1 Libra

That poor cake!  Today is the 28th of September, a day that shall live in infamy, for it is...my birthday.  Birthdays become spiritually taxing as you age.  That has been my experience anyway.  Like, what's the point of keeping count?  Why don't we include the nine months we spend in the womb?  True, it's a day that celebrates our birth, but if someone asks your age, you don't factor those nine months into the equation.  And why do we stop throwing parties at putt-putt courses and bowling alleys?  Life as an adult is so much more grim and exasperating.  If anything, zany carousing should be encouraged when you get older.

You'll have to pardon my sophomoric deliberations.  I get this way when I age.  Urg.  The 28th of September has remodeled itself into being a speed bump in my favorite season.  Speaking of all things autumnal, I will NOT be reviewing an entire goddamn franchise to ring in Halloween.  I will, however, review one more title that appears on the Shudder streaming service.  The esteemed, resplendent Michael Lake will choose that title.  You won a contest, sir.  Use your power for the forces of good.


Rasputin: The Mad Monk

Are you a fan of Hammer horror?  Christopher Lee?  Gothic vampire tales?  Well, strap in and...maybe check out 1966's Rasputin: The Mad Monk.  That's assuming you're a bit of a completionist.  This isn't "must see" material.  I didn't mean to get your hopes up, but my hopes were pretty damn high.  Rasputin was one of the few remaining Hammer vehicles that I had yet to insert into my tape player (it won't fit in the fucking 8-track), the studio's non-genre output notwithstanding.  You only get so many chances to make a first impression.  I screwed up that precept, but you see where I'm coming from, don't you?  I was left lukewarm by this period piece, and I aspired to perspire.

So I started this review two nights ago, and in the interim, my wheelchair has essentially broken down.  To circumvent technical argot and buzzwords (i.e. terms like "argot"), the steering mechanism is out of kilter.  Kerflooey!  As you might guess, this has caused a great deal of stress.  I haven't devoted many thoughts to Rasputin, and I considered sacking the piece altogether.  But I dig the idea of soldiering on.  I mean, fuck.  I just posted a mopey bulletin about how I wanted to be more prolific.  Plus, I saw a connection between how I feel in regards to this embellished biopic NOW versus how I felt before my bad motor scooter went bonkers.  My opinion did not change.

The screenplay was penned by Hammer regular Anthony Hinds.  It's isn't faulty per se, but the decision to romanticize the story of a mythologically evil mystic seems a bit unnecessary.  The actual events that comprised Grigori Rasputin's life were almost more interesting than the sequence of not-so-actual events that played out on the silver screen.  Though his time as a political figure in imperial Russia was brief, it was stark and rife with ignominy.  In the film, Rasputin is a simple swine who transposes a village (without much resistance, at that) and drives his boner through a selection of bar wenches.

I don't want to come off too aggressive here.  I certainly do not wish to slag Sir Christopher Lee.  If reports are to be believed, he wasn't fond of the script, but his performance is no less commanding.  In 1966, who else could have filled this role with the requisite aplomb?  The self-possession?  The wild-eyed wits?  The sang-goddamn-froid???  You could potentially name a few, but that undercuts my point.  Lee kicks ass, man.  He single-handedly keeps this flick afloat when it desperately tries to drown itself at every opportunity.

Elsewhere, the scenery is nice.  Director Don Sharp is experienced at cranking out shadowy thrillers.  I'll admit that the last 10 minutes (give or take) are tense, but the first 81...well, stakes are knee-high.  For you statisticians out there, my aforementioned hopes were higher.  I would need to be higher still to enjoy Rasputin: The Mad Monk as much as I should have.



Depressing Depression Depresses

Slow fucking week.  I feel like I should apologize for not being as prolific as I want to be, at least on the "movie review" front.  An apology is probably not necessary, but it is what it is.  In the past month or so, I have been dutifully crushed by depression.  It's difficult to care about anything, especially movies.  I did get something in the mail today that I'm looking forward to watching, and yes, reviewing.  It's one day at a time, right?  Baby steps.  Fuck.

So that's where my mind is at.  Have patience with me, dear reader.  I just needed to address my crumbling mental state to relieve some self-imposed stress.  Here is an impertinent picture of the jester from Funnyman.  It's extremely sexual.


