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Vampire Lesbians of Hammer
12.27.2014
09:28 am

Topics:
Movies

Tags:
horror
vampires
Hammer Films

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With all the hubbub about sexy vampires these days, courtesy of Twilight, True Blood and The Vampire Diaries, it’s time to take a short stroll down memory lane to the “golden age” of vampire lesbian cinema with Hammer’s so-called “Karnstein Trilogy.”

 

 
The first of the series, The Vampire Lovers, starred beautiful Polish actress Ingrid Pitt, who had previously played Elizabeth Bathory in Countess Dracula for Hammer. In The Vampire Lovers, Pitt played Carmilla Karnstein, the literary prototype for all vampire lesbians, a character created by author J. Sheridan Le Fanu in 1872. I saw the film on a late night “chiller theater” TV slot in the mid-seventies and while it’s actually a pretty decent, serviceable period piece horror film, uh, whatever... let’s get real here, the real attraction were the bare breasts of Ms. Pitt and crew! Without them no one would probably remember this film at all.

But ask any guy who grew up in the seventies —and a few gals, too, of course— who watched horror movies and they will know all about this film and its two sequels, which were often aired—astonishingly—with the nude scenes intact. Back in the seventies, this was a cause for celebration for teenage boys. I used to scour the TV Guide searching for weird things to watch and whenever there was a screening of one of these films, I can assure you that I didn’t have anything better to do that night!
 
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The second film in the Karnstein Trilogy was 1971’s Lust for a Vampire starring blond Danish hottie Yutte Stensgaard. Again, ask any middle-aged guy in America or England who watched horror films as a kid and… they will know the name Yutte Stensgaard, who is seen bare-breasted and smeared with blood in the film.
 

 
A still from this scene made frequent appearances in monster movie books and magazines devoted to the genre, providing somewhat unwholesome masturbatory fodder for an entire generation of horror film geeks (Sidestepping the implications of this matter entirely, here Stensgaard is seen signing it at a fan convention).
 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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It’s ‘Pink Flamingos’—for kids!
12.23.2014
08:04 am

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Movies

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John Waters
Pink Flamingos


 
The great outré film director John Waters will be screening his new movie Kiddie Flamingos in January, which reportedly depicts children performing a table read of his signature film, the utterly perverse midnight movie classic Pink Flamingos. This is Waters’ first new filmed work since 2004’s gleefully oversexed A Dirty Shame. Per ArtNews:

Called Kiddie Flamingos, the video depicts a table read of Waters’ 1972 film Pink Flamingos, which is as full of any kind of obscenity and depravity that one would hope to imagine–only here it’s been recast as a children’s movie, with child actors and all the X-Rated content “defanged and desexualized,” according to the gallery, which also calls this G-rated version “more perverse than the original.”

I am dying to know how a script as unabashedly raunchy as Pink Flamingos’ could possibly be bowdlerized into kid-safeness while leaving ANY of its plot intact. The film depicts a sexual act with a chicken, mother-son incest, murder, a singing butthole, the kidnapping and confinement of women for forced breeding, and, probably most infamously, the actual consumption of dog shit on camera. Screenings will be held at NYC’s Marianne Boesky Gallery, on W 24th St in Chelsea, as part of Waters’ exhibit “Beverly Hills John,” which is scheduled to run from January 9 - February 14, 2015.

Enjoy the original theatrical trailer for Pink Flamingos. As Waters himself points out in its brief introduction, it’s a montage of audience reactions, and no actual scenes from the film are shown!
 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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The Ho Ho Horror: Patton Oswalt’s amazing ‘Rudolph’ meets ‘Apocalypse Now’ parody


 
I can vividly remember growing up and watching those Rankin/Bass holiday specials every year. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, The Year Without a Santa Claus, Rudolph’s Shiny New Year. The New Year’s one I recall best, because I had, shall we say, “prominent” ears as a child, so I felt the Baby New Year’s pain when everyone cried “Those EARS!!” It was still a great program. And who can forget the Heat Miser and the Snow Miser from The Year Without a Santa Claus?

