Thursday, 2 October 2014

I warned you not to go out tonight




In 2006 Alex Aja knocked one out of the park with his English language debut, a re-imagining of Wes Craven's The Hills Have Eyes. Equal parts atomic cautionary tale, haunting creepshow and ultra-violent gorefest, it remains for me one of the great modern horror remakes.

Six years later, this time as producer and co-writer of 2012's Maniac, Aja once again reminded us that remakes can sometimes be very worthwhile endeavours. Directed by longtime Aja collaborator Franck Khalfoun (seen here being slaughtered in spectacular fashion in High Tension), Maniac 2012 is a compelling update on William Lustig's thirty four year old shocker.

However, Elijah Wood's take on Frank Zito is different enough to Joe Spinell's that it serves to make this new film more than just another update for a new generation. The two films stand apart as distinctly different character studies of a very sad, sick man. Wood's performance, as well as some really interesting stylistic changes, elevate Khalfoun's Maniac above many of it's remake brethren, making this a truly worthy companion piece to the original.




I'm not being hyperbolic when I say that Khalfoun's Maniac is for me a near perfect horror movie. Wood's portrayal of Frank is excellent, bringing sympathy to a character who is as vile and repellent as they come. Without that pathos, both versions of Maniac would be little more than exercises in graphic sadism, having no more emotional impact on the viewer than Fulci's New York Ripper (which is a great flick, but for different reasons). Maxime Alexandre's cinematography (he also shot Aja's gorgeous looking early movies) is drenched in grimy, neon-lit atmosphere, thanks to good use of late night cityscapes to create an urban setting that is both alienating and desolate. The central conceit of the movie, that everything is seen from Frank's point of view, is well handled as well, making the whole sordid experience that much more visceral. And speaking of viscera, the gore is absolutely top notch, easily trumping Savini's celebrated work on the original.

Finally, Robin Coudert's throbbing, menacing score is a nostalgic throwback that struck a chord with me on a deeper level than most other '80s tribute scores, especially this collaboration with Chloë Alper that I couldn't get out of my head for weeks after seeing it. I still listen to this track all the time.




Don’t wanna fall apart again. 
Count to three.
We're gonna jump after three, 
you mean that much to me.

Can’t you see? 
Nobody likes you but me. 
Finally, someone who understands. 
Now you want to stay
I won't be a fool again.
I'm not made that way

Can't you see? 
Nobody out here but me. 
The other side of town 
And now you want to stay, 
I won't be a fool again. 
We're all made this way.

I can see,
your head is stuck in the tree 
and sure you'll never leave in times of emergency 
When you walked away, 
You took all I had left to me 
All of everything 

Falling apart again 
Falling apart again 
Don't wanna fall apart again. 

Don't make me fall apart again
Don't make me fall apart again
Don't make me fall apart again
Don't make me fall apart again.


Friday, 26 September 2014

WARMOUTH




Under Tony Abbott's far-right government Islamophobia in Australia seems to be ramping up to unprecedented levels of hysteria, thanks to its racist policies and an ongoing campaign of fear-mongering propaganda. On September 18 a massive "anti-terror" raid, involving no less than 800 heavily armed cops, was mounted across two states. The entire operation resulted in a single man being charged. It mirrors recent events in the US that highlight a disturbing heavy-handedness and over-militarisation of our police forces.

To clarify my position, I'm an atheist but I respect the right to peaceful religious belief and practice. However, as with most reasonable people, I hold all forms of religious zealotry in an equal measure of disdain. But with the kind of xenophobia that Australia is becoming known for, criticism is never restricted to being directed at religious fanaticism alone. It always seems to bleed over into rabid hatred based on little more than cultural and racial differences.

So in the spirit of saying FUCK YOU to white Australian bigotry, and showing some solidarity with our closest neighbours, here's another banging demo from Indonesia, this time from Yogyakarta's Warmouth.

Two tracks of gnarly, neck-snapping, grinding hardcore. Rad vocals with a heavy as fuck and totally damaging guitar tone. Get pissed. Bandcamp link below.




