Who Slew Auntie Roo?

Who Slew Auntie Roo? is about an aging woman - a former magician's assistant - who lives in a lustrous mansion all by her lonesome. Her daughter died years ago, her servants are angling to blackmail her and the only people who seem to care about her at all would never grace her doorstep were it not for her oppressive solitude. Every year, she invites orphans from a nearby orphanage to spend Christmas in her burnished safehold. Isn't that nice? I suppose it would be alright if she didn't kidnap a little girl that reminded her of her dead daughter. Speaking of the dead daughter, Auntie Roo keeps her decomposing cadaver in a crib upstairs. Hey, who am I to judge how she works through her grieving pains?

Shelley Winters plays the slain Roo. She portrays her character with both subtlety and a tincture of camp. I'm not sure how she managed to pull that off. Mark Lester and Chloe Franks give focused performances as the children in peril. I love how the script explores their complex, yet touching relationship as brother and sister. The story is a parable than runs parallel with "Hansel and Gretel." While the concept of weaving fairy tales into horror films is hardly groundbreaking (and almost inevitable), the way that director Curtis Harrington uses a beloved tale of a hungry witch as the backdrop for his ominous pot-boiler is nothing short of dexterous.

If you faithfully follow Random Reviews, you'll recognize the name of this production's bellwether. Curtis Harrington stood at the stern of the sunken ship that is Queen of Blood. God, I put way too much effort into that sentence. I figured that I had seen one of his worst films, and I was right. Who Slew Auntie Roo? is a taut, engrossing thriller that combines the twisted psychology of Psycho with the twisted psychology of Shelley Winters. It was released by MGM under their Midnite Movies banner on a two-sided disc that also features What's the Matter With Helen?. Note to MGM...bring back the Midnite Movies line!



Parts Unknown #35: Smackdown

This was a cool episode of Smackdown. It wasn't the most logical two hours of sports entertainment that I've seen, but I had fun with it. Here's the part where I lead into the review with an ellipsis...


~ Kane and Rey Mysterio always have solid matches together. You'd think that the size difference would limit them, but it doesn't. Kane applied a bear hug at one point. Haven't seen that in awhile. I hate to use the term "vintage," but this match definitely had an old-school vibe to it.

~ Dusty Rhodes as a heel? Wow. They could have given a reason for his betrayal of Rey's friendship, but again, this had all of the trimmings of a classic swerve. A vintage swerve, if you will (that's my Dusty Rhodes impression). Cody's promo was golden. I loved how the crowd reacted when he pulled off Rey's mask. Let's hope that Mexico's favorite superhero will do the right thing and put Cody over by giving him a clean win at Wrestlemania.

~ They're building Layla up for an effective face turn. You can tell that the WWE universe is ready to cheer for her. The writers have handled this storyline (surprisingly) well.

~ I'm digging Big Show's current persona as a lovable goofball who could murder someone with his bare hands.

~ Vickie Guerrero begging the cameramen to help her. Pretty funny.


~ Are they actively trying to make Kofi Kingston look like the weakest Intercontinental Champion of all time? This title has lost so much prestige. The next IC champ (it will probably be Jack Swagger) needs a lengthy, high-profile title reign. It's bad enough that the tag titles have become meaningless.

~ No Undertaker? Was he traded to Raw? What gives?

That's all for this edition of Parts Unknown. Next week, I'll be going toe to toe with Duke "The Dumpster" Droese in an evening gown match!


Netherbeast Incorporated

This 2007 comedy concerns a telecommunications firm that is staffed and operated by netherbeasts. What are netherbeasts? They're like vampires, only they don't have fangs and they need more than blood to survive (they feed on human flesh). Basically, Netherbeast Incorporated is yet another vampire flick that has the audacity to say, "Forget everything you know about vampires!" At this point, wouldn't it be more original to champion all of the tropes that are associated with the undead? I'm getting ahead of myself. Anyway, imagine The Office compounded with Dracula: Dead and Loving It.

The cast boasts names such as Darrell Hammond, Dave Foley and Jason Mewes. Being that Foley and Hammond got their start on skit shows (I'm a huge fan of Kids in the Hall, by the way), I expected Netherbeast to be an extended skit. For the first hour, that's precisely what it is. There are one or two lines that made me laugh, but by and large, I was bored out of my skull until the third act kicked in. Normally, I dig dry humor, but in order for it to work, you need to be invested in the characters or at least care about what they're doing. Simply put, none of the netherbeasts are interesting.

