by William Morgan
Martha’s head, Sammy’s tongue, Percy’s balls (not that he ever needed them. Spineless twit), Petunia’s nose (she started it), Katrina’s eyes (so beautiful, so innocent, walked in at the wrong time. Sorry,darlin’), Malcolm’s brain (now he’s really brainless!), Jennifer’s feet (phew, girl,they hum!), Mildred’s liver (pickled a lot, weren’t you, my dear?).
Send me a letter will you?
Dear Mr Blanchley.blah,blah, neighborhood association…mow your lawn….paint your house….mend fence…and for pity’s sake, WEED your garden!
I look at all the jars sitting on my mantel
Ya, done me weeding haven’t I?
Reviewed by Jess Landry
The chances of you being murdered by a serial killer, becoming a member of the dearly departed unable to crossover until you complete your unfinished business and teaming up with a psychic teen to solve your own murder (while preventing others from being murdered) are not very likely. So, if that sort of scenario tickles your fancy, why not live (and die) vicariously through Murdered: Soul Suspect?
You take the controls as Ronan O’Connor, a rough and tough detective on the mean streets of Salem armed with a troubled past and a devil-may-care attitude. You’re hot on the path of the Bell Killer, a notorious serial killer targeting young women around town. Just as you’re about to bust the perp and close the case, he kills you. Bummer.
However, before you can ascend to the pearly gates and reunite with your wife, Julia, you have some unfinished business to attend to. The case of the Bell Killer still needs solving and you find yourself navigating your ghostly presence through Salem’s haunted avenues, tracking the clues of the killer and following odd hints left around town by Abigail, a mysterious ghost girl who seems to know more than she lets on about the afterlife. As you piece together memories of your murder and the life you once had, your path crosses with Joy, a young girl on the search for her missing mother who just so happens to be able to communicate with the dead and also happens to be the next target on the Bell Killer hit list. The two of you join forces on this plain and beyond to uncover the truth about the murderer before he claims Joy as his next victim.
The game definitely has its positives, one of most prominent being the atmospheric streets of Salem. Each location within town (the usual suspects: church, cemetery, mental hospital, police station and museum) is nicely detailed which helps to add a heavy tension as you hone your new ghostly abilities and meet others in similar states of being. Random ghosts also appear throughout the entire game, always off in the distance of wherever you may find yourself and as you approach them, they promptly disappear. They serve no purpose other than to add to the ambiance and it comes off as a nice, spooky touch.
Starting the game, it’s difficult to remember that you are, in fact, a ghost and can walk through some walls and objects. The game tries to set ground rules as to what can and cannot be passed through by outlining the latter in a ghostly white hue. Regardless, I found myself heading towards doors more often than not. The developers did create a great way to showcase which walls are passable – the spiritual residue of others lingers on said walls, casting what looks like a salt water stain on them. It’s a great reminder that you are, indeed, otherworldly and that a wall is no longer a solid object in your present state.
The most disappointing aspect of this game is how easy it is. When I play a game, I want a challenge. I expect the blind fury that comes from trying over and over and over to beat a boss or puzzle and failing miserably until the only resolve that remains is cursing the day and Googling the walkthrough. That, and I expect to die. A few times. For me, it’s a half-decent game if it takes a few restarts to figure something out. Murdered only has two main threats – pits of hellfire with demonic hands reaching to pull you down if you happen to step on them (hint: don’t step on them) and demons. The demons are pretty creepy when you come across them and their ear-splitting screeches for the first time. Your job is to avoid them and, if you can, kill them. You can achieve both by hiding within the floating plasma sacks of others (similar to the leftover residue on the penetrable walls), which act as camouflage from the hellions. Once you’re inside a plasma sack, only then does the demonic creepiness dissipate. They look like they’re jogging in slow-motion, wind breezing through their satanic cloaks, one theme song short of running on the beach a la Chariots of Fire. To kill them, it’s as simple as running up from behind and grabbing them. If you try a frontal assault, they’ll see you and you’ll have to play a spectral game of hide and seek within the plasma sacks until they give up and go back to getting their slow-mo jog on. And that, my friends, is as tough as this game gets. Even the final boss requires less effort from the player than it does to take down a demon.
