1/31/23

Blood Capsule #139

KILLER TONGUE (1996)

Years ago, I read an interview with Melinda Clarke where she tried to distance herself from her horror roots.  I can't cite specifics (I don't have the interview in front of me), but it's common knowledge that she made an effort to work outside of the genre after breaking through with Return of the Living Dead 3.  Unless I'm mistaking her for some other quixotic starlet (and I'm not), she came across as...I don't want to say "uppity."  Yes, I do.  She came across as uppity (to give you perspective, this was during her incumbency on The O.C.).

Melinda, dear.  I just watched Killer Tongue.  How can you lay claim to such an overweening, supercilious cloak of conceit when you have tainted the good word of cheese with this cinematic vasectomy?  Folks, I'm only using big words because I made a New Year's resolution not to toss "c*nt" around so freely.  Too harsh?  When it comes to b-movies, I hold grudges.  I'll be a little nicer to the friend who recommended this film to me, although I should at least challenge him to a gimmick match at Wrestlemania.  If it isn't obvious, I wasn't fond of Killer Tongue.  What it gains in momentum with inventive special effects and witty dialogue, it loses with bleary lapses in logic and questionable decisions made behind the camera.

As it says in Mark 8:36, for what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?  Did I just quote scripture in a review of Killer Tongue?  Get on my level!

1/30/23

Album Cover of the Whatever


If I were a graphic designer (neglecting the fact that I went to community college for graphic design), this is the kind of shit I would cobble up.  Look at it!  It's beautiful!  What is it?  It's the cover of Atomic Witch's debut full-length.  Musically, these guys sound like a mish-mash of Toxik and Warbringer.  I reference those bands in particular for a reason.  Crypt of Sleepless Malice is a spastic amalgamation of "old school" intensity and "new school" precision.  It kicked my ass!

1/29/23

Shocking Dark


I was baptized today.  Yeah, I'll start there.  I mean, why not?  I'm always looking for more ways to make this site random.  Of course, that's not the reason for my immersive lustration (or was it?), but it serves as square one.  The question is, how do I go from baptism to Bruno Mattei?  I could draw parallels from one rite of passage to another.  No horror fan starts with Italian ripoff cinema.  You dally with mainstream icons until you're seasoned enough to dig deeper into the b-movie mantle.  You dig and you dig until eventually, your trusty spade thumps a pine box with the words "Also Known As" chiseled into its lid.

You furrow your brow, but the ritual has just begun.  So what now?  Well, you watch genre films with four or five titles directed by people with four or five pseudonyms.  The eucharistic formality of it all can be disorienting.  And really, this process is most comparable to circumcision, but let's not mix up our rites of passage.  1989's Shocking Dark is also known (overseas anyway) as Terminator 2.  It was helmed by Mattei, credited here as Vincent Dawn.  Unfortunately, viewers are not given the option to spectate as someone else.  Wouldn't that be neat?  "Honey, I didn't rent porn last night; Alan Smithee did!"

Almost in defiance of its alternate title, Dark is a rattletrap photocopy of Aliens.  I mean, why not?  When it comes to xerox xenomorphs, I usually reach for Xtro 2: The Second Encounter, but I don't like to brag about my upper-crust lifestyle.  Hey, I'm common.  I'm street.  I don't mind slumming it with blue-collar muck and ingesting Eurotrash.  I'm being flippant, but actually, the first thirty minutes of this flick are supercharged.  For a little while, I thought I had landed the ultimate exhibition of unintentional humor.  This thing was tailor-made for MST3K (or Best of the Worst, or better yet, any nerd-centric parody series).

Energy is high, one-liners are copious, and we get a reasonable glimpse of the rad creature design.  But again, I'll caution you; these accolades only apply to the first act.  I wanted to spend more time with the outrageous characters.  How entertaining is the tandem of Koster and Caine?  I thought I recognized the former, a military grunt modeled after Jenette Goldstein in Aliens, so I looked it up to corroborate my suspicions.  And I was right!  That's Geretta Geretta (IMDb also lists her as Geretta Giancarlo Field), the mouthy prostitute in Demons.  Man, she rules.  You can see why I was disappointed when she kicked the bucket halfway through Dark.

The film itself seems to know that it lost its hero, as the pace backfires and curls into a fetal position.  You didn't know that a pace could do that, did you?  I knew.  Why, I knew from the second Koster became a cadaver that Shocking Dark was doomed to tail off.  Would I recommend it?  I mean, why not?  It doesn't live up to Severin's Blu-ray artwork, but I've seen worse.  Much, much worse.  Robert Z'Dar says, "Meh."

  

1/27/23

Something About Huckleberry


Every so often, I'll be confronted by a movie that defies explanation.  I'd like to think this happens to every film critic, but not every film critic will blunder upon an anomaly with the buggy heft of 1960's The Ship of Monsters.  This thing is review-proof.  The Mexican import is a corporeal freakshow, and I mean that in the most loving way possible.  At first, this aberration seemed poised to depose Spookies as my default go-to for "creature suit" shenanigans.  Can you imagine?  I was ready.  By that, I mean that I slipped on a condom before hitting play.  Y'know, just in case.  You can never be too safe!

