Before I begin, I want to give a quick shout-out to Franco (or Spacemonkey, depending on what site you're visiting). He reviewed Alucarda not too long ago and convinced me to check it out. I've always been drawn to sacrilegious art. I'm not a religious person, so blasphemous imagery has never bothered me. Be that as it may, I haven't seen many "nunsploitation" flicks. I wasn't entirely sure what to expect out of Alucarda, although I assumed that I would revel in its tasteless incontinence. I did. However, it doesn't offer much outside of cheap vulgarity and occasionally stylish directing.

The story involves Justine, an innocent youth who arrives at a freaky orphanage. She meets a girl named Alucarda who pulls her into a depraved world of black magic and Satanic orgies. That's it, basically. This is a very simplistic film. I was turned off by the awkward dialogue and the surprising lack of visual effects. There is plenty of fire and blood, but who cares? Alucarda isn't nearly as imaginative as it could have been, given the creepy set pieces. I have a feeling that there are better "nunsploitation" flicks out there somewhere. This one isn't a total loss, but it's a draining experience. And the constant screaming destroyed my fucking nerves. Like, seriously.

PS-Click HERE to visit Franco's blog!



It could be said that Nile has been on autopilot since 2002's In Their Darkened Shrines, but if you've picked apart each of their releases like I have, you'll notice subtle differences here and there. In my opinion, 2005's Annihilation of the Wicked is the definitive Nile album. It has impossibly complex drumming, monstrous riffs, and the tasteful Middle-Eastern flourishes that you can bank on hearing. I wasn't as keen on 2007's Ithyphallic. It was missing something, but these scholarly South Carolinians sound inspired on Those Whom the Gods Detest, an enriched follow-up bent on possessing its listeners.

The album opens with a fulminant depth charge called "Kafir." This track introduces the use of exotic chanting, an ingredient that mixes well with Nile's gerontogeous trappings. I think my grandfather was diagnosed with "gerontogeous trappings" once. Hmm. Actually, that sounds like a Nile songtitle. The second tune is called "Hititte Dung Incantation." Heh. It's a speedy tomb-crusher that could have wound up on Shrines. The slower, groovier tracks are the real crowd-pleasers. I'm speaking mainly of "Utterances of the Crawling Dead" and "Arra of Dagon."

There are no instant classics here like "Cast Down the Heretic," but that's because Gods is a grower. I didn't feel as though I could properly review it until I listened to at least 6-7 times. Be patient with the lead harmonies and the involved arrangements. They will eventually infect your intestines. Compared to its predecessor, this record has more color to it. Again, I can't pinpoint why exactly I was let down by Ithyphallic, but I know that this is the superior dish of colossal death metal.

Those Whom the Gods Detest isn't going to sway any non-believers, but if you've been digging what Nile has been doing in recent years, it's worth checking out. This album is proof that South Carolina has more to offer than peaches and fireworks.


Another Update

I've got good news and bad news. The good news is that my TV is fixed. The bad news is that I'm having health issues. I'll have time to catch up on some movies, but I probably won't post a review until tomorrow (or Sunday at the latest). Does God hate this blog or something???

PS-I'm doing away with the "upcoming review schedule" for the time being.

PS Part II-Plan on entering the Get Well Soon Giveaway if you haven't yet!



The House With Laughing Windows


The House With Laughing Windows is an atmospheric giallo directed by Pupi Avati. The plot concerns a man who is hired to restore an antiquated fresco in a dilapidated church. The painting depicts the brutal death of St. Sebastian. After going through a series of harrowing events, our lead learns that the morbid work of art may have been a living portrait of a murder taking place before the artist's eyes. A cool premise, to be sure. This would be a spectacular horror film if it wasn't so damn quirky and European. It certainly makes for a gripping mystery, but there are hiccups along the way that mar the finished product.

For one, the characters make irrational decisions and tear through mood swings that come out of nowhere. Lino Capolicchio gives a decent performance as the frazzled Stefano, but a lot of his dialogue doesn't fit his perceived personality. In one scene, he snaps and lashes out at his girlfriend. That sounds perfectly normal, but it doesn't gel with his character arc. I did like Francesca Marciano as the damsel in distress. I have a thing for Italian chicks. A big thing. Her expressive eyes do her acting for her, although she doesn't have much to work with in the depth department.

