Life

Addicted To Codes

Since I posted a little about my health last time it’s safe to say I spend quite some time in hospital for lengthy admissions. Ever since I was a baby i’ve been in and out constantly. Some admissions recently have lasted up to 7 weeks. So it’s essential to bring in your own entertainment.

When I was younger i’d bring in whatever gaming console or handheld I was playing at the time, which passed the hours in seconds. I would also bring in plenty of VHS tapes. Then DVD’s in later years. Then Blu Rays after that. Now it’s digital films.

I’ve never liked going digital completely but when it comes to digital codes, Ultraviolet codes, i’m addicted to buying them for my hospital stays. I have Netflix and the Sky app as well to watch along with my digital film collection. I still buy Blu Rays regularly as i’ll always love owning the physical media of something, be it games or films, but not all the films come with codes.

I still haven’t ventured in to paying full price for codes from digital retailers like iTunes or Google Play. I only buy my codes from eBay or use the ones I get with the Blu Rays I buy. I’m not against buying from iTunes or any other digital service as i’ve currently added a few films to my iTunes wishlist. It’s mostly horrors which I can’t get digital codes for and there’s a good chance they won’t ever get an Ultraviolet release either so buying from iTunes is probably my best bet if I want to watch them whilst in hospital. Yet i’m still hesitant in paying near full price to Apple or Google for the digital version of a film when I can get codes off eBay for between £1-£3 each. Sometimes the digital price on those retailers sites are more expensive than the physical Blu Ray release, which is madness to me. I don’t care about ease of use with the digital collection, it’s much cheaper for these companies to sell a digital code on their site than having to manufacture a physical release and ship them out. So the digital prices should be much lower than a physical price.

Rant aside my digital collection has grown over the last year. I have around 150 digital films. Not many compared to my 400+ Blu Rays or the 800+ DVD’s I used to own. It’s still a nice little selection to have for when i’m stuck staring at 4 walls for weeks on end. Not to mention the many thousands of films/tv shows I can access through Netflix and Sky on their apps. Now i’m off to see what new codes have been listed on eBay 😃

Life

Forgive My Frankness

When I created this blog I wasn’t too sure if I would talk about my personal life. I’m still unsure as to how much i’ll say now as I type. The blog’s initial aim was and is a place for me to write about things I enjoy. Be it a film, a game, a book or anything in between (I’m definitely steering clear of talking about my beloved Arsenal). Somewhere I could practice my writing and put down my thoughts on things. Well this is probably the best place I can go (since barely anyone will read it 😏) to open up about things that have been a struggle.

A lot of people don’t open up about their struggles. We know as people we can be fragile and holding things in is detrimental to our mental health. People don’t like to be a burden to others. Or they’re too “strong” to seek advice. So this is where i’m going to open up.

I consider myself strong mentally as my best friend is someone I talk things through with a lot. See, we both have a medical condition called Cystic Fibrosis. So we could chat to each other anytime we have a problem or are struggling. I’m always there when he needs me and he’s there when I need him. It works. We’ve been best friends for years. Going through an isolating illness, due to cross infection CF people must keep away from each other, we help each other through everything.

Well on the 25th of April, only a few weeks ago, I lost my best friend. We were both patients on the ward. I would walk up to his room some evenings and sit for a chat (no we didn’t listen to our team about keeping apart). We texted every day for years. I was talking to him only the night before. He was only 29.

Over the years i’ve lost countless friends to this disease. Some in my childhood. Many as adults. There were about 40-50 people I knew and grew up with from the children’s hospital. I can probably count on 1 hand how many are left.

My best friend was on the transplant list. He waited and waited. Calls came and went. But none were acceptable lungs. He fought long and hard. He held on as long as he could. I wouldn’t say this out loud to his family but I think he was just too tired to fight any more. I tried so hard to push him. He tried hard to do things that would help him. But his energy was just gone. His mind was tired. The mountain was just too big.

I’m now at the stage where I need a transplant asap. No matter how hard it gets I will not give in. But i’ll admit it’s extremely tough at the minute. There’s so many other problems CF can bring. Not just lung problems. The fact I can’t just text my mate, which i’ve been close to doing multiple times then realising I can’t, to talk through things is putting so much pressure on me mentally. People offer their ear all the time. It’s not the same. Yes they’ll listen but nobody will truly understand. There’s 2 people I can really open up to in my life and now i’ve lost one of them. Sometimes, even without this disease, people can only open up to someone they totally feel comfortable with. This is how I am. I won’t open up to just anyone. I need to feel comfortable enough to go to that place with them.

This post may not make sense. I was rambling and my mind is all over the place currently. But I think it’s cathartic to write down your troubles. Just like it’s cathartic to talk to someone about your problems. Whatever works for you do it. Don’t let things eat you up.

Movies

No Women, No Kids!

I was always going to write a post about Leon. My favourite ever film. It’s been firmly at the top of my list since 1995 when I first saw it. Coincidentally I even had the poster on my wall before seeing the film. Although it was amongst many film posters as I used to go to the local video shop and ask for any posters they were done with.

Not only is it my favourite film but Natalie Portman is my favourite actress too. Not from this film alone of course but at the time, I was 11, I had a major crush on her (still do to this day, but adult Natalie obviously not the Natalie in Leon). So I followed her career. As the years went by she just got better and better. Oscar winner and multiple Oscar nominee. There’s never a bad performance from Portman. Up to Annihilation I’ve seen every one of her films. Annihilation is probably my favourite film and performance from Natalie after Leon. But enough puppy dog drooling over Natalie Portman.

When I first saw Leon I just thought the character was so cool. A hitman that nobody saw or heard coming. Hidden in the shadows. Taking out multiple goons to get to his target. Even in daylight. How could an 11 year old action film fan not find that cool? I never understood any of the overarching themes. Or what was going on with Stansfield and his team. I just saw a cool hitman that got the job done without any fuss and took in an orphaned girl to exact revenge on the people responsible for killing her family. It was only on later viewings as I got older did I really see more to the film. Especially how good Gary Oldman is in it. Despite the character being slightly exaggerated as surely he would have been caught for corruption.

The relationship between Leon and Mathilda was obviously something that stood out even when I was young. It was weird to see. A grown man and 12 year old girl who had fallen for said grown man. But it was only later when I was older I realised the relationship wasn’t as it seemed. Leon surrenders all emotional power to Mathilda. He doesn’t encourage it or feel the same way. You can see his discomfort at times when Mathilda is taking on the adult role and speaking of love. It appears she is the adult in a kids body and Leon is a kid in an adults body. While it can be uncomfortable on the surface I don’t think there’s anything sinister in Leon’s intention or the films.

I don’t think any film will ever top this for me. It has such a cool style, a heavy action film mixed with semi-Euro noir. The soundtrack also fits the film perfectly. It’s weird to describe it like this but the film has a relaxing air about it at times. The scenes when Leon and Mathilda are talking about targets, gun cleaning, movies, or walking between apartments have that Euro-noir feel to them. The action scenes don’t disappoint though, they are balls to the wall loud and very cool. It’s a film I regularly revisit (like most of my fave films) and there’s still things I pick up on that I hadn’t before. Now I’ve written this I’m in the mood to watch it again today.

Movies

Heaven on Elm Street

Nightmare on Elm Street is my favourite horror series. It’s also the first horror film I ever watched. As with most films I was too young to see I snuck in to the living room when everybody else was in bed and stuck on the latest film my brother bought or rented.

Most of the time it was action films starring Sly, Arnie or JCVD, who I still love to this day. But the very odd time there would be a horror waiting for me. Nightmare on Elm Street was the very first.

I was about 5-6 years old. Everybody was in bed fast asleep. I crept my way to the living room and turned on the tv, finger hovering over the volume down button to quickly reduce the volume. The VHS tape was already in so I hit rewind. I never bothered to look at what I was about to watch. So when the tape finished rewinding I hit play.

Instantly I knew this wasn’t the typical action film I was used to. It was creepy. There was sinister music playing whilst an unknown man created something with knives and a glove. Then the frightened woman appears as she is being chased. We can hear sheep bahhing. I instantly thought this was a bad idea and i’m going to be murdered if my parents caught me. Lucky for me they didn’t.

I don’t remember being scared. I do remember falling in love with this new genre. I also remember my granny knowing I liked scary films so she rented Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors for my cousin and I. I think I was about 8 at that time. The one thing that stuck with me on seeing Part 3 was Phillips death. When Freddy cut his muscles and used them as puppet strings to control Phillip. Dream Warriors is also my favourite of the series. I think most people would say it’s the best of the series too.

Wes Cravens New Nightmare was also a highlight in the series for me. I think it stands up well. Wes came up with a novel way to bring back Nancy and I think it worked personally. He also stated it wasn’t truly Freddy but a much more evil entity that took on his persona in real life. I wish Wes could have had more input with the remake. Although I think it’s better than what the critics said, it was still a forgettable attempt.

