Movie Review: SLITHER

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slitherUniversal Pictures
2006
R

“Where is the Mr. Pibb? I told your secretary to pack Mr. Pibb. It’s the only Coke I like.”

Back in 2006, one of the greatest sci-fi horror comedy movies was released. That movie, in case you missed the titled heading, was Slither, the directorial debut of James Gunn, the man who would go on to make an obscure Marvel comic into the best movie of Marvel’s cinematic existence.

So then, one evening outside a small South Carolina town, a meteorite crashes. Inside this meteorite is a sentient extraterrestrial parasite that immediately makes the local used car dealer its new home. Soon, the car dealer starts to mutate, growing tentacles and getting all weird and gross. Basically, second puberty. Then the local pets start disappearing, and a local woman is then infected with hundreds of the parasite offspring. Soon, the entire town is being threatened with these creepy crawly spawn of Cthulhu, and it’s up to the town’s long-suffering Sheriff and a handful of survivors to defeat this intergalactic horror.

Apparently, there was some controversy when Slither was released due to an alleged similarity to the 1986 movie Night Of The Creeps. I haven’t seen that movie yet (it is in my Watch Cue, though, rest assured), so I’m not able to point out any similarities. But, if it’s as much fun as Slither was, I may be moving Night Of The Creeps up the cue.

What makes Slither one of my favorite B-Movie sci-fi horror flicks of the past couple of decades is the snappy script, and the performances from the actors, especially Nathan Fillion and Michael Rooker. Gads, I would watch anything either one of those two are in. Also, legendary voice actor Frank Welker handled the alien slug sounds. The effects are great, and you can tell that Gunn spent some time in the Troma camp of movie making, with the whole tongue-in-cheek humor mixed in with the horror. Say what you will, but I consider Slither to be one of the best not-really-guilty pleasure B-Movies out there. Check this one out some time.

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Movie Review: WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS

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what we do in the shadowsParamount Pictures
2014
R

“Yeah, some of our clothes are from victims. You might bite someone and then, you think, ooooh, those are some nice pants.”

So, there I was, in the hospital due to my knees getting rather messed up. I had my laptop there, and was contemplating taking in a streaming movie to help assuage my growing boredom in just sitting there healing up. I was perusing the Horror section on my Amazon account, and notice one of the titles available was, in fact, What We Do In The Shadows. Remembering friends aggressively recommending I watch this movie for a rather long time, I decided to finally give it a go. I mean, it was made by one of the Flight Of The Concords guys. And I’ve been hearing pretty good things about this mocumentary style comedy horror thing.

Keep in mind, there’s a difference between a mocumentary and a found footage movie. What We Do In The Shadows falls in the former category, and belongs in the kind of quality mocumentary comedies as This Is Spinal Tap and Anvil: The Story Of Anvil.

What’s that? Anvil: The Story Of Anvil wasn’t a mocumentary, but an actual documentary on the band? That’s depressing. Okay, so how about Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping? Okay, we’re good then. Moving along…

So, What We Do In The Shadows follows the unlives of four vampire roommates sharing an old Victorian house, and opening up about their daily goings abouts and various other things that none of the normals of society know about. They’re all getting ready for the upcoming annual masquerade ball, a kind of gathering of supernatural and undead persons and creatures. Over the days, they try and debunk various myths and exaggerations about the vampire lifestyle, something that’s thrown a bit askew when the oldest of the four–a Nosferatu style elderly vampire that dwells in the basement inside a stone crypt most of the time–turns a Millennial, who turns out to be a brat that would make Lestat want to smack him for being so brazen.They also make friends with a human, who helps teach them to understand and embrace the 21st Century and its technology for their benefit; and get into some altercations with the local werewolf pack. Wackiness doth ensue, my children of the night.

What We Do In The Shadows is a fantastic movie. It not just settles as a comedy, content on merely playing around with several vampire tropes and cliche’s, but due to some very good writing, turned out to be more than that. There’s a very tangible sense of pathos and loneliness that the main vampire characters exude, along with their annoyance at the youngest baby bats to infiltrate the group. Even if you’re not a fan of the Vampire genre, I highly recommend acquiring this movie and watching it.

From The FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS Files…

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boston market closedSo, late Saturday afternoon, I was given a bit of a shock to the system. I was coming from my normal Lunch + Writing session, which took me to about 4pm or so, as a couple of friends showed up and hung out for a bit. I decided to pick up some din-din at the Boston Market that was on 114th, just north of Dodge street in Omaha. It hadn’t been all that long since I indulged in a half rotisserie, with some mac n’ cheese and sweet corn on the side. Don’t forget the corn bread. The ambrosia that is their corn bread.

