Saturday, May 30, 2020

The Mcpherson Tape Retrospective

Written by Stu Cooper     

      Have you ever seen footage of something you swore was real? Something that made you question what you were witnessing? Well if you grew up in the late 80's or 90's, you may have seen some kind of “alien” footage. It might have been an abduction, it might have been an autopsy, or it might have been...The McPherson Tape. The McPherson Tape is officially the first ever found footage film. It predates Blair Witch Project by a decade. The film is shrouded in controversy, and full of questions. In fact, it made the viewers question their own reality. Is what you see on the screen real? Part of something bigger? Thanks to an official Blu-ray release from AGFA and Bleeding Skull, we now have answers.

      The McPherson Tape is about a man recording his niece's birthday in 1983, when some bizarre events begin to happen around the family. The recording follows a family made up of 3 brothers, their wives, the niece, and the grandmother. As the recording progresses, we follow what appears to be a normal family home video of a nice dinner, some friendly heckling and gossip, nothing special. That is until the electricity goes out. The brothers go outside to investigate the cause, and that is when they witness a flash of light. The guys immediately travel into the nearby forest to investigate. What they find is something that they can barely alien spacecraft. After witnessing several aliens walking around the craft, the boys scurry back home to alert the family. Unfortunately for them, the aliens caught a glimpse of them and are now in pursuit. What follows is a chaotic one-take shot of the family trying to not only comprehend what is happening, but deal with incoming home invaders! Keep in mind all of this is being recorded by one of the brothers who is trying to deal with the frightening situation by documenting it.

     The film is essentially a 63 minute one-take home video. That means there no edits, no cuts, just a solid documentation of events unfolding over the course of one night. The vibe of the film is very realistic given that it's one shot and almost every conversation is made of improvised talking points. The characters begin talking over each other like a real dinner conversation, and the chemistry between them feels very natural. Since this is a found footage film, you're literally watching something that was recorded on a home video recorder in the 1980's, so the quality is not that of a large feature film but it absolutely works to the advantage of the plot. The alien nightmare that the family is experiencing is intentionally vague and low budget. If you found this on a dusty old VHS tape in someone's attic, you may actually believe this is the real deal. And with that, let's get into the REAL story behind The McPherson Tape.

      The McPherson Tape is a film made by Director and Star Dean Alioto. Alioto claims to have spent years investigating alien abduction experiences from several people in the UFO community, which inspired him to create a film about it. Since Alioto only had a budget of 6500 dollars, his only option was filming the movie on home video. His idea, as far as I know, birthed the found footage genre. Since his budget was so limited, he filmed the movie as if it was a family's home video, which would more than justify the low video quality and lack of star power. He also had no complete script, just an outline of certain beats that the film needed to hit.

     Alioto's approach is something you have to appreciate. Not only did he make a movie for 6500 dollars, but he made a convincing alien abduction found footage film with no script, and only improvised dialogue. I think a lot of it is chocked up to pure luck. The performances from the family members felt real and compassionate. The brothers in the films often riff each other and it feels like a real bond. The Grandmother nurtures the sons and seems genuinely scared and concerned when they venture out. That combined with the creepy birthday party theme and candle lit rooms, establishes a more than unsettling tone. 

     With the family members connecting, that leaves the special effects which are severely limited. This is definitely the less is more approach. The only effects in the film are the space craft and the alien costumes, both of which are shot in a grainy way that covers up the low budget. The craft was actually constructed for 750 dollars, mostly made of foam board and lights. And the alien costumes are the basic big eyed Grays that were established in early UFO culture. If you closely exam any of these effects, they certainly don't hold up, but in 1989 they are more than passable. Enough so that people continue to believe the footage is real, despite the Director making it clear it's just a film.

