FLASH REVIEW – IT’S WAR EP

 

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IT’S WAR’s debut EP marks the return of a vocalist singer-songwriter, Lennon Murphy, after a nearly five-year hiatus.  As some of you are aware and some of you are not, the music industry hasn’t been very kind to Ms. Murphy.  She’s had her first hit song, “My Beautiful” (aka “Where Do I Fit In”) re-recorded into nearly every genre of music and ultimately mis-marketed  by A&R reps.  Then, in 2008, she was pulled into a legal court battle for…well…using her birth name. The plaintiff?  None other than Yoko Ono. This article is not here to dwell on that matter, however.  Lennon has moved on and so shall we. If you wish to know more, Google. This article is, instead, here to discuss the resulting aftershock of what she has gone through in her life and career; a 5-song EP filled with melody, energy, rage and an aftertaste of revenge.  IT’S WAR is more than this, though.  The collaboration with Frank Shooflar is a bold statement that Lennon is back and the Lzzy Hales and Maria Brinks of the world should take notice.

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The opening track “Bitterness” seems to be an angry retort to those who attempted to rip her dreams and aspirations right out of her hands, as well as the losses she has endured.  The lyrics spit off of her tongue like pure venom.  IT’S WAR is a clown car stuffed with confessional verses, hard rock energy and hooks so deep they will make your head spin.  The lead single, “Heart” is an arena sized anthem with a video featuring animated, chimeric animals performing the song. The lyrics again delve into the song’s titular heart breaking and our obsessions with what we desire, a subject many of us can relate to. Lennon has a gift with her prose that many modern song writers have forgotten how to utilize.

While the subjects that Lennon covers (resent, regret, heartache) are found within many other bands of the genres, she finds a way to make it work. With a vocal style that I would best describe is the sharpness of Pat Benatar meets the cadence of Ian Astbury, Lennon takes a stand, forcing her way back into the limelight that should’ve been hers so many years ago.

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IT’S WAR’s debut EP is a quick 5-song glimpse into a woman who felt the scorn of the music industry and is ready to hit back. It’s short, quick paced and hits you like a million bee stings and is readily available on iTunes. If you have not listened, take the time, you have it. It will be the best $4.00 you spent today. Check out IT’S WAR online here: http://www.its-war.com/

SALEM Season 2, Episode 8

Proving to us that horror has no boundaries, Naseema Perveen is here to tell you about Salem Season 2, episode 8 on her blog…

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It’s not a science fair, but a witch war! The war of the witches continues on another episode, “Dead Birds” on your favorite show which consumes you throughout the hour with its excellent story line, perfect plots and the rich cast.

With more magic, tricks and the twists Salem Season 2 Episode 8 engages you throughout the hour. Did you notice when Anne was dreaming of ‘him’. At once he appears in front of her, it was then she started trembling continuously. Anne was thinking that he was in her bed room in order to release her virginity, however he was not there to lose virginity of a pale and a diffident girl however he was there to take the book of his father which her mother gave back in the past. She asks him to leave the place and tells that gentle men do not enter into women’s bedrooms this way.

Meanwhile John’s love with his mother and compassion is heart touching. The magical journey of John is getting more noticeable. He feels lonelier than before, he cannot go outside and plays like the other children. It was really heart breaking to see tears in his eyes and to see the way he hugs his mother and begs her not to let him alone.

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As Mary steps back to John’s bed, she sees the killed birds in his bed and asks him what is that all. John answers that it was because they fly into his bed, his mother is quite astonished and wraps them in the sheet and comes down stairs where she meets the lady. She tells that John must be watched all the time but Mary answers that he is fine now because he is with his mother. She tells that John is unsettled and vulnerable therefore he needs special attention. Mary on the other hand tells that if she is so much concerned about her son she should clean the shit from the bed sheet which is perhaps the most suited job for people like her.

I don’t know what Cotton was actually noticing, he was peeing through the wall, at once Anne call him, it was then he gets nervous and answers her that he had a unsettling night last night, and he does not exactly remembers what he saw. He asks if she deigns to marry her, Anne is quite dubious and interrogates him if his love for her is not the dream. The romantic moment which the duo shares for that particular instant was quite touching, he tells that his heart is forever Anne’s and he is sure of it. I love the words he uttered meanwhile:

Cotton: “In love, I now understand Faith, and with my Faith I begin to understand Love.”

Anne: “How so?”

Cotton: “The leap, in love and in faith, the evidence will only take you so far.”

Salem Season 2 Episode 8 exclusively justifies its title, as we found the dead birds in the bed room of John. It has more than a basis for proving its title, the dead birds in the wood or the birds whose heads are always ripped by Anne.

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We realize the fact that Wainwright is a firm believer of the science therefore it results to let his guard down and thus he finds himself on the witches’ sides. Mary shares secret with Wainwright in quite tricky way. It quite laughable to know that a unique action of Mary with her due innocence, and it was also interesting to see Wainwright calling the witches and Mary “Martyrs of truth.”

One of the constant miseries of the show was watching Cotton’s feeling for his father, it was really heartbreaking to see him screaming continuously until simply his dad spoofs away. The screaming of Cotton reveals that how dark the life can be at times. Although it was the result of his own doing however really panic to see this all happening around. Tituba, the other interesting character of Salem Season 2 Episode 8, tries hard to coax John Alen in order to take Puritans and witches. Although she is a good witch however she is going through a big challenge of inferiority complex. She is finally united with John and tries to seduce him.

One of the draw backs of the week’s episode is that it does not deliver too much about the Countess, given the fact that she does not really show up. Salem Season 2 Episode 8 was solid for few of the new characters who appear on the show making it terrifically beautiful show even in the absence of Lucy Lawless.

“Dead Birds” is another extra ordinary episode of your favorite show, which brings more magic, war of witches and the twists. As long as the show maintains the same level of the quality it is going to attract substantial number of viewers. How did you find Salem Season 2 Episode 8? Let us know in comments.

You can read Naseema’s blog here:

http://seasonsreviews.blogspot.com/2015/05/salem-season-2-episode-8-review-dead.html

On Losing A Camp Fire Story Teller

With the passing of our American Memorial Day holiday, a harbinger that summer is upon us, we’ve entered a portion of the year ripe with traditions. It is the time of romances and adventures, of vacations and memories. A common denominator between summers and much of what occurs, is the original drive-in movie theater/concert venue: the campfire. It is a summer time tradition that has gone back to the dawn of man and the invention of fire. The migrant hunter-gatherer families would sit around the fire singing songs to keep the monsters at bay and telling stories of the monsters to scare the rambunctious little ones to sleep. Music and the scary story have been an inseparable tandem ever since. Have they evolved wit with the eras? Most certainly. Drums have become guitars and other stringed instruments. The stories, though the settings and locales have changed, the themes are still the same. They are moral fables, teaching our young what happens when we misbehave. A good boogeyman stays relevant. You see, we live in a world where the scares of our ancestors are our scares today, we only perceive them in that manner. Tanith-Lee-006I regret the summer is starting off rather shitty because we have one less storyteller at the fire. We lost Tanith Lee this same weekend, she finally succumbed to the illness that had been ravaging her. Unless you are a die hard dark fantasy fan, you may not even know who I’m talking about. but Tanith had a lasting impact on fantasy and horror, blurring the lines between the two and throwing conventions out the door. Her manipulation of prose created a kaleidoscope of visuals that none have matched in our lifetime. Lee’s influence can be felt throughout fiction as a whole, she’s written nearly a hundred books and three times that many published pieces of short fiction, for Christ’s sake. Her accolades precede her, with 20 major awards in science fiction, horror and fantasy, including a Life Time Achievement award. tla61dBut it’s her darker fantasy elements that seem to draw the most moths to her flame, especially her Gothic Horror. I learned quickly that when reading Lee’s books you needed to throw away any preconceived notions about the subject matter. Why? Because she’s already dumped them at the door before you’ve turned the first page. My personal experience with her works is through her vampires in the Blood Opera Sequence: DARK DANCE, PERSONAL DARKNESS and DARKNESS, I. I went into DARK DANCE with the assumption it would be comparable to Whitley Streibers’ THE HUNGER. How wrong I was. This fable turns the ideal of the romantic Bram Stoker vampire into something much more sinister, combining taboo sexual elements with vampirism throughout the trilogy. Fans of Twilight and 50 Shades of Gray rejoice, I’ve just provided you with some books to read. Maybe they’ll lead you to Lee’s World Fantasy Award winning GORGON, or the British Fantasy Award winning DEATH’S MASTER, who knows.