The cinematography glints with a lambent intensity. Avati knows how to capture sunlight. The darker scenes are also filmed well, and that includes the disturbing ending. Unfortunately, the closing frames don't make much sense. It's one hell of a head-scratcher. All in all, The House With Laughing Windows is a mixed bag. I enjoyed watching it, but no one can deny its inherent flaws. We'll always have Italian chicks...


Get Well Soon Giveaway

The second contest here at Random Reviews is a real doozy. Next month, I'll be going under the knife at Duke University Hospital. I'll be out of commission for awhile, so to make things a little less miserable, I'm going to force YOU - yes, YOU - to cheer me up. In return, you may win some incredibly cool, incredibly random horror-related prizes. Here's how to enter...

Send either a Get Well Soon greeting card or a valentine (the surgery takes place on the day after V-Day...talk about bummer!) to...

Dom Coccaro
5683 Claridge Dr.
Hickory, NC 28602

The three winners will be selected through a random drawing. Here's what you could win...

RUNNER-UP: 2 Items

The items could be anything from vintage comics to b-movies to action figures to whatever the hell I want to send you (don't worry, it will be WAY COOL). North American residents only. Contest ends March 1st.

Good luck!



My TV is STILL on the fritz. I'll have a review up in the next couple of days. Tomorrow, I'll be announcing the Get Well Soon Giveaway. You won't have to do too much to enter. 3 people will be winning something cool and random. Prizes could include movies, action figures, comic books and more!

Stay tuned and bear with me while I wait for an uncooperative repairman. Sigh.


The Flying Serpent


Remember Q: The Winged Serpent, the Larry Cohen film about a dragon swooping down and swiping people off of rooftops? It's a cool movie. Most genre die-hards are familiar with it, but very few know that it's a remake of 1946's The Flying Serpent. I didn't know until I found this sucker on Netflix. It's a simple story involving George Zucco as a crazed archeologist who discovers a giant bird. He believes it to be Quetzacoatl, an Aztec god linked to the treasure of Montezuma. Zucco cages the feathered trajectile and sends it off to kill those who get in his way, or at least those who know the whereabouts of the hidden treasure.

This flick is only 59 minutes long, so I can't say that it was boring. "Uneventful" is a better word. It's a very lean picture. No fat, no trimmings...it does what it needs to do and it ends. You'd think that The Flying Serpent would sport an affectation of stop-motion effects, but the viewer isn't so lucky. Instead, we get a junky, jerrybuilt model held up by visible strings. The attack sequences are hilarious. I'm assuming that the filmmakers gently laid the construct on the "victim" before each shot of a character being mauled.

Zucco delivers a stable performance, but that's a given. Clearly, everyone else is forgettable. Overall, The Flying Serpent is a mild-mannered creature feature that comes and goes like a mouthful of cotton candy. It's not unspeakable, but this is one instance where the remake surpasses the original.

Non-Horror Pick of the Week

PS-A new review will be posted later today.



My TV is on the fritz. I'm going to try to have a review up tomorrow. Also, I might move up the contest announcement to compensate for the lack of reviews. Hang in there, dearhearts. Random Reviews will be back soon in full effect!


Unexpected Off Day

Look, it's an unexpected off day!




This movie is fucking stupid. I'm sorry, but this will be my least intellectual review to date. I'm pissed off. Let me break it down for you...Razortooth is like a Syfy Channel original, only worse. Imagine the most generic "killer animal" flick on the planet, add an unattractive cast, and tack on the horrors of digital video. That's Razortooth. I HATE digital video. Now, I realize that the creative team behind this bollix were working with limited funds, but how expensive could it possibly be to shoot on 35mm film? Hell, I'll take 16mm over digital dreck. Fuck, this is a bad movie. It's the opposite of good. It's bad.

You want a detailed analysis? Fuck that! I don't have the patience. All you need to know is that Razortoooth contains annoying characters, clunky CGI, cartoonish gore, and a sacrilegious boobtease (we get a shower scene and a sex scene that skimps on nudity). I'm done with this one. By the way, "Razortooth" is a genetically altered eel. Doesn't that sound exciting? Consider this review cut short. Stupid fucking movie.




