31 Days of Halloween Hysteria – “30 Days of Night”

Out for a night bite...
Out for a night bite…

So, Halloween, eh?  The season of pumpkin-flavoured everything and dubious costumes returns anew and gives me ample excuse to watch a month-long festival of fright-based flicks on your behalf.

Everybody wins, I guess?  Except for Mrs Rolling Eyeballs, that is, who doesn’t do horror, despite being an avid viewer of “Grimm”, “Fringe” and other telefantasy shows which dabble in things that go bump in the midnight hour.

Our first example of horrific entertainment this October is “30 Days of Night” (2007), adapted from Steve Niles’ grisly comic.  It concerns a plague of feral, ancient vampires laying siege to the snowy, isolated Alaskan town of Barrow, where the sun never rises for the titular period each year.

“30 Days” is a classic, almost Western-like tale of law-enforcement folk and assorted survivors joining forces to ward off evil whilst struggling to prevent internal discord from letting the bad guys in.  Josh Hartnett stars as fresh-faced sheriff Eben Oleson whilst Danny Huston plays the alpha bloodsucker Marlow, whose ferocity is only matched by his intelligence.

These are not your romantic vampires of the Lestat/Edward Cullen school – they’re more akin to vicious apex predators, using the geography of the town to hunt, grab prey and then return to the shadows to feed.  Equally, the accepted touchstones of fiction are almost wholly ineffective – wooden stakes don’t work, garlic is a bust and even dismemberment provides only temporary respite from the fangs of the un-dead.

As the film draws to a climax, it seems that there’s little which can stop Marlow’s powerful horde from doing their grisly work unless the survivors are prepared to make an ultimate sacrifice to prevent the spread of this virulent vampiric cabal.

Director David Slade’s film is at it’s best when it shows the hopelessness besetting Barrow’s townsfolk – there’s a wonderful overhead shot from the air which follows the vampires cutting a bloody swathe through main street and overrunning the unprepared civilians.  It’s an operatic moment which is never quite matched by the rest of the movie, which is more contained and content to focus in on the cabin fever which besets the ever-dwindling populace as the month draws on.

That’s not to say that it’s bad – rather that this is a horror movie with most of the sharp edges left on:  Heroism goes unrewarded and a happy ending is conspicuous by it’s absence.

The best performances come from the dark side of course – Danny Huston is a fantastic antagonist, giving Marlow an aristocratic, old-world air, as though this vampire has lived for centuries and spilt more blood than he knows what to do with.  He is matched on the creep scale by Ben Foster, wholly memorable as the mysterious newcomer to Barrow whose arrival is a cue for very bad things to start happening.

If your October fancy is for night-crawlers and be-fanged horrors of the darkest kind, the pervasive dread and desperation of “30 Days of Night” is hard not to recommend.

 

 

Batman and Superman get a title…

…and it’s a doozy.

Are you ready  for 2016’s planet-bashing team-up picture, the luxuriantly-titled “Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice”?

Well, it's a title, I guess?
What-the-what-now?

I’ve got to admit, that’s on the cheesier end of the spectrum of proposed titles for this Zack Snyder-helmed, uber-franchise.  But if you’re going to go big, you go titanic, I suppose.  I still think that the WB are onto a loser by not using my Batman Vs Superman: The Smashenating” title, but you don’t want to give away all your eggs in one basket, do you?

The shenanigans erupt on 6 May 2016 – if the film doesn’t back down from another two-fisted, titanic clash – going up against Marvel Studios‘ “Captain America 3″ on the same weekend…

Where was I?

Misty Mountain Hop
Misty Mountain Hop

It’s a long story, the woeful tale of my continued absence from the interwebs.

A narrative of no small import could very well be woven from these events, were I of a mind to do so and were you, as a reader, keen enough to read of them.

Suffice is to say that my not posting updates during the last few months is firmly the result of every blogger’s enemy, that foul villain, Real Life – a foe sometimes best ignored.

To normal business, then?  Very well.

 

“The World’s End” – A Very British Apocalypse…

Time, disreputable British men on the lash, please!
Time, disreputable British men on the lash, please!

It’s a weird time at the cinema.

We once looked forward to summer blockbusters.  They were dependably bombastic, boasted a galaxy of stars and only ever turned up during months when air-conditioned entertainment with a room-temperature IQ seemed like a fine idea.

Now? Things are different.

Studios spend hundreds of millions of dollars to pump out action flicks, superhero yarns and animated fare which open every other week at your multiplex.  Somehow, somewhere along the line, Summer started to begin in March and now ends around September.

It’s refreshing, then, to see a film like “The World’s End”, the new Edgar Wright/Nick Frost/Simon Pegg collaboration, opening in the height of summer – at least here in the UK.