Sleep well, Tanith Lee. You are immortal through your prose, and we thank you for your gifts to us. Your bold twists on traditional stories will continue to be told at campfires for many summers to come.

Essential Doom Metal, My Favorite Albums Of The Genre

Doom Metal is an extreme genre of Heavy Metal, with the foundation for it set by the Black Sabbath….who pretty much set the foundation for all things metal.  Pioneer Doom Metal bands such as Candlemass, Saint Vitus and Trouble rose to metal audience’s attention in the mid to late 80s.  Characteristics of Doom Metal include a slower tempos, lower tuned, sludgy sounding guitars, complimented with lyrics and an atmosphere of despair and impending…uh…doom.  Vocals can be clean or similar to that of death metal,  Its those primary elements listed above that matter.  It has nothing to do with the leader of Latveria.  Sorry Victor….

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Whatever plateface.  Anyways, the following five albums are my favorites of this genre, which I was exposed to in the early 90s in much thanks to the aforementioned bands, along with a wave of more modern Doom Metal which came about in the years to come.  Some people will agree with these choices, many will likely disagree.  Take it as you will.  To me, these albums are essential listening

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Candlemass-Epicus Doomicus Metallicus

The quintessential Doom Metal album.  While Black Sabbath laid down the Doom Metal foundation, Sweden’s Candlemass put up the framework with their 1986 debut LP.  6 man-sized tracks that come at you like bulldozers.  With hard, crushing, fist-breaking riffs, powerful vocals filled with despair, and an apocalyptic ambiance make this the perfect starting point for anyone interested in the genre.

draconianParadise Lost-Draconian Times

I’m pretty positive that longtime fans of this band who are reading this article are thinking “This is not a Doom record.  Why is this guy not listing Lost Paradise?  Icon?  Gothic?”  Well, to ME at least, it most certainly is a Doom Metal album. How Doomy you ask?  The inspiration behind this album was the MS Estonia catastrophe (Google it). This 1995 classic shows the West Yorkshire-based band at a transition point in their career.  While they still display the brutal riffs and gloomy aspects found in the previously mentioned albums, they enhance the experience with clean, yet aggressive vocals, a Gothic tinge similar to that of Sisters of Mercy and a slick, top-notch production value.  The end product is, to me, their finest hour; a sonic onslaught that will leave the listener forever changed.  Paradise Lost has recently made the return to the Death Doom sound of their heyday, but nobody will forget this classic, quality album.

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The Gathering-Mandylion

That same year, a barely known death metal band from Holland rolled the dice, completely modified their sound and replaced their cookie-monster grunting vocalist with the polar opposite.  Enter Anneke van Giersbergen, a fiery-haired beauty with a set of golden pipes.  Fueled by the new vocalist, the band went from a run of the mill Doom Metal band with growling vocals to a soulful, ethereal outfit.  Behind the crunching, heavy-laden wall of sound, Anneke enchants you with her lucid, dreamstate vocal stylings, creating some of the most beautiful Doom you will ever hear.  This album paved the way for other female-fronted bands like Nightwish, Theater of Tragedy and Leaves Eyes and also allowed other Doom/Death Doom Metal bands like My Dying Bride and Anathema incorporate the use of female vocalists.  Anneke has long left The Gathering, embarking on a rather successful solo career.  However, the impact of The Gathering’s Mandylion rings very strong to this day.

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Amorphis-Tales From The Thousand Lakes

Now I’m really taking this beyond the points of standard Doom Metal.  I promise, this will be the last “crossover” album listed.  The unique thing about Amorphis is the complexity of their songwriting.  Tales From The Thousand Lakes is based entirely of the Finnish epic, The Kalevala.  While this approach (the use of classic literature) is common amongst Scandinavian bands, it was an eye opener to me.  It opened me up to other bands of the region and their approach to their songwriting crafts and use of regional instrumentation.  Everything about that is found within this album, coupled with some pretty kickass Sabbath-esque riffs to go with it.

