Wednesday, 3 March 2010


Rob Zombie Presents The Haunted World Of El Superbeasto [DVD] 

Rob Zombie Presents The Haunted World Of El Superbeasto [DVD] [2008]

Brain-freezingly bad.

1* rating

It didn't have to be. It had the elements to be an entertaining parody of the luchador (masked wrestler) movie and mexican horror but director Rob zombie insists on throwing in everything including the ktichen sink, the toilet system, and the sewers. It's drowned in noise, grotesqueries, cartoon violence (well, it is a cartoon), sex, nudity, (none of these bad things in themselves), humour (crude, obvious, unfunny), songs, music, bad taste (but not interesting bad taste), infinitely extendable boobs and bottoms, horror, parody, satire, all of it hurled in your face non-stop in a way that manages to be mentally draining, wearisome, and boring at the same time.

After only 74 minutes I was so glad to eject this monstrous turkey and just physically could not bring myself to watch the extras (deleted scenes, extended -dear lord, no!- scenes, full length animatic, and trailer) because I had really seen enough. Brain-damaged teenagers on drugs might like this but I can't imagine it appealing to anyone else and I love movies with bad taste -the legendary 'Street Trash' for example- but this is just awful beyond belief. I'd sooner watch 'Plan 9 From Outer Space' than see this again.

Avoid at all at costs. 

An Anthology: The Elektra Years
Paul Butterfield Blues Band
An Anthology: The Elektra Years
As good as it gets.
5* review

In the mid-60's there were two names in white boy blues that stood out -John Mayall in the UK and Paul Butterfield in the USA. It's easy to lay your hands on umpteen Mayal albums and collections, less so for Butterfield who was, arguably, the more authentic (by having racially diverse bands from the very beginning). Now, however, anyone interested in checking out Butterfield can lay their hands on this excellent introduction to this artist.

It perceptively creams off the best of his Elektra albums, presenting the tracks in chronological order which shows Butterfield and the band's development from its rootsiest blues to experiments with jazz fusion and raga. Like Mayall in the UK, he utilised a succession of great musicians: terrific rhythm sections including Jerome Arnold, Sam Lay,and Billy Davenport; hotshot guitarists and keyboard players including Mike Bloomfield, Elvin Bishop, and Mark Naftalin; and later a horn section which included David Sanborn; plus, of course, Butterfield himself as lead vocalist and the only harp player the band ever needed. The 24-page booklet includes an excellent account of the band's history, full track details, and a few photos.

Any complaints? Only Amazon's current excessive price. You can buy the download for far less but then you miss out on the booklet which is an essential part of the package, so I would recommend you do as I did and buy a copy from Amazon Marketplace. And buy it you should because it represents a pinnacle in one corner of modern music. This really is great stuff. 

Ignition City Volume 1

Ignition City Volume 1
by Warren Ellis
Edition: Paperback
Price: £11.49
After the two-fisted space age...
4* review
..Earth has retreated within itself, tired of alien attacks and corrupting influences. The only place you might get off Earth is Ignition City and that is one of the last places on Earth any sane person would want to visit.

Taking as its premise that the black and white movie serials of the 30's and early 40's featuring heroes like Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon, and then thinly disguising them, were real, Ellis take us to 1956 when it looks like the Space Age is over. It opens in Berlin where Mary Raven is talking to Buster Crabbe -a real-life hero and frogman (i.e. diver) who died while (so the story goes) attempting to sabotage a Russian ship during the Cold War. Learning her father, the hero Rock Raven, has been murdered, Mary, herself a space adventurer and tough-girl, heads off to Ignition City to get his effects.

And if I tell you what happens next... Well, I'm just not going to as you should find out for yourself.

Some background details, however. Ignition City is a slum where despised aliens live along with corrupted or beaten down heroes of the Space Age, some of them hoping forlornly to get on board a rocket and head off for a final adventure or just to escape an unbearable Earth. It's a brutal and dangerous place where the predominant colour seems to be a faeces-brown. The language reflects this and this is not a graphic novel for kids or the squeamish, but then it is written by Warren Ellis who isn't known for pulling punches.

At the novel's conclusion, certain events have happened which make it clear that there will (or should) be a sequel while wrapping up the initial plotline of what really happened to Mary's father and why and the consequences thereof. Definitely not for all tastes but well worth a look. More please, Mr Ellis, sir. 

Post Script.
But this being my blog, I don't have to worry about spoilers. One thing I didn't mention in the review, which I should have done, is that Ignition City is located on an artificial island near the centre and there is a ban on flying over anything but the access route. The reason for this is that the local marshall, a rocketeer modelled on Commander Cody, is in league with the government and killed Mary's father who discovered that they were hiding Kurrgh, the Ming the Merciless figure who makes Hitler look like an amateur and who was supposed to be dead, in exchange for his technological expertise. Mary  kills the marshall and takes his badge.
It's grim and gritty but fun too and I'm looking forward to the next volume. I just hope Ellis, as he is wont, doesn't get distracted by other projects.

No Hero
by Warren Ellis
Edition: Paperback
Price: £10.49

Deconstructing the super-hero

4* review

Warren Ellis is fascinated by the concept of the super-hero. Whether he actually likes it or loathes it or simultaneously likes and loathes the concept I don't know. What I do know is that he has written some of the best super-hero stories of modern times -Planetary- and some of the most (not bad but) horrendous -like this one, which falls into the deconstruction category, a theme to which he keeps returning. I can't begin to describe it without giving away what it's about, though I can outline the setup.

Since 1966 a group of superheroes has been defending individuals, 'the little man'. Sometimes they die and are replaced. Following the murder of two of the group, a very straight-edge young man who wants to become a super-hero starts acting as a vigilante to advertise his suitability and he is duly recruited.

What happens next you will have to find out for yourself. Needless to say there are deep dark and dangerous secrets. There is incredibly brutal violence and genuine horror. This is not for the faint-hearted and is about as far away from Superman as you can get. Don't say I didn't warn you. 

Post Script.
Full of bitter ironies, the superheroes lead by an immortal are actually the secret rulers of the world and have save the planet from global warming and Ronald Regan, in other words our world. Cutting out the content of four issues, our hero is a plant by the government and a psychopath whose purpose was to infiltrate the group, gain super powers, and kill them all. This is he does, finally taking the leader into space where he'll continually die and come to life again and die but never get back to Earth where he could regenerate. Our hero, exposed ot the rigours of space just dies. Then the planet, given a stability by the super-heroes, degenerates into a chaos far far worse than our world is.
This is really bitter and cynical stuff from Ellis. I quite liked it but it's a one-off and I don't think I'm likely to want to read it again so I've added it to my Amazon Marketplace listing. Ignition City, however, I'm keeping.

No comments: