Vacating 2020

Can we go ahead and hopscotch forward to January?  I'm over December, much less 2020.  Fuck this shit.  On the topic of these past twelve months, the next post shall be my much-anticipated (by someone, I'm sure) Best Metal Albums of 2020 list.  I'm one of the very few "journalists" who will actually wait for a year to end before writing about it.  It's the least I can do, not that 2020 has earned the professional courtesy.  I am making said list my next post because - and this is the important part - I'm going on vacation.  Like, I'm leaving the state!

I don't leave North Carolina often (maybe once a year), and even in this instance, I'm only traveling as far as the D.C. area.  The trip is slated to press on for a matter of days, but I'm shutting down the storefront until a new year has been christened.  Or until I'm ridiculously bored.  It's entirely possible that Random Reviews Inc. will return before 2021.  Depends.  In the meantime, sweeten your holidaze with epic black metal and 80's horror sequels.  That's how they celebrated in the New Testament.  You wouldn't chasten God's pleated pantaloons, now would you?


Blood Capsule #104


If you're like me, you quake in your mukluks at the first wrinkle of winter.  To be ever so specific, you shun Christmas.  This isn't our holiday.  It's a gray cloud, so it does have a silver lining.  More often than not, what does Santa bring?  Gift cards!  I used one to purchase a posh, mulberry-dangled (or maybe it's magenta) box set containing all six films in Universal's Inner Sanctum series.  If you aren't familiar, this was a modestly budgeted array of supernatural mysteries cranked out in the early 40's.  Weird Woman was the second commodity on the docket, and while I wouldn't call it an outright fright flick, I would label it as...frightfully fun.  I'll wait for the laughter to die a cute death.

Lon Chaney Jr. stars as Norman, a professor who values reason above superstition.  Paula, his island native wifey-poo, was brought up to believe in voodoo.  Suffice to say, the honeymoon phase doesn't last terribly long.  The actual meat of the plot is frustrating in that it's on the convoluted side.  I confess to yawning too much as Weird neared its climax, but that wasn't the movie's fault.  The cast is killer (genre paramour Evelyn Ankers shows 'em how it's done), the atmosphere is aces (the opening shots are pickled in rain showers; I enjoy both pickles and raindrops), and the 63-minute running time is appropriate for such a picture.  Check it out.

PS - There is a remake of sorts.


Geek Out #144

Possible foreshadowing?  You're curious?  My, oh my?  I've been watching a slew of vintage interviews with cool people from the 50's and 60's.  YouTube is a strange, yet wonderful land.


Castle Freak ('20)

I don't know how many fans would call 1995's Castle Freak a horror classic (much less in all caps), but I know I love it.  In actual fact, I spent much of the 00's extolling its virtues on message boards and feeling like I was the only chump who had seen it.  I guess it's true that certain films don't land their audiences until years - or in the case of Stuart Gordon's grisly alleluia to Lovecraft - decades later.  Ah, but this is a remake.  Curses!  As much as I repudiate the arbitrary glut of "reimaginings," I try to judge them on a case-by-case basis and quell the urge to pronounce a sentence on all of the damned things.

As it happens, 2020's Castle Freak is barely a remake.  I suppose it's appropriate to use that other "re" word, even though it clabbers my condensed milk.  We still have Americans perching in a lavish castle, an ancestral Albanian abode.  Rebecca learns that the estate belongs to her bloodline.  Actually, it belongs to her and her alone, as her estranged mother has passed away.  What does this mean for John, her substance-addled beau?  He has assumed the role of caretaker after blinding the poor dame in a car accident.  Can he keep himself clean while appraising the GOOD GOD.  Sorry, this plot summary is far too fucking boring.  That's a real issue, and I haven't reached the freak yet.

The script is adequately written, but it's more patient than I am.  As a result, the exposition feels languid.  It takes an hour for the cannon fodder (the couple's narcotized friends) to show up.  Look, the acting is stable and I didn't actively mind the characters, but I found myself waiting for them to be killed.  Castle Freak borrows from the slasher playbook.  That's one trope that the original didn't need to adopt.  Wow, I'm complaining a lot, huh?  You can probably tell from my rating, but I didn't detest this flick.  The special effects are truly incredible, the locations are striking, and the third act carouses with Lovecraftian lore in demiurgic ways.

On a cosmetic level, the modern Castle Freak succeeds.  The gore is certainly graphic enough.  Speaking of graphic, writer Kathy Charles doubles down on sleaze.  We are treated to a surplus of female flesh, and these girls are fit, but it's a bit much.  Hear me out!  The viewer is hit over the head with blunt hedonism.  That's dandy if you're dealing with simple sex scenes (I understand that the second tryst is story-driven), but the...um, freaky romp?  First of all, it looks ridiculous.  And do you mean to tell me that John can't tell any difference?  The goddamn smell?  Sometimes, I shouldn't feel compelled to suspend disbelief.

