The Silent Scream (Hammer House of Horror episode 7)

The Silent Scream may be one of my favourite episodes from the Hammer House of Horror series. It doesn’t contain any deaths – not of people anyway – and doesn’t really have much in the way of gore. But where this episode excelled for me was on the psychological level.

Plus, escaped nazi war scientists always bring with them a particular brand of horror for me. Memories of American Horror Story‘s Dr. Hans Grüper.

Lay the right bait, and almost any creature will walk in of its own accord.

Martin Blueck to Chuck Spillers

Main Characters

What is The Silent Scream about?

Chuck Spillers, played by the excellent Brian Cox, is fresh out of jail and back into the loving arms of his wife, Annie – played by TV actress Elaine Donnelly. Whilst in prison he was visited regularly by an older man, Martin Blueck – played by the ever-charming Peter Cushing. Blueck would talk with him and give him money for his time. Although this initially seemed very generous, it is soon apparent that this was just bait; grooming him for what was to come later.

True to his word, the day after his release Chuck goes to visit Blueck at his place of work – a pet shop in the centre of town. He goes to say thank you to this old man whom he now considers a friend. Blueck then offers Chuck a job, only in a secret back area of the shop.

Re-united

In the back is a large warehouse where Blueck keeps all manner of dangerous and exotic animals in cages. These include Lions, Tigers, Panthers and Baboons. What is perhaps more surprising for Chuck, is the fact that the cages all have their doors open.

Blueck explains his ambitions to create zoos without bars, where animals can walk freely and still be of no danger – something that Chuck sees the benefit in having just been released from jail. These animals have been conditioned to know that the open doors do in fact contain an electrical field that will instantly kill any who attempt to pass through. Only after the power is turned off, and the loud buzzer is rang, is it safe to briefly step out to get their prepared food.

Chuck dutifully tends to the animals each day whilst Blueck is away, as he is paid to do. However, Chuck’s attention is continually drawn to a safe housed in the wall on the second floor of the warehouse. He knows he has the skills necessary to open such a safe and obtain the potential fortune within. But his greed may well be his undoing.

Prisons without bars — my thoughts

Imprisonment is a big theme in this episode: Chuck has just been released from jail, where he found the confinement particularly hard to cope with; the animals being housed in their open cages with fear of death on exit in Blueck’s warehouse; and even the limitation of locations in the episode. For the most part we are either in the Spillers’ kitchen or Blueck’s shop.

On writing this it even occured to me that perhaps the prisons that these character’s carry within them are of importance too. The way that Chuck’s desire for more leads him to crack open the warehouse safe, causing his own imprisonment by Blueck.

A Leopard sits in its cage

Or even the way that Annie is still bound to Chuck with love, even after his greed and criminal actions lead directly to his being imprisoned. And her being bound to him, attempting his rescue, leads to her own capture by Blueck.

And finally Blueck himself. His desire to experiment on Chuck and Annie, to create a prison without bars, ultimately leads to the overlooking of his most dangerous captive animals – sealing his own fate

I found this episode to have a good amount of tension — the most poignant moment just has to be that scene with the puppy. Although not gory, it still manages to leave it’s trace across the rest of the episode. I didn’t find the lack of blood and conventional Hammer Horror deaths to be a thing I particularly missed either. I mean, a bit of gore can be fun alot of the time, but in this story the suspense and tension were balanced enough to carry it on their own.

The ending was suitably nightmarish for me, although I could see it coming a mile off. This was simply due to a previous scene with Blueck driving away from a location in his car. It was a shame, because had it have been edited in a slightly different way, I believe that the closing scene could have been much more of a surprise twist.

Summary

I loved this episode. The over-arching theme of imprisonment and being beholden to the desires we carry within us was an interesting one. Some of these episodes can be a bit hit and miss for me, but there are enough good quality episodes, like The Silent Scream, that really hit the mark.

I enjoyed seeing the legendary Peter Cushing in the role of Blueck. I was so used to him portraying the side of good, like as Van Hellsing in the Dracula films and Sherlock Holmes in The Hound of the Baskervilles. So it was a real treat to see him in such a dark role.

(I know he played Grand Moff Tarkin in Star Wars too, but I’m only thinking of the more horror-themed films here)

Also Brian Cox playing Chuck Spillers. He has one of those faces that I knew I recognised – I just couldn’t remember from where. Then I read his filmography and saw, amongst many other entries :

1995BraveheartArgyle Wallace

Instant recollections of the opening scenes from Braveheart hit me. That’s where I know him from!

What Is the Fediverse?

The word Fediverse comes from the joining of the words “Federated” and “Universe”. It encompasses web-based social software that is inter-operable through open protocols1 and gives each person full control over their own website and data.

(of a country or organization) set up as a single centralized unit within which each state or division keeps some internal autonomy.

federated, from Oxford living Dictionaries

Where are we now?