     With the film created, the director shopped it around and received very little interest. Alioto even met with Vestron video, who was a big schlock distributor at the time, and they said it didn't even qualify as a real film. After relentlessly screening the film for distributors, it eventually found a home. The company that was distributing it even had big plans for the film. The mock up for the VHS case featured tons of quotes from huge media outlets like Rolling Stone and The New York times. Unfortunately the quotes were fake, and an attempt by the distributor to boost the credibility of the film. But before the film could start making the rounds, the distribution warehouse burnt down. During this fire, the master of the film was completely destroyed. Thankfully some copies were already sent out to a few rental places, and the director was able to source the material from those copies.

     At this point in the story, it was radio silence. The film never made it to theaters, it had very limited distribution, no master remaining, and the director thought that was the end of the story. Years later Alioto was approached by a Ufologist who asked if he had seen this supposed real found footage film making the rounds at UFO conferences and conventions. Little did he know, it was his film. Someone had edited off the credits and marketed the film as completely real. Attendees at these events were left speechless, thinking they had discovered hard evidence that aliens exist and that an entire family's turmoil was caught on film. To further the macabre nature of this story, a Lt. Colonel with 30 years of military experience swore that the film was real and the closest thing he had seen to actual UFO found footage.

     With the discovery of his film's now cult following, Alioto channeled his momentum and started connecting with TV networks about airing the footage. 90's landmarks like Unsolved Mysteries and Hard Copy approached him with offers, but all these shows wanted to market the film as completely legitimate home video. Since that wasn't the truth and he didn't want backlash, the film ended up being shown on a show called Encounters. The segment on Encounters was shown with interview clips strung throughout, with various experts weighing in on the film. Even though the show fully admitted the footage was just a movie, experts consistently believed in it's validity. Some would go as far as to claim the footage was a real home movie under the guise of a film to protect people from “knowing the truth”.


The momentum of the project continued to roll on, eventually becoming a TV special with Dick Clark productions and then the film was remade entirely in 1998 under the name Alien Abduction: Incident in Lake County. The remake follows a similar premise, with a few special effects added. I would recommend only watching the original McPherson Tape as it is easier to believe. After the remake, things quieted down again until AGFA, Bleeding Skull, and Vinegar Syndrome decided to revisit the film and release a special blu-ray. This is actually the incarnation of the film that I viewed, which is considered “The Director's Cut”. The blu-ray also features the original “Encounters” segment, a Q and A with the Director, and commentary. It's the perfect release for anyone interested in viewing this piece of cinematic history. There is even a moment during the Q and A where the director begins arguing with an audience member about the conspiracy around the film. The audience members comes up to the stage, and is revealed to be one of the cast members. This was proof to the audience that he was not actually abducted. The two went on to explain to the audience how certain aspects of the movie were created, debunking a lot of myths about the origins of it. 

      So that's it, the story of The McPherson Tape. A film wrapped in controversy, macabre, and wonder. It's a miracle that the film even survived, so if anything just view this film as a marker in time. It's the first found footage film and it will always hold that mantle. Now the real question is, Do you believe the truth is out there? Does Dean Alioto know something we don't? Watch the film and you be the judge. I want to believe.

Checkout the trailer below: 


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Saturday, April 25, 2020

Food Review: The RETURN of the WWE Ice Cream Bar

Written by Stu Cooper


With summer quickly approaching, the brain runs wild with nostalgia. People are reminiscing about old vacations they took, pool parties they attended, or even how good it felt drinking a Mondo Cooler in the sweltering heat. But for myself and many others, summer reminds us of a simpler time. A time when your favorite childhood figures were plastered on the side of an Ice Cream truck. Whether it was a Ninja Turtle face, a Flintstones push pop, or the infamous googly eyed Sonic The Hedgehog; we had some remarkable choices. If you were a wrestling fan growing up, the choice was obvious. The WWF ice cream bar! It is almost legendary in it's popularity, more so than most ice cream I know of. Whoever heard of Ben and Jerry anyways?



