypse Now) giving shape to blackmail, bizarre sex parties and astrology intertwined with a murder mystery. That being said, the gore fans will be a tad disappointed as the gore isn't shown in gushing fashion. This is rather stylish and while a bit restrained, this film is completely worth watching for its complex story and excellent characters. I still the ninja??

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Lucio Fulchi's The Black Cat

Hiya gang. Well we have viewed a few TV series and I was initially going to talk about DC Comics Legends of Tomorrow but... I wanted to watch a movie instead. Yup, no real rhyme or reason to the week. I just decided to switch gears. Today's review will be instead a Lucio Fulchi horror movie based on the writings of Edgar Allen Poe. No I am not going into great lengths who Edgar Allen Poe is. Read a book, short story or any of many biographies about the man. This story hails about a professor of the occult, psychology and parapsychology who feels to exact vengeance on those that had wrong him in the past and present. A plucky photographer feels there is more to than words.

This is The Black Cat.


We see a fisherman make his way to the car and drive through a village that looked like Notting Hill as he and the black cat make vicious eye contact, distracting said fisherman causing him to crash through his windscreen causing him to bleed out and his car to burst almost instantly in the flames. A clear factory recall. Yeah that is all in the first two minutes. Gotta say Fulchi never skimps on violence but right out of the gate seems to be his m.o. An elder gentleman sits in his study listening to recordings he has made conversing with the dead via electronic tape. The same black cat makes his way into his study, slashing the professor for not cleaning up his poops quick enough and saunters out.

Cut to young blonde photographer Jill (Mimsy Farmer of Body of Love, The Suspects, Autopsy, The Istambul Train and The Girl from Trieste) has traveled into an ancient dungeon to spy on the Crimson Executioner's former handy work, possibly an BDSM rave that when horribly wrong (the safety word was pickles) when a copper shoos her from the cemetery she was taken snapshots. After discovering a modern day adapter to a battery or recorder she is left with a bit of confusion. But enough of that, it's clearly time of teens played by twenty somethings to get freaky. Another trope of Fulchi is get the boobage in and out of the way. Our young stupid lovers sneak into a boat house that is SOUNDPROOF and AIR TIGHT. Things you do not associate with make out spots.

Um, are you giving me the creeper eye?

We bounce around back to the cemetery in the middle of the night as the prof doesn't seem to have any luck “talking to the dead” and just seems to be null and void with it. Meanwhile the teeny boppers are slowly suffocating in said boathouse with no one aware whatsoever. Scotland Yard is requested a detective Inspector Gorley (David Warbeck of Duck, You Sucker, The Beyond, Hunter of the Apocalypse, Fatal Frames, Pervirella and Razor Blade Smile) to assist in finding the teeny boppers.

Jill meets with Professor Miles (Patrick McGee of Marat/Sade, A Clockwork Orange, Barry Lyndon, Chariots of Fire, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Miss Osbourne and Play for Today) conversing over his chatter with the dead and yes I could see how the village thinks he is a complete nutter butter as he creepy eyes he delivering his dialogue. Telling her of his psychic abilities to interact with the dead then is trying to overtake her mind. Kinda of a jerk move and the cat didn't care for it, slashing him. Miles explains they need one another as they are bound by their anger. Sith lord stuff I am speculating.

The drunken Irish Groundskeeper NOT NAMED Willie claims Miles is a wackjob talking to headstones and being all creeper like. After an all day drinking binge (again remember he is Irish) he wanders back home when he is stalked by the black cat. The cat traps him in a hay loft taunting him with growls, slashing him and leaving him to fall on a pitchfork...the kind that apparently stands upright and can support a grown man's weight. Jill thinks something is amiss with Miles and his cat but only Gorley believes her.  Miles tells Jill with patented creeper eye that the cat is to blame for those youngins death in a methodical manner, carefully played to detail. The cat is more than appears and he is easily riled. 

Will Scotland Yard take action? Will it be public execution if they put him to sleep? Will they grace his grave with Greenies?

With the exception of Miles and the cat, there is no direct link to the film to the short story. This is a dark morbid tale with decent gore effects, creeper mood music and a good cast. Lot of patented eye zooms via Fulchi but ever since Zombi I am just expecting an eye gouge every time.

Does it look like the creeper eye??

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

TV series: Ash vs Evil Dead

Well here we are. Moving back into TV I came to the conclusion that a lot of what I view is very dramatic and less and less funny. How about a series involving deadites, possession, a book that resurrects the dead? Sound too bizarre or does it sound like a few movies prior? Well folks, this show involves the Chin himself. The master of B Movies and patented splatterstick (comedy horror violence with humorous content) as Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert.
This is Ash Vs Evil Dead.

Well, that was mind blowing.

