Monday, June 30, 2008

Review: "L. Save The World"

I am not the world's biggest Anime fan, nor am I the biggest Manga fan. It's not that I hate either medium, I just never really got "it" until a few years ago. Even then, I really only got into it because of the Live Action films they spawned (the exception to that rule would be the Beck Anime). I suppose you could say my appreciation for all things Anime and Manga were due to me being "Backwards Compatible". Battle Royale, Shimotsuma Monogatari (Kamikaze Girls), Cutie Honey and even Cromartie High School were all seen by me as a live action movie before I experienced the Anime or Manga (and in the case of Battle Royale, a translation of the original source novel).The same thing happened to me with Death Note. A good friend of mine clued me in on the Death Note Anime which, of course, began as a Manga, but I ended up seeing the first two films (Death Note and Death Note: The Last Name) prior to either. Of course, my friend was correct and I ended up wholly embracing the Death Note stories.

One of the most appealing things about the whole Death Note experience is it's wonderful cast of characters. From the Kira's Light and Misa to the Sinigami's Rem and Ryuk, the characterizations in Death Note are a big reason behind it's success in Japan and abroad. Of course, the most popular character in the Death Note universe is, arguably, the master detective known as L. Although L sacrifices himself at the end of the second Death Note film, the character's popularity is so great that he warranted his own spin off film.

Directed by Hideo Nakata, L. Save The World, is a fine solid action film that touches on both Death Note mythology (although the actual Death Note is merely a cursory part of the story) and (most surprisingly) Hideo's own screen adaptation of RING. L. Save The World starts around the same time Death Note: The Last Name is wrapping up. All of the characters from the first two films are given brief face time to tie the film into the last one and elicit a smile or two from Death Note fans. You see, in the previous film, L had written his own name in the Death Note in order to flush out the mysterious Kira. The mission was accomplished, but it left L with only 23 days to live. This film deals with L's final days and the one last mystery he has to solve before his self imposed death.

The last mystery involves an Ebola virus spliced and mutated to an influenza virus that Eco terrorists are planning to use to thin out the human race and set the Earth's ecology back on track. As the film opens, the virus has already ravaged a small village in Thailand. There in Thailand, another super detective, F, discovers both the diabolical plan and a little boy who seems impervious to the virus. The boy winds up in the custody of L, as does the daughter of a scientist who sacrifices himself to stop the spread of said virus. From there it's L and the children on a race against time to find an antidote to the virus and to stop the Eco terrorists from going through with their plan.

As Director Hideo demonstrated brilliantly in RING, he is a master of the "Race Against Time" plot line. L's race against time to solve the one final mystery directly parallels Asakawa and Ryuji's race to save their son from certain death in 7 days. The big difference here, and one that works in favor of L. Save The world, is L knows his time is limited and nothing can be done about it. The protagonists in RING are living on a hope that they'll all get a reprieve if they solve the mystery. L knows there's no hope left in his surviving past what was written in the Death Note. He's solving the mystery and saving the world just because that's what he does. Another, albeit tenuous, RING connection is this film is to the other Death Note movies what Spiral and Loop are to the RING novel. It's an extension of the storyline, but it doesn't actually continue the storyline. I personally like that approach very much. Having yet another Shinigami show up with a black book wouldn't have cut it for me. I also surprised myself by liking the direct line made between Terrorists and Serial Killers. Usually observations like that in Cinema can come off as extremely preachy. Here, however, the approach was very much of a, "Here it is, absorb it or reject it" type of commentary. The film is full of nice, non condescending touches like that.

Ken'ichi Matsuyama (L) is the undisputed selling point of this movie. His portrayl of L is the film's complete raison d'ĂȘtre and, thankfully, he doesn't disappoint here. All of the mannerisms and quirks that endeared audiences to the Live Action edition of L are all in place. His scenes with the children are nothing short of precious and worth the price of admission alone. His realisation that he's not a very good babysitter since, genius notwithstanding, he's not much more than a child himself is priceless. There are also some expansions of the L character, including a scene where, emotionally exhausted after finishing up all of his open cases on record, we actually see him asleep. He also does the action scenes very well, introducing a physicality to the character while never breaking the L character.

