By forming in 1973, Cabaret Voltaire managed the neat trick of embodying and codifying many of the aesthetic tropes, sounds, and strategies of post-punk before punk existed in the first place, serving as an indisputable influence on both the industrial noise and industrial dance scenes. A 1981 break with founding member Chris Watson saw the band turn away from difficult-but-rewarding noise to embrace New Wave accessibility. Remaining original members Stephen Mallinder and Richard Kirk continued to make excellent records through 1985, but by 1987’s Code the band had been far surpassed by its own imitators, and soon they’d be nakedly trying to retain relevance by glomming on to acid house. Watson went on to work as a recording engineer and make strange music with the wonderful Hafler Trio, a project that long remained as archly experimental and fascinating as CV were in the beginning.
But before Watson left, and while CV were still about utter disregard for pop norms, they recorded a warped and delirious version of Isaac Hayes’ theme song from the film Shaft. Session details aren’t easy to come by, but it was recorded sometime during the Voice of America/Red Mecca era, 1980/81ish. It wasn’t released until 1988s excellent Eight Crepuscule Tracks compilation, which collected early CV work recorded for the Les Disques du Crépuscule label (“Twilight Records,” roughly), a still-extant Belgian imprint once associated with Factory Benelux.
The song indulges in some cheeky humor not typically associated with the often rather grim early industrial scene. It’s almost entirely built on samples, looping the song’s distinctive guitar intro, horn, and flute themes for just about ever, and piling snatches of film dialogue atop that bed, forecasting by almost a decade the short-lived House fad for novelty tracks built on movie dialogue samples. The result is at once ominous and darkly comical.
The remake was later included on the 1991 album Moving Soundtracks Volume 1, a terrific Crépuscule compilation of film music covers made by its associated artists. It’s hard to come by; the easier-to-find 2008 reissue, disappointingly, does not include “Theme from Shaft.”
For your enjoyment, Isaac Hayes’ indelible original after the jump…
Nirvana fans worldwide were devastated, when on April 8th, 1994, Kurt Cobain was found dead. Adding to the distress, it was revealed he took his own life, dying from a self-inflicted shotgun wound. Over 20 years later, a new documentary, Soaked in Bleach, examines the possibility that Cobain’s shocking death wasn’t due to a suicide, but a homicide.
Largely told through information provided by private investigator Tom Grant, writer/producer/director Benjamin Statler takes another look at the case. Grant was hired by Cobain’s wife, Courtney Love, in April 1994, supposedly to find Kurt after he went missing following a stint in rehab. Almost immediately after taking the case, red flags started popping up, and Grant began recording all the conversations he had with Love and others. Statler airs selections from those audio recordings, along with interviews with Grant, various law enforcement experts, and friends of Cobain’s, taking the viewer down a path that is revelatory and often chilling. I was surprised to learn of all the myths we’ve taken as truth in regards to the crime scene, how much the media played a role in disseminating this misinformation, and just how badly the Seattle police department bungled the case. Statler also filmed several recreations, and while such a technique can often appear cheesy and cheap looking, here they are highly effective and stylistically pleasing.
Kurt in 1994
So if Kurt Cobain was murdered, who did it and why? In Soaked in Bleach, all roads lead to Courtney Love. Kurt was planning to divorce her and was drafting a new will at that time of his death; the two had signed a prenuptial agreement and Courtney had a lot to lose financially if the couple divorced. She’s portrayed, often through recordings of her own voice, as being highly manipulative and contradictory. In the documentary, she’s all but accused of orchestrating Cobain’s murder, which will surely be a stretch for many, while others will find it impossible to deny the possibility after watching the film. It’s worth noting that Love has yet to file a defamation lawsuit against Statler, nor Grant, who’s been pursuing the case, publicizing his findings—and his interpretations of those findings—for decades. (including his appearance in Nick Broomfield’s Kurt & Courtney documentary of 1998). Her lawyers did send Statler cease and desist letters and recently threatened theatre owners set to screen Soaked in Bleach, but no further action was taken.
Kurt and Courtney
Though the documentary is one-sided, and Statler doesn’t offer conclusive proof of foul play, what’s presented does raise many questions. One indication that Kurt’s death may have been a homicide is the unusually large amount of heroin found in his bloodstream. In the below clip from Soaked in Bleach, the query is put forth that if Kurt did inject the quantity of heroin that’s been stated (the toxicology report is still sealed by law), how could have he possibly fired that shotgun?
Soaked in Bleach will be released on DVD on August 14th. Watch the trailer and pre-order the disc via MVD or Amazon.
Prior to my first viewing of Eraserhead, I was warned I’d be horrified and repulsed beyond all belief. Instead, I was stricken with maternal concern for the sickly “baby,” and afflicted with sympathetic anxiety for its suffering parents; as far as I was concerned, David Lynch had created an avant-garde family melodrama, albeit in the aesthetics of a particularly affecting dark and morbid surrealism. Knowing now that Lynch had a toddler during the making of the film lends some credibility to my interpretation. Lynch’s portrayal of “children” is obviously pretty damned disturbing, but I’d argue his more horrifying use of kiddies comes from his 1968 short, “The Alphabet.”
This partially animated experimental film was inspired by the young niece of Lynch’s wife Peggy—the child had been reciting the alphabet in her sleep during a nightmare. Lynch painted Peggy white and filmed her in a room painted black for optimum eerie contrast. In a stark and ghostly bed, she is tormented by a phantasmal alphabet in a series of erratic, disorienting shots before blood spatters sheets; the results are absolutely hellish. The distorted crying you hear in “The Alphabet” is Lynch’s baby daughter, so the film truly is a family affair.
Writer Samuel Beckett’s only screenplay was for the 1965 avant-garde silent short, Film. Beckett, who made his biggest splash with the play, Waiting for Godot, always had an interest in motion pictures, having first tried to break into the business in the 1930s when he asked director Sergei Eisenstein if he could be Eisenstein’s assistant (the director never got back to him). For Beckett’s short, he recruited former silent film writer/director/star Buster Keaton for what turned out to be a very odd slice of cinema.
Film stars Keaton as a man on the run—but from whom? Seemingly paranoid, he sees eyes everywhere as he attempts to make himself invisible to everyone and everything. Film isn’t as gloomy as it sounds, as there are moments of both humor and slapstick that recall the films of the silent era. The short is open to interpretation, but according to Beckett, it’s about perception—self-perception, specifically—drawing on the philosophy, “To be is to be perceived.” With Film, Beckett was trying to tell us that we can run all we want, but we can’t hide from ourselves.
Barney Rosset of Grove Press, who produced the short via Evergreen Film, wrote about the making of Film in the pages of Tin House:
The first person Beckett wanted for the only major role in Film was the Irish actor Jack McGowran. He was unavailable, as was Charlie Chaplin and also Zero Mostel, Alan’s choice. Later, Mostel did a marvelous job with Burgess Meredith in a TV production of Waiting for Godot that Schneider directed. Finally, Alan suggested Buster Keaton. Sam liked the idea, so Alan flew out to Hollywood to try and sign Buster up. There he found Buster living in extremely modern circumstances. On arrival he had to wait in a separate room while Keaton finished up an imaginary poker game with, among others, the legendary (but long-dead) Hollywood mogul Irving Thalberg. Keaton took the job. During an interview, Beckett told Kevin Brownlow (a Keaton scholar) that “Buster Keaton was inaccessible. He had a poker mind as well as a poker face… He had great endurance, he was very tough, and, yes, reliable. And when you saw that face at the end… Ah. At last.”
Film has its share of fans, including director/film preservationist Ross Lipman. For the past seven years, he’s been simultaneously researching Film and putting together a documentary on the Beckett/Keaton work, resulting in Notfilm, a feature-length examination of a seventeen-minute short. Lipman also played a major role in the reconstruction of Film, as he located the original, long-lost prologue.
Here’s what Rosset wrote about the prologue in Tin House:
Originally, Film was meant to run nearly thirty minutes. Eight of those minutes would be one very long shot in which a number of actors would make their only appearance. The shot was based on Orson Welles’s Citizen Kane, wherein Welles and his genius cameraman, Gregg Toland, achieved “deep focus.” Even when panning their camera, “deep focus” allowed objects from as close as a few feet to as far away as several hundred to be seen with equal clarity. Toland’s work was so important to Welles that he gave his cameraman equal billing to himself. Sad to say, our “deep focus” work in Film was unsuccessful. Despite the abundant expertise of our group, the extremely difficult shot was ruined by a stroboscopic effect that caused the images to jump around. Today it would probably be much easier to achieve the effects we wanted to capture. Technology is now on our side. Then, the problems proved too much for our group of very talented people so we went on without that shot. Beckett solved the problem of this incipient disaster by removing the scene from the script.
