Exivious - EXIVIOUS

I should warn you that this review will be loaded with similes. I do my best to avoid the exploitation of literary devices, but this album calls for baroque metonymy. I'm going to objectify the English language like Dario Argento objectifies his daughter's mouth-watering bare flesh. Describing Exivious is no easy task. If you listen to jazz fusion on a regular basis, you should already be familiar with this eclectic cartel of musicians. The line-up boasts members of Cynic and Pestilence. Naturally, Cynic is the first point of reference that critics fall back on, and it doesn't take a rocket scientist to draw parallels between the two bands. They both play progressive metal that ratchets melody and technicality up to inconceivable heights.

Cynic and Exivious part ways when it comes to vocals. Paul Masvidal employs abrasive growling and vocoder-enhanced crooning in the former group, while the latter group steps back and leaves all of the expressive emoting to the music itself. That's right; Exivious is an instrumental outfit. If that's a deal breaker from where you're sitting, then I have no use for you as a human being. Perhaps I'm overstating the obvious, but I'm hyper-sensitive to the "musically challenged." A friend of mine once played Metallica's "Orion" during English class in High School, and the majority of my fellow students derided the song for its lack of vocals. I'm not sure what I was expecting from a bunch of jocks and cheerleaders, but still, it pissed me off. Anyway!

There are scads of bands who claim to be jazz/metal hybrids. I've given most of them a chance, but with very few exceptions, I didn't hear much jazz. Exivious is the genuine article. As a matter of fact, this album is more jazz than metal. Everything from the time signatures to the rhythmic phrasing to the chord progressions to the plaintive melodies...every inch of it screams jazz. And it's fucking amazing. These guys are supremely talented. Hell, "talented" is almost an affront. "Virtuoso" is closer to the truth, though it doesn't do Exivious justice. You have to listen to all nine tracks to truly appreciate the chops on display. I'd start with "Ripple of a Tear" if I were you.

There are a couple of ways that you can enjoy this eponymous debut. You can focus on each note, attentively ingesting the subtleties that are hidden in pockets of dulcet polyphony. You can also treat it as background music. Often times, I'll pop this puppy in before I write. Whatever the case, Exivious provides perfect ambiance for any occasion. This is beginning to sound like a press release. I promise that I'm not affiliated with this band; I'm just addicted to their music. If only they would churn out a follow-up! I can't recommend Exivious enough. I haven't even mentioned the articulate bass, the limber drumming or the warm production. Good luck finding an affordable copy. Limited availability is the sole flaw tainting this record. I could tell you where I got my disc, but I'm not exactly proud of having to resort to...well, y'know.

No, I didn't fuck one of the band members. Jesus. Hmm, I didn't exploit as many literary devices as I thought I would. I'm smiling like a baby in a strip club.


Vanity Scare #1

What is Vanity Scare? Aside from being a ludicrous title (I couldn't come up with anything remotely clever), it's a new column where I'll be dissecting horror magazines. The main features will be monthly reviews of Rue Morgue, as I received a subscription for Christmas. But that's not all...every now and then, I'll be covering back issues of other rags (mainly Fangoria). It should provide a telling peek into how the genre has mutated over the years. Let's kick things off with an inquest of the new Rue!

RUE MORGUE (#119, February 2012)

Cover - This publication is known for their exquisite hand-drawn covers, so I'm always disappointed when I see a homely screenshot on the front of a new issue. A mainstream film hogging the spotlight is a red flag. To be fair, I haven't read Rue since the Jovanka days, and I get the impression that incumbent Editor-in-Chief Dave Alexander doesn't make a habit out of catering to the masses.

Cover Stories - I'll just comb through the stand-outs. The article promulgating the revamp of The Woman in Black does its job, but to be honest, I can't get psyched up for Hammer's latest confection. It seems like a typical ghost yarn, and I've had my fill of typical ghost yarns. I was much more engrossed by the Jean Rollin interview, which was conducted shortly before his death. Jeremy Richey's rundown of the five Rollin outings that are being re-released on DVD/Blu-ray made me want to educate myself in the field of nude lesbian bloodsuckers. Don't be surprised if reviews of Lips of Blood and The Shiver of the Vampire surface on this very website in the not-too-distant future. Lastly, the convention schedule is incomplete. I'm only nitpicking because they precluded a convention that I'm attending in March (details at a later date!).

