My 25 Favorite Horror Video Games

Keeping up with the Darktober theme of most of my posts this month, I wanted to do a list for my favorite horror themed video games.

Video games have been a big part of my life, as I was born in 1978 and the 1980s through 1990s were spent button-mashing in front of a tube television about six inches away from my face.

Being that I was always a big horror movie fan, I obviously loved horror video games as well.

Here are my twenty-five favorite horror games of all-time.

1. Silent Hill 2: Restless Dreams (XBOX)
2. Doom (PC)
3. Ghosts & Goblins (NES)
4. BioShock 2 (PS3)
5. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night (PS1)
6. Contra (NES)
7. Killing Time (3DO)
8. Siren: Blood Curse (PS3)
9. Manhunt (PS2)
10. Fatal Frame II: Crimson Butterfly (PS2)
11. Nightmare Creatures (PS1)
12. Friday the 13th (NES)
13. Resident Evil (PS1)
14. Dead Space (PS3)
15. Parasite Eve (PS1)
16. Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth (XBOX)
17. Alien vs. Predator (JAG)
18. Devil May Cry (PS2)
19. Vampire: The Masquerade (PC)
20. American McGee’s Alice (PC)
21. Clock Tower (PS1)
22. Splatterhouse 2 (GEN)
23. Dead Rising 2 (PS3)
24. System Shock 2 (PC)
25. The Thing (PS2)

Documentary Review: Hillsborough (2014)

Release Date: April 15th, 2014
Directed by: Daniel Gordon
Music by: Tim Atack, Joel Beckerman
Narrated by: Ryan Van Ness III

ESPN Films, BBC, 121 Minutes

Review:

*written in 2014.

Hillsborough is a film that kicked off a new series of 30 For 30 on ESPN. It is the first part in the Soccer Stories run, which were released over the last few months in order to build for the World Cup, which itself just started a few hours ago. I plan on reviewing the whole series in its complete form but since this part stands out as a film, where the other parts are half hour episodes, I felt it deserving of its own review.

This film told the story of the Hillsborough disaster, which happened on April 15th, 1989 in Sheffield, England. For those who don’t know, this tragedy happened during a game between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest and saw the death of 96 people who were crushed to death in the standing room only pens of the stadium. Following the tragedy, families of the victims have been seeking justice for decades but been denied it.

Hillsborough gives a pretty solid rundown of everything that happened leading up to the tragedy and everything that happened during and after, painting a very clear picture of what actually went down years after media spin and corruption tried to weave a different story.

The film was beautifully edited and presented, the interviews were conducted very well and I felt like the people involved, who had been victimized by this disaster were able to get some form of closure and peace by being able to be involved in this project while getting out their individual stories.

As a film, it was one of the best 30 For 30 chapters ever produced. It’s a definite must see for fans of the ongoing ESPN series or fans of real football (or soccer as we Americans call it).

The Quintessential Halloween Mixtape

It’s that time of year again! I love Halloween. And with Halloween, comes Halloween parties.

So if you are having a Halloween party, you need to have the right music.

This is a list of the perfect songs for your Halloween mixtape.

If you disagree, you suck at music. I love music and I love Halloween, so these tracks are in constant rotation at any spooky shindig I attend. Or I beat up the DJ and take over for the night.

So here we go, the perfect Halloween mixtape. And yes, make a tape. Cassettes are coming back, don’t you know?

And fuck the “Monster Mash”.

1. Anything in The Cramps discography
2. Anything in The Misfits discography
3. “Everyday Is Halloween” by Ministry
4. “This Is Halloween” from A Nightmare Before Christmas
5. “A Nightmare On My Street” by DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince
6. “Pet Sematary” by The Ramones
7. “Bela Lugosi’s Dead” by Bauhaus
8. “Vampires” by DJ Touche
9. “Wolf Like Me” by TV On The Radio
10. “Ghost Town” by The Specials
11. “Are You Ready For Freddy?” – The Fat Boys
12. “Somebody’s Watching Me” – Rockwell
13. “Thriller” by Michael Jackson
14. “Fresh Blood” by Eels
15. “Spirit” by Doug E. Fresh
16. “No One Lives Forever” by Oingo Boingo
17. “I Put A Spell On You” by Nina Simone
18. “Scary Monsters and Super Creeps” by David Bowie
19. “Halloween” by the Dead Kennedys
20. “Ghostbusters” by Ray Parker, Jr.
21. “Psycho Killer” by the Talking Heads
22. “Halloween” by Siouxsie & The Banshees
23. “Bark At the Moon” by Ozzy Osbourne
24. “Confusion (Pump Panel Reconstruction Mix)” by New Order
25. “The Orange Theme” by Cygnus X

Documentary Review: The Last Gladiators (2011)

Release Date: September 9th, 2011 (TIFF)
Directed by: Alex Gibney
Music by: David Kahne

Locomotion Pictures, 94 Minutes

Review:

*written in 2014.

I just recently came across a hockey documentary on Netflix’s streaming service called The Last Gladiators. The film was about some of the biggest goons in the NHL during the 80s. The film covered several players but primarily focused on Chris “Knuckles” Nilan, who mostly played for the Montreal Canadiens and won a Stanley Cup with them in 1986.

