Monday, 31 October 2011

Halloween-O-Thon Part The Third

Hello there, I hope you are having fun tonight. I am busy constructing an elaborate bucket-of-fish-heads trap for the local trick or treaters. They love it when they ring the doorbell and 10 pounds of mackerel rains down on their heads. Their cries and squeals of delight can be heard for miles.

Now let me tell you about one of my favourite scary films.

The Thing

The Thing is magnificent, possibly John Carpenter's greatest film - sod Halloween, The Fog, Escape From New York, and In The Mouth of Madness because The Thing is better than all of them. In fact, The Thing combines the best parts of the other films to make a fantastic whole. The stalking suspense of Halloween, the implacable weather conditions of The Fog, the coolness of having Kurt Russell acting all anti-heroic, and the paranoia and creeping fear of In The Mouth of Madness.

Look, watch this and you'll see that even the trailer is great.

"Man is the warmest place to hide."


Much like Invasion of the Body Snatchers, the real horror of The Thing, is the loss of self. The thought that a creature could take your body, your personality, your being, your form and parade around in your skin, living your life. The victims of The Thing are perfect duplicates, the facsimiles retain memories and personality, nothing gives them away until it's too late.

Of course for those who don't consider identity theft a horrific idea, there's always the fact that The Thing can shapeshift into millions of hideous forms and kill you with pseudopods, teeth and alien ejaculate.

The film is set in a remote outpost, cut off from civilization and surrounded by harsh weather conditions. There is no escape from the alien terror, no safe haven to hide within, no outside help to call in to remove the problem. The desolate surroundings add to the air of encroaching hopelessness, of a land howling in pain and wanting to scrub itself of this alien infection.

Plus Kurt Russell is fantastic in this film. Snake Plissken and Jack Burton are cartoon (anti)heroes, RJ MacReady is a more rounded, everyman character. MacReady is clearly someone who has seen horror before, his matter of fact demeanour with each new crisis suggests someone who has seen horror and conflict. He's also a man with little remorse or love for his fellow cabin mates. I have a theory about MacReady, it's not a clever one but I think he was a Vietnam veteran. He's a helicopter pilot, he's sullen to the point of being anti-social (hell, he lives in a shack away from the rest of the men), he's a drinker, and he knows how to handle a weapon and explosives. For MacReady the paranoia in the research base is probably very similar to the constant fear of time spent in the jungles of Vietnam. That's just my theory anyway. Not ground breaking or particularly insightful but I think Russell's performance does give some depth to the character that isn't in the script.

I was fortunate enough to see The Thing in the cinema last year. There were two showings over one evening, both sold out. It was amazing to view the film on the big screen with a packed audience cringing and shifting uncomfortably during the quiet periods and reacting with yelps and cries of horror during the gory action sequences.

The Thing is a film that should live on your shelf, slowly absorbing the other DVDs into its collective and making them dance for its own amusement.

No I don't know what I meant by that last part either.

Halloween-O-Thon Part The Second

Hope you're enjoying the evening so far, please avoid the apples, I hear they have raisins in them.

Sorry, razors.

Here is Limmy off that Limmy's Show with his own scary story.

Halloween-O-Thon Part The First

Hello, it's Halloween night so I thought I'd share some of the scariest videos and posts with you. First up is this bone chilling tale from a very young Stephen Fry.

Brace yourself for the horror that is, The Letter.

Friday, 28 October 2011


Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Web Snark - Torchwood: Web of Lies

Today I was reminded by Rob Buckley that Starz commissioned a Torchwood webseries starring Eliza Dushku. At the time the news was too terrible to contemplate so I blanked it from my mind, but now I have been reminded of it, I must see it. You can watch it too. JOIN ME. Go on, watch it and then come back for some of my thoughts.

That was terrible wasn't it? I mean, really bad. The animation is awful, like something from a flash video from ten years ago. The artwork varies wildly in quality from frame to frame, it seems that whoever is responsible is trying to ape Bryan Hitch without actually being any good. Gwen in particular varies in appearance from frame to frame, just watch how her nose changes shape.

Speaking of Gwen, Eve Myles destroys Eliza Dushku. Eliza's performance is the usual comatose, emotionless reading that she usually delivers. A particular highlight being when she can't muster any kind of strong emotion at the news of the 'death' of her brother. She sounds like she's burnt the toast rather than suffered the loss of a loved one. Eve, to her credit, gives her usual full on Gwen performance.

There's supposed to be an intriguing mystery behind it all as Gwen's scenes are set in 2007 whereas Eliza's character is living through the Miracle Day. Jack is kidnapped but there's no suspense as we all know that he's fine when Miracle Day begins. Plus, who really believes that anything of any real consequence will happen to the main characters in a webseries that only managed 30,000+ views since its release (as of today)?

The blessing is that the episode is only four minutes long so at least it doesn't take up too much of your time. The frightening thing is that the rest of the series is only available on iTunes but someone who was dedicated/insane filmed their PC and put the videos up on YouTube. I believe there are ten episodes in total, you would have to send me real cash money to make me watch more than the first episode. I'm talking upwards of an English pound.