Some may roll their eyes at the overblown action finale (including an intentional (?) homage to Airplane!), but I dug it. It's one of those films where, either you go for the entire ride, or you walk away. The film never gets too, too serious and the sense of fun is always there. On the downside, the intellectual cat and mouse games that dominated the first two Death Note movies are all but gone here. It's a different kind of movie, though. I'd surely love to see more L films; earlier cases and mysteries he may have solved prior to the Death Note case.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

When The Terror Died

I first published this essay on my MySpace blog on the 5th of February, 2005. I feel the need to reprint it here, since I think it bears reprinting; especially in the post SAW & Hostel era. I'll probably come off as an old fogey, but you know whay? I am an old fogey... at least in this context. Read on, true believers:

When the Terror Died

Current mood: Surly

I was born in 1969. That was a pretty good year, I gather. The Beatles were still together, Man landed on the moon and Night of the Living Dead was still playing theatres and delivering the goods as the first important modern horror film (arguably, of course).

I am now a Horror fan and I have been for about 28 years. I wasn't born a horror fan; I had two considerably older brothers that took care of that. I was so terrified of just about EVERYTHING, thanks to them, when I was a toddler that I can't believe I made it this long without therapy. In my earliest years, I couldn't even hear the theme to Chiller Theatre without running, screaming into the next room. Thanks for that, bros. Of course, all of that eventually changed. Around 1977 / 1978, in the midst of the big Star Wars mega hoopla, I discovered my oldest brother's Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine. I wouldn't have even picked it up if not for the picture of Darth Vader on the cover. I leafed through slowly, cautiously as each page revealed something even more fantastic and grotesque than the last page. That magazine... and a few Godzilla movies later, and I was a bona fide Horror / Monster movie fanatic.

About this time, a movie was released that was made not far from where I live. Dawn of the Dead was everywhere in Pittsburgh. The city was proud of the movie and rightly so. I was a little uneasy about the poster: a half rotted head of a zombie rising up over the landscape like a horrific sun, with eyes burning straight through me. I was also a little shocked by the TV ads. I remember it well. I was watching Blackula on WPGH's 11:00 Saturday night movie. The movie was a bit hokey, but fun. When the first commercial break came, the first commercial was an ad for "Dawn...". There wasn't much to it; just an animated version of the poster graphic with Adolf Caesar's creepy voice intoning that, "Dawn of the Dead is here!" and a shot of zombies rushing towards the camera through an elevator. Wow. That was strong stuff for a 9 year old. I was also intrigued by the fact that the film was not rated. Being that the MPAA's rating system was established in 1968, I had no idea hat a film could be unrated. EVERY film I ever saw in a theatre had a rating. The mind boggled.

Even though I didn't see "Dawn..." until the mid 1980's, I knew by reputation that it was an extremely graphic film. I even saw in an issue of Fantastic Films magazine (god, I miss that rag), a frame by frame collection of stills detailing the bursting of someone's head via shotgun. It blew my mind as much as the victim's. Then there was Halloween. Not a gory film, but seminal. Everyone talked about that one. Alien followed in 1979, then Friday the 13th in 1980... by then there was this unholy glut of slasher films, Italian zombie films, sci-fi gore movies, you name it. If blood could be put anywhere in a movie, it would be. A new magazine came along to cover it, too. It was from the makers of Starlog magazine. Starlog was a magazine for Sci-fi geeks. Fangoria was for Horror aficionados. What's really the distinction? Sci-fi geeks had their own little world created for them. Thanks to the Star Wars merchandising strategies, it became essential to consume anything that had it's name on it: Action Figures, lunch boxes, models, playsets, etc. Horror fans didn't really have anything like that (at least not since the mid 1960's). The main reason was as such. Studios making Sci-fi movies were big budget, for the most part and Sci-fi movies in of themselves were a family friendly genre. Modern Horror films, on the other hand, were for (demented) adults, presumably, and there was no room for merchandising. Sure "Dawn..." had a posterbook and a role playing game, but there were no dolls, or Monroeville Mall playsets.

