Songs For Spies (A Playlist)

Wow, you take some time off the internet to get better and stuff just falls apart in a bunch of places, huh? Anyway, as some of our intelligence agencies are under pressure from a guy with not too much intelligence at all, I decided to sweep up some music off YouTube to keep our sly guys and gals upbeat and maybe chuckling a little.

1. Secret Agent Man – Johnny Rivers
(Yes, the DEVO version is also recommended!)
2. I Spy (For the FBI) – The Untouchables
(feel free to substitute the cool Jamo Thomas version if you prefer)
3. Spy World – Wall of Voodoo
4. Somebody’s Watching Me – Rockwell
5. Heroes – David Bowie
6. Back In The USSR – The Beatles (but you get the Motorhead version just because it’s awesome)
7. Vanishing Spies – Frank Black
8. Don’t Worry About The Government – Talking Heads
9. Every Breath You Take– The Police
10. We Are Detective – Thompson Twins
11. The Big Heat – Stan Ridgway
12. Territorial Pissings – Nirvana
13. Men In Black – Will Smith
14. Senses Working Overtime – XTC

Um, I think that’s it – feel free to add your own tunes to this little mix. Over and out.

-GW

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Romero & Landau: Two For The Road

We have to stop meeting this way, but so it goes:

night_of_the_living_deadGeorge A. Romero created one of the most influential, essential horror movies back in 1968 with Night Of The Living Dead, a film that still packs a punch on a few fronts. As his feature film debut, Romero’s flesh-eating ghouls would inspire a legion of filmmakers to copy and attempt to improve upon his film’s strengths. Some did, most didn’t. He stayed primarily and comfortably within the horror genre, making six follow-ups to the original along with some solid films such as Martin, Knightriders, and Creepshow.

I can still recall the first time I saw Night on broadcast TV late at night (I think it was ABC that ran it first), the network placed an on-screen overlay during the “news” segments that ran during the film so people wouldn’t think actual dead folks weren’t rising up to chomp on flesh. I forget how young I was, but even in its edited for, the movie had me half under a blanket and that surprise ending gave me nightmares for a few days afterward. A few years later when TV spots for Dawn Of The Dead popped up, I was actually so scared I decided not to try and attempt to buy a ticket. I saved that underage trial by fire for ALIEN, released a year later.

Side note: George lived up here in the Bronx – I believe in the same area I’m in now. Not that it matters much, but finding that out always made me think of another neighborhood guy who did well for himself.

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Now, Where Was I?

Oh, right. Had some medical appointments this week and got a few more as a result. Whee. I need a vacation from all this poking and prodding, but it looks as if most of that quality time I’d prefer lazing about will be spent hanging out in waiting rooms listening to people griping about waiting. Feh. I’ll be replaying this cool kookiness on a loop in my head to drown that droning out:

(thanks, GoodOldDaysReturns!) 

I’ll try to get a few posts up this weekend, as the backlog is biting my butt hard and I do need to whittle down the pile of stuff somewhat.

Back in a bit.

-GW

Blu-Ray Review: Werewolf Woman

WerewolfWoman_BRWith most exploitation films, it’s best to jump in cold and hang on for dear life because over-scrutinizing every frame can mean missing out on what a film really has to offer. Flaws and logic gaps are commonplace as many genre films tend to be rushed (or pay homage to earlier rushed flicks) and rely on copious nudity, sexual content, and/or graphic violence to make their points. Of course, that’s probably one reason why they’re so appreciated by those of us with time to spend watching as many as we can fit into out libraries. You know who you are, so wave that flag proudly, pal.

On the other hand, a film like Rino Di Silvestro’s 1976 Werewolf Woman (aka The Legend of the Wolf Woman, among other titles) demands to be scrutinized (warts and all) because under that copious nudity, et cetera is a film whose director fully believed in the subject matter (Clinical Lycanthropy) and yep, decided to tackle it head on as a full on exploitation flick. While it’s a film that’s got quite a nasty, depressing bite to it when all it said and done, you can kind of see through all the sleaze that the director was trying to slap some sort of psychological depth into the proceedings.

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Blu-Ray Review: Doberman Cop

Doberman CopYou may (or may not) confuse Doberman Cop with Wolf Guy for some reason and nope, I’d not fault you one bit if you haven’t seen either film and draw that incorrect conclusion. The former film has nothing to do with the latter other than both films were adapted from popular manga and greatly transformed as a result by their respective writers and directors.

In the case of Kinji Fujusaku’s 1977 flick, it’s a far better made movie once again featuring Shinichi “Sonny” Chiba doing his own stunts, loads of violence (but less nudity) and a weird dip into supernatural detecting as a means of solving a series of serial killings. While crackling with a crazy energy, there are a few logic gaps if you pay close enough attention between Fujisaku’s trademark hard-boiled violence that don’t harm the film, but the narrative suffers as a result.

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Blu-Ray Review: Wolf Guy

Wolf Guy_AV088 (Large) While comic book movies are a dime a dozen these days, it’s a pretty damn expensive enterprise launching one of those overblown popcorn flicks to an increasingly jaded audience. The funny thing is, sometimes the el cheapo route works best in delivering pure bang for a lot less bucks. But of course, we’re stuck in the era of major studios refusing to do anything on a small scale without wrecking it with interference of some sort by throwing either too much or not enough money into marketing depending on the project’s potential.

Which is kind of why Wolf Guy makes for such a stupidly thrilling alternative to the current Hollywood template. Japanese film studios had been adapting all sorts of manga for years, so Kazuhiko Yamaguchi’s 1975 film isn’t all that special. In fact, it never rises above pure exploitation fodder where you flip your brain off and hang on for dear life. But the over the top (in-camera) gore effects, copious nudity, and totally bizarre plot make it a crazed breath of fresh air that’s worth a look. Granted, you’ll want to watch the special features just to get your money’s worth as this film isn’t going to win any awards for making much sense.

