The Mummy Lives

I should have known better. A mummy movie starring Tony Curtis? Released in 1993? Why did I buy this DVD? It's a cross that every completist must bear. The Mummy Lives may not be a part of a series, but I'm on a mission to smoke out every mummy-themed b-reel that wasn't fabricated by Hammer or Universal. I'm finding that the only one worth owning is Dawn of the Mummy, a grindhouse vestige that walks and talks like a zombie flick. The Mummy Lives walks and talks like a stagnant, driveling dress rehearsal for a teleplay co-sponsored by Lipitor and Lifetime Network. If that doesn't spell excitement, I don't know what does.

Just how exciting is this cut-rate flatliner? Tony Curtis was in his late 60's when he shot his scenes, and he plays the villain! We're actually supposed to buy him as a suave, ingratiating necromancer with the devilish charm of Count Dracula (he seduces a hot, young concubine during a flashback). Needless to say, he doesn't pull it off. The role of Aziru was written for Anthony Perkins, but common sense tells me that he wasn't the right choice either. Maybe they should have offered the gig to a Middle-Eastern actor...? Just a thought! Sadly, a miscast Curtis gives the least reprehensible performance here.

There are so many negative things I could say about The Mummy Lives. For starters, the plot is forcibly generic. A mummy is resurrected after an archaeological dig disturbs his sarcophagus. Once rejuvenated, Tony Kharis (get it?) becomes obsessed with a woman who closely resembles a courtesan he had a fling with centuries ago. Basically, he was mummified for dicking someone else's bitch, and now, he wants to dick the reincarnation of said bitch. Or at least that's what it says on the back of my DVD. The sets are cheap, the lead characters are irritating and the pacing is all uphill.

Seriously, The Mummy Lives is a wreck. We get a meandering dream sequence (a.k.a. the first act) and three different narrators to keep us entertained. Oh, and the mummy on the poster? Yeah, it's not in the movie. What a piece of piss. This review is bumming me out. That's how much I loathe this rigmarole calling itself a horror film. Fuck it; I'm killing this paragraph where it stands. Don't watch The Mummy Lives.


Parts Unknown #89: Raw

The "holiday edition" of Smackdown just ended. Raw is old news, and I could justify moving on, but I skipped it last week. Maybe it's masochism, but I feel like I need to chime in on the red brand. Where is this show heading? Will Cena ever turn heel? Will Brodus Clay ever make his debut? Will Vince go one day without second-guessing himself?


~ Well, at least they're teasing a heel turn. At some point, they had to acknowledge the fact that their top face is booed everywhere he goes. Piper did his job. Cena did his job. But what did this segment accomplish?

~ I don't know if I'll ever be a Mizfit, but it makes sense for him to end JoMo's WWE career. I still can't take him seriously.

~ The Orton/Ziggler match. Not much to say here. Eh, I should have reviewed Smackdown.

~ Daniel Bryan is gaining momentum. It's too early for a title reign, but he's on the right path.

~ The main event. This is why CM Punk should have been the WWE Champion since Money in the Bank. The image of this company should have been rebuilt around Punk the way that it was rebuilt around Stone Cold in 1997. The question is, have they missed the boat? Is it too late to get the rest of society excited about wrestling again?


~ The Diva's.

~ Look, another meaningless match between Zack Ryder and Jack Swagger. Yawn. Again, Ryder should already have gold around his waist. Pull the fucking trigger.

Wake me up when Kane returns.


Super 8

Originally, I wasn't going to review Super 8. It has been thoroughly examined by geek bloggers in every cloister of the web. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I had a few things to say about this heartfelt sci-fi flick. Granted, all I can do is echo the sentiments of others. The general consensus amongst genre fans is that Super 8 is a warm, nostalgic creature feature in the same vein as E.T. and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. I'm inclined to agree. J.J. Abrams succeeded in replevying that "Spielberg glow" that so many filmmakers have tried to espouse as their own. Not even Spielberg himself has been able to recapture lightning in a bottle, though he came close when he gave War of the Worlds a baronial facelift.

I wish I had seen Super 8 in theaters. This is a large-scale blockbuster done right. I have read crabby expostulations about the monster (I'll get to Cooper later), but if you're focusing on the sci-fi horseplay, you're missing the point. The plot concerns a group of kids, and that's where you will find the meat of the matter. This is a "coming of age" tale akin to Explorers or Stand by Me. I know that a script is well-written if it convinces me to root for the child characters. As a rule, I detest children (especially fictional ones), but I actually liked the kids portrayed by Joel Courtney, Riley Griffiths, Ryan Lee and the ridiculously cute Elle Fanning. They upstaged their adult co-stars.

Super 8 would be watchable with or without an alien. Of course, I should address the alien. It's...meh. I'm content with the design, but was it necessary to resort to CGI every single time we see the extraterrestrial quasi-spider? It's such an eyesore. Abrams should have approached the beastie effects however he would have approached them in 1979. That would have solidified the "throwback" vibe that he was shooting for. The digital droppings are a petty hindrance, but Jesus, they built the marketing campaign around the fucking alien. Either deliver the goods or extract the horror elements altogether. To be perfectly honest, I preferred the effects in "The Case." Suck on that, Industrial Light & Magic!

Detractors cite the derivative nature of the premise as the grapnel that drags Super 8 down, but this was never supposed to be an innovative project. It wasn't intended to be a groundbreaking motion picture, and if you ask me, it didn't need to be entirely original. The characters are sympathetic, the pacing is watertight and the central cast members are talented beyond their years. What else do you want? I mean, besides practical effects? And to those of you who believe that Super 8 is a sequel/prequel to Cloverfield, knock it off. If anything, it's a sequel/prequel to Witchcraft IX: Bitter Flesh, and no, I have no idea where that came from.


Album Cover of the Week

Shitty band, though.


Matches That Time Forgot #23

The NWO dominated WCW from late 1996 to early 1998. If you watch an isolated episode of Nitro from that time period, you'll have black-and-white merchandise shoved down your throat ad infinitum. It was a formula that proved to be successful in the short-term, but it wasn't the only reason why Nitro happened to be slaughtering Raw in the ratings war. There was a cruiserweight division, and yes, there was even a booming tag team division. Ah, real tag teams...remember those? Relatively speaking, the WWF had a strong tag division in late '96/early '97, but it didn't hold a candle to WCW's roster of celebrated tandems.

The Nasty Boys, The Road Warriors, Harlem Heat, The Outsiders, The Steiner Brothers, Faces of Fear, High Voltage (mere jobbers, but they had a cool look)...sweet line-up, eh? Today's match pits The Nasty Boys against Faces of Fear (Meng and The Barbarian, as managed by Jimmy Hart). It's an ugly slugfest. Honestly, I don't know why I chose to spotlight this particular bout, but it does serve as a reminder of how important the Tag Team Championship was under Eric Bischoff's incumbency. That's one thing he did right. Keep an eye out for Hart's high spot near the end. That's no typo, baby!



I can't pick a favorite Metallica album. Don't make me. Okay, if I had a gun to my head, I would say that I'm partial to ...And Justice For All. But it doesn't have the production of Ride The Lightning. Then again, when I'm listening to Master of Puppets, it seems like the best music ever recorded by human beings. No, I'm sticking with Justice. That's my final answer. Y'know, metal purists have fun excoriating Metallica for all of the imbecilic decisions that they have made over the years. They're an easy target. Let's face it; there is no rational explanation for Lulu or St. Anger. And yet, when the slop has settled, you can almost forgive them for taking a few detours. They wrote "Fade to Black," for fuck's sake.

Ultimately, Metallica's classic material is untouchable. Not even the ludicrous prolixity of a zonked Lou Reed can taint the legendary status of Lightning. Is it just me or has this album been eclipsed by the towering reputations of the releases that came before and after it? Kill 'Em All is the debut, so it has built-in significance. Puppets perfected a certain formula, and Justice marked the band's commercial breakthrough. From a creative standpoint, Lightning represents Metallica's biggest leap forward in maturity and songwriting skill. Most journalists fail to mention the abbreviated gap between Kill and Lightning. In less than a year, five badass dudes (you better believe that I'm including Mustaine) pushed the boundaries of heavy metal and created a face-melting epic in the process.

By comparison, Kill comes off as crude and elementary. The acoustic intro to "Fight Fire with Fire" should clue you in on the fact that Metallica is playing with a new arsenal of assault rifles. It doesn't take long for the track to rip your guts out, though. Fucking brutal. How brutal is it? It's so brutal, that it fingered your sister's unborn child. Too much? It doesn't matter; these riffs don't give a shit! The title tune is the most musically accomplished thrasher on display. "Fade to Black" might be the best metal ballad of all time. I realize that there are several contenders, but how can you deny Kirk's emotive leads? Christ, Kirk himself can't reproduce that kind of magic, and he is...him!

