Badasses, Boobs and Body Counts All things Grindhouse, Exploitation, Drive-In and B-Movies. Podcast. Movie Reviews. Video Game Reviews. Genre Film Articles. Ladies of Exploitation. Mon, 16 Oct 2017 16:45:34 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Badasses, Boobs and Body Counts 32 32 EP251 – Day of the Dead Sun, 15 Oct 2017 18:27:55 +0000 This week on the show, your three intrepid hosts discuss director George A. Romero’s DAY OF THE DEAD (1985). As we continue our journey towards October 31, Mike and Iris ride along as Mark guides everyone through this timeless classic. Who will end up the badass? Bub, Sarah or Captain Rhodes? Tune in to find out.

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Elvira: Mistress of the Dark (1988) Wed, 11 Oct 2017 13:00:11 +0000 Directed by: James Signorelli
Starring: Cassandra Peterson, William Sheppard, Edie McClurg and Daniel Greene
Written by: Sam Egan, John Parago and Cassandra Peterson
Runtime: 96 minutes
Release Date: September 30, 1988

ELVIRA: MISTRESS OF THE DARK (1988) begins with Elvira (Cassandra Peterson) lying on a couch, looking as sexy as ever, inside a low budget TV studio doing her nightly horror movie show. Once it comes to an end, she’s introduced to the station’s new owner who immediately gropes her breasts. Seconds later the station loses Elvira when she quits to pursue her dream in Las Vegas.

Back in the dressing room, Elvira is told by her manager that if she wants her own show she’ll have to finance it herself. This wouldn’t be a problem if she had $50,000 laying around. Moments later, a telegram arrives and Elvira finds out that her great Aunt Morgana (also played by Cassandra Peterson) has passed away and she’s asked to attend the reading of the will.

Once at the reading, Elvira meets her Great-Uncle Vincent Talbot (William Sheppard). She inherits Morgana’s house, pet poodle and an old family recipe book which turns out to be Morgana’s spell book. Great-Uncle Vincent is left nothing. However, Vincent does have an interest in the recipe book and offers Elvira $50 for it. Elvira accepts the offer, but has bigger things on her mind (as do we when we watch this film) like selling the house to fund her Las Vegas act.

ELVIRA: MISTRESS OF THE DARK isn’t a serious horror film. In fact, some may argue that it’s not a horror film at all and that it leans more towards comedy. They’d be right. While the film’s script revolves around Elvira trying to gather the cash to start her Las Vegas career, it does so with a lot of great one-liners delivered brilliantly by Cassandra Peterson who has great comedic timing. The dark undertone of the story is delivered in the third act of the film when Great-Uncle Vincent exposes who he is and why he wanted that spell book so badly.

As far as the film goes – and believe me when I say this – the viewer needs to go into ELVIRA: MISTRESS OF THE DARK with an open mind and the ability to have fun while watching a comedy themed horror film. From the outset, Elvira shovels one-liners left and right and it works with the overall tone. The supporting cast is also brilliant. Daniel Greene as Bob Redding is fantastic in a shy love-struck sort of way. Edie McClurg as Chastity Pariah was the perfect choice for the town gossip and hypocrite. Jeff Conaway as Travis and his side-kick Frank Collison as Billy are brilliant in their roles as bowling alley lounge lizards

ELVIRA: MISTRESS OF THE DARK was directed by James Signorelli, written by Sam Egan, John Parago and Cassandra Peterson, and was shot by Hanania Baer. The film was distributed by New World Pictures and released in September of 1988. The films budget was $7,500,000 and it grossed $5,500,000 making it a studio flop in terms of its financial outcome. Director James Signorelli’s background is for the most part in TV, playing director to NBC’s Saturday Night Live (1975 – Present). His only other directed film was EASY MONEY (1983) starring Rodney Dangerfield. Cinematographer Hanania Baer has been very busy in his career. In addition to ELVIRA: MISTRESS OF THE DARK, he’s shot films such as BREAKIN’ (1984), AMERICAN NINJA (1985) and MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE (1987) to name a few.

Cassandra Peterson is best known for her on-screen horror persona Elvira Mistress of the Dark, the host for the TV show Movie Macabre (1981 – 1993). Movie Macabre aired terribly bad horror films where Elvira would poke fun at them coming in and out of commercial breaks. Peterson has a rich, deep, interesting history. You can learn more at her Wikipedia page (as Elvira) and IMDB page. Movie Macabre vaulted Peterson to fame, eventually leading to numerous TV spots, film roles and positions as spokesperson for many different products throughout the years.

