Friday, November 20, 2015

Crimson Dragon Slayer: the commercials

I hope you get a little kick out of our promotional videos for the O5R, humorous, gonzo, science-fantasy RPG, Crimson Dragon Slayer.  This weekend, the PDF is on sale!

Thanks to my fellow actors, +Forrest Aguirre and +Jacob Nelson.  These productions wouldn't have been possible without Joshua Darlington.

Hope you enjoy them.  Feel free to share.  Go viral, my pretties.  Fly... be free!


Friday, November 13, 2015

Game Hole Con III (part 2 of 2)

Ok, we're back!  This is part one.

Liberation of the Demon Slayer, I've found, makes for a good convention game.  There's an abrupt beginning that gets PCs where they need to go with a definite objective - retrieve the legendary demon-slaying sword Kalthalax or see your beloved homeland ripped apart by demons.

Because it's fairly deadly, the adventure is perfect for a funnel / meat-grinder type situation.  Pre-generated characters was the obvious way to go, but there were two things working against that idea.  One, my wife and children.  Two, players will form more of an attachment to their characters if created there at the table, by their own hands.

Since the adventure has several tables at the beginning for fleshing out backgrounds, we dived right in.  That morning I quickly scribbled out a quadrant character sheet so all four zero-level characters could be seen at a glance.  But, since this was a convention game, I wanted every character to be able to do some cool stuff.  So, 1st level for all!

Next, I told all the players not to worry about any limitations of rule-book or system.  Rather than playing DCC with the serial numbers filed off, we were playing a fantasy RPG that never had serial numbers, one that only lived in our imaginations, unfettered by arbitrary restrictions.
Forget all the fiddly bits about your characters, I told them.  If they wanted to play a half-orc, lizardman, demonic humanoid, dark elf, or whatever, that was just fine.  If they wanted to play some weird class like bard, monk, or anything else, that was cool.  I didn't care if they wanted to pick an old school alignment like Chaos or chaotic neutral.  All that was fuel for their imaginations and wouldn't be a focus for today's session.

Before I forget, one player had played in my The Islands of Purple-Haunted Putrescence game at the last Game Hole Con.  So, it was nice to see a satisfied customer.  Although, I had my doubts about that particular session.


There was some quick thinking as PCs got tossed out of bed and marched to the caverns below Clear Meadows without dilly-dallying for supplies.  One character snapped the leg off a wooden table on his way out.  After hearing that, a few players attempted to do something similar.  I let player descriptions and luck rolls determine their success or failure.

The first death came quickly.  A skeletal wizard at the bottom of a pit trap.

A magic ring allowed one of West's characters to summon a demon.  The demon was summoned and the PC asked the demon to transport him to someplace in the dungeon that contained a really powerful weapon.  The demon did as he was told.

West's character suddenly appeared in a white room containing a pedestal, upon which rested an innocent looking orange.  A few seconds later, the orange killed him.  Such is the life of an adventurer - especially since it was a convention game, he had three other characters, every player except West laughed, and West actually wasn't even scheduled to play, but we're friends and I let him in the game as a favor.

Instead of revealing Kalthalax at the very end, after a big boss fight, I decided to offer it up early so someone had the chance to actually use it!  The demon slayer laid upon a black altar, guarded by a gelatinous green slime.  I was expecting a harrowing fight, but the party's thief (one of them) made his roll to tumble past the creature (both times!).

The party wizard (one of them) discovered and pocketed a yellowish green vial of liquid that would become useful later.

Basically, the adventurers fought the Devil.  It was a 30' demon lord just coming out of some gigantic gateway to Hell.  Kalthalax did a lot of damage, but so did a character with a shovel!

A portal opened after defeating the demon lord.  Out stumbled an American family - the Sterlings - from some "other world".

There was also some necrophilia going on.  A couple PCs rolled that for their dark secret.  One woman in particular named Angela Nekro (played by +Julian Bernick) kept staying behind to play with the corpses.  Awesomely gross!  If this had been more than a con game or one-shot, her creepiness could have been explored in depth.

