Friday, September 18, 2009

Followup on Insect Shrine Cover, Cannibals. and a Question!

Kevin Mayle goes into a bit of detail about how he did the colors for the Insect Shrine cover here.

That update talks about a logo he did for Pacesetter Games & Simulations. Anyone have any additional information on who is behind this company?

I finally watched those Cannibal movies I rented (yay 7 movies for 7 days for 7€). Mountain of the Cannibal God, Cannibal Ferox, and Eaten Alive! were all complete shit. Even for exploitation movies. Idiot characters doing stupid things to the point where it was impossible to feel sorry for even the innocent characters, the plots were nearly identical (although wasn't that obvious going in?), and just... ugh. The stupid, it burns. Cannibal Holocaust was immensely disturbing on many levels, mainly because it could be taken seriously. It punches you in the gut and never lets up. These other movies were just laughable. Yes, they were gross, but that's all they were, and in some cases so over the top they skipped right over nauseating and moved straight on into gonzo comedy. There's a reason the Cannibal Holocaust director was arrested upon suspicion for really killing his actors (which he he didn't, of course, but I've seen an interview with one of the actors where the guy states that they weren't sure on the set for a little while if that was the intent, haha) and these other clowns weren't.

The movies I rented all featured on-screen castration, they all featured real-life animal killings. And not to defend Cannibal Holocaust in this regard, but the animal killings in these movies I rented were really immoral and irresponsible. In Cannibal Holocaust, real animals were killed on-screen but in all but one case the animals killed were really eaten by members of the crew; for example the turtle killing was sickening but was at the same moral level as filming what happens down at the slaughterhouse to turn a cow into a steak. They showed the animal being killed and cooked and eaten in the movie, in a manner that they are when cameras aren't rolling. But there were completely stomach-turning things like an actor shooting a pig and then giving an in-character speech about jungle brutality where the fact that the pig was then eaten doesn't excuse the cruelty of the thing writhing around after being shot by some guy who wasn't exactly aiming straight. So don't take my endorsement of "Cannibal Holocaust is better" to mean everything is A-OK, because it's not.

But these movies I rented? The movie would stop and the "action" would cut to a setup where one animal would eat another. In one case, they threw a sedated monkey at a python or whatever kind of snake it was (I say sedated because it really didn't struggle). So we sit there for two or three minutes watching this snake crush this monkey, including a closeup of the monkey's head, eyes blinking pitifully, inside the snakes mouth. Another situation had some sort of rat or weird jungle animal tied to a stake (it was a "pet" of a character) and they sicced a snake on it. These things had nothing to do with the plot of the movie, they were just unnecessary (on any level, even the flimsiest of narrative justifications) cruelty. Absolute garbage intended to shock but having no further point than that.

The only movie of the three I rented that wasn't completely morally bankrupt was Eaten Alive!, but that's just because they didn't kill any animals for this movie. No, what they did was just use the footage of animal deaths from other movies (including one of the other ones I rented!) and stuck it in. Hell, every instance of gore was footage from other movies inserted into the bad acting on offer here. Garbage. Garbage. Garbage.

So this research mission was a bust and I certainly won't be using any of the "original" ideas from these movies in any of my work (no, not even the cannibal that gets so sexually aroused he starts humping a large pig. I bet Stacy Keach and Ursula Andress were so proud to be in that movie), doing little more than spoiling my appetite for a few hours but leaving no further impression than these filmmakers have no clue what they are doing.

If you are wanting to see a cannibal movie, stick with Cannibal Holocaust. It is a serious, well-made movie that shocks because it is a credible piece of film. But it is still reprehensible on many levels, but I guess that's the difference between actually making a cannibal movie or just making a beginning-of-Raiders-of-the-Lost-Ark adventure movie.

I will investigate that Aguirre movie that several of you recommended last week.

For the record, the other movies we rented were Hellraiser, The Shining, Evil Aliens (goofy fun, nothing serious), and The Cottage (crime/horror story with Andy Sirkis and League of Gentleman's Reece Shearsmith - not very serious or profound but an entertaining 90 minutes, and made me think how this story wouldn't work for an American movie, with none of these criminal sorts having a gun).


  1. Aguirre, the Wrath of God follows a conquistador during his journey deep into the heart of South America, looking for the lost city of gold. It's intense on a lot of levels, not least of which being his slow, megalomaniacal descent into delusions of godhood. I saw this movie for the first time in film school, and I've watched it a couple other times since. It's not a cannibal/horror movie, but there are a lot of disturbing/horrorific elements to it, mostly revolving around the sheer brutal lunacy of the conquistador's "invasion" through the utterly inhospitable jungle environment.

  2. Aguirre Wrath of God is a true classic. I saw this long ago in my college days as part of a Klaus Kinski double feature; I don't even remember the first movie, but seeing this on the big screen in the art house theatre blew me and my friends away; I can say since then it's had a huge influence on my gaming worlds. I enjoy placing characters in very primitive conditions and watching them try to work their way out of it without a lot of the usual devices to fall back on.

  3. Hi, this is Kevin.
    That's bbarsh at the Acaeum for Pacesetter Games.
    I read his post here: and had an idea for a logo and an hour of free time.
    After speaking with him I made that design and sent it, but I've gotten no response, so he might not like it. I don't know.

  4. Like Badmike Aguirre Wrath of God has influenced my gaming, basically conquistadors of the movie are adventurers in something way over their heads.

  5. I actually took a date to see Cannibal Holocaust. I knew absolutely nothing about the movie, and was expecting something more of a bog standard splatter film, or even a Troma-style gross out comedy. This was a first date mind you, with a girl I barely knew.

    Needless to say, I was pretty mortified and fully expected to be slapped by this poor girl. Oddly, she thought the movie was hilarious (which was almost more unnerving than the film itself). I (correctly) took this as a warning to her mental state, but she was pretty attractive so I ended up dating her for a lot longer than was healthy.

    But then again I took a date to see a movie called Cannibal Holocaust, so I'm clearly an idiot.

    Side note: I HIGHLY recommend the book "The Lost City of Z" by David Grann. It's a true account of the doomed Fawcett expedition to the Amazon in 1925, complete with jungle fever, starvation, obsessed treasure hunters, and cannibalism. I've found it to be a great influence on the "wilderness exploration" portions of my games. My players have learned to fear Nature almost as much as they fear the dungeon!

    And that Insect Shrine cover is amazing. From the pieces I've seen, I think you're putting out some of the nicest looking books in the OSR.

  6. I would do some research on the real life Ache headhunters. Really inspiring stuff there. They believe everyone is immortal barring a magical death; before someone can die a magical ceremony has to be performed by somebody else that weakens the person's personal power to the point that they can die. The idea of a group of men sitting in a circle and conducting a ceremony designed to weaken one particular person somewhere out there in the jungle, and then setting out to take his head, is deeply fascinating to me. Every time you kill someone and take their head, you get some of their personal power and become that much stronger yourself.

  7. Aguirre is great and Lost City of Z is interesting. Cannibal Holocaust is classic. Emerald Forest, directed by John Boorman (of Zardoz fame) is also good.

  8. Update: The logo has been chosen for all of Pacesetter Games upcoming products.
    I believe the first one should be "The Lost Caravan" in November.