Again, I enjoyed the redux of Castle Freak.  I know it doesn't seem that way, but the film does have its heart in the right place.  Stuart Gordon would be proud, and besides, I support any and all experiments conducted at Miskatonic University.



Panels From Beyond the Grave #34

KISS: ZOMBIES (#3, Jan 2020)

I don't know how many words I can muster for this one (I'll be charitable and describe it as "light reading material"), but I'll give it a go.  How did this zombie trend start in comics?  I'm familiar with Marvel Zombies, but was it just some tweaker who innocuously opined, "What if they were, like, zombies?"  Because it seems that every intellectual property has been zombified, be it through graphic novels (KISS) or action figures (WWE superstars).  I don't want to come off as a crotchety crosspatch.  To tell you the truth, I'm fucking down!  This book is dumber than an elevator chimney, but aside from the obvious, I can't find any stringent faults.

The third issue of KISS: Zombies was a random purchase, so I haven't read the rest of the series.  It called to me from a longbox at a hobby store hat I discovered yesterday.  Apparently, the place has been there for the better part of a year.  Where the fuck have I been?  In any event, we're following a group of teenagers - oh, I should mention that I'm beginning a synopsis...I'm not following teenagers in my personal life - as they seek out the greatest rock band in the world  Why?  Well, they can help extricate Earth from a zombie apocalypse.  Somehow.  It's so goddamn goofy.  We are told that these undead imps are drawn to sound, so why are the main characters enlisting the services of a musical ensemble?

Whatever.  I can swallow the possibility that the sketchy premise is bulwarked in other issues.  Common sense is NOT the name of the game.  I had plenty of fun flipping through this psycho circus.  How can you take it seriously?  The members of KISS themselves are illustrated to be ageless molds of muscle and sinew.  The Demon is the only one given any demonstrable personality.  Then again, with the exception of a single text callout (a throwaway line concerning groupies), the dialogue amongst the cover ghouls is interchangeable.  Ace and Peter are sorely missed.  I'm sorry, but Tommy Thayer is about as charismatic as the bile currently digesting black forest ham in my small intestine.

Geez, you probably don't believe that I enjoyed this comic, but I promise that I did.  The artwork is bold and detail-intensive (to a point).  For a quick read, there is a suitable supply of gore-garnished action.  And everything is beautifully cheesy.  I am here to tell you, I can see KISS: Zombies playing out in live-action form on a Zenith television circa 1976.  I can practically taste Paul Stanley's stilted performance.  That's the shit!



Now Playing

I typed "image" into Google.  It's pretty!

We have very nearly vanquished the demon that is 2020, haven't we?  You know what that means - lists!  As always, I'll put something together, and as always, I fucking dread it.  Of course, I refer only to music.  I'm so out of the loop as it relates to modern horror films, it's embarrassing.  I do plan on hitting a few new(er) titles in the convergent days.  My next review is a remake.  Why do I feel like I'll rue that decision?

Remember how you could add a song to your MySpace profile?  Why can't they add that functionality to other, more modish social media sites?  That people actually use?  If I was tech-minded, I'd add a tune to Random Reviews Inc.  I would try to update it throughout the week, and it would probably be badass.  Just spitballing.


Album Cover of the Whatever

If any album cover fits Random Reviews, it's this one.  Laaz Rockit play a fun mutation of thrash/speed and power metal.  Annihilation Principle reeks of toxic goo, Brundlefly-esque aberrations, and Troma cheese.  Let that neon insanity consume you!


Rassle Inn #12

So I guess Tony Khan wasn't too far off-base when he claimed that his promotion would be changing the power of balance in wrestling.  Sure, his oral ejaculation was a bit premature, but last night's winter-themed episode of Dynamite still has fans nattering with zing and verve.  I highly enjoyed it.  I'm not going to recap the card and inspect every match, but I will say that I have reservations about the two main...um, events from the show.  NOTE: These are minor objections.  I'm on board and I can't wait to see what transpires.

Sting!  He's awesome.  He's also a senior fucking citizen who signed a multi-year contract with All Elite Wrestling.  As a fan, all I can do is hope that the guy doesn't wrestle, and if he does, he limits himself to a single match/angle (Jericho could be a viable opponent).  God, I sound like an intransigent fuddy-duddy.  A proper square, if you will.  But what purpose will Sting serve?  At the very least, he gave us one hell of a segment.  I had no idea that staredowns and impromptu blizzards worked so well together.

Impact!  In my veracious opinion, the championship match between Jon Moxley and Kenny Omega was mostly incredible.  I dug the twist ending, but I'm afraid that Impact might pull AEW down a peg.  I realize that it's not TNA from five or ten years ago, but dude, have you watched the product lately?  There is an ongoing murder mystery.  And it's played for dopey laughs.  The wrestling is fine, but I repeat, there is an ongoing murder mystery.  Up until now, AEW's gold has been protected and prestigious.  I pray to the wrasslin' gods (Wrath and Mortis) that the top belt remains unsullied.