Let me pause here and refine the subject of this blog. The reason for this rant stems from a video I watched the other night. It was a 1986 VHS of Fangoria's Weekend of Horrors. It wasn't a video I had seen in the past. It always sat on the Video Store shelf, but my 17 year old self really had no use for a documentary about a convention. I was a devoted reader of Fangoria, and I was until 1992, but I wasn't into conventions and the whole thing just left me totally uninterested. Watching this tape now, however, is pretty essential. What was a mish mash of convention goings on mixed with promo reels and shameless huckstering on the part of Media home entertainment now appears to be a time capsule of a turning point in American entertainment.

Yes, friends, this tape is the key. It tells us the exact moment the Modern Horror movie died. It died at this convention and the disease was a movie. the movie? A Nightmare on Elm Street.
Now, before you get your panties in a bunch. I have the utmost respect for ANOES (which it will be heretofore referred to). It was a long time favorite of mine and I saw it about a dozen times in it's initial run. Looking back, now, I believe it might have ruined horror forever. The first film in the series was a horror movie, but subsequent films, in the attempt to garner a larger and larger audience, began to leave the horror genre and embrace the genre of fantasy. Freddy Kruger himself went from a relentless bogeyman to an uneasy cross between the Crypt Keeper and Shecky Greene.

The Death Knell:

Right up front, you should know that until the mid 1980's, horror aficionado and Sci-fi geeks stayed with their own. A line was drawn in the sand and one rarely crossed it. Sci-fi geeks didn't like horror aficionado because horror movies were gross and simplistic and catered to the basest of human depravity. Horror aficionado didn't like Sci-fi geeks because they were weirdos that liked to play with dolls and dress up and role play. There was a rift in the cinematic fabric of space. One man brought the two together.

The big attraction at the convention was Robert Englund. Now, Robert Englund wasn't your average Horror movie star. Had Gunnar Hansen or Nick Castle shown up as the main attraction, not a 1/3 of the attendees would have shown. You see, Robert Englund was a horror AND Sci-fi/fantasy star. He played Willie on the NBC television show V. Since the convention was advertised in all of the Starlog publications, the attendees at the convention were split pretty evenly down the middle between Horror aficionado and Sci-fi geeks. The unholy melding begat a new kind of fan: The Horror Movie Geek®.

This beast is frightening in that it loves horror movies, but has the mentality of a Sci-fi geeks consumerism. Lemme tell ya, money doth talk and corporation listen. It wasn't long before ANOES posters, T-shirts and other geeky swag were bursting out from licensing companies. There was much of this swag to be had at the convention. Seems, for the first time, horror film memorabilia was standing shoulder to shoulder with Phasers and Taun Taun busts.

This was also making the bigger studios take notice. About the only thing the Majors had was Paramount's F13 series, and they weren't marketing that very much at all. Now these smaller studios were getting bigger and gaining more muscle. Let us not forget New Line Cinema was originally an acquisition house that played mainly underground and grindhouse fare for College and drive in audiences. Now, with ANOES and it's decedents, it was killing all it's competition on opening weekends. So, of course, the big studios were cranking out carbon copies of the junk the lower budget studios were already watering down for the masses who all of the sudden were embracing the horror genre.

