Even if you’re a diehard fan of a band, a concert film can get old. When you’re at the live show itself, it’s different. There’s a mesmerizing effect to seeing a band you love in person, and it’s easy to forgive any errors that go along with performing the songs while killing it on stage. With this in mind, Metallica Through The Never takes the traditional concert film and turns it on its blown-out ear.
In similar fashion the Led Zeppelin’s The Song Remains The Same, Through The Never combines epic concert footage with a surreal sub-story of sorts, one that is as confusing as it is oddly compelling. Just before Metallica takes the stage, young roadie Trip (Dane DeHaan) is sent on errand to bring gasoline to a stranded tour van. On his journey, Trip gets in a car accident, and soon find that the city has been overrun with rioters and police, not to mention an apocalyptic horseman and a sneering doll. Throughout the mayhem, Trip gets beaten, burned, knocked unconscious, but then rises to wreak havoc on the proceedings, in more ways than one.
All the while, Metallica plays on with a sweeping concert set that includes “Creeping Death,” “Ride The Lightning,” “One,” “Hit The Lights,” “Enter Sandman” and others. The band looks and sounds bigger-than-life—even the diminutive Lars Ulrich—the flash pots and stage props adding to the insanity. And here’s where things a little dicey. While the concert footage is electric, I’m not sure I’d be able to get through it in one sitting. This is where having the side-story intertwined comes in handy.
While said story is visually eye-catching (director Nimród Antal does a fantastic job at creating the Apocalypse by metal), it’s not prominent or linear enough to be fully formed, thus at times feeling like a disruption. One could look at slower points in the concert the same way. But if you dispense with logic for a couple hours and look at this as a sweeping concert film with super surreal element, then Metallica Through the Never is a worthy view.
This Blu-ray release features an slew of bonus features including a documentary on the making of Metallica Through The Never, the music video for “Master of Puppets,” a Q&A from the Mill Valley Film Festival, vignettes from the Orion Festival tents and more. (Studio)
What happens when a few theatrically inclined feminists form a punk band in a repressive Eastern Bloc country? Pussy Riot! Pussy Riot the film documents the masked female band’s struggles with being arrested in their homeland for staging a deranged protest performance on sacred ground, and the ensuing politics involved with their quest for freedom.
The Pussy Riot case has become a worldwide event and this film documents the whole story, from the group’s quest to distinguish itself, to the way the Russian government has gone out of its way to squash it. One of the better rock docs of the time—check it out. (Magnolia)
Game Of Thrones
The third season of this universally loved HBO show saw some real bad shite go down for everyone’s favorite underdogs, The Starks. As if having their beloved father decapitated and family fractured during the first season wasn’t enough, they continue to get screwed in subsequent seasons as well. This latest is no exception, and you can see all the carnage and mystical mayhem in high definition, as well as some sad defeats, torturous deeds and frustrating narrative turns, which GoF author George RR Martin seemingly has no problem dishing out. (HBO)
Vintage horror fans were no doubt in a serious state of euphoria upon the announcement of a pristine Blu-ray release of Corruption. Not that it’s an amazing film by any stretch, but because it’s a long-lost relic of horror-icon Peter Cushing’s non-horror work. Along with Christopher Lee, Cushing owned the gothic horror film movement of the ‘60s as the likes of Baron Von Frankenstein and Van Helsing in a number of Hammer Studios classics. And it’s hard to remember anything outside of that realm.
To commemorate what would have been his 100th birthday, the good folks at Grindhouse Releasing have unearthed this strange swinging ‘60s film. Cushing plays a plastic surgeon who’s hip, much-younger model wife gets disfigured in an accident that he’s partially to blame for. She’s obviously got the old coot by the balls and places unreasonable demands on him to fix her face—even resorting to murder to accomplish it.
Thus, the film is more of a campy thriller than anything horrific or dark. And while the plot gets a little thin in spots, Cushing’s acting is tops, and the colorful, groovy sets and effects make for an entertaining paean to pop art. For fans of Cushing, this one’s in limited quantities, so I’d suggest nabbing one quick…unless you’re a gothic horror purist, in which case this isn’t it. (Grindhouse Releasing)
Perfect Strangers Live
The debate forever rages on: Zeppelin or Purple? In these parts, the former will always win, but for me—at least at this moment—I’m gonna go with Deep Purple. More metal and abrasive on the ears than its more mystical peers, Deep Purple in its prime was unstoppable, cranking out a curious combination of heavy riff-rock with a classical flair, embellished with Ritchie Blackmore’s amazing solos (“Highway Star” still being one of the best ever) and Ian Gillan’s banshee screams. This key lineup would last just a few albums before splintering in the mid-70s.
Then suddenly to the delight of hessians across the globe, the “MK II lineup” as it’s commonly referred to as, reformed with both Gillan and Blackmore in tow, to release one of its best albums, Perfect Strangers in 1984. This Blu-ray is one of the only official live documents of the short-lived reunion that would yield classics like “Knocking At Your Backdoor,” “Perfect Strangers” and “A Gypsy’s Kiss.” The tour was massively successful, out-grossing all others in the US except for that of Bruce Springsteen.
The video quality is decent for 1984 standards, but lacks fluidity and skimps on the multiple angles, often leaving out keyboardist Jon Lord and drummer Ian Paice. But the band—however fragile behind the scenes—is energized and alive. Staples like “Highway Star,” “Child In Time” and “Space Truckin’” are frenetic, as well as key Perfect Strangers cuts. The main focal points are Gillan and Blackmore, who both seem dedicated to their crafts—Blackmore’s solo in the aforementioned “Child In Time” being a standout scorcher. Overall, this Blu-ray is a great piece if you’re a Purple person, in spite of a few shortcomings and so-so extras. (Eagle Rock)
There’s something gothic and creepy about the original Sherlock Holmes films from the 1940s, starring horror legend Basil Rathbone. And rarely has anything since compared…until the BBC’s hip update, Sherlock. With an odd cadence (this season totaling just three episodes), it can get frustrating, as this show is generally that good. Lead Benedict Cumberbatch is similar to Rathbone only in his cocky command of the situation. His updated version has a slightly psychotic edge. Watson is played by Hobbit star Martin Freeman, who is perfect in the part as the more sensitive sidekick. As a combination, it works well, and Season 3 was no exception. This time out, highlights include a terrorism plot, a strange best man’s speech and blackmail. While lacking the black-and-white eeriness of the classic series, this Sherlock doesn’t skimp on the action, or the mystery. (BBC Home Entertainment)
A precocious tween with telekinetic powers wreaks havoc on those around her in a sleepy Irish town. Or, does she? Dark Touch infuses its bits with several horror clichés of the past decade (the use of child protagonists, scary long black hair, objects moving on their own, etc.). But it is not without its charms—the atmospheric settings, lush color and lead actor Missy Keating as Neve, an 11-year-old version of Carrie.
The trouble is, with Carrie, it was easy to see why the poor girl acted out the way she did—it was about revenge. Here, it’s not exactly clear as to why Neve is so pissed off, or if she’s even capable of doing the dastardly deeds that are implied, even though child abuse may be a factor. While well made and nice to look at, Dark Touch overall, feels a little thin. (IFC)
The Rutles Anthology
In the spirit of This Is Spinal Tap, The Rutles were a fictional band created by Monty Python stalwart Eric Idle. Known as the “Pre-Fab Four” for their parody of The Beatles, a TV special All You Need is Cash was released in 1978, and the “band” actually had hits in the UK, plus a follow up movie titled Can’t Buy Me Lunch in 2002.
This new Blu-ray release features both films, plus some extras. Presented in documentary style, we see the origins of the band told through narration, musical vignettes and interviews with the likes of Mick Jagger, John Belushi and Paul Simon. If you’re a Beatles fan, you’ll instantly get the gags. If not, it’s still absurd and entertaining as Idle and team take the piss out of the rock ‘n’ roll dream one gut-busting note at a time.
Having not owned the prior DVD release, I could only compare what I remember seeing as a rerun on TV years ago. From a technical perspective, the picture quality of this Blu-ray is grainy and cropped, so it’s got an odd look. But, as it’s the only way to get a current copy of All You Need is Cash, it’s still worth a view. (MVD)
We Are What We Are
The Parkers have more than a few hang-ups. Fiercely religious, widower Frank (Bill Sage) runs his house with an iron fist, quoting scripture and making sure his three kids abide by God’s law. But, it’s with which god wherein the questions start to surface.
