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GRIM HORROR



What's up in the world of obscure film and music: forcing you to like it since 1966!



Updated: 2017-01-09T11:05:07.562-05:00

 



Angry Samoans: I was Todd Homer!

2009-09-12T04:38:22.732-04:00

I knew Metal Mike was in the house when I entered the trendy emo/alternative/punk Middle East Upstairs and the PA was blasting "Oops I Did it Again" by Ms. Britney Spears. Time to Fuck indeed. The Angry Samoans landed in Cambridge on 9/11, but it wasn't a disaster. It was incredible; deranged and damaged, but incredible. The band took the stage promptly at 12:00: Billy Vockeroth grabbed the mike and urged audience members to come up on stage and tell bad jokes; this was done to kill time while a distressed and obviously obsessive compulsive Metal Mike Saunders checked every microphone, every instrument, every drum piece, every monitor, every patch cord, as if he were doing sound for Yes in The Round 1978. Wearing an oversized Oakland A's shirt and ballcap, tattered cutoff jeans and battered Keds, MM finally took the mike as Billy got behind the drumkit. The other guitarist was some old punk veteran who looked like Ted Falconi of Flipper (but wasn't), and the bassist was a mohawked mid-30's looking grizzled dude. No chicks in the band tonight. The final touch to Metal Mike's sartorial splendor was the fact that instead of wearing earplugs, the loon pasted a swatch of duct tape over his left ear! The band (Metal Mike sans guitar) launched into "Electrocute Your Cock" and the large crowd went wild; many aging punkers mouthed the words and a respectable slam pit began. I'm right in front. Next up is "Right Side of My Mind", Mike wielding an ancient Telecaster that isn't even plugged into an amp; I guess he went direct to the PA but you can hardly hear him even though he's showing off some heroic Townshend moves. "Gimme Sopor" and "Gas Chamber" fly on by, and the other guitarist is doing the Gregg Turner vox while Billy fills in impressively as Todd Homer from behind the kit. Next up is the volley of "Little Black Egg", "BBC", "I'm in love with your Mom", "Hot Cars", "Todd Killings", and "Time to Fuck".Now Metal Mike wants to play drums! Billy comes out as the frontman as they do a bizarre set that begins with a snazzy Las Vegas type number called "Tequila/Knowledge", Billy crooning along while a Zappa-like "Dance Contest" is held onstage between a very fat goth girl and a tall skinny emo punk; Billy gives the girl five bucks and the band launches into "You Stupid Asshole", "I'm a Pig", and the Subhumans' "Slave to My Dick". Billy is intense as a frontman; with his bald head he looks like an octogenarean Ian MacKaye spewing out "3-4 You're just a fucking whore!". Metal Mike the drummer can best be described as Idiot Savant or dare I say Autistic: he totally keeps the beat, locked into his own zone, occasionally pausing for a stick twirl or a Stray Cats strut standup pose. What a freak!!Back to the regular format, the Sams plough through their catalogue, Mike haphazardly picking up the guitar to play, sometimes in the middle of a song. Funny thing is, he keeps putting it in and out of its case which is onstage (more neuroses probably). He also strips off his A's shirt to reveal an incredible T-shirt of Ozzy Osbourne backstage around 1975, cradling a guitar (unheard of Sabbath photo); above the photo is the Angry Samoans logo from "Inside My Brain". Back to the setlist:"Steak Knife", "Lights Out", "You Stupid Jerk", Homo-Sexual", "Carson Girls", "Inside My Brain", "Baby One More Time " (intro)/"Time Has Come Today", and "Hazeman's Brain is Calling". Then comes my moment in Angry Samoans history, as MM asks for both a male and female volunteer to sing "The Ballad of Jerry Curlan"; I'm onstage in a flash without thinking, gripping the mike like a lifeline. I may have flubbed a few parts in the mellow section but Billy was backing us up just in case; the swearing parts I howled on the floor (a la Turner's liner notes), as Metal Mike ground out the chords on his guitar above me. My moment in punk history is now sealed (second only to dueting with Hank Rollins on "Police Story" in a biker bar in Worcester, MA in 1984).Finally, "They Saved Hitler's Cock", "Not of this Earth", "Permanent Damage", "Pictures of Matchstick Men", "Psy[...]



Film Review: Drag Me To Hell

2009-06-23T02:11:42.616-04:00

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Good ol' Sam has stuck to his guns and stayed with the EC Comics/Pulp Horror Fanzine template that made Evil Dead 1 & 2 so great and everybody's in an uproar. OF COURSE "Drag Me to Hell" is awesome. Now I know people who know people who know Sam VERY WELL (as in editor Bob Murawsky, dog) and no way was he going to fuck up a little horror flick, because he's no doubt the same dude who made the Super-8s with Tapert, Ivan, Ted, and Bruce Campbell back in the 70s in Detroit with his dad's beat up Delta 88. Only now he's got some CG action going (but not TOO much). No doubt those jaded by all the brutal horror stuff out there are screaming about how something that's PG-13 (and it's a STRONG PG-13) with no blood and guts can't be scary and disturbing. Well, kids (and they are kids), this movie's not for you. It doesn't "push the limits" or "make a statement" in the postmodern sense of the nu-horror. What it does is deal with HELL (as in HADES) as a real frickin' fiery possibility, and if that's not heavy in the Miltonian sense of the old-horror, then what is?

DMTH reminded me of an extra long episode from George A. Romero's "Creepshow", a nasty morality play where bad choices lead to bad situations lead to...well...eternal damnation. Our heroine is a basic faceless do-gooder who gets trapped in a no-win deal that she'll never get out of. The "hero" is non-existent, as Jason Long's eternally suffering boyfriend actually ends up the one who actually "drags" her into the abyss at the end (I won't tell you how, and it's not really his fault; what Sam's dealing with here is fate with a capital F). They even throw in a cool mystic/fakir right out of a carnival (another EC Comics device), who tries in vain to aid the damsel in distress. Add a deranged seance (with shades of Ellen Sandweiss in "Evil Dead 1") that includes a talking goat, a pet sacrifice (complete with Raimi-esqe dry humor), and a Ten Commandments level grave resurrection and you've got a powerhouse of a little movie. And the ending? Awesome.

So go, make fun, say Sam Raimi made a "little" horror movie that people shouldn't care about. I say this is a heavy movie, man. There's theology, philosophy, grand drama of Dostoevskyan dimensions. Crime and Punishment, War and Peace, What goes around comes Around....



Film Review: Martyrs

2009-06-10T21:29:18.573-04:00

"Martyrs" is the latest uber-horror-gore film from France, which means it MUST be awesome, no? The critics are drooling and twittering over this, so I had to check it out; for a first at Grim Horror, I had a viewing partner in crime, Dave Depraved of Grindhouse Releasing. We soaked up every drop on Dave's dad's 8000 inch hi-def screen and it wasn't pretty.

It starts out ok, where we see (in that typically modern torture porn hazy color-saturated quick jump pov flashback style) that some little French girl has been unimaginably tortured (but not sexually, as if that makes it all the more incomprehensible and hideous) in some Eli Roth inspired factory of dripping horror. She escapes, and becomes bff with another girl at the orphanage, and we are given the prerequisite flashbacks and whatnot. Cut to 15 years later and a seemingly normal family is having breakfast in the French countryside. Enter the abused girl, grown up all Rambo style, and she blows away Ma, Pa, and the two kids with a shotgun in nouveau horror broootal fashion. Apparently the farmers were the original torturers. But all is not as it seems of course. Her friend comes to the house for the cleanup and they are beset upon by some ambiguous attic-dwelling creature out of my beloved horror hack Richard Laymon's "The Cellar". The cinematography is all dark and whatnot like most horror movies these days and we're not sure if the mutant beast is in her mind or is another torture victim in the house, but it doesn't really matter; things eventually come to a point where the original torture girl kills herself (we don't really know why, but this is France, right?) and the friend becomes a pawn in the game of the evil torture freaks. This is where I completely lost touch with all seriousness as Dave and I turned the movie into an episode of Mystery Science Theatre 3000 meets Philosophy 101

It seems this farmhouse is like torture central, a veritable museum of torture, with underground deprivation chambers, goth-inspired torture wear, and ersatz Einsatzgruppen shock troopers. Then there's "Mademoisselle", who looks like Pink Floyd The Wall's Mother as channelled by Devine, who spouts off Clive Barkeresque ponderisms about the importance of pleasure and pain, and transcendence through suffering. The screenwriters have obviously read the Cliff Notes for Nietzsche and seen lots of Marilyn Manson videos so they know what they're talking about. The final third of the movie is the girl friend ascending to martyrdom through ultimate suffering, until she finally reveals the secret of the universe. It's very brutal, very philosophical, very bloody, very French, and very boring. THESE FILMMAKERS HAVE SOMETHING IMPORTANT TO SAY!!

I liked "Inside" alot, and I even liked "Haute Tension" (despite the "twist" ending). They were intense movies like a roller coaster of doom; no message to impart to the viewer, just sheer horror on a very small scale. "Martyrs" brings in a whole subcultutre of pretentious decadence that just falls flat. Everybody's jaded, and the clique we see at the end of this movie is the same as the Italians in "Salo" and the businessmen in "Hostel". Totally empty. oo)))



1980: The Greatest Year Ever?

2009-04-03T22:08:35.152-04:00

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40 of the best from 1980. We just don't see this level of quality in 2009, do we?

Add in the number of awesome horror flicks of 1980, and it just might be the best year ever!


Metal:
Iron Maiden: "Iron Maiden"
Black Sabbath: "Heaven and Hell"
Ozzy Osbourne: "Blizzard of Ozz"
Motorhead: "Ace of Spades"
AC/DC: "Back in Black"
Judas Priest: "British Steel"
Van Halen: "Women & Children First"
Rush: "Permanent Waves"
Blue Oyster Cult: "Cultosaurus Erectus"
Diamond Head: "Lightning to the Nations"
Saxon: "Wheels of Steel"
Thin Lizzy: "Chinatown"
Accept: "I'm a Rebel"
Scorpions: "Animal Magnetism"
Ted Nugent: "Scream Dream"
UFO: "No Place to Run"
Hawkwind: "Levitation"


Punk:
Black Flag: "Jealous Again"
Dead Kennedys: "Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables"
Misfits: "Beware"
Minutemen: "Paranoid Time"
Discharge: "Realities of War"
The Clash: "Sandinista!"
The Damned: "The Black Album"
The Jam: "Sound Affects"
Ramones: "End of the Century"
Angry Samoans: "Inside My Brain"
Circle Jerks: "Group Sex"
DOA: "Something Better Change"
X: "Los Angeles"


Other:
Joy Division: "Closer"
Devo: "Freedom of Choice"
U2: "Boy"
Talking Heads: "Remain in Light"
Elvis Costello: "Get Happy!!"
Pete Townshend: "Empty Glass"
Bruce Springsteen: "The River"
Throbbing Gristle: "Heathen Earth"
David Bowie: "Scary Monsters"
John Lennon: "Double Fantasy"



Fulci Lives! Torben Rules!

2009-03-31T18:08:41.389-04:00

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Bob, Sage, and Dave over at the mighty Grindhouse Releasing have unveiled another masterpiece in the 2 disc set of Lucio Fulci's lost classic "Cat in the Brain", out today. In Fulci's "8 1/2" he plays himself, plagued by his own movies. This self reflective film becomes even more insane when one realises that the maestro cannibalises (ahem) scenes not only from his own pictures ("Touch of Death" and "Ghosts of Sodom"), but also from others, such as Andrea Bianchi's "Massacre" (which Fulci worked on). Total gore for the hounds in this giallo. Grindhouse does it up right (as usual) with incredible restoration, amazing unseen interviews with Fulci, and footage of his 1996 Fangoria appearance just before his death. Liner notes are by daughter Antonella Fulci, author David J Schow, and Eli Roth. Pick it up or die!


