Mask Maker throws every single cliche around like pennies in the horror fountain, yet still you come away disturbed and a little shaken by this old style slasher. ‘Guy kills and then wears their faces’ – yes yes, it sounds just like Texas Chainsaw Massacre, but rather than aping the Hooper classic, both films are heavily influenced by the same tale – the real life horrorshow Ed Gein.
Outside of the mask motif, Mask Maker features everything you would expect from an 80’s slasher, despite being made three decades later – the joker who scares everyone before being rudely awakened by the real scary entity; the horny couple getting it on in the barn because nothing bad ever happens in barns in these sorts of films, right? There’s some good pitchfork stabbing bringing to mind Friday The 13th Part III and as per the rules that the late great Wes Craven laid down to us in Scream, if you have sex, you are going to die. Speaking of Craven, the iconic star of The Hills Have Eyes (and lest we forget, the video to Motley Crue’s Smoking In The Boys Room) Michael Berryman turns up, this time playing the only gentle and decent character in the whole shebang and he seems to be relishing this unusual role.
The Villain is ominously silent, again bringing to mind TCM, but this works in the same way as Jason Voorhees as it helps to not have a killer coming up with one liners, just concentrating on filleting as many teens as possible. Some of the most disturbing scenes have him ripping the faces off characters and then, unlike Leatherface who crafted and sewed pieces of flesh together (as did Gein, who even made a lampshade out of victims), simply pulling the skin over his head. This could easily have become laughable (see Men In Black) but actually it is incredibly disturbing to see faces you’d previously seen laughing and joking now stretched and out of shape.
Sure there might not be a jot of originality here, but there are a fair few scares, a decent antagonist and a doozy of an ending so you’ll have fun if you allow yourself to. A definite popcorn and a beer movie, which some nights is all you want.
TLC, in the build up, has been the lamest of Pay Per View ducks – even a week before we still didn’t have much announced, the go home show was throwing together matches that looked like something Vince picked out of a hat to go on an old episode of Superstars. The only good selling point was the return of The Shield, one of my favourite factions of all time, that was enough to make me watch. Now the match is altered – no Roman Reigns therefore no Shield. Kurt Angle is replacing him, which seems a strange choice in 2017 but maybe that is because I was never a fan of Angle when he was at the top of his game, but I notice my Twitter feed is lt up with fans celebrating this as I would if Hogan came back, so I admit I am in the minority on this one – but hey, this is my blog so I’ll point out I now shrug at the thought of the headliner.
But wait! Now we DO have an essential match, thanks to another absence. The jokey looking Balor vs Wyatt, sorry The Demon vs Sister Abigail is off thanks to Wyatt being out. Does this mean we also get to avoid the Pumpkin King Balor that we saw on the go home show? Hopefully – ‘The Demon, now…for kids!”. NO. Instead we get one of the most wanted matches from the hardcore fans of recent years, Balor Vs AJ Styles. HOLY SH!T. AMAZING. Again, I am not sure what Styles is doing on Raw, but I am super glad to see him whatever the hell he is doing there.
And the rest of the bill? Hmmm, still many shrugs, the women’s title match might have some good spots, both James and Bliss are always entertaining so together they could be the surprise of the night. My two least favourite wrestlers in the world are Rich Swann and Cedric Alexander so seeing those two team up will be my ‘getting coffee’ moment. Back to that show we don’t watch boys and jesus, take Kalisto Vs Amore with you on the way out.
I cannot wait to see Asuka under the bright lights of the main roster and expect her to roll over Emma very very quickly but mostly I am hoping that the Empress Of Tomorrow manages to succeed just as she did back in Triple H land not get lost in the shuffle like Bayley.
