Archive for » January, 2010 «

Tuesday, January 26th, 2010 | Author: Casey Criswell

As you may have noticed, I’ve been quiet for the last week. There’s a few reasons for that, the primary one being one hell of a cold that laid me low for a good three to four days! However, even though I’m fast approaching the far side of ‘mid-30′s’, I still find myself believing today what I believed when I was a kid; nothing makes a cold better like video games and a juice box! Luckily for me, my onset of the plague happened to coincide with the arrival of “Darksiders” from Vigil Games and helped to pass the time in between those moments that the fever rendered me unconcscious.

It’s the end of days; angels and demons are falling to earth to wage their final war and bring the apocalypse upon mankind! Among them comes War, the Fourth Horseman who is tasked with bringing balance to Heaven and Hell in the end of days! The only problem is; once War arrives, he realizes that the other three horseman have not arrived. When he faces off against Abaddon, leader of Heavens forces, War learns that the Seventh Seal was never broken and Armageddon was never meant to start. Which means, something fishy is going on in the cosmic forces and War is tasked by the Charred Council to find out the answers!

I’ve said this a few times before; I love me some end of the world stories. Taking control of War, one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocolypse is a pretty natural fit! Though the story is farily basic throughout the game, there is enough of a carrot to keep you pressing on to hear the next step in the saga. It won’t blow your mind, but it will entertain and that’s what counts! Mix in level design and backdrops that are excellent in their crumbling humankind decay and it really is a good bit of fun. The story also sets up well for a sequel or two which given what we’ve seen so far, is a pretty exciting accomplishment.

The story and artwork aren’t really the things that are going to trip your trigger here in “Darksiders” however. That nugget comes in the form of some flat out addictive and fun gameplay that will be hauntingly familiar to anyone who might call themselves a gamer. The thing is, “Darksiders” takes its gameplay directly from two stellar sources; you have the excellent dungeon crawling and puzzle solving of Zelda: Ocarina of Time mixed with the gory and meaty combat of God of War! So not only do you get a healthy dose of old school Zelda fun, you get the satisfaction of beating the crap out of giant demons as well. All tied up with a pretty little end of the world bow.

This potent combination manages to entice and hold attention and makes for a great game experience. You will see a reptetition in the monsters you battle with along the way, however they will be suitably scaled in dificulty as you march up through the ranks. As well, there are enough different common monsters models to help keep the combat from growing too terribly stale which is nice. The puzzle play early on is fairly basic as you would expect and grows in difficulty as you make your way through the world. There is never really a moment that the puzzles feel too brain breakingly hard, but they are still satisfying without feeling too basic. The difficulty does ramp up fairly high in the late stages of the game for the puzzles but combat does not scale quite as well which does manage to leave a few of your final battles feeling a bit over simplified. Regardless, with the package that you’ve traversed up until that point, you really don’t mind because you’re having so much fun.

The benefits of “Darksiders” far outweigh its shortcomings. The controls are solid enough when it counts, though there is room for improvement. When fighting giant demonic beasties who swing with their mighty oversized paws, it would be handy to have a quick and responsive dash button at hand to help avoid the carnage. While there is a dodge button available too you, it often feels a bit sluggish which throws off your attacks when trying to stay alive from time to time. Again, not a game breaker, but it does require some getting used to in order to over come the delay and in this game, dodging attacks is a pretty integral battle strategy. Beyond that, the controls for the additional Zelda-esque secondary weapons such as the ‘Cross Blade’ (Boomerang) work well enough.

In the end, I play a ton of XBox 360 games throughout the year. There’s generally at least a rental involved for any given new release just to give you an idea. “Darksiders” however is the first game in a few months that has completely sucked in my attention to an almost obsessive degree. Often times I have the attention span of a gnat, other times I become so narrow focused on whatever game I’m playing my wife starts to wonder if I died back in the man cave or not. This is a time that she almost considered calling in the search party. Well, more realstically, she thought about just locking the door to the man cave, but still. The point is still the same! The game will hit you hard with its ‘just one more’ level design and the fights are fun enough to watch with War’s over the top death animations to make you smile. All in all, this is a great game which I highly recommend you to play.

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Monday, January 11th, 2010 | Author: Casey Criswell

Myself, Bryan Wolford and Brother D

(Myself, Bryan Wolford of Drunken Zombie and Brother D of Mail Order Zombie)

I found myself inspired this morning by a post by my good friend Brother D over at House Improbabilia, so I decided I’m going to rip him off. Why not, its all free on the internet right? Nevermind the fact that he is in fact a pretty good friend and would feel all warm and fuzzy knowing he helped inspire somebody on to something of their own.

Anywho…

It’s the kick off of a new year and with such a time frame, resolutions are always the latest fad. I’m not one for following fads. However, with the myriad of personal changes over the past few months that I’ve been undertaking to ward off anxiety and such, I’ve decided that while I believe resolutions are over rated and destined to fail, goals are indeed pretty important to have. So we’ll call these goals.

I, like Brother D above have a large number of goals both personal and professional alike, so I shall share the writing goals with you here today. I don’t think you really care to hear about my personal goals such as ‘Remember to Bathe More Than Once a Week’ or ‘Remember to wear pants’; they’re just not that exciting!

So, let’s get to it.


Goal #1
– Butt in chair; write for at least an hour every day. Sundays off for rest. So far, this one is going pretty good though I’d be lying if I said it was every day. Regardless, I’m still writing a hell of a lot more here as of late.

Goal #2 – Bring Cinema Fromage back from the dead. As you can see, I’m already hard at work on th is goal. I’ve let this site fall too far over the last year as my anxiety issues grew and responsibilities else where grew along side it. So, back to basics here with more content. This will range from both more reviews and editorials along with updates on my supposed writing career, so there’s that to look forward to.

Goal #3 – Cinema Fromage Review Collection. I started on this epic undertaking a little over a year ago. Its a simple fact that I’ve been just flat out lazy about it. The goal is to collect all of the reviews over the past four years here at Cinema Fromage, package them together in one book alongside some anecdotal stories on how I became a horror nerd, and self publish it all through a self publisher. I honestly don’t expect to sell any copies of such a collection, but its something I want sitting on my bookshelf. I figure I’ll through the link around out here as well just in case.

Goal #4 – Attack the magazine market. It’s time I branch out beyond just reviews and news desk postings and adding more editorial and feature style articles with a firm focus on the magazine market. Fango, Horror Hound, any of them!

Goal #5 – Expand my topics. I love my horror movies, don’t get me wrong. It’s all I’ve written on for quite some time. This year, I will expand my horizons a bit and find some places for more writing. Be it writing about more mainstream films or even books, I’m game. Most importantly, with my new found love of comic books, I’d like to find a place to do some editorials and reviews on the comic book world. This comic book centric goal is probably foremost on the list. Know anybody wanting some comic book editorials, let me know!

Goal #6 – Fiction. I’ve slacked off on my fiction writing too much as of late. With a solid four or five short stories already published or getting ready to being published, theres no excuse to go without more. Besides, I’ve already proved I can do it. It’s time to shake off the funk and get cranking to ad some more credits to ye old resume. There may be a novel kicking around in there too, but there and some solid short stories as well.

Goal #7 – Finish the script to “Blood Hound”. To go along with my new found love of comic books, I dreamed of writing them for years. I’ve scripted in the past with artists eventually flaking out on me leaving me befuddled and frustrated. Starting about Mid Novemeber, I started putting together a script for a dark detective tale called “Blood Hound”. This I hope to be revealing more info on later and shopping around for some artists here soon too!

So, there’s a handful of goals for this year as far as Cinema Fromage and my so-called writing career goes! I say so-called because I’ve been lazy. But as you can see, that is about to change.

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Sunday, January 10th, 2010 | Author: Casey Criswell

80′s comedies are generally something pretty special, and I’ve watched a ton of them over the years. I was a little surprised when I came across “Midnight Madness” as I’d never heard of it! A quick scan over the movie’s IMDb page cast showed a friendly little family comedy with a pretty stellar cast which proved interesting if not a little flat. After all, ‘family’ comedies aren’t generally too good, especially in that area. Thankfully though, I suppressed the urge to move on and went ahead and hit play and found myself watching a pretty enjoyable little family comedy with a tiny bit of adult humor, but funny in both ironic and non-ironic forms.

The likes of David Naughton, Stephen Furst, Maggie Roswell and Eddie Deezen all receive a mysteriously color coded envelope inviting them to a secret location on Sunday night. Not knowing who the invitation was from aside form it was delivered by two beauties on roller skates wearing high wasted terry cloth shorts, the leaders of the five different teams at the specified time. Of course, if you want to get a bunch of college students to participate in anything in the middle of the night, this is probably the way to go about it. Come to think of it, roller skating messengers are underutilized in movies. Anyway, they manage to drag the students away from their games of cheeky bingo, studies and intellectual debate – or whatever it is students do – and out of their dorms. Upon their arrival, they find out their mutual friend Leon is the culprit, and he has invited them to play The Great All Nighter; his revolutionary new game that he just invented, that boils down to be a giant scavenger hunt. The teams are formed, they all figure out their transportation and all prepare to meet for the kick off the game on Friday night. Zany mishaps, cheating baddies and wholesome fun is experienced by all as the game unfolds!?

