Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Revisiting Vampyros Lesbos

Just fresh from a screening of Vampyros Lesbos ahead of reading the analysis of the film in Murderous Passions later. This would make a good jumping off point into Franco's Cinema, it's certainly one of the more palatable Franco films of his 70's run, the film's sins - some perilous framing, an occasionally ill-prepared looking Dennis Price, a few misused musical cues, are all washed away by a hypnotic performance by a sad-eyed, lovesick Soledad Miranda. Her Grand Guignol nightclub act is one of the most erotic, sensual sequences in European Cult Cinema...

Incidentally, I had an Alphaville moment watching the film !

Monday, 27 July 2015

The Unforgettable Fire

I was listening to U2's album The Unforgettable Fire last night and reflecting on the album's art & design connections - Anton Corbijn's fantastic cover photograph of Moydrum Castle, and its debt to Simon Marsden and his infrared-photography book In Ruins: The Once Great Houses of Ireland. But more profound still, the album title which was lifted from an exhibition of paintings and drawings by survivors of the atomic bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki. A book of the exhibition was published in 1977 collecting those extraordinary drawings. The book is long out of print but you can download a copy of the book, in multiple formats over at the Internet Archive

J.A. Seazer

I plan on raiding a few albums from Julian Cope's Japrocksampler collection today and first up and probably my favourite record on the list is J.A. Seazer’s stunning 1973 album Kokkyō Junreika, a mind-melting 53min mix of heavy psychedelic rock, freak-folk, spoken word invocations, primal screaming, brilliant studio experimentation and some Kosmiche style organ workouts. J.A. Seazer is one of the great mystics of Japanese music, a kind of cross between Jim Morrison, David Bowie and Keiji Haino. Apparently he was a Yakuza soldier in his early years and having made too many enemies, grew his hair long and escaped into the Tokyo arts scene collaborating with Shūji Terayama and writing a huge amount of music, soundtracks, opera and theatre works. The Kokkyō Junreika album itself are the highlights of a five hour theatrical production and serves as an excellent introduction J.A. Seazer and the Japrockscene. Curious ? Step this way...


I wanted to share this intriguing quote plucked from the pages of the January 1995 issue of Record Collector magazine. As part of a feature on Industrial Music a timeline of events of the Industrial scene included the following statement re: Throbbing Gristle - "David Bowie describes TG as the most interesting thing in the UK at present." I've never seen this anything like this quote repeated elsewhere but considering Bowie and Throbbing Gristle are the two most important musical forces in my life, I'd dearly love it to be true...

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Three Resurrected Drunkards

Watched Three Resurrected Drunkards, Nagisha Oshima's 1968 film earlier today. Of all the films I've seen this w/end this is the one that's been ping-ponging around my brain all day, for, among other things the interesting parallels with the Monkees' film Head (which I posted about a few days ago). I'd be spinning you a line if I said I had a clear understanding of the politics of the film (Oshima's films much like Godard's are so of their time I feel footnotes are required), but the film is so bizarre, funny, playful and adventurous (there's a particularly inventive and disorientating device about 40mins in), that Three Resurrected Drunkards might well turn out to be the best film from the Oshima's Outlaw Sixties collection. Incidentally, I was fact-checking something in preparation for this post, and according to the Internet Movie Database, the film was released in Japan March 30th 1968 - just two months after Eddie Adams took his famous Saigon execution photograph on February 1st, heavily referenced in Oshima's film - if the IMDB date is correct, that's one incredibly short gestation period !

Saturday, 25 July 2015

Venus In Furs

I had a date with Venus In Furs earlier today. I was eager to see the film again after reading Steve Thrower's vibrant, illuminating analysis of the film in the Murderous Passions book. Catching up with the excellent 20min Jesus In Furs piece on the Blue Underground DVD I was excited to learn that Franco had Miles Davis in mind for the lead role when he was writing the Black Angel draft, and it was interesting to backtrack thru the film and imagine Miles in those scenes instead of James Darren. Still I like Darren very much, and watching his scenes on the bandstand I was admiring his fingerwork on the trumpet, and was pleased to discover that Darren himself was a player. I wish there was more jazz in the film and less Rio - there's a wonderful moment when Darren and Manfred Mann look like they're really cooking on stage. Mann's score for the film is really terrific, especially the piece played when the hypnotically beautiful Maria Rohm engages her former tormentors in a dance of death. Watching the scene where Dennis Price falls under her spell I was wondering who the actor reminded me of, looks wise, and realized I was thinking of a middle-aged J.G. Ballard...

