Lucien’s Review: Observer

I find myself in a very strange position – having a game where there is nothing wrong with it in terms of appearance, gameplay, or performance, and yet I was totally and completely bored by.  This is a game that has nothing fundamentally wrong with it.  I just got so bored playing it.  How is that possible?  Maybe it’s just not the kind of game for me?  I honestly don’t know.  There could be a lot of self-reflection in my future as I think about this game and what it represents to me.  This review may end up with me just stroking my own dick as I think about why I didn’t really enjoy this game as much as the Steam community seems to, but so be it.  I do want to talk about it.

The story goes that you’re in a 1980’s style dystopian future horror movie.  Everything about the aesthetic screams old school horror films.  This game seems to have taken some cues from Alien: Isolation in that regard.  You play as Daniel Lazarski, voiced very well by Rutger Hauer.  I like the voice acting from this character.  Rutger isn’t known for being able to boom.  He plays the broken down old man very well.  He is an Observer.  They’re a new kind of law enforcement who can go into people’s minds and take information that they don’t want to give up out of their heads.  It’s a dark concept, that admittedly has a lot of potential.  Now he’s on the trail to find his son, with whom he is estranged, and gets involved in a plot of murder and deception, all inside the heads of the dead or dying.

This game has a very unique look.  I liked the retro feel of the tech in this game.  You have all these holgraphic displays, mixed in with computers that look like they were coughed up from the 80’s.  It’s cool stuff.  Seeing games willing to eschew the modern film convention of making all the technology super advanced is really refreshing.  A pity Hollywood can’t seem to do that.  The problem here is that since the game really doesn’t take a large amount of time building the world it inhabits, I didn’t find myself getting into this beyond the most basic “that’s kinda cool” sorta way.  Which is really unfortunate because there was a lot of loving detail put into the environments.

Hacking into people’s minds brought me to another game that this one clearly took a lot of cues from.  Well, not really a game so much as what could have been a game – P.T.  After the death of Silent Hills, a TON of games have been trying to take that concept and run with it.  To extremely varying degrees of success.  In my opinion, this game didn’t seem to rise to the ambitious goals Hideo Kojima was trying to do the way others appear to be.  All the intricacies of P.T.’s environmental puzzles connected to being in a single hallway are lost on this game.

Then we get the sections that it’s clear they took from a previous work, Outlast – the moving around and hiding sections from a monster that you can’t kill.  These sections got very tedious, very quickly.  It was so easy to predict where the monster would be, so all the tension that could have come from hiding from the creature was lost in a nano-second.  I found myself wishing that they could have just ditched those entirely for maybe more creative environmental puzzles in the world of people’s minds.  For all the potential the idea of jacking into people’s heads has, they really seemed to not want to take any crazy chances with it.  I can think of 100 ways to make it a surreal nightmare all off the top of my head that they didn’t even try.  I kind of want to see this idea done again by a studio that is a little more ambitious.  Maybe Kojima can take a crack at it after he is done with Death Stranding?  Just a good idea.

Which brings me to the fear element – this game isn’t scary.  At all.  They really should have ditched the fear side.  I guess the fear is supposed to come from the idea of what it means to get into people’s heads and how that is violating their minds.  But here’s the thing – 99% of everyone you jack into is dead.  This concept could have been made immediately more disturbing if you had living people who are desperately fighting you in their minds from getting to their secrets.  Like maybe have an investigation where the Observer is so desperate to get to the answer that he’ll do all sorts of crazy shit in people’s head.  As I said, this is a really neat concept, that I want to see done better.

I guess my biggest problem here is that this game feels like a ton of potential that wasn’t wasted, per se, just not taken far enough.  If they wanted to make a game where the implication of what you’re doing is supposed to be the scary thing (which I like on a VERY large level), then why not go all the way with it?  I mean REALLY fuck with the player.  Make it so that the player feels like they are partly to blame.  Have them also so eager to get to the answer that they are pushing the main character to do all these things.  Maybe some Fourth Wall moments where you put on the player that what they’re doing is wrong.  So much potential in this thought process.

This is not a bad game.  I just got very bored by it.  To me it feels like a game that is riffing off other games and doesn’t go out of its way to be its own thing.  Which is a bummer, because the kind of game I described above, I can see Rutger Hauer being an amazing addition to.  Hopefully this isn’t his last foray into video games before he passes.  He is quite old.  It will be a shame when he goes.  He’s a great actor, and has the chops for great voice acting too.  But that’s just my thoughts.  Let me know what yours are below.

Final Verdict
6 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

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Ruins From the Floating City

For reasons that are utterly known (to someone, I’m sure), the city of Rix was completely off-limits.  Nobody had been allowed in that place for the last five years.  It was guarded more thoroughly than any place since Fort Knox.  Thing is, after the gold there was stolen, it was understood that no security if fool-proof.  Kudos to the team who did that.  It went down in history.  As did they because, to this day, no one knows who they are.  Not only did a team steal the biggest amount of gold in the world, but they got away with it.  The sheer levels of balls that must take is beyond comprehension.
Rix was started as the first city of its kind.  A self-sustaining, totally green floating paradise.  It would be a test for what could be done on other planets.  No need for any outside help.  Clean energy sources included wind, solar, and using the motion of the ocean to power turbines underneath the city.  Their food would be grown there in greenhouses that required no soil.  New breeds of plants were developed for this.  The water could be harvested from the ocean, with a method of replenishing as much of what they took as possible.  In other words, the impact to the oceans would be negligible.  They would also pump out a lot of clean air.  There was even a plan to take the garbage floating around the ocean and have some special system to break it to down to its chemical basics.  Ahead of its time is the nice thing.
People were signing up all over the place to be a part of this.  With promises of universal health care and a living wage, people from all walks of life were putting in applications.  There was one catch – you had to live in that place and were unable to travel off the city.  In other words, once you go there, you go for life.  Unlimited contact with people outside of the city, but you were stuck there.  You could send money to family outside of Rix, if you wanted to.  So it was a good place to start over.  There was even supposed to be a thriving tourism industry.  However, what people didn’t know was how much of the city was blocked off.  But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
All the major tech companies were all over this.  Every company that wanted to prove that they were the best was investing in this.  It was a supranational structure.  It was to sit in international waters, with no oversight from any government.  There was to be a formal committee that answered to various national groups, but that was supposed to be in a situation where action that affected outside nations or required assistance from any country was required.  In other words, these people answered to no one.  A libertarian paradise, am I right?  Well, not entirely.
This place quickly became known as something of a police state.  There were cameras almost everywhere.  Aside from houses and bathrooms (though there was some questioning as to whether cameras were in the bathrooms after a certain video was leaked), cameras were watching everything.  There were supposed to be law enforcement agents all over the place.  There were no cars there.  All travel was done via a massive public transportation network.  All cargo was controlled.  What came off the island was some of the greatest explosions of technology the world had ever known.  Tech that seemed years ahead of its time.  People were so happy to see this that they didn’t seem to notice or care about the parts of the city that were getting increasingly unsettling.  People are stupid, after all.  Give them a newer and better phone and the idiot millennials and their children (Generation Zero.  Named so because of the lack of population growth that followed a worldwide outbreak of a disease that killed over half of all the world’s offspring) are putty in our hands.
For a time, things were amazing.  Tourism was bustling, as the city was continually evolving.  New tech was integrated seamlessly there.  Anyone who wanted to know what the cutting edge was went there when they had their Expo.  The Rix Expo was the hottest ticket that had ever been.  From there, we had solar technology that put what we had been using to shame.  We could now grow food in humid places simply by harvesting the water in the air via a system that actually worked.  Jungles were regrowing as old farms were being replaced by cheap and more productive alternatives.  Brazil took full advantage of this.  It’s why their economy is third in the world right now.  After the US food production died and the Dust Bowl came back, Brazil took center stage.
A golden age appeared to have come to humanity.  One where we could be turning back the clock of our environmental damage.  Hell, people wanted to take the ideas from Rix and apply them to space colonies or colonies on Mars.  EUSP (European Union Space Program) and CASE (Canadian Aeronautics and Space Exploration) were working to see who could get their first.  Even the Russians got in on the fun.  After years of fearing the worst, humanity thought that they were going to rise again.