"Trapped Under Ice" is your basic speed metal song. Lethal, but aside from the bridge, it doesn't really fit within the context of the album. The Maiden-esque "Escape" does fit, but it's a little prosaic (in other words, it lacks balls). Ride the Lightning perks up with the malefic, foreboding "Creeping Death." Of course, this album wouldn't be so beefy without Flemming Rasmussen's bottom-heavy production. Why on Earth did Metallica stop collaborating with this guy? Forget Rick Rubin. Give Flemming a call, and hand him the studio keys for the follow-up to Death Magnetic. I was going to end this review with a Lulu joke, but I've bashed Lou Reed enough for one day. If you haven't listened to this seminal thrash opus in awhile, spend some quality time with it. It needs love, too.


Fuck This Holiday

Remember, if your Thanksgiving turkey doesn't beg for mercy and see the face of his turkey God, you're killing him too quickly.


I, Madman

Most genre fans refer to I, Madman as a sleeper hit, a jewel traced in obscurity. While I'll resist the temptation to make a dullard joke by subverting the term "sleeper," I will suggest that this film might be obscure for a reason. It's just an opinion, I know, but I chuckle when I read a review that wonders why I, Madman fell through the cracks. Could it be because the half-baked plot does a cruddy job of explaining itself? Could it be because the heroine is dumber than a satchel of penny loafers (I don't know; it's the first thing that came to mind)? Could it be because director Tibor Takacs expended all of his creative energy on refining the script for The Gate II: The Trespassers? Well, that last one is doubtful.

I don't enjoy lambasting a cult favorite. No one will tell you that I, Madman is a flawless masterpiece, but like I said earlier, it has its fair share of suitors. The set-up is inviting. Virginia is an unassuming bookstore clerk who can't seem to put down a trashy tome named "Much of Madness, More of Sin." Rapt by the macabre prose of author Malcolm Brand, she hunts down his only other published work, "I, Madman." At first, Virginia is intrigued, but each page becomes more and more disturbing. She begins to see the story's villain around town. In a scene reminiscent of Rear Window, she actually sees the black-clad caitiff butchering a pianist across the street. We know that reality is stranger than fiction, but has Virginia's fiction bled into reality?

Sounds cool, right? For what it's worth, I dug the ethereal exposition, despite the fact that nothing happens to Virginia until the 40-minute mark. The special effects are groovy, the acting is adequate and the flashbacks are authentic (love the costume design). Regrettably, I, Madman falls apart when it's forced to delineate a payoff. This is where I ask questions that the film didn't bother answering. How does Dr. Kessler jump out of the novels? We are led to believe that Virginia controls what happens, so why didn't she conjure up Jackal Boy sooner? And how the fuck did she conjure up Jackal Boy? If "I, Madman" is a work of non-fiction, then how is Virginia able to change the ending?

Oh, spoiler alert. Speaking of Virginia, why is she written as an ill-advised dunce? It takes her a millennium to piece the simplest clues together. Case in point, the library flub. Jesus Christ. And we're supposed to be in her corner? She could have easily...EASILY prevented the death of a co-worker, but she convinces the cops to stake out a different location. Luckily, Takacs tosses a stop-motion beastie into the climax to salvage an otherwise wretched third act. He would go on to helm a sprinkling of creature features for the Syfy Channel. I hate to say it, Tibor, but you peaked with The Gate. Seriously, that movie owns my soul.


I Violated WWE'S Wellness Policy

Taking a break from Raw this week. I have too much other stuff to focus on. I will say that R-Truth's suspension makes me sick to my stomach. Way to go, Ron!

Review (of some sort) tomorrow.


WWE's Greatest Rivalries: Bret vs. Shawn

I couldn't wait for this DVD to arrive in the mail. First off, I have the 3-disc set. Most of this review will pertain to the first disc, though. What can I say about Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels that hasn't already been said? The purist in me regards these two gentlemen as the most important wrestlers of the 90's. In actuality, The Rock and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin deserve that appellation, but as far as in-ring technicians go, the scrappers under today's spotlight did more for the industry than anyone else, especially during the New Generation Era. They made it possible for smaller guys to compete in main events, and not just to send the crowd home happy (although they certainly gave attendees something to talk about at work the next day).

The documentary spans two hours. It's hosted by Jim Ross, and it covers everything that you would want it to cover. Each section is prefaced by a video piece that runs down the major events of their careers. Oddly enough, my favorite chunk of the feature presentation occurs early on in the interview. I'm a tag team mark, so I was transfixed on any anecdote that involved The Rockers and The Hart Foundation. It kills me to know that WWE's tag division will never be as righteous as it was from 1987 to 1991. Goddamn 1991, a doleful year that saw the negation of almost every team that mattered, including my precious Demolition. Of course, The Rockers and The Hart Foundation had to break up, but still...fuck!

I love how frank and direct the interview segments are. Bret and Shawn are sitting right next to each other in point blank range of J.R.'s laconic, straightforward line of questioning. They couldn't squirm their way out of an awkward moment if they wanted to. I was surprised by how emotional things were getting towards the end, but I shouldn't have been. The Montreal Screwjob was a big deal. And that was only the beginning of an implausibly rough patch in Bret's life. The wasted opportunities in WCW, the death of a brother (Owen), the death of a dear friend (Curt), the death of a brother-in-law (Davey), the stroke...I have no idea how he soldiered through such austere adversity.

I admit, I came close to choking up when Bret recalled the day that he lost his smile. Shawn may have popularized the turn of phrase, but for The Hitman, it was all too literal (you wrestling nerds know what I'm referring to). If I sound a tad biased, it's because I'm a tad biased. Every fan has his/her preference, and mine happens to be The Excellence of Execution. Don't get me wrong; I enjoy Shawn's work and I respect his place in WWE history. It's just hard for me to overlook the shameless, infantile shit that he pulled in the mid-to-late 90's. The same goes for his confidante, one Hunter Hearst Helmsley (history tends to trivialize his role in The Screwjob).

The other discs? Worth watching. The tag bouts are electric, even if they share a handful of telegraphed spots. The ladder match is incredible. The other matches speak for themselves (the best being the WWF Championship match at 1992's Survivor Series). If I had to nitpick, I would debate the value of the third disc. Is it really necessary? It consists of a single match and a couple of Hall of Fame inductions. Couldn't they fit that stuff on Disc 2? If not, then add extra material to Disc 3. Give me match commentaries or bystander interviews (Nash, Jannetty, Neidhart, etc.). Again, I'm nitpicking. You need to pick this puppy up.

I fully expect the next chapter in the Greatest Rivalries series to be Bob Backlund vs. Man Mountain Rock.


Geek Out #36

This movie is garbage. Ha!


Album Cover of the Week


The Black Sleep

Pitiful DVD cover, no? It's a shame that we have to settle for such haphazard packaging, but we live in an age where major studios don't see the point in nursing catalogue titles back to prestigious repute. Companies like MGM and Warner Brothers have taken the willy-nilly "burn on demand" approach to their libraries. Remember how excited you were when a new line of Midnite Movies was announced? Those days are over, my friend. Hell, if you don't check specific websites on a regular basis, you would never know that certain obscure films are available upon request. It's a miracle that I spotted The Black Sleep on Netflix.

This is a standard "creepy castle" flick from 1956. Ordinarily, it wouldn't goad much of a reaction from the horror community, but it didn't hit DVD until just recently. It's my understanding that it didn't even find a home on video. Another thing that sets The Black Sleep apart from equipollent black-and-white chillers is an all-star cast that includes Basil Rathbone, Bela Lugosi, Lon Chaney Jr., John Carradine and Tor Johnson. Let's talk about these dudes for a minute. Chaney is wasted in a thankless role as a profane brute named Mungo. Johnson does his "stumbling oaf" act, and to be fair, he does it well.

Lugosi? Poor, poor Bela. This was his penultimate gig before dying in the summer (Plan 9 From Outer Space holds the distinction of being the last picture that Lugosi appeared in). Of course, he is given the most humiliating part imaginable, that of a mute servant. No lines, no purpose, no dignity...wow, what a sad paragraph. Out of all of the luminaries headlining the bill, Rathbone is the clear victor. I don't mean to suggest that it was a competition, but if it were, ol' Basil made everyone his bitch. He turns in a grounded, puissant performance as Sir Cadman, a mad scientist who damages a few brains in his quest to bring his wife out of a coma.

The title refers to a potion that Cadman uses to anesthetize his patients. "The Black Sleep" disarms your vital signs. For all intents and purposes, you become a corpse, but only temporarily. It's comparable to the voodoo cordial in The Serpent and the Rainbow. The victims in The Black Sleep aren't quite zombies, though. It's semantics anyway. I haven't said enough about the quality of this b-movie (or lack thereof). The storyline is engrossing, and director Reginald Le Borg has the atmosphere cranked up to eleven (Nigel Tufnel would be proud). Obviously, Rathbone is fun to watch, as is Herbert Rudley as the doctor's reluctant assistant.

