Technically, Funland isn't a horror film, but I decided to review it because it will pique the interest of horror fans. I mean, the DVD cover says it all. I'm inclined to sue the crack team of sitcom writers responsible for the script. This is a classic case of false advertising. I'll refrain from summoning these swindlers to court, though. For one, I'm not the litigious type, and at the end of the day, Funland isn't too shabby. I wouldn't call it a must-see cult oddity, but it entertained me on an insipid Wednesday afternoon.

David Lander plays Bruce Burger, a menial clown who serves as the family-friendly mouthpiece for an amusement park. Bruce is unstable. He talks to a puppet, he breaks down in high-pressure situations and he doesn't answer to his birth name. But he means well, which is enough for the altruistic owner of the park. Mr. Burger is allowed to keep his job until the business is bought out by crooked members of a crime syndicate. This sends our greasepainted protagonist spiraling into a deep depression. He is forced to move into a derelict wax museum where he commiserates with ghosts and plots to sabotage his old stomping grounds.

I know what you're thinking. "Dom, how could this not be a horror film?" Easy! It's a comedy, albeit a morbid one. I wasn't expecting to laugh at any of the jokes, but I did. Funland has a warped, wayward sense of humor. Now, I don't want to give the impression that it will leave you in hysterics. There was never a point where I was gasping for air and reaching for a box of tissues, but most of the absurdity on display nestled my funny bone. The third act is actually disturbing. While this rickety rollercoaster refuses to become a full-blown scare pic, it does teeter on the edge of terror.

Could Funland go toe-to-toe with some of the more popular "killer clown" romps? No. No, it could not. If you want gore, suspense, atmosphere...well, let me put it this way. If you want a horror show, don't even flirt with the notion of renting Funland. It's a serviceable black comedy. I don't regret watching it. Hey, I dug Squiggy the Clown (I knew I recognized Lander from somewhere), but this isn't a movie that I'll remember down the line. Visually, it's not particularly indelible. I'll say this much; if the MTV Movie Awards existed in 1987 and had a category for Best Freestyle Rap in a Cafeteria Scene, Funland would have cleaned house.


Parts Unknown #75: Raw

I know I said that I would skip this week's episode of Raw, but...I lied. Well, I didn't lie per se. I reserve the right to change my mind without notice. What good are rights if you don't exercise them?


~ Brand unification? It's about fucking time, even if it's just for the foreseeable future. The only drawback is the fact that the midcard will get lost in the shuffle. I would advise thinning the herd. Talents such as Zack Ryder, The Uso's, Yoshi Tatsu and Drew McIntyre are imperceptibly mismanaged as it is. Will they survive a seditious stretch of upheaval?

~ The barn-burner between Randy Orton and Dolph Ziggler. Skeptics will claim that the United States Champion carried this match, but frankly, The Viper has been on a roll lately. I spent the bulk of 2010 voicing my disdain for Orton's hackneyed gimmick. While his character has remained considerably drab (sporadic freakouts notwithstanding), he has upped the ante where it counts - in the ring. His timing is impeccable. In defiance of a clean loss, Ziggler came out of this bout looking just as strong as his opponent.

~ The Miz and CM Punk worked well together. I don't have anything to add. Sweet powerbomb, Kevin.

~ Air Boom! I dig it. They need more competition, though. And matching tights. They need matching tights.

~ Punk versus Triple H, huh? I'm hearing groans from the IWC (if you're not up on fanboy rigmarole, that stands for "Internet Wrestling Community"), but this surprise announcement doesn't bother me. Punk/Nash was never going to be a slobberknocker for the ages, and besides, what is the point of delaying the inevitable?


~ The main event. I'm sure that it was a decent tag match, but I didn't bother watching it. Lazy filler.

~ Why are The Bella Twins on television? They are not relevant, they are not in contention and most importantly, they are not The Diva's of Doom! I'm not exaggerating when I say that they are the worst female "wrestlers" that I have been exposed to in the last five years. I would rank them below the worm-infested husk of Sensational Sherri.

~ Why are Ziggler and Swagger feuding? They're both heels. The crowd doesn't give a shit.

In other news, R-Truth and John Morrison battled on Superstars. Phooey.


Panels From Beyond the Grave #6

BAT-THING (#1, June 1997)

In 1996, DC and Marvel collaborated on a series of one-shot titles under the banner of Amalgam Comics. Popular superheroes from both universes were joined at the hip to create new characters. For example, Batman was fused with Wolverine to beget Dark Claw. Flash and Ghost Rider coalesced to breathe life into the generic, yet amusing Speed Demon. Finally, Man-Bat and Man-Thing collided to hatch Bat-Thing, the subject of this very review. I'm not terribly familiar with DC's Man-Bat, but I've always been a fan of Marvel's Man-Thing. I appreciate him as a pensive, erratic alternative to Swamp Thing.

It's a shame that this was a stand-alone comic. Out of all of the Amalgam amalgamations, Bat-Thing had the most potential to become a successful series. We are only given a teaspoon of exposition. Members of the mob are turning up dead in the foul streets of Gotham City. The heavies seem to be targeting Francie Sallis, the "widow" of Dr. Kirk Sallis. Kirk was a scientist who dabbled in genetic splicing. After experimenting on himself one too many times, he mutated into a bat...thing. Has he returned to harm his family or to protect them? I'll never tell!

The creature design is swell. It has a pulpy vibe to it, and there are several scenes that would have been right at home in a drive-in flick from the 50's (the dream sequence is wicked). I love the pale, spectral color palette. The moody atmosphere is accentuated by purples and greens that snag your collar and pull you into the Gotham haze. I realize that I have yet to write a negative piece for this column, but I can't help it. It's not my fault that Bat-Thing is a cool motherfucker. Likewise, it's not my fault that this is a sleek, tight debut that should have led to a string of issues where our nocturnal knight in clammy armor crossed paths with the finest villains that Gotham City has to offer.

Now, I had to chip half of a Savage Dragon off of the rating, but it wasn't easy. The dialogue is forced, and the script avails itself of every mob cliche in the known world. Be that as it may, this is a good place to start if you're thinking about raiding the Amalgam library. I'm going to conclude this review with a couple of random thoughts. A) Man-Thing (the movie) is mediocre. The last ten minutes rock, but the first eighty? Cripes, the SyFy Channel is an affront to humanity. 2) I need to revisit Swamp Thing (the movie). If I ever get my VCR up and running, that will be the first tape I watch. It's still shrinkwrapped!



Now that's a fucking album cover! I have a diverse, all-inclusive taste in music. You could say that I have a sundry collection of compact discs (y'know, if you were a douchebag who liked to use fancy words). Hell, I was listening to Tori Amos a few hours ago, but sometimes, I need to listen to something evil. It's what I refer to as a "Satan fix." All metalheads need a "Satan fix" to get through the week. It placates our nerves, and it makes the daily grind of domiciliary burdens seem less...soul-crushing? By the way, don't call your mother a domiciliary burden. Trust me. She'll either be pissed or confused. Or both.

Oh, right. This is supposed to be an album review, isn't it? Witchery is a Swedish band featuring members of Arch Enemy, The Haunted and Opeth. Ex-Marduk frontman Legion handles vocal duties on Witchkrieg, but unfortunately, he purged himself from the line-up earlier this year (ex-Dark Funeral frontman Emperor Magus Caligula has since assumed the role of lead growler). Musically, these fuckers deliver a voltaic cannonade of blackened thrash. They have a unique sound. The only band that I can compare them to is God Dethroned, but even that is a cursory example.

I'll get to the songs in a minute. My favorite aspect of Witchkrieg is the bottom-heavy production. This is explosive stuff. I'm not sure if they played instruments in the studio or if they merely hurled an incendiary bomb at a microphone. The fact that the riffs were written with optimal brutality in mind doesn't hurt matters. Tempos vary, so this set never becomes monotonous. How could it? It runs for 34 minutes, which is a little too short for my liking. I popped it in when I started this review, and it's already on the second spin.

If you're looking to sample this scorching analect of kvltness, I recommend trying "Wearer of Wolf's Skin," "The God Who Fell From Earth," "The Reaver" and "From Dead to Worse" on for size. Witchkrieg is crawling with guest guitar solos, the best being Andy LaRocque's melodic flourish on "From Dead to Worse." Kerry King contributes atonal squeals to the title track. Honestly, he ruins it, but that's just my opinion (the most overrated guitarist in history...oops, did I type that out loud?). It's simple, really; if you dig extreme metal, you'll dig Witchery's Witchkrieg. Generally speaking, it will appease fans of God Dethroned, Kreator, Goatwhore and yeah, probably Slayer.


Album Cover of the Week

I'm bumping up the Album Cover of the Week. Reason being, there is currently a shard of calcium poking the walls of my bladder. I've had plenty of kidney stones before, so it's nothing that I can't handle. All the same, I don't feel like doing anything. Thankfully, the most painful phase is in my rearview mirror, and I should be back tomorrow with a music review.


Geek Out #28

Special thanks to Christian for this clip...Siskel and Ebert reviewed Xtro??? Why? How? What and where? This was a random, bizarre trilogy of sci-fi/horror cheapies. None of the films were related to each other, and yet, they were all directed by the same guy. Go figure. For the record, I dig each entry. Xtro is weird, Xtro 2: The Second Encounter is funny (it's probably the most blatant ripoff of Aliens on the planet) and Xtro 3: Watch the Skies is sleazy. Both Siskel and Ebert bash the original, but they make a few cogent points.


The Black Hole

Ugh. Where do I start? The Black Hole was Disney's answer to Star Wars and 2001: A Space Odyssey. It could have been an entertaining cheese dish, as most cash grabs tend to be amusing in their barefaced stabs at mimicry. But this film dares to be an intellectual meditation on mankind and our dogged impulse to harness science. It actually takes itself seriously. Director Gary Nelson should have approached this project with a b-movie mentality. Taken as a whole (pun may or may not be intended), The Black Hole is a schmaltzy, ostentatious void. It's a rarefaction, a vacuum. Holy shit...it's a black hole!

No, really. There is nothing to it. A "research vessel" finds a deserted ship suspended in gravity. Remember Event Horizon? Replace Sam Neill with a vacant Anthony Perkins, and voila! You have the exposition of The Black Hole. The rest of the synopsis is too convoluted for its own good, and if I was in charge of summarizing plots for the backs of DVD's, that is exactly what I would write. Suffice to say, it involves cheap robots and dozens of matte paintings. These days, major studios outsource when it comes to special effects, but Disney wanted this to be an in-house production.

A poor decision, that. In spite of a cushy budget, the majority of the practical bells and whistles look rancid. I could build a more streamlined robot in my garage. Seriously, whose tupperware did they poach to assemble these fucking things? The most convincing visual effect in the film is the effigy of Anthony Perkins that plays Dr. Alex Durant. I'm assuming that it was fashioned out of particle board. If I didn't know any better, I'd say that they hired Anthony Perkins himself to perform all of those dangerous stunts like staring at the camera and reciting dialogue with the fervor of a fax machine.

Maximilian Schell inhales the scenery as Dr. Reinhardt, our resident mad scientist. He is the only actor who seems to be enjoying himself. In all fairness, the climax is halfway stirring. Whatever momentum that was developed in the third act is ruthlessly demolished by an ambiguous ending that leaves the viewer scratching his/her head (and balls/clitoris). Did they actually believe that they were crafting high art? I wish I could recommend The Black Hole, but I can't. I just can't. Rent Event Horizon instead. Now that's a sentence I wasn't expecting to type today.



Yeah, I was going to post a movie review today, but it's not ready because I fell asleep during the movie. Negative review coming tomorrow.


Parts Unknown #74: Raw

I might skip Raw next week. I need a break. I don't need a break from writing, mind you. I just need a break from the WWE. I'm getting fed up with this. Back in the day, there was one roster, one pool of talent. It was a simpler time. Nowadays, there are too many guys who deserve a push, which means that the main event picture is a muddled imbroglio. Yes, that's a word, and it's fucking appropriate.


~ The Del Rio/JoMo match. It was given enough time, and even though we knew that The Prince of Parkour was destined for a loss, the nearfalls were well-executed.

~ Eve's redemption. She seems to work better with lousy wrestlers. That is one sick neckbreaker.

~ Punk's promos. What else is new?

~ I would have had Bourne/Kingston win the tag titles at Night of Champions, but whatever. This division is taking shape. I'm digging the friction between Otunga/McGillicutty and Jerry "The King" Lawler. A solid tag team division thrives on non-title feuds.

~ Miz and Truth...instant heel tag team. Their segment was all over the place, but that's the way it should be. It fits their characters.


~ Del Rio should not be the WWE Champion. John Cena should not be the number one contender. How can an angle deteriorate so quickly? Cena/Punk is the feud that everyone cares about. It's the feud that made Money in the Bank a resounding success. It's the feud that implicates the top wrestlers on Raw. Road Warrior Animal's annoying brother and a car crash conspiracy? Fuck you.

~ If Vickie Guerrero is slated to manage a stable of dastardly heels, then book it already. Stop fucking around.

~ Where the cunt is Drew McIntyre???

I'm not happy.


I was born a poor black child...

