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Tales from the Crypt

By Gokhra

Let's face it; corny jokes are not really as bad as people make it out to be. Sure, everyone groans and rolls their eyes but I believe it is more of a conditioned reflex like that of the experimental dog. The dog would salivate at the sound of a bell because it was conditioned to associate the sound with actual food. So that's enough in defense of corny jokes. Puns are as bad (or good) as corny jokes. And no one is a better punster than the Cryptkeeper. If you don't know who that is then tune in to HBO on Saturday nights after 11 PM.

The Cryptkeeper is the host of a horror show and he looks the part with decayed dried skin exposing his skull. Tales form the crypt is a horror show that has a characteristic twisted ending. It is not necessarily about ghosts but more abut the horrifying things people can do.

It started off in the 1950's as a comic book and attracted people of all ages with its gruesome content. Each of the episodes on TV starts off with a cover of the comic. It was originally made for HBO a few years ago and achieved cult status mainly because of the witty humor of the skeletal Cryptkeeper. He's actually not scary but rather someone you could sit and have tea with. Of course, you'd have to stop staring which wouldn't' be too difficult if you can keep up with his puns.

Other than the series there have been several full length movies as well. One of them was the Bordello of Blood which is about one man hunting down seductive vampires who are actually prostitutes. It has a twisted and totally unexpected ending. There was another about a several people trapped in a run down hotel with a demon after them. I forgot the name but that too has a twisted end.

It started again from July 5th and all new episodes are being aired. So far there have been 6 episodes. To give you a taste one of the first two parts was about research doctors who work with cadavers and magic. Hence the appropriately coined name for the series was "Abracadaver". It was about a doctor who stops the heart of his colleague because of a grudge. The twist here was that when the heart stops the brain still functions so the dead guy continues to see, hear and feel. According to the story the sense of touch goes first and then the rest. So that way the body does not feel any pain. Of course the dead doctor was revived because it was all done to teach a lesson for a past misdeed but he ends up having an actual heart attack after the revival. The body is sent for autopsy and here there is mentioned one flaw in the original thesis. The sense of touch is the last to go so the dead person feels every cut. Most of the shots are shown form the dead person's lifeless point of view. The last scene is punctuated by screams which no one else hears. Don't feel sorry for the dead guy because he wasn't all that great. Nice touch!

The intro by the Cryptkeeper was a spoof on one of Shakespeare's line. "A corpse by any other name smells just as stale." That was followed by the trademark cackle.
Each of the episodes is characterized by an unthinkable twist. It becomes a dose of predictable unpredictability. It's definitely different from the usual cinema offerings where you know what's going to happen or something you wish for happens. Don't miss out on the chills.

Many more Miles to go

They started out by singing in one of the posh hotels in the country. They did live shows three to five nights a week regularly. They were quite satisfied to perform live in front of a select group of listeners. But it wasn't until they brought out their first album of original songs in Bangla that they instantly became famous. The band in question is 'MILES' and with their fresh, upbeat music they really have gone miles and set a standard in band music.

MILES was formed by Farid Rashid, Kamal, Ishtiaq, Larry, Musa and Robin in Dhaka in 1979. The gifted brothers Hamin Ahmed and Shafin Ahmed joined MILES a couple of months later in the same year as guitarists and vocalists. In 1982, ace keyboard player Manam Ahmed became a part of the band.

From 1979 to 1982, MILES performed regularly at the Chameli Supper Club of Hotel Intercontinental (now Sheraton). From 1983 to 1990 they played at the discotheque and coffee shop of the Sonargaon Pan Pacific Hotel.

In 1982 they first appeared on television. In that year they also performed their first live show at Shilpakala Academy premises in front of a 1500 strong audience. MILES brought out its first album in English in 1982. In fact the band's second album was also in English. Both had a blend of original and cover numbers. But that was MILES in its early days.

The band's first Bangla album titled 'Protisruti' was released in 1991.

Young music lovers all over the country were singing the catchy number 'Chand tara' as soon as the album was out. The rest of the songs in the album also scored big with the listeners. The band's fourth album 'Prottasha' (second Bangla) came out in 1993 and became a phenomenal success in the history of band music. The album sold approximately three lakh copies within a few months of its release. 'Prottasha' is still one of the best selling band albums in the country. The band first appeared on television in 1991 with its popular Bangla numbers.

