Saturday, September 26, 2020


Received my contributor's copy of the magnificent new SPOTLIGHT ON HORROR book from the UK the other day, for which I contributed essays on RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD (1984) and the recent two-part adaptation of Stephen King's IT. What a stunning volume, over 400 glossy color pages covering horror cinema from 1920 to 2019. Beautifully designed and illustrated, big congrats to Eric McNaughton and everyone else involved in its publication. I already know how my two contributions turned out but I can't wait to read all of the other essays in this terrific piece of work that all horror cinema lovers would devour.

Friday, September 25, 2020



The latest issue of GLAMOUR filed through my mailbox a few days ago, to help while away some of those isolation blues. Published by the elusive and mysterious Glamour Puss, GLAMOUR revels in being one of the few old-school, cut 'n' paste film fanzines still around, eschewing any online presence and found only by word of mouth or sheer luck. I sometimes miss the days of trading my own fanzines, like STRAIT-JACKET and REEL WILD CINEMA!, with other zines published around Australia and the world. GLAMOUR helps capture the thrill of those days, where you had to make an effort to seek things out, and information (and misinformation) wasn't readily available at the touch of a button.

Each issue of GLAMOUR is usually devoted to a certain theme or a particular performer (past issues have covered Flash Gordon, Maria Montez, Steve Reeves, prehistoric glamour gals, Jayne Mansfield, and much more). First published n the 90s, GLAMOUR is relatively light on new writing. Glamour Puss usually provides a couple of pages of introductory text to provide us with some historical background on that issue's theme, before letting the visuals take over and do most of the talking (though she also provides notes and captions on many of the illustrations).

And what visuals they are! A digest chock-filled with rare stills, posters, lobby cards and pressbooks, most of which are sourced from Glamour Puss' own extensive personal collection. The latest issue of GLAMOUR takes us through a look at Glamazons on film, with visual material from films like TARZAN AND THE AMAZONS (1945), LOVE SLAVES OF THE AMAZON (1967), GOLIATH AGAINST THE GIANTS (1961), Terence Young's WAR GODDESS (1973), SUPER STOOGES VS. THE WONDER WOMEN (1974, a film I now need to see), THE ARENA (1974), GWENDOLINE (1984), RED SONJA (1985) and many more.

As much as I know how many people would enjoy this, I can't tell you where you can get your mitts on an issue of GLAMOUR. You have to already be part of the sacred circle to receive it, though Melbourne folks may sometimes find Glamour Puss making copies available at local film fairs, not that we have had one of them for a long time (and likely will be a while before we see them return).

Some previous issues of GLAMOUR:

Saturday, September 19, 2020


Binge watched all four episodes of the riveting new Netflix documentary series CHALLENGER: THE FINAL FLIGHT earlier in the week. Equal parts harrowing and heartbreaking, but always fascinating. The series looks back at the history and development of the Space Shuttle (via some terrific old footage), the historic first launch and landing of the Columbia shuttle in the California desert in 1981 (with Steven Spielberg and Roy Rogers amongst the awestruck witnesses), and the mounting concerns that put the program behind schedule almost from the start. NASA’s promise to deliver a profitable means of re-usable space transportation saw them under pressure that made them put business before lives.

The interviews with the family members of the seven deceased astronauts are incredibly sad. I felt particularly sorry for Marcia Jarvis, whose husband Gregory was originally scheduled for the flight previous to Challenger, but he was bumped off by Senator Jake Garn, who became the first sitting member of Congress to fly into space. The bumping of the spot meant Jarvis was now relegated to the doomed Challenger flight.

You also can’t help but think of the nine runner-up schoolteachers who came so close to being in Christa McAuliffe’s shoes on the day (the doco does interview Barbara Morgan, who was the back-up should McAuliffe had been unfit or otherwise unable to make the flight). The fact that Challenger had on board the first schoolteacher sent into space meant that millions of inspired young American students sat glued to the television set to watch the launch live, only to look on in horror as the Challenger exploded in front of their eyes less than two minutes into its flight. Tragically, one of the reasons why NASA did not want to delay the flight any further was because McAullife was scheduled to teach two classes live from the shuttle while it was in orbit, which would be beamed into American schools. If NASA had delayed the flight again, the scheduled lesson would have fallen on a weekend, when there was no school, something that the space agency did not want to risk after all the publicity build-up and anticipation.

Hopefully there will be a similar series produced that looks into the other tragic Space Shuttle mission, that of the original shuttle Columbia, which after 27 successful flights burned-up upon re-entry on re-entry in 2003, killing all seven crew members.

