Friday, March 27, 2009

SPLATTERHOUSE


SPLATTERHOUSE (1988)

Originally an arcade release by Namco in 1988, this is hands down the best video game ever made. I remember being 9 years old, cashing in bottles and cans for change at Foodtown so I could go over to Nathan's for a cheeseburger and then feed quarters into Splatterhouse. Long before brutality became a hit in video games (like Mortal Combat and more recently with the Grand Theft Auto series and the controversial Manhunt), Splatterhouse laid the foundation for gory games and maintained a shelf life of over 20 years, revamped and ready for a 2009 release on the XBOX 360 and Playstation platforms . . .


The main character, Rick Taylor, dons a hockey mask like our dear friend Jason Voorhees, and his weapons of choice include a 2x4, meat cleavers, a pump shotgun, and whatever else you can get your filthy hands on. The game takes place in West Mansion (nicknamed the "Splatterhouse") where a parapsychologist, Dr. West, is rumoured to have conducted bizarre experiments. Two university students — Rick, and his girlfriend Jennifer Wills (both parapsychology majors) — visit the house for a school project, when a sudden thunderstorm causes them to seek shelter inside the mansion.


Rick is knocked unconscious and Jennifer is kidnapped, and he awakes unable to remove the mask from his face. We learn that the mask (referred to as the "Terror Head") is an ancient Mayan sacrificial mask with incredible power. You make your way through the mansion, attacked by strange looking creatures and when you smack them with the 2x4 they "splatter" against the wall, dripping into mushy puddles. The soundtrack for the game is amazing - what could possibly be better than 8-bit horror music? The levels are all creepy and disturbing - my favorite scene takes place in a room full of what looks like blubbery piles of man-eating sperms, which jump out of the corners and latch onto you like leeches. Once out of the mansion you encounter an enemy in the forest, with a potato sack on his head and chainsaws for arms, who is strikingly similar to one of the zombies in Resident Evil 5 (2009, XBox 360, another game that I've recently become addicted to and will be reviewing here at The Big Toe in a few days). In my opinion, Splatterhouse set the standard for horror video gameplay and went where no game had gone before.


The game caused a great deal of controversy when it was first released, due to the extreme violence, and when it was made for play at home on TurboGrafx 16 (which I still have and play often) it displayed a parental advisory warning. My how far we've come -- nowadays you can get a blowjob from a hooker in the backseat of a car in GTA or suffocate another player with a plastic bag in Manhunt, but 20 years ago Splatterhouse was truly ahead of it's time.


For the 2009 release, obviously the left to right scrolling will be replaced with 360 degree action, and hopefully the violence is turned up a notch with the help of today's mind-numbing graphics capabilities. Apparently Namco kept to the original storyline, except now Rick can be dismembered and use his severed limbs as weapons too! As if slicing up monsters with a meat cleaver wasn't cool enough - now you can use your own arm or leg to bash them over the head! I am counting the days until I can enter West Mansion once again . . .


Check out an AMAZING fan page for Splatterhouse here, including mp3's of the original game for download:
http://splatterhouse.classicgaming.gamespy.com/


Also check out the link below for info on the 2009 release:
http://www.gamespot.com/xbox360/action/splatterhouse/index.html






Wednesday, March 25, 2009

MOVIE REVIEW #36: NURSE SHERRI

THE POSSESSION OF NURSE SHERRI (1978)
Directed by Al Adamson

Meet Sherri . . . for an evening of Pleasure and Terror!
Her bedside manner will keep you in stitches!

These taglines sum up the film perfectly -- picture a sexy night nurse in the late 70's, possessed by a demon, who kills without any knowledge of it. It's The Exorcist meets Carrie, with a medical degree. The film begins in the desert, where a deranged "prophet" named Reanhauer attempts to raise the dead and almost kills himself in the process. He is rushed to a nearby hospital where, during emergency surgery, he possesses the body of the lovely Nurse Sherri. Strange things begin happening in the hospital, and the doctors who operated on Reanhauer are killed off one by one. A local football star is laid up after an accident that left him blind, but he can sense the presence of an evil spirit because (of course) his grandmother was a voodoo priestess. Dr. Desmond, who is dating Nurse Sherri, notices her strange behavior and when confronting her, he is greeted by the voice of Reanhauer from within Sherri. As if this wasn't enough to convince us that Sherri is indeed possessed, Desmond refuses to get her the proper medical attention and almost meets his demise when Sherri locks him in the bathroom and emerges from behind the shower door armed with 2 bloody meat cleavers.


The highlight of the film is a hallucinogenic montage of twisted imagery that surrounds Sherri as she lays in bed and the demon takes her over. A low-budget green light special effect creeps into the room from under the door and swirls around her, depicting images of death and destruction, symbolizing the possession. The climax of the film is the bathroom scene when Sherri, in her blood spattered white nightgown, is about to murder Desmond but the spirit leaves her body at that very moment when two local nurses exhume the body of Reanhauer and burn the grave. The score of the film is great, using eerie 70's synths and strings, and although not the least bit scary, it is an entertaining piece of horror history. Nurse Sherri isn't quite up to par with one of my favorite horror films of all time (Horror Hospital), but it is still a good watch. Hospitals are just a perfect setting for horror - almost as good as a circus with killer clowns . . .

Also worth mentioning is the DVD special features, which include drive-in movie trailers and intermission snack bar advertisements that take you back to the old days when going to the movies was still fun. Instead of telling you to turn off your cell phones and not talk, the ads encourage you to purchase hot dogs, popcorn, and of course, ice cold refreshing Coca-Cola.

Check out Nurse Sherri on IMDB at:
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0076478/