Joy Division, vinyl reissues
Joy Division was a huge gateway band for me—one of the first non-Top 40 acts that broke into my brain as a teen. When our family got our first CD player (R.I.P., CD players), it came with a gift certificate to Radio Doctors, where I purchased The Sugarcubes’ Life’s Too Good and Joy Division’s Substance, both of which were played into oblivion. Substance was a weird one, its name an homage to the hit compilation released by New Order—the band Joy Division became after singer Ian Curtis killed himself—and its track list more a mishmash than a greatest hits. But it’s an essential part of the band’s story, and it’s just been issued on vinyl for the first time with its CD tracklist intact, now on two pieces of heavyweight wax instead of one, and featuring audio remastering from 2007 and 2010. The key bonus is the “Pennine” version of “Love Will Tear Us Apart,” which brings a clarity to the song that its single version doesn’t. (It’s not better, just different.) The Substance reissue—it’s also out again on CD and digitally with all the tracks—is part of a complete Joy Division series: Unknown Pleasures, Closer, and Still are all newly available as well, with their packages and catalog numbers intact, for obsessive Factory Records enthusiasts. They look and sound awesome. [Josh Modell]
We recently reported that AMC was beta testing a stand-alone streaming service dedicated solely to horror. Well, the testing phase is over, the site is open for business—and whether you’re a casual movie fan curious about exploring horror, or a serious fright-o-phile who can tell their Bavas from their Argentos, the service is a delight. Shudder.com is your one-stop horror shop for all things terrifying and ghoulish in cinema. Currently, the site only has a little more than 250 films, but they’ve been lovingly curated, with some of the best obscure titles standing alongside more well-known fare like The Hills Have Eyes. In a recent perusal, I was thrilled to see superior but criminally under-seen films like Pontypool and Red White & Blue there for the watching.
But the collections are really where the site has outdone itself. Horror is a catch-all term for a huge variety of films, and the site has assembled a series of inventive and useful distinctions, the better to find exactly the kind of scary flick you’re in the mood for. Like haunted house stories? Check out the list of films under the “Haunted Habitations” collection. Or maybe you get freaked out by tales of people losing their marbles, in which case “The Unraveling Mind” contains the movies you’d like to see. There’s a collection of canonical slashers all horror fans should see under “Slashics”—vampire films, monster movies, and even documentaries. That kind of attention to detail is what sets the streaming service apart. Plus, it’s just $5 a month to become a member—it would be monstrous not to take advantage of Shudder. [Alex McCown]
Anyone who was playing video games in the mid-’90s probably has a fair share of horror stories about the briefly lived fad for full-motion video games. For every The Beast Within or Pandora Directive that used live-action sequences to get players somewhere close to the ideal of an “interactive movie,” there were a dozen more like Night Trap or A Fork In The Tale that proved that shoving a bunch of footage of Dana Plato or Rob Schneider onto a CD did not an enjoyable game experience make.
Still, leave it to modern-day game designers to find the pearl of a great idea hidden within the genre’s pixelated shell, because the last year has seen multiple games employ full motion video to achieve tremendously interesting results. The best of these is Sam Barlow’s Her Story, in which an unseen investigator attempts to piece together the details of a decades-old crime using archival footage of police interviews with one of the suspects. Starring actress and musician Viva Seifert, Her Story sometimes resembles a hypertext novel more than a game, with the player hunting for keywords in Seifert’s dialogue in order to pull new clips from the outdated database system. But the dopamine rush of stumbling onto a new set of unwatched videos, or of finding an illuminating new thread to start pulling on, is immensely satisfying, and the game captures the feeling of reading a great detective novel, hunting for clues and trying to piece the narrative together in advance of it being spelled out explicitly. [William Hughes]