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  • ‘Baba Yaga’: The best ultra-stylish, sexy mid 70s lesbian witch cult film you’ve never seen

    If you find yourself endlessly clicking through the entertainment fare being piped into your home by Netflix, Hulu Plus and HBO Now before ultimately deciding that—to paraphrase something Bruce Springsteen once sang—there’s 57,000 channels and nothin’s on, have I got an amazing, little-heralded practically unknown cult film for you!

    1973’s stylish Italo-French quasi-giallo Baba Yaga—there’s very little blood or violence so let’s call it instead a “supernatural erotic thriller”—stars American actress Carroll Baker (best known for her younger roles in Giant and Baby Doll) as the oddly named Baba Yaga, a sexy lesbian witch who wants to take control of Valentina (Isabelle De Funès), a Milan-based Marxist fashion photographer and photojournalist, both body and soul. Their apparently fated meeting occurs when Valentina, walking home alone late one night after a party with some left wing intellectuals, saves a stray dog from being hit by Baba Yaga’s Rolls Royce. When Baker—who was then still an absolutely stunning 43-year-old beauty—steps out of her car and the camera pans up from her boots to her incredible pasty white face, well, it’s quite an entrance.

    The plot, which comes from Guido Crepax’s “Valentina” fumetti—one of the first instances of the modern graphic novel—has been called confusing, but I don’t think that’s true at all. There are some weird artsy avant garde dream sequences throughout (complete with naked chicks in leather bondage gear and Nazis) intended to indicate how Baba Yaga was haunting Valentina’s dreams with images of sadomasochism and perversion, but other than that it’s pretty straightforward stuff, scarcely more complicated than an episode of Scooby-Doo or a story on Night Gallery. Basically Baker’s eerie sapphic sorceress casts a murderous spell on Valentina’s Rolleiflex camera so that wherever she points it, bad things happen. There’s also an amazing doll that’s dressed in something like Cosey Fanni Tutti might’ve worn in 1973, but I don’t want to spoil that bit for anyone.

    Aside from Baker’s unique female villain and commanding onscreen presence—-there are many, many reasons to recommend Baba Yaga (aka Kiss Me, Kill Me as it was retitled for VHS video release in the US). First off, it looks freaking amazing. Gorgeous eye-candy from the first frame to the last. The director, Corrado Farina—who died last month at 77—had previously made a documentary on the “Valentina” comics and used not only comic panels drawn by Guido Crepax but also “animated” black and white still photos to keep his adaptation very much in sync with Crepax’s highly stylized vision of Valentina’s fashionable world. Isabelle De Funès, a French singer and actress, is large-eyed and totally foxy, not unlike a young Liza Minnelli and her goofy but memorable hairstyle comes straight from the comic character’s coif (which was based on Louisa Brooks). She’s the perfect “Valentina” in the flesh (and we see a lot of hers in it).

    Farina really knew how to move a camera and his framing (and fantastic use of color) recalls Jean-Luc Godard; the claustrophobic interiors remind one of Nic Roeg and Donald Cammell’s moody Performance; and the overall “mod” production design puts it closer to a film like Danger: Diabolik or Modesty Blaise—even the Batman TV series—than a Dario Argento film, but fans of his movies would most certainly enjoy Baba Yaga, too. Another way to describe it is like Antonioni’s Blow-Up meets Hammer’s The Vampire Lovers. Baba Yaga straddles quite a few genres nimbly, and for this reason I’d rate it a “crowd pleaser” (among certain very specific crowds, I suppose).

    Baba Yaga is not a particularly erotic (or violent) film but it’s tres creepy, extremely atmospheric and genuinely gripping. The film wasn’t a success upon its initial release—the production company went bankrupt—and was simply dumped on the VHS market at some point in the 1980s under various titles. I can’t imagine such a visually appealing film coming across that great with a VHS “pan and scan” cropping on an old TV set, but lemme tell ya, on Blu-ray and a large flat screen, Baba Yaga is pretty spectacular (and big fun). And the soundtrack! The ultra “modern”-sounding jazz soundtrack (heavy on the Hammond organ) was a product of the remarkable Italian composer Piero Umiliani (best known for writing “Mah Nà Mah Nà”) and adds much to the proceedings.

