Archive for July, 2013


When you start out as a writer, you either A: produce terrible content, or B: rush things out without reading over them.

As it happens, I did both.

I (less than) proudly present:

Henchman.

-Fiachra

Sovo, attempting to look inconspicuous, pulled the collar of his trench-coat closer as he walked down a side alley of town. The snowy town of Glacia wasn’t a place you could go unnoticed easily in, one reason being the size of it, and another being that every resident would stare a stranger down as they passed, searching for anything to identify them by. What they would do next would depend on whether or not they had a certain badge pinned to your lapel, which in Sovo’s case, he did. “Still”, he thought, his mind wandering in an attempt to shrug off the sharp eastern European winter, “never hurts to be careful” and considering what came next, and how long it had taken him to get to here, he wouldn’t want anyone following him yet.

For 6 months, S.I.S, (or MI6 as the British public affectionately called it) had briefed and trained him to play one of the most convincing roles he could. At the cost of several other agents, a link had been made between their target, going under the alias of ‘Reeve’ and the privately owned military company known as ‘Boreal Security’ a well known private military contractor that had been involved with shady figures throughout its history, despite its board of directors’ and their own army of lawyers’ claims of innocence. For those 6 months, Sovo had been trained in Boreal’s method’s of fighting, built up a lifetime of back story as a vengeful northerner from a poverty-stricken family, and had been inserted into the ranks of Boreal, where he made a name for himself, and earned his badge, a badge which the locals of Glacia feared and hated

He, of course, was forced to kill to get to where he was. Some had been innocent, some not. All where necessary to ensure his cover wasn’t blown. To ensure he could be here, today, sneaking through a back water town where Reeve had made his complex, hoping to make it to the warehouse where Aaren had promised to meet. Where he could send the first communication back to S.I.S in a year. Once he had done that, they could formulate a plan to trap Reeve here. But everything hung on getting that call out.

The man he was meeting, Aaren, was a local of the town, and had been brought on by Reeve as a lieutenant, due to his skill with computers. After he had shot Aaren’s brother dead, of course. Aaren had particular disdain for Reeve, which gave Sovo cause to trust him. After agreeing to meet him, Aaren had promised to get a line back to S.I.S with the information on how to, that Sovo gave him.

As the alley curved back into the main road, Sovo snapped back into the present. Except for several whispering town members, this part look utterly devoid of Boreal troops. But Sovo couldn’t focus on this small note.

The Warehouse was right in front of him.

Inside, the cold air became no warmer, and Sovo still fidgeted with his collar. The air inside the warehouse tasted of copper, as metal crates stacked on top of one another rusted into piles of dust. The building was decrepit, and worn with age. Sovo flicked a light switch at the door, which dimly illuminated the rows of crates that were piled around him. The Cold winds had shattered one of the windows, and snow was visible on top of some of the crates. Aaren was no where to be found

Passing by one row of crates, he heard the groan of metal. Spinning around, he was met with the sight of empty air. Nothing.

Giving a nervous chuckle, Sovo, returned to his search for Aaren. This was quickly spiraling downwards. If Aaren had not shown up, than he had no way of communicating with S.I.S. Or worse, Aaren had gone to Reeve with the hope that by turning Sovo in, he could gain more power in Reeve’s operations.

Panic started to flood Sovo’s mind. His training was good, but after a year, he was a wreck. He needed to find Aaren, if he was here, and fast.

That’s when he noticed a figure leaning over a lump in the corner, next to an old payphone.

Despite this curious scene, relief washed over Sovo starting toward the figure, he noticed a few things. The man was tall, widely built, with what appeared to be a white motorcycle helmet on his head, over white standard Boreal fatigues. Specks of red dotted his side, and as he turned to meet Sovo, the lump came more into view, looking much more humanoid.

It was a body. Aaren’s body.

Sovo stopped as the assailant stared at him. Then he raised and opened his clenched fist, revealing phone receiver, torn from the pay phone.

The man cocked his head, grunted, then ran right at Sovo.

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Zombies, necromorphs, the walking dead, the dearly un-departed, voodoo men, the ‘infected’, dubstep fans. That guy from Miami.

A writer/producer’s greatest aid, and their worst nightmare.

