Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Gremlins Vs Critters: Critters

Now to look at the other side of this match-up! In the Blue corner, the ever-insatiable Critters! If you need a reminder of the other side, the Gremlins, click here.

The Crites have four movies to draw from, and are much more focused on killing than the Gremlins. In doing research online for this series, I have found a few other places that have tried to answer this question of who would win, and most of them put the win in the Crites' column.

I'm still going to go over their abilities, strengths, and weaknesses here though, to ensure the match-up is as accurate as I can make it.

Strengths

1. Eating Machines.

The Crites are pure eating machines, with bottomless stomachs and their huge mouths have three sets of razor sharp teeth. They will eat literally anything they think could be food, and they also use their teeth and mouths to get to prey. They'll chew through doors, eat down chairs, and shred tires to stop potential food from escaping. In addition, they can go into a kind of 'Piranha mode' where a small group of them can strip a body of flesh in a matter of seconds.

2. Tranquilizer Spines

Probably the Crites most unique ability, is that they have spines among their fur that can be launched like darts. The spines are strong enough to pierce steel, and are coated with a venom that puts other living things to sleep when struck. A single spine has enough venom on it to put a fully grown man to sleep. That being said though, it doesn't seem to be a venom that can kill. People hit with multiple spines fall asleep faster, but even after being hit with a dozen, they recover fairly quickly once the spines are removed.

3. Ball form

The Crites arms and legs are short and stubby, so they get around by curling up into a ball and rolling and bouncing along after prey. In this form, they are extremely durable, taking hits from baseball bats, and other objects and simply bouncing off of them. They can also fall for substantial distances without being hurt. In addition, they can spin in place, supercharging themselves for a speed boost or to let them bounce straight up from a stationary position.

4. Growth

One of the Crites rarer abilities is that if they actually manage to eat enough of something that actually counts as food, they can grow to much larger sizes. The average Crite is about the size of a soccer ball when it's curled up, but the example we saw in the movie produced one that stood over six feet tall standing upright. It certainly stands to reason that with enough food, they could continue to grow and reach truly monstrous sizes. This would takes time though, and tons of food.


Weaknesses

1. Intelligence

Crites aren't very smart. As I said, they're eating machines, and they don't discriminate very well between things that are food and things that aren't. They're happy to bite into electrical cables, swallow explosives. and down random chemicals. They don't know how things work, and get caught in machines pretty easily. They also can't recognize things that are dangerous until they see one of their fellow Crites go down from it. Even then, they aren't quick to run away and tend to get stuck in place for a few moments.

2. Durability

This goes along with the lack of intelligence. They're bottomless pits when it comes to things that are edible, but they can easily eat things that kill them. The aforementioned explosives, electrical cables, and chemicals are all things that killed them after being eaten. The lack of durability extends to their outsides too. They've been killed by everything from being stepped on to a falling ceiling fan, and they die to firearms as easily as just about any other animal.



There we go! The combatants have been examined. Both sides have strengths and weaknesses that can either lead them to victory, or a crushing defeat. Check back next week when I go over one possible scenario for a confrontation between these two terrible monsters. What do you think of the strengths and weaknesses? Have I missed anything? Do you have any predictions for the fight?

~ Shaun

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Gremlins Vs Critters: Gremlins

So, here we go, looking at the first of the combatants. Gremlins. You can also click here to check out their opponents, the Crites.


Theatrically, these guys are the underdogs, with only two movies to their name. There is a lot of screen time for both them and their abilities though. So there's a lot of information here to go over.

I'm going to start with the preamble that we're talking about the Gremlins after their cocoons, not the furry little Mogwais. Otherwise they would pretty much be the equivalent of popcorn chicken for the Crites.

Strengths

1. Basic physicality.

These are little monsters, so they come pre-equipped with the textbook razor sharp claws and teeth. They also feel very little pain, and can shrug off wounds that would kill other creatures. In Gremlins 2, for example, we see one of them get riddled with a machine gun. The creature's response was to grab something to drink, just to watch the liquid pour out of the holes and laugh about it with the other Gremlins that were there.

Gremlins are also disproportionately strong for their size, able to wield chainsaws, throw saw blades hard enough to embed them in walls, knock out grown men with a single punch, and rip 2-inch electrical conduit out of the wall, live wires included.

2. Mutations

So, in Gremlins 2, we found out that the creatures are extremely malleable with their genetic code and appearance. Several mutated after downing laboratory-quality distilled hormones and essences. They grew wings, turned into vegetables, got smarter, and others. Now, it should be pointed out that we saw easily a dozen Gremlins drinking from different vials and flasks, so a mutation isn't a guarantee. Going from the number of mutations vs the number of Gremlins, odds seem to be about 1 in 3 of a mutation with extremely high quality materials. Still, if there happen to be any such liquids around during the battle, the Crites might find themselves facing quite a different opponent.

3. Intelligence.

Gremlins are known for messing up electronics and machinery. They seem to have an almost 'sixth-sense' for knowing exactly how to break something or to make it malfunction. Knowing just the right way to break something at just the right time, might turn the tide if they get into a sticky situation.