    It’s been said of Carroll Baker that she was simply just too sexy for her own good and that this held her career back in the US forcing her to base herself in Europe if she wanted to work. Make no mistake about it… how do I put this tastefully: she is inspiring in this role. The biggest let-down about Baba Yaga to my mind is that Baker—who got naked quite a lot in her films—doesn’t get naked in a film full of gratuitous nudity (although they did shoot a full frontal nude scene with her, it was sadly cut from the final edit).
    More after the jump…

    Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
    You can take this test to see if you’re a ‘super recognizer’ of faces
    01:55 pm


    super recongnizer

    Boing Boing just hipped me to this online test to see if you’re a “super recognizer” of faces. Josh P. Davis, a psychology professor at the University of Greenwich in England who studies the “super recognizer” phenomenon, says that about 1% of the population can actually do this.

    I think of myself as pretty good at remembering faces. I almost never forget a face. An ex-boyfriend used to tell me all the time “You should work for the CIA!” (Full disclosure: I’m terrible at remembering names.)

    Via Science Alert:

    In 2009, a team of neuroscientists from Harvard did one of the first studies of super-recognisers. In it, they looked at just four people who claimed to have an unusually good ability to recognise faces.

    All four subjects told the researchers about instances when they’d recognised practical strangers: family members they hadn’t seen for decades or actors they’d glimpsed once in an ad and then seen again in a movie. They felt like there was something wrong with them.

    One of the people in the study told the researchers that she tried to hide her ability and “pretend that I don’t remember [people] ... because it seems like I stalk them, or that they mean more to me than they do.”

    I took the test and got 12 out of 14 correct. According to my results, “If you scored above 10 you may be a super recogniser, but you would need to do more tests to find this out.”

    Of course I was interested in the next test and clicked on the link to to take it. It’s over an hour long. Boo! I can’t commit to that right now, but I might do it later. I’m curious as to if I’m a “super recognizer” or not. Not sure I wanna work for the CIA, though. I want cash and prizes.

    Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
    Restaurant launches Pokémon burger (but not to go)
    09:34 am

    Current Events


    Get yer laughing tackle round this!
    Contrary to parental advice it is now possible to play with your food and eat it.

    The Down-N-Out restaurant in Sydney Australia launched a range of burgers yesterday based on Pokémon characters.

    The limited edition “Pokéburg” comes in three day-glo flavors—Pikachu, Bulbasaur, and Charmander.

    Described as being “too adorable to eat” the Pikachu Pokéburg is a sumptuous feast of processed former cow smothered in cheese and relish served in a bun with “tiger chips” for ears.

    The Bulbasaur is the healthier option consisting of burger, lettuce, pickle, avocado, broccoli, relish and onion. While the Charmander is a apparently an orange-colored “volcanic” cheeseburger concoction. (That one was gonna be called the “Trumpburg” apparently, but #peopleweresaying that it might put some off their food.)
    Hungry gamers(?) queue to chew the face off Pikachu.
    When the Pikachu, Bulbasaur, and Charmander Pokéburgs went on sale for the first time yesterday, they sold out within one hour of the restaurant opening.

    The Pokéburg is limited to one burger per customer. At present it is only available to eat in. So no Pokéburg go.
    More after the jump…

    Posted by Paul Gallagher | Leave a comment
    Climb aboard ‘Hare-Force One,’ Hugh Hefner’s $5 million DC-9 jet with its own discothèque

    ‘Hare-Force One’ aka the ‘Big Bunny’ Hugh Hefner’s DC-9 jet.
    Well, would you expect anything less from what was basically the Playboy Mansion with wings? Hugh Hefner’s custom DC-9 jet “Hare-Force One” (also widely known as the “Big Bunny”) pretty much had that and a lot more as you might imagine. In fact the jet was so ostentatious that when Hefner has it painted black so it would “stand out” while in flight he added spotlights to the tail of the plane so that the Playboy Bunny logo could still be seen at night. Nice.

