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The opera based on Stephen King’s ‘The Shining’
04.12.2017
03:05 pm
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Last year the Minnesota Opera showcased the world premiere of a new opera based on Stephen King’s famous novel The Shining, the starting point for an unsettling adaptation by Stanley Kubrick starring Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall. 

The operatic version was composed by Paul Moravec with a libretto by Mark Campbell. Moravec won the Pulitzer Prize for Music in 2004 for his work Tempest Fantasy.

The opera is an adaptation not of Kubrick’s movie but of King’s book—although the movie, firmly embedded in the minds of virtually everyone in the audience, will surely have an effect. As an example, the famous words “Here’s Johnny!,” shouted by Nicholson’s Jack Torrance in a moment of frenzy, is not in the novel and thus does not appear in the opera either. King has never had any affection for Kubrick’s version of his novel, so it’s noteworthy that the prolific author “maintained libretto approval and gave Campbell the green light 24 hours after receiving the final version.”

The Shining capped off the Minnesota Opera’s 2015-2016 season, with the premiere taking place on May 7, 2016.

The reviews have been respectful to more than respectful. In the magazine Opera News, Joshua Rosenblum was effusive about the production, saying that “Moravec proves to be a masterful musical dramatist.” He added that “Brian Mulligan does the seemingly impossible—he actually makes you forget Jack Nicholson” and that “watching Vega’s Danny step slowly toward the bathtub with the drawn curtain in the forbidden room 217 was as riveting as anything I’ve ever seen in a theater. “

Fun fact: Rosenblum did not mistype Room 237, nor did the librettist commit a flub—in King’s novel the locus of dread is actually Room 217.
 

 

 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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04.12.2017
03:05 pm
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Topless crocheted finger puppets of Tura Satana, Wendy O. Williams, Siouxsie Sioux & other bad girls
04.12.2017
06:23 am
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A shot of a crocheted Tura Satana finger puppet (in the image of Tura’s character from the 1968 film ‘The Astro-Zombies’ playing behind her on the television) by Galen Djuna Green.
 
So I have some good news and some bad news about the strange, crocheted little finger puppets in this post made by artist Galen Djuna Green. The good news is that as recently as last year Green was offering her topless finger puppets for sale on her Etsy page Galendjuna Knitty Titties. So what’s the bad news? Well, there aren’t any up for sale currently on the page. Which is really sad as Green’s naughty knitted bad girls are rather covetable.

I will say this—since the Knitty Titties page is still active that *may* indicate that Green is still taking orders for past designs or new custom requests. Which I really hope is the case as some of her past finger puppets include Siouxsie Sioux, Wendy O. Williams, Kembra Pfahler (The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black), a few fantastic drag queens and an uncanny likeness of Tura Satana based on her “Satana” character from the 1968 film The Astro-Zombies (pictured at the top of this post). Tiny Tura’s little pink top even comes off! I’ve posted a number of images below of Green’s puppets which while small, clearly have big attitudes. They are also very NSWF much like the ladies they are based on themselves.
 

 

 

Wendy O. Williams.
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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04.12.2017
06:23 am
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‘Jigoku’: The brilliantly grim Japanese horror film about Hell
04.11.2017
07:37 am
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A promotional image for the Japanese horror film ‘Jigoku’ from 1960.
 
Also known under its alternate title of “The Sinners of Hell,” Jigoku was directed by Nakagawa Nobuo. An idiosyncratic man who was often referred to as “the Alfred Hitchcock of Japan,” Nobuo was known for wearing traditional wooden Japanese footwear (or getas) which are supported by horizontal platform wooden slabs on the soles, around the set of the film, which while a bit strange paled in comparison to the terrifying, gory and very weird things that happened on screen.

