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‘Look, they’re crucifying Him! And nobody cares!’: When Charlie Chaplin met Igor Stravinsky


 
For a couple of years when I was a little kid—before I discovered rock music, so like 3rd and 4th grade—I collected Charlie Chaplin movies that I purchased on 8mm film from Blackhawk Films. Blackhawk sold newsreels of the Hindenburg disaster and WWII along with the public domain silent horror films of Lon Chaney and comedies by Chaplin, Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd. Blackhawk advertised in comic books, Famous Monsters of Filmland and in a nostalgia magazine my grandfather used to read (I wish I could recall the name of it, I’d buy every issue on eBay). I sent for their free catalog. The price of the Chaplin shorts ranged from like $7.98 to $14.98 which was an astronomical amount of money at that time, for someone who was eight years old, or otherwise. When I say “collected,” I probably had like seven Chaplin shorts that I got from Blackhawk. I’d tell my parents and grandparents just to give me money for Christmas and birthdays so I could order them. A $10 reward for a good report card meant another Chaplin film. I would screen them in my parents’ basement on a moldy-smelling Westinghouse 8mm projector my father had long ago lost any interest in.

I was really, really Chaplin obsessed. I still am to this day.

Charles Chaplin’s My Autobiography was published by Simon & Schuster in 1964, when the great man was then in his seventies and living a life of comfortable exile at Manoir de Ban, a 35-acre estate overlooking Lake Geneva in Switzerland, having been pushed out of Hollywood during the Red Scare. It’s one of the most extraordinary books that I’ve ever read. The first portion of the book describes, in brutal detail, the life of crushing Dickensian poverty that Chaplin and his brother Sydney were thrust into when their mother—who’d gone mad from syphilis and malnutrition—had to drop them off at the pauper’s workhouse, unable to care for herself, let alone them.

Chaplin’s remarkably beautiful prose is nothing short of heartbreaking. It’s not just the harsh Victorian circumstances he’s describing that are so excruciatingly Dickensian, it’s the quality of his writing as well. My Autobiography starts off exactly like a lost novel by Charles Dickens, and indeed there is probably no greater true life rags to riches story that has ever been told in the entire history of humankind. Chaplin went from being an innocent young boy who’d had his head shaved and painted with iodine for a lice treatment (there’s a group shot in the book that will hit you in the gut) in the lowest of circumstances to being the most famous man in the world just a few years later. It’s one of the best books that I’ve ever read and it’s one that will still be read long into the future as long as we don’t go the way of Planet of the Apes.
 

Stravinsky takes a spin on a hoop contraption that Chaplin had built at his Beverly Hills home.
 
And speaking of our puzzling new Bizarro World national reality, there’s an anecdote that happens later in Chaplin’s book (pages 395-397) where he writes about a meeting that he had with Russian composer Igor Stravinsky where he proposed a collaboration between them. It was sometime in 1937. War had yet to be declared, but something very dark was happening in the world.

I was thinking about this over the weekend, and how potent this imagery is in Donald Trump’s America:

While dining at my house, Igor Stravinsky suggested we should do a film together. I invented a story. It should be surrealistic, I said—a decadent night club with tables around the dance floor, at each table, greed, at another, hypocrisy, at another, ruthlessness. The floor show is the Passion play, and while the crucifixion of the Saviour is going on, groups at each table watch it indifferently, some ordering meals, others talking business, others showing little interest. The mob, the High Priests and the Pharisees are shaking their fists up at the Cross, shouting: “If Thou be the Son of God come down and save Thyself.” At a nearby table a group of businessmen are talking excitedly about a big deal. One draws nervously on his cigarette, looking up at the Saviour and blowing his smoke absent-mindedly in His direction.

At another table a businessman and his wife sit studying the menu. She looks up, then nervously moves her chair back from the floor. “I can’t understand why people come here,” she says uncomfortably. “It’s depressing.”

“It’s good entertainment,” says the businessman. “The place was bankrupt until they put on this show. Now they are out of the red.”

“I think it’s sacrilegious,” says his wife.

“It does a lot of good,” says the man. “People who have never been inside a church come here and get the story of Christianity.”

And the show progresses, a drunk, being under the influence of alcohol, is on a different plane; he is seated alone and begins to weep and shout loudly: “Look, they’re crucifying Him! And nobody cares!” He staggers to his feet and stretches his arms appealingly toward the Cross. The wife of a minister sitting nearby complains to the headwaiter, and the drunk is escorted out of the place still weeping and remonstrating, “Look, nobody cares! A fine lot of Christians you are!”

“You see,” I told Stravinsky, “they throw him out because he is upsetting the show.” I explained that putting a passion play on the dance floor of a nightclub was to show how cynical and conventional the world has become in professing Christianity.

The maestro’s face became very grave. “But that’s sacrilegious!” he said.

Continues after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Rabies-infected acid-head hippie-gore Satanist masterpiece ‘I Drink Your Blood’ splats again!
11.21.2016
08:53 am

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“Let it be known, sons and daughters, that Satan was an acid head. Drink from his cup. Pledge yourselves, and together we’ll all freak out.”

So opens 1970’s gore shocker I Drink Your Blood, with it’s Manson-esque satanic hippie cult—a cult who was written into the picture, after the first draft of the script, to exploit the nation-wide hysteria surrounding the Tate-LaBianca murders in 1969.

Allegedly, the first film to receive an “X” rating due to violence rather than sex, I Drink Your Blood is the story of a group of acid-dropping satanists who wreak havoc in a small town until a local boy serves them meat pies he’s injected with rabid dog’s blood in retaliation for the cult raping his sister and dosing his grandfather. Soon the devil-worshiping hippies all become rabid, mouth-foaming, bloodthirsty zombie maniacs and go on a berserk killing spree, infecting everyone in town with rabies.

The movie is just as batshit as that description sounds. How could it not be?
 

 
The film was shot in Sharon Springs, NY which was practically a ghost-town at the time of filming. The production paid $300 for use of a run-down hotel which was scheduled for demolition. The crew ended up doing much of the demolition themselves during the course of the filming. According to the film’s director, David E. Durston, tensions ran high in the small town where the locals seemed to feel as if the actors in the film were actually for-real satanic hippies. These misunderstandings culminated with the locals calling the sheriff after witnessing Durston “motivating” actress Iris Brooks for an emotional scene. Luckily no one was arrested, and filming was allowed to resume, giving us the masterpiece that still shocks to this day.
 

 
Boutique label, Grindhouse Releasing, is issuing a new deluxe Blu-ray version of I Drink Your Blood this week with a bunch of killer extras including one of the best horror movie tie-in gimmicks since the Sinful Dwarf‘s Torben doll.

The limited release of I Drink Your Blood includes a “horror hypo” which you can use to draw out rabid dog’s blood to infect your friends!
 

Dog’s blood rising.
 
In addition to the “horror hypo,” and the HD restoration of the uncut print of I Drink Your Blood, the set includes an informative commentary track with director David Durston and star Bhaskar, four never-before-seen deleted scenes, interviews with Durston, and stars Lynn Lowry, Tyde Kierney, and Jack Damon.

This set also features a stunning print of the not-often-seen I Eat Your Skin, which was famously paired on a double-bill with I Drink Your Blood on the early ‘70s drive-in circuit. I Eat Your Skin is, arguably, a bit of a snoozer, but for me it was cool to see a movie that I had previously only ever read about.
 

 
One of the real treats to Grindhouse’s set is the inclusion of director David Durston’s long-lost X-rated psychedelic thriller, Blue Sextet, which has previously never seen a home video release. Though it’s far from being a masterpiece, Blue Sextet does have its moments of wild imagery, that make it worth viewing.

Grindhouse has provided Dangerous Minds with this exclusive clip:
 

 
I Drink Your Blood remains a shocking and highly unusual film with performances that rise above the film’s low budget and campy storyline. I had the opportunity a few months back to see it in a packed theater, with about three-quarters of the audience having never previously seen it. People were screaming. It’s a testament to the theory that the only bad movies are boring movies.

