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Visual Futurist: Step inside the sci-fi world created by ‘Blade Runner’ visionary Syd Mead
04.26.2017
09:28 am
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A depiction of Los Angeles in 2019 by Syd Mead for ‘Blade Runner.’
 
Artist Syd Mead is probably best known for his work for the 1982 film Blade Runner, though his vast contributions to cinema can be seen in other groundbreaking works such as Aliens (1986), TRON (1982), and 2013’s Elysium which was directed by Neill Blomkamp. Blomkamp had a life-long obsession with Mead and his artwork which was what led him to engage the services of the then 80-year-old artist to design the sets for his futuristic film.

Mead’s background in industrial design is clear and present in his paintings. During the 1970s his artistic services were highly sought-after and widely respected within the companies and industries he spent time working for such as Ford and Phillips Electronics, illustrating catalogs and other types of publications. Mead also worked closely with elite members of the architectural design world including large hotel chains and other high-end establishments. His relentlessly busy schedule led him to move his base of operations to Los Angeles where he quickly found himself working as an artist for the motion picture industry in the late 70s. Though Blade Runner would not be the first Hollywood film that Mead would lend his visionary talent to, it can’t be disputed that his work on the film left an indelible imprint on the minds of filmmakers and cinephiles around the world, who adopted Mead’s grungy vision of what the year 2019 looked like, and other aspects of Blade Runner’s‘s essence in their work, like the hardwired goths from The Matrix, Paul Verhoeven’s Total Recall and Luc Besson’s The Fifth Element.
 

A sketch of a uniform from ‘TRON’ by Syd Mead.
 
After meeting with director Ridley Scott to discuss the film (which at the time was going by the working title of Dangerous Days) Mead recalls that Scott told him that his intention was to create the framework for a noir film around its science fiction premise. To help drive his point home Scott used Michael Anderson’s 1972 film Logan’s Run as an example of the “slick and clean” presentation of more conventional cinematic sci-fi, opting instead for more of a bad-side-of-town feeling, pulsating in neon lights and depravity. Ridley Scott quite literally gave Syd Mead the job of creating 2019 Los Angeles for Blade Runner using his own conceptual ideas. During the process, Mead incorporated elements and influences from his travels around the world. Some of the vehicles in the film are based on autos from Cuba or the colorful “jitneys” (also known as “Jeepneys”) that serve as public transportation all around the Philippines. Architecturally, the future city of Los Angeles was based on a combination of Chicago and New York, and Mead’s work in Blade Runner continues to not only inspire filmmakers but also architects and a style that the artist referred to as “retro deco,” or “trash chic.”

Though I’ve only really scratched the surface when it comes to Syd Mead, I’m hoping it was more than enough to pique your interest in the impossibly cool artist. If that’s the case there are many publications based on Mead’s life and his long line of accomplishments. Perhaps the most lust-worthy is the forthcoming The Movie Art of Syd Mead: Visual Futurist which is set for release in September. The 256-page book is the largest and most comprehensive take on Mead’s career yet, including some never-before-seen works.

Mead is very much a living legend who deserves every bit of praise his fans give him and more.
 

‘TRON.’
 

Another conceptual work by Mead for ‘TRON.’
 
More Mead after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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04.26.2017
09:28 am
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‘Eraserhead’ fans, you’re going to want this silver vinyl soundtrack reissue
04.26.2017
09:12 am
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It’s been five years since Sacred Bones put out limited-issue box set reissue of the Eraserhead soundtrack, complete with tons of extras, the newly released track “Pete’s Boogie,” and so forth.

That product came in three pressings, all of which together totaled a good deal less than 3,000 copies, and today you’re lucky if you can score any of them for fifty bucks….. eighty is more like it. So if you’re looking to expand your LP collection with some primo and fucked-up ambient works composed by David Lynch and the movie’s sound designer, Alan R. Splet, you’ll be happy to hear that Sacred Bones has another pressing coming up this summer—this time on super-evocative silver wax.
 

 
Just as the earlier pressings did, this “limited deluxe edition” will include a 16-page booklet, three 11-by-11-inch prints, and a limited-edition Peter Ivers 7-inch A-side of the single “In Heaven” with an Ivers recording, “Pete’s Boogie,” as the B-side. As DM readers no doubt remember, Peter Ivers was a very interesting fellow who was one of the guiding spirits behind the legendary Los Angeles TV show New Wave Theater but was unfortunately murdered in March 1983. As stated above, he composed “In Heaven (The Lady in the Radiator Song),” by far the most popular music from Eraserhead that was ever covered by the Pixies (and Tuxedomoon).

The release date is June 16 and you can pre-order it on Amazon right now for $39.98. This is some of the creepiest “music” ever recorded, so get on it!
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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04.26.2017
09:12 am
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Iconic occult ‘Angel Heart’ Ring on sale today only for 30% off
04.25.2017
08:49 pm
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One fateful afternoon thirty years ago, NYC-based jewelry designer Alex Streeter was working in the backroom at his eponymous store in Soho. Two gentlemen entered the shop and approached the artist, identifying themselves as the art directors for Alan Parker’s then-in-production supernatural thriller Angel Heart. They then proceeded to tell Streeter that they felt he was, in fact, the strangest jeweler in town, and hired him on the spot to create a distinctive collection in silver to be worn by the film’s stars, Robert De Niro and Charlotte Rampling. Thus, the famous, or perhaps infamous, Angel Heart Ring, a pentagram in an amber orb held aloft by two rams—and soon to become Streeter’s signature work—was born.
 

 
One memorable scene in Angel Heart sees De Niro’s sinister character slowly rolling a boiled egg on a plate as Mickey Rourke’s character stares at his amazing ring. Since the film’s release in 1987, Alex Streeter‘s impeccably carved and beautifully-crafted jewelry has been worn by the likes of Jimmy Page, Steven Tyler, Axl Rose, Madonna, Kirk Douglas of The Roots and Marilyn Manson and seen in the pages of fashion bibles the world over. But it’s not just rock stars who covet his fine craftsmanship, it’s people wanting to feel like a rock star—or a sorcerer perhaps—who are attracted to his singular, occult-inspired handiworks.

Alex Streeter‘s work obviously isn’t for everyone, but for those who are attracted to it, it can be an obsession. But did they chose to wear his work, or did his work chose them to wear it?

It’s probably a little of both.

In honor of the 30th anniversary of the ring’s creation, Alex Streeter has designed a new stamped, limited collector’s edition of the Angel Heart Ring. It’s a thicker version of the classic setting, complete with limited edition details, including the trademark Alex Streeter logo and “XXX” stamping on the inner ring.This limited edition setting will only be available through March 6th, 2018 before being discontinued.

Today April 26th—to celebrate Alex’s birthday—is the annual sale at AlexStreeter.com and AngelHeartRing.com. For one day only you take 30% off with the code “ALEXBDAY” at checkout.
 

Amber Angel Heart Ring
 

Side view
 

Ewaka Red Angel Heart Ring: Hand-created stone in a solid sterling silver setting.
 
More of Alex Streeter’s exquisite jewelry after the jump…

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Posted by Sponsored Post
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04.25.2017
08:49 pm
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The Magnificent Seven: Watch Madness in their autobiographical film debut ‘Take It or Leave It’
04.25.2017
10:50 am
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01madfiltakleavit.jpg
 
In 1981, Madness the greatest septet since The Magnificent Seven—no, not that crappy remake, the original with Yul Bryner—starred in their very own feature film Take It or Leave It.

Now, Take It or Leave It is not the catchiest of titles I know, but one, I suppose, that reflects the band’s attitude to whether you like their music or not….or even if you like this movie. Or not.

Thankfully—nearly everyone in the whole wide world loves them some Madness so this film could have been called Pig Fuckers from Hell and millions would still have queued to catch a glimpse of their heroes. Mind you, I suppose that’s not really saying much as millions would probably queue to go and see a film called Pig Fuckers from Hell even if Madness had nothing to do with it, or at least watch it on their laptops—I know I would.

And don’t go by that Nouvelle Vague-looking poster above, the original poster was the Nutty Boys draped with reels of shiny celluloid and surrounded by cans of film all against a dazzling red background—which probably gives a better flavor of what this film is all about.
 
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The original movie poster.
 
Anyway.

What is this thing all about?

Well. If you’ve ever wondered what’s it like to be in a band or ever considered the strange quirks of fate and character that bring together a group of disparate talents to form a band in the first place, then this film will answer your questions.

Take It or Leave It is a very likable comic docudrama that tells the story of seven individuals who manage to come together through trial, error, hard work and ambition to form a band called Madness. Rather than have some young look-alikes play the band members, Madness step up to the mark and play themselves from earliest beginnings in 1976 to all-out success in 1981.

It looks almost like a documentary and includes some exceptional footage of the boys playing gigs in local pubs and clubs with quite a few tracks that haven’t been or were not released until very recently. The story as such is a series of episodic scenes telling the story of Chris Foreman, Lee Thompson, Mike Barson, Suggs, Dan “Woody” Woodgate, Mark Bedford, and Chas Smash—the fine bunch of wayward characters who together make up Madness. There was a script of sorts but there was also a fair bit of ad-libbing. Some of these scenes were true and some were not—like Chris didn’t work at the post office but it kinda felt right and is a funny scene. The acting gets better as the movie goes on and by the end, I was thinking, their acting is so much better now than at the beginning that this is where maybe they should have reshot the first part of the film.

But wait.

The acting’s not the important thing here. What is important about Take It or Leave It is that it’s probably the best music film ever made about being in a band. It’s like a cinéma vérité counterpoint to that seventies rock classic Flame which starred Slade. Both of these movies presented a side to the music business too often excised at the script stage or removed by producers during the edit. Add into this fine mix an album’s worth a classic Madness tracks, then the whole thing is a bit of a joy to watch.
Watch Madness in ‘Take It or Leave It,’ after the jump…

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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04.25.2017
10:50 am
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Holy shit, they really made bubblegum trading cards for the first ‘Alien’ movie!
04.25.2017
10:24 am
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Card #15: Introducing ‘Jones’

Two premises. Ridley Scott’s 1979 movie Alien is one of the most terrifying movies ever made. And the primary audience for trading cards during that era was preteens.

Ergo, there aren’t any trading cards for Alien.

Not so fast.

Surprising as it may seem, Topps did make trading cards for Alien. It seems safe to say that Topps may have gotten the contract for the job in the wake of the incredible success of Star Wars, and was attracted by a connection to an ambitious sci-fi space epic, without realizing that the actual movie in question would be rated R and indeed, give adults nightmares. (In the U.K. Alien received an X rating.)

Not many movies this cool ever got trading cards. If only they had made cards for Videodrome..... Or even The Shining, even if we did highlight this recently made retro set a year or two back.

Fun to see H.R. Giger himself featured in card #47. I’d hazard a guess that the Alien card series was the only one ever marketed with an image of, to quote the medical professional who chimed in about the subject on this page, “a gangrenous rectal sphincter,” as you can see here:
 

 
The back of the cards featured text descriptions placed within a gorgeous image of an egg:
 

 
The set also included stickers, which looked pretty cool:
 

 
Here are a few of the cards, followed by a picture of the packaging:
 

Card #8: Captain Dallas (Tom Skerritt)
 

Card #9: Warrant Officer Ripley (Sigourney Weaver)
 
Much more after the jump…........

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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04.25.2017
10:24 am
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‘Bring Me the Head of Charlie Brown’: Future ‘Simpsons’ director turns ‘Peanuts’ into a bloodbath
04.24.2017
02:57 pm
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In the mid-1980s, Jim Reardon was at the highly regarded Character Animation program at the California Institute of the Arts, and one of his student projects was a remarkable mashup of the Charlie Brown universe and the Sam Peckinpah universe—all of it undertaken with what must have been a deep affection for both worlds. The four-minute film’s title is “Bring Me the Head of Charlie Brown,” an obvious reference to Peckinpah’s 1974 movie Bring Me the Head of Alfredo Garcia.

The short is presented as the commercial for a “heartwarming holiday special” featuring the Peanuts gang. So the Great Pumpkin places a bounty on Charlie Brown’s head, which causes an immediate death spiral into ultraviolence. All of the familiar characters (Lucy, Schroeder, Linus, etc.) attempt to assassinate Charlie Brown, until finally the hero is forced to take matters into his own hands, grabbing a machine gun and mowing them all down.

The second half of the short is truly a bloodbath, and definitely Reardon has Peckinpah’s masterpiece The Wild Bunch on the brain most of all. Peckinpah was known not just for violence but most of all for lush slow-motion sequences focusing on the carnage, and “Bring Me the Head of Charlie Brown” certainly has several of those. The moment when Lucy nips Charlie Brown in the shoulder is a direct callback to a sequence from The Wild Bunch involving William Holden’s character Pike Bishop.

Reardon’s short, which is in black-and-white, is a little crude by professional standards, but for a student project it’s incredibly effective and engaging. “Bring Me the Head of Charlie Brown” is dense, somewhat akin to MAD Magazine, with references covering everything from Popeye and Travis Bickle to Arnold Schwarzenegger and Godzilla. The closing zinger, spoken in Arnie’s trademark accent, is “Happiness is a warm uzi,” a remarkably canny mix of the strip’s treacly motto “Happiness is a warm puppy” and John Lennon’s memorable ditty “Happiness Is a Warm Gun.” 

“Bring Me the Head of Charlie Brown” also owes a debt to the old Warner Bros. cartoons, particularly in the bomb Lucy creates to dispose of her football-kicking buddy.

Based on the strength of this short—one imagines—Reardon was quickly hired by John Kricfalusi (later of Ren and Stimpy fame) as a writer on Mighty Mouse: The New Adventures. Later on he would be a supervising director for seasons 9 through 15 of The Simpsons  and co-wrote the script for WALL-E.

Watch it after the jump…

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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04.24.2017
02:57 pm
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Jean Cocteau’s poem for Orson Welles
04.21.2017
08:16 am
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Orson Welles by Jean Cocteau (from the frontispiece of André Bazin’s book on Welles)
 
Orson Welles and Jean Cocteau first met at a performance of “Voodoo Macbeth,” the all-black Shakespeare production Welles staged in New York in 1936 with funding from a New Deal program. They remained friends and encouraged one another’s rascality, according to Simon Callow’s account of the 1948 Venice Film Festival in One-Man Band, the third volume of his Welles biography:

He and the perenially provocative Jean Cocteau formed a sort of anti-festival clique, clubbing together to commit what Cocteau rather wonderfully called lèse-festival. [...] Together in Venice, the two men behaved like two very naughty boys. Welles shocked his hosts by ostentatiously walking out of the showing of Visconti’s uncompromisingly severe masterpiece, La Terra Trema.

 

Cocteau and Welles in Venice, 1948
 
Welles was a member of the Comité d’Honneur at Cocteau’s 1949 Festival du Film Maudit, at which both The Magnificent Ambersons and The Lady from Shanghai were screened. (Kenneth Anger’s Fireworks made its European debut there, too, and Artaud’s “Sorcery and Cinema” was first published in the festival catalog.) Cocteau contributed this sketch of his friend to the program for Welles’ The Blessed and the Damned, an evening of two one-act plays that opened in Paris in 1950:

Orson Welles is a giant with the face of a child, a tree filled with birds and shadows, a dog who has broken loose and gone to sleep in the flower bed. An active loafer, a wise madman, a solitary surrounded by humanity, a student who sleeps during the lesson. A strategy: pretending to be drunk to be simply left alone. Seemingly better than anyone else, he can use a nonchalant attitude of real strength, apparently drifting but guided by a half-opened eye. This attitude of an abandoned hulk, and that of a sleepy bear, protects him from the cold fever of the motion picture world. An attitude which made him move on, made him leave Hollywood, and carried him to other lands and other horizons.

Quoting some of the increasingly hysterical praise for Welles printed elsewhere in the program and then in the show’s reviews, Callow wonders: “At least Cocteau had the excuse of being an opium addict; what were these chaps on?”

Keep reading, after the jump…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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04.21.2017
08:16 am
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Steven Spielberg predicts the psycho-delic future of today in 1971’s ‘Los Angeles: A.D. 2017’!
04.20.2017
12:08 pm
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I had heard about this impossible-to-see episode of The Name of the Game—a cutting edge television show that ran for seventy-six 90-minute episodes from 1968 to 1971 on NBC—but until recently, I’d never seen it. The Name of the Game had the biggest budget of any show of its time and a very interesting concept. First of all each episode was, in effect, it’s own semi-standalone 90-minute movie. The series was one of the first of what was then known as a “wheel series.” A wheel series was mostly known as a time slot on TV that two or three different shows shared, alternating each week. With The Name of the Game‘s high concept though, this wheel was alternating between three different stars who were featured in their own episodes/movies. And what a high concept it was!

From Wikipedia:

The series was based on the 1966 television movie Fame Is the Name of the Game, which was directed by Stuart Rosenberg and stars Tony Franciosa. The Name of the Game rotated among three characters working at Howard Publications, a large magazine publishing company. Jeffrey “Jeff” Dillon (Franciosa), a crusading reporter with People magazine (before there was a real-life People magazine); Glenn Howard (Gene Barry, taking over for George Macready, who had originated the role in the earlier film), the sophisticated, well-connected publisher; and Daniel “Dan” Farrell (Robert Stack), the editor of Crime magazine. Serving as a common connection was then-newcomer Susan Saint James as Peggy Maxwell, the editorial assistant for each.

 
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Which brings us to one of the last episodes of the series, LA 2017 aka Los Angeles: AD 2017. This episode was the first long form directing assignment for 24-year-old Steven Spielberg. Written by well-known offbeat author Phillip Wylie (who wrote Gene Barry’s wild episode Love-In At Ground Zero in the first season). Wylie’s work is known to have inspired the characters of Superman, Doc Savage and even Flash Gordon (from his story that was later made into the film When Worlds Collide). In this episode, Glenn Howard is hunted down in a lethally polluted, frightening and sometimes hilarious Los Angeles of the future, where the fascist government is ruled by psychiatrists and the populace has been driven to live in underground bunkers to survive the pollution. Sounds about right, right? This was the sixteenth episode of the third season, and the cast included Barry Sullivan, Edmond O’Brien, and (in a brief cameo) Spielberg’s friend Joan Crawford.
 
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It starts out with a car crash while character Howard (Gene Barry) is seen driving through the mountains recording a memo to the President to do with an important pollution scandal story that will appear in his magazine, and ends up being a dream, which allowed the science-fiction plot to fit into the modern-day setting of the show, though in the final moments he is still contemplating what happened while driving back in his car (cue close-up shot of his tail pipes chugging out 1971 style car exhaust fumes). In the end, we see a stiff bird hanging in a tree… a close encounter of the (dead) bird kind indeed!
 
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Watching this 1971 pop culture prophecy in the actual Los Angeles of 2017 is a total mindblower. Some of it is insanely far-fetched and yet there are a few humdingers that really freak you out and make you think, the most well known being my favorite scene where we are taken into a truly “underground” club with a demented octogenarian acid rock band totally freaking out (or at least trying to):
 

 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Howie Pyro
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04.20.2017
12:08 pm
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Pop art dreamworld: The amazing, sexy comic strip art of the 1967 film ‘The Killing Game’’
04.19.2017
09:29 am
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Undoubtedly the coolest, sexiest, and most sophisticated film about a comic book artist ever made, Alain Jessua’s 1967 Jeu de massacre is a stylized French new wave comedy that’s incredibly ahead of its time. Burnt-out comic book writer Pierre Meyrand (Jean-Pierre Cassel), and his illustrator/wife Jacqueline (sixties babe Claudine Auger), are visited in their office one day by a wealthy playboy with an overactive imagination who invites the couple to stay at his luxurious mansion in Switzerland. He quickly inspires Pierre and Jacqueline to create a new comic strip character based on him nicknamed “The Neuchatel Killer,” a womanizing bank robber who turns into a psychotic serial murderer. The line between fantasy and reality quickly gets blurred when the playboy begins living out his alter-ego’s exploits, drawing his house guests into his zany, disturbing delusions with him.

Who better to call on to illustrate Jeu de massacre‘s comic strip sequences than Belgian artist Guy Peellaert? A decade before he became famous for his rock ‘n’ roll album covers and movie posters, Peellaert was known for his psychedelic pop art which included the now legendary comic strip, Les Aventures de Jodelle, published in the controversial French magazine Hara-Kiri in 1966. For Jeu de massacre, Guy Peellaert brought the same level of groovy sex appeal to the big screen. His suave, colorful illustrations are perfectly edited into the narrative, visually punctuating the characters as they lose their grip on reality and succumb to Peellaert’s romantic pop art dreamworld.
 

 

 

 

 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Doug Jones
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04.19.2017
09:29 am
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Bad girls behind bars: Vintage ‘women in prison’ exploitation movie posters
04.18.2017
01:45 pm
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A movie poster for the 1986 film ‘Reform School Girls’ with Wendy O. Williams, Sybil Danning and Andy Warhol pal Pat Ast (pictured prominently above).
 
The “WIP” (“women in prison”) film genre has several sub-genres ranging from nuns in prison to an interpretation favored mostly by European filmmakers who loved to include Nazis in their chick-centric prison flicks. Italy, Germany, and France put out quite a few WIP films back in the 70s and 80s, as did the U.S. of A. and the Philippines. When the first women in prison films made their way to the big screen they were more dramatically inclined. One of the very first films to tell the tale of a girl behind bars is Hold Your Man starring the profitable on-screen power couple of Jean Harlow and Clark Gable. The film is full of some pretty salacious stuff. Thankfully, this was 1933 and Hollywood films were still getting away with more on screen prior to the enforcement of rules laid out in the Motion Picture Production Code of 1930 being widely adopted within the industry as it wasn’t really wasn’t policed until late in 1934. Which made a film like Hold Your Man—whose plotline involved a gorgeous blonde getting stuck behind bars while she’s knocked up with her lover’s baby—possible.

You can find WIP films in every decade but because both the 1970s and 1980s are so near and dear to my heart—and because I’d quite frankly love the opportunity to do another one of these posts—we’re going to stay put in those two consecutive decades. The genre can be pretty strange and runs anywhere from girl-heavy drama which would generally fall into the “redemption” film category to straight-up pornography. In the 1950s WIP films were heavily influenced by pulp fiction novels but it wouldn’t take long for the films to evolve (or devolve perhaps) into exploitation flicks with lots of nudity, sex, violence, rape, and notably deviant plotlines.

The popularity of the genre and its many sub-genres soared during the 70s and 80s which would bring us , Chained Heat starring teen queen Linda Blair and Wendy O. Williams’s prison warden in Reform School Girls. So now that I think I’ve given you more than a few compelling reasons to take a deep dive into this strangely complex film genre, I’ve posted a large selection of WIP movie posters that are mostly NSFW as you would expect them to be.
 

‘The Big Bird Cage’ with Pam Grier and Sid Haig
 

A German movie poster for ‘99 Women.’
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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04.18.2017
01:45 pm
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