follow us in feedly
‘I’m stepping through the door And I’m floating’: David Bowie R.I.P.
01.11.2016
02:42 am

Topics:
Current Events
Heroes
Music

Tags:
David Bowie


 
Crushing news. It has just been announced that David Bowie has died of cancer at the age of 69. Anyone who has followed Dangerous Minds over the years know how much we adore the man. Our hearts are broken.

From Bowie’s official Facebook page:

David Bowie died peacefully today surrounded by his family after a courageous 18 month battle with cancer. While many of you will share in this loss, we ask that you respect the family’s privacy during their time of grief.

 
I’ve been charmed by many of David Bowie’s appearances on screen. But this clip from British TV when he was a mere 17 is particularly wonderful. His subversive humor is already beginning to blossom as the spokesperson for The Society For The Prevention Of Cruelty To Longhaired Men. Sly devil.
 

 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Discussion
‘Punk Rock’: Porno and New York City punk collide in this gritty 1977 X-rated crime drama

Poster Art for Punk Rock
 
Mixing a 1940’s style noir detective film with the grittiness of mid 1970’s New York City is the peanut butter firmly engulfed in the sleaziest of chocolate. Throw in the then still-fresh punk movement and you will have the bittersweet treat of Carter Stevens’ 1977 film Punk Rock. Wade Nichols aka Dennis Parker, whom would go on to both disco cult fame with his 1979 song “Like an Eagle” (courtesy of Neil Bogart’s Casablanca Records) and for appearing on the soap opera The Edge of Night for a number of years, stars as ex-cop and current gumshoe Jimmy Dillinger. His most recent case involves finding Jenny (Susaye London), whose rich family have been looking high and low for her. Jimmy has found her—oh, has he found her, six ways to Sunday—but as soon as his back is turned, she is kidnapped yet again. With the friendly dame on his conscience and her wealthy daddy still footing the bill, he has got to find her again and soon.
 
Wade Nichols is gumshoe Jimmy Dillinger
 
Someone is clearly really wanting Jenny back and this second time around puts the hard-bitten with a heart of semi-precious gold Dillinger on a trail brimming with forced prostitution, junk, punk rock music and the oldest trick in the world—-the unforeseen double cross. Don’t worry. In this age of fast-food information and meme-blips, I refuse to spoil the ending of this impactive film. Shouldn’t your eyes be pure for something in this age of “if it bleeds, it leads?” Our souls might be a lost cause, but at least your peepers can be clean for this. It’s one hell of a surprise ending.
 
Elda Stiletto in Punk Rock
 
Punk Rock works on two different but very key levels. The first one is the fact that it succeeds as an unlikely but tight retro-noir-punk-rock hybrid. It has all the right crime elements, even involving a girl-sex-ring led by a whip-wielding musician/pimp played by none other than Elda Gentile aka Elda Stiletto from Elda & the Stilettos! (A group that is probably better known now for once featuring a pre-Blondie Debbie Harry and Chris Stein. According to director Stevens, Harry was initially considered for the part, but took a pass.) There are truly grimy-looking drug pushers, suave pseudo-old-world-mobsters and one really fantastic underworld figure named Igor, played fabulously by Bobby Astyr. Talk about used-car-dealer meets pimp-goombah-sleazeball charm, Astyr is all of this and more.
 

 
At the center is Wade Nichols, whose old school matinee idol good looks and acting chops made him a perfect private detective fit for the 1940s meets 1970s. Nichols innate charisma and strong masculinity without being too macho, were traits that fit him into this role like a glove. Robert Kerman, billed here as Richard Bolla, is also good as the wise-ass police inspector foil to Nichols’ Dillinger.
 
Dillingers confronts a pusher at Max's Kansas City
 
The second level is a fascinating historical peek into a New York City pre-gentrification, pre-Guiliani and pre-gummed up TGIFridays/Disney Store neon hell. Grime, trash and dirty melting piles of snow line the streets and even the legit storefronts look grungy. 42nd Street is shown in all of its electric candy store of sordid delights glory and thrumming with pure mutherfucking vice. Even better is you get an inside peek of one of the birth places of New York punk, Max’s Kansas City, a club so great that Jayne County once wrote a song about it!
 
