Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Army of Darkness and New Belgium's 1554

Today is a very special day.  My blog has just reached 10,000 hits.  No small feat.  We’re not exactly failblog but we’re passionate about what we do here.  And by “we” I mean “I”.

Thank you for tuning in for part three of my series on Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead franchise.  The third one takes a wacky path away from the first.  It’s actually shot to be a standalone film and given a new title instead of the expected Evil Dead 3.  This is the big budget production for the masses instead of the previous two which were targeted at the small, but passionate, indie horror fan.  I will say that despite the fact that some of these movies that I review skirt the edges of the genre I put them in because they in some way belong.  This film does not.  I am filled with self doubt and disgust at the very idea of calling this a zombie movie.  You know what just through poltergeist in the list then!  Hellraiser was undead right?  Maybe I should review Death Becomes Her because I’m pretty damn sure that’s a zombie movie in some weird twisted way.  I digress.  The first two movies were more “demon resurrection” than zombie but I allowed them in, Army of Darkness…..does not belong in this list.  Except….IT’S AWESOME!!!  So I’m going to put it in anyway.
The beer tonight was a story much like love.  You never find it when you actively seek it out ( would disagree) but as soon as you feel content and free love beer…ummm…LOVE..finds you!  There I was in the beer isle of QFC, looking for that six dollar six pack to get me through the weekend when I find something I’ve never seen before.  Great Scott!!!  It’s another New Belgium brew.  Since I’m a fan of the Belgians, especially the dark strongs, I decided it was worth a try.  There is a story behind the beer.  Much like Dogfish Head’s Midas Touch this beer was a recreation of a very old recipe.  Not as old as the pyramids…..but old.  Like 1554 old!  The original recipe was destroyed in a flood so the scientist and brewer flew to Belgium and worked through outdated units of measurement and many trial and errors before this beautiful beer was born.  Pick some up and enjoy!
So Army of Darkness starts out with a five minute recap of the entire Evil Dead 2 movie and before you know it Ash is in the middle of some medieval blood feud made worse by the constant lingering evil of the “Deadites”.  This movie is so corn you could eat it with butter.  It’s like watching Bruce Lee play chess.  Yea I’m sure he’s probably pretty good but that’s not what you pay to see Bruce Lee for!  There is a lot less blood in this movie.  With the exception of that blood explosion at The Pit!  But what this movie lacks in over the top gore it makes up in originality and fun.  In this movie Bruce Campbell takes “Ash” to the next level.  He gives the character this smug overconfidence that is over the top and comical and pairs it with a strange mix of cowardly and total badass.  Sometimes he’s screaming and running other times he’s unloading a no-look shotgun blast into a witch.  You never know what you’re going to get.
Let me talk about the beer before I get into the movie.  This beer is smaller than what I hoped for.  The website says it’s 5.6% but I could have sworn the bottle said it was a smidge higher.  It’s only got 21 IBUs which is not uncommonly low for a Belgian.  I usually pass by anything smaller than a double because some of the smaller Belgian beers I find too one dimensional.  I know a Belgian blond can be rich and complex but I find rarely more so than a good triple.  As I pour this baby out I must say I’m impressed.  It’s got a dense thick head that billows to the brim of my Sam Adams signature glass and a deep mahogany body with scarlet red notes when you lift it to the light.  It’s a gorgeous beer if there ever was one.  And it smells the way I want all women to smell; like a toasty (almost slightly burnt) chocolate biscuit.  I know call me crazy.  And I love my women (woman, I’m married) to have a lingering aroma of dark roasted coffee, maple syrup, and earthy English hops.  Hot damn!  There is that sweet bready slap of Belgian yeast that lets you know that you’re about to savor something special.  I do my ceremonial swirl, double sniff, and then dive in for a taste.  It’s got muted chocolate tones swirling with bready toasted malt and enough roasted malt to stand your tongue up on end.  There is a long pull of more roasted character that lingers in the aftertaste.  With only a medium to medium low body this beer is surprisingly flavorful.  It’s…”quaffable but uh…far from transcendent”, (Sideways quote).  This is a mighty fine beer that will be another fixture in my fridge.  It’s perfect for the warm summer nights that you still want a dark beer but you don’t want the heaviness.  This is a high volume beer.  I had to stop myself from steaming through the whole pack.
Back to the movie.  I’ll give it to you quick and dirty.  Ash needs to retrieve the book of the dead in order to get back to his own time.  He travels off as a hero and gets the book, but he does it incorrectly thus unleashing an army of the dead (the zombies?)  This army is mostly skeletons but I guess you could maybe call them zombies?  Like a whale is sort of like a fish?  Ash wants to take off now that he has the book and leave the townspeople to fend for themselves.  What will he do?   Will he stay and be a hero or will he transport himself back home while he still can?  If you haven’t seen the movie and I’m keeping you in suspense then you’ve dropped serious cool points.
Movie Highlights – Here we come to a segment I like to call Matt’s Movie Highlights.  Here we discuss the best parts of the film, be it a two second clip or an entire scene.  Here goes.

