Jul 20 2014

Doorways To Horror

One of the many short lived crazes of the 1980s was VHS games. The idea was that watching and playing along with a video tape would add a new aspect to board games. Maybe this was an attempt to deal with increased competition from video games or maybe it was just a way to cash in on the VHS boom. Whatever the reason was, this craze saw the release of a game called
Doorways To Horror from Pressman Toy Corporation in 1986. I have long since forgotten the rules, but the basic idea was to watch the tape packaged with the game and to follow the instructions provided by the narration. Here’s a short clip from it to demonstrate:

I personally cared less about the game and more about the tape of horror movie clips. I only recognized a handful of clips when I first watched it and although I was able to identify more over the years, there were still plenty whose origins eluded me. Even my fellow members of Gravedigger’s Local 16 could only help me name a few of them! Thankfully many knowledgeable people at the Latarnia and Classic Horror Film Board forums were kind enough to help me fill in the blanks. I even learned that board game design legend Sid Sackson had a hand in its creation. So for the first time ever online, here is the complete list that identifies which clip comes from which film in Doorways To Horror:

Creature from the Haunted Sea
Curse of the Swamp Creature
The Terror
Medusa Against the Son of Hercules
Bride of the Monster
White Zombie
The Beast of the Yellow Night
The Phantom Creeps
Night of the Living Dead
Bride of the Monster
Johnny the Giant Killer
Nightmare Castle
The Ape Man
The Witch`s Mirror
Spooks Run Wild
The Little Shop of Horrors
Night of the Living Dead
World of the Vampires
Curse of the Crying Woman
Curse of the Crying Woman
Curse of the Crying Woman
World of the Vampires
Curse of the Crying Woman
Curse of the Crying Woman
World of the Vampires
The Monster Walks
Hillbillys in a Haunted House
World of the Vampires
World of the Vampires
The Monster Maker
World of the Vampires
Curse of the Crying Woman
The Lost World
Curse of the Crying Woman
White Zombie
White Zombie
White Zombie
Circus of Fear
Curse of the Crying Woman
The Beast of the Yellow Night
The Witch`s Mirror
The Beast of the Yellow Night
World of the Vampires
White Zombie
Popeye Meets Sinbad the Sailor
The Witch`s Mirror
Clash of the Wolves
White Zombie
The Witch`s Mirror
Popeye Meets Sinbad the Sailor
I Was a Teenage Werewolf
White Zombie
The Beast of the Yellow Night
The Witch`s Mirror
World of the Vampires
Popeye Meets Sinbad the Sailor
The Man and the Monster
The Witch`s Mirror

In case you were wondering, the clip above covers the first nine films mentioned. Sadly the awful jokes continue for the rest of the game. I get the feeling certain clips were chosen for their potential for jokes. Why else would anyone use footage that features an ordinary chimp in a game like this? But on the other hand they skip scenes with tons of potential for humor, like the unintentionally hilarious giant octopus scene from Bride of the Monster. Also baffling is the decision to present footage from the color film Medusa Against the Son of Hercules in black and white! Did they somehow get a black and white print of the film prepared for television syndication? And why didn’t they use any footage of Medusa? I’m not talking about a woman wearing a wig made of rubber snakes either, as that film’s “Medusa” is some kind of one-eyed walking tree thing. It’s not like they could have passed it off as some other type of monster if they wanted to. Oh, did I forget to mention that aspect of the tape? Characters from White Zombie and Circus of Fear are referred to as vampires and any monster with facial hair is called a werewolf. One of my favorite examples is how they use scenes from the Clash of the Wolves for one of the werewolf segments. Not only are the wolves obvious German Shepherds, but the film is actually a silent western starring Rin Tin Tin! The only clip that features an actual werewolf is the one taken from the trailer for I Was a Teenage Werewolf, complete with narration and onscreen text. But if they felt that footage from trailers counted as being in the public domain, why didn’t they use footage from trailers of the classic horror movies that the cover art implies will be in the game? I can’t say I blame them for constantly using clips from Mexican horror movies, as those tend to have a lot of stuff crammed into their plots. But why mine White Zombie and cartoons for so much footage and only touch on The Lost World once? Come to think of it, why did they use a clip from Metropolis in Doorways To Adventure when it would have worked better in this game? That game’s tape is much longer than Doorways To Horror and it makes more sense in the context of a horror game. But despite all of my criticisms, I do have a fondness for the tape. Even though I lost the game and packaging years ago, I still have the VHS that came with it. It was my first exposure to many films I would enjoy later in life and hearing the theme music always makes me smile. Even the films whose clips were only recently identified for me brought a thrill as I thought of all the interesting horror films that are out there.

