Posts Tagged ‘TV

15
Mar
09

Psychic TV – First Transmission (1982) – Thee Temple Ov Psychick Youth

Psychic TV - First Transmission

Psychic TV - First Transmission

I fully intended to do my homework with this set of videos to bring you the background behind them and any other informative snippets that I could find. But the more I researched the more muddled the story became, so sod it – I’ll just review what I saw…

Psychic TV was a music band set up by a guy named Genesis P Orridge (no, seriously). From what I could gather, Thee Temple Ov Psychick Youth (who were obviously illiterate to use a spelling like that) were the visual side of Mr Orridge’s audio side. The set of videos were apparently only available through mail order and only if you had bought his previous nine albums. You know how it goes, you buy the thing – get a token – keep the tokens, send them in, blah blah blah. But in return for some tokens you were sent this set of bizarre movies which last about six hours in total. What’s on them? I’m glad you asked…

The first (of four) tapes begins with some guy who is apparently the spokesman for Thee Temple Ov Psychick Youth (TOPY). While we hear a voice, the figure is mouthing, and gesturing, something completely different, so that section is a bit like watching an old Jackie Chan movie (back when he was good). The next forty-five minutes are of some poor devil getting whipped, slashed and, to top it all off, given – what looks like – a blood enema. Are these scenes real hacking and slashing? I honestly don’t know, but the cutting scenes do look real, taking in to account that this was made in the early 80’s (special effects weren’t cheap and were usually God awful) it certainly looks real. Then, an intermission – five minutes of the Virgin Mary complete with flashing heart and halo.

Virgin Mary figure, complete with flashing halo and heart! (batteries not included)

Virgin Mary figure, complete with flashing halo and heart! (batteries not included)

And to finish off video one, some chick peeling off her drawers to reveal one of the most ugly vaginas ever. I don’t think it was supposed to be hideous, but its one of those vaginas with the curling in labia and sticky out bits. Ugh…

Video two starts off with someone driving around a town somewhere taking video footage at the same time. This was obviously filmed in the 70’s since everyone is wearing flares and tight t-shirts. The we see some teenagers in a flat looking absolutely stoned out their nut. After about five minutes of them we cut to some kid getting some backstreet surgery done on his arm this, it would appear, lets him (and later, his friend) hook up some device to his arm where he can press a button and get high as a kite.

What's this all about? Answers on a postcard to the usual address...

What's this all about? Answers on a postcard to the usual address...

Later in this section he lies face down on a table and our backstreet Mr Mengele operates at the base of the kids spine with another little press-button box thing. Unfortunately it’s at this point the kid pops his clogs, dressed only in his underpants with a little black box dangling from his ass crack. Mr Mengele seems upset and we cut to some flashback footage. Finally, we get some de-penis-ing. Not castration as some reviews have said. His testicles are not removed, his PENIS is removed! No, I’m not kidding. This kid lies down on a bed, some guy comes in with a pair of scissors and cuts his dick off. And there’s a fair few spurts of blood. Is it fake? Again, I doubt it, as this was, again, released in the early 80’s, I doubt they had the technology to do this back then.

‘But how does he pee?’ I hear you ask.

His urine dribbles forth from a small opening above his testicles. As is demonstrated near the end of this video. Most unpleasant! This tape ends with some weird music (Psychic TV music? I dunno) and flashing images. Trippy maaaaaan!

Oooooh, oh... pretty woman. Oh no, sorry, it's Jim Jones...

Oooooh, oh... pretty woman. Oh no, sorry, it's Jim Jones...

Tape three is the Jim Jones tribute tape. There’s just over thirty minutes of Jim ‘I want to be Elvis, but look more like Roy Orbison’ Jones’ rambling madness. Sanity is forthcoming however, with five minutes of a pretty girl disrobing, showing her boobs then getting dressed again. Hallelujah! Insanity returns with ten minutes, or so, of a girl clipping her beaver hair and some guy poking a hole in the side of his dick. Yes, there’s blood.

Final video begins with an interview. Now I initially thought this was some bald headed dyke, but according to the type on screen, it’s Mr Genesis P. Orridge himself.

Mr Genesis P. Orridge - I still reckon it's a dyke...

Mr Genesis P. Orridge - I still reckon it's a dyke. Would you trust a guy who shaves his eyebrows like a woman??

Him (and someone else) ramble on for a good five minutes before it cuts to some swirly shapes with weird music. Now either I have an over-active imagination (quite possible) or they’ve purposely used some porn footage in the swirly shapes. Behold:

It's porn, I'm telling you. No, seriously. No, I'm not on drugs!!

