Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Movie Review: Godzilla: King of the Monsters

Since Legendary's Godzilla came out in 2014, I've been waiting for this to release, and now it's finally here!

And it's so nice to see filmmakers not just taking a property and twisting it into what they want, but paying homage and respect to a property's origins and keeping it as it's supposed to be.

This is a Godzilla movie. This is a Godzilla movie as it should be with the power of Hollywood behind it. But Big G isn't the only one in the movie, they brought back the main gang from the classic Toho lineup.

Godzilla, Ghidorah, Mothra, and Rodan all have starring roles in this movie. The story brings in a group of eco-terrorists, who believe setting all the titans free to wipe out mankind is the only way to save the Earth from the pollution and climate devastation we've wrought. They view the titans as the defenders of the Earth, here to respond to the 'fever' that is humanity.

Unfortunately, the first titan they awaken is Ghidorah, who turns out to be much more destroyer than defender. Unfortunately, as one of the most powerful titans, he awakens and commands the others to help him in his destruction. Godzilla isn't one to let his reign go unchallenged, however, and battles the three-headed beast more than once, ultimately facing Ichi, Ni, and Kevin (the director's names for Ghidorah's three heads) in a final showdown in Boston, with Mothra and Rodan providing a side bout before Mothra gives Godzilla the assist, and ultimately the win.

Now, that's about it for the story, barring a plotline following a family quarrel between a husband and wife that work/worked for Monarch; but don't let that fool you. This movie is packed with action, humanity, and fun. Is it going to win an Oscar? Probably not, unfortunately, but there's more to movies than awards.

If you're a real fan of Godzilla, this movie has so many easter eggs and hints of the future to make you squee. While Legendary made other titans of their own to populate the world with, there's still hints that other Toho favorites may pop up in the future.

The most obvious is the military's creation and use of a weapon called the Oxygen Destroyer. Not only is this a call-back to the very first movie where that was how they killed Godzilla, it is also the device that births the monster Destroyah, one of Godzilla's deadliest foes.

In the movie, we see them taking a 'Hollow Earth' storyline, and see Godzilla resting in a massive underwater temple obviously built specifically for him. This could be a vehicle to bring in other titans who originally came from deep within the earth, such as Megalon. (Nobody really wants to see that though.)

The revelation that Ghidorah isn't part of Earth's natural order and is likely from space also comes up, opening the door to alien races showing up with their own titans in tow. I certainly would love to see what Legendary would do with permission to use Gigan.

Anyway, the next chapter in the Monsterverse is Godzilla vs Kong, scheduled to be released March 13th, 2020. While story details are still scarce, my money is on G and Kong having a good wrestling match before being forced to work together against a bigger threat. But we'll just have to wait and see, won't we?

~ Shaun

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Video Game Review: Resident Evil 2 (2019)

I played the original Resident Evil 2 on the N64 in 1998. It was the first official horror game I ever got to play and it freaked me out pretty good. The controls, the monsters, the rationing of ammo and health items, were completely unlike anything else I'd ever played before. It was a singular experience that took many years to find a game that could replicate the feelings of real anxiety and trepidation RE2 caused.

21 years later, a remake of that classic game emerges and shows why the game was so awesome.

It's been so long since I played the original, that I honestly forgot how the game went. Some parts, like the police station, lickers, and the Tyrant were easy memories, but the underground lab, the multiple fights with William Birkin, and many of the sections with little Sherry felt brand new.  For a bit, I was more comfortable calling this Resident Evil 2.5, rather than a remake, that's how different it felt to me.

I won't delve too deeply into the story, since most people are probably familiar with it, and with the later adventures of the characters, but here's the basics.

Leon Kennedy is on his way to the Raccoon City police department to start his first day on the job as an officer. On the way into the city he picks up Claire Redfield, who is also on her way to the police station to look for her brother Chris, who is part of the RCPD's special S.T.A.R.S. unit. (You know about Chris as one of the characters of the first Resident Evil.) As they get into the city, they get separated, and manage to make their way to the police station.

With the zombie outbreak in full swing, punctuated by mutations creating such monsters a Lickers, undead dogs, and a giant alligator, they have to work separately to find ways out of the city. They find other survivors, delve under the city to a secret lab where the outbreak actually started, and eventually face the architect of the virus that caused everything.

The graphics are everything you've come to expect from the current generation of gaming consoles and computers, but seeing such classic creatures in their new high-definition form feels like they've really pushed the envelope. Environments are extremely detailed, but lack any notable easter eggs that I could find, which made me a little sad. 

Music and sound are artfully crafted, never overpowering the moments and filling levels with ambiance that ups the creep factor. That you can hear the Tyrant's footsteps while he's nearby, even though he's not in the same room is an incredibly nice touch and really makes you feel like you're being hunted. 

The biggest differences to the classic version are the controls and cameras. Gone are the clunky tank controls and security camera views which made the original a beast to play at times. In their places we have much more standard 3rd-person controls with an over-the-shoulder view, which puts you much closer to the action and gives you more of a sense that you're in control of the character you're currently following. 

They don't stop there, though. They've even come up with some original DLC for people who can't get enough, following some of the people (and bodies) you find while playing through as Leon and Claire. To top it off, Capcom has said that they're willing to consider doing a similar remake for Resident Evil 3 if this one does well enough. Which I'm pretty sure it has. 

If you played the original, or like horror games in ANY style, you'll love this game. It gets under your skin and will creep you out in ways few games do these days. I promise. 

~ Shaun

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

The Ghostbusters we could have had

With all the fuss about the Ghostbusters Re-Reboot, I wanted to drop an idea I've had for a VERY looong time.

I was a kid when the original Ghostbusters came out in 1984, and it was easily one of my favorite movies. I loved the classic cartoon series, and when Ghostbusters 2 came out, the slime-filled bathtub quickly became a source of nightmares for me. But while I loved Ghostbusters 2 minus the nightmares, one thought always nagged at me that I really wanted to see explored.

Walter Peck.

While he did return in the animated series, and actually came back in a significant role in the comics, I think a whole sequel could have been built around his character.

I'm going to start with what we know about his character. He's obviously smart, if holding a very narrow view of the world around him. He's arrogant and vindictive. He's also a smartass, though not on the level of Peter Venkman. So, while not a fleshed-out character, he's not a cardboard cut-out, there's more than enough there to work with.

So now we go to the Original Ghostbusters. Peck works for the EPA, and obviously does not believe in ghosts, calling them hallucinations brought on by the busters drugging people. He insists on having the containment unit shut down, which then explodes, releasing thousands of spirits across New York and heralding the arrival of Gozer. He even follows the movie's events to the apartment building where the Ghostbusters fight the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, where he gets absolutely drenched in melted marshmallow goo.

Now, let's talk about the obvious immediate aftermath of the movie. Peck would absolutely be fired from his position in the EPA. He would also have no choice but to re-evaluate his disbelief in the supernatural, either doubling-down on his belief that everything was a hoax, or accepting that ghosts are real. Or his mind just breaks with the conundrum of it all.

Pretty sure his mind just breaks. Look back at the end of Ghostbusters. He's standing there, covered in marshmallow slime, and he's laughing. Laughing. Pretty sure he's lost it.

So what do you think an egomaniac who was just driven insane by supernatural events with a lot of time on his hands does? Well, first, he's probably going to be looking for more proof of the supernatural, second, he's probably going to look for ways to get revenge on the people that lost him his job and helped drive him insane.

So he goes in search of powerful supernatural artifacts, and eventually finds himself in possession of a book, possibly even the Necronomicon, that details how to summon and command ghosts and demons. Thus, he begins amassing a supernatural army to return to New York with to wreck his vengeance upon the Ghostbusters. 

Thus begins a cat-and-mouse game of Peck summoning more ghosts and more powerful demons to kill the Ghostbusters, while they study the frequency and origins of the sudden surge in supernatural activity to determine what's going on. Eventually, Peck slips up and reveals himself, and the Ghostbusters have to track him down to get the book away from him. In the final confrontation, Peck summons a demon too powerful for him to control, and it breaks loose, forcing the Ghostbusters to not only try and capture Peck, but to stop the demon before it decimates New York. 

I think that would have been an awesome addition to the Ghostbuster's franchise, bringing back an old villain, introducing objects of supernatural power, and giving us a great movie to enjoy. It seems like such an obvious thread to grasp too. Unfortunately, we'll probably never know. 

Still, it's nice to imagine what could have been, sometimes.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Transcendent is out!

I announced my short story sale a while ago, but now I get to announce that the anthology Transcendent by Transmundane Press which contains my story "Sunday School" is now available to the public!

Rest assured, this is a massive tome, with over fifty short stories to keep you reading for a while. In addition to the stories, there's also some appropriately creepy art inside to go along with some of the pieces, so there's more than words to make your skin crawl.

Reviews are starting to come in, with 5-star ratings on Amazon and Goodreads. It's also been reviewed by Kellie Haulotte over on, where "Sunday School" even got a specific call-out!

Not a bad way to start the year, even if I do say so myself.

On another note, I bought myself a nice new desktop to be my specific writing computer, and I'm already loving it. I'm already working on a few new short pieces for specific submission calls, so here's hoping I have a few more anthologies to talk about this year!

Anyway, thanks for sticking by me all this time. I'll be trying really hard to bring you all some new, fun stuff to read this year.

~ Shaun

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

A new piece in the works!

It's been a while, it has. Far too long. There are reasons for that. But here's to hoping things can pick back up a bit.

First, the bad news. Well, my depression's been flaring up a lot lately. It's made it hard to work on anything, even the projects I have real responsibilities to. Sales the past month have slumped. My laptop decided to update when it need to which then locked my Microsoft Office programs, which means I had to go in, and pay to unlock it before I could work on anything, even when I felt up to it.

It's hardly all bad though, I have a few exciting prospects to make sure you all know about.

This one you'll know if you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, but I'm writing for an actual Horror website now! (Now being the past year, give or take...). I've been writing for the website! Go check out some of the articles I have up! Meeting and working with some great people on there, to be sure.

While this month's sales aren't hot, they were over the summer. Class 5 is up to 26 ratings and 10 reviews for an average of 3.58 out of 5 stars, and Hannah (which got new cover art over the summer) has 4 ratings and 2 reviews, for an average of 4.5 out of 5 stars!

And for a little bit of extra bonus news, that I've been sitting on for the past several months to ensure things work out, I sold my first short story! That's right! I'm announcing that my short story "Sunday School" was accepted to be published in an anthology titled Transcendent by Transmundane Press! Edits are being worked on now, with a release hopefully by the end of the year. I've got a little more than just news though, check out this cover art!

I'll try to post a little more often, so I hope you'll stick with me while I ride out this rough patch.