Freddy VS Jason Review

Ask anyone to name the most iconic 1980s horror icons and Freddy Kreuger and Jason Voorhees will be name-dropped a lot. For decades people wanted these two to be in a movie and in 2003 horror fans got their wish with Freddy VS Jason.

Freddy is getting weaker and needs more souls but can’t do it on his own. So he decides to resurrect and control Jason to kill in his stead.

Think about that plot for a minute. Freddy needs Jason to collect souls. Hey, guess they needed some reason to get these two together.

The movie itself is OK. It’s mostly Jason killing people while Freddy is pulling the strings. On top of that, people think it’s Freddy doing the killings so they try to figure out how to kill Freddy.

When the two finally meet near the end of the movie, it’s an amazing fight. At first it seems like Freddy is destroying Jason but then that whole “we need to kill Freddy” plot comes to fruition and the tables are turned. The fight shows off everything both monsters have shown before. Freddy using his mind control powers and illusions to trick Jason and Jason just brute-forcing everything.

The best thing about the fight is the color scheme. When we’re in the nightmare world it’s red and there are flames everywhere. When it’s in the real world, it’s blue. It’s obvious all the energy went into the fight and little went into the plot. Once you think about it, that’s the point. A movie about two slasher horror icons fighting is what people wanted, paid for and had to wait to see it. It that respect, the movie did a great job of it.

As far as who wins, they left it ambiguous. This was a great idea because if you pick a winner you will piss off fans of one franchise. Some may be upset about that ending, but once you think about why they did it tuns into a great ending.

Freddy VS Jason isn’t high art or a good movie in any sense of the word, but if you to see a great fight between two horror icons then this is the best you’ll get. You just have to slog threw a mediocre movie just to get to it.

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Friday the 13th Series Review

Unlike Nightmare on Elm Street, I didn’t grow up with Friday the 13th. The first one I saw was Part 7 when I was 15 and didn’t see the first one until the next year when I was in Italy. I didn’t see all of them until last year so now I have some real opinions on them.

For those who don’t know, the Friday the 13th movies center around a bunch of teens who are new camp counselors at Camp Crystal Lake. The problem is, there’s a legend that in the 1950s a boy named Jason Voorhees drowned in the lake while two on-duty counselors were busy having sex. Now, Jason has returned to wreak havoc on all who step foot on Camp Crystal Lake.

The first movie is the best our of the bunch. It sets up the series and the lore nicely and the kills are nicely done. Of course, we don’t Jason at all throughout the movie and we’re kept guessing who the killer is. SPOILERS: It’s Jason’s mom.

The second movie, while not as entertaining as the first, still has a lot to like. This is also the first time we actually see Jason, but he’s not wearing his iconic 1970s hockey goalie mask (I checked to see which goalie. It’s just a generic mask that you were able to find in any store. If it was based on Terry Sawchuck’s mask, then THAT’D be creepy.) He’s just wearing a sack over his head.

The third movie is where he gets his mask. It’s still basically the same as the first movie, but it’s still enjoyable.

To not sound like a broken record, all the movies are enjoyable up until number 6. Is where the franchise starts getting stale. Hell, Tommy Jarvis, introduced in part 4 which was supposed to be the final movie (it was even called The Final Chapter) is an interesting character but after part six not much is done with him. The deaths also get boring and unoriginal after part 4.

Part 8 is when the series becomes absolute crap. Part 8 is called Jason Takes Manhatten even though the movie doesn’t take in Manhatten until the last thirty minutes of the movie (figure that out. That all gets thrown out with part nine called Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday. Here is where the movie makers throw all the lore out the window and create a terrible movie with no redeeming qualities. Hell, Jason even goes out in one of the worst ways possible.

Then came Jason X. It’s Jason in space. While Jason’s design is awesome, the movie is all kinds of bad. What’s worse is that, while it’s rated R, the deaths are watered down. Not to mention the plot makes so sense and the movie just flounders from scene to scene.

Friday the 13th may be a great series it loses steam once part six happens. Jason is a great villain, but I still prefer Freddy Kreuger. Freddy and Jason do meet, but that’s a review for another day.

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Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night Review

One of Konami’s most treasured video game franchises is Castlevania. Gamers have fond memories of these games from way back in the NES era. Then Konami decided that the best thing to do with the franchise is to make a bunch of pachinko machines and mobile games nobody wants (the Netflix series was good, though.) Koji Igarashi, a former Konami programmer and producer, decided to make a Kickstarter for a Castlevania-like game called Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night. The original goal was $500,000 but it amassed $5.5 MILLION! Was it worth it?

YES, A MILLION TIMES!

During the Industrial Revolution, Mirium, an orphan who has the alchemist curse which causes the body to crystalize brought on by a ritual performed by the alchemist guild, goes after her friend Gebel who is trying to summon demons to destroy the world.

While not a particularly strong story, there are plenty of memorable characters and the setting is awesome. While it’s not Dracula’s Castle (trying not to get sued by Konami even though Dracula is public domain) there is still a castle filled with all the horror monster we know from Castlevania.

The gameplay itself is the usual Metroidvania game Castlevania fans love with a few tweaks. There’s item/weapon/armor crafting and shards. Shards are basically magic that you acquire from enemies. They get stronger by upgrading them and by how many you have. While there are a lot, you’ll on;y stuck with a handful of the ones you need to get through the castle and whatever attack spell you prefer. There are also familiar shards that summon a familiar to help you. These familiars do decent damage depending on which ones you use and its level.

As with previous games, there’s a lot to explore with a ton of secrets that require different shards to find. These secrets aren’t crazy hard to find as long as you do a bit of exploring and attacking every wall.

There was only one part of the game where I got and many others got stuck. Turns out you need to defeat a fish enemy in the underground area to get a shard that allows you to swim. Other than that, it’s pretty easy to know where to go next.

The bosses are the best thing about the gameplay. They are some of the most creative you’ll ever see in any Castlevania game. From a female vampire who fights with a parasol to a fricken SLOT MACHINE (!) there’s a ton of variety. They’re also super challenging so don’t expect anything easy.

Graphically, the game has a beautiful style. Not like the best graphical game but in terms of art direction. The enemies, characters and locations have this great look to them that it’s pretty hard to describe in words. OR course, there are the generic monsters that look bland but that’s to be expected.

Sound-wise, the music is OK. Not as memorable as the previous games but there are some tracks that are worth listening to. There’s the option to choose between English or Japanese voice acting. Both have their strengths and weaknesses and it really all goes down to preference. In the English version, Zangetsu is voiced by the legendary David Hayter.

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night is well worth the $5.5 million that backers gave to the Kickstarter. While the story is and sound are OK, the gameplay and graphics more than makeup for them. This is the Castlevania game fans wanted and it on;y took one Konami’s employees to quit and go out on his own to make it.

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A Nightmare on Elm Street Series Review

I have a confession: I’m a 36-year-old male who is still afraid of Freddy Kreuger. I’ll wait until you’re finished laughing.

Right, this fear came about when I saw (I think) Nightmare on Elm Street 4 when I was six. My sisters or my mom (don’t remember) were watching this and I decided to watch too. I had a nightmare (or twenty) after that. That doesn’t mean I never went back and watched the movies. Hell, as an adult I decided to finally watch every Nightmare on Elm Street movie.

The first movie is a great introduction to the series. It introduces the basic setup of every Nightmare movie to follow: teenagers are having nightmares about a demon who wears a striped shirt, dirty hat and had a glove with razor-sharp blades on them. If you die in the dream, you die in real life. While not as many deaths as the later films, the deaths are nicely done and are creepy. Hell, that blood geyser is still one of the best-looking things in cinema. Also, Freddy in this movie is a lot creepier than in the sequels. It’s obvious why this movie did so well.

The second movie is the worst out of all of them. It’s about a teenager who is being controlled by Freddy and it looks like he’s killing people and not him. It’s not worth talking about since the plot makes little sense, the scares and deaths are terrible.

Nightmare 3 is the best out of all of them. Here, we have teenagers who are all in a mental institute for suicidal teens and they’re all being chased by Freddy. The deaths in this movie are all creative, we learn a little more about Freddy, the acting is great. It’s just an overall great film.

Nightmare 4 was the one that scared me at six. After watching it as an adult, it’s OK. The deaths aren’t as creative and this is where Freddy starts to become a lot more comedic and less scary. It’s still worth watching, though.

Nightmare 5 is bad. This is where the series starts to really go downhill. The kills aren’t that great, the lore starts to become too convoluted and it’s obvious the studio was running out of ideas.

Nightmare 6, AKA Freddy’s Dead, The Final Nightmare is just balls to the walls silly. How silly? There’s one scene where a teenager’s house is falling from the sky and Freddy comes in on a flying broomstick and witches hat and says, “I’ll get you my pretty, and your little soul too.” That’s way too funny and silly to say that this is a horror movie.