As you can imagine, I was really getting myself excited about this on the drive there. But, alas, when I arrived at the destination, the Boston Market was closed. Not just a CLOSED sign, but a big lettered sign that stated that, as of 1:00pm of whatever day they closed shop, they were no longer in business. Not moving to a different location. CLOSED. Forever. The big sign on the pole out front, the big Boston Market signs on the sides of the roof removed, leaving only the discoloring on the paneling as a reminder of what it once was. Even the drive-thru stand was removed.

The only Boston Market in Omaha is now gone. Like my innocence.

I’ve only just discovered the goodness that was the Boston Market about a year and a few months ago, around October of 2016. My main thing to get was the half rotisserie, with two sides, usually the mac n’ cheese and the sweet corn. Once I got the rice in place of the corn. But, that doesn’t matter now, does it?

I do not know what may have caused this location to close. It was maybe a month or so ago since I had my last meal from there. Always drive-thru, taken to my dwelling place to enjoy. Always on a Friday. Never every week, just sometimes, when the craving hits. Now, I don’t have the foggiest where I’m going to get my rotisserie┬áchicken fix. This was one-of-a-kind goodness that I may never get the chance to experience again.

Farewell, sweet purveyor of roasted chicken. Ye shall be missed, verily.

::END TRANSMISSION::

Movie Review: STARMAN

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starmanColumbia Pictures Corporation
1984
PG

“I watched you very carefully. Red light stop, green light go, yellow light go very fast.”

My first exposure to the films of John Carpenter was by way of the 1984 science fiction movie Starman. I watched it one Saturday afternoon while still a guest at the psychiatric ward during the summer of 1986. And would you believe it was on the CED format? How obscure is that? Also, I don’t recommend that video playback to watch movies on. If you want a good retro video disc system, stick with LaserDisc. But, I digress.

While mostly known for his horror and science fiction flicks that lean towards horror, Starman was a bit of a departure from his standard fare, in that the alien in question is not trying to destroy humans. In fact, you might say that Starman is a sci-fi romance. And this was my first taste of John Carpenter. Talk about easing into things.

So then, after intercepting the Voyager 2 space probe, aliens decide to take us up on our offer of visiting Earth, due to the invitation that was contained on that gold record we put inside the probe. But, instead of a warm, peaceful greeting, the scout ship sent is shot down by the U. S. Military, causing it to crash land in Wisconsin on a farm of a recently widowed woman. The alien entity–mainly a floating orb of light–decides it’s a great idea to clone himself a body to look like said widow’s dead husband. The widow disagrees, and while the alien just wants to get to the rendezvous point where his mothership is set to pick him up, she’s understandably upset and doesn’t want to give him a lift. Also, the rendezvous point is at the Marringer Crater in Arizona, so that’s kind of a factor there, too. She warms up a bit after he explains that, if he doesn’t make it to the location in three days, he will die (and also after resurrecting a dead deer, all the feels there). So, it’s road trip time! With the authorities in hot pursuit, will they be able to make it to the crater in time to get the alien doppelganger aboard and homeward bound in time? And will there be enough of an opening to allow at least a short-lived television series based on the movie?

Back when I first watched Starman, I found myself a bit bored at times, with my attention span wandering and not paying very close attention. I was also 12 years old at the time. Watching it now, Starman is a rather decent movie for what it is, which is a science fiction romance / road trip adventure that has some good performances from Jeff Bridges and Karen Allen as the leads.

Overall, I have to admit that Starman remains a bit of an odd entry in John Carpenter’s filmography. I don’t know if there was an attempt to tap into the more family friendly alien thing that ET popularized a couple of years prior. Regardless, Starman is a decent sci-fi flick; it does drag a bit at times, and the ending is a bit more heartwarming than I care for. But, for a weekend afternoon flick, it’s perfect for a rental.

Music Review: RACKETS & DRAPES – Candyland

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rackets and drapes - candylandRACKETS & DRAPES
Candyland
Independent
1998

It’s amazing how, all these years now, and I have yet to publish my official review of one of the albums that was kind of a paradigm shift for me back in the day. You would think that would have been one of my first reviews of Rackets & Drapes’ discography. But, for whatever reason that eludes all logic in me, I have held off, put off, and subsequently never gotten around to doing a proper review of their very first full-length release, Candyland.Well, since this year–2018–marks the 20th anniversary since the release of Candyland, I figure better late than never.

Released independently at first, but then re-released through MCM Music after being signed to that label, Candyland was a rather ambitious and curious release at the time. The entire pop culture world was still reeling from the sudden rise of darker, scarier music from the likes of Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson and the new wave of Goth children. While the Christian music scenes did feature a thriving industrial and Goth rock underground of sorts, there had yet to be a genuine shock rock band to shake things up. Well, outside of Alice Cooper, who just had come out of the confessional closet as a Christian a few years earlier. Enter Colorado band Rackets & Drapes, and the release of Candyland.

