Midnight Syndicate – Halloween Music Collection [Review]

Metal Misfit:

I just reviewed a collection of Halloween music by the group known as Midnight Syndicate over on my music blog… check it out!

Originally posted on Metal Excess:

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Midnight Syndicate – Halloween Music Collection
2010, Linfaldia Records
Buy the album

Dark ambient, neoclassical, dark wave, Gothic, orchestral, symphonic, “soundtracks for the imagination”… It doesn’t matter how you want to categorize or describe Midnight Syndicate’s music. What matters is whether you’re a fan of fantasy & horror because if you can’t check off those boxes then the music of Midnight Syndicate is not for you.

Based out of Ohio and founded in 1996 by composer/filmmaker Edward Douglas, Midnight Syndicate basically creates what I would describe as soundtracks or scores for horror/thriller/mystery movies that don’t exist (and some that do). They’ve also done an officially licensed soundtrack for the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game. The group’s music is mostly instrumental with the rare occurrence of a voice or sound effects being used. Some songs are big and bombastic while others a low-key and haunting.

Halloween Music Collection is exactly what…

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Chia Zombies and a Batman Halloween costume from 1995

Where I work (which is totally not a Walgreens), I get to see all kinds of interesting holiday items come and go through our doors. One of the coolest Halloween items I’ve seen this year is the Chia (of Pet fame) Zombie line. They come in three different styles: Lifeless Lisa (not pictured), Creepy Holden (not pictured) and Restless Arm (pictured).
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The coolest of the bunch is easily the restless arm. It just makes sense. Do you want a zombie with a comical green afro or do you want a creepy hand coming out the ground of what looks to be a weed-ridden cemetery? I was tempted to buy the restless arm but then I remembered that I’ve never owned a Chia product before and decided to keep it that way.

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I went shopping for Halloween stuff today. I bought one mask and then took a lot of pictures of food.

September 1st is always the start of Halloween season for myself and many others and once again this year I’m going to recommend you Dinosaur Dracula, Review the World and I-Mockery for all kinds of cool Halloween related posts over the next two months.

Back to me.

I decided late this afternoon to go on a run around town to browse the Halloween section at various stores. The exception being I decided to ignore big box stores like Walmart and Target because I know they are slowly bring in Halloween items and haven’t gone full bore yet. So, I decided I was going to hit up a few shops I rarely ever go to. Namely, K-Mart, Party City (of which I always make multiple trips to during the Halloween season and then ignore it for the other 10 months out of the year) and then maybe a Family Dollar or a General Dollar. Are both of those Dollar stores owned by the same company? They’ve always seemed interchangeable to me. You’ll find the same cheap products, clearance items and nearly expired food at each place.

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Transformers: Fall of Cybertron [Review]

Initially, I was going to place my thoughts on this game in a catch-all type of blog post regarding various topics, but I rambled on so much that this game needed its own post. transformers-fall-of-cybertron-ps3-boxart

 Transformers: Fall of Cybertron (2012) Buy the game at Amazon.com

Let me start off by saying I love, love, LOVE this game. Transformers: War for Cybertron was fun, but this is so much better. It’s essentially the same game-play but with a better variety of playable characters, abilities and levels. It took me two years to finally buy and play this game as I’d been waiting on a price drop, but the wait was worth it.

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Hollywood Goes to War: Hollywood Canteen, This Is the Army & Stage Door Canteen

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My original intention was to have this posted on the Fourth of July (I never call it Independence Day) and have a nice little patriotic theme going. I’m a little late. I intended to have it in the bag and scheduled to go the morning of July 4th, but Netflix sent me a damaged disc last week and that set me back a few days while waiting for a replacement. Plus, schoolwork. Plus, workwork. Plus, I hate myself and can’t do anything right. Well, there’s always next year for the other movies I had intended to review!

So here’s the deal: during World War II, Hollywood and the government rallied together with all kinds of fundraisers and, basically, what amounted to propaganda films in order to work the country up into a patriotic fervor. The idea was to inspire Americans to give the war their fullest support and to encourage them do all they could over here to support the boys over there. I thought it would be fun to watch a bunch of these films in a relatively short time and then talk about them. Whether it’ll be fun for anyone to read is another matter.

