Underrated: Joe Dante’s “The ‘Burbs”

burbs“I want to kill everyone. Satan is good. Satan is our pal.”

Like so many others, I first saw The ‘Burbs, Joe Dante’s brilliant comedic ode to suburban rut and paranoia on cable when I was a kid. To say the movie has stuck to me like some lost, drunken night’s tattoo is to understate its impact. It’s a film I have gone back to time and time again over the last 25 years, be it via a worn and fuzzy VHS copy recorded off of HBO when I was in grade school, or the DVD copy I scored years later. I never grow tired of it. The story, the scenes, the dialog are so engrained within my psyche, that quoting lines from the thing has become a kind of litmus test as to whether or not we can be friends (see also The Monster Squad).

Underrated: Marilyn Manson’s “Mechanical Animals”

marilynmansonI’ve decided that I don’t care about your opinions on Marilyn Manson.  I don’t want to hear them, so keep them to yourselves.  But here’s mine.

Let’s just throw it out there: Marilyn Manson’s 1998 album Mechanical Animals is vastly underrated.  There.  I said it.  And I meant it.  Though it was a commercial success, the record seems to take a lot of slag because of Manson’s waning popularity, his propensity for douchebaggery, and his later and ongoing lackluster output.  It suffers because its creator has become the butt of so many jokes.  Forgotten because, you know, the 90’s.  So, let’s revisit it.  Let’s put make-up on, don a suit of prosthetic, nipple-less breasts, curse and sneer, and give Mechanical Animals another chance.  It deserves it.  And so do we.

Underrated: Gregg Araki’s “Nowhere”

nowhere“It’s like we all know way down in our souls that our generation is going to witness the end of everything.”

Way back sometime in late 1997 or early 1998, Gregg Araki’s film Nowhere wormed its way into my psyche, grabbed hold tight, and made me show it to all of my friends.  I was completely enthralled.  I watched it over and over again.  I dissected it, analyzed it, explored its themes, bought the soundtrack, and watched Araki’s other features.  It was easily my favorite movie for a brief period in college, and I screened it for everybody, hoping in vain for a compatriot to share and revel and delight in this overtly stylized film.  Somebody, anybody had to feel the same as I did.  Certainly one of my friends would be as captivated as I was.

In Defense of Stone Temple Pilots

Any popular movement or genre (or sub-genre for that matter) of art or music is bound to spawn imitators.  And those imitators spawn imitators who spawn imitators and so on and so forth, until like a copy of a copy of a copy, the original model is so pale and so degraded that it’s impossible to see how awesome and majestic it once was.  Such was the case with the grunge music scene of the 1990’s whose initial monster acts gave way to wave after wave of cheap knock-off bands, polished turds of which many are still trolling the reunions circuits and bargain bins of Walmarts across the country.  Stone Temple Pilots surfaced during the heyday of the second wave, and while they sold millions of records, the band was critically derided and often criticized as aping a sound that did not belong to them.  While those comparisons and critiques were justified in the beginning (and at the end), the group grew organically over their subsequent releases, culminating in two excellent albums that stand out as some of the best music of the genre and the decade, rivaling much of the work of their predecessors.

Underrated: Faith No More’s “King for a Day, Fool for a Lifetime”

faithnomoreEveryone knows Faith No More for their absolutely massive hit “Epic” from 1989’s “The Real Thing.”  The band’s mix of metal, rap, and funk struck a nerve in both metal heads and pop scenesters alike.  It was everywhere.  Radio.  MTV.  There was even a mild controversy over the video’s use of a fish flopping and gasping out of water.  Then came 1992’s “Angel Dust.”  While eclectic and influential, the record did not perform near as well as its predecessor.  Hardcore FNM fans touted it as a masterpiece (which it is), but the fair weather fans and masses jumped ship along with lead guitarist Jim Martin.  With Mike Patton now becoming the more principal song writer, the band began to drop some of the rap-metal and glam rock that had propelled them to stardom in the first place.  Replacing it was more experimentation and forays into progressive rock.

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