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Fatal Frame 4 Never Coming To US

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Fatal Frame 4 Never Coming To USWay back in the old days, my compadre Plagiarize and I used to debate Nintendo vs. MS/Sony in the console wars. A long-time Nintendo nut, he was very excited about the new DS and the upcoming “Revolution” console. Having seen the DS and read a lot about the Revolution’s just-announced motion controls, I stated they were toys, not real gaming consoles. Gimmicks as opposed to real game-making technology.

Now the Revolution is the Wii, and I’ve been proven mostly wrong. Why mostly? Because Nintendo is apparently dead set on the Wii being nothing more than a casual game delivery system intended for people who don’t normally play games.

The latest evidence? Fatal Frame: Mask of the Lunar Eclipse, the fourth game in the series, was released in Japan last year. The Suda-51 designed game was intended to revitalize the franchise by using the Wii’s excellent FPS-style controls to work the Camera Obscura. Word from Japan is that the game does just that, some saying it’s the most entertaining entry to date.

We’ve been waiting for word of a North American release ever since. It was assumed. I mean, here we have a tried and true franchise that has had at least minimal success in the English-speaking world. The development is done; all that you’d need would be a decent localization, and every penny it makes beyond that budget is gravy.

It’s not to be, however. Tecmo has announced that Nintendo has decided not to release FF4 in North America. Nintendo has publishing rights so it’s their call, even though the company behind the game, Tecmo, is very unhappy with that decision.

Since just about anything released on the Wii these days makes cash, one would think this would be a sure thing. Apparently that doesn’t matter to Nintendo, and that leads to some very troubling questions. Could this decision be a sign from Nintendo that they want to stick to ‘non-core’ games? Is this indicative of the choice to steer future Wii titles away from serious Mature-rated content and towards yet more family-friendly shovelware? As one person who commented on the original article at 1up stated, if they renamed this Scary Photograph Mama, then Nintendo would publish it in a second.

Let Nintendo know what you think about this decision. Go buy some of the very worthy horror titles out there for the Wii and demonstrate that there is an audience for Fatal Frame.

In the meantime, while I really enjoy my Wii, it’s starting to resemble a $250 toy more than a real game console.

Mr. Dark

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House of the Dead: Scarlet Dawn Announced for Arcades

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Aside from various ports, the House of the Dead franchise has been dormant since the release of Overkill on the Wii back in 2009, so the news of a brand new entry in the series is a huge deal for us horror gamers. So we couldn’t be happier to learn that Sega have officially announced House of the Dead: Scarlet Dawn, which will take the franchise back to its arcade roots. According to Gematsu, the game will be undergoing preliminary location testing at Sega’s Tokyo headquarters from January 19 to 21, before launching in Japanese arcades at a later date.

House of the Dead: Scarlet Dawn will be powered by Unreal Engine 4, and will be capable of featuring more onscreen enemies than all previous House of the Dead games. The arcade cabinet will include air cannons, vibrating seat, and motion sensitive lights in an effort to create a full immersive experience, although there are currently no details on the game’s plot.

The House of the Dead franchise remains hugely popular around the world (even Uwe Boll couldn’t destroy its reputation), so it’s probably safe to assume that Scarlet Dawn will probably be making its way to US arcades at some point in the near future, with a console release also looking likely.

You can stay updated with House of the Dead: Scarlett Dawn on its official website, although you might want to learn Japanese first.

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Dread Central UK Enjoys a Box of IT

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One of the best things about writing for Dread Central is the cool gifts companies send us in exchange for covering their releases.

With Stephen King’s It now being available on DVD and Blu-ray in the UK, Warner Bros. were kind enough to send me an It-themed gift box absolutely free of charge. I collected this beautiful piece of merchandise from Organic Marketing’s London headquarters, and it is quite possibly my favorite thing in the world. And that’s not an exaggeration.

Inside this beautiful box were four Pennywise-themed cupcakes, a Pennywise Vinyl Pop figure in its original packaging, a laminated flyer, and of course, a copy of the film on Blu-ray. As you can see from the images below, a red balloon, just like the one held by Pennywise in the film, was attached to the box, although I’m sorry to say that it has now been burst (and I’m keeping the remains).

It, which now has the honor of being the highest-grossing R-rated horror film of all time, was directed by Andy Muschietti and stars Bill Skarsgård, Jaeden Lieberher, Wyatt Oleff, Jeremy Ray Taylor, Sophia Lillis, and Finn Wolfhard. With the film now being available on home video in the UK, you shouldn’t waste any time ordering your copy, especially since we gave it a perfect score in our review.

