Bill & Ted Face The Music

Bill & Ted Face the Music': Third Time's a Most Excellent Charm, Dude – Rolling Stone

Growing up, there were a handful of movies that I repeatedly came back to not only on my own, but with friends; Predator, T2, Wayne’s World, and the Bill And Ted series. Even in this age of any and all commodities, however barely remembered, being remade or franchised to further dilution, I never imagined I’d see a Bill & Ted sequel. Sure, we’d had the short lived animated series, and every few years we’d hear a rumour of a new script being proposed, but it seemed like the ship had sailed. No-one was interested in rock music any more, never mind movies about rock music, so why would anyone take a chance on releasing a movie which was barely marketable?

Yet here we are, decades later, with an older and somewhat wiser Bill and Ted tasked with saving the world, again. What’s more, the prophecies outlined in the previous movies didn’t really come to pass. Bill & Ted’s band had some success, but like most guitar bands of the era, they split up and are now seen has has-beens barely able to play in a bar to 20 people. They’re still married to their respective babes and they even have daughters, daughters who also aspire to being kick-ass musicians, but all is not rosy; there’s a chance their wives may leave and there’s a chance the world may end. Enter the daughter of Bill and Ted’s old pal Rufus, who takes the lads to the future where they learn that, if they don’t write the perfect song by that evening, all time and reality will collapse. Bad news. There is also a time-travelling Terminator robot sent to destroy them. Luckily, they have their own time machine to try to travel to potential futures to hear the song they haven’t written yet, while their daughters use another time machine to go back and recruit some of the greatest musicians of all time. It’s incredibly convoluted and seems ready to fall apart at any moment.

And yet, it works. It knows it’s silly and it leans into the ridiculousness of it all. It’s funny, it’s nostalgic, and most of the cast members from the originals return. It’s a bit of a shame that the music isn’t great and that they didn’t lean into how metal has changed in the years since the early 90s, but my overriding thought is that I was happy it even existed at all and that it isn’t crap. We still have plenty of modern bands and artists making an appearance, but the script is less interested in the name-dropping and culture surrounding the music. Reeves and Winter initially seem a little awkward in their roles, but this seems to shed over the course of the film and they eventually revel in it. The returning performers equally enjoy themselves, and most of the newcomers are fun too.

The film will likely be completely bewildering for any number of factors to anyone who has not seen the previous movies, but it was made for the fans and those fans should get plenty of enjoyment out of this belated sequel. Let us know what you think in the comments!

Nightman’s Updated Favourite Films Of 1984

Greetings, Glancers! We continue my new series of posts which will detail my favourite films of every year since 1950. Why 1950? Why 10? Why anything? Check out my original post here. As with most of these lists the numbering doesn’t really matter much, though in most cases the Number 1 will be my clear favourite. As I know there are plenty of Stats Nerds out there, I’ll add in some bonus crap at the bottom but the main purpose of these posts is to keep things short. So!

10: Ghostbusters (US)

Ghostbusters, unlike many 80s movies I enjoyed as a child, is one I’ve grown less fond of over the years. Conversely, it’s one which most people’s appreciation of grows with time. I think it’s because the focus on Bill Murray as the star isn’t as appealing to me. Nevertheless, it was a big part of my childhood and remains as invigorating and exciting as it ever was, to the extent that my two year old son has already watched and enjoyed it.

9: This Is Spinal Tap (US)

Being a fan of comedy and metal, and sometimes making music which is supposed to be funny, and being a film fan, it was only a matter of time being I got to This Is Spinal Tap. It’s one of many films I knew of and felt I had seen long before I ever had. Seeing it for the first time as an early teen meant I only focused on the surface jokes, but over the years its one whose humour both creeps and leaps off the screen to drum in some new piece of dialogue or visual gag I hadn’t picked up on before.

8: Starman (US)

As close to a ‘straight’ film as Carpenter will ever get, certainly as close to a simple romance, this tale of grief, bereavement, and recovery is enhanced by its sci-fi setting, its music, and its great lead pairing.

7: Beverly Hills Cop (US)

I used to have this argument with my brother – in which Beverly Hills Cop movie does Axl Foley come closest to dying. It’s these meaningless, years-spanning arguments which signify that a movie has become important to you. Here I am, thirty years later, still talking about it. It’s a fast, fun, funny, action packed movie with a great cast, score, and has that 80s nostalgia factor through the roof.

6: The Karate Kid (US)

What a wonder, what a joy it is that The Karate Kid series lives on today with the excellent Cobra Kai. That show is the prime example of how to continue an ancient franchise – it respects the originals and follows naturally. But this is where it all began, basically a remake of Rocky for a younger audience, it’s a film which speaks to any era even though its steeped in the decade in which it was born. A film which did more to make me want to pinch and kick bullies and get the girl more than any other.

5: Gremlins (US)

I’m surprised that I put this higher than The Karate Kid and would probably flip the two. Nevertheless, Gremlins is just as much a part of my childhood and is one of a handful of films which can be enjoyed both at Christmas, at Halloween, and at any time of the year. It works as a family movie, an action movie, a horror, a comedy, and is another example of that singular atmosphere and energy which 80s movies had which you don’t seem to find anymore.

4: Temple Of Doom (US)

My favourite Indiana Jones movie was one of my earliest cinematic exposure to the horror and blood’n’guts that I craved. The series dealt heavily in the mythology aspects of history which I was devouring in text form as a youngling, but Temple was the one which felt like it most fully embraced that side. It was a fantasy adjacent film which mixed horror and martial arts elements, while never sacrificing (pun intended?) the swashbuckling adventure, humour, romance, and charm which first catapulted the series into the skies.

3: Police Academy (US) (Top Ten Of All Time)

Covered in my Top Films Of The 80s post.

2: A Nightmare On Elm Street (US) (Top Ten Of All Time)

Covered in my Top Films Of The 80s post.

1: The Terminator (US) (Top Ten Of All Time)

Covered in my Top Films Of The 80s post.

Let us know your favourites in the comments!

The Nightman Scoring System (c) Music Review Master List!

Greetings, Glancers! I mentioned in my last post that I was going to go back and give my favourite albums, and anything else I’ve heard, the Get Rekt treatment. I completely forgot that when I’d been doing this for The Beatles that I was posting them under the Nightman Scoring System series instead. That works out nicely as it provides a neat differentiation between movies (Get Rekt) and music (Nightman Scoring System). Even though it’s basically the same approach – score using an unbiased system breaking a product into twenty equally weighted categories.

While it was easy to do this with movies, because I had already posted lists of my favourite movies of each year and had a ready-made master-list, I did not have anything similar for music. This post changes that. This post will similarly be updated with albums, scores, and links to reviews, the differences being that I’ll continue to update the music I review, and instead of going year by year, I’ll post alphabetically by artist. In the early days, there won’t be many artists, but as time goes on and my reviews batch up, you’ll see the array of artists expand.

If you’re interested in any of the artists and albums below, or my thoughts on them, please have a look around and share your own thoughts. Enjoy!

Bad Bunny – YHLQMDLG – 58

Biffy Clyro – A Celebration Of Endings – 63

Bob Dylan – Rough And Rowdy Ways – 64

Chloe X Halle – Ungodly Hour – 68

Code Orange – Underneath – 61

Deftones – Ohms – 60

Dua Lipa – Future Nostalgia – 74

Enter Shikari – Nothing Is True & Everything Is Possible – 57

Fiona Apple – Fetch The Bolt Cutters – 67

Ghostmane – Anti-Icon – 54

Jessie Ware – What’s Your Pleasure – 58

Lady Gaga – Chromatica – 74

Lil Baby – My Turn – 51

The Beatles – Please Please Me – 81

The Beatles – With The Beatles – 71

The Beatles – A Hard Day’s Night – 92

The Beatles – For Sale – 80

The Beatles – Help! – 93

The Beatles – Rubber Soul – 90

Nightman’s Favourite Movies – Critically Destroyed!

Rekt PNG Images, Free Transparent Rekt Download - KindPNG

*NOTE – Sometimes things get messy when you’re an unstructured mess like I am. The post below was written in advance of me posting my first Get Rekt movie post. But then I forgot to publish it, flying ahead with the series with no explanation. I’m rectifying (rektifying?) that now. So this is a slightly more pointless post than most stuff around here.

Greetings, Glancers! You’ve read it by now, right? My Nightman’s Scoring System (c) Movie Edition post? If you haven’t, click that link and start using it – bloggers, critics, movie reviewers – it’s a great system to employ if you absolutely must give a score in your movie reviews, much better than an arbitrary or random score out of 5, 10, or 100.

If you hang around my site more than is legally advised, chancers are you’ve had a juke at either my Favourite Movies By Year posts or my Beatles albums reviews. In the Beatles posts, I used the musical version of the Nightman Scoring System (c) to give a score. As I was brushing my teeth last night, I was thinking how to better advertise and use the Movie version in my posts and have decided to go through my Movies By Year posts and score those movies using the system. If I was going down the purely arbitrary route, I would simply assign a 5 out of 5, or 10 out of 10 to everyone one of those. That would be selfish and based mostly on personal preference, while I’m aware that quite a few of those films are not ‘good’ or deserving of such a score on a critical level.

