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The Damned: Don’t You Wish That We Were Dead
11:58 am


The Damned

Like rings in a tree, you can age me by the rock and roll songs that have embedded themselves in my brain and body. My musical dendrochronology begins somewhere in the late 50s with Chuck Berry and radiates outward to include layers of Brit pop, American garage, psychedelia, R&B, punk and substratums of blues, folk and jazz. I measure my life not so much in time but through epiphanies triggered by music, art, sex and drugs – a string of cosmic firecrackers shooting sparks into the ultimate reality of whatever the fuck I’ve become. I’m shaped by the things I love. And I love rock and roll.

In 1977, I was living in Boulder, Colorado. It was the year of Fleetwood Mac’s Rumors and every radio station across the known universe was transmitting that unstoppable, unavoidable ear worm, creating a phonological loop in even the most resistant of hosts. I owned the record. I played it. I liked it. But was it a life-changer? No fucking way. But something epochal, something brain-sizzling and exhilarating was churning in the near distance and heading straight for my very receptive rock n’ roll heart: a burst of punk ferocity called The Damned.

“New Rose” arrived in my life when I was searching to stretch my own art into new shapes. I was a poet who had grown tired of the solitary act of writing. And while I was good enough to be published in some small press magazines, I really wasn’t all that interested in seeing my poems in print. I was far more excited by doing poetry readings. I dug the interplay between me and an audience. Poets say you should write for yourself. I always thought that was bullshit. I wrote to be heard. I wrote to stir things up and topple empires. Poetry, for me, was a revolutionary act and the revolution wasn’t happening in universities or the dusty corners of bookstores. It was happening in bars and on the streets. And suddenly, in the year of ’77, it was starting to happen on the airwaves and in rock clubs.

Bands like The Damned, Patti Smith Group, The Ramones, The Stranglers, Talking Heads, The Clash, Blondie and Television were making music that was subversive, surreal, weird, untamed and unpredictable. It was like the Dadaists or the Beats had picked up guitars and formed rock bands. The gates were flung open and everyone was invited. It was explosive and it changed rock forever. And it changed me. I packed up my Smith Corona and bought a Telecaster.

Wes Orshoski’s The Damned: Don’t You Wish That We Were Dead is the first documentary to explore the tangled history of Britain’s seminal punk band in depth. It’s raw, funny, intimate and at times heartbreakingly sad. Orshoski had total access to the group, both current and past members, and the complex and highly dysfunctional relationships that have driven the founding bandmates into two antagonistic camps is one of the truly sad tales of a rock and roll marriage turned toxic.

The film certainly has its dark side but it is also an exhilarating account of what total commitment to the life of a rocker is all about. The Damned have done it their way since their inception and they’re doing it still. Chock full of live footage from all of the eras of The Damned and wonderfully witty and prickly interviews with Captain Sensible, Rat Scabies and Brian James, among many others, the movie is emotionally intense but it is also sublimely entertaining. Still punker than shit 40 years after they first got together as teenagers, The Damned are the embodiment of an uncompromising spirit that is as admirable as it is exhausting to sustain. While other bands from the class of 77 went on to some fame and fortune, The Damned never really got their due. Time for that to change.

Orshoski did an exceptionally fine job of documenting the life of the Motörhead frontman in Lemmy (2010) and his skill in getting artists to open up and be candid about their lives is particularly evident in the Damned movie. At times the intimacy of the film can almost be too much. When Rat Scabies or Captain Sensible drop their guard, the results can be a potent mix of bitterness, anger and a begrudging kind of love.

The jealousy, resentment and bad business dealings that split the Damned apart is a rupture that if healed could see the band playing together again with all of its original members. Not too many bands you can say that about. There will be no Clash re-union and The Ramones are gone for good. But the Damned still walk among us. Dave Vanian and Captain Sensible currently tour as The Damned. Rat Scabies and Brian James often do live gigs performing Damned songs. But it’s been almost 25 years since the four of them have played together and as long as they’re still all alive, that’s a damn shame.

Dangerous Minds conducted an interview with Wes Orshoski shortly after the Austin premier of The Damned: Don’t You Wish We Were Dead. Orshoski talks about his passion for The Damned, touring with Motorhead, and the struggles involved in making movies with a single video camera and a credit card. It’s clear that despite the complexities and hardships of getting an indie movie made in this day and age, Wes would have it no other way. Punk rock demands punk rock film makers. His no bullshit approach is exactly what The Damned deserves. Fuck the ho-daddies, fuck the poseurs.

After the jump watch some never before released live footage of the Damned and an interview with a guy from El Paso who fooled everyone into thinking he was Dave Vanian. Plus, a terrific review of The Damned’s American debut at CBGB in 1977…

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Lovely and intimate photos of a young Audrey Hepburn long before she was a household name
08:51 am

Pop Culture

Audrey Hepburn

It’s always fun to see photographs of your idols before they were famous. Like these images of the eternally beautiful, graceful, and witty actress/humanitarian, Audrey Hepburn. The photographs start in 1942, eleven years before she shot to stardom for her role in Roman Holiday in 1953. Hepburn was the first actress to receive an Academy Award, a Golden Globe and a BAFTA Award for her performance in that film.

The majority of these images are from Hepburn’s days when she studied ballet in Amsterdam and later in London. By the late 1940s, she performed as a chorus girl in West End musical theatre productions and did some stage acting in London.

Fun fact about Audrey Hepburn that I didn’t know: She was fluent in English, French, Dutch, Italian, Spanish, and German. Impressive.



November 27, 1942


More after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
‘Decline of Western Civilization’ director Penelope Spheeris: ‘I sold out, let’s face it’

In a wonderfully frank interview with Irish broadcaster Tom Dunne, flimmaker Penelope Spheeris, whose triumphant Decline Of Western Civilization documentary trilogy was FINALLY released on DVD this year after decades spent as a prohibitively costly VHS rarity, spoke edifyingly about the schizoid nature of her career, and its trajectory from documentaries about low-life music scenes to Wayne’s World:

I can’t regret doing a goofy movie about heavy metal - and I have to admit it is - but for the most part I have to thank the Lord that I was actually able to make a living after that. I was 45 years old and I was borrowing money from my sister trying to pay the rent. Then I got Wayne’s World and I was a millionaire overnight.

It was totally dramatic. I didn’t know how to handle it. I was some white chick from a trailer park and I was like uh I don’t know what to do with all this money, I still don’t ‘cause in my brain I’m still poor.

I didn’t want to do them, but they started offering me more and more money. They don’t do that now. They get some kid s out of school and pay them nothing. But they were offering me all this money to do The Beverly Hillbillies and The Little Rascals and I thought if I can’t do what I want to do, I might as well make some money. So I did. I sold out. Let’s face it.

It irks me pretty much bottomlessly anymore to see an artist have to be self-deprecating about taking a good gig—is there any other way to sell besides “out?” That tedious ‘90s bullshit Fugzai conversation about remaining indie at all costs seems to have cost a fair few great bands potential paydays, and frankly, I think the hip-hop GET PAID AT ALL COSTS ethos reflects the reality of the artist much more accurately than the whole commie puritan Maximum Rock ‘N’ Roll it’s-unethical-to-make-money-from-your-art trip. Look at Steven Soderbergh—with the fat cash he made from the Ocean’s series of high-budget caper flicks, he has the time, resources, and flexibility to make interesting and provocative work like The Girlfriend Experience and The Knick. Spheeris used her fame to complete her punk doc trilogy, and since nobody actually put a gun to my head and made me watch The Little Rascals, why should I care that someone who made work I respect got a payday for something to which I’m indifferent? Money doesn’t get thrown at an artist every day, and if you’re not hurting anybody, I say when it comes, TAKE IT.

The NewsTalk interview, and more, after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Check out David Cronenberg’s 1967 anti-war comedy-horror student film, ‘From the Drain’
06:41 am


David Cronenberg
student film
From the Drain

It’s difficult to imagine a David Cronenberg film without the surreal violence and body horror, but this 1967 student film is unmistakably his work, even at just 14 minutes and a meager $500 budget. The lack of exposition leaves the exact nature of the characters’ motivation and plot rather vague, but there is a distinctly anti-war vibe, and an unexpected dark humor to the intense subject and ominous setting.