A Band: Order of Ennead

I listened to both Order of Ennead albums last week and a question smacked me in the capitulum.  Whatever happened to Order of Ennead?  They released a dyad of killer records in the span of three years and then...nothing.  Not a peep!  Mind you, they never broke up.  Over at Metal Archives, the unit is still listed as "active," but they're as active as my sex life.  Which is very!  Oh, I'm swimming in sweet 'tang.  I fuck so much, why, it's almost like I don't fuck at all.  Illusory, chimerical fucking.  Yes.  No.  I'm sorry you had to read that head trip vagary.  My cock is flaccid with disappointment.*

A little background information might help.  Ennead began life as Council of the Fallen, a black/death metal collective fronted by Kevin Quirion.  When Deicide drummer Steve Asheim joined the fold, the band changed their name to Order of Ennead (an agnomen inspired by mythological hooey).  Musically, I would describe them as melodic black metal.  The guitar solos are plentiful, and if you know me, you know that's a surefire way to stroke my--goddamn it, why do I keep writing about my dick???

Moving on, man!  Asheim is a badass behind the kit, the riffs are singular, and none of the songs wear out their welcome.  I should point out that these cajoleries mainly pertain to the first album, a self-titled affair birthed in 2008.  2010's An Examination of Being isn't an arrant lemon, but it's not as varied as its predecessor.  It needs a follow-up.  I have no doubt that this column will galvanize the members and lead to such an endeavor.  I have connections.

*My own cock!  Disappointed!  In me!


100% Fun

I don't...I don't think the image is relevant.  Anyway, my little website - this one - will be reaching a milestone soon.  The next Blood Capsule I write will be number one hundred.  It's actually not a big deal.  I've written more than 100 things for Random Reviews Incorporated.  This is just an easy way to celebrate the fact that this place still exists FOR SOME GODDAMN REASON.

It's hard for me to write anything without sounding acerbic, but I am grateful for anyone who reads my ravings.  In fact, this calls for a contest of sorts.  E-mail me (yes, e-mail...I want this to be torture).  That's the contest.  Just e-mail me.  I don't care what you e-mail me.  Plain text, images (no dick pics, please), links, awful jokes, chain letters, whatever!  I'll pick my favorite.  That person will select the film I review for my 100th Blood Capsule with the caveat that the motion picture in question is available to watch on Shudder (don't worry, I can find a list of titles if you need it).

The e-mail address is "spookiesgore@gmail.com."  I can't wait to read all two entries.  You have, let's say, a week to submit your e-mail.  Do it!  Now!


Blood Capsule #99


I don't include Z'Dar ratings with Blood Capsules.  It's a custom as old as time.  It's also convenient, as I'm not sure which rating I would assign to From the Dark.  Stalking out of Ireland, this quaggy spooker does many things well.  The atmosphere is leaden with gloom (it's all about those peat bogs, baby), the dialogue is natural, and the monster is too cool to attend an institution for learning.  Unfortunately, I encountered a commensurate canon of drawbacks.  Aside from the fact that the storyline is outmoded (more on that later), the pace is strangled by endless scenes of characters searching and/or walking in the dark.  Shit, director Conor McMahon took his title to heart.

So the outmoded storyline.  Maybe it's just me, but I'm growing weary of cars breaking down in the middle of nowhere.  Is this a mortiferous flaw?  No, but I reserve the right to be a grouch.  At any rate, a young couple is stranded in the soupy, silvered countryside.  They aren't alone.  Eh, that didn't track.  Let me try it again, only with the added urgency of an exclamation point.  *ahem*  They aren't alone!  Much better.  There is a vampire-adjacent ghoul creeping around the premises, and if he has it his way, our pasty lovebirds will not observe another sunrise.  My calculation of "vampire-adjacent" is just that; we don't know anything about the miscreant.  Fine by me.  Y'know, From the Dark is one road chase short of being Jeepers Creepers.

The closest I can come to a final verdict is...yeah, it's worth renting.  A notch above mediocre.  By the way, all of these words were typed with an Irish accent.


