Geek Out #94

Well, that was a nightmarish week.  Thanks to everyone who sent condolences.  It's much appreciated.  As the Halloween season approaches, I'm looking forward to kicking shit into high gear.  What better way to galvanize the festivities than with an uber-tubular Geek Out?  I have disembalmed a Halloween-themed episode of Bobby's World where the star Generic teams up with Uncle Ted to construct a SUPER COOL "spookhouse."  Shit, it's amazing.  Even the token bullies get into the spirit.

PS-The Puppet Master review enterprise has resumed production...!



Ugh, this week is going to suck.  My grandfather is currently in hospice with bone cancer.  I've spent most of today/yesterday there, and I'll be there until he passes.  He doesn't have much longer left to live.  Until we get through this, I have to put everything on hold.  I do expect to continue work on the site by the end of the week.  The PM series review will eventually proceed as scheduled.  Thanks for your patience and understanding.


Album Cover of the Week


Karnivool - ASYMMETRY

My friends are probably sick of hearing me talk about Karnivool.  They are my favorite band at the moment.  If you've never heard of them, they have been called Australia's answer to Tool.  Asymmetry is the new disc, and it's the most Tool-esque album of their compendiary catalog.  I don't want to drive those comparisons into the ground, though.  Karnivool is a unique reduction of progressive rock and atmospheric alternative metal.  Vague enough?  Good.  2009's Sound Awake is godly, in my eyes.  They may never top it, and honestly, I wasn't expecting Asymmetry to reach vertiginous heights of ophthalmic coition.  Confusing enough?  Good.  Basically, I didn't think it was possible for this opus to surpass its predecessor.

It doesn't.  In all fairness, it couldn't.  I connected to Sound Awake on a deep, emotional level.  You know how certain music defines you?  Like, you heard it at the right time in your life and it pierced your fucking soul?  That's what Sound Awake did to me.  As a teenager, I assumed that every new release from my seraphic circle of anointed bands (Deftones, Alice in Chains and Opeth to name a few) would blow my mind.  As an adult, I've learned why that's not possible.  That doesn't mean that Asymmetry is a dispiriting disappointment.  Quite the contrary; it's a pronged, piquant affair.  This five-piece was focused in the studio, and it shows.  Please oblige my attempt at an analogy...Aenima is to Lateralus what Sound Awake is to Asymmetry.

I promise that I'll forfeit the Tool references, but hear me out.  Sound Awake - like Aenima - was layered, yet immediate.  Dense, yet catchy.  Asymmetry - like Lateralus - is less accessible.  Technicality is reinforced.  It's still melodic, but those pristine melodies are dressed in angular signatures and partitioned by walls of ambient noise.  On the surface, there seem to be a handful of filler tracks.  Those moments serve a purpose, however.  Asymmetry is an album that requires several spins.  I tried to review it after five listens, give or take, but I wasn't comfortable with the music.  I needed to dive in headfirst.  Even now, I don't love every song, but I understand where they fit in the grand scheme of the full album experience.

Yep, it's one of those CD's.  "The Refusal" is the only tune that makes sense out of context.  Perhaps unsurprisingly, it's the heaviest piece of abstract art-rock here.  "We Are" serves as the first official single.  Its bizarre cadence is slightly offputting, but Ian Kenny's soulful vocal lines will be stuck in your head for days.  I want his voice, goddamn it.  He turns backwards arrangements into hummable, palatable bits that could fare well at radio.  Having said that, Karnivool tosses the concept of a verse/chorus formula into a proverbial litter basket.  Hell, "Aeons" barely repeats itself at all.  The docile "Eidolon" comes the closest to being conventional, but it's followed by "Sky Machine," a nearly 8-minute composite of spasmodic drumming and thick vocal harmonies.

Stylistically, the album title is rather telling.  The front half of Asymmetry is brimming with direct, riff-based quasi-metal.  The closing numbers are sparse, and the instrumentation gradually dies down.  I might be too A.D.D. for the slow-burning "Alpha Omega."  My mind is usually occupied with something else by that point (sex, Godzilla, sex, The Ultimate Warrior, sex, German thrash).  All in all, this is excellent prog/alt/whatever.  Sound Awake resides in its own universe, so it wouldn't be fair to put the two sets side by side.  Rate Asymmetry on its own merits.  You may find that it's pretty damn impressive.


