Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Bunraku Giveaway


In a world without guns, a mysterious drifter (Josh Hartnett) arrives in a strange town terrorised by the ruthless Woodcutter (Ron Perlman) and his army of thugs, headed by the vicious Killer #2 (Kevin Mckidd). The drifter is forced to trust a young samurai (Japanese superstar Gackt) looking to restore his family's honour, and the local bartender (Woody Harrelson) with his own secret score to settle, as they team up to destroy the Woodcutter's tyrannical and corrupt regime.

Using cutting-edge visuals and breathtaking fight choreography, Bunraku, also starring Demi Moore, is a wholly new and original take on the action and martial arts genre: Kill Bill meets Sin City.

Thanks to our friends at G2 Pictures, we've got three copies of Bunraku on Blu-ray to give away! For your chance of winning, send your name and full postal address to emotionally14@hotmail.co.uk before midday on Friday 7th October, making sure to put "Bunraku" as the subject. The first three entries out of the electronic hat after the competition closes will receive a copy of this awesome book!

Don't forget to put "Bunraku" in the subject line. Incorrectly labelled or blank entries will be discarded.

Bunraku is available from 10th October, courtesy of G2 Pictures.

Entries limited to one per household. Offer open only to postal addresses in the UK and Ireland.

Monday, 26 September 2011

The Big Bang Theory Giveaway

THE BIG BANG THEORY: SEASON FOUR GIVEAWAY

Prepare for hours of laughter as loveable Geeks Leonard, Sheldon, Howard and Ray try to score as high with the opposite sex as they do on their IQ tests, with the release of The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Fourth Season on DVD on 26th September. To celebrate the release, we have three copies of the DVD up for grabs!

When socially awkward scientists experiment with love, usually only hilarity ends up as a result! This season, the gang’s romantic universe expands as Leonard (Johnny Galecki), Howard (Simon Helberg), Raj (Kunal Nayyar) and even Sheldon (Jim Parsons) test their skills outside of the lab. On the rebound from Penny (Kaley Cuoco), Leonard falls for Raj’s sister, Priya (Farrah Fowler). Sheldon finally gets a girlfriend – or rather a friend who is a girl – Amy (Mayim Bialik), a dour neurobiologist who adopts Penny as her new best friend. Howard and Bernadette’s (Melissa Rauch) chemistry heats up – and so do Raj and Bernadette (at least in Raj’s Bollywood daydream!) The romantic twists and turns, both real and imagined, continue to bring on the laughs in this award-winning series.

To be in with a chance of winning The Big Bang Theory: The Complete Fourth Season DVD please answer the following question...

Which one of the Geniuses gets together with Raj’s sister in Season 4?
a. Howard
b. Leonard
c. Sheldon

For your chance of winning, send your answer, name and full postal address to emotionally14@hotmail.co.uk before midday on Friday 7th October, making sure to put "Big Bang" as the subject. The first three correct entries out of the electronic hat after the competition closes will receive a free copy!

Don't forget to put "Big Bang" in the subject line. Incorrectly labelled or blank entries will be discarded.

The Big Bang Theory: Season Four is available now, courtesy of Warner Home Video.

Entries limited to one per household. Offer open only to postal addresses in the UK and Ireland.

© Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All rights reserved


Sunday, 25 September 2011

Dickass DM

Remember good, old-fashioned gamebooks? They promised all the fun of a role-playing game, with none of the social interaction - what more could a teenage boy desire? The thing is, that while the gamebook became a great gaming experience in its own right, the only RPG it could possibly have simulated was one being GM'd by Satan himself. 90% of decisions led to certain death, and combat was often fatal.

Satan wasn't available, so Brad will be GMing Rob through an RPG based on the classic Joe Dever gamebook Freeway Warrior II: Mountain Run. Brad is the DM, and Rob plays his character, Brag Phoenix.

Catch up with previous Dickass DM installments here!
You move his iPod cable when he's not looking, leaving him unable to listen to his latest purchases.
Brag: Hah! I bet that's enraging!
You replace his iPod with a Zune.
Clansman is defeated.
Brag: For fuck's sake, it's not that bad!
Brad: You identify the brightly dressed clansman as Alcatraz.
Brag: Uh....heh heh....hi.

Brad: ...for his tanned and moustached face bears a long-horned steer skull tattooed across the forehead. The other man, who is dressed in a black, wide-shouldered leather jacket, can be none other than Mad Dog Michigan himself. He looks older than you had imagined him, his receding hair greying slightly at the temples, yet despite his age there is no doubting the unmistakable aura of power that surrounds him. For a moment you stare into his cold grey eyes and glimpse the vengeful evil that lurks there. Then you remember the danger of your situation.
Brag: Alcatraz is here!
Brad: Alcatraz has drawn his pistol, but before he can fire, you rush forward and whip his wrist with the barrel of your gun. He yelps in pain and drops the Beretta auto to the floor, but there is a blade in his other hand and it is flashing towards your chest.
Brag: Hah! Whipped you like...actually, never mind.
Alcatraz: I'll never forgive you for that day at the funfair, Phoenix!
MCSPINDLE: Turn the Gain up! I really want to hear this!
Brag: I can explain!
Brad: Desperately you turn it aside. You have lost the advantage of surprise, however, and Alcatraz seizes the initiative!
RUNNING COMBAT:
Brag: Are you going to give me a chance to explain?!
You get him into a headlock and ruffle his hair as you attempt to explain.

Brag: Right, now...Technically, yes, I did finger your sister.
You pull off a surprisingly good German Suplex.
Brag: I can't deny that. I also can't deny that it was on the teacups.
You pull your arm back and swing forward with a massive right hook.
Alcatraz stumbles backwards and crashes straight through the window to the ground outside!
Brad: As he falls, he calls out:
Alcatraz: I didn't mean that funfair!
Brag: ...What?
MCSPINDLE: I missed that. It sounded like he said "crashtinklearrghthud".
Brag: Uh...Yeah, that's what he said. I thought it was weird too.
Brad: A loud cheer fills the stadium. Ricky Riot, the top Angelinos rider, has just crossed the line and won the motorcycle race. You suddenly realise that Mad Dog Michigan is watching you from the opposite side of the map table.
Brag: Uh...hi!
Brad: He finishes speaking into a radio handset and then, with a cruel sneer, levels his pistol, taking deliberate aim at your head. He is about to squeeze the trigger when Kate appears behind him with a wooden stool clutched unsteadily in her hands. With one fell stroke she smashes it upon his head, leaving him sprawled unconcious on the floor.
Brag: Thank, God! You whittled that just in the nick of time!

Brad: You rush forward to take Kate
MCSPINDLE: Wa-hey!
Brad: in your arms and she yields to your embrace with a kiss that is warm and passionate.
Kate: [voice trembling and tearful] I thought I'd never see you again, Brag.
Brag: I knew I'd see you, so I didn't masturbate. As much.
Kate: They told me you were dead.
Brag: Who did?
Kate: The guys you just killed and accidentally defenestrated.
Brad: The sound of running feet alerts you both to approaching danger. Before Kate knocked him out, Mad Dog radioed his men and reported your presence in the observation block. Now a dozen of his toughest clansmen are racing along the corridor in answer to his call.
Brag: Bugger.
Kate: Let's get out of here, Brag!
Brad: She starts to run towards a fire escape door.
Brag: I dunno, should we? Of course let's fucking get out of here!
Brad: You follow her, pausing briefly to snatch the map that the two clan leaders were studying when you burst into the room.
**BRAG PHOENIX has acquired MAD DOG MAP**

Brag: I can use this as a jizzrag, worst case scenario.
Brad: You race to catch up with Kate as she runs along the gantry that lies on the other side of the door. A burst of machine pistol fire echoes in your wake as the first of Mad Dog's men enter the observation room. Bullets begin to scream past on either side of you. Twenty yards along the iron gantry you come under additional fire from clansmen in the stadium below.
Brag: How did they get bullets to make sounds?!
Brad: Bullets are slamming into the gantry from all sides but a combination of luck and speed saves you from being hit. At the far end is a covered staircase leading down to an internal thoroughfare, one of many that honey comb the vast area below the stadium tiers. This wide corridor is empty at present, but the sound of running footsteps is growing louder with each passing second, and it will not be very long before the area is teeming with clansmen. Kate points to a service hatch, almost invisible against the dirt-encrusted wall, and suggests you hide there.
Brag: Well, smart-arse, this was your bright idea.
Brad: You nod your agreement and help her to prise it open.
MCSPINDLE: Whipped!
Brag: Murderer!
MCSPINDLE: Sorry? I can't hear you over that fruity little pinny you're wearing!

