A Few Notes on James Horner (Part One)

(thanks, Cinefix!)
 

While many will remember the late James Horner for his work on Titanic, Avatar, Braveheart and other blockbusters, my own memories of the man’s work go back to his 80’s output when a few of his scores stood out aurally and made me seek out their soundtrack albums. Amusingly enough, I hadn’t realized he’d done the score for Humanoids From The Deep until I re-watched the film for a recent blogathon.

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#TBT Retro Freak: Cyber Gadget’s Time Machine Console May Be Your New Best Buddy

retro freak 1 

I’d heard of the Retro Freak console a little while back but paid it little mind thanks to all the hype over Hyperkin’s RetroN 5 as well as the fact that there are too many other hybrid consoles out there vying for your retro gaming dollars. Now that I’ve read a bit more about it thanks to an email alert from Play-Asia, my eyebrow is up in a very good way. I think I want one of these at some point because I have a ton of games here for nearly every console it can play. The RF isn’t inexpensive at all, but that’s a good thing provided it does everything it’s supposed to.

Releasing in September are two models, Standard and Premium with the latter coming with a controller adapter that allows for Famicom, Super Famicom, Sega Genesis, and TurboGrafx controllers to be used. The big draw for many will be not only the 11 consoles the RF plays games for (Famicom, Super Famicom/SNES, Mega Drive/Genesis, PC Engine, TurboGrafx-16, Game Boy, Game Boy Advance, Game Boy Color, and Supergrafx), but the fact that the unit can rip and install all games from cartridges onto the console via SD card. In addition there’s an HDMI output, 720p upscaling, instant saving and even cheat codes for certain games.

I’d imagine those who can afford this will be snapping them up via pre-orders anywhere they’re going to be sold. Some will wait until the thing gets a few positive reviews though, but it’s all good at the end of the day for those with big collections who don’t want to keep too many consoles around their TV’s.

Put Up Your Dukes, Indeed

(thanks, Brian Coltrane!)
 

There’s trouble in Hazzard County for sure this time. A few days ago I overheard two guys (one older, one younger, both black like moi) arguing over whether or not The Dukes of Hazzard was a “racist show” (in my opinion, it’s not). The conversation took a strangely surreal and slightly amusing turn because the guy defending the show also happened to have a load of Dukes collectibles thanks to relatives who bought all that merchandise back when the show originally aired and him holding onto most of it.

Now, there’s a deep fried dill pickle for you, ladies and gentlemen.

But not really. Although some major to minor retailers have been hastily yanking anything with a Confederate battle flag off their shelves, Dukes of Hazzard memorabilia seems to be one of the few exceptions. That said, one does have to wonder with an arched eyebrow how much of that stuff was not so ironically but somewhat ironically manufactured outside of the good ol’ U.S. of A. (by underpaid workers) and how much of it was bought over time for by folks who’d probably NOT want it because it wasn’t made here…
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Back to the Future: What’s Old Is New Game News @E3 2015

(thanks, magicalmotionmuseum!)
 

It’s a good news/bad news thing today. The good news: time travel DOES exist, ladies and gents. Final Fantasy VII is finally getting a remake for the PS4 and possibly PC. The Last Guardian is now a PS4 exclusive (as I predicted a while back) Shenmue 3 was announced yesterday evening at Sony’s E3 event as a surprising show-announced Kickstarter project for PS4 and was COMPLETELY funded in about twelve hours (breaking a Kickstarter record). Even King’s Quest and HITMAN are making comebacks (and sooner than you’d think).

Microsoft’s formerly forward-looking only Xbox One gets Xbox 360 backward compatibility and legendary developer Rare is releasing 30 of its classic arcade and console games for $30 in a crazy must-have bundle this August (exclusively for the console, of course). Between this and the return of DOOM, the acceptance of indie retro games as necessary for part of a console’s success and other interesting developments, it’s a huge win-win situation for gamers with a good deal of disposable income. And no, I didn’t forget Nintendo in all this. I’m just holding out for a separate post on their always nostalgic ways and means of getting loyal fans continually hooked in. Give me a bit of time on that as it’s still construction central here with more to come.

Now, the bad news: In reality time travel DOESN’T exist at all. With all those new games coming (and this post doesn’t count the VR games invasion happening soon), no one will actually any free time to play them all unless their Doctor has a certain “timey-wimey” prescription that allows them to have their fun and return to reality not having missed much sleep or even a day of work. Oh well…

A Few Too Few Words About Christopher Lee…


 

Another light goes out and if you knew the man’s rather astounding body of work it was one of the brightest lights you’d ever seen. While he was known primarily for his work in the horror genre, the late Sir Christopher Frank Carandini Lee was so much more than a one-note performer. Whether or not you liked some of the films he appeared in, he always gave his best even in the worst “B” flicks (Castle of Fu Manchu, anyone?). Some of us recall his films made with the late, great Peter Cushing (I’m partial to Horror Express) while younger viewers will know him from his work in The Lord of the Rings and a few Star Wars films.

