BLU-RAY REVIEW: THE LAWNMOWER MAN

By Nick Durham

It’s been a while since I’d seen The Lawnmower Man, actually it’s been quite a long time. So long in fact that I remember more of the video game (yes there was a video game tie-in to the film) than I do the actual film. In fact, I remember the promotional material for the film more than I do the actual movie itself. I distinctly remember trailers and TV spots that had a tagline that was something similar to “from the mind of Stephen King” or something to that effect. Well, turns out there was a short story from King called The Lawnmower Man, but that’s pretty much where the similarities between prose and film come to an end. In fact, King even sued New Line Cinema over attaching his name to the movie because he knew this had practically absolutely nothing to do with his short story, and actually went back and forth with the studio in court over it before they finally removed his name. Off-screen drama aside, the film has made it’s Blu-ray debut (here in the States anyway) thanks to Scream Factory, so let’s dive on in.

Released in 1992, The Lawnmower Man revolves around scientist Dr. Angelo (Pierce Brosnan) who uses virtual reality to increase the intelligence of chimpanzees. The company Angelo works for (which is actually funded by “The Shop”, which Stephen King lovers will instantly recognize) seeks to use his VR work for military purposes, whereas Angelo wants to help the world. Angelo manages to convince simpleton greens keeper Jobe (Jeff Fahey) to be his human subject in an effort to increase his intelligence, and things appear to be going well…but of course that doesn’t last long. Soon enough, Jobe has gained all kinds of crazy abilities from reading minds to manipulating objects, and things escalate from there, leading to a virtual reality showdown between Jobe and Angelo courtesy of early 90s CG effects which were weird looking then, and are now just flat out hilarious to look at.

While The Lawnmower Man means well in the department of wanting to deliver some genuine thrills, the whole film feels haphazardly slapped together. Not to mention the fact that this is another case of smart people (namely Angelo) doing pretty damn stupid things and being surprised at the end results of which. Despite all that though, 25 years later the film is still somewhat fun, even in spite of itself. Brosnan and Fahey are actually pretty good, and horror stalwarts Geoffrey Lewis and Near Dark hottie Jenny Wright are here in supporting roles as well.

Scream Factory’s Blu-ray release of The Lawnmower Man is packed to the brim with extras, including two versions of the film: the theatrical cut, and the 140 plus minute director’s cut; both of which have been remastered in 4K. There’s a commentary track on both cuts featuring director Brett Leonard, as well as new interviews featuring Leonard, Jeff Fahey, and more of the film’s crew. There’s a bunch of deleted scenes, trailers, TV spots, conceptual sketches and artwork, and more besides as well. Scream Factory really poured a lot into this release, which is a very good thing for fans of this flick. For those of you that have never enjoyed this film though, there’s nothing here that’s going to win you over.

All in all, Scream Factory’s release of The Lawnmower Man is a must own for fans of the film to say it lightly. As for the quality of the film itself, that’s pretty debatable. I know it’s a piece of shit and I enjoy it regardless, and chances are I’m not the only one that feels that way. If you’ve never seen it before, check it out for some 90s cheese and marvel at Pierce Brosnan’s earing if nothing else.

Rating: 3/5

 

HORROR GAME VAULT: DINO CRISIS

By Nick Durham

I often feel like Capcom’s Dino Crisis franchise is often forgotten, which is a damn shame considering this survival horror game was a pretty big hit when originally released for the original Playstation in 1999. Created by the same crew behind the original Resident Evil games, Dino Crisis was for all intents and purposes, a Resident Evil game with motherfucking dinosaurs instead of zombies and monsters. This alone made the game more than worth checking out, even if at its heart the game is little more than a beat by beat clone of Resident Evil 2 in terms of overall gameplay elements. 

The story of Dino Crisis follows secret agent Regina, who is sent along with her team to investigate a secluded island. You end up discovering that the research facility on the island is home to blood thirsty raptors which will hunt you down, and a murderous T-rex that you will have a few memorable encounters with as well. In the midst of navigating the facility and taking on the dinos, you’ll do the typical survival horror stuff like solve puzzles and conserve your resources, etc. Unlike the Resident Evil games of this era though, the game’s environments are done in real-time 3D instead of the pre-rendered areas the old Resident Evil games were famous for. One thing the old Resident Evil games were infamous for were the horrendous tank controls, which are utilized here in Dino Crisis, but seem to be implemented much better here, which is a big plus.

The major department that Dino Crisis delivers though is in the scare department. There are some very, very solidly done jump scares and frights to be found here. There’s a very well done sense of dread permeating throughout the game, and you truly feel the sensation of not knowing what’s waiting around the corner for you. The only real drawbacks to Dino Crisis is that the game’s environments and enemies have little to no variety. This may be more because of system limitations than lack of imagination, but it doesn’t help you from losing interest in the long run. There are different possible endings to get based on the choices you make in the game, so there is a little bit of replayability here.

Dino Crisis ended up being somewhat of a surprise hit critically and commercially when it was released. It would receive ports to the Sega Dreamcast and the PC the following year, and a version was even being developed for the Game Boy Color but ended up getting cancelled. Sequels would follow, with Dino Crisis 2 released only for the Playstation in 2000, a spin-off light gun game called Dino Stalker for the Playstation 2 in 2002, and Dino Crisis 3 for the original Xbox in 2003. Dino Crisis 3 would be the last installment of the franchise, which found the dinosaurs in space (yes, you read that right). I’ll be going through the whole series in the next few installments of Horror Game Vault, so strap yourselves in. 

If you’ve never played the original Dino Crisis, I wholeheartedly recommend checking it out. It can usually be found fairly cheap and still holds up well today surprisingly enough. I honestly thought this would be one of those games that my memories would hold in higher regard than what it actually was, but this game is still a fun blast. Give it a look if you can.

BLU-RAY REVIEW: EVIL ED

By Nick Durham

1995’s Evil Ed is one of my favorite foreign horror films of the 90’s just based on the fact that it’s so damn ridiculous that if you’ve never seen it, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Making its way to our shores a few years after its initial release, Evil Ed is a Swedish horror/comedy hybrid that satires the harsh censoring that films were subjected to in Sweden from 1911 to 1996. Knowing this information helps going into Evil Ed, as it becomes much easier to appreciate what the filmmakers were going for here in terms of the sheer over the top carnage and screwball hilarity that follows.

The story of Evil Ed (not to be confused with Evil Ed from Fright Night) follows relatively conservative film editor Ed, who gets charged with cutting and editing the Loose Limbs slasher film series. After going through numerous scenes and cuts that feature copious amounts of blood, gore, dismemberment, nudity, and the voice of the great Bill Moseley (who is a hoot whenever his voice is overheard), Ed begins to slowly lose his mind. Eventually Ed goes on an ultra gory rampage, culminating in a showdown with film geek Nick along with the cops too. In between all that is plenty of zaniness, slapstickery, and plain old bloody fuckery to boot.

While Evil Ed on its surface may not appear to be anything too special, deep down this film is a gem. It’s well shot, well-directed, and the scenes of carnage and nastiness are well done as well, with some pretty good effects and makeup too. The English dubbing is hilarious to listen to, and only makes the film more enjoyable in my opinion. Not to mention the fact that the few times Bill Moseley’s voice shows up in scenes wherein Ed is working are worth the price of admission here alone. Even though the film kind of begins to fall apart in the beginning of its third act, Evil Ed is still a totally enjoyable horror hoot regardless.

Arrow Video’s Blu-ray release of Evil Ed, dubbed the “Special ED-ition”, is a wonderful limited edition set. The first two discs of the set are the Blu-ray and DVD versions of the new 99-minute cut of the film, and features an introduction by writer/director Anders Jacobsson and editor Doc. There’s a long featurette that details the making of the film and the trials and tribulations associated with making a splatter film in a film industry that was ruled by censors, which is very interesting to watch. There’s also retrospectives on the careers of the filmmakers pre and post-Evil Ed; as well as deleted scenes, trailers, and a video on how this new cut of the film was assembled. The third disc of this set is a Blu-ray featuring the oringal 93-minute cut of the film, as well as a three-plus hour long documentary on the making of the film which is ridiculously in-depth and informative. This set is rounded out by the typical collectible booklet featuring new writings on the legacy of the film which have become standard issue for Arrow’s bigger-ticket Blu-ray sets as well. 