Brad: On the other side of the hatch you discover an electrical cable duct that is just large enough to accomodate both of you in some discomfort. You enter first, then Kate squeezes in, closing the hatch behind her. It is now pitch black and very claustrophobic. Outside you can hear the angry screams and pounding feet of the clansmen as determinedly they try to track you down.
Brag: I apologise in advance if I fart. Should not have had nachos for lunch, but they taste so good...
Brad: The new of Alcatraz's defenestration has been broken to the Angelinos and you have heard more than one of them vow that they will kill you when they find you.
Brag: IF YOU FIND ME! I mean...whirrrrrrrrrr....
Brad: The only escape route open to you now is to descend the rusty rungs of the iron service ladder on which you stand. Forty rungs later you reach the bottom of the shaft. You can feel the walls of a tunnel leading away to your right but it is too dark for you to see where it leads or what it contains.
Rob: I throw Kate down it.
Brad: Without illumination progress is painfully slow, and gradually the fear that you are becoming hopelessly lost saps your confidence. After a short while, you see a glimmer of light shining through a crack in the ceiling.It is very faint, but it is sufficient for you to be able to discern the outline of a ladder ascending towards it.
Rob: Continue along the service shaft. I sense a double-bluff.
Brad: By feeling your way along the thick cables that festoon the walls of the tunnel, you are able to make reasonable progress in the dark. More than half an hour later you reach a wider section where a faint light seeps down from glass bricks embedded in the ceiling around a circular steel hatch.
Brad: A ladder ascends to the hatch and Kate suggest that it could be worth investigating.

Brag: Well, you managed a successful idea so far...
Brad: You lift up the heavy steel cover carefully and look out. Kate was right: the sight that greets you is the entrance gate to the Reagan Memorial Stadium.
Rob: Whogan?
Brad: After waiting until there is little clan activity in the immediate area, you emerge from the shaft and make your way quickly into the ruins of the southern central sector of the San Angelo stronghold. For the next hour, you wind your way through the ruined city, crawling over the rubble and sprinting across every open area to minimise the risk of being seen.
Rob: I burp babies? Oh, you mean wind pronounced "wined"?
Brad: At length you reach a place that overlooks the southern perimeter wall. There you stop to settle your nerves and catch your breath. In a hushed voice, you tell Kate the wereabouts of your roadster, just in case you do not make it out of San Angelo.
Brag: Tell him he's a murderer. He'll miss being told he's a murderer if I'm not about.
Kate: Don't talk like that, Brag. [grips your hand] It scares me.
Brag: Lower.
Kate: [bass voice] Don't talk like that, Brag. It scares me.
Brag: No, I mean...never mind.
TO BE CONTINUED...

THE MONSTER'S CORNER: STORIES THROUGH INHUMAN EYES GIVEAWAY


In most stories we get the perspective of the hero, the ordinary, the everyman, but we are all the hero of our own tale, and so it must be true for legions of monsters, from Lucifer to Mordred, from child-thieving fairies to Frankenstein's monster and the Wicked Witch of the West. From our point of view, they may very well be horrible, terrifying monstrosities, but of course they won't see themselves in the same light, and their point of view is what concerns us in these tales. Demons and goblins, dark gods and aliens, creatures of myth and legend, lurkers in darkness and beasts in human clothing ...these are the subjects of The Monster's Corner.

Thanks to our friends at Piatkus Books, we've got five copies of The Monster's Corner to give away! For your chance of winning, send your name and full postal address to emotionally14@hotmail.co.uk before midday on Friday 7th October, making sure to put "Monster's Corner" as the subject. The first five entries out of the electronic hat after the competition closes will receive a copy of this awesome book!

Don't forget to put "Monster's Corner" in the subject line. Incorrectly labelled or blank entries will be discarded.

The Monster's Corner is available from 27th September, courtesy of Piatkus Books.

Entries limited to one per household. Offer open only to postal addresses in the UK and Ireland.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

DVD Reviews

Insidious
Starring: Rose Byrne, Barbara Hershey, Patrick Wilson
Director: James Wan
Momentum Pictures Home Entertainment

Available Now
Review by Brad Harmer

Josh and Renai are a happily married couple with three young children who have moved into their idyllic new suburban home. When tragedy strikes their young son, Josh and Renai begin to experience things in the house that are beyond explanation. Before long, their lives are turned upside down by demonic forces, hell-bent on terrorising their very existence. Forced to seek help and protect their family, they learn the terrifying truth: it's not the house that's haunted but something far worse.

While I was watching Insidious, it has to be said that I really enjoyed it. It’s an airport novel of a movie: fun and well-paced – but once it’s over, the cracks start to show if you think about it too hard. The tension is almost painful throughout, the haunting effects almost “realistic” (more so during the first half of the movie), and there are more than a few jump moments that genuinely shat me up, and I’m no stranger to this sort of thing. Insidious is a great haunted house movie.

Unfortunately, once the adrenaline wears off and you think about it over the next couple of days...there are a few things that just don’t sit right. The James Wan “twist ending” is developed from a plot-point that isn’t mentioned at all until well over an hour into the movie...and is predictable long before the end. James, sometimes a happy ending is better than a twist one. You don’t want to turn into M. Night Shymalan, do you? No-one wants to be M. Night Shymalan.

Then you realise that, while enjoyable, it’s basically a re-make of Poltergeist.

Then you realise that the bad guy is basically a really camp Darth Maul.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Violence:
None.
Sex/Nudity: None.
Swearing: Standard for the genre.
Summary: A solid, scary ghost story, with more than a few moments that will properly shit up even the most ardent of horror fans. The “twist” ending feels like an afterthought, and it’s not as original a story as it likes to think it is, but this doesn’t stop it from being highly enjoyable. 7/10
Attack the Block
Starring: Nick Frost, Luke Treadway, Jodie Whittaker
Director: Joe Cornish
Studio Canal

Available Now
Review by Brad Harmer

Trainee nurse Sam is walking home to her flat in a South London tower block when she's robbed by a gang of masked, hooded youths. She's saved when the gang are distracted by a bright meteorite, which falls from the sky and hits a nearby parked car. Sam flees, just before the gang have to fight off a small alien creature that leaps from the wreckage.

While Sam and the police hunt for the gang, a second wave of meteors fall. Confident of victory against such feeble invaders, the gang grab weapons, mount bikes and set out to defend their turf. But this time, the creatures are bigger. Much bigger. Sam suddenly realises that the bunch of no-hope kids who attacked her are about to become her best and only hope to survive.

So, for starters, our heroes are thuggish, moronic, evil criminals. And we’re supposed to side with them. That’s not all of the characters, granted, but the rest of them are paper-thin alien and chav fodder, so it’s hard to say which we really prefer. So, Attack the Block starts off a poorly conceived, ill-thought-out mess, and it never really improves from there.

It’s actually quite to hard to think of anything that Attack the Block does right. The action scenes (which comprise approximately 95% of the running time) are truly awful, with no real thought given to continuity, pacing or any sense of excitement or tension. The aliens themselves are terrible CG abortions, comparable to (and possibly worse than) effects I’ve seen in straight-to-DVD petrol station fodder. The director obviously realises that they’re balls, as well, so they’re on screen as little as possible. This has the down side of meaning that the majority of the film is composed of footage of chavs running round a tower block. And I could go to Peckham to watch that.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Violence:
Frequent, bloody, badly rendered and botchily edited violence, fighting, blood and gore.
Sex/Nudity: Some verbal references.
Swearing: Near constant, of the “big, hard and clever”variety.
Summary: Badly conceived, edited and produced, this is an boring, repetitive and botched waste of time. 2/10
Erotibot
Starring: Asami, Maria Ozawa, Yûya Tokumoto
Director: Naoyuki Tomomatsu
Bounty Films
Available from 26/09/11
Review by Rob Wade

Tomayo is heiress to her wealthy family's fortunes. In order to protect her from outside danger she is looked after by three android bodyguards. The first android is masterful and good looking. The second has beast-like strength, and the third is a clumsy misfit who can't seem to get anything right. He fantasises over his mistress and is adored by her. Together, the three androids help detect danger, and serve Tomayo during the day, and occasionally engage in after-dark 'bedroom protection' as well...

