Haven

haven

I love the horror genre. I grew up with it, staying up late, watching bad horror flicks and even badder ones, sometimes alone, sometimes with my grandma. “Alien” had been my first real taste of horror, when the chestburster blew out of John Hurt’s heart. Last night, the wife and I watched “Aliens” and it was her first time to, and she was terrified. That’s a timeless piece there, folks. It’s not much data, but to me, it’s proof why “Aliens” is highly regarded as the best in the entire damn franchise.

Tom Deady, winner of this year’s Bram Stoker Award for his debut novel, “Haven” has that timeless feel swirling in me. Anybody who’s new to this might say it’s reminiscent to Netflix’s “Stranger Things,” which is, to me, a tribute to some dude named Stephen for his stories “It”  and “Stand by Me” (Originally, “The Body”). Both are excellent stories that should become required reading in schools.

The story begins with Paul Greymore walking out of prison as a free man, where he returns to his hometown called Haven, the place where he was arrested 16 years ago, accused of murdering children.

Let’s not kid ourselves here. We know Paul is innocent all along and it’s just a matter for us to find out what’s really happening. Deady drops hints early in the book to confirm that, so we don’t overthink things through.

What I loved about the book was the depiction of the monster. Better yet, monsters. A lot of people in Haven are pissed that Greymore has returned, and many of them are wary, paranoid, and ready to kill.

While in a way book feels like “It,” “Haven” is much shorter, and points you toward the action without introducing too much backstories from random people that would no longer be breathing and be in one piece by the chapter’s end.

“Haven” is a story about family. Yes, there is a monster in the book, and don’t be surprised by that. But it plays more in the sidelines, always hidden in the dark, compared to the real horrors humanity may inflict on to each other: The horrors what an angry lynch mob can do, domestic abuse, police brutality, and bullying.

I love this book. I gorged through it in two nights. And it’s exciting what other things Tom Deady can come up with.

To wrap things up, here’s “Dead Memories” by Slipknot. Cause, Paul Greymore reminds me of Paul Gray.

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Best Mom

I love my mom. I love my grandmother, though it was she who raised me. And both did fine jobs in making sure to get to where I am today. I owe them a lot and they both made monumental sacrifices in their own choices in life only to ensure my well-being.  Just thinking about them pushes me forward and always do better. We’re all the best of friends and we each seek out each other’s counsel in this long, wayfaring called life.

Both are my Sarah Conners and Ellen Ripleys. They would have killed to defend their children, and they both are badass women in my lives. My wife is a recent addition to that, and we’re all looking forward to the day she becomes a mother, and me, a father.

However! However, I’d have to point out that the best mom, ever, should, fall under the shoulders of Ellen Ripley in “Alien: Resurrection.”

Spoilers for the films.

In the climax of the film we are introduced with the Newborn xenomorph that has embraced Ellen Ripley as its mother. And what did she do? She flushed it down to space in probably the most macabre and graphic thing I’ve seen on the screen.

Congratulations Ripley, besides the awesome catchphrase, “Get away from her, you bitch!” in “Aliens” before engaging in epic mecha combat, you launching your kid to space at such a young age, gives you that top-spot.

To everyone: Happy Mother’s Day and cherish every moment with your mother, grandmother, or any woman who has become a mother-figure to you or anyone you cared about.

For now, I’ll just leave this pretty neat scene from “Alien: Resurrection.”

Alien: Covenant

I didn’t know what to expect from “Alien: Covenant.” I had hoped it would be similar to the older films that were each directed by Ridley Scott and James Cameron. A friend and colleague from GameGulp, a gaming and film website I’ve helped a little to procure content, had claimed it was a good film.

In a lot of ways, “Alien: Covenant” pays homage to “Alien” and “Aliens,” by re-using old elements from both films. And these elements that played out were so strong, it’s impossible not to smile and think back about those moments that made the franchise fun and terrifying.

At the same time, “Alien: Covenant” feels so alien that it is more “Prometheus” than it is to the main series. And I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised, or even be complaining about it. I imagine, studio executives, enforcing the call to slap the popular brand into the title rather than simply call it: “Covenant.” (Especially that, there was a film called “Covenant” released in 2006 and it was horrible.)

By the time the credits started rolling, it felt like a chestburster had come out between my ribs, leaving me in hollowed silence. What I’m getting at here, this is a pretty decent film, but it could have been better, had it been more intelligent and clever.

I understand that “Alien” and “Aliens” were galleries that shows in sequence the consequences of making bad choices. The characters’ panic and hysteria were so emulated in Covenant which, from the outsight, made them look the stupidest bunch ever. It was almost as if, these films are saying, you need to be punished for your bad decisions.

I have watched the first four films a small number of times. Covenant steers clear from this and has, instead, provided a series of answers. Though none of them bridges the gap to “Alien” as what people seems to be clamoring about. And if the internet is to be believed, Scott intends to bring out two more Alien prequels before bridging it with the first film. We’re so much closer now to the first film more than ever.

The first half of the film was engaging. You have a crew that is responsible for the safety of the entire colony. And the second half just falters with countless mistakes and random acts of stupidity. Were the characters afraid, which is why they made all these mistakes? In some cases, yes. However, there were those who were actually bold enough venture out into the dark and just be plain stupid.

“Alien: Covenant” at most, is a B film with triple A budget. I really wanted to like this film since I grew up watching these. Not to mention “Alien” had been my introduction to horror and space when I was a kid. But I just couldn’t find any more reason to. I’ll still be a sucker for all future films though.