Now fully restored, Film will be included on the Blu-ray and DVD editions of Notfilm. There’s just one issue, lack of funds, so Lipman has teamed up with Milestone FilmsFandor for a Kickstarter campaign. $30,000 is needed to complete the project and you can help make it happen. Check out their Kickstarter page to see all the incentives.
The closing of Pandora’s Box, a tiny hippie club that used to stand on a concrete island in the middle of Crescent Heights, led to the Sunset Strip riots of 1966—the events that inspired Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth,” the Seeds’ “Pushin’ Too Hard,” and this cheapo 1967 exploitation classic, Riot on Sunset Strip. Aside from giving new meaning to the phrase “Van Nuys slumber party,” this rockudrama shows you Pandora’s Box, which fell to the wrecking ball later in ‘67, and documents smoking performances by the Standells and the Chocolate Watchband of Nuggets fame. (There’s also footage of a delightful garage band called the Enemies, who sing the song “Jolene.”)
Admission $2.50: Pandora’s Box
For about the first two-thirds of the feature, both freaks and cops are sympathetically portrayed. The bad guys appear to be—in art as in life—the Sunset Strip merchants and business owners who used the police to harass longhairs. Wise as Solomon, patient as Job, the paternal Lieutenant Walt Lorimer (Aldo Ray) is the movie’s hero. He tries to broker a deal between the establishment and the freaks, whose number includes his estranged (because mom is a lush) daughter Andy (Mimsy Farmer). If a well-meaning liberal had written an episode of Dragnet, it would look something like this part of the movie. But at 47:55, a hippie cad doses Andy’s diet soda, and the application of a phasing effect to the electric blues on the soundtrack signals that all hell is about to break loose; though slow to build, the freakout that follows is epic, in the sense that it is very long. Now, the movie turns into a regular episode of Dragnet: five wasted youths, who have degenerated through regular acid use to the level of rutting curs, rape Andy while she trips. (If you’re thinking it’s like that scene in Touch of Evil, guess again.) Lt. Walt, who hasn’t seen his daughter in years, finds her naked at the scene of the crime, and suddenly the wealthy businessmen of the Sunset Strip don’t look like the bad guys anymore. This is the movie the copy on some of the posters promised:
See for yourself their Mod, mad world… without law or license, morals or manners, God or goal!
“Grass is fast, but acid’s like lightning, man”: Andy’s lysergic hair-don’t
So much for the story. But you don’t have to be a connoisseur of crap drama to thrill to the sights and sounds of the Chocolate Watchband playing “Don’t Need Your Lovin’” at 38:27, you just have to have a pulse. Let’s make the Strip scene!
The titular focus of Toby Amies’ extraordinary, sensitive and lyrical 2013 documentary, The Man Whose Mind Exploded is one Drako Zarharzar, who is, when we meet him, 76 years old, exotic, theatrical and utterly flamboyant, but due to brain injury, he cannot remember much of anything about his long and eventful life. He “knows” for instance, that he knew—and posed for—Salvador Dali and that he once had a career onstage in show business, but he doesn’t remember what happened yesterday. Or who someone is from one day to the next.
Drako lived “completely in the now,” his mind unable to create new memories, a condition called “anterograde amnesia.” In order to get around this obviously monumental handicap, he created a 3D collage—a sprawling, kaleidoscopic, pornographic hoarder’s mobile hanging from string around his tiny, unhygienic flat in Brighton—to compensate. When one entered Drako’s cave-like dwelling, they were in effect entering his autobiography and mind. Additionally he modified his own body with Memento-like tattoos, including his motto/philosophy “TRUST ABSOLUTE UNCONDITIONAL” which was how he saw—or at least coped with—the outside world as he encountered it.
The Man Whose Mind Exploded, beyond being a moving portrait of an extremely eccentric (and unwell, yet happy) character facing life against such daunting headwinds, brings up all kinds of philosophical notions about time, memory (or complete lack thereof) and gives the viewer a great sense of empathy for what it’s like to care for someone who literally cannot remember who you are each time they encounter you.
