30 August 2014

Five Nights (of pants-shitting terror) At Freddy's!

If you've been following the internet lately there's a new game out that re-defines horror called Five Night's at Freddy's. At first glance the game doesn't look much but after watching some playthroughs with player reactions, holy shit!

So the game hits all the right marks for horror: Animatronic cartoon characters? Check.
Anything having to do with childhood? Check. Taking said childhood warping it with evil making an adult deal with it? Check.
"Arr matey, you be outta costume!"
Plenty of high tension, a sense of dread and fore-boding and lots of "Oh Fuck!" jumpscares that will have you falling out of your chair? CHECK!

The gameplay is simple: You're the night watchmen at a Chucky Cheese-esque kid's party place called Freddy's. Just one thing, the animatronic characters of Freddy's have minds of their own and after dark, they like to wander.On your first night you get a call from the former security officer to give you some on-the-job pointers, below are some quotes of his 'wisdom'.

"There's nothing to worry about, you'll be fine!"

First off when a game begins with that, I know I'm NOT going to be fine. He goes on to recite the legal-ese for Freddy Fazbear's Pizza:

 "...not responsible for damage to property or person. Upon discovery that damage or death have occurred a missing persons report will be filed within 90 days or as soon as the property and premises have been thoroughly cleaned and bleached and the carpets replaced blah blah blah... that might sound bad I know..."

Whoa whoa whoa... wait a goddamn minute... AFTER? Missing persons? Bleached? Replaced? Um... yes that sounds bad!
"Really, there's nothing to worry about!"

Now I'm starting to get worried. 
He pauses before continuing on: 

"Uh the animatronic characters here do tend to get a bit quirky at night... They do tend to wander a bit... They used to be able to walk around during the day until the Bite of '87... "
Ok now I'm really worried and something is SERIOUSLY wrong.
So the warm and fuzzy kid-friendly creatures during the day will try and stuff you into an animatronic suit after dark since being out of costume is strictly forbidden and Freddy Fazbear's! With that you have to monitor your cameras constantly as well as check your doors to make sure none snuck past your blindspot... which they inevitably will and well...

Your job security is that if you live through the night
we'll be back tomorrow night and the next...
and the rest of your fucking week!

For an indie point and click game this one does the job with plenty of jumpscares to haunt your dreams for days! Markiplier called this game the "scariest in years" and watching  his reaction videos are testament to this. Check it out on Steam!

Many thanks go to Markiplier for guinea-pigging himself and enduring overtime at Freddy's for our amusement and horror!

27 August 2014

Zombies Are People Too in S.G. Browne's Breather's: A Zombies Lament

Being a zombie isn't all that it's cracked up to be.
If you've never had to spend what would have been your afterlife sitting in your parents' basement drinking bottles of their expensive wine collection out of boredom hoping there's a M*A*S*H marathon playing on the Hallmark channel and praying your parents don't sell you to medical cadaver research for finding out how much all that wine you drank is worth, then you just wouldn't understand.
These are not your daddy's flesh eating zombies. These aren’t even the running zombies that have garnered attention lately. Zombies are people too, in fact they despise the Zed word. Corpses were people but once they opened their eyes again, they were people once more. The misunderstood returners in SG Browne's Breathers are people as real as you and I, except they've died and are attempting to literally return to some semblance of life. Of course if you've never been threatened with a gas can and a pack of matches by drunken asshole frat boys looking for a jolly on a Saturday night then you just wouldn't understand.
Being undead is not All You Can Eat human buffets and staggering about. They attend a group called  Undead Anonymous trying to cope with their day-to-day struggles remembering how to live in a world where they are no longer welcome. Group therapy is great for the living but it doesn't offer one of the undead any solace, especially when they're treated worse than stray wild animals. Of course if you've never been denied your old social security number or locked in a dog kennel because your heart doesn't beat anymore you just wouldn’t understand.
Andy Warner is one of the poor lost souls. After falling asleep at the wheel claims his life, he awakens just before his funeral as if nothing happened wondering why his left arm won't work and why people are mooning him, throwing rotten fruit and making obscene comments like “Go back to the grave, you fuckin freak”. Worse yet, the mortician has sewn poor Andy's mouth shut making communication even more difficult.
His friends are a beautiful suicide named Rita, who will wear less clothing to show more stitches on a good day depending on her mood; Jerry who loves regaling everyone his story about how a half dozen bong hits, a fifth of Jack Daniels, no seatbelt and a utility pole took the life of him and his 1974 Dodge charger and then promptly ask if you want to touch his exposed brain; and Ray who has an impressive collection of old Playboys and a to-die-for jerky he makes himself called Ray's Resplendent Rapture.
When Ray's Resplendent Rapture turns out to be something other than venison, the afterlife gets even more complicated for Andy. Like any obstacle though, drastic times call for drastic measures. Of course if you've never woken up passed out on the kitchen floor with your parents dismembered in small bags in the freezer you you just wouldn't understand.
Breathers was an awesome story, for once zombies aren't just rotting shambling masses but people you feel sympathy for anytime someone hurls a latte at them. For once the zombies are not the antagonists but the victims and the trials they face trying to live again are almost worse the second time around thanks to us Breathers. There is one man who understands the trials, author Scott G Browne. Our staff journalist caught up him to share some recipes and insights into the undead with us. Read on after the break and this word from our sponsor:

