Mike’s Rant: Driveclub – Membership Revoked

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Back before the PS4 was released, Sony announced a game called Driveclub from Evolution Studios that was to be available at launch. I was excited about this for a couple of reasons. First was that Evolution was responsible for the Motorstorm series on PS3. Those games looked great, had a real sense of excitement during races, and had an AI that would do anything to win. Second, Driveclub would be offered for free as part of the PS Plus Instant Game Collection, albeit a watered down version with less tracks and cars but with still enough meat on it to earn a platinum trophy.

Sounds great right? Problem is that Driveclub went on to be delayed from launch to launch window all the way to October 2014. Almost a year after launch. A reasonable person would think an extra year of development could only help right? Well you’d be wrong. Once the game hit retail most of it’s social features, all the ones it touted, were (are) non-functional. Going on nearly a month now since the game released. Server issues, netcode, I don’t know and apparently neither does Evolution or Sony. So now they’ve gone and postponed the PS+ edition until further notice.

I am Jack’s sense of entitlement.

Now I can hear you saying “just go buy retail if you want to play it so bad”.

Allow me to retort – go fuck yourself.

Why should I or anyone pay for a game that doesn’t work? Also, it’s not just about Driveclub, it’s about PSN as a whole. We’re asked to pay for online services now and we’re treated to what seems like weekly outages. For all the shit I’ve talked about the Xbox 360 console, rare was the occasion that I had an issue with Xbox Live.

Lately I’ve been wondering a lot about getting an Xbox One. MS has stepped up with some great bundles and now a $50 price drop. With Sunset Overdrive out, Halo Collection coming, and a working AAA racer in Forza Horizon 2; maybe now is the time I make that jump.

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31 Days of Our Favorite Horror Movies, Day 31

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The Poughkeepsie Tapes  (2007, dir. John Erick Dowdle)

This movie is a weird one. This is a movie that I remember reading about back in 2007, when it was making rounds at film festivals and seemingly had divided many in the film community. Some thought it to be utterly terrifying because of the nature and filming techniques used, and others found it to be derivative and boring. I vote on the side of terrifying. It is another entry into the genre of found footage, and yes, over the course of this listing, I have indeed listed many of my favorites as found footage movies.

I personally find the genre interesting because of the inherent “trust” that people seem to place in visual media, specifically video media. If it’s captured on tape, it must be true. I think that the case with this movie is that because of the different video artifacts like the jump cuts, static inserts, and blanched out color that could match the era-specific technology, the setting is all the more unsettling. The violence alone is off-putting at time, but some of the ways that the hidden killer talks to people on camera, often making up lies about why he is recording them, those conversations are just icky and sickening.

They are icky and sickening because we all know as viewers where the narrative will go – someone gon’ get carved up. And some of the killings are relatively brutal, but the most disturbing moments to me are the ones that seem to offer some sort of hope for the victim to escape. Oftentimes the killer will leave the room and keep recording, giving just a small enough window for someone to make a crucial decision of whether or not to attempt to escape or fight back. Those moments of any decision are few, but they’re powerful because it gives a glimmer of hope that if they might be able to escape or fight back, we as viewers just might have a chance the same way, were we ever in a similar horrific situation.

And I know that most of us dismiss these types of tropes in movies as, “oh, well I’ll never be dumb enough to get into a car if I needed a ride,” or “I’ll never pull over to help someone who I don’t know, let alone talk to strange people…” I get it. Mike has expressed his distaste for my penchant of talking to people who sidle up to me and begin talking to me out of the blue. He has a point, as my acceptance of conversation could be the beginning of a bad situation. Who knows?  And those moments of reality where things could go south really quickly are where the terror lies for me, simply because of the plausibility. Anything could happen to any of us at any moment. And who knows what type of sociopaths lurk among us.

The true horror that I find is that we never know what or who truly lurks behind a facade of everyday perceived normalcy.

And for some reason that I’m not quite sure about, this movie has yet to have an official home video release in any format, other than a VOD stint that is discontinued. I read rumors of issues of distribution and even concerns of copycats. Whatever the reason, it’s difficult to find, but not impossible. You just gotta look around and it might be right in front of you.

Happy Halloween!

31 Days of Our Favorite Horror Movies, Day 30

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The Believers  (1987, dir. John Schlesinger)

This is another gem that I saw in the summer of 1987, and it scarred me for years. This came at a time in my life when I was very interested in all things occult, and conversely, all things having to do with demons and Satanism scared the living shit out of me. I remember hearing stories of people fainting during screenings of this movie, but now I think back on that and consider those stories as elaborate marketing ploys. As a kid who was devout Catholic and had a healthy sense of fear and curiosity of all things esoteric, this movie was almost made just for me.

