Category Archives: site of interest

The Last Stand 2


Around a year ago I posted a link to a fantastic and free online flash game called The Last Stand – http://www.thoseweleftbehind.co.uk/2008/02/last-stand.html

Well, there is a sequel to that shooter, and it is;

http://www.zombiegames.net/games/The-Last-Stand-2.html

and it is as addictive as the first game.

Can also be found here;

http://www.freeonlinegames.com

VHS! VHS! VHS! (primarily 1980s)

Men of a certain age (and women too!) will feel a certain sense of pride / nostalgia / warmth upon seeing pictures of VHS video art, and even more of a feeling of general well-to-do if they are shown pictures or even video of the films the covers were advertising.

Welcome to the death-throes of true exploitation cinema – the video age! Where else, but in the comfort of your own home, were you going to get a chance to see anything like this when you were 13?

The internet can feel like a massive brain dump for those who caught on to the technologies potential as a huge repository for lost youth. But hey, who cares when I can look at old video covers!

So the reason for this post is to specifically pay tribute to those sites who cherish the appalling or brilliant Video cover art of the past. Some of these sites even do reviews of the generally low-budget, usually poor quality films. Some of these sites even have video clips of the films. Please give them a look and you will be rewarded with nothing more than a lot of fluff, but its good to turn your brain off every now and again and just wallow in the sheer pointlessness of it all.

The covers used to illustrate this blog all came from the marvellous http://www.coverbrowser.com (they do comic covers as well!)

Links!!

http://grindhousefilms.blogspot.com – lots of exploitation goodness – reviews, clips, artwork etc

http://soundtracks.cinema-suicide.com/ – a bit off message, but this site details all the soundtrack news from obscure and cult films and is very, very nice to look at.


http://scandyfactory.blogspot.com/
Not for kids! But well worth a look if you don’t mind nudity.


http://critcononline.com/video_companies_cover_art.htm
Originally a paper based fanzine, the site is great, if a bit pre-Y2K in the design of it and it has some quite disturbing (and pointless) scrolling going on.

http://blondezombies.blogspot.com/ – a few covers, some nudity, but for all round fantastic visuals with little rhyme or reason other than it looks good, then this is unbeatable. Trashy, arty, unclean fun (it is in Spanish, but it really isn’t prohibiitve to the fun the site offers if you cannot speak the language).

Resident Evil – Degeneration (Update) (2008)

The trailer has been out for a while now, but just in case you have missed it…….looks amazing doesn’t it? Seems as if it is heading stright for DVD in North America (theatrical release in Japan), so Europe will probably get a DVD release some time in the future (probably in 2009?).

More news on the movie;

http://uk.dvd.ign.com/articles/893/893044p1.html

http://www.shocktillyoudrop.com/news/comicconnews.php?id=7215

http://www.sonypictures.com/homevideo/residentevildegeneration/

Wonder Woman by William Dozier!! (1967)

William Dozier, the producer AND narrator of the exemplary 1960s TV show ‘Batman’, seemingly had his sights set on nothing less than the complete DC universe filtered through his unique camp lens. Here is the short test reel for a planned TV adaptation (very much in the style of the ‘Batman’ series) of ‘Wonder Woman’;

Sadly, the plan never got farther than that test reel. For more in depth articles on this abortive TV series, check out these links;

http://www.tvobscurities.com/articles/wonder_woman.php

http://www.popcultureaddict.com/television/wonderwomanpilot.htm

http://uk.comics.ign.com/articles/599/599207p1.html

Post Apocalypse VII – The list (link)

Following on from the rather splendid photos of ‘The Road’ that have become available recently, is an exhaustive list of apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction on Wikipedia – it is well worth a look, and gives me an excuse to put the poster of ‘La Jetee’ at the top of this post, for no better reason than it looks good and is included in the list;


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_apocalyptic_and_post-apocalyptic_fiction

The horror of……Noseybonk (from Jigsaw)(1980s)

A few years on from the horror of eucalypta the witch from Paulus (see http://www.thoseweleftbehind.co.uk/2008/01/paulus-woodgnome-horror-of-eucalypta.html)came a new dimension of terror. Hidden away in the innocuous looking children’s educational TV show ‘Jigsaw’. lurked a terrifying figure – ‘Noseybonk’. This creature, part droog, part bogeyman, part meddling buffoon (though the meddling buffoon aspect could be taken as a subversive, malicious series of acts) never spoke which just made him more SCARY. The mute monstrosity has recently resurfaced on youtube – DON’T LOOK KIDS!!!

