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Christopher Lee’s swordfighting tutorial
09:49 am



The beloved actor Christopher Lee, who played a part in several of the most profitable film franchises in history and yet still managed to be primarily identified with his portrayal of Dracula, passed away on Sunday at the age of 93 from respiratory problems and heart failure. In addition to his many Dracula movies for Hammer, Lee was the heavy in the 1974 James Bond movie The Man with the Golden Gun, and also played notable roles in the Star Wars and Lord of the Rings series as well as, believe it or not, the last movie of the Police Academy franchise and the second Gremlins movie. If you were looking for a serene representation of evil, Lee was hard to beat.

In this video Lee demonstrates a few sword acting tips—his main piece of advice is, behave as if you actually want to kill the other person. When he says, “I’ve actually done more swordfights on film I think than anyone ever has.” one is certainly inclined to believe him!


Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘The Stuff’: Wild 80s cult film about homicidal yogurt
02:21 pm



The Stuff is a particularly memorable eighties cult movie made by veteran B-movie director Larry Cohen (God Told Me To, Q: The Winged Serpent, It’s Alive). It was a perennial HBO late-night flick of the era and a big video store “midnight movie” section favorite, although I personally saw it for the first time in the hallowed halls of Joseph Papp’s Public Theater, during a festival of Cohen’s films. The Stuff is the story of a parasitical, possibly sentient frozen yogurt-like substance that bubbles out from the ground, and tastes great. It’s addicting, even. Everyone who tries it just can’t get enough of The Stuff…

But are they eating The Stuff or is The Stuff eating them?

The Stuff was made on a low budget in 1985 with familiar faces like Garrett Morris (from the original cast of SNL), Paul Sorvino, Danny Aiello, Brooke Adams and Andrea Marcovicci. It has several fake commercials that looked quite real for the time cut in throughout the movie that ramp up the camp value considerably. So does a brief uncredited cameo appearance by a then unknown Patrick Dempsey. Grey’s Anatomy‘s future “Dr. McDreamy” here plays a drug dealer who trades in The Stuff. (Eric Bogosian and Mira Sorvino are also seen briefly, but uncredited in the film).

The House of Self-Indulgence blog described The Stuff as: “A cautionary tale for all those who enjoy consuming dessert products on a regular basis, The Stuff is a hokey horror farce that manages to skewer everything from mindless consumerism to cold war paranoia, and yet, still be a movie about homicidal yogurt not from outer space.”

Elsewhere on the web I saw the film described as “yogurt product comes to life, causing devastation.” That pretty much nails it.

The Stuff is as much an inspired anti-consumerist, anti-shitty food rant as it is a horror film. That’s why it’s so much fun. Check it out, it’s one of the better made, more entertaining 80s cult movies out there. It’s actually way smarter than the trailer below indicates. The Stuff is often seen on Netflix streaming and on YouTube in several parts, or you can buy The Stuff on Amazon.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Robert Mitchum gets busted for ‘reefers,’ making weed seem hip to middle America
07:19 am



The cops were hiding in the bushes outside a bungalow at 8443 Ridpath Drive, peeking in the windows scoping actress Lila Leeds in her scanties having her hair styled by her roommate, dancer Vicki Evans. The cops, Det, Sgt, Alva Barr and Det. J. B. Mckinnon were working on a tip-off that tonight there was gonna be a reefer party with some big name Hollywood bad boy whose arrest would deliver them kudos down the precinct and a shitstorm unto the Studios.

The LAPD was being squeezed to crack down on the drug use rife among the Hollywood’s boho cognoscenti. Every two-bit actor and lounge room muso was getting high on some kinda illegal DOPE. This had to be stopped, it was sending out a bad influence on middle America.

Lila Leeds was bottle blonde perfection, the sort of girl who left men drooling. She was pitched as the next Lana Turner, but being pitched as someone else is never the same as being pitched as yourself—it meant you were a copy and a copy is always expendable. Add in a few cat fights at the Mocambo and an accidental overdose to her resume and Lila knew she was on her last chance to make it big. Then she met Robert Mitchum—tough handsome Bob Mitchum with the sleepy-eyed look that gave girls goosebumps. Lila figured with Bob things might just be on the way back up. Mitchum was in a temporary split from his wife—she’d moved back east with the kids leaving Mitchum to his own devices in Hollywood—working hard and making the most of his time alone.
‘It’s a bust!’: Mitchum and Leeds arrested.
September 1948, Mitchum was out house-hunting, getting the tour from part-time friend and real estate agent Robin Ford. Mitchum had seen Lila a couple of times—they’d hit it off as both liked to party, both liked to booze, and both liked to smoke weed. Mitchum suggested a reefer party some night and a date was set. Lila told Vicki about the plans. Mitchum told Ford. One of them snitched.

