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Derek Jarman: The iconoclast filmmaker as painter
04.13.2016
10:02 am

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Art
Heroes
Movies
Queer

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Derek Jarman became a filmmaker by accident. He was originally a painter, an artist who started making home movies with friends at his Bankside home in London. These Super-8 films slowly evolved into movies and one of the most exciting, original and provocative filmmakers since Ken Russell arrived. During a seventeen-year career Jarman made eleven feature films—from the Latin and sand romp Sebastiane through his punk movie Jubilee (1978) to Caravaggio (1986) and the final one color movie Blue. During all of this time, the artist, director, writer, gardener and diarist painted.

Jarman was a student the Slade School of Art in the 1960s where he was taught—like everyone else—to be an “individual.” Jarman felt he was already managing that quite well in that department without being told how. He left art school and worked as a set designer with Ken Russell—most spectacularly on The Devils in 1971 and then Savage Messiah in 1973. His painting career splits into different sections; his early work reflected his interest in landscape, form and color—something which would recur in his films—his later work reflecting his more personal experience. However, as he began making films Jarman shifted from using paint to creating pictures with celluloid.

His return to painting came after his HIV diagnosis in 1986, when he produced a series of Black Paintings—collages made from objects found on the beach at his cottage in Dungeness. He placed these objects on an oily black background—similar to the contrasting black of the tableaux he used in Caravaggio the same year.

As his condition worsened, Jarman painted larger, more abstract canvases. He given a room to paint in where he splashed the canvas with thick bright paints and scrolling words and statements. His influence came from his life, his own films and the work of Jackson Pollock. The brightness and color of the paintings were a defiance in the face of illness.
 
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‘Landscape with Marble Mountain’ (1967).
 
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‘Landscape with a Blue Pool’ (1967).
 
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‘Avesbury’ III (1973).
 
More of Derek Jarman’s paintings after the jump….

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘The biggest thing since World War III’: Lou Reed, Debbie Harry, and Iggy Pop talk ‘Rock and Rule’
04.12.2016
12:25 pm

Topics:
Animation
Movies
Music

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The 1983 animated rock and roll movie Rock and Rule was a failure at the box office but found its audience on cable TV a couple years later. Produced by the Canadian animation studio Nelvana, the movie is a sci-fi rock and roll allegory between good and evil, pitting a rock band of cute mutants called the Drats against an ageing, Mephistophelian rock star/sorcerer named Mok who is intent on securing a special voice capable of unleashing a powerful demon from another dimension who will make Mok immortal. Rock and Rule had a similar look and feel to Heavy Metal, which came out in 1981.

Heavy Metal, true to its title, used music by Blue Öyster Cult, Journey, Grand Funk Railroad, Nazareth, Sammy Hagar, and, er, Donald Fagen, and similarly, Rock and Rule benefited from the contributions of Maurice White of Earth, Wind & Fire as well as Lou Reed, Iggy Pop, and Chris Stein and Debbie Harry of Blondie.

Nelvana released a 25-minute promo documentary about the making of the movie.  “Making of” documentaries of animated movies always have the potential to be dreadfully dull (due to the exacting and painstaking process involved), but in this case, since the subject matter of the movie is so much about rock and roll itself, it’s only appropriate to feature a lot of interviews with the musicians, which is the strategy adopted here.

Interestingly, both Maurice White and Chris Stein separately offer the perspective that they like writing music for movies because the overall artistic direction is already decided. Producer Michael Hirsh notes that Debbie Harry and Chris Stein were good choices as musical contributors because it was so exceedingly likely that they would give so much of themselves to the project.

Lou Reed, composer and singer of “My Name Is Mok,” had this to say about the movie’s heavy:
 

I felt very positive towards Mok because there are many things to work with, with him, I could identfy with him up to a point, but he was—the way he looked, the things he said, the kind of things he believed in, there were a lot of ways I could relate to that, and even though I don’t necessarily think that way I could really bite into his character and become that way with him, you know, and make him live and breathe like a real person.