I suppose the divide between hate and love for those that walk amongst the living is scarily even. On one end of the zombie spectrum, you have an army/horde of creatures who have tasted death, and have refused it’s full meal. Soldiers, animals, that will never tire, never complain, who ‘live’ for the next meal.

On the other, you have a bunch of shambling buffoons who smell like your grandmother.

Yeah, and everybody says vampires are uncool nowadays.

Surprisingly, zombies have managed to somewhat weather through the s**t-storm that horror failed to predict. It’s only been recently that zombies have progressed backwards, and even that’s putting harshly. Instead of being mocked directly, like most horror elements, it’s more about the SITUATIONS they’re put into.

Everyone likes a zombie, you may say you don’t, but come on, who doesn’t appreciate the idea of a zombie. Something so vile even hell is like ‘Ain’t nobody got time for that.’ a loved one, ready to be embraced by an ecstatic family member, and ready to sinks it’s teeth into aforementioned member’s shoulder

‘Oh sweet Marie, after all these years you’ve come ba…’(This is proceeded with screams and crunching, and… other… noises)

But for every pro, there is a con. Zombies don’t really have a place in horror. They serve too many different role, depending on the film, video game, book, etc.

However the biggest problem when it comes to zombies, for all their roles and variations, the trouble with zombies is: What do you you do with them? Wha… where do they go, I mean…

Look at it this way: Your writing a screenplay for a movie, or a book, you’ve set you undead creations loose on your fictional world and then what?

‘Well, you tell the story of the survivors, and how the…’

At that point, it is not about the zombies is it? You’re telling a horror story, sure, but the more focus you give your ‘survivors’ personality, depth, the zombies are out the window. They are now a trial, an obstacle to be overcome in the apocalypse. Whereas in something like, say, Left 4 Dead (I know they’re ‘The Infected, I’ll get to that) The survivors past and personality is hinted at, but it isn’t the main theme. The zombies and the world they inhabit are. If it was about the survivors, it would be a less-than-entertaining video game, wouldn’t it?

It’s more akin to ‘The Walking Dead’ at the point, which is about as much a comic book about zombies than ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ is about bird hunting.

‘But zombies still feature predominantly in ‘The Walking Dead’. It’s even named after them!’

True, I suppose, but did you really keep reading after the first volume to see the zombies? Not to say that The Walking Dead is bad, its amazing, but as Rick would put it:

And this leads us back to the original argument: Zombies are just another piece in the puzzle, but they don’t fit anywhere. It’s always fun to unleash the horde, but at that point, it’s difficult to use them in any way that’s interesting. You have a pile of corpses, nowhere to put ‘em.

So then you ask yourself, if you don’t use them, then what’s the point of having them? Well, I suppose the best thing to do is to accept the inevitable: zombies are not able to support themselves as an element of horror on their own, so just make sure they do good in movies that don’t really focus on them. Evil Dead had zombie-type possessed, The Walking Dead is going strong. Zombies, however bad it may seem, are still popular.

As long as their in the corner of your eye, and not chomping on your neck.

If you want to explore the topic a little more, I’d really suggest you check out this episode of Extra Credits, a usually video game oriented show that had a little debate on zombies themselves. It’s worth it, trust me.

I’ve been blogging for approximately a year and a half, on various platforms and with various people, but I’ve always blogged in a sort of bubble, never really getting to know others around me. I desperately want to change this. Blogging is such a social form of writing, so much more so than journalism or fiction. It requires a vocal community, and I need to be vocal.

So one step I’ve decided to make in making myself more vocal in my writing is promoting you lot, making sure others like me are seen and heard. I want to make you vocal as well. So if you have a blog, or your friends do, or someone you’ve never met has a blog you find great, send it to me. I’ll mention you (or not, if you want) and the blog in one of my my posts. Hopefully this will inspire me to take an active stance in the community here. I look forward to your suggestions 🙂

If you were curious as to why there was no post yesterday, I actually have a valid reason for it this time around, the reason being that I was out for most of the day working on the set of a local short film, Cathy’s Mate

I can’t give away much at this stage, other than it’s a romance film in a similar vein to John Green’s ‘The Fault in Our  Stars’ and that I’m in it (As Cathy’s Mate). But so far it is looking absolutely fantastic, and we have an amazing cast and crew working on the film. Expect great things.