Album Cover of the Whatever

Another album cover already?  Yeah, I have one ready to go, so why not?  I don't know much about E-X-E (a.k.a. Executioner), a speed/thrash band out of New York.  They released a pair of long players before calling it quits in the 90's.  Apparently, no one likes this record, but that artwork is begging to be featured somewhere.  Might as well be here!  The bold colors are one thing.  The sky, the circus tents...love it, love it.  But tunic-bejeweling Christ, what creepy gesture is being offered by Headless Balloon Man?  Yikes.  I'm worried about that little girl.  Very, very worried.


Cannibal Ferox

As a teenager, I decided that I would never watch exploitation films that featured animal cruelty.  I got into many arguments on message boards about this subject, and I never encountered justifiable reasons to maim an innocent creature for the purposes of entertainment.  I still feel this way.  So why did I watch Umberto Lenzi's Cannibal Ferox?  It's complicated.  And simple, really.  These critters are dead whether I watch the movie or not.  Would they give a fuck?  Also, it's interesting review material.  I know so much about 1980's Cannibal Holocaust, I feel like I've already seen it (between you and me, I've seen portions of it...don't tell the others reading).  This is a different animal.  Poor choice of words?

Ferox came out in 1981, and today, it's perceived as a second-tier sandbag.  I don't know of one gorehound who prefers it to Holocaust.  Yet!  It's still regarded with cursory affection.  What makes these anthropophagic dailies stand out in the crowded "guts in a jungle" sub-subgenre?  In my opinion, not much.  We follow a few anthropologists to South America to study the natives.  In addition to the natives, they happen upon a covey of drug pushers mining resources, if you know what I mean.  The lead dealer is named Mike.  He's a fucking asshole.  If you're familiar with cannibal flicks at all, you know where the plot is going.  Who are the real savages?  Isn't that question thought-provoking?

I know that I viewed Ferox, but it didn't leave a dent in my headspace.  Even in the thick of the film, I sensed a disconnect.  Nothing reached me.  I didn't care about the characters, and the nondescript performances didn't help matters.  The actors were not people; they were just flesh props.  Mercifully, said flesh is ripped, gashed, and lacerated in key scenes.  I didn't get mileage out of the human bloodshed, but maybe that's because it was projected amidst animal bloodshed and presented in the same fashion.  Grisly though it may be (breast impalement...ouch), I would have "enjoyed" the gratuitous violence in any other Italian shocker.  Yes, the quotation marks are necessary.

I'm down with chunks of Lenzi's filmography.  He sounds a tad scuzzy, but he did direct Nightmare City.  Pros and cons, y'know?  I'm not proficient at holding grudges.  I'm angling to cover a couple of reels that he lensed, and as far as I know, they are bereft of badger butchery or hedgehog hecatombs.  See, that alliteration was as useless as the bulk of Cannibal Ferox.  For those wondering, I am awarding two whole Z'Dars for the convincing special effects and the alternate title of Make Them Die Slowly.  The fuck is a ferox?  It's not in the dictionary.  Boy, I'm really mad now!



Rassle Inn #8

I admit it.  The top image was included for the sake of humor, but clearly, it's not funny when a wrestler's cranium smacks concrete and "concussion protocol" becomes necessary.  If you're up to date on your Rassle Inn news (snicker, snicker), you know that Matt Hardy suffered a scary injury at this past Saturday's All Out.  He was unconscious for at least thirty seconds.  Fans and "journalists" were critical of Tony Khan for the way he handled the incident.  And I get it.  The match didn't need to be restarted.  However, this is where I play the devil's advocate.

Why do wrestling promotions have doctors on staff?  Why does Khan pay professional medical personnel to be on-site?  He listened to the doctor.  The doctor conducted tests and said that Hardy could continue.  Should he go with his gut and put his opinion before the advisement of a licensed physician?  Technically, I don't believe he did anything wrong.  If you think there should be a policy instituted that states a match must be expunged once a competitor blacks out, I could get behind that.  That might be where we are heading.  Thankfully, The Multifarious One seems to be okay, and I don't foresee this being an issue again.

Elsewhere on the card, titles changed hands.  We knew that Page and Omega were going to split at some point, but we didn't know how or when.  This angle has been subtle, perhaps too subtle, but it has been intriguing.  I want to keep watching.  Shida/Rosa was rock solid, though it wasn't quite as spectacular as Rosa/Deeb.  So like, sign Serena Deeb!  AEW's women's division could use a few more pure workers.  Injuries and a certain pandemic took a bite out of the roster, but hopefully, we'll see folks such as Shanna and Kris Statlander back soon.

