Despite getting very familiar with the workings of the movie business over the past few years and how it operates with respect to horror, it still shocked me when I heard that there was an American remake of Let the Right One In, the Swedish vampire movie that has such a cult following regardless of its shortcomings. Upon reflection though it only made sense as the original does have such a following that any remake was going to attract an audience of existing fans and possible a few more as well, financially a remake was going to be a nice little earner and not that costly to make either. All that remained to be seen was how much of a beating the original material was going to take in the process.
The events in a story need a reason to be happening. The characters need to have had a reason to find themselves in whatever situation they’re faced with, even if that reason appears to be “wrong person in the wrong place at the wrong time” there has to be a reason for them to deal with the situation the way they do. When not enough thought is given to the motivations for the behaviours of characters in films, those films can feel off, like something important is missing but it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what. In these cases motivation has most likely been replaced by mere excuses. Some might say that in movies focused on entertainment as opposed to trying to have any depth the loss of character development isn’t that important really. To those who say that I wish to respond with a simple “shut up!” Not giving a toss about people in films is what’s landed us in the awful mess that last night’s movie is an example of.
The special effects used in Fright Night are pretty good and along with the treatment of the source material are a highlight of the film as at the time the option of CGI wasn’t available and animation effects had backfired too often to be really usable leaving only physical models as the best option for creature effects, and they’re used really well. The creatures like the bat-like monster near the end and the vampire skeleton are excellent but some of the make-up effects don’t stand up to scrutiny (or High Definition) as well as they might.
Imagine you were a vampire, with all the advantages of immortality and the intrinsic beauty that comes with being a nasty little goblin of the underworld. With all that power at your disposal, would you spend your days being a miserable bastard in some shitty small town in chilly northern America with a girl who looks like a horse hanging out of you the whole time? Of course not, it wasn’t believable in one film so I was curious as to how you’d get another go at the cinema out of this bullshit…
As her eighteenth birthday approaches, New Moon opens with Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) struggling to deal with one of the practicalities of loving a vampire. She dreams of her dear old Granny meeting Edward (Robert Pattinson) in a field one day but she realises that it’s not her Gran but actually herself as an old woman having aged naturally while Eddie stayed his youthful immortal self. With this on her mind, Bella tries to go about the normal business of girls her age which basically consists of going to school and looking moody.
Edward’s family, the Cullen’s (a group of adopted vampire kids looked after by Dr. And Mrs. Cullen) throw a little party for Bella’s birthday at their house and during the giving of the presents Bella gets a paper cut which sets off one of the vampires who isn’t fully house trained. This gets Edward thinking about just how wise it is keeping a human about the place when he and his kind have such murderous instincts. About this time Carlisle Cullen decides that he has to move on as he looks a lot younger than he’s supposed to be and people around him are starting to notice. Edward decides that he’s going to go as well and put some distance between him and Bella as he feels she should have a normal life and not have to worry about the technicalities of going out with a disgusting bloodsucker like himself. Eddie has also been thinking about their situation and he’s come to the conclusion that the only way it could work is to make Bella a vampire and that’s something he can’t do as it would damn her soul.
With Edward out of the picture, Bella gets down to doing some serious moping about and manages to sit in the same chair looking out the window for about four months without ever changing her clothes. When she’s not busy being a moody drink of piss, she’s flat out screaming her head off in her sleep as she’s haunted with terrible nightmares of her lost love. Her days at school are filled with avoiding her friends which only serves to demonstrate just how useless a bunch they are when things get tough. She finally manages to get a grip on herself and slowly tries to deal with her plight by hanging out with Jacob, a local native American boy she knows from when she was much younger. She picks up two wrecked motorbikes and gets Jacob to restore them while she sits and watches for a few weeks in an example of exploitation of the red man not seen in America since some Europeans purchased the continent for a handful of beads and a dose of smallpox.
