Monthly Archives: August 2012

BBC Introducing Guernsey: August 2012 – Vale Earth Fair and Dead Wing

Dead Wing

For this month’s BBC Introducing Guernsey I took a look back at the Vale Earth Fair with interviews with SugarSlam and RentOClean as well as Earth Fair Collective member (and one of the chief organisers) Rob Roussel.

I was also joined in the studio by hard rockers Dead Wing who have just released their debut album (available via their BandCamp page).

You can listen to the show through the BBC iPlayer (click here) until next Wednesday (5th September) at 7 in the evening.

Tracklist

Teaspoonriverneck – Eaten By The Devil
CourageHaveCourage – All Night Long
Portinfer – Roman Roads
The Fuzzey Group – Live ’63
Ray Marshall – My Son Sam
Top Buzzer – Wake Up Call
SugarSlam – Psychobabble
Speakeasy – Veni Vidi Vici
The Recks – Sea Song
Dead Wing – Clocked
Dead Wing – Like A Missile
Dead Wing – Keep Me Under
Last of the Light Brigade – Leave Me On The Floor (live)
Of Empires – I Am The Night
About An Hour – Heartbeat
From Bedrooms To Backseats – Where We’re Going You Won’t Need Teeth
Space For Someone Else – Down And Lonely
Peter Mitchell – Come Home
Zoe Phelps – All Around You

Read my coverage and find my pictures of the Vale Earth Fair.

Read my article of CourageHaveCourage calling it a day.

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Vale Earth Fair 2012

Roots Manuva filled the Vale Caste

On Sunday 26th August 2012 the Vale Earth Fair once again took over the Vale Castle in Guernsey for 12 hours of music across 6 stages.

The event featured bands, DJs and musicians from Guernsey, Jersey, France and the UK and was headlined by Roots Manuva, Subsource and Rebel Control.

You can check out my photos for BBC Introducing Guernsey here (or by clicking on the photo to the right).

Click the screen grab below to read my article for BBC Introducing Guernsey featuring interviews with RentOClean and SugarSlam:

And click on the scans below to read my review from the Guernsey Press on 1st September 2012 and the September issue of Gallery Magazine:

Here are a couple of videos I got from the festival.

And here is a great recap of the whole event from Guernsey Gigs:

Photos by Tom Girard and courtesy BBC Introducing Guernsey.

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Guernsey band CourageHaveCourage call it a day – BBC Introducing Guernsey

Click to read the full story on bbc.co.uk/guernsey

Guernsey band CourageHaveCourage have decided to “call it a day” after two years together.

The band hit a peak in 2011 playing the BBC Introducing Stage at Reading and Leeds Festivals.

They announced on their facebook page: “After 2 fun years we have decided to call it a day.

“We’re all still close friends and will be continuing with our own things so keep an eye out! Thank you for all your amazing support.”

Luke Vidamour, the band’s frontman, told BBC Introducing Guernsey: “We’ve had a great two years as a band and have been lucky enough to play some amazing shows.

“Playing Reading and Leeds festivals was amazing and we are so grateful to have the support and opportunity to do that.”

Continue reading…

Read my review of the band’s mini-album.

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ECW: Unreleased Vol. 1

WWE keep up the high standard of their output from the “land of the extreme” with this ‘first’ compilation of matches from the now defunct, but still ground breaking, promotion.

For a pro-wrestling fan of my particular vintage the output of the original Extreme Championship Wrestling holds a certain special place in my heart and memory.

The promotion’s run, from 1994 to 2001, is the sort of thing people like me always remember the first time they saw it – for me it was flicking through Sky TV late one night and see a guy coming to the ring holding a ‘Singapore cane’, smoking a cigarette and drinking a beer, that was The Sandman and his appearance was followed by a recap of the feud between Tommy Dreamer and Raven (both of whom have since been firm favourites of mine in the ‘squared circle’).

So all that said I was very much looking forward to this DVD collection.

Hosted by Joey Styles (who it’s always nice to hear/see) the disc spans the promotions six-and-a-bit years of extreme with a few genuinely rarely seen matches.