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Pallbearer-Sorrow And Extinction/Foundations of Burden

Pallbearer has been considered by many as the future of Doom Metal and with two very strong back to back albums, I couldn’t agree more. Pallbear takes the “low and slow” approach and builds upon with lengthy, epic tracks that come to the same levels as progressive rock.  If you were to walk through a neverending graveyard, shrouded in mist, with a cool dampness in the air, Pallbearer would provide the soundtrack to that walk.  Beneath the melancholy, sorrowful sounds lies an everlasting beauty.  Its as if this walk through this maze like graveyards ends with a sunrise in the distant.  I know I am getting quite deep here but there really is no other way to describe these albums.  Sorrow and Extinction is masked in death and gloom while Foundations of Burden could easily serve as a homage to kings of a glorious time.  Despite being the most recent releases on this list, they belong here.

There are probably a dozen more albums I could to this list.  However, if I had to be stranded in dark, dank dungeon and was only allowed to listen to Doom Metal, then these would be my choice.s

Slish, Slash, It’s a Blood Bath! A Look At The Slasher Sub-Genre

Chapter 2 of The Necrocasticon aired last night, and if you missed it, you missed out.  Check out the show here http://www.projectiradio.com/shows/necrocasticon/

On the horror side this week, the guys talked slasher films, so I’m taking this opportunity to take a leisurely stroll through the dark woods of memory lane, and revisit the evolution of the slasher film genre through the years.

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Real Life Slasher – Ed Gein

There is an old question.  Does life imitate art, or does art imitate life?  In the instance of the slasher film, the answer clearly is that art imitates life.  Alfred Hitchcock’s classic, Psycho(1960), is considered to be the first major slasher film.  The one that started it all!  Norman Bates was a disturbed owner/operator of an out of the way motel.  Norman Bates was loosely based on real life mama’s boy, Ed Gein.

Norman Bates - Psycho

Norman Bates – Psycho

Gein was so close to his mother, that once she died, he dug her body up and lived with her corpse, much like Norman Bates did in Psycho.  Like Norman, Gein tried to become his mother.  Norman’s transformation was a mental one, but Gein’s was a physical one.  Ed Gein would kill women, and dig women’s bodies up and used their flesh to make a suit, so he could transform into his mother.  Psycho was a huge success and it’s shower scene is considered one of the greatest cinematic scenes of all time.  Despite the success of Psycho, it took 14 years for another major slasher film to hit the movie theaters.

Leatherface - Texas Chainsaw Massacre

Leatherface – Texas Chainsaw Massacre

If Psycho examined the psychology of Ed Gein, it was The Texas Chainsaw Massacre(1974) that depicted his sheer brutality.  Like Norman Bates, Leatherface was based on Gein.  Leatherface wore a faces stitched together from his families victims, as did Ed Gein.  The furniture in the home of Leatherface was made of human body parts, such as bone and skulls, the same was true for Ed Gein’s home.

The slasher genre began as two vastly different films based on the same person.  One was a psychological study, the other chose to depict the grisly brutality of the subject.  These two films would set the stage for what was to come.  Slasher films can further be divided into two sub-sub-genres.  The “who done it” slasher (Psycho), and the “monster” slasher (Texas Chainsaw Massacre).  In a “who done it” slasher film, the identity of the killer is unknown.  Typically the killers are human, and when the identity of the killer is revealed at the end, it is a surprise. Examples of “Who done it” slasher films are Psycho, Friday the 13th, April Fool’s Day, Scream.  In a “monster” slasher film, the identity of the killer is known pretty much from the beginning.  The appeal of the film is the brutality of the monster/killer.  The killer is usually supernatural.  Examples of the “monster” slasher film are Halloween, A Nightmare On Elm Street, Candyman, Child’s Play, Friday the 13th sequels.

From here, the slasher film exploded into the ’80s, each film and fell in one of the two categories mentioned above.

