Greetings and welcome to the first installment of Video Fix. I’m excited as all hell to be doing this, especially in this wonderful new mag. For those who haven’t stumbled upon my meanderings in other mags or sites, the mission is pretty simple: we talk about things we find interesting. That doesn’t always mean good things. But since it’s all so subjective anyway, that part of it doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that you’ll hopefully gain some insight into things you’re not seeing everywhere else; films, DVDs and Blu-rays that aren’t very top of mind in other major sites or mags. With that, it’s my serious pleasure to introduce this column’s very first feature, the vastly undervalued Hard Core Logo (1996), which has just recently hit Blu-ray disc.
This mockumentary follows fictitious Canadian punk band Hard Core Logo from their reunion show through a subsequent tour across Canada. Led by the outspoken “Joe Dick” on vocals, the dysfunctional band is filled out by conflicted guitarist Billy Tallent, mentally ill bass player John Oxenberger and drummer/resident bonehead, Pipefitter. The band had previously tasted success during the ’80s, but broke up due to volatile personal conflicts, mostly centering on Dick’s caustic outbursts. Now after a five-year absence, HCL is back and director Bruce McDonald talks a similar approach to Rob Reiner’s in This Is Spinal Tap, by filming the band’s every waking hour, and stirring the pot to get heated moments on camera.
Along the way, revelations surface that give insight into the sad situation the band currently finds itself in. On the journey, the players encounter a series of cluster-fucks and absurd situations that make the film both painful and funny at once.
Actor Hugh Dillon steals the show as the foul-mouthed and confrontational Joe Dick, who will stop at nothing to ensure the band’s reunion and legacy goes beyond the fistfights that plague any given night’s show. While Dick is most dedicated to the cause, he is also his own worst enemy and generally sabotages any momentum the band generates. His relationship with guitarist Billy Tallent (Callum Keith Rennie) is a complex one. The life-long partners in crime share something intense. They fight like brothers and ex-lovers, and there are hints that the latter situation may have occurred at some point.
The actors’ chemistry as a band is spot on. And the music attributed to it is also quite good. Played for the soundtrack by Hugh Dillon and the band Swamp Baby, the songs are rousing, street-punk anthems rife with fist pumping, chain-gang choruses. Numbers such as the sarcastic “Who the Hell Do You Think You Are?” and the self-explanatory “Rock & Roll Is Fat and Ugly” are infectious, and warrant at the very least, a paid download.
The internal band dynamics are equally intriguing. Tallent is on his way up career-wise, outside of HCL, while Dick’s only got the past to cling to, along with the slim chance that the reunion will reignite his failed fortunes. The end is as raw the music itself, and pays fitting tribute to the legacy of this fictitious band and its troubled leader. And that’s the key to this film, it’s all so real, without relying on all-too-obvious rock ‘n’ roll clichés or melodrama to carry it through.
Recently released on sterling Blu-ray (MVD), the package also includes the sequel Hard Core Logo 2, an entertaining but less impactful follow-up with faint connections to the original, but is nice to have, nevertheless.
For questions, comments or something you’d like to see, hit me up at Retrohead77@yahoo.com. Bring on the New Noise!
Check out more titles below!
