They’re coming to get you Barbara

Posted: October 24, 2010 in Movies, TV

My long standing love affair with horror movies began when I was 9 years old, I had snuck out of bed to watch Carrie on TV late one night and ever since then I was hooked. From then onwards be it ghosties and ghoulies, or long legged beasties and things that go bump in the night I was more than happy to be delivered to them. I have wiled away many happy hours with my pals Freddie and Jason not mention an entire cast of zombies, vampires and werewolves. One of my favourite ways to spend a day (and/or night) is having a marathon horror movie session. Although I have to say that I draw the line at the ‘torture porn’ genre that encompasses the likes of the Saw or Hostel movies, sorry but to me horror is a fantasy genre with fantasy monsters, there are enough bloody real weirdos out there and these types of film, for me personally are too ‘real’, its not escapism when you can imagine some sicko out there for real perpertrating these sort of things. But this isn’t a debate about that.

As a genre horror is one that is often treated with contempt by critics especially, but its appeal with the general public is something that is undeniable, and despite lulls in popularity over the decades it always finds a way back and reassert itself, usually with a particular film that will restablish its credentials and its popularity.

This is why I was so pleased to see Mark Gatiss’ A History of Horror on BBC 4 this month. Gatiss is clearly a life long horror fan, something that is probably quite obvious in his own writing, (League of Gentlemen anyone?)and this 3 part program is a love letter to the genre. The first episode dealt with the 30’s and 40’s, a golden age for the horror movie producing such fine works as Universals Dracula and Frankenstein and making horror icons of Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi. It also gives an interesting insight into the lives of those both in front and behind of the camera.

The second took a look at the British horror films in particular the much loved Hammer Horror films that also were responsible for creating another two classic horror legends with Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing. These films gave horror its second wind, seeing as during the 40’s the genre largely died out, most likely due to the fact that people felt there was enough real horror in the world with WW2. And the success of ‘The Curse of Frankenstein” and “Dracula” paved the way for a whole new wave of horror most notably the films of Roger Corman in the US (in fact another horror legend Vincent Price starred in all but one of Corman’s Poe films) and the work of Italian filmmaker Mario Brava, Black Sunday starring Barbara Steele is another stand out piece of the time. The British film industry has never been in such good shape though and Hammer themselves won the Queens Award for sevices to export during this time.

The final episode to be shown this week turns towards the US and the work of Tobe Hooper and George Romero, also the rise of the ‘slasher’ film.

It definately makes a real difference to a program when the person presenting it has a real love for the subject matter being dealt with and this certainly comes across with Mark Gatiss. If you love horror movies or even have an interest in film history then this program deserves your attention.

I have been loving the collaborations that Pearl Lowe has done for budget high street chain Peacocks, the last collection was especially good. I was very impressed with the quality of the fantastic peter pan collar dress that seems to have been the biggest hit of the collection.

I still haven’t had the chance to wear mine yet but I will be sure to post a pic when I do🙂

And it looks as though the Christmas drop is going to be another winner if this sneaky peek is anything to go buy.

Particularly loving the silver and black lace number on the left (model next to Daisy Lowe) and the second to the end on the right (possibly a crochet?) looks very twenties vintage.  Hopefully it won’t be too long before it hits the shelves.


Loving the silvery black lace number on the left, the one on the far right also looks like it could be very interesting, not sure about the others yet

If we took a holiday

Posted: October 22, 2010 in photography, travel

So I just got back from a week in Cornwall, truely one of the most spectacularly lovely places in the UK and always a big favourite of mine to holiday when holidaying here rather than abroad. Normally when we go there it tends to St Ives, a place that always holds my heart more than most, but this year we ended up booking a place in St Austell due to its good placement and excellent public transport links to other places around the area we haven’t visited yet. To be frank there is not an awful lot other than the excellent transport links to recommend about the actual town itself. It is not particularly pretty with the nearest harbour area being a couple of miles away in Charlestown,and  there is a seriously disappointing lack of decent restaurants around the actual city centre (a particularly good exception being the wonderful Gurkha nepalese restaurant which we ended up eating at twice.. and not just because they do some of the best red wine I’ve ever tasted!)  but if you are looking for a good base to explore then it is ideally situated and of course if you are driving then driving out to find restaurants around the area wouldn’t be as big of an issue than if you are having to rely on whatever is close by. I cannot however stress how good the guest house was that we stayed in. If you are planning to stay in St Austell then you should really consider the Eden Guesthouse, the hosts Peter and Nuth are absolutely wonderful and made sure that our stay there was a real pleasure. The room we booked had a wonderful four poster bed and was clean, bright and very pleasant. And as for the breakfasts… seriously good to say the very least, the scrambled egg was melt in the mouth must be the cornish butter🙂