It's porn, I'm telling you. No, seriously. No, I'm not on drugs!!

Swirly porn-ified music continues for about twenty minutes before the video cuts to a screen proclaiming: ‘An Introduction to the Temple Ov Psychick Youth’. Now it’s flashing images for the best part of twenty minutes and, finally, ending with the spokesman.

The badly out of sync spokesman.

The badly out of sync spokesman.

Having read a bit in to Mr Orridge, and PsychicTV, these videos are more art-house than horror. Certainly the torture and de-penis-ing are gory, and possibly real, but the rest are (I think) mere visual imagery for his music. Still worth flicking through just to be able to tell people what you saw.

On second thoughts – no, maybe it’s better if you don’t tell them about the torture and de-penis-ing!

Advertisements
06
Mar
09

The Punisher: War Zone Review

He is all out of bubblegum.

He is all out of bubblegum.

2008 was, without a doubt, the year of the comic book movie.  Along side the earth shattering success of The Dark Knight, there was the surprisingly impressive Hulk movie, and the Robert Downey Jr. resurrection machine known as Iron Man.  Both turned out to be great movies in their own right, with the Hulk finally getting the balance between the rage fueled violence and the plight of the scientist with a curse right, and with Iron Man, where Downey Jr. literally transformed himself into a living, breathing Tony Stark.

So then why didn’t anyone pay any attention to Punisher War Zone?  Maybe it was because the 2004 entry was almost universally panned for being quite atrocious.  Maybe because it didn’t have anywhere near the hype and media coverage that the big three got.  Maybe because it’s R rated (and let me tell you, its earns ALL of that R rating and then some).  Maybe it’s because the plot concerning an ex-military mans family being slaughtered because they witnessed a mob killing is just to grim for most audiences.  Whatever the reason, it’s truly a damn shame, because against what seemed like all odds, the old adage of “third times a charm” came shining through, and Frank Castle finally get his long overdue opus on the silver screen.

The Punisher to me, always seemed like the safest and easiest bet of all the Marvel heroes to turn into a feature film.  There’s no expensive CGI and complicated suits to create.  There’s no interplanetary or ridiculously complex scientific origin to the hero.  His appearance is just that of a middle-aged tired and emotionally distraught Italian male.  And he actually doesn’t even has superpowers, his is just an incredibly driven, superlatively trained warrior who occupies the gray area in between the good and evil of society.  Aside from some more intimate and provoking undertones that go on within The Punishers own conscious, his main method of entertaining comic books fans was plowing his way as violently as possible through droves of street thugs, gangsters, and criminals.  It’s at about this time your probably recognizing how male orientated this comic series was.  It seems like every male action junkies fantasy, to be this near suicidal, empty shell of a man who can just kill with absolute impunity.  Yet, in a strange twist, it took a woman to get this story right.

The Punisher can kill a man with a chair.  That's hardcore.

The Punisher can kill a man with a chair. That's hardcore.

Director Lexi Alexanders’ command of the visual style and pacing of this movie is probably the most immediate and impressive of the taunting hurdles she had to overcome to create such an exceptionally accurate representation of The Punisher as it is presented in the comics.  The Punisher is a man of action, a man of finality, in his world there are three colors, Black (evil), White (good), and Red (Blood and Justice).  Lexi encapsulates that beautifully, knowing exactly when to allow the story play out a bit, and maybe let the characters get a little introspective, and when to crank it up to 11 by unleashing the Punisher without any hesitation or restriction.  Combining those strengths, with a keen eye for lighting, to give everything  that grimy, almost mafia look, and some dynamite performances and well thought out actions set pieces and you have a recipe for success.

But while Lexi may have created quite the landscape for a vigilante superhero with an uncanny talent for dealing death, it would be nothing if there weren’t solid actors to bring the persona’s off the pages of the comics.  Everyone, let me introduce to Ray Stevenson.  This guy is a presence on screen, I liken him to Gerald Butler, who completely stole the show in every scene he was in in 300.  His somber and weathered face and flat voice was a perfect fit for bringing to life the near emotionless Frank Castle.  He wasn’t just a revelation because he accurately portrayed a comic book character, he was a revelation because he acted his fucking ass off, and bridged the gap between inflated, comically quirky superheroes, and three-dimensional characters who seem to live and breath in an incredibly believable manner.

Jigsaw.

Jigsaw.

Surrounding him is a ensemble cast that includes Julie Benz (RAMBO, Dexter TV show), Dominic West (The Wire TV show), and Wayne Knight (Seinfeld and Jurassic Park).  They all fit the bill perfectly, and bring the kind of subtle, validating emotions to the screen, while still being incredibly fun to marvel (pun intended) at due to their fan service nature and faithful reproduction on screen.