Final Thoughts:
ELVIRA: MISTRESS OF THE DARK is a fun, campy and comedic horror film that should be taken lightly and with a buttery bowl of popcorn. I find the film thoroughly entertaining and Elvira’s boobs a pleasure to look at as well.

Contributed by Mike Murphy

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EP16 – Genre TV Report Mon, 09 Oct 2017 15:33:37 +0000 We have an action packed episode for you as Kevin Bachelder returns to chat about the all new TV season. In episode 16 of the Genre TV Report, Kevin catches us up on The Mist, Ash vs Evil Dead, Tremors, Supernatural, Arrow, Star Trek Discovery and more. Tune in and catch up on your favorite genre programming.

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Stitchers Cancelled
The Mist Cancelled
Amazon Producing More Sci Fi: Lazarus, Snow Crash and Ringworld
The Librarians Season 4 Premiere Date
Ash vs Evil Dead Season 3 Premiere Date And Details
Details And Trailer For Hulu’s Upcoming ‘Future Man’
Tremors Casting
Man In The High Castle Season 3 Trailer and 2018 Release Window

The Punisher
The Shannara Chronicles Trailer & Season 2 Premiere Date
The Librarians
Dirk Gently
Legends Of Tomorrow
Star Trek Discovery
Lucifer Sneak Peek
Supergirl Season
The Flash
Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams
Marvel’s Runaways

Best Episodes of the Week
Star Trek: Discovery
The Gifted

Contributed by: Kevin Bachelder

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EP250 – The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Sun, 08 Oct 2017 15:30:32 +0000 Mike, Iris and Mark are back this week to discuss the Tobe Hooper directed picture THE TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE (1974). This classic horror film gets all sorts of love from your three hosts before Mike wraps things up by lashing out at podcasters using terms like “proto-slasher” and “final girls”.

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The Beast and the Vixens (1973) Wed, 04 Oct 2017 13:42:56 +0000 Directed by: Ray Nadeau (Naneau)
Starring: Uschi Digard, Jacqueline Giroux, Marius Mazmanian, Bob Makay, Susan Wescott and Sharon Kelly
Runtime: 83 minutes
Release Date: 1974

You know you’re onto a clunker when you research a movie and, despite the volumes of cult movie review guides adorning the creaking virtual shelves, can only find a singular capsule review in Michael Weldon’s trustworthy Psychotronic Video Guide.  THE BEAST AND THE VIXENS (1974) is one such clunker, a bargain basement ‘Bigfoot & Boobs’ movie that would send BBandBC’s mammary count into and beyond the stratosphere!

Originally released under the title THE BEAUTIES AND THE BEAST, a retitling to THE BEAST AND THE VIXENS attempted to capitalise on Russ Meyer’s SUPERVIXEN (1975) which also starred Uschi Digard and Sharon Kelly.

Following on from the 1972 release of Charles B Pierce’s THE LEGEND OF BOGGY CREEK, a nifty backwoods docudrama exploring the Arkansas Fouke swamp monster that managed to gross an impressive $20 million, a flood of ‘Bigfoot’ movies poured into the city grindhouses and rural drive-ins across the US.  With each film hairier than the last, audiences were subjected to the B movie shenanigans of Mike Findlay’s SHRIEK OF THE MUTILATED (1974) to made-for-TV movies like SNOWBEAST (1977) to the dick-ripping nastiness of NIGHT OF THE DEMON (1980).  Of course, as a cultural phenomenon, ‘Bigfoot’ enjoyed his share of salacious entertainment that ranged from backstreet pulp paperbacks (Nights with Sasquatch, Medallion Paperbacks, 1977…”an explosive ordeal of rape and revenge beyond any woman’s experience!”) to the art of Robert Crumb and his voluptuous hairy maidens.  Mindful of THE GEEK,  a 47 minute 1971 Bigfoot porn movie, THE BEAST AND THE VIXENS certainly isn’t the scuzziest of early 70’s Bigfoot buffoonery but is so much  more sexploitation than sasquatch.

