The Devil's Advocate

In middle and high school, I would rent horror movies almost every weekend.  I'm ashamed to disseminate this for public consumption, but I would base half of my rental choices on which films might contain nudity.  Good God.  Please tell me I wasn't the only one.  I'm pretty sure I wasn't, but I'm not proud of my past as a teenage boy.  Ugh.  Were we even human?  Anyhow, I bring up my licentious lunacy to form a trestle to 1997's The Devil's Advocate.  I had a feeling that it contained boobage.  And it does.  For some unidentified reason, I would always pass it up.  Looking back, I think the title's posture as a major studio grabber turned me off.

Keanu Reeves, Al Pacino, Al Pacino as Satan...that's serious cachet.  I was green.  I didn't see how an "a-movie" could be a cool, genuine horror treat.  Of course, commercials told us that The Devil's Advocate was a thriller, but we knew better.  Reeves plays Kevin, a cut-throat attorney scaling the corporate ladder at a meteoric pace.  He finds himself in the big city (New York, what else?) working at a big firm.  Pacino plays John Milton (a little on-the-nose), Kevin's boss.  This guy speaks every language and seems to know everything.  He's also a bit of a playboy and enjoys the finer...er, details of ornamental...um, the sublime FUCK.  He likes to fuck.  With his dick.

Gradually, Kevin is lured into a cycle of sin.  One of the few problems handicapping The Devil's Advocate is the obvious nature of the story's selling point.  You can blame the advertising.  It's just plain to see that Milton is The Morning Star.  In spite of this hindrance, the narrative has a nice flow to it.  With the exception of the final half-hour, this courtroom curtain caper flies by with the latitude of an aphid.  Man, that sentence was a mess.  You know what I'm trying to say.  Personally, I never felt the weight of the 144-minute running time.  Until the conclusion, that is.  As I alluded to earlier, Advocate doesn't know when to go home.  I could easily shave 20 minutes off of the third act.

There are other deterrents.  The CGI is outdated, for one.  Still, I dug this demonic edict.  It doesn't really need to be asserted, but the cast is exquisite.  Reeves actually emotes.  One scene in particular (that I won't spoil) is exceedingly heartrending.  Pacino is motherfucking Pacino.  He can steal a moment, but he also knows when to pull back a hair.  I was most impressed by Charlize Theron's manifold performance.  At first, her turn of Mary Ann comes off as thin and one-dimensional, but you quickly realize that was the point.  Her downward spiral is harrowing stuff.

There are flaws, but I highly recommend The Devil's Advocate.  Pacino is back!  A thrilling time at the movies!  Watch out, Oscar season!  I almost dropped my popcorn!  Rabble, rabble!  Derp!


Rassle Inn #3

Originally, this edition of Rassle Inn was going to have a (slightly) different focus.  Then time happened.  What can I say?  I can be as lazy as I am eloquent, which puts a sizeable crater in my pride.  Anyway, I was moved to write on a (slightly) different topic when I listened to the latest episode of Jim Cornette's podcast.  He reviewed AEW's Double or Nothing, and I wonder why I bothered.  I predicted - to the letter and to the magniloquent turn of phrase - what ol' Corny would say.  I knew which matches he would extol (two of them, basically), which matches he would execrate and which wrestlers he would verbally mangle.

So why did I listen?  For the same reason he hasn't been socially exiled despite saying all manner of controversial, near-deplorable (I'm being generous) things that classify as "over the fucking top."  He's funny!  Not to mention knowledgeable.  I don't agree with many of the claims he makes, or at least the way he makes them.  How about the Dana Brooke comments?  Most folks agree that men and women take plastic surgery too far.  In private quarters, most folks (yes, most) pellet aspersions onto others for their looks, especially celebrities.  Cornette mentioned that it seemed as if a mad pyromaniac had set fire to Dana's face and put it out with an axe.  Yep.

He doubled down, but the point is that this was one of his less infamous cracks.  With regards to the in-ring product, he fucking loathes All Elite Wrestling.  Hell, he has loathed Kenny Omega and The Young Bucks for years now.  I can't comment on personal dealings (every "star" could be a dickhole for all I know), but from where I'm sitting, his issues with their presentation of professional wrestling is easy to figure out.  The business evolved; Jim Cornette did not.

