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Down with the Sickness: enter the filthy world of Kurt Dirt
03.26.2013
09:59 am

Topics:
Music
Unorthodox

Tags:
Tranarchy
Industrial music
Kurt Dirt


 
Dangerous Minds, it’s time that introduced you to my good friend, and member of the Tranarchy family, Mr Kurt Dirt. Usually we keep him in the basement so as not to freak out the visitors, but he’s been scratching at the trapdoor lately, so we’ve decided let him loose for a while.

Kurt is a bit of a sick puppy. After years of gigging on the live circuit, Kurt decided to pack all the “band” nonsense in and go it alone (though he still puts on one mean live show, featuring bare back gorillas, dancing demons and women in cages.) He makes music that sounds like vintage late 80s/early 90s Wax Trax, and cites Fad Gadget, Big Black and My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult as his major influences. By some incredible kind of osmosis, though, he somehow manages to take all those influences and make music that’s even MORE camp than the originals, which is surely some kind of magical feat. 

Another one of Kurt Dirt’s major influences is the soundtrack to Tetsuo, and on the topic of films soundtracks, Mr Dirt has just finished scoring the upcoming Troma release Return To Nuke ‘Em High and is about to start work on the score for the sequel. Kurt Dirt and Troma films is a match made in heaven (or, rather, the deepest bowels of hell.)

That Troma influence is loud and clear in his new video, “Love Sick”. Taken from his debut solo release, the Rat Burger EP, this clip takes the viewer into a disgusting nether land of licking used diapers and literally fucking skulls. Yep, it’s pretty sick, all the more for the authentic, scratchy, video look. Kurt says:

I just wanted to make the most horrible thing I could really, something that makes you feel like you shouldn’t be watching it. I choose to shoot it on 8mm video8 handy cam so that it would have worn down, tenth generation look of a video nasty era VHS movie. You see horror movies these days like saw etc that are 1000 times more graphic but they just feel way too clean, like your watching an MTV video. Visually I’d say we ripped off Hershell Gordon Lewis, Troma, Tobe Hooper and Harmonie Korine the most.

Kurt Dirt “Love Sick” (NSFW)
 

 
You can buy “Love Sick” (and the Rat Burger EP) and get more info on Kurt Dirt at KurtDirt.net.


BONUS!

After the jump, two more Kurt Dirt videos from Rat Burger, “I’m Filth” and “Beat Me Up Buttercup”...

Posted by Niall O'Conghaile | Discussion
Pervy Pygmalion: Radley Metzger’s ‘The Opening of Misty Beethoven’

New cover art for Misty Beethoven
 
If there is one word that is often synonymous with the work of Radley Metzger, it is, without a doubt, classy. Whether it is his softcore films of the 1960’s, including such classics as The Lickerish Quartet and Camille 2000, or his adult work under the non de plume Henry Paris, Metzger’s art is the champagne of erotic cinema. Champagne is just the term too, since it goes perfectly with Distribpix’s Rolls Royce of a release for Metzger’s most famous explicit work, 1976’s The Opening of Misty Beethoven.

Using George Bernard Shaw’s play, Pygmalion as a loose framework for the story, The Opening of Misty Beethoven is one of Metzger’s lightest films. Our titular heroine, Misty Beethoven (Constance Money), is a hooker working in the City of Lights itself, Paris. Don’t be fooled by the continental decadence, since when we first meet her, she’s bedecked in a bad wig, worse make-up and a tee-shirt slapped with assorted credit card logos. On top of the questionable fashion choices, there’s the fact that Misty is just not very good at her career of choice. While limiting yourself to giving hand jobs to old men dressed up as Napoleon does have a certain old world charm, it is not going to get you far in life.

It is when she, by the sheer touch of kismet, crosses paths with Dr. Seymore Love (the inimitable Jamie Gillis) one night in a porn theater, that her life is forever changed. Along for the ride is Love’s old colleague Geraldine (Jacqueline Beaudant), whom he encounters in a dingy brothel. In Misty, Love sees a delicious challenge. The goal? To take this seemingly passionless woman and transform her into the “Goldenrod Girl,” which is the crowning achievement for all that is female seductiveness and heat. Geraldine’s dubious but game for the experience and is enlisted as one of Love’s guides of sorts.