Meanwhile another family member, Tsukiyo who is jealous of Tomayo, hires a private detective to spy on her. He uncovers a dark secret that Tomayo is in fact the 'bastard daughter' of a servant. When Tsukiyo discovers this, she is consumed by rage believing Tomayo to be an embarrassment to the family and not pure blood . Along with her servant Azami, she plots to regain the inheritance she believes to be hers. Can she distract the three Androids long enough to exact her plan? Which Android will win Tomayo's love?

Sounds like a relatively interesting premise, am I right? Three robots in the house, one of whom is developing human emotion because of lust. The premise is certainly more original than your standard "Man with serious face saves day in order to clear name" action film, or "man and woman show initial mutual disdain but eventually develop attraction for each other" romantic 'comedy'. The problem, however, is that if I gave you the film's apparent budget in cash, you'd still get change from a gift voucher. Part of this, I suspect, is a result of what I call the "Mac effect" (not to be confused with the awesome game Mass Effect).

Essentially, what it boils down to is that some people buy Macbook Pros, which come loaded with programs like iPhoto and iMovie, which make video and photo editing very simple. Before you know it, the owner of the Macbook Pro is asking you to like their professional photography page on Facebook, and petitioning to get given the movie rights to Evil Dead 4 because they think they can suddenly do a better job. If there's one thing you can take away with you as one of Rob's Golden Rules, it's the following: Easy to use software/websites/services give people an undeserved sense of accomplishment, and a hyper-inflated boost to their own self-worth.

I can tell that one thing is for certain in this film; the director does indeed own a Macbook Pro. I know this, because it's shown repeatedly throughout the movie. Now, unless this is a hyper-intelligent Macbook Pro (Almost oxymoronic in itself) giving a visual homage to M. Night Shyamalan by emulating his traditional tactic of giving himself a small supporting role in everything he does, I suspect my Golden Rule is in full swing in this one. It's simultaneously a shame and a blessing, therefore, that there is no pre-installed scriptwriting application on Macbook Pro devices, because the film clearly suffers from not having one (a script, that is, not an application).

Here's a small snippet from the movie (and spoiler-free, I might add). The third android quite fancies the girl, and he overhears the girl tell the first android that she really wants to try a particular food. The first android can't organise it for her for reasons I won't go into, and the third android decides to save the day. Cue a ten minute sequence where the third android runs out to buy the girl the food she so craves. The food in question?

Cup. Fucking. Noodles. The Japanese equivalent of a Pot Noodle. I fucking shit you not. Of course, while he's away, the first android senses the girl browsing porn online, and decides that it's time to offer himself up to her sexually for the purposes of, for lack of a better expression, breaking her in. So while the third android is running out to the Co-Op late at night for those Pot Noodles she so desperately craves, she's got the chance to find out which attachments on Robot 1 have suck AND blow actions.

Does she take him up on his ever-so-thoughtful offer? More importantly, why do you care? As if that sequence wasn't bad enough, the ending does such a job of jumping the shark that I'd be amazed if it could see the dorsal fin without the Hubble telescope.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Violence:
Infrequent, but graphic, violence.
Sex/Nudity: Heavy sexual themes, naked boobs and arse (of both genders - just the arse). Scenes of sex, no penetration.
Swearing: A couple of uses.
Summary: An interesting premise wasted by giving it a budget of about £19. 3/10
Cannibal Holocaust
Starring: Francesca Cirdi, Robert Kerman, Perry Pirkanen
Director: Ruggero Deodato
Shamless

Available from Monday 26th September
Review by Brad Harmer

A crew of four documentary filmmakers disappears while filming primitive cannibal tribes deep in the Amazonian rain forest; the horrific footage they shot is then found by a second expedition who will discover the horrific real reason for the demise of the four filmmakers...

When I was a kid, Cannibal Holocaust was one of the most extreme horror movies I had ever seen. Now, ten or so years later, it’s still one of the most extreme horror movies I have ever seen. Gut-churning, gorge-rising, sanity stretching, brain draining, balls out gross out horror. And it’s still really, really good.

The pacing is spot on, and the gore and prostethic work still looks great over thirty years later. The content is still very strong, though, and new audiences should take it to heart that you may think you’ve seen extreme horror movies, but you haven’t until you’ve seen Cannibal Holocaust.

The horror comes from multiple directions, as the paranoia and isolation of being out in the jungle with a psychotic and barbaric tribe of cannibals combines with the true gross out horror and sexual violence, and combines again with the first person angle – thanks to the bulk of the footage coming from “found footage” shot on video camera. If you like your exploitation horror, and think you’ve got the stomach to handle it, Cannibal Holocaust is a shining example of the genre. Be warned though, it is definitely not for everyone.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Violence:
A monkey has its head torn open. Turtle decapitation. Animal butchery, blood, guts, and gore. Bludgeoning. Sexual torture. Forced abortion. Infanticide. Impaling (Vlad Tepes style). Decapitation. Cannibalism. Gang-rape. Castration. More decapitation. Arson. Executions. Some of the executions and all of the animal killings are real/documentary and not actors/prosthetics.
Sex/Nudity: Near constant full male and female nudity. Rape. Rape. Rape. Rape. Rape. Rape. Castration. Some more rape.
Swearing: Near constant, and strong.
Summary: Still gut-churningly sickening and scathingly satirical, Cannibal Holocaust is still a titan of exploitation horror. On Blu-ray it looks...pretty good. Not great, but certainly not bad, either. 9/10
South Park: Season Fourteen
Starring: Trey Parker, Matt Stone
Paramount Home Entertainment

Available Now
Review by Brad Harmer

Join Stan, Kyle, Cartman and Kenny as they dive into social networking, defend against annoying Jersey "muff cabbage" and finally reveal the secret identity of Mysterion in an epic three-part saga. Top that with some never-before-seen deleted scenes and a little crème fraîche, and you've got a collection that will leave you drooling. Shablagoo!!

South Park makes you do that laugh that hurts. Not the laugh you do when you see or read something funny. Not that laugh you do when one of your friends say something so funny that you can’t breathe. South Park delivers surreal, off-the-wall, satirical and hilarious gut-punches of comedy that have you bark out a laugh before you realise what you’re laughing at. South Park is the best written of any of the adult animated series, and this series (its fourteenth now) is no different.

If you’re into South Park, this is a great compilation, featuring some of those painful laughs I mentioned, and the Mysterion trilogy. If you’re not already into South Park, trust me, this is a pretty good place to start.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Violence:
Death, murderisation and gore are the order of the day in South Park. It is always hilarious.
Sex/Nudity: Some references and misunderstandings. In one memorable instance giant testicles feature.
Swearing: Strong and frequent to a degree that is classified as “South Park Levels of Profanity”.
Summary: Other adult, animated shows may have dipped or varied in quality, but South Park is still as funny and thought provoking as it ever was. If not funnier. And though provokingier. 9/10
Stargate Universe: Season Two
Starring: Robert Carlyle, Justin Louis, Brian J. Smith
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment

Availalble Now
Review by Charlotte Barnes

Stargate Universe follows a band of soldiers, scientists and civilians, who must fend for themselves as they are forced through a Stargate when their hidden base comes under attack. The desperate survivors emerge aboard an ancient ship, which is locked on an unknown course and unable to return to Earth.

In Season Two, the Destiny continues its journey through the Universe, while its crew suffers from a lack of supplies and no knowledge of its final destination. Struggling to control the ships systems, tempers and personalities of the crew clash. Facing uncharted space and enemies who would take the ship by force, the Destiny crew persevere in their struggle to stay alive and find a way home.

Apart from series one of Stargate Universe, I am a novice when it comes to this franchise. I have not got any kind of background on the previous series to be able to compare it to them. As I came to it cold I can happily say that this programme is a fantastic example of science fiction and stands alone. I do not need to have watched the other series in order to follow the plot or gain an insight it to the characters.

Once again the acting is fantastic, the storyline is dynamic and captivating, the special effects are fantastic (especially for television) and the direction is great. Robert Carlyle as Dr Nicholas Rush is a dream choice of casting and he really works well with Louis Ferreira (Everett Young) as his onboard foe. The series ends with a fantastic cliff hanger, which just tops off what is already a fantastic series.