However, that doesn't mean that 100% of his ravings are rooted in falsehoods.  He is extremely old-school, yes, but his approach to booking and laying out a match does hold merit.  Tony Khan would do well to utilize some - some - of Corny's ideas.  I wish I had time to be more specific, but I don't.  I'll attempt to tie this up with one word.  It's a word I used in the first paragraph.  Pride!  For better or worse, Cornette is a prideful son of a bitch.  If he takes pro-wrestling too seriously every once in awhile, I can understand why.  For decades, it's the business that fed and supported his family.  He grew to love it.  After loving it, he became protective of it.  Makes sense.

Unfortunately, wrasslin' as it existed in 1985 does not exist anymore.  The same goes for 1995.  To be honest, Corny should probably shy away from annotating modern stuff, be it WWE or AEW.  Satan in heaven, I have to admit that the pull-apart brawl between Mike Tyson and Chris Jericho was godawful.  We don't need that shit to go viral.


Album Cover of the Whatever

Originally, I was going to showcase Esoctrilihum as a band to watch with my "A Band" feature.  Who knows?  I still might.  This is the cover for his/their new opus (it's a one-man project, natch), Eternity of Shaog.  Most of Esoctrilihum's artwork is handled by the same dude, a chap by the name of Alan Brown.  Perusing his portfolio, he seems to dabble exclusively in hideous creatures and babes in swimwear.  A wise man.  Clearly.  At any rate, I dig the colors he uses and the odd touches that manifest in all of his creations.

PS-Shaog is a fucking beast of an album.  Pick it up!


Blood Capsule #94


This is an in-name-only sequel.  Hell, it's almost a remake.  Why does it exist?  No one knows, not even writer/director/star Andrew Stevens (I'm assuming).  There wasn't a soul on Earth clamoring for a sequel to The Terror Within, a so-so, yet amiable "rubber suit" cheapie.  Stevens plays David, a scavenger floundering in the desert for vaccine supplies.  Need I mention that there is a plague and that the barren landscape is post-apocalyptic?  Bleak portraitures of the future ruled the roost during this time period.  I think filmmakers forgot that such depictions of our world were prevailingly depressing and sour on the stomach.  A scant few genre fiends were willing to sit through these doldrums.

Mad Max: Fury Road perfected the formula, but it was off in the distance.  The Terror Within II is...well, it's not perfect.  It's entertaining enough.  The gelatinous effects are alluring, the production values are first-rate (relatively speaking) and boobs happen.  Yaaaay!  This sci-fi tryst checks all of the boxes that it must to keep your attention for 90 minutes.  Regrettably, it doesn't exert itself beyond the bare minimum.  You could do better, Gregory.  Have some dignity.


A Band: Benighted in Sodom

So this is an interesting one.  Benighted in Sodom is a one-man project, the man calling himself Matron Thorn.  This started out as a depressive black metal experiment, but recent releases have espoused doom and goth rock.  2019's Carrier of Poison Apples (pictured above) is poles apart from noisier fare such as Plague Overlord and Death in Space.  For one, there is no shrieking to be found.  Matron sticks to an emotive baritone filtered through foggy effects.  I dig it.  The vocal lines are catchy and prone to attach themselves to the base of your spine.

I will readily admit that I haven't listened to half of Benighted in Sodom's recorded output.  Before you judge me, know that Mr. Thorn has dished out seventeen long players under the BIS banner.  Seventeen!  In thirteen years!  Dude, that's not even counting EP's and splits.  I have glommed onto his more melodic stuff, but there is something for everyone, provided that you're into extreme metal.

If this Matron Thorn character sounds busy, bear in mind that I haven't told you about his other bands.  Yeah, he has close to ten "groups" in varying states of functionality.  Most of them are active.  I recommend checking out Aevangelist, Andacht and Death Fetishist.  Maybe this "A Band" entry should have been called "Bands."


Riding and Dancing

'Taker assisting in a trick dunk at a Globetrotter game.

There are serendipitous times when pop culture aligns with itself.  Lovers of documentaries should be tickled fuchsia right now (or perhaps a hot shade of rubicund), as WWE and ESPN have synced up pro tempore in their efforts to honor legends of their respective fields.  At the outset of 2020, we started seeing teasers for a deluxe-as-fuck docu-series looking back at the Chicago Bulls dynasty of the 90's.  More specifically, it would chronicle Michael Jordan's final season in the red-and-white.  The last dance, so to speak.  Everyone was interviewed, and I mean everyone.  In fact, I'm surprised that I wasn't asked to participate.

About a month ago, give or take, wrestling fans caught wind of a docu-series that would be premiering immediately after the Money in the Bank PPV.  It would catalog a chunk of The Undertaker's storied career.  Like the Bulls film, this was a momentous occasion.  Mark Calaway (y'know, The Undertaker) is as "old school" as it gets.  He was the last of the old guard to step out from behind the curtain and admit that he was a regular person.  For decades, he kept to kayfabe, appearing out of character only when the evolution of his character dictated such adjudicatory decisions.  He did grant interviews as The American Badass, for instance.

In 2017, 'Taker came to Vince McMahon and told him he was ready for his private life to be documented.  Obviously, he sensed that the end was near.  The film has been airing in 60-minute chapters every Sunday.  Sound familiar?  Of course, The Undertaker: The Last Ride is not circulated via ESPN, but the parallels are hard to miss.  At one point, an interviewee (boy, I wish I could remember their identity) compares The Phenom to MJ, saying that Calaway is the Air Jordan of professional wrestling.  Okay, he might have said "sports entertainment."

As a 90's kid, I'd have to agree.  Since rediscovering wrestling in my mid-20's, I've settled on The Undertaker as my favorite, and I'd definitely go so far as to say that he is the greatest of my lifetime.  The G.O.M.L.T?  Doesn't roll off the tongue.  Fuck it; he's The G.O.A.T.  It may be shorthand, but he tops my totem pole.  Or Mount Everest, or whatever rubric you want to implement to determine royalty.  This isn't much of a sports blog, but yes, Jordan is my basketball goat as well.  Wilt approaches the throne, as does Kareem.  Magic?  I could see it.  But did any of them have the global impact that Michael did?  Don't even think of uttering LeBron's name.  Not in my house.

What was my point?  No, seriously.  Where the hell was I going with all of this?  Oh, the documentaries.  Watch them.  Take a beat to consider that you were there to see them perform (if you were, that is).  I'm very thankful that I grew up watching The Undertaker and Michael Jordan on my television.  Pop culture matters.  By the way, it wasn't easy finding images that tied these two subjects together.  That's 'Taker on the left, down below  I guess injuries aren't always an obstacle.


Children of the Corn

At first, I wasn't going to touch this motion picture.  Not with a ten-foot pole, a tentpole, a utility pole or any other kind of pole.  As far as I'm concerned, I have done my due diligence.  Corn and its derivatives?  No concern of mine.  But then I thought back to a late-90's Christmas party whereupon I was gifted 1984's Children of the Corn on VHS.  Did I ever really give it a fair shot?  And what about the relative who endowed me this demure pittance (a somewhat-distant cousin, if I recall)?  Does...well, does he remember buying the goddamn thing?  It's debatable.  In all likelihood, none of this bullshit matters.  The point remains...I was curious.

I'm not curious anymore.  Corn is just as mediocre as I suspected.  Maybe a half-Z'Dar better.  Maybe!  Probing this series with the most sterile of colanders, I have been continually floored that it has lasted so long, and with no end in sight, it seems.  Eight sequels mothered from a nothing thriller?  Oh, and a remake???  The Stephen King association is the only factor I can chide.  Someone must be held accountable.  You can't pin the blame on a vanguard, groundbreaking premise.  Pop culture has had fun with the "evil kids" trope, but it wasn't invented by this film or its source material.  Just a few years prior, The Children set killer brats loose on a small town beleaguered by a nuclear gas leak.  That was schlock, though.

I would have to be blind not to see that Corn is a legitimate studio crop (I feel guilty; that word play is tantamount to masturbation).  Every once in awhile, it's nice to watch a movie that resembles, y'know, a movie.  Linda Hamilton is game as Vicky, one-half of our outlander couple.  The other half is Burt, as portrayed by Peter Horton.  I have to hand it to them.  They're excellent as normal, happy fuckers.  They know how to play off of each other and their chemistry is palpable.  Yes, they are prone to making dumb decisions, but if they don't, we aren't left with much.  The genre feeds on character folly.

