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Vengeance of the Zombies (DVD)

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Vengeance of the Zombies DVD (click for larger image)Starring Jacinto Molina as “Paul Naschy”, Mirta Miller, Romy, María Kosty, Aurora de Alba

Directed by León Klimovsky

Distributed by Deimos Entertainment


“When I wrote the screenplay of “La rebelion de las muertas” (Vengeance of the Zombies), I must have been under the effects of hashish or, like Bram Stoker, I’d had one hell of a nightmare.” — Paul Naschy, from his biography Memoirs of a Wolfman (order here).

Man, he wasn’t kidding. Vengeance of the Zombies plays like a drug-induced nightmare. Before we get to the goodies, let’s take a brief look at the storyline, shall we?

Meet Krisna (Naschy). He’s just your average ordinary Indian mystic who’s interested in helping others reach a heightened sense of enlightenment. Yet, this man of peace has one hell of a skeleton in his closet that comes in the form of his brother, Kantaka (also Naschy). This sibling has anything but tranquility on his mind as he uses his voodoo powers to raise half-naked hot chicks from the dead to kill those who have wronged him. That’s basically the long and short of it; however, there’s also a bit of a love story involved, some traditional whodunit type themes, and even an appearance by the Devil himself (Naschy pulling down triple acting duty), all set to the most curious Seventies jazz soundtrack I have ever heard! Holy shit, that’s a lot of stimuli!

Vengeance of the Zombies DVD (click for larger image)So much in fact that after the film’s release Naschy was contacted by practitioners of the black arts because they felt as if he were sending them hidden messages via the film. These kooks were set to have Naschy become the messiah of their sect! You just can’t make this stuff up, folks!

Jacinto Molina, or Paul Naschy as he is better known, is one of the last living horror icons of our time, and this film serves as a sterling example why. It’s like watching an old Universal flick with some Hammer elements thrown in for good measure. Sexy, erotic, scary, and disturbing, Vengeance of the Zombies has it all! The best part? Now for the first time ever here in the States we actually get to see the entire film completely digitally remastered as opposed to the dreary edited VHS versions and bootlegs that have been floating around for the past several years. The great and mighty horror video gods have truly smiled upon us.

While not exactly packing extras, Vengeance of the Zombies still comes home to us in top form. It’s all about the transfer here, people. The film has simply never looked better. Hell, I’d buy this even if it were bare bones, but thankfully we do get a bit of meat.

Vengeance of the Zombies DVD (click for larger image)The film itself is introduced by Naschy bringing with him a brief synopsis of what it meant to him to have starred in and written it. After the feature we get to poke around an odd assortment of goodies such as the alternate “clothed versions” of some of the flick’s racier scenes. You know killing a chicken onscreen is perfectly acceptable to some folks in Spain, but popping out a titty? That’s just taboo! Also included are the original Spanish opening credit sequence, a fairly extensive still gallery, the U.S. trailer, and some rather comprehensive liner notes from author Mirek Lipinski.

Speaking of which …

Just from the cover of the film, you can see the vibe the distributors were going for with this release was an old faded bootleg VHS look. The liner notes themselves appear pretty much the same way with tiny specks of dust and smudges. It’s apparent that a lot of thought went into the look and feel of this DVD, but someone blundered. You see the art on the DVD itself is taken from a picture on the liner notes, but whoever decided to use this image forgot to rid it of the words Liner Notes. That’s right! The actual title on the disc reads, “Vengeance of the Zombies Liner Notes“. Sure, this is a little thing and doesn’t detract from the package at all, but I just had to mention it.

Naschy fans rejoice! This is the moment you’ve all waited so patiently for. A true foreign horror classic has come home, and it’s everything we hoped it would be. Buy it, pop it in, and bust out the hashish. It’s one hell of a trip, man. Far-fuckin’-out!

Special Features
Complete uncut version of the film with introduction by Paul Naschy
Spanish credit sequence
U.S. trailer
Still gallery
Alternate scenes
Liner notes by author Mirek Lipinski

Film:

4 out of 5

Special Features:

2 1/2 out of 5

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IAMX’s Alive in New Light Review – A Dark, Hypnotic, and Stunning Musical Endeavor

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Recording eight albums is an achievement no matter the artist, group, or band. This is especially true for Chris Corner’s IAMX, his solo project after the trip hop group Sneaker Pimps, which has enchanted listeners since 2004’s Kiss + Swallow with its dark electronic aesthetic. There’s something fascinating about the music Corner puts out as IAMX. Perhaps it’s the underlying melancholy that seems to pervade the music, almost certainly a result of the musician’s battle with depression and chronic insomnia [Source]. Perhaps it’s the unexpected melodies that reveal themselves with each new measure. Whatever it is, IAMX’s music is a constant delight.

