Browsing the blog archives for October, 2007

Top Ten Horror Movies

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Culture, Personal, Visual

In the spirit of the season, a list of my top 10* horror movies.

10. The Mothman Prophecies – Slow build up, but a very creepy film. Has stuck with me more than a legion of gorier, cheesier films.
9. Hellraiser – The endless sequels haven’t done this series much good, but the original retains the paranoid escape mentality and the strange vision of what lies beyond good and evil.
8. Jeepers Creepers – The sequel ruined the original, but alone it’s done with restraint and effectiveness that hits close to home.
7. Phantasm 4: Oblivion – I saw this movie a long time ago and without seeing the prequels, yet it sticks with me to this day.
6. Cube – See here.
5. Final Destination – Beats out Cube for hitting closer to home on my fear scale. Flashbacks to this movie when getting on a plane are inevitable.
4. Ringu 2 – I debated whether I enjoyed the original more than the sequel here, but I’m going with the sequel for the way it expands beyond the first film.
3. Alien – Claustrophobic paranoia while being stalked by the universe’s most deadly being, and your life is being treated like an expendable asset by a faceless corporation? Yes.
2. Poltergeist – Beats out Alien on the close to home factor. A movie that turned trees outside of windows, static on TV, and innumerable other household sights into fearful things.
1. The Thing – These things are always fungible, but The Thing hits all the right spots for me. A tight focus and a driving paranoia. The ending is what really nails it for me.

*For the moment, may be subject to revision without notice.

It’s Never Scary on TV

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Culture, Visual

As Halloween rolls around, I’ve been trying to take advantage of the usual glut of horror movies on Television to catch up on things I’ve never seen before.

I just got done watching Halloween: H20: Twenty Years Later. The movie was alright, but what really struck me was how irritating it was watching it from a television station. Fortunately, I don’t even bother watching any television shows “live” anymore, and so therefore can skip the commercials. But even with the ability to skip through the commercials really quickly, I’m feeling particularly irritated with watching these things off of television at all.

Typical scenario: Mike Myers is seen walking down a corridor with a knife in his hand. The Halloween suspense theme is playing. Then, in the bottom of the screen, a row of symbols flashes by and coalesces into the television network’s symbol.

Great, any sense of tension was just blown. This happened constantly as I was watching the movie. If it wasn’t the network label appearing in the corner, it was an ad for another show on the network. There must have been at least three other shows being advertised during this horror movie, one of them a comedy and another a romantic comedy, total mood killers for the ambiance of a horror film. Do I care about these shows? No. And even if I did, I wouldn’t want that cluttering up and distracting me from something I’m already watching.

It seems like the network people want to discourage anyone from watching anything on their networks at all. If it really bugs me, it wouldn’t be hard at all to simply move entirely to watching everything on DVD. The only real benefit to TV at all is the serendipitous finding of something you might want to watch, but couldn’t remember you wanted to watch. Amazingly enough, I can browse throw a station’s offerings via the local TV guide or the streamed-in content guide, I don’t need to have ads plastered on top of my shows to know when something else is playing.

Yeah, I guess that deafening silence means I should just forget the crazy idea of television stations caring about my viewing experience at all.

Cube^3

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Culture, Visual

Cube2

As October’s been passing along I’ve been trying to catch up a bit on some of my backlog of horror movies. Cube and its two sequels were movies that I’d heard of before via friends, but never seen. Last weekend they popped into my mind for whatever reason, and I ended up picking up the trilogy to watch.

For the time being I’m going to limit my discussion to the first film. I’ll get to the sequels later. The concept of the movie is pretty simple: People are stuck in a cube, which is comprised of smaller cubes. In fact, the concept seems so sketchy that I was worried if the movie was going to be able to carry itself. Thankfully, it did so really well. The movie paces its revelations well enough that, even though you think there’s nothing further to unfold, there is. It works out well and keeps what could be a kind of tedious exercise, a group of people crawling through identical cubic rooms, interesting until the very end.

Although Cube is a horror movie, it’s not a slasher flick or the torture porn that passes for horror these days. Cube actually reminds me of what I thought of when I first heard the concept for Saw — “A serial killer who puts people in situations where they kill themselves,” ingenious, I thought. Sadly, Saw didn’t live up to my high hopes, but Cube is in the vein I was hoping for, a cerebral sort of horror.

Cube1

Here’s where the spoilers begin. I’ll probably also be making comparisons to the sequels, so fair warning.

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Unreal Tournament 3 Demo Update

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Games, Unreal Tournament

Yes, it’s just that damn good.

Unreal Tournament 3 Demo

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Games, Unreal Tournament

Update: And we’ve got unlocked versions coming in from non-FilePlanet sources. Click here for the unlocked demo torrent.

Update 2: Still downloading myself, but this screen comes from someone who’s playing it right now.

UT3DemoScreen101220071


It’s out*.

* For FilePlanet subscribers. It is not, however, “unlocked” yet. We can probably expect it’ll be unlocked between 9am and 6pm EST today.