Wedding Nails

A video on a Friday night???  Madness!



I'm currently writing something for a different project.  When it's available to read, I'll let you read it (that will make more sense at a later date).  In the meantime, here's the titular monster from Monster in the Closet.  Because.


Puppet Master II

I probably should have opted to review 1991's Puppet Master II in the form of a Blood Capsule.  But I didn't.  So here we go!  David Allen's Universal-inspired sequel doesn't do much to get the kids talking.  Heh, that's an amusing image.  I'm picturing a covey of grade schoolers attentively recounting their Full Moon rental experiences during recess, their bantam trunks constituting a belt of expressive eyes in close proximity to the monkey bars.  Can't you just see the mirth ingrained in their collective brow as they enumerate the previous night's horror show?  "My dad rented Meridian," Ricky offers.  "Boy howdy, it was scary!"  Shawn pipes up with an anecdote of his own.  "We watched Dollman.  What an adventure!"

Dom's wheelchair, sluggish with the languor of a low battery, approaches the rabble of children.  "My dad went to the video store drunk.  He came home with Puppet Master II."  An uncomfortable hush sweeps over Dom's supposed friends.  He knows they hate him.  Still, Rachel tries to pique some semblance of cordial, palsy-walsy goodwill.  "I liked the first one," she interjects with a nervous tremor in her voice.  "So did I!"  Dom is losing patience.  "Part two is no fun, though.  They turned Andre Toulon into a base, vitriolic blackguard."  The other kids have no idea what Dom means.  A base blackguard?  Is that like a black baseball player?  Tommy is curious.  "They turned him into Barry Bonds?"  Everyone chuckles...everyone except for Dom, that is.

I'm not sure where that tangent came from.  Folks, this is what you write when you don't have a whole hell of a lot to proclaim.  Puppet Master II is blah.  It's not a total misfire.  You may have noticed my allusion to Universal monsters, a wistful tide of iconic villains that made their mark on dailies of all stripes.  I wasn't expecting this franchise to avouch its love for the classics, but lo and behold, Allen pays homage to 1933's The Invisible Man.  Let me explain.  Our precarious puppets bring their master back from the dead.  Seeing as how Toulon is a putrid, decaying zombie fellow, he disguises himself underneath mounds of gauze.  Add a hat and a snappy pair of sunglasses to the equation; hey, it's Claude Rains!

The Universal vibe can be observed elsewhere in the film's fog-sopped churchyards, candlelit spiral staircases and blustery exterior shots.  Needless to say, I dug the atmosphere.  What's a fright flick without thunder and lightning?  I also got a kick out of Torch, the latest addition to Toulon's brigade of itsy-bitsy mutineers.  He comes equipped with bullet teeth and a flamethrower.  BULLET TEETH AND A FLAMETHROWER.  Fuck, that's gnarly.  On the dull end of the arbalest, none of the characters are remotely compelling.  We're stuck with a team of interchangeable paranormal investigators, and I couldn't give you a name at gunpoint.  At least the players in the original had distinct personalities (the bitchy lush, the nymph, the soft-spoken dead ringer for Klaus Kinski, etc.).

Puppet Master II's worst offense is shitting on Andre Toulon.  How did he transform from a sweet, good-natured old man into a rapacious sociopath?  In the first movie, he sacrifices himself for his puppets (or his "children," as he calls them).  Here, he uses them and fucks them in the ass.  Er, figuratively speaking.  Why the change of heart?  It's never addressed.  For a reason that has yet to be determined, this bothered me too much.  Perhaps it wouldn't have been an issue if the rest of Puppet Master II was consistently inviting.  I know that this isn't the shabbiest entry in the series, but I'm sorry.  It didn't tickle my taint.


Shitty Webcam Movie Review Site Update I Have Heartburn #44

A brief update plus wrestling talk.


Geek Out #93

This might be the best Geek Out I've ever posted.  And that's no hyperbole, son.  Now, those unfortunate enough to know me on a personal level understand that I love 1997's The Night Flier in a ruinous, monomaniacal way.  In my (accurate) opinion, it's the most underrated Stephen King adaptation on the planet.  Director Mark Pavia is currently working on a King-sourced anthology, so this would be an apt time to release his feature-length debut onto Blu-ray.  The anonymous user who uploaded today's Geek Out footage to YouTube has launched an online petition to get the ball rolling on such an endeavor.  About the footage...

