Quick Fantasy/Sci-fi/Horror TV Reviews by A. Kirana

The 2013-2014 TV Season is well underway.  Fantasy and horror themed shows seem to be well represented, which isn’t surprising given the cult-like following of shows such as: Supernatural, The Vampire Diaries, Grimm, Once Upon a Time, The Walking Dead, American Horror Story, and many others.  Here is what I think about a few of the new shows.

Hoping to cash in on the popularity of this genre, as well as its predecessor, Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, finds us following the story of Alice.  We first meet Alice as she is climbing out of the rabbit hole, unaware of the length of time she has been away.  When her father answers the door, he at first does not say anything to her, as she began to prattle on about her fantastical journey through Wonderland.  His silence during her narration made her question him.  He answered her, letting her know that she had been gone so long that they assumed her dead.  With her tales of Wonderland being her only explanation of her absence, it was decided she would be committed for her own good.  Upon overhearing this decision, Alice decides to return to Wonderland to bring back proof of its existence.  It was during this journey that she met and fell in love with a Genie by the name of Cyrus.  Of course, being a fairy tale story, the road to their ‘True Love’ was not going to be easy as they found themselves being pursued by the Red Queen, who seemed to have thrown Cyrus to his death.  Alice returns home after she witnessed Cyrus’s death and finds herself committed where Alice seemed to have accepted her fate.  Then in walks the Knave of Hearts, who, upon insistence from the white rabbit, goes to help Alice escape with the message that Cyrus is still alive.  Hearing the words that her love, Cyrus was still alive, Alice steels herself and returns to Wonderland.  Obstacles meet her every move as it is discovered the Red Queen is working with Jafar who are searching for Alice to retrieve the 3 wishes Cyrus bestowed upon her.

I was looking forward to this show, in particular, since I love the original and the glimpses into Wonderland we saw was enough to pique my interest. I really wanted to like this show, but unfortunately, all that I love about the first is not present in this spin-off.  Where I feel it is the strength of the actors that keep OUAT from becoming campy and clichéd, Wonderland cannot say the same.  Alice (Sophie Lowe) is likeable enough, but somehow I do not feel invested in her love to Cyrus (Peter Gadiot).  The Knave of Hearts (Michael Socha), in my opinion, is the only character that I enjoy watching but is not enough to hold my interest. Naveen Andrews’ Jafar seems more cartoonish in his evilness when compared to Robert Carlyle’s Rumplestilskin, and maybe I’ve been spoiled by the talent of Lana Parilla as she plays the Evil Queen, but Emma Rigby’s Red Queen seems more churlish and bratty than evil.  I also feel that just concentrating on the love story that is Alice and Cyrus does not hold the same effect as seeing the love stories on OUAT unfold, as I quickly became bored with Alice and Cyrus.  I prefer watching the myriad of fairy tales stories unfold with the rich tapestry of characters that get turned on its head than just being immersed in the singular world of Wonderland.  I think it would’ve served the story better if Alice and her storyline was just another one of the many chapters and worlds that make up the original Once Upon a Time.  Once Upon a Time in Wonderland air Thursdays at 8 p.m. on ABC.

 

The opposite can be said of Sleepy Hollow, when I first saw the previews and commercials of this show, I was not interested in another retelling of the Washington Irving classic.  I could not imagine how different they could spin it. But after the airing of the season premiere, there was a buzz about this show among my friends, enough that it made me decide to watch it.  I must say that I do not regret doing so.  The previews and ads did not do this show justice.  I was happily surprised with the premiere and subsequent episodes of Sleepy Hollow.  The premiere sets the story up nicely.  In 1781, during the Revolutionary War, Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison), faces and decapitates, the Horseman, but not before he notices a brand on the Horseman’s hand.  Crane, though the victor, was mortally wounded and collapsed on the battlefield.  Forward to 2013, the Headless Horseman awakens and quickly goes about lopping people’s heads off and as that is going on, Ichabod Crane rises from his own grave.  Unaware he has woken up 250 years in the future, Crane makes his way out of his burial tomb.  Confused and lost, he is quickly picked up and arrested for the murders of the headless victims when he is found wandering around town.  For Crane, it goes from bad to worse when he is interrogated and claims he was a soldier in the Revolutionary War under General Washington’s command.  After much laughter at Crane’s expense, he is thrown behind bars.  Meanwhile, another beheading takes place and being that Crane was incarcerated at the time, it was implausible for Crane to be the killer, but because of what the police deemed to be delusional ramblings, the new chief (Orlnado Jones) decided to have Crane committed and Lt. Abbie Mills (Nicole Behrie) would be the one to transfer him.  On the drive, a connection between the pair is established and the Lt. defies orders instead bringing him to his burial site, where he learns the Headless Horseman was Death of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.  A short time later, as Crane slept, he was visited by his dead wife, who he finds out was put to death for being a witch and who told him the Headless Horsemen, upon his awakening, was trying to locate his head which would return his powers and bring forth the Apocalypse.

Laced with horror, mythology, conspiracy theories and a little bit of comedy, this show has quickly become one of my favorite new shows. The cast is quite likeable and seem capable enough of handling the writing without taking themselves too seriously.  Nicole Behrie’s Abbie seemed a bit too stiff in the premiere episode but since has relaxed and embraced the situation she finds herself in.  I’m not too sure if her stiffness was due in part of her character or her acting, but either way she seems to have gotten more comfortable in her skin. Tom Mison is thoroughly enjoyable to watch as he portrays Crane with equal parts confidence and wonder.  The chemistry that has formed between Crane and Lt. Mills works, though I’m hoping that it doesn’t turn into a romantic relationship.  I see their chemistry growing out of teacher/student relationship they have with one another with Crane instructing the Lt. in the arcane and, in turn, the Lt. teaching Crane about the modern world and how to blend in.  My one gripe would be why the Lt. has yet to take Crane shopping to update his attire.  I’m enjoying the mythology being created for the show and each new demon we have run into makes me want to tune in for the next. I wonder where the show will go if good prevails and the Apocalypse is thwarted.  The good news is I can safely get hooked and not fear cancellation since, on October 3rd, 2013, less than a month after its premiere FOX, renewed Sleepy Hollow for its second season.  It’s hard to believe I almost didn’t watch it.  Sleepy Hollow airs Mondays at 9 p.m. on FOX.

 

Technically, American Horror Story is in its third season but being that each season has no connection to each other, with the exception of repeating stars and theme song, I decided to treat it as a brand new show.  American Horror Story: Coven brings us to New Orleans, both in the 1830s and in present day, where we first meet Delphine LaLaurie (Kathy Bates) and her three daughters.  While putting on haughty airs to maintain her high society standing, LaLaurie was keeping a number of her slaves imprisoned in her attic and tortured beyond belief.  Her latest addition was a slave who was caught having sex with one of her daughters.  In her anger, she orders him to be taken to the attic and hung up.  When she confronts him, she tells him that since he enjoyed rutting like a beast, she would turn him into one.  She made another one of her slaves behead a bull and cover the slave’s head with the bull’s head, turning him into a pseudo-minotaur.  Unbeknownst to LaLaurie, the slave she has recently taken a morbid liking to, was the lover of a Voodoo High Priestess/Queen, Marie Laveau (Angela Bassett).  When hearing the fate that has befallen her love, she decides to bestow the gift of immortality to LaLaurie and bury her in an undisclosed location.  In the present day, we meet Fiona Goode (Jessica Lange) who we learn is the Supreme of a coven of witches.  As she feels her own mortality weighing heavily upon her, she becomes obsessed with immortality.  Her daughter, Cordelia Foxx (Sarah Paulsen) runs a private school for young witches to learn how to use their powers wisely and survive in the modern world.  Fiona arrives at the school to oversee her daughter’s teaching, unhappy with the way she is running the school, and takes it upon herself to instruct and discipline the girls as she sees fit. Her search for immortality is always first in her mind. Fiona learns about the tales of Delphine LaLaurie and finds, digs up and returns with her to the school.  And from LaLaurie, Fiona learns that she was tricked into drinking an elixir created by Laveau which caused her immortality, which she has seen more as a curse than a gift since all that she knew and loved has been long since buried.

