Bleak Russian sci-fi, hilarious cartoon sci-fi, and flesh-chompers of different hues are some of what's been setting the tone of my March 2018...
Click "READ MORE" below to see this month's looks, sounds, vibes & flavours...
Night of the Living Dead (Blu-Ray) - the newly released Criterion disc featuring a brand new HD restoration. The packaging leaves a bit to be desired (particularly the awkward double disc holder setup), but a host of informative and well put-together extra features are the cherry on top of the delicious cake that is the main film's gorgeous restoration. George A. Romero's ground-breaking cinematic landmark has never looked or sounded better.
The Walking Dead: Season 8B - the overall speed at which the story unfolds still needs work (arguably, 'All Out War' could have started in Season 7 and been concluded mid-way through Season 8 with a time jump placed between the two halves of 8a and 8b), but with power struggles going on between Negan and his second-in-command Simon, Dwight's torturous time seeking redemption, the loss of a Season 1 cast member (a major change to the source material), and various other juicy machinations, the back-half is powering forward and getting the opportunity to pay off a lot of set-ups that have been placed for the last couple of seasons. There's still some big tweaks that need to be made come Season 9, and hopefully the new showrunner Angela Kang will seek to right some wrongs and inject some more thrust into the progression of the overall narrative.
Man From Deep River (DVD) - Umberto Lenzi's exploitation flick starring Ivan Rassimov and Me Me Lai kick-started the notorious 'cannibal movie' sub-genre of the 1970s and 1980s. Review coming soon.
Rick & Morty: Season 2 & 3 - with each passing episode it gets better and better (from an already very strong start), but Season 3 almost never wobbles as its stride is so sure, each episode dominated by one intriguing idea after another. Now to wait along with everyone else for a fourth season (yet to be officially picked-up, it seems)!
Nine Inch Nails "Year Zero", "Ghosts I-IV", "The Slip", "Hesitation Marks"
White Zombie "La Sexocisto: Devil Music Vol. 1", "Astro-Creep 2000"
Rob Zombie "Hellbilly Deluxe", "The Sinister Urge", "House of 1000 Corpses (Soundtrack)", "Educated Horses", "Hellbilly Deluxe 2", "Venomous Rat Regeneration Vendor", "The Electric Warlock Acid Witch Satantic Orgy Celebration Dispenser", "Past, Present, and Future"
Ringo Deathstarr "Colour Trip"
The Distillers "Sing Sing Death House", "Coral Fang"
VIBES & FLAVOURS:
"Metro 2035" by Dmitry Glukovsky - the trilogy-closing book in the Russian author's post-apocalyptic sci-fi drama set in the subway tunnels of an irradiated Moscow. One glaring issue rears its head early on and persists throughout: a conspicuous lack of proofreading. There are regular grammatical and punctuation errors, and some rather curious sentence structure smacks of a translation that needed more work. At a weighty 500 pages (even as a paperback the book is physically uncomfortable to hold due to its weight and dimensions) there are a few areas where some judicious editing would have helped inject a bit of momentum, and some tweaks to the prose could have helped clarify who's talking (numerous times you are confronted with back-and-forth dialogue among several people, but with few or no indications as to who's saying what). Brevity is not in Glukovsky's toolset, it seems (although Metro 2034 was suitably brisk after the over-long Metro 2033), but when the stars align it can make for some particularly rewarding passages. Murky morals and the pain of politics is a running theme weaved throughout the series, and while there's probably one-too-many switcheroos in Artyom's thinking in the back-half, the depth of the wider story is satisfyingly vivid. Despite the rapacious nihilism and miserable realism of the world that is presented on-the-page, there are still glimmers of hope to be had. A thoughtful, epic conclusion to the Metro series.
Snow! - 'The Beast from The East' met Storm Emma and we were doused with snow across the nation. With the snow coming in with drifts the depth ranged from nothing at all to knee deep or even waist deep.
"Murder at the Grindhouse" - after some time away doing other things (writing other scripts, working on FWOAN, holiday time etc) I've returned to the sleazy world of New York's 42nd Street in the 1980s to do the next round of tweaks and polishes to my coming-of-age murder mystery novel. It's good to be back in the grit and grime!
South Park: The Fractured But Whole (Xbox One) - from the giggle-inducing title, this game gets you grinning from the get-go. Building upon the very strong foundation that was the previous game (The Stick of Truth), this superhero-based sequel sees you join 'Coon & Friends' to take on all manner of crime and villainy in the quiet Colorado mountain town. If you thought 'how could they possibly have any references left to make?' after the densely-packed world of the last game, then you'll be pleasantly surprised to find that this one has just as many details and callbacks as ever. Some of the toilet minigames are a bit overly tricky (certain contrary motions are damn difficult to pull off on the joypad - like patting your head while rubbing your tummy), but the main mechanics are all solid. There's perhaps a few too many options here and there (a screed of costumes, artifacts, crafting etc), so that can be a bit overwhelming with various options left ignored by the player, and the fast travel system has too few drop-off points (why can't I fast travel to any specific location that I desire?!), but these are minuscule quibbles compared to the sheer joy that comes from playing inside an extended episode of the TV show ... *Memberberry voice on* fantastic!