30 years prior, stock boy of Value Mart, Ash Williams (Bruce Campbell of The Evil Dead, Evil Dead 2: Dead by Dawn, Army of Darkness, The Adventures of Brisco County Jr., Jack of All Trades, Spider-Man, Burn Notice and Burn Notice: The Fall of Sam Axe) went to a cabin in the woods with his friends when they discovered renowned Professor Knowby's reel to reel recorder of notes, an ancient dagger carved of bone and steel and the book, Necronomicon ex Mortis. Bound in human flesh and inked in human blood, the book contained ancient burial rites, incantations and demon summoning. It was never meant the land of the living. The book awoke primeval forces in the woods, demons taking over human beings and the only way to stop them is through the act of body dismemberment.

The Classic!!!

Burying the remains of his friends, girlfriend and sister, Ash put this insanity all behind him but he kept the book. Life is rough for Ash living in a crappy trailer and chasing after various women and hitting bars left and right he takes a girl (Marissa Stott of Blood Crime, Orphans and Angels, Shortland Street and Power Rangers Megaforce) back his place, they blaze up some wacky tabaccy and proceed to read passages from the book releasing the evil again. With the evil back, Ash decides to get the hell out of dodge when his work partner Pablo (Ray Santiago of Girlfight, Raising Hope, Touch, Sex Ed and Trash Fire) tells him that whenever evil comes there is always a chosen one to battle it. Ash reluctant to his calling decides to hit on the new girl at work, Kelly (Dana DeLorenzo of Peep Show, A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas, Eagleheart, Californication, Impress Me and Driving Arizona) when a storm of darkness start swirling around, taking over susceptible souls making them meat puppets of evil to lash out at Ash. Pablo and Kelly get caught up in the middle of this mess as Ash breaks out the boomstick and chainsaw.

Two other souls grabbed up in the lunacy, Special Agent Amanda Fisher (Jill Marie Jones of Girlfriends, The Perfect Holiday, The Longshots and Drool) loses her partner in a deadite shooting and Professor Ruby Knowby (Lucy Lawless of Xena: Warrior Princess, Bedtime Stories, Spider-Man, EuroTrip, Battlestar Galactica, Spartacus: Gods of the Arena, Spartacus: War of the Damned and Parks and Recreation) looking for the man she believes slaughtered her mother, father and sister.

Can Ash send back the evil? Should the book be destroyed? How many crackers will be possessed??

My only issue is a production argument over the Army of Darkness production issues. Renaissance Pictures may have created Medieval Dead or Army of Darkness' rights are owned by Universal Studios and rather than accommodate an understanding they decided to be total wankers. Barring Starz from making any references of Army of Darkness, Ash does get a robotic hand rather than a medieval gauntlet with gears, alloys and molecular stuff. They also establish their big stink on if the show did any Evil Ash but (LOOPHOLE!!) that reference falls back to Evil Dead 2 so tough noogies, Universal.

So if you loved the originals for its goofing and gore gags, then you will love Ash vs Evil Dead as they stick to the same medium of his cheeseball lines, hitting on young women and violence against the deadites. Groovy.

We'll swallow your soul... as get through your screen.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Daredevil: Season 2

Hiya gang. Well I have been back to TV and thought now would be a good time to clue you in some shows that are sweeping the internet and TV. Netflix and Hulu both have been jumping on this bandwagon of the binge watchers that enjoy these series from their Smart TVs, Tablets, Laptops and personal computers. That being said, I covered 4 episodes individually of Season 1 of Daredevil, the story of Matt Murdock, a lawyer by day and a crime-fighter by night. With the intense performances of the cast fleshing out these characters to the like I did not think possible in a TV series and I thinking there is no way they can keep that intensity for the next chapter... or can they? This is Daredevil Season 2.


Wilson Fisk, the Kingpin (Vincent D' Onofrio of Full Metal Jacket, JFK, Men in Black, The Thirteenth Floor, The Cell, Law & Order: Criminal Intent,The Narrows and Jurassic World) is in the big house, the hoosegow, the slammer and now there is a huge void in the criminal structure. Nelson & Murdock still enjoying some of the limelight of his capture are not making an exorbitant amount of money amongst their Hell's Kitchen neighbors but they are doing their best to stay afloat when a client comes in with a wild tale. The Irish mob took a huge hit on their organization when a lone gunman the media dub the Punisher (Jon Bernathal of CSI: Miami, The Class, The Air I Breathe, Day Zero, Eastwick, The Walking Dead and Justice League vs. Teen Titans) wasted them with superior firepower and special forces training. Trying their level best to protect their client from the cops and the Punisher, Matt dons his new persona from the Devil of Hell's Kitchen as Daredevil (Charlie Cox of There Be Dragons, Boardwalk Empire, The Ordained, Hello Carter, The Theory of Everything and Daredevil) slugging it out with the scum of New York, trying to make some peace for those that can't always turn to the law. Matt tries to reach the Punisher a.k.a. Lieutenant Frank Castle of USMC Recon begging him to find another way to rid the streets of crime.

OMG...What are you wearing??!!!

John Q. Public is also voicing their opinions of the Punisher. Some are for him, others are against and the biggest issue is how Castle's trial is being handled. The D.A. Seems hell bent to burn him at the stake with no mention of the deaths of his wife and children during a major syndicate drug deal of more than 3 different factions that don't even get along but a new player in town called the Blacksmith. As if Murdock didn't have enough on his plate, an old flame name of Elektra (Elodie Yung of The Great Challenge, Fragile(s), The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, G. I. Joe: Retaliation, Still and Gods of Egypt) who informs him of an impending danger of the very sect of warriors and assassins he managed to irk when their representative Nobu (Peter Shinkoda of Paycheck, I, Robot, The Hole, Godzilla and Western Religon) was dispatched last season.

With gang violence out of control, a bloodthirsty vigilante blasting everything in sight and a elite guard of monsters on the rise, you would think Murdock would go take a vacation.  Will Frank live in prison? Can Murdock fight all the evil in front of him? Will the Kingpin rule from big house?

The tension is ratcheted to 11 with the first three episodes alone. More character development with Foggy and Karen. Karen is starting to fall for Matt who cannot give her a normal life because it really isn't fair to the girl you are dating to make mad, passionate love and then an hour later go out and beat up bad guys. Jon Bernathal is the fourth man to play the Punisher but unlike the guys prior who only could invoke sadness in a few flashbacks or pure rage, Jon gets to show a human side to Frank Castle in the likes the films could never have the time or really inclination to do so. The Punisher must always be whacking wiseguys like he has a hunting license, but this was moving.

Give it a view, folks and definitely see the first season prior if you haven't already.

No, I am not Batman.  That's Affleck.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Blade: The Animated Series.

Sorry for the delay with this review, folks. Off day when you haven't slept in 30 hours. Insomnia is not for the faint of heart or mind. Today I wanted to gander at an interesting trend. Marvel's Anime project was to give more of an adult theme to the series as violence cannot be shown on cartoons to the magnitude it can in anime. Part of a four anime shows set in Asia in the southeast this projects include: X-Men, Wolverine and Iron Man. This is Blade.

Hey, that's not Wesley Snipes!

The daywalker himself resembles in both story, comic and even film and TV Erik Brooks a.k.a. Blade the damphir was created after his mother was attacked by Deacon Frost, giving Blade (voice actor Harold Perrineau of Romeo + Juilet, Lost, 28 Weeks Later and Zero Dark Thirty) superhuman reflexes, speed and strength to match that of a vampire and none of their weaknesses...except the thirst for blood. Operating out of Asia, Blade searches for Deacon Frost to repay him for all the kindness Frost has shown his mother and he. Probably a full tang titanium disemboweling or beheading would be my guess.

In his search, he comes across a hit going down by a collective of vampire hunters taking out baddie at a night club (Yes, the cliche' nightclub scene) when the young girl Motoko (Kim Mai Guest of TMNT, Dead Rising, Dead Island and Dead Island Riptide) loses her father and compatriots to the vamp bite. Blade dispatches Motoko's father to spare her doing it herself. The two have a love/hate relationship for the start of the series, Blade tries to remain cold and uncaring to spare himself the potential loss of yet another comrade.

Yup, the streetwalkers got really ugly.

We also meet another teacher in Blade's life as we are introduced to Noah Van Helsing (Troy Baker of Naruto: Shippuden, Batman: Arkham City, Saints Row: The Third, Prototype 2 and The Walking Dead: Survival Instinct) a bit warmer of a man than say Whistler was, his background is closer tied to the Tomb of Dracula comic series at it is he who took in Erik as a young boy. Consumed by his hatred of what the vampires did to him and his family, Noah also recognizes that Erik too, is a victim and hones the boy into a warrior.

Will Blade find Frost, dispatch him and get back to more vampire hunting? Will Motoko allow herself to care for the daywalker? Is there a happy ending for any of the mentioned?

This series rounds Blade out better rather than his stereotypical bad ass portrayal in the films. Similar to Sticky Jones' take on him in the TV series, Blade is shown to be a tragic character rather than this cold, killing machine. With the tattooed appearance, body armor and weapons of both TV and movie versions, Blade is equally driven to end vampires but it shows he has dimensions beyond that in letting Motoko travel with him. He sees her capabilities as a hunter but more than that, he sees another victim of vampires and offers tutelage. Interestingly enough several of the vampires species Blade encounters in this series are based on folklore of several Asian legends ranging from Japan to the Phillippines.

This succession of the character shows his accomplishments as a sword master, his appearance is similar to Sticky's bald edgy look and the depths of his power. So Blade fans I do recommend this one and hope you enjoy it as much as I did. FYI, there is a guest appearance of a popular X-men. No, I am not telling who. Go watch and find out.

Yeah he is that bad ass.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016


Back again kiddies! Yes I have actually been watching anime, a concept I thought not possible in this modern era of CGI overlapping, countless reboots and more inept rewrites than the mind can handle. With that in mind, today's anime is not a reboot, re-imagining or any such nonsense but a continuation from the film. Will it cut the mustard or will it be dry and less than appetizing?
This is Blood+

But, but I signed up for debate!