First of all, click HERE. I could put a permanent link on the right side of the page, but it would be easy to ignore and forget about. So you'll have to put up with me whoring myself out on occasion. I'm also using this update to remind everyone that I'll be posting my review of Creepshow early next week. I'm treating it like its special because it will probably be longer than my usual reviews.

You can expect to see a pair of music reviews in the near future. I can only keep those Abbath ratings under lock and key for brief increments of time before they run rampant. Don't tell anyone, but there is a warrant for their arrest in 36 states.


Album Cover of the Week



I found it! What have I found? Quite possibly one of the best films of all time...Spookies. This is a crapshoot from 1986 with a sordid production history. The acting is inept, the effects are cheap and the plot is a heedless goulash of extraneous characters who die in radically random ways. The script has no sense of direction. To an outsider, Spookies is shit. And I'm not saying that outsiders are wrong; I'm saying that the three unfortunate auteurs who were hired to direct this rummage (yes, three) perfected the b-movie formula. The phrase "so bad, it's good" is popular amongst horror fans. Well, dear readers...Spookies is so bad, it's perfect.

Originally dubbed Twisted Souls, this project was abandoned during the editing stage. Genie Joseph (Auteur #3) was asked to sort through hours of footage and come up with a new movie. After deciding that she could only use 45 minutes of the aborted creepshow, she was given a modest budget to shoot another 45 minutes. The catch? She had to audition a new cast and crew. In other words, she would have to devise a new storyline to utilize the fresh faces, and it would have to mesh with the old storyline. The end result is Spookies, which is basically two different films stitched together.

Honestly, I thought the editing was clever, and while it was obvious that I was watching a patchwork, the shady roots of this haunted hayride didn't hinder my viewing experience. That's not why I love Spookies, though. Hmm, how can I explain this? Spookies is what I see when I close my eyes and envision the ultimate b-movie. If I were to make a braindead schlocktail, this is what it would look like. If you've read a decent amount of my reviews, you know that I "heart" monsters, right? Okay, Spookies is full (and I mean FULL) of monsters. Most of the miscreants on display don't fit into a category (e.g. vampires, werewolves, etc.). That's an added bonus, in my book.

The fun doesn't stop there. We get fog, a full moon, a graveyard and an eerie score to top things off. I know I said that this was the perfect b-movie, but when you're dealing with b-movies, perfection is flawed. The ending drags a bit. I'm not sure how an undead princess can elude hordes of zombies. But that's a trivial grievance. Spookies is about as perfect as a b-movie from the 80's can be. If you want to own a copy, you'll have to settle for VHS (unless you have a region-free DVD player). I don't get it. It's 2011. Where the fuck is my Spookies DVD???


Panels From Beyond the Grave #5

Here is another review from my pal, Bob(by) Ignizio. I'll whip up another comic review next week, but for now, enjoy the fifth panel from beyond the grave...

DETECTIVE COMICS (#881, October 2011)

Batman is one of the few mainstream superheroes who lends himself well to horror. Since Scott Snyder took over the writing duties on Detective Comics just shy of a year ago, he's taken a grittier, more noir-ish approach to the character with current Batman Dick Grayson actually living up to the comic's title and doing some honest-to-goodness detective work. The horror has come in through a secondary plotline involving Commissioner Gordon's son, James, who it turns out is a cold-blooded sociopath. Combined, these two separate threads have defined Snyder's run on the series, as have both artists he's worked with during that time. In issue #881, everything comes together for a satisfying finale.

As the issue begins, James has his sister Barbara (the former Batgirl, now Oracle) held captive, and Dick and Commissioner Gordon finally know without a shadow of a doubt that James is a serial killer. Dick races against the clock to stop this bad seed in the Gordon family tree. Meanwhile, James tells sister Barbara of his plot to put a drug into baby formula that will make the children exposed to it grow up to be sociopaths like him.

The scenes between James and Barbara are illustrated by Francesco Francavilla in a somewhat retro style that reminds me of Darwyn Cooke's work. The portions of the story involving Batman and the Commissioner are by Jock, who has an equally distinctive but more action-oriented style. Both styles not only work very well with their respective plotlines, but actually mesh with each other quite well.

When Dick and James have their final showdown, James makes a compelling case for why the former Robin and Nightwing just doesn't cut it as Gotham City's Dark Knight: he's too nice, too willing to see the good in people, and just not capable of waging the sort of relentless war on crime that Bruce Wayne did. The point is further driven home by the ambiguous ending of the issue. It's entirely possible that Dick failed to stop James from carrying out his plan. Only time will tell.

