Wednesday, February 24, 2010
To call the new Burzum record, Belus, the most anticipated Black Metal release ever, would be an understatement. I'm sure most have heard the story a million and one times, but for the uninitiated, Varg Vikernes, who is Burzum, has been in prison since 1994. For burning down churches in Norway, and murdering fellow musician and Mayhem mastermind Oystein Aarseth. I'll skip all of the rhetoric on whether I agree with what he did, and if he was guilty or not, because honestly, he has made some of the best and most atmospheric Black Metal ever created. Varg did make 2 records while in prison, but those were keyboard only, ambient affairs. They were good records in their own right, but fans have been wanting some new Burzum metal, from the time he was locked up. Does Varg deliver the goods on this record? Yes and No....
Immediately(after a 30 second intro), you recognize Varg's distinct picking style, and it sounds like a long lost song from the debut album. That is, until the vocals kick in, gone are the days of the inhuman banshee wail that made him Black Metal's most distinct vocalist. The new vocals, and some of the guitar work made me instantly think of Watain and Deathspell Omega. This is not a bad thing in the least, but it doesn't really sound like Burzum. To be fair, I have only listened to the record 6 times so far, and I have the feeling that it will grow on me with each further listen. I can't really say anything bad at all about it, in fact, the production is great. It has that classic, old school BM sound, kinda muffled, but allowing all the instrument's to be heard distinctly. In a few months, I may be heralding this a classic. Right now, I am just shocked that Varg didn't completely blow my balls out of the water with this release. But, he has been in prison for a long time now, he is in his 40's, and does have children now, these things do mellow people out. But the music is not really mellow, it sounds mostly like his earlier records, Det Som Engang Var and Filosofem. If you are a Burzum fan, I think you will LOVE this record, just don't expect to be blown away, and you may have a better listening experience.
In my previous review, I was discussing my dislike of of SOV films. It's not like I dislike them because they are cheap, and don't have big budgets. It's that most of them that I have seen are so inept that the $375.00 it took to make it seems ridiculous. I know most of my horror brethren worship at the altars of Boardinghouse and The Last Slumber Party, but those are a chore for me to get through. They are actually more in line with the comedy genre than the horror anyway. I will have to say though, that Sledgehammer holds a distinct honor for me. In all my years of watching and obsessing over rare slasher films, I have never had to fast-forward through a film. That is, until I watched Sledgehammer! Man o' man, this movie is an endurance test!
In a plot lifted lifted from several other slashers of the day, a young boy is locked in the closet by his mother, while she gets busy with her lover. The young boy, obviously enraged beyond mental capacity, breaks out and kills the pair with the titular tool. 10 years later, a gaggle of thirty somethings(although I think they are supposed to be teenagers)rent the same house, for a weekend of partying. Then the sledgehammer boy appears(and then disappears) and kills them off one by one. Although the acting is really horrible, that's not what kills Sledgehammer for me. First, the plot holes are ridiculous, the boy, when he commits the crime can't be any older than 7. That would put him at 17 at the time of his rampage.....this killer looks at least 35! Also, the director decides to make the killer, and the sledgehammer, disappear and reappear at will, with no explanation at all. The exterior of the cabin looks like a tiny dwelling on the outside, but in all of the interior shots, it looks cavernous(except for the hallways). He also uses the worst shots and annoying effects throughout it's duration. I should have known I was in trouble, with then opening scene dwells on the exterior of the house, for about 3 minutes, it feels like an eternity. He does slo-mo shots so much it makes my head hurt! I am sure that he was doing this to pad the run time of this enormous turd, but it only detracts from what could have been a cheap, fun slasher. In one scene, a couple who are having some relationship trouble, take a walk through the fields, and the director does slo-mo walking shots, with horrible music for 10 minutes, it's fucking unbearable.
I usually can find something redeeming in any horror film, but I am having trouble doing so with Sledgehammer. I will say that the director made one of the most "what the fuck" horror films that I have ever seen, and that is saying something. But I am a guy that worships The Prey, and I don't find that annoying in the least bit. So when I call Sledgehammer and endurance test, you know it has to be bad! I have heard that this is a rarity among collectors, but I would kick myself, if I would have spent any cash on this "shit pickle". I will have to say that this must have credit for the first SOV horror film. Most claim that Blood Cult was the first, but this predates it by 2 years, so I say this is the victor. Am I correct? If any of you guys know for sure, lemme know.
