Terminator: Dark Fate (2019)

The cover to the Australian 4K steelbook release.

Film: Movie trends come and go.

Fifty years ago, every second film was a western, and apart from an occasional uprising, it’s essentially a dead genre. In the late 1990s/ early 2000s, remakes of j-horror were all the rage. At the moment, it seems that ‘forgetting’ is the new genre.

This review is being written in 2022, and for the past few years, the dumping of the stories from either sequels or ‘expanded universe’ have been flushed down the toilet to create NEW histories of characters. Disney basically dumped all the Star Wars expanded universe stuff to replace it with their own (occasionally awful) new tales, the Halloween series had dumped the entire story from Halloween II on (thereby Michael and Laurie are no longer related) and here with the Terminator series, all the disappointing and convoluted sequels after T2 has been thrown away.

On first hearing this, I didn’t think it was such a bad idea as long as some new, high sci-fi concepts were brought to the table, and it wasn’t, like in Disney’s Star Wars case, an excuse to sell more toys.

Now I actually expected this to have some decent pedigree. I had read that David S. Goyer was writing, and I was quite thrilled by that. Obviously he’s know for his work on Chris Nolan’s Batman films, as well as the Blade films and even a couple of Call of Duty video games, which I’m particularly fond of. This excitement was tempered slightly by the SIX other writers who worked on the film! Too many cooks, and all that.

The film is director by animator Tim Miller, who directed the first Deadpool film, and a couple of episodes of the magnificent Love, Death + Robots, so at the very least you know the effects might make up for any shortcomings on the script written by multiple writers!

Grace (Mackenzie Davis) lines up the Terminator for a spearing

So, forget every film of the Terminator, and the TV series, and the comics because we are in the fast train to reboot city!

Terminator Dark Fate starts, quite simply, several years ago with the Terminators finishing their mission from Terminator 2, and shooting the Hell out of a CGI version of John Conner (a CGI version of Edward Furlong) in front of his mother, Sarah (a CGI version of Linda Hamilton).

Flash forward to now, and two visitors from the future have returned with a new mission. One, a new and different Terminator unit called the Rev-9 (Gabriel Luna) here to kill Dani (Natalia Reyes), a future leader of the human resistance, and the other is Grace (Mackenzie Davis), an augmented super soldier sent back to protect her.

Grace has her work cut out for her because the new terminator is two terminators in one, and they will definitely need help for her survival. That help comes in the form of a much older Sarah Conner, who has been receiving mysterious messages, telling her when other Terminators will be dropping through time. These messages eventually lead our ragtag team back to a surviving T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger) who also agrees to help then…

The Rev-9 in all its glory!

… and then it’s on like Donkey Kong!

Certainly this film does that ‘thing’ that sequels need to do: get the one up from the episode before. In this we don’t have a terminator helping the good guys, we have a character in Grace who is both human, and yet half-a-terminator. In a world where our heroes that appeal to the general audience have super powers, this is both fashionably on point and ridiculous. Why ridiculous? Well, the bad guy has to be an amped up threat as well, and in this case we have a combination of almost all the terminators, but added together, and they can separate into both a T-800 and a T-1000.

It’s got a couple of problems though. It feels like Star Wars The Force Awakens insomuch as it’s a remake that expands a story. The entire film hits all the same beats as T2 and each act rings of familiarity, just like TFA did, or like the ‘remake’/ ‘prequel’ of John Carpenter’s The Thing that came out in 2011. The story itself is also a little daft: Skynet was still destroyed and didn’t become sentient, but mankind during a world war created an AI that ended up doing the same thing: it’s just really ham fisted and awkward.

There’s some dumb stuff too: for example, the new Terminator can tap into into any camera in the world… seemingly even those not on a computer or attached to a network? That some dumb video game crap. The convenience of how Sarah Conner knew where terminators were dropping through time was an example of rotten time-loopers too.

I will say, at least it’s not a multiverse.

I will say there is a couple of moments of comedy that the cast nailed.

Mostly, the CGI and special effects, as well as the fight choreography, are amazing, with some fight scenes that are just spectacular. However there are a couple of scenes that just don’t quite look too solid, and it’s due to the physics of movement: if you watch the film you’ll know them when you see them, and they are mainly around the Rev-9.