But don’t get your hopes up for the game being revived for disc-based media any time soon. Despite being sourced from many apparently public domain sources (with the seeming exception of Hillbillys in a Haunted House), a good chunk of the films have either had their copyrights restored or could potentially have them restored in the future thanks to developments set in place by the GATT agreement. I have heard some claim that NAFTA is responsible for Mexican films having their copyrights restored in America. But even if that was not the case, there’s still the matter of its VHS origins. The reason the VHS game craze ended was the lack of interactivity. The tape was the same each time it was played and the promised differences in gameplay were just minor variations on which player would win. Playing along with the tape only became more and more of a chore after each gaming session and this is true even if the game is ported onto a new format. The only VHS game with any long term success that let it survive into the age of DVD was the Nightmare (aka Atmosfear) series, which often required buying new tapes in order change up the games. In fact, one of its DVD installments was released by Pressman! Although DVD games are more popular than their VHS counterparts, with the Scene It? series arguably being the most successful, putting Doorways To Horror on a disc would not cut it. Given the massive storage capacity and use of chapters on DVDs and Blu-rays, it would make more sense to create a new game that would randomly play clips so that it could be played multiple times without getting boring. But with streaming content seemingly set to replace disc-based home media, one wonders if such games have any future left at all. Thank goodness everyone who has enjoyed watching them will always have the memories.

Jul 18 2014

6′+ Episode 114 is Up!

2013 Logo IconTo quote the description given at the new listing:

“Join for a chill, summer vacation with exotica music from The Metrolites, The Jimmy Psycho Experiment, Mr. Ho’s Orchestrotica, Clouseaux and much more. Monstermatt Patterson gets turned into a tiki idol and the island sinks.”

Remember to email 6′+ (contact at 6ftplus.com) or leave a comment below about the show, whether you liked it or not. Tell your friends, leave a review on iTunes, but above all – enjoy.

You can find all episodes of 6′+ over at the official site as well as on iTunes, Stitcher and Spreaker. They’re also on Facebook and Twitter.

Jul 16 2014

Must Take Test Before Seeing “Dementia 13″

I hope you studied!

Everyone in town is talking about the “D-13″ test which the producers of “Dementia 13″ require to be taken before you are permitted to see this shocking, horror movie now playing at the Leathbridge Theatre.

Unprecedented in the annals of Hollywood, this is a test to determine the ability of the individual to withstand the shock and if it proven that the person’s emotional stability is below par, it is recommended, for his own protection, that he not see this picture.

The test was prepared by William J. Bryan, M.D., of Los Angeles, the first medical doctor to specialize in the full-time practice of medical hypnosis.

Dr. Bryan explains, “Certain people are adversely affected by violent motion pictures. My test will determine their ability to withstand shock. Those unable to pass this test, for their own protection, will be asked to leave the theatre.

Starring William Campbell, Luana Anders, Bart Patton and Mary Mitchel, “Dementia 13″ was produced by Roger Corman while it was written and directed by Francis Coppola.

Although the cast and production team is mainly American, the film wa shot in Ireland in order that the ultimate mood and effects could be achieved. In fact the cast and crew lived in a small village by the quaint name of Newtownmountkennedy. The exteriors are filmed in various places around the Irish countryside including famous Howth Castle, while interiors were shot at the Ardmore Studios in Bray near Dublin.

“Dementia 13″ is a Filmgroup Production for American International release.

[This post is based around one of many prepared articles included in the pressbook for Dementia 13. With the exception of adding a theater name in order to mimic how this would have looked in an old newspaper, the article has been unchanged. To see more (including the "D-13" test), head on over to Zombos' Closet of Horrors. Despite the gimmicky nature of the "D-13" test, Dr. William J. Bryan was not a fake name cooked up for publicity; he was a real doctor and even appeared in the original prologue for the film. Said prologue is currently missing, as it was either removed for TV showings or by theater owners who didn't like the idea of potentially turning away customers after the film's initial run finished. However some footage from it can be seen in this trailer.]

Jul 11 2014

6′+ Episode 113 is Up!

