Movie Review: John Carpenter’s The Fog

The Fog for those who may not know is a classic John Carpenter movie. The Fog takes place in a small community by the seaside called Antonio Bay. Despite how charming it is, Antonio Bay has it’s dark secrets in it’s past. With the centennial celebration looming, a strange fog begins appearing and people start to die. From there we see how the past can come to haunt the present.

The premise alone is classic campfire ghost story fodder. You cannot go into this movie expecting anything more then that because it simply isn’t. In fact the beginning of the movie even starts off with an older man recounting a ghost story to younger kids. It pretty much set’s the tone for what is ahead a goes about it the right way.

The pacing of the movie is typical Carpenter with the slow buildup. No sense in rushing things which is very good to see. It’s also now about gore or violence. We slowly are introduced to the fog and then by extensions what lurks within it.

The acting is also pretty well done. A much younger Jamie Lee Curtis is present but has not much of a role. She appears as a hitchhiker who ends up sleeping within 30 seconds with the one who picks her up. I think this is a bit on the odd side as there is no buildup even flirtation wise with Tom Atkins character. But hey ,were talking 1980’s horror right? Adrienne Barbeau does a great job as well as the sultry radio DJ Stevie Wayne. She both plays the part of the alluring DJ as well as frantic mother very well. Their distinctions are clear and it’s definitely a job well done. Speaking of the acting, you may notice many a familiar face if you have seen Halloween. Many of the same actors / actresses are on this movie. This in itself gives the movie a positive vibe as it comes across as a group of friends who like working together doing something fun.

Despite a few minor shortcomings plot wise (as we said, it is a campy ghost tale), The Fog delivers on being a very good movie. With the release of the newer update to The Fog we can all take a look back at the original and wonder that sometimes, we need to see that what worked in the original so well was it’s simplicity and pacing. While the current generation may find it slow, it’s more of a payoff then it’s action paced retooling in 2005.

Grab some popcorn, turn the lights out and enjoy the movie.

Movie Review: Day of the Dead

Day of the Dead is a classic George Romero movie about a post apocalyptic world overrun by a zombie outbreak. Where Dawn of the Dead has us isolated in a mall, Day of the Dead has us isolated in a military style bunker underground.

The movie follows a small group of military soldiers, scientists and a few random folks who are dealing with the aftermath. The are worn down, discouraged that not only are they not finding survivors via their expeditions to the city but also that their numbers are going down compared to that of the zombies. Also there is no perceivable cure whether by antidote or otherwise of the zombies. The movie primarily follows Sarah though as she is trying to cope with everything like everyone else. Being the only female in the whole facility also makes her rather unique and combustible to the situation at hand.

As the movie progresses we have a change in hierarchy as the military soldiers (specifically Capt Rhodes stages a coup by taking over and threatening the scientists to start producing results. This is all cause and effect. Everyone is starting to over react due to the isolation, being in close proximity to each other and just the simple loss of their comrades. As a watcher and a roleplayer I can see how it can degenerate.

Dr Logan who is the main scientist is trying to solve the zombie problem not by cure via reversal but by domesticating the zombies. He discovers that they still act all on basic instinct in their need of survival and he wants to channel that so they no longer bother them. You can see the short sighted view and flaws with this but you can also tell Dr Logan has lost a few of his marbles.This bring us to his test subject Bub who is for the most part domesticated and proves his point. However you still need to feed Bub some flesh. You also discover that the zombies still retain trace memories of what they used to do and that they can learn on a primitive level. This aspect is rather fascinating and goes so far as to bring you to have an almost sympathy for the dead.

Obviously the plan does not work and the base is overrun by zombies. The soldiers all fall but that was expected. Capt Rhodes is killed by our good friend Bub. This comes off as a sort of vengence for Bub as Capt Rhodes was insistent on wanting to kill Bub and pointing out that he was worthless. Eventually only Sarah, John and McDermott make it out and to a tropical island.

