Podlight: The Lovecraft Tapes (Podcast Recommendation)

Four years ago I was looking for a way to get into the tabletop RPG Call of Cthulhu, having already familiarized myself with the basics of a D100 system and was always a fan of HP Lovecraft’s work it sounded like it could prove to be a fun thing to run for my group someday as we all enjoyed horror as a genre of game, novel and film.

While scouring YouTube and Facebook for something worth checking out I actually stumbled upon The Lovecraft Tapes in the podcast app later that day on my cellphone. I decided to start from the first case / season (Lights, Cameras, Chaos)episode and never looked back.

The Lovecraft Tapes Logo (awesome Tees in the merch store)

The podcast is an actual-play series with a video and audio component in which the Keeper / Host Jeremy runs sessions of the Call of Cthulhu, with Matt, Bryan and George playing the roles of investigators in an episodic format. With George mysteriously disappearing after a case the boys would recruit the talents of Gabe to continue their investigative efforts. Jeremy’s narration and chemistry with the players make for enjoyable listening but also helps in explaining how the mechanics in the game works for novice players. The party banter never gets stale and the way they approach the problem solving keeps the game fresh from episode to episode.

The boys at Lovecraft Tapes have grown through the years and have an impressive back catalogue of content worth checking out for anybody who is a fan of COC or someone new to the system and looking for a fun way to figure out how you could run the game. Jeremy never overcorrects and lets his players doom themselves but that is what is the fun in this specific game, the party seldom makes it to next week yet here they manage to survive to laugh another day…for the most part.

Apart from providing listeners with the podcast they also have Recommendos where the guys review and recommend video games, movies and a wide range of other cool stuff worth checking out. They always give a shout out to indie stuff when they can and are very responsive to queries and emails which I can vouch for myself. I can only apologize that it took me this long to get around to doing a piece on these guys. I salute their commitment to the culture and fun and hope to hear more from them for many years to come. Even how they would interject comedic ancient one commercials would bring cool intermissions between bad rolls and horrific consequences was but one of the many ways the team crafted brilliant entertainment for all fans of the genre. If you are somebody who cannot get enough of COC or HP Lovecraft this could be that casual listening for your down time between plotting sessions or reading novels.

When I first started listening I must have binged through the first 3 investigations in no time as I was working a warehouse job which was tedious to put it mildly somewhere in the countryside of Sweden. With a nagging supervisor and coworkers who did not care too much about the new Slav I was left to my own devices and forklift. Jeremy and the guys played a huge part in me not letting the company’s BS affect me as much during the day to day grind as the provided enough humor and intrigue to keep me going through eps. I soon found myself downloading 2-3 episodes at home and looking forward to work just cause I knew I would go through more of the adventures. For that I am indebted to you bros and supremely grateful.

So for any of you looking to get a fix of audio horror within a comedic yet interesting narrative look no further than The Lovercraft Tapes. It is hard to bring light to unspeakable dark cosmic horrors such as the ones contained in the tomes printed by Chaosium and Delta Green but this team will bring you out the end of it with some good laughs and a smile on your face.

The site offers several tiers of support from a Student of Miskatonic to The Dreamlands granting you different levels of access from prior rewards and benefits to including opportunities to play videogames with the guys and even the chance to play an NPC in an episode of the podcast! This group of gamers have truly been able to translate their passion into something great that can be monetized and inspire us here at Nerd Dimension to stick with our passions and make sure to have fun on the journey.

If you would like to find out more about The Lovecraft Tapes and see how you could support them please do click the links bellow and make sure you like their page and subscribe. There is a ton of cool content on their website and more information about the now expanded team of contributors and players.

Patreon

YouTube Channel

Twitter

Discord

Funny Zombies.. Welcome to ZOMBIELAND!!

Talon presents on behalf of NerdDimension.Com The Zombieland Film Review [ThrowbackThursday]

ZOMBIELAND Film Review

by Talon

 

Zombieland is a R-Rated adventure horror comedy (now Zomedy or Zom Com) written by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick and directed by Ruben Fleischer released in 2009. The movie earned Best Horror Movie, Best Cameo (Bill Murray) and Best Ensemble at the Scream Awards. The film was shot and brought to market for $23.6 million then smashed the box office earning $102.4 million making it the most successful zombie movie ever released at the time. The winning ensemble comprises Jesse Eisenberg and Woody Harrelson as leads supported by Emma Stone with Abigail Breslin and we are treated to appearances by Bill Murray, and Amber Heard in a brief scene which really kick starts the movie.