2013 Logo IconTo quote the description given at the new listing:

“Our yearly international celebration spans the globe, with music from Jinetes Fantasmas, Angry Jerks, Los Morts, Voodoo Zombie and more. Listen as Strange Jason mangles at least five languages. Monstermatt got deported! It’s all zany and out of control.”

Remember to email 6′+ (contact at 6ftplus.com) or leave a comment below about the show, whether you liked it or not. Tell your friends, leave a review on iTunes, but above all – enjoy.

You can find all episodes of 6′+ over at the official site as well as on iTunes, Stitcher and Spreaker. They’re also on Facebook and Twitter.

Jul 09 2014

Free (Legal) Download: Decay

Decay?  Yay!

Back when CERN and the Large Hadron Collider were in the news, some people expressed concern it could result in black holes causing the end of the world. But what the subject of this installment of “Free (Legal) Download” reveals they really should have been worrying about zombies. Decay was actually filmed on location by physics students (although CERN did not authorize nor endorse the film itself). Said filming started in 2010 and the completed movie was posted online by H2ZZ Productions on December 8th 2012. Although made in Switerland, it was filmed in English.

Do not let its being made by students or having an online release fool you into thinking this is a short horror film. Decay is a full length feature film and its being online is due to it being available for download under a Creative Commons license. Not only do its makers encourage downloading the film, they also are okay with people reediting and reusing footage for noncommercial purposes.

Decay can be downloaded at the film’s official website, which also offers downloadable subtitles in a variety of languages for use with the free VLC media player while watching the film. But it gets even better! The soundtrack for Decay is also being offered as a free download (and is also being offered under a Creative Commons license). As I noted in my article on The Werewolf Cult Chronicles, Creative Commons horror films are the perfect way to pump some much needed new blood into the selection of films being used in the horror host community. Hosts whose shows air on public access channels could probably play it for free while those playing on channels receiving ad revenue (or who want to release the episode featuring it onto home video or as a paid download) could most likely license for far less than what your standard horror movie would go for. In any case, interested parties should contact the filmmakers through their website before using the film.

Creative Commons License

The image illustrating this article was licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 License. The rest of the article is copyrighted by Gravedigger’s Local 16.

As always, Gravedigger’s Local 16 is not to be held responsible for anything that may occur (be it good or bad) as a result of downloading from any links given here. Attempt at your own discretion. Blah blah blah…

Jul 04 2014

6′+ Episode 112 is Up!

2013 Logo IconTo quote the description given at the new listing:

“Celebrate the 4th of July and Canada Day with music from both countries as well as Heather Buckley’s Oddscurities (we talk WAXWORKS 2) The Monstermatt Minute, music from The Creepshow, Black Cat Attack, The Brains and more – plus the debut of Kraig Khaos’s Killer Kuts!”

Remember to email 6′+ (contact at 6ftplus.com) or leave a comment below about the show, whether you liked it or not. Tell your friends, leave a review on iTunes, but above all – enjoy.

You can find all episodes of 6′+ over at the official site as well as on iTunes, Stitcher and Spreaker. They’re also on Facebook and Twitter.

Jul 03 2014

Quick And Dirty Alien Artifact

A friend of mine is having an “Area 51″ themed Halloween party and asked if I would be willing to come up with some decorations. He already had an awesome prop of a grey alien in a cryochamber from last year (created from a cylindrical Coca-Cola ice cooler he salvaged from a local convenience store) as well as some nifty plasma globes, fog machines, and lighting effects from his DJ set-up. After a little back and forth we decided I would do some alien artifacts and specimens that would be displayed around the “facility” in his garage.

After spending $2 on a pair of children’s puzzles at the Salvation Army I had the makings of a “hyperdimensional energy tap”. The first puzzle was a four-sided pyramid made from nesting plastic squares, while the second included about three dozen trapezoid-shaped tiles that could be combined to form different animal shapes. After fiddling around for an hour, and the liberal application of some gel-type superglue, this is what I came up with:

The basic frame measures roughly 8″ by 6″ by 6″ and was formed by supergluing the pyramid squares together at right angles. The tiles from the animal game were then glued to the squares to provide some visual detail.