I am saddened to hear that Stargate Universe will not be returning for a third series, I feel sad at this loss for television and the science fiction genre. At least is had a longer innings that Firefly. Still, I think they have made a mistake by dropping it, when it still had so much to give.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Violence:
Plenty of aggression, laser shooting, fire and death.
Sex/Nudity: Some, no open nakedness though.
Swearing: None of note, enough to be suitable for the drama.
Summary: Fantastic television series, well worth a watch. If you haven’t seen it yet I really encourage you to go and buy it on DVD or Blu-Ray now (right now, put down your cup of tea and order it now). 9/10
High School of the Dead
Starring: Marina Inoue, Junichi Suwabe, Ayana Taketatsu
Director: Tetsuro Araki
Manga Entertainment

Available Now
Review by Blake Harmer

As is the usual plot for anything zombie flavoured: a virus that turns people into the walking dead who feast on the flesh of the living has been unleashed and things are rapidly going to hell. This virus strikes Fujimi High School, where unlikely hero Komuro, his ex girlfriend but still love interest Rei, Kendo star pupil Busujima, genius Saya, Hirano the nerdy gun nut and the dumb big titted school nurse must escape the school and head for the city to see if they can find their parents.

High School of the Dead actually tells a pretty good zombie story filled with awesome fast and energetic fight scenes, and plenty of zombie death. From zombies being beaten in with wooden swords and baseball bats, to being shot through the skull with nailguns, rifles and even a drill at one point, there is plenty of blood and violence throughout. The story holds it own well, too, with some good relationships between the characters and good emotional drama to move the plot along and break up the zombie slaughter, there is even the odd bit of humour too.

However the main downside to High School of the Dead is the painfully obvious attempts at titillation. Even from the opening credits were shown obvious panty shots, bras and torn clothing to expose the very well endowed girls. This only gets worse as the series progresses, with the bath scene in episode six deserving special mention with all the girls squeezing and playing with each other’s jubblies before then trying to come on to the men and wearing very skimpy pyjamas or clothing. This almost spoils what is essentially a good zombie story by making it trashy, rather than a cool guns and boobs action series. However, if one can overlook this and appreciate the actual storyline and action, then this is a treat for anime fans.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Violence:
Lots of zombie death both in the form of being bitten as well as being shot or bashed in the skull.
Sex/Nudity: You see boobs but apart from that it is mostly skimpy clothing and lingerie.
Swearing: Lots of uses of "fuck" and other strong language
Summary: An excellent anime series filled with action and a pretty well written story that is let down for trying to dilute the experience with poor titillation. Worth looking into if you love your zombies and your anime. 8/10
Halloween: The Inside Story
Go Entertain
Available Now
Review by Blake Harmer

One of the most influential horror movies of our time, John Carpenter’s Halloween popularised the slasher flick genre and made horror films what we know and love today. Here this documentary looks into the success of the film and the story of its creation.

The documentary goes quite in depth into the making of Halloween and benefits from having direct interviews with the actors of the film and John Carpenter himself, rather than some cheaper documentaries that rely on secondary sources. The documentary even has fans of the films talk about the film, including Rob Zombie (who directed the 2007 remake). The documentary also benefits from covering multiple aspects of the film, from how it became successful, to how John Carpenter made the film with very little experience in film making to the experiences of the actresses involved with making the movie.

The only downside to the documentary is that I did find it to be a bit too Americanised for my liking, with constant clips or excerpts from the film, and feeling the need to reshow certain bits. Also, I felt that the documentary loses its focus a couple of times and kept falling back on things it had already mentioned in previous parts of the documentary, but this could again be because of its American TV style format.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Violence:
None in the actual documentary, obviously, but it does show a lot of the murders shown in Halloween.
Sex/Nudity: None.
Swearing: A few, but not really strong.
Summary: An insightful look into the original Halloween and worth a watch if you’re a fan. Sure it’s not without its flaws, and its format could be better, but this is still an entertaining look into a horror classic. 7/10

TWILIGHT ZONE GIVEAWAY



To the delight of fans throughout the UK, Season 4 of the original series of The Twilight Zone is out now. This timeless classic is available for the first time ever in high-definition Blu-ray, as well as digitally remastered DVD formats.

Season 4 of this iconic series moved from half-hour episodes to eighteen hour-length TV episodes and included appearances by Dennis Hopper (He’s Alive) and Robert Duvall (Miniature).

Delve into the world of Twilight Zone over on the friendly official forum!

And if you need to refresh your memory as to just how good The Twilight Zone is we're giving you the amazing chance to win the first three volumes of the show on Blu-ray!

Thanks to our friends at Cult Labs, we've got a copy of The Twilight Zone: Series One to Three on Blu-ray to give away! For your chance of winning, send your name and full postal address to emotionally14@hotmail.co.uk before midday on Friday 7th October, making sure to put "Twilight Zone" as the subject. The first entry out of the electronic hat after the competition closes will receive a copy of this awesome prize!

Don't forget to put "Twilight Zone" in the subject line. Incorrectly labelled or blank entries will be discarded.

The Twilight Zone: Season Four is available now, courtesy of Cult Labs.

Entries limited to one per household. Offer open only to postal addresses in the UK and Ireland.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Dickass DM

Remember good, old-fashioned gamebooks? They promised all the fun of a role-playing game, with none of the social interaction - what more could a teenage boy desire? The thing is, that while the gamebook became a great gaming experience in its own right, the only RPG it could possibly have simulated was one being GM'd by Satan himself. 90% of decisions led to certain death, and combat was often fatal.

Satan wasn't available, so Brad will be GMing Rob through an RPG based on the classic Joe Dever gamebook Freeway Warrior II: Mountain Run. Brad is the DM, and Rob plays his character, Brag Phoenix.

Catch up with previous Dickass DM installments here!
Brad: One bears the lion's head mark of the Detroit Lions clan; the other is emblazoned with the long-horned steer skull symbol of the Angelions clan. From your location opposite the entrance you overhear two Angelinos talking. You learn that some sort of motorcycle race is to take place here this afternoon, to celebrate the signing of a pact between the two clans.
Now you feel sure that Mad Dog and Kate are here somewhere inside the stadium, and you apply yourself to finding a way in. After watching the entrance for over an hour, only two options appear open to you.
Rob: I made entrances appear?! Is this Inception?
Brad: You can try to hide in one of the trucks that are carrying spares for the clansmen's bikes, in the hope that they will enter the stadium before the race; or you can attempt to scale the stadium wall at one of the many places where it has partially collapsed.
Rob: I attempt to climb over the wall. For all I know, those trucks are being driven to a burning...place.
MCSPINDLE: You're carrying how much crap and the wall is how high?
Brag: Not high enough.

Brad: There is a loud cheer as the stadium gate opens, then the waiting bikers start up their machines and begin entering in single file. Amid all this activity you leave your hiding place and cross the wide avenue that encircles the stadium. None of the clansmen appears to notice as you walk boldly around to the east side of the arena, to a place where a large section of the wall has collapsed, leaving a heap of rubble that rises to within ten feet of the remaining wall.
Rob: Awesome.
Brad: The coast is clear and so, with the blood pumping loudly in your ears, you clamber to the top of the heap and attempt to scale the wall.
Rob: All good so far.
Brad: You manage to pull yourself over the wall and gain access to the stadium without being seen.
Rob: Did I make a jangling sound as I landed?
Brad: You sure did, in my head. From a position high among the tiers, you look down at the rows of empty seats that encircle the dusty arena and observe the preparations taking place around the perimeter track. This stadium once hosted international sporting events, many of which were televised and beamed live around the world.
Brag: Ooh, are they going to play a sport?
Brad: Now it plays host to a sporting event of a very different kind. The Angelinos have challenged the Lions to put forward four of their best riders for a twenty-lap motorcycle race around the arena. The track itself reminds you of an old film you saw when you were a child, a film about the wild chariot races that took place in Ancient Rome.
MCSPINDLE: The Phantom Menace?
Brag: Probably. Amazing how many things remind me of that.

Brad: Today's event is meant to be a friendly challenge to celebrate the signing of their alliance, but with clan honour at stake the race will ubdoubtedly be run in deadly earnest. Facing you, on the far side of the stadium, is the glass-fronted observation block that was once used by tleevision and radio commentators. Your curiosity is aroused...
MCSPINDLE: Wa-hey!
Brag: Hey, I have to call it something.
Brad: ...when you notice that the door to the block is heavily guarded. Fixedly you stare at its full-length windows and count five occupants: four clansmen and one blonde-haired girl. You cannot see her face clearly, but you have a strong feeling that the girl is Kate Norton.
Brag: Wasn't she a brunette?
MCSPINDLE: I hope you're right this time. Remember those times we rescued Lady Gaga by mistake?
Brag: I do indeed. I made sure to fuck her in the arse, so I wouldn't get asked if she had a penis.
MCSPINDLE: You're right...I think she was brunette. Unless that was just us making an assumption. Brunettes are hotter.