There are some positive: the cast are pretty great. Luna is an absolute freak as far as his speed and performance is concerned, and Davis is an emotionally delicate butt-kicker who I’d like to see as a new female action hero. Reyes’ growth throughout the film is believable, though her performance as the current day, wide-eyed victim doesn’t ring so true when she’s supposed to be the butt-kicking leader from the future. Hamilton and Schwarzenegger and the comfortable shoes that put the whole thing together and give it a nostalgia kick so you’ll be prepared to give it a chance.

Mainly my problem is why does it exist? What’s the point? The story offers NOTHING new, and I’d like to say is basically worthless, but there are some elements that are pretty good, but they are to do with performance, effects and direction, rather than story.

Disappointing.

Score: **

The menu screen

Extras: As it’s a 4K edition, it comes with both a 4K disc and a second bluay as well. The second disc is where the extras are hidden:

There are 6 deleted and extended scenes and typically, whilst some are cool, they are basically unnecessary.

A Legend Reforged looks at the rebooting of the story, and how James Cameron managed to get the original stars back, and combine them with the people who will advance the series. It’s fairly interesting but the fact that ALL the cast and crew consistently use the term ‘franchise’ made me think that perhaps they were coached into getting the viewers to accept there will be more.

World builders is a behind the scenes look at the effects and the locations.

Dam Busters: The Final Showdown discusses the third act of the film, and it’s dam location.

VFX Breakdown: The Dragonfly breaks down all the elements of a CGI- heavy scene from the film.

Honestly I don’t know why all the extras weren’t just edited together into a feature-length behind the scenes! Still, they were a pretty good watch.

Score: ***1/2

WISIA: No.

Sarah Conner (Linda Hamilton) offers advice to Grace

This film was reviewed using the Australian 4K HD

Jekyll Vs Hyde

Jekyll Vs Hyde

The cover of Jekyll Vs Hyde

Of ‘classic’ genre literature, it’s probably H. P. Lovecraft and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle are the most represented in board games. For Doyle, it’s the puzzle aspect of Sherlock Holme’s stories that make for a good gaming cornerstone. As for Lovecraft, unfolding mysteries filled with bizarre aliens and maddening monsters make for a lot of fun too.

Sure, there and games revolving around Mary Shelly’s The Modern Prometheus (better known as Frankenstein) and Bram Stoker’s Dracula, but this little pocket-sized gem, Jekyll Vs Hyde is a card game based upon the book The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, by Robert Louis Stevenson.

This game is a tactical, trick-taking game and is about the internal turmoil that Dr. Jekyll constantly goes through every day, and how he has to maintain an even balance to retain control of his body, whereas Mr. Hyde just wants chaos.

A game set-up and ready to play

This game is played with a simple game board that represent the distance between insanity and sanity for Jekyll and Hyde, with a single miniature representing both of him, that starts on one side of the board, and through point scoring slowly moves across the board. Hyde’s mission is to get the token all the way to madness whereas Jekyll’s is to maintain balance. The game is played across three rounds.

The game starts with the Hyde player issuing ten cards to each player, and returning the other cards to the box. The cards come in three suites, greed (green), wrath (red) and pride (purple) and on each turn of the first round, the Jekyll player goes first, putting down one card, and then the Hyde player playing one.

The first colour that is put down sees a token put onto the board as the ‘weakest’ colour, and as other cards are played, each following colour becomes stronger.

Basically, the winner of each round is determined as such: if the Hyde player puts down the same colour, the highest of the two cards wins. If the Hyde player puts down a stronger colour, as determined above, the stronger colour wins. If someone puts down a potion card, the colour the other player put down activates the special abilities of the ‘strength’ tokens, which could be swapping hands, resetting the strength cards or taking one winning pair with the other player, and the highest number wins.

Each time a player wins a trick, they win the two cards and put them to one side. At the end of the full round, the amount of pairs are compared, and the marker moves along the board the amount of spaces that the difference is between the two scores. For example, if the Hyde player has 7 and the Jekyll player has 3, the marker will move 4 spaces.