Technically speaking, the audio is superb, with the score being allowed to creep into the forefront at just the right moments to give more emotional resonance and weight to a particular scene.  Also, every gunshot, shell casing, bullet wound, lost limb, and blown up body is accounted for, with satisfyingly loud, deep, and visceral sound effects.  As previously mentioned, the lighting is a perfect blend of realistic city environments, and heavily stylized colorful comic book cities.  The camera also always seems to be in the right place, never wearing out its welcome by using too many gimmicks or by sitting around like a seemingly uninterested bystander.  It moves with the pace of the action, and always gives a great glimpse of what is happening.

Heavy Handed for those uninitiated in Punisher lore, but this is as fitting a message to go out on as any.

Heavy Handed for those uninitiated in Punisher lore, but this is as fitting a message to go out on as any.

The Punisher, is my humble opinion, is better than the Hulk movie, and right up there with Iron Man as far as 2008 comic book movies are concerned, with the The Dark Knight being the obvious number 1.   This is an incredibly faithful, stunningly grisly, and frighteningly accurate depiction of everything that is great about the character Marvel fans seem to forget about the most in The Punisher.  The acting is simply spot on, only once or twice spilling into hammy territory.  The look and feel is wonderful without being overbearing.  It sounds like a dream John Woo had, and it moves quickly, avoiding all those slippery little chasms where character exposition and plot development can lead to mind-numbing boredom and frustration.

The birth of the alternative comic book movie is upon us, and I for one am eagerly awaiting whats next.

Get out of my way, punk.

Get out of my way, punk

24
Jan
09

REPO! The Genetic Opera Review (Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman of SAW fame)

Badass.  Digging the Communist theme.

Badass. Digging the Communist theme.

Repo! The Genetic Opera is the brainchild of Darren Lynn Bousman, who most of you know as one half of the team that made SAW such an immensely popular and lucrative franchise, and buddy Terrance Zdunich, who is mainly a storyboard artist working on movies and TV shows.

Here’s a quick snapshot of the plot.

In the year 2056 – the not so distant future – an epidemic of organ failures devastates the planet. Out of the tragedy, a savior emerges: GeneCo, a biotech company that offers organ transplants, for a price. Those who miss their payments are scheduled for repossession and hunted by villainous Repo Men. In a world where surgery addicts are hooked on painkilling drugs and murder is sanctioned by law, a sheltered young girl searches for the cure to her own rare disease as well as information about her family’s mysterious history. After being sucked into the haunting world of GeneCo, she is unable to turn back, as all of her questions will be answered at the wildly anticipated spectacular event: The Genetic Opera. Written by Lionsgate

If there’s one thing that is grossly apparent right off the bat, it’s that Bousman and Zdunich have a lot of respect and love for cult classics such as Rocky Horror Picture Show and also seem influenced by more elegant and classic opera works such as Phantom of the Opera.  There’s even a bit of The Who’s rock opera Tommy in there.  It’s no shock that the mind that helped push the SAW franchise forward would be able to create a Gothic, dystopian future, but credit must be given for slick, yet earthly atmosphere embedded in the sometimes hallucinogenic visuals of the film.  It looks great, period.

Bousman manages to keep the narrative moving along swiftly with great focus, even while dealing with the difficult medium of opera.  That’s right kids, an opera where no word of dialogue is ever simply “said.”  Unlike musicals, where there can be breaks in between musical passages to drive the story home with normal movie dialogue, Bousman ensures that every word is “sung”, which can be very awkward at first when your not expecting it.  It’s difficult to accurately describe, but once you see and hear it you will clearly understand what obstacles must have popped up from this bold and daring choice.  Other than that, Bousman also unleashes some incredibly awesome graphic novel panels to fill us in VERY quickly of a particular characters background.

Paul Sorvino and his shotgun-wielding ninja chick bodyguards.

Paul Sorvino and his shotgun-wielding ninja chick bodyguards.

It may be a tricky type of film to make, but Bousman is a razor-sharp horror producer and director, and knew that if he brought in the right talent, he would have a chance to lure in a slew of fans regardless of the experimental nature of the film.  Paris Hilton (Super Global Slut) , Anthony Head (Giles from the Buffy TV Series), Sarah Brightman (acclaimed opera/classical singer and once married to Lloyd Weber who wrote Phantom of the Opera), Bill Moseley (Of House of 1,000 Corpses and The Devils Rejects fame) and Paul Sorvino round out the eclectic nucleus of the cast.  Terrance Zdunich also has a fairly large role as the Graverobber, and steals the show with his “Zydrate Anatomy” song.  The cast is, like so many aspects of this brave venture into total cult cinema, uneven throughout, with those who can sing clearly being more enjoyable and tolerable than those who can’t, with Alexa Vega and Bill Moseley probably being the two biggest culprits.  Hopefully the star power and notoriety brought by those actors outweighs the damage they have done by simply being the weak links vocally.

