Thursday, September 26, 2013
Saturday, September 7, 2013
A wicked little Horror classic from the 80s
Pulse (1988) is one of those classic little 80s Horror B-films that you happen to stumble upon in the wee hours of the night that keeps you enthralled until its conclusion, despite the fact you have to get up for work at 7 in the morning. Unfortunately, if you are the type of viewer that likes everything spelled out for them at the conclusion of the film, then "Pulse" isn't for you.
The story begins in an unnamed suburban town where a strange, electronic entity inhabits the inner workings of your average American family's home, resulting in deadly situations. Why this occurs is not explained nor is the source of the strange life form revealed. The story is essentially told through the eyes of 10 year old David (played by Joey Lawrence from Gimme A Break TV series fame), the eldest of the two boys in the household. Cliff De Young and Roxanne Hart play his parents, Bill and Ellen.
At first, the entity remains in the background as it, in a sense, explores the home and produces harmless poltergeist-like activities which are essentially ignored by the innocent family. Soon David becomes aware of its presence as it slowly becomes more malevolent. The creepy, unnamed old man that lives across the street (Charles Tyner) offers cryptic clues and warnings to David as he seems to have special insights into what is going on. He, for example, lives in a home that has no electrical service and is perfectly content to use kerosene lamps and the like for his daily existence as he ominously states to David, "You gotta pull the damn plug, boy!"
At first David fails to heed the old man's warnings but later comes to realize that he and his family are in extreme jeopardy as he narrowly escapes being asphyxiated in the family's garage and his mother is horribly scalded while taking a shower. Soon, all Hell breaks loose as their idyllic home becomes a gauntlet of electrical devices on a rampage (as silly as it sounds, believe me) and David and his father struggle to survive the wrath of the electronic entity.
One aspect of the film that needs mention is how the special effects were executed. Though they are simple by design, the close-ups and inner workings of the devices that the entity 'inhabits' is fascinating to watch and when the entity is finally thwarted by David's father, its demise is oddly cathartic to watch.
You will enjoy this film because it works on many levels. The acting is quite good and the characters motivation's are believable. So, try to get a hold of on this minor classic, cook some popcorn and enjoy (but don't forget to unplug the TV set before you go to bed).
Wednesday, September 4, 2013
A Jazz Lovers Delight!
Doing a Jazz review is as subjective as any musical art, and what you dig may not be what your friend would like. That said, here is one classic jazz album from the 90s' – that set new standards for saxophone trio type post 50s "cool" jazz - The Branford Marsalis Trio and their album The Dark Keys (Columbia Records, 1996).
That the eldest son of the famous Marsalis jazz clan chose to forgo self-promotion and record an album of standards with his father (Loved Ones) was a great thing. He took the time to re-hone his jazz chops in a relatively safe setting after his rather limiting stint as musical director of the Tonight Show. His 1996 release did sound like the venture paid off.
Branford returned with drumming mate Jeff Watts and bassist Reginald Veal, again eschewing the piano as he did on two previous releases, The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born and Bloomington. Never one to adhere to the stifling stylistic parameters set forth by his brother Wynton, Branford again produced a work of supreme power and beauty. The driving and slashing drum work of Watts, combined with the rock-steady rhythmic time and drive of Veal, provides the necessary framework for Branford to explore the pieces on the album as fully as possible.
Hard-driving modal excursions abound for both tenor and soprano, combined with nice mid-tempo and ballad features, pieces that reject the notion of maudlin no matter what notes he plays (in comparison to the absolutely atrocious version of "Maria" he recorded with his father). Joe Lovano and Kenny Garrett both make cameo appearances. Lovano's breathy, hard blowing provides the perfect counterpoint to Marsalis' rounder, more classic sound on "Sentinel". Garrett's alto is placed ever so precisely alongside Marsalis' soprano, with both men blowing heavily throughout "Judas Iscariot", the more staccato approach of Garrett intertwining beautifully with Marsalis' more legato phrasing.
This record proves that one does not have to overblow to be powerful. If you are a fan of Branford Marsalis, this classic record is a masterpiece that needs to be in your collection.