Is it possible to get exactly what you wanted and be disappointed? That's how I feel about 1992's Doctor Mordrid. It serves up the kind of flimsy, unreasonable frames of gossamer camp that one would crave from a Jeffrey Combs-starring Full Moon movie, but I was left with a sense of...incompleteness? I'm not sure that's a word. It fits, though! Co-directors Albert and Charles Band (I bet they date the same chicks) try to kick the football so hard, they miss it altogether. This was originally supposed to be Full Moon's Dr. Strange adaptation, but obviously, Marvel disengaged. Change the names, tweak certain items and blammo, baby! Your order of Doctor Mordrid is ready to be shipped.
If you haven't figured it out by now, Combs is Anton Mordrid, a blue-robed sorcerer committed to protecting the earth from forces of eeeeviiiil. Real quick - Combs looks ridiculous in his full costume, which incorporates a cape. The film opens with Mordrid standing (he may have been sitting) in space, and he's speaking to The Monitor. Who what huh? That's some omniscient fucker. A fucker god, I shall call him. The Monitor is represented by a pair of eyes hovering in space. I realize that I didn't need to use italics again, but c'mon, we're already in fucking space. Italics. Right, so Kabal - an eeeeviiiil sorcerer - has touched down on our cobalt pebble and needs to obtain stonework. Y'know, to help him rule the world.
The whole shebang is building up to a climactic blowoff. Sorry, that's a wrestling term. A battle! The problem is that the "blowoff" is abbreviated, and the exposition is a soft-sell approach to puffery. It's ordinary. It's mellow. Eh, I guess I was hoping for more action, more alchemy, more special effects. The effects that subsist are definitely monumental. We get a stop-motion fight between dinosaur fossils, and it's badass to the fucketh degree. I didn't need light shows on that scale. Just give me something other than Mordrid chatting up a forensic (or whatever) babe in an apartment hallway. The running time is a meager 74 minutes, but the first hour is a chore. Why couldn't The Monitor monitor the pace? When your fucker god hands you lemons, rub them in his eye sockets. That are floating in space. Italics.
Brian Thompson is keen as Kabal. Yvette Nipar gives a studied performance as Sam, the forensic (or whatever) babe. I like that she's legitimately intelligent, although I didn't buy her compulsory infatuation with the titular wizard. If there is a sci-fi/fantasy "epic" that didn't need romance, it's this one. There is plenty of plot as it is, and the Band blokes boggle it. I respect my readers enough to deflect spoilers, but suffice to squeak, the final conflict ignores logic. Actually, the crux of the entire storyline occludes oh-so-pesky details that would have made Doctor Mordrid easier to swallow. I'm making this flick sound dreadful, but it's not. It's fun and mediocre. See, this is what I meant by the first sentence of the review. Proceed with caution.
Posted by Dom Coccaro at 11:58 PM
If you read yesterday's post, you know that I signed up for Full Moon Streaming (again, this isn't paid advertising). Well, I'm going to utilize it. The next five reviews (including a Blood Capsule) will cover films from said website. That doesn't necessarily mean I'll be spit-roasting five Full Moon flickies. FMS sports a healthy selection, though I can't see myself subscribing for any longer than six months, unless they continue to add libraries.
Am I taking requests from the Full Moon faithful among you? No. I don't need a bank of cocks in my kitchen. Uh, I may have razed an old adage. Never the fucking mind! I can't wait to review Totem. I'm not going to review Totem. Ever.
Posted by Dom Coccaro at 6:59 PM
Everyone online is freaking out about Beyonce's new album and the Game of Thrones season premiere. Me? I'm freaking out because I signed up for Full Moon Streaming (no, this isn't a sponsored post...I wish it was!). Netflix just doesn't have enough stuff that suits my horrible tastes. I'm currently halfway through Head of the Family, but that's not the cover story. No, the cover story deals with a Moonbeam Entertainment feature entitled Demon in the Bottle. What was Moonbeam? It was Charles Band's family-oriented sci-fi/fantasy imprint. I know that Demon in the Bottle exists. I've seen the trailer (more on that in a cold minute). I've even read reviews! And yet, I've never found a single copy of the film.
I have reason to believe that Demon in the Bottle wasn't distributed on home video in the states. Full Moon Streaming is ballasted with b-doodads, and obviously, that includes the entire Full Moon catalog. Except for Demon in the Bottle. That leads me to the trailer, which transposed my goddamn faculties. The audio track is lifted from the trailer for David Cronenberg's Crash. !?!!?!???!? It syncs up beautifully, but why? WHY? Who did this? And why??? Who would...am I missing something? Is there an obvious link between a wholesome monster movie and a clinical character study that examines the fetishistic desire for auto accidents?
Demon in the Bottle is on YouTube. In Spanish. I'm convinced that I'll never watch it. I do need to finish Head of the Family, so if you don't mind, please get off my land.
Posted by Dom Coccaro at 12:32 AM
SLAUGHTERHOUSE ROCK (1988)
Technically, you could throw this little number in the pile of "heavy metal" horror heavyweights that bulldozed the 80's. That's why I had to (HAD to) watch it. It is with a sad face emoji that I must report to you that the musical aspect of Slaughterhouse Rock is a mere shadow that jitterbugs in the background of the plot. Maybe it's doing the bunny hop; I can't be too sure. A guy (names escape me) has recurring nightmares of gruesome slayings being carried out at Alcatraz. They are getting more and more vivid, to the point that...um, Guy wakes up in flames. His psychologist beseeches him and his chums to visit the sequestered prison. That's precisely what he does. Demon possession, flaky wisenheimer dialogue and Toni Basil's headgear ensues.
I will say that I was entertained. The crew gave a shit, and everything looks nice. You know you've been watching a lot of cheese-grade bilge when you're pleasantly surprised that the movie you're viewing resembles a movie. In all fairness, Rock checked my horror boxes. The gore is fucking soggy, and all locations are steeped in fog. It really isn't until the last act that the script trips over itself. I was asking questions I shouldn't have been asking. Example? "Where did that monster come from?" If I wasn't a fan of random monsters, there is a chance I might abhor this flick. Spookies has spoiled me so.
18/33...worth a laserdisc rental.
Posted by Dom Coccaro at 10:37 PM
I'm back. You'll notice the parades, the funfetti, the crying children, the hula dancers...personally, I thought the saturnalia was unnecessary. I'm just one horror blogger in a briny basin of undulating horror bloggers. But whatever, DEREK. I saw a movie the other day. A whole movie! It's called Hush, and it's generating a payload of buzz right now. When I first heard about it, I couldn't believe that a forgettable Gwyneth Paltrow vehicle from 1998 was being given a second chance at prominence. Then I realized that this was a more recent film, a near-slasher whose deaf lead is stalked by...well, the unsettling motherfucker pictured above.
Director Mike Flanagan is quietly assembling a stellar resume. 2011's Absentia far exceeded its gracile budget, and from what I understand, 2013's Oculus was a respectable joint. With Hush, he puts his stamp on the thriller subgenre. It's a good stamp. The tension is keyed up to levels of "oh shit" and "oh fuck." You want to see Maddie - our protagonist - survive this game. She is played to perfection by co-writer Kate Siegel (had no idea she was married to Flanagan...plot twist!). I recommend Hush full-sail, but it does have its faults. The killer takes off his mask in the first act where he is exposed as a minor-league douchebag. Up to that point, the "Myers-lite" gimmick was working for him. Why demystify it?
Still, Paltrow turns in a magic(k)al performance, and remember, this was right after Se7en. How the fuck did she regain her head? That's acting, my friends.