Dick clearly made some mistakes, but I'm not sure that I agree with James that he makes a lousy Batman. In fact, I've quite enjoyed his tenure under the cowl. But anyone who has been reading comics more than a month or two knew from the moment that Bruce Wayne “died” that he'd be back as the one true Batman sooner or later. He's been sharing the mantle with Dick since his resurrection, but evidently, Dick goes back to being Nightwing next month when DC comics relaunches all their titles. At least Grayson's final issue wearing his mentor's costume turned out to be a really good one.


Matches That Time Forgot #14

This is the first Undertaker match that I've culled for this column. The Last Outlaw doesn't work a full schedule anymore, but in the early days, he was a wrestling machine. Due to his exacting itinerary, the majority of his matches were feckless, inconsequential midcard jousts against the most random heels that Vince's daffy roster had to offer. Thus, they were...forgotten. This is a bout from the first season of Monday Night Raw. See The Phenom clash with Samu of The Headshrinkers!

A couple of notes...at one point, Taker pulls out a fucking dropkick. I can't recall any other matches where he executes a fucking dropkick, though I could be mistaken. Despite a major botch within the first minute, this is a fun fight. The Headshrinkers are one of my favorite tag teams from the 90's. The New Headshrinkers were just as gnarly, but they never received a true push. Vince was eager to give Fatu a singles run, and I understand why.


The Spiral Staircase

It's been too long since I have enjoyed a hushed suspense thriller from the golden age of cinema. I will never understand the aversion to black-and-white films that certain people harbor in their unwillingness to escape modern diversionary tactics. The art of suggestion is too much for their brains to handle, I suppose. These movies require you to fill in the blanks. Personally, I need to watch antiquated genre goodies like 1945's The Spiral Staircase to reboot my hard drive in between viewings of sleazy Eurotrash quickies and brazen splatter romps. It reshuffles my deck, so to speak. Speaking of speaking...

God, that was a tragic segue. Let's see if I can bounce back from the depths of deplorable word play. Staircase follows Helen, a mute nurse who looks after the bedridden mother of the Warren boys (no, not the Warner boys). Professor Warren, the older and more sensible brother, has taken extra precautions to ensure the safety of our voiceless heroine. He has instructed the staff of his ornate mansion to see to it that Helen is never alone. Why all the hubbub? Because on this dark and stormy night, an unseen killer is stalking young women, young disabled women. The authorities believe that our Helen could be the next victim.

Meanwhile, autistic werewolves are raping patio furniture and vandalizing lighthouses in the name of Wink Martindale. NOTE: Portions of this synopsis have been fabricated for comedic effect. As for which portions are trustworthy, you'll just have to rely on your gut instinct. Ethel Barrymore was nominated for an Academy Award for her performance as the sickly matriarch, but in my opinion, Dorothy McGuire is the star of the show. Her mostly silent turn as Helen is phenomenal. She conveys more emotion with thoughtful, calculated facial expressions than some actors can muster with a script full of rambling dialogue.

The Spiral Staircase is definitely a film that you want to watch on DVD. The cinematography is exquisite, and the lighting is surgically precise (you can see a great deal of detail during the nighttime exterior shots). Director Robert Siodmak does a bang-up job of creating tension in the third act, even though the whodunit reveal is somewhat predictable. The plot holes will eat away at your psyche if you think about them too much. But this flick wasn't meant to be dissected. It was meant to be screened on a dark, stormy night while you cuddle with your main squeeze and devour popcorn. "Dark" and "stormy" are awesome adjectives.


Parts Unknown #73: Raw

Apart from the main event and a dazzling CM Punk promo, this was a lackluster episode of Raw.


~ The Falls Count Anywhere match between R-Truth and John Morrison. They utilized key spots in the arena to craft a tight, yet brutal brawl. I don't know if the win helped Nitro any (the guy is on autopilot), but hopefully, he's just getting warmed up.

~ The Diva's of Doom...I could see them contending for the tag titles. They would wipe the floor with Otungacutty.

~ Kevin Nash seems to be rusty on the mic, but Punk salvaged a dubious segment. I marked for the Oz/Vinnie Vegas references because I'm that kind of wrestling fan. This little exchange proved that the best bits of "sports entertainment" are unscripted.

~ Stephanie! So good to see you.

~ The tag team contest involving Otungacutty and Bourne/Kingston. The latter team reminds me of a modern day 1-2-3 Kid/Bob Holly. They are a convenient pairing who would look dapper with belts around their waists. If they become a legitimate tag team, they will remind me of a modern day High Energy. As a matter of fact, they should wear High Energy's ring attire (YouTube it, bitches).

