Blu-Ray Review: Blind Woman’s Curse

Blind Woman's Curse BR_DVD Cover (Custom)One of those wild Japanese films packed with striking imagery and offbeat performances, Teruo Ishii’s 1970 hybrid Blind Woman’s Curse makes for another excellent Blu-Ray release from Arrow Video. It wraps up action and revenge flick aesthetics with a creepy tone, loads of late 60’s era sexiness and violence with a solid performance from beautiful Meiko Kaji. She plays Akemi, the head of a yakuza clan sometime during the 1920’s who’s been released from prison only to find there’s a pretty efficient pair of assassins as well as other folks after her and what remains of her loyal gang.

The main assassin (Hoki Tokuda) happens to be the sister of a rival boss out for her own revenge. Akemi accidentally blinded her during the fierce and beautifully shot sword battle that opens up the film and she now she’s somewhat hard to stop as she whittles down Akemi’s gang. Her assistant, a muttering and really creepy killer with wild hair (Tatsumi Hijikata) is one of those characters who gets under your skin and remains there from the moment you see him. Both he and the black cat that appears during the film lend a supernatural tone to the proceedings that lend the film a nice horror vibe. That said, if you pay close attention, you’ll see that the film tends to toss a lot at you with expectations that you’ll keep up.

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READS: VHS Video Cover Art

VHS Video Cover Art Large
 

If you were around during the 1980’s and owned a VHS player a trip to the video store was probably something done a few times a week in order to check out some good to awful films you hadn’t seen previously or had caught in a theater and wanted to experience all over again. The better video rental shops were part museum, offering up box after box of wildly re-imagined art that didn’t always match what was on those tapes you wanted to rent. From scantily clad ladies beckoning you to pick up that case to painted explosions that guaranteed at least if the film was atrocious stuff would blow up really good, it was a boom time for “B” movie fans. Over in the UK, movie fans got even wilder cover art to ogle from a wide range of artists of assorted talent covering genres from sci-fi and horror to comedy and assorted exploitation flicks.

Whether you’re a fan of the period or just want a great art book to show off to friends, Schiffer Books’ VHS Video Cover Art ($34.99) comes very highly recommended. Compiled by Tom ‘The Dude Designs’ Hodge (a great movie poster artist inspired by this period), the 12″ x 9″ hardcover book is 264 pages of eye-popping artwork. Some of it great, most of it cheesy to an extreme. Here in the US that cheese factor is most likely going to be the appeal to many buyers who may only know some of these films through their western movie posters and/or VHS cover art which was more often than not straightforward studio commissioned art and photos.

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Shining Through: Old Memories Return Thanks To New Friends

SitD_SC1
 

The first Japanese game I ever played to completion with no knowledge of the language outside a few basic characters was Shining and the Darkness for the Sega Mega Drive, later localized as Shining in the Darkness for North America by Sega of America. It wasn’t mad savant skills that got me through this text-heavy role-playing game, but a spoiler-free walkthrough and plenty of maps yanked from a Japanese magazine that came with the game when I purchased it. I’d played a few Japanese MD games previously, but most were shooters such as Gaiares or not quite perfect arcade ports like Golden Axe or Altered Beast.

SitD_SC2
 

I stumbled upon Shining and six of seven other imports at a used book and record store in NYC back around early 1992 and couldn’t pass up buying all of the games at somewhere between eight and ten dollars each. All of those games are still in the library here and some even get pulled out and played on occasion. It took me the better part of the summer to complete SitD because I was only using the walkthrough when I got stuck and was filling in the plot on my own. It ended up being pretty close to what the actual game and English version would be because it was a simple “rescue the kidnapped princess!” story with a few expected and unexpected twists.

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Fred Dobbs, You’re Nuts In Any Decade!

(thanks, Danios12345!)
 

