Saturday, September 12, 2009

Angry Samoans: I was Todd Homer!

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", "Psych-Out 129", "Get off the Air", "Wasted", "Nervous Breakdown", and the closer "My Old Man's a Fatso". No encore. 32 songs in 62 minutes. Awesome.

I also got to snag the Metal Mike Anal Setlist: professionally printed, with graphics of the "Inside My Brain" album cover. And for merch, all they had was stuff for the ladies: custom Samoans bras, panties, girly tops, skirts, and tube tops. CDs only 5 bucks. Stickers 50 cents. Good deal.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Film Review: Drag Me To Hell

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....

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Film Review: Martyrs

"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)))

Friday, April 3, 2009

1980: The Greatest Year Ever?

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!

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"

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"

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"

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Fulci Lives! Torben Rules!

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!

Friday, March 27, 2009

Film Review: Twilight

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:

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Film Review: Combat Shock

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.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Film Review: Last House on the Left (2009)

"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. This movie takes itself so seriously, that Krug and Doc have a battle royale all over the house that goes on forever. In the end, the Collingwoods subdue Krug, paralyze him by some kind of surgery, and stick his head in the microwave (which mysteriously works with it's door open!), where it explodes. Come on, people, no chainsaw? And they call this a "remake"?

8. Finally, ex-Disney and Lifetime Network uber-babe Sara Paxton strips down briefly to bra and panties, but no nudity, even during the rape. Come on, people.

Saturday, March 7, 2009


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.