Great Kat: Extreme Guitar Shred
Other // Unrated // $8 // February 22, 2005
Review by Don Houston | posted March 17, 2005
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Movie: I've long been a fan of women in music for their vocal talents if not the siren like quality that most of them possess. Just watch one of the videos by any of the leading ladies of music over the years, such as Tori Amos, Kylie Minogue, Pat Benatar, Selena, Cher, Sarah Brightman, Berlin, or Everything But The Girl and you'll see why they all developed such large audiences. But there's another side of music that gets far less press and is somewhere on the fringe of acceptable taste and I'd be remiss if I didn't point out that a great many people seem enthralled by the gimmick driven musicians as well. One such performer has now been given a reprieve from obscurity with the release of her collection of videos entitled, The Great Kat: Extreme Guitar Shred.

The Great Kat is the stage name for Katherine Thomas, a gal that has been around pop culture almost since she graduated Juilliard so long ago. Known for her speed metal performances almost as much as her garish make up, leather (revealing) clothing, and total obsession with herself as the new messiah of music, Kat provides a fusion of heavy metal with classical music that is very rare indeed. Under all the gimmicks, she actually has a modicum of talent at playing the guitar, reportedly as "the fastest female shredder" to date. While most metal went out of style back in the 1980's, she's hung on in the background, plotting her return to a mostly unappreciative audience of juveniles looking for shock value, ocasionally releasing a short EP of reworked classics to a fanboy audience. With the events of September 11, 2001, she renewed her career with a series of war mongering videos that used blood, disturbing images of death and destruction, and her unique style with music videos you won't see on cable television any time soon.

The DVD is mainly a collection of six videos and some biographical data with photos attached. In War, she beats the drum at the attacks on New York City, calling for retribution. In Castration, she ends the sexual career of a fan the hard way as she plays doctor (ouch!). In both Dominatrix and Torture Chamber, she dominates willing slaves who lick her boots. While in Zapateado and Live in Chicago, she shows how she earned her crown as a fast shredder with the guitar and violin.

For the most part, the videos would've interested me more had they focused on her musical ability (I bought a CD back in the 80's when I was more impressionable, an EP in the very early 90's, and a CD-Rom later on to see whatever became of Katherine) but I'm sure that the shock value alone will be enough to give many parents fainting spells so teenagers might see some appeal in her theatrics. Even as an aging rocker gal, she still looked pretty appealing in her outfits and her talented playing wasn't actually diminished by the goofier aspects of her act. I'm going to rate the DVD as a Rent It unless you're a devoted fan of hers, in which case it will be a tribute to your goddess. It was very short and while the price was right, it didn't contain enough material to really spark an interest in this old, former fan.

Picture: The picture was presented in 1.33:1 ratio full frame color with the sides blocked off a bit. There was a lot of grain and video noise but this looked intentionally done in the style of an underground video from decades past. I didn't see any compression artifacts and while it was short, it looked exactly as I thought it should given the content.

Sound: The audio was presented in 2.0 stereo English. Rather than focus on technical excellence, it was somewhat cluttered and the vocals could often be very distorted, much like Kat's music CD's. I had to admit that Kat had a lot of interesting ideas and I'd love to see an acoustic version of what she has to offer or at very least a set where only she performed. Otherwise, the music CD's sounded far better than this DVD.

Extras: The only extras amounted to a short tribute to the Great Kat with pictures and mini-biographical data in the form of a Hot Shred Bits and Shred Faqs section.

Final Thoughts: The Great Kat: Extreme Guitar Shred was a bit dated in so many ways, almost paying tribute to the days when metal bands ruled the airwaves and women relied more on gimmicks to sell albums than their actual talents. Kat will remain a blip in the road of the musical atlas of the years but I really think her talents warrant more thorough investigation than this DVD had to offer.

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