Geek Out #87

Not even Naomi Watts could make me rent Children of the Corn IV: The Gathering.


Album Cover of the Week

Yeah, I like Body Count.  Shut up.


Matt Osbourne R.I.P.

I just learned of the passing of Matt Osbourne, a favorite wrestler of mine.  He was best known for playing the heel version of Doink the Clown.  I'm using a Big Josh picture because...er, no one else will.  Osbourne was given the bush-league lumberjack gimmick in WCW shortly before heading off to Connecticut.  His brilliant run as an unhinged clown tends to overshadow the fact that he was a fantastic worker for over a decade preceding his greasepaint years.  I don't resent Doink, though.  Far fucking from it.  Randy Savage once referred to him as "the most evil clown that ever lived."  I ask you, how could I deplore such a character?  It's a damn shame that Osbourne's substance abuse attenuated his WWF tenure.

Once Doink turned face in late 1993, less magnetic men donned his garish ring attire.  They weren't necessarily bad, but the gimmick became homogenized.  Luckily, we got several memorable matches out of Osbourne in the brief time that he was employed by Vince McMahon.  His series against Mr. Perfect during King of the Ring qualifying was flippin' awesome.  I also recommend taking a gander at his 2-out-of-3-falls bout versus Marty Jannetty.  FACTOID: Matt grappled with Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat at the first Wrestlemania.  Maybe you already knew that.  Whatever.

56 is too young.  Rest in peace, brother.


Fuck Thursday

I took the day off.  Look, it's Dr. goddamn Giggles!



Cover scan courtesy of VHSCollector.com.

I approached 1991's Winterbeast with cautious optimism.  It was really more like giddy anticipation.  I looked forward to watching this z-flick in the same way that my impetuous nephew, Zachary, foretells his afternoon snack.  "I didn't know you had a nephew, Dom."  I don't, but that's irrelevant.  Scaring up a copy of Winterbeast took years of sedulous patience and rueful virginity.  I recently found out that it was granted a spiffy DVD release, but fuck that noise (actually, I still want the DVD).  This monster fanatic was able to land a new, sealed videotape replete with the luscious cover art pictured above.  Oh, it's majestic.  But what's so special about Winterbeast?  Why did I covet this bitch with the prurience of an adulterer?

The short answer is that it's similar to Spookies.  Both cult classics were shot piecemeal.  They both feature a bevy of ridiculous creatures, and their storylines are equally confounding.  As we all know, Spookies is the greatest thing ever invented by man, so I have to examine any similar genre titles, however loose the association.  It's mandatory.  See, Winterbeast is a composite of random footage.  The "plot" is a vague imbroglio of senescent clichĂ©s and unspeakable stop-motion animation.  Reminds me of a joke.  What do you call a zelkafident gramp-induced exotorque?  A senescent imbroglio!  Ha!  Knee-slapper alert!  I'll wait until the laughter dies down before I continue.

We follow a group of park rangers as they look into the disappearance of a colleague.  It seems that the locals are being beheaded (and/or volleyed) by Indian spirits.  That's my synopsis.  Nothing is ever explained, and truthfully, my eyelids met on a number of occasions.  I only nodded off a second here, a second there; I'm confident that I didn't miss a ponderous chunk of exposition.  That's where Spookies and Winterbeast part ways.  I never could have drifted into oblivion during the former, while the latter pussyfoots along at a supine pace.  The dialogue is flat, most of the characters are interchangeable and the claymation...I can't even.  I provided a sample below.  That's a diabolical totem pole spying on a topless girl.  Yes, that's a sentence I just typed.

I did have fun chuckling at the shoestring effects.  Apparently, certain scenes were cobbled together in 1976 (!).  Other critters on display are a skinless dude-demon, a chicken lizard hawk and the winterbeast itself (I'm pretty sure it's the horned fiend on the cover, although it's never spelled out).  Oh, and a venerable innkeeper dons a clown mask before combusting in a spontaneous fashion.  If the entirety of Winterbeast was that fucking crazy, it would be a goddamn masterpiece.  Alas, you are forced to bear the brunt of indefatigable lethargy for the lion's share of this reel's 80 minutes.  Oy.  I wanted to love it, too.

