3/26/17

Horror and Metal and Holy Shit


That's me with Philip H. Anselmo.  You may know him as the former vocalist of Pantera.  He's also the current vocalist of Down, Superjoint and Scour.  He has been in a million other bands, but I don't feel like listing them.  Most importantly, Phil is one of my idols, and I realize that opens me to a world of judgment from bored, blasé metalheads.  I don't care.  In my eyes, he is one cool motherfucker. There is an unspoken bond between folks who deal (or have dealt with) chronic pain and back surgeries.  Speaking of which, Phil and I have both had intrusive back surgeries.  Recovery isn't fun, and if you've been where I've been, you understand.

So where did I meet Phil(ip)?  On Friday evening, I attended the Mad Monster Party convention in Rock Hill, South Carolina.  Devout readers will remember past write-ups.  I have gone to almost every event each year since its inception.  Usually, I focus on the well-stocked dealer room, unless there is a guest/celebrity that I MUST meet.  2017 was no different, albeit in a different city (MMP normally invades Charlotte, NC).  They had a small, yet operational carnival rocking outdoors, ferris wheel included.  Brilliant idea!  Carnivals and the horror genre interlink in explosive - dare I say, orgasmic - ways. It can be hard to explain, but when I'm at a good carnival, I imagine that I'm in a slasher.  The food and the atmosphere are top-notch.

I'll post pictures in a minute.  First, I wanted to go over my haul.  I picked up two t-shirts (a garish, lemon yellow Killer Klowns From Outer Space design and a cool Trick or Treat print on black...if only Sammi Curr was at the convention!), a DVD (gotta support VHSPS) and three actual VHS tapes (to be reviewed).  I found a boss Texas Chainsaw Massacre lunchbox and I was lucky enough to get a Godzilla autograph.  To be specific, Tsutomo Kitagawa signed a photo for me.  He played Big G in the Millennium series.  There were other shenanigans, but let's get on with it, shall we?

Caught in mid-badass.

Tsutomu!  One of his assistants gave me a bottle of Japanese hot sauce.  My stomach is going to hate me.

My ride.

Kane Hodder was doing photo-ops in his New Blood gear.  This wasn't him, but the costume looked great.

Mad Monster's "mascot," if you will.

3/23/17

TREES OF ETERNITY - Hour of...


Sometime last year, I discovered this gem of an album.  Where?  I don't recall, but it's not important to the story.  Stop interrupting. Trees of Eternity seemed to be presented as a new band (because they were) and Hour of the Nightingale was their full-length debut. I listened to it, dug it and read more about these melodic doomsters. I found that their astral, lulling female vocalist passed away before this collection of songs could be released.  Goddamn cancer.  It was recorded in 2014, so we have no way of knowing if the material was compiled with the knowledge of Aleah Stanbridge's infirmity. Unquestionably, the lyrics feel oracular, but again, that is mere conjecture.

Death's The Sound of Perseverance was written and recorded before Chuck knew anything about a brain tumor, which I was shocked to learn.  The point is, there is no point.  To life (or death). Things can look a certain way after a person decamps from this mortal coil, but truth be told, the reaper is not poetic.  Rhyme and reason do not factor into the selection process.  No cadence, no harmony, no doggerel.  Of course, that's my personal belief.  Yours may differ, but there is one empyrean fact(oid) - I need to get to the music already.  While this is hermetic doom, it wouldn't scare off your mother.  There are no growls or Satanic samples.  It's actually quite relaxing, if I may say so myself.  I have fallen asleep to it, and yes, I have fucked your mother.

I want to be careful not to scare off the tr00-est of metalheads (or your stepmother...okay, that's enough).  At the end of the day, it's still heavy.  Guitarist and main songwriter Juha Raivio plays with Swallow the Sun, a doom band that dabbles in both beauty and brutality. Plus, he's Swedish.  There you go.  The production is warm and the music blankets your ears.  Aleah's angelic voice has been superposed over a bed of sullen frequency.  She never wails, yet she always skims the top of the riffs.  It's not an operatic style, so you don't have to worry about Trees of Eternity adding to the interminable list of Epica-lite acts.  Or Nightwish-lite.  Substitute your own band.

