Blood Capsule #106


This is the less comedic sibling of 1961's Creature From the Haunted Sea.  Both are Corman productions.  Creature was directed by Roger, while Beast was produced by Gene.  I'll say this much; I haven't seen many other b-hubs that tackle ski slopes and corpse-dotted cobwebs.  If you can't tell from the above image (you can't), the monster is an arachnid...thing.  It's not quite a spider!  If you have to ask (you don't), the script never divulges information about its bristly bandit.  Of course, it's not the only antagonist here.  There is also Alex, the leader of a band of despoilers staging an epic gold heist.  How epic?  They cause a fucking avalanche to create a diversion so they can plunder a bank.

The acting is better than it has any right to be, and the same could be said for the dialogue.  The non-horror elements of the narrative are almost more engaging than the kooky, senseless carnage.  Almost.  As you should be aware by now, this writer is a fiendish numskull who would love it if every film was a mutant-heavy hecatomb to the (preferably Lovecraftian) gods.  In this case, I'll take what I can get.  Beast From Haunted Cave sputters across the finish line, but I'd still encourage you to spelunk for it.  Y'know, because of caves?  Fuck off.


Gorgo vs. Konga

The trailer for Godzilla vs. King Kong is finally online.  My opinion?  I feel like a basic mark, but I don't have any complaints.  Kaiju flicks - or "giant monster movies" as they are known in North America - are 90-minute time machines for me.  If not for the pandemic, I'd be there opening night scarfing down popcorn like a peckish raptor.  Alas, the pandemic.  By the film's release date (March 26), the public may feel more inclined to attend such events as film screenings and music festivals, but barring further shutdowns, should they?  I mean, we?  I'd love to think that we're on the right track.  Argh.

Enough about the daily news (with Lester Holt).  This trailer does drive home the point that if you don't want any part of a film spoiled, you might as well forsake your Internet connection.  Look, I can't blame anyone, and eventually, I would have figured it out for myself.  I'm a little surprised that it didn't hit me sooner.  Granted, fans are merely guessing, but it makes too much sense.  Whatever, Trevor.

PS-I'm rooting for Big G!  I do love them both.  And yeah, they will both probably survive, but let me have my sophomoric fun.


Album Cover of the Whatever

Look!  Is it a bird?  No, is it...a fucking mushroom?  Is it a tree?  Is it an umbrella?  Is it a bat?  Is it an owl???  Actually, it's a progressive rock record from Giants, Dwarfs, and Black Holes.  Aside from the album title's font color (art shouldn't remind me of honey mustard), I would rate this piece as exemplary.  My opinion on the music shouldn't matter here, but I will say that I'm not a fan.  Meh.  Bats and mushrooms, though!



Thanks, Franco!  Who the hell is Franco?  He's a monkey (from outer space) who hooked me up with a copy of 1987's Dolls.  Man, it shouldn't be so difficult to locate a Stuart Gordon venture in this day and age, but here we are.  I was in the right frame of mind to partake of an 80's horror potluck.  I wanted the works.  Anachronous fashion, awkwardly angular dialogue, in-camera gore effects...y'know, the works!  I remember seeing shavings of Dolls as a teenager, but that was on television.  Clearly, I needed to feel the undocked, unexpurgated tactility of this protoplasm.

I was not disappointed.  At the time, hard-nosed gorehounds lamented what they perceived to be a subdued production, but with all due respect, those folks can get bent.  Dolls is rad.  If you're in the market for a synopsis, try this on for size (bear in mind, I couldn't corral beachfront property within your budget): an uppity couple is on vacation.  Their car gets fucked in the mud, so they're forced to walk to the nearest sign of civilization.  Yeah, it's that kind of movie.  They stumble upon an enormous manor occupied by elderly artisans.  Bratty hitchhikers also arrive with their easily flustered chauffeur of sorts.  Basically, a scene is set and potential victims are established in an "old, dark house" scenario.

If you can make allowances for the clichés, you have a pleen-smelting (?) soiree of spooktacular delights on your hands.  You can tell that Stu (I'm positive that we would have been on a first-name basis) was having a blast in the director's chair, even if the shoot proved to be grievous and enervating.  An entire year was spent devising the doll effects.  Stop-motion was employed, and yes, it ruled my world.  I realize that stop-motion animation causes many to curl their upper lip, but to me, it looks no less ridiculous than CGI.  There are good and bad examples of both.  I get it.  And I feel like I've argued this point before, so I'll change the subject.

