Monday, 21 July 2014

Under The Flesh (2014) - Zombie Horror Comic News

Under The Flesh is a zombie comic (created and written by G.Deltres) that is currently riding a Kickstarter campaign to get issue #1 printed and the artwork done for issue #2. It is all self funded and independent so is going to rely heavily on it's fans to help it keep going.

A global event known as Desolation Day occurs during which an infection sweeps the globe affecting only males turning them into flesh hungry zombies known as 'fleshers'. Under The Flesh follows short tempered Ruben Lobos who was an elite U.S soldier that was part of an experiment to create a super soldier but during the process the pandemic occurred and so he actually has no idea what the extent of his powers are. He joins up with his jealous girlfriend Dinah and a group of mostly female survivors and holes up in a library to try and survive both the zombie threat and the roving bands of hostile humans.

I read issue 1 of this and must say I really enjoyed it. It seems to perfectly capture the spirit of 80's action comics and makes no apologies for doing so. Main character Ruben is all muscles and anger while the females he holds up with all seem to be a variety of stereotypes but this works for the 80's vibe going on. The artwork in particular (illustrations and lettering by J.L.Giles) is fantastic and really gave me a nostalgic hit, even when talking characters strike poses full of expression, Ruben looking almightily outraged and shocked most of the time, delightful stuff. There is a lot of violence with the zombies looking suitably decayed while heads are severed and fingers ripped off. Issue 1 is part prologue giving background information on Desolation Day while also setting up the main plot line.

Being a male afflicted only disease it does look like this will explore themes of female oppression and sexism and the suggestion that maybe the zombies also rape people gives an interesting angle to the usual inclusive infection style. The zombies of Under The Flesh can work together in groups, as well as hide from their prey and seem very much to be of the running variety of undead so I imagine this will lead to some suspenseful encounters.

I enjoyed what I read here, a great throwback to the past and an entertaining read. The bravado and high excitement  might not appeal to everyone but at the very least the artwork is very well suited to the subject matter. Under The Flesh has currently raised $2,877 of it's $3,500 goal and with 13 days to go hopefully it will be successful. If this sounds like your kind of thing you can check out the Kickstarter page here.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Saw II: Flesh & Blood (2010) - Horror Videogame Review (PS3)

Having played through the Saw survival horror videogame late last year I really did know what to expect with this sequel. It was to be more of the same for sure, the only question I had was would it be an overall better experience, or would it not learn from the many mistakes? Some spoilers ahead for that first game so reader beware!

This like it's predecessor is set between the first two Saw films. In the ending of Saw (the game) Detective David Tapp commits suicide after failing to capture Jigsaw at the Asylum he found himself prisoner at. Now his reporter son; Michael Tapp is trying to discover what made his father kill himself, and it is during his investigation that he is kidnapped and awakes to find himself captive. Like his father before him Michael has been given a game to play, should he survive the insanity of the game he's forced into he will discover just what pushed his Dad to the edge.

Saw II as expected is indeed more of the same. The graphics look just as average as before, while the location used feel just as realistic. The Asylum felt like a real place but became a bit dull by the end, I was worried that this too would use just the one location. Initially you are in an abandoned hotel, certainly a place large enough to set a whole game in. I thought that being mostly made up of identical rooms it would save the developers on creating too many original assets. Thankfully this is not the only location this time around, there is a variety of different places you as Michael travel to. Sure these are dull by videogame standards (sewers and factories for instance) but new locations does keep the game feeling fresh.

The combat has been completely stripped back taking place entirely via quick time events. Whether you are armed with a baseball bat or empty handed a QTE will still pop up so you can defeat your attacker. It feels weird that the choice of fighting has been taken away from you but to be honest the fighting was not the best part of Saw so I did not miss it much. It is a shame that the button prompts in these sections feel so dull, there is no real contact made by just pressing large button prompts. This extends to several scenes of you being chased also where you press buttons to leap over holes, and to throw boxes in the way of your pursuer.

Puzzles are the main meat of the game and as before it feels a bit silly that most your puzzles are free of peril compared to the life threatening ones of the film. Again you encounter many victims of Jigsaw in various torture devices but whether it be freeing a woman from a box rapidly filling with water, or escorting a man tied to a long pole across a series of fiery traps it is always your brain that is needed not the ability to self torture. There is more variety this time around and in general I found the puzzles more fun and less taxing with a large amount relying on memory skills. There are slightly too many ones where you must divert electricity flow but the time based ones are more infrequent (a good thing as here the time limits are often punishingly short).

Like the first game you encounter many, many people all playing their own games, the majority tasked with killing you to earn their freedom. A common enemy type is a guy with a spiked head mask who charges at you and who is usually defeated in a humorous way such as tricking him into running into an empty elevator shaft, or dropping a huge crate on him. Boss style characters pop up now and again and are quite fun. You have a guy with knives for hands (!) who pops up several times and also a bent cop who decides killing you is more important than escaping the hell hole your both in which leads to stealth sections where you pop from cover to cover avoiding gun shots.

The believability of several square miles of city being converted into one huge death maze is really quite silly, again with such a high body count the premise seems quite stupid. This is a world where waist high boxes stop you dead in your tracks, much of the game could have been over much more quickly should your character just be able to climb these pathetic obstacles. Michael Tapp and the people he encounters are badly voiced and just don't seem like they appreciate the danger they are in. Michael in particular is just full of wisecracks and doesn't seem at all concerned by having to murder tens of enemies, when you were playing as a Detective this was fine to stomach but a reporter shouldn't be this unfazed by taking lives. The sound I had a real problem with, even up really high I found it very difficult to hear what anyone was saying and had to put subtitles on in the end. The plot is nothing special, mostly revealed via dictaphone recordings and case files you find which was ok at least in showing what happened to David Tapp after the first game.

I have to mention a late puzzle in the game which sees you trying to traverse a carousel. While making your way around it should you step under a red spotlight your shotgun jacket will explode killing you instantly. The trouble is these spotlights are really wishy washy and hard to see where they are, plus my character kept getting stuck in the scenery in this segment. In all honesty this small two minute section must have taken me close to a hundred attempts to do! Highly frustrating and really marred an enjoyable experience. Too many times instant deaths will set you back to the last checkpoint you passed, many doors have shotgun traps set to them and if your not paying attention something like this, or a collapsing floor or a tripwire can lead to an unfair restart.

Saw II was exactly what I expected but it was really addictive, I lost a lot of hours to it this weekend and nearly have no regrets. A better game than Saw and well designed, this survival horror will not appeal to everyone and doesn't look or sound fantastic but there is fun to be had for sure.


Saturday, 19 July 2014

The Remaining by D.J Molles (2012) - Zombie Horror Book Review

Originally written in 2012 ad self published The Remaining has this year been released by Orbit. Apparently in the two years since it was first self published it has sold 250,000 copies with four books written in the series.

U.S soldier Lee Harden waits in a bunker below his home, his mission to wait there until his superior gives him the all clear to head back to the surface, or if he looses contact with his handler for 48 hours he is to open his classified orders and proceed according to those. Many times before in his past he has stayed in his bunker, each time it has led to nothing and he is able to return to normal life but this time the unthinkable happens, Lee realises something truly cataclysmic has occurred. His classified mission speaks of a deadly virus that would have most likely decimated the population, turning the infected into people filled with utter violence. His mission is to establish contact with groups of survivors and with them help to reestablish law and order. Protected from this chaos Lee along with his trained dog Tango heads out of his bunker finally and steps into a dark new world.

