Unmatched Jurassic Park: Ingen Vs Raptors

Unmatched Jurassic Park: Ingen Vs Raptors

The cover to Unmatched: Jurassic Park

In 2002, in the wake of the Star Wars prequels, the merchandising machine for George Lucas’ franchise went into overdrive, making everything from pyjamas to action figures, and in this case board games.

Milton Bradley/ Hasbro came up with a game called Star Wars: Epic Duels was a card based miniature game designed by Cthulhu: Death May Die’s Rob Daviau and Craig Van Ness, who made the iconic and much sought after Star Wars: The Queen’s Gambit board game… seriously, if you have one, I want it!

Unfortunately, Epic Duels disappeared, but Restoration Games unearthed it, dusted it off, removed the Star Wars skin on it and came up with an updated version, now called Unmatched: Battle of Legends Volume 1, a card based miniature game that had two players pitch characters like King Arthur, Alice (from Wonderland), Sinbad the Sailor and Medusa in..ahem… epic duels against each other.

Velociraptor card art
Muldoon card art

As this was an epically fun game, that also had beautiful card art from the people at Mondo, best known for amazing posters and soundtrack art, and minis from Punga Miniatures, of course expansions started to emerge, and very quickly we had characters from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Marvel comics, Bruce Lee (!!!), other older literary and mythological characters (like Dracula, Sherlock Holmes, the Invisible Man) and in this case, Jurassic Park.

Unmatched Jurassic Park is the first of three JP based expansions, one other having a T-Rex vs Ellie Sattler and Ian Malcolm and an Alan Grant one announced, and has us pitch the big game hunter Muldoon up against three velociraptors. I call them ‘expansions’ but technically, every game of Unmatched that has more than one character in it, is a game in its own right, and can be played without any of the other editions.

The miniatures can be painted or left unpainted as I have done

This game is very easy to play… you don’t need to be very clever girls (geddit?)… and is started with two players deciding whether they want to be Muldoon or the dinosaurs. Once decided, the players place their starting minis, and in the case of Muldoon, their Ingen employee chits, on the board, collect their deck of thirty cards, their player cards and their life counters, they then draw seven cards each and get ready to rumble. This seven cards is their hand limit for the game, so if at the end of a turn they find themselves with more, they have to discard down to that limit.

On each turn, the players have to draw one card, and then have a choice of actions:

– move: each mini can move up to its limit shown on the player card, unless they have a card in their hand that boosts their move limit.

– scheme: you may play a special effect card onto one of your chosen minis

– attack: using your cards, the player may attack another player if they are within range. To perform combat, the attacking player takes a combat card from their hand and place it face down in from of them, and the defender does so with a defence card. Both players reveal their cards and the defence score is removed from the attack score, and the remaining points are the damage taken. Some cards do have additional effects, so they also take place, potentially diffusing or increasing an attack.

A game set up and ready to play

This moving, scheming and attacking continues until the character mini is reduced to zero health, in the velociraptors case, all three being reduced to zero. The three versus one might seem unfair, but Muldoon has ranged attacks, Ingen employees to distract the dinosaurs and traps to corral them, or catch them.

One thing I didn’t mention with the other sets of Unmatched is they are completely mixable and matchable. You want Buffy the Vampire Slayer to fight Muldoon? Do it! Dracula versus the velociraptors? Go for it! Every set can be played against each other, so buying many sets is a must, especially when all those Jurassic Park ones are finally released!

At my place, we even used a round robin generator to create the matches for us – let me tell you, I was pretty angry when Bruce Lee beat my velociraptors, though I expect that he probably could.

The box interior is designed for easy pack up!

Even though this review is for the first Jurassic Park version Unmatched, it really is a review for all of them. Throughout the series, of course some characters are better than others, but it’s not just the specs for the character, it’s also the way the player plays. I have been beaten with characters that I didn’t win with, so play style comes into it a lot.

I love this game. The art is fantastic, the minis are beautifully designed and executed and the gameplay is simple enough for it to be accessible to gamers of any level to play it, but once you’re in, it becomes a thinky exercise that almost chess-like in its execution. Weirdly, for a game that spreads its mechanics across various themes and franchises, each character is true in its play style to its theme; a difficult exercise to execute well. Heaps of fun, buy it.

Score: *****

Shaun of the Dead (2004)

The cover to the Australian Bluray release

Film: In this humble reviewer’s opinion, the best horror movies are the one where people like you and me are put into extraordinary situations. Night of the Living Dead stands out as an example of this; a group of faceless no-ones, drawn together to fight a common evil. Luckily for those folks they had the convenience of finding a domicile that had a firearm in it, but look around your own house, what do you have to fight back the hordes of the undead…a tennis racket? A cricket bat? A baseball bat? I imagine that the amount of houses that have NO guns would outweigh those that do, so to react against this sort of thing we would use whatever is handy…this is the world of Shaun of the Dead.

Simon Pegg as Shaun and Nick Frost as Ed

Shaun (Simon Pegg) is just like you or I, with all the same problems. His job sucks, his girlfriend, Liz (Kate Ashfield) has left him due to his flagrant disregard for their relationship, and his obsession with the local pub ‘The Winchester’, and he forgets to call his Mum (Penelope Wilton) regularly, which bring about much agro from his step-father (Bill Nighy) …general details of life that can lead a man to drink until he cannot feel his legs anymore, but Shaun’s problems are getting worse. The dead are rising, with a ravenous lust for human flesh. Shaun has to make a plan so that he can keep himself and his loved ones safe. Along with his best pal, Ed (Nick Frost), he comes up with a plan that will keep Liz, her disapproving flat mates Dianne (Lucy Davis) and David (Dylan Moran), and his mother and step father safe and well until the whole problem blows over…that is, as long as nothing untoward happens…

The walk to the pub is more difficult than normal.

Shaun of the Dead runs the gamut of gruesome gore and clever comedy…so much so you may find your head spinning. There are so many references to other zombie films that you probably won’t pick up on all of them the first time you watch it, like the Italian restaurant named Fulci’s, the electronics store called Foree’s, and the assistant manager named Ash. Seeing as how the creators and many of the other cast are from the Pegg/ Wright creation, Spaced, there are many subtle tips of the hat to that show as well, not to mention a selection of English comedy and music favourites (look out for Little Britain’s Matt Lucas, The Hobbit’s Martin Freeman, League of Gentlemen’s Mark Gatiss and Reece Shearsmith and Coldplay’s Chris Martin and Jonny Buckland to name a few). As for the zombies themselves, well, there are some really freakish ideas, like a wheelchair bound zombie…and I shall never look at twins the same way again. Also interesting is the way that Pegg and Wright have compared our mortal existences to those of the hordes of zombies. Are we really any different?

Score: *****

The menu screen to the Australian Bluray release

Extras: The commentary is by Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright. Half trivia track, half informative and half stand up comedy (hang on, is that 3 halves? Oh well) this track is really one of the best commentaries I have ever heard. It is fun and entertaining, and a great way to get help to spot all the ‘horror asides’.

The special features are divided into a few sections:

Missing Bits contains:

Extended Bits is a selection of scenes from the movie that were trimmed for various reasons. This extra can be played with or without the commentary by Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright.

Outtakes, surprisingly, are a selection of amusing outtakes. One warning though, within these outtakes contain the worst Beatles impressions you will ever hear.

The Man Who Would Be Shaun shows Nick Frost and Simon Pegg fooling around with different accents in a particular scene.

Funky Pete which shows the ‘clean’ version of a scene for the airplane version where all the ‘F’ words are changed to the word ‘funk’…do you funking well understand what I funking well mean…you mother funker?

Plot Holes contains 3 sections: What happened to Shaun when he ran off, What happened to Dianne When She Left the Winchester and How Did Ed get from the Cellar to the Shed. These sections are done as comic strips, with the tale told by the respective characters, and fill in the plot holes quite suitably and amusingly.

Raw Meat contains:

Peg’s, Davis’ and Cornish’s Video Diaries is a selection of cute behind the scenes stuff done by, well, the people whose names each short is named after. It seems to be more of a look at how mundane filmmaking is. Cornish’s harrowing trip to his day as a zombie extra is both funny and frustration.

Casting Tapes is some footage of the casting process.

Edgar and Simon’s Flip Chart which is a run through of the film by the writer done in September 2001 using a flip book (often used by teachers or in business meetings), and is a quite amusing run through of the movie, before it was even filmed.

SFX Comparison is just that. A few scenes from the movie with the special effects removed, so you can see what had to be done to get some of the effects.

Make Up Tests shows close up views of some of the zombies from the movie, with and without the ‘eye’ effects put in, and a few ‘zombie walk’ tests.

EPK Featurette discusses the origins of the movie and what the lead actors and the director thought about their roles within the movie, and also whether they are making a horror, or a comedy, or something new altogether. It is a bit of a fluff piece, but kept interesting by the personalities of the cast and crew.

TV bits contains:

Is a bunch of ‘in the world of Shaun of the Dead’ TV spots, featuring an interview with Chris Martin from Coldplay about their charity ‘Zombaid’, a game show for zombies (featuring the ‘Gonk’ piece of music from Dawn of the Dead), some bits with Tv\V presenter Trisha and a News reader recalling ‘Z Day’; the day the dead came back alive.

