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Long live the New Flesh: The making of David Cronenberg’s ‘Videodrome’
04.29.2016
09:09 am

Topics:
Movies

Tags:
Debbie Harry
David Cronenberg
Videodrome


 
Videodrome, which came out in 1982, probably freaked me out as much as any movie ever has, when I caught it on cable TV a year or two after its release at the age of 13. In fact, I turned it off halfway through—it was just too much—but I ventured back a week later and watched the whole thing in morbid fascination.

It was the last of the films David Cronenberg made in his concentrated early “body horror” period, that stretch when he was establishing himself as an absolute master of intellectual schlock. Not that he ever abandoned that terrain at all—Dead Ringers, Naked Lunch, and Crash were still to come—but his next project was a comparatively commercial Stephen King adaptation, The Dead Zone, and it wasn’t too long before he’s adapting David Henry Hwang plays and making movies about Jung.

After the thrilling, entropic run of serious mindfucks between 1975 and 1982, consisting of Shivers, Rabid, The Brood, Scanners, and Videodrome—leaving out the racecar drama Fast Company to make a tidier chronology—there was a period in which Cronenberg’s actual personality and his public persona were quite out of sync.
 

Just a normal day in the Cronenberg universe…..
 
In real life, Cronenberg was a thoughtful, mild-mannered dork, but he was perceived as an insane freak, since cinephiles hadn’t had much access to seeing Cronenberg himself yet. The 1980s would bring The Fly and Dead Ringers, which would cement Cronenberg’s reputation as a filmmaker with a rare power to unsettle.

Today we think of him as this genial old guy who makes striking but somewhat conventional dramas like Eastern Promises or Maps to the Stars, but there was a time when even Martin Scorsese, a filmmaker quite accustomed to a bit of the ol’ ultraviolence, was actually frightened to meet his Canadian colleague!

In an interview that appeared in David Breskin’s wonderful collection Inner Views, Cronenberg commented:
 

I’m aware there are apparent contradictions, like the well-known Marty Scorsese thing: after I met him, he said in an interview that he had been terrified to meet me, though he had wanted to meet me. This is the guy who made Taxi Driver and he’s afraid to meet me! This is a guy who knows from the inside out that there’s a complex relationship between someone who makes films and his films. But he still was taking the films at face value and equating me with them, and the craziness he saw in the films, and the disturbing things he saw in the films, he felt would be the essence of me as a person. And so he was amazed to meet a guy who, as he later said, “looked like a Beverly Hills gynecologist.” And I was not anything like he thought I was going to be.

 
So that’s the context in which James Woods says, in Mick Garris’ look at the making of Videodrome, that Cronenberg’s was “one of the strangest minds I’ve ever encountered.” The fact is, Cronenberg’s sensibility has been tremendously normalized over the last generation, and it takes a mental effort to recall a time when Cronenberg was fucking dangerous and ultra weird.

To be fair, Woods was in the middle of making a movie in which his character, Max Renn, develops a kind of vagina into which he can insert a videotape and basically acts out the narrative laid out in David Bowie’s “TVC15” when he crawls into the cold glass of his cathode-ray tube…..

More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Bizarre Japanese superhero powered by panties on his face
04.28.2016
12:26 pm

Topics:
Movies
Sex

Tags:
hentai
superheroes


 
The amazing 2103 movie Hentai Kamen: Forbidden Super Hero presents the exploits of a superhero with righteous abs and some frilly panties draped demurely over his face—indeed, it’s the panties that grant him his super powers.

Hentai is the Japanese word for “pervert,” and Americans generally use it as an all-encompassing term for Japanese porn, especially if it has a kinky element.

Hentai Kamen: Forbidden Super Hero is the movie adaptation of a comedy manga series written and illustrated by Keishū Ando that first appeared in 1992. Ando’s series was called Kyūkyoku!! Hentai Kamen, which translates as “Ultimate!! Pervert Mask.”
 

 
You might be tempted to imagine that the movie isn’t real, just the trailer is. Nope, it had a screening at the Japan Society in New York City in July 2013—it sold out—and it’s available on Amazon. Hell, a sequel came out earlier this year.

