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Comedy of Terrors: Hammer Horror Trading Cards from 1976
08.04.2016
09:03 am

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hammercard09.jpg
 
In 1976 Topps released a set of Shock Theatre trading cards that featuring gory stills from classic Hammer horror films. Each pack sold contained three cards and one stick of chewing gum. On the front cover was a cartoon of Christopher Lee as Dracula. A speech bubble from his blood-splattered mouth said “It sure doesn’t taste like tomato juice!” It set the tone for the cards inside.

Each card had a still from one of Hammer’s famous movies. For some reason there were more vampires than man-made monsters. The films featured were Dracula Has Risen for the Grave, Taste the Blood of Dracula, Dracula AD 1972, The Satanic Rites of Dracula and Frankenstein Must be Destroyed. The images were framed in red with a truly godawful joke across the bottom. There were fifty cards in total to collect. Though apparently there was no #47 and two #17s.

I remember when these came out—but was too busy spending my hard-earned pocket money on books, records and single cigarettes. I loved horror movies. I was a cheerleader for Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee. But I didn’t take to this particular series because of the dumbass quips plastered across each card. With that earnestness only a child can muster I thought the “jokes” demeaned the artistry of Hammer movies. Yeah, I know…

But now: I’m older. And know a little better. Enough to admit I should have bought them just for the money these babies fetch on the collectors’ market.

View the full set of Hammer Horror trading cards over at The Reprobabte.
 
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More gory Hammer horror trading cards, after the jump…

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
Japan’s most mysterious band, Les Rallizes Dénudés
08.04.2016
08:33 am

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Takashi Mizutani, leader of Les Rallizes Dénudés
 
Best Buy doesn’t stock Les Rallizes Dénudés. Then again, for a long time, nobody did. My own introduction to the band came in the form of a CD-R my friend Max handed me sometime around the end of W.‘s first term. Though their force was undeniable, the recordings were murky; I resolved to find authorized Rallizes releases, best quality, straight from the source. But when I started digging through CDs and LPs at L.A. record stores, I was surprised how hard it was to find Rallizes product of any kind, legit or no. The few items my search did turn up were shoddily packaged bootlegs with hideous cover art. Have you seen the jacket of Blind Baby Has Its Mother’s Eyes? It is a masterpiece of graphic design by comparison with most Rallizes product.

As usual, I had to wait for Julian Cope to come along and turn confusion into sense. The chapter on Les Rallizes Dénudés in Cope’s Japrocksampler explains that the band, between forming in 1967 and busting in 1996, never recorded in a studio or put out albums. Like, on principle. All product was counterfeit:

So how do we actually know of Les Razilles Dénudés if they don’t even release records? Through bootlegs, bootlegs and more bootlegs. Indeed, Les Razilles Dénudés has operated in this manner for so long now that both musicians and fans know so far in advance what to expect from each other that there’s even a caste system within that world of bootlegs. Yup, while certain Rallizes LPs are considered so much less bootleggy than others that they’ve almost become official in the minds of fans, others are just dismissed as cash-ins, re-runs and ... well, just plain bootlegs.

 

 
(Technically, they did record in the studio, and they apparently sanctioned a release or two. Red Bull Music Academy’s Grayson Currin, writing about his recent attempts to track down the group’s reclusive leader, Takashi Mizutani, says the Rallizes did eventually put out an official record—in 1991, some five years before they finally hung it up. And the Rallizes’ side of 1973’s double live compilation Oz Days Live is also alleged to be official. These are quibbles: If Cope is exaggerating, it’s in the service of truth.) 

Those seeking a fleshed-out version of the Rallizes’ skeletal bio are directed to Japrocksampler, but briefly: radical Francophile Takashi Mizutani formed the group as a college student in the ‘60s, when, Cope writes, French culture still found devotees among postwar Japanese youth looking for a revolutionary alternative to Uncle Sam. That means: Cool for these guys was ice cold. Deadpan as the Velvets or Spacemen 3, Mizutani and his bandmates identified with the loudest, darkest and most destructive aspects of psych-rock. Cope quotes this cryptic text from the Rallizes’ late ‘60s flyers:

For those young people – including you – who live this modern agonising adolescence and who are wanting the true radical music, I sincerely wish the dialogue accompanied by piercing pain will be born and fill this recital hall.

 

 
The deep alienation in their art spilled over into the headlines on March 31, 1970, when one of the Rallizes’ founding members, bassist Moriaki Wakabayashi, took part in the Japanese Red Army Faction’s hijacking of a plane. (Wakabayashi and three other hijackers still live in North Korea, which offered asylum.) The association with Communist terrorism did not exactly do wonders for the band’s career, and according to Cope, Mizutani never recovered from the catastrophe of the hijacking, retreating into deeper and darker isolation.

Keep reading after the jump…

Posted by Oliver Hall | Leave a comment
‘LET ME DIE IN DRAG!’: The sleazy pulp paperbacks of ‘Plan 9 from Outer Space’ director Ed Wood
08.03.2016
09:07 am

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During the 1960s, several years after he’d begun making himself infamous as one of the greatest terrible auteurs in the history of cinema, Edward D. Wood Jr. moonlit as the author of lurid pulp novels, many about gay men, which he wasn’t, and cross-dressers, which he rather famously was, with a fixation on angora so powerful it made its way into his film Glen or Glenda. (That last detail is actually Ed Wood 101 stuff, and if you haven’t seen the wonderful Tim Burton biopic about him, by all means, you should—the direction and performances are superb. If you’re more the bookish type, I’d suggest reading Nightmare of Ecstasy.)

Per SIN-A-RAMA, Feral House’s excellent survey of trashy sex novels (my DM colleague Chris Bickel told you all about it not long ago), Wood wrote not just under his own name, but under at least eight pseudonyms, and according to the outstanding 2011 exhibition catalog Ed Wood’s Sleaze Paperbacks, there were more than that—they list a few books as Wood’s that are credited to I shit you not Norman Bates.

This points to a big problem in identifying Wood’s work. Some pulp pseudonyms were shared by more than one author, and the possibility exists that some books attributed to Wood were falsely credited by unscrupulous vintage resellers seeking to increase their sale price. It seems odd that Wood used pseudonyms at all—he relished in being credited under his own name, and since many of his more scandalous pulps were published under his given name, it’s hard to imagine that the tamer stuff could serve as a blow to his reputation!

If you’d care to actually read this stuff, brace yourself for collector pricing—an asking price of $200 is on the low end for some of these. A few of them have been reprinted, though, and the collection Blood Splatters Quickly compiles short stories Wood wrote for adult magazines.
 

 

 
More of Ed Wood Jr.‘s pulp fiction, after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Tina Aumont: This beautiful bad girl was the junkie ‘Zelig’ of the 60s and 70s Euro underground
08.01.2016
07:49 pm

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The images, gifs and scans here come from the Tina Aumont Tumblr

Over the course of the past, say, twenty years, I’ve gradually become more and more aware of the late actress Tina Aumont, who died in 2006. She’s one of the great (albeit largely unknown) beauties of the 60s and 70s, and a sort of gorgeous bad girl “Zelig” figure uniting disparate famous people from old school Hollywood types to the Warhol crowd and 60s and 70s European film notables. Truly she was the junkie underground “Kevin Bacon” game connector of the era, if nearly forgotten today.

I first laid eyes on the luminous Aumont in Joseph Losey’s Modesty Blaise, but she was billed there under her married name Tina Marquand. I probably first read her name in Richard Witts’ Nico: The Life and Lies of an Icon, his 1995 biography of the Velvet Underground chanteuse. The first time I actually saw Aumont onscreen—and had any context for her—was later that same year when she was an interviewee in the Nico: Icon documentary.
 

 
So my entré to Tina Aumont was being a big Nico freak, which invariably led to an interest in the films of Nico’s paramour, bohemian French film director Philippe Garrel. Aumont was in several of Garrel’s underground films and was the one who first introduced Garrel—then seen as a sort of cinematic Rimbaud—to Nico in 1969, suggesting that her new music (The Marble Index) would be perfect for his Le Lit de la Vierge. (She gifted him with a version of “The Falconeer” heard only in that film, which starred Aumont, with Pierre Clémenti as Jesus.)
 

 
Aumont was born on Valentine’s Day of 1946 in Hollywood, California and it was at birth that her first Zelig-style cameo took place: Her mother was the ill-fated “Queen of Technicolor” Maria Montez, the exotic star of such films as Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves and Cobra Woman. (Jack Smith’s notoriously perverse Flaming Creatures is an homage to Montez and the word “camp” was practically coined to describe her flamboyant performances. Kenneth Anger has cited Cobra Woman as his favorite film.) Marlene Dietrich is said to have sung baby Tina to sleep and Jean Cocteau wrote a poem for her (“La Fille aux étoiles”) when she was born. An auspicious birth by any definition, but her mother died of a heart attack at the age of 31 when Tina was just five. Her father was the dashing French actor and war hero Jean-Pierre Aumont.
 

 
By the time she was 17, with the full approval and encouragement of her father, who thought she was a wild child and wanted to see her settle down, Tina married actor Christian Maquand in 1963. Maquand was a heartthrob actor who was in And God Created Woman playing opposite Brigitte Bardot. He also directed the star-studded adaptation of Terry Southern and Mason Hoffenberg’s Candy. He was 19 years her senior and close friends with director Roger Vadim and Marlon Brando. This is where her social circle really starts to expand. Imagine what a documentary might look like about Tina Aumont, containing as it would film footage and photographs of her at that age alongside of people like Brando, Vadim, Jane Fonda, Roman Polanski and Donald Cammell. The great New York acting teacher Stella Adler. Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and the Stones inner circle: art dealer Robert Fraser, Stash Klossowski and Marianne Faithfull. Bob Dylan. The Who. You get the picture.

Keep reading after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Tiny Tim plays a creepy clown in the godawful ‘Blood Harvest’
08.01.2016
04:48 pm

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Bill Rebane’s Blood Harvest would be a totally unremarkable bad movie if not for the inspired casting choice of having none other than Tiny Tim play the deeply unsettling clown “Marvelous Mervo.” Made in 1987 in Wisconsin, Blood Harvest is a riot of bad dialogue, bad acting, softcore sex scenes and a bit of splatter. Rebane’s cinematic anti-style is warmed over Herschell Gordon Lewis with a topping of moldy cheese in the form of the wonderfully silly Tiny Tim.

According to IMDB:

Tiny Tim was making a personal appearance at a beer carnival in Lincoln County, Wisconsin, in 1985, and local filmmaker Bill Rebane was in the audience. He had an idea for a horror film and decided to see if Tiny Tim was interested in appearing in it. He was. This is the result.

No part of Stranger Things was inspired by this 80s atrocity. It does have a nice twist at the end but I ain’t going to spoil it for you.
 

 
This cut is comprised of all of the scenes in which Tiny Tim appears. I generally link to sites where you can buy whatever I’m reviewing but Blood Harvest is long out of print on DVD. I found a copy for $100, but as much as I do love me some Tiny Tim playing a freaky clown, I’ll wait for the Criterion release with five hours of extras.

At the 2:32 point in the video I detect an homage to The Shining. Marvelous Mervo’s “I’m here” followed by actress Itonia Salchek looking more than a little bit like Shelley Duvall.

The credit crawl is included so you can enjoy in its entirety the fab song “Marvelous Mervo” written by Tom Zang and sung by Tiny.
 

Posted by Marc Campbell | Leave a comment
‘Fantastic Planet’: Spellbinding images from the futuristic 1973 masterpiece
08.01.2016
08:32 am

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A movie poster for ‘Fantastic Planet.’
 
I recently saw a 35mm presentation of director René Laloux’s Fantastic Planet, his animated adaptation of a 1950s science fiction novel by French writer Stefan Wul titled Oms en Série. When La Planète sauvage (or Fantastic Planet) was released in 1973 initial impressions expressed in reviews attempted to draw comparisons to the Czech opposition to the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. Wul went on the record to clear up the rumor (as the book had been written a many years prior to the invasion) saying that Fantastic Planet was truly a work of fiction—and not a political dramatization hiding beneath the cloak of a sci-fi premise.
 

A ‘Dragg’ and his ‘Oms.’
 
Working with far-out French illustrator and long-time collaborator the great Roland Topor, Laloux set out to give Wul’s novel an animated life of its own. The two assembled a team of talented illustrators and artists from Czechoslovakia which during the 60s and 70s were well known within the realm of animation in film for their innovation in the art. Though it was not the only film to use “cut-out” animation (a style of animation used in film starting back in the early 1900s) the laborious work of Fantastic Planet’s talented crew was done frame-by-frame without the aid of modern digital technology.

Reminiscent of the surreal creations of Hieronymus Bosch the story tells the tale of the inhabitants of Ygam—a place where giant blue titans called “Draags” toy with humans (or Oms) who have few other options other than to be great pets. The epic triumph of Fantastic Planet would sadly mark the last time Laloux and Topor would work together. Though nothing can quite compare to the glory of seeing Fantastic Planet in 35mm, late last month Criterion released the film on Blu-ray which was mastered from the original 35mm along with a complete restoration of the soundtrack.

Striking images from this timeless film follow.
 

 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
‘You Are What You Eat’: Bonkers hippie-era relic featuring Tiny Tim
07.28.2016
09:14 am

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Given how widely-beloved disjointed counterculture films like 200 Motels and Head are, it’s kind of surprising that Peter Yarrow’s insane You Are What You Eat has remained so tenaciously underground.

Yarrow was the “Peter” in Peter, Paul & Mary, one of the most massively successful exponents of the folk scene that appeared poised to take over ‘60s pop music before Beatlemania came along—their 1980s PBS concert still gets rerun during pledge drives, so reliably does it haul in that fat boomer cash—and in 1968 Yarrow used some of his money and pull to finance a montage film of flower children freaking out to a lot of badass music. It was directed by one Barry Feinstein, who’d also worked on that year’s Monterey Pop documentary, ostensibly to document the fragmentation and identity crisis of the American youth movement post-Summer of Love. It’s hard to tell if that was what was intended, because complete versions of the film don’t seem to exist, and even complete versions would surely be as messy and disjointed. From a 2007 entry on WFMU’s Beware of the Blog:

Contradictions abound in regards to who and what are contained in the film. This stems from very few complete prints having survived. Many have claimed that Frank Zappa, Improv maven Del Close, nor Harper’s Bizarre are[n’t] even in the film and that the assertions and apocryphal. Others can describe these scenes with precise detail. All three are listed in the closing credits. The film’s “official” VHS release of the mid-nineties disappeared into obscurity almost immediately. That release, however, was still missing several minutes. The soundtrack LP also omits the sounds of several performances that appeared in the picture. All of these factors have contributed to speculation. The only known complete print of YAWYE has been doing the tour of the Cinematheque circuit for the past couple of years and has is housed in Berkeley, California. Columbia’s soundtrack LP was re-issued on CD in 1997, but only in Japan (naturally). The album remains generally elusive in North America.

More after the jump…

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Leave a comment
Marxism: Highlights from Groucho’s FBI file
07.27.2016
12:06 pm

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The other day I was refreshing my memory on Groucho’s LSD escapade with Paul Krassner, when it occurred to me that it might be beneficial to see if the FBI ever had a file on Groucho.

Of course they did, and it’s available for anyone to look at, heavily redacted of course. The Xerox machines at the FBI a few decades ago were super shitty (a feature not a bug?) so a lot of the pages you can’t make out a damn thing, but other sections are perfectly legible.

If you know anything about J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI, the contents here aren’t too surprising—they were mainly worried that Groucho might be a Commie (if not a Marxist) in the early to mid-1950s. There are countless (redacted) reports to the effect that Groucho had a lot of pro-Communist sympathies but was almost certainly not an actual party member. (I guess the G-men already knew that he’d refuse to join any club that would have him as a member?)  There are some interesting references to a quotation of Groucho’s that appeared in the Daily Worker in 1934 that went “The battle of the Communists for the lives of these boys is one that will be taught in Soviet America as the most inspiring and courageous battle ever fought.”

Keep in mind that in 1934 Hitler was running Germany but not yet regarded as an obvious scourge to be eliminated. Still his anti-Jewish sentiments were clear enough. As a well-informed Jewish American it would be weird if Groucho hadn’t gotten interested in Communism around then. Plus for similar reasons the mid-1930s was a high-water mark for leftist and/or pro-Soviet feeling, especially once the Spanish Civil War got going in 1936. A lot of people who weren’t all that political got into trouble later for things they did (and thought) before WWII.

There’s also some business about Groucho and Chico being found guilty in a copyright infringement case in 1937 and having to pay a $1,000 fine.

For some reason Groucho (né Julius) is invariably referred to as “GRAUCHO MARX.” Once we reach the 1960s he is referred to as “Groucho.” I don’t know what’s up with that. In the summary sections of the file there is some background about how musically talented Groucho and his brothers are—the musical talents of Harpo and Chico are well known, but the file also, intriguingly, says this: “GRAUCHO MARX is rated as one of the best guitar players in the country.”

Did any of you know that?? So Groucho Marx, was, in a sense (at least according to his FBI file) a peer of Charlie Christian, Jimi Hendrix, and Eddie Van Halen? Well, maybe, maybe not.

