Young Halloween Horror Fest

Young Frankenstein (1974)

For some reason, I thought I’d never seen this Mel Brooks comedy homage to the Universal monster movies, so I bought the DVD. Turns out, I have seen this film – I remembered it as I watched. Even so, the DVD (which cost a fiver) has turned out to be a good investment.

Seann Walsh plays Frederick Frankenstein – sorry, that should be Gene Wilder plays Frederick Frankenstein, or as he pronounces it, “Fronkensteen”. Grandson of the late Victor Frankenstein of monster making infamy, Frederick inherits his family’s Transylvanian estate.

Aided by a beautiful assistant, Inga (Teri Garr) and hunchbacked servant Igor (Marty Feldman, stealing every scene), the younger Frankenstein discovers his grandfathers secret manuscripts. Abandoning his previous scorn of his ancestors work, Frederick decides to resume the experiments and reanimate the dead…

Young Frankenstein turned out to be very enjoyable. It’s genuinely very funny – not every gag works, but there’s enough life in the script to generate some real laugh-out-loud moments. The cast are perfect – Marty Feldman is great, and Peter Boyle as The Monster has both comedy and pathos.

The black and white cinematography is gorgeous, and the sets and scenery make this film a great tribute to the old monster movies. Highly recommended for some light-hearted Halloween fun.

8.5/10

The Resident (2011)

It’s a Hammer film, and Christopher Lee is in it! What more do you need to know? This is the modern incarnation of Hammer, and good old Chris Lee is here to add a touch of class.

Juliet Devereau (Hilary Swank) is an ER doctor, who has split with her husband and rents a too-good-to-true New York apartment from Max (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). It doesn’t take long for Juliet to feel that something isn’t right. In fact, someone is stalking her, watching her every move, and her life is at risk…

Not supernatural in anyway, this film has more in common with the old thrillers that Hammer used to churn out. The Resident is actually a very suspenseful movie, slow burning at first, but accelerating through paranoia to a violent climax.

It’s great to see Christopher Lee, but the two leads are the real stars. In particular Jeffrey Dean Morgan in a pre-Negan role, showing his masterful ability to personify a charming psychopath.

8/10

Tragedy – Gig Review

Tragedy

Wednesday 9th March 2016

The Live Rooms, Chester

It’s my first gig of the year, and another visit to the ever reliable Live Rooms in Chester for some rock’n’roll.  I’ve had a few rockin’ parties at this venue, but this night was destined for greatness.  The exquisite Disco Metal of the one and only Tragedy was scheduled to set the sky on fire with dazzling party anthems.

Finding common ground between the opposing world of heavy metal and disco was never going to be an easy task.  They’re two genres of music that repel like the same sides of a magnet.  But with Tragedy, the water and oil can, and do, mix.  It’s a hard rockin’ combination of guitar and high pitched disco vocals in a totally crazy metal tribute to the Bee Gees (and beyond).

A heavy metal tribute to the Bee Gees is only the beginning, you see.  As well as Brothers Gibb classics like “Staying Alive” and “Night Fever”, their set is expanded to take in other disco and pop classics.  The mutated songs feature glimpses of riffs from Van Halen, Pantera and more.  One of my highlights was the ridiculously fun idea of warping the intro from Slayer’s “Raining Blood” into “It’s Raining Men”!

Part of the fun of this Tragedy gig was spotting chunks of recognisable metal riffs, and then being dumbfounded by how the band weave them into a late 70’s disco style.  The mash up is suitably gory too – these gruesome Frankensteins have no qualms when it comes to hacking limbs from one sweet pop track and stitching them maniacally to a heavy metal corpse.

With a light show and numerous skits introducing the songs (not to mention Lance the towel boy bumbling across the stage) it’s all very entertaining.  And professional, without being soulless.

For any metal fan with a sense of humour, Tragedy are well worth seeing.  You’ll have a hard time finding a more bonkers night out anywhere.  Great fun!

The Tragedy website is here.

The Live Rooms website is hereTragedy

Halloween Horror Fest Hollow

Halloween is over, but as ever, I’m behind with reviewing the films I’ve watched this October.  So here we go…

Bigfoot Wars (2014)

Now I’m a big fan of Bigfoot movies.  The Legend of Boggy Creek is, in my book, a total classic.  So I was intrigued by Bigfoot Wars and definitely wasn’t put off by the obvious low budget, straight to video fest that I was letting myself in for. bigfoot

The story, in a nutshell, is this: a small town (named Boggy Creek, interestingly enough) has a problem with marauding Bigfoot abducting the local females.

Unfortunately it is all a bit cheap, at least as far as the script goes.  The sasquatch look pretty scary and manage to introduce a good dose of tension to the proceedings.  However the story is fairly lame and obvious, with rather poor acting and dialogue.  Some guy called C Thomas Howell is the token ex-big name slumming it; but his performance is unintelligible.

As a fan of Bigfoot movies, there was enough here for me to enjoy.  However I couldn’t really recommend Bigfoot Wars to anyone else.