I think that old age has accustomed me to DTV slashers and horror films. When I was younger, I never really liked SOV films, and now I can tolerate them(I just watched Sledgehammer for the first time last night). In the mid to late 90's, when the deluge of DTV films hitting DVD every week, was at it's peak, I really hated these films. But now, I will just about check out any horror film within reason. Sometimes this helps me find new treasures, but most of the time, it makes me wish that I had the 90 mins I just wasted back! The advent of Netflix helps this out greatly, you can rent these films, and you don't really lose out on much, especially if you watch them on Instant Watch. This brings me to the film at hand, Plague Town. A pretty effective and creepy little horror story that borrows greatly from many other classics(TCM, The Children, and Grotesque), and offers nothing really original, but is a good, creepy time. And there is nothing wrong with that.
The story centers around a a very dysfunctional family taking a vacation to Ireland to try and resolve some of these issues. It seems that Dad is marrying a younger woman, and they are taking the 2 teenish daughters as an introduction the new familial unit. The older daughter Rosemary, picks up a English guy and brings him along, and pays more attention to him, than the family. The younger daughter, Molly, is the typical Winona Ryder-esque, post-goth, teen angst queen, complete with mental problems. After missing their tour bus back, and abandoned in the countryside, the refuse to take refuge with locals that offer, and end up at the mercy of a gang of deformed children in the woods. The acting is the typical bad overacting stuff that you see in this kind of film, with the exception of the stepmother and the goth girl. But none of this really detracts from the film, and it flows well, and doesn't drag about too bad. Also, it was filmed in Connecticut, and does a good job of passing it of as Ireland.
You will know if this one is for you, if you have thick skin for this kind of stuff, then this will be a joy for you. As I said, if are like me, and watch just about every horror movie that is released and usually are disappointed, check out Plague Town, i'm sure you will find something in it.
Monday, February 15, 2010
Most people who know me, know just how passionate I can be about music. I have been known to burn 20 copies of a CD that I am infatuated with, and force them upon friends and family members, in hope that they will see that same thing I do in a band. There have been many of these bands, and I am sure that there be many more. But this time the band in question is Those Darlins. I am so excited about this band because they mix two of my favorite genres: country(of the real variety), and punk! Those Darlins are 3 girls with a guy drummer, and I have only listened to the CD twice, that's why this not a "true" review. But what references I can draw from listening those 2 times are: Loretta Lynn, Nirvana, Patsy Cline, Cheap Trick, The Muffs, and Freakwater. It's one of those records that makes you wanna take down the top, roll down the windows, and drive 90 miles an hour down a country road, all the while, singing these catchy as fuck anthems at the top of your lungs. I can can only urge you guys to download/or go to Youtube/or just go by the damn CD, and support these purdy' young things!
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Chances are, you haven't seen The Boneyard. It is one of the most underrated horror films of the early 90's, and it was the victim of one of the worst advertising campaigns that I have ever seen. Just about every video or DVD release that this film has had, they have plastered the "killer poodle" image on the cover, and said creature appears in the film for about 2 minutes. I would have capitalized on the fact that veteran actors Phyllis Diller and Norman(Three's Company) Fell, appear in the film. All of us video store hounds know how the wrong image on a cover box can doom a film to obscurity, and that is what happened to this film.
The film is about 2 detectives who enlist the help of a psychic to help them solve the murder of 3 children by a mortician. Most of the film happens in a mortuary where the bodies of the children are being stored. The cops and the clairvoyant go to look at the bodies, and find the murdered kids have turned into creepy zombies, bent on destruction. The first half of the film is moody and creepy and the second half develops more into campy horror. The Phyllis Dyller zombie has to be seen to be believed! The aforementioned Zombie Poodle makes a quick appearance, and is really kinda goofy and funny. It's a shame that more horror fiends haven't seen this, and know it for what it really is....a creepy, supernatural, horror film, with some corny laughs.
Friday, February 5, 2010
If like me, you think you know exactly what your getting with a band named Black Vomit, you couldn't be more wrong! Fitting in the small, but ever growing "psychedelic/experimental" Black Metal genre, that still doesn't even begin to explain the music that pours forth from "Jungle Death". This is one hell of a hard record to pin down down, let alone review, so I will make some casual observations. Not much is known about the band, other than they hail from England, and are on the small, but hip, Rusty Axe label. There really are only about 10 minutes worth of Metal music on this hour plus release. I heard bits from many genres: breakbeat/ambient/techno/bedroom BM/jazz/ and post-punk, and it all sort of melanges into one big, scary soundtrack of sorts. There are very little in the way of vocals either, and those are buried deep in the mixes. There are samples of speeches, movie dialogue, and lots of background stuff to fill out the atmosphere. There is one straight up BM song, and one that sounds similar to Xasthur, and one epic song that centers on a drum loop so crazy and catchy that you don't mind that the song is over 13 minutes long. I can only confidently recommend this release to the most open minded of metal listeners. If bands like Aluk Todolo,Varghkoghargasmal,and a Forest Of Stars get you going, you just might be up for this?