#VideoGamesDay: A Look Back At One of the First Horror Games Ever Made, ‘3D Monster Maze’

Today is Video Games Day (or a Wednesday as I call it) and given our focus here at Bloody Disgusting, it’d be rude not to mark a significant point in horror video game history.

So I thought perhaps the best way would be to look back at a game that is arguably one of the first proper examples of horror (and survival horror) in the digital realm. The 1982 title, 3D Monster Maze.

This Sinclair ZX81 game created by Malcolm Evans tasked you with escaping a 3D maze (one of only a handful of games to use 3D space since 1973 when Maze War was created). Oh, and it happened to feature a Tyrannosaurus Rex that would hunt you down and eat you if you failed to escape its chompy jaws, so you can see where the horror element comes in. This is perhaps the first of many memorable player-hunting AI beasts, and that’s a pretty interesting club.

Evans had previously been working on satellite technology and computer control systems in aviation before he found gaming stardom with 3D Monster Maze. While today a hit game is usually borne of passion and a dedicated team, Evans, on his own, had simply made this game to test out what the Sinclair ZX81 was able to pull off.

Considering the limitations of the machine, Evans truly did push the underpowered home computer to new heights. Despite its simplistic black and white visuals, 3D Monster Maze required a 16K RAM pack just to play it (the standard ZX81 had just 1K), and for the time, it made for an incredibly effective experience. The maze was procedurally-generated, and the dinosaur itself had various states depending on how close or far you were to it.

The T-Rex hunts you from the second you move and only gets less aggressive in its search the further you got from it. Given the limitations on sound (the silence is almost deafening) and visuals, you’d be at a major disadvantage here, but handily there’s a status bar that keeps you informed of the slavering prehistoric carnivore’s proximity to you.

I say handily, but in truth, it just made things more stressful. The set phrases did a fine job of escalating panic as the game coldly informs you that a hulking meat eater has seen you, and soon after gives you a nudge to say ‘hey, that T-Rex is practically breathing down your neck now’ (signified by the alarming phrase ‘RUN HE IS BEHIND/BESIDE YOU’). You can outrun the T-Rex of course, but you do then risk losing your bearings turning down a dead end and offering yourself up as a light lunch for your toothy nemesis.

Failure was greeted with a withering statement on your performance. A bit of humor to prod you into entering the dino’s lair once more. If you want to see a typical round of 3D Monster Maze in action, there’s a nice, brief run here.

I first played 3D Monster Maze in the late 80’s while games were relatively new to me. The fumbled panic caused by seeing the T-Rex in the distance or having the status bar warn you of its impending approach has stuck with me for many years and looking back, it, alongside catching the last twenty minutes of The Terminator after sneaking downstairs late one night, were key building blocks for my love of horror and the sweat-inducing thrill of being chased in video games.

The likes of Resident Evil 3: Nemesis and Alien Isolation to me, feel like natural progressions of what 3D Monster Maze pulled off, and while the teeth have been taken out of that game thanks to the passage of time, the memory of reading ‘REX HAS SEEN YOU’ still elicits a small shiver.

[I Love ’90s Horror] The Mythology Expanding Fun of ‘Predator 2’

The ‘90s often get a bad rap with horror fans. After the numerous successful slashers and creature effects films of ‘80s, the ‘90s offered a different variety of horror fare. Though there were plenty of hits, hidden gems, and misunderstood classics, the ‘90s usually don’t get the kind of love that other decades get when it comes to horror. It’s time to change that.

Predator is one of the best action/horror/sci-fi films ever made. It’s a lean, polished, and propulsive machine that delivers exactly what you want while continuing to surprise you. Making a sequel to Predator felt like a no-brainer. There were so many fascinating avenues that the first movie opened up. And when it comes to expanding the mythology of the Predator, Predator 2 is a definite win.

Changing the setting to a big city like Los Angeles was an obvious but welcome move. It feels like a natural progression of where the Predator should hunt next. The best scenes in Predator 2 often have to do with how the Predator interacts with this new environment. An extended sequence on a subway or a menacing shot of the Predator on the side of a building gives us a cool aesthetic to stick the Predator into. It’s even used for some effective comedy when the Predator smashes into a bathroom and the tenants think there’s a prowler in the house. As far as making use of the urban locale, Predator 2 does a fine job.

The film’s best asset is director Stephen Hopkins. Fresh off the kaleidoscopic A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child, Hopkins discards former director John McTiernan’s grounded sensibilities and gets wacky. There is a kineticism to Predator 2 in the shot choices that makes the whole film feel bonkers in the best way. Even the editing has a sense of humor to it, with a character’s unexpected decapitation turning into a bit of gallows humor. And Hopkins is clearly a fan of effects because every gag in the film gets plenty of attention. A tracking shot of the Predator walking through a puddle and its camouflage malfunctioning is made awesome thanks to Hopkins’ direction. Not to mention the numerous additions to the Predator’s weapons and the delightfully gory results they produce. The best one has to be the razor wire net.

And the best part of Predator 2 is how it adds to the Predator mythology without taking away from what happened in the first film. It doesn’t try to explain or justify certain unsaid things from Predator. Instead, it simply expands upon natural ideas the first film implied. For example, the first film never suggests that the Predator has been to Earth before. For all we know, this is the first time they’ve ever visited our planet. Predator 2 is able to suggest a larger history just by showing us a certain item that the Predators have in their possession. We also get to see a skull trophy case that implies the Predators have hunted species all across the universe. And sticking in an Alien skull is a wonderful bit of fan-service that also makes the audience realize just how formidable the Predators really are.

But, in all honesty, Predator 2 is as frustrating as it is fun. Turning the story into another mystery surrounding what the Predator is makes the sequel retread too much familiar ground. That’s made doubly disappointing as the plot involves government agents with prior knowledge of the Predator. Why the movie didn’t make one of these agents the perspective character is a baffling choice. Instead, we get Danny Glover as a foul-mouthed loose cannon cop. Glover isn’t bad in the role — in fact, the casting of this movie is downright excellent — but none of the characters are as cartoonishly enjoyable as they should be. And I’m not even going to touch the over-the-top racially insensitive sub-villains in this flick.

Still, Predator 2 is worth the price of admission. Between the strong effects work, direction, and clever expansion of the Predator lore, this is a sequel that puts in the work and reaps the benefits. It’s a clunky movie but succeeds at keeping the title monster fascinating and awesome. And we’re clearly still clamoring for more.

Hunt Your “Monster of The Week” in Ballistic Interactive’s ‘HellSign’

If you were a fan of Meagan’s article regarding The X-Files10 best “Monster of the Week” episodes, then chances are Ballistic Interactive’s HellSign will be up your alley.

Set to head onto Steam Early Access on November 7th, 2018, HellSign is a “hardcore supernatural RPG experience that captures the feeling of being in-too-deep during a paranormal investigation with nothing but your wits and some rusty hunting gear.” Putting you in the shoes of a paranormal investigator, you travel around Australia investigating the unknown and taking down all manner of monsters.

With the full game boasting a Story Mode containing three chapters, 12+ bosses and more than 25 different creatures to hunt, and over 40 hours of gameplay, HellSign is one for X-Philes to check out. Hit up the game on Steam, or check out Ballistic Interactive’s site for more info.

Universal Studios’ “Halloween Horror Nights” is Serving Foods Inspired by “Stranger Things”

This year, Halloween Horror Nights brings a taste of Hawkins, Indiana to Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Orlando Resort inviting guests to enjoy foods inspired by Netflix’s “Stranger Things” that also complement the terrifying “Stranger Things” mazes debuting at both parks. “Halloween Horror Nights” begins on Friday, September 14, 2018.

The specialized foods were created by the executive chef and culinary teams at each park to further enhance the already immersive “Halloween Horror Nights” experience.

Here’s what guests can expect to feast on during “Halloween Horror Nights” at Universal Studios Hollywood:

  • Benny’s Burgers: This classic, aptly named after the show’s family-owned diner, features a juicy beef burger served on a potato roll and a side of Tater Tots®.
  • The Upside Down Burger: served “upside down,” this signature burger features spicy queso and Flamin’ Hot® Cheetos® served on a potato roll with lettuce, tomatoes, and a side of Tater Tots.
  • Benny’s Chicken & Waffle Sandwich: Drizzled with sage-maple aioli and topped with sweet and sour onions, lettuce and tomatoes, this grilled chicken sandwich is served on iconic Kellogg’s® Eggo® waffles with a side of Tater Tots.
  • Demogorgon’s Totcho: A twist on the classic nacho, this dangerously delicious snack piles up Tater Tots, doused in spicy queso, chili, Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, sour cream and scallions.
  • Eleven’s Waffle Extravaganza: Inspired by the lead protagonist’s favorite food, this tasty treat mixes Reese’s Pieces, jelly beans, chocolate chips and whipped cream stacked high on three Kellogg’s Eggo waffles.

