A Friend's Giveaway

Geof over at Enter the Man Cave is currently running a very cool contest with a Best Buy gift card up for grabs. Geof is a friend of the site and an all-around likeable guy. Check it all out HERE!



At first, I couldn't get into this record. Incantation churns out some of the bleakest, most crushing death metal on the planet, and if you're sampling the band for the first time, their sound can be dense and inaccessible. It's aural sewage. 1994's Mortal Throne of Nazarene is their sludgiest album to date, and to be perfectly honest, it made me feel like a lightweight. The production is impenetrably thick, the riffs spume with low-toned resonance, and the deep growls are proudly demonic. Around the third listen, I finally began to jive on Nazarene's epic scope.

Vocalist Craig Pillard's banausic croaks are completely unintelligible. Normally, this would go on the list of cons, but the monotonous "singing" serves to augment the atmosphere generated by rest of the band. This is good background music. With the exception of maybe three cuts, the songs blend into one another. You have to be paying attention to know when a track ends. Normally, this would also count as a con, but fuck it. Mortal Throne of Nazarene shouldn't be judged as a collection of catchy ditties; it should be judged as an experience.

My favorite movements are "Demonic Incarnate," "Emaciated Holy Figure," "The Ibex Moon," the 52-second "Blissful Bloodshowers," and the 8-minute "Abolishment of Immaculate Serenity." Listen to them.




Dennis Quaid plays an FBI agent who is tracking down a serial killer played by none other than Danny Glover. It's a weird casting decision, but it works. Glover goes against type, and it's fun watching him masquerade as a loutish, unmannerly sociopath. Quaid is solid, but he has a one-note character to work with. He doesn't get a chance to flex his acting muscles. R. Lee Ermey takes a low-key approach to his role as an incumbent sheriff engaged in a seedy election race. Here again, we see someone in an atypical part, as we're all used to having Ermey yell at the camera in "drill sergeant" mode.

Switchback is interesting, but at the core, it's a generic suspense thriller. You've seen it before. So have I, and yet, I enjoyed it. I liked all of the characters, I liked the anchored direction (no quick cuts here), and I liked the unpredictable twists. I didn't like the ending, which ties up a loose end by creating another loose end. That's the other thing; there are plot holes big enough to drive railroad spikes through. I wouldn't want to mention specifics because it's best to go in fresh. Even the cover art reveals too much, in my opinion.

If you fancy 90's-style "serial killer" pics such as Kiss the Girls and The Bone Collector, you may want to give Switchback a shot. Robert Z'Dar says, "This is a confusing remake of Predator 2!"


The Suckling

(VHS cover)

I have yet to encounter another person who has even heard of The Suckling. Should I be proud or ashamed? Maybe a little bit of both. More than likely, I’m the only poor sap who has rented this flick from my local video joint. I first saw it 3-4 years ago. The cover art was just too much. I couldn’t help myself! By the by, the cover art featured here is slightly different from what I have on my copy (a prized possession, I tell you). The creature’s head is tilted upwards and the mouth is gaping wide. We get a good look at his monstrous chompers. But I’ll discuss the creature design more in-depth a little later on.

Anyway, the worn, dusted box has sat on that video shelf for a few years now, and I don’t recall it ever being rented out. So far, I think I’ve been the only one pathetic enough to have actually spent money on it. Bearing that in mind, the store still wouldn’t sell it to me. What, would I really be undermining their profits? Is The Suckling a hot commodity? I’m not the most patient human being on this planet, so I just bought it online. You’d think that I wouldn’t want to own a film of this “stature.” Well, you’d be mistaken! It’s so bizarre, obscure, sleazy, and tasteless, that I just had to possess it!

The plot is one of a kind. A girl is pressured by her boyfriend to have an abortion. He takes her out in the middle of nowhere to a brothel that doubles as an abortion clinic. The fetus is removed against the girl’s will via a coathanger (squeamish yet?), and is flushed down the toilet. We follow the aborted fetus as it trickles down into a sewer. Toxic waste intermingles with the discarded bundle of joy’s dead tissue, and it mutates into a carnivorous monster. It proceeds to pick off the whorehouse’s inhabitants, while blanketing the building in a coagulated mucous membrane. In other words, the house is enveloped in a gigantic womb. I’ll just say this – you haven’t lived until you’ve seen someone’s head lobbed off by a huge umbilical cord!

(DVD cover)

The unique storyline lends itself to sleaze. A brothel; a cheap, dirty abortion clinic; characters such as Big Mama, Bertha, and Candy...I feel thoroughly soiled just typing those words out. The film has a dank, queasy atmosphere. As a matter of fact, watching it felt like eating grass, working myself up for an intense vomiting session. And you do have the urge to clean your stomach out after you’ve sat through this repellent b-movie. The ugly mood appealed to me, though. I could tell that there was some know-how behind the camera. The visuals are caked with grit, and a few inventive camera angles pop up every now and then. As sleazy as this flick is, we aren’t treated to any nudity whatsoever. Ironic, since a third of the cast is nothing but prostitutes. I’m not carping, though. These broads are stretched out, middle-aged alcohol depositories. I’m fucking glad that they kept their clothes on!

The shoestring budget really held this film back. There are a few charming moments of pointless gore, but the blood is thick and orange. Not exactly convincing. Severed limbs materialize in the form of some truly terrible stop-motion effects. Stop-motion “wizardry” is usually fun to giggle at, but this is just pitiful. The acting is equally pitiful. All of the characters are strictly one-dimensional. Big Mama is the closest anyone comes to being fleshed out, but that isn’t saying much...at all. Perhaps The Suckling’s biggest downfall is its horrid cinematography. At first, I thought that it was made in the early ‘70s. Imagine my surprise when I found out that this flick came out in 1990! Jesus, somebody needs to give the film stock a good polish and release it with a proper transfer. The cheap look drags you out of the storyline from time to time.

However, you’re dragged back into the fold once the “fetus fiend” bolts in front of the camera. In spite of the meager budget, this thing looks pretty damn impressive. It’s ever so slightly rubbery, but the creature design is cool enough for you to let the technical indiscretions slide. The opening “mutation” scene, in particular, boasts some nifty, disgusting puppetry that tickled my fancy. Those two adjectives pretty much sum up the entire film. It’s disgusting, yet nifty! The many flaws are undeniable, but I was entertained for 80 minutes. If you have a strong stomach and are hankering for something peculiar to take in on a Saturday night, suck on this!


Island of Lost Souls


I'm probably the only person who likes 1996's The Island of Dr. Moreau. The 70's version...eh, not so much. 1932's Island of Lost Souls falls somewhere in between as an atmospheric, yet affected adaptation of the revered H.G. Wells novel. Most genre goons hail this Paramount picture as the best of the three "animal man" flicks, but to be frank, I found it to be boring. The film itself is only partially to blame, as I'm a persnickety fellow. I never grappled onto the narrative despite an all-star cast featuring Charles Laughton and Bela Lugosi.

I'm not sure why I didn't take to Lost Souls. The effects are there, the inventive shots are there, and as I said, the actors are certainly there. Contrarily, the 70-minute running time feels like 100 minutes. 100 wearisome, protracted minutes. Also, it seems that the script labors to cram a novel into a movie, which is something I can't say about the 1996 adaptation. Of course, I'm in the minority. Again.

For optimum non-Universal Lugosi enjoyment, seek out White Zombie. Incidentally, Island of Lost Souls was distributed on VHS by Universal as part of the Classic Monsters collection. I would advise buying the entire collection. Chances are, you'll get more mileage out of this particular entry than I did. Note: I'm padding the rating to account for my persnickety nature.


Captive Wild Woman

Yet another monster movie that has flown under the radar. Captive Wild Woman is a simple little thing that Universal cooked up in 1943. Somehow, it spawned two sequels, but it's an underachiever. It runs for 61 minutes, half of it is comprised of stock footage, and the heavy isn't terribly heavy. The story concerns a mad scientist (of course) who conducts research in glandular technology. His snapping point arrives when he attempts to inject a sickly woman's blood into the veins of an ape. This curious experiment yields troubling results; the ape turns into a beautiful woman!

The beautiful women is played by a mysterious b-movie actress by the name of Acquanetta. She doesn't need a last name, thank you very much. I have to say, she is quite appetizing in the role. Our tempting jungle captive turns into a hairy, bloodthirsty creature whenever she is consumed with jealousy. The make-up effects are technically proficient, although Acquanetta isn't shown in monster form very often.

If you're wondering about the stock footage, there are bounteous, innumerable scenes of animal training. You see, the main characters are trying to put a circus together. I didn't mind the repetitous reels because they are impressive from a logistic standpoint. This is some serious cat wrangling, and besides, the film is too short to worry about pacing abeyancy. Is "abeyancy" a word? You be the judge.

On the downside, this isn't an exciting bone-chiller. It goes down like creamed corn, and I suppose it would come out the same. Sorry about the imagery. The actors are competent enough, but again, the action isn't involving. Captive Wild Woman ends with a whimper. The closing scenes are a hasty rushjob if I've ever seen one, much like this review. It comes to a complete stop before the plot gets a chance to build momentum.

The sequels aren't worth bothering with, unless you're a completist. I'm a completist, so I'll more than likely cover them at some point during...2010. This isn't a "high priority" franchise, but for what it is, Captive Wild Woman is fit for a slow afternoon. Watch it for the winsome cast, which includes John Carradine and classic scream queen Evelyn Ankers. Oh, and Acquanetta. You can't leave Acquanetta out of the list of key players. Or can you?


Christmas Vacation

Random Reviews is going on Christmas vacation until next week. I hope to be back with more full reviews and more randomness all around. The RR contest ends TOMORROW, so if you haven't submitted anything, get on the medicine ball!

Also, I'd like to wish a MERRY WHATEVER to my readers and to my fellow bloggers. Thanks for the continued support!


Sarcofago - ROTTING


What is it about South America that makes it a breeding ground for ugly, brutal death metal? In the 80's, Sepultura ruled the roost, but there was another band based in Brazil that pushed the limits of bad taste and pummeling riffs. I'm talking about Sarcofago, whose brand of Satanic death/thrash scorched the faces of Christians everywhere...or something like that. 1989's Rotting saw the band transitioning from primitive thrash to elements of technical death metal. It's a nice amalgamation of the two genres. Needless to say, these dudes didn't go on to record a groove-oriented breakthrough album. With a title that rhymes with "boots."

The songs here are moderately simplistic, but four of the six tracks are rather intricate, as they leap over six minutes in length. The arrangements pirouette from burning blastbeats to lumbering tempos that crawl along at a doomy pace. The production is raw and decidedly unpasteurized. That's the way it should be when it comes to prototypical extreme metal. Thematically, Sarcofago covers three areas: sex, booze, and Satan. This disc never tries to be something that it's not, and for that, I salute it.

If you're into Possessed, Infernal Majesty, and early Morbid Angel, buy Rotting without blinking. If you happen to own 1991's The Laws of Scourge and you're willing to sell it, hit me up. Hey, it's worth a shot!


Let the Right One In


I don't know why it's taken me so long to see this Swedish bloodsucker, but now that it has graced my DVD player, I can say that I belong to the elite club of horror hounds who sing its praises. Let the Right One In is a unique, genuinely touching film about a boy who befriends a vampire. If you haven't seen it (shame on you), I won't reveal anything else, for it's best to go in fresh. Everything you've heard about this flick is true. The cast is exceptional, the cinematography is lush, and the exposition is engrossing.

