Thursday, 22 June 2017

Asian Urban Legends- The Creepy Tales of Our Nightmares!!!

Urban Legends are everywhere.  No matter where you live there will always be stories of Ghosts or a local legend that will chill you to your core.  However some of the scariest I have heard of come from Asia, and like their Horror films such as Audition and the original Ringu, they are messed up and scary as Hell!  So join me as a share with you 3 of the  weirdest and disturbing Asian Urban Legends out there.........

1) Daruma-san (The Bath Game)

Have you ever lay in a bath and thought to yourself "If only I could turn this relaxing experience into a horrific game of cat and mouse where I could die", only to come out clean and not been pursued?  Well fear not as Daruma-san can help you! 

The Prelude - You will need to take a bath just before you go to bed (a shower won't work apparently) and once the bath is full turn out all the lights and sit in the bath facing the taps.  Once you have done this close your eyes and start to wash your hair, and as you are doing this repeat the words "Daruma-San fell down, Daruma-San fell down" but keep those eyes closed tight!  Now if you have done this correctly you will get a mental image of a Japanese woman standing in a bathtub, who will then slip and fall and gouge out her right eye on a rusty tap. If at any point you hear noises or feel movement in the bathtub DO NOT open your eyes, but ask aloud "Why did you fall in the bath tub?"  Then keeping your eyes closed, stand up and get out of the bath (Health and Safety disclaimer - Be careful when you do this as you want to be chased by a spirit, not smash your head open), leave the water in the bath and leave all the lights off and exit the bathroom.  After you have closed the door you can open your eyes, and go to bed (if you can sleep after seeing a woman having her eye gouged out by a tap!!).

The Game Begins -   OK, so you wake up from your sleep and after probably questioning why you started this whole thing it's time for the fun to begin.  Throughout the day you will get a feeling that someone is following you, an uneasy feeling that will make you turn around and check but reveal nobody there.  However, you may catch a glimpse of her over your right shoulder if you are lucky (if that is the right word).  She will have black, tangled hair and of course be missing her right eye.  She will attempt to get closer to you throughout the day, slowly pursuing you as you go about your day.  She is fond of water and dark places, so bear this in mind in case you have planned any caving or deep sea diving for that day.  If you find that she is too close for comfort, and you do manage to get a glimpse of her you need to take action quickly.  You will need to shout "Tomare!" which means stop and run like Hell to put some distance between you and her.  Be careful though as each time you use this it will only stall her, and each time it is used the time she is stalled for will diminish.

Ending the Game So you are probably tired of being stalked by a one eyed spirit that you summoned while washing your hair in the dark (yeah it sounds stupid when you look at it that way) and want to end the game before she catches you.  Well to do that you will need to take these steps before midnight, failing to do this will invite her into your dreams and you really don't want that!  You need to have her in your sights over your right shoulder, but if she suspects you are about to end the game she will hide, so be ready to act quickly.  While you have her in your gaze you will need to shout "Kitta!" which means "I cut you loose!" while swinging your arm down in a cutting motion.  If this is performed correctly you will have won and the game will be over, if you didn't perform it correctly then RUN!!!!!!  

If after all this excitement you think you want to play it again be warned, she will start the new game exactly where she finished the first one, so it's not really advisable to do this.

2) Kuchisake-Onna (The Slit Mouthed Woman)

Now this is a tale of how vanity, infidelity taking revenge are all wrong, but lead to an awesome Ghost Story.  The original story comes from the Heian period of Japanese History, around 1200-800 years ago and was originally a cautionary tale.  A beautiful woman was a wife (or concubine depending on who tells it) of a Samurai, and legend has it she was extremely vain.  After cheating on the Samurai he took his revenge by slitting her mouth with his sword and declared "Who will find you beautiful now?"

So legend has it that she walks the streets wearing a Surgeon's Mask, like many others in Japan, and will approach her victim of choice.  Once she approaches them she will ask "Do you think I am beautiful?" (Watashi Kirei?). 
Now, depending on how polite and socially awkward you are, this will result in 2 different outcomes.

