I seem to play video games 3-4 years after everyone else has already gotten sick of them. Part of it is just my contrary nature; when something is being hyped, I don’t want to like it… which helps me to continue to delude myself into seeing myself as an independent thinker. And I am in need of a tech upgrade before I can run any of the newer titles. So, Fallout 3 (released years ago) has finally made it to my desktop. And I love it.
If you don’t know anything about Fallout 3, look at things like this wikipedia article. Fallout 3 is to Oblivion what Gamma World was to D&D. Back in the Halcyon days of my youth, when I was less jaded and still liked things and video games needed you to put a quarter in to enjoy the sweet stick figures of games like Venture, we played D&D a lot. And we loved it. Then one day, my friend Alan picked up Gamma World, and that was even more fun, simply because the game lent itself to a certain black humor and had fewer pretensions to realism or seriousness (at least in our game group).
I really like the art direction that Bethesda used for Fallout 3. Ruined technology and cars looked like what people in 1950s America thought the future was going to look like — lots of rivets and vacuum tubes rather than transistors and solid state. Everywhere is dangerous. And there is some great old-timey music in the game, including Bob Crosby’s “Good Hearts and Gentle People.” When you shoot people and creatures, their limbs and heads tend to fly off if you score a critical. If you use V.A.T.S. (a special targeting system), they explode in slow motion and you get to watch it in 3rd person. And there are lots and lots of guns. My only complaint is that the monsters and NPCs are sometimes just pretty stupid, and I wish the game had a more extensive bestiary — thus far I have fought mole rats, mirelurks (which are crab people), human bandits, bloatflies (which are giant flies that shoot larvae at you like bullets) and giant scorpions… and as I get tougher, I suspect other monsters will be encountered, but, still, I’d like more variety. D&D spoiled me because there was always a new monster.
I’m only about 5-6 hours in, but having a blast. It is usually the simple things that make me happy.
Continuing my fascination with French horror cinema, recently I watched The Pack (2010), in French with subtitles, directed by Franck Richard and starring Yolande Moreau, Émilie Dequenne and Benjamin Biolay. It is a film that gets mostly bad reviews, but I enjoyed it despite a few gaping narrative holes. Spoilers abound; read no further if spoilers bother you.
The movie starts with a tattooed, chain-smoking punk rock girl named Charlotte driving across a really creepy and isolated part of the country, nursing a broken heart and listening to CDs. She has an encounter with some bikers who harass her and picks up a hitch hiker named Max. Note that these bikers are not ‘Tour-de-France’ bikers, they are leather-clad motor cycle riders. She and Max strike up a friendship of a sort. They arrive at a greasy diner where the bikers catch up with them; the rape of both Charlotte and Max seems eminent, but the owner of the diner, a tough old woman, pulls out a shotgun and tells them to bugger off.
Max goes into the bathroom to wash up after the fight and disappears. Charlotte decides there is a mystery afoot, talks to a fat, lewd and retired alcoholic policeman who is hanging around the diner and discovers what looks like a secret door in the washroom. She comes back that night, after the restaurant is closed, to find out what the secret door is about and to try and figure out what happened to Max. She gets hit on the head from behind and ends up in a cage in the cellar along with some other unfortunates.
Max and the old woman are, it turns out, are mother and son and have been capturing travelers and torturing them, draining their blood for nefarious purposes. Charlotte and ‘John Wayne’ (a fellow prisoner in a cowboy hat) end up hanging from a scaffold set up in front of a shack at a nearby abandoned mine site while mother and Max watch. During the night, eyeless goblins in coveralls (perhaps mutant miners or their offspring?) crawl out of the ground and drink their blood. ‘John Wayne’ is torn limb from limb and a weakened Charlotte is returned to her cage.
The fat, lewd, retired alcoholic policeman finds Charlotte’s car hidden under a tarp and decides that the woman who owns the diner has been lying to him about Charlotte having moved on. He breaks into the cellar and frees Charlotte. They kill/cage the evil mother and declare temporary truce with Max. Max tells them they have to take care of the ‘goblins’ and he and Charlotte set off for the mine while the fat lewd policeman gets strangled by the evil mother who isn’t dead after all.
Max and Charlotte arrive at the mine shack only to discover that the bikers have taken up residence there. The bikers announce that they intend to rape Max and Charlotte, but then evil mom shows up with her shotgun and starts shooting at them, blowing holes into their feeble shack. Max shows the biker that there is a stash of weapons hidden in the shack and they board the place up in anticipation of the blood goblins arriving and wanting their blood.
One of the bikers goes outside the shack and mortally wounds the mother. As he stands over her, gloating, the evil old woman tells him he is fucked and smiles as the blood goblins come out of the ground, rip out his heart and eat it in front of him. Max, Charlotte and Biker #2 blast away with shotguns while Biker #3 reads a novel. Unfortunately, the blood goblins won’t stay dead and they really want blood.
