Wednesday, February 01, 2006

White Zombie - More Human Than Human (1995)

*** (of four)

I couldn't stand this fucker when he was popular. Even more so than Kiss and Alice Cooper, it was patently obvious White Zombie's image was theatrical, cartoonish and phony, meant to bilk the dollars of the Evil Equals Cool teen market. Besides, my little brother was in love with the band and couldn't resist playing La Sexorcisto and Astro Creep 2000 at top volume over and over and over and over. And over and over and over and over.

But it slowly became obvious over the years that, if Rob Zombie had cultivated a phony image, at least he had fun with it and filled his videos with images on the camp side of horror. The man was an entertainer. I haven't seen Zombie's two recent slasher flicks, but this is the most thorough viewing I've ever given his "More Human Than Human" video. Which seems to turn the medium of 1960s home movies into a sinister collection of robots, clowns, jack-o-lanterns and giant albino rats.

The whole letterboxed video has phony film scratches applied to it and lots of manically cut stock footage, but the centerpiece is performance footage of Rob and his band. Who seem to be bouncing around someone's basement or garage in a universe of hyper-color. The cumulative effect borders on sensory overload, but it's completely accessible. I mean, how underground and demonic could it possibly be when its frontman is wearing a fucking jean jacket?

The Lemonheads - It's a Shame About Ray (1992)

**1/2 (of four)

Apparently, Lemonheads frontman Evan Dando was a teen heartthrob in his time, a dapper, dorkier version of Black Crowes singer Chris Robinson. I don't know much about all that, but I've always had a passive kind of fondness for the band's 1992 hit "It's a Shame About Ray." Catchy, mid-tempo, jangly acoustic guitars, plaintive vocals and lyrics that you can stare at for five minutes and still not really figure out if they're about suicide or what. Help me out here, English majors.

The video takes place outside and around a house in the desert, where the band plays outside on the porch and Dando mopes around inside with heavy-lidded eyes. The camera just kind of meanders back and forth, and we keep seeing glimpses of a blonde girl who I believe is in the process of leaving Dando. Yeah, she is gone, because he just pulled her picture out of the frame and dropped it in a plastic garbage bag. And dropped the frame to the dusty hardwood floor in slow motion.

You could say this video is dated and too poppy and didn't even make sense to analytic stoners when it was released. I prefer to call it atmospheric and halfway decent.