It goes without saying that Arrow’s Blu-ray release of Evil Ed is most definitely worth picking up. The film itself isn’t for everyone to be sure, but Arrow’s Blu-ray set is flat out wonderful. If you’re a fan of the film, it goes without saying that you should definitely pick this up, and if you’ve never seen Evil Ed before, there’s no better time to do so than now.

Rating: 4/5

 

VIDEO GAME REVIEW: FRIDAY THE 13TH: THE GAME

Friday the 13th: The Game
Friday the 13th: The Game

By Nick Durham

After what felt like an eternity of waiting, the eagerly anticipated Friday the 13th: The Game has finally been unleashed upon the masses. Developed by Illfonic and published by Gun Media, Friday the 13th: The Game was originally being developed as an independent title called Slasher Vol. 1: Summer Camp before Gun Media managed to acquire the Friday the 13th license and have a successful Kickstarter campaign as well. After seeing numerous screenshots, test footage, and hearing tons upon tons of hype; does the game deliver the goods and manage to be as entertaining and visceral as we’ve all collectively hoped it would be? Well quite frankly, yes and no. 

Played through a third person perspective, Friday the 13th: The Game is a survival horror, multiplayer scramble to hide, survive, and escape Camp Crystal Lake from our favorite hockey-mask wearing slasher. If playing as one of the camp counselors, it’s up to you to run and hide, and be resourceful as well. This ranges from setting traps for Jason, finding weapons to combat him (and run), repair the cabin phone to call the police, as well as repair a car and boat in order to escape. If you play as Jason however, your sole mission is to kill all the horny, dope smoking teenagers you come across. Jason has special abilities, including stalking, shifting (AKA, managing to appear out of nowhere), and sensing out where the counselors are hiding. 

I will say first and foremost that after being able to spend enough time playing as both the various counselors (who thus far all seem to control and play the same) and as Jason Voorhees, I can honestly say that I’ve had more fun playing as the counselors believe it or not. Surviving and managing your resources is much more enjoyable than playing as Jason, which is a major disappointment. The first few times I played as him, I realized how much of an absolute fucking chore it can be in terms of the way Jason controls and stalks around. Maybe I need some more time with him to fully grasp it, but after a variety of sessions playing as him, I can safely say I’m not impressed.

Now as for the rest of Friday the 13th: The Game, it manages to be both pretty fun and insanely frustrating. I downloaded it at launch for my PS4, and saying it took forever to actually be able to get on to the servers and play a match is saying it lightly. This wasn’t much of a surprise considering video games are meant to be defective at launch it seems these days, but the fact that this continued for a while afterwards is almost inexcusable. Not to mention the fact the game itself is loaded with glitches, bugs, and lag time across the board. Although there is plenty of fan service thrown into this game (the various Jason looks, Thom Matthews as Tommy Jarvis, Kane Hodder providing motion capture work), too much of this game just feels flat out incomplete to justify laying down 40 fucking dollars for it.

Apparently eventually there is going to be a single player mode of Friday the 13th: The Game to be released at some point, which would be nice considering that the multiplayer-only aspect of the game thus far only has so much lasting appeal, and like I said, it isn’t really worth laying down 40 bucks for that alone. With that being said, maybe when that mode gets added, and maybe if some other aspects get tuned up, this game could be something really, really special. Until then, it sadly isn’t. Still, it has enough fun elements to be worth checking out, just don’t expect anything spectacular out of it.

Rating: 3/5

FILM REVIEW: ALIEN COVENANT

By Nick Durham

WARNING: THIS ARTICLE IS FULL OF SPOILERS. IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE FILM YET, DO NOT READ ANY FURTHER.

Ridley Scott’s follow up to 2012’s mostly maligned Alien prequel Prometheus has finally been unleashed in the form of Alien: Covenant, and goddamn it I finally got around to seeing it. Before I get to my thoughts on the film, I just want to express that it feels good to finally see the Xenomorphs back on the big screen slaughtering people after 20 years since the last real installment of the franchise (no, I don’t count the Alien VS Predator abortions), so no matter how the film would end up turning out, at least I had that little nugget to tide myself over with. With that in mind, let’s dive right in and see if Ridley Scott made a gem of a film here, or if he pissed all over his own legacy, which I was very fearful of him doing in the past.