As an aside, I really wish developers and publishers wouldn’t encourage FilePlanet’s scheming to fool gullible people into subscribing to their service. Obviously Epic/Midway want there to be a simultaneous release of the demo on all of these download sites, but FilePlanet gets around this in a roundabout way through the “unlocking” process. In the meantime, you’ve probably got hundreds to thousands of people fooled into thinking that they need to subscribe to FilePlanet to get the demo at all. I usually don’t have much sympathy for people that dumb, but FilePlanet goes out of its way to try and trick people to subscribing at every opportunity. They really leave a bad taste in my mouth, and it’d please me greatly if they got snubbed by game companies until they cleaned up their act.

The End of CRPGs

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Games, RPGs

So, apparently Electronic Arts has bought Bioware and Pandemic studios.

On the tail of this news comes a few more revelations about Bioware’s long-awaited Mass Effect. The title has apparently been renamed Mass Effect 2008. A bit of new information has been released about the main character as well: In order to provide a stronger, more story-driven experience, the developer has decided to give the main character a stronger personality and a more defined look, moving away from prior moves towards allowing players to be forced to “choose” appearance features of the main character. The new main character is a doddering old sports figure with a penchant for stating the obvious. His name has been released as John Naddem.

It’s also been revealed that the much-hyped story has been revamped for modern gaming audiences. Whereas previously, Mass Effect was slated to feature a grim story about a horde of alien robots descending on the galaxy to wipe out all sentient life, today it was revealed that, in fact, these alien robots are divided into 32 factions, or “teams” that will fight a ritualized combat to be declared the “champions” of the universe. A Bioware representative said regarding the change, “[It] is geared towards providing a more uplifting story of overcoming adversity for all our audiences. This move will also give us the freedom to allow those who have enjoyed the experience of Mass Effect 2008 to revisit the franchise in subsequent years with marginal upgrades and updated team rosters.”

Last of the Time Lords

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Culture, Politics, Visual

About a week ago, after watching the second part of a three part finale to the third season of Doctor Who, I got to thinking about the show. For awhile, meaning for most of the first season and about half of season 2, I was a big fan of Battlestar Galactica. My feelings on the series soured after a particularly bad second half of season 2, and a generally pretty mediocre season 3, with a spectacularly bad season 3 finale.

Some spoilers behind the cut.

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Tunnels and Trolls

23 Comments
Culture, Politics

Just a fair warning, this is a touchy subject for some people, and kind of off my typical subject matter. After reading 150+ comments over at Shamus’ site, I felt pretty compelled to add in my two cents.

If you read the comments to that post, you know how this one really brought out the real trolls of the internet. All manner of them, they came from the depths, with their warts and boils and their horrifying breath rasping out battle-cries such as, “Race and gender are social constructs!” It was frightening, and a few intrepid posters foolishly went at them with their swords sharpened. Trolls cannot be slain by conventional weapons, in fact, they only become more and more agitated by them. Trolls can only be killed by fire.

Those of us who don’t live in solipsistic darkness where external reality is only what we believe or imagine it to be can recognize that these claims are patently false. Skin color is not a good proxy for race, but races are genetically real concepts. Gender is sex. Despite the attempts by Feminists to redefine this word, Feminists have never made a serious attempt at delineating or measuring the influence of sex as opposed to gender. Gender therefore means only what Feminists decide it means as it is convenient for them at the time. Until science has made a great deal more progress, the influence of “sex” as opposed to “gender” is largely unknown and isn’t worth discussing, particularly not with those who think that their thoughts determine what is real.

Both of these are tangents, however. The real battle in the comments took place over the idea that “Rape is about power.” This is actually a shibboleth repeated by Trolls to determine whether the beings they encounter in their darkness are other Trolls, or if they are interlopers from the surface world. If it turns out the being was not another Troll, 1d3 Trolls are summoned within the next round.

“Rape is about Power” is not a verifiable claim. At best, this is a consensus, not a fact. In the world of Trolls, enough of a consensus may determine reality, but in reality it does no such thing. This sort of consensus is particularly suspect given the well-documented and overwhelming political bias of the Psychology field. As a further strike against the validity of this claim, a quick Google search revealed hundreds, possibly thousands of feminist agitprop sites using the formulation, MYTH: Rape is about sex. FACT: Rape is about power.

Even if “Rape is about Power” were true, what does that tell us? Aside from completely misleading us about when, where, why, and how rapes occur, it tells us nothing. One may as well say “Money is about Power.” Yes, and? An understanding of power relationships is already included in folk-psychological understandings of rape. Pseudo-expertise insisting that “Rape is about Power,” though, is far poorer in that it excludes the most obvious and influential factor in rape, sexual desire.

The claim is made not to illuminate our understanding of the subject to help prevent it, but instead to cast it into the Trolls’ delusion of “The Patriarchy.” According to this ideology, rape is a systematic expression of power by this mythical “Patriarchy” over women. Yet another tool in the toolbox, amongst things such as “Truth,” “Science,” “Marriage,” and so on. In reality, the claim “Rape is about Power” is about power. The entire point of this claim is not to help women or stop rape, it is to frame the unacceptable act of rape in terms that Trolls control. It is both a cavern that entices the curious into the darkness of the Trolls, and a weapon that can be used to frame those who oppose the Troll’s perception of reality as being supportive of socially and morally unacceptable behavior.