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Showing posts from January, 2008

Tearing your soul apart: Hellraiser (1987) review

Frank Cotton is a mysterious man who buys a mysterious box from an equally mysterious Asian hawker. What is even more mysterious is that the Asian hawker is peddling in Morocco. Puzzled by the mysteries of the demographic irregularities, but seemingly undeterred by the mysteries of the mysterious box, Frank opens it with the aid of garden variety sputtering candles and late night deja-voodoo. A breed of hell-spawn demons called cenobites appear. They offer boundless sensual experience to Frank. Without even buying him a drink. Frank is not so mysteriously drawn to sadomasochism. Given the option of having a breed of demons torture his body and soul, or joining the Church of Scientology, a "dangerous cult", Frank wisely chooses to try his luck with the demons instead.

Visit Operation Clambake!
Frank likes a little S&M kink amongst consenting adults, but he realises true exploitation when he sees it. After meeting the cenobites, Frank mysteriously disappears from his ho…

How Not To Use Subliminal Programming

World war era despots. Banana republic dictators. Aggressive advertising campaigns. All these have one thing in common - propaganda. Propaganda was used as clear as daylight during the World Wars, but lately things have taken a dark turn. I am referring to subliminal programming.

For the past month or so, you have been treated to various amazing reviews. You know they are amazing, because I am doing the Jedi mind trick with you, while giving you the suggestion that they are amazing. You believe they are amazing, because your will power is no match for my will power. I have used all my manna to procure the will power of infinity. Under different circumstances, I would give the suggestion that your eyelids are growing weary, that your eyelids are growing heavy, and you need to close them. But then you would not be able to read my blog, so under these circumstances, I present to you an overview of my fairly prolific blog posts during the past few months.

If you see anything extraordinary…

W.A.S.P - The Crimson Idol (1992) review

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You might argue that W.A.S.P is in fact hair metal, or at best shock rock. I maintain there's a world of a difference between the lawlessness of W.A.S.P and the sugary radio friendly ballads of Poison that make Bon Jovi seem loud. It's all relative. When the likes of Mötley "umlaut" Crüe, W.A.S.P and Venom came around, they were doing something outrageous for their time. When Poison came along, they were cashing in on the popularity of the Crüe, minus the risk of arson to their hotel. W.A.S.P is pure heavy metal, Poison is good business sense.

The Crimson Idol was originally conceived as a Blackie Lawless solo album. The reasons were that Blackie had been the only remaining member left in the band by the time the nineties came around, with the rest succumbed to drugs, rehab or foul, tempting wenches. One of these succubi is Chris Holmes, as you can plainly see:

Corporate pressures ensured that…

Necrophagist - Epitaph (2004) review

Since the days Ritchie Blackmore played classically inspired leads for Deep Purple, a neo-classical movement has erupted in popular music. Yngwie Malmsteen became synonymous with the movement thanks to his high level of technical virtuosity, particularly his sweep arpeggios. Since then, the cheese has been cut back considerably but the sweep picking technique remains a trusted item in the metal guitarist bag of tricks.

Necrophagist released their debut, Onset of Putrefaction, in 1999. Suiçmez played and recorded most of the instruments on the album and left the drum duties to Steve Jobs. The sound on the album is lacking, and of course for this kind of music having a machine do any work is a disgrace. The album has recently been re-recorded by Suiçmez, who was never pleased with its sound. Despite this, the album caught on well with fans of brutally technical music.

Following the relative success of Onset of Putrefaction, Suiçmez assembled a band of session musicians and toured …

Unpleasant dreams, darling Vampira (1921 - 2008)

It is simply impossible to foster a love for B-Grades without developing a crush on Vampira at some point. Vampira (Maila Nurmi) was a Finnish-born actress who is best known for presenting The Vampira Show. She passed away on 10 January 2008, aged 86. I learned of the sad news from the Vault of Horror. Excellent blog, read it sometime.

The Vampira Show
Maila constructed the character Vampira from various sources, including the evil queen from Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, several silent era actresses and Morticia Addams from the Addams Family. During the show, Vampira would drape herself over a double ended Victorian sofa, with skulls and a pet spider, Rolo, her only company. Skulls and sofa would bask in her aura while she presented a film for the night. The film would be suitable entertainment for the off screen ghosts, and similarly suitable to torment her advertisers. Sounds like a dream date!

Plan 9 from Outer Space
Directed by Ed Wood, he of the dubious title "worst director…

The Shining (1980) review

Writer Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) decides to moonlight as the caretaker of the Overlook Hotel. Despite concerns for cabin fever, he takes his family to the desolate hotel, which gets snowed in during winter. His son, Danny (Danny Lloyd), often talks to an imaginary friend. Instead of giving Danny valuable information like the lottery numbers, this imaginary friend reveals extra sensory information about family trips to Danny on a daily basis. He warns Danny against visiting the hotel. Danny tells his mom (Shelley Duval) that he doesn't wish to visit the Overlook Hotel, but he gets dragged there anyway, imaginary friend and all.

