Sunday, December 30, 2012

The Best of Ronnie James Dio: Part I

Without a doubt one of the most recognizable voices in all of heavy metal, Ronnie James Dio rocked and rolled for over 50 years. Dio, standing at only 5'2, possessed the voice of a giant. He was known for his consistently powerful live vocal performances, lyrics dealing with wizards, dragons, swords, and sorcery, his warm accommodating nature toward fans and fellow musicians, and the popularization of the famous "devil horn" hand signal you see flashed at literally every concert. (See example below.)


Dio tragically passed away, aged 67, in 2010 but his legacy lives on. There are 3 Dio tribute bands on the tour circuit at present. All 3 bands feature previous members of Dio's solo bands as well as other metal musicians that admired the leather-lunged Italian American singer. Numerous bands have done covers of Dio-penned tunes and a few bands are even named after Dio songs. ("Mob Rules" and "Dream Evil" come to mind.) There are also several Dio tribute albums in circulation or atleast songs written as a tribute to Dio. Dio has fronted several bands; Ronnie Dio and the Prophets, Ronnie and the Redcaps, The Electic Elves, Elf, Rainbow, Black Sabbath, Dio, and Heaven and Hell. So one has a very deep well of musical royalty to dive into if you're thinking of checking out the awesomeness that is Ronnie James Dio. A lot of the early singles and vinyl only releases have become very difficult to find and still there's plenty of Dio rocking to be had out there on CD and digital download services like Amazon and i-Tunes. Starting below I'm going to list every studio release from Ronnie James Dio that I have personally collected and give each album the proper look over it deserves. The intention of this article is so that you, the living ones above ground, can get acquainted with his stellar catalogue and pick a couple albums that most interest you and find them! No live albums, just studio cuts. Though I do recommend trying those out too. Remember I am the grand horned one and I demand you listen to Dio or I shall have your soul! 

1. Elf Elf- Elf, as a band, is not what one would really consider heavy metal. It has more in common with old school rock n' roll and blues rock. My favorite track on the album is "Nevermore," a great track that starts slow but picks up tempo and rocks maybe the hardest of all the tracks on the album. The lyrics have a grim Edgar Allen Poe feel which I suppose is only appropriate since it shares its name with a Poe poem. It also serves as a showcase for Ronnie's stellar vocal range. Other tracks like "I'm Coming Back for You" and "Love Me Like a Woman" really bring the bluesy boogie and highlight the rock n' roll roots of the band.

2. Rainbow Ritchie Blackmore's Rainbow- The first Rainbow album also showcases a blues rock sensibility and that's most likely because Elf morphed into Rainbow. You see Ritchie Blackmore discovered Elf when they would open for his band Deep Purple. When he decided to leave Deep Purple after Stormbringer he called them up and asked them to be his new band. And so, Rainbow was born. Despite the blues elements on some songs, the Rainbow debut rocks harder than Elf. "Man on the Silver Mountain" is probably the most famous track from the album and for good reason. It's a powerful vocal performance a great guitar riff and it sticks in your head like peanut butter in the roof of your mouth. "Catch the Rainbow" is a wonderful slow song. Lyrics like, "Life's not a wheel, with chains made of steel. So bless me! Bless me," are easy to sing along with and carry greater meaning than just "boys and girls." Songs like "Black Sheep of the Family" and "Sixteenth Century Greensleeves" carry real groove and "The Temple of the King" lays the template for their second album. 

