Zombies have, in the last decade become rather de-rigueur, in fact you can’t swing a chainsaw without hitting at least another few dozen low budget movies, TV series or video games starring re-animated flesh munching corpses. Much like an undead apocalypse itself, zombie media has hit oversaturation point. I’m sure when influential horror director George Romero first introduced the modern zombie to a horrified audience back in 1968 with the seminal Night Of The Living Dead, he had absolutely no idea that these ghastly ghouls would one day be so over used, that all their dread and terror would give way to a yawn and passive indifference, zombies just aren’t scary anymore… (that said, if I was actually to meet a zombie – I’d be pretty damn terrified! Ooh, ooh, unless it’s a zombified Christina Ricci… I adore Christina Ricci, even if she was a flesh eating, undead, green skinned, puss ridden monster… I’d still adore her! Mmmmm, went a little off topic there… on with the show!)
When Romero’s groundbreaking introduction to the living dead first hit the cinema screen back in the sixties, it was met with revulsion and abhorrence by an audience unfamiliar with such overtly graphic violence.
Romero’s low budget, independent movie was the catalyst of a thousand imitators, some were great (Lucio Fulci’s “Zombie”, Dan O’Bannon’s “Return Of The Living Dead”) but most were awful Z grade rip offs, literally hordes of terribly made and woefully acted low budget cash ins, riding on the back of the movie going publics sudden reverence of all things undead.
It wouldn’t be long before video-game companies decided to take on this burgeoning horror phenomenon with their own interpretations, with the most prolific and famous of the digital dead games beginning in an imposing mansion in the Arklay Mountains, site of the original outbreak of the T-Virus and our initial introduction to S.T.A.R.S and the sinister Umbrella Corporation.
Resident Evil (known as Biohazard in Japan) was first unleashed to video gamers worldwide in 1996, developed by Japanese company Capcom (of Street Fighter fame) and helmed by game design auteur Shinji Mikami. It is one of the original progenitors of survival-horror, a sub genre of gaming that takes cues from horror fiction and focuses on the survival of the main character against overwhelming odds, with limited resources at their disposal.
The first game established many of the ongoing conventions and tropes for the survivalist series, such as the limited inventory system, third person perspective, fixed camera angles for dramatic effect and the iconic typewriter save system.
The game opens with the elite members of S.T.A.R.S (Special Tactics And Rescue Service) responding to the disappearance of fellow team members who lost contact in the remote area on the outskirts of Raccoon City, known as the Arklay Mountains.
Players choose to take control of either Jill Valentine or Chris Redfield at the start of the game, and then, with their chosen avatar, proceed into the mysterious mansion embedded deep within the creepy forests of Arklay Mountains in search of their fellow team-mates.
Graphics are a mix of three dimensional characters set against pre-rendered backdrops, fixed camera angles give the game a rather compelling cinematic feel.
As your chosen avatar explores the mansion they discover documentation in the form of diary entries and audio tapes that provide story beats and exposition, as well as uncovering clues to the various puzzles that need to be undertaken to progress through the mission. The combat takes centre stage through the use of a variety of firearms discovered around the environment, though ammo conservation is important as ammunition is limited.
The inevitable health loss can be counteracted by the use of either first aid sprays or three different types of combinable herbs. The capacity for carrying items on person is also limited, though extraneous items can be kept in an item box for later use. Saving is done through typewriters that are scattered through the mansion, ink ribbons must first be located before saving is possible, and once more these are in limited supply so must be used sparingly.
Player characters will fight through a succession of undead and mutated creatures as they progress, from the humble zombie through, giant spiders and hulking behemoths. Also of note are the multiple endings the game can deliver depending on the actions taken by the player throughout their adventure, giving the game an impulsive replayability.
Capcom’s Resident Evil is a landmark game, it is almost single handedly responsible for the Survival-Horror genre and is one of the longest running video game franchises of all time, with the most recent game “Resident Evil 7″ released to abundant praise from fan and critic alike. Though there have been a couple of missteps (Resident Evil 6 being rather… awful) the majority of titles in the franchise have been absolute gems and are a blast to play (with personal faves being Resi 4 and Code Veronica) The original has seen a remastered overhaul with an upgraded version released on platforms such as Xbox One Playstation 4, and as of this month – Nintendo’s fabulous Switch… which means Zombie blasting on the go! so there’s never been a better time to immerse yourself in the wonderful world of zombies, elite swat teams and evil corporations.