It doesn't help that the script devotes way too many pages to exposition, and it doesn't help that the exposition is relayed to the viewer through crude animation (apparently, the budget didn't allow for detailed cartoon sets...now that's a low budget!). We have to learn so much about the damn netherbeasts, that it takes an inordinate amount of time to sort through all of the recrement just to get to the storyline. When the film picked up steam, I was ready for it to end. If I can say anything in Netherbeast's favor, it's that the third act is well-written and somewhat suspenseful. This lightweight b-movie isn't a total loss.

While Dave Foley is wasted in a wafer-thin role, Darrell Hammond is kind of awesome as a boss with "retardations." He's not awesome enough for me to give Netherbeast Incorporated my seal of approval, though. Man, if I ever do another theme week, I'm going to have to put a great deal of thought into it. This little experiment was a colossal failure. A hearty "fuck you" to the makers of Queen of Blood, Rockula and Netherbeast Incorpoated. Especially Rockula.


It seemed like a good idea at the time...

So far, the Uncool Vampire Flicks Available For Instant Viewing On Netflix Fortnight experiment has been rather painful. Tomorrow, it ends! I'm wiping my hands clean of these forgettable "films." I'm assuming that Netherbeast Incorporated will be forgettable, but who knows? Maybe I'll be surprised. Stay tuned! Or don't. Whatever.


Parts Unknown #34: Raw

Sorry for the delay, folks. Riddle me this. Have you ever spotted Triple H in a black trenchcoat? Me neither. Man, this episode of Raw is going to piss off so many people. Before I get to that, let's see what else transpired...


~ I never thought that a Cena promo would make it to the "pros" section of this column, but his one-sided rap battle responded to The Rock's scorching comments in a way that benefited his character. By reverting back to his thug gimmick, he gave this quasi-feud a much-needed dose of depth. This is no longer a simplistic black-and-white issue. I sincerely hope that Cena tangles with The Rock at some point because we may have witnessed the germination of a smart, intriguing angle. Please don't fuck this up, Vince.

~ The succinct CM Punk/John Morrison match. I liked the fact that they were both selling injuries. These two need to wrestle at a PPV.

~ This might shock the three loyal readers of Parts Unknown, but I enjoyed the silent confrontation between Terra Ryzing and "Mean" Mark Callous. They have six weeks to expound upon a program and tell a story before Wrestlemania. Words are not necessary when a rivalry is in its infancy. Next week, I'm sure that Triple H will explain why he wants to face Taker at WWE's answer to the Super Bowl. Personally, I found Monday night's aphonic encounter to be refreshing. Now, the vignettes were fucking dumb. That's where I agree with the majority of wrestling fans.


~ Am I the only one who thought that Kofi Kingston oversold the brutal beating he received at the hands of Alberto Del Rio?

~ The promos. There were too many of them. This show could have used a couple more matches.

~ At this point, The Bella Twins are my least favorite Diva's on the roster. They can't talk, they can't work in the ring, and they can't get over. Their match against Eve Torres and Gail Kim was dreadful.

~ Why the fuckety-fuck did Sheamus lose to Mark Henry? Is there sound reasoning behind Henry's push? Because it doesn't seem like it.

~ I realize that Jerry "The King" Lawler gave Michael Cole the green light, but the bit about Lawler's deceased mother was disgusting. She died last week! Cole can generate heat without stooping so low. The comment about Gorilla Monsoon was borderline unacceptable, but at least his corpse has had an ample amount of time to rot. That said, it's still not as distasteful as the custody angle that TNA is running with.

~ Tag teams? What are those?

I'm curious to see what happens next week. I'm also curious as to why I keep typing.



I can't believe it. Almost all of the reviews for Rockula on IMDb are positive. I was certain that I would find a cluster of suicide notes on the page, but instead, I chanced upon gushing testimonials written by people who loved this godforsaken film. I don't get it. I mean, I get that opinions are like assholes and all that jazz, but Jesus Christ. It seems as though most people give Rockula a pass just because it doesn't take itself seriously. I'm of the mind that even if a b-movie doesn't take itself seriously, it still has to entertain me.

As you can infer from the opening paragraph, Rockula did not entertain me. If it wasn't a horror/comedy hybrid, it wouldn't have been so excruciating. The minute that you decide to make your film a comedy, you best be damn sure that it's funny. I realize that humor is subjective, but unlike the horror genre, comedies live and die by one factor. If a comedy isn't funny, it's unwatchable. If a horror film isn't scary, it can still be something that you could recommend to a friend. There are a multitude of reasons why a horror film might be a cult classic.

Needless to say, I didn't laugh once during Rockula. The jokes are forced, punchlines are nailed into your head with the subtlety of a cumshot, and none of the humor is witty or circumstantial. Oh, the plot (not that it's terribly important). Dean "Kill My Agent" Cameron plays Ralph, a nerdy vampire who is saddled with the task of saving the reincarnation of his former flame from certain doom every 22 years. Why every 22 years? I don't know. The script doesn't explain it. When the time comes, Ralph protects said flame from the reincarnation of a pirate who killed this damsel in distress hundreds of years ago.

That would have been an acceptable plot, only the producers of Rockula tried desperately to make this flick as goofy as possible. For example, the pirate killed Mona (the name of the former flame) with a hambone. Hilarious! Furthermore, the pirate is reincarnated as a lovestruck loser who aims to freeze Mona in captivity with a cryogenic chamber that he happened to have lying around. Did I mention that the cast includes Toni Basil, Thomas Dolby and Bo Diddley? Because it does. Did I mention that Rockula is a musical? Because it is.

That's right. We're treated to a glorified music video every 10 minutes. Keep in mind, this holocaust was released in 1990, which means that I had to sit through some of the worst rock (and rap!) songs on the planet. If you watch Rockula with a buddy, I suppose that these sequences are marginally amusing, but I wasn't in the mood for such fetid cheese. And that's coming from a guy who considers Dr. Giggles to be a diamond in the rough. The bottom line? Steer clear of Rockula. If you're brave enough to give it a whirl, don't say that I didn't warn you.



After six long, trying years, Kirk Windstein has finally delivered another Crowbar album. Thank Satan. This is one of my favorite bands. As any fan of sludge metal will tell you, Kirk is a riff factory. I don't know how he keeps coming up with these erosive, devastating riffs, but why ask why? Going into Sever the Wicked Hand, I wondered if the extended lay-off would render his hands rusty. I realize that he has been busy in the interim, but Kingdom of Sorrow is not Crowbar. Plus, this is the first batch of songs that Kirk has written sober. Would he tweak the formula too much? Would the new material sound like Hatebreed? Of course not! This record crushes!

I'm going to take a different approach to this review. Since I'm dealing with a dynamic album that begs to be listened to in its entirety, I'm going to break this fucker down and tackle each track individually.

  1. "Isolation (Desolation)" - We are greeted with lovely guitar harmonies (think "The Lasting Dose" off of Sonic Excess in its Purest Form) that crash into a thick, driving riff. Kirk sounds absolutely pissed the fuck off during the chorus. High adrenaline. Destroy something.
  2. "Sever the Wicked Hand" - Fast verses are divided by a simplistic drone of a chorus. The song ends on a grinding riff that completes the arrangement. This one doesn't stand out, but it does its job.
  3. "Liquid Sky and Cold, Black Earth" - Again, not a stand-out, but it works because of Kirk's emotional vocals. He must have swallowed nails before the recording sessions.
  4. "Let Me Mourn" - Holy shit. It wouldn't surprise me if the main riff registered on a Richter scale. This tune exerts so much seismic energy, that it should be banned in Haiti. Y'know, the lurching drums almost reminds me of vintage Alice in Chains. Something like "Man in the Box" or "It Ain't Like That." Goddamn, this shit has balls.
  5. "The Cemetery Angels" - The first single. It contains all of the trademarks of a Crowbar song. You've got your sullen melodies, your impassioned lyrics, and your heavy breakdown. The video is lacking, though.
  6. "As I Become One" - A swing beat! The midsection offers up the first mellow moments of the album. This is what I meant when I said that Sever was dynamic. There are plenty of up's and down's.
  7. "A Farewell to Misery" - A reserved instrumental. There isn't much to say about it other than that it's a well-placed respite.
  8. "Protectors of the Shrine" - And the throbbing riffs return! The chorus is catchy in a subtle way. It will take a few spins to fully appreciate it.
  9. "'I Only Deal in Truth" - Similar to the title track in that it's simplistic, yet it serves its purpose. More guitar harmonies. Yummy.
  10. "Echo an Eternity" - A love song? If so, it's a damn good one. Don't get the wrong impression; it's mostly bleak and funereal.
  11. "Cleanse Me, Heal Me" - I'm running out of synonyms for heavy. So yeah, it's heavy.
  12. "Symbiosis" - This song effortlessly sums up Sever the Wicked Hand. In fact, it may be favorite cut on what is a strong effort from the reigning king of sludge. It doesn't get much better than this.

I flirted with the idea of giving this album a perfect rating, but it's not perfect. You won't bust a nut to every track. You'll come close, though.



Just a quick note. I'm skipping Smackdown this week. There are other things that I want to focus on. Tomorrow, I'll be posting a music review and next week, I'll finish off Uncool Vampire Flicks Available For Instant Viewing On Netflix Fortnight (herein referred to as UVFAFIVONF). Stay tuned!


Geek Out #10

The only thing that comes close to topping Vincent Price in a horror film is Vincent Price in a screwball comedy.


Queen of Blood

Queen of Blood is basically Lifeforce without gratuitous nudity and Tobe Hooper's stiff direction. As a general rule, I welcome gratuitous nudity, but I can do without Hooper (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was a fluke, if you ask me). Since the film was cobbled together in 1966, it doesn't need nudity to be entertaining. It's a loopy sci-fi picture from the golden age of cheese. Furthermore, it has a leg up on the competition before the opening credits roll. How? Look at that cast! John Saxon, Dennis Hopper, Basil Rathbone...this one should be a piece of cake. Oh, how I wish that it was a piece of cake.

In the only film where he doesn't play a police officer, John Saxon stars as an astronaut sent to check on an alien spaceship that crashed on its way to Earth. You see, NASA received transmissions from outer space, so they were expecting a close encounter of the benevolent kind. When the UFO turned out to be a no-show ("How rude!"), a group of white Americans were hurled through the troposphere to find out if there were any extraterrestrial survivors. Sure enough, an alien was spotted in a marooned ship on the surface of Phobos, a moon orbiting Mars. A queen of blood, to be exact.

Our royal vampire is a woman with green skin and curves that just won't quit. She hypnotizes her victims Lugosi-style. This probably sounds like one of the best films of all time, but I assure you that it's a frustrating, brain-draining endurance test. There are plot holes large enough to be used as glory holes. Enjoy that visual, by the way. The coolest special effects were taken from other films, so I can't give Queen credit for the nifty images on display. It was fun seeing Dennis Hopper in an early role, but his character is nondescript. No one reacts when the titular antagonist gorges on the plasma of a hapless casualty. The ending is anticlimactic. Clearly, I have several problems with this production, all of which can be traced back to Tobe Hooper.

That's right. I blame Tobe Hooper for all of this. I'm not sure how he managed to do it, but he desecrated what could have been a decent flick. Okay, maybe it wasn't his fault. Queen was written and directed by Curtis Harrington, so that's the guy I need to bash. He has a few films on his resume that I've been wanting to check out, namely Night Tide and The Killing Kind. In the interest of fairness, I won't hold this indiscretion against him. Queen of Blood is not the cult classic that I wanted it to be. Something tells me that my "theme month" idea was ill-conceived.

Black History Month just got a little more exciting...

If you'll notice, other fansites have theme weeks (or months). Internet celebrities like The Cinema Snob and The Nostalgia Critic map out their reviews in accordance with a common denominator. For instance, they might have Public Domain Month or Shitty Sequel Month. I got to thinking...if I were to tackle a theme, wouldn't that defeat the purpose of this blog? It's called Random Reviews. There are no themes! But I could justify it if the theme itself was ridiculously random. So I decided to dub the rest of February as Uncool Vampire Flicks Available For Instant Viewing On Netflix Month. Actually, it's less of a month and more of a fortnight.

Which films will I be covering? I'm glad you asked. I'll be hitting Queen of Blood, Rockula and Netherbeast Incorporated. The fun starts later tonight. Man, I'll be an Internet celebrity in no time.


Parts Unknown #33: Raw

Okay, I have a lot of ground to cover (for reasons that should be obvious), so I'm going to jump right into last night's Raw.


~ I like it when Raw kicks off with a match instead of 15 minutes of talking. Yes, John Cena cut a promo, but he didn't ramble on for too long. This was a solid match. I've said it before, and I'll say it again. CM Punk can wrest a dynamic, involving match out of anyone, even a superhuman character with a limited moveset. We're off to a running start.

~ Vickie Guerrero's promo was concise and effective. She made me want to tune into Smackdown. I was going to tune in anyway, but she may have convinced a few viewers who don't watch the blue brand on a regular basis. That's her job. How much do you want to bet that Edge was responsible for taking out Teddy Long? I smell a heel turn. Think about it; Dolph Ziggler is too obvious, as is Wade Barrett or any other member of The Corre. The only other possibility is Michael Tarver, a former Nexus grunt who has been hanging around the backstage areas of both shows.

~ The all-too-brief match between Natalya and Eve Torres for the Diva's Championship. It would have been better without the lumberjills. Michael Cole and Josh Matthews nearly ruined this bout, but I'll get to that later.

~ Sheamus killing Mark Henry.

~ The Miz/Daniel Bryan match. Excellent work by both competitors. Mizfits will be delighted to know that he picked up a clean victory and subsequently delivered a nice promo.

~ John Morrison was on fire...damn! Just yesterday, Chris Jericho mentioned in an interview that JoMo needed to work on connecting with the crowd. Morrison must have heard the interview because he went above and beyond the call of duty. In my opinion, that's the first time that he looked like a legitimate headliner. Kudos to Michael McGillicutty for selling like a champ. I am told that this match also featured R-Truth and David Otunga. I couldn't tell.

