Darkthrone - The Hardship of the Scots (2019) by Joel Goodman

Darkthrone has been making music for almost as long as I’ve been alive, and they’ve dabbled in all kinds of heavy and extreme genres from Death Metal to Crust and of course, Black Metal. The records that Darkthrone released during their black metal era are maybe the most influential of any the genre has ever seen, and provided the soundtrack to the lives of nerds the world over.

Many years ago, back when I had free time (pre-college and pre-fatherhood), I would play board games twice a week in friends living rooms, and A Blaze in the Northern Sky, Under a Funeral Moon, Transilvanian Hunger, and Panzerfaust were permanent fixtures on the turntable while we were playing Descent, Mage Knight, Power Grid, or any other overpriced chunk of cardboard. Those records don’t see much action anymore, but they defined that period of my life.

Darkthrone have churned out a new slab of wax every two or three years since their first album in 1991, and whenever one comes out I make a point to find it and give it a serious listen. This time around, the boys have combined the fruits of their previous experiments in Heavy Metal, Crust, and Black Metal, and the results are very impressive. The album is called Old Star and it’s my favorite of theirs since Transilvanian Hunger. There are zero low points; all killer, no filler. I’ve posted this for your enjoyment. Do yourself a favor if you love heavy music and buy this record.

Movies! The Green Inferno, Under the Silver Lake, and The Inventor by Joel Goodman


The Green Inferno (2014)

2.40/10.0

 
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Eli Roth has a problem. He, like Quentin Tarantino, grew up on grindhouse cinema and was inspired to emulate midnight movies in his own career. But unlike Tarantino, Roth doesn't do anything to elevate exploitation films. He instead takes the worst qualities in those movies and accentuates them while leaving out any nuance or charm, until the only thing left is an ugly emulation of what people who don't know a lot about movies think of when they hear the word "Grindhouse".

In the case of The Green Inferno, he has taken the worst movies of the 70's and 80's (Cannibal Holocaust, Cannibal Ferox, and all of their ilk) and reproduced all of their hallmark ugliness without making an attempt to do anything new and without putting an artistic spin on it. His attempts at humor fall completely flat (specifically the spider scene and the "munchies" scene), so what we have here is a joyless piece of trash. This is the worst horror film I've seen in recent years. I could not wait for it to end. I wish that Eli Roth, who is obviously cinematically literate, would put more thought and effort into his homages to vintage B movies.


Under The Silver Lake (2019)

8.45/10.0

Really interesting film about the sinister and unseen side of Hollywood. Also features subplots about secret codes and hidden meaning in pop culture, and also a plot thread about a dog killer that is almost certainly the main character. This film feels like David Lynch doing Hitchcock, like a psychedelic neo noir. This is one of the most unique and well executed films I've seen in a long time, but I was surprised to find that only half the people who have seen the movie agree with me. The other half seems to have loathed it. Go figure. The film careens from one weird set piece to the next in such a dizzying fashion that the gripes that critics had with this film are almost understandable, but they still miss the point. This movie deserved a wide release but was apparently so divisive that A24, which is normally much better at this kind of stuff, decided to just release it on VOD instead of putting it in art houses where it belonged. I would be remiss if I didn't mention the amazing score that makes this feel even more like a Hitchcock movie.

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The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley

6.20/10.0

Entertaining documentary about a vapid grifter that somehow managed to liberate countless Silicon Valley VCs of their hard earned cash with promises of a product based on impossible science. Recently Elizabeth Holmes has been the subject of numerous books, podcasts, documentaries, and news magazine segments. This doc hits most of the points that all the other media concerning this woman does, and it's well made but feels like it lingers too much on some aspects of the story while leaving out some of the more important/interesting bits, such as Sonny's hostility towards dissent and Holmes' clearly fake-as-all-hell baritone affect. Worth watching if you have HBO.


