Showing posts with label horror. Show all posts
Showing posts with label horror. Show all posts

Friday, October 15, 2021

October Horror Movie Challenge: Horror Planet aka Inseminoid (1981)

Horrorplanet aka Inseminoid (1981)
Man, I am in some kind of rut.  Ok in my defense this movie has been on my list for years, but even I thought it was too cheesy to consider.   Also there are not a lot of choices when your search terms are "Horror," "Sci-fi," "Alien," and "Archeologist." 

So if you read my post earlier today you know I have an idea, or the start of one, for my alien reoccurring Big Bad.  

So this film is taking place on an alien planet.  Writing is discovered on the walls while the research operations are going on this frozen planet.  There appear to be a lot of couples here, convenient really.  One of the researchers is hurt in an explosion and his buddy starts to go crazy.

I am not sure what the future is like, but according to this movie, they must be outlawed by then. 

While out (even though the commander ordered everyone to stay on the base) Sandy and Mitch get out of communication range.  Mitch is killed by some sort of monster and ripped apart.  Sandy is captured and taken to some room where she is stripped naked and impregnated (via a long clear tube full of green slime) by some weird-looking alien creature. 

Sandy starts acting strange.  Not in the "I am traumatized" way, but in the "I have an alien baby growing inside me and I need to kill and eat people now" way.   Sandy is played by Judy Geeson, who has had a really great career over the last 7 decades. This movie wasn't even the start of her career, she had already been working for 20 years at this point.  

Each plan to stop Sandy ends up getting more people killed, often from complete stupidity.  By the end I was rooting for Sandy since pretty much everyone was the cause of their own deaths.

I am not sure what was the biggest scientific screw-up.  When Mark was able to go outside and see Sandy when everyone else died outside.  Or that Sandy was able to get her pants off to give birth and back on again without ever taking off her shoes.

There are some minimally interesting ideas here, but not enough to sit through an hour and a half of this.  At least I have some ideas of things not to do. In the end, it is just a fairly weak Alien rip-off with a side helping of misogyny.   

Directed by Norman J. Warren who also gave us Satan's Slave and another potential one for tonight, Prey.  Let me say right now I am not really that impressed. 

I need to make some better choices in my movies.


2021 October Horror Movie Challenge

October 2021
Viewed: 27
First Time Views: 14

Thursday, October 14, 2021

BlackStar: Horror in Space. Children of Earth, Cardassians, and Aliens

Plain, simple Garak
Plain and simple Garak

In many RPGs, the enemies are easy to figure out.  In *most* horror RPGs the bad guys are the supernatural creatures.  If you are playing Buffy for example then you are going to be hunting vampires.  Now it is also fun to "flip the script" so in the various World of Darkness Vampire games you are the vampire.  You are still the monster, but you have some more control over that evil.  In "Ordinary World" in NIGHT SHIFT you can play a supernatural creature, but you are not the bad person, you are "just a person" trying to get by in a world full of mortgages, jobs, oh and neighbors that might want to kill you.

In many fantasy games there are plenty of other monsters that want to kill you. We might be getting away from orcs (thank goodness) and goblins (have not used them as "bad guys" in over a decade or two) but there are still plenty of evil dragons, beholders, and of course demons and devils. 

Sci-Fi games tend to fall into the same sort of tropes.  Only this time it is whatever aliens are the focus.

I want to talk about three different sorts of aliens, all considered to be enemy species, but handled in different ways.

First are the Cardassians.  Introduced in Star Trek: The Next Generation and really got the focus in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.  The Cardassians are humanoid (this is important later) and come from the world of Cardassia.  They had occupied the nearby Bajor in a very clear analog to fascist Germany occupying France.  The Cardassians are never painted as irredeemably evil. Yes, many of them are in fact evil, but there are some that are not.  They are also depicted as highly intelligent, organized, and utterly brutal.  For most of the seven seasons on DS9, they were the bad guys.  Each step forward (oh look they love their kids) is reversed (oh, but they slaughter Bajoran orphans).  They are richly detailed and complicated, but always a foe to stand up to.  They are not an existential threat though to anyone but the Bajorans.  They are not even "supernatural" threats until the very, very end when Gul Dukat (a Cardassian and our main bag guy since Season 1) is possessed by the Kosst Amojan, the literal Bajoran devil. 

The 456
The other alien race is known only as the 456, for the frequency they contact Earth on in Torchwood: Children of Earth.   The Nazi connections with the Cardassians are intended, and not designed to be subtle.  These aliens are also not subtle; they steal human children and graft them into their own bodies because the chemicals the children create feels good to them.  They are back because they want more kids.  These creatures are never seen clearly, we never learn their name, their language, or even where they are from. Only that they want our children and they have the means to get them.  They are properly scary.  But. Do they make for a good "big bad?"  I don't think so.  They have one trick; stealing children.  While that is good enough for a fairy tale witch, the witch usually gets tossed into the oven at the end.  The 456 get sent back to their planet/ship or are destroyed much in the same manner when Capt. Jack Harkness feeds their communication signal back on them and killing his own grandson in the process.

The last is the Xenomorph from the Aliens franchise.  Alien is a true horror film in space, right down to a monster stalking everyone to a "final girl" in Ellen Ripley.  Aliens is sci-fi adventure.  I have lost track of how many Traveller games I saw in the 80s that were more or less a riff on the Aliens movie.  Again these guys are properly scary.  One on a ship is a true horror. Hundreds on a planet can take out a bunch of Marines.   The trouble with the Xenomorph is there is little to no mystery about them anymore.  In the original movies they were mindless, insectlike killing machines.  In future movies they...well I am still not 100% sure what Alien Covenant was about or Prometheus, though I did enjoy them.  The "Shared universe" of Alien, Blade Runner, and Predator though does give me a lot to game with. 

Use In BlackStar

The issue for me is not just "do these aliens make for a good scary monster?" They do.  The real question is "will they work for me and my particular game?"

I mean this is no different than any other game or setting.  Let's take an odd example.  Orcs in Ravenloft.  I originally did not want to do orcs, a classic D&D/Fantasy monster, in my Ravenloft games.  When it came up that I needed an orc-like monster I went with something more akin to a Grimlock or even a Neanderthal-Troglodyte (in the classical sense of the word) creature.  I made it work AND it also made me want to redo the troglodyte from D&D to make them more "devolved" human. Like the old Homo Sapiens Troglodytes. Maybe even a cross between H.S. and the Pan Troglodytes

But what about BlackStar which happens in a Star Trek universe. Well oddly enough that rules out the Cardassians. We know what they were doing at the time in Universe, they were at war with the Federation.  So I will have that going on, but in the far background.  They are on the far side of the Alpha Quadrant. My action is closer to home and might even take tiny little excursions into the Beta Quadrant.

The Xenomorphs would be fun for an "Episode" (what I am calling a single adventure) but not a "Season" (a campaign).  Same with the 456.