‘The Franchise’ Shane Douglas

Things start out though with the often seen birth of ECW with Shane Douglas throwing down the NWA World Championship, but we also here get to see his whole match with 2 Cold Scorpio which really shows ‘The Franchise’ and the man who would be Flash Funk in their prime.

Moving on from there we are treated to a break neck ride through ECW’s rough and ready early years spanning the mayhem that made the company famous with Tommy Dreamer’s first televised match with Raven to Shane Douglas taking on Cactus Jack. Alongside this we get the a couple of more technical style classics featuring future legends like Chris Jericho and Eddie Guerrero.

Rob Van Dam and Sabu (with Bill Alfonso)

It’s disc two where things really hit their stride as ECW’s own big names come to the fore with Sabu, RVD, Taz and Jerry Lynn all making appearances and showing quite how much the Attitude era of WWE lifted straight from ECW, right down to some very familiar spots in the Sabu/RVD vs The Eliminators match that Hardy Boyz fans would no doubt recognise.

It’s in these matches that we get to see ECW in its prime as the technical and hardcore styles combine to create some truly exceptional and original bouts particularly RVD vs Jerry Lynn and then Taz vs Shane Douglas which kicks off disc three.

Disc three takes us through the promotions final years with some classic insane spot fests from Mike Awesome vs Masato Tanaka and Rhino vs The Sandman, which demonstrate another style of match WWE would adopt in the early 2000s.

The highlight of disc three, and possibly the whole set though, is the full story of how the ECW world title ended up being defended on Smackdown and then returned to ECW to be worn by Tommy Dreamer.

The Sandman and Rhino

These matches may be short and not the best they sum up something that seems unique as WWE helps out ECW in the face of WCW buying out wrestlers as the Monday Night Wars came to an end (though I’m sure this is history as written by the victors as WWE is equally as guilty of poaching some big names at bad times).

While there are some glaring omissions here, namely no Dudley Boyz and not nearly enough Raven and Sandman for my liking, and the whole set features some poorly overlaid entrance music (RVD not entering to Walk by Pantera just feels strange and The Sandman really does need Enter Sandman playing for his entrance to make sense), it is in general a great set that stands up to previous sets The Rise and Fall of ECW and The Most Extreme Matches.

The ‘Vol. 1’ in the title also hints that this is only the first of several similar releases which I hope we do get to see as this set is at once both brilliantly nostalgic and contains some genuinely great wrestling matches.

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Rock of Ages at Smaash Fest

RentOCleam

Over the weekend of 17th, 18th and 19th August 2012 the Sarnians MCC held their second annual Smaash Fest event and for the Sunday of the event they handed the live music over to Mark Guillou to hold one of his Rock of Ages events.

The day featured music from seven bands; Zimmer, Lifejacket, The Half Day Fridays, RentOClean, Twelve Ton Trouble, About An Hour and Space For Someone Else.

I was on hand taking photos for BBC Introducing Guernsey (click on the photo to see them) and got some videos of well to give a flavour of the day.

Elliott from Guernsey Gigs was also there and got some videos as well:

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The Future Shock present Iron Cobra, She Haunts The Roads and Heave

Iron Cobra – Photo by Tom Girard, courtesy BBC Introducing Guernsey

On Friday 17th August 2012 The Future Shock presented a night of heavy metal sounds with a strong influence from the deep south of the USA at The Fermain Tavern in Guernsey.

On the bill were Iron Cobra (who are playing a few special reunion shows this summer), She Haunts The Roads and Heave.

You can see my pics from the gig over on the BBC Introducing Guernsey Facebook page (just click on the photo to go to the gallery) and read my review from the Guernsey Press here:

And here are a few videos from the show:

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Class of Nuke ‘Em High

A ‘classic’ slice of Troma’s unique take on the straight to video schlock-fest that typified a certain sort of 1980s movie making, it may not be so bad it’s good, but it’s so ridiculous its fun if you let it take you for a ride.

The phrase ‘its so bad is good’ is one that I will freely admit to pedaling in the past to refer to many films, from the straight to DVD actioners of Steven Seagal and Jean-Claude Van Damme to films like this little treasure from Troma (the company behind The Toxic Avenger and Surf Nazis Must Die, amongst other ‘classics’).

