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 was 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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Red Dead Redemption II Gameplay Trailer: The Wild Punch Lands in October

 

Ladies and gentlemen, I never do this because such speculation is inherently ridiculous especially when it comes to product that’s still not released, but I’ll take the risk and call Red Dead Redemption II my Game of the Year and it’ll be yours as well. Take a look:

 

(Thanks, Rockstar Games!)

 

Of course, as I’ve noted previously, it was clear as soon as the game was officially announced that Rockstar was going to be redefining the open world game once again, so it’s a bit redundant to be heaping praise when that bar was being raised was also one set in each of the large scale games they’ve created.  Anyway, I’ve got nothing left to say because this gameplay footage speaks very well enough for itself. Me? I’m going to watch this a few more times while trying to figure out a long list of excuses to not venture outside so I can spend way too much time playing this.

Worth buying a console over and pre-ordering? Absolutely, I say.

-GW

Review: Shin Megami Tensei Strange Journey Redux (Nintendo 3DS)

SMTSJ_boxI’ve been a big fan of Atlus’ Shin Megami Tensei games for a while now (okay, close to 25 years – yes, I’m old) but I’d say one of my favorite portable entries in the series was Shin Megami Tensei Strange Journey, released back on the Nintendo DS in 2010. Like the other SMT games, the first person dungeon crawling (like some of Atlus’ early Persona games, was inspired by Sir-Tech’s classic Wizardry series), the mix of sci-fi, horror, and mature dialog all made for a pretty compelling experience. Remade and expanded for the 3DS, Shin Megami Tensei Strange Journey Redux ($39.99) still manages to be an excellent game well worth a replay or even a first experience for those new to the long running series.

New to the game are a new character with her own side story, a new multi-floor dungeon and new side missions, a great new animated intro and optional DLC (which is one reason this review is a few days later than expected). Additionally, 20 save slots (the DS game had a mere two!) allow for a bit of experimentation with the game’s demon fusing mechanic as well as let you tackle certain tough sections and deal with the potential outcomes or just mess around trying to cause demon fusion accidents, some of which can be rewarding in the long run. Oh, and for those who’ve played the DS version, yes, some of those old demon passwords still work.

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Review: Conan Exiles (PS4)

Conan Exiles

Survival games come in a few flavors these days and Funcom’s mostly solid Conan Exiles ($49.99) has that interestingly coppery taste of blood, a bit of crunch from a handful of insects and a grassy finish, all wrapped in a hide of some sort that’s been smoked thoroughly. Or something like that. The game is a rough and tumble chunk of violent fun, complex crafting (that *really* needs streamlining), endless exploration and thankfully, offline play when those too packed servers are busy.

As with ARK: Survival Evolved, the massive open world sandbox element tosses you into things nearly naked and needing to gather resources quickly or die trying. Conan pops up at the beginning to free your user-created crucified character and wish you well before you’re left to your own devices. The game prompts you onward with small to large milestones and some fast level gains for small to large accomplishments. Drinking water, finding space for and creating that first shelter, crafting your first basic armor, figuring out the ridiculously complex cooking system and more all help you get a feel for the game right away. Or at least, you’ll realize that this is a game where you’ll need to pay constant attention to even the smallest thing lest you want to punt that Dual Shock 4 through your TV.

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RAGE 2 Trailer: Mad Maximum, Coming in 2019

I really liked RAGE a lot despite it hogging up a load of space on my PS3’s hard drive and having a few slow moments here and there. With the upcoming Spring 2018 release of RAGE 2 teaming up original developer id Software and veteran developer Avalanche Studios, it’s clear that Bethesda is going for a sort of new gold standard that combines id’s FPS expertise and Avalanche’s penchant for massive and massively entertaining open world games with that post apocalyptic vibe that’s guaranteed to sell a few million copies right out of the gate.

I’ll say no more on this unless Bethsoft is planning a press stop here in NYC post-E3 so I can get some hands-on time and write about the experience. That said, I’m thinking I’ll like this a lot more than I liked that first game.

-GW

Review: Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality

Rick and Morty PS4Developer Owlchemy Labs really has a decent handle on this VR stuff, so Rick and Morty: Virtual Rick-ality ($29.99) is pretty much a no-brainer for fans of that popular show who just so happen to own a PlayStation 4 and PS VR setup. The game’s about as as insane as the show and the VR is pretty neat and designed to be a good deal less frantic on the eye holes (meaning those of you who get a bit woozy from VR can rejoice).

While I’m not as much into the show as some of its more avid fans, a well-made game will always catch my eye (ow), particularly one with the totally offbeat (and not for the young kiddies) humor the show excels at. So, yeah, if you’re new to the show, have wee ones and this game pops up as a request (because some kids can be cooler than their parents, or at least get away with watching cartoons out of their age range), you may want to play it for yourself and have your jaw hit your shoes a few times before you let those kids take it for a spin. Oh, you’ll very likely laugh your ass off in the process of checking this out. But that’s a good thing, correct?

