Humongously Underrated: Humongous (1982) - A 35th Anniversary Retrospective - Dread Central
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Humongously Underrated: Humongous (1982) – A 35th Anniversary Retrospective

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Humongous

Director Paul Lynch’s Humongous was lumped in with all the Canadian slashers that came out during the early ’80s, which included Lynch’s other contribution the rather good Prom Night (1980). It is very similar plot wise to the earlier 1980 Italian film Anthropophagus directed by Joe D’Amato… except this is actually decent, and not a dreary plodding mess. Although, the title in review here has its detractors accusing it of being just as dull, and it has wallowed in obscurity ever since its release, while Anthropophagus has undeservedly achieved cult status. This is no classic but it does not deserve to be as under-seen as it has been these past thirty-five years, and it certainly does not deserve its current pitiful 4.4 rating on IMDB.

The pre-title sequence is a typical slasher troupe, in which the depiction of a past traumatic event has horrific repercussions on the future generation in the present day setting; tragedy begets tragedy. On Labor Day weekend in 1946, a drunken man rapes a young woman named Ida Parsons in the woods outside of her island family home, where her father is holding a party. SPOILER ALERT – When the family’s vicious guard dogs break out of their pen, they attack and maul her rapist. She then commands them to stop, picks up a rock, and bashes him in the head with it a couple of times killing him – END OF SPOILER.

After the somber title sequence, there is a narrative jump of 36 years, and we are introduced to a group of four teens. They are the squabbling preppy bothers Eric (David Wallace) and Nick (John Wildman), their sister Carla (Janit Baldwin), and the brothers’ respective girlfriends – Sandy (Janet Julian, who would go on to star opposite Christopher Walken in Abel Ferrara’s underrated 1995 film King of New York) and Donna (Joy Boushel). They are all going out for the weekend on a yacht belonging to the father of the three siblings.

That night during the trip a fog settles in, and hearing cries out in the sea they rescue the shipwrecked fisherman Bert (Layne Coleman). Aboard the yacht, he tells the group how he was wrecked offshore of Dog Island, the home of Ida. He tells them how she has used her family’s fortune to live a reclusive life, only venturing out for two annual trips to the mainland to buy supplies she needs and does not talk to anyone, and that her savage dogs roam the island.

Nick is frightened by this story as he hears the cries of wild animals coming from the island. He runs to the top of the yacht to turn it around to go back to the mainland, but instead damages the fuel line causing it to explode. With the Yacht on fire, they all abandon ship except Carla who is still down in the cabin. The group wash up on Dog Island with Bert seriously wounded, Carla missing, and there is something more monstrously dangerous for them to worry about than dogs.

After this first half hour, it is a little slow to get going in the second act as much time is spent with the kids just wondering the island, which is one of the film’s common criticisms. However, I think the director always finds ways to keep the story moving along at a suspenseful pace. Brian R.R. Hebb’s darkly lit cinematography, and the simple use of John Mills-Cockell’s effective minimalist synthesizer score, heightens the tension in scenes and encapsulates the proceedings in a fantastic creepy atmosphere.

The film is powerfully brutal in places. SPOILER ALERT – Especially in the aforementioned gruesome and disturbing rape and savaged by dogs opening sequence – END OF SPOILER. With the exception of moments like this, this is not an overly gory affair in the majority of it slasher set-pieces, so gorehounds will more likely be disappointed.

The Monster’s back-story is told to us by the teens discovering a diary, which as well as setting up the terror that’s in store for them and us, it has an underlying sadness that draws our sympathies. The director shows his monster only in parts during the second half hour, and it is not until the third act in the exciting climax that we see his huge frame in full view, but his grotesque deformed face is concealed in darkness until the final scenes. I think this was a smart play by Paul Lynch, as it adds to the suspense and it makes his antagonist even more frightening for it.

The small group of young people features likable characters, including the final girl Sandy, but with the exception of Nick and Donna, who are a pair of obnoxious pains in the asses. The acting is adequate and is serviceable to the needs of the material; the cast achieves in what is asked of them.