In Silver Screen Fiend, his forthcoming follow-up to his 2011 memoir Zombie Spaceship Wasteland, comedian and actor Patton Oswalt discusses in great detail his twentysomething years as an addict of cinema, and part of the tale involves his stint as a writer on MADtv in the mid-1990s. Oswalt excoriates himself for being a terrible employee of Rupert Murdoch, pitching abstruse sketch ideas and then not bothering to try to execute them properly and sneering at anyone in his orbit who didn’t happen to be swooning over Sam Peckinpah that very minute. He’s very hard on himself, but I suspect he threw in more useful writing ideas and was easier to get along with than he remembers—there’s a reason he stayed there for roughly two years, after all, and a reason The King of Queens wanted him as a featured player even though his acting chops were still being honed.
 

 
In any case, one of his cinephile pitches was to do a version of Francis Ford Coppola’s fractured 1979 masterpiece Apocalypse Now in the form of a Rankin/Bass Christmas special. It turns out they did it, but only after Oswalt was no longer on staff. Here’s a brief excerpt from Silver Screen Fiend on the subject in which he spreads the credit around as widely as possible:
 

There I was … at MADtv, struggling to explain to a network suit what Apocalypse Now was, and how it could be funny if done through the prism of a Rankin Bass special.* 

* They eventually shot my idea—a year after I left the show. Well, I really didn’t leave. They didn’t have me back. And with good fucking reason. I was a judgmental, sour asshole of a writer. Quick with a criticism and never with a fix. A comedy and film snob who rolled his eyes half the time and turned in typo-filled scripts. But they shot it. And put my name in the credits. Misspelled. Revenge? They were entitled. The sketch was called “A Pack of Gifts Now,” and it was lovingly animated by a stop-motion genius named Corky Quakenbush. An elf [actually a reindeer—Editor] is sent by toy makers to the North Pole to terminate “the Kringle” and his cultlike operation of toy makers “with extreme prejudice.” And, ironically enough, one of the producers I clashed with, Fax Bahr—who codirected the documentary Hearts of Darkness, about the making of … Apocalypse Now—shepherded the sketch through, with all of my visual jokes and references intact, and plenty of his own, which made the sketch even better. Even got a mention in TV Guide. Thanks, Fax. Sorry I was such a dick. Part of being in your twenties is not knowing an ally when you see one.

 
Not too surprisingly, given Oswalt’s status as a passionate consumer of comic books, movies, and TV shows, the details of the sketch, also executed to perfection, are what make it work—the use of eggnog as a substitute for scotch, the substitution of “Saskatchewan” for “Saigon” and “the Kringle” for “the colonel.”

For more on those early Rankin/Bass TV specials as well as “A Pack of Lies Now,” check out The Enchanted World of Rankin/Bass by Rick Goldschmidt.
 

Posted by Martin Schneider | Discussion
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‘The Prisoner’ meets ‘Brazil’ in Jim Henson’s surreal Kafkaesque nightmare ‘The Cube’
12.22.2014
08:22 am

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Movies

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Jim Henson
The Cube


 
Before breaking into the big time with Sesame Street, Jim Henson was an aspiring art house weirdo who counted among his early work, Time Piece, a brilliant surrealist, Oscar-nominated short and Youth 68 a probing documentary on 60’s youth culture featuring such high profile names as The Mamas and the Papas and Jefferson Airplane. Perhaps most unexpectedly, Henson also took a crack at experimental theater (as director, co-writer and producer) with the psychologically intense teleplay The Cube, in 1969. The hour-long performance was featured on NBC Experiment in Television, and ran only a few months before Sesame Street took over his career.

The Cube centers on an unnamed man who is inexplicably trapped in a white room with a grid overlay, from which there is no obvious escape. Despite this, a nonsensical assortment of characters keep making entrances and exits, providing little to no information or sympathy for the man’s predicament, (perhaps most cynically, a holy man who bestows upon him a useless religious relic). After being subjected to a parade of increasingly surreal characters (at some point gorilla suits make an appearance—a trope also explored in Time Piece), our protagonist becomes desperate and attempts suicide.

Suddenly he is escorted from his maddening prison and in a heart-breaking attempt at solipsistic reasoning, he believes that even in this nightmare world, he knows he exists. An accidental cut with a knife however, produces only strawberry jam for blood (jam is a theme throughout the play), and the man is suddenly back in his psychological prison. Disheartened, he sits back down, apparently defeated by the Cube.

The Cube stars veteran character actor Dick Schaal, a face seen frequently on 70s television, especially shows produced by Mary Tyler Moore’s MTM production company (he was married to Rhoda‘s Valerie Harper for many years). Schaal played “Chuckles the Clown” in one of the most famous episodes of The Mary Tyler Moore Show—the one where she starts laughing at his funeral—and was a Second City alum. He died last month at the age of 86.
 

Posted by Amber Frost | Discussion
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Charlie Chaplin: Color photographs on set as the Little Tramp, 1917-18
12.18.2014
07:55 am

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History
Movies

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Charlie Chaplin

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Charlie Chaplin made his first appearance as the “Little Tramp” one hundred years ago when he co-starred with Mabel Normand in the short Mack Sennett silent film Mabel’s Strange Predicament. But as it turned out the public’s first sight of Chaplin’s comic creation was in his second outing Kid Auto Races at Venice, which was made after Mabel’s Strange Predicament but released two days before it. Chaplin later explained how the Tramp came about—he had been asked by Sennett to put on some “funny make-up” for his appearance in Mabel’s Strange Predicament:

I went to the wardrobe and got a pair of baggy pants, a tight coat, a small derby hat and a large pair of shoes. I wanted the clothes to be a mass of contradictions, knowing pictorially the figure would be vividly outlined on the screen. To add a comic touch, I wore a small mustache which would not hide my expression.

My appearance got an enthusiastic response from everyone, including Mr. Sennett. The clothes seemed to imbue me with the spirit of the character. He actually became a man with a soul—a point of view. I defined to Mr. Sennett the type of person he was. He wears an air of romantic hunger, forever seeking romance, but his feet won’t let him.

These Autochrome color portraits of Chaplin as the Tramp were taken by photographer Charles C. Zoller (1854 – 1934) between takes on the set of one of Chaplin’s films circa 1917-18.
 
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Chaplin out of character.
 
Via Shooting Film.

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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‘Pulp Fiction’ underwater
12.17.2014
06:38 am

Topics:
Amusing
Movies

Tags:
Pulp Fiction
Samuel L. Jackson
The Kloons

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The Kloons have recreated an iconic scene from Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction shot-for-shot but with one major difference—they did the whole thing underwater. It’s the scene in which Marsellus Wallace’s henchmen (Samuel L. Jackson and John Travolta) visit some double-dealer Brett to collect a briefcase. Apart from the novel approach, what makes this brief clip supremely enjoyable is hearing Samuel L. Jackson’s spellbinding performance as Jules Winnfield recontextualized and blub-blubbed in this aquatic setting:

“Say ‘what’ again. Say ‘what’ again, I dare you, I double dare you motherfucker, say what one more Goddamn time!”

Truly wonderful.
 

 
Via Nerdcore!

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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Members of Curve and Primal Scream talk My Bloody Valentine’s ‘You Made Me Realise’


 
One upside of being “a certain age” is that some of the concerts you went to as a matter of course seem impossibly cool in hindsight, and for me, one of those was My Bloody Valentine on the Loveless tour. I doubt I have to tell anyone who bothered to click on this how amazing the show was, and I almost didn’t go! It was a fairly expensive ticket and I was a flat broke 20-year-old, but a friend with a little flow to spare—in a move that would mark her for sainthood in whatever religion I would be in if I was in one—bought me a ticket, just because she thought it was something I should see. (In kind, I would years later take her to see Kraftwerk in Chicago on her birthday, and I’m not sure that I don’t still owe her.) MBV was exactly everything I wanted in music at the time—a noisy guitar offensive totally outside the dead-to-me hardcore milieu, but otherworldly, pretty, dense, loud, perfect.
 

 
A much-discussed feature of their shows at the time—and I understand still, though I haven’t partaken in a reunion show—was the insane noise break (often referred to as “the holocaust”) in the middle of the song “You Made Me Realise.” On the EP of the same title, the song stops cold in the middle and turns into a vortex of white noise. In concert, that sonic hurricane was intensified to painful levels. At peak volume, and with blaring lights aimed at the crowd, MBV stretched that noise break out for 15 caustic, head-melting minutes or longer. Trendy kids who weren’t prepared for such meat-and-potatoes hatenoise (they’d all go on to buy Spooky by Lush and be ultra psyched about it) made for the parking lot with dad’s car keys, but the faithful stuck it out. You couldn’t see anything but those lights. You couldn’t talk to your friends. You just took it. If you were attentive you started to notice all the over- and under-tones and implied rhythms that emerged from the huge, sick, beautiful racket they were making. Nuances asserted themselves in the punitively loud assault of guitar grit and cymbal-wash, and you might have been hallucinating some of them, but that blank wall of sound was rich, complex, and anything but blank. And then, after who even knew how long, without any cue discernable to the audience, on a goddamn dime the band dropped back into the song’s propulsive main riff. It remains to this day one of the most glorious things I’ve ever seen.

The recently released documentary Beautiful Noise by Eric Green and Sarah Ogletree focuses closely on the origins and impact of the scene that MBV galvanized (and amusingly, the press release does a fine job of teasing the film without once ever using the words “shoe” or “gaze”). A recently-released clip from the film features Toni Halliday of Curve, Bobby Gillespie of The Jesus and Mary Chain/Primal Scream, and MBV drummer Colm Ó Cíosóig talking about the “holocaust.” There’s some wonderful rare footage and photography. Billy Corgan also appears. You take the bad with the good.
 

Posted by Ron Kretsch | Discussion
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Cocaine comedy from 1916: The deeply weird druggy slapstick of ‘The Mystery of the Leaping Fish’


Douglas Fairbanks as “Coke Ennyday.” Note his sash of syringes.
 
The Mystery of the Leaping Fish is a deeply weird silent two-reeler comedy short whose hero—played by none other than the great Douglas Fairbanks—is the massively drug-addicted “scientific detective” Coke Ennyday, a parody of Sherlock Holmes. Not only did this odd little film employ the talents of Fairbanks, the story was written by Tod Browning (Freaks, Dracula) and an uncredited D.W. Griffith. The film’s intertitles were penned by novelist Anita Loos and her future husband, John Emerson directed it. It comes across more as a vanity project—Fairbanks wanting to prove he could be funny—than something they thought they could exhibit to the public. From the acting, to the onscreen giggling, to the frenzied editing—good luck reading some of those blink-and-you-miss-them title cards—the whole thing comes across itself as the product of a weekendlong coke jag.


 
What’s so incredibly odd about this film, seen from the vantage point of 100 years after the fact, is the cavalier attitude towards drug use. There is so much “dope” consumed offhand in The Mystery of the Leaping Fish that, well, it makes Scarface, Trainspotting or any Cheech and Chong film seem utterly tame in comparison. Has any character in cinema history ever consumed—comically or otherwise—more drugs onscreen than Coke Ennyday does in The Mystery of the Leaping Fish? If so, I can’t think of one. He’s got a tub of cocaine that he rubs all over his face. I mean, he’s even got syringes strapped to his chest!

That The Mystery of the Leaping Fish was made in 1916 by one of the most famous people in the entire world at that time is perplexing. The film is so druggy it’s hard to believe something like it—of that vintage especially—even exists. It just goes to show what the societal attitudes were like towards drugs like cocaine and opium at that time that narcotics could be played for laughs in a slapstick comedy!
 

 
With thanks to Laurent Marie!