~ The Randy Orton/King Sheamus match. I hope that Sheamus is given a chance to shine at Wrestlemania.

~ I dug the swerve right before The Rock was announced as the host of Wrestlemania 27. Who was the girl in the limousine? I have a theory, although it doesn't seem like much of a mystery. I mean, c'mon. Who do they think they're fooling? In case you haven't figured it out, I won't spoil it for you, but I will say that she's banging a certain chaperone. Hey, you never know. I could be wrong. After all, we've seen a number of shockers in the world of professional wrestling.

~ Which brings me to The Rock. I read the rumors, but I still didn't believe it. Suffice to say, I had goosebumps the size of Maryse's milk pillows. This will go down as one of the most amazing moments in the history of sports entertainment. And that promo...that fucking promo! I was reminded of the promo that "Rowdy" Roddy Piper brandished on the old-school Raw last year. He schooled the entire roster and made men like Cena and Orton look amateurish. That's what The Rock did last night. Tenfold. He has more charisma in the tip of his penis than the "youth movement" has in its collective body. I'm not knocking WWE's fresh faces. The "youth movement" is necessary, and many of these young talents have wonderful careers ahead of them. However, the sad truth is none of the people that I'm talking about have the ability to control an arena full of rabid fans the way that The Rock does. I've already typed a novel, so I won't break down the specifics of what Dwayne said. Watch it for yourself.


~ Michael Cole is the worst commentator that I've ever heard. His official title is "play-by-play announcer." But does he call the action? No. Earlier, I affirmed that the Eve/Natalya match was nearly ruined by awful commentary. The match itself consisted of stellar mat wrestling, and if either Jim Ross or Vince McMahon (circa '93) had been sitting at the announcing booth, the skilled women in the ring would have been put over. Way over. Instead, I was forced to listen to Michael Cole arguing with a bland, disinterested Josh Matthews about...well, it doesn't really matter what they were squawking about. Actually, I take that back. It does matter because they were squawking about everything but the match at hand. When paired with Matt Striker or Booker T., Matthews is tolerable. Cole is corrosive. He must be stopped. Fuck you, Michael Cole. Fuck you.

~ I can't buy The Bella Twins as tough and intimidating.

~ Hornswoggle is 24. Ariel Winter is 13. Do I really need to explain why their cutesy V-Day segment was disturbing?

~ The Khali Kiss Cam. Vince, please fire this botch on two legs. On the upside, Yoshi Tatsu was on the receiving end of Maryse's mouth. That made me smirk.

Finally...finally...finally! I'm done.


The Wrestlemania guest host will be announced tonight...

There are rumors that it might be him. I don't want to say his name for fear of spoiling it for someone, but if it's him, prepare to mark. Hard.


Parts Unknown #32: Smackdown

A few Green Bay Packers were in attendance at the Smackdown tapings. I was curious as to how they would play into the night's festivities, and I must say, I cracked a smile when Clay Matthews ran down the aisle wearing a referee's shirt towards the end of the main event. It didn't make sense, but I smiled nonetheless. How was the rest of the show? Let's find out...


~ The Kofi Kingston/Alberto Del Rio match. I like the fact that the Intercontinental Champion is feuding with the number one contender to Edge's title. Hopefully, the IC belt will become more prestigious in 2011.

~ Drew McIntyre's easy win over Chris Masters. This could be his year, folks.

~ Devout readers of this column know that I'm not big on Michelle McCool, but you know what? She did a fantastic job. Hear me out. LayCool is on the verge of breaking up, so I dug how Michelle reacted after Layla's loss to Eve Torres. She looked shocked and disappointed. I wouldn't mind seeing her as a babyface.

~ The Wade Barrett/Rey Mysterio match. I literally cheered when Wade scored the pinfall. God, I'm a geek.

~ Kane's second consecutive squash match. I don't know how everyone else feels about it, but I'm loving how monstrous Mr. Jacobs has looked lately. Put a mask on him, and I'll mark like a fool.

~ The match between Edge and Dolph Ziggler for the World Heavyweight Title. Again, this might prove to be an unpopular opinion, but I'm cool with the finish.


~ The Vladimir Koslov/Justin Gabriel match. Now, I approve of the manner in which the 450 splash is being put over as a signature move (if Gabriel ever has a face turn, he is going to get massive pops as soon as he points to the top turnbuckle), but that's the only thing that I liked about this segment. It just reminded me of how awesome WWE's tag division used to be.

Another solid Smackdown. What else is new?

Non-Horror Film of the Week

Shut up. I liked it.