Director Christopher Thies receives one Z'Dar for his bizarro miscreants (seriously, a voyeuristic totem pole???) and one Z'Dar for his inclusion of gratuitous nudity.  Sigh.  At least I can say that I own this spastic son of a bitch.


U! Sooooooo!

I told you (u)so!  Tonight on Raw, The Uso's won a triple-threat tag team match to become the number one contenders for the Spartan straps!  I've been a fan of Rikishi's pups since they debuted with Tamina Snuka by their side.  This push is long overdue, and yet, it's not ideal.  I don't mean to gripe, believe me; it's just that they have been tossed into a title match with no storyline.  Apart from a string of low-key victories, they haven't generated any momentum before holding fast to this opportunity.  I hope this feud becomes personal.  Get Rikishi involved.  Have The Shield beat him down and let his boys make the save.  It's too soon for them to win gold, but this could propel WWE's second finest team into the limelight.

I tip my five-gallon stove pipe to Triple H for revivifying real tag team action.  And don't forget...The Wyatt Family is rubbernecking around the corner.

Video tomorrow.  Movie review on Wednesday.  Incidentally, what the fuck is happening to fast food in this country?  Look at this heresy, this godless imprecation.  Dave Thomas would be ashamed.  A pretzel bacon cheeseburger?  What gives, America???


Album Cover of the Week


Blood Capsule #33


Jaume Balaguero...write that name down.  Most horror aficionados are familiar with him because of the [Rec] franchise, but I never bothered with those flicks.  The entire "found footage" subgenre makes my taint oscillate.  That's not a good thing.  The only other Balageuro vehicle that I've ravaged is 1999's The Nameless, which I found to be genuinely disturbing.  Sleep Tight accesses the same part of your brain, the part that sends your skin into hair-raising horripilation (it's a word, asshole).  Imagine discovering that a creeper has been underneath your bed clutching a tissue soused in chloroform.  For five weeks.  Now imagine that he has violated you without your knowledge.  Meet Cesar, ladies and gentlemen!

This guy is a unique villain.  He doesn't get off on killing you; he just wants to destroy your life.  He wants you to be as anguished and disconsolate as he is.  The action is confined to an apartment building, but Balaguero's unflappable camerawork gives the film frightening dimensions.  The tension is ubiquitous, and the characters are grounded in reality.  Cesar is never portrayed as a criminal mastermind.  Rather, he is portrayed as a damaged soul who second-guesses himself and fucks up on occasion.  It goes without saying that the cast is above reproach.  Sleep Tight is a keeper on all fronts.  I really, really need to watch The Nameless again.


Geek Out #86

So.  This is a goofy fucking movie.  Amusing creature effects, though.  Where did the dollhouse come from anyway?


Neglected Columns

Maybe you folks don't notice it, but I've neglected certain columns as of late (namely Dead Links and Panels From Beyond the Grave).  I simply haven't read many comics since the hiatus.  That will change soon.  There is one comic, in particular, that I've been saving for a special occasion.  I can't wait to crack it open.  The Dead Links section is a different pickle altogether.  This is where I turn to you, dear reader.  Do you know of any cool, geeky websites that deserve more attention?  Hell, I'll even plug your website.  Drop me a line at the e-mail address in the upper right-hand corner.

I'm not sure what the weekend will bring, but you know that I'll post something.  That's my precept, my rallying cry.  "Random Reviews Incorporated...it's not that great, but it exists."'


Ghost Town

I know I've said this before, but one of the perks of this "job" is ferreting out obscure gems that even hardened horror junkies don't hash over very often.  1988's Ghost Town is a splendid example of a competent picture that fell through the cracks.  But why did it dissipate into the melanoid crevasse of vacuity?  Why does an ostrich fist itself near kindergarten playgrounds?  Only God knows.  Actually, there is some speculation that may shed light on this film's status as a diamond in the rough.  For starters, it was released by Empire, a studio that accouched 4,917 movies per year.  It would have been easy to get lost in the shuffle.  Plus, there are rumors that executive producer Charles Band plopped Ghost Town onto video shelves with zero fanfare before it was completed.

