A blog about my favourite movies, music, and TV.

18 August 2009

Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus (2009)

The wait is finally over, Megashark vs Giant Octopus has finally hit the direct to video and 'On Demand' market in the UK! The internet buzz sourounding this z-grade monster movie has been quite impressive - the trailer has had over 1.6m views on YouTube. Deborah Gibson stars as a scientist (yes, Debbie Gibson, acting!) who stumbles accross a giant shark while trawling around the ocean in her dodgy CGI submarine. The authorities deny it's very existence and only Debbie, a Japanese guy, and Lorenzo Lamas can save the world from the true horror of Megashark! But it doesn't end there, recently thawed out from the dawn of time is Mega Shark's nemesis - Giant Octopus, oh yes - it's on!

This movie is horrendous, there's no two ways about it. From the terrible script, to the hideously dated special effects, and the awful awful acting! But somehow Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus works on a bad b-movie level. It's entertaining, it's funny - check out the scene where megashark takes out an airbus, and it doesn't outstay it's welcome. Plus, it has Debbie Gibson in it!

12 August 2009

Wendy Williams

Thanks to my favourite TV clip show, The Soup (Monday evenings on E!) I have become re-acquainted with the great Wendy Williams, who famously did that car crash radio interview with Whitney a few years back. Well, Wendy has her own talk show now and I am pleased to find out that it is an absolute train wreck from start to finish! From her trademark catchphrase "How you doin'?" To her inability to even read her lines, The Wendy Williams Show is fastly becoming a Youtube addiction of mine!

Poor Wendy! I love her approach to TV presenting! I particularly love her cue cards! Not to mention her scratching her wig all the time! Check out this brilliant interview - bitch fight alert! I dig the theme tune too. I pray that some low rent channel picks up this gem over here - Diva TV I'm talking to you. I for one wouldn't miss it for the world.

Wendy's wigs are legendary....

New York New York (1977)

Last week I finally got around to watching my New York New York DVD, starring Liza Minnelli and Robert DeNiro, and directed by Martin Scorsese. I think the movie is best known for Liza's theme tune, which has gone on to be one of her signature hits and live favourites.

Liza stars as Francine, a singer, who meets Jimmy (DeNiro) a brash saxophonist at a party at the end of the war. The two fall in love and eventually form their own band. However, Francine's star soon outshines Jimmy's and their relationship breaks down. All accompanied by some great musical numbers and some stunning direction. What the movie does lack though, is a plot with enough substance to make warrant the 132 minute running time (I couldn't handle the Director's Cut!!). I got a bit bored I'll admit it. Yes, I know this stars Liza Minnelli! What is wrong with me?

All in all I just felt it could have been a lot better and some of the comedy elements were a bit patchy. Still, I think it's worth a watch, if only for the performances where are decent throughout.

08 August 2009

Hellraiser (1987)

This is my first ever Blu Ray review! Yes, I have joined 2007! 1987's Hellraiser is one movie that certainly needed a bit of an overhaul, I remember buying a budget release of it when I first got a DVD player and it looked abysmal! The print was faded, dirty, and completely let down the whole movie. Fast-forward 6 years (or so) and here it is all polished up and looking fantastic! Full colours, great sound, it looks like new!

If you've never seen it, it's about a middle age couple, Larry and Julia who move into Larry's childhood home, Larry's brother Frank has also been there and opened the door to another dimension where pleasure and pain are synonymous and the kinky Pinhead and his fellow Cenobites spend eternity torturing curious perverts in all manner of twisted (and painful!) ways. Frank escapes and enlists Julia to help him regenerate his body which has been torn apart by the Cenobites.

(picture from SD version)

I loved watching this again, perhaps more so than ever before because it's been cleaned up so well. There is some grain on the picture which is evident in the scenes that rely on back lighting, especially the scenes in the loft of the house, but it's still extremely well done. The the gore is especially sharp and vile! Some of the effects are a bit past it, but I think that adds a certain camp appeal, and lets not forget this was made in 1986 for New World Pictures, the then home of cheap movies!

Speaking of which, there are distinct hints of melodrama scattered throughout the movie, mostly involving the character of Julia who is just is fantastic. Masterfully portrayed by Clare Higgins, who gives what must be one of 80's horror's best performances. It's great to see such a complex character in a movie like this, and don't even get me started on the outfits! Think high-end 80's department store, which really helps the movie stay fresh as people still wear that stuff, her bouffant mullet and pink eyeshadow are a dead giveaway though.

Anyone with an interest in horror should check this out. It's also an excellent example of how effective a small budget can be. With decent actors and an original concept Hellraiser really raised the bar. I thoroughly recommend it. I can't wait for Hellbound: Hellraiser II to make it's Blu Ray debut, I haven't seen it for years! I can't remember much about the other sequels, but I think I've seen most of them over the years, a remake is currently in the works.

Special features are apparently from a recent DVD release, but are quite interesting if you don't know anything about the movies.

03 August 2009

Melba Moore - I'm In Love (1988)

Melba's 1988 LP kicks off with Love and Kisses, a mid-tempo track which is only really saved by the sparkly production and Melba's excellent vocals, it's all a bit throwaway for my liking...

I'm In Love is up next, a slow jam duet with Kashif, who also wrote, produced and played all the instruments on this track. It's quite a nice one, the vocals are lovely. I can almost smell the satin sheets and incense sticks, this just reeks of 80's love.

I should say at this point that the artwork for this LP is just lovely from Melba's oversize black jacket with diamante pin-stripes to her pearl accessories, and her fetching gold sequin dress on the inside, perfectly complimented with a single gold ear-thing! Looks like she robbed Lt Uhura's wardrobe for that one.

