My top 5 Halloween family favourites

It’s the most wonderful time of the year… Happy Halloween!

Once upon a time I was a video store guy that wrote reviews (they’re all here)!

To celebrate the festivities, I’ve sifted out my top five reviews for spooky films to enjoy with the whole family.

Ready to trick or treat? Let’s go!

5. Godzilla (1954)

The review.

The original and the best. Need an in to introduce Kaiju to the kids? There have been many fine entries in recent years including Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) and Shin Godzilla (2016), but the original is still the best.

The destruction effects are top notch and the story is surprisingly engaging.

A solid classic.

Note: There is an English dub for the little ones not quite ready for subtitles.

4. Hotel Transylvania

The review.

With three to choose from (and a fourth on the way), if you are going to start somewhere – this is your ideal entry point. Adam Sandler is no stranger to spooky performances from the son of the devil in Little Nicky (2000) to the bumbling title character of Hubie Halloween (2020). His best, in my humble opinion, is his Dracula; a protective father afraid of being left in the past.

With all your favourite monsters, this one is guaranteed to get some giggles.

3. Metallica Through the Never

The review.

Okay bear with me, I know this is a stretch. Heavy metal and horror go hand in hand and Metallica are no exception. Their sound and lyrics draw from a rich history of horror influences from Universal Monsters to HP Lovecraft, the bible to Vietnam.

Metallica are all about horror, and the surreal trip of a movie that surrounds this live concert draws heavily on the tropes we’ve come to know and love.

And besides, is it ever too early to introduce your kids to some of the finest music of the 20th century? I think not.

2. Frankenweenie

The review.

Tim Burton’s career is tent-poled by Halloween classics. Edward Scissorhands (1990), Sleepy Hollow (1999), and Corpse Bride (2005) just to name a few.

Frankenweenie began life as a live-action short film in 1984. It was Burton’s love letter to his spooky and sci-fi cinematic influences. This stop-motion remake expands on that idea with more mayhem and higher stakes to deliver a rollercoaster of fun that stays true to the monochrome aesthetic of the original.

1. ParaNorman

The review.

The best zombie movie you will ever watch with your kids. Part ghost story, part coming of age drama, this is storytelling at its finest. The stop-motion animation is second to none with tons of fun, scares, and genuinely touching moments by the spoonful.

A genuine classic that will not disappoint.

What are your Halloween favourites? Share your memories and recommendations in the comments!

Artist Showcase – Bryn DC

Art – by Bryn DC
Words – by Morgan Thistlethwaite

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This accepted reality is but a delicately thin veil. What lies beneath, one can’t even begin to comprehend. Unless of course, you are artist Bryn DC, whose body of work explores this realm of unimaginable horror, bringing nightmares to life through sculpture, photography and moving images.

The year is 2006. The place, a student house in Canberra. Like the others at this party, I am an aspiring young artist, drawn by the promise of something deliciously bohemian and debaucherously dangerous. Not quite Dogs in Space, but still very exciting to a wide-eyed country boy like me. Every room buzzes with an energy that only the young, inspired, and hopeful can create. The bottle in my hand is empty. This minor setback leads me to the kitchen where I retrieve a fresh bottle from the fridge. I remove the twist-top lid and flick it in the general direction of the bin when I am accosted by a tall teenager with angular features.

“Birdseed under the eyelids!” he shouts, wild eyes gleaming under a floppy fringe, “Can you imagine anything more painful?” He gesticulates the action with his hands. As strange as he is, he certainly has my attention.

Flashforward three years, after I’ve escaped our nation’s Capital Territory to settle in Melbourne, and I’ve all but forgotten about this strange boy. Unbeknownst to me, the strange boy has outgrown Canberra and I am surprised to learn that he’s living a suburb away, on the couch of a mutual friend. In need of a place to stay until he finds his feet, he moves in to the spare room of our Brunswick house with my brother and me. With two cats and a backyard, this arrangement is good, if not a little chaotic. The place has become some kind of halfway-home for artists and backpackers. I move out, and life goes on.