But I’m curious to see how well these films do in terms of scoring, and how they rank against each other. Is Problem Child a better film than Police Academy 4? I have no idea, but we’ll find out. Twenty categories, each with a score out of five, each given as honest a consideration as I can provide while admittedly being a bias-tainted fanboy, totalled to tally a final result out of 100. It’s going to take a while, and I’ll probably give up long before the end, but I’m planning to give it a shot.

In writing my original yearly favourite movie posts, I started at 1950 and worked forwards and for my updated posts I started at 2010 and worked backwards. To spice things up for myself in this series, I think I’m going to start with the Number 10s of each year, starting with 1950, then circle back to the Number 9s until we get to the Number 1s. That way I won’t get bored looking at the same year for weeks on end. It would be swell if we had some audience participation too – give your own scores and we can compare. I know you won’t, but I can dream.

In all seriousness, this is mainly another case of my curiosity getting the better of me, leading to another series of posts no-one is going to care about. I have fun writing these things though, so it’s all good. As always, feel free to drop your input in the comments section and I’ll see you there!

Get Rekt – Future Music Review State!

Greetings, Glancers! It seems like I’m persisting with this whole Get Rekt/Nightman Scoring malarkey. You’ve likely seen my Get Rekt movie update – if you haven’t, click here. While I’ve already spent, some may say wasted, considerable time working my way through my favourite movies of all time and scoring those with my fair and unbiased system, I haven’t really done the same on the music side of things.

I’ve been examining this recently, and I’ve been considering writing my Favourite Albums Of Every Year Lists too, but I’ve been seriously struggling with those. I tend to absorb movies more easily than I do albums, even though I’ve loved music longer and with more passion. Whenever I try to make these lists for my favourite albums, they’re inevitably populated with the same small handful of artists, which makes it look like I have narrow tastes. Which couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s just that… I find it easier to call a film a favourite when it is flawed than I do with an album. If music is flawed, or not to my tastes, I probably won’t enjoy it. Certainly not enough to be so brazen as to put it in a so-called Favourites list. If a movie is flawed, I can still quite easily admire it for its technical ability and cultural significance, often enough to say it could, just maybe, squeeze, into one of my favourites lists. I’ll still vote for what I love over what I respect though.

So, if I can’t do a solid list of favourite albums by year like I did for films, I can’t really follow the same plan with Get Rekt. What can I do? Alphabetical? Still go year by year knowing that I may only have five albums instead of ten? Ignore favourites and just go Get Rekt on everything I’ve ever heard? That’s an option, and that’s what I’ve been doing with my 2020 series. I think that’s the way to go, that or I simply go artist by artist through my favourite artists. But that may be dull and repetitive, more so than usual around here.

That’s it, really. I didn’t come into this post with a conclusion in mind or a decision formed. And I still don’t. I just came into the post wanting to let you know that I want to, somehow, translate the Get Rekt format over to music, so that people can moan and grump and rage over the arbitrary scores I give albums. I’m not going to stick a list of albums here, like I did with the movie post. Not yet anyway. Instead, at some point in the future I’ll write a new post which I will plan to continually update as and when I write Get Rekt music reviews. So far, I’ve reviewed some of the (apparently) best albums of 2020 (which reminds me that I should probably do something similar for 2022 – fuck 2021, I guess), and I’ve updated some of my Beatles reviews with Get Rekt notes. I could go back and do retro Get Rekt updates for all of the Madonna, Bon Jovi, Roxette, Bryan Adams, David Bowie, and other artists I’ve regularly covered here too. I think I’ll do a mixture of that, and a mixture of my favourite albums. Won’t that me fun? Keeps me off the streets, I guess.

Get Rekt – A recap and future state

Greetings, Glancers! I’ve been publishing quite a lot of Get Rekt movie posts recently, and some of you have been reading and (hopefully) enjoying them. This post is to provide a recap on what Get Rekt is all about, and to present the films I have yet to cover. It’s not a roadmap or publishing schedule by any means, but rather a single place for anyone enjoying this series to check out the full list of films I’m covering, what I’ve done, and what’s to come.

First off, here’s a link to the original post explaining why I’m doing all this, and what the different categories are. The short version is that I don’t usually score whatever I review, but I decided I wanted to explore how good or bad I feel my favourite movies are by removing as much bias as I can, and by giving a score out of five for twenty categories I feel are important in film. I can’t just give 5s across the board, because I have to use real, honest data along with valuable opinion. I can’t give a score of five in a category of Sales to a movie which was a complete flop, as much as you can’t give a score of 1 for Performances to a film where the cast won Oscars for their performances.

The list of films I’m using this system for are my favourite films of each year, going back to 1950. In most cases it’s 10 films per year, but in a few others the total could reach 20. To keep things interesting, I’m starting from the bottom of each year, and moving from the first year in each decade to the next in each post, then back around. That means my 10th favourite film of 1950 would be first, then my 10th favourite of 1960, tenth of 1970, 80, 90, and 2000s, then back around to my 10th favourite of 1951, 61, 71 etc.

Here is the full list, by year, with links to the published posts:

1950

10: Les Enfants Terribles (France)

9: Outrage (USA)

8: Panic In The Streets (USA)

7: Gun Crazy (USA)

6: Winchester 73 (USA)

5: Rio Grande (USA)

4: Stage Fright (GB)

3: Cinderella (USA)

2: All About Eve (USA)

1: Rashomon (Japan)

1951

10: Scrooge (UK)

9: Fourteen Hours (USA)

8: The Prowler (USA)

7: Quo Vadis (USA)

6: The Lavender Hill Mob (UK)

5: The Idiot (Japan)

4: The African Queen (UK/USA)

3: A Streetcar Named Desire (USA)

2: The Thing From Another World (USA)

1: Strangers On A Train (USA)

1952

10: Flesh And Fury (USA)

9: Bend Of The River (USA)

8: Monkey Business (USA)

7: The Steel Trap (USA)

6: Viva Zapata (USA)

5: Forbidden Games (France)

4: The Greatest Show On Earth (USA)

3: The Prisoner Of Zenda (USA)

2: High Noon (USA)

1: Ikiru (Japan)

1953

10: Peter Pan (US)

9: Fear And Desire (US)

8: Stalag 17 (US)

7: Tokyo Story (Japan)

6: I Confess (US/Canada)

5: The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms (US)

4: From Here To Eternity (US)

3: The Hitch-hiker (US)

2: The Big Heat (US)

1: The Wild One (US)

1954

10: Sabrina (USA)

9: The Caine Mutiny (USA)

8: La Strada (Italy)

7: Hell And High Water (USA)

6: 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea (USA)

5: On The Waterfront (USA)

4: Godzilla (Japan)

3: Dial M For Murder (USA)

2: Rear Window (USA)

1: Seven Samurai (Japan)

1955

10: The Ladykillers (UK)

9: I Live In Fear (Japan)

8: Lady And The Tramp (USA)

7: Les Diaboliques (France)

6: The Colditz Story (UK)

5: East Of Eden (USA)

4: Bad Day At Black Rock (USA)

3: The Night Of The Hunter (USA)

2: Marty (USA)

1: Rebel Without A Cause (USA)

1956

10: Crime in The Streets (USA)

9: The Ten Commandments (USA)

8: The Killing (USA)

7: I Vampiri (Italy)

6: The Wrong Man (USA)

5: The Searchers (USA)

4: Giant (USA)

3: The Bad Seed (USA)

2: The Man Who Knew Too Much (USA)

1: Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (USA)

1957

10: Sayonara (USA)

9: 20 Million Miles To Earth (USA)

8: Funny Face (USA)

7: The Lower Depths (Japan)

6: The Bridge On The River Kwai (UK/USA)

5: The Seventh Seal (Sweden)

4: Paths Of Glory (USA)

3: Night Of The Demon (UK)

2: 12 Angry Men (USA)

1: Throne Of Blood (Japan)

1958

10: Thunder Road (USA)

9: The Blob (USA)

8: The Vikings (USA)

7: The Defiant Ones (USA)

6: The Magician (Sweden)

5: The Hidden Fortress (Japan)

4: The 7th Voyage Of Sinbad (USA)

3: Touch Of Evil (USA)

2: Dracula (UK)

1: Vertigo (USA)

1959

10: The Diary Of Anne Frank (USA)

9: The Hound Of The Baskervilles (UK)

8: Anatomy of A Murder (USA)

7: The House On Haunted Hill (USA)

6: On The Beach (USA)

5: The 400 Blows (France)

4: Rio Bravo (USA)

3: Ben Hur (USA)

2: Sleeping Beauty (USA)

1: North By Northwest (USA)

1960

10: Village Of The Damned (UK)

9: Eyes Without A Face (France)

8: The Apartment (USA)

7: Jigoku (Japan)

6: La Dolce Vita (Italy)

5: Breathless (France)

4: Spartacus (USA)

3: Peeping Tom (UK)

2: Psycho (USA)

1: The Magnificent Seven (USA)

1961

10: The Young Ones (UK)

9: Judgement At Nuremberg (USA)

8: One Eyed Jacks (USA)

7: The Day The Earth Caught Fire (UK)

6: Breakfast At Tiffany’s (USA)

5: The Innocents (UK)

4: One Hundred And One Dalmations (US)

3: The Hustler (US)

2: The Guns Of Navarone (UK/US)

1: Yojimbo (Japan)

1962

10: Carnival Of Souls (USA)

9: Lawrence Of Arabia (USA/UK)

