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Watch the first silver screen portrayal of Aleister Crowley in 1926’s ‘The Magician’
05:43 am


Aleister Crowley
W. Somerset Maugham

W. Somerset Maugham based Oliver Haddo, the titular character in his 1908 novel The Magician, on Aleister Crowley, whom he had met in literary circles in Paris. It was not an altogether flattering portrait, and Crowley, writing in Vanity Fair as “Oliver Haddo,” argued that Maugham had plagiarized multiple sources in a scathing review of the book.

Almost 20 years later, Rex Ingram brought The Magician to the silver screen with the German actor and director Paul Wegener as the bloodthirsty Haddo. Crowley was living in Paris at the time, and he sought to prevent the movie’s French premiere by legal means. Richard Kaczynski’s definitive Beast biography, Perdurabo, mentions the incident in connection with Crowley’s student Gerald Yorke (the brother of the novelist Henry Green):

[...] Yorke kept AC’s pipe dreams in perspective: one such scheme involved Metro-Goldwyn’s film adaptation of Maugham’s The Magician, which was opening on the Grand Boulevard March 23. Since Crowley received no compensation as the model of Oliver Haddo, he filed an injunction against showing the film. However, when representatives from the film company offered to pay Crowley, he refused. “The lawsuit is a pretext for a business deal,” he explained to Yorke. “I’m holding out for publicity and power.” Crowley wanted a contract to produce a series of educational films on magick. Yorke was pessimistic about the scheme.

(In the event, Crowley got nothing. “I cannot say that I think you will get any damages from Metro-Goldwyn over The Magician film,” Yorke had warned Crowley. “Your reputation is too bad to be damaged by that.”)

Paul Wegener as Oliver Haddo: finally, an unbiased cinematic portrait of Aleister Crowley
“He looks as if he had stepped out of a melodrama,” the movie’s hero says when he first meets the sorcerer, giving the game away. Briefly: a diabolical sculpture crumbles in a Latin Quarter studio, crushing artist Margaret Dauncey’s spine. Her dashing lover, the famous surgeon Arthur Burdon, cures her paralysis with a scalpel. We first see Haddo in the audience at the operating theater, looking at the beautiful young quadriplegic on the table as if she were a hamburger. Poring over occult books in search of the secret of creating life, the magician has discovered an alchemical working that requires “the Heart Blood of a Maiden.” Can you guess whom he might have in mind for a donor?

There are many visual treats in store—among them a freak show and a snake charmer—but if you’re impatient or easily bored, skip to the 29-minute mark, where Haddo brings Dauncey under his spell, magically transports her to a rite of Pan, and awakens an unnatural lust within her.


Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
There’s a Roku channel just for cheesy old sex-ed and exploitation films

When streaming players boast about their huge numbers of channels, I’m generally even less impressed than I am by the “wealth” of offerings on the grossly overpriced wasteland that is cable TV. I have absolutely no use for thousands of impossibly granular channels like The Christian Comedy Channel, Firewood Hoarders, NRA Women, and Cruise Addicts. Those are all real. But in their favor, I don’t have to pay $75 a month to not watch them.

But sometimes, that nanoscopic specificity does pay weirdness dividends. The Shout Factory channel proffered by the music/video label of the same name holds some treasures, as do the handful of channels that compile old cartoons that have passed into the public domain. And not so long ago, I ran across a channel, called Stop It Or You’ll Go Blind!, devoted exclusively to old sex ed films, with some “educational” exploitation thrown in. (Why is “Sex Ed-sploitation” not a term? It’s a thing, it needs a word…)


Unsurprisingly, a lot of these are a riot. There’s “Miracles in Birth,” a graphic depiction of live births shot in grainy black and white so blown-out it looks less like a miracle and more like outtakes from Begotten. There’s “Dance Little Children,” a creepy VD scare flick directed by Carnival of Souls auteur Herk Harvey, which teaches us all a valuable lesson about not letting slimy rich dudes boink us on the first date. The 1938 Sex Madness, Dwain Esper’s follow-up to Reefer Madness is streaming, as is the bizarre Test Tube Babies, a tale of swinging and sterility. And the ‘60s classic “Perversion for Profit” is there, the notorious and INSANE 30 minute anti-indecency screed in which L.A. newsreader/talk show host (and, later, NewsMax columnist *shudder*) George Putnam blames pornographers for everything from juvenile crime to child molestation. The brilliant thing about “P4P” is that if anyone actually held on to even half of the smut rags displayed for *ahem* viewer edification, they could be an eBay millionaire today.
More after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Orson Welles talks about the conspiracy to suppress ‘Citizen Kane’ in 1960 interview
07:08 am


Orson Welles
Citizen Kane

This short interview from 1960 has some fascinating comments from Orson Welles on the uphill battle he faced getting Citizen Kane into theaters. It was often speculated of course, that the titular character was based on publishing mogul William Randolph Hearst, who only exacerbated this notion by using all his resources to try and prevent the film’s release—this is without ever having seen it. (You’d think a strategy of denial might be a little less self-incriminating!) Welles manages to get in a snide jab with: “Kane isn’t really founded on Hearst… in particular,” specifying that Kane was a composite character.