Originally I WAS thinking the 456 would be my focus as the bogeyman alien in the background.  But having a couple of conversations with my oldest he was like "why not just use the Mi-Go?"

He has a point.

There are a lot of great reasons to use them not just for the Lovecraftian origin.  They would have had an outpost on Yuggoth/Pluto that I absolutely LOVE.  It fits in with my ideas when watching the Thing and the various horror movies on Mars

I mean if I am going to do "Cthulhu meets Star Trek" then I kinda need to have appearances by the Mi-Go, Elder Things, Shoggoths, and Yithians.  They were described as "Alien" but I think I want to use them in the "Alien" sense of both Lovecraft AND of Trek.   The Mi-Go could take the place of the Borg in terms of a lifeform that can't be reasoned with and have their own, completely separate, morality. 

Given that my preferred version of Trek for this is Modiphius' Star Trek Adventures this makes things pretty easy for me.  I can now use ideas and stats from the new Achtung! Cthulhu 2d20 system. 

But system and stats are only the start of the conversation, not the end.  I have to make sure these guys are scary.  Mi-Go landing on the hull of The Protector while not wearing EV suits and cutting through (like the Borg did) is scary.  Leaving behind dead crew with their brains surgically removed (not unlike "Spock's Brain", but less...bad) is a little more horrifying.   Finding crew members whose livers have been altered to create a sort of super-acid that eats through their bodies but keeps on working is more horrifying still. The Mi-Go don't communicate. Their chitterings are unable to be translated.  Since they are reported as not being able to be filmed or photographed they are largely invisible to sensors; having natural stealth abilities. 

I could introduce them much in the same way we saw in "At The Mountains of Madness" only this time they are discovered on Pluto/Yuggoth.  This leads to discoveries of bases on Earth, millions of years old, in the Andes, Appalachians, and Himalayas mountain ranges. How to get the crew out into deeper space to encounter them is the bridge I have not built yet.  

Frankly, I am overwhelmed with the potential. 

ETA:  I have found some more data that puts the Mi-Go origin, or at least another base of operations, at 61 Cygni, about 11.4 light-years away.  64 hours at classical Warp 9, but only 19 hours at The Protector's Warp 13.  In Star Trek, this is also the home of the Tellarites.  So obviously the Mi-Go visited them as well.

I will take a completely different approach in my Star Trek: Mercy game.

The Aliens

October Horror Movie Challenge: Humanoids From the Deep (1980)

Humanoids from the Deep (1980)
This would have done well with all my Dagon / Deep Ones movies last week. It certainly fits in with the whole humans becoming sea monsters theme.  I am a little surprised I had never seen it to be honest. It's a fairly notorious Corman flick, know more for him adding more gore and nudity after director Barbara Peeters was done with it.

Humanoids From the Deep (1980)

A small fishing village is dealing with the scarcity of fish and the prospect of a new canning factory moving into town.  While fishing a couple of fishermen catch what appears to be some sort of monster.  His sun falls into the ocean and something kills him.  The boat then explodes. Yes there is a reason, but this is Corman we are talking about. 

Later something is going through the village killing and mutilating all the dogs.  Oh, and there is not so casual and fairly overt racism to the village's Native American character.  Also, why is Dr. Susan Drake referred to as a "great little scientist" especially since actress Ann Turkel stands at 6'0" easily towering over everyone here?  We are a third of the way through the movie and we have had more racism and sexism than we have had of monsters.  Or when Doug McClure's Jim Hill is asking for men to help him and Ann Turkel volunteers? "No, I don't need you." Well, it was the 1980s, but even this one seems a little more than the usual stuff.  

Speaking of explosions. Why does one Molotov cocktail blow up an entire cabin?  Oh and cars. When they hit the sea. 

We learn that Dr. Drake has known about these creatures for a bit.  They are caused by the growth hormones that Canco (did they spend all day coming up with that name?) has been injecting into salmon.  These salmon then infected other fish till they "evolved" to humanoids.  They are driven to kill the men and mate with the women.  Totally makes sense.

There is the local Salmon fest going on that night and as expected the sea monsters attack, killing and raping their way through town.  The gore scenes are fun, some special effects people must have had a blast doing this one.  Kudos to Sally, Miss Salmon, for the wherewithal to bash a rapey fishman in the head with a rock.

In the end the monsters are dead (we think) and Peggy who had been raped before gives birth, well..., a monster cuts its way out of her.

So it dawned on me that there is a whole sub-genre of Fishmen movies that I have never really explored. I mean I have had no reason, but I kinda wish I had before running Isle of Dread to the Shrine of Kuo-Toa. Maybe I should check more of them out. I mean I have not seen any so far that I am like "yeah, that's my new jam" but maybe someone, somewhere did one right.

I could not find the 1996 remake anywhere to watch.


2021 October Horror Movie Challenge

October 2021
Viewed: 26
First Time Views: 13

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

October Horror Movie Challenge: Mars Night

Mars
What is it about Mars that both fascinates us and horrifies us at the same time?  Even long before H.G. Welles and "War of the Worlds" Mars has had a hold on our collective consciousness.  

Doctor Who has visited horror on Mars many times, most recently with "The Waters of Mars" (2009) and "Empress of Mars" (2017).  Notably, one of the few times we see the Doctor truly afraid is when he learns he is facing the Martian Grand Marshal Skaldak in "Cold War" (2013).  

Even the optimistic Star Trek is not immune, with one of the greatest terrorist acts committed against the Federation happening on Mars' Utopia Planitia

Mars has gotten to us. 

So it is not a big surprise that there are still today sci-fi horror movies featuring Mars.

Angry Red Planet (1959)
The Angry Red Planet (1959)

One would assume I would start with War of the Worlds. At least the classic or maybe even one of the remakes.  But I want movies ON Mars and for better or worse, this is a classic. I have seen it before, but it is a good one to start the night and it is on every streaming service I have.  This one takes place sometime after the first moon landing. No date is given but you can assume it is the 1970s as seen through the eyes of the 1950s (Time Delta, 11 or so years).

Again, while I typically avoid movies from the 1950s, there are exceptions.  A couple of things make this one stand out.  The giant wolf-bat-spider creature being one and the "CineMagic" effect used when they were on the surface of Mars was another. The CineMagic could look cheap by our standards of today, but I actually thought it had some charm to it. 

The acting isn't bad, though it suffers from all the casual sexism of the time, though to it's credit it has Naura Hayden as biologist Dr. Iris "Irish" Ryan. She isn't so much there as eye-candy (plot wise) and has a role.  It is also noted that only Americans seem to bring guns into space. It does avoid the trope of one of the scientists being secretly evil or wanting to establish his own empire on Mars. 

The film is a bit silly for our times, but there were what appeared to be some good (for the time) scares.  The CineMagic effect really covers up a lot of special effects shortcomings. 

I am sure I have seen this one before, but there are a lot of parts I don't remember.  I am only giving myself ½ a credit for this one.

Star Crystal (1986)
Star Crystal (1986)

I actually started this one first. Stopped it because it was just not  good and came back to it tonight. While there is 30 years between this one and Angry Red Planet, it sure has improved much in attitudes.  This one takes place in the year 2030 to 2033 (Time Delta 44 to 41 years).

Let's be entirely upfront about this.  This one is bad.  I spaced (heh) out a lot writing other things.  Here is the gist.  Two dufuses bring back some rocks from Mars expecting some of them will give them a good payday.  One of the rocks cracks open and something slimy comes out.  Fast forward to NASA on Earth in the later 2030s where everyone is smoking like it's...well 1986. The first crew is dead so they send another crew after them.  

After some not-scares and other nonsense we learn the alien, named Gar, used the computer to learn about humanity including reading a Bible, and has decided to depart in peace.  What the actual fuck? Anyway, that's the movie.  There is more like the shitty effects, the toy Millennium Falcon used for close-up shots of the starbase and the misspellings on the computer screen.  An aside, here in the real 2021 I am using more computer power than they displayed in their fake 2033 just write these words. I also have the benefit of a spell check.

Anyway, I am embarrassed I watched this movie. 

By the way, this site Explore Mars wants us on Mars in the 2030s. I don't think they saw this movie.

Ghosts of Mars (2001)
John Carpenter's Ghosts Of Mars (2001)

2001 should have been a bigger year for sci-fi movies.  Just saying. This one takes place in 2176. The Time Delta on this is 175 years now.  As we move further and further away from the Apollo missions our optimism about colonizing nearby space is waning.  Or maybe we just have a better understanding of how bad the void of space really is. 

I also admit this is the one I was looking forward to.  I mean John Carpenter right?

Well...

The pluses. The film stars Natasha Henstridge, Ice Cube, Jason Statham, Pam Grier, Clea DuVall, Robert Carradine, and Joanna Cassidy. All of whom have delivered good performances in the past.  The key with any movie with Ice Cube and Jason Statham in it is you never take their characters seriously. Jason Statham has more or less likened all his characters to cartoon characters.  

The soundtrack is great, if for no reason other than the inclusion of Stevie Vai whom I have been a fan of since his days with Frank Zappa

Some interesting bits.  Mars' government appears to be a Matronage or rule by women.  The Mars here reminds me of Total Recall or Doom before the Demons arrive.

The story revolves around a group of police officers attempting to do a prisoner transfer of James 'Desolation' Williams, played by Ice Cube.  They get to the boomtown to find him but instead, they find everyone dead and Williams still locked up.  They find a couple of people still alive but possessed.

Turns out the ghosts of dead Martians are possessing people thinking the humans had killed all the Martians.  They decide to blow up the nuclear reactor thinking they can nuke all the spirits.  Sure. Why not.  

The ghosts just repossess other humans and attack the city.

The Martian possessed humans reminded me a lot of the Futurekind from the Doctor Who episode Utopia.  In fact, the scenes of Mars at night also remind me of the planet Malcassairo at the end of the Universe. 


2021 October Horror Movie Challenge

October 2021
Viewed: 25
First Time Views: 12

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Science Fiction and Horror

Mary Shelly, the Mother of Science Fiction
This week I am working my way through a bunch of Sci-Fi/Horror movies.  I thought then that today would be a good day to see how I use both genres together.

Science Fiction and Horror have had a long-standing relationship.  Where horror stories are some of the first stories ever told, Science Fiction, or Science Romances, are newer.  

For me, and many others, the Modern Age of Science Fiction began with Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley's "Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus" in 1818.  While considered by many to be a Gothic Horror novel, it only has the trappings of a true Gothic Horror. The work is pure science fiction of a brilliant man, the titular Dr. Frankenstein, and his attempts using science to reanimate dead tissue resulting in the creation of his monster, who is NOT named Frankenstein. 

Like all good science fiction, it is far looking and attempts to tell us something about our society or morals.   Which is why when people ask "When did Sci-Fi become so woke?" I say "In 1818 when it was invented by a Regency-age, teenage feminist."  This was 10 years before Jules Verne, the so-called Father of Science Fiction was born and almost 50 years before H.G. Wells was born.

It would be disingenuous to ignore the horror elements of Frankenstein in favor of its Sci-Fi elements.  They go hand in hand.  The story was conceived from a nightmare, the same night that John Polidori gave us "The Vampyre."  

Almost a century later we would get another popular horror/Sci-Fi mix in H.G. Wells War of the Worlds. This give us the popular and potent combination of Sci-Fi, Horror, and Mars. 

Sci-Fi tends to organized into two large camps; the hopeful and the dystopian.  YES there is more, I am not talking about ALL of sci-fi right now.  But you make some clear demarcations alonge the line of Hope.

Star Trek for example tends to be on the side of hope.  Hope for what the future can bring and be.  Again "Woke" since 1966. Star Trek is about hope in the face of all sorts of diversity.  But what about hope in the face of fear?

"Space is disease and danger wrapped in darkness and silence."
 - Leonard 'Bones' McCoy, Star Trek (2009)

The goal of Star Trek: BlackStar very early on was the horrors of space.  Often times, especially in the TNG days, space travel was depicted as fun, and easy (ish), and the horrors were the ones we brought with us.  While that made for great TV in the 90s, I was still left wanting something more.  Star Treks Voyager and then Enterprise got back to the idea that space travel was not easy nor always fun.  BlackStar I hope delivers on the "in space no one can hear you scream" angle.  I opted for mythos monsters and settings with the idea that "in space the stars are always right."  Even though that was also the same time I was lamenting you can't just slap Cthulhu on something to make it sell.

Well. I am not "selling" anything with BlackStar save for my own home games. Still, I feel I owe it at least to myself not to "just slap Cthulhu onto Star Trek." 

On the flip side of this I have my Star Trek: Mercy.  Which is nothing if not about hope.  A Starfleet full of various species from across the Galaxy, even ones the Federation are not allies with, all working together to run a hospital ship to save lives. Not that I can't run into horror elements, that is not the goal here. 

I have, thanks to many of the October Horror Movie Challenges had the chance to watch some great Horror/Sci-fi.  I have also had the chance to read a lot of horror sci-fi over the years, but sadly nothing recently.

It is a topic that I would love to explore more in depth and find stories that are unique to this combined genre.   Much like how Sci-Fi lead me to Fantasy and Fantasty lead me to Dark Fantasy and Horror, Horror is bringing me full circle back to Sci-Fi.  

I think it would be fun to get back to some sci-fi games.  Even if I have to add horror to them. 

I am not sure where this is taking me, but I am looking forward to finding out.  Hopefully I'll have some more insights later this week.

October Horror Movie Challenge: Saturn 3 (1980)

Saturn 3 (1980)
This is one of those movies I have wanted to go back and see to see if it was as bad as I remembered. Was it? Oh yeah.

