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!

The Zero Boys Arrow

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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Hyper Sentinel: A True Modern Retro Game Needs Your Help to Fly High

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I’ll admit to having a like/hate relationship with crowdfunding, but when I see a game like Hyper Sentinel lagging behind its target simply because gamers here in the west don’t know or appreciate the history behind it, I have to pipe up a bit. Just check out that Kickstarter page to see the sheer enthusiasm for this labor of love and the rich history and pedigree of Andrew Hewson, Rob Hewson, who along with Johnathan Port and John Ogden, are making a game that looks like an incredible amount of fun to play for retro and modern gamers alike.


 

Yep. This looks like a ton of fun, right? But there it sits, needing more people like YOU or your vintage gaming friends who claim they’re into these types of games, yet hold zero knowledge of gaming outside the US and Japanese consoles to toss pledges its way. Those in the know have supported this already (and I hope more can spread the word), but if you need a little kick-start of your own, here’s a little slice of game history to check out as an assist:

(Thanks, DerSchmu!)
 

Cool, huh? Yeah, I thought so. How go help the Hewsons and company get their game out of that hangar and onto anything that can play it. If you have an iPhone, give that demo a shot and go yell at a few friends about your experience. Dismissed!

Random Film of the Week(end): Bloody Birthday

Bloody Birthday MP 2If you’ve never had children and are thinking of bearing your own brood, watching a film like 1981’s Bloody Birthday just might put you off the idea for a while. Like forever. This sort of obscure horror flick isn’t anywhere near as gory as many of the more familiar 80’s “B” movies at all. But the overall tone is more than a tiny bit disturbing as the film is more or less an unfiltered version of The Bad Seed without the tacked-on Hollywood ending.

The funny thing is from the opening moments you’d think the film was going to be somewhat supernatural in nature. But it’s not at all (which turns out to be a really good thing). In 1970, three babies are born to three different mothers at the same hospital during a solar eclipse and ten years later, all three end up as evil pre-teen murder machines. Who just so happen to live on the same block or at least within walking distance of each others homes. Yikes. The kids, Debbie (Elizabeth Hoy), Curtis (Billy Jayne), and Steven (Andy Freeman) manage to whittle down the population of Meadowvale, California while remaining undetected because who’d see such innocent little darrrrrrlings as a trio of mini-Manson family members? Well, perhaps Debbie’s dad, who happens to be the town sheriff? Nope. He’s more clueless than a headless Sherlock Holmes. Faster than you can say “There goes the neighborhood!”, well… you know the rest of that one, right?

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THE FLY: Outbreak – IDW Invokes Cronenberg, So It Better Be Worthy…

The Fly Outbreak IDW (Custom) 

Hmmm. As a David Croneberg fan, I get the shaky eyebrow whenever someone uses his name to sell a project, particularly one linked to one of his better major studio horror films. That said, I’ll give IDW Publishing a bit of a break (wrist or ankle – see the film and you’ll get a chuckle from that, I hope) for its upcoming five-part miniseries THE FLY: Outbreak. While the press release isn’t giving much away in terms of the plot, if what’s below is done up correctly, it just may work for even the most jaded fan of the film. To wit:

Years ago, a scientist had a horrific accident when he tried to use his newly invented teleportation device and became a human/fly hybrid. Now his almost-human son continues to search for a cure for the mutated genes. But a breakthrough turns into a breakout, and anyone exposed risks turning into a monster as well…

Now, to me, that sounds like a mix of 1959’s Return of the Fly and the not at all needed 1989 sequel to Cronenberg’s film, The Fly II, but in what’s looking to be more the capable hands of writer Brandon Seifert (Hellraiser, Witch Doctor) and artist menton3 (Silent Hill, Monocyte).

The Fly Outbreak IDW R1 Cover 

Of course, this got me wondering if Cronenberg’s idea for a “sequel” that’s been in limbo for a few years (studio politics at work again, whee!) is finally going to see the light of day and the green light that means he can shoot the damn thing. I didn’t even think that a proper sequel or remake was even possible, but I trust Cronenberg to always shake things up and deliver the unexpected. But I guess let’s have this IDW book hit the stands and see how it sells first before buzzing about anything else that lands on movie screens a few years down the pike…

Random Film of the Week: PRISON

Prison_MPLet me tell you, kids… Scared Straight has NOTHING on Renny Harlin’s PRISON. Hell, If they showed this released in 1988 flick on TV and in schools, instead of some hard-timing losers screaming at kids about staying out of trouble, I’d bet you a hot nickel that the rate of incarceration in America would be at an all-time low. Seriously, this film is SO messed up and mean and shot in an actual closed prison with actual inmates from another joint so there’s a solid sense of verisimilitude here that’s amplified into the haunted realm by the ghost of an executed killer out for some bloody reeeee-venge.

This film is also important for a few reasons horror and fantasy fans should appreciate. For one, it got Harlin the job directing Nightmare on Elm Street 4 which was his “big” American genre film break and led to others over the years both good and bad. It’s also Viggo Mortensen’s first movie appearance in a leading role and we all know where his career went as the years went by. As for this nugget of methodical madness, it’s a pretty effective blend of genre jail flick and atmospheric horror featuring some nicely gory moments plus one of the funniest random deaths I’ve ever seen in any film… Continue reading

Capcom Arcade Cabinet All-In-One Pack: Holdouts Get It But Good…

So, you were one of those cheap thrifty folk hanging about and peeking ’round the corner every so often waiting for Capcom to release the full version of its hit arcade games collection at a ridiculously low price? Well, *ding!*…  your order is hot and ready to go. Available now for oh, about 50% off and including the two secret bonus games, Vulgus (“What’s a Vulgus?!”, you ask? You’l find out soon enough!) and 1943 Kai! you can grab Capcom Arcade Cabinet on PSN and XBLA for $29.99 (or /€29.99/£23.99/2000 Microsoft points). Play these at home on your TV and not have to worry about some thug shaking you down for quarters, sticky controllers or cigarette smoke blinding you when you’re going for that high score. Er, unless you smoke when you’re playing games…

Hating Aliens: Colonial Marines? Well, It Could Be Better (or Worse) With A Bit of Retro Perspective…

 

ACM_PS3Given the critical drubbing that Sega’s Aliens: Colonial Marines has gotten across most of the Internet-verse, some gamers are still feeling the urge to play something that feels closer to James Cameron’s 1986 film than what ended up on store shelves. Well, allow me to assist in this matter (sort of). Track down a working Commodore 64, Amstrad CPC, ZX Spectrum and MSX and a copy of Electric Dreams’ 1987 game, Aliens or the rather interesting (and free) PC remake over at Derbian Games and see what was scary to gamers of that era. Continue reading