The Crusades of a Critic putting pop culture in its place with sharp verbal bullets.

Welcome to the cold, oppressive inner sanctum of my mind that gave birth to the beast known as The Iron Criterion. Armed with high expectations, a short temper, a lyrical spirit, and a raging God complex the literary equivalent of letting Dick Cheney loose in the suburbs with a high-velocity hunting rifle. So this is my personal crusade against a broad range of "unjust villains" of the movie, television, video game and literature varieties - that is a bit like a drunken hobo stuck in a video rental store. Special thanks go to my friend Brotherhood619 for designing the original logo, which is now BURNING IN HELL WHERE IT BELONGS.

My reviewing style is very analytical and critical, whilst simultaneously aiming to be comical and entertaining. I automatically hate anything mainstream unless it can prove itself to me. I'm also a foreign film purist, and a lover of the English language and the literature it has spawned. Recurring elements in my reviews include surrealism, cynicism, nihilism, misanthropy and obscure references that most people probably dare not even attempt to understand - think Jon Stewart meets Friedrich Nietzsche.

The end of July 2014 marks the cumulation of the blog's fifth year. *Blows party-horn*

Want to suggest a review? Then simply e-mail Iron.Criterion@gmail.com

Need more Iron? Then you should probably see a dietician! Bad jokes aside, I created and used to edit an alternative music webzine, which finished its run in 2014. From 2012 - 2014 I also wrote for What Culture.

For archived posts visit the categorised links above, or for this week's post scroll down:

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Prime Cuts Vol Two Review (Guest Review) - Another Round of Soggy Pizza

The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of John Franklin's mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should read this level of shit. I am forced into speech because Indyplanet.com refused to follow my advice without knowing why. It is altogether against my will that I will tell my reasons for opposing this contemplated Prime Cuts: Volume 3, though I am writing this under appreciable mental strain, since by tonight, I will be in a private hospital for the insane near Preston, Lancashire.

TL;DR: You've gotta be fucking kidding me.

Prime Cuts is back, and in a way it’s nice, because I've always wanted a nemesis. John Franklin has become the Negan to my Glenn's minced brain matter, because I thought I was clear, home free, but he just had to come round for another swing. I wanted to use a 'Vincent Mancini to my Michael Corleone' simile here, but let's face it, you don't know who that is. Either way, curse you, John Franklin.  Curse you.

As I said last time, Prime Cuts is the brainchild (attic-dwelling anal-lovechild more like) of John Franklin: the child-playing midget from Children of the Corn, and the sequels that no one watched, and Tim Sulka, writer of 'Corn 6, and Prime Cuts...Wahey.  Brilliant CV there, mate.  Seems between the 6th film of a deceased franchise, and ripping off Sweeney Todd, Sulka has mastered the art of being completely unoriginal.

So, as before I'll be dividing this review up into 4 segments: plot, characters, narrative, and art.  Let's just get this over with.


It’s Sweeney Todd.  Next.

Only joking. Vol 2 picks up where Vol 1 ended. Electra Love (cringe with me) and Todd-this-hurts-my-soul-to-write-Sweeney, have just killed a trucker, because he made Electra suck him off, and earlier Todd gave him a 'mad haircut' against his will. They decide to cut him up into bits when-oh no, a health inspector comes by. What a coincidence. Electra keeps the inspector busy by playing Guess The Gender, which these days is about as futile as trying to tell Adam Sandler he isn't funny, while Todd stashes the body. The inspector leaves and Electra starts mincing the trucker up onto a pizza. People eat the pizza and it gets them incredibly high somehow, so they want more.  I'd like to see the science behind that. How does eating people make you high? Maybe Franklin just thought 'getting high as fuck' sounded more entertaining than 'horrific, uncurable, terminal cerebellar ataxia'.  Kuru: that's what you get from eating your own species. See, these reviews are educational too.

That's it in a nutshell. We see some gang leader type in the pizzeria and that shy blonde girl from Vol 1 again, as well as some cliché trailer-trash customers, but they're really just there for the sake of being there. Most of the book takes place in the kitchen.


