Like the new digs?

In case you wonder why things have been so quiet around here (as I'm sure many of you have, it's like the new "Who shot JR?": "Why is lowbrowculture.com so quiet?"), well, here's your answer.

Well, for one, I've moved to a new host. One that will hopefully beat my last host's record of 50% uptime. One that has already beat my last host's record of 50K download speed.

More noticeably, I've redecorated. The new design is tidier and cleaner. And finally gives me a way to work Rodney Dangerfield into the design of the site.

So will all this mean more posts around here?

Probably not.

An Open Letter to Bank of Ireland

Hi guys,

I'm feeling pretty dumb about losing my wallet, especially when I'm 90% sure it just dropped out of my pocket while I was taking a dump in McDonalds. But seriously, who the fuck thought it would be a good idea to have "Cry Me a River" in the hold music for your 'emergency helpline'? Can we fire them? Please?

Regards, etc.

(I'm so glad I had my phone on speakerphone so my girlfriend could hear this shit, at least someone knows I'm not making this shit up.)

Anyway, other stuff I need to get replaced:

  1. Credit Card

  2. Laser Card

  3. Cineworld Card "There's a €16 replacement fee, but I'll waive that because you've been a member for 2 years."

  4. Library Card

  5. Driver's License

Update: Crisis over. A couple of days after I lost my wallet, I got a very panicked phone call from my very panicked mother who had just received a visit from the Gardai asking if I lived there. Someone found my wallet in McDonalds and handed it in (but not before making off with the money in it; they even swiped the four US dollar bills(?!!)). The Gardai found my address because of my Driving License.

I'm a little disappointed now though. The few days of being without an identity (and financially fluid) were kind of liberating.

District 13 Dubbing

Before you press "play" on your new District 13 DVD, make sure you turn on the English dubbing. For one, playing it with subtitles will fool noone; the movie is thick as pigshit in any language.

But mostly you're only getting half the value for money with the subtitles, because the dubbing is easily more entertaining than the movie itself. Bizarrely incongruous with the rest of the movie and the rest of the cast, the main character and his sister have thick, Colin Farrell-esque Oirish accents that had me laughing my ass off every time they spoke.

Worth the price of the DVD alone.

Horrorthon 2006

**[The Host (Gwoemul)

Giant mutated monster terrorizes a bunch of Asian people. A layabout father's daughter is taken by the monster and he vows to rescue her. Seriously, there's very little more to the movie than that - if you didn't like the sound of "giant mutated monster", there's really not much more to this movie for you. Which is why I was so surprised to see this movie sold out. The movie itself is slick, and the monster effects are really well done (except towards the end, where rather than simulate fire, they seemed to hand-animate that sucker). The whole way through, I felt like I was watching some Charlie White (specifically "Fleming House").

Frostbite (Frostbiten)

Swedish movie about vampires terrorising a town in Sweden where it's night for months at a time. Great premise for a movie, and one of the movies I was most looking forward to on this year's program. Unfortunately, it never lived up to its promise. The story was very much one of throwing everything into the screenplay and seeing what stuck. A lot didn't stick. Still though, they stole the premise from 30 Days of Night, now they're stealing it back - David Slade (Hard Candy) is set to direct a movie of that comic.

Demons

I love this movie. and it was great to see it on the big screen.

The Lost

Not nearly as horrific as it thought it was. But still one of the highlights of the festival for me.

Masters of Horror: Brad Anderson's Sounds Like

Masters of Horror: Takashi Miike's Imprint

Andrew Deane (executive producer of Masters of Horror) came out and introduced these. He was a funny guy, and full of anecdotes about getting these made. 'Sounds Like' is familiar ground for Brad Anderson (The Machinist, Session 9): a man on the verge of collapse. Is there something "spooky" happening, or is he going insane? (he's going insane). But it's technically very impressive. They had the foley guy working overtime on this one. Before the screening of 'Imprint', Andrew Deane told us that "even people who worked on this episode have trouble watching it". This was the episode that Showtime (the guys who produced the show) refused to screen. Now, confession time - I think Takashi Miike is horribly overrated. I grimace more during an episode of E.R. than most of his movies. My disappointment wasn't helped by scenery-chewing Billy Drago.

Night of the Living Dead

I never fail to fall asleep during this movie. From when Ben throws the flaming chair outside to the moment when Barbara finally snaps out of her catatonic state, you'll find me catching Zs. This was no different. Still though, I mostly just wanted to make sure I had good seats for the Surprise Movie. (More sacrilege: I think I prefer the 1990 remake of Night of the Living Dead).

See No Evil (Surprise film)

This film's title is also serves as a handy warning for anyone thinking of going to see this movie. It's god-awful in a way that only WWF/WWE-produced movies can be.