So why the mediocre rating? Well, I won't remember The Black Sleep a couple of weeks down the road. It's patently generic. If you've seen a great deal of "mad scientist" flicks, this one is going to taste familiar. You won't spit it out, but you won't reach into the cookie jar for a second helping. God, where is this analogy heading? What I'm trying to say is that The Black Sleep is dull. Good-natured, but dull. If it weren't for the talents of Basil Rathbone, I would have a hard time recommending it. Robert Z'Dar says, "I was disappointed. I thought it would be an hour's worth of a black guy sleeping. Where is my refund?"


Matches That Time Forgot #22

I didn't watch much wrestling during the 2000's, but since rediscovering my love for the industry, I have done my homework. In doing so, I found that the WWE reverted back to the New Generation Era, if only for a few years. From 2005 to 2008, garish gimmicks and campy storytelling made a comeback of sorts. Don't believe me? Watch this match. Here we have The Great Khali versus Tatanka. Yes, this match exists. To say that Tatanka's second run in the WWE was largely exiguous would be a heinous understatement. Simply using the word "exiguous" would be heinous. And yet, he enjoyed modest success upon his return.

Khali was fresh off of upstaging The Undertaker. The creative team bent over backwards to hide his flaws, and for the time being, he was able to coast on his size. All of his matches on Smackdown were quick squashes, including this one. Vince did a decent job of putting him over as a monster heel, I suppose. I still prefer Giant Gonzalez, but whatever. If you watch the video, you will be treated to eight minutes of pulp. It's delightful. Tatanka's maudlin promo, Bradshaw's racist commentary, Taker's mystical interference (spoooooky)...it's straight out of 1993. The only thing missing is an ICO-PRO banner.


How are those donations coming along?

I went on an online shopping spree recently, so I have a slew of cool shit to review. Most of it hasn't arrived yet, but it will be here before you know it (because you have no way of knowing when I'll receive it). Movies, music, a wrestling documentary...speaking of which, you can probably guess which WWE DVD I plan on covering. Here is a cryptic hint: their match at Wrestlemania 12 was an instant classic. Give up? I'm referring to the contentious rivalry between The Ultimate Warrior and Hunter Hearst Helmsley. Duh! You thought I was talking about The Godwinns and The Bodydonnas, didn't you? Dumb fuck.


Parts Unknown #88: Raw

Three hours of Raw...you'd think that I would have a lot to say, but I don't. Shit, if it wasn't for Smackdown, I would take a sabbatical from WWE programming.


~ I enjoyed The Rock's contributions to the proceedings. Mauling Mick Foley was a clever, unpredictable move (it saved a sagging segment). The stand-off opposite The Awesome Truth wasn't booked properly, but it was an entertaining way to scratch the show. Miz and Truth needed to look stronger going into Survivor Series, though.

~ Mick Foley's reveal. I knew that he had appeared at a house show, but I was shocked to see him on Raw. In retrospect, I should have seen his arrival coming from a mile away. I'm not too bright.

~ The match between Kofi/Cara and Hunico/Rhodes. I approve of Cody's new entrance theme.

~ Zack Ryder's petition is a vote of confidence, or at least that's what I'm telling myself. I think that they will pencil in his shot at the United States Championship at the last minute.

~ Bull Buchanan was funny.

~ The Sheamus/Swagger match. I don't remember details, as I was beginning to doze off by this point.

~ Del Rio/Henry versus Punk/Show...I loved Punk's aggression. If he doesn't win the belt on Sunday, it will be a crime against reason.


~ Mother of cunt, the time they wasted on Cole's Challenge and Cena's "This is Your Life" could have been used to build relevant storylines, to spotlight superstars who never catch a fucking break, to do anything else! Goddamn! Why keep Cole as a commentator? Fucking why??? What's the point of dragging Jim Ross to ringside for one or two matches every other week?

~ Still no Brodus Clay?

~ Mason Ryan is godawful. Send him back to FCW.

~ A Kelly Kelly roll-up victory? Stupendous. You might as well 86 the entire Diva's Division. How can anyone take this bullshit seriously?

~ What are they doing with Kevin Nash? Seriously, what are they doing?

Three hours and nothing accomplished. Holy shit.


Panels From Beyond the Grave #11

This review was written by part-time Panels From Beyond the Grave contributor Bob Ignizio. If you're a loyal reader, you should be familiar with Bob by now. Today, he is surveying a seedy sci-fi title known as Spaceman.

Click HERE to visit Bob's blog, an outlet for his movie-related musings. It comes highly recommended (by me, naturally).

SPACEMAN (1 of 9, December 2011)

Spaceman, a new 9-issue limited series from DC Comics' Vertigo imprint, looks and reads like something that would have been right at home in the pages of Heavy Metal or Epic Illustrated back in the eighties. The art has that cartoonish, yet edgy feel reminiscent of a lot of the artists for those mags, and despite the “mature readers” designation the title earns (mainly for a little nudity and sexual content), the overall vibe is more sophisticated juvenile than adult. In other words, this is fun trash that delivers the sex and violence adolescent boys (and those stuck in a permanent state of adolescence) crave, wrapped up in a reasonably intelligent sci-fi sheen.

The main character in the book is Orson, a simian-looking guy who was genetically engineered for life on Mars. The space mission he and his “brothers” were supposed to go on never happened, although Orson has dreams (or maybe they're more than just dreams?) of what might have been had he made it to the red planet. Instead, he's stuck on a future earth that is nothing short of paradise...just kidding; it's a dystopian nightmare. Seriously, what did you expect?

Orson ekes out a living salvaging junk and takes what pleasure he can from virtual reality sex and whatever drugs he can get his hands on. That said, he comes across as almost an innocent (read: not very bright) soul and seems genuinely concerned when he hears about a celebrity's child being kidnapped. The crime doesn't seem to have anything to do with the lower social echelon on which Orson resides, but by the end of the first issue, the two storylines have come together and - if I'm not interpreting the final panel wrong - in a way that connects to Orson's past.

I've become a fan of writer Brian Azzarello recently through his dark and violent take on Wonder Woman in DC's “New 52” reboot. Both in that book and here, he keeps things moving along at a brisk, almost cinematic pace, making sure we get the background information we need clearly and economically. There's not a lot of action this first issue, but it's far from dull. There's a nice strain of dry, dark humor running throughout, and with things getting tense towards the end, I expect considerably more excitement in the next installment.

As for Eduardo Risso's art, I'm reminded a bit of Dave Gibbons (Watchmen), maybe with a hint of Mike Mignola (Hellboy). His style is simultaneously gritty and cartoonish, and he really packs a lot of detail into each and every panel. He's also an excellent visual storyteller, something that really becomes apparent in the last seven pages, which go largely wordless.

It's still a little early to give this book a really fair assessment, but so far, I like what I've seen. And with this first issue priced at a mere dollar, if you're a fan of edgy sci-fi comics, what have you got to lose by picking this one up (of course, the price goes up after this, but hey, it's only 9 issues...it's not a lifetime commitment you're making here)? Three-and-a-half out of five Savages for now, but this is one where I think we'll need to see the whole series before making a final assessment.


Monster Dog

I watched Troll II the other day. Believe it or not, I had never seen it before. It's requisite viewing for horror fans, so I needed to see what the fuss was all about. And...yeah, it's pretty bad. Here's the thing; I have made it my vocation in life to imbibe the weirdest, most obscure b-movies in the solar system. I've seen the shittiest of the shitty. Troll II is whacked out, but it's not the worst z-grade production that I've had to endure. As far as schlock goes, it's not the funniest aberration out there, nor is it the silliest. It's not even close to that ballpark. Well, it's close, but it's loitering in the parking lot.

What does Troll II have in common with Monster Dog? Nothing, I guess. Moving on! For the record, I'm glad to be moving on. After sitting through Troll II (and Best Worst Movie, the documentary that studies the appeal of said cult classic), I don't want to run afoul of anything that reminds me of Nilbog. So, Monster Dog. It was directed by Clyde Anderson. Hmm, that name sounds familiar. Let me check IMDb...interesting. Apparently, it's a pseudonym used by Italian filmmaker Claudio Fragasso. Gotcha. Many great artists adopt a nom de plume, an assumed name to apply to unrelated projects. Wait a minute. No, that couldn't be. Troll II was directed by Drake Floyd. Let's see what IMDb has to say about Drake Floyd...oh, fuck.

