May 21st, 2006


Mark the calendar — 666 is coming

Mark the calendar — 666 is coming
Movie, book, music marketers have a field day

A billboard for "The Omen" plays up the film’s release on June 6, 2006, or "666" — which is the mark of the Antichrist in the Book of Revelation.

Beware June 6, 2006: The apocalypse, the Antichrist, death metal and Ann Coulter will all be among us.

The numerical translation for this year's June 6 bears an eerie resemblance to 666, an infamous digit known as the mark of the beast or Antichrist in the Book of Revelation.

Marketing campaigns, sensing a chance to boost profits and stir up buzz, have taken notice.

From a remake of the satanic horror film "The Omen" to conservative pundit Ann Coulter's new book about "godless liberals," from the latest edition of the Christian apocalyptic book series "Left Behind" to some new death metal albums, they're all claiming 6/6/06 as their own.

"It's one big marketing ploy," said Robert Thompson, professor of popular culture at Syracuse University. "It is so deliciously clever as to really kind of merit (people) talking about it."

The eye-catching marketing campaign for 20th Century Fox's remake of "The Omen" first grabbed the public's attention about the date. Ominous posters and billboards featuring reading "6.6.06" started showing up this spring. The posters feature a variety of creepy slogans rolled out over several weeks: "The Signs Are All Around You," "You Have Been Warned" and "Heed The Omen."

All of the catchphrases actually were used when the original "Omen" came out in 1976, said Kevin Campbell, executive vice president of marketing and strategy for 20th Century Fox. But the film's marketing campaign, and its unorthodox Tuesday release in order to make the 6/6/06 date stick, is original.

"For the big summer movies ... you become so conditioned to seeing the same kind of advertising," Campbell said. "There's nothing about the marketing of this movie that is typical."

Tuesdays are often used for book and CD releases, but the June 6 release date this year lends irony to some new products.

Ann Coulter's book "Godless: The Church of Liberalism," is being released that day by Crown Forum. Coulter said in a Fox News interview last month the release date is her "little tribute to liberals." Nevertheless, Crown Publisher Steve Ross said in a statement that June 6 was chosen before the book had a working title.

On the music side, David Lee Roth releases the cheekily named "Strummin' With the Devil," a bluegrass tribute to Van Halen. Death metal is also having a banner day, with the releases of albums like "Allegiance" by As Blood Runs Black and "The Stench of Redemption" by Deicide. And major death metal act Slayer will be out on its "Unholy Alliance Tour: Preaching to the Perverted," playing in San Diego on the big date.

California is also the site of a major religious event that day, sponsored by The Church of Satan. The group is hosting a satanic high Mass at a sold-out Steve Allen Theater in Los Angeles. Members also will be soaking up death metal and noshing on sushi at the "Rockin' 666 Eve" on June 5, sponsored by Chicago's Radio Free Satan.

"We are simply taking advantage of this unique date which the public fears because of Christian mythology as promoted by Hollywood hypesters," Church of Satan High Priest Peter H. Gilmore wrote in an e-mail.

There's even one group that is taking deliberate steps to avoid 06-06-06 — expectant mothers. The Sunday Times in London reported in April that mothers-to-be have been gossiping about the potential due date on the Mother and Baby Web site. One woman was so concerned she booked a doctor's appointment to ensure her baby won't be born on that day. Some aren't so worried, like a pair of mothers who said they would name their babies Damien and Regan, after the demonic children featured in "The Omen" and "The Exorcist."

There is one June 6 event that claims it's not like the others. The popular "Left Behind" series, a Christian collection of novels about the apocalypse distributed by Tyndale House Publishers, is using the date to release "The Rapture," the series' 15th installment.

"Left Behind" marketing manager Cheryl Kerwin said Tyndale had planned for several years to release an installment on that date, and said the release of "The Rapture" "will bring some light to the number."

"The end times are a dark and scary time and the Antichrist is a bad person," Kerwin said. "But this book actually brings some hope and light to an otherwise dark world."


The Decline of Western Civilization part 2: The Metal Years


The Decline of Western Civilization part 2: The Metal Years
{XXII A.S. Directed by Penelope Spheeris. Starring Steven Tyler & Joe Perry of Aerosmith, Ozzy Osbourne, Alice Cooper, Gene Simmons & Paul Stanley of KISS, Lemmy Kilmeister, Chris Holmes of WASP}

Features interviews with notables in The Heavy Metal genre, fans, groupies, and aspiring musicians, with performances by Odin, Lizzy Borden {still performing}, London {post-Nikki Sixx}, Seduce {who really did possess some talent there}, and Megadeth {before they mega-died}.

