Month: January 2018

  • 📂

    Thoughts on A Nightmare on Elm Street

    A Nightmare on Elm Street is one of the most recognisable titles in cinema – as is it’s villain, and star, Freddy Krueger. I felt the urge to re-watch this film after my recently-formed gaming obsession with Dead By Daylight. I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that much of the film still holds up to modern viewing.

    What is A Nightmare on Elm Street about?

    A Nightmare on Elm Street follows four high-school kids, who are all experiencing almost identical nightmares. Nightmares about a mysterious burnt man in an old jumper and hat with knives for fingers. This figure is none other than one of cinema’s most charismatic antagonists – Freddy Krueger.

    Freddy has long been dead, but has since returned to feed on children’s fear within their dreams in order to kill them. While alive, Freddy was exclusively a child killer – and possibly worse in the originally draft – which makes him one of the most despicable of his contemporary killers. Yet, perhaps intentionally, this is juxtaposed with his bouncy, playful actions and the fact that through the course of his films people have come to regard Freddy as a “cool character”.

    It isn’t long until one of the children Freddy is hunting, Nancy, takes it upon herself to stand up and fight back against him. This ultimately leads to a showdown where you’ll want to throw your fists up and shout “Fuck Yer, Nancy!”.

    The Effects still hold up

    When the Matrix came out in 1999 it blew most people away with its cutting-edge, computed-generated, effects. Less than ten years later and those effects sure did start to look dated – more so now. However, with films that focused on created actual physical effects, this dated effect is lessened quite substantially in my opinion.

    A Nightmare on Elm Street, although cheesy in parts, still holds up strongly with its physical effects. Especially those bedroom death scenes from both the start and end of the film. R.I.P. Johnny. And Freddy is every bit as menacing and full of charisma as I’d remembered from watching it years ago.

    It’s great when modern films take a leaf out of the books of films like this one. You really can’t beat the authenticity of good-old physical effects. Especially in horror.

    A personal favourite favourite of mine of all the film’s effects, is when Nancy is asleep at Tina’s house. Freddy can be seen pushing his way through the over-arching bedroom wall from the other side. And although it’s not too difficult to work out how this could be achieved it is still effing terrifying and highly effective.

    Freddy is still rock n roll

    Freddy Krueger is one of those pop culture horror icons who sits beside all of the greats. He sits with characters such as Michael Myers; Pinhead; Jason and Leatherface. He was played so perfectly by Robert Englund and like Doug Bradley for pinhead, will always be tightly linked to his seminal role.

    Interestingly what differs Freddy from many of his contemporaries, is his sense of humour and playfulness with his victims. Michael Myers was a silent shape in the darkness; Jason too was silent; Pinhead spoke only in a deep, almost poetic manner. But Freddy just toys with his victims in his cheeky, tormenting way.

    Freddy has been a really fun villain to revisit and I’m looking forward to re-watching the other films too. This includes one I’ve never seen before – Wes Craven’s New Nightmare. I’ve heard good things about it so will get a hold of that when I can.

    In Summary

    A great horror film that I think still holds strong today. Wes Craven unknowingly created an icon that would go on to become a household name – like Kellogg’s Corn Flakes and Coca Cola.

    If you’ve never before seen A Nightmare on Elm Street, I urge you to give it a watch. Yes there are some aspects of it that will be dated, such as the fashions and the acting in places. But this really is an important horror film like all of the top films lists repeat. You wont sleep easy till you watch this film.


  • 📂

    Black Paradox

    What is Black Paradox about?

    Black Paradox follows four characters who meet on a group suicide website. We join them as they are meeting in person for the first time, in preparation for performing their suicide together. After their failed attempt, one of them starts regurgitating large shiny balls that he says are from a “Dazzling world”. Yer I know – stay with me.

    As the story progresses, we discover that this Dazzling World is in fact the spirit world. The shiny balls that they are able to acquire from this spirit world become very sort after in the real world. They end up calling this material ‘Paradonite’. Paradonite has huge amounts of stored energy within, as some find to their horror.

    As each of them learns their own access points into the spirit world, a doctor tries to capitalise on it. He helps them to fulfil their odd destinies as a way to help the future of the human race. Within his mansion, he sets up an underground lab where these events are studied and ultimately normalised.

    Body Horror

    Black Paradox is a good introduction to the body horror artwork that Junji Ito is famous for creating. It’s a bit milder than a lot of his stories, but there are still some things in here to keep the most ravenous of Ito fans placated.

    Each of the four main characters accesses the spirit world through the manipulation of a particular body part. Piitan’s Pylorus, the body part that normally connects the stomach to the small intestine, connects him to the spirit world. The other characters later discover that they too can access that world, but in even more stranger ways.

    One person’s face is their gateway and must have it removed before it destroys her. Another has a small tumour in their brain which must be removed. While a third accesses it through their own shadow. If I only say one thing about Junji Ito, it’s that he has an imagination like no other.

    Are people just resources?

    Interesting in Black Paradox is its looks into the darker sides of human nature. The side that will try to advance through the pain of others. Once the first of the four starts uncontrollably regurgitating the Paradonite, one of them immediately wants to use its high value for their own financial gain. Then later, once the doctor has them all under his roof, he uses them simply as a means to get hold of more of the material “For humanity’s sake”.

    However, after seeing a vision of the world’s future, one of them learns how the continued mining for Paradonite is actually detrimental to the future of humanity – real people, specifically. But with the planet’s growing reliance on the material for its energy, the doctor keeps them on the path that may ultimately lead to destruction.

    I couldn’t help but find parallels between our own world and the future Paradonite-dependant world of Black Paradox. The way in which the materials are used for the apparent greater good, but at the expense of many real people in the process of acquiring it. Whether such parallels were intended by Junji Ito I don’t know, but anything that sheds light on such things is a good thing in my mind. I wont spoil the story by saying just how they are affected, but affected they are.

    In Summary

    Black Paradox was a very enjoyable read for me. Although not specifically a horror manga story, it does have many elements and drawing styles that veer on that side of the road. It felt to me to be like an origin story for this group of four, who ultimately refer to themselves collectively as Black Paradox. I’d even go so far as to say that this was Junji Ito’s ‘Fantastic Four’.


  • 📂

    She is a Slow Walker

    Finally I get to board up the windows. When the zombies come, the zombie buffs will be the last standing!

    Shinichi seems almost excited about the impending doom — She is a slow walker

    She is a Slow Walker — Synopsis

    The story centres around Shinichi and his girlfriend Yumi. We join them in mid argument about what the best type of zombie is — slow or fast. Shinichi is of the opinion that faster moving zombies are the better ones. Whereas Yumi is a firm fan of George A. Romero and favours the classic slow-moving zombies. Not two seconds after storming out in anger, Yumi runs back in, having just been bitten by a zombie.

    It turns out that the world outside has quickly evolved into chaos, with the infected attacking the living right outside their door. They lock themselves inside in the relative safe, but Yumi has already been bitten and they both suspect she’ll soon turn.

    Once she inevitably turns, luckily for Shinichi, she is of the slow-moving type. She would be happy with herself with that, I think. But she’s not only slow, she’s extremely slow; taking ages to move even an inch. After Shinichi has a close call after overestimating his own safety, the two of them reach their final destination. The ending is a complete left turn and I couldn’t help but smile at it.

    Part of the I am a Hero universe

    When I first read ‘She is a Slow Walker’ I thought it was it’s own story in it’s own little universe. But I have since discovered that it is, in fact, part of the much larger universe from the manga ‘I am a Hero’.

    I am a Hero‘ is a long-running zombie manga series by Kengo Hanazawa. It is about a man finding himself trying to survive in a post-apocalyptic zombie world. I haven’t read it yet but I was vaguely aware of it before hand.

    What Junji Ito’s story does is focus in on one couple and their particular story, within the overarching ‘I am a Hero’ world. Presumably this is separate from the main narrative of ‘I am a Hero’. However, I haven’t read it yet so can’t confirm this. But what I can confirm is that this story is freakin’ awesome.

    In Conclusion

    It takes a special kind of person to find grotesque gore in fiction sometimes funny, and I think I may be one of those people. Although things don’t go great for our characters, this story does have a great level of humour, especially in it’s closing scene.

    This one isn’t for the faint of heart, but it’s also not one of Junji Ito’s most graphic works. ‘She is a Slow Walker’ is a fun little story that you may not have come across from Ito before now. Not only does it have the power to gross you out, but it may just have you laughing out loud at those very same panels.

    You can find this story in the book “8 Tales of the ZQN“. However, if you don’t read Japanese, you can rad a translated version here. (Please always support the author where you can buy purchasing his works where available — Thank You).


  • 📂

    Hellstar Remina

    Remina looked me right in the eye! Remina knows about us, knows we’re here! That’s why… it’s coming for us…

    One scientist is driven mad by the new planet — Hellstar Remina

    What is Hellstar Remina about?

    One evening, while watching the night sky, an astronomer discovers a mysterious new planet that seems to have just appeared from nowhere. He soon believes that it has appeared from out of a distant wormhole sixteen light years away. He names this new planet Remina, after his only daughter — his sixteen years old daughter.

    The daughter Remina, who coincidentally is the same age as the planet – sixteen* , becomes an overnight star due to her new namesake. Fan clubs are popping up all over the world and people scramble in the streets just to see her. The world is obsessed with Remina!

    *The new planet is sixteen light years away, which means it takes the light sixteen years to get to us. This means that at the point of it appearing to the astronomer, sixteen years would have passed since it actually appeared. So it must have appeared around the time of his daughters birth.

    In the night sky

    While the world is obsessing over the girl, the new planet is observed as taking a very strange, irregular path across the distant sky. Not only that, but the stars it seems to come into contact with disappear as the planet approaches. It isn’t long until the planet seems to stop still completely, which leads the astronomers to hypothesise only one thing. They believe that this can only mean that the planet is now heading straight for Earth.

    As the planet becomes larger, as it approaches the Earth at speed, the population’s thirst for the girl’s love quickly becomes a thirst for her blood. She becomes the sole target of a full-on witch hunt. The people believe that killing her will stop the impending doom that the new planet threatens them all.

    What follows is an extremely harrowing experience for Remina and the few who are still trying to keep her safe. The growing hordes of angry people stop at nothing to get hold of the girl and hold her accountable for their fate.

    A microcosm of organised religion

    What I found most interesting about Hellstar Remina, was the people’s actions and beliefs towards the girl. When the new planet was a thing of awe and wonder, she was revered as such. However, once the planet seemed to pose an immediate threat, they directed their fear and anger directly at the only thing they could seemingly control — her. All of this because her father named the planet after her.

    There is no evidence to support a connection between Remina the girl and Remina the planet. However, cast-iron beliefs are held that destroying her will ultimately destroy this evil planet. Even within the mobs of people there is a small sect of believers, dressed in spiritual robes, who believe that sacrificing her in a particular way will stop the planet.

    To me this story is like a microcosm of organised religion, taken to the extremes in a way that only Junji Ito knows how. That’s not to say that I believe organised religions are necessarily bad – that’s not what I am saying. What I am saying is it’s interesting how an organised group of people come together under a common belief, to perform an act that they all believe will save them. Even though there is never any proof in this — they are all acting on faith.

    Mob Rule

    The most shocking things in this story are not necessarily what the mysterious planet does, although it does get pretty crazy. For me, the most shocking actions come from the people and what they put this girl through. Remina gets beaten, dragged through the streets and strung up on a crucifix — as shown in the opening pages.

    Whether they love her or hate her, people’s emotions are always taken to the extremes by those who are near her. It’s often hard to remember that Remina is a sixteen year old girl. But when you do, it makes her struggle all the more harder to endure at times.

    Summary

    Another great story from Junji Ito — one of my favourite in fact — not that I’ve ever found a bad story of his. There is less on the usual body horror front and more of a look at the human psychology surrounding the story’s events.

    A world-eating planet and the things people will do to try and stop it based on nothing but their faith.

    The story is told in 7 chapters and the official collection will also include a favourite one shot story of mine: Army of One.

    This book would make an incredible introduction to Junji Ito’s work if you are new to him. Or perhaps you have read it unofficially online and would now like to own your own official copy. Then you could experience Hellstar Remina in the way it was always meant to be.


  • 📂

    Army of One

    Gather round, people. All together now! Nobody likes a lonely only. Everyone’s your friend, everyone’s your friend. When you join hearts and sing – Army of one, We’re an army of one!

    The mysterious radio broadcast

    What is Army of One about?

    Army of one follows some friends trying to organise their school reunion in the midst of a new killing spree. The killing spree involves victims being found in different places all sewn together. The number of people found sewn together grows exponentially as the story quickly moves forward.

    Michio is a boy who hasn’t really left his bedroom for seven years. He prefers the solitary lifestyle in his family home. When he is called upon one day by a girl from his school year, he reluctantly begins mingling with his school peers once again – albeit briefly. The girl, Natsuko, is organising their school year’s reunion and coming of age party, which by definition will involve a large group of people. This can only end badly.

    It isn’t long before some of those friends start to become victims of these “stitch murders”. People quickly realise that the safest place to be is alone.

    An interesting spin on a horror trope

    Normally in horror, of most kinds, the safest place to be is together. As soon as someone goes off alone, more often than not, they are picked off. Army of One spins that on its head, however, in that the victims are all people who go off in groups. It is actually safer to be alone in this world, which I think would have interesting consequences in the wider world had this been a larger story.

    It is touched upon with the mention of phones soon to be cut off and networks potentially going down. If everybody was afraid to be in groups just imagine what that would do to society. Families would start becoming separated; people would cease going to work; people would be afraid to even go shopping. The world would go to hell.

    In Summary

    This is one of my favourite stories by famed Mangaka Junji Ito. It has great pacing and creates an interesting world, which I’d have loved to see expanded upon. That being said, Ito does use the lesser page count – thirty seven pages by my reckoning – to great effect. He gets straight into the situation of the “Stitch Murders” and escalates it at a really good pace.

    You’ll never want to be in a group again.


  • 📂

    Interview with Katy Bentz (Steph Gingrich in Life is Strange Before the Storm)

    Life is Strange Before the Storm re-acquainted us with some of the characters we had come to love from the original game. But not only that, we got introduced to some new characters also. A favourite of a lot of peoples, myself included, was Steph Gingrich. She’s the girl who you really need to take the time and play D&D with in episode 1.

    Steph is played brilliantly by the talented, and always-funny, Katy Bentz. Katy has been building up quite the following, which includes too her growing YouTube channel. Every video she makes is a joy to watch. I was blessed to be able to send Katy some questions – a lot of the same questions that I also asked in my recent Interview with Kylie Brown – that she very quickly replied back with.

    The Interview

    Please tell us about yourself in as many or as little words as you like.
    I am an actor living in Los Angeles, California. Just passed my year mark of living in the city of hustle! I’m outgoing, independent, determined, strong-willed, caring, and passionate. I enjoy to find the simple things in life, as silly as that may sound. We can get so caught up in our day-to-day life that we forget about walks around the block, or watching the sunset. My favorite color is blue and I love Dolphins! ?
    What is your favourite Book?
    Not much of a reader, but I read White Oleander for one act in high school and I really enjoyed it. I do love to read self helps books though!
    What is your favourite Album?
    Omg! Too many. Probably a Say Anything Album. I love anything pop punk!
    What is your favourite Film?
    (500) Days of Summer anyone? ?
    What is your favourite TV Show?
    I really like That 70’s Show. The 100 and Under the Dome are some others I have really enjoyed.
    Do you have a favourite film/tv/musical soundtrack?
    Guardians of the Galaxy is awesome! But also The Legally Blonde Musical Soundtrack….I know I am all over the place!
    What poster / posters do you remember having on your walls growing up?
    I had way too many animal posters haha and these two weird ocean space posters…I know…interesting. Oh! And a Backstreet Boys poster where I circled Nick’s face and drew on the other members haha
    You’re walking somewhere and your mp3 player has only a little battery left; You’ve only got time for one more song. What song do you play?
    Oh man. Too many options. I get on song kicks, where I find songs and listen to them over and over until I can’t anymore haha, so I would say out of my current mix…Touch by Little Mix, such a feel good song!
    Was there any defining moment in your life when you knew that you wanted to be an actor and model?
    In High School when I was still finding my place amid being a teenager, I quit the dance team and joined the drama club and I’m not sure that that was when I knew I wanted to be an actor. But that was the moment where I felt like I could finally be myself and that my peers weren’t going to judge me. And that was the start of my passion for the arts and everything it stood for.
    What is the proudest moment of your career so far?
    Life is Strange: Before the Storm, hands down. I have never felt so amazing about a certain role and I get to see the affect this game and my character have on the players and it’s the greatest feeling.
    What advice would you give to your younger self?
    Works harder than you think you need to work.
    Growing up, who were your heroes?
    My mom and my peers around me. I never looked very far for influences in my life. My mom meant and still means a lot to me and I always look to her for guidance. One of my best friends in high school was two years older than me and in the drama club. She was someone I strived to be like. She is still my best friend to this day and someone I am riding this journey with, and it’s amazing.
    Who is your biggest influence in how you approach what you do today?
    My mom again haha and past and current relationships. I feel like the people I am closest with are the ones that see all of me and because they are close to me, they can be honest with me about things that I may need to do differently.
    If you could ask any person – living or passed – any question, who would it be and what would you ask them?
    Honestly, any elder person. And I would want to ask them what advice they’d give their 25 year old self.
    In Chloe Price’s journal she writes: “I can never decide if Steph is the coolest or nerdiest person in all of Blackwell.”. What would you say to that? Coolest or Nerdiest?
    Coolest!
    With Steph being a new character in the already established world of Arcadia Bay, did you feel any pressure in stepping into that world for the first time?
    Not at all! I didn’t know the story line prior to recording for Steph, so I came in with a fresh mind, ready to bring the character to life.
    Are there any causes / projects that you would like to raise an awareness of to the readers here?
    There aren’t specific projects or organizations off the top of my head, but I am a big supporter of anti-bullying projects and efforts. Bullying was a huge thing when I was growing up and I can only imagine what kids in schools are going through now.
    Could you tell us a joke?
    What’s a plumber’s favorite drug? Crack! I just made that up! Pretty good? haha