The Nordic snowscapes are a sight to behold. LTROI sports both style and substance in spades. The lead performances by Kare Hedebrant and the adorable Lina Leandersson put weight behind the script. This is a critic's cliche, but I can't imagine anyone else playing Eli and Oskar. Their relationship is more endearing that 98% of the relationships in mainstream romances. I can see why certain scenes sparked controversy, but the entirety of this gelid icebox is presented with class and artistry.

Is there anything I didn't like? Well, some of the special effects are too over-the-top, in my opinion. The CGI cats were funnier than they were frightening. All in all, Let the Right One In is one of the best genre pictures of the 00's. That ending, man...watch out for that ending.


Memoirs of a Paraplegic Grapefruit

Sorry (again). Life is getting in the way of my blog. Now would be a good time to check out the other cool blogs in the Other Cool Blogs section. I promise to be back tomorrow with a semi-coherent review.

I try to post something every day, but if I have to change it to every other day, I'll let you guys know before making such a switch. I hope I don't have to. Random quote alert!

"They need virgins to reproduce."
- Breeders ('85)


Zero Woman: Red Handcuffs


Zero Woman: Red Handcuffs is a "pinky violence" film. These were exploitation films from the 70's that involved hot Japanese women, brutal violence, and plots of revenge. In this lurid tale, a heady cop is locked up for murdering a suspected rapist. When the government needs to quietly "take care" of a group of filthy ruffians who have kidnapped a politician's daughter, they bail out our zilch broad to do their dirty work. Man, this is a nasty flick. We are treated to graphic depictions of rape and castration as soon as the opening credits roll. I'm not cuckoo for ultra-violent sleaze, but I won't take points away for it.

The acting is shockingly stellar. And my goodness, could Miki Sugimoto be any more beautiful? She even looks good when she's bruised and bloodied. This is an actress with endurance. Director Yukia Noda piles on the torture, but she never flinches. Everything is well-coordinated and the production values are slick. The action rarely lets up. The pace races all the way to the destructive finale, a finale full of gore, fire and car chases. Again, I don't particularly enjoy rape sequences, but if this type of flick tickles your pickle, you'll adore Zero Woman: Red Handcuffs.

By the way, the title seductress kills people with a red pistol and a pair of red handcuffs. How cool is that? This is one of the many features that influenced Kill Bill, which makes it all the more cooler. More cooler...I need to work on that.


RRR #4: The Lost World ('25)


I regard King Kong as one of the best - if not the best - films of all time, but it's obvious that it borrowed several elements from 1925's The Lost World. This film is a revelation. The stop-motion animation (courtesy of Willis O'Brien and Marcus Delgado) is astonishing, even today, although I'm sure millions of MTV viewers would disagree with me. It doesn't get any better than this. I find that the best silent films make you forget that you're watching a classic reel bereft of spoken dialogue, and that's precisely what The Lost World does.

The story goes as follows...a scientist is thought to be mad when he claims to have seen prehistoric creatures on a remote island. He charters an expedition to the island in hopes of proving his detractors wrong. It isn't long before the troupe of fortuitous strangers stumble upon dinosaurs. We get to see a Brontosaurus, an Allosaurus (a smaller T-Rex), a Pterodactyl, a family of Triceratops, and other "terrible beasts" in action. I loved every second that the dinos were on screen. The film takes awhile to collect steam, but once shit hits the saber-toothed tiger, hold onto your fun parts!

The acting is quite capable, and while I didn't care about any of the characters, I dug the impassioned Professor Challenger. Everything about him is cool, from his frazzled hair to his penchant for brawling. The love angle didn't sit well with my stomach, but that's a trivial complaint. This is grade-A meat. A must-see for stop-motion devotees.


Power Outage

I live in North Carolina, and right now, we are experiencing a hefty blizzard. Due to intermittent power outages, I can't really accomplish anything today, BUT I can post a random VHS cover!


