In late 2012 I was fortunate enough to receive a screener for an independent horror film called GUT, which turned out to be rather a nifty movie indeed (you can read the review here). One element of the film which stood out was the score, which was pretty minimalist and in my review I used words such as 'harsh' and 'jarring' - but in a good way of course. It was the perfect accompaniment to the disturbing imagery that was on offer. The man behind that particular soundtrack is a musician who goes by the name of Chvad SB and for the last fortnight I've been giving his new album a thorough listening to.

CRICKETS WERE THE COMPASS is an instrumental album comprised of six tracks and running for just shy of an hour. In the release which came with the CD it's described as 'a testament of loss' and despite the fact that the music is unaccompanied by lyrics the inner sleeve of the case has the track listing with each song followed by a line or two of abstract dialogue. By themselves the words don't make a whole lot of sense but when read all together and in order they make up something almost like a brief story or a poem. And this is where the 'testament of loss' quote starts to become more clear. There's something desolate about the album from the cover depicting a lone dog in some kind of post-apocalyptic wasteland to the track names which include 'It Haunts Her' and 'The Dust Cloud Permeates'. And (at least in my opinion) the music contained on the disc seems to continue the trend.

The album kicks off with 'It Haunts Her' - 7 minutes of undulating drone punctuated by discordant strings which ends in what I can only describe as the musical equivalent of a death rattle.
'A Hair Before Sundown' follows with some really squelchy sounding modulation and sparse percussion which fades away to make way for 'The Dust Cloud Permeates' - the longest track coming in at over 14 minutes. It may be a tad too long for most people but for me it was probably the centerpiece of the album. It's very layered and varies from harsh to melodic and then back again, it's the kind of track that you can keep listening to and each time you'll find something that you hadn't noticed before.
Rather than continuing to describe each track I'm going to stop right here. Let's face it, if you like what you've read so far then you'll enjoy the remaining tracks as well. Don't like what you've read so far? Then this album isn't for you, but just to make sure you should probably scroll down a little and listen to the album opener anyway.

 Excuse my pessimism for a moment but I have to be honest -  whenever somebody asks me to review their new CD I kind of expect to receive a recording from some kid's pop-punk garage band, or some generic metal. It's not often I actually end up being sent something that fits my musical interests so well. It's happened in the past with CAPA's SHALLOW TOWERS and it's happened once again with this album. Lately I've been listening to a lot of YELLOW MAGIC ORCHESTRA, CABARET VOLTAIRE and EINSTÜRZENDE NEUBAUTEN and so in a way CRICKETS WERE THE COMPASS kind of fit in there comfortably for me. It's not an easy CD to recommend unless you listen to a lot of ambient / drone or old school industrial type stuff. It's also not an easy album to describe, but somehow I'm going to try anyway. Imagine for a second that Jean Michel Jarre got drunk on Absinthe and ended up writing the soundtrack to ERASERHEAD, because that's the only way I can describe this right now. It's a long, drifting sonic soundscape which can be as stark and aggressive as it can be soothing and melodic.
If movie soundtracks, experimental , ambient and/or minimalist music is your thing then do yourself a favor and check out CHVAD SB's CRICKETS WERE THE COMPASS. Listen to the track below and if you really like it you can head over to Siber Records and buy the album.

Official Chvad SB site.

Official Chvad SB Facebook Page.


SAMURAI ZOMBIE (2008) Review

Directed by: Tak Sakaguchi
Starring: Mitsuro Fukukoshi, Issei Ishida, Tak Sakaguchi

A lot of Japanese zombie films such as BIG TITS ZOMBIE, ONECHANBARA, WILD ZERO and a whole host of others tend to be in that really over the top goofy, cartoony style that the Japanese seem to love so much. As such they really present themselves as almost parodies rather than actual horror flicks. And when you look at the filmography of actor / director Tak Sakaguchi and see such films as DEADBALL, BATTLEFIELD BASEBALL and TOKYO GORE POLICE it would be easy to assume that SAMURAI ZOMBIE is going to be just another wacky Japanese zombie flick with gallons of blood. I was however surprised to find that it takes a much darker and more serious approach to the genre and as much as I love a batshit crazy splatterfest I found this to be a refreshing change.

A man and his family are on a road trip through the quaint countryside when out of nowhere a man appears in the middle of the road pointing a gun. Unable to stop, the driver ploughs through the gunman before skidding to a halt. Far from dead the man with the gun rises and takes aim once again when suddenly a volley of gunshots rings out and bullets rip through his back. A second gunman appears along with his female partner and they take the family hostage, forcing them to drive through the cursed countryside where the dead never really die.

