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.

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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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Gaming

Thoughts on Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture

I first heard about Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture (which i’ll shorten to Rapture from here on out) from two friends discussing this new game which is set during the apocalypse and has the player exploring an English village in the 1980’s. I was instantly intrigued. I must point out that this isn’t a review, it’s just my views and experience with the game.

So I set about doing some research on this game and discovered it would be released within a week of my friends mentioning it. A week passed by and I purchased the game from the PSN store. I waited impatiently for it to install and once it completed the install I fired it up. To say I was disappointed would be an understatement. I paid £15.99 for this game and admittedly only played for about an hour maybe an hour and a half and couldn’t have been more annoyed. I turned my PS4 off in disgust.

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Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture™
The game was beautiful I admit. But I had no clue what exactly it was I was supposed to do. There was no set path to follow, something I usually prefer to have in a game. The light which floats around the village is supposed to show you the way but it felt like it was taking me away from an area I wanted to explore. The fear of missing out on part of the story also led to me ignoring the orb of light at the start. So I gave up and turned it off.

A couple of weeks later I was trying to decide what game to play and didn’t really have anything in particular I wanted to play. I decided to give Rapture another go since it cost me £15.99 and I knew myself I hadn’t really given it the time it deserved on my first play. Boy am I glad I did.

I got to grips with what I was supposed to do instantly. I explored the various areas the orb of light wanted me to and I felt I explored more that it didn’t lead me to. But even on my first complete play through I had still missed parts of the story. Now it doesn’t affect how the game plays or the ending but you do get a much deeper understanding of the characters with each play through. Once you discover the little areas you missed first time around you’ll discover more of the backstory behind each character.

Everybody's Gone To The Rapture™_20150808001638
Everybody’s Gone To The Rapture™
I’m getting ahead of myself by talking about extra play throughs. I’m so glad I gave this game another chance. So many times if a game hasn’t clicked with me i’ll just give up and never play it again. Although that’s usually with digital only games such as Rapture. I usually persevere with a physical release. Don’t ask me why. That’s just how my weird brain works. But back to my point, without giving this game another chance I never would have experienced how much of a masterpiece it is. I loved every minute of it. I even started a new game upon my first completion. Now I knew what the game was about I could sit back, relax and discover the parts I missed first time around.

Many people argue that Rapture isn’t a game. It’s a “Walking Simulator”. There’s nothing to do blah blah blah. This game is an experience. There’s no better way to describe it. You get to know the characters. You feel for them and their plight. They live in a small village that’s rife with gossip like any real world village is (I know, I lived in a village for a large part of my life). The characters have every day problems they’re trying to deal with. Then out of nowhere an illness rampages through the village and people begin to disappear. This is what we have to piece together as the player.

It’s almost two years later and I still play the game regularly. The game can be completed in maybe 2-3 hours if you’re in a rush or have completed it before. But if you explore a bit and get every part of the story to piece together then it can take roughly 5-6 hours. I’ve got all the trophies and the platinum. I only really do that for games I love so I can get more out of them.

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Another thing about the game is the soundtrack. Jessica Curry composed an absolute masterpiece for this game. Each character and their section of the game has a certain style of music, be it uplifting, tragic, heartfelt. The game wouldn’t be the same without this soundtrack. It has easily placed itself among my favorite albums. It is an emotional roller coaster that draws various emotions from the player depending on the story they’re currently exploring which at times feels like an extension of each character. Jessica Curry also won a BAFTA Games Award for Music for her amazing soundtrack and I couldn’t have been happier when her name was called out. It would have been a travesty had Jessica not walked away with the gong. 

I’m not really sure how you’d categorise this post. It’s certainly not a review. More of a love letter to this masterpiece (I realise i’ve used this word quite a bit but it’s a perfect description for Rapture) which came from the minds at The Chinese Room. A studio created by Jessica Curry and her husband Dan Pinchbeck. They’ve released other games such as Dear Esther and Amnesia: A Machine for Pigs. The studio is currently hard at work on their next title So Let Us Melt and I for one can’t wait to experience their new game.

I’ve rambled on long enough, I could go on, but I will leave you with this one request, please give this game a chance. It’s not a long game by any means. Once you get to grips with it and understand what it’s about you will definitely not be disappointed. Along with the soundtrack this game has catapulted itself up to the top of my favourites list. I’ll never stop returning to the sleepy village of Yaughton. Every time I go back it feels like i’m reliving memories of old friends. What more could you ask for from a game.

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