Upon re-watching Class of Nuke ‘Em High tonight I have realized that the aforementioned phrase is rather meaningless as this film is undeniably ‘so bad its bad’ (although not as bad as much of Troma’s other output) but somehow that doesn’t stop it being enjoyable in the same way a slightly creaky and naff fairground can be. Possibly part of this is ironic enjoyment, but certainly it treads a fine between irony and genuine appreciation of something, though maybe its to do with being a genre movie fan.

Janelle Brady and Gilbert Brenton as Chrissy and Warren (our heroes)

To set the scene we are in Tromaville, New Jersey and something is rotten with the state of their nuclear power plant, which happens to be built conveniently next to a school. So the inevitable happens and all hell breaks loose and within the first 10 minutes of the movie we are treated to some of the major tropes of the exploitation horror movie; nudity, gang warfare, mutants, (sort of) zombies and grisly deaths.

As the film goes on it does slow down a bit in the middle, which is fairly impressive in an 85 minute movie, but expected really in something from Troma, but for the most part keeps up the action, or at least the “what the hell was that?” moments, enough to keep up interest.

Cretins!

Across the film it becomes obvious that the makers of this film know what they are making is awful, which, while not forgiving its awfulness, is probably where the sense of enjoyment comes from as we are all in on the joke and the lead characters discussing going to a Fellini marathon and paraphrasing Shakespeare hints at this.

As the film carries on the plot does become a mess (as expected) as the story of the lead couple and the Cretins gang become too independent of each other, but it all comes together in the end and we are treated to a genuinely well done toxic waste monster, which is all the more impressive knowing that the complete suit was never finished. So what we get are flashes of the beast in close up which has a similar effect to how we see the monster in Alien, which helps makes it more impressive than the sum of its parts (though I can’t quite believe I just compared Alien and a Troma movie).

Spike and Chrissy

In the end if you’re not a fan of schlocky, silly horror movies, you aren’t going to like this one, but if you can appreciate the strange appeal of a bad b-movie, this is certainly one that is worth checking out and a very good entry point to the world of Troma.

Also this is apparently something of a spoof on the (relatively) well reviewed Class of 1984 which may explain something of the better than usual quality for Troma as it was riffing directly on something that already existed – though I have so far only seen the trailer to Class of 1984 so I may be wrong…

Blu-Ray special features

The new release of the movie from Arrow Video comes with a few decent little extras on the disc too.

There’s an entertaining interview with a couple of the cast members (recorded in the early 90s for a video release by the looks of it), though it does focus as much on their recollections of making The Toxic Avenger as much as Nuke ‘Em High, but that’s not really a bad thing and does a good job of showing how much Troma really was a DIY outfit – something like the punk of movies.

Also there are a couple of little skits in classic Troma style, one of which, starring Lemmy (from Motorhead) and South Park creators Matt Parker and Trey Stone, defies explanation, and the other is a tour of Troma Studios featuring amongst other things a look into the executive washroom (including Kabukiman getting caught out) and talk of the companies stocks, shares and nail polish issues.

But, the highlight of the special features is a half hour Q&A with Troma head honcho Lloyd Kaufman recorded at the Prince Charles Cinema in London which gives a great insight into the world of Troma and how they make movies as well as their attitude to file sharing and other issues effecting movie making today.

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Zombies in the classroom – Jack De La Mare and Zombey

As a former student at the Guernsey Grammar School I will admit that I had in the past considered the possibility of the school being over run with hordes of the undead… and I’m clearly not the only one as young local filmmaker, Jack De La Mare, brought this idea to life in his latest short film Zombey.

Before I share my thoughts on the film with you, I had a chance to speak to Jack, who has directed, produced and co-written four short films (and is working on his fifth) about Zombey making movies in Guernsey.

Interview

“I was born the year Jurassic Park came out and growing up, that’s all I watched,” Jack De La Mare said of his prime filmmaking influence, “It was watching the making of and seeing what the crew did to put such an epic together, and seeing [Steven] Spielberg working the set, that just made me excited and made me think, ‘I really want to make films’.”

Jack (left) on the set of Zombey

And so at the age of 14 Jack, and a group of friends, began work on what became Jack’s first short film, Prime Survival, a “fan film” (inspired by Steven Spielberg’s mid-90s masterpiece) that has gone on to be watched by more than 900,000 people on YouTube.

“It took us two years to make, so the continuity is awful,” explained Jack, “But it works and it has a narrative to it… just the fact we finished it is quite an achievement.”

While it is a little rough around the edges, with fully realized CGI dinosaurs and the use of boats and aircrafts Prime Survival is an impressive achievement for a teenager and his friends to put together.

Jack and the cast on the set

This has led on to a trilogy of horror films ranging in length from the seven-and-a-half-minute Isolated to the 44 minute Zombey, by way of the half hour long Six.

I asked Jack, why it was he had chosen to make horror films and why many new filmmakers seem to work in that genre: “Horror doesn’t need that much of a budget or a big name attached because, usually, you end up killing all the stars… also its just fun.”

And fun seemed to be what the cast were having if the backstage photos posted on DLM Productions Facebook page were anything to go by, as Jack and his crew took over the Grammar School, including some of its teachers, and gave it the Zombey treatment.

Zombies get made up backstage

Having assembled a cast of zombies Jack explained that while horror movies were often cheap Zombey had been his most expensive production yet: “We had to pay for blood – lots of blood – and special effects to make the gore look real.”

Special effects for Jack’s films have all come thanks to relationships made with budding effects makers online who add in digital elements once the film has been shot and Jack said that the internet and developments in technology had made filmmaking easier to get into: “Its easy and cheap to make films now – you don’t need to buy film stock and you can make a film with your phone.”

While Jack is currently studying Film Production in Bournemouth, he is also making another short movie over the summer and his four films to date, as well as other work including music videos, can be seen through the DLM Productions YouTube channel.

Review

Ben Weldon in Zombey

So, onto the film itself.

While I could compare it directly to the likes of the Living Dead Trilogy, or Shaun of the Dead, and in places it certainly invites such comparison, this really has to be done with the knowledge that this was a film made for a couple of hundred pounds by some A-Level students in their spare time.

That’s not to say its bad by any means, however, as with all such projects there are some elements that work better than others.

What really impressed me about the film is Jack’s direction of the action which features variously fast cuts and comparatively full on sequences for a team clearly working without the aid of crash mats or stunt men.

Ben Weldon and Matthew Judge

This, alongside a knowing sense of humour, works well to present a rough, but, none-the-less enjoyable movie which will certainly appeal to horror movie fans like me, as it references many of the greats from George A. Romero and Edgar Wright to Sam Raimi and Steven Spielberg.

Certainly another step forward for this young director, Zombey, to me, shows that Jack De La Mare has a level of talent that, with the right team around him, could lead to some very interesting and good looking work in the future.

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Chronicle

An interesting idea for a movie that doesn’t quite live up to its concept but still does something a bit different within the current superhero cycle.

I was advised to check out Chronicle shortly after posting my review of The Dark Knight Rises, and along with the recommendation I was told that Chronicle was “the best superhero movie of 2012”.

Anyone who has read or listened to my earlier blogs on the aforementioned Batman movie or The Avengers will be aware I enjoyed both of those a great deal, and I have to admit I didn’t expect Chronicle to live up to either, so I wasn’t really disappointed that it didn’t, but I was a bit disappointed with what the film did have to offer.

It started off promisingly with a very real world high school setting, dealing with a slightly more real world version of Peter Parker, struggling at home, bullied at school, the usual troubled geeky teen thing (though with a slightly darker edge) and the origin story of him and some friends getting superpowers.

From the start it has a similar vibe to Monsters, which did a similar thing for alien invasion films as this wants to do for superheroes, and this actually works surprisingly well, with the found footage motif actually not being too distracting (although a few moments of, ‘why does he/she have a camera?’ did take me out of the realism a little bit), but, as the film goes on, I did find it seemed to lose its sense of originality and become something of a ‘best bits’ of other superhero movies just done via found footage.

As the characters develop their powers (they don’t really develop much beyond that, save for Andrew, however his development is very obvious) they become very much types we’ve seen before and it brings to mind, variously, Kickass, X-Men: First Class and Akira and doesn’t really seem to make much point with what it does beyond “superpowers in the real world may not be great” and then pretty much becomes any other superhero movie with a big fight scene with characters flying around an inner city setting.