After the success of the 45 minute movie in 2001, it was contracted to for a 52 episode series offering more background to the series and addition characters expanding upon the original 6 part episode plan allowing the main story, subplots and secondary stories to unfold more naturally.

So forging ahead from last we saw Saya was 1966 in Yokota Air Base near Fussa, Tokyo, Japan during the Vietnam War. The Chiropterans (bat-like humanoids, demons or vampires) managed to infiltrate the air base with no one the wiser until Saya dispatched with ease until attending to their higher ups which took a toll on her mentally and physically. We cut to 2005 in Koza, Okinawa Island near the US Kadena Air Base, our otherwise moody and methodical killer schoolgirl is... attending classes, living with a family and worried about her high jump for championship matches?? Huh?  Saya has been living with an adopted family and seems to be suffering from anemia and amnesia at the same time. Having no knowledge of her skill set, fighting style or even her past, her adopted family treats her as they would their own daughter and sister.

You just know the fan fic makes us gay in this scene, right?

All seems well in Saya's life when she seems a mysterious cellist Haji, who she seems drawn to and yet could not explain why. No sooner than plot device of "Left my track shoes and clothes at the school," is unleashed the Chiropterans make an appearance, slaughtering the innocent and looking to do away with Saya.  Haji brings Saya's blade and her old instincts kick in, take over and kick serious ass in the process. Haji refers himself to Saya as her chevalier (Knight) who will selflessly deliver assistance to her in her battles against the Chiropterans and stay on helping her recover her lost memories.

Of course the black ops link to the CIA is still there, allowing her passage around the planet and the ability to operate with impunity of the laws of the land. How long has she been without memory? The seemingly innocent looking 17 year old as we know it was 17 in 1966 and 1892 so...has she been off the radar since the Vietnam War for 39 years, going from "family" to "family"? Has combined intelligence operations been searching for Saya this whole time? Who has hidden her in plain sight?

The Chiropterans have a standard manga/anime monster feel as they are hulking monstrosities with bulging eyes, enormous fangs and the cackling process of tormenting the protagonists. With the creators of Ghost in the Shell on the job, the stories blending with CGI almost seamlessly added to the hand drawn work it is amazing. This series will be on your shelf next to Evangelion, Cowboy Bebop, Naruto and Ruroni Kenshin. I hope you enjoy this series as much I am doing now.

Turn the other cheek, perhaps?

Monday, April 18, 2016

Butt Hurt Hollywood.

So folks are extremely butt hurt over Ghost in the Shell being our lead character of Motoko is going to Scarlett Johansson and I sympathize. Nothing against the actress in general. But she already is playing this uber badass character through Black Widow. Hey Marvel, where's the solo Black Widow movie? Maybe a pair-up with Hawkeye and Black Widow and two solo films there. Scarlett's body of work has managed drama, superhero flicks, romantic comedies and even some sci-fi films. Quite few points on Johansson, she is all of 5'3" does a great degree of her own stunts and has the star power to pull off Major Kusanagi.

Do I really look like the Black Widow?

That being said, taking Japan out of a Japanese product seems like a bad move, Hollywood. I understand the risk of doing a series not widely known to John Q. Public unless he is a Manga/Anime fan so I do get wanting a better known actress as an attention grabber but again this creation should stay with Japanese source material and hey nutty idea, maybe snag a few headshots for Asian actors and actresses. 

 Now I know the exact argument could be said about white characters in Marvel have become black is an issue but considering the majority of these characters are white since 1964 and frankly a little alteration isn't a bad thing.  No I did not lose my mind after Idris Elba was made Heimdall because again not a huge ordeal.   Samuel L Jackson isn't white, brunette and gray in his hair.  So what?   Psst, white folk.  It's not the 1930s so accept that characters can swap sexes and skin tones so long as the region makes sense.   The backbone of this story is centrally located in Japan and it would make sense using those locations, people and background for the film.

The biggest complaint among the guys is there are " No big titted Japanese girls to play this role." Fellas fellas let us not be too sexist piggies here. A simple bodice gives the illusion of a stacked girl. Chiaki Kuriyama (Gogo from Kill Bill 1) and Eihi Shiina from Audition and Tokyo Gore Police are but two Japanese young women that could pull of the physicality of the character as well as the look.

Besides we can cast beyond Japanese to find a girl that fits the look of Motoko easily. Given her wirework, choreography and swordplay in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Hero and House of Flying Daggers Ziyi Zhang could take a shot at the role and she is Chinese. Hell I would love to see Ji-hyun Jun from the live action Blood: The Last Vampire also audition for this role and she hails from South Korea. Need something more current? Pacific Rim's Rinko Kikuchi, an actress that has done live action adaptations of anime as well as been a voice actor for anime.

