Friday, October 31, 2014

Yet another thirteen of my favorite horror films (fourth part)

It's October. Time to talk horror. I'll focus on horror-related posts until Halloween comes and goes.  

And so it's Halloween.

I've already given you thirty-nine of my favorite horror films and here are thirteen more. I had fun shifting over to horror this month (I plan to do it again next year), but I look forward to getting back to this blog's usual topic: science fiction. William Gibson's got a new novel out and so far it's pretty awesome. And don't forget Interstellar releases in a little over a week. Hopefully I can scrounge up thirteen more horror films for next year, but for now, this is the last one.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Another thirteen of my favorite horror films (this is part three)

See, I knew I was forgetting a bunch of horror films when I wrote the other two lists. After a few days to think about it, here are some more of my favorites. I'm sure there will be a fourth list, too. In fact, I've already started it.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Thirteen more of my favorite horror films

It's October. Time to talk horror. I'll focus on horror-related posts until Halloween comes and goes.  

Here are thirteen more of my favorite horror movies to complete yesterday's post. By the time this posts I should be deep into Civilization Beyond Earth. Which makes me wonder why you're reading this crap instead of playing that crap. (In case you're wondering, there will eventually be a third list of thirteen, so don't give me shit for not having Mario Bava or some such director on here yet.)

In no particular order....

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Thirteen of my favorite horror films

It's October. Time to talk horror. I'll focus on horror-related posts until Halloween comes and goes. 

Okay, I'm phoning this one in. Civilization Beyond Earth comes out in about ten hours and I know this blog will likely suffer. Here's a bullshit list that doesn't mean anything. I know, lists suck.

If there's a remake by the same title, I'll use the director's name to differentiate between titles. Also, none of this is in any particular order other than Dawn of the Dead, which just happens to be first.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

ABCs of Death 2 is now on-demand

It's October. Time to talk horror. I'll focus on horror-related posts until Halloween comes and goes.

If you read my post about the original ABCs of Death, you'll know A) I'm a sucker for anthology films and B) whether or not the movie will be up your alley. Just to be clear: if you've ever been morally offended by any movie ever, you will not like these films. In summary, the original ABCs of Death was certainly sick and twisted, not to mention a helluva ride.

The sequel is almost as twisted, but there just isn't as much momentum. I think most of the films in the sequel look better than the films in the previous collection, but I just didn't laugh as much. Then again, that's probably a problem for horror sequels in general: you just can't be as fresh as you were the first time. There are some bits here that are wonderfully out of control (I will never forget the awesome insanity of the last film no matter how long I live) and the special effects are usually a lot better, but I think the first collection had far more memorable shorts. Dogfight, the masturbation contest, Fart,  the claymation stuff... I really do remember more from the first film even though I just saw the newer film last night.

That's the thing, though. If you liked the first one, it's only a little better than this one. It's probably safe to say this one is worth the $12.

* * *

Fangoria's Blood & Guts is back... sort of. Now it's called Scott Ian's Bloodworks, but it's just as good as it's ever been. I love Scott Ian's gleeful passion for cinematic gore. Here's the first episode of the return, but be sure to check out the newer episode, too.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Horns is available on-demand before it hits theaters

It's October. Time to talk horror. I'll focus on horror-related posts until Halloween comes and goes.

A movie adaptation shouldn't be judged by the quality of its source material. It's impossible to avoid, though, especially when the material is so admirable. The adaptation of Joe Hill's legitimately insane Horns suffers in the typical three-act screenplay form. Whereas the novel opens with a guy who wakes up with devil horns, the film gives us a typical movie opening, putting off the horns for just a little too long. And the reason he gets the horns in the first place—the violent desecration of a memorial, if my memory serves me correctly—hardly appears in the film version at all. My girlfriend asked me, "Why does he have horns?" Then I realized the movie is a better companion to the book than a standalone feature. Maybe judging it by the book is excusable in this case.

