Friday, January 23, 2009

Washington, the President... Not the state...

So I apologize for my recent absence, and I regretfully inform that it's not actually over. I've been uber busy with work and will actually be on a trip all next week, but I may have a chance to get something out this weekend.

Regardless, enjoy this, because it's so full of win...

Also... We should all Surrender to Robin Zander. It's his birthday...

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Die Christmas Die!

The aftermath

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Christmas is over

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Saturday, January 17, 2009

Film Review: Die Screaming Marianne

I figured with my enjoyment of Frightmare and House of Whipcord that I must have judged Die Screaming Marriane too harshly the first time around. As a result, I headed for the trusty movie rack, determined to give it another watch. What I found leads me to issue the following apology:

Dear Pete,

In my review of Frightmare, I repeatedly questioned your film making ability based on the quality of Die Screaming Marianne. I have now descovered that I've never watched said film, and the film I was disappointed by was actually the Amicus flick The Flesh and Blood Show. As a result I owe you a huge apology. No words can express my self disappointment for making such a foolish and careless mistake. I do not expect you to forgive me, but please humbly accept this review as a means to amend the damage I may have caused to your psyche.

Now that we have that out of the way, I think we can start this one with a renewed sense of good will. I know I sure feel better unburdening myself and as a result am ready for some dyed-corn-syrup fueled good times.

Die Screaming Marriane
Director: Pete Walker
Starring: Susan George, Barry Evans

The menu music sounds like a death match between Traffic and The Ides of March. While I would pay good money to see that, I'm also cool with the shot of skimpy bathing suited Marianne frozen in a watusi of gore...

We open on top of a hill, overlooking a house. A scary house if the frenetic violin soundtrack is to be believed. To me it looks like the only thing creepy about this place would be watching it slide down the hill in a heavy downpour. Then again, looks can be deceiving, while violins typically are not...

As we make our way down the hill, we find that this is no home at all, but a dance club. A dance club featuring Marianne (The Hips) McDonald and two other performers who look vaguely like cartoonish drawings. That aught to make for one sexy show!

Just then, a jeep pulls up and it's a couple of Navy boys, there to collect their wayward comrade who apparently decided to put 'The Hips' to the test. When Marianne awakes to find her salior had shipped out, her disappointment rings out on the strings of a spanish guitar. Why must they always leave you Marianne? Was it your hips? Were they not all they were advertised to be? Alas, I'm sure there will be other sailors, or, as it turns out, balding greasy Spaniards in comically wide neck ties...

Turns out baldy and his pal Steve McSpain have something other than hips on their minds. Time will tell if they're hoods, looking to collect owed money, or the fuzz looking to collect Marianne and turn this into a women in prison film. Luckily for Marianne, she makes her escape just before baldy can nab her and finds herself on the lamb, being chased not just by Spain's latest casting of The Odd Couple, but also by a horrid Judy Collins style ballad... IMDB tells me that this horror is being inflicted by Kathe Green, who I can only assume was 'giving the hips' to dear old Pete to land herself this number...

Just as Marianne, who's theme tells us... REPEATEDLY... that 'love is not for', thinks she is free and clear of both the Spaniards of questionable integrity and the smoulderingly loungy self-ballad, she damn near gets run over by a Monkee in a hot rod.

Marianne is understandibly upset, having almost gotten smashied and all, and poor old Peter Tork is none too happy either. Here he was, driving along in his kit car, wearing a pair of silvered dinner plates over his eyes, and out of nowhere a tiny-dressed blond jumps right out in front of him? I mean what are you going to do right?

You do as Tork does, you offer her a lift...

As Marianne seems to have no problem shacking up with, and 'hipping' random military personell, she certainly has no qualms about accepting a ride from a mop headed young sports car enthusiast, so the two set about on their merry way...

We are treated to an odd driving-with-voiceover scene in which we find out Marianne and her new Monkee aquaintance are going to make their way from Spain, through France, and into England. This is where Peter is headed, obviously to spend some time with band mate Davy Jones, and Marianne is fine 'going all the way'... I'm not sure, but I think Pete is trying to tell us something...


It's time to stop what your doing and enjoy the Credits Dance!

Pete even throws in a little Bond 'grooving in negative', just so we know the film we're watching is British

Tork's sonic sportster apparently travels at the speed of credits, because by the time the dancin' is through, we find Marianne and her main squeeze, who's legitimate film name is Sebastian (though I still prefer Peter Tork), living in a British flat, and Sabes talking marriage! We'll Ms. Hips McDonald will have none of that sort of foolishness... I mean, marriage means not 'givin' the hips' to assorted strangers, or galivanting in the countryside in mini dresses accepting rides from pop-star look alikes. That's not a life for our Marianne, she's a free spirit. Besides, you don't propose marriage in a shirt like that.

Regardless, Sabastian's good friend, Eli Frome is already waiting down stairs with a car, all tricked out with 'Just Married' ribbons. He's got a ring, and can get it done today, which sounds like a good enough reason to get married, so Marianne puts aside her convictions and goes along for the ride... That is, until she hears they'll be standing before a judge!

As they make their way into the courthouse, Marianne again raises her concerns about sharing nuptuals, only this time, we know her real fear is having to stand before a judge. She's just about ready to call off this sham wedding to a man she doesn't love and only met two weeks ago based more on her fear of arrest than anything else when 'best man' Eli utters the words no bride to be can resist. "C'mon, it won't kill you."

That's enough for Marianne to risk her future happiness and possibly her freedom! They grab an old lady peddling flowers to be the second witness, and make their way inside. As the ceremony begins, we find that Marianne has faked her last name, going by Marianne Evans, rather than Marianne McDonald. She also avoided including the knickname 'hips' figuring it just wasn't appropriate for a wedding. As the judge is doing his 'marriage is sacred, yada, yada, yada' Marianne begins to connect the dots. Eli is snickering, and she recalls a hushed phone conversation Sebastian was engaged in at an earlier time. Something is rotton in Denmark, or Sussex as it where. Yet, for no apparent reason, Marianne continues with the wedding.

The ceremony is complete, but there seems to be some sort of confusion as to which of the dashing wide-tied duo the teeny-dressed Marianne actually wed. She goes over to the registrar to set him straight while the boys go to secure a table at their Local, yet, we are not privy to Marianne's answer. Could she be turning the tables on these scallywags?

Whilst drowning her true feelings at the pub, Sebastian asks to see the marriage certificate, and our suspicions are proven. Marianne has married Eli, not poor old shaggy-headed Sabes. Sebastian is again, rightfully agitated, and drags Marianne back to the courthouse to make the change.

Seems that the court will require an annulment of the first marriage and then will need to re-perform the ceremony, which will take much too much time of our Mr. Sebastian Smith. The drunken flower lady thinks the whole bloody mess is quite a laugh, and Smith's white hot anger sure isn't making Marianne want to swap hubbies. Oh what WILL they do?

It seems that Sebastian, feeling jilted, no longer loves Marianne like he did, say, THIS MORNING, yet he cannot understand why she's packing up and leaving. Could it have been when you called her a cow? Perhaps when you dragged her against her will to the courthouse in the first place. It may have even started way back before the credits when you tried to run her over. Who knows how these things happen, but what's done is done, and Marianne is ready to start her new life with a husband she met earlier in the day, Mr. Abe Froman, the Sausage King of Chicago.

Wait... wrong movie... Frome.. ELI FROME...

Marianne admits on the way out the door that she was on to Sabes and his little scheme, and she's back on her own again, chosing to ditch hubby Eli as well. Something tells me we haven't seen the last of Fromey though... Maybe it's that whole 'they never got the annulment' thing...

Still, you have to feel for our poor dejected Mr. Frome. Here he was minding his own business, when suddenly he's married to a blond looker, and is planning on 'getting some hips' on his honeymoon. Next thing you know, she skips town, leaving him to stuff his own boot... He even wore his fancy ascot...

