Movie Review: Halloween [2007]

Rob Zombie’s re-envisioning of the granddaddy of all slasher films will undoubtably polarize critics as you’ll either love it or hate it vehemently, but it is doubtful you’ll leave the theater somewhere in the middle.  Whereas John Carpenter’s 1978 original helped define the boundaries of a genre, Zombie’s reworking is one part homage, one part decidedly modern (read: violent) spin on the tale. 

This version of Halloween attempts to give far more background into the Myer family at the beginning, yet ultimately explains very little as to what finally makes Michael snap.  And like many of the sequels that later followed in the original film series, Michael Myers’ transformation into a robotic killing machine has no real logical progression leading up to this powerful embodiment, which is unsatisfying as it seemed to be what our story was trying to accomplish.  I did however, like the further exploration into the relationships between Michael and his mother (Zombie’s real-life wife Sheri Moon Zombie), his shrink (Malcolm Mcdowell venturing boldly into Van Helsing territory) and Michael and his younger sister Laurie (Scout Taylor-Compton).

Zombie is an excellent director and clearly did his homework as many scenes are almost shot for shot from the original, but both the opening background story as well as the film’s conclusion are different and risk evoking the wrath of purists.  But let’s face it, this was basically an attempt at rewriting the ‘bible’ and it carried it’s share of risks for any director. 

Which leads me to believe this was a labor of love for Mr. Zombie.  His attention to detail and creative use of the camera supports this notion as does his penchant for filling smaller roles with familiar faces from camp classics of the past (Dee Wallace, Brad Dourif, William Forsythe, Udo Kier, Richard Lynch, Clint Howard & Bill Moseley to name but a few). Yes, there’s lots of hidden trivialities to keep the horrorhound guessing and plenty of blood too!

And that point bears repeating – that Zombie clearly made this film for fans of the original and horror films in general.  As such, it’s more gruesome and far more violent than what may be expected, which to me enhanced the sense of dread since you knew what this madman was capable of doing (Michael, not Zombie).  There are also some geniunely creepy moments and a good cat-and-mouse sequence near the end that got more than one squeal out of the audience where I attended.

All in all, this probably isn’t Rob Zombie’s magnum opus as I think he’d fare better with his own wacked out storyline as a launching pad (such as he had with House of 1000 Corpses) but it’s a laudable effort tackling the gargantuan task of re-inventing a classic.

I give it 7 out of 10 skulls.

Sad Days indeed!

Two legendary institutions have passed.   The Associated Press is reporting that Hilly Kristal, the founder of legendary nightclub CBGB, has passed away after a long battle with lung cancer.  He was 75. 

For those who don’t know, CBGB was arguably the ‘garden of Eden’ for early punk rock; a small “hole in the wall’ establishment where bands like the Ramones, Blondie, Patti Smith and the Talking Heads all once took the stage.  CBGB was closed in 2006 after being evicted from it’s home of 33 years but it was rumored that Kristal was looking to open a Las Vegas version.   

Hilly, thanks for the use of your stage, man!

On a less serious note,  the Weekly World News has published it’s last issue this week.  Billed as ‘the world’s only reliable newspaper’, WWN gave us 28 years worth of alien abductions, bigfoot paternity issues and of course, BATBOY!  Parent company American Media Inc. has said the web presence will be maintained (doesn’t say how long tho!) but the print version’s last issue was August 27. 

Now when I wait in line at Walmart, what the hell am I gonna look at !?!

Jagermeister’s Truth in Advertising

Over the weekend, I learned something fascinating and thought I would share it.  Many of you may have heard this before, but it was new to me.

On Saturday, I dropped off some old paint cans at the hazardous waste collection facility.  Since I was doing a lot of yard work, I was dressed in worn clothes and wearing a bandana I recently acquired at Ozzfest.  It happened to have Jagermeister logos all over it.  As I was going about my business, a lady working for the collection plant noticed my bandana and asked me what it said. 

“Is that Orange County Choppers?” she asked.

“No, Jagermeister” I replied

“Ah, Jager.  Oh Dear God!” she exclaimed.  Obviously the mere name invoked bad memories for her – perhaps involving a few shots, sailors on shore leave and a case of whipped cream canisters.

