Literally everyone has heard of Pokémon. It doesn’t matter if you’ve played the games, read the comics, watched any of the tv show/movie adaptations, you know what Pokémon is. When we reviewed Tomodachi x Monster Volume One, we compared it to Pokémon because of its adorable monsters, and children “trainers.” Now that we’ve read Volume Two of Tomodachi x Monster, we’d like to ask you to remember Pokémon’s long-lost cousin, Digimon. Things have taken a turn in Tomodachi x Monster that have hearkened us back to the 90’s in remembrance of Digimon.
When we left Narimiya Wataru and his “friend” Peke in Volume One, they had just rescued a boy looking for his brother. Peke had evolved into a different form and helped Wataru save the day. Another nail in the coffin really for the Pokémon reference, if only Peke hadn’t gone back to his original form. Hello, Digimon.
As it turns out, Peke is a special kind of “friend” since he can evolve into multiple different forms depending on his situation. So far only two different kinds have been revealed, but there are sure to be more in the future. While this is one of the most vital plot points in Tomodachi x Monster, so much more happens in Volume Two.
A gaggle of new characters are introduced, but not all things are as they seem. Mystery abounds in this volume, as these new children fight for their lives, while still trying to do what’s right. At the head of this morality is of course Wataru. A constant crusader for only fighting when necessary, he stays true to his heart. The same cannot be said for others, but of course we’d rather not ruin the end of the volume for you.
The art style in Tomodachi x Monster continues to walk the line between cute and creepy. While the children’s monsters are all adorable in their own ways, the darkness in Tomodachi x Monster is still apparent. There are scenes where major injuries happen, and while gruesome, they don’t really cross the line into gore. Whenever there are children involved, it can be difficult to cross that line for fear of backlash. Still, Tomodachi x Monsteris a manga about kids killing kids, so it’s a bit inconsistent that the violence feels so neutered.
While we learn more about Peke’s evolution abilities and some big reveals at the end, this volume of Tomodachi x Monster felt like filler. Most of the story was wildly forgettable, and it’s difficult to keep an audience interested with fluff. However, the reveals at the end indicate some bigger battles to fight in future volumes. So if you can make it through Volume Two of Tomodachi x Monster, it might be worth it to stick around.
As we near the opening of “The Walking Dead” attraction at Universal Studios Hollywood, another behind-the-scenes video has arrived featuring FX guru Greg Nicotero, executive producer and director of the hit AMC show.
Universal Studios Hollywood recruited Nicotero and some of the actors who portray “walkers” on the television series to lead “Walker Boot Camp” as the theme park continues its preparation for the July 4th opening of its all-new permanent daytime attraction, inspired by AMC’s “The Walking Dead.”
Watch as Nicotero and the “real” walkers lead the “Walker Boot Camp” as they put a cast of actors through the rigors of how to be a walker–move like a walker, stalk prey like a walker, walk like a walker, and remain in character like a walker. Every walker nuance was exposed… from proper body posture to the juxtaposition of predator versus prey.
“The Walking Dead” attraction will be a real-life interpretation of AMC’s award-winning television series. To elevate its authenticity, Universal Studios Hollywood is partnering with “The Walking Dead’s” creative team, including visionary executive producer and director Greg Nicotero and his special effects company, KNB Efx. Nicotero’s team, responsible for masterfully creating the show’s realistic decaying walkers, will construct prosthetics, utilize original molds, and painstakingly apply paint and detailing to the attraction walkers.
“The Walking Dead” attraction will be located within an entirely new, custom built structure, situated within an expansive building complex just inside the theme park’s main entry. Due to the intense nature of this experience, the attraction is not recommended for guests under the age of 13.
When Outlast dropped in 2013, it was in the wake of Amnesia: The Dark Descent. After an era of Resident Evil 4-inspired action horror titles, the return to a more stealth-focused horror experience was heralded as the coming of a new and glorious dark age.
It’s a movement that still has a lot of momentum, with stellar releases like Soma and Layers of Fear. Unfortunately, for every outstanding title, there are a hundred micro-budget amateur Unity projects. Even successfully funded and widely supported titles like Among the Sleep often fail to deliver on anything more than a fleetingly enjoyable C+ experience. What’s even worse are promising titles like P.T. (technically I’m talking about Silent Hills) that wind up dead before they even get out the door. And then, of course, there is Slender: The Eight Pages and the legion of shit that Slenderman memes turned pop culture icon has wrought.
The point of all this is that when Outlast was released to moderately positive reviews, the metric at the time for quality was totally fucked up. It sits at around an 80% on Metacritic (an altogether fucked up system in its own way), which while good doesn’t by most standards qualify it to be considered a “classic.” For most horror critics, the game failed to live up to their memory of how great Amnesia was, and they were simultaneously soured on the whole concept by their exposure to similar, cash-in titles. I’m not just spouting hate at other critics. It’s certainly how I felt at the time too.
Now, with the benefit of a few years time and the decreasing popularity of Slenderman, I can more accurately appreciate Outlast for what it is. Though mechanically similar to Amnesia, the tone and substance are completely different. If Amnesia were a John Carpenter film, Outlast is more of a Rob Zombie. It’s a fucked up, intentionally shocking, and depraved look into an insane world. The visuals, characters, and scares are unforgettable, followed up by an exceptional DLC pack that grew the narrative without feeling tacked on.
For Outlast 2, the environment into which it’s being released is totally different. Thanks to the fickle hearts and short attention span of the media and industry, Amnesia is no longer the go-to title when people think of horror. With multiple releases and extensive coverage by YouTube gamers/streamers, Outlast is on more equal footing. So with Outlast 2, the people at Red Barrels have to balance what people loved, while giving the game its own identity. Keeping it too much the same will mark it as a greedy repeat, and too much of a departure will alienate the core fan base.
When I approached the playable demo for Outlast 2 at E3 2016, I did so more as a scholar checking over an academic paper than as a gamer. When I started playing, Outlast 2 did something incredible: it took me out of my head and put me into the game world. The visually stunning intro and hauntingly powerful audio made my pupils dilate like a junkie getting his fix. Moving through the first area, I was surprised by the level of restraint they were showing. Sure, there was rotting food and a few dead bodies, but nothing was jumping out and going “boo.” I was treated to a more subtle scare at one point when I decided to use my night vision to check outside of a window. Right behind the fence in the field of corn was a ghoulish, withered farmer, staring directly at me. He wasn’t more than a few meters away, and my switching to night vision gave him no hint that I could see him. So he just stood there, slowly sizing me up, before backing away into the night. It’s the kind of scare that could easily have been accompanied by an earsplitting sting and some shrieking. It’s a level of control and maturity that is unseen in more amateur products.
And then, a crow popped out and went boo. Okay, I’m not really mad about jump scares, especially when they aren’t the sole horror element. I just get really tired of being perpetually startled and haven’t yet devolved into enough of a prostitute to sell my screams online for likes and subscribes. Fortunately, this was one of the few cheap scares in the demo. Not to say there weren’t other jump scares. There were plenty of those. Rather, the jump scares were all well built up, serving as climactic finales rather than just assuring that the player isn’t asleep.
What the Outlast 2 segments I played did best was weave these visceral scares into a more nuanced, depraved world. There seems to be more of a supernatural element here this time, which does wonders for making you question if what you see is actually real. It combines this surrealism with brutally savage and grotesque violence, grounding it all in a solid horrifying reality that you just can’t look away from. The religious vibe gives it an air of believable insanity, despite being pulled by a frog tongue into a haunted school.
I got the chance to talk to the dev team a bit after and made a video about my time with the demo. Check it out if you want to know more:
So, how about you folks? Looking forward to the release of Outlast 2? What are you hoping from this new direction? And what did you think of the first? Let me know in the comments!
When it comes to delivering you the goods on a daily basis, we strive to stay both fresh and as far removed from what people refer to as “normal sensibilities” as possible. That’s why were always looking for fun ways to celebrate the genre! Enter the recurring feature Mister J’s Sense of Dread.
Each week Mister J will dive deep into his psyche to provide you with a new comic of the dreadful variety. From the horror genre to real-life events that tie into it, our new contributor will bring his insane brand of artistry to you, dear reader, with enough reckless abandon and obscurities to make the legendary Charles Addams proud!
Mister J has been drawing cartoons and watching terrible movies for as long as anyone can remember. His work appears in a variety of places but can be seen online daily at mrjcomics.com. Be sure to follow him on Twitter @misterjcomics.
Sit back, relax, and enjoy the chuckles. Look for more soon!
Starring John Ireland, Joan Crawford, Andi Garrett, Sara Lane
Directed by William Castle
Distributed by Scream Factory
William Castle loved a good gimmick, sometimes even more so than a good script, and his films are often remembered for their marketing techniques as much as their content. In some cases, the effectiveness of the marketing far outweighed the picture audiences lined up to see. Castle was a quadruple threat, able to work both in front of and behind the camera, as director, producer, writer, and actor. But his true strength was in being a showman, capable of drumming up intrigue and interest in films that would otherwise be seen as B-movie throwaways. The pinnacle of his achievements came with The House on Haunted Hill (1959), starring the legend of horror legends, Vincent Price. A handful of minor cult classics followed but, again, the promotional tools are what fans know today. For Macabre (1958) it was a $1,000 life insurance policy should anyone die while watching the picture. Screenings of The Tingler (1959) installed buzzers under random seats, giving patrons a jolt when the eponymous creature “entered” the theater. And for I Saw What You Did (1965), he simply relied on cultural naïveté by extolling the horrors of “UXORICIDE!” which is just a fancy way of saying someone killed their lover.
There is a clear reason why I Saw What You Did isn’t mentioned in the same breath as Castle’s popular pictures and that is because it isn’t exactly great. The screenplay is exceedingly contrived, relying on conveniences and illogical actions more than gothic horrors or true suspense. Castle clearly had a genuinely good ploy in mind for a film hook, but there isn’t nearly enough meat here to sustain a feature length running time.
Besties Libby (Andi Garrett) and Kit (Sara Lane) arrange for a get-together and potential sleepover, since Libby’s parents are going to be out for the night. Par-tay! Not exactly. The girls’ idea of fun is running through the phone book and soliciting tame prank calls, wherein they pretend to be the “other woman” in a relationship, or saying things like “I saw what you did, and I know who you are”. Most of the calls result in confusion on the part of the other party. But in one instance, it sets off a housewife who confronts her husband, Steve (John Ireland) – and he’s actually a cheating shitbag. And because he’s a cheating shitbag he flips out and beats the hell out of his old lady before tossing her body through the glass shower door.
Now that the wife is gone, Steve is free to spend time with his hot, younger mistress. Just kidding. His side chick is actually a wrinkled old bag with a bad temper and the body of Betty White, played by a clearly-past-her-prime Joan Crawford. Eschewing their plan to make random calls all night, the girls hit up Steve again and continue to vex him. Then, for an inane reason, Libby and Kit decide it would be a great idea to drive over to Steve’s house and scope out the scene. That goes poorly when Amy (Crawford) steps out of the shadows and flips, accusing teenager Libby of being Steve’s other other mistress. The girls bolt out of there, but Steve’s had enough of Amy’s crap so he kills her, too. Why stop at one, right? Lucky for him, Amy snatched the car registration from Libby that contains her home address. It’s time to pay these meddling kids a visit and find out just how much they know about Steve’s shady activities.