I just think Hollywood needs a slap in the face, needing to wake up and realize that not every fricking superhero, sci-fi and horror fan is WHITE. No white power, Hollywood. That's bad touch. Do your damn homework, Hollywood. Inspire future writers, astonish the viewers and set the bar high for new productions. 

Hey kids, don't I look a bit like Dolph Lundgren? 

Missing in Anime: Hellsing

Well hello all and welcome to the beginning of the week. I noted I haven't had much anime in some time. Worry not. Already had the 50 lashes implemented. This time around I knew we have a series that paramilitary units dealing with legions of the undead under the Hellsing Organization, yes after the infamous doctor/vampire hunter. With that in mind, there always needs to be an ace up one's sleeve. This is Hellsing.

Best dressed psycho 50 years running.

Based on Kouta Hirano's manga (Angel Dust, Crossfire, Drifters, Deep, Gun Mania, Magic School and The Legends of Vampire Hunter) our series was first broadcast via Fuji TV in 2001 and 2002 then later released in the US in 2003 and finished 13 episodes long. The head of the Hellsing family, a noblewoman Sir Integra Hellsion inherited her position when her father died while she was thirteen. With links of MI5, the royals and even the Catholic Church, Hellsing is aware of too many things of politics and evils.

A competing organization known as the The Iscariot Organization (named after the apostle Judas Iscariot) does not view the Hellsing Organization a valid calling given they are Protestant faith and have been known to associate with vampires willing to stave off their own execution by assisting in taking out their own brethren are natural rivals. Their goals similar courses and even worked together depending on the case by case standing but this wing of the Vatican is charged with the pursuit and elimination of all that is deemed unholy and unnatural... start with the pedophiles there, fellas.

Rat race even catches up with the monsters.

A true trump card of Hellsing's is Alucard, an ancient vampire that Integra has at her disposal as well as a former member the the D11 elite police response unit, Seras Victoria, a fledgling vampire who is subordinate to Alucard. Armed with mystical powers, vampiric abilities and a .50 caliber semiautomatic and even a .454 semiautomatic (twice the stopping power of a .44), our vampire dons a garish red suit, white gloves, shades and inverness coat. With his wicked and sadistic nature he slaughters vampires and other such supernatural creatures for his amusements, bidding his time and living it up. Seras Victoria struggles with losing her humanity, the distain D-11 has for her and her new life as a vampire.

What appeared to be utter chaos actually starts show signs of slight of hand if you will, a power behind the power keeping the D-11, Helling and Iscariot organizations busy busy so evil can make a subtle move about. Can anything be done about it? What is the ancient evil? Will good prevail?

A darker organization known as Millennium has ties to the Nazi party creating vampires through artificial means, airships and advanced firearms. Before the final days of the war, Hitler created order 666 (yup insert Iron Maiden jokes) putting funds and research into supernatural for military purposes.

With all these watchdog enforcement or administrations, it makes you wonder who do these watchmen report to? A gothic tale with modern and classic views on monsters and how humanity can fight against it.

Ah...this could go better.

Friday, April 15, 2016

Left 4 Dead

Well I am back with a game from 2008. A decent year for a few impressive titles. Metal Slug 3, Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Assassin's Creed: Altair's Chronicles, Devil May Cry 4, Silent Hill: Origins and Grand Theft Auto 4. Released in November 17, 2008 bring a co-op first-person shooter developed by Valve Corporation. Following a full on apocalyptic pandemic, four survivors against a scourge of the infected dead. This is Left 4 Dead.

Eh, screw this.  Let's get a beer.

With an outbreak of "Green Flu" in Pennsylvania creating aggression, destruction of the body's cells and the depletion of higher brain function. Two weeks after the first case, four survivors seem to be immune to it being our protagonists. Bill Overbeck, a Vietnam vet, Zoey, a college student, Louis, an IT guy and Francis, a bike gang member...cause nothing says bad ass like the name Francis.

Each character makes his or her way into Fairfield only to find the infection has spread creating bizarre and horribly warped mutations roaming the streets. Hordes of the undead are out and about quite out of their minds. Making one's way to the Mercy Hospital's helipad you narrowly escape on the passing copter only to find your pilot is also infected.

Hmm, this might be a bad idea but...

Surviving the crash you find a slightly battered light armored truck to maneuver through the town of Riverside until the road is clearly blocked, forcing the team to hoof it on foot. With travel problems tended to via small fishing boat they make their way to Newburg to only see the city gone mad and on fire.

Let's talk game play over all. Now I played this on the computer so no idea how it handles on Xbox, Now you assume one of the four survivors and can manage additional players but it can also be played by AI. This game works mostly on teamwork and has more realistic physics but each teammates are visible through the walls and buildings allowing players to stick together and coordinate their movement and attacks. A survivor falls off a ledge, the others can pull them up. A survivor's health meter is empty they can be revived by another.

