The Nun – Movie Review

The Nun 2018

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Hey there horror fans, it’s Slick Dungeon here! A while back I took a poll on this blog to see what horror series I should review next and The Conjuring universe won. It took me a while to figure out the proper order of watching these films since there is more than one way to do it and I have never seen any of these. I found that the timeline recommended to be scariest starts with The Nun from 2018. I took a watch and I’m here to give you my thoughts. Do be warned there will be some mild spoilers for this movie so if you haven’t seen it, give it a look, come back here and then read the review.

I will admit supernatural horror where there is something like demon possessions has never really been my favorite type of horror. I don’t have anything against it at all and I can see why it really scares some people but it has to be of amazing quality to scare me. The only example I have so far where that worked for me was The Exorcistt and that might be because I was probably too young to watch it. But, I’m willing to give any good horror franchise a shot. Disclaimers out of the way, let’s get into the review.

The Nun takes place in 1952 in Romania. The feel of the film and the setting and atmosphere give the impression of a time even before that with its rural and remote setting in a peaceful (appearing) countryside. At the start, a pair of nuns are trying to keep something horrible locked away through the power of prayer. One of them is basically sucked away and presumably killed off screen. The remaining nun continues to pray but hangs herself.

Some time later a man with the curiously lazy nickname of Frenchie (you know because he speaks French) finds the dead nun hanging and the Vatican is contacted. From here the story really gets going. We meet a Father Burke and a Sister Irene who have been tasked with finding out exactly what is going on at the abbey. Sister Irene has not yet taken her vows although she is as committed as any other nun and truly believes in her faith.

A lot of standard horror tropes happen from this point. There is some lurking evil that people in the village seem to be afraid of. The abbey is seen as an isolated place where bad things have happened in the past and there are more than a few false scares and jump scares which turn out to be nothing but wind. And, of course, there are the real scares and the real evil residing in the abbey.

Things are suspiciously off when Father Burke arrives and it seems the abbey has its own way of doing things. It might be a little unusual but nothing too outright scary. That is, until night falls.

I don’t want to spoil too much of this movie but there are a few parts that really work well. My favorite was when Father Burke comments about graves which had bells on them. The idea was the people buried there were worried about being buried alive. The bells could be rung if that was the case and then someone would dig up the coffin and free the person. You can probably guess this but Father Burke ends up in one of those graves. It’s extremely claustrophobic and really is one of the scariest parts of the film.

The other standout scare in my mind was related to Sister Irene who is praying with a bunch of nuns to fight off evil. They disappear and we realize Irene has been alone this whole time. It wasn’t a jump out of your seat kind of scare but it was effective in giving me the creeps.

The rest of the movie is mostly standard horror stuff where the characters need to find out the background of what is haunting the place and figure out how to stop it. It turns out bombing in World War II interrupted the protections that were locking in the evil inside the abbey. There’s a bit of item and clue gathering and a final confrontation.

I will say, for my taste, this movie relies a little too heavily on jump scares and the third act feels almost more like an action film than a horror film to me.

But, here’s where going into something blind can be fun. And I beg your pardon here because I have to drop a pretty big spoiler to explain it. At the end of the events of The Nun we flash forward in time and see a university seminar in Wakefield, Massachusetts. This seminar is given by Ed and Lorraine Warren. We see them showing footage of a man being exorcised. This man is Maurice who we knew as Frenchie for most of the movie. As soon as I saw the names Ed and Lorraine Warren, something clicked in my brain. I was sure I had heard the names before. I knew the characters were from The Conjuring because I knew Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga were in that series. What finally came to me was the people they are playing are the ones who investigated The Amittyvill Horror. I actually did not know there was any connection to those movies and The Conjuring.

While I didn’t find this to be the most frightening or original of films, there are enough good scares and story hooks here to make me curious about the series. I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes from here.

If you like a movie with supernatural horror, a few good scares, and a whole lot of jump scares, this is definitely one to check out.

Faithfully yours,

Slick Dungeon

Marvel 616 Review – Tales to Astonish #42

Tales to Astonish Issue 42 Photo Credit: Marvel Writer: Stan Lee, Art: Don Heck

There are a number of heroes in Marvel 616 who are not well liked by the public. The Hulk is almost universally hated, Spider-Man has a decidedly split opinion even in his own neighborhood, and even the Fantastic Four have on occasion been the subject of public ire. Not so for Henry Pym, aka The Ant-Man. Later in his career there will definitely be things he is hated for doing but in this story, it’s important to remember the public either likes Ant-Man or is indifferent to him. To have a crowd turn on this hero would be unusual.

Yet that is exactly what a man named Jason Cragg does. Jason Cragg has a special power. He is introduced to us as he steps on a soap box and begins to speak, proclaiming, “I, Jason Cragg speak truth! Truth!” The crowd instantly trusts him. As Cragg does this, Pym just happens to be passing by as Ant-Man and seems completely unaffected. He’s wearing his cybernetic helmet and figures that must be somehow blocking whatever this voice is doing to the crowd. Cragg stirs up the crowd and tells them they should drive Ant-Man from the city.

We then get a flashback to a few weeks prior. You see, Jason Cragg was a radio announcer who was not good at his job. After delivering an ad one of the executives at the station says, “He sounds as convincing as a wet sponge.”

All super villains have to have origin stories. Some are amazing and super interesting and mind blowing. This… this is not one of those. At a nearby atomic experimental laboratory there was an accident where radiation levels were getting too high. Some of the particles seeped out before the scientist regained control and those radioactive particles apparently… went into the microphone Jason Cragg was speaking into at the time. Yep, supervillain via radioactive microphone. Why the particles went to that particular spot on the planet is in no way explained so, yeah radioactive mic is about all the backstory we get here.

Cragg finishes giving his ad over the air and suddenly everyone is buying the dog food he is advertising. My favorite line from this issue is a result of this ad, “We don’t even have a dog, but we can eat it ourselves!” That’s how persuasive Jason Cragg has suddenly become.

Cragg realizes his voice is what is causing this to happen and quits his job and just uses his voice to get free stuff like train tickets and steak dinners. That is until he happens upon Ant-Man in the middle of defeating some thugs. The police and public all praise Ant-Man and Cragg decides he has to test his mettle against Ant-Man. He figures if he can defeat Ant-Man he can defeat anyone. And with Ant-Man gone Cragg can basically rule the city.

Cragg goes on to tell such bold faced lies about Ant-Man as, “He pretends to be your friend, but he secretly despises you, as he does all who are normal-sized!” The crowd falls prey to these falsities and start to turn against Hank Pym.

Meanwhile, Ant-Man is getting an award from the police at their headquarters. Cragg interrupts and tells the police to arrest Ant-Man. They can’t resist and do try to capture our hero. Ant-Man uses a rubber band to launch himself away and avoids capture.

Cragg convinces the whole town to start looking for Ant-Man. Somebody gets the idea to use magnets so they can latch onto Ant-Man’s metal helmet. He has to remove the helmet, thus becoming susceptible to Cragg’s voice, in order to remain free.

Using his radioactive voice, Cragg demands Ant-Man reveals himself. Pym resists but ultimately is compelled to obey. Cragg wants to rid the world of Ant-Man but he’s no master villain. He literally has Ant-Man in the palm of his hand but instead of trying to smush him or anything like that, Cragg tells Pym to walk off the pier and make no attempt to swim or save himself from drowning.

Don’t worry too much though, this is an Ant-Man story and Cragg forgot one thing. Ants. Yeah, ants save Hank, even without a cybernetic command. They’ve gotten to know him and tend to show up whenever he is around so they get him out of the water pretty quick. Ant-Man escapes but Cragg vows to have one last battle with him.

Pym heads home where we get another diagram of his little elevator setup which allows him to get back into his lab even when he is small. Pym waits and watches until he hears Cragg is going to be a guest speaker on a television show. Pym decides that’s the place to confront Cragg.

We see Hank shrink down to ant size again and mention yet again his clothes are made of unstable molecules. He then uses his ants to infiltrate a building and grab a bottle of what Pym refers to as germs.

After that he heads over to the TV studio as Henry Pym. At some point he changes back to Ant-Man, although we don’t see it this time, so he can get his hands on a prop gun. As Cragg goes on the stage, Ant-Man climbs up his leg. Henry gets into Cragg’s ear and tells him to do exactly what he says. Pym reveals a gun pointed at Cragg, held by the ants. Pym basically tells Cragg to come clean and let the city know Ant-Man is on the level. Cragg doesn’t seem to care because he figures he can just contradict himself later. He clears Ant-Man’s name and Hank tells Cragg the gun was never loaded.

Cragg gets right back on the mic and tries to turn the crowd against Ant-Man but his voice isn’t working right anymore. See, Hank Pym arrived early and put microbes that cause laryngitis on the microphone. The crowd immediately turns on Cragg and drums him right out of town.

We end the issue with Henry Pym reflecting on the fact Cragg had a great power that could have been used for good.

So, to sum up the story here, a guy who was near a microphone got a super powered voice and tried to turn a city against its hero only to be defeated by a different microphone with laryngitis on it. Man, I love comics.

There’s not a lot significant in terms of the 616 universe that happens here. It’s mostly a silly story but it’s fun in its own way. It mostly just reaffirms Ant-Man as one of the good guys. It seems like Cragg was set up to be a repeat villain but I’m not sure if we do ever see him again. If so, I wonder if there will be any changes as to how he gets his power back.

Up next on the reading list we will be checking in on a brilliant inventor who has a suit of iron in the pages of Tales of Suspense #40!

Top 5 Sourcebooks for New Dungeon Masters

D&D Campaign Adventures for Mythic Odysseys of Theros - Available now @ Dungeon Masters Guild

Hello all, Slick Dungeon here. I can’t stand long intros to top 5 lists so I am going to get right into it. Just a couple of qualifiers first. These books are all intended to be used with the 5th edition of Dungeons & Dragons. Most Dungeon Masters who already have experience will likely have these books already so if that is you, this is probably not the post for you. But, if you are kind of new to Dungeons & Dragons and don’t exactly know where to start or which books are for what, these are the books I consider absolutely essential. You don’t necessarily need all of them to play but each one brings something of value for the new Dungeon Master. There is no particular order to these rankings because I do find them all equally valuable. Which ones are right for you is for you to decide.

(Note: this post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something through this post I will get a small commission at no extra cost to you)

5. Basic Rules

Before you spend a single cent on any Dungeons & Dragons books, you should make sure the game is truly for you. There are a lot of ways you can do this. You can play with an already established group either online or in person. You can watch live play sessions on YouTube or Twitch. You can play any number of video games based on Dungeons & Dragons. Those are all great but they don’t give you the most inside look at what the rules actually are. My recommendation is to start at the beginning and read the basic rules. You can find those by clicking the image above or clicking right here. There is no cost and if you only use these rules, you can still have a stellar game session.

4. Dungeon Master’s Guide

Cover Art by Tyler Jacobson

This one may seem obvious but if you want an expansion of the basic rules, you’ll need to get the Dungeon Master’s Guide. This book goes over the basics of how to run the game but it also has great advice on everything from what magic items there are, how to create memorable non-player characters, and how to create worlds and multiverses right at home. While no single source book can be all encompassing, this does a fair job of covering most situations you’ll find in game. I’ve read and re-read and re-re-read this book more times than I can count and I usually still come away with something new each time.

You can get your copy by clicking the image above or clicking here. This retails for $49.95 but there are often times you can find it on sale for less so watch for bargains.

3. The Player’s Handbook

Cover Art by Tyler Jacobson

As Dungeon Master you have a big job. Not only do you need to know the rules of the game, you need to know what the players know about the rules. For this reason, you’ll want to have a copy of the Player’s Handbook at your side. This book covers the types of characters players can make, gives a run down of the rules, and contains rules for things like magic spells which will be used in the game. While I have certainly read this book more than once, I refer to it less than my players do. I have a good understanding of the rules and where to look when I am in doubt. But, I don’t memorize every word in every spell or anything like that. Still, this is a vital reference and if you’re serious about playing, it’s one of the core rulebooks you cannot do without.

You can get your copy by clicking the image above or clicking here. This one also retails for $49.95 but again there are often times you can find it on sale for less so watch for bargains.

2. Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything

Cover Art by Wylie Beckert, Magali Villeneuve

Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything is the newest sourcebook on this list. I have it here because as good as the Player’s Handbook is, there were some issues with how rules for character creation happened. Tasha’s corrects some of those problems and gives more freedom to players on how to build their characters. I won’t get into the finer details in this post but it did make it so players were not quite as locked into things like every Half-Orc character having to have only certain bonuses just because they were a Half-Orc. In other words, you could have a Half-Orc who is really intelligent or charismatic etc. rather than one who just has tons of brute strength. In addition to that, however, there are also great tips in here for making puzzles and traps. Also, this has the Artificer class which is an extremely fun class to play.

You can get your copy by clicking the image above or clicking here. This one also retails for $49.95 but again there are often times you can find it on sale for less so watch for bargains.

1. The Monster Manual

Cover Art by Raymond Swanland

In a way, I’ve saved the best for last. This is my favorite of the core books. Whenever I am stuck for ideas about what to throw in front of my players, a flip through here always gives me inspiration. The Monster Manual is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a bestiary explaining the different types of monsters you can use in the game. If you’ve been playing with the basic rules, this manual helps to expand your options. And each creature gets not only a stat block to show you how to run it, but it also has good descriptions and details of where the creatures live, how they behave and what some of their goals or motivations might be. Using this book is very helpful to flesh out a session and the rules are generally clear about how to run the monsters in your own game. There are other books that expand on this one so if you ever do get tired of playing with what is here, you always have that option. But for beginners this is where to start for making great enemies (and sometimes friends) for your players.

You can get your copy by clicking the image above or clicking here. This one also retails for $49.95 but again there are often times you can find it on sale for less so watch for bargains.

Conclusion

There are my top five recommendations for sourcebooks for new Dungeon Masters. These will cover the basics for you and you can have months of fun with these alone. If I had to give you my top 3, it would be basic rules, Player’s Handbook, and Tasha’s Cauldron of Everything. The basic rules do cover a lot and the DMG is great to have but ultimately, you as the Dungeon Master, can come up with your own worlds with or without having every single rulebook.

In a future post I will go over my top 5 adventure books for fifth edition but it’s tough to play those without any sourcebooks whatsoever.

So, have you used any of these sourcebooks? If so, which one is your favorite? Let me know in the comments!

And, if you like these types of posts and want more of this type of content, consider purchasing one of the awesome books listed above through this post. It really helps out this blog when you do.

Adventurously yours,

Slick Dungeon

Halloween Ends – Movie Review

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

Happy Halloween everyone! Slick Dungeon here and I thought maybe the best way to close out the month of Halloween would be to do a review of the (supposedly) final chapter in the Halloween franchise, Halloween Ends. Do be warned there will be some big spoilers here so if you haven’t seen the movie yet, grab a big ol’ butcher knife, carve yourself a Jack O’lantern, put on the movie and give it a watch and then come on back here to read the review.

If you don’t know, the true birth of the slasher craze can be directly pointed to the very first of the Halloween movies. That one was made in 1978 with a shoestring budget and has sparked a ton of sequels, reboots, remakes and other media involving Michael Myers, the killer from the original film. It’s also got some content that has nothing at all to do with Michael Myers. And that’s not including all of the copycat movies and franchises that followed in the spirit and footsteps of the original.

This last movie, Halloween Ends is intended to finish the Halloween story (the one involving Michael Myers). I’m a big fan of this franchise, although some films in it are far better than others. And really, if you simply watched the original and stopped there, that would be good enough for me. I do like several of the sequels but you get everything you could want with the first one and from then on the best films in the series have hit on very similar themes. At some point I will do a deep dive review of all the movies in this franchise but for now, if you haven’t seen the original and you’re looking for a movie to watch on Halloween night, go watch it, you won’t regret it.

I’m going to give one more warning here before I go into the film review for Halloween Ends because to give this film its full due for a review, I have to spoil a couple of major points.

The last three films in the Halloween franchise are not reboots but rather intended to be direct sequels to the first film. Halloween (2018) saw Michael Myers return as the silent stalker from the original film, only years had passed. He was still pursuing Laurie Strode who had survived the events of the first movie. But in a fairly interesting twist, Laurie had not idly been waiting, she’d been preparing for this day, determined never to let anyone get the best of her again. Halloween Kills continued the events of the night from the 2018 film but also flashes back to other characters from the 1978 incident. The whole film is a rather interesting take on mob mentality and is one of the most brutal and bloody films I’ve ever seen, thus earning the title Kills.

While all three of the films, Halloween (1978), Halloween (2018), and Halloween Kills (2021) have seriously interesting things in them, Halloween Ends (2022) should be the most engaging and dramatic and also wrap up the story.

Well… it does wrap up the story. This was one of the oddest film going experiences I have ever had in that what I was feeling about the movie kept constantly changing.

The start was brilliant. There were lots of terrible things that happened on October 31 in Haddonfield Illinois and not all of them directly involved Michael Myers. We start by visiting the events of what happened to a character named Corey that night. As Myers was out on a rampage, Corey had picked up a babysitting job. The kid Corey is babysitting is a little terror and taunts Corey enough to freak him out. This causes the accidental death of the boy Corey is babysitting. Corey is put on trial and found innocent.

I thought this was a really interesting take because it’s a tragedy that had nothing to do with the main events we paid our money to see. And, the death of the kid Corey is babysitting is one of the most brutal I’ve seen and it was completely accidental. If the movie right after this really picked up the story of what had gone down with Michael and Laurie (who are on the poster as the main attraction) I think I would have thought this film was amazing.

Instead, most of the movie is about… Corey. Yeah. Michael Myers is in the film but it’s mostly not about him. It felt like a slog getting through the rest of the film because we were watching a movie about a guy we just met rather than a movie about the character who has been the big star since 1978.

I’m not going to spoil too much of the middle of the movie, except to say that a lot of it doesn’t make much sense, Michael’s ability as a killer come into question here, and Corey gets to be the killer. I almost think this would make a good movie if you watched the first scene and then forwarded to the final confrontation and left the rest out.

So, the question this movie tries to answer is, whether or not Michael Myers is gone for good. If you watched the movie, I don’t see how anyone could have any doubt Michael is done for. And his demise and eventual end is really, really satisfying. We see Laurie Strode do away with him and, seriously, she is the only character who should get to do that. And it’s done with such finality that those scenes had me cheering out loud. It’s just a major shame this film strays so far off from the story for so long. I really want to like this one and there are some absolutely fantastic moments any Halloween fan is going to love. But it just doesn’t add up to what we should have to make a great movie. The end of Michael is great and the wrapping up of Laurie’s story is really good but all the rest just does not work.

While I definitely don’t want them to reboot or remake or revitalize this series, I do wish we had just a stronger story here. I’ll say this. If you’ve seen the other Halloween movies you have to watch this one. If you haven’t started watching the series at all, watch the first one and know it remains the best of the bunch. Then it’s your choice if you want to continue but know there will be some rough moments ahead if you enjoy the franchise. And while Halloween Ends is far from being the worst movie in the franchise, it’s just not the best either.

Happy Halloween everyone!

Slick Dungeon

The Ravenstones: The Winter of Discontent

The Winter of Discontent by C.S. Watts

Note: this review was first posted on Reedsy Discovery, an awesome website that pairs independent authors and readers. To see the post there, click here.

If you are a book reviewer and want to contribute reviews on Reedsy Discovery, click here.

(Note: this post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something through this post I will get a small commission at no extra cost to you)

SUMMARY

Winter has descended upon Heimborn. The armies are at a standstill, waiting for the spring fighting season to begin. But waiting does not preclude plotting and scheming, or new adventures and miscues. It does not discourage the ongoing search for the final Ravenstone or for the answers to outstanding mysteries. It does not hold back efforts to find new allies in the battle for supremacy between the forces of good and evil.

A rival to Queen Olwen has emerged. Vulpé wrestles with his conscience. Fridis, undeterred by hazard or impediment, returns to an old haunt. Temorwig and Rithild put aside their differences. The mythic black wolves reappear. Don Grimezel shows signs of life but faces a new threat. Meanwhile, Eirwen and Parthanyx, like two great chess-masters, execute moves and countermoves.

REVIEW

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Winter has fallen. Eirwen and Parthnyx, both strategic military leaders have tried to best position their forces to gain advantage. But even as the snows fall, plotting, scheming, diplomacy, and coincidences favoring one side or another continue to play out. Eirwen and Fridis, the polar bear and eider duck who started off the series have come a long way. Fridis continues to learn more about the magical gems which have come into and out of possession throughout the series. She also learns some new and vital information regarding a missing stone.

While backstabbing, cover ups and military positioning continues, the weather is threat to both sides. Will the outcome of a long waged war be decided by calculated moves or through the waiting game of seeing who can survive a harsh winter?

The Ravenstones series continues to impress and fans of the previous books will find plenty here to continue to love. The most interesting aspect of The Winter of Discontent is not simply epic battles and grand bravado, but how diplomats and spies make the world of this series go around.

While most of this book is as good as the rest, the constant capture and then release of Fridis does seem a bit overdone in this volume. However, that’s not to say those scenes were not worthwhile. It just starts to feel to the reader that this will happen in nearly every book in the series. The interactions do lead somewhere but it starts to feel a bit repetitive at times.

The setting and expansive world created by C. S. Watts feels immersive and expansive and vibrant even when the snows come and the environment becomes desolate and events turn desperate.

With so many volumes in this series being so full of twists, turns and intrigues, if you are an epic fantasy fan and are not reading The Ravenstones books, you are doing yourself a disservice. Catch up while you can because the next volume is sure not to disappoint.

Call of Cthulhu Review – An Amaranthine Desire

Cthulhu Mythos - Available Now @ DriveThruRPG.com

Hello Keepers and Investigators, it’s Slick Dungeon. I’m here to review the first of the scenarios in Chaosium’s 7th edition anthology Nameless Horrors. As the name implies, these scenarios are not based on any monsters, creatures, or cosmic entities you might find in the Keeper’s Rulebook. The idea here is that every scenario should have a threat unfamiliar to even the most seasoned Investigators. There are six scenarios in the anthology and I will be reviewing each of them one at a time. They are set in different time periods and locations and can all be run independently of one another. And while some may be good to drop into existing long running campaigns, others are less suited to that purpose.

Please be warned, especially if you are in Investigator, there will be some spoilers in this review. If you are planning to play in this scenario as an Investigator stop reading now. If you are a Keeper who is considering running this scenario or thinking about purchasing Nameless Horrors feel free to continue. The review begins below the image.

(Note: this post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something through this post I will get a small commission at no extra cost to you)

Nameless Horrors, created by Paul Fricker, Scott Dorward, Matthew Sanderson with Cover Art by Victor Leza published by Chaosium Inc.

An Amaranthine Desire is initially set in the Cthulhu by Gaslight era with the Investigators all taking part in a covert smuggling operation in the city of Dunwich. Nope, not the one you are thinking. This is not the Dunwich of The Dunwich Horror but rather the Dunwich in England which is known as the capital of of the Kingdom of the East Angles but has since eroded into the sea due to multiple instances of intense storms.

The era in which the Investigators begin doesn’t have a ton of bearing on the scenario itself, so if you are running a campaign set in a different era and still want to run this one, it should work with only a few minor adjustments.

As the Investigators are about their secretive and illegal work, a major storm hits. This storm, along with the sound of church bells ringing, transport the group back in time to 1287, the year of the first massive storm to hit Dunwich. The scenario gives the reason for the storm and puts the Investigators into a situation where they need to find a way back to their own time, possibly find a powerful item wrapped up in the history of Dunwich, deal with the burning of an accused witch, and contend with one another’s various motivations.

The idea of the scenario is quite fun as there is a constant time loop that happens, sort of a Lovecraftian Groundhog Day if you will. And with the completion of each loop the Investigators age each time so the situation does become deadly. The time loop alone is not the only danger here and I would honestly be surprised if any party makes it out with no deaths at all.

I’m not going to give away any more of the plot here but I would like to call out what I find good and bad about the scenario.

In the good category, this is a really inventive situation and because there is no real warning about the time shift, your players will have to be creative and come up with solutions quickly to save themselves. Also, there are several NPC’s here who can be played in a multitude of ways from pure evil to morally ambiguous, making it a much more interesting scenario to run, with some replay potential for the Keeper with a different party. The pre-generated characters all have decent story hooks and good reasons to be smuggling at the beginning. Several of them also have connections to the events of the past which helps to move the story along. This is a one shot scenario made for around 4-6 characters and running it in 1-2 sessions is definitely doable here.

In the bad category, there were multiple instances of frustrating spelling and grammar errors in the scenario. Overall, this is a minor but distracting issue. The scenario itself is fairly complex and has a good amount of NPC’s so as a Keeper you’ll want to take notes as you read through. This is not so much of a “bad” thing, it’s just worth mentioning. The last thing which might be considered a negative is for the scenario to work best, it really does make the most sense to use the pre-generated characters. For that reason, I don’t actually recommend dropping this into an existing campaign without making some major changes to fit your current party of Investigators.

Overall, the inventive nature of the scenario, the unexpected twists, and the potential for surprising your players puts An Amaranthine Desire into the extremely fun to play category. Like with all scenarios, I do recommend reading the whole thing through once, then reading again to take notes, and skimming once more immediately prior to a session as there are a lot of moving parts here.

If you are looking to purchase Nameless Horrors you have a couple of options.

You can purchase it on drivethrurpg as a PDF here. Right now it’s on sale for $12 but it usually runs for $15. With this version you do only get the PDF so if you want a physical book this is not the best way to purchase. However, if you have the PDF you can probably just print out the relevant pages and handouts.

You can also purchase the softcover, which includes the PDF, from Chaosium’s website here. The cost here is $35. This version does have the advantage of being physical so the layout is easier to flip through and since you get the PDF, if you are willing to pay a little more, it is the better version.

So, have your played An Amaranthine Desire? If so, how did it go for your group? Let me know in the comments.

Namelessly yours,

Slick Dungeon

A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010) – Movie Review

A Nightmare on Elm Street (2010)

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Happy Halloween month horror fans! It’s me, Slick Dungeon and I’m here to review yet another A Nightmare on Elm Street film. Sharp eyed readers of this blog may notice I have reviewed every Freddy film up to this point in order. But, I’m making an exception here because I am skipping Freddy vs. Jason. The reason I am skipping over that one is I consider it to be part of my Friday the 13th review series and since that movie will be the last of those (come on we need a 13th Friday the 13th movie!) I will be releasing that review on the next Friday… the 13th. There isn’t one of those this October so you’re gonna have to wait. Also, you can probably guess who I am in favor of in this match up by that release schedule.

Okay, that out of the way, I am here to review the remake of the original film in the Nightmare series. This is the one from 2010 simply titled A Nightmare on Elm Street. Do be aware this review will contain spoilers so if you haven’t watched the movie, give it a look, reflect on whether remakes and reboots for horror should be a thing at all, try to sleep, have a nightmare or two, then come back here and read this review.

Wes Craven, Robert Englund, and pretty much anyone else having anything to do with the original series are not to be found in this film. Freddy is instead played by Jackie Earle Haley. It seems the intention behind this remake was to go back to Freddy’s roots and make him the dark, less quip-filled, character Wes Craven originally had in mind.

A lot of the elements of the original are here. The plot is not dissimilar from the first, although it is set in modern day. There is a man invading people’s dreams and if you die in your dreams, you die in reality. His name is Freddy Krueger and he’s a scary looking burned mess of a man who wears a glove with knives on the fingers.

This man has a history of committing unspeakable acts against children and the parents in the town are covering up the fact they murdered him. We even see a lot of the same scenes which were most memorable in the first movie. There’s the ceiling scene, yes that one, and also that other one too. We see the bath scene as well.

This is still a remake though, so there is a bit of a spin on the way the scenes are shot and not everything in the movie is identical. The plot is essentially the same though.

I think that may be the problem with this movie. The original A Nightmare on Elm Street film was groundbreaking. Wes Craven came up with not just a relentless killer, similar to Michael Meyers or Jason Voorhees, but who could appear anywhere. If he can invade your dreams you can’t escape him. It was a brand new way to terrify audiences. In 2010 if you had even seen a horror movie, you knew the story of Freddy Krueger. That makes it nearly impossible to bring new terror to this story.

The makeup they use for Freddy here is more realistic to actual burn victims but somehow it seems less terrifying. With Robert Englund, part of the appeal here is impossible things from your dreams could kill you, so if Freddy wasn’t exactly photo realistic, it didn’t matter, because he was still a dream.

And the CGI effects use here don’t seem as menacing as some of the simple film tricks from the first movie. The ceiling scene, where a victim is thrashed in the air has a nearly cartoonish quality in this film but seems utterly believable in the first one.

There is more of a clear explanation of Krueger’s history in this movie, it doesn’t elevate the story enough to make it truly terrifying. The directing of the film is good and overall the acting is not bad but it’s just not new in any way.

For my money, I would rather see a new innovation in horror than rehash an old classic. If you are a Freddy movie fan, this one is one of the few I would say is totally skippable.

Maybe I’m just biased here because I remember the original movie from when it came out. Are you a fan of horror remakes? If so, let me know in the comments. Maybe there is one that delivers better than this one, and I would be interested in seeing how it holds up.

Nightmarishly yours,

Slick Dungeon

Wes Craven’s New Nightmare – Movie Review

Wes Craven’s New Nightmare

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Hello horror fans, it’s me, Slick Dungeon! I’m back to review one of the most meta horror movies ever made, and the seventh movie starring Robert Englund as Freddy Krueger, Wes Craven’s New Nightmare. Be warned ahead of time there will be some spoilers so if you haven’t seen this movie about Freddy movies, watch the Freddy movies, watch this movie, then come read this review about the movie about Freddy movies. Got that? Good.

This film is a really unusual entry in the annals of horror. It’s made by Wes Craven, who, of course, made the first Freddy movie, and went on to create the Scream franchise. But this movie, in my opinion, is one that yet again proves Wes Craven is a true master of horror.

Freddy Krueger had been terrifying and delighting audiences for six straight films. That’s not counting television shows, novels, comic book, video games and other media Freddy appeared in. In other words, everyone knew wha to expect from Freddy. But fans were still clamoring for more. After all, Freddy is great at haunting our dreams.

When New Line Cinema wanted to do yet another Freddy movie, they could have gone in a lazy direction and just tacked on another movie or done a pure remake or reboot. Instead, they made a genius decision to bring back Heather Langenkamp, Robert Englund, and John Saxon who all starred in the first film. Only this time, Heather Langenkamp and John Saxon don’t play Nancy and Donald Thompson, they play Heather Langenkamp and John Saxon. Robert Englund does play Freddy, but he also plays… well, Robert Englund.

The movie starts out with us believing we are in a production set for an upcoming Freddy movie. This being a Nightmare film, it’s of course a dream and carnage quickly ensues. Heather wakes up in the middle of an earthquake and we realize this whole scene is just a nightmare. Heather has a son named Dylan who is played by Miko Hughes to an eerily creepy effect.

The movie starts to blur reality and fiction when Heather’s husband who is a special effects designer wakes up with a similar cut to one Heather dreamed. And, it turns out, in secret he is working on a new Freddy movie without Heather knowing about it.

The movie is basically about and entity who looks and acts a lot like Freddy but is much darker than the actual Robert Englund, trying to cross into our own reality. Just as in the first movie, Heather starts to sound less and less rational when she is explaining the situation, even though all she is trying to do is save her son.

There are moments of genuine terror here, some which rival even the first film. And if you are trying to detect a trend into which Nightmare films are the best ones, the first, third and New Nightmare all are standouts, and coincidentally, those are the ones which star Heather Langenkamp, John Saxon, and of course, Robert Englund. They terrify the most and those actors are highly believable.

The movie does operate a lot like other Freddy movies in that he shows up in dreams and kills people, and the main characters have to stop him. The fact this one is based in our own reality makes it just a bit more terrifying and realistic. While the third act is probably the weakest of the film, it does come to a satisfying conclusion and there’s plenty to get you jumping along the way.

So, if this one is so good, why didn’t it do better at the box office? After all, it’s one of the lower grossing movies in the Nightmare series. There’s a pretty simple answer, and it has nothing to do with the makers of this film. On the same weekend this was released, an independent film no one had heard of called Pulp Fiction came out. For that reason, a good portion of people missed seeing Wes Craven’s New Nightmare and this little gem would be less knows than Craven’s next foray into horror with the Scream series.

If you’ve seen the rest of the Freddy movies but never checked this one out, I highly recommend it. It’s very meta which is an interesting twist and it delivers on the terror.

Nightmarishly yours,

Slick Dungeon

Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare – Movie Review

Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Hey horror fans, it’s me, Slick Dungeon! Well, we’ve made it to the end, the final nightmare! Freddy’s dead right in the title so this has to be the last one. (Checks notes) Uh.. except for the three other films made after Freddy was dead? Anyway, if you haven’t caught on yet, I’m here to review the last of the main series of A Nightmare on Elm Street movies, Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare. Be warned there will be spoilers ahead so if you haven’t seen the movie yet go watch it, try to get out of town in your beat up van, get lost at least three times, go to sleep, realize you are having nightmares, and come on back here and read the review just to stay awake.

One would think after the events of the fifth movie in this series we might check up on Alice and her son from the last movie but that’s not where we go at all. This film is set ten years in the future. Springwood where the events of the first five movies took place has no more children living there and all of the adults have gone insane. In other words, Freddy has won. But there is one teenager left. This is John Doe who at the beginning of the movie has a nightmare and is thrown outside of the town limits by Freddy. John wakes up not remembering anything about himself but knowing with absolute certainty he needs to stay awake and Springwood is a bad, bad place to be.

John is taken to a shelter where there are a few other teenagers down on their luck for various reasons. One of the workers there, Maggie, sees a newspaper article John had with him and knows the best way to find answers is to go to Springwood. She packs John up and three other teenagers stow away in the van.

You probably know what happens next once everyone is in Springwood. This is Freddy’s domain so he can invade dreams and because he seems to have the run of the town he can even prevent people from leaving, which he does.

The movie actually does a decent job of giving the teenagers some character and personality here. And the film gives more backstory about Freddy, including that he had a daughter who was taken away from him. It seems Freddy was into some pretty bad stuff even before they took his daughter but because the town did is at least in part why he keeps killing kids in Springwood.

Turns out Freddy needed John to bring back his adult daughter so he could go on to the next town and continue to spread his nightmares. There’s also a bit of a backstory about some dream entities that gave Freddy his powers.

While the story goes along fine and there are some scares, there’s also a fair amount of silliness in this one. That’s mostly been a part of these movies but it was usually scares over jokes but this one feels like the comedy is a bit more pronounced.

And this movie was originally created to be shown in 3-D so the last act with the final confrontation against Freddy just feels really awkward now. There’s a lot of staring at hands and waving pointy things right at the camera which may have worked with the original release but now just seems gimmicky and pointless. It’s an unfortunate end for what was almost a fine send off.

As always, the best part of the movie is Robert Englund doing his whole Freddy thing. In this one it’s nice because he does get a good amount of screen time without all of the makeup so you can see that he is a good actor even without all the makeup and effects.

If you’ve watched all the rest of the Freddy films this is definitely worth watching, just be prepared for an awkward third act.

I had seen all of these movies before but I actually haven’t watched most of the reboots, remakes, and whatnots so I’m really interested to see where those are going.

Nightmarishly yours,

Slick Dungeon

A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child – Movie Review

A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Hello horror lovers, it’s Slick Dungeon here. I’m back again to review another of the Freddy films with A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child. This review may contain spoilers so if you haven’t seen it, put your kids to bed, watch the movie and come on back here for the review.

For a series of films with five installments, the Nightmare movies have done a pretty good line of keep a consistent story. The only real miss with that was the second film but so far each movie has done something to build on the legend of Freddy Krueger.

Robert Englund is back again as the man in the worst of your dreams. We also pick up the story with Alice who survived the fourth film. She is able to tell Freddy is back but this time something is different. This time, he’s been killing her friends while she is awake.

Once again, no one believes the main character when they say Freddy is real and he’s coming to kill everyone, even after teenagers start dying rapidly in town. Alice still has her boyfriend Dan and even though he survived the events of the last movie, he still isn’t sure if Freddy is back.

Of course, we all know Freddy is back and we see him wade through nightmares and kill people who are unlucky enough to fall asleep when he can get to them.

The story of this movie gets a bit weird and wonky, which is why I can’t really give it more than three stars. On the plus side, it really goes into the origins of Freddy and his mother. On the minus side it still uses the whole, “lunatics in the asylum” trope and not very well either. Also, some of the effects probably looked great when it came out but now just seem like overkill. It sort of becomes too grotesque to be truly scary and you find yourself thinking, how long did they spend making it look like that, rather than just being frightened of what is on the screen.

The first film is so scary because while Freddy does kill you in your dreams, it sort of feels like all the dreams begin plausibly in reality and become horrors unexpectedly. This one feels more like when you walk through a Haunted House at a carnival or something. You know there will be things in there that are scary, you know they will be frightening to look at or might make you jump, but you also know it’s fake and just think about the production more than the story.

Even the tone of the background is darker, which oddly, makes it feel less real. While they definitely pull off some impressive makeup, the acting is fine, and they further the story, it just doesn’t quite work. I don’t think it is the worst of the Nightmare series but it’s far from the best one.

In addition, the characters other than Alice, Dan, and Alice’s father all just feel like tacked on friends you have to have in the movie just so someone can die.

The dream child itself is kind of an interesting idea but it just doesn’t quite work. Basically, the reason Freddy can kill while Alice is awake is because Alice is pregnant with Dan’s child. While the baby dreams, Freddy has an entry point into nightmares.

In the first movie, Freddy didn’t exactly need permission to invade anyone’s dreams so I’m really not sure why he has to have Alice as a connection but that’s still consistent from the last movie so I can’t fault it too much.

While a lot of this is sort of peak Freddy it’s just not the scariest Freddy so it’s not the best one. Still, if you want to know what happens in the series and why Freddy is able to come back, and theoretically how to stop him (but we know that’s only temporary) then this movie does deliver all of that.

We’re getting toward the end of the main line of these movies but I will be reviewing most of the reboots and spinoff movies as well so stay tuned for that.

Do you have a favorite Freddy movie? So far, I think the best one remains the first one. Let me know in the comments if you do.

Nightmarishly yours,

Slick Dungeon

Deadheading – Book Review

Deadheading by Paul Cristo

Note: this review was first posted on Reedsy Discovery, an awesome website that pairs independent authors and readers. To see the post there, click here.

If you are a book reviewer and want to contribute reviews on Reedsy Discovery, click here.

(Note: this post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something through this post I will get a small commission at no extra cost to you)

SUMMARY

Lewis’s life changes forever after waking up one morning to find the world’s population just gone. Stranded without food or water, he’s forced to use ingenuity to survive, foraging resources from the desolate city around him.

Until he discovers he’s not alone.

Lewis is threatened by a violent gang of gun-wielding scavengers led by a deranged madman. He learns these men are harvesting survivors, inflicting slavery and torture for a horrifying purpose. Outmanned and outgunned, Lewis and some newfound friends must band together, employing their collective wit and cunning against a deadly foe to avoid being killed. Or worse… captured.

DEADHEADING is a post-apocalyptic journey of survival, ingenuity, and a dollop of vengeance.

REVIEW

Lewis is an average loner. He’s living a fairly solitary life, hanging out at home, watching television, eating convenience meals and peanut butter cups. But around him, the world begins to change. A sickness permeates the globe and most of humanity dies off as a result.

Somehow, Lewis has survived on his own, unscathed watching it all unfold on television. Until there is no television. Or supermarkets. Or anything else you’d find in a modern civilized city. Including food and water. Lewis finally has to go out to scavenge food and water for himself in order to survive. It’s a difficult situation and potentially lethal.

It gets worse once Lewis finds other survivors. There are gun wielding lunatics who are oppressing other survivors through slavery and torture so they can live a comfortable existence. Lewis has found a way to grow his own food and take care of himself so these other people are a threat to everything Lewis has.

After an encounter with one of these groups, Lewis comes to find there are still some rational people left in the world. Now it’s on Lewis and this group of survivors to defend themselves from the gun toting madmen.

Overall, Deadheading does a good job of portraying what life would likely be like in a city devastated by illness almost to the point of zero population left. The beginning takes a little bit of time to get the story going but once it does there is plenty of action happening. A nice touch is that Lewis does not instantly go from being a couch potato to an action hero. The author, Paul Cristo, shows us how Lewis does his research and learns his way out of situations.

There are a few moments in the book that stretch the imagination a bit, but those are few and far between so they are ultimately forgivable.

If you like post apocalyptic fiction like The Walking DeadDivergent, or The Hunger Games but without any supernatural elements and a story more grounded in reality, Deadheading is the book for you.

A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master – Movie Review

A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Warrior

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Hello horror lovers, it’s me, Slick Dungeon. It’s still Halloween month so we’re diving into more spooky films. This time I am reviewing the fourth film in the Freddy franchise, A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master. There will be some spoilers for the movie below so if you haven’t seen it yet, give it a watch, realize you don’t want to go to sleep, and come back here to read the review.

This film picks up some time after the events of the third film in the series. Three of the teenagers who survived the last film are back. However, the role of Kristin Parker is now played by Tuesday Knight instead of Patricia Arquette.

Things have been relatively normal in the little town where Elm street is. It seems Freddy was defeated, but Kristin still sometimes has bad dreams, and still can pull in the other dream warriors Joey and Kincaid. We’re also introduced to Kristin’s best friend, Alice who will become central to the film.

Kristin is convinced Freddy is not gone. Her dreams get worse and whether she wants to or not, she keeps bringing her friends into her dreams. This allows Freddy access to the teenagers. One by one he visits their dreams. And one by one they start dying in reality.

Joey dies in an interesting call back to the way Glen died in the first movie and Kincaid does not survive his confrontation with Freddy. Kristin does realize their deaths are at least partly her fault since she brought them into her dream. And she knows Freddy is coming for her.

Kristin is also dating Alice’s brother Rick. While Alice and Rick have a hard time believing Kristin, they can’t deny the sudden deaths of their friends. One night, Kristin brings Alice into her dream and this is the link Freddy needs.

He is able to kill Kristin but Kristin transfers her dream powers to Alice before she dies. Alice, who is known to daydream a lot has a pretty deep understanding of dreams and catches on to the fact she is in danger pretty quickly. Rick still has a hard time believing her but he knows there is something going on.

Alice’s friends start dying, both at night and whenever they fall asleep in class. I will say, Freddy is responsible for all of the deaths, but I’ve noticed that in all of these movies, at least one horrible nightmare happens in class while a teacher is delivering a boring lecture. Maybe the poor school curriculum is partially to blame?

The rest of the movie is pretty much Freddy trying to get Alice to bring her friends into her dreams so he can kill them and Alice trying to stop Freddy. We don’t get a ton more background on Freddy other than him saying they shouldn’t have buried him.

While the acting is pretty good in this one, it is hard to get over the fact Kristin is not played by the same person. Knight does a fine job but it just doesn’t feel quite right.

The soundtrack is solidly stuck in the 1980’s and makes no apologies for it. It feels very much like a music video of the time, albeit a little smarter than most of those were.

There is also a heavy dose of body horror, even more so than in the last three films. Robert Englund still delivers as a terrifying, yet humorous presence.

In the end, as always, it seems Freddy has been defeated. There are no more children connected to what happened to Freddy, although the parents are still alive in many cases. I’m not sure why Freddy wouldn’t also go after them but he did always have a preference for killing children so it makes sense in that regard.

This is not a bad follow up and it is worth watching. But so far, none of the sequels can quite top the terror of the first film.

Nightmarishly yours,

Slick Dungeon

A Nightmare on Elm 3: Dream Warriors

A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 3

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Welcome back horror fans, it’s me, Slick Dungeon! I’m back for the third go around with the man with razor fingers, Freddy Krueger. That’s right, I watched A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors. There will be some spoilers below so if you haven’t seen the movie yet, give it a watch, try to take a nap, wake up in utter terror, realize it was just a dream, and come on back here to read the review.

This movie feels like it should have been the direct sequel to the first film. This starts some years after the first Nightmare movie. We open with a dream, as we have with all the movies so far. In this nightmare, a girl named Kristin Parker dreams about Freddy and she gets trapped in the bathroom where she ends up with marks on her wrists before waking up. Once she is back in the real world, it looks to any outside observer like she tried to commit suicide.

Turns out there has been a bit of an uptick in teen suicides in this little town with one thing in common for all of them. These kids have all been having sleep trouble. Kristin is sent to a mental health clinic where they can monitor her and help her overcome her nightmares. In the clinic is a group of kids who also have sleep issues and have been plagued by nightmares.

The audience, and the kids in the clinic know who is behind the deaths in town. They’ve all been dreaming about a man with a dirty brown hat who has knives on his fingers.

The clinic in question is trying their best to help the teens suffering from these problems but the adults don’t believe a word of what they are being told. But, things get interesting when a new intern comes in, named Nancy Thompson. The same Nancy Thompson from the first film. At last, someone who knows what is really going on is there to help.

One night at the clinic, Kristin has one of her nightmares but she is able to pull Nancy into her dream. The pair escape Krueger and Nancy realizes this might be the key to defeating Freddy once and for all.

While Nancy is there to help, things do take bad turns as two of the kids there are killed by Freddy but it looks to all outside observers like suicides. Meanwhile, one of the doctors at the clinic tries to find out more about the background of Freddy and keeps seeing a mysterious nun.

The remainder of the movie is basically Nancy and her group of friends taking on Freddy in the dream world while the doctor from the clinic tries to eradicate the world of the last physical remains of Freddy.

If you’ve seen the movie you know how this goes but in case you haven’t I’ll keep any other major spoilers to myself.

This movie has a surprising amount of star power in it. Robert Englund is back as the man from your nightmares and as always is menacing as can be. But, this also has Patricia Arquette and Laurence Fishburn. It was one of their earlier roles so they were not huge stars yet but they certainly went on to larger fame. And of course, Heather Langenkamp is back as Nancy.

While not all of the film holds up, especially some of the older effects work, that doesn’t stop this movie from being utterly frightening. It expands the background of Freddy Krueger and tells us more about his horribly violent origins. But it also just feels more like the first one did, where it seems nearly impossible to defeat a killer who can invade and possibly control your dreams.

The most unfortunate part of the film is the reliance on the “haunted medical facility” trope. It’s a very worn out and used up situation at this point but there is enough here to still terrify. While this may not be the scariest horror movie, or even the scariest sequel, it’s got to be in the top five for sure.

If you loved the first Nightmare movie, whether or not you like the second, this is a great follow up to the first film and you should watch it.

Horrifically yours,

Slick Dungeon

A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy’s Revenge – Movie Review

A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy’s Revenge

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Hello horror fans! It’s me, Slick Dungeon. I’m back to review part two of the movie series about the man from your nightmares, Freddy Krueger. The follow up to the first Nightmare on Elm Street film has the epically awesome title of A Nightmare on Elm Street Part 2: Freddy’s Revenge. I know it’s a mouthful but they get to the point eventually in that title. Do be warned before you read any further, there will be some spoilers for this film. If you haven’t seen it, grab yourself some popcorn, watch the movie, stay up late, and come back here to read the review.

It was probably inevitable the second film in this franchise would not be as terrifying as the first. Robert Englund is back as Freddy, and as always he puts in an incredible performance. While this may not be the best Freddy movie, it certainly has its fans and some people see it as a cult classic, especially due to some of the subtext that might be read into the story.

This film takes place five years after the events of A Nightmare on Elm Street. We open on a school bus where a teenager named Jesse is riding home. There are two teenage girls in front of him and when the bus gets to their stop, it just keeps going. Everyone on the bus starts to panic and yell at the driver. Turns out this is one of the nightmares Freddy pops up in.

When Jesse wakes up we learn he lives in the same house Nancy Thompson lived in when she was menaced by Freddy in the first film. Since they moved in, Jesse has been plagued by nightmares, or more accurately, night terrors. He has a friend at school named Lisa. Lisa is romantically interested in Jesse but Jesse sort of thinks he is losing his mind because of all these nightmares.

Jesse also starts having some trouble at school. He gets in a fight with a fellow student named Grady, and they both have to suffer the harsh punishment of their coach. The coach is at least rumored to be into men and is known to frequent one of the seedier clubs in town.

In Jesse’s nightmares there is an interesting twist. Freddy is not going after Jesse. Instead, he’s trying to get Jesse to kill people for him. Jesse tells Lisa about the dreams and one day while they are in Jesse’s room they find Nancy’s diary. At first it reads like a typical diary with comments about her attraction to Glen who died in the first film. But as the diary goes on it gets darker and starts to mention a description of Freddy which Jesse instantly recognizes.

Lisa does some research and discovers Freddy killed at least twenty kids in the boiler room of what is now an abandoned factory. In other words, the guy in Jesse’s dreams is no joke, and Jesse might want to be concerned.

One night after a bit of a fight with his family, Jesse starts to wander around town. He happens to end up in the same bar his coach is in. The coach makes Jesse go back to school and run laps as punishment. Not sure that would fly now but for this movie it seems like a plausible thing that could happen. The coach tells Jesse to hit the showers and soon Jesse is hearing Freddy’s voice. One thing leads to another and the coach ends up sliced to death. Jesse looks down at his hand and sees Freddy’s iconic glove on it. It seems Freddy is able to take over Jesse’s body and cause some mayhem.

The rest of the film is really about Jesse trying to stop himself from becoming Freddy. As you would expect there are more deaths and the more Jesse tries to explain the situation the more insane he seems. Things come to a crescendo when Jesse goes to a party hosted by Lisa. He and Lisa start kissing but Jesse hears Freddy in his mind again. In order to protect Lisa, Jesse goes over to Grady’s house and warns Grady not to fall asleep. Yeah, so Grady ends up dead because, well, he goes to sleep.

Freddy does get to cause some epic mayhem at the pool party Lisa is hosting and that is probably the best scene in the whole film. Of course, in the end Freddy is defeated, for now.

Not all of the effects in this one hold up today. Some of them are still great, and as always, Freddy’s face is just out and out scary. But the effects that don’t work today bring the film down overall now.

Now, as I said there are some people who see this as a cult classic, mostly because you could derive from the subtext that Jesse is a closeted gay man and Freddy trying to take over is a metaphor for Jesse’s struggle. Also, Jesse is essentially playing the part of a “final girl” in the same way Nancy did in the first film which people argue is further proof of Jesse’s sexuality. Whether you want to interpret the film that way or not is entirely up to you but I am judging this movie more on the basis of if it holds up in the fear factor than anything else.

I do think there are some great scares in here and there is a bit of interesting body horror at times. However, I don’t think this movie would just automatically scare anyone who watches it for the first time, unlike the first film which is still absolutely scary.

The acting is decent and the story holds up enough. It gives us some more background about Freddy and kind of builds his legend up a bit. I will say, the hair and costumes in this one are a bit more distracting because they are so definitely 1980’s looks but I can’t really hold that against the movie.