Posted by Dom Coccaro at 5:27 AM
At the onset of the new millennium, Stan Winston co-produced a series of remakes under the Creature Features banner. They were updates of sci-fi drive-in classics from the 50's. I won't bore you with canned observations of each film (there were five total), but suffice to say, most of them were agreeable. Prior to finding this puppy at a thrift store, The Day the World Ended was one of the rebuffs I had not seen. It probably wouldn't surprise you to learn that I have seen the 1958 original, a kooky time-waster with a plenitude of pep. If you're also familiar with the parent picture, you should know that the 2001 version has changed pretty much everything, the title notwithstanding. That title...it has absolutely nothing to do with the story. Zot squat.
We zero in on Ben, a little boy in a (really) small town. He's demure, he gets bullied, even the teachers treat him like roach ordure. And that wasn't really a sentence, but roll with me. A new school counselor comes to, um, Smalltown, and it's not long before she forms an unspoken bond with Ben. Sierra Vista! That's the name of the town. Sorry. Anywho, it becomes crystal clear that everyone is keeping a major secret. PRO TIP: If your community is trying to keep a major secret, maybe don't act cagey and circumspect around all outsiders. I won't spoil twisty-twists, but the secret involves a murderous alien with surly tentacles.
I'll start with the positive stuff. Winston didn't just help produce this flick; he helped with the creature effects, and they kick ass. All practical, baby! It's a peachy monster. On the not-so-positive front, there are two moments of cruddy CGI. Fret not, for they are never used for the space-endemic beast. Bobby Edner plays the role of our child actor, and I have to give him credit. He's quite good, and I didn't want to strangle him once. The rest of the cast is versed. Nastassja Kinski gives a stellar performance as the concerned therapist. Randy Quaid is intimidating as the brutish doctor. I don't know if he was already cracked in 2001, but I kept waiting for his gaskets to spout. I imagined him grabbing an orange and proclaiming, "This is my god! I am basted for the babysitter hooves!"
With regards to the plot, it's fairly unique for a small-scale creature feature. That doesn't mean it makes sense. There are flashbacks toward the end that fill in some of the blanks, but they don't connect the most substantial dots. The sci-fi elements end up suffering. Aren't those the elements that carry the bulk of the weight? On the whole, I wasn't terribly attached to a single character, so I can't say I cared if anyone died. It was a stolid, neutral watch. "Neutral" is the appropriate word, though I did enjoy The Day The World Ended. For what its worth, it outranks its loopy forebear. If you're interested in checking out the other entries in this series, steer clear of Teenage Cavemen. Don't ask questions. Steer. Clear.
Posted by Dom Coccaro at 9:09 AM
I feel like I need to make something clear right off the bat. I am NOT in the Geoff Tate camp. He has released a couple of records since being toppled and bundled off from Queensryche. Between the two of them, there might be five songs that I would consider good. I don't want to make it a point to bash the guy, but it's hard to ignore the factious legal battles when you're reviewing a Queensryche album. In 2013, the remaining core band members officially moved on, releasing a self-titled affair that was met with mostly encomiastic flattery. I thought it was a step in the right direction. I mean, it didn't drive me wild, but I dug it alright. Last year's Condition Human, on the other hand, has been driving me wild since I (finally) bought it a few weeks back.
From my vantage point, it seems that they were merely gearing up with Queensryche, not to censure it altogether. This is the grand opus that longtime fans have been waiting to hear since 1988's Operation: Mindcrime. No, it's not a lofty concept piece that tells an intricate story, and I certainly don't want to oversell it. I simply love what the Q boys (not to be confused with my hair metal group Q*Boyz) are doing here musically. They have been designated as a progressive rock outfit since 1990's Empire, but this ragtime right here is metal. Even the more "commercial" tunes have a metallic backbone. Scott Rockenfield's drumwork is busier, the dual leads reek of Iron Maiden and vocal powerhouse Todd La Torre draws out a Halford-esque shriek every once in awhile.
