- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Here’s a look at some software to cause fans of the ghoulish to giggle with delight this Halloween season.

Saw: Uncut Edition, from Lions Gate Home Entertainment, for DVD-enabled computers and home entertainment centers, rated R, $26.99. Last year’s demented horror film devoted to the Jigsaw serial killer returns to the DVD format in a pair of discs loaded with terror and moviemaking information.

Viewers get the goriest version of the film — about a psycho who teaches his victims the value of life by having them decide their fates in Dr. Phibes-like predicaments — and a pair of commentary tracks on the first disc. The first track steals the show as actor Cary Elwes, director James Wan and writer-actor Leigh Whannel humorously reminisce about the cheaply made scare flick.

The second disc unloads the extras, spearheaded by a three-part, 30-minute documentary, “Hacking Away at Saw,” that explores the detailed nuances involved in creating a film on a shoestring budget.

Viewers also get a 15-minute faux news show covering Jigsaw’s latest exploits and the original film short that sold the project to the producers. Finally, a bizarre PC- and Mac-compatible activity gives artists a chance to design their own horrifying talking puppet (which delivers lines in the killer’s voice) using a variety of decorative elements that can be e-mailed to a friend or enemy.

Nightmare inducer: If the creepy killer’s final surprising scene does not send permanent chills up the spine, how about a DVD case featuring red liquid and a circular saw blade that oozes around when touched.

Castlevania: Dawn of Sorrow, by Konami for Nintendo DS, rated T: Content suitable for ages 13 and older, $34.99. The heroic Soma Cruz once again battles the minions of Dracula within a great game designed for Nintendo’s two-screen hand-held system. Through the finest of Japanese illustrations and animations, this sequel to the 20-year-old Castlevania franchise delivers a soul-collecting good time in a robust, side-scrolling format.

The game gives the single player a chance to roam and interact within and around Dracula’s castle (bottom screen) while keeping an eye on maps and health/skill attributes (top screen) as Soma. The player must wield weapons and tap into an inventory menu of collected souls to upgrade abilities and battle golems, armored knights, ghouls, skeletons and fire-breathing werewolves.

An ingenious Magic Seal system has the player draw patterns over the powerful on-screen icons (using the DS’ stylus pen) to unleash finishing blows on powerful monsters. The player also can break down walls or get familiars such as zombies to attack by touching a pinkie or the pen to the screen.

Also, additional players (each with a cartridge) can trade souls and challenge each other to races through some haunted locales.

Nightmare inducer: Anyone for viewing a quarter-inch-tall rotting corpse dangling from a tree or splitting a zombie in half with a large sword or chasing a giant eyeball with tentacles? The game packs an incredible amount of personality, imagery and action into a 2.5-inch-wide screen.

The Suffering: Ties That Bind, by Midway for Xbox, rated M: Content suitable for ages 17 and older, $49.99. Much maligned and severely traumatized killer Torque returns in a survival horror epic loaded with violence, moral choices and a high creepiness factor.

After a prison break, our hero takes to the streets and slums of Baltimore to try to exact revenge upon the manipulative villain Blackmore.

The game revels in a high degree of blood and splattering entrails as players maneuver Torque in a third- and first-person perspective while using a decent supply of weaponry. During combat with multiheaded, sword-limbed, torso-rotting monsters, Torque gets progressively more gore-covered and during fits of rage will even turn into one of the creatures to dish out a maelstrom of murder.

When combined with the murky dirtiness of the environments, scratchy and scary video clips to propel the story, and disturbing imagery throughout, most sane players may feel the need for a shower just to wash away the virtual grime.

Nightmare inducer: Nothing quite makes a throat constrict like looking at rotting corpses complete with buzzing flies. Parents may go into cardiac arrest if they see their teenager anywhere near this game.

Write to Joseph Szadkowski, The Washington Times, 3600 New York Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20002; or send e-mail ([email protected] times.com).

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