The card art is absolutely fantastic

This is repeated 2 more times, with the Hyde player winning if the marker hits the other end of the board, and Jekyll wins if it does not.

From a tactical point of view, this is a quirky little thing as far as it’s gameplay is concerned. The Jekyll player wants there to be as little distance between the two scores, and so they may have to sacrifice winning hands to equalise the scores, but the Hyde player wants as much distance between the two scores as possible. This makes the game very much a game of concentration as you calculate how close or far your opponents score is.

The design is very thematic as well. The images of anguish and terror on the cards are thematically on point, and the board is low-key so as not to distract from its purpose. The marker, a bust of Jekyll on one side and Hyde on the other is a weighty little metal thing that makes the game a little more lux than it’s price may suggest.

The amazing metal mini-bust of Jekyll and Hyde

It’s a really fun game that is thematically on point, and not just a great addition to any gamer’s collection, but will also slip nicely into any coffin-shaped handbag, for a trip to the pub or a friend’s place.

Score: ****

New YouTube Post: Blood Hunt Video Game

So I’m trying to be consistent with my YouTubery, so here is a new episode for World Dracula Day.

In this episode I have a look at the new free-to-play, battle Royale game, Blood Hunt from Sharkmob games.

Bloodhunt

Please check it out and of course, like and subscribe.

Valentine: The Dark Avenger (2017)

Valentine: The Dark Avenger (2017)

The cover to Umbrella’s release of Valentine: the Dark Avenger

Film: Look out Marvel and DC, a new challenger approaches!

Valentine: the Dark Avenger is a creation from Skylar Comics, an Indonesian film company who in addition to Valentine, also produce comics called Volt (who looks like an electricity based hero) and Jawara, which means Champion, and looks to be an Avengers-styled conglomeration of heroes!

It would appear this Indonesian company has taken a page out of Disney’s handbook and have Skylar Pictures as a division of their company ready to develop their own characters into films. In this case, they have taken Valentine, their female Batgirl-type who fights with handcuffs like they are brass knuckles, and can catch criminals by throwing them like a bolo, and given her the live action treatment.

Wawan and Bono

Valentine: The Dark Avenger is directed by Agus Hermansyah Mawardy, based on a script by Beby Hasibuan, based on the character and stories created by Aswin Siregar and Sarjono Sutrisno for the comics.

Bono (Matthew Settle) is a movie maker who is trying to get his idea for a new female superhero movie off the ground, but he and his hair and fashion specialist partner, Wawan (Arnie Dagienkz), are having trouble finding the right girl… that is, of course, until they see waitress, and aspiring actress, Srimaya (Estelle Linden) fight off an attack in the restaurant she works at, using her skill in savate.

Estelle Linden before the transformation into a superhero

For training for the future movie, Wawan starts filming Srimaya, now known as the superhero ‘Valentine’, stopping various small crimes in the city.

As time goes on they improve her costume, fighting skills and she even learns how to use handcuffs as a thrown weapon for taking down running crooks, and her videos on (definitely not) YouTube go viral as she inspires a nation with her heroics.

The big problem for Valentine is there is a shadow moving across her town in the form of the villain known as… well, Shadow, who is performing terrorist acts, but why, and what is the secret behind his motivation?

This movie reminded me very much of the live-action versions of Cutey Honey and Hentai Kamen, but with aspirations of being something more like Prachya Pinkaew’s Chocolate or Rashane Limtrakul’s Rising Phoenix, both which starred JeeJa Yanin, but I’m afraid that Linden just isn’t quite as charismatic, nor does she have the physicality.

I do think, however, the intention of having an inspirational female superhero is a great one, and one the big companies need to work on. Hopefully we shall see more of this sort of thing incoming (and we are, with Disney+’s Ms. Marvel series which airs in 2022). Tragically it just doesn’t work here, as the script is a mix-up of conspiracy and standard comic-bookish tropes with some substandard special effects and pedestrian fight choreography, which ultimately is the film’s undoing.

One other thing is the actual superhero and villain costumes. cosplay has come so far that one should expect a better look for a movie with superheroes in it, but these unfortunately look like they were bashed together in someone’s garage.