Eli, not willing to take 'I barely know you and I think you and your friend are creepy pervs' for an answer, follows Marianne to a local coffee shop. Despite the fact that his friend tricked her into marriage apparently to steal her family's money from her, and despite the fact that she managed to get the hell out when she was sure of the plot against her, Marianne has no problem accepting Eli's offer to crash at his pad. After all, he promised he wouldn't tell Sebastain, and they ARE still married and all...

Meanwhile, our dear jilted Sabes hops aboard the the cheapest and dirtiest flight he can find and makes his way back to the Portuguese countryside where he first met his never-quite-bride.

Wandering alone on a Portugual road, the violin chorus reminds us that we're supposed to feel bad for him. Meanwhile, the heartless floozy Marianne is back in Britian, her mellons bouncing in the breeze...

Seriously... she's holding a mellon.

Marianne heads inside, mellon in tow, and we find that Eli likes to spend his time alone pretending to play the saxaphone. When Marianne comes in he stops the charade and desides to share a mellon. The two have a common tenant/landlord conversation regarding paying for rent in the form of sexiness and Marianne get's to 'showing the hips' in exchange for her board.

Now before you go thinking that Eli is some slime ball, Marianne offered... all he did was feign suprise and then get down to gettin' down. He may be a lousy saxaphone player who doesn't know how to dress himself, but our Eli is a gentleman...

So while Eli is 'cashing the rent check', we return to Sebastian and his trek across Spain, or Portugal, or some penninsular country... He comes to a home occupied by Senior Baldy Wide-Tie and tells him he has news of Marianne. Know we're on to Sabe's little game. Marianne wouldn't take him as her husband, so now he's going to bring her world crashing down... My Sabes, you're quite the little douche bag aren't you?

We find that Sebastian's new friends are Marianne's family, her half-sister Hildegarde and daddy, The Judge. As Sabes shares a dinner with his never-quite-in-laws, Marianne uses the 'hips for rent' exchange as an opportunity to share her life story with Eli. He tells her in so many words to shut the hell up, and I'm not sure if this is supposed to be a romantic 'your past doesn't matter' gesture or an 'I'm tired and want to take a nap' gesture. Either way, Marianne's secret goes untold... For now...

I feel it's important to make a plea here as a concerned human being looking out for his fellow people. Hildegard, you have a problem. Get some help. I'm not sure what drugs you are on, but if I had to guess, I'd say all of them.

After dinner, a very creepy father-daughter-hair-brushing-and-neck-massage scene tells us the true intentions of the clan McDonald as to the fate of dear Marianne. In two weeks she will turn twenty one, at which time she will come into a great deal of money left to her by her passed mother. Hildegard and The Judge were using Sebastian to try and get Marianne to marry, and give them access to the funds. Now that the plan has gone astray, Hildegard thinks the best option is to give Marianne a proper killin', while the judge feels that something more boring and painstakingly long winded should be the next course of action. I kind of zoned out at this point and started to check my e-mail, and see what was going on in the news. I'm sure when I get back nothing will have happened, because what I'm learning about Die Screaming Marianne so far is that nothing ever really happens...

Oh Pete, just when I give up hope that you're going to give us anything at all interesting, you have coked out Hildegard tell HER FATHER that she's often considered taking him to bed... I think I may have put my finger on why Marianne got away from these fruitloops... Cooler heads prevail as The Judge reminds dear Hildy that incest is a crime. He also urges her to 'use our young friend' if you 'cannot control your baser instincts.' What a loving and supporting father...

So the night goes by with Hildy getting a little Sabes action and Marianne taking another turn on the Fromeinator whilst poor daddy is forced to sit alone in bed with a book and a cigar. Despite all the freaky bedding down going on, nothing more than a wimper and a mewl is ever seen on camera. C'mon Pete, if you're not going to give us any gore, at least give us some lovin'... Otherwise this is turing into a Lifetime Original awfully quick...

Eli finishes another round of 'hip examination' by falling asleep while Marianne tries to bare her soul, and the next thing we know it's morning. Sabes and Hildy are enjoying breakfast by the pool. During a friendly lovers chat about murder and profit sharing, Sabes lets slip that Marianne has hitched her wagon to a shining Eli. Hildy doesn't miss the slip of the tounge and asks Baldy El Combover to soften him up for her next question. Apparently that involves a little bit of fully clothed pooltime grabass.

Sebastian spills the beans, Hildy telss The Judge, and the three all inexplicably go out for a horse ride across the Spanish countryside. I could be way off base here, but I think old Pete is getting as bored with this flick as I am. While on their ride, The Judge offers Sabes three thousand pounds to bring Marianne back to him. He is aware about her newly weddedness, so he requests that Mr. Smith returns with Eli in tow. Sabes seems pleased with the offer and sets out on his quest.

Meanwhile, the police make contact with Eli back in Britian. It seems that his bride and...ehem... 'renter' may be in some trouble with the authorities. This interrigation brought to you by Milmar Tailors

We've reached the forty minute point and it damn well feels like we are into the sixth hour. I wouldn't blame you if you stopped reading. At this point I'm considering switching over to CSPAN just to witness a little more fast paced action. The next few minutes are dedicated entirely to Eli sitting on the couch while one of our suppsoed police inspectors wanders the shanty apartment they are using for the 'interregation' looking for impliments in which to quietly and cleanly murder Eli. Our man Frome has a pretty good idea what is going on, so he does what anybody fearing for their life would do. He slowly rises and takes a look out the window.

Eli, now thouroughly convinced that rug is going to be used to wrap up his body once he's been offed, makes his grand move to escape! Oh, no he doesn't. He slowly walks back over to the couch and sits down. OK, I guess thats another way of handling the situation...

Ok, he just wanted to finish his smoke. Eli snuffs his butt, slams the door on the wandering assassin who is waiting in the kitchen, and dashes out the front door. The rug weilding baddie is on his way up the stairs, so Eli's 'fight or flight' instincts kick in, and he retreaves the 3/4 inch pocket knife from his jeans. The professional killer and the moron with a pocket knife stare each other down, in a moment that could not be filled with any less tension. Eli makes his move to bolt past Rugman, but Ruggy has other plans and puts Eli in a headlock. If professional wrestling has taught us anything it's that no one gets out of a sleeper old. Then again, professional wrestlers aren't usually carrying tiny pocket knives.

Marianne comes home to find the bloody Eli brooding in the dark and presses him for details. Eli tries to hide the fact that them men were after Marianne, but The Hips knows the score. All of a sudden Eli is interested in nothing more than to hear ALL about Marianne's past. Funny, you had every opportunity to hear the story LAST NIGHT pal, but you decided to go to sleep instead... Sheesh.. MEN...

Marianne give him the rundown she already tried to last night, and Eli tries to play the nice guy and tell her to take her time.


Marianne leaves in the middle of the night as Eli somehow manages to sleep through the caterwalling of Ms. Green and I wish the sweet release of sleep would wash over me, but alas, I'm wide awake...

Sabes has returned to London and brought a sinister horn section with him. Marianne hitches a ride, and Sabes heads to Eli's flat. Sebastian's knocking wakes Eli, who is not yet aware that Marianne has left. Marianne hitches to a random field where she decides to take a nap and have a smoke. Yeah, I don't know either. Eli and Sabes have a heart to heart and Sabes convinces Eli he has no feeling any longer for the woman who jilted him and they head off to find the young Ms. McDonald.

Eli tells Sebastian about the murder plot and Sabes tells Eli he's been in Portugal, or Spain, or mayby Italy, all he knows is there's water on both sides, with The Judge. Eli, despite the fact that he thinks The Judge is trying to kill him, is cool with this fact and they take off in search of the runaway bride.

Marianne looks for work, but now that she's found the love of her Eli, she can't go back to a life of floozy dancing, 'giving the hips' to any strange sailor she meets, so she leaves after being offered a spot at a local gentlemen's establishment. The hopeful violins tell us she's back on her way to Eli's to reunite with her love. Awww... Isn't that sweet. Good lord I couldn't care less about ANY of these people...