Additional treats will be served throughout the theme park including Mini Meatball Subs, Loaded Mac ‘n’ Cheese, and Stir Fry Noodles as well as Voodoo Doughnuts.

Here’s what guests can expect to dine on at Universal Orlando Resort:

  • Waffles Galore!: All inspired by Eleven’s favorite food, guests can enjoy a variety of waffle treats at “Halloween Horror Nights,” including a Fudge Dipped Waffle on a Stick topped with peanuts and sprinkles; a Waffle Ice Cream Pocket Sundae which features two chocolate chip waffles stuffed with strawberry ice cream and topped with whipped cream, chocolate sauce, caramel sauce, sprinkles, chopped peanuts and a cherry; the Triple Decker Extravaganza, which is Orlando’s version of Eleven’s Waffle Extravaganza – and more.
  • Syrup & Waffles: Enjoy Eleven’s favorite food…beverage-style! This non-alcoholic frozen drink is a delicious blend of syrup flavors with tiny waffles on top
  • Christmas Tree Light Cupcakes: Inspired by the iconic scene from ”Stranger Things” where Joyce uses Christmas lights to communicate with Will, guests can choose from chocolate or red velvet cupcakes, each topped with whipped cream frosting and covered with jelly beans to resemble the colorful lights
  • 11 Mini Donuts: These donuts are covered in powdered sugar or cinnamon and topped with red frosting – inspired by the nosebleed Eleven typically has when she uses her telekinesis powers
  • Pepperoni & Sausage Pizza: Inspired by the slice of pizza Dustin offers his crush, Nancy, in the first episode of season one
  • Benny’s Burgers:  Universal Orlando will also feature a Benny’s Burgers food location, where guests can grab a variety of burgers, chicken sandwiches and more

Universal Orlando’s “Halloween Horror Nights” will also feature additional highly-themed food and beverages inspired by this year’s ‘80s theme and Halloween overall, including a unique Candy Corn frozen drink, a sweet and sour drink called “Gnarly Twist,” a special HHN Tombstone Doughnut at Voodoo Doughnut, and more. For a complete list of the highly-themed food and drinks available at Universal Orlando’s “Halloween Horror Nights,” click here.

For the first time ever, Universal Studios HollywoodUniversal Orlando Resort and Universal Studios Singapore are partnering with Netflix to bring “Stranger Things” to life at this year’s “Halloween Horror Nights” events.  Fans of the series will get the chance to brave the Upside Down and confront the supernatural as each park debuts all-new mazes inspired by season one of the critically-acclaimed series.

‘Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark’ Cast Fills Out With Dean Norris and More

Now filming, the Guillermo del Toro-produced, André Øvredal-directed Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark will bring Alvin Schwartz’s stories and Stephen Gammell’s illustrations to the big screen next year, and Deadline updates today with some new casting news.

Dean Norris (“Breaking Bad,” pictured below), Gil Bellows (The Shawshank Redemption) and Lorraine Toussaint (“Orange Is The New Black”) are the latest to join the cast.

From what we’ve recently heard, early drafts of the script featured the scarecrow from Harold and the girl with spiders coming out of her face from The Red Spot.

“Inspired by one of the most terrifying book series of all time, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark follows a group of teens who must solve the mystery surrounding a wave of spectacularly horrific deaths in their small town.”

Young actress Zoe Colletti (Annie) was the first name to be announced from the ensemble, with the full cast now including Michael Garza (Wayward PinesThe Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1), Austin Abrams (Brad’s StatusThe Americans), Gabriel Rush (Moonrise KingdomThe Grand Budapest Hotel), Austin Zajur (Fist FightKidding), and Natalie Ganzhorn (Make it PopWet Bum).

Javier Botet will play one of the film’s creatures.

Kevin Hageman and Dan Hageman (LEGO Movie, Trollhunters: Tales of Arcadia) co-wrote the screenplay with Academy Award-winner Guillermo del Toro and Patrick Melton & Marcus Dunstan (The Collector, Saw IV-VII, Feast, Piranha 3D) from the bestselling trilogy of books by Alvin Schwartz.

The film is being produced by Guillermo del Toro as well as Sean Daniel and Jason Brown of Hivemind along with Academy Award-winner J. Miles Dale and Elizabeth Grave.