A) You look at her and say "No" (a very brave move saying this to anyone who asks you this) she will take exception to this and kill you with a pair of scissors, but you kind of asked for it being that rude!

B) You look and politely say "Yes of course" she will then remove her mask, revealing horrific facial scar and ask again "Watashi Kirei?" Now this is where it complicated, as you will probably be in shock at seeing her face you might slip up and say "Oh sweet Jesus No!" and she will then kill you where you stand with her trusty scissors.  However, if you say "Yes you are" and think she will let you go for being so nice you are wrong, she will simply slash your face so you look like her (To be fair you did just say it was a good look).

Apparently there is a way to escape from her by saying you are late for an appointment, and she will apologise for delaying you and let you go on your way.  Keep that in mind if any women wearing masks approach you and ask you to comment on their beauty, it is easier to stick to Hot or Not. Is that still a thing or am I just old as shit?

3) The Cursed Kleenex Commercial

No this is not a joke, and no the video isn't to some sort of weird porno, but apparently in the 80's Kleenex released a "Dreamy, Fairy tale commercial" which was designed to be cheery.  What they actually got was some sort of weird acid trip which rumour has it caused everyone involved an unfortunate fate.

The actress in the commercial Keiko Matsuzaka apparently became pregnant with a Demon Child and became institutionalized after suffering a mental breakdown.  The boy who played the Red Demon in the commercial apparently died in mysterious circumstances shortly after filming had finished.  Also there are stories of the entire Production Crew either becoming ill or suffering terrible accidents, however none of these claims can be substantiated.

Even the soundtrack to the commercial is rumored to have a touch of the weird to it.  Some people claimed that the lyrics were a German curse, while others said the voice changed depending on what time of day you saw it.  If it was on in the day you would hear the singer's angelic voice.  But if you were to hear it at night the voice would change to that of a old woman and misfortune would be heading your way.  

So that is just three of the weird Urban Legends that are floating around out there hailing from Asia.  Do you believe in any of them or is it all just tall tales?  Whatever you think remember these stories all had an origin, and maybe there is something to them.  Are you brave enough to try the bath game?  Let me know in the comments and don't forget to share and tell your friends.

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

10 Games that need a Re-Release on New-Gen Consoles

Some games are timeless, etched into our memories and reminding us of countless enjoyable hours where we could escape into another world so immersive you long to go back.  But some of these games don't work too well on newer generation consoles e.g. Sonic the Hedgehog, Spyro the Dragon to name but two.  
However, some would benefit from a re-release on the PS4 and Xbox One much like The Bioshock Collection, Skyrim and Last of Us have received.  So here is my list of 10 games that deserve an upgrade to the New Generation of consoles.

1- L.A Noire - Okay seriously Rockstar, why don't we have this already?!

This game would be perfect for a new gen release,  as when it came out originally it pushed the boundaries of the PS3 and the Xbox 360 to their limits.  The story was amazing and the MotionScan technology caught the actors facial expressions perfectly. Imagine having this brushed up and the seedy underbelly of post WW2 LA looking even slicker on your new console,it would be an awesome experience you immerse yourself in all over again and not feel as it is a game you are forcing yourself to play for nostalgia's sake, but for pure enjoyment.

2 & 3 - Silent Hill 2 and 3 - The first of my double entries in this list.  These were arguably the best instalments in the Silent Hill franchise as Silent Hill 2 introduced us to Pyramid Head and Silent Hill 3 expanded on the creepy universe of the first Silent Hill game.

And yes, before you mention it I know there was a HD collection of these 2 games released for the PS3 and Xbox 360, but they are so good they deserve more polishing and another go at giving us nightmares now we aren't getting PT (yes it still hurts).