Oh, the picture.  I'm sorry, guys.  I am officially anti-Orange Cassidy.  This was not a verdict I reached lightly, but it has been over a year.  Where else does the gimmick go?  The character hasn't evolved to the point where he can be taken seriously as a major player.  Jungle Boy should have won the opening battle royal, which was admittedly entertaining (Miro looked great).  In fact, I would start separating him from his Jurassic Express stablemates.  Jack Perry is a fucking star.  Okay, I've sniveled enough.

Did anyone watch NXT?  Serious question.


Blood Capsule #103

MAXIM XUL (1991)

Adam West was a real-life superhero, a stouthearted, fire-eating son of a bitch.  He may have been more gallant than Batman.  Maxim Xul proves as much, but it also proves that he was not God.  This flick could have been salvaged if West was given a meatier role, but that's asking too much of a mortal man.  No one wants that kind of responsibility.  What is this soggy, adulterated discharge about?  I don't know.  There is a rash of murders, see?  A detective and a photojournalist consolidate efforts to reconnoiter (make no mistake, I only used that windbag word because it makes me hard) the grisly scenes.  It's just boring "police procedural" stuff.

There is diddly-twat in the nudity department despite the ineffectual admittance of a slutty defense attorney who loses neither her head nor her threads.  Everything disappoints.  West appears on-screen for a total of maybe ten minutes.  He serves as Mr. Exposition, although he does a futile job of explaining why a demon (Babylonian, I believe) is bent on dispatching these nobodies.  To Maxim Xul's credit, the rascal fiend looks cool in a no-budget Halloween party kind of way.  I'd give the creature effects supervisor a fist bump, but here again, screen time is a matter of contention.  We get a glimpse of the thing during the last minute of the film.  Who thought this was a sound idea?  Most likely, it was NOT Adam West.



Okey-dokey.  I haven't written anything in a little bit, but I'm hitting the reset button on the dusty Nintendo console that is my life.  No need to tailspin into details, but as I've avouched before, I do struggle with depression.  Every so often, I ebb into a retroflux of social activity.  It has been a week of restless repose, and yet, I am emerging at the other end with renewed focus.  Again, without bogging my readership down with particulars (this ship is damn near marooned to begin with), I plan on touching base with my doctor to map out a measured treatment plan.  The appointment has been made.

The site should be coasting soon, business as usual.  In fact, I have the next movie review picked out, and let me tell you, it does not seem enjoyable.  Seriously, why did I pick this out?  No, the above image is not foreshadowing; it's merely a RSOJSA/OHE (Random Sighting Of Johnny Sokko And/Or His Enemies).



Motherfucker.  I was going to write an in-depth article that tied three things together, but for stupid and personal reasons (some involving my stomach...resist the urge to ask questions), I haven't had time to write shit.  Motherfucker.  Hang in there!


Rassle Inn #11

On Sunday, Survivor Series will mark thirty years of deadened dominance for The Undertaker.  The career of one Mark Calaway cranes back even further than three decades, which is astounding to consider.  He possesses every trait that you would need to be a superlative, distinguished professional wrestler.  He checks all of the boxes.  And then you realize that he has always put the business first, ahead of politics and ahead of self-serving vainglory.  Hey, all due respect to Shawn Michaels, but that's why I rank The Heartbreak Kid behind The Phenom when it comes to placing the best of the modern era in formation.

'Taker has stated - definitively - that he is retired from in-ring competition.  Naturally, I expect him to engage with a few superstars in acutely physical ways at Survivor Series.  But whom?  And how?  I've read rumors and guesstimations.  It wouldn't surprise me to see The Fiend make himself conspicuous, but technically, he's a babyface.  Good God.  That opens a can of sandworms.  The comic, cosmic audacity of Vince McMahon's logic-defying booking is tantamount to that of Superman's gravity-defying bullshit.  You know that Superman is an asshole.  Don't argue with me.

My point (???) is that anything could happen.  I sincerely hope that Calaway isn't pressured into working "one more match."  The only dream bout left is opposite Sting, and no, I don't want to see it.  Ten years ago?  Fuck yeah, I'd pay the full pay-per-view price to order that sumbitch.  Even five years ago!  In 2020, it's not worth it.  Let the man rusticate to his native Texas.  Let him REST...I can't believe I'm actually using the catchphrase...IN...this is far too cheesy...PEACE...you dicks, you didn't stop me.  Here's a badass picture of The Undertaker leaving the 1993 versions of Crush and Bob Backlund in the dust.  I made that sound intense.  But they're just, like, walking.


Album Cover of the Whatever

Morwinyon!  They play atmospheric black metal and they do it pretty damn well.  The cover is essentially perfect.  I mean, that's what the record sounds like.  So there you go.