Modern social technology, for the most part, revolves around huge central areas of power. Places like Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Google have become household names. But these sorts of companies are not conducive to a free and open world.

These central powers monopolise much of the communication between people and fully own and control the data that they collect from said communications.

Not only do they own that data, but it is their core business models to learn as much as possible about us and monetise that data for their actual customers – their investors2.

Not only is this dangerous to a free and open world, and along with it freedom of speech, but it also strips people of their control over a huge portion of what it means to be a human being on the planet Earth today – their personal data.

Data about people, is people.

Aral Balkan, Cyborg Rights Activist

Huge leaps in the right direction

The Fediverse tips the current digital social system on its head, by enabling people to take back ownership over their digital selves. With certain services that are available, you3 have the ability to choose alternatives to mainstream technology – you have the ability to take back control, as these federated services have decentralisation built into their core.

This decentralisation removes the giant centres we’re used to seeing, leveling the playing field and giving each person an equal place from which to speak.

Yes, you would need to set up your own installation, or have somebody with the know-how you trust do it for you. But once you have that freedom with your very own digital home – that you truly own and control – it’s very liberating.

Let’s use a service called “Mastodon” as an example here. Mastodon is often described as being a federated Twitter, which it is, but I think it’s important to really hammer home what that actually means. And the principles I will describe here apply to many other types of federated social sites. For example: Peertube – a federated youtube contender; and Pixelfed – a federated Instagram clone.

It’s also worth saying that when we say something is a federated version of a current site, that current site has zero to do with them – it is just a way for people to grasp what the given federated site offers by way of general features.

Mastodon, for example

Mastodon is not just a single website. It is an open source project that can power anybody’s website.

Me trying to explain mastodon in a single line.

If I have my own installation of Mastodon (each installation is known as an Instance, by the way), then I have my very own Twitter-like website where I can share my thoughts and images with anybody who would care to read them. And if you had your own instance of it, you could do the same.

For example, if:

We would be at completely different web addresses. However, we would still be able to communicate with one another, thanks to the way that mastodon works. (In comparision, everyone who uses Twitter goes through https://twitter.com. So talking to one another there takes place in Twitter’s house, as it were). With federation, the communication is done so between the people involved; from their own homes.

What makes the Fediverse federated, is its ability to enable people to have their own self-controlled instance of a service and still be able to connect with other people as we have come to love4 about Twitter et al. And imagine that, but with thousands and thousands of instances – all able to talk to one another.

It’s going to be a long hard road out of our current situation, but it all starts here – in the Fediverse.

And it doesn’t stop there.

Cross-service communication

A big tennet of federated services, is that there are no lock-ins to any particular one.

Earlier on I mentioned some other federated services – Peertube (for video sharing) and Pixelfed (a federated version of Instagram). Let’s suppose that I have a friend who has an instance of Peertube, where they share video reviews on, let’s say the Australian soap “Neighbours”. And let’s suppose I wanted to get updates from that friend, but I only have my own Mastodon site. Wouldn’t it be cool if I could follow his Peertube site, but from my Mastodon?

You already know what’s coming doing you? 😀

You can!

For example, I can follow a content creator from their own instance of Peertube, and have their messages come through in my mastodon feed. This is the exact opposite of how we are currently used to seeing online services. The big social networks have lock-ins to their own walled gardens – the Fediverse is a huge open park where people can choose to travel through it any way they wish.

The beauty, and extra special powers, of the fediverse is that it isn’t limited to a single service. The underlying protocols (ways that the sites communicate) are designed in such a way that they can be used by any service that wishes to implement them. And those messages still go from person to person – there is no central authority to trust and / or fear.

Joining the Fediverse

Right now, it is hard for none-tech people to get up and running with their very own instance of a chosen service. This is the fediverse’s biggest hurdle right now in my opinion, but it is still early days and hopefully things will get easier with time.

That being said, there are numerous community-driven instances of services that allow you to register on. This does go against that idea of self-control and ownership that I have been talking about somewhat. However, we all have to start somewhere and joining a popular community instance is a great way to try it out and even discover new friends. Plus, once you are comfortable in the Fediverse, there is nothing stopping you from starting your own instance later on down the road, should you have the technical knowledge or someone to help you do so.

If you would like advice, I’d be happy to help where I can. Email me at mail@davidpeach.co.uk.

I hope you, after reading this, will give the fediverse a try for yourself. This is freedom of speech at its best on the web right now, and I encourage you to give it a go for yourself. And if / when you do, come and say hello: https://mastodon.davidpeach.co.uk

In Closing

The fediverse is an agreement that the people who use social services online, indeed the entire web, should be in full control and ownership of 100% of their data. They should be free to be who they want to be, without being beholden to huge conglomerates whose only bar for success is profit for renting access to peoples private data.

