Illustration work has commenced on the Winter Quarter, with lead artist Kevin John Jacob breaking ground on art for both The War and The Hunt. The latest in the adventures of the Resistance sees soldier Gibson and General Adam Knox in a fight for their lives and their souls against mysterious psychic forces that point towards a greater threat to all within Haven’s reach. And in the next chapter of the vagabond Valentina’s saga, a strange sensation comes over her in the company of a stranger who promises her a chance to relieve her mind of the tortures of the Colosseum.
Production continues to roll on with work on stories and exciting new exclusives under the paid subscription soon-to-be offered. These include the writing of Speedfreak Files III, the debut installments of audiobook drama Alan Firedale: Desert Delinquent, as well as devising concepts for an original story to be included in the forthcoming 2022 print collection.
Going to take a day off from this part of the digest. To be frank, I haven’t anything to complain about or wittily comment on.
So in the meantime, have some good old-fashioned Dennis Miller Live, just like your Grandma used to make on the tube back in the day. Now with 100% more Norm MacDonald! Don’t let the 400 lb. Gorilla clobber you on the way out.
To keep in the spirit of the season, we’ve laced this week’s caviar with a dash of arsenic. Couldn’t afford the old lace, so we’ll have to do without this time.
First up is our game for the evening. The brainchild of maverick dev Kenji Eno, it is the 1995 Warp interactive movie D for the 3DO, Sega Saturn, PS1, and MS-DOS.
The journey of a daughter into the madness of her father, D was a horror landmark in the gaming scene, spinning its tale across a two-hour time limit, and in the form of a sprawling CG full-motion video experience. The player takes control of Laura Harris, daughter of Doctor Richter Harris. In a fit of madness, the Doctor commits mass murder in his hospital, barricading himself in the building. Upon entry, however, it isn’t long before Laura is thrown into a inexplicable gothic castle and must find her father in the labyrinth.
With shadowy lighting schemes (sometimes bordering on too dark), a quietly chilling score, and some of the most unnerving gameplay scenarios to contend with, D forces its player to stew in an atmosphere that stands unmatched in terms of sheer discomfort. A particular sequence of note is when Laura opens a door to find a dead man chained to the wall. All the more unnerving is that fact that the invisible intersection between directions (and video clips) makes you sit and stare at the body. And in a modern gaming scene notoriously conditioned by jump scares, the undying suspense of wondering if our friend here is truly dead never fails to creep me out.
Most can easily highlight the 30-year-old computer graphics as dated, and many will find the puzzles nebulous in that classic (and contentious) adventure game way, but those hurdles stand an inch high when compared to the sheer overwhelming mood of the piece. Simply put, Eno forged a macabre cult favorite whose strengths in creating suspense and terror outweigh its weaknesses. The game stands as the first in a trinity, followed by 1996’s sci-fi horror Enemy Zero for the Saturn & PC, and spiritual sequel D2 for the Dreamcast in 1999.
Thankfully resurrected by the modern-day mavericks at Nightdive Studios in association with Throwback Entertainment, ‘tis the season to journey back into the L.A. National Hospital and unravel the mystery of D.
About as shocking as a sunset, but the Halloween season tends to be the season of the Sabbath.
The Black Sabbath in fact.
The title track from the band’s 1970 debut still rocks listeners right into the heart of a apocalyptic tale of Man condemned to the fires of Hell. A tale told with doom-laden bombast, courtesy of the drop-dead dynamite percussion of Bill Ward, the stunning bass work of Geezer Butler, and the twin powerhouse of Ozzy Osbourne’s terrified vocal performance and the riff heard ‘round the world from the flaming fretboard of Tony Iommi.
“Black Sabbath” is the beginning of everything really. The birth of a band, their future successes, and their tremendous sound. The birth of a genre, subsequent subgenres, and a leviathan standard that remains it red-hot rotation to this very day. Hailed as the “most evil song ever written” by the likes of impending Metal God Rob Halford of Judas Priest, and one who has been served up by every single Sabbath vocalist in a unique and equally horrific ways (bell of the Pentagram-laden ball being Ian Gillan’s scorching performance in 1983), there is no better way to get into that maleficent spirit than with some “Black Sabbath.”
“He had broken the most deep-rooted taboo, and found not guilt, not anxiety or fear, but freedom. Any humiliation which stood in his way could be swept aside by the simple act of annihilation: Murder."
Hailing from a land as loved for its cuisine as it is for its creatives and culture, it is a film that stands as the ultimate in the blood-drenched pulp tradition of the Italian giallo. Screaming into the year of our Bava, 1982, it is horror legend Dario Argento’s murder mystery classic Tenebre.
With landmark feats of expressionist horror behind him like genre staple Deep Red in 1975 and Grand Guignol fairy tale Suspiria in 1977, it was time for Il Maestro to bring the giallo into the 80s with a suspenseful and stylish picture as only he could forge.
When American author Peter Neal (Anthony Franciosa) is on a promotional tour in Rome, he finds himself the object of a crazed fan’s obsession (as well as that of a former lover’s), and finds his latest novel “Tenebrae” at the heart of the madness and murder. What begins as a classic case of amateur sleuthing devolves into a wild electric opera of doppelgängers, red herrings, and bloodbaths.
With a stacked cast including genre legend John Saxon, peplum and spaghetti western veteran Giuliano Gemma, and then-wife and collaborator Daria Nicolodi, Argento weaves a tale as melodramatic and bizarre as it is slick and stylish. Set in a modernist, vaguely futurist Rome, and amplified through the lens of regular DP Luciano Tovoli, and the infectious Italo-disco of 3/4ths (and/or 5ths, lineup depending) of prog rock legends Goblin.
The end result is a sumptuously 80s giallo, a pre-Miami Vice murder machine where no one is ever truly sane, and all find themselves at the heart of the horror. A firm recommendation from yours truly, as Tenebre stands as one of my all-time favorite films full-stop.
If you can’t get your hands on the killer Synapse Films DVD or Blu-ray from 2016, Tenebre can be found streaming on Plex and Kino Cult for free, and on the roster of horror hound foundry Shudder.
A Tale to Tell…
As October draws to a close, and All Hallows’ Eve draws near, I’ve decided to break my unspoken rule of alternating between city-set and desert-set stories, and have brought you a tale from deep within the arcane streets of Haven. And not without good reason.
“The Shrouded Blade” is a brief slice of slasher fun, told from the perspective of wolven killer with a couple of augs up his sleeve. How does he do away with his prey? Read on to find out!
May God bless you and this Force. Until next time!
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