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Barf Bags Not Included: Italian Zombies Invade VRV!

Zombies: I’m sick of them, you’re sick of them. The only thing that could possibly make me cringe harder than a zombie is a pirate — and if you make a zombie pirate joke, I will stand up and walk away. But it’s not just a mere case of overexposure. They’ve become too safe; they’ve become Sunday night TV with the fam. And zombie movies should be like porn: you watch them alone or with a group of like-minded companions, but never with your family.

Frankly, they belong in the gutter. I like the gutter, you like the gutter. The Italians, they LOVE the gutter. Pick any disreputable film genre, and the Italians have not only dragged it down into the gutter, but tossed a bucket of maggots on top and bathed it in an overturned port-a-potty. They’re a beautiful people.

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No Matter Where You Go, Everyone’s Connected…Serial Experiments Lain (1998)

Made during the sci-fi anime renaissance, Serial Experiments Lain (1998) is a hodgepodge of 90’s tropes that, even 20 years later, is still relevant.  The first of Yoshitoshi ABe’s cyberpunk projects and directed by Ryūtarō Nakamura, the series revolves around Lain Iwakura, a typical middle school girl living in suburbia. Representative of most 90’s thrillers and sci-fi dystopias, Lain slowly starts to become undone as a shadow organization working for something called the “Wired”, a Matrix-esque version of the internet, that is slowly bleeding into the real world.

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Hope, Change, and Monsters: The Legacy of Digimon Adventure

I’ll be honest—when I first encountered Digimon Adventure during its original US broadcast, I had the same response as a lot of kids: “what a ripoff!” While the animation was eye-catching, it seemed like a much slower-paced story than I was used to, you had to follow it closely to know what was happening, and the monster designs weren’t always cute—sometimes they were downright scary. But I gave it a chance, because back then we didn’t have Crunchyroll or Cartoon Hangover. We didn’t have much choice—we just hunkered down in front of the TV every Saturday morning, scarfing down a bowl of sugary cereal and dutifully watched whatever cartoons happened to be on the air.

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Midnight Void: I Drink Your Blood

Hippies, man, with their crummy homemade deodorants and annoying bongos and jam bands with songs that never end (and don’t even get me started on the various hemp products). You know what happens to hippies in The Midnight Void? They get rabies. That’s right, and if you’ve never seen a hippy with rabies, well then that means you’ve never seen…

I Drink Your Blood

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The Better Angels of Our Nature: Haibane Renmei (2002)

Beginning life as a short-lived dōjinshi before being adapted into an anime, Haibane Renmei (2002) is a story about loss, pain, and redemption couched in Christian symbolism and a complex mythology. Set in the walled off town of Glie, the world is populated by humans who live in the town proper, the Haibane, angel-like humans with wings and a halo, and from outside the walls, the Toga, a group of mute traders who is the only group that can move in and out of the town freely. For bookworms the show is replete with references to the work of Japanese author Haruki Murakami. From the concept of a walled off city, animals as guides towards epiphany or transformation, the site of a well being an important setting, and the magical realist aesthetic all make Haibane Renmei a cousin to Murakami’s Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World or The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle.

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Freakazoid! A Lesson in Internet History

Way way back in the 1990s, Bruce Timm and Paul Dini created a cartoon about a superhero. No, not that one. In contrast to the Caped Crusader’s brooding pathos, this was to be an off-the-wall comedy. While Timm and Dini wanted a straight superhero show, Steven Spielberg—coming off the success of Warner Brothers’ Animaniacs—wanted another comedy. Thus was born Freakazoid!

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Habit Forming, Mind Controlling, Life Absorbing: The Films of Larry Cohen on VRV!

Larry Cohen is a genre unto himself. A movie is no longer horror, comedy, action, or thriller when Larry Cohen is involved, it’s simply a Larry Cohen film. Who is Larry Cohen? Why do I insist on writing “Larry Cohen” over and over?

Larry Cohen is a writer. Larry Cohen is a producer. Larry Cohen is a director. Often, but not always, Larry Cohen is all three at once. Starting out in television in the early 1960s, he created The Invaders, Branded, and Coronet Blue (which heavily inspired The Bourne Identity), while simultaneously cranking out scripts for the top shows of the era, such as The Defenders and The Fugitive. In 1972 he made his directorial debut with Bone aka Dial Rat for Terror, a scorching racial satire about a black thief/rapist invading the home of an upper-class white family in Beverly Hills. It also contains a scene where someone slips on a banana peel.

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Midnight Void – Prom Night II: Hello Mary Lou

Canada: a country best known for its free Medicare, hunky Prime Minister, maple syrup porn, and, during the ’70s and ’80s, a much-abused film industry tax incentive program that sent The Great White North spiraling into a little place we like to call… The Midnight Void.

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Dracula Cage Match!

Start unpacking the decorations and stocking up on candy—because folks, there are less than five months to Halloween.

As we approach the spook season, one’s thoughts turn naturally to the creatures of the night. The mind ruminates on Frankensteins, goblins, killer tomatoes, and so on. But on what does it linger? Only the most sinister, mysterious, and alluring of monsters: Count Dracula.

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Second Look, Second Chances: Repo! The Genetic Opera

Did you know that over a dozen films come out every year? That means that even if you saw a movie a month, you wouldn’t see them all. And it only gets worse when you consider that movies have been around for exactly fifty years, which means there’s another 600 movies to catch up on! Now that’s a lotta movies, film buffs!

