• An-Thor-Logy (Smog Veil Records) DVD Review



    Released by: Smog Veil Records
    Released on: Jul 12th, 2005.
    Director: Various
    Cast: Jon Mikl Thor, Merv Griffin, Lou Diamond Phillips, Jason Priestly, Uncle Floyd
    Year: 1979 - 2005
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    An-Thor-Logy – Movie Review:

    Jon Mikl Thor: God of Thunder, Canadian heavy metal superhero, and someone who scarred me at a young age when I saw the Keep The Dogs Away video play on Muchmusic as a wee tot, finally got his own DVD in 2005. While some of the material compiled on this new set, aptly titled An-Thor-ology, has been around in various tape trading and bootleg circles, this officially licensed product from Smogveil Records finally compiles it all on one shiny little disc complete with some excellent extra features and plenty of material that I’d never seen before. Note that the Smog Veil Records DVD release is long out of print but if you want this disc – and you do – you can get is as a bonus on the still in print Cleopatra Records deluxe CD reissue of Thor – Live In Detroit.

    Presented in chronological order starting in the early, formative years of Jon Mikl Thor’s career, this disc provides viewers with the chance to journey through Thor’s past and follow him along for the ride right up to the present… of 2005. While there’s plenty of Muchmusic material that wasn’t included on this release (it’s possible the rights weren’t available… maybe for Volume 2 if we should be so lucky? Fifteen years later we’re still waiting!) and none of the trailers and promo spots for the various film’s he’s appeared in are here either, there’s still a whole lot of oily muscle bound goodness on this lengthy compilation of RAWK.

    However, rather than focus on what isn’t there, let’s take a look at what is there. Here’s what you get (excluding the extra features… more on that later) for your hard earned dollars should you make the wise decision and decide to pony up the scratch for this bad boy…

    MUSIC VIDEOS:

    If there’s one thing that I know for sure, it’s that there’s nothing better than Viking muscle rock videos. Why that is, I cannot rightly say but it is a fact and, as such, there can be no disputing it. Four of Thor’s promotional videos are included on this disc in their entirety and are here for your enjoyment:

    Sleeping Giant, Keep The Dogs Away and Catch A Tiger were all shot in the same warehouse at the same time (in 1977) and with the same band, but don’t for an instant think that they get redundant. The Dogs video, especially, is solid gold, with footage of Thor trying to rein in three mighty dogs, to keep them at bay, if you will. Couple this with plenty of flexing and posing for the camera in between vocals duties (a recurring theme throughout Thor’s career) and what you’re left with are three masterpieces of music video awesomeness. In addition to Thor’s antics, however, you’ve also got his backing band, each member clad in some sort of oh-so-sexy spandex outfit that perfectly compliment their large and in charge hairdos.

    If that weren’t enough, the video for Knock’Em Down from 1985 has also been included, which gives you a look at Thor nearly a decade after the first three videos were made. If you’d ever wondered what it would be like if Thor fronted an eighties hair metal band (which he definitely did do, and to some impressive results), this video will answer any questions you might have had about such a possibility.

    TV MATERIAL:

    This might be the best part of the disc. Thor has appeared in some interesting places in his four plus decades of performing and many of those visits have been captured by the miracle of TV! A few interesting, albeit brief, news clips start off the feature. But soon we’re thrust into the magnificence of Thor’s first true TV appearance where he performs a cover of Sweet’s ‘Action’ on The Merv Griffin Show! Sporting a moustache that would make John Holmes blush and an outfit that screams ‘male stripper’ (he’s wearing sequined American flag colored under-roos and a cape), Thor performs in front of Merv’s band (who all look thoroughly confused) and blows up a hot water bottle for the studio audience (most of whom also look thoroughly confused).

    A brief history of the metal god is up next with the Thor-U-Mentary, followed by Thor’s appearance on infamous 1982 NYC cable access program, The Uncle Floyd Show, in which Thor shows up to blow up another hot water bottle, leaving the very fashionable Uncle Floyd looking… you guessed it, thoroughly confused.

    He shows up next on a Channel 72 Appearance where he delights the goofy looking hostesses by bending a steel bar with his bare hands. Is that enough, though? Hell no! Next, he struts his stuff by hitting the show with two of his better known tracks – Thunder On The Tundra and Anger. No year is given for this appearance but judging by the look of it all, I’d guess it was done reasonably close to the Uncle Floyd Show appearance in the early 1980s.

    If that weren’t enough, we also get to check out Thor’s Chevy Commercial, his appearance in a Kromer TV Commercial and a couple of U68 Power Hour Promos. Whoever decided it was a good idea to use Thor to sell their products was a marketing genius. All of this material is from 1985, which apparently was a good year for Thor in TV commercials.

    LIVE PERFORMANCES:

    Finally, there’s the concert footage. Some of this stuff isn’t in the best of shape (clearly tape sourced) but the performances are all a lot of fun. The earliest material is the best of the lot, with Keep The Dogs Away, Rosie (both from 1979), Rag-Na-Rock, Special Flight, Phantom Of My Nightmare (all from 1981) and Gladiator Stomp (from 1982) all deserving a special place in every Thor-head’s collection. The Only The Strong/When Gods Collide performance from somewhere in 1984-1985 is also a lot of fun.

    Thor’s got a lot of energy on stage and seeing him in this footage really brings home how much of a show the guy puts on when in front of a live audience, a quality that makes him worth seeing live every time he comes to your town even to this day! The promo videos and TV appearances almost seem subdued in contrast to just how ‘into it’ he gets on stage with a real crow clamoring to see him do his thing.

    An-Thor-Logy – DVD Review:

    Each and everyone one of these clips was shot fullframe and that is how they’re presented here. The picture quality is up and done from clip to clip but the inconsistency is understandable considering that a lot of this stuff is taken from older tape sources. Considering how obscure much of this material is to begin with, there’s not a lot to complain about here even at the worst of times.

    What is important and worth noting is that this presentation does look better in terms of video quality than the bootlegs that have been around for a while of some of this stuff and Thor fans would be doing themselves and Thor a favor by picking up this set.

    The Dolby Digital Mono soundtrack is on par with the video in that it does vary a bit from clip to clip depending on what condition the source material that it was taken from was in. For the most part you can hear everything just fine. There are some clips that have some hiss and a bit of muffled dialogue creeps in from time to time but you shouldn’t have any problems understanding what’s being said at all. For older, rare, VHS sourced material, this stuff is okay sounding.

    The first thing you’ll notice when tooling around on the menu screen is a ‘Voices Of The Gods’ option. Click on that, and you’ll be treated to a full commentary over all of the material that makes up the feature from Thor and his producer, Frank Meyer. For some reason this commentary isn’t listed on the packaging or anywhere in the PR material either, but that doesn’t diminish how great it is. Thor and Frank are definitely at no shortage for words and Thor’s memory is pretty solid as he’s got all the details you could ever want to know on all of the material presented here. Wanna know who influenced his look and style in the early days? Want to know about some of the awkwardness that they had to overcome on the Merv Griffin Show? Maybe you want more details on some of his extensive work in the world of television commercials and feature films? All that and more is in this commentary and you would be a fool not to do yourself the favor of listening to it.

    After that we’re treated to some video clips for two vintage aborted Thor videos – ‘Anger’ and ‘Lightning Strikes.’ It’s interesting to take a look at this footage and wonder about ‘what might have been’ had these projects been finished. The ‘Lightning Strikes’ video clips are worth the price of the DVD alone, they’re just that good as Thor proves he too has mastered the patented ‘poopy face’ made popular by superstar Don ‘The Dragon’ Wilson.

    The full video for ‘I See Things’ is included, and is a rare chance to see Thor rockin’ out in a slightly slicker costume in some sort of mall-goth song. It’s pretty goofy, but it’s good fun. There’s also a video for the song ‘Glimmer’, which was featured in the made for TV movie Murder At The Presidio starring Lou Diamond Phillips and Jason Priestly, both of whom are in the video. This one was directed by John Frasno (may he rest in peace) who also directed the first film to feature Thor in a starring role, the masterpiece known as Rock N Roll Nightmare, which probably explains how Thor ended up on the soundtrack for this one.

    Rounding out the extra features is a pretty decent sized still gallery that features some interesting pictures from throughout Thor’s career.

    An-Thor-Logy – The Final Word:

    Despite the fact that this older video material looks like, well… older video material, the An-Thor-Logy is a top notch release. While the compilation could have been a little more comprehensive, the commentary is the delicious icing on a sweaty oily beefcake and this disc packs more entertainment value than you can shake a mighty hammer at.