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Silent Hill 0rigins (Video Game)

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Silent Hill 0rigins review!Reviewed by Plagiarize

Developed by Climax

Published by Konami


As much as I love Resident Evil 4 (it remains my favorite game) even I was a little taken aback at the news that instead of the movie-ised remake of the original Silent Hill, the PSP’s first Silent Hill title was to instead be a prequel to the first game done in a Resident Evil 4 over-the-shoulder kind of perspective. Adding fuel to the skepticism was the news that for the first time, Konami we’re outsourcing the game, handing it to Climax.

Where as the Resident Evil games had long been trending towards action before Resident Evil 4 released, the Silent Hill games hadn’t. Hopes of a true new Silent Hill title seemingly dashed, and original screenshots looking awful, the news that Climax’s American team had been fired, and that Climax UK were instead working on something much closer to the spirit of the first two Silent Hill games brought new hope.

Even at my most optimistic, I didn’t expect to get something nearly as good as Silent Hill 0rigins (SH0) has turned out to be.

While it certainly does make a few changes to the Silent Hill formula, for the most part the gameplay is going to be very familiar for anyone who played earlier games in the series. I guess some might take that as a negative, certainly if anyone was really hoping for a game to come along and revitalize the franchise. For me though, since the last couple of games had strayed from what I liked so much about the first, returning to the foggy streets of Silent Hill was absolutely welcomed.

Silent Hill 0rigins review!This time players get to enter the fractured mind of Travis Grady. A trucker, taking a shortcut past Silent Hill late one night. Something darts across the road and much like in the first game, you soon find yourself walking through fog into the town of Silent Hill.

Only it isn’t fog. It’s smoke coming from a fire. Selflessly Travis rushes in the house on hearing someone trapped inside and long time players of the series (or heck, even people who have just seen the movie) won’t be surprised to see who he finds inside.

From there, the game takes on the usual formula of trying to find your way out of the fog-draped town, scribbling in red pen on the map as you find barriers and chasms impeding your progress until you’re forced inside. Along the way, you’ll see the events of the original Silent Hill set into motion and find out exactly what skeletons are lurking in Travis’ own closet. You didn’t think you’d visit Silent Hill without some deep dark secret wrapped up inside your head did you?

The first thing that will strike you about the game is how beautiful it is. While it doesn’t look as good as Silent Hill 2 or 3 did on the PlayStation 2, it’s scarily close and for almost as many ways as its lacking (you won’t see scarily detailed faces in the cutscenes as you may be akin to) there are areas where SH0 beats its predecessors (most notably the fog and the flashlight).

Not only is the game the most impressive looking game I’ve seen on the PSP, it runs flawlessly. Thinking back to those awful screenshots from the first version and comparing it to the finished product show just how much difference a year’s delay (and a new team) can make to a game.

Once you step inside, you’ll be turning on your flashlight which casts shadows as you explore a familiar locale and some new ones. It’s a brilliant effect, not just for the wow factor of seeing such a nice lighting effect on a handheld. but it really adds to the atmosphere. The enemies react to your light, so timid players have the option of turning it off, plunging you into inky blackness as you try and sneak past unnoticed.

Should you be spotted however, you’ll run into one of the first big changes to the gameplay.

Silent Hill 0rigins review!The combat in Silent Hill games has never been “fun”. It’s never been something you’d want to engage in. There’s no thrill in fighting the monsters here. No satisfying exploding heads. You basically have two choices if you’re going to fight; keep your distance using guns, or the new throwable (and breakable) items, or get down and dirty with melee combat.

Letting an enemy get close gives it a chance to grab you, starting one of those “hit this button now!” moments. These aren’t overchallenging and even hitting the right buttons rarely lets you escape unscathed. They just seem to be there to teach you not to get too close to the bizarre range of enemies and they don’t do anything to damage the monsters either. You’ll rarely kill a monster without losing a chunk of health, and now that weapons break after so many blows, you have to be even more careful.

This might all sound like criticism, but this is exactly how combat should be in a Silent Hill game. The monsters should be threatening (they weren’t in 2 and 4 aside from a few exceptions) and melee combat should be a desperate last resort rather than the best approach.

While you’ll want to save ammo for your best weapons for the inevitable boss fights, if you’ve got ammo you’ll be fighting enemies from afar using the games simple lock on system.

As ever, approaching enemies increase the sound of static through the speakers, enhanced here by also increasing the graininess of the filter used over the gameplay.

The other big change is the way in which the game handles dark Silent Hill. Previously in the series, shifts into dark Silent Hill happened without warning, dragging you into the twisted, metallic, industrialized alternate version of Silent Hill. From there, you’d usually find yourself running for your life, trying to survive until the game shifted back.

Here however, you manually swap in and out of the darkness wherever there is a mirror. It’s a mechanic that not everyone seems to like, as for some people it reduces the impact of the dark world, but personally I’ve very much enjoyed it. Now you have to consent to being there. Instead of being pulled down into the murky depths, you have to dive down yourself until you can find what you need and resurface.

As previous games, the exploration is very linear and the mirrors don’t change that so it doesn’t make the game more confusing. The puzzles are just as odd too, not overly obtuse or overly challenging.

Silent Hill 0rigins review!One small thing I really like is that the design of the dark world more closely evokes the original Silent Hill (and the movie) in style. The deep reds are back, replacing the browns and instead of a feeling of organic decay they bring back a feeling of industrial decay.

Whether it’s a new area or a familiar one (though the balance is definitely mostly towards new) the clutter and detail in the environments is as good as any other game in the series. The empty streets and dark corridors haven’t lost any of their atmosphere in their transition to the small screen of the PSP. In fact, sitting in the dark with a pair of headphones on, the game feels somehow more intimate, which definitely helps make it one of the scariest of the series. Who knew a handheld horror game could actually increase the frights?

I often only mention sound design in a game as an afterthought. It’s the kind of thing that you only really notice if its bad, but SH0 deserves special focus on its aural landscape. Series composer Akira Yamaoka is in full form here, adding yet another haunting theme and layers upon layers of distinctive industrialized clanking seeded with hard to place yet disturbingly familiar sound effects to really ratchet up the tension. There isn’t a weak link in the voice acting, either, and maybe it’s just because I’ve been playing it with headphones, but the sound work in this game is definitely my favorite in the series by far.

So there it is. At only around six or so hours to play through it Silent Hill 0rigins is a tightly wound experience. It is definitely the scariest in the series since the original, thanks to a highly impressive engine, great level design and wonderful sound design. It won’t win over anyone that didn’t like or was tiring of the Silent Hill formula, but given that it harks back to the first two games more than the last two, this slice of nostalgia is refreshing and Silent Hill 0rigins may well reward fans that were disappointed in recent titles.

Don’t let the platform fool you, Silent Hill 0rigins is every bit as good as the better games in the series that won’t disappoint fans, especially if you like your Silent Hill’s scary.

4 1/2 out of 5

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Through the Cracks – Trick or Treat (1986) Review

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Starring Marc Price, Tony Fields, Lisa Orgolini, Glen Morgan, Gene Simmons, and Ozzy Osbourne

Directed by Charles Martin Smith


I have been a horror fan for more than half of my life at this point. Meaning I have seen most of the quality horror offerings under the sun. But that said, every once in awhile a classic sneaks past so we wanted to create this “Through the Cracks” review section for such films.

Case in point, I had never seen the Halloween horror flick Trick or Treat until last night. I know, right? How the hell did that happen? But these things do happen and so for everyone that has seen the flick a million times, this will be a review of the movie from a super horror fan that – at the age of 33 – is seeing Trick or Treat for the very first time.

Now let’s get to it.

First off you have to love the movie’s plot. Mixing horror and heavy metal seems like a given, yet preciously few films Frankenstein these two great tastes together.

Like many of you out there, I am a big metal fan as well as a big horror fan. The two seem to go together like chocolate and peanut butter. Or Jason and horny campers.

I dig bands like Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, and even those hair metal bands (Dokken forever!) and I’m well aware of the legends surrounding playing these records backward.

Off the top of my head, the only other flick that combines the two to this degree is the (relatively) recent horror-comedy Deathgasm. I say more horror-metal flicks! Or should we call it Metal-Horror? Yeah, that’s a much more metal title.

It only makes sense that someone, somewhere would take the idea of “What if Ozzy Osbourne really was evil and came back from the dead (you know, if he had passed away during his heyday) to torment a loner fan?” Great premise for a movie!

And Trick or Treat delivers on the promise of this premise in spades. Sammi Curr is an epic hybrid of the best of the best metal frontmen and his resurrection via speaker is one of the great horror birthing scenes I have seen in all my years.

Add to that the film feels like a lost entry in the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. More specifically the film feels like it would fit snugly in between two of my favorite entries in that series, Dream Warriors and The Dream Master.

This movie is 80’s as all f*ck and I loved every minute of it.

And speaking of how this film brought other minor classics to the forefront of my brain, let’s talk about the film’s central villain, Sammi Curr. This guy looks like he could share an epic horror band with the likes of Mary Lou from Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II and the Drill Killer rocker from Slumber Party Massacre Part II.

Picture that band for a moment and tell me they aren’t currently playing the most epic set in Hell as we speak. I say let’s see an Avengers-style series of films based on these minor horror icons sharing the stage and touring the country’s high school proms!

In the end Trick or Treat has more than it’s fair share of issues. Sammi Curr doesn’t enter the film until much too late and is dispatched way too easily. Water? Really? That’s it?

That said, the film is still a blast as director Charles Martin Smith keeps the movie rocking like an 80’s music video with highlights being Sammi’s rock show massacre at the prom and his final assault on our hero teens in the family bathroom.

Rockstar lighting for days.

Even though the film has issues (zero blood, a rushed ending) none of that mattered much to this horror hound as the film was filled to the brim with striking horror/metal imagery and a killer soundtrack via Fastway and composer Christopher Young.

Plus you’ve got to love the cameos by Gene Simmons (boy, his character just dropped right out of the movie, huh?) and Ozzy Osbourne as a mad-as-hell Preacher that isn’t going to take any more of this devil music. P.S. Watch for the post-credits tag.

More than a few of my closest horror buddies have this film placed high on their annual Halloween must-watch lists. And after (finally) viewing the film for myself, I think I just may have to add the film to mine as well. Preferably on VHS.

Trick or Treat is an 80’s horror classic. If you dig films like Popcornand if you put the film off like I did, remedy that tonight and slap a copy in the old VHS/DVD player.

Just don’t play it backward… God knows what could happen.

All said and done, I enjoyed the hell out of my first viewing of Trick or Treat. But what do YOU think of the film? Make sure to hit us up and let us know below or on social media!

Now bring on Trick or Treat 2: The Prom Band from Hell, featuring Sammi Curr, Mary Lou Maloney, and Atanas Ilitch’s Driller Killer from Slumber Party Massacre Part II!

  • Trick or Treat (1986) 3.5
3.5

Summary

Charles Martin Smith’s Trick or Treat is a sure-fire Halloween treat for fans of 80’s horror flicks, as well as fans of heavy metal music.

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User Rating 3.62 (21 votes)
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AHS: Cult Review – Clowns, Cults, Politics, and Peters

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Starring Evan Peters, Sarah Paulson, Billie Lourd, Cheyenne Jackson, Frances Conroy, Mare Winningham, and Allison Pill

Created by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk


** NO SPOILERS **

It’s here. We’ve reached the end. The newest season of “American Horror Story” has ended and now we are here to provide you guys with our season review of AHS: Cult.

Spoiler free.

To start things off let me say I’m not the world’s biggest fan of “American Horror Story”. It breaks down like this: I enjoyed the absolute hell out of the first season of the series (“Murder House”), couldn’t get through “Asylum” (I know, I know, I’ve tried), dug “Coven” for what it was, really enjoyed “Freak Show”, and again I couldn’t get into “Hotel” or “Roanoke”.

That’s the story of me and “American Horror Story”. Plain And simple. But what did I think of the new seventh season of the notorious horror anthology series? Let’s find out.

Back when the seventh season of AHS was first announced (then going by the title “AHS: Election”) I was immediately intrigued by the new season because I heard it would not include any supernatural elements. Like the fourth season, “Freak Show”.

Now I’m a fan of ghosts and weird creature-men with drills for d*cks, don’t get me wrong. But the series has thus far relied almost exclusively on horrors of the supernatural variety (other than “Freak Show”) so this major change of pace was again welcomed by this guy.

Instead of vampires, aliens, and witches this season relied on terrors of the mind. Psychological fears and anxieties. The horrors man does to man. Deep issues.

Oh, and clowns. Like a lot of clowns.

But just because this new season didn’t include anything supernatural, that doesn’t mean the 11-episode season wasn’t filled with twisted visuals and horrifically disturbing acts. No, sir. This season boasted some showstoppers including S&M, gimps, and a house of horrors that wouldn’t be out of place in a Rob Zombie flick. It was all good.

But let’s backtrack a bit here.

Allow me to rundown the season’s plot for those who may be unaware. “AHS: Cult” tells the tale of a world post-election night. The literal dawn of Trump’s America. In one corner we have Sarah Paulson’s soccer mom, trying to fight through life with a series of crippling phobias (including clowns, holes, blood, and being a good person).

And in the other corner, we have Evan Peter’s angry, white (blue-haired) male, looking to seize Trump’s new position of power to bring about the end of… Actually, I want this to be a spoiler-free season review, so I’m just going to say the dude’s got big plans.

Like Manson-size plans. Let’s leave it at that.

With these two characters established, the new season then proceeds to send them spiraling into a collision course of political sabotage, intrigue, and clown-based nope, nope, nope-ing that can only end with one – or both – of them dead as Dillinger.

Overall “AHS: Cult” belonged end-to-end to Mr. Evan Peters. The young actor has continued to show his striking range from season to season of Ryan Murphy’s horror show and this season was no different. Peters’ turn as not only Kai, the blue-haired leader of the titular cult, but as infamous leaders such as David Koresh, Jim Jones, and Charles Manson – to name a few – owed this season.

I can only hope he doesn’t pull a Jessica Lange and opt-out of more AHS next year.

Speaking of top performances, “AHS: Cult ” showcases some other chilling and memorable turns with Alison Pill’s strangely vulnerable, put-upon wife character being the best next to Peters in my eyes. This actress needs to be in more films/TV!

Along with Pill, actress Billie Lourd killed it time and time again. The “Scream Queens” breakout star and Carrie Fisher spawn was yet again a highlight in her second Ryan Murphy series. Bet she has the starring role in next season. Mark my words.

Add to that, the season also boasts a handful of fun cameos, including John Carroll Lynch’s return as Twisty the Clown, Emma Roberts as a bitchy reporter that will do anything to end up on top, and Lena Dunham as SCUM Manifesto writer Valerie Solanas. The cameo cast killed it and I wish they would have been present for more episodes. What are you gonna do?

On the sour side of the season, I didn’t dig Sarah Paulson’s character. At all. But I’m sure that was the point. Right? I’m still not sure. But, boy, I wouldn’t even want to be stuck in line behind her at a Starbucks for three minutes, let alone spend the better part of this season’s 11-hours with her and her whiny bullshite. Urgh.

That said, she pulled it out by the finale. That’s all I’ll say.

In the end, I enjoyed this season as much as – if not more – than any other of the series. “Murder House” will still no doubt go on as my favorite season of the series, but “AHS: Cult” will rank third after season one and “Freak Show”.

While I was on the fence about the season after three episodes, the show ended up ditching Paulson’s character (and/or shifting her arch) after a lull so the episodes picked up quickly. Whenever the season turned its focus back towards Peters (in whichever incarnation he was playing at the time) the show got better and better. Every time.

Not a bad way to spend my Tuesday night for the past 11 weeks.

Bring on season 12.

  • American Horror Story: Cult (2018)
3.5

Summary

The seventh season of Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story was Evan Peters’ show all the way through. The young actor pulled out all the stops time and time again to make what may have been a lackluster supernatural-free season a winner.

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User Rating 4.14 (22 votes)
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The Axiom Review – A Stylish and Clever Slice of Independent Horror

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Starring Hattie Smith, Zac Titus, Nicole Dambro

Directed by Nicholas Woods


The Axiom is an ambitious, well directed, impressively acted and stunningly shot independent horror film that has just a few, teensy little flaws holding it back from greatness (and therefore will have to settle for just being really, really good, instead).