Along the way, we get a series of cute training sessions, with Misty, her hair pulled back and wearing a jogging suit, training like a champ. Yet, instead of running up stairs, it’s more recumbent bikes, candy colored phallus training and live action demonstrations. She’s slow at first, but soon gets her figurative feet wet when she seduces a homosexual art dealer (played by Casey Donovan, whom also starred in the gay adult ground breaker, Wakefield Poole’s Boys In the Sand, as well as Metzger’s own Score). This starts the wheel spinning for Misty, culminating at famed publisher,Lawrence Lehman’s (Ras Kean) decadent, jet set party. It’s there that Misty not only seduces Lawrence, but his sexy raven-haired wife, Barbara (Gloria Leonard), too, all for the rapt gaze of Lehman’s guests. Misty gets crowned the Goldenrod Girl, but there is a bittersweet tinge, when she overhears Seymour and Geraldine snickering.

It’s true that absence makes the heart grow fonder, which is exactly what happens with Seymour and his protege. There’s a playful twist to the original Shaw work that is a fitting ending to one polished gem of a film.

Terri Hall & Jamie Gillis in Radley Metzger's
 
At the height of the porno chic wave in the 1970’s, there were two films that should have successfully bridged the genre of erotica into the realm of mainstream cineaste acceptance. The first being Gerard Damiano’s 1973 The Devil in Miss Jones and the second being The Opening of Misty Beethoven. The former truly broke ground and paved the way for Misty Beethoven to be highly regarded, not just by the Adult industry but by major critics like Roger Ebert.

Metzger’s work, more so than any other filmmaker of erotica, save maybe Candida Royalle years later, has often been considered to be “couples friendly.” While that kind of categorization depends on the individual couple, given Metzger’s sophisticated eye and touch, the attractive cast, the international locales and characters that are often treated with a semblance of respect, it makes sense. This is doubly so with Misty Beethoven, which is a light pastry of a film, especially compared to some of Metzger’s weightier past efforts, like The Imageand The Lickerish Quartet. Lacking the darker elements that tended to be a hallmark of a lot of the quality adult cinema being made, Misty is more like a delicious, saucy cocktail that is sweet enough to be alluring, strong enough to be heady but not so strong to be threatening.

The cast is top notch, featuring a typically strong performance from the dark prince himself, Jamie Gillis, as the Henry Higgins-esque Seymour Love. Here, Gillis gets to shine bright as the handsome, erudite Professor. He brings a breezy sophisticated charm, lacking some of the violent sleaze that became synonymous with his other roles. Love or hate him, there will never another like Jamie. Jacqueline Beudant, in her only role, is very earthy as the worldly and world-traveled Geraldine. Rounding out the main cast is Constance Money, as the titular Misty Beethoven. Money, whose work prior to Misty, amounted to a couple of loops and the 1975 film, Confessions of a Teenage Peanut Butter Freak, Money is initially not given a whole lot to do, with her character being more of a blank slate. Misty in the beginning has all of the lusty warmth of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, but gradually grows more passionate and comfortable with herself. Money not only conveys this but also displays hints at some good comedic timing. It’s too bad that she only ended up doing a tiny handful of films before retiring in the early 1980’s, because she definitely had the right mix to transcend the cult star status that she has to this day.

One star that emerged just as bright and in fact, even bigger than Money was Gloria Leonard. Any ill informed individual who assumes that women who acted in adult films back then were either victims or bimbos would have their ignorance demolished, if not flat out incinerated by Leonard. In addition to being one of the first notable older women in erotica, she has a background that includes copy writing for a then burgeoning Elektra records, working on Wall Street and serving as publisher for 14 years of High Society magazine. Even better, she is currently a chartered member of the non-profit group, Feminists for Free Expression. This is a whole lot of detail to illustrate the simple fact that Gloria Leonard is an inspirational badass.

Making a suitable companion to the glamorous Leonard is the enigmatic Ras Kean, as the ridiculously handsome and devil-may-care catalyst for Misty’s Goldenrod Girl status. Misty also has some notable actors in smaller roles, including the brilliant Michael Gaunt, who was so incredible in Roger Watkins American Babylon years later, as an escort of Geraldine’s. In a very small, non-sex role is character actor Mark Margolis, who has gone on to act in everything from 1977’s prison film Short Eyes all the way to TV’s American Horror Story.