Beer and Breathers with S.G. Browne!`

Single Bullet Theory: Would you call them 'zombies' even though all they really want is to return to some semblance of a former life?
S. G Browne: Zombie means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. A corpse revived by witchcraft. A flesh-eating monster. An automaton. And one definition of a zombie is: “The body of a dead person given the semblance of life.” But for the sake of argument, a zombie is widely considered to be a reanimated corpse. So yes, I would call them zombies. They’re reanimated corpses, just not the ones Hollywood has crammed down our throats for the past forty years.

SBT:  Is calling the returners "zombies" something us Breathers did being stereotypical racists/xenophobes afraid of anything outside of the "norm"?
S.G.: Exactly. Whenever I tell people that zombies are people, too, some of them respond that zombies “were” people, too. That’s such a Breather thing to say. You wouldn’t feel that way if you were the zombie, now would you?"

 SBT: No I suppose I wouldn't especially if all I wanted was to see my family again. In my case it would be par for course to spend my postmortem existence reliving adolescence as a misunderstood animal...

Why is that Breathers (not just the Frat boys) seem to have this adolescent fear of the returners so much so that they feel the need to like to treat them like someone wearing a fur coat and eating a cheeseburger at a PETA rally?

S.G.: Well, the novel is making social commentary on racism and discrimination, so the zombies are taking the place of groups that have been subjected to acts of fear and hate throughout history, especially in this country. So to me it makes sense that Breathers would react this way to a “lesser” class of humans.

SBT: That makes sense considering these aren't "zombies", though methinks anyone who met Ray might dispute that. I suppose there are exceptions to every rule... even in this case. But unlike say 'Jack' and Marla in Fight Club you actually feel sorry for Rita and Andy. Or should we save that pity for the next narrow-minded breather that hurls his Triple Steak burrito from Taco Bell at one of us? 

S.G.: No pity for narrow-minded Breathers. Especially those who eat at Taco Bell.

SBT: You seem to 'understand' these returners quite well, is there something we can learn from you to better understand ourselves in revenant form?
S.G: I don’t know if I’m exactly a Lorax for zombies, but I did write the story from the perspective of a reanimated corpse to see if I could make him and his friends empathetic creatures. I liked the idea of casting the zombies as the heroes and the humans as the monsters. When you write something from the point-of-view of “the other,” it allows you to discover some things about human nature, and perhaps about yourself, that you might not have otherwise explored.

SBT: Are you prepared for z-day supposing they're not friendly like your book?
S.G.: There was this meme going around on Facebook where you were supposed to look at your list of friends on your profile page and the first five friends would be the ones you would have with you in the event of a zombie apocalypse. For some reason, people were happy to have me on that list, until I reminded them that I write stories about zombie rights. But if the zombie apocalypse were to actually happen and they were more like the Romero zombies, my guess is I’d be in trouble. However, I do have a Camelbak, a pair of comfortable running shoes, a bunch of Cliff bars, and my 27” Louisville Slugger from when I was five-years old. So I’m not completely unprepared.

SBT: I'd be flattered but then again I wouldn't want to be placed in a John Connor-apocalyptic-future-war-leader role myself. Maybe they figured you were the Zombie Whisperer?