I have to say it’s awesome to see a small Indonesian company with the courage to take on the superhero genre, when you consider the forces of Disney and Warner Bros are the ones behind those, but their product has become such a juggernaut, it’s nigh impossible. Smaller comic ideas based on non-superhero stuff, like Zwigoff’s Ghost World or Dominic Sena’s Whiteout are probably a better idea at this point because those blockbusters aren’t going anywhere in a hurry. If you do choose to watch this, stick around for the end credits as there is a preview of another superhero from this universe.

The film does wear its influences on its sleeve too, as there is a whole ‘no capes’ sequences clearly inspired by Pixar’s The Incredibles, and one of the villains must be a pop culture nut as she wears outfits inspired by Batman and the Minions from Despicable Me!

I think if this film was released pre-Marvel blockbuster events it would have been a cult film that was in some peoples hearts, but those big blockbusters are not necessarily what cult fans want to see in their collections. Also, there are high-bars set in superhero films for the mainstream crowd, and it just doesn’t leap them in a single bound.

The Shadow!

Score: *

Extras: Blimey, there’s not even a menu screen!

Score: 0

WISIA: No.

The Shadow’s minions… one dressed as a minion!

This DVD was provided for review by Umbrella Entertainment

JAWS: The Game

JAWS: The Game

Ravensburger’s Jaws board game

Horror movies are a great source of inspiration for games. The bigger the horror movie, the more potential for success the game has, and when you take something like Steven Spielberg’s Jaws and make it into a game, provided it’s a fun game, you can pretty much well guarantee you are onto a winner.

Jaws is the blockbuster film from the 70s, based on a book by Peter Benchley, that launched Spielberg’s career and has had several video games based upon it, such as Jaws Unleashed on the Playstation 2 and PC and Jaws: Ultimate Predator on the Nintendo 3DS, not to mention a Super Nintendo game called simply Jaws, that came out in 1987, but more recently several board game companies have swam up to the licence and eaten it with much ferocity. We have had the inevitable Jaws Monopoly, the Funkoverse Strategy Game: Jaws (which comes with two smaller sized Funko Pops to appease the worldwide cult of Pop fans), and this game, from Ravensburger, titled simply Jaws.

Ravensburger make some amazingly thematic board game (if you haven’t tried Villainous, give it a go. It is Disney themed but lots of fun), and Jaws is one of those games that follows the basic plot of the film. This game is a three versus one game, with three players playing Quint, Brody and Hooper as they attempt to destroy the fourth player, who plays the big shark. This game is right in fashion of the current video game trend of have one vs many games like Dead by Daylight (also coming soon as a board game) and Evil Dead the Game.

This gameplay is divided into two halves. This first half of the game, on one side of the board, has a map of Amity Island and sees the human players attempting to stop Jaws from eating swimmers and at the same time attempt to locate the shark with location barrels. Each player has a series of things they can do in their turn which is thematic to the character, as is their extra special abilities, like Hooper’s fish finder for example.

Act 1 – from the shark players POV

Quint and Hooper spend their time searching for the shark by placing location barrels in the water, which the shark attempts to avoid, whilst Brody shuts beaches and delivers more barrels to the docks for them to use… Brody’s piece doesn’t go in the water because you know, Brody doesn’t like the water.

You might be asking yourself,’ but how does the shark avoid being located? Doesn’t the player have a piece on the boards?’ The answer to that is no, the shark player uses a separate notebook to record where on the map, signified by map locations, and doesn’t place their piece on the board until they have been spotted. They move around eating swimmers secretly, only revealing where they are if they go through a space with a barrel, or if they are spotted from the beach by Brody, or when they chow down on a beach goer.

Each turn, an Amity Event phase card is revealed which shows a special ability one of the players may have in that turn, but also deposits more swimmers in the water!

This first part of the game is finished when one of two things happen: either the shark ends up with two barrels attached and their position fully revealed, or they eat nine swimmers. How the Act Two of the game plays out is decided by how successful either team have been. If the shark eats more swimmers, it gets a higher amount of special ability cards in the second act, but if the humans stop them early enough, they get extra gear to stop the shark.