You wouldn't normally associate Ricki Lake with Traci Lords, but they have actually appeared in two films together.  First, they played cool "'drapes" in Cry-Baby (man, I want to be in an awesome gang).  Then they starred in 1993's Skinner.  Traci Lords.  Really, just...I want to talk about Traci Lords.  I mean, I can review Skinner if you want, but Traci Lords.  Back in the 90's (my favorite decade), she might have been the hottest human to have ever existed.  Is beauty in the eye of the beholder or am I right here, you guys?  She's currently 52, and I would still bang her bathtub.  Remember that mediocre industrial rock record she released in 1995?  That was weird, huh?

So Traci Lords.  Goddamn it, no!  I'm going to discuss Skinner now.  Besides, that's why I summoned you to this unsettled, far-flung alcazar of substantial enormity.  Pay no mind to the miniature coffins.  Anyway, this is a sleazeball slasher that finds Ted Raimi flaying all manner of prostitutes.  I should mention that Raimi is playing a character named Dennis, not himself.  It's a compelling performance.  The script attempts to be an abstruse, intellectual study of psychosomatic maladies, but despite admirable efforts, it doesn't know how to carry its own thematic weight.

Let's be honest.  Horror hounds only rented this tape to see estuaries (or tributaries, if you prefer) of blood and acres of female flesh.  To Skinner's credit, it does yield a surplus of both elements.  Lords holds fast to her articles of clothing, and yet, it didn't bother me.  The woman is a work of art, whether she's nude or not.  She fares well as Heidi, a disturbed, deformed lady in black who seems to be stalking Dennis.  Hmm?  It's not as intriguing as it sounds.  She swears to get revenge on the unglued schizoid, but she wastes a zillion opportunities to hack the fucker to pieces.  Does that constitute a spoiler?  I promise that you don't care.

For a movie that didn't leave indissoluble indentations in my seat of affections, Skinner was well-manicured.  Props to director Ivan Nagy for making everything easy to ogle.  He uses jazzy, chromatic filters for nighttime exteriors, and it helps mundane sets pop.  Of course, I don't know if he used filters.  I'm a buffoon when it comes to the technical side of filmmaking, but ah, I know when colors are pretty.  I'm basically an expert.  As I was expertly saying, Skinner isn't too shabby.  The cast is committed, the KNB effects are grotesque, and I suppose I wanted to learn how the plot resolved itself.  That isn't quite the same as being hooked, though.

I wasn't stupefied by anything that this film was offering.  Was it overtly, hawkishly crummy?  No.  My rating is somewhat altruistic because, y'know, Traci Lords.  Traci Lords.



Kiefer Sutherland Sounds Like Adam Carolla

So I watched Shudder's Creepshow animated special.  I didn't want to do a big review or anything, but my opinion is twofold.  On the "yay" side, I love the fact that they are keeping the property active in between seasons of the anthology series.  An animated jubilee is a great idea.  On the "nay" side, still-frame animation?  Why can't it be a standard cartoon?  While "Survivor Type" is a gripping character study, the animation style pulled me out of the narrative on more than one occasion.  And "Circus of the Dead" is just lackluster.

Up next...in the coming days...on this very website...er, something!


Blood Capsule #102


I said that I wasn't reviewing the rest of this series, but Son and Ghost of Frankenstein reside on the same disc.  Why not?  This is where the momentum is fossilized anyway.  I can't execrate the last monster mash to be shot by Universal's A-unit.  The atmosphere is still ghoulish, the cast is still aureate (though a truant Karloff is missed), and the pacing is still alert.  Seasoned director Erle C. Kenton is clearly comfortable framing a genre spectacle.  I didn't know it, but he also helmed 1932's Island of Lost Souls.  Here, the plot feels a bit familiar.  Ygor wants Dr. Frankenstein (that would be the original doctor's other son) to redress and rehabilitate his friend (that would be the monster).  I'm tired of parenthesis.

As with Son, the real villain is Ygor.  Lugosi is captivating, even if he doesn't have quite as much jerk-infused lunacy to feast on.  I'm sorry; I'm referring to the style of cooking native to Jamaica.  Personally, I'm fond of dry-rub jerk spices, but I'm down for a good marinade.  What?  Oh, the movie.  Evelyn Ankers is essentially wasted as Elsa Frankenstein, the generic wife.  That's the thing.  Everyone present is punctually talented, but you get the sense that the congregation is going through the motions.  The precursive film told the story to its natural conclusion.  There is no more tale to tell!  Be that as it may, Ghost is a worthwhile way to keep your corpse on ice.



Ideally, a band will evolve from one album to the next.  I can't believe that this is a hard concept for some bands to grasp ("some" is italicized so as not to implicate Type O Negative).  Metallica seemed shocked by the boomerang recoil fans responded with in answer to their queue of streamlined rock releases in the 90's.  And I don't mean to pick on Metallica; I just need an example.  I remember an interview with Lars where he intimated - I'm paraphrasing here - that they felt damned either way.  "We can't change OR stay the same!  Wah!  I'm a whiny bitch!"  I'm confident that's a direct quote.  In any event, he completely garbled the wishes of his adherents.

