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Perfect posters for the genius comedy-horror TV series ‘Inside No. 9’
01:40 pm



If you aren’t already, then you really should be watching Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith‘s masterful series Inside No. 9, which is currently rolling out for a third season on BBC television.

Shearsmith and Pemberton, alongside Mark Gatiss and Jeremy Dyson formed the finely-tuned quartet of young writers and performers who saved British television comedy from near irrelevancy in 1999.

Together they called themselves, and their comedy series, The League of Gentlemen. In the long history of British comedy, these guys were the most important new arrivals on the telly since say The Comic Strip Presents…, or The Young Ones or even further back to Monty Python. Their show was a fearless mix of horror and comedy which became an international cult hit leading to the inevitable book, movie, and stage production. Along with The Office, the three series of The League of Gentlemen are the crown jewels of this generation of BBC comedy productions. The best of the best.

In 2002, when The League of Gentlemen finished their run on television.  Dyson went off to write very good novels and stage shows. Gatiss sharpened his nib working on Doctor Who and then stunned the planet by co-devising and writing Sherlock. The Lennon & McCartney of the band, Pemberton and Shearsmith continued in their own wicked ways writing and starring in the much darker sitcom Psychoville and most importantly Inside No. 9 in 2014.

Inside No. 9 is an anthology series, much in the style of those masterful compendium horror films produced by Amicus Productions in the sixties and seventies like Dr. Terror’s House of Horrors (1965), Tales from the Crypt (1972), and From Beyond the Grave (1974). Each episode offers up one complete mini-movie written by and starring Pemberton and Shearsmith alongside such renowned actors as David Warner, Gemma Arterton, Rula Lenska, Sheridan Smith, Jessica Raine and Roger Sloman. The tales range from haunting ghost stories to Gothic horror to troubling psychological thrillers—all neatly laced with the deadliest of black comedy. And as with the Amicus films, each 30-minute drama has an unnerving and genuinely unexpected twist.

The third series has already started—and it’s utterly fantastic. Which understandably explains why the BBC have already commissioned a fourth one for 2018.

Inside No. 9 is promoted by a lovingly produced movie poster which captures the style and genre of each production. As a fan of the show (and all the work of Messrs. Pemberton and Shearsmith), I thought these posters are something well worth sharing. The first was designed by Graham Humphreys who produced the knock ‘em for six poster for Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead. Each of these beautiful artworks is a mouthwatering appetizer for the main dish—which, as said, if you aren’t already watching then you should be feasting on them right now.
Sardines’ Season One #1, February 5th 2014, poster by Graham Humphreys .
A Quiet Night In’ Season One #2, February 12th 2014, poster by Matt Owen.
More posters promoting the god-like genius of Pemberton & Shearsmith, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Behold a custom built Lemmy Kilmister fire pit that that spews flames from its face
09:22 am



The most metal fire pit known to man (or woman), the custom-built Lemmy Kilmister fire pit by Kustom Fire Pits.
So here’s the deal—I don’t know a whole lot about this custom Lemmy Kilmister fire pit. But I do know enough to tell how to get your hands on one, or one of the other Motörhead inspired fire pit designs done by an outfit in the Netherlands called Kustom Fire Pits.

According to their Facebook page, the incredibly cool artisan behind these completely metal creations is an artist known as Sjaak. In addition to his many designs, he also accepts commissions. Over on Sjaak’s official site, I learned a little more about the Lemmy fire pit, specifically that it took 120 hours to craft and weighs about 88 pounds. Which unless you live in the Netherlands or Netherlands adjacent, getting the massive Lemmy fire pit to your zip code without taking a second mortgage out on your house might be a challenge. However, once you get a look at some of the other Motörhead pits as well as more of the creations by the talented Dutchman, I think you’ll seriously consider making one of them yours. Here’s a link to Kustom Fire Pits official site where you can get more info on how to do that. Images of the metal as fuck fire-burning Lemmys and other very metal fire pits follow.


More fire-breathing Lemmy after the jump…

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The beautiful lost sculptures of Augusta Savage
03:30 pm



The African-American artist Augusta Savage was born in Florida during a leap year on February 29, 1892. Her earliest memories were of the heavy rains and making ducks and chickens from the wet red clay out in the yard. She decided early to become an artist but her father, a strict Methodist minister, tried to whip this dream out of her. He sometimes beat her four or five times a week. It didn’t work. Augusta was determined to go her own way.

The options for most poor girls at the turn of the last century was go to work, get married and have kids. Augusta married at the age of fifteen in 1907 and gave birth to her only child, Irene, a year later. Not long after this, her husband died. Augusta then got hitched to a carpenter by the name of James Savage. The marriage lasted until the early 1920s when the couple divorced. Augusta liked the surname so decided to keep it.

With marriage and a baby to look after, Savage didn’t manage take up sculpting again until 1919 when a local sculptor gave her some clay. She knew she had talent but how much she wasn’t sure. Her talent was decidedly confirmed when she entered a couple of her latest sculptures into a local fair. She won top prize. This was just enough encouragement for Augusta. She gave her daughter over to the temporary care of her parents and headed off to New York to enrol as a student at the Cooper Union School of Art.

To her tutors it became quickly apparent that Savage was an exceptional talent. She passed her four year arts course with flying colors in a speedy three. But not everyone was impressed with this bright and talented young woman. 

In 1923,  Savage won a place among one hundred other American students to travel to Fontainbleau, France for a summer arts program. Arriving at the venue just outside Paris, Augusta was barred from entry and ejected off the course by the French organizers on grounds of her color. But other people’s racism and stupidity was never going to stop Augusta.

She returned to New York where she soon set-up a studio in Harlem. Augusta established herself as a portrait sculptor seeking commission from well-to-do African-American families to produce busts. It was during this time that Augusta produced one of her most famous and celebrated works Gamin.

In 1929, Augusta Savage won another fellowship to study in Paris. This time there was no institutionalized racism standing in her way and all went well. It led to a second fellowship the following year. But upon her return to America in the early thirties, she found the country devastated by the Wall St. Crash and the ensuing Great Depression. No one wanted portrait busts or civic sculptures. Undeterred, Augusta opened the Savage Studio of Arts and Crafts in Harlem 1932, where she taught art to young kids in the neighborhood.

Success followed in 1934, when Augusta became the first African-American to be elected to the National Association of Women Painters and Sculptors. Three years later, she became the first director of the Harlem Community Art Center—which played a crucial role in the lives of many black artists.

Yet, Augusta Savage’s life always seemed shadowed by obstacle and opposition. The height of her greatest sculptural achievement came when she was asked to create a large sculpture for New York’s World Fair in 1939. Augusta produced a work called The Harp. It took her two years to develop and create. This massive piece of sculpture was inspired by the poem Lift Every Voice and Sing by James Weldon Johnson. The poem was written in response to “a group of young men in Jacksonville, Florida, [who] arranged to celebrate Lincoln’s birthday in 1900.”

Lift every voice and sing  
Till earth and heaven ring,
Ring with the harmonies of Liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise
High as the listening skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us. 
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,
Let us march on till victory is won.

Augusta’s statue featured twelve black singers rising up from the palm of God forming the shape of a harp. It was one of the main attractions at the fair. But when the show closed, no one was interested in helping Augusta keep the work or having it cast in bronze. The sculpture was smashed to pieces. It was a symbolic finale to Augusta’s career. On returning to Harlem, she found her position at the Community Arts Center had been taken by someone else. Things began to fall apart—more so after America entered the Second World War in 1941. Thereafter, nearly everything Augusta attempted failed. She moved to Saugerties, in the Catskill Mountains and started producing smaller works. But something had been lost. Something that had once been so powerful and resilient had been destroyed.

Augusta Savage produced less and less work. Most of her original work had been lost or destroyed. By the time of her death in 1962, Augusta Savage was tragically relatively forgotten

I have created nothing really beautiful, really lasting, but if I can inspire one of these youngsters to develop the talent I know they possess, then my monument will be in their work.

I don’t know if Augusta celebrated her birthday every four years or shifted around between the 28th Feb. and first of March, but as this is the last day in February maybe we should celebrate Augusta Savage who was truly one of the most significant American sculptors of the twentieth century.
Augusta in her studio.
‘The Harp’ (1939).
Read more about Augusta Savage, and see more of her work, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
That time Lemmy recorded a single with the (not so) ‘squeaky clean’ Nolan Sisters
11:24 am



The Young & Moody Band were an R&B group formed around the talents of Bob Young and Micky Moody. Young was a musician and regular collaborator with Status Quo, co-writing with Franco Rossi some of the band’s best-known hits like “Caroline,” “Paper Plane” and “Down Down.” Moody was guitarist with Whitesnake. The pair met while Quo and Whitesnake were on tour and decided one late evening to form their own sideline band together. They settled on the catchy and easy to remember name of Young & Moody and duly recorded their first album which they released in 1977. Though decent enough this self-titled debut didn’t bring home much bacon. But there was enough interest from friends and fellow musicians for Young & Moody to develop into the unlikeliest of “supergroups.”

In late 1980, Motörhead appeared on the BBC chart music show Top of the Pops. At that point in their career, Motörhead seemed to almost have booked a residency on this renowned pop show as they seemed to be on it so frequently—and were certainly one of the reasons for watching it. The thing about TOTP was its utterly baffling mix of hip, cult or heavy metal bands and rap artists with odious light entertainment trash. The likes of “The Birdie Song” or Renée and Renato could be heard warbling on the same show as say, Siouxsie and the Banshees or PiL. Watching TOTP was often self-inflicted harm, like pigging out on a box of candies just to find your one favorite soft center—to paraphrase Forrest Gump. 

The night Motörhead were on the show, a popular light entertainment act was topping the bill—The Nolans.

Now you have probably never heard of The Nolans or The Nolan Sisters as they once were known, but this quintet of fresh-faced sisters was Ireland’s most famous export next to probably Guinness or St. Paddy’s Day, at least until U2 made the big time. The Nolans looked like they’d spent the whole of their childhood singing in front the bedroom mirror with a hairbrush in hand. They were the female Osmonds or the Irish Jackson Five. They were good girls. They were wholesome. They were squeaky clean.

The Nolans started out playing pubs and clubs in the north of England. They were real troupers. In 1974, they debuted on It’s Cliff Richard—the born-again Christian pop star who was once hailed as England’s Elvis.

In 1975, the Nolans supported Frank Sinatra on his European tour. From then on the saccharine sisters never seemed to be off TV singing about “Scarlet Ribbons” or whatever. Then came a record deal and their breakthrough single “I’m in the Mood for Dancing” which catapulted the girls into global fame. Well, fame everywhere save for America.
Lemmy and the Nolans—a match made in…. (photo Rama.)
When Lemmy met the Nolans he only had only one thing on his mind as he told Q magazine in 2010:

“No (there was no fling), but it wasn’t for the want of trying. They are awesome chicks. People forget those girls were onstage with Frank Sinatra at the age of 12. They’ve seen most things twice.

“We were on Top of the Pops at the same time as them and our manager was trying to chat up Linda: the one with the bouffant hair and the nice boobs. He dropped his lighter and bent down to pick it up. Linda said to him, ‘While you’re down there, why don’t you give me a…’ It blew him away. We didn’t expect that from a Nolan sister. None of us did.

“We were supposed to be the smelliest, loudest motherf**kers in the building but we more than met our match. We were in awe. You couldn’t mess with the Nolan sisters.”

Now this is how one of the sisters, Colleen Nolan recounted meeting Lemmy in an article from 2015:

Lemmy was the nicest, most intelligent, philosophical person you could ever meet - he’ll probably be turning in his grave now I’ve said that. Though, I was terrified when I met him for the first time in 1981. I was a Nolan sister and he was this scary-looking heavy metal guitarist. He was in The Young and the Moody band and The Nolans recorded the single, “Don’t Do That,” with them.

