Sunday, January 24, 2010

Black Sabbath—“All Good Bands Should Be Named After Movies Where People Died” (and some other reviews, mainly documentaries about the Iraq War)

The fab Final Girl herself is having another Movie Club blog-a-thon, and this time it’s about the Mario Bava-directed horror anthology Black Sabbath (1963).

Starring Boris Karloff (always a plus!), Black Sabbath is a pretty good flick—not as good as Bava’s Black Sunday, but (and this may be a caveat) as a member of the mid-1960s-to-early-1970s horror movie anthology sub-genre (which includes
Dr. Terror's House of Horrors and
The House That Dripped Blood (I love that title!)),
Black Sabbath is one of the best.

But I think
The major reason the movie is remembered is because of the band.

And if all you outraged horror movie nerds who are getting ready to lynch me in effigy stop and think about what the general population considers, you know I’m right.
If you did a Heavy-Metal Parking Lot-style Q&A, most would assume Black Sabbath to be a completely satanic name, in no way related to the movies.
I think a lot of heavy metal fans might be amused to find out that there was even a movie called Black Sabbath!

And how did the band adopt the name Black Sabbath?
The band got its name from the Boris Karloff flick—

This is from the lips of The Mighty Ozzy:

In August 1969:
“Right across the road from our rehearsal room was a cinema that showed mainly horror movies.
One day I thought that it seemed strange that a lot of people spend so much money to see scary movies.
Nobody really wanted to listen to us, so we decided to play slightly scary music.
We liked it and, yeah, that's how it all got started.
That's the story of Black Sabbath.”

If you’re wondering, Ivanlandia’s fave Black Sabbath album is Sabotage.


Time for an aside:
When I went to see Big Black at the Cat Club on August 6, 1987, during the band’s final tour
And yes, Big Black was awesome that night—whatever band I’ve seen Big Black frontman Steve Albini perform with, including Rapeman or Shellac, it has always delivered the goods (sure, some shows are always better than others, but there’s a level of quality and professionalism—and let’s not forget fun!—to his gigs that others can’t come close to).

So when Albini introduced opening act The Honeymoon Killers, he said something I’ve never forgotten:
“All good bands should be named after movies where people die.”

Hmmm…I wonder who would be on that list of bands named after movies where people died?
Well, we’ve already discussed Black Sabbath….
Then there’s:

(which was the grindhouse retitling of Argento’s Tenebrae)

White Zombie

My Bloody Valentine
Unfortunately, I’ve been dragging my heels about seeing the new My Bloody Valentine 3-D, but more out of lack of funds and scheduling mishaps than anything else. But I thoroughly intend to rent the re-release/unedited DVD of the 1981 My Bloody Valentine when I get the chance. I really need to see what caused Kevin Shields to name his band after that movie—or was it just because of the title?
I know that Mudhoney (see below) named themselves after the movie without ever seeing it.

BTW, jeez, My Bloody Valentine used to be my favorite band for a while—I even saw them live twice—so many guitar pedals!

The Honeymoon Killers

(Just because it’s a phony rubber monster doesn’t mean that millions of human beings aren’t being crushed beneath its feet)


Killdozer (TV movies are okay)

The Candy Snatchers

Destroy All Monsters

Some more bands named after movies where people died—
These are from Toestubber:

The Highlander Twos
The Brood
The Thing (NY)
The Spider Babies
Faster Pussycat

Toestubs sez:
“I think the name Pussy Galore was taken from the Bond character. The porn paperback Teen Pussy Power became one of their songs.”

From Ivanlandia Loyalist & Follower Dean R.:
“Pussy Galore was the name of a character in a James Bond film.
I think you can use that.
If so, Duran Duran can be used, too.
As well
as Boss Hog.”

Blood Sucking Freaks
The Gore Gore Girls
The Corpse Grinders

Some more:
The 400 Blows
Stray Dogs
Spider Baby
Soilent Green (spelled incorrectly on purpose)
Susperia (ditto)
Six Feet Under

Trick Babys (I know there was a movie of this, but I think the band is taking this straight from the title of Iceberg Slim’s novel)


Dean says, “I know there's hundreds more - probably all death/black metal bands.”

If you, dear reader, know of any more bands named after movies where people died, please let us know—leave a comment!

Since we’re on the subject of
Heavy Metal, let’s review the documentary

Heavy Metal in Baghdad (2007)
Directed and produced by Eddy Moretti & Suroosh Alvi

Watch “Heavy Metal Parking Lot” and then Heavy Metal in Baghdad, and you will feel guilty about everything.

While the actual film of Heavy Metal in Baghdad would only get three out of five stars (the flick seems to either need greater depth or some trimming), the entire disc (film and supplemental materials) is absolutely 4/5 stars.

Altogether, it is a richly detailed story about the four kids of the band Acrassicauda who just want to rock out—
in possibly one of the deadliest places in the world.
This so-called “non-professional” documentary has shown me a facet of life in Iraq I had never seen anywhere else.

Since we’re talking about Iraq, here’s another documentary about the conflict there:

Baghdad ER (2006)
Directed and produced by Jon Alpert & Matthew O’Neill

If you don’t think U.S. veterans don’t deserve their medical benefits, after watching Baghdad ER, you will change your mind.

What this documentary sacrifices in depth (we learn little of the lives of the doctors in the ER; the one person we see the most is the chaplain, and often he’s delivering the last rites), it makes up for in intensity:
I don’t know what programming decisions made this doc only an hour long, but it’s grueling enough as it is.

We’re visiting a hard-core trauma unit in a combat zone, and it’s not for the squeamish. If this film were any longer, audiences would have been crushed and in tears most likely.