Marianne brushes her teeth, removes her pants, and heads for bed, where she finds Eli sleeping with the newspaper over his head. She begins to profess her undying love for him when he reveals he's not Eli at all, but Sebastian! The two exchange insults, and Eli returns home. He asks Marianne to put on the kettle for tea, Marianne gets pissed, and then she's taking a bath while Eli looks on. Seriously, it happened just like that. Pete obviously thinks we've all tuned out and are just looking for a little more naked Marianne, which is pretty much correct. Unfortunately, this is as close as we get.

OK. I'm just going to give the last forty minutes of this a quick watch, and I'll catch you up after. I get the feeling you're not going to miss anything.

Marianne and Eli go to see The Judge.

Marianne wears a rediculous white pants suit.

The Judge distracts Eli with his HUGE polka dotted ascot.

Hildy matches Marianne's all white ensemble with an all black one of her own.

Marianne tells Eli she knows the number of a Swiss bank account with a half million pounds in it.

Marianne frolicks in her bikini

Hildy tries to kill Marianne in the sauna

The Judge Dies.

Marianne escapes the sauna through a roof hatch.

Only thirteen more minutes until I get my life back

Sabes falls out a window, breaks leg.

Marianne finds out Eli is dead too

Hildy goes nuts, Rodriguez kills her. Oh, Baldo De Hairless is actually named Rodriguez...

The Awful ballad comes back... AGAIN...

The End


Earlier I issued an apology for dismissing the merits of your film unjustly. Now I come to find that it was actually worse than I could have possibly imagined. I'm not sure what you were going for here, but I am positive you failed. The only bright spot about the film is the fact that it ended. May God have mercy on your soul.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Montana: Land of Guns and Moose... But not Moose with Guns...


You're a good sized state with sprawling vistas, mountains, lakes, and rivers. The elite like to build vacation homes within your borders and pretend they're old west cowboys. You've given us hours of entertainment through jokes relating to your cities Helena and Butte, but you're a vast wasteland of uselessness when it comes to modern music.

What I'm saying is, it's not me Montana, it's you.

If only Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine, or Willie Nelson, or Vanilla Fudge were from Montana, but no. Not a Leæther Strip, Perry Como, or Mannheim Steamroller to be found. No Doris Day, no Tool, no Yanni... To my knowledge, not a SINGLE Montanan has ever played Live at the Acropolis, performed in a video containing puppets watching pipes full of meat, or had a Dutch band sing a song about them.

Don't believe me? Here's the list of famous Montanans from

Dorothy Baker author, Missoula
Dirk Benedict actor, Helena
W. A. Tony Boyle labor union official, Bald Butte
Dana Carvey comedian, Missoula
Gary Cooper actor, Helena
Chet Huntley journalist, TV newscaster, Cardwell
Will James writer, artist, Great Falls
Evel Knievel daredevil motorcyclist, Butte
Jerry Kramer football player, author, Jordan
Myrna Loy actress, Helena
David Lynch filmmaker, Missoula
George Montgomery actor, Brady
Jeannette Rankin first woman elected to Congress, Missoula
Martha Raye actress, Butte
Michael Smuin choreographer
Lester C. Thurow economist, educator, Livingston

There's really nothing to work with here. Nothing at all. I guess I can worry about that later though. For now, there's Wikithings to fill space with:

- I know what you're thinking. No, Dirk Benedict never recorded a Starbuck Sings the Blues album, he also didn't drop a guest vocal as Face on Mr. T's Commandments. It's obvious to me that Dirk Benedict does not have my blog's best interests at heart.

- Montana (The Band) like Mississippi (The Band) is from Australia. I'm not sure why Aussies are so fascinated by naming bands after US states, but admittedly, I would have been surprised if Montana (The Band) actually WAS from Montana (The State).

- I found a singer from Montana! Pop star Neli Rangelova is from Montana... Bulgaria...

- Montana (The State, not The Band or The Bulgarian City) has the distinction of being the state bordering the most Canadian provinces. (British Columbia, Alberta, and Saskatchewan). It also borders 4 states (Idaho, Wyoming, North Dakota, and South Dakota). You'd think with all those neighbors SOMEBODY could have loaned them a rock band...

- Montana nicknames include Treasure State, Big Sky Country, and The Last Best Place. Montana nicknames do NOT include We Make Music, Form a Band Here, or We Like To Support Bloggers Who Make Lists About States' Musical Talents.

- Montana is ranked 44th in the nation in terms of population, yet 4th in the nation in terms of size (Only Alaska, Texas, and California are larger). As a result, the state ranks 48th out of 50 in terms of population density (Only Alaskans and Wyomingites have more room to spread out).

- Hannah Montana is the fictional alter ego of Tennessee's Miley Cyrus. That may be good enough to make the list...

- The Helena Handbaskets often battle the Butte Pirates for the battle of made up Montana sports teams. However, this year's championship went to the Helena Shripboats who defeated the Butte Kickers in an event that apparently did not require kicking buttes...

- For some reason, Butte always ends up bringing up the rear in these contests...

- Less than 1% of to Montana population identify themselves as African-American. We *may* have just pinpointed the reason for the lack of musical talent...

- Montana is a relative hub of beer microbrewing, ranking third in the nation in number of craft breweries per capita. How are they ranked 44th in population?

- Montana has no sales tax. Seriously... I want to live here.

- Per capita personal income in 2003 was $25,406, 47th in the nation. I LOVE California...

- The largest city on Montana is Billings. Know who is from Billings? Nobody.

- Petroleum County, Montana has a population of four hundred and seventy people. This means the aforementioned Miley Cyrus could give each resident of the county $10,638.30 and still have over $20 million dollars remaining from her purported 2008 earnings. I bet for that cash she could have Petroleum renamed...

- That's right, for just 1/5th of her 2008 earnings, Miley Cyrus could likely have the county of Petroleum change it's name to the county of Hannah, Montana...

Alright, I think I've cobbled together some choices, though they're shaky at best...

The selections:

Solo Artist: Colin Meloy

Meloy has released four solo EP's full of covers ranging from Morrissey, to Shirley Collins, to Sam Cooke. He was also the lead singer for indie Montana bands Happy Cactus and Tarkio, but he is best known as the lead singer for Oregon indie folk-rockers, The Decemberists.

This is really more of a 'pick to click' rather than a 'look at what this guy has done' selection. There's some good tunes amongst the first four Decemberist releases. Enough good that venerable Seattle based indie label Kill Rock Stars lost them to Capitol prior to the release of their fourth long play The Crane Wife. Still, in any other state they likely wouldn't get a sniff, or would at best get a side mention as another band from the state. Here in Montana though, we'll take what we can get, so the lead singer of a little known Oregon act it is.

Here is a Decemberists cut from the above mentioned album. The track is called O Valencia

Band: Through the birth of founding member and bass player Jeff Ament, Pearl Jam.

This is a total cop out, but Montana needs some help, and Washington has musicians to spare, so just for now Stone Gossard, Mike McCready, Eddie Vedder, and Matt Cameron will join Ament as honorary Montanans.

Ament and Gossard were original members of underground grunge pioneer band Mother Love Bone who broke up following to heroin overdose and subsequent death of lead singer Andrew Wood. MLB's debut album, Apple, was released within days of Wood's passing.

All was not lost however. The experience Ament and Gossard had gained from Mother Love Bone, and their prior work in underground Seattle rock band Green River allowed their new group, Pearl Jam, hit the ground running, releasing one of the most influential debuts of the grunge movement, 1991's Ten. Together with other Seattle based bands Nirvana, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Mudhoney, Screaming Trees, and side projects made up of assorted members of though groups like Mad Season, and Temple of the Dog, Pearl Jam built a new kind of music based more on the artists and their instruments rather than the corporate machines, and in studio finishes of much of the other popular music of their generation. Grunge rock, like the flannel and unwashed fashion it inspired, had gone the way of the dodo by the turn of the millennium, but the DIY revolution it inspired lives today in the form of every unsigned band selling tracks on iTunes and getting their name out there with MySpace. Grunge, and the Internet have shaped the music industry of today, and after Kurt Cobain's suicide, Pearl Jam became the most recognizable, influential, and successful face of grunge.

