My Video Game Shopping List: Video Games to Cool Down in Summertime

We had a heatwave which made it unbearable to play games without sweating and most older apartments and houses where I am from don’t come equipped with AC. Typically, the temperature tends to be on the mild side throughout the entire year. This year was odd. It was unusually cold in the winter and scourging hot in the summer. Luckily, it was only brief. Call it Global Warming or it’s just Mother Nature’s way of throwing a tantrum and trying to burn things alive and reduce it back to ashes–I need to find games that will cool me down quick, and not burn me. Even just looking at a burning building in Sekirko: Shadows Die Twice, I feel dehydrated. As a result, there’s not much I could do other than literally be a couch potato with an ice pack on my forehead, drinking iced water to keep cool. No seriously, I was on the couch staring at my ceiling-fan spinning round and round like a merry-go-round. The heat was slowly turning me crazy.

I am back with my 3-list post. I browse games and window shop all the time for games. Writing this 3 list post is always fun for me and it gives me a break from thinking things too deeply. So let’s go! What’s in my shopping bag?

1)Tales of the Black Forest

There’s no mystery by now if you have been following this blog that I really do love horror–the suspense and emotional stories that come with it always make me feel as if I gained something out of it and that is appreciating life. Want me to elaborate on what I meant by that? Check out my Kwaidan‘s analyses where I break down the stories and defined horror. So, when I find a horror game that looks interesting to me, I automatically put in my shopping list. Tales of the Black Forest made it on my list for the price which is currently $1.59 on Steam. It’s a deal, I think. Whether you are on the budget or not as I am at the moment due to moving expenses–this is a deal worth checking out.

2) ABZU

I got this game for “free” for having PlayStation Plus. It’s one of those free games that sits in your library as long as you are a member. On Steam it is currently $9.99. I don’t really think it’s a bad price for the content. Normally, I don’t play this sort of game to past time, but the summer heat does get to me and I don’t think there is a more perfect game to dump myself in the ocean to feel refresh mentally.

3) Ori and the Will of the Wisps

I have seen a couple gameplays and bloggers writing about this game and I have always wanted to play it. If I were to make a video game purchase, I think I’d go for this one which is currently $14.99 on Steam. The visual is stunningly beautiful and the adventure, I am sure, will help me escape from the summer’s heat. In addition, the undertone of the plot seems positively mystical, which is something I prefer lately. With all the chaos going on, watching Death Note the anime got to me. I’m not in the mood for a battle of the wit where teenagers make big godly life decisions over another life or simply I’m just not in the mood for dark content at the moment. I still have a couple of more episodes to go before I give it a proper assessment.

Well, that’s it for my 3-list post. It was fun looking for games to play like always. Now I just need to sit through and play one of them. Currently, I am playing Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice. Playing a calmer game on the side might balance things out for me. There are times, I cannot sit and play for a long time because of the heat. And then I often wonder in my youth why my favorite season has always been fall.

P.S

I did not purchase any of the games above but decided to resume Dragon Quest XI. Game has a calming effect compared to Sekiro for obvious reasons.

Spirit Hunter NG Review: Let’s Play a Game with the Evil Doll

The next time I feel like wallowing up in my misery, I will just head to the bar and get a glass of drink to numb my pain. Like Halsdoll’s Diner (a.k.a. my blog), the bar in this game called Black Rabbit Bar serves as a hub for broken people like myself to hang out: Drink your misery away and eat as many chips as you want. Timeout from reality is the place to unwind. Doesn’t it sound like a catchy line to attract customers? Well, what’s so comical is that like the owner of the bar, I don’t make the effort in trying to attract customers (readers) to my blog. Instead, I play video games like I’m consuming alcoholic beverages. I spend more time playing and rearranging my thoughts than finding people to read. So hanging out in my empty diner in this blazing hot summer evenings is the norm for me because I never liked crowded places, unless it’s dim and “secluded” where I can’t see people’s faces like the Beach House concert at the Moore Theatre I went to back in 2019.

Yes, Spirit Hunter NG is  thematically refreshing for a horror visual novel and I kind of like that more than the storytelling and for the game experience.  The game becomes more like an art piece waiting to be admired and captivated by the viewer. Why you may wonder? Because sometimes I just like hearing the creators’ voice when they assert their thoughts and emotion into a piece of work. It gives me a glimpse of their inner woe. Horror, after all, is really a feeling of ongoing internal conflict. Sounds like the writer was poking fun at horror fans for having to write a horror story for a game:

A stranger’s death dripping with danger and intrigue is a great source of entertainment.

The story follows a “muscle-freak” (borrowing the description from the game) teenage boy by the name of Akira Kijima who happens to be adopted by his aunt, a horror novelist who owns a bar as a side job. Kijima found himself playing a strange game with an evil entity which involved destroying/purifying spirits. He was forced to play a game when the evil doll kidnapped his precious beloved niece (Yes, it’s about saving the damsel. Nothing new here in the story department). Along his journey, he is accompanied by his good friend, a member of the Yakuza and a gothic pop idol. Later down the road, he meets older and more professional folks: a gambler, female cop, and ghost hunter. The variety of age adds maturity to the game which makes it feels less singular and a self-centered experience by providing a third person point of view to the story. There were moments when the side characters point fun at Kijima for his bravery and youthfulness as stupidity. Unlike Root Letter, I didn’t feel as if I was a generic schoolboy, even though I see the story through the main’s character’s eyes. It’s something video game as a medium have a hard time executing because when you play the main character, you walk in his or her shoes and your perspective as the player is skewed. I like that I’m able to separate myself from the character. But what really intrigued me about the story is the villain, the eternal doll who wants to play and who does not always play fairly. Well, it wouldn’t be a game if the story doesn’t revolve around a game. I think this is why I like this game compared to some popular visual novel games I’ve played. It sticks to its root.

Now let’s talk about gameplay. Is it fun? Is it scary? Well, yes to both questions but it’s not going to give you nightmare. It’s not that immersive type of horror but more like a thematic haunted house ride you’d find at the fairground. You know the feeling of walking into a haunted house ride, hoping for a good fright? Yes, the game allows the player the option to select Scary Mode for those who want a jump scare experience. Personally, I select default mode and just enjoy the game for what it is. Even without the additional mechanical scare, there were some chilling tales that involved young girls which would strike a chord to any girl who is often accompanied by herself. Girls love fairy tales and fairy tales are not always happy ever after. So stay away from male doctors! Oops, did I say too much? Well I hope I entice you rather than dissuade you from playing the game. Overall, it’s an adventurous game that requires player to select choices carefully without being punished (wrong choice=Game Over). I played with a guide to save time because like most games with multiple endings, it requires the player to select certain choices to unlock a particular ending. I remember spending 69 hours on it. It might be because I left the game running for a long time trying to cook and play at the same time.

For horror fans, this is a game worth playing. Add to your collection of horror games to play because horror is a genre that is difficult to execute in video games. So it’s nice to find a piece of gem. The only thing I didn’t enjoy is the graphic pictures of tortured women. Why was it necessary? It’s a mystery to me.

P.S

I know dolls are scary, but I still love to play with them; that just says a lot about me.

Why I Chose to Blog and Not Vlog as A Female Gamer and What I’ve Learned Along the Way

I finally reached my 100th post a couple weeks ago and it had me thinking where I want to do with my future content or whether I would move to a different platform. That has been on my mind as I do enjoy creating content. But if I want to eventually generate revenue, vlog might be the better option for me to support my craft full-time. I did purchase a SEO handbook but it didn’t apply to what I want to accomplish for this blog. In fact, it left me feeling even more depleted and let’s not even talk about the marketing side, I already feel overwhelmed.

According to the SEO book, which I will not advertise, the success of a blog is measured based on making money. Well, I am far from that. I came into blogging like many people because I enjoy writing as a creative outlet. So the likeliness of making money is pretty darn slim since I’m not writing to a particular audience. As mentioned before, this blog has been a very good friend. Even if it’s just talking into the void as many amateur bloggers would often fear, sometimes it’s nice to get things off the chest as if you are talking to someone. I still have yet a lot to learn how to balance creativity with business if I eventually want to make passive income from what I naturally enjoy doing.

When I started writing for my old blog back in 2016, which actually titled Halsdoll.com, (It really is my pen name inspired by Shakespeare’s play Henry IV: Part II) I just wanted to share poems and connect with like-minded folks or just have someone to talk to. Fellow female bloggers I followed at the time were either students or lonely first-time moms. They enjoyed reading about games but preferred posts about self-care, beauty products haul and books. Those things are enjoyable to read but it is not the content I want to create. All I wanted to do was discuss games and write poems to fill up the quietness of the lonely evenings I had to endure after work. But those days have passed. Now I write with a purpose. Meaningful conversation is hard to come by especially for those who do a lot of solo activities.

I realized there are two types of female gamers: one who plays to past time (no wonder there are so many beautiful women who stream on Twitch) and one who are enthusiast about the medium. I fall into the second group. Finding a group of passionate gamers, especially female players who appreciate game for its creativity and aesthetic is hard. And what made it more alienating is that I am not at all a competitive gamer despite the fact I like fighting and challenging video games. Speed run and rank never meant anything to me in video games, unless I’m working on a trophy just to complete it for completion’s sake. If anything, I’m competitive against myself. I prefer teamwork than competitive play if I have to play with people.

Then I started to cater my writing towards the gaming enthusiasts. Writing for an audience that I am not familiar with was difficult. I had to be mindful of my thoughts but soon begin to feel weary and tired. I did not want to engage in battle of the sexes debate such as objectification of women in video games and neither did I want to make false accusation and assumption about the opposite sex. Labeling people is something I dislike, so I tried to avoid it because it causes prejudice and discrimination, which unfortunately everyone has experienced some form of discrimination in their lifetime. It’s just how the world is. Humans are visual creatures. For instance, I have been referred to being a damsel in distress by many people. I often wonder why that is the case. Then I realize representations in media do matter very much. In fact, if I could pick a video game character I resemble most is Elena from Pandora Tower. She has some form of disability but she makes it up with emotional strength and intelligence. But to the average person, many would assume she is just a silent object or just a support role for the heterosexual male. I personally never thought of her as a silent object. I never thought of myself as one. I thought she was pretty strong. Maybe it’s time for people to reevaluate what strength means, especially in video games.

pandora-tower-weak strong female character

When playing multiplayer games, I noticed the discrimination. As a gamer, I like to play as an offense player. I noticed the authority I get from players when they assumed I’m a guy. It felt nice when they asked for tips and they looked up to me. Rarely do I get a pushback. But if they know I’m female, then the tone becomes a bit different. What I have learned through this experience is that online interaction is just a miniature world of the real world and I don’t know how I feel about it. I think that’s part of the reason why I prefer gaming alone, figuring things out myself. It’s a sense of achievement. However, the downfall of playing alone is that it’s hard to make gaming friends. In the online world, rarely do I see female players discuss games for the sake of games which is why I don’t mind doing my Video Game Shopping List posts. They tend to be more casual and popular among readers. I think the last thing people want to do is read academic papers on video games. As much I love to study, even I get turned off by such content unless it’s insightful and full of humor. Video game is a form of entertainment not some scholarly text.

Playing games by myself made me realize that I once fell into the misconception that being female meant being the weaker sex based on how people treat me in person (well, I can’t blame them because I do travel alone a lot for someone as small as I am). But I learned that my gender has nothing to do how good or bad I am with games. It made me realize that I am as capable as anyone if I set my mind to do something. Discrimination happens when we create a mental shortcut to process information, so it’s natural to think our female kind is the weaker sex, but “weaker sex” has nothing to do with intelligence. Intelligence is just another form of strength. And liking a certain type of game doesn’t reflect superiority. One is more relationship based than strategy based. That’s all there is to it.

“Women love romance-related content. It’s nothing new.”- from √Letter.

√Letter Visual Novel for PS4
There’s some truth to this statement, but overall, it’s a sexist statement. Guys like romance too. That’s what I have learned from reading people’s blog and I think it’s pretty cool.

I guess what I am trying to get at with this whole discrimination talk is that my blog has been a sanctuary for me to express myself, and as a result I am happy. As the saying goes, “Do what you love, and love what you do.” I have been enjoying myself so far, fishing for metaphors (okay that sounds pretty cheesy but I just love to rhyme!) As mentioned earlier, I have considered other platforms so that I could reach the right audience but I like blogging so far because writing helps people become better thinkers. I also learn more through reading anyway when it comes to exchanging information, which is why I chose blogging over vlogging.

I will continue to write about films, T.V shows and books, but niche video games have always been my biggest interest. It’s the game design and the thought process behind the making of games is what intrigued me, but more importantly, it asks tough questions and sees the world from an outsider perspective. For that reason, I always have a lot to say. What I’m really searching for is meaning in the media and that’s what this blog is all about.

I probably won’t publish many gaming content as it requires a decent amount of time gaming and the fact I only play a few games per a year and I play it thoroughly to give it an accurate rating. I mentioned about games because it’s my main hobby and it is just something to be expected in the future for this blog because my backlog is going no where. I could do streaming like most gamers but I don’t see myself as an entertainer. When I play games, I like to take my time. I play to think as oddly as it sounds.

If you are new to my blog, please check out some of my favorite posts I wrote in no particular order:

Thanks for reading. It feels nice to get some stuff off of my chest.

-Halsdoll

Empresses in the Palace (2011) Review: A Political Cat Fight Tale at Its Finest

What a series. Unfortunately I didn’t get to experience the full blown story as the one on Amazon has been condensed and cut. There is a total of 76 episodes. The Amazon Prime only has 6 episodes and they are 1:30 hour long per episode. That means I got to go hunt for the complete series if I want a detailed story.

(I found the series here for streaming on Youtube, but I’d like to get a DVD copy myself.)

Typically, I’m not too fond of Chinese political show because historic fiction sounds pretty dry but this one took me by surprise. This show, based on a novel written by Liu Lianzi, directed by Zheng Xiolong, involves a story about the politics among the concubines who vie for the emperor’s affection. The show slowly unravels the treacherous journey that one most undergo to obtain and protect the power over others by following the eyes of Zhen Huan, an innocent young woman who wishes to marry the finest man and love him devotely but found herself thrown into a destiny against her own wish when she got selected to be one of the emperor’s concubines.

In this show, I watched a detailed rationality of each character’s motivation for power. They are all humans with their own personality and quirks. Everyone is fighting for the emperor’s affection in this seemingly harmonious palace which is far from peaceful. I don’t know which is better–live life as a hungry peasant or sleep in constant fear that someone would silently kill me in my comfortable chamber. I think I’d prefer to be the hungry peasant. Fighting a war with words can be mentally exhausting.

One thing I enjoyed about this show is that there are so many topics and point of views you can extract from this series–just the characters alone. One that stood out to me the most is the topic on loyalty and flattery on how it works as a weapon and when it’s appropriate to deploy it as a mean to protect oneself. The protagonist Zhen Huan demonstrated it well, although in the end it just shows how terrifying human beings can be even the utmost righteous one. She won the favor of the emperor out of all the concubines where she acted out as self-preservation instead of love. After all, it’s the emperor who took the one thing she wanted most out of life and that is to love her husband devotely. Hard to remain loyal when he can turn his back on his cherished cocucubines at the slightest slander which eventually will turn them into a mad swine. You can argue that Zhen Huan is the type of female archtype that makes women look powerful but also sympathetically feminine. She is a benevolent leader but also a terrifying one and above all, realistically human.

Empresses in the Palace is series worth watching because it explores human emotions even the darkest one in a political setting. One always ends up alone in the pursuit of political security. After all, one can never know one’s true destiny until death is near and like the sand, the things we grasp would slip away from our hand. Overall, strong ending. Strong conclusion.

P.S

I might write a full essay on one of the topics on this series in the future for fun. I liked it that much.

Root Letter Review (2016): What Happen to the Cute Schoolgirl?

Do you have insecurities? I think we all do, I’ll let you know mine but once I review this visual novel game, which revolves around the mystery of a schoolgirl disappearance called Root Letter, developed by Kadokawa Games, released in 2016. It tells a story of a high school pen pal who decided to stop writing to you after she confessed in her letter that she killed someone. Something doesn’t add up. The schoolgirl happens to be beautiful, intelligent, and talented but fell tragically ill and passed away. Sounds interesting enough. I was curious to unravel this suspenseful, mystery title that doesn’t contain horror. Watching the trailer helped me decide to pick up this title a few years ago.

Mysterious and adventurous tale mixed with good soundtrack and pretty art style, I just can’t say no to it. In fact, it was refreshing to play something as relaxing as this visual novel despite that it was wrongfully advertised as Young Adult Suspense Thriller. More than anything, it’s quirky and kind of funny. I enjoyed going on an adventure to find out what happen to the high school sweetheart. But you are wondering what does it have to do with insecurities? Well you see, everyone who was mentioned in Aya Fumino’s letter, the disappeared schoolgirl, had some insecurity issues. Her trusted friends are Shorty, Monkey, Snappy, Fatty, Four-Eyes, Bitch, and Bestie. Do you get my point now, how it can be comical? What kind of friend give her close friends such awful nicknames? Well that’s because they got something to hide!

It’s up to the main protagonist to do some serious detective work. Yes, he has to investigate each student closely to find out what really happen to Aya while exposing each character’s insecurity. It’s an interesting game design. There were few times I laughed hard. What’s so funny is I could see myself in all 7 characters. That means I got a lot of work to do in the self-love department.

I enjoyed this game a lot. The plot is serious but the adventure is humorous and light hearted. It’s just something I need from a stressful day. It’s a lot less mentally strenuous on the mind than what I typically play. Root Letter was nice for a change. I played this game back in 2017 I believe and decided to write a review until now.

Now going back to my question about insecurities. Quite frankly, back in my teenage years, I broke out badly on my forehead and throughout all my face. It was so bad that my brothers would make fun of me and called me “Himalaya Mountains”. The cyst pimples were so glaringly noticeable on my face that for a while, I was really self-conscious about my skin. Then as I grew older, l learned to separate myself from my appearance. Like Mona the “Hatchet-Face” from Crybaby, I like to think at least “I got character!”

Thank you for reading. If you enjoy me talking about video games you can follow me on Twitter @Poetry_Huntress for gaming tweets and blog updates.

NieR Replicant ver_1_22474487139 (2021): My Impression

I am going to do something a bit more casual here. I am going to write an impression instead of a review because I am not here to sell you anything but give you my impression of the game as a fellow gamer who is just trying to help out some gamers out there whether you should play this game or not. so I’m too lazy to articulate my thoughts, especially after playing a heavy loaded game like this. I have already put over 60 hours of gameplay into this game. Not going to 100 % it. I did it with Nier Gestalt years ago, but would at least try to 100 % the side quests. Currently, while writing this post, I’m at 83%. Weapons completion is also important as well. This is a story driven game. You would appreciate the story more by completing these tasks.

NieR Replicant ver_1_22474487139 released 2021 of April, is not a remake or a remaster of Nier Gestalt (2010). It’s more closely related to the Japan’s version Nier Replicant which players play as the brother instead of the father. Some additional content have been added to this upgraded version to flesh out the story. So if you have played Nier Gestalt and wonder whether you should purchase it, you should but not at full price. You are not missing much. It’s just less convoluted than the one released in 2010. Perhaps, this is what some players need, a straightforward story?

The upgraded version gameplay feels a lot smoother and fluid like you would play in Nier Automata (2017). Gameplay is very simple: hack and slash with plenty of of weapons and magic to choose from, although let me warn you that gameplay was never the game biggest strength. I stick to one weapon and two magic: Dark Lance and Dark Hand the entire time. As for difficulty settings, there are Normal Mode which is really Easy Mode and Hard Mode. I can only imagine what Easy Mode is like. You’d go through the game without a sweat. Well I can see it being an option, if you are into speed run. Some of the trophies required players to beat a boss with a certain amount of time. And if you are just interested in experiencing the story, then there is no reason to play on Normal or Hard Mode.

Without spoiling the story for those who have not experienced this masterpiece (yes it was a masterpiece in my eyes when I first played it). It’s about a brother who is trying to find a cure to the disease called Black Scrawl which has inflicted his sister. There are some heavy topics such as body dysmorphia, homosexual and borderline incest introduced in this game. Yes, it’s not your typical heroes and heroine you see every day. They are humans, but are they?

As I mentioned earlier, the side quests add to the story so don’t skip them. They are fun and addictive with a twisted sense of humor. The greatest attribute to this game is the soundtrack, however the music arrangement is not as on point like in Nier Gestalt, which did affect my experience. I didn’t like how it sounds unnaturally flawless. So, I didn’t enjoy the game to its max. It feels kind of soulless. Well, it’s not soul’s game if that’s what you are expecting. If I were to compare this game with Nier Gestalt, I would still pick Nier Gestalt over Nier Replicant, playing as a father seems more logical. I don’t know though, I never had brothers who go to an extreme to protect me so it didn’t make any sense to play as an overly protective brother.

Although I can say, I know what it is like to be the protective big sister. I guess there is some similarity in that sense, or it’s just the fact, I’m as crazy as the protagonist. I just like killing stuff. Clearly though, the game was not intended for female demographic but why is it so popular among female players? That’s something to think about.

So what’s so great about this game? Well, it’s the story. The soundtrack, but more importantly how it was executed. The game allows players to see in different angles and it starts to question your morality. Who are the real humans? Even if you think you are right, does that justify killing?

I think you get my point. The game will make you think about your actions. Are you really righteous?

Thank you for reading. If you enjoy me talking about video games you can follow me on Twitter @Poetry_Huntress for gaming tweets and blog updates.

Pulse (回路,Kairo) Review: Help Me Escape Loneliness

Our world is ancient. People born and people die since prehistoric time. But what happens when there’s no more space left in the afterworld for those who have passed away? What are they? Ghosts? Wandering souls? When that happens, they bleed into our realm. The ghosts walk among us. So never open The Forbidden Room or else you will experience death, the eternal loneliness.

Pulse directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa, released in 2001 in Japan and 2005 in the U.S, is a philosophical horror film with a touch of science fiction all mixed into one. Quite frankly I was pleasantly surprised this showed up in my recommendation of films to watch on Amazon Prime Video. I have been searching for this film for a while and seen it several years ago but forgot the title. If it were a video game, I would play it in a heartbeat. In fact, some of the horror titles I enjoyed in the past were released around that time:

The film is not as straight forward so watching it with full attention and twice is recommended. It’s like reading a heavy novel. There’s a lot to digest and piece together. Each frame, each scene ties well together, painting a world that is on the brink of human extinction. The scariest thing about this film is the internet and the red tape. Some places are just meant to be sealed away.

Why do we connect to the internet? Why do we need to connect with others? Most normal people go about wanting few interactions with people as possible or don’t see a need to fill up the void inside of them. That’s why if humans are too far apart, they are drawn together but get too close, they die. What’s the point of getting close? As Harue Karasawa (character from the film) explains a grad student programming project:

Two dots get too close to each other, they die and if they are too far apart, they are drawn closer together.

That’s the world we live in.

Take a moment to think about this abstract idea. How many times have you been honest with a friend but only end up hurting them instead? What’s the point of friendship then?

For horror fans, I don’t need to tell you to watch it because you might have already seen it, especially if you fall into the millennial age group. Japanese horror was a sensation back then. I remember the The Ring terrified many in theater including myself and I became interested in Japanese horror ever since.

One thing I took out from this film is that if I ever need to feel the need to connect with anyone, it might be wise just to turn off the device and connect with real people. Don’t glorify loneliness. It’s eternal death. Humans are no different from ghosts if we are pacing back in form in our rooms, trapped in the internet world.

Netflix Series Detention (2020) Review: It’s More Than Meets the Eye

Based on the video game Detention, released Jan 12, 2017, developed by Red Candle Games for Netflix, the T.V show comprises of 8 episodes which tells a detailed story of a transferred student who suffers from mental illness. Oddly, I experienced a sense of familiarity after taking so many social science and history courses back in the day when I see literacy references appearing in the show. Great writers (Plato, Orwell, Walden) helped me understood quickly what the plot was about. It gets an A + for using influential books as props to illustrate that point. I was entertained all the way.

This show is worth checking out if you are into East Asian horror and also if you are a big fan of poetry, which I think is an outdated art form, but when incorporated with other medium, it becomes extremely powerful. Poetry is the form of using words to paint an image and evoke feelings; its rhythm helps create memorable lines too. There are some emotions that you cannot described alone just through the use of prose. Only poetry can deliver powerful images to abstract concepts such as life and death so that we can understand it on a deeper level.  I like how Detention glorifies the power of a poetry through the use of a dead schoolgirl’s poem. It allows me to see and feel the political oppression in a small Taiwanese town through its high school. Thus making it a hauntingly political tale that gives me a glimpse of the culture on the island. As a horror fan, horror is a genre that is very difficult to execute so when a rare one comes by, I can’t help but want to share with the rest of the world. I wrote a short review on the game a few years ago. Please do check it out. No spoiler I promise.