Wednesday, 24 September 2014

BLUE RUIN




Jeremy Saulnier's debut feature Murder Party made an impression on me when I saw it a few years ago. I've still only seen it once, but I remember it as an oddball little indie horror flick with a sharp script, interesting characters and a mischievous anarchic streak. It's exactly the kind of rough around the edges, no-budget first effort that makes you sit up and take notice of a new director as being one to watch. 

Cut to seven years later and Saulnier's sophomore feature Blue Ruin. The leap in maturity and quality between the two movies is staggering. It's not just a case of an increase in production values due to a bigger budget, it's obvious that Saulnier has grown as a filmmaker in leaps and bounds. Honestly it feels like there should be a whole filmography dividing these two films (and in a way there is, as he served as DOP on no less than seven features in the interim).

Blue Ruin is my latest foray into a sub-genre that I love, albeit one that I don't really have a name for. Southern thrillers? It's a sub-genre that I can trace back to the Coen's Blood Simple, although I'm sure that movie has its antecedents that I'm not aware of. This year has been a notable one for movies in this vein with Jim Mickle's excellent Cold in July (the first of Mickle's movies that I've really connected with) and David Gordon Green's masterpiece Joe (seriously if you haven't seen Joe, drop what you're doing, and go watch it NOW). Both of those films deserve their own write-ups and I hope to get to that at some point.




The way that Blue Ruin's story unfolds in the first act relies heavily on visual storytelling to introduce you to its central character, Dwight. When we first meet him he's a homeless loner living out of his car, and it takes a while to understand how and why he arrived at this low point. One thing is obvious - his life has stalled, and he seems to be living in a kind of self imposed limbo. Then, out of the blue, something happens that wakes him out of this stupor and gives him purpose again. Something that propels him forward with such powerful determination that he seems unable to stop his forward momentum, even as things begin to spin out of control.

Honestly, that's as far as I want to go with a synopsis, because one of this film's pleasures is in the way that the story is gradually revealed. It's no spoiler to say that Blue Ruin is a revenge flick, as that's touted pretty heavily in the film's marketing, but one of the things that makes it stand out in the genre is that Dwight is no archetypal revenge protagonist/antihero. There's no macho posturing, no ninja-level weapons and martial arts skills, no quipping swagger to this character. This man is damaged, unconfident, introverted and constantly terrified. As such, you can't help but fall in love with and root for the character, especially given the terrible adversity he faces in the course of the story.

Right across the board there's so much to love in Blue Ruin. The actors are all excellent, feeding off of Saulnier's killer script, the standout being Macon Blair whose understated performance as Dwight brings so much to a character who is a man of few words. The film is beautifully shot in rural locations throughout Virginia and just drips with backwoods atmosphere. And finally, the sometimes languid pacing is often punctuated by some really fist-pumping violence, a couple of times resulting in some perfectly executed gore that, in the service of such a genuinely emotional story, has a powerful impact. Highly recommended.




Friday, 19 September 2014

OBLIVIONATION Language of Violence lyrics




I emailed the guitarist of Oblivionation a while ago, asking for a scan of the lyric sheet to their recent album Language of Violence. He didn't have one on hand so he typed out the lyrics to all ten songs for me and then gave me permission to post them here. That, girls and boys, is how you do it.

As I've already pointed out in previous posts about this Massachusetts juggernaut, Oblivionation have some of the sharpest lyrics of any hardcore band currently going. Intelligent, well informed, penetrating and mean as fuck - these are lyrics that lack ambiguity and get straight to the matter at hand. Case in point, album opener "Language of Violence" is a scathing epitaph for a species that is currently waging no less than forty three wars and armed conflicts upon itself.  

You know that feeling that really banging hardcore gives you? When the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, your eyes widen, your pulse increases? It shouldn't just be the music that does that, it should be the words too. Oblivionation get that. Others should take note.