Welcome fellow agents of Precinct1313 to “The Week In Geek,” where we list our favourite comic book, video-game and cult movie news for your perusal and pleasure.
Suicide Squad – Second Trailer Is Mind-Blowingly Amazing…
So who amongst us have seen the astonishing new Suicide Squad movie trailer and not been blown away by its majestically manic and mirthful brilliance. David Ayer’s adaptation of DC Comics’ team of Supervillain badasses is looking utterly fantastic, and its dark tone and gritty violence are countered masterfully by an effervescent and mischievous sense of humour that just oozes from the trailer. This is movie marketing done right, I for one cannot wait for the (too far away) August 2016 release, and (shock/horror!) after watching the trailer for what must be the 100th time, I am almost more excited to see this than the upcoming “Batman v Superman” movie (almost.)
Oh, and Jared Leto’s Joker… will be the definitive version… calling it now.
Amber Heard To Be Crowned “Queen of Atlantis”…
Though unconfirmed by Warner Bros, it seems that actress Amber Heard is in talks to take on the role of Mera, Aquaman’s love interest and eventual Queen of Atlantis. Amber will star opposite Jason Momoa’s Aquaman in the James Wan directed debut of one of DC’s biggest Superheroes. This is yet more sublime casting on behalf of Warner Bros, following hot on the heels of Danish actress Connie Nielsen being cast as Queen Hippolyta in the 2017 Wonder Woman movie. Amber’s Aphrodite like beauty mixed with real acting chops make her the perfect choice for the legendary Atlantis monarch.
Resident Evil Zero – Remastered…
Following on from last year’s HD remaster of the original Resident Evil, comes the bygone Gamecube classic Resident Evil 0, now in glorious high definition. The “Resi” prequel was the last of the hardcore survival horror entries before Resident Evil 4 brought on a significant change in the much loved series. This version retained the complex puzzles, resource management and fixed camera angles of its forebears that were slowly eroded by the newer games in the franchise (ultimately culminating in the awfulness that is Resident Evil 6!)
Resident Evil 0 is set one day before the famous Arklay mansion incident, as we tag alongside S.T.A.R.S team medic Rebecca Chambers and fugitive Billy Coen as they explore a (zombie infested) runaway train, creepy mansion and an abandoned Umbrella Corporation training facility. An awesome conversion of an absolutely classic game, well worth investing your time and money in.
Why not join us again next time friends, for more “Week In Geek.”
The space year of 2015 comes to a close, fellow agents of Precinct1313, and with its inevitable demise comes our 13 favourite moments from across the comic-book, movie and videogame spectrum.
No.13: The Dark Knight Returns!
After a 14 year hiatus, veteran comic book creator Frank Miller returned to his genre bending masterpiece Dark Knight saga with a third instalment, titled DKIII: The Master Race. This final (maybe) chapter takes place chronologically three years after 2001 mini-series “The Dark Knight Strikes Again,” and continues to chronicle an ageing Caped Crusader and his allies in an increasingly violent and turbulent Gotham.
Thematically this series picks up from the ‘Strikes Again’, but this time Miller has brought along some fellow superstar creators for the intense and dark ride, as he is joined by, writer Brian Azzarello and artists, Andy Kubert, Jim Lee, and original collaborator Klaus Janson. Like its previous instalments, DKIII concentrates on the Batman as a symbol, an almost mythological character of inspiration and a catalyst for the weak and oppressed of Gotham.
No.12: Resident Evil Games Are… Good Again!!
2015 is the year that survival-horror veteran Resident Evil became great once more, as Capcom released not one, but two terrifyingly awesome instalments in the long running zombie franchise. After the awfulness of Resident Evil 6, even die-hard fans weren’t necessarily looking forward to whatever would come next in the once predominant horror gaming series. The sixth game in the franchise took a downward spiral into bland third person action/shooter territory, leaving behind most of what made the earlier games so much fun to play, namely the tension, spookiness and survival aspects.
Then in early 2015, an HD remake of the original game digitally graced home consoles, with the same intense and creepy vibe of the original, but with much improved visuals, soundtrack and most definitely improved in the acting department (though Jill still, humorously remained – “The Master Of Unlocking” .) And less than a month later Resident Evil Revelations 2 was released episodically across all formats, initially digitally only, though later on disc. This 4 part series was a hark back to classic Resi , tense and horrific with much more limited supplies and the difficulty switched up a notch from the mediocrity that was Resi 6. Capcom redeemed themselves in my eyes after the Resi 6 debacle, and I look forward to their next game with bated breath, the much touted remake of most fans favourite in the series, Resident Evil 2… can’t wait.