Welcome to Vice
 
In fact, it’s the scenes set in Max’s that are the most historically important, especially for a music fan. In Punk Rock, we get to see three different bands play. The first two acts, The Squirrels (no relation, from what I can tell, to the Seattle novelty band of the same name), The Spicy Bits (a super obscure band from the scene that did at least warrant a name check in Dead Boys’ guitarist Cheetah Chrome‘s autobiography) and most importantly, The Fast. Every movement has its stars that should have and could have made it huge, but yet, never quite did. The Fast not being household names then or now is still a smear of injustice on the music industry. (And trust me, that’s a structure that has more stains on it than a port-o-potty on the last day of Sturges.) Formed by brothers Armand aka Mandy and Miki Zone and later on joined by their younger brother Paul, The Fast were a power-pop band with a punk/hard rock edge whose energy, stage presence and bizarro rock image set them apart from anyone else on the scene. Need proof? Watch their renditions of “Kids Just Wanna Dance” and “Boys Will Be Boys” in Punk Rock. (Plus, the latter features the most rock & roll use of Cheerios, ever.)
 
The Fast with Miki, Paul & Mandy Zone.
 
Interesting note about Punk Rock is that there is an X-rated cut where instead of the musical sequences, you get explicit sex scenes. Not to underrate the joie de vivre of things like visual insertion, I would still take The Fast over that any day. Though that said, this film is proof that directors and actors from the X-rated world could act and make a pretty great little film if they wanted to. It’s not all pizza delivery boys and horny housewives.
 
Watch the scene from ‘Punk Rock’ with The Fast, after the jump…

Posted by Heather Drain | Discussion
You gotta have a gimmick: The true story of the multi-million dollar ‘Snuff’ film hoax
12.10.2015
11:06 am

Topics:
Hysteria
Kooks
Movies

Tags:
Killing for Culture


 
An exclusive excerpt from Killing For Culture: From Edison to Isis: A New History of Death on Film (by David Kerekes & David Slater), an all-new edition of the 90s cult classic, available now in special edition hardback.

Snuff started life as Slaughter, a dire exploitation film shot in 1971 by husband and wife filmmakers Michael and Roberta Findlay. The Findlays were prodigious in the field of exploitation. Whether working apart or together, they churned out films to meet current trends in the market, so cheap it was nigh impossible they could lose any money. One early production that Michael worked on (without Roberta) was Satan’s Bed (1965), starring the unknown Yoko Ono. The rest is a succession of cheese and grindhouse sleaze, including roughies like Body of a Female (1964) and horror pictures like Shriek of the Mutilated (1974). Slaughter was exceptionally bad, however. It fell between the cracks. Indeed, the film’s producer, exploitation specialist Allan Shackleton, had almost given up on it when he got the idea to film a new ending and precipitate its release as Snuff with a scurrilous marketing campaign.

Scrubbing all references to the Findlays’ movie, Shackleton removed the original title and credits and adopted a new title — Snuff, as in ‘snuff film’. Shackleton was ready to scratch a legend into the annals of exploitation history with a stunt comparable to the War of the Worlds radio broadcast, Orson Welles’ play that convinced 1938 America that Martians were invading Earth. Now, Snuff was primed to electrify the imaginations of a new generation, same as the old generation.

The next move was to engineer additional footage (running a little under five-and-a-half minutes) and splice it onto what was left of Slaughter. For this task, Shackleton hired Simon Nuchtern, a jobbing director with a handful of not altogether remarkable movies to his name.
 

 
In the newly-edited Slaughter, the scene cuts away to reveal the new material: A studio set with actors caught in the moment. Surrounding the actors are the trappings of movie making, including one archetypal bulldozing director.