Finally, there’s Wes Craven’s New Nightmare. This movie takes place in the real world where Heather Langenkamp, the actress from the first movie who defeated Freddy the first time, has to deal with Freddy in the real world. The movie keeps you guessing on whether Freddy is real or if Heather is just imagining things.

As an adult, I’m not that scared of Freddy but still have nightmares about him (nightmares that I can make into my own movies if the series didn’t have copyright.) In fact, I can bravely say that Nightmare on Elm Street is my favorite horror movie franchise and Freddy is my favorite monster. Yes, the series goes downhill but they’re still fun and they knew when to stop (unlike another slasher series…)

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Three Skeleton Key Review

I’m one of those weird people who has a few favorite stories/novels that they first read in school and loved. While I’ve gone on and on about The Giver and its sequels, let me introduce to a short story that my fourth-grade class read and I still read it to this day: Three Skeleton Key by George G. Toudouze.

The story is about three lighthouse workers on an island called Three Skeleton Key who one day get attacked by a boat filled with water rats. Now they have to figure out a way off the island or stop the rats.

This story interests me because it’s such a simple story with a real terror. These men aren’t superheroes or anything like that. They’re just normal lighthouse workers with families and normal lives. The horror is unique because it’s something anyone can experience. Imagine being a situation where you’re surrounded by large rats with nowhere to escape. You’re pretty much dead.

Rats are a great element in horror because they work in packs, carry diseases, carry vermin on their backs and their teeth can gnaw through most objects. Rats are also real. Ghosts, zombies, vampires, demons and aliens may be horror staples, but they’re not real. Rats on the other hand are and there have been real-life stories of rats completely wrecking entire towns. In fact, they’re one of the major reasons one-third of Europe died in the 1300s in what we today called the Black Death.

Toudouze’s writing also helps with the story. His writing brings out the gravity of the situation and doesn’t hold any punches. Plus it reads like how a lighthouse worker would talk. Plain, everyday language of a blue-collar worker. This is ironic seeing how the best version of this story is from the radio drama Suspense performed by Vincent Price, a man that’s been known to love high everything.

Still, Vincent Price did an amazing job of performing this story. Actually, anything performed by Vincent Price is amazing. Have a listen to him in anything, but especially Three Skeleton Key. Once you’ve done that, read this story for yourself. It’s only ten pages long and worth reading over and over again, especially to that one relative/friend who’s scared to death of rats.

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Let’s Talk About The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

Ever Since Washington Irving published The Legend of Sleepy Hollow in 1820 his iconic monster The Headless Horseman has been a major part of American folklore. In fact, the town of Sleepy Hollow New York (which used to be called North Tarrytown but changed it to Sleepy Hollow in 1996) makes a ton of money every Halloween from that legend. They’re very proud of it.

There are a few things about that story though.

Firstly, people only talk about the Headless Horseman man talking about the story. The horseman only appears in the last few pages of the story. The majority of the story is about Ichabod Crane trying to get married to Katrina Van Tassel and making sure Abraham “Brom Bones” Van Brunt doesn’t. We don’t get to see anything relating to hosts until Crane goes to a party where people are telling ghost stories and the big one was about The Headless Horseman.

If that’s the case why has it endured for almost two centuries? When you look at it, this is a tale of a guy from New York City heading north to a small town that’s completely different than NYC to be a schoolmaster and then falls for a local girl because daddy’s rich and is willing to fight the local boy for her hand. Think about that: Crane wanted to marry Katrina for money.

Ichabod Crane is a dick.

He does get his just deserts when The Headless Horseman kills him/spirits him away/makes him run back to NYC in the middle of the night on the bridge. So in essence, this can be taken as an American morality story saying that creed will lead you nowhere. Or, to put it another way, what goes around comes around.

As far as reading the story, it’s that late 18th/early19th Century super dry/formal writing that many 21st Century writers can’t get into. While that may be the case, the story is also pretty short. It’s only about 20-25 pages depending on what edition you’re reading. However, there is substance to the story. It creates a picture of how life was like in small New York State villages in the early 19th Century. In fact, the only thing that’s different today is technology and clothes. You go anywhere north of New York City today and you’ll be confused. New York State is so diverse (and gorgeous, especially in the fall) that NYC just feels like a red-headed stepchild.

And that is what Irving tried to do with this story. Not write a ghost story, but write a tale that shows the big city mixing with small-town life can be a negative but the soul of small-town life wins out. Take that how you may.

