Why Video Games are Important for Horror

As a horror writer, naturally I have an affinity for literature, as well as movies. But what I talk little about are video games, and the underappreciated value they provide the genre.

Video games have been a significant and important part of my life. Ever since I had a Pong set, then moved to the Atari 2600, and on to the NES, I played and loved every gaming console since. I grew up on them, my kid grew up on them. And we’ve been playing them together since they could pick up a controller.

To me a good game is a work of art, much like a novel or movie. A video game combines a multiple art forms into one piece. Music, story, visuals, and voice acting. What’s compelling about horror games is they put you directly in the action. You control the character, and for first-person view games, you are the character. Suddenly, running from nightmarish monsters can be quite terrifying and if you’re really into the game, it actually gets your heart pumping. You feel the excitement and adrenaline rush of trying to stay alive.

Not all games are created equal. Just because you pick up a horror themed game doesn’t mean it’s going to scare the hell out of you. Games such as the Dead Rising series are great games, lots of fun to play, and even have nods to classic zombie movies, but they aren’t frightening.

I recently played a game called Outlast. Now that’s the kind of game I’m talking about. It’s a first-person view survival game, where you play the part of a journalist sneaking into an abandoned mental asylum for a story. There are no weapons. You can’t fight. You’re armed with only a video camera, luckily equipped with night vision when you need it. But the batteries can run out. When being chased by a psychopath with a machete or a mutated creature from beyond, all you can do is run, hide, and hope they don’t find you. Trying to navigate an enormous labyrinthian mental asylum in this manner was damn hard, and really got my blood pumping.

Alien: Isolation is another that comes to mind. Also a first-person survival game, it’s based on The Ridley Scott Alien movies. If this game, you’re on a ship with a Xenomorph. You do get a few measly weapons. But nothing worthy of actually trying to fight it. They’re mostly meant for distracting the alien so you can run the other way and hope it doesn’t kill you. The game plays a lot like Outlast, but in Alien: Isolation, the Xenomorph is highly sensitive to sound. Make too much noise, you’re dead. Also unlike Outlast the alien appears randomly rather than the specifically placed foes in the mental asylum. This game is so terrifying the virtual reality version of the game was never released as the developers were afraid it could cause a heart attack.

Although Alien Isolation never made it, Virtual Reality is the next great leap in horror gaming. If playing the game on a screen in your living room has allowed some games to incite actual anxiety, I look forward to seeing what the future of horror can do with a game where you really are in the middle of the action.

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this post, follow my blog for more about horror fiction, writing, movies, and more!

∼Lee A. Forman

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Why ‘Night of the Creeps’ is One of the Best B-Movies of All Time.

 

Aliens in bad rubber costumes, 1950s throwbacks in black and white, ax-wielding psychopaths, slug monsters, zombies, a detective with a dark past, and a full helping of campy 80s B-movie humor—this is the masterpiece that is Night of the Creeps. The recipe for this cult-classic sounds absurd. What the hell kind of movie has all that in it without being completely ridiculous? Somehow, Night of the Creeps managed to pull it off.

 

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Released in 1986, starring Jason Lively, Steve Marshall, and Tom Atkins, the film starts with a scene that doesn’t fit the rest of the movie at all—aliens on a spacecraft. Yes, aliens. In cheesy rubber costumes. They even went as far as adding subtitles in both English, and for some reason, the alien’s language as well. This is an odd but lovable detail, especially for this kind of movie.

After that it jumps to old-school black and white, representative of scenes that happen in the 50s. Although it’s been done before, the style during these scenes bring a unique quality to this type of 80s horror. And they add a backstory to everything that happens later. Slasher films weren’t common in the 50s, but had their golden era in the 80s. That’s what makes ax-wielding psychopath so special. Night of the Creeps has 80s written all over it, but the killer is in the black and white 50s scenes—a nice twist to the mashup.

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When the story jumps forward to 1986, it’s literally saturated with everything 80s. Frat parties, nerds, jocks, it’s all there. Jason Lively from National Lampoon’s European Vacation just tops it off. Adding to the B-movie humor, the homicide detective is given some of the worst lines of dialogue. But if you love that campy 80s style, it’s perfect. They bring that element to the movie while leaving the rest of the characters with more serious lines.

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Although the ‘zombies’ in Night of the Creeps aren’t really zombies, at least not the Romero variety, they’re damn close. I won’t spoil the movie, but they have something to do with the aliens and slug monsters, and when everything comes together, all the unusual aspects of this film create a masterpiece that still shines over thirty years later.

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A Town’s Love Affair with UFOs

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I attended the Pine Bush UFO Fair this year, and I have to say it was a lot of fun! As a UFO writer for Living Paranormal Magazine, I wrote an article about the annual festival and dove into the town’s history with UFOs.

Check out my article, A Town’s Love Affair with UFOs in Issue #3 of Living Paranormal Magazine, which you can download and read for FREE on their website. Paperback editions will soon be available as well.

www.livingparanormalmagazine.com