All lyrics by Quinn Dillon (and mucho thanks)


Language Of Violence

When logic fails
Violence prevails
The language of violence we all understand
We decry war
And still we wage more
The language of violence is our native tongue
As we evolve
One problem unsolved
The language of violence is the language of man
Violence won't end
Still we pretend
That somehow man
Is not an animal
Violence won't end
and still we pretend
That somehow man
Is capable of being anything more
Nothing can kill instinct
We react we don't think
Nothing can kill instinct
You're part of our evolution
To make peace
Killing is our solution


Bought and Sold

What does it mean to be free?
It's nothing I feel
When I look around
It's nothing I see
We want to believe
The choices we make
Can't be influenced
By a flat screen tv
The collective unconscious remains
Unaware of the fact
That the illusion of choice
Is burned in our brains
Becoming your brand
It then speaks for you
The politics of purchase we don't understand
We can't distinguish our needs
From what we want
What we want is more
We want what we see
Can't break yourself free
Because we depend upon ads
As the mother of necessity
You're not a person
You're a target
What does it mean to be free?
It's nothing I feel
And I'll never know
Because I'll never be
You think you're immune
But you do what you're told
The compulsion to buy
Starts with being sold


You're Not Pro-Union, Just Pro-You

You're not pro-union
You're just pro-you
Privileged and ignorant
Loud mouth hypocrites
Who don't like to think
Talk like you're bleeding red, white and blue
But your motives are pink
Just right wing "commies"
With no fucking clue
Working class zeros
For free market heroes
You romance the past
But Reagan threw the air traffic controllers
Flat out on their ass
You're not pro-union
You're just pro-you
You right wing "commies"
Just don't have a clue
Socialists you blame
But can't see that you're one too
Take from the greedy
And give to the needy
If the needy means you
Then piss on the poor
For demanding more
Like that's not what you do
The goose scorns the gander
While watching Fox News
What you call a contract
They call a handout
One you haven't earned
Your part of a problem
That you can't stand
But you still haven't learned
For you not enough and for others too much
The loudest voices sound most out of touch
So smarten up
And till that day comes
Fuck you


Crawl Or Be Crushed

They prefer we stay where we are
Under the boot of a system that's gone to far
Belly to ground
Face in the dirt
Our voices stifled by mouthfuls of Earth
Crawl or be crushed
Give up or get out
There's no other choice
How long do we wait for the last straw to break?
How far are we pushed?
How much do we take?
The spirit of rebellion cannot be touched
Our will to survive means crawl or be crushed
Crawl or be crushed
No more
Stand up
Rattle your cage
Or lie in a grave
Push back
Or die a slave
Your voice is a rally call
Our voice
Unites us all
Crawl or be crushed
Our time is now


Gainfully Annoyed

Just keep your head down
Blend in, don't cause any waves
If you don't learn anything
At least learn your place
Don't ask
Don't speak
Don't think
And you'll do just fine
But know it all fucks just like you
Tend to get out of line
Nod your head up and down
It's our show and you're just some clown
We're not gonna ask
You're not gonna tell
So just shut your mouth
Don't care
So don't you
Tell us
What we should try to do
We don't care
So don't share
Your thoughts
Only matter to you
You should thank god
We gave you a job
You're nothing more
Than some replaceable slob
So shut your mouth
Just shut your fucking mouth
Nod your head up and down
It's our show and you're just some clown
With a college degree
Who still hasn't learned
How to shut his big mouth


Fear Breeds Action

Ignore all your problems
It's no use to solve them
Head in the sand
I can't understand
You're just kicking the can down the road
And we both know
You leave it up to others
To reap what you sow
Shirking the truth
Dodging the phone
You're drowning in fear all alone
Stepping over a dead horse
That you refuse to own
Cause what you won't see
You won't believe
Cause if you won't see
You don't have to believe
How far do you think you can get?
Revising the past
Removing the parts you regret
Denying what you know is true
Pretend all you want but the day comes
When life will catch up to you


Salting The Earth

Choking on dust
Gasping for breath
Piles of cinder and ash
Sift through remains
And find nothing left
Give what I get
What I give is...
Get what I give
What I get is...
Nothing
Live life as I'm show
Or life as I choose
An option that's hung like a noose
What I don't surrender
I still seem to lose
Get what I give
What I get is...
Give what I get
What I give is...
I don't give you shit
With nothing to lose
But something to take
I grab all I can
Steal what I can't break
Stripped and clear cut
Stumps rot in the dirt
What's left has no worth
Point of death
No chance of rebirth
The fruit off the vine
Is now what's salting the Earth


