I Am Legend: Who’s the Monster?

Hi gang! This is the first of a series of horror-related posts I’ll be doing for my Reading In Genre: Horror Monsters course for Seton Hill University’s MFA in Writing Popular Fiction.  Dishing on horror isn’t really new to this blog (see my rant on creepy mannequins), but I’ll be getting a little more in depth with some of these stories. I’m sure plenty of ranting on both wonderful and terrible things will still occur. And so will spoilers, just so you know! So let’s begin with a super classic: Richard Matheson’s I Am Legend.

legend

This story is a classic vampire tale, originally published in 1954, that tells the story of Robert Neville, who may or may not be the last human on earth. I previously read this story back in my ultra Goth days when I devoured anything and everything vampire. I vaguely remember not really caring for this story when I first read it, thinking it wasn’t romantic enough for my tastes at the time. Now, older and maybe wiser, I find on my second read that I still don’t care for it. I respect it as a classic in its genre, one of the staples that fueled countless other stories and added to the wealth of vampire lore. The concept and theme of the story really hit deep (I’ll get into those in a minute). My main problem with it?

I don’t like Robert Neville.

Maybe in the beginning I felt for him, drudging through his day, going through his daily routine. He’s extremely meticulous about taking care of his home, his supplies, everything. I guess you would have to be, to make sure you can survive the nightly onslaught of the perpetually annoying vampires that throw rocks at your house (no supernatural strength or quickness in these baddies; thankfully no sparkles either). But I feel like Neville’s alcohol dependency and his reactions to the female vampires are just overly cliche. I suppose Neville is more the example than the cliche, considering how old this story is. But I think for modern readers it just doesn’t translate as well. He drinks himself into a stupor several times, to avoid thinking about his situation. Not an atypical reaction given the situation, but he doesn’t just drink. He drinks, then dramatically stumbles about cursing the vampires, his life, gets mad, inevitably smashes something or cuts himself, then goes to bed. I can plausibly see how someone would react to possibly being the only human left on the earth by drinking lots and lots of booze. But it makes me wonder if Neville had this tendency before the plague infected everyone. He also gets pretty violent when he’s drunk too. Did he ever have violent tendencies, or any history of drunken rampages before all this, or is this just a byproduct of the end of the human race?

Neville is also overly dramatic in his reactions to the female vampires in the beginning of the story. One of the reasons he ends up getting drunk all the time is to forget about the women outside, trying to draw him out by flashing him or posing lewdly when he’d look out the peephole. Okay, I understand that we all have needs. I get that. But in this first part of the book, when he’s over-reacting to these women and feeling the urges crawl through him and it’s almost too much, it’s only been FIVE MONTHS since he’s been alone. Now my boyfriend, the always-insightful Natty Ultra, tells me that this is perfectly natural. Maybe it’s my gut reaction as a woman reading this that makes me think “c’mon dude, really?” I wonder if simply just taking care of business on his own would have helped Neville’s urges. But again, this was also written in the 50s, so I guess mentioning things like, ahem, taking care of one’s self, probably wasn’t kosher to write about. I do have to mention that later on, as the years go by and Neville becomes more and more solitary, he loses the creep/drunk factor some, and goes for more of the hermit look. And he doesn’t even try to make any advances sexually at Ruth when he finally does talk to someone, though he still acts a bit like a creeper. But at that point it had been a few years since he’d had contact with anyone, so I’d give him a pass.

In the end, I don’t know if we’re really supposed to like Robert Neville, or root for him. In the context of monsters, obviously we start out thinking that the vampires are monsters. But Neville goes around on a daily killing spree, dispatching death to every vamp he comes across, even after we find out that there are “living” and “dead” vampires. So he’s effectively killing people, even though those people may want to eat him too. Does that make him the monster? By the end of the story, when the living infected are trying to rebuild society, they certainly see this artifact from a time long dead out killing their people to be a monster. And isn’t that what the vampire essentially is? An artifact, from a time long dead, that shows up and tries to eat us. Neville thinks he’s the prey, so he turns into the hunter, and teaches the infected people to fear him enough that they have to publicly execute him by the story’s end. Even though I never liked Neville to begin with, I’m glad he at least gets to go with dignity, and close the circle that he left open.

The monster has to die at the end.

 

Creepy Mannequins are Creepy

So I’ve never been much of a Silent Hill fan. Not that I don’t think the franchise is crappy; the first game scared the pants off of me. I tried to play the whole way through and just couldn’t do it. Even if I played at high noon with the lights on for good measure, and my mom in the next room. Still couldn’t get through it. I saw the first movie by myself, trying to prove that I could watch something gory and creepy and be a brave little geek (it didn’t quite work). While I didn’t find that I needed to have my mom with me, the ick factor made me cover my face more than actually watch it. I just don’t do ick very well. I can write the hell out of it, but seeing it is different. So imagine my surprise when I watched Silent Hill: Revelation and actually found it not too bad. There was still ick, which I tried to watch and just felt grossed out. And the acting wasn’t phenomenal, even with Sean Bean (Silent Hill is coming!). What made me actually enjoy the movie? Two words:

Mannequin Spider.