Also out today, and even more obscure, is quite possibly the sleaziest piece of Eurotrash of all time, Denmark's "The Sinful Dwarf" (1974). A crazed (and obviously sinful) dwarf, played by former kiddie-show host Torben Bille, lives with his drunken, Carmen Miranda-obsessed mother in a boarding house. They keep young teenage sex slaves in their attic, get them addicted to heroin, and invite businessmen to pay money to taste their wares. They also deal smack on the side. The sexual depravity has to be seen to be believed. Back when Dave Depraved and I were brainstorming ideas for our "horror doom" band Blood Farmers, the grainy VHS copy of this was always visible in the haze of pot smoke. Fellow Doom brothers OGRE even used an iconic image of Torben on the cd of their album "Dawn of the Protoman". Thank you Severin Films for unearthing this lost masterpiece of sleaze!



Film Review: Twilight

2009-03-27T23:40:58.035-04:00

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Slap me, punch me, beat me, strangle me with clothesline, garrote me with rusty barbed wire, impale me on the inverted cross of death, disembowel me with a garden trowel, shoot me in the face with a double barrelled shotgun, crucify me upside down, bury me alive, stone me, cut off my eyelids with razorblades, carve "war" on my stomach with a kitchen knife, put my head on the axeman's chopping block, slap electrodes on my balls, cut out my tongue, pour Drano down my throat, castrate me during fellatio, decapitate me with a chainsaw, feed me to sharks, insert a burning red poker into my rectum till it comes out my mouth, cannibalise me, pull out my fingernails with a pair of pliars, dump me in a vat of acid, shove a quarter stick of dynamite down my throat and light it, bust my kneecaps with baseball bats, drown me in a bathtub, slash my throat with a straight edge razor, set my hair on fire, feed me to a pack of rabid dogs, pour gasoline on me and light a match, bash my brains in with a brick, ALL BECAUSE:

I LIKED "TWILIGHT" (even though my buddy Will Broadbent called it "High School Musical for Goths").

Then again, I liked "High School Musical" too...

Comment away:



Film Review: Combat Shock

2009-03-18T21:43:21.517-04:00

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The greatest Vietnam war movie filmed completely in Staten Island, Buddy Giovinazzi's "Combat Shock" is also one of the bleakest, scuzziest movies ever made. Shot for $40,000 in 1984, the film is basically a visual reenactment of the harrowing no-wave 1977 classic "song" by Suicide "Franky Teardrop". Buddy himself has acknowledged this in interviews; both song and film describe a day in the life of Franky, a Vietnam vet living in squalor with his annoying wife and Agent Orange deformed baby. The no budget gives the film a gritty edge that makes it completely uncomfortable to watch. Buddy's older brother Ricky plays Franky perfectly: shuffling around battle-torn Staten Island in a black trenchcoat, with greasy long hair and scuffed-up Converse high tops, he is the epitome of the aimless loser. His only friend is a hopeless junkie who dies of an OD in a nasty scene, he owes money to a sleazy thug named Paco, he is rejected by his family, and his attempts at crime fail miserably. With nothing left but the horribly vivid Vietnam flashbacks, Franky gets a gun and methodically shoots his wife to death, shoots his mutant child in the face (then throws it in the oven), and shoots himself in the head. Movie over. Like its obvious influences "Eraserhead" and "Driller Killer", "Combat Shock" is a no holds barred descent into madness and delirium that still holds up after 25 years. Easily the best thing to ever come out of the Troma factory.



Film Review: Last House on the Left (2009)

2009-03-13T18:53:55.502-04:00

"To avoid puking, just repeat 'It's almost a remake, it's almost a remake"I had to do it. Went to the very first screening with 12 other idiots. Such is my love for the original, that I had to see what kind of travesty the "geniuses" of the modern horror film would make of the quirky but depraved Craven classic. After sitting through all 100 minutes (!) of this "reimagining" (as they like to call them these days), I can honestly say that if this came out today as a completely original movie, I'd probably say "that was pretty sick; not bad". However, as a remake it fails on all accounts. How shall I count the ways? Note: tons of spoilers, but who cares when such a crime against a classic piece of horror cinema has been commited?1. The script, by a couple of young nobodies, is practically non-existent. Since the movie relies on nothing but action, gore, and people staring each other down, the characters are given NOT A SINGLE MEMORABLE LINE, therefore none of them are developed whatsoever as people. What was great about the original is that each of the "baddies" had their own personalities, with good and bad qualities. Here they are just generically evil. With nothing to work with, the actors (save Sara Paxton as Mari and maybe Monica Potter as her mother) have no choice but to be humorless and wooden.2. The overall tone and look of the film is exactly in keeping with all the other "torture porn" modern horror trash out there: humorless, dark in tone and look, ultra violent and gory, but completely empty. Sure, it's "brootal", but so what? Might as well see "Saw 6" or "Hostel 3". If they're doing a remake, they could have kept a LITTLE of the original's campiness.3. Mari lives! WTF? The rape is by nature unsettling, but a crucial difference with the original is that here Krug rapes Mari from behind and we see her crying face, but not Krug's. This doesn't pack the punch of David Hess drooling into Sandra Peabody's face. Also, he doesn't carve his initials in her neck (why?). Instead of Mari's comatose walk into the lake and subsequent execution, here she gets up from the rape, smashes Krug with a rock, and escapes into the lake swimming a mile a minute (she's a competitive swimmer). Krug manages to shoot her in the upper back, but she swims all the way home. Doc Collingwood heals her, and after dispatching the baddies, they take her to the hospital as the credits roll. Lame. Also, the baddies' "moment of remorse" is left out, an important omission, as it shows how in the original, the killers were humanized; here they aren't.4. Junior ("Justin") is not a junkie, nor does he deliberately deliver the girls up to "Krug and Company". He's partying with them in the motel room and thinks the gang will be out for a while. He just seems like a dumb kid. In the end, he even betrays the gang by giving Mrs Collingwood Mari's necklace and Doc Collingwood Krug's gun. Instead of the crucial "blow your brains out" scene, Krug just stabs his son with a fireplace poker, but the Collingwoods save him in the end and he survives with Mari. Lame again.5. The killers don't take the girls into the woods for torture deliberately; Mari causes them to crash the car in the woods, and they are stuck there. There is no "piss your pants", no enforced lesbianism, no real torture at all. Phyllis ("Paige") is stabbed as in the original, but there is no disembowelment or amputation of her hand.6. Weasel ("Francis") dies, but there is no castration, and the infamous "dentist" dream is left out. Instead he is stabbed, has his arm shoved down a garbage disposal (?!!?), and given a claw hammer to the head. More mundane is Sadie's death; instead of the catfight with Emma Collingwood, she is simply shot twice in the head. Boring.7. Doc Collingwood doesn't set any of Craven's trademark "traps" for Krug. Sure, they were goofy in the original, but it was fun amidst the carnage.[...]