On Alive in New Light, Corner reveals that his eighth album was a product he created as a way of “…breaking free from demons that have long plagued him,” per an official press release. Strangely enough, this uplifting attitude may easily be overlooked but repeat listens unveil a sense of hope and wonder that are simply breathtaking. The title track echoes with almost angelic choir pads that positively shine as Corner exultingly cries in a shimmering falsetto, “I’m alive in new light!” This comes after the Depeche Mode-esque “Stardust”, which offers the first collaboration with Kat Von D, whose pure voice is a beautiful addition to the pulsating track.

The third track, “Break The Chains”, has an opening that immediately called to mind Birds of Tokyo’s “Discoloured”, which is meant as a compliment. It’s followed by the Nine Inch Nails influenced “Body Politics”, which meshes Corner’s crooning vocals with a 90’s industrial backdrop. “Exit” has an almost sinister progression lurking in the background that builds to an aggressive, in-your-face third act. The cinematic Middle Eastern flairs of “Stalker” mutate effortlessly into a heartbeat pulse that features back-and-forth vocals between Corner and Von D. The haunted circus vibe that permeates through “Big Man” is mirrored by its playful gothic aura, ghostly “oohs” and “aahs” sprinkled carefully here and there.

While the album has been a delight up to this point, it’s the final two tracks that took my breath away and left me stunned. “Mile Deep Hollow” builds layer after layer while Corner passionately cries out, “So thank you/you need to know/that you dragged me out/of a mile deep hollow/and I love you/you brought me home/because you dragged me out/of a mile deep hollow.” The way the song’s melodies back these wonderfully uplifting lyrics feels grand and epic, as though a journey is coming to an end, which is where “The Power and the Glory” comes in. Far more subdued, it’s a beautiful song that feels almost like a religious experience, a hymn of a soul that is desperate to claw its way to salvation and escape a life of pain and darkness.

What makes Alive in New Light so wonderful is how much there is to experience. I got the album and listened to it no less than five times in a row without pause. I simply couldn’t turn it off because each return revealed something new in the music. Corner also makes fantastic use of Von D’s vocals, carefully placing them so as to make them a treat and not a commonplace certainty.

While some may be disappointed that there are only nine tracks, each of the songs is carefully and meticulously crafted to be as powerful and meaningful as possible. It really is a stunning accomplishment and I’m nothing short of blown away by how masterfully Alive in New Light plays out.

  • Alive in New Light
5.0

Summary

IAMX’s Alive in New Light is a triumph of music. Full of beauty and confidence, it doesn’t forget the foundation that fans have come to know and love for over a decade but instead embraces that comfortable darkness with open arms. Corner states that this album was a way to break free from his demons. It certainly feels like he’s made peace with them.

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The Hatred Review – A History Lesson Dug Up From The Depths Of Hell

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Starring Zelda Adams, Lulu Adams, John Law

Directed by John Law


I don’t know about the scholastic interests the masses had (or have) that read all of the killer nuggets that get cranked out on this site, but when I was an academic turd, one of my true passions was history, and it was one of the only subjects that managed to hold my interest, and when the opportunity arose to check out John Law’s ultra-nightmarish feature, The Hatred – I was ready to crack the books once again.

The setting is the Blackfoot Territory in the late 1800s, and the pains of a lengthy conflict have taken their toll on the remaining soldiers as food has become scarce, and the film picks up with soldiers on the march in the brutal cold and snow covered mountainside. In tow is a P.O.W. (Law), and the decision is made by the soldiers to execute him in earnest instead of having to shorten their rations by feeding him, so he is then hung (pretty harshly done), and left to rot as the uniformed men trudge along. A short time later the group encounters a small family on the fringes of the territory, and when the demands for food are rebuked, the slaughter is on and the only survivor is a young girl (Adams) who prays to an oblivious god that she can one day reap the seeds of revenge upon those who’ve murdered her family. We all know that there are usually two sides to any story, and when the good ear isn’t listening, the evil one turns its direction towards those who need it most, and that’s when the Devil obliges.