Come on over and say hello.

Setting up my own Nextcloud (Version 15)

Set up a new server (with Digital Ocean)

If you don’t have an account already, head to Digital Ocean and create a new account. Of course, you can use any provider that you want to – I just happen to use them and so can only give experience from that.

Login to your account.

Setup your SSH key

In the next step we will be creating your new droplet (server), and you will need an SSH Key to add to it. This allows for easy and secure access to your new droplet from your local computer, via your terminal1.

If you are going to use the Digital Ocean console terminal, skip down to ‘Create the new “Droplet”‘, as you wont need an ssh key.

Creating the key (if you haven’t already)

If you haven’t generated an SSH key pair before, open a fresh terminal window and enter the following:

ssh-keygen -t rsa

Press enter through all of the defaults to complete the creation.

Getting the contents of the public key

Type this to display your new public key:

cat ~/.ssh/id_rsa.pub

This will give you a long string of text starting with ssh-rsa and ending with something like yourname@your-computer.

Highlight the whole selection, including the start and end points mentioned, and right click and copy.

When you are creating your droplet below, you can select the New SSH Key button and paste your public key into the box it gives you. You will also need to give the key a name when you add it in Digital Ocean, but you can name it anything.

Then click the Add SSH Key and you’re done.

Create the new “Droplet”

Digital Ocean refers to each server as a droplet, going with the whole digital “ocean” theme.

Head to Create > Droplets and click the “One-click apps” tab. Then choose the following options in the selection (Or your own custom selection – just take into account the monthly cost of each option):

  • LAMP on 18.04
  • $15/Month (2GB / 60GB / 3TB Transfer)
  • Enable backups (not necessary but recommended)
  • London (Choose your closest / preferred location)
  • Add your SSH key (see above)
  • Optionally rename the hostname to something more readable

Once you have selected the above (or your own custom options) click create. After a few moments, your droplet will be ready to use.

Set your DNS

Got to your domain name provider, Hover in my case, and set up the subdomain for your nextcloud installation, using the I.P. address for your new droplet.

I’m assuming that you already have your own domain name, perhaps for your personal website / blog. In which case we are adding a subdomain to that (so https://nextcloud.yourdomain.co.uk, for example).

But there is nothing stopping you from buying a fresh domain and using it exclusively for your new Nextcloud (https://my-awesome-nextcloud.co.uk).

I will be continuing this guide, assuming that you are using a subdomain.

You will add it in the form of an A record. This is how I would add it in Hover:

  1. Select your own domain
  2. Choose edit > edit DNS
  3. Click Add A record on the DNS edit page
  4. Fill in the hostname as your desired subdomain for your Nextcloud. For example if you were having nextcloud.mydomain.co.uk, you would just enter nextcloud.
  5. Fill in the I.P. address as the I.P. address of your new Droplet in Digital Ocean.
  6. Click Add Record

Configuring the server

Install all the required programs for Nextcloud

First ssh into your new server:

ssh root@YOUR.IP.ADDRESS.HERE

When we chose to install the LAMP option when setting up the droplet, it installed Linux, Apache2, MySQL and PHP. However, there are still some extra dependencies that Nextcloud needs to run.
Let’s install those next:

apt-get update

apt-get install libapache2-mod-php7.2 php7.2-gd php7.2-json &&
apt-get install php7.2-mysql php7.2-curl php7.2-mbstring &&
apt-get install php7.2-common php7.2-intl php-imagick php7.2-xml &&
apt-get install php7.2-zip php7.2-ldap php7.2-imap  php7.2-gmp &&
apt-get install php7.2-apcu php7.2-redis php7.2-imagick ffmpeg unzip

Download and install the Nextcloud codebase

Please note that I am using version 15.0.0 in this example. However, when you read this you may have a new version available to you. I will try and keep this guide as up to date as possible.

# Download the codebase and the "checksum" file.
wget https://download.nextcloud.com/server/releases/nextcloud-15.0.0.zip
wget https://download.nextcloud.com/server/releases/nextcloud-15.0.0.zip.sha256

# Make sure that the codebase is genuine and hasn't been altered.
sha256sum  -c nextcloud-15.0.0.zip.sha256 < nextcloud-15.0.0.zip

# Move the unzipped codebase into the webserver directory.
unzip nextcloud-15.0.0.zip
cp -r nextcloud /var/www
chown -R www-data:www-data /var/www/nextcloud

Apache config example

nano /etc/apache2/sites-available/000-default.conf

An example apache config:

<VirtualHost *:80>
        ServerAdmin mail@yourdomain.co.uk
        DocumentRoot /var/www/nextcloud

        <Directory /var/www/nextcloud/>
            Options Indexes FollowSymLinks
            AllowOverride All
            Require all granted
        </Directory>