Firearm muzzle flashes are a bit blinding, melee attacks will bounce enemies back easily. Pistols, SMGs, shotguns, auto assault rifle and hunting rifles are easy enough to find but ammo is scarce with the exception of unlimited ammo for a semi-auto pistol at starting level. Melee attacks are better when the infected are no more than 3 at a time. The sound of gunfire attracts the infected and they do move quickly but zero tactics. High pitched noise attracts them fairly well so adding a beeping noise to a pipe bomb or car bomb ensures a decent body count.

There are five types of infected. The Boomer is a gas filled that can throw up some sort of bile to blind the survivors, attracting infected and explodes loudly spreading the bile in the nearby area. The plucking of a bass guitar hints a Boomer is around. The Hunter can leap and tear at his victim until he is either knocked off, killing his prey or is outright killed. They will emit a screech or roar when you are close by. A high pitched piano cue is your only signal followed by the low pitch snarls when you are in proximity. The Smoker is covered in boils and has six tongues to snag and drag a survivor to him. These things will attack head on, allow a scourge or horde to attack in waves or just leave your survivor suspended over a cliff or rooftop.

The Tank is a huge, built infected that can swipe wide and knock survivors off their feet. They can chuck rocks, knock over cars and other debris into the survivors. Cue by a loud orchestral score. The Witch is always a female infect with claws and starts crying to lure you in. You can avoid her usually but she is easily disturbed by light, loud noises and gunfire. An eerie choir tune plays when she is near.

Instead of the standard fixed spawn points for enemies the game has more roaming creatures as a direct attack and difficulty, the AI is referred as "The Director". It will place creatures and items in various places based on player's situations, status, skill set and locations. It also creating mood and tension with music cues, lighting and character confabing. With four game modes: Campaign, Versus, Survival and single-player. Campaign has up to four human controlled players attempting to make their way around crazed Pennsylvania attempting to get to safe houses and eventually to safety. Versus gives each team of 1 to 4 players to play either as survivor or infected and is point based giving points and bonus points based on health and health items in inventory. Survival consists of timed challenges against swarms of the infected must try to survive as long as possible. Single player is almost identical to Campaign but it can be played offline with the AI bots.

Fast paced, eerie lighting and sounds along with music cues offering a macabre vision of a world gone mad. I was stunned with how scary and fun this game is.


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy

Back again kiddies. I know you missed me. It's okay to admit it. So I think this week felt needed some more video games. Lego has been a staple in households for the last 30 years, and since 1997 64 video games Lego construction system have been released by Mindscape to later Giant Interactive Entertainment to show of Lego-themed video games. In 2006, bringing the original trilogy bringing an action-adventure platform and bringing a Lucasart/ Traveller's Tales Games hybrid that brought joy to many. This is Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy.

Oh dear, I am still overtly effeminate!

Based on the original story-line of the Star Wars series, this particular creation sold over 8.2 million copies since May 2009. Many of the critics love the game for its adorable or jocose appearance of beloved heroes and villains of this universe. 46 different characters from the films are available to play, some require play-throughs leading up to a total of 114 playables. The lack of difficulty is the biggest complaint for most critics with the platforms that Game Boy Advance, GameCube, Microsoft, Nintendo DS, Wii, PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable, Xbox and Xbox 360.

That's no's a spaceship you see.

The game plays various cut scenes retelling the movies without any dialogue, the player takes on the role of the films' characters each having specific weapons and abilities with single-player and multiplayer option. Third-person view giving puzzle genres and action-adventure allowing 20 bounty hunter missions allowing all the available characters. Power-ups are spread throughout all the levels of the game invulnerability, turbo speed and power attack damage, the power is limited so use it sparingly.

Most of the control allowing training in Wii with the Jedi Lunge, Jedi Slam, Force Throw and Force Push giving the Jedi moves to commit to memory. 2 bonus levels considering 5 levels in Episode IV, 5 levels in Episode V and 6 levels in Episodes VI. I am told there are additional mini-games in the portable game systems but I don't have any firsthand knowledge. With the standard slapstick routine giving a lot of tongue-in-cheek gags, this game gives any fan some fun takes on spaceship battles, lightsaber combat, blaster fights and typical sci-fi joy. It is not as hard to beat but I feel a sense of nostalgia for the series.

Hey, we got medals.  Suck it Chewie!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Batman: Arkham Asylum

Welcome back for the week! Well my fine collection of readers I decided we have not covered video games in far too long. TV and Movies come a tad bit more natural for me to go on and on about. Between loading screens, cut scenes of dialogue the modern day video game can drag on, make you loss interest and give off a story line that convoluted and boring. Many franchises have suffered thanks to rewriting and tinkering. The Resident Evil games were enjoyable up to the third one. Four and on has too many cooks in the kitchen spoiling the simple recipe. Thankfully that isn't always the case. British games developers Rocksteady Studios release of with a first-person shooter called Urban Chaos, a riot response squad dealing with an arsonist gang called the Burners, taking on paramedics, firefighters, civilians and the cops. This project brought them notoriety, some credibility and much needed revenue. Founded in 2004, Sefton Hill and Jamie Walker, the studio was scooped up by Time Warner to bring about a new look at the Dark Knight. This is Batman: Arkham Asylum.