S.G.: Let’s just say I’m not planning on testing out any abilities to communicate with the living dead. Whispering in a zombie’s ear is a good way to get your face bitten off.

SBT:  In Breathers, the main character Andy is quite the sommelier,  are you a wine connoisseur yourself?
S.G.: I’m more of a beer connoisseur, so I had to do some research on different types of wine that Andy might consume as he’s drinking his way through his parents’ wine collection. I wanted to make it fun and not have him drinking bottle after bottle of Two Buck Chuck.

SBT: We know what kind of wine goes well with Breather but how about beer? You should come up with a Breather cookbook complete with beer pairings, that would be awesome. 
S.G.: I think it depends on the type of Breather you’re serving. Caucasian Breather varies, though it pairs up well with something light, like a Stella or even a Beck’s. For Mexican Breather you could go with either a Corona or a Negro Modela. And Asian Breather goes best with a Tsingtao or Sapporo, depending on whether you’re eating Chinese or Japanese.

SBT: What kind of beer do you like? Light? Dark? I've recently discovered I really like Kirin Ichiban.
S.G.: I’m a fan of stouts, ambers, and pale ales. Specifically I love Boddingtons, Belhaven, and Guinness, which is like a meal in a glass.

SBT: Do you have any good breather recipes you can share? I've got a wonderful recipe for Loco Moco you've got to try...

 (For my recipe I highly recommend toasting the rice and not doing it in a rice cooker and chopping crimini mushrooms into the gravy  (substitute 1 lb ground Breather for grass-fed beef or buffalo if you're lacking)
S.G. I don’t think I could possibly top a recipe for Loco Moco, but as far as I’m concerned you can never go wrong with chicken fried Breather and mashed potatoes smothered with country gravy.
SBT: Is it necrophilia if you're both dead? or would that classify it as sex? 
S.G.: I’ve had this discussion before and the consensus is “no.” In order for it to be necrophilia, one of you has to be alive. So yes, it would simply be zombie sex.

SBT: Your short story 'Zombie Gigolo' earned you the Gummy Haggis prize in the Gross out Contest in the 2008 World Horror Convention, which was hilariously disgusting, did Breathers evolve from this story?
S.G.: Actually it’s the other way around. I’d sold Breathers to Random House just a couple of months before the 2008 World Horror Convention and I was trying to come up with an idea for the Gross-Out Contest, which I’d never entered before. So I decided to take some of the more visceral aspects from Breathers, specifically how the human body decomposes, ratchet those aspects up a few notches, and add some maggot-infested sex. However, Breathers did evolve from another story I wrote in 2001 called “A Zombie’s Lament.” Both that story and “Zombie Gigolo” will be available in a short-story collection I’ll be releasing as an eBook sometime later this year. Yes, that’s a shameless plug.

SBT: Interesting I wasn't aware I had my chronology backwards. Oh that's ratcheted up alright, definitely satisfied any morbid curiosity I might have ever wondered about zombie reproduction... maybe aside from that scene in Dead Alive with the dead priest and the dead nurse... did you ever see that one?

S.G.: Yes, I did see Dead Alive. Probably one of the most disgustingly amusing movies I’ve ever seen. Though Slither gets my nod for favorite disgusting comedy. And it’s even a little bit zombie.

SBT: Do you have a favorite zombie movie?
S.G.: Going with your classic zombie film, and not one where the zombie-ness is frequently debated (Evil Dead, Slither), I’d have to go with the original Night of the Living Dead. Though I admit I loved the 2004 Dawn of the Dead remake.

SBT: What can you tell me about your book Fated?
S.G. Fated is a dark comedy and social satire told from the POV of Fate that pokes fun at religion, the consumer culture, and the bad choices humans make. It’s also a bit reminiscent of Greek mythology, but instead of gods like Zeus, Hera, Apollo, and Aphrodite, the characters in Fated are immortal personifications of abstract concepts like Death, Karma, Destiny, Lady Luck, Sloth, Gluttony, and the rest of the Deadly Sins. And instead of living on Mount Olympus, they live in Manhattan.

SBT: Fated sounds awesome. Donald Trump wouldn't happen to be the embodiment of the concept of Greed by chance would he? Always had a sneaking suspicion about that man... and his 'hair'.

