Monday, 29 November 2010

CHRISTMAS MOVIES!!! Half Arsed Review: Disney's A Christmas Carol

Last year I put up my thoughts on a selection of Horror Films around Halloween time, so this year, as I've nothing better to do with my time, I'm putting up my thoughts on a selection of Christmas movies.

Today's entry is "Disney's A Christmas Carol" which is the CGI adventures of one Ebenezer Scrooge AKA Jim Carrey.

The first thing I've got to say about this film is the graphics are amazing. Not quite Avatar, but they're really impressive, the characters look like the actors (in most cases) and at points (maybe due to me having lost my glasses) in the darker lit parts of the film I could have sworn that they were real actors. On the flip side of this was the party scene where Mr. and Mrs. Fezzywig did a dance that was physically impossible destroying the realism the rest of the film so far had built up and reminded you you were watching a modern day cartoon. Poor move Disney.

Lighting in this film was a bit of a problem for me and all of my family agreed that when Scrooge was knocking about at the beginning, there were parts you didn't know what was going on thanks to the screen being near pitch black. Sure it saved a bit of money for the studio, as nothing was happening, but it spoilt the first part of the film as I wasn't sure what I was looking at.

The horror element from the story was higher than I had expected, due to this being Disney and all, but really added to the whole atmosphere and the characters were all faithfully recreated in this adaptation.

There was a chase scene near the end that was entirely pointless and I fear that 3D was the culprit. It detracted from the story as there seemed no reason why Scrooge would run away from the ghost of Christmas yet to come, but because they wanted to charge people an extra few quid at the cinema, they added it. Another poor move from Disney.

If you want to watch a pretty faithful (except said chase) adaptation of A Christmas Carol, this is a great film. It's more adult than I imagined and think younger children could get bored. However for me, if you want to watch A Christmas Carol, even though I love Jim Carrey, I'd have to say you need to watch A Muppet's Christmas Carol, which I will talk about in more detail in a later update.

So, I'd give this 3 out of 5 baubles. It would be 4, but the chase scene and Fezzywig party really detracted from the overall atmosphere.

Friday, 26 November 2010

The Ultimate Gob Stopper

The Ultimate Gob Stopper

So there I was, standing in front of what used to be Ray's wife Shav, but what was now, a slobbering mass of gluttony. Ray was determined that I would be next, that by consuming me, Shav's hunger would be appeased yet again.

This is where that small gooey mass that lives in my skull suddenly sparked into life and I came up with a few ideas of how to get the hell out of this basement of death!

To begin with, I simply tried to convince Ray, that due to my scrawny stature, that I would not be a sufficient enough snack for his wife Shav. This didn't work.

Then I pleaded with Ray, saying that my long suffering lady wife Louise was still out there and that I just wanted to know if she was ok. So if he let me go, I'd come back as soon as I'd found her. That didn't work.

Finally I tried to convince Ray that if he didn't feed me to his wife (I never thought I'd utter that sentence) then I'd help him lure in more people! However, he wasn't falling for that either.

The mush that I called a brain had failed me again and I would surely have been done for if it wasn't for the quick thinking/actions of my little cat, the ginger ninja Simba, who'd come into the basement the same time as Ray, unbeknown to any of us.

Simba had been watching me try and weasel my way out of my fate for sometime before he decided to interject. The good thing about Simba was that Ray didn't see him as a threat, which would ultimately be Ray's downfall, for the moment at least.

Ray had gone into evil bond villain mode and had started to tell me that nothing could stop him from taking care of his wife. That was untrue however, as Simba decided to prove to him.

Like a flash of ginger lightning, he struck without warning! Leaping from his curled up position at the bottom of the stairs, he launched himself at Ray, hitting him with all his force in the chest, and causing Ray to lose his balance.

What happened next happened in a kind of strange slow motion. Ray staggered back, and turned as he did so to face his wife. Shav opened her mouth in horror, a bit of humanity still remained it seemed, and she uttered two words in a deep voice that was no longer recognisable as her own.

She simple said "Bad Times", as the front half of Ray vanished inside her gob. Ray had been the ultimate gob stopper and Shav began to choke on her husband's torso.

Ray Screamed as his face, that was now in the pits of his wife's stomach, had began to be slowly digested, Shav gargled and tried to pull Ray out, but with her feeble arms that looked like they belonged on a T-Rex, she couldn't get a hold of him, and as this happened I couldn't help but feel sorry for the pair. They never wanted any of this, but here they were.

Suddenly, the door to the basement burst open, and the mutant youths came to their master's aid, leaving the door wide open behind them, which was my cue to get the hell out of there.

I raced for the front door and was about to escape when Simba reminded me that I had left my stuff, and more importantly, Professor Humeprdink, in their living room, so I sneaked back into their lounge.

The bag was where I had left it, and luckily everything I had packed was still intact, Professor Humperdink however was a little worse for wear. He was sitting in the punchbowl that I had last seen him lapping out of, and was now drunker than I had been on my stag night all those moons ago.

I scooped him up in one arm, bag over the other shoulder, and pelted it out the house, with Simba in tow. I honestly don't recall how long I had ran for, but by the time I had stopped, I was lost.

Everything seemed strange and unfamiliar and it wasn't just me, the cats had no idea where we were either (Professor Humperdink didn't have a clue about anything, he was too busy singing a sea shanty at the top of his voice) I rested under a tree for a moment, when the heavens decided to open and the tree caught fire.
Rain used to be an annoyance in the past, when things made sense, but since The End, even Rain tries to kill you. This wasn't Acid Rain though, it was Flame Rain! So I had escaped the clutches of a crazed couple intent on eating me, only to be rained down upon with... well, rain from above.

I pegged it with the cats, trying to avoid the fiery death that plagued us and all of a sudden I found myself outside a school, which I could use as shelter from the flame. The doors weren't locked and the teachers lounge was the perfect place for me to hold up whilst I got my breath back.

The school wasn't familiar however, and certainly wasn't a local one. Either I'd been running longer than I thought or things had moved since The End. It turned out the latter was the answer. Things had moved, just because they could. For instance, The Eiffel Tower, which used to be in a country called France, now resides in Skegness where an Irish guy called Barry charges you a can of coke (a rare commodity) for a ride on the elevator. (That's not a euphemism)

Night had fallen and I decided to spend it in the staff room resting up with my cats, wondering about my long suffering lady wife Louise and how she was coping. Hoping she was safe. My thoughts through the night went all over the place and I began to wonder about the fate of my other friends... hell, to the fate of everyone I ever knew, and I wondered then, how long it would be before things went back to normal, not realising that normal would no longer be achievable.

I kinda wish my friends had died at The End, along with most of the world, as 9 out of 10 of my friends had become bat shit crazy or freakishly mutated! I wondered, back then, how long it would be till I ran into another friend... it wasn't long before I did, in fact it was the following morning, god rest her crazed soul.

As for Ray and Shav you ask? Well, I hadn't seen the last of them. Rule #1 in the survivalist guide book. If you kill something, make sure it's dead.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Whatever happened to Ray and Shav?

Whatever happend to Ray and Shav?

When the world ended, Ray was at the supermarket getting some medicine for Shav, who had been in bed all week with a cold that he'd inadvertently given to her. She'd been nothing but a perfect carer whilst he'd had the bug and he wanted to repay the five star treatment he'd had, by giving her the same if not better.

He'd gotten a basket full of various remedies and was headed towards the checkouts, which for a weekday, was surprisingly full. Ray had wanted to get back to Shav as fast as possible, so weighed up his options. Did he risk going to the self service checkout and get stuck behind a pensioner with no comprehension of how the machine worked or did he risk going to the ten items or less checkout with the sixteen items he had? What's the worst the ten items or less cashier could do when he'd already loaded the conveyor belt with his stuff, refuse to serve him?

Maybe if he got rid of some of the items, then he could use the ten items or less queue with no kind of remorse. Ray studied his basket; did Shav really need a "facial soothing mask" or an "anti-flu body balm"? Half the stuff in there was unnecessary, but Ray didn't want to look like he didn't care by just turning up with a pack of Lemsip and a tub of Vic that he could offer to rub on her chest for her, so he decided to throw caution to the wind and go in the ten items or less queue, even though he was six items over.

Just as he approached the end of the queue, by chance, he noticed a free checkout with a nice looking lady sitting behind it, staring out into space. Now he needn't break the social rules of the supermarket! Ray was over to her in seconds and tipped the contents of his basket onto the belt, which brought the woman back into reality. She smiled at him and greeted him as he went to the end on the conveyor. Then she asked if he needed help packing, to which he usually said no, but for some reason today he decided to ask for help.

She looked at him, without the pleasant smile that had been there moments ago. It had been replaced with a deep sadness and a shocked expression like no one had asked her to before. Ray then happened to glance around him and the woman on the checkout behind was giving him evils, along with a tutting old man who was being served. Ray was really confused until he watched his cashier struggling with the carrier bags and then he realised that in his rush to get back to his ailing wife, he had completely neglected to see that this woman had a really small hand.

That wasn't the worst thing that would happen to Ray, but it was still a low point in his life that he felt really awkward about.

Whilst Ray had been out, Shav was snuggled up on her sofa under a duvet watching re-runs of old television shows. She’d had colds before, but this was unlike anything she’d had before and she knew deep down that it wasn’t what Ray had had last week; it was something much, much worse.

The television was a blur to her, the whole world was spinning and her nose was running like it was sprinting for the gold medal at the Olympics. Her only comfort whilst Ray was out was her cat Lilly, who was keeping her company.

Then The End came and everything suddenly went dark. Shav thought the illness had blinded her till the lights went back on. Then Lilly started talking and Shav thought the illness had made her crazy, so much so that she picked up the phone to call for an ambulance, but all she got was a dead tone.

Ray thought there had been a sudden total eclipse, like most people, until the lights came back on and the cashier in-front of him had been reduced to a skeleton. In-fact, he was one of only a few people left alive. Everyone else had collapsed on the floor in a pool of congealed blood.

Ray’s only thought was for the safety of Shav, so he ran outside, got in his car and sped off to his house. The roads were chaotic, with abandoned cars, people driving the wrong way, and bodies littering the road. But Ray made it back in record time, raced into his house and found Shav.

They were reunited and nothing else mattered as long as they had each other.

The laws of time were no longer in effect, for everyone experienced time differently after The End. For me, it had been a day, for Ray and Shav, by the time I found them, it had been several months... and things had gone from ok to horrific in that time.

Shav wasn’t right after The End. Whatever illness she had, had been amplified, and Ray was desperate to make her better again. Shav had developed a sickening hunger, and her appetite couldn’t be appeased, which was ridiculous as she had such a light frame, in-fact there was nothing of her!

Over the next few weeks, Shav had eaten everything in the house, and everything Ray had brought home for her. He was beginning to despair when who should turn up at his door but the youths he had taught. They’d been affected by The End as well, and had all taken on monstrous features, that they were hiding with their hoodies. Also, any form of independent thought had been wiped clean, and they’d come to Ray to ask what they had to do.

Ray told them to gather food for Shav, which they did without question. They scoured the supermarkets, picked clean people’s pantries and culled the cornershops, bringing back as much food as they could carry. Shav grew from quite thin, to quite fat, and kept growing. During this time Ray had smashed all the mirror’s in the house to stop her from seeing what she was becoming; a bloated monstrosity of her former self.

No matter how much food they brought back, it was never enough. Then one day, Ray came home early from one of his searches to find Shav sitting on the sofa (which had begun to strain under her weight) with a cat’s tail sticking out of her mouth.

She had eaten Lilly, their cat. But Ray wasn’t horrified, he just told her he loved her and that he’d look after her “for better or worse”

As the food around the area began to get sparse, Ray told the youths to bring back animals, and then when the animals eventually became sparse, he told them to bring back anything else, including people. Shav’s humanity had been replaced with an insatiable hunger for everything, but Ray still loved her. He moved her, with the help of the youths, to the basement, and that’s where I had just found her.

For some time I had wondered how my mind would cope with seeing something as monstrous as the site that had befallen my eyes in Ray's basement. With all the horror films I'd seen and video games that I'd played over the years, I had expected to be slightly or majorly desensitized to gore or horrific imagery, however this wasn't the case.

I stood staring at the creature that simply looked back at me with its hungry eyes. I believe I would have fainted if it had not been for the light-switch cord I was hanging onto. A large part of me was screaming for me to turn the light back off and for me to run back out of the basement, but I was rooted to the spot with fear and confusion.

I’d expected something pretty wrong had happened to the world, what with talking cats and the deserted high streets, but I never thought I'd find something quite as wrong as the creature that squelched before me. I of course didn’t realise it was Shav till Ray appeared behind me and told me what had happened to them both since The End.

Ray added.
"Of course, I can't possibly let you leave here alive, after all... you were supposed to come over for dinner, and now's your chance.