“Excuse me?” I was surprised at her reaction.

“Oh Dear God” she repeated.  “That’s what it says on every bottle.”

I wanted to just flat out say “Nuh Uh!” as I’m fairly well versed in the outer appearance of Jager bottles (having drunk a few in my day) but instead I politely inquired “Where does it say that?”

“Look at the logo” she explained.  “It starts out with a big circle, an ‘O’.  Inside of that is a stag’s head – a deer.  Above the stag’s head is a cross.  Put them together and you get O – Deer – God.  Oh Dear God.”

Jager - Liquid Chaos in a Bottle

And all this time I’d just been SAYING it after a night of drinking the stuff, usually while praying at the porcelain shrine.  Who knew!?

David Hasselhoff – Emissary of Satan.

Was channel surfing last night and decided to subject myself to the last 30 minutes or so of the ‘America’s Got Talent’ season finale.  If you caught it, then you know that near the end, judge David Hasselhoff was featured singing the song “This is the Moment” from the Broadway production of ‘Jekyll & Hyde’, of which he once had the starring role.  After the song was over, as fellow judges Sharon Osbourne, Piers Morgan and host Jerry Springer were talking to The Hoff, he happened to flash “The Devil Horns” before walking off the stage.

I was dumbfounded.  Did I REALLY just see that  – did the former star of Baywatch & Knightrider just give us all the Mano Cornuto on national television!?  I mean, I’ve often suspected David was evil – especially after seeing his ‘Hooked on a Feeling’ video, but this!?!  Has the Hoff joined MS-13!?!  Or dear God. . .is he a metalhead !!!?? HE MUST HAVE BEEN SENT AS AN EMISSARY OF SATAN !!!!!!!

Satanic Hoff ?

Preparing my “I told you so’s”, I decided to do a bit of research to insure I had all of my facts on this matter.  To my surprise, there are several folks out there who’ve dedicated some webspace on the subject – and apparently George Bush, Bill Clinton and Elizabeth Taylor are fond of using the symbol, amongst others.  No one is really certain when the symbol began being used at metal shows but both Gene Simmons and Ronnie James Dio are taking credit for it.  Figures, really.  However, I digress.

What I learned from online (so it MUST be true!) was that what the Hoff did was actually a hybrid, a bastardization if you will, of the “I Love You” symbol from American Sign Language mixed with the notorious ‘metal horns’ frequently used at concerts.   Shredman has an interesting interview with Dio on the subject at his site Defender of Rock which seems to support my theory of Hasselhoff doing neither symbol correctly, if we’re being true-ists.

So, here is what I think I witnessed. If you look at the screenshot, you can see Dave is clearly looking off stage, most likely to the bartender in the Green room. I’m guessing what I mistook for the ‘Devil Horns’ was actually Hoff ordering 2 martini’s to be ready for when he walked over. My bad.

Doesn’t matter, anyways. I’m more disappointed that we had no last minute appearance from the TRUE talent powerhouses that had appeared earlier in the series – the Redneck Tenors.                   


Redneck Tenors

A “Match Made in Hell”

Last Friday, Great White played the Alrosa Villa here in Columbus.  This is the rock n’ roll equivalent of the ‘perfect storm’, as the Alrosa was the site of 5 shooting deaths in 2004 during the Damageplan show (including guitarist Dimebag Darrell, the shooter Nathan Gale and 3 others) and Great White had the horrible fire started by their own pyrotechnics in 2003 at a show in West Warwick, Rhode Island that killed 100 people and injured almost 200 more.  Clearly, if God had wanted to send some sort of message, he had his opportunity on Friday.  

Industry safety expert Paul Wertheimer called the booking a “match made in Hell” and asked “Why would you would you bring those two negative forces together?”   A valid question, one that I asked myself as I pondered whether to attend the show or not.