Regular Features - I adored Bowen's Basement. Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II doesn't get enough love, and it's a relief knowing that I'm not alone in my dissatisfaction with the original. Sorry, folks...it's dull. And Jamie Lee Curtis is overrated. Yeah, I went there. The Travelogue of Terror is a must-read. I'm stopping in Hell on my next road trip. A wag of my finger to The Gore-Met (apologies to Stephen Colbert for blatantly ripping him off) for spoiling Macabre. It wouldn't be a hyperbole to say that he ruined the twist ending of the subversive Asian shocker. Not cool, dude. Thanks to Play Dead for bringing my attention to a zombie-ridden board game. The fact that there are two versions of "The Walking Dead" (one based on the comic, the other based on the TV show) is simply cock-blowing. I'm serious. My cock is blown.

In a Nutshell - This section of Vanity Scare will probably be the same for each 'zine. Why? Well, even the lousy issues of Rue Morgue are worth buying if you're a die-hard horror junkie. Back issues of Fangoria, on the other hand...we'll cross that bridge when we burn it. Or something.


Album Cover of the Week


Parts Unknown #96: Smackdown

I'm on the verge of giving up on the WWE. I can usually count on Smackdown, but last night's episode was unbearable. I'm at a loss for words. Well, almost.


~ The Cody Rhodes/Justin Gabriel match. I can't believe I'm saying this about a five-minute midcard non-title bout, but it was probably the best match of the night. Where are the contenders for the Intercontinental Championship? Has Cody defended the belt against anyone other than Booker T?

~ I repeat myself each week, but here again, I'm curious as to where Drew McIntyre's losing streak is heading. I'll die laughing if he ends up winning the Rumble.

~ I've had my eye on Yoshi Tatsu for awhile now, so I know how much potential he has. I loved his recent makeover. I thought for sure that he was on the cusp of a singles push. While I'm ecstatic to finally see him back on Smackdown (the last time he popped up on the blue brand, he jobbed to a debuting Jinder Mahal), I am positively aghast at the notion of coupling him with Santino. Still, this is more of a pro than a con. If they win the tag titles, so help me God.


~ A match between Randy Orton and Wade Barrett is advertised. Barrett cuts a promo, Orton attacks him, they tussle for a bit, they are separated by referees...? Did I miss something? It's bad enough that two matches clocked in at under twenty seconds. This is shit that Vince Russo would try to pull. And yet, the brevity of this encounter wasn't the worst part. The worst part was letting The Viper RKO five young, talented fresh faces and bury the tag team division in the process. By the way, The Uso's and Reks/Hawkins had a solid match on NXT this week, not that the WWE cares.

~ Hunico versus Ted DiBiase again??? Quit feeding us the same goddamn show every week. It's no wonder ratings are below sea level.

~ The fart joke. Oh my fucking Christ. If I were Natalya, I'd pack my bags and fly to Orlando. This is one of the best female wrestlers on the planet, and you saddle her with a flatulence gimmick before sending her out to the ring to lose a ten-second (!!!) "battle" with Aksana? There are rumors that both Beth and Natalya are in the doghouse, but sometimes, you need to put the product first. The Diva's division has never been this embarrassing. Ever.

~ I dig Brodus Clay, but he's ready to advance past the squash stage. It's getting tiresome.

Fuck. Something epic better happen on Sunday.


Lurking Fear

Someone needs to put every edition of Full Moon's "Videozone" on a single DVD. How orgasmic would that be? Charles Band catches a lot of flack (granted, some of it is warranted), but the guy is responsible for hundreds of b-movies. When his pet project was backed by Paramount, a steep percentage of these b-movies were afforded spiffy budgets. 1994's Lurking Fear resides on the cheaper end of this headmost wave of Full Moon titles, but compared to later blunders like Ragdoll and Killjoy, it's a lavish Hollywood masterstroke. Based on a short story written by H.P. Lovecraft, this flick was originally going to be directed by Stuart Gordon. It didn't pan out, although Gordon took another crack at Lovecraft the following year (if you haven't seen Castle Freak, you're missing out).

As it turns out, there are three film adaptations of this disturbing tale. You've got 1989's Dark Heritage, 1997's Bleeders and of course, you've got Lurking Fear. I haven't seen Dark Heritage, but I'm one of the gullible saps who rented Bleeders back in the day because of its cover art. Horror fans are suckers. I won't spend much time comparing the two. I will say that I would have been lost during the bulk of Lurking Fear if I had never taken a chance on Bleeders. The latter is torpid, long-winded gruntwork, but at least it explained why albino mutants were killing innocent people and dragging them through underground tunnels. The former assumes that you have read the source material. HINT: I haven't read the source material.

Still, there are subplots that were easier to swallow. A rugged twentysomething is released from prison and learns that a lump sum of money is buried in his father's corpse. He retrieves the map, but retrieving the cash proves to be a galumphing chore. When he arrives at the cemetery with shovel in hand, he is greeted by casino thugs and monster hunters. Let's talk about the monster hunters. They are easily the best thing about Lurking Fear. Jeffrey Combs plays a drunken smartass, while Ashley Laurence (yes, that Ashley Laurence) plays a short-tempered badass. Incidentally, they are the only available actors qualified to recite dialogue in front of a camera. I'm not just roasting amateurs out of holier-than-thou vainglory. Everyone else is ordinary at best.

Writer/director C. Courtney Joyner gets the horror elements right. The atmosphere is moody (thunder, lighting, the whole nine yards), the creature effects are competent and the gore is moist. Sadly, the subterranean goblins aren't quite as threatening as they should be. We don't see them enough, and at one point, the lead ghoul has a conversation with a priest. Ghouls shouldn't have conversations, much less with men of the cloth. I have no choice but to endow Lurking Fear with the dreaded wishy-washy rating. I like to call it The Meh. Is Bleeders better, you ask? I can't say for sure, as it's also Meh-worthy. As for the subject of today's review, I've seen worse Full Moon films (much, much worse). It's suitable viewing for a rainy night.


Go Packers!

I never write about sports, but since the Super Bowl is approaching, I thought I'd offer my analysis as a casual football fan. I don't care about the Giants, and I don't care about the Patriots.

Moving on! I'm thinking of debuting the new column on Monday. There is a chance that it might flop, but that's a chance I'm willing to take.


Blood Capsule #4


People who know me have this misconception that I abhor any and all big-budget blockbusters. That's simply not true. I love rowdy, headlong popcorn movies when they are handled with care. Cowboys and Aliens was handled with care. I'm not even fond of westerns, but I dug this rustic take on "alien invasion" prosaicisms. The action is brisk, Harrison Ford plays a badass, the CGI is well-rendered (!) and plot twists give the script little shots of adrenaline at just the right places. A word of warning...if you insist on rifling through the storyline in search of lapses in logic, you'll find them. But it's a sci-fi flick. Relax.

I do have one bone to pick with director Jon Favreau. By extension, this applies to most of the alien-themed genre films that have been cranked out in the last twenty years, give or take. Can you knock if off with the plagiaristic creature designs? It was cute in the 80's, but how many variations of the titular monsters in Alien and Predator do we need? I realize that it's not Jon's fault. I'm addressing Hollywood as a whole. Super 8 was excellent, but could you draw a rough sketch of the intergalactic beastie that the less annoying Fanning sister crossed paths with? I doubt it. Hell, describe it to me. You can't!

Sorry, that was too much rambling for a Blood Capsule. I must learn to keep my venting in check.


Geek Out #42

Linnea Quigley is my favorite scream queen. She's a consummate professional who truly loves the horror genre. Please enjoy this clip from Linnea Quigley's Horror Workout, a shameless video wherein Linnea exercises with her curvaceous friends. It's kind of awesome. Gotta love the Creepozoids poster in the background.


Matches That Time Forgot #28

Have you ever wondered why Marty Jannetty never achieved the kind of success that Shawn Michaels did? Me neither. I think it's fairly obvious that Marty lacked HBK's raw charisma, but don't mistake my candor for an unjust burial. I dig Marty. Always have, always will. When it comes to in-ring mechanics, he was a dependable worker. Today's Match That Time Forgot proves that he could "dance" with any wrestler. It didn't matter if it was a technical craftsman (see his Raw bout against Doink) or a lumbering behemoth. He could adjust his style to accommodate giants and grapplers alike.

Watch as he keeps the crowd engaged during a protracted match opposite Mr. Hughes. To be fair, the burly Hughes deserves some of the credit for making this odd pairing work. He had his heel tactics down to a science. If your forehead is currently crinkled, allow me to refresh your memory. Mr. Hughes enjoyed a brief stint in the WWF, and if you blinked in 1993, you probably missed it. He wrestled for several companies (including WCW), but he was gainfully employed by Vince McMahon just long enough to pilfer The Undertaker's urn. In the mid-90's, that was the easiest way to kickstart a feud.

I'm not sure why Hughes left the Fed, but his humdrum gimmick couldn't have helped matters. He looked like a cross between Big Bully Busick and Irwin R. Schyster. He would steal your lunch money and invest it in mutual funds, I suppose.


Album Cover of the Week

Parts Unknown #95: Smackdown

It's Sin City Smackdown! In other words, it's...another episode of Smackdown!


~ Daniel Bryan as a full-fledged heel. His promos are better, and he actually seems to be getting a reaction out of the crowd. Of course, it's a taped show, so there is no way of knowing how much of his heat is genuine. Most of it could be canned. Either way, this heel turn was the best thing for D-Bry's character. Also, I dug the way that the lumberjack match devolved into an intemperate brouhaha.