Everyone does a fair job in their roles. Dr Logan stands out as strong character despite his insanity. He is the only one who seem’s not bothered by Capt Rhodes. In fact he is able to hold his own and even victorious in his dealings with him. His craziness is also very well done. Capt Rhodes being the main villain if you will come off like the douche he is however you can see his viewpoint that things keep going to shit and he is trying to cope by taking control.

The biggest performance though comes off as Bub. He is humanized to the point where he makes you sympathetic towards the zombies. As mentioned above, Capt Rhodes wants Bub dead and Bub gets his revenge. His face when he does get it really comes through that there is a glimmer of intelligence there. It’s so well done for a relatively bit part.

The gore in this movie is totally over the top as expected of Romero zombie movies and if you look at the special features on the DVD you will get a chuckle on how these effects were obtained. In fact I recommend watching all the making of featurette as it is quite fascinating to see how the movie developed from a phonebook sized script to almost a shell of the original concept due to budget restraints at the time.

Day of the Dead is a solid entry into the zombie apocalypse series. It sometimes gets a bit dull between scenes but overall it hangs in there. The characters can be quite quotable and you may find yourself bringing out a curse by Capt Rhodes at some point to laughs all around. If your big into the zombie genre, you need to see this movie, it’s a classic. You will find definite inspiration for your zombie oriented games in this movie. But also you can use the theme of isolation in any genre of game you run. Isolation can be a very valuable tool in a game so take hints from how Romero used it.

Movie Review: The House by the Cemetery

This is a totally B movie that I picked up in a horror movie six pack a long time ago and now finally taking a moment to review it in all it’s strange awesomeness.

House by the Cemetary is done by the somewhat legendary Lucio Fulci who is not very shy at providing you with gory scenes galore. From the first five minutes of the movie you will be nodding your head  thinking, yup this is definitely a Lucio Fulci movie. I remember watching this with my friend in the back seat of a car on a trip. He is also totally into horror movies and he was like “Holy shit! Did that just happen”. Yes Chris, it did happen and no you cannot take that memory away.

The movie as a whole is very good in a B movie way. Don’t expect tremendous logic to be found. There are a few scenes that will leave you scratching your head wondering if Fulci was on something or just totally misguided attempt at creating shock / drama for the sake of it. It doesn’t work and rather then adding to the movie, leaves you giggling.

The atmosphere is generally well kept. Your always wondering what is coming next. Fulci does a good job of keeping things on a slow build towards the climax where all hell breaks loose. For a B movie you don’t often see that sort of consistency on the build up so were very thankful for this.

The acting is generally well done. In fact I will say I am surprised. There are moments where you invest yourself in the characters and think loudly that you would not stay in that situation. Discover a tomb in the living room? I am getting the fuck out of there. This family however are determined. But you do get their sense of anxiety as they are dealing with a move in to a relatively creepy looking home to begin with and then all the bumps and sounds that are delivered to us. The only really off putting character is the little psychic girl. Her purpose in the movie is a warning to the boy but the way she is presented to us is always in a WTF way.  Also the boy has a very grating voice that comes off as whiny. Maybe that is what they were going for but it is just ughhhh.

The sound in the movie is ok. I had to crank up the volume as the voices (except the irritating boys voice) came out hushed. Other then that though you have plenty of quirky music. One really comes off as a 70’s kind of jive that is funny when you first hear it.

The picture quality also really stands out as being very good for it’s age and transition to DVD so no disappointments there.

House by the Cemetery is a classic B movie for your night with your buddies. It offers up enough horror moments, gory scenes and the laughable what the hell are they showing me now scenes, that you cannot help but be entertained. The story is rather amusing overall but don’t expect Shakespeare on this one. It’s plain and simple a good pop corn movie and definitely an add on for any horror movie fans collection.  Fulci in his own unique fashion gives us something special like only he can.

From an RPG standpoint you will find probably lots to provide you inspiration for a horror game. With all the amusing bits found in the movie I am sure you will be able to find elements to put into your game. I can see something interesting created in a gothic horror genre or even via a Unisystem game such as All Flesh Must Be Eaten. Nothing says fun like an evil golem scientist in a hidden room located in a long abandoned victorian mansion.