Zombie Gallery contains:

Photo Gallery is a series of behind the scenes photos taken of the cast and crew at rehearsals.

2000AD Strip a comic stripped based on part of the film, taken from the English sci fi comic 2000AD.

Poster Designs, which is a series of poster ideas for the film.

Trails of the Dead contains various trailers for Shaun of the Dead, including the teaser trailer from Fright Fest 2003.

Finally, in this exhaustive and thorough pile of extras, is a storyboard feature that allows you to, during the film, hit enter on your remote whenever a pair of zombie eyes pop up, to see the storyboard for that section.

Score: *****

WISIA: Yes. It’s easily the best part of the Cornetto Trilogy and is just so much fun.

It’s a zombie movie: not everyone survives!

This review was done with the Australian Bluray release.

Psycho Killer Card Game

Psycho Killer

The amazing box for Psycho Killer

David Byrne from Talking Heads once said;’ Psycho Killer, qu’est-ce que c’est, fafafafa fafafafafa better, run, run, run, run run away.’ It doesn’t mean anything in regards to this card game review, but he did say it… on SEVERAL occasions!!

There’s nothing I love more than a tidy little card game that is easy to learn, and the teach can be taught in minutes. The reason I like this is that it’s nice for my wife to have a card game or two in her hand bag, and when at the pub, it can be whipped out for a quick few rounds.

Unfortunately Psycho Killer from Escape Tabletop Games doesn’t come in one of those little boxes, but to their credit, they have put the base game into a box that will eventually fit the expansions if you choose to buy them, and I guess if you want to, you can just throw the original deck into a smaller box for travel. Also, and I have to point this out before I go any further, the box is in an awesome replica of a VHS tape, which is very thematic for the game. It just proves that even though I think I’m nostalgia proof, I definitely am not!

(NB: the expansions to date are a zombie expansion, another called Gratuitous Violence and a drinking game addition called ‘Bloody Mary’.)

If one of these comes out of the deck, you’re all in trouble.

The game does fit that previous criteria though, as the short instructions take minutes to read, and the play explanation takes even less, so if you do decide to whip it out and introduce it to people who haven’t played it before, you’ll be up to your guts in no time. This game is a clear example of it not being the size that counts, but what you do with it instead.

In Psycho Killer, you play potential and eventual victims of a slasher who wants you dead. The winner is determined by who has the less injuries at the end of the game, which is determined by when the fifth psycho killer card is drawn from the draw pile.

The regular cards

Play is simple. To set up, take the cards with black backgrounds (these are the psycho killer and bad event cards) out of the deck and deal 7 cards to each player. Shuffle those black cards back into the deck and place that deck as a draw pile in the middle of the table.

Each turn, players play as many cards as they can from their hand, and finish their turn by drawing a card from the top of the deck to replenish their hand. If the card is a psycho killer card, they, and everyone else at the table have to play all their Injury cards, which determines how many points they have, and after the 5th psycho killer is drawn, the person with the lowest amount of injuries, wins!

Simple right? The curliness of the game comes from the fact that the other cards you play can see you moving your injuries to other players, checking the cards in the deck to see if you can avoid them, reversing the state of play and other such devious things that help you avoid injury. There is also a catch up mechanism too: if you have more than 10 injury points during the game, you are ‘left for dead’ and it gives you an advantage of being able to hold some of the black cards (not the psycho killer) in your hand until it’s strategically better for you to play.

I really like the theme of the game, and the fact that the design of it all fits well in with the VHS generation, and there is plenty of horror in-jokes or Easter eggs or whatever they are called these days for the big horror fan, and even the minor one. The good thing is that the theme doesn’t disturb the gameplay so if you aren’t a horror or movie fan, like my wife, it doesn’t get in the way of a fun game. I guess this also means the theme isn’t important, but I admit I did purchase this game because of it.

A game of Psycho Killer in progress

If I am to criticise this game for one thing, it’s the ‘when to play’ code on the cards. Thematically, using the emblems for ‘fast forward’, ‘play’, ‘eject’ etc to describe when each card has to be played is smart, but it’s not immediately accessible, and those casuals who aren’t big movie fans will ask on several occasions what it means, so be prepared for those questions!

All in all, Psycho Killer is a quick fun family game with a very non-family theme. Game length is random as you never know when those psycho killer cards are going to pop up, but the cards make it tactically fun as you cross and double cross your friends and family, allowing them to get more injuries than what you have, aiming towards that lower score at the end.

Score: ****

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.

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.