I remember how much he loved women and big boobs . He was certainly fascinated with mine. He used to say: “Great t*ts!” but he was never being lecherous, he was just saying: “Be proud of yourself.” It wasn’t creepy, Lemmy actually made me feel good about being a woman.

He did once ask me out for a drink though. I said: “Seriously, I could NOT take you home and introduce you to my mum - she’d have a heart attack!” But he found out that The Nolans weren’t that innocent either. When we did Top of the Pops he bent over to pick something up in front of us and Linda said: “While you’re down there…”

The look of shock on his face was priceless.

He thought he’d have to watch his behavior in front of the Von Trapps and there was Maria von Trapp being so crude. From that point on he realized we were ordinary people and we got along great.

Music from Lemmy and The Nolans, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Behind the scenes shots from the bloody set of ‘Reservoir Dogs’
09:09 am



Tim Roth (Mr. Orange) and Michael Madsen (Mr. Blonde) clowning around during the shooting of the 1992 film, ‘Reservoir Dogs.’
Twenty-five years ago a 29-year-old Quentin Tarantino gave us all the gift of the blood-splattered bank robbery film gone wrong, Reservoir Dogs. Inspired by a number of Tarantino’s favorite films such as The Pope of Greenwich Village, The Taking of Pelham 123 and Stanley Kubrick’s audacious 1956 flick, The Killing, before shooting began Tarantino got a call from the Sundance Institute asking him to attend a filmmaker-centric workshop that solicited feedback on their concepts and techniques from people already deeply immersed in the film industry. 

The first group that was exposed to Tarantino’s filming technique skewered the director regarding his skills as a cameraman. However, the second group that got a peek into the future mad scientist of filmmaking included Terry Gilliam—an obviously unconventional filmmaker in his own right. Gilliam clearly saw Tarantino’s potential and became an instant fan. So if you’ve ever wondered why Terry Gilliam’s name appears in the credits under the “special thanks” category, now you know. Also, if the scenes that were shot inside of the warehouse—which was actually once a mortuary—look authentically uncomfortable, there’s also a simple explanation for that as well. The film was shot in Los Angeles during its warmer months, which in turn helped pushed the inside temperature of the mortuary turned warehouse to 100 degrees at times. Because of this while poor Mr. Orange was lying around in an ever-expanding puddle of his own fake movie blood, he would occasionally find himself attached to the floor thanks to the faux blood’s reaction to heat.

I could quite honestly fill an entire post based solely on the mythological backstory concerning this film but as I’m sure it is a favorite of our readers, I won’t go into more detail. What I will do is share with you loads of shots from the set as well as other candid images connected with the film that I really dug digging up for you. I’ve also included footage of Tarantino and Buscemi rehearsing scenes for the film together that you should watch right away before it gets pulled. And since this is Reservoir Dogs we’re talking about, some of what follows is NSFW. Much like Mr. Tarantino himself.

Quentin Tarantino, Steve Buscemi (Mr. Pink), and Harvey Keitel (Mr. White) on the set of ‘Reservoir Dogs.’

Tarantino at the LA premiere of ‘Reservoir Dogs’ in 1992.
More after the jump…

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Gangsters and guns in Tokyo: Sydney Pollack on directing Robert Mitchum in ‘The Yakuza,’ 1974
01:18 pm



Robert Mitchum hated being a movie star. Being famous meant nothing to him. After all, as he often pointed out, one of the biggest stars in the world was Rin Tin Tin, “and she was a four-legged bitch.” Acting wasn’t real work. Real life was always more important than any two-bit ham who turned up, hit his mark and said his lines on cue. 

Mitchum once claimed he had only two types of acting, one type for when he was on a horse and another when he was off. There was always this sense he was somewhat embarrassed by all the adulation from fans and sycophantic journalists who thought they owned a piece of him. It made Mitchum hate Hollywood with “all the venom of someone who owed it everything he had.”

Yet for all his bravado, Robert Mitchum was one of Hollywood and cinema’s greatest actors. Over fifty-four years, Mitchum appeared in 110 movies. Many which were then and are still now considered among the best movies ever made—and this was often down to the quality of Mitchum’s performance whether he on or off a horse.