Even more fascinatingly, Welles does not shy from the more explicit politics of the film, admitting “it was intended consciously as a sort of social document, as an attack on the acquisitive society, and indeed on acquisition in general.” This clear critique of power managed to get him branded as a Communist in the states and banned in the Soviet Union—can’t win for losing, I suppose. As it was, Hearst actually did succeed at limiting the run of the film in the US—by a lot. Few theaters even showed the film. The box office numbers suffered, and though Citizen Kane is now considered one of the greats, it damaged Welles’ career from the very start.

Posted by Amber Frost | Leave a comment
Unsettling t-shirts and skateboard decks celebrating 20th anniversary of ‘Kids’
12:30 pm


Harmony Korine
Larry Clark

That startling movie by Larry Clark and Harmony Korine, Kids, turns 20 years old this year, indeed older than all of its characters. It’s rare to see a movie with a worldview this bleak enter the popular discourse so brazenly, and that the movie is just as bracing now as it was then would tend to indicate that the conscious act of infecting someone with a fatal disease is never going to be anything less than a massive attention-getter.

Among its other virtues, Kids introduced the world to such talents as Chloë Sevigny and Rosario Dawson.

Supreme is offering a special suite of skateboard decks and shirts to celebrate the movie. The tees feature the movie’s closing summary statement—“Jesus Christ. What happened?”—on the back. The items are already available in L.A., London, and NYC, and online consumers get their first chance to buy them tomorrow (May 21).

Here’s Supreme’s somewhat literate press announcement:

This year marks the 20th anniversary of Larry Clark’s debut film, KIDS, the portrayal of NYC youth’s escapades in the early 90’s. Some were offended by the raw and anarchic world Larry Clark documented, for those that weren’t, the film became an important document of the time, place and culture.

Through photographing skaters in NYC, Larry Clark came to meet the film’s writer, Harmony Korine and star, Leo Fitzpatrick. The rest of the cast was pieced together with a variety of downtown New York characters including original Supreme team riders Justin Pierce and Harold Hunter. It is a testament to KIDS cultural impact that it resonates today just as much as it did in 1995.

To commemorate the 20th anniversary, Supreme is proud to release a collection of items featuring stills from the iconic film KIDS. The Collection will consist of a Hooded Sweatshirt, Long Sleeved T-Shirt, two graphic T-Shirts, and three Skateboards.







via The World’s Best Ever

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
The Unseen Cinema of H.R. Giger
07:32 am


H.R. Giger

It’s been a year since the amazing Swiss surrealist painter H.R. Giger was lost to us. He was best known for his “Xenomorph” creature design for the film Alien, album art for Emerson Lake and Palmer and Debbie Harry, and for the notorious poster included in Dead Kennedys’ Frankenchrist LP, the utterly preposterous censorship repercussions from which derailed that band’s existence. To mark the first anniversary of his passing, the Museum of Arts and Design, on Columbus Circle in Midtown Manhattan, is hosting a three program festival of Giger documentaries, and rare films to which he contributed design work. The films will run over Memorial Day weekend, with a program on Friday, May 22, 2015, and two programs on Saturday the 23rd. If you’re not a New Yorker, keep an eye out; a traveling version of the festival isn’t out of the question.

H.R. Giger and Debbie Harry, 1981

The Friday 7:00 PM program is notable for its inclusion of A New Face of Debbie Harry, the FM Murer documentary about Giger’s videos for Debbie Harry’s KooKoo LP, and it will be introduced by Harry and Chris Stein. (DM told you about those videos last year.) But even more importantly, it also features Murer’s amazing 1969 film Swissmade 2069. The strange 40-minute work is a look at a dystopian future in which nonconformists and maladapts are exiled to reservations, while valued citizens are subject to insanely granular levels of central planning—right down to actual mind-reading—viewed through the Bolex-lens eyes of an alien visitor, which was designed by Giger (his credit is for “Future-Design”). It’s has never been screened in the USA before, which blew my mind to learn—after the Alien films made Giger famous among civilians, you’d think there’d have been at least an arthouse interest in a prior film with a Giger alien design!

Continues after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Rude, nude and lewd: Lurid 1970s Sexploitation posters
07:29 am



When I was a kid growing up in Edinburgh during the 1970s, I became aware of a cinema called the Jacey on the city’s main thoroughfare Princes Street. It was difficult not to be aware of the Jacey—with its brightly lit foyer, white-painted exterior and beautiful French-styled windows—it looked like some kind of respectable brothel or a dodgy gentleman’s club—which wasn’t too far away from the truth, as the Jacey was an adult cinema showing imported Scandinavian porn and American sexploitation movies.

Outside, directly visible to all passing trade, were small framed windows where customers could view the promotional photographs, lobby cards and posters for the forthcoming attractions. Like many inquisitive schoolboys, I stopped here on the way home from school (for purely educational purposes, of course…) to view the photos of scantily clad men and women in black & white or garish colors frolicking as nature intended. This display became like a kind of barometer for me as it reflected the “atmospheric” changes in public taste for adult entertainment. At first, there was the innocent healthy lifestyle documentaries on nudist camps with fit youngsters playing games, stretching muscles and touching their toes. Then the more specialized films from Sweden with young blondes quieting their existential angst with spontaneous sexual adventures with strangers. Then American movies that mixed bad sex with bad acting and bad dialog. On occasion, there were screenings of arthouse films by Pasolini (Canterbury Tales) and Fellini (Satyricon)—perhaps the titles had suggested more than these films delivered? The Jacey closed around May 1973, its last double-bill was I Am Sexy and Do You Want To Remain a Virgin Forever?

As this “golden age” of seventies blue movies waned there arrived the awful British sex comedies that regularly starred Anthony Booth (father-in-law of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair) and a host of respected character actors (including Beryl Reid, Roy Kinnear and Richard Briers), and even employed the writing skills of Monty Python’s John Cleese and Graham Chapman.

The audiences seemed to change too—from old men to liberated and progressive young couples to teenage boys their first flush of lust. This was a time when virginity was still considered “sacred” and sex before marriage was generally discouraged—which made having a porn cinema on Edinburgh’s most famous and busiest street an odd comment on what was deemed acceptable. Edinburgh was then a very genteel city, and “sex” for most of its middle class citizens was what the coal was delivered in.

Then again, apart form their saucy taglines, most of these films rarely had anything as explicit than can be found on the pages of Tumblr today. This collection of 1970’s sexploitation posters covers all the bases—from nasty stag films, to smut movies starring Batman‘s Adam West, to the saucy comic Brit flicks.
More after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Awesome, totally awesome: They put Jeff Spicoli’s shoes on Jeff Spicoli’s shoes
05:47 am


Jeff Spicoli

Man, when I was a kid EVERYONE wanted a pair of checkerboard Vans just like Jeff Spicoli wore in Fast Times at Ridgemont High. At that moment in time, that was the epitome of cool.

But you know what’s a million times cooler than Jeff Spicoli’s pair of checkerboard Vans?

Jeff Spicoli’s checkerboard Vans on a pair of Vans!

“People on ‘ludes should not design shoes.”
The super-talented Alexis Winslow designed this pair for a charity art show. Her piece, “The Creation of Spicoli,” is a not-so-subtle homage to Michelangelo’s “The Creation of Adam,”  featuring Spicoli as Adam and, of course, Mr. Hand as God.

This pair is hand-painted and hand-embroidered.

The backs of the shoes feature the infamous Fast Times at Ridgemont High quotes, “No Shirt, No Shoes, No Dice,” and “Learn it, Know it, Live it.”

“What are you people? On DOPE?”

The artist’s website is here.

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
Judy Garland speaks YOU SONS OF BITCHES!
01:50 pm


Judy Garland


‘‘I’ve sung, I’ve entertained, I’ve pleased your children, I’ve pleased your wives, I’ve pleased you—YOU SONS OF BITCHES!’’

The 2 CD quasi-bootleg set, Judy Garland Speaks!, has to be one of the single most demented things that a major celebrity has ever left behind for the world to discover several decades after their death. Even people who would normally never care about something Judy Garland-related marvel at the incredible pathos and dark insanity of these tapes, which come off like Garland performing in a one-woman show written by Samuel Beckett.

YES, they are that good.

Recorded between 1963 and 1967 when the great performer was down on her luck financially for the purpose of helping Garland write her autobiography, the tapes are a part of the Judy Garland archive at Columbia University. It wasn’t until Gerald Clarke made use of the recordings in his excellent—and ironically titled—book Get Happy: The Life of Judy Garland in 2000, that they escaped to the outside world.

