Top Five Best Comedy Horror Films

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It’s the end of October! It’s also Halloween, and I know many people who are more than happy that it falls on a Friday this year.
My family doesn’t celebrate Halloween for religious reasons – some of which, after studying the lore, I can understand. But I do enjoy the autumn scenery, and being a fan of horror, I enjoy using the holiday as an excuse to stay up into the wee hours of the morning with a movie marathon.
This year, the marathon is question is going to be an Evil Dead-athon, watching the original trilogy and finishing with the reboot which I haven’t seen. As I mentioned before, The Evil Dead is my all time favorite horror film, but when you’ve seen as many horror films as I have, it’s hard to really narrow it down. For the sake of that previous post, I omitted quite a few other movies that carry the ‘horror’ label, but lean further on a comedic tone. I am a HUGE fan of black comedy, and if I had included these, the previous list might have gone a whole different direction.
So we’ve had our (subjective) list of best horror movies, here’s the my (subjective) list of the top five best black comedy/campy horror films!

NUMBER FIVE

Freddy vs. Jason

Now, to some people, they might truly consider this a horror film. After all, it has two of the genre’s biggest stars duking it out in a battle of murderous dominance. And admittedly, it does have a little bit of fear working for it – mostly in the range of jump scares, but hey, whatever works.
This is number five on my list because it is a LOT of fun. The fight scenes between Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees are really only reason to watch the film. The story, while decent, wasn’t executed in the best way. The characters are ‘eh’, with stereotypes and tropes guiding them the entire way, and the acting is equally ‘meh’.

But like I said, the movie is really about the two killers, and that’s where it shines. The reason for their feud is decent enough, and some of the ideas really work. I enjoyed the separation between the two domains of Freddy’s dream world, (signified by the color red), and Jason’s Camp Crystal Lake reality, (signified by the color blue). It really added some nice contrast, and I enjoyed the fact that they each were more powerful in their own realm.
I also enjoyed that they included the weaknesses between Freddy’s fire and Jason’s water. It added some nice background, and it really made it seem like a battle of the elements.

But don’t get me wrong, FVJ is a camp-fest. Right down to the overuse of Freddy’s oneliners, Jason turning into a deformed man-baby after being confronted with water, and that scene where Freddy throws Jason around and it makes pin ball noises? I mean, once the pin ball noises were added, it became camp.

Nevertheless, it’s an entertaining movie, no matter what people say. A good movie? That might be stretching it. But entertaining it is, and very much worth the hour and thirty eight minutes.

NUMBER FOUR

Scream

This movie… I’m sorry I have to put it at four, because that makes it seem less worthy than it really is. I would say that number four and three could easily be interchangeable, and this was merely a choice that had to be made.

I really, really like this movie. I watched the trilogy (which is all that matters in my book, they ended it just right and the forth one doesn’t count) about a year ago, but I’ve been wanting to watch this movie since I was about ten years old. The Ghostface costume was popular, and I wanted to wear it for Halloween (back when we celebrated it) and watch the movie so I’d know my source material.
I never did, but instead we settled on me watching Child’s Play and being Chucky. Eh.

But, later on when I was much older and could pretty much watch what I wanted, I gave it a watch and it was fantastic. It was directed by Wes Craven, the director of the original Nightmare on Elm Street, had this fantastic meta feel to it AND had a legitimately good twist.

The weird thing about this movie is that I feel it’s half and half on the comedy/horror spectrum. It is a genuinely freaky movie, because this is just some dude in a common costume. It isn’t supernatural at all, and it makes it very real.
But some of the actions of the characters… the very nature of the premise, and the meta feel in general I believe allows me to put it on this list. After all, I don’t think anyone will say that watching Scream scarred them for life.

But definitely give this a watch, and the entire trilogy if you have a chance. It is a very good progression, and it honestly got better each movie.
Just leave the forth movie alone.

NUMBER THREE

Army of Darkness

Like I said, you can safely change number three and fours place back and forth if need be. But what kind of list would this be if I didn’t include Army of Darkness?
Despite not having the Evil Dead name, (apparently it was supposed to be called the Medieval Dead, which is brilliant and I don’t know why they scrapped it), this is the last movie of the Evil Dead trilogy, and picks up where the last movie finished. Ash Williams, now the ultimate epitome of a man, has gone through a portal to the Middle Ages and must save a kingdom from the Deadites by retrieving the Necronomicon and saying the magic words, “Klaatu barada nikto”, which came from the 1951 film, The Day the Earth Stood Still.

I saw this film when I was very young – six, seven, eight… it was one of the few movies my family had on VHS, and I was allowed to watch it due to its light horror. I had no clue it was part of a series until many years later.

This movie, like it’s predecessors, is a LOT of fun. This film relies on slapstick humor for most of it, which I typically don’t enjoy. But it just works SO well here, perhaps because we’re already accustomed to seeing Ash take the abuse.

Despite coming from a series of rather scary films, the first being terrifying and the second, while a little campy, still fairly freaky – if you go on Wikipedia, they don’t have the word ‘horror’ any where it talks about genre. Instead calling it a ‘comedy-dark fantasy’.

But still. It has some good creepy bits, even if its almost always laced with humor. It’s a great movie, and the best part is you don’t have to watch the others if you don’t want too. It works well as a third entry in a series, and as a stand alone film.

