Monday, 15 May 2017

Undertaker - The Phenom

In the late 90s, it was hard to catch up on wrestling storylines that had gone by. Obviously, there was no streaming, and releasing weekly wrestling TV shows on VHS would have been absurdly expensive and impractical. There were, occasionally, character-specific Tapes that would get released for the most popular wrestlers, containing highlights from the past year or two, and if you're lucky, maybe even a few complete matches. I have two of these old tapes (well, technically, I have the DVD rereleases they got when the format was new and they were just trying to get as much stuff out there for people to buy as possible), and while the other one, Three Faces of Foley, is fairly conventional in its presentation, showing promos and matches between out-of-character segments where Mick Foley bestows fatherly advice upon young Matt and Jeff Hardy, The Phenom takes a totally different approach.

There's no new video footage on this release, for example, nor are there any interviews with The Undertaker, in- or out-of-character. What we get instead are summaries of his feuds from 1996 up to the end of 1998, with Mankind, Kane, Shawn Michaels, and so on. We get to see the most dramatic parts of matches, as well as various promos and vignettes and other storyline stuff. The masterstroke, though, is in the presentation: dramatic orchestral music has been added to almost everything, and each new segment is introduced with dramatic narration from Classy Fred Blassie.

This is all incredibly effective, and makes The Undertaker, Kane, Mankind and Paul Bearer into the straight to video 90s horror icons they were always meant to be. And this DVD ends just before the formation of the Ministry of Darkness, so you get all the insane familial drama, the magically-summoned flames and bolts of lightning, and all that cool supernatural stuff that's sorely missing from current mainstream wrestling (I know there's Bray Wyatt, and he's both a talented guy and an awesome character, but the way they're booking him is atrocious).

It's been out of print for well over a decade, and it doesn't look like WWE have any interest in uploading any of their (or ECW's, for that matter) home video-only stuff to the network, but if you can track a copy down at a reasonable price, The Phenom is an excellent way to spend an hour.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Grimes and Let It Die (PS4)

Okay, I understand your disappointment that the first post on my non-videogames blog in half a year is about a videogame, but I promise there'll be another one soon. Ish. I hope. Anyway, this is just a thing I've noticed, and I posted about it on a forum ages ago, and it seems like no-one else has said anything about it on the internet as far as I can tell, so I might as well put this post out there for prosperity.

The "it" in question is, of course, the many aesthetic parallels and similarities between the music video for the song Kill V. Maim by Grimes, and the videogame Let it Die: abandoned, dirty subway stations and industrial-looking areas, makeshift weaponry, people wearing breathing masks, and generally a casual attitude towards death and violence are objects and themes the two works share.

Kill V. Maim came out first, on the fourth of March 2016, with Let it Die being released almost exactly nine months later on the third of December. I think the similarities are probably coincidental though, as Let it Die famously had a very long development time. Plus, Grimes herself has apparently said that the video was supposed to be like a trailer for an imaginary movie that's like The Godfather, except with a vampire protagonist who can switch gender and travel tthrough space, which is exactly the kind of shameless disregard for traditional narrative and setting that I can respect.

One last thing, the vehicle shot near the start of Kill V. Maim really brings to mind Zoot's police car/chariot from the first season of the New Zealand teen apocalysoap The Tribe: