Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Film Review - Alien 2 : On Earth (1980)

The world of the Italian exploitation film is a strange one – From 1956 until petering out sharply in the early nineties, the Italians simply made the most colourful, exciting and over the top B movies in the world, mostly with ultra-low budgets and a sense of artistic freedom undreamt of by Holywood. Their pioneer spirit and commercial nous (many Italian exploitation films did incredible business around the world) sometimes meant that conventionally accepted rules were sometimes bent, however, such as in the case of ‘Alien 2’.

Obviously, Alien 2 is not an official sequel to Ridley Scott’s 1979 sci-fi/horror masterpiece Alien – The official sequel was, of course, James Cameron’s awesomely pumped-up 1986 Aliens – Instead Alien 2 was apparently written before the Alien trademark was registered (another story claims that the producers of Alien attempted to sue for $10 million, but were thwarted when a 1930 novel also titled ‘Alien’ came to light). There’s no way even the most uneducated of viewers could mistake this for a film in the same series however. Instead this feels a lot more akin to, for instance, Norman J Warren’s ‘aliens in a cave’ flick Inseminoid (also 1980), with plot points borrowed from the first two Quatermass films.

The basic plot goes like this – after a plethora of stock footage, we learn that an aborted space mission is on it’s way back to Earth, (shades of the original Quatermass here). A young woman starts having terrible visions which may or may not be linked to the return of the mission (You may or may not be surprised!). When the spacecraft returns, all of it’s occupants seem to be missing, and a few days later strange blue rocks start appearing around LA.

The girl who was having the premonitions is part of a group of pot-holers investigating stalactites, and their caving expedition runs afoul of the deadly blue stones, which, in a twist blatantly obvious to anyone slightly familiar with Quatermass 2 or the ‘chest-burster’ creatures from the original Alien, turn out to creatures which incubate within human hosts. Can they survive?

I probably shouldn’t have enjoyed Alien 2 quite as much as did, but I did. Part of this is the aesthetic joy I get from watching any Italian exploitation, specifically that filmed abroad (on location in California no less!) without sync sound and with Cinecitta dubbing and sound effects, and part of it is the sheer wrong-headedness of the monsters and the gore. The creatures resemble nothing more than piles of guts (fairly likely that’s what they were..I have a theory that butchers made half their income from gore films in the 70’s) which burrow into people and, er, make their heads explode – Or, in one particularily grin-inducing moment, slowly drop off in a shower of grue. None of the well-thought out and convincing ecology of Scott’s Alien here – This thing is played for yucks alone, and when they come, they’re brilliantly executed (for the budget and time, silly and effective yucks – Actually pre-empting, in the case of one or two, Rob Bottin’s FX from the Thing a couple of years later (there’s no secret that John Carpenter was a fan of the Italian horror film, after all). It’s a shame that (spoiler alert) when the fully-grown alien at the end makes an appearance, we only see it from a POV shot (through an, erm, interestingly-shaped ‘eye’).

All in all, then, your enjoyment of Alien 2 probably relies on your expectations – If you’re expecting gritty realism, intelligent spectacle or the psycho-sexual edges (aside from the afore-mentioned ‘eye’) of the Alien series, you’ll be likely to be heavily disappointed. If you’re expecting a fairly slow-moving Italian sci-fi gore flick which does, at least, finally deliver on the grue, then you might well be entertained.

(Interesting bit of trivia – One of the cavers is future director and Argento protégé Michele Soavi, the man behind a film called Dellamorte Dellamore (1994), of which this author is rather fond)

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Carnival Special!

OK, as promised here are the details for my Notting Hill Carnival special on Spiritplants - The show will go out 12.15am Saturday GMT, and be repeated at 12.15pm on Sunday afternoon. Would you like a tracklisting? Of course you would!

1. Collie Buddz – No For No Chain
2. Beres Hammond & Zap Pow – Last War
3. Sly & Robbie – Demolition City Dub
4. Mikey Dread – Two Track Dub
5. Cutty Ranks- Idle Talking
6. Anthony B – Powers Of Creation
7. Lee Perry & the Upsetters – Get Ready (Bongo Dubplate Version)
8. Mikey Dread – Front Room Dub
9. Clint Eastwood – Badder Dan You
10. Ticklah – Queen Dub
11. Cutty Ranks – Experience
12. U Mikes – Tribute to the Fisherman
13. Clint Eastwood & General Saint – Can't Take Another World War
14. Delroy Wilson – When Ypou're In Love With A Beautiful Woman
15. Albo Rosie – Tears ft Wendy Rene
16. Frankie Jones – Settlement
17. Capleton – Good In Her Clothes

Come and listen!

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

So, you may or may not know that London is hosting the annual Notting Hill Carnival this coming bank holiday weekend (28th & 29th August). There was some doubt a couple of weeks ago (after the London riots) over whether it was going to go ahead, but happily the authorities have seen sense, and it’s a go (although the music is shutting off at 7pm this year).

Of course it would have been a little ironic to cancel, as the Carnival was set up in 1959 in response to the Notting Hill Race Riots of the previous year (a fact that seems to be missing from the official sites these days). For those who have never experienced or heard of it, it’s the world’s second-largest street festival (after Rio’s Carnival) and attracts crowds of up to 2 million people over the weekend (weather permitting, naturally. This IS London, after all), and celebrates the best of London-West Indian culture.

There are three main elements to the Carnival – The procession, which is huge, and features music, floats, costumed dancers and bands, and is really something to behold. Then there are the stalls, which sell (mostly) West Indian food – also something to behold!. Finally, my favourite element, the soundsystems – These are littered about in the streets inside the carnival route, and feature the best of black music from R&B to soca to drum & bass, and, of course, real authentic reggae music. My pick of the best of these are Gaz’s Rockin’ Blues for variety, CMC/Matrix for rowdy drum & bass craziness (can get a little too rowdy on occasion, so please take care here) and finally, my personal favourite, the Channel One soundsystem, a Rasta system with the best vibes of the festival.

I will, of course, be representing to the full, and will bring my report next week, in the meantime, if you want a warm-up, or can’t get down there, this weekend’s radio show at Spiritplants will be a carnival special, all authentic conscious reggae, dub and dancehall music (any excuse, frankly!)

Don’t forget your whistles and Red Stripe!



Monday, 15 August 2011

FILM REVIEW - Daimajin (1966)

There are a few instances in my younger life that I can trace my obsession with cult/trash/horror/sci-fi films back to. My earliest memory of such is my older sister bringing home the soon-to-be-banned VHS video of Lucio Fulci’s House By The Cemetary. I wasn’t allowed to watch it (I was only 4 years old!), but the lurid cover set my imagination racing, and the forbidden nature of it didn’t hurt either. A few years later my very understanding mother let me video tape the old Hammer and Universal films off of late night BBC2, and around the same time I came into possession of Alan Frank’s seminal big hardback encyclopedia ‘The Movie Treasury - Horror Movies’. I note now that said book only came out 7 years before I got hold of it (about 1988-89) but it already felt like it belonged to a different age entirely, pretty much dismissing anything that had been made after 1968. However, that didn’t stop it from being a treasure trove of grisly delights, and I all but memorised the text from reading and re-reading it, which set me firmly on the path to being a bloody know-it-all.

Of course, living out in the wilds of Wales at the time didn’t give me a great deal of scope to see all the weird and wonderful films that were being shown and described to me – For many years I relied solely on those much-missed late night BBC2 double bills, eagerly scouring the paper to see what classics were being served up for me that week. Of course, I was still only allowed to video tape them and watch them the next day – expecting the one instance when my mother let me stay up alone in the front room with a blanket and pillow, and I ended up scared to death watching the Count Yorga films. Often I would be seeing something as innocent and fun as Karloff in The Ghoul, or a Godzilla film, and then occasionally I’d be taken aback (but thrilled) by something unexpected and harder-edged, like Eraserhead or Night Of The Living Dead.

But I digress! There are still films whose stills in Alan Frank’s book have stayed in my memory and I have never gotten around to watching – and Daimajin is one of them, or at least it was until yesterday.
Daimajin is, at heart, a Kaijiu Eiga (aka Japanese giant monster) film, yet unusual in the fact that it eschews the usual modern-day nuclear-paranoia influence started with Godzilla (1954) and instead sets the action in feudal Japan, amidst a tale of savage warlords. In fact, for the most part, it plays more like a classic Samurai film than a monster movie (unsurprisingly, as director Kimiyoshi Yasuda later directed several films in the excellent Zatoichi series)
The plot centres around the overthrow of Lord Hanabasa by the evil Samanosuke and his men, who take over when the peasants are in the throes of a ceremony designed to keep the demon god Daimajin imprisoned in a mountain. Hanabasa and his wife are killed, but their son and daughter escape with the aid of Kogenta, a Samurai, and the priestess who was presiding over the ceremony. They end up retreating to a temple under a waterfall, opposite the mountain where the Daimajin is imprisoned – his great stone face peering out from the mountainside.
Ten years pass and the children grew to adulthood, swearing revenge on Samanosuke, who by now has the villagers in bondage, working as slaves, denying a man the chance to see his dying wife and generally behaving like a nasty man. Kogenta travels to the village but gets captured and hung upside down by Samanosuke, and a small boy (the son of the slave with the dying wife) travels to the priestess and the children, Tadafumi and Kozasa, to bring them the news. Tadafumi attempts a rescue but gets himself captured instead. The priestess goes to bargain for their release and gets herself killed for her troubles, and Samanosuke orders what he believes to be ‘the statue’ of Daimajin to be destroyed...However, when his men attempt to wedge a giant chisel into the statue’s head, they get a giant-sized surprise in return!
As with most Japanese giant monster films from the period, there is not much giant monster action until twenty minutes before the end – however, in this case, unlike the sometimes interminable plots of the later Godzilla movies which invariably involved annoying children and space aliens (sometimes annoying space children), what is here is well-acted and interesting, and extremely well shot and directed. At times it’s easy to forget the genre of the film one is watching and believe you are indeed watching a serious drama about a barbaric warlord, in fact, one of the most impressive things about this film is that when the giant monster mayhem finally gets going, the feel of the film remains consistent – some fantastical elements have already been introduced (the young boy encountering spirits and skeletal hands in the forest is very effective), for instance, albeit slowly. The rampage itself, is, of course, the highlight of the film – and the special effects are quite literally stunning for a film from 1966 - In fact once or twice I found myself scratching my head as to how certain shots were pulled off (well, I don’t THINK they built a 300 foot tall stone samurai for the purposes of the film. I could be wrong!) also, without spoilering, the nature of some of the Daimajin’s revenge is rather poetic, and such small details as the colour of the sky when the demon is on-screen are simply breathtaking.

I will recommend Daimajin without reservation to most viewers – Certainly one of the best monster movies I have ever seen, and speaking as a hardened Godzilla fan, that’s high praise indeed.

Friday, 12 August 2011

My weeekend

Hi everyone!

So, I’ve got some details for you about what’s going down in Dellamorteland this weekend.

Firstly, for those of you able to get to Islington in London, I will, as previously suggested, be DJing at the Summer Party in aid of the East Africa charity at the Hobgoblin in Islington this Saturday 13th August, it’s £3 in (for a good cause) and I’m lead to believe that drinks (including Jaegerbombs) are very cheap...I’ve got the full line-up for you here –

7:30 doors open
8:30 Happy Street Acoustic set
9:15 Kurran and the wolfenotes filler
9:30 Edd Garratt
10:15 Kurran and the wolfenotes
11:00 Joel Janiurek
12:30 DJ Dellamorte
2.00 Close

I’ll be playing all kinds of nonsense from reggae to Motown to indie pop to New York disco, really looking forward to it.

There’s also the international matter of my radio show this weekend over at SPIRITPLANTS – It debuts on Saturday night at 10.30pm GMT, and is repeated on Sunday afternoon at 1.30pm. I’ll be in the chat for the Sunday show. Possibly with a hangover.

