About This Blog

A place to find my reviews not featured on epinions.com or horror-asylum.com, as well as opinions and lists on everything from movies to TV to music. It's all about me! Send hate mail to vegie18th@hotmail.com or just leave a comment beneath the posts. Review grading system assumes C+ is somewhere in the vicinity of a Passing grade or minor fail.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Review: The Monkey’s Mask


Susie Porter stars as a lesbian PI (A lesbian dick?) who takes on the case of a missing literature student (Abbie Cornish) and poetry nut. She meets with (and is immediately attracted to) the girl’s uni lecturer (Kelly McGillis), a married woman. Things become even more complicated once it becomes a murder investigation, with Porter busy satisfying her libido and McGillis becoming a possible murder suspect. Marton Csokas (completely unsubtle) plays McGillis’ husband, William Zappa is an arsehole cop, Jim Holt is an aggressively homophobic poet, Deborah Mailman is Porter’s bubbly best friend, John Noble is the dead girl’s grief-stricken father, and Chris Haywood is Porter’s dad. Lots of familiar faces (including Bojana Novakovic, Brendon Cowell, Gigi Edgley, and Annie Jones) fill out the background.

 

Released in 2000, this Samantha Lang (“The Idol”, “The Well”) directed, Anne Kennedy (the New Zealand film “Crush”) scripted adaptation of the Dorothy Porter novel is indicative of what I hate most about Australian cinema, especially from the mostly disastrous period between the late 90s and early 00s. Aussie filmmakers not only seem to be far too enamoured with literature and stage plays for my liking throughout the years, but Aussie filmmakers, particular at this time, had their heads up their arses. There was never any sense of commercial appeal outside of dopey ocker comedies (that were becoming beyond stale at this point), and instead countless arty-farty films were being released, and mostly rejected by audiences. Call me a sell-out, but films like this and “Somersault” (which shares Abbie Cornish among its cast, by the way) just did nothing for me. Eventually things picked up, and not just because we became better at making these arty-farty or serious-minded films (“The Black Balloon” and “Little Fish”, for instance are hardly what one might term popcorn entertainment but well-made and interesting films nonetheless), but because we actually started to branch out into what one might term ‘genre filmmaking’. It was as if Aussie filmmakers realised movies could be fun, too. Unfortunately, today is not the day to be talking about one of those films. For while this is, at the end of the day, a detective story, Samantha Lang and Anne Kennedy, in adapting the extraordinarily pretentious prose of Dorothy Porter, have conspired to make the most irritating, unappealing, and unbearably arty detective story of all-time.

 

Despite a lesbian main character, it can’t even be enjoyed as softcore erotica, either, because Susie Porter and (to a lesser extent) Kelly McGillis, aren’t an appealing pair of lovers (the latter looks OK for her age, however). They’ve taken the artiness of the project to such an extreme that even the lesbian sex scenes are really only able to be enjoyed by a niche market (i.e. Other lesbians). And how in the hell does plain-looking Susie Porter manage to get all of these sexy roles? This, “Feeling Sexy”, “Better than Sex”...I just don’t get the appeal. She’s always the same, performance-wise, too, no matter the role. And that’s a problem, because she’s meant to be a Blacktown girl here, and at no point does she seem anything other than a snooty, artsy North Shore gal with a pixie haircut.

 

The dialogue in this film is particularly appalling and pretentious. I understand the novel probably has its fans (not to mention a lot of people unhappily subjected to it at school or university), but those people and Lang and Kennedy need to understand that film and novels are two completely different mediums that aren’t always entirely compatible. This is especially the case with Porter’s novel, which is entirely written in poetic verse. Now imagine a transplant of such verse onto celluloid, and behold the horror. Oh, the horror! No one in this film talks like a real person. At least, I hope no one talks like a pretentious teenage feminist poet who has just discovered the ‘c’ word. Oh how characters here love using that word. I hate it. It’s the only swear word in the entire English language I’ve never used and hopefully never will, unless I am quoting (and I will be, in a minute). I love swearing, but that is an ugly and degrading word for what is actually a very beautiful part of the female anatomy. And yet, this female-directed, female-scripted (and authored), largely female acted film is flooded with uses of the word. Abbie Cornish’s ridiculously pretentious poetry readings and Susie Porter’s equally eye-rolling, uber-pretentious narration are the worst offenders here (The other ‘c’ word gets quite a workout too, by the way, with idiotic lines like ‘Even if your angry cock kills me’- WHAT???). Take this stupid bit of would-be poetry from Cornish: ‘You cut out my cunt, so why not cut out my heart? Your prick is a knife that hurts me. You grunt like a beautiful pig. I wish my cunt could hurt you’. Oh my God, that’s so deep! And profound! Except it’s not. I could handle the usage of the word in Tom Cruise’s monologues in “Magnolia”, because it reflected his character’s rather obvious issues. He was a tiny man acting like a big (misogynist) one. But why are these women using the word? ‘Coz they can, I guess. ‘Coz it’s taboo, and that’s like so artistic, man! Whatever. There’s nothing poetic or profound about it, it’s stupid and calls attention to itself to the point where the characters aren’t remotely real or identifiable. The film, much like the novel, is an exercise in self-indulgence at the expense of anything resembling entertainment. At least to me, at any rate.

 

Even worse, the film meanders along, with endless monologue scenes, uninteresting detours into the world of poetry, and a fair amount of sex...um, what about the murder-mystery? Yeah, not much attention being paid to that, I’m afraid, not when you can show a dumpy-looking Susie Porter walking around bottomless. Yes, bottomless, and it’s about as sexy as it sounds (And why bottomless? Just to be ‘cool and edgy’, of course. Ugh!). Of course if the film did pay more attention to its murder-mystery, said murder-mystery would be even more transparent than it already is. Porter’s character is an absolute dunce for not only getting distracted, but by not seeing the culprit immediately. Then again, she probably prefers poetry and snooty coffee houses to movies, so perhaps she hasn’t seen many murder-mystery flicks before. Meanwhile, McGillis is probably supposed to play her character as cool, unreadable, and intellectual, but she’s stiff as a board and uninteresting in the extreme, I’m afraid.

 

Oh well, at least one gets a good look at Sydney (and the Blue Mountains), throughout the film. Scenery and a bunch of familiar names and faces (Deborah Mailman the most interesting of the bunch) duth not a movie maketh, but they do make it slightly more bearable. Pseudo-intellectual, arty-farty crap.

 

Rating: D+

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Review: The Lighthorsemen


Set during WWI, this film charts the exploits of the title regiment of 800 brave Aussies, mounted soldiers who in a plan devised by British Intelligence officer Anthony Andrews, are called into action to save the Brits from impending Turkish-German doom and heavy gunfire. The goal is to take the Palestinian city of Beersheba. A youthful Peter Phelps is the enthusiastic young ‘un who tries to hang with the big boys (principally the taciturn John Walton, Tim McKenzie, Gary Sweet, and an Irish Jon Blake), but his reticence in pulling the trigger has him eyeing a stint as a medic instead. He also hooks up with a pretty nurse played by Sigrid Thornton. Tony Bonner, Anthony Hawkins, and Bill Kerr (as a Pom!) play the military bigwigs, Gerard Kennedy is a Turkish officer, whilst Serge Lazareff, Grant Piro, and Adrian Wright (the loony doc on TV’s “Prisoner”) play assorted military men.


It won’t stand as one of Australia’s finest films, but this 1987 war flick from Simon Wincer (“Phar Lap”, “The Man From Snowy River”, “Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man”) is certainly pretty watchable and the director uses his (no doubt modest, in comparison to Hollywood) budget effectively. Scripted by Ian Jones (who published two books on the Light Horse story), if you’ve ever wanted to see a John Ford movie about WWI but set in Australia, this rather old-fashioned war flick might be for you. I think it’s a pretty solid B-movie, though it’s a little bit clichéd and the characterisations are a tad broad (bordering on beer commercial-like), through no fault of the cast. This was just how we presented ourselves at the time the film was made. A bigger problem is perhaps the complexity of the campaign itself, I was a bit lost at times, to be honest, despite a few ‘war room’-type meetings and other supposedly helpful techniques employed by Wincer.