        ErrorLog ${APACHE_LOG_DIR}/error.log
        CustomLog ${APACHE_LOG_DIR}/access.log combined

        <IfModule mod_dir.c>
            DirectoryIndex index.php index.pl index.cgi index.html index.xhtml index.htm
        </IfModule>

RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{SERVER_NAME} =nextcloud.yourdomain.co.uk
RewriteRule ^ https://%{SERVER_NAME}%{REQUEST_URI} [END,NE,R=permanent]
</VirtualHost>
a2enmod rewrite && a2enmod headers && a2enmod env && 
a2enmod dir && a2enmod mime && systemctl restart apache2

A quick mysql fix

In recent versions of MySQL, the way that the mysql root user connects to the database means that password authentication wont work. So firstly we need to alter that user to use password authentication.

mysql

# In the mysql mode
ALTER USER 'root'@'localhost' IDENTIFIED WITH mysql_native_password BY 'your_secret_password';
FLUSH PRIVILEGES;
quit

SSL with Let’s Encrypt

certbot --apache -d nextcloud.yourdomain.co.uk

You will then be asked some questions about your installation:

  • Email address (your… umm… email address :D)
  • Whether you agree to Lets Encrypt Terms of Service (Agree)
  • Whether to redirect HTTP traffic to HTTPS (choose Yes)

Let’s Encrypt will handle the registering of the apache settings for you new ssl to work. It uses the server name you entered in the 000-default.conf file earlier.

It will also create a new file that is used by Apache for the SSL. For me, this file was at /etc/apache2/sites-available/000-default-le-ssl.conf.

First Login!

Now go to https://nextcloud.yourdomain.co.uk and you should see your nice new shiny Nextcloud installation.

Creating the admin account

Fill in the fields for your desired name and password for the admin account. You can just use the admin account as your main account if you will be the only one using this Nextcloud. But you can give others access to this site with their own login details, if you wanted. But without the admin-level priviledges.

For the database fields, enter root as the username. Then for the password, use the one that you set in the previous mysql command above. For the database name choose whatever name you wish, as the installation will create it for you.

Click finish.

After a few moments time, your nextcloud instance should present you with the landing screen along with the welcome popup. Go ahead and read it and you could even install the app for your devices as it will suggest.

Finishing touches

If you click the cog icon in the top right of your screen, followed by settings in its dropdown, you will come to the main settings area. In the left-hand column, beneath the heading “Administration”, you should see the link for “Overview”. Click it.

Now you should see a bunch of security and setup warnings at the top of the page. This is nothing to worry about, it is simply telling you about some actions that are highly recommended to setup.

We will do that now. 🙂

The “Strict-Transport-Security” HTTP header is not set to at least “15552000” seconds. For enhanced security, it is recommended to enable HSTS as described in the security tips.

All that is needed to fix this first one, is a quick edit to the apache config file that Let’s Encrypt created for the installation.

nano /etc/apache2/sites-available/000-default-le-ssl.conf

And then add this following three lines within the <VirtualHost *:443> tag.

<IfModule mod_headers.c>
    Header always add Strict-Transport-Security "max-age=15768000; includeSubDomains; preload"
</IfModule>

And then reload apache:

systemctl reload apache2

Refreshing the settings page should see that warning disappear.

No memory cache has been configured. To enhance performance, please configure a memcache, if available.

Open up you Nextcloud config file:

nano /var/www/nextcloud/config/config.php

At the bottom of the config array, add the following line:

'memcache.local' => '\OC\Memcache\APCu',

Refresh your browser and that next warning should now vanish.

For future reference, you can always take a look in the sample Nextcloud config file at /var/www/nextcloud/config/config.sample.php. It will show you all available config options.

The PHP OPcache is not properly configured.

With this warning, Nextcloud should display some sample opcache code to paste over. This one caught me out as I couldn’t work out which ini file this example code should go.

After some trial and error, I discovered that for me, it was located in an opcache.ini file:

nano /etc/php/7.2/mods-available/opcache.ini

Then at the bottom of the file, I pasted the following:

opcache.enable=1
opcache.enable_cli=1
opcache.interned_strings_buffer=8
opcache.max_accelerated_files=10000
opcache.memory_consumption=128
opcache.save_comments=1
opcache.revalidate_freq=1

Reload apache:

systemctl reload apache2

Some columns in the database are missing a conversion to big int.

I only actually came across this warning when I was creating a dummy Nextcloud installation for helping with writing this guide. You may not actually get it. But if you do, here’s the fix2:

sudo -u www-data php /var/www/nextcloud/occ db:convert-filecache-bigint

This will warn you that it could take hours to do its thing, depending on the number of files. However, due to us running it right after the installation, will not even take a second.

Once you refresh the settings page once more, you should see a beautiful green tick with the message “All checks passed”.

Good feeling, isn’t it?

If for any reason you are still getting warnings, please dont hesitate to contact me. I’ll do my best to help. Email: mail@davidpeach.co.uk. Alternatively you can head to the Nextcloud Documentation.

Statik on Playstation VR

Statik is one hell of a fun game to play. Lasting only a couple of hours, depending on whether you solve the puzzles of course, this game never got boring. Despite the fact that you spend the entire time with your hands locked in a box.

Locked in a box

Your hands are locked in a box within its VR world for the whole game, whilst in reality you take a hold of the standard PS4 controller. That controller is used in very inventive ways throughout the game to try and solve each puzzle.

Each level gives you a new puzzle to solve, which become increasingly tricky and mind-bending as they go on. Each button, whether it be the directional buttons; the shape buttons; triggers; or analogue sticks, will control individual parts of each box.

There are some puzzles that require you to hold the control bindings of a box in your mind all at once, with one particular box being on a timer. This gave me just the right level of stress to warrant fighting back against being put back a step or two.

It’s not just a box

A lot of the game must actually be solved by using the environment around you. Parts of the room and certain objects around will very subtle guide you through the cryptic puzzles. I found myself at times just dumb-founded without a clue on how to solve something. Until I would make a really clever connection between my box and something around me and I’d end up with a great big grin on my face.

My personal favourite was taking control of a small remote control camera buggy. As you move around to otherwise-inaccessible areas to solve its particular puzzle, you get live feedback to your box. It felt so trippy to be inside a VR game controlling a remote control car that can show you a live feedback of yourself in that chair.

So frickin cool.

A quick game that feels just right

Even though each game involves you solving a different box that has your hands locked within, the game never felt repetitive. Each puzzle was so different from one another that I ended up feeling like I’d been on a real test of the mind to get to the very end.

I completed the game in about two to three hours and that felt just right to me. I’d had my fill of that particular world, but could probably have played just one more level.

I guess that’s one of the marks of a really good game – leaving the player wanting just that little bit more.

In Summary

If you want a challenging mind-bender of a game with truly ingenious uses of what the PlayStation VR can do, please do check out Statik. This game was a random recommend on a list of “best PlayStation VR titles” I stumbled across, and I’m so glad I picked it up on the PlayStation store.

One of the most exciting pictures I’ve seen in a long while

This picture is one of the most exciting pictures I’ve seen in a while. On the surface it is just three people looking at something on a computer monitor. However, for those who know and enjoy two of these people’s work, it is something to shout home about.

Junji Ito

The guy on the left is Junji Ito – horror manga legend and instrumental in bringing the genre to modern mainstream attention. I enjoy horror manga very much and Junji Ito is one of those authors whose work I actively search for. His art style is instantly recognisable and has created some of the most memorable and terror-inducing images and stories.

His most well known stories are probably Uzumaki, Tomie, and Gyo. Each masterpieces in their own right and serve to solidify Ito’s position at the very top of his game. His stories, especially those mentioned, work within the horror sub-genre of ‘Body Horror’.

Hideo Kojima

The guy on the right is Hideo Kojima. Kojima is a name well-known and highly respected within the gaming community, and indeed the wider community of action and story telling. He is the man responsible for the Metal Gear Solid series whose reputations really do precede them.

Each of the games of Kojima’s that I have played I have fallen in love with. The first two Metal Gear Solid games, the first on the Playstation and the second on the Playstation 2, were such important games to me growing up, with me being about fifteen years old and eighteen years old respectively when they were released.

These games were some of the most memorable gaming experiences that I have ever had and have definitely stayed with me to the present day.

Why this picture is exciting

To have both of these people present in the same photo, apparently reviewing something together in an office, s exciting. The had previously been working together on what was going to be a new Silent Hill game. The very thought of that even being a possibility is cause enough to lose your shit over. Junji Ito’s twisted and macabre creations within a world created and directed by Kojima…

…But it was never to be. Silent Hills, as it was called, was cancelled and they both went their separate ways. And that was that…

…Or was it?

Death Stranding is the game that Kojima and his team are currently working on, which is exciting in itself. However, when you take the recent image above and consider the very real possibility that the two masters themselves could in fact still be working together, whole new levels of awesome enter into the mix.

Original source of image: https://twitter.com/Kaizerkunkun/status/894538086356467712

After about six months of owning the game, I have finally started playing Skyrim VR. And I’ve gotta say – it is so f**king awesome. Okay so the graphics are still of the game’s original era, but being in that world just feels so great nonetheless.

I get those butterflies in my stomach as I am freely exploring the wilderness.

I have only played the first few quests on the PC version of the game, and am glad I never pursued it back then. Because now I get experience what I have heard is a really great game for the first time all in VR.

Tonight I found I had saved the game in Riverun. I went and completely one of the only quests I was familiar with – the exploring of Bleak Falls Barrow and the finding of the Golden Claw.