It's over 60 minutes of behind-the-scenes material that have never seen the light of day.  Clearly, this news coaxed an acrid load of trouser gravy from the pith of my peat moss.  What a find!  Some of it doesn't have audio, and it will only interest super fans of The Night Flier, but whatever.  It's crazy cool.  Thanks to Nick Schwab for the heads up.


Summerslam hangover...

I'll be back tomorrow.  Does this count as an update?  I'm saying yes.


Album Cover of the Week


Random thoughts on a couple of flicks...

So yeah, I rented Killer Joe.  Really good movie.  I didn't know much about the plot going in, which made the viewing experience all the more gratifying.  The cast is immaculate.  McConaughey gives the performance of his career, while Juno Temple steals the screen as a white trash siren named Dottie.  I was dumbfounded to discover that she's British.  It's no wonder that she has been semi-pigeonholed into "loose Southern belle" roles.  She nails them!  William Friedkin's direction is watertight, but that goes without saying.  I can't recommend Killer Joe enough.  It's fucking twisted.

On some level, it outpaces the Evil Dead remake in the nausea department.  I finally caught the polemic redux, and man, it really wants to fuck you up.  Here's the problem; it's a swell horror picture, but it goes for the guts too soon.  20 minutes in, and the bitch is already being raped by vines (or a vine worm, in this case...the fuck?).  Did the blonde girlfriend have a name?  Did she even have lines?  Mia could have been an engaging character, but her arc extends to brooding and vomiting.  That's it.  The expository dialogue is awful.  "Hey, I'm your big brother.  And other stuff relating to our backstory."

I certainly didn't hate it.  Maybe I sound quarrelsome, but I did appreciate the practical effects.  As a midnight spookshow, it passes with flying colors.  Of course, it's not a patch on the original.  Oh, and fuck the random, meaningless post-credits stinger.


Hey, Joe

I rented Killer Joe tonight.  I need to watch something non-puppety.  Stay tuned for...yeah, stay tuned!


I don't know if you've ever tried to review Puppetmaster with a raging headache, but it's not awesome.  Alas, I can't keep my fawning zealots waiting any longer.  I suppose that I should savor these moments while they last.  The first half of the Puppet Master series is a grace period of sorts.  I'm going to be dragging knuckles and testicles by the time I get to Axis of Evil.  First, I need to get something off of my chest.  Barring the poster, the inaugural film in this series presents its title as one word.  The rest of the lot?  "Puppet" and "master" are separate entities.  Why?  No, seriously.  Why???  And why does this irk me so?  Make up your mind, Band.

Of course, Puppetmaster is synonymous with ol' Charlie, but the 1989 original is directed by David Schmoeller.  He knows what he's doing, as evidenced by the threatening Tourist Trap and the curious Crawlspace.  Here, he does an exemplary job of conducting the chaos on-screen.  According to extremely reliable sources (the Internet), Band extradited Schmoeller from the franchise's cathedra because he didn't want to share the spotlight with another living soul.  He never invited the poor bastard to record a commentary track for the DVD, and according to other extremely reliable sources (a different website), he still owes him residuals.  Who knows if all of that is true?  At the moment, I don't care.

Let's get down to brass tacks.  Puppetmaster is capable entertainment.  It holds the rather unique distinction of having "villains" who are propositioned as good guys.  The puppets themselves were engineered by an aging, troglodytic alchemist played by William Hickey.  They were created to be mere companions, but if manipulated by impish hands, they could be ghastly little things.  And that's exactly what happens.  Long story short, a dappled troupe of pint-sized assassins terrorize people in a posh hotel overlooking the sea.  Our cannon fodder is a mixed bag of psychics, witch doctors and kinky psychotherapists.  At least the script avoided the usual slasher stereotypes (jock, slut, nerd, etc.).

