Drag Me To H-E-Double Hockey Sticks

Drag Me To Hell

Hell yeah! Sam Raimi’s back to his roots with this off-the-wall scare-a-thon. Famous for the iconic Evil Dead trilogy and well liked Spider-Man trilogy, Sam’s return to the genre is a gooey rollercoaster that absolutely will not disappoint his fans. It’s been almost 16 years since Raimi’s last horror film and what better way to make his return than with a movie called “Drag Me To Hell?” It’s the perfect title for a film so twisted and cynical that it has no place on our godly Earth.

In the film, we follow a young and ambitious loan officer, Christine Brown (Alison Lohman), who hell rains down upon after she denies an aging gypsy a third extension on her mortgage. Because of this, Christine becomes cursed and ultimately tormented by the dreaded demon Lamia who literally intends on “Dragging her to hell” on the third day of the curse. What follows is 99 minutes of devilish silhouettes, popped eyeballs, spewing puss, plenty of puke and one damn scary handkerchief. A lot of Raimi’s die-hard fans have been disappointed by the film’s PG-13 rating, but I tell ya… Just because a movie isn’t gory doesn’t mean it can’t be disgusting and all out terrifying.

The only way I can describe it is “roller coaster ride”. Tension constantly builds and there’s always something lurking. My heart was pumping the whole time but who would have thought that a scary movie could also be so funny? Not since Raimi’s Evil Dead films have I seen such an off-the-wall take on the genre and this brought me back. Stooge-esque comedy was always been Raimi’s forte and somehow he’s mastered the balance between hilarious and horrific.

Written by Sam and his occasional collaborator Ivan (his older brother) this return makes me wish Sam would stick to horror from now on. I’m a fan of his non-horror films such as; Spider-Man, Darkman and A Simple Plan but this is where he excels. From the 1980s Universal opening to the first sequence of a young boy on the lam from the Lamia, Drag Me To Hell never stops being fun. It’s what I wish horror movies could be today and makes a great case for more comedy horror films.
I wouldn’t recommend DMH to the faint of heart but there’s a lot to like and the audience I saw it with loved it. Plus it currently has a 94% on Rotten Tomatoes. That’s pretty rare in the genre of horror and darn cool… Or should I say it’s “hella” cool? No, darn works better.

Kang of the Day

Today, May 29, 2009, our old friend and most active blogger, John, is finally 20 whole years old. But May 29 is more that just J-Dog’s birthday.

Today in 1985, some amputee guy finished a 14-month cross-Canada marathon, sounds like he can make it on his own! In 1953, Tenzing and Edmund Hillary summited Mt. Everest, and they probably agreed that once was enough. In 1935, they finished the Hoover Dam, god damn! In 1942, Bing Crosby, the Ken Darby Singers and the John Scott Trotter Orchestra record “White Christmas,” seven months before the holiday. In 1886, the first Coca Cola ad was printed. In 1790, Rhode Island ratified the Constitution and became the 13th state, in 1848, Wisconsin became a state. Wisconsin rules!

Today’s not just John’s birthday, either. A bunch of celebrities were also born today, like Annette Bening, Bob Hope, Rupert Everett, and composer extraordinaire, Danny Elfman. Speaking of musicians, he also shares his birthday with Noel Gallagher, La Toya Jackson, and Papa Roach. Of course, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the popular President John F. Kennedy.

Harvey Korman died today last year. Jeff Buckley died back in 1997. Probably some other people died too.

But I digress, today is John’s day! The man with the hands, our beloved director. The guy behind the scenes. Pull the strings!

I think you said you were goint to see Drag Me to Hell tonight, but maybe we can go see Up when I get home tomorrow?

As is customary in these posts, I’ve uploaded something on the Internet completely unrelated to the birthday boy. This time it was the missing Roommates episodes from school, along with a new final chapter. Check it out.

Measure Your Pleasure

Metric – Fantasies

I agree with John that there really hasn’t been much to post about lately. Hopefully that will change soon, with summer beginning, inFamous coming out and Up on Friday. Plus we all can’t wait for Nancy to post at the blog again. In the mean time, I’ve turned my attention toward music.

Music’s interesting for me, because I feel like I’ve got a good grasp on video games and movies, but with music there’s just so much out there, I feel like there are an infinite numbers of bands I’d love that I’ll never hear about. I’ve been looking for a new album to really capture my interest lately, something I could really get behind, like Our Ill Wills last year. I think I found it in this fourth release from Canadian indie group Metric.

