Album Cover of the Week


Matches That Time Forgot #12

Crush and Adam Bomb...two characters that embodied the wacky theatrics of early-to-mid 90's WWF. God, I love early-to-mid 90's WWF. But this match is from WCW circa 2000. Bryan Clark (a.k.a. Adam Bomb) had been wrestling in Eric Bischoff's neglected midcard as Wrath for a couple of years, and at one point, he enjoyed an undefeated streak. For whatever reason, they dropped his gimmick and repackaged him as Bryan Clark. He was paired with Brian Adams (a.k.a. Crush) in a power duo known as KroniK. And you know what? They were awesome!

Clark and Adams held the tag team titles on at least two occasions (that I know of). They were pitched as a modern day Legion of Doom, and if it weren't for WCW's eventual liquidation, they might have traversed the tag team division as the company's answer to the Acolyte Protection Agency. During the "invasion" angle, KroniK feuded with The Brothers of Destruction. Unfortunately, Mr. McMahon wasn't impressed with his former employees (Adams developed a bad habit of no-selling everything), so KroniK was canned with a quickness.

This particular match pits KroniK against 3 Count. Yes, 3 Count, the "boyband" stable. Don't tell anyone, but I actually dug 3 Count. I'm a sucker for cruiserweights.


Place of Skulls - THE BLACK IS NEVER FAR

Most dyed-in-the-wool metalheads denounce Christian bands. Contrary to popular belief, this has very little to do with the ecclesiastical nature of the lyrics. Christian metal is often shunned in the underground simply because the majority of these acts are godawful (no pun intended). I hate to sound like a primitive, knuckle-dragging meathead, but it's hard to find a covey of God-fearing headbangers that truly kick ass. I would be hard-pressed to name off a list of Christian bands that I listen to on a semi-regular basis (Believer springs to mind, but I don't own any of their albums).

Now, there are tons of Christian musicians who play in badass bands (Dave Mustaine anyone?). I'm not talking about them, though. I'm talking about Stryper, Underoath, Zao, Demon Hunter...music designated as "Christian metal." For all intents and purposes, Place of Skulls is one of those bands. And they rule, or at least this album does. The Black is Never Far is a leaden slab of doom that recalls the muddy riffs of Trouble, Black Sabbath and even Alice in Chains. This is somewhat of a supergroup. Frontman Victor Griffin spent a few years in Pentagram, as did bassist Lee Abney. Certified doom guru Scott "Wino" Weinrich played on 2003's With Vision, although he left the line-up to focus on other projects.

Is Place of Skulls the Velvet Revolver of doom metal? No. That would be a dumb thing to say. I would rather say that this record contains more riffs than every deathcore record combined. This shit is heavy, folks. Listen to the mid-tempo stomp of "Apart From Me," a hard rock composition that could survive on the radio (if the radio was worthwhile). The deep rumble of "Relentless" will clean your colon. Literally. The riffs are so hefty, they will make you regular. "Darkest Hour" is a cheerless, disconsolate ballad docked by a catchy chorus and a melodic solo. "Lookin' For a Reason" is a bluesy track that weaves a saxophone into the mix. Trust me; it's tasteful.

The Black is Never Far does a marvelous job of blending doom with patches of grunge-inspired rock. It's brutal when it needs to be, and it's mellow when it needs to be. I love the hell out of it. If it weren't for "Changed Heart," the last cut on the album, I would plaster five Abbath's below this review. It's the only song that comes off as preachy. Musically, it's not as interesting as the preceding jams with the partial exception of the trite "We the Unrighteous." Still, you need to introduce yourself to Place of Skulls. Check out "Darkest Hour" and "Apart From Me" on YouTube. You can thank me later.


Will Review B-Movies For Food

Tomorrow, I will finally put my new Abbath ratings to good use. That's right; I'll be posting a music review. I wish I could write more music reviews, but in order to do that, I would have to buy more CD's (yeah, I could download every album in the world, but I can't base a review on a low-quality MP3...I'm too "old school" for that shit). In order to buy more CD's, I would need to have money. I'm fucking broke.

Actually, that's a topic that I'm going to address in the coming days. Just like every other fansite, Random Reviews Incorporated will be accepting donations. Keep an eye out for a "donation announcement" in the near future.

That's all for now. Laters!