That's the bad. The rest is quite good actually, at least when it's not trying to play it too safe. Sometimes it feels the filmmakers pussyfoot around the demonic aspects of the story, which kind of misses the point. Otherwise, there is plenty of snake-charming, plenty of startling confessions from seemingly normal people. To call this horror is misleading. Dark urban fantasy is a better label.

The plot: Ig Perrish is a twenty-something whose childhood girlfriend has been murdered. Everyone thinks he's the killer, including his parents. One day after a hard night of drinking, he wakes up to find devil horns have sprouted from his temples. The horns have an effect on people. Nobody seems to think the horns are out of the ordinary and they feel compelled to tell Ig their darkest secrets. Heather Graham's character, a waitress, confesses she's telling the cops lies because she wants to be on TV. A bartender tells Ig he wants to burn his establishment down for the insurance money and Ig tells him to do it. He does, laughing hysterically. The confessions are the funniest parts of the movie.

I'm happy to report Daniel Radcliffe doesn't suffer from the same fate as most former child actors. Whenever I look at Fred Savage or Elijah Wood, I still see them as children. But when I see Daniel Radcliff, I see an adult, which is good. He makes a good Ig Perrish. The rest of the cast is just as good. I particularly liked Juno Temple (I usually do) as his girlfriend, Heather Graham, David Morse, and the casting of Ig's parents: James Remar and Kathleen Quinlan, two generally underused actors.

It's a good picture, just a little rough in spots. Also, I'm not sure it's quite worth $10.99, but I hope it does well when it hits theaters.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

What the hell happened in The Walking Dead Season 5 premiere?

It's October. Time to talk horror. I'll focus on horror-related posts until Halloween comes and goes.   


Even though I've had a few days to think it over, I'm still wondering what the hell I just saw on Sunday.

When The Walking Dead's fourth season concluded, I was psyched. (This stands in sharp contrast to the previous season finale which spent too much time building up to one of the most anti-climatic "battles" I've ever seen.) Here were the Season 4 highlights for me:
  • The blonde finally went missing (she'll be back, of course, but in the meantime we don't have to hear her stupid singing).
  • Carol didn't hesitate to shoot a little girl who totally had to go. This is much cooler when you think about all the whining Rick would have done for 3+ episodes before finally arriving at the same decision.
  • The Governor was in danger of becoming sympathetic, which I thought was unnecessary, but then he was all like, "Nah, lol, fuck you" and killed a bunch of people, further rising in the annals of TV villainy.
  • The people at Terminus turned out to be cannibals.
  • And the high point of the entire series: the introduction of Eugene Porter, a redneck scientist with a mullet and an affinity for video games. I don't know why, but I like the three new characters more than any of the existing ones. I really don't give a shit who they kill as long as they don't kill Eugene and friends.
So here's what we knew up until last Sunday: we had zombies outside Terminus. We had cannibals inside. Nearly all the surviving heroes of the series were more or less fucked. It was shaping up to be a great big mind-fuck of a suspenseful season. But that's not what we got. What we got, instead, was pure action. Don't get me wrong. It was very satisfying action (that ridiculous bit with the pathetically aimed bottle rocket notwithstanding), but I can't help but feel some potential horror was wasted here.

First of all it's a horror show, not an action movie. While I appreciate the writers' attempt to give it some urgency (let's face it, the series drags sometimes), I had blown up what I thought was going to happen in my head. I certainly didn't want to see them spend an entire season in Terminus, but I thought that, at the very least, we were going to spend a few episodes wondering, "Who are the cannibals going to eat next?" Think about the potential for terror there! I kind of figured what we got Sunday wouldn't come along until the mid-season finale.

This is all to say that my expectations fucked me. The more I think about it, the more I realize the writers probably made the right decision. If they had done what I was expecting, I probably would have been complaining it was predictable.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Netflix October pick: The ABCs of Death

It's October. Time to talk horror. I'll focus on horror-related posts until Halloween comes and goes.