Chromatics - Kill For Love (2012) by Joel Goodman

It’s hard to believe that it’s already been seven years since this record came out, but here we are. What’s most surprising about that is that this LP has aged extremely well for such a stylized product. There a timelessness to Chromatics that Johnny Jewel’s other projects doesn’t have going on, maybe because of the up-front presence of the guitar and drums, or the ethereal, instantly appealing vocals of Ruth Radlet. Chromatics are equally at home being played in your bedroom or living room as they are at a club, which is more than I can say for some other neo-italo disco groups.

This LP is still the group’s best work. The lone miss on this record is the needless, puzzling inclusion of a cover of Neil Young’s Into The Black. They choose to open the record with it, which is just weird. But that shouldn’t deter you from sticking it out, because the rest of Kill For Love is an amazing, cinematic experience that should be listened to from front to back, in one sitting, as loudly as possible.

Released by Jewel’s Italians Do It Better imprint, this is currently out of print in all physical formats, but the vinyl can be had for somewhat reasonable prices on Discogs.

Movie Snippets by Joel Goodman

In January of 2019, I started keeping a spreadsheet to track the movies I watch. I assign a rating from 0 to 10 (with 5 being the average, or expected value) and write a little snippet with some quick opinions on the film in question. Here, I’ll post a few of those snippets at a time for your enjoyment.


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Good Time (2017)

7.20/10.0

I'll be honest and own up to the fact that even though I've never seen any of the Twilight movies, I've always just taken everyone's word about them and written them off entirely, up to and including the actors involved. After seeing this film, I must admit that I was wrong about Robert Pattinson. He's absolutely amazing in this tight little thriller about NYC, LSD, and a bank robbery gone awry. It’s because of this film that I’m not completely skeptical of his ability to do Batman justice. But I'm still never gonna watch a Twilight movie.


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Action Point (2018)

3.95/10.0

Based on an actual NJ amusement park that was around in the 70s and 80s. The real life story that inspired the movie would have made for a great film in the right hands, but instead we get this Johnny Knoxville/Jackass vehicle. My biggest gripe is that I never felt like Action Point was a real place inhabited by real people. Instead we have what appears to be a random collection of props haphazardly arranged in a southern California backlot and characters pulled straight from an 80's ski movie (the nerd, the bully, the stoner, etc.) Someone else should take another crack at the story of Action Park because it’s amazing. In the mean time you can read the many accounts of what it was really like on the internet.


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Dressed To Kill (1982)

8.35/10.0

De Palma's ode to the Italian Giallo movies of the 60's and 70's. This is a very good approximation of the genre, save the absence of the funk or prog rock soundtrack. It's insane, sleazy and undeniably fun even if it’s what we would probably call "problematic" in 2019. They just don't make them like this anymore because well, they can't make movies like this anymore. Nancy Allen was nominated for a Razzie, which feels weird because she's actually very good here. I like to consider this movie an unofficial companion piece to Body Double.

The Yellow Balloon - Yellow Balloon (1967) by Joel Goodman

The Yellow Balloon was a prefabricated sunshine pop band put together in 1967 by producer and songwriter Gary Zekley. This band is perhaps most famous for employing the drumming capabilities of Don Grady, better known for starring alongside Fred McMurray in My Three Sons. Determined to make it as a musician on his own merits, Grady went by aliases and donned wigs and dark glasses in an attempt to conceal his identity.

Perhaps the added notoriety could would’ve been a good thing, because The Yellow Balloon released just one record in their short life, an insanely catchy self-titled LP that quickly went out of print but was reissued by Sundazed in 1996. It looks like the vinyl isn’t offered anymore, but if you’re keen on CDs they still have ‘em. Otherwise, you can buy digital.

Interesting note: according to Wikipedia, Daryl Dragon from Captain and Tennille (and brother of Surf Punk Dennis Dragon) was also in this band at some point, presumably playing keys.

Movie Snippets by Joel Goodman

In January of 2019, I started keeping a spreadsheet to track the movies I watch. I assign a rating from 0 to 10 (with 5 being the average, or expected value) and write a little snippet with some quick opinions on the film in question. Here, I’ll post a few of those snippets at a time for your enjoyment.


Blood and Black Lace (1964)

7.95/10.0

The movie that invented the Giallo genre, black gloves and all. It also influenced every notable filmmaker (especially the Italian ones) for 50 years. Off-the-charts amazing photography and production design. Bava’s use of primary colors was way ahead of its time. What would Suspiria (1977) look like without Blood and Black Lace? Probably alot more like Suspiria (2018). Watch this movie however you can (it’s on Amazon Prime if you don’t want to buy the Blu Ray), but be prepared for a sub-optimal experience because a good transfer doesn't exist yet in the digital era. This movie is ready for a restoration.

Cameron Mitchell costars, which is hilarious.

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Suspiria (1977)

8.50/10.0

Critics and bloggers are always referring to this movie with some variation on the phrase "candy-colored nightmare", which is understandable since it’s just about the most apt description of Suspiria that I can think of. Argento's best movie (or is that Deep Red?) stars Jessica Harper in a role that she passed up the title role in Annie Hall for. Pretty crazy, right? Just chew on that for a second. Anyhow, the murder scene that opens this film up is one of the most over-the-top, brutal things ever committed to celluloid and sets the tone for the best Italian horror flick of the late 70's. This film is an atmospheric horror classic that drips with style (which makes up for the fairly thin story) and it must be seen by all genre afficianados. The "remake" from 2018 is also very good but very different to the point that it's almost unrelated. Trivia: Suspiria is the last film to be shot on Technicolor.


Suspiria (2018)

8.70/10.0

This isn’t a remake at all, more like a retooling. It hits some of the same beats as the 1977 classic and keeps the same setting, but the story is much more thoroughly fleshed out and Suzie’s role is very different. Additionally, Argento’s flashy primary colors have been traded for muted earthy tones and the rock score is replaced with something more moody and traditional.

None of this is bad in the least, in fact it’s an altogether better film than the original. Is it as memorable? Will it become a classic in the same way Argento’s movie did? The answer to both of those questions is no. What I can say is that there’s nothing else quite like it. Maybe it’s the first art house occult horror movie? Either way, it’s a great film.

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FILMMAKER - Crepuscular (2018) by Joel Goodman

Pretty cool atmospheric post-punky electro from Colombia of all places. Filmmaker throws analog drum machines and synths, delay-drenched guitar, and 8-bit sounds all into a blender and what comes out is pretty fucking tasty. They have 7 releases to date, and they’re all available for a pittance on their bandcamp. Honestly, I would have felt good about posting any of their records (they’re all good) but I picked this one because the cover art (which I assume is done by the band themselves) reminds me of the NES game Shadowgate.

Movie Snippets by Joel Goodman

In January of 2019, I started keeping a spreadsheet to track the movies I watch. I assign a rating from 0 to 10 (with 5 being the average, or expected value) and write a little snippet with some quick opinions on the film in question. Here, I’ll post a few of those snippets at a time for your enjoyment.


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Deadwood: The Movie (2019)

8.90/10.0

This marks the end of HBO's best series that isn't the Sopranos. Set ten years after the show's third and final season, this film ostensibly chronicles the assassination of Charlie Utter at the hands of George Hearst and all the drama that follows, but it's true raison d'être is to give us fans the closure we've been denied for the past 13 years. All the characters that were alive at the end of the show make an appearance and we get to see the conclusion to all of their stories. It lives up to the show's standard of excellence, but when the credits roll it's hard to shake the feeling that there should be another 10 or 11 episodes left to watch. Nevertheless, superb movie.


It (2017)

6.65/10.0

I recently watched this at home in my living room and it definitely wasn’t as fun as it was in the theater. That said, I must admit that this is a pretty entertaining flick, and much better than the TV miniseries from the 90s. "That scene" from the book was (mercifully) omitted. No really what I would call "high cinema", but it is never boring and the Swedish feller that plays Pennywise is really good.

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The Dirt (2019)

3.30/10.0

Based on the book of the same name, which is an oral history of Mötley Crüe. When the book came out, everyone I knew made the trip down to Powell's Books to pick it up and it's all everyone talked about for weeks. Sadly, nobody will do the same for the adaptation. This movie sucks. It's got the worst acting I've seen so far in 2019, perhaps with the exception of Gotti but it gets pretty close. Netflix could have put more money into this movie and gotten a better script and better actors but they didn't and the product shows it. It's not even that entertaining. At least Gotti was entertaining.