NUMBER TWO

Zombieland

When I first heard of this movie, I was expecting a budget film. It looked like it could be a fun romp at best, or a heaping pile of one hour and twenty seven minutes I’d never get back. I didn’t know anyone who starred in it at the time, and I just wasn’t a zombie fan.

Then I sat down and watched it, and for the next hour and twenty seven minutes… I was enthralled. The comedic timing, the acting, the bad-assery that is Woody Harrelson… this movie did so many things right. What I assumed would only have the bare minimum of entertainment value turned out to be one of the smartest, funnest, and despite the context of the movie… realest movies of that year, and maybe of the past ten years.

But still, it isn’t the best.
This next movie, like Zombieland, is another zombie film.
And it’s the best damned one… horror, camp, comedy, or whatever… I’ve seen.

NUMBER ONE

Shaun of the Dead

This movie, put simply into one word, is brilliant. Just thinking about it makes me want to watch it again.
I am a big fan of the Cornetto trilogy in the first place. All of the actors are fantastic, the first two films were fantastic, the third was good… but this first movie is just it for me. I dunno, it just hits me in all the right places. Lubes my gears something swell.

Perhaps I’m biased. British comedy is my favorite. Would the movie be as good if it were American? Probably not. There is just something special about it. Something I just can’t pinpoint.

The chemistry between Simon Pegg and Nick Frost is just undeniably great. Never before, that I’ve seen, have two actors fit so well together. (Well, besides maybe Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki, but that’s a different topic).

The little romantic aspect between Shaun and Liz isn’t too intrusive, or too overbearing. They don’t force it, it fits right within the story with ease.
The incompetence of Shaun and Ed is fantastic. Too often does a movie start off with leads that are bumbling idiots, but just by happenstance they do a complete personality change and end up as charismatic heroes that can take on anything. Shaun and Ed start off as fools, and for the most part… they stay fools. They get by pretty much on pure luck, not because any of them know what the hell to do, which feels a LOT more like what would happen in reality, but just simply they happened to do the right thing at the right time.

One of my favorite bits in the film was them beating on one of the zombies while Queen’s ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ plays in the background. I enjoyed the record throwing scene, I enjoyed Shaun and Ed walking through the street drunk at night, singing, and a zombie provides background vocals. There’s so much to this movie to laugh at and enjoy.

It’s little things like that, that makes this movie so great. It is a movie about a couple idiots making their way through the zombie apocalypse, and yet it is so smart, so well done, so funny… this is some of the best that the zombie genre has to offer. Wherever you are, if you have an hour and thirty-nine minutes free, go swing by Wal-Mart and pick this movie up. Most Wal-Marts I’ve been too have it in their five dollar movie bin, so if you are looking for some of the best comedy around, this is great watch. The minutes will just fly by.

HONORABLE MENTION

The Cabin in the Woods

This movie was an unexpected joy. It reminds me of Scream in the way that they both commented on the genre of movie they were trying to portray. At first, you are led to believe that you are going to be subjected to a sub-par Evil Dead type film, with stereotypes and tropes galore. You have all your classic characters – the jock, the stoner, the slut, the virgin girl… all college age and going away together for some good ‘ol hedonism.
But that’s not the case. It’s a movie that defies everything you know and it works EXTREMELY well in their favor. I won’t reveal anything, because you need to see it for yourself. So go on, after Shaun of the Dead, give this a whirl.

This is only getting honorable mention because while it is a great film… there wasn’t the special click with me that all these other films had. With this, I was enjoying a good movie. All of the others, it went on a much higher level for me, so that’s why it’s not up there.

And that’s about it on the film front for now! Once again, this is merely my personal list of best films. Our idea of best might be exactly the same, or completely different.

I hope everyone had a fantastic, safe Halloween, whether you’re young enough to be trick-r-treating, or old enough to not care if you’re young enough to be trick-r-treating.
And whether from my list or not, enjoy some horror movies. Tonight gives anyone the perfect excuse to enjoy any of the horror flicks that float your boat.

Also, tomorrow marks the first day NaNoWriMo! So you can expect frequent updates from me on the writing process, and the novel itself entitled ‘The Bright Side to the Dark Arts’. My Twitter will also be updated on a (hopefully) daily basis with progress.

And on Sunday, I’ll have a review on one of my most anticipated albums this year… I had high hopes, and as I write this I’m listening to the album for the sixth time.

So once again, have a happy Halloween and I’ll see you on Sunday!

And that’s all I have to say about that.

– Brandon, 6:48 PM

‘Horror’, ‘Terror’, and everything in-between

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When people think of the two separate words, ‘horror’ and ‘terror’, they usually think of them as interchangeable. Horror seems to be the prevailing term, as the go-to term for everything deemed frightening, whether movie, book, or music. There really isn’t a ‘terror’ movie genre, but instead ‘horror’ movies that are terrifying. Horror is usually the genre, while we use terror and its many variations as an adjective to describe the horror film/book/etc.
I generally don’t have a problem with this in the film industry. It works just fine, and when I want to see a movie I know exactly where to look. The line is vague, but there. But when we get to writing… I feel that the line between the two adjectives need to be more clean cut.

