Geek Out #34

HAPPY THANKSGIVING! Next year, I'm dressing up as a drug-addled turkey monster.


Album Cover of the Week


Long Weekend

I celebrate Halloween every day, but that doesn't stop me from living All Hallow's Eve to the fullest. These are my plans for the next two days...

19) Squeeze in a viewing of Spookies. I am officially starting a tradition, one that requires me to sit down and soak up this spooktacular epic on an annual basis.

36) There is a house in my neighborhood that decorates the shit out of itself every Halloween (the house doesn't actually decorate itself, but you get the idea). It has become a local hot spot, an attraction that attracts hordes of jumpy children/teenagers. This year, I'll be part of the show. The game plan is to hand out candy and scare the Christ out of a few unsuspecting trick-or-treaters. I'll be dressed up as Jigsaw. Whenever I wear a mask, kids usually assume that I'm a prop, so it should be fun chasing after them.

4) Post the Album Cover of the Week.

90) Eat candy.

I have cool stuff scheduled for next week. Stay tuned...IF YOU DARE!


House II: The Second Story

House is one of the best horror/comedy hybrids of all time. It shouldn't surprise anyone that it garnered its own bundle of sequels. Likewise, it shouldn't surprise anyone that House II: The Second Story is a wobbly, domesticated version of the original. I'll comment on parts three and four later, but for right now, let's stick with the second...story (damn, I was trying to sidestep obvious jokes). This flick embraces comedic stylings over any other genre. In fact, the horror elements are muffled by booming, obstreperous peals of fantasy, adventure and cartoonish slapstick. If this wasn't a sequel to House, I wouldn't even consider reviewing it for the site.

The plot is a mess. Some milktoast twentysomething named Jesse (as portrayed by John Cusack lookalike Arye Gross) inherits a creepy manor with a tragic past. He discovers that there may be treasure buried beneath the property, but before he can make headway, his friends crash the place to throw a housewarming party. Ugh, it would take forever to run through each and every beat. In a nutshell, Jesse wakes up his undead great grandfather. They unearth a crystal skull (yeah), and in consequence, they contend with dinosaurs, ancient Aztecs and a zombie cowboy.

I have several problems with House II. For starters, the script doesn't make any sense. What's with the barking caterpillar? Why do they keep the baby Pteradactyl as a pet? If the crystal skull is so fucking important, why do they insist on leaving it unguarded in plain sight? If the skull grants you immortality, then why does Gramps die? And why does the zombie cowboy need the skull? Apparently, he didn't need it to rise from the grave and split a kitchen table in half. I realize that I'm thinking too much, but you have time to think when you're not laughing or being entertained.

That's another thing. House II isn't funny. The bromidic gags can be attributed to the PG-13 rating. This is one safe movie. To be honest, it could have been rated PG. It's not an outright pile-up, though. The special effects are rather inviting. John Ratzenberger kicks ass in his limited role, and while his character is a walking question mark (no, really...who in the blue fuck is he supposed to be?), his scenes brought a stupid grin to my face. Still, skip House II: The Second Story if you can help it. I am proud to own House III: The Horror Show and House IV on VHS. They're not exactly prizewinners, but they clobber this tame fable.

A poor man's The Frighteners.


Matches That Time Forgot #20

WWE programming is currently being besmirched by a jackhole named John Laurinitis. Younger fans will only know Johnny as an authority figure with the hoarse croak of a chain-smoking mummy, but smart marks know better. That's right. We know Johnny as a mediocre wrestler with the hoarse croak of a chain-smoking mummy. One of his early gigs found him tagging with Shane Douglas in a trailblazing collective dubbed The Dynamic Dudes. They toiled away in WCW's tag team division during an era where tag teams mattered. Here, they battle The New Zealand Militia.

It's easy to poke fun at the Dudes, what with their kitschy ring attire and their useless skateboards (guys, skateboards tend to lose their "cool" when you carry them everywhere). However, I'll be the first prick to acknowledge the fact that this is a seamless, fast-paced match that keeps the crowd content. It's obvious that they were supposed to be WCW's answer to The Rockers, but there is nothing inherently wrong with that. The Militia is managed by former NWA Midget Champion Lord Littlebrook. Full disclosure...I don't know much about these gentlemen. I do know that they became The Royal Family in 1990.

Dig the Cornette run-in!