They also have a basic intelligence. They know how to work things like elevators, guns, chainsaws, and theater projectors. So anything that's handy, they're likely to use.

4. Reproduction

All it takes is one Gremlin and a water source. With just a single drop of water, one Gremlin becomes two in just a couple minutes. Increase the water, and you increase the Gremlins to a ratio of five or six for each one you started with. As long as the water keeps flowing, each new Gremlin is capable of giving 'birth' in the same way as soon as it can stand. So it stands to reason that the Crites need to finish this fight quickly before any pipes get broken, or they going to be overwhelmed with sheer numbers.

Weaknesses

1. Intelligence

Despite their innate knowledge of machinery, Gremlins aren't particularly smart. Being that they don't feel a lot of pain, they have no problem walking into situations that include their own dismemberment or death, and they don't feel any need to take cover or retreat from most dangers.

While Gremlins enjoy mischief and are generally malicious, they aren't actually out to kill or hurt people. They do it for fun and for laughs. Now, I say generally, because every so often, a Gremlin pops out which is particularly nasty. These tend to be the leaders, directing traffic to achieve maximum damage and destruction. In the movies, these were seen as Stripe in the first movie, and Mohawk in the second, although Mohawk ended up being usurped by the Brain Gremlin. Without a leader, many Gremlins are just as happy drinking beer, partying, and watching musicals as they are biting and scratching people.

2. Sunlight / Bright lights

This is how you kill Gremlins. Either direct sunlight or exceptionally bright lightbulbs. First they start to smoke, then they burn, then they melt into green and brown puddles, bones and all. It's also one of the few things they fear and that inflicts actual pain on them. So if you want to send the Gremlins running for cover, this is what you use.

So, that's pretty much my rundown of the Gremlins side of this fight. Do you agree with all my points? Is there anything I left out? Let me know in the comments, on my Facebook page, or my Twitter. I would love to hear from any and all opinions on this matter!

Check back next week when we go over the Crites!

~ Shaun

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Gremlins Vs. Critters

So, a lot of places have done VS. series of one kind or another. Go see if you can find Deadliest Warrior for a great one. A few dedicated Horror sites have even already pitted classic monsters against each other. Plus there's movies for Aliens VS Predator, and Freddy VS Jason.


So, there's one pairing off that I've been thinking about for a while, that I want to go over. I don't have any programs for running simulations or anything fancy like that, but I can go over the monsters themselves, argue for who I think would win, and open the forum for discussion.

So, as you may have guessed from the title of this post, the face-off I'm talking about is Gremlins Vs. Critters.

Both are movies made in the mid-1980's which feature small monsters running around terrorizing towns. Both are really good movies and worth watching if you're into Horror.


Now, I'll be honest, I want to take this about as seriously as possible (which doesn't mean TOO much considering how off-the-wall the combatants can be). Which means I'm probably going to break this into a few different parts. This post is going to go into the basics of the movies and the monster's backgrounds. Then each beast will get a post detailing it's abilities, strengths, and weaknesses. Finally, one more post will explain how I see their fight coming out. 

So, the ground rules for the eventual bout.

1. Considering these are small creatures, that typically run in groups or hoards, I've decided to make this fight a group match. 10 vs 10 or 25 vs 25. We'll see if the monster posts help me figure out exactly how many a side is actually fair.

2. To keep the fight contained, and to ensure retreat is not an option, I'm going to set this inside a building. Creatures can run and hide for a bit, but there is no permanent escape. 

3. There will be innocent bystanders trapped inside with them. Because what kind of horror movie monster fight would this be without people dying who have nothing to do with it? 

So, stay tuned, because things will probably get interesting the next couple weeks!

~ Shaun

Monday, June 26, 2017

Future Fads: Kaiju

2018 - 2019 are going to be BIG years. I mean that literally. Godzilla 2: King of the Monsters, Pacific Rim 2: Uprising, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, are all movies coming out that feature giant monsters destroying things and eating people. (I'm assuming Jurassic World will at least have a T-Rex or some other excessively large predator chasing cars.)

OMGOMGOMGOMG!!! I can't WAIT!!!

Still, that's six months away at least, why bring it up now?

Because it's a window. For a time next year at least, there's going to be a huge push for Kaiju / giant monster stories. Depending on how well those movies are made and do in the theaters, people will be looking for more. A large part of that demand will be filled with books. Likely novels, and anthologies. Now, disclaimer, I'm not any kind of forecast expert. I'm just trying to base this off common sense and what I've seen in the past.

Pacific Rim came out in 2013, and the good American Godzilla came out in 2014, and both times, for the next few months, all you heard about was kaiju / giant monsters. There were cheap knock-off movies, books, comics, and toys. Even if it was just these two movies alone, it would likely result in a huge boost for this sub-genre, especially with these being sequels and making expanded universes.

But in addition to those two movies, we also have Jurassic World 2, and Rampage coming out. The timeline for releases is currently set like this.

Pacific Rim: Uprising - February 23, 2018
Rampage - April 20, 2018
Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom - June 22, 2018
Godzilla: King of the Monsters - March 22, 2019

That's a lot of giant monsters, which should keep the fad running well into 2019. And yes, I do think this will be a pretty major fad.