Horrors of Malformed Men

I'm not sure what I just watched. I should probably wait a few days before reviewing 1969's Horrors of Malformed Men, but time is a luxury I do not have. I'm a busy man! Waiting for the film to sink in may not help anyway. This is a grody, antithetic cult classic that whirs past your brain and injects hallucinogens directly into your bloodstream. What's it about, you ask? Well, are you familiar with The Island of Dr. Moreau (any version will do)? Take that and cross it with Matango: Attack of the Mushroom People. Add a tablespoon of GHB, have anal sex with Jet Jaguar, and smack your grandmother. BLAMMO! You've got Malformed Men.

If that doesn't help, here is a more straightforward plot summary. A man escapes from a mental hospital and assumes the identity of a dead scientist. In his quest to prove his sanity, he winds up on a deserted island where a creepy dude (dressed as Sadako from Ringu) has managed to create a race of animal people. That half-assed synopsis represents a fraction of the script, which is too convoluted for its own good. The last twenty minutes of Malformed Men contain a bazillion revelations (I hesitate to call them "plot twists" because there isn't much of a plot to twist). I realize that it sounds like I despised this flick, but I didn't.

I'm a weird person. I dig weird movies. In spite of the fact that this weird movie is sloppy and incoherent, I enjoyed it. The cinematography is vibrant, the images are striking, and the main character is likable. Horrors of Malformed Men will appeal to the kind of cinephile who owns the Something Weird Sampler. Yeah, you know what I'm talking about. High five!


Atheist - JUPITER

Earlier today, I was digging through this blog's statistics, and I was surprised to find that my review of Considered Dead - a brutish, primitive album by Canadian death merchants Gorguts - had more views than any other entry that I've posted. What's that all about? I interpreted the review's "success" as a testament to the unswerving passion of the metal community. Your typical metalhead is serious about this shit, but fans of technical death metal take their enthusiasm to another level. They approach records like Cynic's Focus and Pestilence's Spheres with diagnostic ears that dissect each note. It's not enough for the music to be heavy; it needs to be artful and complex.

It goes without saying that everyone had lofty expectations for Jupiter, the first assemblage of new Atheist material in seventeen years. Me, I'm a casual Atheist fan. I own Piece of Time on cassette tape. It's cool. Upon the first listen, it struck me as a less melodic version of Death's Individual Thought Patterns, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. I didn't really know what to expect out of Jupiter, but I wanted to give it a shot. In a nutshell, it's ultimately forgettable. I'll probably catch heat for this, but it sounds like Atheist trying to sound like...Atheist. Does that make sense?

Don't get me wrong. The musicianship is extraordinary. Drummer Steve Flynn must have an arm growing out of his ass. His fills are creative, his cymbal crashes are tasteful, and goddamn, the way he settles into a spacey time signature is mind-blowing. Flynn is the star of the show, no question. On the opposite end of the spectrum, we have the vocals of frontman Kelly Shaefer. How do I put this? He sucks. As a guitarist and a songwriter, he's still up to the challenge, but as a singer? Dear God. Imagine if the douchebag from Mudvayne was an aborted fetus. That's the only way that I can describe Shaefer's stentorious screams.

Let's talk about the songs themselves. Opener "Second to Sun" kicks off the proceedings with a heady energy. If it weren't for the monster behind the kit, this tune would fall apart like a Jenga tower. "Fictitious Glide" is my favorite cut on Jupiter. I love the winding solos. Interestingly, it's the longest song here. That's something else that bothers me about this album. It's too short. There are eight songs, all of which clock in at less than five minutes. I sympathize with the die-hards who waited nearly two decades for what is essentially an extended EP. Jupiter feels incomplete.

I concede that there are moments of diminuendo pizzicato (that's Italian for...something musical...I don't know) like the pained chorus of "When the Beast" or the frenzied shredding of "Fraudulent Cloth," but overall, Jupiter is an underwhelming listen. My word is not the gospel. Obviously, there are plenty of Atheist fans who are happy with this record. I would recommend sampling it before purchasing it, though. I'm going to pop in my dusty copy of Piece of Time. I feel old. Really, really old.



Once every week (or two), I try to touch base with my adoring fans. That way, I can tell them what they can expect to see on the site in the coming days. Tomorrow, I'm finally going to post a music review. As for movie reviews, I've got one of those on the way, too. Of course, this blog no longer caters to film buffs alone, but hopefully, you're okay with that. Outside of a select few, I don't get a ton of feedback, so I'm never sure who reads what. That's just the way it goes.

Stay tuned!

The Junkyard #4


I need to make one thing clear. This is not a blurb about Oberto's line of beef jerky. This is a blurb about Oberto's line of beef jerky sticks. For whatever reason, it's incredibly difficult to find individually wrapped sticks of seasoned, dehydrated meat. I'm not talking about those thick rods of beef that you can find in any grocery store. If I wanted to snap into a Slim Jim, I would. I'm talking about thin sticks of jerky. The only brand that delivers such snacks to my area is Oberto. Oh, boy!