S.G.: No. The Donald was not the inspiration for Greed, who actually only appears by name in the novel. Sloth and Gluttony are the two Deadly Sins who get most of the face time. They hang out with Fate a lot.

SBT:  Thank you again "Dr." Browne... we'll talk again soon about over beers about Fated! Cheers!

Check out Scott Browne's website: http://sgbrowne.com/

13 August 2014

Summer of Fear: Terror From the Depths - The Shark (Part I)

"It was the Law of the Sea, they said. Civilization ends at the waterline. Beyond that, we all enter the food chain, and not always right at the top."
-Hunter S. Thompson 

You know, to most people nothing says 'summer' quite like a day at the beach. To horror fans, 'day at the beach' usually translates into 'get attacked and eaten by a big fucking shark' thanks to the Jaws movies and the genre it birthed. Sure sharks have always fascinated and terrified us and not always in that order.

Freud might have a few words
about how this shark looks and
killing a woman shortly after sex
I grew up right on the water and so naturally that meant I spent a fair deal of time in it. I did so fearlessly until Jaws basically.  It was only then that I learned to fear what may have been lurking in the depths. Or just behind me as I jumped off the Dash Point dock (hey I was too young to know that sharks preferred warm water... only later to further learn that some sharks DID inhabit the deeper parts of the same body of water). This was thanks in part to the original Peter Benchley novel that I spied on my Aunt Melinda's bookshelf. The first chapter was pure nightmare fuel from the deep reading the graphic demise of poor Christie Watkins on that fateful summer night.

Sometime later (before one I was actually allowed to see the movies), one day I happened to wander into the playroom where some of the older kids were watching Jaws 2 with my older sister just as  poor Marge died tragically.

 This one stuck with me for some time to come. Seeing it 'for real' gave me even more nightmares. The worst that my bed was floating in the ocean like a raft and I had fallen into the water and like in the movie "couldn't get up" into the bed. The scariest was the sudden pan-away to zoom shot of the shark swimming up from the depths like a fanged torpedo toward my flailing body.

So with that, here's the first installment of a new series of my favorite selections about everybody's favorite finned swimming terror in a new series I'm calling: Terror From the Depths

First up, the obvious choice: Jaws for being the progenitor of the deep water terror. Every movie with a shark as the antagonist owes some credit to Bruce (Spielbergs name for the seldom functioning mechanical shark). Jaws has been adapted into books, comics, video games and even had a ride at Universal Studios up until recently (Pardon me as I choke back tears on that one). The theme has been spoofed time and time again and is about as famously known as Santa Claus and James Bond.

Yup, no doubts about it
That kid got fucking ate
I hope my boater's insurance will cover this

I picked up a comic adaptation of Jaws 2 at my first ever comic book convention in the early 90's, while not as scary as the Benchley novel, it was well done for a 70's Marvel comic. Though there aren't many Jaws comic books to compare against, there was a Japanese  gekiga comic I saw and missed once. They did it a bit differently and a bit better than we did but talk about the one that got away!
'Do Not Insert Hand Here', I warned him...
(You ever notice a trend in sharks going up to the left here?)
 Next up on the list is Deep Blue Sea, the first shark movie I remember eagerly anticipating in the post-Jaws era. The chumfest starred Thomas Jane, Michael Rapaport, LL Cool J, Stellan Skarsgård and Samuel L Jackson... briefly
*SPOILER* Didn't you see the Chappelle's show sketch? *END SPOILER*

 This movie was the first instance of 'smart sharks' which has me intrigued at it's mere mention.
The plot is quite simple as a team of scientists fuck with sharks and the sharks end up fucking with the scientists as Rapaport's character summarizes the plot for us in his dialogue. These sharks have been genetically engineered to have a larger brain mass so their tissues can be harvested as an Alzehimer's treatment. Except as you can see in the picture above it all goes to hell and the sharks orchestrate the biggest prison break since Clint Eastwood in Escape From Alcatraz. In the end all the sharks are disposed of in all the same fashions as in the Jaws sharks, ho-hum. Though first time around they do make it interesting. LL Cool J does make for some comic relief in the film as the drinking-turned-religious-cook and offers a decent song to the soundtrack:

