I've had the WWE Network since Monday. I've only experienced one day of uninterrupted, snag-free service. That would be...today. Frustrating? That's putting it mildly, but hold onto your fedora of fault-finding. Technical gaffes are to be expected with the launch of any multi-media venture of this breadth and volume. Let's wait and see how the network holds up over the next few weeks. More importantly, let's see how WWE's servers respond to the assiduous influx of traffic levied by Wrestlemania. If the live feed cuts out during Brock Lesnar's epic encounter with The Undertaker, God help the McMahon family. Thousands of fans would cancel their subscriptions, and so would I.
But that hasn't happened yet (knock on wood). Issues are being arbitrated, and I'm starting to enjoy the content that the WWE Network has to offer. I just watched a shaving of WCW Beach Blast '92. Scotty Flamingo vs. Flyin' Brian Pillman was way better than I remembered. Sure, Baby Raven was greener than zucchini leukocytes on St. Patrick's Day (wait, what?), but it was a spirited exchange that utilized the entire ring. I've pegged the Rude/Steamboat Iron Man Match for later tonight. Motherfucking Steamboat, people. I could watch any PPV if I wanted to, and not that it's any of your goddamn business, but I'll probably catch up on all of the ECW stuff I discounted in the 90's.
Of course, the first actual live stream was NXT: Arrival. I can't believe how much buzz this two-hour special has generated. Can the good will amassed by Paige, Emma, Sami Zayn, The Ascension and Tyler Breeze (among others) translate to the main roster? How many regular viewers of Raw and Smackdown tuned in last night? Zayn and Cesaro worked a "match of the year" candidate that was able to tell a story with impeccable wrestling. Paige and Emma upstaged the entire Diva's division. That match felt more meaningful and significant than any women's bout in the WWE since Lita's retirement.
Don't get me wrong; I still heart A.J., but who does she have to work with? Emma needs to ditch Santino as soon as fucking possible. At any rate, The Ascension was also on display. They have the potential to be the next Road Warriors, or at least the next Acolyte Protection Agency. The future is so bright, I need sunglasses. HAHA! My brain's feed is cutting out.
Posted by Dom Coccaro at 9:18 PM
So if you're not watching NXT: Arrival tomorrow (Thursday) night, you're a loser. I'll probably review it. On second thought, I'll just post my piece on the WWE Network and include my impressions of the event. Something tells me it's going to kick ass. Bring on Paige vs. Emma and Zayn vs. Cesaro!
Posted by Dom Coccaro at 11:06 PM
Larry Cohen, you fucking weirdo. Only you could have made this movie. 1987's A Return to Salem's Lot has zilch to do with 1979's Salem's Lot. Yes, it should have had a different title, but Halloween III: Season of the Witch has managed to settle into a niche audience after years of debasement and unjust scurrility. Why does everyone still shit on this flick? My friend gave me his copy after watching it and promptly shrugging his shoulders. I don't think it's that bad. C'mon! Michael Moriarty plays a dickhead! How dreadful could it be? Now, go play while Daddy writes a synopsis. You know I get volatile in "synopsis mode." Besides, your mother is being a bitch.
So Moriarty is Joe, a photo journalist saddled with the responsibility of tending to his estranged son. He takes Jeremy - the estranged son - to a gig in Maine. Naturally, he winds up in Salem's Lot, a nondescript town smote with hoary vampires. The bloodsuckers have been there for centuries, and they have a system in place. They feed on cattle, their children attend school at night and "drones" (hybrids, basically) keep the municipality operating during daylight hours. Cohen is prone to using boilerplate horror bromides to comment on society. Here, he satires the sterility of suburban life and the virulence of class warfare. I don't need to tell you that he does this with tacky creature effects.
See, that's why I dig Return. It's lighthearted. It's funny, both intentionally and unintentionally. It's ambitious. The cast is equipped with quirky character actors. Ricky Addison Reed is enthusiastic as Jeremy, and he has the best lines of the lot ("You shut up. You shut the fuck up!"). Oddly enough, this was his first and last role. Sam Fuller kicks ass as Van Meer, Nazi hunter extraordinaire. It goes without saying that Moriarty is...himself. Man, he's an acquired taste, but I've developed an appreciation for his diacritic swagger. Diacritic swagger??? Yeah.
I am fully aware that this film is a honeycomb of foibles, a waffle cloth riddled with craters, if you will. It's not my favorite Larry Cohen production. That slot is reserved for It's Alive. However, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend A Return to Salem's Lot. The Tobe Hooper original is infinitely superior, but if you adjust your expectations accordingly, you might have fun. Cons? Eh, the running time is swollen, subplots are dropped without warning and Count Barlow is missed. You won't find much menace beyond these gates, that I can assure you. There is a reason why I focused on the positives, though. The negatives didn't weigh too heavily on my psyche. That's obvious.