One trademark of Radley Metzger’s work is how impeccable his films look. It’s not just the attractive cast, international locations and great set design, though all of them have these qualities in spades. But in addition to all of that, there is the cinematography, which is exquisite. When you can make something as wrinkly and awkward as a scrotum look lovely and refined, then you have more that done your job. All low-hangers talk aside, every frame in this film looks like art and really, it is. Not enough kudos can be heaped onto Paul Glickman, whose terrific work as a cinematographer can also be seen in Metzger’s equally lush looking Private Afternoons of Pamela Mann, as well as the Dennis Hopper character study, Tracks.

Speaking of kudos, Distribpix have done another stellar job, giving The Opening of Misty Beethoven every ounce of the love, respect and attention to detail it deserves. The restoration work that went into this transfer is beyond perfect, not to mention the cornucopia of extras, including the highly informative director’s commentary, with the man himself, as well as a separate one for the “cool” aka cable TV ready version of the film with Gloria Leonard. On top of that, there’s trailers, ephemera, a wonderful making of documentary and much more. This release is swanky in all the right places.

The Opening of Misty Beethoven
is one fun, light-as-meringue film. While it may lack the plot and character layer that other Metzger films possess, it more than makes up for it with an old world charm, a new world sense of freedom and a polish to be envied.

 

Posted by Heather Drain | Discussion
Family Portrait: Film-maker Peter Bogdanovich talks about his Father’s paintings, 1979

hcivonadgobretepvalsirob.jpg
 
Film director, writer and actor, Peter Bogdanovich gave critic Michael Billington a brief introduction to his father, Borislav Bogdanovich’s art work in this short clip from 1979.

Born in 1899, Borislav Bogdanovitch was a Serbian Post Impressionist / Modernist artist, who was one of Belgrade’s leading artists, and exhibited alongside Jean Renoir and Marc Chagall. Prior to the outbreak of the Second World War, Borislav relocated with his family to New York, where he continued to work, though less successfully, until his death in 1970.

Before his death, Borislav saw Peter’s first major movie—the modern urban horror, Targets:

‘I don’t think he said more than 4 or 5 words about it, but he had obviously been very moved by the experience. It was a heavy movie, it was a tough movie, and it wasn’t very pretty about life in Los Angeles, or America, and he felt it was a tragic picture. I could see it on his his face what he thought about it—he didn’t have to say much.’

The film, which starred Boris Karloff, marked the arrival of Peter Bogdanovich as a highly original and talented film-maker, who was exceptional enough to direct, co-write and occasionally produce films as diverse as the superb The Last Picture Show; the wonderful screwball comedy What’s Up Doc? with Barbra Streisand and Ryan O’Neal; to the excellent Ryan and Tatum O’Neal comedy/drama Paper Moon; and the the greatly under-rated (and hardly seen on its release) Saint Jack with Ben Gazzara.

But Bogdanovich is magnanimous in his praise for others (see his books on Orson Welles and John Ford) and claims, at the start of this interview, that it was his father who was a considerable influence on developing his film-making skills:

‘I think it is unquestionably true that whatever I did learn, in terms of composition, or color, or the visual aspect of movies, I certainly learned from my father through osmosis—it wasn’t anything he sat down and taught me. The thing that my father was extraordinary, he had this way of influencing people—getting things across without saying, “This is what I am trying to teach you.” It wasn’t like that at all. My father wasn’t didactic in anyway, he was casual.’

From being one of the most interesting and original film-makers of his generation, Peter Bogdanovich has rarely had the opportunity to make the quality of films he is more than capable of producing. Last year, in response to the Aurora shootings, Bogdanovich wrote an article for the Hollywood Reporter in which he lamented the loss of humanity in films:

‘Today, there’s a general numbing of the audience. There’s too much murder and killing. You make people insensitive by showing it all the time. The body count in pictures is huge. It numbs the audience into thinking it’s not so terrible. Back in the ’70s, I asked Orson Welles what he thought was happening to pictures, and he said, “We’re brutalizing the audience. We’re going to end up like the Roman circus, live at the Coliseum.” The respect for human life seems to be eroding.’

 

 
With thanks to NellyM
 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
Who’s (still) Afraid of the Big, Bad Republicans?


 
My wife recently asked me: “So why aren’t you writing any more of your political screeds for the blog lately?”

Some readers have written in and asked the same thing: When did I stop hating on Republicans, anyways?