Then Rix went silent.  In one day, the city went dark.  All signals coming from there had been cut off.  Transportation was cut off.  Nothing went in or out.  It all happened so suddenly.  A commission was started to investigation.  The EU and Japanese navy (Japan grew the most because of the tech from Rix.  They had been one of the principle funding nation), along with the CANS (Canadian Allied Nation States) fleet went to investigate.  Whatever they found there, it has never seen the light of day.  The Rix Report, which was commissioned by the UN, was almost-immediately buried.  No copies were ever released.  A version which a hacker got out was so redacted that you couldn’t make out more than a few sentences here and there.  It was insane.  People wondered what they had found.  But nothing was forthcoming.  At all.
Military forces were used to quarantine the city.  An official statement is that no travel is allowed to or from the now-dark city.  It was the ultimate secret.  One that so many nations were working hard to keep.  It was obvious that the key information was known only by the highest levels of government.  The media used every trick in the book to try and get out of soldiers and government members what the truth about Rix had been.  They got nothing.  Because everyone knew nothing.  Only Presidents, Prime Ministers, Admirals, and Generals know the truth.  Then the media tried to get the people who were part of the team who had gone into the city to talk to them.  A dead end.  Of the team of ten who had gone in, three were committed to mental hospitals not long after.  One committed suicide.  The rest refused to say anything.  The ONLY quote that was released about what was found on Rix is this –

What I saw there will never leave me.  I’ll get old and die, and it will still be there.  That’s all I’ll say about it.

The man broke down sobbing not long after.  Of course, the families of those who had been there were demanding more.  But they were stonewalled.  There were lawsuits.  Several companies and governments were sued to an extreme.  The city had had a population of 3 million.  All of the cases were settled out of court.  Sometimes you’d have family members chartering ships to try and force their way in to get to the people they loved.  One woman was so desperate to find her wife that she crashed her ship into the city, hoping to be able to brute force her way inside.  Bad move.  This city was built to withstand hurricanes that would level coastal cities.  It was built with a kind of incomplete dome over the top.  The sides were the ultimate fortress.  The woman’s boat sank, and she died.  As did the crew.
The military now guards the perimeter of the city.  A non-stop patrol of warships.  Any vessel that tries to get through is detained.  In the worst case, destroyed.  It’s a worldwide coalition.  The first of its kind.  Even Russia, a nation that has always seemed eager to be a contrarian was involved.  CANS was the dominate member, considering that they have the largest military in the world.  But Japan was eager to help.
The big question – why had no one attempted to go back to the city?  What had happened there?  What was in the Rix Report?  It did exist.  Somewhere.  There was a database that was supposedly under lock and key.  No one could access it on a system that could have external access.  It was in the vault at a base in an undisclosed location.  The only people with access are those at the top level of government.  There are no troops who protect the location.  It’s all done via an automated system.  This level of secrecy is unheard of, which makes people believe that whatever was found in Rix is beyond a matter of national security.  It must be something of global risk.
None of that mattered to me.  I wasn’t there to learn the truth.  I wasn’t there to try and steal tech, as so many others had tried before.  I was there to find my father.  He had gone there to try and start over after the divorce with mom.  Now, he was one of the many people who had been declared Missing in Rix.  Mom raised a fuss.  She sued.  Honestly, I think it was to get child support, but I wasn’t brave enough to say that to her face.
I needed to find my father, and to know what happened to him here.  Why had the city gone dark so quickly?  What had happened?  Who was left?  These questions were at the back of my mind every step of what got me here.  Me, and the love of my life.  We were here to learn the truth.  If he was still alive, I was bringing him home.  No matter what happened.  If I died, so be it.  It was worth it for that.

My team and I had spent months studying everything about the pattern of the naval blockade around Rix.  They kept out about 5000 meters from the city.  They didn’t have much need of patrol boats, as they could just use radar and sonar to identify any incoming vessels.  Some people had tried to sneak in with small personal submersible devices.  Didn’t work.  Any approach was guarded very carefully.  Larger warships would be guarding the approach from further out.  All shipping lanes in the region were watched.  It was a good defense.  So odd that it was done to keep people from this place.  Whatever was in the Rix Report, it was clearly worth all these nations that had always hated each other coming together.
The plan was simple – we would have to use the disguise of actual flotsam to mask our approach.  What we would do is ride the currents, attached to a hollow log.  From there.  There was one that went right past the city.  It was how they gained power, after all.  At least one of the ways.  We had downloaded the schematics for the city.  There was a maintenance tube outside one of the turbines.  We would exit the log once we were close, and then swim to the port.  It had taken almost all the money we had, but Emily and I were able to procure an access key.  It was a chip that had to be implanted within the skin.  Both of us got one.  The access was rudimentary.  We would have to find a way to upgrade our access once inside.  We knew what to look for.  Since we figured that the tech we got from them was stuff they used, we knew how we could upgrade our access.  It would require visiting an administration building of some kind.  All things we’d have to learn once we got inside.  Our schematics would get us in, but the rest was up to us.
Each of us used Bands.  They were tech that could be attached to our arms.  It had some really cool displays.  Early holographic interface.  We would have to keep them in our packs until we were inside.  They would short otherwise.  With the Bands, we wouldn’t need to constantly pull out a map or anything.  To think, people used to rely on tablets.  These things were cutting-edge.  So expensive.  The reality is that we had gone beyond bankrupt for this little expedition.  We knew that we wanted to find our father.  However, I knew that Em wanted to bust this story wide open.  She wanted to tell the world about what had happened there.  If it was so dangerous, then people needed to know.  I admired her bravado, but I was less sure.
Our last night, we got together with the team.  There were six of us.  It was a sad night.  We didn’t know what was going to happen.  The lot of had drinks and talked long into the night about why we didn’t want superhero films to make a comeback.  They had gotten so bad.  It was good that they died when they did.  If we had had to suffer more of that Avengers garbage, I honestly think that I would have lost my mind.  The days of PC culture were ugly, but we moved past it.  A lot of death taught people to value what they have.  A drop in the population by a little under a billion due to old age had been a good teacher.  I got to talking with Griffin (my oldest friend) about his idea to join the colonizing space effort.  He had always wanted to go to space.  I told him that if we come back with a big scoop, the lot of us will be rich beyond our wildest dreams.

That morning, at around 12:30 (local time), we set off for Rix.  Our sea plane met up with a boat that was already at the rendezvous point.  It was a tiny island, about 100 kilometers from the blockade.  The boat had everything.  We said our goodbyes, and got underway.  The trip out was so quiet.  We told the owner not to wait for us.  If we had information, we’d be sending it via secure link via satellite.  Also downloading it to a physical drive, just in case.  Can’t be too careful with what we might find.  Em wanted to be optimistic about finding our father.  I wasn’t.  I knew that if we did find him, he would likely be dead.  It hurt, but it was true.
We got to the drop-off point.  Suiting up, we checked to make sure we had everything.  Our packs had basic supplies (first aid, food, water, our Bands, data drives, clothes, shoes, and tasers.  We also had a couple knives between us.  We couldn’t be too careful, given that we didn’t know what we would find).  After getting into our wetsuits, we hobbled on to the back.  The log was waiting.  Em got in first.  As I was looking to get inside, the owner looked at me.
“Last chance to back out.”
Securing the mask on my face, I checked the audio.  “The last chance was years ago.  I didn’t look back.”
Getting into the log, I felt the ship moving.  The water was flowing through, but we were securely hooked inside.  Kind of a surreal experience.  Unnerving, too.  I had had training on diving, but all that I had done had been in places where you could see the bottom.  This was the open ocean we were in now.  Nothing but endless abyss.  Not gonna lie, that part scared me.  The fear of the endless bottom.  I’m sure there’s a name for that.
About an hour in, we felt the log get detached.  Our calculation had been successful.  We were riding the current.  Now all we could do was wait.  There was enough oxygen in these tanks for 12 hours of diving.  We would only need six to get us within range.  The wait seemed interminable.  Especially since we could only talk when necessary.  Otherwise we risked being heard by the blockade.

In truth, it took four hours for us to reach the city.  Those hours sucked.  Not only did I only have the inside of the log to look at (the alternative was the abyss outside), but a smaller boat came over to have a look.  They stopped, and for a second I thought they might try and hook us.  But they kept moving.  The rumbling in my stomach was insane.  But it was over now.  We continued on.  The sun was coming up.  It would make us more noticeable, but by now we were well past the point where they would be looking for us.  Inside the perimeter.
Then I saw it – the shadow of the city.  The ominous shadow came out of the gloom like some kind of demon.  There had been fish surrounding us.  They cleared out as we got close.  Time to ditch the log.  I motioned for Em to head out the base, while I headed out the top.  She knew the side of the city we were on, and motioned for me to follow her.  The girl had always been better at having a sense of direction.  More swimming in the gloom.  Kept looking at the structure above.  It was massive!
About twenty minutes of swimming, and the two of us reached our destination.  The hatch was smaller than I had imagined.  But I guess it was just for emergency use.  There was still power!  Em held up her arm.  The hatch opened with a burst of bubbles.  Inside was all black.  The two of us swam in.  When it closed, we were in darkness.  Right as we were about to take out our flashlights on our belts, lights came on inside the space we were in.  “Draining Water” a display showed.  “Standby.”
Then, the liquid inside was drained.  “Re-pressurizing Interior.”  A whistling noise that was more than a little deafening.  “Cleared.”  Another hatch opened in front of us.  A series of lights came on flashing towards it.  I guess that meant that we were supposed to go in. The two of us crawled inside and then came out into a much larger space.  Time to change.  Taking off the helmets was fun. It felt like it had glued on to my face.  As I took the wetsuit off, I noticed just how freeing this space was.  Em was shivering.
“Come here,” I told her.
She did as bidden, and I held her close.  “You just wanted to hold me when I’m naked,” she giggled.
“That and stop you from going into shock.  But hey, whatever floats your boat, am I right?”
She kissed me, very softly.  So beautiful.  Her hair was soaked, flowing down around her.  If only the two of us could be like this on some island.  Very Blue Lagoon, as it were.  But that would have to wait.  We both got dressed.  We dried out our arms and then put the Bands on.  I pulled up the display, to see where I was.  The map showed that we were in Maintenance Section 421.  No surprise there.  We had done a rough estimate of where our father would be.  Residential was a long ways away from us.  It would require get on the tramway.  Here’s hoping that we could make it work.  But first, we had to get to Administration, to upgrade our clearance.  Lots to do, but since no one was on board, we had plenty of time.  I looked to Em, who just nodded.  Her hair was in a ponytail now.  Looking fly and ready to conquer the world.  In the dark, I noticed her glowing eyes.  They were fake, naturally.  The girl was born blind.  I knew her when she was little, unable to see.  It had been such a hurdle to overcome.  Some of the tech from this place gave her her eyes back.  It was so eerie, in a way.  The glowing eyes had scared the hell out of me more than once at night.  The light went off when the eyelids closed.  But more than once I had come down a hall, only to see those glowing eyes looking at me from a dark room.  I swear, the girl was just fucking with me to do it.

We left the wetsuit stuff where it was.  Assuming we succeeded, we wouldn’t need it.  Once we got the information to our people, we would try and commandeer a boat out of here.  Try and run the blockade.  Not a great plan, but there it was.  And if that failed, we’d send up a flare and they’d come in and take us.  The damage would be done by then.  The truth would be known.
Lights were coming on as we went down the corridor.  The walls were white.  It was off-putting.  This place was so clean it squeaks.  Literally!  Em kept close.  The Bands had a kind of rudimentary scanning tech embedded in them.  We could get readings about all sorts of stuff.  The biggest question that both of us had as we went through here – where were all the people?  If they were dead, we should have seen bodies.  The cameras this place was famous for saw every step we made.  There were times, and I know this sounds paranoid, where I could have swore that they were watching us.  It was so disconcerting.
All this clean space.  Then, as we went down the hall, music came on!  Scared both us.  To go from such quiet to soft, gentle music playing.  There was a voice that came on with it.
“To facilitate workplace cohesion, music will be played.  Thank you, and have a good day.”
An automated signal?  Looked at Em.  She just shook her head.
We came out of the corridor into a much more open area.  It was some kind of desk, where people would check in.  Workers at the beginning of their shift?  Uncertain.  Right as we were going to really start to question it, that’s when I came upon the first major clue inside.  On the front door, there was a flashing sign.  It read –

Warning: this sector is locked down until further notice.  Phenotoxin B detected inside.