This feels less like a film and more an after-school special. Does Your Child Know the Dangers of Prank Calling??? Libby and Kit’s game seems harmless to them because they’re just naïve kids. Calling up a guy’s wife and pretending to be his other lover? They can hang up and giggle about it but the poor bastard on the other side of that prank has an uphill battle to convince his wife he really doesn’t have any idea what’s going on. Still, causing arguments is hardly as severe as a death. In the instance of Steve, Libby & Kit can’t shoulder all the blame since it seems like Steve has just been itching to kill someone. The guy flies off the handle and attacks his wife like she’s a home invader threatening to cut his throat. And when Amy gets a little too fresh he dispatches her just as quickly. Steve’s bursts of hyperviolence are abrupt, adding a bit of shock value to an otherwise benign story.
It’s almost comical Joan Crawford gets top billing here. Her role is so minor it could have been played by anyone (definitely someone younger); in fact, the role could have been cut altogether and it would have almost no effect on the story. This was five years before she starred in the infamous British B-movie Trog (1970) – her last film – but it is extremely clear seeing her here that those glory days were long gone. Her performance here is acted with heart, and viewers can see Crawford is putting (most of) her all into the role.
At least this picture moves at a decently brisk pace. Castle might have been stretching the limits of how far this story could go, but rarely does he allow the action to remain stagnant enough for viewers to dwell on the sheer ridiculousness of it all. I don’t know how audiences reacted to the film in 1965 but in 2016 it works well enough as innocently fun, “Saturday matinee” style entertainment. Anyone who has made a prank call or two in their life (read: everyone) should be able to vicariously experience the thrills and chills of Libby and Kit.
The 1.78:1 1080p picture looks like a 50-ish-year-old B-movie, with plenty of dirt and scratches to show its age. The black-and-white picture displays stable contrast and solid black levels, with shades of grey just as distinguishable. Film grain looks natural and adds to the cinematic aesthetic. Definition can vary between shots; clarity can be strong one minute and hazy the next. Still, considering the vintage and the lack of prestige this is a serviceable image with only minor faults.
An English DTS-HD MA 2.0 mono track carries the audio here. This is a clean, straightforward track with no major audible issues. The score seems less suited for a thriller and more in line with something lighter, sounding like bubblegum pop music. Subtitles are included in English.
A photo gallery and a couple of trailers are the only extra features.
New 2016 High-Definition Transfer
”Special World Premiere Announcement” featuring William Castle
On tap for your Friday enjoyment we have an exclusive clip from The Raking, a tale about college students who set out to debunk an urban legend, along with some new artwork! Check it out!
From the Press Release: Los Angeles production company Lesson 1 Entertainment is proud to announce the completion of post-production on The Raking, an independent feature horror film starring Bryan Brewer, Cree Kelly, Allie Rivera, Thatcher Robinson, Marisa Davila, and Marshal Hilton (The Bunnyman Massacre).
Directed by star Brewer from a script he co-wrote with writer and producer Laura Heine, Brewer also produces with Rivera under their Lesson 1 Entertainment banner.
A group of college students set out to debunk an urban legend in Joshua Tree, California, for their anthropology thesis, only to find that they have become part of the legend themselves.
Director and co-writer Brewer says of his approach to the micro-budget The Raking, “We wanted to tackle the challenge of a satisfying, cinematic horror film on a budget without relying on the found footage genre. As a huge horror fan myself, I’m hopeful we were successful in delivering a really cool creature-feature that will be welcomed by all audiences, and especially the genre fans.”
Says Rivera, “We are excited to announce the film’s completion and to release the first teaser trailer of The Raking. We hope monster fans will dig it as much as we enjoyed making it.”
Designed by Syfy’s “Face Off” Season 4 contestant Eric Fox of MORBX FX, the artist says of his approach in creating the titular creature (which is based on the urban legend of The Rake), “It was all practical, and I wanted to deliver something we’ve never seen before in the genre. Also, there’s really very little information that exists on the legend itself, so that allowed me creative license in my design, and once it was on set, I think creature actor Alan Maxson really brought the result to creepy life.”
Airing on Cinemax, “Outcast” is somewhat flying under the radar of the horror crowd, but we wholeheartedly recommend that you take some time to check it out and get caught up. Tonight’s episode was written by series creator Robert Kirkman himself so you can expect some fireworks! Read on for a few stills and a pair of clips.
