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Showing posts from January, 2020

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…

Chernobyl (2019) review

When I sat down to watch HBO's Chernobyl (2019), I remembered a video from Thunderfoot on YouTube, busting the "science" the miniseries portrays. And while he's not wrong, I was surprised to find how little it mattered, considering how much I enjoyed the show. Granted, I'm not a scientist, I'm a Gothicist; for me, science takes a back seat to constant dread, suspense and horror—a trifecta the show maintains with ease.


This isn't to say the show is logical. It's not. At times, the contradictions were so blatant they became difficult to ignore. For example, Anatoly Dyatlov, the man responsible for the entire disaster, gets ten years in a labor camp. Yet by the series' own rationale, the radiation from Chernobyl is acutely lethal. Valery Legasov, the show's awkward protagonist, boldly predicts everyone to be dead in a handful of years—not just those on site, but the entire continent(!). Maybe he was just being dramatic. Still, it's funny how …