The large cast of mostly TV veterans (at least four alumni of “Prisoner”, plus Peter Phelps and Gary Sweet) is rock-solid, with Peter Phelps being the surprising standout. The one-time “Baywatch” actor has never done much for me, but he makes for a likeable protagonist here. Yes, the role is essentially the Mark Day role from “Gallipoli”, but Phelps is probably better in the part (He ain’t no Mel Gibson, however). Well-respected stage and screen actress Sigrid Thornton is perfectly fine, though her nurse/love interest part is the oldest cliché in the war movie book (both of these characters having at least some basis in history, albeit not entirely). Nice small turns by old pro Bill Kerr (as General Sir Harry Chauvel), Adrian Wright (cast somewhat against type in a sympathetic officer part), and a heavily made-up Gerard Kennedy (a bit of a stretch as a Turk, physically, but good nonetheless).


Special mention must be made of the late Jon Blake, who was in an horrendous car accident after the final day of shooting. It left him with permanent brain damage, which rendered him basically (as much as I, a paraplegic, hate the term) a vegetable up until his death in 2011. I’m not so sure he was going to be the next big international star, but we’ll sadly never know, and it’s a true tragedy.


The film’s best assets are the music score by Mario Millo, and the gorgeous cinematography by Dean Semler (“Mad Max II: Road Warrior”, “Razorback”, “Dances With Wolves”), who shoots the thing like he’s in Monument Valley. The film looks a whole lot bigger and more expensive than one imagines it would’ve actually been. The final battle is pretty well-staged and rather confronting with the loss of life involved (albeit heroic in its own way, if anything in war can be considered ‘heroic’).

 
 It doesn’t resonate as much as “Gallipoli” or “Breaker Morant”, but it’s a pretty enjoyable film, with an intangible, haunting quality no doubt from Blake’s participation and the knowledge of his real-life fate. I could’ve done without the bare-arsed naked horse-riding on the beach, though. I know Phelpsy and Gary Sweet were (are?) considered sex symbols, but c’mon. By the way, is anyone else amused that the plot of the film centres around Aussies attempting to capture a place called Beer(sheba)? Just sayin’...


Rating: B-

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Review: Jack and Jill

Adam Sandler goes 0-2 in 2011, and this awfully unfunny and desperate comedy directed by Dennis Dugan is even worse than “Just Go With It”. That’s quite an achievement actually (It also won more Razzies than any film previously, winning in every category. Bravo, Mr. Sandler!). In fact, it might just be the worst Adam Sandler vehicle I’ve thus far seen (And I’ve seen “You Don’t Mess With the Zohan”!). Sandler and co-writer Steve Koren have taken a not very good concept of Sandler playing male and female twin siblings, and have proceeded to practically do nothing with it at all. Nothing good, at any rate. I knew from the trailer that this would be awful, but actually watching the film whole I honestly can’t believe that even the juvenile Sandler would stoop this low.