The over-arching idea of an all-powerful cult, a cult that not only was “different” or “foreign” to me, but also practiced human sacrifice really unnerved me and frightened me the most as a kid. I remember hearing stories in the 80s about kids being kidnapped and killed in the name of Satan during the height of the “Satanic Panic.” Naturally, my cousin and I had to go see this movie. We were both horror film fans, and his older brothers introduced me to Death Metal from Sweden, and many of those rockers were self-proclaimed Satanists. Basically, the late 80s was a time when I could have easily joined a cult and served in the service of the Dark Lord, as my mother was often afraid would happen.

Aside from the overtly demonic elements of this movie, the paranoia, the sense of “there’s nowhere to turn” and the hallucinogenic aspects of the movie, the opening scene still fucks me up. This opening scene starts simply enough, and then milk is spilled. Gotta clean up the milk that is now a puddle on the floor. While cleaning up the puddle of milk, the mom in the scene also addresses a smoking and hissing coffee maker. When she touches the power button she’s immediately jolted with voltage and begins to be slowly electrocuted while her family looks on in horror and helpless ness. I literally didn’t go near spilled milk or coffee makers for about five years. And I always watched where I was standing when messing with appliances.

That’s the message of warning that I took from John Schlesinger’s The Believers – Mr. Coffee wants to kill you in the name of an Afro-Caribbean death cult.

31 Days of Our Favorite Horror Movies, Day 29

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(Image: http://badassdigest.com/2012/04/05/mondos-the-exorcist-poster-on-sale-tomorrow/)

The Exorcist  (1973, dir. William Friedkin)

by Mike

The grandaddy of all the horror movies on my list.  The one that I’ve seen the least amount of times because of it’s power.  The Exorcist centers on a young girl who becomes possessed by a demon and the priests who try to free her from its grasp.

A lot of the horror in this one comes from the interactions between the priests and the young girl, mostly from the vile things she says to terrify them.  I don’t think it helps that as the possession goes on, her face changes as if it’s rotting.

I should say I’m talking specifically about the theatrical cut.  The version that came out later added a fucked up scene where she comes down the stairs with her body contorted in what was called the spider walk, fuck that version.

31 Days of Our Favorite Horror Movies, Day 28

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The Beyond (1981, dir. Lucio Fulci)

Before two years ago, I hadn’t seen The Beyond since 1987 when I convinced my older cousin to rent it. This was a phase in my life when I was obsessed with horror and make up visual effects. I was looking for ways to create “realistic” zombie make up effects, and I had read an older issue of Fangoria and there was an article about Lucio Fulci and his movies. I read the article and wanted to see the movie and attempt to copy the designs in the pictures.

Flash forward to the summer of 2012 and I have a chance to see this movie at the Alamo Drafthouse at a now defunct series called “Blood Thirsty Thursdays.” I had caught the second showing of the night, and luckily for me the theater was empty. This was optimal viewing of this movie. So many memories came flooding back. Faces melting, eyes gouged out, dripping corpses. Fantastic.

I don’t have a lot to write about this movie, other than if you’ve never seen a Lucio Fulci film, see one as soon as you can – preferably not an American edition of the movie, as they’re usually heavily edited. In 2012 I saw a European print and it was fan-fucking-tasticaly fun. The idea of a family run hotel build atop a doorway to Hell is what I miss about modern horror. No one wants to address esoteric ideas about what it means to have generational connections to Hell, the existential meaning of Hell as a lonely and miserable place, not the inferno of fire and brimstone as most popular depictions show. This was one of the first movies that shook me because it showed an aspect of horror that wasn’t only contingent upon gore; don’t read that last part as stating that this movie isn’t gory because it is gory as hell. But this movie instead discusses and eventually depicts Hell as a lonely place where the true horror is you facing yourself and the worst aspects of who you are. No one will be there to interact, it will only be you. You will only be able to remember all that you did wrong in life and at some point you will walk into yet another void and vanish into an existential space of non-existence. Nothingness. Not even the self can exist. There is nothing.

That idea bugged me as a kid and it still bugs me. I’d rather think of a Hell populated by demons and the undead in constant torment because at least there is something else. In this postulation of an afterlife, the suffering is continued from life and then eventual dissolution into nothing. I love Italian horror.

The Untenable Podcast, Episode 12: Technical Difficulties, Please Stand By

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9+7 = 14

In this week’s episode, Mike and Jay are beset on all sides by the inequities of a free sound recording application. Due to the recording app freezing mid recording, an epic discussion of The Walking DeadFury, and other points in between was lost. There is also a discussion of temporal imbalance, which is fitting, considering the incomplete nature of the episode. Our intrepid hosts did their best to cobble together a complete episode in the midst of technology failure.

Temporal imbalance

Technical difficulties

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