Structurally the film is pretty chaotic, the central storyline has Swedish ‘big bust’ glamour starlet Uschi Digard and Jacqueline Giroux (billed here as Jean Gibson) having a weekend hangout in a woodland cabin while studying for their anthropology papers.  Of course, they spend their first evening sipping brandy, commenting on the cold while walking around half-dressed, and eventually slip into bed to unenthusiastically kiss and snuggle vintage sexploitation style.  The next day they hook up with a small hippy commune residing in an out-of-season summer camp where they immediately get naked and attempt to skinny dip (even more unenthusiastically) in the cold Autumnal waters of the lake.  A couple of rifle-wielding criminals turn up threatening the group to reveal their source of old silver coins that the commune appears to be living off.

All this is interspersed with ‘the beast’, a guy in a jet-black gorilla costume wearing a rigid plastic mask with oversized goofy white teeth, roaming the forests and carrying off an assortment of women who are already in varying stages of undress.  Three abducted women, one of which being Sharon Kelly (billed here as Coleen Brenan), are being held captive in the beast’s cave.  Despite being carried off completely naked, Sandra Carey – another sexploitation starlet who starred in an array of B movie classics including WHAM BAM THANK-YOU SPACEMAN (1975) and THE NAUGHTY STEWARDESSES (1974) – is now appropriately dressed and says ‘well at least he brought my clothes back’.  The Beast he may be, but a considerate beast all the same!

In fact, possibly one of the reasons why THE BEAST AND THE VIXENS has seemingly fallen into obscurity is that it just isn’t particularly memorable.  The Beast doesn’t really pose any real threat.  It’s designs on the abundance of naked women aren’t sexually menacing (he feeds them apples) and at one point the Beast is overcome by some old country and western dude.

Story threads have no correlation with one another, characters appear and disappear and Uschi Digard and her hippy pals don’t actually encounter the beast.  I don’t think they even see it.  Fred Olen Ray, who provides a commentary track (well . . . for the first 15 minutes) on the OOP Retro-Media DVD surmises that THE BEAST AND THE VIXENS may have been born from the acquisition of an incomplete or unwanted movie that was propped up for release with tacked-on Bigfoot scenes.  This would make sense as different sources quote different years of production and release, though the copyright within the opening credits states 1973, and the film exists in an assortment of varying cuts from a scant 71 minutes to 84 minutes.  Ray Nadeau (…or Naneau as credited) was a basic jack-of-all-trades on the exploitation film scene, serving as a production assistant on MESSIAH OF EVIL (1973) and achieving his one directing credit with THE BEAST AND THE VIXENS.

There is a quaintness surrounding THE BEAST AND THE VIXENS.  Despite this Internet age, production details are still relatively vague and obscure.  The film showcases all the beloved hallmarks of low grade 70s sexploitation – post sync dialogue, library music, and choppy editing – all while everyone gets naked for any occasion, hippies playing guitars (Gypsy Mountain Madness?), and elongated love making scenes of endless fleshy nuzzling that doesn’t even remotely resemble any kind of penetration.

A padded dream sequence of Jacqueline Giroux and Susan Westcott, naked but for spurred boots, cowboy hat and a gun belt, about to have a quick-draw shootout, beautifully illustrates the surreal absurdity that time has awarded to this movie.  However, hipster Internet commentators who discovered exploitation cinema solely through Quentin Tarantino interviews and movies, have undoubtedly enjoyed writing endless derogatory ‘hee-haw’ reviews laced with sarcasm about THE BEAST AND THE VIXENS while some of us will admire the sledgehammered process that pieced together a commercial feature peppered with scenes of hazy nudity, softcore grinding and a grumbling hairy monster carrying off naked women kicking and screaming.

With contemporary horror cinema’s fascination with P.O.V dominated ‘found footage’ structures, Bigfoot has enjoyed something of a resurgence (unsurprisingly as all you need is a camera and a forestry backdrop).  THE BIGFOOT TAPES (2013), BIGFOOT WARS (2014), and BIGFOOT VS ZOMBIES (2016) all deviate from the comfortable formula, eschewing buxom vixens, hippy humping and a good-natured beast.

Final Thoughts:
THE BEAST AND THE VIXENS (what a great title!) is a great slice of real grunge sexploitation that peculiarly avoids any real mean spirited sex, violence and gore. It will undoubtedly find appreciation amongst hardcore exploitation film aficionados.