The plot that has been inspired by this concept is absolutely appalling, and frankly insulting: Jack (Adam Sandler) is a crappy advertising exec desperate to get Al Pacino (Al, you broke my heart!) to appear in a Dunkin’ Donuts ad. Meanwhile, his estranged (and frankly weird) spinster sister Jill (also Sandler, but with a whiny voice) has come to visit Jack, his wife (Katie Holmes), and their kids for Thanksgiving. And maybe through Hanukkah, much to Jack’s chagrin. Attending a basketball game together, Jack spots Pacino in the crowd, but before he can rope him in, Pacino has become smitten with the obnoxious Jill! Jack tries to exploit the situation, but unfortunately, Jill seems more interested in Jack’s sweet-natured, widowed Hispanic gardener than Pacino (who she doesn’t even seem to recognise). So you’ve got Sandler in drag, Al Pacino (did he think this was some kinda mixture of “Tootsie” and “The King of Comedy”?), and a Dunkin’ Donuts commercial as the basic plot for your film. Seriously? Maybe the idea of Rob Schneider learning martial arts to avoid prison rape isn’t such a bad movie idea after all. What’s worse is that Sandler actually seems less concerned about the plot and more interested in his celebrity (Johnny Depp, Drew Carey, John McEnroe, ‘Jared from Subway’- who is unknown outside of the US, I might add) and crony (David Spade, Norm MacDonald, Allen Covert, Dana Carvey, Tim Meadows) cameos, which are even more frequent and extraneous than usual, not to mention completely unfunny. David Spade has made me laugh at times, but David Spade in drag is even less funny than Adam Sandler in drag. I normally find the deadpan Norm MacDonald hilarious (at least in small doses), but not here as Jill’s would be online match, and Tim Meadows (as Jack’s business associate) really ought not to appear in any more films with “SNL” alum because he never gets roles that are remotely funny. Meanwhile, I guess Rob Schneider read the script this time and figured this was beneath him. Yeah, the guy who directed and starred in “Big Stan” must have standards (I wouldn’t mind betting he was the first choice for the creepy, bug-eyed Mexican grandma role, though). The lovely Katie Holmes, meanwhile, is cast as Sandler’s wife, but her performance suggests Sandler’s actually one of her kids and it almost seems like she’s reading from a script for a completely different film. It’s the damndest thing, and Sandler really does need to stop casting Hollywood hotties as his love interests. It’s pathetic, Mr. Sandler, as he and Holmes just don’t mesh at all as a romantic couple. She looks like she’d rather be with Tom Cruise (Too soon?).


This is just so lazy and shameless from a guy who clearly knows better. I know not every Sandler film can be a “Funny People” (his best film to date), but he’s also the guy who made “50 First Dates”, “The Wedding Singer”, “Bedtime Stories”, and the underrated “Little Nicky”. Hell, I can even defend parts of “I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry” and “Reign Over Me”. But this? I know Sandler was probably gearing this at kids and his usual crowd, but this awful material and overall sham of a movie is an insult even to those who enjoy even some of his more juvenile offerings. This isn’t juvenile, it’s barely even a movie. It’s almost too lazy to earn the right to be called a movie. It’s like Sandler and co came up with the basic idea of him playing identical twins and then they all went on vacation and the rest was made up on the spot once shooting began, with the celebrity cameos and crude humour just a way to cut corners and get around the fact that this is basically an incomplete movie. That’s showing gross contempt for your audience.

 
Sandler isn’t awful as Jack (he’s barely different from any other Sandler character), but the character of Jill and his performance in the role is idiotic and annoying from start to finish. Jill is creepy, annoying, and thoroughly unconvincing, even for the purposes of a silly comedy. I just don’t believe such a character would really exist (and not because of the implausibility of male and female identical twins), and be able to get away with her obnoxious, foul (flatulence and grotesque body sweat issues), and ignorant behaviour (Haha, Jill’s so stupid she’s never used the internet before. Groan). It’s a complete comic miscalculation (The duo playing at times like a combination of Sheldon and Amy from “The Big Bang Theory”, minus their intelligence and minus anything remotely funny) from a comedian who doesn’t have the best hit-to-miss ratio to begin with. Even worse is when Sandler as Jack is forced to pretend to be his twin sister. Sandler simply gives the exact same performance, and whilst that makes the deception convincing, I guess, it’s also completely pointless, in another sense because nothing is really done with it. He does the impersonation, Pacino buys it, and given Jill doesn’t like Pacino, and Sandler as Jack pretending to be Jill probably doesn’t like being seduced by Pacino (or any other guy), there winds up being little to no difference. So why have Jack impersonate Jill at all, really? I mean, from an audience perspective, why would I want to watch the exact same bad performance twice? The idea just hasn’t been thought out enough, either that, or Sandler was just too lazy to really differentiate between the two siblings at this point. Truth be told, Jill isn’t worthy of being in a film, she’s a bad “SNL” creation at best (If she weren’t a drag act, I could totally see Cheri Oteri having excruciatingly played such a character during her interminable stint on the show). Sandler doesn’t even try and make it convincing.