As for points of comparison, I'd lean closer to Swallow the Sun (natch) and My Dying Bride.  Nightingale doesn't concern itself with anthems or tawdry instrument posturing.  Lush opener "My Requiem" sets the pace, and the album stays at that crawling, leaden tempo throughout, "The Passage" being the sole track that dares to double its signature.  Even then, it's only for the chorus.  Somehow, each composition remains distinct, despite the aggregate of Hour of the Nightingale amounting to "snail jams."  At no time does it become boring, unless you're new to doom.  If you're new to doom, stick it out.  Lose yourself in Sabbath.

3/21/17

Geek Out #129



Give the assist to Dinosaur Dracula for mentioning this beautiful video on his Purple Stuff podcast.  What is the video in question, you may ask?  It's a retail spot that appeared on screener copies of A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors.  The idea was to convince store owners to stock their shelves with a lot of Freddy Krueger, though one would presume they would have anyway.

This wasn't your usual screener bullshit.  Media Home Entertainment spent time and money on this thing.  Robert Englund actually stars as Freddy and camps it up like a glib drag queen.  Eh, not my finest simile, but it will do.  It's definitely worth watching.  A few times.

3/19/17

Blood Capsule #70

31 (2016)

"Thumbs down." - Dom Coccaro, The Random Revue.  It wouldn't surprise me if this was Rob Zombie's last film for a long while. Remember when he wanted to make a hockey movie?  Well, he couldn't.  I don't know the whole story, but its production was riddled with disputes.  He knew what investors wanted; they simply wanted a safe, county fair fright flick.  And so he developed 31, which meets the standard "Rob Zombie movie" criteria.  It's clear that he's done with the horror genre.  This is a scrawny, wizened hash of House of 1,000 Corpses and The Devil's Rejects.  In fact, it's nearly indistinguishable from those cult classics, only it doesn't have heart. Aww...

The dialogue is dreadful.  Robert Bartleh Cummings (that's Mistah Z) can only write one kind of movie.  The confounding fuck of it all is that 31 is that kind of movie, but for Robert's style to razzle-dazzle the viewer, the characters need to be likable or memorable.  None of the people here fit that description.  The "heroes" are boring and the villains - Rob's supposed grubstaker - lack personality.  Can you imagine?  This son of a bitch created Otis Firefly and Captain Spaulding.  Okay, Doom Head is somewhat interesting, but that has more to do with Richard Brake's petrifying performance.  The gore is no more eye-popping than the gore in Rejects or 2007's Halloween. My advice to Cummings?  REFORM WHITE ZOMBIE!

3/17/17

Ersatz Inasmuch Heretofore


Tell me you wouldn't bang the cheesecake out of Teenaged Pebbles. I don't know why I decided to open with that concept, but I don't know anything.  Anything!  I don't know if I should review a movie or an album next.  You tell me.  I'd squirt my load onto the bone in her hair.

3/15/17

Album Cover of the Whatever


I mean, yeah.  This doesn't even need explaining.  Incidentally, Helion Prime's vocalist, one Kayla Dixon, took over the mic stand for Witch Mountain when leather-throated Uta Plotkin decided to depart.

3/14/17

Dang/Damn


It's currently fucking late.  I don't even feel like writing.  Dang/damn it, I knew I should have knocked out a review right after I finished "The Upside Down," the season finale of Netflix's Stranger Things.  I finally watched it!  This series debuted in July of 2016, and in the subsequent months, you probably haven't heard any negative puffery about it.  Well, I am here to tell you that...it's just as captivating as you've heard.  I am a wee bit surprised that I was as impacted by the show (I feel like I'm insulting it by calling it a "show") as I was.  Typically, I don't go for nostalgia pieces, at least not anymore.