Contributed by Tristan Thompson

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EP249 – The Evil Dead Sun, 01 Oct 2017 20:21:57 +0000 It only took five years, but we finally turn our attention towards one of horror cinema’s seminal classics. Mike, Iris and Mark start October by discussing director Sam Raimi’s innovative independent film THE EVIL DEAD (1981). In this first week of the month that culminates in All Hallow’s Eve, we dive head first into an infamous Video Nasty and chat about how and why this film still resonates 36 years after its debut.

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Shoot’em Up (2007) Thu, 28 Sep 2017 23:08:43 +0000 Directed by: Michael Davis
Written by: Michael Davis
Starring: Clive Owen, Paul Giamatti, Monica Bellucci and Stephen McHattie
Runtime: 86 minutes
Release Date: September 07, 2007

A disheveled man sits at a bus stop eating a carrot.  A pregnant woman runs behind him, then ducks down an alley just before a car careens around the corner and crashes into a parked automobile.  The driver struggles out of the vehicle, draws a gun and pursues the woman.  Our hero, the unassuming Smith (Owen), decides to help the fleeing woman.  Apparently, it’s the right thing to do.

Smith catches up to the pair, dispatching the pursuer with a carrot punched through the back of the man’s throat.  More gunmen appear, just as the woman goes into labor, necessitating Smith to pick up a pistol and hold the armed men at bay while helping to deliver a baby under relentless gunfire.  Smith doesn’t miss, ever – not even while using his pistol to cut the umbilical cord of the new arrival.  The head villain and aspiring hitman Hertz (Giamatti) arrives on the scene to lead his men, delivering a semi-intellectual soliloquy once he has a chance to confront Smith and the new mother.  Hertz is a sociopath who enjoys the hunt and inflicting violence.

After quite a bit of gunplay, the death of the mother, and a narrow escape, Smith flees with the now hungry newborn.  What’s a guy to do?  Smith shows up at an old church.  His knock on the door is answered by a nun.  Upon bursting through the door, Smith demands to see Donna Quintano (Bellucci).  The nun turns to chase after Smith, revealing the back of her habit and her exposed, naked bottom.  Furthermore, Qunitano is revealed to be a lactating dominatrix with whom Smith attempts to bribe, coerce and guilt into feeding the newborn.  The bad guys, of course, aren’t that far behind and our hero will need to figure out why and how to deal with them . . .

This setup is established in the first 10 minutes of SHOOT ‘EM UP.  It’s the barebones framework for a movie dense on detail and chockfull of thrilling action sequences.  There are many sight gags, peppering much of the action and filling in the quieter moments.  The film strives to be absolutely outrageous and almost always succeeds, eschewing realism for a very consistent self-contained and mature cartoon universe.  Putting a newborn in harm’s way, imperiling a pregnant women, lactating prostitutes, subversion of the church’s image, an orgy of constant bloody violence, an onslaught of fetishes, and more push the boundaries of good taste while poking fun at traditionally taboo elements of our society. To top it off, there’s a very strong Bugs Bunny vibe as Smith constantly gnaws on carrots (they’re good for your eyes) and Hertz is hunting his prey in a fashion that clearly places him in the role of Elmer Fudd.  The two exchange plenty of dialog, much the way their animated counterparts do in the classic Warner Brothers shorts.

Clive Owen demonstrates his ability once again to provide a charismatic lead while walking in the shoes of an action hero, extending the momentum he established in films like KING ARTHUR (2004), SIN CITY (2005), and CHILDREN OF MEN (2006).  Paul Giamatti turns up the volume to an eleven, delivering an over-the-top performance that hits just the right notes, conveying an evil heavy who is brilliant, brimming with ego, and a complete social misfit that’s still a considerate family man who can’t quite reach the brass ring to declare full victory.  Monica Bellucci also turns in a good, if limited performance.  She’s not given the best material to work with, but her accented line delivery, commitment to the role, and game attitude in selling the crazier elements of the film help provide the additional support necessary to solidly anchor SHOOT ‘EM UP’s more off-kilter elements.  Bellucci is always visually captivating on screen and that holds true throughout this film as well.

As mentioned earlier in this review, there’s a complex story wrapped around the basic framework of plot with lots of details filling in behind the main plot thread to give purpose to our protagonists as well as provide a little social commentary.  It gives context to much of the violence and takes jabs at some hot topics regarding guns, violence and politics.  While not deep or original, these elements pad the overall package making the film’s relatively short 86 minute runtime seem a little bloated.

