MonsterKid Guest Columnist

EDITOR'S NOTE: Every now and then we're going to bring in a guest columnist - one we think you'll enjoy reading. It may be someone you are familiar with. But, oft-times, it will be someone who is new to you. We hope you will enjoy their specific take on the genres we all love.

(This column contains spoilers. Consider yourselves warned!!!)

Tears Of The Kingdom (TOTK) is a lovely sequel to Breath Of The Wild (BOTW). You get to revisit the same map from BOTW but now you can explore the sky and the depths, for even more hours of exploration. I do feel the developers really took the gamers’ feedback from the BOTW game, making the shrines less difficult and putting a bit more substance into the boss fights... especially when it comes to fighting Ganon.

From this point forward I would like to discuss some of the lesser qualities of this game, because you can’t appreciate the good without getting into the bad.

The first thing I feel I need to touch upon is gaining sage powers. After you have helped each region fight off the gloom, a person from that region is bestowed sage powers which essentially creates a spirit form of themselves that follows Link on his journeys. I was initially excited about this prospect. Anyone who loves a good RPG loves to add cool members to their party. But I soon realized their help was more of a hindrance. When I did want to use their powers they were nowhere to be found. I was often running in a circle trying to find them. Their powers have a recharge time, but often you need the power right away (especially when in battle); and by the time their powers had recharged, they were on the other side of the battlefield getting into their own shenanigans. You can whistle to call them to your side, which I tried, but as soon as they were there, they started running off and doing nonsense. The sage powers can be deactivated so they don’t get underfoot all the time (because they will!) But even that is a bit annoying because at any given point you may need one of their abilities.

The shrines are back! They were not nearly as difficult as they were in BOTW, but they were also a bit too easy. Many of them were Rauru’s blessing, where you just walk in and pick up a spirit orb. You regain the ability to activate a sensor on your tablet to better locate shrines, but with the addition of more caves in this game, you could stand directly on the location of the shrine and go crazy listening to the alarm (which is somewhere down below chirping.) Later you find a clue in the depths that better helps narrow down the search. Honestly, I wish I figured out the connection sooner. I personally would have liked to see the shrines take on the appearance similar to the dungeons in our Zelda games of yore... a combination of enemies to fight while solving puzzles to reach the blessing.

My biggest issue with BOTW was that there was this beautiful expansive world, but no backstory. Now with the release of TOTK there was renewed hope that we would finally get some answers. We did get SOME answers - such as who the first rulers of Hyrule were and the origins of the boboklins - but it also left us with more questions! What happened to the Zonai race? How did such an advanced race dwindle down to nothing! Did Rauru and Sonia have a child? Also, my big question from the first game; who are the floating dragons in the sky? In TOTK we learn that dragons are created by swallowing a sage stone. If people are swallowing their sage stones to turn into dragons then where are we getting all these other sage stones? TOTK made it appear that there was a set amount of stones available. Are the three main dragons Zonai, that decided to become dragons? The mystery of all of this is part of the intrigue and motivation to keep exploring and uncovering clues to the past. But having just completed the game I’m left wanting.

What would a switch game review be without mentioning controller difficulties. I did encounter major joy-con drift about halfway through playing, and it makes sense as you are traversing large mountains and diving into the depths. It’s just annoying that Nintendo hasn’t really done anything to improve it at this point. Also navigating the different menus and items was not very intuitive. At times it seems complicated just for the sake of being complicated. I’m a very passionate player. When I’m in battle I put my whole body into it. With that being said, I was often having Link doing deep squats in the middle of battle. Slashing the knees of your enemies isn’t the most effective battle strategy.

Overall, this game is fun and a worthy successor to BOTW. I strangely enjoy this game more from an archaeological viewpoint which is why I’m upset that I didn’t unravel more mysteries. Others have mentioned to me that this game just seems like an extensive DLC to BOTW, and while I can see why they would think that, I wholeheartedly disagree. I feel the story is put together in a clever way, so that if you choose not to start from BOTW, you can still play it and not be lost.

I know we are in the summer of games right now, but definitely pick this one up.


August 2023

"Fails Of The Kingdom"

by Melissa Heyden

June 2023

"You'll Always Find Something Under The Seat"

by Bob Hagerty

It's late summer in 1957.

I am six years old, with my older sister, sitting in the Westville movie theater, in New Haven CT... watching a film called "Voodoo Woman", featuring Tom Conway, star of the "Falcon" series of films from the 1940's.