To provide a suggestion of age and some additional visual interest I added some scattered texture to the project by daubing on Bondo glazing putty. Once that was dry I spray-painted the whole thing with a black primer coat and then hand painted it metallic copper followed by a green wash in selected areas. That was all topped off by drybrushing the piece with some bright yellow and metallic antique gold. Here’s the final result:

I’m pretty happy with how it turned out, particularly for a one night project with no real budget. The bizarre geometry of the piece is purely the result of stumbling across a puzzle that had such interesting shapes, but it certainly captures the look of an alien technological artifact. If I ever try something like this again the only change I would make is the paint. I like the final color scheme, but if I’d used enamel paints with metal particles instead of craft acrylics the finish would look a lot more like real metal. Testors used to have an aluminum paint that you could drybrush on and then buff to a beautiful metallic shine

This article originally appeared at Propnomicon.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 License.

Jun 30 2014

Music to Game By IV

Just like last year, I’m here to take another look at the albums I reviewed for my “Music to Haunt By” article series with their use in tabletop role-playing games in mind. Also like last time, the order of the albums reflects the order in which I reviewed them and does not mean I ranked one over another. Although I had to remove some tracks for spacing purposes, you can find the complete tracks in each of the links. While the original reviewers reviewed the tracks in order, I decided to go out of order this time around. I think this lets me focus on similar tracks all in one go rather than repeating myself over and over again. It also lets me concentrate on what I feel are the “Best” tracks when it comes to gaming. Your opinions may vary:

IntrosoundThe Horrorville Haunt is an interesting ambient album due to its splitting itself into two halves: one for music and the other for soundscapes. Most of the music tracks have random effects playing throughout them and don’t seem all that useful for use while role playing (at least, in my opinion). But there are some that do fit the bill. Thanks to the use of an evil voice welcoming the listener and some circus-style music, “Tuned-in to Terror,” “Freddy’s Hallway to Hell!” and “Horror-thon” can be used together for an adventure in a circus or funhouse, either one that’s haunted or in a superhero RPG. “Tuned-in to Terror” can also be used in a haunted club encounter. “Shock! Chiller Movie Theme”offers low key piano work and minimal use of sound effects. Its musical “crawling” feel makes it perfect for encounters with insects. The soft opening buildup eerie music that starts “Underneath the House” is wonderfully understated and ethereal. It should be noted, however, that it cranks up the amount of odd effects towards the end. “Underworld Pt I-Trapped!” gives the listener the sense of wandering through a maze of tunnels. That, and the sound of growling monsters make it great for a dungeon crawl…as long as you don’t mind the electrically distorted “Help me” towards the end. “Underworld Pt III-Possessed” makes great use of a creepy music box and echoed mumbling in Latin while “Underworld Pt IV-Doomed” has plenty of snarls and growls, along with a musical sense of fearful wandering that only increases as time goes on. “When Crows Attack!” combines the sounds of cawing crows and wind while “Kruegerville Ghost Town” is great for explorations of abandoned areas thanks to its slamming shutters and hinges creaking in the loud wind (along with the occasional barking dog).

“Stinkin’ Flies!” consists of nothing but the sound of buzzing flies, which is great for scenes of slaughter, junkyards and other filthy locales. “HauntScape” makes the listeners feel like they’re surrounded by spirits swirling around you, thanks to its combination of wind and soft ghostly wails and groans. “Horror Thunder Storm” offers howling wind and rumbling thunder and lightning strikes and “Werewolf II” has just what you expect it to have. The ghostly breathing and pulsing noises of “The Soul Machine” would be great for a laboratory or, if you play Call of Cthulhu, a Tillinghast Resonator. Vampire’s Lair” features low wind, flapping wings and bats chittering. I personally found the chittering to sound kinda cutesy, so this might be better used with younger gamers. Adventurers playing Pathfinder and the like will surely appreciate your using “Forest Of Apparitions” during the inevitable forest encounters. There’s plenty of bird calls and insects faintly chirping, along with soft wind and the occasional monstrous groaning.

Attrition – Since This Death House was originally supposed to be the soundtrack for the unreleased zombie role-playing game “Death House,” it would make sense to use it in a horror scenario involving zombies. So although the album has only two tracks, the fact that each of them is over 22 minutes long will make use of them during gaming easy. The dark and foreboding opening of “Crawling” sets the tone for the rest of the track. There’s plenty of electro touches, wailing wind and various noises which remind me of malfunctioning machinery. It’s unnerving enough to use with a variety of settings, but the machine-sounding parts (and really spacey noises which come in later ) makes me think this is perfect for a laboratory, cyberpunk setting or a scenario like this. In contrast, “Dead of night” has a lower key opening that slowly builds up. Although more musical than the last track, there’s plenty of effects like pounding, wooshing wind and a police siren-like noises at points. It’s hardy to truly describe it, but it somehow creeps out the listener by making them not sure of what is going on (or what will happen in the future). I could see this being used while players explore a factory or navigate around a bottomless pit.