No Singalong

Not here for you
It's not your song
Not part of your scene
It's no singalong
We're just square pegs
Who grew some legs
Not part of your scene
But still love Gang Green
We know that kids
Don't care about a song
About life after punk
It's no singalong
We're just square pegs
Who grew some legs
Not playing to peers
But still listen to Poison Idea
Now we're homeowners
With yards and lawnmowers
We "bought in"
Whatever that means
Angry but older
Someone should have told us
The importance of 401ks
Divorces and children
Ass aches and taxes
Are what retired punks go through
You may be laughing
Thinking we're trapped
But the fact is
One day it might be you
Laugh it up, it's the truth
Some might escape it
Most never do
Youth won't last forever
It's sad but true
You'll get old, sad but true


Poor You

We're not playing violins
But you think you've earned them
No one has it easy
You're no different
So don't make it my problem
Life isn't fair
Doesn't mean it's any less fair to you
You nothing special
And it's no one's fault
You can't face up to the fact
You're only problem is you
Everyone faces up to it
The world doesn't spin just for us
Piss and moan about where you're at
If want to point a finger
Then just blame yourself
You like to play the part
But you're no victim


How Far Is "Gone"?

Frantic and scattered
Can't slow down
Brain starts to panic
Can't slow...
Can't concentrate
My mind starts to race
Like I'm on the hunt
But I'm being chased
Deafening noise on a static tv
What's so clear to you
Beats the shit out of me
Won't slow...
Broken connections 
The circuit won't work
A faulty design
Defective since birth
Aimlessly float
A ship with no sail
I don't fail to plan
But plans seem to fail
All the advice I've heard
As hard as I try
I still haven't learned
To escape the fire without being burned


Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Cloudburst




Here's a tasty two track demo, submitted by some of our friends to the north in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Cloudburst play scorching metallic hardcore with a strong emphasis on the hxc end of the spectrum, just the way I like it. I've been told that the scene up there is exploding, and if these pissed off young punx are anything to go by, I'd better get up there soon to see for myself.




Friday, 1 August 2014

Dick Smith



Makeup fx legend Dick Smith has died.

He gave us one of our most terrifying and enduring monsters in Regan/Pazuzu, as well as his groundbreaking and shocking work in dozens of other movies including Scanners, Taxi Driver and Altered States.

Even though he lived to a very respectable 92 years, I'm still saddened by this news. A horror legend is gone.






Sunday, 27 July 2014

HIGH-RISE




Back in 2010 my fifth ever post on the EYE was about the wonderful Vincenzo Natali being attached to direct the long-in-development adaption of J.G. Ballard's High-Rise. To paraphrase myself:

"Our bizarrely evolving relationship with technology and the urban environment is a theme that runs through my favourite Ballard stories (Crash, Concrete Island and High-Rise), and I don't think that the ideas he played with in those novels have dated at all. In fact I think they're more relevant now than when they were written, showing a real prescience to Ballard's vision of where we're headed as a society (it's not optimistic).

It's heartening to know that High-Rise is in the capable hands of an intelligent, independent film-maker. Too many of Philip K. Dick's works have been reduced to dumbed-down action fests, but with first Cronenberg's Crash and now Natali at the helm of High-Rise, Ballard's cinematic legacy will hopefully fare better."

Well, that was over four years ago, the world has moved on and Natali has been off the project for a while now (I'm rooting for him to get his Neuromancer made, a daunting task to say the least). Sometimes things change for the better though, and as much as I love Natali and think he was a good match for High-Rise (there are striking thematic similarities between Ballard's novel and Cube), I think the film has fallen into even more capable hands now.

High-Rise is a distinctly British feeling science fiction novel, and the alienating, sprawling bleakness of Ballard's London has always set it apart from other 1970's dystopias. I suppose it could be transplanted to somewhere like L.A. (with its dehumanising landscape of freeways), but to really do Ballard's novel justice it should be set in the U.K.