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By Crom! Conan Exiles Out Now on Consoles

Conan Exiles

Or: By Crom, I think I’ll never see daylight again. Yes, Funcom has gotten it’s popular M-rated MMO/survival/crafting game Conan Exiles out today on PS4 and Xbox One along with a nice update for PC users. I’m going into this totally blind other than checking out a few official gameplay videos and trailers over the past year from the PC version. My money says death will come quickly for my poor character, but I’m going to try and survive as long as possible (well, as least until I can build a decent shelter). Granted, I’ll need to make it through the character creation system, as I’m still thinking up what sort of character I’m going to make. I like that the tips PDF I got notes that choosing Crom as a starting deity makes the character agnostic, but you also get NO benefit bonuses from choosing him (as it should be).

 

 

While I don’t plan to do any PVP stuff (as I want to enjoy the story and gameplay without pulling all my remaining hair out because my avatar keeps getting killed by belt-notchers out to grab scalps wherever they can), I may pop onto a server and check out how long I’ll last there. I really want to focus on the lore and seeing how well any story content is structured, as Funcom says it’s not an empty sandbox you’ll be playing in. That means I’ll be searching high and low for lore to the point where I’ll very likely get keelhauled by an enemy because I’m busy reading some digitally dusty tome I’ve located. As well.

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Back in a bit with a review which will probably be in at least two parts. See you then.

-GW

Red Dead Redemption II Trailer 3: Pow and Wow

RDR_2 T3 banner

Didn’t I once say you can always trust Rockstar Games to never, ever let you down? This new trailer is absolutely gorgeous, isn’t it?

My jaw is on the floor somewhere and needs to be found, so go read this info from the press release while I go take care of that, won’t you?

America, 1899.

The end of the wild west era has begun as lawmen hunt down the last remaining outlaw gangs. Those who will not surrender or succumb are killed.

After a robbery goes badly wrong in the western town of Blackwater, Arthur Morgan and the Van der Linde gang are forced to flee. With federal agents and the best bounty hunters in the nation massing on their heels, the gang must rob, steal and fight their way across the rugged heartland of America in order to survive. As deepening internal divisions threaten to tear the gang apart, Arthur must make a choice between his own ideals and loyalty to the gang who raised him.

From the creators of Grand Theft Auto V and Red Dead Redemption, Red Dead Redemption 2 is an epic tale of life in America at the dawn of the modern age. Coming October 26, 2018 to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One systems.

So, yeah. Read Dead Redemption II is coming October 26, 2018 to PlayStation 4 and Xbox One systems. Sure, you can come over and watch me play, I guess. Well, provided I answer the door (which may not happen because I’ll be a tad busy back in 1899).

-GW

Blu-Ray Review: Killer Klowns From Outer Space

Killer Klowns BRIf ever there was a film where the title tells you everything you need to know while also telling you it’s a film you kind of need to see out of sheer curiosity, it’s Killer Klowns From Outer Space. yeah, yeah, I know a lot of you hate clowns in real life and nope, this film probably won’t be the one to endear you to the red nose and greasepaint cause. That said, if you love great practical effects, practical jokes, bits of stop motion creativity, 80’s gore FX and one damn catchy main theme song, this one has all those and more.

Arrow Video has once again pulled out all the stops with this restoration, adding a ton of special features that add to the big top thrills and chills. If you’ve never seen this one before, it’s worth checking out because it’s great for a few laughs and still works as one of those films that didn’t need a sequel (although there have been a few rumblings about one over the years).

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Random Film of the Week: Hard to be a God

(Thanks, kinolorber!)

 

Hard to be a God MPImagine an episode of Game of Thrones as performed by the cast of Peter Weiss’ Marat/Sade minus the fantasy elements and with an even more staggering attention to medieval detail and you’ll maybe grasp a small potion of the late Aleksei German’s outstanding, brutal (yet beautiful) Hard to be a a God. This 2013 film (the director’s last) isn’t for the easily disturbed but if you’re willing to sit through the almost three hour running time, you’ll likely find yourself glued to the screen from beginning to end.

While it may not look like a sci-fi film, right from the start you’ll see subtitles that note the story takes place on an earth-like planet going through its medieval phase about 800 years after ours. A group of scientists have been send there to observe the planet and gently nudge it forward without using technology or politics as it goes through what should be a renaissance phase. Unfortunately, things kind of get a bit out if hand when intellectuals of all types become targets for murder by a tyrant’s roaming militia intent on keeping the people uneducated and (mostly) harmless. Actually, about 28 minutes in, you get a reminder that you’re on another world thanks to a quick shot of something mechanical making itself known. But even then, the illusion of an incessantly nasty age isn’t at all broken.

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