8: To Kill A Mockingird (USA)

7: The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (USA)

6: The Longest Day (USA)

5: What Ever Happened To Baby Jane? (USA)

4: Sanjuro (Japan)

3: Lolita (UK/USA)

2: Cape Fear (USA)

1: Dr No (UK)

1963

10: Dementia 13 (USA)

9: The Pink Panther (USA)

8: 8 1/2 (Italy/France)

7: The Sword In The Stone (USA)

6: Cleopatra (USA)

5: The Haunting (UK)

4: From Russia With Love (UK)

3: Jason And The Argonauts (UK/USA)

2: The Birds (USA)

1: The Great Escape (USA)

1964

10: Marriage, Italian Style (Italy)

9: Woman In The Dunes (Japan)

8: Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte (USA)

7:  A Hard Day’s Night (UK)

6: Seance On A Wet Afternoon (UK)

5: Dr. Strangelove (UK/USA)

4: Kwaidan (Japan)

3: Zulu (UK)

2: A Fistful Of Dollars (Italy/Germany/Spain)

1: Goldfinger (UK)

1965

10: A Patch Of Blue (USA)

9: Faster Pussycat Kill Kill (USA)

8: The Flight Of The Phoenix (USA)

7: Alphaville (France)

6: Von Ryan’s Express (USA)

5: The Cincinnati Kid (USA)

4: The Ipcress File (UK)

3: Thunderball (UK)

2: Repulsion (UK)

1: For A Few Dollars More (Italy/Germany/Spain)

1966

10: Carry On Screaming (UK)

9: Born Free (UK)

8: Alfie (UK)

7: The Professionals (US)

6: Blowup (UK/US/Italy)

5: One Million BC (UK)

4: Dracula, Prince Of Darkness (UK)

3: The Battle of Algiers (Italy/Algeria)

2: Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf? (USA)

1: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly (Italy/Germany/Spain/US)

1967

10: Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner (USA)

9: The Fearless Vampire Killers (USA)

8: In The Heat of The Night (USA)

7: Bonnie And Clyde (USA)

6: The Graduate (USA)

5: Cool Hand Luke (USA)

4: Wait Until Dark (USA)

3: The Dirty Dozen (USA)

2: The Jungle Book (USA)

1: You Only Live Twice (UK)

1968

10: Barbarella (France/Italy)

9: Hell In The Pacific (USA)

8: If (UK)

7: The Producers (USA)

6: Planet Of The Apes (USA)

5: 2001 A Space Odyssey (UK/USA)

4: Bullitt (USA)

3: Rosemary’s Baby (USA)

2: Once Upon A Time In The West (Italy/USA/Spain)

1: Night Of The Living Dead (USA)

1969

10: Carry On Camping (UK)

9: The Damned (Italy/Germany)

8: They Shoot Horses Don’t They (USA)

7: Marlowe (USA)

6: Easy Rider (USA)

5: Midnight Cowboy (USA)

4: The Italian Job (UK)

3: On Her Majesty’s Secret Service (UK)

2: Butch Cassidy And The Sundance Kid (USA)

1: The Wild Bunch (USA)

1970

10: Woodstock (USA)

9: Zabriskie Point (USA)

8: MASH (USA)

7: Brewster McCloud (USA)

6: The Conformist (Italy/France/Germany)

5: Joe (USA)

4: The Bird With The Crystal Plumage (Italy/Germany)

3: Patton (USA)

2: Five Easy Pieces (USA)

1: Kelly’s Heroes (USA)

1971

10: Vanishing Point (USA)

9: McCabe And Mrs Miller (USA)

8: Walkabout (UK/OZ)

7: Straw Dogs (US/UK)

6: The French Connection (USA)

5: Get Carter (UK)

4: Dirty Harry (USA)

3: Willy Wonka And The Chocolate Factory (USA)

2: The Big Boss (HK/Thailand)

1: A Clockwork Orange (USA/UK)

1972

10: Silent Running (US)

9: Last Tango In Paris (France/Italy)

8: The Getaway (US)

7: Asylum (UK)

6: Deliverance (US)

5: Game Of Death (HK)

4: The Last House On The Left (US)

3: Fist Of Fury (HK)

2: Way Of The Dragon (HK)

1: The Godfather (US)

1973

10: Badlands (US)

9: Robin Hood (US)

8: High Plains Drifter (US)

7: Mean Streets (US)

6: Serpico (US)

5: Don’t Look Now (UK/Italy)

4: The Wicker Man (UK)

3: The Exorcist (US)

2: Enter The Dragon (HK/US)

1: Live And Let Die (UK)

1974

10: Black Christmas (CAN)

9: Stone (OZ)

8: Blazing Saddles (US)

7: Death Wish (US)

6: Chinatown (US)

5: Young Frankenstein (US)

4: The Golden Voyage Of Sinbad (UK)

3: The Man With The Golden Gun (UK)

2: The Godfather Part 2 (US)

1: The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (US)

1975

10: Nashville (US)

9: Barry Lyndon (UK/US)

8: Picnic At Hanging Rock (OZ)

7: Hard Times (US)

6: Deep Red (Italy)

5: The Land That Time Forgot (UK/US)

4: Monty Python And The Holy Grail (UK)

3: Dog Day Afternoon (US)

2: One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest (US)

1: Jaws (US)

1976

10: All The President’s Men (USA)

9: Network (USA)

8: Silver Streak (USA)

7: The Outlaw Josey Wales (USA)

6: Logan’s Run (USA)

5: Carrie (USA)

4: Taxi Driver (USA)

3: The Omen (USA)

2: Rocky (USA)

1: Assault On Precinct 13 (USA)

1977

10: Hausu (Japan)

9: Rabid (Canada/USA)

8: Sorcerer (USA)

7: Soldier Of Orange (Netherlands)

6: Close Encounters Of The Third Kind (USA)

5: Martin (USA)

4: Eraserhead (USA)

3: Suspiria (Italy)

2: The Spy Who Loved Me (UK)

1: Star Wars Episode IV (USA)

1978

10: Eyes of Laura Mars (USA)

9: Midnight Express (USA)

8: Big Wednesday (USA)

7: Jaws 2 (USA)

6: Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (USA)

5: The Deer Hunter (USA)

4: Superman (USA/UK/Switz/Panama)

3: The Driver (USA)

2: Halloween (USA)

1: Dawn Of The Dead (USA)

1979

10: Escape From Alcatraz (US)

9: Escape To Athena (UK)

8: Life Of Brian (UK)

7: Zombie Flesh Eaters (Italy)

6: Quadrophenia (UK)

5: Rocky II (US)

4: Apocalypse Now (US)

3: The Warriors (US)

2: Mad Max (AUS)

1: Alien (UK/US)

1980

10: The Big Red One (US) Sam Fuller

9: Cannibal Holocaust (Italy)

8: Kagemusha (Japan)

7: The Watcher In The Woods (US/UK)

6: The Elephant Man (US)

5: Raging Bull (US)

4: The Blues Brothers (US)

3: The Shining (US)

2: The Fog (US)

1: The Empire Strikes Back (US)

1981

10: Escape To Victory (UK/US)

9: The Entity (US)

8: Scanners (Canada)

7: Clash Of The Titans (UK/US)

6: The Evil Dead (US)

5: Escape From New York (US)

4: An American Werewolf In London (UK/US)

3: For Your Eyes Only (UK)

2: Raiders Of The Lost Ark (US)

1: The Road Warrior (AUS)

1982

10: Q (US)

9: The Wall (UK)

8: Poltergeist (US)

7: Creepshow (US)

6: 48 Hours (US)

5: Blade Runner (US)

4: Rocky 3 (US)

3: First Blood (US)

2: The Thing (US)

1: Conan The Barbarian (US)

1983

10: Project A (HK)

9: The Hunger (UK/US)

8: The Dead Zone (US)

7: Le Dernier Combat (France)

6: Blue Thunder (US)

5: Rumble Fish (US)

4: The Outsiders (US)

3: Videodrome (Canada)

2: Scarface (US)

1: Return Of The Jedi (US)

1984

10: Ghostbusters (US)

9: This Is Spinal Tap (US)

8: Starman (US)

7: Beverly Hills Cop (US)

6: The Karate Kid (US)

5: Gremlins (US)

4: Temple Of Doom (US)

3: Police Academy (US)

2: A Nightmare On Elm Street (US)

1: The Terminator (US)

1985

10: A View To A Kill (UK)

9: Return To Oz (US/UK)

8: Brewster’s Millions (US)

7: Rocky IV (US)

6: Police Academy 2 (US)

5: First Blood Part 2 (US)

4: Day Of The Dead (US)

3: The Goonies (US)

2: Back To The Future (US)

1:  Commando (US)

1986

10: Highlander (UK/US)

9: Stand By Me (US)

8: A Better Tomorrow (HK)

7: Blue Velvet (US)

6: Platoon (US)

5: Police Academy 3 (US)

4: The Fly (US)

3: The Hitcher (US)

2: Big Trouble In Little China (US)

1: Aliens (US)

1987

20: A Chinese Ghost Story (HK)

19: Withnail And I (UK)

18: City On Fire (HK)

17: Planes, Trains, And Automobiles (US)

16: Good Morning, Vietnam (US)

15: The Princess Bride (US)

14: The Living Daylights (UK)