Team
Paul Wernick, Rhett Reeese, Ruben Fleischer & Amber Heard

A road movie at heart set in a post apocalyptic earth thanks to an outbreak of a virus, related to Mad Cow Disease, which turns people into zombies. The ingredients of this film could have resulted in boring product but surprisingly the film works as an entertainment piece. Zombieland cemented its legacy along with Shaun of The Dead as one of few films which brought the Zomedy genre commercial success and prominence in the mainstream western market, as the far east especially Japan had been releasing zombie related games, literature and even zombie comedies throughout the 90s and early 00s.

F EAST
The House of The Dead, Versus, Resident Evil (Bio Hazard) & Bio Zombie

The movie begins with narrator Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), a student at the University of Texas, one of the few non-infected people as he breaks down his various rules for survival. Shortly we find him walking down a highway strewn with abandon cars when he encounters Tallahasse (Woody Harrelson), who is on a quest to reach Florida killing as many zombies en route as he can and if possible secure himself a Twinkie supply.

The two agree to team up for a portion of the journey before deciding to examine a grocery store in hopes of finding some Twinkie’s. After fighting off several zombies and finding no Twinkies they meet sisters Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) in the back of the shop, trying to help the ladies feigning distress our leads are conned and left without weapons or transport.

Shortly thereafter Tallahassee and Columbus in an attempt to set things straight track down their stolen SUV, where thanks to cliche Back Seat Inviso-Syndrome (where impossibly characters cant see people in the back-seat) the girls once more play the two leads. Fortunately Tallahassee swiftly turns the tables on the realistically outmatched femme duo and they decide to stick together until LA.

BILLY MURRAY
Bill Murray’s Residence, Ghostbusters Original Movie Poster & Bill Murray

The foursome arriving in Hollywood decide to find Billy Murray’s house using maps to the stars. Reaching the expansive Beverly Hills residence the crew split up, Columbus opting to show Little Rock Ghostbusters to show her who is the actor whose home they are squatting in, whilst also probing the kid for relationship info regarding her big sister. It is during this time we receive one of the most memorable cameos in film history but I do not wish to spoil it or the movie for you guys.

Unlike many movies of the horror genre Zombieland doesn’t suffer from overly pointless gory scenes, don’t get me wrong there is violence a plenty but the team doses it just right making the scenes amusing as they are action packed. Barring the back-seat reversal the cliches work well and are welcome, as is the kindling of potential romance between characters which doesn’t feel forced or contrived. There are seldom moments you feel for the characters and understand somewhat their intent adding needed respite from action and gags heightening the contrast between scenes.

Zombieland must have surprised both Columbia Pictures and Relativity Media with its box office success, both due to the genre being still fairly untapped in the US as well it being the feature film debut of Ruben Fleischer. I think because of the somewhat humble budget and a strong script (rewritten multiple times) the fairly established cast decided to sign on and I feel both production and cast pulled it off and am surprised the sequel came out just this year (2019).

The cinematography was spot on thanks to Michael Bonvillain, smart camera movement, angles and use of distance shots. The sound and score also helped bolster the theme and feel of film so a thumbs up to David Sardy and the Sound Deparment. The editing too was well done courtesy of Alan Baumgarten making Zombieland flow smoothly with no clutter, tight and compact.

crewwww
Alan Baumgarten, David Sardy & Michael Bonvillain

Eisenberg and Woody are both good actors and they pull off their roles masterfully. You believe that Jesse is the awkward nerd who compiled the rules list which pop up on screen throughout the film and Harrelson feels authentic as the macho tough guy on a rampage of vengeance.

Also enjoyable is the various ways in which the zombies are executed by the cast using a wide spectrum of equipment from guns to baseball bats and even gardening tools. There are even some truly bizarre comic instances which are rewarding to viewer.