Running through those caves, with each Playstation Move controller controlling a different hand for my magic spells, I felt pretty badass.

I’m looking forward to seeing where the adventure takes me.

Thoughts on A Nightmare on Elm Street

A Nightmare on Elm Street is one of the most recognisable titles in cinema – as is it’s villain, and star, Freddy Krueger. I felt the urge to re-watch this film after my recently-formed gaming obsession with Dead By Daylight. I was pleasantly surprised by the fact that much of the film still holds up to modern viewing.

What is A Nightmare on Elm Street about?

Behind the scenes on A Nightmare on Elm Street

A Nightmare on Elm Street follows four high-school kids, who are all experiencing almost identical nightmares. Nightmares about a mysterious burnt man in an old jumper and hat with knives for fingers. This figure is none other than one of cinema’s most charismatic antagonists – Freddy Krueger.

Freddy has long been dead, but has since returned to feed on children’s fear within their dreams in order to kill them. While alive, Freddy was exclusively a child killer – and possibly worse in the originally draft – which makes him one of the most despicable of his contemporary killers. Yet, perhaps intentionally, this is juxtaposed with his bouncy, playful actions and the fact that through the course of his films people have come to regard Freddy as a “cool character”.

It isn’t long until one of the children Freddy is hunting, Nancy, takes it upon herself to stand up and fight back against him. This ultimately leads to a showdown where you’ll want to throw your fists up and shout “Fuck Yer, Nancy!”.

A Nightmare on Elm Street artwork

The Effects still hold up

When the Matrix came out in 1999 it blew most people away with its cutting-edge, computed-generated, effects. Less than ten years later and those effects sure did start to look dated – more so now. However, with films that focused on created actual physical effects, this dated effect is lessened quite substantially in my opinion.

A Nightmare on Elm Street, although cheesy in parts, still holds up strongly with its physical effects. Especially those bedroom death scenes from both the start and end of the film. R.I.P. Johnny. And Freddy is every bit as menacing and full of charisma as I’d remembered from watching it years ago.

Nancy in the bath
Nancy in that famous bathtub scene

It’s great when modern films take a leaf out of the books of films like this one. You really can’t beat the authenticity of good-old physical effects. Especially in horror.

A personal favourite favourite of mine of all the film’s effects, is when Nancy is asleep at Tina’s house. Freddy can be seen pushing his way through the over-arching bedroom wall from the other side. And although it’s not too difficult to work out how this could be achieved it is still effing terrifying and highly effective.

Freddy is still rock n roll

Nancy and Freddy

Freddy Krueger is one of those pop culture horror icons who sits beside all of the greats. He sits with characters such as Michael Myers; Pinhead; Jason and Leatherface. He was played so perfectly by Robert Englund and like Doug Bradley for pinhead, will always be tightly linked to his seminal role.

Interestingly what differs Freddy from many of his contemporaries, is his sense of humour and playfulness with his victims. Michael Myers was a silent shape in the darkness; Jason too was silent; Pinhead spoke only in a deep, almost poetic manner. But Freddy just toys with his victims in his cheeky, tormenting way.

Freddy has been a really fun villain to revisit and I’m looking forward to re-watching the other films too. This includes one I’ve never seen before – Wes Craven’s New Nightmare. I’ve heard good things about it so will get a hold of that when I can.

In Summary

A great horror film that I think still holds strong today. Wes Craven unknowingly created an icon that would go on to become a household name – like Kellogg’s Corn Flakes and Coca Cola.

If you’ve never before seen A Nightmare on Elm Street, I urge you to give it a watch. Yes there are some aspects of it that will be dated, such as the fashions and the acting in places. But this really is an important horror film like all of the top films lists repeat. You wont sleep easy till you watch this film.

Interview with Katy Bentz (Steph Gingrich in Life is Strange Before the Storm)

Life is Strange Before the Storm re-acquainted us with some of the characters we had come to love from the original game. But not only that, we got introduced to some new characters also. A favourite of a lot of peoples, myself included, was Steph Gingrich. She’s the girl who you really need to take the time and play D&D with in episode 1.

Steph is played brilliantly by the talented, and always-funny, Katy Bentz. Katy has been building up quite the following, which includes too her growing YouTube channel. Every video she makes is a joy to watch. I was blessed to be able to send Katy some questions – a lot of the same questions that I also asked in my recent Interview with Kylie Brown – that she very quickly replied back with.