Friday, 12 November 2010

The Party at Ray's

The Party at Ray's

My watch had stopped working when The End happened, so my concept of time and how much of it had passed at any given moment wasn’t reliable. What seemed like an hour to me, could have been half of that, and visa versa. It wasn’t just my watch however, as all watches, clocks, anything that could tell the time, had stopped working after The End, and I’ve yet to find a working timepiece, so as far as I know, time died on Monday along with the rest of the world.

So I’m not sure how long it was before I had packed some personal belongings in a rucksack, locked up my house and began walking down the road with my cats, but it seemed to be no time at all before I had gotten close to where some of my friends lived.

Professor Humperdink and Simba were keeping an eye out for anyone or anything, but all the way there we didn’t see a single soul, however that was about to change as when we approached our destination we heard music. Cheesy pop music to be precise, and there was only one person with an eclectic taste like that, my old buddy Ray.

I sighed a sigh of relief when my brain connected the music to him, as surely he must still be alive if his music was blaring out? So I ran, with my cats ahead of me, to the home of Ray and Shav.

Ray had been a hardworking bloke who was a bit of a jack the lad back in the days when life had a meaning, but as he grew older and wiser he mellowed out, met the beautiful Shav and settled down with her. His day job was helping troubled youths become valued members of society, which was a job he loved and one he was good at.

Shav was a highly intelligent motivated pretty lady who you couldn’t help warm to as she was as clever as she was funny. I helped her get a new job with my CV writing skills just before The End and the four of us (my long suffering lady wife Louise being the 4th) were going to go out for a meal sometimes that week, but the world ending kind of scuppered that idea. Ray and Shav were very much in love and everyone was happy for them, but thanks to The End, like most of us, their happy ending wasn’t quite what anyone had expected.

As soon as I saw the house, I was surprised, as there were large balloons outside, and a handmade sign which read “All Welcome” hanging over the door.

Simba spoke up “I’ve got a bad feeling about this Gunva!”

I ignored his cockney apprehension however. I was just glad that there was other human life, as much as I had enjoyed talking to my cats, their interests and mine weren’t really the same. Apart from living together, we didn’t really have much in common, which was a bit of a shame.

It was only a few moments after knocking the door that it opened to reveal a overly happy Ray. Before I could say anything he put his arms round me and gave me a massive hug, which lasted just a little too long. You know when hugs can go from nice to creepy, well this hug was just about to go into creepy territory when he let go.

“I can’t believe you survived Adamicus, I mean, no offence, but out of everyone you have the survival chances of a slug on a salt flat! I expected Hagley and Myke, and the Grays to survive, but you!?”

With that, he ushered me in to “the party” past several of the troubled youths who he’d worked with. As I past them, I thought I noticed something odd about them under their hoodies, but I thought that my eyes were playing up. More fool me.

His house was full of people, people I’d never seen before, and people Ray didn’t know either. They were all having a massive party. Professor Humperdink went straight for the punch bowl, but Simba went looking for his sister Lilly who lived with Ray and Shav.

The booze was flowing and the cheesy music was playing, I put my bag down for a moment and took a beer from a cooler. It was the tastiest beer I’d ever had, and the last one I’d have for a very long time. If I’d known that then, like a lot of other things, I would have taken my time with it.

I then put my foot in it by asking the overly merry Ray, where Shav was. The music seemed to suddenly stop and everyone looked at me. Ray sighed, looked me in the eye and told me that Shav died when The End came and that she’d always said

“Ray, if the end of the world comes and I die, please have a non-stop party and invite everyone and anyone along to it”

It was one of the crazier things that Shav had always said apparently. In retrospect, this was a lie however, so just know that before The End, she was as sane as most people.

Now as I’ve said, I had no concept of time, and I could see Ray was upset so I didn’t want to leave his party too soon to find my long suffering lady wife Louise, as that would just be rude. So I agreed to stay for a bit.

Simba came up to me and told me that he couldn’t find Lilly anywhere, and that he was worried. I told him to chill out and enjoy himself, but he couldn’t shake the feeling that something was wrong. I should have listened to him really as cat’s hunches are usually right it turns out.

Some hazy time later, and after several long chats about the old days with Ray, I noticed that the room had thinned out quite a bit. I decided that that was my queue to use the toilet. As I went to use the facilities I saw Simba scratching at the door that led to their basement.

“What are you doing Simba?” I asked him.

He looked up at me and told me that he’d seen some of Ray’s work youths take people down here, and when the youths came back up, they came alone. He was sure there was something going on and that we should investigate. I reminded him that curiosity killed the cat, so he should be careful, but he insisted, so I opened the door and stepped into the darkness.