I promise you I haven’t, but generally speaking, I get pretty burnt out on politics after an election year. This time, though, I think it goes deeper than that. The main reason I think I care less about politics today than I did only five months ago is that for years I’ve long expected to see a steep decline in the size of the GOP’s voter base and the party’s influence and I think that’s now pretty much a fait accompli. We’ve seen it happen. 2012 was the very last year that the Republicans still had a decent shot at getting in on a national level and cementing the rules of, ahem, “democracy” to favor themselves—but as we all know, that didn’t happen.

I certainly think there were very valid reasons for fearing the rise of the far right—the brief Tea party moment was admittedly not something that I saw coming—but I’m not feeling that so much anymore.

The Tea party foolishness, Glenn Beck, the birthers and the rapid rise and fall of Sarah Palin can already be seen in the rear-view mirror as the frenzied flailing of a dying elephant. By 2016, a pretty good chunk of the Grand Old Party’s aging baby boomer base will have at least one foot in the grave and by 2020 and 2024, well, forget about it.
 

 
In the very near future, America will be truly unrecognizable to itself, and this will be especially hard on the folks who don’t even live in the present to begin with. Progress cannot be stopped. Entropy is simply not possible in a country this big and with such a radically changing demographic makeup, no matter how certain personality types—low IQ authoritarians, xenophobes, racists, religious busybodies, I’m talking about the GOP base, here, of course—try to force it on everyone else.

I’m just so over it. Aren’t you?

The dam has burst on a lot of issues: immigration reform, LGBT civil rights, cannabis laws, healthcare, and the water is rushing past the reichwingers and they just got drenched.

This is not to say that I’m not still amused by soaking wet Republicans, it’s just that the 2012 election showed, I think definitively, the hard and fast limits to their influence and that the national brand is truly a spent force, one perhaps best left behind as a relic of another era (like plaid golf pants, Brylcreem, Lawrence Welk… or Jim Crow laws).

To my mind, it all looks pretty downhill from here on out for the Republican Party. Any argument that posits a resurgent national GOP moving forward is an argument made by someone who apparently still thinks that the most recent US Census was just a big ole fat gubmint LIE and who probably voted for Michele Bachmann in the Iowa Caucus.
 

 
There simply aren’t enough of them anymore. That’s a demographic fact, Jack. Don’t believe me? Go argue with reality, I don’t care what you think. Get real: The so-called “two party system” is not some immutable law of American political physics that needs to carry on without end, especially not when one of the parties has opted to radically remake itself, taking on the classic features of an extremist fringe group.

Some Republicans kinda got the “voter revulsion” message, but not really. When Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus presented the 97-page report of the RNC’s “Growth and Opportunity Project,” a post-mortem on the GOP’s 2012 losses at the National Press Club on Monday, he said:

“When Republicans lost in November, it was a wake-up call. And in response I initiated the most public and most comprehensive post-election review in the history of any national party. As it makes clear, there’s no one reason we lost. Our message was weak; our ground game was insufficient; we weren’t inclusive; we were behind in both data and digital; our primary and debate process needed improvement.”

In short, a sizable majority of the American electorate thinks the Republicans suck eggs and their own internal polling backs that up to the extent that they don’t even try to spin it anymore! (Something remarkable in and of itself).

The report is actually pretty brutal, acknowledging that women, gays, Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, college-educated Caucasians and the mainstream media basically hate Republicans. These, er, “special interest groups” are, for all intents and purposes, immune to the GOP’s charms. They’re not going to just suddenly jump on the Republican train for any reason, this much seems assured.

Not to mention:

“Young voters are increasingly rolling their eyes at what the Party represents…”

Yeah, the young people. They simply aren’t that into inheriting a country with insane wealth inequality, the 1% elite owning half of everything and keeping the productive capital within their own families, tainted meat, bad air and undrinkable water. Try rounding up an electoral majority when women, gays, Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, college-educated Caucasians and young people of all races think you’re shit!.

‘Nuff said, eh GOP?
 

 

“We sound increasingly out of touch.”

That’s putting it mildly. The GOP talk about minority outreach, and then they introduce voter ID bills in their statehouses! It’s even a matter of Republicans appearing not to be able to differentiate fiction from reality anymore, let alone shit from shinola.

