Author Archive

State of Decay: Video Game Review

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“State of Decay” is Undead Lab’s foray into the zombie horror genre.  I had started playing this game several weeks after it came out, so I was not exposed to the many bugs that plagued the game on release. But that’s not important.  What you want to know is whether or not this game is worth playing, and the short answer is yes.

The game starts with you at a campground with your friend being swarmed by zombies.  After you “break their fucking skulls” (a phrase you will hear often throughout the game), you make your way to a nearby ranger station to see if you can find some help.  Don’t expect to stay too long.  The game has you do some very simple missions that serve as a tutorial and once you’re finished, you’ll quickly find yourself escaping the campgrounds and making your way to a nearby church where other survivors holed up.  From here, the zombie-infested Trumbull County is pretty much open to exploration, scavenging, and zombie slaying.  Continue reading

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“Prometheus” is not “Alien,” or “Aliens” or… You Get The Point?

I don’t often care for prequels.  These days, most Hollywood productions are all flash and no substance, so I was reluctant to see if they’d butcher yet another beloved franchise.

I’m relieved to say that Prometheus, while not perfect, is a surprisingly entertaining film that manages to tie the story into the Alien universe while setting itself apart as a (hopefully) new franchise.

Archeologists Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshal- Green) discovered clues that predate some of the earliest evidence of a race of humanoids that have come in contact with humans.  Shaw and Holloway believe it to be an invitation to seek out the humanoids and with a little funding from the Weyland Corporation set out on an expedition to find the planet they believe would hold the answers to that one mysterious question; why were we created? When they arrive, they begin an investigation that slowly unravels a dangerous and terrifying reality. Continue reading

Review of “Victim”

I randomly stumbled upon Victim, directed by Matt Escandari and Michael A. Pierce, while sifting through the near endless movie offerings on Netflix.  The consensus of a few user reviews was that this movie was very disturbing and unique. Morbid curiosity got the better of me and I decided to give this a shot.

***Before we go any further, I do want to say that while I tried to keep this spoiler-free, some of you might figure out one of the crucial parts anyway, and I apologize in advance if I spoiled it.

Victim is about a young man who is kidnapped, tortured, and psychologically abused by a crazy surgeon and his silent assistant.  With no clue as to where he is or why this is happening to him, the man’s only distraction comes in the form of a little girl’s diary that he finds in his prison cell.

It starts well enough with some grainy home video footage of a very attractive girl walking in to what seems like an amateur porn audition.  The voice behind the camera is distorted and asks her to have a seat and to close her eyes while he goes to the bathroom to get a “surprise” for her.  Then, predictably, we are treated to fast cuts and close-ups of the girl being raped and murdered.  I thought this scene was pretty well done and the grittiness made it feel like a snuff film.  I expected the rest of the movie to have the same effect, but it doesn’t quite work that way.

After the girl is murdered, the main story begins with a handsome young man (whose name we never learn, so I’ll name him Slick) hanging out at a trendy bar, ordering drinks and working his charm on a cute waitress.  On the other end of the bar we have an ominous person in a black hood, whose face is completely hidden.  The scene lasts all of about 5 minutes before Slick walks out to his car, confronts Hoodie Man, and promptly gets attacked from behind and dragged away.  When he wakes up, he’s in a dirty prison cell in someone’s basement and you know things will not go well for the poor bastard.

As to his captors, you have the run-of-the-mill creepy old surgeon who explains that the pain Slick will need to endure is necessary and that in due time he will understand why this is happening.  Then you have Mr. George, a tall and sturdy man whom you’d feel comfortable having as a bodyguard and who is either mute or just doesn’t believe in talking.  Mr. George delivers the beatings, and Doc Crazy (not his real name) performs the memory-erasing shock therapy and surgeries. Continue reading

StrengthsFinder 2.0: Test Your Might?

During my travels I ended up staying in California at an aunt’s house for a few days.  Much to my surprise, one of my cousins, M, happened to be staying there as well.  During one of our conversations, she brought up a book called StrengthsFinder 2.0.

I had never heard of this book.  Truthfully, I never would have even bothered with it had it not been for M.  She’s a natural charmer, highly energetic and spoke about the book with such fervent passion that I was pretty much helpless.  As the cliché goes, I fell hook, line, and sinker.  Curiosity eventually got the better of me and I decided to check this book out.  M, if you read this, I gotta say, you’d make one hell of a saleswoman!