While he was happy to share stories about his life and career with family and friends, Big Bad Bob had a reputation of being difficult to interview. Chat show host Michael Parkinson once had a very awkward interview with Mitchum where every question asked by Parkinson was met by the sleepy-eyed actor’s answer “Yep.” After about twenty minutes, Parkinson had had enough of this monosyllabic performance and asked if Mitchum if he ever said anything other than “Yep”? To which Mitchum replied, “Nope.”

In January 1974, Mitchum arrived in Tokyo, Japan, to star in a gangster movie called The Yakuza. The script was written by two young writers, brothers Leonard and Paul Schrader. The film came about after Leonard Schrader went to Japan to dodge the draft in 1968. He found a job teaching, but when this fell apart, Schrader started to hang out with young yakuza gangsters. He was intrigued by their sharp suits, wraparound sunglasses and strict code of honor. He wanted to write a book about these gangsters but his brother Paul convinced him to turn it into a movie script instead.
Leonard Schrader’s book ‘The Yakuza.’

Written over a few weeks The Yakuza tells the story of a retired detective Harry Kilmer (Mitchum) asked to rescue a friend’s daughter who has been kidnapped by a yakuza gangster, Tono (Eiji Okada). Kilmer worked as a military policeman in Japan after the Second World War where he formed a relationship with a local woman Eiko (Keiko Kishi) who was working the black market to obtain penicillin for her sick daughter. Eiko’s brother Ken (Ken Takakura) a recently returned Japanese soldier was outraged by his sister’s friendship with the enemy. Kilmer ended the relationship with Eiko after helping her find the drugs for her child. He then returns to Tokyo to enlist Eiko and Ken’s help in saving his friend’s daughter from the yakuza.

The script was hyped as “The Godfather meets Bruce Lee.” It started a bidding war among the studios which eventually delivered a $325,000 payout to the brothers and their agent—though Leonard only made twenty percent of the take. A young Martin Scorsese read the script but Paul Schrader wanted a big name to direct. Robert Aldrich was hired with Lee Marvin as lead. When Marvin dropped out, Mitchum took over. However, Mitchum stipulated he did not want Aldrich as director—there was bad blood between the two. Mitchum said he wanted Sydney Pollack instead.

Pollack may have seemed an odd choice. He had just finished making The Way We Were a slushy romantic feature with Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford. However, he had also directed the war movie Castle Keep, the western The Scalphunters, both starring Burt Lancaster, and the Oscar-nominated They Shoot Horses Don’t They? starring Jane Fonda and Michael Sarrazin.

Pollack liked the script but thought it needed a rewrite. He brought in Robert Towne, who had written Villa Rides for Sam Peckinpah, The Last Detail for Hal Ashby and was then working on Chinatown for Roman Polanski. Towne later explained his involvement with The Yakuza: Japan, Yakuza films are sort of B-movies, where these gangsters … they’re sort of a combination of … if you took out soap operas on daily television and our B-gangster movies and mashed them together, you’d get a Yakuza film. Because the Japanese are very melodramatic, particularly in these films, in almost everything. And all these gangsters are stricken with this terrible sense of duty and obligation, that they’re obliged to do these things, so that in the end they end up killing 25,000 people or themselves or both or mutilating themselves. What was interesting to me was that the story deals with an American who goes over there to do a favor for an old friend. And in order to do this favor for an old friend, he has to see a Japanese gangster whose sister he had once been in love with, and asks him to help him rescue this friend’s daughter from other Japanese gangsters. And the kind of tangled web of obligation that results from this was interesting to me to work with, to make actions that are almost kind of … they’re really like a fairy tale. You just don’t imagine some guy getting to the point where he’ll be able to kill 25 people. To try and make that credible was interesting to me. And it deals with things like loyalty and friendship and abiding love, and it’s very romantic. And it was fascinating to me.


