Bucket of Halloween Horror Fest

The Gorgon (1964)

There have been several murders in the village of Vandorf in Central Europe, where the victims bodies are turned to stone. Following the death of his son Bruno, Professor Heitz (Michael Goodliffe) suspects all is not as it seems, and decides to investigate what the locals are hiding – and what they are so afraid of.

The Professor believes something hideous from ancient Greek mythology stalks the area, and seeks the help of Doctor Namaroff (Peter Cushing). Namaroff will not cooperate and the Professor meets his end when he sees the terrible face of Megeara, the Gorgon. Heitz manages to write a letter to his son Paul (Richard Pasco), before he is turned to stone.

Paul Heitz arrives in Vandorf to pick up the investigation, where he finds Namaroff similarly unhelpful. Carla, Namaroff’s assistant, played by Barbara Shelley, promises to assist Paul. But is there any truth to the myth of the Gorgon, and will there be time to solve the mystery before any more deaths occur?

I was sceptical at first, but The Gorgon successfully manages to transplant Greek myth to the more typical Gothic Hammer style. Christopher Lee turns up as Paul’s mentor, Professor Meister, in a great role – and Barbara Shelley is captivating in every scene. The film looks gorgeous, the lighting and shadows creating a stylish atmosphere – you’ll find it hard to look away, even when the Gorgon is on screen! A slightly different, but very fulfilling horror from Hammer.

8.5/10

Halloween Horror Fest 2021

Departing platform 13, the next ghost train to Halloween Horror Fest! Your wait is almost over – through the undulating mist, with a shrill blast of it’s piercing whistle, your carriage has arrived. Collect your belongings, get ready, the journey is about to begin…

Yes folks, that’s right – welcome once again to Halloween Horror Fest, where I will be viewing several macabre movies and providing you with a short, easily digestible overview. Whether old or new, classic or ropey, the month of October always brings the gruesome goodness – and this year Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub will feature plenty of it.

Let’s get the (heads) rolling with these first morsels…

Gremlins (1984)

OK, I know – Gremlins is set during the Christmas period, but come on – it’s still totally appropriate for Halloween. We chose this movie as something we could watch with our own little Wednesday Addams, as freaky family entertainment. And seasonally, this film fits in nicely between now and the end of the year. Like Jack Skellington, this movie can bridge the festivals, too!

Surely you know the story, but for a quick recap: young Billy (Zach Galligan) receives a cute new pet for Christmas, a Mogwai named Gizmo. Gizmo doesn’t need batteries, but he does come with a very definite set of instructions. When these rules are accidentally broken, Billy’s small town is overrun by a throng of small, malicious creatures – all of whom are bent of murderous mayhem.

Excellent design and animatronics make both Gizmo and the ghastly Gremlins a wonderful watch, and though the plot is fairly obvious, Director Joe Dante delivers all the jeopardy and fun the viewer could ask for. Plus, I was very happy as the delightfully beautiful Phoebe Cates is in this movie. A great film to kick off Halloween Horror Fest 2021!

9/10

(10/10 from Daughtertron)

Bucket of Blood (1959)

Next up on my viewing list was “Bucket of Blood”, a black and white B-movie from the legendary Roger Corman. It’s a dark comedy horror, set amongst the groovy Beatnik culture of the time, which it explores and satirises at the same time.

Dick Miller (who also appeared in Gremlins, fact fans!) appears as Walter, a not-too-bright café worker who is in awe of the hip clientele. When an accident results in Walter killing a cat, he encases it in modelling clay and the “statue” becomes a minor sensation amongst the beat kids, oblivious to how Walter created such a piece.

Encouraged by those he admires, and through a series of misadventures, Walter ends up graduating to becoming a serial killer as he attempts to increase his artistic prowess and his social standing.

Though low budget, this movie is very watchable – not least because of Miller’s performance and a fast pace. Yes the Beatnik theme dates the film, but “Bucket of Blood” has humour and charm as a movie, even if it is somewhat grisly.

7.5/10

EMQs with… Platinum Al

Last year, in the depths of lockdown and with no live entertainment to review, the glorious website that is Ever Metal was kind enough to open up their Ever Metal Questions series to the reviewers. As an EM contributor I was finally able to fulfil a lifelong ambition – and satisfy my enormous ego – by being interviewed for the site.

The questions were pretty much what we ask musicians, only I had the privilege of answering them myself. And now, in a move that confirms that I really have no shame, I proudly re-present the same interview here, at the Virtual Hot Tub. Well, it is my birthday this month…

Enjoy!

What is your name, what do you do, and can you tell us a little bit about how you ended up doing it?

My name’s Alun, AKA Platinum Al.  I write some reviews for Ever Metal, which came about through meeting Rick and Beth at Pentre Fest a while back.  “I can write!” I lied, and they’ve been too kind to bin me off ever since.

What Country/Region are you from and what is the Metal/Rock scene like there?

North Wales in the UK.  We seem to be a bit out in the wilderness to the outsider, but thankfully there are a few venues that put good bands on in Chester and Wrexham (both nearby) and of course, the good old Tivoli in Buckley (just up the road).  Liverpool and Manchester are both accessible.  The big win for us though is Pentre Fest – and all the other events that North East Wales Metal Productions put on.  It’s introduced me to loads of new music and it’s right on my doorstep. 

What is your favourite latest release? (Album, EP, Single, Video)

Desert Storm’s “Omens” on APF Records is album of the year so far.  Beyond that, I’m still reeling from the wonder of Giant Dwarf’s self-titled master piece, my album of 2019.

Who have been your greatest influences, in music or in life?

George Lucas, for Star Wars – which influenced me more than anything since I was five years old.  Stan Lee and Marvel comics have also been a big inspiration.  Skateboarding in general has opened my eyes and ears to the wonder of the world since my teens. 

In music, there’s dozens: Johnny Cash, Motorhead, AC/DC, Ramones, the Damned, The Misfits, Black Sabbath, The Cult, Soundgarden, Led Zeppelin, Queen, Monster Magnet, COC, Melvins, Jimi Hendrix etc etc.

What first got you into music?

I listened to the Star Wars soundtrack first of all; it still has an amazing emotional response on me even now.  The next big development was seeing the film Highlander, which I loved.  A friend of mine recommended the Queen album A Kind of Magic as it featured several songs from the film, and it’s been downhill from there.  Thankfully, through skateboarding I was introduced to music that was a bit off the beaten track, shall we say.

Which current bands or musicians would you like to see collaborate on a record?

Good question!  How about Shakin’ Stevens – the Welsh Elvis – fronting the Misfits?  Danzig can write the songs.

If you could go to any festival in the world, which would you choose and why?

Pentre Fest!

What’s the weirdest music related thing you own?

I have some pretty weird vinyl in my collection, like Roland Rat, the Wurzels and an album called “How to Strip for Your Husband”.   Oh, and a Joan Collins work out record.

If you had one message for your Ever Metal readers, what would it be?

Never ever bloody anything ever.

If you could bring one rock star back from the dead, who would it be?

So many greats to choose from (sadly).  I’ll nominate my old mate Lemmy, as I probably embarrassed myself when I met him by talking bollocks.

If you could change one thing about the music industry, what would it be?

Stop developing new formats – you lied to us about CDs when vinyl was the ultimate.  There are some albums I own on vinyl, tape, CD and download – and I’ve had to buy every single one.  Can we all just agree to not buy whatever new garbage format they try and lumber us with in the future? 

Name one of your all-time favourite albums?

Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols.

What’s best? Vinyl, Cassettes, CD’s or Downloads?

Vinyl, obviously!

What’s the best gig that you have been to, and why?

Black Sabbath at Birmingham Genting Arena on their “The End” tour is up there.

What do you get up to when you’re not writing/ taking photos?

Working the day job and being a dad mostly.  Then listening to music, skateboarding, riding my bike, watching old Hammer horror movies, collecting toys, drinking beer.

Which five people would you invite to a dinner party?

Sir Christopher Lee, Johnny Cash, Jimi Hendrix, Joey Ramone and Lemmy.

If they have to be alive, then James Hetfield, Glenn Danzig, Dave Vanian, Henry Rollins and pro skateboarder Mike Vallely.

Jaffa Cakes? Are they a cake or a biscuit?