The Pit – Probably my favorite scene in the movie.  Right off the bat where the throw the first guy in and he turns into a blood geyser.  The part where Ash jumps up to catch (connect into) his chainsaw in midair is one of the greatest scenes in movie history.  Then Ash triumphantly emerges from the bit and goes on his Boom-Stick rant…..classic.
 The Witch – Ash yells out “Yo, she bitch! Let's go.”  had me rolling.  But, that wasn’t the part that made it great.  The greatness came when Ash delivered the backwards shotgun blast to put her down for good and then did that badass shake thing.
Groovy – Ash gets a robot hand, crushes a cup, says groovy.  It was much cooler than it sounds.
Schizophrenia - In this beauty Ash is confronted by his evil self.  He actually splits in two like an amoeba.  During the fight his evil self starts slapping him and acting silly saying "I'm BAD Ash, and you're GOOD Ash" and ranting on till good Ash puts the shotgun in his face and says "Good, bad, I'm the guy with the gun." Shit yea.  Always wanted to say that but as of yet haven't found the right time.
Then there’s a bunch of slaphappy humor that I’m not too big on.
Death Car – Ash takes his 1973 Oldsmobile and turns it into a steam powered death machine with a giant spinning blade.  It’s awesome to levels I didn’t think were achievable without mild altering substances.
Those are my favorites.  The movie as a standalone is very entertaining.  I hesitate to call it great because it was missing a lot of the gore and over the top violence that made me such a fan of the first two movies.  This film focused more on Three Stooges-esqe humor.  Not a fan.  Despite the great acting (I’m talk about Ash), fun characters, and fresh new plot I still only put it at the very good level.  I know there are many diehard fans out there who will disagree but I think there could have and should have been more.  I look forward to Evil Dead 4 as a hopeful tribute to the Evil Dead and not to Army of Darkness.

The Beer:
Aroma – 10/12
Appearance – 3/3
Taste – 17/20
Palate – 4/5 
   Overall – 8/10
Total = 42/50
The Movie:
Production – 5/5
Plot – 5/5
Gore – 2/5
 Zombies – 2/5 (i'm sorry but they weren't really zombies)