I was using the DCC mercurial magic table for spells cast.  If the percentile dice fell into the middle range (yielding no strange effect), I rolled on the weird magic side-effect table in Purple.  Just as the adventurers were leaving the caverns, a wizard cast a spell and rolled something close to a 50.  So, I rolled on the other table only to discover that his spell had inadvertently brought the Purple Putrescence itself to Clear Meadows.

It loomed in the sky like a slimy purple Rhode Island of mouths, tentacles, and foulness.   The wizard who had the yellowish-green vial of liquid drank it, started to glow and grew more and more unstable until he ran into the thing's tentacle.  The Thing That Rots From The Sky scooped him up and popped him in its mouth - just as he went nuclear - blowing the purple godlike thing back to its home dimension.

Clear Meadows was saved!

The Outer Presence

Unfortunately, I don't have time to go into detail about this game.  Character creation was fun.  I just used the random tables and players made their own connections based on available data and intuition.

Everyone had a good time.  The world was narrowly saved, yet it cost all the characters their lives - with the possible exception of those who rolled the "hard to kill" distinction.  If there's a sequel, I'll allow those PCs to survive the fistful of dynamite shot point-blank in Nafu Aata's inner sanctum.

Thanks again to everyone who played in my games at Game Hole Con III.  I'm looking forward to next year's games!


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Game Hole Con III (part 1 of 2)

This blog post is going to be my experience at Game Hole Con III.

I felt the post-convention blues yesterday - everything just seemed kind of lame and I didn't care about the ordinary world much.  Basically, business as usual, except intensified a bit.  However, I'm my usual self today.

Running games at a convention is the equivalent of playing music live.  Everything is faster; smaller details fall by the wayside, and you're probably less inclined to go off-script and improvise because you're not GMing (performing) in front of your usual gaming group in your home, friend's basement, local library or game store.  No, you're doing it live in front of a bunch of people you don't know.  It's a bit nerve wracking and the pressure's on.

Plus the noise and distractions!  Subtlety is usually lost.  Forget about speaking quietly, hushed tones, whispering, or even delicate gestures.  You either speak loud and clear so the whole table can hear or you've lost a couple people along the way.  This goes for movements, too.  Either grand and sweeping or not at all!

Basically, it's like GMing with one hand tied behind your back.  Of course, it's also very exciting and gratifying to deliver a great gaming experience to people you've just met, who trust (or at least hope) that you're going to give them something enjoyable.

If you're +Frank Mentzer or James Ward you get to have a slightly more private room.  Even though this is my third time attending and running games at +Gamehole Con (and I've self-published about 10 well-received RPG books), I'm still fighting at the front lines.  It'll probably be awhile before I can watch the battle (with lake view) from a cushy office back at HQ.

So, all my games ended earlier than planned - because I couldn't help but speed things along.  Except for the impromptu "off the books" session on Friday night, they all ended on a high note, mysterious cliff-hanger, or with the utter destruction of that corner of the world.  Friday night's game came up against the lateness of the hour (about 10:30pm - I'm old and lame) so I cut their dungeon exploration a bit short... plus I had a big day of gaming ahead of me.

I got extremely lucky with a few things.  First, the weekend before the con, I had completely lost my voice.  I can't remember the last time that has happened, but it did.  While I was voiceless, I kept thinking, "Thank Cthulhu this didn't happen a week later."  But then on Monday I still couldn't talk, Tuesday I was extremely horse, Wednesday wasn't much better... I was starting to panic.  My voice was noticeably better on Thursday, and by Friday I was pretty much out of the woods (though still coughing).

Second, each and every session saw at least one friend at the table.  Even though I consider myself a non-paid professional Game Master who doesn't need such comforts, it's still really nice to have a familiar face amongst all the strange ones.  So, that was really cool and I appreciate having +Tim Virnig+Brandon Watkins+Jacob Nelson, +Forrest Aguirre, and West there.  Little did I know that a few others knew of me, but I'm terrible with names and so few people have their actual selves as avatars.


I'm not going to do a detailed session report for each and every game.  Just certain details that stood out or illustrate a particular point.

I ran my one-page zine, "The Sanctuary of the Scarlet Sorcerer", on Friday night; Liberation of the Demon Slayer and The Islands of Purple-Haunted Putrescence on Saturday (back to back); along with The Outer Presence on Sunday.  By the end, I was ready to be done.  Although, by Monday night I was wishing I had another at GMing sometime mid-week.

I set up Liberation and Purple to be run with Dungeon Crawl Classics.  Now, I do love that system and the whole DCC vibe.  But when I've run it in the past, I hack it or dumb it down or Basic-D&D-it into oblivion... only keeping the mercurial magic and a few other bells and whistles, while drastically altering the rest.

Recently, all the games I've been running this summer and early fall have been based on a d6 dicepool system.  I suddenly found myself looking awkwardly at the d20 and thinking... I'm not ready to go back.  Luckily, I had been turning over my d6 dicepool ideas over and over in my mind.  Trying to come up with something that's even lighter, easier, and noob/one-shot/convention friendly than Crimson Dragon Slayer.

Just before Friday night's game, I came up with something workable and tried it out then and there.  It worked really well and use that for every session, except for Outer Presence.  I can attest that no player complained, balked, or criticized the core game mechanic I used throughout the convention.  That right there was a great opportunity to playtest the system.

Just as Purple was getting underway, +Doug Kovacs sat down and watched for a few minutes.  He even jokingly said that he was there to make sure I was "running the game right".  Some nervous laughter followed along with my admission that the game was going to be unorthodox, but still adhering to the Heavy Metal aesthetic from which practically all over-the-top, science-fantasy exploitation flows.

I dressed up!  Weeks before the convention, I bought a renaissance / LARP / pirate / Cosplay shirt (black) from ebay.  I wore that, the black velvet cloak I've had since college, a gothic halloween medallion, the fanciest black jeans I own (and was married in), and my black dress shoes.  It's exactly the type of thing I would wear to a Satanic ritual.  So, that felt appropriately inappropriate (which is right where I like to be).

Also, a couple months ago I decided to grow out my "wizard beard".  So, I probably looked like an extra from some Game of Thrones knockoff.  The facial hair still in phase 1, but just wait until Game Hole Con IV.  By then, my beard shall have taken over half the known realm!

I also brought in a lot of props.  Some fantasy calendars that had big, colorful pictures that I could show the entire table.  And a realistic foam sword (my wife: you paid how much for a fake sword?!?), plus a bunch of other illustrations, Terminator mask, glow stick, etc.

Taking the temperature of the room is important for a GM.  More so in a convention setting.  One table contained a jokester - one of those guys who has everyone laughing, like, every 10 or 15 minutes for the entire session.  He was seriously hilarious.  Now, it would have been a mistake for me to set myself up as his opposition, trying to "play it straight" and keep things serious.  So, I took his lead and upped the gonzo, humor, running jokes.

For instance, a couple people (including the jokester) recognized the pre-generated character name Xeljanz from the rheumatoid arthritis commercials.  That ad came on TV not too long ago when I was scribbling notes down for the convention PCs and seemed the perfect name for a dark elf or half-demon character.  Well, Xeljanz became a lighting rod for comedy.  So, too, the jeweled, egotistical sword named Zirkik.  Throughout the session, we kept calling him Zurich, Xerox, Zeke, Zircon, etc.

Also, plenty of premium Nyborg (space cocaine) was lying around the violet-black sand surrounding the islands.  I gave everyone a bonus to attack if their characters were coked out of their minds.  GMing at a convention is all about adapting to expectations, desires, and game table "texture" - those unexpected events that create myriad ripples and wrinkles in the pattern.

Rule #37:  It should be easier to die in a convention game, but also easier to be resurrected.