With that in mind, the film's current director, Ben Wheatley, is perhaps the perfect choice. Wheatley, whose Down Terrace, Kill List and Sightseers (I have yet to see A Field in England) are all near flawless gems, has a uniquely English vision that seems perfectly suited to tackling '70s era Ballard.




As a filmmaker he seems genuinely interested in exploring the grimy underbelly of modern British society, albeit from some pretty weird perspectives. Whether by accident or not, the three films mentioned above are perfect examples of the social realism of Ken Loach and Mike Leigh spliced onto modern genre cinema. Be it crime, horror or black comedy, Wheatley has so far managed to effortlessly combine "kitchen sink realism" with whatever genre he sees fit.

This time around he's shifting his gaze from the struggles of the working class to that oldest and most British of conflicts: class war. There is no real proletariat living in the luxurious 40 story apartment complex of the novel, but as things start falling apart the residents quickly find themselves divided into lower, middle and upper classes... whether by choice or not. I can't wait to see how Wheatley handles this incendiary material. Will it remain rooted in naturalistic realism like his previous movies, or will it take a more mythical approach like the similarly themed (and fucking brilliant) Snowpiercer? It's also going to be really interesting to see what Wheatley does with a big budget.

Wheatley isn't the only interesting person involved with High-Rise though. The project has been patiently shepherded for over three decades by one of the most interesting producers in the business, Jeremy Thomas. I saw Thomas speak at length a couple of years ago, and he is that rarest of rare commodities among producers: a man who is genuinely passionate about leaving behind a legacy of art. Without him we might not have some of the more challenging movies from the likes of Nicolas Roeg, David Cronenberg, Bernardo Bertolucci, Jonathan Glazer, Wim Wenders, Richard Linklater, Harmony Korine, Takashi Miike and Jim Jarmusch. Seriously check out this guy's filmography, it's incredible. As far as Ballard is concerned, he was behind Cronenberg's Crash, and back in the '70s almost brought High-Rise to the big screen under the direction of Nicolas Roeg.

With a great cast that includes Tom Hiddleston, Elisabeth Moss and Jeremy Irons, High-Rise is set to blow minds when it finally hits next year. Filming began earlier this month in Belfast, Northern Ireland.




Saturday, 26 July 2014

Death Rattled




That handsome fellow up there is Rocky.

He's a 16yo dingo X kelpie who came into my life 10 years ago (along with his owner, my long-suffering and awesome girlfriend Bowie). Rocky's passions include: farting, trying to hump tiny pugs while their owners look on in horror, peanuts, gorging on fresh possum entrails and blankly staring off into space like the dog from The Thing.

The other one in the photo is Rocky's servant, AKA me.

Aaron, of the consistently amazing DEATH RATTLE blog, recently asked me 13 questions to which I happily replied. Have a read HERE


Wednesday, 23 July 2014

OBLIVIONATION Language of Violence




It seems like forever ago that Oblivionation unleashed that nuclear bomb of a demo on the world. It's been a long time coming (hassles with inept pressing plants not helping), but their first album - Language of Violence - is finally out. Of course it was worth the wait. Ten tracks of stripped back, raging Massachusetts hardcore in the spirit of Out Cold (meaning that like Out Cold before them, these guys are committed to doing it their way - ignoring trends and seemingly not giving a fuck if that relegates them to the fringes of the scene*). Hardcore should always be challenging, raw, urgent and personal. It's so disappointing when you can tell it's being faked. Oblivionation don't fake it.

The boys have put the album up for eight dollar digital download right here. You can also get their ripping Cult of Culture EP for a mere €1.50 from Hardware records' bandcamp page here.

Well, what are you waiting for punk? Have at it!

*to quote Barry Henssler - "scene as in still life, scene as in soap opera".

Sunday, 6 July 2014

LAST CHAOS


photo by Lee Stefen

Brisbane's Last Chaos play mean-as-fuck, primitive hardcore dripping with reverbed out vocals that seethe menacingly under an absolutely scorching guitar attack. Heard live, those guitars sound like a giant buzz saw revved up to the point of shattering into a wall of hot shrapnel. All of which is headed straight at your tortured ear holes. 

