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  • Mad nuns, torture, witchcraft, & Satan: Silent film ‘Häxan’ narrated by William S. Burroughs


    A movie poster for the 1922 silent film, ‘Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages.’
     
    Like many of you, I share an affinity for topics of interest that involve the guy who should have built your hotrod, Satan. Given the choice between Heaven or Hell, I just want to be where my friends are. And my post today is about as satanic as they come as it involves possessed nuns; witchcraft; grave robbery; cannibalism as well as the occasional human sacrifice. If that’s not dangerous enough for your mind, then consider the fact that the unmistakeable voice of William S. Burroughs narrates the subject of this post—the mind-fucky 1922 silent film Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages, a flick full of all the sacrilegious subjects I mentioned above and much much more!

    Initially, Häxan is presented as a kind of historical document providing legitimate information about the origins of witchcraft and paganism. It is also widely considered to be one of the very first films to do so in such vivid detail. Director Benjamin Christensen—a former medical student—even cast himself as the devil as well as making a brief appearance as Jesus in the film. However, before Häxan could be officially released in Sweden, Swedish censors requested that Christensen omit several scenes including a rather shocking one involving a newborn baby covered in goo being held over a boiling cauldron. Many of the depictions of witchcraft in Häxan were apparently loosely based on the results of research conducted by prominent British anthropologist, Egyptologist and folklore historian, Margaret Alice Murray in her controversial 1921 book by The Witch-Cult in Western Europe: A Study in Anthropology. Subsequently, after its censored release and being summarily banned in several countries, the film was heralded by members of the surrealist movement—as noted in the 2011 book 100 Cult Films—who called the film a “masterpiece of subversion.” 

    Christensen’s care in making Häxan look and feel realistic truly knew no bounds. To reinforce its authentic darkness and to help convey the appropriate mood that is required for demonic possession he sent one of his cameramen to take photographs of the bleak, cloud-filled skies of Norway that he used throughout the film as a backdrop. His actors are genuinely terrifying looking and appear to be deeply tormented. In other words, Häxan looks like an actual snapshot taken in Hell.
     

    A disturbed nun surrounded by an equally disturbing array of torture devices from ‘Häxan: Witchcraft Through the Ages’

    Adding another layer of satanic panic related to Häxan is a story attributed directly to Christensen himself regarding actress Maren Pedersen who played “Maria the weaver,” a witch in the film. According to Christensen, when he discovered Pedersen she purported to be a Red Cross nurse from Denmark—though when they met she was a street vendor selling flowers. While they were in the middle of filming Pederson allegedly confessed to Christensen that she believed that the devil was “real” and that she had “seen him sitting by her bedside.” So enthralled was he by Pederson’s diabolical revelation that the director decided to include it in the film’s storyline. Presumably, because the power of Satan compelled him to, of course.

    More after the jump…

    Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
    Early footage of Flipper live before they even had an album out
    03.24.2017
    12:35 pm

    Topics:
    Music

    Tags:
    Flipper


     
    Flipper was one of the most important American bands of the early 1980s, as they were perhaps the first to realize that you could be punk as fuck and heavy as fuck at the same time. Punk had generally disdained riffage of the Sabbath-y variety (some would say musicianship tout court), and in fact, one of Flipper’s more enduring charms is ... well, I don’t even know what the fuck genre they do belong to. Allmusic says they’re “hardcore” but I’d opt for a term like drone punk or sludge rock before hardcore even occurred to me. But of course, they have elements of both and some other stuff too. They were a mighty influence on the Melvins, Kurt Cobain loved them—hell, Krist Novoselic joined the band in 2006—and you’d have to imagine that Gibby Haynes was intimately familiar with their catalogue.

    I’ve been playing Generic Flipper a lot recently and you won’t be surprised to learn that in an absurd time such as ours, that album is simply the ideal soundtrack. Politically and spiritually speaking, we’re on a majorly baaaaaad trip, and that’s exactly what that album is, the ultimate bad trip—but catchy and rude and smart and riffy, all at the same time.

    More after the jump…

    Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
    Alice Cooper loses his head & Danny Elfman (with Oingo Boingo) loses his mind on ‘The Gong Show’


    Alice Cooper, the late Chuck Barris, and a devilish Danny Elfman.
     
    Like everyone else of a certain age, I spent time this week mourning the loss of Chuck Barris, the one-of-a-kind game show king and the host of often questionable “talent” competition The Gong Show. I was old enough during the show’s run in the late 70s to never want to miss Barris’ antics, as well as the never-ending parade of hopeful weirdos who flocked to the show. If you’re young enough to be unfamiliar with The Gong Show, the best case scenario was that your act didn’t get “gonged” before you were done. Worst case scenario you got frantically “gang-gonged” by all three judges, but still got to fly your freak flag high to much of America. The prize for not getting gonged and coming away with the highest collective score? $516.32.