Final Thoughts:
SHOOT ‘EM UP is a fun, kinetic and hyperactive cartoon that punches buttons and plays with edgier concepts that skirt many social norms.  It’s willingness to be outrageous is not only infectious, but a gift for genre and exploitation fans.  If you have yet to discover this well-crafted and soundly acted action film, seek it out and discover the pleasures of a movie that seeks to entertain its audience with every moment delivered on the screen.

Contributed by Drew Beckmann

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Ronin (1998) Wed, 27 Sep 2017 23:06:11 +0000 Directed by: John Frankenheimer
Written by: David Mamet (under the pseudonym Richard Weisz) from a screenplay by John David Zeik
Starring: Robert De Niro, Jean Reno, Natascha McElhone, Stellan Skarsgård, Sean Bean and Jonathan Pryce
Runtime: 121 minutes
Release Date: September 25, 1998
Home Video Release:  Arrow Films USA, August 15, 2017, Blu-ray Special Edition

At its core, RONIN is a well-executed heist film.  An international team of former special operatives come together to fulfill a contract to procure an undisclosed item of great importance.  Their contact Deirdre (Natascha McElhone) provides them with their mission – secure a heavily guarded briefcase from a convoy transporting it.  What initiates as a well-planned routine theft soon shifts to unanticipated chaos as the team encounters a series of double-crosses and shifting alliances.  The Russian mob shows interest, complicating matters.  In the end, former CIA strategist Sam (Robert De Niro) and the low-key French specialist Vincent (Jean Reno) team together to complete the assignment and tie up loose ends.

This genre of film usually follows a standard plot progression and requires numerous complications to build suspense and hold the audience’s attention.  RONIN succeeds admirably in this endeavor due the Frankenheimer’s deft direction, well-staged action sequences, Mamet’s dialog and the excellent ensemble cast.

The title of this film is important.  A rōnin was a samurai without a lord or master during the feudal period of Japan.  The word itself literally means “drifter” or “wanderer”.  A samurai became masterless from the death or fall of his master as has been the plot of countless Japanese period films that are both cinema classics (the works of director Akira Kurosawa featuring Toshiro Mifune) and fabled exploitation gems (the colorfully bloody Lone Wolf and Cub series).  Most importantly in these tales, the rōnin has not lost his code of honor and frequently takes on small jobs for those in need, usually for a humble meal, a few coins, or because it is the ethical choice.  One of the interesting aspects of RONIN comes from watching the former operatives either walk this path in the implied traditional sense or choose betrayal. This theme becomes a more explicit discussion point half way through the film.

Frankenheimer was nearing the age of 70 when he took on RONIN.  Elements from his previous works like THE MANCHURIAN CANDIDATE (1962), GRAND PRIX (1966), FRENCH CONNECTION II (1975), BACK SUNDAY (1977), and 52 PICK-UP (1985) can be found throughout RONIN.  His mastery over staging and filming practical (non-CGI) car chases should place the two main vehicular sequences in RONIN right at the top of any action fans’ “best of” list.  There’s a real sense of speed, space and scale to these chases that has become increasingly lacking in movies since the advent of the shaky cam/quick edit techniques that began to creep into action films in the 1990s.  It’s also refreshing to get these chases in the cramped streets of Paris and Nice instead of the open highways of North America.  Frankenheimer also gives enough time for the large cast to succeed in distinguishing themselves, allowing each character to have a reasonable presence.

The ensemble cast is pretty amazing.  De Niro anchors the film in what is arguably his last solid original performance before sliding into a long series of De Niro caricature roles as found in ANALYZE THIS (1999), THE ADVENTURES OF ROCKY AND BULLWINKLE (2000), MEET THE PARENTS (2000), ANALYZE THAT (2002), MEET THE FOCKERS (2004), LITTLE FOCKERS (2007) and so on.  Jean Reno delivers in his laconic style that was so engaging to viewers in LEON: THE PROFESSIONAL (1994).  An early role for McElhone, RONIN is one of her best performances, adeptly juggling the various conflicting interests at work in her character’s story arc.  Rounding out the crew is Sean Bean, Stellan Skarsgård, and Jonathan Pryce – all delivering unique and distinctive characters within a relatively crowded film.

About the Arrow Films USA Release:

Arrow Films USA has released RONIN on Blu-ray in an excellent 4K restoration that delivers a sharp image, terrific color and solid blacks to the many dark scenes.  To date, this is the best visual presentation this reviewer has seen of this underrated movie.  The audio is immersive and helps draw the home video enthusiast into the film.  Arrow’s generous extras round out the package and can be accessed through an easy to navigate menu system.

