Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Comics - Enemy Ace: War in Heaven (2001)

 I needed the top of my sideboard back so I decided that I'd better file away the stack of comics that had built up there.
 Which meant I had to reshuffle the ones I already had in that particular box...
Which resulted in me sitting on the floor of my front room, surrounded by comics I'd forgotten about, having a good, ole reading session.
 I got my sideboard back eventually but I now have a pile of comics to reread sitting on my kitchen bookshelf.
 Anyway, I found a couple of things that seemed worth a blog post, one of them being "Amazon Gazonga" and the other being...

 1942. Great War fighter ace Hans Von Hammer reluctantly takes up arms again. Although he has lost none of his old skill, as the war grinds on Von Hammer begins to believe that he is fighting for the wrong side...

  Garth Ennis has been on a one-man mission to revive the classic War Comic and this 2 issue revival of the 1960s/70s character may well be his earliest foray into the genre.  As with his later series' (War Stories and Battlefields) "War in Heaven" mixes bloody mayhem with thoughtful musings about the stupidity of it all. There's maybe less dark humour than sometimes pops up elsewhere but it is there.
  Von Hammer  is, I think, typical of a lot of WW2 German officers - loathing the Nazi regime but serving because it was their duty and otherwise Germany would fall before the wrath of her enemies.
  And he's that classic war hero - the man who's good at killing but isn't actually happy about it.
       So the writing is intelligent and powerful. I also like the art. The action sequences especially:
  Possibly a bit too graphic for some tastes though.
  Although if you read this series and get the idea that war is something a sane human would enjoy then you really didn't get the point.
  So I like this series a lot. I personally think that Garth Ennis always does a good job in depicting the brutality of war but making his characters people I can care about. And so it is here.
  If you fancy a war comic that isn't afraid to show the blood and guts, or you wanted to see what "Das Boot" might look like if it were about the Luftwaffe, give War In Heaven a try.

 That's all folks.

Monday, 27 May 2013

The Metal Project: No Rhyme, No reason - only Metal

The Metal Project is my quest to find every single metal song on Youtube that has "Metal" in the title. 

 By my reckoning I'm about three posts away from hitting the 1000 song mark. Wow.

Anyway, here's a selection of songs, chosen at random and presented for your perusal. Enjoy.

Dekapitator - Hell's Metal (USA 1999)

(Rampaging Thrash )
Honour to; thrasherCy

Midnight Sun- Metal Machine (Sweden 2001)

(Very definitely from the more melodic end of the spectrum. 
The lead singer went on to front The Poodles which might explain why they sound so similiar.)
Honour to: ProgPower

Angry Angels - Metal Crusaders (Austria 1999)

(Unrelenting 80s Teutonic Metal)
Honour to: DescentOfMadness

Mighty Thor - Hermanos Del Metal (Mexico 2008)

(Anthemic & melodic  Trad Metal)
  Honour to: 6candia6metal6

Shellshock - Screaming For Metal (Norway 1988-ish)

(Has that heads-down NWOBHM vibe to it.)
Honour to: heavymetaller1978

Sweet Roxx - (You Can Be involved In A) Metal Massacre (USA 1984)

(Somewhere in between 80s LA Glam and 80s US Metal)
Honour to: mulletaimer

Quintessenz - Okkult Metal Spell (Germany 2012)

(Punky Black/Thrash a la Venom)
Honour to: HeavyMetalSturmtrupp

and finally

Lords Of The Trident - The Metal Sea (USA 2011)

(A sort of trad metal sea shanty and works quite well.)
Honour to: lordsofthetrident
Band homepage:
Entertaining band. Go check them out.  

That's all folks

Friday, 24 May 2013

A Fistful of Comics - May

When I was stooging  about Southampton last weekend I swung by Forbidden Planet and snagged a bagfull of comics, largely based on the cover art. Here's a quick rundown on each one.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Terrible Metal Album Covers - Chapter 15.

 When I sat down at the keyboard a moment ago I wasn't entirely sure what I was going to post about.  I did have this vague plan to talk about PE Teachers (and why they all need to be nailed to the door of their own gym) but I'm still working on my arguments.
 So until then, here's a fistful of album covers that might, in some parallel universe, be considered a valid artistic statement.
 Just not in this one.
Usual caveat applies: Terrible artwork does not mean terrible band.