Ha. I just realized while watching The Treasure of the Sierra Madre for the zillionth time that the name Fred Dobbs appears in another memorable (but for the wrong reasons) film and is played by a great actor that livens up the proceedings significantly. That film would be 1980’s sci-fi horror(/unintentional comedy) hybrid (They Came)Without Warning and that actor would be the great Martin Landau. The Greydon Clark-directed cult flick is actually one of those great guilty pleasures worth tracking down because of its oddball cast (Jack Palance, Cameron Mitchell, Larry Storch, Neville Brand and a young David Caruso among others) and pre-Predator plot about an alien come to earth to do some hunting.

(thanks, metal4472!)
 

As I’m a bit off-kilter (and proud of it!) I’d do a back-to-back double feature with these two even though the tone is vastly different between the two films. Or you could go from the first film to Raiders of the Lost Ark with Without Warning and Predator for an all-day marathon of interesting genre flipping and blending. But I’ll leave personal programming choices all to you fine folks out there. Enjoy!

CHIP: Anyone Want a $9 Computer? Oh, You ALL Do? Fine, Then!

Chip
 

Well, wow. Of course, it’s not REALLY a $9 computer if you have no idea it requires more than taking it out of its tiny box and plugging it in before you realize that you probably need a monitor, keyboard and a decent connection to use it. Also, Bluetooth controllers aren’t cheap the last time I checked. So if you get this for game playing purposes and haven’t an idea of what a decent controller costs, look that up first before you grab your own Chip.

But there’s little doubt that a LOT of those 20,000+ backers on this Kickstarter project know these facts. That and there are a few Chip models that cost a bit to a lot more than $9 that come with that screen, keyboard and monitor. I’m highly intrigued by this particular project, but as I’m always broke, I won’t be nabbing one of these until it’s ready for retail and all the bugs are flattened out. It’ll likely be used for games and maybe learning to program stuff (something I’ve always wanted to do because I have game ideas not thought of or done right yet). Anyway, these are exciting times aren’t they? Unless you’re lazy and want everything handed to you on a silver platter, of course.

When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Stuff Stuff.

stuffed cabbage round two 002 (Large)
 

“My hobby is stuffing things. You know, taxidermy. And I guess I’d just rather stuff birds because I hate the look of beasts when they’re stuffed…”

(You Know Who as You Know Who from You Know What, You Know When)

stuffing thingsOkay, so it’s not perfectly rolled golabki at all (and YES, I added a bit to a lot more pureed tomato before popping both dishes in the oven). But that what I do when my brain is boiling over at stupid stuff others do. I cook something to relax or pretend I’m cooking my problem to relax or something. Nope, I’m not going to eat all that stuffed cabbage. Some will go to mother dear and I’ll probably freeze the rest. Given that it’s only the second time I’m making this dish (using bits of a few online recipes just to mix things up) I think it’ll turn out as well as the first time or even better. Results will appear in about an hour and a half or so. Maybe I’ll put up a second post… but don’t bet on it. I have a few fish to fry before the evening is over (and I’m not talking about actual fish).

Um, anyone else want to come over for dinner? Sixteen pieces of stuffed cabbage can serve about four more hungry folks and I put some potato slices in both dishes just because I had two spuds left and they do go well with cabbage…

stuffed cabbage round two 003 (Large)

High Strangeness: What A Way To End A Week!

High Strangeness Logo While it’s also available on PC via Steam, High Strangeness makes for a more interesting experience on the Wii U thanks to the whole “retro” vibe it gives off. Barnyard Intelligence Games‘ “12-bit” action/adventure is so far one of those games that is pretty amusing, weird as heck and fun to play. However, I’m hoping it can sustain those high notes until the ending as sometimes nifty ideas and amusing dialog can’t keep some games out of trouble in their latter portions when both run out of gas and things coast to a cliff edge. We shall see come review time next week, but for now it’s a recommended title on a console going through some ups and downs of late.

High Strangeness SC01

Golden Week Sales Mean You Save Gold On Some Excellent Game Deals

NISA Golden Week Sale 

Well, this is pretty cool beans. To celebrate Golden Week in Japan, A few game publishers have tossed up a bunch of great Japanese role playing and other Japan-inspired or developed games, movies and anime up on the PlayStation Network at decent to excellent discounts. Check out the full list here if you’re click happy and ready to spend some of that disposable income. If some you JRPG fans late to the party need a nudge into that dollar shaped hole, I’ll let you know that Monkey Paw Games has Class of Heroes 2 on sale for $8.50 (it’s almost a steal!).