Right as I was about to ask Emily what she thought, I saw the look on her face.  It was one of sheer terror.  Her eyes were looking at something.  My gaze followed, until I realized what it was.  The door was connected to a huge, open window.  I saw lights outside.  The warning signs that were like the one I saw.  Was every place locked down?  This was a problem.  Then I looked down, and felt sick.  Outside the window, there was a smear.  It looked red, but grimy.  Coagulated blood, maybe?  I followed the smear down to where a body was laying on the floor.  It had a face that had once been human.  Now it was deformed to an extreme.  Like it had been smashed with a hammer.  Wait, that smear, it was following the face.  Had their head been smashed into that?  Whatever happened here, it was bad.  For the first time since I started this did I realize that the two of us might be in real trouble.  And now there was no way out.  The only choice was to move forward.

What had I done?

Until next time, a quote,

“Can a man still be brave if he’s afraid?” – Bran Stark, A Song of Ice and Fire

Peace out,

Maverick

Returning to the Club

If you asked me where my preference of the company of the undead to the living started, I’d say that it was one night at a club that I used to frequent.  Before I died, this place and I had quite the repore.  It was a club for the kink lifestyle.  A place for those who liked it rough to come and be themselves.  I used to come to this place most every week.  There were a couple of girls and guys who I would get with.  We could sit and talk about whatever was interesting in life for hours.  Or we could go into the “play rooms” and have some kinky fun.  Either way, it was a fun night.
It had been weeks since I was there.  More than a few.  I had had one of the girls legit call me and ask if everything was okay.  What could I say?  How on Earth could I explain what was happening with me?  That I was a member of the undead.  In fact, I was the greatest of them all now.  They wouldn’t believe me.  Hell, the days when I look in the mirror, and I see the face behind this mortal facade, I don’t even believe.  How can I? Who could possibly see that part of themselves and think that this is who they are?  If there are words to explain that, you tell me.  Seeing my reflection no longer filled me with a feeling that I am not an especially good-looking man.  Now it was sheer horror, because I didn’t see a man’s face.  I saw the skull that was my real face now.
One night, I had one of the girls hit me up repeatedly, asking me to go to the club.  I wanted to find a way to not go.  Hell, I could have just said nothing.  But just because I’m a monster doesn’t mean I have to be a dick.  So, with all the apprehension I had, I got something presentable on and headed out.  I could have just used the robes I have in my natural form to turn into something smoking hot, but why not partake in these mortal clothes while in the mortal shell?  Made sense.

The club itself is the most obscure place imaginable.  It was somewhere that you would never find unless you were looking for it.  Only those who knew about this place knew where to find it.  I found out from an acquaintance I used to run with.  He was an interesting sort.  Told me all about the place.  A drive I had made a thousand times.  Parked on the street.  No charge late at night for street parking.  Nice.  Approaching the door, my stomach was going in all kinds of knots.  Why?  What about this was so frightening?  Memories of my first time being there.  All the awkwardness of being alone in a palace of wonderful sin.  The memories were good.  Some of the best people you’ll ever meet call this place their own.
At the unassuming door, the bouncer looks up at me.  This girl is huge.  The most raging bull-dyke you will ever see.  That’s not me calling her that, by the way.  That was how she was introduced to me by the woman who runs the club.  The lady had no problem with that distinction.  Her face lit up.
“I’ll be damned!  Ain’t seen you in forever!”  She walked over and gave me a hug.  Like I said, good people here.  They are pretty alright, so long as you don’t fuck with them.  In a way outside the good one, anyway.
“Yeah, I…uh…had some stuff going on.”
“Well, you better get in there!  Angie’s been going stir-crazy.  She says that she knows something’s wrong with you.  Her little’s scared that you are made at them.”
I nodded.  “I know.  I’ll have to apologize for that.  I’m not mad at them.  It’s just, some stuff’s been happening recently, and I have kinda been wrapped up in my own shit.”
The bouncer gave me a look.  “You aren’t selling drugs or anything, are you?”
A snort.  “No, nothing like that.  It’s just some personal stuff.  You know how it goes.”
“Yeah, I do.  Anyway, head on inside.”  She held open the door.  Time to face the music.

The first thing about this place is the rank odor.  It’s a wonderful mix of BO, incense, cheap dive, and sex.  You get used to it, after a while.  The weird thing is how clean they keep this place.  It’s part of the rules.  If you don’t clean up after yourself, you get kicked out.  Clean and simple, right?  Well, kinky and simple.  The black  curtains up everywhere, protecting prying eyes from all the debauchery.  The first room is just a place for you to meet-and-greet.  There is a larger social area downstairs, which is connected to the rooms where people can go and fuck.  The big draw behind the largest curtain was the “main dungeon.”  This was where the big spectacle was.  You could watch Doms playing with their subs.  All kinds of games happened here.  All kinds of people.  You’d be amazed.  I’ve watched some of the most unassuming people become totally different in these walls.  It was a place where the lies we feed the rest of the world could fall away.
Next up was the pulsing music.  Why is the assumption that if you are into the kinky lifestyle, you are into heavy metal and sludge-y sex music?  It’s odd.  I’m all oldies, myself.  Wish they would play the Rolling Stones here.  I could fuck someone to that.  Sorry if that’s too much info.  But then, you are reading this, so hey, you get what you’re offered.  Still, it is intense.  Maybe that’s why the play it.  Violent rhythms make you want to explore.  They make your blood flow.  For a place needing an intense atmosphere, that is something to have.
Since I had been a regular here, they didn’t charge me.  They milked the new people for membership fees, but if you were a regular, you got off cheap.  It was nice.  Immediately, people noticed me.  A naval engineer who liked to cross-dress came over and gave me a hug.  Nice guy.  He was a sub in the worst way, but he was a peach to talk to.  Next up was the lady who rang people up.  She was topless.  Looked fantastic.  Had had two kids, and her body was still pretty damn good.  A little sag, in places, but whatever.  Beauty comes in all shapes and sizes.  At least that’s how I see it.  Plus, I admit to having something of a fetish for boobs.  But only the natural ones.  Fake tits are a turn-off.
“Hey you!  You’re back!”
I walked over.  “Yeah.”
“Where’d you disappear to?  Join a cult or something?”
Shrugging.  “Just had some shit to deal with.  You know?”
“I do.  Angie’s downstairs.  Her little will be all stoked to see you.”
“I know.  Talk to you later.”
Heading downstairs, the acrimonious odor of this place was mixed with that of food.  This place is fucking baffling.  An establishment where they basically cater to any fetish that isn’t utterly repulsive or completely unsanitary can serve some pretty alright food.  Weird.  I get down the stairs, having to duck at the bottom.  When I turn the corner, I see them there.  Angie’s blonde hair is falling down her body.  All she’s wearing is a flannel shirt and underwear.  Her little is sitting in her lap, resting her head against her mistress’s shoulder.  The two look up immediately when I enter into the dim lighting.
Without any prompting, Angie’s little hops up and runs over.  The girl wraps her arms around me, like a little kid with her dad.  It fits, given the dynamic she has with her mistress.  I hug her back.
“Hey you.”
“Hi,” the girl replies in her mousey way.  “Why have you been gone so long?  You made mommy worry.”
“I know.  I’m sorry.”
Walking over, Angie looked down at her little.  The girl immediately jumped back, head down.  The woman had compete power over the girl.  I had to give her that.  The age difference had some people confused.  A woman just over 30 with a girl who was literally just out of high school.  But it is something you don’t understand until you’re there.
“You’re back!”  In addition to hugging me, she gave me a soft kiss.  God, this girl’s lips.  Never have I met a woman who can kiss like this.  Not once.  My current tastes being where they are, I can’t deny that these lips I have missed.  Her little is quite the kisser as well.  Something that she’s been learning from her mistress.  A better teacher, I cannot imagine.  After all, you wanna learn how to kiss from someone who knows what they’re doing, right?
Pulling back, she looks up at me.  “Where have you been?”
I don’t meet her eyes.  “Some stuff happened, Angie.  I’ve had a lot to deal with.”  If only I could tell her.  She wouldn’t believe.  She’d think I was insane.  There’s no way I could show her.  She’d be horrified.  I’m horrified.  There were so many mirrors in this place.  Was having to avoid my reflection so much.
Speaking without permission, the little had to make a point.  “Mommy’s been worried.  She thinks that you’re mad at her.”
The girl stopped talking when she got a mean look.
“It’s not you, Angie.  I swear, it’s not.  Some stuff happened, and I just couldn’t do this for a while.”
Now she was wanting more answers.  Her dominate side was coming out.  “Like what?  What was it?  Did you do something wrong?  You aren’t dating anyone, so it wasn’t that.”  She takes my hand.  “What happened?”
How much did I wish that I could tell her the truth?  “Look, Angie, I can’t get into that right now.  I just don’t have the energy or the willpower.  We came here to talk and have some fun.  So let’s do that.”
Gotta give one thing for unlife – sex does make things easier.  Been finding that out with Karamel for weeks.
“Alright, but I’m not letting this go.”  A sly smile.  “Maybe I can get an answer out of you when you’re on your back.”
Take it from me, this woman is never on her back.  She’s a top, and she damn well knows it.  I’ve never complained.