The first thing you realize when watching The Axiom is that this is a beautiful film. Everything is framed and shot in a lush and stylish manner, but one which is always tonally appropriate for the scene.

The second thing you’ll notice, and keep noticing as the film plays out, is that the movie really struck gold with this cast. Not only is there a total lack of the sort of stilted and unnatural acting seen in countless other microbudget horror affairs, but the performances are genuinely fantastic across the board. The main characters are believably chill and relatably normal in the early scenes, and the acting remains just as impressive once things start getting a bit more… intense. It’s not often that an independent horror film has so many good performances that it makes it hard to pick the movie’s acting VIP, but that is undeniably the case here. Taylor Flowers delivers what is probably the showiest performance (and does it very well, indeed), but the entire cast really is quite good.

The central premise of the film is both interesting and original, and touches upon the real life fact (given some recent attention in the ‘Missing 411’ books and documentary) that a lot more people sure seem to go missing out in the woods than seems reasonable, while simultaneously weaving all sorts of folklore, fairy tales and urban legends into the mix. It’s also clever in the way that it very naturally reveals aspects to the relationships between characters that serve to later – or sometimes retroactively – explain some of the more questionable decisions they make or attitudes they display. While that may sound like screenwriting 101, it’s surprising how many films fail to do this. The Axiom rewards the viewer’s attention in other ways as well, with many aspects of the movie that initially feel odd or unnatural receiving reasonable explanations (within the context of the movie) by the end. It’s not quite as challenging (or as rewarding) in this regard as, say, something like Session 9, but it does add a nice layer of complexity to the storytelling.

The film’s score, by Leo Kaliski, is also quite good. There may be a moment here or there where the music hits an overly familiar beat, but overall it not only fits the movie’s tone, but does quite a bit to help set that tone as well.

The only thing that I don’t feel the movie quite pulls off – and I’m trying to be vague here, because I feel like the less you know going into this film, the better – is some of the makeup effects work. The gore stuff is very well executed, but some of the other stuff feels like it was crafted with the intention of shooting it in a more… stylized manner. Instead, filmed as it is here, the result is sometimes less than impressive and can fail to make the impact that the movie seems to be implying that it should. And while some of what the makeup effects lack in execution is made up for with the ingenuity and creativity of their design, it’s still a bit of a shame when they don’t quite pull them off because, aside from a few niggles that I have with the writing, the effects are the only aspect of the film that occasionally fails to live up to the high level of technical proficiency that The Axiom otherwise demonstrates.

ADDITIONAL THOUGHTS:

  • Man, the acting in this movie is really good. The dialogue may stumble once or twice, but these actors always sell it anyway.
  • Give back Mia Sara’s DNA, Hattie Smith!
  • If you’re going to put your female lead in shorts this small, I hope you’re not sensitive to viewers unleashing a nonstop parade of “Has anyone seen my pants / OH GOD WHERE ARE MY PANTS!” jokes.
  • “You just pop this here ‘Blair Witch Stick Person / Anarchy sign’ sticker up on that there windshield of yours, and them park rangers? Well – heh heh – they won’t bother you none, no sir.” Hmmmmm…
  • The film really is shot amazingly well – better than a lot of mainstream releases. Cinematographer Sten Olson has a real future ahead of him.
  • As does writer / director Nicholas Woods, for that matter. Any director who can get this level of quality out of their cast and crew on their first ever film is someone to keep an eye on.
  • “I’ll make a run for it and get help,” says the female lead, and I’m like “Yeah, let her go – she has no pants to weigh her down.”
  • The gore effects in the movie are both realized and utilized very well.
  • Welcome back to horror movies, “I’ll be right back” dialogue spoken unironically by and/or to ill-fated characters.
  • The Axiom
4.0

Summary

In the end, The Axiom is a solid and entertaining flick that manages to wring a level of quality and originality out of the somewhat tired “Don’t Go in the Woods” horror subgenre not seen since 2012’s Cabin in the Woods. The cinematography and acting are hugely impressive, it features a nice, unnerving score, the premise is original and captivating, and the whole thing moves at a nice pace that helps keep the film’s flaws from dragging it down.

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User Rating 3.95 (20 votes)
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