MILES describe themselves as a pop/rock act. "We have been inspired by blues, Latin, jazz, rock and techno music," says Manam. "So our music is a combination of varied sounds and styles."

MILES is also a pioneer when it comes to activities related to promoting Bangladeshi band music. In 1992, MILES enthralled audience in Bangalore, India by presenting a three-hour English rock concert. They were the first ever Bangladeshi band to bring out a CD in 1994 titled 'Best of MILES'. MILES have participated in five concerts in India and two concerts in the Gulf States of Abu Dhabi and Dubai, MILES was also the first band to go on a tour in the United States and Canada in 1996.

It wasn't until some people actually threw a challenge at MILES claiming the band couldn't compose Bangla songs that they brought out their first Bangla album. "Some people were skeptical about whether we could do Bangla music," Shafin recalls. "We've all received training in music from our early childhood." Incidentally, Hamin and Shafin are the sons of acclaimed Nazrul Sangeet exponent Feroza Begum and Manam Ahmed is the son of well-known music director Monsur Ahmed. The response to the first album was phenomenal. In MILES' history the biggest concert till date was at the Dhaka national stadium where the audience turnout was about 60,000, according to press reports. The concert was organized by Bangladesh Cricket Control Board and sponsored by Pepsi after Bangladesh won cricket test status.

In 2001, MILES was invited to take part in the 'United for Gujrat' concert in New Delhi's Jawharlal Nehru Stadium. Leading bands from the subcontinent such as JUNOON, EUPHORIA, SILK ROUTE and MILES performed together for the first time. The band has till date performed in over 350 concerts and a lot of charity shows. Their next album is due sometime this year.

Current line-up: Hamin Ahmed (guitar & vocals), Shafin Ahmed(bass guitar & vocals), Manam Ahmed(keyboards & vocals), Iqbal Asif Jewel (guitar & vocals) and Syed Ziaur Rahman Turjo (drums).

Albums: Miles, A Step Further, Protisruti, Prottasha, Prottoy, Proyash, Probaho, Protidhony (Upcoming)

Contacts: 49 Airport Road; Tejgaon, Dhaka 1215; Tel: 911 6313 / 8228; Email: miles@ovation.com, shafmiles@hotmail.com.


Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life

This is the sequel to the hit film, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, which opened to over $48 million on June 15th, 2001, setting the record for the highest opening for a movie starring a woman, which was itself based upon the popular "Tomb Raider" videogame series.
Archaeologist and explorer extraordinaire Lara Croft journeys to a temple, sunken underwater. This leads her to a sphere that contains the mythical Pandora's Box, only to have it stolen from her by Chen Lo -- the leader of a Chinese crime syndicate who's in league with a bad guy named Reiss who wants to use the Box as a doomsday weapon.

The film production started in August last year at Pinewood Studios in England, with location shooting being done in Kenya, Hong Kong, Wales, and the Greek island of Santorini.

The movie will be released in the US next week.

Cast: Angelina Jolie (Lara Croft), Chris Barrie (Hillary), Gerard Butler (Terry Sheridan), Ciaran Hinds, Djimon Hounsou, Til Schweiger, Noah Taylor (Bryce); other cast not announced yet.

Director: Jan de Bont (Twister, Speed, Speed 2: Cruise Control, The Haunting)

Screenwriter: Dean Geogaris (feature debut; next up are Paycheck and Mission: Impossible 3)

Indiana Jones and the Emperor's Tomb

When Tomb Raider first hit the scene back in 1996, it was easy to describe the game's premise as an Indiana Jones movie with a female lead. It took LucasArts four years to strike back with Indiana Jones and the Infernal Machine--a flawed game for the PC and the Nintendo 64. Now, LucasArts is giving its whip-cracking action hero another shot at the title with Indiana Jones and the Emperor's Tomb, a game originally released for the Xbox earlier this year. While Emperor's Tomb has a few control issues that will take some time to get used to, the game's fast pace definitely makes for an interesting adventure.

Emperor's Tomb takes place in 1935 and puts the rough-and-tough archeologist on a quest to recover a Chinese artifact known as the heart of the dragon--a black pearl with the power to control minds. In keeping with the standard Indiana Jones theme, our good doctor isn't the only faction involved in the quest, and along the way you'll encounter plenty of Nazi thugs and Chinese gang members, all of whom want the pearl for their own evil plans. Though the plot contains a few twists and double-crosses along the way, the game is very thin on storytelling, only breaking into a cutscene to move you from one part of the world to another. Even the mission objectives aren't expressly conveyed outside of the pause screen, though the linear nature of the level design doesn't often force you to know exactly what you're after at any given time, anyway. While the game is pretty straightforward, it does throw a lot of different levels at you, moving through various locales along the way. You'll travel to Prague, Istanbul, Hong Kong, an island fortress, and more. Even though you'll be moving along from place to place fairly quickly, it doesn't feel like a short game, and players should be able to get a bit over 10 hours out of it. There isn't much replay value to speak of, of course, though the game does contain three difficulty settings and a handful of optional artifacts that are hidden throughout the game. The game uses a checkpoint-style save system that automatically records your progress, but there are usually enough checkpoints in each level to keep you from having to recover too much ground when you die.

The game combines the exploration and third-person maneuvering of Tomb Raider with a simplified version of the combat system found in The Collective's last game, the well-received Xbox action game Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Indy runs on a modified version of the Buffy engine, and you can do most of the running- and jumping-related activities you'd expect from a third-person action game. At first, the control feels a little too loose. The game uses a standard keyboard and mouse control scheme, but the normal W, A, S, D movement scheme is a little too jerky for use in some of the game's tighter spaces. It's easy to miss jumps if you're sloppy with the controls. You'll often find yourself having to use Indy's bullwhip to swing from one platform to another. The game always lets you know where, exactly, you'll need to do this by showing a whip icon on the screen when you're in position. Similarly, you'll see a knife icon when it's time to hack through thick vines, a switch icon when there's something for you to pull, and an explosion icon when you're near a spot that requires you to plant explosives. When any of these icons are up, an inventory button lets you quickly yank out the necessary item. While this helps make the game a lot easier than it would be without them, at other times the occasionally unclear level design obscures some things that you'd otherwise need to see for yourself in order to proceed.

While you'll spend most of your time in the game running around and climbing up and over platforms, there is also quite a bit of combat to be found. While the combat isn't terribly deep, it can still be incredibly satisfying. Indy's punches, kicks, and grabs are exaggerated like in an action movie, giving you the impression that he's really beating the hell out of his foes. He's got a good variety of dirty moves in his arsenal, and a combo system lets you string attacks together.

Your whip comes into play during combat, as well. Normally, you just whip people, but if you get the distance between you and your target down right, you can whip weapons out of enemies' hands or even wrap the whip around a foe's neck and drag him over to you, for a quick left to the face. You can also find and use a variety of firearms and makeshift weapons like chairs, and the game even has a grappling system, which lets you get in a few punches or shove people up against walls...or over the edges of cliffs, where you'll hear them go screaming down to their doom.

While the Xbox version of the game was plagued with various graphical and technical problems, it's worth noting that the PC version has been considerably cleaned up when compared to its console cousin. You'll still see a few instances where Indy or his foes will clip through walls, but overall, the game runs at a smooth frame rate and looks good and feels like a much more "finished" product than its Xbox counterpart. The animation for the fighting is done nicely and helps make the combat seem convincing. The game's textures are sharp, though they do occasionally become a little repetitive. The game's music does a good job of conveying the Indiana Jones-like feel. The soundalike used for Indiana Jones himself does a convincing enough job of sounding like Harrison Ford's take on the character, but you probably won't ever mistake the stand-in for the real deal. Some of the other voices don't fare so well. The standard enemy voices get repetitive, and some of the accents--Mei Ying's Chinese accent, for example--sound pretty bad.

Indiana Jones fans will find a lot to like in the Emperor's Tomb. While the game's control issues will take you a good hour or so to get comfortable with, the puzzles and combat come together nicely and make for a pretty good action game. Experienced action players may find the game and its puzzles to be a bit on the easy side, but there's definitely some fun to be had here, and Indiana Jones fans will likely appreciate the way their favorite archeologist is represented in the game.


























































































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