Again, this is speculation.  I don't know what happened.  Someone on IMDb claims that the official VHS cut of this horror/western hybrid is a mere workprint.  If so, it's not a bad workprint.  The production values are stellar.  I'm assuming that the diminutive budget was allocated to the right departments, though this isn't exactly a fireworks display of visual effects.  Gore is scant.  The rustic setting feels authentic, but if an amusement park can furnish an ostensibly tenantless "ghost town" with carnival cardboard, it can't be that taxing.  Heh, I like how I'm belittling the work that goes into creating art.  I should do that more often.  I'm sure that it's becoming.

A bland deputy is assigned to the disappearance of...a chick.  We never really learn about her.  We don't learn much about our protagonist, for that matter.  That's probably Ghost Town's crackerjack pitfall.  All of the characters are stock pastiches of crude characteristics.  Take the deputy, for instance.  He's a rugged, handsome moral anchor.  That's it.  I'm swiveling down a cul-de-sac of excursive information.  Back on track; Langley (oh, that's the deputy's name) follows clues to a literal ghost town.  From there, he inadvertently steps into the past and must defeat a black-clad ghoul to save the sandy whistle-stop.  Shades of Army of Darkness, the main difference being the script's somber tone.  Honestly, it could have used a moderate dose of levity.

Ghost Town is entertaining enough.  I don't dislike it.  The pace is swift, the acting is decent and the baddie is relatively cool.  Unfortunately, the entire film is as one-dimensional as its hero.  It's almost too simple.  I didn't care for the victims, so I wasn't emotionally invested in the plot threads.  Director Richard Governor hasn't sat behind a camera since, which gives credence to the theory that he abandoned the project towards the end of principal photography.  It's a shame because Ghost Town is well-shot.  Naturally, it has eluded deluxe DVD treatment.  Strange, seeing as how everything else stamped with Band's appellation is readily available in multiple formats.  If you manage to find a copy, give it a shot.  It's fit for a lazy weekend.



The Double Turn

Like most wrestling fans, I was reminded of Bret Hart and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin's submission match at Wrestlemania 13 when Alberto Del Rio viciously attacked a concussed Dolph Ziggler last night at Payback.  Will this double turn propel Ziggy the way that Austin was propelled in 1997?  No.  It will not.  For that to happen, he would have to be over in more than three cities.  Del Rio is also struggling to connect with fans.  In fact, he's almost "under."  No one gives a fuck about him, and I'd be surprised if he was still on WWE's roster by this time next year.  A harsh prediction?  Maybe.  Look, he's undeniably talented in the ring, but he doesn't have intangible oomph.

Ziggler still has potential, but if he's going to be the next breakout star, he needs to hit the ground running.  Tonight.  His on-screen girlfriend was finally given a chance to showcase her wrestling skills against Kaitlyn.  From the second she debuted on NXT, I knew that A.J. would go far.  As far as Kaitlyn is concerned, the jury is still hemming and hawing.  But it's a hung jury!  GET IT?  The Shield is starting to lose steam, so something major needs to happen there.  I could see adding another member, preferably developmental hopeful Paige.  A feud between her and A.J. is bound to happen sooner or later.

Can we kill Ryback now?  It's not his fault he tanked, but enough is enough.  The time has come to take Daniel Bryan to the next level.  I know it, you know it, everyone knows it...don't they?

PS-Watch for The Uso's to be put on the fast track.  Let's do this, Jean-Paul!


CM Wolverine

I just watched a lot of basketball and wrestling.  I'll write something more in-depth about it tomorrow.  Raw should be interesting, to say the least...