Into one of the play rooms.  So much sex smell floating through this place.  Won’t deny, it was a touch intoxicating.  The Witches Brew is so clean by comparison.  Kink can bring out some raunchy shit in people, am I right?  Anyway, Angie pushes me on to the bed.  I’m looking right into her eyes.  The fire and passion.  She undoes the buttons on her shirt, letting it fall away.  So gorgeous.  Toned and firm.  A life of working her boy out and making sure that she is in fantastic shape.  Her little strips down as well.  Her chest is bound with ropes.  Girl always loved that.
Angie tells the girl to attend to me while she gets ready.  Making out with this girl was always strange.  There was still an age difference between us as well.  My mid-twenties made being with a girl out of high school an odd affair.  But this girl was every bit the fantastic kisser that her mistress is.  The intoxication was flowing through me as well.  Soon, the girl backs off.  Angie’s hand is on her shoulder.  The girl quickly gets off the bed, on her knees on the floor.  Now I am being attended to by her.  The passion ratchets up fast.  I can’t keep my hands off her.  The heat in here has made her body sweat.  I barely notice.  Perks of being undead, right?  Discomfort from the heat is a living person’s problem.  Slick, hot, gorgeous.  I can’t stop wanting the closeness she is offering.  It feels fantastic.
The passion is going higher and higher.  We’re both naked now.  I want her.  All of her.  But then I feel it,  The nagging doubt.  The strangeness.  I look into the eyes of the woman on top of me, and I suddenly can see things.  I see the blood vessels running through her body.  My vision skills are flashing.  No!  I force my eyes to see things as a mortal would.  Why can’t I make this part of myself go away.  I don’t want to be a Reaper right now.  But it doesn’t leave.  No matter how hard I try, it isn’t going away.
Angie notices my sudden apprehension.  “What’s wrong?!” she asks.
“Nothing.  Just a little out of practice.”  I smile up at her, taking her in my arms.  A dominate part of myself is coming up.  In fact, I want to take more.  I want to prove that I’m not a corpse.  Tonight’s the night that I show that she can be topped.  With all the power and eagerness, I attack her lips and her body.  In one smooth motion, I move to be on top of her.  Fire is in the woman’s eyes.  This hasn’t happened before, and she likes it.  Her little looks up in awe.  Invigorated, my eagerness keeps flowing out.  We join together, and she is all over the place.  Soft moans, escaping as her body tense and she joins the effort.  This is such an amazing night.
That’s when it happens.  There’s a mirror!  It’s to the side of the bed.  As I am going at her body, my eyes catch it.  Then, I see the truth.  I see me as a skeletal monster, on top of this beautiful naked woman.  What had I become?  What had I done?  I should have just let myself die.  The Necropolis couldn’t be as painful as this.  My skeletal fingers were inside of her.  My revulsion at what I saw had stopped me cold.
Looking up with desperation, she grabbed at me.  “What?!  What’s wrong?!”
I can’t speak.  There are no words.  All I can do is stare at my reflection and feel so dead inside.  Tears start running down my face.
“I’m so sorry, Angie.  I gotta go.  It’s nothing you did.  I just, can’t be here right now.”
Jumping up and grabbing me, the woman held on tight.  “No!  What the fuck is wrong with you?!  What’s going on?!  Just tell me!  For fuck’s sake, why can’t you talk to me?!”
There was only one way I could put it.  “I died, Angie.  I died, and now I’m still here.  Now, all I can think about is the fact that I was dead.  I’m sorry, but I can’t do this.  Not now.  I swear, I’ll be back.  For now, I just gotta get my head on straight.”
Dressing at record speed, I move out as quick as I can.  The last thing I saw as I left was Angie’s little coming on to the bed and hugging her mistress, who was crying profusely.  What a complete bastard I am.  The worst person imaginable.  But then, I’m not human anymore.  That was another life.  One I’ll never get back.

I arrived at The Witches Brew apartments a little over half and hour later.  Going inside, I see the Madam look up.
“Ah, welcome back!”
“Is she available?” I ask.  She knows who I mean.
“Yes, she is.  Head on up.”
“Thank you.”
It’s almost a mad dash up the stairs.  I just need to find this woman who understands.  The moment I reach the door and open it, I see her there.  In a ruby-red nightie, my undead vision sees her huge fangs, in her natural form.  Immediately, I feel at peace.
The vampire looks up at me, with her cryptic expression.  “I smell sex on you, Reaper.  Where have you been tonight?”
Not saying a word, I walk over to the bed she’s sitting on.  I lay down and put my head on her lap.  Words don’t come to me.  All I do is lay there and cry, with her running her fingers through my hair.  I’ve become a monster, in every way that matters.  The worst thing is, there’s no way home now.

Until next time, a quote,

“Beyond a certain point, there is no return.  This point has to be reached.” -Franz Kafka

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Review: Until Dawn

Until DawnIn case my gushing about how much I am enjoying Life is Strange hasn’t informed you, I love games where my choices matter.  That’s something that I will always enjoy.  A game that does it well is something I am utterly infatuated with.  It’s part of why I am so nervous about the last act to Life is Strange.  Games that do it poorly piss me off.  When I heard about this game, it was just before it came out.  Then, all my friends tell me – play this game, bro!  So, I go to Gamestop, and they were out.  But then I went to Fred Meyer’s, and I got a copy.  I brought it home, put it in my PS4, and now I can safely say – I’m in love with this game!  This year has had some sleeper success stories.  It’s been a slow year, and I’m glad to say that even though it’s slow, what we’re getting is quality stuff.  Let’s talk about this game.

When I say that your choices matter, they really do.  And this game is NOT subtle about reminding you.  There are several instances in the beginning of the game that throw in your face – YOUR CHOICES MATTER!  Thankfully, the lack of subtlety feels right.  Early on in this game, there is nothing subtle, and thank the Spirits for that.  I love the lack of subtlety.  To put it simply – this game puts you in the driver’s seat of a teen slasher flick.  That’s the best way to describe it.  This is a teen slasher movie, and you have total control over the narrative.  Remember all the times that you said, “man, if I were in their shoes, I wouldn’t have done any of that!”  Now you get to see what you learned from horror films.  Hopefully you were a good student, because now your skills are going to be put to the test.

After a dark event, the full details of which I won’t say because it is a bit of a spoiler, seven friends are gathered at a mountain retreat, a full year after a tragic event in their past.  It’s an attempt to put the past behind them, fix the bonds of friendship that have been tearing them apart, and have some sexy fun.  However, all is not as it seems when they are being hunted.  By whom?  Why?  Well, if you play your cards right, you can find out.  Play them wrong, and you find out just how quickly this game will fuck you up.

If you’re gonna have a teen slasher flick, you gotta have teens who are stereotypical and annoying.  This game has that in spades!  If you thought that the dialogue in Life is Strange was bad at times, you ain’t seen nothing yet.  The dialogue in this game can be bad in ways you can’t imagine, but don’t worry.  This was totally intentional, and I love it.  However, because you control the events of this game, how annoying, stupid, or derpy these characters are is up to you.  You shape the relationships of this game, and since the voice acting is done well (once the plot gets rolling), you care about these characters by the end.  Who lives and dies does become a hard choice, and you WILL get stuck in positions where you have to make those choices.  These are fun characters, and part of that fun is cultivating the relationships and making these characters grow in unique ways.

The next thing that I absolutely love about this game is its atmosphere.  Oh my god, this game looks great!  From the way that the jeans hug the perfect ass of the blonde, to the scenery of the environment, this game looks phenomenal.  It isn’t like the visuals in Bloodborne, but it still has so much depth.  Plus, it takes its time to get you sucked in.  When this game wants to shine, it truly does.  For a good horror film, you need the right atmosphere.  It’s clear that the people who made this game took the time to watch as many slasher flicks as they could, and I am so grateful.  There were moments that made me think of Evil Dead (the original, not that shit-bird remake.  Fuck that movie) or Cabin in the Woods.  Given that this game is meant to be a derivative of teen slasher films, that fits.

Then there is the horror elements.  It’s a teen slasher flick, you need a good slasher.  This is just awesome.  The voice acting the presence.  I have been gripping my controller for hours.  Why did I decide to play this game at night?  In the dark?  Alone?  Is there something wrong with me?  Doesn’t help that there is a party going on across the way at the apartment complex next to mine.  The shouting into the night of drunk people is freaking me out.

I love this game.  With the multiple endings, I guarantee you that you will not finish the game the same way twice in a row.  It is the kind of game that almost demands multiple playthroughs.  Some of the mistakes that you can make are ones that aren’t connected to choices.  There are quick-time events that can just as easily affect who lives or dies.  But the really crazy thing is that sometimes this game puts you in a situation where you can choose to do nothing, and that’s a totally valid choice.  It’s crazy.  Then there are times when the game tells you to freeze.  You can’t move anything.  Not even your controller.  So many options!  So much to do!  Gathering clues, learning, surviving.  It’s a blast!  What sick bastard thought of this game?!  I love them.

Oh yeah, and get this – Peter Stormare is in this!  My friend told me that, and I’m like, “Oh, so does he play some cooky or creepy character?”  He’s like, “Nope.  You’re gonna love this.  He’s in the game just to fuck with you – the player.”  I have no singular reason why they decided to have this element in there, but it’s awesome.  It sounds like Stormare had loads of fun with this role.  Hayden Panettierre is also in here, looking hot as ever.  Haven’t seen her in anything since Heroes

Compelling mystery, derivation on the teen slasher genre, lots of choices, lots of endings, if this sounds like your think – buy this game!  Buy it now!  You probably already have bought it, so I am talking to no one.  Everybody may be gushing about Metal Gear Solid V (a game I have no intention of playing, sorry), but this is the game of my fall.  If this sounds like what you want to play, then do it.  Trust me, you haven’t played anything like this before.

Final Verdict
9 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Review: Under the Skin

Under the SkinMan, this film.  This movie has done something to me that I never would have thought possible.  It is one of the most brilliantly-constructed films I have seen in a long time, and I viscerally hate it.  I hate every minute of it.  As amazing as this film is in all technical respects, I hate it.  How does that even work?  You’d think that I would at least have some respect for how perfect the construction is.  But I don’t.  I have no respect for it at all.  I hate this film.  It is so unpleasant.  There is a kind of off-putting unpleasantness that makes me hate this film on so many levels.  How is this possible?!  It’s driving me nuts!  It won’t leave my mind!  Let’s talk about it.

The film stars Scarlett Johansson as a nameless creature in human skin.  She goes through a Scottish town, finding people.  She lures them to a dark place, and then they die.  The story chronicles her journeys, and that is all I can say about the plot.  This is an incredibly simple film.  Deceptively so.  A lot of elements play out, and this film never holds your hand.

The first thing to know about this film is that it’s dark.  Really, really dark.  The levels of darkness that this film goes to are seldom-reached by any film.  No blood, no gore.  Just darkness.  In fact, the thing to know about this film is that it uses darkness to its advantage.  Almost non-stop.  Which ties right in to the second thing to know about this film – it will freak you the fuck out!  This movie is scary!  From the opening shot, it is just creepy!  There is a huge fear aspect, and almost all of it is subliminal.  I am totally behind calling this film – nightmare-fuel.  If you watch this movie when it’s dark, with no outside sounds, it will fuck up your mind.

I do have to give this film one thing – the soundtrack.  It is constantly off-putting.  I mean constantly.  Not one time does this movie let up and give you a break.  From the very first shot, with that creepy music playing, it takes you off-center.  The best thing about it is that it isn’t cliche horror music.  It is…I don’t know.  Like, it makes me think of old slasher films.  Really old slashers.  There is that creepy ambiance music that plays in the background.  That’s what this is.  However, the score is used sparingly.  This is a film that trades on quiet.  Whether it be complete silence, soft ambient sound or radio news, this film has very little noise.  That’s part of the reason that it’s so fucking scary.  No matter what the scene, the sound totally fucks with you.

Then there are the performances.  Johansson turns in a performance like none that I have seen in a very long time.  This woman has come into her own as an actress in a huge way.  From the brilliant voice-work in Her, to the off-putting creature of unknown origin in this film.  You can never read her.  Ever.  The expressions she uses, the subtle way she just stares and looks at things.  Whether she is surveying us humans as prey or just sitting and listening to the radio.  It’s all subliminal.  Like it’s in her mind.  Her body language speaks volumes.

Why do I hate this movie?!  For real, this film has everything going for it!  It has strong acting.  The shots are set up amazingly.  The music sets the ton perfectly.  Why do I hate this film?  I’ve been debating this with myself for some time.  I can’t figure it out.  Maybe it’s just the unrelenting cruelty of the film.  For real, it never lets up.  There is a scene on a beach that I watch and the whole time I’m thinking – what the fuck is wrong with you, movie?!  Why did you have a scene like that?!  Why would you make such a horrifically-unpleasant scene for us to watch?!

This ties in to the camerawork.  There is never a scene where the actors look at the camera.  Even when it is staring right at them, they are always looking slightly off to the outside.  It’s like we are trapped in this film.  We, the audience, are trapped with this film.  We are stuck watching these horrible things happen.  There is nothing we can do.  We can’t save the people who are being killed.  We can’t stop the awful things that are happening.  All we can do is watch, and pray that we’re not next.  God I hate this film!  I hate it so much that I can’t help but love it.

There are few films that do this well at their job.  For real, it almost never happens.  Almost never do I see a film that sticks with me the way that this one does.  I felt so powerless, watching it.  I kept wanting to jump into the screen and stop the events transpiring.  But I couldn’t.  All I could do was sit there and watch.  And for that, I give this movie major props.  I hate this film so much that I have to love it.  I think that might just be the highest praise I have ever given a film.  Which brings us to my Verdict.  This has been unbelievably hard.

Final Verdict
9 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

Lucien’s Review: The Evil Within

The Evil WithinWith the glut of action games, survival horror has become something of a lost art.  There are games that have come closer than others to recreating that kind of game, but aside from the Indie space, this genre has kind of fallen to the wayside.  However, the original creator of Resident Evil, the remake and the vaunted Resident Evil 4 has decided to team up with Bethesda and bring us a new game.  And let me tell you, without any doubt – survival horror is back!  This game is in the vein of the best of the genre.  I haven’t enjoyed a horror title this much in a long time.  Anyone who wants to call foul, due to my love of The Last of Us, I don’t consider that game this kind of horror.  It’s more of a survival story, with horror elements.  This game is back to form, and it shows that, once-again, the games that I am good at picking my favorite game.  This game was at the top of my most-anticipated games of 2014 list.  I have a gift.

The plot of this game doesn’t take much time to get going.  Detective Sebastian and his two partners report to a mental hospital.  There has been some kind of emergency, with tons of people dead.  After exploring a bloodbath, he is knocked unconscious, awakening in a nightmare that he couldn’t imagine.  A place where what is real and what isn’t are constantly questioned, with answers being few and far between.  Is it Hell, chaos or something worse?  This game keeps the answers sparse, up until the perfect moment to break it in a mind-bending way that will have you colored-impressed.

Before getting into the nit-picky details of the game, the first thing to know is that this game is true to survival horror.  Resources are scarce, ammo is limited and stealth is definitely your friend.  However, traveler beware, when you kill enemies.  A trick was brought back from the remake of Resident Evil.  The only way you can make sure that an enemy stays down for good is when you blow their head off, blow them up, or light fallen foes on fire.  And a clean headshot doesn’t guarantee that.  Sometimes you need more than one.  These things aren’t your typical zombies, given the nature of where you are.  You have to completely destroy the head to bring them down.  This game keeps the constant worry about resources going strong. Even on the lower difficulty, it doesn’t let up.

Another great element are the boss fights.  Given the nature of the world that this is all going down in, the game gives you some pretty creative bosses that you have to tackle.  And not all of them can be dealt with by shooting.  Some of them, you can’t kill at all, and your only option is to run like a lunatic.  Then there are others where only specific elements can kill them.  And those who seem dead, but are fooling you.  Every boss in this game is unique and difficult as fuck.  The difficulty never lets up.  The scarce ammo becomes and even bigger issue when this happens.  You don’t want to be stuck facing down a dog-monster from Hell with only a few rounds on you.

The visuals in this game are a bit of a mixed bag.  I got it on PS4, but it is resoundingly clear that this game was made for the last generation.  That’s not a bad thing.  The environments are gorgeous, with some being real treats for the eyes.  Granted, there is a lot of shadow and fog, but when the game does open up, it really opens up.  However, the character models are very last-generation, with some effects of them looking like early-PS3 work.  That said, when this game wants to shine, it really does.

Speaking of characters, this game has some interesting ones.  You don’t know much about any of them going in, but over time you learn more and more, with details being flushing out gradually.  That feels more realistic, and it allows you to bond with each character as the story progresses.  Sebastian starts out pretty bland, but as you peel away the layers, he gets far more interesting and you see a side to him that he was trying very hard to conceal.  Then there is the creepy nurse who is at the areas in the game that function as save points.  Yeah, that element – safe zones where you can save and stock up – was ripped straight out of Resident Evil.  Though you don’t exchange money for upgrades.  You exchange ‘brain juice.’  Probably best if we don’t know what that is.

The last thing to address is the horror.  Does this game just rely on jump scares to frighten you?  Absolutely not!  The world that Sebastian and his people are taken to is OOZING with creepy atmosphere.  Given the nature of the story, you probably have inferred that nowhere makes a lot of sense.  Even the safe places have an off-putting atmosphere about them.

This has been a very dull year, for gaming.  However, as it comes to a close, we are given a masterpiece of survival horror that is en par with the classics in the elements that made those great games.  This is my favorite game of this year and I hope that you all get to play it.  Especially if you have gotten tired of all the ho-hum action zombie games that think they are worthy of the title of ‘Horror.’

Final Verdict
8 out of 10

Peace out,

Maverick

Top 10 Horror Films

I haven’t done a post like this in a dog’s age.  Originally, I intended to do this as my Halloween post.  Well, the time of year has long passed, but the concept is worth something anyway.  Here is my list of my top ten horror films.  If you like what’s here, let me know.  Be sure to say what your favorite horror films are as well.  Open dialogue changes the world.

Dead Silence10. Dead Silence
On the surface, this horror film is like a dozen others.  There is a supernatural monster, evil puppets and the plot isn’t all that unique.  However, as with others on this list, the trick is all in the execution.  Especially with respect to the villain.  Mary Shaw was a remarkably intimidating villain, given her frail look and dark voice.  Sure, the puppets added to it, but she was still something.  I also liked her motivation.  She didn’t just kill people because she could.  Without giving it away (because it is central to the plot), her reason for killing people was tied up in her hobby and how she died.  The film made a lot of use of dark lighting and good practical effects.  All-in-all, while it isn’t a ground-breaking horror film, it is still very good all the same.

The Woman in Black9. The Woman in Black
Something that bugs me about the modern horror scene is that it seems like every film these days is trying to use gratuitous amounts of gore to appeal to the gross-out factor.  Called “torture porn,” by the Saw and Hostel franchises, it is rare to see a horror film come out these days that doesn’t have it.  This film is not one of those.  It is also nice to see that Daniel Radcliffe can act outside of the Harry Potter films.  I was worried that he would be typecast after those movies, but this film showed that his acting chops go much further than that.  Since he is alone so much in this film, in the dark house the film is set in, seeing him able to have such versatility as an actor was nice.  Plus, this film got the setting and mood just right.  Set inside a house in a bog.  The sense of isolation is perfectly captured.  Plus, the way that they used the toys inside the house was scary as shit!  A very intimidating film that showed that great horror can be done without all the blood and guts.  But that’s not to say that it has no place, as you’ll see in another entry.

The Ring8. The Ring
The ONLY remake of a Japanese horror film that actually works, but that’s because of it having Gore Verbinski as the director.  He know what he’s doing.  The sequel was crap, but the original film was a wonderfully-dark psychological horror film.  Part of my interest in this film is due to the well-shot video that the film is based on.  The story of a little girl and her psychotic journey down the rabbit hole, only to make a video which punishes other people for what was done to her, which is an ironically-common theme in horror films.  The premise of the main character only having seven days to figure the mystery out before she dies is even better, making it feel like there is a time limit and that the race is on.  Seven days to death, as it were.  An underrated film, if you ask me, and one of my personal favorites.

The Shining7. The Shining
You probably saw this coming.  I mean, Stanley Kubrick is one of the greatest filmmakers of all time.  So it only makes sense that a film of his is on the list.  It’s ironic that Stephen King hated this movie.  He was personally-involved in a remake some years later, which sucked so much ass.  But this film is a classic piece of horror.  The Overlook Hotel will go down in history as one of the greatest horror settings of all time.  The pacing, the shots, the dialogue and the unbelievable use of psychological horror was just amazing.  This movie scares you from start to finish.  My favorite scene is the one in the bar.  You see the main character’s descent into madness, along with some amazing dialogue that shows us just how much he is enjoying it.  Arguably the greatest horror film ever made, it is on this list for a reason.

Sleepy Hollow6. Sleepy Hollow
Comedy and horror.  Those two things are VERY hard to merge together.  But wouldn’t you know it, Tim Burton does it almost flawlessly.  This is Burton at his best, before his work went completely downhill.  The cinematography of this film is amazing.  Depp’s performance as Ichabod Crane is hilarious and the Headless Horseman is such an intimidating villain.  Christopher Walken’s portrayal of him before he loses his head (which is oddly uncredited in the film.  Weird, right?) is intimidating as fuck.  There is a neat twist about the villain that actually is pretty good.  But the best selling point of this film is the dark atmosphere and the overly-fake blood and gore.  It is totally ridiculous, but this was a deliberate decision.  Since this film involves a lot of headless bodies, it is only natural that one would have a lot of gore.  But this film makes it work because it isn’t realistic and it is used in a way that makes sense within the film.  A film that is so underrated, and one of my favorites.

Ginger Snaps5. Ginger Snaps
This film proved that a film does not need a huge budget to be a good one.  This film is amazing, for what it had to work with.  Telling the story of two sisters – Ginger, the dominant and over-powering sister and Bridgette, the submissive and vastly intelligent younger, it is a story about the supernatural and maturity.  It mixes the themes of womanhood, werewolf lore, growing up and puberty into one terrifying package.  While the plot alone is good, seeing the lengths that Bridgette will go to to protect her sister, who is clearly the only person in her world who matters, all while finding out what she is made of, is just beautiful.  This is a very dark film, mixing heart-breaking drama with grotesque horror and personal tragedy.  This film proves – never judge something by its cover. (except Twilight and the Hunger Games.  You can judge those things all you want.  They suck!)

2001 A Space Odyssey4. 2001: A Space Odyssey
A lot of you might be thinking – wait, isn’t that a sci-fi film?  Sci-fi and horror are not mutually exclusive.  Nowhere is this better displayed than my favorite of Stanley Kubrick’s movies, this one.  This film is psychological horror at its best.  HAL is one of the greatest villains of all time.  A monster who feels no emotion, has no malice, it is merely going on programmed instinct.  The terror of this creation came from the fact that we made it.  This monster is a product of our design, acting on programmed instinct.  We have no one to blame but ourselves for what it does.  The slow pace of this film can bug some.  Robot Chicken did a very funny parody of this by having a girl with nice boobs inserted into shots from it.  But for me, this was just the right kind of psychological terror, and much like another choice on here, it shows that sci-fi and horror are great bed-fellows.

Alien3. Alien
Another science fiction film that is a great horror film.  Since Ridley Scott knew that he was going to be making a movie with a dude in a rubber suit, he made this film all about its psychology elements.  The feeling of isolation in this film is captured nigh-perfectly.  The tagline for this film set it up flawlessly – no one can hear you scream in space.  Nice.  The story of the Nostromo and the xenomorph is now among sci-fi film legends.  The xenomorphs were a terrifying and implacable enemy who slowly stalks its prey, turning a very professional crew, along with very well-trained and well-armed marines in the sequel into terrified children in its presence.  These creatures are smart, without mercy and stalk their prey with absolute precision.  A wonderfully terrifying film, that I still remember fondly to this day.

Let the Right One In2. Let the Right One In
Since this is one of my favorite films of all time, you may be wondering why it isn’t at the top of the list.  I’ll get to that.  This film is amazing.  Each visual, each line of dialogue, each shot is utterly perfect.  The tale of a young boy and his growing love for a vampire is among the greatest films ever made.  Why America had to go and make their own shitty-ass version of it is beyond me.  We seem to do that a lot.  It’s like – if another country made a good film, then by god, so can we.  Wrong!  Almost always wrong!  However, the original Swedish version is one of my favorite films, with just the right mix of romance, horror and dark imagery.  But my favorite scene in the film is all done in one take, without seeing hardly anything.  A young boy is being drowned, and the people who are drowning him are being brutally killed.  Not one scene of this massacre do you see, with the camera holding on the boy’s head underwater, vaguely hearing the screaming and carnage above.  Beautiful.

And my favorite horror film of all time is –

The Thing1. The Thing (John Carpenter’s remake)
Talk about a film that got SO little respect.  Both Siskel and Ebert tore it to pieces, due to the level of gore in the film.  And yeah, the gore levels in this film are off the chart.  But here’s the thing – it’s never in bad taste.  The creature in the film is able to become anything.  Any organic life form.  Every single part of it is dangerous.  Every single part of it can mutate.  Even its blood is a threat.  The sense of isolation in this film is amazing.  All of the main character’s are believable, with their sense of impending doom getting ever closer as the monster starts tearing them apart.  How it all comes together is the icing on the cake.  An unappreciated film in the worst way that I mean to get people to recognize for how good it truly is.  If you haven’t seen it, and you have the stomach for it, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

So, those are my favorites.  How about all of you?  Any horror films that catch your eye?  Let me know in the comments section.

Until next time, a quote,

“Why don’t we just wait here for a little while.  See what happens.”  -MacReady, The Thing

Peace out,

Maverick