It took ages for this made-for-TV creature feature to arrive on DVD, but it did. And with zero fanfare, to boot. Released in 1972, Gargoyles has secured a favorable reputation in horror circles, especially on the net. I couldn't wait to watch it. Gargoyles (the demons themselves, not the film) are cool specters rich in mythos, yet there aren't many films that mine the potential of said beasts. Why not? I mean, think about it...slate phantoms carved in stone, perched atop a shady cityscape, roused by nightfall...the possibilities are endless. Don't get me wrong; I love the cartoon. But I want more live-action scares that revolve around gargoyles.

I suppose that this film will have to do for now. Quite frankly, it didn't meet my expectations. That's what happens when hype snowballs into a smothering furor with a mind of its own. I don't hate Gargoyles, though. It's hard to hate a cheesy, absent-minded time-waster like this. The plot sends a scientist out into the desert to conduct interviews for a book he is writing on superstition. His daughter tags along, and before you know it, they are being assaulted by gargoyles. That's it. That's Gargoyles. There is barely enough story here to cover the 74-minute running time. It ends so abruptly, it seemed as if we fast-forwarded through the exposition.

Obviously, the pace is hypersonic. The script doesn't give you a chance to become restless at any point. So boredom isn't a problem. The problem is that if Gargoyles was a person, it would be an anorexic cokehead. As much as I dug the titular fiends, I never figured out what they were trying to accomplish or how a desert in the middle of nowhere factored into their plan. They weren't very intimidating either (they can be killed with one shot to the...body). The ending is completely nonsensical, but I'll refrain from spoiling it for you. You would have to see it to appreciate its inanity anyway. "Inanity" is a stupid word.

It probably sounds like I despised this flick, but again, I would have to be a real asshole not to have fun with it on some level. The special effects are dandy. A young Stan Winston contributed to the design of the gargoyles, and I'll admit that they look creepy in certain scenes. This would have made for a fantastic episode of The Outer Limits. For what it's worth, Gargoyles works as a low-budget curiosity, but if you go in assuming that you have unearthed a lost classic, you might be let down.


Parts Unknown #69: Raw

I don't fully understand why last night's episode of Raw was booked the way it was, but it was fun and unpredictable. Unfortunately, there were just as many cons as there were pros.


~ While it was precariously pointless, the match between The Miz and Rey Mysterio opened the show on the right foot. More on this two-hour title reign later.

~ Is Jim Ross back for good? I hope so. It may not be anything new, but you will never hear me bitch about quality commentating.

~ John Morrison's triumphant return. I'll be honest; I've missed his nutty, reckless offense. JoMo vs. R-Truth at SummerSlam? Yes, please.

~ It took awhile for the crowd to wake up (maybe they thought they were dreaming...in which case, I can't blame them), but Zack Ryder's authoritative squash was entertaining television. He needs to be the next United States Champion.

~ The Kofi Kingston/Alberto Del Rio match. It was competent enough, but look, I'm beginning to tune out whenever Kofi is standing in the ring. Either spruce up his character or fire him. The guy has been running in place for two years now. If you're going to push him, do it already.

~ CM fucking Punk and his new entrance music. Fantastic ending.


~ What was the point of determining a new champion if Triple H resigned CM Punk? The bulk of Raw was null and void. They are rushing this storyline, and it's so obvious where all of it is heading. If Punk loses at SummerSlam, I will be supremely pissed.

~ I can't believe that I'm saying this, but the match between Dolph Ziggler and Evan Bourne was dull. They had no chemistry. And someone should tell creative that Dolph's "Mr. Perfect Jr." gimmick isn't going to get over.

~ I feel bad for Eve Torres. She can wrestle, but unless she shakes her ass, she will be jobbing to Tamina on Superstars in no time. Where is Kharma when you need her?

~ The Keith Stone segment. Fuck that shit.

Kudos to The Miz for banging Maryse. By default, he has earned the distinction of being known as the Broski of the Millennium.


Matches That Time Forgot #11

Um, why didn't Bret and Owen Hart hold the tag team titles at least once? I know that they feuded with each other constantly in the mid-90's, but Owen was a viable babyface for awhile. Why didn't he tag with his brother more often after High Energy split? Y'know, instead of being lumped with Yokozuna? This match against The Steiner Brothers gives us a peek into what could have been a mark's wet dream. Dogface Gremlin and Big Poppa Pump left for WCW shortly after this epic head-on collision. You know what that means, don't you? It means that we didn't have to settle for a series between The Quebecers and The Smoking Gunns/Men on a Mission. But we did.