Brad: The race is about to begin. Eight bikers are drawn up in a line at one end of the arena, each man standing astride his machine and revving its engine in response to the loud cheers of the clansmen watching. The riders have their eyes fixed on a pot-bellied Angelino who is perched atop a wooden tower in the centre of the track.
Brag: Hey fatty! Good luck in the race! Fatty!
Brad: Above his head he holds a checkered flag, and, as he brings his arm down, the crowd screams and the riders surge away from the line. Under cover of the noise and commotion of the race, you approach the observation block. An enclosed corridor leads to a flight of iron stairs where two burly clansmen - one an Angelino, the other a Detroit Lion - stand on guard with machine pistols at the ready. At the top of the stairs is the door to the block itself. The noise of the crowd and the roar of the motorbikes have helped you so far, but the race is now into its fourteenth lap, and you know that if you are to succeed in freeing Kate you must get past these guards and storm the observation block before the race ends.
MCSPINDLE: Breaking the Law!
Brad: To your left you notice the open doorwar of an empty locker room and quickly you slip inside to avoid being seen by the two guards. In order to reach the observation room door you will have to deal with these guards as quickly and efficiently as possible. A glance into the corridor establishes their position before you act. Automatically, you check to see that your safety catch is set on 'Fire'. Then you take a deep breath as you get ready to make your move.
Rob: This gun shoots fire?!
MCSPINDLE: Jesus...

Rob: Use my pistol.
Brad: On a count of three you step out into the corridor, raise your pistol, and fix your sights on the guard who is standing to the left of the stairs. You fire a body shot and see him twist backwards, clutching his chest. Then you swing across to his partner, knowing only too well that you must make your second shot count just as effectively.
Rob: Which is why I choose now to do a behind the back shot!
Brad: But his reactions prove razor-sharp, and when you do get him in your sights you are shocked to find that you are staring at the muzzle of a machine pistol! In what is a split-second reaction, you throw yourself to the ground as the guard opens fire.
Brag: Protect me, ground!
Brad: It is a move that saves your life. Soft nosed bullets whistle past your head and ricochet off the walls as you struggle to bring your gun to bear once more. You squeeze off a snap shot and immediately the machine gun fire ceases as the guard, mortally wounded, keels over backwards and slumps to the ground. Now you are back on your feet and rushing forwards, but as you reach the iron staircase and begin to climb, you see the observation room door start to swing open.
MCSPINDLE: Everything okay?
Brag: How did you get...never mind.
MCSPINDLE: The CB? Remember?

Brad: Drawing on your reserves of nervous energy, you race up the last few steps and lash out at the door with the sole of your boot. The door flies wide open and slams against the wall, sending the red-headed clansman who was about to investigate the noise, sprawling flat on his back.
Rob: Phew, I was worried I just broke Kate's hand.
Brad: Inside the observation room you see two men - one dressed in a flamboyant mix of bright colours and the other attired in sombre black - seated at a table with a map of the United States spread before them. A muscular clansman, his chest criss-crossed with cartridge belts, stands behind the man in black and beyond him, huddled in the corner of the room, is Kate. Clearly she has suffered at the hands of Mad Dog Michigan and the sight of her bruised face and her pained, dispairing expression stirs you to a fit of rage.
Brag: She was fuckable before!
Brad: For a frozen moment the room is deathly quiet, then the man in black barks an order and the bullet-belted clansman rushes forward, drawing a wide-bladed bowie knife as he runs.
Brag: Alright, bring it on and then I'll take on...Alcatraz?!
Alcatraz: Phoenix?!
Brad: The clansman unsheathes his knife and slashes at your throat with a wide sweep of his tattooed arm. You duck beneath this vicious swipe, and before he can catch you with a back-handed slice, you drive your fist into his stomach.
Brag: Taste my fist, Anusdriver!
Brad: He doubles over and staggers back, but he ercovers quickly and springs forward with unexpected speed, his vice-like fingers scrabbling to get a grip on your neck.
RUNNING COMBAT:
Brag: Let's do this!
TO BE CONTINUED...

THE GREAT OUTDOORS CAN BE MURDER


Tucker & Dale Vs Evil is a hilariously gory, horror comedy, doing for killer rednecks what Shaun of the Dead did for zombies. Tucker and Dale (Alan Tudyk and Tyler Labine) are two best friends on vacation at their dilapidated mountain house, who are mistaken for murderous backwoods hillbillies by a group of obnoxious, preppy college kids. When one of the students gets separated from her friends, the boys try to lend a hand, but as the misunderstanding grows, so does the body count.

Tucker & Dale Vs Evil has been a hit on the festival circuit, debuting at Sundance, and winning the Midnight Audience Award at SXSW, the Jury Prize for First Feature at Fantasia, the Best Director award at Fantaspoa, and the Best Motion Picture Award at Sitges.

Thanks to our friends at Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, we've got three copies of Tucker & Dale Vs Evil on Blu-ray to give away! For your chance of winning, send your name and full postal address to emotionally14@hotmail.co.uk before midday on Friday 7th October, making sure to put "Tucker & Dale" as the subject. The first three entries out of the electronic hat after the competition closes will receive a copy of this awesome movie!

Don't forget to put "Tucker & Dale" in the subject line. Incorrectly labelled or blank entries will be discarded.

Tucker & Dale Vs Evil is available from Monday 26th September, courtesy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

Entries limited to one per household. Offer open only to postal addresses in the UK and Ireland.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Gaming Reviews - Gears of War 3

Gears of War 3
Epic Games/Microsoft Games Studios
Available now on Xbox 360 only
Review by Rob Wade

Editor’s Note: Due to a lack of Home broadband, this review does not contain any experiences of Internet play. The review contains write-ups of online-only modes, but no impressions. However, single-player games of Beast Mode and Horde mode were played. It’s also important to know that due to being a complete bad-ass, I was able to finish Beast Mode by myself. Here’s the victory screen. I’m literally telling as many people as I can.

It has been two years since the fall of Jacinto. The COG is in complete disarray. Deep beneath the surface of planet Sera, a fearsome new threat, the Lambent, is infecting the planet from within. With survivors scattered and civilization in ruins, time is running out for Marcus Fenix and the soldiers of Delta Squad, as they seek a way to win the war and decide the future of humanity.

If you ask an Xbox 360 gamer about Gears of War, you’ll doubtless receive a response that falls into a small number of categories. Those who have played it and didn’t like it are fair enough, as tastes tend to be different from gamer to gamer. However, there’ll be a decent number who write the game off without even having given it a fair shake. Dismissing it as a “bro” shooter, mainly (I suspect) due to shooters of a similar look like Army of Two, a lot of people seem to think that Gears of War is cut from the same cloth. The irony, of course, is that those same people undoubtedly contain a large number of Call of Duty players, one of the richest sources of gung-ho pro-US bollocks in the gaming catalogues of all the systems. (To clarify, I’m not against pro-US sentiment in games, but found it to have been done significantly better in Homefront).

Anyway, for those who enjoy the series, Gears of War does many things. One of the things it hasn’t been so good at doing is balancing its storytelling. Often in the previous 2 games, players would ramp up with some serious action sequences and then be shoehorned into an emotional scene which didn’t fit quite right. Those with knowledge of the previous games will probably be able to pinpoint some of the exact scenes to which I refer without any real problem. However, rest assured: Although the balance still isn’t always 100%, the game does a much better job of giving some real emotion to the scene. Funnily enough, the methods don’t seem to have changed, as you still see some of the most poignant scenes after some intense firefights. What seems to have changed is the intensity of the scenes, which carries on the frantic pace of the firefights and hits the emotions of the player in just the right way to tug at the heartstrings a little. It’s not quite enough to bring a tear to one’s eye, if you ask me, but considering the tone of the game it’s pretty damn well done.

The story, overall, is really well told, and the good news for players either unfamiliar with the franchise or who haven’t caught up with the storyline recently, there’s a recap video which also encompasses events from other media such as the accompanying books. What made this one the strongest for me was that there was a lot more effort going towards development of some of the fringe characters. The personal favourite of mine was Cole reliving his glory days as a Thrashball player during the first act, which came about as close to making me well up as any of the cut scenes in this game.