Michael Myers - Halloween

Michael Myers – Halloween

In 1978, John Carpenter arrived with his masterpiece, Halloween.  Halloween was a “monster’ slasher, and introduced horror icon, Michael Myers. Michael is the physical representation of pure evil.  The Boogeyman. This is the film that really solidified the formula for the slasher film.  A group of people, usually teenagers, are introduced to the audience.  The main character is typically a female, and she is ‘pure’.  She’s still a virgin, doesn’t smoke, or drink.  She will be the ‘final girl’.  She is the film’s Laurie Strode.  A killer stalks these characters, and kills them one by one, until the ‘final girl’ is left.  Only the ‘final girl’ can overcome the killer because she is the only one that is really good, and good always defeats evil.  Of course, in Halloween, Laurie had help from Dr. Sam Loomis.  Slasher movies for decades, and still now would follow the outline that Halloween set forth.

Friday the 13th

Friday the 13th

In 1980, a movie came along that perfected the formula that Halloween created.  Following in the footsteps of Psycho, the original Friday the 13th was a “who done it” slasher.  Camp counselors attempt to reopen a summer camp, that has been closed for many years due to a few tragedies.  One by one, the counselors a picked off in various ways by an unknown killer. The at the end, it is revealed that the distraught mother of a boy that drown at the same summer camp, Pamela, is behind the killings.  She would do anything to keep the camp where her boy died from being re-opened.

Jason Voorhees - Friday the 13th Part VII

Jason Voorhees – Friday the 13th Part VII

The many Friday the 13th sequels, however, are more of the ‘monster’ variety slasher films.  Pamela’s son, Jason, is now hell bent on revenge, and killing anyone who enters his domain.

After Friday the 13th, many copy cats flooded the movie theaters and movie rental shops.  Many tried to top Jason and Michael, but they all failed.  It was evident that you can’t do the “masked killer” routine better than Jason or Michael, and that forced film makers to get more creative with their slashers.

Enter Wes Craven.

A Nightmare On Elm Street

A Nightmare On Elm Street

In 1984, teacher turned filmmaker flipped the slasher genre on it’s head with one of the most creative ideas of all time, A Nightmare On Elm Street.  Craven chose to go the “monster” slasher route, and gave us Freddy Krueger.  A sadistic psychopath with the power to kill his victims in their dreams.  Armed with a self made razor glove, and the limits of his own tormented imagination, Freddy made it difficult for an entire generation to sleep.

Filmmakers took inspiration from A Nightmare On Elm Street.  They knew that if they wanted to compete, they had to get creative.

Chucky

Chucky

So, one killer was a doll.  Child’s Play (1988) introduced Chucky.  Chucky was a Good Guy Doll, based on the real life doll, My Buddy.  The doll was possessed by killer, Charles Lee Ray.

Candyman

Candyman

One killer was a vengeful spirit, similar to Freddy.  Candyman (1992) leaned heavily on the Bloody Mary urban legend, but created something more terrifying.   Candyman also deviated from the typical slasher staple of killing a group of teens.  Most of Candyman’s targets were adults.

Finally, in 1996, a film came along that, once again put the killer behind a mask.

Ghostface - Scream

Ghostface – Scream

Wes Craven returns, this time taking a shot at the ‘who done it’ side of the slasher films.  Scream took the formula that Halloween established, and dumped it on it’s head.  Not only did the ‘final girl’ have sex and survive, but there was two killers!  Scream was the beginning of the parody era.

Once again, there was a flurry of copy cats.  I Know What You Did Last Summer (1997), Urban Legends (1998), and more.  These copy cats were endured until 2006, when another very inventive film came along.

Behind The Mask - The Rise Of Leslie Vernon

Behind The Mask – The Rise Of Leslie Vernon

Behind The Mask: The Rise Of Leslie Vernon (2006) took the parody concept that Scream teased, and ran with it.  Shot mostly as a documentary, we follow a film team as they record Leslie Vernon, a serial killer, explain the secrets to being a serial killer.  It’s brutal, disturbing, and hysterical all at the same time.

Since Behind the Mask, there really hasn’t been a strong slasher film.  The horror community is ripe for a new creative slasher icon.

Thanks for joining me on this journey through slasher film history.  I know I’ve left a lot of great slasher films out, but there is only so much time.