~ Cody Rhodes and Justin Gabriel work well with each other. The Cape Town Werewolf (voted Nickname Least Likely to Trend on Twitter by...um, me) is finally over with the fans, unless his cheers are piped in with the duplicitous sincerity of a Goldberg chant.

~ The tornado tag match between E&P and The Uso's. We saw a few unique double-team maneuvers, and it's always nice to have real tag team wrestling on WWE television. Unfortunately, these four promising talents weren't given enough time to tell a story. Week in and week out, the tag matches are too short. It's bullshit, Vince. Bullshit.

~ The dance-off was funny, but let's hope it was the last one of 2012 (we all know it won't be).

~ Honestly, Wade Barrett bores me, but his scuffle with Sheamus was smooth. Solid action.

~ I'm only listing Drew McIntyre's loss as a pro because I have no idea what they're planning on doing with him next week. I have a reason to tune in.

~ The flag match between Hunico and Ted DiBiase. Again, I have no idea where this feud is heading, but kudos to Ted for prospering as a babyface.


~ Why does Hornswoggle still have a job?

~ Why does Aksana still have a job?

As you can surmise, I didn't have much to say about this episode of Smackdown. It continues to be superior to its Monday night counterpart. What else is new?


The Last Circus

There are a bunch of well-renowned genre filmmakers floating around in the horrorverse. I can't get to all of them. It's unavoidable. I'm sure that you can relate. Hell, I have a friend who has never seen a David Cronenberg film. Scatological heresy, right? It's easy to bully a fellow nerd who has allowed the works of an accomplished auteur like Cronenberg to pass him/her by (believe me, my friend was scrupulously dragooned), but we're all guilty of omitting certain fan favorites. Me, I've never seen an Alex de la Iglesia film. After watching his latest project, 2010's The Last Circus, I'm adding the rest of his track record to my chopping list.

If his name doesn't ring a bell, Iglesia is responsible for Accion Mutante, The Day of the Beast and Perdita Durango (a.k.a. Dance with the Devil). The Last Circus may seem a bit schlocky, but I can assure you that there is more to it than a circus clown brandishing a machine gun. Obviously, that would make for an amazing motion picture (seriously, that movie should be greenlit pronto), but if you know anything about Iglesia, you know that his stuff appeals to the "art house" crowd. He is incredibly versatile. The Last Circus is a g(h)oulash linking blood-freezing horror, circumstantial comedy, hypnagogic surrealism, "love triangle" hysterics and ruinous tragedy together to form a balustrade of splashy sideshow dementia.

The plot is deceptively simple. A sad clown and a happy clown squabble over the affections of a beautiful aerialist. That doesn't begin to scratch the surface of the perky, industrious script. In terms of pacing, The Last Circus steps on the gas pedal and doesn't brake until the end credits roll. I won't give away specific detours that the story takes, but suffice to say, it's wholly unpredictable. I was transfixed. Why? I cared about the characters. Why? The cast is good. Really, really good. On a sidenote, how hot is Carolina Bang? Yeah, that's her real name. Her parents must have decided a long time ago that they wanted a porn star for a daughter (I know it's her last name, but c'mon, let me have one tasteless joke).

Iglesia was entrusted with a prodigious budget, and it shows. The cinematography is stunning. This is the best-looking film that I've viewed all year. The art direction is immaculate, the scenery is breathtaking and the CGI...well, I didn't care for the CGI. It's okay in small doses (subtle background tweaks, weather effects, etc.), but there is a ridiculous car crash in the third act that made me laugh out loud. If I didn't know any better, I'd say it was lifted from Grand Theft Auto. Yikes. That's a trivial complaint, though. The fact is, you need to check out The Last Circus. Alex de la Iglesia is often compared to Guillermo del Toro, and it's not just because they're both Spanish. It's because they're both fat.



It's been a busy day, but I'll be back tomorrow with an uber-cool movie review. Parts Unknown has been pushed to Sunday. If you can't wait that long, call 911 immediately.


I may post this on a semi-regular basis...

No Smackdown review today. I did watch it, but for the most part, there wasn't much in the way of storyline progression. Besides, I wanted to talk about something else today. 2011 came and went like Sin Cara. I'm not sure where the year went, but I realized that it was the first year where RR Inc. was active for 365 consecutive days. I started this site in late 2009, and 2010 was curdled by a debilitating surgery. The word "setback" doesn't begin to describe it. For months, I was dormant. My physical issues sucked the spirit right out of me.

