David “Rock” Nelson is a manic former Marine and aspiring boxer and he just might be the new Ed Wood. Although it’s hard to tell just how much of an effect getting hit in the head repeatedly had on him creatively, the former Golden Glover has been making his amateurish DIY camcorder monster movies since the early 90s. His insane films often star himself, his off-again/on-again girlfriend and his barely indulgent (now deceased) elderly parents who seemed more perturbed, if not totally disinterested at what their weird adult son was getting up to. His baffling and inept work makes almost no sense to anyone except for (maybe) David himself, and therein lies the charm of his peculiar “school” of no budget cinema, a genre in his case, where he resides most assuredly alone. People have been making bad monster movies for decades, but nothing like this.
If you’re the sort of cultural miscreant who goes in for, say, Andy Milligan films or the music of Jandek, then maybe the cinema of David “Rock” Nelson is for you?
I think it’s fair to say that most of the staff here at Dangerous Minds has an appreciation for lurid B-movie poster art. It’s a topic we enjoy posting about from time to time. I’m a huge fan, especially of ‘60s-‘80s exploitation and horror posters. Over the years I’ve amassed a decent collection of original one-sheets, picking them up cheap here and there at flea markets and junk shops. Unfortunately eBay and the collector’s market has really made it difficult to find classic exploitation paper in the wild. Nowadays if you’re looking for, say, an original Ilsa, She Wold of the SS poster, you can expect to pay no less than two hundred bucks online. It’s a hobby that can get expensive quickly.
If you’re not stuck on the notion of owning an original, and have access to a decent printer, you can decorate your dwelling from floor to ceiling with classic horror, erotic, grindhouse action, and kung-fu poster images taken from one sheets, half sheets, daybills, locandinas, and quads from all over the world.
I recently discovered a site called Wrong Side of the Art, which apparently has been around for years, yet under my radar. This site is a treasure trove of cult and trash poster images with an emphasis on high-resolution—meaning that if you have a good printer you can have rather nice prints of hundreds of classic poster titles. Of particular interest are the foreign posters… those are always the coolest.
My printer will go up to 13"x19”, so I was able to print off a few decent-sized prints before my toner went bye-bye. I’m not sure how the image quality maintains on larger prints, but if you have access to a poster printer, give it a shot and let us know how it works out. I was able to print these just now:
They look especially impressive in person
Wrong Side of the Art is one of those sites that makes me truly appreciate the Internet. There’s so much cool, well-curated stuff there that you can easily get lost for hours scrolling through classic Italian Giallo, Japanese Pinku, and good ol’ American women-in-prison prints. There are hundreds of titles and the quality is the best I’ve seen online. The amount of work that’s gone into maintaining this site for the benefit of B-movie fans is apparent and should be applauded. Thank you Wrong Side of the Art!
Here’s a brief gallery of posters you can find high-res prints of. The site has hundreds more. Go there now. It’s seriously one of the best things on the Internet.
The truly perplexing “film” that is Black Devil Doll from Hell would be on a lot more of those “100 Worst Movies of All Time” lists if only more bad shitty cinema buffs were aware of its existence. Still in recent years hardcore trash culture vultures and aficionados of WTF filmmaking have managed to raise its profile higher than might’ve ever been expected. The New York Times of all places even published a feature article on Black Devil Doll from Hell and its place in the trash film firmament (or cinematic sewer if you prefer). Few seem more surprised about the film’s unexpected, long-fuse fairytale ending than the director himself.
Made on a VHS camcorder in Chicago in 1984 for a buck or two ($3 tops) by a character named Chester Novell Turner, Black Devil Doll from Hell is an obvious—and absurdly brain-damaged—rip-off of the cult classic TV movie Trilogy of Terror starring Karen Black. Apparently the original title was “The Puppet” but the name changed to Black Devil Doll from Hell due to the demands of the video distributor, obviously a man with dollar signs in his eyes. (I think his instincts were right on. “The Puppet” just doesn’t cut it. Not for this.)
The plot, if there can be said to be one, revolves around a virginal church-going good girl (Turner’s girlfriend at the time Shirley L. Jones) who buys what appears to be a Charlie McCarthy ventriloquist dummy in blackface and dreadlocks—allegedly a “tribute” to Rick James. (The Black devil doll says “bitch” A LOT, but he unfortunately never says “I’m Rick James bitch.”) He is demonically possessed, comes alive and does bad tings to her. Sexual tings! The crappy text-only opening credits last for nearly eight minutes! And the fucking music, don’t get me started on the music. (The Times charitably described the soundtrack as “Kraftwerk with an R&B swagger.” Try the sound a farting Casiotone would make!)
Detail from the VHS box cover
The so-bad-that-it’s-just-absurdly-bad Black Devil Doll from Hell is something that came and went without much… fanfare, first as “midnight movie” fodder in video rental shops, then on the tape trading underground scene, before VHS originals eventually started selling on eBay for several hundred dollars. In 2010, a devoted fan of Black Devil Doll from Hell released a deluxe DVD with a limited edition 3-D lenticular cover. A 2007 porno parody was even produced because… they’re seriously running out of ideas?
After the jump, watch ‘Black Devil Doll from Hell’
If you, like me, are tending a garden and feel it needs something extra… then why not adorn it with with one of these delightful garden gnomes by Ian the Gnome? I mean, there’s something for everyone! If you love The Big Lebowski there’s a gnome for that. If you’re a Doyle from The Misfits fanatic… there’s a gnome for that, too!
The prices for the garden gnomes can range anywhere from $40 to $85. I put a link below each gnome to direct you to its page and where to buy.
Babylon is a totally engrossing 1980 British film that is set against the UK reggae and “sound system” culture of South London’s then predominantly West Indian neighborhood, Brixton.
It stars Brinsley Forde, the lead singer of Aswad as “Blue.” Martin Stellman (Quadrophenia) originally co-wrote the screenplay with director Franco Rosso as a teleplay for the BBC in 1975. The soundtrack was scored by Slits producer Dennis Bovell and featured music by Aswad (their killer “Warrior Charge” number, which figures in the plot of the film), Yabby U, I Roy, Michael Prophet and others. Babylon was shot by Oscar- winning cinematographer Chris Menges (The Mission; The Killing Fields).
From the (region free) UK DVD:
Sound system ‘toaster’ Blue and his Ital Lion crew are looking forward to a soundclash competition with rival outfit Jah Shaka. But as the event approaches, Blue’s personal life begins to unravel. Fired from his job, he begins to suspect his girlfriend is cheating on him and then one night he is brutally beaten by plainclothes policemen. Finally, when their lock-up garage is broken into and their sound system destroyed, he cannot take any more. Increasingly angered and alienated by what he perceives to be society’s rejection of his race and his culture, Blue is compelled to respond by fighting fire with fire.
Babylon is a real treat and considered a classic today. The soundclash scene with Jah Shaka near the film’s end is just a flat-out great piece of filmmaking. Babylon was difficult to see until it was released on DVD in 2008, but it’s made a strong comeback since then, with prestigious screenings and a BBC broadcast as part of the “Reggae Britannia” season.
Certainly it’s a unique film, the only one of its kind to examine the harsh life of Jamaican immigrants in London during that time. Babylon represents the first time in UK cinema where British reggae culture and Rastafarianism were explored in a non-documentary. Director Rosso was raised in south London himself and knew exactly where to find visually arresting backdrops of urban decay in Brixton and Deptford.
At its best the VHS cassette cover was a mini work of art telling you everything that’s good about the movie inside the box. At worst, well it’s just video clickbait offering up spurious imagery of sex and violence created by (it would seem) drug-addled monkeys left in a room way too long with typewriters and a whole set of day-glo paints to play with.
I could be wrong but it would seem that the VHS cover art genre has consistently offered up the very worst promotional art imaginable. I know there are plenty of self-published e-books out there with ghastly homemade photoshop covers that a five-year-old could do better with their eyes shut—but VHS tape covers were created by the paid talents of an artist—who painted the picture, a graphic designer—who produced the typographer and a sales guy—who obviously had no talent whatsoever, certainly no taste, but apparently the largest say on what went on the label. Rummage through any VHS bin in your local thrift store and you’ll find plenty of these crimes against culture
It should also be noted for the edification of future generations that these lurid retina-burning creations were not just the preserve of the USA—every country in the world had their own taste bypass when it came to the packaging for movies on VHS. This little gallery offers a stocktake of VHS covers from Germany during the 1980s.
No, not a tale of dark and depraved demonic sex but ‘The Howling.’
David Lynch is like our nation’s super-fun, super-weird uncle, and it’s high time that he decided to get involved with a music festival. To his credit, he’s not riding the coattails of an established festival but has started one up from scratch.
It’s called the Festival of Disruption, and it’s going to happen in downtown Los Angeles on October 8 and 9. Lynch has put together the kind of impressive lineup of guests that you can only muster if you’ve long since become Hollywood royalty (albeit in a surrealist sort of way).
There will also be “talks” with figures such as the stars of Lynch’s masterpiece Blue Velvet (Kyle MacLachlan & Laura Dern), Blondie’s Debbie Harry and Chris Stein, and Mel Brooks, who was Lynch’s producer on The Elephant Man. There will also be screenings of Lynch’s films, daily Transcendental Meditation sessions, and more.
The venue is the Ace Theatre Hotel and Theatre, located at 929 South Broadway. Tickets go on sale Friday, June 24th at 10:00 a.m. PST. 100% of the proceeds will benefit the David Lynch Foundation, whose mission is reducing toxic stress and trauma among at-risk populations, including victims of domestic violence, veterans suffering from PTSD, and underserved urban youth, through the evidence-based Transcendental Meditation technique.
I blog about French music producer Drixxxe‘s superb mixes of songs from ‘70s softcore porn-y films every time he releases a new one. Drixxxe just added another mix to the “Sextape” theme and it’s good. Like really good. Listen to it, below.
A lot of these mixes don’t have tracklists, but some of songs come from films like Sessomatto, Black Lolita, Aunt Peg, Madame Claude, Emmanuelle and the Girls of Madame Claude, Vampyros Lesbos, Sex O’Clock USA, Skin Flicks, Odyssey, Le Sex Shop and Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals and many, many more.
If you can’t get enough of the “Sextape” series, click here to listen to more mixes. There’s hours and hours of this softcore music for your pleasure awaiting you. What are you waiting for? Call now…
Most days if you ask me to name my favorite actress, I’m going to answer Meiko Kaji.
The Japanese singer and star of dozens of films, notably the Stray Cat Rock series and the Lady Snowblood movies, is a haunting beauty with a commanding screen presence, able to convey more with one squint of her eye than most actors could in an entire page of dialogue.
I was thrilled to learn that my favorite Blu-Ray label, Arrow Video (who I’ve professed my love for on this blog before) is releasing my top-pick Meiko Kaji film, Female Convict Scorpion: Jailhouse 41 in a glorious 2K HD restoration as part of a box set along with the three other films in the Scorpion series.
Arrow’s box set of the “Scorpion” films is available for pre-order HERE.
The entire Scorpion, or Sasori series, which consists of the films Female Convict 701: Scorpion, Female Convict Scorpion: Jailhouse 41, Female Convict Scorpion: Beast Stable, and Female Convict Scorpion: Grudge Song are all visually striking early ‘70s Japanese exploitation films filled with violent imagery, but it’s the second film in the series that goes well above and beyond the genre.
Female Convict Scorpion: Jailhouse 41 contains all of the stock violence, humiliation, and revenge elements of the women-in-prison formula, but director Shunya Ito’s stylized manga-inspired set-pieces, camera techniques, and avant-garde compositions are downright lysergic at times. The film tends to transcend its own narrative, becoming a stunning dreamscape, rising above its lowbrow subject matter to become a profoundly important cinematic vision. A vision that, sadly, many will write off due to the fact that it’s, well, a women-in-prison flick.
I curate a long-running cult film series at a local arthouse, and had the pleasure of presenting Female Convict Scorpion: Jailhouse 41 to a packed theater who, by and large, had never seen the film before. I’ve had several patrons tell me since that it is now one of their favorite films.
In the film Matsu, nicknamed “Scorpion,” is hogtied in solitary confinement due to her willfully rebellious nature. Little do the warden or guards know that even tied, Scorpion has been creating a shank by holding a spoon in her teeth and sharpening it by scraping on the concrete floor. Scorpion is trapped in a never-ending cycle of violent rebellion and brutal reprisals, but nothing can break her. Eventually she escapes prison with six other female inmates, leading them on a violent rampage, exacting ruthless revenge on the men who have wronged her.
Director Ito has described the Scorpion character as “the ultimate rebel.” Much like Eastwood’s “Man With No Name,” Matsu barely speaks a word throughout the entire series. She’s an absolute outsider, completely unbreakable, single-mindedly dedicated to revenge, and, perhaps, the most graceful yet savage feminist anti-hero ever to glare at an audience from the silver screen.
The recurring theme song of the Scorpion films is the evocative “Urami-Bushi” which became a hit song and is sung by Meiko Kaji herself. Quentin Tarantino liked it so much he pilfered it for Kill Bill.
Here’s Meiko Kaji performing the song on Japanese televison:
An unused fake mug shot of John Belushi taken during the filming of ‘The Blues Brothers.’
I must admit a bit of bias when it comes to this post as its about my very favorite film of all time (and perhaps yours too), what could easily be considered the greatest credit in director John Landis’ long career, 1980’s The Blues Brothers.
John Belushi, Dan Aykroyd, and Carrie Fisher looking cozy on the set of ‘The Blues Brothers.’
Of particular interest are the images of Dan Aykroyd and a 23-year-old Carrie Fisher looking quite cozy alongside her fictional cold-footed fiancee in the film, charismatic comedian John Belushi. Which of course got me wondering if I had somehow missed out on the news that the two actors had perhaps had a shotgun free, off-screen fling. As it turns out, Fisher was actually briefly engaged to Dan Aykroyd who asked her to marry him after he “saved her life” by performing the Heimlich maneuver when she was choking on what Fisher recalls was a boring old brussel sprout, not a fistfull of Quaaludes. Sadly the engagement didn’t last, and Fisher left Aykroyd for her former paramour Paul Simon whom she would marry in 1983—the same year that Aykroyd married former Miss Virginia of 1976, blonde beauty queen and actress, Donna Dixon.
Of course, the scene where Joliet Jake and Elwood take a scenic 100 mph drive through the Dixie Square Mall (you know, the place that had “everything”) is probably the very first thing that most people think of when it comes to The Blues Brothers. The mall had been left to decline after closing its doors in 1979 and had since become an epicenter for gang violence and vandalism. A good bit of timing for Landis who proposed the idea of letting his movie crew and two actors—wearing dark sunglasses with a full tank of gas and a half a pack of cigarettes—finish it off. Dixie Square got a Hollywood makeover, and Landis let the cameras roll while Belushi and Aykroyd tore it apart again like a pair of wild dogs. However, the scene where the Blues Mobile makes its final journey to the place where they “have that Picasso,” Daley Plaza, proved to be a bit more difficult to pull off. So Landis sent John Belushi off to work his charm on the mayor of Chicago at the time, Jane Byrne.
According to Byrne, she met with a very “sweaty and nervous” John Belushi in her office who offered her a $200,000 donation to Chicago’s orphans if she would allow them to film that scene and others in Chicago. Byrne of course agreed and large group of stunt people, six camera crews; 300 extras (with an additional 100 dressed up as Chicago’s finest); 300 members of the National Guard decked out as soldiers; a four-man SWAT team; seven mounted police officers; three Sherman M3 tanks; five fire engines and two Bell Jet Ranger helicopters were unleashed on Daley Plaza. To the great satisfaction of Mayor Byrne who was not a fan of Chicago’s 48th mayor, Richard J. Daley who no longer dines at Chez Paul because he’s dead. Tons of intriguing images shot during the making of this remarkable rock and roll cinematic triumph follow. Dig it!
Former Chicago mayor Jane Byrne and her daughter Kathy wearing Jake and Elwood’s signature hats and sunglasses with Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi.
Pope John Paul II paying a visit to the set of ‘The Blues Brothers’ to ‘bless the set.’ Here, John Belushi can be seen kissing the Pope’s ring.