Grave Tone Productions – Only the opening and closing tracks of Dead By Midnight aren’t rock music. “Dying of the Day” would be a great to start a horror game with, as its opening has sounds of wind and soft piano work usher in a narrator who warns of the dangers present when the sun goes down. The rocking guitars of “Night Terror” are combined with tolling bells, wordless female vocals, ticking clock and children singing about a monster. Rattling noises and slow piano work give “Fatal Melody” an eerie feel. So much so that the energetic rock elements don’t detract from it. There’s a definite sense of creeping or ascending and the unisex chorus towards the end really adds to the effect. This could work in any spooky encounter. “Death Awaits” has a fast and heavy rock intro which sets the tone for the rest of the track. The unisex backing choir is very creepy and nicely meshes with the music box-like tones and modern horror stings. Considering the name of the album and use of a clock in an earlier track, the content of “The Final Hour” should not surprise you. “Graveyard Waltz” takes us outdoors, with plenty of appropriate effects like blowing wind, chirping crickets and frogs, distant howls (along with footsteps and a creaking gate) coupled with bursts of piano and spooky string work.

Read the rest of this entry »

Jun 27 2014

6′+ Episode 111 is Up!

2013 Logo IconTo quote the description given at the new listing:

“Concluding the retrospective on the first half of 2014, this episode premieres a new song from The New Jacobin Club, as well as music from The Surf Zombies, The Goddamn Gallows, Wolfmen From Mars and much more. Monstermatt Patterson gets lyrical but ends up tongue tied in another Monstermatt Minute.”

Remember to email 6′+ (contact at 6ftplus.com) or leave a comment below about the show, whether you liked it or not. Tell your friends, leave a review on iTunes, but above all – enjoy.

You can find all episodes of 6′+ over at the official site as well as on iTunes, Stitcher and Spreaker. They’re also on Facebook and Twitter.

Jun 26 2014

John Carpenter’s The Thing: The Musical

Do you like John Carpenter’s The Thing? Do you like Frank Sinatra? Then you’ll love the following parody from Jon and Al Kaplan:

If the Kaplans seem familiar to you, it’s because they’re the minds behind those hilarious Arnold Schwarzenegger musicals from a few years back. They are also responsible for stage play Silence! The Musical . You can learn more about that parody of The Silence of the Lambs, along with their other work, at their website.

Jun 21 2014

Free RPG Is Here!

It's that time of year again!

It’s Free RPG Day and once again we’re doing our own unofficial celebration to the event. If you missed our earlier post highlighting what items will be available this year, you can learn everything you need to know at the official Free RPG Day website. As usual, we’ve got a ton of free downloads prepared:

First things first, it turns out we missed several free downloads from Free RPG Day 2012! In addition to the Pathfinder adventures Shadowsfall: Temple of Orcus and Dawn of the Scarlet Sun, there’s also an introductory game kit for Conspiracy X 2.0, Quick Start rules for the Brass & Steel steampunk adventure The Case of the Croquet Mallet, characters for Dungeon Crawl Classics, EABA Lite and various other freebies.

2013 saw the release of the Pathfinder module We Be Goblins Too! and the controversial Better Than Any Man. The company behind that last one have more great freebies available on their website. As for this year’s Free RPG Day offerings, you can use this picture of Break From Reality Games’ GripMat as a quick and dirty map panel for miniatures. But judging from the video in that link, you should at least consider picking up the real deal.

More and more people are uploading their old homemade role-playing maps onto the internet. Thankfully the Play Generated Map & Document Archive was created to house them (and other old gaming aids). If that somehow isn’t enough for you, just repurpose old tunnel maps from Vietnam. Dave’s Mapper is perfect for generating your own maps while donjon has a random generator for just about anything you can think of.

Godzilla fans will surely appreciate how Toho Kingdom has D20 stats for various Japanese movie monsters which make for a perfect challenge to throw at high level players. Alternately, you can use the stats as completed character sheets and stage some amazing monster brawls. Daikaiju fans should also enjoy the free papercraft monster battle game Phantom Capsule. You can even try customizing it by using papercraft versions of your favorite giant movie monsters.

The online magazine d-Infinity has tons of free gaming stuff, both Lovecraft-related (and D20 no less!) and otherwise.