Unless, you know, you’ve been too preoccupied to notice. Like you’ve been too busy at the Steam Summer Sales, or as I call it, Internet Black Friday…

Wait, I just found out about Cyber Monday

Internet Black Friday’s already a thing.

Shit.

Nevertheless, Steam, an online games service, has now started its Summer sales, which slice prices down to ridiculously good deals, and regularly make wallets and bank accounts scream and run for their lives. I’ve usually found two separate opinions when it comes to the sales, the first being mind numbing, wallet shredding joy:

The second being, well, this:

Whatever the case is, this is your chance to spend any money that’s been burning a hole in your pocket, and buy a million games that you may or may not play. Some amazing titles that The Giant Bomb forums have suggested are Ship Simulator Extremes, Secret of The Magic Crystals and Tunnel Rats.

Enjoy your new games 😉

-Fiachra

 

 

 

 

 

Weather

Dear Saul,

When you live in a country like Ireland, you usually take what you can get when it come to weather. It’s usually rainy, windy, or some other negative adjective ending in ‘y’. Whatever sunshine or heat we can get, we’ll take it. We pray for the days where it get’s warmer.

One thing though:

We prayed too much. Waaaaaaaaaaaaay too much.

At the moment things are a sweltering 86 degrees Fahrenheit. Some people wouldn’t complain. For a guy who’s used to things around the 55 degree mark, I would complain. S’too hot. Most people would complain about fiscal policies, or the sectarianism rampant in our religious diversity, or the something to do with the state of the economy that’s now back in a recession…

Me? I’m wondering why no one’s getting free bags of ice…

 

It’s funny how the weather seems to rule your train of thought at it’s worst. I could have written about any topic today, anything, something about morals, another short story, but it’s so hot I have nothing else on my mind, something rare for a type of person who get’s distracted so easily.  It doesn’t even have to be something serious, like a hurricane. Even a heatwave will distract the news. They’ll focus entire stories on it.  The weather impacts our daily lives, impacts our work, and distracts us from even the simplest of tasks.

How do we cope? well, given that Ireland barely has these heatwaves for a short amount of time, most people will enjoy, complain that it’s too hot, complain that people were complaining it was too cold earlier and are now complaining it’s too hot, etc. and then move on. But for the next few days, it’ll be all anyone talks, about, it’ll be the first thing we’ll mention in a conversation, and it’ll be the first topic that comes to mind when writing a blog post 😉

Yours, sweltering-ly,

Fiachra

Well, it’s a new record, I made 2 posts, then decided to bugger off again for a week.

Nonononononononoooo, it’s not you, it’s me. Okay, it might be you, but it’s at least, 40% me. At least a fifth.

Sadly, I’ll be out of town for a week, but hopefully I’ll get a chance to upload something, even if it’s merely another old ‘That’s Horror-ble’

Oh, haven’t seen yet? My latest upload was from an old tumblr series I wrote on horror tropes, from zombies to found footage. It’s was pretty good, and I thought I would bring the series, cleaned up and re-written, to here, along with some new ones. Hopefully you guys’ll like it and not castrate me, and call me names, and all that jazz. The first one is about how horror had changed nowadays. Sadly, it hasn’t gone well, but maybe I can’t make things a little funnier as it spirals down the toilet.

Guess you could say I…

took the piss…

Lastly, do you like fame? Do you feel triumphant from crushing other contestants under you heel? Are you, like Charlie Sheen, fond of the concept of ‘winning’? Then do I have the competitions for you!

Several blogger friends of mine have decided to host several contests, and YOU CAN ENTER THEM ALL.

the contests and prizes are various, but I would strongly recommend you enter them, not just for your own personal glory, not just to promote healthy competition and make friends, but to batter each other down so that I can sweep in and claim glory for myself.

And I’m sure you’ll do a fine job too 😉

Catherine Ann’s Art Competition

alessergod’s Fiction-Writing Competition

Have fun, don’t send me the prize or anything…

-Fiachra

Dear Saul,

If a friend asked me the age old question ‘What things would you bring to a deserted island?’, I’d probably say ‘A friend who wouldn’t abandon me on a deserted island’, or failing that, ‘a laptop, and a boatload of horror films. And a boat’.