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Review: Independence Day: Resurgence

independence_day_resurgence_xlgWe really didn’t need a sequel to Roland Emmerich’s Independence Day, but one got made anyway. The first film was a big, loud and (at the time) expensive chunk of mindless summer fun that grossed over $800 million at the box office and paved the way for even more mindless blockbusters that featured cardboard characters, paper-thin plots, and more (and questionably “better”) computer generated effects. I liked it enough to see it four times (hey, those visual effects were pretty stunning back then) and later bought it on VHS, lenticular insert card and all.

The 20 years too late sequel, Independence Day: Resurgence ups the ante considerably by making everything bigger, dumber, faster and louder to the point that it’s a mind-numbing, confusing mess from start to finish. Hey, if you like your popcorn movies quite popcorn-y and don’t mind two solid hours of a simplistic yet convoluted plot, by the numbers acting and countless millions (or billions, it’s hard to tell) killed before the end credits, I’m not here to poop on your parade at all.

On the other hand, I want some actual science back in my science fiction. And physics. And something resembling a comprehensible plot that doesn’t insult what little intelligence I have left. None of those are here and the film’s way too cheery ending promising an even bigger and more bombastic third entry ends up dooming this “franchise” to maybe network TV movie or limited series status at best (that is, if someone at Fox has the brains to even think of going that safer route).

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Review: AereA (PS4)


 
 

While it’s not as great as it should have been out of the gate, there’s still time to fix this sleeper up with a decent patch and make it an even better product.

Developer Triangle Studios’ AereA makes for an interesting blend of familiar elements that gamers willing to overlook its flaws should enjoy. Indie publisher Soedesco has released this as a marquee mid-priced ($39.99) retail and digital game and it’s clear they’re wanting it to be a sleeper hit for casual to veteran ARPG fans. Colorful visuals, fast-paced gameplay and a superb score (by Deon van Heerden) are all strong points. Unfortunately, game balance issues, a poor English localization, and the lack of any post-game content hurt the overall experience.

A sort of love child of Diablo, Wild Tangent’s Fate series and Runic’s original Torchlight, the Unity-powered visuals and emphasis on action are initially impressive. Additionally, the ability to play couch co-op with up to three other players is a nice touch (no online play is supported). However, the very straightforward story progression, a total lack of personality in its four mute heroes, and some technical/UI problems made me grimace more than grin through my 22+ hours with the game.

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Review: Perception (PS4)

TheTree (Custom).jpg 

Your perception of Perception as a horror game will go a long way towards fully enjoying the experience it offers. It’s more a first-person adventure game with horror elements where developer The Deep End Games uses lead character Cassie Thornton’s blindness as a means of both physical and mental exploration.

Cassie is drawn by recurring nightmares to abandoned mansion Echo Bluff and as she’s completely blind, her own perceptions are being challenged. The unconventional visual presentation, use of echolocation, and mix of mystery and time travel are all plus points here. There are flaws as well, but for the most part the 5 to 6 hours you’ll spend as Cassie should please the more open-minded horror/mystery adventure game fans out there.

Perception - Echo Bluff (Custom).jpg 

Cassie’s trip through the seemingly empty mansion is hampered by the presence of The Presence, not so nice angry spirits (who don’t bring presents, by the way) that change up the initially tap-happy caning she does into memorizing rooms and whacking objects as little as possible. While this adds tension to the experience, some parts of the game end up being learning experiences thanks to an auto-save system that forces slight to moderate backtracking and replaying areas if you end up getting Presenced to death.

In other words, you’ll likely need to unlearn your first half hour or so of gameplay and rely on memory and/or using an optional guidance system that points you in the proper direction while still allowing exploration. That said, some of the game’s scares are somewhat avoidable by popping into assorted hiding spaces until trouble passes while others may make you jump a bit based on your level of immersion. Of course, if you’re not easily frightened, the game may seem light on scares unless you want to encounter them.

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That Does Not Compute (Again!)

(thanks, castleleafb!) 
 

The mostly good to so-so news of my first post-discharge checkup was kicked in the head hard by some not so good medical news (can we get an order of that CKD on stage 3, please? Thanks!) and my stupid laptop actually being deader than I thought with me not having the money to have it repaired. Great. Anyone want to hire an old coot who knows too much about games and movies but hates the current payola screamer setup (because it’s unethical among other reasons) to go near YouTube or Twitch? Yeah, I thought not.

As for the laptop, ASUS estimates it’ll cost $520 (minus shipping!). Bleh, but I want the job done right. Sure, I could go the cheapskate neighborhood route for the repair job, but my luck with that stuff is lousy. I sent my PlayStation 3 to Phill Katz at The Repair Kings over a year ago, but never got it back. Ten years of game saves and my idea for book about that era of games? Gone and nope, long story short… the cops were not much help.

Anyway, for the time being, it’s the chuggy XP setup I’m typing this on that can’t even run Steam or any other download service thanks to low memory and not enough hard drive space. I guess it’s time to break into the collection to sell off more stuff, as I’m gathering by poking around that my poor kidneys aren’t going to get any better and I guess it’s time to pare down the game library to a more manageable size. I’m taking the rest of the day off, but reviews for Valkyria Revolution, The Caligula Effect, the excellent Hakuoki: Kyoto Winds and a couple of blu-ray posts are all on the way.

(thanks, https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCZDjRj_pjO-G5AT90q0aCaw!) 

-GW