In the opening scene of The ABCs of Death, you're going to see a man's hand hacked nearly in half, which is quickly followed by a facial cleansing with boiling grease. Each director has a different short film, each short film chooses a word beginning with that letter for its subject. D, as it turns out, is for "Dogfight," F is for "Fart," and I don't even remember which letter provides us with a forced masturbation contest that awards the loser impalement. Of the twenty-six stories, that one's among the most memorable, not to mention one of the most twisted.

At this point you should already know if this movie's for you or not. If it is, keep reading. If it's not, skip it. Really. Do us both a favor. One of my friends proclaimed it was too extreme for him when he suggested it for me. I didn't think I'd like it, but you know what? I really did. More so than the first two V/H/S/ films. And if you're the type who thinks it's possible for cinema to go too far, avoid it like the plague. Taboo isn't just a recurring theme here, it's all-but celebrated.

I've had a love-hate relationship with the horror anthology film ever since Creepshow's "I can hold my breath for a loooong time!" became a popular movie quote. ("I want my Father's Day cake!" was just as household in my family.) The good thing about an anthology movie: you don't have to wait as long for a payoff when far too many horror movies take their sweet little time giving you one. The bad thing about an anthology movie: at least one of the stories will be a drag, which is true even of Two Evil Eyes, the Argento/Romero mash-up which features only two stories.

At more than two hours long, ABCs of Death has a lot more than one shitty story, but overall I found it way more entertaining than Sturgeon's Law suggests: we get twenty-six stories from twenty-six directors and far less than ninety percent of it is crap. Sometimes the word the filmmakers came up with is a stretch, sometimes the story works better in theory than in execution, sometimes they just plain fucking suck. But where else are you going to see a Japanese Dr. Strangelove and something as gratuitously offensive as a plane painted on one bare tit and the World Trade Centers painted on the other?

More often than not, the stories in ABCs of Death are at the very least well-made and, at the very best, a wild ride. This is the nature of the multi-authored anthology. With the exception of Dangerous Visions, I don't remember ever liking every single story in an anthology. Usually, it all can't be good. The ABCs of Death, however, pulls it off much better than V/H/S/ did, that's for sure.

Friday, October 10, 2014

D'Amour and Pinhead finally meet in The Scarlet Gospels

It's October. Time to talk horror. I'll focus on horror-related posts until Halloween comes and goes.  

There are few things that make me feel like a kid again. Here are some of them:

  • Sword fights in books and movies. 
  • The fact I'm going to see a proper Star Wars sequel (hopefully). 
  • Crossovers. 

I love that stuff. I'm absolutely tickled by the following news, and I loathe that phrase.

Clive Barker's paranormal detective, Harry D'Amour, is going head-to-head with Pinhead in The Scarlet Gospels, a 300+ page book coming out May 15th, 2015. That's... I mean... holy shit. I know they've already met in the comics, but I wasn't really a fan. I wanted to like 'em, but sometimes cups of tea just don't belong to you no matter how much you want them to. And if you really love a cup of tea, you should let it go... fuck, I'm mixing metaphors here because I'm on about two hours of sleep.

Speaking of D'Amour, Lord of Illusions is such a weird movie. It's got 90s CGI and some other distracting creative decisions, but I can't help but love it. Daniel von Bargen makes a strangely effective bad guy and Kevin J. O'Connor was one of the faces that helped feed my lifelong fascination with character actors. The movie may not be the most convincing in the world, but straight-up horror movies about adults, for adults, are such a rare thing, especially when they're this entertaining.

More about D'Amour and Pinhead's meeting can be found here on Barker's website.

* * *

Damn it, I'm a Tom Cruise fan. I wasn't always a Tom Cruise fan. Something about his real life personality clashes with my own (I think the word I'm looking for is intense), but in the last twelve years he's starred in four science fiction movies, all of which were watchable and two of which were great.