It's Alive ('08)

I spotted the remake of It's Alive at K-Mart, and since it was only five bucks, I thought it would be interesting to see how it compared to the original. The 1974 "killer baby" flick is a sentimental favorite of mine. I'm a big Larry Cohen fan. I knew that he had been trying to get an updated version of his eco-friendly cult classic off of the ground, but I wasn't sure how much of his vision had to be compromised in order to nudge this project past the planning stages (or the first trimester, if you prefer). Well, I watched the revamp last night, and despite his screenwriting credit, I feel safe in assuming that the bulk of Cohen's tidings were siphoned from the script.

The final product does not resemble a Larry Cohen production. The pervasive social commentary of the original has been abridged and boiled down to a single line of dialogue, an obligatory reference to abortion (oooh, how topical). The tension is non-existent. The emotional resonance? Left for dead. We barely know these people. But even if you remove the source material from the equation, this is still a tepid excuse for a horror film. The pace is too hectic. By the 30-minute mark, our expectant mother has already multiplied, and her warped whippersnapper has already stalked his first victim.

1974's It's Alive took its time. The characters were reasonably developed before the b-movie shenanigans kicked into high gear. We understood why Lenore had such a deep connection to her mutant offspring. Here, those maternal bonds are only hinted at in the most ham-fisted ways imaginable. Bijou Phillips turns in a competent performance, although her crying isn't very convincing. James Murray is passable as Frank, but he has absolutely nothing to work with. No one does. The acting isn't the problem. I could put up with theatrical blubbering if I cared about the spooky happenings and the players involved.

The worst thing about this remake is the lazy, laughable CGI. Now, I know that there was enough room in the budget for practical effects, so why settle? It's just a fucking baby. You don't need a computer to craft presentable puppetry. The rest of the film is gorgeous. The cinematography is polished, the Bulgarian scenery is arresting and the editing is sharp. Don't they realize that the pretty packaging is cheapened by ridiculous digital hokum? I'll concede that 2008's It's Alive might be fun to watch with friends. It's certainly not the most offensive remake that I've seen, but I needed an epidural to power through it.


Parts Unknown #84: Raw

I'll be perfectly honest with you. I didn't bother sitting through the last 30 minutes of Raw, but I do know what happened. I'm really starting to lose my patience here. This column has become perfunctory. I don't see myself dropping Raw from my review schedule (it's still better than Impact Wrestling), but Jeepers Christ. Get your shit together, Vince/HHH/Stephanie.


~ I enjoyed the opening segment, but only because it was unintentionally hysterical. The histrionics (foaming at the mouth???), the ambulance, the overacting extras...I felt like I was watching a silent melodrama from the 20's.

~ The tag match between Sheamus/Rattleviper and Mr. Cage/The Guy Banging Layla was excellent. On the downside, this is a match that we've seen before. When Raw opens with a match that would normally headline Smackdown, you know you're in trouble. Careless booking.

~ CM Punk laying into Johnny Ace. I loved the fact that he was basically shooting. Everything he said was true.

~ Wade Barrett scoring a clean pinfall. I have to hand it to JoMo. He may be in the doghouse, but he is responding to his licks with professionalism. If he sticks around and wins a match, it will actually mean something.


~ Did Dolph Ziggler achieve anything by beating Santino? At least let him go over on a credible opponent. Mason Ryan's run-in reeked of "you're supposed to cheer for me." If Zack Ryder doesn't win the United States Championship at Survivor Series (in his hometown), I'm going to punch my godmother's cunt. Don't worry; I don't even know who my godmother is, so I couldn't possibly offend her.

~ The Diva's division, ladies and gentleman...the heels get no reaction and the babyfaces get no reaction. Alicia Fox looked cute. I'm in her corner?

~ The Cole challenge. I do not give a single fuck.

~ And John Cena's partner is...not here.

I can't fucking believe that the major feud in the WWE involves Triple H and Kevin Nash. It's no different than building a PPV around a "fight" between Sting and Hulk Hogan.


Clandestine - THE INVALID

When I opened this compact disc, a press card fell out of the inlay. It touts Clandestine as a melange of Evanescence, Dream Theater, Fair to Midland, Rush, Lacuna Coil, Tool and Between the Buried and Me. Often times, record labels get carried away with hyperbolic write-ups, but in the case of Clandestine, the promotional material is spot on. If you like any of the aforementioned bands, you're going to have fun with The Invalid. This is one of the best debut albums that I've heard in a long time. No, I wasn't cajoled by the record label. I'm genuinely enamored by these guys and their blue-haired frontwoman.