I don’t know, but I had cherry ones in Greece and they were amazing!

Thank you for your time. Is there anything else that you would like to add?

Just thanks for giving me the opportunity to flaunt my massive ego by doing an interview, it’s something I’ve always wanted to do!  HAHA!

Oh, and to the readers of Ever Metal: thanks for reading, and never forget that we are fans just like you and we do this for the love of the music.  Never say die!

Read more Ever Metal staff EMQs here.

Cocktail Time: Valencian Orange

Summer is here! Warm sunny days, late nights, relaxing by the pool. Paddling pool, that is, as travel is still something out of reach for most of us at the moment. But never fear: Platinum Al is here with the perfect cocktail to enjoy on a balmy evening as you watch the sun go down.

The Valencian Orange cocktail can be a potent concoction, as you can tell from the ingredients. It should, of course, be made with freshly squeezed Valencian oranges, but as that’s a bit impossible at the moment, regular freshly squeeezed will have to do.

Valencian Orange Cocktail

  • Vodka
  • Gin
  • Sugar
  • Cava
  • Freshly squeezed orange juice

You’ll need a large glass (see the big wine glass in the picture for reference). Add one measure of vodka, one measure of gin, and a teaspoonful of sugar.

Next, pour in a generous amount of Cava. There’s no specified measure for this, so play around with it to your taste. I’d aim for a small glass of wine’s worth for starters. You can play around with all of these measures to get your preferred taste.

Finally, top up with the freshly squeezed orange juice, et voila – one Valencian Orange cocktail.

TIP: The cava and the orange juice both need to be chilled (or ice cold) – as ice cubes will melt and water down the taste.

In the accompanying photo, you’ll notice that the glasses feature a sugared rim. This is really just for appearances. You can recreate this with grenadine and sugar, mixed on a plate – which you then place the rim of the glass into, upside down. Obviously, do this part of the creation before you put the liquid in the glass…

Now you’re free to enjoy this great cocktail. It’s refreshing, fruity and potentially heady, all in one drink. Enjoy!

Soundtrack: Spanish Caravan by The Doors, Gipsy Kings, Rodrigo y Gabriela.

Disclaimer: I’ve never been to Valencia. I stole this recipe from an episode of Travel Man, starring one of my heroes, Richard Ayoade.

Singles Night at the Virtual Hot Tub #22

Time for another twenty slices of 7 inch vinyl goodness, with Singles Night at Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub!

You know what that means: an evening of me playing through a stack of vinyl singles, one after the other, whilst imbibing the booze. It’s more fun than it sounds, honest! There are untold treasures in my pile of records waiting to be rediscovered – plus a few duds that should be consigned to the pop junk pile.

Join me now, on yet another daring voyage into my vinyl collection…

  1. Paul Simon – “You Can Call Me Al” / “Gumboots”
  2. Steppenwolf – “Hey Lawdy Mama” / “Twisted”
  3. Steppenwolf – “Born to be Wild” / “The Pusher”
  4. Iggy Pop – “Livin’ on the Edge of the Night” / “The Passenger”
  5. C.W. McCall – “Convoy” / “Long Lonesome Road”
  6. Belinda Carlisle – “Do You Feel Like I Feel?” / “Do You Feel Like I Feel? (Dance Mix)”
  7. The Dave Clark Five – “Glad All Over” / “I Know You”
  8. Chris Montez – “Let’s Dance” / Lonnie Mack – “Memphis”
  9. Dion & The Belmonts – “A Teenager in Love” / “I Can’t Go On (Rosalie)”
  10. Hank Williams – “Honky Tonk Blues” / “I’ll Never Get Out of This World Alive” / “My Bucket’s Got a Hole in it” / “Baby, We’re Really in Love”
  11. Slade – “Skweeze Me, Pleeze Me” / “Kill ‘Em at the Hot Club Tonite”
  12. M – “Pop Muzik” / “M Factor”
  13. Nancy Sinatra & Frank Sinatra – “Somethin’ Stupid” / Frank Sinatra – “Call Me”
  14. Kylie Minogue – “What Do I Have to do” / “What Do I Have to do (Instrumental)”
  15. Queen – “You’re My Best Friend” / “’39”
  16. 10cc – “I’m not in Love” / “Good News”
  17. Rod Stewart – “Ain’t Love a Bitch” / “Scarred and Scared”
  18. David Bowie – “Sound and Vision” / “A New Career in a New Town”
  19. Eagles – “Witchy Woman” / “Earlybird”
  20. The Sweet – “Hell Raiser” / “Burning”

Well, I had to own a copy of that Paul Simon classic, right? And the Slade B-side is tantalisingly close to hot tub, though I wouldn’t want Noddy and pals murdering anyone in my Virtual Hot Tub.

