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Archive for October, 2010

Halloween Mascot: Trick r Treat

Christmas has Santa Claus, Easter has a bunny that lays eggs, but Halloween has nothing.  No mascot, no recognisable figurehead.  That is unless you count Sam…

Director Michael Dougherty had a dream; it was a simple dream, but a dream no less important than that of any other visionary.  He wanted to give Halloween a mascot so he invented Sam.

Sam is small and childlike, dressed in orange pyjamas and a pumpkin mask made out of a burlap sack with buttons for eyes.  He looks just like an adorable trick-or-treater, but underneath he is a demonic pumpkin like creature.

Sam’s job is to enforce the laws of Halloween (a short list of some of these laws is included at the end).  Any law breakers will be punished.

The first appearance Sam made was in Season’s Greetings a four minute long animation made by Dougherty.

Sam next appeared in the 2009 movie Trick r Treat.  The movie is about four Halloween stories that all happen on the same night.  One story features Anna Paquin from True Blood.

The film was originally intended to be released in 2007 but was pushed back and released direct to DVD last October.

Upon its release Michael Dougherty said he was planning a sequel, which would get made if sales for the first one were good.  Nothing new has been said about that but hopefully his dream will come true and people will recognise Sam as the official mascot for Halloween.

The movie is well worth watching, it’s pure originality.  So go out and get it, you’ll only be sorry if you break the rules.

The Laws of Halloween:

  • Never be out after midnight
  • Always wear a costume
  • Never blow out a jack-o-lantern before midnight
  • Always check your candy
  • Don’t pretend not to be home
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Glee: Rocky Horror

The episode focuses on the Glee kids as they prepare for a school musical version of Rocky Horror.

Glee has gained a bit of a reputation for ‘pushing the envelope’, Santana and Brittany’s lesbian kiss for example, but in the Rocky Horror episode, which was expected to be even more risqué, the biggest issue tackled was body image.

It’s not that body image isn’t an important topic, but when a show is doing an episode on Rocky Horror it’s not unreasonable to expect a less common challenge for the characters to come up against.  The fact that the Rocky Horror picture show is about transvestites was briefly mentioned, but left no real impression as the role of Dr. Frank-N-Furter was given to a girl rather than a boy dressed as a transvestite.

That stuff aside, the episode was good.  It was well thought out and enjoyable with plenty of laughs along the way.  One of the funniest storylines in the episode is Sam’s manorexia, but given the nature of the show, and the fact that it was a Rocky Horror special, it is unclear if this storyline, and others that started in this episode, will continue or simply be forgotten.


The Sims 3: Console

The Sims 3 console version was finally released today.  The game has different features depending on which console you buy it for.  The PS3 and Xbox 360 version is extremely similar to the PC series.  Sims have life cycles, and their houses have upstairs.  The game also brings the have a baby feature, which was missing from the console version of Sims 2.  Players can also connect to the internet to download additional content, as well as connect to Facebook and Twitter.  There are some downsides to this edition of the game.  Players must control Sims in the traditional click and go mode, the console world is not seamless like the PC one (but loading times are said to be short) and it seems that offline multiplayer is not available.

The DS version of the game aims to be a full life simulation experience, unlike previous handheld Sims games e.g. Game boy advance.  Players will also be able to sculpt their Sims with the stylus.  In addition to this; next year, with the release of the 3DS, a 3D version is set to come out, which will allow you to take a picture of yourself and turn it into a Sim.  The 3DS also rumour to have online functions which should completely change handheld gaming.

Unfortunately, for Wii fans the wait is not over until the 15th of November, but that’s the only version that has a co-op mode so if, like me, you love playing Sims with your friends it’s worth the wait.

A new addition to the player’s abilities is the karma powers.  These give the player even more control over their Sims life, and add a whole new layer to torturing your Sim.  Also the way your Sim dies affects the colour that there ghost will be, so don’t forget to vary a little in your killing style.

The game has received mainly positive reviews, but without a co-op mode they may have lost some fans.  Is this version TOO close to the PC version?  I’m holding off my judgements until I’ve got my hands on it.


