Jim Steinman’s Bat out of Hell @ Manchester Opera House

“Based on the most influential album of Jim Steinman’s storied collaboration with singer Meat Loaf, BAT OUT OF HELL is a romantic adventure about rebellious youth and passionate love against the backdrop of a post-cataclysmic city.

Following Strat, who has fallen in love with the daughter of the despotic Falco, this new musical is a high-octane rock ‘n’ roll adventure that tears through over 15 of Steinman’s songs including ‘I’d Do Anything for Love (But I Won’t Do That)’, ‘Dead Ringer for Love’, ‘You Took the Words Right Out of My Mouth’, ‘Paradise by the Dashboard Light’, ‘Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad’ and the iconic title anthem ‘Bat Out of Hell’.”

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A musical over fifty years in the making, Jim Steinman’s dream project, Bat out of Hell, has finally come to fruition and is currently having a preview run at the Manchester Opera House, where it’ll be showing until April, before then moving to the London Colisuem for a two month, June-July, West End run.

An ambitious musical blend of Peter Pan, West Side Story and A Clockwork Orange, perhaps it’s not surprising that it has taken a long time for Steinman to get this project into production, a project he’s been talking about since the 70s and the ultimate realization of his ‘Neverland’ concept, a concept which ‘serves as the genesis for most of his art’.

“Peter Pan seems to me a very rock ‘n roll idea because it’s a gang of lost boys who never grow up – that’s ‘Clockwork Orange’ too, by the way,” said Steinman in an interview from 1981, when he was working on realizing ‘Neverland’ as a musical film.

“And this guy Peter is like sixteen for thirty or forty years, and it’s like Caligula – every day he’s gotta seek out some new sensation, some new rush, something just to keep that feverish high going. I think it’s a great concept staying that young forever, and implies a great effort on his part.

“In the film genetic mutation is the cause, and the other lost boys are constantly looking to Peter to provide the excitement, and the film starts off with him trying to seduce Wendy – they’ve never really had a girl as part of the lost boys, or seen a girl like that. She’s Captain Hook’s daughter, he’s the military commander controlling this huge fortress built on the ruins of Los Angeles after the city is destroyed after earthquake and chemical war. It has a lot in common with the fifties horror movies, radioactive monsters etc., there’s all sorts of incredibly mutated creatures running around outside this city which is encased in your usual great dome. And it’s Captain Hook who created the genetic mutation, trying to create the perfect army, just to make matters worse, so he wants to recapture the lost boys and dissect them to see what went wrong with this process.

“And it’s full of scenes like – the other night I was working on this one where Peter and the boys hole up in the automobile graveyard, like in ‘Night Of The Living Dead’, when at night all the cars start up by themselves and prowl the streets without drivers.

“The one song from ‘Bat Out Of Hell’ that I am going to use is ‘All Revved Up With No Place To Go’ – that still has the feeling of it perfectly.”

jim-at-homeAt some point in time the automobile graveyard was excised from proceedings but almost everything else mentioned by Steinman in the above quote has, thirty years on, made it to the Manchester Opera House. Too bad Steinman wasn’t there to see it in person. The ailing composer, who in recent years has suffered a heart attack and two strokes, hasn’t been able to make the trip from his New York home to Manchester, but has been keeping  an eye on the production through Skype.

In a recent interview Meat Loaf, the singer Steinman’s music turned into a star, straight out said, in all seriousness, that if Bat out of Hell: The Musical doesn’t succeed it could kill the composer.

From what I’ve seen, however, failure shouldn’t be a concern. Although, in my opinion, it doesn’t better Steinman’s masterpiece Tanz Der Vampire (NO musical does), and I was hoping that, like Tanz, it would be sung-through, the show is a triumph.

It’s over the top. It’s Wagnerian! It’s poetic! It’s decadent. It’s rock n’ roll!

It’s Steinman!

Screaming Dead @ 100 Club, London

First gig of 2017 and I finally got to see one of my all time favourite horror-punk bands, Screaming Dead, performing in support of TV Smith at the legendary 100  Club.

screaming-dead
Sam Bignall not Jaz Coleman

Although typically a jazz venue, in September 1976 the 100 Club helped push Punk into the mainstream by hosting the first International Punk Festival. Among the acts featured were the Stranglers, the Damned, the Sex Pistols, Siouxsie and the Banshees and the Clash.

Still supporting punk music, the 100 Club were hosting the Screaming Dead as part of Resolution ’17, a punk festival that is currently being held there.