The side quests in Murdered require you to collect a certain item multiple times throughout each individual location. If you collect all the items, a story specific to that item is revealed. Yes, it’s as dull as it sounds considering the main story also requires you to collect evidence and other items. Also, Abigail, the ghost girl you first encounter after death, leaves cryptic drawings in the streets of Salem and around some locations for you to uncover, and just like everything else, finding the drawings becomes a chore. You can also pick up moments from Ronan’s past in your hunt for the Bell Killer, an attempt to make our hero a more relatable and sympathetic character, but again, collecting item after item gets awfully tedious.
The replay value of Murdered is not the greatest. The game runs like a straight line from A to B, offering no real reason for the gamer to dive back in, other than to collect side quest items you may have overlooked originally (I applaud your patience, if that’s something you choose to do). The short length of the game is also off-putting, having finished the main quest and some of the side quests in about eight hours.
The best part of the game is its concept – it’s imaginative, spooky and, at times, enjoyable, but the qualities are overshadowed by the lack of difficulty, low replay value and short length of gameplay. Murdered is an RPG that relies more on story than action, so if you’re the type that enjoys blowing stuff up and doing some murdering of your own, the chances of you getting a kick out of this game are as probable as the storyline itself.
Stan Winston’s Pumpkinhead A Flawed, But Memorable, Monster Movie
By Brian Engel
Monster movie classics have a wide range in creativity, strength of execution, and campiness. This was never more true than in the 1980s, when monsters more often than not took the form of human killing machines, rather than fantastical creatures. Pumpkinhead was one of the few exceptions.
In 1988, famed special effects god, Stan Winston made his directorial debut with the iconic monster film. Winston had previously made a name for himself as the go-to special effects guru to science fiction and horror films. He brought to life The Terminator, Aliens, Predator’s mandibled commando hunter, Edward Scissorhands‘ appendages, and Danny Devito’s gruesome visage as “The Penguin” in Batman Returns. He’s inspired several other makeup effects artists, with other makeup crews replicating some of his classic work in the the recent remake of The Thing.
Needless to say, no matter how Pumpkinhead turned out, with Winston at the helm the film was guaranteed to produce (if absolutely nothing else) a cool-looking monster. The film is hardly perfect, and that lends to its appeal, since the imperfections are largely what make films like this endearing to fans. Lance Henriksen led the cast of largely unknown actors in a movie that was more driven by creepiness and atmosphere than a coherent (or conceptually innovative) plot.
Although well known as a B-movie staple, Henriksen has had forays into A-list films, and his performance gives the film a sense of legitimacy. By this time, Henriksen had a strong working relationship with Stan Winston, with the two having also worked together on the sets of The Terminator and Aliens.
Pumpkinhead is set in a remote Appalachian village, and Henriksen is a father raising his son among a community of isolated eccentrics. When the son is killed in a senseless accident, Henrickson enlists the help of the local witch to exact revenge on the group of irresponsible teenagers that caused his son’s death.
The revenge comes in the form of a bizarre looking demonic creature whose body is harvested from the pumpkin patch in the local graveyard. The creature, a demon that can be conjured to do the bidding of its conjurer, is fairly original looking, although he does bear some resemblance to the titular alien from the Ridley Scott films, of which Winston developed the alien seen in the much-lauded sequel.
The film then follows the rampage of the newly resurrected demon of vengeance and the battle to contain it once again. Although the special effects are strong, the story is riddled with plot holes and curious occurrences that cannot be explained (but that hardly makes Pumpkinhead unique).
A Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the Thirteenth introduced cold-blooded monsters to audiences in human form, but Pumpkinhead thrust a new kind of monster into the horror world, making this film, and its creature, unique. In an age when masks and makeup were commonplace, Pumpkinhead deftly employed the use of puppetry and camera trickery .
Horror movie buffs have a “take it or leave it” attitude when it comes to this film. Some love the film and see at as a “so bad, it’s good” feature, while others simply view it as a bad movie with exceptional special effects. Critical response was mixed: many praised the special effects, and expressed dissatisfaction with the film’s writing and acting. However, the film has retained a loyal cult, and it’s enjoying newfound popularity thanks to regular screenings on the El Rey Network that was recently made available to Comcast and Direct TV subscribers (click here for more info), and late night screenings throughout the United States.
Pumpkinhead is distinguished from the rest of the pack by the quality of the special effects, which could only have been achieved by Winston’s genius and expertise in the field. Unlike science fiction classics Aliens and The Terminator, which bear the distinctive Winston effects, Pumpkinhead is purely horror. Was Winston a peer of Hitchcock, in terms of his mastery of the medium of film? Not quite. But this much is certain: he was one of the best visual effects specialists of his time, and he is sorely missed.
PETALUMA, CALIFORNIA—Word Horde is proud to announce the release of The Children of Old Leech: A Tribute to the Carnivorous Cosmos of Laird Barron. Editors Ross E. Lockhart (The Book of Cthulhu, Tales of Jack the Ripper) and Justin Steele (The Arkham Digest) have gathered together many of the brightest lights in dark fiction to pay homage to one of horror’s masters.
Over the past decade, Laird Barron has become one of the most lauded and influential names in horror fiction. His short stories, two novels, and three collections have garnered numerous nominations and awards, including three Shirley Jackson Awards and a Bram Stoker Award. Recognizing Barron’s meteoric rise, Lockhart and Steele sought to assemble an original tribute anthology unlike any other, focusing on atmosphere and affect, rather than simple pastiche.
“Barron’s fiction has long been an inspiration to his peers,” says co-editor Justin Steele. “The interwoven stories and novels create a rich tapestry of noir-infused cosmic horror. This mythology makes for an excellent backdrop for the weird tales within.” Offered this unique opportunity to play in what Publishers Weekly calls Barron’s “worm-riddled literary playground,” these children of Old Leech—Barron’s fans, peers, friends—conjured an anthology “with a coherent feeling of dread, without feeling derivative of the source.”
On Tuesday, July 15, 2014, Word Horde will commemorate the book’s official release with a virtual toast to Old Leech himself. Throughout social media, authors and readers alike are encouraged to share their thoughts about the anthology and its inspiration, Laird Barron, using the hashtag #TCoOL.
The Children of Old Leech is distributed by Ingram, and will be available in Hardcover and eBook formats through most online retailers and better independent bookstores everywhere in July 2014. For more information about Word Horde or to request an electronic review copy, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reviewed by David Goudsward
Hunter Shea’s latest opus sends mixed messages. It starts off like a Peter Benchley novel, drifts off into a hybrid of a Dan Brown conspiracy and a Robin Cook medical thriller, by way of a Loren Coleman cryptozoology report before settling down into an old fashioned “who’s stalking who” novel with copious amounts of blood and violence.
A small Long Island town is plagued by reports of bloodthirsty (and apparently contagious) creatures that do not seem to be of a recognizable species. The local cops are baffled, but there are those who think it may have something to do with a nearby island with a top secret military lab.
It’s an entertaining read, but there are problems. Aside from a completely unbelievable moment when the military sends in a highly trained special ops team who immediately panic and disobey orders, almost all the issues come from weak editing. A stronger editorial presence would not have allowed text that could be improved with minor changes. These issues include jarring transitions between scenes with different characters, causing readers to have to pause and remember who was doing what where; and scattered odd descriptions that sound more like a pulp era detective novel than a contemporary thriller. It detracts from Shea’s solid pacing and narrative skills, and Shea’s story telling is able to rise above these shortcomings inflicted on the publisher side of the equation.
The Montauk Monster is a fun summer read for the horror fan. It’s gory enough to appeal, but should be considered a guilty pleasure of the season, like riding a moped in white socks and sandals— it’s fun, but not something you really want to be caught doing by friends. Just don’t start reading it on the beach. You may find yourself drawn into a plot that’s a little too close for comfort as the tide rolls in.
The Perfect House
Starring Felissa Rose & Jonathan Tiersten
Coming to DVD July 22nd from Wild Eye Releasing
New York, NY — Wild Eye Releasing has announced that The Perfect House, the anthology horror film from Kris Hulbert and Randy Kent, will make its long-awaited DVD release on July 22nd. Starring Sleepaway Camp’s Felissa Rose and Jonathan Tiersten and Return of the Living Dead’s John Philbin, The Perfect House will finally be available to own after a multi-city theatrical tour and screenings at film festivals and horror events across the country.
The film has been hailed as a “love letter to classic and modern horror” (Just Press Play) and having “enough gore for ten movies” (Crosstalk New York). The Perfect House won awards at several fests, including Best Visual Effects and Best Actor at the Underdog Festival and Best Feature at the Scarlet Waters Film Fest.
Screeners, streaming links and retail review goods are available on request.