The absolute nadir of the film is the reveal of the actual Dunkin’ Donuts commercial, which is completely embarrassing. Yes, it’s meant to be really silly, but it isn’t remotely funny. It’s sad to watch Pacino in the mock commercial (Not that his real-life cawwwfee adds are much better), and when he subsequently tells Sandler to ‘burn this’, he might be talking about the ad, but he should’ve been talking about the film as a whole. You’ll be reading similar snarky comments in other reviews, but the fact is, it’s not just a snarky comment, it’s a fitting one. The film is a desperate and cynical exercise, the kind of film you’d expect Sandler’s character from “Funny People” to make. It makes you wonder if Sandler understood the point of those scenes in “Funny People”, or if he’s just a money-grubbing jerk who simply doesn’t care.

 
I won’t deny I smiled a couple of times- a “Star Wars” reference, for instance, wasn’t bad and a line about Brando is worth a chuckle. But this is a really pathetic and insultingly lazy excuse for a film. It’s PG, but surely even kids would find this completely beneath them.

 
Rating: D

Review: Vamp


Chris Makepeace and Robert Rusler are trying to get into a college fraternity and agree to go out and get a stripper for a big frat party. Gedde Watanabe is the nerdy rich kid who has to come along because they need his car (He’s happy for the companionship, contrived as it might be). They venture out into the big city and come across something called the After Dark club. There’s dancers there, alright. However, they’re not your ordinary strippers...they’re also vampires! Before long, Rusler has been bitten in the neck by the beguiling Grace Jones (he thought he had a chance with her!), whilst Makepeace hangs around with a sweet-natured (and human) employee of the club, played by Deedee Pfeiffer. They’ve actually met before, but Makepeace can’t quite place her. Billy Drago turns up as a ghoulish albino thug whose biker gang menaces our protagonists, and Sandy Baron (Jack, Morty’s retirement village nemesis from “Seinfeld”) is well-cast as the equally ghoulish owner of the After Dark club.

 

Directed and co-written by Richard Wenk (who went on to write “16 Blocks” for Richard Donner 20 years later), this mid-80s horror/comedy is a mixture of “After Hours” and “The Lost Boys” that ends up better than either of them (It would also make a fine double bill with “Fright Night”, by the way). It’s got a similarly cheesy 80s cast to the aforementioned films. “After Hours” had Griffin Dunne (“American Werewolf in London”), Rosanna Arquette (“Desperately Seeking Susan”), Cheech & Chong (‘nuff said), Teri Garr (“Tootsie”), and Bronson Pinchot (“Beverly Hills Cop”) among others. “The Lost Boys” of course had the Two Coreys, Kiefer Sutherland, Jason Patric, and the other guy from “Bill & Ted”. But “Vamp”? Get a load of this: Chris Makepeace from “My Bodyguard” (and 1979’s “Meatballs”), Robert Rusler from “Elm St. 2” and “Weird Science”, Billy Drago from “The Untouchables”, Michelle Pfeiffer’s sister Deedee, Long Duk Dong from “Sixteen Candles”, and Grace Freakin’ Jones! Now that, ladies and gentlemen, is one helluva cast.

 

Robert Rusler to me is one of those guys I look back on and think...why didn’t it happen for him? He was in lots of stuff and then...not much at all. In this outing he kinda has the Griffin Dunne role, but Dunne in “American Werewolf in London”, rather than “After Hours”.  Gedde Watanabe (who is nearly 60 now, if you can believe it!) is not looked back on fondly by some people for his stereotypical Asian comic relief stuff (which also included an amusing bit in Weird Al’s “UHF”). For me, the guy is too damn likeable to hate. He’s a bit wasted here, but I certainly don’t find his Asian dork schtick to be offensive. He’s an amusing ‘hipster doofus’. Perennial goon/henchman Billy Drago isn’t utilised much here, but an albino Billy Drago proves to be even creepier than the regular Billy Drago. And believe me, he’s normally creepy as hell. Now I’m going to get myself into trouble by saying something controversial: I prefer Deedee Pfeiffer to her older and more well-known sister Michelle. Cuter (a dead ringer for Cameron Diaz), far more charismatic, and yes, even a better actress. There, I said it. I feel better know.

 

Grace Jones seems to be the film’s biggest selling point, and she’s a unique presence, like her or not. She’s never been sexy, exactly (and not especially talented, either), but she has always been striking, unforgettable, and one-of-a-kind. Times that by infinity and crank it up to 11, and you get Jones’ dance routine here which reminded me of Pennywise the Clown doing a striptease. It’s...something, just like Grace herself. The film definitely plays to her beguiling, strange, and striking visage. To some she’s mannish and off-putting, to me she’s unusual and not unappealing. Certainly not uninteresting. The weak link in the cast is sadly the lead, Chris Makepeace, a generic, poor man’s Corey Haim or Sean Astin. He’s instantly forgettable.

 

I’ve got to say that for a horror-comedy, this is a really stylish film. Not only is there a varied (and occasionally thunderous) music score by Jonathan Elias (“Shakedown”, “Two-Moon Junction”), but visually it’s really interesting. The cinematography by Elliott Davis (“King of the Hill”, “Shakes the Clown”) is tops, the film looks like neon bubblegum, suggesting Davis was taking colour tips from Cyndi Lauper or something. It’s a very well-designed film, although the nasty-looking vampires have teeth and FX work that suggest something slightly more lycanthropic than I would’ve liked, personally. It’s a pretty film, and a largely enjoyable, if not hilarious one (Grace Jones is pretty scary, after all).

 

I was pleasantly surprised by this, not a whole lot of people seem to like it. Oh, if only Corey Feldman was in the lead role, it’d be even better. Wil Wheaton would’ve sufficed. Like “Fright Night”, “The Monster Squad”, or “The Lost Boys”, it’s light-hearted 80s teen fun. Wenk’s screenplay is based on a story by him and producer Donald P. Borchers (producer of “Two-Moon Junction”).

 

Rating: B-

Sunday, October 28, 2012

25 Best Power Ballads of All-Time


This list is inspired by recent countdowns I've seen on TV where songs by Celine Dion and Bonnie Tyler have somehow (erroneously) been considered power ballads. They're not. They're just overblown ballads. A power ballad must- as the name suggests- have some power behind them. In my non-humble and correct opinion, this means they either must have a rock/metal sound or at least be performed by a rock/metal band.

 

Honourable Mentions: Dream On- Aerosmith, I Remember You- Skid Row, Who Wants to Live Forever- Queen, Love of My Life- Queen, Wasting Love- Iron Maiden, Wasted Years- Iron Maiden, The Price- Twisted Sister, (Sleeping) In the Fire- WASP, Cat's in the Cradle- Ugly Kid Joe, and Winds of Change- Scorpions.

 

25. When Love and Hate Collide by Def Leppard- Def Leppard's last good ballad before they started to resemble a bad Collective Soul cover band, and their last hit song, too. Obviously, the boys from Sheffield either have a really bad track record with relationships, or they've just cottoned on to the fact that tales of love gone wrong are the recipe for chart success.

 

24. Patience by Guns 'n' Roses- Although it gets a little heavier towards the end, this is an amazingly tender song from a bunch of guys you really wouldn't expect it from. Makes me wish I could whistle, too.

 

23. A Tout Le Monde by Megadeth- Who knew Dave Mustaine could speak French? Or sing a power ballad for that matter? A terrific, haunting number that might be Megadeth's "Fade to Black", though I've read Mustaine wasn't actually referring to suicide here. Sure sounds like it, though. Apparently it's just a song about loved ones dying, and their parting message. Surprisingly emotional stuff from the guys who gave you “99 Ways to Die” and “Crush 'em”.

 

22. Open Arms by Journey- Steve Perry is one of rock's finest singers and this beautiful ballad is one of the best-sung power ballads of all-time, and frequently turns up in pop culture.