I’ve always adored horror, from the cheesy 80’s slasher’s to the piss-your-pants novels written long before I was around. And during my stint on tumblr, I wrote up on horror tropes in a series I called ‘That’s Horror-ble’ (Catchy, I know). Due to it being tumblr, a long post such as this didn’t work too well, and only a few were made. But I loved the series to death, and after a long time, I’ve decided to bring it here, because why not XD

While I’m working on the new ones, I’ll post up a few older ones alongside my regular talks with you, Saul. So please, enjoy tumblr Fiachra from 2012 🙂
-Fiachra

So you as a 12 year old walks into a video shop, maybe standing on your friends shoulders wearing a trench-coat and fake beard to fake your age, I dunno. And passing by the shelves you see it: Rise of the Unflattering Character from the Slightly Green Lagoon. Sneaking home into your room you put the DVD in and tune in to see:

  • More jump scares than a German coffee advert.
  • A college couple eaten by what appears to be a Neopet during… *wink *wink *nudge *nudge *cough *cough
  • Supposed Lost footage of the MacGuffin family during an attack by a spectral plant.
  • The trip of a life time to Daisy’s ‘Hey, we’re out in the middle of no where, come slaughter us’ forest walk
  • The group of teenagers who split up like they own the fricking Mystery Machine.

An overall, poor experience.

What when wrong then? You just saw a much better scary film the other day, it had you behind the sofa, even if it was an old film. So what went wrong?

Honestly, the genre has pretty much fallen into to the gutter with a bottle of malt liquor. it’s difficult to tell when this actually happened, but it’s easy to tell why. Sometimes, it can even be easily recognized through sequels in a series. Sure, somewhere in there are definite gems of horror film making, but do you want to search through the garbage to find those pearls.

I hope so, because you’ll be there for a while.

For god’s sake, even horror movies THEMSELVES take the piss out of the cliches made by cheap, uninteresting flicks. WES CRAVEN DID IT FOUR TIMES. Now Scream is getting weighed down by repetition.

So how did it all go wrong. How does a horror film turn a young, hopeful director into an Uwe Boll clone?

These are just a few of my guesses:

1. Terror & Horror

The most important elements in horror media are-and I kid you not- terror and horror.

Genius.

Hear me out. You may be wondering ‘Well, what’s the difference?’ That’s easy to explain:

Have you ever had a dream where you hear something veeeerrry close by, but you just can’t see it? Or when the door closes by itself? Or you walk into a room and a smell hits you that makes you just want to turn tail and flee?

That feeling of apprehension is terror.The fear of the unknown, the yet-to-happen, of the thing that goes bump in the night.

Whereas horror is more the heart pounding, wet yer knickers, AUGHGODITGOTLITTLESTEVIE moments. When the beast finally breaks down the door and you see it for all its grotesque majesty.

Yep, time to leave.

Terror is easier to do is writing than in film. In film, you are limited to using audio and visual elements to scare the viewer. While this makes full-on horror scares easy to do (and some filmmakers do them very well) build-ups and suspense become a chore, and are sometimes thrown out of the picture all together. In writing, you have everything: sight, sound, touch, smell, emotions, down to the tiniest detail. In the hands of the right person, words can easily become nightmares. Even then, full on scares require thought, and if done wrong, flop completely.

So what does this have to do with the genre now? Well, everything really. Having a balanced amount of the two is difficult. too few real scares and you eventually get used to the tension, and it becomes boring. Too many horror jump scares, and… well nearly every modern horror film is testimony to that.

Before high-budget flicks, movies relied on terror to produce good scares, so as to save money. Night of the Living Dead had a budget of $114,000, miniscule by today’s standards. Hammer Horror Films average budget was around $70,000.

So the excuse for today MAY well be ‘We have too much money’. They don’t really need to worry, so they use scary-scares to scare the scared, but don’t scare the not-easily scared, because they’re not scared by the scary-scares like the scared, who are easily scared by the scary scares.

2. Repetition

The cardinal sin of entertainment. The first thing you must avoid when making anything, a movie, book, t.v show, hell, a frickin’ smoke signal, is repetition. Because NO ONE likes repetition.

Because NO ONE likes repetition.