3. Rainbow Rising- Rainbow's 2nd album is, to sum it up, the true beginning of power metal. Just one spin and you'll know exactly what I mean. The guitar, bass, drums, and vocals all pack a sonic punch that to this day can still out rock much of what it is played against. It opens roaring with "Tarot Woman" and follows up with the equally stomping "Run with the Wolf." "Starstruck" is one of Dio's famous "evil woman" type songs. "Lady starstruck, she's nothing but bad luck. Lady starstruck running after me. Lady starstruck, she's nothing but bad luck. Bad luck! Bad luck!" "Do You Close Your Eyes" is one of the poppiest cuts ever produced in Dio's tenure in the band and still it roars like no pop song before or after it. "Stargazer" is a 70s metal epic on the same level as "Stairway to Heaven," "July Morning," "Bohemian Rhapsody," and "Child in Time." All the elements of power metal are in play here. Lyrics that reference a wizard, Egyptian history, astrological bodies, and sweeping deserts. Dio roars at the high end of his vocal range and the guitar and bass pounding are unrelenting. Cozy Powell kills on drums as well. "Stargazer" is followed by "A Light in the Black" and there couldn't be a better closer. It is worth mentioning that Ronnie and Ritchie are the only musicians from the first album that play on Rising.

4. Rainbow Long Live Rock N' Roll- Rainbow's 3rd album was the end in ways. After this album the band would reach for a more radio friendly sound and of course, Dio would not be with them. Ronnie packed up his bags and replaced Ozzy Osbourne in Black Sabbath not long after Long Live Rock N' Roll, but he went out with a bang. The album opens with the title track and no one with a love for rock could not like this song. If you don't find yourself headbanging and foot stomping you're dead! "Lady of the Lake" tales of the mythical lake lady responsible for delivering King Arthur's legendary sword Excalibur. "L.A. Connection" is a another rocker but it ditches the sword and sorcery lyrical content for a tale about a broken man who can't get work in Los Angeles because he doesn't have any connections. "Gates of Babylon" is the "Stargazer" of this record and it rips and roars with more killer Ricthie Blackmore riffing and as always, a soaring vocal delivery from Mr. Dio. "Kill the King" is one of the heaviest metal songs of the era and a return to what Ronnie knows best from a lyrical standpoint, the medieval. "The Shed (Subtle)" and "Sensitive to Light" keep it rocking and the album closes with the somber "Rainbow Eyes." A personal favorite. 

Stay tuned for Part 2 when we examine Dio's time in Black Sabbath!

Friday, December 28, 2012

Queens of Darkness

If there's one thing that gets my cold black heart pumping warm blood it's a good looking horror maiden! With nearly 100 years of full-length horror films to choose from, it's not hard to come up with a long list of horror hotties. But below I shall list only the best of the best. Only those who truly get my bifurcated tongue a wagging. With no further a due, the 25 hottest girls of horror cinema:

1. Fay Wray- Fay Wray is without doubt one of the most iconic of all scream queens. Everyone has seen King Kong and everyone remembers that the late Fay Wray was the well-curved blonde-haired object of the great ape's affection. King Kong wasn't her only venture into the world of horror/science fiction. She can also be found in The Vampire Bat, Mystery of the Wax Museum, The Most Dangerous Game, Dr. X, and Black Moon. All great classic thrillers.

2. Janet Leigh- Most famous as Norman Bate's shower victim in Alfred Hitchcock's proto-slasher masterpiece Psycho, Janet Leigh is forever etched into the brains of film fans everywhere. In addition to  Psycho, she appears in the hilariously over-the-top Night of the Lepus and John Carpenter's The Fog, alongside daughter Jamie Lee Curtis.

3. Gloria Stuart- The oldest actress ever nominated for an academy award for her portrayal as the elder Rose in the smash hit Titanic, Gloria Stuart's early career saw her appearing in 2 of the greatest horror films of all time. She acted opposite Ernest Thesiger, Boris Karloff, Charles Laughton, and Melvyn Douglas in The Old Dark House. A year later, in 1933, she played the love interest of Claude Rains in The Invisible Man. The same year she featured in The Kiss Before the Mirror. All 3 films were with Frankenstein director James Whale.

4. Theda Bara- The godmother of goth, Theda Bara was a silent film vixen famous for nakedly trysting with a skeleton in the pre-code A Fool There Was.

5. Julie Adams- The lovely Julie Adams is best remembered as the human love interest of the Gill Man in The Creature from the Black Lagoon. She was also well revered at the time for her very desirable legs. Rumor has it, Universal Studios had a special insurance policy on each of them. Outside of the black lagoon, Julie appeared on the Alfred Hitchcock Presents TV series and in the films Black Roses, The Killer Inside Me (1976), and The Psychic Killer.

6. Evelyn Ankers- Evelyn reportedly was not too enthusiastic about her profession but she was so damn good at it! She appeared alongside Lon Chaney Jr. in 4 classic Universal horror films: The Wolf Man, The Frozen Ghost, The Ghost of Frankenstein, and Son of Dracula. She can also be found in The Invisible Man's Revenge, Jungle Woman, The Mad Ghoul, and Captive Wild Woman. Finally, she did 3 Sherlock Holmes films; The Voice of Terror, Pearl of Death, and the TV short The Adventure of the Speckled Band.

7. Marisa Mel- Marisa posed for the Italian Playboy and featured in many sexy film roles. Of most interest to genre fans: Danger Diabolik, The Mad Dog Killer, Perversion Story, Ring of Darkness, Obscene Desire, A Diary of A Murderess, and Seven Blood Stained Orchids.

8. Edwige Fenech- Edwige is a French Italian actress famous for her appearances in Italian "Giallo" films. The Case of the Bloody Iris, Strip Nude for Your Killer, Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have the Key, Island of Terror, Blade of the Ripper, and All the Colors of the Dark all show Edwige in fine form.

9. Jamie Lee Curtis- Jamie is the daughter of famous scream queen Janet Leigh and a horror icon all her own. Famous for playing Laurie Strode in the original Halloween, Halloween 2, Halloween H20, and Halloween Resurrection, Jamie has done her share of slice and dice horror outside of the Michael Myers cannon. She can also be seen in The Fog, Terror Train, Prom Night, and Road Games.

10.  Barbara Steele- A dark haired English beauty, Barbara Steele made a name for herself in Mario Bava's Italian horror masterpiece Black Sunday. She also lent her talents to The Silent Scream, Piranha, Pit and the Pendulum, Shivers, Curse of the Crimson Altar, An Angel for Satan, She Beast, Nightmare Castle, Castle of Blood, The Long Hair of Death, Terror-Creatures from Beyond the Grave, The Ghost, The Horrible Dr. Hichcock, and the 90s revival of the classic gothic soap opera Dark Shadows.

11. Amy Steel- Amy is one of the most familiar faces of the 80s slasher movie. She is the first gal to survive an encounter with Jason Voorhees in the classic Friday the 13th Part II. She also stars in the original April Fools Day.

12. Zita Johann- Zita was the dark haired reincarnation of Boris Karloff's long lost love in The Mummy. Historians say she loved the script because she too believed in reincarnation and had more than a passing interest in the occult and metaphysics. She acted in few films but she's worth mentioning for The Mummy alone. More than 50 years later she returned to horror with Raiders of the Living Dead.

13. Britt Ekland- The beautiful ample-busomed Britt Ekland is a Swedish actress most famous for the James Bond film The Man with the Golden Gun. Look for her in The Wicker Man, Satan's Mistress, The Monster Club, and Asylum to get your horror fix.

14. Ingrid Pitt- Ingrid is a favorite of Hammer Horror fans. She can be found in Countess Dracula, The Vampire Lovers, The Wicker Man, Sound of Horror, and The House that Dripped Blood.

15. Jill Schoelen- One of the last great scream queens of the 80s slasher cycle, Jill did her share of classic films. Check out The Stepfather, The Phantom of the Opera (1989), Popcorn, and Cutting Class.

16. Caroline Munro- Caroline is another one of those bond girls that also spent some time filming fright flicks. Check her out in Maniac, The Last Horror Film, Slaughter High, Dr. Phibes Rises Again, and Dracula A.D. 1972.

17. Marilyn Burns- One of the original American slasher queens, Marilyn is most famous for The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. She can also be found in Eaten Alive, Helter Skelter, Future-Kill, and the upcoming Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3-D.

18. Danielle Harris- Danielle's career in horror began back in 1988 with Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers. She also appeared in the sequel, Halloween 5: Revenge of Michael Myers. Years later, and all grown up, she starred in Rob Zombie's Halloween, Rob Zombie's Halloween II, Hatchet II, Godkiller, Blood Night: The Legend of Mary Hatchet, Urban Legend, and Left for Dead.

19. Linnea Quigley- Best remember as the topless grave dancing punk rocker in Return of the Living Dead, Linnea has had a long career in horror and exploitation. She's also in Creepozoids, Pumpkinhead II: Blood Wings, Night of the Demons, Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers, Sorority Babes in the Slimeball  Bowl-O-Rama, Silent Night, Deadly Night, and Don't Go Near the Park.

20. Dee Wallace- A horror and Science Fiction staple; this lovely lady can be seen in Cujo, The Howling, Critters, The Hills Have Eyes, The Stepford Wives, Popcorn, and Alligator II: The Mutation.

21. Adrienne Barbeau- Adrienne has more than one connection to horror. She starred in Swamp Thing, Creepshow, Escape from New York, and The Fog. Not to mention she was married to and had a son with famous horror maestro John Carpenter. It's not horror but she also voiced Selina Kyle/Catwoman in the 1990s Batman the Animated Series.

22. Emily Perkins/Katerine Isabelle- The stars of the bloody teen werewolf classic from the land up north, Ginger Snaps, Emily and Katherine are fan favorites. Both returned for Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed, and Gingersnaps: The Beginning. Both are also in Christopher Nolan's Insomnia. Emily hasn't had a really juicy role in quite a while but Katherine can be seen in Freddy Vs. Jason and American Mary.

23. Cassandra Peterson- Elvira. Nuff' said!

24. Vampira- The original wasp-waisted, chesty, black dressed female horror host. She's also famous for the Ed Wood schlock masterpiece Plan 9 from Outer Space.

25. Ashley Laurence- The adorable Kirsty Cotton in Clive Barker's masterpiece of S&M horror, Hellraiser. She also starred in Hellbound:Hellraiser 2, Hellraiser:Hellseeker, Warlock III:The End of Innocence, and Lurking Fear.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

In the beginning there was me!

You know me by many names! Beelzebub, Lucifer, Abaddon, Apollyon, Leviathan, Belial, Satan; All please me because all make you tremble at the very sound of it sliding off another's tongue! You fear your eternal rest with me, here, in the darkened halls of the damned. Here where you hear screams of pain, smell the rotting burning flesh of the unrighteous, and lavish in sweet agony for time never-ending! Oh Home, who am I kidding, this place rocks. Seriously, everyone knows the bad guys have superior taste and style. Here, at home in hell, the blackened corridors rattle and shake with the sounds of heavy metal! The flames are merely there for aesthetic purposes and the only ones being prodded with pitchforks are politicians, murderers, thieves, and those who bring pain to children. Watching them roast and scream is only part of the entertainment here for the rest of us. We love horror movies and we play all our favorites on big monitors sitting atop pillars made of bones. Each and every day, around midnight, we watch one we've never seen before and then write our own personal reviews on parchments made of human flesh. We eat meat, lots of meat medium rare, as there's no better way to cap off a day of quality head-banging and gore soaked cinematic mayhem than with a slightly bloody iron-rich steak!

I Started this blog to give you, the mortal, a taste of what is to come! To dispel all those nasty rumors about me, "The Lord of Flies." What's the alternative, huh? Golden streets? That's too gaudy for my tastes. We shall pave our streets with black and red, colors endorsed by such personalities as Dracula, The Shadow, and Daredevil (I like his fashion sense by the way)! Do you want to sit on fluffy white balls of gas known as clouds for eternity? Or your own custom throne studded with the eyes of thine enemies! That's what I thought. So, follow me, as I write daily about the entertainment that really matters. Don't fill your head with American Idol, Taylor Swift, Kanye West, or One Direction! Listen to me, the curator of cool. Don't torture your eyes with the endless slew of remakes, rehashes, re-imaginings, teenage musicals, and CGI-laden borefests. Watch what delights I have to recommend you. I have seen these fads come and go over the millennia and I have become wiser for having witnessed their demise. Remember, a good ghoulish pot of horror never loses its furvor and heavy metal will never die!

To start things off, I'm going to give you my best of 2012 lists. Each day after this (if not much is going on in Hell) I will go back to my vaults and review twisted delights from years a go. For now, ponder these lists and await my sinister whispers in your ear. When you hear me you will know I have returned from the terrible depths to command the living to listen and watch as I see fit.


Ahhhhhhhhh! 2012 was a bad year for horror. I saw Lovely Molly and checked online for the latest updates on American Mary, the Maniac remake, and The Lords of Salem but it looks like I'll have to wait until the new year to see them in theaters or DVD. Because it was a pretty lackluster year for my favorite genre (Though I'm sure I'm just forgetting about a couple great ones that did come out), I'm going to recommend some old classics to sink your teeth into.

  1. Tourist Trap
  2. Brotherhood of Satan
  3. The Cat and the Canary (1927)
  4. The Gore Gore Girls
  5. Warlock Moon
  6. The Mummy (1932)
  7. The House on the Edge of the Park
  8. Torso
  9. The Son of Frankenstein
  10. Phantom of the Paradise

Now, music was another story. There were some tasty tunes this year. I don't think I can lower my list to 10! So instead I'm gonna list 20.


1. Rush Clockwork Angels

2. Woods of Ypres Woods 5: Grey Skies and Electric Light

3. Candlemass Psalms for the Dead

4. Saint Vitus Lillie F-65

5. Huntress Spell Eater

6. Prong Carved into Stone

7. Municipal Waste The Fatal Feast

8. Grand Magus The Hunt

9. Orange Goblin A Eulogy for the Damned

10. Kiss Monster

11. UFO Seven Deadly

12. Sigh In Somniphobia

13. Kill Devil Hill Kill Devil Hill

14. Overkill The Electric Age

15. Van Halen A Different Kind of Truth

16. Ministry Relapse

17. Black Breath Sentenced to Life

18. Accept Stalingrad

19. Running Wild Shadowmaker

20. Demon Unbroken

21. Kreator Phantom Antichrist

22. Down IV Part 1: The Purple EP

23. Dokken Broken Bones

24. Tygers of Pan Tang Ambush

25. Neurosis Honor Found in Decay

26. Sister Sin Now and Forever

Okay, so I ended up listing more than 20 but they're good. It's hard to decide. What will 2013 sound like? Well there are new releases from Helloween, Deep Purple, Voivod, Krokus, and Cathedral on the horizon we know of. There've also been mentions of new material from King Diamond, Motley Crue, Dream Theater, Trouble, and Anthrax. Last I heard Thin Lizzy, now calling themselves "The Black Star Riders," are in the studio as are Megadeth, Anvil, SaxonAlice in Chains, Rob Zombie, and Ghost. Tool has hinted at the possibility of new material and Black Sabbath and Judas Priest have been talking new albums for what seems like an eternity now. Motorhead is due for another release if Lemmy's 2-3 year model for new releases remains consistent and Alice Cooper has apparently already been putting together some concepts for a new album, likely to come out at the end of the year or early 2014. This is what I've heard from various news outlets, interviews, and video clips whilst awaiting new souls to enter my dominion. 

So long 2012! Burn....

p.s. This blog is merely intended as humor and information. Don't be a prude. Lighten up. Eat something fried, take in an R-Rated movie, look at a dirty book, say a cuss word out loud, and drive 5 mph over the speed limit for just 30 seconds. You'll be glad you did.