Thursday, 30 August 2012

Movie Reviews: Surviving Evil (2009)

Surviving Evil is a 2009 horror-action film directed by Terence Daw and starring Billy Zane, Natalie Mendoza, and Christina Cole. Led by survival expert Seb (Billy Zane), a film crew go to an island in the Philippines, intending to make a reality television show called Surviving the Wilderness

So there is a backstory and legitimate reason for everyone being together on the island, rather than the usual "oh, all of our boats just happened to be wrecked here at the same time! And also, there are monsters!". As well as the fairly reasonable (albeit unimaginative) plot, there's a little bit of character development at the beginning, where the crew get to know each other and personalities are revealed too. Of course, whether you warm to them or not is another matter entirely. Still, at at least it gives you something to base your feelings from when you're either rooting for them to survive or wishing they'd all be massacred, rather than just watching with bored indifference.

At first, everything is going quite well, but of course, as this is a horror, the team branch off into smaller groups / pairs fairly quickly and it soon becomes apparent that they are not alone on the island. The crew make some grizzly discoveries and Seb is attacked while trying to photograph a monkey (seriously). From that point,  shape-shifting vampire-like creatures called Aswang that have been attracted by pregnant crew-member Phoebe (Christina Cole), begin to hunt down the survivors. 

After this point, the film consists largely of random creepy noises, running around through the jungle, monster fighting, guns and EXPLOSIONS! It's all very standard action-horror and very predictable, but it's enjoyable enough. The acting isn't fantastic, but it's not absolutely atrocious either. The more "emotional" scenes are pretty dire, especially from Christina Cole, but the horror-filled, screaming scenes of terror are actually fairly decent from the entire cast. (Admittedly, it looks ridiculous no matter how good someone's acting is, but that's beside the point).

Overall, Surviving Evil is an average action-horror film with a pretty good cast that is worth seeing once. It's been shown on the Horror Channel (UK) a few times and if you like this type of shotgun-monsters-action horror, then it's one to look out for next time. However, if you're looking for a thought-provoking or unusual picture, then avoid it, as even the twist at the end was somewhat obvious and expected.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Blog Events: Death Books & Tea: Month Before Halloween Event

The gory girls over at Death, Books and Tea are running a great event for all the book-lovers out there in the lead up to Halloween this year. The aptly titled The Month Before Halloween event will have interviews, reviews, giveaways and more!

"What I'm proposing is a month long event full of...stuff. Guest reviews, posts, interviews with people (bloggers, authors and publishers) on what, if any, scary books they like. A month full of this stuff here.  As long as it's scary to some degree, it's welcome. 
Oh, and then a giveaway. Lots of them.  On all your blogs. For the last week on October, everyone who's taken part (and wants to) will host a giveaway for anything of your choice-obviously related to spooky books."

Anything related to scary / spooky books is welcome and, obviously, the more bloggers taking part, the better it will be! If you want to join in, you can do so by visiting THIS PAGE and signing up by September 1st 2012. (And yes, we are taking part here at HSL too ;D)

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Games: Plants Vs Zombies 2

This is the first one, just imagine it like this with more stuff!
Some of you may know what Plants Vs. Zombies is (if not there was an entry about it 3 years ago!). If's a game where you must defend your house (and brain) from wave upon wave of various types of zombies. Instead of using shotguns or treadmills, you must use a range of plants to stop the relentless horde!

Well that was then and this is now (though you can still get the old one!). Popcap, makers of Plants Vs. Zombies have announced they are releasing a sequel, which should rise once more by late spring 2013:

"PopCap Games, maker of some of the world’s most popular video game franchises and a division of EA, today announced that the underground growth of the sequel to Plants vs. Zombies™, one of the world’s most popular video games, is germinating and advancing with rigor.

The sequel to Plants vs. Zombies is expected to launch by late spring 2013, and will include a bevy of new features, settings, and situations, designed to delight the franchise’s tens of millions of fans around the world. No other details of the highly anticipated new installment in the franchise are available at this time, beyond the following comments from some of the game’s denizens.

“Spring is crullest curlie ungood time, and plantz grow dull roots,” noted an unidentified spokesperson. “So, we are meating you for brainz at yore house. No worry to skedule schedlue plan… we're freee anytime. We'll find you.”

“There was a time we relished a bracing, hearty blend of zombies, in the morning,” said Sonny F. Lower, a representative of the Flora Forever Foundation. “But first, a brisk shower and some strategic pruning are required. Tomorrow is near!”" 
Popcap homepage
Plants Vs. Zombies Homepage

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Art: Rouble Rust

Last month, I won a prize from the lovely Bethezda's Etsy's store, and this month, I have once again been lucky and won another giveaway! This time, dark fantasy artist Rouble Rust was very kind and ran a competition for one of her GothLoli necklaces (pictured above and below).

The package arrived less than a week after I gave Rouble my address, and inside there was a small, black velvet pouch containing the necklace. There was also an envelope, but I'll come to that in a moment. Anyway, the quality of the chain and pendant are fabulous and also, it's quite a bit heavier than I was expecting it to be, which is definitely a positive thing. It's stunning and the details of the painting can be seen extremely clearly in person - you'll have to excuse my rubbish photography. 

.Now, onto the contained an art print postcard of her piece Cup of Blood and that was a fantastic little bonus to get as well! 

If you haven't seen Rouble Rust's artwork before, I highly recommend that you do, as it's a great mix of whimsical and eerie, with a dash of horror in the mix too. You can see more of her work on the following websites:

Thank you to Rouble Rust for running the giveaway!