The bar first surfaced in 1987, created by the Gold Bond Ice Cream Company. The original bars were essentially ice cream sandwiches on a stick. It would be vanilla ice cream sandwiched between a chocolate layer, and a vanilla wafer layer. On the wafer layer would be the image of a current WWF Superstar! Some of the superstars featured on the bars were Hulk Hogan, Macho Man Randy Savage, Hillbilly Jim, Andre The Giant, The Honky Tonk Man, and the list goes on. There were tons of options for characters. Each bar was individually packaged and came with an exclusive WWF trading card inside the box. I'm not sure if they were sold in bigger boxes in stores at the time, but I imagine the individual packaging was so they could sell the bars at WWF live events.

The bars were HEAVILY featured on WWF television at the time. The audience would often be treated to a superstar ravaging a bar into pieces during a promo, or in some cases the bar was featured in actual on-air segments like Jake The Snake's Snake Pit. Any chance the company got, they plugged these bars which is partially why they probably have such nostalgic value to wrestling fans today.


In 1989 The Gold Bond Ice Cream Company was bought out by Good Humor, who still remains a juggernaut in the ice cream world to this day. Good Humor continued producing the bars into the 90's, keeping the formula for the bar the same. The only things that changed were the packaging which now featured a superstar cut-out on the back, and a little cartoon preview of the trading card inside. It was a fun little keepsake for the fans. Throughout the early to mid 90's they produced such characters as Yokozuna, Lex Luger, Bret Hart, The Undertaker, and Diesel! In my opinion this is where the bars peaked. Not only did they have a fun superstar line-up, but each box sent you home with two souvenirs! The bars continued to be produced into the Attitude Era (1998) and featured characters like Stone Cold, Triple H, and The Rock. This is unfortunately where my memory of them fades.


I don't recall seeing any WWE (formerly WWF) related ice cream after the mid-90's. Apparently Good Humor stuck to their guns and continually released updated rosters on the bars in 2000, 2004, and 2008. 2008 was evidently when the bar officially stopped production. Though I suspect they were regional. The last set featured the likes of John Cena, Carlito, Bobby Lashley, and ironically enough CM Punk. Why is that ironic? Well in 2011 when CM Punk was reaching his pinnacle of popularity, he requested on live television that Vince Mcmahon bring back the WWE Ice Cream bars, and he demanded he be featured on these new bars. Little did we know, he had already had a very limited run at his own bar. From all accounts I could find online, the later in the life of the ice cream the bar was created, the harder it was to find. This would explain why I don't recall seeing most of these despite being a life-long pro wrestling fan.


Now that brings us to present day. The WWE is going through a hard time right now, but one thing they did right was...bring back the ice cream! That's right, it's 2020 and the WWE Ice Cream bar is back! Kind of. I had a lot of trouble tracking these down but once I spotted them, I couldn't resist. But instantly by looking at the packaging you will notice they are not the same fudge ice cream sandwiches of old. These are newly designed. Gone is the stick and now the “bar” is in the shape of a Klondike Bar or small ice cream sandwich. It's a delicious square sandwich with vanilla ice cream wedged between two vanilla wafers!



After years of anticipation, WWE finally delivers a new ice cream bar. But is it any good? Well if you've had one ice cream sandwich, you've had them all. But the gimmick of them being WWE sandwiches makes all the difference. You see, this time around four superstars are featured on the bars. I wish the roster on the bars was more in-depth, but it's a ice cream sandwich so you can't expect too much real estate. The four superstars are John Cena, Roman Reigns, Becky Lynch, and Macho Man Randy Savage. Sadly there are no trading cards to be found, just a cut-out of Roman Reigns. I looked at several boxes and they all featured the same cut-out. So that's all you get! But it is still better than just a plain sandwich. I was honestly the most excited about the bars featuring Becky Lynch and Macho Man Randy Savage. In my opinion the best current performer and the best legendary performer both in the same box! That is exciting stuff!


