The Doc Speaks: AVGC 2016 Retrospective/Review/Thing

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For those who don’t live in the Tri-State area or, more specifically, the Northern/Central New Jersey area, AVGC (or “A Video Game Convention”) is a smaller sized video games themed expo in the Parsippany area. Created and organized by Paul Solo, the convention has entered its second year.

After starting last September, it picked up a fair amount of buzz and attention pretty quickly.  In both 2015 and 2016, it was held at the Parsippany Police Athletic League center.  However, there has been discussion on if the convention must relocate much like other favorite expos in the past.  Last year, it had an incredible attendance and had an unprecedented crowd to boot!  Guests like “King of Kong”, Billy Mitchell, were live at the scene.  Arcade machines lined up a whole gymnasium room.  A live orchestra among various bands jammed in the day, while a burlesque show took stage at night.  Panelists from all corners of the web took to the main hall and the conference room by the gym.  It was vintage gaming bliss.   At the time, the then-new expo had already found a proper niche and audience.  This year, AVGC returned; back and better than ever!  Jump ahead to continue.

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Ghostbusters the Video Game (2009)

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People have been asking me to check out the continuation of the Ghostbusters franchise for a while… so here it is!

In all seriousness, all of the attention the franchise has gotten recently has encouraged me to dig up Atari’s 2009 release for all major consoles and PC.  At the time, it was quite well received.  In fact, Dan Aykroyd himself said that this is basically the “Third Movie” that fans had been waiting for.  In those 7 years since then, this leaves quite a few questions.  Has it aged well?  Was it as awesome as we remembered?  Did we get the 3rd movie we wanted or were we clouded by nostalgia?  Let’s crack open the Terminal Reality version (for PC, in my case) and crack down on some paranormal activity!  More after the jump.

Author’s Note: Pardon the lateness.  When a tree slams on your house due to a storm, that takes a little bit of precedence over writing, which sucks.  In fact, malevolent ghosts could have been behind it, for all we know.  After all, they say my town is haunted… or at least the large historic hotel is!

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Rare Breed by The Shrine

Writer’s Note: Before I continue, I gotta say that it’s been too long!  Life has been insane and I’ve gone a little more insane too!  There is far too much for me to catch up on.  Movies, video games, music albums, whatever!  But, I’m back in action in one form or another.  Even though I’m not completely back together, I’ll continue to shamble on with this reanimated corpse of a blog as well.  Will I be back to a weekly basis?  Not sure, I’m trying to kick my gaming projects into full gear.  You might get me weekly, maybe every 2 weeks.  But enough about me, let’s talk about THE SHRINE with their 2016 album, “RARE BREED!”

The Shrine wasn’t a band I would have stumbled upon by myself.  That credit goes to some of my good buddies who love hopping bars and venues to support local and smaller name bands.  But none the less, I was intrigued upon hearing their raw and awesome sound at the St. Vitus bar in Brooklyn back in October 2015.  It was a joined show between them and Dirty Fences with “Big Truck” opening for them.  It was a sick sound to make for a truly sick show.  While the band did not have the newest CD available to the public yet, I was hooked on their righteous riffs and violent vibrancy.

Now, how would I describe The Shrine?  They’re a thick and fuzzy soundscape of rocky bluesy tradition, colliding with classic yet fresh hard rock alongside a screaming torrent of skater punk rock rage.  Now, what does that mean?  An eclectic mix of rock music sounds blended into a distinct, modern sound.  Containing an energy that brings to mind classic era punk and alternative groups, while bringing a heaviness and raw power associated with a Sabbath era sound; The Shrine proves to be a band that keeps a crowd rolling.  Their most recent release, “Rare Breed”, unleashes a raw and lively sound to capture the spirit of Rock and Roll.

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Album Review: Christmas – A Ghostly Gathering

Tired of the saccharine crap that floods radio waves from early November to early January?  It’s the same old derivative playlists only lightly spiced up by flavor of the year bubblegum pop.  After a while, it’s grating to the mind and soul.  Now, for gloomy souls like myself, there’s a genre of music that appeals as a proper alternative.  I speak of dark ambient/atmospheric music.  Combining this with the motifs and inspirations of the early winter holidays and you have the recipe for a fantastically freaky but festive experience.  Groups such as Nox Arcana have created their own contributions to yuletide terror, with their own excellent releases.

This time around, it’s Midnight Syndicate’s turn to show their musical mastery for a truly magical christmas time.  When I speak of “christmas magic”, I’m not talking about holly jolly merriment, I’m speaking of the twisted and bizarre folklore that extends several centuries at the very least; strange shadowy beings, seemingly alive winter winds, strange monstrosities, wandering ghostly spirits and tons more.  These are the myths crafted in small villages and written by just as crafty poets.  Whether it be St. Nick’s demonic helper from the Alps or the ghosts that haunt Scrooge in A Christmas Carol, the weird and supernatural is just as much a part of Christmas as it is Halloween.  With that, there’s plenty of reason behind a horror-oriented Christmas album.  I’m referring to the latest release by atmospheric gothic music group, Midnight Syndicate.  Their newest release, “Christmas A Ghostly Gathering” has a mix of original pieces and dark takes on traditional hymns and holiday essentials.  In a sense, it’s like Midnight Syndicate heard the soundtrack to “A Nightmare before Christmas” and wanted to make their own take on Horror for the Holidays.  Read on for more.