I don't know why I prefer to eat beef jerky in the form of a ruler, but I do. It's just easy. Clearly, meat snacks are an acquired taste, and if your tastebuds aren't predisposed to enjoy beef jerky, there is nothing that anyone can do to convince you to munch on it. For instance, my mom hates the stuff. She can't even stand the smell of it. My dad and I are different creatures, though. We'll try any jerky once. Beef, turkey, alligator, buffalo, ostrich, venison...you name it, we've chewed on it. It seems to be more of a guy thing.

Apart from the shape, what separates Oberto's flavored strips of leather from those of Pemmican or Jack Link's? Er, not much. I'm mainly spotlighting Oberto because I'd like to see thin sticks of jerky to become more prevalent in the marketplace. Consumers deserve to have options, damn it!


Parts Unknown #31: Raw

The Elimination Chamber is just a couple of weeks away. Is Vinnie Mac doing a good job of hyping up his next PPV? Sorta.


~ Holy shit. It's Vinnie Mac! I missed him. He didn't do much (he announced an announcement, for crying out loud), but I was still glad to see him. It was like catching up with an old friend. For all intents and purposes, it seems that Vince has retired his evil, autocratic alter ego, and in my humble opinion, that's a wise move. There is no sense in rehashing an insipid formula.

~ I dig the concept behind CM Punk's latest scheme. That is, to maim each participant in the elimination chamber. It was executed well if you don't count the "match" between David Otunga and Sheamus (more on that later).

~ The John Morrison/Michael McGillicutty match. Mr. Perfect Jr. has loads of potential. With Husky Harris on the sidelines, it should be interesting to see how they handle this kid.

~ Jerry Lawler's promo. He may not be a heel anymore, but he's still entertaining. Kudos to The Miz for bringing up The King's feud with Bret Hart's parents. I got a kick out of that.

~ The Alberto Del Rio/Santino Marella match. Was it stupid? Yeah, but it was fun.

~ The main event. This is the second time that I've seen John Cena wrestle CM Punk. Both matches were dynamic, as I gather that these two performers bring out the best in each other. Punk won't allow Cena to go through the motions, and Cena is the ideal babyface to play off of Punk's self-righteous persona. It's a damn shame that they probably won't be facing each other at Wrestlemania.


~ Randy Orton being a dick and breaking CM Punk's nose.

~ R-Truth is expendable. It's a scientific fact. He's annoying enough when he isn't botching left and right (I laughed out loud when the crowd booed him for mistaking Milwaukee for Green Bay). At one point during his match with Mason Ryan, he gave up and decided to stop selling. Way to put over the rookie, Mr. Killings. Why in the flying fuck is he in the elimination chamber? Oh, I forgot. He has a stereotypical gimmick that appeals to minorities and people who want to be minorities.

~ Another 6-Diva tag match? Jesus. How about sacking the girls who contribute absolutely nothing to the product?

~ Why was King Sheamus obliterated by Mark "Irrelevant" Henry? What a random segment. I never want to see a cool entrance interrupted by Josh Matthews ever again.

So there you have it. For the record, I don't think that the mysterious "2-21-11" vignettes are signaling the return of The Undertaker. Taker will return, but he doesn't need a vignette to do it. If I'm wrong, then this is one of the worst ideas in the history of the WWE.


Geek Out #9

"Nothing in particular and everything in general, yeah!"


Parts Unknown #30: Smackdown

First off, sorry for the delay. It's been a hectic week. Secondly, go Packers! Fuck you, Ben Rapistburger! With that out of the way, let's jump into the latest episode of Smackdown...


~ Booker T! I'm impressed with his commentating skills. If it wasn't for Michael Cole, he would have sounded even better. Seriously, Cole might be the worst announcer I've ever heard. Why does there need to be a heel commentator on every wrestling show? Why can't two unbiased people simply call the action?

~ The Drew McIntyre/Kofi Kingston match. These two guys work so well together. Hopefully, this will put Drew in line for a shot at the Intercontinental Championship.

~ The Rey Mysterio/Jack Swagger match. I loved the way that Jack worked Rey's leg. He made me grimace a few times.

~ They teased a heel turn for Kelly Kelly, and while it didn't amount to anything, it gave her character some depth. Actually, a heel turn might just be what she needs.

~ Speaking of villains, Alberto Del Rio gave one of the best heel promos that I've seen in a long while. In a recent interview, the former Dos Caras Jr. said that he never wants to be a babyface again, and I can see why. He's a natural bad guy.

~ Kane's squash match against Chavo Guerrero. I'm glad that he's still being booked as a dominant figure.

~ Kelly Kelly hits the spear! Decent ending.

No cons. In my opinion, this particular Smackdown was excellent, especially for those of us who are drawn to quality wrestling matches. This was a boring review, I know. You'll get over it.


The Hospital

Oddly enough, I almost crowned The Hospital as the non-horror film of the week. It straddles the line between horror and drama. Any synopsis you read will tag this production as a black comedy. Actually, that's a rather accurate tag, but it doesn't matter how you classify The Hospital. It's a stellar picture under any umbrella.

The script follows Dr. Bock (as portrayed by George C. Scott), a suicidal doctor who toils away at a grim corpse foundry masquerading as an infirmary. This is one place you would not want to be checked into. The interns are incompetent, there are never any available beds, and...hmm, I'm forgetting something. Oh, and there is a psychopath stalking the halls Michael Myers-style.

There is nothing I love more than a good suspense flick set in a hospital. Personally, I hate hospitals, but I enjoy medical thrillers a la Coma and Visiting Hours. While The Hospital is light on scares, it's just as engrossing as any other genre piece of this ilk. George C. Scott anchors the cast with a riveting performance that speaks to the dry, mordant tone of the story. We see the world through Dr. Bock's eyes, and it's fucking ugly. He doesn't understand how his co-workers can be so absent-minded. We've all been there, man. If The Hospital sounds depressing, that's because it is. But it's also very funny. It should appeal to anyone with an off-kilter sense of humor.

Diana Rigg plays a Native American peacenik who puts faith in superstition above science. At one point, she has a shaman "harness the power of thunder" to heal her ailing father. Needless to say, she and Dr. Bock have a few interesting conversations. Before you can say "tricyclic anticonvulsant," the two opposites attract and fall in love overnight. I didn't buy their forced relationship, and in the grand scheme of things, it seemed awfully unnecessary. This film didn't need an amorous subplot. Of course, The Hospital was released in 1971, so it comes with the territory, I suppose.

The ending is clever. The narrative builds to a natural climax, capping off an intelligent, well-paced character study. If I had my druthers, Rigg would have revealed more of her delicious flesh, but I'm nitpicking (seriously, that woman could have seduced a termite). Anyway, buy The Hospital. End of review.

Non-Horror Film of the Week


Coma Chameleon

I've been in a wrestling coma as of late, but tomorrow, I'll get back to movies. Hopefully, I'll have a couple of music reviews ready by the weekend. Go Packers!


Parts Unknown #29: Raw

After the topsy-turvy Royal Rumble, I had no fucking clue what to expect out of Raw. As it turns out, it was quite decent. WWE's TV shows are usually better than their PPV's. Let's see what happened...


~ Alberto Del Rio's victory celebration was pretty funny. I still don't think that he can headline Wrestlemania, but if the mysterious "2-21-11" vignette is any indication (more on that later), he won't have to.

~ I know that everyone is pissed off about Jerry Lawler winning the 7-man battle royale, but he's doing it for the same reason why you-know-who has signed with the company that he vowed he would never sign with...old age. Lawler has never wrestled at Wrestlemania. He deserves to. Has he been in the ring too much lately? Yes. Has he been booked properly? No. Am I surprised by or bent out of shape over his win last night? No. Actually, it doesn't bother me in the slightest.

~ The tag team match between Santino/Koslov and Harris/McGillicutty. When it comes to this division, I'll take what I can get.

~ Maryse's face turn. You go, girl!

~ The Edge/Miz match. It's good to see The Ultimate Opportunist widen his moveset. Now all he needs is a new gimmick.

~ Eve Torres shouldn't be holding the Diva's strap, but I've got to hand it to her. That bitch can work. I love how she sold Layla's finisher. Again, her title reign is a fluke, but I respect her for earning her keep. What's more, she knows how to land a moonsault.

~ The 2-21-11 vignette...badass! At first, I was thinking Kong, but yeah, it's definitely Sting. If it's not, I'll live. However, if Sting is spotted in the rafters on Raw, I'll shit.

~ The Uso's and their purple trunks. Poor bastards.


~ Randy Orton's dramatic punt took way too long. Am I supposed to believe that Husky Harris was frozen on all fours?

~ The goddamn dance-off. What was Khali doing? Seriously, what the fuck was he doing? To add insult to injury, he goes for a pin. After a dance-off. Holy shit. Giant Gonzalez is often (and unfairly) called the worst wrestling giant of all time, but he was never this bad. If you would rather watch The Great Khali than Giant Gonzalez, you're probably The Great Khali.

Only a couple of cons? I can deal with that.