The first time director possesses a great sense of timing and injects clever wit throughout the bloodbath of a film. As praised the cinematography is spot on really adding much to the feel of the film providing great visuals of different areas after the apocalypse. There are some poignant moments but don’t feel forced as mentioned and do not take away from the movies main goal which is to garner laughs.

The writers turned out a genre savy script and the meta feel of some scenes will be relished by cinephiles. I applaud most Bill Murray’s amazing cameo appearance which really steals the movie and is maybe one of the best cameos ever.

I feel the movie needed a little bit more something, maybe a little more character study or development but aside from that this movie succeeded in what it set out to do which is to entertain. This movie will be interesting to comedy fans especially of Zom Coms but also classic horror film aficionados.

I give the movie a score of :

3.75 / 5

All images used are property of Columbia Pictures, Relativity Media, Pariah and their associate/affiliates as well as numerous media outlets and I claim no rights over them.

Witch of Salem : Fun for 4 with a great theme [Board Game Review]

Mykal discusses one of his go to Horror tabletop games with Halloween coming up, maybe your group would enjoy Witch of Salem.

I first came across Witch of Salem (Mayfair Games ) designed by Michael Reineck (Pillars of Earth, Cuba: El Presidente) whilst watching a Dice Tower Top 10 with Tom Vassel and his buddies. I was searching for a coop board game with a good theme that did not take too long to set up and play yet still was interesting enough to my group that we play it again. Off the rip I liked the Cthulhu mythos with the it being the early 20th Century New England involving ancient ones, demons and intrigue.

My initial fears after playing Arkham Horror and Eldritch Horror (Fantasy Flight) was that I would pay a lot of money for a game that the group would not play enough to warrant its price. An issue for many people entering the hobby of board games especially those who intend to collect is the price on some of the best games are pretty steep, add in postage you are looking at a hefty some of cash for something you won’t get to use that offten. I have paid for games that I only ever got to play once and wished I could have got another honest opinion on the game before buying it. Board Game Geek did not have it scored too high (6.6) yet what I could read the game seemed straight forward, challenging and did have a tone of play that matched the theme.

The game’s designer Michael Reineck is a German designer who was nominated in 2008 for Designer of the Year, the year Witch of Salem was released along with some of his other projects. I could not find a website or social media page to dig up some more info but he has worked on more than 6 published board games and the list is nothing to sneeze at. The artwork (Franz Vohwinkel) even when looking at reviews seemed interesting as it did in Dragons Lair when I went to purchase it.The artwork looks great from the box to the cards to the map you play on with the right dark tones to bring the setting to life.

witch of salem spread 2

The box contains all your standard board game pieces, tokens, cards and a board with a manual to read which could have been streamlined a little more but was easy enough to comprehend. The game is limited to 4 players max and is a cooperative game involving strategy and combat. Not really a mystery game despite the description on the front of the box but the horror theme and the the progression mechanics are easy to use and build tension as time passes in the game.

This is a fun game and is pretty simple to learn after one playthrough. That being said, Witch of Salem is not an easy game and scales well for a maximum of 4 players. There are a variety of ancient ones you can find yourself grappling with as the time mechanics don’t seem to stress the players more rather keep the tension and pace consistent. Towards the end you and your players will have to come together to seal the gates and prevent the demons from entering our world. This is something you can play for a while as games seldom feel the same and it is great for a halloween board game before the movies or after dinner. I recommend this over Eldrith and Arkham as it plays faster, is taught easier and the price is fair considering what you get out of it. If you want something that will have you on the edge of your seat for most of the game and don’t want a million things to set up Witch of Salem is the horror coop game for you.

 

Rating: 8 out 10

I gave it a lower score because I feel that the game could be fun with more players and there were no expansions released. The rules are not as straight forward and all of the characters are the same with no significant diffirences in skills and abilities.

Aliens : Colonial Marines ( Xbox 360 Game Review ) * Couch COOP Gaming *

We take on the the Aliens in this splitscreen shooter, read more to see how we faired and what we think of one of the worst reviewed games in console history.