For the second act sees the board turn over to reveal a sunken version of the shop The Orca, where undamaged images of the ship overlays are placed on top. Cards are issues to either team regarding their success in the previous act. For example, if the shark ate five swimmers before having two barrels attached, they would receive six shark ability cards, and the crew would get seven pieces of crew gear.

Act 2 – from the shark players POV

Each turn the shark attacks the boat and the crew prepare themselves for the attack. The shark player reveals each turn where they MIGHT attack, giving the crew an opportunity to be ready to defend, and play continues as the shark either slowly sinks the boat, attacking the crew and having them lose their life points, or the crew are able to kill the shark with lucky dice rolls in combination with their gear.

Obviously there is a lot more to this than my summary here, and I suggest you take a look at Becca Scott’s How to play Jaws YouTube Video ( How to Play Jaws – YouTube ) before purchase if you want a better idea of how to play.

The Jaws board game instruction manual

Thematically, this game is amazing. The pieces all represent their characters well, and the dividing of the two acts is a clever way to play the game. The instructions are clear and concise and well-illustrated, with some great examples of play.

The player cards from Jaws

The game is lots of fun and that to be expected from designers Prospero Hall, who gave us the previously mentioned Villainous, as well as other thematically on-point games like Horrified, Fast and Furious: Highway Heist and Godzilla: Tokyo Clash.

 I do have to say I have one problem with it and that is the player count. This is a three vs one game, and whilst I appreciated that the instructions say that it can be played with one player playing all the crew, or two players sharing one crew member, but it is much less fun. When three players are the crew there is a lot of discussion as to what to do next, where with one player, they sit studiously in silence for several minutes while they decide what each crew member will do. As the shark player, knowing where you are in act one and watching as three people talk about how they are NO WHERE near you is a great deal of joy, and that’s what games are all about, right? Fun and interaction!

Score: ***1/2

Night of the Demon (1957)

The cover to the Australia Cinema Cult release of Night of the Demon

Film: To say that the ghost stories of Montague R. James are well respected is possibly an understatement. The very fact that a type of horror story is referred to as Jamesian should underline that fact. The Jamesian story type is a path well trod not just by writers, but by filmmakers as well. The Jamesian method has three main features: the story takes place in a small, generally English, community or perhaps a University or other place of learning, it has a sceptical scholar as it’s protagonist and some sort of cursed tome that effects either ghosts of demons.

It’s appropriate for a film to use the Jamesian method too. To have a protagonist in the film who has to have a lot of the environments or traditions of a location or society explained to them makes for an easy way for the viewer to comprehend as well, and it also works for the big reveal if the society has a hidden secret. This method also works well in science fiction to explain more high concept stuff, like in The Last Starfighter or even Star Wars, as Luke need the ways of the grater world explained to him.

This movie, Night of the Demon, is based on one of James’ works, ‘Casting the Runes’, and was adored by Charles Bennett, who also wrote The Lost World and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, and was directed by Jacques Tourneur, who directed The Comedy of Errors and I Walked With a Zombie. It had a difficult release as the producer Hal E. Chester wanted a visual representation of the demon onscreen, where as Tourneur and Bennett wanted to avoid that. The film had two releases, one which was cut by a full 10 minutes and titles “Curse of the Demon’, but here was have the full, 95 minute version on Bluray from Cinema Cult.

Karswell (Niall MacGinnis) and Holden (Dana Andrews) regard each other

After Professor Henry Harrington (Maurice Denham) died mysteriously during investigating the occult doings of a certain Dr. Karswell (Niall MacGinnis), psychologist John Holden (Dana Andrew’s) travels to England to continue the investigation.

Karswell obviously objects to Holden’s interference, and slips a curse onto his person, one which will cause him to be visited by a demon and murdered at a particular time and date.

Of course, Holden thinks this is a pile of hoo-ha, and even at the insistence of Harrjngton’s niece, Joanna (Peggy Cummins) who is investigating her uncles death, he still remains an unbeliever… even as the evidence for the curse gets more and more apparent! Will he survive the curse? Does it even exist?

The curse!!

Obviously a film of this generation has several elements that a modern film fan may not like. The acting is very ‘on stage’ and ‘performancey’ (you know what I mean, it’s very vaudevillian), the effects are very low-key, but for their time they look fantastic, well, until you get to the silly looking demon, but the silliness of his look adds to the charm of the whole thing.