Alien: Covenant picks up about a decade or so after Prometheus ended with a ship called Covenant that features a terraforming crew and colonists aboard. We’re introduced to a synthetic named Walter (Michael Fassbender with an American accent), and after a tragic accident befalls the ship, we’re introduced to the surviving crew, including Daniels (Katherine Waterston), pilot Tennessee (Danny McBride), religious acting captain Christopher (Billy Crudup), and more. On their way to a habitable planet to begin new lives, the crew comes to realize that there is a never-before known planet in closer proximity that appears to be able to sustain human life. Upon investigating it they find unhinged synthetic David (Fassbender again), the only survivor of the Prometheus. As Daniels and co. begin to discover what horrific secrets lay in wait in this world, they also discover that David has been quite busy with some experiments; namely creating the Xenomorphs.

That revelation in itself is probably what my own personal biggest problem is with Alien: Covenant. The fact that the Xenomorphs aren’t an evolutionary step of a parasitic alien being, but rather are a race of creatures that through trial and error are engineered by David. If you’ve heard of people complaining that this is how Ridley Scott messes with the lore of the series, this is what they’re mainly talking about. This revelation raises so many questions about what we’ve been led to believe that it’s honestly kind of hard to digest. It’s something that I myself have wavered with trying not to make a big deal about, but part of me wants to shit all over this movie just because of that alone. Looking back on it, I honestly try not to think too much about this revelation, and instead focus on the rest of the film, which is actually pretty good.

First and foremost, Alien: Covenant is much more enjoyable than Prometheus was. The characters here are written better, even if a few of them suffer from the syndrome of being really smart yet do some really stupid things that lead to their gory deaths. And speaking of which, there are some balls-to-the-wall gore-drenched moments that will make any fan of the franchise stand up and cheer. The Xenomorphs, what little we see of them, are brilliant looking; even when CGI effects take over for them. The other creature effects are pretty good too, and are designed well enough that it would probably make H.R. Giger proud.

From a technical standpoint, Alien: Covenant is gorgeously shot, as it should be since this is a Ridley Scott film. Even with his worst directorial efforts, Scott’s films are sights to behold, and this film is no different. There’s a great deal of suspense and tension and dread permeating throughout the film, which is a massive plus and evokes the original film in terms of this as well. The acting is pretty good as well, and Fassbender is absolutely fucking dynamite in his dual role. The only saving grace for David being responsible for the creation of the Xenomorphs is that this practically guarantees Fassbender will be around for a while, and I’m very, very okay with that. Katherine Waterston is good as well as the heroic Daniels, although the Ripley-esque haircut is a little much. Danny McBride does pretty well being cast against type as our cowboy-hat wearing pilot, and the rest of the cast is alright as well. The ending stinger though you will see coming a mile away, which is fairly disappointing, meaning the whole film kind of ends on a bit of a whimper.

In closing, Alien: Covenant is a better film than Prometheus, and probably the best Alien film in the franchise since Aliens. Granted that isn’t saying too much when compared to Alien 3 and Alien: Resurrection, but you get the point. If for some reason you haven’t seen the film yet and continued to read this after the spoiler warning, I still recommend seeing it to form your own opinion, and judge for yourself if Ridley Scott redeemed himself for Prometheus or continued to piss on his own legacy. Either way, it looks like we’re getting more films in the series one way or another, so maybe the best (or the worst) is yet to come.

Rating: 3.5/5

VIDEO GAME REVIEW: SLAIN: BACK FROM HELL

By Nick Durham

Do you like metal? Do you like gothic-themed gorefests? Do you like being frustrated to the point where you will throw your controller against the wall and literally shit your pants in defiance of the fucking difficult atrocity before you? If you answered yes to any of the above, than Slain: Back From Hell is the game for you. A 2-D side-scrolling romp where you take down hordes of monsters and undead, Slain: Back From Hell has an interesting history behind it. Originally released simply as Slain!, the game was hideously buggy and lackluster to say it lightly. Developer Wolf Brew Games ended up pulling the downloadable game away, and the whole thing was overhauled and relaunched as what you see before you. Did any of the so-called improvements end up making any kind of difference? Well yes they did, but not nearly enough in some of the departments where the game really needed them.

Slain: Back From Hell puts you in the shoes of Bathoryn, a sword-wielding warrior. Your mission is to take down waves of monstrous beasts and some fairly massive bosses here and there as well. There’s some magic elements as well in addition to the sword slashing combat, as well as some typical platforming elements as well, akin to classic Castlevania games of yesterday. There’s basically nothing featured here you haven’t seen plenty of times before in games like this, but holy shit at least it looks very, very pretty. There’s some really neat graphical effects here done with the game’s pixel art, and it’s quite the sight to behold. I should also mention that the game’s metal-tinged music is worth the price of admission here alone. Composed by former Celtic Frost bassist Curt Victor Bryant, this music is fucking phenomenal. 

The biggest drawback of Slain: Back From Hell is that the game is unforgivably difficult. Like seriously, this game is so fucking hard it’ll drive you mad. Now normally I don’t mind hard retro-themed games like this because I’m a professional and grew up on this kind of shit, but Slain: Back From Hell is just plain fucking unfair. There’s so many cheap deaths and the game’s checkpoint system is practically a joke. Not to mention the fact that the game’s combat controls feel like there should have been more in terms of dodging enemy attacks and the like. The unrefined controls combined with the unfair difficulty really make this game much more of a chore than it has to be, and that is a damn shame considering the rest of the package is so close to being flat out brilliance.

All in all, Slain: Back From Hell is a disappointing horror-themed side scroller that looks great and features a beautiful metal soundtrack. It’s worth checking out if you can download it at a good price, just go into it expecting an infuriating experience that will probably leave you broken inside, and with a broken controller. It’s available on the Playstation 4 (which is the version I’ve played), Xbox One, PC, and now the Playstation Vita as well, though I’ve heard that version of the game features an extremely choppy frame-rate and a few other glitches to boot. My advice is to stick with either console version or the PC version instead.

Rating: 3/5

BLU-RAY REVIEW: BRAIN DAMAGE

By Nick Durham

Frank Henenlotter has been one of my favorite directors seemingly forever now, and as much as I love his schlock classics Basket Case and FrankenhookerBrain Damage has always had a very special place in my heart. A gory allegory of drug addiction that was notoriously edited upon its original 1988 release, the film managed to gain a small following throughout the years, eventually leading to a fully uncut release and finding a new generation of fans. Arrow Video has given the film the long awaited Blu-ray treatment, and it’s certainly a sight to behold to say the least.

The story of Brain Damage revolves around Brian (Rick Herbst) who becomes the newest host for a brain eating parasite named Elmer (or Aylmer, voiced by the recently departed TV horror host John Zacherle). Elmer injects Brian with an LSD-esque fluid that brings him massive amounts of euphoria, while in return Brian supplies Elmer with a steady stream of victims. This causes Brian to become withdrawn from his girlfriend and brother in the process, and eventually leads to some horrific and disastrous results for everyone involved. 

While Brain Damage‘s allegorical themes are easy to point out, the film offers its fair share of over the top comedic moments as well. Combined with some wonderful practical effects work and some really, really gnarly gore scenes, Brain Damage is an absolute blast. Two of the film’s most infamous scenes: the blowjob surprise and the brain-pulling scene, remain hilariously horrific and startlingly iconic to this day. The acting itself, outside of Rick Herbst as Rick and the wonderful John Zacherle as Elmer, is fairly pedestrian to be honest, but you’re not watching a Frank Henenlotter movie for the acting, so this isn’t too big a deal. That being said, there’s a surprising moment of poignancy in the film, namely when Brian realizes what he’s gotten himself into and attempts to “quit” Elmer cold turkey in a run down motel room as Elmer looks on, awaiting Brian to come crawling back when he can’t take the withdrawal any longer. As someone who has had their own addiction issues, I can say that this scene strikes a chord with me, and I honestly think this may be the most well-acted scene that Frank Henenlotter has ever crafted in his whole career. Were it not for Elmer sitting on a sink taunting Brian, you wouldn’t know this scene took place in a horror splatter film.

Arrow Video’s Blu-ray release of Brain Damage improves on Synapse Films’ out of print DVD release from 2007, featuring a pretty good transfer. There’s a brand new commentary track from Henenlotter, as well as a new documentary on the film featuring a slew of interviews with Rick Herbst and various members of the film’s production. There’s a featurette starring FX artist and Elmer creator Gabe Bartalos, as well as other features detailing the film’s gory visual effects. There’s even more included here, including revisiting the film’s shooting locations, an interview with superfan Adam Skinner, a recorded Q&A session from 2016, and an animated short that includes John Zacharle’s final performance. There’s an assortment of even more features packed into this set as well; all of which makes this an absolute must own.