Those who want more Lovecraft should check out Propnomicon’s article about free downloadable handouts for Golden Goblin Publishing’s Island of Ignorance module. Propnomicon is also an excellent resource for paper props, fonts, documents, photographs and the like.

R. Talsorian and Hero Games’ Fuzion system doesn’t get much attention here and this grave oversight needs to be corrected immediately. Thanks to TranzFuzion, you can find plenty of downloads to suit your needs. Speaking of RPGs in need of more love, be sure to check out the free preview of Mindjammer.

Google Books shows there is plenty of handy information to be found in the previews for The Koboldnomicon and A Player’s Guide to Deminar. Fans of last year’s look at the creatures from Masters and Minions Horde Book 1: A Swarm of Stirges should enjoy what Masters and Minions Horde Book 2:
Maze of the Minotaur
has to offer.

If you’re in the mood for some occult adventuring in GURPS, Pawnshop is just what you need. These tips on scaring players should also come in handy.

Dream Pod 9 has lots of free role-playing stuff devoted to mecha and monsters while Hex Games has Qik Start rules for QAGS.

With all the changes to the various editions of Dungeons & Dragons over the years, games styled after the early versions have become very popular. The Valley of Eternal Rest from & Magazine is an example of a modern adventure for the 1st edition of Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, but most opt to create new systems in order to mimic classic gameplay. These “retro-clones” include (but aren’t limited to) Dominion Rules, Labyrinth Lord, OSRIC, and Wayfarers.

Here are two amazing resources for free RPG downloads: Darkshire.net’s Free Role-Playing Games and Eric Garrison’s Compendium of Free Role Playing Games. But that’s not all! Wizards of the Coast announced the release of a free download for Basic Dungeons & Dragons to help boost interest in Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition. For more gaming news, check out G*M*S Magazine.

Special thanks to the organizers of Free RPG Day for making the logo free-to-use!

Happy Free RPG Day!

As always, Gravedigger’s Local 16 is not to be held responsible for anything that may occur (be it good or bad) as a result of downloading from any links given here. Attempt at your own discretion. Blah blah blah…

Jun 20 2014

6′+ Episode 110 is Up!

2013 Logo IconTo quote the description given at the new listing:

“We review what’s come out in 2014 so far and find plenty – music from Night Nurse, Sam Haynes, The Surfin’ Wombatz, Thee Tsunamis and more. Monstermatt Patterson takes a trip down memory lane and winds up lost on another Monstermatt Minute.”

Remember to email 6′+ (contact at 6ftplus.com) or leave a comment below about the show, whether you liked it or not. Tell your friends, leave a review on iTunes, but above all – enjoy.

You can find all episodes of 6′+ over at the official site as well as on iTunes, Stitcher and Spreaker. They’re also on Facebook and Twitter.

Jun 13 2014

TGIF13: 6′+ Episode 109 is Up!

2013 Logo IconTo quote the description given at the new listing:

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year, and we celebrate with music from Motorzombis, First Jason, Coffin Nails, Zodiac and more. Monstermatt Patterson decides to take a dip in the lake while the lifeguard checks out in another MONSTERMATT MINUTE. Join in and let’s celebrate!”

Remember to email 6′+ (contact at 6ftplus.com) or leave a comment below about the show, whether you liked it or not. Tell your friends, leave a review on iTunes, but above all – enjoy.

You can find all episodes of 6′+ over at the official site as well as on iTunes, Stitcher and Spreaker. They’re also on Facebook and Twitter.

Jun 10 2014

Free RPG Day Is Coming!

Mark your calendars: the 8th annual Free RPG Day will be on June 21st this year! Here’s a taste of some (but not all) of the offerings that should be interest to our readers:

Castles and Crusades
13th Age
The Godsfall
Mage: The Ascension
Dungeon Crawl Classics/Xcrawl
Cosmic Patrol

To learn more information and view a a list of participating retailers, check out the official Free RPG Day website. No game stores in your area? Don’t fret, as we’ll be posting our annual collection of free gaming downloads on the big day as part of our unofficial celebration of the event!

Jun 06 2014

6′+ Episode 108 is Up!

2013 Logo IconTo quote the description given at the new listing:

“Life is busy and sometimes, work gets done on the fly. So join us in this motley crew of songs from The Lurking Corpses, The World Inferno/Friendship Society, The Independents as we put together this episode. We welcome back Heather Buckley as she talks WAXWORKS in the return of Heather Buckley’s Oddscurities.”

