Friday, 12 September 2014

Heavy Metal Cover Girls: Blindfolded Beauties

Hello and welcome to another edition of HMCG, where I take the opportunity to post album covers starring beautiful women and try to pass it off as some sort of artistic critique.

 Really, I just like the pictures.

 Anyway, the theme for today is "Blindfolds". Some album covers are clearly alluding to the classic representation of  "Justice", others attempt to convey our increasing difficulty in choosing our path in life.
 Some may just have been the artist getting a chance to indulge one of his kinks.

 If you like the cover, remember to check out their music as well. There's a real mix of musical styles on display, so there should be something there that clicks.

ShadowIcon - Empire in Ruins (Slovenia 2011)

blindfolded woman with sword, sexy album cover
A concept album about the death of the Roman Republic it says HERE 
I'm not sure whether this young lady represents Rome or is some sort of pissed off deity. 
Either way, I'm in no hurry to ask why she's wearing a net curtain.  

Honour to: Official ShadowIcon

Anna Fiori - Magna Mater (Mexico 2013)

woman blindfold album cover apocalypse heavy metal cover girls
Representing the end of another empire, maybe? 
Or a goddess going bowling?
None of the other gods have the heart to tell her how terrible she is. 

Honour to: Anna Fiori

Diary Of Destruction - Outside The Shade Ep (France 2010)

blindfolded woman album cover
Ever noticed how many metal covers have nothing whatsoever to do with the title?

 I couldn't find a song from this Ep so have one from the following album.
The first time I heard this band, I thought they had two vocalists - one male, one female.
How wrong was I?
Honour to: BLANK TV

If you want to quibble, the next one is Prog rather than Metal.


Herd of Instinct - Conjure (USA 2011)

Album cover blindfolded woman
Not putting the name of your band on the Cd cover is a bit risky.
So is waving scissors about when you can't see what you're doing.

I'll mention at this point that Guitarist/Bassist/other stuff-er Mark Cook plays the most astonishing guitar I've ever seen.
Picture courtesy of PROG-SPHERE

How? Just...how?
Has he got telescopic fingers or something?

Honour to: Michael Inman 

Osukaru -Triumphant (Sweden 2013)

Blindfolded blond woman katana pigeon rock album art
Not only is our mysterious blonde lugging about a frigging sword, but she seems to be on a rooftop.
No wonder she's carefully poking about her.
In a minute she's going to grab the pigeon and confuse the hell out of both of them.

The band themselves are old-school AOR
Honour to: Blindfoldead

One thing I always like is a band that continue a theme over successive album covers so:

Osukaru - Covered Up (Sweden 2013)

blonde woman blindfolded
"Sod this representing the blindness of humanity malarkey. I'm fed up with walking into things"


Osukaru - Transition (Sweden 2014)

Rock album art woman sword
"I wish these pigeons would sod off and let me meditate in peace"

Band homepage here: https://www.facebook.com/osukarumusic

And finally...

Impromtus Ad Mortem - Infortunio (Colombia 2007)

blind woman album cover
Bet you can't read the logo either.

It's no surprise to find that they are on the melancholy side

Honour to: Carlos Bathory

 That's all folks.

If you have anything you'd like to see next, drop me a comment and if it's out there, I'll find it..


Sunday, 7 September 2014

Cheapo DVD Review: Bunraku

Starring

Josh Hartnett as a wandering gambler in a nice hat
Ron Perlman as an axewielding  crimelord in a horrible hat
Kevin McKidd as a well-dressed psycho 
Gackt as a wandering samurai. No hat.  
Woody Harrelson as a wise bartender
Demi Moore as Ron Perlman's mistress and really fed up with it.
Mike Patton from Faith No More as The Narrator

" In a world without guns, a mysterious drifter (JOSH HARTNETT) arrives in a strange town terrorised by the ruthless Woodcutter (RON PERLMAN) and his army of thugs, headed by the vicious Killer #2 (KEVIN McKIDD). The drifter is forced to trust a young samurai (Japanese superstar GACKT) looking to restore his family's honour, and the local bartender (WOODY HARRELSON) with his own secret score to settle, as they team up to destroy the Woodcutter's tyrannical and corrupt regime. Using cutting-edge visuals and breathtaking fight choreography, BUNRAKU, also starring DEMI MOORE, is a wholly new and original take on the action and martial arts genre: KILL BILL meets SIN CITY."

  I can truthfully say I've never seen anything quite like this film. 

 The story is that old standby "two blokes team up to face a common enemy" but it's the visuals that are so memorable.  "Sin City" and "The Spirit" are the closest parallels I can think of - two other films that go in for a  hyper-stylised, comic-book aesthetic - but while they opted for stark blacks & whites Bunraku has something that can best be described as "Musical Theatre" - vivd colours, sharp lines, odd perspectives, snazzy outfits.
 Which is why in the opening scene, where two colourfully-attired rival gangs are facing off, I was genuinely expecting somebody to start singing.
 Later on "The Stranger" stages a one-man assault on a police station where we follow him from floor to floor laying waste to the inhabitants while looking in from the outside, like peering into a fold-open dolls house. The whole thing is impressive to behold and may well have been done in one continuous shot.