You see, Frank and his brood carry out cannibalistic rituals in the name of said deity, and it’s a sick and twisted little ritual they’ve got going (which proves effectively tantalizing for horror fans). Methodically paced and set in a flooded small town, which heightens the film’s moldy, dank feel, We Are What We Are is successful in being horrific without being over-the-top, something of a rarity these days. (E1)
One of the odder horror films to hit my deck in recent days, Jug Face hits on the notion of sacrifice for the greater good of the community. Pregnant teen Ada (Lauren Ashley Carter) wants a better life. Impregnated by her brother, she lives in a dingy backwater town inhabited by toothless rednecks who make moonshine to get by. The twist here is in how folks get chosen to be sacrificed to “The Pit.” It’s all rests in the hands of one fellow redneck, a dimwitted sap who randomly molds the next winner’s face into a moonshine jug! Yep, I’m not making this up.
But in a strange way, it all kind of works. In spite of all the plot holes, Ada’s character is believable and likeable. In fact, the acting overall is well above average. Add to this, the seediness of the setting and all the colorful creeps that make up Ada’s world and you’ll be jonesing for a shower by the time it’s through. (MVD)
For all of us overgrown kids, the surreal adventures of Finn and his dog Jake provide a much-needed respite from all overly contrived TV content out there. Season 3 sees the pair tangle with the hilarious Cuties, a race of spongy creatures that’ve never won a fight. It’s kooky but endearing, and is handled with a colorful, psychedelic twist, as is most of the season. This new Blu-ray enhances the lunacy in hi-def, while showcasing the clever storylines of such episodes as It Came from the Nightosphere and Jake vs. Me-Mow, ones that could never be seen as overly contrived or calculated, just strangely cool. (Warner Home Video)
While it may not seem like it on the surface, The Doors were one of the premier pre-cursors to punk. Sure, the band lacks some of the indie cred that the Velvet Undeground enjoys as proto-punk press darlings, but one aspect right off the top are the feral stage antics of Jim Morrison that would obviously make a major impression upon a young Iggy Pop a couple years later. And the band’s combination of dark poetry and frenzied music beds would also prove influential on future alternative music.
R-Evolution documents the band’s TV appearances, ranging from staged and constrained to wild and uninhibited. While many of these clips exist in other comps, the quality in this collection has been upgraded for a consistent look and sound. Standouts include the band’s own music films for “Break On Through (To The Other Side)” and “Unknown Soldier,” plus “People Are Strange” from a 1967 appearance. (Eagle Rock)
What would you do if you ran into an exact replica of yourself? Plus One examines this concept in spades, adding in a few clever twists and some interesting visuals.
Soon after the biggest party of the year kicks off, a few friends notice that something is not right after the power goes off for a minute. They now begin to see themselves in a whole new light, doing the exact same things they had just done a few minutes earlier.
In all the chaos, it does get messy—and confusing. But, it makes for an interesting take on the concept of time and space, with a few bloody scenes tossed in for good measure. (IFC)
The White Queen
When it comes to original content, the Starz network seems poised to keep pace with its Cable rivals by putting out increasingly racier stuff. Based on a series of books by Philippa Gregory called The Cousins’ War, last year’s The White Queen is no exception. Similar in feel to Showtime’s The Tudors and HBO’s superior Game Of Thrones, The White Queen takes place in the mid 1400s and follows three women as they attempt to scheme their way to the top.
Elizabeth, The White Queen in question here, is dutifully portrayed by Brit actress Rebecca Ferguson, who lights up the screen, clothed and otherwise. Yeah, for a medieval period piece, this show holds nothing back, whether it be the bloody battles or the bedroom scenes. One could even label the first episode as gratuitous if pressed, but there is a story here, enough so, that I found myself having to do a marathon view of this Blu-ray set. (Starz)
Bloodlust is one of those films that immediately falls into the category of “so bad, it’s good.” Lampooned on Mystery Science Theatre, the film also stars Robert Reed, who would later find fame as the dad on The Brady Bunch! It’s the story of two couples that find themselves shipwrecked on an island owned by a wealthy, sadistic hunter. This is no ordinary hunter, this pervy old coot wears a satin smoking jacket and sports a perfectly coiffed little mustache. His acting is also a treat, spouting lines as wooden his new visitors’ boat.
What redeems Bloodlust is its eerie look and feel. The human and animal taxidermy is creepy as all hell, while the overall atmosphere is stony and bleak. There’s also a fair amount of halfway decent gore for a 1959 film, which is surprising. If the actors just didn’t talk, we’d have a much different film on our hands. Either way, with this remastered DVD, it’s an entertaining view. (Film Chest)
For questions, comments or something you’d like to see, drop me a line at Retrohead77@yahoo.com. Cheers, JK.