Sarah Brightman definitely has some bitchin' pipes.  And she's kinda sexy, in that scary way.  She probably a goddamn witch in real life.

Sarah Brightman definitely has some bitchin' pipes. And she's kinda sexy, in that scary way. She's probably a goddamn witch in real life.

Which leads me to my assessment of the acting itself, which again can be easily defined as uneven.  While some amount of over and under acting is perfectly acceptable in horror, especially in something this theatrical and over the top, but sometimes the cartoon like personalities crossed the line between tasteful and embarrassingly out of place.  At times the actors would play very serious, as if this carried the same weight as The Phantom of the Opera, and at other times it was clear everyone was having fun and things were much more airy and carefree.  I waited for the flick to settle down, and choose a definite mood and direction, but it never did, as it gleefully jumped back and forth between trying to be emotionally heavy and serious, and being grin-worthy, funny and lightweight.  Maybe I am reading to much into something that can’t truly be defined, but I would have loved to see some lines drawn pertaining to acceptable behavior from all characters, as you would with any other film.

She got the creepy, goggley eyes.  Burn at the stake, you kinda-sexy witch.

She's got the creepy, googly eyes. Burn at the stake, you kinda-sexy witch.

The final piece of the Repo puzzle is one that isn’t a very common problem in movies, the soundtrack.  That’s not to say all movies has great soundtracks, but they also don’t rely as heavily as Repo does on its’ music.  So how does the song selection hold up?  Take a guess.

UNEVEN.

Some of the songs, like Zydrate Anatomy and Legal Assassin knock it completely out of the park, while others are either too short or too gimmicky to be considered truly great. While taste is bound to vary from viewer to viewer, I felt the music was acceptable, but could’ve benefitted from maybe one or two ballads complete with verses, chorus, and a bridge and a few more rock and roll anthems.

There's also some gore, which is very well done, but used very rarely.

There's also some gore, which is very well done, but used very rarely.

I, like so many of you, have waited for years, eagerly anticipating this movie to be released in any format, anywhere.  And while it may look and sound like I have nothing but negative things to say about Repo!, I feel it’s a case of me being exceptionally critical of a piece of work I felt had all ingredients to really show the world how versatile the “horror” genre can truly be.  Repo is by no means a failure, but instead comes off as a combination of over-indulgence and lofty ambitions.  It succeeds at what it aimed to do, but the cost for achieving that goal may be a dent in Bousman’s reputation, depending on how this is received in the community.  There’s no doubt in my mind that this vehicle can be used to create an amazing, genre-bending film, but Repo! isn’t that flick.

There’s a lot of psychotropic, semi-gory fun to be had with Repo!, but it’s kinda like looking for a 20 dollar bill in your friends extremely messy room, you know it’s worth it to look, but your gonna have to sift through some shit to get what you want.

21
Nov
08

Dead Set: A Reality TV Show Zombie Mini-Series

Big Brother is watching...you get eaten by Zombies!

Big Brother is watching...you get eaten by Zombies!

Dead Set is a thrilling mini-series that combines two of the most popular things going in TV and movies today, the reality TV show (in this case Big Brother) and zombies.  The style in which this 5 part story is told is similar to Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later series, complete with shaky camera-work and ravenous, feral running zombies.  Personally, I have found the “28” series of zombie movies very underwhelming, and I also haven’t been too big a fan of the idea of  running zombies.  Dead Set, however similar to the aforementioned films it may be, sets itself apart, and is, as far as I can tell, a hidden gem of a horror genre, at least among American audiences.

Dead Set starts off showing the inner workings of reality television.  It’s sort of a nice behind the scenes look which I’m sure has been slightly exaggerated for dramatic effect, but still feels very genuine.  We are introduced to a gaggle of characters, some more important than others.  You’ll immediately begin playing the “Who’s gonna survive game” in your head, which is always a good thing, because it means the actors and the director have already made empathetic characters early on, which winds up being one of the main reasons this series had me in the clutches of suspense for almost 3 hours.

After we get a look at “Eviction Night”, where one of the house guests is sent home, no longer eligible for the prize that awaits the final contestant, we are plunged into a crisis happening right outside the studio, which is an apparent (and unexplained, a classy touch.  No need to always explain why there is zombies) zombie apocalypse.  Chaos ensues, and different sets of the relatively large cast get separated and wind up having to find ways of surviving in and around the studio.