All in all, Arrow Video’s Blu-ray release of Brain Damage is a must have. Like many of their best releases, this is of course a limited edition set, so you’d better get your hands on it while you still can. Whether you’re a long time fan of the film or have only heard about it through word of mouth and want to see what the fuss is about, now is your best time to set your sights on this flick.

Rating: 5/5

COMIC REVIEW: CREEPSHOW

By Nick Durham

In 1982, George Romero and Stephen King collaborated on the horror anthology film Creepshow, and the rest as they say, is history. Beloved and revered in the decades since its release, Creepshow is a horror classic that was inspired by both creator’s love for the classic horror comics of the EC days; helping them craft an incredibly entertaining horror film that’s still ever bit as good today as it was in 1982. Around the time of the film’s release, there was a comic book adaptation of King’s screenplay that ended up being just as beloved as the film. Sadly, it’s been out of print for a while…until now.

Creepshow the comic features all five segments of the film in glorious comic form, drawn to horrific life by the late, great Bernie Wrightson (famous for co-creating Swamp Thing and drawing a huge number of horror titles throughout the decades) and featuring a cover drawn by legendary EC Comics illustrator Jack Kamen. The five stories: Father’s Day, The Lonesome Death of Jordy Verrill, Something to Tide You Over, The Crate, and They’re Creeping Up on You are adapted to perfection here. Wrightson’s artwork manages to illicit the horrific chills, thrills, and dark humor of the film, while also managing to perfectly capture the throwback atmosphere of the horror comics of yesterday.

Published by Gallery 13, Creepshow the comic doesn’t seem to feature any restoration done to the artwork itself, which is perfectly fine to be totally honest. These days, modern day reprints of older comics feature some sort of digital restoration, and it’s actually refreshing to see that this is not such the case here. Wrightson’s artwork is just that damn perfect that it doesn’t need any kind of modern touches done to it. The comic is also presented in a deluxe large frame format, which makes the total package be even more perfect.

If you’re a fan of George Romero and Stephen King’s Creepshow, it goes without saying that this comic adaptation deserves to have a spot on your shelf. Much like the film, the comic has aged wonderfully, and it’s a super fun and enjoyable horror ride that you can’t help but love. You need to get your hands on this as soon as you possibly can, you won’t regret it.

Rating: 5/5

HORROR GAME VAULT: ALIEN: RESURRECTION

By Nick Durham

 Alien: Resurrection is the fourth installment in the beloved Alien franchise, and often becomes the subject of debate with fans whether it’s the worst installment of the series. Released in 1997, the film manages to have its share of fans, despite the fact that it’s an awful mess. Alien: Resurrection the video game, released in 2000 after being stuck in video game development hell for three years, more or less follows the formula of the film: it’s an absolute mess, but has its share of fans regardless. 

Like Alien Trilogy before it, Alien: Resurrection is a first person shooter with some minor survival horror elements thrown in. A majority of the game takes place on the USM Augria which is overrun with Xenomorphs, and you play as Ripley once again (albeit a cloned Ripley with some very minor implementations of Xeno-powers). There are times in the gameplay when you’ll get to play as other characters such as Call (Winona Ryder’s character in the film), Christie, or DiStephano; and there’s an assortment of different weapons and equipment at your disposal. You’ll face off against the usual assortment of Xenomorph warriors, as well as facehuggers (that can actually implant you and give you a limited amount of time to find a device to remove the embryo before it births and kills you) and even enemy human soldiers as well. 

While the game’s concepts and gameplay sound good on paper, actually playing it is a mess. Alien: Resurrection looked like shit back in 2000, and it doesn’t look much better these days. 32-bit 3D graphics never tend to age well, and the game looks like a flat out muddy and blocky mess. Despite that though there manages to be some pretty good atmosphere, and the ship’s stages are fairly well designed. It should also be noted that many consider this game to be the first to properly utilize analog sticks for console first person shooters. The left and right sticks are used exclusively for movement, which in the years since has become the standard control scheme for every single console FPS. That alone really helps Alien: Resurrection preserve a legacy on its own, but it doesn’t make it any better of a game in my eyes at least.

What’s really most interesting about Alien: Resurrection is that the game spent practically three years stuck in video game development hell. The game was originally fashioned to be a third-person survival horror game in the realm of the original Resident Evil; featuring multiple playable characters and more standard survival horror-esque gameplay. Originally planned to be released on the Playstation, Sega Saturn, and Nintendo 64; developer Argonaut Games scrapped what they’d been working on after the film was released in theaters, and started over from the ground up, eventually creating this FPS. In October of 2000, the game was finally released on the Playstation to negative reviews and sales, which led to ports on the Sega Dreamcast and PC being cancelled. Despite its negative feedback, the game managed to find an audience and still has fans to this day surprisingly.

All in all, Alien: Resurrection is a disappointing game in the sea of Alien-centric games, though for its control innovations of the time, it deserves some kind of praise. If you’ve never played it before, I suggest playing the previous Alien Trilogy first before diving into this. Despite its flaws though, there’s still some stuff here to admire that makes it worth checking out if you’ve never played it before though, so at least there’s that.

BLU-RAY REVIEW: EXTERMINATOR 2

By Nick Durham

1980’s The Exterminator is a wonderful, low-budget exercise in exploitation/revenge cinema, and deserves to be discovered (or re-discovered) by one and all based on these merits. Its 1984 sequel though…ugh. Produced by the lovable shlock studio Cannon, Exterminator 2 somehow manages to be both awful and incredibly fascinating; mainly because of the production drama that surrounded it. Feeling cheaper in terms of quality and overall design, Exterminator 2 somehow still manages to be enjoyable in spite of itself, even though the whole thing is a total mess. Scream Factory has given the film a Blu-ray release, which goes along nicely to Synape’s Blu-ray release of the original film a few years back.

Exterminator 2 picks up some time after the events of the first film, with our war vet turned vigilante John Eastland (Robert Ginty) still at large dispatching the criminal scum of New York City. This in itself is odd considering his identity was leaked in the first film and he was even targeted by the CIA, but I digress. This time around Eastland has a dancer girlfriend named Caroline (Deborah Geffner) and another old war buddy named Be Gee (Frankie Faison) that drives a garbage truck. Eastland ends up being targeted by a gang led by X (Mario Van Peebles) after Eastland torches his brother, and the following results are pretty damn predictable. By the time it’s all said and done, Eastland is taking down the gang, culminating in a final showdown with X.

Though the film’s central plot is extremely formulaic and definitely predictable, Exterminator 2 ends up being kind of fun. That being said, it can’t hold a candle to the original film in terms of overall quality, so this sequel instead tries to up the ante on the graphic violence. Doing this is what began a whole series of drama behind the scenes during the production of the film, as Exterminator 2 was heavily edited for its violent content. To make matters worse, the film was plagued with re-shoots, re-edits, and even firing the director at one point as well. Star Robert Ginty wasn’t happy with the film, and scenes of Eastland taking down baddies with his flamethrower are performed by Ginty’s stunt double wearing a fire proof mask. The fact this film was cut to shit is very apparent upon viewing it, as it’s a largely uneven mess from beginning to end. Even though the film is fairly entertaining for an 80s exploitation/revenge flick, it flows like utter hell.

Scream Factory managed to give Exterminator 2 a pretty good video transfer and a few special features, chief among them is a commentary track from director Mark Buntzman and actor Mario Van Peebles. It is insightful enough and they even discuss the film’s troubled production. There’s also a handful of TV and radio spots as well, but sadly there’s no deleted/alternate scenes anywhere to be found. This isn’t surprising considering there’s never been a fully uncut version of the film that’s been officially released, but fans of the franchise would have absolutely loved to have something here. Maybe one day down the road we’ll get some kind of ultimate cut of the film, but I’d say there’s probably little to no chance of that ever happening sadly.

All in all, Exterminator 2 is definitely an inferior sequel to a grindhouse favorite, but it does manage to be a fun ride regardless. Scream Factory’s Blu-ray release is worth picking up if you can find it for a good price. If you’ve never seen this sequel but enjoyed the original, don’t go in expecting much here. However if you’ve never seen either film, pick up the first one before you go diving into this.

Rating: 2.5/5