Levi’s Lessons in Evil: Braindead (1992)–A Unique Approach to Slapstick Horror

Dead alive poster
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Peter Jackson’s Braindead (1992) employs parodic conventions in a multitude of forms. From the substantial amounts of exaggerated blood and gore-ridden scenes to the sportive jokes made by the characters, Braindead successfully intertwines comedic conventions in what is portrayed as a zombie-based horror film. Throughout the film, the splatter is in overdrive as the audience is witness to numerous blood-squirting scenes. However, the sound effects that are used mirror a show analogous to The Three Stooges (1925). We see this employed during the appalling lunch scene as Vera’s wounds send projectile globs of blood and flesh into Mr. Matheson’s custard. Of course, as if to taunt the audience, Mr. Matheson unknowingly shoves his face with the gore-infused pudding. It feels as if Jackson intentionally implements this disturbing scene as a horrific presage for what is to come. Following in the footsteps of Stuart Gordon’s Re-Animator (1985), Braindead holds nothing back while seizing the audience’s attention with outrageous splatter effects and slapstick horror techniques while subtly introducing novel elements of romance, semi-sentient zombies and unique comedic constituents.

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Putting Tracks on the Map with Trish: Lucky Daye

New Orleans singer and songwriter David Debrandon Brown—better known by his stage name, Lucky Daye—is becoming another staple in the contemporary R&B sphere with his striking voice and experimental instrumentals.

Secular music was something Brown was restricted from listening to since his mother was part of a religious cult. Even so, Brown taught himself different melodies by singing lines from children’s books and Bible verses. Both Brown and his mother fled the cult and their New Orleans home due to Hurricane Katrina. And from there, Brown was able to expose himself to classic R&B artists at the age of eight. His music draws inspiration from the likes of Lauryn Hill, Prince, Rick James, and Stevie Wonder.

His EPs I and II illustrate a vast array of moods that Brown is capable of singing about in regards to romance. In I, Brown’s debut single “Roll Some Mo” and other tracks such as “Extra” and “Late Night” reverberate the same psychedelic funkiness as Frank Ocean’s Channel Orange. “Ready For Love” is a more stripped approach of Brown’s voice, accompanied by softer instrumentals to accentuate the rawness of the song.

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Melancholia by Lars Von Trier: An Allegory for the Inescapability of Death and Emotional and Psychological Turmoil

melancholia
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Released in 2011, Lars Von Trier’s film, Melancholia, follows sisters Justine (Kirsten Dunst) and Claire (Charlotte Gainsburg) as they grapple with earth’s imminent doom. What commences as a film about a newly married couple—on the surface—gradually spirals into an amalgamation of familial dysfunction, complicated work dynamics, and mental chaos. Meanwhile, amidst the stars orbits a planet named Melancholia that threatens to end life on earth. A visually arresting cinematic experience, Melancholia is a captivating masterpiece in motion. Via scenes whose cinematography and mise-en-scene capture allusions to biblical anecdotes and artistic works, and slow-motion editing that suspends characters in time, Melancholia is an allegory that reflects the lurking inevitably of death and emotional distress.

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Touring the Table with Zach: Black Orchestra- Board Game Review

black orchestra
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Black Orchestra takes place as the Nazi Party’s grasp of Germany is weakening and the horrible events and actions taken by the Nazis have caused dissent within their own ranks. Each player takes on the role of one of the members of “Schwarze Kapelle” or the Black Orchestra, which is the name that the Gestapo gave to the group of conspirators within the German military that plotted to overthrow Hitler.  

As an avid board gamer, it is easy to understand why World War II would be chosen as a common setting for many board games. Unsurprisingly, most games in this setting are traditionally war games with the method of play usually done through moving tanks, ships, and soldiers on a large map in order to depict battles. However, Black Orchestra takes a different approach to this expectation. The game uses an action point allowance system, so during a player’s turn, they are allowed three actions which consist of moving to different locations, drawing or playing cards, or conspiring. The conspire action in the game is the most useful but also the most dangerous. Whenever this action is taken, the player rolls three dice. Dependent upon the result of these dice, the player may gain more actions, increase the dissent towards Hitler’s regime, or increase their suspicion with the Gestapo. All of these actions are done in the hope of eventually being able to complete a plot card, which is the cards in the game that allow for an attempt to overthrow Hitler. When a player attempts to complete a plot card, they roll a number of dice dependent upon how prepared they are for that plot and if they roll a number of successes that equals Hitler’s military support, they win the game. If they fail to do so, then this will lead to trouble with the Gestapo.

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Michael Lane’s Top 10 Albums of 2018

Banner credited to Michael Lane

Thought I wouldn’t make it this year, huh? This is really (extremely!!!) late, but I truly enjoy writing and crafting these lists more than you could probably understand, so I had to return for the fourth consecutive year to rank my 10 favorite albums of the year.

I am extremely thankful for a lot of things that this past year has given me, which of course includes all of the superb music that soundtracked such a memorable 365 days. Below you will find the 15 artists and their respective albums that impacted me the most this year, each one an owner to certain months or even full seasons of 2018. These are the albums that surprised me. These are the albums that I listened and re-listened to more than any others this year. These are the standout albums of 2018 in my eyes. As always, my hope with this list is that you will discover some new artists you will come to love just as much as I do. Happy listening!

Honorable Mentions:

  • Twenty-One Pilots – Trench
  • The Voidz – Virtue
  • Father John Misty – God’s Favorite Customer
  • MGMT – Little Dark Age
  • Public Access T.V. – Street Safari

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Putting Tracks on the Map with Trish: Marco McKinnis

Marco McKinnis, a Hampton, Virginia-born R&B artist, has slowly risen in the musical sphere with his silky and soulful vocal range. He has featured in Rex Orange County’s renowned album Apricot Princess on “Nothing” and has collaborated with DJDS—duo DJs who have helped work on Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo—on the tracks “Trees on Fire” and “Falling” seen in Big Wave More Fire. These features exhibit his flexibility in different genres outside his affinity for R&B considering that Rex Orange County and DJDS are alternative and electronic musicians, respectively.

McKinnis’ six-track EP, Underground, is saturated with layered instrumentals ranging from synthesized keyboards to acoustic guitar solos. Hit songs “Silence” and “CPR” gained recognition for its down-to-earth lyricism and overall old school vibes. Although many of McKinnis’ songs are reminiscent of the works produced by Babyface, Jon B., D’Angelo, and Maxwell, they still have their own fresh approach to R&B, and are similar to contemporary artists Brent Faiyaz and Daniel Caesar.

“CPR” music video:

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Zakiya M. Cowan’s Probe of Contemporary Texts: The Power of the Close-Up and Color in The Hate U Give

the hate u give
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Directed by George Tillman Jr., The Hate U Give is a film adaptation of the novel by Angie Thomas, a novel that rocked the world of contemporary young adult literature as it foregrounds the dark realities of police brutality and the ripple effect it can have on a community, and even a nation. The narrative follows Starr (played by actress Amandla Stenberg), a young black woman who witnesses the murder of her friend Khalil (played by actor Algee Smith) at the hands of a white police officer. From that point on, the audience witnesses Starr’s internal battle between wanting to remain silent in order to maintain a life of normalcy, or speak in honor of Khalil, and other black men that have fallen victim to these unjust crimes. As an audience, we are immersed into this complex narrative through the cinematographic moves of the close-up and color. Through the use close-up shots, and a varying color scheme, we are no longer allowed to be voyeurs, distantly observing  Starr’s hardships. Instead, we are forced to engage with the characters on screen, empathize with them, and face the issue of police brutality head on.

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