TALK - ACTION = 0

2009-03-07T23:07:24.222-05:00

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I just saw an amazing video of the great Vancouver punk/hardcore band DOA from 1980 and was reminded of just how choice they really were back in the early 80s. Often overlooked for not being "core" enough, they (like Black Flag and Dead Kennedys) were literal trailblazers, touring relentlessly when there was no network at all set up for bands visiting foreign lands. I saw them in 82 or 83 and they put on a hell of a show with their politically charged yet fun twin guitar assault. Joey Shithead always seemed like your goofy, lunk headed next door neighbor, ready to share a beer and fuck some shit up. But inside, you knew he was smarter than that....

And the records! 1979's "Triumph of the Ignoroids" 12" and the "World War 3" 7", and the holy trinity of 1980-1982: "Something Better Change", "Hardcore 81", and "War on 45". I always loved The Clash, but it seemed around 1981 or 1982 they started to get their heads up their asses musically. DOA stepped in to fill the void. Anthems like "The Enemy", "Fucked Up Ronnie", "13", "Woke Up Screaming", "Smash the State" and "America the Beautiful" blasted 80s complacency and rocked to boot.

Finally, there's Chuck Biscuits. He was 15 YEARS OLD on the 1980 video that I saw, and was as amazing as Keith Moon in 1969, I shit you not. There's even footage of him at 13 (!) thrashing away at an anarchist rally DOA played in 1978. Most people (idiots) think of him as the "Danzig" leather guy, but he was in DOA from 1978 to 1981, he played with Black Flag for the infamous unreleased and untitled 1982 "metal" album, and he bashed away for Circle Jerks in 1983 and 1984. I met him during this period and he drew me an awesome cartoon self portrait on the back of a gig flyer. I still have it. Nice guy all around.

DOA are still out there kicking butt, and Joey even wrote an entertaining autobiography about his life in music and politics, called "I, Shithead". He still runs a DIY label (Sudden Death Records) that has been reissuing the DOA back catalogue and other underground Canadian bands. Do yourself a favor and pick up "Bloodied But Unbowed", 19 classic tracks from 1980 and 1981; punk DID matter once, and DOA is one reason why.



Film Review: Death Game

2009-02-28T18:12:04.061-05:00

I remember watching this nasty seldom seen women's lib gone bad flick whilst blasted on LSD back in '89 or '90 and being totally freaked out. It's psychedelic journey into male degradation, female madness, murder, and total anarchy was perfect for my warped and deviant sensibilities at the time. Well, kids, these days I'm straight edge to the (hard)core, and 1977s "Death Game" (aka "The Seducers" and "Mr. Manning's Weekend") STILL freaks me out. The simple story of generic family man George Manning tormented by two teenage maniacs in a surreal home invasion from hell is psychosexual drama at its finest. The film opens with a bizarre upbeat song about "Dear Old Dad" set to a backdrop of a little kid's drawings of a happy home, with Mom and Dad, Spot and the proverbial Picket Fence. We are then introduced to the Mannings, an affluent, happily married couple living in San Francisco whose son is off visiting Grandma. It's George the architect's 40th birthday, but the celebration is cut short when Granny calls to say that the kid has come down with appendicitis and is headed for emergency surgery. Mrs. Manning packs up and leaves, but George stays home (for reasons unknown) for a lonely 40th. Little does he know what chaos the night will bring...George (the great character actor Seymour Cassel, looking like a total 70s porn star) is chillin' in his fab living room, listening to ethnicky jazz on his 5 grand stereo, smoking butts and drinking scotch, when the doorbell rings. It's a torrential rainstorm out and 2 nubile blondes are at the door looking to use the telephone as they are lost. Agatha (Sondra Locke, 29 playing 17) is clearly in charge as she barges into the house, furtively casing the joint while simultaneously charming the vulnerable guy. Following her somewhat timidly is the voluptuous, wide-eyed Donna (Colleen Camp, 22 playing 15), who is in obvious awe of George's wealth and possessions. Within minutes, the girls have taken over the house, playing with the stereo, messing with the humongous fishtank, and chowing down on some food. The chivalrous George says they can go upstairs to dry off while waiting for their ride (which of course never comes). When they don't come down after some time, he heads up and finds them in flagrante delecto in le hot tub. A cheesy threesome scene ensues, all soft-focus and sensual (Camp's breasts are much in display), with some light lesbian action; George has just had the stereotypical male fantasy, and he's going to pay for it. The next morning George offers them a lift to the nearest bus station, but they won't leave so easily. They dress in his wife's clothes and fix breakfast. The first sign that all is not right is that when the girls eat, they act like pigs, shoving food in their faces, not using utensils, and whipping maple syrup and ketchup all over the place. When George takes them to task, Agatha ferociously accuses him of raping them and says they are minors and he must pay. To make matters worse, the child-like Donna professes that she is "in love" with George and that they should be together "forever". Though he manages to eventually get them to a bus station, when George finally arrives home that night (in the pouring rain again), there they are, lying in wait, ready for some estrogen laced revenge.What follows is 35 minutes of sheer anarchy. The girls subdue George with some well placed blows to the head, and while he is tied up they utterly trash his upper class existence. This part of the film is handled very bizarrely by director Peter S. Traynor, with heavy use of darkness, shadows, and quick cuts. Agatha dresses as a vaudevillian performer, and Donna wears nothing but Mrs. Manning's nightgown (the sight of the bosomy Colleen Camp bouncing up and down on the king sized bed had me in LSD terrors for days). They also put on [...]