Two men sit and talk in a bathtub, totally clothed—both are presumed to be veterans of an unnamed war. One man is under the impression that they’re in the “Disabled War Veterans’ Recreation Center,” but the facility is clearly a mental institution. In true Cronenbergian resolution, a vine creeps up through the tub drain and strangles one of the men, while the other watches completely unaffected. Like I said, barrel-a-laughs!

Part 2 after the jump…

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Vintage Godzilla posters from around the world are indescribably awesome!
09:27 am



Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla, 1977 (Poland)
We’ve done galleries of amusing or startling movie posters from abroad before, but none of them have ever been quite this focused before, to my knowledge. Godzilla, that most protean of radioactive monsters, has inspired posters that range all over the goddamn map. As is often the case, the Polish posters of the late 1960s and early 1970s are hard to beat for sheer inventiveness and oddity, but the Czechs and the French, not to be short-changed, contribute bizarre wonders as well.

Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla gets a dashing Peter Max treatment, while the creature from Godzilla vs. Gigan is anachronistically, and energetically, pimping his radioactive RSS feed. Meanwhile, the creature on the poster of Son of Godzilla resembles a drunken Wookiee. My favorite might be the Polish poster for Godzilla vs. The Smog Monster, an impressionistic masterpiece with flaming red eyeballs in the monster’s midsection and silhouettes of factories inhabiting his feet.

Godzilla, 1954 (Germany)

Godzilla, King of the Monsters!, 1956 (France)

Godzilla, 1956 (Czechoslovakia)
More international Godzilla posters after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘You’ve been acting like a shit’: The Godard-Truffaut blow-up of 1973
07:01 am


Francois Truffaut
Jean-Luc Godard

The deep friendship and eventual falling out between the two most prominent filmmakers of la nouvelle vague, Jean-Luc Godard and François Truffaut, is fascinating in part because it hits very familiar themes. For one thing, coming 5 years after the student turmoil of 1968, it encapsulates the breakup of the loose Boomer consensus that obtained until the late 1960s—once upon a time, it all seemed so clear…. oppose racism, oppose the Vietnam War…. but eventually the questions became more complicated, and former compatriots found themselves on the opposite sides of important issues.

But there’s more. The Truffaut-Godard feud involved a resolutely experimental and political artist versus one more attuned to human emotions, a radical and a moderate, a so-called sellout eager to influence (curry favor with?) the mass and a self-proclaimed bastion of integrity who could prove his worth primarily by alienating the average viewer, by taking a vow of poverty, as it were. The questions of “selling out,” so central to Boomers, touch on artists as enduring and controversial as Bob Dylan and the Clash. You can see their disagreement everywhere you look. In a way you can see it in something like the political battle between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. You don’t need me to tell you which of those two represents the Truffaut and which the Godard, do you?

Godard and Truffaut met in the late 1940s, before either had reached the age of 20, at one of the many cinema clubs that sprang up in Paris around that time. Both Godard and Truffaut wrote for the influential journal Cahiers du cinéma, for which both started writing around 1952. When they began making movies themselves a few years later, their collaborations were among the most important and influential in cinema history. They co-directed a short movie called A Story of Water in 1958, and Truffaut, of course, wrote Breathless, Godard’s breakthrough hit of 1960.

Over the next decade or two, both Godard and Truffaut had significant successes and became renowned the world over. Godard was always the cooler of the two, but both represented the newest edge of a movement, Truffaut with Les Quatre Cents Coups, Tirez sur le pianiste, and Jules et Jim, while Godard captivated (and sometimes alienated) avant-garde audiences with Vivre sa vie, Deux ou trois choses que je sais d’elle, Week-end, Le Mépris, and Bande à part.

Over time it was becoming increasingly apparent that Godard had cut out some terrain for himself as the experimental true believer, avant-garde cinema’s great last hope, while Truffaut’s need to confront his audiences with harsh truths, if it ever existed, seemed to evaporate. Truffaut’s decision to make a regular English-language feature (Fahrenheit 451) and to continue his Antoine Doinel series with Jean-Pierre Léaud from Les Quatre Cents Coups seemed to Godard increasingly sentimental. In 1972 Godard surely felt himself to be working on the barricades with Hanoi Jane Fonda, filming Tout va bien while Truffaut released a love letter to the process of cinema: La Nuit américaine, known to English-speaking audiences as Day for Night.