Here are MONTANA'S favorite Seattle band singing a song whilst kids throw mud...

Honorable Mention: Steve Albini

You may not know Steve Albini by name, you may not have heard of of his bands Big Black, Rapeman, Flour, or Shellac, but you're probably still familiar with his work. As the founder, owner and operator of Electrical Audio in Chicago, Albini, who's family settled in Missoula, Montana when Steve was 12, has engineered and recorded albums by Pixies, Nirvana, PJ Harvey, Bush, Page and Plant, The Stooges, Urge Overkill, Breeders, The Jesus Lizard, Fugazi, Fred Schneider, Veruca Salt, Gogol Bordello, Scott Weiland, and Manic Street Preachers. Since opening shop in 1985, Albini has engineered in whole or part, over four hundred albums, mostly for indie outfits looking to get a start. Not just a sound engineering genius, but a purveyor of what's now and real in rock music...

If you're thinking 'What's so special about taping someone else playing music?' You are missing the difference between a Steve Albini recording and a random-studio-multi-track-nameless-machine recording. One of the staples of Albini's recording style is using strategically placed microphones in a 'live in studio' setting to capture the breadth of a song as the band plays together, rather than overlaying multiple tracks on top of one another. While multi-track recording has it's place, for example, it allowed The Beatles to record all thirteen instruments played on The Ballad of John and Yoko despite the fact that John and Paul were the only two band members playing on the recording, it also eliminates the raw power and collaboration of listening to musicians play off of one another. Albini's ability to pull the perfect recording out of the chaos of a live in studio performance is worth of recognition, even if he wasn't from Montana.
Take for example this gem, for the classic Pixies album and Steve Albini project, Surfer Rosa. This is Where Is My Mind?

It took some creative selecting, but Montana is complete, and with it, so are the 'M' states... Man, I'm glad those are done since there's like EIGHT of them... Glad thing we're moving on the the 'N's... Since there's only... eight... of them... Anyhoo, next time I do a state, It'll be the state of Nebraska.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Happy Birthday to You... Happy Birthday to You

Happy Birthday dear Captain Beefheart, Happy Birthday to You...

In honor of the sixty eighth anniversary of your birth, I have purchased you a replica trout mask... What's this? You already have one?

Oh well, happy birthday anyhow...

Posthumous birthday wishes also go out into the ether for Ronnie Van Zant. My dislike for Lynyrd Skynyrd not withstanding, without Ronnie, no one would ever have the opportunity to yell 'FREEBIRD!!!!' at a rock concert. Oh to have such a legacy...

Ronnie's bro Donnie also scored a hit with his band .38 Special (Not to be confused with Ronnie's bro Johnny who took over the vocals for Skynyrd's 2nd incarnation running from 1987 to the present day.)

Here's the original singin' Zan Vant, who would have turned sixty one today, performing a song that everyone on the planet other than me thinks is a Rock & Roll classic...

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Missouri loves company

Nestled just a click east of the dead center of our nation, Missouri fulfills it's role as a microcosm of the greatness of America. It shares the Midwestern sensibilities of neighbors like Kansas, Nebraska and Iowa, has the bustling metropolis feel in Kansas City and St. Louis reminiscent of neighboring Illinois' Chicago, yet still has roots firmly planted in the southern soil like neighboring Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, and Oklahoma. Seeing the amount of neighborly influence on the culture of Missouri, no wonder it's home to such a diverse and talented music community.

As is customary here in Dancylvania however, we will delay our musical aspirations in favor of more informative pursuits. By informative, I really mean useless and mostly false tales concocted from the modicum of truth found on the pages of Wikipedia.

- Missouri and it's neighbor Tennessee both share borders with eight other states. No state in the union lies adjacent to more. The two are known to get together and mock Kentucky for it's measly SEVEN neighboring states.

- The origin of the name Missouri is mildly complex, and entirely WTF?ly... The state is named for the Missouri river. The river is named for the Siouan tribe of native Americans who's name in the Illinois language of the native Illinois Confederacy was ouemessourita meaning 'those who have dugout canoes'. Correct. The state of Missouri basically means 'those who have dugout canoes'. Word to the wise, Missouri, just tell people your state name has no meaning like Hawai'i does.

- The 'correct' pronunciation of Missouri is somewhat debatable, with some people pronouncing it Mizz-oo-ree, while others pronounce it Mizz-oo-ruh. A thorough study was conducted by dialectologist Donald Max Lance in which he determined that there is no correct way to pronounce Missouri. As a result, from now on Missouri will be pronounced the same way the unpronounceable symbol Prince changed his name to in the 90's was... That is to say, not at all. If you need to make reference to the state, it will now be The State Formerly Known As Missouri. Feel free to pronounce with either the 'ee' ending or the 'uh' ending. I don't care.

- The topography of TSFKA Missouri is as diverse as it's culture, or pronunciation. From plains in the north and west to rolling hills in the middle, all the way to Ozark mountain foothills in the state's southeastern quarter. The southeastern bootheel just to the north of Arkansas is part of the Mississippi embayment, and the lowest, flattest, and wettest part of the state. You cannot define Missouri in simple terms. It is like the wind, and yet, does not blow. Missouri will be putting out it's own perfume in the fall.

- Missouri generally has a humid continental climate (Koppen climate classification Dfa). In other words, it's hot in the summer, and cold in the winter. (OCKerouac climate classification Sameaseverywhereelse)

- Missouri is known as the Show Me State, which just sounds rude. What exactly is it I'm supposed to show you? If I simply TELL you about something is that not good enough? Are you calling me a liar Missouri? I've done nothing but stand up for you all post and now you pull this 'show me' crap? How's about I show you my foot straight up your Cassville?

- Hundreds upon hundreds of famous people were either born in, or once lived in the state of Missouri. Let's just say everyone you have ever heard of at one point or another was a Missourian.

- Marlin Perkins was born in Missouri, and died there too. In between he spent a lot of time at the zoo.

- Long time voice of the Cubs, Harry Caray was born in Cardinal country, St. Louis. I assume this wasn't common knowledge amongst the bleacher bums at Wrigley Field, lest they toss opposing HR balls into the booth rather than back on the field...

- Businessman J. C. Penney was born in Missouri, and has forged a legacy of well priced pants that lasts to this very day.

- Adolphus Busch, known for his beer, was born in Germany but picked Missouri as the home for his brewery. Today Anheuser-Busch is still headquartered in St. Louis, and gets people drunk all over the globe.

- There's more, plenty of them. Like I said, everybody was born, has lived, or will live in Missouri at some point in their lifetime. I have not, but I'm sure my time will come.

- The largest single city in Missouri is Kansas City, located at the western edge of the state, on the Kansas border. The largest metropolitan area in Missouri is the greater St. Louis area located on the state's eastern border. If everyone in Kansas City immediately hopped in their cars and took I70 to St. Louis, the state of Missouri would flip over and crush Illinois. This might sound like a fun practical joke, but once you've flipped over a whole state how do you plan to flip it BACK over so people can get on with their lives? You didn't think that part through did you? Maybe you should remember that your ACTIONS have CONSEQUENCES.

- I'm ashamed of you. Now go to your room.

- The U.S. Census of 2000 found that the population center of the United States is in Phelps County, Missouri. If you just clicked to read the US Census definition of population center, then you're probably thinking about flipping over the whole country. I urge you to remember our talk. You may think it's funny, until you're face down in the Atlantic Ocean...

Enough of this foolishness! I've got things to do and musicians to pick! I don't have time to monkey around with this cockamamie bull-puckey any longer!