Pan's Labyrinth

The audience for Pan's Labyrinth was roughly 50% typical arthouse nerds and 50% horrorthon nerds who had been there for almost three days straight and were fully charged on fizzy drinks and sugary sweets (and, in most cases, booze), so it was interesting to see the interplay between the two. When the movie started, all the horrorthon nerds starting whooping and clapping (because that's what you do during horrorthon, whoop and clap), and the arthouse nerds sat in reverence. Still though - good film. A lot less fantasy than the trailers and previews made out. But still really good.

Cruel Jaws

Wholesale cheapo ripoff of Jaws. And enjoyably so. This film was so stupid, it actually encouraged audience participation - chants of "Hogan! Hogan! Hogan!" when main character (and Hulk Hogan lookalike), Richard Dew appeared on screen.

Cello

So, so sick of Asian horror at this stage. Cello was like the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back.

Poltergeist

Like Demons, I love this movie and it was great to see it on the big screen. The 70mm print was awesome - lots of details I missed from watching it on dirty VHS copies. A great way to end the festival.

After Poltergeist, we were told that they've already started organising Horrorthon 2007 and the word is that Dario Argento might be in attendance, which would mean a triple-bill of Suspiria, Inferno and Mother of Tears is looking likely.

I can't wait.

RIP Lik-Sang.com

Lik-Sang announced yesterday that they were shutting up shop because of the weight and volume of the lawsuits being thrown at them by Sony. Sony claimed that Lik-Sang weren't offering consumers the kind of safe, quality hardware that the consumers were used to (read: Sony wanted complete control over each region's retail channels). This is just the latest in a long line of dumb, half-assed or just plain mean-spirited moves that Sony has pulled that makes me hope that, for the good of the industry, Sony is no longer the market leader when we reach the next generation of videogames.

The Lik-Sang news bums me out for a whole bunch of reasons. Mainly because I really, really liked Lik-Sang. They're one of the few online shops that I've had 100% satisfaction with, always going above and beyond the basics of shipping me out the things I want - usually throwing in free stickers, coupons off next purchases, lanyards etc. When I bought my DS Lite from them, they packed in so much extra stuff, it felt like all my Christmases had come at once. In May.

But I'm also bummed out because it means that it's even more difficult for me to get a hold of decent games while they're still relevant. For example: Okami is an awesome game. With a narrative similar to Zelda and a visual style all its own, it has been frequently used to support the idea that videogames can be art. But I wouldn't know about that because, despite having been released in Japan in April of 2006, it won't be hitting our shores until February 2007 (and given that its developers just folded, a European release might even be on the cards).

Today, when my copy of Daigasso! Band Brothers arrived from Lik-Sang, it hammered it home for me - this was the last time this wonderful shop would help me get my hands on some wonderful games.

For European gamers, the short end of the stick just got even shorter.

Xtorrent Public Beta

Might I suggest that all Mac users reading this hurry to their nearest browser and download the public beta of Xtorrent, the new application from David Watanabe who also wrote Acquisition, Inquisitor and NewsFire (my favourite RSS reader).

Things I love about Xtorrent

  • It's solid. Oh so solid. Stupid Bitrocket would crap out on me if I so much as looked at it funny

  • In-application searching and downloading. Which translates into: no more fucking around on dodgy sites with equally dodgy ads ("HORNY GIRLS IN ballyfermot ARE WAITING FOR YOU") looking for the latest episode of Lost.

  • Upload and download rate limiting! You have no idea how much I've wanted this - it's one thing limiting uploads, but when you're sharing a network with a bunch of people, you don't want to saturate the download connection.

  • It's so freakin' pretty I swear, David Watanabe is like the Zinedine Zidane of the Mac software development world. Everything he does has beauty, elegance and style. And he'll floor you with one headbutt if you say anything mean about his mother.

(note to self: link to the thing you're blogging about, dummy)

Wii details revealed

Three days of Nintendo confrences, three days of non-stop Wii information. Here's the bits we care about:

Wii will launch in Ireland on December 8th for EUR250. It will come with a Wii-mote, a nunchuck controller and a copy of Wii sports. Zelda will be available at launch, as well as the new Super Monkey Ball. The games are expected to cost between EUR49 and EUR59.

After hearing that the Wii will be launched in the US in November and Japan on December 8th, I was half expecting Nintendo to push the European release back to Q1 2007. So I'm thrilled about this - I've already cleared off a Gamecube-sized space under my telly in anticipation.

On a similar note, anyone want a well-used Gamecube?

Breakdown (1997) - Kurt Russell

I love the premise behind Breakdown. Its logline is deliciously appealing: A couple are driving across the country when their car breaks down, the wife gets a lift to the nearest town to call for help, the man eventually gets his car going again and follows his into town, except noone has seen the wife.