Easy joke, moving on…

But honestly, it’s a pain when you have to watch the same thing over, and over, with minimum change, especially in something that’s designed to frighten you. It ruins the immersion, and if it’s really bad, it turns the rest of the movie sour.

Repetition easily occurs within films of the same franchise, especially nowadays. Every major series, Saw, Hellraiser, Paranormal Activity, Halloween, Scream, Elm Street, everything at some point has suffered repetition at some point in their lives.

*Cough Living Dead series *cough

Sorry, bad coug… *Cough Films about exorcisms *hack

Should probably get that checked…

And don’t give me that ‘There are no more original ideas’ crap. Of course there are new ideas. Take an existing idea and mess around with it to create something unique. Old movies could keep things fresh, so there’s no reason why modern film can’t.

But the worst perpetrators are found footage films. A recent creation of modern horror started by a film about cannibals. Yeah, great start to a new genre. But Once Blair Witch became a hit, the shaky-camera floodgates were opened.

Some of them are fine. Blair Witch was good. Troll Hunter was good (I secretly adore Troll Hunter, but I don’t want to sound biased, so I won’t go on about it) and Cloverfield… well I shouldn’t get motion sickness when watching a film, but it was good. But it’s THE SAME PREMISE ALL THE TIME:

Troll Hunter: College mates go out shooting a documentary. They find nasty monsters.

Evil Things: College mates go out, one is shooting an amateur film. They find nasty people.

The Tunnel: Documentary team go into abandoned tunnels. Guess what? Nasty monster.

Grave Encounters: Reality t.v – turned – nasty monster-mania.

Project X: Teenagers. Documentary of party. Nasty people.

YES PROJECT X A HORROR FILM. SO BAD IT SCARED ME AHAHAHAHAHA.

Sadly, ‘fresh’ and ‘new’ aren’t words in horror. ‘safe’ and ‘easy profit’ certainly are. It’s sad how little directors are willing to risk just because they don’t want to lose money. Hopefully this will change soon. Even books on horror are starting to seem to familiar…

Uh oh, looks like she’s found out the cameraman’s drunk again. That, or she can’t find the plot.

3. The Villain

You’ve seen zombies, aliens, monsters, the whole shebang. These are common today, and in the past. But lemme ask you something: When was the last time any of them spoke?

This is more common than you think. So many of today’s horror films and video games have no proper villain. Sure, it’s scary having something monstrous and primal that you don’t understand chase you, but when was the last time someone or something had more charisma, or more of a personality than The likes of Norman Bates or old Freddy Krueger? (Not the ‘Your on Prime time!’ Krueger, thats for sure)

Something to be truly scared of is something that thinks, something that knows what it’s doing, and is proud of it. Something that gloats on how it will win, and you know it’s right. Bates has such a good personality (or personalities, if you’re feeling meticulous) and very few films can recreate him, just like with many popular 20th century killers: Hannibal Lecter, Voorhees, ghostface, and so on. Many try through reboots, remakes or straight-up new creations, but they just don’t have enough character to support themselves. Most just end up being 2-dimensional killers, or worse, not scary. Being hunted by something is the most primal fear of all and if a movie fails at that, then it doesn’t deserve the money it brings in.

And one other thing: Puppets and Food are not scary. I’m not afraid of something that I can either put in my mouth or something I can put my hand up into.

Wait that came out wrong.

4.- 50.
In the interest of length, I wanted to use just my main gripes with the genre, but there’s so much more I could argue about. Bad acting, poor design, plot holes, macguffins and deus ex machinas, generic and convoluted stories….

*Sigh…

I dunno, I just want the genre to get out of the gutter, and put down the malt. I want to be afraid of the dark again, not just afraid that the next advert I see is for K-fee. I want to have a reason to hide behind the couch again like a big girl’s blouse.

‘Who knows, maybe directors will start to realise that what they’re currently doing just isn’t working for anyone. They’re losing money, and we’re losing interest. Hopefully this is just a bad bend in the road to recovery. Maybe Hammer Horror will start putting out better films one day, and we can all be afraid once the sun goes down

‘till that day, I have plenty of things to talk about, so I’ll just keep writing to keep myself (and hopefully you guys) amused.

-Fiachra

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