Blue-haired frontwoman...hmm, where have I heard that before? No doubt, comparisons will be made to The Agonist, and I can see why. In my eyes, Clandestine is superior. As talented as Alissa White-Gluz is, she focuses too much on implementing a routine, banausic metalcore bark. June Parks sticks to mid-to-upper range clean vocals. Don't get the wrong impression; she screams bloody murder when the music calls for it, but I would wager that 90% of the singing is just that - singing. She also abstains from taking the operatic route, a cliche that lost its luster right around the time that Nightwish released Wishmaster.

Admittedly, a couple of tracks flirt with the frustrating redolence of Hot Topic metal (you know what I'm talking about). Lead single "Disappear in You" feels a tad formulaic, which explains why it was chosen to be the lead single. Elsewhere, you'll find a fresh batch of catchy, technical slam dunks that stick to your ribs. The chaotic "Philistine" is the song most likely to appeal to habitual metalheads. "Silent Sin" could be a hit on the radio if, y'know, the radio didn't suck Rodan's craggy, corrugated cock. Other highlights include "Pretend," "Fracture," "Phantom Pain" and the dynamic title track.

The Invalid is swarming with dulcet melodies and unearthly time signatures. It's uncanny how Clandestine combines the intricacies of progressive rock/metal with bright vocal lines that you are bound to hum to yourself over and over again. They make it look easy, but it's not. The only advice that I would give to such a promising band (since they asked and all) would be to add more guitar solos. That's just me being picky, though. If you need something new and fresh to listen to, check out The Invalid. Did I mention that June Parks was Asian? I thought I'd throw that out there. What? I'm allowed to inveigle any fetish freaks who may be visiting my site.


Album Cover of the Week


Geek Out #33

I try to avoid posting anything seasonal on the site, as it wouldn't be very random of me. Random Reviews Incorporated exists within its own bubble. For example, I would never review Elves or Black Christmas in December. How predictable would that be? But since there is an exception to every rule, I'm winking to the outside world with today's Geek Out video. Just this once! I won't let it happen again.

Please enjoy this campy intro from Halloween Havoc '93. Why can't WWE have a horror-themed PPV?


Damage Control Inc.

"Yeah, when I heard Lou mumble into the microphone, I knew we had something special."

I entertained the thought of reviewing Lulu, but no. Just no. I can't listen to it more than once. For those blissfully unaware, Lulu is a collaboration between Metallica and Lou Reed. The music is interesting. It's methodical in the way that it builds tension with grinding riffs and desperate melodies. But any atmosphere that seeps through your speakers is illicitly defiled by Reed's droning spoken word bullshit. My God. He stammers over every note, every refrain, every respite...he pisses on what could have been a listenable foray into experimental art rock.

And the lyrics! Mother of fuck. I'm sure that pretentious coxcombs the world over find the "prose" on Lulu to be deep and esoteric, but it comes across as affected swill. Chew on this passage from "Little Dog."

A puny body and a tiny dick
A little dog can make you sick

If you got the money, you can go to the top
The female dog don't care what you got
As long as you can raise that
Little doggie face to a cold-hearted pussy
You could have a taste

All I can do is sigh. The only track that almost works is "Pumping Blood." Wait, this doesn't count as a review, does it? I said that I wouldn't review Lulu, and I meant it! I'll post a real music review this weekend (perhaps Sunday). I'm off to spin Ride the Lightning.


Countess Dracula

It's common knowledge that Hammer struggled to stay abreast of mounting trends in the 70's. Gothic horror was old hat. They did what they could to placate a fickle fanbase. Moviegoers were growing more wanton and blood-hungry by the minute. Ultimately, Hammer was forced to close its doors anyway, but not before meting out a handful of racy b-movies. While the stately studio didn't produce many esteemed classics during the decade that spawned disco (way to go, America), we were left with a dusting of agreeable odds and ends. I was going to call them "scraps," but that wouldn't be very nice. After all, I quite like The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires, Frankenstein and the Monster From Hell and Vampire Circus.