This is thirty minutes of textbook wrestling. Amateur holds, brutal suplexes, a post-match brawl to die for...fuck, this shit is killer. It was one of the best matches of 1994, but for some odd reason, no one ever talks about it. That is where I step in.

Album Cover of the Week


I Come in Peace

Good cop. Bad alien. Big trouble. Simple tagline. Simple movie. Dolph Lundgren. Action. Car chases. Space guns. Forced love subplot. Oh, hello there. I was just experimenting with a writing exercise. How does this strike you? "Stream of consciousness" movie reviews...brilliant, right? I think I'm onto something. It combines the shrewd annotations of Random Reviews with the callow brevity of Twitter. Imagine how much easier my job would be. In all seriousness, my "stream of consciousness" review describes I Come in Peace with more accuracy than a golf club with a short shaft and a loft of 24 degrees. Heh, a golf analogy. I'm on a roll!

This flick is as simple as simple gets. I remember catching it on television as a child. I know that I enjoyed it, and if it wasn't so damn rare, I would have revisited it sooner. Known as Dark Angel overseas, I Come in Peace follows Cain, a cop assigned to a drug sting. Of course, everything goes wrong. His partner is slain in the line of duty, a briefcase full of heroin disappears from the crime scene and bodies begin to pile up with holes in their foreheads. What I'm trying to tell you is that this film is about a smack pusher from outer space. Hey, if Ah-Nuld can do a sci-fi project, why can't Dolph? He may not bring charisma or screen presence to the table, but look at those pythons, brother!

I'll go easy on Dolph. Actually, he has the "badass hero" thing down pat. He could have shot this flick in his sleep. Brian Benben is annoying as the glib, obsequious comedy relief. The script pretends to give him a character arc, but I wasn't buying it. I Come in Peace manages to click on all cylinders in spite of dodgy dialogue. The pace is hyper, the action sequences are fun (love the tight editing) and the villain is too cool for public school. There isn't much in the way of gore, but I'll take the carnage that we do see. Those flying CD's were glorious.

As I alluded to earlier, we have no choice but to sit through a languid subplot involving Cain's on-again/off-again girlfriend. I wouldn't mind it if the "lovebirds" shared any chemistry whatsoever. Harmless padding, I suppose. I have no idea why I Come in Peace has yet to receive DVD treatment in North America. It's a Dolph Lundgren movie, for Christ's sake. It should be available at every retail outlet on the planet. Paired with Universal Soldier. On clearance. Robert Z'Dar says, "Wait, I wasn't in this? Are you sure I wasn't in this?"


Panels From Beyond the Grave #3

Here it is, folks...the first guest review written for the site. This edition of Panels From Beyond the Grave comes courtesy of Bob Ignizio, a pal of mine who hails from Ohio. Bob is a freelance writer who has cranked out content for several websites/magazines/newspapers. He offered to contribute comic book reviews to RR Inc., and since this column takes a backseat to movie/music reviews, I figured that a boost in productivity would be a good idea. I will still write comic reviews, but I'm going to leave Bob in charge of this department (under my militant, overbearing supervision).

NOTE: This review does not pertain to a specific issue.


With Sweet Tooth, writer/artist Jeff Lemire has manged to find a fresh take on the post-apocalyptic action genre. Sure, we've seen plenty of other stories where a plague wipes out most of the human population as happens here. The twist is that some survivors find themselves giving birth to animal/human hybrids. Most of these hybrids lean more towards their animal natures, but not all.

The central character of the comic is one such hybrid, a young boy named Gus who has certain attributes of a deer, including antlers. Gus has been raised in a sheltered environment by a father who appears at first to be a standard issue religious nut. When dad eventually falls victim to the plague, the boy meets up with a tough old bastard named Jepperd, who is kind of like Clint Eastwood in Gran Torino, only meaner. Gus and Jepperd set off together through the post apocalyptic landscape, encountering various other survivors and hybrids along the way. The distinction between friend and foe isn't always clear, though, and even Jepperd may not have Gus's best interests entirely at heart.