The price point is $3.99 so you're essentially paying a dollar a sandwich. I would say they are worth trying if you are a wrestling fan, but if you are looking for the bar you grew up on, it is somewhat different. Perhaps these bars will see a fair amount of success and Good Humor will expand the roster. Also in terms of bonuses, With so many WWE apps out now, why not include special codes for in-game superstar trading cards? Just a thought. But for now hang onto the Roman Reigns standee that comes with the box! In the end, if you pick up a box you will get a nice rush of nostalgia and some delicious ice cold carbs. With only 4 stars total, all of which are included in each box, you will see all the stars in one purchase. Don't let that stop you from pursuing your dream of getting a more authentic WWF retro bar though. There are actually petitions and even kickstarters trying to rebirth the original designs. Hopefully Good Humor takes note of this high level of interest and continues to produce this yummy nostalgic treat. OHHHHH WHAT A SUGAR RUSH!

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Tammy and The T-REX Retrospective


Written by Stu Cooper

It's a tale as old as time. The popular high school cheerleader falls in love with the quarterback, they share a small embrace, then the quarterback is mauled to death by a lion and has his brain implanted into a dinosaur. Practically your community theater's take on Romeo and Juliet right? Well this is just a peak into the world of Stewart Raffill's absolutely outrageous masterpiece “Tammy and The T-Rex”.

“Tammy and The T-Rex” is a 1994 direct-to-video horror comedy written and directed by Stewart Raffill, whom you may remember from his prolific work on “Mac & Me”! It was released during a weird post-Jurassic Park boom period. This period involved gems like the DINOSAURS tv show, Carnosaur, Prehystoria, Theodore Rex, etc. America had a huge fascination with Dinosaurs at the time, which birthed many animatronic dinosaur movies. This one however is a diamond in the rough. Or mosquito in the fossilized tree sap might be more appropriate.


The movie stars Denise Richards, Paul Walker, and Terry Kiser. Richards and Walker actually made their big screen debuts in this film, unless you count Richard's minor cameo in “National Lampoon's Loaded Weapon 1”. Then you have Terry Kiser who had received some moderate success in films such as “Weekend At Bernies” and “Friday the 13th Part 7”. With that banger of a cast, what could go wrong? Whoops sorry, I left out the most important and subtle actor in the film...A GIGANTIC ANIMATRONIC TYRANNOSAURUS REX!

The film opens in the beautiful suburbs of California where we see two high school students falling madly in love after leering at each other a few times during some kind of gym class. This is where we meet the film's protagonists Tammy (Richards) and Michael (Walker). The film establishes their relationship by showing Michael give Tammy a flower, then he proceeds to eat the flower to get a cheap laugh. Tammy is eating this guy up and you can actually sense some genuine chemistry when you see the two giggling it up. Unfortunately for Michael he is almost immediately cock blocked by Tammy's 40 year old high school ex-boyfriend Billy, who is not only psychotic, but absolutely unhinged. Michael and psycho Billy engage in what the film refers to as a “testicular standoff” which goes on for a solid 2 minutes.


After escaping the testicular stand off, Michael unfortunately encounters the evil ex-boyfriend once again when he sneaks out to see Tammy and before he gets any action, Billy cuts him off at the pass and chases him down. This chase leads to Michael getting brutally beaten by Billy and his gang, then the film takes a completely random left turn. Billy decides to not just kill Michael, but to kidnap him and drop him off inside of a lion wildlife preserve. Needless to say, this does not end well for Michael. He is mauled by a lion and saved at the last second by a local ranger. With Michael on life support, we meet the film's antagonist Dr. Gunther Wachenstein who is in possession of a gigantic animatronic T-Rex...but he needs a fresh human brain. Since the town is apparently very small and word gets around quickly, the Doctor shows up at the hospital, fakes Michael's death, and steals his brain. And THIS is really where the masterpiece begins.