And I Drink Your Blood is ANYTHING but boring.

More after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
Kurt Cobain’s horror movies
11.18.2016
01:02 pm

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In 1984 Kurt Cobain was 17 years old and bursting with creative adolescent energy. He was already friends with Krist Novoselic and Dale Crover, who a year earlier had formed the Melvins with Buzz Osborne and Matt Lukin, best known today as the bassist for Mudhoney.

One of the things they liked to do together was record footage in a horror movie style—it’s doubtful that they had any concrete designs to put a movie together; more likely they were play-acting as much as anything else. It’s not a “horror movie” as much as a bunch of unconnected shots cobbled together into a kind of “horror home movie.”

The two most memorable moments on the video are a few shots of Cobain wearing a Mr. T mask and worshiping in front of a pentagram, and another handful of shots in which Cobain pretends to slash his own throat and wrists, fake blood and all. That last section has earned the tape an alternate title of “Kurt’s Bloody Suicide,” which as you’ll see below is rumored to be Kurt’s own title, but Dale Crover dismisses the notion. If not, it’s of questionable taste given Cobain’s actual demise in 1994 by his own hand.

Mike Ziegler, once described as possessing “an arsenal of Nirvana recordings that goes unparalleled by any trader in the universe,” once asked Crover about the “horror movies.” Here is the substance of that conversation:
 

Ziegler: Do you happen to remember what the title of the movie was called? I’ve heard rumors from people that Kurt said the movie was titled “Kurt’s Bloody Suicide.”
Crover: I’m sure that there was no title. We were just fucking around with a camera.
Ziegler:  So… what the hell is up with the Mr. T scene in the beginning. Whose crazy mind thought that one up?
Crover: The Mr. T Idea just developed as we shot it. Krist filmed while I held the lights. Kurt made the satanic altar and played Mr. T. I think I manned the vacuum cleaner for the coke snorting scene. We were going to do more but never finished.
Ziegler: What did you use to record it?
Crover: Novoselic’s super 8.

 
Keep keeping after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Lucifer Rising live in concert: Watch Bobby Beausoleil perform his Kenneth Anger soundtrack, 1978
11.16.2016
12:28 pm

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You can buy a signed replica of this jacket on Kenneth Anger’s website

After Kenneth Anger fired Jimmy Page from his long-delayed Lucifer Rising film project and then publicly bad-mouthed the Led Zeppelin guitarist during a bitchy press conference, the magus of cinema turned again to imprisoned Manson Family member Bobby Beausoleil, who had been his original choice to record the film’s music. This was before the two had a falling out in 1969 and before Beausoleil was charged with the murder of music teacher Gary Hinman over a drug deal gone bad. He’d been in prison since 1970, but when he’d heard that Anger had sacked Page, Beausoleil contacted Anger to inform him that he had the means (and the latitude from a liberal warden at Tracy Prison) to be able to record the soundtrack.

The extraordinarily weird music Beausoleil produced with his Freedom Orchestra (which also included another imprisoned Manson Family member Steve “Clem” Grogan on guitar) matched Anger’s occult vision perfectly, producing a stunning masterpiece. Additional music recorded by Beausoleil and the Freedom Orchestra was released as a box set in 2005 as The Lucifer Rising Suite (Original Soundtrack and Sessions Anthology) and is highly recommended.

Yesterday some video appeared on Bobby Beausoleil’s YouTube channel of an astonishing live performance by the Freedom Orchestra at Tracy Prison contemporaneous to when they were actually recording the Lucifer Rising soundtrack. Some of what was performed here, I believe is exactly what we hear on the soundtrack. Last month, Beausoleil, currently serving his life sentence in the California Medical Facility in Vacaville, had another bid for parole denied by the California Parole Board. He’s now 69 years old.

If you are a Kenneth Anger fan, prepare to have your fucking mind blown, after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Behind the scenes with John Waters, Johnny Depp, Iggy Pop and Traci Lords on the set of ‘Cry-Baby’
11.14.2016
01:20 pm

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The fulcrum of John Waters’ career is Hairspray, the PG-rated 1988 crossover hit that made it possible to discuss his movies in, erm, “polite society.” Before Hairspray he was a scourge, after it he became America’s favorite dirty uncle.