Remember to email 6′+ (contact at 6ftplus.com) or leave a comment below about the show, whether you liked it or not. Tell your friends, leave a review on iTunes, but above all – enjoy.

You can find all episodes of 6′+ over at the official site as well as on iTunes, Stitcher and Spreaker. They’re also on Facebook and Twitter.

Jun 04 2014

Movie Review: Neon Maniacs (1986) Trading Card Monsters

Neon poster Zombos Says: Fair 

We were sitting in Zombos' study. Outside, the Long Island winter winds blew the gray barren tree limbs to and fro. Paul Hollstenwall was visiting and brought alongNeon Maniacs. The Hollstenwalls live at 0004 Gravestart Lane, a few minutes’ walk from the mansion. Not far enough, if you ask me.

It’s always a lively and interesting time when Paul visits us.

Wait, that’s a lie. It’s always a dreadful time.

His taste in lame, pointless, movie-making is boundless, and he always manages to find yet another awful movie that’s worse than the previous one he’s subjected us to watching.

I warned Zombos our time would be better spent elsewhere, but he insisted on seeing the movie. He’s always insists. I don’t know why.

I poured the coffee and sambuca, and popped the DVD into the player.

When the world is ruled by violence, and the souls of mankind fades, the children’s path shall be darkened by the souls of the neon maniacs,” intones the narrator as the movie starts.

“What does that mean?” asked Zombos.

Paul and I shrugged our shoulders. Perhaps that art-house blend of words was just too deep for us.

“What are those, trading cards?” asked Zombos leaning closer to get a better look.

“Yeah, cool-looking, aren’t they?” said Paul. “Wouldn’t it be great if they had statistics on the back for each of the neon maniacs?”

“How do monsters from hell that no one knows about get printed trading cards?” asked Zombos. He stared at Paul and took a big gulp of sambuca.

The first scene is an odd one. A fisherman on the Golden Gate Bridge heads home for the night. He passes a big metal door beneath the bridge and finds a bunch of Tarot-like cards lying in a bleached-white cattle skull. Each card depicts a Neon Maniac. Yes, it’s all rather goofy. He stoops to look at them. The massive door behind him opens quietly. An axe wielding and deformed Neon Maniac sneaks up and stands over him while he looks at the axe wielding and deformed Neon Maniac’s trading card.

Cut to the axe going up, coming down, and the fisherman will fish no more.

I reached for the liner notes hoping to find an explanation for the significance of using trading cards.


Perhaps director Joseph Mangine was aiming for a marketing tie-in with Neon Maniac trading cards? See the movie then trade maniacs with your friends! Trading cards were big in the 1980s.

I read more of the sparse liner notes looking for answers.

…it’s the neon maniacs, a group of ruthless, outrageously attired and made-up killers who emerge from beneath the Golden Gate Bridge to wreak havoc on helpless teenagers [and fisherman too, apparently]. Where the Maniacs come from is never explained, nor why they live so close to San Francisco Bay, considering that water…is the only thing that can harm them.

So not only are they hideously deformed and fashion-phobic,they’re stupid. My favorite quote is "and the producer now says, ‘It was a much better script than a movie…’ ”

Great.I turned my attention, reluctantly, back to the movie. The incongruous lounge music didn’t raise my hopes of it getting better.

“My god, they look like the Village People,” said Zombos.

“Yes, they do, don’t they, like in some twisted sense of horror-hell,” replied Paul. “Pretty imaginative, don’t you think?”

I looked at my watch to see how much longer I would have to suffer through this pretty imaginative mess. I tried to excuse myself, but Zombos would have none of that. He likes to see me squirm.

“Where did that midget dinosaur with one eye in the middle of its head come from?” asked

Paul and I shrugged our shoulders. Zombos finally stopped asking silly questions and quietly watched this silly movie.

After teenagers are slaughtered in a park, the cops of course do not believe the lone survivor, Natalie (a fairly comatose Leilani Sarelle). She goes home. After watching her friends get beheaded, hung, and mutilated by the village people from hell, she puts on a bathing suit—in the middle of the night and all alone—and goes for a relaxing dip in the backyard pool.

All near-victims in horror movies should have Olympic-sized pools in their backyard so they can relax after their near-death trauma.