Eventually, I breathed life back into the site and shifted the focus of its content. To be perfectly honest with you, I don't know how I have managed to update this sliver of the net on a daily basis. Friends have helped along the way, but the main thing that keeps me going is the (delusional?) hope that there are people who enjoy frequenting my online pad and look forward to seeing what I'll churn out next. It's an ego trip.

Unfortunately, the written word is dead. How so? It's dead in the sense that I can't make a living writing reviews of random films, records, comic books and weekly wrestling shows. Ten years ago, this site would have been fairly popular. Nowadays, video reviews are all the rage. It blows my mind that The Nostalgia Critic and The Cinema Snob pay their bills by doing what I do. When you break it down, I'm not that different from those guys, but who wants to fucking read? I'm not in a position where I can produce a professional web series, so every once in awhile, I ask for donations in a non-threatening manner.

What I'm trying to say is GIVE ME MONEY OR I'LL RAPE YOUR PETS! That's all I'm saying. Can RR Inc. continue for another year without donations? Sure. That's not the point. The point is...um, there has to be a point around here somewhere. If you dig my site, please consider supporting it. It doesn't have to be a monetary donation. You can donate DVD's, comic books, whatever. Just drop me an e-mail, and I'll provide you with my address.

Do it for Dink's sake!


Panels From Beyond the Grave #14

THE ZOMBIE: SIMON GARTH (1 of 4, November 2007)

I have peculiar tastes. By and large, run-of-the-mill "zombie apocalypse" parables don't interest me. I've only watched a couple of episodes of The Walking Dead, I'm ambivalent towards the Resident Evil series and while I dig Dawn of the Dead, I don't see it as an empyreal epic that casts a shadow over all other zombie flicks. It's a matter of preference, and it can be accredited to multiple mediums. That's why I shrugged my broad, sinewy shoulders when I happened upon a copy of The Zombie: Simon Garth stowed away in my comic book collection. Judging by the cover, this wasn't a title that was going to knock my semen-encrusted socks off.

Technically, my socks are still on my feet (at this point, the semen acts as a reproductive resin), but I enjoyed The Zombie more than I thought I would. This is the first issue of a four-part saga. It was distributed by MAX, a Marvel imprint intended for mature readers. I read it anyway. As I've said before, I don't claim to be an expert on comic books, so you'll have to pardon my ignorance on the subject. It seems that The Zombie is an upshot of Tales of the Zombie, a classic Marvel title from back in the day. The plot follows Simon, an undead ghoul who emerges from a helicopter crash relatively unscathed. We spend the bulk of this installment watching him saunter through a forest dispatching various rednecks.

Meanwhile, a scientist panics at the site of the crash because his "subject" is nowhere to be found. A blood sample is also unaccounted for, which is bad news for everyone involved. From what I gather, the blood is infected with the virus that turned Simon into a zombie. This comic offers a fresh take on a trite subgenre. I don't think that I could digest another shopworn tale of portentous limb-chewing in the same vein as 28 Days Later. Instead of focusing on a group of hackneyed characters trying to survive amidst a horde of mangy, withering automatons, The Zombie concerns itself with one cadaverous drone (not counting any people who are infected as the storyline progresses).

On the dank side of the tampon, the living participants are bland and paper-thin. They're essentially faceless. I realize that it's early on in the series, but you need to develop strong personalities from the get-go. Kyle Hotz's artwork is sleek and appropriately gloomy. I love the pale blues and the eye-popping gore. Overall, The Zombie: Simon Garth is a fun, easy read that skirts around the cliches that tend to deface zombie-centric cinema/literature. Is it just me or could Simon pass for a gaunt Swamp Thing? Like if Alec Holland had body image problems and succumbed to bulimia...hey, Teen Beat puts a lot of pressure on bog monsters to attain certain measurements. I should stop typing, shouldn't I?


Blood Capsule #3


Let's play word association. Ready? Satan. What comes to mind? If you're like most people, you immediately thought of The Bermuda Triangle. Well, that's what I think of because I just watched The Dark Side of the Moon. The twin brothers who penned the screenplay must have rolled a lot of joints and listened to a lot of Pink Floyd records. Maybe they used this film as an excuse to flex their idioglossia (look it up). Whatever the case, this is a mediocre sci-fi romp about a marooned space shuttle suffused with saltwater and moustached manifestations of Satan. It's fucking bonkers.

The story arc turns into a sickly retelling of The Thing, complete with "body hopping" and the compulsory stand-off where each character takes a turn accusing the others of being the baddie. For a second, it seemed like this flick was onto something. The premise is outlandish enough to be entertaining, but first-time director D.J. Webster drops the ball. One of the more forgettable Vidmark releases.


Intestinal Crank

Color me psyched. The new Cannibal Corpse album has a title, a tracklist and a cover. CC is one of my favorite bands on the planet, so you can bet your ass I'm going to review Torture when it comes out. I wasn't fond of Evisceration Plague. To me, it was a neutered version of Kill. There was no progression. Even the production was identical to that of Kill, although I can't place all of the blame on Erik Rutan. He knows his way around a studio. I can only hope that Torture has its own unique flavor. The leaked tune ("Demented Aggression") does sound promising.

PS-New column next week! Yes, another one.


Album Cover of the Week

One of my favorite albums of all time.


Parts Unknown #94: Smackdown

As per usual, Smackdown was better than Raw. It did have its fair share of fuck-ups, though.


~ It's obvious where Daniel Bryan's situation is heading, but I like it all the same. I'm hoping that this program will put A.J. Lee in position to cut in front of other Diva's in line to receive a push. She's just as talented as she is gorgeous. Of course, if you're a regular reader, you know that I have been one of her biggest advocates for awhile now. You would also know that I want to put my penis inside of her. Any orifice will do. I'm not picky.

~ Cody Rhodes. His promo was solid (he gets brownie points for name-dropping The Ultimate Warrior), and he wrangled a sprightly match out of Ezekiel Jackson.

~ Ordinarily, I would bemoan the fact that Drew McIntyre was on the losing end of a match, but I get the impression that there are good things in store for The Chosen One. I mean, this isn't some faceless jobber we're talking about. At least he isn't being wasted on NXT.

~ David Otunga's new finisher.

~ Since I no longer cover Raw, I didn't get a chance to chime in on Brodus Clay's controversial re-debut. Personally, I dig his new gimmick. The last thing that the WWE needs is another generic monster heel. Give me colorful characters. I miss the days of The Undertaker, Big Boss Man, "Macho Man" Randy Savage, The Honky Tonk Man, Demolition, Bret "The Hitman" Hart, Doink the Clown, etc...sure, Funkasaurus might just be an extra-large Flash Funk, but he's fun to watch.


~ Justin Gabriel shouldn't need outside interference to win a match, especially if it's coming from a goddamn dwarf. He's a babyface. This is Booking 101, folks.

~ Keep Santino out of the ring. Enough is enough.

~ The Diva's division is so puny, it's unbelievable. Hell, the champion hasn't been on television in weeks. Just retire the belt.

~ No tag team action?

Night, night.



Currently watching Smackdown. You can expect to see a new edition of Parts Unknown, a new Blood Capsule, a new Panels From Beyond the Grave, a new music review and much more over the next week. You can hardly contain yourself!


Blue Sunshine

Thanks to a troupe of witlings stranded in outer space, Jeff Lieberman is best known for 1976's Squirm. It's an entertaining inefficacy, but it's not an accurate representation of Jeff's worth as a filmmaker. With 1981's Just Before Dawn, he offered up a grim, atmospheric slasher. He also directed Satan's Little Helper, which is one of my favorite fright flicks from the aughts (I hate that term). Last night, I spent quality time with his sophomore outing, 1978's Blue Sunshine, and I'm glad that I did. I could say that it leaves Squirm in the dust, but that wouldn't be saying much, now would it?

There is a warrant out for Jerry's arrest. Three of his friends were offed in bestial ways, and he is the prime suspect. Did he kill them??? No. No, he did not. But the murders happened right in front of him. The culprit is a balding lunatic who dropped acid in college. When you think about it, that could be anyone, but Jerry's detective work has narrowed down the field of potential litigants. Let me rephrase that; he has identified the guilty party and he knows that other people are on the brink of madness. The title refers to a recreational drug that certain hippies enjoyed ten years prior. It seems that this hallucinogen has delayed side effects, and I'm not referring to dry mouth or vaginal secretions.

In case you're slow on the uptake, Blue Sunshine is about lysergic acid diethylamide. Y'know, Lucy in the sky with diamonds? Purple haze? Electric Kool-Aid? Strawberry fields? Neon pussy? Okay, I made up "neon pussy." That should totally be a drug, though. Where was I? Oh, the film's first half serves as a mystery, and despite overanxious marketing (every synopsis you'll come across spoils the secret behind the killings), the exposition is engrossing. Zalman King gives an uneven performance as our main protagonist. Still, we're in his corner, and we want to see him get to the bottom of this mess.

Lieberman imbues Blue Sunshine with a pulpy drive-in vibe that I simply cannot resist. It never becomes a comedy, but it's easy to spot the scenes that were embellished for the purposes of selling this as a trashy b-movie. The climax is just too much. A discotheque is ravaged by a hulking acid zombie, and we follow Jerry as he hunts it through a solitary shopping mall. It's a riot, but the abrupt ending dampens the mood. I was hoping for a more explosive payoff. In any event, Blue Sunshine deserves your attention if you're looking to rent a cult classic that you haven't already seen a million times. Now, do you know where I can score some neon pussy?