Friday, 24 July 2015


Oz magazine, March 1968 issue featuring Eddie Adams' famous photograph "General Nguyen Ngoc Loan Executing a Viet Cong Prisoner in Saigon"...

I came across this yesterday, found in a gallery of Oz magazine covers and the timing was fortuitous - just last w/end I watched Head, the Monkees film which features newsreel footage of the Saigon shooting. I've seen Head five or six times over the years and this moment in the film, folded into some live footage of the group performing Circle Sky, remains startling as ever. The edit is so tight the footage is almost subliminal but in that nanosecond before it reaches its shocking climax I experience what I call that Un Chien Andalou moment - I wonder will they or won't they dare show the eyeball being slit, or in the case of Head, the "head" shot. Watching the film again, the cut-ups of found footage and the channel-hopping reminded me of Natural Born Killers, and two interesting but superficial coincidences crop up here: Head was released in November 1968, the same month Oliver Stone was discharged from the US army, and secondly, in a scene cut from Natural Born Killers, Dennis Leary spouts one of his manic monologues and references a certain Monkee: "Knock, Knock! Who's there? Mickey. Mickey who? Mickey Mouse, Mickey Mantle, Mickey Rourke, Mickey Finn, Mickey Dolenz, Mickey Knox. Guilty? You bet your ass"

Popol Vuh

Currently listening to The Best Of Popol Vuh From The Films Of Werner Herzog, a compilation which collects music from Aguirre Wrath of God, Heart of Glass, Nosferatu, Fitzcarraldo Cobra Verde and the rare 1984 mountain climbing documentary The Dark Glow of the Mountains. Hardly a definitive overview of Florian Fricke and Werner Herzog’s great collaboration but still this is 44mins of really terrific music. One piece of Popol Vuh soundtrack music that doesn’t appear on this collection or any other album I’m sorry to say is a beautiful nameless piece from Aguirre, the Wrath of God, heard during a shot of bubbling rapids, and later used for the opening of The Great Ecstasy of Woodcarver Steiner as ski-jumper Walter Steiner soars thru the air. Here’s 49 seconds of it at least…

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Powers of Ten

I was reflecting on Jess Franco’s zooms earlier and I remembered this famous science short from 1977… Powers of Ten, a fantastic 9min film which takes the viewer on a cosmic zoom into outer and inner space. The film begins with an overhead shot of a couple picnicking on the Chicago lakeside and proceeds to zoom out at a rate of one power of ten per 10 seconds, all the way to the deepest recesses of empty space. At that point the film reverses its track, back to the picnicking couple and continues its journey into the hand of the man, passed the microscopic foundations of the human body, ending on quarks in a proton of a carbon atom and “the edge of present understanding”. Accompanying the viewer on this mind-bending trip is the warm friendly voice-over of physics professor Philip Morrison as well as a great electronic score by Elmer Bernstein that wouldn’t sound out of place in a Gothic Horror film…

Wednesday, 22 July 2015


I should be making great strides thru Steve Thrower’s magnificent Jess Franco book but I’ve been alternating my reading sessions with a batch of Creepy comics courtesy of Dark Horse’s ongoing archival series. Each volume collects together 5 or 6 issues of the legendary Horror anthology, complete with the original cover artwork, letters page, ads and new forwards by the Creepy staff and appreciative fans. The illustrations are absolutely fantastic with vampires, werewolves, zombies, witches and other unspeakable monstrosities running riot across the pages, each story delivering a nasty twist in the tail much to the delight of the host Uncle Creepy. Of course I wasn’t around during Creepy’s original run from 1964 to February 1983 (recommencing in 2009) but reading these archives, I’m reminded of Gore Shriek and Dead World, two great Horror comics I read in the 90’s. I think a screening of Creepshow is required !