Whilst it can’t boast massive destruction on a par with “Man of Steel” or “Iron Man 3”, it does offer an equally compelling view of personal and literal disasters played out against a backdrop of small-town England, doing so with a well-observed script which is oddly brave in its determination to subvert our expectation.

For one thing, Pegg plays against type.  Though he’s the leading man, he’s an utterly unsympathetic one – selfish, deluded, intent on alienating anybody who’s ever shown him kindness or friendship and singularly unwilling to act in his own best interests.  To put it in blunt terms, Pegg’s character Gary King is an inveterate, self-enchanted piss-head and the kind of guy that you’d excise from your life if you were ever unfortunate enough to meet him.

It’s a tribute to Pegg’s skill as an actor and writer that you still follow him through the film whilst cringing at his character’s more objectionable excesses and the script’s darker turns (why was Gary in hospital at the start of the film?)

The supporting cast are also great – the eternal Yin to Pegg’s Yang, Nick Frost plays a very different role in “The World’s End”, embodying an uptight, buttoned-down, outwardly respectable archetype with aplomb whilst still convincing us of a wilder side which speaks to the loyalty that he would maintain with a man who had consistently let him down and behaved appallingly towards him and his peers.

Eddie Marsan, Rosamund Pike, Martin Freeman and, particularly, Paddy Considine all impress as the adult evolutions of a teenage circle of friends thrown together by very strange goings on one Friday night in their sleepy English community.  You’ll also spot cameos from British comic actors (including a few previous Pegg/Frost/Wright collaborators) and one entirely unexpected bit from…well, that would be spoiling things, wouldn’t it (don’t read IMDB!).

It’s probably not revealing too much about events in the film to suggest that this is the first movie from the trio which would positively benefit from continuation – the last few minutes of the film are such as to make you wonder what further misadventures might befall this gaggle of (nearly) middle-aged misfits.

I was looking forward to seeing Edgar Wright tackle science fiction and I’m pleased to see that he’s done it expertly, making a film which is resolutely British in tone whilst not requiring so much knowledge of our social mores that it would alienate a wider audience.   For any foreign readers – our English small towns really are as depressing and hopeless as they are portrayed in this film (though the mayhem which ensues on a typical weekend evening is rather smaller in scale).

Though bleak in places and unafraid to pursue emotional depths which are resonant and truthful, this is a very funny look at a literal end of life as we know we it which somehow manages to be funny even as it shows us an oddly convincing view of the apocalypse.

Great special effects, convincing characters and a cool story – you’re doing it wrong, Mr Wright!

Moving Day

 

"Are we there yet?"
“Are we there yet?”

If you’re reading this – and I’d like to think that you are – then you’ve made your way safely to Fluffrick’s new home on T3h IntErnetz.

I had streamers and noise-makers, this is where we should be letting them fly, wouldn’t you agree?

There may well be some adjustments for me to make as I gravitate towards a self-hosted blog, so please bear with me and enjoy the unintended comedy of a fortysomething novice flinging about html and css around with abandon (pre-made templates FTW…).

As we were, then.

Me Made May 2013 – Local Man Wears Shirt, Looks Shifty…

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Oddly enough, I’ve never modelled…

Never underestimate the influence of your better half.

Mrs Rolling Eyeballs – for it is her work – has enlisted my help in spreading awareness of Me Made May (Yes, it’s the fifth month of the year already.  Let’s try not to think about what this means for the increasing flow of sand cascading remorselessly through our personal egg timers and beckoning ever closer the dread fingers of Death…).

Mrs RE has been taking part in this celebration of upcycling, clothes fabrication and fashion-based frugality for a few years now and has been decent enough to make me clothes and accessories of a hand-made and artisan nature, so it seems only fair that I do my bit to show that you don’t have to buy expensive brand names and stoke the fires of globalisation.

Henceforth, for one month only, please expect a smattering of pictures of your humble blogger looking awkward and wondering why the camera appears to add not only ten pounds but a whole mess of existential angst to boot…

The garment depicted above is a baseball-style jersey, which comes replete with bespoke tag at the collar and is superbly comfy.  There’s also lovely sewing details at the collar and cuffs which adds subtle visual interest.  I really do like it – and you’ll be seeing similar entries rendered into being by my wife’s DIY sewing talents in posts to be named later…

Hagrid’s Holiday

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Hagrid, being the considerate Doggie lad that he is, has just taken us on holiday to the Isle of Arran – which has led to a disagreeable downturn in blog productivity of late.  Many apologies, but the perambulatory requirements of a splendid Saluki/Standard Poodle mix must be taken seriously, I’m sure you’ll agree.

As you can see from the image above, he was very taken with Scotland, this being his first visit since coming to live with us last Spring.   Lots of beaches, very few other dogs out for walks at the same time as him and weather which was mostly on our side – what canine could ask for more?