“Resolution, an 11-day festival of all things punk, will return to it’s spiritual home, the 100 Club, for the third time in January 2017. Resolution celebrates the bands and musicians who kick started the movement and those who continue to breathe new life into it today. Featuring artists including UK SUBS; The Vibrators; The Boys; street punk band, GBH; Subhumans; Nick Cash (999); ANWL; TV Smith; Discharge and many more to be announced, it promises to be one hell of a way to welcome the new year.”

original-screaming-dead
Heralding from Cheltenham, the Screaming Dead took their name from the English title to Jess Franco’s 1972 schlock horror Dracula contra Frankenstein. In true DIY punk fashion they francos-screaming-deadself-released their first single ‘Valley of the Dead’ in 1982 and, on the back of its strong sales, got picked up by No Future records. In 1985, only a few singles and EPs later, the band split .

In 2014 Screaming Dead reformed for the second time. But with founding guitarist Tony McKormack committed to goth-rock band Inkubus Sukkubus, this current incarnation features only singer, Sam Bignall, and bassist, Mal Page, from the original line-up. Nevertheless, this line-up feels authentic and they played an awesome set last night, which included a great cover of the Damned’s New Rose. New guitarist, Mazzy, is a killer axe-slinger. Two gripes, though, they didn’t play ‘Angel of Death’ nor ‘Lovers’.

the-band

I snagged a copy of the band’s setlist, here it is.

set-list

Hopefully this reunion leads to a reissue of Bring Out yer Dead, an album that compiled together most of their EPs and singles. It has been out of print for ages and hard to find, and an expensive buy if you do. However, punk record label Queer Pills have reissued a couple of those classic EPs  on limited 7″ vinyl.

Also, this new line-up have put out an EP, The Resurrection. Re-recordings, not new material, though.

Singles & EPs

  • “Valley of the Dead” 7″ (1982), Skull – reissued by No Future
  • “Nigh Creatures” 12″ (1983), No Future
  • “Paint It Black” 7″ (1984), No Future
  • The Danse Macabre Collection 12″ (1984), Angel
  • “A Dream of Yesterday” (1985), Angel

Albums & Collections

  • Children of the Boneyard Stones (cassette-only) (1982), Recreational Tapes
  • Bring Out Yer Dead (1993), Angel
  • Death Rides Out (1997), Resurrection

Horrorific Vinyl: 2016’s Horror OSTs

Over the past few years vinyl has been making and come back, helping the record industry mend some of the damage it started doing to itself back in the 80s, when it shortsightedly encouraged (forced = bonus CD tracks!) record buyers to switch over to the cheaper to produce Compact Disc, never foreseeing the possibility that, in only a few years, all these converts would have the technology to make their own CDs in their living rooms, thereby drastically devaluing the CD as a product. Unsurprisingly, now they want you to buy records again, and, apparently, this year vinyl has managed to outsell digital downlaods.

Consequently, with the increase in vinyls sales, a lot of record companies are now reissuing classic cult-horror/genre soundtracks on the format. Here are a few of my picks from this year.

fright-night

“Fright Night – Original Soundtrack – Vinyl – In 1985, writer-director Tom Holland’s “Fright Night” debuted in multiplex cinemas around the world. The film gained a massive cult following and has gone on to become one of the most cherished vampire films of all time. Taking cues from Hammer Films, the work of director William Castle and horror icon Vincent Price. The decision to create a soundtrack that includes New Wave hit makers alongside Brad Fiedel’s synth score adds spectacular creepiness to the overall vibe of the film. Night Fever Music is proud to release the long out-of-print yet beloved soundtrack to the 1985 horror classic “Fright Night.” Remastered from the original master tapes and pressed on heavy 180 Gram Blue/White Evil Fog-Colored Vinyl.-Limited edition 180 gram blue and white evil fog colored audiophile vinyl LP pressing.”