Saturn 3 (1980)

Kirk Douglas seems underutilized here.  Farah Fawcett is, well..., I have a better opinion of her now than I did then, but she is still not very good here. She seems to be here only as eye candy and to scream.  I can't even tell you what it is her character was supposed to be doing here.

Harvey Keitel has called this movie the "nadir of his career" and he certainly seems like he is only going through the motions here. He has even been redubbed for this.  I didn't even remember he was in this, to be honest.

The plot is super simple.  Harvey Keitel brings an experimental robot to an outpost near Saturn (Saturn 3) and he passes on his crazy to the robot. 

The outpost is researching new food alternatives for Earth and is run by Douglas and Fawcett who are also a couple. Yeah, he was twice her age in this.  

They have trouble with Keitel from the start and then trouble with the robot, and then everyone is fighting everyone else.  Despite being newer than 1979's Alien, the sets look more like a 1970s sci-fi movie. 

 I remember seeing this one on TV a while back, I thought it had some other scenes.  Checking good old Wikipedia there were other scenes when it aired on NBC. 

The movie is, or could have been, an Alien rip-off, but there are not enough people on the station and thus not a high enough body count.  It could be remade today an would be much better.


2021 October Horror Movie Challenge

October 2021
Viewed: 22
First Time Views: 9.5

Monday, October 11, 2021

Monstrous Monday: Doppelgänger, Pod

Again today's monster seems like the logical choice. There was a similar creature in Ravenloft for AD&D 2nd Ed, but I am going to ignore that one in favor of something a little different.  

Dante Gabriel Rossetti - How They Met Themselves
Doppelgänger, Pod
Medium Plant (Shape-shifter) 

Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1d6 (2d6)
Alignment: Chaotic [Chaotic Evil]
Movement: 120' (40') [12"]
Armor Class: 8 [11]
Hit Dice: 6d8+6*** (33 hp)
To Hit AC 0: 10 (+9)
Attacks: 2 claws or by weapon
Damage: 1d6+3 x2 or by weapon+3
Special: Charm, regeneration, shape-shift, telepathic communication, only harmed by fire
Save: Monster 6
Morale: 8 (10)
Treasure Hoard Class: None
XP: 1,250 (OSE) 1,280 (LL)

Str: 18 (+3) Dex: 18 (+3) Con: 14 (+1) Int: 14 (+1) Wis: 14 (+1) Cha: 5 (-2)

The doppelgänger is known and feared by many veteran adventurers, but it is usually a single creature at a time.  The Pod Doppelgänger, named for the giant pods they grow out of, is a different sort of danger altogether.

While not related to the common Doppelgänger, these creatures share many of the same characteristics.  They use their shape-shifting powers to impersonate others.   The pod doppelgänger will lure unsuspecting creatures to where their seed pods lie.  

They will attack and attempt to subdue, but not kill, humanoid creatures (humans being their preferred targets). Once they have these humans they will place them into a pod where they are absorbed to feed the mother plant.  The pod will reopen 8 hours later and the new doppelgänger will walk out, a perfect copy of the human that was absorbed.  They will have their memories, their knowledge, and even combat skills. Doppelgänger cannot cast spells, they do not have the necessary connections to the magic that other living creatures do.  Likewise, they cannot lay on hands like a paladin nor Turn Undead as a cleric.  

Once someone is copied the pod doppelgänger has all their memories and the original creature will be gone.  

The pod doppelgänger has a limited charm ability effective on humans with a save at a bonus of +1.  Other species such as elves, dwarves, halflings gain a +2.  Goblinoids and orcs and other related creatures gain a +3 to their saves.  Pod doppelgängers have a sort of telepathic communication with all others from the same mother plant.  Pod doppelgängers regenerate 1 hp per round and can even "come back from the dead" of negative hp.

The only effective way to destroy these creatures is by fire.  Damage dealt by fire-based attacks is not regenerated. 

Mother Plant: In the pod doppelgänger's lair lives the mother plant.  She cannot attack, has an AC of 9, and a number of HD equal to the number of pods she has created (determined by the number appearing in lair).  Likewise, only fire can destroy her.  Her "children" will defend her to the very end.  

--

Might need a little more tweaking to make it work a little better.  Plus I should add some horror effect when seeing a pod duplicate a person.  That can't be a pretty sight.

October Horror Movie Challenge: The Fourth Kind (2009)

The Fourth Kind (2009)
Going to start my week of Sci-Fi horror with one my wife picked.

The Fourth Kind (2009)

This one seemed like it had a lot going for it. First, we get the notion that this is all based on a true story and actual events.  There is some "found footage" of the "actual people involved" and then we also get Milla Jovovich, who I adore, and Elias Koteas who is always great. 

The movie has some genuine scares involved too.  Even the found footage is good.  The footage of course are also just actors and none of this ever happened.  BUT it does turn out that this area of Alaska does actually have a history of missing persons.

While I went into this one with the idea of mining it for ideas for a BlackStar game (I always wanted to an Alien Abduction plot where humans and aliens are on more equal footing) instead I was given ideas for my NIGHT SHIFT Valhalla, Alaska game.   Valhalla though runs closer to "Resident Alien" than this one's mix of "Close Encounters," "Fire in the Sky," and "Blair Witch."  

The ending left us feeling a little empty. No resolution, but some good jump scares and weird special effects.  

Still, Milla Jovovich is still great. This was one of director's Olatunde Osunsanmi first movies.  He would go on to direct and produce episodes of New Trek and the series "Falling Skies."   So sci-fi is certainly in his wheel-house.

Maybe I should do an Alien Abduction night.


2021 October Horror Movie Challenge

October 2021
Viewed: 21
First Time Views: 9.5

Sunday, October 10, 2021

October Horror Movie Challenge: The Thing (1982, 2011, 1951)

The Thing
There are two movies in my mind that set the bar for Sci-Fi Horror.  The first is Alien (1979) and the second is 1982's The Thing.  Both use science fiction as a back-drop to tell a very claustrophobic monster story.  Both had fantastic directors.  Both also took us to a place of "not Star Wars, not ET."  

It is also the perfect juxtaposition of horror and SciFi from a Lovecraftian perspective.  While the origin of The Thing is drawn from the sci-fi/horror short story "Who Goes There?" by John W. Campbell Jr., the fingerprints of Lovecraft, and in particular "At The Mountains of Madness", are all over this. 

It also makes it a perfect tale for a BlackStar adventure. Maybe I'll tweak my "At the Planet of Madness" adventure a little more.

Tonight I watched John Carpenter's The Thing from 1982 for the first time in, well, I don't know how many years.  Since High School to be sure.  And then I decided to watch the 2011 remake of it.

The Thing 1982
The Thing (1982)

It has been so long since I have seen this I had forgotten about the space-ship at the beginning. For the time the special effects were amazing and frankly, I think they hold up well today.  Though the blood looks more like raspberry jelly.  My son works in a bakery now, I see a lot of raspberry jelly on clothes these days.