(And more people need to see stuff like this—I seek it out because I have friends and family over in the war zone, and I want to know what’s happening! Do people not care? Has America forgotten that there’s a war going on? WTF?!?)

And here’s a docu about the war in general:

Full Battle Rattle (2008)
Directed and produced by Tony Gerber & Jesse Moss

Boot camp meets method acting meets the biggest game of laser-tag in the Army’s desert training center where a portion of Iraq has been recreated, complete with Iraqi refugees playing the civilians.

Full Battle Rattle doesn’t simplify the issues of the Iraq conflict, and maintains a surprising neutrality—
but the scenario of the flick is so weird, that weighing the flick down with a political agenda would really work against it.

This very good serio-comic documentary follows a brigade as it goes through training at the desert base, and as a viewer, I felt an strange feeling of disassociation:
the fake town, the preplanned wound cards, the gamers “programming” the training from back at HQ, the “method” acting that soldiers and civilians are encouraged to pursue, it all made me feel like I was watching a sci-fi movie, maybe based on a story by J.G. Ballard or Philip K. Dick.
Definitely worth a look.

Full Battle Rattle would be an interesting double feature with either Punishment Park or The Hurt Locker.

(And if you haven’t seen Punishment Park, you must, you simply must! It’s probably one of the most intense and brutal agitprop flicks made in the early-1970s: real angry stuff!)

Okay, let’s get back to un-real-world horror anthologies:

The first two seasons of Rod Serling’s
Night Gallery (1970-1973)
were made available on DVD in 2008 and 2009—
Although hardly perfect overall, there are enough superlative segments, where good writing and acting come together perfectly with the macabre, to make Night Gallery (or at least a disc or two) worth a rental—especially if you’re a fan of Rod Serling and his works.

Sure, the show suffers from all the drawbacks that impacted early-1970s TV shows (especially anthology series like this one):
low budgets, lackluster camerawork, miscasting and so on.

But as director Guillermo Del Toro says on one of his commentary tracks (his only connection to Night Gallery is that he’s a famous fan), while the show is flawed, when it’s “firing on all cylinders, it’s great.”

Some of the segments, like “The Messiah on Mott Street” (with a heartfelt performance by the great Edward G. Robinson as a man arguing with Death on Christmas Eve,
and a cameo by Yaphet Kotto, who’s so very natural and at ease that it doesn’t seem like he’s acting),
or “The Caterpillar” (when a murder plot backfires horribly—it’s the “bug in the ear” plot done awesome, helped by Laurence Harvey’s sweaty performance),
or “Pickman’s Model” (one of H.P. Lovecraft’s most well known stories—“That’s not a drawing, it’s a PHOTOGRAPH!”)
deserve to be discovered by new audiences.

Personally, I think Night Gallery’s second season is much better (and definitely weirder) than the first season, perhaps due to the wider range of supernatural stories adapted, including several from authors like H.P. Lovecraft, August Derleth and Robert Bloch.

Meanwhile, nostalgia buffs will get a kick out of the parade of familiar faces here, like a
Love Boat of the Damned, or
Death American Style:
It’s an incredible cast, from acting giants like Laurence Harvey and Geraldine Page, to camp figures like Zsa Zsa Gabor, Marty Allen and Bobby Darin, and cult figures like Barbara Steele, James Gregory and Severn Darden.

BTW I love Night Gallery’s opening credits and music.


  1. I love Bava, and Black Sabbath has such a great, classic look to it. It must have crept into the horror subconscious. I imagine the Karloff segment was the main inspiration to Burton's Sleepy Hollow movie (which looks good, but suffers from constipated storytelling as far as memory serves). The Karloff segment is based on a Russian folktale The Wurdulak. Black Sunday is supposedly inspired by a short story from Russian writer Nikol Golgol, The Vij. There's a cool Russian film version of The Vij, quite different than B. Sunday. I fear the DVD's out of print, but it has creepy atmosphere and some cool monsters as far as I recall.

  2. Great creepy film, that Black Sabbath. Thanks for putting the old witch front and center to make me wish I had my binkey to protect me :-D

  3. Interesting mention of Punishment Park (which is at my library on DVD!), given the many kids reading The Hunger Games these days. I wonder how it compares.

  4. SQ: There's a pretty good Rooskie flick called "The Viy" (based on the story you mentioned) which while the movie starts slow, when the ghouls & demons show up: YOWZAH! N-flix used to have this movie, but not anymore...

    DW: Snuggies are the new binkeys! I bought one for The Missus--and it came with a reading light!

    MB: Welcome aboard! I had no idea you were a reader! The Hunger Game sounds interesting--reminds me of the Japanese flick Battle Royale and Stephen King's novella "The Long Walk."
    While I enjoy the sound of children crying as much as the next guy, I don't know if Punishment Park is for anyone under the age of, oh, 13--not especially when the National Guard is shooting at hippies...

  5. Oh, Ivan, I've been here a while. Just lurking.

    Yes, Hunger Games has been accused of stealing from BR. I liked BR way better (the movie anyway, haven't read it). You should read it, as it's about the bloodiest book I've seen so many 6th graders reading.

  6. MB:
    Lurkers alwayz welcome!

    Ivanlandia does not fear YA books! I'll keep an eye out for Hunger Games.

    And may I recommend the excellent YA book "After" by Francine Prose (it's about the imposition of the security state on our personal lives). Good, scary stuff.

  7. For the record, Punishment Park is fucking fantastic.

  8. Mark,
    Yeah, it is! It's also one of those flicks I wish I'd known about at Pomona; it definitely would've wound up on the film series schedule somehow. And Cannibal Holocaust, too.