It's true. Troll II and Monster Dog were spearheaded by the same dense, borderline autistic auteur. I am here to tell you that Troll II is the better film. If you rented Best Worst Movie, you know that one of the things that hindered the "creative" process was the language barrier between the cast and the crew. Here, the gullies in communication are amplified. Monster Dog was shot in Spain by Italians. The star? Alice Cooper. Because why not? To Cooper's credit, he is probably the most talented actor in the bunch. He gives it the old college try, but his effort is invalidated by execrable dubbing. FACTOID: The man who supplies Alice with a voice had a bit part in The Passion of the Christ. It's a small world after all?

The perennial shock rocker plays Vincent Raven, a perennial shock rocker. Vincent travels to his father's estate to shoot a music video with his girlfriend and a ragtag troupe of flaky friends (a model, a cameraman, some chick and some dude). When they arrive to the dank premises, they are warned about a roving pack of wild dogs that has already claimed two lives. The locals point to Vincent as the catalyst for all of this carnage. His father was slaughtered by a mob of torch-bearing villagers who swore that Vincent Sr. was a werewolf. Is his blood tainted by a curse? Is there another werewolf commanding rabid dogs in the area to rip into innocent flesh? Is there a werewolf at all?

Monster Dog has a few novel ideas, but lethargic pacing and hideous special effects get in the way of a fun time. Customarily, I don't pick on cheap creature designs. I'm easy to please, but we never see a full werewolf suit. They didn't make one! We get a sloppy puppet and an embarrassing transformation sequence. That just won't cut it. This flick clocks in at 84 minutes, but it seemed like it took two hours for the defective storyline to resolve itself. I did enjoy the campy music videos, and Fragasso can do wonders with a fog machine. Still, Troll II offered a less traumatic viewing experience. The irony is paralyzing.


Album Cover of the Week

In honor of the reunion...new album, motherfuckers!


Geek Out #35

If you're the kind of "old school" horror buff that I am, this video (and the videos that I'll be linking to) will make you geek out like you have never geeked out before. It was tailor-made for this column. As some of you might know, movie collections are in vogue on YouTube. It's becoming more and more common for people to upload footage of their collections, and not just for bragging rights (although the fine gentleman that I'm about to introduce to you has earned the right to brag). I'm assuming the same could be said for collectors of stamps or baseball cards, but we're focusing on horror films. To be more specific, we're focusing on horror VHS collections.

This motherfucker. Oh my God. If this guy started a cult, I would follow it. No questions asked. Castrations, suicide pacts, blood orgies...I'd be down for anything. If you think I'm overreacting, just wait until you see his "VHS room." EASILY 4,000 tapes, maybe even 5,000. I would sell my anus to sit in this room for ten minutes. Whenever I get bored, I watch one of these videos (there are plenty to choose from on his profile). In each clip, he pulls out a handful of titles and shows them off for various reasons. It's beyond entertaining. Of course, you'll feel like a chump after watching one of these videos, as he puts pretty much every other VHS collector to shame.

Click HERE to visit his YouTube channel. WARNING: You may need to have a box of tissues within reach.


Super Podcast

Click HERE to listen to a podcast that I guested on (it can either be streamed or downloaded). It was recorded for a website that is maintained by the lovely SuperMarcey, a pal of mine who writes movie reviews and other film-related articles. Her blog isn't 100% horror-flavored, but this particular podcast deals with unsung genre favorites. Technically, it's a Halloween episode. It would have been recorded last month, but we couldn't get our schedules to sync up.



The H-Man

Ishiro Honda is one of my favorite directors of all time. He is responsible for such revered city-stompers as Godzilla vs. Mothra, King Kong Escapes, Destroy All Monsters and War of the Gargantuas. While you might say that he was a kaiju specialist, Honda wasn't entrenched within the ambits of giant monster movies. He fiddled with other genres. 1958's The H-Man is a prime example of his willingness to probe antithetic styles of filmmaking. It combines science fiction with film noir to create a singular oddity, a Japanese murder mystery that poses the question, "What if the clammy intumescence in The Blob was a gangster?"

Have I blown your mind yet? Calm down. This flick isn't quite as rich as the premise would suggest. The story is definitely...well, stupid, but Honda takes a passive approach to the script. As for the details of the plot, cops are in pursuit of a drug dealer named Misaki who vanished into thin air. When I say that he vanished, I mean just that. All that remains of the elusive malefactor is a pile of clothes in the middle of a busy street. Misaki's songbird girlfriend (she performs in a smoky nightclub...with a perfect English accent, of course) is interrogated to no avail. The case seems impossibly inscrutable until a scientist comes forward and broaches the topic of radiation sickness.

