Robert Wm. Gomez's

October 2018

Alien: Isolation on PC (8/10)

Alien: Isolation

The first few hours of Alien: Isolation are some of the most nerve-racking gaming I have ever experienced. It's a stealth game in which you are mostly defenseless and must hide to survive. There's no sneaking up behind enemies and stabbing them in the back. The enemies aren't just some dopey guards walking in a set pattern that you are trying to avoid. It's one of the most menacing monsters in cinema history. One wrong turn or overly loud noise and you are facing its dripping double jaws in seconds.

Der Lugomen

Although I haven't had much formal training as a musician, over the years I have enjoying playing, writing, and recording songs in one way or another. The closest thing I have to musical training is my time in fifth grade when I played coronet in the Washington Grade School band back in Peoria. I played a horn that I found in a dumpster. It was beat to hell, but could still play in tune. Later in my high school college years I picked up guitar from my younger brother, Greg, who had been taking lessons.

Nosforatu (7/10)

What can be said about this movie that hasn't already been said in the "Under Pressure" video by Queen. For as important a movie that this is, it's surprising how beat up the print is on Amazon streaming. Most of the appeal is in the creepy monster design which, if it had been filmed with modern equipment, would probably not be all that creepy.

Deep Star Six (7/10)

The only reason I watched Deep Star Six was because I remembered the excellent box art on the tape and was intrigued to finally see what this movie was all about. I think I was in the right mindset at the moment because I actually enjoyed this despite its major plot and characterization shortcomings. It was just nice to see a movie filled with practical effects in an underwater setting that, outside of The Abyss, is underused in cinematic sci-fi.

Human Lanterns (8/10)

Not quite a horror film, but this is probably as dark and weird as a kung-fu picture will get. As the title suggests, this is about a guy who makes lanterns out of human skin. It's gruesome (yet not at all realistic), but more noteworthy is the main, masked villain's mad monkey fighting style. The entire movie is stylish and cool and very entertaining despite narrative shortcomings.

What Have You Done to Solange? (7/10)

Don't get me wrong. I love me some 70s Italian sleeze. But this movie could have really dialed it down a bit. There is a pretty compelling mystery here that gets a little lost amidst the crotch stabbings and the high-school-aged girls showering. As far as giallos go, it's not quite as visually stylish as its peers, but the avant guarde Morricone score is top-notch.

Chinatown (8/10)

I have finally seen this movie and I liked it. Does the Internet need another review of it? Many consider this the greatest screenplay ever written. There was a lot of set-up/payoff and many surprises along the way. So, I guess it's pretty good.

Crusader: No Remorse on MS-DOS (8/10)

Crusader Just Standing Around

In the 90s, I tried playing the demo of this game many times and could never really get into it. Crusader was one of the best looking PC games of its time and I really wanted to like it. But the controls. Oh my God, the controls. Eventually, this scheme would go on to be described as tank controls in other games like Resident Evil. Basically, you aim and move your character in relation to the direction their sprite is facing rather than the direction you want them to move on the screen. Crusader takes that counter-intuitive mechanic to a whole new level of complexity by adding jumping, diving and ducking to the mix.

There are some default mouse controls which almost work, but your character is stuck with gun drawn, shuffling around like a man with his pants around his ankles. I got about a third the way through the game doing that until just gave up and set the game aside for a while. Months later I returned and forced myself to learn the standard keyboard controls. These are still clunky, but with practice and a lot of help from the auto-aim feature the game becomes much more fast-paced and responsive. Even then, the mouse is still helpful when the occasional fast-spinning aiming is required. For the most part, it pays to just bite the bullet and learn the keyboard controls. Think of Crusader like Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing but with more explosions and incinerated humans.

The Oily Maniac (8/10)

Many of the same faces from the Black Magic movies are here for another Shaw horror "classic". Once again it's filmed in Indonesia for no apparent reason other than maybe it was easier to find locals who would be willing to go topless. There is nothing about this movie that makes any sense. It starts with a contract negotiation that ends with a stabbing, which leads to an execution, but not before a voodoo spell is revealed, and then an unrelated rape trial takes place, he said/she said flashbacks...

Killer Constable (9/10)

This was a surprisingly good martial arts film that's heavy on dark tone and light on the karate. Films like this are why I endure so much Shaw Bros. garbage. I know all the tropes, yet this movie was fresh and surprising. There's a very solid spaghetti western vibe throughout. A highly recommended entry point if you are interested in martial arts  movies. 

The Cook, Cook The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover (8/10)

This movie is exactly what late 80s art movies are supposed to be. It's the very definition of style over substance. The whole affair is filmed like an elaborate stage play. Every set has a color theme to which characters' clothing is matched as they move from room to room. Being a late 80s art film, it is an unwritten rule that it is to push the boundaries of taste, and thus is filled with all sorts of unnecessary nudity and uncomfortable themes. For all its weirdness, I found the actual story to be a bit predictable.

It Comes at Night (6/10)

So, we know there's been an worldwide pandemic and it involves a nasty rash and some inky vomit. Now that that is out of the way, let's watch a paranoid family take in some house guests. This seems like a horror movie, but aside from a couple of dream sequences, it's really just a mild thriller. By the end I was disappointed that the outside world's goings-on were never really explained, but by then I was somewhat invested in the characters, although their actions in the climax didn't quite make sense to me.

Man of Iron (6/10)

Set in early 20th Century, so much of this movie's tension could be solved with a gun. Instead it's a series of one-versus-many street brawls. The most likable character in the whole thing is the aging crime boss who our woman-slapping protagonist is seeking to replace. The fights are brutal and bloody, so it's got that going for it.

Vanquish on PC (7/10)

Vanquish

Vanquish is a third-person action game that has little to offer in terms of plot or characters. Its story feels like every other Japanese console game. Devil May Cry 4 comes to mind, and if you liked that game, you have a problem. The dialogue is all painfully cliché and tries very hard to be hip with nerdy allusions to action movie lines and bad-ass hero shots. Pretty cringe inducing.

But all this is moot. This game is really about its fast-paced game-play and mechanics. While certainly not revolutionary, the ability to skid around the map at hyper-speed is fun and challenging. Add on top of that a little bullet-time and you have an enjoyable but mindless way to pass a few hours.

Shaolin Temple (6/10)

The Shaolin formula is a non-monk enters the temple seeking to learn the tools of revenge. He undergoes ridiculous challenges and emerges seeing the error of his ways... but still gets revenge. The formula is in full effect here except, instead of a lone student, there are about a dozen of them. As such, the movie lacks any focus and by the time the end arrived, with its epic 15 minute battle, I didn't care about anything that was happening. Shaolin challenges offered: pointy rocks, jumping with leg weights, deadly mechanical gauntlet and rice stirring.