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Frank Frazetta wasn’t all Sword & Sorcery, he painted some classic movie posters too
04.14.2017
10:01 am

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1whatsnew65.jpg
“What’s New Pussycat?” 1965.
 
It was a painting of Ringo Starr that changed Frank Frazetta‘s life. Frazetta was a comic strip artist contributing to EC Comics, National Comics (later known as DC Comics) and Avon Comics. He was drawing Buck Rogers, Li’l Abner, Johnny Comet and helping out on Flash Gordon. Occasionally he would supply his talents to MAD magazine. That’s how he produced a painting of Ringo Starr for a spoof shampoo ad for the magazine. The picture caught the attention of PR guys at United Artists who commissioned Frazetta to produce the poster artwork for their Peter Sellers, Peter O’Toole, Woody Allen film What’s New Pussycat? For one day’s work, Frazetta earned his annual salary. It changed his life. The success of What’s New Pussycat? led to further poster commissions for a whole slate of movies: After the Fox, The Fearless Vampire Killers, The Night They Raided Minsky’s and The Gauntlet.

The movie work led to book cover work. He painted some of the most iconic covers for Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan and John Carter novels. And most famously redefined Conan the Barbarian as a bulging muscled, rugged behemoth. Frank Frazetta created a whole world of these Sword and Sorcery paintings which defined the genre and became synonymous with his name.

However, I do prefer Frazetta’s movie poster artwork which beautifully captures the whole joyful spirit of the swinging sixties, before progressing towards his more recognizable style in the seventies and eighties.
 
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Frank Frazetta’s painting of Ringo Starr for MAD magazine 1964.
 
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“What’s New Pussycat?” 1965.
 
More fabulous Frank Frazetta movie posters, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Stanley Kubrick’s last-minute alteration to the end of ‘The Shining’
04.13.2017
04:04 pm

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Movies

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Stanley Kubrick’s 1979 movie adaptation of Stephen King’s The Shining continues to exert unusual power over audiences, as seen in many ways, most notably the appearance of a film several years ago named Room 237 dedicated to elaborate fan notions of the movie that strayed well into conspiracy theory terrain.

Many have called attention to Kubrick’s mastery over “the uncanny” to explain the movie’s grip on us. Narrative elements (as well as geography and architecture) don’t add up, there is an excess of production skill over narrow plot points as Kubrick allowed horror tropes free rein. It’s perhaps not surprising that Kubrick himself didn’t treat the substance of the movie with great care, according to the movie’s executive producer Jan Harlan:
 

Very often crew members asked [Kubrick], “Can you explain that to me?” And he said, “I never explain anything, I don’t understand it myself. It’s a ghost film!” You can’t imagine how much fuss was made over the big golden ballroom and the big lobby and huge windows that could never have fit into the hotel [based on the] establishing shot from outside. Any child can see that. And Stanley’s explanation was, “It’s a ghost film! Forget it!” … It’s not a movie with a serious message.

 
Kubrick’s adaptation of King’s novel was notably “free” and did not adhere strictly to the text, which made for a complex screenwriting process in which the status of a great many important plot resolutions were up in the air until the very end of post-production, indeed even after the movie’s release.
 

 
Anyone who’s seen the movie will remember the ending, which transitions from a lengthy chase sequence in the snowy hedge maze to a modified zoom shot that reveals the existence of Jack Torrance, played by Jack Nicholson, in a banquet decades earlier.

But the first audiences experienced a very different ending of the movie. Between those two shots was an entire scene that Kubrick cut from the movie after audiences in New York City and Los Angeles had seen it, as Lee Unkrich of The Overlook Hotel website describes:
 

Kubrick decided to remove the scene very shortly after the U.S. opening, dispatching assistants to excise the scene from the dozens of prints showing in Los Angeles and New York City. All known copies of the scene were reportedly destroyed, although it is rumored that one surviving copy may exist.

 
In the scene, which takes place a few weeks after the final chase, Ullman, the hotel manager we meet at the start of the movie, visits Danny and Wendy in the hospital where both are recovering. The significant thing here is that audiences get a chance to see that the two of them are OK, a reassurance denied most of the people who’ve watched the movie since then. Ullman explains to Wendy that investigators have not been able to uncover the slightest evidence of anything supernatural in the hotel. Before he leaves, according to the script, Ullman tosses Danny a “yellow ball,” presumably the same ball that was rolled to him from an unseen force outside Room 237 about halfway through the movie.

Diane Johnson, who co-wrote the movie with Kubrick, recently commented: “In other words: All of this really happened, and the magic events were actual. It was just a little twist. It was easy to jettison.”

The scene was cut on a suggestion from Warners, which felt that it was too confusing. Kubrick complied with the request. Here’s Harlan’s take:
 

The tennis ball is the same thing as the photograph — it’s unexplainable. It makes Ullman now another ghost element. Was he the ghost from the very beginning? The film is complex enough because nothing is explained. That non-explaining is what was bad for the film initially. It was not a huge success. Now everybody thinks it’s the best horror film ever or whatever. But when it came out the audience expected a horror film with a resolution, with an explanation. Who is the baddie? What was going on? And they were disappointed — many of them, anyway. The fact they were left puzzled was exactly what Stanley Kubrick wanted. And when the film [screened for critics] and wasn’t well received, Warners quite rightly suggested, “It’s enough, just take [the hospital scene] out.” So Stanley did it. He’s not stubborn, especially since this is a film mainly to entertain people. But Stanley was actually very sad that he misread the audience, that he trusted the audience to live with puzzles and no answers, and that they didn’t like it.

 
Personally, I think the scene was removed because audiences hadn’t had the first ball emphasized enough for them to realize the implications of Ullman having the same ball with him (and therefore being a ghost or something). After all, Torrance spends a lot of time throwing a ball against the banquet room wall, too. That meaning implied by the ball was too weak for the requisite “Aha!” moment to register; that would have required dialogue about the ball (“But where did the ball come from, Danny?”) or perhaps repeated instances of mysterious events related to the ball, as of way of lodging it in the audience’s memory.

Less commented upon was the apparent inclusion, at least at the script stage, of a lame caption before the end credits:
 

The Overlook Hotel would survive this tragedy, as it had so many others. It is still open each year from May 20th to September 20th. It is closed for the winter.


 
I think all observers can agree that it was good that that isn’t in the surviving version…...

Here are the script pages for the deleted scene:
 

 

 

 

 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
The opera based on Stephen King’s ‘The Shining’
04.12.2017
03:05 pm

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Last year the Minnesota Opera showcased the world premiere of a new opera based on Stephen King’s famous novel The Shining, the starting point for an unsettling adaptation by Stanley Kubrick starring Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall. 

The operatic version was composed by Paul Moravec with a libretto by Mark Campbell. Moravec won the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 2004 for his work Tempest Fantasy.

The opera is an adaptation not of Kubrick’s movie but of King’s book—although the movie, firmly embedded in the minds of virtually everyone in the audience, will surely have an effect. As an example, the famous words “Here’s Johnny!,” shouted by Nicholson’s Jack Torrance in a moment of frenzy, is not in the novel and thus does not appear in the opera either. King has never had any affection for Kubrick’s version of his novel, so it’s noteworthy that the prolific author “maintained libretto approval and gave Campbell the green light 24 hours after receiving the final version.”

The Shining capped off the Minnesota Opera’s 2015-2016 season, with the premiere taking place on May 7, 2016.

The reviews have been respectful to more than respectful. In the magazine Opera News, Joshua Rosenblum was effusive about the production, saying that “Moravec proves to be a masterful musical dramatist.” He added that “Brian Mulligan does the seemingly impossible—he actually makes you forget Jack Nicholson” and that “watching Vega’s Danny step slowly toward the bathtub with the drawn curtain in the forbidden room 217 was as riveting as anything I’ve ever seen in a theater. “

Fun fact: Rosenblum did not mistype Room 237, nor did the librettist commit a flub—in King’s novel the locus of dread is actually Room 217.
 

 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
Topless crocheted finger puppets of Tura Satana, Wendy O. Williams, Siouxsie Sioux & other bad girls
04.12.2017
06:23 am

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A shot of a crocheted Tura Satana finger puppet (in the image of Tura’s character from the 1968 film ‘The Astro-Zombies’ playing behind her on the television) by Galen Djuna Green.
 
So I have some good news and some bad news about the strange, crocheted little finger puppets in this post made by artist Galen Djuna Green. The good news is that as recently as last year Green was offering her topless finger puppets for sale on her Etsy page Galendjuna Knitty Titties. So what’s the bad news? Well, there aren’t any up for sale currently on the page. Which is really sad as Green’s naughty knitted bad girls are rather covetable.

I will say this—since the Knitty Titties page is still active that *may* indicate that Green is still taking orders for past designs or new custom requests. Which I really hope is the case as some of her past finger puppets include Siouxsie Sioux, Wendy O. Williams, Kembra Pfahler (The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black), a few fantastic drag queens and an uncanny likeness of Tura Satana based on her “Satana” character from the 1968 film The Astro-Zombies (pictured at the top of this post). Tiny Tura’s little pink top even comes off! I’ve posted a number of images below of Green’s puppets which while small, clearly have big attitudes. They are also very NSWF much like the ladies they are based on themselves.
 

 

 

Wendy O. Williams.
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
‘Jigoku’: The brilliantly grim Japanese horror film about Hell
04.11.2017
07:37 am

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A promotional image for the Japanese horror film ‘Jigoku’ from 1960.
 
Also known under its alternate title of “The Sinners of Hell,” Jigoku was directed by Nakagawa Nobuo. An idiosyncratic man who was often referred to as “the Alfred Hitchcock of Japan,” Nobuo was known for wearing traditional wooden Japanese footwear (or getas) which are supported by horizontal platform wooden slabs on the soles, around the set of the film, which while a bit strange paled in comparison to the terrifying, gory and very weird things that happened on screen.

Jigoku takes a cue from the real life murder case of Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb. The pair were two rich white college students who murdered a fourteen-year-old boy after planning what they referred to as “the perfect crime” for months. The case was also used as a plotline for both Hitchcock’s 1948 film Rope and Richard Fleischer’s 1959 film Compulsion starring Orson Wells and Dean Stockwell. Though the title of the film seems somewhat straightforward, it is anything but. At its heart, it is a sordid tale of guilt and remorse and how our actions in life may well be predictors for what will be waiting for us once we’ve passed into the great beyond. Nobuo’s narrative also follows along with the various regions and consequences associated with the multiple levels of the Japanese conception of Hell, which is an incredibly complex topic to try to explain on its own. One of the reasons I love this movie so much is the fact that it plays out much like a classic horror film. You know, bad things happening to bad people after they do bad things. There’s even a scene that had me recalling one of my favorite horror films, 1980’s grossly unappreciated Motel Hell. Other Japanese horror films that would also take notes from Nobuo’s Jigoku include the 2002 film Ju-On: The Grudge.

Jigoku was the ninth film in a series by Nobuo with Shintoho, one of the largest film studios in Japan. Shintoho’s primary source of revenue was producing genre specific exploitation films. In a strange twist, the studio found itself almost completely broke during the filming. Although shooting was expedited to help cut costs, some of the actors were actually enlisted—or forced—to dig holes on the set for themselves (!) for an unsettling scene that will stick with you like the fake, red gore that gets slung around throughout the film. By the time Jigoku was released, Shintoho had gone bankrupt. This fantastically gross and frightening film was the subject of a great documentary from 2006 titled Building the Inferno: Nobuo Nakagawa and the Making of ‘Jigoku’ which I highly recommend you seek out after first successfully seeking out Jigoku. I’ve included a number of remarkable stills from the film below. Pretty much all of them are NSFW. YAY!
 

 

 

Remember those holes that the actors had to dig for themselves on the set of ‘Jijoku?’ Here’s one of them with the actor inside having his makeup done.
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Skate decks with photos of Björk, Beastie Boys, Sonic Youth & more taken by Spike Jonze
04.10.2017
11:21 am

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The Björk skateboard deck from Girl. Part of a new series featuring photographs taken by Spike Jonze. Available here.
 
So far there are five different skate deck designs that are a part of a Photos by Spike collaboration between skateboard company Girl and director Spike Jonze. The boards feature the beyond cool shot of Björk (seen above) taken by Jonze, and another that pays homage to the Beastie Boys who appear in character as seen in the 1994 “Sabotage” video (directed by Jonze) that is forever burnt into our collective consciousness.

All of the decks in the group are quite different looking. Both the Sonic Youth and Nirvana decks utilize black and white photos, while the image of Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs lounging on the bottom of her deck is vibrantly colorful as is the yellow skate deck itself. Jonze’s relationship with Girl goes back to at least 2007 when he co-directed a film on the company, Yeah Right. However, the director’s love of skateboarding goes even further back than that as his very first film, Video Days was about, you guessed it,skateboarding. Each sweet deck will run you about $50. I’ve posted photos of all the decks below for you to see below as well as some footage from Video Days.
 

The Sabotage deck.
 

Sonic Youth.
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
‘The Shining,’ A Clockwork Orange,’ ‘Scarface’ & more become Ottoman miniature style works of art
04.10.2017
08:46 am

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A scene from ‘A Clockwork Orange’ in the style of an “Ottoman miniature” painting by artist Murat Palta.
 
Artist Murat Palta has created a fantastic series of works in which he juxtaposes a famous scene from a well-known film with the style of an “Ottoman miniature” painting. The results may alter a viewer’s perception of said films as Palta’s subjects wear expressionless faces in his paintings—despite (for the most part) being stuck in the midst of all kinds of fictional chaos and mayhem.

Hailing from Turkey, Palta’s first cinematic/Ottoman mashup from 2011 combined characters and scenes from Star Wars and received so much attention that he decided to take on a few other memorable movie scenes. Such as the bloodbath at the House of Blue Leaves in Kill Bill, Jack Nicholson’s door-smashing mental breakdown in The Shining and a scene from A Clockwork Orange where the Droogs and Alex DeLarge (played by Malcolm McDowell) put the boot in on a homeless man just for, ahem, kicks.

I think it’s a pretty safe bet that you’re going to dig Palta’s paintings as much as I did. You can also view them in more detail over at Palta’s “Classic Movies in Minature Style” page on Behance. That said, some might be considered slightly NSFW.
 

‘Alien.’
 

A closer look at the famous “chestburster” scene in ‘Alien’ from the painting above.
 

‘Scarface.’
 
More minatures after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Super rare David Bowie promotional items from the 70s and 80s
04.07.2017
07:34 am

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An image of David Bowie used for a poster put out by RCA Japan in 1980. Bowie was in Japan filming a television ad for Takara Shochu “Jun” Sake. The image was later recycled for the sleeve for the 1980 Japan exclusive instrumental single “Crystal Japan.”
 
I recently came across some pretty amazing images of David Bowie that were taken for various promotional endeavors in the 70s and 80s. Some were a part of press kits assembled for various films featuring The Thin White Duke, some from his record marketing collateral as well as some incredibly rare posters that were only released in Japan and the UK. Some of the scarce items showcased in this post include promotional “mobile displays.” Here’s the thing about mobile displays, since they were made in super small quantities and most ended up getting carried off or ruined by wear and tear, they are incredibly difficult to come by. Especially if it happens to involve David Bowie. They also tend to be expensive when you do find them/

A few of the photographs and other ephemera I’ve posted below are actually for sale at collectibles site Rock Explosion though some contain the requirement that you inquire as to their cost—and you know what that means. If you have to ask, you probably can’t afford it. So in light of that, I suggest that you kick back and enjoy looking at our dearly departed David below.
 

BBC publicity photo of Bowie from the production of Bertolt Brecht’s ‘Baal’ taken in 1981.

 

An almost unrecognizable Bowie in a promotional poster for the EP release of ‘Baal,’ his last with RCA, 1981.
 

A cardboard standup display of Bowie holding a glass of milk for ‘Young Americans’ 1975.
 
More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Ultraviolence and absurdity: Takashi Miike’s masterpiece, ‘Dead or Alive’
04.07.2017
06:20 am

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With over one hundred directorial credits, Takashi Miike’s career could be considered a monster success based on his productivity alone, but the prolific filmmaker has also managed to create a handful of the most challenging and important movies of the past twenty years.

His best works showcase an ability to shift from extreme ultraviolence to heartstring-tugging tenderness, while peppering the narratives with completely outlandish and absurd situations. Though Miike’s films do not conform to any particular style in the way that, say, David Lynch’s films are Lynchian or Quentin Tarantino’s films are Tarantino-esque, Miike’s films could only have been made by Miike, and if there’s such a thing as a Miike style, it’s his flippant disregard for “the rules” in a completely uncontrived way. This anarchic disregard is, perhaps, best exemplified in the batshit ending to his 1999 masterpiece Dead or Alive, which gets a welcome re-release next week as part of a completely tricked-out Blu-Ray box set from Arrow Video.
 

 
Dead or Alive was produced the same year as Miike’s Audition, the film that really put him on the map for US audiences, which is, in my humble opinion, one of the top 10 horror films of all time and another astounding rulebreaker (the first half of one of the most disturbing horror films ever made is essentially a rom-com!). Someone new to Miike’s work would be best served to begin with both Audition and Dead or Alive, as well as Ichi the Killer, The Happiness of the Katakuris, and Visitor Q—with the warning to be prepared for graphically disturbing situations and imagery.

