In LOTRO, as you travel north of Bree along the Greenway, there is a small cleft in the hills to the left of the road. It’s southeast of Saeradan's Cabin, east of Thornley's Work Site, and south of the Festival Grounds. In this remote spot is a small abandoned graveyard within a low walled enclosure. An empty cabin overlooks the site and a solitary mourner weeps at the grave of a departed friend. It’s a rather mournful place and somewhat esoteric. The mourner doesn’t bestow any quests, nor do any of the other NPCs in the vicinity. In fact, beyond the aesthetic, this location serves no apparent purpose in the game. So, what is the purpose of the abandoned graveyard?Read More
I recently wrote in a blog post that I would be producing a new podcast this year and that Burton & Scrooge Uncut would be taking a break for the immediate future. Well in fact I’ve decided to record two new shows. In the meantime, Brian has already embarked upon his solo project and seems to have found his niche already. I however am currently bogged down in the pre-production process and because the format of the new podcast is different from those I’ve done before, it is proving to be a little more challenging than I initially thought. Since I find writing to be a practical way of ordering my thoughts, I thought I’d keep a podcast diary. I can therefore work through some of the issues that arise as well as produce a blog post, now that I’m back to writing daily.Read More
The BBC has a history of supernatural dramas broadcast over the festive season. During the seventies and eighties, they have frequently adapted classic ghost stories by such authors as M. R. James, Charles Dickens, and Hector Hugh Munro aka Saki. In late 2008 BBC Four broadcast Crooked House; a three-part ghost story shown on consecutive nights from 22nd to 24th December. It was written and co-produced by actor and writer Mark Gatiss, of The League of Gentlemen fame. The three inter-linked episodes form a portmanteau story, influenced by the works of M. R. James and Amicus compendium horror films of the seventies.Read More
One of the most engaging aspects of The Lord of the Rings is the expansive and detailed world that Tolkien has created. His love of maps combined with his detailed descriptions of the geography of Middle Earth, makes a credible and living environment. The Shire in particular is described in great depth, becoming a character in itself within the narrative. So, when Turbine developed LOTRO a decade ago, they were faced with an extremely difficult task of adapting this territory into a suitable MMO environment. However, the results have been well received and this region has remained a firm favourite with LOTRO players. So, I thought it would be interesting to look in more detail at selected areas of Middle Earth and explore the subtle differences between the game and the source text over a series of blog posts. So, let us start where the story begins, in The Shire.Read More
The Haunted Doll's House is based on the short story by M.R. James and tells the tale of a ghostly antique. Adapted by Stephen Gray, who has made several other short films based upon James' work, it stars Steven Dolton as Mr. Dillet. Made on an extremely modest budget over the course of 2012 this clever, innovative and rather sinister adaptation is a fine example of short film creativity. It manages to offer a unique visual depiction of M.R. James’ classic story whilst capturing the unsettling quality of the authors work. Like so many independently made short films it is clearly a labour of love and thoroughly rewarding.Read More
“He talks of wine and women as a prelude to the hunt. We barbarians know that it is after the chase, and then only, that man revels. You know the saying of the Ogandi chieftains: "Hunt first the enemy, then the woman." It is the natural instinct. The blood is quickened by the kill. One passion builds upon another. Kill, then love! When you have known that, you have known ecstasy."