Eventually, I chose to not go.  In the turmoil of emotions that this brought, I came to several conclusions.  First, unlike some vocal critics, I don’t blame Rick Cautela (of the Alrosa) for booking the band – he’s trying to run a nightclub and the band would be a good draw.   I’m more undecided about Great White, since if it were my band I would’ve called it quits out of respect to those who died, including guitarist Ty Longley. 

Are they wrong to keep going?  Who can say – somewhere up there Ty might have wished them to continue, to not let that nightmarish night be the last thing that was ever heard from a once great 80’s metal band. There’s something to be said for not letting adversity call the shots, especially since Great White didn’t appear to be promoting this particular appearance any differently than the rest of their 25th anniversary tour.

And no, I didn’t avoid the show out of fear. I’ve been to the Alrosa several times since the Damageplan incident, starting with a candlelight vigil the night after it all happened. I’ve hugged Rick and we’ve talked about the madness of that night – I’m not superstitious that something bad will happen again.

Yes, the venue and the band are sad reminders of events many would wish to forget. But shunning a club, and avoiding a band – neither change anything. Like swearing off flying after 9/11, you only let the negative things win if you show them fear, and let them make your choices for you. Don’t get me wrong, I truly wouldn’t dream of disrepecting the memories of anyone who died on those tragic nights. Or anyone who survived and lives with those memories. But I am glad folks chose to celebrate rock n’ roll, at that place, and even with that band. For me, however, if I’d gone it would’ve been more out of curiousity or getting caught up in the hype – all of which DID seem disrepectful.

Ultimately, I chose to spend the evening with a few friends over more than a few beers. It seemed the best choice for the evening – heck, I was never a huge Great White fan to begin with. And as for the Alrosa, I’ll be back. Mushroomhead’s coming!

And after it’s all said and done, the show went off without a hitch apparently.  Allyson Crawford has an excellent review (complete with setlist) at her site Bring Back Glam which is worth checking out.

Goodbye Banners! Hello RSS Feeds!!

Ok, I just spent the better part of my evening trying to figure out why my RSS category feeds don’t work.  Long story short – it appears that my permalink structure was blowing everything up.  So I went with the ‘default’ (ugly) setting.  Seems to be working FINALLY. 

 And you may also notice that the Godaddy banners are gone.  Yep, I finally anteed up and am paying for my server now.  Just like the big boys. 

 I’m sure other stuff is broken but that’s all I’m doing for tonight.  This thinkin’ stuff is hard work. . .

Ozzfest – Columbus, Germain Amphitheater 8/8/07

For the record, this is my 10th Ozzfest and with the state of outdoor amphitheater’s in Columbus, this may be the last I see at this venue – possibly even this city. That being said, I thought that this was perhaps one of the strongest line-ups for any Ozzfest and well worth attending.

As is highly advertised, this was ‘Freefest’ – i.e. the tickets were obtained online for free. Not entirely true as I had to buy Ozzy’s new CD to get ‘preferred’ seating and parking was $20 (!?!), overall I didn’t get as raped as I thought I would by the merch or food vendors. Most t-shirts were $25 and cd’s were around $15 – still a bit high but all things considered I didn’t find any of this to be too objectionable. Beer was still ridiculous (most were $8) but I can’t hold Ozzy responsible for that one.

Anyhow, 15 bands performed and I saw at least part of all acts (hey, I’m just one guy – I had to pee eventually). Also, I’d like to note here that I’m only including the songs that were memorable to me in my reviews but if you’d like complete set lists I recommend sites like ‘Http://www.metalsetlists.com’ for more details. Ok, here is how it broke down to me;

Egypt Central – tough spot being first, but these guys played like pro’s. Very melodic, radio friendly without seeming like profit whores, I was impressed enough to see them again. “You Make Me Sick” stuck out as potential powerhouse hit, in the vein of Papa Roach or Breaking Benjamin. Not an opening act for Nile (which is what I thought when I saw their name) but still very good.

3 Inches of Blood – If Mercyful Fate and Judas Priest merged their sounds, it would be 3 Inches of Blood. Decently rockin’ sextet out of East Vancouver features dual vocalists, dual guitarists and one hum-dinger of a rhythm section. Old School stylings guaranteed to snap your neck! Was an excellent warm-up for the crowd leading into my boys. . .

