Fish and Cherries Productions

Creative content from a mad mind.


Environmental Terror

A few weekends ago, I lived a nightmare. I was deep-sea diving in shark-infested waters with no way to defend myself against them except hiding myself in patches of seaweed until they passed by. Of course, sharks weren’t the only things I had to worry about; there were moray eels waiting to leap out of hiding and bite me and jellyfish floating in my path to navigate around. I had no diving suit or even an air tank, but had to go into barrels with air pockets in them to refill my lungs before going off into the dark unknown and wondering if that gulp of air would be my last.

Okay, to clarify, that didn’t happen to me in real life. It was something I experienced playing Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. (Yes, I’m aware that this game has been out for a year, but I like to get games late when the price goes down or when publishers inevitably release the Ultimate Edition with all the extra add-ons.) Regardless, it touched on a very real terror that doesn’t seem to crop up as much in fiction: that of being in a hostile and very lethal environment cut off from anything comfortable and familiar to any regular person.

That really is a shame because there’s something very powerful and terrifying about having an environment as your enemy rather than some psychopath or monster. There’s no central thing that can be destroyed, yet everything about the scenario can or will kill you. Now it’s true that the jungle, desert, and tundra have harsh climates and deadly creatures to worry about. But with the deep sea, it’s a much different story.

In the ocean, as in space, the environment is literally toxic to a person’s wellbeing by nature. You are surrounded by a foreign element that will lead to your demise if it penetrates you. The only thing keeping you alive is an airtight suit, a piece of glass over your face, and a very limited air supply. Take away any ability to reconnect with an environment you can survive in and the suit becomes a slow execution chamber. Your heartbeat mingles with the noises from the outside as paranoia starts to set in. You try to control every breath that you take, keeping on the lookout for any danger that might speed up your demise, whether it’s a hungry barracuda or, in the case of space, a wayward meteorite. Your hearing becomes extra-sensitive, listening for any telltale pops or cracks that would indicate that your personal life line is beginning to come apart. And all the time, you’re keeping an eye on that slowly-dropping gauge on your air tank, praying between ragged breaths for something to either save your life or end it quickly…

Sounds pretty terrifying, right? So why don’t more works of fiction capitalize on this option? Well, apart from the fact that most Hollywood audiences like seeing the hero triumphantly vanquish a foe, most of the ones that have attempted this… sucked. The first Open Water movie, focusing on two people stranded in the middle of the ocean, may have pleased some critics, but audiences didn’t seem to warm up to it and the sequel got torn apart by both. Apollo 18, following two astronauts trapped on the moon, got ravaged on all sides for being boring, suspense-free, and just downright goofy in some areas. Gerry, which was about two people walking through the desert… and nothing else… for over a hundred minutes… yeah, it was as boring as whale shit and didn’t even break $300,000. Suffice to say, people don’t seem to know the potential of the environmental menace. It’s true that Gravity was a successful movie with a similar idea and Buried was able to deliver the terror of being trapped in a small box underground, but most people seem to eschew it for drama, found-footage, or attempted artiness.

That said, there really is a goldmine of terror just waiting to be mined in such a scenario. Perhaps it wouldn’t be something for a summer blockbuster or a novel you’d pick up at the airport bookstore, but if someone really wanted to run with this, it could be a classic in the making. Something like that could revolutionize the world of horror and open up new venues for people to explore. Granted, this would give rise to a lot of pale imitations as a lot of successful movies do, but I’d rather see more of that than Found Footage Haunting the Seventy-Billionth. Don’t be shy, writers; take the plunge.

Posted under Musings

A Tribute to Monty Oum

It is with a heavy heart that I must once again take to my keyboard to write about a tragic loss to the online community. Monty Oum, the artist behind Haloid, Dead Fantasy, and RWBY passed away yesterday due to a severe allergic reaction during a medical procedure that took place some days prior. I am told that he died surrounded by loved ones from his family and from the offices of Rooster Teeth as well. I have never met the man, even though he and I allegedly attended the same Fanime Con together, but his loss is still felt.