“You are a Hentai of Justice!” If there’s any, er, justice, that will be the next bit of bedroom palaver to sweep the world….
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
That time Jack Kerouac asked Marlon Brando to make a movie of ‘On the Road’ 1957
04.27.2016
11:55 am

Topics:
Books
Heroes
Literature
Movies

Tags:
Jack Kerouac
Marlon Brando

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It’s fair to say most writers would like a movie made of their books—it’s a way of reaching a far greater audience and pegging a stake on fame, fortune and celluloid immortality. To this end, some writers often dream up a cast list of their favorite actors who they think are best suited to play the fictional characters they’ve created. Though of course this rarely happens as box office clout always beats artistic sensibilities when it comes to casting.

In September 1957, Jack Kerouac’s novel On the Road was published to great and immediate acclaim. Film studios clamored to option the book. Warner Brothers expressed an interest as did Paramount, but Kerouac had his own ideas.

The Beat author wanted Marlon Brando to make a movie of On the Road. He thought Method actor Brando was perfect for the central role of Dean Moriarty. Kerouac was ambitious enough to consider himself for the role of his fictional alter ego and Moriarty’s sidekick Sal Paradise. Brando was a hot property. He was considered perhaps the greatest actor of his generation and had been nominated five times for an Academy Award—winning one for his performance in On the Waterfront in 1954. It was a big ask, but Kerouac was hopeful.

“Dear Marlon,” his letter began:

I’m praying that you’ll buy ON THE ROAD and make a movie of it. Don’t worry about the structure, I know to compress and re-arrange the plot a bit to give a perfectly acceptable movie-type structure: making it into one all-inclusive trip instead of the several voyages coast-to-coast in the book, one vast round trip from New York to Denver to Frisco to Mexico to New Orleans to New York again. I visualize the beautiful shots could be made with the camera on the front seat of the car showing the road (day and night) unwinding into the windshield, as Sal and Dean yak. I wanted you to play the part because Dean (as you know) is no dopey hotrodder but a real intelligent (in fact Jesuit) Irishman. You play Dean and I’ll play Sal (Warner Bros. mentioned I play Sal) and I’ll show you how Dean acts in real life, you couldn’t possibly imagine it without seeing a good imitation. Fact, we can go visit him in Frisco, or have him come down to L.A. still a real frantic cat but nowadays settled down with his final wife saying the Lord’s Prayer with his kiddies at night… as you’ll see when you read the play BEAT GENERATION. All I want out of this is to be able to establish myself and by mother a trust fund for life, so I can really go roaming around the world writing about Japan, India, France etc… I Want to be free to write what comes out of my head & free to feed my buddies when they’re hungry & not worry about my mother.

Incidentally, my next novel is THE SUBTERRANEANS coming out in N.Y. next March and is about a love affair between a white guy and a colored girl and is a very hep story. Some of the characters in it you know in the Village (Stanley Gould etc.) It easily could be turned into a play, easier than ON THE ROAD.

What I wanta do is re-do the theater and the cinema in America, give it a spontaneous dash, remove pre-conceptions of “situation” and let people rave on as they do in real life. That’s what the play is: no plot in particular, no “meaning” in particular, just the way people are. Everything I write I do in the spirit where I imagine myself an Angel returned to the earth seeing it with sad eyes as it is. I know you approve of these ideas, & incidentally the new Frank Sinatra show is based on “spontaneous” too, which is the only way to come on anyway, whether in business or life. The French movies of the 30’s are still far superior to ours because the French really let their actors come on and the writers didn’t quibble with some preconceived notion of how intelligent the movie audience is, they talked soul from soul and everybody understood at once. I want to make great French Movies in America, finally, when I’m rich… American theater & Cinema at present is an outmoded dinosaur that ain’t mutated along with the best in American Literature.

If you really want to go ahead, make arrangements to see me in New York when next you come, or if you’re going to FLorida here I am, but what we should do is talk about this because I prophesy that it’s going to be the beginning of something real great. I’m bored nowadays and I’m looking around for something to do in the world, anyway — writing novels is getting too easy, same with plays, I wrote the play in 24 hours.

Come on now, Marlon, put up your dukes and write!