NILE – Like a sonic bulldozer running amok, Nile stormed the second stage and took no prisoners. Probably the heaviest band at Ozzfest and a great bunch of guys in person, this is death metal at it’s finest. I was overjoyed to hear ‘Sarcophagus’ and ‘Black Seeds of Vengeance’ played live again. Great addition to the lineup.

Ankla – Former Puya guitarist Ramon Ortiz’s new project, spanish for ‘Anchor’, is an excellent mixture of metal groove, latin rhythm and powerhouse vocals. Similar in sound as Ill Nino, even down to having a drummer and a percussionist, these guys played a pummelling set with intricate signature changes and driving beats. ‘Sinking’ is a killer tune that it is impossible to sit still through. I dare ya’!

ChthoniC – Much anticipated Taiwainese Black Metal outfit ChthoniC were fairly impressive in their American debut, with a unique version of symphonic metal a la Cradle of Filth (who they will later be touring with) overlayed with more traditional instruments such as the oriental violin. And yeah, sexy Doris on Bass was a plus, although her backing vocals were off key (sound guy?). Their set was tight and featured ‘UNlimited Taiwain’ and the haunting ‘Quasi Putrefaction’ – I’m hoping to catch their full set when they come to Cleveland.

In This Moment – Hollywood’s own In This Moment were a pleasant surprise to me, as I enjoyed their melodic set much more than I originally thought I would. They’ve oft been labeled metalcore but songs ‘Beautiful Tragedy’ and ‘Prayers’ are more radio friendly than one might think for that category. Still, vocalist Maria Brink and company offered up crunchy riffs, catchy beats and throat ripping vocals that easily won me over (and the crowd) as they channeled Kittie, and perhaps a tad of Evanescence, on the second stage.

Daath – Meaning ‘Knowledge’ as represented by the lower half of the Kabalistic Tree of Life, these guys rival later act Behemoth in playing brutal yet purposeful metal that offers thought-provoking lyrics while pulverizing your spinal column! Great guitar wizardry backed by carefully orchestrated keyboards, stabbing vocals and an intense rhythm section made these guys a notch above your typical death/thrash metal outfit.

Devildriver – A last minute replacement for Nick Oliveri and the Mondo Generator, Devildriver is no stranger to Ozzfest stages. Frontman Dez Fafara and company are known for their full-on, heavy as hell assault, and today was no different. Fast paced and relentless, DD can wear an audience out faster than anyone – but not themselves as they tirelessly provoked the crowd into a mosh with excellent fretwork, doberman vocals and an overall amazingly tight performance. I especially enjoyed “Not All Who Wander Are Lost” off the new album.

Behemoth – Long running Polish Black Metallers Behemoth ferociously attacked their set like emissaries of the underworld. Nergal & the boys sounded great, played tight and excepted no excuses for a lame crowd. “Pussies, you think we’re sweating up here for nothing?” he jibbed. Ok, well – it was hot, right? But the foursome seemed undaunted by their environment and like the dark wizards they are, blasted through renditions of ‘As Above, So Below’ & ‘Chant for Eschaton 2000’ which were note-for-note from the recorded versions.

Hatebreed – Clearly one of the crowd favorites for the day, and rightfully so. Hatebreed play infectious, hardcore inspired metal with molten heavy guitar riffs and emotionally charged lyrics. Headbanger’s Ball host/frontman Jamey Jasta is gutteral, tough yet appreciative of his audience – which is rewarded by a huge pit and electricity in the crowd. This is a band that consistently puts on a tremendous show and I’m always glad when I can see them live.

Lordi – Finland’s Monstermen (and woman) arrived in full regalia, with an explosive stage show and an interesting use of props that was entertaining and fun to rock along with. Unfortunately, I think Mr. Lordi and cohorts suffered from a bad sound mix as several songs lacked the heaviness that is evident on the album. They opened with ‘Bringing Back the Balls to Rock’ and also played (among others) ‘The Devil is a Loser’, ‘Would You Love a Monsterman’ & ‘Who’s Your Daddy”, eventually closing (after keyboardist Awa played hard to get with the crowd’s applause) with the Eurovision winning “Hard Rock Hallelujah”. Sadly, no “It Snows in Hell” but all in all still a good set.