What can I say, man?  The acting is peerless, the characters are three-dimensional and the fertile narrative is quite resourceful.  You buy into the friendship shared between four boys.  You root for them, but you also root for nearly everyone else.  The entire cast is written really well.  I could write a paragraph dedicated to each actor, but I lack both the time and the self-government.  If you still haven't seen Stranger Things, Jesus Christ, what are you waiting for?  It's a nerdgasm.  I could have done without the CGI creature effects (I mean, if any project called for a guy in a suit, it was this one), but that's literally the only fault I can find.  It's currently fucking later.

3/12/17

Kong: Skull Island


That's the Japanese poster for Kong: Skull Island.  It was designed as an homage, but it accurately...no, perfectly represents the film. 2014's Godzilla was denigrated for its dinkiness in the action department.  Perhaps "dinkiness" isn't the right word (ever).  Brutal set pieces were teased one too many times, and it wasn't until the destructive third act that we saw monsters battle.  Personally, I think the criticism is a smidgen unfair.  Then again, I'm a Godzilla guy. That doesn't stop me from getting the most out of Kong outings.  It is my correct opinion that 1933's King Kong should be in the running for Best Movie Ever, regardless of genre.  Wait, I brought up 2014's Godzilla to make a point.  Didn't I?  Yeah, I did.

Those who imputed Big G's day in the red sun for its admittedly questionable approach to action sequences will not - I repeat - will NOT take exception to the havoc and hostilities of Kong.  From the very first frame, this infant doesn't take a breath (wow, that sounded morbid).  I wondered if showing Kong immediately would vitiate the film's sense of awe, but it didn't.  For one thing, Kong isn't the only giant creature on the cell block.  If you want to go in completely fresh, stop reading here.  And if you're on the fence, go see Kong: Skull Island on the silver damn screen.  Don't wait for videocassette because you know as well as I do that you'll drive to Video Kingdom and they won't have any copies in stock.  Someday, they'll find a way around that.

So!  We get a colossal spider, a Brobdingnagian bison, an octomammoth, a mountainous walking stick (surprisingly adorable) and reptiles with shitty attitudes.  No, Godzilla is not among the reptiles.  Suffice to spritz, there is a healthy number of opponents for Kong to tussle with.  I dug the way that director Jordan Vogt-Roberts captured the insanity.  You can see everything you would want to see, except for Brie Larson's bare skin.  The rumors you heard are true; there are human actors in this flick.  In general, I liked all of them.  Sure, there are tiny scrapes here and there.  Tom Hiddleston's character is introduced as an uber-badass, but for the bulk of the running time, he's an average protagonist.  Larson is introduced as a loose slut (no, she isn't), but she doesn't have sex with any of the natives.  I have fallen for her.  Also, I have reason to believe that I'm a moron.

John Goodman rules, Samuel L. Jackson rules and John C. Reilly rules.  The latter, in particular, brought vital, well-placed levity to the table ("I'm gonna stab you tonight.").  Without him, Kong would be disproportionately solemn.  There is a part of me that wishes he was playing Dr. Brule.  Can you fucking imagine?  Reilly serves as the second brightest spot on the human roster, behind Larson.  Chiefly, the CGI is outstanding.  I mean, the whole lot of effects is remarkable, although there are a couple (maybe less) shots that look cybernated.  But that's understandable.  Kong: Skull Island's massive budget was in front of my eyes.  I don't know if it will make its budget back before it hits DV...videocassette, but I sincerely hope it does.  It's a blast, gang.

3/9/17

Oreo Big Crunch "Contest"


I need this fucking shit.  Haven't seen it in stores yet, but I know it exists!  Help a brutha out.  Mail a couple of Oreo bars to me, and I'll review whatever you want.  Seriously.  If interested, send me a note (a.k.a. "e-mail"), and I'll hand over my mailing address.  The only review request guidelines...

- Can be a film, album, book or comic book.
- Must be something that I would normally review, genre-wise.
- Please include nudes.  That is a JOKE!

Again, a joke!  The third hyphen is a joke.  I ain't tryna get into trouble.

3/8/17

Album Cover of the Whatever


Remember Vehemence?  Remember this cover?  This is 2004's Helping the World to See, and at the time, it was a buzz-worthy album, partly because of the artwork.  Admit it; that's a stunning piece.  I'm sure there are themes/metaphors and shit, but mostly, it just looks cool.  I never paid Vehemence much attention.  Musically, they dabbled in generic melodic death metal.  They actually broke up right after Helping and didn't release anything else until 2015's Forward Without Motion.  The end.

3/6/17

Scalps


I'd been curious about 1983's Scalps for years.  Literally years! Some day, scientists will find the chromosome within our genetic code that causes us to unconsciously postpone a film's viewing for no real reason.  It's a bitch, isn't it?  I cracked my genetic code to finally sit down with Scalps, a Fred Olen Ray joint.  Fred is seriously good at devising b-movies with no money.  To date, he has produced and/or directed 245 shares of skeeze.  That's an inflated number, as many of those credits overlap, but still...that's a lot of flicks!  This one follows a group of student archaeologists as they roam to the deserts of California.  They are specifically told by the university (and by the moonstruck locals) NOT to dig up Native American relics.

They dig up Native American relics.  As you can guess, this galls Indian spirits, and it isn't long before someone with a tomahawk does a spot-on impression of Old Chief Wood'nhead.  Actually, it's an undead warrior named Black Claw.  Dude looks gnarly.  He should have been the main villain, but due to editing blunders, a main villain isn't clearly defined until the hour mark.  Scalps is sternly impaired by scissors, changes imposed by the distributor (according to IMDb). Fred wasn't happy with the bizarre cuts, and I don't blame him. They're dumb.  I would normally employ literate language, but the cuts are just fucking dumb.  "Hey, here is what happens later in the movie!"  My God, the prologue is an excerpt from the ending.

My other gripe has to do with pacing.  For 60 minutes, I was begging Scalps to make a move.  Aside from said prologue (a fun scene that is unbelievably frustrating in retrospect), none of the characters are deprived of their blood until the third act.  I realize that I'm only talking about gore, but that's the selling point here.  The cast is whatever, their problems are whatever, the nudity is...well, chalk it up as a missed opportunity.  We do see bare boobs (or bald commuters, as I never call them), but it's during a simulation of rape.  I probably didn't have to say "simulation."  I mean, it's implied, right?  No, the cameras caught Forrest J. Ackerman raping the script supervisor. Oh, Forry cameos as a professor.  He doesn't rape anyone.

Believe it or not, I didn't hate Scalps.  I've caterwauled a considerable amount, but once the liver hits the palm leaf, this is a respectable slasher.  The final 30 minutes act like they know what they're doing.  Not to belabor the point, but the climax would be more effective if we didn't see chunks of it dispersed throughout the rest of the picture.  I dug the gore.  There is a sweet decapitation and a slit throat that deserves a handful of standing ovations.  Again, Black Claw is a cool fucker.  At the end of the exploitative day, Scalps isn't quite what it could be, but it's fine as a time-passer.  I always say this, but when it comes to Native American horror, your best bet is Johnny Firecloud.  And it's not even a true horror film.  Robert Z'Dar says, "My scalp itches."

3/4/17

Insomnia Theatre #6



Yes, I'm back.  I've been in an undercroft of depression for the past month, but as the weather evolves, so my mind clears.  As above, so below.  As, so.  I'm already back to using convoluted grammar.  Man, it's like I never left!  "Get to the point, fuckhead."  I bring you a new episode of Insomnia Theatre.  The film?  1940's The Devil Bat, a lesser Lugosi lump.  I like it just fine, but I don't think Tyler agrees. SLIGHT DISCLAIMER: There are minor audio issues in the beginning (I drop out a few times).  Deal with it.