13: Lethal Weapon (US)

12: Full Metal Jacket (US/UK)

11: Evil Dead 2 (US)

10: The Untouchables (US)

9: Hellraiser (UK)

8: The Running Man (US)

7: Dream Warriors (US)

6: Citizens On Patrol (US)

5: Prince Of Darkness (US)

4: Near Dark (US)

3: The Lost Boys (US)

2: Predator (US)

1: Robocop (US)

1988

10: They Live (US)

9: Hellraiser 2 (US/UK)

8: Bloodsport (US)

7: Akira (Japan)

6: Twins (US)

5: Young Guns (US)

4: Heathers (US)

3: Willow (US)

2: Die Hard (US)

1: Beetlejuice. (US)

1989

10: The Killer (HK)

9: Uncle Buck (US)

8: Born On The Fourth Of July (US)

7: Kiki’s Delivery Service (Japan)

6: See No Evil, Hear No Evil (US)

5: Licence To Kill (US/UK)

4: Pet Sematary (US)

3: Back To The Future Part II  (US)

2: Bill And Ted’s Excellent Adventure (US)

1: Batman (US)

1990

20: Boiling Point (Japan) Takeshi Kitano

19: La Femme Nikita (France) Luc Besson

18: The Witches (UK/US) Nicholas Roeg

17: Dances With Wolves (US) Kevin Costner

16: Awakenings (US) Penny Marshall

15: The Godfather Part 3 (US) Francis Ford Coppolla

14: Ghost (US) Jerry Zucker

13: Another 48 Hours (US) Walter Hill

12: Misery (US) Rob Reiner

11: Arachnophobia (US) Frank Marshall

10: Kindergarten Cop (US) Ivan Reitman

9: Young Guns II (US) Geoff Murphy

8: Mermaids (US) Richard Benjamin

7: Tremors (US) Ron Underwood

6: Wild At Heart (US) David Lynch

5: Total Recall (US) Paul Verhoeven

4: Home Alone (US) Chris Columbus

3: Goodfellas (US) Martin Scorsese

2: Problem Child (US) Dennis Dugan

1: Edward Scissorhands (US) Tim Burton

1991

10: Drop Dead Fred (US/UK) Ate De Jong

9: Double Impact (US) Sheldon Lettich

8: The Doors (US) Oliver Stone

7: Bill And Ted’s Bogus Journey (US) Pete Hewitt

6: Thelma And Louise (US) Ridley Scott

5: Robin Hood Prince Of Thieves (US) Kevin Reynolds

4: Don’t Tell Mom The Babysitter’s Dead (US) Stephen Herek

3: The Last Boy Scout (US) Tony Scott

2: Beauty And The Beast (US) Disney

1: Terminator 2 (Top Ten Of All Time) (US) James Cameron

1992

10: Aladdin (US) Disney

9: Universal Soldier (US) Roland Emmerich

8: Bram Stoker’s Dracula (US) Francis Ford Coppola

7: Candyman (US) Bernard Rose

6: My Cousin Vinny (US) Jonathan Lynn

5: Wayne’s World (US) Penelope Spheeris

4: Braindead (NZ) Peter Jackson

3: Reservoir Dogs (US) Quentin Tarantino

2: Fire Walk With Me (US) David Lynch

1: Hard Boiled (HK) John Woo

1993

17: Falling Down (US/France/UK) Joel Schumacher

16: Mrs Doubtfire (US) Chris Columbus

15: Schindler’s List (US) Steven Spielberg

14: What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (US) Lasse Hallstrom

13: Cliffhanger (US/France/Italy) Renny Harlin

12: Benny And Joon (US) Jeremiah S Chechik

11: Dazed And Confused (US) Richard Linklater

10: The Vanishing (US) George Sluizer

9: Carlito’s Way (US) Brian De Palma

8: The Nightmare Before Christmas (US) Henry Selick

7: A Perfect World (US) Clint Eastwood

6: Demolition Man (US) Marco Brambilla

5: Last Action Hero (US) John McTiernan

4: Body Snatchers (US) Abel Ferrara

3: True Romance (US) Tony Scott

2: Tombstone (US) George P Cosmatos

1: Jurassic Park (US) Steven Spielberg

1994

20: Little Women (US) Gilliam Armstrong

19: Ace Ventura (US) Tom Shadyac

18: The Mask (US) Charles Russell

17: Stargate (US/France) Roland Emmerich

16: Forrest Gump (US) Robert Zemeckis

15: The Lion King (US Disney)

14: Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein (US/Japan) Kenneth Branagh

13: Timecop (US) Peter Hyams

12: The Shawshank Redemption (US) Frank Darabont

11: Ed Wood (US) Tim Burton

10: Natural Born Killers (US) Oliver Stone

9: Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (US) Wes Craven

8: Clerks (US) Kevin Smith

7: True Lies (US) James Cameron

6: Speed (US) Jan de Bont

5: Pulp Fiction (US) Quentin Tarantino

4: Interview With The Vampire (US) Neil Jordan

3: Leon (France) Luc Besson

2: The Crow (US) Alex Proyas

1: Dumb And Dumber (US)

1995

20: Braveheart (US) Mel Gibson

19: Casino (US) Martin Scorsese

18: Casper (US) Brad Silberling

17: Jumanji (US) Joe Johnston

16: Dangerous Minds (US) John N Smith

15: Strange Days (US) Kathryn Bigelow

14: In The Mouth Of Madness (US) John Carpenter

13: The Last Supper (US) Stacy Title

12: Kids (US) Larry Clark

11: Pocahontas (US) Disney

10: Mortal Kombat (US) Paul W S Anderson

9: Now And Then (US) Lesli Linka Glatter

8: The Doom Generation (US/France) Gregg Araki

7: La Haine (France) Mathieu Kassovitz

6: Die Hard With A Vengeance (US) John McTiernan

5: Heat (US) Michael Mann

4: Mallrats (US) Kevin Smith

3: Desperado (US) Robert Rodriguez

2: Goldeneye (UK) Martin Campbell

1: Things To In Denver When You’re Dead (US)

1996

10: Crash (UK/Canada) David Cronenberg

9: Fly Away Home (Canada/US/NZ) Carroll Ballard

8: Trainspotting (UK) Danny Boyle

7: Breaking The Waves (Denmark) Lars Von Trier

6: The Long Kiss Goodnight (US) Renny Harlin

5: The Craft (US) Andrew Fleming

4: Beavis And Butthead Do America (US) Mike Judge

3: Broken Arrow (US) John Woo

2: From Dusk Till Dawn (US) Robert Rodriguez

1: Scream (US) Wes Craven

1997

20: The Ice Storm (US) Ang Lee

19: Boogie Nights (US) Paul Thomas Anderson

18:  LA Confidential (US) Curtis Hanson

17: Cube (Canada) Vincenzo Natali

16: Princess Mononoke (Japan) Hiyao Miyazaki

15: Grosse Point Blank (US) George Armitage

14: The Postman (US) Kevin Costner

13: Con Air (US) Simon West

12: The Game (US) David Fincher

11: I Know What You Did Last Summer (US) Jim Gillespie

10: Face/Off (US) John Woo

9: Liar Liar (US) Tom Shadyac

8: Life Is Beautiful (Italy) Robert Benigni

7: The Devil’s Advocate (US) Taylor Hackford

6: Donnie Brasco (US) Mike Newell

5: Chasing Amy (US) Kevin Smith

4: Lost Highway (US/France) David Lynch

3: Cop Land (US) James Mangold

2: Starship Troopers (US) Paul Verhoeven

1: The Fifth Element (France) Luc Besson

1998

10: Wild Things (US) John McNaughton

9: The Truman Show (US) Peter Weir

8: Dark City (US/OZ) Alex Proyas

7: Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas (US) Terry Gilliam

6: Saving Private Ryan (US) Steven Spielberg

5: What Dreams May Come (US) Vincent Ward

4: Fallen (US) Gregory Hoblit

3: Blade (US) Stephen Norrington

2: Ronin (US) John Frankenheimer

1: Ringu (Japan) Hideo Nakata

1999

20: The Sixth Sense (US) M Night Shyamalan

19: Girl, Interrupted (US) James Mangold

18: The Green Mile (US) Frank Darabont

17: Shiri (SK) Kang je Gyu

16: The Iron Giant (US) Brad Bird

15: American Pie (US) Paul Weitz, Chris Weitz

14: Existenz (Canada/UK/France) David Cronenberg

13: Ghost Dog (US/France/Germany/Japan) Jim Jarmusch

12: Music Of The Heart (US) Wes Craven

11: Office Space (US) Mike Judge

10: The Mummy (US) Stephen Sommers

9: Fight Club (US/Germany) David Fincher

8: Man On The Moon (US) Milos Forman

7: Dogma (US) Kevin Smith

6: End Of Days (US) Peter Hyams

5: Audition (Japan) Takashi Miike

4: South Park (US) Trey Parker

3: The Matrix (US/OZ) The Wachowski Brothers

2: The Blair Witch Project (US) Daniel Myrick Eduardo Sanchez

1: Bangkok Dangerous (Thailand) The Pang Brothers

2000

10: Almost Famous. (USA) Cameron Crowe.

9: Gladiator (USA/UK). Ridley Scott.

8: Best In Show (USA). Christopher Guest.

7: Dancer in The Dark (Denmark). Lars Von Trier.

6: Unbreakable (USA). M Night Shyamalan

5: Pitch Black (USA). David Twohy

4: X-Men (USA). Bryan Singer

3: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (China/HK/Taiwan/USA). Ang Lee.

2: Final Destination (USA). James Wong

1: Battle Royale (Japan). Kinji Fukasaku

2001

10: The Majestic (US) Frank Darabont

9: Ichi The Killer (Japan) Takashi Miike

8: Session 9 (US) Brad Anderson

7: The Mummy Returns (US) Stephen Sommers

6: Frailty (US/Germany/Italy) Bill Paxton

5: Bully (US) Larry Clark

4: Visitor Q (Japan) Takashi Miike

3: Mulholland Drive (US/France) David Lynch

2: The Fellowship Of The Ring (NZ/US): Peter Jackson

1: Amelie (France/Germany) Jean Pierre Jeunet

2002

10: City Of God (Brazil) Fernando Meirelles

9: Equilibrium (US) Kurt Wimmer

8: Hero (China) Zhang Yimou

7: Infernal Affairs (HK) Andrew Lau/Alan Mak

6: The Pianist (France/Germany/Poland/UK) Roman Polanski

5: Dark Water (Japan) Hideo Nakata

4: The Eye (HK/Singapore) The Pang Brothers

3: The Twilight Samurai (Japan) Yoji Yamada

2: 28 Days Later (UK) Danny Boyle

1: Sympathy For Mr Vengeance (SK) Chan Wook Park

2003

10: The Dreamers (UK/US/France/Italy) Bernardo Bertolucci

9: Underworld (US/UK/Hungary/Germany) Len Wiseman

8: Kill Bill Vol 1 (US) Quentin Tarantino

7: A Mighty Wind (US) Christopher Guest

6: The Curse of The Black Pearl (US) Gore Verbinski

5: Zatoichi (Japan) Takeshi Kitano

5. Oldboy (SK) Chan Wook Park

4: A Tale Of Two Sisters (SK) Kim Jee Woon

3: Ju On (Japan) Takashi Shimizu

2: The Return Of The King (NZ/US) Peter Jackson

1: X2 (US) Bryan Singer

2004

10: District 13 (France) Pierre Morel

9: A Very Long Engagement (France) Jean Pierre Jeunet

8: R-Point (SK) Kong Su Chang

7: Shaun Of The Dead (UK/US/France) Edgar Wright

6: Spider-Man 2 (US) Sam Raimi

5: House Of Flying Daggers (China/HK) Zhang Yimou

4: Saw (US) James Wan

3: The Grudge (US) Takashi Shimizu

2: Kill Bill Volume 2 (US) Quentin Tarantino

1: Dawn Of The Dead (US) Zach Snyder

2005

10: Land Of The Dead (US) George A Romero

9: Hostel (US) Eli Roth

8: A Bittersweet Life (SK) Kim Jee Woon

7: Sympathy For Lady Vengeance (SK) Chan Wook Park

6: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (US) Shane Black

5: The Descent (UK) Neil Marshall

4: The 40 Year Old Virgin (US) Judd Apatow

3: Revenge Of The Sith (US) George Lucas

2: Sin City (US) Frank Miller/Robert Rodriguez/Quentin Tarantino

1: Batman Begins (US/UK) Christopher Nolan

2006

10: Paprika (Japan) Satoshi Kon

9: The Host (SK) Joon-ho Bong

8: Death Note (Japan) Shusuke Kaneko

7: Idiocracy (US) Mike Judge

6: Children Of Men (US/UK) Alfonso Cuaron/Pan’s Labyrinth Guillermo Del Toro.

5: The Hills Have Eyes (US) Alexandre Aja

4: The Departed (US) Martin Scorsese

3: Apocalypto (US/Mexico) Mel Gibson

2: Borat (US/UK) Larry Charles

1: Casino Royale (US/UK/Czech/Germany) Martin Campbell

2007

10: Black Snake Moan (US) Craig Brewer

9: Sweeny Todd (US/UK) Tim Burton

8: Grindhouse (US) Robert Rodriguez/Quentin Tarantino

7: Angel-A (France) Luc Besson

6: 30 Days Of Night (US) David Slade

5: Paranormal Activity (US) Oren Peli

4: 28 Weeks Later (UK/Spain) Juan Carlos Fresnadillo

3: The Mist (US) Frank Darabont

2: Enchanted (US) Kevin Lima

1: Rec (Spain) Jaume Balaguero/Paco Plaza

2008

10: Johnny Mad Dog (France/Liberia) Jean-Stephane Sauvaire

9: Pontypool (Canada) Bruce McDonald

8: Cloverfield (US) Matt Reeves

7: Rambo (US/Thailand) Sylvester Stallone

6: Ip Man (HK) Wilson Yip

5: Let The Right One In (Sweden) Tomas Alfredson

4: Departures (Japan) Yojiro Takita

3: Martyrs (France) Pascal Laugier

2: The Dark Knight (US/UK) Christopher Nolan

1: Love Exposure (Japan) Sion Sono

2009

10: Dead Snow (Norway) Tommy Wirkola

9: The Princess And The Frog (US) Disney

8: Micmacs (France) Jean Pierre Jeunet

7: Jennifer’s Body (US) Karyn Kusama

6: Antichrist (Denmark/France/Germany/Italy/Poland/Sweden) Lars Von Trier

5: Trick R Treat (US/Canada) Michael Dougherty

4: Triangle (UK/OZ) Christopher Smith

3: Inglourious Basterds (US/Germany) Quentin Tarantino

2: Drag Me To Hell (US) Sam Raimi

1: Orphan (US/Canada/Germany/France) Jaume Collet Serra

2010

11. Inception

10. Kick-ass

9. The Expendables

8. Kaboom!

7. Tangled

6. Ip Man 2

5. The Last Exorcism

4. Bedevilled

3. Stake Land

2. Paranormal Activity 2

  1. I Saw The Devil

Enjoy!

TTT – Top Ten Paul Verhoeven Movies!

Paul Verhoeven filming Benedetta - Cineuropa

Paul Verhoeven was one of my favourite directors before I knew what a director was. Thanks to a spell of hits which I watched a lot in my youth, he was one of the first Directors whose name I knew and whose films I would hunt down. I admit I was always disappointed that the films I found weren’t outlandish, bloody action movies like the ones I loved, but when I got more into my teen years and became a more dedicated film lover I found a new appreciation for all of his work.

I think the best terms to use to describe Verhoeven’s work are ‘sleazy’, ‘controversial’, and ‘over the top’. Even in his early work pre-Hollywood, there was a dedication to depicting violence and sex in certain ways, blown out of all proportion once he landed in the US, but there has always been a tongue in cheek approach to it all which many critics have outright missed if not denied or dismissed. He has of course had more streamlined, subtle films but even those use action or violence or satire in a certain fashion.

10. Hollow Man.

One of the many revisions of The Invisible Man which has appeared over the years, this one took the 90s Blockbuster approach, merging horror, action, nifty effects and make-up, and dollops of sleaze. It’s an inevitably voyeuristic film which was a hefty success and basically allows Kevin Bacon to go Terminator on everyone, while occasionally stopping to have a spy at ladies getting undressed. If that sounds like your sort of thing, and it absolutely should, give it a go.

9. Basic Instinct.

Verhoeven took soft-core porn, sleazy thrillers, bedroom aerobics, and crazy white lady films to new artistic heights with Basic Instinct. Underneath all the iconic uncrossing of legs and gyrating searches for ice picks, it’s a sweaty, up close, ice cool thriller which shook suburbia and allowed all of our dirty secrets to bubble up to the surface. It’s silly, it’s Sweat Noir, and it made a star out of Sharon Stone. Basically every 90s softcore movie took its inspiration from this.

8. Flesh And Blood

Flesh And Blood is a film which never found its audience, yet it’s clearly ripe for re-evaluation now as a cult film. This should be streaming everywhere – it’s 80s, a mix of action, history, and romance. It’s stars Rutger Hauer. Jennifer Jason Leigh is the love interest. It was shot be Jan De Bont. The score is by Basil Poledouris. It has the Orion seal of quality. The plot is all over the place and you half expect it to be a swords and sorcery movie – it’s not, but it is a lot of fun for those viewers always on the lookout for a forgotten 80s movie.

7. Spetters

This was the first non-US Verhoeven movie I saw, having read reviews of it in some Must See European Cinema book I had in my teens. It mentioned motorcycles, graphic violence – that was really all I needed at the time. Even in the liberal Netherlands, the film was controversial enough to cement Verhoeven’s desire to head to the US where he could explore different types of movies, and the film’s notoriety led in some part to helping Rutger Hauer and Jeroen Krabbe become more established worldwide. It’s somewhat similar to something like Y To Mama Tambien, a coming of age of sorts as three young men encounter a sexually aggressive woman who wants escape as much as they do. It’s an uncomfortable watch, not necessarily due to the sex and violence, but due to the depictions of masculinity which may be too close for comfort even now.

6. Elle

He doesn’t make very many movies any more, hardly a surprise given his advanced years, but when he does they always make an impact. One of Verhoeven’s gifts has always been in finding a strong female lead and getting a powerful performance out of them. That, and never shying away from tackling or courting controversy head on. In Elle it’s rape which takes centre stage, and one woman’s reaction to her ordeal. That woman is Isabelle Huppert, giving a performance which saw her receive a deserved Academy nomination. The film tows the line between disturbing and funny, and while it may be advertised as a rape revenge thriller, it’s not as seedy or horrible as those movies tend to be, instead finding Verhoeven using the subject and character to examine triumph. Nothing is ever as it seems in a Verhoeven film and Elle is no different.

5. Soldier Of Orange

The first of several War films Verhoeven made, this saw him become a huge name in his home and made the rest of the world aware of his abilities. It’s one of his most grounded films and one of those great coming of age type war movies which follows a group of friends pre, during, and post-war. It’s a great gateway movie into European cinema because it will be familiar to fans of films such as The Deer Hunter and it has a few familiar faces to not make the transition from US to non-US so alien.

4. Black Book

One of the finest all round movies of the 21st Century. I’ve written about it elsewhere on the blog, but it’s another WWII based drama which sees The Red Woman working as a Resistance Spy in the midst of Nazi horrors, a mature and twisting film largely free from the usual Satire and cynicism which put many people off Verhoeven’s films.

3. Starship Troopers

One of the most bonkers, all out fun movies of the 90s – it pits muscle-bound grunts against big-ass bugs in a giant space war. Great effects, hilarious violence, top notch action, all topped off by a memorable score and tonnes of one-liners. It feels like Robocop 2.0. 

2. Total Recall

Arnie. Verhoeven. Ironside. Cox Stone. Mars. Aliens with three breasts. If I’m not me, then who the hell am I? Get ready for a surprise!

  1. Robocop

Arguably the greatest movie ever made. Unquestionably the most quotable. It’s in my personal Top Five movies of all time. It’s flawless in my eyes. If Verhoeven had only ever made this movie, he would be a legend – thankfully he made all of the others above, and a few more besides.

Let us know your Top Ten Verhoeven movies in the comments below!

Ranking The Led Zep Songs – Led Zep IV!

While undoubtedly one of the greatest albums of all time, this has become maybe the Led Zep album which has dropped most in my own estimation. I was obsessed with it but I almost never listen to it now, and when I do I skip more songs than I listen to. I’m just too familiar with it, and possibly sick of it. Outside of the Top Two, I struggle to listen to the others, even as I still recognise their perfection.

  1. Stairway To Heaven
  2. Going To California
  3. Black Dog
  4. Rock And Roll
  5. Four Sticks
  6. Misty Mountain Hop
  7. The Battle Of Evermore
  8. When The Levee Breaks

Let us know your ranking in the comments!

Ranking The Alice Cooper Albums!

Alice Cooper | Rhino

Greetings, Glancers! For someone as influential on my life as a music fan, as a horror fan, and as an occasional writer as Alice Cooper has been, he’s not someone who comes up frequently on my blog. I don’t have many definitive influences on my lyrical approach (at least back when I wrote lyrics), but Alice Cooper is one of them. Cooper, Edwards and Wire, Cobain… nobody comes close to them. Alice Cooper is an incredibly underrated lyricist, songwriter, singer, performer, and both as a solo act and as a band his works have left an indelible mark on music for the last 60 years or so. It’s not just the Shock Rock stuff. You can make a case for Cooper inventing Metal, Punk, Grunge, for pushing Prog into new directions, he has changed his skin as many times as those who are more recognized for it – Bowie and Madonna spring to mind – but he has retained the core of who he is as an icon; a boundary pushing, genre transcending provocateur with a wit rarely so evocatively presented in music, and with a knack for writing anthems skirting the borders of the zeitgeist to forever appeal to the outsider. In short, he’s one of the all time greats. In honour of his recent four thousandth album, I humbly present my ranking of his albums. As always if you were to ask me to do this again next week (please don’t) some of these positions would inevitably shift around. But not by much – my favourites are my favourites and those at the bottom are still crap. You get the idea? Lets get on with it.

28: Special Forces

In the 1980s, Alice had been through his greatest Commercial and Critical peak, and like every good story of Rock ‘n’ Roll success he was now in a free fall decline in every respect. His music, his creativity, his personal life, his sanity and health, everything was out the window. It’s hardly a surprise that he doesn’t remember making a bunch of these albums, and hardly a surprise that these albums are not very good. If anything stands out with these albums it’s that they are a shit shower of ideas, mostly bad, mostly influenced by 80s New Wave, and if anything distinguishes Special Forces from the others it’s that the songs are less eventful, less ridiculous. Only the biggest Cooper fans are likely to get anything out of this.

27: Dada

Of all the 80s albums, there was a time when this was my favourite – now I’m not sure why. I think it’s because it’s so otherworldy and bizarre. It’s utterly deranged, but outside of the opening and closing tracks there’s nothing here you’ll ever want to hear.

26: Flush The Fashion

Cooper’s first foray into the 80s and New Wave, he was still clinging on to consciousness and creativity, but he produced a dated upon release, underwhelming and repetitive album of forgettable songs it’s difficult to differentiate between. Sadly, the album sold well enough on the strength of its lead single, likely making Coop think this was a brave new path he should continue ploughing blindly down. 

25: Zipper Catches Skin

The third album in three years during the 80s for Cooper, this suffers from the same rushed and creatively barren issues as the others. This one has more positives than negatives and sheds the New Wave nonsense for something approximating the current wave of Post Punk which would in turn lead Cooper towards his Hair Metal reinvention. Of course, Dada would come before then, but at least this set some ground work and reminded fans that Cooper could still pen a decent rock song when he wanted to.

24. Along Came A Spider

This halfway point album joins (untidily) the Nu Metal 2000s era Cooper with his stripped back return to Garage Rock. It’s a mostly bland affair which suffers from the fact that Coop had already done the Garage Revival thing better in his two previous albums. Still, it was a more successful album than those two and stands out because it was another Concept album charting the rise and demise of a serial killer known as Spider.

23. Lace & Whiskey

For his third solo album, Cooper abandoned his Grand Guignol stylings and instead adopted the persona of a hard drinking hard boiled crime PI, who was also bumbling and inept. In retrospect it seems like the whole thing was set up just so he could allow himself the freedom to sink further into Alcoholism. I never found the album concept and sound to be coherent, instead coming across as a Greatest Hits without the Hits. There are still highlights – My God and You & Me feature in my regular shuffles – and even with a mish mash of styles it’s grounded in old fashioned Rock n Roll.

22. Pretties For You

The Cooper band debut, this zany Zappa inspired whack job is sure to confuse and infuriate fans of structure and sense. This album has no sense, the songs have no structure, and that’s why I enjoy it so much. It’s wonderful to see how the band started out and what they would become, many of the lyrical and conceptual ideas are there in their infancy, but above all the songs are somewhere between chaotic slices of brilliance and shameless nonsense.

21. Constrictor

Perhaps the least of the Hair Metal albums, although most of them are interchangeable in quality for me, Constrictor was the first to see Alice embracing the big hair, big guitars, glam persona, and return to his Shock Rock roots. He had been out of the limelight trying to get clean and in the years since Dada Metal had taken the world by storm. Cooper gathered together an array of talented musicians, doubled down on his notoriety by positioning himself as a hybrid Metal Horror icon in songs like He’s Back and Teenage Frankenstein, but most importantly he put himself back on the map as a performer and songwriter. 

20. Detroit Stories

Cooper’s most recent album is all about looking back and giving thanks. Thanks to the bands and city and sounds who influenced him, to the bands they came up with in the 60s and 70s, and to his old pals. There are plenty of covers and plenty of Cooper’s trademark wit which has never dampened with time, and he’s still ready to pump out bangers when he needs to. It’s a little repetitive due to the sheer number of songs, but a solid album of Garage Rock.

File:Alice Cooper band Live in London 2012-10-28 (close-up).jpg - Wikimedia  Commons

19. Paranormal

Cooper has always been prolific, but this was his first album in 6 years – the longest gap he’s had between albums since 94 and 2000. Thankfully he still came back with his usual finesse and released an album which was received highly and did quite well in this new era of sales. He brings the old gang back together for a few songs and in total it’s a classic sounding Cooper albums with influences based in the dark fringe areas where normies fear to tread, a series of nightmarish lullabies and anthems.

18. The Last Temptation 

By the time The Last Temptation was released I was a hardcore Cooper fan. I never liked lead single Lost In America or its video and was expecting something more adventurous and biting like Hey Stoopid. Still, I was 11 and anything with guitars and facepaint was cool. It’s a lighter album than its predecessor  – by this point Metal was largely dead commercially – but was still successful enough that Cooper could go off and tour and play golf for the next six years before reinventing himself once more. 

17. Dragontown

This and Brutal Planet are a pair. This is just as heavy, if less reliant on the Industrial and Nu Metal stylings of Brutal Planet but in songwriting terms there isn’t much to pick between them – plus they were released a year apart. The two albums are Alice at his heaviest.

16: Easy Action

I don’t see many people having either of the band’s first two albums so high on their ranking, but there’s something wholesome and youthful and ambitious about each – a true sense of zero fucks given. This follow-up at least nods its head to structures and conventions and loosely attempts to convey traditional songs through a psychedelic lens. As such, some of the songs have made their way onto Greatest Hits sets and later live tour setlists. It’s a heavier album too, less chaotic and more planned, allowing for both unpredictable epics and short and snappy wannabe hits.