4 - The Thing - A forgotten gem in the world of gaming, this is one of my favorite games ever.  Taking place after the events of the film you head to the Antarctic so investigate with your team.
 The game takes into account exposure when walking around outside, so you need to get inside to stay warm or you will die, and also you need to gain the trust of people you meet.  This can be done by offering them a weapon, ammo or by doing a blood test to prove that you or they are not an Alien.  With so much narrative, clever ideas and jump scares to die for, this is a game that is worthy of the remake not for just fans of the film but also for gamers who want a unique experience from the other horror games out there.

5 & 6 - Condemned 1 & 2 - Yes the story wasn't the best and there are peolpe out there who hate these games, but they were genuinely scary and lots of fun to play.
The controls were solid and you could get into the game and enjoy the experience.  What more do you need from a game?  A little brush up on the story flaws and trimming of the rough edges and you would have a pretty solid new gen game.  It's not a world beater but it is a solid 7/10 everyday of the week.

7 & 8 - Red Dead Redemption & Undead Nightmare - Oh sweet Jesus I can't say enough about how much I love Red Dead Redemption and Undead Nightmare.  Where do I begin? The story of a former Outlaw turned family man coming back to work for the Government to capture his former partner in crime is brilliantly written, the side quests are fun, playing horseshoes is ridiculously addictive and also the random quests from people you find on the road and in the desert.  Couple that with a Zombie outbreak and you have a damn near perfect game.  Imagine riding into Mexico on the PS4 or Xbox One, the thought of that beautiful experience brings tears to my eyes.  And with the follow up game now being delayed until next year it would be the perfect time for John Marston to hop back on the saddle and ride of into the sunset again.

9 - Shadow Man- Haunted by the death of his younger brother, Mike LeRoi becomes the voodoo warrior Shadow Man and battles against Legion who wants to take over the live side (the living world) by traveling into the dead side (guess where that is). 

The game was one of my most played games on my N64 just because it was just so much fun.  Yes the graphics weren't the best and the script was patchy but it would keep you playing and you got invested in the story and the characters.  Oh and it had an Irish snake that wore a Top Hat and swore lots.

10 - Alan Wake- This game let me drive the car from The Evil Dead, get lost in the maze from The Shining and be attacked by Birds like I was in a Hitchcock film.  
Alan Wake takes horror stories inspired by the likes of Stephen King, twists in some Twin Peaks and turns them into an enjoyable game that makes you want to come back again and again.  The music was brilliant, the narrative was spot on and the characters were so well developed you actually wanted to know more about them as the story unfolded.  The only downside was the game was too short, so a re-release with a few extra bits and pieces added in would be a welcome gift from the developers.

So that's what I think we should have, but what about you?  Let me know in the comments and please share on Facebook and Twitter if you think others will like it.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Chris Cornell - Thank you for saving me

Looking through my Facebook feed this morning I saw an article which said 


I thought to myself  "I fucking hate these clickbait things that trick you" and moved on past.
Then I saw one from The Guardian, The Huffington Post and more and more places.  I can't describe the weird feeling of emptiness that I felt as I realised that this was for real.  I can only remember the feeling when I heard that Kurt Cobain had died when i was 13 and the memories came flooding back.

Now I can tell you all about what Chris Cornell did in his career with Soundgarden and Audioslave, but you can read that anywhere.  I am just going to tell you about how Chris Cornell and Soundgarden helped me when I was a depressed teenager, with no outlet or help for the bullying or the beatings i was taking on a daily basis.

School was shit, really shit.  I don't mean that in a melodramatic way but it really was.  Having long hair and being different in the early to mid nineties wasn't fun or easy.  There was me and 3 others in my year who liked this music, and we didn't really like each other that much.  It was a friendship forged through necessity and based solely on music.  We were the stereotypical Grunge kids and were obviously singled out by the East 17 loving popular kids of the time.  Beatings, being spat on and having our possessions destroyed were regular occurrences and I needed to escape from this reality.

I found this escapism through locking myself in my room with books, comics and music.  Having copies of all the Grunge breakout albums e.g. Nevermind, Core, Dirt and Superunkown, I started delving into back catalogues.  This is when i discovered the Soundgarden that would help  me through the dark times. 

After the opening of Outshined I was transfixed on the music and the lyrics. The first verse just jumped out at me and I can't explain why but it felt like it was being sung at me.....

I got up feeling so down
I got off being sold out

I've kept the movie rolling
But the story's getting old now, oh yeah
I just looked in the mirror
And things aren't looking so good
I'm looking California and feeling Minnesota.

Now I know that sounds like a cliche, but this was a Teen-aged me, struggling in life and trying my best to be anonymous,whilst trying to be myself.  I couldn't tell you what I thought they meant to me now, but at that time they were the lyrics wrote for me.  I spent weeks and weeks listening to the lyrics of Soundgarden and applying them to situations i faced, and this made me feel like I could carry on regardless.  I still retreated into my own world, a safer place where people liked me and I could talk to them, but when faced with reality I always carried my Walkman and a mix tape of my favourite songs to escape to.

Seeing Soundgarden live in 1996 was a brilliant experience and one that will live with me forever, but today's news has hit me hard.  I think its because you don't expect your idols to be as human as you, they are indestructible and cant be effected by the same things as we can.  As the lyrics from Blow Up the Outside World say.....

Nothing seems to kill me no matter how hard I try
Nothing is closing my eyes
Nothing can beat me down for your pain or delight
And nothing seems to break me
No matter how hard I fall nothing can break me at all
Not one for giving up though not invincible I know

As of writing this they have not determined the cause of death, but regardless of what it is Chris Cornell will always be a hero of mine for saving me when I needed it.  He didn't know he did but I am sure mine is just one of the many similar stories from people all around the world.  

Thank you Chris for everything you did without knowing.

Netflix Starts Production on Witcher TV Series

Netflix has announced that production has started on The Witcher series, which will be based on the stories of Witcher creator Andrzej Sapkowski. 
The series will have nothing to do with CD Projekt Red’s highly successful video games of the same name, which Sapkowski had no input into.  However, Netflix have taken on Sapkowski as a creative consultant for the series.

"I'm thrilled that Netflix will be doing an adaptation of my stories," Sapkowski said in a press release quote, "staying true to the source material and themes that I have spent over 30 years writing. I'm excited about our efforts together as well as the team assembled to shepherd these characters to life."

Producers Sean Daniel (The Mummy, Ben Hur and The Expanse) and Jason Brown (The Expanse) have been brought in on the project along with the Polish Animation and Film Studio Platige, with Platige’s Tomek Baginski, who directed the opening cinematics on all three video games involved as one of the Directors.

"There is a moral and intellectual depth in these books that goes beyond genre” said Baginski and his Platige colleague Jarek Sawko. “It is a story about today and today's challenges, hidden under a fantasy cover. It is a story about us, about the monster and the hero inside all of our hearts."

As of yet there is no word on any actors being cast, but as you can imagine they will come under intense scrutiny.  However based on Netflix’s past record of their shows, fans shouldn’t be too worried.  Who do you think should be cast in the main roles?  Let me know by commenting below and sharing with your friends.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Emily Wants To Play

Some indie survival horrors promise a lot, but miss the mark when it comes to the actual game.  With Emily Wants to Play this, thankfully was not the case.  Having coming across it hidden away in the PlayStation Easter sale for £2.49 I couldn't really argue, but I was surprised at just how good the game was.  

The game was originally released for Windows OS X on December 10th 2015, it was then released on the PlayStation Store on August 9th 2016 and on Xbox One on September 9th 2016.

The premise is that your are a Pizza Delivery Guy who has a delivery at a house.  Once inside the door locks and the fun begins, as Emily, a young girl who clearly has issues and her 3 dolls Kiki, a Wednesday Addams lookalike porcelain doll, Mr Tatters a scary ass clown and Chester a Ventriloquist dummy that reminds me of Slappy from Goosebumps decide to use you as their own personal plaything in a game that requires nerves of steel and dark coloured underwear.  