I remember watching this one back in 83 or 84 and I remembered I had come up with a very convoluted theory that this creature was a crashed Zygon from Doctor Who.  Fits with them crashing and being found under Loch Ness.  We would get almost this exact same story for Doctor Who in 2013 with Cold War, only at the North Pole not the south. 

The version I watched on Amazon Prime was in HD and it looked fantastic. It looked like it could have been filmed in 2020 to be honest.  It is making me look forward to seeing the Remake/Prequel made in 2011. 

The Thing 2011
The Thing (2011)

This one is a prequel/remake of the 1982 movie.  Even the starting title sequence is similar.  This time we deal with the Norwegians from the first movie.  Interesting way to start the movie, to be honest.  It has Mary Elizabeth Winstead in it and I am a fan, so I like that. It also has Kristofer Hivju, better known to us today as Tormund Giantsbane from Game of Thrones.  He is just as fantastic in this. 

I wish I had paid more attention when the 82 version was on to the Norwegian base, named "Thule",  to see if they were the same.  In truth, it more reminds me of the American one. The spaceship looks the same, but a lot larger.  I also am enjoying that some of the reasons for "dumb decisions" in the first movie get some sort of explanation here.  We even see where some of the damage comes from and an explanation of some of the remains.

The trouble with this movie is there is no new ground for it to cover; it is almost the exact same movie.  Though in this one, bits of the creature can break off and attack others. 

Like the 1982 we have two survivors and it is unknown whether or not they survive. 

The Thing from Another World 1951
The Thing from Another World (1951)

This is the original movie and the one that John Carpenter set to emulate.  Even the opening credits are similar. And WOW is it old.  Typically I steer clear of the 50s except on very rare occasions. 

The opening credits again look like the the 1982 version, or more to the point they all look like this one.

In this one the action is set at the North Pole, but largely the same story. Well...typical for the 1950s there has to be a romance angle. The movie also takes forever to get anywhere.

We get a better description of the creature. It is plant-like, but it still looks like a humanoid of some sort.

There is much less death in this one, no surprise, and the monster is not a shapeshifter at all. 

This one has a lot of survivors and then let the whole world know what happened.   It's funny. For a time full of Red Scare paranoia there is very little of any sort of paranoia in this movie, at least compared to the 1982 and 2011 versions.  

--

It is easy to see the elements that all three movies have in common. Given that it gets remade about every 30 years we can expect to see a new Thing in 2041.

I still would love to work this into a BlackStar game somehow.  Either the discovery on Earth of this craft and pilot that leads to an investigation to its native world, or a getting to the native world and discovering a ship full of human specimens from over 100,000 years ago.  Though 100,000 years ago the Earth would have been populated by hominids like Homo ErectusHomo Floresiensis (the Hobbits), and Homo Sapien Neanderthalensis


2021 October Horror Movie Challenge

October 2021
Viewed: 19
First Time Views: 8.5

Saturday, October 9, 2021

October Horror Movie Challenge: Army of Darkness (1992)

Army of Darkness (1992)

Tonight is a Horror Movie Challenge AND a Swords & Sorcery & Cinema Night.   Since it is also my H.P. Lovecraft Film Fest there is really only one movie that can fit the bill for all three themes. Is it Horror?  It's close enough.

Army of Darkness (1992) is just one of those movies I can keep coming back to and mine for more gold. 

Of course, I did Army of Darkness for this once before WAY back in the early days of this blog.

I have also done Evil Dead and Evil Dead 2.  Not to mention all the coverage I have given the RPG with stats for KISS, Xena and Gabrielle, and even a Keep on the Borderlands conversion.

I would put it in my list of "Top Ten Gamer Movies." 

I suppose I should figure out what the other nine are.  Off the top of my head?  Highlander, Star Wars, Monty Python's Holy Grail, The Princess Bride, Heavy Metal, Excalibur, and some more.

Sounds like a future post really.


2021 October Horror Movie Challenge

October 2021
Viewed: 16
First Time Views: 6.5

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Tim Knight of Hero Press and Pun Isaac of Halls of the Nephilim along with myself are getting together at the Facebook Group I'd Rather Be Killing Monsters to discuss these movies.  Follow along with the hashtag #IdRatherBeWatchingMonsters.


October Horror Movie Challenge: Island of the Fishmen/Screamers (1979/1980) & Dagon (2001)

Screamers (1980)
I wanted to get in some Innsmouth action this October, but I wanted to get them in tonight.  Up first is Island of the Fishmen from 1979, but the version I found was Sreamers, the re-edit from 1980.

Screamers (1980)

While this one is sold as a "Lovecraftian" movie, the only thing it has going for it Lovecraft-wise is that the Fishmen of the title were once humans.  The movie is part "Dagon" with Innsmouth now closer to the Bermuda Triangle, and little bits of Atlantis, and The Island of Dr. Moreau and some bits of voodoo thrown in for good measure.  The movie does have Barbara Bach in it, so that is a nice plus. 

I can't help but get a strong Isle of Dread vibe from this. The creatures in this, the fishmen, look a lot like the Kuo-toa and Locathah from D&D. Even though neither of those creatures appears in the adventure. 

The plot works well for a Victorian-era game.

Dagon (2001)
Dagon (2001)

I watched this one back in 2010 but I was in a pretty bad mood.  I remember it now while rewatching it.  This is the problem I am running into, most of the movies out there I have already seen.  Though watching it again I recalled/noticed a few things.  The Innsmouth/Imboca people really have the Deep Ones look down. It is actually quite better than I remembered.  Also, Ezra Godden as our protagonist Paul looks a LOT like Jeffery Combs circa ReAnimator. Sounds like him too in many places.  Not a huge surprise since one of the producers is Brian Yuzna. If this had been made in the 80s or 90s then Combs would have been in it.  Likely this is because he was doing Star Trek Enterprise at the time. 

The movie is better than I remember.  Not great mind you, but still better. I am not sure I remembered Paul wearing a "Miskatonic" sweatshirt, but it is a nice touch. 

One thing is certain. If I ever run Isle of Dread again it is going to be more Dagon and less King Kong. 


2021 October Horror Movie Challenge

October 2021
Viewed: 15
First Time Views: 6.5

Friday, October 8, 2021

October Horror Movie Challenge: The Color Out of Space (2010, 2019)

The Color Out of Space (2010)
Two different attempts at the same story.  One I have seen already and one that is new to me. 

The Color Out of Space (2010)

This one is a German film set in 1975. Part of the movie is in German. I was lamenting recently that I don't get to speak German enough, but this wasn't exactly what I had in mind.  

The movie is in Black & White, which is a neat touch I admit. It is a bit slow but very moody.  The b/w cinematography is used to great effect when the titular "color" reveals itself. 

The story is moved from the eerie woods of America's North East to the equally eerie woods of Germany's Black Forest. 