To clarify for all of our readers that the guy who wrote this review was a fan of Aliens from the jump. The first Aliens game I played was on Sega and I spent hours of my early teens in Lan gaming spots playing the first Aliens Versus Predator with an IV drip of soda and pyramids  of snack wrappers littering my immediate surroundings . All fandom aside this will be an honest critique of the game where the franchise history factored only slightly in regards to ‘theme’ and ‘story’. Having hear many negative things about the games AI I still held out hope when I heard writers from Battlestar Gallactica worked on the plot, trying to approach the game without bias proved harder than I expected.

It would be wrong to ignore the power a brand can have on influencing your first impression or motivations in purchasing a game. The Ridley Scott classic movies made Xenomorphs one of the most identifiable aliens in popular cultural putting them in the same category as ET, the Predator, the Grays and the green men from Mars. Every kid wanted to blast those aliens and if nothing this game promised you that out the gate.

Needless to say we were curious to see the campaign Sega managed to pull together with all the existing source material available and if would play as well as it should compared to previous shooters under the same brand. It was their second game after purchasing the franchise and took the developer Gearbox which had worked on a version for the Playstation 2 earlier butt hat project was scrapped. Sega had a lot of pressure to deliver and I would be lying if I said this game even came close. In fact after playing the game the first time I read that it was considered to be in the top 10 worst games of all time. This game was released in a time when Sega had long given up on consoles and were making the millions in intellectual property so they did not have that many games in the works.

Off the bat the graphics are not the best we have seen as the campaign opens with you and your player 2 getting briefed on the USS Sephora before things start blowing up. As expected for the classic first person title the controls are standard and easy to learn while the darkness and shadows are done well making it feel more authentic adding to the overall horror theme. Despite the graphics seeming kind of blocky in the some of the cut scenes when compared to other titles out at the time. The designers and developers dropped the ball so much that at a few times while playing I was genuinely disappointed because I expected more from Sega.

The are arsenal contains all time fan favorite pulse rifle with upgrades and gadgets to add to your enjoyment such as red dots beams, scopes and grenade launchers to boot. Shotguns, pistols and smart-guns make for more passionate slaying though we feel more weapons should have been offered and the option of dual wielding pistols would have been something good to see.

Its reminiscent of the newer Doom and its predecessors as my brother and I swept through corridors shredding xenomorphs while remaining silent and on edge. the tension adding to the immersion of the game. The game is not as easy as expected and will leave you frustrated but in a good way because you really want to pass that next checkpoint. We recommend having a 40″ TV or monitor and up minimum to be able to enjoy the splitscreen experience in the its fullness.

Sadly the game clocks short at 11 levels with an extra level with the Limited Edition we played. The game does have highs and lows as the short campaign, less than smooth graphics and no DLC or expansions leaves Aliens Colonial Marines with much to desire. The upside is that it is fun to play, it won’t have you as glued as Borderlands but there is something in the nostalgia of it that leaves you on the edge of the couch. The game is too dark at times and turning up the brightness highlights some of the bad graphics but after some fiddling you can reach a playable compromise. I feel Sega were banking on releasing something that could keep gamers interested in Aliens but failed in creating a classic game let alone breathe new life to such a titan of a franchise. Bodying waves to Aliens, acidic highlighter colored ooze splashing everywhere, covering your other players back and the gore and explosions will test even the best of friendships. There were time I found myself taking a smoke break after being frustrated at certain points in the game, partly because of my paper thin nerves and mostly because of glitches and some stupid game architecture. Be warned, if Left 4 Dead has you screaming at your teammates this might having you choking them !!! We strongly advise playing this with the lights down low and in coop because it seems to be intended to be played that way. The short campaign and difficulty in solo play points to this being a two player experience.

All in all a fun game, worth the purchase and can be found cheap second hand. You have to stick together so the coop is emphasized and is a must have if you are looking for something other than zombies and terrorists. A good game to play through a few times but don´t expect it to be in your top 20 and it will not be something you come back to often. However, I do enjoy pulling it out after I watch of the Aliens movies so there is always that.