The story, with its aforementioned ‘Jamesian’ influences, is great. The slow reveals are paced so well, and every introduction of a new character adds to the fun. Even better, the bad guy is announced from the very start so there is no deception, and his intentions are always clear, but how will he get away with his shenanigans, and how far he’ll go are where the expanding story sits.

Trigger warning: there is an Indian character who may not sit well with some as the part is played by Caucasian actor, Peter Elliot. It’s not a dealbreaker, but some may find it offensive.

This is a great film, and a worthy addition to any horror fans collection. Best thing about this edition is that the Cinema Cult edition cover has ‘85 minutes runtime’ on it, meaning it’s the cut ‘Curse of the Demon’ version, but it actually is the uncut ‘Night…’ version.

Score: ****

The menu screen from the Night of the Demon Bluray

Extras: Not a sausage.

Score: 0

WISIA: It a great film, so definitely.

Joanna (Peggy Cummins) looks concerned, and fair enough.

This review was done with the Australian Cinema Cult Bluray release of the film

Unspeakable Words

Unspeakable Words

The box art for Unspeakable Words

A horror literature fan who might not be aware of the love of horror in the board game community might casually ask,” Are there any games that feature the works of H. P. Lovecraft?”

Most board game fans would answer,” Shut up, sit down and buckle up because oh boy, are there board games based on the worlds of Mr. Lovecraft!!”

Games based on the works of Lovecraft are so common that I’d almost be inclined to say he’s more appreciated by board game fans than almost any other. I have a modest collection of board games (about 500) and I believe that in that pile of boxes, littered throughout my house, a good 50 of them are based, sometimes subtly, sometimes obviously on the works of Lovecraft!

These games range from Dungeons and Dragons styled Role Playing Games like Call of Cthulhu, to miniature storytelling games like Mansions of Madness or Cthulhu: Death May Die, to adaptations of other games like the Love Letter variant, Lovecraft Letter and small, quick to play card games, like this one, Unspeakable Worlds.

Unspeakable Words has a great objective, and I’ll quote the instruction manual,” Be the first to reach at least 100 points without going insane.”

How could one NOT want to play that?!?

Cthulhu tokens

At the start of the game, each player is given 5 Cthulhu tokens, which represents their mental state, i.e.: full sanity, and 7 letter cards, with the remainder of the cards forming a draw pile in the centre of the table.

The game is then quite simple: form a word from the cards in your hand, and then try to roll, on a 20-sided die, equal to or over the score that the cards add up to, which is known as a ‘sanity check’. The way the cards have their score made is by how many angles the letter has, for example, ‘O’ has no angles, so it’s 0 points, but a ‘Y’ has three angles, so its point score is 3.

Card art

Every time you make a word, that word can never be repeated in this game, and if, when you roll the D20, you roll under the score, you lose one sanity point… the little Cthulhu tokens I referred to earlier.

The player will score whether they lose a sanity token or not and will continue to do so until they run out of tokens. Here’s where the fun comes in though: a player who has lost all bar one of their tokens can make up words, because the almost insane might believe ANYTHING is a word and will score for whatever ever gibberish they create if they can roll over the score.

The person who wins the game is either the last one with a token left, or whomever makes a successful sanity check after breachi8ng the 100-point mark.

This game is a lot of fun for people who love word games, and luckily, me and my family do! If you DON’T like word games, this probably isn’t for you no matter how much of a Lovecraft fan you are, this is especially true as the theme is quite thinly laid over the game.

If you do love word games, then you will probably love this game as it is a lot of fun.

The Cthulhu pieces are very thematic, and the cards all refer to various creatures and characters from Lovecraft’s mythos (D is for Deep One, for example), and I should also mention there are several wild cards that make the game occasionally quite spicy! If I am to criticise this game on one thing it IS the art on the cards, which are not to my taste at all.

Once again, if you aren’t a word game type, then this probably will be frustrating and awful, but lovers of such fun will quite like it. Recommended.

Score: ***1/2

Uh-oh!

Scream (2022)

Scream (2022)

The cover to the Australian 4K release.

Film: The older I get… and let me tell you, I’m getting older REAL fast… the more and more sick I am of the word ‘franchise’. When I was younger, it referred to a McDonalds, or a KFC, now it appears that no filmmaker or writer wants to make a movie, they want to make a franchise.

You know, I get it. To create something that has some kind of cool legacy would be amazing. To know that something you created has a future because it has a love that is generationally significant.

In past times you could do it with just a single film, which might indicate the quality of these franchises over single films of the past. Personally I blame my beloved 80s movies, and the post-2000 need for nostalgia driven product over new stuff. I guess I’m part of the problem when you consider that this very website older movies more often than newer ones.

Scream (2020) starts with the assault of Tara Carpenter (Jenna Ortega) in her house by the returning Woodsboro murder icon Ghostface, which causes he estranged sister Samantha (Melissa Barrera) to return home as their mother is missing with one of her many boyfriends.

Samantha has a terrible secret!

What we quickly learn is that Sam is the illegitimate daughter of the original Woodsboro murderer Billy Loomis (Skeet Ulrich), and is in therapy as the idea of her father being a serial killer has caused a few mental issues.

Of course, the killer is back, but this time is killing the children and/ or family members of the original victims/ killers, and one by one, people are being murdered who somehow relate back to the original murders

This alerts Sydney Prescott (Neve Campbell) and Gale Weathers (Courtney Cox) to the situation, and make there way back to the town to help in whatever way they can, but could it have been that the villain(s) of the piece wanted exactly that?

Sydney and Gale don’t have ANY secrets!

Like other Scream movies, the story is pretty silly and far fetched, and relies characters to behave in a way that real people don’t. That’s just movies I guess. One thing is, though, is the need justify its existence via a dialogue-based meta-explanation that talks about the state of franchised cinema, and also references itself in a matter more mastubatory that wanking to a home video of yourself wanking. Even down to mentioning how stupid and frustrating new horror films naming themselves like they are the original is unfunny and doesn’t shows a sense of irony: it shows the writers off knowing what they are doing, why they are doing it and are still big enough jerks to make us spend the rest of our lives saying ‘no not that one, the original one’.

As usual with the Scream films, after the first one that is, the motivation for the murder(s) is somewhat lacking, and if not for the quality of acting and violence, would have been flat and uninteresting.

I do have to say I liked the cast, no matter how unliveable the character was. The acting is on point and the cast are certainly a lot more convincing that previous entries. Some of the throwbacks to previous episodes, like Randy’s sister played by Heather Matarazzo from Scream 3, Marley Shelton from Scream 5, Neve Campbell, Courtney Cox and David Arquette from the entire series are an obvious addition. By the way, Arquette has turned into a super-cool ex-cop action hero type, and I want to see him in something like the Bob Odenkirk movie Nobody.

I did find one thing deliciously wonderful about it: considering it’s pedigree of PG-rated, more teen friendly violence, this has some moments of brutality that are stunningly surprising. Some slow, penetrating stab shots that take no prisoners and a leg/ ankle snap that made some parts of me shrink so much I’m gonna need a hot bath to set them free from cowering in my lower abdomen.

Are we gonna see another one? It feels like it, for sure. Do we need another one, no: not even slightly.

Score: ***

The menu from the 4K release

Extras: The extras on this disc are quite interesting, and really do pay tribute to Craven’s creation (even one of the characters names is Wes).

There is a Commentary by writers James Vanderbilt and Gus Busick, directors Tyler Gillett and Matt Bettinelli-Olpin and executive producer Chad Villella which is great, as it really covers a lot of aspects of the film, though their assumption of an asthma inhaler in the first scene was ‘very very subtle’ makes me wonder if they have ever seen a movie before. Come on guys, if someone is asthmatic or diabetic it DEFINITELY a plot point later in the film.

The Deleted Scenes are worthless and the film is better off without them.

New Blood compares the original film with the new film, and they talk about how important the film is in film history. Let’s face it, the original film probably did save the dire place mainstream horror was in at the time.

Bloodlines is the same as above but with the cast.

In The Shadow of the Master looks at Craven’s history and influence on the horror genre.

Scream 1996 (see, what did I tell you) trailer.