The concept of hunting people for sport is hardly a new cinematic idea. Over the years there have been numerous movies that have explored the subject. A Game of Death (1945) Run for the Sun (1954) and Surviving the Game (1994) to name but a few. However back in 1932, this was a bold plot device. Cinema was still a relatively unregulated industry (the Motion Picture Production Code didn’t start being enforced until 1934) and as a result was under increasing scrutiny for its increasingly salacious tendencies. However, such issues did not dissuade producers Merian C. Cooper and Ernest Schoedsack who were quick to see the potential of Richard Connell’s short story "The Hounds of Zaroff". It offered an opportunity to examine the “sin of Cain” with its plot about a reclusive Russian aristocrat who hunted men for pleasure on a private Caribbean island. And then there was scope to explore some of the more “adult” elements of the story (as the above quote alludes to).Read More
I was watching an episode of The Trews recently during which Russell Brand mentioned that the most popular movies at the box office last year were mainly science fiction or fantasy. He had some thoughts on why this was so and then proceeded to talk about escapism, personal faith and spirituality. Now I didn’t necessarily agree with all his points and I don’t believe in his views on higher powers but I did concur with some of his ideas discussed. As a result of the subject being raised, I have pondered of late why the fantasy genre seems to dominate cinema (and television), literature and gaming. Is it simply a case of providing a narrative vehicle that is universally flexible and accommodating, or are their deeper psychological and sociological reasons.Read More
Being a child of the seventies I was raised on films. I saw a good many classic during my most formative years, usually on a Sunday afternoon, which I'd watch with my family. I also use to enjoy the adverts in the Evening Standard for the latest cinema releases. The poster art was lurid and exotic and would often promise so much. As video was not yet available to the domestic market, trips to the cinema were much more of an event than they are now. By 1978 I was already a firm fan of the fantasy genre (mainly thanks to the work of Ray Harryhausen) so when Warlords of Atlantis was released I was duly excited. I had seen all the previous films that John Dark had produced in this series. The Land That Time Forgot, At the Earth’s Core and The People That Time Forgot. Although cheap and cheerful, they were very entertaining, especially to younger audiences.Read More
If you create any sort of content, then at some point you must address the practical issue of engaging with your audience. Some folk get by without doing so, subsequently disabling comments on their You Tube channel or blog. My fellow podcaster Brian has happily managed without a Twitter account for years and has only just returned to that online community. However, I feel that two-way communication is broadly a good thing and I’ve advocated this in past and more recent posts. I’m currently trying to leave more comments on the various blogs that I read and retweet and reply more frequently on Twitter. So far this has been a positive experience. And then I went a stage further and entered in to an “exchange of views” on a well-known gaming news and discussion site. Let it suffice to say that it clearly brought in to focus the unpredictable nature of human interaction and the often-baffling behaviour of others online. Due to the obvious lack of visual, verbal and social cues, discerning others words can be difficult. Something that some no doubt deliberately play on.Read More
I participated in the Beta testing of The Elder Scrolls Online in spring 2014. Overall I found the game agreeable enough but chose not to purchase it upon its release, due to the subscription model and a lack of time. Like many MMOs the initial launch was problematic and the game had numerous issues and bugs. Within a year, the game was re-branded with a buy-to-play business model and extensive patching made the overall game more equitable. As a result, I’ve had my eye on The Elder Scrolls Online: Tamriel Unlimited for a while and frequently toyed with the idea of buying it. Perhaps one of the reasons I’ve held off from purchasing the game is because I have such fond memories of Skyrim and therefore wonder if I’d prefer a new RPG to an MMO.Read More
I was a teenager during the eighties and grew up during the final days of the Cold War. The threat of another war in Europe was very real and the fear of a nuclear confrontation was always present. John Milius’s Red Dawn therefore had quite a profound impact upon the viewing public at the time. It certainly was not the first movie to tackle the concept of an invasion or to explore the role of the guerilla. However, what it succeeded in doing was depicting the idea in a contemporary way that the audience could relate to. The iconic image of Russian troops outside McDonalds encapsulated the films mood entirely.Read More
The recent news regarding Standing Stone Games’ acquisition of LOTRO has certainly re-invigorated the fan community and led to some renewed wider interest in the game. I’ve kept my own subscription going mostly out of curiosity for LOTROs future, rather than a burning passion for the MMO. In fact, on Laurelin server, it’s pretty much business as usual. My kinship has a core group of players who logon regularly as do most others. Key regional hubs such as Bree and the Twenty-first Hall are relatively busy, usually with role players and music groups running events. Beyond this there doesn’t appear to have been a major change at present to the game’s overall population. Perhaps something tangible needs to be added to LOTRO first before we see such a shift.Read More
The relevance of this post, comes down to how much you like and care about film. If movies are simply a transient form of entertainment to you, something you have no major investment in beyond killing time, then my following protestations will be water off a duck’s back. If like me, you consider film to be art, then hopefully you’ll concur with my sentiments. Because I do consider movies to be a the most immediate and significant art form of the twentieth century. There are no significant barriers to entry beyond the ability to see and they can convey thoughts, ideas and emotions to the broadest possible audience.Read More
Epic adventure Exodus: Gods and Kings is the story of one man's daring courage to take on the might of an empire. Using state of the art visual effects and 3D immersion, Scott brings new life to the story of the defiant leader Moses as he rises up against the Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses, setting 600,000 slaves on a monumental journey of escape from Egypt and its terrifying cycle of deadly plagues. Written by 20th Century Fox.