Sincerely, later, Jack Kerouac

 
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This letter was only discovered after Brando died in July 2004. Helen Hall was tasked by auction house Christie’s to visit the actor’s home on Mulholland Drive in Los Angeles and select property to include in an auction of his estate.

Hall spent around ten days at Brando’s house sifting through his personal effects “with a fine tooth comb.”  The most valuable thing she had found was an annotated copy of Brando’s script for The Godfather tucked away with all his other movie memorabilia in a bunker in the garden. Hall thought this was the best she would find. On her tenth day at the house, Hall and her team searched through the very last room on their list—Brando’s office.

Continues after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Ed Wood Jr. and friends trading cards
04.27.2016
11:48 am

Topics:
Art
Movies

Tags:
Drew Friedman
Ed Wood Jr.


 
Drew Friedman was into the demented masterpieces of Ed Wood, Jr. waaaaay before it was cool. People forget, but prior to 1994, when Tim Burton turned Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski’s screenplay into the Oscar-nominated classic Ed Wood, the “historical” Ed Wood Jr. was a seldom-ballyhoo’d fringe figure who most of the time was simply ridiculed as an incompetent, straight up.

If you don’t believe me, check out the 1982 movie It Came From Hollywood, in which people like Dan Aykroyd and John Candy prompted viewers to make fun of Ed Wood as (har har) “the worst movie director who ever lived,” with nary a thought as to the more poignant aspects of Wood’s persona and oeuvre.

In 1993, Friedman released his lovingly rendered portraits as The Ed Wood Jr. Players trading cards, which celebrated durable icons like Bela Lugosi, Vampira, Criswell, and Tor Johnson as well as such curious figures as Valda Hansen, Fawn Silver, Paul Marco, Bunny Breckenridge, Herbert Rawlinson, and Gregory Walcott (some of whom you’ll remember from their onscreen representations in Burton’s movie, of course).
 

 

 
Vampira, Bela, and the man Ed Wood Jr. himself, all after the jump….....

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Can’t look away: Go behind the scenes of films by Dario Argento, John Carpenter, Tobe Hooper & more

Dennis Hopper and Tobe Hooper on the set of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2
Dennis Hopper (dressed as his character ‘Lt. Boude “Lefty” Enright’) and director Tobe Hooper on the set of the 1986 film, ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2’.
 
As I know many of our Dangerous Minds readers are also fans of movies that curdle even the blackest of blood-types, I’m sure that you will enjoy ogling these “behind the scenes” shots from some of my favorite horror films like Dario Argento’s Suspiria, the second installment of Tobe Hooper’s Texas Chainsaw franchise, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre Part 2 (that features a chainsaw-wielding Dennis Hopper, pictured above), and the films of the great John Carpenter, among others.
 
Dario Argento goofing around on the set of his 1977 film, Suspiria
Dario Argento goofing around on the set of his 1977 film, ‘Suspiria.’
 
Images of Dario Argento not being laser-serious for a change on set (pictured above), to candid photos of actors hanging out during their downtime still dressed like their gory characters, as well as amusing shots of FX master, Tom Savini in action happily creating fiends that have frequented your nightmares for the last few decades, follow. That said, some of what you’re about to see should be considered NSFW. But you knew that the minute I said “chainsaw massacre,” right?
 
Director John Carpenter with P.J. Soles and John Michael Graham on the set of Halloween, 1978
Director John Carpenter with P.J. Soles and John Michael Graham on the set of ‘Halloween,’ 1978.
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
‘Anarchy!’ Malcolm McLaren, punk rock’s Molotov cocktail


 
Phil Strongman’s new documentary Anarchy! McLaren Westwood Gang is a politically-fueled, fashion-conscious deeper look at how the English punk explosion was ignited—how the bomb was built and under what circumstances, in other words.

Coming in at almost two and a half hours with an incredible cast of characters, Anarchy! McLaren Westwood Gang traces Malcolm McClaren back to his birth with loads of never before seen films and photos, personal information and interviews with family members, friends and others, taking us into the all important mid-sixties where the real nucleus of the Sex Pistols concept begins to form within the Situationist movement, King Mob (the UK equivilent), art school and observing the tribal customs and costumes of rock ‘n roll fanaticism.

