Release DetailsLABEL Smog Veil Records
RELEASED ON 7/26/2005
An-Thor-logy 1976-1985 (DVD)
posted on 2/2006 By:
You’ve got to be kidding me – a freakin’ Thor DVD?! Awesome. Only having become familiar with the man, myth, and legend that is John Mikl Thor, this gives me the perfect opportunity to catch up on everything I missed pre-Triumphant, which is just about everything. I had only heard stories of the glorious cheese that comprised his career, and just had to see it for myself. So one recent afternoon I sat down with a couple of buddies and popped this baby in, and we all proceeded to laugh, cry, yawn, groan, and laugh some more for the next hour or so.
An opening montage of sorts gives us our first glimpse of Thor as a young man, explaining how his love for comics turned him into Thor, and how he longed to parlay his bodybuilding success into a career as a rock god to rival Led Zeppelin and the mighty KISS. The first performance footage we get is a clip from "The Merv Griffin Show" in 1976, a time when Thor was apparently part of the "Red, Hot, and Blue" Las Vegas revue (and why not – it WAS the bicentennial). Thor took the stage in a blue speedo and other assorted spandex outfit that looked like something Hulk Hogan might have worn in his days as Terry Boulder. As he paraded around singing some showtune disguised as “muscle rock”, we could not stop laughing. I don’t care if he had recently won some major bodybuilding competitions – he wasn’t quite ripped enough to pull it off, and frankly looked downright gay, something that not even one of his strongman tricks, blowing up a hot water bottle until it explodes, could change. Did I mention he wasn’t even singing that well?
Moving on to some video clips from 1977 that were all shot on the same stage with the same costumes, but at least the spandex and glitter has been exchanged for leather and studs. The only thing to really differentiate one form the other visually is the different intros. The music isn’t all that bad, but watching Thor and his band on stage had me thinking that they may have been the real inspiration behind "This Is Spinal Tap", and they all looked a lot more like New York Dolls than rock n’ roll gods. Goddamnit, men do not belong onstage wearing makeup and rouge, unless of course it’s Broadway. The live clips from 1979 that follow appear to be shot with a camcorder and show a band that’s changing. The gay costumes and makeup are gone in favor of a simpler look, and – wait, I spoke too soon. One of the clips has our hero in a zebra print bodysuit with big boots. If anyone had walked in on us at this point, they would have wondered why we were watching porn. Funny in an unwatchable sort of way.
The next batch of footage we get are live clips from 1981, when Thor and crew began to take the influences of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal and incorporate that into their sound. It’s recorded decently enough, but a lot of the time the lighting is so bad you can’t even see the band. When you can see them, you can tell they’re finally getting the hang of this live thing, as they all show a bit more energy and movement on stage. Don’t worry, though – there is still plenty of cheese here.
Around this time Thor began to stretch out into other mediums. Unfortunately, no movie clips here, but we get stuff from various TV appearances in 1982, which beg the questions, “Who the hell is Uncle Floyd and when did he have a show?” and “What and where the hell is Channel 72?”. For the former, he dropped in to deliver some mediocre one liners and make a hot water bottle explode (again); as for the latter, this must have been some sort of "SNL"-style variety show where he was the musical guest. Hey, at least he was making fans somewhere. He also did a couple of commercials in 1985, although not as Thor, just another burly actor. This also seems to be the time they shot their first actual music video for “Knock ‘Em Down”, which is pure 80s cheese/camp sci-fi. I tried to have a flashback to whether or not I had ever randomly caught this one on MTV, but to no avail.
In the bonus section, fast-forward nearly 20 years for some more recent concept videos (“I See Things” and “Glimmer”), and WOW, what a difference. Thor – short hair and looking bloated, although I’m told still a musclehead. These are easily the best looking clips here but it’s hard not to laugh and shake your head seeing him like this after over an hour of young, buff Thor.
At the end of this DVD, all we could say was “Wow.” This is the complete Thor package – the good, the bad, and the cheesy from the onetime bodybuilder. It’s easy to laugh at this stuff because it’s 2006 and some of it is 30 years old, from a different day and age. It’s almost not fair, but when you encompass every rock/metal cliché from those times, it’s still hard to put it in perspective. Thor never made it as big as he’d like you to believe, but you can’t deny his body of work, from music to movies to television, as something of a cult favorite. It’s hard to hate a guy who is so passionate about what he does, but that doesn’t mean we have to take it seriously, too. An-THOR-logy needs to be watched in one of two ways: as a long-time fan reminiscing about the good ol’ days, or like my friends and I that day, as a curious mind looking back and laughing at how things were in the 70s and 80s and how far we’ve come since then.
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