Edge of Tomorrow is the second one I'm calling great. Hell, I liked Jack Reacher, Mission: Impossible 4, and a handful of his recent outings, too, but Edge of Tomorrow is seriously bad ass. As for big movie stars, he's the only one who was big when I was growing up who's still big now. Even Bruce Willis has slipped into the straight-to-video domain recently. I guess nowadays it's called "straight-to-on-demand," but that just doesn't have the same ring.

The movie's available for rent. You can do worse on a Friday night. For instance, I'm about to fire up Farm Simulator 2013. Don't laugh. I've always wanted to try my hand at agriculture.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Never thought I'd say this, but this Lifetime movie looks great

It's October. Time to talk horror. I'll focus on horror-related posts until Halloween comes and goes. 

On an unrelated note, I thought I'd have something to say about Alien: Isolation by now, but here's the thing: I haven't even bought it yet. Work got busy and, besides, Shadow of Mordor is way too awesome to give up right now. The way the game feels is amazing and the ability to interrogate orcs in order to reveal who their commanders are is something I've never seen before.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Novels to read this month

It's October. Time to talk horror. I'll focus on horror-related posts until Halloween comes and goes.

Right now I'm reading Blindsight, which is hard science fiction with a vampire and a handful of horrorible moments. Blindsight is one of those novels that don't come around often, something along the lines of Snow Crash and Pandora's Star in terms of balancing balls-to-the-wall entertainment with hard science fiction. I'm trying my hardest to savor the hell out of it. Each time a chunk of the puzzle is revealed, I go back and reread the first few chapters to see how it all ties together. I always notice something I didn't notice the first time. Some may say it's silly to have a main character who essentially lacks the ability to feel empathy, but they're wrong. I feel a warm connection with Siri Keeton and I don't think that says more about me than Siri himself and how Peter Watts has written him. You simultaneously pity him as well as envy his unique position among his fellow humans. He's a lot more human than he lets on.

Peter Watts on writing SF

And the novel's terrifying. Strictly speaking, it's undeniably science fiction, but it's the kind that unsettles you and everything you believe (in other words: the best kind). Watts has said he doesn't really believe the argument the book makes, but it's the kind of argument that's as plausible as it is mind-fucking. And it's fresh, so fresh. Without giving too much away, Blindsight supposes humans really are special little snowflakes in the grand scheme of things, but perhaps that's not a good thing. When the book was initially released, the publisher didn't give it the marketing it should have had (according to Watts) so Watts released it for free, which boosted sales after all was said and done. You can check out the free version here. The sequel just came out, too.

Another book that's in the "technically SF, but also horror" category is Greg Bear's Hull Zero Three. Although I found it to be disappointing, it's probably easier to swallow than Blindsight if you're not an SF junky. Come to think of it, Bear's Blood Music was pretty terrifying as well and it might be his best book. While we're on the subject of horror written by science fiction writers, FEAR by L. Ron Hubbard (yes, that Hubbard) is worth any price you can get, and Donovan's Brain by Curt Siodmak was a lot more influential on both science fiction and horror than most people realize. FEAR and Donovan's Brain are easy reads, the kind of stuff you can read in one day.

The older I get, the more I like Stephen King. There was a time I was annoyed his name was forever connected with horror (and repeatedly mentioned), but let's face it: he's earned it. I think my favorite thing about King is the fact he's rich as hell, but hasn't lost an ounce of the everyday charm that fuels his stories. The guy has pumped out so much stuff it's hard to assign just one as "my favorite," but as far as pure enjoyment goes, Misery is probably number one for me. In terms of legitimate scares, however, The Shining takes the cake. I don't know what it is about that one in particular, but I love it.

It's not often I love each book in a trilogy equally, but Thomas Harris's Hannibal Lector series kick all kinds of ass. Those who have only seen Hannibal the movie may wonder what it's doing on this list, but the book is waaaaaaaaaaaaaay better. The ending is much better than the film version and overall it's a worthy conclusion to Red Dragon and Silence of the Lambs. Clarice's final destination may have been too sick for Hollywood to film, but it's the ending we all deserved.