Jigoku takes a cue from the real life murder case of Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb. The pair were two rich white college students who murdered a fourteen-year-old boy after planning what they referred to as “the perfect crime” for months. The case was also used as a plotline for both Hitchcock’s 1948 film Rope and Richard Fleischer’s 1959 film Compulsion starring Orson Wells and Dean Stockwell. Though the title of the film seems somewhat straightforward, it is anything but. At its heart, it is a sordid tale of guilt and remorse and how our actions in life may well be predictors for what will be waiting for us once we’ve passed into the great beyond. Nobuo’s narrative also follows along with the various regions and consequences associated with the multiple levels of the Japanese conception of Hell, which is an incredibly complex topic to try to explain on its own. One of the reasons I love this movie so much is the fact that it plays out much like a classic horror film. You know, bad things happening to bad people after they do bad things. There’s even a scene that had me recalling one of my favorite horror films, 1980’s grossly unappreciated Motel Hell. Other Japanese horror films that would also take notes from Nobuo’s Jigoku include the 2002 film Ju-On: The Grudge.

Jigoku was the ninth film in a series by Nobuo with Shintoho, one of the largest film studios in Japan. Shintoho’s primary source of revenue was producing genre specific exploitation films. In a strange twist, the studio found itself almost completely broke during the filming. Although shooting was expedited to help cut costs, some of the actors were actually enlisted—or forced—to dig holes on the set for themselves (!) for an unsettling scene that will stick with you like the fake, red gore that gets slung around throughout the film. By the time Jigoku was released, Shintoho had gone bankrupt. This fantastically gross and frightening film was the subject of a great documentary from 2006 titled Building the Inferno: Nobuo Nakagawa and the Making of ‘Jigoku’ which I highly recommend you seek out after first successfully seeking out Jigoku. I’ve included a number of remarkable stills from the film below. Pretty much all of them are NSFW. YAY!
 

 

 

Remember those holes that the actors had to dig for themselves on the set of ‘Jijoku?’ Here’s one of them with the actor inside having his makeup done.
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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04.11.2017
07:37 am
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Skate decks with photos of Björk, Beastie Boys, Sonic Youth & more taken by Spike Jonze
04.10.2017
11:21 am
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The Björk skateboard deck from Girl. Part of a new series featuring photographs taken by Spike Jonze. Available here.
 
So far there are five different skate deck designs that are a part of a Photos by Spike collaboration between skateboard company Girl and director Spike Jonze. The boards feature the beyond cool shot of Björk (seen above) taken by Jonze, and another that pays homage to the Beastie Boys who appear in character as seen in the 1994 “Sabotage” video (directed by Jonze) that is forever burnt into our collective consciousness.

All of the decks in the group are quite different looking. Both the Sonic Youth and Nirvana decks utilize black and white photos, while the image of Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs lounging on the bottom of her deck is vibrantly colorful as is the yellow skate deck itself. Jonze’s relationship with Girl goes back to at least 2007 when he co-directed a film on the company, Yeah Right. However, the director’s love of skateboarding goes even further back than that as his very first film, Video Days was about, you guessed it,skateboarding. Each sweet deck will run you about $50. I’ve posted photos of all the decks below for you to see below as well as some footage from Video Days.
 

The Sabotage deck.
 

Sonic Youth.
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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04.10.2017
11:21 am
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‘The Shining,’ A Clockwork Orange,’ ‘Scarface’ & more become Ottoman miniature style works of art
04.10.2017
08:46 am
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A scene from ‘A Clockwork Orange’ in the style of an “Ottoman miniature” painting by artist Murat Palta.
 
Artist Murat Palta has created a fantastic series of works in which he juxtaposes a famous scene from a well-known film with the style of an “Ottoman miniature” painting. The results may alter a viewer’s perception of said films as Palta’s subjects wear expressionless faces in his paintings—despite (for the most part) being stuck in the midst of all kinds of fictional chaos and mayhem.

Hailing from Turkey, Palta’s first cinematic/Ottoman mashup from 2011 combined characters and scenes from Star Wars and received so much attention that he decided to take on a few other memorable movie scenes. Such as the bloodbath at the House of Blue Leaves in Kill Bill, Jack Nicholson’s door-smashing mental breakdown in The Shining and a scene from A Clockwork Orange where the Droogs and Alex DeLarge (played by Malcolm McDowell) put the boot in on a homeless man just for, ahem, kicks.