No.11: Starfire Goes Solo…
Everyone’s favourite flame haired, orange skinned alien princess finally flies solo in her own, rather marvellous, monthly series. Tamaranean native Koriand’r most recently starred alongside one time Robin, Jason Todd now known as violent masked vigilante The Red Hood, and former Green Arrow sidekick Roy Harper, aka Arsenal, in the highly recommended series “Red Hood and the Outlaws.” With the shake-up of DC recently with “DC You” Koriand’r was finally deemed a character strong enough to hold her own monthly series, and the creative reins were handed to the married, dynamic duo of Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti, to great effect.
The series has been a joy to read so far, we are huge fans of Starfire here in the Precinct and could think of no better team than Conner and Palmiotti to be given control of the series, but what has really drawn us into the series the most are the sublime visuals rendered by Emanuela Lupacchino, each panel is a masterpiece and the book is worth reading for just this alone. This has been standout my favourite comic series so far in 2015, and I’ll just say it’s been a great year of comics, which makes Kori’s solo debut even more impressive.
No.10: Jared Leto Cast As The Joker…
Well dye my hair green, bleach my skin and call me “puddin” if this isn’t just a superlative casting choice, Jared Leto as the Clown Prince Of Crime!?… oh hell yes! The term “Method Actor” could of been created for Mr Leto, as he is one of the most dedicated character actors you could ever come across, his casting in the upcoming Suicide Squad movie as the Joker, has me very excited indeed.
No.09: Mad Max – Fury Road…
Now then, I know that this is going to appear on a lot of end of the year lists, but if you had told me a year ago it would be on mine, I’d have thought you were the mad one himself! You see, as much as I like the director George Miller, and the acting duo of Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron, not to mention, I adore the original Mad Max trilogy, what I don’t like are lazy remakes of classic films from my youth, and for a long time that’s what I thought this was, I was sooooo wrong.
The film is a marvel to behold, an almost perfect blend of real time practical effects, mixed with limited but extremely well implemented CGI. Tom Hardy gives a good performance as the antipodean crazy ex-cop, Charlize Theron is fantastic as Furiosa, but it really is the crazy action and fantastic directing style of George Miller that are the stars here. Shiny and Chrome indeed!
No.08: New X-Files Series Begins Filming…
I love the X-Files, I have been a super fan since it first began way back in 1993, my interest in the unknown and supernatural initially drew me into the show but it was the performances by the leads, David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson and the increasingly emotional and complex relationship of their characters – Mulder and Scully that kept me coming back to the show time and time again.
Of course the writing was top notch, the episodes were always extremely well made and directed, but ultimately it was that relationship between the main players that drove the series to the cult and beyond status that it now has. Let’s hope the magic is still there over 13 years later, when the much anticipated tenth season finally appears in January 2016.
No.07: Supergirl Soars Once More…
Kara Zor-El is awesome, one of the most iconic female Superheroes of all time, Superman‘s cousin has been with us now since her initial introduction in 1959, created by Otto Binder and Al Plastino. Originally hailing from Argo city, a fragment of the planet Krypton that had managed to survive destruction.
She is one of the few female comic book characters who has appeared on the big and small screen several times in the past few decades (only Catwoman has had more live action appearances.) Played by Helen Slater in the 1984 movie, by actress Laura Vandervoort in TV series Smallville (strangely enough, Laura was born the same year the original movie was released) And now as of 2015, we have a new girl of steel, Melissa Benoist has taken up the cape and red boots of the seminal character in what has become a fantastic and fun interpretation, another quality Superhero show that stands tall amongst its peers.
No.06: Margot Robbie Brings Harley Quinn To Life…
Mistress of Mayhem, Harley Quinn is one of those characters that everyone loves, but have always believed would be almost impossible to bring to live action successfully. There have been attempts, the short lived Birds Of Prey series had a version of the character played by Mia Sara, who, while okay in the role, didn’t really capture Harley’s perfect blend of crazy cool and sociopathic tendency.
Then we got a glimpse at actress Margot Robbie in the Suicide Squad trailers, everything about her portrayal seems to scream Harley, she looks perfect and I have high hopes for the character, she is definitely the most anticipated of all the Suicide Squad members so her portrayal will be of paramount importance to the film itself (along with her ‘puddin’, the Joker of course.)