Tom Holland’s Fright Night is a bona fide classic, one of my all time favourite 80’s movie (fuck the remake – glossy piece of shit!). The soundtrack is by the immensely talented composer Brad Fiedel who also provided the soundtrack to Jeff Lieberman’s excellent in-the-woods slasher Just Before Dawn and …

the-terminator

“The Terminator is a cult 80’s action movie that needs no introduction. Directed by Oscar-winning maverick James Cameron (Titanic, Avatar), The Terminator stars Arnold Schwarzenegger (Predator, Conan the Barbarian) as the unstoppable Terminator, a ruthless killer sent to the past by machines in the future to kill a young woman (Linda Hamilton) who will one day give birth to humanity’s last hope. Released in 1984, The Terminator was a landmark film that spawned a multi-billion dollar franchise with numerous sequels and spin offs, and cemented Schwarzenegger’s place as a Hollywood action legend. The score to The Terminator, composed by Brad Fiedel (Fright Night, True Lies), is as striking as the title character. Punctuated with erratic electronic jolts and rapid fire drums giving the impression of pursuit or gunfire, Fiedel’s work has been used in each subsequent Terminator film and has spent many years out of print. Now available once again and re-mastered from the original tapes for the 21st century, the iconic themes and synth-heavy score has finally been mixed and sequenced the way the composer intended the album to be heard. This soundtrack will transport you back in time to the terrifying streets of Los Angeles on one bloodsoaked 80s night.”

Fiedel again, here now with probably his most iconic score. The guy had gift for creating memorable themes, too bad he retired after working on Johnny Mnemonic.

warriors

“Waxwork Records is excited to announce their long awaited release of THE WARRIORS. This deluxe double LP is three years in the making and features the re-mastered 1979 original soundtrack, in addition to, the vinyl debut of the complete film score by Barry DeVorzon.”

manhatten-baby

Manhattan Baby, an exorcist rip-off from 1982, is not one Lucio Fulci’s better efforts. But while I don’t recommend the film, I’ll always recommend giving a score by Fabio Frizzi a listen.

the-chuch

“Emerson’s tracks here take on a much darker element than usual, they are very gothic and super brooding . Goblin’s tracks offer and slightly more bombastic feel than say something like Suspiria which totally fits in with the style of the movie, which is one of the last great unsung Italian movies worth your time. Includes two previously unreleased tracks.”

The Church has its fans but I’m not one them. Again, like Manhattan Baby, the score, by the late great Keith Emerson and Goblin,is the best thing about this film, in my opinion.

ninth-gate

“Making its debut on vinyl, Wojciech Kilar’s haunting soundtrack to Polanski’s disturbing film The Ninth Gate(1999) features at its core the vocals of Korean born soprano, Sumi Jo. Kilar established himself as a horrorscore composer with Bram Stoker’s Dracula and his work here on Polanski’s film achieves a creeping sense of menace worthy of Polanski’s dark tale of Satanic worship.”

Great film, amazing score, particularly the theme, Vocalise, sung by Sumi Jo. A student of Nadia Boulanger (who also taught Philip Glass, among many others), Wojciech Kilar was an amazing composer of soundtracks and classical concert hall work. I love every note this guy ever commited to stave.

conquest

Now this is a Lucio Fulci film I recommend wholeheartedly. The gorefather’s one and only foray into sword n’ sorcery is strange but compelling. And the synth score by Goblin main-man, Claudio Simonetti, is wonderful.

stranger-things

“The spellbinding, synth-heavy soundtrack to Netflix’s 1980s-set smash hit horror ‘Stranger Things’ is being released on LP and CD through Invada Records, in all territories excluding North and South America. With its pillowy synth-pads and rich textures, the soundtrack to volume 2 seamlessly wanders through the 80s world of ‘Stranger Things’, breeding an unthreatening serenity with a gentle shift toward a darker mood. Floating between sweeter moments which temporarily blossom amidst the danger and decay, volume 2 is the second part of the Stranger Things score, reaching climactic highs as the series comes to an end. This soundtrack is instantly reminiscent of works by John Carpenter (Halloween, The Thing), Tangerine Dream and Vangelis (Blade Runner), whilst also delving into the ambience of Aphex Twin and more modern composers such as Cliff Martinez (Drive, Solaris). The vinyl for Volume 2 will be pressed on clear coloured vinyl, with a red blob on disc 1 and black blob on disc 2, and will be housed in a thick 425 gram heavyweight gatefold sleeve. A printed insert will be included which will feature additional artwork and credits. The CD format will be presented as a digi-pack CD.”