For my final thought, the show made me wonder why do grownups imprisoned students with their outdated ideology? What purpose does it serve other than complete control of one’s sovereignty? Perhaps going to detention may not be such a bad thing because it’s “in the pursuit of freedom [against authoritative government, we find] inner peace,” I quote the counselor from the show. The school was just a training ground for a more authoritative political system. But even if we escape, “outside this place is just a bigger crazier world,” says Liu Yun-hsiang, the main female protagonist. So what is the solution? Death? Overall, if you are looking for a thought provoking horror title on Netflix, I highly recommend this one.

Three Scary Mom Films (Happy Mother’s Day Edition)

Yes, I am one day late. I missed the deadline, but the world hasn’t end yet, has it? Happy belated Mother’s day! Actually, last year the holiday was celebrated on May 10th so technically I am not really late, and I learned the holiday is celebrated on Sunday for religious reasons that is why Mother’s Day was on the 9th of this year. That’s a fun fact I never paid attention to until now.

I am back with my three list of recommendations. For those who are new to my blog, I like to make a list of recommendations on films, video games, or books. Because I enjoy horror genre, I purposely decided to go with the scary mom theme. I learned from the following films that sadly not everyone was fortunate enough to know what a good mom is. Hopefully, your relationship with your mother is in good terms.

So grab a bowl of popcorns and get ready! In no particular order from bad to worst mom. I make my three list:

A bowl of popcorns

#1 Mommie Dearest (1981)

Director: Frank Perry

Starring: Faye Dunaway, Diana Scarwid, Steve Forrest

Why did I pick this one? Well the mother is a perfectionist to an extreme. You have to be if you are a top Hollywood star, but at the expense of motherhood. She is constantly unaware that she is not fit to be a mom and yet she insists of being a mom to a child. It’s really a sad story actually. She had a successful career but unsuccessful relationships with her love ones including herself. We all know she can’t remain on top forever. Youth and beauty eventually fade and soon she is no longer wanted. Like a product, Hollywood throws away the old for something new and fresh. It’s no surprise, for decades, the film industry has been largely dominated by men. So I sympathize with the protagonist and want to see her rise to the top even though I know she was clearly mad. Great career woman, but terrible mom. Seems like the film was arguing that you can’t be good at both.

Next up…

#2 Flowers in the Attic (1987)

Director: Jeffrey Bloom

Starring: Kristy Swanson, Victoria Tennant, Louise Fletcher

I kept wondering in the beginning of the film why the children are so blond then it occurred to me that they are the making of incest. Out of disgust and shame, the strict religious grandma locked them up in the attic and punished the daughter who is the mother of the children for her past wicked deed. Not only did she seduced her uncle and had children with him, but she also seduced her own father for his inheritance. Like a cat, she kept seducing people to get what she wants. Bad mom indeed, and purely one dimensional. She is so dehumanized that the story becomes an unconvincing horror tale, but more like a sexual fetish. Don’t know what I am taking about? Then I encourage you to watch it.

Lastly…

#3 White Lies (2013)

Director: Dana Rotberg

Starring: Whirimako Black, Antonia Prebble, and Rachel House

I mentioned this film before on my blog but never elaborate into details about the plot. The mother in this film is the worst. Living a lie and living in shame due to inferior complex is teaching children to hate their heritage. Mothers should teach self-respect, compassion and confidence to their children. Skin and culture has nothing to do with superiority but why do people still believe otherwise? Bad parenting, I assume. What irked me about the mother is not only does she tries to alter one’s appearance but she tries to eliminate her mother tongue completely. Hence the title White Lies. But if you want to look at the film a bit more deeply–it is more than just eliminating one’s root. It brought up the question: is the western’s way always better? I chose this film because like many international films I’ve seen in the past, it creates a dialogue that’s worthy of discussion on top of the fact the mom is scary.

Yep, those are my 3 list of scary mom films. I guess it’s not the end of the world if you were raised by a bad mom. Most of the children in these films actually turned out fine. Well some might experience permanent phycological issues, but overcoming it–will make the individual a stronger person and thus an interesting story. No one glorifies weakness as a desired trait. Well I have not met one person who does but let me know if you have.

Three Films that Make Me Want to Read the Book

I love books, but I feel that it’s becoming more of a luxury pastime leisure. Hard to focus reading when your mind is constantly on the go–literally it’s hard reading when you feel restless which is why I never read a book while walking, although I have seen some do it and it always put a smile on my face when I see such a rare sight. Even taking the public transportation, I could never find myself relaxed enough to read. However, I have once read on the job, but work never seems to get done. So I completely ruled out that option. Lastly, you’re probably thinking how about before bedtime? By then I am too tired to read. So you see, I am in a bit of dilemma. Maybe if I live in a huge library such as the picture below, I’d read more. Reading is a solitary experience and I need a quiet, safe place to immerse myself in a book. The same can be said for story driven single-player games.

Did you enjoy how I bold my words in the second to last sentence of the paragraph above? I just want to make sure you got the most important stuff from this intro. 😀

Reading is a solitary experienceneed.. quiet, safe place to immerse in a book,” says Halsdoll (had to quote myself because I feel enlightened from my own writing).

masterpiece video game
Current game I’m playing: NieR Replicant ver.1.22474487139

I won’t ramble on about games in this post. This is about Three Films that Make Me Want to Read the Book. I know based on the title I got it all backwards. It should be read book first and then watch the film because most films I like are based on a novel. And I must confess, I discovered most books through watching the film first. So that doesn’t make me a book snob even though I think the mind is the greatest theatre.

If you are new to this blog. I like to come up with three list of recommendations or three list of anything for this blog because most of us love making list, don’t we? I do. It declutters my brain space so I can think more clearly. Plus short, sweet post like this gives me a break from thinking too deeply and it’s more conversational (I hope I’m talking to a human and not a robot, but if you are robotic that’s okay).

So here are my list. Three list of films I want to read the book eventually:

1) Hellraiser (1987)

Director: Clive Barker

Story: Clive Barker

Hellraiser the movie
The Hellbound Heart: A Novel

I was a teenager when I first got exposed to this classic horror film. I believe it was during Halloween, the show aired on T.V. The thought of demons were terrifying to me that I remember having nightmares about it. When you start getting nightmares, you know the film is scary. It never occur to me back then that hell is like the puzzle pieces of the human psyche. But of course that is just my speculation. The book got me curious and puzzles are always fun to solve. I love a good puzzle. That’s why I need to read the book for more details to come with a stronger conclusion. Hopefully, I don’t dive too deep because hell is definitely not the place I want to be.

2) Audrey Rose (1977)

Director: Robert Wise

Story: Frank De Felitta

Audrey Rose film
Film
Book

This film is so intense that I did not finish it. It reminds me of the Exorcist and the famous Silent Hill (video game series),but of course this came before the video game and before I was born so going back in time to find good films is like going on a trip to discover ancient relics (that’s a compliment, not an insult for those who are self-conscious about age. Young doesn’t always mean better. I like a good aged wine. It’s wisdom that I am after, not eternal youth). One of these days, I will watch the film, but definitely not by myself and if I am curious enough–read the book. Reincarnation can be a very scary thing and for horror fans, we know that horror films don’t always need scary ghosts and special effects.

3) Charlolette’s Web (1973)

Directors: Charles A. Nichols, Iwao Takamoto

Story: E.B. White (book)

Charlotte's Web (2006)
Film
Charlolette's Web book
Book

I know it’s contradicting after stating how I am after wisdom and not eternal youth to switch from horror to children’s film. But eventually adults revert back to a child-like state of mind. I really enjoyed the narration in this film and found that it contains full of wisdom. I used to read the book as a child, but somehow, I think some of the concepts in the story are too deep for a child to grasp. Themes about animal rights, life and death are concepts that are a bit hard for a child to internalize. I didn’t like it as much until now. Favorite quote from the film: “How special are we just a moment?” It’s a powerful phrase to remind us to be humble. Charlotte may be just a spider, but she is also a very good friend and a writer who stretches her natural abilities to make something more out of her existence. Truly inspiring.

Yep, that’s my three list of books I eventually want to read. It’s not so bad going back in time as I am finding it hard each day to find something worthwhile to watch or read. Time has changed or it’s simply just that I am getting older and my taste in entertainment is becoming more refined. I need something with depth. I need something classically timeless.

P.S

I found a good time to read. It’s in the morning with a cup of coffee. That way I won’t get Zzz…from reading. I couldn’t be more happy and content.