Like any other six-year-old, I am fidgeting around, playing with my popcorn, turning around and annoying the people behind me. My sister shushes me and makes me face the screen, just as a young woman lying on a table, being subjected to a voodoo ritual, morphs into a hideous monster!

The entire audience screams and when the screaming subsides, my sister is still raising her voice, shouting my name, unable to find me. She and her friend, Peggy, are in the aisles now, shouting my name in total panic.

This frightens me even MORE as I watch them, from my hiding place under the theater seat, paralyzed with fear from what I witnessed on screen, as well as the fear that radiates from my sister. I finally emerge, crying... and my sister is upset, but visibly relieved. She asks me if I'm okay and if I want to leave, but the scare has given me an odd new feeling. I realize that I was scared just like all of the older people in the theater and I liked it!

From that time forward, I was hooked on that rush of fear, watching any film and TV show that people considered "scary". Graduating from the low-cost "B" movies like "Voodoo Woman" (I STILL don't understand how a film THAT bad could have terrified an audience), to the TRUE classics, from the entire stable of Universal's classic monsters, to the well-made "B" movies of Roger Corman and American International Pictures, to the stylish films of Hammer studios, with my fandom reserved for the elegance of Chistopher Lee's portrayal of "Dracula".

Into adulthood now, not quite a Monster Kid, but certainly lurking on the fringes, I found myself enamored of the craft of filmmaking, with a particular interest in camera work. I increased my knowledge of the inner workings of filmmaking. I became less frightened and more fascinated by the writing, direction, makeup and special effects of films in the horror genre. I was "too aware" and "too knowledgeable" to be frightened by films any longer. After all, I knew the tricks that Writers and Directors used, in order to heighten the audiences' fear.

And then, it happened...

I went through a period of a few months, during which I had a recurring nightmare of being chased, on a sandy beach, by shadowy beings. Like the common dream many of us have, in which one tries to run but gets bogged down by their feet being slowly sucked into the earth, I ran until my feet, pulled down by the sand, could no longer move. The shadowy figures loomed over me, closing in, until I awoke, sweating and terrified.

Months passed and so did the dreams, until one night in 1975 or 1976, very late, I was watching TV and happened upon a film titled "Carnival of Souls". I had neither seen nor even heard of it before, but was fascinated by the quirky style of its camera work and the somewhat-documentary feeling that it had. I watched with distracted interest until I realized that my recurring nightmare was actually happening, right on the screen, in front of my very eyes!

I am certain that most of you are familiar with this film, but for those who are NOT, there is a scene in which the central character, Mary Henry, played by Candace Hilligoss, is in a pavilion on the beach, watching a large group of people dancing, when they all stop, turn to her with the darkened eyes of ghouls and began to chase her onto the beach. Her feet become mired in the sand and they all converge over her, closing in... into blackness...

I actually sat in my dark room, in abject fear. I was HONESTLY petrified, as terrified as I had EVER been, watching not just a nightmare, but MY nightmare, coming to life! This film has stuck with me for most of my adult life and my spine actually stiffens as I watch that particular scene, on those occasions when I am in the mood to view the film, again.

I had arrogantly thought that as I became older, that I outgrew the fear that horror films could evoke. I didn't realize how much I TRULY missed the feeling of total terror. It is an experience like NO other.

I went to see Jaws when it opened, and during the scene where Richard Dreyfuss' character, Hooper, is diving at a wreck, a head with a hanging eyeball, floats into view from a porthole. The ENTIRE audience screamed, myself included - a genuine scare. But when I went to see the film again, a few days later, I knew the scare was coming, while most of the audience didn't. When the scare came, I didn't move, but it looked as though something had slammed into the bottom of the theater and made the audience rise out of their seats, as one. It was a pleasure to be detached and witness the effect that the moment had on the rest of the audience. It gave me a greater appreciation of the moments that terrify us.

In the subsequent years, the brilliant novels of authors like Clive Barker, Robert McCammon and Eric LaRocca (PLEASE do yourself a favor and read "Things Have Gotten Worse Since We Last Spoke") and the films of Directors like Guillermo Del Toro, Dario Argento, Wes Craven, Takashi Miike and George A. Romero have brought me full circle.

I'm happy to say my six-year-old self has re-emerged, intact, and still occasionally wishes to crawl under the seat and relish the screams.

April 2023

"Being Married2Horror"

by Cale Patterson

     Hello, my name is Cale (Ca-lee, as in Calee-fornia) and I’m Married2Horror. Not that my husband, Rick, is a horrible guy. Quite the opposite! He just has a passion for the horror genre and shares what he enjoys about it with me, since I’m most certainly not a fan. I think Rick finds it a welcome challenge to introduce horror that elicits a positive response, from me. Depending on how scary he thinks a showing will be for me, I’ll ask him if it's a one alcoholic beverage movie or, even worse, a two.

     A little backstory on me, before we take a dive into some of my horror movie shenanigans…er, experiences; From a very young age, I had my mom contorting her face and shambling towards me while making wailing noises. That’s always terrified me to the core and probably explains my dislike of zombies. I even called her “Momster”. Nowadays, I recognize that she was just being silly, but I have this gnawing suspicion it was to make up for my upcoming naiveté. You see, growing up in the 80’s, I had the luxury of playing video games. But I was completely oblivious to the horror industry that flooded the decade, by way of the video cassettes that lined the shelves of video rental stores. GG, Momster! (“Good Game, Momster!” for you non-gamers.)

     I’d like to start with some of my “Aw hell naw!” moments, followed by a movie we appreciate as a family. You see, I become completely unhinged, when creepy crawlies are involved. Think Peter Jackson’s KING KONG with the giant toothy worm creatures (my intensive research told me they were called Carnictis Sordicus… not that it mattered. They were just gross). I can’t explain why I could feel those worms’ teeth and the undulating pressure as they intently devoured people’s limbs and heads. My “Aw hell naw!” was in full swing with that scene in the theater. I turned to Rick and saw we were both surprised by this brazen horror nugget, found in a most unlikely place. I mean, KING KONG??? Of course, he was thrilled. I… well… not-so-much.

     When we lived in our tiny apartment, Rick would put on all manner of movies as background noise while I packed our online orders to be shipped. It was during the day, with – in most cases - the sun shining brightly and it was easy for me to look away if anything was becoming too intense. One of these times, RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD was on and it caught my attention. I was ok with this quirky and fun movie about grave robbers and slow walking dead. Rick forgot about the jump scare that showcased the juiciest zombie ever and we know about my trauma (GG, Momster). My “Aw hell naw!” kicked in when Tar Man, crashed through the window. Needless to say, that was the end of the movie, as far as I was concerned.

     Unless there’s some fantastical, sci-fi, or supernatural element, horror that mirrors reality too closely isn’t enjoyable for me. To me, those stories are about human depravity and deplorable acts. For that reason, Rick hasn’t shown me THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE or anything that falls under this category. I’d get alcohol poisoning before being ok enough to watch any of it. Although, this one time, Rick was watching THE LAST DRIVE-IN showing of MOTHER’S DAY. He normally watches Joe Bob with our youngest but sent her away when he found out what the movie was. It was dark outside and I was finished packing the online orders, leaving me with nothing to do, but to give the movie my full attention. So, there were three red flags waving in my face, warning that I shouldn’t continue watching this film, yet I stayed. At first, the weird country folks were just gross and stupid, but then they started messing with the women and I “Aw hell naw!”-ed right out of there, as fast as my feet could carry me.

     Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all terrible tales of woe, here at the Patterson abode. As promised, here’s a happy-ish horror experience. When our youngest was 6 years old, she walked into the room while THE BABADOOK was playing and absolutely loved it. Sometime later, I noticed that she’d seen it multiple times and I hadn’t watched it once. So, I totally pitted my child’s Horror Movie Tolerance Meter against mine and thought maybe I can watch this movie, too? I’m thankful I did! The director pulled such powerful performances from the two most prominent characters in the movie; Noah Wiseman (the son) and Essie Davis (the mom). It taught me so much about the mom’s need to grieve and start the healing process. Now, THE BABADOOK is the movie I introduce to my friends with the line; “If I can watch it, you can watch it”. There is one scene that Rick and I deemed inappropriate for our youngest near the beginning. We asked her to either vacate the room or cover her head for that one. But except for that – and I’m shocked to be saying this; nothing screams “family-time” in our household like THE BABADOOK.

     Rick continues to journey with me through scary territory, through the good, bad and the occasional WTF moment, like with SKINAMARINK. (We saw it in the theater and I regret that we paid money for it.) But, through all of it, we have found some common ground. We’re going on almost 20 years of me being “married2horror” and I’m looking forward to what I find out about myself in the next 20!

I am now in the process of doing a pretty cool podcast called married2horror, on my own YouTube Channel; The Cattican Company. Check it out! We should have the first episode posted soon. Why not join us in our exploration of all things horror? There’s bound to be some entertainment value, there for you, no matter which side of the horror coin you’re on!