Saturday, 30 January 2016

Cheapo DVD Review: The Black Cobra 2 (1989)

Chicago Detective Robertt Malone (Fred Wlliamson) is a big,scary black man who smokes a cigar and shoots criminals in the face.  

 After getting in trouble for shooting yet another criminal in the face (he got blood all over a rich, white woman's face and fur coat) Malone is packed off to The Philippines as part of an Interpol exchange. 
  As soon as he arrives Malone stumbles into something that starts off with a stolen wallet and escalates into stolen money and a terrorist plot. 

 After doing some actual detecting, bonding awkwardly with the local liaison and his photogenic family, and getting to know a beautiful lounge singer that people keep trying to kidnap, Malone saves the day by shooting people in the face. 
Except for that one guy who got shot in the dick. 

  You have to love this glorious example of 1980s video box art. Breathe deeply and you can smell the manliness coming off it. I don't know why there's three blokes on the cover. The psycho with the assault rifle definitely never shows up in this movie. 

 "Black Cobra 2" is the sort of thing video shops used to fill up the bottom shelves. I'm convinced that they never got an actual release date - and Christ knows that nobody ever walked up to the counter and asked "When is Black Cobra 2 coming in?" - but instead were delivered by the pallet load when a new Blockbuster  opened up. 
"I got your delivery right here. 200 generic action movies with covers that make them look cooler than they a re. Guaranteed to give your customers an inadequate night's entertainment and irresistible bait for lovers of 80s Cheeseorama."

  Guilty as charged. I certainly wasn't expecting a hidden gem but I did have this vague hope of something entertainingly stupid. This movie fails on both counts. 

Black Cobra 2 is generic in every single way,except for the fight scenes which are appallingly bad.  The Original Star Trek series had a better handle on martial arts,for heaven's sake.  Even by 1980s C-movies standards Fred Wlliamson is a stiff, clumsy fighter and as an extended opening sequence proves, running isn't exactly his forte either. 

 In other regards Black Cobra does a bunch of things already done a hundred times over and usually much better. Pick an 80s cop movie. Either better than this or stupid enough to be watchable for laughs. 

How much did I pay for this? 50p
Was it worth it? A firm "No". This is a dull film that's not worth watching on any level.  

The only positive thing to come out of this experience is knowing that I did you a favour. 

Because one day you might have picked up this DVD and thought "That might be fun." 

I just spared you from that. You're welcome.

That's all folks. 

Thursday, 28 January 2016

DVD Review: Starship Rising (2014)


  Two empires at war: The corrupt Federation, and the oppressive Terra Nostra. Entire planets are being wiped out. When the order is given to destroy the Earth, Federation Flight Lieutenant John worthy refuses to carry out the order and kills his superior officer and mutineers Starship One.

  Demanding that both sides make peace, he becomes the target of both sides of the war. Worthy aligns himself with an underground rebellion where he meets Jolli, a beautiful gun-toting star pilot and together they risk everything to end the horrible war, and discover a forbidden truth that will shake the foundations of the entire galaxy."

 Before I get on with my review, I'd like to get a couple of things off my chest.

Firstly: "Mutineer" is a person not an action. He is a mutineer. She is a mutineer. They are mutineers. None of them "Mutineer" anything.  You can do a lot with the English language - it's flexible that way - but there is a point where you are just taking the piss and we just went past that.

Secondly: While it's refreshing that the DVD cover and blurb do bear some resemblance to the actual movie, I feel the decision to put Jolli front and centre is less about her role in the movie and more about her being blonde, female and photogenic.
 Truthfully, you could have cut her entire character out of the film and not lost anything beyond a halfhearted attempt at a romantic subplot.  (She kisses Worthy twice which feels painfully forced both times.)

And now the film.


  Starship Rising is ambitious, I'll give it that. Maybe too ambitious. As well as John Worthy's Klingon promotion to Captain, there's a brewing interstellar war, some backroom shenanigans, an all-female resistance movement plotting an uprising, and last but not least, something about a search for the DNA of an extinct race.

 All this would have been great if Starship Rising had the execution to match the vision and this it does not.

 The film is a confusing mess of plotlines bouncing back and forth, with characters that I couldn't root for or give a shit about and while the starship designs are nice, overall the visual effects are substandard, which makes the space dogfights look substandard too.

  Here's how you really, really know you aren't enjoying a film.   When you check to see how much time is left to go and groan when you discover there's 30 minutes left.

  It's not even fun to watch in an ironic pisstaking way. Although I could probably say something cutting about the costume design. Somebody thought the best way to really bring home the SF-ness of the movie would be to give all the cast jackets with lots of plastic bits and hoses glued on in random order.

  Look at the DVD cover again. Contemplate Jolli's jacket, with the strange hose attachments.  It gets worse round the back, trust me. You find yourself asking how anybody moves with all that shit on.  

  As a final wasp-sting on the eyelid, it turns out that the producers didn't manage to get their epic storyline done in one movie and a tagline promises that it will be continued in Pt2.

I can't see myself bothering, somehow.

To sum up: Starship Rising bites off more than it can chew and chokes on it.
Not recommended unless you have a fetish for hoses.    

That's all folks. 

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

The Metal Project: Welcome to 2016

Hello and welcome my metal-loving brethren. 
Time for another casually chosen selection of headbanging goodies.  Enjoy,.

Gehennah The Metal Police (Sweden 2014)

(Gritty, punk-laced thrash)

Honour to: Metal Blade Records

Flagelador - Unidos Pelo Metal (Brazil 2006)

(Enthusiastic Thrash)

Honour to: sniderthrash

A Monumental Black Statue - MMIII Black Metal Overdose (Italy 2015)

Honour to: FB Metal Groups

Eudoxis - Metal Fix (Canada 1986)

(80s speed Metal that's let down by the production - a shame because they aren't bad.)

Honour to: MalcatoVintage

Blood Slut - Metal Warrior (USA 2011)

(I'm fairly certain this is a two man bedroom project and I don't normally do those but with a name like Blood Slut, how could I resist?  I quite like the solo too)

 Honour to: thraxman

Metalforce- Metal Crusaders (Germany 2009)

(Power metal from the once and future "Majesty" I never did find out why they changed their name.)

Honour to: Vrazzolo:

Gatekrashor - Heavy Metal Rangers (Canada 2014)

(The band name should have umlauts in it but I don't know how to do those.)

Honour to: Gatekrashor

Hammerlord - Metallization (USA 2008)

(A track that starts with a cry of "Bang your head" is OK by me.)

Honour to: Hammerlordchannel

That's all folks. 

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Women's Wrestling Comics: Scorer

I write about a lot of things on this blog - It is called "Assorted Thoughts..." after all - but there's one topic that always goes down well and it combines two of my favourite things. Comics and Wrestling. Women's wrestling to be exact.

 So it it's rather fortunate that while I was digging around in a suitcase full of miscellaneous crap, in search of something I never managed to find,  I stumbled across an old scrapbook of newspaper cuttings. Opening it up I immediately found something I could use.

 "Scorer" was a British newspaper strip that ran in The Daily Mirror between 1989 and 2011 and as the name suggests, it was all about Football.  As I'm not, and never have been, remotely interested in football I never paid it much attention up until one particular storyline got my attention.
   While on tour in the USA footballing hero Dave Storry gets involved with  Lady Wrestler Marigold Storm - so of course we get some in-ring action.

I don't have all of it (and what I do have is suffering from a bad case of sellotape pox) but I thought you might like to see The Storm Sisters in action. I'm fairly certain this is an Internet Exclusive.
Women wrestling comics tag team
  Since when has California had a cattle industry?  
Tag team artwork

Dail Mirror Scorer comic
   Just for a change the writer does actually know what the holds are called.British newspaper comic Scorer
 Cool move. Maybe Marigold has done a bit of Lucha Libre in her time.
Scorer strip
Loving the little sound balloons "Gnzz" Heh heh.

 I honestly don't know what year this is from. Somewhere between 1989 and 1992 is the best I can manage, so if you know more, or happen to have the rest of the storyline then I will put your name on this blog surrounded by golden stars with the words "Most Excellent Dude" in big neon letters.

That's all folks. 

Sunday, 10 January 2016

Ticket Tales: Rocking (Almost) All Night

  For 2016 I plan to do a few things differently with this blog. For starters, I want to post more original content rather than just adding snarky captions to album covers. 
 I like adding snarky captions to album covers and I like to think that I'm not bad at it - but I also think it's about time I started stretching myself a bit. So here we go with something I might turn into a regular thing if people like it. 

  I collect things. In fact, I can't seem to stop collecting things. There's a pile of music magazines in the bottom of my wardrobe, a dozen boxes of comics stuffed into available crevices, my fridge is disappearing under fridge magnets and  I have an entire shelf full of Spitfires

  The collection that takes up the least space - but is at the same time most precious to me - is the small, jumbled pile of photo albums under my TV unit.

 Because that's where I keep memories. 

  Not just photos. I have all sorts in there: faded clippings, postcards from places I've been and friends I haven't seen in years, crumpled flyers from nights out -  and of course tickets from gigs.  

  I don't have a ticket from every single concert I've seen. I wish I did but small bits of paper are fragile and don't always take kindly to going through a washing machine. Pinning them to a board in direct sunlight doesn't do them any favours either.

  The tickets I do have though, all capture a moment in time and just looking at them brings back memories.

Let me tell you about one particular ticket and what may well have been the best night out I ever had.

 It started with an advert in Kerrang magazine.

  I really wanted to go. The Friday Rock night at Pitchers Tavern was all very well but if you got 6 people on the dance floor somebody was getting a flailing elbow in the face  and  I had a yearning to try something a bit more Big City.
 Once I'd raised the subject with my brother (henceforth called Lil Bro, mainly because I know that will piss him off.) he was up for it as well. That was handy. Not only was Lil Bro great company, he owned a car and Nottingham was a long way away from Stafford...

Money was posted off and a small bit of paper came back in return. 
  When Friday the 29th of November finally rolled around, the two of us climbed into Lil Bro's prized Capri and set off for an evening of beer, loud music, curious hotdogs and mud.

  Something I always used to love about Rock nights was that feeling I got when I first walked in.  Outside in normal life, I was an outsider, a weirdo who needed a haircut, but here I was walking into a room where my kind of music was playing and nobody was giving me evils for my shoulder length hair. "Yep." I'd think "Here's where I fit in."

 I'm pretty certain that night I was grinning ear to ear like a deranged Cheshire cat.

 What I didn't know was that the Rock/Metal scene was about to undergo a big change.  Nirvana's "Nevermind"  had just been released, you see.
  Some people will tell you that the Hair Metal bands and that whole culture became obsolete overnight as everybody started listening to Grunge instead.  I was there and I disagree. It was a lot more gradual than that,  but there's no getting around the fact the music I was listening to that November night got pushed aside in favour of newer, darker sounds.
 Within a few years I would walk into a "Rock" night and be right back to feeling like an outsider again.

  Sod it. Let's get back to talking about the All-Nighter.  I'm going to break it down into little snapshots from the night. They're more or less in chronological order - but it was 25 years ago and I was fairly drunk,  so don't expect perfect recall.

The Girl In White

  When Lil Bro and I took our seats in the balcony, the dance floor was empty. Imperfect memory keeps telling me that it was this vast space but that can't be right. Nottingham Rock City isn't the size of a football pitch.It just isn't. 
   I definitely remember people standing all round the edges in small clusters, waiting for somebody else to be brave. 

  When I looked up again, a young lady in a short white dress had hit the floor and started rocking. I think it might have been this song: What You Say

  Maybe it was the alcohol, maybe it was the way the lights hit her dress but I swear that she was glowing like a firefly and every bloke in the room was entranced. People began trickling onto the dancefloor  - one, then three, then a dozen - and from that moment on, it never emptied. 

 I still wonder who she was. I still wish I'd said hello. 

Things Get Messy

  Lil Bro and I spent the next hour or so drinking beer and headbanging to the best Kerrang-friendly sounds of 1991. Metallica's Black Album featueed a lot. So did Skid Row, Warrant, Firehouse and Aerosmith.
  At one point my brother got dragged onto the dancefloor. What's interesting is that it was by a bloke.  

 When he finally reappeared he explained what happened. "I recognised the song and I said. "Ooh, that's Helter Skelter by Aerosmith , that is
"Next thing I know this bloke lurched out of the crowd cried "Helter Skelter!" , grabbed my arm and dragged me onto the dancefloor. I think he was pissed." 

  Then time came for the evening's entertainment. Instead of bands, Rock City had decided to put on some Mud Wrestling.  And why not?
   Through judicious use of elbows I ended up in the front row. It occurred to me much later that in an event that involves mud, the front row is actually the last place you want to be. But at least I wasn't the poor sod who had to clean up afterwards.   

  I had seen adverts and clips for American mud wrestling before, and since they all seemed to involve  moonlighting bikini models, I had certain expectations. Why do you think I was in the front row?

  Well, said expectations were hurriedly revised once the wrestlers were brought onstage. At the risk of sounding horrible, the "girls" may not have won any bikini contests but I'd have put money on them to win a rugby match. I personally would not have wanted to take any of them on without a baseball bat and Kevlar underpants. 
 I don't remember much of the actual wrestling but it was fun and the crowd seemed to be really into it. All credit to the women involved as they gave it some serious welly. 
 Of course in the process mud got flung about with gay abandon. (I had two showers before I finally got it all out of my hair. )
 No wait, that wasn't the wrestlers. That was the girl standing next to me who decided to slap handful of clay in my face. I then got her right between the eyes with an overarm pitch, so honours were even, I feel.   

  After it was all over I went into the gents and there was a puddle of muddy water three feet across on the floor.  Right next to it was a  bloke checking his makeup in the mirror. I think those two sentences sum up what the night was all about. 

  The Incredible Shrinking Hot Dogs. 

   All that lager needed something solid and non-nutritious to weigh it down so the pair of us grabbed hotdogs: decent size, decent price and about as tasty as hot dogs ever get in that enough ketchup masked the taste of  meat mechanically recovered from pig nostrils. Good value, we thought.