Monty was a great artist, pouring a lot of passion into his work. RWBY was his foray into writing and creating a whole world and while it wasn’t always perfect, his passion for the project was still felt by many. He never resorted to unnecessary fanservice or cheesecake, treating all of his characters and creations with profound respect. Even if you’re not a fan of RWBY, you can still tell that he put a lot of thought and detail into the world in its look, its feel, and its internal mechanics. I don’t know how or if RWBY will continue without him, but the loss of such a great and devoted artist certainly makes the world at large a bleaker place.

Fate can be cruel sometimes and such a man dying at 33 because of a mere fluke definitely qualifies. But this isn’t a screed to make you paranoid, it’s a call to celebrate life. Monty Oum wasn’t one to sit back and hide from the world, he worked tirelessly day and night to make something worthwhile and give it to his community. The blood, sweat, and tears in his projects, his animation, and especially his Dance Dance Revolution moves were always felt and I will never regret experiencing any of it. Remember Monty Oum and with him, remember that a moment expressing yourself is never a moment wasted.

Posted under Musings

Reel Snippet – The Amazing Spider-Man 2

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a mixed bag of varying qualities. On the one hand, it continued the previous movie’s tradition of giving Spider-Man the humor that the previous film series was sorely lacking, some of the music (particularly Electro’s theme) is quite cool, and the stuff between Peter and Gwen really feels genuine at times. On the other hand, the script has a lot of shortcomings, there was a little too much going on to feel complete, the villains’ motivations (save for Harry Osborn) are really weak, and the reveal of Richard Parker’s secret that the trailers have hyped up so much was a real letdown. On top of that, the more I think about it, the more I realize that the movie doesn’t do a good job of portraying foreigners, as the Russian Rhino and the German Dr. Kafka turn in laughably cartoonish performances that would probably tick me off were I a native of any of those countries. If you were wondering if there was a stinger after the credits, there is… for the upcoming X-Men movie, which makes its placement here absolutely baffling. Despite some really good stuff here and there, I wouldn’t go see it again. The best adaptation of Spider-Man to date was Greg Weisman’s Spectacular Spider-Man and this movie doesn’t even come close to capturing its brilliance. It is worth noting, however, that the series was canceled before its time to allow this movie franchise to exist, so take some time to mull on that for a bit.

Posted under Reel Snippets

The Death of Justin Carmical

Justin Carmical, a well-liked contributor on renowned website That Guy With The Glasses known as JewWario, died this past Thursday. While I did not watch many of his personal videos, I saw him in other people’s works and he seemed like a very fun and likable person. Many of the site’s other contributors talk about what a joy he was to work with. But this past Thursday, for whatever reason, he shot himself at age 42 in his bathroom.

I cannot judge Justin because I don’t know what kind of pain he was going through. At my very core, though, I feel that if I had gotten famous on the internet and had been picked up by That Guy With The Glasses, I could have done something, talked to him maybe. I know what it’s like to wrestle with thoughts of not going on and even though I don’t like them, those thoughts are hard to truly banish as you go forward in life. So perhaps, if I had gotten to know him earlier, I might have been able to help his wife talk him down, maybe even give him a perspective on what it’s like to stand at the edge, looking down into the abyss and thinking of jumping. But I can’t know for sure.

In truth, it hits close to home because this is another example of a person on the internet that I’ve respected falling into a dark place and I can’t help but wonder if it could happen to me too. I don’t know what it is to be famous outside of a small community, so I don’t know what all that exposure does to a person. I imagined that as long as I knew there were people that cared about me and fans that loved me, I would be fine and happy. But Justin was one of the most beloved people on the site and that didn’t help him. I honestly don’t know how I would cope if the world just came crashing down on me.

It feels strange mourning a man I’ve never met. There are some who believed Justin is forever damned, but they know nothing. God does not seem like a being who would condemn someone just because they were suffering in life. Again, I have struggled with feeling of suicide in the past and will probably continue to struggle with them for a long time. I implore everyone reading this to reach out to their friends and let them know that they are loved. Be there for them, look out for them, and step in if they look like they are overwhelmed by life’s challenges. To suffer is not to be weak and they need to know that they have support. Cherish the moments you have with your friends, for it might be those moments that could save them.

Posted under Musings

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