Joe Hill is, hands down, my favorite newish writer (I know he's been around for a while, but it seems like yesterday when his first novel hit the stands). As for novels, he's three and three with Heart-Shaped Box, Horns, and NOS4A2, the latter of which I have thought about every single day since finishing it. The Gas Mask Man (Bing, Bing, you terrible thing) got into my head. I can't wait to see what's next.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Some of my favorite short horror stories

It's October. Time to talk horror. I'll focus on horror-related posts until Halloween comes and goes.

I haven't read much H.P. Lovecraft since I was a teenager, but he's the natural progression from Edgar Allan Poe. Lovecraft's influence on pop culture is undeniable. Direct movie adaptations include The Re-Animator, The Dunwich Horror, In the Mouth of Madness, and about thirty others. It seems every other board game these days is either about Cthulhu or has a Cthulhu expansion. You can find a complete list of his writings at The H.P. Lovecraft Archive.

A review posted on Dreadit reminded me of Robert "Psycho" Bloch's Yours Truly, Jack the Ripper. Bloch's fascination with Jack the Ripper continues in A Toy for Juliette, which was a story in Dangerous Visions. Oddly, Harlan Ellison wrote a sequel to Juliette called The Prowler in the City at the edge of the World, which is nothing if not insane and graphic. It's also included in Dangerous Visions, which is still the greatest anthology ever published if you ask me.

Speaking of Ellison, I doubt anyone reading this blog hasn't already read I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream, but why not read it again? I can think of few scarier stories.

A story I couldn't live without is Who Goes There? by science fiction legend John W. Campbell Jr., which served as the basis for The Thing from Another World and John Carpenter's The Thing.

Among my favorite horror anthologies is probably Clive Barker's The Books of Blood. I just couldn't believe what I was reading when I got to In the Hills, the Cities. That anybody would come up with that, then have the balls to publish it with a straight face, made me feel inadequate as a writer. That one in particular has stuck with me.

From Richard Matheson, who wrote I am Legend and Hell House, Prey is another short story I read a million years ago which has somehow stuck to my usually nonstick brain. Chucky has nothing on this fucked-up little doll.

That's all for now. I'll try to post some more recommendations next week.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Every horror movie on TV this October

It's October. Time to talk horror. I'll focus on horror-related posts until Halloween comes and goes.

Now this is something. The Atlantic has posted a schedule of every horror movie that's playing on TV this month. Makes me wish I still had cable.

Here's an excerpt of what's playing today, though I'm not entirely convinced some of these qualify as horror:

9:00 a.m. Stephen King’s Rose Red, SYFY
10:45 a.m. The Children, IFC
12:30 p.m. The Eye, IFC
3:00 p.m. Psychosis, SYFY
3:00 p.m. The Thaw, Chiller
5:00 p.m. Death and Cremation, Chiller
5:25 p.m. The Witches, HBO Family
6:20 p.m. Warm Bodies, HBO Zone
7:00 p.m. Shutter, SYFY
7:00 p.m. Hush, Chiller
9:00 p.m. American Psycho, Chiller
11:00 p.m. My Soul to Take, SYFY

* * *

Don't forget that Alien: Isolation is coming out tomorrow and The Evil Within is one week away. 

Friday, October 3, 2014

The Forest is a great "little" horror game

It's October. Time to talk horror. I'll focus on horror-related posts until Halloween comes and goes.