Countess Dracula isn't too shabby either. Despite the title, this film has nothing to do with vampires. Chalk it up to boorish marketing. The plot is actually inspired by Elizabeth Bathory. That name should ring a bell, but if it doesn't, I'll just say that Liz was an insane occultist who believed that bathing in the blood of virgins restored her youth (Wikipedia is your friend). In Countess, Ingrid Pitt plays the Bathory role to perfection. Once she realizes that the spilled plasma of a chambermaid has taken twenty years off of her skin, she fleeces those below her (servants, peasants, etc.) by posing as her daughter. She has her real daughter kidnapped. Why, I never!

Granted, I haven't seen every film that Pitt has appeared in, but that won't stop me from proclaiming that this was the finest performance of her career. She carries the bulk of this bloodletter. It was an absolute joy staring at her through various stages of undress. Honorable mentions go out to Nigel Green and Sandor Eles who fare well as an invidious castle steward and a simple-minded soldier, respectively. It's probably not necessary for me to sing the praises of the art director. It's implied that every Hammer production boasts lush set designs. Aw, fuck it...the art direction is superb!

The pace does falter towards the tail end of Countess. I don't mean to sound like a teenybopper with A.D.D., but the second half needs a jolt of caffeine (a jump scare here, a stalk sequence there). Horror of Dracula seems fidgety and industrious by comparison. The title is the only other aspect of Countess Dracula that bothers me, and I've already been down that road. Now is a good time to stop typing, I suppose. The bottom line...Hammer had plenty to offer in the 70's. I have a feeling that I'm preaching to the choir. Oh well, I had to use this imaginary altar at some point.


Visiting Hours

As much as I enjoy the freeform jazz standard, "Fuck the Police," there is something to be said for law enforcement. I'll give you an example. If you know that there is a psychopath at your house, and you know that he has your daughter, it's safe to say that a cop would come in handy (provided that the cop is packin' heat, yo). So you call 911. Reinforcements arrive. This is common sense, right? You would think. And yet, every petite blonde in a slasher attempts to demobilize a knife-wielding madman on her own. Ah, yes. That inbred necrophiliac will be bamboozled by Stacy's bantam frame of 103 pounds.

Look, I understand that most horror films wouldn't exist if the characters made sensible decisions, but Visiting Hours takes "The Stupid Heroine" to another level. The third act hinges on an endearing nurse named Sheila being a few peas short of a casserole. Mercifully, insufferable leads don't spoil the product as a whole. If you'll notice, I gave this flick a gracious rating. Why did I begin by focusing on the negatives? Fuck if I know. These things tend to write themselves. The fact is, Visiting Hours is a sleek, startling motion picture that follows in the lurid footsteps of other "hospital horror" romps such as Halloween II and The Hospital.

Deborah is an anchorwoman who inadvertently stirs up a great deal of shit when she weighs in on a controversial court case. She speaks out in support of a woman who murdered her abusive husband in self-defense. This offhand spate of social commentary doesn't sit well with Colt, a misogynistic crackpot who takes it upon himself to stalk Deborah and kill everyone around her. Michael Ironside gives a chilling performance as the stoic heavy. The man was born to play evil motherfuckers. Lee Grant is solid as Deborah, but it's Linda Purl who serves as the film's emotional center. Surprisingly, the script does a terrific job of balancing two main characters. It doesn't hurt that Purl is cuter than a slice of cutie pie.

The suspense is taut. The violence is gritty and realistic, although I wouldn't call Visiting Hours a gorefest. To be honest, it didn't need buckets of blood to keep my eyes open. Of course, there are lapses in logic that I feel compelled to bitch about. Colt wouldn't be able to get away with snuffing out patients in an actual hospital. As soon as a person's vital signs begin to drop, nurses gather at the corresponding room. I had the same complaint after watching Million Dollar Baby. Maybe that kind of stuff doesn't bother you, but it bothers me. Because I'm an uppity dick. Regardless, I dug Visiting Hours. It's definitely worth a Quikster...I mean, Netflix rental.


Parts Unknown #83: Raw

Raw wasn't as contemptible as the spoilers led me to believe, but the main event scene continues to be a hazard area.


~ The six-man tag match between Sheamus/Orton/Morrison and Henry/Christian/Rhodes. I like how the feuds were clearly defined. Leaving Henry in the ring to decimate an outgoing JoMo made sense. Sweet slam.

~ This is a borderline con, but the Eve/Natalya match was passable. Too bad the crowd didn't give a fuck.

~ Miz and Punk work well together. The Johnny Ace-shaped distraction was unnecessary, though. Does Triple H even know where this angle is going?

~ Heel Ziggler! I must say, his mic skills have come a long way. You can tell that he's having fun out there. His selling against Mason Ryan was top-notch. A decent segment, barring the head-scratcher of a finish (a disqualification doesn't fit).

~ The match could have been more engrossing, but I'm glad that Zack Ryder picked up another victory.


~ Obviously, I fucking hated the main event. Keep the goddamn commentators out of the ring. They should comment ("comment" is a key fucking word) on the storylines from a safe distance. It's so simple. No one needs to see Michael Cole flop around for five minutes. How in the shit did we go from Money in the Bank - one of the best PPV's of all time - to an overweight stroke victim dressed up like a cowboy football player administering the ankle lock to an orange-clad middle-aged bitch?



Matches That Time Forgot #19

I miss shows like Heat, Metal, Jakked and Velocity. They were inconsequential, but they gave us more wrestling to watch on a weekly basis. The undercard was given a chance to shine. Today, NXT and Superstars perform the same function, but they're not on television. In fact, I'm almost positive that Vince McMahon would deny their existence. It's fun to revisit random matches from these shows because every once in awhile, you stumble across a doozy, a veritable humdinger. Take this bout, for instance. John Cena versus Bryan Danielson...circa 2003?

Who knew that these celebrated figures clashed before they became divisive representatives of two very different styles of wrestling? Cena had just whipped out his rapper gimmick. Danielson was a nobody. The match is short, yet decent. It's amusing to watch Cena try to keep up with a spry burst of chain grappling. What's with the mustard yellow ring gear?


Album Cover of the Week

Why can't every month be October?

So I chose to do a movie review instead of covering Smackdown. I will be touching on Raw, though. It needs to be bashed. I've read the spoilers (they're taping in Mexico), and suffice to say, next week will be fairly uninspiring for wrestling fans. You can also expect a few movie reviews. I'm aiming for three, but we'll see how it pans out. I've been in a movie-watching mood as of late, what with it being October and all.

Stay tuned!


Mad Love

Transitioning from low-budget "ghetto horror" to subtle black-and-white scares from the 30's is like leaving Kathy Griffin for Zooey Deschanel. There is no comparison. I've said this before, but it bears repeating. People who refuse to watch anything made before 1970 have no idea what they're missing. I was coveting an old-fangled allotrope of genre cinema, and 1935's Mad Love is just what the (mad) doctor ordered. It's disturbing in a quiet, sophisticated way. It should be regarded as a classic, but MGM has done virtually nothing over the years to keep it fresh in the minds of film buffs. If it had been released by Universal, I doubt that it would be considered a lost gem.

Peter Lorre is usually mentioned in the same breath as Bela Lugosi or Boris Karloff, but as his record illustrates, he didn't appear in many fright flicks (he allegedly detested his horror roles). That should tell you something about the potency of his performances. Here, he plays Dr. Gogol, a private practitioner infatuated with an actress who specializes in Grand Guignol-esque theater productions. He sits in the same balcony seat at every show, and when his object of idolatry screams in anguish during a harrowing scene, he closes his eyes in a moment of sadistic eroticism. If that wasn't enough, he has flowers delivered to her dressing room. And he looks like Peter Lorre, so he's already creepy.

The stunning Frances Drake gives life to Yvonne, the lucky girl at the center of Dr. Gogol's attention. Her pianist husband is maimed in a train crash, and her not-so-secret admirer may be the only surgeon who can help him. I'm not going to recant the entirety of the plot, but it involves a guillotine, an unsettling neck brace (seriously, holy shit) and "idle hands." Ironically, Lorre would later star in The Beast With Five Fingers. It just occurred to me that I need to review The Hand and Idle Hands. Okay, here we go...Michael Caine is cool, and Devon Sawa is annoying. Done and done!

I'm getting ahead of myself. Lorre is simply incredible as our lead headcase. The rest of the cast is serviceable (it's worth noting that Colin Clive is no slouch), but they're acting in Pete's shadow. It's not their fault. Karl Freund holds down the director's chair with aplomb. The atmosphere is fraught with dismay and tension of the most gripping kind. As a matter of fact, I caught my remote control sweating at one point. The script is rather clever. Gogol is certifiably demented, and yet, you can almost sympathize with him. I can't say that I was in his corner, but his character is so well-developed, that you can't blame him for snapping.