A couple of Steppenwolf killers there: look at that Easy Rider style double A side! One of the most underrated bands ever. I was lacking an Iggy single in my collection, hence that purchase – but didn’t realise that “The Passenger” was on the B-side. That’s definitely going in my jukebox, when I get one.

Regular readers will know how much I adore the lovely Belinda Carlisle. That single is a picture disc, with a bonus photo and frame (see pic) – not bad for a 50p charity shop purchase. On the other hand, I’ve never rated Kylie (I much prefer her sister, phwooar!) – but that tune’s not bad.

With some legendary country and pop – not to mention awesome tunes from Queen, Bowie and Sweet – that’s a pretty damn fine playlist. “Convoy” was one of my earliest favourite songs, by the way.

I’ll be back soon with another Singles Night – stay tuned!

Hawarden Limerick

Several years ago, I wrote some poetry on a course I attended. Nothing serious, just having a bash. I’ve posted some of them before. This time, I thought I would share with you a limerick, which I hope will both amuse and entertain. And don’t worry, this composition is family friendly.

As a note of explanation, the village of Hawarden is situated near where I live, in North Wales. The name is pronounced “harden”, to rhyme with “garden”. It’s a nice place. Here is my poetic tribute:

 

Hawarden Limerick

There was an old man from Hawarden

Who had a monkey in his back garden

The monkey, so rude

Played with his food

And he never once said pardon.

 

I thank you.

 

Singles Night at the Virtual Hot Tub #21

I promised you lucky readers more Singles Night fun soon – and here you go. Another twenty 7″ vinyl singles, played one after the other, to create this sensational playlist.

Pour yourself a drink and join me, as we delve into the deep recesses of my thus far unplayed record collection for a night of rock’n’roll mayhem. Prepare to have your socks well and truly rocked…

  1. Chris Cornell – “Patience” / “Nothing Compares ” U”
  2. Sweet Apple – “I’ve Got a Feeling (That Won’t Change)” / “Dead Moon (Demo Version)”
  3. ABBA – “The Winner Takes It All” / “Elaine”
  4. The Knack – “My Sharona” / “Let Me Out”
  5. Free – “Wishing Well” / “Let Me Show You”
  6. Thin Lizzy – “The Boys Are Back in Town” / “Emerald”
  7. Cheap Trick – “I Want You to Want Me” / “Clock Strikes Ten”
  8. The Who – “5.15” / “Water”
  9. Bachman Turner Overdrive – “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet” / “Free Wheelin'”
  10. The Beach Boys – “Break Away” / “Celebrate the News”
  11. Stakker – “Humanoid” / “Humanoid (Part 2)”
  12. Flying Lizards – “Money” / “TV”
  13. Faith No More – “Anne’s Song” / “Greed”
  14. Hi Tek 3 ft. Ya Kid K – “Spin That Wheel (Turtles Get Real) 7″ Pizza Mix” / “7” Pizza Dub Mix”
  15. Phil Collins – “In the Air Tonight” / “The Roof is Leaking”
  16. Forrest – “Rock the Boat” / “Loving You”
  17. Stan Ridgway – “Camouflage” / “Rio Greyhound”
  18. Ella Fitzgerald – “Desafinado” / “Stardust (Bossa Nova)”
  19. Creedence Clearwater Revival – “Green River” / “Commotion”
  20. Python Lee Jackson – “In a Broken Dream” / “Boogie Woogie Joe”

Boom! What a great collection. My favourite Who song, Thin Lizzy’s best (?), BTO and Free. That Knack song is, of course, a classic – as is the Cheap Trick track. All were from a record fair (remember those?) if I recall correctly.

