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David Bowie introduces classic Christmas cartoon, ‘The Snowman’
12.07.2015
03:59 pm

Topics:
Animation
Television

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The Snowman is an Academy Award-nominated animated short based on the wordless 1978 children’s book of the same name by beloved British author and illustrator Raymond Briggs.

In The Snowman, a lonely boy makes a frozen friend who comes alive and the pair get up to mischief in the boy’s house, trying not to awaken his sleeping parents. Then they go to meet Santa Claus. Or was it all just a dream? Over the past 30 plus years it has become a Christmas tradition in Britain in the same sense that A Charlie Brown Christmas has become one in America, with annual Yuletide broadcasts.

Although the original animation, directed by Diane Jackson for Channel 4 in 1982, featured Briggs himself introducing the cartoon, the following year a second version was aired featuring a live action introduction by none other than David Bowie, who, it is implied, was the little boy in the story, with the “proof” that it all really happened being an old scarf he pulls from a drawer. It’s amusing to consider that an entire generation was introduced to David Bowie first and foremost as the adult version of the kid in this story.

A word about the soundtrack music: It’s lyrical and utterly gorgeous, the best known work of composer and pianist Howard Blake and was recorded with his orchestra, the Sinfonia of London. I have this on CD and it’s wonderful, a classic in its own right. Blake later turned The Snowman into a long-running holiday theatrical play.

In 2012, The Snowman and the Snowdog, a sequel to the original film was broadcast by Channel 4.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Um, wait, so is EVERYONE in this town a pedophile? Watch insane cartoon ‘The Cautious Twins,’ 1960
11.25.2015
09:22 am

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Amusing
Animation

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Last weekend I was privileged to have attended a performance by Mystery Science Theater 3000 writers/puppeteers/mad scientists Trace “Dr. Clayton Forrester” Beaulieu and “TV’s Frank” Conniff. They did live movie riffing in the now-familiar MST3K style, and it was really quite an excellent time. They have two shows coming up in the next few months, In St. Louis on Saturday, December 12, 2015, and as part of the San Francisco Sketchfest on January 15, 2016. If you’re an MST3k fan at all, this is a show you really have to see, especially since Beaulieu and Conniff are not going to be a part of Joel Hodgson’s forthcoming reboot of the series. (I’m optimistic about the performers chosen to serve as the new host, mad scientist & robots, though.)
 

 
I won’t reveal the feature film they riffed just in case they plan to use it at any of the forthcoming shows—I’d hate to spoil a welcome surprise. But as a warm-up, the pair also ably mocked a couple of preposterous cartoon shorts, one of which was so completely around the bend that they could have kept their mouths shut and it still would have been a riot to watch. It was a don’t-talk-to-strangers scare PSA produced by the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department, called “The Cautious Twins,” and was the animated counterpart to a contemporary pamphlet.
 

 
The titular twins Dorene and Dan have the opposite of a helicopter mom, who sends them off to explore the town on their own. (To be clear, I’m not being critical here, I grew up really free-range, myself.) But mom might reconsider her permissiveness if she properly understood that every adult male in town save for one cop is a sleazy, leering, predatory pedophile. In fact, merely being more watchful might not suffice. She should really consider moving as far away from this nightmarish place as possible. Her poor kids can’t go ANYWHERE without getting hit up by a creeper.
 

 

 

 
That the story is told with cheap, stilted, limited-motion animation, and narrated in awkward doggerel over a calliope soundtrack elevates it from merely creepy to completely demented, and the wide eyed, perma-grin expressions the preternaturally chipper twins wear only add to that effect.

Notably, “The Cautious Twins” was directed by one Sid Davis, a director and producer who also gave the world scare films like “The Dangerous Stranger,” “Say No To Strangers,” and the massively homophobic “Boys Beware.” If you happen to be a collector of such oddball cultural produce, you might like to know that “The Dangerous Stranger” and “The Cautious Twins” are included as extras on Something Weird’s DVD release of Hitch Hike to Hell.
 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
This moody 1953 animation of Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’ was the first X-rated cartoon
10.22.2015
09:42 am

Topics:
Animation
Books

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I first read Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart” during library class at the local Catholic school I attended in Edinburgh. I was about nine or so, and had this devilish love of horror stories, detective adventures and science fiction. Each week our class was told to bring a book we liked to help encourage our reading—this was the one subject for which I needed no encouragement, my only problem was having enough time to read all the books I wanted to read. It was really a free period and usually a cinch for the teacher.

It was nearing Christmas holidays—the first snow had fallen and the trees were blackened fish bones against the sky. Our teacher, a florid Christian brother with squeaky shoes wandered round the class checking-up on what we were reading. He stopped at my desk, and pushed back the book’s cover for approval.

“Edgar Allan Poe? Edgar, Allan, Poe.” It didn’t sound like a question—more like a terminal diagnosis to an unsuspecting patient. “What would the Holy Father say?”

I had no idea the Pope was a literary critic, and so brightly enquired—what did the Holy Father think of Poe?

