Sunday, 26 February 2017

Movie Review : The Humanoid (1979)

Genre: Sci-Fi/Space Opera

  An Evil Warlord and an Evil Scientist plan to create an army of invincible warriors. Evil invincible warriors.    A gentle giant of a spaceship pilot happens to  wander too close to their Evil Base and they do Evil Science-y stuff to make him an Evil version of the Incredible Hulk. 
   Can a pretty scientist, a heroic pilot and a child prodigy stop the monsters rampage and save the Galaxy?  

 And how much can the producers rip off from Star Wars before George Lucas sends his boys round to break somebodies legs?  

  The Humanoid reunites two of the stars from The Spy Who Loved Me as Richard Kiel and Barbara Bach make the most of their improved box-office value.   Kiel spends most of the film essentially being "Jaws - In space"

While Bach seems to have catastrophically fallen out with her hairdresser  

  This film blatantly lifts most of it's design aesthetic from Star Wars to the point where I'm amazed they didn't just call the whole damn thing Star Battles.  

  Here's what the head bad guy looks like.

  He rides around in something that is almost but not-quite a Star Destroyer crewed by guys who are totally not Imperial Stormtroopers because their armour is black instead of white.  
  The Empire at least pretends that they aren't the Bad Guys. This lot are not only proud of it but their battle flag is probably a black jackboot stamping on  a basket of kittens. Makes you wonder how they recruit. 

"Are you Evil?"
"You're in. Now stamp on these kittens and we'll get your health insurance sorted. Hah! I'm kidding ."
"About stamping on kittens?"
"No. About the Health Insurance. We're Evil. Deal with it"

   Luckily the good guys have their own secret weapon. Not a wise Jedi Master because (lawyers) but the next best thing.  A precocious wunderkind. 
 The lovely Corinne Cléry is saddled with a hideous necklace and little smartarse. 

  There is an explanation for who this kid is and why he has freaking magic powers but frankly it's a bit stupid. 

 There is no explanation as to why the entire armed might of the Forces of Good apparently consists of a dozen blokes wearing knocked-off Rebel combat gear. 

  There is also no real explanation for why the Evil plan revolves around creating slow, lumbering zombies instead of,  I dunno, just nuking the opposition planet into glass.   

  In keeping with this film being a patchwork of "borrowed" ideas, the soundtrack consists of synthy noodlings performed by jobbing Prog Rockers alternating with orchestral bits that may have been left over from earlier films; both being slapped onto the film at random.
Then I found out who did the music for the Humanoid. 

  The Ennio Morricone?  The near-legendary soundtrack maestro?  Blimey. 

 When it comes right down to it The Humanoid is a blatant attempt at cashing in on Star Wars but without the budget, put together by people who ripped off as many ideas as they could using a cast that needed the money.  The special effects are 1970s TV quality, the soundtrack is pants and the whole thing is a bit stupid. 

 I rather liked it. 

  The Humanoid might be a bad movie but it's an entertaining bad movie and is probably best watched when drunk while playing a game of "Spot the blatant ripoff."

Watch if you want something that's not quite as silly - or as booby - as Starcrash but still fancy a good helping of Italian Cheese. 

 I shall leave you with the trailer. 

That's all folks.

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

The Metal Project: W Is For War

the ultimate metal playlist

 We're almost done with our trek through the alphabet of Metal. There might be some letters after this but let's fact it, the pickings are likely to be fairly slim. How many Metal bands are there that start with X anyway?

 No, don't answer that. Really. 

 As always, I hope you find some cool new stuff to headbang to. Enjoy. 

   War-Saw - Intro/Thrash Metal War Machine (Poland 2009)

Wild Whips - Heavy Metal Gods (Poland 2011)

Honour to: Bluesoar

Wytchkraft - Heavy Metal Satânico (Brazil 2004)

Honour to: Sniderthrash

Not going to lie...this next one's a bit dubious. 

Wifebeater -Whorehouse Metal (Germany 2014)

Honour to: Wifebeater Scumfukk

Warrick - Metal or Die (USA 2012)

Honour to: Slipo Pagliacci

Wrathchild (USA) - Metal Madness (USA1983)

Honour to: Russ Nussman

We opened with a Polish Thrash band singing about War.
Ending the same way seems nice and neat to me.

Warfist -Speed Metal War (Poland 2008)

Honour to: valdivia666

That's All Folks. 