As most can probably tell, from looking at these picks, I like old-school synth music, and I’m glad its making a comeback, as exemplified by the success of this show and its soundtrack. It’s too soon to say definitively where this show ranks, but Stranger Things deinitely places high among my favourite shows of all time, right alongside Twin PeaksMillennium, and Eerie Indiana.

paganini-horror

“Paganini Horror is the second release on SUB OST, the soundtrack focused sub label of Subsound Records. For the first time ever on vinyl, this is the original soundtrack of Dario Argento protégé Luigi Cozzi’s movie, composed and arranged by electronic composer and wizard Vince Tempera in 1989. Sinister like the sounds of a violin, this is a classic Italian horror score finally available on 2LP in a limited edition colored vinyl or black wax. Includes original artwork by E. Sciotti.”

This soundtrack is pure 80s’ gold, but, you know, I’ve actually never seen the movie. I’ve got to correct that.

New Horror Anthology: Crossroards in the Dark II – Urban Legends.

Out now, my story ‘The Whispering Tree’ appears in Croosroads in the Dark II: Urban Legends, a new horror anthology by Burning Willow Press. The release also features work by C.C. Adams, David Owain Hughes, Alice J. Black and many other great horror writers.

crossroads-in-the-dark-ii

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“32 tales…32 storytellers with a twisted mind to entice you. When you were younger, the stories told around the campfire were the best you had ever heard. The bedtime stories our elders would tell us were the ones that put us to sleep but the campfire was where you got the chills to stay up because of every sound the woods made at night. It is hard to believe in a world where things do not get creepier at night or the world does not come more to life at dusk. Where the world gets just a little unhinged in the dark. Urban Legends is a collection with some of today’s up and coming authors in the indie world. Giving you their takes on the tales they grew up with…legends of mystery, of the macabre, of horror, designed to make the hairs on your neck stand alert and your skin crawl. You know some of the stories but do you know the twisted minds of the author telling the tale? Make sure you keep the lights on…things get harder to wrap your thoughts around at the Crossroads in the Dark.”

Movie Review: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children (2016)

peculiar-childrenPLOT: When his beloved grandfather leaves Jake clues to a mystery that spans different worlds and times, he finds a magical place known as Miss Peregrine’s School for Peculiar Children. But the mystery and danger deepen as he gets to know the residents and learns about their special powers – and their terrifying enemies. Ultimately, Jake discovers that only his own special peculiarity can save his new friends. Based on the novel Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, written by Ransom Riggs.

VERDICT: I don’t know where to start with this one. It’s not Tim Burton’s worst film, in my opinion that dishonour still belongs to Dark Shadows, but I hated Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. Admittedly, though, I went into the screening expecting to hate it. Thanks to his patchy output in recent years, Tim Burton has gone from being my favourite director to probably being my most despised.

Way back in the 90s, when I was a teenager and studying animation in college (because of my love of Tim Burton – and Terry Gilliam), I read a review of Sleepy Hollow in which the reviewer referred to Tim Burton as ‘not a good director, just a director who has read a few coffee table art books’, that comment infuriated me at the time, however, I have to say, I think the subsequent years have proved that reviewer right.

Since Mars Attacks, Burton’s $80 million box-office flop, I feel Burton has been playing it safe, making bog-standard Hollywood movies with typical ‘…and everyone fights at the end’ and ‘…and now you see that being not like the others is a good thing’ endings, only his movies have that kooky Tim Burton look, which, for Hollywood, I suppose, makes them ‘different,’ ‘edgy’ and ‘arty’, Planet of the Apes, Alice in Wonderland, Dark Shadows and now Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children are the worst examples of this.

peculiar-kidsSo what’s wrong with Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children? [SPOILERS] In my opinion, the script is messy. It starts off promising, everything with Terence Stamp as Jake’s Grandfather at the start of the movie is really good, as is the establishment of the uncomfortable relationship between Jake and his father, who takes Jake to Wales so he could find the school his grandfather used to tell bedtimes tales about. But once Jake finds Miss Peregrine’s home the film started to lose me. The film seemed to stall here because the only real plot thread established up to this point was: is the school real or a product of Jake’s grandfather’s imagination? Once Jake is in the school meeting all the ‘peculiar’ children – few of which are given any real personality – I was wondering where the film would go from here. And that’s when we’re hastily given the main plot, which arrives courtesy of Samuel L. Jackson’s stock villain, Barron. He’s a mutant, I mean a ‘peculiar’ who wants to be immortal, and, because he’s evil, he, and his followers, will stop at nothing to get what they want. (Yawn.) Barron kidnaps Miss. Peregrine because … yadda … yadda … yadda will make him immortal. So now, led by Jake, it’s up to the peculiar kids to use their peculiar powers to get her back.