The film airs tonight on Film4 in the UK at 12.30 am (technically tomorrow morning) and is for sale at the iTunes store. The soundtrack, which is gorgeous, was done by Adam Peters (who I think is a musical genius). It’s really one of the very best films I’ve seen all year. I highly, highly recommend going out of your way to see The Man Whose Mind Exploded. Netflix needs to get on this one, stat.
I asked Toby Amies—who you might recall from MTV in the 90s—some questions via email.
Richard Metzger: How did you meet and befriend Drako?
Toby Amies: I first saw Drako in Kemptown in Brighton, he swished past me on his bike in a cape like a Surrealist superhero! Then I met him properly through a mutual friend David Bramwell when I made a film for his band Oddfellow’s Casino that starred Drako. When I saw inside Drako’s extraordinary and bizarre home, where every room was filled with a sprawling 3D autobiographical collage, it reminded me of the so-called “outsider” art I’d seen and studied in the US. Ever since visiting S.P. Dinsmoor’s “Garden of Eden” in Lucas, Kansas I’ve long been fascinated with what I call “automonuments” where people, usually men, build tributes to themselves, but there was something very sweet and intimate about Drako’s home work, as it was designed to remind him of his self.
Drako and Toby Amies
Yes, he’s a bit of an outsider interior decorator, isn’t he? How long before you started visiting him with a camera? Was he okay and cooperative about you making a film from the start?
I began filming him on the second day I met him. Initially it was disconcerting, because of his mantra “Trust Absolute Unconditional,” he would happily agree to anything that we asked him. And this made it obvious to me from the start that there was a tremendous responsibility associated in working with someone who had chosen to believe, as a result of brain damage, in a completely benevolent universe. The onus was on us to make sure we did right by him. There were times when Drako clearly tired of my questions, and in one instance this is recorded in the film. Because I’d made a radio documentary about him first, we contacted his immediate family and his closest friend to ensure that we had a consensus that it was okay by the people who cared most about him that we were recording and documenting him. Consequently this tight community of concerned individuals became part of the film, because one of the things it explores is what our responsibility is towards someone who may not be able to care for themselves, and from a filmic point of view they are exceptional, funny and kind people.
Although there is the Salvador Dali story that he keeps repeating, and the photo of him in the singing group, there’s precious little of Drako’s past life and career that’s touched upon in the film. Was this a deliberate decision on your part, to keep Drako, as it were tabula rasa and in his “eternal now” for the audience, or was it more a matter of him having precious few memories of his past that he could even tell you about?
In the early stage of the editing we found that much of the biographical material was interesting from a cultural and historical point of view but looked like pretty boring cinema, or, as I call it: “television.” What was much more compelling to me and my editor Jim Scott was the actuality, the experience of being in Drak’s never-ending now. Film is such a great medium for communicating the emotional immediacy of a situation and I wanted to make the audience feel what I felt in visiting that bizarre and wonderful environment, though no film, could come close to the olfactory experience of that place, it would defeat even the greatest practitioners of Odorama. The biographical elements that remain are usually there to provide context to understand the comedy, battles and struggles that happen in the moment. Drako’s memory worked in such a way that whilst he had access to memories of events that happened before the accident that damaged his hippocampus, he remembered them in a way that seems more biographical than autobiographical. And also he would often tell the same story in exactly the same way no matter the circumstance. Often ending it with a very sweet “Did I tell you that already?”
He might have lost part of his memory but his manners were always immaculate and likewise his sense of humour was always present. That became the foundation of our friendship, our ability to make each other laugh, and what better version of “the now” is there than two people laughing with each other? Those were the moments I wanted to record and share, the ones where the greatest empathy is possible. In making the film I was very careful never to present Drako as an object except when we see others react to him on the street. It was important to keep the audience’s relationship with him subjective, even though to many folk he might look weird and behave in a bizarre manner, I wanted to make sure he was included in our definition of what it is to be human whilst expanding the possibilities of that definition a little. In other words, he’s one of us, but broadens the definition of “us” in the process.
The body modification and tattooing that he was into—is this something that happened before or after the events that stole his memory?
Even though when I knew him, Drako was in the process of externalising his memory to compensate for the loss of inside his mind, hence the film’s title, I think it’s fair to say that he had started the writing of his story on himself long before. Some of his tattoos were to remind him of things said to him in a coma, but most were there before, and he was a pioneer in piercing and extreme tattooing long before they became ubiquitous. His superb “ram fucking the moon” body tattoo was done by the properly legendary Alex Binnie. Even though I didn’t meet him then I am pretty sure Drako and I were first in the same room together at the Stainless Steel Ball, a get together organized by the Piercing Association of the UK in Brighton, waaaay back in the day.