Purple had the weirdest ending.  I kind of painted myself into a corner, but it was super-cool.  Like my choices were silently being stolen away by Salvatore Dali.  So, I didn't mind and just went with it.  The party hid from the Purple Putrescence overhead.  Normally, a black pylon is the safest place to hide when The Thing That Rots From The Sky comes around.  But one of the players asked an innocent question to no one in particular: "Do you think we're safe in here?"  I took it upon myself to roll my 33% rule.  If the percentile dice came 01 to 33, they would not be safe at all.  The dice came up 27 or something.  So, one of those gargantuan, veined, purple tentacles wrapped itself around the pylon and uprooted the thing.

The adventurers did the only logical thing - experiment with the colored crystals until a portal opened.  They did, it did, and they escaped... to another universe that was far more Lovecraftian than even the one tenanted by the purple islands.  They had heard about a dream vision or prophecy of a man in black who would destroy the world.  The PCs thought they had met him earlier but were unsure, now there was this other dude cloaked in black and surrounded by glistening flesh full of eyes, tentacles, mouths, and leering mutant faces.

I knew I couldn't top that, so ended it right there.  Fade to black...

Liberation and Outer Presence went more as expected... but that's going to have to wait until tomorrow or the next day.

If you have a question, comment, or anything else.  Please leave a comment below!


p.s.  Special thanks to +Meredith Spearman for taking notes and then a picture of those notes.  Zirkik loved the attention but couldn't understand how his name got so mangled.  I'm pretty sure he blames Glarg or whatever that half-orcs name was...

p.p.s.  Thanks to +Tim Virnig and +Glenn Holmer for taking pictures.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Alpha Blue maps

Now, even though I just posed this question to Alpha Blue kickstarter backers (as they are my primary audience - having already pre-paid for the book), I'd still be interested to know what other gamers think.

Here is the update regarding maps.



p.s.  The color may vary slightly on the left side (more blue and less grey), but the right side is pretty much the way it'll look at the end.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Reviews for How to Game Master like a Fucking Boss

I discovered some recent reviews of my GM tips, tricks, and techniques book.  Here is one; there is another.  And a third!

How to Game Master like a Fucking Boss hasn't been universally well-received, so I'm glad these readers took some time to reflect on the book before reviewing it.

Thanks, guys!


p.s.  I'll be at Game Hole Con III this weekend.  Say "Hi" if you see me.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

D&Diesel: The Future of RPGs

And by RPGs, I mean paper and pencil roleplaying games.

For a product, hobby, art form, sport, game, or whatever you want to call it that can't be immediately purchased and played - even conceptualized - without help, such videos might just be the savior or even first-wave evolution of RPGs.

Keep this in mind, if it's not something people would ever watch on TV, it's probably not something that people will play.  Showing what RPGs are and how they're played is the initial step to getting more gamers.  In my opinion, the older cousin model of RPG introduction just isn't going to cut it in the 21st century.

  • Awesome place to play?  Check.  
  • At least one celebrity (or at least professional in the creative/performance/entertainment field)?  Check.  
  • Gamers willing to go the extra mile?  Check.

You're welcome to praise or criticize the video, players, Vin Diesel, GM, 5th edition D&D... anything having to do with this video.  Though, critiquing this particular video is not as important (to me) as critiquing the medium itself, a vehicle for getting RPGs noticed.

Assuming that RPG proliferation into the cultural mainstream is the goal, that can't happen without getting it in front of people's faces.  So, I ask you - what better way than this?


p.s.  Titansgrave: The Ashes of Valkana is a similar high-end demonstration but with more explanation on how RPGs work.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

The Purple Islands run Crimson

I really wanted to introduce Crimson Dragon Slayer to a group I'd never roleplayed with before... just to make sure my love for the game wasn't solely dependent upon the people I was constantly gaming with.  I got my wish earlier today, playing with +Forrest Aguirre, his two friends Tony and Julius, and veteran of the Ultra Zone, Daniel (who made up for Forrest's other friend who was sick and couldn't make it).

Not having time to prepare much beforehand, I decided to use The Islands of Purple-Haunted Putrescence.  I've done both 'getting to the purple islands' and 'having been on the islands for awhile' one-shots, so decided to go with the latter.