This series has been going on for about 2 years now, and the once-sheltered and naïve Gus is starting to come into his own as a capable character in his own right, while still holding on to his basic decency. Jepperd has undergone significant change as well, making some mistakes early on that he eventually sets right, and dealing with some painful revelations about another mistake he'll never be able to fix.

Lemire's writing is smart and engaging. Aside from the two leads, there's a fairly large supporting cast, and he does a great job of juggling them all. None of the characters get shortchanged, but neither does the story get bogged down in minutiae. Lemire's art is very reminiscent of underground and small press comics as opposed to the hyper-realistic style mainstream comic readers may be used to. It may take a bit of getting used to for some readers, but trust me; even if the art doesn't do it for you, once you start reading the story, you'll be hooked.


The Soda Jerk #8


One of the less ubiquitous citrus sodas, Squirt has been chugging along for decades now. I think it's safe to say that it was more popular in the 50's, but if you look hard enough, you will find cans of Squirt strewn across The New World. Much like Sunkist Sparkling Lemonade (which is no longer stocked in my vicinity), Squirt challenges convention. It laughs in the face of those who can only accept lemon if it is coupled with lime. The lemon is independent. It doesn't need other fruits to hold its hand. If you can't handle a lemon-centric beverage, then you can fuck right off. Burn in Hell!

I may be overstating my general point. It wasn't my intention to condemn you to eternal damnation, but this is a touchy subject. Drinking Squirt is as close to sucking on a lemon as you can get without actually sucking on a lemon. The firewater itself is white. On the surface, it resembles Mountain Dew White Out. Or Alka-Seltzer. But Squirt is typically more palatable than effervescent antacids. It goes down without any fuss. The aftertaste has a sour kick to it. I like it, although the carbonation is a bit too heavy.

There are a couple of offshoot flavors that I wouldn't mind sampling. Ruby Red Squirt was introduced to the market, and aside from causing skin lesions, it looks tasty. Wait, what? According to Wikipedia, a man reacted badly to the berry-infused elixir after drinking eight liters per day. I won't hold it against Squirt, though. I'm sure that drinking eight liters of anything high in fructose corn syrup will result in a visit to the emergency room. I once read about a woman whose vagina exploded after drinking a teaspoon of Mountain Dew Pitch Black.

Squirt Citrus Power is similar to an energy drink. No, thanks. I'll stick to the basic stuff. If you happen to live close to a store that sells Ruby Red Squirt, let me know. I'm willing to let you send it to me for free.


Geek Out #25

This doesn't need an introduction. If you don't own at least twenty videocassettes from this company, I can't take you seriously as a human being.

PS-There is a new Soda Jerk in the works...holy shit! Also, I'll be posting the first ever guest review to be written for RR Inc. Now, I'm not going to make a habit out of outsourcing, but the planets aligned in such a way that my ego allowed for someone else to contribute to the site. This is still my site, though. And I'm still better than you.


Sleepaway Camp

This review was requested in the Random Reviews Incorporated Fan Club. If I'm being honest, I was reluctant to fulfill the request. I had never seen Sleepaway Camp, but I felt like I had. I knew all about the twist ending. How could I not? I've been perusing horror message boards ever since our household became endowed with an Internet connection. I've pounded the pavement on every site, every mailing list, every portal...you name it, I've exhausted its resources. So it should come as no surprise that I spoiled this slasher for myself along the way to transfusing my cerebrum with as much horror/sci-fi knowledge as humanly possible.

Sleepaway Camp has a lot in common with The Sixth Sense. The ending is so shocking, that it leaps off of the celluloid and dissolves into pop culture. Usually, you can circumnavigate spoilers, but not with this flick. You have no choice, unless you saw it in theaters in 1983. Does this infamous "body count" cash-in hold up without the advantage of using its secret weapon? I'd say so. I didn't enjoy it as much as Sleepaway Camp II: Unhappy Campers, but it wasn't as stale and vapid as I thought it would be. And yes, I've welcomed the sequels into my home (well, except for Return to Sleepaway Camp, which I have zero interest in).

A couple of things caught me off guard. For starters, Aunt Martha walked right out of a John Waters movie. The fact that she looked like a drag queen was both ironic and discommoding. Secondly, the bulk of the characters were likeable. By and large, the script avoided the stratum of stereotypes that commonly populate genre doodles of this ilk. It was refreshing to find a woodsy slasher that focused on campers, as opposed to camp counselors. Felissa Rose is sweet and unassuming as Angela. I dug her, although I'm not sure that this role justifies her appearance at every single horror convention on the planet. Then again, I could say that about dozens of cult actors.