With that, read Washington Irving’s tale or even watch the many adaptations that were made about it. If you can, and love Halloween, head on over to Sleepy Hollow itself and see the town for yourself. Just don’t expect the town to be creepy looking. It’s just a normal 21st Century town with spooky legend. NYC has a LOT more ghosts and don’t get me started with Savanah Georgia or New Orleans.

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Ice Nine Kills: The Silver Scream Album Review

If there’s one thing that’s lacking during Halloween is good Halloween songs. The majority of people only know about the Monster Mash, which gets pretty annoying quickly, and anything that has to do with Disney (Nightmare Before Christmas included.) Of course, the metal and punk bands have horror down. One of the more recent bands to create an entire album based on horror movies is Ice Nine Kills with their 2018 and most recent album The Silver Scream.

First the great things. The album starts off strong with The American Nightmare (A Nightmare on Elm Street.) It starts off with a 1950s PSA about the importance of sleep. Big props to INK for adding screams and the poem from the movies. The song has a ton of energy and is a song you’d see people moshing to.

Thank God It’s Friday (Friday the 13th) starts off with a camp sing-along about Camp Crystal Lake followed by a chee chee chee ha ha ha from the singer. Oh, and clips of Mrs Voorhees from the movies are heard in certain parts. Nice touch. The lyrics pretty much sum up why Jason came back and what happens in the movies. That may sound lame but it’s actually amazing.

Savages (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) sounds like an anthem the characters from the movie would sing. Of course, most people will call this sound the “let’s sell this album to the mainstream with this harmless song.” It’s not a terrible song, but it won’t appease many.

The album ends with one of three songs that get airplay (the others are American Nightmare and Savages): IT Is the End (Stephen King’s IT.) It’s Pennywise the Clown singing, going back and forth between nice clown to “I’LL KILL YOU AND THEN EAT YOU WHOLE!” clown. He even sings to Georgie as the beginning with Georgie saying a few lines. It’s pure evil with a TON of energy and “we all float down here” repeated at the end. Best song on the album, hands down.

There are two “slow” songs: A Grave Mistake (The Crow) and Love Bites (An American Werewolf in London.) Both songs are, like the rest of the album, above-average. One positive thing you can say is that both songs are full of emotion with Love Bites being the better song.

With that, Ice Nine Kills brings a great album full of songs that are inspired by horror movies. While most of the songs are above-average, the awesome songs mentioned make this album worth listening to any time of year.

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Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem (GameCube) Review

Have you ever had the feeling that there are beings that you can’t comprehend out there who are fighting each other for supremacy? Well then, you have just experienced a phenomenon we in the industry call Cthulhu syndrome. Ever since HP Lovecraft’s The Call of Cthulhu in 1928 was published in the February 1928 issue of Weird Tales the Cthulhu Mythos has been used in a ton of movies, novels, and even video games. One of my favorite and most creative uses is the 2002 Nintendo Gamecube game Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem.

Alexandra Roivas is called to her uncle’s mansion in Rhode Island after her grandfather is mysteriously murdered. After finding a book called The Tome of Eternal Darkness where she finds that humans and ancient gods have been having a secret war with each other for eons.

That’s where the Cthulhu mythos comes in. The game’s story has humans going against ancients that are super creepy looking and can even destroy humanity if they wanted to (and they do.) The characters themselves are hit or miss. Alex, of course, is there throughout the game and you do learn more about the Roivas family and how Alex is reacting to each new revelation. Then there are the characters that you forget like Ellia and Paul Luther.

One of the original things about this game is that as you progress you take control of twelve different characters from different years and countries, each with their own strengths, weaknesses and weapons. This does bring up the fact that the earlier characters are harder than the later characters because they don’t have access to the spells as the later characters do. Also, your best weapons are melee weapons because this game allows you to target enemy limbs which temporarily stun then and take away much of their arsenal.

That doesn’t mean the game itself is easy. There are still plenty of puzzles that you need to solve and there certain battles where you fight two super tough enemies. Hell, there’s one that’s a gauntlet.

Now, for the thing the game is well known for: sanity effects. The game has a sanity meter that goes down every time you see an enemy and restores when you finish off an enemy or cast a healing spell. The lower your sanity meter is, the more effects you encounter (and some that are scripted.) Of course, if you want the full experience of the game, keep the meter low but remember that you will lose health when your meter is zero.