From The Lord of the Pitts, see ya next time!

George Miller, Heavy Metal & the Simplicity of Story

The weekend box office has come in and PITCH PERFFECT made something like $70 million. A pop song singing fest with mass broad appeal, it edged out the weekend’s second place offering by just over $25 mill, MAD MAX: FURY ROAD made a respectable $44 million. But it seems to have created a rift in the fanboy and critics circles. I don’t see how or why it would or should. One is a PG pop song, the other an R rated heavy metal opus, chock full of violence. Of course the pop song is going to sell more date night tickets than the heavy metal act. And being the heavy metal act is not a bad thing at all.

You see, director George Miller is more metal than you. Shit, he’s more metal than metal itself. A single viewing of FURY ROAD is enough to pummel you into concession of my assessment. FURY ROAD is the visual equivalent of the perfect metal album. A note for note masterpiece, perfectly timed in its sequences, each is a ballistic song unto itself. The end result is a surreal ballet of violence that has no parallel in modern Western cinema. Forget about the kinetic impact of THE RAID going forward, after DAREDEVIL, ass kicking in the up close is passé. Allow me to evoke the CGI that allows the FAST & FURIOUS franchise to defy physics before you do. FURY ROAD makes the Vin Diesel vehicle a cartoon in comparison. The bar on action films has been raised, once again, by an innovator of the genre. By breaking FURY ROAD’s story down to the bare bones, Miller has reinvented the genre once again.

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And that’s what makes this such an amazing experience to behold. The simple mindedness of it. Miller has found a way to appeal to today’s attention deficient audiences and tell a compelling tale with three clear acts. As a result, FURY ROAD tells a cohesive story with no plot holes, no bullshit and, most of all, more explosions than Michael Bay has had in his past 5 productions. FURY ROAD also has more story than any of the aforementioned Bay offerings, despite the fact that it’s nothing more than one long chase that goes in one direction and (spoiler!) back the way it came. Along the way shit gets blown up, people die and both heroes and villains find themselves on varying sides of redemption, either receiving or dealing it. Constantly. A simple story, plus complete characters makes for compelling entertainment and FURY ROAD is a classic Campbellian hero’s journey, complete with a trek into the underworld and a rebirth during said portion of the trek. It’s bare bones Hellenic story telling, ripe with visual Easter Eggs and succeeds because of it. With this outline laid, Miller creates a post apocalyptic vision that defies the suspension of disbelief, going over the top to a degree that you can’t help but accept the absurdity and madness of it all. It’s almost as if Miller has laid down tracks on the perfect album, Side A takes us one way, side B goes back again, and never loses its pace.

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The bad guys, under the command of Immortan Joe, form the rhythm section of the movie, figuratively and literally with their thundering bass drums and driving guitar. The antagonists also fill this role in the narrative, as they are the driving force behind the chase itself. Joe’s a sick and poisoned boogeyman with interest only in retrieving his breeding stock of wives. And this is why Immortan Joe works. He’s not a sympathetic villain. In some sense, he’s no different than the killing machine that is Michael Myers, or Jason Voorhees. Like them, Joe’s a driven maniac. Immortan Joe heralds the end of the sympathetic bad guys. Too often we waste precious screen time on justifying their motivations, taking precious character development form the protagonists and their wards. The end result with many modern movies has been an inability for the audience to bond with the intended heroes, because they’re less interesting than the bad guys. All too often this is leading to bland or otherwise uninteresting exercises in film.

MAD MAX: FURY ROAD features a return to the post apocalyptic adventures of the titular “Mad” Max Rockatansky, after a 3 decade theatrical sabbatical for the character. The creation of George Miller and his late writing partner Byron Kennedy, Max wanders the wasteland of Australia in a search for redemption. Max is Miller’s Elric, a haunted but eternal champion. Max and Elric share many similar traits, primarily in the “dead friends” department. But whereas Stormbringer typically ends up feasting on the souls of Elric’s companions, Max’s friends and family die at the hands of others, and live on only to haunt Max’s soul.