This news report of the filming of Cry-Baby, Waters’ 1990 follow-up to Hairspray, is unimaginable without the success of its predecessor. Shooting for Cry-Baby took place in the spring and summer of 1989 in and around (where else?) Baltimore. The photo above was likely taken during the shoot, as Johnny Depp turned 26 in June of 1989.

The voiceover blandly calls Waters “a poor man’s Barry Levinson gone berserk,” which seems highly questionable to me. Aside from their hometowns, Levinson and Waters have little in common.

The segment features a couple of great quotes from Waters:
 

“It’s the same kind of movie. It’s a John Waters film. There’s puke in it, you’ll be happy to know.”

“Some older woman came up to me in the supermarket and said, ‘I love all your films!’ I said, ‘You do not!’”

 
Priceless stuff.

According to Wikipedia Cry-Baby was the only movie of Waters’ career that went through a bidding war, based on the success of Hairspray. But then Cry-Baby didn’t make its $12 million budget back, and that was the end of the bidding wars for John Waters.

I’d bet anything that the Cry-Baby set was a fun place to hang around. You had Waters and Depp, of course, but also Ricki Lake, Iggy Pop, Traci Lords, Patricia Hearst, Susan Tyrrell, and Willem Dafoe, and that’s not even getting into Waters’ usual supporting players. After the video we’ve supplied some groovy pics taken while the shooting of the movie was in progress.
 

 

 

 
Much more after the jump….....
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘The Love Witch’: Sex magick meets pussy power in occult movie mindbender
11.11.2016
02:07 pm

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Feminism
Movies
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Pop Culture

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On its beautiful 35mm Technicolor surface, Anna Biller’s The Love Witch appears to be a spot-on replication of horror and sexploitation movies of the 1960s and 70s. Imagine a Hammer film directed by Radley Metzger or Russ Meyer’s Beyond The Valley Of The Dolls featuring witches instead of an all-girl rock band. Biller’s film also recalls devilish delights like Juan López Moctezuma’s Alucarda, Jimmy Sangster’s Lust For A Vampire and just about anything directed by Jean Rollin. But Biller’s cinematographer M. David Mullen eschews shooting in the ocher and crimson hues of the Hammer films or soft focus of Rollin and goes for a luminescent style that evokes Frank Tashlin’s use of primary colors with their cartoon clarity, or one of Aleister Crowley’s paintings. Though Biller herself would tell you she wasn’t influenced by the movies that The Love Witch seems to be paying homage to there is an undeniable aesthetic connection between The Love Witch and dozens of Italian giallos as well as the films and directors I’ve already mentioned. If Biller hasn’t seen those films or is reluctant to spend time discussing her influences in interviews it’s because, in my opinion, she doesn’t want The Love Witch to be classified as some kind of camp artifact but seen as a very modern take on pussy power. In her movie, no one grabs these witches by the pussy and lives to joke about it.
 

 
The Love Witch is a perfect film for these times. As we’ve seen women rising to political power and female artists dominating the music charts and directing major films, we’ve also seen a sexist backlash that hasn’t been this virulent in decades. Our culture still demonizes women who are unafraid to assert themselves through their politics, art, bodies and minds. Strong women are called loud, shrill, bitches. The perception on the part of many men (and some women) is that these successful women got to where they are because they’re good at manipulation, skilled in using their female powers, their cunning. That their success isn’t earned. That they fucked their way to the top, using their feminine wiles to get what they wanted. The classic depictions of women in film noirs of the forties and fifties are back in the form of modern day femme fatales who scheme like Hillary Clinton and beguile like Beyoncé. [For some bone-chilling sexism and racism check out the ‘net response to Beyoncé‘s appearance on the Country Music Awards.]
 