    As I was busy being nostalgic watching a few vintage clips from the show, I came across a couple worth sharing. One features Alice Cooper (who called Barris one of his “favorite people in the world”) serenading him with “Goin’ Out of My Head” while stuck in his trusty guillotine. The other is a wildly out-of-control performance by cinema maestro Danny Elfman back in his Oingo Boingo days who at the time were still called The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo. Elfman and Oingo Boingo’s antics on stage were judged by none other than Gong Show regular Buddy Hackett, a solo Shari Lewis (Lambchop must have had the night off), and actor Bill Bixby of Incredible Hulk fame. Apparently, they loved what they saw as the Mystic Knights won the contest that episode.

    Watch Alice Cooper and a young Danny Elfman on ‘The Gong Show’ after the jump…

    Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
    Maps to the Stars: Beautiful astronomical drawings from the 19th century
    03.24.2017
    09:35 am

    Topics:
    Art
    Science/Tech

    Tags:
    Étienne Léopold Trouvelot
    astronomy

    10greatcomet1881.jpg
    The Great Comet of 1881.
     
    Étienne Léopold Trouvelot was a French artist and astronomer who produced some 7,000 illustrations based on his astronomical observations during his lifetime.

    Originally from Aisne, France, Trouvelot fled with his family to America after a coup d’état by Louis Napoleon in 1852. They settled in Medford, Massachusetts, where Trouvelot supported his family as an astronomer and artist. He produced detailed astronomical drawings. A selection of these illustrations was shown to Joseph Winlock, the director of Harvard College Observatory. Impressed by Trouvelot’s work, Winlock invited the Frenchman to join the Observatory staff in 1872. Trouvelot was also invited to spend a year working with U. S. Naval Observatory’s 26-inch refractor.

    Trouvelot wrote some fifty scientific papers and is credited with discovering “veiled spots” on the Sun in 1875. He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1877

    In 1881, fifteen of his famed pastel illustrations were collected together and published as The Trouvelot Astronomical Drawings.
     
    0gypsymotrouv.jpg
    Trouvelot introduced the Gypsy Moth to America.
     
    Apart from his fine scientific work, Trouvelot is now remembered for his meddling as an amateur entomologist. In 1860, he accidentally introduced the Gypsy Moth to America. Trouvelot brought some Gypsy Moth egg masses out of Europe to his home in Medford. He had some strange idea of helping the declining number of silk-producing moths in the States. How he intended to do this is not quite clear. Unfortunately, some moths escaped. Trouvelot notified local authorities to the possible danger but nothing was done. Within a few years, colonies of the Gypsy Moth were causing havoc across large areas of the east coast. Attempts to eradicate this invasive pest failed. Today the Gypsy Moth costs over $800 million in damages every year.

    Some of Trouvelot’s drawings are available to buy as posters—details here.
     
    5novmeteors.jpg
    The November Meteors, 1868.
     
    2eclipsesun.jpg
    Total Eclipse of the Sun, July 29th 1878.
     
    See more of Touvelot’s beautiful astronomical illustrations, after the jump…

    Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
    How to lie in 14 steps: the WikiHow guide to dishonesty
    03.24.2017
    08:33 am

    Topics:
    Current Events
    Politics
    Unorthodox

    Tags:
    Lying


     
    Writing for Esquire in 1969, Gore Vidal laid bare a “demagogic strategy” William F. Buckley used to befuddle opponents:

    If one is lying, accuse others of lying. On television this sort of thing is enormously effective in demoralizing the innocent and well-mannered who, acting in good faith, do not lie or make personal insults. Buckley has made many honorable men look dishonest fools by his demagoguery, and by the time they recover from his first assault and are ready to retaliate, the program is over.

    Why is this effective? Because the thought of lying in public, where a judge, policeman or journalist might hear, gives good citizens the cold sweats. The mere accusation unleashes the bad conscience of the regular taxpayer and snaps his mind neatly in half. Did I fail to give a full and accurate account? Am I guilty of an act of omission, if not commission? Could I have used a more charitable adjective? Perhaps I did mischaracterize certain of my honorable friend’s views, etc.
     