The Selections:

Solo Artist- Chuck Berry

Charles Edward Anderson Berry came into this world in 1926 in St. Louis, Missouri. He spent the first twenty nine years of his life trying to hold down odd jobs while staying out of trouble with the law. He began dabbling in the guitar as a teen, but needed to make a living, and blues guitarists weren't exactly swimming in riches in the 1940's and early 50's. In 1955 Berry was urged by Muddy Waters to contact Leonard Chess of Chess Records. Chess tapped Berry to be the face of the new movement away from rhythm & blues and toward rock & roll. In may of 1955 Berry recorded Maybellene, a cover of an old country and western recording by Bob Wills, entitled Ida Red. Chess' impression of Berry's cross over success was spot on. Maybellene sold over a million copies and rocketed Berry onto a career path that continues to this day.

Chuck's stardom didn't help keep him out of trouble. By the end of the 50's Berry had established a string of hits including School Days, Rock and Roll Music, Sweet Little Sixteen, and Johnny B. Goode that made him a bonafide superstar. He had also established his own St. Louis-based nightclub, called Berry's Club Bandstand. In December 1959, Berry invited a 14-year-old Apache waitress whom he met in Mexico to work as a hat check girl at his club. After being fired from the club, the girl was arrested on a prostitution charge and Berry was arrested under the Mann Act. Berry spent five years in prison convicted more because of the color of his skin than for any actual wrong doing. The Mann act was used to prosecute a number of celebrities, including Charlie Chaplin, Frank Lloyd Wright, sociologist William I. Thomas mostly for inappropriate sexual contact with under aged girls (Though Wright's was for transporting his then wife's daughter across state lines without the knowledge of the girl's father). However; of all the famous faces facing Mann Act charges in the early days of the law, only Rex Ingram , Jack Johnson and Chuck Berry's convictions led to jail time. It was no coincidence that all three were African American.

Despite this racial injustice, Berry returned to recording after his release from prison, and within two years had six more hits on the Billboard top 100 chart including No Particular Place To Go (#10), You Never Can Tell (#14), and Nadine (#23). In the late 60's Berry's selling power diminished, and he became a touring act more than a hit maker. However, a 1972 live issue of Berry's novelty track My Ding-a-Ling became his one and only #1 hit.

In 1979, Chuck found himself in trouble again. This time he plead guilty to tax evasion and spent 4 months in jail. He was later invited the same year to play at the White House at the request of President Jimmy Carter. 1979 also marked the release of Berry's last studio album to date. He continued to tour though, and to this day still played monthly at Blueberry Hill in St. Louis.

Here he is, performing a track that in turn will save Marty McFly's life...

Band- Uncle Tupelo/Wilco

There is a relatively under appreciated sub-genre of alternative rock music who's roots are firmly planted in the St. Louis soil. Beginning in the early part of the 1980's a garage band named The Primitives were trying to make a name for themselves on the St. Louis club circuit. Originally a punk rock outfit, the club goers in early 80's St. Louis didn't want to hear punk acts, so to get gigs they combined their punk rock pacing with a more traditional blues chord progression. Lo and behold, The Primitives, who later changed their name to Uncle Tupelo due to a British band of the same name, along with the discerning audiences in the St. Louis club scene, created Alternative country. Uncle Tupelo's 1990 album No Depression is considered the penultimate example and opening salvo of the alt-country revolution.

Unfortunately, like many pioneering artists, Uncle Tupelo never developed much more than a cult following, and eventually split up after just 4 years of major label activity. Our story does not end here however. UT was a dual-lead group made up of vocals from both Jay Farrar and Jeff Tweedy. Farrar went on to form Son Volt, a band most closely resembling the alt-country legacy of the original Tupelo. Tweedy, in a move much more fitting with the alt-genre nature of UT formed Wilco, a band that has changed styles as often as it has members.

Wilco's first post-UT release A.M., remained true to the country rock roots of Tupelo, but from there, Jeff Tweedy, John Stirratt, and their revolving cohorts have branched out to alt-rock, folk-rock, and experimental music. Part REM, part Sonic Youth and all college-radio Gods, Wilco has cut a swatch across the alternative music landscape with seven albums of this-is-what-you-should-be-listening-to tracks that make the listener feel like part of a movement rather than a passive observer. Upon first hearing their double album Being There I admit I was not a fan. It wasn't until I started getting tired of pretty much everything else coming off of pop-alt radio that I went back and full appreciated what these guys were doing. Wilco is not for the casual listener, it's for the listener who has already heard everything that there is to hear and still wants something more. In that way, Wilco makes you appreciate all other music more, because it's the palate cleanser between a steady diet of similarity.

Here's a track from their 2002 Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, an album rejected by Wilco's first label Reprise and later picked up by Nonesuch Records. YHF has become Wilco's best selling album to date. The even more ironic twist? Reprise and Nonesuch are both subsidiaries of Warner Brothers, who ultimately paid to produce the album under one label, and then paid to purchase it under another. This track is called Heavy Metal Drummer.

Honorable Mention- Burt Bacharach

Have you ever found yourself tapping your toes to a familiar tune you just couldn't place? Drifting away on a smooth melody who's name escaped you? Identifying with an expertly crafted rhyme scheme lyric that makes your heart swoon and ache with the same longing as the singer, even though you're not sure the name of the track? Have you ever found yourself wondering who wrote this exquisite and elusive contemporary classic? It was Burt Bacharach.

Between his early days as a pianist, arranger and bandleader for Marlene Dietrich and his more recent work as a guest vocal coach on the bane of my existence, American Idol, Bacharach crafted seventy top 40 hits in the US, and fifty two in the UK.

Consider for a moment the meaning of those numbers.

One of the most influential recording groups in history, The Velvet Underground, released a total of five studio albums containing forty eight individual songs. Bacharach was responsible for twenty two MORE TOP 40 HITS than The Velvet Underground had SONGS.

At an average of three minutes per song, it would take three and a half HOURS of listening to ingest all of Bacharach's charting singles.

I would post the full list here, but it will make for an awfully long post. You can view all of the tracks on the Wikipedia link, but some of my personal favorites include: Baby It's You, Any Day Now, Wishin' and Hopin', Walk on By, I Just Don't Know What to Do with Myself, "(There's) Always Something There to Remind Me, What's New Pussycat?, I'll Never Fall in Love Again, and Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head

Thirty years passed between Bacharach and lyracist Hal David's first US hit The Story of My Life recorded by Marty Robbins in 1957 and his most recent chart topper 1987's Love Power by Dionne Warwick and Jeffrey Osborne. That doesn't mean Bacharach has stopped by any stretch of the imagination. His most recent work includes collaberations with Ronald Isley, Rufus Wainwright, Dr. Dre, and my personal favorite Elvis Costello releasing the 1998 Painted From Memory album.

Bacharach's life has not been without pain. His daughter Nikki, born to Bacharach's second wife Angie Dickinson and the inspiration for one of Bacharach's more notable instrumental peices, Nikki, was diagnosed with severe Asperger Syndrome, and spend nine years of her young life in a medical treatment center. In January of 2007, Nikki Bacharach could no longer take the fear and confusion brought on by the brain disease and committed suicide to end her suffering. Bacharach has three other children including an adopted son Christopher, from his marriage with Carole Bayer Sager and a son and daughter Oliver and Raleigh from his current marriage to Jane Strauss Hanson.

Here's Burt and Elvis, with This House is Empty Now

Alphabetically, Missouri is the 25th state, and by adding in Washington DC (Under District of Columbia) I am now officially over halfway done with the 50 state strategy. The good news is I didn't think I'd ever actually make it this far. The bad news is now I have to figure out who the hell came from Montana...

Monday, January 12, 2009

New Music News and Notes

Trying to make the most of my flying-solo weekend, I spent Saturday night cruising around the county, listening to XMU on my satellite radio, and I stopped for an hour at the Coffee Bean on Harbor & 19th to sit outside, enjoy a cup of coffee, and ingest the first KEXP podcast for 2009. The sheer joy and twinge of guilt at sitting outside without so much as a jacket at 8:00 on a January night while poor CSD Julie was freezing her tail off in Detroit was not lost on me, which is why I made the commitment to spend the full hour of the podcast soaking up the above-averageness of the weather, and to take notes on the selections from this best of the best for 2008 podcast.

Below are some of those notes and links to support these new artists.

Bon Iver- Skinny Love: Every indie outlet across the nation played the hell out of Bon Iver through 2008. I first heard this track on a much earlier KEXP podcast, and then heard it a few times on satellite. Every time I hear this, or any other Iver track, I like it more than I did the last time. For the fullest enjoyment, give it a listen through a pair of headphones. If you still don't like it, listen to it two or three more times and you'll be surprised...

The Dears- Disclaimer: With an opening riff reminiscent of U2's All You Can't Leave Behind album and a sax background that would make Morphine proud, this Montreal band is another solid reminder that Canada is where it's at for new music. Listen for the tambourine just before the vocals start at about 2 minutes in. It adds a Velvet Underground feel to the track that's more flattering than mocking. Very good stuff.

Cloud Cult- The Ghost Inside Our House: The acoustic guitar intro has that folk-ballad 'squeak' that comes from chord transitioning but adds a realistic home-studio quality to the sound. I'm not sure what I dig so much about that little unintentional sound, but it's almost like a hidden 'behind the scenes' peek at the song. This one is more about the lyrics than the tune though with Beat allusions, (see lyric: 'packed up my clothes in a grocery bag') and a decidedly Simon & Garfunkel feel, ('watched you sleep until 5am') culminating with a less-than-standard bridge provided by violin and this Minnesota seven-piece is aiming for a long run on the college and folk radio circuit.

Elliot Brood- Write it all Down for You: What's this? Another Canadian? This gravel-grunge voiced 'Folk/Acoustic/Soul' trio combines the elements of modern folk seen in a majority of present-day college radio tracks mixed with a 90's grunge flair that allows them to stand out from their countless and nameless contemporaries. At 2:48 listen for a little 'found percussion' breakdown reminiscent of a third generation of indie rock, the new wave sound of early Adam & The Ants. Score another one for the Great White North.

Mochipet- Sharp Drest: This Cali tongue-in-cheek hip-hop act is effing awesome. Like Humpty Hump teamed up with the Bloodhound Gang and brought Salt-n-Pepa along for the ride. Between dropping love for the Rat Pack and quoting ZZ Top they're 'chillin on the beach like they was San Diagans.' Once in a while you've had enough breaking-point idiosyncratic emotional drama songs and just want a little fun. Insert Mochipet here...

The Acorn- Flood part I: It's a little scary how in-tune CSD Julie and I are. I gave this track a listen on Saturday night, and highlighted it to blog about as I'm doing now. The following afternoon (Sunday) I receive the following message on Facebook from my dear wife as she's working on the other side of the country. "Music that Matters is playing the band The Acorn, song: The Flood. Very cool and a little Vampire Weekend sounding..." I didn't hear much VW in it, although they both incorporate a world beat sound. What I was impressed by is the 'polished' nature of the sound. As a matter of fact, before the DJ mentioned the artist I was convinced it was a track from the new David Byrne / Brian Eno album Everything That Happens Will Happen Today. Instead it's from a sophomore full length out of guess where? Canada!

Frightened Rabbit- I Feel Better: This four piece's Myspace page proclaims- 'You are currently reading about Frightened Rabbit. They are a band who live in Glasgow and have done for some time. They record in bedrooms, cupboards and kitchens. Anyone can be in Frightened Rabbit. They have played some live shows in this city, but want to meet people from other cities, in order that they can come and blow into tubes when they play live. Lets keep pop music alive by getting it out of that dress and into a sweater.' My impression is they sound like Glasvegas mixed with... Well, they sound a lot like Glasvegas, and there's nothing wrong with that. Strap on a sweater and give them a listen!

Bang Bang Eche- 4 to the Floor: We finish our world tour of indie newness with a quintet of young Kiwi's. New Zealand's Bang Bang Eche combines dance, indie, rock, new wave, and pop with a vocal delivery oddly similar to The Stranglers. Think the spoken-word style bravado of Peaches more than the pop assimilation of Always the Sun. Is this the new sound of revolutionary garage rock? It's quick, it's dirty, and it's as DIY as it gets. From their Myspace: 'Unsigned but you better believe we're Major.' I'm willing to wager from the exposure that the 'unsigned' part won't be true much longer...

Hope you enjoyed the year's first new music rundown. As part of my 2009 goal to pay closer attention to the newest of the new I'm going to try and make this a recurring feature. Feel free to drop a line in the comments if there's something 'hot off the presses' I should check out. I bend to the whims of others with great ease...


If you've ever found yourself wondering if perhaps our technology has come a little TOO far, thinking that the Internet is a tool that has allowed human beings to become more lazy, rather than more interconnected and productive. If you're convinced that all would be better if we went back to the days of 8 track players, broadcast television, reel to reel projectors, rotary phones, and automobiles burning leaded gas at six MPG I have found the ultimate proof of why technology is so important, so vital, and makes the current day and age the absolute BEST time in the history of our planet in which to be alive.

From the VSL again, may I present the David Lee Roth Soundboard...

Thank you Al Gore...

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Movie Review: The Beast Must Die

After my thoroughly enjoyable Frightmare experience, I figured I'd give the Amicus classic, The Beast Must Die a similar treatment. Again, going into the film my expectations are mixed, having enjoyed Asylum , but having been disappointed by the pacing of And Now the Screaming Starts!, though I do quite enjoy the blog of the same name... I guess the only thing to do is dig in, and hope The Beast Must Die has all the rolling severed head and miniature robot killer goodness of Asylum with none of the I'm sure SOMETHING is going to happen any minute now... timing of And Now The Screaming Starts.

The Beast Must Die
Director: Paul Annett
Starring: Calvin Lockhart, Peter Cushing, Marlene Clark, and featuring one of James Bond's many Blofelds, one year before his cult classic turn in Rocky Horror, Mr. Charles Gray.

Right from the opening menu, TBMD tells me we're going to let the funk flow from every single pore of our bodies. There's enough waka-chacka in the menu selection music to make Parliament sit up and take notice. I better watch the trailer and make sure they didn't accidentally drop Blacula on this disc by mistake...

The trailer has confirmed that the funk in question is in fact a product of TBMD. The trailer has also informed me that this presentation included a special added bonus missing from most feature length films today, a 'Werewolf Break' in which we get to chose who the werewolf is. I think such an intermission would have drastically improved The English Patient.

We open with a flyover of a hilly, tree lined coast, likely representing a savage island. We have been informed from the get go that we are to pay close attention so we can pinpoint the lycanthrope at the film's upcoming werewolf break. I already have my suspicions from watching the trailer. I'm going with the tried and true werewolf picking standby. When in doubt, pick the one who looks the Naschyist...

Once we have run through the credits, we zoom in on a helicopter view of our protagonist, Calvin Lockhart, running through the forest. We are not sure what exactly he's running from, or toward, but judging from his pace, and routine gaze shifting, it seems as though he's looking for a suitable tree on which to relieve himself.

We soon discover that Calvin is running from a group of high tech Euros, who are using a chopper straight out of M*A*S*H to track his whereabouts. Our man Calvin is smarter than a whirly-bird full of accents though and uses the trees for cover. Unfortunately for him, these foreigners of unidentifiable origin are also using tree mounted surveillance cameras to beam Calvin's every move back to their forest hideout. Judging from his difficulty, these baddies have even programmed the trees themselves to hinder Cal in his planned escape. Our hero just can not catch a break.

The Unknown Ground Agents of European Origin manage to use their high techedness to track Cal and corner him, but what's this? They're letting him go! After more fake-catch and inexplicable release action, Cal wanders onto the grounds of a fancy garden party where the UGAoEO gather behind him execution style and gun him down.

