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Visual Clutter in Brutal Doom/Project Brutality

With Doom Eternal's (2020) release so close, I wanted to write about Doom in general. This piece critiques a two famous "mods" in the Doom community: Brutal Doom, and Project Brutality (B&B). At times I wish they had vastly different titles to help distinguish them. As to the exact differences between them, I'll let someone else explain.

What matters, here, is their general purpose: to "improve" the classic experience by making the Doom games harder, faster, and... prettier—a worthy goal, but also where my complaints mostly lie. Having tried Project Brutality back in 2017 I remember enjoying it, largely because the build I was using—whether through its own status of incompletion or my inability to install the more dubious aspects—was generally in the graphical style of the original Doom engine. This means pixels; so no particle effects, transparency or motion blur, etc.

One problem I have with with B&B is their current treatment of projectiles, gore…
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The Gothic in Metroid's Aesthetic, and a Super Metroid Remake?

I'd heard recently that a Super Metroid remake is in the works. I wanted to write about that, here, but also give my thoughts on remakes, and the idea as it pertains to the Gothic in videogames—specifically Metroid as a Gothic franchise.

Note: Written while listening to "Alien: Isolation ASMR."

Remakes are a curious business; they generally involve a great deal of reinvention, but try to preserve something in the bargain. For the Gothic, the thing being preserved is generally the "past." This falls in line with Metroid(1986-present). This sci-horror franchise might seem concerned with the so-called future. But it's also Gothic, fixated on the reimagined past.

This object can vary a lot, and has historically. For Walpole and the Neo-Gothic writers, the Gothic's sense of dislocated pastness came about through a cultivated aesthetic—of the medieval period distanced from actual history as it was understood in the 1700s; it took the form of castles, filled wi…

My Least Favorite Horror Movies?

I'm late with this post, and thought I'd give myself a little exercise this morning to try and speed things along. That is, what are my least favorite horror movies and why? To answer this question, I'll have to talk about movies more generally.

Unfortunately, if you asked me which movies these were by name, I wouldn't be able to tell you what they were. This is because, in my experience, even the so-called "worst movies of all time" generally have something to offer. Case in point, I grew up watching Plan Nine from Outer Space (1959). That movie is instantly special for having been such a horrible failure for all the right reasons. Yes, it's awful; but as Susan Sontag might put it, it fails in a way as to be enjoyed for the attempt, and for how seriously it was embarked upon.

So while I enjoy The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra (2001), it almost pales in comparison to the movies it tries so hard to lampoon. It's aware, and trying to fail by emulating a fail…

Super Metroid and Why It Matters (to Me)

Super Metroid (1994) is more than a game I remember fondly. It's a game that's helped shape and define my life over the course of twenty-five years.

I first remember it for the console itself. My twin received it for our eighth birthday and from then on out, we played it non-stop. Four brothers under the same roof, but only one controller. There wasn't always time to share, and often Ben, the eldest, took control. But after spending weeks trying to find power bombs, eventually Ben's patience wore out and I do recall have some opportunities to play (three save slots helped with this).

Of course, as time went on my brothers' interests went onto other games. But I remember always remembering Super Metroid fondly. Something about the non-linear world and lack of narration in-game was fascinating to me. Furthermore, being a huge fan of Alien (1979) and the protagonist Ellen Ripley from that movie, I always enjoyed the deliberate parallels between her and Samus Aran. The…

Alien (1979)'s Retro-Future Gothic Castle

Alien (1979) is a film I've seen so many times that I've lost count. I've watched it on laser disc, television, VHS, DVD, Blu-ray, and online. I've fallen asleep to it, or had it playing in the background while I do other things. I first saw it when I was nine, and continue to watch it into my thirties. Not as often, mind you, but I still return to the haunted Nostromo from time to time. I'll be stating my piece for a movie about which so much has already been said; nothing I'm saying will prove transcendental, but merely a different reaction inside the same system of differences.

But why is Alien so important to me when I've seen so many other movies, too? Alien is not a "perfect" movie; it has its flaws, to be sure. It is, however, a perfect example of Gothic horror. Any mistakes it does have don't stop it from working the way it was intended.

About a year ago, I saw Alien in theaters. I had memorized it by that point, but still had fun. How…

Happy! season 2

I confess, I never actually wrote a review for season one. To summarize, a little girl named Haley who's never met her father goes to see a child-loving television host called Sunny Shine; from there, she's abducted and held hostage by a killer Santa Claus. Meanwhile, her estranged, alcoholic father, Nick Sax, must try to save her... with a little help from his daughter's imaginary friend, Happy. Being a disgraced, NYPD detective, Nick must get out from under crime boss "Blue" Scaramucci (and his seedy employee, Detective Meredith McCarthy). Somehow, he manages to save Haley, pins most of the fallout on Blue, and gets sober to boot. Except he still sees Happy. Apparently Happy is Nick's imaginary friend now.

Enter season two. A sober version of Nick is no longer—according to Happy—allowed to kill, drink, or associate with criminal elements. It's the always-broken rule of the Western/kung fu flick, where the hero is told not to fight; it never lasts long. …

The Mandalorian (2019) review

Before I even saw the show itself, The Mandalorian (2019) grabbed me with its trailer: A tall, silent man walks into a space-saloon, sits down, and is confronted by three lowlife scoundrels. They size him up; he ostensibly ignores them. A fight breaks out, resulting in him trouncing the three of them, including an elaborate stunt from the hero and that ultimate cuts the final baddie in half with the saloon door. All of this could have transpired with modern editing and special effects techniques, but it seemed more like it was shot forty-odd years ago.

That's kind of the point, and a large part of the show's appeal. Not only is it set in the past (of the Star Wars universe); it adopts older conventions and filming techniques, albeit with a larger budget and modern technologies. There's something to be said about the dangers of emulation, especially when going for a particular, "retro-future" look. But if the student studies the master closely enough, it's pos…