UPDATE: Reflecting back on the film. Covenant doesn’t only take elements from the first two films, but also from the climactic scenes in “Alien 3.” I probably missed a lot more, so I’ll just wait for the Blue-ray.

On films and videogames

Both films and videogames have had important impacts in my life. As an aspiring novelist, I drew my inspirations and influences through the visual medium I saw on screen, cause, I hated reading at that time, I really did until my early adulthood. It was through videogames and film that was I able to experience the worlds shaped by H.P. Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Philip K. Dick, J.R.R. Tolkien, among others. To this day, I continue to draw inspirations from the things I see, allowing me to craft things in greater detail—or so I like to believe. In any case, the top 3 films and videogames below hits closer to home more than anything else I’ve experienced.

Film

“Alien”

Ridley Scott’s 1979 sci-fi horror, “Alien,” is and will always be among my top 3 favorite films of all time. I remember my first encounter with it at the tender age of five or six, alone in the living room at night, turning a heavy knob to change the channel, making loud “thud, thud, thud” sounds: First there was some late night news from then RPN 9, and hitting channel 13: A man was screaming as people looked down on him with confused horror in their faces. The man stopped screaming and this dick-shaped thing burst from his chest, all soaked up in blood and gore. It’s the most violent metaphor I have seen on film about sex. Oh, H.R. Giger. You are missed, truly.

“American Graffiti”

The end of high school life means massive mental reconfiguration. Well, of course college years are awesome, the level of freedom someone attains can lead to world-shattering disasters, orgies, or both. In some cases, college life means you’re legal, you can go to bars and have a drink, and think yourself an adult, where you’re soon to start paying bills and the inner struggle to do the responsible thing. But high school life is, how shall we put it, innocent? Pure? It’s a life full of misadventures, an age of ignorance and arrogant. It’s that phase in life where it’s all right to make “some” mistakes and learn from it, a phase where you continue to struggle with the ropes of life until you have a tight grip on it and yank that shit down and hold it in your hands. That’s how “American Graffiti” is to me, the constant search and yearning for that white Ford Thunderbird. When Curt turns the Blonde, the one who he had been desperately searching the entire night, down, because he needed to leave, that’s the responsible thing. No matter how sad that is. It’s a journey where the best of times needs to be settled down as you get on a plane to adulthood, getting ready to embrace newer things ahead.

“Stand by Me”

If you disagree that the greatest films ever shown to mankind, then you can go away, die, and burn in hell, because “Stand by Me” is the greatest film ever. I’m not even being subjective here. It’s just plain fact that this film is the best thing there ever will be in modern and future cinemas. Don’t even say “Citizen Kane” is best god damn film of all time, just because everyone says so, I dare you to explain what made Orson Welles’ magnum opus the best of all in film history? You can’t and you won’t, because “Stand by Me” is a billion times better and I’m just shouting at you like a little kid, ready to get violent just to prove my point!

For reals though, “Stand by Me” is everything what I have ever wanted as a kid: A treehouse, a quest in the wild, misadventures and campfire, getting chased by a dog or a train, having friends that I can stand by with.

 

Videogames

“Digimon World”

I’ve always had an obsession to Digimon ever since I first heard about it as a youth. I’ve even had distinct dreams, almost a premonition, a poster of which highlighted the next Digimon that will evolve and what it will turn into. So, when I got the “Digimon World” for the PSOne, I was more than thrilled to run around with either an Agumon or a Gabumon trailing after me like a Pikachu in “Pokemon Yellow.” It’s an exciting mix between playing “Monster Rancher” and owning the Digivice-like “Tamagotchi.” In “Digimon World,” you actually get to train a Digimon, coaching it to various exercises to boost up specific stats, feeding them and rationing your food as you travel, and making sure they properly shit in the toilet (seriously), all while roaming around the vast Digimon world, rescuing and recruiting Digimons to populate the city. Only the wonderful exotic sights of Tifa Lockhart can beat that.

“Xenogears”

I got this game almost the same time as “Digimon World,” also for the PSOne. It was the first big game for adults that I’ve played and on my first playthrough, couldn’t exactly quite grasp how deep and sophisticated and heartfelt “Xenogears” has to offer. Also, it has kickass mechas, a unique gameplay mechanic, a frightening boss music, and a bitch slap plot twist (in a good way).

“Breath of Fire III and Street Fighter II”

I’m cheating the system, fuck it, but it’s a tie between these two. In Capcom’s glorious days, when it was a significant games publisher before it went all-out remaking “Resident Evil” time and time again, they put a lot of impressive games. “Breath of Fire III” and “Street Fighter II” among them. The former caught my attention and held onto it with an iron-grip, because it early adventures of Ryu, Rei, and Teepo. How, both Ryu and Teepo were orphans, and turned out to become epic motherfuckers that literally can rule the world. There were also a bunch of mini games and several side quests that all added to spicing up the game. It was also a time when you collect things in-game they actually added value to the gameplay and isn’t just “1 out of 10 notebooks.”

And “Street Fighter II” was the first game I played with my mom when she first came home with a SNES from the states. It was among our first bonding moments, I played between Ryu and Ken, then went on full Guilde (cause, ‘murica) and she played Chun Li. We’d play together after school, on the weekends, we’d also play “Super Mario World,” but we weren’t good at it at that time, so we often switched back to punching each other. It was good, sweet times before she had to leave and it wouldn’t be until several years later that we saw it each other again.