Nobody wanted Ride the Lightning IV: Dream Warriors.  By the same token, nobody wanted a collaboration with Mary J. Blige or Montell Jordan, although I contend that "This Is How We Do It" is a sick jam.  Die-hards merely anticipated evolution.  Impose a few tweaks here and there, but leave the core unmolested.  You should never have to return to your roots.  Deracination* kills trees, you dummy.  My point (finally!) is that Type O knew how to evolve, musically and even spiritually.  There is a character arc ranging from Slow, Deep and Hard to Dead Again.  It's a plot without holes.  Somehow, each Type O disc is spun of high quality, and yes, I'm doing a celebratory dance over that pun.  Touchdown, suckers!

The group would have been forgiven for delivering a mellow coda.  Sure, we couldn't have possibly known that this was their swan song, but we knew they were getting older.  I can only speak for myself, but I definitely wasn't envisaging Peter Steele reaching back into his Carnivore bag of tricks and parenting a nest egg of pissy, crotchety riffs that would feel right at home on...well, a Carnivore omnibus.  The title track launches the record with a bombardment of speedy stuff (after the requisite doom intro).  "Tripping a Blind Man" is a top-tier Type O tune.  It has swagger, impassioned vocals, bayonet-sharp lyrics ('You think it's your place to dispense justice/Well, I've been sent to judge the judges'), and canorous harmonies.

"The Profit of Doom" is heavier than a fucking fuck.  Is it a minute or two on the bloated side?  Yeah, but I can live with it.  The songwriting is strong enough to carry protracted track lengths.  "These Three Things" is the sole instance of an epic number being sustained past the point of necessity.  Still, it features gnarly moments that justify its inclusion (Pete screams his giant head off, and it's magnificent).  The pensive "September Sun" can be cloying until the near-supernatural guitar solo soars beyond speakers and into the outer realm.

Kenny Hickey, man!  I'm telling you.  He rips another badass lead in "She Burned Me Down," a sentimental favorite in the Coccaro household.  In totality, I almost want to say that Dead Again is a sentimental favorite.  It comes dangerously close to scoring five Abbaths.  For a Type O Negative experience, it's practically perfect.  You can award your own ratings.  Like every other energized listener, I've always wondered where those four dicks from Brooklyn would have transmigrated as a creative collective.  Would they have looked to October Rust and subsumed their 80's goth influences?  Would they have heaved their hardcore base and focused on their 60's psych influences?  Would they have killed each other???

*The act of uprooting.  The more you know!



Geek Out #143

I'll be finishing my Type O discography review soon, so check this out!  I imagine that if you're a fan of the band, even from a casual standpoint, you've seen this beauty.  If not, it's a very cool, very 90's trip into the mordant minds of the Drab 4.  This was where I first saw the video for "Everything Dies."  Thanks for nothing, MTV!


Son of Frankenstein

Eons ago, I reviewed Bride of Frankenstein.  Epochs ago, I reviewed Frankenstein (because apparently, I like to do things out of order).  I might as well cover 1939's Son of Frankenstein, and no, I don't know if or when I'll get to the rest of the series.  Universal didn't plan on making a third Frankie feature.  Classic horror fans are indebted to the studio for fleshing out a trilogy, as this is the most consistent ternion of fright flicks ever committed to celluloid.  Go ahead; name another.  You can't!  Okay, aside from Maniac CopFACTOID: Robert Z'Dar was approached for the role of Ygor, but he wanted to be paid in Yikes pencils and empty boxes of Hidden Treasures cereal.  Plus, he wasn't alive yet.

Factors aligned to fashion Son into a colossal mega-epic that paired a burly budget with an impregnable cast.  Boris Karloff returns to grant his creature a plaintive pathos, while still being the badass slasher villain of his day.  Basil Rathbone is game as Wolf, the son of Dr. Frankenstein.  Fuck, that's a cool name!  He brings guileless enthusiasm to the role, and you want to root for him.  Lionel Atwill dignifies his fellow players as Inspector Krogh.  His presence is enough to get the job done, not that his performance is noticeably inadequate.  I admit that it's hard to shake Young Frankenstein from my mind whenever Krogh adjusts his prosthetic arm.

The star of the show may be Bela Lugosi as the dowdy, yet calculating Ygor.  Watching Son, I couldn't help but feel this was the second best turn of his career, following his iconic portrayal of Dracula.  That's saying something.  He kicked just as much ass in White Zombie and The Black Cat.  Reading other reviews, I gather that my opinion is shared by some of the most distinguished nobodies on the web.  There is a certain intensity to Ygor, a dithyrambic (dithyrambic, I say!) volume that only Mr. Lugosi could have instilled in the character.