The shack ends up on fire, we don’t know what happened to Max and the bikers all die messy deaths. Charlotte manages to escape, but gets caught in a snare and tracked down by the blood goblins, one of whom starts either chewing on her thigh or giving her cunnilingus (or maybe both). Suddenly we see that she is pregnant and running the diner with Max, but, no, that is just a dream… The film then ends with her hanging from the scaffold, one of her legs chewed off, and she is obviously not long for this mortal coil.
I don’t think the origin of the blood goblins is ever explained. Max says something about his mother losing it after the rest of her sons were killed in mine accidents before the mine was shut down and that the miners had dug too deep buth if this means that the blood goblins are his brothers in some undead form is not made clear. When I saw Charlotte pregnant, I assumed we were going to find out that the blood goblins were the offspring of people in the area, but then it turned out to be a fucked up dream so never mind. The people in the film didn’t call them ‘blood goblins;’ that’s just my name for them.
The film is equal parts “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” and “The Hills Have Eyes” with some “Frontiers” thrown in for good measure. I can understand why it got bad reviews, but for Eurotrashsploitation horror cinema I found it pretty enjoyable. On my personal French Horror Film scale, not as good as The Horde or Frontiers, but better than Prey.
|Crabs on the attack in Grimrock.|
I don’t play a lot of computer games, but I have to admit that ‘Legend of Grimrock,’ which recently came to my attention via this blog, pulled me with its video trailer (see below). They somehow managed, in the few screen shots that I have seen, to make a video game that looks just like I used to imagine ‘the dungeon’ looking when I first started playing D&D so many years ago. Plus, the developers are trying hard to lure in the ‘old school’ players by allowing users to turn off the ‘auto-map’ function and let you map your own way through the maze using paper and pencil.
The premise, if I understand it correctly, is simple. You control a group of four prisoners who are dropped off at ‘Grimrock’ for unspecified crimes. Grimrock is a maze of tunnels, inhabited by monsters and filled with traps and puzzles, and you have to navigate your way through to survive (I think if you make it all the way through, you get out, so it is sort of like ‘Papillon’ but with a dungeon rather than an island). On your way through, you can scavenge food, armor, weapons and other supplies you will need to make it.
I doubt I will ever buy or play Grimrock, but I find it probably represents something ‘old’ being new again, and this aspect interests me.
Check out this excellent picture of devils from a medieval book I found here (well, there are saints and angels and Jesus in the picture, too, but the good guys look like a bunch of snooty killjoys; my eye is drawn to the much more expressive and happy-looking creatures on the bottom half of the page):
The devil in the middle, with the chicken feet hands and a face on his belly, has little faces on his (her?) knees, elbows and shoulders and the rest of the limb comes out of that faces open mouth. I’ve seen this curious trick of anatomy before in other medieval art before, and always liked it. It suggests to me two things:
- If I were into tattoos, wouldn’t it be cool to get demon faces tattooed on my joints?
- If his knee face or elbow face bites down, isn’t the rest of the limb going to fall off?
I’ve got a few commissions on the ‘to do’ list right now, which is good because we always need a cash infusion. Some are for Goodman Games DCC RPG adventures, some are for Barrowmaze 2 (I don’t know when that is coming out, but yours truly did the cover and some monster illustrations so far; more to come)… and there are some others. Plus I am still doing the ‘drawing a day’ notebook (sample from earlier in the year at right — some are better than this, many more are pretty uninspired).
Because the non-profit I was working for has had some funding difficulties, I have had to go back on the job market, and that is eating up a lot of my time and energy. I’ve got some feelers out and have been trying to network; I’m looking for a production/creative position in Detroit Metro; I have photoshop and Indesign and Creative Suite skills plus a pack of good references, but I have never been the best self-promoter and I suck at networking plus no one seems to be hiring so doing the job market thing is an uphill battle.
I was watching the 1980 movie, Maniac, the other night. After feeling beaten down by the job hunt, there is nothing like watching a movie about a fat, pockmarked guy who lives a Norman-Bates life in a tiny, shitty apartment and who goes out at night and kills women and scalps them to help cheer you up. In the killer’s apartment, in addition to all the mannikins adorned with women’s scalps (it’s like Neverland Ranch in there), there is an abstract drawing on one wall that looks really cool and I was trying to figure out where it was from and how I could get a better look at it. I was pausing the video but resolution was low and it was slightly out of focus — it looked like a drawing of polyps and entrails in the style of this fucked up Alberto Giacometti sculpture that I like, but in 2d and in color — like something that someone drew when they were on acid and then their mom threw it out and someone from the movie found it and said, “This looks suitably creepy; let’s hang it in the maniac’s apartment.” I was hoping to find a still from the movie where you can see it and post it to the web and (hopefully) get an ID from someone who knows these things, but no luck so far. Who knows? It might have been something that the setdresser picked up in a flea market (I met someone who does set dressing for films, video and photo shoots, and she said that in the 1980s she could get unbelievably great stuff at mid-western thrift markets; she used to fly in from NYC and they would just buy shit and ship it back to NYC for prop use… since ebay, though, her ‘golden days’ of thrifting are over). What the artwork was and where it came from will probably remain an intriguing mystery. I think in the still of the film posted here of the Maniac looking at the newspaper, the drawing in question would be above the bookshelf with the dolls on it behind him.
