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