I mean, they’re exactly what Bobby Jindal said they—and by extension he, himself—are: “the stupid party.” Many Americans simply perceive the GOP as being closely synonymous with idiocy and they have no trouble articulating this to the GOP’s own pollsters. And like, this somehow appears to be NEWS to them! The stench of stupid is so thick on the modern Republican party brand that it’s going to be a really difficult odor to wash off.

Hands up, who wants to be a member of the stupid party? How about you?
 

 

“At our core, Republicans have comfortably remained the Party of Reagan without figuring out what comes next. Ronald Reagan is a Republican hero and role model who was first elected 33 years ago—meaning no one under the age of 51 today was old enough to vote for Reagan when he first ran for President.”

OUCH, OUCH AND DOUBLE OUCH! A knife thrust deep into the Republican heart! Why it’s conservative treason… even if it’s true!

They’ve had no new ideas since the Reagan era, either. Since before most people owned a personal computer. Since there were just three TV networks and PBS for most of America! Why would the smartest, most capable young conservatives of the up and coming generation want to make a career investment in the GOP instead of someplace… you know, not so dumb? How will the party attract talent?
 

 
And furthermore, how will the party raise money when they’ve proven to be such a shitty investment for their deep-pockets donors. Even the Koch brothers seem to be turning their back on the GOP. Who could blame them, they’re ruthless businessmen? They know the score. The ROI the GOP offer blows. Expect them to act accordingly. If Rand Paul would bolt the party for the Libertarians (as his father once did) the Kochs would be right there behind him.

“If Hispanics think we do not want them here, they will close their ears to our policies.”

Hahahaha. No shit. Well, then someone had better essplain that to the loudmouthed lamebrain from Texas, Rep. Louie “anchor babies” Gohmert, who insists that the GOP must never give into immigration reform because “they” will never vote for Republicans if offered a pathway to citizenship. It’s a “trap” Democrats have laid for the GOP, in Gohmert’s eyes.

Look, Louie Gohmert’s a fucking idiot, that’s glaringly obvious to everyone but him and his fellow idiots, but if you think about it, he’s actually quite right in this instance. It’s a real damned if they do, damned if they don’t sort of situation these Republicans have put themselves in regarding immigration reform, isn’t it? But they’ve insisted upon it, the Democrats didn’t trap them with anything. This is a giving them an awful lot of credit for what amounts to a Catch 22 that’s been hatching under their noses and in their own districts, literally for DECADES, don’tcha think?
 

 
As New York’s Jonathan Chait wrote about the RNC’s seemingly intractable woes:

The report determinedly avoids confronting the party’s most fundamental problem: Its attachment to an economic agenda that most voters correctly identify as serving the needs of a wealthy minority. Rather than confront the problem, the report is a detailed and generally shrewd plan for working around.

Yup. Tuesday on MSNBC, RNC chair Reince Priebus told Luke Russert that the party’s platform on gay marriage has not changed despite efforts to make the party appear more inclusive:

“I know our party believes marriage is between one man and one woman.”

That’s some “effort,” Reince (if that is, in fact, your real name).
 

Paul Ryan, the GOP’s pathetic idea of an intellectual…

Obviously there’s a gigantic problem with this entire RNC re-branding enterprise: It’s dead on arrival and anyone with a brain capable of critical thought on the level of, say, a peanut, can see the fatal flaw that’s got a flashing neon sign and a bunch of old coots in Revolutionary War uniforms pointing their replica muskets right at it. Republican voters, especially the ones who never went to college, the cranky old farts who are to varying degrees racist, close-minded Christianists, anti-immigrant homophobes and just angry, disapproving people, en générale, will have none of this shit!

And these troglodytes make up about half the party’s registration rolls and everyone knows it. Good luck with the fucking rebranding, boys.
 

 
Writing about the RNC autopsy at the NY Times, Thomas B. Edsall had this to say:

The highly visible presence of the candidates these voters prefer – recall the party’s Senate nominees in Missouri and Indiana, Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock, and their bizarre views on rape and abortion — suggests that the Republican Party has a severe, if not toxic, problem: a septic electorate that, in the words of the Mayo Clinic, “can trigger a cascade of changes that can damage multiple organ systems, causing them to fail.”