Tammy is absolutely shattered by the sudden loss of her one day boyfriend and confides in her comedic relief sidekick Byron Black. Byron is very derivative of the character HOLLYWOOD from the 80's gem “Mannequin”. The classic loud guy with loud clothes who is surrounded by redneck cops scared of his sexuality. It's pretty par for the course in cheesy small town cinema. While Tammy is coping, the evil Doctor is hard at work. And by hard at work I mean he is literally carving up Michael's brain and hooking it up to a giant robot T-Rex. To what end? No one is really sure. Global domination may take a while with arms that short, but you gotta start somewhere. After some rather gruesome operation scenes and a monologue from the completely bonkers Dr. Wachenstein, the chaos meter starts to ramp up.


Michael The T-Rex escapes the “medical facility” and begins his revenge rampage. We see the T-Rex mow through lab assistants, bodybuilders, stoners, perverts, and of course Billy's gang! This is where the film really gets to shine because we see the limited budget work it's way around the T-Rex as he is clearly moving around on a dolly and has a human puppeteer the arms and legs of the creature. The comedic timing of the violence combined with the practical effects of the kills is nothing but glorious.

After cleaning house at a high school party, Michael the T-Rex sets his eyes on his love for Tammy. Through heavy breathing phone calls and a game of charades, Michael is able to communicate to Tammy that he is a dinosaur, with her lover's brain inside of him. After this bombshell is dropped, Tammy seems to handle it pretty well. She handles it so well in fact that she decides to break into a morgue and thumb through bodies, comically offering them up to the T-Rex. Unfortunately he finds all of these options unsatisfactory. Even if he did, how would Tammy go about transferring this brain into the T-Rex? That is glossed over pretty quickly as the movie basically shrugs off anything remotely related to science. After some comedic shots of the T-Rex being driven around town in a dump trunk, the police are hot on it's tail! Literally!


In what is probably the film's most iconic scene, we see Tammy riding on the back of Michael The T-Rex as a beautiful sunset cascades behind them. This shot was used for most of the trailers and box-art. It's easily the coolest shot in the film. But the beauty is quickly shut down after Tammy hides Michael in a farmhouse, and the police corner the creature. Before the police have a chance to access the situation, the maniacal Dr. Wachenstein and his sexy assistant decide to have a chat with the T-Rex and try to appeal to his sensibilities. Spoiler alert: It doesn't work. Soon after the final confrontation with the Doc, the cops proceed to gun down the T-Rex and he plops over in a blaze of animatronic immobile glory. In an Academy award winning performance Denise Richards weeps over the lifeless robot body of her lover. It's seemingly all over for Michael...or so we think.


In the film's final moments we are treated to a striptease. It's not just any striptease, but Tammy dancing in lingerie for a camera that is attached to a brain. Not just any brain, it's Michael's brain! The logistics of a camcorder hooked up to a brain aside, this is probably the most sensual scene in the movie. As the credits begin to roll, one can't help but think what now? Does Tammy live her entire life in love with a RCA camcorder brain voiced by Paul Walker? Will she find another animatronic animal for him to inhabit? The sequel possibilities were endless, but sadly unrealized.


“Tammy and The T-Rex” is lightning in a bottle when it comes to B movie schlock. My first exposure to the film was actually on USA's UP ALL NIGHT Hosted by Rhonda Shear. For some reason they showed the now famous “gore cut” of the film and not the family friendly cut that was released on VHS. Vinegar Syndrome released a Blu-ray and 4k release of the film in 2019, which features over 10 minutes of added gore. The original release of the film was a bare bones VHS designed to look like a family film, which it's certainly not. The film itself actually has a pretty fun backstory, as it was mainly created solely because the director had access to a robotic T-Rex on loan from a friend for three weeks. The director decided to write an entire film around it, and so began the birth of this cinematic gem. Oh and that beautiful shot of Tammy riding the T-Rex under a cascading sunset? That was actually a gigantic fire in the hillsides of California. People probably died, but is there a more noble sacrifice than that? I don't think so. Do yourself a favor and track this film down. It was difficult to find for almost a decade, but thanks to Vinegar Syndrome and the Director, it saw a re-release in theaters and home video. It is also currently available on Hulu and Shudder! This is the perfect way to spend 90 minutes. Just tune in, drop out, and enjoy watching a Tyrannosaurus Rex use a payphone.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Monster Mania: The Burbs (1989)