“Don’t be impudent, boy. That’s the kind of talk that will get you six of the best,” he said, meaning six wallops with a belt, “And this,” holding the slim paperback aloft between finger and thumb, “isn’t the kind of thing you should be reading in class. It’s unsuitable, far too macabre. I’ll have to confiscate it.” The book quickly disappeared into one of his pockets. “Now next time, bring in a proper book. I don’t want to see this sort of thing again.”

I was supposed to feel chastened, but didn’t. If anything I felt his whole response absurd, and for the first time realized books could be dangerous, and reading subversive.

Undaunted, the following week, I chanced my luck with an Algernon Blackwood, which only merited a tut and a sigh.
 
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In 1953, esteemed actor James Mason narrated an animated version of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart, which was the first cartoon to be given an “X” certificate by the British Board of Film Censors. It’s a rather splendid animation which was nominated for an Academy Award—though sadly lost out to Walt Disney’s Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom. It’s a creepy and highly atmospheric little film that fully captures the terror and madness of Poe’s classic tale.
 

 

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Anti-capitalist artist trolls Kellogg’s and Tony the Tiger AND IT IS DARK and EPIC
10.19.2015
12:15 pm

Topics:
Activism
Advertising
Amusing
Animation
Art
Class War

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A couple weeks ago the most amazing thing started to percolate around social media, but then it was apparently stopped by lawyers from Kellogg’s. The “amazing thing” I refer to is the ultra-elaborate trolling—allegedly orchestrated by the brilliant Finnish anti-capitalist artist Jani Leinonen—of Kellogg’s and their Tony the Tiger mascot.

For generations, kids the world over have grown up eating Kellogg’s sugary, nearly nutritionless breakfast cereal and getting positive reinforcement from Tony’s “They’re GRRRREAT!” catchphrase, but some of the child actors who were actually in these commercials have apparently had tragic difficulties later in their lives.

Each new video that appeared saw Tony addressing the problems—via the use of his simplistic catchphrase basically—of a prostitute, a brutal cop and a suicide bomber.

Here’s the first one, launched on October 7th:
 

 
What Leinonen (I’m pretty confident he’s the mastermind)—whose “School of Disobedience” show is currently on exhibit at the Finnish National Gallery Kiasma—has done is, well, as I said before, ultra-elaborate trolling. Culture jamming of the Banksy or Ron English school and of the highest order, not only in terms of the wit employed, but in how perfectly this prank was pulled off. What you are about to see aren’t some amateurish commercial parodies, they are as professionally realized as something that you might see on Saturday Night Live, or indeed, as any “real” TV commercial for Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes. I used to work at a commercial production studio in New York that specialized in mixing live action and animation, usually in the employ of selling sugar to children, natch, and lemme tell ya, back then this would have taken a small army to pull off. This guy is a maniac! I really admire his dedication and work ethic. He might want to destroy capitalism—but Jani Leinonen is anything but lazy. He must be the hardest working anti-capitalist around.

More after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Vintage ‘Op art’ book covers from the 50s, 60s and 70s animated with psychedelic results
10.16.2015
11:10 am

Topics:
Animation
Art
Design

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German motion designer Henning M. Lederer animated 55 retro “Op art” book covers from the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s. The results are beautifully psychedelic and quite hypnotic.


 

 
The animation, after the jump…

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
SpongeBob sings Black Sabbath’s ‘War Pigs’ and it’s excellent!
10.15.2015
12:29 pm

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Amusing
Animation
Music
Pop Culture

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I have no clue how on earth I missed this video as it’s almost a year old now. But I did. Thankfully WFMU tweeted it yesterday and hipped me to this excellent video of SpongeBob belting out Black Sabbath’s “War Pigs.”

If you’ve already seen it, scroll past. If you haven’t, do yourself a favor and watch it! You’ll be a better person for it.
 

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
‘Bound to Let You Down’: Eyelids video premiere from ‘Rick and Morty’ animator
10.13.2015
12:47 pm

Topics:
Animation
Music

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In the Dangerous Minds household, each new episode of Adult Swim’s geenyus Rick and Morty cartoon is greeted as a sort of gift from God—or at least the God of Dimension C-137, rumor has it that the show is absolute shit in other dimensions and produced by Chuck Lorre, not Dan Harmon and Justin Roiland—so I am more than happy to premiere the new video from Portland’s Eyelids directed by R&M animator Jack Cusumano. Come in for the nifty animation, stay for the catchy song!


 
The main Eyelids are John Moen from Decemberists and Chris Slusarenko of Guided by Voices and Boston Spaceships. For their Eyelids collaboration the duo indulge their fondness for earworm California “sunshine pop,” New Zealand’s Flying Nun Records groups and the jangly guitars of the early 80s Los Angeles “Paisley Underground” psych scene. Their new self-titled, four-song EP, produced by REM’s Peter Buck features two originals—“Bound to Let You Down” and “Broken Continue” as well as cover versions of John Cale’s “Only Time Will Tell” and The Dream Syndicate classic “Halloween.”

The new Eyelids EP, on limited edition colored vinyl from Jealous Butcher / Schizophonic Records, comes with a download card featuring three exclusive live videos (including Stephen Malkmus performing “Hey Joe” w/ Eyelids).
 