But let’s leave these trifling inconveniences aside for now, shall we? Suffice to say, there’s a major split occurring in the GOP that’s going to seriously impact their ability to ever get back to a place of national influence. This was already obvious at the start of the primary season. As a national party, they’re no-hopers within a decade, splintering into factions (Tea party and social conservatives, RNC establishment and the wealthy elites, “Ron/Rand Paul Libertarians,” etc) and facing an increasingly insurmountable demographic irrelevancy that will grow by leaps and bounds every four years.
 

 
I don’t think the Republicans can do that much—or at least as much—damage to the country moving forward. It’s clear that there are (at least) two factions of the party who are locked in a civil war. The endgame of everyone taking their toys and going home seems like a forgone conclusion. They’re just not going to be able to work together anymore. You’ve got the wealthy elites who would like the game to stay rigged vs. the Rick Santorum “stupid” folks. They desperately need one another to add up to a nationally viable party. Divided they don’t really amount to much anymore.

They’ve been humbled, their electoral impotency was on full display for the entire country to see on election night.

Furthermore. there are boundaries now that they know they can’t cross. Those boundaries weren’t there before, but they are now. Public opinion can be employed much easier as a prophylactic against the worst Republican power grabs (like this talk of changing Electoral College rules, something that everyone is already wise to). Of course, I’m not suggesting completely ignoring what the GOP gets up to—I’m not usually someone to underestimate the power of stupid people in a group—but their best days are behind them, and I think that’s a pretty uncontroversial thing to say at this point, without any caveats coming readily to mind.
 

 
I’m noticing that this attitude is increasingly, and I think correctly, becoming the default position of the mainstream media, that the uh… I guess threat of low IQ authoritarian Republicanism has diminished considerably. Bill Maher touched on this topic on his Real Time program on HBO last week when he mocked Christian bluenose group One Million Moms (the churchladies who protest the Skittles and Geico commercials for promoting bestiality) who have not one million Twitter followers, but fewer than 3000.

When Bill Maher is brushing off silly reichwingers as a source of comedy, like a canary flying out of a coalmine, hey, he’s probably onto something: They’re a joke.

It’s a pretty steep fall from Andrew Breitbart to Ben Shapiro to put it a different way.

The 2012 election was a real “man behind the curtain” moment for the Grand OLD Party and its increasingly tenuous relationship to modern America and the up and coming generation. The slow, agonizing death of the Republican Party seems all but certain, done in by hubris, idiocy, greed, hypocrisy, terrible ideas, loathsome shit-for-brains politicians, moronic uninformed voters, Fox News, Rush Limbaugh, the list can go on and on and on. They suck, but fuck ‘em, they’re not really worth nearly as much energy being expended in their direction.

Maybe it’s simply time to push past them and leave these nitwits behind to play in their sandbox of stupidity. The zeitgeist is not with the Republican Party and I think the big story of American politics in 2013 is that most people are starting to realize this.
 

 
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
The nightmare (free market) scenario the GOP faces: THEY’RE A VERY BAD INVESTMENT

The Republicans are way, way, more screwed than they thought!

Republican explains to other Republicans why the GOP is so totally fucked

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
Wound of Exit: ‘1334,’ the Follow Up to Nico B. & Rozz Williams’ ‘Pig’

1334: Rozz & Nico in the Painting
 
1334 is, by its very nature, a wholly unique creature. Like a black pearl born out of the twins of experimental cinema and the exorcising of personal demons, 1334 is less of a sequel and more of an obtuse follow-up to 1998’s Pig. Both were helmed by Dutch filmmaker and Cult Epics founder, Nico B. Both films also featured the late Rozz Williams, though in some unique ways. Pig was a collaboration with Rozz, who created the music, artwork, parts of the story and played the Killer. 1334 is a work created from the aftermath of his death and both the literal and dramatic imprint it left for B. Further tying the two together is the incorporation of Williams’ brilliant collage art, often in the form of the Killer’s textbook, Why God Permits Evil, as well as some of his strikingly disturbing sonic ambient work too.

It is extremely fitting that the first shot is a male hand closing Why God Permits Evil, ending what was opened in Pig. Rozz’s quote, “All truth is parallel, therefore, all truth is untrue.” appears on screen. Which is brilliant, especially in this case, since while so many fact-based films are presented so pristinely and perfectly dramatic, as if real life ever functions like that. Memories and events, for most of us, tend to become more fragmented and dreamlike over time. So to craft a film like this that is so stark yet darkly ethereal in parts, is a bold and needed move.