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Comics: Lady Spitfire (France 2012)

  I've been on a bit of a Euro Comics splurge lately and found a whole universe of stuff that I just didn't know was there.  It seems a bit weird that it's easier to find and read Japanese comics from the other side of the world than the stuff produced just over the Channel.

  In my wanderings through this new territory there's two things guaranteed to make me want to check out a title.
1. A beautiful woman brandishing a sword or gun.
2. WW2 fighters.

  And since I'm a sucker for anything that may have Spitfires in it, when I saw this series I was immediately sold. 

There are four volumes thus far. 

 Lady Spitfire 1- Daughter Of The Air

ww2 fighter pilot woman ace
Aircraft-mad tomboy Lara Chevalier and her father escape the fall of France in "borrowed" fighters.
Tragically Chevalier senior doesn't make it to England and his grief-stricken daughter refuses to let her piloting skills be wasted ferrying fighters.
Then a timely bit of subterfuge lets Lara join the ranks of  Spitfire squadron 1B 
Now all she has to do is keep her secret and avoid being hacked out of the sky by a Messerschmitt. 

Lady Spitifre 2 - Der Henker

woman fighter pilot comic
 A German Ace in a red-nosed BF109 has been ruthlessly picking off RAF squadron leaders. 
Lara and tortured ace "The Spirit" must put aside their differences to deal with Der Henker
(The Executioner) because the future of 1B squadron is at stake. 

 Lady Spitfire 3 - One For All And All For Her

ww2 dogfight comic woman fighter pilot
A new pilot with an attitude problem may bring Lara's tenure with 1B to an end and cause the whole squadron a world of hurt in the process.    
But before Lara Chevalier goes back to the civilian ranks, she has a plan for one last,daring mission. 

Lady Spitfire 4- Desert Air Force

Newly arrived in the Western Desert just as things are looking critical, Lara is sent on a bombing mission
that ends in disaster. The injured and stranded Mademoiselle Chevalier has to face the Germans, the desert and her own personal demons. 

Little Lara never wanted to be
a nurse when she grew up.
 There were women fighter pilots in WW2 but as far as I know only in the Russian airforce.  The British had a corps of women pilots who did good and valuable work delivering aircraft but it took a lot of arguing before the Air Transport Auxiliary ladies were allowed to pilot anything more warlike than a Tiger Moth.

  Bearing this in mind I was initially curious as to how the creative team would get Lara into the cockpit of a Spitfire.
 Thankfully any worries I might have about a lipstick wearing, glamourgirl Mary-Sue were entirely unjustified.

   Lara Chevalier's transformation into an RAF officer is a bit of a stretch but still within the grand tradition of Mulan, Hannah Snell and Polly Oliver 

 It also helps that the artist puts some effort into making our heroine look like a hero.  (See below.)

"Charlie" reporting for duty.
Alright, so Lara is treated like somebody special by the rest of the squadron but hey, she is the star of the comic after all and by and large remains likeable even with her faults.
  There's a nice relationship with scarred ace "The Spirit" who is interesting enough that he could have carried a series on his own. In true comic tradition, the two butt heads several times before getting used to each other and turning into an effective team.

  Not everybody warms to the idea of a female fighter pilot, especially a female pilot who take zero shit from anybody
. In volume 3 one new arrival goes out of his way to be a complete dick and things rapidly get ugly.
 ( Mind you Johnny Red had one of his own side try to kill him every three months or so. Just saying. )

 The storylines are relatively simple and maybe a little old-fashioned in the vein of the old-school WW2 fighter stories. Personally I was happy with that.  while I don't want to see war glorified  I also don't need to see the genre deconstructed, given a dark makeover and all the characters turned into unlikable arseholes.

 I think what I'm trying to say is that Lady Spitfire might not be the most realistic war comic you' ever see but it never gets too silly.  There's also plenty of action to keep things moving along past the plotholes.

This seems like a good point to bring up something that I really did like.  The artwork.

Maza's work is decent enough on the ground but when the comic gets into the air  things go up by several notches. The guy draws a fantastic Spitfire and his dogfights are well worth seeing.  See below for some examples.

Lara meets a wanker.
The Spirit. Scarred outside and inside too.  

  Fun fact: The Hurricane had an unprotected fuel tank right in front of the pilot. The result was a lot of badly burned pilots.  

  As I said above, when it comes to the dogfights Maza brings his A Game. 

BF109 comic dogfight
Der Henker on the hunt.

