Marco Sfogli – reMarcoble

MarcoSfoglireMarcoble

Marco Sfogli – reMarcoble
JTC Records – 2012

Marco Sfogli sets the table for this skillfully melodic album with his “Intro.”  The Italian wundkind- guitarist plays a minute and a quarter of pretty guitar that establishes both gorgeous tone and a high degree of musicianship.

The clean rhythm guitar in “Jester’s Tears” is wonderful and a perfect backdrop for Sfogli to add super-fueled lead work on top of it.  The bass, keyboards and drums are superbly played and keep the song’s rhythmic structure intact.  Sfogli’s got amazing control and an innate feel for when to burn or cool down.

Marco

I love when a hard rock and metal guitarist incorporates funky guitar riffs because they make the music fun.  Marco plays such a cool funky riff in “The Reaction.”  His playing in this tune is really an acknowledgement to I believe his favorite guitar player Andy Timmons.  Sfogli jams on this pattern to take his guitar into all sorts of exciting realms that honor the former Danger Danger Texas guitarist.

Sfogli couldn’t title the fourth track any better than “reMarcoble.”  He plays lightning fast picking runs over a big chunky riff that is done with expert guitar marksmanship.  The pleasing succession of sounds is always kept at a premium and he even slows down to take a breather mid-way thru.  Marco’s tone in this track reminds me a little of Tony MacAlpine.  The run that takes you out of the song is sick.

The guitarist gets into a Satriani-like groove in “Far From Me.”  It’s amazing how the gentle acoustic riff can be transposed into a heavy distorted lick with equal measure.  Sfogli lays his heart out on the line with his passionate expression.  The drum work is fantastic and memorable.

“Heartburn” has a dark beginning that leads into heavy distorted guitar that‘s syncopated with the pounding drums.  The bass is strong in this song.  Sfogli’s quick picking really stands out and displays his talented ability.  But the most important thing is rooted in the arrangement of notes.

There’s an excellent video of “The Forest” you can watch on YouTube.  The camera angle is just positioned on Marco’s hands and his purple zebra Ibanez guitar.  It’s a great way to see how effortless and fluid he plays all the guitar parts on this seven-minute song.  From the unadulterated, almost acoustic to ripping shredding, it’s all right there to behold.  His performance is flawless and the song itself shows Sfogli’s mature grasp of music.  The saxophone towards the end is a nice touch.

I wonder if “Father To Son” is about Marco’s relationship with his father or his son?  The song has a warm relaxed groove that flows with love and compassion.  It’s obvious that Sfogli is playing it for someone that means a lot to him.  I love the way he breaks into the solo section; 2 minutes and 37 seconds into the track.  He holds onto the song’s recurring alternations, while embellishing it with some monster runs.  He smartly brings it back to some dual harmonizing, kind of like a representation of a father and son joining together.   Poignant work.

Marco2

The sad, dark series of guitar notes in “Save Yourself” is highlighted by a lively keyboard that lifts the tune up.  Marco’s main distorted guitar sings out this rocking tune with graceful explosive authoritative command.  I’m guessing the keyboards are from Matt Guillory, Sfogli’s band mate in James Labrie’s band.  The keys and the way they integrate together have the familiar dynamic interrelation the two musicians have developed since the Elements of Persuasion (2005) album.

“Song of Ben and C” begins a beautiful acoustic guitar that is sparked with life and love.  The cymbal percussion works beautifully with the guitar.  Sfogli implements a smooth jazz distortion less guitar that shows another element of his ever expanding range.