Here are the characters...

Shade Ivory, a halfling ranger/shaman was played by Julius.

Great Mega Dread, a crystalline wizard was played by Tony.

Little Plasma Bane, a robot wizard was played by Forrest.

Rex Slaughter, a dwarf warrior was played by Daniel.

Everyone rolled 3d6 in order.  Daniel rolled an actual "3" for Rex Slaughter's intelligence.  He had the option to re-roll in exchange for rolling on the dark secrets table in Liberation of the Demon Slayer.  He took advantage of that option... but to raise one of his other ability scores.  Daniel is one of the weird ones (which is probably why he feels at home at my table).

Let me see if I can get the backstory we hashed out for his character correct: he started off as the CEO of a successful company, like Christian Grey from 50 Shades of Grey.  So, in the real world (before he was sucked into the Crimson Dragon Slayer text-based RPG for the Commodore 64 by Infravision, circa 1983) he was really smart.  But then he communicated with Yogsoggoth in the public restroom of his office building.  In the stall next to his, there was a demon lord who asked for some spare toilet paper... and was denied.  Instead, he got a face full of Yogsoggoth!

"You ask for extra toilet paper, you get a Great Old One!"

The sanity-crush was too much.  Rex Slaughter went from CEO to "I like candy corn!" and I think in that moment was ushered into the Crimson Dragon Slayer game.  Thule suddenly had a new village idiot.

I won't go into too much detail, but there were several encounters.  Some cavemen inside a cave.  The savages became a cult under the leadership of Faashko, the Practitioners of the Black Path High Priest (the PCs found a wallet inside his robes).  They were sacrificing none other than Kalthalax, the legendary demon slaying sword!  Because... why not.  I had rolled on the "what are they sacrificing?" table and got relic/artifact (found in How to Game Master like a Fucking Boss).  Just so happens that I had brought my newest acquisition, a foam LARP sword that looks like it was corrupted in Hell.  So, I slapped that down on the table once the PCs had possession of it.  The players were impressed with that bit of visual aid - the kind you can take a few practice swings with.

"I like candy corn!"

Purple also has a personality table for magic swords.  It's like the dice new what the Hell they were doing... Kalthalax demanded to be worshiped.  So, that led to some interesting roleplaying between the blade and its wielder.  "Announcing my presence before I wade into the blood of your enemies would be nice."

Midway through, the PCs fought space invaders... like the video game.  As damage was done, their chartreuse neon pixels went out until all three were eventually de-rezed.  The fight was only half over before the 8' tall robot went offline for repairs.

More cultists happened by while the adventurers were sleeping.  Luckily Great Mega Dread was on watch.  Trying to ward them off himself, he cast mesmerizing magenta mist.  It worked, but the purple islands can have a strange affect on magic.  His spell also conjured 3 small sub-species imps that served him for five rounds.  In that time, the little demonic critters offed two of the cultists.

Then a purple lighting backlash electrocuted the wizard.  His scream woke up Rex Slaughter... who went back to sleep, annoyed at the interruption.

One of the strangest moments was after the new cultists' bodies had been looted.  They found a singular gemstone.  I rolled on the colors table (also in How to Game Master like a Fucking Boss) and got "color changes based on mood", #82 or something like that.  For the robot, it stayed grey, for Shade Ivory's happiness it turned yellow.  For Great Mega Dread's frustration I wanted another random color.  Believe it or not, I rolled the exact same result!

After a few seconds of thought, voicing my curiosity aloud, and a little back and forth from the players, we determined that the gemstone changed color based upon the mood of the holder, as well as, its own mood determined by how it felt about the person holding it.  Weird...

Rex Slaughter wanted to smash it, but being crystalline, Great Mega Dread was determined to keep it safe.

"Dumb is not an emotion."

Back to sleep... and that's when I rolled on Purple's "while they were sleeping" table.  I got the sleepwalking result and wondered if that mood-gem wasn't somehow responsible.  Great Mega Dread sleepwalked for a couple hours, until he came to the edge of an enormous crater filled with a hideous violet mist.