Written by Stu Cooper

What's a person to do when they have a lot of time off? Maybe take up a hobby, travel the world, socialize with friends? Well for one man, this was a complex question. In the 1989 Joe Dante film "The Burbs" we see what happens when you live in a bubble and have too much free time on your hands. Tom Hanks stars as the lead in this amazingly dark and humorous satire of suburban paranoia. The film capitalizes on the frenzy that was born in the late 60's to mid 80's from the "satanic panic" era of news. During this time, a lot of people just assumed they may be surrounded by monsters. People were, and still are, constantly concerned about what their neighbors are up to. Well this film takes that human instinct and runs wild with it. It goes beyond paranoia, beyond neighborhood watch, and into...THE BURBS!

Tom Hanks stars as Ray Peterson, a suburban husband who decides to take a week off work to relax. His wife Carol(Carrie Fisher) insists that they take the kids and go on vacation, but Ray is perfectly content just lounging around. This is reinforced by his goofy best friend, and fellow neighbor Art Weingartner played by the gloriously cheesy Rick Ducommun. Together the two men pretty much dominate the conversation and create a world of their own. In this bubble that they've created, they are detectives of sort. Ray and Art are constantly scanning the neighborhood, looking for what weirdness may lurk beneath the fresh cut grass.

Through the perspective of these fellows, we are introduced to the neighborhood. We first meet Corey Feldman's character Ricky Butler. This was during a time where Feldman was getting too old to play "the kid", so he is a college age guy who randomly has an entire house to himself. It's a bizarre point in Feldman's career, and I wasn't quite sure what to make of his performance. If you've seen his performance as "The Frog Brother" in Lost Boys, it's along those lines. Then we have Walter who is a snobby older man who purposely trains his dog to poop on other people's lawns. That person's lawn in question belongs to some kind of military obsessed older man named Mark. Together in a culdasec, these men constantly agitate each other. But they all share one common figure out what the weird house on the block is up to. The weird house inhabited by a mysterious family simply known as...The Klopeks.

We don't know much about the Klopeks. We just know that they took over the house after the previous owners seemingly left town, and that the house is in terrible condition. It's as if the house is completely abandoned, but the neighbors know it isn't because they often see strange lights coming from the basement windows. After witnessing a series of strange events, Ray and Art attempt to introduce themselves to the Klopeks. All of their attempts fail miserably, so they enlist the military tactics of fellow neighbor Mark. All of their paranoia is unfounded, until the elderly neighbor Walter goes missing. The group can't locate Walter, and his dog is still around, so they see that as an alarming sign that something terrible has happened. This spurs an investigation into the Klopeks done by each neighbor. Together Ray, Art, and Mark try to infiltrate the house, and the mysterious family.

After a series of failed attempts to be stealthy, the group decides to just simply confront the Klopeks head on. To their surprise, the Klopeks welcome the neighbors into their home. What comes next is a peak into the Klopeks world, and it's definitely something straight out of the Addams family. We see a man, his brother, and what appears to be his young relative. They are inhabiting a house full of weird relics and macabre atmosphere. The group investigates the house and finds creaky doors, dusty photos, and weird foods galore. Nothing too alarming...until they discover a gigantic science lab and furnace in the basement. This area becomes the focal point for their paranoia and fuels their hunch that something disturbing lurks beyond the eyes of the Klopeks.