Geek Out #41

Last week's unofficial Geek Out involved Bill Lustig's best film (I realize that it's not a popular opinion, but as far as I'm concerned, Maniac Cop 2 is superior to Maniac). Let's look at his worst contribution to the horror genre. It's a guilty pleasure. Don't act like you didn't smirk once or twice during this patriotic slasher.


Skid Row - SKID ROW

When I was little (I'm talking single digits), I listened to hair metal out of convenience. I watched MTV, and MTV played hair metal videos. Therefore, I dug hair metal. Like most people, I grew up, leaving my childhood obsessions behind. My modest collection of "cock rock" cassette tapes was consigned to be unloaded at yard sales. I can't say that I missed them. However, there is one band from that quondam era of spandex and hairspray that I still consider to be a cut above the rest. Say it with me...Firehouse! Just kidding. Skid Row may have been lobbed in the same dustbin as Poison and Winger, but in my accurate opinion, they had more in common with Guns 'n' Roses (especially on 1991's Slave to the Grind).

Granted, their eponymous debut is rather polished. You could get away with calling it a pop/rock affair, but hey, if I'm going to plug my ears with housebroken candy floss, this is what I want it to sound like. That's not to say that Skid Row is lacking in the balls department. At its core, this is sleazy, rebellious rock and roll. I know what you're thinking. "Sleazy rock songs about teen rebellion? FROM THE 80's???" While it's not exactly a novel concept, there is something to this album, something earnest. The lyrics feel genuine. When Sebastian Bach screams the story of Ricky in "18 & Life," you believe every word of it. Wouldn't it be cool if "18 & Life" actually dealt with Riki-Oh: The Story of Ricky? Just a thought.

Speaking of Bach, he is one of the best rock/metal vocalists on the planet. Some of the notes he hits don't even exist. From a technical standpoint, his vocals on Slave to the Grind are more impressive, but I dare you to sing "I Remember You" without reaching for an oxygen tank. The heavier tracks are a mixed bag. "Can't Stand the Heartache" is perfunctory fluff. "Big Guns" and "Rattlesnake Shake" are high-octane strip club staples. "Piece of Me" is badass, and you know it. "Youth Gone Wild" is the anthem to end all anthems. If you ask me, it shits all over Twisted Sister's "We're Not Gonna Take It."

My favorite song that wasn't chosen to be a single has got to be "Midnight/Tornado." The dueling guitar leads bring Iron Maiden to mind, and the melodies are catchier than Hepatitis C. Between you and me, I always skip "Here I Am." I'm not sure how it became a live fixture, but what do I know? Skid Row needs to be remastered. There are aspects of the production that work (I love how the solos pop out of the mix), but man, you have to blow your speakers to hear everything. Chalk it up to dated technology...wait, no. That's a cop out. I own older CD's that sound better than this. At any rate, Skid Row is worth buying, even if Skid Row (the band) didn't click on all cylinders until the 90's.


Matches That Time Forgot #27

Sometimes, even I am taken aback by how random these matches are. Today's gladiator joust (NOTE: Joust was my favorite game on American Gladiators) sees "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan no-sell against Galaxy. We're in Nitro territory, which means that Duggan is a stiff clodpate who is way past his prime. I mean, this was 1997. The guy had nothing to offer. His entire WCW run consisted of squash matches where he buried young talent. I don't mean to suggest that Galaxy had a future, but why put Duggan in the ring with a cruiserweight to begin with? Oh, who is Galaxy?

Galaxy is Damian 666 under a mask. Who is Damian 666? He's a well-respected luchador who was brought in to fill out the cruiserweight division. He actually wrestled under both gimmicks simultaneously, but neither character picked up any meaningful wins. Damian 666 is still active, tagging with rudos in AAA. Duggan...is not.


Album Cover of the Week


I might post this on a semi-regular basis...

No Smackdown review today. I did watch it, but for the most part, there wasn't much in the way of storyline progression. Besides, I wanted to talk about something else today. 2011 came and went like Sin Cara. I'm not sure where the year went, but I realized that it was the first year where RR Inc. was active for 365 consecutive days. I started this site in late 2009, and 2010 was curdled by a debilitating surgery. The word "setback" doesn't begin to describe it. For months, I was dormant. My physical issues sucked the spirit right out of me.