I don't usually squirt over pure science fiction, but I have to admit that Moon is an engrossing film. Is it Oscar-worthy? I'm not sure about that, although Sam Rockwell gives a multi-layered performance as Sam Bell, an astronaut who is contracted to man a lunar vessel. Sam has been on the moon for three years. His only companionship comes in the form of a robot named GERTY and the occasional live feed sent from Earth. He works for a company that harvests clean fuel found on the moon and converts it into fusion energy. I don't know why I'm relaying these plot specifics to you because they're inconsequential. At its core, Moon is a character study.

Rockwell's studied turn as a lonely space cadet is strong enough to sustain the film all by itself. He taps into different segments of Sam's personality without making the character seem too fragmented or abrasive. That said, I didn't become attached to him, and I'm assuming that I'm supposed to care about him. I didn't really like him either. That's the point, isn't it? To empathize with the main character? I can't fault Rockwell. Without giving too much away, he handles a "dual role" better than anyone else I've seen. This performance will rank with Jeremy Irons' binary acting in Dead Ringers.

While Moon failed to pull me in emotionally, I was still engaged on other levels. The cinematography is ravishing, the pace is smooth, and the ending is satisfying. I wasn't floored, but this motion picture certainly deserves my stamp of approval. And so it shall be written.


Forbidden Planet

Identifying Forbidden Planet as a b-movie seems inequitable. The basic elements of a b-movie are here; we’re tendered a robot, an astro-vixen, interplanetary travel, and a mad scientist, but this flick is a little more prestigious than your average schlock reel from the ‘50s. For starters, it was actually made with a budget. $1.9 million to be exact, and the munificent funding translated well to celluloid, as Forbidden Planet’s production values are truly incomparable. Secondly, the script is a loose adaptation of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest.” How many other b-movies bear Elizabethan roots? Its influence can be found in the most eminent of geek shrines, both stars Trek and Wars. Why it’s never championed as much as other sci-fi classics are is beyond me, but it has graced my VCR, which is all that really matters.

As appetizing as the poster is, it’s faintly misleading. The robot isn’t the antagonist. The film doesn’t even have a clear antagonist until about the halfway mark, and a sense of conflict doesn’t present itself for some time. I wasn’t sure how to feel about this. On one hand, the exposition feels aimless and the pace lags in spots because the characters aren’t in jeopardy. On the other hand, you’re intrigued by the titular planet and you’re placed in the shoes of the starship crew members as they become conversant with their surroundings. You want to learn more about Dr. Morbius, the Krell, and the invisible brute who stamped out Morbius’ entire team of scientists nearly two decades ago, so the leisurely pace isn’t such an encumbrance. If anything, it heightens the intensity of the eventful third act.

The cast is competent. You won’t recognize him, but assuming the role of the handsome lead is none other than Leslie Nielsen. This was one of his first acting gigs (no frosty mane here), and he comes out of it looking good. He borders on wooden as Commander Adams (more on that later), but he expresses as much as his cramped role allows. Walter Pidgeon plays Dr. Morbius, the mad (although not quite as mad as Dr. West or Dr. Pretorius) scientist. He has a commanding delivery and reminded me of Vincent Price at times. Anne Francis plays Altaira, Morbius’ naive, ingenuous bombshell of a daughter. I must confess, her beauty exerted a pull on my eyes (amongst other things), but she also deftly conveyed Altaira’s chaste innocence/ignorance (“What’s a bathing suit?”).

For 1956, the special effects are jaw-dropping. Animation is intermingled with live action (courtesy of Disney), but it doesn’t look as silly as it sounds. As a matter of fact, I’d say that it’s almost as credible as CGI. The set designs are elaborate, the cinematography is polished, and the entire color spectrum is explored. If only a greater amount of archaic sci-fi/horror romps had studio backing of this enormity. But where Forbidden Planet prevails in crafting an engrossing story and employing well-preserved special effects, it falls short in communicating any real emotion.

For instance, Commander Adams isn’t the least bit dismayed by the deaths of his colleagues. Tears aren’t shed, words of remembrance aren’t uttered...he acts as though he lost his car keys instead of the people that he’s been holed up in a flying saucer with for the past 378 days. Hmm, I don’t know what else to chirp about without spoiling a natty plot twist, but suffice it to say that it’s a good one. Yep, a plot twist. In a b-movie from the ‘50s. See, I told you that this was a cut above the rest!


Under the Blade

No review today, but I have a good reason. I was in a van for six hours. I attended my pre-op screening for a surgery that I'll be having next month. The bones in my right hip are grinding against each other, so they're going to shave some of the bone down and protect the joint with a layering of fat. When the surgery goes down, I'll be sidelined for awhile, but I'll remind everyone when the date approaches. To make light of a heavy episode, I'll be running a contest to tie in with my surgery. Look for that announcement in the coming weeks.

This week, I've got a slew of movie reviews lined up. It's quite a diverse selection of random entertainment. Wait, is that what I think it is? It is! It's a not-so-random VHS cover!

PS-"Under the Blade" is a badass Twisted Sister song.


Happy Birthday To Me

Happy Birthday To Me is a twisty Canadian slasher starring Melissa Sue Anderson. I'm devoting this paragraph to her because she's easily the best thing about this flick. Some of us will recognize her as the fair-haired beauty from Little House On the Prairie. Yes, I used to watch that show. Got a problem with that?

After you catch yourself falling into her cobalt blue eyes, you'll realize that her performance in Birthday is better than it needs to be. She sells her character's dementia, and she gives Jamie Lee Curtis a run for her money in the crying/screaming department.

The film itself, an elaborate potboiler about well-heeled college students who are picked off one by one, is largely uneventful. There are several scenes that could have been trimmed in the editing room. The sportive bits involving soccer and motorcycles are useless, and a couple of the death sequences wander for too long.

I can get behind the ballsy gore, but it's obvious that the MPAA forced their hand, thus removing the bloodiest (i.e. the best) parts. Where on Satan's red earth is the uncut version? Inquiring minds want to know. None of the characters are interesting, aside from our gorgeous heroine. Have I mentioned that Melissa Sue Anderson is kind of awesome?

Happy Birthday To Me becomes more ominous during the climax. The last 30 minutes are taut and engaging. You won't care for the ending if you think about it too much, but I can safely say that I didn't see it coming. Ultimately, this is a passable "body count" quickie with chunks of solid filmmaking scattered throughout its bloated running time. I can see why it has its fair share of admirers, but it didn't shish my kabob.


Want List

This is worth posting again. Here is a small list of rare movies that I'm looking for. If you're willing to sell or trade, let me know!

The Black Sleep
From Hell it Came
Murders in the Zoo
Invasion of the Saucer Men
Ghost Town
Screams of a Winter Night
The Maze


Them Crooked Vultures - THEM CROOKED VULTURES

I wasn't sure what to expect when I popped in
Them Crooked Vultures, the debut album from the latest rock supergroup of the same name. If you're not in the know, this band boasts the talents of Dave Grohl (drums/backing vocals), John Paul Jones (bass), and Josh Homme (guitars/vocals). I love Grohl as a skinsman, I'm a casual fan of Queens of the Stone Age, and of course, Led Zeppelin is...well, they're Led Zeppelin. Still, I approached this disc with trepidation. Would it live up to the hype? A better question is, "How could it live up to the hype?"

In my opinion, it does and it doesn't. These guys are incredible fucking musicians, no doubt about it. They have already managed to find their own identity and their own sound. The songs vibrate with audacity and a tempered priggishness that gives them a backbone, a loud confidence that enables the music to reach the listener. This album rocks. There are no traces of the pop luster that dilutes Grohl's other band. TMC is gritty, experimental, and headstrong. It's almost stubborn. The riffs will twist your top off, and as far as "stoner rock" goes, it doesn't get much more muscular than this.

"No One Loves Me, And Neither Do I," "Mind Eraser, No Chaser," and "New Fang" kickstart the record with driving tempos and exotic guitar work. Homme lets loose in the solo department. This album has more of a jamming atmosphere than the last couple of Queens releases. That's a good thing. "Dead End Friends" and "Bandoliers" are more melodic, which brings up one of my complaints. There are no ballads to speak of. It's all straightforward hard rock, and at times, things get a little too noisy. I need more dynamics, though I'm positive that many will disagree.