 Shylock - Devotion (Germany 2007)

horrible heavy metal album cover, man with speaker for a head
On the positive side if this album had come out 20 years ago you'd get a badly drawn French maid
getting cozy with a badly drawn Speaker-Man instead of dubious poser creativity.
 Anybody else thinking this looks like one of the sillier villains from The Tick?
 Chairface Chippendale's rocker cousin, maybe. 
Memo to self: When we're done here, remind me to go look for some episodes of the Tick cartoon. That series was brilliant.
Another band that's technically not Heavy Metal but screw it.  

Salute - Heart Of The machine (Sweden 2010)

terrible rock album cover
More proof that technology just gave people brand new ways to create terrible things.

V/A Rave On Hits Hard (Netherlands 1985)

album cover women with horse.
Three off-duty fetish models gatecrash a party. Please don't ask me why they have a horse.
The answer will probably be disturbing. 
On the subject of disturbing, the young lady to the left of the pic (in the interesting trousers)
seems to have her head replaced by a conker. 
And the brunette stripper really needs to get some new shoes. They're worn right through, poor thing. 

Death - Symbolic (USA 1995)

"awful metal album covers"
The late Chuck Schuldiner is rightfully regarded as a pioneer of Death Metal, an innovator who took it into new areas and a gifted musician. 
This album cover is still a bit rubbish though.  

Bad Steve - Killing the Night (Germany 1985)

Killing the night...with an unplugged,guitar, a pained scream and
some trousers that offend my eyes. 
Except it's broad daylight numbnuts!

Metal Church - Hanging In The Balance (USA 1993)

horrible thrash metal album cover
I'd love to know how much damage this abomination did to Metal Church's career.
Oh dearie, dearie me.

And lastly

Druid - Vampire Cult (USA 1989)

I think the artist was going for "Menacing" but accidentally came up with the cheeriest vampire-cult axe murderer in history. I also  don't really get why they are rocking the topknot look or why there is a really big skull parked in the corner for no apparent reason.

That's all folks.

Monday, 20 May 2013

The Metal Project: Eurovision Metal Contest 2013

The Metal Project: Heavy Metal songs about Metal. Found on Youtube and gathered in one place for your entertainment.

 I haven't done a Metal Project post in a while and since the Eurovision Song Contest was on Saturday, why not offer a more metallic spin on the affair?

  I'm going to try and limit songs to things within the last 5 years or so but don't hold me to that.
 And let's start with this year's hosts.

Bloodbound - In The Name Of Metal (2012)

Honour to: VainVinylJunkie

Hell Darkness - Old Riffs Metal (2010)

Honour to: Hellbounder1349

The Gate - Shout For Metal (2011)

Honour to: thegatetometal

Wild - Heavy Metal (Es Mi Religion) (2011)

Honour to: DarkPex

Nightqueen - For Queen And Metal (2012)

Honour to: nightfairyful

Mesetiah - Blood Metal (Headbang 'Till You Bleed) (2009)

Honour to: madc89

Ares - About Metal (2009)

Honour to: EyesRebell

Hellcats - Heavy Metal (2010)

Honour to: metalsana

Gauntlet- Hearts Of Metal (2013)


And finally.

Leather Synn - Committed To Metal (2013)

Honour to: carlosmiguelfaria

Let me know which one YOU think deserves to win. 

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Solent Sky - Southampton's Aviation Museum

  A bus ride away from the centre of Southampton - and tucked away behind a semi-derelict building -  is the Solent Sky museum. In truth it's not the biggest museum I've ever been to but as we shall see, they manage to pack quite a lot into a building the size of a school gym.
The Museum from the outside.
Walk in through the gift shop and turn the corner and you suddenly get...

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Film Review: Megaforce (1982) - Prime 80s Cheesy Goodness.

Barry Bostwick in a shiny jumpsuit
Michael Beck with a Texas accent
Persis Khambatta with hair
Edward Mulhare in a beret
Henry Silva with a cool beard

  Megaforce is a top secret elite fighting force - the best soldiers the Free World can offer, armed with the very latest high-tech weaponry and led by the flamboyant Ace Hunter.
  It's never really explained why they all wear shiny jumpsuits with (apparently) nothing underneath.
  When the Republic of Sardun is repeatedly attacked by their Gamibian neighbours, led by the dastardly Duke Guerera, Megaforce is sent into Gamibia to take out Guerera's army. 
 But when the mission suddenly becomes a political embarrassment, Hunter and his force find themselves in a world of trouble.

You have to feel sorry for Michael Beck. After "Xanadu" (writeup  HERE) torpedoed his career, he was probably looking for something to get things back on track. "I have just the thing. " said his agent. " An action comedy with lots of cool cars and bikes. The kids will love it."
"What's it called?"

 Sadly Megaforce failed commercially and critically, earning Michael Beck another Razzie Award (Worst Supporting Actor) to sit alongside the one he earned for Xanadu. It also picked up the coveted Razzies for Worst film and Worst Director.

  To be fair, this film presents a snarker with plenty to aim at. It can best be described as what "The Wild Geese" might have turned out like if it had been funded by a toy company and starred a motorcycle display team.
  Bostwick, Beck and Silva ham it up like they're going for a gold medal in the Olympic Hamathon,  you know you're doing something wrong when the GI Joe cartoon is a better depiction of an elite military force, and then there's the one scene everybody who's ever seen Megaforce will remember forever. (More on that later.)
 The whole thing really is too daft for words. 

 I really shouldn't have enjoyed it so much.
I enjoyed this film when I first saw it (somewhere back in the mid 80s) and much to my amazement, quite enjoyed the experience of watching it again last night.

 Once you embrace the essential silliness - and if you cope with a spandex clad Barry Bostwick throwing heroic poses at every possible opportunity - then this is a fun film. The producers didn't skimp on the toy budget (there's some countries can't field that many tanks.) and certainly didn't skimp on the "making things go bang" budget. Bros-turned-foes Bostwick and Silva turn in the most affable military commanders in the history of film and let's face it, there's a small part of even the most jaded man that thinks motorbikes with rocket launchers and machine guns are freaking awesome.
 Oh wait. Motorbikes with missiles & machine guns that fly!

 Megaforce. Daft but surprisingly entertaining.

 I suppose I really ought to do some screenshots too.
Megaforce - protecting the Free World against the evil balloon Menace.

Persis asks "What kind of movie are we in again?"

 Ace and the lovely Major Zara share a touching moment
It's kinda spoilt for me by...
 Oh hello there. 
Megaforce break stuff.
Megaforce laugh at the idea of camouflage.
And personal weapons
And underwear.
 Ace and Guerera: a beautiful bromance.
Gold spandex, wellies and headband. Not a look everybody can pull off.
Dunebuggies with fricking laser beams.
I wants one.
 Well that's pretty isn't it?
For a brief period in the 80s,  headbands were manly as all hell. 
If the flying bike didn't convince you, here's the trailer.
That's all folks.  

Monday, 13 May 2013

Been Reading: Richard Reinsmith - The Savage Stars (1981)

 The blurb from the back cover. 
"War erupts with a vicious alien race that is scattered across galaxies. The USS Corsair, severely damaged, is forced to land on an uncharted world inhabited only by savage animals.
  The ship is permanently down, and it was carrying no supplies. The three hundred crew members are not trained in colonisation. Somehow, they must survive. soon, and with much pain, a society evolves - one that mankind has never before seen.
 After hundreds of years, the rigid and repressive society has created a distinct class structure - Guiders, Techs, Hunters, Tree people...but a violent and full-scale revolution is close at hand"

Which is a wee bit misleading.
 The early days of the colony are covered with a few brief diary entries and then only to explain how the current society has evolved.
At no point do hostile aliens show up and the only thing remotely resembling the book cover is a brief scene midway through that quickly skips past into something else.  There is at least one woman in a bikini though.

 So,  here's what actually happens:
  The Human colonists on the planet have essentially split into two cultures:  The citizens of Homebase have all the tech and all the women and use both to keep the rest - a collection of semi-barbaric forest tribes - in line.
  Tiger Hunter Eric has become enamoured of the lovely Alicia after his hard-earned night with her. He decides that he's going to take her away from her tower in Homebase, preferably with her consent but if all else fails, he'll tie her hands together and sling her over his shoulder.
In the process of running off with Alicia, Eric inadvertently triggers an uprising by the forest tribes before meeting up with a long-lost colony who may just have a way of getting back into space.

  This might have the makings of an entertaining tale if the author hadn't tried to cram the whole thing into 192 pages.

  There's a lot of plot elements that get introduced in the first 80% of the book - the imminent hostilities between the Forest tribes and the Homebase ... a captured young woman plots revenge on the man who's tortured and abused her ... Alicia and Eric find their relationship under strain - but towards the end the story is being told in little snapshots that don't really hang together. It's like setting a DVD to randomly skip every other scene. You can still get the sense of what's going on but you don't half miss a lot.
  After I finished this I went online just to see if there was a sequel that tied everything up.  Nope.
This is all you get. Fill in the blanks yourself. (Personally I've decided that in my version of the story at least one character gets a much happier ending and isn't brutally dumped out of the plot to make way for a new love-interest. Which doesn't go anywhere anyway.)

 So, potentially interesting story that's let down by the author not quite finishing the damn story, as well as....another slight issue.

  Normally this is the sort of book I read once then leave on the bus but since one scene is right out of the nastier "Gor" books I can't even do that. (Trust me, it really isn't very nice.)

I paid £1 for this. I can't in all conscience say it was worth it.

Friday, 10 May 2013

My Top Ten...N.W.O.B.H.M

 My last top ten was devoted to a genre synonymous with being polished and radio friendly. This time around...not so much.
 If you already know what NWOBHM stands for,  skip ahead to the songs. We'll catch up in a bit.
  The NWOBHM (New Wave of British Heavy Metal) was, simply put, Heavy Metal's reaction to Punk.  A new generation of bands took Punk's DIY ethos to heart and began cranking out independent singles and EPs at an astonishing rate. If a town had enough long-haired herberts so support a biker pub then they probably had at least one band dreaming of a Friday Rock Show session.  Many never got further than flogging a 7" out of the back of a transit van after playing yet another toilet but a few went on to do very nicely indeed and it's fair to say that today's metal scene owes a lot to the NWOBHM in all sorts of ways. Just ask Lars Ulrich.

 As with the AOR post, I've deliberately omitted the NWOBHM's Big Three. Joe Elliott gets very cross if you call Def Leppard NWOBHM while if you don't know who Iron Maiden and Saxon are, you probably stopped reading once the words "Heavy Metal" cropped up. So here's ten of my favourite tracks from an era that changed Heavy Metal forever.

 Trespass - Stormchild (1980)

A classy band that really should have gone further .
Here's a majestic track off the semi-legendary Metal For Muthas II sampler .
Dammit, I love that intro.

Honour to: IvanFinestreNWOBHM

Baseline - Suspended Animation (1981)

A band I'd never even heard of until 6 months ago and I've been cranking
this song ever since. Youtube really does throw up some treasures sometimes.

Honour to: Rostere

Jameson Raid - Catcher In The Rye (1979)

The production isn't exactly state of the art but these Brummies still manage to 
pull off this quirky, driving ode to quiet desperation. Recently reformed.

Honour to: psychotron9 

Hammer - Caution To The Wind (1985)

A Cleveland band with an album cover that  suggests a much darker band than in reality.
You can't help noticing that Heavy Metal started playing a lot more fast songs after
Punk changed the rules. Like this powerful little number that sees the keyboard 
player trading licks with the guitarist for the solo. Marvellous.

Honour to; paradisebeyond1982

Talking of fast...

Tysondog - Taste The Hate (1986)

I have no idea what they were putting in the water in the North East but not only did
the ridiculously fertile local scene spawn a small army of bands, the likes of Venom, Raven, 
Warfare and the curiously named Tysondog came up with a sound that was fast, nasty and
 right up in yer face, ready to deliver a headbutt. You could argue that Geordies created Thrash Metal.
Incidentally you might want to track down another Tysondog  track - the one minute, ten seconds of lunacy that is "T.W.A.T"

Honour to: inmoderate

Fist - The Watcher (1980)

More Tynesiders but much more melodic this time around. IMHO an underrated
outfit with a pair of underrated guitarists, seen here to good effect on this track.

Honour to: FoggySpruce

Bitches Sin - Ain't Life a Bitch? (1985)

A Cumbrian band with a name that probably did them no favours
(Although there were worse - Ethel The Frog? Really?)
On this track they put their heads down and go for it, culminating in one of those frenzied solos
where the guitarist is always on the verge of losing control and quite possibly a finger.

Honour to; montooken

Black Axe - Edge Of The World (1981)

How often do you get to hear two bands from Cumbria?  Especially good ones?
A catchy track from the Friday Rock Show sampler.

Honour to: IvanStryper 

Taurus - Paper Chaser (1980)

A band that only managed a single outing on vinyl and that was another Friday Rock Show sampler. 
I'm always a sucker for a good guitar duel and on this tasty bit of Quo-fistfighting-Skynyrd
guitar boogie  the boys are going toe to toe, sneering "Is that all you got."

Honour to; RekifuneRiver

And finally

Tygers Of Pan Tang - Love Don't Stay (1981)

You can neatly divide the Tygers' career into three sections.
Pre-John Sykes
John Sykes
Post-John Sykes.
Others may quibble but I love the two albums Sykes did with TOPT before he went on
to bigger and better things with  Thin Lizzy and Whitesnake. Here's why:

Honour to: BarbaricBulldog

 For this list I sat down and listed the first ten songs that came to mind and it says a lot about how much great music came out of this era that there's at least a dozen songs I could have posted instead.
So, honourable mentions to: Demon, Raven, Wolf, Marseille, White Spirit, Quartz, Triarchy, Samson, Slender Thread, Dark Star, Praying Mantis, Rock Goddess, Girlschool, Oxym and anyboy else that's almost certainly going to pop back into my memory going "Hey. I'm an awesome song. Why didn't you post me, numbnuts?"

Edit: I came back and played with this post, reinstalling some vids that had fallen off.

That's all folks.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Heavy Metal Cover Girls - Magical Maidens

  I had a number of possibilities for today's collection of album covers. Female Demons, Female Angels, women with violins, women who seem to be standing around nekkid for no apparent reason...I could even put together a selection of covers devoted to close ups of bums. (That would be the British meaning of the word.)
 But for now I'm going to go with the purveyors of the mystic arts. Whether these ladies are Good Witches or Bad Witches is up to you but personally, I suspect that the less clothing she has on, the more likely she is to be up to something.

 Doro & Warlock - Rare Diamonds (Germany 1991)

 Doro album cover magic
   Technically being a warlock requires possessing
 a penis but if Metal Queen Doro wants to be
 a female warlock, then I'm not going to argue.

Icarus Witch - Draw Down The Moon (USA 2010)

sexy witch album cover 
Why do witches never bother with protective clothing? 
A decent pair of gloves would probably come in handy right now.

 Aquaria - Shamballa (Brazil 2007)

I'm not sure if this is one of the good girls or not.
There's an ambiguous look in her eyes that 
suggests she's contemplating what to do to you.
If she starts like hell!

Arctic Flame - Shake The Earth (USA 2012)

witch summons demon
 Ah now this is definitely not the sort of witch that dishes
out poultices and cures toothache. After all, I struggle to
 see how a fire demon from the Outer Realms would 
be helpful in sorting out somebody's dodgy back molar.

Here's what the band sound like. Not bad.

Black Capricorn - S/T (Italy 2011)

Witch drumming cauldron
 Sabbath-loving Italian Doomsters with a cover that's cartoony
but, you know what? I quite like it. At least she's worked out that 
she's less likely to get Cauldron Rash if she dresses appropriately.

There's a song on this album called " The Maelmhaedhoc O'Morgair Prophecy"
It doesn't seem to be on Youtube. sadly. 

Dark Moor - Tarot (Spain 2007)

sorceress tattooed
If you look closely, you'll see that her pants are broken
and she's holding them up with one hand.

Helloween - Better Than Raw (Germany 1998)

Helloween witch CD
Well that's an accident waiting to happen, isn't it?

And lastly, not actually by a Heavy Metal band unless your definition is very, very loose 
but screw it, I'm posting this anyway. 

Ten - Spellbound (UK 1999)

Sorceress and dragon
And the obvious question is:

Is the lovely lady in white trying to banish the dragon..

Or is she the one summoning it in the first place?

 That's it for now.

I might even do the "Bums" post next time.

Monday, 6 May 2013

My Top Ten... AOR Songs.

  This isn't the post I originally had planned but until I can figure out how to scan an A3 pic with a scanner that's not-quite-A4 you're just going to have to wait on the infamous "Judge Anderson Page 3" pinup.
  I haven't ever done a "Top Ten" post before and since the summer is finally here I thought I'd  delve into the more melodic corner of my music tastes.
  In all fairness the title should really be "Top Ten AOR songs that aren't by Journey. Or Foreigner. Or Boston. Or Survivor." as I'm planning to put up some songs that don't get on Radio 2 and rarely appear on those "Ultimate Classic Rock" CDs you can get in Tescos.
Let's start with a British band.