barronIt’s about here that the film becomes typical Hollywood popcorn entertainment and interesting themes that were started during the first half of the movie, like the relationship between Jake and his father, are completely abandoned without any resolution. Instead, we’re given CGI fight scenes and, because Samuel L. Jackson’s antagonist, Barron is a shape-shifter, we, of course, get a ‘which one is the real Jake, and which one do we shoot?’ scene. It’s this scene that leads to Barron being killed by a monster (or Hollow), which creeps up on him from behind, and yet, how that huge monster gets into the room that scene takes place in is a mystery to me. Like the character himself, Barron’s end felt like lazy writing. But we get our happy ending; the film even hits the reset button on the Grandfather’s death, which I found really annoying.

I’m a Eva Green fan, she’s probably why I went to see the movie, since I have pretty much given up on Tim Burton, and as the titular character you would expect Eva Green’s Miss Peregrine to be a major part of the story, but actually Miss Peregrine doesn’t really do much, she’s doesn’t enter the film until the end of the first act and then spends most of the third act either off screen or as a bird, without having any real effect on the outcome of the story.

All in all, it’s not a terrible movie, just not a very good one. I hate it, however, because Tim Burton was one of my first loves, and the reason I loved him was because he used to make movies so much better than this. 4/10

Hybrid Moments: A Literary Tribute to the Misfits

There’s still a few days left to contribute to the  Kickstarter campaign for Hybrid Moments: A literary Tribute to the Misfits, ‘a collection of short stories inspired by the songs of the greatest horror punk band of all time’By participating you can snag yourself limited edition copies of the book, due out in October, and a wide range of other goodies besides. Published by WeirdPunk Books Hybrid Moments follows their 2015 release Blood for You: A Literary Tribute to GG Allin.

Hope other people out there are looking forward to this release as much as I am. Danzig era Misfits are one my all time favourite bands, so I’m extremely proud to be apart of this book and delighted that its release will coincide with the Misfits reunion. And isn’t that an awesome cover!

Hybrid Moments

Top Ten Tobe Hooper Poster Art

Inspired by the release of the official poster for Rob Zombie’s 31, I wanted to put up a post looking at some poster art and home release covers for Tobe Hooper movies. One of my favourite filmmakers, Hooper is an under appreciated director whose films have clearly been a big influence on Zombie.

Poltergeist

10. Poltergeist (1982) ‘Who really directed Poltergeist, Hooper or Spielberg? My opinion is that this would have been a much better, scarier (although probably not as successful) movie if Spielberg had left Hooper to it. I’ll take a coked up Hooper over any type of Spielberg any day.’

Eaten Alive

09. Eaten Alive AKA Horror Hotel AKA Starlight Slaughter AKA Death Trap AKA Legend ofthe Bayou (1977) ‘Hooper’s follow up to TCM went by many names when it was originally released in 1977 and in 1984 it acquired yet another one when it showed up in New York theaters with the title ‘Legend of the Bayou’. Inspired by the true life killings of Joe Ball, the Alligator Man, a bar owner who supposedly fed his victims to his pet alligator, the film is a decent follow up to TCM.’

Salem's Lot

08. Salem’s Lot (1979)

Massacre 2

07.Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986) ‘This was the last picture released by Hooper as part of his three picture deal with Cannon, and the only one that was a success at the box office.’

Carnaval del Terror

06. The Funhouse (1981)

Liforce - Italy

05. Lifeforce AKA Space Vampires (1985) ‘This is the Italian poster for the first picture released by Hooper after he signed a three picture deal with Cannon Films. Released in America as Lifeforce, the film was not a commercial success there, not a good start for Hooper and Cannon. Had the film been released as Space Vampires (also the title of the Colin Wilson novel it was based on) I think the film might have achieved better box office.’

TXChainsaw French

04. Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974) ‘After suffering a five year ban, TCM was finally released in France with this poster art.’

The Funhouse

03. The Funhouse (1981) ‘The specially commisioned Rick Melton cover for Arrow Films’ release of The Funhouse.’ Find more of Melton’s work at his website Stunningly Savage.

Lifeforce

02. Lifeforce AKA Space Vampires (1985)

TCM 2

01. Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 (1986) ‘Commisioned for the recent Shout! Factory Bluray, this picture for TCM 2 is, like the film itself, a masterpiece.’

 

 

Christina's World

‘Christina’s World’ by Andrew Wyeth (1948) The painting that helped inspire Tobe Hooper’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre.