Archive for January, 2014

[Film Review/Haus of Horror] Prince of Darkness (1987)

Posted in Film Review, Haus of Horror with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 22, 2014 by Casey Hutton
Photo Courtesy of John Carpenter.

Photo Courtesy of John Carpenter.

I’ve always been a fan of John Carpenter. I grew up watching his films during the 1980’s and 1990’s, in particular, films such as The ThingBig Trouble in Little China and Escape from New York. All were favorites of my father and were frequently played in our household. Some titles, however, were ones I adored through the years but seemed to have slipped through the cracks, going relatively unnoticed amongst my circle and when I get a chance to throw them into my player, I tend to geek out. One such film, his 1987 release, Prince of Darkness, is a film that fits into this particular category and one, after having a hankering to watch, have done so and now want to share.

Prince of Darkness is the second title in what Carpenter likes to call his ‘Apocalypse Trilogy,’ which begins with The Thing and ends with In the Mouth of Madness. Obviously, growing up and being only six years of age at the time of this release, this wasn’t something I even pondered. However, now, it makes sense. Although not related in topic or content, all three deal with the end-of-times scenarios, whether by aliens or ultimate evil. According to the director himself, this screenplay was one that came to him while looking into atomic theory and theoretical physics. That tidbit is something to keep in mind while watching the film, as it might help explain why the approach taken wasn’t, and isn’t, one normally done.

The movie revolves around a priest who invites college professor Howard Birack, along with his chosen few of both academics and students, to investigate a curiosity in the basement of an old church located in Los Angeles. The thing in questioned stemmed from the death of another in the priesthood, and as chance would have it, possessions of the deceased are found by the mentioned priest (named Father Carlton). What he acquired was both the deceased journal and key. His own early investigations resulted in discovering not only the object, but also the fact the the deceased belonged to a long, near forgotten Christian sect called the Brotherhood of Sleep.

As the research team sets up, they begin to get mysterious readings. Combined with a text found within the old church, it is soon discovered by some within the group, Birack included, that the thing downstairs is actually corporeal embodiment of the Anti-Christ. Throw in some spewing liquid of possession, team member shenanigans and some mild bloodshed…well…you get the idea. Needless to say, as the more information is revealed to both the team and the viewers of the film, more and more fall prey to what lies inside the object. Homeless begin to gather and do creepy things outside. Team members go after one another to bring them into the fold, while those still untouched try to last through the weekend. What Carpenter does here that is different during this era of hack-and-slash horrors is offer plenty of tension. There isn’t much blood or gore. It’s all build up and release, as once the team reaches the church there is very little change of scenery.

One thing of note I found interest was the shared, reoccurring dream several of the team has. It is some form of tachyon transmission from the future. What is unique is, what you can gather as the dream happens again and again is that it is sent from the year one-nine-nine-nine…or 1999. A rather interesting choice given all the hubbub that actually occurred globally during this time.

As the film draws to a close, the evil is thwarted…or is it? In typical what-if fashion, Carpenter leaves the ending open to interpretation by letting the imagination run wild with what could possibly happen next as the credits roll.

This film has plenty of geek-tastics moments to those that are fans of Carpenters work, especially during this era. We see two fan favorites from Big Trouble in Little China return (Victor Wong and Dennis Dun), as well as other actors tied to his filmography, including Donald Pleasance. It’s also something of note that Alice Cooper makes an appearance in the film. Apparently, his manager was one of the executive producers and wanted the artist to write a song for the film. Carpenter cast him as one of the homeless that had fallen under the Darkness’ spell. During one scene, those familiar with the rockers performances during the era will notice the implement he uses to impale one of the researchers is actually the same from his stage act.

All in all, this is one of those under appreciated films that could possibly have slipped under your radar. If you want a suspense thriller that has that Carpenter feel, give this one a chance. Although nowhere near as after-theater popular as some of his films, it does have a small cult following. Plus, who would have thought a little theoretical science and atomic theory could bring about the end of the world?

[Music Review] Infestissumam by Ghost/Ghost B.C.

Posted in Music Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 22, 2014 by Casey Hutton

I will be the first to admit, sometimes I’m a little late to catch on to things in terms of popularity or trends. Occasionally it’s because things simply slip under my radar or, most often, it’s out of sheer stubbornness. I like what I like and that’s that. With music, however, it’s more due to lack of information. I’ve stopped listening to radio, getting my kicks from skulking through websites like Spotify or flipping through the digital pages of Paste Magazine.

The group known as Ghost, or if you’re like me and located in the United States, Ghost B.C. has been a name that has popped up several times as recommendations on various websites I frequent. I listened to an early release and brushed it off. But, lately, the Swedish group’s albums have been popping up rather often and finally, I gave them a chance…resulting in my socks being blown off my feet.

Courtesy of Ghost B.C. and Republic Records.

Courtesy of Ghost B.C. and Republic Records.

Instead of looking at the group as a whole for now, I wanted to focus on their most recent LP (they have an E.P. cover album out recently as well, but one thing at a time). So, let’s take a look at Infestissumam, their L.P. released on April 16th, 2013.

Track Listing:

  1. Infestissumam
  2. Per Aspera Ad Inferi
  3. Secular Haze
  4. Jigolo Har Megiddo
  5. Ghuleh/Zombie Queen
  6. Year Zero
  7. Body and Blood
  8. Idolatrine
  9. Depth of Satan’s Eyes
  10. Monstrance Clock

This album is, for lack of better words, outstanding. Gimmick aside, it’s melodic metal. The guitarists offer catchy hooks. The lead singer, once you look past the actual lyrics, delivers vocals I would not have expected, but go well with the music as a whole. To my ear, they are a mix between KISS and the Doors. Even their crunchier bits are bright and resonating and reminiscent of years past, specifically the 1960’s and early 1970’s.

My personal picks from the album is a little hard to narrow down, as there isn’t one track that doesn’t tickle my fancy in some fashion or another. That being said, however, I find myself listening to Secular Haze, Ghuleh/Zombie Queen, Year Zero, Body and Blood and Monstrance Clock heavily.

I invested in both the digital format, as well as the vinyl release. The digital release is as expected with no loss of quality. I have listened both through headphones and my mp3 player, as well as through my speaker set up. I can crank the volume to a more than adequate level before the levels begins to crackle out. The vinyl on the other had, sounds simply amazing. Warm and solid. It also comes in a translucent red which was a surprise. The artwork of the album is also simple, again reminiscent an earlier era, but does a well enough job of conveying the image of the band. In comparison to their first release, Opus Eponymous, I find Infestissumam easier to get into as a new listener to the band. However, their other releases will also be added to my shelf soon, but if you’re looking to check the them out, this title is the way to go.

Now, for the band as a whole. The group pushes the Satanic image to the max, and even a little beyond. For me, I’m all about the show and I get it. They have even claimed it is what it is, and unlike many of their Swedish ilk, don’t demand a seriousness from their fans. It’s a gimmick and whether or not anyone in the band actually follows this path is unknown. As a matter of fact, other than their music…not much is known about them period. The lead singer currently goes by the name Papa Emeritus II and the rest of the band goes by titles of Nameless Ghoul. Again, this is similar KISS, where back in their heyday not much was known outside of their stage presence.

Again, if the lyrics are a hiccup you can get past, these individuals are a must or anyone into the metal genre. It’s fresh, campy and all around fun. And honestly, I feel if the lyrics were a bit more…accessible, this band would have no trouble being near the top of the head in the industry. Instead, they stick to their image, creating the music they want and as a result, are winning over audiences all over the world even in spite of this.