So reads the marketing material for Exodus: Gods and Kings according to 20th Century Fox. However, the movie itself despite brimming with "state of the art visual effects and 3D immersion" lacks any emotional impact, has a choppy narrative and is completely devoid of any religious conviction. Do not mistake Ridley Scott's ponderous movie for a religious epic. It is more of a pseudo-historical blockbuster with some metaphysical overtones. By endeavouring to rationalise the faith based aspect of the story, we are left with a distinctly underwhelming costume drama.Read More
It was announced yesterday by the Daybreak Game Company that the MMO Landmark will be closing on 21st of February. Landmark joins an ever-growing list of titles that have closed since DGC acquired SOEs back catalogue. As ever the press release does not give any specific details as to why the game is to be shutdown. However, it is more than likely down to operating costs versus profits. Furthermore, irrespective of the corporate reasons for the decision, there are still numbers of Landmark players who will be saddened by the news. This development is also of interest to LOTRO and DDO players, due to the Daybreak Game Company recently becoming the publisher of those titles.Read More
Let's make something clear right from the start. Ghost Story is a very superficial adaptation of the novel by Peter Straub. If you’ve read the book and are expecting a verbatim retelling of the plot, then you will be disappointed. It’s complex narrative structure and the abundance of characters don’t immediately lend themselves to mainstream film making. However, if you like tales of the supernatural and solid performances from Hollywood legends, then this may well be for you. John Irvin has always been a workman like director and has therefore often been overlooked. Other work of his such as Hamburger Hill and When Trumpets Fade show a great deal of flair and understanding of the mechanics of cinema.Read More
Despite being marketed as yet another Gothic Horror based upon the works of Edgar Allan Poe, The Haunted Palace is in fact a lose adaptation of The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, by H. P. Lovecraft. The film's title is merely taken from a poem by Poe and is an example of the clever promotion often associated with the movies of Roger Corman. The poster's tagline as ever focuses on the more sensational aspects of the storyline, although audiences’ expectations are not exactly met. Yet there is often a great deal of merit to be found in Corman's output from this decade and as ever The Haunted Palace, like so many of his other movies transcends its modest budget with a sumptuous production design and atmosphere.Read More
During the eighties, I was an avid fan of the novelist Clive Barker. I consumed all his work voraciously and sought out magazine and television interviews with him whenever I could, finding the man equally as fascinating as his work. Oh, to be a twenty something horror fan during the genre renaissance of that decade. Despite the yolk of the Video Recordings Acts and the scaremongering of the tabloid press over “Video nasties”, horror fiction both in print and on the big screen was elevated to new levels due to the creativity of one British author and director. These were halcyon days for fan boys and girls.Read More
While the Burton & Scrooge Podcast is on hiatus, Brian has decided to forge ahead with a solo show; the first episode of which is now available. Scrooge Uncut is a showcase for all the various subjects that cross Brian’s mind, so expect a very dynamic and eclectic range of material. The podcast is very much a stream of consciousness, neatly edited into bitesize segments, presented in Brian’s inimitable style. The debut episode touches upon technology and gaming and also updates several talking points previously raised on the Burton & Scrooge Podcast.Read More
“If something's important, you'll make the time”. Montgomery Scott.
I enjoy writing. I find the process helps order my thoughts. Then there’s the pleasure of communicating with others and being part of a community. Therefore, writing is something that I wish to do regularly. Up until 2015 I use to post content on Contains Moderate Peril every day. However, I began to find it a bit of a chore (because I had followed this schedule for 5 years), so subsequently reduced my output. Then in 2016 I had to make further changes due to real life issues, so my writing became even more infrequent, as did my podcasting. However, in recent weeks I cannot help but reflect upon Scotty’s wise words. I do have some leisure time and a degree of flexibility in my weekly schedule. I suspect that although time has been a factor in my reduced content output, motivation has also played a part.Read More