Seeing as house this is a 5 part mini-series, I was slightly skeptical going in how the director and writers were gonna keep up the frenetic pace they started off with.  Fortunately, a combination of clever nods to classic zombie flicks, interesting scenarios and obstacles, and the rule of “anyone can die at any time” meant that I was fully engaged, and holding my hand over my mouth at the conclusion of each episode that always seemed to be a cliffhanger.

Special effects also helps elevate this to near legendary status, with a COMPLETE ABSENCE OF CGI (FUCK YES) and awesome practical gore such as this incredible exploding head.

BOOM! Headshot.

BOOM! Headshot.

There are other surprises as well, all of them really bloody and particularly brutal.  I won’t ruin them for you, but they rival some of the best kills I’ve ever seen in the genre and really stand out.  Make no mistake, just because this is “made for TV” doesn’t mean it wimps out on the hardcore stuff.   its R-Rated goodness should put smiles on the faces of even some hardened horror fans.

Solid, if not a little trendy, directing, good acting, and a storyline that doesn’t wear out it’s welcome while also exploring many possibilities a shorter, 90 minute zombie flick wouldn’t have time to touch on make Dead Set a solid recommendation for someone wanting zombie goodness, with a European flair.  For zombie fans, this is a must see.

Big Brother is watching, and so should you.

What a story she would have to tell in the diary room.

What a story she would have to tell in the diary room.

28
Sep
08

REC – US Remake title: Quarantine

”][REC][REC] starts (below) with a chirpy reporter informing the viewers that they will be spending some time with a local fire brigade to see what they do while the citizens are asleep. Eventually the fire brigade receive a call to attend a block of flats. Reporter in tow, they head for the flats.

yeah, you're not so chirpy and cheery later on!...

yeah, you're not so chirpy and cheery later on...

I should mention that the entire movie is shot with a raw documentary feel, for example at the start we see the reporter fluffing her lines and retrying, and while heading to the flats we see her discussing things with her cameraman. Effectively everything we see is from the cameramans perspective.

As they enter the block of flats the natives are restless and an investigation (with the local Police) begins. Heading in to the offending flat, they discover an old woman, covered in blood, who ends up causing chaos.

Well, that's not a good sign...

Well, that's not a good sign...

I don’t want to give too much away, but if you watch this movie with the lights out, you’d better have a change of underwear at the ready.

The group, loosely led by one of the Police, try to leave the block of flats but are trapped inside. Loud speakers outside tell them they are, effectively, in a contaminated zone and would be shot if they try to leave. As if that’s not bad enough, things get much worse! The virus which is wreaking havok is pretty much a zombie virus, anyone bitten by a carrier becomes a mad, rabid, zombie. Unfortunately, none of the people trapped in the block of flats know this…

That room either houses a nasty virus, or it's home to an S&M party. Either way, it's not good!

That room either houses a nasty virus, or it's home to an S&M party. Either way, it's not good!

Again, I don’t want to spoil things, so I won’t go any further with the storyline. The movie was shot on a shoestring budget which, rather than making things look bad, it’s made them look better, the director has obviously gone the route of ingenuity to solve budget problems. Special effects are sparse but when they appear they are very well done. Yes, a lot of scenes are shaky-cam, but it is justified and done to intentionaly disorientate and jar us.

*sound of underwear being soiled*

*sound of my underwear being soiled*

[REC] is an awesome movie. I saw the English subtitled version, I’m told there’s a dubbed version which I would only recommend to slow readers as I find dubbing annoying, they seem to have a knack for picking the wrong voice actors. Before it could be released in the UK, [REC] was grabbed by Hollywood for a remake (Quarantine) which is due out sometime this year. I recommend you see the original in all it’s glory, then you can laugh at the inevitable rubbish remake. [REC] is a cracking film that is text book in it’s frights and doesn’t even come close to needing a remake!

I dare you to watch it, late at night, with the lights out…

21
Sep
08

Internet Oddities

The internet is full of weird shit, perfect for us obscure cinema freaks who are looking for a quick fix, something to show our friends, or just a strange way to kill some time.

Here’s some stuff i found particularly odd or awesome, I hope you like it.  If this goes over well, I’ll consider making this a series.

Turn the volume up a bit for this one. Banned Claymation thing.

Tim Burton before we knew what he was capable of.

If this is a clever hoax, the guy on the phone is the best voice actor I have ever heard.

So much innuendo.

Gore. Overload.