In addition to the usual reviews and comments you would find on a horror movie blog, this is also a document of the wonderfully vast horror movie section of the video store I worked at in my youth.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

A Puzzle of Flesh.

Last Sunday, I went to a little screening of Phantasmagoria: A Puzzle of Flesh.

Now for those who don't know, Phantasmagoria was a pair of adventure games from the mid-nineties put out by Sierra On-Line. Unlike most video games, these featured full-motion-video sequences. They may ring a bell as games like this (most notably Sega's Night Trap) were the center of the video game violence Congressional hearings of 1993.

I had little access to FMV games back in the day (1993's Dracula Unleashed and the Sega CD titles I sampled on the display console at my video store were the extent of it), but I always found them an interesting medium. I watched a walkthrough of the first Phantasmagoria a while back, but I didn't even know there was a sequel until a few weeks ago when I learned of this event.

Now when I say “screening”, I mean that Toronto-based filmmaker Pierce Derks painstakingly went through hours and hours of gameplay footage to splice together the cut scenes into a (semi) coherent narrative. A joint effort by the Laser Blast Film and Hand Eye Societies, this little project was glorious.

What to say about A Puzzle of Flesh... Well, I've heard it described as The Office meets Skinemax meets Hellraiser, as well as Zalman King directed by Brian Yuzna. All of these descriptions are accurate. With all of the tedious gameplay removed and the fact that most of the footage was shot on actual sets - as opposed to the bluescreen of most FMV games - Pierce's cut actually plays like a legitimate (well, legitimately fucked up) B-movie.

For 1996, this project was extremely subversive for a video game, not only for its sex and gore, but also its depictions of S&M and bi-sexuality. And in keeping with WIHM, both Phantasmagorias were spearheaded by women, Roberta Williams and Lorilei Shannon, respectively.

This was a fantastically fun event and hopefully Pierce will put his cut online one day for everyone to enjoy.

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