Blu-Ray Review: Deep Red

Deep Red ArrowI clearly wasn’t ready for Dario Argento’s Deep Red way back when I saw it on a somewhat beat-up rented VHS tape back around 1990 or ’91. While the 1975 film had some primo scares (such as that freaky clockwork dummy scene and the genuinely gory brilliance in its stylized murders), the story seemed to be a bit chopped up to the point of distracting me a wee bit too much. Hey, I often tend to pay attention to the plot more than the violence in most horror films, so sue me. Flash forward to Arrow’s 2016 UK restoration (finally getting a North American release) which adds back in scenes that were cut and makes one of Argento’s best early films even better. Granted, it’s not going to be for everyone (yes, it’s quite violent), but as with many gialli, you more or less know what you’re getting and you’re going to get it but good (and in both eyes, at that).

David Hemmings plays Marcus Daly, a British jazz pianist who ends up being the target of a killer after he sees said killer killing the hell out of some hapless victim. During the initial police investigation, Daly’s photo is snapped by snippy, snoopy reporter Gianna Brezzi (Daria Nicolodi), who inadvertently puts Marcus in grave danger after posting his handsome mug in the newspaper. As in his earlier The Bird With The Crystal Plumage and The Cat O’ Nine Tails, you get leading men who get in well over their heads once they try to do a bit of extracurricular detective work and yes indeed, Daly gets put through the wringer but good. This is also another Argento film where a woman saves the lead from certain death, with Nicolodi’s Brezzi making a strong impression as a gal who’s no screaming wallflower at all.

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Onimisha: Warlords to Return in 2019

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He’s baaaaaack (finally!)

When I was working in an indie game shop many moons ago, I can recall Onimusha: Warlords being a constant seller for the PS2 and later, Xbox. The game eventually game spawned three sequels on Sony’s console and a few interesting spinoffs (a fighting game and a strategy/RPG). It took 17 years, but the first game is finally getting a nicely priced ($19.99) HD upgrade for consoles and PC with a January release date. Even better, North American gamers get a physical as well as digital release on consoles. Excellent.

Some details and more screens below the jump. check out the trailer (ah, memories!)

(Thanks, Capcom USA!)

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Shenmue I & II: It’s Back, and a Must-Buy

 

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“Hey, man… wake up! We’re finally out again on consoles (except the Switch) and PC!”

Speaking of backs: With my poor back giving me some trouble these past few days (ow), updates have been tricky to do, but I’m grinning and grimacing through the pain just to let you all know (well, those who haven’t snapped it up yet on PS4, Xbox One, or PC) that Shenmue I & II is out for $29.99 (physical or digital). Cue the parade sound effects!  I actually only got around to ordering a copy yesterday thanks to thinking it was shipping next week (oops), but it’ll arrive tomorrow, so I’m not too far out of the loop. I’d normally say that I can finally sock away my Dreamcast and original Xbox, but I still use them for other games because I am quite the nostalgic old coot. Anyway, let me get back to trying to give myself a back massage with a bunch of rolling pins (okay, not really, but it may come to that) and let you all go about your day.

Back (ow) in a bit.

(Thanks, SegaAmerica!)

I Think Tuco’s A Bit Upset…

(Thanks, Luciano Napoli!)

No, Tuco… you’ve not been forgotten, pal. We’ll get to you soon enough. Hey, folks – Video Store Action Heroes is a thing and it’s LIVE (woo and hoo). Check out the three cooler entries and mine, which is just OK:

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Just press PLAY (and don’t forget to rewind when you’re done, pal.

Mike’s Take on the Movies does up 1983’s Uncommon Valor (in which we also discover Mike either works out regularly, has some great Photoshop skills, or both).

Todd goes all Cinema Monolith on 1980’s ffolkes (aka North Sea Hijack or Assault Force) in a Moore or less fine as usual review.

Wolfman’s Cult Movie Club takes on one of my favorites, 1987’s The Hidden and I’ll say now that it’s a good thing he saw this great hidden gem first and not the screamingly awful sequel.

What’s up for future installments? Well… you’ll just need to tune in and find out now, won’t you?

-GW

Not So Random Film of The Weekend: The Zero Boys

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Ooh, it’s my first entry in this soon to be never-ending series. Be gentle!

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While it’s certainly an entertaining popcorn and beer-worthy flick with great camerawork, direction and an appropriately 80’s blend of synth-heavy and orchestral scoring courtesy of Stanley Myers and Hans Zimmer, there’s something a wee bit “off” about Nico Mastorakis’ 1986 film The Zero Boys  that keeps it from total greatness. Don’t get me wrong, folks: It’s certainly got just about everything it needs to be a perfectly fine cheesy action flick and even adds in some mildly disturbing  moments that lend it a solid horror vibe. However, there’s very little in the way of gore here and you certainly don’t want to go in expecting a ton of exploitative nudity even though you’d think a film such as this made at this point in time would include a moderate heaping of both as par for the crowd-pleasing course.

In fact, according to an interview on the Arrow Video Blu-Ray, Mastorakis deliberately made the film this way as a sort of counterbalance to his far more brutal 1976 film Island of Death. If you take away the expletives and make a few minor edits, you pretty much have a PG-rated flick that you could easily show on a regular network or basic cable channel these days. Amusingly enough, by comparison, an average episode of Gotham has a load more violence than what you’ll see here (I kind of liked the first two seasons, but the show’s gotten a bit too grim as a alternate world take on its source material, but I digress…).

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Let’s see now: Bandanna? Check. Attitude? Check. Gun? Check. I think that’s everything, but you know how these things go (until they don’t go the way you think).

That’s not to say the film is totally tame, mind you. It moves from high action and a slightly comedic tone at the start into those more moody and serious scare scenes with relative ease and works well enough on that level. In general, Mastorakis’ films tend to go in all sorts of directions as they blend drama, comedy, action, sexy stuff and lots of suspension of disbelief common to genre films. Of course, if you pay too close attention to the writing, some parts don’t click as well as they should because the story needs to move along, damn the continuity consequences or assorted logic fails. In other words, this is one of those films where any sort of overthinking makes it a lot less fun.

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Yes, Diablo III is Coming to Switch (Or: I Told You So)

(Thanks, Nintendo!)

 

Yeah, I believed it was going to happen as soon as I saw that nightlight post back in March on Twitter. So, it’ll be $60, include all the DLC and there will be Switch exclusive content in the form of Gannondorf-themed armor and other goodies? Nice and SOLD. I’ll even not mind replaying the game from the beginning or not having the ability to transfer my PS3 or PS4 save files because you can blow through the campaign fairly quickly. That and Adventure Mode is where the real endless action lies and yes, I want to see what other surprises await because it would be quite foolish for Blizzard and Nintendo to not mine their respective histories in order to get loads of new players who’ll be new to the Diablo experience really interested in either pre-ordering or grabbing this game on day one.

Now, as to getting Link or maybe Zelda as playable character DLC at some point? I think it would be awesome… but I will neither hold my breath nor bug anyone about seeing this happen (although it would be interesting to see).

-GW

A Little Respect For Aretha

(Thanks, cizia69!)

 

I’d overslept and woke up late (again), oddly enough, dreaming about The Blues Brothers probably for a few too timely reasons not at all related to the news of Aretha Franklin’s passing (which I just found out about). The woman could sing the roof off any building and as far as I can recall, always gave her best whenever she stepped up to a microphone. I’ll leave the more thoughtful essays to those who do a lot better at them. In the meantime, I’m going to go and get a bit more work done but in a more maudlin mood.

 

(Thanks, UrbanMusic2000!)

-GW

428: Shibuya Scramble Hands-On: Flawless Detection, On the Case

428 SS_smallA little game history goes a long way, folks. Chunsoft pioneered the visual novel game way back in 1983 with Yuji Hori’s The Portopia Serial Murder Incident and over the decades since, the company, now known as Spike Chunsoft has released a number of quality visual and sound novel titles primarily for Japanese audiences. Visual novel fans here in the west probably know them best for some solid titles that have managed to make the trip overseas such as the Danganronpa, and Zero Escape games on consoles and handhelds, along with the upcoming Steins;Gate, AI, YU-NO, and Zanki Zero games set to arrive soon on a few platforms. Yes, they’ve also done a bunch of other (and better known) non-adventure game classics. But as you’ve gone and clicked that link above, you can do that extra bit of homework yourself. Me, I’m here to chat up this spectacular new but old number you’ll absolutely want to check out.

 

(Thanks, Spike Chunsoft!)

 

Another game on the way is the stellar formerly Japan-only visual novel from 2008, 428: Shibuya Scramble, finally headed stateside for PS4 and PC on September 4. There’s a great demo out now on PSN that pulled me in right from its 70’s-sounding opening theme and had me playing through to both endings with a huge smile on my face. While it’s only a taste of what’s to come, the blend of text adventure, still photos and brief full-motion video clips makes this a quite impressive achievement even ten years after its release. It’s more or less a “choose your own adventure” game, but one where a failure state doesn’t necessarily end the game at all, but unlocks new story elements.

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Review: Mary Skelter: Nightmares (PC)

Mary Skelter Nightmares PC

GhostLight’s wonderful port of Mary Skelter: Nightmares brings the game to PC in a flawless translation of the Vita version and yes, it’s absolutely worth a buy.  Seeing and playing it on a larger screen reveals sharper enemy and background art, but you won’t be fiddling with anything other than resolution and window size settings if you really need to. In fact, the rather low system requirements makes this one of the more accessible modern dungeon crawlers out there. Even if you’re not into the anime art style and overall offbeat tone here, the game excels on the gameplay front in capturing the spirit of the classic Wizardry games.

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Nope, this isn’t your Granny’s version of Snow White or any of the other gals from those old fairy tales. These girls can take care of themselves pretty well.

That’s not to say at all that the game is an entry level experience. There’s a decent enough difficulty curve and a combination of expansive maps, deadly traps and powerful bosses that will keep you on your toes. The main story involves a living tower-like dungeon called Jail looming over a city in Tokyo it has buried underground and the attempts of a squad of lovely anime ladies and one guy tasked with climbing that tower with intent on defeating the Marchen (monsters) and Nightmares (bosses) that inhabit it. The team’s main purpose is to enter the Jail’s oddball dungeons and defeat the Nightmares, which will grow the tower and allow it to reach the planet’s surface, allowing the citizens of the underground Liberated Zone their true freedom. There’s a bit more (well, a good deal more) to the story, but letting it unfold while playing is the best means of experiencing it.

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The Missing to be Found on Consoles and PC Later This Year

(thanks, Arc System Works America!)

The-Missing_BoxHmmm, perhaps I should pay more attention to more stuff online, right? Hey, it’s kind of hard to do these days when you burn so much energy trying to avoid all the negativity out there, grrrr. Anyway, I actually missed out on that video above that noted Hidetaka (SWERY) Suerhiro and developer White Owls, Inc. were working on a brand new game for Arc System Works America set to be published later this year.

Well, that game is called The Missing: J.J. Macfield and the Island of Memories and it’s set to drop digitally onto PC, PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch before the year is out. Excellent. I have no clue as to what sort of game it will be other than it’s an action/adventure… well, that and you get all of three screenshots below:

Yep, I’ll be picking this up as well. SWERY’s work is always intriguing and it’ll be a nice enough appetizer while we wait for more news about The Good Life as that game tiptoes along its development cycle.

-GW