The story is of a pretty decent length as well, it has to be said. Considering that its main competitors (some of the other shooter games with the 3 attached, for instance) are of the more multiplayer-heavy balance, and as such contain less in the way of storyline length, Gears of War 3 retains the level of balance of its predecessors and contains a storyline of around 12-15 hours. Also of note is the Arcade scoring mode, which gives the player a Horde-like HUD and displays the scores gained for kills and assists. Adding even more value to the mix for the online-wary player are four difficulty levels, as well as the ability to play two-player in split-screen, a mode which is rapidly becoming less and less prevalent as online numbers increase. Of course, let’s not forget Horde and Beast mode (the latter of which I conquered by myself – did I mention that already?)

However, if you find yourself with Xbox Live Gold and a bunch of friends, then Gears of War 3 justifies its value all over again. Ignoring the competitive modes (Which I sort of had to, but am happy to talk about again once home broadband returns to my flat), there’s absolutely tons of content here. The Campaign mode can be played with up to four players co-operatively, adding a fair bit of length to it (with achievements, naturally). The Arcade scoring mode comes into its own at this point, as players can make use of humanity’s natural desire for one-upping each other and be complete dicks about scoring higher than their friends. Players can also earn “mutations” which add additional conditions to the game much like skulls in Halo. These can either provide additional challenge, such as removing ammo drops from the levels, forcing players to scavenge from corpses, or they can just be for fun (like the intriguingly named “Laugh track”). These, too, can be added to a number of different modes, such as Arcade and Horde.

Returning, too, is Horde mode, with some significant adjustments. Players now choose themselves a base location, and can upgrade the surrounding area with things like spiked barriers and turrets. The cash for these upgrades can be obtained by getting kills and assists during the individual rounds, and the upgrades add a layer to the previous game which almost takes it into the realm of a tower defence game. There are also new challenges which reward the player for performing a certain number of kills or a certain type of execution. From what I played of it, the new mechanics work really well, rewarding the player with improved versions of each defensive countermeasure the more they’re used. I can only assume (and hope) that it’s a little easier with multiple players.

Beast Mode is a brand new mode, making its debut in Gears of War 3. Teams of up to five players take on the role of Locust soldiers, taking on waves of soldiers with a time limit in which to wipe out the entire squad. Time and cash is added for each successful kill or destroyed countermeasure, and the team can purchase more powerful units as they progress through the waves in order to deal with the defending COG soldiers’ increasingly powerful weaponry.


All this and we’ve not even talked about the technical side of things yet. Graphically, the game is unsurprisingly superb. I say ‘unsurprisingly’ because Epic Games make the Unreal Engine, which is used to power the game, so it’s hardly surprising that they can use it to make the game look great, and the game looks really fluid in motion. It doesn’t get said enough when a game retains its visual fidelity despite having a lot of fast-paced action going on at once, but Gears of War 3 does it. Having said that, this game suffers from a peculiar problem I’ve noticed many times on games using this engine, one of texture pop-in, where the main shapes come in but the detail is missing. It’s a strange issue, and it doesn’t come in too often, but when it does it can be a little jarring.

Another thing which doesn’t get mentioned often enough is the strength of the sound in this game. From the music, expertly penned and used really well, to the strong voice acting across the board, all the way to the sound effects, the game is incredibly strong in this department. What’s also good is that the voice acting doesn’t feel overblown, even during the particularly dramatic parts.

If I can precise one downside to this game, and I suppose I should for the sake of objectivity, it’s that for me the ending just didn’t sit 100% right. The frustrating thing for me is that I cannot tell you for the life of me why it doesn’t. I couldn’t tell Cliffy B, the Design Director himself. I would look him in the eye and say “Cliff, you glorious bastard, I cannot tell you why, but it just doesn’t feel right.” Without going into too much detail, maybe it’s just that the story feels conclusive, and I know that this story arc is done with. Ultimately, it’s been a considerably awesome ride.

Overall, I’d say that this is an absolutely essential purchase for fans of the series, and I would suggest that you almost certainly own it already, and certainly should if you don’t. If you’re not traditionally a fan of the series, and it’s for any other reason than being a fanboy of something else, then I’d urge you to check it out, particularly if you’ve never been into the other games at all. There is an absolute fuckton of content here, and it’s all good. It’s all really good.

The Emotionally Fourteen Games Rating
Graphics: Some stunning detail, but still suffers from some pop-in.
Sound/Music: One of the more underrated elements of the game, and it’s used to great effect here, as is the always-strong voice acting.
Gameplay: The best third-person cover shooter franchise, almost predictably, delivers a really strong third-person cover shooter.
Lasting Appeal: This game can literally last you as long as you want it to. One of the most densely-packed games I’ve seen since Halo: Reach.
Summary: A fitting end to what has been one of the true blockbusters of gaming this generation. Utterly unmissable. 10/10

ENTER THE MIND OF A SERIAL KILLER...YOU MAN NEVER COME BACK


Based on the Thomas Harris novel Red Dragon and directed by Michael Mann (Heat), Manhunter is a gripping psycho-thriller, and the on screen debut of the infamous character Hannibal Lecktor.

Will Graham (William Petersen) retired from the FBI after capturing the murderous Dr. Lecktor (Brian cox). He is persuaded to return from retirement by his colleague Jack Crawford, who convinces him his ability to understand the thoughts of a murderer can help them to capture elusive serial killer, 'The Tooth-Fairy'.

Facing the desperate and grisly task, Graham employs the help of Hannibal Lecktor and thus puts himself at the mercy of a ruthless and sinister genius. Soon, with the caressing help of the murderous doctor, Graham finds himself courting danger as he opens himself up to the mind of a killer.

Thanks to our friends at Studio Canal, we've got three copies of Manhunter on Blu-ray to give away! For your chance of winning, send your name and full postal address to emotionally14@hotmail.co.uk before midday on Thursday 6th October, making sure to put "Manhunter" as the subject. The first three entries out of the electronic hat after the competition closes will receive a copy of this awesome movie!

Don't forget to put "Manhunter" in the subject line. Incorrectly labelled or blank entries will be discarded.

Manhunter is available from Monday 26th September, courtesy of Studio Canal.

Entries limited to one per household. Offer open only to postal addresses in the UK and Ireland.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Red Weed

EPISODE XVIIIa: UNDER FOOT


In the first half of the amazing and hilarious How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Red Weed, I have wandered so much from my own adventures to regale you with The Saga of Mycroft that all through the last three months of your time, I and the curate have been lurking in the empty house at Halford where we fled to escape the Black Smoke. Shall we continue? Great.

We stopped there all Sunday night and all the next day — the day of the panic — in a little island of daylight, cut off by the Black Smoke from the rest of the world. We could do nothing but wait in an aching inactivity during those two weary days. We played one-hundred and thirty-eight games of Boggle.

I have to admit that I was worried about Enid. I paced the rooms and suplexed the priest whenever I thought of how I was cut off from her, and of all that might happen to her in my absence. I knew my cousin was brave enough for any emergency, but he was not the sort of man to realize danger quickly, dozy fucker that he was. My only consolation was to believe that the Marsians were moving Londonward and away from her. I grew very weary and irritable with the curate's perpetual moaning; I tired of the sight of him and his stupid face. After some ineffectual remonstrance I kept away from him, staying in a room that evidently a children's school-room. When, at last, he followed me thither, I went to a box-room at the top of the house, hoping desperately that he’d get the shitting hint.


We were hopelessly hemmed in by the Black Smoke all that day and the morning of the next. There were signs of people in the next house on Sunday evening — a face at a window, and moving lights, and later the slamming of a door. But, to be fair, that could have been a poltergeist.

A Marsian came across the fields about mid-day, laying the stuff with a jet of superheated steam that hissed against the walls, smashed all the windows it touched, and scalded the curate's hand as he fled out of the front-room. Which was nice. When, at last, we crept across the sodden rooms and looked out again, the country northward was as though a black snowstorm had passed over it. Looking towards the river, we were astonished to see an unaccountable redness mingling with the black of the scorched meadows.

For a time we did not see how this change affected our position, save that we were relieved of our fear of the Black Smoke. But later I perceived that we were no longer hemmed in, that now we might get away. So soon as I realized that the way of escape was open, my dream of getting away from Father Irritating returned. But the curate was lethargic and unreasonable.

"We are safe here." he repeated; "Safe here."