Hiya kiddies.  Guess who's back??!!

Written by Paul Dini (Tiny Toons Adventures, Batman: The Animated Series, Superman: The Animated Series. The New Batman/Superman Adventures, Batman Beyond and Duck Dodgers) brings us the constant struggle between Batman and the Joker. Reprising their characters since Batman: The Animated Series is Kevin Conroy for Batman, Mark Hamill for the Joker and Arleen Sorkin as Harley Quinn. Our game operates as a third-person single-player action-adventure.

After the Joker attacks City Hall, Batman beats the crap out of him and drags him to Arkham Asylum, which is stocked with members of Joker's gang due to a fire at Blackgate Prison, Batman senses Joker's capture was far too easy and is not sure if there is something else going on decides to accompany Joker to lock up. Just before the ghost of Admiral Ackbar can warn anyone, the trap is sprung, Harley has taken over security and a bought guard kidnaps Commissioner Gordon. Joker points out there are bombs all over Gotham City ready to be detonated if anyone else tries to enter Gotham leaving Batman to handle this insanity all on his on.

Where does he get those wonderful toys?

With the captured Bane working alongside with doctor Penelope Young (Cree Summer of Inspector Gadget, A Different World, Tiny Toons Adventures, Atlantis: The Lost Empire, Moonbeam City, Dawn of the Croods and Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy) who has been working on Titan, a stronger formula of Venom to allow patients to recover quicker from strenuous therapies but unbeknownst to Young, the Joker has been secretly funding her with the idea f creating an army of super humans at his beck and call. With no sidekicks, Justice League or even help from the cops, Batman must face all his rogues gallery on his own.

A few words on gameplay. Now I was playing this on Xbox so bear with me. The game's graphics hails from NVIDIA's PhysX, a realtime physics engine allowing classic Newtonian physics.

A linear opening allows some tutorials of gadgets, fighting style and throwing weapons that can be programmed to attack from sonics and remote detonation. A Detective Vision- a visual that lets you pull up information, show objects like walls that can be destroyed, grates that can be removed, and a how many number of enemies in an area and their vitals. This mode is also used to find footprints, odors and even a puzzle solving capability. The combat designs allows Batman to anticipate criminal fighting given a control scheme to Batman's fighting style.

Aww Bats is rocking him to sleep.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Blade: The Series

Hiyas folks.  Back again and I sense you missed me.  I'm touched.  So we looked at current running series and today I thought I would feast my eyes on a series that was and could have been so much more.  Yes one of my favorites, the cancelled shows.  Truthfully I should have included it in the Season 1 week but alas I goofed.  So here it is, a brain child of David Goyer.  This is Blade: The Series.

Hell yes I am mugging for the camera.


 Based on writer Marv Wolfman's creation as far back as Tomb of Dracula comics , Blade has had three theatrical releases, a series of comics, an anime and finally a live-action TV adaptation.  But who could attempt to fill the shoes of Wesley Snipes' portrayal?  None other than rap star/actor Kirk "Sticky Fingaz" Jones (Clockers, Next Friday, Flight of the Phoenix, House of the Dead 2: Dead Aim, Over There, The Shield, Speed Demons and Blue Bloods) stalking the undead hiding in plain sight with their legion of vampires of pure blood and turned and their many human followers or familiars.  After the film Blade Trinity we see Blade NOT assisted by the Night Stalkers and apparently the virus Daystar did not wipe out all the vampires...just those lot in that particular town it would appear.   Of course that is never explained and this particular plot hole or plot chasm is brought us by David Goyer, writer of all three Blade films so, kudos there.  

No comrade, I cannot get that quality trenchcoat in Russia.

Assisting in his crusade against the vampires is his new weapon specialist, tech guru and resident smart ass Shen (Nelson Lee of The Warriors (video game), Cold Play, Ring of Death, Vacancy 2: The First Cut, About Cherry and I'm the Same) in which they rely on tech, street contacts and even an inside man until... lead vampire Marcus Van Sciver (Neil Jackson of Alexander, Quantum of Solace, Push, You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, Lightfields and House of Secrets) was trying to find out what the young man's end game was only to find that his loyalty is to Blade and has him killed looking like a drug addict getting off and case closed.  Of course you need a cop handling the case in your pocket and Detective Boone (Billy Mondy of The Dead Zone, I Spy, The Day the Earth Stood Still, Case 39, EDGE of War, Johnny Test and Supernoobs) fits the bill.  From his habits, easily swayed by money and the promise of being made of a vampire keeps him in check for the most part.  

Sadden by the news, Ma and her brother believe that boy Zack was a kid caught up in mischief but sister/Iraq war hero Krista (Jill Wagner of Shifted, Blade: The Series, Stargate: Atlantis, Splinter, Teen Wolf and Autumn Dreams) thinks otherwise and decides the cops aren't doing anything with her brother's death, plots to poke around and find out what bumps in the night.    She encounters Blade as well as several vampires when Blade tells her that her brother was working with him to bring down the House of Chthlon, a vampire designated clan or scourge.

