Saturday, June 30, 2012

Playing in Haunted Houses!

 


By - Steve Mezo

I have loved haunted Houses for as long as I knew what they were.

Even just creepy pictures of them off in the distance with just a lone lit window would get my imagination racing. 
  What was it? 
Was it a lone survivor using the last of the light to ward off what was haunting the house, or something worse?


I think the first haunted house entertainment I ever experienced had to have been on my Fisher Price Movie Viewer "Lonesome Ghost". 
 I watched it till the film literally wore out and broke. 

Then there was The Weeble Haunted House. 
It was so cool because it was the closest thing to being in my own haunted house. 




Then as far as playing around in one in board game form there was
 The Green Ghost Game that my Wife (Then Girlfriend) introduced me too. 
This one is still fun to play!!!

That same year in (1982) electronic versions came out.

There was Atari's Haunted House
 
 
The game play was pretty basic where you had to find three pieces of an Urn of the late Mr. Graves. And while doing this you had to avoid being attacked by a tarantula, a bat and the ghost of Mr. Graves himself. And the only help you had was the light from matches you had (The red button on the controller made an orange glow around the set of eyes representing you). But it was still allot of fun even though you had to use your imagination a little. 

That same year Gottlieb Pinball Machine company released one of the coolest pinball machines ever!
 

 It had three levels where the center was inclined and the flippers were reversed. Where you had to send the ball back up.



Then six years later 1988 I found a new video game called
"SPLATTER HOUSE"
I thought this was the end all be all coolest game ever! You get to be "Jason" or a close look alike and fight monsters in a haunted house!!!

Then after some research I had found the original storyline on Wikipedia.

Two college students, Rick Taylor and Jennifer Willis, take refuge from a storm in West Mansion, a local landmark known as "Splatterhouse" for the rumors of hideous experiments purportedly conducted there by Dr. West, a renowned and missing parapsychologist. At the mansion, the two are attacked by demonic creatures that drag Jennifer inside and fatally wound Rick, leaving him for dead.


Rick awakens in the dungeon of the mansion to discover that he is still alive thanks to the influence of the "Terror Mask", or in some versions, the "Hell Mask", a Mayan sacrificial artifact from West's house which is capable of sentient thought. The mask attaches itself to Rick, fusing with his body and transforming him into a monster with superhuman strength. With the mask's encouragement, Rick goes on a rampage through the dungeon and the mansion grounds, killing hordes of monsters. Inside the mansion, Rick finds Jennifer, prone on a couch and surrounded by a throng of creatures that retreat upon his arrival. After their departure, Jennifer transforms into a giant, fanged monster that attempts to kill Rick while begging him for help. Rick is forced to kill Jennifer, who transforms back to normal and thanks him before she dies. Infuriated, Rick tracks the remaining monsters to a giant, bloody hole in the mansion's floor. Upon entering it, Rick discovers that the mansion itself is alive. He follows a bloody hallway to the house's "womb", which produces fetus-like monsters that attack him. Rick destroys the womb, which causes the house to burst into flames as it "dies".

Escaping the burning mansion, Rick comes across a grave marker. The Terror Mask releases energy into the grave, reviving a giant monster named Hell Chaos that claws its way up from the earth and attempts to kill Rick. Rick destroys the creature, which unleashes a tormented ghost that dissipates into a series of bright lights. As the lights vanish, the mask shatters, turning Rick back to normal, and he flees as the house burns to the ground and the credits roll. However, after he leaves and the credits end, the Terror Mask reassembles itself and laughs evilly, staying there for 45 seconds, with the word, "END", appearing on the bottom right corner of the screen.

I think I spent about six future car payments in the arcade playing it back then.

Later in 1992 Sega had released the sequel to SPLATTERHOUSE
with SPLATTERHOUSE 2
   
The game play was pretty much the same, but this time the story is Rick is beckoned by The Terror Mask to go back to Dr. West's mansion 3 months later. (How can this be? It burned to the ground after Jennifer's death and the destruction of The Terror Mask!) 
Turns out that in the original Japanese version this mansion is in the land of the dead and Rick is fighting to bring Jennifer back to the land of the living. He succeeds, but the curse of the West Mansion isn't done yet. 

This time in in "SPLATTERHOUSE 3" (1993) it's five years later Rick's married Jennifer, has a five year old son named David, does well on Wall Street and buys a mansion in Connecticut. 
Then Rick comes home one day to find his own mansion has been possessed much like Dr. West's was, but this time finds out the Terror mask is behind it all. The only problem is he only finds out about it after he's rescued Jennifer and David and has to fight the evil spirit of the Terror Mask.   

The game has more of a 3D feel this time and a timer for each level to complete. And if you fail to defeat the monsters and bosses in a certain time you run the risk of loosing Jennifer, David or both before the final battle. 

Another favorite released that same year was
 "Haunting with Polterguy"
 
This one was great because the whole objective was to scare this beyond nasty family out of every house they lived in. And the graphics were really impressive for the SEGA system back then.

Then one day in 2010 I find out that PS3 was coming out with a
 re release of SPLATTERHOUSE!!!

I was happy to hear about it, but at the same time I was like "What if it sucks?" I mean I love the SPLATTERHOUSE games and would really hate to see a crappy version of it out there. 

But this bad boy is far from crappy!
 


The story line is still pretty much the same where Dr. West 
 is the cause of all of the craziness in his mansion, but when you find his audio diaries it really adds to the creep factor. 
 Love the detail that went into the haunted house!
 

Jennifer is once again in danger and Rick gets the beat down of a lifetime, but is brought back from death with the help of the Terror Mask who has it's own motives.
 
and Rick gets back to work of returning the favor of a mega beat down. 


The game has an 18 and over rating (For some pictures of Jennifer you find during game play) but I think it was also for the fact of it was designed by people that discovered the game like I did waaaay back in 1988 for the first time.

There are so many hints of this that it's like getting to visit an old friend and kind of relive those years. Take what Rick is wearing before and after his transformation. I don't want to take away from the kids now, but I was wearing concert shirts, jeans, chain wallets and skater sneakers before allot of the kids now were even thoughts. Yup just like when I was playing the original back in the old arcade.

The Heavy Metal Soundtrack (A must have and would have been used if the audio were available during the SEGA era), And the artwork that was heavily influenced by the artist of "HEAVY METAL" (The graphic comic collection magazine) and the artwork of Frank Frazetta that was huge back then.

And there's influence of Friday The 13th, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Nightmare on Elm Street and The Evil Dead and Evil Dead II that were right there when the arcade version came out and those movies were at their peak at the box office. 
       
Not only was I treated to a virtual time machine, I had great game play and was able to unlock the original arcade SPLATTER HOUSE as well as the SEGA versions of 2 and 3 to play too if I'm in the mood. 

I have to say NAMCO really got it right with this one.



Sunday, June 24, 2012

Just one dollar and seventy five cents! Sorry no C.O.D. s


By - Steve Mezo

Why did I have to learn most of my hardest life lessons from the last page of my beloved Horror Comics?

I'd get done reading about some people getting all kinds of banged up from monsters or evil curses and then would get to the last page where all of the coolest toys and instruction manuals were listed.
 
Or so I thought...

I'm glad I didn't fall for the Brine Shrimp called "Sea Monkeys" that my friend (at the time) across the street paid for.
Hey look how happy that family is!!!

But I did waste a dollar on this...
Oh yeah it exploded all right... One throw across the driveway and it shattered into a million plastic pieces!!!

Of course I had to buy the X-Ray Specs
 

 
I still have my original pair and they still make people laugh so I guess that was one dollar well spent.


Now this was another I got my money's worth with!
 
Archie fell apart pretty quick, but I did learn enough to get a laugh from my friends or at least freak them out with my new buddy Charlie.
  
But I have to say my hardest lesson learned was when I thought somebody at the toy factory had screwed up and decided to sell a hundred Green Army Men for $1.75
 

I smiled from ear to ear and wrung my hands like a Super Villain and smugly thought to myself "Those fools at the toy factory are practically giving away all of those soldiers, tanks planes and jeeps!"
Joke was on me when the manufactures saw me coming from a mile away and were already spending my hard earned $1.75 gained from their flashy comic book ad.  

I mailed away a check for $1.75 written for me by my Mom and eagerly awaited a huge plastic footlocker containing these guys.
 
But instead got a small cardboard box filled with flat plastic crap that I dumped on my parents living room carpet that looked exactly like this...

Man these things were horrible. The writer of  the "Monster Dad" blog Glen Shultzberg has also experienced the horror of these abominations of Green Army Men. And not only did a great article on them he has pictures of his original set that he still owns!

