Vengeance of the Zombies (1973)

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Don’t be mislead by the title for this film.  It’s neat sounding but, in order to actually take vengeance, you have to be motivated by someone who violated your personal, social or moral code.  And zombies can’t do that because zombies can’t think!

Anyhoo, Vengeance of the Zombies is a movie I thought I really loved upon first viewing but, after a second viewing induced by the stupid netflix DVD skipping, I realized that I didn’t really get what happened or what the purpose was.  It hits all of my quintessential check points; it has voodoo, Satanism, gore, nudity and is shot in a European style by one Leon Klimovsky but is a little dull in parts and, I dunno, kinda silly.

As far as I gather, Paul Naschy, who plays three different roles, goes around using voodoo to raise the dead and those zombies go around killing people.  But I found it a little confusing; is it because I’m stupid?  There was a guy who looked like V from V for Vendetta that went around killing people violently without the aid of zombies.  Who the hell was he?  There are a couple of neat stalking and killing sequences.  A lecherous couple get impaled by a knife and then the killer strangles the girl with a metal string.  One old woman’s head plops clear off her head.  One man is forced to slice his own throat via voodoo.  One old man gets axed in the face.  Like I said, it’s a pretty gory movie.

But, aside from gore, there are Satanic sequences that make no sense at all.  Are they dream sequences?  I couldn’t tell!  It’s cool looking!  The Satanic, sacrificial room with its altar of sacrifice is designed well and the camera has a cool fish-eye effect during the first sequence.  Paul Naschy has cool, goat horns and his face is painted green in this segment.  And there is another segment where Naschy’s face looks all burnt up.  The makeup job is great!

Also I must say the zombie resurrection scenes were actually kind of creepy.  The opening scene with the graverobbing couple getting trapped in the mausoleum and being attacked by a white, clear sheat draped, female zombie who rises from the coffin and brutally dispenses with the couple drew me in to the whole thing in the first place.  But, also what annoyed me is that the film’s supposed main character, Elvira (Romma) didn’t really drive the plot and more just seemed like a casual witness to the proceedings.  She seemed virtually immune to all of the violence surrounding her and I didn’t quite understand why.

Lastly the score was something else entirely; funk jams, percussion filled afro beat (I think?) and messy jazz music; all quite enjoyable if you ignore the fact that they rarely fit the film’s scenes.  Only one time is this not true and that’s aforementioned stalker and murder sequence.  Other than that, minus making much sense, this film is pretty darn cool!

Motorhead – Aftershock

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If you’ve “liked” the official Motorhead fan site on facebook, then you’re probably aware of the amount of fierceness with which the Motorhead p.r. team is pushing the group’s latest effort, Aftershock; everything from status updates asking about your favorite album tracks to adorable pictures of cats posing with a copy of the album.  It’s been at least three years since the group’s last album, The World Is Yours and that is because Lemmy’s heavy drinking/poor diet lifestyle finally caught up with him and he was forced to take some time off in order to address his various health issues.  In fact, according to Lemmy, even during the making of Aftershock, he wanted to get through sessions quickly to go home and rest.

But here we are with the new Motorhead album and best since, I dunno, Kiss of Death?  If you think I’m being facetious, you’ve got another thing coming because I think later period Motorhead albums – Overnight Sensation, Snake Bite Love, We Are Motorhead, Hammered, Inferno and Kiss of Death – from the current and longest lasting lineup of Lemmy (bass, vocals), Phil Campbell (guitar) and Mickey Dee (drums) are just as strong as officially recognized classics like Overkill, Ace of Spades or Orgasmatron.  However it was the group’s previous two albums, Motorizer and The World Is Yours that left me feeling a little cold.  Maybe a few of the riffs were a little dull and trite?  I can’t say for sure except that “Rock Out” is still a gnarly tune.

Anyway my point is that Aftershock, though not quite as strong as the best Motorhead have done, is still quite the wicked collection of raging rock tuneage.  Plus there are 14 songs on it!  That’s more than the group have ever put on an album (not counting bonus tracks which led a different blogger to erroneously claim that Ace of Spades has 15 songs on it when it actually only has 12)!

Well yeah, it sounds like a Motorhead album.  You’re not going to hear anything you haven’t heard on previous Motorhead albums but you’re going to like what you hear.  The group has put the effort into some really great, dirty, simple, heavy and effective rock ‘n’ roll to back up Lemmy’s patented hoarse shouting.  Campbell really pulls out some neat riffs on Aftershock.  In fact it’s pretty commendable that he manages to play such killer, original riffs while sticking to a few heavy, basic chords; I’m surprised Campbell isn’t recognized more as one of the most enduring guitarists in heavy rock.  After all, he’s been in the band since 1983, second longest only to Lemmy!

Does the album have its clunkers?  Sure.  “Silence When You Speak to Me” sounds like “Man in the Box” and drags a bit and the mid-tempo, good-time, AC/DC-style rocker “Keep Your Powder Dry” isn’t the most inspiring song; although it has a strong bridge and guitar solo so it’s not a total loss.  The other mid-tempo, good time rocker “Crying Shame” is a hoot though and sorta reminds me of “Love for Sale” from Snake Bite Love.

But one thing is for sure.  There are more fast, “Overkill”/”Ace of Spades”/”Iron Fist”-style speed rockers than on either of the two previous records.  “End of Time”, “Going to Mexico”, “Queen of the Damned” and “Paralyzed” all tear it up.  Upper, mid-tempo, headbangers “Heartbreaker”, “Coup de Grace”, “Death Machine” and “Knife” are no slouches either.  And there a couple of slow jams in the form of “Lost Woman Blues” and “Dust and Glass” to vary things up a bit as well.

So, what else is there to say about a Motorhead album?  I could talk about the lyrics on a few songs here… lessee… “Coup de Grace” and “End of Time” both tell you how much the world around you sucks whether it be because of media lies, oppressive politics or religion.  “Do You Believe” is an uplifting tune about the power of rock ‘n’ roll.  And some others deal with women, death and violence.  There are also a couple of F-bombs on the album because what good rock ‘n’ roll album is entirely profanity-free, huh?  It’s great to have them back and to know Lemmy is doing well; though I hear he works out now.