    Hef’s fabulous ‘Jet Bunnies’ standing outside of ‘Hare-Force One’ aka the ‘Big Bunny.’
    Hef had his “Jet Bunnies” (who were cherry-picked from Playboy clubs in LA and Chicago) attend formal stewardess training at a school run by Continental Airlines and their outfits were as slick as the jet itself, consisting of leatherette mini-dresses, leatherette pants and black go-go boots. According to Hefner he wanted his stewardesses to look like “Bond Girls” and again since this is Hugh Hefner we’re talking about how they did. Of the many features that the plane had to offer were a discothèque, a bar, a shower and a movie theater of sorts featuring a Cinemascope projector. There was also a round water bed covered in fur that was accessed through Hef’s private entrance. Essentially the jet included all the comforts of “home” as long as your actual home was the Playboy Mansion.

    During the time that Hef owned the plane it made numerous trips around the world and at the end of the Vietnam War became a giant stork of sorts used to bring orphans to their new adoptive homes in the U.S. Hefner would routinely lend out the use of the jet to celebrities like Yul Brynner, Elvis and Sonny and Cher and also entertained a litany of famous guests like Twilight Zone host Rod Serling, director Roman Polanski and poet and author Shel Silverstein. Hefner sold the jet in 1975 to Venezuela Airlines and in a 2010 interview for the Wall Street Journal when asked if he missed his sweet, sweet mile-high club ride his response was “only when I fly.” Awww. Images of Hef’s beloved Big Bunny, Hare-Force One follow.


    More livin’ large with Hugh Hefner after the jump…

    Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
    ‘Twin Peaks’ soundtrack reissue pressed onto ‘damn fine coffee’ color vinyl
    08:54 am


    David Lynch
    Twin Peaks
    vinyl records

    Behold the ‘Damn Fine Coffee’ edition of the newly reissued vinyl soundtrack for the original ‘Twin Peaks’ television series.
    A little over a week ago—on August 10th—a vinyl reissue of the soundtrack for the original Twin Peaks television series (first broadcast in 1990) scored by long-time David Lynch collaborator Angelo Badalamenti was released into the wild via Mondotees and promptly sold out. If you missed the boat on that like I did there’s still a way (and a better one at that) to score the gorgeous release which comes pressed into coffee-colored vinyl whose color profile is described as “Damn Fine Coffee.”

    Starting on September 9th many cool independant brick and mortar record and video shops across the country will temporarily transform into a version of Agent Dale Cooper’s favorite hangout, Tweed’s Cafe in North Bend, Washington and will offer up their own in-store “Coffee and Pie” event during which you can purchase the record while listening to the soundtrack. Two-long years in the making, the packaging for the soundtrack is almost as cool as the show which comes in a gatefold sleeve,with liner notes written by Badalamenti and a record jacket that pays tribute to the floors of the “Black Lodge” thanks to the clever use of a die cut pattern on the cover. If it sounds at all to you like I am completely geeking out on this, then you’d be correct. Especially since my favorite video store, the world-famous Scarecrow Video in Seattle, is holding one of the 20-some-odd “Coffee and Pie” events. Yummy.

    For those of you bemoaning the fact that you don’t live in the U.S. according to the website Welcome to Twin Peaks there are a few locations in the UK, too that will also be hosting their own Twin Peaks party. More details on the record as well as a full list of shops (which does appear to be updated from time to time) that will be hosting the event, here. If your location isn’t listed or if you prefer to miss out on what sounds like a really excellent time you can pre-order the album (for a mark-up in most cases) at lots of places online.
    Additional product shots after the jump…

    Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
    ‘Musica 80’: Impressive Italian rock magazine from the ‘new wave’ era
    08:47 am


    Musica 80

    Elvis Costello on the April 1980 issue of Musica 80: including features on Talking Heads, PiL, & Jonathan Richman
    From February 1980 through April 1981 Italian fans of cutting-edge music were treated to Musica 80, a monthly magazine with a bold “new wave” aesthetic that kept readers up to date on acts like Nina Hagen, Pere Ubu, XTC, Killing Joke, the Feelies, the B-52s, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Joy Division, and the Cramps, among many others. The covers used a vibrant palette of primary colors somewhat reminiscent of the first wave of releases by the Flying Lizards (themselves the subject of a feature in the October 1980 issue, as it happens).