Horror and terror mean two separate things. Generally both are frightening, but the distinction comes from what makes it frightening.
When I think of horror… something that is horrifying, I usually think of gore. Shock value. Saw, Hostel, The Human Centipede… what happens in those movies are horrific. I mean, people getting chopped in pieces, tortured, and sown mouth to anus? Disgusting. Horrifying. It is horrible to see these things happen, because the thought of it happening in real life to anyone including yourself makes you sick and scared. That is typically how horror works, at least in my mind, is the real of something that gruesome happening to yourself or people you care about.

Terror, on the other hand, is a bit more heavy handed and also subjective. Something that is terrifying is generally more mental. Someone’s terror won’t be yours and vice-a-versa, but whatever yours might be it is a truly terrible thing to witness. It sends chills down your spine. You start looking behind your back, and jumping at the smallest sound. Your brain goes into high alert, and the thought of it being a film is usually no consolation.
Something that is terrifying has a lot more fear factor than horror does. Less gore, more mentality that screws with the way you know things. Terror brings the fear from the movie or book, and forms itself into something very real inside your head. It puts a pit in your stomach of pure dread.
Films like the first Nightmare on Elm Street, Insidious, The Evil Dead, and the first Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Once again, subjective, but generally things that rely on ambiance, subtlety, and surrealism fare better as terrifying then things that have visuals that are, horrible or not, based in reality.

Terror is the unknown. The ‘what could be’. It’s the suspense of not knowing, it’s the fear of whatever hit that personal spot in one’s mind that makes them afraid in the first place.

Terror is the little child who truly believes that there is a monster under his bed. It is the child who tries sleeping with one eye closed, one eye in the shadows to watch that creeping shape. It is the person who swore he heard his name called, or heard a scream, or saw an image in the corner of his eyes. The feeling of not knowing is intense. Whether or not there is something lurking in the shadows doesn’t matter. It is the fear of not knowing.
Horror is the feeling you get after you know for sure… after you swallow that lump in your throat and realize that yes, there is something in the corner that is going to jump out at you once you move or scream.

Both are brilliant emotions, but must be used carefully and must be controlled and tamed for whatever you may be writing. My own horror novel, The New Phantasm, strives for the terror of uncertainty for a good portion of it. The main character, Aubrey Kasey, has no clue what is hunting him or why. It is an enigma, the villain is literally made of the shadows, so he has no idea how to fight back, how to defend himself, or even where to look.

I do believe terror is more potent, which is why I spread it over the majority of what I’m writing. I feel that the horror should come at once, in one big blow, in one revelation, and let the horror of what has happened carry the rest of the story.

Of course, this is just my opinion. People have different methods for delivering horror or terror, and a lot of them work brilliantly. The key is finding the right combination that works for you, and how to deliver it so there isn’t an overpowering sense to whatever your writing. There have been books I’ve had to stop reading, movies I’ve had to stop watching, because I didn’t think I could stomach anymore.
The trick is to keep them on the brink of that… never let them go over, keep them invested enough that they want to know what is going to happen so they keep on turning the page… but at times, so scared they don’t know why.

So to everyone, keep on writing… NaNoWriMo is right around the corner, and I’ll have more information on my first year participating soon.
Everyone enjoy the continuing descent into Autumn, and I’ll see you on Halloween for a little more movie talk.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

– Brandon, 11:24 PM

Fear, Fright, and The Top Five Best Horror Films

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Horror.

I love it.

Horror is my favorite genre of film, it is my favorite genre of book… I grew up with R.L. Stein’s Goosebump series, moved through his teenage books, and graduated to Stephen King, my favorite author of all time. Video games that include horror usually rank higher than others… Bioshock and the original Half-Life are two of my favorite games of all time.

There usually aren’t many medium level horror fans. Either you stray away, or you embrace it with open arms.
The feeling of fear is such a complex emotion, and the horror or terror that accompany it, if done correctly, leave long lasting impressions.

I’m frequently disappointed with modern horror. Too much of it relies on shock value and gore, rather than even attempting to induce the psychological terror that makes some horror movies so great. That’s the problem- people think blood, guts, and brains will make people afraid. Not anymore, with each generation becoming less and less sensitive to violence, this doesn’t work as much. And the people that do enjoy gore-fests, these are people that either enjoy them simply as a spectacle and not something to fear, or they are just easily entertained and freaked out.

But for the people with my kind of taste, it takes some work to freak me out. I mean… really, freak me out. Sure, you can get me startled with a jump scare, but that isn’t fear.

You want fear? I have got fear. In honor of October, every post until the end of the month will be horror related. And today, I am going to give you my top five favorite horror movies… because of the fear factor, the writing, the camera work… these are legitimately good movies.
Also, just to help us out, I won’t be covering dark comedies, or funny horror… you won’t find any Shaun of the Dead here.
And this list IS definite. This isn’t subjective, no, these are the best horror movies to grace the big screen.
(Sarcasm doesn’t come out quite right through writing. That was sarcasm, if you couldn’t gather.)

Possible spoilers.

NUMBER FIVE

Misery – 1990 

I already said that I love Stephen King. Forget the fact that a lot of his books have the same similar plot, all take place in a small town in Maine and involve an author who likes to get drunk, Stephen King is my biggest inspiration and my favorite author. Frequently, though, as it usually is the movie adaptions of his books aren’t always on par. I enjoyed The Shining. The Green Mile, all the obvious ones. I didn’t like Carrie, or IT, or Cujo… but one of my favorite books got one of my favorite movie adaptions of ANYTHING, and subsequently became one of my favorite horror movies.