It was this latter movie that sent Godard around the deep end. Bitterly disappointed in Truffaut’s mawkish attitude—and perceived need to hide the politically conservative impulses that lurk behind most films—Godard wrote Truffaut a scathing letter in the spring of 1973, after seeing Day for Night.

The letter began, “J’ai vu hier La nuit américaine. Probablement personne ne te traitera de menteur, aussi je le fais.” (“Yesterday I saw Day for Night. Probably no one else will call you a liar, so I will.”)

The original French exchange is at the bottom of this post, but for an English translation I rely on the good offices of Tom Gore. Here’s Godard’s letter to Truffaut:

Yesterday I saw La Nuit americaine. Probably no one else will call you a liar, so I will. Its no more an insult than ‘fascist’, it’s a criticism, and it’s the absence of criticism that I complain of in the films of Chabrol, Ferreri, Verneuil, Delannoy, Renoir, etc. You say: films are trains that pass in the night, but who takes the train, in what class, and who is driving it with an ‘informer’ from the management standing at his side? Directors like those I mention make film-trains as well. And if you aren’t referring to the Trans-Europ, then maybe it’s a local train or else the one from Munich to Dachau, whose station naturally we aren’t shown in Lelouch’s film-train. Liar, because the shot of you and Jacqueline Bisset (sic) the other evening at Chez Francis is not in your film, and one can’t help wondering why the director is the only one who doesn’t screw in La Nuit americaine. At the moment I’m filming something that will be called Un Simple Film, it will show in a simplistic manner (in your manner, in Verneuil’s and Chabrol’s etc.) those who also make films, and just how these ‘whos’ make them. How your trainee continuity-girl numbers each shot, how the guy from Eclair carries his equipment, how the old man from Publidecor paints Maria Schneider’s backside in Last Tango, how Rassam’s switchboard operator telephones and how Malle’s accountant balances the books, and in each case we’ll be comparing the sound with image, the sound of the boom with the sound of Deneuve that it records, Leaud’s number on the sequence of images with the social security number of the unpaid trainee, the sex life of the old guy from Publidecor with that of Brando, the accountant’s own day-to-day budget with the budget of La Grosse Bouffe, etc. Because of the problems of Malle and Rassam who produce expensive movies (like you), the money that was reserved for me has been swallowed up by the Ferreri (that’s what I mean, no one prevents you from taking the train, but you prevent others) and I’m stuck. The film costs about 20 million and is produced by Anouchka and TVAB films (the company owned by Gorin and me). Could you enter into co-production with with us for 10 million? For 5 million? Considering La Nuit americaine, you ought to help me, so that the public dosen’t get the idea we all make films like you. You aren’t a liar, like Pompidou, like me, you speak your own truth. In exchange, if you like, I can sign over my rights to La Chinoise, La Gai Savoir and Masculin-Feminin.

If you want to talk it over, fine,


Truffaut’s response to Godard is a bit too long to print here, but here are some of the highlights. Again, the full translation is here.

Jean-Luc. So you won’t be obliged to read this unpleasant letter right to the end, I’m starting with the essential point: I will not co-produce your film.

Secondly, I’m sending back to you the letter you wrote to Jean-Pierre Leaud: I read it and I think it’s obnoxious. And because of that letter I feel the time has come to tell you, at length, that in my opinion you’ve been acting like a shit.


I don’t give a shit what you think of La nuit americaine, what I find deplorable on your part is the fact that, even now, you continue to go and see such films, films whose subject-matter you know in advance will not correspond to either your conception of the cinema or your conception of life. ...

You’ve changed your way of life, your way of thinking, yet, even so, you continue to waste hour after hour ruining your eyesight at the cinema. Why? In the hope of finding something that will be fuel your contempt for the rest of us, that will reinforce all your new prejudices?

Now it’s my turn to call you a liar. At the beginning of Tout va bien there is the phrase: ‘To make a film one needs stars.’ A lie. Everyone knows how determined you were to get J. Fonda who was beginning to lose interest, when all your backers were telling you to take just anyone.

