Wes Craven 1939-2015

"You haven't seen Shocker???"

I learned of Craven's passing early, early this morning.  In fact, I was still enveloped in the throes of sleep.  I was able to say "damn," but the gravity of his loss didn't occur to me.  My favorite directors are Bava and Cronenberg, but if I'm being honest, Craven might have been the most consistent scream king.  Sure, his resume is pocked with busts, but whose isn't?  He helmed four - four - fright flicks that are considered classics.  Of course, I'm referring to Last House on the Left, The Hills Have Eyes, A Nightmare on Motherfucking Elm Street, Scream and Vampire in Brooklyn.

I wish I had met the man and thanked him for creating Freddy Krueger.  The Crispy One scared the shit out of me until I was, like, 11 (okay, maybe 12).  My parents can attest to that.  I can't count how many times I woke them up from shrieking because Freddy was under my bed or stalking the hallways of my school.  In my dreams, that is.  The first Craven-tilled Elm Street entry that I watched AND loved was New Nightmare, which is still my most revered Freddy feature.

He made other solid works.  I dig The Serpent and the Rainbow, The People Under the Stairs, Shocker (fun cheese), Deadly Blessing (goofy cheese), Swamp Thing and yep, Red Eye.  Has Romero churned out a lean thriller in the last decade?  I think not.  But I didn't know him personally, and I'm willing to wager that most of you didn't either.  I can only offer my condolences to his friends and family.  Had no idea that he was badgered by brain cancer.  Hmm, "badgered" is probably underselling it.  Even when sincere, I'm a dickweed. *slaps forehead*

The horror community will miss you profoundly, Wes.




If pain was a woman's voice, it would sound like Chelsea Wolfe.  That's a compliment.  I should stipulate that she doesn't always strike as being pained, but listen to the tortured moments of "Dragged Out."  That's fucking pain.  It's excruciating!  I was nearly brought to tears the first time I heard the second verse.  When she intones "I'm so tired/I'm so tired," you believe her ass.  You can picture tears fluxing down her delicate, milk-white face in the vocal booth.  Have I said that I'm in love with Chelsea?  Because I am, and I'm currently fighting over her with two of my female Facebook buddies.  Back off, girls!  She's mine!

If you haven't heard of Miss Wolfe, I don't want to waste time on you.  Sorry.  I know that's blunt, but I think of Wolfe as a modern day Tori Amos, only less pretentious.  She appeals to metalheads, and this album is especially heavy.  Sonically, it's half-ambient and half-doom.  That doesn't begin to describe the olfactory bassinet of genres at work.  There are ribbons of experimental noise, electronic beats, acoustic guitars and black metal mist suffusing the sludge of Wolfe's otherworldly despair.  With titles such as "Simple Death," "Grey Days," "Color of Blood" and of course, "The Abyss," you can bank on Abyss sucking the life out of you.  In a good way!

These are terribly depressing tunes, which is one of the reasons why I heart them.  I'm not saying that this is a perfect record.  Well, maybe I am.  I don't know what I'm saying.  I do feel confident intimating that Abyss is Chelsea Wolfe's most realized long player yet.  She seems to be annealing as a songwriter.  2013's Pain is Beauty was an artistic apogee that saw the former folk singer nuzzle techno vibes, and I fucking dug it.  Heh, techno...what a 90's word.  Does anyone say "techno" anymore or is it trap?  Dubstep?  Trance?  Argh, you kids with your rave drugs and your Die Antwoord dotage.

Abyss opens with the braying industrialization of "Carrion Flowers," a ditty that serves as this disc's "Feral Love."  From there, the listener is clubbed over the head with a pair of distortion dirges.  "Iron Moon" was the first track manumitted onto the webbed nets, and yeah, it rocks.  I already told you about "Dragged Out."  "Maw" is our first encounter with balladry; it reminds me of something off of Unknown Rooms, Wolfe's set of unplugged rarities.  Favorites?  Holy shit, people.  Promise me you'll hit YouTube to savor "Simple Death."  Here...HERE.  I just did the legwork for you, and I can't use my goddamn legs!  What's your excuse now?

Oh, you don't give a shit?  That's actually a decent excuse.  I do give a shit, so I'm breaking out five fresh Abbaths.  Cue the drumfire.