Static X – Wayne Static and the boys played heavy and played loud – just like we like it! All the favorites were covered including ‘Push it’, ‘I’m With Stupid’ & ‘Bled for Days’ plus new songs ‘Cannibal’ and ‘Destroyer’. It was good to see these guys haven’t mellowed any and the crowd really got into them. And they still did shots on stage – respectfully brought out to them by scantily clad hotties!

Lamb of God – Strongest crowd reaction (besides Hatebreed) went to the guys from Richmond, VA who played an excellently brutal and heavy set including favorites “Walk With Me in Hell” and “Redneck”. Vocalist Randy Blythe nearly triggered a riot by prodding the lawn into full participation, which translated into what my wife called “Ballet of the Bottles” – widespread lobbing of plastic water bottles such as I’ve never seen. And of course, I had to run out to the lawn to investigate first hand! Meanwhile, Lamb was tight, tirelessly pummelling the crowd until most just of us fell limp and watched them finish out their set through our sweat stained eyes.

And finally, Ozzy! As with many Ozzfest’s before, a short film served as intro featuring Ozzy juxtaposed into familiar scenes from shows like the Sopranos (Ozzy as the psychiatrist Dr. Melfi), Lost (as Locke’s Father) and Dancing with the Stars (with partner Heather Mills) as well as the infamous nude wrestling scene from the movie ‘Borat’. Hope Ozzy had a stunt double for that one! The Prince of Darkness then opened to ‘Bark at the Moon’, looking spry and energetic – oh good, no riot this year!

I had to leave midway through his set but did get to hear ‘Mr. Crowley’ (with live keyboardist Adam Wakeman playing the intro!), “War Pigs”, “Not Going Away” & “Road to Nowhere”. Zakk Wylde was firing off a blistering solo to ‘Suicide Solution’ when I unfortunately had to head for home.

As for the day as a whole, in my opinion, – I absolutely got more than my money’s worth. A good mix of different bands and different musical styles, all played with fire and the enthusiasm you hope to see in a show. Well done, Ozzy & Sharon!

Pre-Ozzfest prayer

The Prince of Darkness is visiting my little corner of the woods tomorrow. In honor of this occasion, I offer. . .the pre Ozzfest prayer;

Oh God (of Thunder),

Keep me from loosing my tickets so I don’t have to pay for this ‘free’ concert, especially since I waited online for 3 hours to get these babies in the first place.

Grant me patience, as I wait for hours in line to enjoy the privilege of paying $10 for a beer and $50 for a t-shirt. May security be gentle. . . and a little nearsighted.

Allow my alcohol consumption to be less than that of Zakk Wylde (so that I may remain standing) but more than Ozzy’s in his current incarnation.

Please give me the intelligence and foresight to only shop or go for food during the sets of bands I never cared to see in the first place (not mentioning any names here). And the wisdom to know the difference.

Grant me the strength to stand for 14 hours in blistering 100 degrees heat and 1000 percent humidity, interrupted only on occasion by light spittles of rain and a falling crowd-surfer.

Forgive me my trespasses (backstage hopefully!) as I will forgive those cretins who mosh into me when I’m clearly in the ‘drinking section’ of the lawn.

Bless me Lord, with topless WOMEN – and please only those who in fact SHOULD be topless. And spare me, in your mercy, from hairy buttcrack or male genitalia.

Bestow only performances of quality and worth upon the masses, oh Lord – and let none suck. Let us all rock our respective asses off, and celebrate this occasion with frivolity, banging of heads and the aforementioned display of boobages.

May my hearing hold out, as I also ask my legs & bladder to. And perhaps my neck muscles as well.

And finally, may Ozzy actually grace us with his presence as you know he’s blown us off many times in the past. . . lest the apocalypse arrive early and then the sod & fences be damned!

Grant us these things, Oh Lord – and safetly return us home with ringing ears, sweaty clothes and bags full of loot to get us through until next year!

Amen.