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Archive for October, 2010

One thing I like about Halloween is it gives me an excuse to watch a bunch of horror movies.  I’m going to try and watch at least one a week this month, mixing in some brand new stuff with some old classics.  This one is a classic that I’ve never seen before:

Horror of Dracula

As much as I like horror movies, I have to admit that this is the first Hammer horror film I’ve ever seen.  Despite the fact that it came out in 1958, it holds up really well.  Christopher Lee is a great malevolent presence as the Count, and Peter Cushing is a fantastic, if British, van Helsing.  It doesn’t stick to Bram Stoker’s original story, but I wouldn’t say that’s a weakness.  The Dracula legend has grown so much bigger than Stoker’s novel that, really, all you have to do is hit a few major points and the rest is free to experiment with.   Of course the movie is melodramatic and not very frightening by today’s standards, but it is very well done and highly enjoyable to watch.

My Dad recommended this to me as his favorite Dracula film.  Now I agree.  Christopher Lee’s take on Dracula is up there with the best if not at the top.

Also, is there a movie made before 1965 where a man does not, at some point, slap a hysterical woman?

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Tennis Tournament

Disappointed is too tame a word to describe how I feel about not playing in the Beebe Community Tennis singles tournament this weekend.  I’m crushed.  Especially since I played as confidently and well as I’ve ever played in my life at lessons Thursday night, and this year none of the big guns are playing.  There’s not a person in the tournament that I don’t think I can at least play with.  That’s not to say there aren’t a few that I would have to play my best tennis ever to make it past them, but I feel like I would at least have a shot at a close match with everyone.

It should be some exciting tennis.

The draws are posted here on the Badger Tennis website.  I’m going to pick Z. Kersey to win the Men’s and S. White to win the women’s.  But I do want to wish everyone luck.  Have fun out there.

I’ll be back in it next year.

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Happy Birthday!

Working on a project or not, I can’t let today pass without a post.  Today is my lovely wife’s birthday.  We’re going to celebrate by taking off work, getting our son’s picture taken, and go out to eat lunch together.  Basically a day off work for family togetherness.  What better way is there to spend a birthday?

Of course I got her some other stuff too.

I don’t know if she gets better every year, or if I just get a little wiser but I find that my love for her only grows with age.  She’s a wonderful person.

She has to be to put up with me.  From late October to mid-June her age happens to be one number higher than mine, and I like to point that out sometimes.  Maybe I’ll save that for the 28th and go easy on her tomorrow.

Happy Birthday, Nancy!  I hope you like my gifts!

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Won’t be hearing much out of me for a couple of days.  I’ve got a big project with a deadline, and what I mean by that is that I have something that I’ve been meaning to do for a long time, it takes a while to do it, and I’ve put it off too long already.  Now I want to finish it by Thursday.  In summary:  haven’t quit blogging, just busy.

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I saw this article in my Yahoo news.   Here’s my favorite passage:

The company’s business plan stated “it is the goal of the board of directors of Bible.com to become very, very profitable,” according to court documents. The business was also to be governed in accordance with Christian business principles.

I have trouble with the concept of Christian business principles, and I really have trouble reconciling the two statements above.  Also, is it really necessary in your business plan to state that your goal is “to become very, very profitable,”.  Are there businesses out there who plan to spend all of their capital, do mediocre business, and fail in the first year?

While you ponder that I’ll leave you with Bible.com’s article on the dangers of Pokemon.   It came from Japan, and we all know that Satan and Japan are super tight.

Hurry and read it while it’s still free.

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Let’s take a break from horror and read something there’s a good chance nobody cares about.  The subject of this week’s random Wikipedia article is:

Overheard in New York.

What luck.  The random article is another blog that’s probably smarter, funnier, and better than mine in every other way.  They’re popular enough to get their own Wikipedia article!   I’m excited when I break 100 hits in a day.  Blogging’s for suckers.

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When I was feeling uninspired the other day, Smokey brought up the idea of an annotated list of my top horror movies in honor of Halloween.   I decided that I shouldn’t limit myself to only movies.  There are great horror stories told in other media I enjoy as well – namely books and video games.   This is a list of favorite games not best games.  I can’t possibly do a best horror games list since there are tons of horror themed games out there that I’ve never played.  Also, there are a couple of games on my list that I fully recognize aren’t widely considered great games.  So I stick with favorites.  I use one game to represent a series (i.e. Resident Evil 2 stands for the whole franchise), and I try and cover a wide range of genres, although sports games and real-time strategy games are horribly under-represented.

I think video games are uniquely suited to horror.  Horror is only effective if you are immersed in the situation, and  physically controlling the protagonist in a video game can be an advantage in heightening that necessary tension.  So here are my favorite horror video games.

Dead Rising – It’s more campy than scary, but you basically get to play Dawn of the Dead in game form.  You’re in a mall fighting zombies – tons and tons of zombies – and everything in every store that isn’t nailed down is a weapon.  The controls are a little sketchy and the escort missions drive you nuts, but who can’t love a game where you fight a clown wielding dual chainsaws?