If you are a Freddy fan you definitely should watch this one, just don’t expect it to be the most frightening of experiences.

Dreamily yours,

Slick Dungeon

Top 5 Campaigns for Call of Cthulhu 7th Edition

Cthulhu Mythos - Available Now @ DriveThruRPG.com

Hey all, Slick Dungeon here. I hate long intros to top 5 lists so we’ll get into it pretty quickly.

Before we do that I just need to clarify a couple of things. A campaign is a long form of story for Call of Cthulhu, meaning it is multiple scenarios played over multiple sessions.

Also, for most of these you will need at least the quick start rules for Call of Cthulhu 7th edition. More likely, you will want the Keeper’s Rulebook for 7th edition so be sure to get your hands on those before diving into these campaigns.

These are my five favorite campaigns for Call of Cthulhu 7th edition.

(Note: this post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something through this post I will get a small commission at no extra cost to you)

5. The Alone Against Series

Alone Against the Flames: Written by Gavin Inglis, cover artwork by Petr Stovik, published by Chaosium Inc.

One of the great things about Call of Cthulhu is that it’s fun to play not only with a group of people, but also by yourself. I would be remiss if I did not include at least one solo play campaign here. Now, technically the Alone Against series is not a linear campaign where you’d play one investigator going through a series of events from start to finish. Instead, all of the Alone Against books stand on their own but are thematically tied in that… you play alone. I’ve also played this where I was the Keeper and I had one person playing on the other end and it worked really well so you could play this with two people. The one to begin with would be Alone Against the Flames, which not only is a great adventure but also, helps introduce new players to how to play Call of Cthulhu. For new Keepers, it’s a must. But once you finish Alone Against the Flames, there are several other adventure books you can play including, Alone Against the Tide, Alone Against the Frost, and Alone Against the Dark. Different people prefer different ones in the series but they’re all fun to play in my opinion and if you want a way to make your solo play last longer, playing through the series is a great way to do it.

There are several ways to get the Alone Against series of books. You can get them from drivehtrurpg.com. You can also purchase them directly from the Chaosium website at Chaosium.com. And, if you get the Call of Cthulhu 7th edition starter set, Alone Against the Flames comes in it so you can get it that way. The prices can vary between Chaosium, drivethrurpg, and based on if you want the softcover or just the PDF so I recommend doing a little comparison shopping but you can get each one for less than $20 typically which is a great price for hours of entertainment. Do note that on drivethrurpg you can only get the PDF so if you know you want the softcover, Chaosium is the way to go.

4. The Children of Fear

The Children of Fear by Lynne Hardy and Friends, Published by Chaosium Inc.

This is a sprawling, epic, multi-part campaign with several scenarios in it. It’s very player-led so the story can go a ton of different ways. This takes the Investigators through parts of Central Asian and Northern India in the 1920s. It’s also scalable on the mythos spectrum, meaning you can have small time cultists facing your group or you can throw the Outer Gods right at them if that’s what’s right for your party. This one is definitely on the mature side and there’s a content warning here for that reason. While I would say a lot of Call of Cthulhu campaigns are around a PG-13 rating, this one is solidly in the R rated camp.

This being flexible and modular is great, however, it does require a fair amount of preparing on the part of the Keeper for that reason. You’ll need to know the story enough to improvise in case your Investigators go somewhere you weren’t quite expecting.

The handouts here are incredible and the artwork is spot on. Although this takes some improv skills and a bit of fine-tuning from the Keeper, it’s well worth the ride.

You can get the PDF from drivethrurpg for $27 at the moment. Or, you can get the hardcover and the PDF from Chaosium.com for $53. If you know you’re going to run the campaign I’d recommend going the Chaosium route but if you are only considering, or if you don’t have room for another hardcover book on your shelf, buying the PDF alone might be the way to go.

3. Beyond the Mountains of Madness

Beyond the Mountains of Madness by Charles and Janyce Engan, published by Chaosium Inc.

Who doesn’t like the idea of a horrific adventure in the frozen tundra? This campaign is actually a campaign from 1999 for the 5th edition of the game. It’s written as a playable sequel to the H.P. Lovecraft story At the Mountains of Madness. If you are the Keeper running this campaign, you’ll want to be familiar with that story before you start play. Also, since it is written for 5th edition you’ll need to do some work to convert the rules if you’re playing 7th edition. That part shouldn’t be too dificult.

You do get a lot in this book. It’s over 400 pages long so that alone should tell you, this will take some time to prepare and run. You’ll need to do your homework and there are some things in the campaign that may not be necessary for your group so you may be reading through some things you won’t use. There are a lot of handouts here but keep in mind it was made in 1999 so some of the handouts feel a little dated. But if you love that classic RPG feel, you’ll be right at home here.

If run well, this is a great and potentially lethal campaign, with lots of opportunities to drive your Investigators to the brink of madness and beyond. If you don’t prepare beforehand, it can be a complicated mess of checking through pages, tables, etc. so be warned. It’s very much worth it if you can pull it off, however.

You can get the PDF version on drivethrurpg for $20 or you can get the hardcover on Chaosium for $50. In this case, because there is a bit of shuffling, cutting things out and rearranging likely to happen, I actually recommend getting the PDF rather than the hardcover. You will get the PDF with the hardcover if you buy from Chaosium but I find this one just suits my needs a little better loose leaf where I can take out what I don’t need and reshuffle.

2. Horror on the Orient Express

Horror on the Orient Express, Published by Chaosium Inc.

At the heart of the game of Call of Cthulhu is mystery. There’s a reason the players are called Investigators, not heroes or travelers or something like that. One of the best known mysteries is Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie so it’s only natural to decide to turn this mystery into a Lovecraftian nightmare.

Three identical men are all found dead on the same night, in the same room, all dead of stab wounds to the heart. This intriguing incident is what sets the Investigators off on this huge adventure. It will take Investigators across Europe. I don’t want to get into spoilers here but this campaign is a joy to run. It’s got deep mystery, weird happenings, a ton of handouts and a great hook to start the campaign. The Investigators get immersed quickly in this one which is great for any scenario but especially good when you are talking about a long campaign.

Like most of the campaigns on this list, there is prep work needed on the part of the Keeper but it’s well worth the effort.

You can get the PDF for this on drivethrurpg for $40 at the time of this post.

But, if you are willing to splurge, you can get an absolutely gorgeous edition of this campaign split into two volumes on Chaosium.com for $90. I know that’s a hefty price tag but if you want to run an epic and amazing campaign this is one of the best ones there is for Call of Cthulhu.

1. Masks of Nyarlathotep

Masks of Nyarlathotep by Larry Ditillio and Lynn Willis

Masks of Nyarlathotep is my absolute favorite Call of Cthulhu campaign hands down. It’s epic and sprawling and can keep your Investigators busy for at least a year easily. This is a globe trotting adventure with tons of adventure, surprises and horror abounding. Nyarlathotep is ready to usher in a new world but the Investigators must stop him. They’ll need to use all their wits and cunning to figure out how and somehow remain sane long enough to do it.

This one absolutely takes a lot of preparation to run as a Keeper and it’s one I recommend reading a couple of times through before even proposing to run it for your players. But if you do, it is so worth it. It’s an incredible experience with tons of twists and turns. You’ll definitely need to make adjustments for your group as some hints, clues, handouts and locations will be better suited to some people than others. Just be aware of that before running it and you should be okay.

Considering the epic scope of this campaign it doesn’t run cheap.

You can get this on drivethrurpg as a PDF for $18 which is your cheapest option. If you’re just curious about the campaign and not sure you want to commit to it, this is a good option for a first read through.

On Chaosium’s website you can get a few different versions.

You can get the omnibus PDF edition for $60 which has rules for both Call of Cthulhu and Pulp Cthulhu.

Or you can get the slipcase set for $129 which has two volumes for the campaign, a Keeper screen, all the handouts and maps, and the pre-generated character sheets already printed for you.

And if you really want to spend some money and have some impressive looking books too you could go for the leather slipcase set for $250. This includes all the same stuff you get in the slipcase set but the books are leather bound. At the time of this post, this version is on sale for $199 but I have no idea how long that will last. It’s a lot of money still but you’re saving a bit. And if you do buy this set, you’ll have a gorgeous looking set of books totally appropriate to wow your Investigators with.

Do you have any favorite campaigns you’ve run? Let me know it the comments and Happy Halloween month!

Horrifically yours,

Slick Dungeon

A Nightmare on Elm Street – Movie Recview

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984)

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Hello horror fans, it’s me, Slick Dungeon! It’s been a long year but we’ve finally made it to the month made for everything terrifying. I thought I would ring in the new October with a review of a little film called A Nightmare on Elm Street. The film was directed by Wes Craven, starred Robert Englund as the stalker on screen, Heather Langenkamp as the girl with the plan to escape and introduced us to Johnny Depp for the first time. Do be warned before you read this review there will be spoilers. So if you have not seen the film, take a watch, try to get some shuteye and come on back here to read the review.

It’s no secret Freddy Krueger is an absolute icon of horror. His disfigured face, dirty hat and sweater and glove with knives can be seen as a costume every halloween. He’s instantly recognizable. But to be fair to the image, all of that would not have worked if his first film had not been so completely, utterly, terrifying.

This film worked so well, if you were of a certain age when it first came out, and years later someone in a group starts to softly sing, “One, two, Freddy’s comin’ for you…” at least one person in the group is going to tell that person to stop it because it still creeps them out.

The plot revolves around a group of four teenagers who all live in a fairly well off community and all have a terrifying nightmare on the same night. That’s not that strange except for the fact the nightmares all had the same guy in it. A man in a dirty red and green sweater who has, “knives for fingers.”

The movie starts in an almost surreal way where the neighborhood looks too perfect to be reality. Tina, one of the group of four friends has an awful dream and she sees a glimpse of Freddy. When she wakes, her shirt is slashed right where Freddy tried to strike her.

The next day, Tina asks her friend Nancy, her boyfriend Rod, and Nancy’s boyfriend, Glen to all stay over at her house. Tina’s mother is not at home and Tina is afraid to sleep alone. Turns out Tina was right.

Tina falls asleep with Rod right next to her and once again encounters Freddy but this time she doesn’t survive the encounter. Rod is actually in the room with Tina when it happens and he sees cuts tear into Tina as he watches. Rod doesn’t do anything because he thinks he’s just having another nightmare himself. And since it looks like Tina is being attacked by no one physical, it makes sense that Rod thinks that. With Tina dead and no one other than Rod in the room at the time, it looks to almost everyone like Rod killed his girlfriend.

Nancy knows better. She knows it’s the man from her dreams who has been terrifying her.

I don’t want to give everything away in this review but from this point in the movie on, it’s pretty much Nancy vs. Freddy. No matter how hard Nancy tries to convince everyone of what is really happening, it’s awfully difficult for anyone to believe a dream is causing murders to happen.

Nancy goes from looking like a fairly put together person to someone who is frazzled, sleep deprived, and fighting for her life, all of which are true.

A Nightmare on Elm Street is so good at tricking the audience, even we can’t always tell where a dream begins and reality ends.

This is an older movie so not every effect holds up but most of them do. There’s a scene with a face in a ceiling that is still scary as can be, the ways the characters die are unimaginable, and if you are old enough to have experienced speaking on a phone with a cord, seeing a phone with its cord cut ring is really frightening.

The movie is not perfect but it’s a total landmark in horror. I’ve always been just a little bit more of a Friday the 13th fan than a Freddy fan but total respect for anyone who thinks of this film as their favorite horror film.

The most brilliant thing about the movie is the impossibility of fighting Freddy. After all, at some point you are going to fall asleep. And how can you fight someone who literally invades your dreams? There’s also a bit of backstory as to why Freddy is doing all this and while it doesn’t give all the answers, it’s enough to makes sense as to why these kids in particular are targets.

This movie also takes a lot the usual tropes and assumptions audiences have and makes sense out of them. In nearly every slasher film ever made, you have to wonder why the police are not more involved early on. In Friday the 13th it’s because it’s in a remote location. In Halloween they do try to get involved but they quickly die at the killer’s hands. In A Nightmare on Elm Street there are multiple issues happening. First, they think the real killer is Rod and they have him so it seems like their work is done. Second, everything Nancy says, sounds impossible, even when she confronts the sheriff, who happens to be her own father, with evidence of the impossible. The only one who even sort of believes her is Glen but he has to fall asleep at some point too. And on top of all of that, the adults in the town are covering something up so it’s not in their interest to believe Nancy. For a movie based on the impossible, a ton of what happens in the real world is completely plausible and that really makes it work.

Almost all slasher movies end with a jump scare at the end to leave you just a bit worried that the whole story is not quite finished. That can be fun. But with Freddy, you see that jump scare and you realize, no matter how hard you try not to, you’re going to have a dream with Freddy in it. It’s genuinely brilliant horror. And Freddy’s comin’ for you…

Horrifically yours,

Slick Dungeon

Marvel 616 Review – The Fantastic Four #13

The Fantastic Four Issue 13. Photo Credit: Marvel Writer Stan Lee, Art: Jack Kirby

While we have seen The Fantastic Four a few times in other books, it’s been a bit since one of their own issues has shown up on the 616 reading list. This issue is notable as it introduces one of the most powerful and mysterious entities in all of Marvel 616.

The issue begins with a lab accident at the Baxter building. Reed Richards is working on a new kind of jet propulsion fuel and has so much success he more or less blows up the lab. Thing and Johnny Storm both try to jump into action and rescue Reed but Reed has on a safety suit and actually has to save Johnny. The Human torch was about to fly into some chemical fumes that likely would have killed him and/or exploded even worse.

This is going to be far from the last time Reed Richards nearly destroys his home and family in the name of scientific achievement. He’s pretty nonchalant about the whole thing.

Reed has apparently used some material components he found in a meteor crater and if he can harness this energy he’ll have, “discovered a booster fuel powerful enough to enable us to catch up with the reds in the race to the moon!”

At the time, this would have been seen as a major achievement by anyone in America so it’s understandable Reed is excited. He also suspects the “reds” had this thought before him and might be why they were ahead of America at the time. He seems to think they got this material somewhere in Siberia.

With this fuel, Reed decides he is going to go to the “mysterious blue area of the moon!”

The team is not about to let Reed go alone so reluctantly, Reed agrees to allow them all to join.

We next shift the scene behind the iron curtain where a scientist is training a gorilla to operate a space ship. He’s also training a baboon to shoot guns and an orangutan to use tools to repair the ship. This scientist is Ivan Kragoff and he’s training his “apes” to go to the moon so he can claim it for the communist empire.

However unlikely it may be, both Reeds ship and Kragoff’s ship launch at the same time. Kragoff, has another motive as well. He knows cosmic rays gave the FF their powers so he built his own ship in a way he will absorb some of those rays. He’s looking for some super powers.

On the way up, the FF see Kragoff’s ship. Johnny is itching to try out a special costume Reed made for him that will allow him to flame on and be in space because it, “releases an artificial atmosphere” around Johnny.

Johnny flies to the ship to see Kragoff and his apes. Kragoff is trying to figure out what cool new powers they all have. It looks like nothing until the gorilla demonstrates some super strength. The baboon seems to be able to shape change, the orangutan has magnetic powers and is able to push Johnny off course because of that.

Johnny makes it back to his ship and tells the team the situation. Reed is aware of Kragoff and they know a fight is coming once they land.

The FF’s rocket touches down on the mysterious blue area where they find what looks like an abandoned city. One thing to note here is at this point since man had not actually landed on the moon, this kind of story was somewhat more believable. For all we knew there really could have been an old abandoned city on the moon.

After they land the team realizes there is enough of an atmosphere here they can breathe and operate like normal. Reed starts to look for Kragoff’s ship but they notice a modern house with what looks like someone living in it. In the excitement to see that, the group leaves Thing behind. Thing goes to kick a rock but it turns out to be the baboon. Thing is soon surrounded by all the apes and Kragoff who calls himself, The Red Ghost. Basically Kragoff can turn himself, “unsolid” like a ghost so no one can hit him. His powers are reminiscent of what the Vision’s phasing powers will be.

As the five of them scuffle around, a mysterious being shows up and tells them all to just knock it off. He calls himself the Watcher and proves he is immensely powerful but just putting the apes in some kind of bubble.

Watcher calls out to all the earthlings and tells them he comes from a planet that is one vast, giant computer. He goes through a rundown of some of the things he has seen including entire civilizations destroying themselves. And he speaks about how he and his people have only ever observed and never before made their presence known.

The Watcher wants to save humans from their own savagery. He doesn’t care if we blow up Earth but now Reed and Kragoff have brought the fight to Watcher’s turf. He wants Thing and Kragoff to duke it out one on one and Watcher just sort of disappears.

Reed and the rest of the gang do find Thing and take him back to the house they were checking out. Seems like it’s probably the Watcher’s place according to Ben. Watcher then whisks everyone away to a battlefield inside a “dead city.”

As you would expect there is a fight between the FF and the Red Ghost and his apes. The fight goes poorly for our heroes at first. Red Ghost manages to capture Sue Storm and speed away in a car that goes underground. The rest of the FF regroup and Reed figures out they need to outsmart the opposition rather than use brute force. Reed sends Johnny and Ben to go after Sue and tries to make a weapon out of the technology he finds in the dead city.

Meanwhile, Sue is trapped with the Red Ghost who explains his apes obey him when they are at their hungriest so he keeps them locked behind a force field. Red Ghost then leaves and Sue says, “If I could only find a way to eliminate this force field– to free the super-apes! I would take my chances with them, rather than the Red Ghost, for they are like the communist masses, innocently enslaved by their evil leaders!” This quote stood out to me because so far, in almost all of the issues of Marvel 616 where communists show up, there’s not any mention of ordinary citizens. Instead, they all tend to be lumped together as evil but here Stan Lee really is making a distinction, although kind of a clumsy one with the moon as a proxy fight for democracy versus communism. It’s not a huge stretch to think this could have, in some ways, been intended to be a statement on the conflict in Vietnam. You know, just with super-apes on the moon.

Sue is able to free the apes and rather than attack her they go for the food. Then they break the door down, conveniently allowing Sue Storm to escape.

Johnny Storm and Ben Grimm chase down the Red Ghost but he has a disintegrator ray he found waiting for them. Luckily, Sue catches up to them before they can be harmed and she warns them it’s a trap. Johnny melts the ray and heats up the air around Red Ghost causing him to flee. Red Ghost gets to the surface and sees the house of the Watcher and figures there’s probably some pretty good stuff in there.

Unfortunately for the Red Ghost everything the Watcher has is just beyond human understanding (much like the character Uatu himself). Needless to say, the Watcher is not cool with someone breaking into his house. He tells Red Ghost he could send him to limbo, to the dawn of time, or to the end of time but he’s not worth the effort and just tosses the guy out of his house without even touching him.

As he gets tossed Reed hits the Red Ghost with a paralyzing ray he built. At this point the FF are pretty sure they’ve won but realize they don’t know for sure until the Watcher says so. The Watcher does show up and declares the contest over and the FF to have won. He also says his own mission is at an end. He says, “Now that mankind has reached the moon, I must go to a more distant part of the galaxy, to observe you mortals from afar! For we Watchers must be ever aloof– ever apart from other races!” We all know we’re going to see this character again and that he’s immensely important to the 616 continuity but it’s still a pretty impressive entrance and exit.

After the Watcher leaves the apes turn on their master. Reed and company head back to Earth ready for a rest and to give the new rocket fuel to the National Space Agency. At the very end of the issue we’re teased with a promise of an appearance by both Sub-Mariner and the Puppet Master for the next issue.

Overall this is a really fun issue, even if the idea of super apes is a bit ridiculous. The cosmic weirdness the Fantastic Four can achieve is beyond any other comic book heroes this side of Green Lantern and it’s always great to see a cosmic being introduced. Although he isn’t named in the issue this Watcher is Uatu who is a key component of tons of Marvel 616 stories. He’s also the narrator for some of the most fun stories Marvel puts out which are the What If comics. It’ll be a while until he’s a real regular but the Fantastic Four comics would not be nearly as fantastic without the influence of the Watcher, who is incidentally, the one guy who shouldn’t be influencing anyone.

Next up on the reading list we’ll be getting small once again as we catch up with Ant-Man in the pages of Tales to Astonish #42!

I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer – Movie Review

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Hey horror fanatics, it’s Slick Dungeon here. I’m back to review the third and final movie about a group of teenagers who commit a crime and get a spooky note about it a year later and are stalked by someone with a fish hook. Fair warning there will be spoilers for I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer below. So, if you want to watch it first put on your rain slicker, grab your hook, get some popcorn and see the rehash of an attempt at a movie this is and come on back here.

Let’s start with the title on this one. I usually don’t have a lot to say about a film title but this one is uniquely annoying. I Know What You Did Last Summer made sense because the killer in the film witnessed an event the summer before. I Still Know What You Did Last Summer made less sense because it was about something that happened two summers ago so it really should have been called I Still Know What You Did Two Summers Ago. But I let that one slide because it sort of made sense considering it’s at least about the same characters. I’ll Always Know What You Did Last Summer is completely off base for a ton of reasons, not the least of which is this is a sort of attempt at a reboot and stars a total of none of the original cast. Who exactly is knowing what here and why should we care? If they do ever make a follow up to this, I suggest the title, I Will Always and Forever Know Exactly What You Did Last Summer Because I Wrote it Down on a Post-it Note and Stuck it on My Freezer Door Where I Look at it Every Time I Want to Eat a Popsicle.

I didn’t think the premise in the original movie was the greatest but I was willing to go along with it because it made some sense. A group of kids does a bad thing, although on accident, and now there is a killer coming after them.

This movie just makes no sense from the start. First off, this one takes place in Colorado for some bizarre reason. The last two were located in a small fishing town where a slicker and a hook would be widely available and made sense. I have no idea why they moved the location but it just doesn’t work.

The movie starts out with five friends trying to pull off an elaborate prank. They are at a town carnival where they tell the story of the fisherman who kills teenagers but only if they have some deep, dark secret. Then one of their buddies runs around dressed in a fisherman’s slicker with a hook. As a result PJ, one of the people in on the joke ends up dead.

In the original film the group is in trouble due to potential manslaughter involving a traffic accident. But in this case, it’s clearly a prank gone wrong and I don’t think the group was all that culpable for the incident. The worst they would have gotten is manslaughter charges but basically the situation here is a skateboarder fell off a roof and didn’t land on some mattresses he expected to be there and died. Unless someone in the group literally moved the mattresses on purpose and knew their friend would not check before jumping off the roof, I think they would have had to pay some fines, done a few months in jail and probably a whole lot of community service. But, instead of confessing, they cover up the incident.

A couple other things to mention is the hook they used was bought for $19 on e-bay and was reported to be the original hook. So, as the audience we know this is not going to end well. The group swears themselves to secrecy and covers up all the evidence they can so at least they are careful that way.

Fast forward to a year later when one of the group gets the inevitable note saying I know what you did last summer. The group then has to spend the next few days trying not to get murdered. Some are more successful than others. It progresses as you would expect any of these movies to until the end.

There is going to be a spoiler for the ending here but I can’t recommend you watch the movie so I don’t think it’s a huge deal. The first two movies had some appeal because the audience was trying to figure out who the killer was along with the characters. But in this one, it’s the original killer who is long since dead and seems to be somehow reanimated. That supernatural change just took it from a meh premise to an actively bad one.

I know, I know, why can’t this be the same as Jason or Freddy or Michael Meyers who all keep coming back? Well, here’s the thing with those; in the early films of those characters there was at least some hint of the supernatural going on. In this one, they are just trying to copy that without putting in the groundwork to make it make sense. It doesn’t work at all and it’s basically a big ad warning you against buying hooks on e-bay for $19 dollars because it might be haunted.

The acting is not terrible here but no one is doing Shakespear here either. There are a few moments of definite overacting but it’s no worse than most horror films.

This is not the worst horror movie I have ever seen but it’s also far, far from the best. If you have just nothing else to do at all and you have a bunch of friends around and you’ve exhausted everything else fun to watch, you might get some mild enjoyment out of this. Otherwise this one is a total skipper.

Knowingly yours,

Slick Dungeon

Marvel 616 Review – The Amazing Spider-Man #1

The Amazing Spider-Man Issue 1 Photo Credit: Marvel

Without question, Spider-man is one of the most influential comic book characters of all time. He is able to give the reader a sense of real world problems while still displaying incredible powers and heroics. When Peter Parker is down on his luck, we all can relate to it, and at the same time, that’s when his best stories come about. This is not some alien from a distant planet. This isn’t someone bestowed with a power ring. This hero is not anything other than a regular person trying to make ends meet and live his life. And did I mention, he’s just a teenager?

He got his debut in the pages of Amazing Fantasy #15. This was a short story in an anthology that turned massively popular. And while it’s likely Stan Lee has exaggerated the initial reaction to the character somewhat, it’s clear Spider-man has had an enduring legacy and continues to be wildly popular.

Apparently having the word amazing attached to Spider-man was inevitable because his own title becomes The Amazing Spider-man. This is not the debut of Peter Parker or Spider-man but it does lay some groundwork for the series for years to come.

The issue is divided into two stories which while connected, can be read as stand alone stories. Each one has some major events and significance to stories for years to come. I’ll be reviewing both stories here but they could have been listed as their own for the purposes of reading through Marvel 616 continuity.

The first story is titled, Spider-man. While one might assume the bulk of the story would be taken up with revisiting how Spider-man came to be or with Peter pulling off tons of heroics, there’s actually not that much of it going on.