That's when a damaged tank was found with a working laser cannon.  Also, a small, thin rectangle communicator that put the adventurers in touch with Navigator Jones First Class.  He was on a space station called Alpha Blue and would pick them up in about 25 parsecs.

Before their rendezvous, the guys felt a tremor along the ground.  Seconds later, a giant purple worm erupted from the crater's center.  That's when Rex Slaughter slashed at the worm eleven times in a row (my own misinterpretation of badly worded rules regarding fighters being able to attack until they miss).  He did 64 points of damage.  Little Plasma Bane was back at the laser-tank and shot the thing for about 35 damage.  Kalthalax and a spell from the crystalline wizard finished it off after the worm had just about eaten the magic-user.

Just in time for the session to conclude, Alpha Blue descended and beamed the travelers aboard with a soft cerulean light.  They were greeted with a bevy of blonde bombshells in sparkly-silver bikinis.

From what I could tell, everyone had a great time.  There was some post-session discussion about that warrior's special ability.

In my mind, when I wrote those words, I think I meant that only new targets could be hit, if they were within range - not that a warrior can attack and just keep attacking until he misses.  Because if he's going to roll 3d6 for his dice pool, it could be a dozen rolls before his turn ends.  That's too much for everyone else to sit through.

Daniel came up with an intriguing alternative.  For every extra attack, a warrior loses a point of constitution temporarily.  I think I like that better than mine.

Well, that about does it.  Thanks for a great game, guys!


p.s.  Forrest did his own write-up here.

p.p.s.  I came home from the game to find this review of The Islands of Purple-Haunted Putrescence.  So, thanks for that, +Bill Adcock!

The Evil Dead analogy!

This morning, I stumbled upon a slew of reviews from +Timothy Brannan of The Other Side blog fame.  I'll post links below, but first I wanted to approach my RPG catalog with an analogy...

There are some books of mine that are more like The Evil Dead, an old school horror movie containing subtle moments of whimsy and humor, but plays it straight faced.  I'd categorize Liberation of the Demon Slayer, Revelry in Torth, and The Outer Presence as Evil Dead.  Precious little "monkey business".

There are other books which are more like Evil Dead II, a nice mix between horror and comedy.  Like the film, these books don't take themselves too seriously.  Plenty of scares and laughs throughout.  I'm thinking of The Islands of Purple-Haunted Putrescence, No Escape from New York, and my upcoming Alpha Blue.

It wasn't until this summer that I just let go and went total Army of Darkness with Crimson Dragon Slayer and Descent into the Candy Crypts (No Escape from New York is sort of a hybrid between II and III, I guess).

Now, when I first went to go see Army of Darkness in the theater, I was in High School.  For whatever reason, I didn't get it at the time.  I thought it was cheesy, stupid, and not particularly funny.  It wasn't until I watched The Evil Dead and Evil Dead II and then saw Army of Darkness for a second time that I "got it".  The cheesy stupidity was on purpose!  It was a parody of the genre and also a self-parody of itself.  It tried so hard to be ridiculously awesome that it became awesomely ridiculous.

I assure those willing to try Crimson Dragon Slayer that playing it can be a richer experience than merely reading the rules, just as a comedy script won't be nearly as much fun as watching the movie itself.

Anyway, without further ado, Here is Tim's review of How to Game Master like a Fucking Boss (doesn't really fit any of the categories).  There is his review of Crimson Dragon Slayer.  This is his review of The Islands of Purple-Haunted Putrescence.  That is his review of Liberation of the Demon Slayer.

I appreciate your spilling the virtual ink, hoss.  Much appreciated!


Monday, October 12, 2015

More Guilty Pleasure Films!

Just taking a break from writing Alpha Blue.  Kickstarter campaign ending in just over a week!

These are all second tier cheese, the kind of movie you should see at least once to see if you like it.  None of these are award winning films.  They're B-grade fare that's not on everyone's Must Watch, Top Ten, or Best of the Best list.  I liked these enough to watch them more than once.  That's good enough for me.