The biggest thing we should say, the elephant in the room ON A PPV CALLED TABLES LADDERS AND CHAIRS is that there are no table matches, no chair matches and zero ladder matches on a PPV that normally has all of them represented. Sure the headliner is a TLC match itself, but older grapplers like Kane and Angle are not going to be asked to perform the sort of insane spots we remember from the days of 3D and Edge and Christian. Why not make James/Bliss a tables match? Enzo and Kalisto surely screams ladder match. See Vinnie Mac, this booking is easy – it almost feels as if they are already looking forward to Wrestlemania and forgetting to set all those stories up in these smaller PPVs that sometimes turn out better than the overbooked big four. Having said that Lesnar/Mahal at Survivor Series. Hey! Let’s moan about the dullness of that when it gets closer and hope that TLC surprises rather than underwhelms. I just want all the Pay Per Views to be exciting essential matches where feuds come to a head. Perhaps the answer is to make them once every two months or even more spaced out. Sometimes less is more and this is definitely a case of that, we already get five hours of main roster action each week and an hour of NXT so I am sure that Vince will still have all the eyes that the advertisers might want and people will buy The WWE Network still, especially if all the efforts are put into the weekly shows rather than the obviously smaller Pay Per Views. Having said that, Vince probably knows that I will turn it on as soon as I get back from work on Monday morning, so hey, maybe I’m part of the problem too. 😉
“You wanna make a circus? You got a circus. I’ll rain on your parade, Jack. You’ll see a thunderstorm. This will not be the little drama you’ve arranged.”
Before I talk about the brilliance of Man VS Snake, let’s first look at one of the characters here that I have always admired, Walter Day. If you are a videogame freak like me then perhaps you know the name, but others might wonder why I admire this wirey old fella in the referee’s shirt so much. I think it is probably thanks to my history with videogames, from being young and my dad’s cafe being the place in town to come to play the latest games with every teen in town saving up his/her ten pences to enjoy the newest pixellated adventure. This probably sounds quite quaint to younger readers who now have ultra powerful consoles at home that can give you a hundred hours of cinematic gameplay without breaking a sweat. But in the old days (alright Grandpa!) it was just you and the machine, in the arcade, no continues, ten pence to gain immortality.
Sure that might sound romantic, but it is thanks to Walter Day that this can be taken literally. Walter loved video arcades so much that he decided to open one as an excuse to play even more games and here he watched the local kids become icons to the other youths gathering round the machine to check the high score. But who was the best? Again this was answered by Day when he began collecting the top scores from gamers all over the world, creating the Twin Galaxies list of the official best ever totals. I remember how great it was when I was Retro Games Editor of Games TM Magazine (officially listed in the first issue of my contributions under the title Retro Kendall, as, when would there ever be another?) and I would see emails from Walter Day pop up in inbox telling me about Pac-Man contests, or Joust marathons or whatever was happening in the video game world. Amazing.
Now Walter Day is kinda responsible then for Man VS Snake, an excellent documentary about man against machine, every bit as exciting as a big sports event with an equally fanatical audience. Day talks about the fact that in the game Nibbler, it is possible to reach one billion points, the first game to roll over to such a high number (also sounding quaint these days, but really, who was going to play Nibbler for the 35 or 36 hours you would need to reach that score? Oh wait, here’s one…) and once this is known, the best players want to be the guy that breaks the record. Enter Tim McVey (“He’s a lovely guy. Not a terrorist, no.”) who in 1984 became the first man to pass that target. You might think he would be the only one, but soon there is another and…well, I won’t spoil the multiple twists and turns that you will not see coming as one man, who holds down a 10 hour a day full time job, waits for his 3 or 4 day holidays to attempt the record again. It is thrilling watching the scores rack up and imagining how a man’s body feels after 36 hours in front of a machine. On a single quarter.
Man VS Snake sits up there with King Of Kong as a videogame masterwork and Billy Mitchell who you will remember as ‘the bad guy’ in KOK is here portraying his lighter side, cheering Tim on along with the rest of us as he chases his dream.
Watch out though, after watching it, all you are going to want to do is play Nibbler! 🙂
1. Twist – Knuckle Puck
2. Butterfly – Mansun
3. Weekend Woman – Weezer
4. Yes – Manic Street Preachers
5. Who’s Wearing The Trousers – Paul Draper
6. PS Fuck You – The Anchoress
7. Back In Your Head – Tegan And Sara / Ryan Adams
8. Welcome To New York – Taylor Swift
9. Glorious – CFO$
10. Dance Dance – Fall Out Boy
Only a couple of weeks until we can return to the Saw universe. Cannot wait!