 
The Love Witch is feminist fairy tale that uses the past to reflect on the moment. Within its B-movie trappings, it poetically probes the backlash that occurred when women broke free from sexual oppression during the go-go sixties and how that freedom resulted in a whole new set of problems. Every gesture of openness and sexuality could be misread as a come-on, a seduction, an unspoken “yes.” The Love Witch takes place in 1971 and I remember well when women started going bra-less and wore mini-skirts and let their hair grow long and free. Sexual liberation was fine in theory. But in practice women who expressed their new-found freedom by wearing what they wanted, walked and talked like they wanted, sent a message to men that was misread. Suddenly liberated women were perceived as easy targets. Outside of communities of young, intelligent and sensitive people, free sex wasn’t free. It often carried a high price. The Love Witch is not a horror movie in the conventional sense. But it is horrifying to be reminded of how women have been persecuted since Biblical days right up until now for enjoying their bodies and sexuality. They’re dangerous, they’re from Hell, they’re witches and must be burned on the stake of religion, fear and cultural oppression. A free woman is a threat to the fragile male sense of superiority. Men have done everything they can to keep women under control. Even demonizing them to the point that executing them was acceptable. Male strength is predicated on the subjugation of women. And when women rise up, men become desperate and in desperation they reveal their weakness. The woman who resists male dominance is evil, possessed, a witch.
 

 
Now I realize that I’m making The Love Witch sound like a diatribe against men. It isn’t. It’s a very sly comedy that uses the idea of witchery as a metaphor for pussy power unleashed. The whole movie is as nutty and fruity as a bag of Freudian trail mix. Interpretation is more than welcome, it’s almost obligatory.  Magic potions are created by combining female urine with used tampons—Trump’s worse menstruating Megyn Kelly nightmare. Smoking beakers filled with witches brews of day-glo chemicals could be the bubbling components for birth control concoctions, abortifacients and hallucinogenics. Keys to open the castle doors. After all, wasn’t it the pill and psychedelics that helped free our bodies and minds? Wouldn’t a love witch want to spread the good vibes? Oh, those devilish witches with their magic elixirs.

New age homilies and hippie dippy black magic circle jerks are wonderfully skewered on Biller’s sardonic pitchfork. Scenes have the drug panic of a Dragnet episode. And at times the movie’s like what you’d get if The Wicker Man was a Wicker Woman and lived in Topanga Canyon next door to the Mod Squad. But that’s just part of it. Imagine Hitchcock’s Marnie starring Anton LaVey and The Shangri-Las as Marnie’s multiple personalities. No, that’s not it either. Maybe if Hogtied magazine had sex with an Archie comic and gave birth to a slew of demonic Barbie Dolls dressed in leather and latex? Or maybe just a frugging Anaïs Nin bobblehead?
 

 
What happens when the power between yin and yang shifts and sugartits pulls a metaphoric gun on the guy with his hands on the steering wheel? Biller is both playful and deadly serious in scenes where burlesque dancers bring howling men helplessly to their knees with a mere thrust of the pelvis and witches with Bobby Gentry bouffants reduce men to sobbing little boys who quiver in the wake of the all powerful energy of the sorceress. In these moments of masculine meltdowns I can hear the pathetic voice of Frank Booth sobbing the word “mommy” between each inhalation of his witch’s brew. And off in the distance where the sun bleeds into the desert, Tura Satana is going Jackie Chan on a truck driver with a porn ‘stache.

The film is deep and deeply twisted. There’s a renaissance fair in The Love Witch that looks like the commune scene in Easy Rider directed by Alejandro Jodorowsky while tripping on Orange Sunshine. It’s fucking out of this world wacky. I think there’s even a Unicorn. Or was I hallucinating?
 

 
Continues after the jump…

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
Beyond Good & Evil: Behind the scenes of ‘The Night of the Hunter’
11.08.2016
01:30 pm

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Robert Mitchum played a “diabolical shit” in The Night of the Hunter. Mitchum was Harry Powell—a twisted serial killer who disguised himself as a fire and brimstone reverend to find the location of some stolen loot. In order to get to it, Powell has to marry Willa Harper (Shelley Winters) and become the stepfather to her children—John (Billy Chapin) and Pearl (Sally Jane Bruce). It soon becomes obvious that Powell is not going to be married for very long.

Upon its release, The Night of the Hunter was reviled by critics and audiences alike. The press hated everything about it. They hated the script by novelist and poet James Agee. They loathed Robert Mitchum’s “hammy” acting. They denounced Charles Laughton for his weird, bizarre and utterly perverse direction. They decried his deliberate use of movie sets to tell his story. They also hated his use of black and white film. This was the Technicolor fifties, they said, the nuclear age of rock ‘n’ roll, hula-hoops, Cinemascope, and drive ins. This was no place for a ramped-up Southern Gothic melodrama. Audiences agreed and the film tanked at the box office.

It was actor Charles Laughton’s first and only film as director. The negative reviews hurt so much that he abandoned any hope of opening up a new career as Hollywood director. The screenplay was adapted by James Agee from the novel by Davis Grubb. Agee was the screenwriter of The African Queen and had written the text to accompany Walker Evan’s ground breaking photographs in Let Us Now Praise Famous Men.  Agee died not long after the film was completed. The story of The Night of the Hunter had been inspired by the case of the real life serial killer Harry Powers who murdered two widows and three children in the 1930s. Powers sought out his victims through the ads in newspapers lonely hearts’ ads.
 
001nighthunter.jpg
 
Robert Mitchum was convincingly deranged as Powell in The Night of the Hunter. His hands were tattooed with “LOVE” and “HATE” above the knuckles—as his character explained in the film:

Ah, little lad, you’re starin’ at my fingers. Would you like me to tell you the little story of Right Hand-Left Hand - the story of good and evil?

H-A-T-E! It was with this left hand that old brother Cain struck the blow that laid his brother low. 

L-O-V-E. You see these fingers, dear hearts? These fingers has veins that run straight to the soul of man. The right hand, friends! The hand of love!

Now watch and I’ll show you the story of life. These fingers, dear hearts, is always a-warrin’ and a-tuggin’, one agin’ the other.

Now, watch ‘em. Ol’ brother Left Hand. Left hand, he’s a-fightin’. And it looks like LOVE’s a goner. But wait a minute, wait a minute! Hot dog! LOVE’s a winnin’? Yes, siree. It’s LOVE that won, and ol’ Left Hand HATE is down for the count!

Many a young punk was said to have copied Mitchum’s homemade LOVE/HATE tattoos—no doubt as badge to their stupidity. Laughton originally wanted Gary Cooper to play the evil reverend—but he nixed the idea on the grounds it would damage his good guy image. Mitchum was far less precious. He jumped at the chance to play Powell—allegedly fighting off interest from both Laurence Olivier and John Carradine. Mitchum was unforgettable—a performance only rivalled by his later turn as Max Cady in Cape Fear.

Laughton cast Shelley Winters as the pivotal character Willa Harper—whose murder leads Mitchum to chase her children across the country. Winters gives a restrained performance that only emphasizes the horror of her misfortune. The children were played by Billy Chapin and Sally Jane Bruce. Laughton had considered his wife Elsa Lanchester for the role of the old woman who protects the children from Mitchum. Lanchester suggested he try silent movie star Lillian Gish—a perfect choice for such a strange, disturbing and dreamlike movie.

Filmed in the Fall of 1954, Laughton created an unforgettable Expressionist style—imbued with menace and filled with allegory—along with the cinematographer Stanley Cortez—cameraman from Orson Welles’ The Magnificent Ambersons and later Sam Fuller’s classic Shock Corridor.  The film had a budget of around $800k which meant they were unable to film on location—hence the use of indoor film sets—something Laughton used to great stylistic effect. Today The Night of the Hunter is considered a classic—one of the Library of Congress’ films deemed “culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant.”
 
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Robert Mitchum with director Charles Laughton.
 
017nighthunter.jpg
 
More behind the scenes photos from ‘The Night of the Hunter,’ after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Marc Bolan, Andy Warhol, Joan Jett & other famous folk with their dogs, for your election 2016 blues
11.07.2016
09:35 am

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A young Joan Jett and an adorable dog. Jett has gone on to dedicate much of her life to animal advocacy.
 
If you’re a jittery bag of nerves with questionable sleep patterns thanks to the fucking fiasco that is the Presidential Election of 2016, then I hope this post will help restore some of your faith in humanity. At least temporarily.

As the title indicates I’ve culled some images of famous people and their dogs that I’m quite sure will get you to your “happy place” pretty quickly. At the very least it will briefly distract you and keep you from checking the latest statistics over at Fivethirtyeight or wherever it is that you happen to be getting your political updates these days. Until this all blows over (if in fact it ever does) I’d keep this post close by for when you need to talk yourself out of moving to Canada, moving underground or perhaps relocating to the fucking moon. Honestly, if photos of Marc Bolan and David Bowie cradling adorable canines doesn’t help restore your pulse to a more reasonable rate, I’m not sure anything will. Hang in there kittens, it’s almost over!
 

Marc Bolan.
 

David Bowie and a wee little Scottie, 1980. Photo by Duffy.
 

The band Queen and their four-legged canine pal.
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Public Image Ltd met with Martin Scorsese about doing the ‘Raging Bull’ soundtrack
11.04.2016
08:56 am

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Public Image Ltd live at the Palladium, NYC, April 20, 1980 (photo by Rob Pistella via Fodderstompf)
 
I confess that I haven’t yet read Jah Wobble’s autobiography, Memoirs of a Geezer, though it’s been sitting on my desk for a month. If I’m apprehensive, it’s only because the last book I read with as promising a title was I, Shithead, and that turned out to be a disappointment because Joey Shithead only has nice things to say about people.

But Martin Scorsese’s name did jump out as I was turning the pages of Wobble’s book, trying to figure out why some paragraphs are set in italics (as below). I didn’t solve that mystery, but I did learn that Scorsese met with Lydon and Wobble about recording the soundtrack to Raging Bull. One can only begin to imagine what a different movie Raging Bull would have been with a soundtrack by Metal Box-era PiL in place of the one Robbie Robertson produced.

Wobble says Scorsese was in the audience at Public Image Ltd’s first New York show, the start of a two-night engagement at the Palladium in April of 1980. And suddenly they were having a showbiz meeting in Marty’s penthouse, and Marty was giving a manic reading of Harry Lime’s famous monologue from The Third Man:

Martin Scorsese was making a film, Raging Bull, and he wanted to have a meet in regard to us doing the soundtrack. I went to meet him with John. We ended up sitting in a penthouse apartment with Scorsese; because of the combination of my first-ever jet lag, speed comedown, booze and general tour weirdness, I was very spaced out (I think I must have had a puff as well). My memory is a bit hazy, but I seem to remember that John left soon after we arrived with some biggish geezer who worked for Scorsese. I don’t know where they went. They may well have explained where they were going, but in the state I was I in I probably just grinned inanely at them. So anyway, I was left in the apartment with Scorsese. I was very happy because the bloke was an absolute hero to me. Taxi Driver, as far as I was concerned, was a masterpiece. Paul Schrader wrote the incredible screenplay. Apparently, Schrader was brought up in a strictly Calvinist household, and didn’t see a movie until he was eighteen; he’s a very interesting bloke. The soundtrack by Bernard Herrmann is also something I never tire of.

Scorsese was a like a cat on a hot tin roof, just couldn’t sit still. He was jabbering away like crazy. I recall him beckoning me to the window. He pointed down at the people milling around on Broadway. (We were several floors up in a skyscraper.) He asked me if I would care if ‘one of those little “dots” suddenly stopped moving’. I immediately knew what he was on about; he was reciting Orson Welles’ speech from Carol Reed’s adaptation of Graham Greene’s The Third Man, the one where Orson is on the Ferris wheel and goes on about ‘the Renaissance’, ‘cuckoo clocks’, ‘the Borgias’ and ‘Switzerland’. Basically Scorsese did a performance. He was very wired and his delivery was far more urgent and imploring than Orson’s. His face was no more than two feet from mine.

I certainly wasn’t disappointed with Scorsese, he more than lived up to any expectations that I had. To tell the truth I don’t like all his films but when I do I love them; Taxi Driver, GoodFellas, Casino, Last Temptation and Kundun are the ones for me.

I can’t remember how the encounter ended, but eventually John came back. I dimly remember Raging Bull being discussed, the storyline and all that. I don’t think they showed us scenes from the film or anything. I vaguely remember thinking that they weren’t really serious. Anyway, we never did the soundtrack for Raging Bull.

More after the jump…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
A bloody feast: Herschell Gordon Lewis box set is a fitting tribute to the late ‘Godfather of Gore’
11.04.2016
08:40 am

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Scene from Herschell Gordon Lewis’ 1963 “Blood Feast”
 
This September horror and exploitation film fans mourned the death of the “Godfather of Gore,” Herschell Gordon Lewis.

Lewis, originally known as a producer of “nudie” pictures in the early ‘60s, became a horror trailblazer with 1963’s Blood Feast, considered to be the first “gore” film. That film about an Egyptian caterer who prepares a feast of human body parts became a drive-in sensation and was quickly followed up by the hillbilly splatter epic Two Thousand Maniacs and Color Me Blood Red, the story of an artist who paints in human blood.

Lewis continued to direct outrageous low-budget films into the early ‘70s, including the splatter classics The Wizard of Gore and The Gruesome Twosome as well as other types of non-gore exploitation fare such as the biker girl-gang flick She Devils On Wheels and the juvenile delinquency opus Just For the Hell of It

Lewis’ Blood Feast was completely ground-breaking for its time, bringing the Grand Guignol tradition of blood and guts to the screen, and setting the stage for the new era of splatter horror which didn’t really come into its own until the late ‘70s. The film’s villain, Fuad Ramses, was the original machete-wielding maniac.

An unbelievably jam-packed box set of Lewis’ films was announced by Arrow Video last July in a limited edition of 500 copies and despite the hefty price tag, I found myself pre-ordering the thing right away. I was planning to review the set upon release, not knowing that Lewis would die a couple of months later and that the set would actually completely sell out before I got my copy.

The full Shock and Gore set is truly a wonder to behold and I don’t really want to rub it in to our readers just how cool this out-of-print beast is. Though anyone who reads about this and just HAS TO HAVE ONE, can probably find one on the second-hand market. Be warned, they are selling for about double the original cost (as of this writing, there are copies on eBay for around $500).
 

The box is bigger than a human head.
 
There IS, however, a lighter version of the set, without the books and barf bags and poster reproductions, and fake eyeball, that just contains the fourteen films. It’s called The Feast and is still currently available for under $160.

I’ll tell you right now, the price tag is TOTALLY worth it if you are a fan. The fourteen films, Blood Feast, Scum of the Earth, Two Thousand Maniacs, Moonshine Mountain, Color Me Blood Red, Something Weird, The Gruesome Twosome, A Taste of Blood, She Devils on Wheels, Just For the Hell of It, How to Make a Doll, The Wizard of Gore, This Stuff’ll Kill Ya, and The Gore Gore Girls are all presented in the best transfers available with an insane amount of extra features including loads of bonus interviews and documentaries on Lewis’ career.

The death of Lewis in September makes this release all the more important, and one hopes that he died knowing so much love was going into a retrospective collection of his life’s works. I’ve only waded about a quarter of the way into these discs, but so far I’m extremely impressed with the quality of the transfers on some of these films which have always looked bad on video releases. Granted, some of the original prints are messed up beyond repair (lots of scratches on The Gruesome Twosome print, for instance), but on a film like She Devils on Wheels there’s a night-and-day difference between what I’d previously seen and the new transfer. I’ve watched that film a dozen times from a dub I had of the original VHS release. I always assumed the film had kind of a sepia look to it. No sir, this thing is in blazing Eastmancolor in all of it’s magnificently over-saturated glory. Watching that film on this set was like seeing an entirely different movie.

The Feast box is limited to 2,500 copies and hasn’t sold out yet, but I seriously wouldn’t sleep on this if you are a fan.

Continues after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
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