I took it to be my task in reworking it, in the structural changes I made and in the dialogue changes and the character changes, to make it, from my point of view once you accepted the premise, credible that this American would go over there, would do this, would get involved in the incidents that he got involved in the script which would involve recovering a kidnapped daughter and then ultimately killing his best friend and killing 25 other people along with it and immolating himself. And I thought that in my reading of it, I just didn’t feel that he was provoked in the right way to do all that. It’s hard to make it credible that somebody would do that, and I tried to make it, from my point of view and the point of view of the director, more plausible. Not absolutely plausible, but plausible in the framework of this kind of exotic setting. […] When I had read it, I said these are the things that I felt should be done, and they agreed with me, so I did them. But it was pretty much agreed upon with the director and myself.

More on ‘The Yakuza’ plus video of Pollack giving his own insight into the film, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Meet Aria, the band known as ‘the Russian Iron Maiden’
12:16 pm



An early shot of Soviet-era heavy metal band Aria, “the Russian Iron Maiden,” (looking here very much like the actual Iron Maiden)

Born during a tumultuous time in Russia where the Communist government was still routinely attempting to repress musical expression—metal band Aria became one of the first Russian bands in the genre to rise up and achieve commercial success in the 80s.

Aria (or if you prefer Ария) came to be around 1985 and if vocalist Valery Kipelov didn’t perform his vocals in his native tongue, the casual metalhead might be inclined to believe that Aria was some undiscovered gem that was a part of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal bands (or “NWOBHM” as I like to abbreviate it) that included heavy hitters such as Motörhead, Def Leppard, Venom, Judas Priest, and Iron Maiden. After releasing their debut Megalomania in 1985 the Russian music press and metal fans quickly bestowed the band with a weighty comparison, calling the group “the Russian Iron Maiden.” Which begs the question—did Aria deserve to be compared with a band that is as synonymous with heavy metal as leather pants, ear-piercing vocals, and sweaty, bare-chested hedonism? The answer is Da my devil-horn throwing friends.

As I mentioned previously, it wasn’t easy to get a band going as scrutiny by the Soviet government not only made it difficult for bands to do their thing, it also made their ability to procure the things they needed to do their thing difficult. Like instruments and amps and tape recorders. So repressive was the environment in Russia that it was conceivable that it might take more than a decade for a band to go from forming to actually releasing music as even acquiring basic necessities like guitars and drum kits could be next to impossible. Despite these challenges, Aria would thrive much in part to the death of Russian rock and roll’s worst enemy, Konstantin Chernenko, and the appointment of his successor Mikhail Gorbachev in 1985. They would also seemingly pepper their music with anti-US propaganda, which is especially apparent in the title of a song from their debut “America is Behind.”

A vintage shot of Aria.

The band’s heavy, melodic sound and use of synth has also been compared to the work of Chariots of Fire and Blade Runner soundtrack composer, Greek electronic wizard Vangelis. I’ve included a number of selections from Aria’s massive catalog that spans over 30 years as well as some live footage, below. If the existence of Aria—who are still active and currently on tour with a 40 piece orchestra—is news to you, I’d highly recommend adding Megalomania to your vinyl collection as a start.
More after the jump…

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Photographing Demons: The ‘brutal’ photographer who rivaled Francis Bacon
10:23 am



Portrait of Francis Bacon.
The photographer John Deakin was usually pissed as a fart. He haunted the bars and after-hours drinking dens in and around Soho during the fifties and sixties. He cadged booze and on occasion hawked “dirty pictures” to sailors at ten-bob a throw. Most who saw this shabby character drifting through the London streets dismissed him as a bit-player, a hanger-on, part of the alcoholic detritus heaved-up on the sidewalk. To those who knew him Deakin was either loved or loathed—there was no halfway house.

Lucian Freud described Deakin as:

Like Cinderella and the Ugly Sisters at the same time.

While socialite and Woolworth heiress Barbara Hutton said he was:

The second nastiest man I ever met.

Who the first was, we can only imagine. No matter the divisive response Deakin’s personality engendered, there was one thing about John Deakin everyone agreed upon—he was a genius photographer whose work was uncompromising, almost brutal in its full-frontal honesty.

As the art critic John Russell noted this fact after Deakin’s death in 1972:

When John Deakin died, there was lost a photographer who often rivaled [Francis] Bacon in his ability to make a likeness in which truth came unwrapped and unpackaged. His portraits like Bacon’s, had a dead-centred, unrhetorical quality. A complete human being was set before us, without additives.

While Deakin said of himself, that he was:

...fatally drawn to the human race, what I want to do when I photograph it is to make a revelation about it. So my sitters turn into my victims. But I would like to add that it is only those with a daemon, whose faces lend themselves to be victimized at all.

Born in Liverpool in 1912, Deakin was educated at West Kirby Grammar School, which he left at the age of sixteen to travel across Ireland and Spain. On his return to England he met up and started a relationship with gallery owner Arthur Jeffress, who bankrolled Deakin until after the Second World War when the pair split up.

Deakin started taking photographs in 1938. During the war he served as a photographer with the British Army Film Unit, documenting the Allies’ campaign at El Alamein. During one briefing given by Field Marshall Montgomery in which “Monty” warned the assembled soldiers they were vastly outnumbered by “Wommel” and his superior German tanks, Deakin could be heard anxiously asking one of his comrades, “Do you think we are on the right side?”

After the war, Deakin started his career as a photographer in earnest achieving considerable success and notoriety as a fashion photographer for Vogue. He was fired from Vogue twice: once for losing his camera equipment (which some alleged Deakin sold to pay for booze); and a second time for his “blistering” personality. He worked at various jobs—including a stint at the Observer newspaper.

Most significantly, he was regularly hired by the artist Francis Bacon to take photographs of his models—Henrietta Moraes, Isabel Rawsthorn, Lucian Freud and George Dyer. It was his “pornographic” photographs of Henrietta Moraes that Deakin hawked around Soho’s bars for beer money. Bacon said Deakin was “the best portrait photographer since Nadar and Julia Margaret Cameron.”

Though Deakin was an alcoholic, he didn’t piss his talent up against the wall. After his death, the large portfolio of photographs and negatives he left behind revealed the extent of Deakin’s talent and utter dedication to his craft. He was a genius who never received the acclaim he rightly deserved. Critic Robin Muir wrote that Deakin’s “portraits still look starkly modern, half a century on.” While his friend the writer Dan Farson considered Deakin’s place would be: one of the most disturbing photographers of the century. The expressions of his victims look suitably appalled for Deakin had no time for such niceties as “cheese” and the effect was magnified by huge contrasty blow-ups with every pore, blemish, and blood-shot eyeball exposed. In this way, he combined the instant horror of a passport photo with a shock value all his own.

In 1991, Channel 4 broadcast a documentary The Life and Unsteady Times of John Deakin which brought together all of the key players in Deakin’s life (now all sadly dead) to discuss this strange and talented photographer’s incredible career.
Francis Bacon, 1952.
Girl in a cafe, circa late 1950s.
Jeffrey Bernard, London 1950s.
Watch the documentary, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Terrifying stills & chilling images from Joan Crawford’s bonkers axe-murderer film ‘Strait-Jacket’
09:49 am



A terrifying still of Joan Crawford and her best friend, an axe, from the 1964 film, ‘Strait-Jacket.’

Though she was widely vilified by the gossip columnists of her time and is best recalled today for being a very bad mommie, it is impossible to dispute the fact that Joan Crawford was one hell of an actress. She was a talented dancer and worked as a showgirl before starting her long career in Hollywood during which she became one of the most iconic actresses of all time. She also served on the board of directors of the Pepsi-Cola Company for well over a decade. Even Blue Öyster Cult wrote a song about her. And for yours truly, street credibility just doesn’t get any better than being immortalized by the mighty BÖC.

Joan Crawford was tough—a defense mechanism that she likely developed during her difficult childhood. While attending a private school she paid her tuition by doing jobs at the school such as washing dishes; cooking; making beds, and waitressing. Due to this overload of work, her studies suffered. Crawford dropped out of school in the sixth grade—something that the actress allegedly deeply regretted. However, the event would also signal the beginning of Crawford’s aspirations to become an actress and after taking a strong interest in dance, her luck finally started to change when she took off for Chicago and landed a gig as a showgirl in a vaudeville act. She was quickly discovered and within a short period of time, she was under contract by MGM by way of producer Harry Rapf.

After a successful early run with her films, Crawford’s star began to fade, leading her to part ways with MGM in the mid-1940s for Warner Brothers who would gift her with one of the greatest roles she would ever play as the star of the 1945 film Mildred Pierce. Crawford would receive the Academy Award for Best Actress in 1946 for the role—her only Oscar in her entire career—which she accepted while at home in bed after skipping the ceremony. Then in 1962, she went head-to-head in the dark cinematic masterpiece What Ever Happened to Baby Jane? with her real-life nemesis, Bette Davis. Two years later Crawford would star in another bleak masterpiece of sorts—which is the subject of this post—the 1964 film Strait-Jacket which was scripted by the same man who authored the 1960 novel-turned-film Psycho, Robert Bloch. It was directed and produced by the master of scary movie gimmicks William Castle. The film’s byline read “FROM THE DIRECTOR OF HOMICIDAL, THE AUTHOR OF PSYCHO, AND THE CO-STAR OF WHAT EVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE?
During the film’s original release, moviegoers were given cardboard axes by movie ushers and Castle provided an “animated” moving movie poster to exhibitors. At the end of the film, the Columbia logo’s torch-bearing woman is shown decapitated, with her head resting beside her feet.

In the film, Crawford plays Lucy Harbin, a woman who has just been released from an insane asylum after a twenty-year bid as punishment for chopping up her husband (marking the first role for TV’s future Six Million Dollar Man, Lee Majors) and his mistress with an axe in a fit of jealous rage, an act witnessed by her three-year-old daughter. Things go south pretty quickly in Strait-Jacket as we soon see Crawford sucking down bourbon, chain-smoking and acting as though she’s about to have a complete psychotic break from reality at any moment. It’s rumored that when she took on the challenge of playing Crawford in Mommie Dearest, actress Faye Dunaway got much of her inspiration for her spot-on portrayal of a completely unhinged Crawford straight from Strait-Jacket.

If you have never seen this film I can say with complete confidence that it is as remarkable as it is abjectly horrifying at times. In fact, it is also my humble opinion that Crawford’s performance is on par with fellow axe-aficionado Jack Nicholson and his portrayal of “Jack Torrance” in The Shining. I’ve included some great artifacts from the film including stills, vintage lobby cards, and some sinister posters that will help prove my point about Crawford’s baleful performance in this wickedly frightening film below. Sleep tight!

Crawford inside a striped dressing room featured in the film that has her recalling her days in the asylum.

A ‘Strait-Jacket’ lobby card.
More Joan Crawford after the jump…

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The Melvins mind-melting first ever television appearance from 1995
01:20 pm



An early shot of Washington State fuzz kings, Melvins.

Sound FX was a short-lived show on the FX Network back in the mid-90s. Its greatest claim to fame was when it had the honor of hosting the Melvins’ very first national television appearance in 1995.

This clip features the band absolutely slaying “Revolve” from their eighth album Stoner Witch in front of an audience that clearly has NO idea what was happening on stage or how to handle it. It’s an awesomely awkward experience from beginning to end as during the performance the show rolled a bunch of Melvins’ factoids on the screen to hip their viewers to the band. Such as the fact that none of them drink or do drugs—and even featured an artist sketching the band while they played.

But things get really uncomfortable when the band and King Buzzo sit down with one of Sound FX‘s hosts—and future host of the reality series Survivor—Jeff Probst who was tasked with interviewing the band. The trio had just released Stoner Witch which Probst carelessly describes as more “user-friendly” than other records their catalog. Yeesh. The entire affair is highly amusing to watch as the Melvins quite literally roll all over Probst and his silly questions and then thankfully take the small stage again and murder out a version of “Goose Freight Train.” Nice. The fifteen minutes of footage is ready for you to watch below.

The Melvins’ first national television appearance on the FX Network show ‘Sound FX’ in 1995.

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