video review : The Worm Eaters

video review : The Worm Eaters

Herman Umgar, an old clubfooted man who lives a life of seclusion but for his collection of pet worms, is a “strange one”. He’s also the most endearing character in this movie; a horror comedy you’ll have to embrace the low-budget campiness of in order to enjoy. It’s not a good movie in the traditional sense, quite the contrary, but its flaws; the outrageous acting being the most obvious one; are greatly exceeded by its charm.

The plot has the villainous mayor launching a campaign to rezone Umgar’s land (lake) in order to build estates for profit, which provides just enough suspense to keep things crawling along. The title scenes, featuring close-ups of people eating what looks like real worms, are gross. The ones of Umgar bonding with his beloved pets are engaging, along with the (diegetic/non-diegetic) music, which include his own home ditties.

my rating : 4 of 5

1977

video review : Dracula Versus Frankenstein

video review : Dracula Versus Frankenstein

The title is quite misleading. Dracula (Nosferatu) and Frankenstein, referred to here as “Farancksalan’s monster”, never actually face off. It’s The Werewolf, a good guy underneath the fur, who takes on his fellow horror legends, including The Living Mummy, all of whom are brought to life via humanoid space aliens. It’s a ridiculous concept and the movie itself isn’t much better. The best part is the ending showdown.

my rating : 2 of 5

1970

audio review : Wu-Tang Forever ( album ) … Wu-Tang Clan

audio review : Wu-Tang Forever ( album ) ... Wu-Tang Clan

This album presents Wu-Tang Clan as not just a rap group but a cultural and spiritual movement, though Islam is the religion of choice and mere men are referred to as “god”. It’s a “double CD” of what Rza describes as hip-hop “in the purest form”. That’s a boastful claim, but it’s one that’s hard to argue against when it comes to the beats; raw lo-fidelity New York City slum music.

The verses; there are no nonaffiliate guest rappers; are consistently on-point, especially in the case of Rza. He’s my favorite rapper in the group, despite his mumble-mouth speech impediment. It’s the hooks, not so much the silly Kung Fu samples or sloppy mixing and mastering, that flaw the set. Reunited is a grand opener though and Bells Of War is one of their best songs.

my rating : 3 of 5

1997

audio review : OG Perspective ( album ) … JT Money

audio review : OG Perspective ( album ) ... JT Money

JT Money’s appeal as a member of Poison Clan, what made him entertaining, was his blatant misogyny. Now that he’s older and more mature, he’s less interesting. He says he still Hate Hoes, but you wouldn’t know it listening to this album, which he suggests will be his final. There are even a couple of earnest “love” songs.

The main problem with OG Perspective though is that it’s simply lacking; not just the quality of the verses but also the hooks. Even the beats, typically the redeeming aspect of a rap album, are weak. The one notable song is How Ya Move Out Here, on which he gives good advice about not bringing too much attention to yourself.

my rating : 2 of 5

2020

video review : The Lost World [ Jurassic Park ]

video review : The Lost World [ Jurassic Park ]

The dinosaurs don’t disappoint in this official Jurassic Park sequel. It’s the people; Ian Malcolm, who takes the lead and loses most of his charm in the process, now has a black kid slash convenient plot device to annoy us with; and the trite trails they tread that make the trip less fun this time around.

It’s not until about halfway in that any real sense of suspense begins. The plot is predictable at times; dinosaurs eat expendable characters immediately and give the main ones time to escape; but at least it starts to feel like Jurassic Park. The best part is when a T-Rex finds its way to suburban San Diego.

my rating : 3 of 5

1997

audio review : Perdida ( album ) … Stone Temple Pilots

audio review : Perdida ( album ) ... Stone Temple Pilots

This is essentially acoustic folk music, which might come as an unpleasant surprise to hardcore STP fans. I’m not and can appreciate its desolate ambience; my musical tastes are about as diverse as it gets; wherever it may be. “Perdida” is, after all, a Spanish word meaning lost.

Some of the songs themselves are also nice. Others just humdrum along. The best include the title ballad, which, appropriately enough, begins with what sounds like a flamenco guitar. “I’m lost in circles most the time,” Jeff Guts confesses, “Behind the smile, I’m slowly dying.”

Is he being overdramatic? Perhaps, but that’s sort of what the band’s going for here. The album begins with a sad “love” song entitled Fare Thee Well and, with the exception of She’s My Queen, there isn’t a glimmer of hope until the end when a Sunburst is at last revealed.

my rating : 3 of 5

2020

audio review : Can’t Let Her Get Away ( song ) … Michael Jackson

The verses and bridges, sang from the perspective of a guy distraught because his girlfriend is leaving him, sound superb. That’s partly because of pretty chords introduced to the otherwise sparse Swing beat. It’s the hook, one of Michael Jackson’s worst if only because it seems so incomplete, that’s anticlimactic.

The whole song, in fact, sounds like a demo, especially during the second half when the aforementioned verses and bridges are abandoned for what comes across as an extended Dub Mix. It’s a groovy song, strange structure and all. I’m just surprised it actually made it onto a Michael Jackson album as it is.

my rating : 4 of 5

1991

audio review : Lessons ( album ) … MC Eiht

audio review : Lessons ( album ) ... MC Eiht

I like B-Real, but starting an MC Eiht album with a verse by anyone other than MC Eiht is unfitting to say the least. He and Chill go on to pay heavy-handed homage to the Cypress Hill frontman by mimicking their old vocals. Once you get past the blunders of that first song, this is a decent “2020” rap album.

As usual, the best parts are the beats; Bluue Wave, the extra “u” of which is a mystery to me, is a potential classic ruined by a lame hook; but there are subliminal Lessons to be learned in the lyrics, especially if you happen to live in a hood that’s taken you under. For MC Eiht, it’s the gangland streets of Compton.

my rating : 3 of 5

2020

video review : Hell Or High Water

video review : Hell Or High Water

The Tanner and Marcus characters; a bank robber and Texas Ranger; are a bit over the top. It’s their partners; one in crime, the other in justice; that serve as their relatively normal counterparts if there is a such thing as normal people in Texas.

Hell Or High Water is a game of cat and mouse that’s both fun and mildly riveting from the start. That’s mainly due to the plot’s balance of humor and tension money-rolled with a tender backstory that’ll have you rooting for the purported bad guys.

my rating : 4 of 5

2016

video review : Host

video review : Host

This movie, which, at less than an hour long, hardly qualifies as such, is about friends getting together via Zoom during the Covid-19 “lockdown” to participate in a séance. They’re Hosted by a girl named Haley. It’s her friend who connects them to the “spirit realm”.

After a few jokes, it becomes a horror movie; one inspired by Rec; it’s actually based on a real-life internet prank inspired by Rec; presented in the style of Unfriended with all the silly scare tactics of the Paranormal Activity series. I jumped once. Cute girls though.

my rating : 1 of 5

2020

video review : Swallow

video review : Swallow

You’d think a flick about a cute girl who likes to swallow would be a thrill. Hunter, a New York housewife with a compulsive disorder that makes her eat inedible objects like marbles and needles, brings about a few moments of suspense near the end, but most everything before it is a case study in oddball storytelling.

It’s not just crazy Hunter. Other people also say and do weird things, which give their world a Tim Burton kind of feel. An angry outburst from her otherwise amiable husband, for example, seems totally out of character. The movie is ultimately okay enough, but if there’s a point or underlining message, it’s lost on me.

my rating : 3 of 5

2019

audio review : Keep It Jungle ( album ) … Jungle Brothers

audio review : Keep It Jungle ( album ) ... Jungle Brothers

As far as beats and rap styles go, this could’ve been the third Jungle Brothers album. That is to say it sounds like it was made in 1993, which is actually a good thing. As welcomed as new J Beez songs are after all these years, it would’ve been disappointing hearing them trying to follow trends. There’s a song here entitled Smart Phones that suggests how much of a disaster that probably would’ve been. Not that Keep It Jungle isn’t a little disappointing as is.

The problem, really the only problem, with the album is what goes on during the breaks. The Brothers have never been known for amazing hooks, but the ones offered here, which consist of old school chants that sound borderline obnoxious; “your songs ain’t catchy,” Mike G has the gall to tell a rapper at one point; leave much to be desired. The one exception, Broken Records, on which a woman sings a dainty little refrain, is easily the album’s best song.

my rating : 3 of 5

2020