The director confides to a pretty production assistant that the last take “was dynamite. That was a gory scene and it really turned me on.” She confesses it turned her on, too.

What follows is a stupefying descent into madness, and for the tawdry movie of the last seventy-odd minutes a contrivance as daft as it is unexpected. The director, wearing a t-shirt that bears the slogan VIVA LA MUERTE (Long live death), begins to lean on the girl. “Why don’t you and I go to the bed and get turned on… turn each other on, mm?”

“What about all these people watching?” she asks.

“Give ’em just a minute, they’re gonna be gone.”

Still in long shot, still in whispers, the director and girl engage in a little light petting on the prop bed. Contrary to leaving, however, the other people in the room slowly focus their attention on the couple, including the cameraman and soundman.

Point of view of the cameraman as the couple grope and fondle; the girl’s startled face as she suddenly becomes aware that the camera is on them.

“What are you doing? Are you filming this? They’re filming it!”

The girl struggles to free herself from the director’s pawing. “Don’t worry about it,” he says.

“You’re crazy!”

“Just move a little back up here — ”

“You’re crazy!” Scared.

“ — right back up here.”

“Let me go!”

“Shaddap!” Then to the crew he says, “Do all of you wanna get a good scene?”

Cutaway to the crew and affirmation.

“Okay… watch yourself… watch …”

“Let me up!”

“… watch…”

“Let me go! You’re crazy!”

The director calls for assistance. A member of the crew expressionlessly complies, holding the girl’s arms down on the bed, while the director reaches for a knife.

“You’re crazy. You’re not serious. You’re not really gonna do it,” the girl pleads.

“You don’t think so?”

“N-no.”

“Think I’ll kill her…”

The director slices through the girl’s blouse and across her shoulder. Blood (the colour of raspberries) oozes from the wound. She writhes and hollers.

“Scream, go on, scream!” the director demands. “That’s it, scream!”

The screaming becomes a pathetic sob.

Exasperated, he bellows, “STOP!! You want to play!?”

Following a few minutes of spectacular, if hardly convincing violence, the frame runs to leader-tape, then blackness. A whisper punctuates the void: “Shit, shit… we ran out of film.”

Another voice whispers: “Did you get it — did you get it all?”

“Yeah, we got it all.”

“Let’s get outta here.”

The sound of breathing. Ends.
 

 
The movie did not premiere with any of its stars in attendance (after all, they were supposed to be dead), nor did it boast any local luminaries. Not many people attended the premiere at all. Sixteen people in total turned out for the first evening show at 6pm. A uniformed security guard was on hand to make sure no one below the age of eighteen was admitted.

Ticket price notwithstanding, Monarch stuck to their original campaign and public awareness of the movie increased. By the time Snuff left Indianapolis it was already picking up momentum. More than 300 people attended the film’s opening night at the Orpheum Theater in Wichita, Kansas, on January 30. Many of those in attendance were “laughing instead of moaning”, reported a theater spokesman. Shackleton was driving the print of the film in his car from one engagement to another on its route to New York, ballyhooing it at every turn. Having traveled from Cincinnati to St Paul, he witnessed people being turned away from the box office of the Strand Theater on the day of its St Paul premiere, February 20. Pickets and adverse press weren’t only conspiring to stop him in this instance: The theater itself had been closed down by police the day before the scheduled screening, pending a matter of theater licensing. The resourceful Shackleton simply packed Snuff back into his trunk and drove across the river to Minneapolis, where it played an impromptu engagement at the American Theater, fittingly an X-rated movie house, complete with ads proclaiming its ‘ban’ in St Paul.
 

The trailer—not really all that safe for work—for Shackleton’s ‘Snuff’
 
The Adult Film Association of America was not happy with Snuff. Not surprising really. Formed in 1969 to protect the interests of those involved in the production, distribution and exhibition of adult motion pictures, the AFAA fought against negative representation, which included among other things child exploitation and rumours of so-called snuff films. Shackleton, hitherto a member of the AFAA, was unceremoniously kicked out of the organization because of Snuff.