Score: ***

WISIA: If I was to watch an entire franchise again, I probably would, but I wouldn’t watch it as a single one-off film again.

Wes cops it.

Trivial Pursuit: Horror Ultimate Edition

Trivial Pursuit: Horror Ultimate Edition

The cover to Trivial Pursuit Horror Ultimate Edition

Like Monopoly or Cluedo (Clue, to my American friends), Trivial Pursuit is a well-worn classic in the history of board games, one that surely every fan of games must own, either the classic one with just the regular mix of trivia questions, or one of the ‘flavoured’ ones, like the Star Wars or Harry Potter ones.

For years, horror fans have been left out in the cold… or in a basement… or in the woods, or wherever the heck it is that horror fans would not like to be abandoned… with only those mainstream movie related ones available to us, or in one of those wedge-shaped mini ‘bite-sized’ editions, of which there is a horror one, but now we have a spectacular, big-boxed and proper edition with this Trivial Pursuit Horror Ultimate Edition!

As usual the winner is the first person to collect the six different wedges by answering trivia questions correctly, but you knew that, right?

The whole thing, laid out and ready to play!

The rules of this game are the same as most other Trivial Pursuit games: each player roles a die and moves that many spaces to your (final) destination. Once there, the player to your left asks you a question based on the colour you have arrived on.

In this game:

Green – Paranormal

Pink – Psychological

Yellow – Monster

Blue – Comedy

Orange – Gore/ Disturbing

Purple – Slasher

If you get the question right, you get another turn. If it is a junction space, you collect that colour wedge, unless you already have it, in which case you get another turn. If you get the answer incorrectly, the turn passes to the next player. This repeats until one player has all six colour wedges, and their objective is to get to the middle square where the other players get to pick the final question category. If they get that right, they win!

The problem with a lot of these flavoured Trivial Pursuits is if you don’t know the subject, you won’t stand a chance at a win. For example, I would never even entertain the idea of playing either the Friends or the Dragonball Bite-sized edition. This, however, does go easy on the casual, or lighter horror fan, as there are questions not just based on some obscure 70s slash-fest, there are also questions on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Twilight. For example, the first card I’ve just pulled out of the box has questions about Session 9, 30 Days of Night, The Loved Ones and the second card I’ve pulled out asks about Dexter, What We Do In The Shadows and Black Mirror.

An example of one of the questions on the cards.

If I’m completely honest, my first game of this against my daughter, who is a horror fan but not to the extent that I am, was far too close for my liking.

The style of the game and the box artwork are great and very thematic without referring to any particular film. The exterior art has a dirty wooden box look with a bloody handprint on it, what more could you ask for, and the board looks like a dirty wooden floor, with the actual game made to look like its part of some kind of dark ritual, with paintings of mysterious runes and bones and feathers added as addition decoration.

There are 1800 questions on the cards, and if you have the bit-sized horror one you can add that as well! The quality of the cards is pretty good too.

The pieces are where the game really shine though. They have the traditional Trivial Pursuit wedge-collecting base, but weird, non-specific character pieces on the top. Mostly with these types of games, like the Warner Bros. or Star Wars ones for example, the pieces with reflect characters from the franchises, but as this is non-specific, they have used their creativity and come up with some disturbing models!

Creepy, non-franchise specific player’s pieces

This game says the amount of players is ‘2+’ on the box, but it works best at 4, I think, but that’s my opinion of all Trivial Pursuits.

In essence, this game is just a Trivial Pursuit, so if you like that game, you will probably like this, but its genre specificity makes it really for fans of horror. If you are having a board game night and someone loudly proclaims “Oh, I don’t like horror films’ then put this back on the shelf as it will be of no use to you, or, and this is the better answer, send them home: why do you have a non-horror fan in your house anyways?

It doesn’t bring anything new to the table, but its nice to show off what obscure horror facts you know to your horror loving mates. If I’m to really label a specific problem with this game, it is a little pricey from some retailers. When I got mine several months ago, it took me a while to find it for less than $100 (I paid $80 Australian). It may have come down since, but with everything going on in the world in 2022 and the past two years, I can’t imagine a price reduction being on the cards.

Score: ***1/2