I really loved how the book is set out, the character of Lee having been staying in his bunker for a month while the apocalypse happened means he is just as blind to the reality of the world as the reader, his bunker well equipped with food, water, medical supplies, weapons and other luxuries is a safe haven. His first forays out of this sanctuary are well written, suspenseful and scary. I wanted nothing more than to retreat back to Lee's base and stay locked away from the world. He is a good guy through and through with no suspicion as to any wrong doings, a cookie cutter hero but he is likable as a result and his drive to complete his mission is admirable.

Starting off the first third of The Remaining establishes Lee's role, his expertise and his judgement with scenes right out of action films as he stalks and hunts prey. In the world of the book surviving humans are far more of a threat than the sporadic infected. It seems everywhere you go hostile humans with evil intentions are never far away making the world a scary place. The human to infected ratio reminded me a lot of the game The Last of Us as here also the literal monsters of the piece take second place to hostiles. Events go by in a whirlwind and expectations are wildly changed due to a series of unfortunate events, also managing to mess with some classic horror tropes .

The infected are not zombies per se. Here they have succumbed to a virus that is slowly eating away their brains. Infected are feral, hunt together in packs and are full of rage. Ambling slowly until they detect prey, able to use basic weapons such as hammers and shovels, hard to kill and they are lucid enough to be able to dismantle barriers and hunt. The first appearance of an infected is wonderfully done demonstrating what a threat even one can be. The scenes with the infected are often exciting, a siege at one point led by a boss style infected really reminded me of Resident Evil 4's enemies, it read like a scene from a game or film, vivid descriptions really letting you visualise what was happening.

If I had a criticism it would be that it seems to end just as things start to happen, it is more of a prologue than a stand alone novel, something that is backed up by there being more in the series. Had I not known this I would have felt slightly cheated as it is not the longest book I have ever read (just over 300 pages with a large text size used). What is here is excellent and really easy to read and quite gruesome. I can't really remember a book where the essentials of needing food and water to survive are so at the forefront, here the lack of these have a noticeable effect on the key characters who are handled realistically and are all likable;  from the boy Lee saves to a mother and daughter that join him, they do not have much character to them but you do end up caring for them.

Sometimes a simple tale done well is worth more than a hundred convoluted plots. The Remaining while not doing much new still managed to keep my eyes glued to the pages, well written, interesting and left me really wanting to read more; a great start to the series.


Wednesday, 16 July 2014

The Upper Footage (2013) - Horror Film Review

The Upper Footage starts with instructions on how to get the most out of the film which I found quite unique. It recommended that it be watched on a laptop, that decent headphones be used, that it be watched in a dark room, and lastly that it be watched alone. To get the most out of it I did just that rather than watch it on my TV that I had originally planned to do. The Upper Footage is from the found footage genre (Paranormal Activity, Apollo 18 etc) which I admit I am totally sick of, but is this one any good?

The start of the film gives some background on how the footage came to be found with a back story detailing how the footage had been blocked from being shown for years but has finally been released. Four rich kids in New York head out for a night of drinks and drugs, one of them; Will deciding to film the night (I guess his camera was new or something). Wanting to pick up some cocaine they head to a rougher part of town to get it where one of the group decides to bring a 'normal' girl (Jackie) back to a penthouse apartment. A drug fuelled night begins but is cut short when Jackie is discovered dead in the bathroom from an apparent overdose. Rather than call the Police the group instead decide that they are going to try and cover up the death, Will continuing filming on the premise that they can watch back the footage in the morning so as to get their stories straight for the cover up.

First off I wrote my notes for this in the dark, so it was with some dismay when I turned on the lights and discovered the pen I had been using was not actually working that well (amateur!) so my recollections will have to rely mostly on my memory. I am fed up with the found footage genre I had thought, the same old tricks are used again and again but with this film I found (footage) out that it is actually just supernatural horror that I am sick of. To call The Upper Footage horror would be doing it a disservice, it is certainly harrowing, but feels strangely realistic and like something that could actually happen. Of course it is always a leap to accept that events would be filmed by someone the whole time and here is no different with quite a loose excuse given.

The rich kids are portrayed as pretty horrible people. These young adults are racist, sexist, elitist and homophobic to a high degree but it never comes across as parody. Their interactions with Jackie (whose face is permanently pixelated out in a creepy fashion) have them treating her almost like a sub species due to her not being wealthy, this explains in part the insane plan they decide to come up with when she dies.

Taking place over one long night there are highs and lows, around half the film is the lead up to Jackie's death with the remainder much more poorly filmed that ties in nicely with the downward shift of the films tone. The camera is almost abandoned at times that leads to some fantastic sequences that take place over a period of time but all in one shot. I do not know if the actors ad libbed or if they had a script but it is very impressive that they were to stay in the moment during these shots. There is little effort made to get nice looking footage, a lot of the film is blurred, a gigantic section is just pitch black with literally nothing to see but lots to hear. I have just never seen anything like this, usually found footage is so unrealistic but here there was a feeling that this is something that could actually happen, it had me wondering just what I would have done in that situation.

The group (three males and a female) spend a lot of the film arguing, it almost seems at times they take turns to gang up on each other, this did get tedious at times as it just seemed to go on and on. The acting was not bad with the exception of the unending arguments, and they look the part appearing suitably drugged up during the party scenes and desperate after that. The second half did drag a little bit but was actually the more engaging part of the film with an almost real time feel to it all leading up to a shocking end. The Upper Footage is certainly a powerful piece of film making and the use of headphones creating some jump scares and bringing you further into the horror than speakers would.

Not a bad film at all, very well made (as in badly made, but that's what makes it seem more believable) with a realistic setting and an interesting plot. Worth a watch certainly, the plot while basic kept me glued to the screen.


Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Alien Breed 3: Descent (2010) - Horror Videogame Review

I have not done a blog post in a week, stupid insomnia and work really draining me. Still not great as am writing this review while slowly succumbing to the effects of some trusty zopiclone, such is life! Alien Breed 3 is the third and final part in the revamped series and again is an isometric shooter. While the plot is hardly Shakespeare there will be some spoilers ahead as a warning.

Conrad is still on the ancient Space Hulk that the ship he was travelling on (the Leopold) got embedded in. With his friendly computer A.I taken over by the evil A.I of the alien infested ship at the end of the second game, and with both ships on a collision course with an icy planet things don't start off on a great note. More pressing then the impending crash though is that this evil A.I has dreams of bringing the horror of the alien menace to the entire Universe via the Leopold so Conrad must find and destroy the A.I core before it can download itself into that ship and make good it's escape.

I don't know if it was due to the time that had elapsed since I played the last two games in the series but I found myself really enjoying Descent even if yes, technically it is more of the same. The evil A.I is a great character and the voice actor is fantastic coming across as a smarmy British guy, plus the logs that reveal back story are actually interesting this time around and really give him some depth with his story as a twisted scientist creating the alien creatures as part of a secret project before loosing them on his fellow ship mates and becoming immortal by downloading his consciousness into a computer program.

The A.I's interactions with Conrad are constant throughout the 6 hour play time (again set over 5 levels) and forever enjoyable threatening, shouting, taunting and offering Conrad the power to join up with him. Sadly it is all one way as Conrad's thoughts are displayed via lines of text that are totally out of eye view so I often missed them. The levels much like before are created as a series of almost maze like structures with switches and computer terminals needed to be accessed to bypass destroyed structures and blocked doorways. You are constantly attacked by the alien hordes who are here in much greater numbers than before, especially the last few levels were you are rarely given time to breathe as you come under constant assault from all sides. There are a lot more bosses in this third instalment, and while kinda formulaic are actually quite a lot of fun to fight. These bosses include a huge alien (obviously based on the Queen Alien from those films) that keeps popping up as a reoccurring threat.

Water is the big innovation here and is used a hell of a lot in the rapidly sinking ship (spoiler zone: the ship crashes into an ocean in the ice planet). With this water comes a new type of electricity based enemy as well as having the option to run taken away whenever your in it (slowing you down as it does). I found the flooded areas quite fun as it was something different. Also something that seemed new were fixed angle sequences which were more cinematic than what I remembered previous. One in particular that saw you traversing the ships roof with magnetic boots and a space helmet really stood out. Unfortunately as much as I loved these new types of things I had really hoped I would get to leave the Space Hulk and explore the planets surface. Two whole games all set on the same ship was a bit too much really even if it was enjoyable. A couple of new guns are introduced but the assault rifle is still king.

This is certainly the hardest game in the trilogy but is the best crafted one and has the most new ideas. Some things still irritate such as the gun turret stations that technically you can use to easily fight the aliens but the turrets themselves seem almost non existent in supply. With a great antagonist though this could actually be my favourite in the trilogy. Gone are the unsure baby steps of Evolution (though that had a great sense of place), thankfully ditched are the terrible babysitting parts of Assault. With less exploration and far more action it really is a close call. Basically if you have the other games and are unsure of whether to finish off the trilogy then I say yes, do that.


Tuesday, 8 July 2014

The Returned (2012) - Horror TV Series

I have taken a heavy dose of insomnia lately so have been putting off working on my blog as my brain is literal mush. Saying that I polished off the last of The Returned; a French supernatural TV show based on a film of the same name that I reviewed once upon a time and did not think it was amazing (more just plain confusing).

The Returned takes place in a remote French mountain town that has a dark history. All of a sudden dead people have started coming back to life, appearing near where they died and returning to the town to visit their friends and family, unaware at first that they are dead and thinking it is the same day as when they left the world. The series follows about four of these recently returned, all oblivious to each other at first and all with their own agendas. Camille is a 15 year old who returns after dying in a bus crash 4 years previous to find her twin sister now grown up. Victor is a very creepy little boy who follows a lonely woman home one evening. Serge is a serial killer who picks up where he left off, whilst Simon returns to his bride to be after 10 years deceased only to discover she is now with someone else and his at the time unborn child now grown up.

This is one effective show, the soundtrack (by Mogwai) is really good, it gives the show such atmosphere and just manages to fit each scene perfectly. The soundtrack perfectly compliments the visual look of The Returned. It all looks fantastic with a uniform bleak appearance dark dull colours, stark, cold building design mixed in with squalor and ruin whilst the whole town is watched over by head cop Thomas via high tech surveillance systems. The town I kept thinking is somewhere I would love to live in. It may as well be cut off from the rest of civilisation and has a deep history to it that is slowly revealed.

The acting whilst in French (with subtitles) appears to be amazing, even that of the child actors, especially Swann Nambotin who plays Victor. I do not like 'creepy' child characters normally, they are always so ineffective to me and full of over acting, but Victor is genuinely unsettling, yet likable at the same time. For much of it he doesn't say more than a few words, his stare alone just has some weird, other worldly look to it. All the characters appear to be layered changing as the show goes on. Serge for instance is a killer, yet by the end of it I really came to not so much like him, as understand him a bit better. I really can't think of a single actor who brings down the tone of the show, all are very good.

Watching The Returned the thing that sprang to mind was Twin Peaks, it shares a lot of the bizarre, the strange, and the unsettling atmosphere of that, but gone is any of the humour, this is played serious with moments of light twinned with darkness, sorrow, regret, and sadness. Exploring the themes of the dead returning to life all aspects are looked into and you can see the pain and confusion that comes from the returned who just do not know what their place in the world is anymore. The key questions of why these people have come back to life keeps you gripped throughout, and are they zombies, angels, or ghosts? I'm tempted to go with zombies myself though don't expect any brain munching action but do expect some latent supernatural abilities.