Monday, 20 July 2015

Notes from the Underground

I'm in a metal mood this evening, shooting myself a large injection of nostalgia this evening for my teenage death metal years courtesy of the fantastic Send Back My Stamps website, which houses a huge archive of fanzine scans from the mid 80's right thru to the early 90's before the DIY mag was displaced by the Internet. These were the glory days of the metal 'zine, when bedroom editors were landing interviews with some of the greats of the genre - my preference was always Death Metal, and many of the pivotal bands are present among these scans - Obituary, Carcass, Autopsy, Napalm Death, Morbid Angel, Dark Throne, Bolt Thrower, Cannibal Corpse... The archive is rigorously indexed so it's easy to seek out an issue with your favourite band, and the scans are very good quality. Check it out here

More nostalgia vibrations, remembering the great album artwork of Dan Seagrave, whose highly distinctive, intensely detailed paintings adorned many of the great death metal albums of the early 90's. Clockwise from left: Suffocation - Effigy of the Forgotten, Entombed - Left Hand Path, Carnage - Dark Recollections, Nocturnus - The Key...

Revisiting Contamination

Another film watched over the weekend was Contamination, I wanted to see if my Blue Underground DVD was worth upgrading to the Arrow Blu-Ray - it wasn't, but still I enjoyed revisiting this very goofy Alien lift. Evidently I was dozing thru the credits because I had forgotten Ian McCulloch was in the film - he doesn't show up until the second act and later takes yet another walk thru a stretch of jungle - his third consecutive tramp thru the undergrowth after Zombie Flesh Eaters and Zombie Holocaust which surely makes him a sort of David Attenborough of European Cult Cinema. I wonder did I miss a crucial plot point along the way, but what exactly was the purpose of the eggs ? Unlike the Alien eggs which serve to propagate the species, the Cyclops' eggs serve no function other than causing a few upset stomachs...

Sunday, 19 July 2015


I watched The Shining last night on foot of Eric Somer's superb study of the film in Video Watchdog #178. Accompanying Eric's piece is a review of Room 237, the 2012 documentary which presents some intriguing theories about the meaning of Kubrick's film. I watched portions of the documentary on youtube earlier and I'm on the fence whether any of the hidden meanings in the film - one includes Kubrick's involvement with the faking of the Apollo 11 moon landing, hold water. It's interesting though how a germ of an idea can produce great oaks. Watching The Shining last night, portions of the score sounded remarkably similar to James Horner's score for Aliens, so much so I began to see all sorts of interesting parallels with James Cameron's film. After sleeping on it, I'm less enthused by my observations, but interesting what an overheated mind can conjure up...

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Who Killed Teddy Bear ?

Just watched Who Killed Teddy Bear ? courtesy of Network's DVD... This is one of those mid-60's independent productions (The Sadist is another) that blindsides you with its brazenness, a psychosexual thriller which explores voyeurism, obsession, lesbianism, rape, and pornography - heady stuff for 1965. References if you need them might include Peeping Tom, Black Christmas and Michael Findlay's Flesh trilogy. This one has some great footage of Manhattan night life and the noirish street photography reminded me of another great 60's indie Blast of Silence. Strong performances and some unexpected arty touches - strobing flash cuts and surreal lens distortions round this out as a must see.

Incidentally, I was please to see some interesting first editions in a scene where Sal Mineo does some after dark book shopping...

Friday, 17 July 2015

That's Exploitation !

Listening to a collection of Horror and Exploitation radio spots - truly a lost art of over-the-top ad campaigns and screaming taglines. Here are some of my favorites...

BLOOD & BLACK LACE ("A chic French fashion salon where 7 breathtaking French models will find their hideous diabolical end")

THE SINFUL DWARF ("A depraved psychotic misfit crazed by the charms of young girls luring them from the city streets to a hellish snake pit")

DERANGED ("He carved a trail of butchery so brutal that newspapers refused to print its gruesome details")

LUST FOR A VAMPIRE ("Disciples of the black mass, devils in female bodies whose embrace is the kiss of death for man...or woman")

LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT ("Here is the first motion picture to offer to the daring a look into the final, maddening space between life and death")

HUMAN TORNADO ("I'm Rudy Ray Moore, the Human Tornado ! I chain down thunder and handcuff-lightning, I'm so damn strong it's sometimes frightening").