~ The main event. Immense kudos to Rey Mysterio for working through a dozen injuries.


~ I didn't want all of the answers, but I wanted more than what we were handed. Triple H's promo was a BBB (Big Bag of Blah...I came up with that). I'm not crazy about where this angle is heading. The unpredictability is still there, but I'm not as engrossed as I was two weeks ago.

~ The Subway advertisement. Fuck off. It's so obvious that they have no clue what to do with The Miz right now. Unite the fucking brands already. There are too many heels on Raw.

~ The Riley/Swagger match. The commentary was awkward and confusing. Oh, and A-Ri is back in my doghouse. Send his ass to FCW.

On an encouraging note, The Young Bucks had a WWE tryout match. Fingers crossed!


Album Cover of the Week


Body Melt

Released in 1993, Body Melt is an Australian horror/comedy hybrid starring Australian soap stars. It has a distinct Australian sense of humor, and most Australian genre buffs hold it in high esteem. I've read reviews that put this film on the same pedestal that hoists up splatter classics like Dead Alive and Bad Taste. Hell, it could be mistaken for a Peter Jackson goregasm, but I want to make one thing clear: Body Melt is no Dead Alive. I won't belittle the opinions of those who enjoy the shit out of this sick sliver of Ozploitation, but it doesn't have the wide-reaching appeal of PJ's early output.

Should I explain why? Okay, I will. There is no main character. Body Melt hops back and forth between plot threads that have nothing to do with one another. We spend a negligible amount of time with each person, but we don't learn anything about them. I would compare it to The Grudge, only the script is slapdash and the characters' lives never intersect in a meaningful way. "But Dom, this movie doesn't take itself seriously!" Trust me, hypothetical polemicist; I could tell. Camp is not a crutch. You can't use it to excuse away the fact that your low-budget grindhouse feature doesn't make sense.

And that's another thing. Body Melt doesn't make any fucking sense! I comprehend the nuts and bolts of the premise. A corporation is testing experimental drugs on unwitting consumers. The drug turns you inside out, and in essence, you melt. I get the gist of it. Everything outside of the gist? I don't get. Why did the two stoner "dudes" stop at the farm? Why did they hang out with the inbred freaks? Who is the homeless girl, and why does she have a collection of human ribs? How did the corporation (I'm sure it has a name) distribute these drugs? Wouldn't the first report of an EXPLODING HEAD prompt a decline in sales?

Logistics aside, Body Melt failed to enthuse me when it wasn't busy spraying goo in my general direction. I didn't laugh at the sight gags. Maybe you have to be Australian to appreciate this flick's comedic aspects. You don't have to be Australian to appreciate the special effects, and I'll give credit where credit is due. The bloodshed is sensational. At one point, a child dies a ridiculous, over-the-top death. Yippee! So Body Melt isn't boring. Be that as it may, I couldn't wait for it to end. It's a scattershot jumble of one-dimensional characters and half-baked concepts that rarely stimulate any traction. Man, I need to dust off my copy of Bad Taste.


Geek Out #27

This is one of my favorite films of all time. Strangely enough, I've never reviewed it in the ten years that I have plied my trade as a "professional" writer. In the coming weeks, I will finally jot down my thoughts on Creepshow. Has it been discussed to death? You bet! That's one of the reasons why I waited so long to cover it. Still, it's a review that needs to be written.

PS ~ The 7-day forecast for your area (i.e. Random Reviews Incorporated) is calling for a drizzle of movie reviews, another edition of Panels From Beyond the Grave and my usual Raw harangue. Here again, I'll be focusing on movie reviews. If you behave, I might even post one tomorrow night!


Parts Unknown #72: Impact Wrestling

I'm taking the plunge. I haven't reviewed a TNA show in over a year, but in the interest of keeping this column fresh, I decided to appraise Impact Wrestling as of August 2011. Since the arbitrary name change, the creative team has made subtle improvements to the structure of their flagship program. All in all, the writing is still messy. This shit reeks of Vince Russo.


~ For what it's worth, Mickie James pulled a decent match out of Madison Rayne. Aside from Tara, she is the most talented Knockout that TNA has to offer.

~ The BFG Series contest involving Pope/Devon, Beer Money and RVD/Styles. Again, I don't see how tag matches gel with the established rules of this tournament, but nonetheless, this was an energetic burst of wrestling. I marked out for Robert Roode's Perfect Plex.