Season 1 is comprised of eight episodes of roughly 55 minutes each, each is full of twists and turns with interweaving plots that at first seem unrelated but slowly get tied together. With Twin Peaks the story seemed to unravel a bit towards the second season, I fear that with The Returned getting a second season that this may happen here too. As much as I loved this, at times it did seem some plot lines were just a tiny bit filler. Thankfully a lot of the plot is tied up, there are some huge questions remaining at the end but it is such a powerful final episode that I was still satisfied. Plot for the main characters is drip fed, for example in one episode you see someone has lots of scars all over their belly, a flashback (of which there are many) pops up in a later episode. This device is done again and again, the going backwards and forwards in time is very well done.

As I said at the start I am suffering crushing insomnia so apologies if this review is a bit poor. Based on my knowledge of the film I was not expecting much of this, yet it is a it is one billion times better than that confusing mess, some slightly poor CGI effects but overall it looks, sounds, and actually is a master piece of creation. If you want a French Twin Peaks, or Silent Hill the TV show (minus monsters) then you really should check this out!


Thursday, 3 July 2014

Of Silence (2014) - Horror Film Review

Of Silence is an Indie film that is written and directed by Jeremiah Sayys who also stars in the main role. It is described as a psychological thriller and it has to be said is a real slow burner. The whole thing was filmed in just 12 days with a low budget of $125,000.

Colby (Sayys) is a man deep in grieving after his wife has died. He no longer goes to work but instead stays at home where he is surrounded by memories of happier times, he mopes around the place remembering past events and generally not looking after himself with bills piling up and services being cut off. Soon he starts to hear strange voices, and witnesses unexplainable events. Is Colby going crazy and hallucinating these things, or is there actually a more sinister other worldly presence invading his reality, drawn to him by the deep sadness and silence he has come to know?

To start with I just did not get this film at all. The main character himself is obviously a very troubled and depressed man who has stopped living and instead just exists, a shell of his former self, unable to recover from the mortal blow his life has taken. Flashbacks throughout reveal just what occurred to get him to this point and it is all downbeat stuff. First and foremost this is a drama, the horror takes a back seat and even when it does rear it's nightmarish head it is easy to call into question if any of it is actually real.

To start with not much happens out of the ordinary; a few auditory hallucinations when his family visit for his birthday (a real fun time is had by all with his parents wildly over compensating for the fact Colby is pretty much a walking corpse). After the forty minute mark the hallucinations start to step up with his increasingly angry dead wife showing up to attack him verbally and physically, day and night cycles getting all mixed up and strange black smoke and shadow that seems to herald the arrival of madness. By the end I was so confused with the skipping around in time and weird events happening that I just shrugged my shoulders and went along with the ride, no longer even trying to decipher what on earth was happening. As the credits rolled I just thought to myself that there must have been something I missed as it was all so very odd.

As a piece on grief and devastating loss it is well done, Colby has a permanent victim face and the way his house is lit with dark shadows and featureless scenery gel well with the feeling that was gone for. A few scenes are very well done, such as when in his back garden he encounters his wife in a flashback in the bright sunshine, yet at the same time he is there in darkness as his dead wife screams at him. The whole film takes place in his house and this deteriorates along with his quickening apparent madness with first the phone lines being cut off, then later gas and electricity (due to the pesky bills he is not concerned with) plunging his world into one of enforced solitude and darkness.

Of Silence looks great, the special effects are pretty damn good and the film is shot in a high quality, there is nothing bad that can be said of that. The acting is also not bad, Colby's family are fine even if his sister Haley comes across as a bit too naive for the age she is supposed to be at. The family don't feel that tight of a unit especially when all together. As mentioned the plot just left me a bit cold. After a point I didn't understand the motivations of Colby. All this really scary and strange stuff is happening to him yet he doesn't seem the least bit concerned about leaving the house, even when he is stabbed in the leg by a weird occult looking dagger by some unseen force he decides against calling for help and just pulls it out so that he can limp around for the rest of the time, apparently unconcerned about what is going on.