As Vicki fixed Lila’s hair, Mitchum phoned to say he was on his way up. Lila had two new boxer puppies who scampered out to meet Mitchum and Ford as they pulled into the drive. Lila put the puppies out on the closed-in back porch. Mitchum asked for the lights to be dimmed, said he thought he’d seen someone prowling around the bushes out front. He checked but saw nothing. Detectives Barr and Mckinnon had moved when the boys had arrived, taking up position at the back porch, just itching for the back door to be opened so they could make their arrests.

Mitchum dropped a pack of smokes on the living room table. Lila opened it up—brown and white, she said, before lighting them up. Later she recalled how Vicki Evans hadn’t taken a smoke when offered, only asking “Will they knock me out?”

Out back the pups started yapping at the cops lurking in the bushes. Vicki said she go let them in. As she opened the back door, Barr and Mckinnon burst in. Mitchum picked up a table and got ready to hurl it at the intruders. “Police officers! Freeze!” Mitchum froze. The spliff in his fingers was smoked right down and it burned his fingers. No one moved, only Vicki said, “Gee, it’s just like the movies!”
Mitchum and Leeds up before the judge.
Mitchum, Lila, Vicki and Ford were taken downtown. Their statements read as if they’d been written by a B-movie screenwriter. Mitchum supposedly said:

“Yes, boys, I was smoking the marijuana cigaret when you came in. I guess it’s all over now. I’ve been smoking marijuana for years. The last time I smoked was about a week ago. I knew I would get caught sooner or later. This is the bitter end of my career. I’m ruined.”

While Lila Leeds is quoted as saying:

“I have been smoking marijuana for two years. I don’t smoke every day. I was smoking that small brown stick when you came in. I’m glad it’s over. I’m ruined.”

Even Ford ‘fessed up to being “ruined.”

The cops were all yukking it up and back slappin’ that they caught their big tough guy movie star. This bust at the hillside “reefer resort” was going to put an end to drugs in Hollywood and the pernicious influence of bad boys like Mitchum on godly American youth. The truth though is that hardly anyone knew Mitchum smoked weed—certainly no one in the hinterlands of smalltown America had any inkling about the actor’s penchant for “reefers.”
‘Just the facts, Bob…’
As if to signal a job well done, the Chief of Police went on a fishing holiday. But it didn’t go exactly as the cops had hoped.

More Mitchum and marijuana after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Wild prism stickers of 80s horror movies
08:33 am



Day of the Dead
These prismatic stickers, universally referred to as “prism stickers,” were all the rage in the late 1980s, which happily coincided with a classic period for horror movies, when the Halloween, Friday the 13th, Hellraiser, Nightmare on Elm Street franchises were churning out product at an alarming clip.

Yesterday on his delightful Tumblr John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats posted a pic of one of these, the Day of the Dead image above, with this message:

you put a quarter into the vending machine and you get a sticker that reflects the light all rainbow-like and it says “the darkest day of horror the world has ever known” on it

there’s a lot wrong with this world but then again check out this completely rad sticker, is what I’m saying

Hear, hear! I can’t get enough of the colors on these—the Slaughter High one in particular strikes me as a minor masterpiece. Darnielle and I aren’t alone in our admiration, in trying to find images of these stickers (not the easiest thing in the world), it was noticeable that many of these went for prices upwards of $30 on eBay.

They Live

An American Werewolf in London

Slaughter High

More prism stickers after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Teenage Michael Stipe attends ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’ in Frank-N-Furter drag, late 1970s
11:25 am

Pop Culture


A local St. Louis news broadcast from the late 1970s about the fans of the then almost controversial horror-musical The Rocky Horror Picture Show at the city’s Varsity Theater.

At around the 1:25 mark, you’ll see future R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe, in his best Frank-N-Furter drag, talking to the camera about the film.

“We’re all quite normal, really” sez the young Mister Stipe…

The clip is not dated, but seems likely to have been taped around the period while Stipe was living nearby with his family, across the Mississippi River in Collinsville, IL (home of the world’s largest catsup bottle) before moving to Athens, GA where he would meet the other members of what would become R.E.M. at the University of Georgia.

