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It's a damn shame that Resident Evil 6 isn't any fun. I guess it is, if you like perpetual quick-time events and gimpy shotguns, but I don't think many people do. The survival-horror genre as we knew it in the '90s and early 2000s is pretty much dead, and it's time to come up with something new.
In true Resident Evil tradition, I think developers need to reexamine horror movies for their inspiration. Not zombie movies or slasher films but truly bizarre cinematic gems like Sweet Home.
Sweet Home (and the Nintendo Famicom role-playing game based on it) helped inspire Resident Evil. The series has certainly moved beyond its creepy haunted house roots, but it took a weird horror movie to kick off a beloved franchise.
So, let's do that again. While going through my sizable collection full of terrible and downright absurd movies from the '60s and '70s, I found a few that I really want to see someone try to turn into playable games. If people can make a Slender Man adventure, I know someone, somewhere can create experiences around these cult classics.
1) Death Bed: The Bed that Eats (1977)
If you've heard of Death Bed, it's probably because of comedian Patton Oswalt's jokes about it. The title reveals most of the plot: A demonic bed that consumes people who lie on it.
What it doesn't tell you is that the movie is actually narrated by Victorian artist Aubrey Beardsley who ended up trapped inside one of his drawings because of the bed's wicked ways. Through his gloomy descriptions, we find out that a demon created the bed so he could woo a human woman that he loved. When she died, his tears turned a harmless piece of furniture into an acid-filled nightmare.
I can see a Death Bed game working like a Rube Goldberg machine. The idea is that you have to set up different scenarios to trick people into lying down or otherwise falling victim to the bed. Each level introduces increasingly bizarre scenarios, and Aubrey Beardsley could outline the objectives and provide insight into what nonplayer characters are afraid of or interested in.
When people try to get away mid-digestion, the bed could manipulate things in the room to keep them trapped like wrapping them in sheets or knocking them back with chairs. It's possessed. It can do whatever it needs to.
2) The Wizard of Gore (1970)
This completely nonsensical splatter film directed by Herschel Gordon Lewis got a fancy remake not too long ago, but I prefer the original. Like most HGL flicks, the plot is just an outline for tons of gruesome murder scenes. Violence sells, and Lewis earned the title "Godfather of Gore" by proving people would pour into theaters to see horrible things happen to pretty people.
Montag the Magnificent has a brand new magic act full of brutal, seemingly simulated torture. He invites women on stage and basically rips them apart. But, in the blink of an eye, they return to their seats without a scratch. That's until they leave the theater…. One by one, all of Montag's volunteers die in random places, suffering from the wounds he inflicted on stage.
In the original movie, a reporter starts making the connection that Montag is actually killing these women on stage and magically reassembling them, but that revelation comes a bit too late. Montag's powers are slowly brainwashing everyone in town and, soon, the world!
I could see this premise fitting well inside a paranormal adventure/investigation-type game. The protagonist is probably the only person not in Montag's thrall, and the plot builds around him/her trying to uncover the truth while everyone else goes on thinking the deaths are unrelated or simply inspired by Montag's act.
I don't see this experience appealing to many gamers since it wouldn't have a lot of action or hardly any combat, but it could turn into a tense paranormal thriller if it had a similar style to Frogwares' Sherlock Holmes series.
3) Blood Freak (1972)
This movie started out as a Christian scare film trying to motivate youngsters to stop doing drugs. One unlucky junkie inexplicably turns into a half-turkey beast and resorts to drinking blood.
This game adaptation would put you in the role of the turkey monster. You would have to stalk ne'er-do-well teenagers and put an end to all their devious ways. Admittedly, you couldn't take this premise very seriously, but I like the idea of taking control of a B-movie monster as you go on a rampage. It could even incorporate some mechanics found in the original Xbox title Stubbs the Zombie, letting you create an army of ex-junkie animal men punishing the world for its substance abuse.
It was the '70s. Horror movies about mutants made perfect sense in the fight against drugs!