 Next up is Steve Alten's Meg series. Most everyone knows about the Carcharodon carcharias (Great White), but fewer people know of it's larger nastier prehistoric cousin Carcharodon megalodon.
Yes kids, that's the King of the Lizards being eaten by a shark
Suddenly swimming with Jaws
seems like swimming with dolphins
on a trip to Sea Worl-... oh wait...
  Jonas Taylor was the United States Navy's most experienced deep sea diver working in the Marianas Trench when he suffered a serious accident that cost him his crew and his career. Everyone thought he was crazy babbling on about a giant shark lurking in the depths but everyone attributed it to severe oxygen deprivation. Unfortunately he's right and a large pregnant female Megalodon ascends from the depths and rampages across the Pacific rim stopping to terrorize the Hawaiian, California, Oregon and Washington coasts. The series continues on in The Trench (where I started) and Meg: Primal Waters, Hell's Aquarium, Night Stalkers and Origins. 

I thought the mother shark in Jaws 3-D was horrifying, the Meg makes Mama Bruce look like a sushi roll in contrast. I mean the original cover art for Meg shows the shark eating a Tyrannosaurus Rex for a snack. The series was supposed to be made into a movie at one point but fell into developmental hell and went the same unfortunate route as Duke Nukem Forever, Aliens: Colonial Marines or a decent American Godzilla movie (all examples have since been made, so maybe there is hope yet).

Discovery channel even joined in the Megalodon craze trying to pass of their attempt at a Corman SyFy picture with a faked docu-drama about a mythical shark of sorts named 'Submarine'... yep... not making this up... I'll get to the big fucking shark mythology more in a bit.
"Mein Führer!  Großes verdammtes haifisch!"
(Translation: My Führer! Big fucking shark!)

Next up in the list isn't even a shark movie at all but an Orca in the 1977 film entitled...
Orca: The Killer Whale
... catchy title huh?

When a fisherman named Nolan kills a pregnant Orca, he leaves her mate swearing revenge on the fisherman. The Orca begins a vicious vendetta against him attacking his boat, his crew, even his entire fishing village and even goes so far as to bite the leg off his wife (that scene fucked with my head since Shamu and Free Willy never showed the Killer side to these whales). I never saw one marine mammals capable of such destruction or sentience to pinpoint anything related to this one guy. So Nolan goes Moby Dick and sets out to the frozen ends of the ocean to track and kill the animal. This was one of the first of many Jaws knockoffs to come down the pike, and in my own opinion one of the better ones.
Shamu sez: "Let's play 'Penguin', you go first!"

So that's it for this edition of Terror From the Depth, next up more sharks, more teeth and more blood in the water! 


So according to my notes I haven't written here in a bit. Here's something of an explanation and some new content as an apology. The death of Robin Williams is kinda lighting a fire to do more with my creativity and doing what I love. I'm also getting an early start on the holidays (and no that doesn't mean Christmas shopping, by that I mean getting fleshed into gear for the Wicked Season again and early for once.

So without any more further ado, here's the catchup of the last few months! 

Impression of what looking for updates
on here looks like to my readers

8 months... wow. I'm really sorry everyone. What started off as a bit of a depressing year for me has finally turned itself around. I ended last year feeling a bit crushed but eager to move forward with the latest transformation in my life... and it transformed alright... big time... in all  honesty it's left me feeling a lot like Bruce Campbell in the end of Evil Dead II, grey hair and all.
That's no special effects, that's his actual hair
The shoot was so traumatic it left him grey for a while
Now that I've had time to process all of the events of the last few months I'm able to finally go into some highlights! Right at the end of the year I started talking to a woman I'd been loosely acquainted with, now we've been together about 6 months and it's awesome. Our first date? Green Jellö here when they came to Seattle. She wanted to hear their infamous classic take on the 3 Little Pigs:

I wanted to hear Carnage Rules from the Maximum Carnage game from my Super Nintendo days:

I walked right up to Dustin, the guitarist and asked, "Hey, does Carnage still rule?"
He looked at me blankly, "The line goes, Listen all you fools, don't you know that Carnage rules?"
I respond, "Oh I know the line, I'm asking a question," with a vicious grin
He looks back at me knowingly and lifts a sheet of paper, covering all but one line and says "I dunno, you tell me..."
There it was, "Thank you!"
My night was made!
After the show was done we got to chat for a second with Bill Manspeaker
Green Jellö - down with the man!

 he even signed my Venom shirt and Green Jellö'd it for me!