I think it’s a pretty safe bet that you’re going to dig Palta’s paintings as much as I did. You can also view them in more detail over at Palta’s “Classic Movies in Minature Style” page on Behance. That said, some might be considered slightly NSFW.
 

‘Alien.’
 

A closer look at the famous “chestburster” scene in ‘Alien’ from the painting above.
 

‘Scarface.’
 
More minatures after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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04.10.2017
08:46 am
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Super rare David Bowie promotional items from the 70s and 80s
04.07.2017
07:34 am
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An image of David Bowie used for a poster put out by RCA Japan in 1980. Bowie was in Japan filming a television ad for Takara Shochu “Jun” Sake. The image was later recycled for the sleeve for the 1980 Japan exclusive instrumental single “Crystal Japan.”
 
I recently came across some pretty amazing images of David Bowie that were taken for various promotional endeavors in the 70s and 80s. Some were a part of press kits assembled for various films featuring The Thin White Duke, some from his record marketing collateral as well as some incredibly rare posters that were only released in Japan and the UK. Some of the scarce items showcased in this post include promotional “mobile displays.” Here’s the thing about mobile displays, since they were made in super small quantities and most ended up getting carried off or ruined by wear and tear, they are incredibly difficult to come by. Especially if it happens to involve David Bowie. They also tend to be expensive when you do find them/

A few of the photographs and other ephemera I’ve posted below are actually for sale at collectibles site Rock Explosion though some contain the requirement that you inquire as to their cost—and you know what that means. If you have to ask, you probably can’t afford it. So in light of that, I suggest that you kick back and enjoy looking at our dearly departed David below.
 

BBC publicity photo of Bowie from the production of Bertolt Brecht’s ‘Baal’ taken in 1981.

 

An almost unrecognizable Bowie in a promotional poster for the EP release of ‘Baal,’ his last with RCA, 1981.
 

A cardboard standup display of Bowie holding a glass of milk for ‘Young Americans’ 1975.
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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04.07.2017
07:34 am
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Ultraviolence and absurdity: Takashi Miike’s masterpiece, ‘Dead or Alive’
04.07.2017
06:20 am
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With over one hundred directorial credits, Takashi Miike’s career could be considered a monster success based on his productivity alone, but the prolific filmmaker has also managed to create a handful of the most challenging and important movies of the past twenty years.

His best works showcase an ability to shift from extreme ultraviolence to heartstring-tugging tenderness, while peppering the narratives with completely outlandish and absurd situations. Though Miike’s films do not conform to any particular style in the way that, say, David Lynch’s films are Lynchian or Quentin Tarantino’s films are Tarantino-esque, Miike’s films could only have been made by Miike, and if there’s such a thing as a Miike style, it’s his flippant disregard for “the rules” in a completely uncontrived way. This anarchic disregard is, perhaps, best exemplified in the batshit ending to his 1999 masterpiece Dead or Alive, which gets a welcome re-release next week as part of a completely tricked-out Blu-Ray box set from Arrow Video.
 

 
Dead or Alive was produced the same year as Miike’s Audition, the film that really put him on the map for US audiences, which is, in my humble opinion, one of the top 10 horror films of all time and another astounding rulebreaker (the first half of one of the most disturbing horror films ever made is essentially a rom-com!). Someone new to Miike’s work would be best served to begin with both Audition and Dead or Alive, as well as Ichi the Killer, The Happiness of the Katakuris, and Visitor Q—with the warning to be prepared for graphically disturbing situations and imagery.

Dead or Alive is my favorite Miike film because it works so well as a gritty, straightforward, ultraviolent gangster movie, but injects completely left-field situations of a highly disturbing nature (like a conversation that takes place on a bestiality porn set, with a supporting character acting as the dog’s “fluffer,” and another brutal scene involving a young woman meeting her demise in a kiddie-pool filled with her own feces). The film works because it hits all the genre convention notes pitch-perfectly, before completely subverting them.