     
    We at Dangerous Minds don’t believe the strategies and tactics of dishonesty should be the preserve of the rich, the powerful, and the stupid, and few other “content providers” will tell you the score. While the New York Times may report on “How to Improve Your Productivity at Work,” the Gray Lady is unlikely to teach you how to play fast and loose with the facts. Less reputable outlets than ours will lie to you, which can be instructive, but they will do nothing deliberately to wise you up.

    That’s why, until they start teaching us how to do our own surgeries, WikiHow’s lying clinic is likely to remain their most useful public service. 

    I won’t list all of their 14 steps to falsehood, but here are some of the basics. Rehearsal is a key part of the technique. Repetition gives purchase to the most absurd, self-contradictory assertion. There are a few body language tips:

    Be sure not to rub your face too much, sway back and forth, or shrug your shoulders a lot. Keep your arms down at your sides rather than folding them across your chest. Don’t blink more often than normal or turn your body away from the person. All of these are signs that you are lying.

    (But what if you want people to believe you’re lying? It would be interesting to try all of these gestures at once while scrupulously telling the truth, as an experiment.)
     

     
    Another pro tip from WikiHow: lie before you have to. Take the initiative. I think this means you run into the living room with icing in your nostrils and scream “I did not eat the cake that is not missing!”

    The Community Q&A covers likely eventualities: “What if the person has found evidence?” “Is covering up your bad deed with a less significant bad deed a good strategy?” “If I need to, how do I force tears?”

    This last question is misguided. Just tell the sucker you’re crying.

    Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
    When Quentin Tarantino played an Elvis Impersonator on ‘The Golden Girls’


     
    In 1988, before Quentin Tarantino had sold his scripts for True Romance or Natural Born Killers, leading the way to secure a deal to direct his first film Reservoir Dogs, he appeared for a few seconds as an Elvis impersonator at Sophia’s wedding in an episode of The Golden Girls.

    Tarantino discussed the appearance in a 1994 Playboy interview:

    “Well, it was kind of a high point because it was one of the few times that I actually got hired for a job. I was one of 12 Elvis impersonators, really just a glorified extra. For some reason they had us sing Don Ho’s ‘Hawaiian Love Chant.’ All the other Elvis impersonators wore Vegas-style jumpsuits. But I wore my own clothes, because I was, like, the Sun Records Elvis. I was the hillbilly cat Elvis. I was the real Elvis; everyone else was Elvis after he sold out.”

    Indeed, Tarantino’s Elvis look doesn’t seem too far off from the look he sports in his 1987 unfinished directorial debut, My Best Friend’s Birthday, in which a character he plays in the film seems obsessed with Elvis (a theme that would carry on through other films in Tarantino’s body of work).

    See QT in action as Elvis after the jump…

    Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
    Cabaret Voltaire to perform live in the U.K. for the first time since 1992 next month
    03.24.2017
    08:00 am

    Topics:
    Music

    Tags:
    Cabaret Voltaire


     
    The greatest musical act in world history to take its name from a Swiss Dada touchstone, Cabaret Voltaire announced earlier this week that it intends to play its first U.K. show in 25 years when it takes the stage at Derbyshire’s The Devil’s Arse Cave on April 29.

    In an odd bit of phrasing, a poster released by the band asserts that the show is “billed as a performance consisting solely of machines, multi-screen projections and Richard H. Kirk,” and if you’re wondering, it seems that the surmise that Stephen Mallinder will not be involved is correct. (By the way, they used the exact same odd phrasing in press releases for their 2015 shows.)

    In the 1970s Cabaret Voltaire was one of the pre-eminent pioneers of industrial and electronic music, generating albums as sinister and funky as Red Mecca and The Crackdown; it’s safe to say that anything under the banner of Cabaret Voltaire is worthy of interest by definition.

    It’s true that Cabaret Voltaire played gigs all over continental Europe in 2015 and 2016, but Kirk and his doodads neglected to hit the British Isles. The useful website setlist.fm includes information on a 2011 show in the Horse Hospital in the Bloomsbury neighborhood of London, but that was actually a screening of the 1982 movie Johnny Yesno, a movie for which Cabaret Voltaire did the soundtrack. The last Cabaret Voltaire show in the U.K. before that was at the Gardner Center in Brighton on November 29, 1992.

    The more interesting news is that Kirk has recently made a commitment, in an interview with FACT, to keep upcoming CV shows devoid of old material:
     

    It’s totally new, I don’t play anything from the past. I think being 60, it feels more dignified than a band full of old guys wobbling about on a stage. I’ve been a big fan of Miles Davis for many years and he would never play anything from the past and the only time he ever did that was before he died. I just feel like, what’s the point? It’s not going anywhere, who wants to be playing stuff that you did 30 years ago and constantly repeating yourself? I always make it really clear that if you think you’re going to come and hear the greatest hits then don’t come because you’re not. What you might get is the same spirit.