This was a shame as I thought continuing its basis in reality would have led the film to a more interesting and convincing conclusion, rather than the somewhat cheesy point it ends on.

All this said for a film that clearly was much lower on budget than many of the films it apes it does look very good with some excellent special effects and, the first big flight sequence in particular is stunning.

But it did just seem to cop-out too much with its ending and, while there seems to be talk of a sequel, I don’t see how it could become anything but a cheaper rip off of the films it’s trying to comment on as it had already pretty much become this by the end of its 85 minute running time.

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Sherlock: Season 2 (blu-ray)

Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss’ modern retelling of Sherlock Holmes continues in great style mixing mystery, modernity and humour in one unique package.

Following the somewhat surprise hit that was season one of Sherlock in 2010, two of the men now behind Dr Who, along with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, came back with a second season of three feature length episodes with much more expectation and confidence.

I have to admit that, other than the Guy Ritchie/Robert Downey Jr version, I hadn’t really had much experience of the world of Sherlock Holmes but I very much enjoyed Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss’ first go at it and so when the three episodes of series two were announced I was rather excited, and I wasn’t disappointed.

Taking off exactly where the season one cliffhanger ended this series almost instantly seems to take on a larger scope as we get a montage setting up Sherlock and Dr Watson as a much more established detecting double act as they are then thrust into their first proper case of the series, A Scandal In Bohemia, which brings a modern sensibility to things as an exploration of scandal and sleaze, as well as a great mystery story.

Holmes and Watson

While this is the first of three individual mysteries we get this series, it also continues the threads that began in series one with Moriarty and Sherlock’s backstory continuing to develop and deepen here, and across the series, in a much more confident way (in terms of the writers and producers work).

It is this new confidence which marks the series throughout as it tackles three of the most famous of Arthur Conan Doyle’s stories, but in their own modernizing way, and nails the combination of old fashioned mystery and modern twists excellently.

Moffat and Gatiss

In some hands the use of mobile phones and the internet to the degree it is used here would seem cynical, but in Moffat and Gatiss (and their compatriots) hands it seems, as it should be, just a part of life and a part of the story, marking this as one of the first TV shows I have seen that truly feels part of the digital age, in an honest way (despite some of the series other, more fantastical, elements).

As the series goes on we get a new take on The Hound of the Baskervilles which adds another more modern concern to proceedings with the idea of a military conspiracy thriller running alongside the almost Hammer horror elements of the tale of the hound.

This is then followed by what seems to be a climax to the overarching story of both series as Holmes and Moriarty clash directly, though of course this wouldn’t be a modern TV show, or a mystery, without an enthralling cliffhanger (which I for one won’t spoil, and have yet to fathom).

Moriarty

Episode three, The Reichenbach Fall, also continues the series’ theme of tackling modern concerns, here looking at how the media can create and destroy ‘celebrities’ as it sees fit and how a single image can become the sole identity of a person to the wider world (cleverly done here with the use of Cumberbatch’s Holmes wearing a deerstalker).

While this all sounds rather serious and full of issues of modern life, what really opens Sherlock up as an extremely watchable series (none of its three feature length episodes drag in the way a 90 minute TV show might) is the humour that runs throughout.

Holmes and Watson with Molly Hooper (Louise Brealey)

Whether playing on the relationship between Watson and Holmes, or the knowing ridiculousness of Sherlock’s attitude, or the comparative incompetence, but humanity, of Officer Lestrade, Sherlock contains a rich vein of comedy that makes it somehow uniquely British in the same way Doctor Who is, and that little other TV seems to manage. (I’d like to make it clear this isn’t me being ‘patriotic’ just honest that American TV, which can also be this good, rarely has this same vein of humour to it).

In terms of the blu-ray package the extras are a little sparse. There is an interesting 20 minute or so making of, where we get to hear from all the main players, but, when compared to the three feature length episodes that make up the series, this seems rather little.

That said, the lack of extras can’t take away from the enjoyment to be gained from the series itself which looks set to be something of a modern classic of BBC TV drama as Holmes is once again reinterpreted for the current state of the world.

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