Dare - Abandon

(Out Of The Silence - UK-1989)

Featuring Darren Wharton (Ex Thin Lizzy)  Dare were tipped for big things when they arrived 
on the scene but for one reason or another, it just never happened.
Interestingly, the first two albums featured science poster-boy Brian Cox on keys.
This was the lead single from the debut and proves you can rock with a keytar.
Honour to: MelodicRockAnthem

Spider - New Romance (It's A Mystery)

(Spider - USA/South Africa - 1980)

Holly Knight went on to write hits for all kinds of people but here's where she got her start, 
writing, playing keys and doing the all-important backup "Ooohhs" for this bouncy track.

Honour to: VagasFirebird

Boulevard - Lead Me On

(Into the Street - Canada - 1990)

I've always had this theory that using the word "Boulevard" in a song automatically makes it AOR.
(Up until Green Day cocked that up anyway.) so a band actually called Boulevard are going to deliver.
 And they do just that with this lush piece of pomp rock from the 2nd album. 
Honour to: Geemon06

Nelson - After The Rain

(After The Rain - USA-1990)

Blonde pretty-boys the Nelson twins got a lot of flak on their debut...mainly for being
blonde pretty-boys. Nice hair aside, the first album is essential summery AOR.
(This version of the promo video omits the overlong dramatic intro. You're welcome.)
Honour to: ThomasRBVA

Giuffria - Out of the Blue

(Giuffria -USA-1984

Another band put together by a keyboard player, in this case Angel's white-clad keyboard
 maestro Gregg Giuffria. Not surprisingly they're heavy on the synths and especially on
 this atmospheric track. Which, unusually for AOR, manages to get quite sinister at times. 
Honour to: ItaloDiscoFreak77

Giant - Stay

(Time To Burn -USA-1992)

Featuring producer/ master guitarist Dann Huff, Giant had a couple of minor hits with their first album 
but by the time the follow up arrived Grunge had kicked the legs out from under melodic rock.
Oh well. Enjoy the song, enjoy the tasty solo and contemplate things that could have been.
Honour to: GiantVEVO

Private Life - Last Heartbeat

(Shadows -USA-1988)

Despite being championed by Eddie Van Halen - he produced their first album and took them
 on tour - this female fronted crew eased smoothly into "Cult favourites" 
Personally I reckon Kelly Breznik's powerful  vocals need  a wee bit more recognition.
Fun fact: "Touch me" off the second album was covered by Tia Carrere for the "Waynes World" movie.  
Honour to: nasul43

Honeymoon Suite - Say You Don't Know Me

(Monsters under the Bed -Canada - 1991)

 This Niagara Falls ensemble appeared on the soundtracks to Lethal Weapon, Miami Vice, One Crazy Summer 
and The Wraith but were always more successful in their homeland than abroad.
 I had to sit down and think about which song I wanted as there's plenty to choose from, 
mostly on the first two albums, but in the end I went with this underrated rocker from album #4.

Honour to: AOR Spirit

Incidentally, I waited 20 years for a chance to see these guys live and believe me, it was worth it.  

Shooting Star - Train Rolls On

(Burning - USA - 1983)

Like REO Speedwagon, a band that started off as blue-collar rockers before evolving into something smoother. 
Here's a poignant piece from the fourth album.
Honour to; LinkHawk316

And to finish, another British band.

Vega - Kiss of Life

(Kiss of Life - UK-2010)

AOR may be unfashionable but it refuses to go away. 
There's been a number of young hopefuls  popping up in recent years, 
including this UK crew that manage to take the classic sound and make it fresh again.
Honour to: FrontiersRecords

 There's all sorts of bands that I'd have posted if I didn't mind this turning into a "Top 30." instead.
White Sister. Harlequin. Romeos Daughter. Aviary. Refugee. Dragon. White Widdow. Alexa. Crown of Thorns, 707, Fiona.... Maybe next time.

That's all folks.

PS. I had to reload the videos.
That sucked.

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Cheapo DVD Reviews: Low Blow (1986)


Leo Fong
Cameron Mitchell
Diane Stevenett
Troy Donahue
Akosua Busia
Patty Bowling
Stack Pierce
Woody Farmer
Elaine Hightower
Manny Dela Pena
David Cochran

Joe Wong is a former cop now scraping by as a private eye. When rich businessman John Templeton witnesses Joe kicking the crap out of a pair of purse-snatchers, he decides that he's found the right man to find his missing daughter. Joe traces the girl to a secretive cult who've set up their own commune but after an initial investigation goes pear-shaped, he decides he needs some backup. Recruiting a team of hardcases, including an ex-wrestler, a washed up boxer, a female bodybuilder and a knifefighting street gangster, Joe Wong is going to pay a certain commune another visit and this time he's not leaving empty handed.

  Before I start on the film itself, let me quickly mention the soundtrack: It consists almost entirely of the sort of sub-"Miami Vice" dreck that would plague films for years afterwards - all ambient synths and processed squealing guitar - and plays over each and every scene regardless of what's happening on screen. It will get right on your tits in no time.

  The film itself is... well there's a song called "Acceptable in the 80s" and it describes "Low Blow" rather well.  In fact, you could easily rejig the whole thing as an "A-Team" or "Fall Guy" episode just by toning down the final assault on the compound.
 Incidentally during said assault, one of the gun-toting bad guys has Joe Wong stood right in front of him at point blank range...
... And promptly drops the gun snarling "I'll kill you with my bare hands." Even by 80s standards this is a bit corny, especially since the resulting fight is not exactly Bruce Lee v Chuck Norris.
 Really, the cult do not come across as the smartest bunch in the world. The guards are all low-rent goons in vests and since the religious message equates to vague mumblings about peace and love, the cultees seem to be people that would follow the postman if he said hello in a vaguely meaningful way.
 Cult Leader Yarakunda comes across as a tragic, slightly confused figure who clearly has no idea what's going on. It's his girlfriend/deputy/oracle Karma that calls the shots and snatches up most of the scenery-chewing that's available.  And we know she's just in it for the dosh as Joe strolls into a university lecture just as the professor is telling his class this very thing.  That was convenient, wasn't it?
 "Low Blow" sort of ambles along at cruising speed, dropping in a fight every now an again to justify the "Action movie" tag. There's even a pit-fighting tournament, ostensibly to help Joe recruit his army but mainly to allow the director to sneak in a couple of ninja and some fat blokes mud-wrestling.
 Mind you, I did like the bit where a couple of Karma's goons go after Joe on his farm. He spends ten minutes or so messing with them then when they decide they don't want to play anymore and scuttle back to their car, uses an angle-grinder to turn it into a convertible. Inventive.
 The finale is standard fare: The good guys pick off the guards, most of whom are terminally inattentive, grab the girl and piss off again. It's OK I suppose.
  So, to sum up:

How much did I pay for it: £1.50
Was it worth it? Well it kept me vaguely interested for an hour and a bit, I suppose."Low Blow" is neither an undiscovered classic nor cheesy enough for comedy value. Watch if you have an afternoon spare, it's raining outside and your entire DVD collection has been eaten by a Rottweiler.

 Time for some screencaps. 
 These two show up all through the movie and get their asses kicked every single time. What else do you expect from somebody who thinks that hat and that windbreaker are a good combination? 
Basically the cult attracts people in need of spiritual comfort or answers to life's questions
And uses them as cheap labour.  
While an overacting woman harangues them with a mike.
She really gets into it too.
Yarakunda dispenses his message of peace and love.
Crazy chick and large men in wifebeaters stand by to make sure people pay attention -  or else.
This pretty much sums up the relationship between Karma and Yarakunda.
Poor sod really has no idea does he? 
Joe converts a Merc into a convertible. The owners are still in it at this point which doesn't  
seem very OHSA complaint but at least Joe is wearing the proper safety glasses. 
Mud Wrestling. You're doing it wrong.
Bad director. Bad director.  Go stand in the corner and think about what you did.
 I have no idea why a pair of Ninja show up for this scene, 
especially since neither of them ever appear again.
Joe briefs his team. None of them seem too bothered by the news that the opposition has guns.
Personally I'd be like "I have a black belt. How's that supposed to stop a frigging bullet, genius?"

(I don't really have a black belt, just so's you know. I'd love to have a black belt but when it comes down to it, martial arts training involves lots of exercise and being punched in the face, neither of which really suits me. I can get really sarcastic when I want to, though.) 

Yeah. Could this be any more 80s?
That's a woman, by the way. 
 And Joe delivers the dreaded Double Cock Punch to a pair of hapless goons.

  Trailer here if you're interested.

That's all folks.

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