Oh, I almost forgot...


Haxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages

Haxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages is an interesting documentary from 1922. It broaches the subject of black magic and devil worship, chronicling the history of supposed witchcraft up to modern day (well, modern day as of 1922). It's less of an educational experience and more of a comment on the demagogic nature of superstition. Director Benjamin Christensen examines the behavioral traits of women in the 19th century that were accused of consorting with the devil and compares them with the traits of modern mental patients who are diagnosed with hysteria. The point of Haxan, it seems, was to quell any lingering beliefs in the supernatural. At the very least, the film aims to paint puritanical precepts as primitive. That's a lot of p's. I didn't mean for that to happen.

Haxan is broken up into seven chapters with the first twenty minutes or so consisting of subtitles and still photography. Eventually, this bubbling cauldron becomes a motion picture. The visuals are stirring, creepy even. Haxan was fairly hardcore for 1922. We get to see partial nudity, a severed finger, a dead baby, and a great deal of sacrilegious imagery. The atmosphere is palpable. Christensen himself plays Satan in several scenes. In my opinion, his unsettling appearances are the highlights of Haxan. The make-up is rather impressive, and the colored tints accent his demonic visage. I can definitely understand why people were freaked out by this flick when it was released.

If you're a fan of silent horror cinema, you'll want to pick up Haxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages. The Criterion DVD includes the 1967 version of the film, which features narration by William S. Burroughs. I haven't watched it yet (the '67 version, that is), but personally, I would recommend viewing the original version first. The score is worth checking out. Is there anything I didn't like about this mute chiller? Well, it takes awhile to get going, but once you're past the "slideshow" section of the film, it's smooth sailing.


Parts Unknown #2: Smackdown

Smackdown is the best wrestling show on television. The key word there is "wrestling." Each week, there are usually three matches that run at least ten minutes long. The main reason why I enjoy wrestling is because of the athleticism on display (well, that and the hokey nature of professional wrestling...it's no different from watching a b-movie). I get pissed off whenever I'm shortchanged in the wrestling department (I'm looking at you, Raw). So how does this week's episode stack up?


~ The opening segment featuring Kane, Paul Bearer, Edge, Rey Mysterio, and Alberto Del Rio. Good stuff. As the most recent Kane/Undertaker feud has proven, the show is highly entertaining whenever Glen Jacobs is near a microphone. I can't believe that he's just now in his prime.

~ The Daniel Bryan/Dolph Ziggler match. I'm loving this feud. Again, these two guys worked a stellar bout. The "suplex struggle" was superbly executed and succeeded in drumming up natural momentum for both competitors.

~ Vickie's cat suit. Damn! Tell Jerry Lawler to knock it off with the degrading fat jokes on Raw. The woman is in great shape.

~ The dissolution of The Dashing Ones. Cody and Drew should never have been a tag team to start with. Drew is destined for a great singles career, and while I'm not a fan of Cody's current gimmick (it's been done a million times), I have to admit that he's a solid wrestler.

~ The main event.


~ Another loss for Kaval? Why isn't he getting a push? And why the fucking fuck was he cut from Bragging Rights? I understand that they might be doing this to give him an underdog's appeal, but Jesus. Enough is enough.

~ No Chris Masters? No Dudebusters? Not cool, dude.

~ The Diva match. Obviously, they looked tasty, but this entire division is dreadful.

A solid Smackdown. Nothing more, nothing less.


Parts Unknown #1: Impact

Hey, look! A wrestling column! Each week, I'll be reviewing different wrestling shows. Nothing too in-depth (it is wrestling, after all). I'm just going to list the pros and cons of this week's episode of TNA's Impact. Since this is an introductory edition of Parts Unknown, I should tell you where I stand on TNA as a whole. 3-6 months ago, it rocked. However, ever since the ECW guys formed their own stable and the presence of the immortal ones (Hogan and Bischoff) permeated all of TNA programming, things have gone downhill. There are too many old fucks sopping up screen time and everything is beginning to taste like WCW. I still dig TNA, but at the moment, WWE has the superior product from a creative standpoint.

With that out of the way, let's break down this week's Impact...


~ The opening Knockout brawl was fantastic. This entire division is looking better and better each week. There aren't any Knockouts that I can say I dislike. Yes, Lacey Von Erich is a godawful wrestler, but I like her simple-minded character. The fact that she's insanely hot doesn't hurt either.

~ The 6-bitch tag match between Angelina/Velvet/Mickie and Madison/Tara/Sarita was fun and well-paced.

~ The tag team division. Holy shit. TNA continues to nurture the best tag division in pro-wrestling. If you don't think this is the best tag division in the world, you're fucking wrong. It's as simple as that. The 3-way championship bout between Generation Me, The Motor City Machine Guns, and Ink Inc was phenomenal. Crazy spots, dude. Team 3D coming out after the match was okay, but I sincerely hope that they lose at Turning Point.

~ The street match between Jay Lethal and Robbie E. I enjoyed the use of cheap weapons, although I'm not sure that Robbie E. is ready for a title shot. We've seen so little of him in the ring, that I still can't tell if he's a competent wrestler or not.

~ Velvet Sky's boobs.


~ RVD's "paranoia" angle is just stupid. It's not believable that he would suddenly question the motives of the EV2 gang.

~ A casket? A goddamn casket? Get your own gimmick match.

~ Jeff Jarrett in the main event? And he wins? Against Matt Morgan? Ridiculous booking. I'm fine with Matt turning face, but I could think of ten better ways to do it.

~ 30 minutes before the first match? That's a gargantuan no-no, in my book.

~ Why do I keep making statements in the form of questions? I blame Dixie Carter.

~ Eric, your heel character is generic. "I'm a bad person. I don't care about anyone else. I love heels and I hate faces. Have I mentioned that I'm a bad person?"

~ Reaction is still a pointless show.

That's all I got. Overall, it was just more mediocrity from TNA. This company needs more repair work than Hogan's back.


Non-Horror Film of the Week

I'm back...again!

After a long period of frustrating soul-searching and introspection, I've decided to dig up Random Reviews and give it one more shot. I've probably lost several readers after disappearing off of the face of the earth without any explanation, but I'm okay with that. I'll find new readers. I tend to go through what I refer to as "geek cycles." I'll burn out on movies and get sick of writing every six months or so. I've never actually enjoyed writing, but this past year, my dissatisfaction with the craft reached a fever pitch. I had no passion for this blog whatsoever.

So what can I do to ensure that this won't happen again anytime soon? Well, if I continue to blog, I need to do it differently. I need to be more selfish. I'm really good at being selfish, so this shouldn't be a problem. For one, I'm not going to review every single movie I watch or every single CD I buy. Also, I'm not going to read other blogs and try to comment on all of them on a regular basis. Sorry. It feels like a job, and I'm not a proponent of fishing for comments. Honestly, I don't read much anyway. Most bloggers will post comments in an effort to "network" or market their own blog (either that or it's their way of thanking that person for leaving a comment on their blog). If I ever comment on your blog, it's because I have genuine interest in the article and not because I feel obligated to. It's just exhausting, man.

Okay, I've rambled enough. Long story short, Random Reviews is back! I'll be expanding the scope of this blog to include topics other than movies and music. I'm excited to introduce these new columns. Later!