That is all. Now I have to shut up and get back to work.
Annie sent me this link: http://www.visualnews.com/2012/03/19/endearing-monster-drawings-pop-from-the-screen/
(edit: on the original page, the picture is animated so that it appears to move, but is only works sometimes here on wordpress, goddamn it, so you will have to click on the link to get the full effect. There are a lot of them and and explanation as to how they were animated from static pics so take a look).
I’ve just finished a bunch of drawings for a couple of different projects and need to take a breather today. A relative who still has high hopes for my future keeps sending me stuff to read about professional development, so that’s on the docket for today along with some more drawing and some housecleaning. So far today I have done shopping, my drawing-a-day and walked on the closed-for-the-winter golf course with the dogs. Life is exciting at Chez Limpey.
At right we see a witch about to give Satan ‘the kiss of shame.’ There is nothing I enjoy more than a good-old-fashioned perverted woodcut — speaking of which, have you ever heard of the artist, Tom Huck? You can thank me later. Warning: Link is probably NSFW by most standards, but that is kind of the point so there you go. If I had $1000.00 burning a hole in my pocket, I might do Huck’s bootcamp some time, but, alas, I do not. Anyone want to sponsor me? I’ll send you a woodcut!
A few nights ago I watched about the first five minutes of Zombie Apocalypse. I used to think that making a basically entertaining zombie movie could not be terribly hard… but there are so many really, really, really shitty ones out there (and I am not including ones made by teenagers or fans for a lark), so I think the real problem is that there must be a market for shitty zombie movies. Ah well. Be warned: there is more than one movie out ther under this name — I saw the Syfy one with Ving Rhames.
OK, apropos of nothing important, isn’t this a shitty headline for a news story?: “Hundreds honor student killed in Ohio shooting.” I saw the headline in my news feed and had to read it two times to convince myself that it wasn’t trying to claim that hundreds of honor students were killed in a shooting in Ohio. Why can’t people write good headlines?
Finally, I’m still doing the drawing-a-day thing. Thius is one of my recent ones, which has a funny story behind it. My S.O., Annie, was at a conference with an NPR radio personality and she was going to give him a ride somewhere when she realized that her car was really horribly messy and said something like, “I’m sorry, but my car is so disgusting you will probably want to ride with someone else.” “This I must see,” he replied, so she showed him her car (which was filled with garbage, doghair and spilled leftover Indian food) and he said, “It looks like the anus of hell.” Since then, her ride has occasionally been referred to as, “The Anus of Hell” or “The Anus.” Which dovetails nicely into my fascination with the portrayal of hell in medieval manuscripts where devils and demons are usually escorting the damned into some giant devil’s mouth where they will suffer for all eternity. Good stuff. If MY version of hell, the bad people get stuffed in the devil’s mouth and the really, really, really bad get jammed up his anus. Think on that as you eat your Sunday dinner, you sinners.
I’m tired and busy, so only have enough energy for an embed:
Check out the grotty-ass-breath teeth on King Ju!
I had today (Monday) off because of Reverend MLK’s birthday (observed). Unfortunately, I have a touch of flu I picked up from my co-workers (thanks!) and felt like crap. I got some drawing done in the morning, but definitely felt off my game. After walking the dogs for about 45 minutes, I had to go back to bed.
About the only good thing that happened is I found a huge collection of 133 C.A. Smith stories for the e-reader at $1.99 via Amazon.
I’ve also been enjoying this online collection of C.A.S’s artworks.
Like most good ideas, I stole this one from someone else (Theo Ellsworth at Thoughtcloud Factory News). Like Theo, I will be making a drawing (or trying to remember to make at least 1 drawing) per day in my “sketchbook diary.” I’ve been doing a lot of drawings for other people lately and the emphasis for this sketchbook will just be on drawing whatever I want, keeping the eye and brain entertained and doodling out my stray thoughts and daydreams. I’ve always wanted to keep a journal but never managed to stick with it; hopefully this one will stick.
For the 1st day of 2012, I drew a space-man on the moon (top half of page) and for the 2nd day of 2012 I drew the aliens that lived underground and are rolling their eyes at the earthman who claims to have ‘discovered’ their planet/moon I guess:
For days 3, 4 and 5 I did the following:
Beneath the guy getting shot through the chest will go the drawing for 1/6/2012 and so on. I’d like to try for at least a 1/2 page per day — or more — and give myself the option of either continuing the drawing from an adjoining space (like the man from today is getting shot by the Voltaman I drew on 1/3/2012) or starting something new or just doodling randomly.