 "Bunraku" is a traditional Japanese puppet theatre and in keeping with the theme all the exterior sets are made up of 2D flats that rise like a pop-up book for every scene-change. Sounds daft but it works.

  The cast is impressive. Ron Perlman and Woody Harrelson are always worth watching, no matter what they are in, young guns Josh Hartnett and Gackt more than hold their own and the same could be said for Demi Moore.
 Everybody does a fine job but for me the most interesting character was Kevin McBride's swordstick-flashing Killer#2. Yes, that's all the name he gets in this film.
 Killer#2 may be a bit of a dandy but  he's also a ruthless bastard with a tendency to kill his own henchmen when they piss him off.  For some reason his broad Northern accent (Mancunian?) makes him just a little bit more menacing. He could well be the best villain the Bond films never had.

  I enjoyed "Bunraku" but I can definitely see it being a film that divides opinion. Hell, even while I was watching it, I couldn't quite work out  what I thought. This is a film that dances along the fine line between "Visually stunning" and "Pretentious" and that line is different for each person watching.

 How much did I pay for this? £1.
Was it worth it? Very much so. Great cast, good, inventive fights and as I've mentioned already, the visuals are some of the most striking I've seen lately. If you fancy something that tries to be a little different "Bunraku" might be up your strongly lit, plywood alley.

Here's the trailer.
 

 
 That's all folks. 

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

DVD Review: Red Reaper (2013)


"For a thousand years the Reapers guarded mankind from the demons that wait in the dark. Now, at the beginning of a new age, the Reapers are betrayed and slaughtered. Only one Reaper remains - Red, and she's out for revenge.

 The Red Reaper was traded to the demons by the Teller witch - her own mother. Rescued by the Reapers, a sacred clan of human/demon warriors, they raised her as their own, even though she was more demon han the rest of them. She was untrained, untested and shared none of her mother's magical abilities. She couldn't even see the future, her mother's greatest gift. Until the day she did - and it changed the world forever." 

  As soon as I saw the cover for this DVD , I  plucked it off the shelf. There may even have been a little cry of "Ooh. Cool."  Having said that, I couldn't help thinking that the cover art looked a little familiar. 

Back in 2008 Robert Rodriguez had plans to do a remake of a certain barbarian heroine. The project stalled due to other commitments and when putative star Rose McGowan suffered an arm injury that made sword-swinging impossible, everybody lost interest. 
 However, there were a few teaser posters released. Including this one.

 Basically somebody thought "That's a cool pic. Let's rip it off." 

 Anybody want to see what the original DVD cover looked like? 
 No charging knights, no chainmail bikini and no bright crimson hair. Since none of those things actually appear in the movie, this is a much more honest cover.  I also would have been less likely to buy it. 

Now I've got my usual grumblings out of the way, what's the film like? 

Umm... Let me put it this way...

 I stuck "Red Reaper" in the DVD player , ready for some sword & sorcery fun while I had my Monday night Kebab.  Twenty minutes later, I switched it off and dug out my book instead.   
  It took another two attempts before I finally managed to sit through the whole thing. 

 A film about a gorgeous, redheaded, half-demon swordswoman - and I was bored. 

  How the hell did they manage that? 

  Part of the problem is that "Red Reaper" takes too long to get going. The first half of the film centres around heroine Aella having fun with her secret boyfriend Prince Eris, training and having flashbacks. Lots of flashbacks. Or they might be visions. Either way, there's a shitload of them in this film. 
 Plot device or blatant padding, you decide. 
 Aella isn't easy to root for at this point. Considering she's 100 years old (part-demon, y'see.) the Red Reaper seems to spend a lot of time acting like a hormonal teenager sulking because Daddy keeps telling her to tidy her room. At one point she's reduced to glaring at her love rival from behind a pillar. 

  Things pick up a bit when Aella is ambushed by a gaggle of archers who want to drain her semi-human blood but the momentary flurry of excitement leads into an overlong headtrip as Aella battles her inner demons or something. 

  Finally we get some proper demon-slaying as the bad guys launch an attack on the Reapers and thin them out quite badly, paving the way for the demons to make their overdue appearance. 
 By the way, the demons all look like they are moonlighting from Norwegian Black Metal bands. I was half expecting somebody to start gurgling about "Frost" and "Satan" and so on. 
 The fact that Act III of "Red Reaper" involves a lot of people running about a forest in slow motion only added to my amusement. 

 Finally Aella decides to get her game face on but by that point it's far too late. Some quality violence might have rekindled my interest but all the slow-mo and editing tricks can't disguise the fact that the swordplay is really nothing special.  
    
  While I was writing this piece I happened to stumble on Writer/Director/Star Tara Cardinal's bio.  By all accounts she had to battle tooth and nail to get her film made. The co-production company stole the budget, so she became a pro-wrestler and a medical guinea-pig to raise the money. Footage was lost, a distribution company tried to steal the footage for a Steven Segal vehicle and only a personal intervention from Uwe Boll, of all people, got the project finished.  Even the aforementioned  DVD cover switch seems to have come as a shock to Tara and her team.  It really is quite remarkable and I have to admire Cardinal's tenacity.
Details HERE  
  
 But while I wish Tara Cardinal every success in the future, I really cannot recommend "Red Reaper"

Sorry.

Trailer here.

That's all folks. 
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