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The Blue & Gray Press | November 19, 2017

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Recipes & Reviews: shockingly entertaining shows for Halloween

Recipes & Reviews: shockingly entertaining shows for Halloween

By KAYTLYN BIDDLE

Senior Writer

“Castlevania” Review

“Great video games do not make great films” is a general rule of thumb that most audiences have discovered through previous commercial flops. “Castlevania” was on the verge of becoming another casualty in this trend but was saved when Netflix intervened. Originally dreamt of as a trilogy, Warren Ellis adapted his works after a decade of production hell to create the basis for the “Castlevania” TV series on Netflix.

Based on the highly successful video game franchise of the same name, “Castlevania” focuses on the conflict between two families, the notorious Dracula family and the Belmonts. Both are upper class families with black magic in their pasts. The original video games depict a never-ending battle between the “good guy” Belmonts and Dracula the vampire. The “Castlevania” video games themselves are based on Bram Stoker’s “Dracula.”

With an amazing line-up, animation styles inspired by Japanese anime and a script ten years in the making, “Castlevania” exceeds expectations. Unlike other shows where the voice acting can pull the audience out of the experience, the voice actors are spot-on in their characterizations. These characters pull you in and make sure you stay. The rich history of “Castlevania” was developed over three decades but this show manages to make the story seem fresh and interesting.

However, even “Castlevania” has its faults. At only four episodes in, the show suffers from rough pacing due in part to the setup for those who may not be familiar with the lore from the games, but this seems like old news to avid fans. The animation style has some room for improvement. While realism is not something the show needs as the gore is clear enough already, the character designs are pretty basic. For such a classic franchise, the characters could have been a little more detailed and interesting.

Despite these minor nitpicks, “Castlevania” surprises you. After years of watching video games fail on the big (or little) screen, no one would expect this to succeed. However, somehow it does. “Castlevania” wonderfully explores deeper themes than the surface suggests, from the days-old ‘what would you do for love’ to the debate on good vs. evil.

With sarcasm and humor to mellow out the more intense images and themes of the show, “Castlevania” hits all the points that I wanted from this initial run. With eight more episodes slated for 2018, the show is only setup to improve, “Castlevania” is what we always wanted video game adaptions to be, just plain good to watch.

Castlevania: Recipe

Vampire Bite Cupcakes

Vampire Bite Cupcakes

Ingredients

Box of red velvet cake mix

1 tub of white frosting

Black food coloring/gel

Optional:

Red food coloring/gel

Another tub of white frosting

Cupcake liners

Directions

  1. Mix the cake mix according to the directions on the box.

  2. Using a cupcake tray, fill each cup on the tray ⅓ of the way. I used cupcake liners, but those are optional. Make sure to spray nonstick cooking spray if you don’t use liners.

  3. Bake cupcakes according to the directions on the box.

  4. While the cupcakes are baking, add black food gel to frosting and mix well. Add one to two drops at a time until desired color is reached.

  5. Once cupcakes are baked, let cool.

  6. Put icing into an icing bag, or cut a corner out of a plastic zip bag and decorate the top of the cupcakes with the black frosting.

  7. Optional: You can add food coloring to the second tub of frosting and make little swirls or balls of icing. Leave these for a few hours or overnight. Add these to the cupcake cups before baking to have a gooey red center.

    Who Killed Markiplier? Review

    “Who Killed Markiplier?” is a web series created by Mark Fischbach of the popular YouTube channel, Markiplier. Known for his comedy sketches and let’s plays, Fischbach has recently branched out into more theatrical productions. “Who Killed Markiplier?” is the latest web series from Markiplier, with chapters released from Oct. 11 to 13.

    It revolves around the mysterious death of Markiplier with everyone in the house being a suspect, including you. You and the other characters were invited by Markiplier himself to celebrate… something. You and your friends have a grand ole time until you awake the next morning to find Markiplier dead.

    The subsequent chapters focus on narrowing down the suspect list and solving the murder while being trapped in Markiplier’s mansion with a possible murderer. In a series reminiscent of the 1985 classic “Clue,” this series starts off seeming as one big joke by the Markiplier crew and turns into something you can’t quite figure out.

    Normally, YouTube videos are of an iffy quality with half-decent acting, 1987 Spaceballs-esque visual effects and the video quality of a school film project. However, with the introduction of YouTube Red and the massive followings some YouTube personalities have gained, more and more attention is being paid to the overall quality of content on the site. “Who Killed Markiplier?” is a great example of this new foray into film.

    Shot from a first-person perspective, the series includes you, the viewer, as a main player in this game. The actors do an amazing job making it seem as though you are actually standing next to them in the mansion. Markiplier’s performance was particularly impressive. Playing three different roles, Markiplier handles each separate persona beautifully, giving each character their own style of dress, voice and ticks to distinguish them.

    The mystery cliches are embraced, helping them feel less cheesy and more humorous with even the characters acknowledging them. Each scene feels well thought out and each clue gives an answer but produces a greater question. It is clear a lot of work and time went into this production.

    That is not to say that it is perfect. There are some inconsistencies, but whether they were intentional or not is for the viewers to decide. It is easy to tell that the team was filming in a large house with echo being clearly present, and having to strain to hear some of the whispers being shared. The actors, while doing amazing for their medium, are not seasoned and some of the choices made will raise a few eyebrows, such as the sometimes-accent of the butler or the intensity of the chef.

    But all of these help the series by giving fans more to speculate about. Spoilers aside, the series was an unexpected departure from Markiplier’s usual antics, and viewers are dissecting every scene, line and camera angle to solve the mystery of who killed Markiplier. It sucks you into the midst of the drama, holds you there until the last image fades to black and leaves you wanting more.

    Who Killed Markiplier? Recipe

    Whodunnit Lava Cake

    Whodunnit Lava Cake

    Ingredients

    Devil’s Food cake mix

    1 tub of Vanilla frosting

    Red food gel

    Optional: Mirror Glaze

    200 g sweetened condensed milk

    300 g sugar

    ½ cup water

    20 g gelatin

    1 bag of dark chocolate chips

    Directions

    1. Using a small spoon or cookie scoop, scoop little balls of frosting onto a cookie sheet or parchment paper. You can also use a piping bag to pipe little swirls or “gobs” of frosting. The frosting balls should be no larger than a quarter in diameter. Make an equal amount of frosting balls to the amount of cakes you want to make.

    2. For the last frosting ball, put three drops of food gel into the frosting and mix well until the desired shade of red is reached.

    3. Put all the frosting balls into the freezer to chill. Chilling overnight gives best results, but a few hours should work as well.

    4. Once they are chilled, mix the cake mix according to the directions on the box.

    5. Using a cupcake tray, fill each cup on the tray ⅓ of the way

    6. When the frosting balls are chilled, put one in each cup.

    7. Add a little more batter to each cup, making sure the frosting is covered.

    8. Bake slightly less than the directions on the box, or until the outside of the cakes are firm, but the middle is still soft. If the middle is still runny, leave in for additional time.

    9. Let the cakes cool and decorate as desired. I used a chocolate mirror glaze. OPTIONAL: for glaze: let gelatin “bloom” in ½ cup water for five minutes. Add milk, sugar, and more water to a saucepan on medium heat. Once the mixture is simmering, add your gelatin and stir until smooth. Pour over the chocolate chips and let sit for 5-10 minutes. Whisk together until blended and smooth. You now have a pourable mirror glaze!

    10. One of your lava cakes should have red filling inside, but no one should know who’s until the treats are enjoyed!

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