5/10

Sleepy Hollow (1999)

Tim Burton directed this version of the Washington Irving story, and it really is superb.  The design and cinematography are spell binding; the story rattles along at a great pace, and the cast is rammed with an unbelievable level of talent. Sleepy

Our old mate Johnny Depp plays Ichabod Crane, who in this version is a detective, sent to the remote town of Sleepy Hollow to investigate some hideous murders.  It appears that the locals are being decapitated by a  Headless Horseman, though why is a mystery.  Crane must use his rational, scientific sensibilities to put a stop to the carnage – though it appears that the events may be of supernatural origin after all…

Apparently this film is Tim Burton’s tribute to Hammer horror; it’s easy to see why with the scenes of stage coaches rolling through gloomy forests.  A cameo from the late, great Christopher Lee further exaggerates the point.  Lashings of blood also help to underscore the tribute to sixties horror.

Sleep Hollow is exceptionally well made – it looks incredible and the story is riveting.  Whilst the motivations are a little convoluted, it all comes together in the end.  Highly recommended for some blood thirsty thrills, and worthy of repeated viewings.

9/10

Stipe – Live at Alexander’s

Stipe

Friday 24th April 2015

Alexander’s, Chester 

OK, so I know I’ve already written about this band once this year.  But I went to see them again, and I think a brief write-up is in order.

The last time we saw StipeR.E.M. tribute band extraordinaire – you may remember, was in Chester’s Live Rooms.  A larger venue than I’d seen them in previously.  It was a great gig.  This time around, we were back to Alexander’s, also in Chester, but a smaller, more intimate place.  How did the band fare?

Well Alexander’s is hardly a downgrade.  It’s a very cool, laid back venue with a positive vibe.  Though in this smaller room, the close proximity of the band really makes the experience a welcoming one.

The music sounds clear, sharp, immediate.  Stipe are not merely a carbon copy tribute band; even if I forget about the brilliant musicianship, they manage to accomplish much more than just replicate the music of R.E.M.  There’s a love for the original material that can really be heard in this venue, and makes the songs that bit more true and warm.

Unfortunately there’s no keyboards, so still no “Nightswimming” (sad face Mrs Platinum Al).  But the absolute total highlight for me is a sublime rendition of “Drive”, one of my favourite R.E.M. songs, delivered gracefully.  Blinding version of “Losing My Religion”, too.

Another fine gig from Stipe.  This band are authentic, sincere and able to create a genuine atmosphere.  Thank you.

The Alexander’s website is here.

Stipe’s Facebook page is here.

Stipe’s website is here.

Live Wire – AC/DC Tribute Gig Review

Live Wire

Friday 17th October 2014

The Tivoli, Buckley

Cast your minds back to mid-October.  I took a brief break from my Hallowe’en Horror Fest movie reviews and paid another visit to the Tivoli in Buckley for another night of rock’n’roll.

Performing this night were Live Wire – an AC/DC tribute band.  I’ve witnessed the real thing a few years back (at Milton Keynes Bowl on their Stiff Upper Lip tour, fact fans), but only the once.  Tickets for the real AC/DC are like centaur shit these days, so I was very happy to check out a tribute to the greatest rock’n’roll band in the world instead.

The thing with tribute bands is, they either sound like who they’re meant to be, or they look like their idols.  Not both.  Or in the case of bad tribute bands, they try to sound or look like the originals, and fail on both counts.

I am very happy to report however that Live Wire have got the full wish list sewn up.  Sewn up neatly on a denim jacket with all the patches on.

The act is split into two halves: first we see the Bon Scott years.  The set list includes classics from the era like “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap”, “Riff Raff”, “Touch Too Much” and “Whole Lotta Rosie”.  It’s my all time fave “Highway to Hell”, though, that makes me grow horns and a tail and punch the air like a little metal demon.  Magic. livewire1

The Bon Scott-a-like is uncannily impressive in his role as the late, great hell raiser.  The voice is spot on.  The sound overall is impeccable, plus every song is a gem.

Next up we have the Brian Johnson years, which thunders in with “Rock’n’Roll Train” and simply does not stop.  Live Wire’s Brian not only possess the same forged-in-fire vocal chords, he moves the same too.  Wearing the trademark flat cap, Brian stalks the stage in typical hunched up form and belts out the rock.

The rock that is belted out includes “Back in Black”, “You Shook Me All Night Long” plus an absolutely dynamite version of “Thunderstruck”.

So the singers perform admirably.  The band, too, are top notch.   Though Live Wire’s Angus Young looks a lot taller, he’s got all the moves dialled – right down to mooning the audience.  Malcolm also looks perfect – strumming away, head nodding.  I couldn’t see the other guys though, sorry.

It was a truly electric night in the Tiv.  The place was packed tighter than Rosie’s bra and the punters loved it.  The encore saw Bon and Brian unite for “Let There Be Rock”.  Finally, Brian led the band through a raging “For Those About to Rock…”, complete with cannon fire.

Absolutely great fun.  I’d happily see Live Wire again any time.  High voltage rock’n’roll, indeed.

Visit Live Wire’s web page here.

Visit the Tivoli’s web page here.