I have to admit, nothing is lost in the retelling in German. While the special effects are not great, they are used to great, well, effect. The CGI purple "color" against the black and white film could have been cheesy, but they make it work here.  Plus this is one time where CGI feeling out of place is perfectly fine, even expected.  

While it doesn't follow the letter of the story, it follows its spirit I feel.  It could have used a bit more editing though, some parts dig drag on longer than needed.  But really quite fun.


The Color Out of Space (2019)

The Color Out of Space (2019)

This is the Nick Cage one from a couple years ago and I watched last year. In fact almost last year to the day. 

I don't have much more to add, save I wanted to rewatch it for this Lovecraft film-fest and see how it compares to the 2010 version. 

While this one is far more polished and more explicit in it's horror I do feel maybe, maybe something is missing that the 2010 version was able to capture.  Of course I think the 2010 version gets closer to Lovecraft's style of storytelling of "show less, imagine more."

Though I stick to my original opinion of Nick Cage in this.






2021 October Horror Movie Challenge

October 2021
Viewed: 13
First Time Views: 5.5

Thursday, October 7, 2021

October Horror Movie Challenge: The Unnamable (1988)

The Unnamable (1988)
I started watching 1988's The Unnamable tonight thinking for sure I had seen it.  Started it, couldn't remember it, then realized I had seen it.

The Unnamable (1988)

So there must be an unwritten rule that all modern adaptations of H.P. Lovecraft must take place in or around Miskatonic University and/or Arkham. After all, it makes good sense and if I were a filmmaker it is what I would do as well.  Of course, it doesn't mean you always have to do it.

Case in point there is almost more about M.U. here than there is about the titular monster/character here.  We get glimpses into the undergraduate life, the student body (and bodies), even people majoring in things other than medicine and the dark arts.  But all of this is just fluff for the main story.  Again a common problem, how to make a full-length movie out of a short story.

This one features Lovecraft's reoccurring protagonist Randolph Carter (this time played by Mark Kinsey Stephenson).

It is typical late 80s fare. Lots of gore. Lots of implied sexual antics.  

In this second viewing (or third, who knows) I can help but think Randolph Carter here is kind of a jerk. By the time he comes around to helping anyone half the cast is dead. Yeah, it's a horror flick people are going to die, but his laissez-faire attitude borders on sociopathic negligence rather than a cool distance.

I wanted to also watch The Unnamable II but I can't find it anywhere.  This is also a problem I am having with other Lovecraft-based flicks.


2021 October Horror Movie Challenge

October 2021
Viewed: 11
First Time Views: 4.5

Tuesday, October 5, 2021

Review: SURVIVE THIS!! We Die Young RPG Core Rules (2021)

We Die Young
"Son, she said, have I got a little story for you
What you thought was your daddy was nothin' but a...
While you were sittin' home alone at age thirteen
Your real daddy was dyin', sorry you didn't see him,
but I'm glad we talked...

Oh I, oh, I'm still alive
Hey, I, I, oh, I'm still alive
Hey I, oh, I'm still alive."

Pearl Jam, "Alive" (1991)

It's October. There's a chill in the air and there is a feeling in the air. Something that makes me reflective, chilly, and maybe a little melancholy. Sounds like the 90s to me.  There is also a game that captures this feeling perfectly.  Bloat Games' newest offering in the SURVIVE THIS!! series; We Die Young RPG.

I have been waiting to share this with you all and today is that day! 

We Die Young RPG Core Rules

"Tell me do you think it would be alright If I could just crash here tonight?"

We Die Young RPG Core Rules is 372 pages with color covers and black and white interior art.  The book is digest-sized, so the same size as Bloat Games other games.  The game was Eric Bloat & Josh Palmer with art by Phil Stone and additional art by RUNEHAMMER & Diogo Nogueira.

For this review, I am considering the just-released PDF on DriveThruRPG that I got as a Kickstarter backer.  The print book is due out soon.

Comparisons between this game and their first game, Dark Places & Demogorgons are natural and I think needed. I spent a lot of time with DP&D so I am looking forward to seeing how I can use this game with that as well. But first, let's get into the game proper. 

The book begins with two dedications from the authors.  I want to repeat them here since they set the tone not just for the game but also for my review.

We Die Young Dedication

Growing up in the 1980s was fun.  Being in my late teens and 20s in the 1990s however, was AMAZING.  January 1990 I was a university undergrad, living in the dorms with a girlfriend that driving me crazy (not in a good way), but a best friend I hung out with all the time.  December 1999 I was married to that best friend, I had a brand new baby son, living in my new house, and was working on my first Ph.D.  That's no small amount of change.  But I never forgot that kid in 1990 with the flannel, goatee, Doc Martins, and long hair. This is the game for that kid.  
BTW "Layne" is Layne Staley, the former lead singer of Alice in Chains who died of a heroin overdose in 2002.  If you can't remember EXACTLY where you were when you heard Layne, Kurt, Shannon, or Chris was dead, then this game is, to turn a quote "not for you."

Introduction

"With the lights out, it's less dangerous. Here we are now, entertain us."

Here we are introduced to the newest SURVIVE THIS!! game. The authors are upfront about their inspirations here; grunge music from the 90s and the games that were popular at the time.  Having already gone through the book a few times it is a thread that weaved in overt and subtle ways, but it never feels overused, hackneyed, or clichéd.  We are given some in-game background for why the Pacific Northwest is so full of supernatural strangeness and it is a fun explanation.  But to quote the late, great Bard of Seatle I prefer it "always been and always be until the end."  But it works well. 

The basics of RPGs are covered and what you need to play.  Next we get into character creation.

We Die Young Character Sheet
Character Creation

"I'll be whatever you want. The bong in this Reggae song." 

Character creation follows the same process as other SURVIVE THIS!! games and by extension most Old-School games. We are told from the word go that we can add material we want from the other SURVIVE THIS!! games. 

Attributes are covered which include the standard six, plus the "Survive" attribute common to all SURVIVE THIS!! games.  My first thought?  My Dark Places and Demogons characters have grown up and moved to Seatle.

Like the other games in this family, Hit Points start with a 2d6 and increase by 1d6 per level regardless of class or race.  Combat can be quite deadly in these games for people used to the hardiness of even Old-School D&D characters.

Saving Throws are different from D&D but the same as DP&D with the edition of the Magic save.   This does make porting over characters and ideas from the other games pretty easy.

Alignment covers Righteous, Law, Neutral, Anarchist, and Evil. 

Races

"All I can say is that my life is pretty plain, You don't like my point of view and I'm insane."

Here we get into the really new material. We have a bunch of new races for this setting.  These include shapeshifting Doppelgangers, undead Ghouls, garden variety Humans, the immortal Imperishables, the ancient undead Jari-Ka, the various Realm-Twisted Fey (my new favorite, and I am sure I dated a Twitter Fey back then), Vampires (sparkles are optional), and Were-beasts of all stripes.  If you played ANY RPG in the 1990s you know what you are getting here, but still, they manage to make it feel both new and old at the same time.  New, because there is new potential here and old because they feel comfortably familiar; like that old flannel in the back of your closet or those beat-up old Doc Martens.

The races are well covered and you could easily drop them into any other SURVIVE THIS!! game or even any other Old-School game. They are really quite fun and I could not help but think of what characters I wanted to make with each one. This covers about 40 pages.

This is followed by a list of occupations with their bonuses. 

Classes

"This place is always such a mess. Sometimes I think I'd like to watch it burn."

We Die Young Witch
We Die Young is a class/level system.  There 16 classes for this game.  Some look like repeats from DP&D but are not really.  They are updated to this setting and older characters.  We are told that classes from the other SURVIVE THIS!! games are welcome here.

Our classes include the Mystic (tattoos mages), Naturalists (potheads, I mean druids), Papal Pursuant (soldiers of God), Psions (Carrie), Revenant (Eric Draven the Crow), Riot Grrl (what it says on the tin), Rock Star, Serial Killer, Shaman (oh here are the potheads), Sickmen (homeless, as seen by Sound Garden), Street Bard, Street Fighters, Thralls (Vampire servants), Tremor Christs (psionically powered religious prophets), Warlock (steal power for otherworlds), and what I can only assume is an attempt to get a good review from me (just kidding!) the Witch. 

The witch here is slightly different than the ones we find in DP&D.  So there can be no end to the witchy goodness you can have by combining games. 

That covers a healthy 50 pages.  

Skills

"And so I wake in the morning and I step outside, And I take a deep breath and I get real high.
And I scream from the top of my lungs. 'What's going on?'
"

The skill system for We Die Young is the same as DP&D.  Though without checking it feels a bit expanded.  You get points to put into skills and there are DCs to check.  Very 3e.  Or more like 3e IF it had been written in 1995.  So, yeah, another solid point for this game. 

Magic (& Psionics)

"Show me the power child, I'd like to say. That I'm down on my knees today."

Here is one of my favorite things in a game.  There is a mythos added to the system here that is rather fun (see Spellcasters & Salt) as well as rules for Rune-Tattoos.  Yeah, this is the 90s alright! 

Now I have to say this.  If adding a witch class is trying to get me to do a good review, then these spell names are outright flirting with me.  Spells called "All Apologies", "Heaven Beside You", "Black Days", "Wargasm", "Super Unknown", and "Far Behind"?  Yeah. That is hitting me where I live.  And that is only the very tip of the iceberg.

Magic, Spells and Psionics cover a little over 60 pages and I feel they could have kept going.

Equipment

"What did you expect to find? Was there something you left behind?"

No old-school flavored game is complete without a list of equipment. This includes common items, weapons, and even magical items.  Don't fret, it's not like there is a Magic Shop there. A "Health Locker" costs $50k and that is if you can find one. 

The list of drugs is really interesting and fun.  Look. It was the 90s. Everybody was taking drugs. 

New to this setting are the Zapatral Stones.  These are the remains of a meteorite that fell to Earth and hit the Pacific Northwest and Mount Rainer in particular.  They have strange power and effects depending on the size of the stone and the color.   

Playing the Game

"Whatsoever I've feared has come to life. Whatsoever I've fought off became my life."

Here we get our rules for playing the We Die Young game.   We get an overview of game terms, which is nice really. New rules for Curses, Exorcisms, and Madness are covered. It looks like to me they could be backported to DP&D rather easily. 

There is a fair number of combat rules.  Likely this has come about from the authors' experiences with their other game Vigilante City

We also get rules for XP & Leveling Up and Critical tables.

The World of We Die Young

"I'm the Man in the Box. Buried in my shit."

This is great stuff. This is the built-in campaign setting for We Die Young set place in a mythical and magical Pacific Northwest.  the TL;DR? Grunge woke supernatural creatures.  Ok, I can do that.  I mean it is not all that different than ShadowRun right?

The setting of the PNW/Seatle on the 90s is covered well.  I had many college friends that made the trek out to Seatle after our graduations (91 to 93 mostly), so I have some idea of what was happening on the ground level.  Twenty-somethings like me seemed drawn to the place by some mystic siren song.  A siren song with a Boss DS-2 distortion pedal. 

Various associations/groups are covered, like Jari-Ka circles, Ghoul Legacies, Vampire Lineages, were-kin groups.  Like I said, if you played RPGs in the 90s you know the drill. But again they are still both "new" and "old" at the same time. Kudos to the authors for giving me something new AND invoking nostalgia at the same time. 

We also get some great locations of note and some adventure seeds which include some creatures. 

Bestiary

"She eyes me like a Pisces when I am weak. I've been locked inside your heart-shaped box for weeks."

Gotta have Bigfoot
This covers all the creatures you can run into.  The stat blocks are similar enough to Basic-era D&D to be roughly compatible.  They are 100% compatible with other SURVIVE THIS!! games, so the excellent DARK PLACES & DEMOGORGONS - The Cryptid Manual will work well with this. In fact, I highly recommend it for this. 

There is a good variety of creatures.  Angels, Demons, BIGFOOT! and more. 

We get about 47 pages or so of monsters with stat blocks and an additional 10 pages of templates to add to monsters such as "Vampire" and "Radioactive."

Radioactive Bigfoot.  I don't need a plot. I have that!

We get Adventure Hooks next.  Roll a d100 and go!

The Appendix includes some Grung songs to get you into the mood.  Some Seattle Grunge bands, some not-Seatle Grunge Bands, and some late 80's and 90's Alternative bands.

There is a list of movies about the era. A list of books.  And finally the index and OGL.

Thoughts

"I don't mind the sun sometimes, the images it shows. I can taste you on my lips and smell you in my clothes."

Wow. What a really damn fun game!

If Dark Places & Demogorgons gave a "Stranger Things" 80s, this gives me a strange supernatural 90s.

It is exactly what I would have expected from the fine folks at Bloat Games.

My ONLY question about this setting is "Where are the UFOs and Aliens?"  I mean NOTHING was bigger in the 90s than "The X-Files."  I get that it is hard to cleave 90s Aliens to 90s supernatural (ask anyone that has tried to play WitchCraft AND Conspiracy X), but maybe a supplement is due out later?  I would suggest grabbing DARK PLACES & DEMOGORGONS - The UFO Investigator's Handbook to add some X-Files flavored goodness to We Die Young. 

Back in the early 2000s I had a game I was running, Vacation in Vancouver. It took place in the 90s and in Vancouver (naturally).  These rules make me want to revive that game and see where I could take it now. 

The bottom line for me is that SURVIVE THIS!! We Die Young RPG is a great game.  The pdf is fantastic and I can't wait for my Kickstarter books.