Film Review: Alone In The Dark

2009-01-28T14:08:25.295-05:00

Okay kids, it's November 1982, and you're lining up to see Friday the 13th part 3 for the seventh time when you notice the new poster. "Holy shit", you exclaim, "another slasher arrives on Friday!". There's a faceless lone axeman approaching a house surrounded by woods under a full moon, an awesome tagline, and it's got frickin' Doctor Loomis from "Halloween"! This has GOT to be an instant classic, right? Well it is, but not the way you thought it would be. Writer/Director Jack Sholder's "Alone in the Dark" was a slasher, I guess, but it broke a hell of a lot of the usual rules; both heroes and villains were very well developed characters with (dare I say) their own personalities and quirks, there is only one teenagers in peril scene (but it's a doozy), and there's no masked villain with childhood trauma (there's actually no axe and no woods either, despite the great poster). Instead you get 4, count 'em, 4 psychopaths, each with their own brand of insanity. And for the icing on the cake, the parallels to one of the greatest movies of all time, S.F. Brownrigg's 1973 shocker "Don't Look in the Basement", are blatantly obvious and hopefully intentional. Dr. Leo Bain (Donald Pleasence, even more deranged and spaced out than in the "Halloween" movies) oversees "The Haven", a mental institution with a seriously laidback attitude towards potentially dangerous situations. For instance, the good doctor lets a delusional woman act as receptionist (shades of the great Annabelle Weenick in DLITB), he gives matches to an unstable pyromaniac, who immediately starts a bonfire (just as Dr. Stephens unwisely gives Judge Gene Ross an axe in DLITB), and to top it all off, Dr. Bain stuffs his fancy pipe with what he calls "Turkish Sensimilla" (I used to be a major connoisseur, but I've never heard of that one). The patients cannot be called "patients" or "inmates"; they are termed "voyagers". And off we go on their trip...The only locked ward is the third floor, which houses just 4 voyagers. Frank Hawkes (Jack Palance, still a good 9 years away from his mainstream return in "City Slickers") is an ex-POW powderkeg who stares out the window looking demonically intense (a la soldier Hugh Feagin in DLITB). Ronald "Fatty" Elster (the late Erland Van Lidth, the opera singing baddie in "The Running Man") is a 6'6'' 300 pound pedophile with a slightly retarded expression and the demeanor of a child (parallels of "final boy" Sam in DLITB). Then there's Skaggs (aka "The Bleeder"), a rapo who gets nosebleeds every time he strangles a victim; he hides his face against the wall and we never see it. To save the best for last, there's Byron "Preacher" Sutcliff (Martin Landau, in possibly his greatest performance EVER), a religious zealot and also the aforementioned pyro. The film's opening scene, a dream sequence where Landau imagines himself in a fiery diner being split from crotch to craw by a grinning Pleasence (dressed hilariously as a short-order fry cook with a huge cleaver) is priceless.As in "Don't Look in the Basement", the story starts when a new employee begins at the sanitarium. Instead of a cute nurse, it's bleeding heart liberal Dr. Dan Potter (then unknown Dwight Schultz, who would go on to fame in 1983 as "Howling Mad" Murdock on "The A Team"), who has moved into town with his equally liberal wife Nell (stage actress Deborah Hedwall), his smart aleck 10 year old daughter Lyla (Elizabeth Ward, who actually won a Best Actress award for this role at the "Catalonian International Film Festival" and would go on to play the Tracey Gold role in the pilot for "Growing Pains"; who says I don't give out awesome trivia?), and his punk rockin' younger sister Toni (Lee Taylor-Allen), who is recovering from some sort of mental breakdown. Unfortunately things are not great at work: th[...]



Bad Craziness

2009-01-15T11:24:34.938-05:00

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15 Albums that make you want to Fuck Shit Up:

  • Black Flag: Damaged (1981)
  • Dwarves: Blood Guts & Pussy (1989)
  • Slayer: Reign in Blood (1986)
  • Negative Approach: Self Titled 7" (1982)
  • Napalm Death : Scum (1986)
  • Misfits: Earth A.D. (1983)
  • Pig Destroyer: Prowler in the Yard (2001)
  • Exodus: Bonded by Blood (1985)
  • Poison Idea: Record Collectors are Pretentious Assholes (1984)
  • Minor Threat: Minor Threat/In My Eyes 12" (1981)
  • Ramones: It's Alive! (1978)
  • Repulsion: Horrified (1986)
  • SS Decontrol: Get it Away (1983)
  • Turbonegro: Never is Forever (1994)
  • Dead Boys: Young, Loud, and Snotty (1977)

Further suggestions, droogies?