When the two join forces, Krista is thrust into a world of darkness she had no idea existed and still uncertain where to go from here.   Will the House of Chthlon be brought crumbling down brick by brick?  Can Blade put the hurt on the lot of them?   Will the vampires finally bring down the daywalker that has haunted their nightmares so?


Well folks the skinny is due to the antiquated notion of Neilsen ratings, this show fell on its ass.  No fault to the writing, production and introduction to lesser known characters in Blade's world.   Showtime was developing a story arc that would have encompassed several characters of the existing title when Blade: Trinity was in post production but due to the lawsuit against New Line Cinema at the behest of Wesley Snipes, Showtime walked away.   The project was picked up later but Snipes declined to reprise his movie character.

So 12 episodes of plenty of sub stories, main plot and drive which ends on a cliff hanger that was never answered but many a fan speculated at.  So if you want to see the day walker hand out some ass wipings, break some bones and dust some vamps, you are in luck.   If you want to see how all these loose threads tie together...well you are boned.

The shades and the coat.  Gimme. Chop chop.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 2

How do gentle readers. We are back reviewing some popular TV series because... not really getting any feedback on what I am to be reviewing so here we are again. Well the fall came and dunking three multi-billion dollar flying aircraft carriers into the Potomac might have shaken the American people, its military and virtually every government on the planet's faith but the work must continue and resources are thin. Hydra funded by shell corporations, multi-conglomerates, satellite and probably even Cox Communications (They seem shady) posing towards world domination (So sorry Cobra, but you missed your window), who can stand up to these threats against the planet? Well I would say the Avengers but TV cannot afford those salaries. This is Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Season 2.

OoOoo...gang plank.

Special Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg of The Spanish Prisoner, Magnolia, State and Main, Iron Man, Thor, The Avengers, Ultimate Spider-Man, Lego Marvel's Avengers and Thrilling Adventure Hour Live) has been promoted to Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. (Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division....of course in the sixties it was known as Supreme Headquarters, International Espionage Law-Enforcement Division) which would seem like an worthwhile promotion except, Hydra (Ruthless terrorist organization determined to rule the world...wait that's Cobra. Meh.) took their losses in Captain America: The Winter Soldier but struck a hell of a blow to S.H.I.E.L.D.'s credibility and now the surviving members of S.H.I.E.L.D.must operate under the cover of the shadows with less freedom than they had, jurisdiction and manpower.

Remember, this is the Fuhrer's highest to the eugenics, werewolves and aliens..

With ops being ran through Agent May (Ming-An Wen of Street Fighter: The Movie, Spawn: The Animated Series, Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, Mulan, The Batman, SGU Stargate Universe, Eureka and April Rain) stepping up as second-in-command as well as CO for Agent Skye (Chloe Bennett of Nashville, The Birthday Boys, Tinker Bell and the Legend of the NeverBeast and Jake and the Never Land Pirates) they have their hands full fixing the mess Hydra created by released super powered beings, stolen tech ranging from extra-terrestrial and super genius level to ensuing mass hysteria. Armed with a handful of tech, contacts and more than a few good men and women, S.H.I.E.L.D. Tries to stay on top of things as best as possible. Dogged on their tails is Brigadier General Talbot (Adrian Pasdar of Near Dark, Top Gun, Lego Marvel Super Heroes, Burn Notice, Iron Man & Hulk: Heroes United, Ultimate Spider-Man and Marvel's Avengers Assemble) hell bent to put the whole crew behind bars for being associated however indirectly with Hydra and brought up on war crimes. Upon these adventures a mysterious artifact of alien origin leads the team to a hidden city with a race of human/alien hybrids called Inhumans, that have been in seclusion for generations, fearing to live a normal life among the non-powered humans.

Can S.H.I.E.L.D. Bring them to the light and assure them protection? Is humanity ready to accept the existence of alien life? Will Hydra find them first and use them as bio weapons?

First off, this is a huge change up in story, the whole being unable to operate in the light of day, bringing covert ops back to the original source. S.H.I.E.L.D. Has collapsed and been rebuilt in the comics multiple times it is not even funny. Our stunts, practical effects and CGI are an excellent blend to the theme. Several folks are honked off that lesser known villains and heroes of Marvel are being tinkered with to fit the story and again I say, "Tough niblets." The fact these characters are getting screen time finally is a miracle enough as it is.

Hell several of these stories are from the original source material that Stan Lee and the late Jack Kirby did in the sixties. Joss Whedon's writing crew has really been on the ball with developing relationships, back stories and complex opening subplot stories. So if you want some Marvel action that doesn't necessary have folks running around in spandex but you love the whole spy vs spy motif, give it a view. FYI if you are sick of hearing, "Hail Hydra", then you may want to skip the continuing series. Cockroaches don't have this much life span I swear.

So does that leather bind?