    I’ve never seen a single page from the inside of any of its issues, and I don’t speak Italian anyway, but the savvy editorial hand behind the cover art and the choice of subjects make it quite likely that this was a fairly compelling magazine in its day. Much about Musica 80 is a puzzle, from the perspective of 2016. The magazine was edited by a man named Franco Bolelli, who appropriately enough was in a band called Alphaville that contributed a few brief tracks to a 1981 comp called Matita Emostatica, which is the Italian term for “styptic pencil.” Nowadays, Bolelli is identified on Wikipedia as a “philosopher,” and neither the American nor the Italian version of his bio bothers to mention Musica 80 at all. Unexpectedly, the English Wikipedia page for Bolelli is quite a bit more expansive than the Italian Wikipedia page, noting among other things that “among his philosophical influences he mentions Nietzsche and Taoism along with the game of basketball and rock ’n roll.”

    The Italian Wikipedia page for the magazine—also very brief—states that “La veste grafica era poi affidata a membri della casa occupata bolognese Traumfabrik che per l’occasione si chiamò Topographic”—in other words, the visuals for the magazine were “entrusted to” members of an “occupied house” (I think this means a squatters’ collective of some kind) in Bologna “called Traumfabrik, which on this occasion was called Topographic.” Here is a reminiscence on Traumfabrik for those fluent in Italian or adept with online translation tools.

    Most of the covers presented on this page are low-quality scans from this Italian blog post, and aside from that scans are very hard to find (I did manage to find a couple others). Judging from the covers alone, Musica 80 covered a pretty impressive swath of territory considering that they weren’t operating out of London or New York.

    Perhaps appropriately, given its title, as soon as the year 1980 was over with, the magazine neared its demise as well. The last issue of Musica 80 was its 15th issue, which had a cover date of April 1981. If anyone has any information or especially decent scans from the brief run of Musica 80, please get in touch!

    Inaugural issue, February 1980, the Stones in China—which they wouldn’t actually visit until 2006

    March 1980: Eno, Zappa, Burroughs, Fripp
    More after the jump…..

    Posted by Martin Schneider | Leave a comment
    Riot Grrrl: Allison Wolfe of Bratmobile talks about zines, feminism and her new band, Sex Stains

    Allison Wolfe
    Photo by Connor Collins
    Allison Wolfe, iconic 90s riot grrrl and Bratmobile member hasn’t stopped playing music since their break up in the early 2000s. In fact, she has gone on to be in several other bands such as Cold Cold Hearts, Partyline, Deep Lust, Cool Moms and most recently Sex Stains (whose debut album comes out September 2nd.)

    I chatted with Wolfe about her new band as well as zines, Bratmobile, being a 90s female musician and an inspirational feminist.
    Girl Germs
    Before Allison Wolfe and Molly Neuman started Bratmobile, they had a riot grrrl fanzine called Girl Germs:

    “Molly and I met in the dorms at the University of Oregon. We weren’t in the same room but we shared a wall and we would knock on the walls. We became best friends and started plotting to do all of these things. We were fairly young girls who were getting politicized who wanted to have a voice and participate. We really wanted to have a girl programmed radio show but it turned out that the University of Oregon didn’t have a college radio so I think Tobi Vail encouraged us to do a fanzine. We started the fanzine before we started playing music or did the band. It was a good way to have a voice when we didn’t have any other means at the time. We didn’t really know what we were doing but it was fun. Our first issue had an interview with Calamity Jane. It had scene reports and a lot of it was a reaction to grunge which had completely taken over the Northwest and was too male dominated. We wanted to have a girly voice.”

    From there they began travelling to Olympia often to hang out. “We were a band in theory. We had been travelling up to Olympia on weekends and telling everyone we were in a band called Bratmobile.”