Gone were the visceral thrills and chills of Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Evil Dead. Now we were getting diluted horror that relied more on hallucinogenic imagery and crass one liners spouted be charismatic villains. For the first time in movie history, viewers were vocally cheering for the killer. They were no longer placing themselves in the position of the victim. They were now all for the bad guy... and all thanks to Wes Craven and his bogeyman Fred.
Horror Cinema really hasn't been the same since. Sequels to established genre classics like Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 and Evil Dead 2: Dead By Dawn were going for the laugh rather than the scare. Even original scare flix like H. P. Lovecraft's Re-Animator were funnier than actually unsettling. Drive ins and single screen movie houses were closing and being torn down and turned into parking lots, or worse, mega stores.

Things got worse in the 1990's as smaller studios and acquisition houses were either turning to other venues like Art films, being swallowed up by the major studios, completely unchecked by the anti trust laws of the US Government, or just simply closing down all together. Sure, little straight to video studios were popping up everywhere, but cheap looking video couldn't then, or now, hold a candle to a theatrical film.

Today, New Line Cinema is a major player, owned by Warner Brothers. Even the smaller releasing houses (Dimension, Screen Gems, Rogue) are actually offshoots of the major studios. The films suffer because of it. Everything is made by committee and there is no real room for new, mind leveling ideas. We now go to other countries for that, the true horror aficionados do, at least. Things are bad and they won't get any better. They say the Golden Age is where we are now, but I say in order for an age to become golden, one has to look back on it and filter out the no so good parts. Seems we had a major golden age and the non believers pissed on it. Thieves in the temple, I tell you.

I wish I could come up with a suitable coda to this rant, but I can't. This story really has no end, so I am unable to conclude. I guess I'll just end this one by asking something of you, the reader: Tonight, go into the farthest reaches of your video collection (or video store, if you have an older, not franchised, one available) and find a horror movie, pre 1986. Watch it, all warm and fuzzy with it's bad video transfer and sound drop outs. Don't watch a remastered DVD or VHS. It has to be a tape from the era. Drink it in. Remember how you felt when it was new and you were watching it for the first time. Return to that time. And Smile.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

It's Me Birthday

Yes, yes, yes. It is Lord Shockedelic's 39th. Thank you for all of your kind cards and letters... both of you. Yeah. So. 39. It's kind of a placeholder birthday, y'know? Everyone who has brought up the subject has told me something I hadn't thought of: "One more year until 40!!!" Thanks. Yeah. Not obvious. At all.

So, my 39th has been slow so far. I've forgone the whole cake and cards thing. I'm not one to want too much attention drawn to me. I like a little, but lavishing is overdoing it.

I went shopping for things today; soap, paper towels, stuff that one needs to make it though the day. That's when I saw it. Big Lots must've known it was my birthday, 'cause they got a bunch of Sony and MGM DVDs and priced 'em all at $3.

I bought the following:

  • Art School Confidential (hadn't seen it yet, but wanted to)
  • The Amityville Horror (1979; the remake was there, but no one offered me money to take it)
  • Amityville 2: The Possession (a sick, sick movie... Awesome!!!)
  • The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course (once again, a movie I wanted to see, but haven't yet. Steve Irwin RIP)
  • Burnt Offerings (anyone for a double feature with The Changeling???)
  • The Brood (to replace my Laserdisc that John Beluvich stole back in the 90's. No. I NEVER forget.)
  • Foxy Brown (A classic that's worth much more. But why not Coffy?)
  • The Ghoul (the 1933 Boris Karloff classic!!!!!)
  • The Little Girl Who Lives Down The Lane (Haven't seen it since I was a kid. I've been wanting to revisit it.)
  • The Hound of the Baskervilles (Peter Cook and Dudley Moore. 'Nuff said)
  • The Fall of the House Of Usher (AIP! Vincent Price!)
  • Jack the Giant Killer (the original version, not the musical re-edit. Damn.)
  • Roadie (Meatloaf! Alice Cooper! Kaki Hunter! Blondie! Roy Orbison! Art Carney! Hank Williams, Jr.!)
  • Scanners (because, believe it or not, I didn't have a copy yet)
  • Swamp Thing (Maybe I'll get lucky and it'll be the withdrawn disc with Adrienne Barbeau nudity! Update: Nope! Same old Brief nudity PG version. Doesn't matter. It's DC and Wes Craven's arguable finest hours.)
So, yeah. Lot's of AIP/Filmways, a couple of Cronenbergs, some comedies; A nice haul, don'cha think?