While the band described themselves as “shock rock”, the music on Candyland is a dark and thick blend of industrial, punk, death rock and Gothic theatrics, with songs that tackle taboo and controversial topics with unblinking glee that makes normal Shiny Happy Christians (TM) a bit squeamish: abortion, child and domestic abuse, homelessness, child abducitons…yeah, these guys made it clear that they were scary for a purpose. And for me, this was a God-send, as I was exploring the darker expressions of my faith, through the Goth / industrial / black metal subcultures. I embraced Candyland with gusto, and it quickly became one of my soundtracks to my faith.

20 years later, and I still revisit Candyland frequently. It’s still has a raw punk aestetic, and the songs still pack a punch. One thing I never understood was why Rackets & Drapes were immediately slagged with the “Marilyn Manson rip-off” tag; even now I still come across it, which clearly indicates that no one really bothered to listen to the album. Regardless, I still hold the band and Candyland in general in high regard. If you can find a copy, pick it up and give it a listen, or twelve.

Movie Review: MAYHEM

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mayhemRLJE Films
2017
NR

Mayhem is the latest movie directed by one Joe Lynch, the guy behind Knights Of Badassdom, one of my favorite genre comedies going, I’m also told his directorial debut Wrong Turn 2 was pretty good as well, but I have yet to watch that series.

Mayhem is something like a mix of The Belko Experiment, 28 Days Later, and The Purge. This is the tale of a corporate suit who is having a rather bad day: He discovers he’s being framed for a bad deal, he’s been fired, his coffee mug has been stolen…oh, and the entire building has been put into lockdown due to everyone inside being infected by a virus that effectively blocks all inhibitions and makes the infected not able to control their emotional urges. It’s like the worst part of puberty, only amplified by a factor of 100. There’s also a loophole where those infected couldn’t be prosecuted for the violence they did due to not being able to control themselves. So, the corporate suit decides to use this opportunity to make his way upstairs to air his grievances to the Top Brass of the company–along with his client, a hammer and a nail gun. Bloody ultra-violence ensues.

Mayhem is basically your standard ultra-violent survival horror with a thick veneer of satire that works maybe 65-to-70% of the time. As a means of being a commentary on the soulless evil corporations, it’s pretty heavy handed. But, at least it’s somewhat entertaining, as the caricatures are rather over-the-top and exaggerated. Or, at least I can presume, as I’ve never really been ensconced in that kind of situation before. The two main characters are interesting enough; I especially glommed on Samara Weaving, as I recognized her as Bee from the way-better-than-it-has-any-right-to-be flick The Babysitter, and here she plays a take-no-crap-from-anyone homeowner trying to get help to keep her house, who also happens to be a Metalhead. It’s about time we got some positive female representation in movies. One of the best interchanges between her and the other main guy–played by Steven Yeun from The Walking Dead, apparently…I really don’t watch the show, so I didn’t realize until I looked things up on IMDB–have a brief discussion about music tastes. Anyway, the editing is of the fast-paced kinetic style, which is befitting a survival horror comedy such as this.

Overall, I enjoyed Mayhem for what it is. I’m not generally a fan of the over-the-top violent movies like this, and if something like that makes you squeamish, I would definitely steer clear of this. For fans of movies like this, though, it’s not a bad rental to kill some time.

Music Review: DARKNESS BEFORE DAWN – Kings To You

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darkness before dawn - kings to youDARKNESS BEFORE DAWN
Kings To You
Bombworks Records
2009

Darkness Before Dawn was a death metal band that existed between 2004 and apparently only split up in 2017. Which is interesting, as I seem to recall them being listed as “split-up” on the Metal Archives site years previous. Maybe I’m remembering wrong. Either way, they only managed to release an EP and this full-length, Kings To You. Obviously, I’ll be reviewing the full-length release. They don’t call me Captain Obvious for nothing. Actually, no one calls me that. *sigh* Anyway…

Kings To You was released in 2009 on the Bombworks Records label. If you would grasp for a good catch-all subgenre label for the band’s sound, you could go with your standard Death metal, but it’s not quite adept a descriptor. I would say that the music on Kings To You leans more toward melodic death metal with some roots in the deathcore style, utilizing both atmospheric keyboards while throwing in a heavy breakdown here and there. The songs vary between mid-paced and furiously heavy, showcasing some very heavy riffs and technical rhythms that will churn your insides while chilling your soul with the keyboards darkening the textures up, with something of a Folk Metal style on “Material Existence”.

Overall, Kings To You is a good, solid collection of melodic death metal hybrid that, for some reason I can’t really put my finger on, comes close to pushing over the edge, but not quite. It is, however, a satisfying bit of death metal brutality that does the trick in a pinch.

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