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First played by (the then not so bat shit crazy) Mel Gibson in MAD MAX, THE ROAD WARRIOR and BEYOND THUNDERDOME, the role is now in the safe hands of Tom Hardy. With this passing of the torch in FURY ROAD, the character of Max has now reached a level of iconography on a level similar to James Bond. But whereas Bond’s tux and Walther PPK are signatures of the character, a tattered leather jacket and sawed off shot gun are the dog-eared marks of Max. Hardy is Max in the same manner that Gibson was Max. He motivations in the story are clear. It’s his intent to aid his wards in their quest and hopefully end the nightmares of his past.
But Max isn’t the movie’s primary protagonist. He’s more a window dressing in the story, placed there as a convenient plot MacGuffin to drive the story with his frequent super human feats of heroism and survival. Like FROM DUSK ‘TIL DAWN, which is a gangster movie that just happens to vampires in it, FURY ROAD isn’t as much a Mad Max movie, as it is a movie with Mad Max in it. This becomes clear as we close the first act.

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Instead, this story is about Imperiator Furiosa, brought to life by Oscar winning actress Charlize Theron. We haven’t had a female action lead this strong since Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley in the ALIEN franchise. It’s her quest, her goals that further drive the story and are the catalyst to all of the death and destruction that rains throughout the film. Ultimately her story is a twist on Homer’s Helen of Troy. Where as Helen launched a thousand ships, Furisoa’s actions launch a thousand vehicles. But it’s not until we meet the Many Mothers that the narrative takes a noticeable turn, giving the story a prevalent feminist sub theme. That’s not a bad thing. It’s a part of the message that drives the narrative, showing the balance between not only good and evil, but male and female, and life and death. Miller has actually snuck in a bit of neo-pagan symbolism in the story with the three faced goddess representation in the female characters. The fundamental archetypes of the triple goddess are there if you look. The Five Wives of Immortan Joe represent the Maiden in their nativity. Furiosa is clearly the aspect of the Matron, guiding her charges to safety. The Many Mothers are the embodiment of the Crone, whom also heralds life and death. This is less feminism than it is just good story telling providing a positive message, albeit hidden behind vast carnage.

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Combined, Max is our lead guitarist and Furiosa our vocalist. Furiosa channels the aggression of Lzzy Hale in her convictions and softness of Amy Lee when required. Hers is the voice of FURY ROAD. Max’s signature compliments her, melding the technical genius of Randy Rhoads and garage band rough of Sean Morgan, getting the job done at any cost. All played out over Immortan Joe’s backbeat with an end result that is familiar, yet new. Is FURY ROAD a modern masterpiece? Perhaps, perhaps not. One thing it isn’t is a pop song. MAD MAX: FURY ROAD is pure and unadulterated, in your face heavy metal always in tune with an absence of sour notes, even if it isn’t Pitch Perfect.

Celluloid and Cenobites: The Cinematic History of Clive Barker

The first chapter of The Necrocasticon has cracked open, and like Pinhead’s puzzle box, deliciously horrible things were unleashed upon the world.  Token Tom and the gang discussed the HP Lovecraft of Generation X, Clive Barker.

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This will be a tour of Clive Barker’s film history.  Born in England in 1952, Clive Barker grew up with a taste for horror and fantasy.  He quickly established himself as a prominent young horror writer.  One of his themes is hidden worlds within the real world, and that is a theme that will permeate his movies, another prominent theme in his work is sexuality.

Clive Barker first got into film as a screenwriter.  He wrote the screenplay to Underworld (1985) and Rawhead Rex (1986). Rawhead Rex is about a demon that gets released from his prison, and creates a trail of gore, terror, and destruction across Ireland.  The film was released to less than stellar critical reviews, however, as time has gone by, Rawhead Rex has garnered a cult following.

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Clive Barker was not happy with how his vision of Rawhead Rex was portrayed on the screen, so he decided direct his own films.  This decision lead to his most popular film, and arguably the most popular character created by Clive Barker, Hellraiser (1987) and Pinhead.  Based on his novella, The Hellbound Heart, Hellraiser had a 1 million dollar budget, and grossed 14.5 million in the box office.  It made Barker’s first directional outing a financial success.