The tarot card for “The Hanged Man” appears, giving instant foreshadowing as we see the Rozz figure (Bill Oberst Jr.), shirtless and wearing a mask of a wretched looking old man with a gunshot wound to the temple, Kennedy-style. There is vintage footage of Rozz’s actual apartment shot before he died, seamlessly blended in with the new footage, featuring an old desk with a typewriter, a fetal-looking stuffed pig, a black bird and a large Nazi flag. He hangs himself and his body becomes slightly transparent, perhaps indicating him dying and crossing into the next plane. As the act is done, a dark-haired man (Dante White-Aliano) tries to call.

The next tarot card appears, “Le Maison Diev” or The Tower. The music grows even more high strung, as the young man showers. His lover, the first of the number of lovely raven haired women, sleeps, her pregnant belly exposed. The phone rings and the news of suicide is broken. He falls down from shock and grief, as his partner starts to weep. This whole sequence is shot in dreamy, Maya Deren-esque b&w, in contrast to the more gritty look of the scenes with Rozz. It’s only fitting that the next shot, a naked baby crying in the grass, looks more like the grittier scenes.

What exactly does the crying baby mean? Is it a metaphor for how the man feels? Is is something more literal? Especially given that after this scene, there is no mention of the baby again. But that is the beauty of the nature of 1334. If all works of art came with automatic cliff notes, then where’s the fun in that? The decision is always subjective.

The man gets into a heated argument with his lover, now no longer pregnant. Things start to get pretty physical, with the screen suddenly solarized, as a black mist starts to flood through the background. The screen goes back to normal and his girlfriend/attacker has fangs. The sound and sight of sirens start to come through and the domestic disturbance lands her behind bars.

Another tarot card appears, “La Roue de Fortune.” The Wheel of Fortune. The young man, bedecked in suit and tie, sits on a couch while a different woman speaks to him, sitting across at a table. Her voice can be heard, but not necessarily her words, as she sounds distorted. Her face, though, is kind. The film stock gets scratchy again as a faceless man drives around the countryside, invoking strong shades of Pig.

The tarot card of “Death” appears. The young man sits with a woman on a couch. As they talk, the black mist from earlier reappears every time the screen is solorized. They retire to bed, where the woman ends up being strangled by an unseen force while the man struggles like he paralyzed. When the attack lets up, there are marks around her neck.

The young man walks to the bathroom and picks up a straight razor, cutting his own neck. Bleeding, he enters a trance-like state where he meets the Rozz figure, clad head to toe in black Plague doctor garb. With his arms outstretched, he takes the young man into a living version of Flemish painter Peter Bruegel’s work, “Triumph of Death.” The moving landscape of apocalypse and death is inescapable as the Rozz figure is wide-eyed and unblinking, while the young man looks wan and burdened. The final shot ends the 17-minute long film on a powerful, grim note.

1334 is part of a very under-looked type of non-fiction film. It eschews traditional, linear storytelling for a more surreal and at its core, pure approach. Instead of breaking things down by ABC’s, we get a more emotionally honest portrait of what this filmmaker has gone through. Sometimes, the hardest but more rewarding approach is just this, yet so few have done this. Other than Klaus Kinski’s controversial and brilliant Paganini and some of the biographical works of Ken Russell, it is hard to think of such a similar cinematic creature.

One thing of note, like Pig before it, is the fantastic score, thanks to both the archives of Rozz Williams as well as some additional contributions from Dante White-Aliano. It’s appropriately creepy, full of tension and sadness. 1334 is an incredibly brave film in a much different way than its predecessor. In some ways, one can’t help but get the feeling that while Pig dealt with indulging some demons, 1334 is more about exorcising others. Death can be hardest for the living, especially since we are the ones dealing with the aftermath.

Cult Epics has done another prime job, with putting both Pig, which had been severely out of print for years, and 1334 on both Blu Ray and DVD. What this release may lack in extras, it more than makes up for with presentation, from the detailed booklet that includes photos of the script and assorted notes, to the slipcover featuring the cover of Why God Permits Evil in gorgeous color. The cover for the actual disk will definitely look familiar to any fans of Williams’ band Premature Ejaculation, since it is very similar to the art used on their posthumous release, Wound of Exit.

1334 is a beautiful, haunted work that will ruin any preconceptions you may have going into it. This is a very good thing.

Posted by Heather Drain | Discussion
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