It didn’t take long for “Midnight Madness” to turn into an unseen gem for me. It is a movie, despite its family friendly claims, that is easy to get into and enjoy. There is no Oscar level writing going on here, or anything of that sort but there are some good gags and an engaging story to enjoy. The characters go a long way to make this movie accessible. You find something to like about nearly all of them despite what side of the good guy/bad guy demarcation they land on. I laughed pretty hard at the moment the meat headed jocks found themselves in reverence at the sight of the Pabst Blue Ribbon brewery and I cringed at the bizarre shrieking giggles of the rather rotund sorority twins. The bottom line is; the movie is just down right silly and fun to watch.

There are times where “Midnight Madness” tries to lay on the heavy hand of feel good morality plays, but it really doesn’t fit. Watching a very young Michael J. Fox being comforted and encouraged by perky Debra Clinger, you can tell what the intentions were, to make you sigh and say ‘awwww’, but instead leaves you rolling your eyes and groaning. With the goofy gags going on throughout the rest of the film though, these few and far between tender moments are easy to over look.

Sure, I’m wasting time writing up a nearly 30 year old unheard of comedy, but that’s how good it is. I’m genuinely happy that somebody recommended this to me recently as I thoroughly enjoyed myself with this nifty little chunk of comedy history. For the best laughs, pay close attention to Stephen Frust’s teammates Emilio and Barf, as both of them have some pretty good lines and sight gags. Also pay close attention for the cameos and such, because there’s a lot ton of them, including John “Piglet” Fiedler as well!

Honestly, there is only one minor factor of this movie that doesn’t sit well with me. How does a bloke like Leon there get two babes such as Candy and Sunshine? Will wonders never cease.

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Thursday, January 07th, 2010 | Author: Casey Criswell

2009 was a pretty good year for genre film. Sure, we had some stinkers but there was still some good entertainment to be found out there. The question now remains; what will be the good films for 2010? With a decent sized list of big budget films in the works, there a few pictures out there worth getting excited for.

Seeing my self as a film geek, you can rest assured I’ll be trudging out to the theater for the majority of the films slated for this year. The catch is, there are some I’m excited to see and some I’m just going to see.

At any rate, here’s a quick glimpse at a few upcoming horror flicks for 2010 that has this nerd a bit excited!


The Book of Eli

What can I say? I’m a sucker for damn near anything post apocalyptic. Throw in some over the top action, explosions and such and that’s just icing on the cake. The setup and trailer look a bit cliche overall, but I’m holding out hope for a good story. Denzel and Gary Oldman are both superstars as far as I’m concerned, so that’s a check in the win column as well.


Legion

I’ll be honest, I don’t know a whole lot about this movie. Aside from the few clips and teasers out there, I’ve more or less avoided most of the news surrounding the biblical epic. Regardless, what I’ve seen has looked pretty entertaining.


Frozen

I didn’t hate “Hatchet” when it came out, but I wasn’t blindly in love with it either. Still, there was a hint there that Adam Green could become a pretty great horror director all the same. He shows an obvious love for the genre as well as a pretty good familiarity. For “Frozen”, this should be our first exposure to Green with a full blown thriller instead of a watered down slasher comedy.


The Wolfman

This one has me nervous, what with all the talk of re-writes and other problems. Still, the trailers look solid and atmospheric and face it; the story is a classic. Anthony Hopkins is a superstar in his own right and I’d classify Benecio Del Toro as ‘pretty damn good’. You could say I have pretty high hopes resting on these two men. As well, if done right “The Wolfman” could potentially be a perfect through back to Hammer style horror in today’s mix of shaky cams and such.


Shutter Island

It’s been a long time since we’ve seen Scorsese shoot a horror film so that alone is pretty exciting news. As well, Mr. S and Leo have proven time and again that they work really really well together so the talent pool is high already. The trailers look good and tense and the setting of the film pretty perfect. It’s recent delay and absence from preview reels is a bit worrisome but I have faith!


Jonah Hex

I’ve never read a single Jonah Hex comic, but I’m familiar with the setup. Zombies in the wild west, while it has been done before, it’s not an area that’s frequently touched. That alone is enough to get me a bit worked up over the possibilities! I will admit, I was more excited about this film before Megan Fox was cast and back when Thomas Jane was trying out for the part with his home made costumes and makeup. Still, Josh Brolin has made a hell of a comeback here as of late as a grizzled bad ass, so I’ll give him my obligatory excited card.