Shocking, I know. At any rate, the scientist links Misaki's disappearance to the bizarre deaths of several men aboard a ghost ship that materialized in the harbor. What was on that ship? I'll give you a hint; it's blob-like. The H-Man isn't entirely derivative. This blob takes the shape of a pellucid wraith on occasion. Think Slimer, only less cartoonish. The optical effects are nifty. Honda uses editing tricks and in-camera ingenuity to make his victims dissolve. It's cool, but atomic thrills are few and far between. I described the direction as passive earlier, and that's pretty much how I would describe this film in a nutshell.

The bulk of The H-Man is detached, standoffish even. It's almost as if the DVD itself mellowed out and delighted in a swig of cold medicine. I watched the Japanese version, and I'm thinking that I should have tried the American version on for size. Many scenes drag on for no discernible reason. This flick is heavy on dialogue, so that doesn't help. Most of the characters blend in with one another, and no, it has nothing to do with race. On the flipside, I had fun with The H-Man to a degree. The color print is marvelous. You could do worse as it relates to Japanese sci-fi reels. A lot worse.


Parts Unknown #87: Raw

Introductions are overrated.


~ As much as I don't care about Cena's beef with The Awesome Truth, their opening banter succeeded in setting up a crowd-pleasing main event.

~ The Ziggler/Morrison match. They had impeccable timing. I don't know if I understand the outcome, though. Is JoMo in line for a United States Title opportunity? If so, where does that leave Zack Ryder? Will we see a three-way dance at Survivor Series? As per usual, the booking is baffling, but I'll bite my lip as long as Iced Z takes home the strap in his hometown. Curse these Daedalean cryptograms!

~ CM Punk putting Alberto Del Rio in his place. I like The Mexican Aristocrat, but Punk is dead-on. The most interesting thing about the WWE Champion is his ring announcer. This is why I was so confounded when Del Rio won the Royal Rumble. He wasn't ready for a major push, and honestly, I still don't buy him as a top contender (much less a champion).

~ Kevin Nash's promo. Dumb storyline, but Diesel made it seem somewhat intriguing. By the way, I'm calling him Diesel from here on out. Thought you should know.

~ The main event. Woo, woo, woo!


~ No Brodus Clay.

~ The match between Del Rio and Kofi Kingston was far too short. Is Kofi paying for the sins of his tag team partner? There are hundreds of ways to handle this situation. Vince (or whomever it may concern) has chosen the most damaging way to address the fact that Evan is a no-show...not at all! Seriously? This is what they came up with? To simply bury Air Boom and abase the Tag Team Championship? Fuck off.

~ Swagger and Santino again? Screen time is precious. Please use it wisely. There is a huge fucking PPV around the bend, and we're watching Kurt Angle Jr. bully an Italian Eric Young. Why not have The Oddities participate in a wet t-shirt contest? The judges can be Battle Kat, T.L. Hopper and Nathan Jones.

~ Kelly Kelly's Maxim cover bullshit. Isn't Beth Pheonix supposed to be feuding with Eve?

I have a tension headache.


Matches That Time Forgot #21

This is a first. A match that time forgot...from Wrestlemania? If you're a die-hard wrestling fan, it shouldn't surprise you that I was able to disinter a dinky, entry-level match from the Super Bowl of sports entertainment. Hell, I could start a new column about Wrestlemania's that time forgot.

It's ironic that the tug-of-war at hand was stashed in the middle of an otherwise sturdy card. WM10 is no classic, but it's generally considered to be one of the better PPV's from the New Generation Era. It was certainly a step-up from the woebegone WM9 (hey, I dug it...I'm the only Giant Gonzalez mark on Earth). In spite of favorable reviews, this high-profile event is tarnished by a 32-second altercation between Earthquake and Adam Bomb.

Yeah. The sole purpose of this match was to advance the rivalry between Howard Finkel and Harvey Wippleman. Apart from the opening promo, this is merely a random squash. It's the kind of match that would jerk the curtain on an episode of Superstars. The crowd is dead during the in-ring action. Normally, Earthquake (a.k.a. John Tenta) would elicit rowdy pops as a babyface, but here, no one reacts to his valiant save (then again, Finkel isn't much of a damsel in distress). Tenta would leave Vince shortly thereafter to become a fucking shark in WCW. You can't make this stuff up.

Album Cover of the Week

Don't ask me why, but I love this album cover. The album itself is pretty cool, too.