The 1968 the French student riots had a huge influence on McLaren, who travelled to Paris at the time, and there were key players from that era who played recurring roles in his life. Much of the concepts and ideas—art, slogans, everything really—originated there and then. The interviews with the people from this period were what I wanted to see most and there was no disappointment. The interviews with Malcolm himself indicate that he still was speaking in slogans right up to the very end.
 

 
If you’re looking for yet another love letter to punk rock (yawn) with the same old crap stories, then keep on pogoing as this is a very interesting (for the most part) tale of politics, sex, drugs, bombs, rock ‘n roll, and the all important fashion accessories to wear whilst bombing and rocking and rolling and fucking on drugs. If punk never really happened and this was just a wild tale of a bunch of crazed young people that tried to accomplish what punk wrought and failed, it would still be just as interesting. The fact that first an entire country and then the entire world sat up, noticed, listened and actually feared this tiny group of absurd-looking lunatics (some leading, most following) on their search and destroy mission is incredible to contemplate. Today they’d just be given their own reality TV show.

It’s a bit of a revelation for those who think a few drunk idiots formed a band and yelled and jumped around a lot while desperately trying to learn how to play their instruments. (Even at this late date it is still being said that these guys could not play or sing, which is ridiculous as is easily proven by any Sex Pistols live performance video from any period.) However, someone could have done enough homework to know to leave out Ben Westwood’s totally wrong assumption (stated as fact, of course) that Sid’s mom and girlfriend gave him heroin that he overdosed on (I personally was there that night and I and enough other people have done countless interviews stating what really happened). He even calls Methadone, Methadrone (good name for a band actually). Other than these two minor problems, and the rather large objection that for a film titled Anarchy! McLaren Westwood Gang it’s quite light on the Westwood side of things, this very long film goes by very quickly, and is really well made. Director Strongman was good friends with McLaren, having worked in the Glitterbest offices (the Sex Pistols management company) and was an actual eyewitness to much of what he is discussing here.
 

 
There lots of great interviews with everyone from Adam Ant to Don Letts to Tracey Emin to Boy George (who tells a great story about when he sang for Bow Wow Wow) to Sex Pistol Paul Cook (with amazing black and white footage of the Pistols hanging around at the Berlin wall). The music is honestly the least of the subjects focused on. In fact much of the film is framed with scenes of girls modeling Dame Westwood’s fashions (partially topless) to a modern soundtrack with an operatic vocal sung onscreen. (And thank god for that. I’m sick of these formulaic punk rock docs, aren’t you?)

There’s a lot to get out of this film, historically speaking. It’s intelligent and everything a documentary should be. It just may not be about what you thought it was going to be about. This is the history of European Anarchism as it helps beget the birth of the Sex Pistols. It’s also the story of a man who broke all the rules before that was fashionable, who ran blindly into the fire more than once and always came out the other side… many times with the prize. Or at least some money. I’ve already watched Anarchy! McLaren Westwood Gang three times and I’m not the type to really ever watch anything even twice, certainly not in the same day.

All Malcolm McLaren ever wanted was to be something akin to the “next Andy Warhol.” It’s an idiosyncratic aspiration to be sure, but one category that he (and perhaps he alone) truly belonged in.
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Howie Pyro | Leave a comment
Listen to Portishead’s harrowing cover of ABBA’s ‘SOS’
04.26.2016
10:11 am

Topics:
Movies
Music

Tags:
Portishead
ABBA


 
Listen to an excellent cover of ABBA’s “SOS” by Portishead. The cover is a single from the soundtrack for the film adaptation of J.G. Ballard’s High-Rise directed by Ben Wheatley. Apparently there’s another cover version of “SOS” on the movie’s soundtrack and that’s an orchestral version by Clint Mansell. I couldn’t find that one online.

 
via Nerdcore

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
The theme music from Hitchcock’s ‘Psycho’... PLAYED WITH KNIVES


 
I recently had a conversation with film composer Harry Manfredini, the guy behind Friday the 13th‘s infamous “tch tch tch…” about the primary influences on modern horror soundtracking and we agreed on the works of Kryzstof Penderecki and Bernard Herrmann being basically ground-zero for fright music for the last 40 years or so of cinematic terror. One specific Herrmann work has informed horror scoring more than any other single piece of music anyone could possibly name: his iconic theme music for Alfred Hitchcock’s masterpiece, Psycho.