Friday, 14 October 2011

The Mosquito Song - An Interview About A Book With ML Kennedy

Hello, sometimes I read books, you know those paper things with all the pages and writing in them. I usually don't review them because between my gaming, watching TV, and posting stupid recaps, it takes me weeks to read a novel. I love books though, I'm just neglectful in my affections. Why am I waffling on about books? Well, someone has knocked on the door of Snark and Fury Towers, book in hand, asking to be let in and take up a moment of your time.

Let's see what he has to say for himself...

Who are you and what are you doing here?

I'm ML Kennedy. I'm here to shill my book, The Mosquito Song.  I mean, I’m here to talk about my work of literature in a dignified manner. Really, though, you should all buy it. It’s easy to read and it comes with a free short story!

What is your book about?

The Mosquito Song is about what it means to be human when we are given the ability to push the boundaries of what one might consider human. Or, less pretentiously, it is about a vampire who travels to Chicago to solve a mystery after being accosted at a grocery store near Buffalo, New York. 

What makes your vampire story unique within the genre? 

The Mosquito Song is different from other vampire stories in that it is completely bereft of supernatural elements. Other vampire stories try this thing, but usually give some half assed exposition about viruses without really understanding how these things work. They say their vampires aren't magical, but the vampires still explode quite easily. 

I think that The Mosquito Song is more aware of the genre, as well. The character has seen depictions of vampires in various media and will react to them.

Does the book contain any life lessons? Or practical advice? Like how to cook the perfect bolognese or change a lightbulb?

The book contains a few life lessons and quite a bit of practical advice. In fact, it gives one useful hints on home invasion, stealing cars, and attacking strangers.
For culinary questions I would advocate Irma Rombauer's indispensable Joy of Cooking which offers handy recipes for everything from pancakes to squirrels.
To change a light bulb, I was once informed by a college professor to get seven youth Spartacists:  one to turn the light bulb and six more to yell "Smash darkness!"

Did you listen to any music while writing your novel? Is there a track or album that you consider to be the soundtrack to the book?

In college, I used to play the Ramones to write papers more quickly. I once wrote fourteen pages in 45 minutes while listening to Ramones Mania. Nowadays, though, I tend to get distracted if things are going on during the actual typing.
For the second part: I think the Talking Heads "Life During Wartime" is probably representative of the manic bit of the book, whereas the depressive parts can be summed up by the Flaming Lips "Feeling Yourself Disintegrate".

As an American, do you find yourself living in morbid fear that one day Great Britain will return to reclaim its former colonies?

My grandmother is Canadian, so I think I'd be able to adjust. This is providing, of course, that a large percentage of the conquering forces were wearing fascinators and/or spoke like Gumbys.

If you could have a celebrity endorsement of your book, who would you choose?

Carl Weathers, star of Action Jackson. It would have to be either Carl Weathers or Kim Jong-Il.

How about a fictional character to endorse the book? Who then?

Ron Swanson from Parks and Recreation. I try to live my life by his teachings.

Name a hairy dog.

My own dog is quite hairy. He’s part mountain dog and has this ridiculous double coat that sheds clumps of white fur. They come out in handfuls like giants balls of cotton. He has the common dog name of the General Douglas MacArthur. We almost went with the General DOGlas MacArthur, but my wife has a strong distaste for puns.

If you could guest star on a TV show, which show would it be and what would your guest role be?

I'd kind of like to be thrown from Graham Norton's big red chair. I think it would also like to be stabbed by Ian McShane on Deadwood.

Either way.

Finally, where can we buy your book? 

Right now, paper copies of the book are being hand-pressed in Austin, Texas and are set to be released on Halloween through Tiny Toe Press. Americans can find the paperback or the eBook at . British folk can go to Amazon and buy a Kindle version for the pre-sale price of £2.23.  So that’s about two pounds and whatever it is you people call a quarter. 


Right, I think we've heard enough from this fellow now. I think if you were to purchase his novel it would prevent him having to aimlessly wander the streets, waving his book around and harassing the locals. Of course it may only encourage the fellow to produce more of his penny dreadfuls...

If you would like to return the favour and harass Mr Kennedy in his own home then why not visit

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Web Snark - Dragon Age: Redemption

Hello, today sees the release of multi media tie-in webseries, Dragon Age: Redemption. I enjoyed Dragon Age: The First Game and found it to be a deep, complex, and very well written fantasy world. A webseries set in the same universe would surely be an instant hit. Redemption stars Felicia Day out of that webseries about MMORPGs that the kids all like, and she was in that Joss Whedon show, and that other one, oh and that singing supervillain webseries that everyone loved. It also stars Doug Jones who was Abe Sapien in that film where Ron Perlman wears red paint.

So the pedigree is there, let's have a watch and I'll jot down my thoughts as we go along.

0:25 - This is taking forever, we've only just got to the title card. You know what's good about games? You can usually skip the endless title cards at the beginning.