Giving this game a rating of

5 out of 10

Let us not get it twisted or misconstrued, ACM is far from a good game but it passes the minimal requirements. If we look at the third gen console library you will be hardpressed to find that many couch coop titles and this is one of the less than 20 titles availible. With XBOX live and PSN removing other titles the list is even shorter so that helped give ACM that extra point to get it to a passing grade. The sound is on point and you do feel that paranoia when scanning corridors with your pulse rifle. The lack of weapons, customization and personalization is a downside along with no extra content to spice things for repeat play. We factored in how cheap you get a copy for and it does give a decent coop experience if you have run out of things to play. Despite the short campaign and visible glitches of the developers made this a game Sega probably wishes never came out. This is a game which you can buy for cheap and breeze through in less than a dozen settings but do not expect to revisit it much after you have finished it.

Stay tuned for more reviews on Aliens games that we will be posting and commenting on in our podcast and on this site. Let us know what you felt of the game, did the carnage even satisfy even the least bit? Was the the story as boring to you as it was for me? Did this leave a permanent dent in Sega and its legacy as a developer?

Spawn – The Anti Hero we all love

Find out more about your favorite anti hero, how he was created and how big he was for comics.

Some history…

Growing up  in the 90s and 00s I was lucky enough to have spent my young and formative years with my head in a comic and good hip hop in my Walkman (a portable music playing device for playing cassette tapes). The 90s to me will always be larger than life production, gritty writing and an age of wonder to me. I mean consoles, arcades, new comics, tv shows and blockbuster action movies were coming out non stop. So before we get into one of the greatest anti hero’s of all time allow me to set things up.

In 1992 Batman: The Animated series was on the air which would later be the dubbed the best animated series of all time. Sega & Nintendo buttons were being mashed and Activision’s original company Mediagenic filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy. This is the time in the aftermath of Frank Miller‘s legendary ‘The Dark Knight Returns‘ and Alan Moore’s masterpieces ‘The Watchmen‘ and ‘V for Vendetta‘ meaning comics witnessed a shift into more adult content with darker stories, sex and just grittier settings. Also remember that readers saw Superman die in 1993 and Venom get his own comic (interesting seeing as he was designed by Todd MacFarlane).  I say this so that a reader can attempt to envision the time and feel of that era that would later be dubbed The Dark Age or Iron Age of comics.

Todd MacFarlane and Image Comics

image-comics-logo
Image comics logo

Todd MacFarlane earned recognition first for his work on Marvel’s  ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ comic staying through the 80s for 28 issues and illustrated the first full appearances of the super villain ‘Venom’ as Edie Brock. The Canadian cartoonist and artist did not come out of nowhere, himself siting that he sent out more than 700 submissions in pinup size with next to no reaction from the publishers, mostly rejections. When he did get put on by the giant publisher he became a superstar in the world of comics. He would eventually part ways with Marvel due to their ‘work for hire’ policies towards their artists, in short they never got  percentages of sales or retained any Intellectual Property for the duration. Todd would join forces with other disenfranchised artists from the big publishers including: Jim Lee (X-men), Marc Silvestri (Wolverine) Jim Valentino (Guardians of the Galaxy) to name a few and veteran writer Chris Claremont (Uncanny X-men).  This group would reduce Marvel’s share price by $3.25 per share and they never turned back. Todd would mention in his own comics that he believed that artists deserved to be treated with respect by the publishers who made millions off their talent and not feel ripped off when a business relationship ended. Together Image comics would publish some of the best titles in comics including : Spawn, Witchblade, The Walking Dead and Saga. Image comics not only put out good product by renown artists but took a stand against corporations, their charter best says it:

  1. Image would not own any creators work; the creator retained it
  2. No partner interference either financially and creatively.

Enough said.

Spawn & Batman
Image Comics Todd MacFarlane

The birth of Spawn

After a life of full of murder, betrayal, pain and espionage serving his country he would get promoted to top assassin for the C.I.A. after saving the life of the president. Al is then murdered, by whom he knows not so during his journey through the inferno that is hell he makes one last plea, screams and begs for a chance to see his wife Wanda again. Needless to say making deals with demons never bodes well for the one signing on the line so Al returns to Earth, face looking like a badly burned burger drowned in scabs…yuck would be an understatement. Al is in a new body as his mind is tormented by flashbacks and memories of his great love. While trying to put all the pieces together he decides to crash in the alleys while becoming the protector of the homeless in the Bowery, a run down hood in New York. Gradually he learns he got stiffed in his deal returning 5 years after his death, his best friend knocked up his widow and he was celebrated a hero…I know, and believe me it get’s worse. I am trying to not spoil of the story or giveaway too much but I can say that every panel is worth the paper it’s printed on. Spawn means a lot to me because it challenged me as a young reader, opened my mind to new horizons concerning creativity and imagination. I mean hot angels waging war with demonic lords with New York City as the backdrop most of the time. Spawn fights Predators, Xenomorphs to Gotham’s caped crusader himself. Even the supporting cast are written well as you begin to empathize and relate to certain characters. Spawn is an ever evolving character and his universe is by far one of the most sinister in comics. Be sure to check out the first couple of issues and below I will include a link for you lazy cats out there who would rather watch the show. The movie was meh, but the HBO is a lot better and will give you a limited yet good idea of what to expect from the literature.

We encourage all our readers to supports publisher, designers and authors by at least checking out their sites if not through purchases.

 

MacFarlane

Image Comics

Goosebumps 2015 The Movie (Review and write up) R.L Stine starring Jack Black

Jack Black & R.L. Stine come together to leave you feeling like a kid again. Find out what we think of this soon to be classic.

While searching for something to watch this week I stumbled upon ‘Goosebumps‘ the movie and remembered reading about it before it went to theaters and could not believe I had missed it! I was genuinely surprised that I didn’t catch word of it or even see the trailer plugged on television. Having grown up reading the books then reading that Jack Black was starring in it I immediately made the call to watch it.

Today my car broke down first thing, effectively leaving me stranded at my folks place and the weather was horrendous leaving me with an opportunity to kick back in the room and watch the movie with no interruptions. I played the trailer to my brother who would be watching with me and he too said he was stunned that he had heard nothing about it until today.

Goosebumps

 

The story goes…  Zach (Dylan Minnette) comes to small town Madison Delaware where his mom is the new vice principal of his high school and just happens to move in next door to the legendary author R.L. Stine (Jack Black) and takes a romantic interest in his daughter Hannah (Odeya Rush) as they team up to battle against the characters from his books who have been let loose in suburbia.

If you ever read any of his work then the idea of mashing up all of his fiendish creatures into one movie is pretty stellar. Man Eating Plants to evil little garden gnomes, some of your favorite monsters make appearances and Jack Black playing R.L. seemed like movie gold to me. Well, until I heard Rob Letterman was behind the camera (Shark Tale & Gulliver’s Travels) I did got a little skeptic, after all Goosebumps were not really happy go lucky tales of joy from summer camp and a PG rating could prove fatal when you set high hopes for childhood classics. The budget was $50 Mil and it grossed north of $80 Mil  which is not too bad considering that the marketing was not that big but I would expect more for an author who is one of the best of our time. Yes, when a writer sells 400 Mil copies you have to tip your hat to him, especially if you ever read a copy for yourself.

Columbia Pictures produced a good movie which could be enjoyed by families and an adult audience with clever humor mixed in with great special effects. Rob throws you into it within the first seven minutes and the party does not stop, slow down or disappoint all the way to the end. This is a must watch for all Goosebumps fan if for not for the fun factor but for the nostalgia it awakens, watching them come to life was something take in. The shots are good, the tempo fast but not too fast and the writing is better than some of the ‘serious’ horror releases of late. I felt that it lost steam  in some places but that is my only qualm with the movie. I must thank Jack Black for doing a great job with this role and bringing his A game. I recommend it all the way and am hoping that Columbia decide to make another Goosebumps picture or perhaps a TV-Show in the years to come.

8 out of 10

  • Too Short
  • Steam is lost at some points which could have been easily avoided

 

Some of his works I would recommend for reading :

The Haunted Mask

Why I’m Afraid of Bees

Attack of the Mutant

Bottom Line : WATCH IT ! 

Please be sure to check out our social media page at NERD DIMENSION FB and tell us your favorite Goosebumps novel.

You can find out more about the legend at his website : www.rlstine.com