Hope you enjoyed our film! Now back to your regularly scheduled lives.... No, Wait! This was all a sham! A rouse! A paltry party game concocted by our gregarious host and lead man! Cal was in on the chase the whole time and the bullets fired at him were simply blanks. The next scene tells the story. Cal is a man of great danger and adventure, and was using this training run as opportunity to spot weaknesses in his team's security system. Cal noted the cameras, and ground microphones as he was tip-toeing through the redwoods, but what he did not know is that additional underground mics were tracking his every step within a one mile range of their location. What a convenient bit or foreshadowing this opening scene has provided for the chase that is inevitably to come.

Cal, heretofore known by his nombe de film, Tom Newcliffe, reveals after much goading, the true intention of this elaborate security apparatus. His ultimate desire as a great and skilled hunter to go after the most cunning and dangerous of all game, the prairie dog... ERRRR... Man. He wants to hunt a human being. There is no indication of whether his intention is for meat, or decoration, but we have been told that this is why he has assembled the assorted cast of characters who will flesh out our film's remaining roles.

Tom briefly introduces us to each of his guests, explaining how all of them have connections to murders most foul. Once he has disseminated all the grim details, he drops the bomb on which this film is based. 'One of you, is a werewolf!' (FYI, just in case this is the type of thing normally uttered at your weekly Sunday dinner, the folks at Amicus have instituted the 'you are to be shocked now' ascending trumpet note. Please react accordingly.)

Tom's wife Caroline, while supportive of her mate, is less than thrilled by her husband's devolution into werewolf themed madness. She implores him to give up this silly quest, to which he romantically utters the single most important words every wife wants to hear, and I paraphrase. "Honey, I love you and the life we have together, but none of it means a squirt of piss to me if you don't let me shoot a werewolf." Caroline, lets this little nugget of potentially relationship killing news slip off her back, but utters the hypothetical "Tom, what if the werewolf turns out to be me?" To which her loving husband replies with the second most important words a wife could possibly want to hear, and I quote, "POW".

While this exchange is concluding, one of our guests, let's call him Joe Cocker, makes a break for it. Does this imply that HE'S the werewolf? Or simply wants to make a break from crazy-ville before the bang bang starts? Either way, the result is hot car chase action.

Gettin' Chased


After a series of slow and winding 'shortcuts, it seems that Tom has managed to close the gap between hunter and prey to... Pretty much the same length it was before... Tom's not exactly giving off the 'master hunter' air that he he proclaimed at the outset...

In an effort to get on with the were-spotting, the inevitable comes to pass and Tom catches up with his fleeing house guest. Cocker uses the opportunity to deflect blame from himself by offering to stay whilst the others are set free. Tom, being a master of manipulation as well as long-distance-short-cuts uses this information to assume that Joe is really covering for another. Tom further expands on his theory through use of the when-a-man-is-covering-up-for-the-deeds-of-another-odds-are-it's-the-blonde-chick rule of nature. Making Davina Gilmore Tommy's new top wolfspect.

Tom returns with our Joe Cocker, who we will give the honor of referring to from here on out by his film moniker, Jan, played deftly by Irish film legend Michael Gambon, to the castle in the woods. He dawns a fabulous frock, and takes an opportunity to further explain werewolfocity to the film audience and further expand upon his Davina theory. Oh to have the riches necessary to wander my home with a crystal ashtray...

At dinner, horror film vet Peter Cushing, filling the role of Dr. Christopher Lundgren, further expands on this version of the werewolf tale, claiming that lycanthropy is the result of a lymph node condition causing sufferers to grow excess body hair, develop an irritating itch, and experience an insatiable hunger for human flesh. His authoritative tone and sharp red bow tie even intimidates the flame of a near by candle into shifting away from his obviously superior intellect.

As Dr. Lundgren continues to wax werewolf, dinner is being served. The prime rib is rare, bloody rare, and our dear Davina cannot seem to keep her eyes from the crimson elixir. Could this be the sign of a werewolf in our midst, or does she simply appreciate a good cut of meat?

The were-legends continue to be exposed as Jan, the mutton-chopped Lothario reminds the guests that there is an easier way to kill a werewolf than to wait for the moon to grow full and the shooty-shooty to begin. Jan, as backed by the resident Dr. Werewolf Lundgren, explains the mere touch of silver will send a werewolf to an immediate death. The Newcliffes, being fans of the finer things, are using solid silver candelabras on their dining table. Jan suggests that they end the excitement right here and now by passing the candelabra around the table. The diner who drops dead is our hidden fuzzy fiend.

The tension is palpable as pass the candlestick gets into full swing. All seem to pass the test with flying colors although Charles 'Arthur Barrington' Grey seems to think the whole thing is a waste of time and looks pained by the very though of such foolishness. Still, he grabs and passes the stick without deadening himself.

At this point I think I'm ready for a werewolf break. The one party goer who did NOT clutch the silver stick was our debonair host, Mr. Tom Newcliffe. I am now ready to officially cast by ballot. Our hunter didn't want to catch a werewolf after all. It is my belief that he has gathered a smorgasbord of human flesh for his own late night feasting. I'm on to you Tommy boy...

Ahhhh... Gimme a break... Old Dr. Lundgren tells us that the whole experiment was just a farce. The silver will only result in poisonous consequences if pollen from the plant wolfs bane is in the air. All of a sudden, it looks more like Barrington might be our hell hound. I'm still sticking with my pick though. In addition to the not-touching-the-silver, the security system Tom has set up is designed to specifically track the movements of a HUMAN, not a wolf... What better way for a weredude to get a meal in than by having a tracking devise to tell him where the next walking buffet station is hiding?

While the plant parable is being told, one of our party goers has broken into Tom's secret greenhouse. A greenhouse Tom is now visiting, and revealing his own secret stash of (dun dun DUUNN!!) wolfs bane. Tom likely plans to use this plant to track down his prey, but it seems that the secret is not safe, at least not unless Tom can catch the intruder who's been skulking through his garden...

The chase is on! This time on foot. Tom knows these woods like the back of his hand and should have no problem tracking down the... AACK! Another killer tree!!

Tom is hot on the trail of his rudest house guest when the object of his hunt chucks a barrel at him, knocking him to the ground. This isn't going to stop our hero, but the chase is likely at an end when whilst rolling in the hay Tommy find himself damn-well forked in the neck!It's worth noting that this near miss is the closest we've come to bloodshed in the first 35 minutes of the film. Frightmare this is not...

Tom returns to his garden and gathers the potted wolfs bane. He brings it to the conservatory where our guests have gathered and proceeds to blow pollen around the room. This is all well and good for flushing out a werewolf, but did you ever consider that some folks might have allergies? I sure hope there's some Afrin in the house. It should also be noted that Barrington, upon seeing the plant pollutant enter the air, immediately set down his goblet. A SILVER goblet. Could this mean he's the werewolf? It could, but we are once again reminded that Tom never touched silver at all, and therefore, even if a moon beast, would have nothing to fear from the wolfs bane pollen.

Meanwhile, while Tom continues to play lets torture the house guests, Jan and Davina have stolen away for a moonlit stroll. Little do they know Tom has eyes and ears all over these grounds, and a penchant for eavesdropping. The two discuss Tom's odd behavior and share some light banter before getting down to the real reason for getting out of mixed company. Davina's desire to give Jan a moustache inspection...

After a rousing banter with Barrington, or wanna-be Naschy, Paul Foote, decided it is time to retire for the evening. He takes a scintillating stroll through the house of which we are privy to each step, but when the trail ends at his bedroom door, we have reason to believe that my initial suspicion was correct. That Foote's got some hairy paws on him. Could this be proof he's the werewolf, or just signify that he should invest in some Nair?

As all the guests begin making their way to their respective quarters, Tom readies himself for the hunt. Like all good hunters, he changes out of his disco stripe adorned party shirt and changes into the clothes of the brush. A shiny patent leather safari jacket and no shirt. Tom certainly dresses better than your average werewolf, but I still have my suspicions...

As the waiting game begins we're treated to long pan shots of the house's interior. Call me crazy, but it seems that Tom is living in the exact same house that was the setting for And Now The Screaming Starts... Nahh... It must just be my imagination... Really...