Highlights of the extras include the audio commentary from director Frankenheimer, who goes in-depth on the making of the film with emphasis on the practical nature of his car chase scenes.  There’s also an interview from the mid-1990s with director Quentin Tarantino who talks about Robert De Niro’s career.  Tarantino’s passion for De Niro’s performances is very clear, making this a fun watch but also underscoring Tarantino’s comments as delivered more by a fan than critic – something that many film lovers, especially those who enjoy the exploitation genre, should appreciate.  Here’s the full list of Arrow’s features:

  • Brand new 4K restoration of the film from the original camera negative produced by Arrow Video exclusively for this release, supervised & approved by cinematographer Robert Fraisse
  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p)
  • Original English 5.1 audio (lossless on the Blu-ray Disc)
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • Audio commentary by director John Frankenheimer
  • Brand new video interview with director of photography Robert Fraisse
  • Paul Joyce documentary on Robert De Niro
  • Ronin: Filming in the Fast Lane, an archival behind-the-scenes featurette
  • Through the Lens, an archival interview with Robert Fraisse
  • The Driving of Ronin, an archival featurette on the film’s legendary car stunts
  • Natascha McElhone: An Actor’s Process, an archival interview with the actress
  • Composing the Ronin Score, an archival interview with composer Elia Cmiral
  • In the Ronin Cutting Room, an archival interview with editor Tony Gibbs
  • Venice Film Festival interviews with Robert De Niro, Jean Reno and Natascha McElhone
  • Alternate ending
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork
  • FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Collector’s booklet illustrated by Chris Malbon, featuring new writing on the film by critic Travis Crawford

On a final note, this review is based on a screener copy of the RONIN Blu-ray supplied by Arrow Films USA.  As a result, I cannot provide any feedback regarding the final packaging, including the collector’s booklet for the first pressing.

Final Thoughts:
RONIN runs a little long at 121 minutes, but the trade-off would be to cut dialog and potentially risk the establishment of each unique performance.  The balance works for this film, rewarding the viewer for just a small amount of patience.  The action sequences incorporating automotive violence, bullet exchange, and aggressive hand-to-hand fighting provide a sense of reality, making them all the more harrowing when they arrive on film.  RONIN is a solid heist and action film worth revisiting or discovering for the first time.

Contributed by Drew Beckmann

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Top 5 Retro PC Games Mon, 25 Sep 2017 15:15:23 +0000 The retro video game scene is hotter than it’s ever been. Demand for vintage games complete in their original box command prices that are through the roof. If you’re remotely interested in collecting vintage games, then you know how crazy the current market is. This article will offer you an alternative to 5 classic retro PC games that you can play right now on your modern computer without a hefty price tag. I’m very fond of each of these games and have finished them at least once (sans Populous) and in some instances, multiple times.

Ultima VI: The False Prophet
Genre: Role-playing, Adventure, Fantasy
Works on: Windows (XP, Vista, 7, 8, 10) and Mac OS X (10.6.8)
Company: Origin Systems
Release date: June 1, 1990 price: $5.99

In Ultima VI: The False Prophet you play the Avatar. Once you’ve taken a few minutes to create your character you’re immediately thrown into battle protecting Lord British from several attacking gargoyles. Once he’s been saved, you and the rest of your party, Iolo (the Bard), Dupre (a Paladin) and Shamino (a Ranger) are given the run of the castle and the task of finding out why the gargoyles are climbing out of the earth and causing havoc across the land of Britania.

Ultima VI: The False Prophet is a rich, deep, entertaining RPG that offers hours and hours of gameplay. Each character has their own inventory space in which they can carry a wide variety of items. Inventory space is based on total weight so once you’ve reached that limit, you’ll need to choose what to drop and what to keep. The spell system in the game is based on eight different circles (or levels) of magic. Once you discover a new spell you need to learn it. Learning it displays the ingredients (herbs) needed to create the spell. For instance, Magic Missile comes from the 2nd circle and requires Black Pearl and Sulfurous Ash to make it. The same goes for alchemy and the making of different types of potions.

The highlight of the game for me was learning how to acquire the runes needed to finish the storyline. In one instance you meet Sherry the Mouse and learn that she’s holding a rune in a small room through her mouse hole. You need to add her to your party in order to control her character, gaining access to the rune – a brilliant and memorable moment in the game.