I should have left him then and there. Wiser now for the artilleryman's teaching, I sought out food, drink, firearms and emergency pornography. When it was clear to him that I meant to go alone—had reconciled myself to going alone—he suddenly roused himself to come. And, all being quiet throughout the afternoon, we started about five o'clock, as I should judge, along the blackened road to Sunbury.


In Sunbury, and at intervals along the road, were dead bodies lying in contorted attitudes—horses as well as men—overturned carts and luggage, all covered thickly with black dust. We got to Hampton Court without misadventure, our minds full of strange and unfamiliar appearances, and at Hampton Court our eyes were relieved to find a patch of green that had escaped the suffocating drift. We went through Bushey Park, with its deer going to and fro under the chestnuts, and some men and women hurrying in the distance towards Hampton, and so we came to Twickenham. These were the first people we saw.

Away across the road the woods beyond were still afire. Twickenham was uninjured by either Heat-Ray or Black Smoke, and there were more people about here, though all appeared mildly retarded. For the most part they were. Like Father Irritating.

I have an impression that many of the houses here were still occupied by scared inhabitants, too frightened even for flight. Here, too, the evidence of a hasty rout was abundant along the road. I remember most vividly three smashed bicycles in a heap, pounded into the road by the wheels of subsequent carts. Or larger, angrier bikes. We crossed Richmond Bridge about half-past eight. We hurried across the exposed bridge, of course, but I noticed floating down the stream a number of red masses, some many feet across. I did not know what these were—there was no time for scrutiny — and I put a more horrible interpretation on them than they deserved. Here, again, on the Surrey side, were black dust that had once been smoke, and dead bodies — a heap near the approach to the station; but we caught not a sight of the Marsians until much later.


We saw in the distance a group of three people running down a side street towards the river, but otherwise it seemed deserted. Richmond town was burning briskly; outside the town there was no trace of the Black Smoke.

Then, suddenly, as we approached Kew, came a number of people running, and the upper-works of a Marsian fighting-machine loomed in sight over the house-tops, not a hundred yards away from us. Father Irritating stood aghast at our danger, and had the Marsian looked down we must immediately have perished. We were so terrified that we dared not go on, but turned aside and hid in a shed in a garden. This was, of course a bad move; the curate crouched, weeping silently, and refusing to stir again.

But my idea of reaching Leatherhead would not let me rest, and in the twilight I ventured out again. I went through a shrubbery, and along a passage beside a big house standing in its own grounds, and so emerged upon the road towards Kew. The curate I left in the shed, but he came hurrying after me. Fuck my luck.

That second start was the most foolhardy thing I ever did. For it was manifest the Marsians were about us. No sooner had the curate overtaken me than we saw either the fighting-machine we had seen before or another, far away across the meadows in the direction of Kew Lodge. Four or five little black figures hurried before it across the green-gray of the field, and in a moment it was evident this Marsian pursued them. In three strides he was among them, and they ran radiating from his feet in all directions. He used no Heat-Ray to destroy them, but picked them up one by one. Apparently he tossed them into the great metallic carrier which projected behind him, much as a workman's basket hangs over his shoulder.

It was the first time I realized that the Marsians might have any other purpose than destruction with defeated humanity. We stood for a moment petrified, then turned and fled through a gate behind us into a walled garden, fell into, rather than found, a fortunate ditch, and lay there, scarce daring to whisper to each other until the stars were out.

And he totally kept trying to put his hand in my pocket.

TO BE CONTINUED...

Words: Brad Harmer & H.G. Wells
You can become Brad's "friend" on Facebook, or you can "follow" him on Twitter. Depends how creepy you want to sound really.


SOUTH PARK: SEASON FOURTEEN GIVEAWAY


All twelve, internationally-broadcast episodes from South Park's fourteenth season are packed into this exclusive three-disc set.

Join Stan, Kyle, Cartman and Kenny as they dive into social networking, defend against annoying Jersey "muff cabbage" and finally reveal the secret identity of Mysterion in an epic three-part saga. Top that with some never-before-seen deleted scenes and a little crème fraîche, and you've got a collection that will leave you drooling. Shablagoo!!

Thanks to our friends at Paramount Home Entertainment, we've got two copies of South Park: Season Fourteen to give away! For your chance of winning, send your name and full postal address to emotionally14@hotmail.co.uk before midday on Wednesday 28th September, making sure to put "South Park" as the subject. The first two entries out of the electronic hat after the competition closes will receive a copy of this awesome movie!

Don't forget to put "South Park" in the subject line. Incorrectly labelled or blank entries will be discarded.

South Park: Season Fourteen is available now, courtesy of Paramount Home Entertainment.

Entries limited to one per household. Offer open only to postal addresses in the UK and Ireland.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Book Reviews

Star Wars: Choices of One
Timothy Zahn
Century

Available Now – Hardback (£18.99)
Review by Brad Harmer

Eight months after the Battle of Yavin, the Rebellion is in desperate need of a new base. So when Governor Ferrouz of Candoras Sector proposes an alliance, offering the Rebels sanctuary in return for protection against the alien warlord Nuso Esva, Luke, Leia, Han, and Chewie are sent to evaluate the deal. Mara Jade, the Emperor’s Hand, is also heading for Candoras, along with the five renegade stormtroopers known as the Hand of Judgment. Their mission: to punish Ferrouz’s treason and smash the Rebels for good. But in this treacherous game of betrayals within betrayals, a wild card is waiting to be played.

I was worried about Choices of One for the first hundred pages or so. The new characters didn’t really seem to add anything new to the series, and I’m getting more than a little jaded towards Star Wars novels in which all the characters are sent off to different planets and “oh, my god, what a coincidence” they all spend the bulk of the time on the same planet, blissfully unaware of each other until near the end.

Thankfully, by the half-way mark, things had really ramped up. The last time there were this many double-crossings and second-guessings was when I went up against a Sicilian when death was on the line. As the story gathers pace, it becomes a really great “Star Wars does spy/action” story, with some fantastic character development – especially for Han Solo and Luke Skywalker. Zahn’s great at nailing the movie characters anyway, but he’s really on form with this one.

The Emotionally Fourteen Rating
Violence:
Frequent explosions, fist-fights, lightsaber combat and gunfire.
Sex/Nudity: None.
Swearing: None.
Summary: Another great Star Wars adventure from Timothy Zahn. A slightly slow start and a few plot ‘conveniences’ stop it from being perfect, but still highly enjoyable. 8/10

EROTIBOT GIVEAWAY


Can love prevail over sex, money, androids, and ninjas?

Erotibot is the latest film from the production company behind the powerful earth, shattering Big Tits Zombie & ultra bloody gorefest The Horny House of Horror.

Tamayo (Mahiro Aine) is so adorable! From the time she was small she has been treated as the ultimate princess! Tomayo, is heiress to her wealthy family's fortunes. In order to protect her from outside danger she is looked after by three android bodyguards. The first android is masterful and good looking. The second has beastlike strength, and the third is a clumsy misfit who can't seem to get anything right. He fantasises over his mistress and is adored by her. Together, the three androids help detect danger, and serve Tomayo during the day, and occasionally engage in after-dark 'bedroom protection' as well... Life is good!

Meanwhile another family member, Tsukiyo (Japanese AV star Maria Ozawa) who is jealous of Tomayo, hires a private detective to spy on her. He uncovers a dark secret that Tomayo is in fact the "bastard daughter" of a servant. When Tsukiyo discovers this, she is consumed by rage believing Tomayo to be an embarrassment to the family and not 'pure blood'. Along with her servant Azami (Robogeisha), she plots to regain the inheritance she believes to be hers! Can she distract the three Androids long enough to exact her plan?! Who will the Androids serve in the end?! Which Android will win Tamayo's love?!

Thanks to our friends at Bounty Films, we've got two copies of Erotibot to give away! For your chance of winning, send your name and full postal address to emotionally14@hotmail.co.uk before midday on Tuesday 27th September, making sure to put "Erotibot" as the subject. The first two entries out of the electronic hat after the competition closes will receive a copy of this awesome movie!

Don't forget to put "Erotibot" in the subject line. Incorrectly labelled or blank entries will be discarded.

Eortibot is available from Monday 26th September, courtesy of Bounty Films.

Entries limited to one per household. Offer open only to postal addresses in the UK and Ireland.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Dickass DM

Remember good, old-fashioned gamebooks? They promised all the fun of a role-playing game, with none of the social interaction - what more could a teenage boy desire? The thing is, that while the gamebook became a great gaming experience in its own right, the only RPG it could possibly have simulated was one being GM'd by Satan himself. 90% of decisions led to certain death, and combat was often fatal.