WW2 dogfight comic
Lara duels an Emil

   To sum up; If you enjoyed Garth Ennis's aviation work in War Stories, Battlefields and Battler Britton 
and can cope with the central premise then you might enjoy Lady Spitfire.

  Personally I plan to keep an eye out for a possible Volume 5.  Having Lara Chevalier on the Eastern front seems like the logical progression after all.

I'll leave you with one final bit of dogfighting action.  
 Lady Spitfire comic dogfight

That's all folks. 

Saturday, 11 February 2017

Misty Blue Simmes

Last year I put up some pics of Misty Blue Simmes in action and one of my readers asked if I had any more.  I said "I'll have a look..." and promptly got distractd by a bunch of other stuff. For 6 months.


  So to make up for it, I had a dig through some old scrapbooks and managed to dig out more shots of the woman who was, at one point, being hailed as "The saviour of women's wrestling"


Sunday, 5 February 2017

Heavy Metal Cover Girls: Guitar Goddesses

Heavy Metal Cover Girls: Cataloguing album covers that are sexy, cool or just fun.

 Unfortunately IT issues fragged my update schedule so this is a lot later than planned. Sorry 'bout that. 

  I'm revisiting an old favourite this time around.  Rock and Metal is built around the electric Guitar to a point that's almost religious, so it comes as no surprise when cover artists combine their love of a beautiful girl with their love of a beautiful Gibson. 
 As we frequently find, a simple theme can be interpreted in many different ways. Now plug in and let's get going. 

  Mystica Girls - Veronica The Courtesan From Hell (Mexico 2016)

Sexy cover art girl guitar
  AC/DC said it best: Hell ain't a bad place to be... 

This is the English language version by the way. 
The Spanish cover is sorta cool too - but no guitars so  maybe next time.

Mystica Girls are crunchy HM.
The vid is low-budget but has charm and some nifty lead guitar.

Wild Bitch - Streets Of Danger (Italy 2012)

metal album cover sexy miniskirt
Compared to certain other metal album covers, these streets aren't that dangerous. 
No rampaging mutants, zombies or street gangs and there's not even that much traffic.
The only real hazard is that you might get distracted by her legs.
Sadly this has already happened and he faces an awkward insurance claim. 

Wild Bitch seem to be inspired by 80s Eurometal.

Gibraltar - I'm The One (USA 1986)

There's a surprising amount of "Girls humping guitars" album covers out there. 
She's wearing more clothing than most of the others do. 
Make of that what you will. 

Does anybody else have a weird fascination with chamois leather bikinis? 
I blame early exposure to Axa comics. 

Gibraltar aren't exactly Metal even by 1980s standards being melodic hard rock with lavish synths.

Heart of Chrome - Get Naked EP (UK 2014)

See what I mean?  
She loves her guitar so much she cuddles it like a teddy-bear. 
And still more tasteful than some covers...

As far as I can tell Heart Of Chrome seem to be A) British and  B) possibly defunct. 
A cursory search reveals some pages in German and a deleted facebook.
If you like your Rock raucous with a sweaty, pub backroom vibe you might like this.

Maineeaxe - Shout it Out (UK 1984)

There is so, so much I could say about this cover but I think the words "It was the early 1980s" would explain everything. 
Jesus, somebody desperately needs some heavy duty mouthwash because those gums are a bit of a mess.

Maineeaxe weren't the LA Sleaze rock you'd expect but Yorkshire NWOBHM.
Guitarist Grant Kirkhope later went on to work in videogames with some success.

I might go dig out some more Maineeaxe. They sound pretty decent.

Iron Spell - Electric Conjuring (Chile 2016)

I love this cover a lot. It's like she's leaping into battle, wielding her axe to summon thunder and rawk
and give the bad guys - probably wearing suits- a damn good smiting.  

I would definitely pay to see that film. How come nobody has made it yet?

Iron Spell are Proper HM. 

It's interesting how the choice of theme can affect the bands I post so much.
Some posts end up being dominated by lavish Symphonic Metal, others by sleazy cock-rock and this time around it's leaning heavily towards bands that would have been perfect supporting Accept in 1985. 
Then again the whole point of a cover is to sell the band and that includes giving you an idea of their likely sound. Take that Iron Spell cover.  When you heard the song, did it sound exactly like you'd expect?
There you go. Mission accomplished.  

We're not finished exploring all the ways women can hold guitars yet so let's move ever onward.