All of this sounds pretty creepy, but it's all played out in a very comedic way. There is a ton of slapstick humor, mixed with funny one liners. The film also contains classic "Honeymooners" humor, putting dramatically different people in the same room together for awkward periods of time. There is also a funny layer of satire that horror fans will definitely pick up on. Often the film has creepy music playing over what is usually a mundane landscape, playing up the paranoia of the suburban culdesac. The cinematography also plays up the paranoia of not only the characters, but the audience. As a viewer, you are left in the dark about the truth behind the people involved. It's very mysterious and uses the classic Hitchcock "Rear Window" suspense idea of what lies behind closed doors. It's not until the last ten minutes of film when you get solid answers. I won't be spoiling that reveal because this film is genius and deserves a dedicated viewing. After finishing the film, you will think twice about peering over your neighbor's fence or leering through the window with the strange light coming out of it. You may find something you aren't prepared for. If you would like to checkout the film for yourself, it's available for free as part of Amazon Prime, or 2.99 for non members. Also if you are already familiar with the film but want to revisit the best version available, SHOUT FACTORY released an amazing blu-ray edition last year.

Bonus Burb Fact: Early on in the film you can see Hanks and Fisher preparing breakfast for their children and they are all indulging in a box of GREMLINS cereal. Since Joe Dante directed both GREMLINS and this film, that's a fun little easter egg. I wonder if the cereal was any good?

Friday, October 26, 2018

Monster Mania: "What's In The Box?!"

Written by Stu Cooper

Who doesn't love a mystery grab bag? Well given the time of year and the maximum amount of Halloween hype I'm currently experiencing, I think it's time to take a look at some spooky products! This week I was graced with a mystery box full of Halloween goodies, courtesy of "Don't Eat The Gum". The site itself offers several different options for retro and pop culture themed loot boxes, none of which disappoint. Let's take a peak into what I got in my mystery haul! Before I begin, I want you to do your best Brad Pitt Impression while reading this article's title. "WHAT'S IN THE BOX?!"

There is a ridiculous amount of goodies in here. The highlights of which include A Freddy Kreuger He-man inspired figure, a fantastic fangoria back issue, tons of cards,and a beautiful portrait of Elvira that's created by the very talented artist Byron Winton!

The package included a mixtape of epic rock music that sets the tone for Halloween. That may be something I have to review on it's own entirely.

Here are some Universal Monster themed Garbage Pail Kids! I love these things. It's amazing how enduring the concept still is today.

A true throwback to 80's action figures, this Savage World Freddy Kreuger mixes Masters of The Universe with Horror and is part of a 5 character series!

And to absolutely seal the deal, I received a framed photo of Arnold Schwarzenegger with what appears to be the villains from Monster Squad. This is perplexing since the actor was not in the film. But thanks to Tales From The Crypt, we know Arnold is a big horror fan. I guess he just wanted to see that gem be made for himself.

All of those epic things were crammed into the mystery box I received from "Don't Eat The Gum". That's just a small sampling of what is available from them, and I highly recommend checking out their Easter baskets when that season comes around. Thanks for the extensive pop culture flashback!

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Monster Mania: Party Hard (PS4) Review

Written by Stu Cooper

If you've ever lived in an apartment or close knit suburb community, you have most likely encountered a situation where you were annoyed with your neighbor. Whether it's loud noises, funky smells, or congested parking due to party animals, it's probably gotten under your skin. What if you were completely pushed to the edge and you were wiling to do anything to stop the party? Well most human beings are able to control themselves and get over it, but in the game "Party Hard", the goal is quite the opposite. In "Party Hard" you play the role of a young man who has been pushed to the edge, unable to sleep or find peace, he goes on a killing spree. Not just any killing spree, but a party killing spree. He goes from location to location, destroying parties by eliminating the guests. The game is played out through a series of stories the killer is telling the police. While that sounds incredibly morbid and sadistic, it is the 16 bit aesthetic and the humor found within the game that brings out huge doses of dark comedy.