I don't see the point in writing a bullet-by-bullet plot summary.  You know Frankenstein, right?  It's about his son.  The storytelling is fine.  Apart from the exceptional acting, my favorite aspects of the film are the optics.  Director Rowland V. Lee strides in full gallop to push his needles all the way through the "spooky" scale.  Nevermind my confused analogy and use of present tense.  The castle is foreboding, the night sky is almost always zipped with lightning, and the angles...dude, the angles.  It's clear that Lee was heavily influenced by German expressionism.  The bizarre lighting and architecture act in service of the atmosphere.

At a robust 99 minutes, Son of Frankenstein is the longest Universal monster movie.  The pace is measured, but I wouldn't call it slow.  Would I recommend a midnight viewing after a grueling day of brick masonry and/or commercial diving?  No.  It's fairly easy to digest, all the same.  This is the stuff that constitutes the genre.  As a matter of fact, it's "the shit," as kids proclaim.  I'm current.  I'm relevant.  Robert Z'Dar says, "My requests were reasonable."




Hot pink!  It's my second favorite color (behind turquoise), especially when it occurs in nature.  I should just end the post right there, if only to make myself snicker.  No, I do have a point.  The VHS/Blu-ray cover of 555 is stippled and swabbed in hot pink.  Actually, all of the promotional material for the film is punched up with pink.  It's as if the commodity itself is blushing.  So what the fuck is 555?  It's a shot-on-video sleazoid slasher from 1988.  As I mentioned yesterday, I haven't had access to the Internet for several days, so I'm not comfortable writing a proper review of this thing (it has been too long now since I've seen it; my brain is faulty when it comes to absorbing visual information).  However!

Wait, let me try that again.  However!  I did want to document the fact that I dug it.  555 falls short of handheld heavyweights such as Video Violence and Blood Cult, but its procedural approach is intriguing enough.  You see, five couples are butchered for five consecutive nights every five years.  Whodunit???  The answer is anticlimactic.  I had mild fun on my way to the answer, as most of the on-screen kills are irresponsibly bloody.  One decapitation, in particular, made me goddamn giddy.  Here's a spooky knife...


Fight the Power (Outage)

Fuck!  Due to Hurricane Zeta, we have been without the Internet for days (I'm at a relative's house right now).  I have no decent way to create content for the site.  And it's Halloween, so that really pisses me off.  We haven't been given an ETA by our ISP.  Could still be days out from WiFi, so FML!  Sorry, gang.  I'll try to enjoy the holiday anyway.  After all, Halloween will keep on keeping on, right through Christmas if you're doing it right.  Skullfuck a pumpkin and watch Spookies for me!


A Band: Autumn

I can't believe it has taken me this long to point floodlights at Autumn.  Hell, I even created a column for the express purpose of exposing cool bands to inquisitive eyes.  Better late than never, I suppose.  Autumn is a Dutch collective that deals in atmospheric rock.  I've seen them described as "goth rock," but those predilections are muted in comparison to the Cold Caves of the world (I don't know; Revolver is telling me that Cold Cave is a modern goth band).  To be honest, I'd put them in the same bin as Soen and Katatonia.  They have released six albums to date.  I have heard three of them in full.  I can explain.

In 2009, Marjan Welman stepped in as frontwoman, replacing the competent Nienke de Jong.  Autumn's pre-Marjan period is awfully goshdarn similar to The Gathering's pre-Anneke period.  There were a couple of middling death/doom records, and no, I'm not jumping to spin those black circles.  They did release a long player with Nienke I want to check out by the name of My New Time.  It was composed in a style much closer to that of modern day Autumn.  But that's not why I'm featuring them.  For that honor, you can thank Marjan, the best fucking female vocalist to come out of the Netherlands since the vaunted Vatnier Greslev.

In a word, she's flawless.  Marjan, not Vatnier (the latter doesn't exist).  It's not her range.  She doesn't excoriate your scaffolding with high notes.  She doesn't growl.  She doesn't do the thing where she suffocates a line with endless, useless runs.  What does she do?  She sings the fucking song perfectly.  Every note is where it should be and that extends to every pause, every falsetto flourish, every spell of vibrato she casts onto the listener...ellipsis period.  It's just so refreshing to hear a great singer perform great songs.

Speaking of which, 2009's Altitude is teeming with crackin' tunes.  You simply need to hear it.  I've lost all objectivity, as I've heard it a stunning number of times.  No lie, I've played Altitude more than any other album in the past two years.  2011's Cold Comfort is far from being a slouch, though it doesn't hold an ornamental flambeau to its predecessor.  Eight years later (!), Autumn blessed us with Stacking Smoke, one hell of a comeback opus, if you can call it that.  It's a smooth, melodic potable.  I recommend hitting up "The Phantom Limb" and "Where the River Ends."