I’d pick The Wicker Man (above) as my favorite Lee film because it’s a great flick that challenges viewers who come in expecting a standard horror tale. It’s a surprisingly intelligent genre film that works on a few levels and seeps into your bones for about a week or so after viewing. Go track it down (and don’t bother at all with the horrible remake) along with a few other Lee classics. I’m sure Turner Classic Movies will be running a marathon of his work shortly. But if you’re a film fan with room in your library you should think about adding a few of the man’s always re-watchable works to your collection.

Review: High Strangeness (Wii U)

High Strangeness Start ScreenPlatform: Wii U (also on PC)
Developer: Barnyard Intelligence Games/Crystal Labs
Publisher: Midnight City/Majesco
# of Players: 1
ESRB Rating: T (Teen)
Official Site
Score: B+ (85%)
 

HS 12-bit technology
 

While “short” by whatever “today’s standards” for game length is, High Strangeness is actually about as long as many of the 8 and 16-bit games it’s inspired by. A few too many gamers today are a wee bit spoiled by the still baffling comparison of game length somehow equaling overall quality so it’s great to play a new “retro” game that doesn’t wear you down with too many gimmicks before the ride is over. What’s here is a pretty cool throwback that bridges the game between the two eras with a “12-bit” approach that allows players to travel back and forth between two distinct visual styles. There’s also a mix of sci-fi and light horror vibes going on here with creepy-looking enemies, a big mystery and even a sentient cat to keep you dialed in from start to finish.

high strangeness 3 

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Some More Arrows To Make Me Quiver

New Arrows 002 (Custom) 

Well, now. Here’s how to make an icky Monday a far better one without doing much at all. My mailbox was stuffed with some nice upcoming release screeners from Arrow Video and MVD so I’ll be socked away checking out some stuff I’ve not seen before as well as revisiting some old friends. Spider Baby actually came earlier than the others, but it’s here just to even out the photo. Anyway, back to the screening room for me. So much for being anything resembling “productive” today.

Stuff You Miss When You’re Not Paying Attention #214

Pac-Egg 006 (Custom)
 

Um, Happy Belated Birthday, Pac-Man! As I’ve been busy with some stuff here, I missed the big day for this classic arcade character. But my breakfast a few days back reminded me to check and yup, he’s a year older. Anyway, YES the photo is upside down because I just noticed that it looks as if that eggy-veggie thing I made has got an eye and eyebrow when it’s flipped that way. Okay, so I never said I was perfect. Well, at least ol’ Pac won’t come after me because I forgot to get him a card or bake a cake. He’s cool about that (or so I hear).

(Not So) Random Film of the Week: Humanoids From The Deep

Humanoids From the Deep MPIt’s pretty much a 60’s “B” flick dipped in the not for the kiddies gore and nudity of early 80’s slasher flicks. But on that level Humanoids of the Deep works. You’re pretty much getting The Horror of Party Beach and Creature From the Black Lagoon with a bit of actual horror, but the film is more notorious for its added in post-production scenes of icky, horny sea creatures molesting a few young actresses after whipping their bathing suits off. That caused a bit of a stir back when I saw this in 1980 with a few friends and I also recall a handful of people screaming and doing an exit dash at the film’s somewhat ALIEN-inspired final scene.

Back then I didn’t like the film all that much because of its extremes and that it felt like two different films crunched together at the expense of the better one. But over time it’s become something of a mash-up of intentional and unintentional comedy, eyeball-rolling “shock” scenes and yes, well-known cast members who didn’t realize they’d be starring in a rather mean-spirited exploitation moneymaker that would garner a loyal fan base. For me it’s more of a great guilty pleasure when I look at it now. Albeit with a big blood red caution buoy in the water if you’re squeamish or easily annoyed by gore and gratuitous nudity in a “roughie” manner.

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Three More Arrow Blu-Rays To Heat Up Summer

Arrow Video June 2015 Releases
 

Amusingly enough, Arrow and MVD have more than three new releases for June through August, but I’ll get the rest in a separate post as today is a bit haywire. Pit Stop, La Grande Bouffe, and Blood Rage all come to Blu-Ray in outstanding newly restored prints all ready for your viewing and collecting purposes. I’m actually thrilled about seeing Pit Stop make it to Blu-Ray as it’s a film I’d only seen once before on a beat up VHS copy of questionable quality. I haven’t seen La Grande Bouffe in years and I don’t think I recall Blood Rage unless I saw it under one of its other titles back in the 80’s. Well, catching up with these old film friends will be fun for sure.

Back in a bit.