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘Danger: Diabolik!’ Ennio Morricone Spy-Fi classic covered by Mike Patton
04.11.2016
02:45 pm

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Movies
Music

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Mario Bava‘s campy 1968 action flick Danger: Diabolik—which stars John Phillip Law and Marisa Mell as a couple of stylish, leather-clad jewel thieves—exists in the exact part of the Venn diagram where James Bond and Barbarella meet. The film was produced by Dino De Laurentiis, who also produced Barbarella that same year and John Phillip Law, of course, famously played Pygar the blind angel in the sexy sci fi classic. Sicilian-born heavy Adolfo Celi—who played “Valmont” the crime boss and Diabolik’s arch enemy—was best known for his portrayal of eyepatch-wearing SPECTRE badguy “Emilio Largo” in Thunderball.
 

 
Law’s suave Diabolik—a “master sports car racer, master skin diver, master lover” created by sisters Angela and Luciana Giussani in 1962—can be seen as a sort of antihero version of James Bond and the insanely gorgeous Marisa Mell—who was the inspiration for the comic book Vampirella character—is the equal of any of the Bond girls in the pulchritude department. Roman Coppola’s 2001 film CQ deals with the making of a Danger: Diabolik meets Barbarella-style romp, entitled “Codename: Dragonfly,” a cinematic homage that would be obvious to any fan of the Mario Bava cult film.
 

 
Danger: Diabolik‘s Ennio Morricone-composed soundtrack contains one of the greatest “Spy Fi” songs of that decade, the title theme, “Deep Down.” Obviously this is the maestro’s first run at a James Bond theme, or at least a pastiche of one. With a languid, string-bending Duane Eddy-ish guitar line that sounds like an underwater whale call and the powerful lungs of Christy—a pretty decent stand-in for the likes of, say, Shirley Bassey—it’s memorable, even awe-inspiring...

More after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
RECOMMENDATION: NO: Read the brutal rejection letter for the first draft of ‘Boogie Nights’
04.11.2016
12:39 pm

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Movies

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I am a staunch appreciator of Boogie Nights. It would definitely be on my shortlist for my list of best movies of the 1990s. I liked it the first time I saw it as a new movie, but to be honest the subject matter squicked me out a little bit, and it took a few more viewings for me to appreciate what a rich, funny, resonant, accomplished piece of work it is.

Some Paul Thomas Anderson fans might opt for Magnolia or There Will Be Blood or The Master as Anderson’s best movie, but to me that’s all poppycock—the right answer is clearly Boogie Nights in my mind. It’s one of those movies that every time I stumble upon it on TV, I’m going to watch it to the end. I love everything about it.
 

Paul Thomas Anderson and some of his Boogie Nights cast members
 
Released in October of 1997, the movie was eventually distributed by New Line and had a production budget of $15 million. Anderson, however, had considerable difficulty getting the project off the ground; three years earlier, in October of 1994, at the age of 24, Anderson submitted a draft of the script to Twentieth Century Fox, which rejected it. Anderson put the project on the back burner and concentrated on finishing what would prove to be his debut, Hard Eight, which first saw audiences at the 1996 Cannes film festival.

Here’s Fox’s assessment of the various parts of the script:
 

RECOMMENDATION:  NO
CONCEPT: POOR
CHARACTERIZATION: FAIR
DIALOGUE: FAIR
STORYLINE: POOR

 
Keep reading after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
The Mutilator: Long-lost 80s slasher rediscovered, returns bloodier than ever
04.08.2016
10:08 am

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Movies

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“By sword, by pick, by axe, bye bye,” reads the tagline from The Mutilator‘s poster art which was ubiquitous in every mom-and-pop video store’s horror section in the mid-1980s. Anyone who grew up as a horror fan in the VHS era who hadn’t seen the bloody 1985 gorefest, had at least surely seen the video box artwork. You couldn’t really miss the menacing gaffe that threatens to disembowel four teenagers hanging by hooks just above that title that leaves absolutely no doubt as to the film’s content: this is a movie about a guy that mutilates people. If you’ve seen the unrated version (the film was originally released in “R” and “unrated” versions on VHS and betamax), you know the film delivers the goods.

As a teenage Fangoria-subscribing gore-hound, The Mutilator was one of my favorites of the slasher genre. As a low-budget film, it’s “got a lot of heart.” In what initially seems like a dragging ramp-up, screen-time is actually taken to develop likable characters with unique personalities—not simply establish machete fodder. Once we get to know and care about those characters, the killer wastes no time in dispatching with them in various grisly ways. One particular scene, in fact, is so over-the-top that I’m left wondering to this day how they were able to get away with it in 1985. Then again, it might be even more difficult to get away with something like it in today’s current culture of outrage. This scene, involving a gaffe and a woman’s hoo-ha, remains the most talked-about and notorious scene in The Mutilator. It’s a rough watch, not for the faint-of-heart.
 

Miss, you don’t want to know what comes next.
 
The Mutilator was shot in coastal North Carolina by Buddy Cooper, a first-time director with a cobbled-together crew of locals and American University film students. Though some reviews have described the production as “amateurish,” I’ve always felt that there was a vibe to this film indicating that everyone involved had a blast with what they were doing. I think that’s one of the reasons it’s always stuck with me: the actors’ performances, while not always perfect, are nonetheless engaging and fun. The special effects created by make-up wizard Mark Shostrom (later of From Beyond, Evil Dead 2, A Nightmare of Elm Street 3) elevate The Mutilator to a higher tier of splatterdom than your typical ‘80s Halloween and Friday the 13th clones. The murder pieces are original and the ending is totally nuts.

An interview with Buddy Cooper, director of ‘The Mutilator,’ after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
Found: Lost behind-the-scenes Polaroids from ‘The Rocky Horror Picture Show’
04.06.2016
09:19 am

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Heroes
Movies

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Imagine traveling home one night and finding a set of behind-the-scenes photos from one of your favorite shows. Well, something like that did happen to Brady Marter, who later uploaded his prized find onto the Collector’s Weekly site:

Founds these on the platform of the C train in TriBeCa in 2011. They are photos of Tim Curry and the cast of Rocky Horror during the making of the film. Some have writing on the back and Frankenfurter kissed the back of one.

Obviously, these beauties from The Rocky Horror Show weren’t just deliberately discarded or tossed out with the garbage, but were accidentally dropped by collector Larry Viezel who posted on the site:

These were part of a collection I bought from someone in New Mexico. These were used in making The Rocky Horror Scrapbook. I had it shipped to my office (I worked on the corner of Hudson and Canal) and was taking them home. A bunch fell out of my bag and I picked them up. When I got home I realized I missed one. Looks like I missed more than one! If it’s any proof, I’d be happy to show you the rest of the collection.

Thankfully, the story does have a happy ending. Larry had his lost photos returned shortly after they appeared on Collector’s Weekly, as he exclusively tells Dangerous Minds:

The guy that found them was working just a few blocks away from where I was working in Manhattan at the time on Hudson Street when I lost them. But he had since moved to the south. He was very gracious and returned them. I was incredibly grateful. He asked if he could keep one of them - the photo of the model of the church. I was happy to oblige. The photos are now back with the rest of my collection. I am very happy to have them back!

Here are those lost and found Polaroids from Larry’s collection featuring Tim Curry trying on his costume for Dr. Frankenfurter, some sets and other cast members (Richard O’Brien) from the production of The Rocky Horror Show.
 
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More, plus a behind-the scenes documentary on ‘Rocky Horror’ from 1975, after the jump….

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
‘Wonderwall Music’: George Harrison’s little-known 1968 solo album
04.05.2016
01:37 pm

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Movies
Music

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George Harrison’s exotic soundtrack to Joe Massot’s swinging 60s cinematic head trip Wonderwall was the first solo Beatle project (that is if you don’t count Paul McCartney’s 1966 soundtrack to The Family Way, which was credited to The George Martin Orchestra). 1968’s Wonderwall Music is all over the musical map—delightfully so—with songs ranging from classical Indian ragas to jaunty nostalgic-sounding numbers to proto-metal guitar freakouts. It’s a minor classic, I wish more people knew about it. I’ve long been an enthusiastic evangelist for this album, sticking tracks on mixed CDs and tapes for quite some time. Even avowed Beatlemaniacs tend to have missed out on Wonderwall Music. It’s a real overlooked gem.
 

George Harrison recording with Indian classical musicians in Bombay, 1968. Harrison Family Trust
 
Harrison’s principle collaborator for the Wonderwall soundtrack was orchestral arranger John Barham who transcribed Harrison’s “western” melodies into a musical annotation that the Indian musicians in Bombay could work with. Barham was a student—and collaborator—of Indian sitarist Ravi Shankar who had introduced him to the quiet Beatle. Barham—who would soon go on to compose the soundtrack to Alejandro Jodorowsky’s psychedelic western El Topo and contribute to Harrison’s All Things Must Pass—played piano, harmonium and flugelhorn, and acted the role of orchestral arranger on certain tracks.
 