Walking through house when you arrive you find notes showing you the controls etc, but also ones that add narrative to the game such as pictures Emily has drawn of her and her "friends" in the basement, and also tapes that her mum has made to cope with her depression.  These tapes reveal that Emily has been kicked out of school for hurting another child and now has to stay at home.  These tapes expand on the story and help give the game an expansive back story which wouldn't be out of place in a modern horror film. 

The game reveals its characters during one hour in game intervals, first introducing us to Kiki at midnight.  There is a board in the Kitchen which says "Don't look at her" which I quickly found out was a trick.  At first you hear a little girls laugh, then she appears (being that I am scared of little girl ghosts this added to the game for me) then the fun begins. When I turned away, she quickly caught me with a jump scare which genuinely made me swear out loud while jumping off my seat.  After learning to look at her after what seems an age she disappears in a puff of smoke.  

Sometimes you will hear her laugh and look around in a panic trying to find her before she pounces and makes you question wearing white underwear that day,  Other times you will turn around in just enough time to see her inches away, reaching out with a face that I have been told looks like a Weeping Angel from Dr Who ( I hate Dr Who so i wouldn't know, it's a long story).  As the first "person" you meet in the game Kiki really does set the tone for the rest of the night.

At 1am it's the turn of Mr Tatters to enter the fray.  Obviously designed with people's fear of clowns in mind, Mr Tatters doesn't disappoint.  Announcing his presence with a sinister clown laugh and some mumbled words. Cue another jump scare worthy of making you crap yourself and we go again.

Now I wont go into what game Mr Tatters wants to play, as I don't want to give out all the spoilers.  But after the hours pass and you welcome Chester the freaky dummy and eventually Emily herself is when the game comes into its own.

Trying to go from room to room uncovering the secret to escaping is tense when you are expecting to hear a noise at anytime, and then frantically trying to survive before they jump out on you. At one point I heard Kiki and Mr Tatters in the same room, I just accepted I was dead and waited for the inevitable fright and the shouting at the screen that followed.  

The game is enjoyable and is well presented and the developer Shaun Hitchcock deserves all the credit for making this an immersive and frightening experience.  The game controls on console are a little clumsy sometimes, for example when try to turn lights on or off, but this slight annoyance is in most First Person games I play (probably my own failings really, I was never part of the PC master race).  It also has a release on Oculus Rift which no sane person could want to play, unless you want to test out the limits of your heart.

For the price and it being a one man indie game, Emily wants to Play delivers where many mainstream titles fail.  It is genuinely scary and immersive and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys Survival Horror games.  

This game will go down as one of the best purchases I have made from the store, and will stay on my PS4 for a long time.  

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Video Nasties and Me -

 The 1980's were a weird time to grow up.  Stuck in the middle of Thatcherism and Miner Strikes was a country coming out of the revolution of Punk music, still worried about how the youth were being corrupted. Morality was the big issue surrounding the youth of the time, and a scapegoat was needed to start a public outrage which would lead to draconian times returning to Britain.
I remember my parents watching TV and the hearing the words "Video Nasty" almost every night, and they would always talk in hushed tones about them (Note to all parents: if you don't want to peak your kids interest avoid the hushed tones). It was only when we got a VHS player that i started to understand what they were. 

The First VCR went on sale in the UK in 1979 and by 1984 a quarter of homes had one, but Hollywood did not embrace this new technology with open arms.  In fact the head of the Motion Picture Association of America told a 1982 hearing: 

“The VCR is to the American film producer... as the Boston Strangler is to the woman home alone.”, a bit extreme but you get his point.

So without the major blockbusters to release the market was flooded with low budget Italian Zombie and American slasher films which were bought cheaply and distributed by small businesses usually comprising of two or three people. Unfortunately for these businesses,rather than Margret Thatcher embracing them in her love of entrepreneurship and the free market, her strict morality saw films with names like The Evil Dead and Driller Killer as designed to offend.  Looking for allies in this fight she found them in Mary Whitehouse and The Daily Mail.
Mary Whitehouse was a school teacher in the 1960's whose strict christian values led her to campaign against anything she saw a morally wrong. This included the BBC, The Gay Times, Doctor Who, Chuck Berry's "My Ding- a-Ling" and Alice Cooper's "Schools Out". She founded the National Viewers' and Listeners' Association which led the campaign against these, but when the distributor Go Video decided to send a copy of Cannibal Holocaust to Mary, with a fake letter of disgust it did not gain the publicity they desired. This started a witch hunt which would lead to 72 films being banned and classed as Video Nasties.  

My first experience with a video nasty come when I ejected a tape to put in the Teen wolf cartoon my dad had rented for me (a forgotten classic in its own right).  When the tape came out the label read "The Evil Dead" and I was transfixed. What was this tape and where had it come from, as we didn't get it when we had been to the shop to rent my video.  As any 8 year old with an inquisitive mind would do, I put it back in and pressed play.  I saw about the first 2 minutes before my mum ran in and turned it off in a panic.  Phrases like "This is a grown up film" and "You shouldn't be watching that" were uttered as the video was ejected and placed into an unmarked case.  As I sat there watching my cartoon I couldn't get the images out of my head.  The camera that seemed to be flying low on the ground, the group of friends in the car singing and the near miss with a truck.  I wanted to know what happened and why it was called The Evil Dead.  It would be another 4 years before I discovered how to get my hands on the film again and also others that were on the list.

In my town we had a guy who used to drive a big yellow van called "Video Wheels" and every Saturday he would pull up in our street and we would go onto the van and choose a video to rent.  Now this guy really didn't care about how old you were when renting videos, and would always say "This is for your mum right?", and the answer was always "Yeah of course".  After renting Nightmare on Elm Street and Friday the 13th films over a period of weeks, I asked if he had The Evil Dead.  He looked around and quietly said "I have a few like that hang on" and pulled out a box.  It was full of Video Nasties i had heard of but never seen. That week I finally watched The Evil Dead and The Exorcist and my love for horror truly began.  

I rented more over a period of months and watched films like Driller Killer, Texas Chainsaw Massacre and I Spit on Your Grave, and while I enjoyed them I couldn't see what the real fuss was about.  Yes there were things in them that could have been cut for an actual release with classification, but not the uproar that led to Police raids on Videos Stores and the seizure of tapes (on one raid copies of the Dolly Parton film The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas were seized as they were believed to be a Porno!!).  

The films were graphic but did they deserve to be burnt by the lorry load? No, it was a knee jerk reaction based on a draconian morality which labelled anyone who watched the films as "Outsiders" and "Weirdos".  Nobody was possessed by the films like the Daily Mail reported, and the rise in violent crime in youth was not caused by the films, but they were used to whitewash the social inequalities and tension within the country due to Margaret Thatcher's attacks on British Industries and the working class.  

A screening of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was shown to the British Film Institute members and afterwards the Chief Censor James Ferman, in a similar vein to the Prosecutor in the Lady Chatterley's Lover case, remarked 
"It's ok for you Middle Class cinéastes to see this film, but what would happen if a factory worker in Manchester happened to see it?"
Morality was used as a stick to beat the Working Class with and with the banning of the films it had a pretty big stick.  

But in the end most of the films have had DVD releases and are available on the internet if you know where to look.  Re-watching them now some seem laughable, tame and a bit dumb.  But it should be a serious reminder of how moral panics are used to whitewash and provide simplistic explanations for complicated social problems, and the laws that are passed on the back of these tend to be arbitrary or draconian.  As Video Nasty documentary make Jake West says

"With access to the communications nowadays, its a lot harder for them to get away with that sort of thing"

 And it is true the internet has given a new medium for filmmakers to release their work, however how long will it be before another Moral Crusader picks up the the stick and starts to swing again?

Asian Urban Legends- The Creepy Tales of Our Nightmares!!!

Urban Legends are everywhere.  No matter where you live there will always be stories of Ghosts or a local legend that will chill you to your...