Film Review: She Killed in Ecstacy

2009-01-28T14:08:25.295-05:00

Believe it or not, there once was a time when Spain's trashmeister Jess Franco actually made good films. From around 1968 to 1975, he had decent budgets, great exotic locales for shooting, and a unique, almost psychedelic approach to cinematography and editing. Not to mention some seriously wacked-out soundtracks and many gorgeous (and even classy) actresses. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the trilogy of German-language films he shot in 1970 for bigshot producer Artur Brauner of CCC-Filmkunst Productions in West Germany. These three films, "The Devil Came from Akasava", "Vampyros Lesbos", and "She Killed in Ecstacy", all released in 1971, gave posthumous stardom to doomed Spanish beauty Soledad Miranda, Franco's first "muse", who died in a tragic car accident in August of 1970. Her mysterious allure, her ability to be classy, slutty, hippy-dippy, cruel, and romantic all at once gave her an onscreen presence Franco would never capture again (though he came close with the early films of Lina Romay, Miranda's official successor). Though "Vampyros Lesbos" is the most famous of the trilogy, in my opinion "She Killed in Ecstacy" is where the Franco/Miranda pairing jelled most intensely.Much of "She Killed in Ecstacy" is narrated in a voiceover by Miranda, who plays the unnamed wife of experimental research scientist Doctor Johnson. In a series of flashbacks that are shown while Miranda stands on the edge of a cliff wearing a totally groovy outfit, her long brown hair blowing in the wind, we see her husband (played by Fred Williams, also in "The Devil...") being denounced and ultimately disbarred by a medical board of four doctors (all of the actors appear in all 3 movies, and one of them is played by Franco himself). His peers call him "insane", "immoral", "unethical" and, finally, "an animal", because he experimented on human fetuses (or something like that). Later they send some thugs to destroy his lab and rough up Soledad. Hubby goes totally insane, mumbling the words of the board over and over in a semi-catatonic state. His wife moves them to a deserted island off the coast, and they hole up in a huge fortess-like castle (where they got the money for this on a researcher's salary is never explained, but then again this is Franco). She tries to bring him around, but to no avail; while she is sleeping he slits his wrists. Her naked histrionics upon finding him in the bathroom are worth the price of admission alone. This marks the end of the flashbacks; from here on in it's all Miranda exacting her own special brand of revenge on those who destroyed her perfect marriage.Before I go any further, I must mention that as in the other two films of the trilogy (most notably "Vampyros Lesbos"), the score is provided by Manfred Hubler and Sigfried Schwab; their psychedelic jazz gives the film a feel all it's own, and the music actually lends the movie more of an action film sensibility than that of a horror movie. Seeing Soledad chop guys up accompanied by a Funkadelicized jam is jarring to say the least. She first poses as a prostitute (looking great in a black cape and mesh stockings) in a local bar, luring Dr. Walker (Franco regular, and the original Dr. Orloff, Howard Vernon) up to his hotel room. There the great moralist turns out to be a spineless sexual masochist. Soledad does a bit of topless domination before pulling a stilleto out of her garter belt and slashing his throat. She then castrates him (off-screen). She leaves a note at the scene (inexplicably in English!) saying "1 animal is dead; 3 more will die". Unlike most Franco films, the pace is fairly quick and the running time short, so right away we see the sexy avenger in a bell bottomed tan pantsuit and blond bouiffant wig, posing as a r[...]



RIP Ron Asheton

2009-01-09T14:29:44.299-05:00

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Ron Asheton was one of the true unsung guitar heroes in the history of rock. His psychedelic, jazz-tinged wah-terror fueled the first 2 Stooges albums, and his slashing minimalistic chords basically defined proto-punk, influencing tons of bratty kids in the 70s and 80s to form bands before they really knew how to play. Despite his bizarre fascination with Nazi imagery (his New Order project was incredibly maligned and misunderstood, though good musically), the overall consensus was that he was the most 'normal' of the Stooges, neither destructive to others or to self (he was the only one not addicted to smack in the 70s). He even had the class to trade the guitar for bass on "Raw Power" after Iggy insisted on bringing in James Williamson. Maybe he needed the money, but maybe he was just a cool guy. I recently heard a bootleg of their 'comeback' tour from a few years back and he was as wailing as ever, jamming out on every song from both albums. I guess it's ironic that the only 2 surviving members of the original lineup (Iggy and brother Scott Asheton) were the biggest fuckups back in the day. The Stooges are nominated this year for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, so let's hope justice prevails and Ron gets his revenge on the world of rock from beyond the grave.



Overkill (LA): "Triumph of the Will"

2009-01-09T14:43:31.958-05:00

In 1985, SST Records was flying high. With albums and tours coming on strong by label luminaries Black Flag, Minutemen, Meat Puppets, Saccharine Trust, and Husker-Du, the indie was beginning to attract major critical and even commercial attention; just around the corner they would go on to sign big names like Sonic Youth, Bad Brains, and Dinosaur Jr. However, label owners Greg Ginn, Chuck Dukowski, Mugger, and Joe Carducci weren't content to let indie rock and hardcore rule the label. They took profits from many of their bigger selling acts and funded a number of records which stood in total opposition to the current trends dominating underground music in the 80s. In 1985, the label released low-key releases by such bands as DC3 (featuring Dez of Black Flag), SWA (with Chuck Dukowski), Saint Vitus, Wurm, Tom Troccoli's Dog (with Greg Ginn on bass), and Overkill. These bands, "born too late" (to quote the almighty Vitus), were all throwbacks to the classic rock and metal that the band members were into before they got involved in the hardcore scene of the early 80s. Critically reviled at the time (and to this day by many), these records sold poorly to say the least and, save Vitus, all of the bands lasted only a short while. In fact, a number of the releases ended up being posthumous statements of careers that might-have-been. However, on closer inspection and with some hindsight, one can see that these records, with their stripped-down sound and mixing of genres, presaged many of the aspects of today's Stoner Rock and Doom Metal scenes.Overkill are one of the most forgotten of these bands. Starting out in 1981 as a metal-tinged hardcore band, the band featured drummer and chief songwriter Kurt Markham (who would later be a founding member of psych-rock band DC3), and vocalist Merrill Ward, a Black Flag roadie and original member of Nig Heist, SST's infamous "Porn Rock" collective. Thefirst Overkill single, "Hell's Getting Hotter", released in 1982 on SST, was more hardcore than metal, with all 4 songs under 2 minutes apiece. That year the band also took part in rock history when they opened for San Francisco's Trauma; it was at that gig that James Hetfield and Lars Ulrich approached Trauma's Cliff Burton to join Metallica. Infighting over Merrill's bizarre behavior (he would often light his balls on fire during performances) and participation in Nig Heist led to the vocalist being sacked in late 1982. The music that would appear on the full-length "Triumph of the Will" was recorded in 1983 at a metal studio in LA, at the height of the thrash metal explosion. Markham, however, refused to follow trends, and while the songs are all pretty fast, they don't have the trademark palm muted riffing, shredding solos, epic song structures, and topical lyrics of the fledgling genre. Instead, what we got was metal-influenced hardcore, with all the fat nicely trimmed. When the music was recorded, their vocalist was Scott Kidd, who was fired in the middle of the session (before any vocals were recorded) for not being able to write decent lyrics, and for being a bonafide glammy cock rocker on stage, which the down and dirty members of the band were definitely not into. The tapes languished on the shelf and the band broke up. Markham started up DC3 with Black Flagger Dez Cadena, Merrill joined up with Flag's Chuck Dukowski in the despised SWA, and bassist Ron Cordy went on to fame (but not fortune) in Metal Blade's sleazy and cheezy Bitch.In 1984, the band got it together again, realising the tapes were too good to waste, so SST got Merrill to provide lyrics and record vocals with SST producers Spot and Joe Carducci, who also remixed the music with their typical[...]



