Monthly Archives: May 2012

Niki’s Crap DVD Clearout Review Extravaganza! part 12

Riot

Joseph Merhi

(1996)

Rating *

 

It is always a gamble when casting a movie that heavily relies on martial arts. Do you get someone who can act and hope they look good fighting or do you get a fighter and hope they can act? This movie plumped for the latter, it didn’t pay off.

Riot stars kick boxing champion Gary Daniels and former professional boxer Sugar Ray Leonard as two marines who must rescue the British Ambassador’s daughter and friend who have been kidnapped by a street gang who turn out to be working for a group of IRA soldiers. Yes, it’s nonsense. They kick, punch and shoot their way through a riot ravaged town (a small set with a couple of burning cars) and (SPOILER) one of them dies hilariously, but more of that later.

On researching the film my first surprise was to find it was made as late as 1996, the whole thing feels incredibly like one of the hundreds of shitty, straight to video, action movies that came out in the 1980s. Our poor leads clearly are not trained actors, Gary Daniels fares OK in normal conversation but when he has to emote anything other than placid calm or kicking someone’s ass he fares pretty poorly. Sugar Ray fares little better, while he’s not awful he’s developed a starey expression that he uses in every scene.

The damsels in distress are even worse and clearly responded to an ad that read ‘Are you hot and blonde? Come be in a movie. We promise it’s not porn’.

Acting is all in the legs

But at least the fighting’s cool right? Well, no. While there is certainly a lot of fighting (there really is a lot of fighting), most of it is so incredibly stagey, actors line up to take their turns getting hit by the good guys, it all starts to look a bit like Fame mixed with Double Dragon.

There is some fun to be had though, sadly for the film makers though this is unintentional and involves the death of a major character. In this hilarious scene the heroes’ helicopter is hit by a rocket launcher (well technically a rocket fired from a rocket launcher), instead of blowing it to pieces it starts a small fire and they manage to crash on a roof, it’s not all roses though as a second rocket tips the helicopter sideways a bit and our protagonists roll out over the edge of the building. Sadly for them the waifish blonde girl is left to pull them both up which results in a hilarious minute or so of Sugar Ray Leonard pleading “Hold Me!” over and over to his friend while reaction shots show him clearly just standing on a platform pretending to wobble about. The hilarity is sadly short lived as they fail to uphold his request for a cuddle and he drops to his death.

After that I kinda lost interest to be honest. There was more fighting, a bit in a black family’s home to show how blacks and whites can get along if they stop blowing shit up, and finally the bad guys are thwarted so our hero and his really quite badly hurt new girlfriend head off into the sunset. Well, into the riot ravaged streets where they’ll probably be killed but as the credits have started to roll this is none of our concern.

You know? I’m really starting to regret ever starting this ridiculous endeavour. By the end I will have wasted about 75 hours of my life watching these movies. 75 hours that I could have used to attend an evening class, go to the gym, or go out socially and meet women. Oh well, more next week!

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Roadrunner Records’ Forgotten Gems

Two weeks ago it was announced that Roadrunner Records UK would be closing its doors. Anyone with even the vaguest interest in rock and metal will know what an absolute travesty this is. Take a look down any metal fan’s CD collection (for our younger readers it’s like an MP3 player but it comes with booklets and is a bastard to move house with) and you’ll almost certainly see that familiar red rectangle of the RR logo popping up frequently.

Tributes have been coming in from all over the place from artists, to fans, to other people in the industry, so I thought long and hard about what would be a fitting tribute to a label that has brought me so much enjoyment over the years. I thought about writing about my favourite Roadrunner memories, but they almost all involved getting shit faced and listening to metal. So instead I thought I’d write a little piece about the forgotten gems of the Roadrunner back catalogue. Albums by bands that, for whatever reason, didn’t become the next Slipknot or Sepultura. I hope you enjoy them, feel free to post your favourites in the comments section then get into a slanging match where you insult each others sexuality. Enjoy!

The Dresden Dolls – ‘Yes, Virginia…’


Of all the bands in the list the Dolls are the easily the most well loved. In fact they have one of the most devoted fan bases I have ever seen. I include them for two reasons, firstly because they were an odd and brave choice for a metal label to sign. Suddenly on a label fueled by manly metal bands singing about ‘fucking shit up’ there was a woman behind a piano singing about her bohemian friends and her first daily orgasm. Secondly they simply cannot have enough fans in my opinion. In a perfect world everybody would have a copy of this album.

I was skeptical at first, I have nothing against female piano music (I’m a big fan of Tori Amos) but they were touted as a rock band, one without a guitarist or bass player, I mean, have you heard Keane?! But as soon as the opening bars of Sex Changes pounded out of my stereo I was a convert. Amanda Palmer plays the piano like she’s trying to kill it and sings in a husky baritone not heard since Patti Smith whilst underneath drummer Brian Viglione locks in tight while pounding the shit out of his drumkit.

Their first album is only shades off being as great as this one (a lot of people prefer it) and live it’s like watching the musical equivalent of two people have the most incredible fuck of their lives but, you know, not creepy. They used to cover Iron Man, just drums and piano, and it was awesome! Amanda has gone on to other projects including a solo album but I pray she gets together with Brian again soon.

Here’s one of their poppier numbers with a lovely video parodying Dave Lee Roth’s California Girls vid –

Dislocated Styles – ‘Pin The Tail On The Honkey’

I tried to find out some info about these guys before including them in this piece and I’m afraid to say I came up with very little. No official site, no Wikipedia entry, Roadrunner don’t even list them on their previous artists page. But they existed, I know for I have their album sat on the desk next to me right now and a very, very vague memory of seeing them at the Highbury Garage once.

So here’s what I do know. Dislocated Styles were a six-piece rock band from Phoenix, Arizona who, back in 2001, released the wonderfully titled Pin The Tail On The Honkey. An album full of absurdly upbeat rap/rock covering topics a varied as getting drunk (‘Liquefied’), getting stoned (‘Clocks’), and watching porn (‘Wet Video’). Hardly one for the Porcupine Tree fans I grant you but for anyone who wants a quick blast of great party music this is the album for you, they make Dog Eat Dog sound like Rage Against The Machine.

As I have little more to say about them here’s their only video (that I could find) for the almost serious Fire In The Hole which still features a big yard party and a guy sitting in a paddling pool –

Open Hand – ‘You and Me’

I believe Open Hand came to be on Roadrunner through the label’s links with Trustkill Records. Anyway I first heard this album while on an incredibly hungover journey home from a mate’s house. It turned out it was exactly what I needed to get me home, it was stoner but not sleepy, rock but not abrasive, my hangover was perfectly kept at bay until I could crawl into my bed and watch cartoons for the rest of the day.

Open Hand are a Californian band, You and Me is their second album, and it sounds to my ears, an awful lot like the album Queens of the Stone Age never made. Which is never, ever a bad thing. Although the album was received very warmly by the critics they never quite achieved the acclaim they deserved, at least not on these shores, though to the credit they are still going to this day, their last album The Mark of the Demon having been released last year.

But from You and Me here is the unfeasibly catchy Tough Girl –

Anyone – ‘Anyone’

Anyone were a curious band. The looked like cyberpunks, sounded like a ragged Jane’s Addiction and were fronted by a guy who made porno. Born from a band called Sylvia which featured none other than the Foo Fighter’s Taylor Hawkins, Anyone described themselves as ‘Maximum Acid’, and for want of a better description that pretty much fits. With songs like ‘Lazy Hazy’, ‘Peace Love & Toxic’ and ‘Whole World’s Insane’ they conjured up a colourful soundscape mixing Eastern mysticism with Led Zeppelin style riffage. Sadly their follow up album has still yet to materialise however frontman Riz Story is still out there writing music, making films (porno or otherwise) and even publishing books of poetry. Too talented some people.

Here’s the excellent ‘Don’t Wake Me’, which ironically, will probably wake you –

Dirty Americans – ‘Strange Generation’

Dirty Americans were formed from the ashes of another Roadrunner band (and contender for this article) The Workhorse Movement. While their former band focused heavily on hip-hop vocals Dirty Americans were straight ahead, classic 70’s rock, and all the better for it in my opinion. Strange Generation is an album which conjures thoughts of driving down the Mojave Freeway, top down,  towards an all night beach party. Which is curious seeing that the band hail from Detroit.

The band are currently recording a new album so hopefully we’ve not seen the last of this great band. In the meantime here’s the 70’s-tastic title track –

Redtape – ‘Radioactivist’

Redtape were a punk band in the purest sense. They were loud, angry and sung fiercely political songs with the kind of energy and enthusiasm most bands can only dream of. This was their only album to my knowledge and while about 20% is fairly throwaway, when it hits, it really fucking hits. Songs like ‘Stalingrad’, ‘Divebomb’, and ‘Shoot, Move, Communicate’ absolutely explode from your speakers in a nailbomb of drums, bile and distorted guitar harmonics.

Singer Jeff Jaworski went on to briefly front Will Haven on their ‘The Heirophant’  album but sadly it does seem we may have seen the last of Redtape, which is a crying shame.

Here’s the video for the beautiful slice of rousing punk noise that is Stalingrad. Apologies for the shitty sound, it’s sadly the best I could find –

So there you go. Hopefully you’ve found something to love among these little beauties. Most of these albums can be picked up for pennies on Amazon so head over there and add a few more red rectangles to your CD collection. I’m gonna miss you Roadrunner Records, the industry is a sadder place without you in it. At least we still have years of awesome music to remember you by, as the aforementioned The Workhorse Movement once sung ‘Keep The Sabbath Dream Alive’.