The Untenable Podcast, Episode 124: The Planet Redshirt

The one with nostalgia for nostalgia’s sake.

In this week’s episode, Mike and Jay dance around topics in an effort to ignore the elephant in the room, and visit thoughts about Zelda, Prey, Persona 4, and Mass Effect: Andromeda; they also talk Alien: Covenant.

Intro song: “Run” Foo Fighters  Outro song: “Slave to Love” Bryan Ferry

 

The Untenable Podcast, Episode 118: The Over-correctioning

The one with the cultural appropriation.
In this week’s episode, Mike and Jay talk about cultural expectations and the land o’ Links.

Intro song: “Sikiliza Kwa Wahenga” Michael Abels  Outro song: “Zelda Symphonic Medley” Zelda 25th Anniversary OST

 

The Untenable Podcast, Mixtape 5: A Country for Some of Us

The one with two yahoos in a room and a voice recording app.

This week’s episode is another Mixtape, chock full of goodies from the early days of the podcast, especially the good old days of Mike and Jay recording “in-studio” with an app on the iPad Mini.

Mixtape 5

 

 

Episode 18:

Episode 22:

Episode 13:

 

The Return of 31 Days of Our Favorite Horror: Soma, Say Me…

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Soma, Part 3

Once more unto the deep, dear friends.  Once more.  When I last wrote about Soma I was in the middle of the game.  The story was completely revealed, my character made a new friend, and an endgame was spelled out.  The last third was all about carrying out the plan and hiding from enemies that were much more prevalent than earlier levels.

Some of these later areas got to be a little frustrating as it became a little more about trial and error when it came to how to get around the enemies.  Several times I’d get lost since the areas kinda look the same in the dark and using the flashlight would have drawn attention.  So I’d fumble around until I would end up where I was supposed to be.  As dreary as got, it was all worth it as the story continued to get stronger and stronger.  I really loved the ideas it explored about reality and self.  The concept of scanning someone’s brain and then storing that digital version of them in a simulated world was interesting one.  This case was different than The Matrix as the participants were all willing and it was being used as a way to have humanity survive a ruined world.

Speaking of ruined, there are some moments late game that nearly ruined me.  There had been tough choices made throughout the game but the early ones didn’t have the same impact.  I mean, pulling the plug on a robot looking thing that’s incoherently babbling as if it’s repeating one side of a conversation it once heard is one thing, but doing it to someone who has a conversation with you is completely different.  I think the game was at its best each time it went into these dark moral areas.  That it made you think about the consequence of your actions was refreshing compared to so many games where things going boom is the desired outcome.

As for the ending, I’d hate to spoil it for you, I’d love nothing more than for you to play the game and experience it for yourself.  To sit there and just say “whoa.  really?” once those credits roll.  So if you don’t have the means to play it, do yourself a favor and check out a youtube play of it.

That’s it for me and horror games in October.  Home, The Swapper, and Soma were all great and surprisingly had a great through line that connected them all.  Each with unique takes on how horror can come from just a slight skewing of one’s perception can turn reality into a nightmare.  Unfortunately, I was unable to finish The Evil Within but it was interesting enough that I will go back and see it through to the end.

Thanks for coming by and checking out our October content, major props to Jay for cranking out movie writeups like a man possessed.  We hope you enjoyed it and had as much fun seeing our picks as we had watching/playing them.  

Return of 31 Days of Our Favorite Horror: Honeymoon

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Honeymoon (2014)  Dir. Leigh Janiak

Honeymoon initially caught my attention because I had recently read that its director, Leigh Janiak, was selected to create a reboot of 1996’s The Craft. A woman helming a female-centric supernatural-horror title from the 90s makes sense. I wasn’t necessarily a fan of it, but I have fond memories watching it with friends. After watching Honeymoon, I am looking forward to a darker take on the material. This movie was yet another personal recommendation from a friend, someone whose opinions on horror film that I trust. This title did not disappoint.