Album Cover of the Week


The Cyclops

I don't know if this counts as a disclaimer, but I watched the Thriller Video version of 1957's The Cyclops hosted by Elvira.  Honestly, the busty lorelei's punchline-ridden segments colored my viewing experience.  They made the film more entertaining than it probably was (that was the express purpose, I suppose).  I can't hold Elvira's curvilinear charm against The Cyclops, though.  Hell, she makes everything better, and knowing my questionable taste, I would have enjoyed this nutty sci-fi reel anyway.  It was written and directed by b-movie chieftain Bert I. Gordon, the resourceful lad behind Earth vs. the Spider and Empire of the Ants.  The latter is an unheralded "nature runs amok" classic.  You seriously need to watch it.  Just thought I'd throw that out there.

If you haven't grappled with one of Gordon's rear-projection pageants, his divertissements usually flaunted low-rent creature effects and somewhat talky scripts.  I'm not doing a good job selling The Cyclops as an ideal time-waster, am I?  Perhaps I should move on to the synopsis.  Susan charters a plane to search for her missing fiancĂ© in a mountainous region of Mexico.  An eccentric millionaire funds half of the trip in the hopes of claiming uranium deposits.  The area at hand is rumored to be rich in the stuff.  I'm not sure what he wants with it, unless he plans on bolstering the pyrophoricity of high-density penetrators or building a ballast for a missile re-entry vehicle.  Know what I mean?

Anyway, her beau's plane crashed there three years ago.  She believes that he's still alive, so against the pilot's better judgment, the troupe (a motley bunch that also includes a lovelorn scientist) embarks on a safari of sorts.  What do they find?  Well, they find a giant bird, a giant rodent, a giant salamander and a giant...dude.  Said dude's face is horribly disfigured.  He only has one eye, hence the title.  Credit Jack Young for devising nifty make-up effects.  The ogre's countenance is so gruesome, it was later used in War of the Colossal Beast, the sequel to Gordon's own The Amazing Colossal Man.  The rest of the visuals are lousy, but hey, such blunders come with the territory.

If you can muscle through the exposition, your patience will be rewarded.  The Cyclops is actually pretty damn violent.  In fact, TCM airs a censored print that excises two minutes of gore.  We're not talking torrents of blood here, but the star heavy's demise is graphic nonetheless.  On the bronze end of the anal beads (hazel, terra-cotta, burnt sienna...take your pick), the storyline is profoundly dumb.  The reasons given for the land's genetic mutations are as hazy and vague as your teenaged sister's status updates on Facebook.  Plus, I found Susan to be an exasperating main character.  Surprisingly, Lon Chaney Jr. turns in the most inspired performance of the lot.  And this was during his "potted tippler" phase!

The Cyclops is on DVD via Warner's burn-on-demand service.  I'm sure it's cool, but I recommend hunting down the Thriller Video version.  Because, y'know, Elvira.


Geek Out #85

Rewatched Terror of Mechagodzilla recently.  It still owns.  Am I the only one who adores Titanosaurus?


Alice in Chains - THE DEVIL...

WARNING: This will be a biased review.  In all truth, every review ever written is biased to some extent.  It's no secret, however, that I worship Alice in Chains.  They are my favorite band on the planet, and you should know that before perusing my perlustration of The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here.  I fucking love this album.  It's hard to explain why, but I'll give it a shot.  Personally, I don't think a band can handle a reunion any better than these cats did.  I wasn't sold on the idea of a Staley-less AIC at first, but then I heard 2009's Black Gives Way to Blue.  I fucking love that album.  The muddy vocal harmonies, the abrasive riffs and the earnest lyrics were still pervasive in Jerry Cantrell's musical concrete mixer.

In defiance of supererogatory misgivings, I prefer Devil to its predecessor.  I haven't run across many fans who share my opinion, but from where my toned ass is sitting, this record sounds like it should.  I feel the need to address some of the proverbial sideswipes I've read online.  Now, if you just don't dig it, that's fine.  But I'm seeing rhubarbs that don't make logical sense.  Several people have bemoaned the fact that Jerry continues to wrangle the vast majority of lead vocals.  I was expecting William DuVall's textured vibrato to be more prominent myself, but what does that have to do with the quality of the songs?  Maybe you can't warm up to Jerry's voice.  Okay, but I can.  For all we know, it's William's decision to recoil from the limelight.