There’s some business I don’t understand from 1957 about someone trying to “extort” Groucho. I can’t tell if it’s just a weird piece of fan mail that was referred to the FBI that they were obliged to look into or something more serious. On that page there is this chilling passage:
 

The death threat letter sent to GROUCHO MARX from ELVIS PRESLEY fanatics from Brooklyn stating that GROUCHO wouldn’t live through the holidays, might seem ridiculous if it weren’t such a serious offense to send such a threat through the mails.


 
Much more from the Groucho file, after the jump…....

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
‘The Wall’: Stunning behind-the-scenes images from Pink Floyd’s harrowing cinematic acid trip
07.25.2016
10:30 am

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A behind-the-scenes images of Bob Geldof as ‘Pink’ and actual skinheads from the 1982 film ‘Pink Floyd - The Wall.’
 
I don’t know how many nights I spent in my youth tripping balls on acid in a dark movie theater with 100 or so of my stoned out peers watching 1982’s WTF film Pink Floyd - The Wall for the 20th time (I guess I answered my own question there: 20). It was truly a rite of passage where I grew up back in Boston and I know that wasn’t the only place where young minds were getting blown apart by visions of marching hammers or a bloody, soon to be eyebrowless Bob Geldof screaming “TAKE THAT FUCKERS!” as he tosses a television out of a window.

Before I continue, I’ll give you a minute to recover from that mini-flashback you just had.
 

Bob Geldof being transformed into your worst drug-induced nightmare.
 
If you are following the news at all these days (and I wouldn’t blame you if you and the “news” are on “a break” right now as most of it makes me want to hide under my bed) you’ve likely seen some of the comparisons from last week’s GOP Convention to scenes from director Alan Parker’s brilliant adaptation of Pink Floyd’s 1979 conceptual masterpiece, The Wall. As I am about as nostalgic as they come I decided to watch the film once again (sans acid this go ‘round) and it should be of no surprise that despite a lack of chemicals cavorting around in my head the film is still quite impossible to look away from. It is also quite possibly even more terrifying to watch now when you allow yourself to consider the parallels some scenes seem to run with the ugly rhetoric spewing from the mouths of elected officials and a man who is currently vying to occupy the highest political office in the United States.

But as I often do, I’ve once again digressed away from the point of this post which is to share with you some remarkable behind-the-scenes photos from The Wall that I had never seen before as well as an interesting tidbit about the film’s star Bob Geldof. Apparently Geldof (who’s allegedly the leader of a new liberal political “party” in England called the “Sneerers” in case you were wondering what he’s currently up to) couldn’t swim and was also massively phobic when it came to blood. So when it came time to film the scene where Pink is bleeding out in a swimming pool, the reluctant Geldof was placed on top of a see-through plastic body mold so he could appear to be floating in the pool among a cloud of his blood for the sequence. Yikes. Many of the images in this post can be found in a must-own book for any Floyd fan by David Appleby, Pink Floyd - Behind The Wall.
 

 

Director Alan Parker on the set of ‘The Wall’ with ‘Little Pink’ played by actor David Bingham.
 

Alan Parker and an eyebrowless Bob Geldof.
 
More glimpses behind ‘The Wall’ after the jump…

Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
Body Horror: David Cronenberg’s mad doctors… dissected
07.22.2016
09:56 am

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Oliver Reed as Dr. Hal Raglan in The Brood (1979)
 
David Cronenberg really directed some doozies between about 1975 and 1990…. actually he never stopped making remarkable movies, but that first big chunk of material represents most of what we think about when we throw out the word “Cronenbergian.” The prosaic yet unsettling visions he presented in Shivers, Rabid, The Brood, Scanners, Videodrome, The Dead Zone, The Fly, and Dead Ringers are the most thorough expression of the “body horror” genre and have no true equal in the canon of world cinema.

Until I watched L. C. Durham’s intriguing, er, dissection of Cronenberg’s repeated inclusion of unreliable medicos in this period, it had never occurred to me that the pattern was that strong. Get a load of this murderer’s row of medical professionals: Dr. Antoine Rouge, Dr. Emil Hobbes, Dr. Dan Keloid, Dr. Hal Raglan, Dr. Paul Ruth, Dr. Sam Weizak, Drs. Beverly and Elliot Mantle. It’s a lovely bunch, no? We can only wonder why Cronenberg had quite so much to say about doctors.

Keep reading after the jump…

Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
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