That Faith No More song is their very worst, by an otherwise spectacular band. I’m no Phil Collins fan really, but that track is pretty good, admit it. Throw in Flying Lizards and The Beach Boys and you’ve got a helluva playlist. And if you don’t love “Camouflage” there must be something wrong with you.

The Chris Cornell was a Record Store Day special which I picked up from VOD records in Mold. Great shop who also organised the record fair I mentioned above. Check them out here.

Till next time – keep rockin’!

Singles Night at the Virtual Hot Tub #20

Here we go with the first Singles Night of 2021! The Virtual Hot Tub is ecstatic with anticipation for the return of these playlists.

What’s it all about? Well, I’m glad you asked. The singles in question are 45rpm vinyl singles, which I have accumulated over time from various sources. The plan: listen to the records, side A then side B, one after the other without skipping any in the pile. Whilst drinking booze.

Let’s see how I got on this time…

  1. The Temptations – “Psychedelic Shack” / “That’s the Way Love Is”
  2. Queen – “Killer Queen” / “Flick of the Wrist”
  3. Buzzcocks – “I Don’t Mind” / “Autonomy”
  4. The Clash – “Bankrobber” / “Rockers Galore… UK Tour”
  5. The Clash – “Complete Control” / “City of the Dead”
  6. The Damned – “History of the World Part 1” / “I Believe the Impossible” / “Sugar & Spite”
  7. Skids – “Sweet Suburbia” / “Open Sound”
  8. The Beach Boys – “Mona” / “Rock and Roll Music” / “Sail on Sailor” / “Marcella”
  9. ABBA – “Head Over Heels” / “The Visitors”
  10. Bananarama – “Cheers Then” / “Girl About Town”
  11. The Belle Stars – “Sign of the Times” / “Madness”
  12. Chicory Tip – “Son of My Father” / “Pride Comes Before a Fall”
  13. John Farnham – “You’re the Voice” / “Going, Going, Gone”
  14. Stevie Wonder – “My Cherie Amour” / “Don’t Know Why I Love You”
  15. Bardo – “One Step Further” / “Lady of the Night”
  16. The Motors – “Love and Loneliness” / “Time for Make-Up”
  17. Hot Chocolate – “So You Win Again” / “A Part of Being with You”
  18. Elton John – “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” / “Screw You”
  19. Blondie – “The Tide is High” / “Susie and Jeffrey”
  20. Slade – “We’ll Bring the House Down” / “Hold on to Your Hats”

Twenty – count ’em – twenty great tracks. Well, mostly. A solid offering from the world of punk rock in that collection, with the Buzzcocks, Clash, Damned and Skids singles all being salvaged from a local charity shop. Lucky day.

I had a great night spinning these discs, there are some really awesome records to add to the collection there. Time for more soon. Stay tuned!

The Best of 2020

Well, that was a mad old year, wasn’t it? 2020 was more like a bizarre disaster movie than the regular fun ride that we’re used to. A pandemic made hermits of us all; working from home became the new normal for many and travel and events ceased to exist. A year from hell for most of us, though it’s far from over yet.

Here at Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub, we’ve aimed to soldier on and bring you the very best in blogging entertainment. Be it music, skateboards, toys or tat, whatever nonsense I could investigate was delivered with all the expected wit and style.

As is customary at this time, let’s take a look back at the top ten most popular blog posts of last year. Calling it “The Best of 2020” seems somewhat incongruous, but let’s roll with it for traditions sake.

10. Haiku – Autumn

An encouraging response to my creative writing, I was very surprised to see that this poetry piece in the Japanese Haiku style was my tenth most-read post of the year. Encore?

9. Firebreather – Under a Blood Moon Album Review

There was a distinct lack of live music in 2020 (Obviously), but quite a few album reviews for my old pals at Ever Metal. This review of Swedish doom metal band Firebreather’s album was the most read at the Virtual Hot Tub.

8. Halloween Horror Fest 2020

The first of my annual horror movie reviews of 2020, this one featured the Hammer version of Dracula.

7. The Best of 2019

I’m not sure if last years top 10 blogs appearing here is a good thing or not? Either way, 2019’s round up of the most popular blogs was a winner.