“Outcast” is created and executive produced by Robert Kirkman and executive produced by showrunner Chris Black. The series is produced for Cinemax by FOX International Studios (FIS) and also executive produced by David Alpert, Sharon Tal Yguado, and Sue Naegle.
Cast members include Patrick Fugit, Philip Glenister, Gabriel Bateman, Wrenn Schmidt, Reg E. Cathey, Kate Lyn Sheil, Julia Crockett, David Denman, and Brent Spiner.
“Outcast” Episode 1.04 – “A Wrath Unseen” (airs 6/24/16, 10:00-10:50 p.m.) The intrigue in Rome intensifies as Anderson (Philip Glenister) discovers shocking information about someone close to him. Megan (Wrenn Schmidt) conceals a secret. Written by Robert Kirkman; directed by Julius Ramsay.
I have mixed feelings about present day Resident Evil. On the one hand, Capcom has taken bold steps to reinvent the tired series. People are kind of over the action/horror hybrid style that Resident Evil 4 invented/perfected and that Resident Evil 5 and 6 did their best to fuck up. After the half measure of returning to horror that was Resident Evil: Revelations 2, they are once again returning to pure horror with Resident Evil 7. It’s a hard left turn, ditching the roundhouse kicks and snap headshots for key hunts and panicked cowering. Umbrella Corps is the inverse of that, taking a hard right turn away from all of the slower survival elements into pure action-land.
This might seem strange given that Capcom seemingly had learned their lesson from the failure of Operation Raccoon City and RE6. As much as I love the franchise, no one thinks, “tight, responsive controls” when they think of Resident Evil. The series has built itself off of being deliberately clunky. Even in their pinnacle action title RE4, the aiming and movement were restricted to build tension. It works in a single player environment where enemies are designed around this, stopping their full sprint a few feet short before lethargically lunging.
So you’ll be surprised to find that Umbrella Corps, their purely action multiplayer-only shooter, has maintained this aspect somewhat. It’s faster than most Resident Evil games, with a plethora of mobility options. You can kick through doors, slide over tables, pop in and out of cover, and crawl under desks and into vents. It’s pretty impressive when you get the hang of it, but overwhelming enough at first that most players will opt for the “sprint around like a maniac” option.
On the other hand, aiming is slow and unresponsive. I should mention that I’m playing on the PC, which the game was clearly not designed for. Aiming drags with the restriction of an analogue stick, making rapid spins and quick corner checks nearly impossible. Even upping the sensitivity to max, getting attacked from behind was a frustrating game of trying to sprint away so that I could turn around without being turned into paste. They attempt to mitigate this somewhat by having a “look behind” button, so at least you can stare deep into your killer’s eyes as he savagely wrecks you.
The best option is to just not get flanked, which can be accomplished through solid teamwork. Since the game is a symmetrical 3v3, it’s clearly designed around tight tactical communication and quick coordinated reactions. Cover your flanks and respond as needed, and plan your attack where they are most vulnerable. It’s a level of coordination absolutely impossible with two strangers and no voice chat. Every game starts with people vaguely trying to work together, but eventually one at a time they will all realize that they have a one-hit kill axe at their disposal. By the end, it’s 6 crazed lunatics sprinting around the map playing a hilariously uncoordinated and deadly variant of tag.
And thanks to the power of insanely generous hitboxes, I too can pretend like I have skill.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Resident Evil game without zombies. Zombies are everywhere, constantly spawning and populating the maps in an ever thickening horde. Players start equipped with a “zombie jammer” on their back, a device that makes them invisible to the undead hordes. As long as it’s active, you can walk right past them without so much as a hungry sniff. If your pack is damaged, then you’re pretty fucked. The zombies are relentless and kill you in a couple hits. You can survive the onslaught, but the constant threat and distraction makes you an easy target. The jammer goes down much more quickly than a health bar, so there’s some decision to be made in where you target.
