Wednesday, December 26, 2007


Every word you may have read about this relatively short, exceedingly funny and astonishingly perfect game is true. I would never have imagined that my favorite game of the year would be a physics based first person puzzle game, but it's so much more and does everything right from the difficulty curve to the character and feel of its environments and its brilliant antagonist.
Also: When was the last time a game rewarded you for winning with cake and a song (that still keeps me grinning and happily giggling when I think about it)?

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Linda Thompson - Versatile Heart

I've never really seen the point of calling a piece of music "timeless". Doesn't this usually stand for some kind of regression into a mythical golden past that never existed? Should artists strive for not talking about the times in which they are living?
But, some albums, like Linda Thompson's brilliant new Versatile Heart, are shooting for another type of timelessness - talking about things that don't change and being sad and angry about the immobility of the world; though also talking about the things that change and shouldn't.
Which of course makes Versatile Heart a very timely record.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Hercules at the Center of the Earth aka Hercules in the Haunted World (1961)

Well, sometimes it seems to be rather pointless to rave about the beauty of Mario Bava's work, when there are people like Tim Lucas around, who can do that so much better (and much more insightful, I fear).

And the suggestion that, if you only want to watch one peplum in your life, it should be this one.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Friday the 13th Part 2 (1981)

Surprising as it may seem, the only Friday the 13th movie I've seen before was Freddy vs Jason, not really a way to endear a franchise to me, and the reviews of the series plus my not exactly burning with love for the Slasher sub-genre didn't make the matter of watching more of it pressing.
But sometimes you actually want to see young, stupid people being killed with pointy objects, so it was inevitable that I would some day see another Friday. Luckily, I'm not in a very masochistic mood these days, so I decided to watch what is usually considered the best (sometimes "the only watchable") of the series.
And good Ft13P2 certainly is. The plot is of course more or less non-existent (camp counselors on a camp counseling course in a counseling camp are counseled killed by a wood dwelling psychopath with camp and mother issues), but there is a certain drive and style to the proceedings, even an interest in details. Not only can we actually see the killer transporting one of the corpses, but also some of the hoariest clichés of the genre are actually set up properly. You know that car? We learn early on in the film that it has the tendency to not start even on a normal day, so we're not that annoyed when it doesn't start later on either.
Also, there is the best Final Girl sequence I have ever seen, good enough to recommend the movie even if the rest was as unwatchable as its atrocious last two minutes.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

My Dear Killer (1971)

This fine film strides the line between giallo and more conventional mystery, but in a very entertaining way. Highlights: A mustachioed(!) George Hilton playing a cop(!!), a Morricone soundtrack of his usual quality, some really great photography.
Not a work of genius, but an all-around nice piece of genre film.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Ye Gods

(Warning: Not safe for any work that I know of!)

Django (1966)

Poor Sergio Corbucci was always standing in the shadow of that other Sergio, who happened to be at his best when making western too. And I can see why. Corbucci's films always looked a lot cheaper, not necessarily in a bad way, but in the kind of way mainstream critics can't cope with: sound stages that look like sound stages, plots that aren't stolen from Kurosawa, instead from the B-western next door, women that are a little more complex than Leone's rape fodder, actual compassion for human beings. And show me an ending more heartbreaking and heartbroken than that of Il Grande Silencio.
I think in Corbucci's greater compassion with his characters lies their higher emotional resonance for me: Where Leone's (and of course he was a great director who made great movies) characters are more or less part of the scenery, Corbucci's are (slightly cardboardy) people. And I never cry for shrubs.

Saturday, December 8, 2007

EM aka Embalming (1999)

You possibly know Shinji Aoyama as the director of art house films like Eureka, which won't prepare you for EM in the slightest. It's a kind of unholy union of art house/thriller/mystery film, with a plot containing illegal organ trade, stolen heads, embalming, the possibility of eternal existence, multiple personality disorder, conspiracies, father complexes, weird sects, human experiments, and everything else you could possibly think of, written by a Japanese Ross Macdonald on speed, but directed by Shinji Aoyama (with an unexpected sense of humor) on Valium.
If this sounds confusing, you haven't seen the actual film, which throws at least one mad idea per minute at you, all the while trying to stay ponderous, slow and meditative. Aoyama's way of concentrating his shots on weird, seemingly non-intuitive details doesn't make the plot any clearer, instead producing a unique moodiness.

Darlings of the day:
"We'll be disgraced if we display his body without his head."

"Everyone seems to have been totally brain-fucked!"


are these people who are telling me Umberto Lenzi's gialli are as watchable as his cop movies, and not as crappy as anything else he ever directed?
And why are they lying to me?

Monday, December 3, 2007

Bay of Blood (1971)

If you are a friend of fully sympathetic, heroic characters in your movies, you have come to the right film. Bay of Blood features a cast of sociopathic killers, who mutilate each other with pointy, sharp and blunt objects as easy and unconcerned as I brew myself another cup of tea.
Director Mario Bava never even makes one of the characters the protagonist, instead opting to leave the viewer more than a little disoriented by the tempo in which potential protagonists die or turn out to be amoral murderers (mostly both). This tactic, along with the grotesquely beautiful visuals and the goriest violence of 1971, give the proceedings a strange feeling of abstraction and an nearly overwhelming off-ness.
All this might sound a little off-putting, but I sat in front of the monitor transfixed and a little uncomfortable by the cynicism of the whole thing, not wanting the movie to end as fast as it does.

(And by the way: Bay of Blood looks in part like the most stylish slasher movie ever made, just nearly ten years too early and graced with some of the genre conventions of the giallo.)

Saturday, December 1, 2007


Your Inner European is Dutch!

Open minded and tolerant.
You're up for just about anything.

Why is it that the first really enlightening review of this game can be found on a RPG "fan" site

instead of one of the professional game review sites?

The Witcher

This really makes me want to play this for the narrative.