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Why the most frightening video games aren't horror games

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The last mainstream horror series to really take off in the video game world was a game called Dead Space. Dead Space was kind of like Alien but with cults and a virus that turned people to monsters and also you were maybe crazy? I’m not sure.

I never finished the first Dead Space game for the same reason I’ve not finished most horror games that aren’t Resident Evil 4—you can stop playing.

Unlike horror movies, where you’re watching horrible things happen to other people, horror games are very much about terrible things happening to a digital extension of yourself, and you can react to them the way you would in real life: with a resounding “nope” and a refusal to walk through the creepy door.

But horror works best when it’s unexpected, when it’s given room to creep in and slowly unsettle you, never explicitly pursuing you—just giving you enough room to scare yourself. Which is why the most frightening video games really aren’t horror games at all.

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Despite occasional brilliance, 'Evil Within' falls short of its horror game predecessors

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My play sessions with The Evil Within unintentionally developed into a nightly pattern. I’d start up the game and play through two or three chapters, only to find myself facing an annoying enemy. That annoyance would give way to outright anger—halting my progress until the next evening, when I would make quick work of the foe that had bested me the night before. The cycle would repeat in waves, infrequent highs that kept being dashed by too frequent lows.

There’s a great game within The Evil Within, but a series of questionable choices and bizarre narrative elements hold it back from being that game.

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'The Walking Dead' haunted house scared the bejeezus out of me

Keeping up to date on all things Walking Dead means more than just reading the comic and watching the TV show. Sometimes it means living it as well. I did that a few years ago when I went undercover as a zombie on the show back in season 2, although that bastard Robert Kirkman ended up cutting my scene because “the performance just wasn’t there.” Screw that. So this time I decided to switch sides and join the survivors and see if I could escape the clutches (and, more importantly, jaws) of the undead by walking through Rick’s — and Daryl’s and Carol’s and Glenn’s — shoes at The Walking Dead: End of the Line haunted house at Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights.

All the houses at HHN consist of monsters or demons or vampires or aliens or predators or serial killers or clowns — CLOWNS! — totally invading your personal space and jumping out at you…often with blunt instruments of death at their disposal. It is unsetting. But I was especially excited to check out The Walking Dead one because the maze is a complete retelling of the events of season 4. So what awaits you in The Walking Dead: End of the Line? A few terrifying highlights: READ FULL STORY

Iggy Pop could play Sandman in a Dario Argento-directed horror

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Italian horror director Dario Argento is tired of typical Christmas movies. He wants gore, violence, and fear in his December films. So he’s making his ownor at least, trying to.

On an Indiegogo fundraiser page, Argento proposes the idea for a movie called The Sandman starring Iggy Pop as the title villain. “This Sandman is the real deal, going back to the dark, original German legend,” the page reads. “The REAL Sandman was someone who stole the eyes of any children that wouldn’t just close them and go to sleep.” In other words: Sandman and Santa Clause probably aren’t friends. READ FULL STORY

'Playable Teaser' trailer reveals the brilliance behind the horror game

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Coming out of last month’s Gamescom, a small horror game called P.T., or The Playable Teaser, stole the spotlight. Downloadable for free on the PlayStation 4, the game came with virtually no warning or explanation. Instead, it let players exploreand be horrified bythe game for themselves.

P.T. initially presents itself as a simple affair, set in the hallway of an average-looking house. Players start at one end and walk through the hall to a door that seemingly leads to a garage. But that door instead opens back into the hallway. In each subsequent loop, the hallway changes, and the story of a gruesome double murder comes into focus. There’s plenty of creepy imagery, a seemingly random puzzle to solve, and more than a few jump scares to satiate any horror fan. (I played with friends who screamed so loudly, my neighbors knocked on our wall to quiet down.)

The game’s mysteries were quickly solvedit turned out the game was actually a teaser for the upcoming Silent Hillsbut the brilliance of P.T.‘s scares and simplicity are still a marvel. Now, its creators have given players a chance to see the game’s even more bizarre origins.

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Jackie Earle Haley, Jennifer Carpenter join 'Evil Within' voice cast

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Resident Evil‘s creator, Shinji Mikami, is looking to strike fear into the hearts of players everywhere once again with his new game, The Evil Within. The title’s publisher, Bethesda Softworks, confirmed today that Mikami will have help from a voice cast full of actors who are no strangers to the genre.

Bethesda revealed that Watchmen and Freddy Krueger himself Jackie Earle Haley, as well as Dexter‘s Jennifer Carpenter, will voice some of the game’s main roles.

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'Friday the 13th': We rank the movies to prep for the upcoming TV show

Horny camp counselors around the world, beware! Jason Voorhees is coming to television. According to DeadlineFriday the 13th producer Sean S. Cunningham has inked a deal to develop an hour-long show based around everybody’s favorite hockey mask-clad machete wielder.  READ FULL STORY

Throwback Thursday: 'The Shining' twins will never stop being creepy

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Kids amaze me. How is it that there’s no sound greater than a baby laughing, yet nothing creepier than a small child in a horror movie? Whether they’re reading some demented version of a children’s fable or just standing in the middle of a hallway, a scary child is the number one indicator that I will not be seeing a movie. But somehow, all I want to do outside of the movie theater is look at adorable pictures of Prince George and North West (preferably together). I don’t know what it is about babies, but I can tell you when my fear of horror movie kids started.

I’ll give you a hint: Redrum.

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'Silent Night, Deadly Night': 20 thoughts on the best-worst holiday movie of all time

A confession: I’m not wild about Christmas. As somebody who gets unnecessarily neurotic about whether or not everybody else is having a good time, the onset of shopping crowds, traveling woes, gift-buying difficulties, and food-related malaise often overwhelms my delicate constitution. (Also, the constant claptrap about the War on Christmas doesn’t make the season any more fun.)

But there are a handful of Christmas traditions I have adopted over the years that have made the last six weeks of the year something close to bearable. The cornerstone of those rituals is the annual viewing of Silent Night, Deadly Night, a nasty little bit of holiday-themed slasher nonsense that essentially casts Santa Claus as a serial killer. But like a lot of the also-ran cut-’em-ups of the ’80s, there’s so much more going on in Silent Night, Deadly Night than meets the eye, and I have spent an inordinate amount of time thinking about it (and its sequels), more than perhaps any other film I have seen. (And thanks to the yearly screenings, it’s undoubtedly the movie I’ve seen the most, which is a troubling revelation to type out).

Of course, a movie about a murderous Father Christmas isn’t for everybody, but here are 20 thoughts about Silent Night, Deadly Night that will hopefully help you get a feel for why it’s the best-worst holiday film ever constructed.

1. Silent Night, Deadly Night came out in November 1984 but was quickly yanked from movie theaters thanks to protests from parents groups who were disturbed by the ad campaign. Since there’s no such thing as bad publicity, the controversy surrounding the film gave it something of a second life — it re-appeared in theaters in early 1985 with an ad campaign that was based around the negative press it got the first time around. (One of the posters during the film’s resurrection was centered around Gene Siskel calling it “sick, sleazy, and mean-spirited”). They essentially leaned into bad press years before that was a thing.  READ FULL STORY

Throwback Thursday: What movie terrified you as a teen?

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Everyone has that one scary movie that scarred them when they were young. Maybe it was something you watched when you shouldn’t have, or maybe it was your first Halloween at the theater. For me, it was at a 7th grade sleepover, when the birthday girl decided we should all watch The Ring. I had heard rumors that the film was horrifying, and I wasn’t one for horror movies anyway. After I watched When a Stranger Calls at too young an age, I tended to steer clear of anything that could keep me up at night. But it was the birthday’s girl wish, and at least I had eight friends who could hold me while I cried.

The movie started, and I immediately cuddled up with the girls next to me. I think I had a blanket pulled up to my eyes just about the entire movie, but just to clarify: I watched the whole thing. And to prove it, I can designate the moment that made me literally climb over the back of the couch and cry/scream. The Ring fans know it all too well … the moment when that freaky girl crawled out of the television. WHAT?! How was that even possible? It was the most terrifying thing I’d ever seen. Needless to say, I didn’t sleep that night. I’m just thankful that stupid movie didn’t ruin my relationship with TV. Can you imagine?!

Watch the clip and relive the horror below, but full disclosure: I did NOT re-watch this:
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