With “The Barbarian,” Sfogli goes out of this album with a forceful explanation point, punctuated by the hard striking active drums.  The notes and tone of the instrumentation that hit midway through are cool and atmospheric.

reMarcoble is appropriately titled for not only this fantastic second solo album, but about the guitarist himself.

www.marcosfogli.com

Evil Dead – Blu-ray

EvilDeadBR

Evil Dead – Blu-ray
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment – 2013

Directed by Fede Alvarez
Screenplay by Fede Alvarez, Rodo Sayagues

Starring
Jane Levy
Shiloh Fernandez
Lou Taylor Pucci
Jessica Lucas
Elizabeth Blackmore

I saw this in the movie theater when it came out in April.  At that time the movie left a pretty strong impression on me.  The Blu-ray reinforces that with a pristine transfer sporting superb image and knock-out sound.  It also comes packed with enough supplements to please any fan of the film or genre.

I have to say that this remake has to be the most violent film I’ve ever seen a major studio release.  There is a ton of bloodshed, which is appropriate considering The Evil Dead was a ground breaking juggernaut of gore and innovative camera acrobatics.

There is no doubt that the people behind this movie put their hearts and souls (couldn’t resist) into it.  The acting, Aaron Morton’s cinematography, Robert Gillies’ production design, Roque Baños’ music, the physical effects, make-up effects, visual FX and Bryan Shaw’s editing are all fantastic.

I think it was a good idea not to try to recreate the same characters from the first film, but rather use an entire new set in a similar situation.  The fact is Bruce Campbell was so good as “Ash” that anyone who would even attempt to play the part would pale in comparison.

I don’t think the prologue showing how the cabin became cursed was necessary.  Sometimes the less you know about a film’s threat, the more mysterious and cinematically magic they end up being (say Michael Myers in John Carpenter’s Halloween or the title character in The Mothman Prophecies).

I’m really impressed with Fede Alvarez.  The young filmmaker has a bold vision for this film and is unrelenting in his approach to horrifying the audience. His skills with actors, the camera and capturing effects are outstanding.  Maybe the thing that most stands out about Alvarez is that it’s obvious to me that he respects the original, yet isn’t afraid or timid to make this film his own.

As far as the story, I actually liked that the writers tried to ground the story by having the trip to the cabin in the woods be a drug intervention for Mia (Jane Levy).  Not only did it help give the characters an onscreen cause but lent to having her brother David (Shiloh Fernandez) and her friends; Eric (Lou Taylor Pucci), Olivia (Jessica Lucas) and David’s girlfriend, Natalie (Elizabeth Blackmore) to doubt her claims when weird things start happening because of her problem.

I think the cast did a real solid job.  Actress Jane Levy endures a tremendous amount of physical punishment as Mia.  She represents the Bruce Campbell part in this film.  Levy gets covered from head to toe in blood and is beaten to a pulp like Campbell was in the original.

Shiloh Fernandez is quite compassionate as David.  Without his sensitivity he film wouldn’t have an emotional center.

Special Features are: Making Life Difficult – captures the intense physically exhausting creation of the film.  Directing the Dead – Director Fede Alvarez Re-imagines the Cult Horror Classic.  Being Mia – Jane Levy’s physical and psychological transformation into “Evil Mia.”

Blu-Ray Exclusives include Cast & Filmmaker Commentary – which Alvarez and co-writer Rodo Sayagues join with actors Jane Levy, Lou Taylor Pucci and Jessica Lucas talk about making this movie. Unleashing the Evil Force – Tells the origins and design of the new Book of the Dead.  Evil Dead the Reboot – Bruce Campbell talks about the long gestation of finally making a new Evil Dead film, we get to see cast rehearsals, learn of Deadites and more.

There’s no way this film could ever replace Sam Raimi’s original film.  If you compare this against that low-budget pioneer film, it can’t touch it.  Even with The Evil Dead’s more amateurish production blemishes, including questionable acting, there’s an energy and cinematic glow that just can’t be equaled.  Never the less, I’ve heard some folks put this film down because of the comparison, which I don’t think is necessary or completely deserving.  In due time, people will look at this re-do with more affection because it definitely warrants it.  I highly recommend getting this Blu-ray.

www.sonypictures.com/bluray

 

Halloween 35th Anniversary (Blu-ray)