 
With Barham, Ringo Starr (under the pseudonym “Richie Snare”) and Eric Clapton (here credited as “Eddie Clayton) along with some session musicians, and a Liverpool band called the Remo Four, Harrison recorded the “English” portion of Wonderwall Music in December 1967. The Indian classical musicians were recorded the following month in Bombay. Peter Tork from the Monkees played an uncredited banjo part that was used for a cue in the movie, if not on the record. It was released on November 1, 1968, just a few weeks before the White Album and was the very first release on Apple Records. It’s probably not too much of a stretch to call it the first “world music” project of a major rock musician. If it’s not the very first, it is certainly among the very first of its kind (and Harrison spent a considerable sum out of his own pocket to underwrite the expense of recording in Bombay). But Wonderwall Music‘s far too quirky to be considered strictly a world music album. Some of it sounds like the New Vaudeville Band after they’ve drunk lots and lots of coffee. Some of it sounds, not surprisingly, like psychedelic instrumental Beatle outtakes.

There are a lot of great tracks on Wonderwall Music, but the one I want to highlight first is “Ski-ing” a two-minute long sonic SCREAMER wherein Eric Clapton and Harrison come up with the blueprint for the Buttlhole Surfers’ guitar sound back when Paul Leary was just a tyke.
 

 
Continues after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘The NeverEnding Story’-themed tablet covers
04.05.2016
10:32 am

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Books
Movies
Pop Culture

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Get it here

If you’re an 80s kid like me, you might really, really appreciate these handmade NeverEnding Story tablet covers. I found three of them online made by two different Etsy shops. The prices can range anywhere from $29.95 to $50. I have linked where you can buy ‘em under each image.


 

Get it here
 
More after the jump…
 

Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
Killer silhouettes of 80s VHS horror movie box art
04.01.2016
01:44 pm

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Art
Movies

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The excellent recent documentary The Nightmare examines the topic of sleep paralysis, a condition which causes terrifying waking hallucinations in its victims. Many of the sufferers of sleep paralysis describe similar visions. In fact, these descriptions are often so alike, it’s uncanny. One of the typical hallucinatory images described is that of a shadowy silhouetted figure. Sometimes there are three of these figures, the leader of which is usually wearing some sort of a hat. This hat-wearing dream-stalking shadow is said to have been the original basis for the Freddy Krueger character from A Nightmare on Elm Street.

There is something very primal about this shadow figure that haunts the dreams of sleep paralysis sufferers. This dark silhouette is something ingrained into our animal brains as an anthropomorphic personification of fear itself.

I was reminded of the demons of sleep paralysis when I ran across a post from Camera Viscera collecting scads of VHS horror covers all with the thematic connection of having a silhouette figuring prominently in the artwork. You can check their site or their Facebook page for even more of these “kill-houettes.”

Below is a gallery of the finest examples of shadow terror art.

Happy nightmares, folks:
 

 

 

 
More 80s VHS kill-ouettes after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
Exquisite bloodstained Italian giallo-themed playing cards
04.01.2016
09:11 am

Topics:
Games
Movies

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The Italian “giallo” genre of highly-stylized, gruesome, murder-mystery thrillers is the subject of a new product being produced by Cultzilla in the UK. Cinquanta due carte all ‘ombra di giallo!’ is a stunning deck of giallo-themed playing cards housed in a classy custom designed box. The gorgeous deck is currently available for pre-order and all profits from the sale will go to two autism charities (Autism Anglia and Swedish Autism and Asperger Association).

The point cards are all posters from giallo films, while the ace cards are all murder weapons.

The jacks are actors Fabio Testi, Jean Sorel, Ivan Rassimov, and George Hilton. The queen cards are actresses Edwige Fenech, Anita Strindberg, Florinda Bolkan, and Barbara Bouchet. The kings are directors Mario Bava, Dario Argento, Sergio Martino, and Lucio Fulci.
 

 
According to their site, the cards are available for pre-order until April 24th:

This is strictly a charity project, and no one is taking any profit from it. The pre order will remain open until 24th April, then I will order the decks, each one will be numbered and there will be no more print runs, so this is definitely a one off project, so if you want a deck, make sure you preorder it.  I would expect to send out the decks at the beginning of May.

The design work on these beauties is absolutely exquisite. The decks are priced at £12.50 each plus postage. Details are available at Cultzilla.
 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Christopher Bickel | Leave a comment
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