Universal wasn't alone in crafting first-rate horror films in the 30's and 40's. The proof is in the pudding; the pudding is Mad Love. If you find that your seasonal movie marathon is lacking in the "old school" department, toss this baby into the cauldron. Or you can sit through Halloween for the millionth time. Your choice.


Panels From Beyond the Grave #9

UNDERTAKER (#1, April 1999)

Horror AND wrestling? Sign me up! I don't know how many of you remember this series, but during the zenith of the booming Attitude Era, a handful of WWF superstars landed their own comic book. Out of all of the characters that populated the roster, The Undertaker was the most fitting icon to become a two-dimensional superhero. Hell, his backstory sounds like something that was accouched from a Chaos! Comics brainstorming session. It makes sense that the McMahon family wound up partnering with Chaos! to distribute these comics. An ill-advised decision, that.

Chaos! went bankrupt three years later. One can't help but wonder if Marvel or Dark Horse would have been a safer bet. Then again, an American Badass Phenom would have made for a lousy comic book, so maybe this series ended at the right time. Even though Undertaker debuted in 1999, the storyline picks up a year earlier. The Ministry of Darkness didn't exist yet. Our principal players are 'Taker, Kane, Paul Bearer and The Embalmer (a.k.a. Augustus Slayer). Obviously, The Embalmer was created specifically for the comic book. He is the top heel, if I may be so bold as to use wrestling jargon. For the uninitiated, a heel is a villain.

'Taker oversees Stygian, Hell's Prison. He wants Hell all to himself, but in order to lay claim to multiple planes of existence (including Earth), he must possess the three Books of the Dead. Naturally, he only has one. The Embalmer owns a book, as does Paul Bearer. You can see where this is going. The plot is a tad convoluted (not to mention generic), but writer Beau Smith does a laudable job of adding sortilege and supernatural twaddle to a basic concept that boils down to nothing more than kayfabe. If you think about it too much, you'll realize how ridiculous the script is. Why would ancient demons look to the World Wrestling Federation to settle a score?

This particular issue finds 'Taker chokeslamming and piledriving various foes in the fiery depths of Hell. We are introduced to The Embalmer (who bears an eerie resemblance to The Sultan, Fatu's last pre-Rikishi gimmick), and we catch glimpses of Kane squashing a random jobber. The artwork is fantastic. Honestly, I would buy it for the artwork alone. I don't see this title appealing to comic readers who don't watch wrestling, though. That's a major flaw, and it explains why no one knows that this series exists (outside of die-hard 'Taker fans, of course). I dig it. It's easy for me to enjoy it since I'm part of the target audience.

Here is a cool factoid that you can impress your geek friends with...in later issues, we meet Jezebelle, Kane's half-sister.


Geek Out #32

Why can't they bring back this award ceremony? It could air every October. They could even have Robert Englund return to host the festivities. I smell an online petition brewing...


Mastodon - THE HUNTER

I never thought that I would review a Mastodon album. These grizzled purveyors of technical, psychedelic stoner metal appeal to most music critics, but The Hunter is the only set of their progressive jams that has clicked with me. And I don't know why. Critically acclaimed albums such as Leviathan and Crack the Skye just don't jive on my wavelength. I hear the talent. The music has depth and purpose. Clearly, Mastodon has an original sound, but aside from a cracking tune here and there ("Oblivion" is flat-out amazing), I can't say that they have ever moved me to boogie (or woogie, for that matter). Well, guess what? The Hunter has made me a believer.

What's so different this time around? Maybe it's the accessible nature of the new material. The tracks are shorter, the arrangements are less dense and the hooks are catchier than pubic lice. "Curl of the Burl" should be a radio hit, and yet, this record is anything but commercialized. It's easy to tell that the shift towards approachable riffs and pandemic melodies was an organic one. This was no cash grab. Die-hard meatheads will be pleased to know that opener "Black Tongue" is just as abrasive as the husky pit-starters on Leviathan. Likewise, the lethal "Blasteroids" and the elephantine "Spectrelight" reside on the metallic end of the spectrum.