Film Review: Buio Omega

2009-01-28T14:07:19.101-05:00

Having spent the second half of the 70s churning out 7 "Black Emanuelle" films starring Laura Gemser, legendary (or should I say infamous) Italian director/cinematographer Joe D'Amato (real name Aristide Massaccesi) decided to try his hand at psychological horror. Scripted by the unknown Ottavio Fabbri, "Buio Omega" ("Beyond the Darkness" aka "Buried Alive" aka "Blue Holocaust") is D'Amato's masterpiece, a meditation on sex and death that manages to combine both in-your-face gore and an understated gothic atmosphere.Living in a huge estate which he inherited after his parents' untimely death, 22 year old Frank Wyler (Kieran Canter, a pretty boy who would later go into porn) spends his time sitting in the untouched room of his dead mother, staring at her picture, and running a private taxidermy business from his basement (a little obvious Norman Bates reference, no?). His fiancee, Anna Volkl (the gorgeous Cinzia Monreale, later to appear in Fulci's "The Beyond" as the blind Emily) is dying in the hospital. It seems that Frank's twisted housekeeper Iris (the brilliant Franca Stoppi, veteran of Bruno Mattei's women's prison and nunsploitation epics) is obsessed with Frank, and has put a voodoo curse on Anna, who eventually succumbs to her mystery disease. To comfort Frank, Iris visits him in his mother's room, saying "now all you have is me", and cruelly grins as she undoes her shirt to breast feed him. The sight of Frank suckling the middle-aged Iris' breast is unsettling to say the least. Undaunted, Frank puts his hobby to good use, digging up Anna's corpse and throwing it in the back of his groovy 70s van. On the way home, however, he gets a flat; when he is finished fixing it he finds a female hitchhiker in the passenger seat. She smokes a joint and passes out. Next follows a controversial scene where Frank completely eviscerates Anna's body in gruesome detail, dissecting and embalming her, and even putting glass eyes in the vacant bloody sockets. With organs and guts slopped into a metal wastebasket, it's a brutal scene, capped by Frank taking out her heart, and inexplicably eating it. Interpret that clumsy symbolism any way you please. The rumour going around at the time of the film's release was that a real cadaver was used; though not true, it does show how good the FX were. When the hippie chick wakes up and sees what's going on she freaks out; Frank wrestles her to the ground, grabs a pair of pliers, and one by one pulls out all her fingernails, before strangling her to death. Iris shows up with a lusty smile on her face. In the next scene, Frank and Iris are dressing Anna's body in stockings and a white nightgown; in a bizarre reversal of the murder, Iris lovingly paints Anna's fingernails bright red. The body is then laid out in Frank's bed. The disposal of the hitchhiker's body is another hideously brutal scene. They drag her into the bathroom, where, dressed in a rubber apron, Iris proceeds to roughly strip the obese corpse and hack it into pieces with a meat cleaver, while Frank fills the tub with corrosive acid. Nonchalantly throwing the limbs into the bubbling vat and scooping up the guts and loose matter into a dustpan, Iris is a cold butcher; her only purpose is to maintain her hold over the increasingly distraught and panicked Frank. She does this by holding his crying face to her bosom, saying "there, there, little boy" while giving him a handjob. Creepy, and so wrong. Another murder occurs, this time a jogger Frank has picked up. To demonstrate how twisted he really is, he covers up Anna with a sheet and starts going at it with the jogger right next to the corpse. When the dead face is uncovered the [...]