Setbacks? Maybe it's just me, but apart from the mean-spirited death sequences, Sleepaway Camp doesn't feel like a horror film. Eighty percent of the action is shot in the ugly refulgence of daylight, and there is no atmosphere to speak of. Granted, the final frames are disturbing. I can't account for Angela's peculiar case of lockjaw (was someone taking her picture?), but she definitely creeped me out. Stronger doses of gore and suspense would have elevated Sleepaway Camp into four-Z'Dar territory. Overall, it's an agreeable film. Hell, it's better than the original Friday the 13th. That's right. Bring it.


Parts Unknown #68: Raw

This edition of Parts Unknown will be shorter than usual, as last night's episode of Raw was rather one-dimensional. We got matches, more matches and an ending that came out of nowhere.


~ The wrestling. Admittedly, I was put off by the lack of storyline progression (the midcard is going to be invisible for a couple of weeks), but it's hard to complain about a show replete with well-oiled matches. Miz/Riley was decent. Mikey sold his leg injury to perfection (probably because it still hurt like a motherfucker). I'm glad that he made it to the finals. Oddly enough, Truth/Swagger was my favorite match of the night. Pitting two heels against one another is always risky, but it worked. The All-American American needs to be repackaged, though. Kingston/Del Rio was electric. Mysterio/Ziggler was as smooth as you would expect it to be. Miz/Kingston and Truth/Mysterio were both sound contests. Hey, I guess that wrestling matters after all.

~ Forget the maudlin acting. Forget the plot holes. Forget Vince's pink suit (which was amazing, by the way). The closing segment packed an emotional wallop. Script or no script, Vince might actually be stepping down. Those tears were real. WWE has been unpredictable as of late, and I hope the trend continues next week.


~ The Diva tag match. That time could have been allotted for a Zack Ryder promo.

What the hell is ICO PRO anyway?


Parts Unknown #67: Money in the Bank

I don't need pros and cons for this one.

MITB Smackdown Ladder Match ~ Sick. Absolutely sick. You could call this an impetuous spotfest, and you would be right, but did you see those fucking spots? My jaw dropped when Sheamus powerbombed Sin Cara through a ladder. Sure, the ladder came pre-broken, but goddamn. I was expecting them to tease a spot like that for several minutes. I'm glad they didn't. Justin Gabriel's 450 splash was sweet. I appreciate the fact that they acknowledged The Corre, but nothing can be done to get Slater and Gabriel over. They are more boring than a tuna sandwich. On rye!

I understand that the Internet is buzzing over the main event, as it should be. But I can't believe that Daniel Bryan's victory has loitered under the radar. I mean, who saw that coming? I can see The American Dragon holding onto his briefcase for the better part of a year. This is going to be a fun ride.

Kelly Kelly vs. Brie Bella ~ For a bathroom break, this wasn't a bad match. As much as Kelly has improved over the years, I don't see her ever becoming a bona fide legend. She's popular enough. She's attractive enough. She's cutesy/slutty enough. And yet, she has a long way to go. She needs to develop her character and add psychology to her matches. The Bella twins? A lost cause.

The Big Show vs. Mark Henry ~ This match exceeded my expectations. Both giants went above and beyond the call of duty. Henry didn't have to leave his feet, but he did. Show didn't have to climb the ropes, but he did. Thankfully, the right man was triumphant. I dug the post-match beatdown. I'm curious to see where The World's Strongest Man goes from here. Personally, I would book him to square off against Ezekiel Jackson for the Intercontinental Championship at Summerslam. Give him the title reign that he has earned.

MITB Raw Ladder Match ~ Not quite as spectacular as the Smackdown ladder match, but impressive nonetheless. It was actually more emotional than its blue-tinted counterpart. The Miz is a fucking trooper. His knee was noticeably jacked up, but hopping down the entrance ramp added a nice layer to an already exciting broil. It also made sense from a character standpoint. I was hoping that R-Truth would claim the red briefcase, but I can't complain about Alberto Del Rio emerging as the top dog.

Christian vs. Randy Orton ~ Honestly, I haven't cared about this feud for awhile now. It was a solid match. Nothing more, nothing less. Orton needs to snap more often. I enjoy Christian as a slimy douchebag, so I'm glad that he won. Not much else to say.