Oh, and be sure to check out what I had to say about another patriotic WWII-era film– Star Spangled Rhythm! Now, here we go…

61jd6LUCHDLHollywood Canteen
1944, Warner Bros. Pictures
Buy the movie

The Hollywood Canteen was a real place located in (duh) Hollywood, California. It opened in October 3, 1942 and closed November 22, 1945. It catered exclusively to servicemen and featured dancing, food and entertainment. On any given night, you could find members of Hollywood performing, cooking, cleaning, serving food or simply chatting with the servicemen. Actors Bette Davis and John Garfield are considered the driving forces behind the Hollywood Canteen. Basically, any notable musician or actor volunteered his or her time at the Canteen.

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King Kong Escapes [Blu-ray Review]

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King Kong Escapes [Blu-ray]
2014, Universal Home Studios Entertainment
Original Release: 1968, Universal Pictures/Toho Co., Ltd.
Buy the movie

I have many geeky interests but in regards to the likes of King Kong and Godzilla, it’s always been a passing interest. I have not seen all of the Toho monster films and while I’ve seen the original 1933 King Kong (and just recently King Kong vs. Godzilla), I don’t profess any great love or knowledge of the character or the various King Kong remakes that have happened over the years. I’ve never even had an interest in watching the Peter Jackson version of King Kong.

I typically rent movies either via the public library or Netflix but I bought this one. Why? Well, the truth is I forgot the DVD was available through Netflix (it was even in my queue), so I ended up ordering the Blu-ray version through Amazon for $9.96. That’s okay though because I then remembered that Toho had teamed up with none other than Rankin/Bass Productions in the making of this movie. Yep! The same company that brought us countless classic holiday specials featuring Rudolph, Santa and Frosty also had a hand in producing a Japanese monster movie with the studio that created Godzilla.

Oh! By the way, one interesting and annoying thing about this release is that is has no menu screen! If you pop this disc in, you’re done. You better have your popcorn popped, have already gone to the bathroom and be ready to watch the movie. That is, unless you’re willing to sit through all of the copyright and legal notices so that you can pause the movie and then go do whatever else you have to do.

It’s 2014. Who sets up a movie disc like this? I could understand maybe if this was a cheap public domain release but this was released through Universal so I would’ve thought they’d do a better job by giving us a start menu and at least a theatrical trailer.

Anyway…

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How awesome is this poster?

Let’s go back to Toho for a minute. Immediately after the success of King Kong vs. Godzilla, Toho wanted to do another King Kong vs. Godzilla movie and build an entire series around Kong except they couldn’t secure the rights from RKO Pictures to do so. A few years go by and by this point Rankin/Bass had licensed the character for a King Kong cartoon that aired on ABC from 1966-1969. Rankin/Bass and Toho decided to work together to produce a new Kong movie that would be loosely based on the cartoon (though this movie is pretty violent at times) and also take inspiration from the original 1933 King Kong film.

All you have to do is look at King Kong and his robotic counterpart Mechani-Kong to see the Rankin/Bass influence. Mechani-Kong is pretty cartoony-looking and King Kong reminds me a lot of Bumble from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

Having King Kong battle Godzilla is a greatly insane and insanely great idea but I prefer King Kong Escapes. Both movies are pretty ridiculous but this one held my attention. King Kong vs. Godzilla is a bad movie. The fight scenes are fun to watch but overall, it’s not good. King Kong Escapes fares better as it really does have that Saturday morning cartoon feel to it. Sure, the evil Dr. Who (not the Doctor Who) shoots a woman to death, but his whole deal is so silly that the plot really does belong on Saturday mornings.

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U.S. poster

After the release of this movie, Toho had plans to incorporate King Kong into 1968’s Destroy All Monsters but their license was about the expire so they did not. They did end up using Gorosaurus in that movie though (that’s the dinosaur on the Japanese poster). In the early ’90s, Toho briefly considered using Mechani-Kong to battle Godzilla but, again, licensing issues prevented that.

It’s a shame, too, because the two Toho King Kong movies are interesting. You can put Kong in more situations than you can with Godzilla, I think. Godzilla is so slow and immobile. He basically just shuffles along waiting to smack something with his tail or unleash his atomic breath on but Kong can run, jump, climb and swing his fists (but sorry, no electricity-based powers for this version of Kong).

For the Rankin/Bass connection, this movie was worth $10 to me. For anyone else who is a monster movie fan, this is worth a look.