Schmoeller has fun playing with surreal dream sequences and ankle-high POV shots.  Puppetmaster certainly looks fabulous, even if we're limited to a single location.  The kills are just gory enough.  I'll admit that Leech Woman is fucking gross, and her spot on the Boogeymen compilation is well-earned.  Blade is badass, Jester is creepy (that goddamn spinning head), Pinhead is an agreeable lug...for better or worse, the puppets are more interesting than their human counterparts.  I wasn't sold on the film's tone.  By that, I mean the horror is cuffed by a finespun streak of slapstick humor.  It's not too obtrusive, but it's pronounced enough to dampen my twinkie.  The opening scene, in particular, is almost painful.  Blade is knocked down by a swinging door, and we hear birds chirping. Hysterical!

In general, Puppetmaster is harmless buffoonery.  You can probably tell, but I wasn't electrocuted by its heart-stopping chills and spills.  I dig it regardless.  It is what it is.  A sequel I could understand, but nine?  Was the merchandise that renumerative?  Was the direct-to-video market that profitable?  Is it too late for me to back out?  Will Jesus forgive me for watching all of these larks?


Shitty Webcam Movie Review Site Update I Have Heartburn #43

This is a good video.


Geek Out #92

You know how you feel five minutes before you vomit?  That's what this is.  The actual vomiting starts Wednesday.  I guess you can call this a prelude?  And no, I'm not fucking reviewing Blood Dolls.



Not to be confused with salt of the Veruca variety.  Let me tell you, this Swedish trio is a bitch to search for online.  Chances are, you haven't heard of Salt.  They had a minor hit in 1996 (a hard-driving number called "Bluster"), but aside from that solitary glint of success, they were virtual unknowns in America.  And it's easy to see why.  "Bluster" appeared on Auscultate, their major label debut.  1996 was an unfortunate year to be admitted to rock radio, especially when you consider that Salt specialized in streamlined post-grunge.  If they had emerged two years prior, they might have found a far-reaching fanbase.  Take Veruca Salt, for instance.  I'm not suggesting that they were overweening trendhoppers (personally, I adore VS), but they came around at just the right time.

Salt was consigned to obscurity from the get-go.  After releasing a kickass collocation of b-sides and rarities in 1997, they quietly disbanded.  Today, frontwoman Nina Ramsby is a bald pop songstress/activist in her country of origin.  I'm pretty sure that she's a lesbian.  Of course, it's completely irrelevant, but I've noticed that there were quite a few 90's bands spearheaded by bulldyke nightingales (Salt, Skunk Anansie, Smashing Pumpkins, et al.).  I'm grateful that I stumbled upon "Bluster" during a late-night YouTube adventure.  It's a shame that this record didn't catch on with...well, anyone.  It's fucking solid.  As with the bulk of "meat and potatoes" rock outfits from this glorious decade, it obliterates modern day fluff.

So what exactly does Salt sound like?  To my ears, they come off as a cross between the heavier end of Juliana Hatfield's sonic spectrum and Melissa Auf der Maur's solo material.  Barebones, yet well-executed.  Ramsby milks acres of mileage out of simple chord progressions and mid-range vocal melodies.  The trick?  Songcraft.  Y'know, the thing that most bands ignore entirely.  A discerning apperception of music theory is practically worthless without songwriting chops.  I don't know about you, but I like being able to remember a tune.  Fret not, headbangers!  Salt does not forsake rasping, sabulous guitars for sweet accessibility.  I believe that "tubular" is the word I'm looking for.

Okay, standout tracks.  "Honour Me" sums up Auscultate in four minutes flat.  It showcases Ramsby's mellifluous voice, dazzling harmonies and a crunchy rhythm section.  "Goddamn Carnival" will stay in your head for days.  "Lids" is a soothing ballad that builds to a circumrotary crescendo.  "Undressed," the kinetic album closer, is currently my favorite track.  It's hard to explain, so you really need to hear it yourself.  The promotional clip for "Bluster" is easy to find, and it rocks.  Again, you need to hear it yourself.  Do you enjoy straightforward hard rock with a 90's bent?  Fucking check out Salt.  For your information, the 1997 b-side compilation is entitled Delay Me Down and Make Me Wah Wah, give or take an exclamation point.