Once again, this is by no means a comprehensive list for the upcoming year in horror flicks. Just my own little list of movies that I’m pretty psyched up for from what I’ve seen so far. There will undoubtedly be a number of flicks that sneak in later in the year unexpected and unannounced. There will be a host of non-horror films too, but then again; that’s another list!

Feel free to toss out your own films in the comments that you’re looking forward to as well as to knock a few of my own! New Years Resolution #1 here at Cinema Fromage this year is to get the comments working on something other than spam bots!

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Sunday, January 03rd, 2010 | Author: Casey Criswell

For those of you that have followed my antics these past four years or so that wonder ‘how could a guy get so into horror movies and such?’, well you can blame that guy. That would be my father and he was a pretty big influence in my love of genre stuff in general. Sadly, he passed on back in 1993 but in many ways he lives on with me as I pour out countless words on countless genre flicks.

I’m a sentimental and nostalgic kind of guy and coming across a picture such as this brings back a flood of warm memories. Such as watching “Faces of Death” for the first time at around age 13 or so while eating a bloody rare cheeseburger. Or going to a dusk-till-dawn drive-in special on Dad’s motorcycle to watch “Friday the 13th 1-4” in an amazing marathon. Even my first foray into horror combined with a trip to the drive-in on a rainy night, settled close beside him in the cab of his pickup watching “Funeral Home” brings back good memories.

The old man had a healthy fascination with anything genre related and in it’s pretty apparent that he’s where a lot of my love of the same comes from. Transcending movie watching, there was always a basket full of high fantasy books situated in his living room to dig through as well as a request to bring my new comic books with me when I came to stay the weekend. Many of those weekends were spent at the drive-in, reading comics, teaming together in a pass the controller attempt to beat “Metal Gear Solid” on the Nintendo, and wrapped up with the communal family viewing of “The Ray Bradbury Theater” to finish off the weekend.

So, when you find yourself wondering how a person can be so in love with genre entertainment and be able to wax poetic on it for years on end? Blame that guy up above. It was his fault. And I still thank him for that every now and then to this day.

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Saturday, January 02nd, 2010 | Author: Casey Criswell

So… Hi there. How are ya? My name’s Casey, I run this little blog called ‘Cinema Fromage’. If you haven’t noticed, I’ve been away for quite a bit (right around 2 months in fact). Sure, there’s a myriad of reasons for that; some personal, some involving general writers block, others pertaining to other sundry things. But that fact is…I’ve been gone and I’ve kind of missed it around here. So, I’m back. How’ve you been? How’d that thing we talked about work out?

2009 was not a great year overall for the staff here at Cinema Fromage but, those things happen. (The staff being…me.) First and foremost was a problem that grew out of hand rather fast, that being a problem with stress and anxiety that made it near impossible for one to sit down and concentrate or even think about writing. Lucky for you folks, that problem has been resolved here as of late and I’m feeling a bit wordy and a bit talky. So with that in mind, I figured the first of the year would be a good time to re-kick off the bloggings here and make 2010 a hell of a lot better year. So, here we go.

What you have to look forward to, I can’t really say for sure. You can count on there being some movie reviews, some talk about comic books and other such things that catch my fancy just like before. But, I also plan on the old Cinema Fromage growing a bit and becoming a bit more of a personal insight into my own jumbled thought process, especially on my trek to further my writing career. (In case you didn’t know, 2010 is going to be the year I strengthen my mark.)

If there is anything in particular you would like to see more of here at the site, be sure to leave comments below. I tend to thrive on them when they’re something other than some hack trying to sell me something. The downtrodden version of myself that evolved throughout 2009 has been pushed to the wayside to welcome in a healthier, clear headed and far more assertive me that should be waxing nostalgic quite a bit. And in case your wondering, my toil & trouble continues on as always over at Bloody Good Horror just like before. They can’t get rid of me that easy! That, and they’ve all become a pretty good group of friends at that. In addition to my old duties there, I’ve also taken over the daily news desk on Monday Tuesday and Wednesday, and The Bloody Good Horror Podcast reached its milestone 100th episode not far back, so things are going huge and well. Be sure to take part in it, we enjoy having you around!

Welcome back to Cinema Fromage as it rises from the ashes like a phoenix, along with my looser and more fun loving and RELAXED personality that used to prevail a few years back. It should make for a fun time, hope you enjoy the next year.

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