Once at the hotel, one of the staff offers to look after Danny while his parents are shown around. Dick Hallorann (Scatman Cothers) gives Danny some ice cream and reveals that he knows Danny is psychic. Being telepathic is a condition Dick's grandmother described as 'the shining'. Most people would shrug it off as an ice cream headache, b…

The 10 Commandments of Horror (part 2)

At last, the merciful completion of the final five commandments of horror. If you missed out on the most excellent first instalment, you can find it here. Here follows the remaining five, with an extra one because I know you have been losing sleep over this:

5. Thou shalt have as thine protagonist a female, untainted and nubile

There are perfectly valid academic reasons for having a female in the role of thine protagonist. Of course, being untainted is not a requirement for sequels. Nay, the protagonist is to be deflowered in the first instalment to enable the franchise to bloom. If she is not deflowered, she is to be beheaded, but giveth head one way or another she shalt! Although you should definitely make her nubile in the sequels. You don't want continuity errors.

4. Thou shalt have a twist at the end

And let it be filled with surprise. The original Friday the 13th had this right, at least. You could get away without a plot, if you provide a sufficiently macabre twist at the end…

The 10 Commandments of Horror

What makes a good horror film?

A difficult question. Many a man has lain awoke at night, pondering such a question. Many a woman has burnt her bush in agony. Many a man has lain awoke at night, after being burnt by the bush of a woman in agony over such a question. Some women too, but those aren't the kind of films under scrutiny here. Thankfully, He who walks behind the rows has given us His commandments. Stick to these, up and coming producers of gore filled horror, and thou coffers shalt be full, and thine jacuzzi frequented by buxom beauties.

10. Thou shalt have buckets of blood

And why not? It is a horror film. Most people find bleeding horrific. Horror films should not only exploit that feeling, but also reinforce the idea that bleeding is horrific. People should think before they make other people bleed and before they make themselves bleed. It is similar to cathedrals showing images of hell on the interior. If horror films had enough buckets of blood, no amount of listening …

Vital Remains : Icons of Evil (2007) review

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Glen Benton, Tony Lazaro, Dave Suzuki.

Track listing

Where is Your God Now
Icons of Evil
Born to Rape the World
Reborn... the Upheaval of Nihility
Hammer Down the Nails
Shrapnel Embedded Flesh
Til Death
In Infamy
Disciples of Hell" (Yngwie Malmsteen Cover)

Certain infidels who were unimpressed by latter Deicide efforts maintain Glen Benton should stick with Dave Suzuki in Vital Remains instead of continuing with his own band. That, or he should have fulfilled his self-destructive prophesy and committed Glenoncide at age 33. While Glen seems like a jovial fellow, crucifix burnt on his forehead and drunken delinquencies besides (or maybe because), the guy is not the sharpest splinter on a vampire stake. However, with the last Deicide effort, the shunned Son of Satan himself rose considerably in my estimation. This Vital Remains album further redeems Benton.

The previous Vital Remains album, Dechristianize, started with a Carmina Burana

Shock (1953) review

Alfred L. Werker

Frank Latimore
Lynn Bari
Vincent Price
Anabel Shaw
Charles Trowbridge

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Janet Stewart (Anabel Shaw) lapses into a state of Shock after witnessing a murder. Her concerned boyfriend finds her unable to speak, unable to cook and unable to clean. The unable to speak part soon loses its novelty and he becomes perturbed because she is unable to cook or clean. Instead of becoming sexually liberated, he decides to seek help in the form of Dr Cross (Vincent Price), a specialist on afflictions of the mind, among them Shock. It turns out Janet witnessed a murder and the gruesome details of the horrendous crime left her in a state of Shock. Dr Cross offers to help Janet in his private asylum, but all is not ponies and rainbows, nay nay. As Janet comes to her senses, slowly regaining her ability to perform minor domestic tasks, she recognises Dr Cross as the perpetrator. More Shock!

Vincent Price is the undisputed kin…

Fidelity on High: Say goodbye to dynamic range on CD

"The recording industry has decided that since you like a bit of salt, they're going to screw off the cap and tip the entire fucking cruet on your meal." - The Ladyfingers Blog

Format wars
Hi fidelity sound. There are few things more glorious than relishing the full sized cover of vinyl, seeing the heart of the record player fed by the veins of the groove and being soaked in the full dynamic range of a high quality recording.

My father is a fan of classical music. He used to buy Herbert von Karajan conducted Beethoven excursions on vinyl, then transfer it to cassette deck for his car and personal use. We did not have a grand hi-fi setup, but it was sufficient to enjoy good music. My father was not alone, it was the norm to record your vinyl onto cassette deck. Even so, it would be ludicrous to suggest vinyl should be produced to cater for cassette quality sound. Most blindfold tests find that the sound of vinyl is superior to that of a CD, with cassettes wiped under the ca…

Ripper, letter from hell (2001) review

John Eyres

Kelly Brook
A.J. Cook
Daniella Evangelista
Bruce Payne
Emmanuelle Vaugier

Molly Keller (A.J. Cook) survived a serial killer incident which cost her her parents and nearly all of their insurance money to replace boats. She is now a student of forensic psychology under a famous author in the field. Surprisingly, her ordeal of a few years ago is not over. A Jack the Ripper fan starts hacking teens in her class. In her class of mostly foreign exchange students, the tension runs almost as high as their suspicions of each other in their quest to find the killer.

I feel sorry for Molly Keller. She has stereotypical teenage angst, she gets all the cheesy lines and she has to pretend she is hardcore. I would say the dialogue is the single worst feature of this film.

Another weird aspect is the police officer working on the case. Yes, you read right. There is a serial killer running amok, but the authorities assigned only one police officer to the case. He has to corner…