Doom 3 – Researchers on a Mars station have opened a portal to Hell and you have to fight what comes out.  It’s a first person shooter, and the bad guys are all pretty disturbing being from Hell and all.  The problem is that an enemy can randomly pop up from anywhere at anytime, and they mostly do this right behind you.   No game has kept me on the edge of my seat or frayed my nerves like this one.

Castlevania – An action side-scroller where the boss battles include a giant bat, Medusa, mummies, Frankenstein’s monster and Igor (I hated this fight), Death, and of course Dracula himself.   I can’t think of another game that crams in more iconic horror monsters than Castlevania.

F.E.A.R. – A first person shooter that begins with a mission to track down a telepathic murderer and end up chasing the ghost of what appears to be a young girl, and all the while you’re haunted by creepy visions.  The atmosphere is suitably very well done, and when you aren’t in gun battles you’re tensed up and wondering when reality will give way to the next vision.

Sanitarium – This game starts off disturbing when you wake with amnesia in a mental hospital with sirens blaring, patients wandering around, and not a sane person in sight, and then it only plunges deeper.  You divide your time between the reality of the Sanitarium and the delusions of your subconscious – or is that the other way around.

Eternal Darkness: Sanity’s Requiem – A third person action-adventure where you play a variety of characters fighting evil throughout history.  It’s wonderful for having a variety of levels – ancient Rome, Persia, Colonial America.   And it also has one of the most effective features of any horror game – the sanity meter.  Basically when you see monsters or get hurt your sanity meter drops, as it gets lower your character starts hallucinating.  This can take the form of bleeding walls, whispering voices, sudden fake deaths,  or distorted and skewed camera angles.  If it gets worse, it can even drag you into the game by faking glitches, hardware errors, or crashes.  Also, the story and game-play are excellent which always helps.

Phantasmagoria – A point-n-click adventure about a young couple who purchases a shambling old mansion only for the woman to accidentally unleash an ancient horror that possesses her husband.  Freaky things happen as she tries to figure out the secrets of the house and her husband goes slowly insane.  A lot of nostalgia goes into this pick, but I still like the story and the little touches in the house – cribs that rock themselves, a painting that forms little by little on a blank canvas, weird visions – create a great horror atmosphere.  Also, who knew the creator of the fun but benign King’s Quest series could create something so gory and intense?

Alone in the Dark – You’re alone, you’re low on ammo, and you’re stuck in a run down mansion crawling with monsters straight out of H.P. Lovecraft.  It’s the Father of survival horror games, and the reason we have Resident Evils and Silent Hills (plus all their various knock-offs).  It’s graphics are dated, but it’s still fun.

Clive Barker’s Undying – Truly one of the scariest games I’ve ever played.  It’s a first-person shooter in which you are called upon to wipe out the ghosts of siblings haunting a dying friends mansion.  You pack guns and magic, fight disturbing creatures, and cross planes of existence in the journey.  The best bits are right at the beginning when you’re exploring the mansion.  One of your spells allows you to ‘see’ the spirit world and besides your enemies you’ll also see pictures that make gruesome transformations, figures standing behind you in mirrors, and bodies hanging where they weren’t before.

Silent Hill 2: Restless Dreams – The word disturbing doesn’t do this game justice.  This game is an action-adventure, but beyond a few boss fights most of the action can be avoided by running, and believe me you will want to run when a cobbled together mannequin creature or a faceless nurse in bloody whites comes shambling out of the mist.   Even when the town is normal it’s creepy, but then the music changes and everything switches to a twisted, nightmare version of the town, and you start frantically searching for how to change it back.  Plus it has the most depressing ending of any video game ever, and the absolute most disturbing monster – Pyramid Head.

Resident Evil 2 – Not the best game in the series, that distinction goes to 4, but it is the scariest.  The second game in the Resident Evil series pits you as a local cop vs. a town taken over by zombies.  Most of the game takes place in a nearly empty police station, although getting there in the first place is pretty intense.  This is the game that introduced the licker – one of the most horrific monsters in any game on this list.  I have fond memories of playing this as a senior in high school with a couple of friends.  One of them had a big screen TV, and each night we sat up there in the dark and worked our way through this game over the course of a  couple of weeks.  That was my first experience with Resident Evil, and I’ve been a fan ever since.

Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers – It’s a murder mystery.  But since you’re investigating a series of seemingly voodoo related killings where the victims have had some important organs removed, and during the course of the investigation you stumble across the fact that you’re family line is dedicated to destroying evil, supernatural forces, I think it counts.  It helps that it’s genuinely scary, and the best point-and-click adventure game ever made.

 

There you go.  My favorite horror video games in honor of Halloween.  I realize that there are a lot out there I haven’t played, so feel free to ridicule/correct my picks in the comments section.  Or just recommend some great horror games for me to try!

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