Film Review: The Nights of Terror

2008-12-30T12:48:47.556-05:00

As soon as Lucio Fulci's "Zombie" hit box office gold around 1980, the low budget Italian cinema industry was plagued with a glut of imitators, cash-ins, and ripoffs. Some, like Umberto Lenzi's "Nightmare City", were fairly original; some, like Joe D'Amato's "Erotic Nights of the Living Dead" and "Porno Holocaust", were little more than pornography disguised as horror; others, like Bruno Mattei's "Hell of the Living Dead" and Marino Girolami's "Zombie Holocaust (Dr. Butcher MD)" were just plain awful. Like the zombies themselves, Italy's directors (save Fulci, who could do no wrong from 1979 to 1982) were blindly stumbling all over the place trying to make sense of a nonsensical genre.Until 1980, Andrea Bianchi was, like Joe D'Amato, known as a purveyor of fairly well done but sleazy sex films like "Cry of a Prostitute", "Strip Nude for your Killer", "My Father's Wife", and the infamous satanic possession epic "Malabimba" (AKA "The Malicious Whore"). Deciding to jump into the zombie genre, he managed to produce a sublimely excellent film entitled "The Nights of Terror" (AKA "Burial Ground" and "Zombi 3"). One reason this film was so good was because its simplicity (or non-existence) of plot lent it an aura of relentless doom, much like Amando DeOssorio's legendary "Tombs of the Blind Dead" (1971). The story is simple: a bumbling archaeologist disturbs an Etruscan burial tomb near a castle where 3 jet-setting Euro couples (and the son of one of the women) are preparing to spend their vacation. The zombies show up and wreak total havoc, resulting in an apocalypse where all the characters are killed off and the zombies win the day.A few things set this film apart from other Zombie fare; first, the sexual tension among the couples is extremely intense, and every time the lovers try to go at it the zombies interrupt the coitus with the threat of death. Given the allegedly lusty nature of Etruscan society, it's uncertain whether these zombies want in on the action or are trying to break it up. The film also gained a good deal of controversy over the relationship of the Mother (Mariangela Giordano of "Satan's Baby Doll", "The Sect", and "Gore in Venice") and her son Michael, who is supposed to be 13 or so but is played by "Peter Bark", a totally creepy and unnerving 25 year old dwarf who bears an uncanny resemblance to either a diminutive Dario Argento or Isaac from "Children of the Corn"!. In the middle of the zombie carnage, Mommy comforts Michael, and out of nowhere they start making out, grabassing, and he puts his hand up her dress!! When she rebukes him, he runs away screaming "Why not, I'm your son!". At the end of the film, she confronts the undead son and lets him suckle her breast; naturally he bites it off and proceeds to eat her. Nothing is sacred in this film, not sex, not family, not even religion, for when the surviviors escape the castle and enter a nearby monestary, the monks (cowls and all) proceed to eat the flesh of the living in a hideous reverse sacrament.The zombies themselves are interesting as well. Not completely mindless, they are able to use simple farming tools as weapons, and even concoct a battering ram to storm the castle. I'm not sure if Bianchi was trying to make a statement on class struggle, but it does seem as if the poor Etruscan zombies are revolting against the elite and decadent partygoers. In one great scene, a maid (the symbol of wealth and privilege) leans out a window and a zombie lifts up a scythe (the global symbol of the reaper) and slices her head off. The zombies below then fight over her head. As in Fulci's zombie films, the makeup effects are done [...]



Boston Crew

2009-01-09T14:43:04.199-05:00

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1981 to 1984 was the heyday of the Boston Hardcore scene. So many bands and so many shows, so much controversy and so many opinions. As a high school student during that period I was lucky enough to have braved many of those shows, whether it was a Boston band all-ager at a VFW hall or Boston bands opening up for national acts at The Channel. The reputation that the city's punks had was well deserved; there was the constant threat of violence in the air, and sometimes it broke out in big ways. The pit was not a "fun" place to be, and the straight-edge "Boston Crew" was always on the prowl. Sure it was narrow-minded and mostly idiotic, but to my teenage mind it meant something (even if I didn't quite know what).

What is forgotten, however is the MUSIC. Boston HC was different from the other cities. It wasn't snotty and punky like LA, it wasn't anthemic (i.e UK influenced) like DC, and it wasn't arty like SF. It was brutal, it was chaotic, and it was metallic. The Boston bands, more than any other scene, were heavy. As a tribute, here's a list of the cream of the crop, mostly released (vinyl-only at the time) on the Radiobeat, Taang!, and X-Claim labels. Taang! records has fortunately kept much of this material in print and on CD:

Compilations: "Unsafe at any Speed", "This is Boston, not LA"
SS Decontrol: "The Kids will have their Say", "Get it Away"
Jerry's Kids: "Is this my World?"
Gang Green: "Sold Out"
The FUs: "Kill for Christ", "My America"
The Freeze: "Guilty Face", "Land of the Lost"
Kilslug: "Warlocks, Witches, and Demons", "Answer the Call"
Proletariat: "Soma Holiday"
DYS: "Brotherhood"
Negative FX: "Negative FX/Last Rights"




To avoid fainting, keep repeating: "It's only a dream..."

2008-12-30T12:52:16.314-05:00

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My brother Ross and I were at the pauper's cemetery to visit the grave of our cousin Dave, who died when he was 4 months old. For some reason, the grave marker was only about 4 square inches and the writing was in a language unknown to man. There we met up with our downstairs neighbors the Jonas Brothers and their father, who were also visiting Dave's grave. On the ride home in their limo, Kevin Jonas and I discussed our respective home studios, and I was apalled that he had no idea what any of the equipment was called, nor did he know how to use it. Despite being suspicious of his musical integrity, I still made plans to jam out with him soon.

That night I was at a dinner party being held by Laurie Carlson, a childhood schoolmate who beat me out in the race for Clash tickets in 11th grade. For some reason I was wearing a 3 piece suit and a fraternity pledge pin. Laurie and I hit it off quite well, despite the fact that I was ridiculed by everyone at the party for proclaiming that James Hetfield of Metallica was totally washed up. Laurie came on to me, and we ended up sleeping together, but when I woke up I was in final period of my last day in Brockton High School. When the bell rang and I left the classroom, the school led out onto Newbury Street in Boston.

Suddenly, I was completely naked and wandering the Berkeley School of Music campus looking for my dead father, who was my ride home. When I finally met him, my nude body became covered with soap suds. I told my Dad to wait while I went back into the school to shower off. When I came out, my 3 piece suit was back on, but it was causing me to bob and float above the ground like a Macy's Day Parade balloon. My Dad tried to float as well, saying anyone could do it, but he failed miserably. As I flew higher and higher my father and everything else got smaller and smaller.



Welcome!

2008-12-30T10:54:45.961-05:00

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Welcome to Grim Horror, yet another place to read about film and music by someone who thinks they know more than you! I've been watching horror for 30 years and listening to metal and punk music for about the same time, so I've got lots of opinions to bore you with. I've also been a musician for bands like Afterbirth and Blood Farmers, so expect everything to be darkly humorous. Stay tuned for plenty of reviews, articles, biographies, and twisted musings...