15. Raise Your Fist And Yell

Another 80s Hair Metal album, for me this one has a better array of tunes than Constrictor. It still retains the inherent cheesy production and reverb drums of the time and it still feels like a less shitty Def Leppard album, but with a rejuvenated Alice at the helm. Alice continued his dalliance with horror – Robert Englund appears (Alice appeared in multiple horror movies around this time, including Elm Street 6 a few years later) just as Vincent Price had a decade earlier, and the songs are the teen and rebel bait outcast anthems we have come to expect from the greatest writer of such songs of his generation. Or any generation.

14. Brutal Planet

Alice has always kind of been Metal, and certainly doubled down on what passed for commercial Metal in the 80s, but it wasn’t until Brutal Planet where he actually sounded crushingly heavy. Under all the tuned down guitars and distortion is a selection of songs which could appear in any era of Alice’s work – change the production to suit the time period and Gimme could be an 80s Metal or 70s Rock anthem, while Take It Like A Woman is as good a ballad as any of his more famous works while conveying the sort of social message critics usually miss when dismissing Cooper.

13. Trash

Trash is the first album I ever bought. In a Golden Discs in Ards Shopping Centre if anyone cares. I also picked up Off The Wall. Money well spent. Alice has had any number of hits and several of those are cultural icons themselves. But Trash contains Poison, probably his most famous song. It’s the peak of his 80s work – a genuinely good song which manages to stand up against scrutiny verses 90% of everything else he released in the decade. Elsewhere on the album he invites various pals to play along – Jon Bon Jovi, Steven Tyler – and many mainstream hitmakers helped contribute and polish things – Desmond Child, Diane Warren, Joan Jett to name a few. For every silly song, there’s a better one, and it’s the strength of those better songs which raises an average album to the multi million seller it is. 

12. Muscle Of Love

(Holy) Muscle Of Love, as the title suggests, sees Cooper and the boys going all dirty. Coop has never shied away from describing sexual antics in his lyrics but unlike overrated garbage spreaders AC/DC Cooper does it with more wit than a pre-pubescent. Muscle Of Love lacks the big hits of previous and subsequent albums, but it more than makes up for this in its lean, no frills approach. It’s to the point rock designed to upset the straight-laced moms and pops, but underneath it all are the singalong melodies, amusing lyrics and themes, and kickass riffs we’ve come to expect from a Cooper album. 

11. School’s Out

I mentioned earlier that Poison was probably the most famous Cooper song. If you don’t agree, then you probably think School’s Out is the one. I’m good with that too; it probably had the bigger impact. The song, and the album, were huge hits and brought the band into the mainstream after a few smaller prior hits. This was one of the first Cooper albums I bought once I had enough money of my own to go spend on such things – by that time I already knew the title track and the hype around the album. I wasn’t impressed by the whole album first time around, not being aware if was more of a Rock Opera or a less campy version of West Side Story. It was a nine track album with two throwaway instrumentals. It took me a good few years to come back to it and gain appreciation for it. It is a concept album, it does follow a loose theme and plot, and the songs are designed to follow both. The title track is the only hit, but every other song has its charm with the greaser rock being subverted by both American Musicals and bizarro psychedelia; I simply wasn’t ready for it and was expecting a straightforward collection of Rock anthems. The raw, in your face production where you can feel the vibration from every bass note, the strange nods to jazz and appreciation of US culture given the skewed Alice twist all raise this to something different. Go in expecting weirdness and you’ll get more out of it. 

Alice Cooper talks new album, quarantine hobbies and family time in Phoenix  - cleveland.com

10: The Eyes Of Alice Cooper 

In the new Millennium, Cooper had been courting the biggest Metal movements of the time – Nu Metal and Industrial Metal. The results were heavier than anything he’d done in the past but thankfully he decided to return to his more Garage based roots in 2003. The Eyes Of Alice Cooper is a retro themed album taking in the changes which emerged in the decades since they last played in this style. It’s what a lot of old school fans were looking for and it was refreshing after two darker albums to rediscover a sense of fun. While no single song has the power of School’s Out, the whole collection is consistent – mini anthems for the disaffected, riffs, humour, choruses, fun.

9. Dirty Diamonds

Dirty Diamonds came hot on the heels of Eyes and was essentially more of the same, but better. Better tunes, better lyrics, better ideas – more fun, more humour. From the outright laughs of The Saga Of Jessie Jane, complete with Cooper’s vocal antics to the opening pop punk bombast of Woman Of Mass Distraction to the laidback groove of closer Zombie Dance, it’s another example of Alice doing it better than anyone else. The only thing missing are the big hits.

8. Love It To Death 

This album gave the band their first hit after two experimental freak out albums. If they hadn’t scored a hit single with this one, the band probably would have ceased to exist. The band moved to Detroit and absorbed the burgeoning Garage rock sounds, recruited Bob Ezrin as Producer, and whacked out I’m Eighteen as the first in a long line of rebellious anthems. Not that it’s a one hit album – opener Caught In A Dream is just as much fun while The Ballad Of Dwight Fry showed the band were not willing to drop their experimental roots but instead had honed those to create something more palatable while seeding the ideas for extravagant live shows, future characters, and outlandish concepts.

7. Welcome To My Nightmare

If School’s Out isn’t the band’s most famous album, then it has to be Welcome To My Nightmare. This was the peak of his theatrics, the peak of the Cooper character emerging as a separate demonic oddity, and the first album as a solo performer. Alice was not the solo creative driving force before this album, even though he was the draw, so this was in no way a guaranteed success. Perhaps over-compensating, Cooper tripled down on the blood, guts, and storytelling but more importantly he retained the ability to write a cracking tune – the title track, the peerless ballad Only Women Blood, and the anthems Cold Ethyl and Department Of Youth – these are all live mainstays. If you only recommend 3-5 Cooper albums to anyone, this has to be one of them due to its quality and importance. 

6. Welcome II My Nightmare

I may be the only person in the world to say this, but I prefer the sequel. Coming almost 40 years after the original, it’s another literal nightmare, kicking off with one of my all time favourite Coop songs I Am Made Of You where he employs auto-tuning and somehow makes it a plus. Elsewhere he courts pop, with the Kesha led What Baby Wants, the ridiculously silly Caffeine, and obvious live favourite I’ll Bite Your Face Off. Cooper has battled a lot of demons over the years – here he wraps up the real and fictional in an entertaining tale and a solid batch of great tunes.

5. Goes To Hell

This is the point that Cooper jumped the shark for many. For me, he’s more nuzzling up to the shark, making it sniff some coke from a Giant Squid’s eye socket, and taking it down to Studio 54 to dance with a bunch of flare-wearing pagans. There’s a lot of disco and funk, there are a few ballads, show tunes, all mangled together with Cooper’s unique voice and mind, but at the heart of it all are great singalong songs. You can laugh at the musical choices – I do, you can laugh at the silly artwork (front and back) – I have, but this is Cooper at his most obtuse, singular, annoying best.

4. Billion Dollar Babies 

This is the album I always thought School’s Out was going to be – a success, a lot of hype and critical praise, and a collection of classic hits and anthems rather than a single standout. Released less than a year after School’s Out, there’s a through line of quality and tone with the best songs appearing on this album rather than the predecessor. It was their first number 1 album in the US and UK and sold a bucket load. I Love The Dead, the title track, No More Mr Nice Guy, Elected, Generation Landslide – all classics, and every other track (while less known) are gold too. Another one of those must listens.

3. From The Inside

For my money, this is Cooper’s most consistent, best concept album. Having spent a little time in rehab/in an asylum due to his addiction, he was fairly well positioned to write an album about the characters one might meet on the inside. It’s more One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest than American Horror Story but equal weight is given to horror and heart. Each of the characters portrayed is more than life like and the lyrics leap off the page and through the headphones as he spits out memorable one-liners about murder, insanity, love, pain, sex, religion, addiction – ably helped by Bernie Taupin. Even above next two albums, this one doesn’t contain a single bum note or average track – everything is superb from the LOLZ of Nurse Rosetta, the musical theatre of Inmates, the sick ballad of Millie And Billie, and the rock thrills of Serious, not to mention album highlight How You Gonna See Me Now. My final two choices simply have higher highs.

2. Killer

Let there be no mistake; Killer is Cooper’s best album. It’s everything you want, expect, and need from a Cooper album, or from a Rock album, as well as being massively influential yet confusingly underrated. The title track may be the album’s only weaker moment, but it’s a B grade song at worst. Halo Of Flies… lets just say, no Halo Of Flies no Bohemian Rhapsody. The band out Zeppelins Zepplin with a collection of dirty blues rock shreds, with that filthy punk edge the boys from England didn’t have. I’m hard pushed to think of a stronger opening four tracks to any album than Under My Wheels, Be My Lover, Halo, and Desperado, and that quality continues into the second half. It’s simply one of the greatest Rock n Roll albums of all time, yet it’s somehow still a bit of a secret.