Before you can say 'wow that mounted antelope skull is creepy', Tom's technological wizardry begins to bear fruit. There's activity registering on the underground microphones. The game is a foot! Ahh, but is it PAUL Foote?? The computer determines the beast to be a 159 pound 4 legged animal. That rules out Jan the juicy pianist, unless of course werewolves tend to shed forty pounds in the transition process...

Tom's tracking system works to perfection. He is able to pinpoint his target in a matter of moments. Unfortunately the one thing he forgot to take into account when designing his fool proof werewolf monitoring device was the fact he shoots like a KGB agent in a Bond film. The wolf was no more than three feet away, leaping over the top of him and yet he managed to miss the shot. I've got to tell you Tom, I thought you were a bad ass with your leather coat and your pompous accent, but you've disappointed me. Now get up, regroup, and go kill yourself some werewolf!

Not only did Tom let down himself by missing what was potentially the easiest shot of his life, but now the evil beast is heading straight for the house. Tom is convinced that it's heading straight for his surveillance chief Pavel, who despite his lack of belief in werewolves is still willing to arm himself for the potential mauling to come. Let's hope for his sake he shoots better than his boss...

Tom may not know how to shoot, but he knows his werewolf psychology. the beast has managed to climb to the roof, and is staring at poor Pavel, who has bypassed the better equipped rifles for a silver handgun. I'm sure that will be fine for targeting a werewolf from 40 feet through a pane of glass...

As expected, the fired shots do nothing more than clear the glass out of the way for wolfy to leap for Pavel's throat, and at fifty one minutes and forty eight seconds we have our film's first casualty. At least, that's what the blood curdling scream tells me. There is no on camera rending of flesh from bone. However at fifty two minutes and thirty three seconds we are finally made privy to what this beast can do.

The house guests come clamoring from their quarters to see what's the matter, and master Foote is notably absent. Equally notable is the rather late to the party appearance of Dr. Lundgren. Could the extra time have been required to complete the werewolf to Cushing transformation?

Foote is nestled snugly in bed having zonked himself on sleeping pills, but he's not cleared of suspicion due to a tell tale open window. Then again, our latecomer, the good Dr. also makes it a point to note that no guest is missing. Could he be attempting to throw water on Tom's werewolf theory to deflect the blame from himself? This is going to be one doozy of a werewolf break!

Having lost his... ahem... eyes... back at the house, the following morning Tom calls in the chopper team to be on standby for night surveillance. One would hope between now and then that Tom's going to hit the old shooting range. Instead his continuing Captain Ahab routine is further alienating him from his wife and guests. He will have his white whale, or in this case black wolf. It seems that Jan is feeling ill, and Davina would like to get him back in to town. Tom has no intention of allowing them to leave, and makes sure of it by tampering with all the vehicles on the property. As Tom is disposing of the evidence we are again reminded that there is someone of a very human nature still on the lose, wanting to see Tom as prey rather than hunter.

Tom's tracker chooses this moment as an acceptable time to out himself, and it is revealed that our man Foote has been watching Tom skulk about, mostly due to the fact he has spotted the cameras mounted throughout the grounds and is less than enthused about being taped. Is the REAL reason for his fear not wanting to be killed whilst in wolf form?

As Tom slowly loses his mind he returns once more to the candle sticks, this time firmly grabbing one and dashing my prior belief that he may, himself, be lycanthropic. My next best guess, Foote, is also happy to grab the stick and prove his humanity. Is it Bennington then? To be honest, at this point I pretty much don't care. I'm only hoping that whomever it may be have an opportun ity to rip out Tom's throat. Tonight's diner is inturupted as last night's was by termoil and an uncomfortable domestic squabble. These people have got to be getting hungry...

Note: Tonights hunting garb is a zip up pleather jacket and black gloves. Just because one is losing one's mind and chosing to work from an office complete with dead eyeless body doesn't mean one's fashion choices should be any less bold...

Tom works toward fixing his entirely trashed system when a tell tale howl rings out. This time, he shall use the process of elimination to nab his suspect. Kicking in the bedroom doors one by one, our brave and mad anti-hero determines that the Foote has slipped the shoe! Once again, the lycanthrope is fingered as one Paul Foote, regardless of his penchant for fondling candlesticks.

This brings us to a chase scene only a Palin could love. Helicopter vs. wolf.

Tom does his best to Alaskafy his hairy pursuee, but once again fails to shoot with even a minimum of accuracy. The wolf makes it safely to the barn which Tom lands next to and begins to machine gun like Sonny Corleone was inside.

Death number 2 comes as wolfy attacks the family dog. OK, this mutt's TOAST. You do not kill someone's pet and just get away with it. Second's later the helocopter pilots gets it as well, but big deal, there was a DOG killed here... That's screwed up, wolfy...

Point of order, we do have another excellent example of our world famous hunter not being able to shoot to save his life. Directly in front of him the pilot is locked in a dance of death with the wily werewolf. Tom, not 10 feet away, opens fire with the machine gun. He cares not about the pilot's life as long as it means killing the wolf. Instead he manages to MISS THEM BOTH AND BLOW UP THE HELICOPTER!
Tom, you suck. That's all there is to it. I'm now convinced that all the carcasses you have strewn around your house were purchased. You've never actually shot anything, have you?

In the aftermath of the fighting, we find that the family dog has survived, but is badly hurt. In a way that's worse. The only thing I want to watch less than a dog getting killed is a dog in pain. Poor form TBMD, Poor form... Tom uses his side arm to put the dog out of it's mysery, and I'm pretty much ready to write off the last 18 minutes of this one. I don't care who the werewolf is, and a defenseless animal has been used to toy with the audience's emotions. The only thing that can redeem this one now is if Tom ends up dead at the hands of the wolf...

We're now treated to a summary scene, reminding us of the suspects and why they are suspected. Both Foote and Jan were no where to be found during the wolf hunt, and Bennington is missing now. Just as we're convinced that Bennington is the man to finger on our way to the Werewolf Break, Tom checks his quarters and finds him:

dead in bed
gouged in the head
blood running red
hands severely shred.

Here endeth my dirge for Charles Grey.

Before we pause we find Foote running through the forest, the apparent victim of a bad trip. Is he running for safety from the mad beast? From Tom the crazed hunter? Or is he sick from some bad meat? Perhaps... some GREY meat??

He makes his way to a parimeter fence only to find it electrofied. Does anybody smell charred wolf hair? Tom tracks him down, and before he can climb a tree to hop the fence to gain his freedom, the Foote is again shoe'd.


I'm going to stick with Foote, but I really don't care. I'm really just looking forward to the end credits so I can get on with my life.

As a final test, Tom makes all his guests suck on a silver bullet, to see if perhaps they passed the candlestick test by coating their hands in a layer of protectant. This macabre party game clears Foote, Davina and Dr. Lundgren before CAROLINE, Tom's OWN WIFE is outed as the werewolf! Tom shoots her dead. Just as he promised he would in their passionate exchange earlier in the film. Remember? "POW."

The film is not yet complete, and the scene in the barn in which wolf Caroline watches the hell beast fight with her beloved pet tells us why. there's more than one werewolf in this house... Dr. Lundgren proves what we already know. Caroline must have been bit by the wolf during the barn fight, making her a werewolf as well. Let's get on with it now...

Foote takes a powder...

Tom goes after the wolf...

Tom shoots wolf, wolf was Jan...

Jan Bites Tom...

Tom Shoots Self. Manages to not miss. The End...

I give this one a resounding Meh... At least Tom got it in the end. That guy was a dick... From an Amicus collection perspective, I put this one just above ANTSS, but well below Asylum. Had the 'kill the family dog' scene been replaced by a miniature stabby robot scene, we'd be looking at a dead heat. This one also could have been improved by cutting about 10 of the first 35 minutes of the film. Too much of the Euros chasing Tom, too much of the 'here's how my security system works', too much 'pass the candelabra'. Not enough wolf-related chompy chompy...