The production is messy. I understand that's what the Vultures were going for, but it sounds like the instruments are at each other's throats. Again, it's a dynamics issue. There is too much layering and not enough space for the instruments to stretch their legs. The album feels suffocated. But that's my last objection. Them Crooked Vultures isn't the be-all, end-all of supergroup projects, but it's a damn fine caboodle of sweet grooves and energetic riffs. I imagine that my rating would be a tad higher if I were a pothead. Just saying.



Just a quick blog update. I'm seeing more and more hits every day. In addition, I keep seeing more and more followers. A big THANK YOU is in order for reading my randomnesss. Also, I want to thank my fellow bloggers for helping plug the site and giving me all sorts of tasty compliments.

There's something I've been wanting to address. It's probably not a big deal to anyone, but you've had to settle for a lot of mini-reviews lately. A hefty batch, in fact. That's for two reasons. One is time, obviously. The other is my writing style. I've always been able to say a lot with very few words. Personally, I'm not a fan of long-winded reviews, and I almost never read them myself. I just didn't want anyone to think I was a slacker. I know that some people prefer shorter movie/music reviews, so hopefully, it's not an issue for too many folks. I think I'm the only one who frets over it.

Anyway, thanks again for the support. I'm brainstorming another contest, so watch out for that. Cool stuff could be coming your way!

Random VHS cover alert!




What can I say about Jaws that hasn't already been said by every horror critic under the sun? It's a masterclass in suspense. Steven Spielberg was still developing his craft in 1975, but it's hard to tell just from watching this film. Every shot is methodical. Every audio cue is well-timed. Every attack sequence is unspooled with sober realism and constricted precision. One of the reasons why Jaws is such an effective horror film is because it focuses squarely on characterization.

Roy Scheider is strong as Chief Brody, the guy responsible for keeping the waters safe. He expertly portrays Brody's internal strife. He doesn't know how seriously to take the first shark attack, and he wants his kids to enjoy the coastal festivities, but there are unanswered questions lingering in his head. It was refreshing to see a conflicted lead character, even on the fifth viewing. Of course, Richard Dreyfuss brings a welcomed facetiousness to the film as a giddy oceanographer. He plays Hooper loose, but he pulls it together for the grave scenes of maritime devastation.

I skipped on the synopsis, for you should already know what Jaws is all about. You should have already seen it. Admittedly, it doesn't hit me as hard as it did when I was a hatchling. The jump scares still do the trick (the "floating head" bit gets me every damn time), but overall, I feel desensitized to the sense of wonderment that Spielberg devised with his "killer shark" opus. Don't get me wrong; I still love Jaws. I hope to cover the sequels in the coming month. Robert Z'Dar says, "This flick reminded me too much of my home movies!"



Acid Witch plays fuzzy, doom-encrusted death metal in the style of Autopsy and Impetigo. The catch is that each composition is covered and smothered in horror sound effects. 2008's Witchtanic Hellucinations is the perfect album to play at a Halloween party. I know I've said that about other albums, but this stuff is tailor-made to serve as a backdrop to scary movie marathons and costume contests. The intro says it all. We hear a cackling witch who tells us how eerie and ghoulish the rest of the tracks are, and then, the rumbling distortion of the guitars kicks in, giving way to ten lo-fi graveyard disturbances (plus two instrumentals).

Witchtanic Hellucinations has just as much in common with John Carpenter's synth scores than it does death metal. The synth lines are exceedingly catchy and exceedingly "80's." If you're a film score buff, you'll delight in the electronic melodies that hover over the filthy riffs on display. As for the vocals, we get standard issue gurgling, but I don't know that I would want it any other way. The spluttered growls fit. You can forget about burping along, though, unless you have the disgusting lyric sheet handy.

Acid Witch can be found on the roster for Razorback Recordings. I'm beginning to think that the higher-ups at the label are reading my mind because Acid Witch is the kind of band that I would start. I'm also keen on Fondlecorpse, Lord Gore, and Hooded Menace. Promise me that you'll check these bands out or that you'll at least check out Acid Witch. I'm telling you, Witchtanic Hellucinations was custom-built for anyone following this blog. If you're not sold, sample "Cauldron Cave." I'll even provide the MySpace link...