Random scenes are narrated by a motherfu--okay, I need to muzzle my profanity.  This saga of sorts is getting to me, and I can't let it win.  Anyway, the narration is incredibly useless.  An event will transpire, then a dopey jackanape will tell us that said event transpired.  Can you appreciate how hard it is for me to use semi-coherent English to describe Children of the Corn?  Eventually, I will break down and resort to "the shit's fucking shit."  What's sad is that I haven't really centralized my rage on the film's most prominent drawback.  It's boring!  It takes way too many minutes to get where the script is going to go.  Suspense?  Not a chance.  It's dawning on me that I'm the wrong horror freak to be reviewing Children of the Cunt.

Somehow, I've typed a smattering of positive remarks.  Buh.  Life is clear now.  I have emptied my chamber (or barrel...I don't know anything about guns) as it relates to Corn criticism.  There is nothing else to say.  I am moving on, and beek-bum-whang, there are a squillion b-toasters that I'm looking forward to penetrating.  Sexually.  Did enough damage here.  You can always review the others yourself.  Or you can suck all of my cocks.  You yellow, greas--wow, this franchise changes you on a molecular level, doesn't it?


Geek Out #138

I haven't posted one of these puppies in awhile.  This clip contains three trailers, but the real Geek Out (for me anyway) comes 'atcha live in the form of the first trailer.  It's for 1981's gloriously sleazy Nightmare.  Fun times!


Swim Back to Japan

I said I would talk about this match, an NXT Women's Championship bout between Charlotte Flair and Io Shirai, and so, I have returned to do just that.  Huzzah!  As I predicted, the wrestling itself was fluid.  If these two grappled at a major PPV, the (empty) arena would crumble.  Unfortunately, the result was bullshit.  I shouldn't have to include a spoiler warning, but if you don't want to know how the match ended, here's your warning.  Watch the fucking thing already!

Why on Earth would Charlotte risk disqualification by brandishing a kendo stick?  A DQ finish?  Really?  First off, it doesn't fit her character, not even her heel persona.  Secondly, Io should have been champion by now.  If she isn't outfitted in gold by the end of 2020, she should swim back to Japan where they recognize her excellence.  What reasoning do they have?  I'm genuinely curious.  Too soon?  Nonsense.  And she's certainly over.  She made a fairly emphatic heel turn, but the crowds eventually started to cheer for her anyway.  It's plain to see that she's a badass.

Assuming there is another Takeover event, signs are pointing to a three-way promenade involving former champ Rhea Ripley.  I dig Rhea.  She should not have lost the title at Wrestlemania.  Having said that, Io needs to wind up at the top of this division.  I fear that her character is in danger of being Asuka'd.  Oh, poor Asuka.  An otherworldly talent has been relegated to annoying dancing and screaming on Raw.  I don't believe Vince McMahon to be a racist.  However, when it comes to booking Asian wrestlers, he is a goofwad.  Look no further than Shinsuke Nakamura.  That dude is a fucking rock star!  How did they fuck that up?

There was a point in time when I was ecstatic to read that Io Shirai was finally - finally - signing with WWE.  I was naive.  All I can do is hope for the best.  It's kinda like the pandemic situation.  Maybe Io should attend "creative" meetings wearing a facemask?  Practice social distancing from any of Vince's ideas?  I'm out of awful jokes.  WHY WAS THERE A RANDOM KENDO STICK UNDER THE RING?


Blood Capsule #93


See the dead expression in their eyes.  Sense the lifeless oscitancy emanating from their pale faces.  You know it's true.  You know they have seen Children of the Corn: Revelation.  The horror!  Our youths have been--okay, enough stagecraft.  In all seriousness, this flick has about as much energy as those two bantamweights.  How much does a bantamweight weigh?  Fuck it.  I don't care.  Revelation finds a woman visiting a tottering, condemned apartment complex in search of her grandmother.  Needless to say, she discovers a secret and a town curse.  I wonder if I could mount a scythe to the tip of my typing wand and eviscerate myself.  Just fucking gut away at...

Oh, sorry.  The film isn't particularly engaging, as you might imagine.  I can barely recall the details of what happened, and I watched it only hours ago.  It's stunningly bland.  Even the color palette seems bored, offering a purview of suntan and spinach-olive.  I could vomit right now and produce something more visually appealing.  The lead actress is fine.  She's in front of the camera.  I got nothin' else, gang.  Nothin'!


You can bet your sweet...

I'm torn on what to write.  On one hand, this coming Wednesday's edition of NXT is a big deal (to me).  Charlotte Flair will be defending the NXT Women's Championship against Io Shirai.  Io!  That's my girl!  Since coming to WWE in 2017-ish (an injury delayed her debut), she has kicked ass and made a case that she deserves the strap.  Of course, I've been a fan since her Stardom days, and in conversation, I always bring up the fact that at one point, Shirai was considered to be the best wrestler on the planet - male or female.  You can bet your sweet cunt that I still consider her to be the absolute best.  Okay, one of the best.  It's nearly impossible to single out a modern day G.O.A.T.

I will write a few words about the match after it has happened.  Who knows?  Charlotte may retain.  However, we are guaranteed a classic bout.  Say what you want about Ric's little queen, but she can fucking work.  If you look at the ladies that McMahon has under his employ, she and Becky Lynch are clearly vying for the top rung (putting the Asians aside, that is).  Oh, and Candice.  Don't forget Candice.  She's evil now...yaaaaay!

The other hand is a little more complicated.  Could it be that I'm stalling because I don't want to confront my next review?  You heathens?  You're not all heathens, but you know who you are out there.  Making me finish the Children of the Corn franchise.  Ugh, it hasn't earned the right to be called a franchise.  I'm speaking this paragraph through gnashed teeth, by the way.  I want you to feel my disdain.  Grrrr!

"I don't get paid enough for this shit."


Under Wraps

This was the perfect refreshment to peck at during my one-movie excursion away from Kids of the Maize (nyuk, nyuk).  If you're a fan of New Japan Pro-Wrestling, you know how appropriate my usage of "excursion" is, and hopefully, you have inferred that watching the Corn series is analogous to attending a brutal dojo.  I'm a young lion!  Right, so now that I've alienated at least 64% of you, let us continue.  1997's Under Wraps was the first Disney Channel original to premiere on the network.  I was thirteen years of age, but we didn't get The Disney Channel.  My gratification with this flick has nothing to do with nostalgia.

Under Wraps presents a certain purity.  It's an innocence I can support, though the plot does become a wee bit too saponaceous in the third act.  Oh, sorry.  It becomes too soapy.  I tend to forget how heavy these university words can be and I drop them all over the place.  Did I clomp your toe?  I do apologize for being so goddamn erudite.  My brain is so big, my crotch is jealous.  Speaking of my penis, this is a fun family movie.  The lead tweens - those pictured above - unintentionally break into their neighborhood's creepy house (every development has one...I guess?).  Of course, they find an open sarcophagus.  They also stumble upon the mummy that once dwelled within!  Exclamation point!

This is an opportune spot to mention the fact that the version I viewed seems to be bereaved of a few minutes.  Why?  I don't know, Cap'n.  The running times don't correspond, and unless my eyes were ossified, key scenes are missing.  I can't fault the film itself.  Express story details remain unaccounted for, and yes, that's a hindrance.  However, Under Wraps manages to entertain.  The pace is vigorous.  Many jokes fall flat, but even the meager attempts at humor possess a modicum of charm.  That purity I talked about earlier?  Yeah, that stuff.  Gets all over your clothes.

I dug the mummy.  Harold (as he is named by our protagonists) is played by Bill Fagerbakke.  You may know him as Dauber from Coach.  He was the dumb dude.  Here, he makes noises that pass for "mummy speak."  Actually, he delivers a strong performance and his make-up is gnarly.  I understand that my rating doesn't scream enthusiasm, but it feels right for Under Wraps.  It's a simple watch, and to be honest, I don't have a laundry list of nitpicks to add.  I already said that the ending is a drippy mess.  Just take my recommendation without second-guessing me.  That's my advice.  To take my advice.  I can do that.