Milkin' Hellcows - Babylon (UK 2016)

 If this young lady ever met the lass from Iron Spell's art they'd either be BFFs or fight to the death. 

I think you can tell the difference between Cover Girls that play their guitar and the ones using it for a prop.

Milkin' Hellcows play sleazy, snotty hard rock. 

Twister -Utak nélkül (Hungary 2016) 

Here's a geek test for you.

What did you notice first?
1. The Guitar.
2. The Delorean?
3. The shiny, shiny trousers?

Another cover I rather like. I refuse to feel guilty about this.

Twister are catchy HM.

Time for me to wrap up so I hope you liked this batch of covers and I hope you liked the music too. 

This has been another edition of Heavy Metal Cover Girls. 

That's All Folks. 

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Heavy Metal Covers Girls: Into The Woods

I noticed that a lot of Heavy Metal bands put attractive women on their album covers.
Here's where I post a few, linked by some sort of theme, and attempt to say something clever about them.   

 Today's belated post continues the theme of women + nature but this time around we're on dry land. 

  Not safely on dry land because as we shall see some of these girls are one wrong move away from being in a Grimm fairy tale.  

 Our theme tonight is The Woods and the covers can generally be divided into two camps. 

1. Women enjoying the tranquillity of the forest and the beauty of nature.

2. Women alone in the forest and ...Oh what the fuck was that noise behind me? 

Let's go for a walk in the woods. 
Hold my hand...
and maybe we'll come out the other side.  

Tatiana's Niovi - Breath Of Light (Greece 2012)

    That look you get when you point out that a ballgown isn't really hiking gear.  
You know afterwards it's going to be your fault the dress got stained.

It's debatable as to whether this is even Metal. It's quite mellow.
FFO Within Temptations' softer moments maybe.

Savn - Savn  (Norway 2014)

Some poor sod of a props man had to lug that piano all the way into the woods. 
Unless there was a piano already there in which case the weirdness just gets better and better. 

I am very impressed with this band. The lead singer has an angelic voice and there's a decent amount of crunch backing her up.

 Serphika - Despertar EP (Argentina 2014)

I have no idea why she's staring intently at a fistful of prawn crackers.

There's no confusion about whether this lot are metal. None.

Ides Of Winter -Minus Twenty°   (Canada 2016)

   This is the sort of cover that makes me wonder "What's the story here?" - besides somebody freezing their tits off. 
Who or what is she looking at?  Is it somebody she expected to see, which is why she doesn't seem afraid.
How is she walking in that ice in those shoes? 

Ides of Winter are a lot darker and Blacker than I was expecting from the CD cover.

Mortimer's Mercy - Black Heart (Norway 2013)

Sometimes the girl who's all alone is the most dangerous thing in the woods.

This is straight-up HM.

Everfall -From Beneath The Shade (Bolivia 2016)

  "I'm cold, I'm fed up, I want to go home and I swear I just heard a wolf.
Next time some bloody Goth suggests a moonlight party in the woods I'm kicking him in the dick."

There's two bands called Everfall.
This band are Symphonic Metal. The other lot are Dweath Metal.
Try not to get them mixed up.

Dark Lambency - Spectra (Belgium 2016)

  Unless you like anal probes, I suggest you run.
Run away now

Dark Lambency are Power/Prog Metal with some nice synths.

Savatage - Edge Of Thorns (USA 1993)

I owned this album on cassette for almost 20 years before I finally got it on CD.
That's when I finally noticed the creepy-as-fuck face in the background. 
And I literally only noticed the crocodile 2 minutes ago. 
In my defence I may have been distracted by something...

Savatage are one of my all-time favourite bands.
This video features the underrated and much-missed Criss Oliva on guitar. RIP. 

Ragnaröek - Dornig (Germany 2015)

In this version of the Snow White story the wicked stepmother remembered that 
she was a frigging witch and just used her satanic powers instead of faffing about with apples. 

German Folk-Metal bands seem to really like songs about getting hammered.
I'm cool with this.

Torment - Повешенный  (Russia 2009)

See, I told you we'd make it out.

No I am not going back in to find your bloody tarot cards.

If there's a video on Youtube I can't find it. Oh well.

I hope you liked the album covers and although I take the piss, I do rather like all of them.
I also hope you found a new band to check out.

If there's a theme you want to see that doesn't involve rape, murder or hairy armpits please leave a comment below. 

That's All Folks. 
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