AHS: Coven is entertaining with enough creepiness weaved through the tale.  Though this may not be of a popular opinion, I feel at times the show tries too hard, but honestly, that is how I felt with all three seasons.  I’m not sure whether the fault lies with the writers or the cast.  The cast is more than capable enough.  Jessica Lange, as usual, is a joy to watch.  Kathy Bates’ Delphine LaLaurie makes her character in Misery seem sweet.  Angela Bassett seems to be enjoying herself as she plays Marie Laveau.  At times I feel they rely too much on clichés.  In the first episode alone I saw glimpses of Harry Potter (a student is taken from their home, to go on a train ride to enroll in a school for witchcraft), and Carrie (a girl uses her telekinetic powers to flip over a vehicle filled with those who have wronged her).  The second episode dealt with a Frankenstein’s Monster theme (body parts were stitched together to create the perfect ‘boyfriend’). Even with the clichés, the show is still enjoyable to watch and continues to keep me tuning in.  I’m looking forward to where the show will go.  American Horror Story: Coven airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. on FX.

The Munsters Minimates Get Moving in the New Minimates Koaches!

The Munsters were one of the more unusual families in American television history, and their family car was just as unusual as they were! While the Munsters fused Transylvania with Suburbia, the Munster Koach fused a hearse with a hot rod, combining speed, size and solemnity into one classy package! Was this the world’s first hybrid vehicle? Well, Diamond Select Toys is celebrating the Koach’s place in car culture with two different Minimates vehicles — one in color at Toys “R” Us and one in glorious black-and-white at comic shops and specialty stores. Both come with a Minimate of Herman Munster, but while the color version comes with an extra sad head, the monochrome edition comes wearing his famous drag-racing outfit! Check out the packaging pics below, and pick them both up today!

Visit comicshoplocator.com to find the nearest comic shop, and toysrus.com to find the nearest TRU or to order online. Get regular DST updates on Facebook and Twitter!

 

http://www.artasylum.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/SpecFront.jpg

31 days of Halloween: Zombies Stripped #6: Green Lantern

 By Scott Meaney

http://www.facebook.com/constellationpark
http://www.facebook.com/thepuppetapocalypse
twitter @thescottmeaney

CP Book1 on amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/Constellation-Park-Book-Two-Singularity/dp/1479296392/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1349967532&sr=8-2&keywords=constellation+park

CP Book2 on amazon:
http://www.amazon.com/Constellation-Park-Book-Two-Singularity/dp/1479296392/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1349967532&sr=8-2&keywords=constellation+park

31 days of Halloween: retro video game review:Zombies ate my neighbors

I am back again with another retro video game review. this time is one of my favorites and a cult classic, zombies ate my neighbors

also follow me on twitter on your thoughts @julianexcalibur

Who doesn’t love a good campy horror flick every now and then? With Lucas Art’s Zombies Ate My Neighbors, you may never have to watch another one!

Just look at the premise of the game: Monsters are running amok in the neighborhood and it is up to two kids armed with squirt guns to stop them! It may sound cliche’, but that feeling will soon be discarded once you begin playing and discovering what a triumph the game design is!

At the start of the game you can choose between two kids; a boy and a girl. Aside from the look of the character, there is no inherent advantage to picking either of them, so just go with want you want. From there you are dropped in the first neighborhood to begin your quest of saving as many neighbors as possible. The game controls marvelously, and you will never once have a problem doing what you want once you figure out how to sort items! They even give you a radar to help in locating the neighbors which you can toggle on and off by hitting your trigger buttons.

It’s a good thing too! Ten of your neighbors ranging from mean teachers to helpless babies are scattered throughout each level. Your goal is to get to them before the monsters do. This may sound simple until you realize that if a neighbor is killed then you lose that neighbor FOR THE REST OF THE GAME! That might be a problem since the game has over 50 levels to keep them alive through, and eventually you would be down to one. Except the game developers were way ahead of us on that one! The fix was to award an extra neighbor for every 40,000 points you score! And since you will be scoring a TON of points throughout the game most players will be fine as long as you don’t mess up TOO badly.