Batman: The Dark Knight Rises

After months of speculation it has been confirmed that the Riddler will not be a villain in the upcoming sequel to The Dark Knight.  For so long fans were sure it was him but director Christopher Nolan has revealed that Riddler definitely won’t be making an appearance in the film.  On the plus side Nolan did confirm that the film will be titled The Dark Knight Rises.

The joker has also been ruled out as a villain for the movie, which should please fans of Heath Ledger’s amazing performance in Dark Knight.

The Dark Knight Rises is set to be the final film in the trilogy and should bring Nolan’s story to a conclusion.  Nolan fought for the film not to be shot in 3D, which is the trend at the moment, and lucky he managed to convince the studio that it would be best left in the tradition 2D.

Odds are Nolan isn’t going to break his silence again, at least not for a while, so vote below who you think should be the next Batman villain.


Mirrors 2

The first Mirrors had the perfect ending; it was cruel but beautiful, in a story going full circle kind of way.  The ending was so good that I was worried when I heard about the sequel.  Mirrors 2 seems to have slipped under the radar, as many fans of the first didn’t even know it existed.  It was release, directly to DVD and Blu-ray, on the 19th of this month.

As it turns out Mirrors 2 is not a continuation of number one, it just follows the same rules as the first.  There is a part shown on the trailer (below) where a girl crawls out of a mirror and drags someone into it, and I couldn’t help thinking this looks like the Grudge.  This might be because the Grudge and Mirrors have something in common, that I didn’t realise, they are both remakes of Asian horror films.

While the first Mirrors varied greatly from the original Korean film Into the Mirror, the story in the sequel is a lot closer.

The story follows a security guard at a boutique store who is haunted by the image of a girl in the mirror.  Then one by one his co-workers die in mysterious and unusual deaths (gruesome).

The trailer looks promising, and it’s sure to deliver some gore but will it be scary?  It does have one advantage over your average horror flick; odds are viewers will be face to face with ‘the killer’ soon after watching.  How much do you trust your reflection?

If nothing else it will make a good movie to watch on Halloween night.


Saw 3D: Rusty and Dangerous

There are no doubts that saw 3D will follow in the footsteps of its predecessors and become a financial success, but are the movies all gore and no story?

The Saw movies revolve around the traps that have been set by the jigsaw killer, John Kramer, and his many apprentices.  It is explained that John’s traps are aimed to improve the victim’s lives, by teaching them the skills they need to mend their damaged lives.  Although John’s intentions are good one of his apprentices, Amanda, does not follow his rules and sets traps that are, in theory, unbeatable.  I say in theory as it is John’s philosophy that nothing is unbeatable it all depends on how much you want to live.

After John’s death his apprentices are left in a power struggle to see who will carry on the legacy.

Saw 3D is the seventh and final film in the franchise.  It aims to tie up any loose ends and bring the story to a conclusion.  The trailer reveals that in this movie Jigsaw aims to get everyone, including the audience by means of state of the art 3D.  While it is unlikely anyone will get dragged into the screen (like on the trailer) it does justify the use of 3D.

The trailer shows a trap where two men are sitting in front of buzz saws, with the woman they are both ‘involved with’ is between them being lowered onto another saw.  This may sound like just another day at the office for Jigsaw (or at least his apprentices) but this time, like I said before, jigsaw wants to get everybody, so these poor individuals are on display for all to see.

The survivors of previous traps get another go around as well.  It is explained that they have gather together for some kind of support group, but have now been targeted to see if they can survivor twice (starting to sound like Final Destination).  The film also marks the long awaited return of Gordon who crawled away in the first one never to be seen again, much like Chuck from happy days.  In Saw 3D there is a flashback that explains that after escaping he used a hot pipe to cauterize his wound.

The movie comes out on the 29th of October, aka this Friday.


Star Wars: Force Unleashed 2

With the Force Unleashed games George Lucas is attempting to answer the question that no one was asking, what happened between the prequel trilogy and the original?

The first game introduces you to Starkiller, Darth Vader’s secret apprentice.  Although he does Vader’s dirty work it’s clear that at the heart of it Starkiller’s just a messed up kid.  On the surface the story is about a villain who turns good, but if you dig deeper you can see that there are a lot of themes in it that you don’t normally see in games.  For example Starkiller’s relationship with Juno is not a love story it’s more like a crush story, because he doesn’t know how to have a relationship with someone, he’s never had anyone that really cared about him.