Hagrid and Mrs Rolling Eyeballs on Kildonan Beach, Isle of Arran, February 2013
Hagrid and Mrs Rolling Eyeballs on Kildonan Beach, Isle of Arran, February 2013

He was very taken with the scampering opportunities offered by the likes of Kildonan beach, Sannox and Blackwaterfoot Beach on Arran – as any doggie of distinction and taste would be.  If your dog likes to stretch their legs and go for a good old run, Arran is a fine place to consider for their next family break – if they are sufficiently generous, they might even allow you to tag along.

Word to the wise - if Hagrid is running like this at you, getting out of the way is a given...
Word to the wise – if Hagrid is running like this at you, getting out of the way is a given…

It was a particularly lovely holiday, especially as living in a city doesn’t allow you to let a big dog like Mr H. off his lead every day – particularly as some of his more challenging behaviour traits mean that he’s on a lead for the vast majority of his time.  It’s inspired us to be braver with him and find places local to us where he can have a run and stretch out his paws to the fullest of their capabilities, as well as investigating dog-appeasing pheramone collars to see if they can stop some of his overly reactive behaviour to every dog he sees.

Wish us luck, won’t you?

Rogue Failure. Or ‘How I Stopped Worrying and Learned To Love the Paragon’

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I am not and never have been a rebel.  In life, as in gaming, I tend to follow a path of general decency and behaving unto others as I would wish for them to treat me – it isn’t cool, it rarely yields great rewards and marks you out to others in the world as being even more of a nerd than they expect you to be.  Thankless existence, unto eternity?  You said it.

I am, dear reader, a Paragon, a Paladin, a White Hat – and I’m ok with it.

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My current favourite gaming experience, the omnipresent “Kingdoms of Amalur”, gives me the chance to play as a rogue class ranged fighter and what I’ve discovered from my now 52 hours of game play is that I’m absolutely useless when given the choice to exercise bad behaviour in games.  ‘Amalur’, for example, gives your levelled-up Rogue class the chance to use your stealth ability to sneak up on adversary and ally alike and either shank them assassin style or simply pickpocket them for nifty loot.

Curiously, I find it more morally acceptable and preferable to sneak up on humanoid aggressors and slice them six ways to Sunday than to go creeping around the game world and cut purses or rifle through wallets – how’s that for a bizarre reaction to choices that a game designer provides you with?   I’d like to think that it doesn’t prove that I’m a sociopath-in-waiting but it does give you pause.

It’s this odd disconnect between real world personal conviction and the options inherent in a video game environment  which has kept me from playing sandbox gangster titles like “Saints Row”, “Mafia” and the grand-daddy of them all, “Grand Theft Auto”.  If I can’t envisage ever wanting to be the characters or inhabiting their world, there’s no way that I’m going to play the title – it’s probably a Boy Scout reaction to the criminal anti-hero archetype but there you go.

That’s not to say that I require characters in-game to be Peter Pureheart and impossibly, impractically noble as that option offers as much of a game-breaking flaw as glitch code or poor design decisions but I don’t want to play games where the protagonist’s raison etre is slaying innocent bystanders and arbitrarily causing car crashes.  It’s just not how I’m wired, folks.

I suppose the point that I’m grasping towards is that I like being offered choice about what I do in games – perhaps I should make 2013 the year that I start to take advantage of those choices and see where they take me in games?

Hagrid’s Feeling For Snow…

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We took Hagrid for a walk in the overnight snow which blanketed the UK on Monday morning – he wasn’t that keen, you’ll be surprised to learn.

Sure, he pads about in the curious white carpet which has unceremoniously deposed his normal pavements and parkland, and he has a sniff about, but he’s just not that into it.

Where are the smells?  And why do his paws not have as much traction as normal?  What’s this cold stuff on the end of his nose?  And why is it drastically reducing my daily walks from two to one longish one?  So many canine questions, so very few answers…

Snowpocalypse? Nopocalypse.

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At the end of what is best described as a changeable week for plucky Brits, it’s good to know that some things are always the same.

The threat of a couple of inches of snowfall is sufficient to plunge the UK into a frenzy of addled speculation about the dire consequences of of a wholly predictable spate of wintry weather, with even the likes of your self-flagellating blogger having to confess to frequent F5’ing of his weather site of choice despite common sense indicating that nothing much is going to happen.

At present, Sheffield is witness to a couple of inches – tops – of snow, with more light flurries predicted during the weekend – not exactly the new ice age which most UK tabloids would have us believe is inbound with extreme frosty prejudice.  I imagine Canadian readers of this post must be chuckling into their Tim Hortons cup at the very idea of our January snow panic and wondering just how we would react to an actual outbreak of real weather.

As always, when it comes to scenarios like this, I have to think that Charlie Brooker said it best…