October Horror Movie Challenge: From Beyond (1986) & Banshee Chapter (2013)

From Beyond (1986) might have been the very first Lovecraft-based movie I ever saw.  I remember having the poster of it hanging in my room until I went off to college and then my brother had it in his room.  I was pleased to also find a new movie based on the same Lovecraft short story and this film.

From Beyond (1986)
From Beyond (1986)

I have been re-watching Star Trek: Enterprise, so I have been getting a fairly constant dose of Jeffrey Combs, but he looks so damn young here.  Incidentally, the doors in the psych ward make the same noise as the doors on classic Trek. 

This movie reunites Combs with Barbara Crampton, director Stuart Gordon, and producer Brian Yuzna.  Gordon wanted a core set of actors he could work with to do a bunch of Lovecraft's stories.  It's didn't quite turn out that way, which is too bad really.  Crampton and Combs have great on-screen chemistry; especially considering they have no scenes where they are "romantically" linked.  This is also the best of the batch of the Lovecraft movies.  Having Barbara Crampton as Dr. Katherine McMichaels, a strong woman as a Lovecraft protagonist is fantastic.   Combs does a great job as Tillinghast and you never once think of him as West from Re-Animator.  Ted Sorel was also fantastic as the mad Dr. Edward Pretorius. 

The movie holds up really well. The only things that seem "dated" in it are the hairstyles and technology.   Even many of the special effects are still great. 

I think I would have rather had a sequel to this one more so than Re-Animator.

Banshee Chapter (2013)
Banshee Chapter (2013)

I sort of got the sequel in Banshee Chapter.  This one combines the Lovecraft tale with the CIA's MK-ULTRA program. It features Katia Winter (who I adored in Sleepy Hollow), Ted Levine (from Silence of the Lambs and more recently The Alienist), and Michael McMillian (formerly of True Blood).

This features some "found footage" material, used to great effect in Blair Witch and Paranormal Activity and I think it works well here too.    In this movie, the dimensional shifting abilities are from a chemical created by the CIA, and some short-wave radio broadcasts over Number Stations.  I will tell you this, if you don't like jump scares, avoid this movie.  

The mixing of Lovecraft's base story, secret CIA programs, weapons-grade hallucinogens, and creepy urban legends makes for an attractive mix.

Katia Winter plays Anne Roland, a journalist searching for her missing friend James Hirsch (McMillian) who filmed himself taking some of MK-ULTRA's super-LSD (DMT-19) and has now disappeared.   She investigates the mystery and stumbles upon a recording of her friend picked up by a short-wave radio hobbyist who also happened to have worked for the NSA.

Ted Levin brilliantly plays Thomas Blackburn, a Hunter S. Thompson-like character.   This is getting better all the time.

Anne views some CIA footage on the effects of the drugs. She watches one of the patients/test subjects get attacked by some creature in the dark.  She also learns that DMT-19 is extracted directly from dead human pineal glands. 

Anne finally gets in contact with Blackburn and they do some DMT-19 created by Blackburn's friend Callie (Jenny Gabrielle).  Callie, who took some DMT-19 earlier, begins to show the same behavior that James did on the tape.  They see creatures that they normally could not see.  Much like how the Resonator does in From Beyond.  At one point we see Callie, all white-skinned and black eyes, vomiting up a ton of blood. It's a lot of fun.  

Monique Candelaria also appears as "Patient 14," one of the CIA test subjects.  She would later make another contribution to Lovecraft media in "Lovecraft Country."

Maybe it is my ears, but I found it helpful to have the Closed Captions turned on.

We learn after some scares and a run in with Callie that Blackburn never gave Anne the drug. Though she can hear and see the creatures.  We also find out the drug can be transmitted via touch and Blackburn was a subject of the CIA experiments when he was a teen.

Pretty good flick, but it sort of fell apart at the end.  I read the director ran out of time for filming and you can kind of tell.  But still, it was fun.  They even name drop Lovecraft in it.


2021 October Horror Movie Challenge

October 2021
Viewed: 9
First Time Views: 4

Monday, October 4, 2021

Monstrous Mondays: Alchemical Zombie

Ah. Monstrous Mondays in October.  Nothing goes better together. They are peanut butter cups of my regular series postings.  So let's get this first Monday in October started off right with a monster that screams Halloween monsters to me.  Zombies.

After watching the Re-Animator trilogy this one is a, pardon the pun, a no brainer.

Zombie
Zombie, Alchemical

Medium Undead* 

Frequency: Very Rare
Number Appearing: 1d8 (1d12)
Alignment: Chaotic [Chaotic Evil]
Movement: 150' (50') [15"]
Armor Class: 7 [12]
Hit Dice: 3d8+12*** (26 hp)
To Hit AC 0: 13 (+6)
Attacks: 2 claws, 1 bite
Damage: 1d6+3 x2, 1d4+3
Special: Fast, immune to turning, special abilities (see below)
Save: Monster 3
Morale: 12 (12)
Treasure Hoard Class: None
XP: 125 (OSE) 170 (LL)

Str: 19 (+3) Dex: 16 (+2) Con: 20 (+4) Int: 3 (-3) Wis: 1 (-4) Cha: 3 (-3)

Alchemical Zombies are created not by dark necromantic powers, but by forbidden sciences and alchemical means.  They look like normal zombies, but the similarities end there.   An alchemical zombie is fast, rolling normally for the initiative.  While they are a form of undead, they are not reanimated by necromancy or evil magic, therefore they can not be turned by a cleric.   

An alchemical zombie is mindless in its attacks.  It will seek out any living creature and attack it with claws and bites.  It will not stop until the living flesh it is attacking is torn to pieces.  Some alchemical zombies will eat the flesh, but they do not need to do it for sustenance, but instead only as a dim reflection of memory of enjoying food.  They do not rot beyond what their decomposed flesh has already done before their conversion and can last indefinitely.  Even hacked-off limbs will continue to seek out warm blood and flesh to tear and rend.  If there are no living creatures around the zombies will go into a passive stupor. They will "awaken" once a living person or creature comes within 60 ft of them.

In the process of making an alchemical zombie, alchemists discovered that by adding certain potions or chemicals can impart special powers on the zombie.  These powers and their sources are detailed below.

Roll d20 Potion/Chemical Effect
 1-3  Contol Undead  Summons 1d4 normal zombie per day
 4-5  ESP  +1 to attacks, saves and AC 
 6-7  Fire Resistance  +2 to saves vs. Fire damage   
 8-9  Giant Strength  +4 to damage per attack
 10-13  Healing / Troll Blood  Regenerates 2 hp per round
 14-15  Heroism  +2 to attacks
 16-17  Invulnerability  +4 bonus to AC 
 18-19  Speed  2 extra claw attacks every other round
 20  Super Heroism  +4 to attacks

In all cases, these powers are reflected in the XP values above.

Only fire can truly destroy these creatures and they must be reduced to ash. 

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For today's entry I thought it might work if I returned the "To Hit AC 0" line to the stat block.