In short, Ultima VI: The False Prophet is a well-designed game with a great story. You’ll be hard pressed to stop playing once you begin. About the only drawback to playing this in 2017 is the inventory system. As gamers, we’ve become spoiled with how easy it is to manipulate inventory. Not so much in this game. It works, but it also feels clunky and cumbersome at times. Be warned – you may get carpal tunnel by having to micro-manage the inventories of four different characters throughout the game.

DooM and DooM II
Genre: First Person Shooter
Works on: Windows (XP, Vista, 7, 8, 10)
Company: id Software
Release date: May 5, 1994 (DooM II) price: $9.99 (DooM II + Final DooM on

id founders Adrian Carmack, John Carmack, Tom Hall and John Romero were a rambunctious group of young programmers eager to make a name for themselves in the video game industry. Back in 1992 they released Wolfenstein 3D. Wolfenstein 3D was a first person shooter (FPS) that introduced the world to B.J. Blazkowicz. Blazkowicz was held prisoner in an underground facility. After getting his hands on a Walther handgun, he fought his way through dungeons killing dozens of Nazis along the way.

The success of Wolfenstein 3D enabled this team of talented programmers to push the envelope even further on their next project, DooM. DooM introduced textured ceilings and floors along with a complex lighting system (whereas Wolfenstein 3D did not), giving this FPS a much needed atmosphere. The boys at id Software then did something unprecedented, they gave the game away for FREE or at least the first third of the game (releasing it as shareware). Once millions of gamers became addicted to DooM, they flocked to their local Egghead Software and Electronics Boutique game stores to purchase the remaining two chapters. The young game-makers at id Software became millionaires.

On May 5, 1994 the much anticipated sequel to the award winning DooM was released. GT Interactive Software published DooM II and it was an overnight mega success. Gone was the shareware go-to-market approach from DooM. There would be no freebies this time around, but that didn’t matter, because selling DooM II direct to retail had little risk based on the previous sales of DooM. DooM II did everything DooM did and more, advancing the game tech well beyond the original. The levels were more complex and challenging. The additional enemies were tougher to fight. The biggest change from DooM to DooM II was the ability to play in both co-op and deathmatch mode across a computer network or through the new unproven technology called the Internet. Once again, id Software changed the video game industry.

Before I move onto the next game, I also need to mention Ben Morris. Morris created the Doom Construction Kit (DCK). In short, DCK was a sector-based DOS level editor created by Morris. This piece of software allowed the average Joe to create levels for DooM and DooM II extending the shelf life of the game well beyond what the developers ever imagined. Thank you Mr. Morris. You’re responsible for my first divorce and you paved my way into the game industry.

Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards
Genre: Point and Click Adventure
Works on: Windows (XP, Vista, 7, 8, 10), Mac OS X (10.6.8) and Linux
Company: Sierra
Release date: July 5, 1987 price: $9.99 (or $16.98 for the series on

In this game you play the lovable character of Larry Laffer. You’re short, balding, have no game whatsoever, and you’re a virgin. This is a graphic adventure game in which you control the main character by typing in a variety of commands via the game’s interface. In short, you move from point to point solving game puzzles before moving onto the game’s next area. You start in the City of Lost Wages, desperately trying to get laid while trying to find the woman of your dreams.

There are a total of five areas in the game in which you’ll visit. Lefty’s Bar, a hotel casino, a 24-hour wedding chapel, a convenience store, and a discotheque. Each of these areas presents the player with fun unique challenges. One example is the prostitute you encounter early in the game. Having unprotected sex with her ends the game prematurely when Larry gets an unexpectedly virulent sexually- transmitted disease. However, if you leave Lefty’s Bar and hail a cab to the convenience store to buy a rubber . . . I mean a lubber, you may survive the ordeal. In short, this game was considered a “softporn adventure” back in the day. It was also a runaway hit for Sierra and paved the way for many Sierra sequels and for other similar games from other industry players.

In 1987, when this game was released, computer gaming was like the Wild West. Almost anything went. The ESRB didn’t exist and the point and click adventure was new to the PC gaming community. 30 years later this genre of game is nearly extinct but thanks to companies like you can go back and relive the memories you had when trying to get laid on your old 286 processor.