Blood Capsule #36


This Asylum mockbuster hit DVD as Attack From Beneath, so I'm assuming that the crack legal team behind everyone's favorite z-studio ran afoul of juridical drawbacks.  But make no mistake; this is a flagrant, shameless riff on Pacific Rim.  By normal standards, it's reprehensible.  By Asylum standards, it's...intermediate.  It's certainly not the worst glob of anal mulch they have secreted onto video shelves, but is that the encomium that they were fishing for?  I feel like I'm comparing serial killers.  "Hey, he may have murdered seven women, but at least he didn't rape them."  That's Atlantic Rim.  It didn't rape your sister's corpse.  Two thumbs up?

The monsters simply hatch from out of nowhere.  We don't learn shit about them, and to add crucifixion to injury, we only see one kind of mega-beastie.  Granted, I dug the pelagic, Elasmosaur-esque design.  The "Level 3" creature is badass, although budgetary restrictions severely limit his (her?) screen time.  Treach of Naughty by Nature fame gives the most grounded performance here.  Yeah.  The dialogue is insufferable, which wouldn't be an issue if Atlantic Rim was adequately entertaining.  It doesn't have the fun, carefree vibe that an Asylum production should have, in my opinion.  Still, I could justify renting it on a stodgy Saturday night.

Maybe if this flick was given a robust budget and a talented director...


Album Cover of the Week


Algebraic Equation of the Week

3 = 2x - 7

Find "x."



Sorry, this one is a bit late.  My schedule is whacked.

Didn't I just review this flick?  Wait, that was Ghost Town, a low-budget horror/western hybrid concerning a dastardly posse of black-clad cowboys from the 19th century.  This is 1987's Ghostriders, a low-budget horror/western hybrid concerning a dastardly posse of black-clad cowboys from the 19th century.  You could call them companion pieces.  I'm going to call them missed opportunities, although Ghostriders is the better of the two horse-drawn heaps.  Director Alan Stewart manages to rustle up diversion out of nothing at all, and I mean that sincerely.  Don't be fooled by the stylish, minatory poster.  There are no special effects, much less coral splashes of gore.

"But how could that be," you might ask.  "Those undead cowpokes look awfully spooky!"  Yeah, but in the actual movie, they appear as...people.  Mere people.  They're supposed to be ghosts, mind you, and they don't even have the civility to be crystalline skeletons of their former selves.  The prologue is intriguing enough.  The conscionable Reverend Thadeous Sutton has taken the law into his own hands.  He plans on hanging the leader of an iniquitous gang.  And he does.  But the gang, being iniquitous and all, returns one hundred years later as chimerical apparitions to terrorize the elder's great grandson.

I've got to be honest with you, compatriot.  It's going to be an onerous episode trying to wring four paragraphs out of Ghostriders.  Simply put, there isn't much here.  Once the basic premise is established, the film devolves into an emblematic stalk scenario bereft of sly, resourceful violence.  Not that I would expect grizzled ruffians to be sly or resourceful, but all we get is gunplay.  Granted, the bullet wounds are lovely little salvoes of burgundy protoplasm.  Kudos to the guy in charge of squibs.  Still, Ghostriders is lacking in eye candy.  It was shot in the middle of Texas, and it definitely resembles a film that was shot in the middle of Texas.  Shockingly, the characters wind up salvaging this tumbleweed.

The cast is full of nobodies, most of whom never acted again.  It's a miracle that they turned in serviceable performances.  For what it's worth, these are likeable folks.  The sole archetype is killed off at the tail end of the first act.  No harm, no foul.  It takes the central players way too long figure out how to dispatch the disheveled antagonists.  The same gimmick is used in Ghost Town.  That fertilizer (or "meadow muffin," if you prefer) had special effects, but I prefer Ghostriders.  The script is made of stronger stuff.  Hmm, I just realized that I gave Ghost Town the same rating.  For whatever reason, I don't remember it very fondly.  You know what?  Don't listen to a word I type.  I'm clearly out of my skull.

Robert Z'Dar says, "Hurry up and review the Puppet Master series."


Shitty Webcam Movie Review Site Update I Have Heartburn #42

And now, the moment you've all been waiting for...the major announcement!

Major Announcement Clue #4

Here is your last clue.  The announcement will be made late tonight.  Put them all together.  What do you get?  Yeah, these clues are probably too abstruse.  Meh.