    Calvin Johnson called them and told them he had set up a show for Valentine’s Day 1991 and wanted them to play with Bikini Kill. At this point they were not truly a band so they had to scramble to get songs together. “We went to our friend Robert Christie and were like ‘What do we do?’ He loaned us his practice space and let us use their equipment and but we didn’t know how to write songs. He said to listen to a bunch of Ramones records but I thought if all bands listen to the Ramones in order to start bands then I wouldn’t and I vowed to never listen to them which isn’t exactly accurate but I never owned any Ramones records or listened to them that much.”

    Allison said she listen to a lot of female rap and hip hop before the band started such as Salt n’ Pepa, Yo Yo, Bytches with Problems, TLC and others. “That was a big influence on us, all these really awesome, kinda goofy but politicized women in rap and hip hop that weren’t commercialized yet. It was more politicized. They had messages that were pretty important. Also, the first Batman movie had come out and Prince did the soundtrack and the Batmobile was an influence on us naming the band Bratmobile.” Their first show, which was just her and Molly at the time, was pretty much a capella. “There was a little bit of guitar and drums going on but not much… We jumped off stage and Kurt Cobain walked in right then and I walked up to him and said ‘You missed us!’ and handed him one of our fanzines.”
    More after the jump…

    Posted by Izzi Krombholz | Leave a comment
    Attention rock snobs: New Holy Sons single will burrow its way into your brain like an earworm
    11:37 am


    Andrew Loog Oldham
    Emil Amos
    Holy Sons
    Del Shannon

    Photo of Emil Amos by Eliza Sohn

    I’ve probably played this new Holy Sons’ track, “It’s My Feeling”—a stunning cover of a song originally recorded in 1967 by the great Del Shannon and produced by Rolling Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham—about 600 times since I first heard it last week. About 300 of these plays were in my head.

    And so I must duly warn you: Unless you want to have an absolutely gorgeous, shimmering pop song take up residency between your ears, stop what you are doing now and click off the page. Just fuck off now, okay?

    If you’re still with me, Holy Sons is the one-man band project of Emil Amos (who also plays with Om, Lilacs and Champagne and Grails) and “It’s My Feeling” is the lead off single from his upcoming album In The Garden which comes out on October 21st on the Partisan Records label. In The Garden was produced by John Agnello (Dinosaur Jr., Kurt Vile, Phosphorescent, Sonic Youth) with the aim of adopting “the authentic mindset of a 60s era artist.”

    Amos explains:

    In The Garden is essentially John Agnello and I carving out the sound of a classic 70’s record if it had been made by a band with all its players being very focused in the hey-day of their career… but we ‘faked’ that vibe using one player. That’s basically how I learned 4-tracking in the 90’s… how to replicate live-sounding recordings where a band is reacting and playing off of each other in real-time.”

    This is something Amos can do frighteningly well. If you didn’t already know it was the same guy, multitracked, playing everything, there’s no way you could tell this from listening.

    The original “It’s My Feeling” was recorded by Del Shannon in London with musicians assembled by Andrew Loog Oldham that included stellar session pros like John Paul Jones, Nicky Hopkins and Jimmy Page. It was written by Dave Skinner and Andrew Rose, a Peter and Gordon-esque songwriting and singing duo who went by the name of Twice as Much. Oldham’s Immediate Records signings P.P. Arnold and Madeline Bell provided backup vocals for Shannon. The Immediate sessions were shelved for many years before being remixed and coming out in the late 1970’s as And The Music Plays On. In 2006, nearly 40 years after they were recorded, Capitol Records would finally release the London sessions as Home & Away, the originally intended title.

    I was already nuts about the original Del Shannon number, but have a listen to the Holy Sons’ version of “It’s My Feeling” –which I think is far superior and, to my ears, has elements reminiscent of both The Zombies and even John Barry. It’s crazy good stuff, but I’ll warn you: One listen and you’re going to be hearing this in your head for… weeks.