1: Hey Stoopid

It’s not the best Alice Cooper album, but it’s my favourite. A list of some of my favourite Cooper songs, some of my favourite all time songs – Wind Up Toy, Burning Our Bed, Dangerous Tonight, Die For You, throw in Snakebite, Might As Well Be On Mars, the title track, and the album’s most famous song Feeding My Frankenstein, and you really can’t go wrong. While it’s still in the vein of Hair Metal, it dispenses with much of the inherent garbage of that genre for a harsher edge which would inspire his heavier exploits a decade later, a more biting social commentary, and a host of talented guest musicians from Steve Vai to Joe Satriani to Slash to Ozzy to Vinnie Moore – even Elvira gets a spot. Huge choruses demanded to be chanted in the biggest stadium you can find, ominous agitated riffs, musicians on top form, and at the centre of it all a rejuvenated iconic Alice snarling his way through some of his most darkly commercial tales yet.

What a journey. What are your favourite Cooper albums and song? Let us know in the comments!

Nightman Listens To – Madonna – Rebel Heart!

Rebel Heart - Wikipedia

Greetings, Glancers! Wellity well, we’ve almost caught up with Madonna’s output. I know I’m slow at getting these things out (for anyone who even still reads them) but there’s only a couple of albums to go. And give me a break, I’m also doing Jovi, Adams, Roxette, The Stones, The Beach Boys, and of course my Top 1000, Non-Beatles, and 1966 series. A more diligent blogger would of course just pick one artist and pump out posts about their work over a few week period before moving on to the next thing. But I can’t focus on one thing for too long. And as I say, no-one even reads these things anyway and they’re not exactly the most exciting reading given that they’re unimaginative reactions as I listen for the first time. A smart blogger would of course switch to YouTube and make gargantuan gasps and wide-eyed stares at the camera in faux shock as if I’ve just stumbled upon a kitten in a waistcoat shaving a cow with a cigar. My hope is that people simply Google Madonna (or whoever) one day and stumble upon my posts, and read through them all in a single sitting, tutting at how I’ve misunderstood their favourite song. In any case, you’re stuck with me.

So, Rebel Heart. I know two of these songs – one I’ve only heard once and don’t really remember, while the other was an instant hit for me and has become one of my favourite Madonna songs. Beyond those, I don’t know much about the album. It’s another which seems packed to the gills with collaborations, something I generally don’t approve of and something which tends to show an artist is creatively flailing around, hoping someone else will save them from mediocrity or pull them back up from their mire. I’m hoping that’s not the case here, but given the (lack of) talent Madonna has aligned herself with on this record, I’m not holding out for greatness.

Living For Love: A blippy bloppy warbling beat emerges. Then deep Madonna vocals. Melody – fair enough. Then a beat. Then piano and a different melody. Am I getting some sort of Gospel feel from the melody? Then the beat returns. Then the song does that horrible chorus fake out thing that every was doing a couple of years ago. Maybe they’re still doing now, I don’t know. It’s well produced and it doesn’t follow a simple set pattern. At least the chorus drop isn’t as bad as most. There are a few other voices in the chorus, it does seem to be going for a Gospel approach. There’s too much space between the different vocals, space which could have been packed with additional voices for ore impact. Then it ends abruptly. It’s a decent opener, not horrible, not overly memorable.

Devil Pray: An acoustic guitar opener, with an almost Latin tone. Then weak ass hand clap beats screw up a perfectly good vocal. I will never understand why artists choose that sound for their beat. The lyrics aren’t great from what I’m picking up on the surface. Decent pre-chorus, but again the chorus drops instead of peaks. It’s frustrating as the song is fine – it’s not extraordinary – it’s a B grade song which falls to C because of those stylistic choices which are clearly made for modern sensibilities and not me. Her vocals are patchy in places too. It stretches out for another minute, presumably for dancefloor purposes, adding lots of beeps and sounds which don’t do anything.

Ghosttown: Is the one I mentioned at the top that I loved. It’s A Tier Madonna. It’s a great song all round, even if I’m not in favour of all the musical and production choices. However, you could record this a hundred different ways as long as you keep the central melody, and you’d have a great song each time. It’s a perfect pop song, something Madonna knows a little something about, plus it has plenty of emotion ensuring it makes it up to the next level up the ladder.

Unapologetic Bitch: Although the sound isn’t my go to, this starts well but then drops into a slower Reggae style thwomp. I would have preferred keeping the pace and intent of the intro. It reminds me too somewhat of The Delays. The lyrics are quite sweary which is unusual for her – it’s your standard woman scorned stuff and that sort of lyric only works for me if it goes deeply personal, like Alanis. Credit for the little rap portions (getting Chas and Dave vibes from those – rabbit rabbit rabbit) and for how the rhythm of ‘unapologetic bitch’ works. The chorus gets nuzzled into your brain.

Illuminati: It’s not the first time Madonna has done some rapid fire name-checking. Not names I give a shit about, but she’s gonna do what she’s gonna do. This is quite experimental for her – the verse doesn’t have anything obvious to grab hold of, then the chorus becomes quite sweet. At least it’s interesting, which is more than can be said for most pop stars of her, or any generation at the moment. There’s a John Carpenter synth vibe here and there. Once again, credit for trying something different, but I can’t say it all works for me. I don’t dislike it by any means.

Bitch I’m Madonna: This is the other one I’d heard. Some of the melodies are fine but the lyrics are abhorrent and the production is all over the place hitting all the black boxes of modern pop I can’t abide – silly sounds? Check. Dropping the momentum at the chorus? Check. Random newb warbling in the background? Check. Wafer beats? Check. Self interest? Check. Emotionless? Check. Catchy? Kind of, I guess. Bland and repetitive? For the most part, yeah.

Hold Tight: This seems much better. A more classic sound and vocal while still adhering to modern norms. It’s a simple approach this time, and a simple melody to go with it. The beats and production isn’t what I would choose again, pandering too much to today’s sound and quirks which will likely date the thing in a few more years. I would have gone all in on the backing vocals on this one to give a booming transcendent feel. It’s almost one of her better songs, but still good.

Joan Of Arc: A pondering guitar intro gives way to a lovely vocal and melody. It’s instantly more touching and honest. I feel like this is already going on the playlist. The drum beats could have been toughened up and rounded out, but that’s a minor issue. I think this will grow on me over time and it’s another example of a Madonna song which would work in any generation, with any production as long as the melody and purity is kept intact.

Iconic: With a name like that, this could go well or very badly. We’ll see. Oh balls, this is another .feat thing. This time it .feats a rapist, so that’s something. Verse is right up the middle, the little hey-yays are bordering on annoying. Decent pre-chorus. Of course the chorus loses the momentum and does that thing I won’t shut up about. At least there’s some sort of Halloween tone to that chorus. Some day in the future, someone’s going to re-do all the songs from the 2010s, but fix the chorus so that it doesn’t do the beat drop thing, and on that day every single one of those songs will take 10 large steps upwards in quality. Some bloke I’ve never heard of raps in the middle of everything else going on. It’s not very bad, but it’s a long way from good.

Heartbreakcity: Thankfully this one feels more streamlined – a lone piano line without tweaking. A neat military parade beat drops and the chorus builds and feels similar to Ghosttown. It’s another spiffing melody at times, but it doesn’t quite sustain that quality over the whole running time.

Body Shop: This is, what? Eastern folk inspired, with a child-like nursery rhyme quality? There’s some sort of tribal trance rhythm. In other words, she’s playing with conventions again. I can’t quite pick up many of the lyrics or what it’s all about during first listen. I don’t like the little ‘yeah’ shouts in the background, but then I never do. Without those I’d be willing to listen to this more. It’s a curio which is almost ruined by those repeated ‘yeah’s as they increase in frequency towards the end to the point that I had to stop the song early.

Holy Water: A more dance influenced, near rap from Madonna. It has some sex noises in the chorus. I could do with some more bass in the verse – something really dirty would have made it grind in a more sweaty, sexy way. At least the chorus doesn’t collapse like so many of the others. It’s nice that she’s still singing about her vagina. And that she’s referencing and sampling herself. An interesting one for sure, but I’m not sure there’s enough melodic quality for me to listen to it again.

Inside Out: There’s a dirtier fuzzier bass which should have been in the previous song. This is a stronger second half than the first. The verse is solid enough, then the chorus goes all Sia. That’s always a good thing. It’s not top tier Sia, or top tier Madonna, but definitely good enough that I’ll happily hear it again.

Wash All Over Me: Sole piano keys open and traverse the verse and a fair melody spreads itself out. The chorus is better, but it’s lacking something – a key change, another push? I don’t know, I just feel a tiny sense of frustration that it doesn’t go the way I wanted it to. It’s a good song to end the album with – a B song which doesn’t unleash the sadness or hope or whatever extra emotional push it is I was hoping for to shunt it into A.

So… it’s another good album. Solid. There aren’t as many true stand out tracks which I see making my long term playlist, but there is a long list of songs which just miss out and a short list consisting of average or crap. It once again confirms that when Madonna keeps things simple and builds a song around a melody rather than an idea or trend, that’s when she’s at her best; that’s when she still makes great pop songs. The worst moments are when she goes too experimental to the point that the song stops being a song, or when she copies what others are doing (chorus drop). There are some annoying quirks – backing shouts and vocals being the main offender, but when the song is good I can mostly overlook those. We’re almost caught up with Madonna now and I must admit that I didn’t expect to enjoy her post Ray Of Light stuff as much as I have. Sure there has been some crap, but there have been plenty of songs added to my playlist – and a few of those are from this album.

Nightman’s Playlist Picks: Ghosttown. Hold Tight. Joan Of Arc. Inside Out.

Let us know in the comments what you think of Rebel Heart!