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Hellriaser is about a man, Frank, who is looking for the ultimate high.  He heard of a box that opened a portal to a world that held extreme carnal pleasures.  The movie begins with him finding the box, and opening it.  Chains immediately rip him to pieces.  The film then jumps and follows the man’s niece, Kristy, who stumbles upon the box.  She discovers that Frank is now a skeleton in the attic who is desperately trying to become human again, by consuming the blood of humans.  The more he drinks, the more his body regenerates.  She opens the box, and makes a deal with the demons who live in the realm on the other side of the portal, The Cenobites.  Their leader, Pinhead, agrees with her deal.  Frank escaped the cenobites, and Kristy offers to deliver him back to Pinhead.

This film really pushes the envelope of sadomasochism.  One common theme that runs through the work of Clive Barker is pushing the limits of taboo issues.

The original cut of the film got an X rating from the MPAA.  Barker had to cut several scenes to make the R rating.

Hellraiser spawned 8 sequels, and one of the most enduring horror icons, Pinhead.  Barker recently announced that he would be writing the screenplay to the remake of Hellraiser.

Nightbreed

After Hellraiser, Barker went on to direct another film that became a cult classic, Nightbreed (1990).  Nightbreed is based on Barker’s novella Cabal.  Nightbreed explored the question, “who are the real monsters?”

The film centers around Aaron Boone, a patient of Dr. Decker.  Decker convinces Boone that he is a serial killer, when in fact, it’s Dr. Decker who is the real killer.

Boone sets out on a quest to find a place where monsters are welcome.  He hears of a place called Midian.  Midian is a city hidden under a massive cemetery, where monsters are accepted.

Once there, the monsters he comes in contact with, don’t believe that he is a murderer, and attacks him.  One of the monsters bites him, and after the police gun him down, Boone wakes up in the morgue, because of the monster’s bite.

Now a true monster, Boone returns to Midian, and is accepted this time.  Tensions build between Boone and Dr. Decker, and a battle for Midian takes place, leaving Boone standing, and charged to find The Nightbreed another home.

Nightbreed was a commercial failure.  Clive Barker has gone on record blaming this failure on the studio, who tired to sell the movie as a standard slasher film, but it is much more complicated than that.

Barker also was not happy with the final edit. After more than two decades, Barker finally was able to release his director’s cut in 2014.

Barker’s experience with Nightbreed and his battles with the studio could explain why he has directed so few movies in his career, and why they are so few and far in between.

Lord Of Illusions

Five years after Nightbreed, Barker decided to try directing again with Lord Of Illusions (1995).  With a budget of 12 million, and only a 13 million gross, Lord Of Illusions was another financial bust for Barker, but it is a fantastic film.  Based on his short story, The Last Illusion, this film features Barker’s signature literary character, Harry D’Amour, in film for the first time.

Scott Bakula plays Harry D’Amour as a private investigator who is hired to investigate a series of disappearances and deaths of illusionists.  D’Amour uncovers an evil plot by demonic cult to harness real magic in the world.  Faced against forces of the occult, D’Amour come to terms with what is really happening and hold onto his sanity, if he hopes to survive and stop the cult.

Again, Clive Barker was not happy with the final edit, and insists that the theatrical version does not accurately represent his vision.  He has released a director’s cut of the film.

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Lord Of Illusions was Clive Barker’s last attempt at directing a feature film, but fear not!  It has recently been announced that a film based on the modern boogeyman phenomena, Slender Man is in the works, and none other than Clive Barker is set to direct.

Slender Man is one of the most interesting concepts to come from the modern social media age.  Born from a few creepy old photo shopped photos originally posted by Eric Knudsen in 2009, Slender Man took on a life of his own.  He is usually depicted as an usually tall, skinny, bald man with no face.  He is dressed in a suit, and sometimes has tentacles.  Slender Man stalks and kidnaps children and is typically depicted as living in the woods.  What he does with the children and his motives are currently unknown.

Slender Man plus Clive Barker is a match made in Heaven….or maybe that’s Hell.  In either case, I’m in! Thank you for celebrating the movie career of Clive Barker with us here at The Necrocasticon! From The Lord Of The Pitts, we’ll see you next time!