Dead or Alive contains one of my favorite opening sequences from any film ever and an ending that is so utterly fucked up and stupid—to the point where the viewer wonders if the entire film was an elaborate “Aristocrats” type joke set-up for the impossibly surreal punchline—that it leaves most first-time viewers jaws on the floor. I place it in my top five most awesomely WTF movie endings, right next to Dellamorte Dellamore, Sleepaway Camp, Christmas Evil, and The Last American Virgin—but Dead or Alive‘s ending out fucks-up all of those fucked up endings. The aforementioned opening sequence to Dead or Alive is a brilliant piece of highly stylized editing, that on first viewing seems utterly chaotic and disjointed (though it makes perfect sense upon subsequent viewings). The sequence should be required viewing for any film student.

The new BD release of Dead or Alive (available for pre-order HERE), comes in a set with the sequels (in name only) Dead or Alive 2: Birds and Dead or Alive 3: Final. The two hard-nosed lead actors, Shô Aikawa and Riki Takeuchi, are the common thread, tying the series together. Though inferior to the first film, the sequels certainly have their merits and points of high absurdity. The third film, unfortunately, suffers from having been shot on (standard definition) video, though indeed many of Miike’s finest works as a director have been shot on video. This new release joins the superb Miike Black Society Trilogy boxset that Arrow released a few months ago.

After the jump, watch the genius opening scene to ‘Dead or Alive.’ Stylistically, completely ahead of its time, and absolutely perfect. Check out that 20-foot-long cocaine rail…

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Posted by Christopher Bickel
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04.07.2017
06:20 am
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Rock music or Jesus? The choice is yours!
04.06.2017
10:06 am
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If you are relatively sane and not prone to low-watt brainwashing, you may be unaware of the vast library of Christian propaganda films out there. One of America’s most profitable and least-known cottage industries, these micro-budgeted religious epics had their heyday in the 70’s and 80’s when Midwest-based Mark IV Productions created their twelve-year Thief in the Night quadrilogy, a series of end times films featuring dead-eyed, polyester-clad actors moping their way through The Rapture. These films were shown to impressionable kids at Bible study classes and probably turned thousands of otherwise normal humans into conservative, sex-negative Jesus zombies. Made for pocket change, these films grossed millions. They are still be shown and sold today and paved the way for the even more profitable Left Behind series a couple decades later.
 

 
Christian propaganda films loved warning teenagers about the dangers of basically everything. Satan lurked on every corner, always looking for a way to break into the lucrative teen market. Sex, drugs, booze and the perils of disobeying your parents were popular subjects, but even listening to the radio was cause for concern. Which brings us to 1982’s awkwardly titled Rock: It’s Your Decision. Directed by John Taylor (not the Duran Duran guy, obviously, but how great would it be if it was?), Rock tells the story of Jeff, your average American teenager who goes to school and church and does whatever society tells him to. His only vice is the bullshit generic MOR rock he blasts on his stereo. But even that is too rebellious for his mom, who snitches on him to his church pastor, who challenges Jeff to give up rock n’ roll for a month. The pastor gives him a few choice tapes from his Christian pop collection to tide him over, though.
 

A glimpse into some of this film’s action-packed moments.
 
Once Jeff gives up rock music, he starts to realize just how fucked up and evil it was all along. How? By misinterpreting Santana lyrics (it goes “You’ve gotta change your evil ways,” dummy) and audience reactions (Jeff thinks swaying along to the music is some kind of thought control). He throws his best bud out of the house for digging Billy Joel and Lynyrd Skynyrd too much, and refuses to take his feather-haired blonde girlfriend to the unnamed “rock show”. He even heads down to the record store to bully people out of buying tasty rock n’ roll jams. What a jerk! In essence, Jeff becomes an insufferable asshole without rock music. He’s even worse to his mother now, accusing her of hypocrisy because of her soap opera addiction, and his climactic anti-rock rant at church even throws some homophobia (and Barry Manilow and fucking Captain and Tennille) into the mix.