I’d only ever been down in Ray’s basement once before, to watch a transformers marathon and when I got down the stairs it was pitch-black. I recalled that there was a cord for the light hanging down near the bottom of the stairs so I felt my way blindly to it and pulled.

This is what I found.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Conversing with Cats

Conversing with Cats

Professor Humperdink and Simba, pre-The End

The world had ended, and so had the laws of the universe it would seem, as my ginger cat Simba had just spoken to me. My mind could just about cope with all the oddness that had happened so far in my day, but the talking cat in front of me was the straw that broke the camel’s back, or in my case it was the cat that made me faint.

I awoke some hours later, in my own bed, with my ginger cat on my chest purring. I seem to recall that I had foolishly thought it was all a dream, and that I’d be laughing with my long suffering lady wife Louise about it later on.

My first clue that everything wasn’t ok was when I turned over in my bed to see my long suffering lady wife Louise was not present, leaving an empty feeling in the pit of my stomach. My second clue and a more obvious one was when Simba, in that same high pitched cockney voice spoke again.

“Professor, he’s awake!” he cried out

I rubbed my eyes like someone out of a Disney cartoon did when they couldn’t believe what they were presented with, but no amount of rubbing was going to rub out the fact that my cat could speak. I stared at him gone out; he then began to lick my cheek with his sandpaper tongue, purring whilst he did it.

The familiar sound of a low pitched bell jangled up the stairs leading to my bedroom, and my other cat, Professor Humperdink (the one I got to name, and the oldest), jumped onto the bed, landing gracefully. Like always, he looked happy to see me. Then he began to talk, but not in a high pitched cockney voice like Simba, but in a very dry English accent.

“Hello to you master, I was hoping you were still alive. We’ve not seen Other Mother since everything went terribly strange, I do hope she’s ok”

I stuttered for the first time in a long time, still not quite sure if I was dreaming, and as if they were reading my mind, Simba scratched my face to show me I wasn’t dreaming. I then stated the obvious.

“You... you can talk!?”

The cats looked at each and rolled their eyes, then turned back to me. Professor Humperdink spoke

“Master, we’re as surprised as you are over these events. I had been stalking a few tasty birds when it all went terribly dark, which isn’t usually a problem for me as I can see in the dark, but even I couldn’t see. When the light returned, I found I had cognitive speech! We were waiting for your return Master, and that of the Other Mother, but she’s not been back since she left this morning. Incidentally, you must be famished Master, would you like something to eat?”

It was true, I was hungry, so I agreed, and followed my talking cats down the stairs, still shell-shocked from the events of the day.

They sat me down at my dining table and then Simba placed a small half dead bird on a plate in front of me.

“There you are Guvna!”

The bird looked at me with half conscious eyes.

“I can’t eat this!” I protested, which I could tell hurt the cat’s feelings. “Where’s the human food?”

Professor Humperdink, jumped on the table and reminded me that I was supposed to go shopping at the weekend, but had spent that time instead playing on my Xbox and that there was no human food in the house. I was starving, and looked back at the bird.

It was a young bird, but not a baby, he had feathers and a puncture wound through his chest where Simba had carried it to me. Its chest raised and lowered slowly, then its beak opened and in a weak voice it cried “Pleeeeasee... kill meee...”

I was hungry, but not THAT hungry, so I knocked it onto the floor and told my cats to have it and to make sure they finished it off quickly, which they did in no time at all.

After they'd eaten the morsel that was that poor talking bird, I asked the question that had been on my mind since I learnt my cat’s could talk. “Is it just you guys, or can all cat’s talk?”

“Well, I’ve spoke to a few cats, so it’s not just us. In fact, I spoke to a fine young cat not ten minutes ago, he was telling me that a lot of the Masters have disappeared and that the cats were all heading north for some reason, he wasn’t sure why.” The Professor replied.

“So Guvna, What’s next?” asked a curious Simba.

“Next?” I replied “Next we find your other mother Louise, but if she was with the horse, she’s all the way out in the middle of nowhere... I have some friends who lived on the way, maybe they’re still alive, or their car’s there. I’m sure between the three of us we can figure out how to drive a car.”

I paused for a moment, and realised that I was talking to two cats about driving a car.

That wasn’t the maddest thing that’s happened to be since The End, but it was still an odd moment. Not as odd as the fate of my friends Ray and his wife Shav; who were the next people I encountered on my journey.