0:30 - And so we begin with a massive chunk of expository text. This is always a bad sign. If you have to write down the entire background to your film and force the audience to read it before they can start watching, there's something wrong with your plot/script.

0:42 - More text and, as Mr Richard Cobbett pointed out, someone keeps splashing blood all over the background. Although splashing blood on everything (and using the accompanying blood splatter sound effect) is a fine Dragon Age tradition as you will soon realise.


0:45 - This bit about "The Qun" is very simplistic and slightly misleading. What I gleaned from the playing Dragon Age 2 is that it's basically communism with a caste system. Peasants from a feudal system encounter The Qun system and sometimes decide that they're better off working for/with the Qunari so up sticks and leave their noble masters. I don't think there's any evidence in the game lore of anyone being 'forcibly' converted (other than in unreliable accounts from the nobles who have lost subjects to The Qun or from Qunari occupied villages that mass converted to it). That's what I like about Dragon Age though, it's complex and you can never really know if you're being told the correct version of events. Seriously, you should give the game a try. A five minute webseries is always going to struggle to convey the complexity of an 80+ hour game.


0:55 - More text. Mages, power struggle, blah, blah.

1:10 - Finally, a set and some actors!

1:13 - "This will make you talk." Not if you put a knife in his throat, it won't.

1:26 - The guy on your right, look at his armour - it's paper! Look at it! That's papercraft armour!

1:44 - Hey look, it's Doug Jones! Hi Doug! I hope Del Toro makes another monster movie soon so you don't have to keep appearing in stuff like this.

1:45 - Sorry, I should say that Doug is playing a Qunari. There supposed to muscle bound giants. It looks like they only managed 'taller than average'.

2:22 - Magic Fingernails of Choking? I don't remember this spell from the game.

2:35 - Well, that's the opening sequence over with. Didn't it remind you of a live action intro to a terrible 90s game when live action in games was all the rage - ON CD-ROM?

2:48 - Those pig carcasses look very plastic. Maybe fantasy pigs are made of plastic in Kirkwall?

2:53 - Why is she chopping the same bit of pork over and over? Is it because it's not really meat and therefore an illusion of butchery, carefully constructed for our entertainment?

3:19 - "Knife-ears" is the crappest fantasy racial slur I have heard. "Hey you, yeah you! Your ears look like knives! Hahahaha!" "Uh okay, see ya." The world of Dragon Age is supposed to be a horribly racist place, the least they could do is come up with an insult that would actually cause offence rather than mild annoyance.

3:25 - So this fight doesn't make a lot of sense, she seems to parry his knife with a bone and outmuscle a man who's got several pounds in weight on her. I know this is supposed to establish Felicia Day's badassery but they could have at least coreographed the fight to make it look credible.

4:00 - This Qunari's wig is... incredible.

4:24 - Hey look it's the low cut suit of armour that provides no protection to the chest! Hooray for Armour of Fan Service +1!

4:48 - She jumps out of a tree so hard that her hood magically removes itself from her head rather than dropping forward and covering her face.

5:03 - "I'll carve it out of you - but my battle axe is made of rubber, so can I borrow a knife?"

5:15 - Look, it's the man who wears paper armour! And in bright daylight the armour looks as flat, thin, and two-dimensional as paper!

5:25 - So the choreography for this fight is, "wave your weapons in circles in the air and then Felicia does a backflip to redraw her knives which she had already drawn in the previous shot."

6:08 - Look out! A slight incline! Someone might fall down that and graze a knee!

6:28 - Nooooo! They fell down the slope! The grazing! The terrible grazing!

6:34 - It's okay, Felicia did a cool action pose after rolling down the incline so she's fine. The other guy probably has a nasty cut on his knee, maybe even a bruise on his arm.

6:38 - And just for the fans, here's a Nicola Bryant style cleavage shot of Felicia while on top of a man.

6:51 - She puts her knives against his throat.

6:54 - Cut to his face and there are no knives against his throat, in fact, nowhere near.

7:00 - Blood!

7:02 - Which then splatters all over the credits.

Okay, that was bad. Felicia does not convince as a cool, deadly assassin and everyone else in it is clearly from the local amateur dramatic society (apart from Doug Jones of course). I don't understand why EA/Bioware would give the go ahead on this series without providing some help with the budget. This is not a good introduction to the Dragon Age world and it will surely struggle to pull in the casual fan based on the production values on screen. If I didn't know anything about Dragon Age, this would not convince me to investigate further. However, this series will probably get a healthy number of views due to the power of Felicia (in fact it's already at 40,000 within a couple of hours of release) so I'm sure there's some kind of plan behind it. I'm just not sure what the aim of this webseries is.

NEXT EPISODE - Lots more rubber ears as Felicia visits the elves.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

The Fades - An Introduction

Hello, I have been watching BBC Three's The Fades and it's quite good. I understand some of you may not have watched it so I have prepared this quick character guide to prepare you. After this you can quite happily tune into the show, already clued in!

So now you know everything, there's no excuse not to check it out. It's on the iPlayer or on BBC 3 Wednesdays at 9.00pm.