Aware that it was all a gimmick and that no one was actually killed in Snuff, the AFAA nevertheless took pains to distance itself from the film. It was the sort of attention they didn’t need. President Vince Miranda, owner of the Pussycat Theater chain, announced that AFAA member theaters would not be screening it. But by and large, Snuff circumvented adult theaters anyway and played the regular houses. The AFAA unwittingly played into Shackleton’s hands when its members joined picket lines on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles. “We called a press conference to say the film was a phoney,” recalled AFAA chairman David Friedman, “and that we were proud to say we would not show it.” But the AFAA were not the only group protesting Snuff. Women’s groups were also up in arms.

The absurdity of a theatrical motion picture that dabbled in actual murder (of a crew member, no less) was lost on some; likewise, that such a movie, supposedly having been ‘smuggled’ into the country, should turn up in New York City and openly promote itself on Times Square and around the country. It didn’t matter because lobby groups still protested against it, media still arrived to document the protestations, and officials continued to look into the matter.

But the protests outside the National Theater, which included the presence of ‘high profile’ FBI agents, didn’t stop the movie grossing over $300,000 during its first eight weeks and it certainly didn’t halt the publicity, which shifted into gears possibly beyond the expectation of even Allan Shackleton. Snuff was a rampaging publicity monster.

Killing for Culture available now in special edition—out in paperback next year. And below you can check out the official new Killing For Culture documentary, The Death Illusion: Murder, Cinema & the Myth of Snuff, directed by David Hinds and written and narrated by occasional Dangerous Mind Thomas McGrath.

Posted by Thomas McGrath | Discussion
Sex, Politics and Religion: The making of Ken Russell’s ‘The Devils’

0devilrussel0.jpg
 
The great film director Ken Russell once remarked that if he had been born in Italy and called, say, “Russellini” then critics would have thrown bouquets at his feet. He was correct as Russell’s worst critics were generally slow-witted, myopic beasts, lacking in imagination and untrustworthy in their judgement.

Take for example the critic Alexander Walker who once dismissed Russell’s masterpiece The Devils as:

...the masturbatory fantasies of a Roman Catholic boyhood.

Walker was being petty and spiteful. He was also badly misinformed. Russell was not born a Catholic, he became one in his twenties and was lapsed by the time he made The Devils. More damningly, if Walker had taken a moment to make himself cognisant with Russell’s source material—a successful West End play by John Whiting commissioned by Sir Peter Hall for the Royal Shakespeare Company or its precursor the non-fiction book The Devils of Loudon by Aldous Huxley—then he would have realised Russell’s film was based on historical fact and his so-called excesses were very tame compared to the recorded events. However, Walker’s waspish comments became his claim to fame—especially after he was royally slapped by Russell with a rolled-up copy of his review on a TV chat show in 1971—Russell later said he wished it had been an iron bar rather than a newspaper.
 
0kenolliered.jpg
Oliver Reed as Grandier and Vanessa Redgrave as Sister Jeanne rehearse under the watchful eye of Ken Russell.
 
The Devils is the story of a priest named Urbain Grandier and his battle against the ambitions of Church and State to eradicate the independence of the French town of Loudon. In a bid to have this troublesome priest silenced, Grandier was tried for sorcery after a confession was brutally extracted from a nun, Sister Jeanne, who claimed he was an emissary of the Devil. Grandier was acquitted of all charges but a second show trial found him guilty and he was tortured and burnt at the stake. Russell described Grandier’s case as “the first well-documented political trial in history.”

There were others, of course, going back to Christ, but this had a particularly modern ring to it which appealed to me. He was also like many of my heroic characters…great despite himself. Most of the people in my films are taken by surprise, like [the dancer] Isadora Duncan and [the composer] Delius. They’re out of step with their times and their society, but nevertheless manage to produce rather extraordinary changes in attitude and events. This was exactly Grandier’s situation. He was a minor priest who was used as a fall guy in a political conflict, who lost his life and his battle but won the war.