A couple of weeks ago, these Queenslanders killed it here in Sydney at the above pictured show with the equally amazing Canine and Thorax. Honestly don't know if I'll see a better one this year (although the Adolescents kind of blew my mind a couple of nights ago). Here's their demo, 7" and split with Vaarallinen at




Wednesday, 2 July 2014

INTERZONE DISPATCHES: Report #3



"I had a very disturbing dream last night. In this dream I found myself making love to a strange man. Only I'm having trouble you see, because he's old... and dying... and he smells bad, and I find him repulsive. But then he tells me that everything is erotic, that everything is sexual. You know what I mean? He tells me that even old flesh is erotic flesh. That disease is the love of two alien kinds of creatures for each other. That even dying is an act of eroticism. That talking is sexual. That breathing is sexual. That even to physically exist is sexual. And I believe him, and we make love beautifully."


Oh. You're back. That's a shame. You have my sympathy... but let's face facts, you knew exactly what you were getting yourself into when you voluntarily exposed yourself to the Cronenberg Signal. You thought the tumor had gone away? That you were in remission? Poor, naive fool. I'm afraid that your neoplasm has metastasized again. No, not to other organs. It's too late to salvage any of that. Way too late. Your Flesh was corrupted long ago, decayed beyond repair. Beyond recognition. No, I'm afraid the disease is done with your Flesh, and the way that it's metastasizing now is more destructive than ever.

You see, it appears to have spread to your thoughts now.

The trick is not to think of it as dying. Just try to think of it as a kind of transformation. I'm sorry, what was that? Will it hurt? Oh, yes. Yes I'm afraid it will.




My first Dispatch in four years can mean only one thing. Some new celluloid Flesh from David Cronenberg. This short, entitled The Nest and featuring the auteur himself as a deranged surgeon, was created as a tie-in to his new novel Consumed, and it's classic body horror era Cronenberg. 

All the elements are present: corrupted science, sexual parasites, coldly detached eroticism, insects and disease. A cool little throwback to the director's horror roots as we await the release of his next feature, Maps to the Stars.



Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Strange Shapes




There's been a link on my blogroll for a few years now called Strange Shapes, and it just so happens to be the most exceptional Alien blog on the web. If you're an Alien fan and you haven't discovered it yet you need to do yourself a favour and go there now.

Strange Shapes is owned and written by one Valaquen, a Scottish Alien fanatic and Xenomorph scholar par excellence. This guy's knowledge of the Alien universe, both in front of and behind the camera, is vast and frankly, a little intimidating. I've been in love with Ridley Scott's movie for 35 years now, but reading Strange Shapes can make me feel like a lightweight.

So whilst scrolling through Bloody Disgusting today I was blown away to find a link to a behind the scenes gallery "curated" by Valaquen. And fuck me, what a gallery it is. I'm always on the lookout for rare Alien pics that I haven't seen before, and this gallery is a goldmine.

Of the 245 images he's posted there must be at least 50 that I've either never seen before or haven't seen for years. Some of the coolest are below, but you should really check out the whole gallery here.


killer promo shot of the Nostromo crew


a nice look at Giger's handywork

HRG with his designs for Jodorowsky's unrealised Dune 

 on the Space Jockey set

 working on the Jockey

with Dan O'Bannon

O'Bannon with Chris Foss

and on the Nostromo's bridge

 closeup of the unused full sized prop for Kane's burial shroud

 William Hurt

Veronica Cartwright

 together on the bridge

 Harry Dean Stanton looking cool

and Yaphet Kotto looking even cooler

Kotto contemplating Parker's fate

Parker and Lambert dead

this appears to be an effects test for Parker's gory demise

Sigourney Weaver looking badass and beautiful during a promo shoot

and posing with a Jones that looks suspiciously unlike the Jones seen in the movie

Weaver and Stanton

 the Narcissus on a workbench with raided model kits in the background

 an amazing look at the underside of the Nostromo coming in to land on LV-426 that was rejected by Ridley Scott. I wish they'd stuck with this one because the final effect seen in the movie is by far the weakest in the film

the Nostromo model on the planetoid set

another angle

and finally, a good look at the detail and texture of the derelict model