Started reading IT by Stephen King

One of the earliest films I remember seeing was the 2-part mini-series of Stephen King’s IT. IT scared the undying crap out of me when I was about 6 or 7.

Now, many years later, I have decided to actually read the novel before part 2 of the new 2-part films is out.

HERE GOES…

…TIME TO FLOAT…

Edit: After reading 50 pages, although enjoying it, I have decided to concentrate on The Dark Tower series for a while.

I’ve started watching Scream Queens, finally

I’ve been a fan of American Horror Story for a few years now – since Hotel first aired. So you’d think I’d have been all over Scream Queens too, given it was also created in part by both Brad Falchuk and Ryan Murphy.

But for some strange reason, known only to me I guess, I have only just decided to sit down and watch it.

And it is freakin’ incredible!

The comic timing and sense of humour is on point in the pilot episode. So often it seemed I found myself being played like a fiddle at the whims of the creators. I found myself laughing out loud and then becoming appalled at myself for what I was laughing at.

All of the actors and actresses involved were fun to watch, but I have to give a special shout-out to original scream queen herself, Jamie Lee Curtis. I’m so happy she is in this show and can’t wait to see what part she ultimately plays. And of course, one of my favourite American Horror Story alumni, Emma Roberts as the super-fucking-bitch Chanel.

Chanel – As pleasant as she’s gonna get

Emma Roberts is so bloody disgusting in this show and yet I can’t help but love her character. She is so much fun to watch just being an incredibly evil person to those around her. And something tells me that she won’t get her just desserts any time soon.

I feel as though Scream Queens fell under the radar a bit, especially when compared to it’s mature older cousin American Horror Story. But just from this opening pilot alone I have found it just as entertaining, if not even more so.

There were some great musical moments too – something I’ve just come to expect from these guys. And some awesome song choices too — especially the opening song by Bat For Lashes — ‘What’s A Girl To Do?’.

If I hadn’t have had to get up early the next morning I’d probably have watched the next two or three episodes back to back. I guess I will have to wait.

Scream Queens is going to make a great show to keep my juices flowing ready for American Horror Story: 1984 in September.

I can’t believe I’ve waited this long to actually get started on it.

I’m finally back into American Horror Story Apocalypse

Micheal, eat your heart out

Once again, I have left the current series of American Horror Story until months after it has finished airing. I think it must be something inside me that doesn’t want to reach the end.

Last night I watched four episodes back to back — and I absolutely loved it. The old characters that have been making appearances have been so great. And the music, as always, is terrific.

Can’t wait to see how this series wraps up, and of course to begin 1984 in a few months time.

Looking forward to getting back into Alien: Isolation on the PS4 tonight. I tried playing it about a year ago but I got about an hour or so into it and stopped playing. Dunno why I never went back to it.

However, I have been advised by a couple of mates through PSN that I need to give it another go. So I shall give it a good run this time.

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!

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.

Charlie Boy (Hammer House of Horror episode 6)

Charlie boy is about a couple, Graham and Sarah, who come into possession of an African idol after Graham’s uncle dies. (Sarah gives the idol the name Charlie Boy). Unbeknown to the couple, the idol is cursed and is in fact a voodoo statue.

What is Charlie Boy about?

Close up of Charlie Boy
Close up of Charlie Boy

After a disagreement with his brother, Graham – sitting at home nursing a drink – takes out his anger on the Statue. He does this as he is looking at a photograph of five close friends, himself and his brother included. The rest of the episode is then about the systematic killing (or accidental deaths) of all who appear in said photograph in the order they appear.

The episode had some juicy deaths in its 51 minutes including a man getting thrown off a horse and on to some plough spikes. Others I can’t reveal for fear of spoiling aspects of it for you, should you choose to watch it. This story is one of the grimmest to watch overall – nobody really has a good time in this one. That being said I do enjoy a good downer of a story – there’s no light without shade.

A weaker example of the series

Charlie Boy had some potential to be a great episode but unfortunately fell a bit short for me. One big thing that let it down was the soundtrack. At times the music felt like it belonged somewhere between Confessions of a Window Cleaner and Foxy Brown. It’s a shame because the idea itself was a sound one that fits with the rest of the series well. It just seemed to be poorly executed by people who had no real vision of what Hammer Horror is.

Graham and Sarah examine Charlie Boy
Graham and Sarah examine Charlie Boy

In Summary

This is one episode of The Hammer House of Horror that I think you could comfortably miss. It does have some redeeming qualities, such as a higher death count to previous episodes. So it isn’t all doom and gloom. But yer, not the best one.

Resident Evil Kitchen Demo on PSVR

The Resident Evil Kitchen Demo is a little taster that Capcom put out around the release of Resident Evil 7. It shows off, in its short five minutes of game play, the pure horror potential for Playstation VR, and indeed VR in general.

What happens in the Resident Evil Kitchen Demo?

You spend the entirety of the demo strapped to an old wooden chair in a completely run-down kitchen. The Kitchen gave me similar vibes to the Peacock house from the infamous X-Files episode, ‘Home’. Just sitting there in the chair, both my real-life chair and the in-game chair, looking down at my bound-hands, I was already bricking it.

It felt very much like the start of the original saw film too, in that I had essentially woken up with no recollection of how I got there.

Once you figure out how to wake your friend up off the floor, he slowly gets up and tries to untie you. This is where my first palpable fears manifested. Behind him, moving in the shadows of the corridor, I could see a figure. A figure that no sooner had I said aloud ‘behind you!’, was already upon him.

Looking directly into the face of the hideous visage of a woman, who looked somewhat decayed and possessed, was a feeling like no other. In VR you can look around her head at the mangled locks of hair; the saliva in her teeth; the killing gleam in her eyes, staring directly into yours.

This is what horror really is

Horror games are always fun to me in retrospect. At the time of playing I experience what the game developers must strive for – prolonged anxiety and a fear to move onward through the game. But there really is no feeling like that of the release of tension after a well-timed, tasteful jump scare. And I have the feeling Resident Evil 7 will have those in spades.

Seeing the twisted and zombie-looking woman up close in my face actually got me turning my head away. I knew, somewhere in my mind, that this was just a game. But that held truth was buried beneath the many layers of fear from this demo. The level of immersion here is unreal and this has somehow awoken a level of computer game experience that I never even knew existed.

On to the full game

As soon as I finished the Kitchen Demo I was online shopping for the full game. I kick myself now for not picking it up in the PlayStation Store sale a few months back. As I type this sentence I am awaiting a confirmation email to come through for me to collect the game.

I have no idea how I’m going to survive this game. Outlast feels like a walk in the park now, compared to this. (It’s not – Outlast is still very scary, but Resident Evil 7 just has a whole new dimension – literally and figuratively).

p.s. I have since bought the game and have played the first hour. It has not disappointed me and I can not wait to write up my thoughts on it in full.