Witching & Bitching

Remember The Last Circus?  I reviewed it back in 1973 years before it was made.  Anyhow, it was a genre-hurdling masterpiece framed by Alex de la Iglesia, a cult filmmaker who has been at it for well over two decades.  I didn't know that he was responsible for 2013's Witching & Bitching when I saw the trailer, but I did know that I was interested.  Like most of Alex's filmography, it's a paste-up of incommensurate styles.  Horror (duh), comedy, heist, romance...it tackles each flake of the cinematic spectrum with respect for the medium.  That's something a professional critic would say, isn't it?  Am I doing well?

There is almost too much plot for one movie.  Two men stage a fairly elaborate jewelry caper, the artifice involving the son of the dude in charge.  It's a risky play, but they pull it off and attempt to vamoose across border lines.  And they come so close to getting away with it, too!  That's just the first act of a 112-minute bijou, so I'm not spoiling anything.  By all means, rent this spooktacular.  It's entertaining as hell, especially if you fell in love with From Dusk Till Dawn.  It's easy to make that connection, as the two flicks are partitioned in the same manner.  For 30 solid minutes, you would never guess that you're watching a witchy wing-ding.

Of course, evil bitches eventually emerge.  They kidnap the little boy, tote him to an underground lair and prepare him to be devoured by The Great Mother.  Christ, wait until you see her (think Dead Alive).  There are also subplots running parallel to the cardinal thread.  Witching & Bitching is a lot to digest, but as much fun as I had scoping its chaos, I had to finish it in two separate sittings.  My eyes were heavy after trying to keep up with the subtitles.  Dialogue is copious, and the Spanish cast gabbles fleetly.  Jerry Seinfeld would call them "fast talkers."  I call them "fleet gabblers."  Hi, my name is Dom Coccaro, and I'm going to die alone.

The acting is first-rate.  It's hard to single out any one performance, so instead, I will adulate Carolina Bang's heat.  Because she is HOT.  She manages to be sultry and intimidating, which isn't easy to achieve.  Believe me; I can recall night after damaged night in front of a mirror to prove it (please don't ask).  For the most part, the special effects are fantastic.  If it weren't for that fucking CGI.  The Last Circus braved the exact same misfortunes, and it's extremely vexatious to have avoidable goofs crimp an otherwise fabulous picture.  Some of the minute details in the action went over my head, but aside from that, Witching & Bitching is rocking.

Shit, that would have made for a perfect closing sentence.  But!  I wanted to mention that the pace is harefooted.  It's faster than a pussycat.  Argh, was that really worth starting a new paragraph?  Review ruined!


The New Approach

In my mind, I've compared maintaining this website to being a pro-wrestler.  Ridiculous, right?  Well, hold on.  For almost six years now, I've worked on it under the imperial aegis of a full-time schedule.  Granted, that has been broken up by surgeries, tragedies and mandatory moves.  But when I commit to Random Reviews Incorporated, I commit full-bore.  Full-blast.  Full-shaft.  Full-fuck.  Full-cheesecake.  Inevitably, I have reached the part-time phase of my career as a "writer."  What does that mean?  Will I only work four or five PPV's per year?  Maybe one or two house shows?

It means that until further notice, I will post something (a review, a Geek Out, a Match That Time Forgot, etc.) once or twice a week.  It may be more frequent; it may be less frequent.  HOLY SHIT A NEW WYATT MEMBER JUST DEBUTED HOW TALL IS THAT MOTHERFUCKER--Woah, sorry.  I had to stop typing to watch Raw.

So basically, I'm going to update this digital narthex of nostalgia whenever I damn well please.  It all starts...whenever I damn well please!



I'm gonna take a hot minute.  Be back in a few days, you sexy bitches.  I'll explain later.  No, I won't.



The new Ghost record is upon us in streaming form!  Hell, it's on YouTube.  That's where we are as a nation.  Bands just put their new shit on fucking YouTube.  Whole albums!  I'm not complaining.  I'm broke.  I can't even afford to be broke.  That's how broke I am.  BROKE.

What the fuck was I talking about?  Yeah, Meliora is stupid catchy, and the production is redolent.  I'm not reviewing it, though I find it strange how fans are so easily divided.  This is a band that takes love/hate kinetics to new heights...lows?  They might as well call themselves Kiss.  Aside from the pre-release singles, I advise checking out "Spirit" and "Mummy Dust."


