The DVD Companion (Cleopatra)
by “Spooky” Scott Hefflon
With Cleopatra Goth, you pretty much know what yer getting… Most of the videos are live videos where the sound’s pretty bad, the synching isn’t always right, and the spooky lighting consists of turning red and blue lights on and off (ohhhh, someone hold me!). Sometimes the band’ll stand atop a grassy hill and lip sync before an unsure cameraperson, or maybe they’ll perform in a church with a lot of candles burning and the congregation trying not to fall asleep in faux-boredom, or “testifying” by shaking like the Spirit has possessed them (or whatever happens at those revival thingies), but if yer lucky, two hotties’ll writhe around in Gothy/gaudy make-up, tickling the heavens while looking meaningfully into the camera, maybe staring bug-eyed like they’re insane or something, the camera zooming in for close-ups in dusty attics, basement dungeons, or frolicking on a beach. Hmm, they musta needed to write the trip off or something. While forlorn piers are kinda Goth, and outcroppings of jagged rocks with hidden caves of delight and ancient rituals are pretty Goth, scampering and splashing on open beaches is a bit swimsuit-issue…
Again, seeing as we’re dealing with Cleopatra Goth, ya know it leans heavily on “old school” Goth, mostly ’80s British (or wishing it was). And ya don’t have to be too bright to realize, hey, this has a lot in common with British punk and New Wave of the same time period. Duh. When I first heard Alien Sex Fiend, for example, I just thought they were a not-especially-aggressive Britpunk band that couldn’t sing and kinda had a thing for disco beats and Blondie keyboards. So for the Manson-loving rockers, hey, did ya know many of your Goth ancestors had short, floppy hair, pogoed around, and drenched their barely-in-tune guitars in reverb? And much of the rest overlapped with punk (real punk, I mean) cuz it hated everyone so much and wanted all the useless normal people to die painful deaths. Punks told people to sod off and spat at them, when they were sober enough to do so without falling down, and Goths sulked, shot smack, and fantasized about cutting people to ribbons and fingerpainting obscene paintings of Jesus ass-fucking farm animals or whatever in their blood.
So this is a nice slice of Goth history, and the flaws of cheesy filming and art-film splicing (think that ’60s shock value stuff Morrison and his ilk did in film school: Reading poetry on a ledge, strippers gyrating, pigs sniffing slop, Nazis saluting, all the chaos of life, maaaan) are more the time period than anything else. Switchblade Symphony are pretty much the only new and vital band here (the band with the two hot chicks cavorting about), and they have the best filmed video and, well, the look and moves pretty much sum up the Goth thing, in case you don’t live down the street from your city’s Goth club the way I do. Others adding historical perspective to this mysterious genre: The Wake, Christian Death, Nosferatu, Eva O., Red Lorry/Yellow Lorry, The Prophetess, Ghost Dance, Lords of the New Church, The Chameleons U.K., Skeletal Family, Executive Slacks, Usherhouse, and Corpus Delicti.
Special features are a little slim on this re-released classic, but you can either watch the videos in a string or one at a time (gee, thanks), and there’s a clunky Bonus Audio Tracks list where ya select whatcha wanna hear, and then the title appears on the screen and a few seconds later, the song starts, unless you press anything – like Play – cuz that’ll take you back to the list. So there are 12 audio tracks in addition to the 15 videos, many by the same bands: Switchblade Symphony, Big Electric Cat, The Wake, Alien Sex Fiend, Corpus Delicti, Christian Death, Nosferatu, Two Witches, Mephisto Waltz, Aurora, Die Form, I Will I.