Do you think that it was in fact brain damage that caused his perpetual sunny outlook on life?
Well, I can only offer an opinion, but following a conversation with our superb Neuropsychological Consultant Professor Martin Conway I wondered whether Drako had in a sense hypnotized himself to cope with the loss of so much of what he used to take for granted. As his friend Mim suggests in the film, perhaps the mantra, said to him in his second coma: “Trust Absolute Unconditional” had transformed from a question into an answer. This upset me for a bit, the idea that Drako had to hypnotise himself to happiness, but then I thought about the meaningless of my existence as I hurtle down the shrinking highway of my life towards inevitable death; and I thought don’t we all in some sense hypnotize ourselves into thinking that in spite of our grim fate there is still a point, of our own invention, to life, in spite of death? Also as his nephew Marc says, within his ability to do so, Drako lived how he wanted, and did exactly what he wanted to do, without harming anyone else in the process, which is a lifestyle that would make most folk happy I reckon.
When you pointedly ask him if he remembers you, he says that he doesn’t, that “you’re new every time.” Did you have to establish who you were each time you visited him or did he kind of recall you after a while? Like when his sister arrives after some time and starts speaking French to him, he seems to immediately know who is speaking and responds enthusiastically (without seeing her, she’s on the intercom outside of his flat)
There was a good lesson there for me—even though I knew Drako had a unique mind and had suffered serious brain trauma, who the fuck was I to decide how consistent his memory loss should be? I had the sense that he had a rough idea of who I was after several visits and was comforted to see my name appear on notes in the house, but then there were moments even late in the relationship where I was clearly someone new. I dealt with that by thinking that pretty much any opportunity that teaches you how little you matter in a wider context than your own head is helpful, and by following Drako’s lead and trying to be as present as possible in the moment. That made the filming intense, difficult, and exciting, a kind of improvisational theatre that put my background as a photographer and TV presenter to effective use. Drako still had access to memories from before his accident, but could not record ones effectively afterwards. He described it in terms of a magnetic tape machine, the playback head works, but the record doesn’t. So Anne existed for him but the time they spent together didn’t so much. Perhaps that ended up being harder for the people who wanted him to remember the time they had together, their shared narrative, than for Drako himself. Maybe that’s one of the reasons I made the film, to preserve and share my part of that extraordinary story.
Members of the primary cast from 1963’s It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World
This mashup of the classic 1963 madcap comedy, It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad, World (directed by Stanley Kramer), and 2015 mega-blockbuster, Mad Max: Fury Road, is pretty much the best thing you will see all day, if not all week.
Buddy Hackett, Jim Backus, and Mickey Rooney from It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963)
The brainchild of Ezequiel Lopez, the short clip brilliantly knits together scenes from It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World, then adds the opening narrative from Fury Road. It’s quite surreal how Lopez was able to blend both of the films together so expertly—and I can’t get enough of it.
If you’ve never seen Kramer’s star-studded lunatic tale of road-rage gone hilariously wrong, this clip will send you off to change that. Without giving too much away, the film stars the great Spencer Tracy as Captain T.G. Culpepper who suddenly finds himself mixed up in a wild car chase to find $350,000 (an awful lot of money back in 1963). Tracy is joined by pretty much everyone that ever did anything funny back in the day like Jonathan Winters (as a character you will never forget) to Sid Caesar, Ethel Merman, Terry-Thomas, Buddy Hackett and a veritable cavalcade of other Hollywood hambones. There are also loads of cameos from cinematic heroes such as Jerry Lewis and the Three Stooges (Moe Howard, Larry Fine and Joe “Curly Joe” DeRita).
It’s truly one of the greatest comedies of all time, which Mr. Lopez made me appreciate all the more today.
Thor, the metal god—not to be confused with the successful Marvel franchise character.
The legendary leader of the heavy metal band Thor, Jon Mikl Thor, has had a documentary made about his attempted comeback—a comeback which, apparently, almost cost him his life. The film I Am Thor, directed by Ryan Wise (of Prom Queen fame) is scheduled for theatrical release in the late fall.