The rest of the film is basically a siege with the handful of people trapped and being stalked by deadly Samurai zombies. The main zombie in full Samurai armor looks totally badass and acts as almost a Japanese Jason Voorhees, constantly getting up after being knocked down. He decapitates his victims and uses the blood from their severed heads to raise more zombies. All of the zombie effects here are surprisingly good and a far cry from the simply greenish grey facepaint I'm used to seeing in Japanese zombie flicks. And the zombies are only really zombies in the sense that they are resurrected corpses. They're not the usual shambling, neck chomping sort but a more aggressive and even intelligent type. In fact in a way the film plays out more like a ghost story.

The story which follows the main group of people is pretty weak and very confusing as not a lot is ever really explained. There is what I assume is supposed to be a twist at the film's end but it just made things even more confusing and felt tacked on in my opinion. There is also a bit of subplot involving two police officers which adds a little humor to the movie but not much else. The acting is not exactly what you'd call award-winning but it is a lot better than I expected and everybody does a decent job. Even though I mentioned this isn't as bizarre or over the top as something like TOKYO GORE POLICE or THE MACHINE GIRL you can see a bit of that Japanese trademark creep in during the decapitation scenes which are followed by an impossibly huge fountain of blood spurting from people's neck-holes. All in all though I actually thought that SAMURAI ZOMBIE was a decent effort if a little bland and quite confusing. But if you're expecting another Japanese splatterfest you will be disappointed.


BIG TITS ZOMBIE (2010) Review

Directed by: Takao Nakano
Starring: Sola Aoi, Risa Kasumi, Mari Sakurai

BIG TITS ZOMBIE. The title alone is probably enough for anybody to decide whether or not they really want to watch it. Alternative titles include BIG TITS DRAGON (which confused me because there isn't a single dragon in the entire film) and OSEN ZOMBIE VS. STRIPPER 5 (still confusing because I'm certain there aren't four previous flicks). Further investigation shows that director Takao Nakano is responsible for straight-to-video films with titles such as SEXUAL PARASITE: KILLER PUSSY and SUMO VIXENS. Still can't make up your mind? Well what if I told you that more than one of the female stars also work in the Japanese adult film business? In fact I remember reading the press release for this film and it went out of its way to promote Sola Aoi, pointing out her bust, waist and hip measurements and even her nickname "Baby Face Big Tits". I swear I'm not making this shit up. Oh and to top it all off the movie was filmed in 'tittylicious 3D' which turns out to be regular old anaglyphic 3D.

I'm sure by now you've realized that what passes for plot in a film like this is pretty much irrelevant but I'll run through it anyway. A troupe of strippers discover a hidden door which leads to a secret passage which in turn leads them to find an ancient tome which just so happens to be the Book of the Dead. Maria (Sakurai) is the only person who believes in the book's power and to prove it she reads aloud a few passages which are supposed to raise the dead. At first nothing happens but soon they find themselves surrounded by zombies. Cue a lot of titties, chainsaws, katanas and digital blood. Oh and a fire-breathing vagina (see below).

Now obviously this film is aimed at the male population and the big drawcard here is the three words which comprise the title. These three words bring up three questions. How many tits do we get to see? Just how big are they? And what's the zombie quotient?
As memory serves there are only two pair of tits which probably get a couple of minutes of screen time and at one point a thick drenching of blood. They're not considerably big I suppose but you won't hear me arguing that point. The camera does like to zoom in for lots of close-up crotch and ass shots but keeping with Japanese tradition we don't see any genitals. As for the zombies there is quite a substantial number and they range from geisha zombies to samurai zombies, nurse zombies and even a dried fish zombie and some fresh sushi zombies.

The main cast may be pretty damn hot but as you would imagine the acting is dreadful. At one point these strippers put on a stage show which is incredibly boring (strippers boring?) and all of the girls look extremely uninterested. The zombie effects are pretty amateur and the film is rife with CGI blood sprays. The silver lining here is that the movie is only 73 minutes long and a lot of that time is spent showing scantily clad women shaking their sexy bodies about. BIG TITS ZOMBIE is everything you would expect it to be but in a way it may be less than what you would expect. It's not nearly as perverted or bizarre as it could be but it does deliver on the title's promise and if that's good enough for you then that's all that matters. As for me I found it to be an entertaining way to spend 73 minutes but nothing special or worth revisiting. Four big tits out of ten.


Directed by: Jun Tsugita
Starring: Asami, Saori Hara, Yûya Ishikawa

Jun Tsugita is better known for being a writer. He worked on MUTANT GIRLS SQUAD, DEAD SUSHI and TOMIE: UNLIMITED among others. As a director this is his first real feature and since I loved MUTANT GIRLS SQUAD I thought I'd check it out. Much like the last film I reviewed (BIG TITS ZOMBIE) this movie's title gives you a good idea of what you should expect to see over its 75 minute running time.

As you may expect the plot isn't exactly the film's strong point but I'll lay it out for you anyway. Three friends spot a new massage parlor / brothel and upon seeing just how cheap it is they decide to give it a try. One of the trio Nakatsu (Ishikawa) is reluctant because he is about to get married but eventually his pals talk him into it. Upon entering the trio are presented with three female asses pushed through some cut-out holes in a wall. After giving the asses a good poke and prod they get to choose which one they want. While his two friends are taken to their rooms Nakatsu is left waiting for his girl to fetch him. But instead of moans of pleasure coming from his friends he hears bloodcurdling screams and realizes that this brothel isn't what it seems.

So yeah it's about a brothel where the girls brutally tear off their clients' penises. There's some pretty pointless subplot about one of the girls Nagisa (Hara) who is 'sick of the taste of blood' and Nakatsu's friends who accuse him of quitting the baseball team because he's completely pussy-whipped but more importantly there are boobs and blood. The three working girls are all sexy and aggressive and they all strip down and give the camera plenty of flesh to film before they rid their clients of their man-bits.

The effects supervisor here is Yoshihiro Nishimura (TOKYO GORE POLICE, THE MACHINE GIRL) so of course there is a lot of blood spraying all over the place although in terms of other digital effects he seems to have toned it down from his usual way over the top style. And this is the film's trademark. Despite the fact that it's about prostitutes who mutilate mens' genitals the movie really doesn't push the envelope or break any new ground when it comes to perversion and bad taste. If you've seen any other films Nishimura has worked on or Tsugita has scripted then you will probably be disappointed with this effort. But I won't deny that the film is entertaining and there are actually a few laugh out loud moments to be had here. It's not a film I think I'd watch again any time soon though. Four disembodied penises out of ten.


Directed by: Yumai Yamaguchi
Starring: Tak Sakaguchi, Atsushi Itô, Hideo Sakaki

I have to admit that I have a bit of a man crush on Tak Sakaguchi. Every movie I've seen him in he plays an absolutely cool-as-ice badass. The kind of guy who will be confronted with ten other guys who want to kick his ass and with no problem at all he'll kick all their asses without even breaking a sweat. He's like a Japanese Clint Eastwood or something.

Like a lot of Japanese films this is an adaptation of a manga which unfortunately I have not read so therefore I can't say how close it is to the source material. What I can say however is that it shares more than a few similarities to the 2011 flick DEADBALL, and with good reason. Both films were directed by Yudai Yamaguchi, both star Tak Sakaguchi as the lead character Jubei, both have a character named Four Eyes and both are about a deadly variation on the popular sport of baseball. DEADBALL however is not a sequel but more of a re-imagining.

Principal of Sudei High School and manager of the school's baseball team has a star team and is ready to take them to the next level. Unfortunately he finds out that their first game is against the brutal Gedo High team who will literally destroy his team. The only hope he has of winning is recruiting transfer student Jubei (Takaguchi). But Jubei has pledged never to play baseball again after his amazingly powerful pitch killed his father. Obviously he is convinced to join the team but will that be enough to defeat the deadly Gedo High team?

Even though I haven't read the manga it's easy enough to see the influence. BATTLEFIELD BASEBALL is full of that kind of over the top cartoon violence, slapstick humor and cheesy sentimental scenes that you see in a lot of Japanese cinema. And the way it resurrects characters so matter of factly is both absurd and hilarious. Take this line for example:
 - "Head Teacher! You're alive!"
 - "Yes I've returned as a cyborg, thanks to advanced technology!"

That's what this movie is like. Completely absurd.
Contrary to the title there is little actual baseball played here. Most of the 'game' consists of the competitors brutally beating each other or playing 'fighting baseball' There's plenty of red stuff splashed around and some of the action scenes and fight choreography are pretty neat, but DEADBALL does all of this a lot better and it also has Nazis in it so if you have a choice go for that. Or you could just watch both. I'm giving this five bloodstained baseballs out of ten.