  Overall – 3.5/5

Friday, August 26, 2011

Evil Dead II and Ninkasi Tricerihops DIPA

I'm finally ready to take the advice of a friend of mine and review movies as a set instead of all hodge-podge like.  I have mentioned my biker/zombie loving/punk rocker friend in past entries but I think it’s time I gave him a name.  No he’s not imaginary, he’s just stealthy and there is a “no name drop” clause.  I was going to call him Dr. Know after the guitarist for the Bad Brains but he decided a more fitting name would be John Doe (of X fame).  Mr. Doe and I spent many hours discussing the inns and outs of zombies.  Thank you John Doe for your continued support and insite….Evil Dead II here we go!
While roaming the beer isles in search of a budget friendly bomber of beer (a BUFBOB) I saw a beer that has been on my “yea I’ll get around to it” list for a while.  I put it on my list when Solarjinx mentioned he was drinking Total Dommination (another awesome beer I will be reviewing soon).  This was none other than Ninkasi Tricerihops DIPA.  In my dyslectic (and partially drunken) stupor I had wandered by this beer dozens of times.  I had always mistaken it for Nikiski.  They both start with N and end in I.  The rest I smudged together.  Five bucks….done!  Thanks Solarjinx!
The first time I watched this movie I was confused.  It seemed just like the first one?  Granted, it's not totally the same but it was close.  Instead of 5 people there is just the 2 but they go to the same cabin and find the tape recorder with the translation of the book of the dead on it.  I did some reading and found out that this was the movie that Sam Raimi wanted to make the first time but didn't have the budget to.  The camera work is of the same high quality and creative nature as the first but this time it's a little more fun.  It starts much faster than the original.  In fact it almost starts too fast.  Within 5 minutes the evil spirit has captured Linda's soul (his girlfriend).  Raimi doesn't waste a lot of time with the drive to the cabin, discovering the cabin, and Ash giving Linda the necklace.  It's just "wow what a nice cabin" then "oh shit evil spirit possessed talking zombie things!!!"  Just like that.  I mean....Ash hears glass breaking.....his girlfriend is gone.....then when he finds her outside with crazy white eyes he immediately chops her head off.  No questions, no hesitation, just WHAM!!!!  NO MORE HEAD.  If everyone had this sort of no-nonsense decision making skills I wouldn't worry so much about the zombie apocalypse.
I take every evaluation seriously.  I take all the proper steps and follow the procedures laid out by those before me……most of the time.  Tonight was not one of those nights.  I drank four or five Deschutes Inversion IPAs and hate a Chipotle burrito with extra hot sauce.  So what I’m saying is that my taste buds aren’t at their purest most sensitive state.  My taste buds are a Michael Spinks in the embarrassing 31 seconds of my heavyweight title fight.  But, somehow, bravely, I fight through.  I pop the cap and pour that lazy peach colored liquid into my narrow tulip glass and silently admire as the tiny bubbles form a dense bread like head.  I’m cowering in fear as the rush of grapefruit, salty pine, and orange smash explode in my nose like a face fuck of flavor.  Yea I said it.  Pineapple and honey overtake me as I slip further into the glass.  I sip…..masterful.  Even with my salsa stained tongue I can clearly taste the sweet bready malt, covered with honey, and dripping with hops.  It’s much more balanced than I expected and much less bitter than I hoped.  It was unexpectedly refreshing.  As an IIPA I think it was less bitter than the Inversions I drank earlier (but maybe that’s the beer talkin).  It finishes smooth and long but without that little bite on your tongue.  My fear has subsided (of the beer not the movie, the movie is still terrifying (sort of)).  I welcome everyone with an extra five spot to experience this beer as a nod to the art of beer making.  It’s crafty.  But as a masochist I am left missing the pain that a Double IPA should bring.  I mean where’s the abuse in that?
The special effects on this one are vastly superior to the first movie.  It’s as if Evil Dead got all stoked up on coke and speed and decided to rob banks naked.  That’s what this film is.  And who took the muzzle off Bruce Campbell.  That bit of restraint that he had in the first film is completely demolished.  I’d go as far to say it’s not even the same guy.  His expressions are as over the top as the special effects.  The second movie adds some twists like the bit with the chainsaw (threw me for a loop the first time), the cool mirror effect, and the whole cutting off his own hand thing was pretty nice.  Raimi took everything he did well and made it better.  If there was a pipe that splattered him with blood in the first one, now it sprayed with the power of a fire hose.
It's horror and comedy smashed together into one of the most enjoyable performances I’ve ever seen.  I clearly see why this one is a horror movie classic.  If you haven’t seen it you NEED to see it.  In fact you should probably buy it.  I look forward to reviewing the fun but gentler Army of Darkness next and look out in the next couple years for Evil Dead 4!  It's in the works.

The Beer:
Aroma – 8/12
Appearance – 3/3
Taste – 15/20
Palate – 4/5 
   Overall – 7/10

Total = 37/50
The Movie:
Production – 5/5
Plot – 5/5
Gore – 5/5
 Zombies – 2/5 (i'm sorry but they weren't really zombies)
  Overall – 4/5

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The Evil Dead and Old Rasputin Russian Imperial Stout

It is time for a booze fueled review of Sam Raimi's holy trilogy of slaphappy horror.  It's EVIL DEAD!  1981 hasn't been the same since.  You can't talk about The Evil Dead without talking about Bruce Campbell.  Who?  BRUCE FUCKING CAMPBELL THAT'S WHO!!!  Before getting fat and lazy as Sam Axe on Burn Notice he was a horror movie hero....well a b-rate horror movie hero at least.   This guy gets his real time movie debut in one of the greatest horror movies ever!  He slams it out of the park!  Then he limped on for a bit not getting proper recognition until 1987 when Bruce did what Bruce does best......Ash.  He does Evil Dead 2 and his career explodes (as much as a b-rate horror career can, context people, context).  After that it was bad movie after bad movie (all great!!) until Army of Darkness (AKA Evil Dead 3) in 1992.  If you haven't seen these films then stop reading this post, report directly to Best Buy and slam your 30 bucks down on the counter for The Evil Dead (ULTIMATE EDITION).  You'll regret this less then your high school hair cut that's for sure.

A beer is a beer....until it becomes Old Rasputin.  Then it becomes something more.  Our friends over at RATEBEER.COM give this big bastard a rating of 100 overall with 98 for the style.  This is bigger and blacker than Ving Rhames so watch out.  It's 9% abv with 75 IBUs to kick you in the teeth and laugh as you sniffle.  It doesn't give a shit.  I guess that's the whole Russian thing?  Just kidding......but seriously.  And this beer is a cross legged, sheepish little wimp compared to Old Rasputin XII which is 11.2% abv, unknown IBUs, and more whiskey barrel character than you can probably handle.  Just leave it on the shelf.  You don't want to have to explain to your girlfriend why you spend $25 on a 22oz bottle of beer.  Yikes!!!  I wouldn't have this problem because i would tell my wife "My beer, Damn it!!"  With a grunt and a firey glare.  She would inquire no further......maybe.  Anyway this beast pours a thick thick black.  It's the portal to intoxication, the vile nectar of taste and punishment swirling around in an intimidating pool.  "Focus Daniel-san" (Mr. Miyagi joke).  Not only is this beer the blackest of the black but it's deep brown head tells you that this beer will stain your very soul.  Once you've been marked there is no return.  You can't undrink this beer.  You'll be stuck in beer hell, roaming the coolers with dead eyes while you fill your cart with $12 four packs.  That's what joke.