Todd and Electra are back, naturally, and now that the introductions are out of the way, it’s time for some development. Turns out Electra has a senile old dad that she keeps locked away and only pulls out when she needs to feed him some meat, like Fritzl. She wheels him in to the pizzeria towards the end, hinting that he's next in line to be topping. A bit out of place as the first issue painted her more as a sympathetic character, now here she is telling her dad she only keeps him ticking for his disability cheques. What a bitch. Saying that though, she does let Todd feel her up on their first meeting, so she's clearly not all there.

Todd takes a back seat in this issue. He's hardly in it and when he is, he's either doing as his sociopath overlord tells him, or he's doling out one of his trademark 'mad haircuts'- OK, can we just clarify something? Can someone tell me what's so mad about this (below), because it looks like a short, back and sides to me? Anyone with a pair of clippers knows how to pull that one off. It isn't exactly wizardry.

The blonde lass makes a cameo again, but again, it's basically just to remind the reader that she exists, like celebrity reality TV. She's victim to the muscly biker's affection, as evidenced when he grabs her by the tit. I think she works at the pizarria, I'm not sure. I can't tell. This is why work uniforms exist. Either way, she's there. The second biggest travesty is the venue's customers. Talk about cliché, holy shit. Jeremy Kyle types who give their kids edgy, social commentary on the decline of Western civilisation names like Chlamydia, and wear edgy t-shirts with edgy slogans like 'Meth Man' on them. Now, if Meth Man was some sort of superhero in this world, that'd be pretty interesting, but I bet it won't be. In fact I know it won't be, because I've seen Sweeney Todd.

The worst crime by far though, a crime I've not seen since The Dark Tower, is that the author himself is in it. That's right, John Franklin is in Prime Cuts. In the ultimate show of vanity and self-fellation, he's a character. He's Electra's assistant, Pushmi, and he basically takes orders off her.  Now that the boss is gone she promotes him to 'Vice President... Whatever'. Way to go, John Pushmi Franklin. Pushmi? Like that Siamese Llama from Dr Doolittle? Really? Oh John, how low is your self-esteem that you make yourself the office bitch, named after a freak of nature? If I was going to put myself in my own work, I'd at least have the Stephen King level of balls to make myself the most awesome badass in all of existence. Johnny Bravo meets Johnny Matrix meets Ron Jeremy, GP, Warlock, Vietnam veteran, one of the immortals from Highlander, slayer of vampires, hunter of demons, the by-product of angels having sex with demons.


So Prime Cuts starts with more monologue from Todd and carries on the same kind of modern colloquialism of Vol 1. 'For reals this time'. 'Reals'. 'S'. Now, as a man who's said 'gnarly' at least three times today, I'm not adverse to slang; far from it, but it just comes off as a little cheesy in this format. I mean, when is this even set?  Do people even still say 'for reals' now? Usually the narration is either from Todd or Electra's POV, but sometimes it’s from neither. I wish it would make up its mind and stop being so all over the shop.

Oh and Fate's back. Hooray. 'So much for fucking fate... or maybe fate's fucking you!' At this point someone had better get fucked just to take the edge off all this angst. What fate? What is this fate Todd keeps whinging about? You can't keep talking about something off-scene, but never explain what it is. Imagine if Star Wars did that. Imagine if the Force was only mentioned by name, but never seen in the films, never used by anyone, and never explained.

In order to get the kidz on board, there's more of that edgy dialogue from the extras that I loved so much in Vol 1. Some skank offers to let Todd give her a pearl necklace (and don't you pretend you don't know what that is), and all throughout it tries to be funny but just comes off as stale. What with Meth Man and Chlamydia's mother just saying things for pure shock-factor, and Electra calling the health inspector 'sir' then correcting herself, just because the inspector looks like a cross between Danny DeVito and Stephen Fry. Oh John Franklin, you edgy bastard.


Oh my word. Just oh my word. Remember what I said about the last one being a sloppy mess of pallid colours and the ink not even staying in the lines? Well I got what I wished for. They've fixed it. Streamlined it. And in doing so, made it much worse. Though it’s more coherent now that they've switched the artist (Stan Maksun is on it now), there are things that bring it down. The purpose of the illustrator is to highlight the main focus in each panel. If done correctly, the reader will know what it is they're supposed to know, what the author wants them to know, and what it is they should be looking at.

So why then does it have to have massive arrows point out shit that the reader should be able to figure out on their own?  One panel shows Electra's senile dad. The next shows his feet in a yellow puddle. I can figure out for myself that it's supposed to be the man's piss; I don't need a big red arrow with 'Earl's piss' pointing at it. No shit. I didn't see him drop a bottle of Sunny D in the last panel. Same thing happens earlier on with the health inspector. There's a metal pot in the background with a 'Jimmy' arrow pointing at it. Couldn't we have just seen someone putting Jimmy's head in the pot? Show, don't tell.

In Vol 1 the blonde girl already had pretty long hair, but it Vol 2 it's gone all Dali and it looks like it’s never been brushed. There's one panel where it’s clearly longer than she is. Why? And that's the problem. I found myself asking why way too much with this thing. Why retell Sweeney Todd in a pizzeria in the first place?

So that's it. Normally I like to strike a balance and say something good about it, like I did with Vol 1, but honestly, I couldn't. It's a mess. It’s bland, it’s unoriginal, its characters are cardboard clichés, and why the fuck is John Franklin in it? It makes my brain hurt, it really does. Prime Cuts is the 9/11 of comics.

Ouija: Origin of Evil (Guest Review)

Guest post by Christina 'DZA' Marie from Dragons, Zombies, and Aliens.

It is a rare prequel/sequel that is so much better than the original. 

I saw the first Ouija a little while ago and could barely recall any of the details. I could barely remember the villains’ backstories and only vaguely remembered the house as the primary setting. It didn’t leave a lasting impression, obviously. I was entertained, but very glad I had watched it at home instead of paying $8 to see it.

Ouija: Origin of Evil is the backstory behind the villain of Ouija, so we’re well aware of the fact that nobody is going to get a happy ending here. (One of the reasons I don’t like prequels is because I know exactly how it’s going to end before stepping foot in the theater). So I was prepared for a downer with plenty of jump-scares in place of actual plot.

What I was not prepared for was the stellar acting of everyone involved, especially the kids (Annalise Basso also played the younger version of Kaylie in Oculus). I was not prepared for the neat side-stepping of the overused romantic subplot between the mom and the priest, both of whom decided that they could work as a couple “in another life.” I was not prepared for the fact that everyone in this movie was actually smart and avoided the plentiful horror movie mistakes that give the horror genre a bad name. I actually wrote a survival guide about ghost stories and was very pleased to see that most of the characters followed it (with the exception of getting rid of the children; kind of hard to do that when they live in the house).

The character Dorris was especially spot-on. The first half of the movie is her just being a kid. Even when it’s clear that she’s channelling something supernatural, she’s still a giddy little girl. There’s one scene where she channels a man’s spirit, who looks at his widowed wife who asks “Is he proud of me” and says “Always” in his own voice through Dorris’s body, and she giggles out a “That tickles!” Of course, her neck starts hurting, and she goes to the board that night with my favorite line: “As friends we gather blah blah blah why does my neck hurt?” That’s the last time she has any sort of innocence. She’s possessed by evil spirits and proceeds to scare the shit out of everyone involved.

Dorris was amazing. The priest was a stud. The other characters were smart and believable. There was a distinct lack of plot holes. And it was touching and heartbreaking. When the family realizes that the board is for real and they can do what they’ve been pretending to do (talk to spirits), they genuinely try to help people by connecting them to their loved ones. They just have the rotten luck of playing in a house that’s in fact a graveyard. (Not to mention not saying “goodbye” the first couple of times they use the board because they think it’s not real, and Dorris playing alone.)

Overall I was very pleased with Ouija: Origin of Evil. I was less pleased when I had a difficult time trying to go to sleep that night, but that’s only a further indication of a good horror movie.