Bella begins to experience hallucinations of Edward whenever she might be in danger, like going down the wrong street in a bad part of town or riding a restored motorbike without a crash helmet. Bella puts herself in increasingly dangerous situations in an effort to see more of Edward instead of doing the rational thing of seeing a psychiatrist or other mental health professional to help her with the fact that she’s seeing things and hearing voices. Her friend Jacob also turns out to be in need of some medical help as he develops a bad fever one night and disappears for a while, though Bella thinks that Jacob is in fact just avoiding her as she rejected his romantic advances. Bella goes to find Jacob down on the reservation (apparently the only reservation in the US without a casino) and finds that he’s a changed man, with his hair cut short, sporting a tattoo, and running with the wrong sort of people all the while not wearing much clothes. After a bit of back and forth it turns out that Jacob is a werewolf and so are his mates and that they’ve been hunting some vampires (left over from the first film) who’ve been knocking about with plans to kill Bella.
Off in exile Edward has gotten wind of Bella’s daredevil antics and believes that one of her little vision-inducing activities has actually killed her and so he decides to top himself as immortality isn’t worth enduring if the girl he dumped, who was probably going to snuff it sometime in the next seventy or eighty years anyway, has died – as long as no-one stops him in the nick of time…
I shall cut to the inevitable chase; New Moon is an overly long and deeply unoriginal piece of shit film. It’s two desperately boring hours of a mopey bitch pining for a creepy girly boy who you know will turn up again before the film is over and very little else. Edward just pisses off as soon as he could at the start of the wretched movie, in fact he ran away so fast I half expected him to have knocked Bella up or something. Edward’s departure is too much of a convenience and is only offered up so that Jacob could be properly introduced as a character. Jacob is actually not that bad a character but he seems to unfortunately suffer from the same problem as everyone else in the small town of Forks – he seems to think Bella is the only woman in the entire world worth a damn and that is frankly too unbelievable even for a movie where vampires sparkle and werewolves prowl around whether there’s a full moon or not.
Kristen Stewart’s Bella is too unattractive and uninteresting a person for it to be realistic that everyone in town is chasing after her. The Cullen’s are fawning over her from the start (though to be fair one of them openly wants to eat her), the kids in school are obsessed with her, and now the werewolves are all into Bella-mania. Love triangles are the staple of many’s a fine story but the apex of this one is a droopy faced misery – the lads in Forks must have been really hard up.
Speaking of the love aspect leads me to the real horror of New Moon. The film rips off one major source and that’s Mr. William Shakespeare and his tragic play Romeo and Juliet.What makes this crime so heinous is that New Moon flaunts the fact from early on that it’s lifting it’s central theme from that play, the only twist being that Edward’s already dead. What I want to know is, seeing as Romeo and Juliet is a short play, why did it take two long fucking hours to re-tell that story? And why even pretend that the poor teen wolf Jacob was ever in with a chance with a go on Bella?
Just like the fist Twilight film there is very little to redeem New Moon. Sadly, the decent music from the first movie is absent, replaced with a succession of radio-friendly but easily forgotten tunes that no doubt sold well on iTunes, easily forgotten except for the song “Meet Me on the Equinox” by Death Cab For Cutie – I really like that song and it’s a shame it only featured on the end credits. The film is slightly better made than its predecessor, the lighting is better, the effects have been given some thought, and the locations are well used. The big redemption for me however was the fact that the Cullen’s began to address the whole damnation of the soul thing that bothered me so much about the first Twilight. New Moon doesn’t really resolve this problem but it at least admits that it’s there.
Doesn’t stop New Moon from being shit though.
Two Thumbs Down for New Moon.
Click the links for more info about Vampires and Werewolves that are afraid of the dark:
Documentaries are not boring. Many of them involve killing and lately loads of them are about big scary aliens!
The Fourth Kind (2009) presents itself as a documentary that has certain scenes dramatised for the purposes of telling the story of events that occurred in Nome, in northern Alaska in the year 2000. The Film begins with Mila Jovovich addressing the audience directly and outlining what they are about to see.
The First Kind: Links to email
The Second Kind: Links to news sites
The Third Kind: Porn, of course!
The Fourth Kind: Links to details of last nights film
High-concept horror is a rare thing. Most horror films focus on building dread over time and then reaching a scary and/or action packed ending, or they go for the jump out of your seat type of fright where things happen suddenly giving the audience a shock; those types of film are more like roller coasters despite whatever artistic content they may contain. There are a few thinking man’s horror films out there but the majority of studios, film-makers, and audiences find that intelligence and horror don’t tend to make good bedfellows. Of course, there are clever horror films but rarely does the genre go beyond that, perhaps because if the story deals with horrific situations then it can be better dealt with in a more traditional drama, or if the story is going for a supernatural slant then too much has to be accepted on faith for any highbrow thought to be able to accept what’s going on.
It may seem obvious but it needs saying: In a movie so much rests on the actors. Bad acting can ruin a great story, and while nothing can really salvage a poor story good acting can at least numb the pain of the viewing. In horror you do tend to see some decent actors occasionally strutting their stuff. I’m not sure why but they all take a crack at it, maybe they’re looking for a challenge, or maybe they’re slumming it for the sake of a rounded CV, or more likely for a rounded paycheque.
After.Life is something of a horror and something of a thriller but it’s hard to figure out which it is and that’s the whole point of the film. After.Life is deliberately ambiguous as the audience are supposed to decide for themselves just what exactly the fuck is going on. The choices boil down to this: either Anna is dead and Deacon has a terrible gift that he tries to do his best with, or Anna is alive and Deacon is a serial killer burying people alive when he thinks they haven’t lived as full a life as they should have. After watching the film the choice is very much yours as there’s plenty of evidence both ways while logic (not something often present in Hollywood) gets in the way just to muddy the waters further.
I read an article recently about Kevin Smith, the bloke behind such films as Dogma, Clerks, Mallrats, and Jersey Girl. In the article it stated that Smith was pulling away from making movies within the studio system, the inference being that he’d go back to the small-scale indie style that made him such as success in the first place. Smith said he liked doing things that way as kids who see those movies are encouraged to try making their own films with their friends as it all feels like something anyone could do and be successful at. Once you add in some big name actors or other expensive element it makes movie-making feel like the domain of only those with the money to pay for it. I wonder then if, in addition to the perceived “realism”, there’s something to be said for the first-person, shot on a video camera and recovered later, style of film made famous by the likes of Blair Witch that might actually redeem that shitty style of film? With the exception of Cloverfield and one or two others, this style produces films that anyone could take a crack at themselves.
(and I don’t care if the picture has copyright, I nicked it, and I’d do it again!)
Two Thumbs Up for [REC]2
The horror of war is a cliché that like most clichés, catchphrases, and stereotypes, has some basis in truth no matter how small. In the case of warfare there is no doubting just how horrific the experience is even for those who luckily have no direct exposure to such violence. Considering how awful the concept of war is it’s no surprise that there are so few actual horror films with a wartime setting. There’s no real need for them. Just make a regular war film and you have all the elements necessary – oftentimes including a supernatural disregard for life on behalf of most involved.
Horror is a funny old business. Setting out to make a career in this particular genre requires a certain mindset. No matter the media, be it books, comics, music, TV, or cinema, when you decide that horror is for you then you just have to accept a few fundamental truths. You will wear a lot of black. You will start talking in an overly dramatic fashion and say the word “Greetings” instead of “Hello”. You will get funny looks from people in the street, especially small children and elderly women. You might get a tattoo. Of a bat.
There are some obvious and famous folk who have made successful careers from Horror. Stephen King, Ozzy Ozbourne, Garth Marenghi, Dani Flith, and the musician and director of last nights film, Rob Zombie – a man so dedicated to horror that he changed his name to Zombie, for crying out loud.
Once upon a time I was a city dweller. I grew up in a major metropolis that can sometimes be beautiful and sometimes brutal. In the modern urban jungle man has adapted his ways to suit his environment, but man is a creature of habit and one of those long established habits is the use of stories to pass along history and to teach acceptable behaviours, hence the urban myth.
Candyman (1992) stars Virgina Madsen as Helen Lyle, a researcher at a university in Chicago who is writing a thesis on urban myths with her friend Bernadette. During the course of her research she encounters the myth of Candyman to whom some local murders have been attributed. The Candyman story is concentrated on a parcel of land that had been developed into a housing project. In the late 1800’s, while the area was still farms and plantations, a young black man had been brutally murdered after knocking up a local white chick. Now, according to the myth, it’s possible to summon the vengeful spirit of Candyman by saying his name five times into a mirror.