SharKade (1972 – 1978)

The film Jaws has a nice little sequence where we see someone playing the arcade game Killer Shark – its one of the early arcade games (produced by Sega) and (obviously-duh) pre-dates the film. For a great clip of this scene, click here

Anyway, great game and all that – I remember playing it at the Drayton Manor Park arcade in the mid 1970s – probably my first arcade experience. I recall that the gun trigger was hard and there was a sort of snapping when you fired off a shot. The wriggling of the shark (and the stream of blood) when you hit it was disturbing and exhilarating – a game where you see your victim in its death throes! There is plenty written about this game – see the links at the end of this post.

There were a few other games out once the film Jaws was released, obviously capitalising on the Shark craze;

Shark Jaws (Horror Games (aka Atari) 1975)

Claimed to be the first video game adaptation (for that article by Ian Bogost here), this was early Atari, capitalising on the success of Jaws, but when Universal nixed their license to make a game of the film, they went ahead and made a game anyway. They even created a dummy company called ‘Horror Games’ just so the Atari brand wouldn’t be associated with any quick n’ dirty cash-in. Best of all was the marquee that sat at the top of the arcade cabinet, with the game advertised as Shark (small letters) JAWS (big letters);

cheeky….

Some guy writing at Everything2.com claims there are only 3 of these complete arcade cabinets left in existence, and only one of them works. Not that it would be worth tracking down, as the game is of its time – simplistic, repetitive, monochrome and graphically basic (the screenshot of the game tells you all you need to know).

Maneater (Project Support Engineering 1975)

The magnificently titled Project Support Engineering (that’s not a company, it’s a department!) produced this wonderful cabinet, and even produced a game to go inside it (though the game is irrelevant in comparison to the grandeur of this);

The game looked like Shark Jaws and Shark (ie BASIC) and the premise and objective were to control a diver who was collecting gold from the sea baed, and get him back to his boat and avoid the sharks (who were maneaters, of course). Here is a screenshot of the game that I found on KLOV;


Shark (US Billiards 1975)

Turning the whole shark craze on its head, this Arcade effort puts you in as the shark, trying to avoid nets and traps as you attempt to get to the swimmer before they reach the shore(!). It’s another one that isn’t available on emulation (like Shark Jaws), and again it is simplistic gameplay with basic graphics (see below) and probably wouldn’t keep the average gamers attention for more than a minute today.

Blue Shark (Bally Midway 1978)

Like the forerunner of these games, Killer Shark, Blue Shark had a gun mounted arcade cabinet and it was another plain and simple shooting game. Get the shark with your gun, but don’t hit the humans who are diving around them. You also get to kill numerous other aquatic life (octopus etc) for no particular reason, which is all well and good when you are hang around arcades as a kid in the Seventies, but you probably couldn’t get away with it now, as it would, I expect, be classed as a game that encourages the destruction of the Environment and sentient beings. Nowadays you get games where you get to kill real looking people or ‘real’ looking zombies or the perennial aliens instead. The game is fairly basic (but less so than the others discussed so far), but with more graphical subtlety and involved gameplay.

There was also Shark Attack, released in 1981 by GPi (Game Plan inc), that had you playing the shark (just like the earlier game by US Billiards, Shark) and you had to eat the arcade sharks favourite snack – the diver. This time though, the diver can strike back as some of them have harpoon guns! Also, this game was in colour! However, on my emulation of Shark Attack, it is dated as 1980, and made by Pacific Novelty. Game Plan must have distributed it. Here is a screenshot of it;

LINKS!!!

Killer Shark

http://bavatuesdays.com/killer-shark-1972/ – the best blog I have come across in a while. Nice entry on Killer Shark.

http://www.yourprops.com/view_item.php?movie_prop=14799 – Killer Shark cabinet photos and screenshot.

http://www.daemonkeep.com/killershark.html – At DaemonKeep games, they have a repro of the game for download;

http://marvin3m.com/arcade/shark.htm – Cabinet shots, flyer info, a look at the innards of the cabinet…

http://www.pingeek.com/killer/killer.htm – If you want the schematics of Killer Shark, this is the place for you.

KLOV has a basic entry for Killer Shark, nothing more.