My favorite cuts tend to be the compositions that balance brutal badassery with meditative vocal harmonies (see "Bedazzled Fingernails" and "The Octopus Has No Friends"). There is plenty of plush soloing to keep the guitar freaks at bay. Of course, they only play the notes that need to be played. If it's mindless shredding you want, headbang elsewhere. Conceptually, The Hunter is all over the fucking place. Lyrics touch on everything from tree poaching to intergalactic intercourse. In my estimation, it was a smart move to mix things up after exploring the weighty themes of Crack the Skye.

This is not a perfect album, but I can't name a flaw off-hand that rubs me the wrong way. Why not? It's the same reason why I can't explicitly describe my aversion to Mastodon's earlier outings. Their stuff is hard to wrap my head around. All I know is that The Hunter exemplifies the missing link between mainstream rock and underground metal. If it was 1993, "Curl of the Burl" would be a Buzz Clip on MTV. Remember Buzz Clips? I better stop typing before I rant on the decrepitude of pop culture. The moral of the story...don't kill another man's goat.


I'm walking out!

That's right. I'm staging my own walkout. Well, until next week, that is. Raw was so pitiful, I'm not even going to review it. I have better things to do. For instance, I'll be covering music and comic books later in the week. I might review Smackdown, but no promises.

You know what bothers me the most about the way this angle has been perverted? This was a great opportunity to showcase some of the guys who have been busting their asses on NXT and Superstars for the past few months. Half of the roster is tailgating in the parking lot? No problem. We still have Yoshi Tatsu, Tyson Kidd, Drew McIntyre, The Uso's (one of them slipped up, sure, but Alex Riley was able to recover from the exact same setback) and a host of other hungry upstarts who will gladly take their place.

Hell, Zack Ryder has pinned the United States Champion twice in a row, and he was nowhere to be found! What the FUCK?


Killjoy 3

Eight years had passed since Killjoy 2, so why did Charles Band deem it necessary to press on with a third pie to the face? I know that fans have been clamoring for Subspecies 5, but Killjoy 3? Was there a demand for this polychromatic revelry? It doesn't matter because I just watched it, which means that it exists. Let me tell you, I am ready to take a sabbatical from gaudy, raffish b-movies. Don't mistake my ennui for an admission of defeat. No, no, no...these movies did not break me. You hear that, world? It's going to take more than store-bought make-up effects and nonsensical plot devices to rattle my will. I stand (or sit, rather) defiant!

As I predicted, Killjoy 3 wasn't quite as meager as the first two entries. I still can't recommend it. It may not have offended my horror sensibilities, but I can't see anyone outside of Full Moon Headquarters giving it the time of day. NOTE TO SELF: Find out if there is such a thing as Full Moon Headquarters. College students are housesitting for one of their professors (what kind of professor would...fuck it, nevermind) when a strange package arrives at their doorstep. It's a mirror. The mirror acts as a portal to Killjoy's stomping grounds. Evil stuff happens. None of it really adds up. Boom! Synopsis.

They tried to create a stable of memorable villains for this one. I'm sure that the idea was to kindle interest in a line of merchandise based on the characters of Punchy, Freakshow and Batty Boop. Lackey roll call! Punchy is a hobo boxer; Freakshow is a mime with a conjoined twin; and Batty Boop is a clown succubus lathered in fluorescent body paint. None of Killjoy's supporting demons will develop the cult fanbase of a Pennywise or a Captain Spaulding, though Batty deserves extra credit for being naked in every shot (what, no balloon dildo?). Trent Haaga reprises his role from Killjoy 2 as the film's namesake. His performance is adequate. Nothing more, nothing less.

Stunningly, the cannon fodder is halfway likeable. Olivia Dawn York is adorable as the loose party girl. Jessica Whitaker plays the virginal heroine with restraint. Yeah, restraint. I couldn't believe it either. The dialogue is dumb, but I wasn't expecting a Richard Matheson script. Unlike its forerunners, Killjoy 3 has a gratifying, if not confounding payoff. The nonsensical plot devices that I mentioned earlier put a damper on the resolution, and a couple of subplots are consigned to oblivion (Zilla's crush on Erica is never brought up again after the first twenty minutes), but I didn't want to blow my brains out immediately following the end credits. That's a good sign, right?

For what it's worth, Killjoy 3 is the most fulfilling flick of the trilogy. Charles, don't even think about setting Killjoy 4 into motion. I've got your number, pal!