CM (motherfucking) Punk vs. John Cena ~ This match proved that storytelling is more important than technical proficiency. There were botches all over the place, but it didn't matter. This was epic. Cena isn't getting enough credit for his performance. He played the heel beautifully. I loved how he warmed up in the corner with boxing moves. It may seem trivial, but it added to the "big fight" feel of the main event. The atmosphere was purple hot. We all anticipated a screwjob finish, but they executed a clever swerve that keeps Cena in the "babyface" camp. What can I say? Match of the year candidate.

This was the best WWE PPV in a long, LONG time. I can't wait for Raw.


Album Cover of the Week


Matches That Time Forgot #10

This column is usually educational. I try to provide some information on the wrestlers involved and any angles that they were peddling at the time of the match. Today, I'm stumped. I don't know a goddamn thing about The Colossal Kongs. Well, I take that back. I do know that one of these grizzly rubes is named Awesome Kong. That's right. There is more than one Awesome Kong. Gimmick infringement!

I love the fact that this tag team was managed by Harley Race. This just goes to show that the WWF wasn't the only promotion cranking out laughable characters in the early 90's.


Netflix's New Rewind Fee Incites Riot

It has come to my attention that Netflix is raising their rates...again. The Internet has been awash with angry customers ever since the news broke, and understandably so. The folks in charge of Netflix had to have seen this backlash coming from light years away. On paper, we're only talking about seven extra dollars per month for those of us who take advantage of their streaming service in addition to renting physical DVD's. But film buffs at large are not up in arms over seven dollars. It's the principle of the matter.

This will be a 60% hike in monthly fees. Can you imagine paying 60% more for your cable or your utilities? It's a substantial surge, is it not? The question that I'll have to ask myself come September (which is when these changes will make their mark) is, how much is this service worth? $15.99 per month is still a good deal, especially if you compare it to the alternative. Unless you live close to Visart Video, Netflix might be your best bet as far as DVD rentals are concerned. There isn't much competition. Or is there?

I have yet to try Amazon Prime, but apparently, it offers the same services at a more reasonable rate. Friends tell me that they have just as many titles available for streaming. Plus, you get free 2-day shipping on all of your orders. You would still need Netflix to rent tangible discs. If you're like me, you will consider milking both websites to quench your movie thirst. So what is the point of this editorial? I'm not sure that I have one. Wait! Yes, I do! Netflix is slightly evil, but their new pricing strategy does not denote the end of the world.

Let's face it. Businesses need to make a profit. Hell, this news doesn't even affect all of the nerds who stopped buying/renting physical DVD's years ago. For the rest of us, there are options. Hold your head up high, fellow truants. We will still be able to watch Class of Nuke 'Em High 2: Subhumanoid Meltdown on our laptops. And you know you want to.


Geek Out #24

This is one of the best trilogies of all time. I am proud to own the whole saga on DVD. If you haven't seen at least one of the Daimajin films, you're dead to me. I'm not joshing, nor am I whistling Dixie. If you're a kaiju nut, you owe it to yourself to check this series out.


Dead or Alive

The last time I watched a Takashi Miike film, I discovered a hidden gem. That film was Zebraman. It's probably my second favorite Miike masterwork behind The Happiness of the Katakuris. The man is a goddamn genius. My opinions tend to be mercurial, and I waver when it comes to picking a favorite anything, but I can safely say that Miike is my favorite director. That's why I'm embarrassed to admit that I just now got around to renting Dead or Alive. Released in 1999, this was one of the first ultra-violent yakuza flicks to be exalted in the bloody pages of Fangoria.

Yes, I read Fangoria as a teenager. It's not a shabby magazine, but of course, it's no Rue Morgue. How did I pivot the radial point of this review away from Dead or Alive? Focus, Dom. Focus. If you know what "yakuza" means, then you know that the plot fixates on rival Japanese gangs. Both gangs jockey for position as they attempt to buy drugs from the Chinese mafia. A cop negotiates with the head of Japanese Gang B (we'll call them The Crips) to pay for his daughter's surgery. I'll stop there. I wouldn't want to reveal too much. Besides, it's hard to describe some of the zany shit that happens. You need to see it for yourself.

Dead or Alive is disturbing. It's not the goriest film of all time, but as his resume demonstrates, Miike knows how to get under your skin without relying on trenchant butchery. In one scene, we see a naked girl lying in a tub of human excrement. Her captor tells us that she has been raped, pumped full of heroine and tortured with enemas. "I flushed you out," he says. Miike only shows us the aftermath, but he has succeeded in creating a squalid, stomach-churning atmosphere. And that's just a single instance of harrowing imagery. I haven't even touched on the bestiality sub-subplot. I pray that it was simulated.

There is more to this film than rape and bestiality, though. The characters are sympathetic, the editing is swift (the first five minutes are amazing) and the storyline takes a few shocking detours. Dead or Alive isn't as random as Gozu or Visitor Q, but it's more unpredictable. Is that a contradiction? I promise that it makes sense to me. Add this sucker to your chopping list. It's not perfect, and it doesn't reach the standards set by Miike's best efforts, but it's a quality picture. I'm deducting a Z'Dar because of aimless pacing here and there. No big deal.


Parts Unknown #66: Raw

This will be an easy column to write. Aside from CM Punk and Vince McMahon stealing the show, Raw was rather unremarkable.


~ The segments involving CM Punk and/or the chairman of the board (no, I'm not talking about Carrot Top). Say what you want about Vince (we all have), but give him credit for handing The Straight Edge Savior a blank check. He has allowed his top tweener to spread his wings. And make no mistake; CM Punk is a tweener. If my precognition proves to be prescient, he will be a babyface before you know it. As a matter of fact, I can see John Cena finally crossing over to the dark side. It won't be an abrupt Hollywood Hogan turn. I'm thinking more along the lines of a gradual Bret Hart turn that brews for several weeks until the roles are reversed. Just my opinion. Anyway, this was easily the best contract signing in the history of the WWE. "What a maneuver!"

~ The handicap match between Cena and Doink/Dink...I mean, Otunga/McGillicutty. Sure, it made the champions look weak, but they won't be champions for much longer. I'll be disappointed if they don't drop the belts to The Uso's in the next month or so.

~ The six-man tag. It was filler, but it was good filler.

~ The handicap match between The Big Show and Ziggler/McIntyre. Poor Drew. He sold like a motherfucker. Mark Henry's run-in was sweet, but it was a sign that the era of brand separation needs to be abrogated. For storyline purposes, Henry shouldn't even be at a Raw taping. This shit needs to be stamped out. Seriously, bro.


~ The backstage segment featuring Drew, Dolph and Vickie. Not funny. Too long. Entirely pointless.

~ The Melina/Kelly Kelly match. It had no flow. Kelly was rushing to get all of her stuff in. Someone needs to coach her on how to transition from one signature move to the next. Melina was okay, but it's obvious that her days are numbered. I have a sneaking suspicion that we will be referring to her as a Knockout by the end of the year. Hopefully, I'm dead wrong.

This was a decent go-home show. I read that "WWE ice cream bars" was trending on Twitter last night. It's too bad that Punk tore up his contract.


Panels From Beyond the Grave #2

CREEPY (#5, March 2011)

I had intended to use this column to review older comic books, but that was before I bought a coffinload of brand new comic books. Ever since I read that Dark Horse would be publishing a relaunch of Creepy, "the finest in illustrated horror," I wanted to procure an issue. I finally did just that, even if it took me a few eons. I'm late to the game. Immemorial fanboys have been enjoying Creepy (and Eerie, its sister publication) for decades, but I was always more of an EC guy. I own piles of issues of Tales From the Crypt, The Vault of Horror and Weird Science. Hey, if I can drink both Coke and Pepsi, then I can hang out with Uncle Creepy while I'm shooting the shit with The Cryptkeeper.

A fair warning to casual comic readers...Creepy is a black-and-white periodical. I know that some people are turned off by such things. As a kid, I would put a comic back on the shelf if it wasn't dripping with color. I still consider myself to be a casual comic reader, but the lack of prismatic intensity doesn't bother me anymore. There are moments where this comic could use a little variegation, though. Color serves as a plot device in the first story, "Blood in the Sky." A character points to the heavens and exclaims, "Look, the sky is red!" I looked. The sky was white. See what I mean?

That's the only unflattering comment that I can make about the fifth issue of Creepy. Each yarn is fun to flip through, and there is a nice variety of baddies. We get a sword-wielding monster, a carnivorous sunflower, a crazed cult and a scheming ghost. This title isn't as dialogue-heavy as the EC fright rags. As a result, you can knock one out in a relatively short amount of time. Most of the artwork is adequate, although "The Field" becomes busy and congested within the larger panels. It's hard to spot all of the detail.

It occurred to me that I might need to create a rating system for this column (ditto for my music reviews). The Z'Dar scale wouldn't be appropriate for this art medium. Once I figure something out, I'll go back and insert ratings into the first two issues of Panels From Beyond the Grave. Honestly, I don't know how I would score this particular comic. It's definitely worth buying. I heard that Eerie will be relaunched soon, but don't quote me on that. Let's hope I'm right.


Album Cover of the Week


Matches That Time Forgot #9

I have to apologize for the poor quality of this video, but I didn't upload it. There are only so many websites that I can pull content from. I could have chosen a different match, but this one was too good to pass up. Today, I proffer a grueling scuffle between The Boogeyman and a green upstart by the name of Mike Mizanin. This match is a testament to how much The Miz has improved over the years, both on the mic and in the ring. Bless his heart; he tries to make this a wrestling match.

I thought that The Boogeyman was a terrific gimmick. Sure, the gross-out tactics were unnecessary and may have kept him from getting over as a babyface (the crowd is dead for his entrance), but the creative team never gave him any real opportunities. I imagine that the writing sessions went something like this - "Ratings, ratings, ratings...wait a second! We can have him bite a wart off of Jillian Hall's face!" It pains me knowing that there are people who gather paychecks for scraping shit like this together.

FACTOID: The Boogeyman was played by Marty Wright, brother of Charles Wright. Who is Charles Wright? None other than Kama/Papa Shango/The Godfather!


Storm of the Century

Have you ever noticed that every Stephen King mini-series suffers from the same faults? Storm of the Century is a sprawling, histrionic tale of terror that can't decide how it wants to end. You could say the same thing about It and The Tommyknockers. Of course, all three King adaptations are prolific in cliches. We always open in a small town, a small town with a secret of some sort. Everyone knows each other, and the antagonists are clearly identified by neon arrows pointing to their character flaws. If you're recognized as a caitiff (that's just a fancy word for "dickweed"), you're either a bully, an abusive spouse or a corrupt politician.

Storm hits most of these checkpoints on its way to relaying the story of a quaint, wage-earning island village in Maine (where else?) that is bollixed by the arrival of a mysterious man named Andre Linoge. Our shady visitor seems to enjoy fucking with the denizens of this middle-class municipality. After killing a few elderly people, he poses an ultimatum to the township. It becomes readily apparent that Linoge isn't a man at all. On top of having to deal with a warlock/sorcerer rattling their cages, a cast that includes Tim Daly and Casey Siemaszko must also contend with a tempestuous blizzard that materialized alongside the appearance of said out-of-towner.

I usually don't need a whole paragraph to summarize a plot, but I'm trying to recap four hours of a Stephen King script here. And yet, the bulk of this mini-series is uneventful. Apart from the set-up and the climax, Storm is pretty goddamn boring. Let's say that hours one and four are hamburger buns. Yes, this is a food analogy. The buns are warm and fresh, but the meat is teeming with bacteria. In other words, the midsection is dull, repetitive and arbitrary. This didn't need to be a mini-series. Director Craig R. Baxley could have unspooled the narrative in less than two hours, and that's taking King's severe case of logorrhea into consideration.

The acting is subpar. Colm Feore is too theatrical as Lenoge, and Tim Daly is just...bad. Did someone tell him that he was shooting an avant-garde episode of Wings? Needless to say, I didn't care about any of the characters. This flick wasn't a total lemon, though. The last hour is engrossing. The storyline comes full circle. We finally learn Lenoge's intentions, and the ensuing conflict delves into a plethora of interesting themes that solicit viewer participation. I asked myself what I would do if I were in Mike's shoes. Incidentally, I disagreed with his stance, but that's only because I hate children.

I do appreciate the fact that we never really find out who or what Lenoge is. I'm big on monsters that don't fit into a category. Overall, Storm of the Century is watchable. I liked it more than I disliked it, but I wouldn't add it to my collection. Robert Z'Dar says, "Where the hell was Bronson Pinchot???"