The Forest is one of those games I hadn't heard much about, but the user reviews were mostly positive and, at $14.99 (Early Access price), it just felt right. I purchased it, downloaded it, fucked around with life for a few hours, and finally got back to find a jewel of a game sitting on my hard drive. It's a bit glitchy at the moment, so stay away if that sort of thing bothers you. I also debated whether or not I should write about the game in its current state here because the less you know, the funner it is. Feel free to stop reading as soon as you feel like I'm giving too much away.

a mostly spoiler-free trailer

First of all, it's single-player only, which makes it a different experience from Rust even though it also drops you into the wilderness where you'll have to gather, hunt, and survive by any means necessary. When the game opens, I'm riding in a passenger jet that predictably hits turbulence and crashes. After I wake up in the wreckage, I begin snatching everything in sight, from a metal axe to soft drinks and snacks. When I'm outside the plane, considering my next move, they show up. The others. The mutants.

They're not so mutant I can't recognize them as being human for the most part, but they act more like animals than anything. The AI here... well, if this is just the first draft of what the developers have in mind, then we're really in for a treat. In the beginning—and this is a good time to quit reading if you want to go into it fresh—the mutants cautiously approach you. The first time I ran into them I ran fast and far, until my character finally had to slow down to eat and rest. The next time I ran into them was when I was trying to complete my first shelter. This time I held my ground.

During the day, the mutants have a tendency to sneak up on you, but they generally keep their distance. They'll get closer to you if you have your back turned, but they'll back off as soon as you turn around. Some are more aggressive than others, but you begin to think they aren't a threat and start pushing back, shouting at your monitor the way you'd shoo a racoon. Sometimes they'll take a swipe at you, but hey, no big deal, right? You've got an axe. All they have, at least as far as you know, is their hands. You, too, begin to act territorial: This is my land. Fuck on off right outta here, pal.

There's danger in trying to beat an animal at its own game. Sometimes it's fatal.

One night, one of the mutants took a swipe at me while I was collecting the contents of suitcases strewn across the beach. This damaged my health so, without really thinking about it, I retaliated by chopping her into a bunch of a small pieces. Kill or be killed, right? Well, I go right back to collecting supplies and when I look up, I see a light emerging from the edge of the forest. Fuck this! I think. I drop what I'm doing and take off running, but the mutant who has united this band of hunters is a cut above the rest. He wears faintly ceremonial attire and has a stick strapped to his back, which extends a scavenged light over his head. One look and you know the light's purpose: for hunting prey.

And you are that prey. When the mutants hunt, in packs, they're a force you don't want to fuck with. That's how they gain their confidence. That's when they become a lot more aggressive. And dangerous.

A lot of the time the mutants will simply kill you when they get the upper hand, and the way they surround you usually happens so gradually you don't know it's happening until you're dead. Other times they don't kill you. Instead... well, I don't want to spoil it. This game is terrifying and it does it in a way AAA titles don't: sometimes in broad daylight. If you liked Rust and you like horror, you're going to love this one.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Recently added horror films on Netflix (10/1/14)

It's October. Time to talk horror. I'll focus on horror-related posts until Halloween comes and goes. 

Netflix Instant isn't the greatest source for horror films, but it's okay in a pinch. You'd think they would have added more than five horror films for the month of Halloween, but I'm not sure how the on-demand licensing works. The "new" movies, in addition to the fourth season of The Walking Dead, are as follows:
  • Shivers
  • The Rage: Carrie 2
  • Shadow of the Vampire
  • The Phantom of the Opera (1989)
  • The Fly (1958)
The Shivers is Cronenberg's first film, which I haven't seen in well over ten years, but I remember liking it just a little more than Scanners. Pass it up if the director's more recent "body horror" flicks have left a bad taste in your mouth, but if you're a fan of his, it's essential.

Although I haven't seen The Rage: Carrie 2, I can say with certainty it's probably safe to skip unless you actually enjoy late-90s' sequels to films made in the 70s. If that's the case I think it's past your bedtime. I personally hated the way horror movies looked in the years between The Craft and Saw. Carrie 2's trailer suggests it's among the era's worst offenders.

Shadow of the Vampire, which asserts the actor who played Nosferatu was a real-life bloodsucker, is far and above the other films on this list. You get Willem Dafoe, John Malcovich, and Udo Kier all in one movie so it's a no-brainer. I'll probably re-watch it tonight.

The Fly should appeal to anyone who likes old monster movies, but let's face it: it's one of the rare examples of the remake being superior to the original. Perhaps it comes down to which famous catchphrase you prefer: "Help me! Pleeease, help me!" or "Be afraid. Be very afraid."

As for the 1989 version of Phantom of the Opera, I've never seen it. It's got Robert Englund in it, but beyond that I know nothing about it. Maybe I'll check it out. Maybe not. Maybe fug yoself.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Silent Hill 2: The Director's Cut (PC)

It's October. Time to talk horror. I'll focus on horror-related posts until Halloween comes and goes.

Anyone who played the original Resident Evil almost twenty years ago remembers the hellhounds. For those unfamiliar with that scene, it goes like this: you, as a player, are lulled into a sense of security. You're still trying to figure out what kind of game Resident Evil really is as you slowly move from room to room via a series of static camera angles. You walk into a hallway and you sigh because you think it's yet another pointless space you'll have to cross. Then an undead Doberman leaps through the window and stops your mother fuckin' heart. Anyone who tells you they didn't jump is a liar. 

Up until then there had been games like Alone in the Dark, I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream, and a little forgotten gem called D. Those were and still are great, but back then the horror game was usually just a puzzler in a creepy environment. The moment Resident Evil had hellhounds leaping through windows, horror in games became a palpable experience. The earlier portion of the Silent Hill franchise improved upon the formula, managing to milk every second of the dread. Things don't jump through windows as often as they lure you into them.

pretty cinematic for a game that's thirteen years old, huh?

The main character of Silent Hill 2 reminds me of that kid every school had, the one whose lips seemed to be permanently stained by Kool-Aid. Everyone looks odd in Silent Hill 2. On second thought, everything about Silent Hill 2 is odd, from the purposely distracting noise filter to the initially odd controls. The 2012 HD Collection rerecorded the voices, which probably would have been for the better had they not used even shittier actors.... or so I hear. (I've only played the PS2 version, when I was eighteen, and this review is based on the PC version.) Or maybe the voice acting isn't as bad as it is melodramatic. Let's face it, however: video games have almost always been weak in the dialogue department. That doesn't really matter, however, as the game quickly suspends your disbelief, making the surreal nature of it all reality.

The player takes control of James Sunderland who expects to meet his dead wife at their "special place" in the town of Silent Hill. It opens in a nasty bathroom with James questioning his sanity in a mirror. At this point new players will be expecting the appearance of a health bar to signal the game has begun, but there is no such health bar, no UI overlay whatsoever. It's just you, your character, and a whole lot of visual noise.

You bumble your way outside, not because the controls are bad, but because they're unusual. You find you're in the empty parking lot of a lookout area above Silent Hill. The character pauses to look out over the lake and sees very little through the fog. We're talking insane amounts of fog here. Is this a dream? one wonders. Would anyone in their right mind descend into such a place? Of course not. James just got an invitation from his dead wife and all but RSVP'd. He's obviously insane. He's also your surrogate, as unreliable as he may be, so you're stuck with him.

You take the steps down and the fog only intensifies. Your visibility is maybe ten feet. You walk and you walk and you walk, all the while hearing noises off the beaten trail. Your first run-in with an enemy doesn't have it leaping through the window to get you, but baiting you to fall hopelessly deeper into the town. And that's what the first twenty or so minutes of the game does: it isolates you, it makes you feel lost and hopeless. Sooner than later you find a pocket radio, the static of which grows louder the closer you get to an enemy. From here on out, you'll hear static more often than you see what's causing it. That's suspense. That's terror.

To say anymore would ruin the game. It's something to go into without any guides, without having seen any gameplay videos, without knowing just how deep and dark it all gets. Silent Hill 2 could very well be the best horror game ever made. If you're nervous about the graphics, don't be. They're more than sufficient. On the PC, they're even better than I remember.