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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‘Son of Dracula’: Harry Nilsson and Ringo Starr’s cult comedy horror rock opera
12.12.2014
12:17 pm

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Movies
Music

Tags:
Ringo Starr
Harry Nilsson
Dracula


 
I had the soundtrack album to Son of Dracula when I was a kid—you could buy it for 99 cents in virtually any cut out bin in America in the 70s. It featured impressive album cover art that opened out from under Harry Nilsson’s cape (see below). It stayed in my record collection, mostly unlistened to, but still pretty cool, for many years. It’s not like Son of Dracula ever achieved “legendary lost film” status in my eyes—I was never that curious about it and it had the reputation that it stank—but when I saw a VHS bootleg for sale one day at the Pasadena Flea Market (there was a huge section of the market devoted solely to rock memorabilia and bootlegs of every stripe back in 90s) I scooped it up.
 

 
Hmmmm… It’s not like I can stand here before you and tell you that it’s great—because it’s definitely not great—but do take Ringo Starr’s comments on Son of Dracula as the gospel truth: 

“It is not the best film ever made, but I’ve seen worse.”

He ought to know, he produced this turkey. Ringo’s also being a bit cagey with that statement because he’s mum on exactly how many worse films he’s seen? One other? Dozens? I’d venture that it’s probably a number Ringo can count on just one hand…. (All you really need to know about how bad Son of Dracula truly is, is that after the film was shot in 1972, Ringo hired Monty Python’s Graham Chapman, Douglas Adams and Bernard McKenna to rewrite the dialogue which they would then dub over what they’d already shot! Although this notion was abandoned—apparently it was recorded—in retrospect it doesn’t seem like that bad of an idea… Surely it couldn’t have been any worse or more shambolic than it already was!)
 

 
Son of Dracula stars Nilsson as “Count Downe” a vampire rock musician who is about to be crowned Overlord of the Netherworld when he falls in love with a mortal and has a change of heart. Ringo plays—who else—Merlin the Magician. Son of Dracula contains celebrity cameos from Nilsson’s hard-partying rocker mates Led Zeppelin’s John Bonham and Keith Moon and his backing band included Peter Frampton, Klaus Voorman and Leon Russell.
 

 
More after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Discussion
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Stanley Kubrick directing ‘Dr. Strangelove’
12.12.2014
08:21 am

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Movies

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Stanley Kubrick
Dr. Strangelove

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It wasn’t just the nuclear fallout in the milk that concerned most people during the late 1950s and early 1960s, there was a genuine fear that the world was on the verge of an all-out nuclear war between Russia and America that would end life on the planet or make it rather awful for the few survivors. These anxieties were heightened by the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 and were reflected in a series of novels, films, and TV dramas that predicted humanity’s seemingly inevitable nuclear annihilation at the push of a button.

When Stanley Kubrick optioned Peter George’s book Red Alert (aka Two Hours to Doom), he intended to make a faithful film adaptation of the George’s chilling tale of near nuclear armageddon. But as he researched the subject and began work on a script with the author, Kubrick found the proposition of nuclear war utterly absurd and decided to make not a thriller but “a nightmare comedy” that satirized the insanity of two countries arming themselves with such horrific weapons of mass destruction.

Kubrick considered telling the story of Earth’s nuclear demise from the point of view of visiting extraterrestrials, but didn’t think this approach had the right amount of “inspired lunacy.” He then decided to bring in author Terry Southern to write a story using George’s novel as a loose framework to play up the comedy rather than the thrills. The result was Doctor Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb—“the most perfectly written comedic screenplay of post-war cinema,” as critic Alexander Walker described it. Dr. Strangelove was also the film that brought Kubrick’s unique visionary talents as a director to the fore.
 
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Kubrick discusses a shot with camera operator Kelvin Pike and the director’s wife Christiane Kubrick.
 
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Kubrick instructs cast members during filming of the siege of the airbase.
 
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Operating the camera prior to filming a scene with George C. Scott as General Buck Turgidson and Tracy Reed as Miss Scott.
 
Many more pics from the filming of the Cold War classic after the jump…..

Posted by Paul Gallagher | Discussion
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