For me, a good bit of the horror didn’t directly come from what Annie actually did, but simply from the possibilities of what she COULD do. The moments when Paul was roaming around the house when she was gone, or hiding the blister-pack of pills? This was probably the hardest my heart has ever pumped with fear.

I’m also a fan of Kathy Bates. I don’t seek out everything she does, but when she’s in something I watch it is always a nice surprise. Her character is very creepy. Not terrifying per-say, but the unpredictability of her personality and how she can burst at the drop of a dime is pretty freaky.

Misery is a movie that any Stephen King fan needs to see… and a pretty good horror film for anyone that can handle the slow pace, and the HUMANITY of it all. There are no aliens, or monsters, or demons. Just an insane woman. And for some people, if there is no supernatural aspect they just can’t be bothered.
But for everyone else… it’s a real good time.

NUMBER FOUR

The Stepford Wives – 1975 

Ooooh. Just thinking about this movie freaks me out. This is a strange case, actually… I saw this movie once. When I was maybe eight years old. I need to watch it again, actually.

But what ranks this on my list is a few reasons;

Firstly, it has stuck with me. I’ve remembered this movie for a long time, it’s been lodged in my head, and it’s always been so freaky to me. The scene close to the end, with Joanna’s double and her black eyes… the entire mansion scene entirely, actually, was so terrifying to me. And it’s funny, because the terror doesn’t really apply to me. It’s about men trading their human wives for perfect robots. I wouldn’t be affected in the first place.

But just the thought… the buildup to the end, the suspense and the mystery throughout the entire movie… it was freaky. And good. And ever so poignant. This was made nearly forty years ago, but it still makes sense today. With misogyny still a prevailing factor in today’s society, it’s not just a scary movie. It’s a brilliant statement.

NUMBER THREE

Poltergeist – 1982

What can I say about this movie that hasn’t been said? Poltergeist is a classic example of a good horror movie. It’s frightening, chilling, and once that suspense explodes into that wonderfully chaotic climax you won’t want to go to bed. This is another movie I saw at a young age, but I’ve seen it multiple times since. I’m just lucky I never had a tree by my window – although to this day, white noise is still unsettling.

And of course, what makes it even freakier is the supposed ‘curse’ that came with the films. Nearly the entire cast of the movie ended up dying a few years later. As the sequels came, the original actors dwindled. Of course, it could just be a coincidence, but I guess we’ll never know for sure…

NUMBER TWO

A Nightmare on Elm Street – 1984

This movie managed to blur a slasher film with a psychological horror film, and it is perfect. It did so many things never done before, and introduced so many new concepts. Take Freddy Krueger himself, the main antagonist of the series. Never before had we had a villain like him, one with a personality and a wit and a face. Someone that knew what he was doing and relished in it.

Before, all of our mainstream monsters were silent and somewhat tragic. Take Jason Voorhees, the hockey masked killer of the Friday the 13th series. He didn’t kill from spite. He didn’t kill from hate.
He was killed because of teenage negligence. Now the whole ‘have premarital sex, do drugs and get slaughtered’ theme has become a trope used in many subpar movies. But here, there was a reason. He was a mentally challenged kid who drowned in a lake because teens were busy screwing in a cabin.
Then another teen comes and murders his mother, albeit for a good reason, but from his point of view, what does it matter?
He kills for his mother. He thinks that he is doing GOOD. It is somewhat like the old Boris Karloff ‘Frankenstein’ movie. That scene with him and the girl by the lake is one of the most memorable scenes in horror history.

Freddy, while he might have had some mental issues of his own, he was smart and aware.
And it helped.

Two scenes from this movie stick out in my mind. The long arms in the street, (ugh), and the bloody body-bag in the hallway.
This was terrifying! I saw it at around ten years old, in the bright day, with my Dad by my side. It still frightened me to death, but as I grew up I learned to embrace it.

This first movie in the Elm Street series was fresh, scary, and well made. I love dreams, and I love the concept of a dream killer. It was so surreal… and made me think twice before I laid down to sleep.

This movie was pretty much perfect. It caused nightmares for years, and then inspired my own work and turned me into a fan of the series in my teenage years.
What movie could do better than that? Have the full circle effect?

Well, it used to be nothing. A Nightmare on Elm Street was the epitome of everything I loved in a horror movie. Utterly terrifying and yet so much fun.

Utterly terrifying and yet so much fun.’

Then I saw number one.

And if the above statement doesn’t fit with this movie, I have no clue what the hell does.

NUMBER ONE

The Evil Dead – 1981

Never before had I been so scared and loved it so much. This movie is like the film equivalent of a roller coaster ride.
Excellent buildup. Great acting. This film was a b-movie back than before it got so popular, but for a b-movie everything really works.

The scenery.
The makeup. Oh god, the makeup. Brilliant, sloppy, and creepy.
The camera angles are famous. Sam Raimi really did some interesting work on the angles, spinning around and running from a demon’s point of view, twisting and going all over the place… it helps with the whole ‘roller coaster’ thing I mentioned before.

