James Rolf on the ‘Alien’ Franchise

James Rolf of Cinemassacre is reposting several monster movie reviews for Fall (or what I like to call “Pumpkin Spice Season”). His overview of the Alien franchise is entertaining and informative.

I always respect Rolf’s thoughtful reviews. I have a slightly better opinion than he does (and than most people do) of Alien 3, and I note that he doesn’t mention either the bizarre, disjointed sexual subtext of Alien, nor the dependence of Aliens on the Rambo movies, but this is nonetheless a thorough set of involved reviews. His discussion of the influence of Alien on video games such as Metroid, Xenophobe, and R-Type is interesting; certainly, the influence of its set and creature design is felt still today.

And I agree with him that Alien vs. Predator: Requiem totally sucks. I don’t remember why I even saw that, but I do remember it being my second worst experience in a theater, right after Pluto Nash.

Cinemassacre Has Blown My Mind

Featured Image: “Board James!” by WakkaCiccone.

Ever since some busybody feminists went after James Rolfe, the creator of the Cinemassacre YouTube channel, because he refused to review the new Ghostbusters movie, I’ve been enjoying (and sometimes cringing at) his Angry Video Game Nerd videos, in which he reviews bad games from old gaming consoles, usually with a lot of rage and vulgarity.

From there I discovered his Board James series, in which he similarly reviews old board games. Over time, the Board James videos become less concerned with actually reviewing the games and more concerned with their own story arc. Rolfe finished the series in 2015 with what was allegedly a review of the game Nightmare, but which quickly turned into an Inception-like head trip with some really creative special effects for a video filmed in a basement (video is NSFW):

I was mostly enjoying Board James (except the Mister Bucket episode; I could have done without that), but I sometimes wished the series would focus more on actually reviewing the good and bad points of the various games rather than on the antics of its characters, but just today I stumbled upon a post-series video in which Rolfe, who’s apparently much calmer and more polite in real life than are his screen personas, explains the “mythology” of the Board James universe and also points out symbolism and hints from the video series that I never would have picked up on, ever.

He kind of blew my mind. I’m posting the video here, but I should warn that it’s a spoiler for the series:

In a parallel universe, Rolfe is probably a moderately successful B-movie actor-director. He’s too cute and goofy to be genuinely scary, but he’s got quite a range of facial expressions that enable him to really chew the scenery as he gradually transforms his series of gaming reviews into a serial slasher horror movie.