Watch this shit, after the jump…

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Posted by Ken McIntyre
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04.06.2017
10:06 am
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Mouth-watering trailer for a ‘what if?’ 1970s adaptation of J.G. Ballard’s ‘High-Rise’
04.04.2017
02:12 pm
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Ben Wheatley’s recent adaptation of J.G. Ballard’s masterful 1975 novel High-Rise scratched a profound itch many of us had had for years, but by rights we really should have had an adaptation from its own time, a brutalist B-movie with dissonant stereophonic music that should take its rightful place alongside Death Race 2000 and Logan’s Run.

We never got that movie, but that doesn’t mean we can’t pretend.

Adam Scovell has helpfully put together a marvelous trailer for a make-believe BBC series based on High-Rise using imagery from a really interesting-looking series from the early 1970s called Doomwatch that garnered controversy at the time for several episodes, including one that focused on mutant rats taking over the streets of London. The episode Scovell used is called “The Human Time-Bomb,” and it ran on the BBC on February 22, 1971.

I don’t know much about the plot except that the bland plot synopsis from the time sounds intriguingly Ballardian: “Dr. Fay Chantry performs a biological study of tower block life—and finds far more than she expected.”

On his blog Celluloid Wicker Man, Scovell raises a very interesting point, which is the possibility—one might even say the likelihood—that “The Human Time-Bomb” is actually a direct source for Ballard’s novel:
 

The Human Time-Bomb rather uniquely pre-empts almost all aspects of High-Rise in such detail that it must be considered whether Ballard himself actually saw it when broadcast. I have little doubt that he at least knew about the series, such was the crossover of the series’ goals with his own conflation of science and disaster.

 
He also notes that during this time, it wasn’t hard at all to find Ballard’s themes played out on the telly:
 

British Television of this period is brimming with Ballardian imagery; endless brutalist structures, obsessive emphasis on cars, violence and misogyny.  This is all compacted into a huge variety of drama, only ever really escaping from such aspects when a series or play was set in period.

 
Have a look at the trailer for the 70s ‘High-Rise’ that shoulda been, after the jump…

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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04.04.2017
02:12 pm
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Duran Duran’s John Taylor stars in the sleazy skin flick ‘Vegas, City of Dreams’
04.04.2017
10:41 am
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The blog Preppies of the Apocalypse from writer, publisher, and lover of pop-culture Morgan Richter posted some amusing analysis regarding Duran Duran bassist John Taylor and his 2001 movie, Vegas, City of Dreams. The film was a direct-to-DVD release and likely made the rounds on sleazy subscription cable channels such as Cinemax and satellite TV in South America and the Caribbean.

Though Taylor has been clean and sober since 1994, he played the role of super shady “Byron Lord,” (geddit?) a character who straight-up oozed bad times, blow and booze with sleazy-ease. Perhaps Taylor ripped out a couple of pages from his own personal playbook when it came to finding the proper inspiration for his portrayal of Byron Lord. Who knows?. When it comes to the film, which also goes by the titles of C.O.D. and Marked for Murder , it was directed by Lorenzo Doumani, a casino mogul/filmmaker and the son of M.K. Doumani who owned the famous La Concha hotel in Las Vegas. In addition to Taylor, the film also includes a plethora of Playboy models in almost every female role, lots of sex scenes involving Taylor (including a little bondage action, hello!), post-coital murder and the girl everyone was in love with in 1989, Playboy Playmate Erika Eleniak. With all that going for it, how could this film possibly fail? Well, as Richter eloquently points out, “it’s mostly John’s fault.” Not even appearances by the great Joe Don Baker or actor Paul Winfield could help elevate this mess. In fact, there is at least one scene in Vegas, City of Dreams where, while Taylor is taunting Winfield’s character the actor actually looks as though he’s quite literally regretting his decision to be in the film right then and there. Oof.

After the jump, a sampling from ‘Vegas, City of Dreams’ featuring several scenes with John Taylor doing all kinds of bad stuff…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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04.04.2017
10:41 am
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