     
    More after the jump…

    Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
    ‘The Rock and Roll Singer’: On tour with the legendary Gene Vincent in 1969

    01sweegene.jpeg
     
    Never underestimate the power of imitation.

    Elvis Presley never toured Britain. The only time the King set foot in the UK was during a brief stopover to refuel the army plane that was taking him home at Prestwick Airport in 1960. With no Presley tours, ever, there was a wide open gap for homegrown talent to fill.

    First there was Tommy Steele. Steele was good—but he had no edge. He was wholesome showbiz—the kind of rock ‘n’ roll singer mothers adored. He did stage shows, TV light entertainment shows and even made a movie with Benny Hill. Then came Marty Wilde, Billy Fury, Duffy Power, Vince Eager and Dickie Pride. Each one of these acts was managed by Larry Parnes, a pop impresario and manager known as the “Beat Svengali.” Parnes created his own homegrown roster of rock ‘n’ roll acts. He produced their records, booked their gigs and made a helluva lot of money. His stars? Not so much. Most of his singers never received any royalties—Parnes was able to do this by having power of attorney over his acts.

    The fans screamed. The records sold. But the kids still craved real American rock ‘n’ roll stars. Bill Haley and the Comets toured—but they were old and not so hip. Buddy Holly hit it big with a tour in 1958. But when Holly died in a plane crash not long after, most American rockers weren’t so keen on flying to the UK to tour. Then came Gene Vincent. Finally the British fans would find their replacement for Elvis Presley.

    Gene Vincent had the bad boy rep. He looked like trouble. He was known for trouble. He was said to have wrecked his leg in a bike crash which left him wearing a “steel sheath” for the rest of his life. His biggest hit was “Be-Bop-a-Lula” in 1956—which was the best Elvis song that Presley never recorded. It made Gene Vincent famous. He toured the US with his band the Blue Caps. He made TV and movie appearances but never quite followed up the success he had with “Be-Bop-a-Lula.” The taxman came after him. Vincent allegedly sold his band’s equipment to pay off the debt. It was the start of a pattern that was to frame the rest of his life.

    Vincent was going nowhere fast when an offer came to tour England in 1959. TV producer Jack Good booked Vincent on to his pop show Boy Meets Girl. Good hated Vincent’s look. The singer arrived in his trademark green Teddy Boy jacket with “GV” emblazoned on the pockets. Good dressed him in black leather—leather trousers, leather jacket, leather gloves, jet black t-shirt. and sparkling medallion. It was the image that defined bad boy rock ‘n’ roll.

    His appearance on Boy Meets Girl made Gene Vincent a legend. He was booked to tour the UK. Sell-out gigs across the country and then in Europe. The Brits couldn’t get enough of this Yankee rock ‘n’ roll singer.

    Watch Gene Vincent on the road in 1969, after the jump…

    Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
    The ‘degenerate art’ of Rudolf Schlichter


    A surrealist-style painting by German artist, Rudolf Schlichter.
     
    At the age of 26, while he had been pursuing his studies at the Art Academy of Kunstakademie in Karlsruhe, German artist Rudolf Schlichter was drafted into the army. Following a successful hunger strike, Schlichter was dismissed from his duties and returned to the bustling, forward-thinking town of Karlsruhe. Schlichter didn’t stick around for long and soon set off for Berlin where he fell in with the Dada scene and became a communist.

    Schlichter made a successful living in Berlin from his illustrations. He transitioned from Dada to the “Neue Saclichkeit” movement (or “New Objectivity”) that used realism to express skepticism related to current events. He quickly became one of the most influential and critically important contributors to this quasi-Expressionism. Within New Objectivity there were two additional artistic courses: The “Verists” were known for using portraiture as a vehicle for their hostility toward authority figures, affluence and the oppression of society. The works of the great Otto Dix played a large role in this sub-component of New Objectivity. The other was commonly referred to as “Magic Realists” who were in opposition to the German style of Expressionism. Probably the most notable Magic Realism artist was Georg Schrimpf whose work was a crucial part of New Objectivity. Now that we’ve got your mini subversive art lesson out of the way, here’s a bit more on Rudolf Schlichter whose work, though not initially, was reviled by the Nazis.