It's then that the movie starts to go downhill.

And there's a lot going for the movie. Kurt Russell gives one of his most underrated performances as an everyman in extreme circumstances, and the score by Basil Poledouris (who also did the killer score for Conan the Barbarian) is wonderfully Bernard Hermann-esque. But it's... wait, what's that moving in the corner of my eye?

And what's that noise?

OH FUCK, IT'S A BEE.

AND NOT JUST ANY BEE. IT'S HUGE! LIKE SOME FUCKING UBERBEE. GOOD FUCKING CHRIST, IT'S COMING THIS WAY! SHIT! SHIT! SHIT! RUN AWAY!

Okay, now I've got a glass door between me and the bee. Time to think this one out. Jesus, I can still hear it through this glass. That's so big. Maybe H. will know what to do.

...

Well, that was no fucking help. Put it under a glass?! It's bigger than every glass we have! I could maybe try putting it under a vase, except every vase we have is in the room with the bee. And what if he gets wind of what I'm up to? He'll go spare and sting the shit out of me.

Hang on. He's just hitting the patio door. He just wants out. Maybe I can just open the door and let him out! Okay, I'll just go back into that room and... wait, what the shit am I doing? I need to arm myself here. Defend myself. Magazines! Aha! I knew reading on the toilet would come in useful one day. Now I've got a giant copy of Edge in case this little shitbag gets any ideas. H., did you just call me a 'fucking pussy'? I'll let you away with that because you're still in bed and HAVEN'T SEEN THE SIZE OF THIS GODZILLA-BEE.

Here we go. Softly, softly. Oh no! He's stopped buzzing around! He's onto me! No, wait. He's just resting. Keep going. Keep... going... COCKING HELL, HE'S THE SIZE OF MY FUCKING HAMSTER! And wait, don't they say that bees are especially ornery this time of year because they're all dying from the cold? That's not good. Why did I even remind myself of that? Am I trying to sabotage myself? Okay, easy big fella, I'm here to help. Just a friendly guy with a friendly magazine, trying to help. This isn't good. This isn't good. Almost there! Hand is on the key now. Turning the key! OH SHIT HERE HE COMES, HE'S COMING TO KILL ME! OPEN THE DOOR! NOW RUN! DON'T STOP RUNNING!

Is he gone? Is he gone? I can't tell if he's gone, I'm sobbing too hard.

He's gone!

I need a lie down.

Rollercoaster of emotions

Here's some things from the past couple of weeks. Get ready for some old news.

Steve Irwin dies - Boo!
It's been over a week and I'm still gutted about this. Steve Irwin was always, always entertaining and his unflinching upbeat outlook never once failed to cure me of whatever blues I had. I'm running out heroes.

MGM are making a sequel to Wargames - Yay!
Some of my favourite films are sequels. Some of my favourite films are about nerdy things and have cute little bleepy soundtracks. It's a marriage made in heaven! The news report also mentions a sequel to Into the Blue which, as big dumb movies go, is really rather good.

Entourage is fucking awesome - Yay!
Okay, so this isn't exactly news, but hey - you come here for news? Seriously, this show is fucking killer - I threw it onto my computer and we watched almost all of Season 1 on the flight home when we should have been sleeping to beat jetlag. You know a show is special when you're willing to take a bullet like that for it.

My DVD inbox has grown to over 125 movies - Boo!
This wasn't helped by my visit to Newbury Comics in Boston. Their Criterion Collection section was both expansive and cheap. If I watch one movie a day, it will still take me over four months to get through them all. Thank fuck Big Brother is over and we can get our NTL disconnected.

Yeah, Dead Rising is great...

...but not that great. I was talking to a couple of people about this game. It seems as if most people who downloaded the 15-minute demo from Xbox Live were pretty disappointed by the full game. This seems to be a combination of the developers' decision to start you off with a basic set of stats (since an RPG stats-building feature seems to be required in all games these days), which means that your character is next to useless at the start of the game. The demo throws you in at the halfway mark, where he can do most things without much trouble.

Then there's also the way the game starts. The zombies invade the mall and you have to escape with everyone else in that part of the mall. Except you can't save them. And so the game throws up massive messages to tell you THIS PERSON DIED and then THAT PERSON DIED. So, within the first five minutes of starting play, you've got the videogame equivalent of YOU FUCKED UP YOU FUCKED UP YOU FUCKED UP YOU SHOULD REALLY PUT THE CONTROLLER DOWN BECAUSE YOU FUCKED UP AGAIN

Describing it as 'disheartening' doesn't even come close. And don't get me started on the save system. Jeez.

Thank God then for Lego Star Wars II! So much fun in such a little box!