Eventually, I breathed life back into the site and shifted the focus of its content. To be perfectly honest with you, I don't know how I have managed to update this sliver of the net on a daily basis. Friends have helped along the way, but the main thing that keeps me going is the (delusional?) hope that there are people who enjoy frequenting my online pad and look forward to seeing what I'll churn out next. It's an ego trip.

Unfortunately, the written word is dead. How so? It's dead in the sense that I can't make a living writing reviews of random films, records, comic books and weekly wrestling shows. Ten years ago, this site would have been fairly popular. Nowadays, video reviews are all the rage. It blows my mind that The Nostalgia Critic and The Cinema Snob pay their bills by doing what I do. When you break it down, I'm not that different from those guys, but who wants to fucking read? I'm not in a position where I can produce a professional web series, so every once in awhile, I ask for donations in a non-threatening manner.

What I'm trying to say is GIVE ME MONEY OR I'LL RAPE YOUR PETS! That's all I'm saying. Can RR Inc. continue for another year without donations? Sure. That's not the point. The point is...um, there has to be a point around here somewhere. If you dig my site, please consider supporting it. It doesn't have to be a monetary donation. You can donate DVD's, comic books, whatever. Just drop me an e-mail, and I'll provide you with my address.

Do it for Dink's sake!


Knife in the Water

Every once in awhile, I like to dip my hooves into divergent waters. In the early days of the site, this was a common practice. I tackled all genres before eventually designating Random Reviews Incorporated as a sci-fi/horror haunt. Still, there are instances where you might catch me maundering outside of my comfort zone. This is one of those instances, although Knife in the Water would certainly appeal to fans of the darker side of Hollywood. After all, it's a Roman Polanski film. To narrow it down a bit, this is Polanski's first feature-length production, and it was the only picture he shot in his native tongue.

I'll level with you. I fell asleep watching Knife, and I wasn't too thrilled about having to watch it twice. The plot is markedly simple. A leisure-class couple invites a peripatetic wayfarer (I could just say "hitchhiker," but that wouldn't be very pompous, now would it?) to join them on their sailboat for the afternoon. The husband is an asshole. And there you have it, folks...that covers the entire 94-minute running time. The pace is enervated, the soundtrack is devoid of music and there isn't much dialogue to speak of. Yeah, I was probably too pooped to pop Knife into my DVD player, but if anyone deserves the lion's share of the blame for my heavy eyelids, it's Roman Polanski.

This is a boring movie. There is no other way of saying it. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, happens for 50 minutes solid. Tension mounts in the third act, and the ending will give you something to ponder, but I was already sapped by that point. On a positive note, the cast is competent. You learn a great deal about the characters from observing how they interact with one another. And I'd be lying if I told you that Jolanta Umecka's wet, naked curves didn't enhance my viewing experience tenfold (well, maybe ninefold). Why didn't her career take off? I gather that she lacked acting experience, but good heavens...look at her!

You need to have an appreciation for minimalist filmmaking to groove on Knife in the Water. Clearly, I don't. I don't have a wellspring of patience for this kind of flick. I don't have an aquifer of tolerance for...okay, I'm getting carried away with fancy words. But you get the point. Truth be told, I've never been giddy over Polanski's work. I thought that Rosemary's Baby was an exasperating drag. You heard me. Repulsion was cool, and I did enjoy The Ninth Gate. Plus, his attempted rape of a minor was totally underrated. It made Victor Salva's kid-diddling look amateurish by comparison.


An unofficial Geek Out!

I didn't have time to do the review today (I know, I know), so to make up for it, I'm bringing you this badass clip. As for the review, it's still in the cards. Be patient...I'm only one geek!



Fell asleep during movie. Review tomorrow.


Save Us

RE: Chris Jericho's return...

- It was clever. It makes perfect sense for his heel persona to mock and manipulate the WWE fawning faithful.

- I'm okay with having to wait for answers. Even if the recondite hype videos were explained away last night, I would still tune in next week. But I'm not the typical wrestling fan.

- It was bad TV. In order for there to be another wrestling boom (which is a distinct possibility), the WWE needs to win over casual fans. Those are the people who boost ratings. Those are the people who switched back and forth from college football to Monday Night Raw to see what all of the fuss was about. And those people are confused right now. Unfortunately, most of them won't care enough to tune in next week. Why? Because Y2J's return didn't give them a reason to care. It didn't give them...anything.

- Look, you don't have to explain everything up front, but you do need to explain something. As soon as Jericho retreated to the backstage area to a chorus of jeers (alongside a few halfhearted cheers), every smark in the world nodded their head in approval. "Ah, I see what he's getting at." The casual fans? "What the fuck? That was dumb."


Geek Out #40

Underrated flick.


Album Cover of the Week