The cast is adroit.  Everyone plays their part with precision, but I do wish that we had one more protagonist to cheer.  Dolls is swarming with scuzzbags and scalawags.  What is this, a giallo?  The only other pitfall I care to address involves the pace, although Gordon does a commendable job of keeping the chain of events reasonably expedient.  There are simply too many spots where a character grabs either a candle or a flashlight and decides to go on a goddamn scavenger hunt through dark corridors.  I'm sorry, but that's the quickest way to immobilize my pulse.

Dolls deserves credit for anticipating the "killer doll" furor that would soon follow in its furrow.  You fucking furby.  Um, anyhow.  This flick took a creepy scene in Poltergeist to the next ten levels.  For that, I salute thee.  Robert Z'Dar says, "Don't forget the teddy bear monster.  The teddy bear monster is great."



Rassle Inn #13

I won't ramble for long, but a thought occurred to me the other day.  Where are we going?  When the tentacles of cross-promotional hostilities first revealed themselves, it was an exciting prospect.  Kenny Omega on Impact?  The Good Brothers on Dynamite?  Think of the possibilities.  AEW's stacked tag team division stands only to be bolstered.  Critics bemoan an admittedly anemic women's division, but the Knockouts offer a megacosm of incipient, yet conceivable "dream match" scenarios.  Okay, maybe that's stretching it a bit.  You can't deny that the Knockouts have been one facet of the product that TNA/Impact hasn't muffed.

Looking to the singles ranks, the excitement I name-checked earlier...well, it begins to wane.  Eventually, Omega will pin Rich Swann to become the Impact World Champion.  Then what?  Where are we going?  For close to a decade now, Impact has contended with a self-imposed moratorium on building new stars.  I want to blame them, but damn.  They're still paying for the sins of Dixie Carter.  Face the facts!  It's the company you go to until.  That is, until you can wrestle for WWE or AEW.  As it relates to young talent, ROH (and even New Japan) has a stronger track record for developing fresh faces.

So who steps up to challenge The Cleaner?  I hate to say it, but I wish this angle involved WWE.  That would grab fucking eyeballs.  Since this is my wrestling column, I suppose that I'll acknowledge that other thing.  Alexa Bliss acting like a child?  Fireballs?  Randy Krueger?  Look, by the time The Undertaker started doing stupid shit in the mid-90's, he was already The Undertaker.  He was protected in such a way, that a daffy gimmick here and there wasn't going to chip away at his phantasm.  That's not the case with The Fiend, and it's definitely not the case with Bray Wyatt.  Poor guy.


Geek Out #145

I have an unhealthy obsession with The Outer Limits.  Note that I am only referring to the original black-and-white TV series that ran for two seasons in the mid-60's.  I don't despise the 90's remodel, but the magic isn't there.  In any event, I saw this oddball video and HAD to circulate it through cybernetic channels (i.e. the Internet).  1958's The Hideous Sun Demon is charming enough, but gussied up to look like an episode of The Outer Limits?  Fucking irresistible.


Blood Capsule #105


I remember this bleak fairy tale as one of the last pre-pandemic pictures to populate theaters.  It didn't exactly set the box office on fire, and the critical reaction was consonantly tepid.  I'll admit that the flick has its failings, but altogether, I came away with a favorable opinion of Oz Perkins's coming-of-age retelling of a decidedly dark chestnut.  What a weird little subgenre.  Or is it a sub-subgenre?  All I know is that 1994's Snow White: A Tale of Terror is shipshape and that I need to uproot a copy of 1996's Pinocchio's Revenge.  But I won't bore you with personal histrionics.  Besides, you'll be busy being spooked by Alice Krige's portrayal of a backcountry crone.

Seriously...sheesh!  Krige gave me the heebies, the jeebies, and somehow, anal fissures.  Gretel & Hansel is weighted with harrowing imagery.  Perkins has a savvy, acuminous eye for visuals that will lodge themselves into your consciousness.  I love the way he plays with color and contrast.  The film's surface area is arresting enough to offset the crawling pace.  Others will disagree.  Personally, I was game, but there are stretches where Gretel will lose the less occupied.  That's not a knock on antsy viewers.  Had it been later at night, I may have submitted to sleep myself.

Pairs well with 2015's The VVitch.


You've got a friend in me...

I recently added the Comet TV app(le) to my Roku rotation.  For one thing, it's free (no, this is not a paid advertisement).  Also, it variegates my viewing habits.  Let's be honest; ESPN gets more boring with each passing day.  I'll give you an example.  Nothing interesting is on television at 10 am, but tomorrow morning, Comet is airing War of the Gargantuas followed by Destroy All Monsters.  Fuck to the yes!

These days, people tend to curate their own entertainment, but I wouldn't mind seeing multiple channels like Comet (Shudder and El Ray are two others that spring to mind).  The only downside is that their film library is paltry.  It does include Ben, so that's something.  Am I listening to Michael Jackson's theme song right now?  Mind your own business.


Masters of the Universe

Poster cribbed from THIS location.

I've always been tangentially aware of He-Man and Skeletor.  I've seen the action figures, even if the animated series was slightly before my time.  As for 1987's Masters of the Universe, well, better late than never?  I can't finger the impetus to tardily watch this film.  Why do we do anything that we do?  Why does the white-winged snowfinch forage around ski resorts?  Why do the moon-bellied giants of Uganda try to pin their opponents with their backs facing the harsh lights of the stadium?  No one flipping knows.  The point is, I viewed it.  And I dug it!  You don't need to read any further, but I wish you would.

WARNING: The plot is wacky.  You're probably familiar with it, but I want to type it out to corroborate that it was, in fact, real.  On the planet of Eternia, a regal castle is overthrown - Castle Greyskull!  It's deposed by the rancorous Skeletor and his minions.  They try to funnel the power of The Sorceress of Greyskull, as brandishing this universal sway will allow Skeletor to...um, fuck the cosmos, I suppose.  I don't know how any of this actually works.  Masters employs cartoon logic, but that isn't necessarily a dereliction of duty.  Oh, I forgot He-Man.  He's the hero!  He's gonna save Eternia, you guys!  If the film commits one afflictive wrongdoing, it's the sapless, humdrum nature of He-Man himself.

Despite Dolph Lundgren's best efforts (c'mon, the guy is still badass), our main protagonist is void of character.  He's so generic, the role could have been portrayed by an action figure.  I cannot say the same for motherfuckin' Skeletor.  Frank Langella sinks his teeth into the scenery and hams it way up as the Overlord of Evil.  Why can't we get Skeletor: Origins?  Nevermind; it would be trephined with blotchy CGI.  Masters derives a husky percentage of its charm from supposedly "outdated" effects techniques.  Who doesn't love a well-mounted matte painting?  And the costumes are grand.  Karg is a wily, woolly son of a bitch, isn't he?

I'm fond of the entire gang of villains.  The alien-eyed (that's a compliment, by the way) Meg Foster confused my sex organs as the unprincipled, yet beguiling Evil Lyn.  Yowza!  She is a spanking and a handful of chains away from becoming a Cenobite.  Good grief, I sound like an idiot.  What else can I jabber about?  The pace is nimble.  I thought the Earth scenes were handled with care, and I honestly couldn't believe that the production couldn't afford a second unit.  Props to director Gary Goddard.  Moreover, the requisite teenagers felt believable.  Considering the genre and decade, I was expecting rancid writing, but the dialogue passed the smell test.

Robert Z'Dar says, "I was offered Skeletor.  I disrespectfully declined and I'll tell you why.  I knew Skeletor.  Good guy.  This movie makes him out to be a monster.  That's bullshit.  And I'll tell you something else.  He never wanted to kill He-Man.  Ever!  That blonde fop kept getting in the way, so of course, there is going to be some discord.  I'm talking about misunderstandings, okay?"



Album Cover of the Whatever

Here's another music thing before I steer back into movie territory.  This one is a split!  Released in 1994, Live Death features songs by Suffocation, Malevolent Creation, Exhorder, and Cancer.  I'm sure the sounds it contains correspond nicely with Badass Monster Dude (that's the handle I have given our cover model).