The Soda Jerk #4

Brisk Sweet Iced Tea

I couldn't find a suitable image for this drink, which means it's another hard-to-find pop. And I know that tea isn't carbonated, but some consider it to be a pop of sorts. That's good enough for me. Before I get into the flavor, I want to talk about the label and the hideously offensive marketing that Lipton chose to push this drink. The website is groomed to appeal to urbanites, and I don't just mean people in big cities. The color scheme is mostly dark, there is a boombox in the corner, and there is an image of a black chick with an afro.

Of course, tacky hip-hop seeps from your speakers as soon as you visit the page. Now, I'm not one to call racism as a knee-jerk reaction to anything that is remotely un-PC, but this is ridiculous. The can is even black! A black can for a "fun, refreshing" beverage. Yeah, that's appropriate. As for the tea itself, it's so-so. It's canned sweet tea, so it's not going to be spectacular. Nothing beats home-brewed tea curdled with enough sugar to make your teeth rot.

Cane sugar, that is. Not high fructose corn syrup, a crack-like substance that pervades every soda in the solar system. Why the fine folks at Lipton would opt to use artificial levulose (I took chemistry...no, I didn't) is anyone's guess. Nestea contains the same stuff, which is why I've never been a Nestea consumer. If I had to compare the two teas, I'd go with Brisk, only because it tastes better with ice. At that point, it becomes literal iced tea, and I can't say no to literal iced tea.

It's important to note that I'm not referring to Brisk Lemon Iced Tea. That's different, although it tastes the same, in my opinion. If you don't mind a racist label and a manufactured flavor, I suppose that Brisk Sweet Iced Tea is...tolerable? I'm not kidding; I'm surprised that a litigious person hasn't sued the shit out of Lipton over this. If you're bored and curious, head over to the OFFICIAL WEBSITE. Maybe I'm sensitive to perceived "isms" because I'm a minority, but I think you'll see what I mean. Robert Z'Dar says, "The shadow beneath my chin is offended!"


Hypocrisy - THE ARRIVAL

Peter Tagtren is everywhere. The Swedish merchant of death has fronted Hypocrisy for close to twenty years on top of singing for other projects (Pain, Bloodbath) and producing a casketload of music. He knows death metal inside and out, but ironically, he isn't a purist. He doesn't see anything wrong with altering the parameters of what is perceived as "death metal," and neither do I (on a sidenote, go listen to Bloodbath's Nightmares Made Flesh).

Hypocrisy has long infused their brand of eardrum butchery with melody. At first, the metal community didn't seem to mind, but eventually, there were cries of specious commercialism. 2004's The Arrival is somewhere in between expansive melody and furious, head-down death metal. Remember how cool the Gothenberg scene was in the mid-90's? The Arrival cadges ingredients from that sound without dabbling in sorcery or In Flames-style folk phrasings.

This is kind of a concept album that mucks around with UFO's and alien abduction. Say what you will about Mr. Tagtgren's beliefs, but they give way to unique lyrics. "Born Dead, Buried Alive" starts things off with a familiar thump, attacking the listener like any Swedish death metal should. "Eraser" is a tuneful, mid-tempo song that brings Insomnium to mind. It's catchy, so I won't begrudge the band for heading down the middle of the road as far as tempo is concerned.

"Slave to the Parasites" is another accessible ditty, relatively speaking. "Abyss" features deep, liturgical clean vocals that accent the riffs beautifully. There aren't many fast songs, but again, I can't say that I care. Every track is hummable, especially the harmony-laden "Departure." Faint keyboards here and there fill the album out nicely. The Arrival is in line with the just-released A Taste of Extreme Divinity, but if you ask me, this is the better Hypocrisy opus. They are both catchy and melodic, but The Arrival is instantly gratifying.

I wonder what Charlie Sheen thinks.