A novel rendition of Herrmann’s Psycho theme was recently brought to my attention, and, as covers go, is quite masterful in its own right. Joachim Horsley is a composer and orchestrator for television and film and has a few albums under his belt. His 2014 album Joachim Horsley Was Dead the Whole Time contains this particular version of the Psycho theme as played on a piano… with knives.

Horsley is able to coax some odd tonalities out of the piano strings both with the knife blades and by striking the strings with the knife handle, while muting with his palm. These sounds mimic the orchestration of Herrmann’s original score.

Obviously, there’s both symbolism and novelty going on here with the use of kitchen knives, Norman Bates’ personal weapon of choice, but the end result is quite beautiful. Horsley takes some liberties towards the end of the piece and it gets a bit jazzy (maybe even slightly Latin jazzy?) in its climax. It’s cool though. He owns it.

This KILLER cover version, after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
Broken: Nine Inch Nails’ infamous unreleased ‘snuff film’ now online NSFW WATCH IT WHILE YOU CAN!


 
Nine Inch Nails’ Broken (also known as The Broken Movie) is a 1993 short film featuring four music videos from the Broken EP with wrap-around segments shot in the style of an amateur snuff film. The extremely graphic film was directed by Peter Christopherson of Throbbing Gristle, Coil, and Hipgnosis design group fame.

The NSFW video has never seen an official release (perhaps because no label would want to put their name on it?) and has to this day been a difficult piece to track down.
 

 
The terrifying, violent,  and unforgettable film was originally “leaked” by Trent Reznor himself via hand-dubbed VHS tapes in the ‘90s. The original tapes were given by Reznor to various friends with video dropouts at certain points so he could know who redistributed any copies that might surface. Reznor, later implied in a comment on the Nine Inch Nails website that Gibby Haynes of the Butthole Surfers was responsible for the most prominent leak of the original tape.

In 2006 and 2013 the film was briefly “leaked” to the Internet, many believe by Reznor himself. In both cases, the film disappeared quickly. In the case of the 2013 “leak,” the entire video was made available for streaming on Vimeo via the Nine Inch Nails Tumblr account, but was removed by Vimeo almost immediately.

For the time being (in other words, WATCH IT WHILE YOU CAN), Broken has been uploaded to Archive.org under fair use laws.

It’s not for the squeamish, so we’re tucking of after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
‘The Criterion of shit movies’: Arrow Video’s lionization of lowbrow


“Take a little piece of my heart”—Still from “Bride of Reanimator”
 
My primary job here at Dangerous Minds is to essentially say “Here, look at this cool thing”—a job I’m well-suited for because it’s something I generally find myself doing anyway. Lately, I find that when I’m telling friends about whatever cool new thing that’s fascinating me at the moment, more and more often it’s some cool new thing that came down the pike from Arrow Films.

The U.K.‘s Arrow Films has been making a name for itself the past few years with their tricked-out DVD and Blu-Ray issues of cult horror films, westerns, science fiction, sex comedies, yakuza epics and neo-noirs.  Arrow sits alongside Grindhouse Releasing and Mondo Macabro as the holy trinity of digital video companies specializing in genre films. All three companies go above and beyond the call of duty with attention to detail in their transfers and bonus materials. Arrow has very quickly become my favorite, though, and I recently described them in conversation as “The Criterion of Shit Movies.”

To be perfectly honest, some of their packages put Criterion’s fine work to shame.

I wrote here recently about one of my favorite ‘80s slasher movies, The Mutilator, which just got the deluxe treatment from Arrow. For a relatively unknown (outside of cult horror-fan circles) low-budget splatter film, Arrow went totally balls-out on the double-disc release with a beautiful 2K restoration of the unrated version of the film (from the only surviving intact print that they managed to track down at the Library of Congress) and a slew of extras, including a feature-length documentary on the making of the film. The amount of love poured into this single release is remarkable when you consider that fans of the film (which had been previously unreleased on a digital format) would have bought the thing whether or not they had produced a documentary or recorded audio commentaries, or loaded it up with behind-the-scenes footage. They didn’t have to go the extra-mile, but they DID.
 
Much more on Arrow Films after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
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