The Interview

Please tell us about yourself in as many or as little words as you like.
I am an actor living in Los Angeles, California. Just passed my year mark of living in the city of hustle! I’m outgoing, independent, determined, strong-willed, caring, and passionate. I enjoy to find the simple things in life, as silly as that may sound. We can get so caught up in our day-to-day life that we forget about walks around the block, or watching the sunset. My favorite color is blue and I love Dolphins! ?
What is your favourite Book?
Not much of a reader, but I read White Oleander for one act in high school and I really enjoyed it. I do love to read self helps books though!
What is your favourite Album?
Omg! Too many. Probably a Say Anything Album. I love anything pop punk!
What is your favourite Film?
(500) Days of Summer anyone? ?
What is your favourite TV Show?
I really like That 70’s Show. The 100 and Under the Dome are some others I have really enjoyed.
Do you have a favourite film/tv/musical soundtrack?
Guardians of the Galaxy is awesome! But also The Legally Blonde Musical Soundtrack….I know I am all over the place!
What poster / posters do you remember having on your walls growing up?
I had way too many animal posters haha and these two weird ocean space posters…I know…interesting. Oh! And a Backstreet Boys poster where I circled Nick’s face and drew on the other members haha
You’re walking somewhere and your mp3 player has only a little battery left; You’ve only got time for one more song. What song do you play?
Oh man. Too many options. I get on song kicks, where I find songs and listen to them over and over until I can’t anymore haha, so I would say out of my current mix…Touch by Little Mix, such a feel good song!
Was there any defining moment in your life when you knew that you wanted to be an actor and model?
In High School when I was still finding my place amid being a teenager, I quit the dance team and joined the drama club and I’m not sure that that was when I knew I wanted to be an actor. But that was the moment where I felt like I could finally be myself and that my peers weren’t going to judge me. And that was the start of my passion for the arts and everything it stood for.
What is the proudest moment of your career so far?
Life is Strange: Before the Storm, hands down. I have never felt so amazing about a certain role and I get to see the affect this game and my character have on the players and it’s the greatest feeling.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Works harder than you think you need to work.
Growing up, who were your heroes?
My mom and my peers around me. I never looked very far for influences in my life. My mom meant and still means a lot to me and I always look to her for guidance. One of my best friends in high school was two years older than me and in the drama club. She was someone I strived to be like. She is still my best friend to this day and someone I am riding this journey with, and it’s amazing.
Who is your biggest influence in how you approach what you do today?
My mom again haha and past and current relationships. I feel like the people I am closest with are the ones that see all of me and because they are close to me, they can be honest with me about things that I may need to do differently.
If you could ask any person – living or passed – any question, who would it be and what would you ask them?
Honestly, any elder person. And I would want to ask them what advice they’d give their 25 year old self.
In Chloe Price’s journal she writes: “I can never decide if Steph is the coolest or nerdiest person in all of Blackwell.”. What would you say to that? Coolest or Nerdiest?
Coolest!
With Steph being a new character in the already established world of Arcadia Bay, did you feel any pressure in stepping into that world for the first time?
Not at all! I didn’t know the story line prior to recording for Steph, so I came in with a fresh mind, ready to bring the character to life.
Are there any causes / projects that you would like to raise an awareness of to the readers here?
There aren’t specific projects or organizations off the top of my head, but I am a big supporter of anti-bullying projects and efforts. Bullying was a huge thing when I was growing up and I can only imagine what kids in schools are going through now.
Could you tell us a joke?
What’s a plumber’s favorite drug? Crack! I just made that up! Pretty good? haha

Until Dawn Rush of Blood on Playstation VR

So much fun

Until Dawn Rush of Blood is so much fun to play. The concept of being essentially trapped in a roller coaster cart adds a new dimension to what is possible with a horror game. You have no option to just stand in a corner and catch your breath before moving on. You are either fighting for your life or being moved ever forward into the increasingly hellish world.

Remains true to the original

Until Dawn is a stand out game and still stands up to this day. It was nice to see that the look and feel of the original was maintained with Rush of Blood. Riding gently around Blackwood Mountain and the surrounding forest was just as atmospheric as I remembered.

With Rush of Blood

I actually felt the uphill pull

I was amazed when the cart I was in started up a steep climb, that I actually felt the pull back that you would normally expect from gravity. I know that it’s not gravity but instead probably just me tensing my own muscles in the same way. But it really is such a genuine feeling that the horror that I knew was coming had even more of a degree of terror to them. If going up a roller coaster climb felt real, what the hell will it be like when I was getting killed by hoards of killer mannequins and clowns.

I was soon to find out.

In summary

This is a completely different game to Until Dawn. Although the locations do take you through certain set pieces reminiscent of the original, the style of game play is far removed. Until Dawn Rush of Blood is an all-out arcade shooter. And a bloody fun one at that. But don’t be fooled by its premise – this game has moments of true terror. Even though there were moments when I could predict what a particular jump scare was going to be, it was no less effective.

Interview with Kylie Brown (Rachel Amber in Life is Strange Before the Storm)

The character of Rachel Amber has been brought to life, in ways we couldn’t even imagine, by the very talented Kylie Brown.

