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Sunday, December 15, 2013

Series Review: Todd & The Book Of Pure Evil

The title is fairly self-explanatory. Todd is a numbskull metalhead who must save his high school from an evil book with wish-granting powers. Anyone who uses the book's powers will find thier deepest desires backfire and ultimately be destroyed by their own wish. (Monkey paw rules, ya know?) The book also has a sinister connection to the mysterious thrasher dudes who hang out in the parking lot of Crowley High. Oh yeah, did I mention that the school is run by Satanists? Even the dweeby, sweater-vest wearing guidance counselor, Atticus Murphy, is not what he seems. He is an occultist, conspiring to get his hands on the book and deliver it to his secret society of Devil Worshipers. Todd must outfox Atticus and a whole slew of other villains as he confronts the book, which he himself unwittingly unleashed.

Fighting on his side is a ragtag group of unlikely friends.  Todd's best friend is Curtis, an outcast stoner with a prosthetic arm. The hot-but-bitchy Goth girl Jenny is convinced that the book is somehow responsible for her father's disappearance. The shy, sweet, and nerdy Hannah provides the brain power. Last but not least, Jason Mewes (AKA Jay of Jay and Silent Bob) is the guru-like janitor who dispenses drugs and sage advice. Together they form a gang to seek the book and prevent the utter destruction of Crowley High. Naturally, high school being a fertile cesspool of hormonally driven angst, the book runs amok and causes rampant destruction, despite the gang's effort to quell it.

For the most part, the series relies on over-the-top slapstick gore, cheesy humor, and predictable plots.  Although it leans on a crutch of so-bad-it's-almost-funny, it was an entertaining series, and even the corny episodes are mildly amusing. The low budget is apparent, but some episodes are surprisingly well made, with more witty humor and moments of genuinely disturbing horror. My personal favorite is Checkmate. This is a well-rounded, funny, scary episode that showcases the good qualities of the series.

Speaking of low budgets, they couldn't afford to complete the saga, so the animated(!) finale is expected to be released in the Spring of 2014. Meanwhile, you can watch the series on Netflix, Amazon, or interact with the official website.

Overall, the series was hit and miss, and I was occasionally  disappointed with the repetitive, immature jokes and shameless, self-aware corniness. Three stars are my judgement.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Damn Dirty Apes: The Apes Of Wrath

First of all, the cover art is a bunch of monkeys sitting on toilets. That is hilarious. (Naturally, they're doing the see/hear/speak no evil pose, because why the hell not.) If you think the art is funny, just wait til you hear the music. That's not to say it's bad. On the contrary, they have the same tongue-in-cheek rambunctious quality that made early Thrash and Punk  so enjoyable.  Their musical style is reminiscent of Anthrax: Simple and catchy, with rebellious lyrics and somewhat repetitive melodies. The riffs are basic hooks, the bass can incorporate a  funky groove at times, and the shouted vocals portray irreverent lyrics.   Their sense of humor is spot on, and the music is thoroughly entertaining.

  The Apes Of Wrath was released in 2011 by Overdose On Records.  You can check it out on Reverbnation, Stereokiller, and Cdbaby. You can also visit the band on their own website.

In a nutshell, Apes Of Wrath is a nostalgic flashback to the 80's, emulating the style of  old-school Thrash with a heavy influence of Punk Rock. The verdict: 3 stars.