Genre: Strategy
Works on: Windows (XP, Vista, 7, 8, 10) and Mac OS X (10.6.8)
Company: Bullfrog
Release date: June 5, 1989 price: $5.99

I think it’s safe to say that Populous was one of the first top-down strategy games widely available on the PC. In Populous you play the role of GOD (or a Deity as you are called in the game). You control a variety of cave-man like characters named walkers by choosing action icons located around the player map. The map is a pseudo-three dimensional space in which you raise or lower land to achieve flat surfaces. Once that part of the map is flat, your followers will build a hut, a house and eventually a sprawling castle. This is how your population grows and becomes your army.

The opposing team, your enemy, are usually placed on the opposite side of the map. The CPU is doing just what you are, attempting to build their populous in order to build an army. They have the exact same toolset that you do. That toolset contains a variety of options to choose from. The “Papal Magnet” causes your walkers to go to your leader who in turn goes to the Papal Magnet. This is how you move your walkers around. The “Settle” option tells your walkers to build and settle down increasing your population. “Gather Together” merges walkers into single stronger walkers creating more powerful units. Finally, the “Fight” option does just what you think it does, it tells your walkers to fight nearby enemies.

The Divine Intervention tools are the most fun to experiment with. Setting aside the raising and lowering land (which is a necessity of the game and a key component for success) you have Earthquake, Swamp, Knight, Volcano, Flood and the granddaddy of them all, Armageddon. All of these tools are designed to disrupt the CPU’s progress, giving you the edge on any given map. In other words, you are the Deity in Populous.

In its day Populous was an addicting strategy game. As a single player game, the maps are fun to play and get more and more challenging the deeper you progress. The real fun comes from network play. It’s one thing to beat a somewhat predictable CPU opponent but another to outwit a human on the other end of a network cable.

If you’re interested in seeing where the modern day strategy game came from, then you owe it to yourself to try Populous. In fact, I dare you to complete the game. That’s something that I’ve never done.

The Colonel’s Bequest
Genre: Point and Click Adventure
Works on: Windows (XP, Vista, 7, 8, 10)
Company: Sierra
Release date: January 1, 1989 price: $5.99

Roberta Williams was an integral part of On-Line Systems (later becoming Sierra or Sierra On-Line). In fact, she co-founded the company in Coarsegold, CA, with her husband Ken Williams and worked on early titles such as Mystery House and King’s Quest. She’s also credited for pioneering the graphic adventure and has had a hand in just about everything the company did early in its early years. When The Colonel’s Bequest was announced it was announced as her game. What’s this? A game designed by a woman? That’s correct and a damn fine game it turned out to be.

In The Colonel’s Bequest you play Laura Bow, a student of journalism and a part time amateur private detective. It’s sometime in the 1920s when Laura is invited by her friend Lillian to attend a family reunion at her uncle’s estate. The estate itself is a dreary mansion set in a bayou just outside of New Orleans. Colonel Dijon, Lillian’s uncle, wants to chat about his will at this get together. Soon after doing so, the family members begin to fight and then start showing up dead. Laura takes it upon herself to solve the murders and figure out why the dead bodies are disappearing.

Like the other Sierra game featured in this article, Leisure Suit Larry in the Land of the Lounge Lizards, The Colonel’s Bequest is a graphic adventure filled with puzzles that need to be solved. The difference is this is a detective game in the vein of a Sir Arthur Conan Doyle or an Agatha Christie novel. So unlike the aforementioned adventure game, you’re sleuthing to solve a mystery and not trying to get laid. In other words, this one takes itself more serious but not serious enough to make the adventure tedious.

If you like the idea of gathering clues, spying on people from behind paintings, and creeping through secret passages, then you’re going to love The Colonel’s Bequest. It’s a great murder mystery with some intelligently written dialogue that should entertain you for a few hours.


Save Early and Often

These are just a few of my favorite classic PC games being offered by the online service GoG offers all sorts of classic titles and genres and now offers new game releases by both indie and established game developers. All games are DRM-FREE with no activation or online connectivity to play. Once you pay and download, have at it. They also offer a 30-day money back guarantee if you’re dissatisfied with your purchase. In other words, you have NOTHING to lose here.

Contributed by Mike Murphy

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EP248 – Carnival of Blood Sun, 24 Sep 2017 15:57:24 +0000 Mike, Iris and Mark hit rock bottom during this week’s episode. Your three hosts struggle to discuss and get through the Leonard Kirtman directed picture CARNIVAL OF BLOOD (1970). This one’s a slaughter folks, so come prepared because you’re about to be butchered.

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