Helen digs into the story when she discovers that, unlike the usual urban myths that all seem to be removed from the person who tells them (in a “it happened to a friend of my sisters room-mates cousins barber” type way) this legend has some verifiable facts as do the murders that have been blamed on it. Venturing into the gang-controlled projects Helen meets with the neighbour of a murder-victim who firmly believes that Candyman is the killer.
Things turn sour for Helen when she runs afoul of a local gang-banger who’s been using the name Candyman to instil fear in the locals. Thinking that that was all there was to the story Helen gets the shock of her life when she is stalked by a tall man with a distinctive voice and a hook for a hand who demands that Helen believe in him and who sets about destroying her life by framing her for a series of crimes and getting her locked away in the local asylum. Helen slowly realises that perhaps she shouldn’t have said Candyman five times when in front of her mirror, not even for a joke…
Candyman is a flick I hadn’t seen in years, and as distanced as I was from the film it was easy to get hung up on the saying his name in the mirror idea which is just a re-work of the Bloody Mary myth. However, imagine my surprise when I watched Candyman last night and it dawned on me that this is a brilliant movie!
This is a film where everything works as it should. The music by Philip Glass sets each scene perfectly, the casting choices were inspired, the setting was ideally modern and creepy, and the story by Clive Barker is solid. Virginia Madsen is great as Helen and she carries her scenes well, but she is utterly upstaged by Tony Todd who plays Candyman himself. Todd is a very tall man and is able therefore to be imposing and scary, but add in the amazing deep voice he carries around with him and you’re onto a total winner with him as a baddie from beyond the grave. Cut off his arm and stick a hook into the stump and you’re in Oscar territory!
The gore and horror that’s present in the film are understated considering that Candyman is very firmly a slasher movie though more time is given over to the urban myth aspect then the cutting people up with hooks aspect. The urban myth hadn’t really been tapped for too many films when Candyman hit the theatres so it was a refreshing way of conjuring up a villain to go an a killing spree in the windy city, it also meant that more thought went into the film-making as they didn’t want to screw up the opportunity of making a mark with urban legends. There are some very clever touches in Candyman, especially the racial and social commentary that’s present in every discussion of housing projects, though also in the little touches like the baby licking Candyman’s finger (it would have tasted of honey as he’d been covered in the stuff as he was tortured to death).
Sadly though the familiarity of the method for getting Candyman to appear, that is to say his name into the mirror five times, is a direct lift from Bloody Mary and it’s a legend that is too familiar to be overwritten by an unknown like Candyman, every time someone says “Candyman” into a mirror a voice in your head corrects them to “Bloody Mary”. This is really the films only failing but mercifully it doesn’t get in the way too much and never robs from the enjoyment. So when you get a chance, find yourself a decent sized mirror, dim the lights, and stick on a Christina Aguilera CD and let the dozy cow say his name five times!
Two Thumbs Firmly Up for Candyman.
He’s a one stop shop, makes my panties drop, He’s a sweet talkin’ sugar coated Candyman…. wait, what? Here are some links:
The final days of September 2011 were, in Ireland and the UK, unseasonally warm with the all too short days sunny and hot. This unusual weather is far from what we’re used to but no one missed the chance at some point to enjoy the heat, if only for a little while. The first of October has arrived and brought with it the wet and grey conditions we’re far more accustomed to. Looking back over the past week it feels like summer had one last dying gasp and that October has turned up in its funeral clothes to mourn the seasons loss and trumpet the impending winter. In a matter of hours thoughts that were sunny and bright have turned to darkness.
The darkness of a winter in the northern hemisphere is welcome as it brings the chance to sit by the fire and enjoy hearty foods and strong drink to fortify against the cold gloom. It also brings the quiet fear of what may lurk in those long nights and that makes it the perfect time to play to those fears and enjoy a series of horror films that can only make matters worse!
My annual quest to bleat on about films most people don’t care about in a funny manner has morphed from an interesting distraction in the weeks before Halloween into a full-blown crusade to bring the true value of these films to the masses in a funny manner. I’m also keen to find out how long I can keep this type of bullshit going for!
Like the very best self-imposed nonsense a small collection of rules and procedures have sprung up around the 30 Days of Fright, and these rules are once again unchanged. I’ve assembled a small collection of DVD’s and recordings off the TV and compiled a list of films to be viewed and reviewed. Should something interesting cross my path then it’ll get snuck in, especially if someone makes a suggestion or request for a particular film to get the treatment.
The previous years reviews are available for your consideration here: 2008, here: 2009, and here: 2010 and hopefully like the first three years you’ll find year four to be entertaining, a bit of a laugh, and maybe just maybe a little bit interesting.
The scoring system is the same as it ever was, with each film rated on it’s merits and assigned a final score on my rather unusual thumb-based scale:
Two Thumbs Firmly Down = One of the worst films ever, never mention this film to anyone nevermind actually watching it!
Two Thumbs Down = A crap fest
One Thumb Up, One Thumb Down = Meh, don’t go out of your way for it but don’t try to avoid it either
Two Thumbs Up = A brilliant movie, well worth a look
Two Thumbs Firmly Up = A must see, a trully excellent motion picture you should make it your business to see as soon as you can
There is another score that is only used in the most extreme of cases: No Thumbs = no rating as the film is beneath contempt due to the handling of its subject matter – when you consider that these are horror films then that’s a pretty extreme rating to get and has so far, only been applied to one nasty little film.
Now the fun starts as the first film gets its showing tonight… let the 30 Days of Fright begin!
And so on the last day of this year’s reviews we come full circle and find ourselves back where we started, with Halloween, though this time it’s the 2007 version.
Unlike the original, this version of Halloween starts off following young Michael Myers as he goes about his business of developing serious psychopathic tendencies. Young Mikey’s home life is shite so he likes to hurt small animals (you can see the obvious pop-psychology link there) but quickly moves up to killing one of the kids at school. After a particularly rough evening at home, coincidentally Halloween, Michael kills his sister, her boyfriend, and her mother’s boyfriend. Mike soon finds himself banged up in a secure hospital where he’s being treated by Dr. Loomis (Malcolm McDowell).
Fifteen years pass and the once co-operative Michael has retreated from reality and become obsessed with making masks. Loomis has given up on the case and decided that there’s an easier living to be made from writing books and lecturing about Michael as opposed to treating him. Michael’s mother had also taken the easy way out and killed herself leaving her only remaining child, still a baby, behind to fend for herself.
Michael, now grown, busts out of the clink one night and heads home to kick off a major killing spree, with Loomis hot on his tail (probably feeling guilty about raking in the cash on the back of young Mike), and the local sheriff helping out too. Once home, Michael focuses his attentions on a young girl, Laurie Strode, who is roughly the same age as his little sister would be…
Rob Zombie took the directing job for the remake of Halloween and did an outstanding job. The 2007 Halloween is a far superior film to its predecessor, offering at least some explanation for Myers behaviour and a nice twist in the little sister angle as well as modernising the story with care, not trampling over the original but just making it, well, good.
There are some nicely unsettling scenes, especially the killing of the kid near the beginning, and there is more than one nice homage to the original, the gravity defying scene where the guy is pinned to the wall with a knife is there, but with humour and this time you can laugh along instead of going “that can’t happen”, and Blue Oyster Cults “Don’t Fear The Reaper” gets a spin too.
The performances in this version are great, the young Michael is an evil little bastard and McDowell as Loomis is just right in that he’s not quite balanced himself, which makes for a decent screen psychiatrist. The show is stolen however by Scout Taylor-Compton as Laurie – her performance puts Jamie Lee Curtis to shame as she managed to make the character likable and someone you don’t want to see hurt, as opposed to Curtis who you wish would get killed quickly just so you wouldn’t have to put up with anymore of her bullshit.
It’s hard to find fault at all with this Halloween, the only gripe I can think of is that in order to fully appreciate this version you need to suffer through the original.
Two Thumbs Firmly Up for Rob Zombie’s Halloween
Early September is a great time of year. Autumn starts to hit, there’s a nip in the air and the evenings begin to draw in. With the encroaching nights thoughts tend to turn to darkness. The darkness without and the darkness within. At this time of year my appreciation for the darker things in life definitely ramps up, I almost exclusively listen to Marilyn Manson, Tool, and Cradle of Filth around now (there’s something odd about having “Her Ghost in the Fog” blasting first thing in the morning, especially if it’s one of those bright, clear, crisp mornings).
With September here Halloween is on the horizon and our plans are already at an advanced stage and that means that the second annual horror movie fest isn’t far away. As a warm up for this years event I’m reprinting last years reviews in their entirety and will be adding a few additional remarks here and there. Some of last years films may also get a second viewing and an update to the original review. But not our first film…
Originally Published Monday 6th October 2008
First up, The Eye.
Jessica Alba (of Dark Angel fame) plays Sydney Wells, a girl who has been blind from a young age who receives a cornea transplant that restores her sight. Soon after the operation however things turn nasty as she begins seeing horrible visions. Not sure if what she is seeing is real or the result of her brain being overloaded with visual information for the first time in years she seeks out the help of a therapist, Dr. Paul Faulkner, who tries to reassure her that what’s occurring is normal. The visions persist and get worse and Sydney quickly realises that she is seeing past events and death coming for people.
Upon realising that the root of her trouble lies in her new eyes and that the reflection in the mirror isn’t her, Syd and her quack go in search of the family of the donor of the eyes trying to right whatever was wrong and put to rest the whole sorry mess.
My friends tell me I have a face for radio! Ahhhahahahahaha!
The Eye is another of those Hong Kong horror films remade by an American studio along the lines of The Ring. I mention that film as the storylines are shockingly similar in many respects: a female lead, an unsettled spirit needing to have things put to rights before they can rest, and a dodgy male character who is bugger all use for most of the show. But The Ring isn’t the only thing that should feel ripped off by The Eye; the images of shadowy death figures coming for people is like a less humorous version of the gravelings from Dead Like Me and probably the creepiest thing in the whole flick, which really isn’t saying much, and the whole “I see dead people” has been done better elsewhere.
As for the lead actress, while Jessica Alba isn’t likely to be up for an Oscar anytime soon she is normally likeable and functional as the lead in anything, this time out however I can’t help but think she wasn’t even trying and really just showed up to collect her paycheque.
Overall, The Eye is a mediocre movie at best and hardly a horror film at all due to its utter lack of scare. The most disturbing thing for me was that the filmmakers decided to name the main character, Sydney, after the main character from the Scream series – hardly a wise move for a film trying to pass itself in its own right.
One thumb up, one thumb down for The Eye.
For me, like many non-German speakers, being a fan of Rammstein is the ultimate triumph of style over substance. I have only a very basic understanding of the German language, and that is confined to those words that sound like their English counterparts. Every time a Rammstein CD enters my possession I have to either ask someone what the title means or look it up online at the same time as I’m looking up the translations to the lyrics of the songs. The obvious exception to this was Mutter, but that’s one of those words that sounds similar to its English translation.
When I’m listening to Rammstein my focus is primarily on the melodic composition of each track and the sentiment and emotional load delivered through the vocals. Not understanding the lyrics without a translator adds an air of mystery to the listening and allows me to apply whatever meaning I like to the music, though there have been occasions where finding out what a song was really about has been a shock and what I like to refer to as “The Rammstein Effect” – the realisation that, in your ignorance, you’ve applied the completely opposite meaning to piece of music then was intended (This is similar to the “Golden Brown” and “Every Breath You Take” effects, though those problems relate to people not listening to the lyrics in the first place as opposed to not speaking the language the song is written in).
Liebe ist für alle da, the latest studio album from those Germanic industrial rockers, manages to shock not only when a translation is found but before the disc has even been taken out of its cover. The standard version of the album arrives in a magnificent fold out package featuring images of the band as they enact the preparation of a banquet, with two naked women set to be the main course. The special edition, apparently, features a complete set of sex toys, one for each member of the band along with various other items that might come in handy during a night of debauchery.
The album title translates as Love is there for Everyone and, coupled with the imagery on the cover and paraphernalia that’s sold with the different versions of the album, points to the main themes addressed by the music, notably Love and Lust, though trying to extract meaning from a Rammstein album is always a dangerous exercise. As with all previous Rammstein releases several websites have stepped up to provide English translations for the songs, but these are fraught with translator error and the problems of trying to convey the nuance of song lyrics and the associated poetry and imagery that work in German but don’t translate well. This adds to the difficulty of determining meaning from the words when you read them in English and it’s likely that the writer’s intentions that are easily derived for the German speaker are lost on everyone else to some degree.