Let's get started (in no particular order)...

1.  Simon King of the Witches - This is the film that inspired me to create this blog post.  It's a little known film about 70's real world sorcery and witchcraft.

2.  Burial Ground - A weird little zombie film.  There's some creepy atmosphere, cool deaths, and unintentional humor - which just makes it funnier, in my opinion.

3.  Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things - I remember seeing the VHS box for this in a number of video rental places in the 80's.  The title and artwork alone horrified and fascinated me as a kid.  Though it's "badly" filmed, acted, scripted, and everything else, I can't help but love this film.  Things don't really get going until the end, but there's plenty of entertaining shenanigans and awful (well, I think it's kind of awesome) dialog.

4.  Class of 1984 - A high school in the mid-eighties... cranked up to 11.  Gangs, punk rock, drugs, sex, Michael J. Fox, and Roddy McDowall.  It's a dark film.  Perfect to watch before enjoying a night of No Escape From New York (available here).

5.  Humanoids from the Deep - Roger Corman and Deep Ones.  What more can I say?  The pacing could be better, I think.  I remember a couple moments being bored or, at least, not thrilled.  But then a half-naked woman gets raped on the beach by a fish-man and you're like... Wow!  Didn't expect that.

6.  Maniac - This is a great exploitation film with an insane protagonist who is actually the antagonist.  If it had more of a plot besides guy-being-creepy-at-night-and-killing-women, this would be first-tier slasher trash!  As it is, Maniac has a great look, vibe, and practical effects... but it lacks something.

7.  Stage Fright - The only reason this is here and not on some better list is because it's a cheesy Italian film from the 80's that takes place in a musical, during rehearsal.  It's part giallo, part slasher film that's a bit too colorful and lacking in suspense.  Still a good watch, though.  If you love Demons and Demons II, you'll probably also get a kick out of Stage Fright.

8.  Planet Terror - I think most people were disappointed with the Rodriguez/Tarantino grindhouse double-feature that came out back in 2007.  This one was written and directed by Robert Rodriguez and is the better of the two (the other being Death Proof).  It feels more like an extend short film than a feature-length production, but it packs a decent punch.  Interesting characters, some nice humor, well shot, good acting, etc.  The running time is only half of what makes it feel "less than enough" - the rest might be character goals.  I think "getting the Hell out of dodge" is the primary motivation for everyone in the film.  While that should be plenty for a zombie film, Planet Terror still seems to come up a bit short.

9.  Terror Firmer -  Yeah, Troma!  Whereas Planet Terror left you wanting more, Terror Firmer will leave you screaming, "Enough, that's enough already!"  I haven't seen this in many years, but looking over my massive DVD collection this morning reminded me that I should put it on real soon.  It's funny, stupid, gratuitous, and there's something interesting happening all the time.  The plot doesn't really matter, does it?  It's Troma!  And one of Troma's better films (but still not as good as Blood Sucking Freaks and Redneck Zombies).

10.  My Science Project - Compared to the rest of these films, My Science Project is straight-laced and clean-cut.  It looks like an ordinary film - but it's about time warps, weird dimensional anomalies, and area 51 type stuff.  If this had been directed by Steven Spielberg, this film would rank right up there with ET, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and Jurassic Park.  But as it is, My Science Project is kind of a sleeper.  Low-key, but big on cool ideas.

11.  Prisoners of the Lost Universe - This almost belongs on the "C list" of films to watch after you've seen everything good.  It's a film I really enjoyed back when I was ten. Imagine a session of Crimson Dragon Slayer (available here) but without the super-gonzo encounters and humor.

I bought it on DVD a few years ago and watched it with my extremely pregnant girlfriend, thinking it was going to be as awesome as I remembered.  It wasn't.  Halfway through the movie, her water broke.  We watched the remaining 40 minutes a couple days later... with a brand-new baby girl!

I know it's almost Halloween, but this isn't a scary movie list... even though some of them qualify as "horror".  To reiterate, these are just some pretty cool movies that I like - and think you might like, too.

Thanks for reading!