The Sword and the Sorcerer (4/10)

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This corny early eighties fantasy opens with some great creature effects and then proceeds to bore the audience for the next seventy minutes until the monster reappears for the finale. There aren’t any great set pieces, it’s mostly ren-fair dudes fighting in hallways. I had no idea how the various characters related to each other (wasn’t Talon the princess’s brother?) and I imagine most of the character development ended up on the cutting room floor. There are two well executed comedic smash cuts and I’ll give the movie props for that.

The Broken Branch by Landon Knepp (7/10)

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The final book in the Tower and the Tree doesn’t quite work as well as the earlier books. I guess that could be expected. By the start of this novel, all of the characters had gone through most of their story arcs. We’re just winding everything up plot-wise and providing some backstory behind the lore. Of course there’s a massive battle to distract from the main magical quest because…. phantasy!! But, with all my complaints, it was an okay conclusion to this mostly entertaining series.

The Hanged Man’s Hand - Wood Engraving

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For centuries, magicians thought that the mummified hand of a hanged man (preferably a murderer) could lead one to buried treasure, unlock doors, or render victims unconscious. Commonly known as the “Hand of Glory,” the hand would be combined with a candle made from the fat of the dead murderer to enhance its powers.

Legend has it that when the Hand of Glory was lit with its special candles, it would emit a powerful light that only the person carrying it could see. Everyone else in the vicinity would be rendered motionless and unable to intervene, allowing the thief to go about their illicit activities without hindrance.

In this print, a trio of ne’er-do-wells has procured a hand thinking it would lead them to riches. Alas, when you play with the demonic arts, only evil spirits will be found!

Process Photos

The Video Trailer

Legend of Dinosaurs & Monster Birds (5/10)

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I had this movie on my DVD wishlist for many years and never got around to buying it. I had heard that it was a gory, bonkers Japanese giant monster movie. Well, it does have one moment of low rent gore for a few seconds, but most of the movie is slow-paced and boring. We really only get about twenty minutes of poorly shot, shaky-cam monsters and then the movie just ends without any sort of resolution. Little bits taken out of context might make a good trailer: the aforementioned gorey attack and perhaps the Japanese country band scene. Most of this doesn’t even rise to level of cheese you’d want from a film of this era (except maybe the disco soundtrack). I was very disappointed in this one.

Sieben Tage Frist (4/10)

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Also known as School of Fear, this krimi is about a boarding school for boys where the students sneak off to visit a lady of the evening™, get in trouble with the professors, then start to disappear. I was mostly bored by this because nothing exciting ever really happens and the culprit, who turns out to be an ex-Nazi, is never shown as a intimidating bad guy. It comes off as a proto-Porky’s sex comedy without the humor and a mystery without the mystery.

#Alive (6/10)

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A Korean fast-zombie zombie movie that focuses on the survival of a single kid in an apartment complex. His character is set up as being a streaming gamer dude but his knowledge of tech only pays off a little bit when he flies his drone around. Otherwise, this was mildly fun but not terribly memorable.

Der Mörder (7/10)

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This 1963 black and white Krimi opens up with a nebbish man killing his wife at a rural bus station. We know he did it, but the papers report that he had an alibi for the crime. Enter our hero, Walter, who is curious about the crime perhaps because he wants a way out of his own failing marriage. The murder plot fades into the background as the film starts to become a straight up marriage drama until the second act, when Walter’s wife turns up dead nearby a bus station. Coincidence? Well, maybe. The two suspected murderers become intertwined in blackmail and other noir hijinks until it all comes to a somewhat unsatisfactory conclusion. I thought this was entertaining, but I wished they tied it up better.

The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on Nintendo Wii U (9/10)

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Zelda games had been in a bit of a rut lately (as in 2015 lately). Sure the games were good, but they followed the exact same formula that they have had since Ocarina of Time. Go to a dungeon, gain a new power, use that power to defeat the boss, and on to the next dungeon.

Breath of the Wild breaks the formula by going completely open-world and giving you most of your powers in the first few hours of the game. Instead of focusing on the next big task, you are free to take your time and explore the world.

While it’s not the most densely populated game world, there are tons of little tasks to accomplish. Unlike other openworld games, these aren’t simply collectable items floating here and there. You have to be observant (korok seeds, photos, chests) and you have to be able to use your wits and abilities (shrine quests, towers). At its core, the gameplay is good old-fashioned puzzle solving. The shrines are the best part of the game. They offer plenty of challenge and its always a nice sense of accomplishment to complete one. There’s also a bit of crafting (the bane of modern gaming) in its cooking system. My daughter spent most of her hours in the game cooking various stews and skewers. I blame her Tik-Tok attention span.

All this puts you on the path to building your strength, stamina, and inventory size—all things you need to fight off the monsters and, eventually, Calamity Ganon. If there is any flaw to the game it’s the uninteresting story. It gets the job done, but it’s as shallow as the Toh Yahsa swamp. I’m sure idiot Zoomers have spent hours “shipping” the various Hyrulian species characters together in their fanfic notebooks, but me, an aging Gen-X’er have no patience for this drivel.

In the end, although I probably ranked some of the older games higher, this is probably the best Zelda game in the series. It has much more replayability, more to do, and more to discover. As I type this, Tears of the Kingdom is tearing up the charts. Maybe someday I will get to that one, but I am holding out for the Wii U port. It’s the way the game was meant to be played.

Garth Marenghi’s TerrorTome by Garth Marenghi (9/10)

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The audiobook is the way to go here. The character of Garth Marenghi (who reads the book) is hilarious no matter what he’s saying but it helps that, at least for the first part of the book, every line is a joke of some sort either parodying horror fiction or delving into the narcissisms of Garth Merenghi. It was inevitable that that pace couldn’t be retained for an entire novel but it does manage to stay reasonably hilarious through all three stories. This is about as close as we’re going to get to ever seeing another season of Garth Marenghi’s Dark Place and I’m fine with that. Another volume is going to be released this fall.