I do hope to see the character again. I think Freddy is the major icon in horror. There’s no way they can ignore the character for too long. He sells tickets. Even Freddy vs Jason deserved a sequel but it didn’t get it. Now the remake has happened Freddy is again in limbo. The mistake they made with the remake was hiring someone that had no love for the series and he rejected them multiple times. If you want to see Freddy succeed then hiring a fan is a must.

Movies

In Space No One Can Hear You Blog About Alien

I don’t recall when I first saw Alien, I know I was young, which is strange because I’m pretty sure most people remember their first time seeing certain iconic films. This film has always just been there in my memory though. So I can’t give any real reaction or emotion in regards to my first ever viewing of this masterpiece. What I do know is that this film has continuously grown in my estimations over the years.

I do remember seeing it at various stages when I was younger. I wasn’t exactly blown away thinking this movie is the dogs bollocks but I definitely enjoyed it. But something about it had me continually returning to it. The more I watched it the more I enjoyed it. During this time Alien 3 had been released, then Alien Resurrection. Both films I enjoyed when I saw them but steadily declined the more I saw them. Which couldn’t be said for Alien, or Aliens in fact.

Alien (1979) Sigourney Weaver
Credit: 20th Century Fox/Courtesy Neal Peters Collection
Alien (1979) Sigourney Weaver Credit: 20th Century Fox/Courtesy Neal Peters Collection

As is often the case sequels rarely stand up to the original but Aliens managed to surpass the original film in a lot of peoples opinion. There are always debates whether you’re an Alien or Aliens fan. Even if you love them both there has to be a favourite. This post isn’t debating the two films either it’s just focusing on Alien as it’s the one i’d choose as my favourite of the series. I also think people lean more towards the genre they prefer. I’m a big horror fan so lean more towards Alien whereas people that prefer Aliens would lean more towards the action genre, or maybe they’re just not a horror fan so they prefer Aliens. Either way both films have a massive following and rightly so. I’m not sure i’ve ever encountered anyone that prefers 3 or Resurrection over Alien & Aliens. I’m not sure i’d want to encounter this weirdo either.

Ridley Scott directed the original and has recently returned to the series with Prometheus and Alien: Covenant. Both films I enjoyed and I think deserve repeated viewings. They definitely get better and make more sense with extra viewings. I’m delighted to see Ridley return to the series he gave birth to. I can’t wait to see what he does for the next film, and maybe another one after that. As we already know he’s building up to the reveal of the Space Jockey from the original Alien. How it came to crash on LV-426 and who was actually in the suit to begin with. Since we’ve discovered from Promtheus the Space Jockey is actually a suit in that big chair.

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I don’t really need to give a detailed breakdown of Alien. I’m sure if you’re reading this you’ll know the film even if you haven’t seen it. I’m sure most people have now seen the infamous birthing scene of the xenomorph. John Hurt’s Kane lying on his back on the table, appearing to choke, only to have blood shockingly appear on his chest and the xeno rips through to both a scared crew and audience. Once it appears it doesn’t hang around as it speedily escapes. Thus starts a gruesome, bumpy ride for the duration of the film.

There’s just an eerie quality to the film. It’s nicely paced. The tension is slowly built up. We see the crew comfortable around each other, played brilliantly by the cast. They have their hierarchy which causes conflict at times in mundane ways such as Parker and Brett being concerned about their pay/bonuses. The xenomorph and facehugger design, thanks to HR Giger, are amazingly done. The film could have been ruined with an embarrassingly bad design for the creature but they pulled it off. It’s creepy and menacing with the added genius of having acid for blood leaving the crew very few options for killing it.

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I recently finished reading Alien Vault by Ian Nathan, a former editor of Empire magazine. This book is amazingly done and very detailed behind the scenes of the making of Alien. I found out things I didn’t already know. Something I love to do is read the trivia on IMDB about any film I watch. When it comes to films I love i’ll buy things like this book to enhance the movie and my knowledge of it. It’s an expensive book at £30 but to me it’s worth the price as you get so many extras like photos, storyboards and schematics of the Nostromo. It also comes with a slipcase to protect the hardcover book. No this post isn’t sponsored by this product. I just thought i’d mention it as I recently finished it and was quite impressed. It also gave me the push to finally write this blog post about the film.

I’ll probably say this numerous times on my blog but this is a film I return to regularly. I’ll watch it anywhere between 10-20 times a year. That may seem a lot but that’s pretty normal for me. I do this with quite a few films I love. Which i’ll hopefully get to talk about individually on this blog.