Two of the cast share surnames with Silent Hill characters (Ashlee Gillespie who plays Haley, and Najarra Townsend who plays Aimee) this is fitting as the film does have a very Silent Hill vibe going on due to the manifestation of evil seemingly appearing due to Colbys inner demons. Also Jacob's Ladder seemed to share common ground here. An interesting subject matter for sure but Of Silence is just a little too slow paced even for me who usually laps up films that take place at a glacial pace. A scene in which Colby searches for some batteries seemed to play out in real time over quite a few minutes for example (nitpicking I know).

I appreciate what was done here and it is very well made and directed, but overall I just could not get to grips with it and this lack of grip led to me not enjoying it too much, or really caring about the plot which is a shame.


Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Twiztid & Blaze: Sickman (2014) - Horror themed music video

Now I don't really know music that well but I just had to do a blog about the official music video for Sickman by Twiztid and Blaze Ya Dead Homie as it features not only Kane Hodder (best known as Jason Voorhees from the Friday 13th films) but also features Sid Haig (from House of 1000 Corpses and The Devil's Rejects).

In the video the musicians are out drinking but when they head back to their cars to leave they are kidnapped by a scarred man (Hodder) who takes them to some remote building and tortures them to death. Sid Haig's character then asks the murderer to bring the bodies to him where he then cuts open his hand and drips white blood onto the corpses, it all ends with a 'To Be Continued' message.

I don't know the genre of music; rap perhaps? The song is quite catchy though and wasn't a chore to listen to as I watched the six minute long video. Sickman is taken from Twiztid's album 'A New Nightmare' that is available to buy now from Twiztid's website as well as on iTunes. Check the video out below and see what you think, is pretty cool to see two horror icons sharing screen time together in my opinion!

Monday, 30 June 2014

A Plague So Pleasant (2013) - Zombie Horror Film Review

With a budget under $3000 I was not expecting much from A Plague So Pleasant, I figured the low cost would mean poor acting, and pathetic zombie make up and gore effects. How wrong was I!

The film takes place 1 year after zombie apocalypse, an apocalypse that occurred for just 12 hours and ended when the human survivors figured out if they simply just did not attack the undead then the undead would not fight back. With a world total of around 2 billion casualties life carries on as best it can. In America where this takes place it has become illegal to attack the walking dead, people have learnt just to deal with the corpses that roam the land. Clay Marshall (David Chandler) is disillusioned with this new existence. Discovering his disturbed sister is still in love with her dead boyfriend, he decides to do something about the unhealthy relationship she has...

Written and directed by Benjamin Roberds with co direction and cinematography by Jordan Reyes A Plague So Pleasant appears at first to be filmed in black and white. I figured this was a good way to disguise bad zombie effects and it certainly added to the charm of the film bringing to mind Romero's classic Night of the Living Dead. It also seemed to amplify the bland and empty life people are now living. With so many dead in the apocalypse jobs are under staffed, no one seems to have drive in their lives, just stuck in monotonous routine. Clay seems frustrated with the new world, and via his monologue he wonders if he actually misses the excitement he had with the apocalypse. He has come to despise the harmless zombies, they are walking embodiments of death, a permanent reminder of the fate that awaits anyone who dies.

Without ruining things a mid point stunning moment occurs that results in the film bursting into colour, suddenly there is colour everywhere. The scene this happens in was an absolute master class in directing, while watching I just started saying out loud 'oh my God, oh my God' and had to actually put the film on pause to appreciate just what had happened! Needless to say the tone of the film utterly changes from here on out, it is almost like a completely separate film, from an art house discussion on life and death to a living nightmare, I swear I have had zombie dreams just like what is shown in this film.