Basically, I recommend any project that involves the talents of Marjan Welman.  I don't mean to disregard everyone else in the band.  But fuck those guys.


Rassle Inn #10

I wanted some degree of distance from the segment I'll be discussing today.  I wanted objectivity.  In truth, I still don't have enough distance to reach a final conclusion, but at least I know how I feel about it.  What the hell is "it"?  Oh, you know.  This past Wednesday, MJF and Chris Jericho sat down for a lavish steak dinner at a posh, fashionable...um, studio lot to negotiate the former's proposed entry into The Inner Circle.  Out of nowhere, they broke into song.  This was "Brian and Stewie" territory.  There were dancers, euphuistic bouts of choreography, and roving set pieces.

Divisive?  That's an understatement.  You either loved it or hated it.  Of course, I say that, and yet, I can see both sides of the donnybrook.  Pro-wrestling is driven by money.  If the quarter-hour draws ratings, it was successful.  Period.  I'm prone to believing that next week's ratings will tell the tale.  Wednesday's demographics only tell me that the show was received; they don't tell me how the show was received.  You are free to call it amateurish comedy.  You are free to call it puke-flavored bullshit.  You are free to call it whatever you want, but if it proves to be a hit with fans, you cannot call it a failure.

For the time being, what is my opinion?  I doubt that you asked, but I'll go ahead and tell you.  I think it was good.  And bad.  Good because, well, I can't say that it wasn't entertaining.  The bit was streamlined and well-performed.  Who knew that MJF was a gifted crooner?  Christ, that guy is talented.  While he was nearly blown (up) to smithereens, Jericho knew how to play his part.  Bad because, well, it's a rasslin' program.  Just before the act in question, Jon Moxley and Eddie Kingston sold the shit out of their feud.  They have a match coming up at Full Gear.  It's a fight based on grit, nerve, and realism.  Would you apply any of those nouns to the dulcet routine that directly followed their video package?

Look, I dig Dynamite, but as a cohesive whole, it's tone-deaf.  They are trying to make everyone happy.  Clearly, that's not going to happen.  Narrow your scope.  Focus on taking one stylistic approach and do it better than the competition.  NOTE: When I refer to "the competition," I'm not only referring to WWE.  Trounce every promotion on the planet.  So narrow your scope and AIM FOR THE UNIVERSE!  You know what I mean.

In summation, I didn't despise it, but try not to turn it into a habit of whimsy.  It's something brand new for the industry, so it might attract new eyeballs to AEW.  Armbars crossed!


TYPE O NEGATIVE - Life is Killing Me

I distinctly remember when Life is Killing Me was diffused to the masses.  If I'm being honest, I can't say that I'm 100% unbiased, as I have some scrumptious memories tied to this fucker.  It received spins during October, for one.  The fact that it's one of my "Halloween records" automatically gives it brownie plaudits, the kind of stroke that the other Type O opuses (that doesn't sound right) lack.  Plus, "(We Were) Electrocute" appears on the Freddy Vs. Jason soundtrack.  I'll never understand why they didn't use "IYDKMIGHTKY (Gimme That)" instead, what with its driving refrain of "If you don't kill me/I'm gonna have to kill you."  It's only perfect!?

This album was a breath of fresh, somewhat buoyant air after the despondent World Coming Down.  I shouldn't classify it as happy; no Type O disc is happy.  Nevertheless, it's happier than its predecessor.  Compared to "'White Slavery" and "Everything Dies," it's goddamn chipper.  It does have its sinkholes of abjection, but on the whole, it's underscored with a more consequential nip of the band's black humor.  Each track has its own flavor, so I feel compelled to eat this elephant one spoonful at a time.  That's from a joke.  How do you eat an elephant?  With a spoon.  No, wait.  I think I fucked it up.  I've ruined everything.  Either way, it has nothing to do with a disastrous A Perfect Circle album.

1. "Thir13een" ~ Basically an intro.  It cribs the interstitial theme from The Munsters, so yay.

2. "I Don't Wanna Be Me" ~ This was the first single, and I must say, it smacked me in the face the first time I heard it.  A fast Type O tune well under four minutes?  Bracing.  Kenny offers a killer solo.  An atypical song, but it still wore the trappings of classic TON.

3. "Less Than Zero (<0)" ~ Here, the music gives itself room to breathe.  It's a little more melodic and the arrangement is more adventurous.  The riffs are riffy!

4. "Todd's Ship Gods (Above All Things)" ~ The lyrics are rather poignant.  They attest to the diversity of the album, at least in terms of topics.  Musically, I'm not a fan.  I find it to be bland.  By the way, I typed that last sentence with my nose pointed to the heavens.

5. "I Like Goils" ~ It's funny; I doubt that even Steele would write this song today.  It's still amusing, though.

6. "...A Dish Best Served Coldly" ~ A rad fucking jam.  It contains everything from swampy riffage to tempo shifts (I enjoy tempo shifts) to...um, other cool shit.  Just trust me.

7. "How Could She?" ~ Great chorus and shredtastic lead breaks.  Dude, Kenny Hickey is an underrated guitarist.  Anyhow, it's fun singing along to the verses.  Judy Jetsoooooooon.

8. "Life is Killing Me" ~ Ah, the epic title track.  I'm surprised that it wasn't released to radio.  It's a heavy stomper that comes equipped with incisive lyrics about assisted suicide.  I believe it was the brilliant philanthropist Frank Reynolds who said of doctors: "They're all shit."

9. "Nettie" ~ A moving number memorializing Steele's mother.  Exceptional.

10. "(We Were) Electrocute" ~ Audaciously poppy.  While it fits on this set of canticles, I deem it skippable.  TON and major keys don't mix, in my opinion.

11. "IYDKMIGHTKY (Gimme That)" ~ Jesus, this is going to be a nightmare to proofread.  Huh?  Oh, right.  I mentioned this one earlier.  I dig.

12. "Angry Inch" ~ I've never seen Hedwig, but this is an energetic song that virtually blackmails you into tapping your toes.

13. "Anesthesia" ~ My pick for best fucking ditty.  Almost twenty years later, it has the same effect on me.  That climactic wail...son of a bitch!

14. "Drunk in Paris" ~ A harmless instrumental.  Not much to say.

15. "The Dream is Dead" ~ My pick for best fucking riff (the opening riff, that is).  A rock-solid denouement.

Overall, Look What the Cat Dragged In is Poison's fourth worst recording, not counting splits and compilations.



Goddamn Baseball

Just wanted to let you know that I'm working on a muzak review, but it's taking a little longer than I would like.  I'm breaking it down track-by-track.  Plus, goddamn baseball is getting in the way.  My Braves were SO CLOSE to eliminating the noxious, repellent Dodgers.  I don't mind the Rays, so I'm rooting for them to dismantle those blue-balled...erg, there is no noun insulting enough.  Anyway, I'll post the review tomorrow night or whenever it's done writing itself.

I really, really dislike the Dodgers.


Album Cover of the Whatever

I've always been interested in the career of one Rogga Johansson.  Well over a decade ago, I discovered Ribspreader, his badass death metal project.  To be more specific, it's Swedish death metal.  By definition, all of the death metal that Rogga propagates comes out as Swedish death metal, as Rogga is - you guessed it - Swedish.  Ribspreader is prototypically Swedish.  Everything from the buzzsaw guitar tone to the collar-rattling d-beats screams Swedish.  And I'm sick of typing "Swedish."

Anyway, this squib isn't about Ribspreader; it's about the righteous cover of Edge of the Abyss, the third outing from Johansson & Speckmann.  At first, I thought I was looking at a demon blessed (?) with a demon dick.  Now I can see that it's a demon snaked in a curvilinear corkscrew demon.  The whole ordeal is eye-catching (I'm in favor of pooling white with purple).  As an aside, buy Edge of the Abyss yesterday if you want your vital organs lanced by brutal-as-fuck death metal.  I'm sick of typing "death metal."

PS ~ Rogga Johansson is currently in 31 active bands.

PS II ~ Speckmann is Paul Speckmann of Master fame.


Blood Capsule #101


We are in Hammer territory, so this film's pertinence to a genre fansite is warranted.  However, a word of warning seems befitting; Night Creatures isn't quite a horror treat.  Rest assured, it's a treat, but none of its devilry is supernatural in the slightest.  A royal covey of servicemen are sent to a marsh to monitor the rumored smuggling of alcohol and other vendibles.  It proves difficult to burrow down to the truth, what with the rector (a sharp Peter Cushing) having an answer for everything and advances in the inquest being obstructed by appearances of phantoms in the wetlands.  Are these bog ghosts genuine articles?  If so, are their horses--I'm an idiot.  I already spoiled the mundane nature of the supposed "phantoms."

It's okay!  You can still watch Night Creatures and enjoy it as much as I did.  I alluded to Cushing's shipshape performance, but the rest of the cast is uniformly sans pareil.  You know the acting is stupendous when I break out French words.  We get to see Oliver Reed, Yvonne Romain, Patrick Allen, and Michael Ripper all flex their chops.  I was trying to think of a clever way to call attention to Romain's staggering bust, but I am not a clever man.  It's just as well.  The romance between Reed and Romain (squire and barmaid) is stilted at best.  Any other misgivings?  Eh, the script is dialogue-heavy.  That's not necessarily a negative trait, but I recommend leaving subtitles in the "on" position.  You don't want to miss out on expository details on account of heavy accents.

If this were a full-length review, I would expound on the shaded duality of many of the characters and how I appreciated the fact that Captain Collier, for instance, was neither 100% noble nor 100% villainous.  But it isn't.  I may retire early tonight.