~ I appreciate the fact that Tara and Miss Tessmacher are presenting themselves as a genuine tag team. Sadly, they are one of the few bright spots of a depleted division.

~ Finally! The X Division has a weight limit. It's going to take awhile to develop these new faces into actual characters, but things are looking up for the cruiserweights. Love Austin Aries as the fawning, obsequious heel.

~ I can't believe that I'm saying this, but Jeff and Karen Jarrett's Mexican endorsement was an entertaining segment. The Lopez brothers rule. I hope that wasn't the last we'll ever see of them. Hector Guerrero could be their manager. How awesome does that sound?


~ Too many turns. Anderson is turning face (after being a heel for a few weeks), Abyss is turning face, Kurt Angle is turning heel...I hate to be repetitive, but this is Russo Booking 101. Just stop.

~ So Sting and Dixie Carter knew about the affair? This is the kind of "soap opera" bullshit that pauperized the industry.

~ The Robbie E/Brian Kendrick match. It had no flow, and Cookie's ceaseless interference was a fatal drawback.

~ No one gives a fuck about Immortal.

This episode of Impact Wrestling wasn't entirely abominable, but it will be awhile before I revisit my friends at TNA.


In a Glass Cage

I hope you enjoy this review. Most writers would have called it a day by now. If I didn't love you so much (who the hell am I talking to?), I would have no qualms about leaving my canvas blank and retiring to my sleep chamber. But this website won't update itself. To tell you the truth, I'm a little under the weather. I'm in a sour mood, and I doubt that I'll feel any better after dissecting In a Glass Cage. This isn't the kind of film that will perk you up or lift your spirits. It tells the story of Klaus, a Nazi pedophile who becomes a quadriplegic as a result of a failed suicide attempt. Bummer.

There is a scene where Klaus's teenaged caretaker masturbates and ejaculates onto his face. The paralyzed pervert is helpless, what with him being in an iron lung and all. I could relate to Klaus. I felt helpless as this film shot its unpleasant load onto my sneering countenance. Glass Cage is fucking depressing. I wasn't prepared for how relentlessly bleak it was. Yes, the synopsis should have tipped me off, but those are just words. Words can't get under your skin like images can. August Underground: Mordum didn't get under my skin. Faces of Gore 2 didn't get under my skin. There is a reason why Glass Cage tapped the nerves that those "shockers" were unable to reach.

It's well-made. Agusti Villaronga's direction is outstanding. Every single set-up is abounding with atmosphere. The soft blue light that spills out over the poster permeates the film itself. If I didn't know any better, I'd say that Glass Cage was shot underwater. Perhaps Villaronga groomed the visuals to compensate for the challenging script. This is a hard movie to watch. As I hinted at earlier, this isn't a weekend rental to pop in at a Halloween party. That doesn't mean you should avoid it at all costs. You probably won't watch it more than once, though.

God, this is such a fickle review. I'm in the fourth paragraph, and I haven't decided how many Z'Dar's In a Glass Cage is worth. Should I recommend it? Decisions, decisions. On one hand, this is clearly an effective mood piece that studies how children respond to sexual abuse. On the other hand, what did I get out of it? I didn't particularly enjoy hanging out with these characters for 108 minutes. The pace is too deliberate at times, and for a period drama, it has zero replay value. Then again, this flick isn't supposed to be a jolly lark. Aw, fuck it. It's about a Nazi pedophile. Do what you want.


Matches That Time Forgot #13

It occurred to me that I have yet to post an ECW match that time forgot. Tonight, I rectify my indiscretion.

This is a bout from the turbulent TNN era that signed ECW's death warrant while simultaneously exposing the company to a wider audience. The four men involved have since walked disparate paths. The Impact Players (Lance Storm and Justin Credible) found moderate success in WWE. Hell, Storm even held a few titles in WCW, though I can't imagine that anyone remembers Team Canada (aside from Canadians, that is). Before joining Paul Heyman's circus of pain, Credible wrestled as Aldo Montoya in the Federation. He once squared off against Jerry "The King" Lawler on Superstars. That should give you a clue as to where he fit on the roster.

Rhyno's best days are behind him. His last run in TNA was simply embarrassing. Chris Candido's best days are behind him, too. But he has a good excuse; he jobbed to God. Ugh, I apologize for the tasteless joke, but you don't get many opportunities to work God into wrestling humor. Anyway, it's a shame that he died at such a young age. The kid was underutilized. He delivered solid matches in spite of goofy gimmicks (did Vince actually think that The Bodydonnas were a viable tag team?). I'll shut up now.