6. STYLE: Safari Jacket

2020 saw the materialisation of the long-promised STYLE section at the Virtual Hot Tub. This first blog, concerning the wonderful Safari jacket, got us off to a great start.

5. Skate Art: Liane Plant/Death Skateboards

A feature about some of my favourite skate art, as created by the super talented Liane Plant for Death skateboards. Awesome stuff.

4. SK88: Old School Skateboard Playlist

More skateboard based action, with a playlist of songs from my skating youth in the late 80’s. Full of stone-cold classics, these songs still inspire my sessions today.

3. Death Star Playset

I love my vintage Death Star playset. Setting it up with original Star Wars figures for some blog photos was a lot of fun, it’s great to see it was popular!

2. 1980s Skateboard Style

More skateboarding, and another successful entry for the STYLE section! It’s me, dressed in old skate clothes from the late 80s that still fit (or did, before lockdown).

…And what will be the most popular, widely read blog of 2020? Drum roll, please:

  1. Kantouni Village Sausage and Tzatziki

Yes, the most popular was this food blog, which benefitted from a genuine traditional recipe, and an idea to recreate a Greek holiday vibe with ingredients from the local supermarket.

As travel wasn’t happening this year for most of us, perhaps it’s no surprise that the Greek recipe blog came out on top. It was written as an ode to holidays and Mediterranean sunshine, something that wasn’t a possibility for many last year. I hope you found some nostalgic comfort from this post.

Usually my annual Top 10 has featured a load of comic con events – or similar – at the top of the list. Those events didn’t happen this year, so the Top 10 has a very different flavour. Who knows what 2021 will bring us?

Whatever the strange pan-dimensional cross flux of crazy brings us next, I’d like to thank you all for reading my blog. Please remember to pop by Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub as soon as you can!

Singles Night at the Virtual Hot Tub #19

Hit singles! All time classic songs! Novelty throw-away rubbish! From the cool to the crap, it’s all to be found at Platinum Al’s Virtual Hot Tub on a Singles Night.

You see, what I do is, listen to a pile of old 7 inch singles that have been languishing in my “not played yet” pile. They could have come from anywhere: genuine gems that I’ve tracked down; record fair lucky finds; or – more likely – junk I find in charity shops.

Pour yourself a drink and check this list out. Do you own any of these on vinyl? What are your favourites? What should be consigned to a fiery pit and melted down?

  1. Kim Wilde – “You Came” / “Stone”
  2. Louis Armstrong – “All the Time in the World” / “Pretty Little MIssy”
  3. The Hollies – “The Air That I Breathe” / “No More Riders”
  4. Duran Duran – “The Wild Boys” / “(I’m Looking for) Cracks in the Pavement (1984)”
  5. Bananarama – “Robert De Niro’s Waiting” / “Push!”
  6. The Beach Boys – “Good Vibrations” / “Heroes and Villains”
  7. Justin Hayward – “Forever Autumn” / “The Fighting Machine”
  8. The Buggles – “Video Killed the Radio Star” / “Kid Dynamo”
  9. ABBA – “Angeleyes” / “Voulez-Vous”
  10. The Creatures – “Miss the Girl” / “Hot Springs in the Snow”
  11. Blondie – “Rapture” / “Walk Like Me”
  12. Bobby Patrick Band – “Dallas Theme” / “The Waltons Theme”
  13. The Beatles – “The Ballad of John and Yoko” / “Old Brown Shoe”
  14. Goombay Dance Band – “Seven Tears” / “Mama Coco”
  15. Lionel Richie – “All Night Long (All Night)” / “Wandering Stranger”
  16. Donna Summer – “Dim All the Lights” / “There Will Always Be a You”
  17. Jermaine Stewart – “We Don’t Have to…” / “Brilliance”
  18. Allan Sherman – “Mexican Hat Dance” / “Won’t You Come Home Disraeli?”
  19. Earth, Wind and Fire – “Let’s Groove” / “Let’s Groove (Instrumental)”
  20. Pointer Sisters – “I’m so Excited” / “What a Surprise”

Some classics indeed. Another great night of a couple of small drinkies and spinning wax: I recommend it to anyone.