Hot Snakes - Jericho Sirens (2018) by Joel Goodman

This is a full stream of the Hot Snakes latest offering, courtesy of Sub Pop itself. There was quite a lot of excitement leading up to the release of this album and thankfully it didn’t disappoint. Hot Snakes’ records have gotten progressively better and better since releasing their first album Automatic Midnight in 2000, and with Jericho Sirens they have matched, if not improved upon their previous record (2004’s Audit in Progress.)

Standout tracks include Six Wave Hold Down, Psychoactive, and my favorite track (and maybe my favorite Hot Snakes song, period) Death Camp Fantasy.

MIttageisen - Neues China (1983) by Joel Goodman

This track opens the eighth volume of A Tribute to FlexiPop, which was a series of compilations released on CDr in the 2000’s that paid tribute to the 80s magazine that bundled each issue with a flexi disc loaded with awesome new wave and electro music. These tribute comps somehow made their way to record stores in Portland, where I was living at the time. I recall eagerly snatching up any volume I could find. My physical copies are lost to time but most of what was on them is easy to find on YouTube. I recently tried to track some of these discs down on Discogs, but they’re blocked for sale for some reason. It would be amazing to see a vinyl release of this stuff. In the mean time, YouTube will have to do.

Movie Snippets by Joel Goodman

In January of 2019, I started keeping a spreadsheet to track the movies I watch. I assign a rating from 0 to 10 (with 5 being the average, or expected value) and write a little snippet with some quick opinions on the film in question. Here, I’ll post a few of those snippets at a time for your enjoyment.


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Gotti (2018)

2.50/10.0

Hoo boy, now this is a really bad movie. Like, unbelievably bad. Imagine a garbage truck, loaded to capacity with soiled adult diapers, that has been set on fire and whose brakes have failed. This is the cinematic equivalent of that. Everything about it is bad, but the acting and script are the worst of the year. It's verges on, and at times crosses over into "so bad it's good" territory. It feels at times that this movie might be a prank on all of us; that the possibility exists that this is some kind of postmodern masterpiece that is really laughing at us even as we laugh at it. A hard movie to rate; this is either a 2.5 or a 9.5. I'll go with the former.


Black Rain (1989)

4.95/10.0

Just look at the poster. Look at it.

Michael Douglas's mullet stars in a dated police thriller-cum-fish out of water movie that actually has some very impressive cinematography and neat set pieces, but whose story is contrived and performances are just about a shallow as they come. Andy Garcia is especially flat. I mean, you hardly notice he's even there before he's beheaded and his death motivates everything Michael Douglas and his mullet do in the last half of the movie. Cocaine was definitely involved in every step of the process during the making this film. Bookended by two very, very bad 80's radio rock jams.

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Nightbreed (1990)

8.65/10.0

I get funny looks when I tell people that this is one of my favorite movies, but I really think this is an amazing film. It’s a deeply misunderstood dark fantasy/horror masterpiece that has never quite gotten the respect it deserves. This is the best thing Clive Barker has ever done and he'll probably never match it. The 90s being what they were, the studio reportedly demanded Barker include a real slasher-style villain (played by none other than David Cronenberg!) and cut the film by something like 30 minutes. As it turns out, the former was a blessing in disguise and the latter was only temporary, as a director's cut was released in the 2010's after floating around on VHS bootlegs for nearly 20 years. Both cuts are great (although the longer cut is better by a mile), and this movie is a must-see.

The Lavender Flu - My Time (2016) and Vacuum Creature (2016) by Joel Goodman

Those of us lucky enough to have been in Portland in the early 2000’s have a lot to be grateful for. We had something of a renaissance going on there for a minute, with amazing bands like Fireballs of Freedom, The Exploding Hearts, Junior’s Gang, and The Hunches playing what seemed like every night at one of the many smoky and sticky-floored bars and clubs that made up Portland’s punk rock circuit. We had a little of everything from the punk and punk-adjacent spectrum of genres, from power pop to garage rock to New Wave and literally everything in between. And the best part was that is was all good. Every band seemed to be musically literate to a ridiculous degree, and capable of and willing to break new creative ground and take chances.