Parts Unknown #71: Raw

Did Triple H dispense antihistamines to the crowd before Raw went live? Jesus Christ, that audience wouldn't have popped for...well, Jesus Christ himself! In their defense, this wasn't a particularly riveting show.


~ The trend of "strong opening/strong ending" continues with one of the better contract signings in wrestling history. I loved the fact that Punk referenced the untimely terminations of Vladimir Koslov and Chris Masters. They need to be careful, though. I don't want to see a worked shoot every time I switch to WWE television. They don't want to go too far with it either. I think that John Cena's use of insider jargon was pushing it. Prepubescent members of the Cenation everywhere turned to their parents last night and asked, "What's a heel?"

~ R-Truth's backstage interview. He should face The Royal Spider at Wrestlemania 28.

~ The match between The Miz and Kofi Kingston. Also, the match between CM Punk and Alberto Del Rio. I'm lumping them together because they both featured clean finishes. No interference, no run-in, no hijinx...the right guy went over in the right manner.

~ The SummerSlam flashback. I believe that the choice of clip was intentional. If you've been paying attention to Smackdown, you know that Cody Rhodes has been in pursuit of the Intercontinental Championship. Maybe it's just wishful thinking, but from where I sit, it looks like Triple H is aiming to restore prestige to the IC strap.


~ Eve Torres is talented, but her quarrel with Beth Pheonix was a slovenly misadventure. The timing was off and the botches were blatant. Did you hear the piercing silence after Kelly Kelly's ambush? This is why you can't force a heel turn. At least on Smackdown, the babyface (AJ) has a personality.

~ Dear fucking God, find a less irritating way to create friction between Dolph and Vickie.

Don't be fooled by the prevalence of "pros." This was a forgettable episode of Raw. Since I'm a method writer, I tried to make this review as forgettable as humanly possible.


Video Violence

This is the second release from Camp Motion Pictures that I've reviewed for the site (the first being Splatter Farm). As I'm sure you can surmise, Camp is a DVD distribution shingle that specializes in issuing handheld exploitation films onto the digital media market. They have compiled Special Editions for such z-grade classics as Woodchipper Massacre, Cannibal Campout and Ghoul School. These guys do their homework. All of their DVD's are stacked with extras, and the transfers are relatively spotless, considering the source. Now, I have seen my fair share of shot-on-video bloodbaths. Trust me when I tell you that I have licked the bottom of the barrel on more than one occasion. That's why I'm delighted to transmit my infatuation with Video Violence across the wires.

Steven operates an independent video store in a small town tucked away in the pancreas of America. He hasn't been there long. In fact, he packed up his wife and relocated from New York a few weeks before the events in Video Violence take place. He notices strange things about the people who frequent his rental joint. For starters, the only genres that his customers seem to be interested in are porn and horror. Every household owns a VCR (younger readers should know that this wasn't commonplace in 1987), and the local authority figures are imbecilic blockheads that scoff at suppositions of murder.

The fecal matter grazes the air-conditioning unit when a blank tape is left in the store's overnight dropbox. Out of curiosity, Steven's sole employee pops the video into a VCR. It appears to be an authentic snuff reel, the kind that Nic Cage would jerk off to while wearing a gimp mask. That's right. You can add Video Violence to a list of snuff-oriented flicks that includes Snuff, Hardcore, 8MM, Thesis and A Serbian Film. Unlike those titles, however, this low-budget production doesn't try to shock the skin off of your bones or play with your emotions. Writer/director Gary Cohen just wants to entertain you. If you ask me, he succeeded with flying colors. I never understood that figure of speech, but it describes Video Violence to a T.

Art Neill is believable as Steven. This might sound like bullshit, but he gives the best performance that I've ever seen in a shot-on-video splatter spectacle. He comes off as natural, which is something I can't say for the entire cast of Splatter Farm. Steven is likeable. Most viewers will relate to his plight, as we learn secrets when he does. I was confused for the bulk of the film's running time and so was he. Video Violence proves that you don't need money to write an intriguing script. You do need money to create convincing special effects, though.

I won't deduct too many points for the bogus gore. The crew worked with finite resources. In all likelihood, the pig viscera and prosthetic heads that moistened the camera lens made Lloyd Kaufman jealous. Any major complaints? Not really. The pacing is virgin-tight, the score is menacing (cool soundtrack, by the way) and the ending is beautifully macabre. I doubt that I'll cover Video Violence 2, but I recommend purchasing Camp's "double feature" DVD. Actually, strike that. Pick 'em up on VHS!