Another three years pass, and it comes to be that once again, I have a spare room that Bryn DC ends up living in. With more cats and more backyard, it is slightly less chaotic—though not by much.

Situations and living arrangements change again and again. Every now and then our paths cross, but there is always one constant with Bryn DC, and that’s his passion for horror and art.

Over the years, like many of us, he’s tried his hand at a variety of disciplines to expand his knowledge, and to find his true calling as an artist. The journey has brought him to now, where he’s landed with both feet firmly on the ground, in photography. Drawing on his wide range of skills and experience in special effects and sculpture, he’s able to tell tales that span horror, alternate dystopian timelines (both past and future), and all in a style that is truly recognisable as his own.

The proof is in the pudding.

For more art and full credits visit: https://bryndc.com/


Follow and support Bryn DC at:

https://www.facebook.com/bryndcphotography/

https://www.instagram.com/bryndc/

 

 

Reviewed: Metal Dead (2011)

Game Review – by Morgan Thistlethwaite

Metal Dead

As a casual gamer, I’m always a little behind the curve when it comes to something new. For example, it was only four years ago that I truly immersed myself in the experience that is the point-and-click adventure (about 20 years after they peaked). Equipped with my (relatively) recently solid knowledge of such things, I feel it is my privilege and duty to review this modern take on a well-trodden genre.

Speaking of well-trodden genres, a zombie apocalypse is nothing new but that’s the backdrop for this story, and it’s your job to keep plucky protagonist Malcolm Campbell alive, as well as get to the bottom of who or what is responsible for all the horror.

The game begins with two metalheads, Malcolm and his best friend Ronnie, driving into the heart of the zombie outbreak. Why? Because Ronnie says it’s “the most metal thing that’s ever happened” to them. Unfortunately, the car crashes and you must help Malcolm escape the zombie hordes. To do this you must get Malcolm off the streets and inside the MediGeniTech building (a science research centre) and it is here that he meets the mysterious Dr. Fechenheim who charges Malcolm with helping him continue with his bizarre experiments.

From here, the story leads Malcolm through the building where he will meet a host of characters who either help or hinder him in his efforts to reach the helicopter at the top of the building. Can you help Malcolm save everyone and discover the cause of the outbreak? What does Dr. Fechenheim have to do with all of this?

This comedy/horror game from Walk Thru Walls Studios is your standard 2D point-and-click adventure affair, and even for that, it’s pretty lo-fi. The dialogue is delivered through text, the art and animation is scratchy, and the music is presented in glorious MIDI, which gives the overall experience a DIY edge that makes you think, “hell, I could make one of these!”

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And maybe you could, but what this game lacks in flashiness, it more than makes up for with a fun little story and snappy dialogue just like the classic games it pays homage to. The humour is played to full effect with just enough self-awareness and pop culture references to help you forgive its shortcomings.

The art is somewhat reminiscent of that goth comic style (Johnny the Homicidal ManiacLenore, the Cute Little Dead Girl) that became popular in the late ’90s, almost cute in its simplicity but obviously drawn by someone with a psychological disorder. It works for this game and has plenty of charm to keep you playing.

On the subject of effective simplicity, the same can be said for the music. Using standard MIDI sounds, Josh Birch delivers a soundtrack that makes you feel like you’re in a John Carpenter movie. There is a surprising degree of versatility in the noise coming out of those speakers using the most primitive of digital sounds.

The puzzles are logical and satisfyingly challenging too. I must admit that I did have to consult a walk-through guide with one puzzle because I missed an element in the narrative.

Basically, if you haven’t played this game and are a fan of Monkey Island, Leisure Suit Larry, metal, and zombies, then perhaps you’re missing out. Metal Dead is a great way to kill a few hours if you still have the patience for the point-and-click adventure.

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Buy it on Steam for $4.99 USD.