When the film was released first in the US, it was badly cut for an R rated version, whereas the later domestic Canadian release was unrated. The picture of the VHS release was a little too dark and was barely watchable during crucial moments. Thankfully, this was fixed with the transfer for Scorpion’s Releasing’s full-uncut DVD.

Under-seen and unfairly maligned, there is not much to dislike about Humongous... aside from Nick and Donna. Atmospheric, brutal, sleazy, suspenseful and tense, a monstrous villain, and an energetic finale, this is an entertaining little slasher flick. Recommended.

Humongous

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Castlevania: Grimoire of Souls Announced for iOS

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There’s a new Castlevania game coming our way, and whilst you might be a little disappointing that it’s not a fully fledged console release, you’ll be glad to know that it’s not a Pachinko either. It’s actually an iOS game by the name Castlevania: Grimoire of Souls, and it takes the series back to its classic 2D roots.

Dracula, who has been a staple of Castlevania since day one, probably won’t be showing up in Grimoire of Souls, as the game takes place many years after his true and final death. Things aren’t all sunshine and rainbows following the demise of the Lord of Darkness, however, as you’ll have to hunt down a cursed Grimoire with the power to bring Dracula back into the world. Throughout the story mode, you’ll pay as a character named Genya Arikado, a newcomer to the series, as you team up with Lucy, a member of a mysterious research organization, to prevent Dracula’s resurrection.

Grimoire of Souls will also have a co-op mode which can be played by up to four players, in addition to a four-versus-four competitive mode. For these modes, players will be able to choose from a selection of popular Castlevania characters, including Simon Belmont, Maria Renard, Charlotte Aulin, and Dracula’s son, Alucard.

There’s currently no word on when Konami will publish Castlevania: Grimoire of Shadow on the iOS, although you can sign up for the Japanese closed beta right now.

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Channel 4’s New Series True Horror Opens With A Warning For Nervous Viewers

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If you live in the UK, now has never been a better time to renew your TV license. That’s because Channel 4 are broadcasting a new dramatized documentary series called “True Horror”, which will take you into the heart of four terrifying true horror stories.

In pure Channel 4 style, each episode will open with a disclaimer reading “scenes of paranormal activity may disturb viewers”, before heading straight into a mix of both real life interviews and scripted segments. The first season of “True Horror” will consist of four episodes, with a special called “The Witches’ Prison” also being broadcast on Halloween. Today’s episode will be called “Hellfire Farm”, and will recount the tale of a couple who moved into a supposedly haunted farm in the Welsh countryside. This installment was directed by BAFTA nominee Tom Kingsley, and will be shown at 10pm.

“True Horror” was produced by “The Enfield Haunting’s” Jamie Campbell and Joel Wilson, and stars James Dryden, Charlotte Eaton, Sammy Williams, Katie Jarvis, Adam Leese, Amy Morgan, and James Tarpey. And you really should watch the series, because it needs the ratings. If not, we’re just gonna get more of the soap opera and singing competition garbage that usually dominates British TV.

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Agony Had To Be Censored To Avoid An Adults Only Rating; PC Version Can Be Played Uncut

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Agony looks like one of the most explicit games we’ve ever seen, so it comes as no surprise that it had to be slightly censored in order to avoid an Adults Only rating from the ESRB. Now, before you go bitching about how much you hate censorship, keep in mind that the changes made to the game were minimal, with the camera having to be slightly obscured during some of the most extreme sequences so that it could secure an M-rating.

As AO-rated games are never released on consoles, the version of Agony coming to PS4 and Xbox One will be the slightly altered M-rated edition, whilst the PC version will come with an optional patch to remove the censorship and to experience a fully uncut version of the game.

As anyone familiar with the history of the ESRB will know, this isn’t the first time that a non-pornographic game ventured into Adults Only territory. The Punisher and Manhunt 2 both had to be censored in order to avoid an AO rating, whilst Hatred was released uncut on Steam with the rating intact.

Agony, which takes place in Hell, was developed by Madmind Studio, and will be published by PlayWay later this year.

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