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Maneater

http://www.i-mockery.com/minimocks/50arcadecabinets/arcade3.php – i-mockery lists the 50 greatest Arcade cabinets, with Maneater listed very near the top.

http://www.klov.com/game_detail.php?game_id=8611 – KLOV entry

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Shark Jaws

http://www.arcadeflyers.com/?page=thumbs&db=videodb&id=979 – Shark Jaws flyers

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shark_Jaws Wiki entry for Shark Jaws


http://www.retroland.com/pages/retropedia/arcade/item/1403/
– RetroLand entry for Shark Jaws

http://www.armchairarcade.com/aamain/print.php?article.103 – A History of the early years of Atari has information on Shark Jaws


http://www.arcade-history.com/?n=shark-jaws&page=detail&id=3395
– ArcadeHistory entry for the game.

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Shark

http://www.klov.com/game_detail.php?game_id=9507
– KLOV entry for Shark

http://www.arcadeflyers.com/?page=thumbs&db=videodb&id=2611 – Shark flyer

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Blue Shark


http://www.arcadeflyers.com/?page=thumbs&db=videodb&id=139
– Blue Shark arcade flyer


http://www.arcadeflyers.com/?page=thumbs&db=videodb&id=139
– International Arcade Museum entry for Blue Shark by Midway

http://www.coinop.org/g.aspx/100549/Blue_Shark.html – Blue Shark entry at coinop.org

http://www.arcade-history.com/?n=blue-shark&page=detail&id=298 – Entry at ArcadeHistory

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Shark Attack

http://www.klov.com/game_detail.php?game_id=9508 – KLOV entry for Shark Attack

http://www.arcadeflyers.com/?page=thumbs&db=videodb&id=1737 – Arcade flyer for Shark Attack

http://arcadeflyers.com/?page=flyer&db=videodb&id=1762&image=2 – More arcade flyer action for Shark Attack

LM Magazine – the proto Lads Lifestyle Magazine (1986 – 1987)

Newsfield publications, following on from the success of the Spectrum gaming magazine Crash, and its sister magazine Zzap!64 (for the Commodore 64), released a further 2 publications in 1985 and 1986. The first was an Amstrad CPC464 magazine (Amtix) and then in ’86 there was LM. The initials had multiple meanings (either ‘Lifestyle Magazine’, ‘Lively Magazine’ or ‘Lloyd Mangram’, the fictional Newsfield journo), but its agenda was simple. LM was to be a mens lifestyle magazine, pre-dating the likes of ‘Loaded’ by several years.

From the initial issue onwards (issue 0 – given away free with other Newsfield publications like Crash and Zzap!64) the articles were diverse and generally well written. LM covered amongst many other topics on David Bowie, Frank Millers reboot of Batman as ‘The Dark Knight, personal stereos, The Fall, joysticks, Martial Arts weapons, graffitti artists, Ian Rush, a review of Back To The Future on video and much more.

Following issue 0 was the full launch, but LM only lasted from issue 1 (released Jan 1987) through til 4. Here are the reasons why it failed;

In 1986 designs were made to expand into areas outside the computing world and with Newsfield’s background knowledge of the teenage market the decision was taken to launch into the male teenage market area with a lifestyle magazine. LM was launched in December 1986 and was the largest project Newsfield had ever tackled. LM required a London Office and a total of seven editorial staff. A dummy issue was produced and coverbound onto Crash and Zzap! prior to the launch to create market awareness and a TV commercial produced and run in selected regional areas. While LM generated instant street cred and attracted a core of die-hard fans through the UK, initial circulation turned out to be disappointing but nonetheless with an upward trend. Advertisement income however did not match expectations and promises from some of the major national consumer advertisers and media agency account handlers, who felt that LM was not presenting the right image, certainly not the glossy and stylish look of its contemporary. With very little ad income and massive drainage of resources LM was not given the time to develop its [potential as] a cult magazine and the plug had to be pulled after issue 4.

extract of the Liquidators report on Newsfield publications, taken from http://www.crashonline.org.uk/99/newsfield.htm

They were not afraid to challenge peoples perceptions of what a Mens Lifestyle Magazine should entail – check out this interview with the group ‘Stump’ that also gives you an idea of the style of the magazine;

they also covered Kubricks ‘A Clockwork Orange’, at a time when it was still banned in Britain (and would remain so until 1997).