(Also don't forget my good man DJ Boolean's show, it's the show before mine both days, so get in an hour early, aight?)

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Gig this weekend

Hey kids!

Are you in London on Saturday 13th August 2011 and looking for something fun to do?

I’ll be spinning some tunes at a charity event in Islington (the Hobgoblin) in aid of East Africa – It’s a great cause, cheap entry and cheap drinks, and it would be awesome to see you there. I’m planning on playing pop, indie, funk, disco, hip-hop and maybe even some reggae. If you’re lucky.

Check out the official blurb below, with details and Facebook link!



The Hobgoblin is hosting a one of event in association with club night 'Get Cake. Eat Cake. Die' to celebrate the best of Londons summer and raise funds for a great cause.

We're bringing you some exciting live music, Swedish trio 'Happy Street' will be playing sweet summer pop, followed by a host of DJs to keep you on your feet into the early hours! Expect an eclectic mix of indie, pop and floor fillers!

All proceeds from the door will be going to an extremely worthy cause, East Africa is currently experiencing one of the worst famines the country has ever faced and your £3 door money will go some way to helping them! The theme is summer party so feel free to wear your flip flops!

£3 entry (for charity) and great drinks promos:

Peroni - £2.50
Jager Bomb - £3
Vodka & mixer - £3

Add yourself to the event by clicking on the link below and be sure to invite your friends, look forward to seeing you there


The Hobgoblin, Angel, 73 White Lion Street, Islington, N1 9PF.
Nearest Tube: Angel

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Hello Faceless Internet!

Well, it’s business as usual in Dellamorte’s Dungeon this week, as I do my mad scientist bit obsessively researching new and old music in my quest to bring you the very best that this life has to offer. There has been some news though – Keep checking back as I’ll be making some announcements about upcoming gigs in the next few weeks, so you can come and see me do my slightly-over-excitable thing in a club environment should you so wish.

For now, though, I’ve got some things to recommend.

I was revisiting Black Sabbath’s Paranoid album last night, basically because it has the song Iron Man on it, and I have spent much of the last couple of days reading Iron Man comics. However, I listened to the whole thing again, and, to my surprise, Track 3, which I always used to skip as a teenager on account of it ‘not being a rocking one’, is actually pretty awesome. In fact, it sounds less like early heavy metal and more like French electronica act Air.

Seriously, have a listen –

Next up is some moombahton – A few people I have spoken to recently have expressed a lack of knowledge of this (fairly) new genre, so here’s the perfect thing to get you up to speed, LA’s Dillon Francis with an hour long introduction to this sound, which can best be described as a mixture of reggaeton and Dutch house (for real!)

Dillon Francis - HARD Summer 2011 Mixtape by HARD hardfest.com

Thirdly is a record I’ve been obsessed with ever since hearing it on the mighty David Rodigan’s Kiss FM show months ago – It’s taken me long enough to track it down (although the version I have has added brass, which I wasn't keen on at first but has since grown on me), but I bloody love this record, it manages to be romantic, nostalgic, positive, forward-looking AND makes me want to dance. Ladies and G’s – PULL UP!



Monday, 1 August 2011


So apologies if you didn’t know my radio show was on this weekend - I didn’t get confirmation of times until Saturday afternoon, and by then it was far too late to update this here blog! It was a good show, I think, really random selection of ace music from ambient to disco to indie to reggae to hip-hop to funk to blues to moombahton, drum & bass and dubstep. It’ll be up on the archives at radio.spiritplants.org/archives shortly, no doubt. Until then, why not stream or download (right click, save as) some previous shows? There’s bound to be something you’ll dig. I’d hope.

Hackney Wicked art festival was this weekend – A strange experience, and not at all what I expected from a Hackney festival (no reggae soundsystems, for one thing, although there was a steel band), but it was jolly good to get drunk in the street with some friends. I also watched a few films – Bomb It, which is an awesome graffiti documentary, 127 Hours, which was very good, and you no doubt know about already, and The Resident, which is one of the new Hammer film productions, and distinctly average, despite the presence of Christopher Lee.

Anyway, keep watching this space, should be some interesting content any day soon 