At the start we do get a bit of a reminder of the previous story. Peter was bit and got his powers at a lab experiment. He went into show business to try to make some money. There was a robber Peter could have stopped but didn’t. Because of Peter’s inaction, his beloved uncle Ben was killed.

When we get caught up to the present, it’s the money woes that is the real enemy for Peter. His Aunt May can’t pay the rent. Peter briefly thinks about turning to crime for some quick cash but realizes that’s not something he is willing to do and something that would break Aunt May’s heart.

Peter again tries to cash in on his powers by putting on a public performance. As amazing as he is, when it’s time to get paid, Peter can’t cash in because he won’t give his real name. He tries to cash a check made out to Spider-man at the bank but has no luck.

Meanwhile, a certain newspaper editor has caught wind of this so called Spider-man. It’s in this issue we get the first of many headlines written by J. Jonah Jameson. This one just says, “Spiderman Menace.” As if that’s not bad enough for Peter, Jameson goes out on the lecture circuit to badmouth the hero. Jameson wants America’s youth to be like his own son, a test pilot, and a real hero, who is about to orbit the Earth.

Peter tries to get a part time job but is turned down because he is too young. And what’s worse is he sees Aunt May pawn her jewelry so she can pay rent. Peter starts to blame J. Jonah Jameson for his troubles because it’s now nearly impossible to cash in on being Spider-man.

Meanwhile John Jameson goes up in his rocket but there’s a problem. A navigation system of some sort falls off and the ship starts to fall back to Earth. NASA tries a few different things but they’re not successful. Spider-man shows up and tells them he can help. He gets a replacement part and commandeers a plane and a pilot to take him close to the rocket. Peter attaches it and saves the day.

Figuring he’ll be embarrassed by the compliments he’ll get for what he did, Peter leaves quickly. He also figures he’s repaired his reputation with J. Jonah because Peter just saved his son. But, J.J. seems to think the whole thing was a setup and conspiracy to make his son look bad. The press is even worse for Peter than it was before.

There are a few interesting things in this story. First, is the emphasis on money woes. This is a huge theme in Spider-man books and it’s smart to have it as a central point because almost all of us can relate to it in some way. Second, it’s not clear why a rocket would launch out of New York but we can let that slide for the moment. Finally, the public reaction to Spider-man is intriguing. It’s clear there are some people who like Spider-man. The pilot who takes him up to save Jameson thinks he is alright and there are a few other people in the background of panels who say positive things about him. But, it’s also clear Jameson is able to have a huge influence on how the public perceives him. The majority of people who read the newspaper do seem to think Spider-man is a menace, including Aunt May. I think it’s a really unique position at the time to have a hero who does heroic things but is generally not liked by about two thirds of the public. This is not like The Fantastic Four who are generally liked. They’ve had the occasional misunderstanding with the public but they are not outright hated. Thor and Ant-man really don’t have anything negative said about them. At this time, Iron-man has only barely come on the scene so the public is still mostly unaware of him. The only other hero who might be able to relate to Peter would be Bruce Banner but the Hulk is almost universally hated so he probably wouldn’t take the time to consider what Peter thinks at all.

The story ends with a warning by the F.B.I. saying there is a reward for the capture of Spider-man. Peter wonders if crime is his only option left. We all know that will not be the route he would take but I imagine for the first group of people reading this they may have had the idea Peter could have turned corrupt here.

The second story is title Spider-Man vs. The Chameleon.

This story is really interesting because there are a ton of things going on here. We’ll get to the heart of the story in a minute but can you notice something unusual in this panel early in the story?

We won’t know him as Peter Palmer for long. Photo Credit Marvel, story by Stan Lee, Art by Steve Ditko

Yeah, we almost had a hero names Peter Palmer. This misspelling of Peter’s last name happens at least three more times in this issue. It’s not particularly significant but it’s interesting to see how easy it was for a continuity error to happen in these early comics.

Also, as you can see above, the story starts with Peter having the idea of joining up with the Fantastic Four. It kind of makes sense. They live in a big skyscraper building in the middle of the city and they’re always flying around in the newest fantasticar so it sure looks like they pay well.

The most fun part of this story is seeing how Peter gets around the security measures in the Baxter building so he can talk to Reed and company. Of course, the Fantastic Four assume he’s there to cause some kind of trouble. There’s a bit of a scuffle and we see everyone use their powers. It’s a fairly even match all things considered. Finally Reed asks what Spidey is doing there and the fight ends.

Peter gives his pitch to the super team only to find out they are a non-profit organization and don’t pay salaries. With no other reason to stay, Peter promptly leaves. But as he goes Reed Richards says, “Somehow, I have a feeling we’ll be hearing more from that young man in the future!” Spoiler alert, Reed is one hundred percent correct about that. Just not in this issue.

After Peter leaves the scene shifts and we get our first ever glimpse at a real Spider-man villain. This is The Chameleon. He’s a spy who is able to change his appearance through extremely realistic disguises. We never see his real face in the story as it is always covered by a mask. The Chameleon easily breaks into a defense center and steals some secret plans. He walks right out with no one being the wiser.

On his way out, The Chameleon sees a report about Spider-man going to see The Fantastic Four on the news. With the F.B.I. warning out there, Chameleon sees a perfect fall guy for his crimes in Spider-man.

The Chameleon seems to know things about Spider-mans powers which are never explained here. He somehow knows Spidey has a type of spider-sense and sends a message to Peter only those powers could pick up. The message is just a setup to trap Spider-man into being at the wrong place at the wrong time, thus giving Chameleon someone else for the police to catch for his crimes.

Despite knowing about Peter’s spider-sense, Chameleon didn’t totally think it through because Peter is able to tell who the Chameleon is even when disguised. There’s a chase and a tussle. Spider-man actually makes himself look worse by webbing up a bunch of police officers. After a lot of acrobatics and inventive use of webbing, including the first appearance of a web parachute Spider-man catches up to the Chameleon.

Turns out Chameleon was going to sell the plans to communists on a sub-marine. For those of you keeping count, this incident adds up to every single 616 hero we have seen so far fighting communists at least once. Spider-man is able to capture Chameleon and takes him back to the police.

But Chameleon is able to change his appearance into a police officer. He almost gets away but Peter figures it out thanks to his spider-sense. There’s another chase but the cops do catch the right guy eventually.

We end the issue with Peter wishing he had never gotten his powers and the FF wondering what would happen if Spider-man turned to crime.

In this story there are tons of things going on that I find really interesting. First, there is the crossover appeal. I don’t know if Stan Lee thought Spider-man wouldn’t sell well enough on his own but the interaction with The Fantastic Four is great here. And it feels like the universe is really building with this story.

Also, everyone seems to know Peter is a teenager even while he is wearing his costume. I think this leaves us all to assume Peter just sounds like a teenager. He’s about the size of any other hero and he hasn’t shown his face so that’s the only way people must know about his age.

Another interesting thing here is Peter’s money issues are not resolved at all and if anything, he’s made his own reputation worse. It makes the audience wonder why Peter would try to be a hero at all. Except, if you remember Peter’s inaction leads to the death of his uncle. He’ll be a hero not because it is profitable but because as bad as things might be, if he does nothing, they will be worse.

While this isn’t the debut of Spider-man it is a great debut of his title which will go on to a whopping 441 issue streak in the first volume. The stories get better but the foundations really do start here. And while not all 441 issues are great, there will be some amazing stories (pun intended) to come with this character.

Next up on the reading list we’ll be checking back in on the family of super heroes once again with Fantastic Four #13!

I Still Know What You Did Last Summer – Movie Review

I Still Know What You Did Last Summer (1998)

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Hello horror fans, it’s me, Slick Dungeon! I’m back to review another slasher film for ya. This time, it’s the sequel to I Know What You Did Last Summer, the cleverly titled, I Still Know What You Did Last Summer. We’re back with just half the cast of the first film because… well murder-y reasons from the first film. This time we have Jennifer Love Hewitt and Freddy Prinze Jr. reprising their roles but we also get a host of new characters. Before we get too far into this review just a note of warning, there will be spoilers for both the first and second films in this franchise. And oddly enough a spoiler from Scream 5. So if you haven’t seen the movies, grab your rain slicker, bring your hook, and brave the bad weather to see the films and come on back here to read the review.

I Know What You Did Last Summer left us on a jump scare with Julie, played by Jennifer Love Hewitt, seeing the words I Still Know written on a fogged up shower window and then the sound of breaking glass as someone or something jumps through the window. It’s actually a rather effective end and leaves the viewer a bit disturbed and wondering what will happen next. Naturally, the makes of the sequel decide to… completely ignore that scene and just start with Julie in college having a nightmare. And the nightmare isn’t even that scene which would have made sense. After that bad choice, the movie gets kind of worse.

Julie is probably the least culpable of the group from the first film so the audience is more or less on her side and it makes sense that she’s the focus of the follow up movie. But Ray, who is the one who was behind the wheel when he hit someone in the first film, is also in this. He’s still dating Julie but the relationship is on the rocks. Julie doesn’t want to go back home for the fourth of July but Ray really wants her to.

Julie invites Ray to stay at her college for the weekend but Ray insists he has to work. And then, in what is almost completely unexplainable behavior, Ray gets really mad that Julie doesn’t want to come back to the town where she and Ray were almost murdered, on the anniversary of the day several of her friends and acquaintances were murdered, during a time she’s clearly having flashbacks and bad dreams about nearly being murdered in the spot Ray wants her to go to. But Ray thinks his anger can be justified because he, “has to work,” and because there is a guy on campus who is being relatively nice and understanding to Julie. I’m not here to give anyone relationship advice but if this is your situation, maybe think twice about who you are spending time with.

Ray goes back to his hometown and Julie and her friend win tickets to go on a vacation to paradise in the Bahamas. Julie promptly invites Ray to go but he won’t because he, “has to work.” And get this… Ray is still mad at her! She just invited him to go on vacation with her but somehow she’s wrong in this situation? What the heck?

Anyway, this is a horror movie, so let’s get into the horror, other than Ray’s weird attitude towards Julie. Long story short, the trip is a setup by someone who wants to kill Julie and maybe a number of her friends and acquaintances. Turns out the island is pretty secluded and no one can get on or off on the fourth of July because it’s the start of typhoon season and the seas will be too rough.

We meet a cast of oddball island characters from a hotel manager who seems to hate guests (this makes no sense considering they would be his only source of income) to a bar tender who can’t stand tourists (I get this a bit more but again shouldn’t she be trying to be nice to them to, you know, earn tips?), and uh.. Jack Black trying to deal weed to everyone. On the plus side, this movie has Jack Black in it so all good.

If you have ever seen a slasher film even once in your life, you know where this is going. Characters start getting picked off one by one, including characters the audience might have suspected were the killer.

Meanwhile, back at home, Ray gets attacked in the same spot as the accident from the first film. He pretty quickly realizes Julie is likely in trouble so he pawns the engagement ring he was going to propose to Julie with so he can get a gun and force someone to take him to this island. I guess we’re supposed to be on Ray’s side because, “he has to work,” so he could buy Julie a wedding ring. But like in the first movie, he does something so awful in the beginning (really getting on Julie’s case for feeling victimized) that it’s nearly impossible to like this dude.

The remainder of the movie is Julie and her friends trying to survive, Ray trying to save Julie, and the audience trying to figure out who the killer is.

**Spoiler warning here for both I Still Know What You Did Last Summer and Scream 5.**

If you’ve seen very many horror movies, and slasher horror in particular, you’re going to guess who the killer is immediately. We know it’s not Ray, although he could be a suspect if he was on the same island at the same time most of the murders happen. But he’s not. When I watched this movie this quote from Dewey Riley in Scream 5 immediately popped into my head, “Rule number one. Never trust the love interest. They seem sweet, caring, supportive. Then welcome to act three, where they’re trying to rip your head off.” This quote basically summarizes this whole movie perfectly. Respect for Scream 5.

Some of the deaths are interesting and there is a higher body count and definitely a bit more gore than in the first film. But the plot is not very strong and if a single one of these characters had asked if anyone heard them on the radio when they won this contest, the whole plot never would have happened.

There’s a twist at the end, like all good slashers should have, but it’s not a very inspired twist and it feels kinda lazy. Also, like any good slasher, we end on a scare. But if my guess is right, they will waste this one as well.

I wasn’t overly impressed with the first movie but not because the plot wasn’t believable. For that one, I just found the characters unlikeable. In this one, I find Ray super unlikeable and the plot unbelievable. The newer characters are for the most part fine, although some of them just seem like silly stereotypes of horror characters you might see in any horror movie, the stoner guy, the odd and creepy older man, the sort of angry bar tender etc.

It’s far from the worst horror film I have ever seen but it’s also nowhere near the best. If the franchise went downhill this fast, I can’t imagine what the third one will be like. I will be reviewing it so if you want my take on it, stay tuned.

Knowingly yours,

Slick Dungeon

Slick Dungeon’s 2022 Challenge Check-in!

Hey everyone, Slick Dungeon here. It’s been far too long since I have checked in on these challenges but there is still time to complete them. I wanted to do a check-in on how I am doing on the challenges I created for books, movies, and role playing games for this year. If you want to see how I did, this is the post for you! And if you have been doing any of these challenges, I would love to know how it’s going for you. Let me know in the comments!

Reading Challenge

Slick Dungeon’s 2022 Book Challenge! Click the image to download your own copy!

The first challenge was to re-read the first book I remember reading. I completed that by re-reading The Cat in the Hat but I’m not putting a review here for that. It’s still a great kids book though!

For the second challenge, read a book more than 500 pages long, I read most recently The Ravenstones: Death and Life by C.S. Watts. I highly recommend the whole series if you like epic fantasy.

For the next challenge, a book with a complicated magic system in it, I am currently reading The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson which is the first of the Stormlight Archives books. The magic system is quite complicated but I’m not sure if I will meet this challenge by the end of the year because it’s a long book.

So far this year I haven’t read a book where the main character dies but if I don’t come across one towards the end of the year I’ll grab something where I know that happens.

I’m still deciding on the book to read I was assigned in school but didn’t read. I’m considering The Scarlet Letter or Animal Farm.

I’ve actually read several books this year which are under 500 pages long and are independently published. Check my prior book reviews on this blog to see those.

As far as a non-fiction book, I haven’t decided what to read so if you know of any really interesting books, let me know about them in the comments.

The last three challenges I’ll leave for October, November and December.

Movie Challenge

Slick Dungeon’s 2022 Movie Challenge! Click the image to download your own copy!

I went back and forth on figuring out a movie about love to watch. Then I finally realized, The Princess Bride would be the perfect one to watch. I’ve watched it but I still haven’t posted a review here. I will at some point though.

For the second challenge, a movie about an issue you care about, I did watch Don’t Look Up. It’s more of a metaphor than a movie directly about an issue but it applies uncannily to so many issues I think this one counts.

It’s kind of tough for me to find a movie I have never heard of because I watch a lot of movies. Feel free to recommend some to me in the comments!

I love a good horror comedy but I just haven’t gotten around to watching one yet this year. Next month feels like the right time to do so. Watch for a review when the time comes.

The next challenge was a movie that is all character driven and no action. I watched the great Japanese film Drive My Car. It’s a real commitment at a three hour run time but it touches the depths of human emotion like almost no other movie can.

I’m lucky because the best picture winner from the year I was born happens to be one of the greatest movies of all time. I’ll be watching The Godfather II. I’ll post a review after I do that but I know it’s a film I love so it’s a win for me.

The first movie I remember watching in theaters is a bit of an oddball but it gave me the foundation to be a lifelong cinephile. I watched The Great Muppet Caper and I remember loving everything about the experience. As a kid I hadn’t understood just how big things could be until I saw a huge poster of Kermit and Miss Piggy etc. and then saw them on a giant screen. (I’m sure it was all normal sized but for a young kid that’s still huge). I’ll post a review once I’ve rewatched it but I’m not sure how well it will hold up.

The Godfather II also qualifies as a movie that’s better than the original but for my money, Empire Strikes Back is always going to be the best in that category. I’ll post a review of it here before the year is out.

There are tons of movies with incredible musical scores so I’m not sure which movie I’ll watch but you can bet your bottom dollar it will have been composed by John Wiliams.

The last three challenges I’ll leave for October, November and December.

Read, Watch, Play CHallenge

Slick Dungeon’s 2022 Read, Watch, Play challenge! Click the image about to download your own copy!

The read, watch, play challenge is the one I am probably the farthest behind on. What can I say? It can be hard to find time to play all the games, watch all the movies, and read all the books I want to.

For reading a book that is set in the same setting as a tabletop game I am reading Vampire of the Mists which is set in Barovia, a gothic horror setting for Dungeons & Dragons. Once I’ve completed it, I will post a review here.

The next challenge on the list is to watch a movie where the characters play Dungeons & Dragons. I thought about watching E.T. but decided to go with Lloyd the Conqueror. The characters technically LARP but they roll D20’s and there’s enough D&D references in there I think it counts.

Play the first role playing game you remember playing was pretty easy. I played Dungeons & Dragons several times this year.

I haven’t yet come across a book where the characters play a role playing game so if you have an recommendations, let me know!

The Princess Bride has fantasy creatures in it so that one will count toward this challenge for me. I’ll post a review at some point this year.

I’m not sure what role playing game that I’ve never played I want to do. I’m leaning towards Flames of Freedom which is kind of a Cthulhu style game set in the American revolution and sounds pretty cool. But it will depend on if I can find others to play with me, so we’ll see.

I’m currently reading the core rulebook for Vampire the Masquerade 5th Edition. Once I complete it, I’ll definitely post a review but it’s going to take a while because that’s a fairly long rulebook.

For a movie with a quest in it, I’m not sure what I will watch but it’s likely enough I’ll just end up rewatching Lord of the Rings movies because, well, I love those books and movies so I might as well enjoy them again.

There are a ton of sci-fi role playing games I’d love to get into but I haven’t decided which one I’m going with. Again, this will depend on who I can get to play what with me. I’ll report back once I have done it though.

The last three challenges I’ll leave for October, November and December.

In Conclusion

Well, that’s where I’m at for these challenges so far this year. Have you tried any of them? If so, how’s it going? Also, a reminder, if you complete one of these challenges and post about it on your blog and let me know, I will review anything you would like me to. (Within reason of course). If you want me to review your book or movie or role playing game or one you just really want to know my opinion about, simply put your link to your blog post in the comments, and let me know and I will contact you about reviewing something for you.

If you would like a copy of any of my challenges, feel free to download from the image, or click here for books, movies, and read, watch, play challenges.

If you enjoy my content and want more, sign up for my mailing list below.

Until next time, stay slick out there!

Challengingly yours,

Slick Dungeon

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I Know What You Did Last Summer – Movie Review

I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997)

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Hello horror fans, Slick Dungeon, here. I’m back to review another horror film for you. This time I watched the slasher from the 1990’s with the dream cast of the 1990’s, I Know What You Did Last Summer. This is an old movie but on the off chance you have not seen it, be warned there will be some spoilers below. So, if you haven’t seen it, hop on a boat, grab a chunk of ice with a hook to cool yourself off, and watch the movie. Then come back here to read the review.

Still with me? Great. I Know What You Did Last Summer is a slasher film which has a lot of call backs to an urban legend about a man with a hook for a hand. Think of the original Candyman but not quite as good as that.

The movie stars some actors with major name recognition for the time including, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Anne Heche, Ryan Phillipe, Freddie Prinze Jr., and Johnny Galecki.

It’s the 4th of July and a group of friends is about to finish high school and head off in various directions to start their lives as young adults. But before that, Julie James, Helen Shivers, Barry Cox, and Ray Bronson are going to party it up. These four friends go out to the beach and party down. They hang out with a crowd, then split off to tell campfire stories on the beach. One of the stories has to do with the hook handed killer and none of them can quite agree on the correct version of the story.

Barry, in particular starts drinking fairly heavily. At night, when it’s time to go home, the rest of the group do the responsible thing and don’t allow Barry to drive.

They pile in the car, with Ray at the wheel. But apparently Barry can’t help but be a bit of an idiot as he shouts out of the sunroof of the car and spills alcohol all over everyone else. Ray takes his eyes off the road for a moment due to the distraction and ends up hitting a pedestrian.

Rather than call the police or an ambulance, the group decides to hide the accident and toss the body into the ocean. Before they can do that, their classmate Max drives through but the group is able to send him on his way without too much trouble.

A year later, the group is not at all where they imagined they would be. Julie is failing her classes, Ray has become a fisherman, Helen is working at a retail store and Barry is just kind of existing at home. It’s clear at least some of this group feels guilty over what happened.

Things take a dark turn when Julie receives a simple note which just says, “I know what you did last summer.” It’s a simple but extremely threatening message.

The film plays out with people who were part of the group of four, or people who know them well, being killed or threatened in some way. In all of these instances there is a glimpse of someone wearing a fisherman’s slicker and holding a hook.

There are a few potential killers but no matter who it is, it’s clear this person has the whole story of what happened the summer before. The characters who are able do some research to figure out what is going on.

I don’t want to give away the end here in case anyone hasn’t watched it but there are some twists and turns and the reveal is potentially surprising.

This never quite elevates itself to a great horror movie but it is well acted and believable. One problem with it is it can be hard for the viewer to sympathize with a group who decided to hide an accident rather than own up to their own part in it. These aren’t completely innocent babysitters just trying to make it through Halloween, these are people with a pretty major secret.

That aside, there are some good scares and although there is a bit of gore it’s fairly tame compared to a lot of other horror franchises. The very end certainly leaves it open to sequel potential and I will be reviewing the others in this series.

If you want to watch a good popcorn slasher without having to overthink anything this is a solid watch. But, it’s not quite capable of reaching the greatness some horror franchises achieve.

Horrifically yours,

Slick Dungeon

Marvel 616 Review – Tales to Astonish #41

Tales to Astonish Issue 41 Photo Credit: Marvel

By issue 41 Tales to Astonish has truly become Ant-Man’s book. He stars as the lead story in every issue although he still shares pages with one-off stories which have nothing to do with him. However, there are only so many stories one can come up with involving a guy who shrinks and controls insects.

This issue is by no means an inspired story. In fact, it’s kind of a lazy story, even by Ant-Man standards. Henry Pym is always fighting communists, street thugs, or aliens. This issue aliens are the enemy.

We start out with Henry Pym looking to visit a fellow scientist. Pym knows his friend Paul must be in because Pym was invited to see a new formula. When Pym knocks, there is no answer, so Henry figures Paul is in his lab and the most sensible thing to do is to change to Ant-Man to make sure his buddy is okay. After all, he could be ill.

We get yet another reminder that Henry Pym wears clothes made of unstable molecules so his clothes shrink with him. We also are reminded about the cybernetic helmet Pym has which allows him to control ants. Pym calls an ant and rides in through the keyhole. After a thorough search it becomes apparent Paul is not there. Henry figures something must have happened to him. He also sees on the news scientists are disappearing all over the place. Pym figures it’s likely to happen to him. But he also figures he can handle it as Ant-Man.

For a smart scientist who surely must work in a secure lab, Henry next makes about the dumbest mistake he possibly could, casually allowing a random window washer into his lab.

Henry Pym makes a mistake. Photo Credit Marvel, story by Stan Lee, Art by Don Heck

Well, to no one’s surprise this window washer is up to no good. He pours a chemical on Henry, thus paralyzing the scientist.

We next get to see a scene happening in another dimension of space and time. This is where all the missing scientists have gone because an alien warlord, named Kulla wants them to develop a weapon called an electro-death ray. Any scientist who speaks out or challenges Kulla ends up in the dungeons.

Back in our dimension the window washer puts a strange metal gadget on his and Pym’s head. This device transports them to Kulla’s dimension. The window washer is in on this scheme for the money and doesn’t care about the ethics of it all. The other scientists are concerned to see Pym also kidnapped and they have even more concern once Pym starts shouting, “Down with all tyrants! Down with Kulla!” He is immediately dragged to the dungeons.

This, of course, gives Pym the chance to change to Ant-Man and help everyone out. Henry does discover some alien insects on this world but his helmet doesn’t work right away because they seem to communicate on a different frequency than ants on Earth do. Lucky for our hero, he retains his full human strength so the bugs are no real problem.

It takes a moment but he gets the helmet adjusted so he can communicate with the insects. He then sneaks out of the dungeon. The other scientists have just completed the death ray and Ant-Man accidentally crosses an electronic beam signaling to Kulla there is an intruder.

Everyone in the room sees Ant-Man and the scientists are left to wonder how the hero arrived in this dimension. But, they’re quite happy to see him since he can likely save the day.

There’s a bit of hiding and a chase around the room until Kulla’s guards spot Ant-Man and douse him with the same chemical the window washer used. Ant-Man is not defeated because he has his helmet and he aims the electro-death ray right at Kulla with the help of the alien insects. The insects also open the door to the fortress Kulla was staying in and the regular people of the planet are overjoyed to see the warlord dead and his minions captured.

While all this is happening, Ant-Man dashes back to the dungeon so he can change back to Henry Pym and the scientists will be none the wiser about who is Ant-Man.

The window washer isn’t concerned with his own predicament because he figures the scientists aren’t police and he’s got no reason to worry. But, the people of this world decide to keep the window washer there until he truly reforms. With the use of the helmets the scientists get back to Earth and lament the fact Kulla could have put his scientific knowledge to use for good but did not. And then the scientists wonder once again where Ant-Man came from to help them.

Henry Pym answers, “Perhaps it doesn’t matter how the Ant-Man gets where he does! Just so we know that whenever he is needed… he’s always there!”

In all, it’s a fairly forgettable issue and about the only thing making this one memorable is that a brilliant scientist was easily tricked by a fake window washer.

Next up on the reading list, we’re finally going to catch up with the wall crawler himself once again in, Amazing Spider-Man #1!

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The Hammersmith Haunting: A Call of Cthulhu Adventure Review

The Hammersmith Haunting by Kat Clay
The Hammersmith Haunting by Kat Clay

Hello horror RPG fans, it’s Slick Dungeon and I’ve got a neat little Call of Cthulhu adventure to review for you today! It’s set in London in the 1890’s and was created by Kat Clay. The adventure was created for three to five players and is meant to take one to two sessions to complete. It’s a ghost story with a whole lot more going on and is called The Hammersmith Haunting.

I’m definitely not going to give everything away here but if you are a player who might play in this scenario, stay away, as there may be some spoilers. If you are a Keeper looking for an adventure to run, I’ll give you a short rundown of the scenario and let you know my thoughts on whether this would be a good one to run.

(Note: this post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something through this post I will get a small commission at no extra cost to you)

Keeper’s Eyes Only – What you Get

If you are a player and not a Keeper, don’t read past this sentence.

In this adventure you get five pre-generated characters for your players to choose from, five NPC’s with detailed descriptions and stat blocks, four player handouts, and three maps. There’s also a bit of historical commentary on a real world incident related to the events in the scenario, several photos and bits of artwork you could either show to players or keep to yourself for inspiration, and some tips and advice for running the adventure.

The author makes no secret that the scenario is a fairly linear storyline. I don’t think that is necessarily a bad thing and, in fact, may be helpful to newer Keepers who want to run something which won’t take months to complete and gives a bit of guidance on how the story should play out. But, it is something to keep in mind if you and your players really love more open ended scenarios.

The story is divided into three chapters and a conclusion, allowing for good stopping points if you can’t complete the scenario in a single session.

The scenario is set in 1890 so this is more suitable for those interested in playing in that time period.

The first chapter does a nice job of setting the mood and increasing the fear of both the investigators and those affected by the haunting in Hammersmith. There are a couple of rather memorable NPC’s in this section. Again, this is a linear storyline, so there may be instances where you’ll need to nudge your players in one direction or another a bit to keep the story moving. But, there are enough locations that virtually anywhere the Investigators end up, they’ll be able to get back on track to the main story.

In the second chapter the Investigators learn a little bit more about what is going on in Hammersmith and why. The creepiness factor increases and there’s a fairly intense scene which comes into play in the last chapter. This chapter also does a nice job of making the haunting personal but also connecting it with a larger cosmic mythos, so the stakes feel high.

The third chapter is the confrontation of the entity causing the problems in Hammersmith. This part is no joke and it will be a difficult confrontation for the Investigators. What’s more, depending on what actions the Investigators took in the first two chapters, they may be at more of a disadvantage against their enemy.

There are three given possible conclusions and an additional outcome depending on what the Investigators did. At least two of the conclusions could lead to longer campaigns and would be a good beginning to explore a lot more of the cosmic horror to be found in Call of Cthulhu.

While I don’t want to get much more specific for fear of spoilers, there is a lot of good horror to work with here so the scenario can definitely get that fun and creepy vibe that makes some of the best Call of Cthulhu scenarios.

Who is the Adventure for?

This scenario is suited well for those who like to play in the Gaslight era. It’s good for a group of 3-5 people who want to have a one shot scenario which takes one or two sessions at most. It’s also good for a Keeper who wants to have a bit of direction on how a story might play out, rather than having a sprawling sandbox for their players.

The adventure is quite well written, which is no surprise, as Kat Clay is also an author. This does lead to moments where perhaps more player agency could have been allowed but a good Keeper would be able to still improvise enough to get players to make choices where it feels like they are the ones driving the story rather than the Keeper.

The villain in the story is also nicely set up where, depending on how things go, they could make an appearance, or even be a major part of, future scenarios. I don’t know if Kat Clay has any plans to expand this but I could see this becoming a whole campaign if she wanted to make it into one.

If you are looking for a solid one shot scenario set in the gaslight era for Call of Cthulhu this is going to be a fun one to run. All you need is the adventure itself and the Keeper rulebook to run it.

How to get the scenario

The cost is quite reasonable. You can get the PDF version for $4.95, the softcover for $9.95, or the softcover and PDF for $14.90 all on drivethrurpg. If you are going to use the softcover at all, I highly recommend getting the $14.90 version so you get the PDF along with it, that way you can print again to play with another group if you ever want to.

Also, if you want a bit more background on how this scenario came to be and what inspired the author to create it, check out her video below.

The Hammersmith Haunting – A Call of Cthulhu scenario

Have you run this scenario? If so, what did you think of it? Let me know in the comments below.

Horrifically yours,

Slick Dungeon

Marvel 616 Review – Tales of Suspense #39

Tales of Suspense Issue 39 Photo Credit: Marvel

In the Marvel Cinematic Universe there was a time when Iron Man was without question the most popular character Marvel had ever put on screen. This is largely due to the excellent portrayal of the character by Robert Downey Jr. and the deft handling of the adaptation by Jon Favreau. But none of that would have happened without Issue 39 of Tales of Suspense where the character was first introduced.

Tales of Suspense is yet another anthology comic book put out by Marvel comics. This seems to be one of the best methods the creators had to experiment and introduce new characters. It was easy to know what heroes were popular by the fan reaction. If there was not much reaction, they could just stop making stories with that character.

Oddly enough, this issue has two stories which are cannon to the Marvel 616 universe but of course Iron Man is Born! is the one most remembered. I’ll talk about both stories in this post but I’ll be digging much deeper into Iron Man than in the other story.

The story in Iron Man is Born! is written by Stan Lee but this time the art duties fall to Don Heck. While he might not be quite as dynamic as Jack Kirby was in his art style, Heck is a fine artist and helped bring several characters to life including the Wasp, Black Widow, Hawkeye, and Wonder Man. In other words, he has an impressive portfolio and handles the introduction of this new character deftly for the most part.

The story begins at the laboratory of Anthony Stark where soldiers are on guard 24 hours a day to keep an eye out because, “the commies would give their eyeteeth to know what he’s working on now!”

For those who are keeping track, Reed Richards, Henry Pym, Bruce Banner, and even Don Blake have all had run ins with communists and the government has had to protect them in one way or another. I think we can presume from the very first panel in this story it’s likely these scientists know of each other and quite possibly have met one another. This will become important later when teams like The Avengers become established. We’ve still got a while until that happens but the introduction of Stark gets us a huge step closer.

Inside the lab, Stark is demonstrating small but powerful transistors that can intensify magnets he has developed, strong enough to open locked vaults from a far distance. In the modern era of the movies the power source of Iron Man’s suit is his arc reactor but in these early comics it’s a series of transistors, magnets and other small but clever devices.

Stark tells a general at the demonstration his transistors are capable of solving his, “problem in Vietnam.” It’s worth noting, this is the first mention of the real world conflict of Vietnam in Marvel 616. This grounds the story more in reality than some other comics might and it’s an interesting choice. While Vietnam at the time was seen as a proxy war between democracy and communism, all of the issues before have just mentioned, reds, commies, or some similar name to refer to communist enemies. It seems Marvel could no longer ignore real world events in their pages.

Reading the start of the story is interesting because in so many ways it does mirror the opening of the movie. We’re given a bit of background about Stark and find out he is handsome, glamorous, constantly in the company of beautiful women, a sophisticate, and a scientist, and a millionaire bachelor as much at home in a laboratory as in high society. Change the word millionaire to billionaire and this could be the Netflix description of the first movie.

But the narrator tells us he is soon destined to become the most tragic figure on Earth! I assume they forgot about Bruce Banner when they wrote that but this is Stark’s story so we’ll let it go.

Now, I would be remiss if I did not talk about the negative aspects of this first Iron Man story. We get some absolutely awful stereotyping against Asian people, and Vietnamese people specifically to set up the story. We read about a cruel military leader named Wong-Chu, the Red Guerilla Tyrant who is going village to village in South Vietnam to take over. The artwork here is as offensive as you might imagine and the story is fairly insulting at this part but we have to get through it to get Iron Man. Wong-Chu challenges anyone in a village he is about to take over to a wrestling match. If the challenger can beat Wong-Chu he promises to let the village go free. Wong-Chu defeats all challengers and talks in broken English, again in some of the worst of stereotypical ways. Anyway, we have our villain set up now.

We flash over to Iron Man who has landed in South Vietnam with some American soldiers. They tell him they could beat the Red Guerilla’s army but they can’t get their tanks through the dense jungle. In a typically arrogant and uniquely American way, Stark has miniaturized mortars so the army can bomb the hell out of a bunch of people. The weapons are, of course, effective.

Unfortunately for Stark, he stumbles over a tripwire and is injured in a blast as a result. In the movie, you’ll remember this as the armored vehicle scene where Stark is captured. This is definitely something the movie does better as the comic makes it seem as if Stark is just kinda clumsy.

Stark is captured and we find out he has shrapnel near his heart. This shrapnel can’t be operated on and he’s only got a week to live. Wong-Chu decides to try to trick Stark into working for him. Stark sees right through the ruse but agrees to do the work. Wong-Chu just seems to think Stark is being self serving, and considering what we know about him so far, it wouldn’t be that hard to believe.

Just as he does in the movie, Stark gets to work designing, and building a weapon. As he is doing this, another prisoner, Professor Yinsen, is thrown in the cell with Stark. Lucky for Stark, Yinsen is a physicist and Stark has read his books. The world thought Yinsen had died but instead he was forced into slave labor. It’s Yinsen who names the weapon Stark is building calling it, “An Iron Man!”

It’s a suit of armor which not only is capable of extending Stark’s life but also has a ton of firepower to it. Stark is pretty much knocking on death’s door when he puts on the suit for the first time. But as the suit is powering up, Wong-Chu arrives and Professor Yinsen has to buy Stark time. This proves fatal to Yinsen and Stark swears Yinsen’s death will not be in vain.

It takes Stark a few minutes to get used to moving and walking around in the suit but once he does, he’s got a bunch of tricks up his sleeves. He has suction cups which allow him to stick to the ceiling where he hides from his attackers. After they leave, Stark finds Wong-Chu and… challenges him to a wrestling match? Checks notes. Yep. He challenges his captor to a wrestling match. The newly made Iron Man has no trouble dispatching his enemy.

The army attacks Iron Man but small arms fire just seem to bounce right off of him. Stark uses his transistors to repel a bunch of the army and they flee from him. The next bit is a little chase and some more neat tricks Stark has built into his suit, including a buzz saw inside his finger container and transistors which increase his strength. All the use of the suit does drain it, however. A quick thinking Iron Man shoots out a stream of oil right near an ammo dump and lights the whole thing on fire, causing a major explosion.

Stark wins, even if he has doomed himself to a life living inside an iron suit. He goes to where Yinsen was slain and tells him, “Now, Professor Yinsen, rest easy! You, who sacrificed your life to save mine, have been avenged!”

Avenged, huh? Might make a good name for a superhero team somewhere down the line. I hope, Stan Lee remembers that one. Stark kind of walks off wondering what’s in store for him in the future. The reader knows more is to come because we’re told not to miss more of Iron Man in the next great issue of… Tales of Suspense!

While it is great we are getting closer to a full roster of Avengers, the terrible stereotyping in this issue makes it tough to read. I can’t emphasize how bad it is. Not only is the dialogue in broken English, every Asian character here is drawn not in a realistic flesh tone but in a sickly yellow color and with the most stereotypical features you can imagine. There will be great stories with Anthony Stark in them to come, but this one is only significant in that it establishes him as a character and a hero.

There will be more stories to come where the stereotyping is a major problem. And while we might say times were different back then and writers and artists weren’t as concerned with staying away from stereotypes as they are now, that still doesn’t excuse it.

The story does set up major elements which will be prevalent in almost all Iron Man stories to come. Stark needs the suit to live because without it he’ll essentially die of a cardiac condition. Stark is a brilliant, wealthy scientist, and a womanizing playboy. Also, the government wants and needs this man to be protected at nearly any cost. We’ll have lots of great stories with Iron Man soon enough but for now, he’s sort of waiting in the wings to really come into his own as a hero.

As I mentioned above, there is a second story in this issue which is Marvel 616 cannon. This one is the D story, titled Gundar! This is written by Stan Lee and drawn by Steve Ditko who first drew Spider-Man.

The story centers around a shipwreck survivor out on the ocean in a lonely lifeboat. He comes upon an island and thinks he is saved. It should be noted this is clearly a modern (for 1962) lifeboat with a modern sailor. He’s immediately found by a clan of Vikings. The man is understandably confused, thinking maybe he’s on a movie set. But the Vikings tell him they await the coming of Gundar.

It seems these Vikings sailed on a ship under a cruel master known as Gundar. This Gundar goes a little mad and attacks his own crew. They are able to subdue him eventually but not before he puts a curse upon them all. He condemns them to be cast away on an unknown isle, to spend eternity alone. He also says only he can lift the curse.

As we see a panel of the ship struggling through a storm, we see Odin in the background hurling lightning at the sea. This is the reason, and the only reason, this story is Marvel 616 cannon. After all, Odin is Thor’s father so his appearance counts.

Odin attacks the sea in Gundar! Photo Credit: Marvel, artwork by Steve Ditko

The twist of the story at the end is that the shipwrecked man is a descendent of Gundar and the Vikings all disappear and go back into the past. That’s the whole story. Not an incredibly memorable one but it was fine for a short story in an anthology comic.

Next up we’ll be checking in on a pint-sized hero with Ant-Man in the pages of Tales to Astonish #41!

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The Sandman Episode 1 Deep Dive Review

Dream is captured in episode 1 of the Netflix series The Sandman

Hello dreamers, day dreamers, and nightmare watchers! It’s Slick Dungeon here and I am back to review the first of The Sandman episodes. This one is titled Sleep of the Just. Before we get too far into this review, it’s my duty to warn you there will be heavy spoilers for the episode and some spoilers for the early issues of The Sandman comics. If you can’t stand spoilers then go watch and read and come back here for the review. I do plan on going pretty deep into the material so tread cautiously if you are not into that sort of thing.

In order for me to go as in-depth into this series as I want to, we need to take a little trip back in time to 1988 when the first issue of The Sandman comic book began. Back then, Neil Gaiman, the author and co-creator of the series was trying to revive a series about a character called The Sandman which was created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby. Neil pitched the idea to his editor Karen Berger but she had one change to it. She wanted the series to be about a brand new character. This decision proved pivotal, allowing Gaiman to take a ton of creative license with how he handled his series.

It’s important to remember that this series, at the beginning especially, was tied to DC comics. While it was printed under a line meant for mature readers called Vertigo, DC characters do walk in these pages. I mention this because in the show, there are some things that absolutely had to be changed from the comics due to licensing issues and copyright problems.

While I may point out adaptive changes in the series, I don’t necessarily think one version is superior to the other. They were made in different times and much like the character Morpheus himself, the world has changed since the comics came out. Each telling of the story is what it needs to be. There are definitely things that would be changed in the comic if it were made now (there truly was not enough diverse representation in the comics) and if the show was made at the time of the comics it would be much different than what we have (and probably not a very good adaptation as Neil Gaiman himself would likely tell you). I’m absolutely not going to dwell on casting choices that certain portions of the internet have raged about. Gender swapping or casting actors who are a different race than what they were in the comics makes absolutely no difference in how well the story is told. And both the comics and the show tell a great story.

Okay, stepping off my soapbox now. After all that setup, let’s talk about the episode itself.

Much like the comic, this first episode is what you might consider the closest to conventional horror. It deals with old men in creepy old houses doing magic to gain power for themselves. If that was all this series was, I could recommend any number of shows exactly like it. It will take some time but both the show and the comic transcend the horror theme eventually.

The episode starts off with a bit of exposition from Morpheus, who declares himself, “the king of dreams” and we see a raven fly over a car and into the world of the dreaming. This is where Morpheus lives and it’s as fantastic as the real world is mundane. This immediately sets up Morpheus as other than ourselves and he seems to know something we don’t as he dismisses our notion as mortals that dreams make no difference in the choices we make.

We really only get the briefest of glimpses into this world of the dreaming but we are introduced to some key characters and the villain of the season is immediately established. The librarian of the dreaming, Lucienne, has a conversation with Dream, while Dream is looking at a stained glass representation of a nightmare of his own creation. This is a character called The Corinthian. In the comics we don’t even get a hint of him for quite a long time. I do think this change was smart because it shows Morpheus will have an adversary. Lucienne also tells Morpheus she has a feeling Morpheus won’t be coming back because in the real world, dreams don’t survive long, but nightmares seem to thrive.

I’d say that’s a rather pessimistic worldview but of course, it might not be wrong either. The story gets going with a group of people who seem to run a cult of some sort and their goal is to trap the angel of death. The time period is 1916 and the location is Wychcross England. In other words, war is breaking out and the world does indeed look bleak at this time. At this point in the show the timeline matches what we see in the comics but it won’t stay that way for long.

In the comic series we don’t find out much about this cult. But in the show we get a little window into what is going on. There’s a man who calls himself the Magus (meaning sorcerer) who will go to any length to bring his eldest son back from the dead. We also see his second born son, Alex, who seems to have a kinder heart than his father.

As Dream is about to confront the Corinthian and bring him back to the dreaming, a spell is performed by the cult. Instead of trapping Death like the Magus hoped, he has Morpheus, also known as Dream. But the Magus really has no idea what it is he’s captured.

There is another interesting change here. In the comics we essentially see the Magus flail about trying to figure out who he has. But in the show, the Corinthian shows up almost immediately to tell the Magus what he has and how to keep Dream from escaping. This gives the Corinthian a whole lot more power and reason to be there than the comic does.

One consequence of Morpheus being locked up is a “sleepy sickness” breaks out. There are a bunch of people who can’t sleep, always sleepwalk, or simply will no longer wake up. One of the most interesting things about this is this incident actually reflects a real illness that did break out at the time. If you ever wonder if Neil Gaiman did his homework for this story, that’s all you need to know.

We are also very briefly introduced to a character suffering from this sleepy sickness named, Unity. She’s an incredibly important character but we won’t know more about her until future episodes.

While the Magus may not have captured who he wanted, he does take what are called Morpheus’ vestments. A ruby, a bag of sand, and what amounts to a gas mask but is referred to as a “helm.” These items are exceedingly powerful so you know there will be trouble with them down the line.

One bit of kudos to the show runners here is the way they make Tom Sturridge look as Morpheus while he is trapped. He’s thin and weakened but also looks otherworldly. I’m guessing there was a good amount of CGI and a lot of messing around with lighting to get the look just right but they nailed it.

Dream is more than a god. He’s one of “The Endless” so Morpheus is able to play the long game against his captors. This allows us to move the story past the Magus and a simple revenge plot. While there are hints of Alex being kind and even potentially letting Morpheus out, he never does, either from fear of his father, or fear of what Dream might do.

Before the Magus dies, a woman named Ethel Cripps who is pregnant with his child absconds with Dream’s vestments and a small fortune in cash. This event is probably the most significant event in this first season. It leaves Morpheus with no knowledge of where his tools are. Ethel does escape the Magus and has the baby. This baby will also be a huge part of the series in episodes to come.

There’s also a moment where it almost seems Dream will escape with the help of his raven but the bird is shot by Alex. This gives Morpheus a strong reason to distrust Alex once the Magus is dead. And Morpheus still has all the time in the world to wait. All he needs is for someone to fall asleep near him.

Things were probably not easy for Alex as an out gay man in the 1920’s but that’s no excuse for keeping someone locked up in your basement. Ultimately, once Alex is old and no longer mobile, it’s his partner Paul who allows for Morpheus to escape. He pushes Alex’s wheelchair across the magic circle which traps Dream. This is all the opportunity one of the Endless needs to escape.

Morpheus is soon able to walk through the guards dreams and right out of his magic cage. Dream confronts Alex and as punishment grants him the gift of, “eternal sleep.” Presumably he’s given Alex the Sleepy Sickness.

If there was a single thing I could change from this episode it would be this adaptive change. In the comics Morpheus also gives Ales a gift. But this gift is the gift of eternal waking. Have you ever had a nightmare and when the worst thing you can imagine is about to strike you wake up and then you feel relief but then another nightmare comes and you realize you haven’t actually woken up? Take that feeling and imagine having it forever. Always a brief moment of relief before being once more terrified in an endless loop. That’s severe punishment.

While I understand why they made the change, I still think the original idea from the comic would have been better. They changed it because as the viewer we do get to know Alex a little bit and understand he has some kindness to him. He really does sympathize with Morpheus, even though he doesn’t allow Morpheus to escape.

My problem with the change is it humanizes Morpheus too much. Morpheus is Endless and in the comic series he certainly does have a character arc but his change is slow. Centuries spanning slow. To have Morpheus show any bit of kindness to his captors shows him identifying with humans too much at this point in the series.

Here is also where the timeline diverges between the comics and the show. In the show we advance all the way to our time. The comic advanced to its present time of 1989. I think there are a lot of reasons for this change, not the least of which would be having to film a period piece with only stuff from the 1980’s and 1990’s would bring the cost up on the whole production and it’s already an expensive show.

The episode ends with a very murder-y Corinthian realizing Morpheus is out of his cage. Morpheus goes back to the Dreaming where Lucienne finds him. But the realm of the king of dreams has changed. It’s a mere shadow of what it had been at the beginning of the episode and it’s clear Morpheus is going to need his stuff back in order to fix anything. Apparently, this disarray and decay is what happens when Morpheus is away for too long. There’s also a very small hint of something having happened to another one of the Endless in the past. If we find out what all that is about, it won’t be until later seasons.

Oddly, the end of the episode is a preview for what’s going to happen this season on The Sandman. It really feels out of place and I’m not exactly sure why they put it there but you can skip it if you’re watching the show because, well, you’re already watching the show.

All in all, this episode is probably the weakest of the series but it’s essential to have it so we can really get into the story. I think it was well told, superbly acted, and brought us into a world full of a lot of complex things going on rather seemlessly.

My biggest regret for the episode is this is the only episode we get to see Charles Dance who plays Roger Buress, aka, the Magus. You’ll likely recognize him as Tywin Lannister from Game of Thrones. And just like in that show, every minute he is on screen, he is fascinating to watch. But we’ll have lots of other star power and phenomenal performances in future episodes so I can’t complain too much.

Well, that’s my take on the first episode. I’ll have plenty more to say about future episodes (and hopefully future seasons). Until then, did you watch this show or read the comics? If so, let me know what you thought about it in the comments below. If you could change anything about the adaptation what would it be? Or do you think it is perfect as is?

Dreamily yours,

Slick Dungeon

Arcadia Issue #5 From MCDM – Review

Arcadia Issue #5 From MCDM Artwork by Sean Andrew Murray

Hello dungeon crawlers, it’s me, Slick Dungeon! I’m back to review another issue in the awesome magazine put out by MCDM Productions, Arcadia issue #5. The magazine has delivered some great value in past issues so we’ll see how this one holds up.

The magazine is a good deal at $12 a piece right now but if you buy the bundle of the first three issues it’s $18 so I would recommend going with that. You can buy your copies here. Just a note that I am not associated with MCDM so I’m just recommending buying this because I think it’s good, not for any other reason.

I took a look at all the articles and want to give you my hot takes so far. If you don’t know what Arcadia is and you want to learn more about it before reading about issue #5 you can start at the beginning and check out my post for issue #1 here.

Also, if you want to go even further in depth about issue #5 you can see the Q&A with the creators below.

Arcadia 5e Magazine: Issue 5 Q&A with the creators

This issue features just 3 articles but it still comes in at a solid 34 pages. There are no adventures here. Instead, we get an article about long term curses, an article about a new subclass, and an article with some new spells. I’m going to go through each of these articles and give my take on them so you can see if this might be something you want to purchase for your own home game.

Guild Adept PDFs - Available exclusively @ Dungeon Masters Guild

THE ARTWORK

In all five of the issues I have read so far, there has never been one where I was not impressed with at least some of the artwork. Even the articles that I find only so so tend to still have fantastic artwork. And there’s always at least one piece of art which makes me think you could plan an entire campaign around that single image. Issue 5 is no different in that regard and it’s great to see it continue. I really like the art in the first and second articles in this one but the cover to me is flat out amazing. I have no idea what’s going on there but it looks downright deadly.

Artwork by Sean Andrew Murray

Long-Term Curses

In Dungeons & Dragons there are a lot of instances where curses may come up. One issue some Dungeon Masters have is the curses can become meaningless if a simple 3rd level spell, Remove Curse, can simply wipe it out. This article attempts to correct that by giving some curses which are a bit more permanent.

The article gives us six brand new curses we could use in our games. Most of them also have helpful GM tips on using these curses. Let’s take a brief look at each one.

The first curse is The Curse of the Betrayed. Basically this curse makes the player character think at all times they are going to be or already have been betrayed in some ways. This curse can also affect the whole party. While I think there are some settings where a curse like this might work (particularly some in Ravenloft) overall, I have some issue with this curse. I feel like unless you have players who are really good at not letting personal feelings come into role play, this is a powder keg for bad player behavior. Specifically, I would be afraid one problem player might feel like this curse is a license to act however they want at all times, consequences be damned. I’m sure most people wouldn’t try to do that but I could see it escalating.

The second curse is The Curse of Cassandra. It’s pretty much a curse where players see a little bit into the future about and event that is going to happen to them. It’s not a maybe kind of prophecy, if they have this curse, the negative thing is going to happen. Of course, they can try to stop it and if they do, that’s one way to reverse the curse. But for this one I think this makes things difficult for the Dungeon Master. It’s hard enough to keep a table of players focused on what is happening right now sometimes, let alone on something you may have to shoehorn into your campaign.

The third curse is The Curse of the Living Dead. This is hands down my favorite curse in here, and the only one I really might consider using in my own campaigns. Rather than a player or party being cursed, this applies to a whole town or village. And, just like you might expect, this has to do with zombies and other undead. There’s a pretty creative take here though where any dead anything rises at midnight. I could see a pretty good Pet Cemetery style campaign happening here, or just straight up Night of the Living Dead.

Next we have the Curse of the Sordino. This one has a pretty good hook for bards where sound really comes into play. But if you don’t have bards in your party, it’s probably not the curse for you. However, it does seem like a fun adventure hook. I would say more but I don’t want to spoil it for those who might buy the magazine.

Curse of the Watchers is one where I think it would work really well if you are running Curse of Strahd, specifically because it involves ravens. Don’t use this if any of your players have a bird phobia though, it could be traumatic! We do get a pretty neat stat block for a Swarm of Cursed Ravens which could be used in almost any campaign.

Finally, we get Slow Polymorph. In essence, this curse changes a player character to be a little more monster-like but usually with some benefit as well. It’s probably not a condition any player would really want to keep for long though. I think this one could be used at any table but only if you really talk to your players about it first because it’s going to change them, potentially permanently.

Out of the six curses here there are only two I see where you probably don’t need to have long discussions with your players before implementing and only if characters are playing in certain types of settings. While all the curses are unique and might make a nice change from the usual curses players end up with, I can only give this article a C+. There’s simply too much prep work and potential for players to end up in fights with one another over some of these. If you do use one of these curses in your game, let me know how it goes because I’m really curious how well it turned out for you.

GoldMonger Subclass

One of the odd quirks of Dungeons & Dragons 5e is you tend to accumulate a lot of wealth if you live long enough. After all, you are plundering dragons hoards, raiding castles for magic items, and plunging the depths of cavernous dungeons, snatching up whatever coin comes your way. This article creates subclasses for those who have greed as one of their main motivations for what they do in the game.

The article gives us a deity of deals, three subclasses, and an NPC to play with. Let’s dig into those.

The deity they give us is a god of deals. I could see this one being played any number of ways and it would fit into any campaign where any transaction might be important. It’s also a unique deity your players aren’t going to have seen before so it’s definitely something fresh. And since this god had to do with deals, not just gold, it doesn’t have to be a transaction involving gold to use this in a campaign. I haven’t played a campaign using this but it seems like it could be fun.

The first subclass is a new domain for Clerics called the Avarice domain. This introduces a lot of neat features for Clerics. There are tons of subclasses for Clerics already so I can’t say this one is better or worse than the others but I could easily see a player hamming it up as a Cleric who is all about material goods.

The second subclass is a Druid Circle: Circle of the Gilded. This subclass is all about gems. Druids use the elemental powers granted to them by certain gems in order to protect the precious natural resources where the gems come from. The gems become part of the Druid and deal some types damage (lighting, acid, etc). A lot of the features in here seem really fun to play and since Druids are all about nature and precious gems come from nature, this one really makes a lot of sense.

The final subclass is an Oath for Paladins: The Oath of Acquisitions. I think this one is really cool. It basically allows Paladins to become mercenaries. They’re not necessarily out there for good or bad but for payment. They’re going to help, certainly, if you need, as long as you will fairly compensate the Paladin. I can’t even number the amount of stories where a mercenary is the main character in all kinds of fantasy. It gives you some cool magic stuff but again I can’t say it’s better or worse than other Paladin classes mechanically. Thematically though, I love this.

There are three retainer stat blocks listed next but if you don’t have Strongholds & Followers this won’t mean much to you. Just think of them as potential NPC stat blocks with some really simple attack mechanics.

Finally this article has an NPC with a full stat block who I could see coming in handy both as a quest giver for a party and a sometimes battle companion. It’s got a bit of good flavor here but as always you’ll want to make your NPC’s your own.

I really found a lot to like in this article. I especially like the deity and NPC provided but the subclasses are good as well. However, with a plethora of good subclasses already available for Clerics, Druids, and Paladins, I’m not sure there is a ton of reason to go with these over any of those. All in all this is a good article and I like how the theme of avarice ties everything together here. I give this a solid B.

Alabaster’s Almanac

In this article we get new spells for Bards, Druids, Sorcerers, Warlocks and Wizards. These are presented in the form of an Almanac with some notes from someone named Alabaster.

I’m not going to go through each and every spell here but there are a few I want to mention so you can have an idea of what is offered here.

There’s a pretty potent 6th level spell for Druids and Wizards which essentially allows a creature to traverse “The World Below” without taking too much damage. It seems pretty fun and would be suitable for a setting like the Underdark so if you have a campaign set there this might be good to use.

Another spell is a sort of modified Mage Hand spell but instead of there being a spectral hand, you can teleport small objects to you. There are a lot of restrictions to it however, and it is a first level spell so it’s not always going to be the most effective of your spells.

The last spell I want to mention is really good counter to any scrying spells called Scryspike. With this spell not only can you stop the scrying spell from happening, you can also do some damage to the person who cast it in the first place.

There are several other spells listed in this article and most of them are really fun. Whether they are right for your table or not is going to depend on you and your party so definitely read through carefully before allowing any player to use them.

I think this was the best article in this issue, even if it was just more spells. But then again, who doesn’t want more spells? Spells are fun!

I’m giving this article an A.

If you’ve enjoyed this review and want to help out this blog, consider subscribing to my newsletter. If you want to find cool D&D resources and support this blog click on one of the DM’s Guild banners.

Adventuringly yours,

Slick Dungeon

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The Ravenstones: Death and Life

The Ravenstones: Death and Life by C.S. Watts

Note: this review was first posted on Reedsy Discovery, an awesome website that pairs independent authors and readers. To see the post there, click here.

If you are a book reviewer and want to contribute reviews on Reedsy Discovery, click here.

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SUMMARY

Volume 4 of The Ravenstones saga (Gains and Losses) ended in setback: the enemy triumphant, our heroes on their heels, needing to regroup. Eirwen the polar bear and his Heimborn cousins had made great strides in their fight for freedom, gaining control of Aeronbed’s capital, Manaris, and the Kingdom’s heartland, winning support of formidable allies: old friends, the gray wolves and new ones, the lions. But these gains came with reversals: two of the Ravenstones lost and a bloody encounter with the panther general, Parthanyx, leaves the allies demoralized.

In Death and Life, Empress Dona Morana wields new weapons. Her agent, the fox Vulpé, insinuates himself into the allied camp, and the long-forgotten wolves of Blakvul rise from their slumber. Parthanyx goes on the offensive, with new allies to command.

Eirwen aims to keep his friend Fridis out of harm’s way. His misguided strategy brings both menace and reward. Uncovering the truth about the gemstones takes Fridis to distant and hidden locations, where she meets a creature who never was, threats she couldn’t have imagined and unexpected answers.

While Eirwen leads the defense of Manaris and of Heimborn, questions emerge in the lions’ camp over the alliance with the bears.

REVIEW

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Ravenstones: Death and Life is the fifth entry in the Ravenstones saga. Eirwen, a noble polar bear who has fashioned himself into a legend, and Fridis an eider duck who is intent on discovering the secret of the magic gems she once possessed continue their adventures in this volume. Eirwen must fend off an attack from an enemy army with much greater power than his own while keeping his friend Fridis safe. Olwen, a lion queen who is still learning how to wield her own power has allied with the bear and must show strength to her people while still following direction from Eirwen. Meanwhile a crafty and persuasive fox named Vulpe has his own agenda and is willing to apply as much diplomacy, conniving and subterfuge as possible to come through for his empress.

Up to this volume, all of the books in the Ravenstone series have been intriguing, complex, and full of twists, turns, wins, losses and surprises. It’s an epic quest filled with battles, palace intrigue, shifting alliances, and magic. This volume is no exception. The story overall continues to hook the reader as much as any fantasy fiction can. C. S. Watts has delivered, once again, a book which leaves the reader wanting more while still neatly resolving many of the open questions of the series.

If you are not a fan of books that have complex plots, plenty of action, a decent dose of magic, surprises at every turn, and fine writing as well, then this is not the series for you. While it is definitely not recommended to start this series at the fifth volume in the series, Watts does do a fine job of reminding the reader of events and characters we have seen in past books and why they are important. Even more impressive, he does this while never taking away from the narrative of the current story. And he manages to introduce a large amount of new characters who I am sure will prove essential to the series.

While a book with talking animals may be off-putting to some, this book delivers for any fantasy lover open minded enough to read it. It’s got the feel of Watership Down while still delivering an original story. If you really are not into books where a lot of political intrigue is essential to the plot, this may also not be the series for you, but even with those scenes included, there is still plenty of action and magic here to come back to.

As a reviewer of many fantasy books, I must admit this series is one I think about a lot and I wait for the next volume in eager anticipation to see what will happen in the Ravenstones saga. If you have not picked up this series, you’re in for a treat, especially if you love epic fantasy. This series and this volume in the series is a must read.

The Sandman (Netflix) Flash Review

The Sandman. (L to R) Tom Sturridge as Dream, Kirby Howell-Baptiste as Death in episode 106 of The Sandman. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2022

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Hello internet, it’s Slick Dungeon here. I’m going to give my initial impressions of the screen adaptation of the comic book series The Sandman. This review will be for what I think of the series overall but in future posts I will do an in-depth review of each individual episode and talk about how the show relates to the comic book series.

I have to be honest to start here. This was a review I dreaded doing. A lot of people who are into comic books had the experience I did with Sandman. When I was a kid I absolutely loved comic books, especially super heroes. But when I went to high school these books dropped off my radar for the most part. Until I started to hear about a series called The Sandman by Neil Gaiman. It had a horror feel to it with some amazing art, a bit of a connection to the DC heroes, but still stood all on its own as a story. And, upon reading the series, it felt like this was one of the series that would help the medium of comics to grow up and be taken seriously. In a phrase, I loved The Sandman and I probably wouldn’t still be reading comic books now without it.

In my mind, the only thing worse than having no adaptation of the series would be to have a bad adaptation of it. It’s the one series I’ve always wanted to see but been much too afraid it would get screwed up. If that happened, I knew people would come to dislike the comic series and we’d never get another good Neil Gaiman story adapted. So, with all that in mind, I was very hesitant to watch this series. I would not be able to take it if it was done poorly.

I’m beyond happy to report this series turned out to be utterly phenomenal. That’s not to say there are no things I would change if I could, but there are so few that this is a nearly perfect series. And there is one episode which I think is maybe the best episode of television I have ever seen.

What’s more, this series is not only grand for those of us who love the comics, but also works exceedingly well for those not at all versed in the lore of The Sandman comics. I think the show will makes comics readers out of a good portion of the audience.

For this review, I really don’t want to get into spoilers in case anyone is wanting to watch but has not. The basic premise is that Dream, played by Tom Sturridge, is captured by mortal man and, let’s just say he is not happy about it. To say much more in this review would either be confusing or lead to spoilers.

The series is by turns dramatic, horrifying, fantastical, and brilliant. The acting performances here are knocked completely out of the park by everyone involved and I just felt like I was living in the world of Dream and his siblings the whole time I was watching it. Some episodes are more terrifying than others and some are slower paced than others but never did I feel bored while watching. There’s too much story here for there to be down time and I guarantee this is a series which will live in your mind long after you have finished watching.

What I want you to take away here is that the series is extremely watchable and a much better adaptation of a brilliant work than I could have hoped for. If you have not yet watched this show, put it at the top of your queue because it’s going to be better than anything else out there.

Next time I will get into the first episode with a deeper review, full of spoilers, but for now, if you watch the show, enjoy the ride because you are in for a fantastic time.

Dreamily yours,

Slick Dungeon

Final Destination 5 – Movie Review

Final Destination 5 2011 Film

Rating: 3 out of 5.

Hey there, horror fans, it’s Slick Dungeon again. I’m back to review the last of the Final Destination franchise films, Final Destination 5.

It doesn’t seem like something with the title Final Destination could have five separate installments but here we are. Be warned this review may contain spoilers for the film.

As is true with all the films in this series, this one opens with a disaster that kills a group of people. This time it’s a bridge collapse where a bunch of people who are on a work retreat are inevitably killed in gory fashion. Also, as always it’s a series of truly unlikely random events that cause the accident. And someone in the group has a vision, warns everyone, and saves them from death.

Sam, the one who had the vision, has to put the pieces together as he and his friends start to die later, in the same order they would have died on the bridge.

Although most of the setup is the same, this one introduces a slight new twist, making it a bit more interesting than the last entry in the franchise. Tony Todd, the actor most famous for Candyman, reprises his role as coroner in this movie. He tells Sam that there is a pattern and it can be changed if one life is exchanged for another. This causes Peter, one of Sam’s friends, to realize if he kills someone, he can extend his own life.

The first two thirds of the movie plays out just like all of these do. But it does set up an interesting confrontation for the end.

However, even with this change, it still feels like this film is just on repeat until the very end. I won’t give away what should be the final twist in the Final Destination franchise but I’ll just say if you have seen the rest, you’ll appreciate it.

Also, like the other films, there is a good bit of gore here so if you don’t have the stomach for that sort of thing this is probably not for you. This one is no worse than any of the rest of them though.

All in all this turned out to be a solid franchise with pretty consistent quality throughout. I’d put these into the bucket of fun popcorn horror to watch sometime with your friends late at night.

If they ever decide to make another I will be terribly disappointed though because it ends in a way that feels inevitable.

Do you have a horror franchise you’d like me to review? If so, let me know in the comments.

Finally yours,

Slick Dungeon

Daemon Rises – Book Review

Daemon Rises by Christopher M. Knight

Note: this review was first posted on Reedsy Discovery, an awesome website that pairs independent authors and readers. To see the post there, click here.

If you are a book reviewer and want to contribute reviews on Reedsy Discovery, click here.

(Note: this post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something through this post I will get a small commission at no extra cost to you)

SUMMARY

BOOK TWO OF THE REMNANT TRILOGY

THE CONSORTIUM IS ADVANCING

Encroaching upon the once-hidden world at the edge of Sol, scouring through thousands of kilometres of the void in search of some long-forgotten threat. It’s a threat that very few know of, that even fewer dare speak of, but it’s an essential piece in the puzzle of probability that the artificial god was designed to solve. What the Thread cannot comprehend, is whether or not that piece will fit.

BASTION IS CHANGING

Evolving, and not just in the fearful preparation that had overcome the isolated civilisation upon the arrival of two strange foreigners. While the Lu’um frantically prepare for a threat that doesn’t seem real, the planet they call home is preparing itself for something even bigger. Something that even the Consortium are not ready for.

THE DAEMON WAITS IN STASIS

A long and silent slumber that hasn’t been broken in centuries. It’s a daemon that slaughtered hundreds, maimed thousands, and carved an entire starship into submission. With its primary function fulfilled, the daemon now sits in dormancy, destined to stay there until the end of time. Unless someone is foolish enough to wake it.

REVIEW

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Following straight on from the events of Bastion Awakens, the second book in the series, Daemon Rises takes us into the heart of battles both physical and philosophical. While many of the characters from the first book have been separated or changed significantly from where they started in the first book, we still are able to check in on them and how they fare in this volume.

In the last book a God carved from ones and zeroes woke. But the deeper truth of what it is might just be even more shocking.

Much like the first book, this one takes a while to get your bearings to understand the larger picture of what is going on but once you do, the payoff is well worth the read.

This is a giant space epic with a huge cast of characters so at times it can be hard to keep everyone straight. It would have been nice if near the beginning of the book there might have been a bit of a summary or recap of events just to refresh readers memories but this is only a minor complaint. As you read through the book the story becomes more and more clear and once again the ending is worth the effort.

At times it did seem there were a few too many space battles and the action is fairly relentless. However, all of the action in the book is fun and entertaining. Just make sure you have time to read because this one is a page turner.

All in all this is a fascinating sequel of an already excellent first volume. Christopher M. Knight is remarkably adept at surprising the reader and making a story with tons of pieces fit together properly.

If you are a fan of space operas, action filled novels, or just flat out good stories, this one is for you.

It remains to be seen if the third volume can live up to the standard of the first two but my guess is that Knight will knock it right out of the park on the whole series.

Bastion Awakens – BookReview (re-post)

HI all, re-posting this as I will be publishing the review for the second volume in the series tomorrow and thought people might like to grab a copy of the brilliant Bastion Awakens before I do so.

Note: this review was first posted on Reedsy Discovery, an awesome website that pairs independent authors and readers. To see the post there click here.

If you are a book reviewer and want to contribute reviews on Reedsy Discovery, click here.

SYNOPSIS

A sovereign empire, the Consortium, defies both science and religion in its race to colonise the Solar System. They carved a God from ones and zeros.
It searches for the Devil.

A hidden planet, Bastion, lies home to a descendant colony of humanity. Its original inhabitants are thought long gone.
But something stirs beneath the surface.

TAREV is a harvester. A moonblood. His life, indebted to the Consortium, entails trudging along the harsh, icy surface of Saturn’s moon, Titan. A life of struggle, harvesting methane for the rest of the Solar System to use, until he and his brother, Sevastian, discover something buried deep within the ice.

Something that will change their lives forever.

ELIA is a Weightless, a gravity wielder, after being injected with the biometal that litters the alien planet on which she lives. She’s also the genetic reprint of an ancient hero, a Catalyst, who paid the ultimate sacrifice over two hundred years ago. Elia struggles to live up to the expectations that come with being a Weightless. She struggles to live normally, while wearing the face of a Catalyst.

She struggles to live, when her planet refuses to die.

REVIEW

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Bastion Awakens is almost two books for the price of one. In one story we follow Tarev, a methane harvester from Titan. His life is not easy and he and his brother Sev do the best they can to make a living. Things seem to be set to improve when they find a huge pocket of methane to mine but they discover something completely unexpected while they are at it. The other story deals with Elia, a so called Weightless from Bastion, a hidden colony that has no contact with the other colonized planets. Elia not only is able to wield and bend gravity to her will, she is also a genetic imprint from an ancient hero, a Catalyst, who died over two hundred years ago. Needless to say, she has huge shoes to fill and is doing the best she can to live up to enormous expectations.

It takes a little while to get your bearings in the book (at least it did for me) but once you see how the stories reflect one another and start to understand the nature of the current state of civilization, the book is utterly gripping. It’s a huge space opera that touches on thematic elements from expectations brought about by ones surroundings, to grief, love, loss and self sacrifice. All this while still having a ton of action and life threatening situations to keep the reader engaged the whole while. And while a reader might wonder what the two stories have to do with one another, by the end, all is made clear, while still leaving questions out there that make one instantly want to read another volume in the saga.

To anyone who loves a good space adventure with intricate complexities and deep human emotions, you have got to read this book. While I am tempted to compare this to something like Dune, in that it takes place in space and there are complex politics happening,this stands in its own right as a unique story. By the end of the book the reader cares deeply about Tarev and Elia and can sympathize with all they have been through, gained and lost. To me this can stand with the best of space fiction and is an absolute must read.

Space Operatically yours,

Slick Dungeon

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Top 5 Space Themed Tabletop Role Playing Games

DriveThruRPG.com

Hi all, Slick Dungeon here. I’m not going to go into a long intro but I am going to give you a couple of caveats and disclaimers. First, I want to mention that although these are all space games, I did not include any Star Wars content. That’s not because those are bad games, it’s because I plan to do a different post about those games at a later date. Second, I don’t have Spelljammer from Dungeons & Dragons here because it is not fully released yet and would not technically be its own role playing game.

Alright, with that out of the way, let’s get into the list!

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5. Traveller

Traveller Core Rulebook

Traveller by Mongoose publishing is one of the first, if not the first, tabletop roleplaying game set in space. It’s been around forever and has a storied history of being played anywhere people love role playing games and want to go out into space to do it. While there is plenty of action and adventure here, it can feel a bit clunkier than some of the others on this list. It’s still one of the greats, however, and well worth playing, especially if you don’t want to play in a known brand like Star Trek or Alien. Because it exists outside of those types of domains you can be a bit more creative about what your campaigns are all about. I find this to be better with people who have at least some role playing experience to begin with but it’s usually a great time.

Get Traveller here for $30: Traveller Core Rulebook.

4. Stars Without Number

Stars Without Number by Kevin Crawford

Kevin Crawford is extremely adept at creating expansive role playing worlds, or in this case planetary systems, and Stars Without Number delivers an amazingly full experience here. It’s set in the far future but was inspired by old school sci-fi adventure. This was written from the ground up and the rule set is quite flexible for any kind of space campaign you may wish to run. The core rulebook gives you options for creating aliens, technology, and making your star systems more interesting. For anyone who loves a true sandbox style campaign this is an excellent system.

You can get the full set of rules for $20 for the PDF here: Stars Without Number

And while I do highly recommend getting the PDF (or even the hardcover book if you are looking to spend a bit more) the great thing is you can get most of the rules for free. Unlike most quickstarts or basic rules you can get for free these are very comprehensive and you could play for years with just the basic free rules.

That’s right, a ton of what you need to play is available for nothing right here: Stars Without Number Free Edition

3. Star Trek Adventures

Star Trek Adventure: The Role Playing Game

It’s nearly impossible to have a list of anything space related without talking about Star Trek. Fortunately for us there is a solid role playing game which allows you to boldly go where no one has gone before. This is what you would expect from a Star Trek game. There is plenty of exploration to be had and a fair amount of conflict. You can play as most of your favorite types of aliens from the core rulebook but there are also expansions that can add to your experience. If you are a Star Trek fan at all, this is a really fun game and Modiphius, the publisher of the series, did a great job of adapting their ruleset to the Star Trek franchise.

You can get the core rulebook PDF for $20 right here: Star Trek Adventures Core Rulebook

2. Dune: Adventures in the Imperium

Dune: Adventures in the Imperium: The Role Playing Game

If you are looking for something a bit more complex than a simple shoot-em-up space cowboy adventure you can’t go wrong with Dune: Adventures in the Imperium: The Role Playing Game. Dune has been adapted into an RPG before and it developed a strong cult following but for my money, I think the more modernized and updated rules from Modiphius in this current version are much more accessible and entertaining. Whatever you think of the books by Frank Herbert or the movies that have been made from those works, this game encompasses all of the greatest aspects of the Dune universe. It is chocked full of political intrigue, backstabbing, factional rivalries, and, of course, giant space worms. This one really does lean into the worlds of Dune so if you are looking to play this game, I do recommend reading at least the first book in the series. But if you are a casual fan who has just seen the movie you’ll still do fine, you just may not get quite as much out of the game. Anyway, this is all to say I really enjoy playing this one and it’s got hours and hours of role playing potential.

You can get the Dune: Adventures in the Imperium Core Rulebook PDF here for $25: Dune: Adventures in the Imperium Core Rulebook

1. Alien the RPG

Alien: The Role Playing Game

There are a lot of different reasons people play role playing games. I’m a fan of a bunch of different games for a bunch of different reasons. My personal tastes do lean a bit toward horror overall but that is not the only reason I have Alien: The Role Playing Game as my top pick. When it comes to sheer, outright fun in a space roleplaying game, I don’t think this one can be beat. While it feels like the universe of the movies, the game has enough variation and enough flexibility that it feels like nearly anything is possible. You won’t just be fighting chest bursters and Xenomorphs. As fun as those things can be, there’s actually a lot more to fight and explore. In fact, if you get the starter set, there isn’t a Xenomorph at all in the scenario they give you. To my mind, it’s better to start small anyway, considering a Xenomorph would be a big boss. And, much like in the best of the films, sometimes the most dangerous things you face are humans. All in all, this is just a fantastic game. Do be warned it does involve body horror (which should be no surprise if you have watched any of the films) and while you can ratchet the horror up or down to suit your party, I think this really is at its best when you can go into full scare/horror mode. If you play this one, you are going to remember it at night as you drift off to sleep, no doubt.

You can get Alien: The Role Playing Game PDF for $25 here: Alien: The Role Playing Game Core Rulebook

Or if you want just a bit of a taste of the game before you dive in, you can find the Alien: The Role Playing Game Starter set PDF here for $20: Alien: The Role Playing Game Starter Set

So, there you have it. Do you have any space faring games you love that I missed on this list? If so let me know in the comments.

And, if you like these types of posts and want more of this type of content, consider purchasing one of the awesome games listed above through this post. It really helps out this blog when you do.

Spacily yours,

Slick Dungeon

The Final Destination – Movie Review

The Final Destination 2009 Film

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Hey film fanatics, Slick Dungeon here! I’m back to review the fourth of the Final Destination films. This was intended to be the last of the Final Destination films (see the irony here where something should end but just keeps coming back??) so they called it The Final Destination instead of Final Destination 4.

If you haven’t watched this, hop in your car and race yourself to the movies so you can get caught up because there will be some spoilers for this film. You’ve been warned.

Still with me? Great. The movie starts out in typical fashion for these films. A group of friends is about to do something. In this case it’s watch a NASCAR race when one of them has a vision of horrible death. Nick O’bannon, played by Bobby Campo has a freak out as he is predicting everything that is about to happen and he and a few other people end up narrowly missing certain death.

For a fourth film in a franchise this movie has some surprisingly recognizable faces. NIck Zano who you probably know from Legends of Tomorrow as Nate plays Hunt, one of Nick’s friends and Shantel VanSanten who you probably know as Becca from The Boys plays Nick O’bannon’s girlfriend Lori. And the security guard from the race track is played by Mykelti Williamson who you most likely know as Bubba from Forest Gump. This one does however lack Tony Todd who any horror fan knows played the extremely memorable title role in Candyman and was in the first two films and a voice in the third.

As usual characters who survived the initial incident start falling off through random accidents one by one. I will say in this one the deaths seem pretty inventive and there are a few times where it was genuinely surprising how the kill happens. And as usual, you do need enough of a stomach to handle some gore to watch this.

The characters find themselves sounding crazy and doing everything they can to try to prevent the impending deaths. This time the death order seems to be linear once again so as long as they can figure out the order of who dies, they can prevent a death. This skips to the next person though so they have to figure out how to stop everyone from getting killed.

The performances here are also a bit less cheesy than in some of the previous films and that helps make it believable. There’s even a moment where it seems like maybe the characters can win but it is turned right on its head.

And, as usual, it does seem like a lot of these deaths would be prevented by safety protocols and general upkeep. If you learn nothing else from these films, always remember, safety first.

Characters are killed off via impaling, dismemberment, and going through car washes.

While I wouldn’t say this is necessarily the best of the series it’s pretty good. And as usual, the real horror here is not at all how the characters die but the unsettling thought that these things could happen to anyone at any time. It’s a really crazy set of circumstances which usually causes the accident but for all of them they could potentially happen. This does elevate the horror a bit because you simply cannot fight inevitable death.

One thing I never get in this series of movies is there will at least one character who just refuses to believe they are next on the death list. This is always after the first character has proven they can see death coming and even possibly saved some people from it, yet they refuse to believe. I mean, why take the chance when someone who already proved they can predict this stuff tells you to get out of there. I’m not overly superstitious but I would leave a movie if someone had saved other people from a terrible death previously.

Anyway, this is a minor detail in an overall decent horror franchise and if you’ve gone this far with these movies you might as well continue. If you want to see something with a bit of gore and several interesting ways to die, this is worth watching as the franchise consistently delivers a decent, fun ride.

Marvel 616 Review – The Incredible Hulk #6

The Incredible Hulk Issue 6 Photo Credit: Marvel

Marvel 616 has a great history of introducing amazing and powerful super villains. Spider-man has the best rogues gallery outside of Batman comics with memorable menaces like Dr. Octopus, Kraven the Hunter, and the Vulture. The Hulk on the other hand, one of the most powerful beings in all of Marvel, has hardly any enemies worth remembering. However, there are occasions when we can see some experimentation with villains right in Hulk’s pages.

In The Incredible Hulk issue 6 we see what can only be considered a first pass at what Magneto will be in the pages of the X-Men comics down the line. Make no mistake, this “Metal Master” is no where near as interesting as Magneto but it is a first crack at an enemy who can bend metal to his will.

The issue starts (as so many Hulk stories do) with a missile test. General Thunderbolt Ross is waiting on Bruce Banner so he can test his newest rocket. Banner is already 15 minutes late and Ross is none too happy about it. Betty Ross worries something might have happened while Rick Jones realizes Banner’s had enough time to change back from being the Hulk.

Betty worries Hulk has taken Banner. Rick wishes he could let her know his secret but he knows how upset that would make Bruce.

When we see Hulk, he wants to get into his secret lab to change back but there’s a whole infantry of troops doing practice maneuvers there. He’s aware if he’s seen, the secret location of his lab will be exposed. However, it seems it’s also becoming harder for Hulk to go back to being Banner at all. If he doesn’t change he might be stuck in the form of the green monster.

He’s saved from having to fight the troops when the emergency alert from the base sounds and the soldiers all scramble back. Hulk is then able to use the machine to turn himself back into Banner but before he does it he says, “I hate havin’ to become that weakling Banner all the time!” I find this interesting because Hulk has most of the brain function of Bruce Banner at this point (he can speak in full sentences and make logical decisions so he’s not just a rage machine) yet he clearly sees himself as two distinct people. This further establishes the multiple personalities Bruce Banner will come to have. While this is pretty much a direct comparison to The Strange Case ofDr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde right now, it becomes much more complicated in the future.

In addition, changing from one form to the other seems to become more painful for both of them as time goes on. Oddly, this time when Bruce changes he retains a bit of Hulk’s strength so they are sort of merging together a bit at this point.

After the change is complete and Bruce loses all the strength of the Hulk he checks in on the base through a video monitor and sees Ross and Betty in major distress. He sees the test rocket he invented completely melted. In the narration of the panel we see this it says, “Bewildered, the trembling viewer switches on the sound portion of his amazing set, and hears…” I point this out because it’s a reminder cameras were not common, and color cameras with sound were exceedingly rare at best, in the 1960’s. In other words, Marvel could sometimes be predictive about the future, much the same way Star Trek predicted automatic doors.

We get our first glimpse of the Metal Master, an imposing figure with yellow skin and a strange red outfit who hails from the planet Astra. Basically, Hulk fights two kinds of enemies in most of his books, either aliens or communists. Or sometimes aliens who sympathize with communists. Don’t hold your breath waiting for something better because it takes a while for Hulk to get past this.

Anyway, The Metal Master demonstrates some of his powers while telling everyone how most people on his planet are artists but he was deemed a criminal because he wanted to use his mental control over all metal to conquer. Ever since, this dude has been on the lookout for a planet with plenty of metal resources. He comes across Earth and the lightbulb goes off.

Despite having just destroyed a weapon and demonstrated his powers Ross just says, “Someone grab him! He’s nutty as a fruit cake!” You would have thought the military would have already opened fire on this guy but this is a kids comic and they needed Hulk to fight the guy. Plus, bullets wouldn’t be that effective considering there is metal in them.

The Metal Master melts some guns and helmets and then goes big time by melting a whole tank. One of the soldiers realizes this guy is, “the single most powerful force on Earth!” Of course that soldier must not have met Thor, or the Hulk if he thinks that.

Next, the villain traps Ross and company in a cage of his own making. He demands control of the base and subsequently of the planet within 24 hours. The Metal Master leaves using a steel plate as a flying platform (a move Magneto will definitely use in the future). They try to stop him with rockets but those are also made of metal so it doesn’t work.

Rick Jones realizes the only hope for humanity is the Hulk. Bruce is already changing when Rick gets to the secret lab. But for some reason, this time Bruce’s face doesn’t change. Luckily Banner made some plaster cast molds of Hulk’s face so he throws one on. (Don’t ask me how he got Hulk to sit still long enough to do that)

Hulk goes into action saying, “I can’t fly like a blasted Human Torch–but these muscles ain’t just for show!” He leaps into the air and lands right where the Metal Master is.

They have a pretty typical fight where the villain is throwing stuff at Hulk and Hulk is jut breaking it. That is until Metal Master offers to team up with the Hulk. Hulk considers it for a moment, realizing the human race has been hounding him forever and isn’t going to stop. He decides not to team up with Metal Master, not because he likes humans but because he figures the Hulk doesn’t need any help from anyone. While Hulk is ranting, Metal Master knocks him out.

A few minutes later a group of soldiers find Hulk and realize he has a mask on. They take it off to reveal… the same face as the mask. Banner’s secret is still safe. The soldiers manage to catch Hulk and put him in a special stone building made to hold the creature.

Betty is still worried about Bruce but Rick Jones realizes Hulk is the only chance against Metal Master. Rick goes to talk to the Hulk but the Hulk blames Rick for the soldiers taking off the mask. Hulk really starts to display some rage at both Rick and all of humanity here. This upsets Rick so much he asks about enlisting. Ross won’t let him though because he is only 16.

Meanwhile Metal Master goes on a rampage throughout the world destroying a bunch of metal stuff like oil rigs and bridges.

We check back in on Rick who is shown a ham radio by his friends. He then has the idea to form a club called The Teen Brigade who will keep in radio contact to help out the army, the police, and basically any good guys who could use a hand. I know it sounds cheesy but the formation of this group is actually important in the history of Marvel 616 and gives a bit more of a voice to the teenage audience.

Of course, Hulk busts out of his inescapable prison. Ross and Betty are talking and Betty realizes she cares pretty deeply from Bruce. They still haven’t found him so it’s upsetting her. Ross gets the news of Hulk escaping and Betty thinks Hulk has captured Banner.

Hulk goes back to the secret lab and changes back to Banner. This leaves him exceptionally weak this time but luckily Rick happens along. Bruce tells Rick he has a way to stop Metal Master but he needs help. Rick gets his teen brigade on the case.

While they gather supplies, Bruce recovers enough to turn back into the Hulk.

As this is happening Metal Master is stopping missiles and aircraft from all kinds of nations that are attacking him. When he destroys a group of airplanes he pulls a pretty odd move saying, “By merely melting the engine section of each plane, I permit the helpless pilots to bail out and float to safety!” Strange move for a guy trying to rule a planet but I guess he has a conscience? He says what he wants is for every living thing to serve him but I’m not buying that. The real reason is comics codes were fairly strict back then and you couldn’t actually show anyone in uniform (police, military, etc.) being killed or defeated. For that reason there were a lot of strange workarounds during what would likely be armed battle.

Hulk and Rick put together the device Banner cooked up while the rest of the Teen Brigade wait outside. The Brigade spots Metal Master heading to Washington. D.C. and the setup for the final battle begins as Hulk heads there. Hulk is armed with what looks like a huge gun. Metal Master tries to break it with his powers but nothing happens. The antagonizes the Metal Master and he gets closer to the Hulk.

Ross and Betty are still trying to find Bruce but obviously with no luck. Ross gets word of the showdown in D.C. and heads over there.

Hulk gets close enough to the villain to grab Metal Master and pretty much tells him he can get pounded by his fists or clean up everything he destroyed. Metal Master gets on his ship and heads off Earth.

Of course, the gun was just a decoy and not made of metal which is what tricked Metal Master. Hulk has moment where he actually gives credit to the Teen Brigade, proving Hulk doesn’t hate all humans. But the army moves in.

Hulk leaps off with Rick before anything can happen. The Teen Brigade tell Ross how Hulk saved humanity. That’s not likely to sway Ross but it’s some food for thought for him.

Hulk tries to use the machine to change back but he stays in Hulk form. He realizes the machine may have been used too much and now knows he is stuck in a form that will be relentlessly hunted by humans.

Betty is determined to find Bruce but still is having no luck. Hulk gets word he is getting a pardon because he saved the world. He’s unhappy because it’s not enough and he starts smashing stuff. And he suddenly changes back to Bruce Banner.

Bruce goes to see Betty but her father answers the door. Ross is enraged Hulk got a pardon and demands to know where Bruce has been. He says he felt under the weather so took a few days off in Bermuda. (Great excuse, definitely use that next time you miss a day of work)

Betty is overjoyed at seeing Bruce but Ross still thinks Bruce is a “milksop.” Betty knows there is some connection between Hulk and Bruce but he says he cares about her too much to tell her everything. Bruce hopes Hulk is gone for good but we all know that’s not the case.

After this issue Hulk loses his own title for a while and shares the pages of Tales to Astonish with Ant-Man for a while. But this is by no means the end of Hulk and his stories.

Next up in the reading order we’ll be introduced to a new hero, one who has his very own suit of iron, in Tales of Suspense #39!

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Final Destination 3 – Movie Review

Final Destination 3 2006 Film

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

It’s time for the inevitable yet again! It’s me, Slick Dungeon, back to review the next film in the Final Destination franchise. This is the film series where the only murderer is death itself. And eventually we’re all going to lose that contest. So if you haven’t seen this movie yet, get off that rollercoaster before it takes off because there may be spoilers to smack you in the face below.

Still here? Okay, let’s get into it. The first two films in this franchise centered heavily around the tragic crash of flight 180 to Paris where a group of people got off the plane because one of the passengers had a premonition before the plane took off. While the second film was less closely tied to the first one, there was a definite and rather interesting connection for all the characters.

This film starts six years after the original crash. The group of high school students in this film are not even tangentially related to the events of the first but they still experience an incident. Kim who is seen as a control freak among her friends has a vision of a gruesome and fiery death on a roller coaster. She gets off the ride after a bit of a freak out and a few of her friends do so as well, either willingly, or for other reasons. Kim’s boyfriend Jason stays and meets his inevitable fate along with a few other students.

Unlike the last two films, the deaths of Kim’s friends seems to really bother and stay with her and other students at the school. This does make the deaths feel a little more meaningful even if they are still shockingly bloody.

Like the first two there are smash cuts and jump scares virtually guaranteed to make you jump out of your seat. The group has to figure out how to outrun death. This is no easy task and as in the other films it doesn’t seem like anyone but death will win in the end.

There are a few clever twists and turns and the actors seem to be more committed to the story in this one but by the third time this is feeling like old hat. While the setup and payoff is rather familiar, the deaths in this film are even more inventive and bloody than the first two, and that’s saying something.

It’s still a fun ride (pun very much intended) and if you’re a horror fan this is worth a watch. Just maybe don’t get on any roller coasters afterwards.

Inevitably yours,

Slick Dungeon

Marvel 616 Review – Journey Into Mystery #90

Journey Into Mystery Issue 90 Photo Credit: Marvel

While The Fantastic Four have been busy meeting The Hulk, Thor continues to face off against everything from communists to Loki to space aliens. The 90th issue of Journey Into Mystery once again presents an alien foe to the god of thunder.

This time Thor ends up fighting a race of aliens called The Xartans. These are aliens who are able to copy themselves into anything they see. Thus the title of The Carbon Copy Man (although there are actually several Xartans so the name doesn’t exactly hold up.)

Before the fight begins, Dr. Blake is just on the verge of telling his love interest Jane Foster that he is secretly Thor. Before this happens, Odin comes to Blake in a vision and warns him against doing so. Dr. Blake continues to look like a coward to Jane and she, of course, is thinking about her hero, Thor.

Soon, Dr. Blake is encountering people in town he knows doing strange things. New laws have passed saying cars should drive on sidewalks, billboards should go over office windows instead of where they belong, and worst of all, if people are sick but can’t pay to see a doctor they should be kicked out of the hospital. (That last one can be uncomfortably close to the truth and it’s interesting it appears here but I digress)

Dr. Blake is, of course, none too happy about any of this. He decides to investigate and ask the Mayor, who he appears to be friends with, although there has been no real mention of him before. The Mayor also seems happy with these odd changes.

Blake changes to Thor and tries to find out what is happening when he is trapped by a huge electromagnet. This separates him from his hammer and Thor turns back into Blake. This is probably good since all the actual people are in a spaceship operated by the Xartans. Blake tells the Xartans they are no match for Thor and so they should destroy him to take over the planet unimpeded. Jane’s not very impressed with this.

It does give Blake the chance to pick up his hammer and become Thor once again, however. There’s a fight with two of the Xartans using different methods to try to beat Thor but, of course, our hero wins in the end.

At the end of the story Thor tells the Xartans they have to change into trees. They do it, thinking they will be able to change back whenever they want. Thor may have outsmarted them because he figures trees don’t think so neither can the Xartans when they are in tree form.

This is reminiscent of how Reed Richards gets the Skrulls to turn into cows. Neither change is permanent and I’m sure we’ll see more of the Xartans in the future.

Overall, this story is fairly forgettable, other than the fact Odin really doesn’t want Blake to spill the beans to Jane Foster.

Next up on our reading list we’ll be catching up with the big green guy once again in The Incredible Hulk #6!

Final Destination 2 – Movie Review

Final Destination 2 2003 Film

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Hello internet! It’s me, Slick Dungeon. I’m back to review another movie about the inevitability of death, Final Destination 2. If you haven’t watched this before, buckle your seatbelts and strap in and watch it first because there may be spoilers in this review.

On the surface, it seems really silly to have something called Final Destination have a sequel. After all, wouldn’t final imply it’s the last? But the sequel does work and it actually connects fairly well to the first.

In the second film, we start off with something way more likely than death by plane crash. Instead, it’s death by car accident. Kim and her friends are about to drive out of town for a fun little getaway. She sees a huge, if somewhat unlikely, series of events resulting in a major traffic accident where she and a bunch of other people die. When she snaps to, she takes action and blocks traffic. Kim and several other people are spared death. Unfortunately her friends end up dead anyway.

Kim has heard about the events of flight 180 and the freakish deaths afterward and realizes she’s just experienced something similar. Clear, played by Ali Larter in the first film is still alive so Kim goes to see if she can be any help.

For the rest of the movie characters are trying, and mostly failing, to avoid their own inevitable deaths one by one.

I think the interesting twist in this one is how each character is somehow connected to the passengers who survived Flight 180. They come up with some rules for how to defeat death although, I’m not sure those rules really make much sense.

There are points where a lot of the characters simply ignore things they shouldn’t or take unreasonable actions. But, Kim and Clear for the majority of the film play it smart and Kim has the best idea of them all. I won’t spoil that here but her method does seem reasonable to defeat death in my opinion.

It’s a clever sequel and it once again has Tony Todd adding in an extra layer of creepy in the way only he (and maybe someone like Boris Karloff) can. If you liked the first film, this is not a bad follow up and I do recommend it. It’s just not quite as clever as the first, although I do think overall it is better acted.

Inevitably yours,

Slick Dungeon

Final Destination – Movie Review

Final Destination 2000 Film

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Hey film fanatics, Slick Dungeon here! I’m back to review another horror film. This time I went with the movie that cuts out the middle man, Final Destination. So, before the flight that is this review takes off, make sure you’ve already watched the film because there will be some spoilers.

Still with me? Okay great. Final Destination is a horror/thriller film about a group of teenagers who narrowly escape death when they get off of a flight right before it explodes. While most horror films have a bad guy going around offing the characters in one way or another, this one completely cuts out the middle man. There is no creepy stalker with a knife, there is no nightmarish figure haunting your dreams, there is not even a mythical vampire trying to suck your blood in this film. Instead, the bad guy is the inevitability of death. As far as villains go, this one is pretty unbeatable.

The story centers around Alex, Clear and a few other random people who were about to board a flight to France for a school outing. Just before the flight takes off, Alex has a terrible vision of the plane exploding and killing everyone on it. He has a bit of a freak out and makes for the exit. A few other people follow and/or are kicked off the flight along with Alex.

While most of the people who got off the flight seem to think Alex is off his rocker, the plane does explode. Great, everyone is saved right? Wrong! Not long after, one of Alex’s friends is killed. The audience can see it happen and it’s no accident. However, it looks an awful lot like a suicide. Alex figures out this is the inevitable death of all of those spared from the fiery death on the plane.

The rest of the film is spent figuring out who will go next, how to avoid death and how to make seem like Alex is not a crazed killer.

While not all of the effects are perfect in this film, and the acting is only average for the most part (Ali Larter excepted) this movie really does leave you with an unsettling feeling. If you are averse to flying I don’t recommend watching this at all because it’s just going to increase your fear.

The movie has few smash and jump cuts likely to make anyone jump and there is definitely a bit of gore but it’s not over the top.

If you are in the mood for a spooky thriller/horror film you’ll keep thinking about long after it is over, this is the movie for you.

Inevitably yours,

Slick Dungeon

Marvel 616 Review – Fantastic Four #12

The Fantastic Four Issue 12 Photo Credit: Marvel

In all of comic book history there is one type of event which sells more issues than any other. The crossover issue. This is an issue where characters guest star in pages of one another’s books. A lot of times this is to team up and destroy some great evil. Other times there are heroes who are good at heart but have a slightly different view of the world and they end up butting heads. Nobody pulled the latter type of crossover off better than Stan Lee.

From the first moments when we knew there was The Thing and The Hulk fans wondered which character was stronger. The eagerness to see the answer to that only increases whenever Ben Grimm brags he could knock out The Hulk any day of the week. Hulk hasn’t specifically called out The Thing in his book before but we as the readers already know Hulk has destroyed a ton of seemingly indestructible things (pun intended).

The cover of issue 12 promises a “book-length epic” and we can tell from the beginning this is going to be a big deal.

The issue starts off with Ben Grimm on a date with his girlfriend at the symphony. He’s in his usual disguise of a trench coat, fedora, and sunglasses. It’s not a great disguise but I guess it works well enough. On the way out, they see a company of infantrymen. A man next to Thing knocks his hat off and Ben, in a fit of anger, lifts the man up with one hand. The soldiers see this and think they’ve just caught a glimpse of the Hulk. They try out a few gadgets to restrain Ben, including a snap cable contraption that wraps around him, and a gas grenade. None of it is effective for long. The gas does slow Ben down, however. The soldiers explain the situation but Ben is even more insulted they think he’s the Hulk and says, “You tryin to tell me you thought that brainless lump of lard was me?!! Of all the crummy…” So, yeah Ben’s in prime fighting mood by this point.

Ben Grimm drops Alicia off and heads back to the Baxter building. He can’t find his electronic beam to open the elevator so he just rips off the door and climbs thirty-five floors up the cable. Ben relates the story to Reed Richards and the gang. He says, “Next they’ll be takin’ me for Frankenstein!” This quip actually works on multiple levels because Frankenstein’s monster is exactly what Stan Lee based Hulk off of in the first place.

Coincidentally, the Fantastic Four had just received a call from General Thunderbolt Ross who wants to talk to Reed about The Hulk. Ben is skeptical of Ross and isn’t even sure if there really is a Hulk since he’d never seen him in person. Ross comes in and apologizes to Ben, explaining the only way to recognize the Hulk is by his superhuman strength. (I guess the green/sometimes gray skin is not enough of a tip off.)

Ben immediately states he can make mincemeat of The Hulk. Ross shows everyone a picture of the Hulk and lets the team know a missile installation in the desert has been sabotaged. Ross assumes it had to have been Hulk. Ross asks the FF to find and destroy the Hulk.

Ross then shows them some film footage of Hulk destroying a cannon. This frightens Sue Storm enough that she accidentally turns invisible. Weirdly, Ben seems kind of insulted Sue thinks Hulk is more terrifying than he is.

We’re next treated to some panels where Ben imagines ways he would beat Hulk. Johnny Storm does the same thing. Even Reed thinks of defeating Hulk by surprising the monster and smothering him. Sue thinks all she can do is go along for the ride, unsure how she might help.

In a panel that just shows how dismissive men were of women at the time, General Ross states, “A pretty young lady can always be of help–just by keeping the men’s morale up!” Reed agrees by saying, “That’s just the way we feel about Sue, General!” Keep in mind, out of all of these characters, the only one with a real shot of stopping the Hulk would be Sue Storm. She would just need to send a tiny force bubble of air into his bloodstream and no more Hulk. Plus she is the only one who could actually use the element of surprise against him.

Reed then shows off the fantasti-car to Ross. It’s got a new and more futuristic design thanks to Johnny’s tinkering. They hop in the car and head to the desert to try to find the Hulk. Ross shows them some debris he says the Hulk crushed.

The real crossover starts to happen when Reed Richards is taken to a meeting where Dr. Bruce Banner and Rick Jones are both present. Also there is an assistant to Banner named Dr. Karl Kort. Banner insists all the equipment was destroyed from the inside out and that a rampaging Hulk would have torn the device from the outside in.

Reed and Bruce do have a strong mutual respect and have ready one another’s work. Kort leaves the meeting early and is pretty freaked out by The Thing. Ben gets too bored waiting and barges in on the meeting. There’s a tussle to get control of the meeting again and Ross rages at the FF. The only person to defend them is Bruce Banner. Ross then insults Ben Grimm in the worst way possible saying, “Looks to me like you’re afraid of The Hulk!”

Banner offers his help to the FF to find “The Wrecker”. Banner and Rick say it’s a saboteur doing the damage. Ross pretty much just fumes the whole time. Banner finds himself wishing he could tell them why he’s so sure Hulk is innocent.

Back at Banner’s hideout he shows Rick a model of the device that was wrecked. Turns out it was supposed to make any city completely invulnerable to enemy missiles. In a sort of random series of events, Rick Jones ends up with Karl Kort’s wallet and sees a membership card to a “subversive communist-front organization!” Kort sees Rick though and pulls a gun on him.

This leads into the fourth part of the story, appropriately titled “The Hulk at last!”

Reed and his team have been fixing up army equipment in the form of some kind of rocket powered sled. Thing is easily able to withstand the g-forces as he pilots it for the first time. There’s a bend in the rails of the track for the sled and Ben goes flying but Johnny and Reed save the day. The army blames Ben even though it was clearly sabotaged.

Bruce Banner rushes to the FF to ask for help since he can’t find Rick Jones. He doesn’t tell them why he’s sure it isn’t The Hulk though and this leaves the team suspicious of Banner. Bruce decides to transform to the Hulk so he can save Rick.

There are underground tunnels Hulk, the FF and Kort all converge in. Hulk thinks he needs to fight the FF to get them to leave the area. This was Kort’s demand in order to release Rick. And at long last we get to see The Hulk face to face with The Thing.

Hulk gets in the first punch, knocking Ben to the ground. But Ben is hard enough to hurt Hulk’s hand. The Human Torch is up next but Hulk buries him in sand, thus dousing Johnny’s flames. Hulk punches his way up out of the tunnels and buries Ben and Johnny underneath him.

Yet the Hulk is not aware of just how good Reed Richards is at finding the smallest crack to stretch through to get out of a trap. Reed wraps his arms around the Hulk. Hulk breaks free but so do Johnny and Ben. Hulk throws a wooden frame house from an old west ghost town at the team. This doesn’t stop them at all. Hulk next tries to separate them. He’s about to power dive Thing when he gets wrapped up by Reed. Hulk spins his way out of it. But Johnny is right there flying at the Hulk. Hulk gives one of his thunderclaps which causes a sonic boom strong enough to knock down three out of the four of the FF. Thing socks Hulk right on the jaw and this time its Hulk who is knocked back.

Just as we’re about to find out who wins the fight Hulk is hit with some kind of atomic ray. Ben is really mad he didn’t get to finish his fight and seconds later is confronted with a giant robot. Ben realizes this is The Wrecker’s machine and he finds the door to the guy’s lab. Ben smashes the door in to find Karl Kort. By now, everyone has realized it wasn’t Hulk who did the destruction earlier.

Just as Kort is about to hit Ben with the same ray he hit Hulk with, Sue knocks the ray out of Kort’s hands.

The bad guy is captured. Hulk realizes he doesn’t need to fight The Thing and might be too weak to do it anyway and goes back to change into Bruce Banner once more.

Ross holds a little ceremony for the FF and Reed and Bruce say they would like to meet again. The end of the issue asks, “Will the Hulk again meet the Fantastic Four??” I think we all know the answer to that.

This was a fairly major issue for the 616 universe. It was test to see if there was enough appeal to have characters regularly cross over to other books. The formula must have been successful enough considering it’s still done all the time.

Next up on the reading list we’re checking in on one of the few people who might be able to beat both Hulk and Thing in a fight, the god of thunder, Thor, himself in Journey Into Mystery #90!

Nobody Sleeps in the Woods Tonight – Movie Review

Nobody Sleeps in the Woods Tonight 2020 Film

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Hello horror fans, it’s me, Slick Dungeon! If you’ve ever seen a slasher horror film you know the title of the film I am about to review is good advice. Nobody Sleeps in the Woods Tonight is a camper/slasher from Poland in the storied traditions of movies like Halloween and Friday the 13th. Be warned there will be some spoilers in this review so be warned before you read.

After a small intro scene from the past, the movie starts like most slashers. We have a group of campers out in the woods and the audience is pretty sure not all of these people are going to make it through the night. The people camping are here due to some problem or other they’ve had with technology. This is a sleep away camp where cell phones and other electronic devices are not allowed. The point is for them to get away from technology.

This is especially bad when there is a killer on the loose. While no one at the camp seems to know this is the case, there are some rumors of bad things that happened way back around World War II. We get to know the campers a little, most of them are not really surprising stereotypes. There’s a jock, a kid who is an online gamer, one who’s addicted to social media for the fame and influencers on there etc.

It’s not too far into the film we get the first real hint of something bad out in the woods. And soon students go missing. The audience knows what happened because we get to see the death before the other characters find the body. The film progresses like most of these where one by one people get picked off.

But, there is enough originality here to make this one stand out. While the film leans into the horror tropes, it does a decent job of twisting them just enough at the right moments to make it fairly disturbing. While not everyone is going to be impressed with the makeup and the look of the killer you can’t deny it’s an original take, even if it is a bit mashed up with other types of horror.

There are enough characters we come to care about for this to be worth watching if you want a pretty enjoyable horror film that’s never quite breaking entirely new ground. I may be a little biased because my favorite type of horror is films like these but I found it pretty entertaining overall and it’s nice to see a horror film that’s not American give it a go.

If you like stuff like Friday the 13th, the Fear Street films or any movie about campers who are in danger from lethal killers, this will be right up your alley.

Slashingly yours,

Slick Dungeon

Flash Fiction Friday – Distracted Driving

Happy Friday internet people! It’s been a few weeks since I posted one of these. Hope you like it and let me know what you think in the comments!

Distracted Driving – By Adam Wright

Kevin’s pickup truck rattled down the highway. The black asphalt and white stripes on the road whizzed by in front of his eyes in a rhythmic pattern. He stretched his arm across the passenger seat and let out a yawn as he stretched.

He was singing along to some eighties song he’d heard a million times before. The name escaped him. Something about a movie he’d never watched. A glance at the clock told him it was near midnight. Another hour on the road would get him home. All he had to do was stay awake. 

A sip of coffee might be nice but then he’d need to pull over to pee. No way he’d be able to bring himself to keep driving after. Better to hold it.

His eyes were getting heavy when he saw a flash of white in front of his eyes. It was a barefoot woman in a white dress. She was beautiful with raven hair draped down her shoulders. She was in the middle of the road but when Kevin’s headlights shone at her they seemed to go through her, as if she wasn’t there at all.

Slowing the truck to a crawl, he wiped his eyes and opened them again. There was nothing there. Kevin convinced himself he was just seeing things when a voice rang out next to him.

“Jesus, Deep Blue Something? That band was old when I was still alive. Update your taste.” 

Kevin turned to see the woman from the road in his passenger seat. He yanked his arm back and opened his mouth. 

“Don’t scream. I’m so damn tired of screaming. Just get used to it. I don’t want to be here any more than you want me to.”

“You’re a…?”

“You’re driving late at night in an old truck on an open road. What did you expect? Yes, I’m a ghost. Happy now? Do you have a cell phone?”

Kevin tried to talk but a squeak came out.

“It’s not a complicated question. I know your truck looks like it’s from the 80’s but people don’t operate without cell phones anymore. I’m hoping to catch up on the news a little. Maybe watch some Tik-Tok videos. Where is it?”

Kevin pointed to the glove box.

“Can you take it out? I’m not solid anymore. Just start up whatever your favorite social media is. I’ll take anything. Hell, even if it’s NPR. Just hit play on something for me.”

“Uh… are you trying to haunt me? Did I do something to you?”

“Nope. Not trying to haunt anyone. Anytime one of these rickety old ass trucks show up out of nowhere, BOOM, I’m in it.”

Kevin jumped at the sound of the word BOOM.

“Don’t be so jumpy. I’m harmless, promise. I’m just bored as hell. The phone, can you?”

“Why are you here?” Kevin was twenty four years old but his voice cracked as he spoke as if he was fifteen.

“Do you want the long story or the short one? Short one’s easier.”

Kevin watched as a car drove towards his truck, the headlights flashing in his eyes for a brief moment.

“Uh.. short one?”

“I died, hoped to get revenge against my boyfriend. It didn’t work out. Now I’m here. Like, forever I guess.”

Kevin stared at the open road. He didn’t make a move toward the glove box.

“Fine, you want the long version. You’ve heard of the asphalt strangler? Yeah, turns out that asshole was my boyfriend. I had no idea. I found some gritty evidence in his truck one day and, well, you can guess what a dude called the asphalt strangler did to me. I swore with my dying breath I’d get revenge on him and next thing you know, I’m on this highway looking for trucks. Can’t help it.”

“But didn’t…”

“Yeah, that’s the part that didn’t work out. The asphalt strangler died of a goddamned heart attack. Can’t get revenge on a guy who is already dead and in hell can you? You’d think that would be the end for me but, oh no, here I am, night after night in random trucks with random dudes. Most of them are poor conversationalists too. Not like you though. I like you.”

“Thanks?”

“Seriously dude, the phone, like now.”

Kevin kept one eye on the road as he pulled the phone from the glove box. He looked away for the briefest of seconds. 

The world moved in slow motion as another truck slammed into the driver side door. Kevin felt himself tumbling, and saw his phone fly into the air.

“This is your fault, I’ll get you for this,” he spat the words at the woman in white.

The world went black.

Kevin opened his eyes. He was seated in a pickup truck, not unlike his own. There was a woman dressed in white next to him.

“What happened?”

“You wished for revenge. Welcome to the party.” The woman in white turned to the driver. “Do you have a cell phone?”

Book Review – Lightblade

Lightblade Book 1 by Zamil Akhtar

Note: This review was made possible by an advanced copy provided by the author Zamil Akhtar. Check out all of his books, including Lightblade and an incredible cosmic horror series called Gunmetal Gods here.

SUMMARY

In three days, Jyosh will slay the God Emperor, or die trying.

But first he must train his lightblade skills. While asleep. Each hour of sleep equals a day in a lucid dream, plenty of time to master the essential lightblade techniques and hopefully get skilled enough to defeat the monster who enslaved him and beheaded his parents and sister.

When Jyosh awakens to learn that the God Emperor has surrendered to an even crueler foe, a mysterious lightblade master who can summon divine dragons to burn whole cities, he’ll face a trial by fire against forces far more frightening than he could ever dream.

That is, if he’s not still in one.

Star Wars meets The Matrix in this progression fantasy adventure inspired by Indian and Persian mythology, featuring dragon gods, energy sword duels, ancient floating cities, and shared dream exploration.

REVIEW

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Lightblade, the latest book from author Zamil Akhtar makes me wonder if there is anything this author cannot pull off. I’ve read all of his cosmic horror books and found them thrilling and fascinating. I was excited when I heard he was going to attempt a progression fantasy but wasn’t quite sure if the story would live up to my expectations.

I’m happy to say, the book surpassed all expectations I had and kept me constantly turning pages, immersing myself in this incredibly colorful and vibrant world.

Jyosh is a laborer at a camp where he spends his days using the green light in his world to create machine parts for an emperor who he has vowed to kill. Unfortunately for Jyosh, he has no combat training, and doesn’t possess a red crystal which would allow him to create a lightblade, an energy weapon which may have a chance at destroying the emperor.

What Jyosh does have is a modified dream crystal which will allow him to train in his sleep. In this world an hour of sleep is equal to a day in the dream. This may just be enough time for Jyosh to hone his skills and seek his revenge. But, there is something different about this training program.

Jyosh is going to have to figure out what he needs to do to survive and figure out what is dream and what is reality or he may lose everything he holds dear.

While the author makes the comparison here to Star Wars meets the Matrix, and that is certainly true, I was most reminded of Inception with this book. There are also fantastic creatures, some amazing illustrations, and tons of action.

If you like futuristic fantasy with elements of Indian and Persian mythology, you. are going to absolutely love this book.

Book Review – Doctor Glass

Doctor Glass by Louise Worthington

Note: This review was made possible by TCK Publishing who kindly granted me a review copy. Find out more about all their books by clicking on their website: https://www.tckpublishing.com/

To get your copy of Doctor Glass click on the Kindle preview above or click the link here: Doctor Glass: A Psychological Thriller Novel

To read more of Louise Worthington’s books check out her website: https://louiseworthington.co.uk/

SUMMARY

Psychotherapist Emma-Jane Glass has prioritized work over leisure for far too long. She does whatever it takes to help her clients, and it’s bordering on professional obsession. When she publishes a controversial article about unstable mothers murdering their children, an anonymous letter arrives on her doorstep:

I will expose you.
Then, I will mutilate you…
Wait for me.


After she is abducted into the night, Doctor Glass finds herself at the mercy of a dangerous sociopath. But being a relentless doctor of the mind, she feels an urge to help her fragile captor, even if it might shatter her sanity—and her life. It becomes a game of survival, and only one mind can win.

REVIEW

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Emma-Jane Glass is a therapist who is not afraid of taking on controversial positions and challenging patients. She has a small practice where she does her best to treat patients with kindness, empathy, and understanding. She will also go the extra mile to help those in need whenever she can. Not everyone in the community appreciates her views on unstable mothers who murder their own children. After she writes an article on the subject she unknowingly puts herself in danger.

Doctor Glass is an intelligent, empathetic, and caring clinician. When she starts receiving threatening notes and letters she will need to use all of her professional skill to understand who might be threatening her and why.

Lucy, the nutritionist and longtime friend of Emma-Jane who has an office next to the psychologist has her own patients and circumstances to deal with. But when Emma-Jane seems to go missing, it is up to Lucy to see if she can find out what happened.

The book is part thriller, part mystery, and part exercise in human understanding. The beginning of the book ratchets up the intensity immediately. While parts of the story waver, for the most part this is a page-turner.

Emma-Jane Glass is a fascinating character in not only how she deals with others but how she deals with her own traumatic experiences. There were times in the story where it seemed like some more sensible choices could have been made but overall it’s a believable story with a lot of intense emotion.

There is a side story involving Lucy which some readers may not enjoy but it does contrast nicely with what Emma-Jane is going through with her own patients.

If you like tightly wound psychological thrillers where the protagonist has to user their own wits and experience to get out of serious trouble, you’ll enjoy this book.

The first installment of The Glass Minds series has strong potential to carry the story forward and become a reliable read for enjoyable psychological suspense thrillers and I look forward to reading more in the series.

Marvel 616 Review – Strange Tales #107

Strange Tales Issue 107 Photo Credit: Marvel

Here we have one of the first grudge matches of the Marvel 616 universe. On the cover you can see it is Namor vs. Johnny Storm, an epic match up of fire against water. This type of story will become a regular staple of Marvel comics but this one does have some unique features.

The issue starts with Johnny Storm coming home from school to see the rest of the team has had a meeting without him. This is definitely a boys club because Reed remarks how they were working on the notes for their next Fantastic Four adventure and, “Sue was nice enough to type them up for us!” It’s a little ridiculous that Sue Storm has one of the strongest powers in all of Marvel with her ability to become invisible and create force fields but she’s seen as what amounts to as a secretary even by her own team.

Anyway the team, especially The Thing, kind of antagonizes Johnny, reminding him of quitting the team in the last issue. Johnny then decides he’s tired of being treated like a kid and decides to set his sights on winning a fight with a foe single handed. His idea is to go after Namor all alone and beat the Sub-mariner.

He shoots out of his apartment and flies to the sea. His flame dies out and he has to land on a boat. He tells everyone on board who he is but they all think he’s just some stowaway. After the waters get foggy, Johnny is able to light the way for the boat and the sailors realize their mistake.

Johnny sky writes a challenge to Namor just above the surface of the water and Namor gets it. He’s none too happy with Johnny. The pair duke it out going back and forth as to who looks like they might win. Namor uses the power of a puffer fish to save himself at one point, while Johnny goes supernova underwater with his flames. Namor is able to hypnotize Johnny at one point and gets the upper hand. It doesn’t last long though and Johnny is back in the fight.

Johnny is able to flame on while he’s under the water. His powers are still rather loosely defined at this point in the 616 so this kind of thing happens often where it seems like he shouldn’t be able to use his powers but does anyway. Eventually Johnny traps Namor in an underwater cave and gets away.

Exhausted, Johnny meets the same boat he helped earlier, and they give him passage on the ship.

Of course, Namor is not stuck for long and he breaks out. He assumes Johnny has left since he doesn’t see him around anywhere and figures he would have flown back to the continent by this point. Namor is somewhat relieved as the fight has gone out of him a bit. He also realizes Johnny is much stronger than Namor thought. Add that to the fact Johnny is not fully grown and Namor understands what a powerhouse of an ally he could be.

Namor imagines the two of them joining forces to beat the FF and holding the entire world in their hands.

A lot of this issue is just typical fighting for the sake of fighting. But the end with Namor contemplating what could be seems like it could be the foundation for a What if? story.

This was the first real one on one grudge match with Johnny and Namor but it won’t be the last. I also think it’s interesting how Namor was minding his own business and Johnny decides to start a fight. That’s not typically a hero move but it seems to work out in this case.

Up next on the reading list we’ll be sticking with Johnny Storm and the rest of his pals as he and the team meet The Hulk in Fantastic Four #12!

Marvel 616 Comic Book Review – Strange Tales #106

Strange Tales Issue 106 Photo Credit: Marvel

In the pages of The Fantastic Four one of the more common storylines is for one member or another to leave the team. There have been times when this lasted a while but most often it is resolved in an issue or two at the most.

Strange Tales stars Johnny Storm in his own adventures but the rest of the FF have shown up here and there on several occasions. In issue 106, it’s advertised as a guest appearance for the Fantastic Four. There’s nothing unusual about this appearance but it does show Marvel is trying to tie a superhero universe together. One of the best ways to do this is to use the team that kicked off the 616 universe as much as possible.

It’s been a little confusing in Strange Tales for Johnny to live in Glenville but show up consistently at the Baxter building in the pages of The Fantastic Four as if he is living there. Johnny and Sue seem to be sometimes living in Glenville and sometimes at the Baxter building as well.

This issue starts off with Johnny zipping around an obstacle course Reed has created for him. Next a visitor arrives at Johnny and Sue’s Glenville home, asking to see The Human Torch. This should be surprising because Johnny has tried to disguise his identity in Glenville. This never made sense considering the FF are publicly known figures but Johnny tries to keep a secret identity anyway.

Johnny gets home and ditches his costume in an alley. (Side note here to mention a lot of Marvel heroes really do seem to think hiding their costumes in an alley is a great strategy.) Even as he is doing this, people are pointing out the Human Torch usually arrives home around this time.

As Johnny enters his home he is greeted by Sue and one Mr. Zante who knows Johnny is the Torch. Johnny is utterly shocked by this revelation but Sue admits “All of Glenville knows of your dual role!” This is one of the first times (but far from the last) when Marvel subverts expectations about secret identities not only to the reader but also to the character hiding a secret identity. This is similar to a future event involving Mary Jane Parker and Spider-man but to be clear, this type of revelation happens first in Strange Tales 106 with Johnny Storm.

A big question in my mind would be why Sue lets Mr. Zante in without knowing anything about him but she does. Johnny feels a bit embarrassed about everyone knowing his secret but Sue assures him everyone was just respecting his desire for privacy. She then leaves saying, “Now I’ll leave you two alone for your man talk!” Yeah, not exactly the most progressive of eras in publishing but it is what it is.

It turns out this Zante is an acrobat and thinks Johnny and he should team up and form their own super team called “The Torrid Twosome.” Not a name that would go over well now but might have made sense at the time. Zante recalls a bunch of adventures the Fantastic Four had and highlights all of Johnny’s biggest contributions. He tries to convince Johnny that Reed Richards is exploiting him because Reed keeps most of the money for research rather than paying Johnny more.

Johnny races over to Reed and starts to complain, going so far as to demand a salary. There’s a silly tussle with The Thing because, of course there is. In the end Reed says no, stating the money really does need to be used for research. Again, one of the biggest foes the FF face truly is money. It causes all sorts of problems for the team.

Johnny leaves the team and flies out of the window telling them he’s going to be part of the Torrid Twosome. When Johnny calls up Zante to tell him the news we get the first real impression Zante is up to no good. He thinks to himself, “By the time he learns the truth–It’ll be too late!”

Johnny next designs a rather ugly green and orange outfit, complete with beret made out of unstable molecules. Sue tries to convince Johnny not to join up with Zante but he just keeps going on and on about his new outfit.

Zante shows up the next day and tells Johnny there is a man stuck in a bank vault. The plan is for Johnny to melt through the vault and free the bank teller. The Torch flies through and melts the door to find no one inside. Zante follows and shoots Johnny with a liquid asbestos gun. He just wanted Johnny to open the vault so he could steal the money. As if that wasn’t enough, Zante shoots Johnny in the arm with a regular gun as he makes his escape.

The police attempt to catch Zante but because he’s an acrobat they have a pretty hard time of it. But when Zante gets to his getaway car it goes nowhere thanks to The Thing hanging onto the bumper to keep it from moving. Soon Reed and Sue show up to pitch in. They have him caught and all but arrested when Johnny comes out of the bank and demands the FF leave Zante for him.

There’s a bit of a chase but Johnny has a bum arm so it takes a bit longer than normal for him to catch the criminal. He ends up melting the pavement right under the guy’s feet, making it impossible for Zante to walk. Johnny then admits he never truly believed Zante but he had to string him along to find out what he was up to. The issue ends with Johnny back on the team and this time tossing away his Terrible Twosome costume in the same alley where he had been hiding his Fantastic Four uniform. With that, everything is back to normal and the FF can operate as whole team once again.

Next up on the reading list, we’re sticking with Johnny Storm for another story as we catch up with The Human Torch in the pages of Strange Tales #107!

Entropy – Book Review

Entropy by Dana Hayward

Note: this review was first posted on Reedsy Discovery, an awesome website that pairs independent authors and readers. To see the post there, click here.

If you are a book reviewer and want to contribute reviews on Reedsy Discovery, click here.

(Note: this post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something through this post I will get a small commission at no extra cost to you)

SUMMARY

DESTINATION MARS! The Lunar Republic is on the run…

Life on Earth is dying from a mysterious cause, and President Kim bets her future on an obscure, young scientist whose theory can only be tested from outer space. The year is 2066, and the race is on against the Chinese to establish a viable lunar colony before the 100th anniversary of mankind’s first step on the Moon. Yet, the Moon is only the first step, the springboard for the permanent settlement of Mars.

“Entropy” is set in the near future where technology has evolved to an astounding degree. Human nature, however, has not; this futuristic novel reads like an expose on our own times.
“Entropy” is much more than a science fiction thriller; it is a running commentary on the times that we live. A dystopic, postapocalyptic, hard science depiction of epic space travel, colonization, and new beginnings for the human race: Entropy is a blockbuster, written by a new voice, waiting to be discovered.

REVIEW

Rating: 5 out of 5.

It’s been nearly one hundred years since humans first landed on the moon. The earth is dying and chances of survival both for the environment and humanity are getting slimmer by the minute. The world is not completely devoid of hope as a newly elected President Kim decides to shoot for the moon once again. There is a group of bright scientists, explorers, and military personnel will begin a lunar colony. As this is being established a young scientist has a theory the thinks may explain what is happening on Earth and find some solutions to keep humanity going. It won’t be easy and with a rival colony established by the Chinese government it will be a test of time, will, and deep thinking in order to move forward.

Entropy is hard science space exploration at its finest. It is engaging without becoming overwhelming. And while much of the science is still fictional, it is recognizable enough the reader of this era can relate to it. The events on Earth influence those on the lunar colony and vice versa. Geopolitics are not just window dressing here as they are important to the story.

There are also some military skirmishes but they don’t bog down the point of the story and are overall believable. Perhaps the one improvement which might be made is with the evolution of a wandering group who has some conflict with the government. While it’s still believable in the context of the story it was not always apparent how it related to the larger story but it does pay off enough in the end.

Although the story is about Earth literally dying, the reader comes away from the book more hopeful than they did going in.

If you like science fiction authors like Arthur C. Clarke, books like To Be Taught If Fortunate, or shows with deep thought and strong science such as The Expanse, you’ll find a great read in Entropy by Dana Hayward.

Jason X – Movie Review

Jason… in space…

Hello horror fans! It’s Friday the 13th once again and I’m here to review the outright weirdest of all Friday the 13th movies, Jason X. There will be spoilers in this review but at this point either you have seen this thing or you’re never going to. Still, you’ve been warned.

Jason Voorhees has been through a lot. He’s gone from a little boy who died in tragic circumstances, to the murderous maniac separating campers from their limbs in Crystal Lake, to the big apple New York City, and then all the way to hell. He’s been coming back from the grave for more in nine films and Jason X as the title implies is the tenth film.

The movie starts with a couple of people trying to cryogenically freeze Jason’s body. There’s a scientist there who wants to learn from the regenerative properties of Jason’s cells. Already we can tell this is a terrible idea and things just get worse from there. The woman who is in the first scene is able to trap Jason into the cryogenic chamber and starts the mechanism to freeze him. She leans against the wall and Jason just stabs right through the wall and the woman.

The movie flashes forward centuries and Jason is on a spaceship for, well, reasons I guess. Humans apparently don’t learn anything because the ship captain wants to profit from Jason. Also, the woman who was stabbed by Jason survives because of the modern science and the fact that she was also frozen. That way the crew can have one person to warn them Jason is bad news.

Her warning does not work. As you can imagine, Jason goes on a killing spree destroying every person who gets in his way. Also there’s some attempts at showing off cool (for the time) special effects and pseudo-scientific sounding language so we know it’s the future.

I’m not going to spoil the whole thing but I’ll say the deaths in this one don’t feel that imaginative, other than Jason, I can’t remember a single character name, and Jason is never truly done so people make really bad mistakes.

I do have some questions though.

  1. Why is this in space? I mean, I know there is a behind the scenes reason we have this movie. There were some licensing issues getting Freddy v Jason going and audiences still wanted more out of the franchise. They wanted to go for space horror like Alien or Predator but it so does not work.
  2. What machete is strong enough to pierce through six inches of steel? Forget studying Jason’s cells, just grab the machete cause that’s some serious stuff.
  3. This movie is missing someone warning people that the place they are in is cursed. That hardly counts as a Friday the 13th movie in that case.
  4. There are legends about Jason still known on this space ship in the future but only one dude knows what a hockey mask is. The sport was apparently banned in 2024 according to the film. So, did this movie predict the future? We’ll only know in 2024.
  5. Also, at one point there was reference to the “Microsoft wars” which were apparently violent. Again, is this movie actually predicting the future?
  6. Also, why is this in space? Do they not have local campgrounds in the future?
  7. I get what the film makers were going for here but the strength of Friday the 13th films has always been they were made for a small budget in a recognizable location. It’s certainly possible they could have made a good space horror film but it seems like these people never watched a good space horror film.
  8. There’s a part where they fool Jason with a Star Trek like holodeck and they don’t think to use it until really close to the end. I mean, come on, you have super modern technology and you aren’t even using it. What were these people thinking?
  9. There’s an android just like in Alien who looks human but of course this one is a woman, you know, so they can make a gag. And again it’s not until the end of the movie she’s used to try to stop Jason. Why didn’t the android think of this earlier??
  10. Why is this in space? Look, I can take a lot of ridiculous things in horror movies but Jason in space? I just can’t.
  11. Jason was in Hell at the end of the last movie. How did he get out? Seriously, did someone go down to Hell and dig him up? This needs an explanation.
  12. Also, and maybe I have asked this before but, why is this in space??? It doesn’t add anything to the movie.
  13. This is the tenth movie and we were totally expecting to see Freddy in this one because that’s what film 9 promised us. Why wasn’t Freddy here? You’ll just have to wait to see what happens with that until the next Friday the 13th.

Whatever happens in the next movie it can’t really get worse than this one. I’m not sure if this one is my absolute least favorite Jason movie but it’s in the bottom two for sure. I’m going to need a refresh on the Freddy movies before Jason meets Freddy though so you can expect some reviews of those films on here. Until then, don’t let any black cats cross your path!

Spacily yours,

Slick Dungeon