 

Kim Cattrall's got nothing on this guy.

Kim Cattrall’s got nothing on this guy.

Mannequins are creepy, right? Even when they’re not animated and trying to eat your face. The mannequins at the mall, those creepy old dolls, even some dress forms can be menacing. Throw in several heads that scream and try to eat you and you’ve got…this. And then this creepy dude webs you up, then when its ready apparently it undresses you and lays you out on a table so evil goo can come out of nowhere and coat you like a truffle.

Note how Mannequin Spider has to rest his creepy hands on her plastic boobs.

Note how Mannequin Spider has to rest his creepy hands on her plastic boobs.

I won’t ruin the rest of it but even though this guy is disturbing, this was also the one part where I didn’t have my eyes half covered, and I was saying “this is badASS!” while simultaneous saying “this is way creepo!”

Pyramid Head, we still love you. Naughty No-face Nurses, same to you. Creepy Mannequin Spider deserves to be up there with you in the iconic Silent Hill cast of monsters.

Now as for the game…maybe I’ll try it out. When my mom comes to visit.

 

 

 

 

 

I AM DA LAW!!!!

So I’ve been having a bit of a movie fest lately, mainly because when you watch a movie you don’t have to move, and rest is required for me to be in a consistent conquering mode. So the other night I watched the new Judge Dredd movie, titled Dredd. The fantastically frowny Karl Urban plays the badass judge in what I thought was actually a decent reboot. I did miss a little of Sly’s mutter-grumbles, and his big heartfelt proclamation of “I am the Law!” But Urban does a nice job channeling Dredd’s complete dedication to the system, while also kicking ass and spraying blood and organs all over the place. And he’s the Law too, and definitely shows it. I also loved Lena Headey (of Game of Thrones and 300 fame, among others) as the gang lord Ma Ma. Man that chick is a nasty badass.

So the only problem I really had with this film (and I didn’t have any expectations going in), was that while Dredd is very serious about what he does, his frown just made me giggle. Over and over. Because he looks like Grumpy Cat. And that is hilarious. So if you can get past thinking about our favorite frowning feline, give Dredd a try. It’s entertaining.

The Law is upheld…Good.

 

Bastion: One of the best DL games you will ever spend points on

So last night I finally finished up playing Bastion, which I purchased off of XBLA a few weeks ago after reading some stellar reviews in Game Informer. I’ve gotten quite a few games now off of the arcade and I can honestly say this provided a rich yet succinct playing experience well worth the 1200 Microsoft points. The soundtrack alone is full of range and definitely different from your typical fantasy RPG fare. It has traces of blues, world music, and haunting melodies and lyrics that stay with you long after you turn off the game. The art is lush and colorful, not too cartoonish, and just busy enough to keep the eye engaged. Controls are simple and easy to use, and there isn’t much in the way of menus or inventory to really worry about.

The neat aspect of this game that really sets it apart is the presence of a narrator, who is an omnipotent viewer through the whole game. His stories and comments help to build the story and history in a way that keeps the pace form getting bogged down while you’re moving forward in the game. Even the comments when you fall off the edge of the world lend to the building of the game’s mood (and believe me, I fell a lot. A whole lot. But I also tend to get stuck on fences and fall all the time anyway. In other games. Not in real life. Really.).

I got all 12 achievements, which wasn’t too difficult to manage. It requires a second playthrough, but you’ll probably want to do that anyway. Once you beat the game you can start a New Game Plus, which allows you all your weapons and techniques, and allows you to really experiment with combos of weapons. Plus, there is a huge choice at the end of the game. Once you choose, you’ll want to go back and see what would happen if you chose differently.

Supergiant Games has done a spectacular job creating a different kind of fantasy RPG experience that satisfies the need to break out of the mold, while giving a solid dose of story. Go download this game now, you will not regret it. Unless you hate this kind of stuff.

Back in (Mostly) Black

Alright, after a brief hiatus, I’m ready to roll out the geektasticness once again.

Okay, so brief meant over a year, but who’s counting?

The Tentative First Steps

This marks a new path for me, one that I’ve been contemplating for quite a while now. I will fully admit that I have struggled with severe writer’s block for at least a year or more, and that simply will not do. I don’t feel like I can call myself a writer, when I’m not writing ANYTHING. So this blog, in theory, should ease me back in to the hot throes of writing. Right?

It’ll be an adventure, at least.

So, welcome to my experiment in fighting writer’s block. My weapon of choice to bring the joy back into sitting in front of the keyboard? Ranting and opinionating about the things that bring me joy. Mainly gaming. Though I’m currently an Xbox girl, I certainly don’t limit gaming to my beloved console. This includes other consoles (sorry PS3, I can’t include you yet, though I would love to), PC gaming (ok, by this I really mean WoW), board games, and other ventures into competition, survival and escapism. Occasionally I’ll toss in a movie review, book question or other such geek nonsense, just to spice it up. Whatever makes me happy, will maybe make you happy too. Or at least pique your interest.

Come along with me, into the belly of the beast.