This album is full of pulsing drums, synthesizers and a pretty lady singing (seriously, every review I’ve read seems desperate to point out that lead singer Emily Haines is pretty – what’s up with that?). The result is a series of very clean, catchy songs.

I heard that this band was influenced by groups like The Cars, Garbage and Blondie (all of them already in Rock Band) and that influence comes through here. These songs have that ’80s pop charm fused with a lot of modern/alternative/college/indie/whatever the hell I should call this genre.

I just found out about this album a couple days ago and it is already among my favorites for the year. If you’ve got 42 minutes that you don’t want to waste, why not download Fantasies?

Favorite Tracks: “Help, I’m Alive,” “Sick Muse,” “Gimme Sympathy,” “Stadium Love”

"Silver and Gold, Silver and Gold"

Golden Silvers – True Romance

Sure has been tough to come up with post ideas lately, so here’s an album review. I first heard about Golden Silvers while I was perusing around the interweb a week ago. You see sometimes when I feel the need for new music, I go on elaborate searches on various websites. I read about these guys from one of those “Bands to look for in 09′” type articles on a website for some British magazine. It’s pretty rare that I actually find I band that I like, even a little, so after hearing this trio’s dance friendly lead single “True Romance (True No. 9 Blues)” I decided to check em out and I’m glad I did.

Brimming with New Wave inspired dance pop and soft ballads, Golden Silvers’ debut may not be the most cohesive album but it’s got spunk and it’s swimming in style. “True Romance (True No. 9 Blues)” is the immediate draw with it’s smooth rhythm and retro synth. Lead singer/keyboardist Gwilym Gold is an entertaining front man with his lazy British delivery and both bassist Ben Moorehouse and drummer Alexis Nunez (no guitars here) provide some fun and bouncy doo wop-esque backup vocals. “Magic Touch” is another early favorite sounding similar to something Vampire Weekend might whip up.

Golden Silvers definitely reminds me of some combination of English 80s New Wave acts. I’m not going to try and sound cool like some hip critic saying it sounds like “The British MGMT” or “Early David Bowie and Elvis Costello team up” (I actually read some douche that wrote that) but it’s definitely a familiar 80s pop sound with some nice hints of modern alternative rock.

These guys definitely have Dance pop/rock down but their ballads need some work. Often I find songs dragging on with a so-so progression, just waiting for the next upbeat number. I mean sure it’s pleasant enough in the “easy listening” department but these guys are much more impressive tackling more energetic numbers… Maybe they’ll catch on to this as time goes by.

There’s plenty of room for this band to grow and I see a lot of potential. I’d really like to see how these guys are received when the album hits the U.S… Though come to think of it, I don’t know is this album has or hasn’t dropped stateside. It was released in the U.K. in April but it’s been a stretch finding info on Golden Silvers, they don’t even have a wikipedia page. Well they’ll have one some day, they certainly deserve it.

Favorite Tracks: “Arrows of Eros”, “Magic Touch”, “True Romance (True No. 9 Blues”

C.A.T.: Odessey & Oracle

The Zombies – Odessey and Oracle (1968)

Keeping in the tradition of doing Rock Band-related CAT’s I figured I’d do The Zombies’ 1968 album, Odessey and Oracle since they have a pair of songs coming out as Rock Band DLC today.  

Recorded in 1967 at Abbey Road studios, Odessey and Oracle was The Zombies second and final album that they would record as the group would disband by the time the album was finally released in 1968.  The album would be then re-released in 1969 when the single “Time Of The Season” became a surprise hit in the U.S.
There’s a very lush and symphonic sound to the production of Rod Argent and Chris White’s songs which are all complemented beautifully by Colin Blunstone’s breathy vocals.  It’s really hard not to love the unabashed optimism of songs like “Take Care of Cell 44” and “This Will Be Our Year”.  And yet Odessey and Oracle is also a very instrumentally complex album that’s certainly in the same league as other concept albums of the time such as Sgt. Pepper or Pet Sounds.
Even though The Zombies were lumped along with a lot of other lesser British invasion bands, you could already see that they were somewhat above their peers just from hearing the unique jazz influence on singles like “She’s Not There”.  And Odessey and Oracle stands as one of the best albums to come out of the British Invasion and probably the ’60s in general.  Truly a gem of an album if there ever was one.
Favorite Tracks: “Take Care of Cell 44”, “Brief Candles”, “This Will Be Our Year”