Not a bad first date! Second date was even better... since it was even more long-awaited... (that actually is deserving of it's own article though I'll touch on it briefly here)
For years I'd awaited the return of my King and God. This year was his second coming: Godzilla returned and with a vengeance! Ever since the shadowy smokey outlined teaser photo I'd been chomping at the bit to see Big G back again. After a day of excessive stress and ridiculous amounts of running around the lady and I managed to escape with enough time to enjoy a sushi dinner before retiring to the theater to catch the first early screening of Godzilla in IMAX 3D (a first for me, as the last movie I'd seen in IMAX has been at the Pacific Science Center about penguins and the last 3D movie was It Came From Outer Space on a double bill with The Creature From the Black Lagoon at the Pantages in Tacoma when I was a kid).
Having the THX - The audience is now listening audio calibration for the theater be Godzialla's roar was something specatcular. It reminded me of the old Maxell commercials with the guys hair flapping in the breeze.

Except it wasn't Wagner... oh no... ho ho ho... it was this blessed sound:

If I wasn't ready for the movie before, I sure as shit was now!!
So in short, things with my lady have been awesome. But with her came extra responsibilities, two of them, aged 11 and 16. Having one of my own, I had never really considered more but gladly took them on... and man are they cool!

So, like any 11-year old, when I met this one, he was sat in front of the TV with a controller firmly in hand. However, what was on-screen immediately caught my attention:
He was making like a one-man threshing machine through a horde of zombies not unlike this one, I sat down intrigued.
"Whatcha playing?"
"Black Ops Zombies," came the monotonic answer
"Do they ever stop?"
"Can you win?"
"Nope, they just keep coming,"
Silence for a few minutes before he's overwhelmed and he is defeated.
"You want to try?"
A kid asking Me if I wanted to play videogames, and one involving zombies. I knew already I was gonna like this guy.
"Yes, yes I do want to play!" suffice to say I sucked the first few times I played, hell only after a few months do I actually have the hang of it and I blame him for my Call of Duty addiction now, especially Zombies. But suffice to say when I'm not actively achievement hunting, shooting zombies is a favorite pasttime.
So the quick backstory on Zombies is as follows:
In Call of Duty: World at War there was an extra game mode called Nazi Zombies that had you stuck in a German bunker deep behind enemy lines with hordes of the undead Third Reich trying to break in, the level was called Nacht der Untoten (Night of the Undead in German) and featured WWII era weapons and no dialogue from the characters. More map packs would become available by way of DLC, but it wasn't until these were released that there became an actual story to the side-game (which, again, is going to be coming up in another post).

Some DLC even features some VERY familiar faces, and my favorite level of the game... how does trying to take out a zombified George Romero sound? The game is terrifying and definitely helping re-hone those twitch responses... nothing like having a horde go from shambling to full on cheetah sprinting at you! But thanks to junior I can play videogames again... hell I partially justified picking up the rest of the CoD series since i knew he'd get in on this soon enough too!

The 16-year old is a blast too, she gets on so well with my 4-year old as a big sister. The other night she came over out of boredom and we ended up watching Beetlejuice. I got to deliver a running commentary on the SFX, the origins of the PG-13 rating, and why this movie probably wouldn't be good for her to try to show at the daycare for kids (I could just see angry phone calls over the nightmares it might cause or if a parent were around in time for the "NICE FUCKING MODEL!" classic line).

NSFWWK (Not Safe For Working With Kids)
She also mentioned how much she loved Tim Burton movies, especially Winona Ryder in Beetlejuice and Fairuza Balk in The Craft. There was also a great discussion about how Candyman freaked her out (the 3x repetition of Beetlejuice brought it up) and how the original Bloody Mary story did too which lead to conversation about the Alvin Schwartz Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark books, ironically.
"You mean I could've been secretly a goth this whole time??
Bring on the Bauhaus!"

I never figured this 16-year old gymnast could secretly be a horror movie lover too, who knew! I love my adopted horror family, and with the Season coming up... I really can't wait!