Perhaps no other band embodied that trail blazing spirit more than The Hunches, who put out three flawless LPs and a handful of 7”s in their all-too-brief tenure. The Hunches were always the best band on the bill, no matter who was playing. To me, the best memories of first five years of the new millennium will always include watching The Hunches play Dance Alone on the second floor of Billy Ray’s on a Friday night. After they split up, the four members of the Hunches spent the following years starting bands such as Phantom Lights, Sleeping Beauties, and the subject of this post, The Lavender Flu.

The Lavender Flu is the brainchild of guitarist and vacuum cleaner player Chris Gunn. It’s as interesting and listenable as you’d expect from the guy that wrote The Hunches music, and maybe even more varied than you’d think going in. Gunn covers all sorts of ground with his new band, from indie rock to kraut-rockish psychedelia, and somehow manages to make it all sound fairly cohesive. The debut double LP from this band was released in 2016, and I’m posting two songs off that here. The first is a Bo & The Weevils cover and the second is an experimental, spacey original that sounds like two different Eno songs played simultaneously.

Norma Fraser - The First Cut is the Deepest (1967) by Joel Goodman

The best version of this Cat Stevens-penned song wasn’t Rod Stewart’s, and it definitely wasn’t Sheryl Crow’s. That honor belongs to Norma Fraser, who recorded it for the legendary Studio One label (AKA the Motown of Jamaica) in 1967. This has made it to a whole heap of compilations through the years, most notably the Studio One Soul comp issued by Soul Jazz Records. Soul Jazz was cool enough to upload a playlist of most of the tracks on that record, so don’t stop with this tune.

Futurisk - Army Now (1982) by Joel Goodman

Synth punk will now and forever be one of my favorite sub-genres of music, and I think this is one of the better examples of it. It’s not one of the best known examples, which is a shame. Futurisk was a short lived but very good band whose only LP saw a reissue a few years ago. Copies of Player Piano go for about $45.00 on Discogs, and it’s worth every penny in my opinion. If that’s too rich for your blood, you can get it on iTunes as well. This jam is my favorite of theirs (my three week old son seems to like it too), but you should do yourself a favor and give a listen to everything these Floridians did, because it’s all good.

Movie Snippets by Joel Goodman

In January of 2019, I started keeping a spreadsheet to track the movies I watch. I assign a rating from 0 to 10 (with 5 being the average, or expected value) and write a little snippet with some quick opinions on the film in question. Here, I’ll post a few of those snippets at a time for your enjoyment.


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The Nun (2019)

3.85/10.0

Boring cornball of a horror flick that leans on jump scares and "creepy" halloween store mise en scène. This takes place in the same universe as the Conjuring movies, which although not perfect are generally above average mainstream horror films. This one, however, leaves the fog machine turned on a little too long and uses one too many pairs of white contacts for me to be able to recommend it.


Tales From the Crypt (1972)

6.25/10.0

Entertaining anthology film produced by Amicus and starring Peter Cushing as the Crypt Keeper. I’m a sucker for Amicus and Hammer horror films, and this is right up my alley. The first story is a fast paced Christmas story about an escaped mental patient dressed up as Santa Claus stalking Joan Collins and just might be my favorite Christmas horror story. It also predates Silent Night, Deadly Night by 10 years, and is much more effective. The other stories are also very good. Based on the same EC Comics as the Tales From the Crypt of the 90's.

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The Legend of Cocaine Island (2019)

7.5/10.0

Fairly well produced documentary that resembles the work of Errol Morris. Basically a story about a tobacco chewing Floridian that got his hands on the location of $2,000,000 worth of cocaine and set off to find it. It's funny and well made and the characters are absolutely unforgettable. It's worth your time if you've got Netflix and you have the 90 some-odd minutes to kill.