A sequel seemed unlikely, as the first one left off with Starkiller’s death (or with the non canon ending depending on the player’s choice).  The end of Force Unleashed one marked the start of the rebel alliance, which plays a key role in the original trilogy.

The sequel starts with Starkiller, on Vader’s ship, being told that he is a clone; he escapes, and tries to put the pieces of his memory back together while also picking up on hints that he may in fact be the original Starkiller, as clones normally can’t use the force.  It remains to be seen whether or not he is the real Starkiller, or just a clone.

 The graphics are amazing.  At stages it looks almost real, probably the closest that anyone has gotten so far.

If you were a fan of the force in the first one you’ll be glad to know that it’s not just same old same old, new force powers have been introduced, mind control for example, and all the veteran force abilities have been completely reworked.  Plus now you can use two lightsabers at once.  Try to picture the conversation when they thought up that idea.

‘What’s better than a lightsaber?’

‘Eh two lightsabers?’

‘Genius.’

And even better news Yoda will in the game.

Interaction is said to be extremely lifelike, but I guess we’ll have to wait to find out.  The game comes out on the 29th of October.

Even though no one was asking what happened between the new and original trilogies, the games are so well made that we can forgive Lucas for pushing them on us.

Here are some of the trailers


The Power of the Dark Crystal

In 1982 Jim Henson and Frank Oz (creators of the Muppets) released fantasy film Dark Crystal. The movie was criticised for being too dark and not being suitable for children. Despite this the movie has gained a cult following and a reputation for appealing to the older viewer in spite of it initially being intended as a kids movie.

The original movie tells the tale of Jen and Kira as they search for the missing shard of a magical crystal.

On the 4th of May 2010 a sequel was announced, called The Power of the Dark Crystal. The movie was written by David Odell, who co-wrote the original with Jim Henson. It will also be shot in 3D.

The story is set hundreds of years after the original when the world has fallen into darkness again. The main character is a girl named Thurma who is made of fire. Along with a Gelfling outcast she steals a shade from the crystal in a desperate attempt to reignite the dying sun in the centre of the planet.

Director Peter Spierig says that he aims to bring puppetry into the modern age, by teaming traditional puppetry with stop motion CGI and animatronics.


Scream 4 trailer

The rules have changed but the cast have not, which is one of many reasons to go see Scream 4. The original trilogy left off with Sydney feeling safe and secure, and now 10 years on (11 before the film will be released) the killer is back proving that the only way to escape is to die.

Scream 4 is the first in a whole new trilogy, and who knows we may be saying goodbye to one, two or many all three of the original Woodsboro survivors, which would not only be sad for fans but possible put the final nail in the very long coffin as well.

The trailer looks pretty cool. It explains some of the new rules, introduces thousands of indistinguishable teenagers that will surely be killed, and shows the humour that is beloved by fans and knocked by critics.

Check it out and leave a comment to let me know what you think.


Paranormal Activity 2

Hooray you’ve finally recovered from Paranormal Activity; you can stop living in fear and start turning the lights off when you go to sleep.  That is unless you plan on going to see number two.  This sequel/prequel has proven that Hollywood doesn’t ruin everything as the ride is no less scary the second time around.  Just like the first one you’ll be dreading the nights, but as it goes on the days will no longer protect you from the scares. 

The actors were great Katie Featherston and Micah Sloat reprise their roles, but play a much smaller part.  This story revolves around Katie’s sister Kristi, her partner Dan, his daughter Ali, and their baby Hunter.  The cast looked natural together and seemed like a real family, which helps you sympathise with them as they are literally dragged through hell.

The movie is full of tension which pays off in a big way, as it’s so packed with jumps that you’ll spend the majority of the film in the air.  However these jumps are not your typical horror movie jumps, no these jumps feel natural like they should be there and were not just put in for the sake of it.  Even without the heart attack inducing jumps, the movie is creepy and you’ll definitely think twice before you turn off the lights again.