A game can’t be called a game if there aren’t any graphics. For a Gamecube game, Eternal Darkness looks amazing. The character designs are great for their time, the backgrounds, especially the Roivas mansion, look great. The only problem is you will be revisiting the same four locations: Roivas mansion,  a temple in Angkor Wat, a temple in Persia and Oublié Cathedral. You do see how each setting changes as time goes on, however.

As far as the sound goes, a great horror game needs a great soundtrack. The music that plays throughout the game gives great atmosphere and each location has its own music. I’m not sure if Oublié Cathedral has music playing or it’s so forgettable that I forgot it exists.

“What about tank controls,” you may be asking. This game doesn’t have em. Hell, there are shortcuts for the spells which is an added plus. You don’t even need to hold down a button to ready your weapon to attack, but I don’t recommend that at all. It does get old whenever you have to open the menu to change weapons and use items, but it’s not that big a deal.

Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem is an awesome Gamecube horror game that’s sadly now getting the attention it deserves. There were a sequel and prequel planned, but both are now kaput. If you can find it for under $50,  give this game a chance and play it during this Halloween season.

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Big Tits Zombie Review

Let me get this out of the way: This movie is NOT a porno. It’s an over-the-top Japanese zombie movie.

Not that that’s out of the way, Big Tits Zombie is a 2010 zombie movie based on a manga called Kyonyuu Dragon which translates to “Big Tits Dragon.” What the hell’s with all the tits? Well, the movie’s about a bunch of strippers (or “exotic dancers” if you will) in a small, backwater town who find a secret passage in their dressing room that leads to some ancient temple. There, one of them finds a book that she reads and causes everyone in town to become zombies. Now, these strippers/dancers have to survive a zombie apocalypse.

Here’s the thing about this movie. It starts off super slow. We don’t get to see any zombies until the thirty-minute mark. That half-hour is just the strippers complaining about being bored. After that, we get some major zombie action mixed in with some super messed up scenes. One of my favorites is when one of the strippers turns and fire comes out of her…um…you know.

Now, this is not a good movie at all. It has corny writing, bad acting, bad CGI bad everything. Even the ending makes zero sense. However, I have said for years that I would defend this movie, why? Simple it’s one of those so bad it’s good movies. All you need is a couple of friends who are in the right mood, put this on, laugh and have a good time. It’s like a mystery Science Theater 3000 movie where it gets better with when more people watch it with you and laugh at it.

Clear whatever notions you have about this movie because, while it does everything wrong as far as how to make a good movie, it’s still stupid fun to watch. Again I will continue to defend this movie as a stupid fun movie when you get together with friends and make fun of it. It’s not high cinema or something snobs would watch, but I will tell people to watch it and have fun.

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Demonata Series Review

Back in 2014, I reviewed the book series, movie and manga of Cirque Du Freak by Darren Shan. Five years later, and I can’t believe I haven’t touched upon his followup series Demonata. So for my little Halloween marathon, I’m reviewing the series.

Grubbs Grady is just a normal teenager who day his parents drop him off to his aunt unceremoniously. Sneaking out to go back home, he finds his parents and sister were doing some kind of weird ritual that resulted in them being brutally killed. There’s also a demon named Lord Loss who apparently brutally killed. This results in a Grubbs being thrown into an ancient war between the Grady family and demons.

You thought Cirque Du Freak was messed up, you ain’t seen anything yet. This series piles on the gore and the body by the THOUSANDS! Besides that, this storyline is actually better than Cirque Du Freak. Don’t get me wrong. I loved Cirque Du Freak, but this series feels a lot better written.

The characters, the stakes, the lore, the enemies and even the ending work better here. Remember how I hated the ending to Cirque Du Freak? Well, this one for me is much better. Yes, some people will see it as a cop, but if you remember all the details and who Grubbs and the other two main characters are (not going to spoil the other two because they arrive later) you’ll see that it’s an appropriate ending.

I have to talk about the original hardcover covers of this series. While some are ok, some are amazing. The best ones are Bec (now THAT is a creepy cave) Death’s Shadow and especially Hell’s Heroes. It’s a skull that has the three main leads making up the skull. Now that is some great artwork. The paperback covers, on the other hand, are generic. They went from amazing and creepy to basic YA covers. Why? I understand needing new covers for new editions but they couldn’t do similar ideas like the hardcovers?

Darren Shan followed up Cirque Du Freak with a  series that is the better of the two big series from him. While Cirque Du Freak was great, Demonata shows that Shan has improved with his writing especially with the ending.

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