Love Always Finds A Way To Your Heart is kind of weak, but the chorus is lovely, and again it's really the vocals that make it, from the soft cooing on the verses to her trademark wail, just lovely!

I Can't Complain with Freddie Jackson is next, and however good they sound they can't save this from snoozeville. I'm starting to think someone should've sent Melba to Full Force at this point, this and the following track I Don't Know No One Else To Turn to are both with producer Gene McFadden, I don't like them. I've just noticed that Melba has shoes to match her jacket! I'm not gripped, am I?

Side B starts out with I'll Never Find Another You which is a bit better, some nice piano, but I'm itching for some upbeat stuff now - where's the Love's Comin' At Ya? on this set? There's only so many much well sung filler I can take, am loving the choir on this one though! Sing it, Melba! "I'm never, no never, gonna, ever, gonna, find another man like, you Oooo Ooooh!"

OMG some beats! Oh Yes, Keeps Me Runnin' Back is more like it. Okay, so maybe I'm desperate by this point, but I'm loving this! It's got soul, some good beats, a bit of guitar, a nice percussion section. Everything I love in 80's soul pop. I hope this was a single!

First Love drops the pace, it's tender and sweet, but again average. This Time is better, and Test Of Time closes the album, and while it hardly goes out with a bang, I'm In Love is a reasonable LP, but I couldn't recommend it.

After a decline in in popularity and the demise of her marriage in the 90's, poor Melba went bankrupt and there were rumours that she became homeless, having to be taken in by friends and family. I like to think she maxed out her credit card on fabulous gowns and spangly accessories, but the reality was probably a lot less glamorous. Thankfully Melba has since forged a career as a gospel singer and has even put out a few 12" dance singles. In 2003 she appeared in The Fighting Temptations in a sizeable role alongside Beyonce and Cuba Gooding Jr. I hope she puts out a pop CD again one day with some killer dance mixes.

Let's enjoy one of Melba's biggest UK hits:

02 August 2009

Donna Summer (1982)

I took this soulful gem out for a spin in the car yesterday and it stuck me that it's probably one of the best of her 80's album, certainly better than The Wanderer, Cats Without Claws, or the dreadful All Systems Go!

Donna decided she was a going to go a bit more rock as the 80's kicked in and the result was The Wanderer album, which earned her a GRAMMY nod for the single Cold Love. She quickly recorded a follow up, I'm A Rainbow, which was eventually scrapped - only the track Romeo was released on the Flashdance soundtrack, until the album was finally put out on CD in 1996. It was felt that Donna needed to appeal to her base, and so she was sent to work with Quincy Jones.

The Donna Summer album was a much bigger hit in the UK, peaking at #13 on the charts, and gave her two modest hits in Love Is In Control and State Of Independence, which hit the Top 20 again in 1996. But what of the album?

It kicks off with the funky Love Is In Control (Finger On The Trigger), which harks back to Donna's disco roots, with electronic vocal effects, and disco-ish beat, with loads of horns. It also has some great gospel inspired background vocals, which feature prominantly thoughout the album. To me this is a classic Donna single, up there with any of her 70's stuff, I especially like the rawness of her vocals, something that had become a feature of 1980's The Wanderer.

Mystery Of Love is a nice one, it goes for a more mid-tempo funk for the verses, Donna sings them softly, before gliding into the soulful chorus. It really gets going after the second the verse. Next up is The Woman In Me, the final single taken from the album. It's a ballad, and a fantastic one at that. It's very 80's soul, the track is driven by Donna's powerful vocals and some sparse (by 80's standards) production, it's very sexy! "I don't need an excuse, it's so easy with you, to be the woman in me,"...

State Of Independence featuring the All Star Choir (including Michael Jackson, Dionne Warwick, Lionel Richie, and many more) is the third track. It's a bit of an 80's classic, with elements of soul and gospel. I have no idea what the State of Independence is, but I am guessing it's probably America, who cares? This is an amazing collaboration that doesn't get anywhere near enough airplay on oldies radio or TV these days.

Livin' In America is next, and I love this one! Again, it's pure tat, it starts off with an air of cool funkiness about it. This one is all about living the American dream! I think the chorus would make most people cringe! Especially when the kids start singing along with her, "You're living in America, you're living in the home of the dream! You can be what you wanna be!"

Protection was written by Bruce Springsteen, and as such is pretty rocky, I believe this one was going to be a duet at one point. I think it's great, I especially like its fast pace! I also love the way Donna's vocal tracks are layered over each other at times, a great effect! This could've been a good single. It was nominated for a GRAMMY.

If It Hurts Just A Little is such a filthy title, and there's some great vocals on this one, it's not the best song on the set, but the excellent production and the gorgeous harmonizing between Donna and the background singers is perfection. Love Is Just A Breath Away builds up beautifully with Donna's soft high vocals steadily getting louder and forceful as the track gets going. Sadly it's a bit fillerish, but it sounds good so it can be forgiven.

The album closes with some old fashioned style with the jazz standard Lush Life, now I'm not an expert on the genre, but Donna does a good job, although I have a feeling it was an afterthought, as it isn't as well done as the rest of the album. With Donna's range you'd have thought she'd make more of it, but it's fine. It was apparently a hard album for Donna to complete as she was heavily pregnant while making it, nevertheless overall I think it's well up there and for anyone else would've been seen as quite an accomplishment. The mix of rock, funk, and soul makes this a must have for me.