A selection of radio spots can be heard here

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Hello Satan

I’m enjoying a Blues obsession at the moment - I’m currently working my way thru a 5-disc collection of Charley Patton recordings and enjoying it immensely. I was thinking about Robert Johnson earlier and the Faustian pact he made at the crossroads. It’s one of the great myths of 20th century music, even dyed in the wool atheists find it irresistible. Apparently it was Son House who first propagated the story of Johnson selling his soul to the Devil, although Johnson’s own music doesn’t shy away from it, with song titles like Hellhound on My Trail and Me and the Devil Blues which includes the famous line “And I said hello Satan I believe it's time to go” Interestingly the story of the infernal pact was attributed to an earlier blues musician named Tommy Johnson (no relation) who offered some advice to his brother: "If You want to play and make songs you take your guitar and go to where a crossroads is. A big black man will walk up there at the stroke of midnight and he’ll tune it” Somehow the story was later transferred to Robert Johnson. The Coen Brothers in their 2000 film O Brother, Where Art Thou? returned the story to Tommy Johnson, the name of the young blues musician the three convicts pick up at a crossroads…

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Revisiting Autumn Sonata

I normally restrict my film-watching to the weekend these days but last night I had the rare pleasure of watching a film on a weeknight, courtesy of Criterion’s Autumn Sonata Blu. Extraordinary performances from Liv Ullman and Ingrid Bergman, when Eva finally unleashes her rage on her mother I sat mesmerized, wondering how both actresses could enter that space, that mind set - Olivier would have wryly commented, “Try acting” but what an incredible high-wire act. Another memorable moment in the film, a short but very disturbing dream sequence where Ingrid Bergman’s character imagines strange hands grasping at her while she sleeps makes me wonder what Bergman might have done with a full blown Horror film. The next job of work is to catch the three and a half hour Making of Autumn Sonata which is an exciting and daunting prospect…

Monday, 13 July 2015

Remembering Live Aid

On the 30th anniversary of Live Aid today my thoughts turn to the concert which took place in London on Saturday July 13th 1985. I was 8 years old in 1985, much too young to appreciate the event, but I do remember the Wembley stadium concert being on TV all that day, my older brother was glued to it. Of all the stories that emerged from that day, my favourite concerns David Bowie who fulfilled a slightly unusual request by the organizers earlier that day before his 7:22pm stage slot. On the day, helicopters were flying the stars into Wembley but because the stadium did not have a suitable landing pad, the helicopters were landing on the nearby London Transport cricket ground where police cars were waiting to ferry the artists to the stadium. Just a few hundred yards away from the landing zone, a wedding was taking place in the cricket ground's pavilion and the revelers were understandably upset by the constant noise from the fleet of helicopters. Live Aid Event Co-coordinator Pete Smith recalled: "Somebody had the stroke of genius that if a star could be talked into going in there, it might help smooth things over. In the end David Bowie went in, shook hands with the groom, kissed the bride and wished the happy couple well. There wasn't a word out of them for the rest of the day!" Jill Sinclair who was at the time the producer for Channel 4's music program The Tube caught an ecstatic Bowie as he has coming off stage and asked him what he planned to do next and Bowie replied "I'm going home to have a really good fuck"

Saturday, 11 July 2015

The Mack

Just fresh from a screening of The Mack and not having seen it in some years I'd forgotten how good the film is. It's not the best Blaxploitation picture but it does has some of the best moments of the whole Blax cycle - Max Julien having at red carpet moment, dressed to the nines at the Player's Ball, Roger Mosley raising black consciousness, Richard Pryor having a meltdown, Don Gordon's drunken rant at a big bosomed hooker (which I think was referenced in True Romance if memory serves me right), and some inventive nastiness - a man locked inside the trunk of a car with a pack of rats, a mafioso injected with battery acid, and a gangster blown to bits with a stick of dynamite in his mouth. Essential viewing ya dig ?