Everyone seems to agree that Truffaut “won” the exchange, but I can’t help feeling some sympathy for Godard here. I don’t understand what shit he was pulling with Léaud, and it was clearly a mistake borne of incredible arrogance to abuse Truffaut for being such a worthless sellout, and then hit him up for money on a co-production that might salvage whatever was left of his soul. Godard was unforgivable, yes, but ...  I don’t know, I think he had a point and was somehow fighting the good fight.

I probably wouldn’t want Godard as a friend, but I’m glad he was out there being obnoxious on art’s behalf.

This month Criterion Collection is releasing a Blu-Ray edition of Day for Night, and has put out an amusing clip of cinema scholar Dudley Andrew discussing the feud.


Après le jump, the original French letters

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘Who Do You Want Me To Be?’: New documentary shines light on the many faces of Michael Des Barres
06:33 am


Michael Des Barres

Who Do You Want Me To Be?
Musician/actor Michael Des Barres has worn many hats over his decades-long career. As a vocalist, he’s fronted such acts as the Power Station, filling in for the departed Robert Palmer on their lone US tour (with a high profile appearance at Live Aid), and the highly underrated Silverhead, one of the finest groups of the glam rock era. He’s also released a handful of solo albums, including Somebody Up There Likes Me, a neglected LP that deserved better. His biggest success (in the form of royalties) has been as songwriter, having co-penned “Obsession,” a worldwide hit for ‘80s synth-pop act Animotion. In addition, he’s a talented character actor, most known for his recurring role as TV villain Murdoc on Macgyver. His versatility is acknowledged in the title of the fabulous documentary, Michael Des Barres: Who Do You Want Me To Be?, which is currently making the film festival rounds. Dangerous Minds got in touch with the director of the documentary, J. Elvis Weinstein, and asked him some questions via email.

How did you come to know Michael’s work?:

Weinstein: The first time I came to know Michael as a musician was when he joined the Power Station, but I recognized him from TV roles at the time. I was a TV junkie as a kid. He lived in my head as a trivia question for many years. I’d always notice him in TV and movie roles.
The many faces of Murdoch
The many faces of Murdoc.

How and when did you approach Michael about making a documentary about him? Was he open to the idea or did it take some convincing?:

Weinstein: We met several years ago working on a TV series, me a as writer/producer, he as a cast member. We spoke about writing a book and even did some interviews at the time, but it never materialized. Then a few years ago, we ended up guests on the same radio show and I mentioned we should have done a documentary instead of a book. There was instant agreement; we were shooting within three weeks.

What drove you to make the documentary?:

Weinstein: I knew that there was a great story to be told and that there were things I could learn for myself from telling it.

Michael appears open and frank during the interview segments in the film. Were you surprised by anything he told you? One of the things I learned from watching the film is that Silverhead was really Michael’s project and the other members were hired guns—I never knew!:

Weinstein: Michael was very generous in his willingness to examine and re-examine his life as honestly as possible through this process. I think he realized very early on that I wasn’t striving for a sensationalistic telling of the story but rather a very human one. 

As for surprises, I don’t have any specific ones that jump out. While Silverhead were hired musicians, they quickly became a very collaborative and tightly-knit band. Michael was very much the leader but the sound evolved from the players.
Continues after the jump…

Posted by Bart Bealmear | Leave a comment
Watch P-Orridge, Moog, Moroder, Can and many more in the electronic music documentary ‘Modulations’

Iara Lee’s ambitious 1998 documentary Modulations: Cinema for the Ear tries to fit the entire history of electronic music into 73 minutes. It’s a good try, and it’s worth watching for its crazy array of interview subjects, who range from Genesis P-Orridge to Karlheinz Stockhausen, and for its snapshots of 90s dance cultures around the world. From the point of view of a person who studiously avoided glowsticks and pacifiers during this historical moment, it’s interesting to look at these scenes from the remove of two decades: compared to today’s apocalypse culture, the millennium’s end-of-the-world styles seem quaint, fun, almost utopian.

Though there’s a lot of emphasis on contemporary house and techno, Modulations is a survey of the history of electronic music that takes in everything from the Futurists’ noise experiments to jungle. It keeps up a dizzying pace, and doesn’t let you look into any of these artists, movements or scenes too deeply, but what a cast: legendary producers Giorgio Moroder and Teo Macero, musique concrète pioneer Pierre Henry, Robert Moog, members of Can, and John Cage are among the dozens of figures who get screen time. (Yet no Wendy Carlos?) If you want more of this stuff, there’s a CD soundtrack and a book tie-in.

via Genesis Breyer P-Orridge

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
Uncovering and preserving the wildest and strangest films in the world
07:28 am


cult movies
Mondo Macabro

The films released by the Mondo Macabro label are certainly some of the most bizarre movies in existence. Many of these diverse horror, fantasy, and erotic films had never been screened outside of their home countries before being rescued and preserved by these cult curators. The label’s aesthetic, if there is one, seems to favor films with wild visual content resulting from either the film-makers’ budgetary constraints or the unconventional elements of story-telling specific to their various foreign cultures. There are few DVD companies as reliable as Mondo Macabro: even the “bad” films they release are fascinating for being so goddamn out there.

In 1994 Mondo Macabro’s Pete Tombs co-wrote the definitive guide to European exploitation and horror films, Immoral Tales: European Sex & Horror Movies, 1956-1984. This reference lead to Tombs becoming a producer, with Andrew Starke, of the BBC documentary series Eurotika!. Tombs followed up with the book Mondo Macabro: Weird and Wonderful Cinema Around the World, which covered the fantastically strange films of Hong Kong, the Philippines, Indonesia, India, Turkey, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, and Japan. This crucial tome inspired another BBC documentary series and eventually a DVD label of the same name. Tombs and Starke have been releasing DVDs on the Mondo Macabro label since 2003’s release of the 1978 Mexican horror film, Alucarda.

Tombs scours the planet for the rarest and weirdest exploitation and horror films. In some cases, these films are literally being saved from the garbage dump, with Tombs tracking down the only surviving elements, which are cleaned up as much as possible and supplemented with bonus archival and documentary materials. Mondo Macabro’s DVD releases are an evident labor of love.

We recently caught up with Pete Tombs to talk about his work:

Dangerous Minds: I’d like to start by going back to 1994 and your Immoral Tales book. This book became one of the definitive guides for film buffs with an interest in unusual films in those pre-Internet and DVD days. It had a spot on my bookshelf right next to Incredibly Strange Films and The Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film. How difficult was it to research your subject matter at that time?

Pete Tombs: It was REALLY difficult! Obviously I’d been watching films for a long time before starting work on the book and so there were my memories and occasionally notes made years before to fall back on, but generally finding copies of the more obscure films was… well, let’s say “challenging”! Most of the research for Immoral Tales was done in a period prior to the existence of the world wide web as it exists today so we relied almost entirely on personal contacts and snail mail to exchange information and tapes. There were also a few books, mostly in languages other than English, and a lot of journals and fanzines that dealt with our areas of interest. In the back pages of zines like Pyschotronic you used to find full page ads from tape traders or sellers, usually pages filled with film titles in tiny typeface that you had to pore over using a magnifying glass. You then had to cross reference the titles to find out what was actually on offer as different releases of the same films often had alternate titles, particularly if they were foreign films. But gradually you got to see things and patterns started to emerge.

DM: How did Immoral Tales lead to the Mondo Macabro book, and subsequently the Eurotika TV series, followed by the Mondo Macabro TV series?

PT: Cathal Tohill and myself put Immoral Tales together, originally for publisher Paul Woods. We ended up publishing it ourselves. After it came out Paul suggested to me that a similar book on Asian cinema might be of interest. I thought about it and realized very quickly that my knowledge of that area of film was limited but I reckoned that by taking a more global approach and intending the book to be a brief introduction to exploitation industries outside Europe and the US, I might be able to put something together.

Andy Starke and myself had already made the Eurotika! Series for UK Channel 4, so we made a video pitch to them of the Mondo series backed up by the book and it went on from there. It was quite an adventure going to all those countries and trying to track down people to film, some of whom had never been interviewed before but I’m glad we did it. Some of those interviews – like the one we did with Barry Prima in Jakarta were kind of surreal. He didn’t seem to be at all interested and could barely come up with answers to most of the questions. Finally he admitted that he thought his films were all shit and that he’d only turned up so he could see who these idiots were who’d come all the way from the UK to ask him about them. What a guy! I still love his films though, despite his best efforts to persuade me otherwise.