No.05: Twin Peaks Season 3 Announced…
I’ll admit, I am both elated and worried at the idea of Twin Peaks returning for a third series, I love Twin Peaks, it is without a shadow of a doubt my favourite TV show of all time, but the perfection of the originals will be very hard to recapture I believe. Though this is David Lynch we’re talking about, a ‘mad genius’ of a director and film maker and I have adored virtually everything he has ever put out, so there is hope. Please be good… please!!
No.04: Convergence Was… Awesome!
DC Comics are the master of the epic crossover series, their “Crisis” stories have always been bombastic reads of monumental proportions. The more recent Blackest Night maxi-series was also phenomenal, but for me, it was this year’s “Convergence” that really blew my veritable bat-socks off!
Convergence was a limited series that released weekly and ran between April and May. The story span out of two earlier mini-series – “New 52 – Futures End” and “Earth 2 – World’s End.” The storyline follows Braniac as he gathers Cities and their inhabitants from across different timelines and alternate Earths. Really there aren’t enough superlatives to sum up this fantastic mini-series, all I’ll say is buy it, read it, thank me later…
No.03: Suicide Squad Trailer…
DC Comics‘ ultimate team of anti-hero badasses finally achieve cinematic glory in 2016, courtesy of David Ayer (director of Sabotage and Fury) in what looks to be a gritty, violent adaptation of the comic book classic. Where this movie differs from all other Superhero films of recent years is the fact that it offers up a different perspective on the comic book adaptation, it focuses solely on the bad guys, the Supervillains and the crazies.
Director David Ayer is well known for his dark and gritty cop thrillers, and is the perfect choice for this live action version of the popular comic series. Peruse the trailer below and bask in the glory of seminal DC characters that include – Harley Quinn, Katana, Enchantress and Deadshot, and lest we forget, what may turn out to be the biggest draw of the film… Jared Leto’s Joker.
No.02: Wonder Woman Solo Movie Begins Production…
It may of come to your attention that we quite like Wonder Woman here in the Precinct, so we are rather excited that her long awaited silver screen appearance has finally begun production, and in the UK no less. Gal Gadot will make her first appearance as the amazing Amazon in March 2016 “Batman v Superman” movie before her 2017 solo film. Seriously it is about bloody time that the most iconic female comic book character of all time got her own movie, and with director Patty Jenkins at the helm and actress Gal looking every bit the Amazon Princess, I for one, cannot wait.
No.01: Batman v Superman Trailers Finally Released…
Well this is it, with the trailers finally released, and the epic nature revealed, you just have to prepare yourself for two things. 1. What could be, quite possibly, The Greatest Superhero Movie Of All Time and… 2. The cinematic debut of the original, and still greatest female Superhero. With these two imperatives in mind watch the trailer below, and then weep for the fact that the biggest cinematic event in DC Comics… nay, in history, is still three months away…
Happy New Year everyone…
An as yet unannounced production company is apparently working on a television series based upon the long running survival horror video-game: Resident Evil. The name of the script is currently – Arklay, obviously named after the mysterious mountain region near Raccoon City where a certain spooky mansion resides.
The script which is being written by Shawn Lebert, concerns a Raccoon City Police detective named James Reinhardt who gets caught up in some bizarre homicides that are taking place across the city. This could make for a supremely creepy supernatural series that will hopefully stick close to its source material…there is so much great fiction involved in Capcom’s long running series, if they get the atmosphere right this could be fantastic … so get ready to zombie out, Resi fans.
Update: The global Film and Television production company – Mance Media has the rights to produce the series.
It’s time to step cautiously once more into that sinister Raccoon City mansion, as S.T.A.R.S veterans Jill Valentine and Chris Redfield revisit their greatest adventure from the Resident Evil/Biohazard franchise.
That’s right ‘master of unlocking’ fans, the 2002 gamecube remake of the 1996 survival horror classic by Capcom is being remade for current and last gen consoles. The Shinji Mikami helmed zombie blasting spook-fest will be available in early 2015 as a digital download for Xbox 360, Xbox One, PS3, PS4 and PCCD, with all new visuals and 5.1 surround sound, plus the Xbox One, PS4 and PCCD versions will be remastered in glorious 1080p.
The original Resi is by far the the best of the long running game series, though there have been other classic entries in the series..we particularly liked the new direction that Resident Evil 4 took back in 2005, others deserving of mention are Resi 2 and Code Veronica. Though of late Capcom have come under fire for slowly moving Resi away from it’s horror roots and turning the games into more generic third person action-fests, hopefully this release will sell well enough that Capcom can return the series to its survival horror origins.