Just so we are clear on this, she is alone and it is the middle of the night, and right after her friends having been horribly mutilated and killed by outrageously dressed and deformed monster-freaks appearing out of nowhere. Me, you, and any rational person would think along the lines of ‘if they could appear in the park, they could even appear for a pool party.’ Clearly Natalie is no smarter than these Neon Maniacs.

And why the hell are they called “neon’ anyway? They don’t glow. They don’t even disco down!

One of them, the hairy caveman (he reminded me of television's Land of the Lost) lurks in the bushes watching her. He almost busts a move, but it begins to rain so he runs away. End of suspense; a close shave with hairy death to be sure.

“Wait, this is the best part,” said Paul with enthusiasm.

It was the introduction of the stereotypical spoiled and precocious movie adolescent who was also a budding horror director, sticking her nose into the mystery of the missing teenagers because that is what precocious adolescents with cameras do in movies. After Spielberg and Lucas shook things up, rich kids with cinema-blood started popping up all over the screen.

This rich kid, Paula (Donna Locke), is fun to watch as she exudes that I-told-you- so and I- know-better- because-I am-rich-and-can-afford-all-this-camera-equipmentstyle of cocky acting. With her baseball cap daringly tilted to one side and her starry-eyed determinism, I was hoping she would square off against
the midget dinosaur and poke its eye out. Or get eaten. I’d settle for either way.

She is also way smarter than the police as precocious adolescents in movies must always be wiser and smarter than their years. She is smart enough to find the obvious green goop trail the maniacs leave behind. Only she is smart enough to follow this plain as daylight muck trail to the big metal doors under the bridge. No
trading cards or cattle skull this time, just lots of dead white pigeons in front of the doors.

If any movie ever cried out for expository explanation, THIS is the one.

Mentally putting the green goop and dead white pigeons together, Paula comes back later that night with her really expensive video equipment to shoot night scenes without a light source. She’s that good. She hides behind bushes near the metal doors. Soon the Neon Maniacs leave their hiding place, only to be turned back by the oncoming rain. One of them trips into a puddle of water and starts bubbling, so now she knows their weakness!

She hurries home. A Neon Maniac goes after her while she is sleeping. Being precocious and clever, she’s prepared with a bucket of water and a water pistol.

How the maniac knew where she lived is not explained. The rain had driven them back inside, so none of them could have followed her.

I stared at my watch, willing the minute hand to move faster. It didn't work.

The next day, Paula, Natalie, and the requisite handsome but nerdy boyfriend realize everyone is in danger, especially all teenagers, of course, and they quickly devise a plan to arm all High Schoolers with water pistols at the Sock Hop versus Alice Cooper wannabees band contest taking place later that night. They give everyone a water pistol but forget to tell anyone when to use them. The Neon Maniacs show up on the dance floor to do the mashing-body hustle, panic ensues, and bodies are sliced, diced, and julienned in short order.

After much thought and dismemberment, Paula finally notices the big fire hose hanging on the wall and puts it to good use, dousing the maniacs until they scatter.

That should have ended the movie easily, but since some minutes were left, to fill with incongruous action, Natalie and her boyfriend run up a few flights of stairs to the locked Principal’s Office. Oops. Meanwhile, a graphic grue humor scene with the Neon Maniac surgeon operating on a chloroformed night guard suddenly stands out in this otherwise gore-light movie.

Now back to Natalie and her boyfriend and that locked office problem: no problem, they decide to make out instead.

“Wonderful story logic there,” commented Zombos.

“This is a funny scene,” said Paul. “The kids convince the police to carry squirt guns and go after the monsters.”

The police, in a 1950s Blob-styled these-kids-are-crazy-but-what-the-hell-we've-got-no
other-choice frame of mind
, along with the fire department, converge in front of the metal doors underneath Golden Gate Bridge. Water pistols and fire-hoses at the ready, they open the doors and search the surprisingly small storage garage the Neon Maniacs hang out in. Nothing is found and the kids are derisively told to get the hell out of there.

They do.

The chubby obtuse detective (obnoxious and obtuse detectives are always overweight in movies and television) in charge heads back into the garage after everyone leaves.

Without his water pistol.

Weird, colorful, lights and odd sounds coming from the derelict ambulance attract his attention.

He opens the ambulance’s doors and pokes his head in.

Bad move.

Neon Maniacs is so clumsily awful it's very enjoyable to watch with friends, a few beers, and low expectations. Sadly, there is no disco dancing or neon lights involved, and a trading card set was never issued.

This article originally appeared at Zombos’ Closet of Horrors.

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