Nilan is one of the toughest guys to ever play the game and didn’t care if he was facing another tough guy or someone towering over him. He appeared to have no fear and was willing to scrap with anyone on the ice that got in his team’s way. He was a dominant enforcer and built up one hell of a reputation in an era where fighting wasn’t as controlled and stifled by the rules as it is now.

The director Alex Gibney, who won an Oscar for Taxi to the Dark Side, does a pretty good job of painting a clear picture of hockey culture and the role of an enforcer that the uninitiated can follow. It starts like a highlight reel of classic fights while the backstory is laid out and finishes up with a tragic story that is still incomplete, leaving you with a sense of hope for the main attraction of the film, Chris Nilan.

I wouldn’t call this a great sports documentary but I would say that it was thoroughly engaging and did a proper job of showcasing goon culture respectfully. Especially in an era where more and more busybody know-it-all idiots are calling for a ban to fighting in hockey.

Book Review: ‘A Kim Jong-Il Production: The Extraordinary True Story of a Kidnapped Filmmaker, His Star Actress, and a Young Dictator’s Rise to Power’ by Paul Fischer

When I first heard the story about how the North Korean kaiju picture Pulgasari was made, I had to see if anyone had actually written a book on it. Well, someone did and I am really glad that I picked it up.

In fact, this is my favorite showbiz book since reading Greg Sestero’s The Disaster Artist. Like that book, it goes into the behind the scenes happenings of this picture but it also serves as a biography for the main players involved. Kim Jong-Il and his bizarreness makes for an entertaining read on par with the first time I read about the infamous and awesome Tommy Wiseau.

Hell, maybe James Franco should adapt this into a film too; he’s got experience with showbiz biopics and films that piss off North Korea. Truthfully, this story would make an amazing motion picture.

For those who don’t know the story. Kim Jong-Il ordered the kidnapping of the most famous film director in South Korea. He also kidnapped the director’s wife, even though they were separated, as she was one of South Korea’s premier actresses. The director and his wife were held in a North Korean prison for years until they finally caved and decided to help Kim Jong-Il make better propaganda pictures. This is how Pulgasari happened.

This book is well written and thorough and while it seems to take some liberties in fleshing out the character that is Kim Jong-Il, everything just works and this is a really fun read that I enjoyed.

I love kaiju movies and strange stories. I have also been fascinated with the enigmatic North Korea. A Kim Jong-Il Production hits on all those things and is quite fantastic.

Ranking the Films of the 20th Annual Manhattan Short Film Festival (2017)

The Manhattan Short Film Festival is now in its twentieth year and sadly, it was only my first year participating, as things like this don’t make their way down to my neck of the woods. Two theaters near me were venues that hosted this thing, there are over 250 venues worldwide now, so I wanted to take part in it.

What the film festival does, is it takes thousands of short films from all over the world, narrows it down to ten finalists and then lets the audience from all the participating venues vote on the winner for best film and best actor.

It was a pretty cool experience, even if there were only three other people in my local cinema to watch this – one of them left in the middle of the third short film. Southwest Florida claims it has culture but it is either extremely high brow or nothing and unfortunately, something like this fits somewhere in the middle because it isn’t a traveling opera or Transformers 17.

Anyway, I figured that I’d go beyond just anonymously picking my winner and that I’d rank the ten films I saw. All of these will be reviewed in the coming weeks, as well. But here they are, the ten finalists ranked.

1. 8 Minutes – drama (Georgia)
2. Viola, Franca – drama (Italy)
3. Behind – horror (Spain)
4. Mare Nostrum – drama (Syria)
5. Hope Dies Last – drama (UK)
6. Just Go! – action (Latvia)
7. Do No Harm – action (New Zealand)
8. Fickle Bickle – comedy (US)
9. In A Nutshell – animationm (Switzerland)
10. Perfect Day – comedy (Spain)

Documentary Review: Magician: The Astonishing Life & Work of Orson Welles (2014)

Release Date: December 10th, 2014
Directed by: Chuck Workman
Music by: Elliot Goldenthal (composer, stock music)

Calliope Films, Wheelhouse Creative, Cohen Media Group, 95 Minutes

Review:

Orson Welles was a one of a kind master behind and in front of the camera. His first motion picture is considered the best film of all-time by a lot of people. It is hard to argue against it, as it is a true classic masterpiece.

This isn’t just about the film Citizen Kane, though. This is a documentary that follows Welles’ entire career and life and talks to key people from his life on the personal and professional sides.

I have been a fan of Welles ever since discovering his work when I was a teenager. I saw Citizen Kane in my high school film studies class and I was drawn in when most of the other kids in my class seemed sort of uninterested. Too many kids were in that class because they thought they would just watch movies all day and earn an easy A.

Magician is the premier documentary on Welles, at least that I have seen. It is well organized, the interviews do their job and paint a good picture and Welles’ charm when he pops up to talk about himself and his work, shows just how charismatic and engaging the man was. The Dos Equis guy has nothing on Orson Welles.

I liked the behind the scenes segments on Welles’ films and his professional struggles with the Hollywood system. I loved seeing indie filmmakers like Richard Linklater pop up in this documentary to point out that Welles really was the first true indie filmmaker even though he had to create and express his vision within the major studio system.

Orson Welles is legitimately one of the most interesting people to have existed in the twentieth century. This film does a good job conveying that through Welles’ own words and the words of others.