Blood Capsule #53


The last capsule I wrote was an appraisal of 1991's Teenage Exorcist.  I mention it only because that film and this film try to do the same thing.  They are both horror/comedy zappers, but Blood Diner gets it right.  It's not perfect; it's just a fancy-free pleasure trip, an entrada into a cannibal's kitchen.  Literally!  The plot concerns two brothers who want nothing more than to do right by their uncle (pictured).  I guess I should explain that Uncle Anwar died trying to appease an Egyptian goddess by hacking up virgins.  Naturally, his nephews endeavor to perpetuate the...family enterprise?  They're killing people anyway and selling the "leftovers" as bistro chum.

Initially proposed as a sequel to H.G. Lewis's Blood Feast, Blood Diner remodels the pillars of exploitation.  You want blood?  How about boobs?  Director Jackie Kong has you covered, and yes, that's a woman's name.  She knows how to drive this car.  She had driven it before with the less tantalizing The Being.  You're going to want to take it out for a spin if you haven't already.  It's a nice saturation of Frankenhooker, Bride of Re-Animator and of course, Blood Feast.  And Blood & Donuts!  That's a fun one.


Album Cover of the Week

The band is Bell Witch.  Hopefully, I'll have a Blood Capsule up by tomorrow night.  Would have been up NOW, but...I...um, I fell asleep.


Geek Out #119

I fucking took yesterday off.  I do that from time to time, which is my right as a goddamn American.  Anyway, for the past couple of months or so, I've been trying to find this film online somewhere.  It has to be an online viewing because the most affordable copy I have found scrapes a hundred duckets, and I'm far too broke for that shit.  The movie film picture show?  An obscure giallo by the name of The Red Queen Kills Seven Times.  Watch the clip.  Awesome, right?

If you know where I can gargle it, drop me a line.  Must.  Review it.


Dead Dudes in the House

Also known as The House on Tombstone Hill, Dead Dudes in the House (a bozo title coined by Troma) is a decent little slasher.  I have no idea how much Troma had to do with the production, but Lloyd Kaufman did distribute the VHS/DVD.  No doubt, it was Kaufman who designed the asinine cover "art."  Is that *NSYNC?  God, why did I bother with the asterisk?  Regardless, those House Party understudies are not actually in the film.  And that's the least surprising sentence I've ever typed.  The marketing materials want to sell you a carefree horror parody, something in the vein of Idle Hands or Scary Movie.  Admittedly, Dead Dudes does have a funny bone, but it's bearded in a fibrous membrane of terror.

You do come here for medical analogies, don't you?  For the most part, this flick is played straight.  I will cop to being worried at first.  The opening fifteen minutes are deplorable.  I despised every character, as it seems that their only purpose is to squabble and antipathize with each other.  You know what I'm talking about because you've seen this shit before in almost every Friday the 13th sequel.  Just fifteen fleeting minutes, and I was already boiling over with malice.  Execration!  Ignominy!  Dead Dudes was shaping up to be an arduous time, but it started calling plays out of the "haunted house" handbook.  I went with it.

It had to change up the formula, so it did.  The elemental plot is still exceedingly generic.  A clique of pals spend a weekend renovating a house that one of them bought at an auction.  Maybe this was the cool thing to do in the late 80's?  I swear to Mylanta.  Anyway, the oxidized homestead appears to be possessed by the spirit of an elderly killer.  An old lady, to be exact.  She has standard supernatural powers, though we never discover their source.  This is such a vague conflict.  Oh, her name is Annabelle Leatherbee.  That's important, I guess.  I know I sound surfeited, but for whatever reason, I watched Dead Dudes to the end.  I wanted to see its denouement, so writer/director J. Riffel must have hit a few checkpoints along the way.

Leatherbee is a creepy bitch.  Of course, she's impossibly strong, despite moving slower than my grandmother.  I realize that's not a particularly romantic juxtaposition, but it's true!  The pace is similarly bloodless.  Certain scenes are practically extinct, and you can forget, y'know, seeing stuff.  I'll bet that Dead Dudes was lit with a pygmy's flambeau.  Or a small torch.  Either/or.  Gore is average, and come to think of it, I don't recall any f-bombs.  Was Dead Dudes in the House lensed with a PG-13 rating in mind?  This question - and more - will be answered on tonight's episode of Unsolved Mysteries.  Man, now THAT was a shit joke.

This is a rainy day rental.  Remember those?  It's 2015, so I can access any obscure cult classic from the discomfort of my bedroom, and yet, I miss video stores.  What's that all about?  Humbug.


A match that time WILL NOT forget...

I just watched this match, and I had to post it.  I'll have a (movie) review up later, but if you have fifteen minutes to spare, check "dis" out.  From the season finale of Lucha Underground, I present to you Vampiro versus Pentagon Jr. in a psycho bloodbath.  It's fucking mental.  The ending makes it, although you'd have to watch the show to truly appreciate it.


I don't know...

No, really.


Album Cover of the Week

I don't even like this record (too noisy), but Jesus chiliad Christopher, look at that cover!


Lie torpid to?

I'm almost fucking 31.  Of course, that's not old, but I feel old.  I still have problems (and I always will) with depression, so you'd think I'd be full of metal rage, but these days, I listen to quieter music.  For example, I just zoned out and played Chelsea Wolfe's entire discography.  It's awesome music to hibernate to, lie torpid to, vegetate to...you get the picture.  When metalcore first started "happening," I could hang with the screamy-screamy kids.  I, too, was a Shadows Fall fan.  But somewhere along the way, that shit died out, replaced with a covey of bands who all sound the same.

I'm too old for that shit!  If I'm going to listen to screamy-screamy stuff, it has to be the genuine article.  It has to be OLD SCHOOL.  I jam Death, Immolation, Mayhem, Demolition Hammer, Marduk, Grave, Unleashed, etc.  Otherwise, it will probably be melodic and from the 80's/90's.  There are exceptions to the rule.  Battlecross seems decent for a newer act.  I'm rambling now.  What was my point?  My point was there will be an Album Cover of the Week soon.  Oh, and I'm old.


Dead Links #17

Today, I'm spotlighting a fellow chunk of Blogspot, a chronicle of each Outer Limits episode.  These guys dug deep into both seasons, and they even included scanned images from David J. Schow's OL-fervid tomes.  Apart from an April Fool's gag, they haven't updated the site much lately.  Now, I know the 90's revival of the show left something to be desired, but a suggestion, if I may...why not capsulize those purple tales of the paranormal?  They don't have to give it the same encyclopedia-exhaustive treatment that they gave the original series.

Before you ask, no.  No, no, no.  I'm not doing it.  It's a thing I want to read, not write.  Drop it.



1955's Tarantula was one of the first movies I owned on VHS.  Dad and I would go to Media Play every other weekend (the finest brick-and-mortar establishment evermore), I would glue myself to the horror section and usually, I would come home with a creature feature.  This was around...1996?  Those were the fucking days, man.  I have so many Media Play memories.  It was where I acquired most of my collection, but tragically, the chain went belly up in 2006.  Oh, right; this is a film critique.  I'll save my Media Play chatter for another day.  Tarantula is a Jack Arnold classic.  Who is Jack Arnold, a golfer with a peripatetic slice that just can't be ironed out?

No, though I relish the opportunity to vamp with my golf humor.  Arnold directed It Came From Outer Space, Creature From the Black Lagoon and The Incredible Shrinking Man.  He knew his way around a sci-fi ostentation.  I watched this flick quite a bit as an insular 12-year-old.  Yesterday, I watched it as an insular 30-year-old, and wouldn't you know it, I enjoyed myself.  It's easy to enjoy.  For one, it runs for a humanitarian 66 minutes.  I believe that all (yes, all) motion pictures should submit (yes, submit) at a little over the hour mark.  That's my ADD talking.

When it comes to "giant insect" b-reels, the glory goes to Them!.  And Them! totally rocks, but so does Tarantula.  I noticed that the special effects are on fleek.  Did I say that right?  Goddamn it.  Anyway, the methods used here are miniaturization and matte photography.  We also see intricate make-up in the case of two deformed scientists, scientists who are not mad, might I add.  Professor Deemer didn't mean for this to happen, but if I'm being honest, I'm not 100% sure what end he was trying to reach.  He does mention living forever.  How does that explain injecting animals with mutant growth hormone(s)?

Whatever.  I mean, what good is immortality with an overzealous pituitary gland?  Yikes!  So a spider escapes from Deemer's laboratory and crawls across the desert plains.  That's all there is to the plot.  The viewer doesn't need more from this, a tightly-wound popcorn bedazzler.  The pace is rollicking, the cast is fine and Nestor Paiva plays the sheriff.  Did you hear me?  Nestor Paiva plays the sheriff!  He was the fuddled chieftan in the first two Gillman epics.  Aw, you don't care.  So Tarantula...come for the poster, stay for the special effects.  That's my tagline.


Eyes won't stay open...

I'm working on my next review, but I can't stay awake to save my life.  God, what a weird saying.  I'll post it tomorrow.  I will!


Sweet Tea


Matches That Time Forgot #65

I have a nagging headache, but that hasn't stopped me from watching wrestling.  Of course, I'll be tuning in to Raw to see the Roddy Piper tribute.  I thought about showcasing one of his matches, but then I saw this one.  Mr. Perfect was hobbled by injuries before leaving for WCW, so he never got a chance to feud with Vince's Attitude Era studs.  He did work a short program with Shawn Michaels towards the tail end of 1993, but if you'll notice, this match took place in 1991.  HBK is still in Rocker mode, and the two of them sell their asses off.  Experts agree; these are possibly the best sellers in the history of the business.

By the end of this row, Marty Jannetty and Bobby (fucking) Heenan are at ringside.  The Brain starts the match on commentary.  He calls The Big Boss Man a "big Barney Fife," which got a laugh out of me.  There is a reason why it's called The Golden Era...



Our air-conditioning is working again (hopefully, for good), so I can focus on the task at hand.  The task?  Letting you know about the ripping metallitude of Unleash the Archers, a Canadian power/speed thrash band scorching the earth one listener at a time.  I mentioned these folks a little over a week ago (yes, I hope to compile another edition of Stuff I'm Listening To soon-ish).  I don't know if I sold them properly, though.  The music is cool, but it's cinctured by a righteous, illimitable voice belonging to Brittany Slayes, duchess of badassery.  I probably should have capitalized that.  Fuck it.  That may not be her real name, but it might as well be her given cognomen.  She slays, you see.  SLAYS.

Outside of Floor Jansen, she could be the most gifted female vocalist working in metal today.  What makes her so goddamn gifted?  Slayes can hit full-throat notes that only bats can detect.  That's a lot of zeptohertz!  I think.  I need to beef up on hertz-to-decibel conversions.  She slides in a speck of falsetto here and there, but for the most part, she screams her clit off.  In fact, I suspect that she had balls at one point.  I would single out one tune for you to inspect, but the incogitable truth of the matter is that she shatters glass on every track.  It's awesome.  Well, it's awesome if you dig singers with "holy shit" range.

As I stated earlier, the music keeps up with Miss Slayes.  It's not jaw-dropping, but it doesn't exactly suck either.  There are progressive flirtations.  "Crypt" begins with a death metal dalliance, while "Dreamcrusher" fills nine minutes with an epic arrangement.  Lyrically, we are trotting on Game of Thrones terrain.  I wouldn't say, however, that 2015's Time Stands Still has the trots (oy).  Oh, that's the album I'm writing about, by the way.  It's their third full-length release, their second that I've heard.  I also recommend 2011's Demons of the AstroWaste.  Unleash the Archers are obscure upstarts, but you shouldn't have any problems finding their stuff.

If these motherfuckers weren't metal enough, the video for "Tonight We Ride" is not-so-subtly inspired by Mad Max: Fury Road.  Is there anything I don't care for as it relates to Time Stands Still?  Well, the intro is useless.  I don't get the practice of pasting intro tracks onto each heavy record that hits your local retailer (lol).  Seriously, why bother?  They all sound alike, what with their moody affectations and industrial breedles.  Honestly, I have nothing else to say.  Buy this cassette tape!


Album Cover of the Week

Goddamn AC is busted again.  Fuck.  I can't write when I'm this miserable.  Give me a couple days.  Someone is working on it right now, but who knows?