Speaking of which, can we drop the comparisons to Tate? Too many standpat reactionaries wrote him off as a clone. I'm sorry, but the lead singer of Queensryche should pass for the lead singer of Queensryche. Besides, he isn't an exact replica. He does have his own kinks and vagaries. His melodies are infectious, and I fancy the way he tackles verses. That's an oddly specific thing to praise, I know. I won't fucking apologize for it! Michael Wilton and Parker Lundgren trade solos with artistry. The extended lead break in "Selfish Lives" is a ginormous wedge of sweetness. I kid you not, the tactful shredding in "Hellfire" brings Chuck Schuldiner to mind. DeGarmo? Who the hell is that?
'Twas just a joke. I'm a DeGarmo fan. Anyway, Condition Human is stacked with dynamics. "Arrow of Time" and "All There Was" will serve as your uptempo rippers for the evening. "Guardian" is - dare I say - heavy in a modern sense. It's not a fucking deathcore song, but it packs a number of headbob moments that will test your neck muscles. "Bulletproof" is a compelling ballad with a killer chorus. If the world were fair, that shit would be on the radio. The title track could be the best cut, but I can't decide, for there are dizzying contenders. Overall, Condition Human is a landmark release for a band free to retrace their steps back to a style that befits them, while also nudging their sound forward in an organic fashion. In other words, it's awesome!
Posted by Dom Coccaro at 8:46 PM
So that was a whole bunch of Wrestlemania. Let me say this right out of the gate - by and large, WM32 was excellent. It might have been the best 'Mania package in the last decade, although that isn't saying much. The good stuff (and again, there was plenty of it) will forever be smazy in my mind, bolted in a depleting mush. Huh? I'm trying to tell you that the production was too long. My God, it was too long. Even in the days when every PPV ran for three hours, you were running the risk of losing your audience. I can't sit still during a movie. If you count the pre-show, WM32 was close to seven hours of super-produced sports entertainment. E-fucking-gads!
My advice? Invent a way to edit live programming. Or just, y'know, plan a more succinct show. I hate to sketch out another list after utilizing au courant list technology for my review of Shredder Orpheus, but I feel like I can get away with it. Because I can do what I want.
List) Who here picked Zack Ryder to win the IC strap? You're a fucking liar. But I ain't mad. Good for Zack. And good for the WWE brass for taking a chance. I sincerely hope that he keeps the title beyond a single episode of Raw. If he loses it tonight, I will be pissed off in a shaky, irrational way.
List) Jericho and Styles worked their fourth consecutive barn burner, possibly the most superlative one yet. My only problem is...yeah, this was unnecessary. The angle was dead in the water. Now that they are "tied" (again), will they have a fifth match? I thought Wrestlemania was supposed to resolve storylines.
List) The WWE Women's Championship! I dig it. The "pink butterfly" belt can rot in Hell for all I care. The triple threat between Sasha, Becky and Charlotte was off the scales. From a technical standpoint, it might have been the best bout of the night. From a booking standpoint, why the interference? Resolve, remember? Resolution! Closure! Blowoff! With the exception of 'Taker/Shane and the ladder match, it seems that each spot on the card was tainted by something.
List) Ambrose/Lesnar was okay. Meh. The grand majority of the weapons were useless. I mean, a chainsaw? Was he going to eviscerate Paul Heyman? I can't help thinking that Ambrose should have won. He has been losing A LOT lately. The writers tout his "insanity," but it doesn't matter how unhinged the guy is if he lies down for all of his opponents. He has zero credibility right now.
List) Shane O'Mac is a psychopath. He's the real lunatic fringe.
List) The 3-on-4 handicap match...why weren't the tag titles on the line? Fuck if I know, but I popped like a blood condom (sorry for the image) for HBK, Cactus Jack and "Stone Cold" Steve motherfucking Austin. Where were the black trunks? The trunks would have completed the picture, yo!
List) I'm usually the last fan to cry burial. In almost every case, it's a knee-jerk reaction. However, what else can you call the lamentable fate of The Wyatt Family? What a missed opportunity. That's an editorial for another day.