Friday, 10 July 2015

It's The Byrds !

I'm pursuing a Byrds obsession at the moment on foot of an excellent documentary on the band broadcast on BBC Radio earlier this week. Narrated by Peter Fonda, with his customary swagger, this hour long program is a good primer on the band and their music and includes contributions from Roger McGuinn and some particularly good stuff from Byrds fan Bobby Gillespie ("There's a real sadness to Gene Clark, a real heaviness, for such a young guy to be writing great songs"). Listening to this Byrds' history, the speed at which the band moved, the turbulence that made the band a veritable revolving door of line-up changes has bumped up on my to-read list Johnny Rogan's 2012 biography Requiem for the Timeless: Volume 1, which requires some investment on the part of the reader, this massive book measures 1216 pages... not quite eight miles high but getting there...

One interesting thing feature of the documentary were some radio spots for their albums, including one for Ballad of Easy Rider which I was quite taken with - the voice featured has a distinctive, warm and friendly tell-it-how-it-is quality that I like ("It's a music about America too... it's The Byrds"). A little detective work suggests the voice belongs to Marshall Efron, a voice artist and actor (his credits include THX-1138). I like the Sweetheart of the Rodeo radio spot as well, with Columbia doing their damnedest to sell a country record to a rock audience ("For their latest Columbia album the Byrds take 11 trips to the country. Why not fly with them?")

10 Martello Street

I'm clicking my way around the world this morning, courtesy of Google Maps and my latest stopover ties in with the music I'm currently listening to... Below a picture of 10 Martello Street, a fairly innocuous looking building in Hackney, East London but in the latter half of the 70's, number 10, otherwise known as Death Factory served as Throbbing Gristle's studio. Reports about Hackney are occasionally grim - I remember seeing Hackney on the news during the 2011 London riots, but looking at this picture of Martello Street, the immediate area around Death Factory looks for more salubrious than it did when Throbbing Gristle were recording there - to the right across the street from the building is a small block of luxury apartments. The relationship between music and place is an interesting one to mull over - the disrepair and decrepitude of Hackney in the mid-70's fed into Throbbing Gristle's music. Interviewed in 1983 Genesis P-Orridge recalled: "When we finished that first record, we went outside and we suddenly heard trains going past, and little workshops under the railway arches, and the lathes going and electric saws, and we suddenly thought, “We haven’t actually created anything at all, we’ve just taken it in subconsciously and re-created it.”

Thursday, 9 July 2015

Murderous Passions: The Delirious Cinema of Jesus Franco

I’m currently reading Steve Thrower’s Jess Franco book and enjoying it immensely. I’m thinking a more biographical flavoured book would complement it very nicely, I imagine the stories and adventures of Franco’s life, irrevocably intertwined with his film making would make for fascinating reading. Franco’s life archers over so many epochs - the rigorous censorship of the Francoist years, the permissiveness of the 70’s and the halcyon age of Exploitation Cinema, the slide towards VHS and the changing fortunes of low-budget film distribution, the porno years, the Franco revival with the advent of DVD and those final micro-budgeted films. Tremendously interesting times, places and faces but I imagine any biographer would have his work cut out for him, given Franco’s nomadic life, living wherever his latest international co-production led him…

For anyone curious about the book here are some shots I took of it...

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Broken Mirrors...

I’ve just spent a pleasant hour and a half listening to Kim Newman and Alan Jones’ commentary track for Suspiria available on Nouveaux Pictures’ 2010 Blu-Ray. This is a very good, lively, engaging track, full of interesting analysis, factoids and trivia. I think I was most intrigued by Alan Jones’ revelation that one of Luciano Tovoli’s methods for achieving Suspiria’s singular look was by using mirrors to reflect the light. Jones describes a scene from the production: “All over the set, out of camera range are masses of mirrors all refracting the light on top of each other to make it as sharp and as vivid as possible” I like this idea of those big Suspiria sets full of mirrors - mirrors and reflective surfaces have a thematic resonance within the film, but perhaps more interesting is their powerful association with the Occult. Had Daria Nicolodi been on set I imagine she would have approved. Incidentally, be sure to check out Tim Lucas' post on the film and some of its more subliminal details - including a fabulous find involving the film's reflective director...

Sunday, 5 July 2015

What Have You Done To Solange ?

Joe D'Amato as an undercover bobby in What Have You Done To Solange...
Blow-Up was mentioned on FB recently and in the absence of Antonioni's film in my collection (a hole I need to plug), I reached for Massimo Dallamano's London-set 1972 giallo. Solange is one of the high watermarks of the genre and revisiting the film this morning, I very much enjoyed D'Amato's crisp, stylish photography, perhaps the finest work of his career - my memory is probably foggy on this point, but I'm wondering if the film's short flashback sequence was the only instance of D'Amato shooting in black & white ? Complimenting the luminous cinematography are the film's trio of beautiful actresses - Cristina Galbó and Karin Baal (who undergoes a subtle transformation from a stern, buttoned-up embattled wife to a sexy even resourceful companion as soon as Galbó is disposed of). And Camille Keaton, who is a haunting (and haunted) presence, entering the film like some kind of strange apparition - she reminds me of Sissy Spacek in Prime Cut...

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Route One/USA

I celebrated 4th of July today with a screening of the 1989 film Route One/USA, Robert Kramer's 4-hour semi-fictional road movie which might be described as an Errol Morris rewrite of Easy Rider. Beginning with a verse from Whitman's Song of the Open Road ("The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose"), Kramer and his friend "Doc", just back from a 10 year stint in Africa, embark on a journey from the Canadian border following Route 1 all the way to Miami. Doc conducts interviews with the people he meets along the way - right-wing conservative Baptists, community care workers battling the sharp edge of poverty and crime in deteriorating inner-city projects, a journalist investigating murders by white supremacists, a man who collects ghoulish celebrity ephemera. Intertwined with these snapshots of American life is Doc's back story and about 3 and a half hours into the film Doc suddenly abandons the trip, which causes the film to fragment into a kaleidoscope of random scenes, before finally running out of road among the waterways and suspension bridges at the port of Miami. Epic in scope, epic in vision...

Friday, 3 July 2015

Red Triangle

My friend Simon is currently hard at work bringing BBC2's cult film series Moviedrome back to our screens, and it's got me thinking about Channel 4's so-called "Red Triangle" season of cult films which aired a little before my time, in the latter half of 1986 into the following year, offering late night viewers films 'for which special discretion may be required'. I'm looking thru the list of films and checking off what I've seen - which is less than half - Out of the Blue, the Antonioni film, and the Terayama films. Following the broadcast of the opening film Thermroc, Mary Whitehouse complained: "It's not good enough to slap on a warning symbol and then indulge in sadistic madness of this kind." If anything the list is a reminder of how cutting edge Channel 4 used to me. Nowadays it's inching ever closer to Channel 5.

19/09/86  Themroc (Claude Faraldo, 1972)
03/10/86  Pastoral Hide-and-Seek (Shūji Terayama, 1974)
10/10/86  Throw Away Your Books; Let's Go Into the Streets (Shūji Terayama, 1971)
17/10/86  Identification of a Woman (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1982)
24/10/86  Pixote (Hector Babenco, 1981)
31/10/86  The Clinic (David Stevens, 1982)
14/11/86  Montenegro, or: Pigs and Pearls (Dušan Makavejev, 1981)
28/11/86  No Mercy, No Future (Helma Sanders-Brahms, 1981)
10/01/87  Out of the Blue (Dennis Hopper, 1980)
17/01/87  The Wall (Yılmaz Güney, 1983)


Some filth for a Friday… I’ve been listening to Psychic TV’s Themes boxset this morning and one track in particular is worth a mention. Gobbledegook found on Themes 4: Lady Jaye features cut-up loops of Vegas-style lounge and big band swing music laced with hilarious dialogue from what sounds like a 70’s porn movie. The sleeve doesn’t list the source of the samples but a little detective work reveals the dialogue is taken not from a film but a bizarre spoken word comedy album from 1974 entitled Wife Swapping Swinger's Orgy Porgy Party, made I presume for an audience too squeamish to visit a seedy porno house (“Dramatic stag story with sexually orientated words and live action sounds” promises the sleeve !). I’m definitely going to seek this oddity out later but in the meantime some of the album’s X-rated gobbledegook can be heard here

Cronenberg's Frankenstein

I was reading an old Fangoria last night (#10 January 1981) and in the feature on Scanners, David Cronenberg mentions his proposed free-adaptation of Frankenstein which I had forgotten about. Fascinating to think what might have been, although motifs from Mary Shelley's book can be found throughout Cronenberg's work, most notably in The Fly. Elsewhere another tantalizing unrealized film is mentioned in a roundtable discussion article on the Horror film entitled "Anatomy of Terror", which alludes to a planned anthology film with segments directed by John Carpenter, David Cronenberg and Walter Hill, with Cronenberg penning the screenplay and story contributions from Carpenter and Hill. The mind boggles !

I mentioned Cronenberg's Frankenstein on Facebook earlier and Tim Lucas left an interesting comment:
(Cronenberg) had absolutely no interest in making this film. It was an idea of his producers, and they used it to create interest in their alliance with him.

Thursday, 2 July 2015

Revisiting Black Sunday

I watched Black Sunday last night courtesy of Arrow’s excellent Blu-Ray. This was my first time seeing the film in HD and the effect was spellbinding, it now joins the pantheon of favourite black & white photographed films - Lolita, Night of the Hunter, Marketa Lazarova and so on. I don’t know how long the shooting schedule was but I imagine Mario Bava had a limited amount of time to plan and arrange his lightning from set-up to set-up - yet every frame of the film looks painstakingly designed and composed. I think Bava made better films than Black Sunday but the film is so intoxicating one can see why it remains the director’s most iconic film...

Incidentally, every viewing of a Bava film inches me ever closer to delving into Tim Lucas' monumental Bava biog All the Colors of the Dark which I was lucky enough to pick up a few years ago. The book is now OOP but a digital version of the book (with updates and enhancements) is available for instant purchase here. I may instead find myself reading the book on my ipad because the colossal hardback is not ideal for bedtime reading !

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Video Vandals

I pre-ordered Arrow's limited edition Videodrome Blu earlier today, and dug out my old UK VHS edition for old times sake. Slightly different artwork from the more commonly seen design of James Woods dissolving into TV static, here it looks like he's being pulled into the Time Tunnel. The CIC sleeve is quite interesting for a rare admission made on the backside of the cover: "This film received an '18' certificate for cinema release. The version of the film comprised in the videocassette has been further edited at the discretion of CIC Video". I'm thinking CIC were nervous of the film ending up on a DPP list of outlawed titles ?

Fela Kuti

Listening to Fela Kuti’s 1974 album Confusion, essentially one monster 26min track spread over two sides of vinyl… One of my most prized boxsets is Knitting Factory’s Complete Works Of Fela Anikulapo Kuti – not quite the complete works, but near enough, the 26 CDs feature 46 albums encompassing the bulk of Fela's music released from 1965 to 1992, an extraordinary blend of African Highlife, Jazz, James Brown funk and drummer Tony Allen’s propulsive rhythms, As well as the music I love the album covers (reproduced on card sleeves in the boxset) which range from DIY cut and paste photo-montages to vibrant, cartoon artwork illustrated by Lemi Ghariokwu, and usually layered with satirical jibes at Nigerian life and anti-Government sentiment. The sleeve for the Beasts Of No Nation album recorded in 1989 after Fela served an 18 month jail sentence (on a trumped up charge so the story goes) features rat-faced United Nations delegates, protesters brandishing placards reading “Human Rights is Our Property”, and Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan and then South Africa Prime Minister P.W. Botha equipped with devil horns and vampire fangs. On the right hand side of the sleeve, Fela can be seen standing outside an open jail cell giving a triumphant black power salute... I’d love to own these on vinyl !