There was a recent sale of a complete set of LM on ebay – I got gazumped with seconds to go, but these could have been mine;

If I ever see LM on ebay again, and I win the auction, I will return with a more indepth look at the magazine. LM was a brave and bold move by Newsfield, who were maybe a few years too soon with their idea of an intelligent and diverse ‘Lads lifestyle’ magazine to really take hold. By 1994 there was Loaded, and the tone was a lot more bawdy, with more emphasis on photoshoots of women, but it was this magazine that became a publishing phenomena, and set the parameters for the ‘lads mag’ genre.

If anyone knows of an archiving / scans project for LM (or any of the other lesser known Newsfield titles) let me know please?

LINKS!!!

The wiki entry for Newsfield has a pasage on LM

Crashonline.org has the Liquidators report on the demise of Newsfield Publishing

http://www.crashonline.org.uk/36/lm.htm – from the Crash archives, an interview with the LM creative team prior to the publicaiton of issue 1.

Magforum entry for LM

Great British Comic Strips Part I – ‘The House of Daemon’ (Eagle, 1982-83)

Following on from my ‘Tower King’ article, we go back again to the early days of the relaunched Eagle comic, and after the conclusion of ‘The Tower King‘, the following weeks issue saw the arrival of another illustrated strip, again rendered by Spanish artist Jose Oritz. Entitled ‘The House of Daemon’, it was written by 2000AD stalwarts John Wagner & Alan Grant (best known for Judge Dredd). Running for 5 months from issue no.25 (September 11, 1982) to issue no.47 (February 12, 1983), this was a creepy and bizarre horror tale, one of the best Eagle produced.

The story of a dream house that becomes possessed by an evil spirit, its nightmarish and dreamlike qualities were vividly brought to life by Oritz, a gifted artist who really could depict evil very well. The evil spirit (the ‘Daemon’ of the title) traps the architect who designed the house (Elliot Aldrich) and his wife (Cassandra – who the house was built for) and they are left at the mercy of his demented plans. As ‘Daemon’ has the ability to transfer the rooms in the house into his own evil creations, the strip takes off an all sorts of tangents. For example, the kitchen became a recreation of the Vietnam conflict, with the punishing environment being labelled ‘Hells Kitchen’ by the GIs fighting within it. Their enemy are labelled ‘The Gimps’, a creation of Daemon. They are seen in the page scan below carrying a door across ‘Hells Kitchen’;

All sorts of horrors awaited those trapped in the house, and death lurked around every corner as the dimensions of the rooms bent to the will of ‘daemon’ to become wide open spaces or dark, tiny & claustrophobic areas, all filled with terror, such as these huge caterpillar-type creatures ;

Over the course of the story, Cassandra, the architects wife and one of the main recipients of the malevolent Daemons’ evil, was revealed to have psychic powers. This empowered the embattled prisoners of Daemon, enabling them to fight back, by overcoming their fear of the environments Daemon created, showing them up for the mind-altering games that they were.

Eventually Daemon is revealed as a powerful dark sorcerer from the 26th century. He is, in that future, effectively imprisoned in the ‘House of Daemon’ by 3 wizards from that same future, who combine their powers to keep him incarcerated. This all becomes apparent when Cassandra locates the 3 wizards in the lounge, part of which is a ‘sanctuary’ for them, protected from Daemons evil.

Daemon, despite his jailing, has managed to go back 500 years and his evil intent is to torture and imprison those in his future jail. At the stories conclusion, they
track down Daemon to the attic, where a surprise awaits them – those thought killed by Daemon are actually alive, all part of Daemons mind games and reality altering powers. The physical form of Daemon is poisoned by Cassandra, and the modern day prisoners of his evil plans manage to escape. finally, Elliot Aldrich and his building firm proceed to surround the house with high brick walls, to keep unwitting visitors away, and to isolate Daemon until reality and time catches up with him in the 26th Century.

As if inspired by this strip, Grant & Wagner went on to create another dwelling-based Horror strip within a year when ‘The Thirteenth Floor‘ debuted in ‘Scream‘, and fittingly, ended up at Eagle when the former title merged with the latter. It went on to become another of Eagles most popular strips.

I remember ‘House of Daemon’ being, like The Tower King, a great read and better than a lot of the stuff that 2000AD was publishing at the time. ‘House of Daemon’ would have been a great addition to ‘Scream’ comic as well, but as it is it rankls amongst the very best that Eagle offered. Also, like ‘The Tower King’, I do not believe this has been reprinted. I think its time someone put these 2 titles together in some sort of trade paperback. They’d have my business for sure.

Links!!

Wiki entry

Brief forum discussion on this strip and ‘The Tower King’