 
Eyelids will be touring with The Charlatans on their upcoming US cross-country trek, culminating in a hometown gig:

Nov 9 Milwaukee, WI Turner Ballroom
Nov 10 New York, NY Webster Hall
Nov 12 Washington, DC Howard Theater
Nov 13 Chicago, IL House of Blues
Nov 15 Los Angeles, CA The Fonda
Nov 16 San Francisco, CA The Regency
Nov 18 Sacramento, CA Ace of Spades
Nov 19 Portland, OR Crystal Ballroom
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Tons of awesome Ray Harryhausen artifacts up for auction
10.08.2015
03:28 pm

Topics:
Animation
Movies

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The midcentury master of stop-motion animation, Ray Harryhausen, died at the age of 92 in 2013. Among his most noteworthy movies were The 7th Voyage of Sinbad, Jason and the Argonauts, and the original version of Clash of the Titans.

On October 17th “a selection of his personal collection of career memorabilia” will be put up for sale at John Nicholson’s Fine Art Auctioneers and Valuers in Surrey, England.

If you’re bank account isn’t completely depleted, you might consider some of these items for Christmas present or perhaps to adorn your own domicile.
 

Has Tony Millionaire seen this?
 

Posters and pen and ink drawings.
 
Lots more Harryhausen treasures after the jump….
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
The new Diane Coffee video is 100% old-school and awesomely trippy: a DM premiere
10.07.2015
10:34 am

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Animation
Music

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Diane Coffee is the nom de rock of voice actor Shaun Fleming, known for roles in Kim Possible and Lilo & Stitch: The Series. He later became the drummer for indie-psych weirdos Foxygen before recording his own music as Diane Coffee. His first album, My Friend Fish, is noteworthy for having been self-recorded in two weeks, partly with makeshift instruments on the voice memo app of Coffee’s iPhone. Seriously. You’d never know to hear it, the album still sounds quite polished (maybe lo-fi is dead after all), and it hearkens back to the weird psych and glam singer-songwriters of the ‘70s. Shades of Emitt Rhodes, Marc Bolan, Jobriath, and even Flo & Eddie are discernible in Coffee’s work.
 

 

 
Coffee’s second album, Everybody’s a Good Dog, isn’t such a low-budget affair, and I have to wonder if Coffee hasn’t been listening to any of Chris Holmes’ ‘90s work in Sabalon Glitz and Yum Yum. Good Dog was recorded in a proper studio, and it boasts horn and string sections, plus some stylistic departures: “Down With the Current” feels like a direct descendent of classic mid-‘60s Motown, and “Not That Easy” is basically acid doo-wop. There are still precious pop gems and big psych freakouts, though; a track that straddles both is “Soon To Be, Won’t To Be,” which ably blurs the line between Boettcher-esque sunshine pop and bongwater-soaked subterranean fuzz-psych.

The video for “Soon To Be…,” which Dangerous Minds is pleased to premiere below, is perfectly worthy of the song—it’s an old-school animation, hand drawn frame-by-frame by illustrator Danny Lacy, who some of our readers might know as the creator of “Crack-Duck” for Adult Swim Canada. After animating it, Lacy ran the final product through old analog videotape editors to achieve the kind of degradation only tape can manage, a familiar effect to anyone who remembers when sharing videos was a matter of swapping nth-generation VHS dubs. We think the result is pretty stunning. See if you don’t agree.
 

 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Psychedelic sex kicks of Times Square grindhouses
10.06.2015
10:22 am

Topics:
Animation
Movies

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If Times Square grindhouses still existed, the films of Nicolas Winding Refn would be right at home projected on their faded and tattered screens. With films like Drive, The Pusher Trilogy and Only God Forgives, Refn has proven to be a worthy heir to the mantle worn by film makers such as Mario Bava, Tobe Hooper, Enzo G. Castellari, Seijun Suzuki and Bo Arne Vibenius. Refn’s films are beautifully shot, brutally violent and possessed of a certain dark poetry that is very easy to appreciate but hard as fuck to create.

We can now add curator of trash cinema movie posters to Refn’s ever-expanding resume. In collaboration with author Alan Jones (whose bibliography is as hip as it gets), Refn has unleashed one of the most impressive coffee table books to come out in many moons. The Act Of Seeing (Fab Press) is a hardbound collection of several hundred beautifully reproduced exploitation posters from the heyday of truly independent cinema. The Act Of Seeing is a doorway into a lost world that is gone forever. While Tarantino, Rodriguez and Refn himself may honor the grindhouse aesthetic in their own movies, the era in which these kinds of dirt cheap DIY assaults on good taste is behind us. Filmmakers may try to replicate them but irony is no substitute for genuine unselfconscious badness.
 

 
Act Of Seeing is available for purchase here. It’s a limited edition and my gut feeling is it will sell out soon. $80 is not too much to pay for a book of this scope. It weighs eight pounds so figure it’s costing you ten bucks a pound.  If you’ve got an Amazon Prime account and you want to get the book fast, click here.

Here are a few of my favorites from The Act Of Seeing:
 

 

 
More posters, plus an interview with Nicolas Winding Refn and Alan Jones after the jump…

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
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