Rachel Amber was but a memory that we caught glimpses of through the eyes of Max’s best friend, Chloe, in Life Is Strange. But now that we have witnessed the events that brought Chloe and Rachel together in Life Is Strange Before the Storm, we can share in those memories together.

I have been lucky enough to be able to ask Kylie Brown some questions about herself, her life and her approach to her craft.

The Interview

Please tell us about yourself in as many or as little words as you like.
Lazily active and very passionate.
Who is your biggest influence in how you approach what you do today?
Jennifer Lawrence and Tom Hanks. I’ve always said that I want a career like Jennifer Lawrence where I go from being in movies that go to comic-con to movies that are Oscar nominated. And Tom Hanks where I can own any role that comes my way.
What inspires you?
I don’t think there’s any one thing that inspires me. There’s a lot of things that do. Like a simple walk around my home town, staring at the Hollywood sign, watching a movie in the theaters, my parents, my friends, watching BTS footage from a movie. Inspiration is everywhere for me.
What annoys you more than anything else in the world?
When people talk during a movie/tv show that I’m watching. I literally hate it …so much… so very much. Just don’t do it.
What is the proudest moment of your career so far?
I would definitely have to say Life is Strange: Before the Storm is my proudest moment in my career right now, it was so far from my normal acting jobs and I had such a blast filming it and watching it take off.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
You’re on the right track kid, just keep going for your dreams, you’ll get there.
If you could ask any person – living or passed – any question, who would it be and what would you ask them?
I would ask Jennifer Lawrence, “What’s your favorite kind of pizza?”
Rachel Amber is someone we’ve known for a long time now. We’ve gotten to know her through word of mouth and other characters’ experiences but we’ve never met her. Is there a lot of pressure to portray this brand new person to fit with the Rachel Amber people already feel that they know?
Well yeah! There’s a ton of pressure! Rachel was portrayed as this woman who’s out of this world, and here I am…on earth. I mean really, even her NAME is kickass. Rachel Amber. Like, what?!? My biggest fear was not doing right by the fans, and all I can say now is that I am so honored the Life is Strange community has accepted and welcomed me as their Rachel.
What is your favourite Book?
1984 by George Orwell
What is your favourite Album?
Uhhhhh, the last FULL album I’ve ever listened to was from the Jonas Brothers….so I guess the Jonas Brothers Lines, Vines and Trying Times album? If musicals count as albums, then definitely Hamilton.
What is your favourite Film?
Depends on the genre really.

  • Action (which is my favorite genre): any marvel movie that just came out
  • Drama: Silver Linings Playbook
  • Comedy: Baywatch
  • War (or historical): Saving Private Ryan
What is your favourite TV Show?
Will & Grace (I’m currently watching it as I write this) and Game of Thrones
Do you have a favourite film/tv/musical soundtrack?
I LOVE movie scores and I can’t pick a favorite. But probably Jurassic Park.
Is there anything that you are binge listening to / watching at the moment?
HAMILTON and I just finished binge watching a new comedy on Netflix called The Good Place
You’re walking somewhere and your mp3 player / phone has only a little battery left; You’ve only got time for one more song. What song do you play?
Hakuna Matata from the Lion King so that way if it dies in the middle off the song, I’ll still be singing it at the top of my lungs giving everyone a show.
What was the first poster you ever had on your wall?
Oh wow, I don’t know. I first moved into my house when I was two and my room was decorated like a princess room. Pink walls, princess bedding and princess posters. So I’m guessing the first poster to be on my walls was a princess one that had a princess saying on it.
Could you tell us two truths and a lie?
  1. I’ve known my best friend since kindergarten and we’re still best friends.
  2. I broke my leg three times in two years due to soccer, snowboarding, and climbing on my roof.
  3. I grew up with three boys across the street from me and we would play army and have airsoft wars and one day I got shot right next to my tear duct and was forced to wear goggles every time after that.

*Answers at the bottom of the page.

Do you have any announcements or causes you’d like to raise an awareness of?
I’m a huge advocate for anti-bullying. I was a safe school ambassador at my high school where we would step in and speak up if we saw bullying going on and it saddened me to see how much was going on. And it saddens me even more seeing how much bullying is going on in this world right now, I always thought it stopped when we graduated high school. Bullying is so pointless to me, we are all human beings, we all have stories that no one is aware of, we all have pain that no one understands. No matter what you are feeling, it is valid, no matter what you are going through, I’m here for you. I don’t care if you are halfway across the world, you matter and you are cared for. And if you see someone getting bullied, please speak up. Stand up for your peer. Let them know they are not alone. If we all do that, this world will be a happier place.

*Answers to the two truths and a lie question

Question Truth or Lie?
1 Truth
2 Lie (I’ve never broken anything but my toe one time)
3 Truth