Searching For Sugarman
Obscure ’70s singer/songwriter Rodriguez fails to sell records and falls out of the public eye, only to late find out that he’s been having hits for years in apartheid South Africa. It’s an astonishing story made all the more crazy by the fact that it’s true. (Sony)
The world is an irradiated wasteland and the population is crammed into a city policed by badass judges on motorcycles. This new take on the comic is bleak and gritty, with hypnotic special effects that heighten the insanity. It’s also got an interesting villainess in the snaggle-toothed and wretched Ma-Ma, played by the usually dishy, Lena Headey. (Lionsgate)
This cult import spans just five episodes, but is packed with effective and solidly creepy, supernatural stories. I even found myself hitting rewind a few times to try and figure out what the hell had just happened. That’s not a bad sign in my book. (Synapse)
Set in a dark, film-noir atmosphere, Femme Fatales showcases strong women in the lead, righting wrongs and kicking the asses of dastardly brutes and hapless fools. It may all sound well and good if you’re a feminist, but before you get too excited, it’s got plenty of T&A that predictably overtakes any storyline. (E1)
The Inbetweeners Movie
For those familiar with the offbeat British show about four hopelessly uncool friends, this film will be nothing new as it follows the established formula. For the uninitiated, it’s a quirky, sophomoric coming-of-age film that balances its raunchiness with dashes of witty discourse. (Lionsgate)
This one had a bit of buzz when it came out a while back, for its creepy atmospherics and the fact that it is “based on a true story.” While I can’t vouch for that, the film does start out sufficiently chilly and dank. But, it’s loaded with every “possession” cliché in the book and pails miserably when compared to just about any of the Exorcist films. (Lionsgate)
The name alone of this one was intriguing for me because I’ve always liked the song by The Tubes bearing the same title. The cleverly named “Fish” has just gotten out of the joint, for having not ratted on his associates. Once out, said associates throw a party, serving up a colorful array of sushi laid neatly atop a naked girl, who seems catatonic. Nice set up. But there are loads of purposeful twists that keep this uber-raw, Tarantino-esque thriller moving along briskly. (Magnolia)
This one’s kinda older, but no less racy and weird than anything out now. It’s the story or pre-Nazi Germany, where the bar scene is swingin’ and everyone is screwing around, while the real degenerates plot world domination and the slaughter of innocents. In spite of that, the film is glam rock to the core—all spectacle and debauchery, and it’s got an emcee that bears a striking resemblance to singer “Monkey” from the punk band, The Adicts. This Blu-ray book has a nice transfer, plus other goodies.
Before he left this world, Christian Death front man Rozz Williams made the short, minimalistic film Pig. Highly surreal and mostly nonsensical, it follows a serial killer who puts his victim through a series of twisted, torturous routines at an abandoned old house. The eerie imagery is along the lines of the stuff Marilyn Manson put out in the early days, but much more depraved. 1334 is director Nico B’s hallucinogenic, albeit slightly tamer follow up. (Cult Epics)
War of the Dead
A zombie movie with no gore? Well, not exactly, but surprisingly, this film—in spite of its heavy title—is pretty light on the red stuff. Does that mean its heady and atmospheric? Not too much. But, the idea is pretty cool: US and Finnish soldiers kick some Nazi ass, only to find that they keep coming back, even after being killed. While the potential is there, this low-budget shocker could use a little seasoning in the blood and guts department. (E1)
A vampire, a werewolf and a ghost are flat mates with issues. The concept alone makes this clever little cult show from the UK intriguing. But, it’s also got interesting storylines and solid acting to further the cause. This time out, the trio is no longer the same, and new developments come about that could lead to the end of everything. While the cast may have changed, the season is no less riveting. (BBC)
There’s no denying how heavy metal Californication is. There’s protagonist Hank Moody’s drunken rock ‘n’ roll antics, the heavy soundtrack and episodes with names like “Zoso,” “Hell Ain’t a Bad Place to Be,” “The Unforgiven” and “Hell Bent for Leather.” This season finds Mr. Moody getting a fresh start only to find that life is even more challenging than before. And, it’s pretty heavy at times. (Showtime)
The Cult Horror Collection
The Skull & The Man Who Could Cheat Death
This eerie little Blu-ray 2-fer features a pair of lesser-known gothic horror goodies of yore. The Skull is very well done psychological horror featuring genre icons Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee, while The Man Who Could Cheat Death deals with a man’s unhealthy obsession with immortality. Speaking of which, it’s great that Legend Films keeps restoring and releasing gems like this. Both are creepy and atmospheric, relying heavily on story and mood to move things along. (Legend)
Yet another Zombie flick to grace our dilapidated decks. But what first makes this one stand out a bit is that it is “Presented by Uwe Boll,” as displayed on the front cover. For those unfamiliar, Mr. Boll is largely considered one of the worst directors working today. Personally, I think he’s pretty funny, and always gives a humdinger of an interview. Although he didn’t have anything to do with the actual making of this Italian zombie number, it’s still fairly average, but does have some interesting elements. The story follows a group of survivors of a place that has been decimated by a deadly epidemic. Through their travels, they meet inbred hicks, fascists and a crazy cult leader. It’s obviously done with a bit of tongue in cheek, as there are several humorous moments. And, although low budget, the makeup and costumes are nicely done. (E1)