The tapes start off slow, with Garland, alone, obviously drunk and having a hard time figuring out how to use the reel to reel tape recorder that literary agent Irving “Swifty” Lazar had given her for the task. We hear her confused, turning the machine off and on and addressing it as an “obvious Nazi machine.” Soon, though, she’s drunkenly ranting and raving about her ex-husband Sid Luft (who stuck Garland with his gambling debts), how the entertainment industry has ripped her off, speaking to her frustration at the public’s perception of her problems with drugs and alcohol and generally laying her tormented soul bare in a way that can alternately produce titters of nervous laughter or sorrowful tears in the listener.

More after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘The Ape’: Fake newspaper promotes ‘Planet of the Apes,’ 1968
12:36 pm


Planet of the Apes

Comedian Dana Gould, who might actually be the world’s most fervent Planet of the Apes fan, often says that the appeal of the first movie lay in the fact that it featured “Moses dressed like Tarzan running from King Kong dressed like Fonzie.”

In the run-up to the final episode of Mad Men, AMC generated these self-congratulatory videos in which prominent people gush about how awesome the show is. Gould took advantage of his segment, linked at the bottom of this post, to point out that Mad Men had included the historically accurate touch of Don Draper reading a copy of The Ape in “The Flood,” an episode from Season 6 in which Don takes his son Bobby to see the sci-fi classic (a new movie in the narrative, of course).

Don Draper enjoys The Ape in Season 6 of Mad Men
Yes, it does appear that 20th Century Fox went the extra mile and had fake newspapers called The Ape and Future News printed up. Given the headline on the Future News one, it’s likely that that one was intended to promote Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, which came out in 1972. The idea of a newspaper called Future News (and billing itself as “The Future’s Picture Newspaper”) is pretty hilarious in itself. You know how we all live in the future from the perspective of our ancestors, so we do that all the time too, right? The date on that one is “Monday, May 22, 1992,” which is consistent with the plot of Conquest, which starts out in 1991, but that day was actually a Friday, and most memorable to some people as the final night of Johnny Carson’s tenure as host of The Tonight Show.

Solving the tangled chronology of the Planet of the Apes—even just the first five movies—would take the combined brainpower of MIT, and something similar goes for trying to suss out the details of these promotional newspapers, about which there isn’t very much information online.

Continues after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Dennis Hopper, drunk and stoned with six sticks of dynamite—what could possibly go wrong?
10:12 am


Dennis Hopper

In 1983 Dennis Hopper went to Rice University in Houston, Texas ostensibly to screen his latest film Out Of The Blue. But little known to anyone, other than Hopper and a handful of his buddies, he had another agenda entirely. While he did indeed screen his movie, Hopper had actually come to Houston to blow himself up.

After screening Out Of The Blue, Hopper arranged to have the audience driven by a fleet of school buses to a racetrack on the outskirts of Houston, the Big H Speedway. Hopper and the buses arrived at the speedway just as the races were ending and a voice was announcing over the public address system “stick around folks and watch a famous Hollywood film personality perform the Russian Dynamite Death Chair Act. That’s right, folks, he’ll sit in a chair with six sticks of dynamite and light the fuse.”

Was famous Hollywood personality Dennis Hopper about to go out with a bang?

Hopper apparently learned this stunt when he was a kid after seeing it performed in a traveling roadshow. If you place the dynamite pointing outwards the explosion creates a vacuum in the middle and the person performing the stunt is, if all goes according to plan, unharmed.

After bullshitting for awhile with the crowd and his friends, a drunk and stoned Hopper climbed into the “death chair’ and lit the dynamite.

A Rice News correspondent described the scene:

Dennis Hopper, at one with the shock wave, was thrown headlong in a halo of fire. For a single, timeless instant he looked like Wile E. Coyote, frazzled and splayed by his own petard. Then billowing smoke hid the scene. We all rushed forward, past the police, into the expanding cloud of smoke, excited, apprehensive, and no less expectant than we had been before the explosion. Were we looking for Hopper or pieces we could take home as souvenirs? Later Hopper would say blowing himself up was one of the craziest things he has ever done, and that it was weeks before he could hear again. At the moment, though, none of that mattered. He had been through the thunder, the light, and the heat, and he was still in one piece. And when Dennis Hopper staggered out of that cloud of smoke his eyes were glazed with the thrill of victory and spinout.

In this video footage shot by filmmaker Brian Huberman, we see Hopper in all his intoxicated glory before and after his death defying stunt.

Huberman on the clip:

The large guy making the sign of the cross is the writer Terry Southern and the jerk threatening to blow up my camera is the German filmmaker, Wim Wenders.

Three years later Hopper went on to an equally explosive performance playing one of the most diabolical bad guys in the history of cinema: Blue Velvet‘s Frank Booth.

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
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