The plot of the movie is really simple, and is now a common thing. A group of friends go out to a cabin, find the Book of the Dead, and reawaken demons who terrorize the friends.

One by one, they drop, until the only one left was the nerdiest one of them all – Ash Williams. Over the course of the trilogy, he becomes the epitome of bad-assery, but going into this movie with no knowledge, you’d never expect he’d be the one to survive the onslaught.

Things are insane. The effects are just so… great. They might have been done cheaply, but they work much better then a lot of other b-movie effects. Especially the blood. Anyone who has seen the movie knows exactly what I mean.

The movie is insane, and scary, and so violent… it makes the adrenaline run and your blood pump, it puts you on the edge of your seat, makes your eyes wide… even if you wanted too, you could never turn your eyes away.
It’s too crazy. Too fun. Too morbid and wild and amazing.

I have a hard time discussing this film technically without simply gushing.

Okay.

Deep breath.

Simply, this film is a masterpiece… if you are into this kind of thing. The thing is, it masters a combination between camp and horror. No doubt that this movie is scary as all get out, but the amount of camp they have in there simply works without dumbing down everything else. They add it without making it stupid, when these crazy things happen it gets really unsettling, it puts a pit in your stomach. You are watching insanity, you are watching a man go insane, you are watching possession of people and objects. It can get very startling.

As I said before, the makeup really works. It probably wasn’t anything all that special, but it looks great. The blank eyes, and the rotting flesh, and the spewing blood…  It gives it that sort of unnatural feeling, and it makes the whole b-movie thing really work to its advantage, instead of against it.

Plus, after you’re done with this, you have a pretty freaky sequel that increases the camp a few more notches while retaining most of the fear factor, and then the third and final movie which doesn’t even earn the horror title. Now don’t get me wrong, it’s a great film, one of my favorites. But the third film, entitled ‘Army of Darkness’, doesn’t even contain the Evil Dead name. If you look it up, it’s classified as a dark comedy. But that shouldn’t stop you from rounding out your experience with Ash Williams and his adventure.

These are my top five favorite horror films of all time. I will watch any of these, any time, in a heartbeat.
This IS a subjective list, based on my own personal preferences and experiences. If you don’t agree with something, don’t take it personally. If you want to let me know your top five, let me know, I’d be glad to read it.

But that is it for now. Next time, we’ll return to form and talk about the difference in horror and terror in writing, and I’ll give you a little insight into my upcoming horror novel.

Until then…

That’s all I have to say about that.

– Brandon, 3:41 PM

Apple vs. Android – A (somewhat) unbiased view

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When you bring up Apple against Android, (or Windows, to a lesser extent), you don’t get much calm, in between discussion. You either have people that will fight vigorously for either option – hopefully using real information, specifications and reasons, but usually you have people that fight for either side with no reasons, no research done, they simply bad mouth the opposing system and put theirs up on a diamond studded gold pedestal. Your iSheep, and your Droidies, yelling, screaming, and caps-locking to try and get their flawed point across.

As of right now, I have an Android device, an LG G2. This is my first smartphone, but actually the first mobile OS I really had experience with was, in fact, iOS, with an iPod touch. I used the iPod and it’s accompanying OS for a couple years before I started using anything Android, so I’m kind of in the middle.

Now when it comes to computers, I will generally defend Windows to the end of the earth – and that’s why this post isn’t about Apple and Android in general, we aren’t talking about their companies and other products, this is basically a mobile war. iOS VS. Android OS. So that’s where the focus lies… and that’s where we begin.

One of the problems I have to start with, is the fact that iSheep will credit Apple for everything. You ask them who invented fire, they’ll say Apple. Who constructed the Roman Empire, Steve Jobs. That bothers me, because it isn’t fair to other innovators who have made their fair share of game changing features. But to start, we are going to go to the beginning, to a time where Apple truly did create something beyond innovative…

2007.

I’m not going to offer you extensive research and knowledge, this is purely my knowledge and opinions, so if you want anything else, do the searching yourself.

Before 2007, smartphones were a way different category than they are today. You could call this the B.A era of smartphones, Before Apple.
They were nothing like the smartphones of today, and to my knowledge there wasn’t any smartphones like today’s back then. They were considered ‘smart’ because they had a bit more to them than a traditional phone. You had a couple of basic apps, maybe some snake, or Sudoku… perhaps a music player, or WAP internet. These also had a rubber QWERTY keyboard built on them, and a couple inches of screen.

From what I can remember, this market was dominated by Blackberry. This was kind of their heyday. Of course you had Motorola and Nokia, but I think Blackberry was the Apple of the B.A smartphones. And sure, these phones were neat. The QWERTY keyboards were nice, being able to play a couple minutes of Snake or Tetris was cool… and boy, do I remember trying to pull up some videos on that WAP internet. Good times.

Then Apple did something revolutionary, and introduced the first iPhone. The phone was pure screen, with digital keyboards, and could surf REAL web, and watch REAL videos, and listen to REAL music, and download and play REAL games. This was, of course, huge. And ever since that fateful day when Apple release the first generation of iPhone into the wild, it changed our perception on smartphones forever. Now we knew what was possible, and we weren’t going to settle for less. Soon, many companies were getting the idea and switching over to this new era of smartphone technology. It did take a while to make one of the iPhone’s caliber, but now, because of Apple, a touchscreen computer-like device is just what we expect.

