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Cradle Of Filth Heavy Left-Handed & Candid (DVD)

By Peter Atkinson, Contributor
Sunday, May 5, 2002 @ 6:08 PM

(Snapper Music/AbraCadaver)

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English black metal circus freaks Cradle of Filth are gearing up for life on a major label (Sony) by making every shiny nickel (or shilling) they can from their indie career. Perhaps they’re girding for the worst by building up their cash reserves now - which probably ain’t a bad idea given the big labels’ previous failures with extreme bands like Carcass, Fudge Tunnel, Napalm Death and Morbid Angel.

First, Cradle is offering this home video - the DVD includes an entire concert, documentary footage, videos and assorted “special features” and nasty bits; the VHS is just the concert and videos for “Born In A Burial Gown” and “Scorched Earth Erotica.” Next month there will be a double-CD greatest hits/rarities package, Lovecraft & Witch Hearts. And then it’s welcome to the big time for “the biggest black metal band in the world” -- or perhaps not. We shall see.

But if any extreme band is suited for the corporate rock environment, it is Cradle Of Filth. The sextet’s larger than life persona -- which emanates from ostentatious frontman Dani Filth -- is matched only by their flare for the dramatic and willingness to do just about anything to call attention to themselves.

One sees all too much evidence of this during the “candid” segment of Heavy Left-Handed & Candid DVD, the “Sifting Through The Filth” documentary -- or schlockumentary as the band appropriately dub it. Here, between interview segments with Dani Filth and semi-conscious splatter-movie maker Alex Chandon (who directed Dani in the grisly Cradle of Fear, who’s trailer is included on the DVD), you get never-ending snippets of touring debauchery and mischief. Watch the band stumble around drunk, swear like truck drivers, pass out, piss on cars, throw shit out hotel windows and giggle like idiots at stuff no one else will find particularly amusing.

A little bit of this crap goes an awful long way, but here you get almost an hour’s worth, which will try anyone’s patience. And despite Cradle’s penchant for dark eroticism, there’s way more male nudity than female. Yikes! Don’t even bother watching the “Blair Twit Project” segment; it’s just more drunken antics -- only this time in the woods. Yawn!

Much more intriguing is an unfortunately brief section dedicated to the Circus of Horrors, a Jim Rose-like freak show that opened part of Cradle’s tour. The girl with the hula-hoops is pretty boring, but the vampire chick with the big-ass boa constrictor is very hot. And the guy who drives a poker through his tongue, skewers through his neck and face and swings a metal bucket with his dick is sick as hell -- although nothing he does is as nasty as his filthy, snaggly teeth. Gag!

The concert part of the DVD is pretty cool, too. And since Cradle of Filth has played less than 50 gigs in the U.S., it’s great way for fans who have yet to see the band to experience the show, which is quite spectacular. Recorded at the relatively cozy Nottingham Rock City in England, the band nevertheless sound great -- much better than when I saw in person in D.C., where everything was a screeching blur. And the whole production from the 2001 tour is included -- the freaky acrobats, spider women on stilts and frenzied light show that accentuates Cradle’s frantic, fanciful music. The 77 minutes of gothic black metal insanity is heavy on material from the Midian album, but tracks like “The Principle of Evil Made Flesh” and “Dusk and Her Embrace” showcase the band’s expansive early material. And with the DVD you can play the songs in whatever order you want and skip over anything you’d rather not see.

Because it focuses on the music, and leaves out the tedious documentary parts, it would make more sense of casual fans to snag the VHS instead of the DVD. The sacrifice you make in sound and convenience will be worth it, because do you really want to see these guys draw on each other’s asses? And you’ll save a few bucks too.


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