Barry Prima in The Devil’s Sword.
DM: At what point did it seem a logical next step to create a label to release the films you were researching and reporting on?

PT: I’d been running video companies for a few years by the time we started the Mondo label. We’d built up a lot of contacts over the years, so we knew who to talk to and (more importantly!) how much to spend. We started in the UK and it was Andy Starke’s idea to set up a US operation.
More after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
‘Heavy Metal Parking Lot ‪Alumni: Where Are They Now‬?’
06:06 am


Jeff Krulik
Heavy Metal Parking Lot

The saga of Heavy Metal Parking Lot is practically indie-filmdom’s Greatest Story Ever Told. In 1986, Jeff Krulik and John Heyn brought a camera to a Judas Priest show and interviewed the fans milling about in the parking lot. The result was just about the funniest 17 minutes of nonfiction film ever produced—drunken, stoned, and just plain old amped-up metalhead kids mugged and preened for the cameras, and generally just obliged the videographers by absolutely reveling in the attention being paid to them. It’s people being people in some of the best slice-of-life filmmaking ever made, and no less an indie-film godhead than John Waters is said to have claimed that the film gave him the creeps.

Krulik went on to a career in video, working for Discovery Networks and the National Geographic Channel among other enviable gigs, and the notoriety of HMPL (nth-generation VHS dubs were practically a required possession of any self-respecting weirdo by the early ‘90s) allowed him to continue making short docs exploring the endearingly odd fringes of American culture. Most of them by far were NOT about parking lots, but the theme proved durable. In 1996, ten years to the day after he shot HMPL, he went back to the same concert arena to make Neil Diamond Parking Lot, which IMO was seriously way more fucked up than its forebear. The actually quite charming Harry Potter Parking Lot followed in 2000, and in 2004, the now-defunct Canadian cable channel Trio even commissioned Krulik to produce a parking lot documentary series called—yeah—Parking Lot.

HMPL was released on DVD in 2006. Rights issues concerning Judas Priest songs made it hard to release legitimately for a long time, though a legit-enough-seeming underground VHS compilation of Krulik films was commercially available at one time, if you were resourceful enough to find it. The DVD is blown out with extras, one of which is a wonderful short documentary Heavy Metal Parking Lot ‪Alumni: Where Are They Now‬, wherein Krulik and Heyn tracked down four of the people featured in the film (three quite prominently, one for literally half a second), all by then approaching middle age. Amusingly, for years, none of them had even the foggiest idea that they had been part of an underground sensation. In fact, the iconic “Zebra Man,” a loudmouth young guy in an amazing and preposterous zebra-striped jumpsuit who made himself a spectacle by loudly proclaiming the merits of metal and calling Madonna a “dick,” is shown on camera as an adult watching HMPL, of which he’s inarguably one of the stars, for the first time. (There’s another revelation about the guy that I thought was HILARIOUS, but which I will not here spoil.)

One downer: they didn’t find the shirtless dudebro in suspenders who seems to have rather brashly called Judas Priest singer Rob Halford’s homosexuality a dozen years before Mr. Halford actually came out—or at least that’s what I always assumed his “Robert Halford, I don’t know about you” remark was supposed to mean. I don’t want to call some guy out as a homophobe if I’m misunderstanding what he’s trying to get at, but either way, there doesn’t seem to be any way that could have been an uninteresting follow-up interview. UPDATE 08/20/15: Via internet magic, he found me! He’s Zev Zalman Ludwick of Silver Spring MD, and since HMPL he’s become a Hasidic Jew, a bluegrass musician, and an aquarium designer. (There’s auto-playing media on that last link.) We had a lovely chat on the phone, and he confirmed that his remark in the film was indeed a potshot at Halford’s homosexuality, but that time has softened his views on gay people considerably. He also confirmed that he was, indeed, an interesting follow-up interview.

If you have a Roku device, both the original doc and the alumni follow-up can be seen on the SnagFilms channel (or you can watch the follow-up right here at the end of this post). And really, if you haven’t seen the original, it’s on YouTube. You should get on that, there’s a reason it’s been a stone classic for almost 30 years. Plus, absent the context of the original, I can’t imagine Where Are They Now having a whole lot of impact.

Propers to Mr. Marty Geramita for suggesting this post.

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
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