If you’re unfamiliar with Thor (and why a comeback attempt could have proved hazardous to his health), some background information may be in order. Jon Mikl Thor was a bodybuilding champion who won over 40 titles around the world—but of course his main love and passion was rock and roll.
Rock and Motherfucking Roll
Jon Mikl Thor first began touring as singer in the band Thor in 1973. As a front man, he would perform incredible feats of strength during gigs. He would blow hot water bottles up until they exploded. He would bend iron bars with his teeth and have concrete blocks smashed on his chest with a sledgehammer. He achieved little success until, believe it or not, he was discovered by Merv Griffin (yes, THAT Merv Griffin).
Here’s Thor appearing on the Merv Griffin show in 1976, performing a rather embarrasing version of Sweet’s hit song “Action,” doing a striptease, and blowing up a hot water bottle. Note the priceless reactions of audience members:
Soon after the Merv griffin appearance, his career took off and he recorded the album Keep The Dogs Away which went Gold shortly after its release.
Thor was performing at a time when KISS and Alice Cooper were all the rage. Theatrical rock, with its special effects and showmanship, seemed like the perfect fit for his act. But alas, the thing that never quite connected was the music. Thor’s musical backing wasn’t what most would call “good.” It was certainly no Alice Cooper or KISS by comparison. Despite Thor very much looking the part, his music didn’t really find an audience outside of the freakshow attraction of the amazing feats of onstage strength.
If you’ve seen Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining—and who hasn’t?—then you certainly remember the deliciously creepy moment when Shelley Duvall’s Wendy Torrance finally takes a peek at the manuscript her husband Jack has been working on for months—only to find that it’s just hundreds of pages of the phrase “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” It’s an important scene because it establishes Jack as “starkers,” as the British say, once and for all, a dead-ender case with no hope for rescue, who incidentally wants to take an axe to his wife and son.
Now, the online application Psychotic Writer allows you to generate your own personal Jack Torrance looney-tunes novel. Press the button and off it goes! I went to the trouble of timing it. In 60 seconds it generated 12 full “chapters” of perfect, demented Torrance gobbledygook. When you hit “stop” you can then see the full PDF of the novel as it stands. You also have the option of creating a single chapter as a PDF.
Topps Shock Theater trading card #30 Dracula A.D. (UK version 1976)
Back in 1976 trading card company Topps produced a collection of cards called “Shock Theater” that were based on the films of the legendary British cult film company, Hammer.
Part of Hammer’s long-running appeal was due to its use of gore and sex, a tactic they used in excess to try to stay relevant during the 70’s. So it’s more than a little confusing as to why they marketed the cards to kids (the packs came with that nasty, cardboard flavored pink gum we all spit out after chomping on it for 30 seconds). For example, the Karnstein Trilogy (1970 and 1971), featured three films, The Vampire Lovers starring Ingrid PItt, Lust for a Vampire, and Twins of Evil, that contained explicit sex scenes and lesbianism that had not yet been seen much in English-speaking films. The storyline for 1970’s Taste the Blood of Dracula (one of many Hammer/Dracula films starring the late Christopher Lee), has three swingers turning to black magic to help boost their dwindling libidos.
As far as gross-outs are concerned, 1970’s Scars of Dracula (Hammers very first Dracula movie given an R rating), has a scene that shows dismembered corpses lying in a church with blood-stained walls. To say nothing of the part when a giant bat regurgitates blood all over Dracula’s ashes. And if you’ve never seen 1972’s Vampire Circus, I’ll just say this. There’s a woman dancing around naked, covered in tiger-looking body paint, and loads of sex and blood. In other words, it’s an excellent film.
Topps Shock Theater trading card #34 Taste the Blood of Dracula (UK version, 1976)
Topps put out two sets of Hammer-themed cards, one in the U.S. in 1975, and a second, nearly identical set in the UK in 1976. The cards are amusingly captioned, a feature that perhaps helped tone down the image on the cards. The back of the cards also had jokes on them as well as a brief description of the scene from the film it depicted. In mint condition, both sets of cards can go for more than two-thousand dollars. Expertly preserved proofs can sell for over $400 apiece. But, if you dig this kind of thing, cards in various conditions can easily be found for less than $20 bucks on eBay.
Topps Shock Theater Hammer trading card #35 Dracula A.D. (UK version 1976)
Topps Shock Theater trading card #49 The Satanic Rites of Dracula (UK version, 1976)