    Listen to “It’s My Feeling” after the jump…

    Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
    ‘Raw Power’: The vintage ‘zine run by teens who took on rock & punk (and won) back in the mid-70s

    The cover of Raw Power magazine featuring Iggy Pop, 1977.

    “I’m gonna die anyway and I’d prefer it to be at my leisure.”

    —Iggy Pop on his admission that he only planned to live “two more years” back in 1977 in an interview with Raw Power magazine

    Founded by the sixteen-year-old duo of Scott Stephens (who wrote under the name “Quick Draw”) and Robert Olshever (aka “Bobalouie”) the LA-based ‘zine Raw Power got started in 1976 and almost immediately got the attention of major record labels who would give Stephens and Olshever an all access pass to rock and punk stars like Iggy Pop, Debbie Harry, DEVO, Black Sabbath, AC/DC, Van Halen, the Ramones and other musical luminaries that the average sixteen-year-old only got close to by way of their poster-covered bedroom walls.

    The teenage masterminds behind Raw Power Magazine (L to R): Robert Olshever (Bobalouie), Scott Stephens (Quick Draw) and Murray Schwartz.
    Joined later by Murray Schwartz (who would take photographs for the magazine) Raw Power would publish for about three years and routinely featured all the stuff you’d expect to find in a magazine that fused the worlds of rock and punk together like interviews, album reviews and that—according to an archive of the magazine run by Stephens—LOVED to publish unedited “letter to the editor” many of which were laced with obscenity. And here’s a rather mind-blowing revelation from Stephens which took place during an interview with Ozzy in 1979 right after Osbourne (who repeatedly “teared up” during the interview) had been given his walking papers by Black Sabbath. According to Stephens it was the boys of Raw Power who recommended pint-sized guitar virtuoso Randy Rhoads to Osbourne for his new band which at the time Ozz was considering calling “Son of Sabbath.”

    Ozzy was quite depressed during this time but had recently met Sharon Arden and was in the process of putting together a new group that would eventually record “Blizzard of Ozz”. It was during this interview that members of Raw Power suggested to Ozzy that he consider auditioning a guitarist by the name of Randy Rhoads. Randy was the guitarist of Quiet Riot and Raw Power had interviewed them for a cover story for the 2nd issue in 1977. Shortly thereafter Ozzy auditioned Randy and hired him on the spot. The rest is history.

    When the 2000 film by Cameron Crowe Almost Famous came out many of folks in the trio’s circle immediately thought that the flick was about them—which should help put some perspective on how much of an impact Raw Power made in its short run despite its humble design and young founders. As I mentioned Stephens runs an archive for Raw Power where you can read through three issues in full, which I did and I can’t lie—it was a blast. I’ve posted a few images from the magazine as well as some fantastic vintage photos of Stephens and his cohorts cavorting with the likes of Ronnie James Dio, Iggy Pop, Geezer Butler and Ozzy among others. Raw Power was also one of the only publications to have the opportunity to get some great live shots of Van Halen (taken by Murray Schwartz) while they were still performing in the LA club scene back in 1977. These had never been seen outside of the magazine until they were posted over at the Van Halen News Desk in 2014.

    Scott Stephens of Raw Power Magazine with Iggy Pop, 1977.

    Stephens with Geezer Butler of Black Sabbath.
    More ‘Raw Power’ after the jump…

    Posted by Cherrybomb | Leave a comment
    Truly incredible, extremely life-like animal masks and animal costumes
    11:16 am



    To say that I’m truly blown away by these handmade animal masks and animal costumes is still an understatement. These are holy smokes-level awesome! Since Halloween is around the corner, I thought I’d share these handmade beauties as a possible costume option or just simply as work of art you’d like to own.

    They’re by Deviant artist Crystumes and boy is there a huge gallery to check out! Each animal mask is lovingly crafted with impeccable detail. They speak for themselves, don’t they? I’m particularly smitten with the bird masks.

    From what I can tell Crystumes does take commissions according to his or her Deviant Art page. You can contact Crystumes here.

    Please click on each image to enlarge it and see its details.




    More after the jump…

    Posted by Tara McGinley | Leave a comment
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