List) The main event. lolz
Posted by Dom Coccaro at 5:12 PM
Boy, do I feel like a quarterwit. Oblige my rhetorical question for a moment; have you ever been duped by a cool VHS box cover and a bitchin' synopsis? Of course you have. We all have. In a way, 1990's Shredder Orpheus transported me back in time. This shit happened constantly when I would rent from Video World or Community Video. The lesson I learned from this flick? Some nostalgia isn't warm. I can't think of a case where the movie in my head was so far away from the movie I actually watched. Not this fucking far. And the plot! Get a load of this load. In a post-apocalyptic wasteland, a dingy menagerie of skateboarders try to help a local "rock star" retrieve his girlfriend from a nefarious television station that proselytizes its viewers.
The station is called Euthanasia Broadcast Network (EBN). It's Hell. No, literally. It's supposed to be Hell. The EBN tower is unmistakably supernatural (doors disappear, replaced by brick walls), but the denizens of The Gray Zone never bat an eye at these monkeyshines. Oh, The Gray Zone. It's...not important right now. At any rate, EBN doesn't air shows per se; it airs an endless freshet of in-studio musical performances. The base of operations is run by Hades, a powdered schlemiel straight out of a new wave act (imagine a more effeminate Gary Numan). NOTE: It's not clear if Hades pulls the strings for this one locus or the entire corporation. Matter of fact, nothing is clear.
Our Mad Max-style conurbation isn't given a name, but Shredder Orpheus was shot in Seattle and influenced by the surrounding art scene. Unfortunately, none of the good music seeped into the production. If I could chat with writer/director/star (yes, star) Robert McGinley, I'd be all, "Bro, Chris Cornell was willing to do a cameo in Singles. I'm sure he would have contributed some of his band's songs to your soundtrack." Then I would stop talking before I felt compelled to wring his spine. Sweet Dionysus, where do I start? I can't sentence. Hey, I know! I can list!
FUCK ~ Shredder Orpheus takes itself too seriously. Pretentious is an understatement. The "skate-rock adventure" has an official website, and it contains an interview with McGinley. The auteur answers the first question as each of the main characters. Naturally, he waxes esoteric on the themes and how they're relevant over 25 years later. Yeah, they're relevant because they're platitudinous and dumbed the fuck down. Sorry, man. Your movie didn't say anything new or profound, not even in 1990. And your metaphors are as subtle as Marsha May gaping for Lexington Steele's guided missile cock. That thing is a booster!
FUCK ~ I empathize with low budgets. I do. But McGinley was overambitious here, and his ideas needed money. The only special effect that works is the beheading. I don't know what Shredder Orpheus was filmed on, but I doubt that it was film. I bet it was film. It probably wasn't film. Film.
FUCK ~ When people die in post-apocalyptic Seattle, they deliver their souls to EBN. Basically, they are brainwashed into erasing every trace of their existence in the form of shredding paperwork. Shredding! Get it? Fuck off.
FUCK ~ At Orpheus's wedding (he's the radical rocker), his greaseball manager gifts him a bizarre instrument that - according to mythology - was invented by Jimi Hendrix. It's stupid. Fuck you.
FUCK ~ Shredder Orpheus is narrated by an exasperating fiftysomething who is paralyzed from the waist down. He comes across as...well, the old dude who hangs with the younger crowd to make himself feel kewl. First of all, my impractical legs are ten times kewler than his impractical legs. Fourthly, he just shouts generic punk bombast that doesn't amount to nadir diddly. You can use that expression if you want. Free of charge. Where was I? The narrator expatiates over several events that he couldn't have possibly known about in detail. Why the hell is he the narrator?
FUCK ~ The acting isn't bad.
FUCK ~ It's based on some Greek bullshit.
Whatever, I'm done. I hated Shred Her Orifice. You will be shocked to learn that I recommend this feature presentation. Yeah, that's right. It would appear that I'm in the extreme minority on this one. Most of the reviews that I've been able to find are glowing. It's regarded as a cult classic, so you might as well give it a whirl. Heh.
Posted by Dom Coccaro at 7:42 AM