Dead or Alive is my favorite Miike film because it works so well as a gritty, straightforward, ultraviolent gangster movie, but injects completely left-field situations of a highly disturbing nature (like a conversation that takes place on a bestiality porn set, with a supporting character acting as the dog’s “fluffer,” and another brutal scene involving a young woman meeting her demise in a kiddie-pool filled with her own feces). The film works because it hits all the genre convention notes pitch-perfectly, before completely subverting them.

Dead or Alive contains one of my favorite opening sequences from any film ever and an ending that is so utterly fucked up and stupid—to the point where the viewer wonders if the entire film was an elaborate “Aristocrats” type joke set-up for the impossibly surreal punchline—that it leaves most first-time viewers jaws on the floor. I place it in my top five most awesomely WTF movie endings, right next to Dellamorte Dellamore, Sleepaway Camp, Christmas Evil, and The Last American Virgin—but Dead or Alive‘s ending out fucks-up all of those fucked up endings. The aforementioned opening sequence to Dead or Alive is a brilliant piece of highly stylized editing, that on first viewing seems utterly chaotic and disjointed (though it makes perfect sense upon subsequent viewings). The sequence should be required viewing for any film student.

The new BD release of Dead or Alive (available for pre-order HERE), comes in a set with the sequels (in name only) Dead or Alive 2: Birds and Dead or Alive 3: Final. The two hard-nosed lead actors, Shô Aikawa and Riki Takeuchi, are the common thread, tying the series together. Though inferior to the first film, the sequels certainly have their merits and points of high absurdity. The third film, unfortunately, suffers from having been shot on (standard definition) video, though indeed many of Miike’s finest works as a director have been shot on video. This new release joins the superb Miike Black Society Trilogy boxset that Arrow released a few months ago.

After the jump, watch the genius opening scene to ‘Dead or Alive.’ Stylistically, completely ahead of its time, and absolutely perfect. Check out that 20-foot-long cocaine rail…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
Rock music or Jesus? The choice is yours!
04.06.2017
10:06 am

Topics:
Belief
Movies
Stupid or Evil?

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If you are relatively sane and not prone to low-watt brainwashing, you may be unaware of the vast library of Christian propaganda films out there. One of America’s most profitable and least-known cottage industries, these micro-budgeted religious epics had their heyday in the 70’s and 80’s when Midwest-based Mark IV Productions created their twelve-year Thief in the Night quadrilogy, a series of end times films featuring dead-eyed, polyester-clad actors moping their way through The Rapture. These films were shown to impressionable kids at Bible study classes and probably turned thousands of otherwise normal humans into conservative, sex-negative Jesus zombies. Made for pocket change, these films grossed millions. They are still be shown and sold today and paved the way for the even more profitable Left Behind series a couple decades later.
 

 
Christian propaganda films loved warning teenagers about the dangers of basically everything. Satan lurked on every corner, always looking for a way to break into the lucrative teen market. Sex, drugs, booze and the perils of disobeying your parents were popular subjects, but even listening to the radio was cause for concern. Which brings us to 1982’s awkwardly titled Rock: It’s Your Decision. Directed by John Taylor (not the Duran Duran guy, obviously, but how great would it be if it was?), Rock tells the story of Jeff, your average American teenager who goes to school and church and does whatever society tells him to. His only vice is the bullshit generic MOR rock he blasts on his stereo. But even that is too rebellious for his mom, who snitches on him to his church pastor, who challenges Jeff to give up rock n’ roll for a month. The pastor gives him a few choice tapes from his Christian pop collection to tide him over, though.
 

A glimpse into some of this film’s action-packed moments.
 
Once Jeff gives up rock music, he starts to realize just how fucked up and evil it was all along. How? By misinterpreting Santana lyrics (it goes “You’ve gotta change your evil ways,” dummy) and audience reactions (Jeff thinks swaying along to the music is some kind of thought control). He throws his best bud out of the house for digging Billy Joel and Lynyrd Skynyrd too much, and refuses to take his feather-haired blonde girlfriend to the unnamed “rock show”. He even heads down to the record store to bully people out of buying tasty rock n’ roll jams. What a jerk! In essence, Jeff becomes an insufferable asshole without rock music. He’s even worse to his mother now, accusing her of hypocrisy because of her soap opera addiction, and his climactic anti-rock rant at church even throws some homophobia (and Barry Manilow and fucking Captain and Tennille) into the mix.

Watch this shit, after the jump…

Posted by Ken McIntyre | Leave a comment
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