Questions range from the plans of the musicians if they are not successful {from what I have seen, most did not - considering their apparent adamance, I wonder how many of them actually became homeless, conformed, became involved in other positions within the music industry, or otherwise died*; among them all. I did recognize Vixen who went on to experience some success with an album}, to the "satanism" angle, which was limited {perhaps thankfully} to 'the devil horns' hand gesture, most comically explained by a christian probation officer as containing the ubiquitous authority of The Devil with the upthrust fingers, and the three pointing down representing the denial of the christian trinity, also containing '666' within the bend of the fingers - I honestly do not believe any of the 'rockers' and 'metalheads' even considered that more involved Occult symbology, and just lift it in the air as a habit, but was probably first used by Ronnie James Dio as relating to Heavy Metal. She also had quite a collection of confiscated gauntlets, studded fingerless gloves, spiked bracelets, and collars - no doubt plenty of records and tapes as well.

A cleaned-up Steven Tyler & Joe Perry of Aerosmith relate tales of their narcotic excesses, a rehabilitated Ozzy Osbourne has an amusingly pleasant morning chat while preparing breakfast {at one point, he misses a glass almost completely while pouring some orange juice and talking about his own alcoholism and drug use}, Alice Cooper in full makeup on the theatrical set takes umbrage at a certain band for what he feels is unjustified replication, KISS' Gene Simmons offers intelligent and concise commentary on the going-on within the industry, Paul Stanley also offers cohesive commentary amongst a bevy of beauties in bed, Lemmy Kilmeister of Motorhead offers gruff realities overlooking Hollywood, and WASP's {at the time} Chris Holmes drunkenly rambles on about his intoxicated exploits as his poor mother sits poolside, progressively becoming more inebriated with two bottles of Vodka - one can readily perceive his unfortunate mental degeneration.

I thought club owner and sharp dresser Bill Gazzarri had quite a remarkably life-loving attitude, offering great opportunities to many bands who may otherwise would have never seen the spotlight, and initiated salacious events such as dance and strip contests for sexy young ladies. His commercials were heavily circulated on 105.5 KNAC at the time, which was the only Heavy Metal radio station in the L.A. area - now there are none. KNAC DJ Tawn Mastrey was also featured herein.

Ultimately, I feel 'The Decline of Western Civilization part 2: The Metal Years' was an accurate, though somewhat limited documentary of the 80's Metal subculture, although I personally would have liked to have seen interviews with Venom, King Diamond, Possessed, Bathory, Manowar, and Celtic Frost as well. Perhaps there will eventually be a part 4, focusing on these 'dark bands'? It would be interesting, but whether or not they are actual Satanists would be another matter altogether. This film concentrates largely on Hollywood 'pop-metal' and Glam rock.

* Incidentally, 'The Decline of Western Civilization part 3' features interviews with some of the homeless street dwellers of Hollywood.

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The Corsican Brothers...

Spechtreum: Loki's Laughter

~ Cheech & Chong's ~
The Corsican Brothers
{XVIII A.S. Directed by Tommy Chong. Starring Cheech Marin, Tommy Chong, Roy Dotrice, Edie McClurg}

I first saw this film late one night upon happenstance. I normally consider anything 'Cheech & Chong' to be peurile and lowlife humor {which it is}, further denigrating the populace unto ghetto-trash culture, but this one final film seems to be the exception, and actually displays some potential for the comedic characters.

Born from two unsuspecting seperate fathers, two brothers experience a sympathetic element since birth {one feels the tactile sensations of the other}, are raised in a peasant hovel in order to avoid scandal, eventually burn the house down in which they were raised by a matron, and set off in two opposing directions - one ends up back home in France, and the other... in Mexico, of all places.

After many years pass, they eventually meet again in France, which is being ruled by a tyrant by the name of "Fuckeire" {a pun on "f*cker"}, a sado-masochistic libertine with some really great aesthetic style, I must say, like a cross between King Diamond and King Louis XIV.

The Corsican Brothers join forces and form a revolution, stealthily infiltrating The Palace as aristocrats - one as a very Rasputin-like intellectual, and the other as a gay hairdresser from Spain, who wreaks havok on The Queen's hairdo.

Through a series of coincidences and mishaps, they luckily meet two lovely Princesses {one of whom laments Chong's "broken sword"}, do strenuous battle with Fuckeire's men, almost kill eachother in a duel over the girls, are imprisoned, and eventually escape to spark the revolution again.

Despite the droll humor, I enjoyed the aesthetics of the film... the scenery, costumes, sets, actresses, and props. In My opinion, it is the only production of theirs worth watching.


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