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Is this the most depraved toy, ever? Meet the Sinful Dwarf plush doll!
02.13.2016
10:13 am

Topics:
Movies
Pop Culture

Tags:
The Sinful Dwarf


 
When I posted about the oddball/disgusting 1973 Danish cinematic trash epic known as The Sinful Dwarf last year, I started off with the disclaimer that I felt kinda bad for inflicting such a messed-up movie onto our (mostly) unsuspecting and innocent readers, for The Sinful Dwarf is something that, once seen, cannot be unseen.

Here’s a brief synopsis via IMDB:

“Olaf and his mother run a boarding house and a white slavery ring. They also smuggle heroin to keep the addict girls happy so they do not try and escape. A young couple move into the house and the evil landlords take a liking to the female.”

The heroin comes in teddy bears (via a sleazy crook who calls himself “Santa Claus”) and the former showgirl mother—who was burned in a tragic accident the same year her weird lil’ boy was born—is as David Lynch by way of early John Waters (and Bette Davis in Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?) as it gets, with a hefty dollop of Little Edie from Grey Gardens thrown in for good measure. This shit is out there. Even people who quite enjoy especially sick 70s exploitation fare might draw the line with The Sinful Dwarf.
 

 
It’s difficult to find a sleazier, more viscerally disgusting film than The Sinful Dwarf. I’m not entirely sure that one even exists.

Keep reading after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
FOUND! THE TRIPPIEST CAT VIDEO ON THE ENTIRE INTERNET
02.12.2016
11:08 am

Topics:
Animals
Movies

Tags:
cats


 
Okay folks, this post is going to be short and sweet. It ain’t about the words here, friends, it’s about THE TRIPPIEST CAT VIDEO ON THE ENTIRE INTERNET.

“That’s a rather subjective opinion,” you say? But is it really?

Nope! There is no competition. When you click play on the video below, you’ll surely be obliged to agree that it’s hands down THE TRIPPIEST CAT VIDEO ON THE ENTIRE INTERNET.

Because it just is.
 

 
For one thing, it’s probably the single highest-budgeted trippy cat video to be found on all of YouTube, at least one that wasn’t originally made as a TV commercial. Obviously shot on 35mm film, the clip is taken from the Walt Disney movie The Three Lives of Thomasina, which starred Patrick McGoohan, yes he of The Prisoner fame (and director of the rock and roll Othello movie, Catch My Soul). McGoohan plays a bitter widower, a brusque veterinarian who has lost his faith in God after his wife’s death, and been left with raising a young daughter. He does something altogether stupid, which I won’t go into here, that results in her pet cat dying and then we see this kitty’s amazing journey to a wonderful cat heaven.


 
The 1963 film was based on Paul Gallico’s novel Thomasina, the Cat Who Thought She Was God and directed by Don Chaffey, who directed the classic fantasy film Jason and the Argonauts (featuring the stop-motion animation of the great Ray Harryhausen) that same year.

Since all of the felines in this cat heaven are Siamese—sitting at the feet of Bastet, a nice detail—does this mean that Siamese cats are supposed to be like cat angels?

Who knows? Who cares? THIS IS THE TRIPPIEST CAT VIDEO ON THE ENTIRE INTERNET. Just hit play!

The VO here is in Italian, but this is the best quality clip of this on YouTube that I could find and it’s all about the visuals anyway. If you want to hear the VO in English—it’s Thomasina’s “inner voice” describing the heavenward journey “towards the light” and then getting sent back to Earth because it was only her first life (we all know how many lives cats get)—you can listen here.
 

 
H/T Ann Magnuson/Matthew Amato

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Moor, Moor, Moor: Shakespeare’s ‘Othello’ goes 70s rock musical in cult classic ‘Catch My Soul’

Poster Art for Catch My Soul
 
When seeds of malice and deceit are planted, only the worst kind of garden, watered by blood and tears, will bloom. The Ancient Greeks knew this, as did the Bard himself when he wrote his early 1600’s play, Othello. (Which in turn was based on “The Moorish Captain,” a 1565 short story written by Cinthio, an Italian writer and poet. Art, much like an onion and that one book in the Bible that is a series of “begetting,” is a never ending string of inspiration, revisions and occasional outright thievery.) When it comes to this story being adapted for the Silver Screen, most are at least familiar with the 1952 adaptation directed by and starring Orson Welles or the 1995 film starring Laurence Fishburne and Kenneth Branagh. There is one film out of the number of various versions that tends to get left out of the fold, unjustifiably. A film that, while it could have only been born out of the late 60’s /early 70’s, has retained the timelessness of Cinthio and Shakespeare’s tragedy. The film in question? 1974’s Catch My Soul.
 
The devlish Iago
 
Patrick McGoohan, who is better known for his acting work on the classic 60’s TV show The Prisoner (as well as Howard Hughes’ favorite film ever, Ice Station Zebra), directed Catch My Soul, a modern-day musical reworking of the famous tale. Starring legendary folk singer/Woodstock juggernaut Richie Havens as Othello, whom instead of being a general for the Venetian army, is now a man of God baptizing a ragtag group of boho-commune types. There’s the apple of his eye, the meekly boyish Desdemona (a very young Season Hubley) and his righthand man, Cassio (musician Tony Joe White), a former boozer who has found redemption through Christ and Othello himself. But there’s a snake in the land of pure love and spirituality in the form of Iago (Lance Legault), who, along with some help from his wife Amelia (the eternally inimitable Susan Tyrell), plots and plants assorted seeds for Othello’s hellish downfall.
 
Othello confronts Desdemona
 
Catch My Soul manages to nail all the things that were right about some of its cinematic peers (ie. Norman Jewison’s Jesus Christ Superstar or David Greene’s Godspell, both of which came out the year before) and mercifully escapes a number of their flaws. Thanks to McGoohan’s able direction, writer Jack Good’s script and the impeccable camerawork by Conrad L. Hall, the film never slips into any dated hippie-dippy cliches and retains the gravitas of the original source material. Even better, the religious angle is heavy but without claw-hammering the audience. Catch My Soul is interesting for many reasons and this is one of the strongest ones. It is a tale of sadness, loss of faith, love punctured and spirituality without becoming a full blown “religious” film. Which is one of the things that undoubtedly hurt the film’s chances of success during its initial theatrical release. Not religious enough for the hardcore fundamentalist crowd and too strange for the rest. A modern-day musical re-telling of Shakespeare’s Othello with a spiritual tint starring Richie Havens and Susan Tyrell is a film that in a just world should sound immediately appealing to most, but this existence’s version of justice is about as moth-eaten and flimsy as ¾ of Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber’s work.
 
Iago plants further seeds of destruction
 
In further injustice, Catch My Soul never even warranted a home video release via VHS, Beta, Laserdisc or DVD. That is, until very recently, via Etiquette Pictures and their beautifully remastered Blu-ray release. (See? Some things do right themselves out… you just may have to wait a few decades for the scales to balance.)

The music is solid, which is a no-brainer given that, in addition to Havens and White (who had a big hit in ‘68 with “Polk Salad Annie”), the film also features such noted musicians as Delaney and Bonnie Bramlett, as well as Billy Joe Royal (of “Down in the Boondocks” fame). Interestingly enough, it is Legault who does the lion’s share of the singing and he not only brings it vocally, but makes for one of the most manic and intense Iagos in recent memory. He plays Iago as if the man himself is literally the Devil. Charismatic even when covered in sweat and dirt and soot and frightening as the awareness that the only demon living in Iago’s fevered, poxed soul is the one in his mind, Legault is stellar. For a man who got his start as a stunt double for Elvis, later on starred in The A-Team and worked as a lounge singer, where is his documentary? Someone needs to plant that seed and soon.
 
Continues after the jump…

Posted by Heather Drain | Leave a comment
Behind-the-scenes photos of Stanley Kubrick’s ‘A Clockwork Orange’
02.11.2016
12:55 pm

Topics:
Movies

Tags:
Stanley Kubrick
A Clockwork Orange


 

“I’m going out with my droogs to the cinny to shove a pooshka into the grahzny bratchny.”

A roundup of some behind-the-scenes photos from the set of Stanley Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange, 1971. Like Cure videos and cute cat memes, there is a seemingly bottomless well of Kubrick memorabilia on the Internet. His films will still be discussed, debated—and still WATCHED—500 years from now.

“Viddy well, little brother. Viddy well.”


 

 

 

 
More after the jump…
 

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
‘Plain Janes’ need not apply: Women in movie screenplays are invariably described as ‘attractive’
02.11.2016
11:42 am

Topics:
Feminism
Movies

Tags:
feminism
screenwriters


Dr. Christmas Jones (Denise Richards) in ‘The World Is Not Enough’

By now, a great many movie fans are familiar with the Bechdel Test, a thought exercise developed by cartoonist Alison Bechdel and her friend Liz Wallace that appeared in Bechdel’s comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For in 1985. In its common form, a movie passes the Bechdel Test if two named characters converse about any topic other than a man. Depressingly, as we’ve all learned, many movies have a hard time meeting even that low bar.

Another common area of irritation for women in films is casting. It’s far harder for an older woman to succeed as an actor than it is for a man, because casting personnel will tend strongly to populate every female role with younger women. One of the reasons Hollywood casts younger women is that younger women are perceived as more attractive, which gets us to the topic of this post.

A producer named Ross Putman has started an amusing Twitter account designed to point some obvious inequities in the ways characters in movies are apportioned.

Putnam’s Twitter account the parts of certain screenplays in which a major female character is introduced, pointing up how lazily, reflexively, automatically such characters are described as attractive, smoking hot, pretty, etc., whether it makes sense in the role or not. Here’s Putnam’s description of the project:
 

These are intros for female leads in actual scripts I read. Names changed to JANE, otherwise verbatim. Update as I go. Apologies if I quote your work.

 

After reading several of these tweets, one begins to wonder what’s motivating the (presumably) men who write this stuff.

James Bond movies are famous for being populated with sexy women for Bond to fuck, but in 1999’s The World Is Not Enough, one of four indistinguishable James Bond movies featuring Pierce Brosnan, they went over the line, creating a character called Dr. Christmas Jones, who is a nuclear physicist played by Denise Richards.

For the record, here’s how Christmas Jones is described in the screenplay
 

Moving fast, off comes the helmet to reveal a BEAUTIFUL AMERICAN GIRL. CHRISTMAS JONES is mid-twenties, shortish hair, hot right now.  In one movement she unzips and steps out of the suit, revealing a khaki sports bra, cut-off shorts, heavy duty boots.  A nasty-looking hunting knife strapped around her hips.  She has a deep tan and an incredible figure.

 
This character stretched credulity to the point that Canada’s National Post called her character one of the “ten worst moments in the history of James Bond on film.”

Anyway, here is a sample of some of Putnam’s JANE tweets:
 

 

 
More tweets about JANE and how attractive she is after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘The Unlimited Dream Company’: Essential video portrait for J.G. Ballard fans
02.09.2016
12:41 pm

Topics:
Books
Movies

Tags:
J.G. Ballard


 
In 1983 a director named Sam Scoggins made a 23-minute movie with the title The Unlimited Dream Company; the film gestured at being an adaptation of J.G. Ballard‘s 1979 novel of the same name but is actually something far more compelling, an experimental profile of Ballard himself with some of the most fascinating footage ever taken of the writer.

You couldn’t ask for a more thorough examination of Ballard’s themes, work, and bio in 23 minutes. The movie alternates between footage of Ballard himself speaking and strange clips accompanied by clinical extracts from The Atrocity Exhibition read by Julian Gartside. Sometimes Ballard’s comments also receive a filmic accompaniment. In his own comments, Ballard discusses his childhood in Shanghai and describes in some detail a car crash he experienced, an event that occurred, curiously, after Ballard had written Crash.
 

 
A lengthy treatment of The Unlimited Dream Company appeared in RE/Search #8/9: J.G. Ballard, which you can read here. What follows is just a portion:
 

There are two main types of material intercut in the film:

1) A big close-up of Ballard’s face. He talks, looking straight at the camera,

2) Ballard’s alter ego wearing a ragged flying suit wanders through “Ballardian” landscapes and in each makes a portrait of Ballard from things around him.

The landscapes are:

a) The jungle (past). He makes a portrait from feathers.

b) Motorway/Scrapyard (present). He makes a portrait from crashed cars.

c) The Beach (future). He draws a huge spiral in the sand.

These sections were shot in black and white, then printed each in a different monochrome, i.e. a green, b) red, c) blue.

 
The enthralling core of the movie is unmistakably “(v)”, which is described thus: “A 6 min. duration very slow zoom in from a head and shoulders shot of Ballard to a very large close-up of his right eyeball. Off camera a voice asks the 90 questions from the Eyckman Personality Quotient, each of which Ballard answers Yes or No.”

This section in some quarters bears the title “Answers Given By Patient J.G.B. To The Eyckman Personality Quotient Test.” (A commenter points out, its actual name is the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire.) It’s reminiscent of the Voigt-Kampff test from Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, adapted in 1982 by Ridley Scott as Blade Runner. It’s a six-minute shot in which the camera slowly zooms in on Ballard’s left eye (the above synopsis has the eye wrong) during which the writer gives candid answers to questions such as these:
 

Are you an irritable person? No
Have you ever blamed someone for doing something you knew was really your fault? No
Do you enjoy meeting new people? Yes
Do you believe insurance schemes are a good idea? Yes
Are your feelings easily hurt? No
Are all your habits good and desirable ones? No
Do you tend to keep in the background on social occasions? Yes

 
Keep reading, after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘A Fistful of Dollars’ vs. ‘Yojimbo’ is one BADASS Supercut!

01fistyojim.jpg
 
Sergio Leone’s A Fistful of Dollars (1964) was a western remake of Akira Kurosawa’s samurai classic Yojimbo from 1961. When the Italian director first saw Kurosawa’s tale of a rōnin (Toshiro Mifune) arriving in a small Japanese town where two rival gangs fight for supremacy sometime back in 1963, he was so impressed he thought it would translate into a good cowboy film. Unfortunately, Leone failed to secure the movie’s remake rights which led to his company being sued by Toho Productions. This delayed the American release of A Fistful of Dollars for three years. The lawsuit was eventually settled out of court for an undisclosed sum
 

 
But Yojimbo was not a truly original story, either. Kurosawa later admitted his movie had been loosely based on the film version of Dashiell Hammett’s crime novel The Glass Key from 1942. More recently, some film writers have pointed out Yojimbo bears an even greater similarity to another of Hammett’s books The Red Harvest—the story of his anonymous Continental Op. working in a town controlled by one kingpin who is battling many other smaller gangs.

Leone used many of Kurosawa’s plot devices in A Fistful of Dollars, with an unnamed anti hero (Clint Eastwood) arriving in a small desert town where two rival gangs fight for its control.

In Kurosawa’s film the town is split between two corrupt families vying for control—three brothers versus a husband and wife. Kurosawa also has other characters and background stories with the gangs hiring loutish mercenaries to do their bidding.

In A Fistful of Dollars the gangs are identified as two families—the Baxters who deal in guns and the Rojos who smuggle liquor. Apart form these two groups, the town appears to be almost deserted with few people other than an undertaker and a barman.

Kurosawa offered a comedy on social manners and the hierarchy of class in Yojimbo. This is not present in A Fistful of Dollars. Leone turned everything up to eleven making the film operatic in its style yet at the same time incredibly austere.

In Yojimbo the lead villain has a pistol. In A Fistful of Dollars he has a Winchester rifle—used to kill any enemies with a bullet to the heart. This leads to a key scene at the film’s denouement.
 
Continue reading after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
For $400 a night, you can rent this literal ‘Netflix & Chill’ room on Airbnb
02.08.2016
02:22 pm

Topics:
Movies
Science/Tech
Sex

Tags:
Netflix
Netflix & Chill


 
Someone clever on Airbnb is renting out what looks to be a pretty ordinary NYC apartment space in Manhattan’s West Village as a “Netflix and Chill” room. To quote their ad: “We bring the famous ‘Netflix & Chill meme’ to life and offer it as an IRL experience that people can rent for a night.” So they can binge watch. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

The fundamentals for a night of movies and sex are all present, including a laptop, an HD projector, a bed with cute Netflix bedspread and pillows, a “fully stocked” mini-fridge containing champagne and various other types of alcohol, and so on. There’s also a nice shower.
 

 
Remarkably, there’s no mention of prophylactics in the ad, which would at least have been self-aware considering that some of the earliest invocations of the phrase “Netflix and chill” (going back a whopping two years now) used visuals of condoms in order to get the cheeky point across.

Continues after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
David Bowie’s first-ever movie performance, in the creepy ‘The Image’ from 1967
02.08.2016
08:07 am

Topics:
Movies
Music

Tags:
David Bowie


 
In the February 26, 1966, edition of Melody Maker, David Bowie is quoted as saying, “I want to act. ... I’d like to do character parts. I think it takes a lot to become somebody else. It takes a lot of doing.” In hindsight we know that Bowie not only achieved his goal of acting in movies and on the stage, but ended up becoming one of the most distinctive presences you could include in a movie from the 1970s to the 2000s, from Just a Gigolo and Into the Night to Merry Christmas, Mr. Lawrence and The Prestige....

But it all had to start somewhere. Bowie’s ambitions started to be realized very quickly; already in 1967 he appeared in his first movie, a fourteen-minute short called The Image, written and directed by Michael Armstrong, who would later direct Mark of the Devil.

Michael Byrne, the other actor in the movie, apparently played Nazis all the time, most memorably in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, but to me he’ll always be the actor who played young Peter Guillam in the 1980 BBC version of Smiley’s People, replacing Michael Jayston, who had embodied the role in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

According to Cinebeats (now defunct), The Image ran into some censorship issues:
 

The Image was shot in just three days and completed in 1967, but it didn’t have its official screen debut until 1969. Due to the violent content of the film it became one of the first shorts to receive an ‘X’ certificate from Britain’s notoriously restrictive film rating’s board.

 
The artsiness is a bit dated to be sure, but otherwise the movie reminds me of Edgar Allan Poe by way of The Twilight Zone, which isn’t a bad place to be.
 
Continues after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Beyond the Valley of the Lurid Exploitation Film Posters of the 50s, 60s & 70s
02.05.2016
04:16 pm

Topics:
Art
Drugs
Movies
Sex

Tags:
posters


Night Tide

A Lovecraftian poster for an odd 1960s mermaid thriller starring Dennis Hopper with a freaky cameo appearance by Marjorie Cameron, the bohemian witch of Los Angeles.

This is a sampling from a private collection of rare, massive 40” x 60” posters that were printed on cardstock for drive-In movie theaters.  More posters and related merchandise are online at hautecampe.com (“Archeaologists of the Strange”).  All are for sale at auction until February 8, when the bidding closes.

Haute Campe offers a collection of original rare, vintage film posters from the 1940s-1970s originating mostly from drive-ins and grindhouse theaters. Most of the posters went through a single distributor called National Screen Service, hence the “property of N.S.S.” at the bottom of 99% of the movie posters printed in the 20th century!  While many posters were destroyed by the elements and others were pulled off the wall by collectors, a great many returned to the distributor’s archives and piled up for many many years. 

We were fortunate enough to be able to acquire a large part of the archives and the treasures were fantastic, including rarely-seen posters that were for small run promotions and exceedingly impossible to find sizes like the gorgeous and massive 40” x 60” silkscreens created for drive-in movie theaters.

This is a selection from the latter part of the alphabet. You can see A to N at an earlier post here.
 

Ordered to Love

An American distributor purchased a historical film and repackaged it as a Nazisploitation thrill; the fact that the movie was years old at this point was sold to the audience as the film having been “censored until now!”
 

Please, Not Now!

A towel-clad Brigitte Bardot stuns in this incredible 1961 Pop Art poster.
 

Rasputin the Mad Monk/The Reptile

A giant poster advertising a 1966 Hammer double-feature where theatergoers would get their own Rasputin beard!
 

Runaway Daughters
 
More after the jump…
 

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
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