I don't think my whole set made it past two days. They were so lame that I probably sent them to face their destruction at the plastic mountain in my back yard . I don't remember the monster they faced (Might have been me) but it was a complete slaughter.

After that I knew life wasn't fair, there were adults that have no problem ripping off kids, you get what you pay for and there isn't always truth in advertising. 

But it also taught me to have fun where I can find it and enjoy the little things (Which I do). And I continued to order the inexpensive treasures from the comic book ads and had a blast with every single one of them.   
 


Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Made For TV Monsters!



By - Steve Mezo

The 1970'S just ruled when it came to Made For TV Horror Movies. They were usually on Friday or Saturday nights and had just enough creep factor to scare the crap out of us kids.
I had forgotten the titles of quite a few, but thanks to the research of others that loved them too I found huge list of quite a few I missed seeing. And now I can track those down and see them like 1974's "Bad Ronald".

But for now I'm going to list the ones that really stood out in my childhood. Some contain spoilers and I apologize in advance, but here is a list of the movies so you can watch them if you haven't seen them yet. Then after you see them you can read my thoughts on them.
And these aren't in depth reviews (Plenty of em' on the web already) just little musings of what I thought of them back then.

1) Duel (1971)

2) Gargoyles (1972)

3) Don't be afraid of the dark (1973)

4) Trilogy of terror (1975)

5) Burnt offerings (1976)

6) Curse of the black widow (1977)

7) The Bermuda depths (1978)

8) Salem's Lot (1979)





First I'll start off with Duel (1971)

This one is about the ultimate case of road rage! I can't imagine being that mad at anyone so much that I would drive off of a cliff just to kill his car even though the guy jumped out of it!


Gargoyles (1972)
This one was beyond cool!
I didn't know much about the plot line back then, but I knew there were a ton of cool monsters. Well until the part where the one was in that dudes bedroom and it crept up over the foot of his bed. Then it freaked me out a little because that's Monster's under the bed stuff!


Don't be afraid of the dark (1973)
This one freaked me out so bad when I thought Alex was going to save the day and get home before Sarah got dragged down the hole!

I still can't figure out how Guillermo del Toro dropped the ball so bad on this one in 2010?! He did such a great job on his other creepy films, but between the lousy CGI monsters and not so great casting it really let me down.   


Trilogy of terror (1975)
One of my favorite tales has to be the one with Zuni Warrior Doll!
And if you would have told five year old me that I would have this bad boy on a shelf with other favorites I would never have believed you. HA HA HA
And yes I've taken the gold chain off of mine, but he just sits there.
I think...


Burnt offerings (1976)
"Hello young man, your Grandmother is going to be killed by the ghost of a hearse driver

your Mother is going to turn into a long dead old relative of ours

your Father is going to do a high dive onto the hood of the family
car

and the house itself is going to kill you with the chimney.
But hey it has a huge swimming pool.

This one really kicked my ass at six years old because once everything started happening I was like I would have had a meltdown too after seeing a hit like that on the family car!  


Curse of the black widow (1977)
Woman turns into giant spider and makes men dinner

But gets destroyed at the end there's a couple twist and turns to this one so I'll leave this one spoiler free. 
But I will tell you I laughed till it hurt when when I was seven and my neighbor back then told my Dad he almost had a heart attack. He was watching the last part of the movie with his two year old daughter sleeping behind him. She woke up during the final spider fight took her stick horse that she was sleeping with
and put the head over his shoulder. He said he almost jumped six feet off of the couch! 


The Bermuda depths (1978)
This one picked up where JAWS left off with ruining any enjoyment of the ocean for me... 
Kid becomes friends with a cute girl, hooks up with with her years later


 and finds out she made a deal with Satan to keep from dying on a shipwreck during the old days of the Bermuda Triangle.

And is somehow connected to a giant sea turtle
and the whole mess gets his best friend killed.


Salem's Lot (1979)
Just when I thought the Vampire Brothers scratching at the windows was scary enough

  Barlow busted in and I almost freaked right then and there!

This one really freaked me out! My parents let me stay up to watch the segments each night as long as I got up for school. I thought this was the coolest thing they had done ever, until I had to play it cool and make them think that I wasn't scared $#!tless the whole time. I was not expecting Mark to have a bedroom that was set up allot like mine back then complete with a Wolfman poster! And once I saw Barlow make his first appearance I literally didn't sleep for three nights!