This is a really gory film, the zombies dribble stuff out of their mouths, and there is so much blood, plus some stomach churning scenes with glass embedded deep in flesh with all the trauma that comes from that. The zombies look fantastic and there are some really fun scenes with them, but it really would spoil the surprise to reveal much. In mobs they are effective at creating chills, alone they are also darn creepy, such as when Clay (who the film very much follows exclusively) has to outwit a blind zombie who reacts to sound. To get an idea of the tone of a lot of the film just imagine the start of 28 Weeks Later but instead of escaping on a motor boat Don just kept running.

Now I will say that this did start to drag ever so slightly, there is just about too much slowly creeping around buildings that may or may not be occupied by zombies, and a late introduction of a child character did nothing for the film. The ending did not really take me by surprise but it was fantastically done regardless and does leave what the future holds open to question.

It is utterly criminal that this has not seen a commercial release (currently can be viewed free on YouTube) when it is so much better than the average straight to video zombie travesty. I implore anyone who thinks this sounds at all interesting to go watch it, it will not be a 80 minutes wasted.


As an aside the trailer for once actually doesn't spoil the film, so check that out...

Sunday, 29 June 2014

E3 2014 - Horror Videogame Round-Up

I have not been blogging much lately due to my despicable day job tiring me out with its incessant overtime, need to power on through and blog even when I am tired out from a long and boring days work. E3 was a few weeks back, for those that don't know it is perhaps the biggest gaming event of the year where a ton of new games are announced and shown off. This being a horror blog I shall cover the games of a scary nature that popped up this year, just the most exciting ones though mind!

First of all from 2K studios we have Evolve, created by the makers of online zombie co-op game Left 4 Dead. Again it is focused on online co-op play so will probably be one I miss. Four players take on the role of human hunters, their aim is to kill the fifth player who takes on the role of a gigantic monster who itself is tasked with killing the hunters. Sounds interesting for sure but let's be honest - zombies are always better!

From Bethesda we got a teaser trailer for the long awaited Doom 4...which is actually titled Doom. Now Doom 3 is one of my favourite games of all time so I am quite excited for this, I hope they stick to the realistic nature of that game as that so insanely immersive. Also from them was more information on the Shinji Mikami (creator of Resident Evil) survival horror game The Evil Within which looks to borrow a lot from the Silent Hill series (a good thing, where exactly is the new Silent Hill game?).

Deep Silver had a teaser trailer for Dead Island 2, I really loved the first game of survivors trapped on an island of flesh eating ghouls, I have the sequel to that (Dead Island: Riptide) but have yet to play it and have heard it is pretty sloppy. Here's hoping 2 is a more thought out game. It looks like it is going to be set in America this time around.

Developer Digital had Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number on show. I loved the first ultra violent game due to the fantastic addictive nature and awesome music. The sequel looks to be more of the same which I do not think is a bad thing.

From Electronic Arts there was Dragon Age: Inquisition which is the third in the Dragon Age series. After the rushed and lazy job that was Dragon Age II (enjoyable nonetheless) the team behind this have a lot to prove if they are going to draw back the fans that got burned. They also had an announcement for Mass Effect 4, an inevitable release and I for one really hope they go back to what made the series so good, I do not think Mass Effect 3 was a fantastic game, it felt sloppy and rushed in a lot of places and more like a videogame than an amazing adventure 1 and 2 felt like.

From Microsoft came Sunset Overdrive which is an open world zombie slaying third person adventure that has been described as 'Tony Hawk with guns'. The game world is a bright and vibrant place, looks like it could be a lot of fun and had many people touting it as the game of the show.

Sega had Alien: Isolation that looks to be shaping up nicely, for once in an Aliens game there is just the one creature, hopefully this will make it back into something to be scared of, rather than the cannon fodder of most games from that licence. Warner Bros. had Dying Light which is an open world zombie survival game set in South America, it looks a lot like Dead Island but features free running, and has zombies getting more intelligent and capable at night time, could be great.

So there you have it, again quite a few zombie and horror games. There are quite a few games I didn't mention, but they are the ones that most stood out for me. Hopefully by this time next year I will have one of the new generation of consoles!