    While Schlichter’s body of work is as vast as it is diverse, there were many recurrent points of interest and themes, especially erotic ones, in his paintings and illustrations. Often his subjects were comprised of various bohemian movers and shakers and other residents who were part of the vibrant counterculture of the streets of Berlin where he spent much of his time. In 1923 Schlichter provided 60 illustrations for an edition of Oscar Wilde’s The Ballad of Reading Gaol. At the end of the 1920s, Schlichter returned to being a practicing Catholic and would end up doing illustrations for various religious publications put out by the church including a youth-oriented magazine called Jungle Front. The illustrations in the magazine often cast a disparaging light on the politics of Adolf Hitler. Coincidently at the time of its publication, Schlichter also belonged to the exclusively German art organization run by the Third Reich, “Reichskammer der bildenden Künste” or the “Reich Chamber of Fine Arts” headed up by propagandist extraordinaire Joseph Goebbels. And as you might imagine the jab didn’t go unnoticed and Schlichter was promptly ousted. His work was removed from galleries and destroyed and Schlichter’s name was added to the “degenerate art” list kept by the Nazis. Which in my mind is always the right kind of list to be on, in any time period.

    Though he would pass away at the age of 65, a little more than a decade prior to his death Schlichter produced many remarkable pieces of surrealistic style paintings. Which would lead to the artist being dubbed “the German Salvador Dali.” I’ve included a few of Schlichter’s surrealist works as well as a nice sampling of his erotica below. Which means much of what follows is NSFW.
     

     

    “Blonde Enemy” 1922.
     

    “Dada Roof Studio.”
     
    More after the jump…

    Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
    Real Horrorshow: The short-lived ‘Clockwork Orange’-themed punk band Molodoy


     
    I’m pleased to have a reason to call attention to the Sheffield Tape Archive, an absolutely unbeatable resource helping to preserve an essential part of our collective musical heritage. As they describe it, the archive’s purpose is to house “a series of archive recordings from around 1980 onwards: sheffield bands, demos, concerts and rarities.”

    One of the more intriguing acts featured in the Sheffield Tape Archive existed only very briefly, never put out an album, and their only live dates were before 1980. They were called Molodoy, and they had a terrific gimmick: The entire band was an extended homage to the joint artistic labors of Anthony Burgess and Stanley Kubrick, the latter of course having most memorably adapted the former’s unsettling bestseller A Clockwork Orange. Not much is known about this band today, but I’m willing to bet that one rejected name for the band was Alex and the Droogs.

    The group’s singer, Garry Warburton, unmistakably played the role of Alex, complete with facepaint incorporating the book’s signature gear/eye motif (as you can see above) that also references the extravagant eyelash makeup worn by Malcolm McDowell in the movie.
     

     
    The name, Molodoy, comes from the book, which is told in an invention of Burgess’ called “Nadsat,” a type of youth slang that is replete with Russian-derived colloquialisms—the best-known term is “horrorshow,” which is a reformulation of khorosho, the Russian word for “good.” The term molodoy, meaning “young,” pops up early in Burgess’ novel:
     

    I nudged him hard, saying: “Come, my gloopy bastard as thou art. Think thou not on them. There’ll be life like down here most likely, with some getting knifed and others doing the knifing. And now, with the nochy still molodoy, let us be on our way, O my brothers.”

     
    Molodoy unfortunately didn’t leave much trace behind. I was able to find an account of a Cabaret Voltaire gig at Sheffield’s Limit Club from the summer of 1978 at which Molodoy also played. The writer, whose name I was not able to ascertain, seems to have found them more than a little intimidating:
     

    Molodoy follow. This is the band the skinheads have come to see. The singer is dressed in full Clockwork Orange droog uniform: black bowler hat, eye make-up, white shirt and trousers, black boots and braces. Real horrowshow.

    “This one’s called ‘Children Of The Third Reich’”.

    The lyrics flirt with fascism. The music is taut, dense and sexless. He’s watchable in a detestable kind of way. The skins push each other around, there is argy, but thankfully no bargy. The rest of us look on, mute. We are either young, liberal-minded types who think everyone is entitled to their own point of view, or we are collectively shit scared of getting a 14 eye oxblood Dr. Martens boot to the head. Molodoy continue to thrash and thrum, we the audience opt to keep schtum.

     
    To perform in a rock group dressed as a Droog in 70s Britain was to, obviously, assume the mantle not just of “ultra-violence,” but of sexual violence as well. After Fleet Street blamed the film for inspiring a gang rape in which the attackers sang “Singin’ in the Rain” as “Singin’ in the Rape” and A Clockwork Orange was linked to several sensational murders, Kubrick’s film was withdrawn from distribution in 1973 at the director’s request. No wonder the bootboys came out in force for Molodoy.

    More after the jump…

    Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
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