In "Party Hard" you take the role of an unnamed killer, simply referred to as "the man who just wanted some sleep". You are armed with a knife, a bevy of tricks, and home alone-esque traps that you can utilize to progressively eliminate guests at the party. It starts out simple with a small house party, but throughout the game you can attend parties on boats, party buses, desert musical festivals, and night clubs. Each level features it's own unique set of guests, traps, and randomized events. The key to the game is definitely the randomization. Each time you play a level, it's different. It may be a small difference, but it's different none the less. The guests are often different, they may be doing different things, the effects the guests have on each other may differ, and then you have trigger events that are spread out throughout the level. These events include things like zombie outbreaks, police raids, framing other's for crimes, pest control gone wrong, alien abductions, and more! Thanks to the level of complexity, the game certainly doesn't lack in the creative kill department. You can even sit back and watch the party as if it were an installment of "The Sims". Guests will often argue with each other, have sex, get drunk and pass out, and even accidentally kill each other! It's as if someone created a mod for "The Sims" where everything is chaos. If you are one of those people who loves to play "The Sims" simply so you can find ways to kill your players, this is your dream game.

The game plays out through a birds eye view. You control the killer, and you have full view of the house and guests at all times. It reminds me of those books that show the insides of ships/castles/etc. and you can see all the bits and pieces and what the people are doing. It's an interesting perspective. It also kind of reminds me of "Paperboy" in terms of the level of bizarre activity and random events happening around you.

The player you control while able to kill, is incredibly vulnerable. The name of the game is stealth, almost like a cartoony version of Hitman. You must navigate through the party and eliminate the guests without ever being noticed. If you are noticed, it's full alert. You often get taken out by a bouncer, or the party goers call the police on you. One touch from the police and you're done for. Game Over. It's a pretty cruel learning curve, but once you figure out the sensitivity of the A.I., you're able to work with it. That's not to say it's impossible to evade. You can often find a way to get out of range of the cops, and they eventually give up their search, or in some cases they arrest the wrong person. If you really want to up the ante, you can call for back up, which is also randomized. Sometimes another killer shows up, sometimes a drive-by occurs, sometimes the swat team shows up and goes Full Metal Jacket on everyone. It's really the flip of a coin, which makes for a really fun nerve racking experience.

Now what would a party be without music? Well no worries, there is plenty of good tunes throughout the game. All of the music is instrumental and electronic, but it flows with the tone of the game perfectly. It features that 16 bit poppy tone you'd find in something like Earthworm Jim, while integrating royalty free music you imagine people dancing to at an actual party. In fact, the DJ is an actual character in the game and you often have to save killing them for last, because if the music were to suddenly stop, everyone would wonder what was up. It's tiny details like that, that make this game a truly unique and addicting experience. As a caveat to that, you can also perform dance moves! If you approach a guest and begin dancing, the reactions vary. Either the guest digs it and you are on the verge of getting lucky, or they are disgusted with you and alarmed. You can also use the repulsive dance techniques to herd the guests into a certain area of the party, lambs being led to the slaughter so to speak.

For a price tag of 12.99 or free if you're a PS Plus member, you definitely get your moneys worth. The game is a great time killer and it's easy to pick up and play. The game is also TWITCH friendly for those who prefer to use the PC version. At one point the game even gave gameplay power to TWITCH users, giving them the power to effect the party. There is a sequel on the way, so I imagine the title will be going on sale soon. I can't recommend this one enough, especially if you have a dark sense of humor. If you are looking for a creepy game to give you in the Halloween mood, this is a great one to start with. Party Hard 2 is set to be released on STEAM at the end of October 2018, so hurry up and give the first one a try before the sequel is released!

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Monster Mania has returned!

After taking a year off, it is time to unlock the crypt, emerge from the fog, and bring life to the dead. Film Enigma has officially returned and what better time to make that return than the greatest month of all, October. It's a month filled with nostalgia, primal fears, costumes, unhealthy brightly colored food, and the finest in horror schlock. What more can a grown kid ask for? Well, this year for Monster Mania I'm coming in hot! I'm reviewing one of the darkest games I've ever played, some of the darkest films I've ever seen, and even some goofy Halloween specials you've probably forgotten about.

So get your costumed chicken nuggets and Elvira Coors light ads ready, it's time to dive into the 2018 Monster Mania!