Scary Stories is expected to release in 2019.

At What Point on THE CONJURING Timeline will ANNABELLE 3 Take Place?

The Conjuring franchise, currently five films deep, is perhaps the only one with more prequels than sequels and, thus, has a somewhat challenging timeline to follow. The first two Conjuring films (released in 2013 and 2016) take place in succession, but the two Annabelle spinoffs are both prequels, as is The Nun, which hit theaters last Friday.

Related Article: THE CONJURING Chronology Confusion? Here’s a Handy At-A-Glance Timeline

While fans expect The Conjuring 3, set to begin production in 2019 eyeing a 2020 release, to take place after the events of The Conjuring 2, the same cannot be said for Annabelle 3, aiming to haunt theaters sometime in 2019. Screenwriter Gary Dauberman, who wrote Annabelle and Annabelle: Creation, is serving double duties on Annabelle 3 as both scribe and director.

Dauberman recently sat down with the folks at CinemaBlend where he revealed the exact spot on The Conjuring timeline where Annabelle 3 will take place:

“This is the Warrens picking up where they bring Annabelle home after we see that in The Conjuring after they visit the nurses’ apartment. It happens a little while after that, so they bring it home and they’re aware of the doll’s evil, and sort of worry about her presence among the other artifacts. So before Conjuring 2, after [the beginning of] Conjuring.”

Nah, not confusing a bit!

Dauberman considers Annabelle 3 a homecoming of sorts, not just for the diminutive devil doll, but for The Conjuring franchise as a whole:

“It’s really bringing Annabelle back home, and sort of the franchise to a degree after going… I was out there in Romania for a couple months making [The Nun], you know, you get homesick from being away from family, and that really kind of informed my creative direction for this movie. It’s the artifact room; it’s the Warren’s house so it’s sort of in suburbia… For me, it’s sort of bringing the franchise back home and then bringing in sort of the idea of a horror movie happening inside the Warren’s house where there’s this room in their basement that houses all these kinds of evil and horror. So we kind of have a lot of fun and a lot of scares with that.”

We’ll keep you up-to-date on all Conjuring universe news as details emerge. If you haven’t seen The Nun, which just enjoyed a record-breaking opening weekend, check out the synopsis and trailer below.

Synopsis:
When a young nun at a cloistered abbey in Romania takes her own life, a priest with a haunted past and a novitiate on the threshold of her final vows are sent by the Vatican to investigate. Together, they uncover the order’s unholy secret. Risking not only their lives but their faith and their very souls, they confront a malevolent force in the form of a demonic nun.

Are you a fan of The Conjuring franchise? Sound off in the comments below or on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram!

The post At What Point on THE CONJURING Timeline will ANNABELLE 3 Take Place? appeared first on Dread Central.

Creators Talk the Future of Anthology Series “Castle Rock”; Characters Could Cross Over into Other Seasons

Can Jane Levy’s Jackie Torrance get her own season? Pretty please?

As of today, the season one finale of “Castle Rock” is up for streaming on Hulu, and this particular article will *not* contain spoilers. We’ll be talking about the finale at length tomorrow, but first up we wanted to share some insights into Season 2 and the series’ future, plucked from a new chat creators Sam Shaw and Dustin Thomason had with EW this week.

For starters, subsequent seasons of “Castle Rock” (a second has already been ordered by Hulu) will tell brand new stories, set in Castle Rock but (mostly) standalone in nature.

Part of the fun of season 2 and beyond will be seeing what some of the questions [will be],” Shaw told the site. “The penultimate episode of this season points to the idea that there are other worlds than these, and in this final tag there’s this sense that there are worlds of Stephen King’s that this show may explore eventually that are more far-flung than the state of Maine.”

He continued, “Part of what we always set out to do from the beginning is tell a new story each season, to see things we haven’t seen before from the point of view of characters we haven’t met before in any season. That said, I think there’s something really terrific with the way Steve handles his anthology and his universe — you see Father Callahan in Salem’s Lot and then you bump up against him again in a huge way in The Dark Tower. The pleasure of finding your way back to stories or characters you’ve seen before in unexpected ways is a huge, exciting advantage of this series. I think it’s something that we can do, and allow it to be an anthology but still embrace stories and characters that we love.

Cryptically, Shaw adds, “It just may not happen in the way that one might expect.”

Be sure to catch the season finale of “Castle Rock,” now available on Hulu.