Win a Blu-ray of the new documentary R.E.M. by MTV from Rhino here.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
I want my R.E.M. TV! Win a whole mess of R.E.M. stuff from Rhino
09:22 am



In many ways, R.E.M. were always the quintessential MTV band. The group’s first single came out in July of 1981, while MTV debuted but a few weeks later, on August 1. MTV must’ve had a lot of rabid R.E.M. fans working there when they launched, because from the very beginning the band was seemingly always on the channel, a practically ubiquitous “indie” presence on programs like The Cutting Edge (which was produced by their label, I.R.S. Records), Alternative Nation, and 120 Minutes. Their career moves, tours and general gossip about them were constantly chronicled on MTV News. They were usually on the MTV awards shows getting them, presenting them and playing live. I think it’s safe to say that when MTV beckoned, R.E.M. showed up on time and did a great job and made everyone’s lives easier. That’s how a group stays on top for thirty years. To sustain that long of a ride you need to be professional, hardworking, easy to deal with, etc, etc.

As a result of their practically symbiotic relationship, MTV documented practically everything about R.E.M. right up to their decision to disband in 2011. R.E.M. BY MTV, the critically acclaimed feature-length documentary by Alexander Young, draws exclusively from archival events and traces the history of R.E.M. (and MTV itself) in a chronological manner, which makes it feel as exciting and immediate as it did when it first took place.

R.E.M. BY MTV is now available on Blu-Ray and DVD on June 2 from Rhino, and includes some rarely-seen live performances. You can win a copy of the film—and a whole lot more—by entering to win in the widget below the trailer.


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‘Hippies from Hell’: The Dutch hacker collective who helped bring us the Internet
09:23 am



Hippies from Hell is a 53-minute documentary on the pre-World Wide Web generation of hackers in Holland directed by journalist Ine Poppe. The documentary shows Poppe learning about hacker culture from her 15-year-old son Zoro. The movie covers the group’s ideals and interest in subverting the official corporate computing ideology of the 1980s.

At the center of the group was a magazine called Hack-Tic, whose heyday was about 1989-1993; after that the action drifted to online message boards and listservs. It was kind of a Dutch version of 2600; both magazines identified old-school hacking of telephone systems as part of their origin stories. According to the movie, these Dutch hackers were instrumental in wresting control of the Internet out of the hands of large institutions who wanted to keep it for themselves.

The documentary focuses on “Net activists, hardware artists, security experts, puzzlers, and the members of TOOOL, the Dutch lockpicking foundation.” Among the prominent hackers in the group are Zoro, Carla van Rijsbergen, Patrice Riemens, RGB, Walter Belgers, Sharon Vlaming. To a surprising extent, given the well-documented sexism in Silicon Valley that has been making headlines recently, a high percentage of the innovative computer experts depicted in the movie are women. As someone says, “There’s a remarkable amount of women [in the scene].... some of them are good programmers, some of them have nothing to do with IT and aren’t regarded with contempt.”

To an unusual extent, the Hippies from Hell were and are interested in analog solutions to some extent. One fellow boasts about the strip of green plastic that restores the authentic look to an old arcade version of Space Invaders. Mathilde Mupe once contrived a kind of nature computer; her idea was to “take a terminal and rebuild a keyboard from pebbles” and “built a little altar with plants and grass ... by hitting the stones you could get on the Net.” Viewers will also be treated to riveting lockpicking competitions and “Powerpong,” an attempt to create a semi-analog version of Pong in which the power is generated through pedaling and the handlebars control the Pong paddles.

Probably the most striking and memorable sequence involves—I swear to God this is true—a nudist lockpicking workshop run by Germans.

More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
1936 Italian horror short turns Edgar Allan Poe story into one of the earliest gore films
05:24 am



No one does horror like the Italians, and it’s a tradition that goes back a long while. Check out this 1936 masterpiece of gore, Il caso Valdemar—it’s just riveting. Surprisingly, the two directors (Gianni Hoepli and Ubaldo Magnaghi) have virtually no additional credits at IMDB, leaving one to assume they were amateurs? The acting is superb and the cinematography is incredibly stylized and sophisticated, with tight, disorienting shots at odd angles, reminiscent of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. The main attraction though, is the disgusting final scene, an incredible early special effect.

Il caso Valdemar is actually an adaptation of “The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar,” an 1845 short story by Edgar Allan Poe. In an incredibly devious move, Poe presented the story as true, and let people believe it actually happened for a while before finally admitting his hoax. In the story, Ernest Valdemar is dying of tuberculosis. He requests that his friend (the narrator, a mesmerist), mesmerize him on his deathbed. Valdemar is put into a trance by the narrator and announces his own death. For seven months, Valdemar lie dead, but preserved. The narrator eventually wakes his tormented subject, and Valdemar decomposes at a rapid rate.