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Film Review: Krampus

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For those who have been following me long enough, you can tell I’m quite the fan of Santa’s Satanic Helper!  Of course, I’m referring to the Krampus.  For those out of the loop, Krampus is a creature originating from Germanic folklore.  He trails Santa around the world to punish naughty children, while Santa takes care of the good.  Specifically, Krampus hits you with his bundle of sticks before sweeping you into a bag full of little hell raisers!  This holiday horror looks like a diabolic monster with coarse black hair all over him, usually with horns and cloven hooves.  For centuries, the image of this creature has haunted and fascinated countless people.

Needless to say, Krampus has slowly been catching on in the United States.  Whether it’s pop songs or animated parodies, the Christmas Devil himself has been popping up in public consciousness.  A couple of years ago, the creators of “Trick R’ Treat” had announced they were bringing this being to life in a new movie.  As of December 2015, that movie is out and the Krampus will punish all of those who dare act naughty during this season.  So, how does the movie itself hold up?  Read onward to find out. (Warning: Some spoilers ahead!)

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The Doc Speaks: Fallout 4 – Awesome Video Game, Disappointing Fallout title

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It wouldn’t be Fallout without a masked figure on the front, right?

Fallout is a series of many things; a deconstruction of classic science fiction, a direct homage to said classic science fiction, a now long running franchise that’s practically 2 decades old and so much more.  Above all, it’s a beloved series with an amazing and devoted fanbase.  Sure, there is much division over older and newer generations of games (which I myself will admit to taking part in); but we’ve had more than enough proof that fans have kept the spirit of Fallout alive.  Archive sites like the Nexus contain thousands upon thousands of mods, adding new features to the game or rewriting it in its entirety.  You may wonder what this has to do with Fallout 4?  While others have focused on traversing the world of the wastelands and following a story, this one allows you to customize the weird wastes ahead.  So, why do I praise it as a great game, but comdemn it as a poor Fallout title?  More ahead.  (Warning: Spoilers)

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Movie Review – What We Do In The Shadows (2014)

How every Vampire the Masquerade game ends up.

Initially, this film slipped past my radar, as I’ve seen many contenders tackling the mockumentary genre, aspiring to be like some of the greats within the genre.  However, what I also missed was that it was from the creators of Flight of the Conchords, and that is by all means a favorite of mine.  Instead, we follow a group of vampires living within an eerie old flat in Wellington.  Each of them contends with their own problems, usually initiating more squabbles in the process.  But, the petty drama of long time roommates in a world they don’t understand is all part of the fun.  So, what can these flatmates teach us ignorant mortals?  Read on and find out!

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Game (Mini) Review: Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide

I have no idea what’s going on, but it looks cool.

So, the new book for 5E is out as a primer to the Sword Coast region of the Forgotten Realms campaign setting.  Specifically, it gives some updates on how the setting has fared against The Sundering and how it has recovered from the Spellplague era as well.  On top of that, it gives other lore tidbits, in the shape of factions and their place within the setting.  We also have detail on the ways of magic and gods within Faerun and beyond.  Besides the typical deities of the Sword Coast, we have a handful of racial ones too.  On top of that, we get some mechanical additions from the Realms itself.  These are a handful of archetypes and racial variants to provide more flavor for your FR setting games.  All in all, a lot of hype was riding on this book.  For the past year, the support we’ve had was through playtest packets as well as the occasional full release of supplementary material.  To finally have a fully published book again is a blessing in the eyes of many.  But at the same time, fans have many expectations as well as many hopes and desires.  So, let’s find out what rolls a critical hit and what rolls a natural one.

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Game Reviews: Until Dawn

Until Dawn is a 2015 video game developed by Supermassive games for the Playstation 4.  In an essence, it’s a horror film simulator, right down to all of the tropes and cliches.  You guide the protagonists along various plot paths of the story and see who makes it out and who gets chewed up by the monster/psycho of the week.  Now, this sort of gameplay or idea in general is far from new.  Games like Clock Tower involve you running away from a maniac wielding giant scissors, while Manhunt involves you playing the serial killer.  Meanwhile, upcoming projects like Last Year, Summer Camp and the latest adaptation of Friday the 13th also plan on hitting the market in their own murder-happy fashion.  Not to mention, there’s plenty of twists that go beyond just some boogeyman in a house.  In fact, the mountains themselves hold an ancient evil to compliment many a horror classic.  With that stiff competition ahead, what does Until Dawn that sets it apart from the crowd?

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Cult Film Review: Grabbers

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Directed by John Wright and story by Kevin Lehane, Grabbers is a 2012 horror-comedy about small island town that faces off against tentacled horrors that dwell in the sea.  It follows two Garda officers as they’re deployed to the seaside community, only to discover their problems lie beyond rude dock workers, drunken fools and deranged scientists.  Teaming up with various survivors of “The Grabbers”, the motley crew does all they can to keep these monstrous horrors from consuming the entire island.  As one would expect, it’s campy and schlocky, but that’s what the film was intending to go for in the first place.

Author’s Note: I was originally planning on reviewing this for a magazine, but some things sadly didn’t quite work out.  As a result, I revisited what I wrote and used it as notes as I watched it again.  Needless to say, not many of my opinions have changed.  Enjoy.  Also beware, this review contains spoilers.  If ya wanna avoid spoilers, hop down to the smiling Erin Island sign! 

Image Sources – Grabbers Screenshots via Horrorhoneys, Bloody-Disgusting, Slant Magazine; Grabbing Arm – Amazon

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