 

21. Goodbye to Romance by Ozzy Osbourne- There's more than a hint of melancholy and sadness to this one from the Prince of Darkness that really has it staying with you. I like Ozzy's later and reflective “Dreamer”, but for me this is his best ballad. Yes, even better than “Mama I'm Coming Home”

 

20. I'm Jealous by The Divinyls- A ballad, Chrissie Amphlett-style, complete with threats to 'kick her face in' and all. Probably the most underappreciated song from this terrific Aussie rock band, it's a power ballad with a bit of feral bogan about it. Who doesn’t love that?

 

19. Africa by Toto- These guys only had three songs worth a damn (“Rosanna” and “Hold the Line” being the others), and this soft rock classic is terrific. If you're not singing along to the chorus to this, there's something very wrong with you. Kinda deep, thoughtful lyrics too for a soft rock song, though occasionally it gets a bit naff ('As sure as Kilimanjaro rises like Olympus above the Serengeti'- WHAT??). My guess is that the song is about an emotional pull between spiritual enlightenment in a mysterious country and the undying yearning for a woman back home. But I’m an atheist and single, so what the hell do I know about that?

 

18. Under the Bridge by Red Hot Chili Peppers- Apparently a song about Anthony Kiedis' drug addiction, the clip has been parodied, but the song still remains one of the best of its era. They really are a one-of-a-kind band, whatever you may think of them, and this is just a great song.

 

17. I'll Be There for You by Bon Jovi- The opening riff to this is great, I love it, and the song is one of Bon Jovi's more underrated ones. They’re pretty reliable when it comes to power ballads.

 

16. Wasted Time by Skid Row- I like “I Remember You” as much as the next person (and “In a Darkened Room” for that matter), but this one's a little heavier, both musically and lyrically (It seems to be about drug addiction. In fact, I've heard it might even be about former G 'n' R drummer Steven Adler, but I have no proof of this). Sebastian Bach is a bit of a dick (albeit an entertaining one), but the guy really could frigging sing in his heyday. This film shows that off in spades.

 

15. Beth by KISS- OK, so the message is pretty unromantic. Peter Criss is basically telling his woman to get back in the kitchen 'coz he's hanging out with the boys. Oh, and don't wait up, he's probably gonna be there all night. Amazingly, chicks apparently love this song. I do too, it's pretty soft even by KISS standards, but a great song is a great song, even if it's sung by the drummer.

 

14. Always by Bon Jovi- Probably my favourite ballad from the New Jersey boys. One complaint: Who the fuck would cheat on the smokin' hot Carla Gugino with “Felicity” for cryin' out loud? Never did quite understand that one (I don't think the clip matches the lyrics all that well actually). A great song about undying love, nonetheless.

 

13. Iris by The Goo Goo Dolls- Forget that it comes from the soundtrack to a mediocre Nic Cage movie about mopey angels, this is just a beautiful song with great lyrics. A worthless band otherwise, though.

 

12. Show Must Go On by Queen- This one should have a special place in the heart of every Queen fan, as it was towards the end of Freddie Mercury's life, and one can't help but assume that there was some truth to the lyric here. Freddie was the greatest front man of all-time in my opinion, and I suspect this was his way of defying his illness and refusing to be beaten or broken. Just look at the lyrics: 'Although my heart is breaking, my makeup may be flaking, but my smile stays on' 'I'll face it with a grin, I'm never giving in'. A very brave man indeed, but the song is just a brilliant power ballad, really stirring stuff. The real life connection makes it even more affecting.

 

11. Bringin' on the Heartbreak by Def Leppard- One of the earliest power ballads from Def Leppard, with especially blazing guitar work, and Joe Elliott once again showing his underrated vocal skills, easily one of the best voices in hard rock

 

10. Keep on Lovin' You by REO Speedwagon- One of the best and most iconic power ballads sung by a group headed by one of the ugliest men in soft rock, Kevin Cronin. Seriously, the guy's a real rough head. Hilariously dated music video, featuring one of the worst actresses I've ever seen in my life. YouTube it for a good laugh, and just try and stop yourself from belting out the chorus!.

 

9. Suddenly by Angry Anderson- A running joke for many people, but c'mon, we all watched Scott and Charlene's wedding on "Neighbours", and yes it's sung by one of the genuine rock 'n' roll outlaws (thank you, thank you), but...it's actually a bloody great song. I wouldn't want Angry to be this vulnerable all the time, but here, against all odds and all logic, it really works. I'm sorry, I know it's not cool to admit it, but I love this song. There, I said it. Don't look at me like that...you know you like it too!

 

8. Hysteria by Def Leppard- The title track from my all-time favourite album is easily one of the best power ballads from a band who damn near wrote the book on power ballads. The song's basically all about love's overwhelming effect ('Hysteria when you're near'). Sometimes it drives you nuts, especially if you're not sure of the other person's feelings.

 

7. You're All I Need by Motley Crue- Apparently the title is a swipe at soap actor Jack Wagner who had a similarly titled song and whom once dated Heather Locklear, who of course just so happened to have dated one of the members of the Crue as well. All that aside, this is the most hilarious and sick ballads you're ever likely to hear. With a video banned from MTV, it's a song about a guy who loves his girl so much he kills her to prevent her from ever leaving him. Hopefully this is all meant to be tongue-in-cheek, but the genius of it is that it is sung by Vince Neil with absolute sincerity. It's a genuinely fantastic power ballad, the best the Crue ever did in my opinion.

 

6. Alone by Heart- Heart are really a hard rock act (“Barracuda”, “Magic Man”, and the awesome “If Looks Could Kill”) who simply found that they were good at power ballads and could sell records doing them (Kinda like Def Leppard, really). This was easily their biggest and far and away their best. Ann Wilson is quite simply one of the best vocalists of all-time, of any gender.

 

5. The Flame by Cheap Trick- If like me this was your first exposure to Cheap Trick, you might've been surprised to learn that they had quite a bit of success earlier on as a sort of hard rock/pop-punk band, and a damn good one at that. This, however, is probably their best-known song, and although the lyrics are a tad too needy and stalker-ish for some (the relationship is clearly over, but the song says 'Wherever you go, I'll be with you'), it's the sort of thing lots of people can relate to. Sometimes love just ain't easy to get over, even if you've entered into another relationship, that flame still burns intensely. Brilliant vocals by the underrated Robin Zander, by the way.

 

4. Have You Ever Needed Someone So Bad by Def Leppard- An underrated Def Leppard song off an underrated album ("Adrenalize"), the lyrics are easily relatable in this. Everyone has at some time in their life wanted someone that they just 'couldn't have', right?

 

3. Forever by KISS- Yes, it was written by that no talent arse-clown Michael Bolton, very funny. But all kidding aside, this is far and away the best ballad KISS ever released. Paul Stanley's voice lends itself to these girly songs, and this one has been pretty popular at their concerts. Can't go wrong with a song about undying love.

 

2. Fade to Black by Metallica- Not everyone considers this suicide song to be a ballad, but I can't for the life of me see how it's not one. Soaring guitars and quite mature lyrics for the band that aren't necessarily well-regarded for their lyrical content. The final section gets heavy and is just freakin' genius. Off my favourite Metallica album, too, "Ride the Lightning".

 

1. Love Bites by Def Leppard- If you're still reading, you probably guessed by now what the numero uno song would be. Despite what I said in the intro, there's no real genuine consensus as to what a power ballad actually is, but for me, hard rock songs with a sense of harmony and melody are definitely among the main criteria. Def Leppard are often referred to as 'pop metal' (which is different to ‘hair metal’ and glam metal), because they have always had a sense of melody and harmonised vocals. So it's no surprise that they have been among the kings of power ballads.

Standing tall above all others is this monster power ballad, one of their biggest hits from my all-time favourite album, "Hysteria". Scorching guitars, Joe Elliott's equally scorching vocals, it's an absolute winner. Guys dig it. Chicks dig it. I'm a guy and I dig chicks, so ergo, I dig this. It's about love basically being a one-way street, and boy can I relate to that.