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Fearsome Facts – Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966)

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Sir Christopher Lee returned to portray the charismatic count of Transylvania in Hammer’s Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966) for the first time since taking on the iconic role in 1958’s Horror of Dracula – an eight year absence. 

And while Lee endured a love/hate relationship playing the Carpathian Count over the years, the actor reluctantly tackled the role a total of 10 times for the Silver Screen. Three of those performances came outside of the purview of Hammer Horror, but this list is dedicated to the first Hammer Dracula sequel to feature the return of Christopher Lee in the lead role.

Now, here are 5 Things You May Not Know About Dracula: Prince of Darkness.

5. Dracula: Speechless

Dialogue never played a crucial part in Christopher Lee’s portrayals as Count Dracula, but this film is the epitome of that contentious notion. Lee doesn’t utter a single word during Dracula: Prince of Darkness’ 90 minutes of run time. In interviews over the years, Lee said that he was so unhappy with his lines that he protested and refused to say them during the filming process. “Because I had read the script and refused to say any of the lines,” Lee said in an interview at the University College of Dublin.

However, screenwriter Jimmy Sangster insisted that the original script was written without any dialogue for Dracula. There was even a theory that circulated for a time which postulated that Hammer could not afford Lee’s growing salary, so the studio decided to limit the Count’s screen time. Did this lead to the demise of Dracula’s dialogue? Regardless of whom you want to believe, Dracula is the strong, silent type in Prince of Darkness. 

4. Double Duty for Drac

Hammer Film Productions doubled down, so to speak, on the production and post-production aspects of Dracula: Prince of Darkness. First, the studio filmed the vampire flick back-to-back with another project titled Rasputin: The Mad Monk (1966). In doing so, Hammer used many of the same sets, actors – including Francis Matthews and Suzan Farmer – and crew members to shoot both motion pictures.

Second, Dracula: Prince of Darkness was featured in a double billing alongside the film The Plague of the Zombies (1966) when it screened in London. Insert cheesy cliche: “Double your pleasure, double your fun with Doublemint Gum.” 

3. Stunt Double Nearly Drowned

Dracula: Prince of Darkness introduced a new weakness in the wicked baddie, but it nearly cost a stuntman his life. During the film, it was revealed that running water could destroy Dracula. Wait, what? Apparently, leaving the faucets on at night not only prevents frozen pipes, but blood-sucking vampires, too.

All kidding aside, it was during the climactic battle scene in which Christopher Lee’s stunt double almost succumb to the icy waters on set. Stuntman Eddie Powell stepped in as the Count during that pivotal moment, as Dracula slipped into the watery grave, but Powell was trapped under the water himself and almost died.

2. Lee Loathed What Hammer Did to Stoker’s Character

Christopher Lee’s return to Hammer’s Dracula franchise was a stroke of genius on the part of producers, but Lee was more than a little reticent when it came to initially voicing his dislike for playing the iconic role. As mentioned above, a lot of speculation swirled around the lack of dialogue given to Lee in the Prince of Darkness script. And if you don’t count the opening flashback sequence, which revisits the ending of Horror of Dracula (1958), Count Dracula doesn’t appear on screen until the 45-minute mark of the film.

Dracula’s lack of character, and presence, began to affect Lee particularly when it came to signing on to play the character in the three films following Prince of Darkness. Indeed, the lack of meaningful character development led to Lee initially turning down Dracula Has Risen From the Grave (1968), Taste the Blood of Dracula (1970) and Scars of Dracula (1970). Lee said in countless interviews that he never got to play the real version of Count Dracula created by Bram Stoker, at least via Hammer Studios. This was a true disappointment to the late actor.

But Hammer guilt Lee into taking on the role over and over again, because the studio claimed to have already sold the aforementioned films to the United States with Lee’s name attached to the projects. Hammer informed Lee that if he didn’t return the company would have to lay off many of their workers. The tactic worked, since Lee was friends with many of the Dracula crew members. Fortunately for fans, Lee kept coming back for blood.

1. Faux Pas

Outside of the character of Dracula only appearing on screen for the last half of the movie, Dracula: Prince of Darkness had even more pressing issues that unfortunately survived all the way to the final cut of the film. One of the most appalling of these occurrences happens during the picture’s climatic confrontation. Watch the skies above Dracula and you will see the trail of a jet-engine plane staining the sky.

Another faux pas occurs in this same sequence when Dracula succumbs to the icy waters. Watch closely as the camera’s long shot clearly reveals the pivots holding the ice up underneath Chris Lee. Finally, watch the dead girl who is being carried during the opening funeral sequence. She is clearly breathing and quite heavily at that.

***

Which Dracula: Prince of Darkness moments did you find the most interesting? Were there any obscure facts you would have enjoyed seeing make our list? Sound off on social media!

 

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