Some I passed over. Killer Klowns From Outer Space ('cause I already own it), John Carpenter's The Fog (might go back for that one), Amityville: The Demon (because I have it on DVD in it's original 3D field Sequential version), Bert I. Gordon's The Magic Sword (might go back for that one, too)... can't remember the others I almost went for. A nice bag of goodies for my 39th.

I'll probably spend the rest of my impending middle age chilling out and watching movies, though maybe not the ones I just bought. I just got two Korean movies that are barking at me to watch, and soon: A Tale of Legendary Libido (a period comedy about a man with an unstoppable erection... shades of Sex & Zen!) and GP506 aka The Guard Post (a military zombie movie).

Lastly, who else has formed a crush on Stephanie Courtney aka Progressive Insurance's spokes lady, FLO? She went from mildly annoying, to strangely attractive to I have to stop everything and watch whenever one of the commercials are on. It's not enough to make me go Progressive, but throw in a date with her and I might change my mind! What am I saying? Stop me!!!!!!

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Shockedelic Radio Show Episode 3:02

The Shockedelic Radio Show
June 15th, 2008 - Episode 3:02
"For Dick, Harvey and Bo"

Click this here link to download this new episode of The Shockedelic Radio Show to your Computer. It's an mp3 file (80 minutes long, about 38 or so megs) that you can transfer to your MP3 Media Player, burn to a CD or just listen on your computer. If you prefer to just have it stream to your computer via WinAmp or Windows Media Player (or whatever streaming player you use), click On this particular link.

Legal stuff:

It's a very litigious society, so please understand that this MP3 Podcast is presented as a radio show promoting new and lesser well known artists. All of the music here is copyrighted and the copyright proprietors retain ownership of the material presented here. No rights are given to the downloader or listener or are implied as such. In short, listen to the show and enjoy it, but don't go dissecting the program. If you hear something you like, track it down and purchase it. Supporting the artist is crucial. Make sure you do your duty.

Wanna subscribe to this on iTunes? Do this:

Open iTunes
Go Advanced > Subscribe to Podcast
Type the following into the Pop Up Box (exactly like this. No Spaces.):

There you go! You'll be in tune with the rest of the Universe now!

Hope you enjoy it.

Update Eratta (6-20-08)!!!: This latest show was produced under some diress. I was getting a cold (which broke badly just hours after the completeion of the show) and my mouth was running on auto pilot. So, there were some errors and faux pas.

Firstly, the opening song was "Harder and Harder" by the Zutons and not "Higher and Higher". Coincidentally (or not!), the Zutons did cover Jackie Wilson's "Higher and Higher" on the vinyl only edition of the "It's the Little Things We Do" single. Maybe, as pennance, I'll spin that one next show. I also said "Hotter and Hotter" was the Title Track from the album "You Can Do Anything"; and absurd claim that makes no sense. I meant to say, "The lead off track on the album "You Can Do Anything".

I also stated that you could get the Love Psychedelico compilation, "This Is Love Psychedelico" from the Hacktone website. For more info on that album, you should actually go to: and you can actually buy the album on iTunes or from or

I keep mispronouncing Anna Tsuchiya's name. Can't help it. I know it's pronounced (in English) as Soo-Chee-Yah, but when I'm talking quickly and not paying attention, I always seem to pronounce her name as Too-She-Yah. I cringe whenever I do it, but I never know I do it until I listen to the show later on. I'll try to untie my toungue better next time.

Lastly (and this is not an error, but a notice), the aftershow bonus track is The Zutons' cover of Christina Aguilera's "Beautiful" from The Jo Whiley Show on the BBC Radio 1, May 23, 2008.