You start as the evil spirit in this movie, gliding over the autumn leaves and a pond.  As an evil spirit what do you encounter but a car with four young lovers (and a tag along) on their way to a cabin in the hills of Tennessee.  I'm not so scared of evil spirits and undead, i'm really scared of "Hill People"!     Their get away cabin has to be the creepiest most obvious setting for an evil spirit to brutaly murder people.  Come on!  Anywhere that has bones just hanging randomly in a shed is not a place you should hang out in.  It's the straight forward manner of this film that makes it so wonderful.  It's not going to pump fake and go deep on you.  No!  This son'fabich is going to pound the ball right down your throat until you give up.  The cinimatography is also just awesome.  So many films of this time frame use single shots for long periods of time and keep the same basic angles and points of view.  That makes it boring.  Not Sam Raimi though.  He uses lots of different shots, with multiple angles and keeps the camera moving.  While we are getting introduced to our characters they come across the book of the dead and a knife with a tiny skull and spine handle.  And the best part is they don't think there's anything weird about it.  All this foreshadowing is making me thirsty.
There's big aroma spilling out of this beer like a stab victim.  There's dark roasted malty goodness, caramel, burnt sugar, and tons of coffee.  There's also dark chocolate and this strange floral/citrus hoppiness that mingles with it all.  It's not overpowering it's empowering.  It's get up and do push ups good.  Now for the taste.....BOOM! (that was an explosion).  Some people say the taste is a bit of a let down and i say these people need to get real jobs and real friends.  It's affecting their ability to accurately taste beer.  It's thick and viscous (same thing?) and delivers a powerful blow of charred roasted malts and dark caramel.  The aroma is in the taste for sure.  There's the chocolate, and the coffee.  I don't think i have to say this but if you were to drink i cup of coffee and take a sip of this beer you wouldn't be like "ummmm which is which, i don't know!" but it's there in levels enough to be told.  Same thing with the chocolate.  The beer finishes big and with a long bitter and greasy aftertaste.  All of that in the best of ways.  This beer lingers on your tongue.  You don't drink this beer, the beer drinks you.
Our friends break out an old tape recorder and by playing the tape accidentally unleash an evil from the forest.  Ash is such a player.  He does the old "fake like your sleeping with a jewelry box in your hand".  What a card. He gives his girlfriend the gift that says "I love you" more than anything, a women's best friend, a circular piece of glass necklace!!!!  How romantic.  You get a brief shot of side boob and then it's on to the haunting.  Brace yourself for one of the most wildly inappropriate sex scenes in the history of horror movies.  One woman leaves the cabin in her robe in order investigate some strange noise when she is assaulted by some seriously perverted vines!  I mean they rip her clothes off and.....and.....well watch the movie because it's brutal and strange.  She turns into a zombie and has one of my favorite not for the squeamish scenes ever. She stabs a girl in the ankle with a pencil for like 5 minutes.  So they lock her in the basement.  But you can't stop evil.....not forest evil!  It takes another girl.  But, this one they throw on the fire.  Nice guys these two.  The blood is flying as limbs are being chopped off, people are eating their own limbs, and people are getting stabbed with skull knives.  All this is capped off with my favorite dismemberment with an axe scene.  Bing bang boom.
I could go on and on about the gore that is just splattered all over this movie but instead i thought it would be good to make a little list.  It will be quicker and more to the point.

The Evil Dead
2 Stabbings
1 Tree Rape
1 Shovel Beheading
1 Complete dismemberment with an ax
1 Blood pipe rupture
3 Gunshot wounds
2 Gouged out eyes
2 Total body liquefactions

  Amazing?......YES!  Zombies?.......maybe?  I mean this is included in every great zombie movie list and it sure as hell feels like it should go.  But to throw down and put this in a pile with Dawn and Day just doesn't feel right.  I mean it's really more of a possession movie than anything.  I think this movie probably fits better with 13 Ghosts than it does with The Horde, or Dead Alive.  So there you have it!!!  Not bad.  One of the best horror movies ever even.

The Beer:
Aroma – 11/12
Appearance – 3/3
Taste – 19/20
Palate – 5/5 
   Overall – 9/10
Total = 47/50

The Movie:
Production – 4/5
Plot – 5/5
Gore – 5/5
Zombies – 2/5
  Overall – 4/5