As I said though, the main reason for booking there was so that we could explore a little more of Cornwall. And explore we did, everyday was something different and we visited Charlestown to see the tall ships, The Lost Gardens of Heligan, Newquay and its zoo, Looe, and of course we still managed to get a train to see St Ives for the day at least🙂 We also lucked out on the weather, despite it being mid October there was sunshine and blue skies for pretty much most of the time that we were there.

Which means there was plenty of opportunity for me to play with my cameras, I have yet to look at my zumi shots yet. but the pinhole, black and white and landscape shots have all turned out pretty well, so I’m extremely happy with the results that I have seen so far.

The week has certainly made me fall in love with my cameras all over again thats for sure🙂

There is also nothing like cornish fudge and cornish ice cream to make your tastesbuds feel like they’re doing a happy dance🙂

Starting Over

Posted: October 22, 2010 in Uncategorized

When I started this blog I had every intention of keeping it up regularly.  As with so many of the best laid plans things often go awry, this years uni course has sucked up more of my time and energy than I thought it would. To be honest it was not as enjoyable or as interesting as I thought it would be and I found myself struggling to stay on the right track with it. But the year is finally done, I took my last exam a week ago and hopefully I have done enough to pass it. Which as the end of the day is really the only thing that matters.

It has been a rather difficult few months lately as well due to some more personal issues, this is something that I have plans to do something about in a side project soon enough, but that as they say is another story entirely😉

So basically this is me.. signing back on and hopefully making a little more of this than I have in the past few months.


Here comes the rain

Posted: March 25, 2010 in Games

With the exception of the Rock Band/ Guitar Hero games, as a gamer these days I have tended to be more of a ‘pocket gamer’ generally sticking to my DS or my iPhone. But recently I have been really longing to find a game that I can play on the big screen, ideally I wanted an adventure with a rich, deep storyline that would not involve frustating do over sequences or a first person shooter masquerading as an adventure game with irritating control systems that take god knows how long to master.  I wanted something that would be relatively easy to master on the control score yet would be engrossing enough a story to carry me away for a few hours from reality. It has been some time since I found a game that completely sucked me into the narrative that I found it hard to drag myself away from the console, the last time this happened was with the wonderful Still Life on the Xbox (when oh when are they going to releas the sequal for the 360!)

This time the game was Heavy Rain, and as my poor tired self can testify, I was up until the early hours this morning seeing the game through to my completion.

Now I doubt there are many people in the gamesphere who aren’t aware of this title, it has been eagerly awaited for quite some time. Developed by Quantic Dream, Heavy Rain plays like an interactive movie with you getting to play the part of four very different protaganists throughout varying chapters as you try to find the Origami Killer (a serial killer who drowns their victims in vast amounts of rain water) before he (or she) claims the life of their next victim, who also happens to be the son of one of the characters you are playing. You play the game through various chapters switching between the four characters (Ethan Mars, the victims father, investigative journalist Madison Paige, FBI profiler Norman Jayden, and private detective Scott Shelby)  as you investigate the murders. The gameplay itself is fairly straight forward as you perform highlighted actions to interact with the game and your surroundings. Your decisions and actions also affect the storyline, the characters can die as I found out (although the killer remains the same) and the scenes and endings of the game can vary depending on how you’ve played it.

The game is probably the most successful blurring of a game and movie to date, now this may not appeal to every one, but it is, for me, one of its most appealing features. It’s the story that carries you along with it. I really found myself getting involved with the characters I was playing. I actually cared about them, felt empathy towards them driven by the personal interaction you have with their characters.  The constant rainfall and dark oppressive atmosphere all add to heighten the tension of the game as the clock counts down as you try to solve the murders and save Shaun Mars. The visual style is somewhat reminiscent of the movie S7ven and is beautifully rendered, ok so the storyline isn’t exactly original and certainly features plenty of typical crime thriller movie cliches, but as a game it is refreshingly different and has enough twists and turns to keep you hooked, there is also longevity to be had there as different actions have different outcomes.