Top 10 Metal Albums of 2020 (Part Two)

#5) Havukruunu - Uinuos syomein sota

I'm trying to brush aside my obsessive-compulsive tendencies as they relate to English grammar.  Havukruunu hails from Finland, so their case-challenged album titles are technically correct.  Only I would choose to open a blurb with such scrap-heap commentary.  The muzak is what matters, and this album is a voltaic blast of Nordic battle metal so righteous, it can win over someone (like a writer I know) who doesn't prize viking-themed media.  Not that Uinous busts your conk with a rosewood quarterstaff of viking clichés, but Havukruunu could easily tour alongside Amon Amarth.  Give it a peep if majestic leads, 80's trad riffs, and gang vocals that you'll remember sound like your cup of mead.

#4) VoidCeremony - Entropic Reflections Continuum

Mournful Congregation mainman Damon Good plays fretless bass on this record.  Being a bit of an MC freak, I knew that I had to dive into what was described as commanding progressive death metal.  Well, did it command?  I have it as my number four pick of the year, so what do you think?  Entropic Reflections (title retrenched to conserve soil and water) has Cynic and latter-era Death written on the slate of its soul.  That's my shit.  Good is superlative on the bass.  I won't pretend to know what "fretless" means (75% of the journalists tabulating similar lists don't know either), but his runs and solos ~ yes, solos ~ are hundred-proof.  The guitars rip, too.

#3) Wytch Hazel - III: Pentecost

A most unexpected manifestation.  To wit, I certainly wasn't expecting a Christian band to sneak their way onto my syllabus (much less in bronze), but here we are.  This is a catchy, rollicking admixture of hard rock and old-fashioned heavy metal.  Comparisons have been made to Boston and Thin Lizzy.  I'm also hearing a twinge of Ghost.  These dudes know how to construct a chorus, and if the weather agreed, I'd be blaring Pentecost while heading out on the highway in my corvette.  Or whatever the hell.  Jesus Christ wants you to crank these tunes, man!

#2) Psychotic Waltz - The God-Shaped Void

Let's revisit my July listicle, shall we?  I marveled at Waltz's dexterity after lying dormant for twenty-four years.  "I would have forgiven them for sounding a tad rusty and out of practice, but they put any fatalistic forecasts to bed with these proggy pyrotechnics."  Then I made a lame joke about alliteration.  Buddy Lackey's voice is as smooth as it ever was, even if he prefers to be called Devon Graves.  I don't really understand the stage name.  This isn't Deadsoul Tribe.  Anyway, you probably have a void in your life in the shape of The God-Shaped Void.  Fill it!

#1) Inexorum - Moonlit Navigation

The fact that this ceramic saucer of melodic black metal still holds the top spot speaks volumes to the quality of the songs contained therein.  In July, I professed that "layers of rainwater chords (there are only so many adjectives to buoy this kind of music) converge to craft tunes that enter one ear and stay there.  Somehow, Moonlit feels simultaneously morose and uplifting.  The hooks hit you like a cool, vernal breeze."  Beautifully said, Dom.  Thanks, Dom.  And you!  Thank you for reading.  If I decide to compile a kindred list in a year's time, I'll invite you again for tea and wings.  We'll mibble and foffle.  Our children will play chess by the fire.  We will push them into the fire.  We will laugh.


Top 10 Metal Albums of 2020 (Part One)

The 1989 eponymous debut by Enuff Z'nuff juuust missed the mark, as it does every year.

What can be said about 2020 that hasn't already been said about burn units, amputee rape, and your crackhead uncle who rents out his wife's corpse for junk money?  Sorry, that might have hit too close to home for some of you.  It goes without saying that these past twelve months have been excellent.  Nothing to complain about on my end.  In all seriousness, there was a surfeit of killer metal records disenthralled and loosed upon the cagey, feverish masses.  We needed good music to keep us company.  Thankfully, a metric fuckton of bands obliged.  If you kept your ears close to the underground, you were sure to find something to suit your tastes.

Capping this list at ten albums was not an easy task.  Right off the bat, I can tell you that Dool's Summerland, Avandra's Skylighting, and Sepultura's Quadra were last-minute ablations, and man, it hurt (like the dickens!) giving them the heave-ho.  Of course, I'll start with honorable mentions.  Aside from the upper reaches of this prospectus, don't pay too much attention to the ranking.  I'll hold your hand.  Don't worry.

HM #1) Abigor - Totschlager: A Saintslayer's Songbook

I simply haven't spent enough time with this thing.  Hell, it's supposedly available, but I can't find the physical product anywhere.  In my limited exposure to the music, I've been able to surmise that Totschlager rates as one of Abigor's most accomplished works.  I wouldn't mind a more defined bottom end in the production.  All of the instruments are played impeccably well, so I want to hear all of them!  Recommended to fans of glowing church rubble.

HM #2) Jordablod - The Cabinet of Numinous Song

The Metal Archives lists this Swedish project as mere "black metal," but the substantive reality is more nuanced than any label can indicate.  There are ashen, subverted Western motifs present.  Please note that I pulled back from using the term "country."  Imagine if the film Bone Tomahawk were an atmoblack composite.  Add punk/hardcore sensibilities and you have the right idea.  A smart, unique record.

HM #3) Sorcerer - Lamenting of the Innocent

Doom in the style of Candlemass and Solitude Aeturnus, speckled with motes of power metal.  That's not quite a complete sentence.  Get used to it.  The selling point here?  Guitars.  Virtuosic, lissome solos that elevate each moment to a mighty tier of metallic concord and propriety.  As with Totschlager, Lamenting would have cracked the top ten had I spent extra quality time with it.

#10) Membaris - Misanthrosophie

The only...I repeat...the only reason this album isn't situated higher on the list (perhaps in the top five) is because I found out about it a lonesome week ago.  A December release, you conjecture?  Actually, it dropped in March.  How in the fuckety-split is this tasty morsel so obscure?  Gang, I have developed an appetite for feisty black metal that incorporates bold melody and liberal injections of lead guitar.  This son of a bitch fits the bill.  The solos on such cuts as "Architektur fern Struktur" and "Constant Companion" are divine (or undivine, as it were).  I don't know why I'm into this specific sound, but I am.  You'll see it represented elsewhere.  It is MY list, after all.

#9) Vrenth - Baptism Death

How about some gruff, clodhopping death metal based out of California?  These guys sound Scandinavian, to be honest.  The riffs are heftier than the plastic sacks that are used to line the insides of waste containers.  And I'm glad!  Count Vrenth among the solo-happy groups, and count me among the braindead headbangers who enjoy singing (if you can call it that) along to the tuneful shredding.  Moreover, I dig the gurgle vocals and the ponderous doom breaks.  Sample "Paroxysm Darkness."

#8) Enslaved - Utgard

It seems that most fans of these Norwegian stalwarts were dismayed by Utgard, which gives me pause.  I mean, is my tr00ness slipping?  Then again, it's not as if Enslaved turned in a cluster of bedroom trap numbers or djent-infused slam ditties.  This is still progressive black metal.  Does it measure up to Vertebrae or even Axioma Ethica Odini?  No, but it's arguably their best material since those watershed long players.  The fact that Utgard is slightly front-loaded doesn't change the other fact that "Sequence" and "Urjotun" are bangers.  I'm gonna make love in this club!

#7) Esoctrilihum - Eternity of Shaog

Remember when I posted my list of the top five metal albums of the year so far?  That was back in July.  It's interesting to recollect and compare notes (albeit with myself).  Here we have the first instance of music reappearing.  Unfortunately for Esoctrilihum, Shaog has dropped a few spots, but in the interest of veracity, I will remind everyone that my ranking system is muddy at best.  An excerpt from my summer inventory: "This is yet another one-man black metal project.  Ringleader Asthaghul hails from France, and I can't believe he plays every damn instrument.  By the way, that includes piano, violin, maybe a harpsichord...I'm hearing a harpsichord.  The production is full-bodied.  Dude has upped his songwriting game to the point where each track has its own flavor."

#6) Caligula's Horse - Rise Radiant

Again, I will dip my pen into chirography I have already printed.  It has been a sweet little while since I jammed these proggy popinjay prancers (???), but they hold strong.  The Aussies came close to rivaling 2017's universally praised In Contact, which is a monumental feat in and of itself.  In July, I said that Radiant is "salaciously technical (my pants just tightened), orgiastically melodic (my breath just quickened) and those tits!  I mean, what?  Caligula's Horse is simply a band whose configuration exhibits a master at each post.  Guitarist Sam Vallen, in particular, has quietly become unequaled in his field."