StrengthsFinder 2.0 was published back in 2007 and written by Tom Rath.  Essentially, the book says that society spends an unhealthy amount of time trying to fix our deficiencies instead of fine-tuning and exploiting our natural abilities or strengths.  It stresses that the “you can be good at anything if you work hard enough” mentality is highly flawed and that we should instead embrace a “you cannot be anything you want to be, but you can be a lot more of who you already are” attitude.  Rath does bring up quite a few good points throughout the short read, but most of the first part of the book is spent explaining the 40+ years research process and how the assessment works, with the second half describing the 34 common strengths that humanity shares and how to best utilize them. Continue reading

Pariah: A Different Approach to Zombie Horror

Pariah, by Bob Fingerman, is an engrossing tale about a group of NYC residents who are trapped within the safety of an apartment complex on the Upper East Side after a zombie outbreak ravages humanity on a global scale. Months have gone by since the initial outbreak and their food and water supply is rapidly dwindling. When it appears that hope is truly lost, the survivors spot a lone teenage girl walking amongst the undead, completely unharmed and seemingly able to repulse them.

Normally when people think of zombies, they think of George Romero, Resident Evil (or at least I do), and the trademark brainsss, blood, guts, and gruesome deaths associated with the genre. Over the years we’ve seen the zombie evolve from a shambling, festering corpse to a fast, almost cunning horror. Keep in mind that whether we see the resilient flesh-eaters or the rabid, murderous “zombie” found in 28 Days Later or The Crazies, one consistency has always been that 9 out of 10 times zombie outbreaks occur from either a toxic chemical or airborne virus that’s part of a very vague top secret military and/or pharmaceutical experiment. The other constant is that the characters in these stories usually serve as nothing more than zombie chow, so it’s very refreshing to read an intelligent, thoughtful narrative where human psychology takes a step forward while typical zombie fare gracefully bows down.

The world of Pariah is truly gripping and the characters themselves are what makes the story so great. It’s very rare to find a book where you feel like you are a part of that world. This book was so engrossing that it took me a mere day to read all 365 pages. I shared in their loss, their apprehension towards each other, and in their futility as they stared out their windows for hours at a time, throwing bricks, papers, or even spitting at the undead below to kill time. For those of you who are worried that the story is pure psych and not enough violence, don’t worry: there is definitely a fair amount of blood and gore. It wouldn’t be zombie lit if a few people didn’t get mauled. Now would it? Continue reading

Resident Evil 5: Desperate Escape DLC

The appropriately titled “Desperate Escape” is the latest downloadable chapter for Resident Evil 5.  Players are given the chance to play as Jill Valentine and Josh Stone, a BSAA agent who helps Chris and Sheva in the main storyline.  From beginning to end players are constantly bombarded by wave after wave of Majini, giving those with an itchy trigger finger plenty of reason to play this chapter several times over.

“Desperate Escape” occurs within the events of RE5.  Shortly after Chris and Sheva free Jill from Wesker’s mind control device, Jill urges them to focus on the mission and take Wesker down.  After Chris and Sheva head out, Jill passes out, waking up moments later to the sound of Josh’s voice.  The two of them partner up and make a daring escape from the Tricell facility. Continue reading

Resident Evil 5: Lost in Nightmares DLC

“Lost in Nightmares” is the newly released DLC (downloadable content) for Resident Evil 5.  As most who have played RE5 will know, this episode is about a memory that Chris Redfield has. He remembers the night that he and his partner, Jill Valentine, encountered their long-time nemesis and former leader, Albert Wesker.

In the main game, we are treated to a flashback where Chris and Jill find Wesker standing over the corpse of Ozwell E. Spencer, one of the founders of Umbrella, the company responsible for the zombie outbreaks in Raccoon City.  The duo gets the crap kicked out of them matrix-style, compliments of Wesker’s superhuman abilities.  He tosses the two of them around like a couple of stuffed pillows, and after a few minutes, Wesker effortlessly grabs Chris by the throat and is moments away from ripping out his heart when Jill makes the ultimate sacrifice by latching onto Wesker and flinging herself out a window, where the two of them presumably fall to their deaths. Continue reading