Honeymoon is pretty much exactly what you would expect the setting to be, a honeymoon for a young couple, Bea and Paul. It begins normally enough, playful and fun. I was even, “Oh no. Found footage…” Though I was wrong, and I’m glad that it went into a traditional narrative mode. As I said, it started fun, even showing us video footage of the wedding video where one key phrase is uttered, and plays an important role later. But as these movies always turn, shit gets weird when the outsiders go looking for something in town. Right away they are greeted with acrimony from the owner of a local diner, who happens to be childhood friends with the new bride. He is aggressive towards them at first, until the owner recognizes Bea and the two awkwardly try to catch up. When the owner’s wife walks in, she starts to give off a chill and order the owner to get back to work. The new couple go back to their cottage and as nighttime settles in, things get fun.

In the middle of the night, Bea goes missing. She just gets up out of bed and disappears. This kickstarts a progression of unsettling exchanges between the two, once close and affectionate couple. She is eventually found in the woods by her anxious husband, only to continue questioning her and push her to answer why she left. She pushes him away and tells him that it was a nightmare and she sleepwalked. Over the course of the next few days, she becomes more erratic and distant from Paul, and he is desperate to find out what is wrong with his wife.

This movie was so fun because it not only has some really odd and unsettling moments, but it plays on the fears of sci-fi-horror greats like Invasion of the Body Snatchers and Invaders from Mars. These two specifically deal with paranoia based in identity and concerns with identity. We’re not sure if anything is actually wrong with Bea, I mean, it could be Paul who is the problem. The assumption is that Bea is the problem, probably because we’re used to blaming erratic behavior from a female as her biological imperative. This movie plays with the expectations and tropes of paranoia thrillers, quite nicely, in my opinion. And the little clues throughout pay off and don’t feel forced when a reveal is made. For some, it may be too gross to watch, and for others it might be exactly what was expected. I recommend this flick because it has fun as an examination of marriage and all that it entails, as well as general human nature, specifically the nature of trust.

Return of 31 Days of Our Favorite Horror: Starry Eyes

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Starry Eyes (2014)  Dir. Kevin Kolsch, Dennis Widmyer

This movie was such a pleasant surprise. I had not only seen recommendations on Reddit, but also had personal recommendations as well.  I will quickly sum up this movie as a tale of losing one’s soul and basically making a Faustian deal for fame and fortune. And I loved damn near every minute of it.

The movie begins with an aspiring actress named Sarah who is also an aspiring actress, looking for her big break, just like thousands of others living in Los Angeles. She works at a Hooters-eque restaurant, clad in spandex and low cut tops, and living a life that could be considered both perfect and miserable at the same time. She has some great friends, particularly her roommate, all of whom encourage her, but she also has a rival within the group who antagonizes her with passive aggressive comments. She also has a friend/admirer who is an aspiring director who wants to put Sarah into his new project. Sarah isn’t really interested at first, but after she bombs an audition, she reconsiders. She then goes for an audition with a major production company called Astraeus Pictures, an older studio whose output has been minor in recent years, but they have a stellar legacy of quality stars and films.

Sarah is excited for the audition, and although she sees a previous audition candidate run from the casting room in tears, she continues with the audition and bombs it. She proceeds to throw a tantrum in the bathroom, berating herself and pulling her hair out. But it just so happens that one of the casting directors witnesses the tantrum and informs Sarah that she has another shot if she wants it. It is in the do-over where she is told to disrobe and is subjected to a “transformative” experience as she is told to be liberated of her inhibitions. She then gets a second audition, and off of that, she quits her job as a waitress and during the second audition she is propositioned by a powerful producer, but she rebuffs him and runs off, scared and humiliated.

This is where shit gets weird. Sarah then begins to behave erratically and more aggressive with those around her, and she begs for her job back. But after someone close to her finds out about her experience with the producer, she freaks out and begs the producer for another opportunity. The third time is the charm and she pretty much sells her soul with an impromptu meeting that is more like a ritual, masked and cloaked shadowy figures and all. From there it is all down hill for Sarah. She begins a transformation that sees her body begin to die slowly and painfully. She turns even more aggressive with her friends and pretty much tells them all to fuck off.