Matches That Time Forgot #56

This is a rare instance where the match that time forgot is friggin' incredible.  The year?  1972.  A young Andre the Giant (billed as Monster Roussimoff) squares off against Strong Kobayashi in a 36-minute "two out of three falls" match.  I know what you're thinking.  It sounds like laborious torture, but reserve your judgment.  Andre was in spry shape.  Many people forget that he could go in his early matches.  In fact, he hadn't even hit 400 pounds yet.  Now, this contest took place in Japan, and Andre wouldn't work for the McMahon family until a year later.  He is packaged completely differently.  Promoters weren't sure how to capitalize on his mammoth proportions.

Case in point, The Giant is bodyslammed with relative ease.  It's surreal seeing him work as a heel, but he does a commendable job of connecting with a typically chastened audience.  This fight has it all...ring psychology, mat grappling, bare-chested brawling, you name it.  My favorite moment comes when Andre secures the first fall with a tombstone piledriver (!).  If you have only seen the man's work from the late 80's, you need to set aside time to watch this beauty.  Again, don't be deterred by the stipulation or the video's length.  Just shut up and watch it.


Album Cover of the Week

For Chris!

I took it easy this weekend to prepare for a hectic week to come.  Expect a Vanity Scare, a music review, a movie review and of course, the announcement.  Tell your friends.  RR Inc. is going to blow up, y'all.


Major Announcement Clue #3



Geek Out #91

So I was watching random hair metal videos on YouTube (as you do), and I ran across this gem.  Straight off of the Dream Master soundtrack, bitch!


The Town That Dreaded Sundown

A car can travel a few miles on an empty tank of gas.  But how far can a film go on credibility alone?  A fair warning...this will be one of those vacillating, wishy-washy reviews that straddles the wrought iron fence (oh, ouch) of inference.  Man, mediocrity is maddening.  Calling 1976's The Town That Dreaded Sundown mediocre almost feels blasphemous, but its stature as a horror heavyweight doesn't excuse ceaseless padding or a vagrant script.  I really wanted to treasure this flick.  I'll give it this much; it's probably director Charles B. Pierce's finest achievement in this grubby genre of ours.  Putting aside the ipseity of asshole-shaped opinions, I don't mind saying that I didn't care for The Evictors or The Legend of Boggy Creek.  Do I need to mention Boggy Creek II: And the Legend Continues?

That question is as rhetorical as Old Man Crenshaw's sex life.  Moving on!  I think.  First, the positive comments.  You can't write about Sundown without underscoring its immense influence on stalk-and-slash vehicles.  It wasn't the pre-eminent chiller of its kind, but it did forecast a certain symptom of exploitation.  You can thank Black Christmas - and through etymology, Psycho - for classy, subdued fright fare such as Halloween, Just Before Dawn, Curtains, etc.  Leave it to Sundown to beget less subtle offspring.  I'm looking at you, The Prowler and Friday the 13th (mainly the latter).  The scene where the "Phantom Killer" stabs Dawn Wells (a.k.a. motherfucking Mary Anne from Gilligan's Island) with a knife affixed to a trombone is plucked right out of 1984.

Critics try their damndest to label this movie as a crime noir/pseudo-documentary.  No.  It's a slasher.  And at the end of the day, it's a pretty good slasher.  The kills are harrowing, the villain's potato sack visage is eerie and the cinematography is downright beautiful.  That concludes the positive portion of today's review.  See, Sundown wants to be fiction and non-fiction simultaneously.  The cold, matter-of-fact narration sucks the suspense out of a film that wants to be suspenseful, that must be suspenseful.  We don't get to know any of the characters.  The cops stick to doing investigative cop stuff, and everyone else is either murdered or severely injured.  You would never know that the cast members are portraying actual three-dimensional people.

Sundown is based on a true story.  The prologue claims that only names have been changed (out of respect for the dearly departed, of course), but that's simply not true.  Many details are attenuated, hyperbolized and completely falsified.  I doubt very seriously that you'll be able to find DEATH BY TROMBONE in the public record.  The kicker?  We are immediately informed (like, two minutes in) that the hooded miscreant was never apprehended.  It's still a mystery.  The film ends with the goddamn narrator essentially declaring, "Y'know, they never found that guy."  Who needs a climax?  In spite of these patent flaws, I suggest you watch The Town That Dreaded Sundown.  It's mighty important, after all.

PS-The Shout Factory Blu-ray is badass.  Own it.