Much, much later, when the crowd was starting to look little glassy eyed, and the catering staff were starting to develop a thousand-yard stare, I went to get another hotdog and even in my tired, rather very pissed state, I couldn't help noticing that the hotdog had...shrunk... somewhat.  
 In fact, what the crafty sods had done was hack a hotdog in half and sell it for the same price.

Worse was to come. 

Despite the event being advertised as 8pm to 8am, the bar shutters came down with a crash at about 2am. 

  I am convinced that they'd either run out of booze or run out of plastic pintglasses.  By that point there were drifts of shattered plastic piled up two feet deep in the corners. I have honestly never seen anything like it before or since. Metalheads like to drink but on that night everybody was really going for it. 

 The bar might have closed but everybody was tanked enough to keep partying. When the DJ put THIS SONG on, people were headbanging to it!  Drunk headbangers were leaping into the mudpit to settle scores and the toilets were getting nastier and nastier. 
 No aggro though. Funny that.  

 This Is The End

 Lil Bro went back to the car to get some shuteye at 02.30 ish. I hung around for another two hours or so but when I found myself falling asleep on the dancefloor I knew it was time to go. 

 I walked out of Nottingham Rock City tired, drunk and spattered with mud. As I came down the stairs I passed the bodies of the fallen. They had partied until they could party no more and  now their snoring bodies lay slumped against the walls and littered the stairs. I saluted them and staggered out into the darkness.

How the frig did I find my way back to the car? I honestly have no idea.

It was 5am. I was tired and everso slightly pissed. I was in a city I'd never been to before in my life and had no idea which carpark we'd left the car in.  I can only assume that drunk me has an amazing homing instinct. 

 We finally got home just before lunchtime the next day. Tired, stiff from trying to sleep in carseats, muddy, hungover in a way that would kill me nowadays and suffering from a complaint peculiar to metalheads,

The Bangover.  

Bangover:  A condition brought on by a combination of alcohol and excessive headbanging. Symptoms are a splitting headache,  ringing in the ears and the feeling that all the muscles in your your neck have been replaced by red hot wires.   
 It was worth it. 





PS> If anybody else was at this one, I'd love to hear from you. Especially if you were the Girl in White.  

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

Heavy Metal Cover Girls...And Wolves

  Hello and welcome to the first Heavy Metal Cover Girls post of 2016. I have a folder filled to bursting with album covers that are cool, sexy, memorable or just plain odd, so I promise you that it won't be the last.

  Dogs are mans best friend but for today's post, we're looking at women who decided to make friends with the Children of the Night.  What sweet music they make...

 Hammerlord - S/T (USA 2008)

woman with wolves
     Skipping for the moment the minor detail of this clearly being a Hammerlady,  you have to wonder why she even needs the hammer. She has her own wolfpack, a raven for target-spotting and quite possibly the power to command lightning. Melee combat is going to be a last-resort sort of thing.

Monday, 4 January 2016

Enquiring Minds Want To Know...

  Given that this blog is called "Assorted Thoughts From An Unsorted Mind" I suppose it's well past time I shared some actual thoughts with you.
 Not deep, meaningful nuggets though. I don't really do those. More like the sort of thing that pops into your head when you realise that the world is not only random but actively going out of its way to screw with you.


How come... whenever I change my duvet cover, it take ten minutes of grappling, copious amounts of swearing and way too much sweat to get the new cover over the duvet...
But when I put a duvet cover into the washing machine it will magically swallow everything else in there.

Maybe that's where I'm going wrong. Maybe I should wash the duvet and the cover at the same time and let them bond naturally.

How come... I can spend an entire night desperately trying to get to sleep...
But when the alarm goes off I suddenly can't keep my eyes open.

I'm convinced that I've spent most of my adult life surviving on the 40 minutes of sleep I get in the gap between my alarm going off and actually getting up.
 So tonight I'm going to try a little experiment. I'm going to set the alarm for 2345 and see what happens.

How come... I keep seeing discarded underpants lying in the street? What's the story there?

I can understand if there was an accident involved but I keep seeing perfectly intact, perfectly clean grundies draped across hedges. Never mind, "Who Shot Kennedy" I need to know whose kecks those were I saw on my way into work on Friday morning.

How come... I see people happily marching along with their nose stuck in the phone - but when I walk along reading my book I get shouted at?

That is, admittedly, a bit dumb on my part but some consistency would be nice.

How come...  I can use my debit card to buy a bottle of Coke and the whole transaction can last less than a minute - but it then takes two days to come off my account balance?

 The bank presumably knows whether I have the money or not, and Christ knows they're fast enough to put the kibosh on when I'm 15p short. So how hard can it be to have an account balance that reflects current events?  

Whatever. Now I'm in a bad mood so I'm going to go raid my fridge and watch dumb shit on Youtube.

That's all folks. 

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