I have no intention to just be jumping on the bandwagon. I intend to be holding onto the hood or the roof.

See, here's the thing. I'm sure once the first movie hits, we'll see the wave start as people rush to pump out books. They'll pound through 50,000 words in a couple months, probably find some cheap editor (or use no editor at all!) and find some quick and ready cover art to slap on and drop their work into Kindle. Even if someone works hard, takes their time, and does everything proper, it's going to take six months to a year to get it published. At best, if you wait until the first movie hits theaters, you're getting out at the mid-way point of the fad. At worst, the movies will crash and burn, and the fad will languish.

However, even if the fad languishes and dies in short order, if you take the time to do things properly and write a good book, it'll transcend the fad and find success on its own. If the fad takes off, it'll simply take your work with it to new heights.

So, if you can see a fad coming like this one looks to be looming, and you have a story that would fit right in, why wouldn't you aim for it? That's what I'm going to do. Right now, while I have time to get it right. If you love giant monsters as much as I do and you're a writer, I suggest you do the same.

Can you really predict the fads of the future? Eh. I don't really know if this is predicting or not, but it's not hard to see which way the wind's blowing right now.

~ Shaun


Monday, June 19, 2017

Video Game Review: Prey


I'm just going to say this right out of the gate. Prey is the spiritual descendant of the Dead Space series.

Prey is a sci-fi, action, horror game that places you in the body of Morgan Yu. You're one of the owners of a company controlling a space station in the orbit of Earth, working on a new type of technology called neuromods. Once used, a neuromod allows you to learn all the information and knowledge to learn a specific skill. Always wanted to play guitar? There's a neuromod for that. Of course, there's a little problem with the neuromods. If they're removed, it resets your brain to the moment before you put it in. So, if you have a neuromod in your head for 5 years, then take it out, not only do you lose the neuromod, you lose every memory of the past 5 years.

So, of course you wake up with a degree of amnesia on a ship where most of the people are missing, equipment is broken, and you stumble across the occasional corpse as you explore your surroundings, putting the pieces together.

Let's not forget the monsters. Black masses of tentacles which can take the form of anything they want. Mimics. Nothing can be trusted, which includes coffee cups, boxes, chairs, and even items you want like ammo and medkits.

This inability to trust anything makes even the brightly lit hallways and offices of the station tense with possible jump-scares around every corner as they reveal themselves and attack. Later on, it's even more tense as you encounter bigger monsters who patrol the rooms in addition to the mimics.

The story is incredible as you fight for your life, fight monsters, piece together what happened on the station, and you even get to make the choice for whether other survivors live or die.

To be honest, that's about all that really sets the game apart. It's first-person, with standard controls, and the environments, while well-done, don't stand out. While the station is set with different areas, and there are noticeable differences between the Arboretum, Lobby, and Crew Quarters, they don't really FEEL different. The lines between textures are very crisp though, if you smash a holographic window, the difference in layers between the window and what's behind it are crisp and look freaking awesome. Seriously, the first time I saw that, I just walked back and forth for a few minutes admiring it, because the view changed exactly as you expect it would depending on the angles you looked at it at.

The sound is excellent. Music cues are very subdued and uncommon, allowing you to focus on the myriad sounds of the station around you, which is very life-like. You can hear fluids rushing through pipes, gases spraying through leaks, fires burning, your own footsteps, and the skittering of little tentacle feet all around you as that box you just walked by hurries to a corner and becomes something else. Definitely wear a good pair of headphones for this game!

Enemy AI isn't bad, but they're not generally going to be outsmarting you. They're made to give you a chance to sneak up on them, but they can figure out how to maneuver through rooms to get to you if you give them a chance. They also do occasionally do some pretty dumb things too. In one instance, I was facing off against the Nightmare pictured above. I hid until he completely lost track of me, then he proceeded to stand directly in front of where burning gas was spewing out of a pipe and burn to death while I watched. Was hilarious, to be honest, but probably needs work when one of the biggest baddies in the game pretty much suicides itself.

There's also an excellent crafting system here, where you can break down literally anything at all you pick up, and then get raw materials that can be made into weapons, ammo, medkits, and whatever else you can find the blueprints for.

I love this game. I'm in the process of completing every side quest just to stretch it out, which, I've now been playing for over 25 hours, so if you want it to last, it's got the ability to be a long game.
It's billed as a sci-fi-action, but there are a lot of horror elements to it. The atmosphere, though mostly brightly lit, is creepy and tense. The crafting system is simple but makes sense and requires you to do some work for it. The enemies are varied, and can get the jump on you at any time. The story is deep, multi-faceted, and gives you real choices to make which can (seemingly, I haven't actually beaten it yet!) affect the ending you get. Seriously, if Dead Space 4 ever comes around, I want their team to take a good, hard look at this game.

While some aspects of this game are fairly generic and standard, the rest more than makes up for it and creates an experience we haven't seen since the first Dead Space came out. Seriously. Get this game. Play this game!



~ Shaun