Another plus is that the game is visually great. Zombies are unique to the level, and with zones spanning the whole series there’s a lot of variety to their look. It’s a level of detail that as a fan of the series I really appreciate. They also spawn by slowly materializing out of a puddle of gore, so bonus points for making NPC spawns interesting. The levels are well designed and visually distinct, packing a surprising amount of variable tactical depth into their various corridors and overlooks.
Unfortunately, with their lack of tactics and slobbering brain dead stupidity, I frequently mistook them for my teammates.
As a fast paced, tactical shooter, it functions. It just doesn’t do much more than that. The zombie element is certainly unique, but it doesn’t add much real depth to the combat. Weapons are all kind of samey, with little difference between the various SMGs or Shotguns. There’s a lot of customization, with various sights and silencers allowing you to build your weapon for different engagement ranges. Unfortunately, Umbrella Corps takes a note from every other modern shooter and locks all of the interesting weapons and upgrades behind a level gate. I don’t mind having to earn new stuff, but your base loadout is like three guns. The match length also means you level unbearably slow, and in a few hours you might only gain a couple of levels.
Even if all of the weapons were chainsaw crossbows and rabid dog cannons, the fundamental mechanics weight it down. Respawns seem random, and several times I’d load in just a few feet from my opponent’s backside. With how hard it is to communicate, I could crouch, vault, crawl, and climb all I wanted, I was still going to be taking an axe to the anus in the end. The gameplay types are varied and simple, but none really stood out as interesting.
Waiting for a game to start can take upwards of 10 minutes, so keep that in mind when picking between the more varied 20 minute “Multi-Mission” mode and the team deathmatch mode that people actually play.
I’m sure there’s a lot of depth here and enough tactical play to make this a very satisfying game for high level play. I can easily envision squads of dedicated players shouting commands over headsets, wiping the floor with noobs and engaging in white knuckle MLG combat with other battle hardened veterans. As a new player though, none of that was accessible to me. Through my telescope on Planet Scrub, I can see the flicker of the distant star that is Umbrella Corps’ endgame. Alas, my people are a simple one, and have neither the time nor dedication to research space travel.
As a $30 budget title, it’s worth checking out Umbrella Corps just to see if it tickles your particular gaming fancy. Unfortunately, given the hype behind Resident Evil 7, I doubt most people will know that this even exists. This was supposed to release months ago, and releasing it under the shadow of the RE7 announcement shows a clear lack of confidence. For the price, this is a game that really could have stood on its own. It’s much better than Operation Raccoon City. But as fate would have it, this is likely going to be one of the most forgotten installments in the franchise, right above Outbreak and right below Umbrella Chronicles.
At this point in time, we’ve mostly made peace with the fact that we’re never getting a sequel to badass 2012 reboot Dredd, but every once in a while, we can’t help but get our hopes up. Star Karl Urban, for example, recently noted that Dredd 2 was in development, but like always, today brings a depressing clarification.
Taking to Twitter, @KarlUrban set the record straight.
“Dredd update: Unfortunately a sequel is no closer to happening,” tweeted Urban. “Options have been discussed but there is no sequel in development.”
Speaking with Latino Review, producer Adi Shankar hammered a similar nail into the same coffin.
“Not true at all, bud,” he replied, when asked about the Dredd 2 rumors. “Unfortunately.”
And this is what happens when an awesome movie doesn’t perform well at the box office.
We’re always game for a gory slasher flick that takes us back to the sub-genre’s ’80s heyday, and that’s precisely what Brad Twigg hopes to deliver with Killer Campout. The film, which just began production earlier this month, already has a few teaser posters ready for your eyeballs, and they’re sure to make you feel all warm and retro inside.
Written by Matt Hill and James L. Edwards, the slasher stars Jesse L. Green.
Synopsis: Two youth counselors bring a group of emotionally troubled teens deep into the woods for a weekend of solitude and confrontational therapy. The trip turns deadly when the group is terrorized by a cannibalistic hermit with a thirst for blood.