Movies

Growing up with The Lost Boys

I remember the first time I saw this classic film. I was only 7 years old. My sister and I were being babysat by a friend of the family. The setting was the upstairs of a pub (it’s where my uncle worked). Our babysitter went to the local video rental shop a few doors up and came back with The Lost Boys. My sister and I never had a choice in the film. We just sat and watched. I fell in love with the film instantly.

I know I was quite young to be watching a film like this at just 7, maybe irresponsible of the babysitter, but I was already a veteran of horror films by then it didn’t faze me. My brother who is 8 years my senior, would always rent films and I would sneak down to the living room when everyone was in bed and watch them with the volume down low. I was 5 when I saw my first horror film, but I’ll discuss that in another post.

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There were a couple of parts that stayed with me for a while after that first viewing. I don’t think I saw the film again for another few years, maybe 4-5 years later again, but I’ve watched it consistently since. The first part that instantly grabbed my attention was the bonfire scene when we first see the characters turn in to vampires. One of the unlucky victims gets scalped; it’s quite graphic, although the shot is very short. Another scene that stuck with me was the scene with the guy and the girl in the car. They hear scrapes on the roof and the roof gets ripped off whilst the victims get carried off in to the sky. I always remembered those scenes. I think this was probably the first modern vampire film I’d ever seen at that stage. I’d seen things like Dracula and Monster Squad but the vampires in those were the classic image of Dracula. The Lost Boys modernised and made vampires scary again.

The music in this movie has an 80’s vibe to it, obviously being shot in the 80’s, but it isn’t dated. Some films have extremely dated soundtracks but The Lost Boys soundtrack still sounds really good today. Especially the main song Cry Little Sister, I love that song. I know I sound like a broken record (pardon the pun) by talking about soundtracks in most of my posts but to me they are an instrumental part of making a game or film work. A good soundtrack can boost a films standing with an audience, I’m convinced of that.

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I recently watched The Lost Boys again, a couple of days ago from this post going up, and it still holds up to this day. 30 years ago this year (2017) it was released. A 30 year old film that still holds up as well today as it did back then, that instantly makes it a classic in my book.  It’s a shame we never got to see the intended sequel The Lost Girls. David (Kiefer Sutherland) was supposed to survive and regroup with some female vampires and that would have been the basis for the sequel. Unfortunately that never came to fruition and we ended up getting the straight to video sequels Lost Boys: The Tribe & Lost Boys: The Thirst. Corey Feldman starred in both films, which I’ve yet to see, but apparently they aren’t that great. I’m not sure any sequel could have lived up to the original. It was one of those lightning in a bottle films. The stars, music, setting, script, director and iconic scenes all came together to make a hit out of a seemingly ordinary film. Everything about it just works.

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Gaming

Gaming Nemesis

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As gamers we’ve all played the hero countless times and defeated many enemies. We’ve gone on adventures to rescue a princess or to save a kingdom. But there’s always one nemesis that the hero has trouble defeating. No matter how many times he gets hit the enemy just laughs in our face. The enemy i’m talking about is that game we struggled to beat back in the day.

We’ve all got that game from childhood which frustrated us to the point of violence and destruction. It followed us into adulthood cruelly taunting us. That game for you may be something another person finds simple and easily beatable but for you it just mocks you with hateful derision. When someone else finds that game easily beatable, well that just makes you feel fine and dandy inside doesn’t it? No! It’s just another form of ridicule the game thrusts upon you.

There’s no escaping the mockery. Everywhere you turn you see this game. Even in the #52GameChallenge, where you thought it would be fun to partake, pokes fun at your failures. Each completed screen is another knife to the heart. Maybe now is the time to show that game you aren’t scared anymore. You won’t run at the first hint of death. You’ll stand your ground until that game is beaten.

Fear

That game for me is Fortress of Fear on the original Game Boy. Many sleepless nights were spent with this game as a child. I just couldn’t get past the third level never mind fail at the end. A while back myself and two friends were talking about the game and all three of us tried to beat it and better the others high score. Needless to say I was the only one who couldn’t defeat it. The other two completed it within a couple of days. After weeks of failed attempts the game was quickly torn from my Game Boy and sent sprawling across the room. Luckily my adult self never resorted to the head butts my Game Boy received back in the day, but I was very close on a number of occasions. I haven’t touched it since. I’m getting the itch to try again and finally get the monkey off my back.

What’s your gaming nemesis and do you have the courage to challenge it one final time?

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