Halloween35thAnniversary

Halloween 35th Anniversary (Blu-ray)
Anchor Bay Entertainment – 2013

Directed by John Carpenter
Written by John Carpenter and Debra Hill

Starring
Donald Pleasence
Jamie Lee Curtis
P.J. Soles
Nancy Loomis

It’s amazing how fast time flies.  It’s hard to believe that it’s been 10 years since I reviewed Halloween 25th Anniversary DVD.  Thankfully Anchor Bay Entertainment is helping celebrate another milestone for John Carpenter’s masterpiece with a superb Blu-ray that has to be the best looking so far.  Director of Photography Dean Cundey supervised the transfer and you know there’s nobody more qualified than him to oversee that important job.

Halloween looks alive with autumn colors; Cundey’s breathtaking blue night time lighting and the contrasting shadows that run thought the film.

Halloweenscreenshot-med-08

The 35th Anniversary Edition also comes with a brand new Audio Commentary with John Carpenter and Jamie Lee Curtis.  Curtis helps uncover some new tidbits of information about the shoot.  But what’s best about this track is hearing Jamie Lee’s obvious enthusiasm for the film, even telling John Carpenter how to watch is own movie.  Curtis does this in an innocent way that proves she doesn’t watch horror films and that she probably hasn’t watched Halloween that often.  I found her enthusiasm genuine and funny.

Halloweenscreenshot-med-07

There’s also a Special Feature called The Night She Came Home which chronicles Jamie Lee Curtis attending a film convention in Atlanta.  This is the first and probably one of the few such events she’ll ever attend, so it was cool we get to see it.  What’s so impressive is how respectful she treats people.  She has the people in attendance sing happy birthday to one fan who was getting some things signed and she goes out of her way to make people feel her warmth and humanity.  My only disappointment was not being there myself to meet the star of one of my two favorite films.

This also comes with On Location; 25 Years Later which was on the 25th Anniversary DVD.  It didn’t hurt to see this piece again as well as the other supplements, which include; Trailers, TV & Radio Spots, Additional Scenes from the TV Version.

HalloweenMMcloset 

But there’s something else I can’t forget to mention, which is worth the price of this Blu-ray without counting anything else.  The 35th Anniversary Edition comes inside this cool hard-book cover with a neat painting of Michael Myers.  Better than that, inside has 20 pages of behind the scenes photos I’d never seen anywhere before with a fantastic write up detailing the making of Halloween and the response since.  It’s all presented on beautiful paper stock in a layout that really gels with the film’s atmosphere.

halloween1978myers
“The Boogeyman” in Halloween, is there anything more frightening…I don’t think so.

Since I’ve already reviewed Halloween in great detail before (please click on link to read) I’d like to try something new and just riff (observation & comments) on things I noticed watching Halloween this time.  The thing I really noticed was how simple John Carpenter’s Classic is.  The story is crystal clear, told with mature restraint and it is never rushed.  The long Panaglide shots are not only brilliantly conceived and executed (by Dean Cundey’s lighting and Raymond Stella’s camera operation) but they work magnificently by giving the film style and Carpenter was able to capture considerable page counts because of the duration of each shot.  This was smart when considering the short shooting schedule.  I’ve never seen or heard anyone ever talk about the editorial correlation between the ghost/Michael Myers with Lynda (P.J. Soles) scene and the first beach scene in Jaws.  Watch the movie again, paying attention to this scene and you’ll see that like the first crowd beach scene in Jaws (where Chief Brody is trying to watch the swimmers) every time John Carpenter & his editors cut from Lynda to Michael (sheet covered ghost at door) each successive cut goes to a longer lens shot.  Because of the edit  not everyone will notice it but it’s a sneaky way to bring Michael Myers closer, amping up the intensity of the suspense.  It’s also an abbreviated visual representation of how Halloween is designed directorially.  The movie gets tighter and more confined as it plays out until the nerve shattering climax.

halloween1978_14

You will not find a better movie to watch on Halloween.

www.anchorbayentertainment.com