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Terrifyingly life-like Tony Montana figure, cocaine and gun included
07:20 am



Tony Montana from Scarface, the War Version
Tony Montana “War” figure
As of this post, all collectable action figures currently in production should just throw themselves in the trash. It’s impossible to conceive of how their poorly articulated parts could possibly stand a chance against the above 1/6 scale figure of Tony Montana from Scarface. Tiny Tony comes armed to the teeth with guns and a suitcase full of drugs. Because when you fuck with tiny Tony Montana, you fuck with the best.
Tony Montana
Tony Montana “Respect” figure
As with the high-end Mr. Bean figure featured on DM a few weeks ago, the detail on these two different versions of Al Pacino’s seminal character is nothing short of microscopic. The serene look and all too realistic appearance on the face of the “Respect” figure (pre-pile of cocaine face plant, and mansion murder-spree), and the discoloration of the teeth in the “War” version (black suit, unhinged, brain full of cocaine), is just jaw-dropping. Since I always tell the truth (even when I lie), I have to admit that I actually find it rather troubling to see inanimate objects possessing such life-like qualities. Especially when said objects are modeled after one of cinema’s greatest anti-heroes. I’m sure Mr. Pacino himself would agree. Maybe not.
Tony Montana War figure face detail
Tony Montana War version with Colt CR-15
Just like the cinematic Tony, both figures come jacked-up with weapons, drugs and other accessories including the following: two bags of heroin, one package of vacuum sealed cocaine, a Beretta 81 (pictured below), two 40mm grenades, and one Colt CR-15 assault rifle (pictured above) complete with rocket launcher.
Tony Montana Respect figure with Beretta 81
More after the jump…

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So Radiohead named itself after ... Ned Ryerson from ‘Groundhog Day’? The truth revealed!
06:26 am



It’s common knowledge that Radiohead got its name from a song written by David Byrne called “Radio Head” that appears in the movie True Stories. What’s less well known is that Byrne wrote that song about Stephen Tobolowsky, a familiar character actor and raconteur whose signature role is Ned Ryerson in the classic 1993 movie Groundhog Day.

This remarkable happenstance was revealed on Tobolowsky’s recent appearance on the Nerdist podcast hosted by Chris Hardwick. The story is told around the 40-45 minute stretch of that episode.

So what’s going on? Let’s start with the premise that Stephen Tobolowsky claims to be more than a little bit psychic. Add to it the fact that Tobolowsky is credited as one of the co-writers of True Stories, along with the playwright Beth Henley. So if nothing else, Tobolowsky and Byrne were hanging out a bit during the mid-1980s, while they toiled on this movie. (In the Nerdist interview, by the way, Tobolowsky says that Byrne threw out most of Tobolowsky’s contributions as a writer.)

In his college years, Tobolowsky more or less stumbled on psychic powers of considerable potency, if the stories he tells are to be believed at all. As he puts it, he developed the ability to “hear” or “read” people’s “tones,” that is, to intuit a whole lot of private and even situational information about a person just by being in the same room with him or her. One story involves blurting out that a quasi-mentor of his was living under an assumed name and that his initials were actually “M.L.” or “M.K.” (they were “M.K.,” in the event). He tells a couple more stories of that level of mind-boggling ability—stories that, if true, would cause quite a few skeptics to give up the argument entirely. Tobolowsky continues:

So my girlfriend Beth at the time thought, “We have a real money-making thing here! ... You know, we’ll have people pay a quarter or a dollar and have you read their tones.” She would round up people, bring ‘em in to the green room or whatever, and you would think it would be funny, but I would go, like, “Ah, you just got an inheritance and you want to know how you’re going to spend that money,” and they would get up and cry, and everyone would have these creepy, creepy, creepy feelings.

Beth loved me for it, and she thought, “This is so cool, what are my tones?” and I said, “I gotta quit doing this, because this is way creepy, and I don’t really like it.” So—while that nineteen furious days that we were working on True Stories, Beth says, “Tell David. Because David wants to put all these true stories in his movie, Stephen. Tell him the true story about you hearing tones.” And I said, “No, baby, no, I don’t want—” “No, tell him the story about you hearing tones.”

So I sat and told David the story of me hearing tones. And he looked and says, “You’re kidding!” And I said, “No, David, that’s really the story but I don’t do it anymore, I don’t like to do it anymore, it was too creepy, and I don’t like to do it anymore.”

So anyway—sure enough, a year later, David has written into True Stories a character that hears tones, and he wrote the song, that day he came over and played “Wild Wild Life,” he says, “Here is a song that I wrote for you, Stephen.” And we put it in the thing, and it was “Radio Head.”

[Hardwick gasps.]

“I’m pickin’ up somethin’ good…. Radio Head….”

So Radiohead got their name from the song David Byrne wrote based on my psychic experiences when I was in college!

Continues after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
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