Terminator Frustration

Terminator Salvation

Like many kids that grew up in the go-go nineties I was a big Terminator fan, well more specifically Terminator 2. Recently, I watched the first three films again to prep for Terminator Salvation. In my reevaluation of the series, I’ve come to respect the first one even more (though the effects are dated), I still love the second and I find the third one to be stupid but a good popcorn flick. How does this one rank? Probably similar to how I felt about T3 but T3 had one thing this didn’t and that’s Arnold.

Set in 2018 (not too far off), we follow a grizzled John Connor (Christian Bale) as part of a resistance fighting against Skynet in a post-apocalyptic war-zone. The Machines are killing and capturing people for experiments and becoming more advanced as John tries to fulfill his prophecy. Meanwhile, a convict named Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington) put to death years ago, has awoken to discover he is no longer human but a machine. Eventually, these characters join forces to fight Skynet, save a kidnapped Kyle Reese (Anton Yelchin) aka the good guy that traveled back in the first one and blow up a lot of shit.

Obviously, Terminator Salvation is meant to entertain as an effect’s laden summer blockbuster, which it does on occasion. Digging deeper, I’m sad to say there isn’t much to keep me invested. Then again, what can you expect from a movie that went through seven writers and was directed by a man known only as “McG”? Sounds like it was doomed from the beginning.

It’s tough sitting through a new installment without Arnold, but I did like some of the cast. Sam Worthington was serviceable as the conflicted Marcus and Anton Yelchin is a young talent that’s fun to watch. Christian Bale’s raspy John Connor didn’t have much depth but I’d lay most of that blame on the writing. As for Bryce Dallas Howard, Common, Michael Ironside and everyone else, they as well had to deal with playing hollow characters in a hollow movie.

One thing that made me happy was seeing James Cameron’s metallic creations on screen again. They look great with the advances in technology and CGI and some of the new designs are a nice addition. The look of the film has a gritty feel to it and I like the action sequences. The film has been criticized for an overabundance of action scenes but I found it balanced. If anything the weakness of the plot is film’s biggest downfall.

Compared to the original films this doesn’t feel much like a Terminator movie. If you can’t have Arnold than why even bother? He’s what made the films popular and without him or Cameron, it’s not the same. Frankly, I don’t think they should have made a third one. To me Terminator Salvation felt like more of an attempt to capitalize on an established brand than tell a good story. Perhaps I should have listened to the critics but as a fan, I felt like seeing this was my duty. I just hope this is one series that “won’t be back” for another installment. Though I know we’ll get another. Maybe sometime in the distant year of 2018.

Together We Stand

Bob Dylan – Together Through Life

Bob Dylan’s really been on a roll with his last few albums, each of them showing him exploring a no-nonsense blues-rock sound.  His latest release, Together Through Life sees him pretty much exploring the same sound, but it’s still another enjoyable album from one of rock’s most prolific artists.

Dylan’s backing band sounds just as tight as ever bringing a mix country, blues, and rockabilly that’s very much in the same vein as his previous album, Modern Times.  However, theres a bit of a Mexican sound (I’m not sure else how to describe it) to songs like “Beyond Here Lies Nothing” and “This Dream of You”, and I definitely dig it.  Dylan also reworks the lyrics of another blues standard just like he did on Modern Times, this time Willie Dixon’s “I Just Want To Make Love To You” has been turned into Dylan’s “My Wife’s Home Town”.
Dylan’s lyrics on Together Through Life are just as playful as they’ve ever been and his raspy vocal delivery really works for the charmingly muddy sound of the album.  You can really tell that Dylan and his band have had what seems like an almost endless touring schedule, because they really seem to be comfortable with each other as the instrumental work has a loose but nonetheless focused quality to it.
So Together Through Life doesn’t break a whole lot of new ground for Dylan but it still offers some solid tunes to an already astounding body of work and it’s certainly nice to see that Dylan’s been able to carve out such a consistent string of albums this late in his career.

Favorite Tracks: “Beyond Here Lies Nothin'”, “If You Ever Go To Houston”, “I Feel A Change Comin’ On”