Posted by Dom Coccaro at 6:47 PM
This is a "dual purpose" post. First up, the obvious purpose, which is to pay respects to the recently departed Nelson Frazier Jr. Growing up, I didn't have much of an opinion with regard to Mabel or Men on a Mission. I could say the same for the other babyface tag teams of the time. How did The Smoking Gunns get over anyway? But I digress. When The Undertaker compiled his Ministry of Darkness in 1999, I recognized Mabel straight away. Except he was called Viscera. And he was fucking creepy.
Man, what a great gimmick, if you can even call it a gimmick. I don't remember Nelson cutting any real promos as Viscera, but he didn't need to talk. Somehow, he managed to be more intimidating than The Phenom himself, no flimsy feat. When the character resurfaced in WWE's ECW, I wasn't watching the product (this was during my cavalier, supercilious too-cool-for-wrestling phase). I have since gone back and eaten my fill of Big Daddy V. This kinda-sorta brings me to my next point, the second purpose of this prevailingly purposeful post.
Does Nelson Frazier Jr. deserve to be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame? Ideally, no. Up until a couple of days ago, didn't the die-hards snicker at the mention of King Mabel? Didn't they roll their eyes at his 1995 coronation? In an ideal setting, he wouldn't be inducted. However, as soon as Koko B. Ware was conscripted as a so-called legend, all bets were off. Hell, both Koko and Nelson worked for Jerry in Memphis. I say, one is just as worthy as the other.
What do you think? It would be a reverential way to honor his death, but of course, you can't induct a wrestler for dying young. Or can you? Fuck, I don't know.
Posted by Dom Coccaro at 11:19 PM
I never realized how much Peter Sasdy rocks. If you're like most eremitic cave dwellers, you've never heard of the guy. Seriously, who isn't familiar with the gentleman who engendered The Stone Tape (a made-for-TV favorite here at RR Inc.) and Taste the Blood of Dracula? Almost everyone on Earth? Really? Well, that's a shame. Sasdy seems to have had a knack for picking tidy, magnetic scripts. The pictures I've seen of his share a deft sense of structure and storytelling. They immediately dry-gulch the viewer with a grapnel, a visceral hook that waylays like soldiers in ambuscade. I once fucked like soldiers in ambuscade. It wasn't pretty. In fact, don't look up "ambuscade." I've already revealed too much about my thrusting techniques.
God, that was the worst paragraph ever written. But you came here to brush up on your Hammer knowledge, didn't you? 1971's Hands of the Ripper strikes a euphonious parity between the storied studio's Gothic output and the seedy kitsch of, say, Twins of Evil. It boasts the best of both worlds. The death sequences are showy (in a crimson-colored way, natch), and we are treated to...um, the female form. On the other hand, the cast is positively poised. Eric Porter is affable and dignified as Dr. Pritchard, a chap who volunteers to take care of a disturbed girl he suspects of murder. This isn't just any kind of murder, though. What am I saying? Sure it is. Isn't it? Oh, who cares?
The angelic Anghared Rees plays Anna, the pestered daughter of one Jack the Ripper. She saw Mommy being offed by Daddy. That's enough to gall any dreamboat cherub. There is a bloodlust inherent in her stare, and it can be triggered by specific stimuli (lambent jewelry, a peck on the cheek). She becomes "possessed" by her father's spirit. That probably constitutes a spoiler, but it's obvious that Anna is the killer from the get-go. The entertainment value is mined from proper character development and the suspense generated by a virile, healthy third act. Granted, said suspense could not exist without glaringly stupid decisions made by our trusted protagonist.
It takes Dr. Pritchard an awfully long time to put two and two together. Maybe I'm dense, but I was nonplussed by the cathedral bit. How can Anna hear Laura's whispering? I couldn't tell where the actors were standing in relation to one another, which might be the only denigration I can direct at Sasdy's camerawork. Get it? Direct? It's a pun, bitch! Woo-hoo! In all relative seriousness, Hands of the Ripper is a prizewinner. The pace is methodical, the leads are sturdy and the foul play is appropriately brutal. I'd put this stalk-and-slash vehicle up there with other Ripper romps such as From Hell and Bob Clark's Murder by Decree. Robert Z'Dar says, "Guess it's back to work for me. I demand a raise."
Posted by Dom Coccaro at 6:00 PM