The first phone to use Android was the HTC Dream. This was no where NEAR iPhone level, still being a slider phone with no where near the capabilities of the iPhone. The system barely resembles the Android we know and ( for some of us) love today. It was a mixed bag, over all.
But, it introduced the Android OS to us for the first time.

Now, I might not be speaking for everyone, but at least for me when I think of the penultimate Android phone, I typically think of the Samsung Galaxy. That typically seems to be the main rival to the iPhone.
The first Samsung Galaxy was released in 2009, two years after the iPhone… and a little over a month before the iPhone 3GS.
So here was Apple, with nearly three incarnations of their flagship out, and Samsung had only just released one.The best contender was still fairly obvious.

Skip ahead a couple years and many phones, and then comes along the first Galaxy to contend against the iPhone; the Samsung Galaxy S II in 2011. At it’s release, it was fighting against the iPhone 4, and later the 4s.
Now, purely on wording and pulled from the Wikipedia ‘Reception’ section on both phones, the iPhone 4 and 4s got;

“generally favorable” reviews, while the Galaxy S II had “universally positive” reviews. I don’t know about you, but the universe sounds better then generally. This was when things began to get interested for the first time, as they were now in the same league.

History lesson done, now we are on to the comparing and contrasting.

Display

Both phones are, of course, touchscreen smartphones with app capabilities, cameras, and a variety of other things.

Android devices in general seem to be much larger, ranging anywhere from 4.5 inches to nearly 6 inches if you’re getting into phablet territory.

iPhones on the other hand… are much smaller. The first four generations and their respective ‘S’ spin-offs were all 3.5 inch displays, with the fifth generation kicking it up to 4.0, then the six and six plus bumping up to a 4.7 inch and 5.5 inch respectively.

Now, this is really a matter of preference. I’m a big phone kinda guy, my G2 has a 5.2 inch display which seems to be perfect for me and my hands, but the iPhone might work fine for people with really petite hands. But the problem is, “larger” smartphones aren’t a new thing. The Samsung Galaxy S had a 4.0 inch display in 2010, while like I said, the iPhones were stuck stunted by a whole half inch. Now, that might not seem like a lot, but in the tech world, half inches can mean a lot. And next year, Samsung bumped it up to 4.3 inches… progress, nonetheless. And yet it took Apple until this year to catch on with the phone sizes. Larger phones aren’t a new concept.

And especially with what smartphones have been capable with for years… larger phones are a necessity. Who wants to watch three and a half inches of Netflix?

Hardware

Hardware is somewhat of a hard thing to talk about these days, because while people like me care about specifications, a lot of iSheep don’t. They want their iPhones, and that’s it. They don’t care if it’s a potato with a piece of glass on it, they’ll boast that their phone can make hash browns. Can an android phone do that? Nope, not yet, and they’ll take that and fight hard.

But it is generally the case that Android phones have better hardware. Android phones are for people who do care, while iPhones seem to be more of a status symbol. And there’s no problem with that, if having an iPhone makes up the lacking hardware for you, then the more power to you.
will say that iPhones, as far as I can gather, do have the better camera most of the time. I think. I may be wrong.

So this is kind of a middle ground here. People who care about specs generally aren’t that big on iPhones. Android is typically a couple years ahead, but it comes down to preference. Obviously, iPhones are capable enough without the best hardware, and the reason why may be…

Interface

It’s hard to compare iOS and Android. Both are GREAT for different reasons that appeal to different people.

iOS is quick and to the point. You get a iPhone, you know what to do. The options aren’t overwhelming, there isn’t tons that can be done. That is because of the lack of customization offered, and in some cases is a good thing.
iOS is very clean. Very organized. Especially iOS 7, it has a very flat and simple look. It is modern, slick, with enough options to make you feel in control (in most cases), but not enough to drive you crazy. You get an iPhone and you use it.

Android… that’s a different case. Seeing as a lot of different companies use Android as their OS, it can differ from place to place. What kind of skin they slap over it can change opinions easily. Many people enjoy stock Android, and I tend to agree.
Because of the multitude of companies that use the OS, depending on where you get your phone it will be loaded with bloatware. Bloatware that isn’t always possible to get off. Somethings will be tweaked, interfaces will run slightly different, I know that my phone and my tablet, both Android, run very different interfaces.

But generally, when you get Android, you get a HIGHLY customizable phone that you can do a lot with. To the point where it may be slightly maddening. My phone, which I love, has the choice to change… well, everything. Wallpaper, lock screen, font, icons, sounds for each individual thing that can possibly occur on your phone, the placement of apps, the placement of widgets, the placement of notifications, the placement of settings… you get the idea. And the problem with this is that I never feel satisfied. About once a day I change something up.
The Android skin that I have, it came from LG and I like it for the most part. It does the job and looks okay. But it by no means looks ‘clean’ or ‘sleek’ or ‘modern’. Icons are chunky, they had that weird 3D thing, and more often than not it looks cluttered and out of hand. Even Windows Phones are more clean looking and modern.