The answer to the young girl’s prayers comes in the resurrection of the prisoner that was hung a short time ago, and he has been dubbed “Vengeance” – together their goal will be achieved by harshly dishing out some retribution, and the way it’s presented is drawn-out, almost like you’re strapped into the front-row pew of a hellfire-cathedral and force-fed the sermon of an evil voice from the South side of the tracks. It’s vicious and beautiful all at once, Law’s direction gives this visually-striking presentation all the bells and whistles to please even the harshest of critics (hell, you’re reading the words of one right now). The performances, while a bit stoic in nature, still convey that overall perception of a wrong that demands to be righted, no matter how morally mishandled it might be. Overall, I can absolutely recommend The Hatred for not only those wanting a period-piece with ferocious-artistry, but for others who continue to pray with no response, and are curious to see what the other side can offer.

  • Film
3.5

Summary

The Hatred is a visually-appealing look into the eyes of animus, and all of the beauty of returning the harm to those who have awarded it to others.

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Before We Vanish Review – A Quirky and Original Take on Alien Invasions

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Starring Masami Nagasawa, Ryûhei Matsuda, Hiroki Hasegawa

Written by Kiyoshi Kurosawa

Directed by Kiyoshi Kurosawa


During the J-horror rampage of the late 90’s and early 2000’s, Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Kairo (aka Pulse). A dark, depressing, and morose tale of ghosts that use the internet to spread across the world, the film’s almost suffocatingly gloomy atmosphere pervaded across every frame of the film. Because of my love of this film, I was eager to see the director’s upcoming movie Sanpo Suru Shinryakusha (aka Before We Vanish), which follows three aliens who recently arrived on Earth and are preparing to bring about an alien invasion that will wipe humanity from the face of the planet. Imagine my surprise when the film turned out to be barely a horror title but was instead a quirky and surreal dramedy that tugged at my heartstrings.

Admittedly, I was thrown completely for a loop as the film begins with a scene that feels perfectly at home in a horror film. Akira (Tsunematsu), a teenage girl, goes home and we enter moments later to blood splashed on the walls and floor and bodies strewn about. However, the disturbing visuals are spun around as the young girl walks down a highway, her clothes and face streaked with blood, Yusuke Hayashi’s music taking on a lighthearted, almost jaunty attitude. From there, we learn of the other two aliens (yes, she’s an alien and it’s not a secret or a twist, so no spoilers there): Amano (Takasugi), who is a young man that convinces a sleazy reporter, Sakurai (Hasegawa), of his true form and tasks Sakurai with being his guide, and Shinji (Matsuda), the estranged husband of Narumi (Nagasawa).

What sets these aliens, and their mission, apart from other invasion thrillers is their means of gathering information. They’re not interested in meeting leaders nor do they capture people for nefarious experimentations. Rather, they steal “concepts” from the minds of people, such as “family”, “possession”, or “pest”. Once these concepts are taken, the victim no longer has that value in their mind, freed from its constraints.

While this may seem like a form of brainwashing, Kurosawa instead plays with the idea that maybe knowing too much is what holds us back from true happiness. A man obsessed with staking claim to his family home learns to see the world outside of its walls when “possession” is no longer a part of his life. A touchy boss enters a state of child-like glee after “work” has been taken. That being said, there are other victims who are left as little more than husks.

Overly long at 130 minutes, the film does take its time showing the differences between the aliens and their individual behaviors. Amano and Akira are casually ruthless, willing to do whatever it takes to send a beacon to begin the alien invasion, no matter how many must die along the way, while Shinji is the curious and almost open-minded one, whose personal journey finds him at one point asking a priest to envision and describe “love”, a concept that is so individualistic and personal that it can’t be taken, much less fathomed, by this alien being. While many of these scenes are necessary, they could have easily been edited down to shave 10-15 minutes, making the film flow a bit more smoothly.

While the film begins on a dark note, there is a scene in the third act that is so pure and moving that tears immediately filled my eyes and I choked up a little. It’s a moment of both sacrifice and understanding, one that brings a recurring thread in the story full circle.

With every passing minute, Before We Vanish makes it clear that it’s much more horror-adjacent than horror. An alien invasion thriller with ultimate stakes, it will certainly have appeal to genre fans. That being said, those who go in expecting action, violence, and terror will certainly be disappointed. But those whose mind is a bit more open to a wider range of possibilities will find a delightful story that attempts to find out what it means to be human, even if we have to learn the lesson from an alien.

  • Before We Vanish
4.0

Summary

Before We Vanish is a beautiful, wonderful tale that explores what it means to be human when faced with the threat of extinction.

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