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.