With that many motion pictures, some are bound to fall through the cracks and fail to achieve the kinds of success their creators dreamed of. Today I’d like to revisit one of those movies. So come with me on a journey through time to a land I call 2008.

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So Your Child Has Been Possessed: The VRV Guide to Possessed Children in Film

Kids are the worst: they’re shrill, dangerously uncoordinated, easily bored, and don’t always poop in the toilet. So who has the patience to deal with one that’s been possessed? Certainly not you, that’s for sure. Thankfully we at VRV are the leading experts in the field of possessed children, and are here to guide you through — or even help you avoid — the often trying predicament that is your already horrible kid being possessed.

Okay, so legal has just informed me that I’m required to share the following:

VRV, VRVBLOG, and its parent company Ellation Inc holds no expertise or authority, nor provides any services in the fields of possession, children, or possessed children. We do, however, have several programs featuring possessed children available for you to stream with your Premium subscription.

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Sagas of Sundry and the Art of a Perfect D&D Setup

So, real talk. When it’s gaming night, it’s about more than having good dice — we want our setup to be awesome. We decorate the table to suit the campaign, we pick drinkware reminiscent of everyone’s characters, and we’ll put together a playlist that fits the evening’s adventure. We may even show up with costumes or accessories if we’re feeling extra fancy.

Sadly, no matter how hard you go, your ambiance will never top what Ivan Van Norman has in store for his players. The Geek & Sundry host has gone to insane lengths to make his campaigns as immersive as possible… and it’s giving us a serious case of Gamer Envy.

How does he do it? It’s a crazy combination of high-end sets and pared-down rules that makes for the truly tense adventure known as Sagas of Sundry.

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Petty Villainy : Gangs of Wasseypur (2012)

When one thinks of Indian cinema, one’s thoughts may conjure images of Bollywood dance sequences or deep introspective art films by the likes of Satyajit Ray and Ritwik Ghatak. This perception is highly reductive — the country is replete with profitable and popular regional film industries: Bollywood, Bengali cinema, the Tamil film industry (Kollywood), Punjab films (Pollywood), the Malayalam movie industry, etc., etc.  Of course, Bollywood is still king, yet by the early 2000’s as technology made cameras ever smaller a renaissance in the indie film scene began.

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The (Stephen) Kings of Horror Anthologies

Horror anthologies hold a special place in my heart. They’re rarely perfect; sometimes they’re almost uniformly messy from beginning to end. Yet there’s something unique beating proudly within them all. There’s a true love for horror and the understanding that even the most bite-sized of thrillrides can be incredibly effective in its allotted time. Still, it takes a certain level of skill to get them right, so it should come as no surprise that some of the best out there involve the handiwork of one of the longstanding masters of the genre: Stephen King.

Whether you’ve watched them a million times or never seen ’em in your life, there’s nothing quite like blowing the dust off a classic anthology or two. If you have a hankering for a couple multi-course meals of the macabre, I now present the agonizing wails of Cat’s Eye and Creepshow for your approval.

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Midnight Void: Raw Force

Never trust brochures. Don’t open them, and if you do open one, don’t read it. If you see one lying in the street, just leave it there to be run over. Why this hatred and distrust of brochures? Let me tell you about Mike from the Burbank Karate Club. He read the brochure for this place called Warrior’s Island, which claimed to be where “monks raise dead martial artists from the grave.” What the brochure failed to add is that the only reason these monks have this power is because they lock nude women up in bamboo cages, slather them in BBQ sauce, and eat them. It also neglected to mention that the women come from a man with a Hitler mustache who sells them in exchange for wicker baskets full of “uncut, AA-grade” jade.

But back to Mike and how his belief in brochures ensnared him and his fellow karate clubmates in a web of cannibalism, kung fu, and kung fu zombies. It’s a story for the ages. A story depicted in the film Raw Force, one that could only exist here, in the Midnight Void…

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Bringing the Drama: What’s New About the New “Boys Over Flowers”?

Boys Over Flowers is a contemporary shoujo classing for fans of both manga and anime. It’s such a fan favorite, in fact, that there have been five live-action series based on it! The most recent, from 2009, hails from South Korea and features all the same characters you’ve come to know and love from the original series and all its iterations.

But just how close does the K-drama come to the original? Surprisingly close… with a dash of surprisingly different.

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Faded Family Portraits: Exploring Father of My Children (2009)

Depression, famously defined by Sigmund Freud, as “anger turned inwards”, is a tough subject to address for many filmmakers due to the difficulty in portraying such an internal conflict cinematically. Oftentimes, it is played for histrionics. At other occasions, the drama is reduced to pure mawkish tropes. Mia Hansen-Løve, a French filmmaker who has been garnering a lot of praise in cinematic circles for the last ten years, has devoted her entire career to telling low-key psychologically complex tales. For her sophomore feature, Father of My Children (2009), she turns her eye towards telling a family drama.

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Midnight Void – 1990: The Bronx Warriors

The film scholars who have long touted neorealism as Italian cinema’s golden age are nothing more than the perpetrators of a lie. The masterminds behind a grand deceit meant to distract you from the true golden age of Italian cinema: the age of the rip-off. From roughly the late 1960s through the 1980s, a shameless wave of sleaze-coated copycats splattered the silver screen.

For Conan the Barbarian fans, please allow me to (not) recommend Ator, the Fighting Eagle. Did Jaws make you afraid of the water? Well, Cruel Jaws will make you afraid of ever watching Cruel Jaws again. The late, anti-great Bruno Mattei — agent of chaos that he was — once directed an Aliens knock-off and called it Terminator 2.