Love and Lust are addressed in varying forms, none of them too conventional. Frühling in Paris seems to deal with an encounter with a French prostitute and some of the lyrics are in French (lead singer Till Lindemann’s linguistic abilities shining through once again); Wiener Blut addresses the horror and perverse lust of the Fritzl case in Austria where a girl was held captive by her father in the basement of their home; Roter Sand is about a jealous lover killing the singer; and while there’s some debate on-line, Ich tu dir weh is (superficially, at least) about an S&M style relationship.
The first single from the album, Pussy, is a fine example of Rammstein understanding how some German’s can be perceived by the rest of the world with a performance that’s reminiscent of the German character in Super Troopers who gets caught driving his Porsche far too fast with his gorgeous wife while a thumping euro-dance track blasts from the stereo. The lyric “so what’s the problem?” could be any exchange student getting caught in a pub doing something lewd. The single allows the bands sense of humor to shine and it’s telling that the song features directly after the very dark and sinister Wiener Blut, after which something is needed to lighten the mood.
The themes of the album are such that it would be possible for the music to take a dark turn too easily, especially as Rammstein don’t seem afraid to allow the notion of lust to lead to perversion. The cover artwork for the album plays on the notion of the German cannibal, there are songs that detail imprisonment, domination, and revenge killings, so if it wasn’t for a light touch of humor here and there Liebe ist für alle da could be a real downer.
At first I wasn’t sure about this album, it seemed bland and easy to criticise with none of the tracks memorable, nothing that you would hum to yourself. I thought this right up to the point where I caught myself humming one of the songs as I absent-mindedly roamed around the house one evening. That was the turning point for me and this album. I listened again and gave each track the attention they deserve.
Pussy, is the fulcrum on which the album pivots, tracks build up to it and then slide back down on the far side. The strange thing is that Pussy (the song, not the, y’know, other thing), while memorable and pop-ish is probably the weakest track on the album, let down by its general sentiment and lyrical content. The nature of Pussy is probably why the rest of the album is easy to dismiss, once you hear this track it gets lodged in your head and drowns out the rest of the material, so after one or two casual listens you think that Pussy is the be all and end all of the album, that it’s representative of the whole thing which couldn’t be further from the truth.
The songs either side of Pussy are more mature, and strangely for a Rammstein release, subtle in their workings, particularly Mehr and Roter Sand that both start off with a low, lonely, almost melancholy feel and slowly build up higher and higher, not loud and brash, but in a victorious, celebratory fashion, like there’s something there to be proud of and worth singing about, though once you do lay your hands on a translation you’ll discover this not to be the case at all and a fine example of that Rammstein effect.
My initial dismissal of Liebe ist für alle da was also due in part to a gripe that I still have concerning the intros used for each song, which layer effects and gimmicks to seemingly distinguish each track radically from its neighbors. I can only guess that this trick will come in handy when the band go on tour and fans will be better able to distinguish each track and thus cheer on que. This is a minor gripe and shouldn’t put anyone off the album, especially as once Liebe ist für alle da grows on you the different intro styles won’t matter at all.
The relative inaccessability of Liebe ist für alle da will probably limit its longevity and despite my having gone back and given the album more consideration I still can’t see myself spinning this disc too often in the future as I’d be far more likely to turn to Mutter, Rosenrot, or even Reise, Reise when in the mood for some Rammstein.
One Thumb Up and One Thumb Down for Rammstein’s Liebe ist für alle da
Rammstein – Liebe ist für alle da
1. “Rammlied” (Ramm-Song) 5:20
2. “Ich tu dir weh” (I Hurt You) 5:02
3. “Waidmanns Heil” (Hunter’s Salute/Hail) 3:33
4. “Haifisch” (Shark) 3:45
5. “B********” (Bückstabü) 4:15
6. “Frühling in Paris” (Springtime in Paris) 4:45
7. “Wiener Blut” (Viennese Blood) 3:53
8. “Pussy” 4:00
9. “Liebe ist für alle da” (Love is there for Everyone) 3:26
10. “Mehr” (More) 4:09
11. “Roter Sand” (Red Sand) 3:59