On the other hand, that doesn’t mean that the game is a cake walk, either. The monster horde is out for your blood (or the neighbors! They’re not picky)! There’s the titular zombies, the masked killer, the evil dolls, the vampires, the werewolves… put it this way: If its been in a horror film, it will be in this game! It is shocking how much content they managed to stuff in a game that is over 15 years old! Each monster acts differently than its brethren, with different patterns, aggressiveness, and weaknesses, and you’ll have to learn each one’s intricacies in order to survive!

That is what the weapons are for! Zombie’s myriad of weapons and items are pure bliss, adding yet another layer of content into an already stuffed game. I love how the game uses things typical of suburbia and turns them into a viable arsenal. Squirt guns filled with holy water act as a pistol. Shaken-up Cola cans act as grenades that can be hurled over walls. Bazookas (Yes, bazookas!) dropped by military can be used to blow down obstacles such as hedges and walls. Every weapon and item has a purpose and add strategy to the game, but it is the various ways that the weapons interact with the monsters that steal the show. Silverware one-shot werewolves! Weed-Whackers one-shot plant monsters! POPSICLES ONE-SHOT BLOBS!! If you are a horror aficionado, you will have a distinct advantage here since it is obvious that this was a labor of love from a development team that loved horror movies!

It all comes together beautifully. Levels are incredibly detailed, and as with the monsters and weapons, it’s the small things that make the difference. Need to get in a house? You can use a key. Or you could blow the door open with a bazooka! Or you could smash it down as a monster using a special potion!

Do you want to explore, or just rescue your neighbors and move on? It is in these moments that the game ceases to be good and becomes extraordinary. My favorite example is the hedge maze in level 3. Viable options include turning into a monster and killing all seven chainsaw maniacs or using a bazooka and blowing holes in both walls AND maniacs in order to fast-track to your neighbors. Or you could let the maniacs cut a path for you, luring them into making shortcuts for you before breaking out the fire extinguishers and decoy clowns to slow them down! The possibilities are endless!

Did I mention that you can do all of this WITH TWO PLAYERS? Bringing along a buddy makes for two times the fun, and makes it more likely that you can finish the game in one sitting. Make no mistake: THAT IS THE WAY IT IS MEANT TO BE PLAYED! Zombies features a password system that punishes you for using it by stripping you of your items. If you have to use a password then you start from the later levels with just a squirt gun and a first-aid kit! I would normally chalk this up to bad game design, but it almost seems deliberate as a way to challenge more advanced players. I think that they expected veterans to use the passwords to skip ahead and try their luck at some of the punishing later levels with a limited inventory.

As for graphics and sound… The game cannot stand toe-to toe with the SNES’ best, but I don’t think it’s supposed to. The graphics get the job done and do a great job of painting a varied landscape. Animation is great with unique animations for all neighbors and monsters, not to mention the kids which are very expressive. This may explain why the graphics are a little toned down, and I consider it a fair trade. Sound-wise the game is fantastic. The soundtrack may repeat too often, but the tracks that are there are all mood-setters with my personal favorites being Dr. Tongue’s Castle and the Baby Theme. Sound effects are also varied and used to great effect, from the roaring of a chainsaw to the screaming cries of the neighbors as they are spirited away to the next world.

Overall, I cannot praise this game enough! That is why I am always confused that more gamers have not heard of this game. It sold reasonably well but seems to be forgotten among modern gamers. It was only recently that it clicked into place! I was playing Dead Rising and bitching to a friend about how clunky it was when memories of this game came flooding back to me. Zombies was a game before its time, and nothing makes that clearer than the zombie-obsessed society of the modern age! Dead Rising, Left 4 Dead, The Walking Dead, The Zombie Survival Guide… Even Call of Duty has been invaded by the undead! This game combines EVERYTHING appealing about horror films, ties it to solid arcade action, and then throws in some trademark Lucas Arts humor. The final result is a fresh and addictive title that still holds up to this day! That is why I am officially using this platform to call for Konami to make the sequel that ZAMN deserves!!

They might as well do something while they are busy doing nothing…

31 days of Halloween:Legend of Sleepy Hollow 1958

part two http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WvV4rmPGBTU&feature=share&list=ULWvV4rmPGBTU

part three http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3l8dXBCBFIY&feature=share&list=UL3l8dXBCBFIY

part four http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S1AQsuO_zqE&feature=share&list=ULS1AQsuO_zqE