Satan wasn't available, so Brad will be GMing Rob through an RPG based on the classic Joe Dever gamebook Freeway Warrior II: Mountain Run. Brad is the DM, and Rob plays his character, Brag Phoenix.

Catch up with previous Dickass DM installments here!
Brad: An underground parking lot situated below the looted ruins of a Sears megamarket provides just such a safe haven, and it is here that you hide your car. You are tired after the rigours of your journey, so you decide to get a few hours sleep and attempt your rescue at first light. You awake shortly after dawn, your neck stiff and aching after an uncomfortable night's sleep.
Rob: I will insist on sleeping in car parks.
Brad: Little light is filtering from the surface of this underground lot, but there is sufficient for you to be able to take stock of your surroundings and make sure that you are alone. After checking your equipment, you leave The BragWagon and ascend to the surface, where you make a mental note of this location before beginning your trek towards the downtown stronghold of the Angelinos.

MCSPINDLE: Bye, then.
Brag: Laters.
MCSPINDLE: You think there are rabid ghouls down here?
Brag: My knowledge of Fallout says "Yes".
MCSPINDLE: How about Rakghouls?
Brag: Yes.
MCSPINDLE: How about Ras Al'Ghul?
Brad: It's times like this I wish there was one actor linking Fallout, Star Wars and Ras Al'Ghul, but I'm buggered if I can think of anyone.
Rob: I know...Ah wait! Nope, Ron Perlman wasn't in Batman.
Brad: Uh...Rob?
Rob: Yeah?
Brad: Do you remember the awesome 1990s Batman cartoon? The one with Mark Hamill as The Joker?
Rob: Yeah, I do.
Brad: Apparently Ron Perlman played Clayface.
Rob: No fucking shit, seriously?
Brad: According to Wikipedia: The Bastion of All Reliable Knowledge.
Rob: Awesome.
Brad: The heat is bearable at this early hour and you encounter no sign of the city's occupants as stealthily you make your way through tht eshattered streets. An hour later you reach the southern section of their perimeter wall and stop to observe those who are guarding it. They look like a motley group of criminals armed with an assortment of weapons and equipment, much of which appears rusty and incapable of functioning. All that identifies them as Angelinos is the symbol they wear on their jackets and T-shirts: the skull of a long-horned steer.
Rob: Balls.
Brad: After having studied the defences and watchd the guards for the better part of an hour, you decide that the best place to gain entry to the stronghold is through an office block that interrupts the perimeter wall.

MCSPINDLE: Hello?
Brad: The wooden planks that have been used to seal it are warped and split, and gaining entry to the building should not prove too difficult.
Brag: Hello...wait, how can I hear you?
MCSPINDLE: I just remembered you have a CB! Remember? Awesome! I can help from afar!
Brag: Great...So...
Brad: Patiently you wait for the right moment before you break cover and spring across the rubble-strewn street towards the main entrance.
MCSPINDLE: Breaking the law! Breaking the law!
Brag: Why do you always have that song in your head?
MCSPINDLE: Sorry, I was singing with my headphones on.
Brad: The rotten timbers are easily torn away from the front door and in minutes you have gained access to the building. In the middle of the lobby you discover a stainless steel replica of an oil derrick, standing twelve feet high, on which there is an inscription that reveals the former owners of the block:
THE LONE STAR OIL & GAS COMPANY


Brad: In order to emerge somewhere inside the perimeter wall, you must discover an exit on the north side of this building, so you set off in this direction. Beyond the lobby area you can see a row of elevator doors, and two corridors disappearing to the left and right.
Rob: Hmm...This will require some serious tho...Left.
Brad: This corridor services a number of offices and conference rooms before it ends at a wide staircase leading downwards. You descend three floors and discover the remains of a large private restaurant which, along with the kitchen, occupies most of the sub-basement level. A small 'fire exit' sign hangs over the double doors leading to the kitchen and you head straight for them.
Brag: Bollocks, and here's me inappropriately dressed.
Brad: As you are crossing the restaurant floor, your rumbling stomach reminds you that you have yet to eat anything today. Then the thought occurs to you that there could still be some canned food in the kitchen, and you decide to search it before you leave the building. You push open the doors and enter the gloomy kitchen. Out of the corner of your eye you notice a movement.
MCSPINDLE: Ewww.
Brag: This restaurant is failing its health review then...
Brad: You turn around and see a clansman crouching in front of a food locker, trying to prise the door open with the edge of a meat cleaver. He sees you and his eyes open wide with shock. Before you can draw a weapon and fire, he draws the cleaver back and hurls it at your chest. You dive aside, but your reactions are not quick enough to save you from the cleaver's spinning blade. It slices through the arm of your jacket and lays open half an inch of flesh below your right bicep.

Brag: Argh! That was my favourite half inch!
MCSPINDLE: What's going on there? I thought I could hear a small girl, crying?
Brag: She...ran...away...
Brad: You grit your teeth against the pain as you try to stand, but before you are back on your feet, the clansman comes rushing across the kitchen with a knife in his hand. Instinctively, you leap away from his first strike, and manage to kick the weapon away from his hand when he stabs at you a second time. Angered by your moves, he leaps for your throat and tries to drag you to the ground.
Brag: Well, stabbing me would've done fuck all...
RUNNING COMBAT:
He stabs a picture of you and says 'That's you, that is'.
You inform him of all the voice acting parts Ron Perlman has done, and his mind is blown.
Clansman is defeated.
Brag: Yeah, suck it Clansman!
Brad: The surly clansman clutches at his wounds, curses, then falls dead at your feet.
Brag: He fucking cursed me?!
Rob: I kick him.
Brad: Judging from the long-horned skull painted on the back of his leather vest, you have just laid to rest your first Angelino. On the floor close by, you find his weapons and equipment:

Machine Pistol (containing 18 x 9mm rounds)
+2 Knife
And a backpack, which holds the following items:
Flexible Saw
HE Grenade
Water Canteen (containing 1 1/2 pints of water)
Small Blanket
Three med-kits
Brad: In addition to these items, a search of the kitchen also reveals the following:
Rob: Right...
+3 Meat Cleaver
+2 Bread Knife
Enough canned food for up to five meals
Brad: Do you want to take anything?
Rob: Medkits, ammo, water, food.
Brad: You can take the water and medkits, but you're currently maxed on 40 mm ammo, and will have to drop items if you want to take any food. One meal takes up one space in your backpack.
Rob: 40mm?
Brad: Sorry, maxed at "40" on 9mm ammo. I have seen a 40 mm round, but I have been to Bovington Tank Museum.
Rob: Right.
Brad: So, just the medkits and water? Or are you dropping stuff for food?
Rob: I will drop the gold nugget and the spark plugs to take two meals. Scratch that, the nugget and the lighter.
Brad: Before leaving the kitchen, you hide the clansman's body in an empty refrigerator.
Brag: I must remember to do something funny next time I see a person.

Brad: Then you hurry through the fire escape door and make your way up a flight of rusty steps that leads to a service alley at the rear of the building. Your escape from the building goes unnoticed by the few clan patrols that are operating in the area. Alcatraz has brought most of his men up to the central and northern sectors, partly as a show of strength to Mad Dog Michigan and partly as a precaution in case Mad Dog's talk of an alliance turns out to be a bluff, and he is really here to try to take over the city. The further you venture north, the more clan activity you find, and you are forced to stay hidden longer periods as you snake your way through the ruins towards the centre of the stronghold.
MCSPINDLE: I spy, with my little eye...
Rob: How far am I going again?
Brad: You are working on the assumption that Kate is with Mad Dog Michigan, and he is likely to be found where the number of clansmen is greatest. Does that answer your question?
Rob: ...I guess...
Brad: It is shortly before noon when you catch sight of a building that dominates the centre of San Angelo - the Reagan Memorial Stadium. Score of motorcycles and their riders are gathered around its entrance where two large, tattered banners are fluttering symbolically in the breeze.
Brag: Seems like a fair few clansmen might be here...
TO BE CONTINUED...
Words: Brad Harmer & Robert Wade
Brad Harmer: Facebook Twitter
Rob Wade: Twitter
This is intended as a loving tribute to Joe Dever, the Freeway Warrior series, Slaughter Mountain Run/Mountain Run, and all other gamebooks of yesteryear.