In the end, Ship wasn't the bespangled crown I hoped to hoist aloft in the royal quadrangle that is my bedroom.  Christ, the perverse coronation you must be envisioning; I'm painting the wrong picture.  Forget metaphors.  This wasn't the b-movie to end all b-movies.  Still, it's worth watching.  The plot pits a singing cowboy (yep, this puppy is part-musical) against a camarilla of monsters, each one a virile male from a different planet.  I mention their potency because they were kidnapped by Venusian vixens to propagate an entire race of beings.  Needless to say, the special effects are a riot.

Ship milks all it can from its cracked premise, but there isn't much else to milk.  Why does everything I type sound so filthy???  I'll mold your silence into a segway to talk about another flick I caught yesterday.  If you haven't seen Pennywise: The Story of It, rectify your fanatical failings pronto.  It's an engrossing documentary that recently premiered on Screambox, a streaming subscription-based service akin to Shudder.  Off-topic, but enough nerd-catering streaming services already.  I'm going broke over here!

I'm done mewling.  Pennywise features interviews with every living talent associated with the 1990 miniseries.  There is also invaluable footage of the stars who left us too soon.  It's neat being able to see John Ritter's real-time reaction to the puppetry used in the finale.  The doc acknowledges the elephants in the room (i.e. the novel's orgy scene), which is gratifying to hear as a fan of both the book and the film(s).  Of course, Tim Curry's inclusion is an added bonus.  Seriously, you need to watch Pennywise: The Story of It.  And if that's your main course, The Ship of Monsters can be your huckleberry (feel free to substitute your dessert of choice).


1/24/23

Rassle Inn #37


In the years leading up to his retirement, you would hear fans bemoan The Undertaker's seemingly frail condition.  "He should have retired years ago."  "The Wrestlemania undefeated streak is gone, so why bother?"  "When will Michelle McCool give us one last match?"  Okay, so I fabricated that last comment, but it's a cold matter of fact that the WWE Universe was ready for The Phenom to recede back into the darkness.  Now that we've made our acquaintance with his ostensible successor, I'm wondering on a dubious Tuesday if the fans - and to keep it fair, I'll include myself - aren't experiencing some cosmic form of buyer's remorse.

From the very beginning, I've said (to my television) that the best way to book Bray Wyatt was to mirror The Undertaker's rookie year on the roster.  The creative team had to know that he was the millennial's answer to The Deadman, so why not implement a proven formula?  Within a year, 'Taker was a champion.  Wyatt had not secured gold until 2017, long after he was ushered in as a fresh gimmick innovation.  In my ever-so-humble opinion, he should have won the WWE Championship almost immediately.  Imagine how over he would have been, not that he needed much help currying favor with live audiences.

As wrestling historians are well-aware, 'Taker dropped the belt to Hulk Hogan after an abbreviated run in the main event.  His pullulating popularity forced Vince McMahon to turn him babyface, and although he wouldn't become champion again until 1997, he managed to stay at the top of the card by feuding with foul beasts.  Here again, why couldn't The Eater of Worlds emulate his antecedent?  For the most part, The Fiend was a heel.  Crowds were told to boo characters that they instinctively enjoyed seeing on television.  What kind of sense does that make?

I will admit that I'm projecting my biases onto this editorial.  As he's currently depicted on Smackdown, I don't get Bray Wyatt.  He's fine in the ring, but he loses me with his oblique, meandering promos.  Guess what The Undertaker didn't need for close to a decade?  A microphone!  I will also admit that I'm in the minority.  People dig this guy.  I'm just not sure that he's ready to carry a torch lit with the same kerosene that doused Kane.  How's that for a nerdy sentence?

1/22/23

Blood Capsule #138

SSSSSSS (1973)

"Don't say it; hiss it," the trailer admonishes.  This flick has a certain swagger to it, an inherent showmanship that would have made William Castle blush.  It winks at the viewer without showing its hand and fully embracing the cornball folly of its premise.  That's a good thing.  I know I didn't need to be reminded that I was watching a b-movie.  It would have been easy for the contrivances beneath the storyline to fall apart, but Strother Martin plays it cool as Dr. Stoner (sic), an unhinged herpetologist bent on turning his assistant into a cold-blooded monster (or "snake man," as a carnival barker puts it).  The cast takes the script seriously, which makes it easier to swallow all of the loopy trimmings.

I guess Sssssss isn't that ridiculous.  I've alluded to the pragmatic tone, but the film is more somber than one might expect.  Maybe that's just 1973 leaving its dent in the proceedings.  Visually, we're in "made for TV" territory.  Not surprising, considering director Bernard L. Kowalski forged a career on the small screen.  The special effects are noteworthy.  Makeup artist John Chambers would go on to devise greasepaint tricks for Phantom of the Paradise and Planet of the Apes.  I have no qualms about giving Sssssss a seal of approval.  It's commensurate with the previous year's Stanley, though I wouldn't say it's on a level playing field with 1983's Spasms.  There isn't nearly enough Oliver Reed to go around.

1/19/23

Moonflares & Telluric Ashes


Pictured above is Azgorh, a gentleman known in the metal underground for his black metal projects, namely Drowning the Light.  One-man bands have become somewhat fashionable, but this one piqued my interest for a couple of reasons.  For starters, all of the DTL material adopts a nautical theme.  I've always fancied myself as a pedestrian oceanographer.  The fact that I'm about as knowledgeable on the subject as George Costanza is irrelevant.  I could totally be a marine biologist (shut up), so Azghor's littoral riffs appeal to me.  Secondly, he has got to be one of the most prolific artists recording today.  Since debuting in 2004 with Drowned, he has parceled out seventeen full-length albums and a rich abundance of demos/EP's.

I will concede that I only recently got into Drowning the Light.  For what it's worth, I'm currently obsessed with Haunter of the Deep, which was released earlier this month.  Azghor offers a refreshing take on black metal.  Where prior collections fall into the "raw" category, Deep spouts a polished production job.  Many of his peers lean on the subgenre's stale kernels (i.e. tremolos, blastbeats...you know the rest) to the point that they become rhetorical devices.  This splendid record avoids those pratfalls.  And yet it's unmistakably black metal to the core.

While I'm on the topic of busy one-man projects, I would urge you to check out Esoctrilihum.  Constituted by French multi-instrumentalist Asthaghul, this little venture has accrued nine long players in six years (!).  Dude's building up quite the fanbase, though my tastebuds estimate Esoctrilihum to be a hit/miss proposition.  For example, I dig the expansive accessibility of 2020's Eternity of Shoag.  His latest efforts such as 2022's Saopth's and this year's Funeral rub my ears the wrong way.  I'm still going to keep him on my radar, since he's likely to put out something rad, like, this weekend.  Seriously, how do these guys manage to be so productive???

I'm including the cover of Drowning the Light's On Astral Wings of Wamphyric Shadows because...well, because it's awesome.


1/17/23

Phantom of the Mall: Eric's Revenge


I've been eyeballing Arrow's Blu-ray release of Phantom of the Mall: Eric's Revenge for what seems like an eternity.  I could have bought it at Barnes & Noble, but I refuse to pay upwards of $40 for z-grade entertainment.  Granted, some cult classics are priceless (I'm looking at you, Spookies), but $40?  For a pitiable slasher that was shot in the same shopping mall as Chopping Mall?  Hmm, you may be onto something.  Okay, so this flick is low-key incredible, but I stand by my parsimony.  If I'm a miser, so be it.  I eventually found Eric's Revenge for a more reasonable price.  Who's laughing now?  The fine folks at Arrow, most likely.

This is one of the last VHS staples that I had yet to mark off my docket.  I've always been aware of the title, but I was never curious enough to give it a whirl.  The plot is rudimentary.  You see, evil land developers (!) want to utilize a strip of property to construct a new shopping mall.  Regrettably, Eric's house is in the way, so because it's 1989, the comfy domicile is fucking burned down.  Was Eric killed in the fire?  Will the police catch the mystery arsonist?  Is that Pauly Shore???  Yes, the future MTV video jockey appears in a supporting role as an ice cream vendor.  He's...actually not bad.

The cast is chock-full of familiar faces and character actors that you've definitely seen before, even if you don't know where.  A personal favorite is Gregory Scott Cummins who plays a sweaty heavy on mall security.  Horror freaks will recognize him as Tommy from 1988's Hack-O-Lantern, and I also know him as Mac's dad on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia.  I like to think they are canon.  How's that for a cinematic universe?  The pace is breezy.  Between bloody death sequences and Coscarelli-esque stunt explosions, you won't get a chance to become bored.

Not that I'm counting, but director Richard Friedman throws in no less than six boobs.  Kudos.  It's clear that this motion picture didn't give me much to pick apart.  I will say that the overarching storyline was a little hard to swallow.  Did authorities simply brush aside circumstantial evidence?  How do these people not know that Eric is alive?  And Melody...this c*nt!  Sorry, but she's a c*nt.  I don't know if I should apologize for using that word or for censoring myself.  I can't win either way.  I blame Melody for ditching her deformed ex-lover as soon as humanly possible.

In summation, Phantom of the Mall: Eric's Revenge is on par with that same year's Phantom of the Opera redux with Robert Englund as the titular bogey.  I suggest renting both.  I realize that recommendation came out of nowhere, but it's relevant.  Of course, if you haven't seen the silent 1925 original, then you have no business being in my establishment to begin with.  The nerve!