I don’t want to give away every detail about the ending, but let’s just say that things end in a bloodbath. And I wonder if the makers of the movie have been watching YouTube videos of people who claim that Hollywood is full of Satanists who sell their souls for fame. I’ve seen those videos, are entertained by them for their entertainment value, and I love that it seems that they’ve plumbed those videos for inspiration. Regardless, the filmmakers have created a fun Faustian tale of fortune, fame, and murder. And, oh my God, the score. The. Score. So 80’s and pulsing with life, with a synthesizer, like John Carpenter would do for his movies. There are so many little details about this movie that make it fun and trippy, and ultimately satisfying for me. I mean, it’s not perfect, but I really had a good time watching it. It’s still on Netflix as of right now, so check it out if you want to have some Faustian fun (sorry, I couldn’t help it).

Return of 31 Days of Our Favorite Horror: Devil’s Backbone, Texas

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I know, I know – too much found footage in my list. So what? It’s my list. Neener-neener-neener. Okay, now that I’ve got the juvenile behavior out of my system, I’ll just start talking about this movie. Devil’s Backbone, Texas had me for about 89% of the movie. I mean, I really like how everything was set up, from the documentary framing narrative, the acting, the cinematography, just about everything. But then it done fucked up in the last fifteen minutes. Well, okay, to be fair, the last two minutes or one and half minutes are what really pissed me off. So much good faith was wrecked at that point. But I’ll start from the beginning.

The movie is about Jake Wall and his family’s attempt to reconcile the past with their reclusive and often abusive late father, Bert. He’s been deceased for a few years and one of his sons, Jake, thinks that he should document not only the ash scattering ceremony the family has planned, but to also investigate some claims made by his deceased father. Bert claimed for years that the property that he cultivated a life upon, a homestead on the Devil’s Backbone, Texas, in the Texas Hill Country, right outside of Wimberley, Texas, was haunted with some sort of energy or spirit. What is cool about this mockumentary, which it is, but it’s also a good portion of real documentary about certain parts of the Wall family. Now, I would gather that a good portion was invented for the cameras, but there is some interesting footage shot before the actual Bert Wall passed away. From what I can gather he passed away in 2010, and was a writer among other pursuits in his life. So I’d like to believe that this movie was a collaboration between his family and him that eventually came to fruition. So many parts worked for me, especially the raw emotion that the family displays on camera during their interviews.

A lot of the creep factor comes from the way that Bert Wall, whose claim to fame had been an appearance on Unsolved Mysteries, had some abandoned property that is right creepy. The footage that he supposedly shot before passing away, and the footage that looks to either be keen recreations or really well timed intentional footage from his life, pops up in the film to give us a sense of reality to these claims. There are some sequences with Bert talking about his supernatural experiences living on the property, and even some very strange footage of him working with animals on his farm, all of whom eventually died off. Jake makes good use of these pieces of footage to set the stage for his investigation into his father’s claims.

Jake then enlists the help of some lifelong friends to assist in the investigation and eventual scattering of the ashes. They are all keen to help, but as the filming progresses, they notice a progression of odd occurrences, combined with erratic behavior exhibited by Jake, all of which causes tension among the group. There is even a family member who is seemingly harmed by an unknown source, possibly an entity that scared her to the point of injury. And all of these revelations are really well done, as is the interaction between the friends and Jake. Some might be friends or family, but all do a decent job of acting for the part.

Now, I will not spoil the movie entirely, but I will say, as before, all of this goodwill fostered with me as the viewer is shit on with the last few minutes of the movie. Some fantastic tension is built for the group, they are at their wits end, seemingly stranded on the property, lost, scared, and a whole bunch of other shit. They even think that they have lost their friend Jake, literally and figuratively. And I was along for the ride. Everything played out realistically enough for me, and even though it was following some well established tropes, it really had fun with them. Until the last minute or so of the movie. And I will stop here and just say, “shame on you.” This ending sucked. So. Hard. And it’s been done so many other times by so many better filmmakers. It was too ambitious and the creatives were out of their element with this type of ending, in my opinion. It was like letting the JV players onto the field in the championship game – not developed enough to make that kind of leap, so don’t do it!

But I will say again that I did enjoy nearly every minute of the ride and felt satisfied with the overall experience. And again, I’m a fan of the found footage genre, so I cut it some major slack as well. If you’re looking for another found footage movie that has some down-home charm, give Devil’s Backbone, Texas a chance to get inside your head.