Monday, September 7, 2020


Melbourne, Australia has always been home to a thriving hard rock and heavy metal music scene. The early-eighties was a particularly exciting and fertile time, with tours by major bands such as AC/DC, KISS, Deep Purple and Iron Maiden stirring up excitement and energy in thousands of suburban teenagers, many of whom spent most of their spare time hanging out inside the cramped confines of Central Station Records. Hidden within the cold concrete tomb of Princess Bridge Train Station, Central Station was a mecca for local hard rock and metal fans, a source for not only the latest vinyl imports and hard-to-find rarities, but a place for likeminded fans to congregate, listen to new music, swap cassette tapes, and share the occasional life dream or vision.

It was out of this landscape that emerged the two main forces that would ultimately combine and lead to the formation of Frozen Tears, a melodic rock band who came together in 1996. Driven by close childhood friends Thanis Akritidis on vocals and Jon Powers on guitar and keyboards, with both contributing to the songwriting duties, Frozen Tears was a natural and organic progression from the bands which they had each led in the 1980s. Akritidis spent several years singing lead for Knight, a melodic rock outfit who proved popular on the local live scene, playing alongside noted acts like Axatak, De-Arrow, SAS and Virgin Soldiers, while Powers displayed a more aggressive, pure metal sound with his late-eighties act Blood on Kisses. The combination of these two disparate styles is what helps give Frozen Tears their distinctive sound…melody with bite!

After working out their sound and approach, and putting some original songs together, Frozen Tears soon began work on their debut album, Silence of the Night, which saw release in late-1997 and was a potent mix of no-nonsense hard rock with strong melodic overtones and an infusion of classic A.O.R. sounds. Heavily influenced by bands such as KISS, Whitesnake, Dokken and White Sister, Silence of the Night amply demonstrated the strong creative chemistry between Akritidis and Powers, not to mention the duo’s songwriting skills and the overall musical chops of the group.  The album was well-received both critically and by the band’s fans, and also found an audience overseas, particularly in Europe where it still sells consistently thanks to the enduring popularity of that musical style on the continent. 

The production on the new tracks is quite excellent - crisp, punchy and polished, with a lot of air and space for the instruments and Akritidis’ assured, passionate vocals to breathe and expand, yet it also retains a natural and organic sound. Providing the perfect balance to the vocals is the very tasty and accomplished rhythm and lead guitar work by Powers, which is filled with chunky, epic riffs but also highlights his ability to superbly handle the softer and more melodic sides to Frozen Tears’ sound. Powers, who has done a tight job of engineering the new tracks he co-produced with Akritidis, also proves himself adept with his keyboard skills, which contribute greatly to the depth and authenticity of the music. Children of the early-eighties, Frozen Tears have done an enviable job of recreating the aural analog warmth of all the albums they grew-up listening to, providing a much-welcome relief from the overly-digitized and autotuned sounds that mar and render lifeless so much of modern music.

While Frozen Tears went into an extended hiatus not long after the release of Silence of the Night and its subsequent local tour to promote it, the band never officially broke up, but have instead spent the years since writing and working on new material, with the inevitable aim of recording and releasing the long-awaited follow-up to their debut album.

The stars finally started to align for the band in early 2020, when Frozen Tears began laying down tracks for Brazen Whisper, the tentative title for their self-produced sophomore album. As the world started heading into isolation and worrying about the future, Akritidis and Powers were escaping into their music, laying down and refining cuts like “Set Me Free”, “Love Can Be Real”, “Hold on Tight” and “Brazen Whisper”.  These highly infectious new tracks show that Frozen Tears have remained true to their original influences and direction, while also showing a natural maturity in sound, lyrics and production. “Hold on Tight” is a rousing, anthemic plea in the best 1980s Paul Stanley tradition, while “Set Me Free” powers along on a chugging guitar riff, the song also featuring some pleasing jazz and funk-inspired breakdowns and interludes. There’s also the balladic “Can’t Stop”, which wears its classic Whitesnake influences proudly on its sleeve, not to mention the title track, “Brazen Whisper”, which starts amidst a kaleidoscopic swirl of ambient sounds and hypnotic vocal echoes, before its heavy, dour riff kicks in and the song soars into high gear.

With seven tunes already finished and in the can, and work being completed on four more tracks,  Brazen Whisper makes an emphatic statement that melodic hard rock in its classic style remains just as vibrant and vital as it ever was, and is not going anywhere anytime soon. Certainly not if Frozen Tears have anything to say about it.

Click HERE for the FROZEN TEARS Facebook Page

Above: The early Frozen Tears line-up, Jon Powers at far left next to Thanis Akritidis.

Above: Frozen Tears lead singer Thanis Akritidis (rights) meets KISS legend Paul Stanley!

Above: Title track from "Silence of the Night"