I've also heard complaints that Devil is too slow.  There may not be a "We Die Young" nestled in between the lumbering 6-minute stragglers, but remember, this is the band that released "Rooster" as a single.  Dirt was 75% sludge (a conservative estimate), and the self-titled set was even sludgier.  I'm focusing too much on detractors.  My sincere apologies.  Again, it's hard to spell out my weakness for these tunes.  I simply relate to them, and I'm convinced that Jerry Cantrell is one of the most underrated songwriters in rock.  Notice that I didn't say guitarist or singer, although his lead work is exceptional.  Devil contains a few of his leanest solos to date.  How he is able to devise melodies this infectious is beyond my comprehension.

Seriously, listen to the chorus of "Lab Monkey."  That's a hook that will stick to the ribs.  "Hollow" is an ideal opening track, what with its smoldering stomp and stacked harmonies.  It's almost as if Jerry and William have been crooning together for decades.  The slanted notes of "Pretty Done" are vintage AIC.  I vehemently disagree with those who claim that Devil resembles Jerry's solo material.  At least half of his solo stuff was intended to be Alice in Chains stuff.  I'm divaricating (sorry, that shit pisses me off).  I could ramble for another four paragraphs, but you get the general idea.  The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here is vital.  Hell, the lesser cuts destroy anything on modern rock radio.  If you're wondering, "Voices" and "Hung on a Hook" qualify as lesser, but I never skip them.

So there you have it.  I try to be objective, but I can't hide my fanboy alacrity.  If you love Alice in Chains, motherfucking purchase this compact disc.  It's imperative.


Matches That Time Forgot #54

Yep, I'm back!  This should prove to be a voltaic summer here at Random Reviews Incorporated.  What better way to inaugurate the festivities than with a nebbish, uneventful match that time forgot?  I liken it to starting a set of braggadocios "cock rock" anthems with a power ballad.  Bear with me, dearhearts.  It's not easy to bootlick a fidgety web surfer (heh, no one says that anymore) into reading a column about The Fabulous Rougeau Brothers.  Even die-hard wrestling nerds don't have much of an opinion about this particular tag team.  Most smarks seem to agree that they were one of the more consistent tandems during the tag team boom of the late 80's.

Jacques and Raymond made their bread and butter, nominal though it was, as heels.  But did you know that they were nondescript babyfaces for almost two years before incommoding The Killer Bees and hiring "Mouth of the South" Jimmy Hart as their manager?  They struggled to get over as good guys, hence the eventual turn.  However, they were successful enough to earn a shot at the tag titles in 1987.  In fact, they won the titles at a house show, but the referee's decision was reversed and the record books don't acknowledge the victory.  This...is not that match.  This...is not an outstanding match.  I...am second-guessing key choices in my life.

If I'm being honest, I prefer The Quebecers.  I don't need to enucleate the primal badassery of The Hart Foundation.  Bret is the excellence of execution, and Jim is a barking goon.  It works.  On a sidenote, this bout features the worst commentary I've ever heard.  Who in the teal fuck is Mike McGuirk?  Fuck that motherfucker.  ADDENDUM: Apparently, Mike was the glittery vest announcer bitch.  My brain is backwards now.


Getting there...

Dom Coccaro, purveyor of pussy-smashing (seen here conquering the world).

It's been awhile, hasn't it?  I said I was going to move into a new apartment, and I did.  We're pretty much settled in.  The only thing keeping Random Reviews from picking up where it left off is...a little hard to explain.  For reasons unknown to man, we can't seem to hook up my Blu-ray player (as well as my VCR) to my television in the correct way.  Bear in mind, I'm relying on people who can barely operate a remote control without availing themselves of a sun dial or colloguing with a necromancer.  We'll see what happens over the weekend, but for the time being, I'm forty-seven kinds of fucked.

Secondly, I'm dealing with a typical bout of depression.  My brain is plotting against me, and I'm finding it difficult to be productive.  Still, I do expect to relaunch this site sooner than later.  When it happens, everyone will know.