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Advertising: Little Baby's Ice Cream Cannibal

The ice cream cannibal eating her own head
Earlier this year, Philadelphia-based company Little Baby's Ice Cream released adverts in which an ice cream creature was seen euphorically eating spoonfuls of her own head and licking cones with tiny versions of herself inside. That might not sound too weird (uh...or it might) but when coupled with the bizarre voice overs, ice cream van jingles and staring expressions of the ice cream cannibal, the creepiness factor goes up a lot!

"We love lickers..."
That said, as advertisements, they're pretty great.

Little Baby's Ice Cream
The Philly Post (source)

You can watch the two ads for yourself after the cut below↓

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Sports: Synchronised Swimming Goes Scary!

The Austrian duet in their bat costumes
Perhaps you might think synchronised swimming has always been scary, with its exaggerated grins and wide eyes. You might even wonder why I'm writing about synchronised swimming - or the Olympics in general - in a horror / spooky-themed blog, especially when I don't really care about sports. 

The Russian duet mid-move
You might not even consider synchronised swimming to be a sport (though, if that's the case, I'd like to see you train for 10 hours a day and swim upside down while making everything look effortless). Anyway, the truth is that I'd never watched this event before last week and I wouldn't be writing about it but for the fact that there were some decidedly spooky teams in the Duets Free Routine competition. 

The Russian duet at the beginning of their routine
The Russian pair swam a doll / puppet themed routine, using music from the films Suspiria, Amelie, and Sleepy Hollow. Considering synchronised swimming evolved from "water ballet" the Suspira Theme by Goblin being used is somewhat amusing / appropriate (if you've ever seen Suspiria, you'll understand, and if you haven't seen it...why the hell not!?).

The Brazilian duet after their "Human Body" routine
Then there was the Brazilian duo who chose The Human Body as their theme and wore anatomical costumes, complete with brain-print swimming caps! There was also a yellow skeleton print on the back as well, just to further emphasize the theme.

The back of the Brazillians' costumes
The Austrians also had a spooky theme, though I'm not entirely sure what it was. Their costumes featured big bats on the front, with one of the wing-tips curving around into a wolf head on the back. There were also a few smaller bats and a full moon on the back, as well as a bat hair accessory. 

The back of the Austrian costume
Apart from that, a large part of their swim was set to Mussorgsky's Night on Bare Mountain, which is about a witches' Sabbath, and there was also a random cackle in the middle of the routine as well. Sadly, neither Brazil nor Austria made it into the final, but Russia eventually won gold in the duet competition. Hurray for Olympic spookiness! 

BBC Sport - Duet Free Routine Preliminaries (video - all screenshots taken from this video)

More screenshots after the cut below↓

Games: Blood updated version!

The original game Blood came out in 1997, made by 3D realms (Duke Nukem) and Monolith Productions (F.E.A.R, Condemned) and is a rather gory, horrorey game. You play as Caleb, a gunfighter who joined a cult called "The Cabal" in 1871 and rose to the highest level circle "The Chosen" (the naming gets better!). But things didn't go so well and the god Tchernobog (see!) kills all the members of The Chosen for failing to do his bidding. But, for some reason Caleb rises again from the grave and decides to set out and bring an end to Mr. Tchernobog.

As Caleb you go around levels set in various locations such as carnivals, mortuaries and even a living temple made of flesh, armed with a variety of weapons. Examples of these range from the standard pitchfork and shotgun, to the more exotic Voodoo Doll.
Voodoo Doll attack!

Enemies range from robed cultists, zombies and winged beasts to bosses such as large spiders and double headed dogbeats. The game contains many subtle references to horror films, such as Evil Dead, Frankenstein, Nightmare on Elm Street etc. etc. It is pretty gory (ill include a video after the cut), so much so that a censored version had to be released.

Anyway! This is the announcement made by the games creator Jason (Jace) Hall:
I have been contemplating the idea bringing Blood back and was wondering how people might feel about it or if they were interested in helping me to do it.

To be clear, I am thinking of bringing the ORIGINAL Blood game back as it was, with functionality alterations/enhancements that are similar but superior to ZDAEMON's. I would also make it work on all platforms, and not just PC. There are other things as well...

I have a very specific vision in mind for what I'd like to do, but before I go off and do it - I wanted to speak directly with the Blood community and see what the thoughts are.

My goal of course is for this all to be free, and all about gameplay and fun. You can rest assured that I have the resources to bring BLOOD back properly but like I said, I'm hoping to have the community participate in all this if it wants to so we can all do it together. This site is great and it would be great to see the Blood community grow!

So what this should mean is that the 15 year old game shall be updated and just as gory and silly as it was before, but with a whole new look!

You can still buy the game from places such as:

Video of original gameplay after the break!

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Art: Natalia Hernández González

Little Head (2012) by Natalia Hernández González 
"...light and darkness, color and warmth, infernal coldness. A place where beautiful and monstruous creatures hide behind every character, every word, waiting and lurking for your innocent and compassionate look."
That is how Spanish illustrator / designer Natalia Hernández González introduces her world on her art blog,  Spooky Delight There really isn't a better way to describe the creepy-cute characters and bizarre scenes created by this imaginative woman. From heads in jars to robots, exploding bowels to octopus-human hybrids - it's all there!

Sweet Little Bowels (2011) by Natalia Hernández González
As well as the unusual subject matters, NHG also has a wide variety of illustration and design styles, which she seems to be constantly improving and refining. It's refreshing to find artist that experiments and tries new things, rather that simply producing the same kind of pieces repeatedly and this is part of  what keeps her work unique. Admittedly, some of Natalia's techniques are similar to artists such as Tim Burton, Mia Mäkilä, and Mark Ryden, but there is a feel to each illustration that is singularly her own. 

Little butcher (2012)  by Natalia Hernández González

For more information about Natalia or her work, please visit the following websites:
Spooky Delight

Thank you to Natalia Hernández González for permission to use the images!
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