Using your phone can also be difficult. Unlike Android, it isn’t always as simple to get things done. Once again we go back to the multiple manufacturers and their different skins. Settings may be in different places for a Samsung Galaxy, an HTC One, and my LG G2. You may find apps in different ways. Options may not be the same from phone to phone, shortcuts and little tricks may differ. And unless you find yourself really attached to one company and stick with them, if you’re a company jumper like me, this can be tough to deal with. The next incarnation may be out before you’ve learned how to get the most out of your phone.

iOS is simplistic in nature and easy to get along with.
Android is sometimes a struggle, and a very intricate thing.

I do prefer the layout of iOS. I just wish it had the customization of Android. And especially for older users, iPhones can be a dream if they don’t want to put the energy into learning all the Android tips and tricks, and most of them probably don’t.

Price and Battery

Here’s a problem. I can mostly only base Android on my experiences with my G2. So my statements may very, just keep that in mind.

In the battery line of things, there is a lot to think about. My iPod 1st Gen lasted a couple days with moderate use. It could last maybe a week with no usage, but still be turned on. Nowadays, when I hear people talk about battery on iPhones, it generally doesn’t sound too good. If you have to charge partway through the day with moderate use, that doesn’t do it for me.

My Android phone easily lasts the entire day with moderate use. If I didn’t charge it every night, then I could probably get a day and a half out of it. Heavy use on the phone will get me to the end of the day. Not barely, not in the red, but it would only last one day.

I don’t know other people’s charging methods or phone habits, but when I was in high school, I could generally find at least one plug in the classroom with the familiar white wall adapter. Always they would ask the teacher to charge their phone. Always, it would be an iPhone.

For most teens, heavy use for a phone would generally be texting. Maybe a glance on Facebook or Instagram, perhaps a short game of Candy Crush, or a look on Wikipedia.
My heavy use is music, video, writing, social media and a couple rounds of Tetris.

So if you are a light user, or simply a person using a phone for a phone, you may be fine. But there is a reason why a lot of techies use Android.

And as for pricing… we can all see where this is going. No matter what your preference is, no matter if you don’t care about specs and battery, who wants to pay top dollar for a phone that can be compared to another phone from two years ago? Apple is ridiculous in their pricing, and that is just common knowledge. And for what you get in an iPhone, the six hundred dollar minimum price is outrageous.

And yes, Android phones CAN reach that much, but generally they have better specs, battery, screen, features… etc. And if you go a year back with Android, you’ll get a much cheaper phone and still be ahead of iPhones. My G2 was released over a year ago, and can be compared to an iPhone 6 with ease.

Conclusions

So, in conclusion, or a TLDR…. these are the pros and cons of both.

iPhones/iOS

Pros; Simple, generally reliable. Decent hardware. Clean, beautiful interface. Forefront of a lot of apps. Easy to use. Offers a nice experience.

Cons; Bad battery. While the hardware is acceptable and relatively modern, it still falls behind most Android phones. Terribly overpriced. At this point, there is NOT an iPhone made out of a potato, so you can’t make hash browns with it.

Android Phones

Pros; Generally has great hardware, and is usually at the forefront of a lot of great technology and innovations. Highly customizable. Tons of options. Owned by Google, so it will be optimized for a lot Google software and products. Widgets. This phone is YOURS and you do what you want, no doubt about it. Great battery.

Cons; Highly customizable. Tons of options. May be overwhelming for non techies. Lots of phones use Android, and not only does that decrease the value, it puts pressure on the consumer of which one would work better for them. Interface can get cluttered and is not as clean and simple as iOS.

As for the better phone… I’m not going to give a definite answer. That isn’t for me to decide. You can probably tell where I lie on the spectrum, but what you prefer depends on many factors. Both phones are good for different things, so it’s up to you to decide what’s the best overall.

Android is obviously a powerhouse, while iOS and iPhones rely on more of a simple, consistently familiar and easy to use interface. Android relies on high tech to appeal to people who care about specs, iPhones rely on a beautiful operating system that is easy from the get-go.

It’s no one’s place to decide what phone you need but you, and seeing how far and integrated we are in smartphone society… you probably already have a preference. I just hope this gives a little insight into the best and worst bits of the two favorites.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

– Brandon, 3:05 PM

Previous post final thoughts and Song Reviews

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Last post, I talked about the evolution of a band’s sound. Now, I was a bit biased, and I spoke with one example, that being Fall Out Boy. This was more of my personal experiences with the changes and evolution, and how it made me feel, rather than the technical and broad impression I wanted to give off. There have been MANY other musical evolutions… take The Beatles, for instance. From leading the way of pop rock, to the beautifully strange and psychedelic rock, and back again.
There are many things I didn’t discuss in the previous post…  but I just want to make it clear that those were my thoughts there. More opinion than fact, and a whole lot of relative impressions, so take it as you will.

Now, the purpose of this post, is to finalize those thoughts, and give you the reviews of the singles I discussed as the latest evolution of those two bands. As we did last time, let’s start with Fall Out Boy… and their song, Centuries.

Centuries, for me, is a mixed bag. As a song, it’s brilliant. Loud and proud and roaring and more than a bit arrogant. Patrick Stump’s vocals are brilliant as usual, the guitar is well played… (from what I can hear of it), and the drums are very obviously there.
The lyrics are clever, rhyme well, although they do seem to feed off of a narcissistic theme. I don’t know if it’s a gimmick/joke or what,  but Fall Out Boy has been on an arrogance kick since their comeback. What with them saving rock and rock last album, (although there wasn’t much rock and roll there. I didn’t think pop and hip-hop was going to save rock and roll, but okay), and now them declaring that you will ‘remember them for centuries’, and that they’ll ‘go down in history’.
It is a powerful track. As a song, it is a GOOD song, don’t let that be mistaken. But from a fan’s perspective… gone is the punk. Let me make that clear. This is not a punk song, everything is clean cut, there is no roaring guitar or brash vocals. It’s very… systematic. They are, as I have said many times throughout the past two posts, are becoming a pop band with hip-hop influences, while they used to be a punk rock band with pop influences.

When I go to listen to Fall Out Boy, I usually turn to the median of their discography spectrum; Under the Cork Tree, and Infinity on High. These albums seem to be the golden eggs.

Under the Cork Tree is a great album that has a lot of the raw punk rock, all the while being nicely clean cut and produced. It isn’t too brash, and it isn’t too studio. It’s a very nice in between.

And Infinity on High, while very nearly another genre, maintains a solid Fall Out Boy vibe with the lyrics, Pete Wentz’s attempts to scream in a couple of the songs, and Patick’s Stump’s soulful vocals. This one did lean on pop rock, emphasis on the rock, and although they collaborated with some rappers for a couple songs, (namely ‘This ain’t a scene, it’s an arm’s race’), they didn’t let it affect it to the point of being unpleasant. In fact, I enjoyed ‘This ain’t a scene, it’s an arm’s race’ music video a lot… because the rap/hip-hop influences were sort of explained and dealt with. In the video, the band is dealing with the famous lifestyle, it made fun of a nude photo scandal Pete Wentz went through, and all in all was a fun song.

Save Rock and Roll was tough for me. It is a great album, but it is still hard for be to comprehend it being Fall Out Boy. ‘Centuries’ is more of the same… but they are going further and further away from what made them famous in the first place.
I’m going to wait for the rest of the album to make it’s way, then I’ll buy it, take a listen, and make a final judgement. But for today, Fall Out Boy’s ‘Centuries’ gets a 3 out of 5.

Now let’s look at Black Veil Brides. I’m going to cover both of their singles, ‘Heart of Fire’ and ‘Faithless’, together.
These songs are… to put it simply, great.
I am a huge fan of classic metal, i.e Judas Priest, Dio, Motley Crue, Iron Maiden… so on and so forth. These days, the meaning of the metal genre has gotten skewed. Today, what used to be metal is hardly considered hard rock. And what today’s metal USUALLY is, is so terrible that they didn’t have an equivalent back then.
Now, I’m not an expert on all of the various subgenres of metal… death metal, black metal, death core, thrash, I mean… all I know is metal, and heavy metal. There isn’t a need for all of these extra meanings and genres. And I gotta tell you, Black Veil Brides achieved something I never thought any modern band could… especially one that started off screamo.

Black Veil Brides has achieved the sound of classic metal.

Now, they label themselves as simply ‘rock ‘n roll’, and starting last album I could definitely go with that. Whatever you want to call it, they have achieved the sort of ‘classic’ sound that has been lost with many modern bands. I mean, I couldn’t even name a simple ‘rock ‘n roll’ band if I tried. Punk rock? Sure. Pop rock? Yup. Folk rock? Got a couple. But I haven’t a band that I could simple call rock and roll for a long time, because there is usually the need to add a prefix to it to define it even further. But good, classic rock doesn’t NEED to be defined. Rock and roll simply ‘is’.
And that is what Black Veil Brides achieved here. Both songs are fairly heavy, yes, but not heavy enough to ruin it. The single I listened to first, ‘Faithless’ is rather comparable to the Judas Priest song, ‘Dragonaut’ off of their latest album. The drum is a little similar, but what I really mean is that they are just the same style. And when a band that formed in 2006 can even be compared to a legend like Judas Priest, then there is something that needs to be said.

Out of the two songs, ‘Heart of Fire’ and ‘Faithless’, the latter is my favorite. This is where a lot of my compliments are directed. Now don’t get me wrong, both are GREAT songs. But for the pure classic vibe I was talking about… ‘Faithless’ just showcases it a bit better.
And look at the cover art! Don’t tell me that couldn’t easily be on any other classic metal band’s album. (Minus the BVB emblem.)

‘Heart of Fire’ gets a solid four out of five stars. The only thing that keeps it from being a five is there is a small scream around the two minute mark, and I’m sorry but I’m not a fan of screaming. Everything else is superb, and is a treat to the ears.
‘Faithless’ gets a four and a half out of five stars. Black Veil Brides has come a LONG way. And I am thoroughly enjoying their evolution through the rock and metal genres. Say what you will about them, (and people do), as a classic metal lover, Black Veil Brides just gets something right as a modern band that many other bands of their age do.

And that’s about it. Both songs have their merits, that is for sure, but Black Veil Brides have made the cleaner, more progressive evolution, and I’ve simply enjoyed it more. Each album gets better and better, and they’ve continuously stayed on track. That means something.

I will be back on Wednesday… I’ve gotten a bit off track on what this blog was about, and we’re going further off track. Wednesday I’ll be discussing. comparing, and contrasting Apple products and Android products. How I’ll be covering that in a single blog, I don’t know… but I’ll get it done.

And that’s all I have to say about that.

– Brandon, 1:32 PM