The game is not my beloved Point and Click adventures, and anyone looking for this might be a little disappointed, but if you want a fully interactive movie style game with an excellent narrative and a real sense of connection with the story then Heavy Rain is truly one of the most refreshing games in a long while. It has an ease of use that will appeal to even the most casual of gamers, you don’t have to be an expert with the joypad to enjoy this game.

As I said at the start, I finally completed the game in the early hours of this morning (boy was I paying for that this afternoon! Ok so the meal and wine at the local didn’t help either with my sleepiness *lol*)  and I certainly didn’t see who the murder was right until the reveal (no no spoilers here) We may only be 3 months into 2010 but for me it is right up there as game of the year.
Can’t wait to see what Quantic come up with next, no doubt the success of Heavy Rain will unleash a whole series of clones and I for one will be interested in seeing what this may produce.

More zumi pics

Posted: March 9, 2010 in photography

Ok, I have been a little slack lately with my updates, there is good reason to this as firstly I was struck down with  plague dreaded lurgy a very nasty case of gastrointeritis and then whilst still trying to get over that I moved house, which is horribly stressful at the best of times. So most of the last week were spent either on my loo or trying to sort out the new house!  (Plus I have a 2000 word essay to write on film as art and business) Thankfully both myself and my house are now fully functional and so normal service should be resumed shortly.

I did get a chance to take so cool pics with my zumi. So until I can get round to writing a proper post here are a couple of my favourites.

If I’m going to be talking about Point and Click adventures, then what better place to start than one of the greatest series of the Genre. I am of course talking about the truly wonderful and gut bustingly funny Monkey Island Series from Lucas Arts.

Long before Johnny Depp donned his eyeliner and pirate hat, there was Guybrush Threepwood (the mighty pirate!) who along side his lady-love Governor Elaine Marley (who definitely could have taught Keira Knightly a thing or two) took on the might and fury of the dastardly Ghost Pirate LeChuck as he terrorized the Caribbean whilst trying to make Elaine his own bride. Welcome to the wonderful world of Monkey Island and its cast of colourful, whacked out and just plain crazy characters.

The first of the Monkey Island games, The Secret of Monkey Island, was released in 1990. It would be followed by 4 sequels, Monkey Island 2: LeChucks Revenge, The Curse of Monkey Island, Escape from Monkey Island and Tales Of Monkey Island. The first four were developed and produced by Lucas Arts, the last of which Escape from Monkey Island was released in 2001. It seemed as though that would be the last we would see of Guybrush and LeChuck, as the Lucas Arts seemed to have no further interest in continuing this style of game, despite it’s popularity and much-loved legendary status in the adventure gaming fraternity, that was until 2009 when TellTale games, in collaboration with Lucas Arts would release Tales of Monkey Island on Pc and Wii Ware. Although unlike the previous incarnations of the game, Tales was released in episodic form with the first released in July and the final one Dec 2009.

So just what was it that makes this game so brilliant? Well where to start? The Monkey Island games were exceptionally player friendly, unlike so many action/adventure games where you have worked your way tirelessly through a level only to find yourself dead and having to go through the same ground hogs day of events again, this did not happen in Monkey Island, there were no sudden death scenarios or lock outs where the game became ‘unwinnable’.

But one of the major draws of the game had to be the humour, the games were packed full of spoofs, pop culture references and in-jokes. The  insult duels were always a pleasure as you went round picking fights with random grog filled pirates in order to learn the right reply to such dazzling repartee as My handkerchief will wipe up your blood!* and I´m not going to take your insolence sitting down!** The characters in the game were also in the habit of breaking the fourth wall and ‘talking to the audience’ thereby acknowledging that they were in a video game. All of which added to the charm of the games.

With the Telltale games reboot of the series and the re-release of the original Secret of Monkey Island on the iPhone, therefore bringing this beloved title to a new generation of gamers there is hope for the point and click adventure yet. I wait with bated breath.

*So you got that job as janitor, after all

**Your hemorrhoids are flaring up again, eh?