Overall, the main event was probably the best bout of the night.  While I would have put the strap (ooh, listen to that insider lingo) on MJF, at least the finish gives him a valid gripe.  The door is open for a rematch.  I loved the storytelling through and through.  Honestly, I don't have anything more to add.  Raw is on mute to my left and I reckon it's softening my brain.  Did Cedric Alexander just join The Hurt Business?  Why?  The Riott Squad will be participating in two handicap matches?  Why?  "Raw Underground" still exists?  Why???

I vote we elect a representative to clean that place out.


Album Cover of the Whatever

I'll be writing a fresh edition of Rassle Inn tomorrow, but first!  Check out this artwork.  It's from the White Zombie single for "Super-Charger Heaven."  What a fucking song.  I've been revisiting the WZ catalogue, not to be confused with the RZ catalogue.  Hellbilly Deluxe was okay, I guess, but this was a band that never should have been demobilized.


Both feet must touch the floor!

Just a little reminder that AEW's All Out, their flagship pay-per-view (or at least one of them), supervenes tomorrow night.  Live!  By God, I should be paid to promote shit.  There will be a battle royal, which got me thinkin' 'bout battle royals of the past.  They were always fun, even though you knew 95% of the participants didn't stand a McFlurry's chance in Hell of winning.  I mean, where else would you see Mantaur posing across from Hakushi?  Or Hulk Hogan squaring off against Andre the Giant?  Okay, poor example.  I think I accidentally used a Survivor Series photo, so pay no mind to my muttering.  Besides!  Wrong company.

AEW has been doing pretty well as of late, relatively speaking.  If I can watch All Out within 24 hours of the initial airing, I'll review it.  That's a prodigious "if" because I'm not spending money on it.  My coffers are empty, chums.



Good for South Korea.  I'm just saying.  They seem to have their shit together.  Hours ago, I was watching Korean baseball, and I must say, I'm getting into their league.  The KBO was the first sporting association to galvanize their troops, so to speak, after COVID-19 adjourned the planet.  As far as films are concerned, South Korea has been releasing some of the most original genre content around for two decades now.  I haven't seen...well, most of it.  Thankfully, Shudder carries a coffinload of K-horror.  2018's Monstrum is right up my alley, which is to say, it features a giant monster.  We are set in the 16th century.  The Joseon dynasty is in power, and before you even ask, yes, this was my second favorite Korean dynasty.

Scores of cadavers are piling up.  A number of the bodies are ripped to fuck (that's a colloquial way of saying "ripped apart"), while others are diseased and dappled in virulent boils.  Meanwhile, the dubious prime minister assembles a team of men to ascertain and ultimately eliminate the root cause.  Other things happen, but that's all you need to know.  The viewer follows a warrior and those close to him.  We spend a substantial amount of time with these peeps before we spy a speck of monster flesh.  This actually works in the film's favor, as the dialogue is well-written and the characters are grounded.  There is comic relief, but it doesn't get out of hand.

Monstrum could easily be sold as a horror/action hybrid.  We get plenty of rapid violence before and after the titular beast shows up.  Speaking of "Sparkles," it's a cool amalgam of a bull and a lion.  The creature effects are rendered digitally, but they don't look too shabby.  Was I reminded of 1997's The Relic?  Yes, but I dug The Relic.  So there.  Anyway, Penelope Ann Miller gives a commendable performance as Margo, an anthropologist tasked with--what the goddamn fuck, sorry!  Slid off the rails for a second.  When it comes to Swedish death metal, Seance are oft-overlooked purveyors of--son of a bitch!  Okay, new paragraph.

Not much about Monstrum offends me, if I'm being perfectly honest.  The photography is crisp, the pacing is even, and the antagonists are antagonistic.  This flick isn't perfect, though.  If I could change one aspect of the storyline, it would be the ending.  I won't go into detail, so as to protect kayfabe (lolzies), but suffice to say, he should have.  He didn't.  But he should have.  If you've seen Monstrum, I think you know where I'm going with this fuzzy, ambiguous point.  If not, I'm being too fuzzy and ambiguous.  It wouldn't be the first time.  Go Dinos!  This could be our year!