PSN Golden Week Sale 

Anyway, go hop to looking at those links as the sale ends on May 4, 2015. Yeah, just in time for you to spend the rest of your money on assorted Star Wars merchandise.

#TBT: Old Scams Can Drive A Man To Drink

(thanks, Video Quotes From Seinfeld!) 

Ha. Someone actually tried to pull the ollllllllllllld as the freakin’ hills “I’ll send you a money order… oops, I overpaid, so can you refund the balance by Western Union?” scam for an item I was selling for a friend and that kind of pissed me off big time. Why? Because “Albert Mackenzie” wasted my damn time until I realized what was going on. If there’s anything I absolutely hate it’s scammers of any type because they’re useless in any normal moral situation and only exist to make people miserable when they part us fools from our money. I’d post his email address for all to see, but that would probably encourage the bastard and not scare him off one bit. Drop dead, Albert.

The koo-koo-koo-raaazy thing here is Western Union has a bad rap on this front, KNOWS it has a bad rap on that front and seems powerless (or just plain lazy) to do anything about it despite the scam existing for years with no sign of letting up. Hell, sites like ebay, craigslist and others plus a while bunch of police departments warn people to NOT use Western Union for anything involving sending money to strangers or even honest people who want money sent electronically, so I’m wondering why they even exist as a “reliable” company for any sort of wire transfer. Nostalgia only goes so far, folks.

Okay, at least they DO have a Fraud Quiz you can take while you’re reading that scammer’s email. And ooh, lookit! They have VIDEOS too:

Hmmm. Watching this and the other clips actually made me doubly NOT want to use Western Union ever again for anything financial, so I guess they did their job. Sort of.

It’s a damn good thing I’m not as stupid as someone thought I was. Still, what a friggin’ waste of a few days of back and forth BS from this cat. Sir, the jerk store was supposed to be out of YOU, but it seems you’re in stock and ready to ship. Boo. Anyway, if anyone wants me, I’ll be somewhere without jerks having an adult beverage. Probably home, as the bars around here are pretty damn lame. And probably coffee, as I have a lot of work to do and I’m out of booze. Eh, maybe I’ll just gently slam down some Uptime instead and get that review completed.

More From The Vaults: Found Object Fridays

Hey there- here’s some more random stuff I unearthed from the vaults while my PC was out of action for a few days earlier this week. I ended up making more of a mess “cleaning up” than I did when I left all those bins and boxes alone. But I did find some nice things I knew I’d kept for assorted good reasons. Enjoy the quick trip down memory lane!

Kurzrok Casper
 

If I recall correctly, this sketch was gotten in a rather oddball reverse double back-flip manner at a Creation Con back in 1981 or ’82. I was minding a friend’s table at the show while displaying some of my (lousy) artwork and a man walked up and started looking through my stuff. We chatted for a bit about comics and when he told me his name was Al Kurzrok, I was thrilled because I remembered the outstanding lettering he did for Marvel on Doctor Strange back in the late 60’s. When I noted that to him and asked for an autograph, he asked me for a sheet of paper and did this quick sketch. That was a big day-maker for me back then.

Outland Press Kit 

Heh. Back in 1981, a dot matrix printout sure looked “futuristic”, so here you go: The press kit for Peter Hyams‘ sci-fi flick OUTLAND. The film is basically High Noon in outer space with Sean Connery playing the Gary Cooper part. High Noon is a better film by far, by the way. That said, it does have some suspenseful moments (and a few exploding heads, eww), Frances Sternhagen gets the best part and lines in the film and there’s a great Jerry Goldsmith score worth tracking down.

All that and like many of Hyams’s best films, there’s a nice foot chase that perks things up at just the right moment.

Outland Press Kit 2 

I have a lot more ancient history here, but I’ll pull the plug on this installment before I end up making an even bigger pile of stuff in the home office. No need to have to sleep curled up in a closet because there’s way too much stuff on the bed and floor, right?