After that they [the Church and State] couldn’t go on doing what they were doing in quite the same way, and around that time [1634] the Church did begin to lose its power. Twenty years later no one could have been burned as a witch in France. The people of Loudon realised too late that this man they knew so well simply couldn’t have been guilty of the things he was charged with, and if they hadn’t been so bemused by the naked nun sideshow that was going on and the business and prosperity it brought to the town, they’d have realised it sooner. So the fall guy achieved as much in the end as if he had been a saint. And to me that’s just what he is.

Though Russell was on a high after his international success with the Oscar-winning Women in Love (1969) starring Glenda Jackson, Alan Bates, Oliver Reed and Jennie Linden, and The Music Lovers (1970) a flamboyant biopic on the life of Tchaikovsky with Richard Chamberlain and Glenda Jackson, he had found it difficult to find a backer for The Devils. Original producers United Artists pulled out, leaving Russell “out on a limb: having written a script and commissioned set designs from Derek Jarman and costume designs from Shirley Russell.

It would have been a disaster to scrap all that work. Bob Solo, the producer, who had spent years getting the rights to Huxley’s book and Whiting’s play started looking around for another backer, but it took four months of offering the package before Warner Brothers agreed to have a go.

Russell’s script was considered too long and cuts were made. He had originally made Sister Jeanne the focus of his story, following the nun through her involvement in Grandier’s execution to her career as a star:

I suppose it’s the film that turned out most like I wanted it to, though I would have liked to carry the story further to show what happened to [Cardinal] Richelieu and Sister Jeanne. At the end de Laubardemont says “You’re stuck in this convent for life”, but as soon as he’d gone Jeanne set about getting out because her brief moment of notoriety had whetted her appetite for more. So she gouged a couple of holes in her hands and pretended she had the stigmata, saw ‘visions’ and, with the help of Sister Agnes, gulled some old priest into thinking she was the greatest lady since the Virgin Mary.

So she and Agnes went on a jaunt all over France and were hailed with as much fervour as show biz personalities and pop stars are received today. In Paris 30,000 people assembled outside of her hotel just in the chance of getting a glimpse of her. She became very friendly with Richelieu, the King and Queen wined and dined her, she had a grand old time. When she died—I particularly wanted to include this scene—they cut off her head and put it in a glass casket and stuck it on the altar in her own convent. People came on their knees from miles around to pay her homage.

 
More from Ken Russell and ‘The Devils’ including special documentary, photospread and Oliver Reed interview, after the jump…
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
Roky Erickson’s isolated vocals for ‘You’re Gonna Miss Me’ are crazier than a bag full of snakes
11.30.2015
08:38 am

Topics:
Music
Punk

Tags:
Roky Erickson


 
Along with mashups, shreds, goofy gifs, LEGO and crazy things Christians do, the isolated vocal meme has pretty much worn out its welcome at the unabashedly hip Dangerous Minds. Even the word “meme” is dead. So we’re busy moving on to the next big thing…whatever that is. Don’t worry, we’ll find it. But in the meantime, humor me.

Roky’s isolated vocal track is from the studio session of “You’re Gonna Miss Me” synced to a clip of The 13th Floor Elevators performing the song on TV’s Where The Action Is in 1966. The vocal track is such a concentration of pure unadulterated rock and roll that I had to share it.

Erickson’s vocals are as primal, soulful and manic as it gets. From the first “yeah” to a series of blood-curdling “ahhhhhs” and yowls of “not coming home,” Erickson sounds like a snake handler who has fallen into a psychedelic briar patch. If moonshine made a noise, this would be it.

In the absence of sound, the head bobs and hand jive of The Where The Action Is dancers (The Action Kids) is some seriously spooky hoodoo - the rocking dead.
 

 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Discussion
Page 1 of 100  1 2 3 >  Last ›