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Occultism, cinema and architecture: How a ouija board built the Bradbury Building
02.21.2018
12:33 pm
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As a native Angeleno, I love my city and its architecture. Mostly I love the insane stories that lie within each building’s walls, especially if they somehow involve strange occult groups or bizarre happenings. Luckily for me, LA has plenty of these around. My favorite structure (for many reasons) has a deep history with occultism and is quite well known in the film and television industry. Along with luminaries like classic film actor Edmond O’Brien and action star Rutger Hauer to pop music icon Janet Jackson, the Bradbury Building in downtown Los Angeles has played a co-starring role in many media events over the last 75 years. The building made famous by Blade Runner and the set of Rhythm Nation 1814, MGM’s White Cliffs of Dover (Clarence Brown, 1944) and more, now houses offices of Marvel Comics and other businesses. But that was not always the intent. The design of the Bradbury was quite different and far more “spiritually” engaging. 

Millionaire Louis Bradbury selected George Herbert Wyman to prepare the design for the building and commissioned it in the 1890s. Wyman, working under well-established architect Sumner P. Hunt at the time, was not known but he had what Bradbury was looking for: less conventionality, more creativity, and an interest in more radical architectural design. Influenced by a novel published in 1888 by journalist Edward Bellamy called Looking Backward: 2000-1887, the men conspired to make the Bradbury Building a physical incarnation of utopianism and futurist thought. Within the book, Bellamy spoke of buildings “full of light” designed with windows that allowed this luminosity to flow in from the sides of the building as well as from the roof. This aspect of Bellamy-ism described a construction centered on the virtue of building to and for the very notion of natural lighting, something that ended up being very useful to future filmmakers!

George Wyman and Louis Bradbury were not alone in their attraction to futuristic thinkers like Bellamy. During this time, Los Angeles was home to many clubs, social gatherings and meetings of utopian societies centered on such aesthetic ideals spoke of in books like Looking Backward. But George Wyman was still unsure about taking the contract due to his underling status with Sumner P. Hunt. He felt it would be a betrayal of sorts. So he decided, like any good early 20th century man, to let the decision be influenced by the occult. While this was not singular to LA, as much as any Angeleno loved a good futurist ideal, they adored spiritualism even more. George Wyman decided to contact his dead brother via what we know now as a Ouija board.

Young Mark Wyman had died a few years earlier and George felt it would be best to get Mark’s feelings on the Bradbury contract. According to sources as close to the family as Wyman’s own daughter, the message received via the planchette was: “Take the Bradbury Building. It will make you famous.” George Wyman took the contract. The beautiful Bradbury Building opened in 1893, located at 304 South Broadway in downtown Los Angeles. It was just about as full of art nouveau glory, wrought iron strength and light-expansive splendor as a building could possibly be. Sadly, Mr. Bradbury had passed away a few months earlier so he never got to see his creation at its fullest. 

One of my favorite films to be shot here is Rudolph Maté’s D.O.A. (1950) starring Edmond O’Brien. D.O.A. opens with the conclusion of the film and is one of the darkest, most engaging B-noirs ever made. The famous opening scene offers Frank Bigelow (O’Brien) entering the Homicide Division office located in the Los Angeles City Hall building. He sits down, and states: “I want to report a murder.” The commanding officer asks him who was murdered and the camera finally shows us O’Brien’s face. “I was,” he breathes. The rest of the film is a non-stop roller coaster; documenting Bigelow’s action-packed last 24 hours of existence searching for his killer.

The grand finale made great use of the elegant Bradbury Building walkways located outside the offices. The dramatic staircases and wrought-iron elevators add to the film’s drama and visual set-up. The design and openness of the building allow for the full noir vision to be captured in a low-light setting. D.O.A. was a low-budget film, made in under a month. Headed up by Rudolph Maté and shot by Ernest Laszlo, the dystopian visuals affected by their lighting and narrative worked perfectly with the Bradbury’s design.

As Thom Anderson details in his film essay, Los Angeles Plays Itself, director Ridley Scott and his screenwriter did not initially agree on shooting locations for what many consider to be one of the greatest science-fiction and neo-noir films of all time: Blade Runner (1982). Writer Hampton Fancher knew that the building was in regular usage for filming at this moment in time and felt that its idiosyncratic aesthetic made it far too recognizable of a structure. Ridley Scott felt differently. “It hasn’t been done the way I’m going to do it,” he stated. Scott knew that the visual landscape planned for Blade Runner matched the architecture of the Bradbury Building perfectly. It even allowed for the fact that, by the 1980s, the building was a little worse for wear (the building was renovated in the early ‘90s, but in 1982 it was pretty run down).

The beautiful multi-paneled skylight stretching over the atrium on the Bradbury, influenced by early 20th Century futurism, now became a whole new science fiction: Scott exploited that with style, shining searchlights and blinking neon through the ceiling, calling attention to the anxious and claustrophobic feel of the film.

Today’s Bradbury Building may not look exactly like it did when these works were shot, but it still maintains the architectural schema that Wyman and Bradbury originally planned. It is an extraordinary place to behold: light flowing in from the windowed ceiling, breathtakingly beautiful latticed ironwork on the elevators. Filmic works that are shot there now are typically less nihilistic than the ones of the past but since the renovation, the building is in better shape. As part of our treasured Los Angeles history, the 125-year-old building is the oldest structure to be named as a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument (LAHCM). It has also been nationally recognized, garnering a place in the US National Register of Historic Places and a US National Historic Landmark. Not too shabby for a building whose contractor took the job from an Ouija board response.
 

 

 

 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Ariel Schudson
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02.21.2018
12:33 pm
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LeRoy Neiman’s legendary Femlins and his racy artwork for Playboy magazine
02.21.2018
10:12 am
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One of artist LeRoy Neiman’s famous Femlins on the cover of Playboy magazine.

“I‘m not a scene painter; I‘m the scene painter.”

—American artist LeRoy Neiman in an interview with Cigar Aficionado magazine.

Whenever the Olympic Games roll around, I am often reminded of one of my favorite artists, LeRoy Neiman, who was the official painter for the Olympic Games for several years and widely painted and illustrated vibrant images of nearly every sporting event known to man. Neiman has also painted a massive number of portraits of celebrities and sports superstars such as Frank Sinatra, golfer Arnold Palmer, and boxer Muhammad Ali. Neiman’s exuberant, colorful take on American culture was everywhere during the 70s and 80s and beyond—including in the pages of Playboy magazine.

In 1954 Neiman joined forces with Hugh Hefner after running into him while he was strolling around Chicago (the pair had previously met while Neiman was an illustrator for the Carson Pirie Scott department store chain where Hefner was a copywriter). Neiman would go on to provide paintings and illustrations to the magazine for decades, including the cheeky creation of the Femlins—an adorable group of illustrated girls with black hair, clad in long gloves, thigh-high stockings, high heels—and nothing else. The Femlins came to be in 1955 after Hefner proposed that Playboy’s regular feature Party Jokes needed some visual stimulation to go along with the feature’s bawdy giggles. Eventually, Neiman’s naughty nude pixies would become twelve-inch clay models with high-gloss paint jobs which were photographed for the magazine including its coveted cover. Then, in 1963, Playboy published a pictorial called “The Femlin Comes To Life” which featured a well endowed, naked Femlin model.

If you’re acquainted with the history of Playboy and their exhaustive marketing, then you might also know there was a time when you could purchase twelve-inch Femlin figures in various poses as well as other Femlin-themed merchandise. If you are lucky enough to come across one of the figures these days, obtaining one for your collection will likely run more than a grand depending on their condition. Original Femlin artwork done by Neiman won’t come cheap either; paintings routinely sell more than ten grand and simple Femlin illustrations signed by the artist list for nearly a thousand bucks. I’ve included some fantastic images of Neiman’s work for Playboy below, pretty much all of it is NSFW.
 

A collectible Femlin figure and a cocktail glass.
 

 

A painting by LeRoy Neiman of two Playboy Bunnies playing pool.
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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02.21.2018
10:12 am
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Remastered music from lost psych gods The Damnation of Adam Blessing
02.21.2018
09:58 am
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By purloining their band name from a pulp crime novel, The Damnation of Adam Blessing sealed their fate. DJs’ reluctance to announce their name on-air in 1970 basically kept them off the radio despite the high quality of their output (Damn Yankees could exist on stage and in cinemas because the FCC couldn’t levy indecency fines on theaters), and that their name led to their frequent misidentification as an occult-themed band a la Coven didn’t help them find their audience, either.

But The Damnation of Adam Blessing’s output holds up against any other hard rock band circa 1970—they’d fit comfortably into a playlist with Cream, Sir Lord Baltimore, Humble Pie, or Atomic Rooster—and their first two albums (the second, in particular) are lost psych-rock treasures. Emerging in the late ‘60s from the same Cleveland, OH cover-band scene that produced members of The James Gang and The Raspberries, Damnation set themselves apart with powerful, groove-oriented playing and a compelling vocalist (Bill Constable, credited as “Adam Blessing” because why not just run with that) who could channel Mark Lindsay and Leslie West with equal aplomb. Though their originals were the main attraction, their 1969 self-titled debut album betrayed their cover-band roots with its inclusion of transformative versions of Bonnie Dobson’s “Morning Dew” and The Monkees’ “Last Train to Clarksville.”
 

 
Per Damnations guitarist Jim Quinn:

Originally Adam and I were in a band called The Society, basically a cover band. I was 19, just got out of the service and was working at a gas station. The owner was dating a woman who said her son was in a band that was looking for a guitar player. I went and auditioned, and Adam Blessing was in the band—he was still going by his real name, Bill Constable—and we played around maybe for a year, battles of the bands. But Adam and I wanted to do our own music, we’d written several songs together, so he went out looking for a band, and he found a band called Dust. They were a four-piece band, guitar, bass, drums, and a lead singer, and we talked the band into leaving the singer and coming over to us. We had management and original material, so we went in to the basement for six months, and came out to get a gig as the house band at a place called D’Poos.

 

 

 

Memorabilia from Jim Quinn’s stash, much gratitude for its provision. Clicking spawns a more readable enlargement

Though the band’s albums came out on the major label United Artists and were promoted pretty heavily, distro just plain sucked; though the band was wowing crowds on tour, those audiences were often unable to find Damnation records in shops. So when they broke up in 1973, both the band and its legacy vanished but good. Their post-mortem cult never really developed until 1999, when they were exhumed for an incredibly lengthy and detailed article in Ugly Things #17, which led to a suite of CD re-releases on the Italian reissue label Akarma, which in their turn created a mini-renaissance of interest in the band among deep psych-heads—Decibel called them “one of the greatest U.S. rock bands that hardly anyone has heard.” A hometown reunion concert took place after their bass player was released from prison—another story altogether, one best told by the man himself.

Those Italian reissues were sourced from surviving vinyl, and so sonically they were no great shakes, but the crucial first two albums are being reissued again, with superior sound. (Seriously, never mind the second two, they were not up to the standards the band had set, and the last came out after they’d been dropped by UA, under the band name “Glory.”) The Brooklyn-based label Exit Stencil secured the licensing to The Damnation of Adam Blessing and The Second Damnation, and remastered the albums from the original tapes, which turned up in Universal’s vaults along with all the original album art. These are as pristine as reissues get, and we’re excited to have been granted permission to share some of the newly remastered tracks with you today. We’ve got the debut album’s “Cookbook,” which was the b-side to their “Morning Dew” single, and the second album’s excellent “Back to the River.” We got some background on both tracks while we had Jim Quinn on the phone:

“Cookbook” was the very first song we wrote together. We’d watched a movie called I Love You, Alice B. Toklas, and they made marijuana brownies in it, and that’s what the song started to develop from, the idea there would be a cookbook with that recipe. We really thought that should have been our first single instead of the b-side, it would have been a hit—so many bands have covered it and had success with it. But it was a fun song to write.

“Back to the River,” we wrote when we didn’t have a place to rehearse. We were hanging out with a woman we met through our manager, and she was pretty much into the witchcraft thing, Beelzebub statues in her house and so forth. We started writing that song in her living room one night. It started with our bass player coming up with his part, and it was a protest song about the war. We all took that pretty seriously. “Take Me Back to the River” was about the idea of bringing these soldiers back home. In fact it was in a Vietnam documentary that Bill Paxton narrated, called Sky Soldier.

 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Ron Kretsch
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02.21.2018
09:58 am
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A lonely planet full of isolated unhappy souls: One man’s potent takedown of ‘antisocial’ media
02.20.2018
11:05 am
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When Facebook switched on just over a decade ago, a friend described the shiny, newly minted social media platform as being like a great big cocktail party where one could drift in and out of conversations (drink in hand no doubt) meet new people, renew old acquaintances, and share ideas and information. It didn’t take too long before I started thinking Facebook was more like Sid Caesar’s writers’ room where the writers screamed out their material in the hope of getting picked every time the old comedy kingpin Caesar popped his head in the room to see what was cooking. The big difference being these writers’ scripts were gold, whereas Facebook was mainly filled with dross like the endless loops of viral videos featuring pandas sneezing, men with bulging eyes, and cats getting all surprised when they’re tickled. Even our means of responding to this “wonderful content” was limited to just a “Like” button. There were no laughing/crying faces or other emojis back then.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s noble dream of meaningful interaction bringing people together was now but a cold caller’s White Pages. Then came Twitter which soon fell into a moronic inferno of abusive trolls who seemed to think the platform was solely invented to help them deal with ther anger management issues. Next was the empty hall of mirrors better known as Instagram and the utterly pointless connectivity of Linkedin which merely confirmed the deep nagging suspicion that being part of this group was like sending your resume to the mad cat lady down the road.

Now I’m sure for many many people social media’s a groove and a gas and has helped them successfully navigate their world and given them the belief they are somehow relevant to whatever it is that’s going on. Good. That’s fair. That’s really nice to hear. Still, let me hazard a guess that maybe for some—maybe just a disgruntled few—social media ain’t all it’s cracked up to be. In fact, it’s very disappointing. And if all those reports that are always wheeled out every time some old school media outlet wants to score a point are true then social media platforms like Facebook, like Twitter, like whatever, haven’t made people happier, sunnier, calmer, more fun-loving peeps but more frustrated and lonely.

Now before y’all jump in and say but…but…but… etc. If one can see faults in Heaven then it ain’t perfect and maybe we can do something about it to make it better—but can that ever happen if we haven’t the means, the tools, to correct what is wrong?

But that’s just my two cents, you can keep the change.

Digital artist Mike Campau has also been wondering about our social media world and its effects. Campau is a highly respected and very successful digital artist who’s worked with a list of names more impressive than an award ceremony guest list. One of his recent projects is ANTISOCIAL which uses photography and CGI to ask questions about our social media world as he sez in his pitch:

Social Media is starting to get some pullback, and rightfully so. Each platform has its own problems, but all have had a large impact on society as a whole, both good and bad.  Each image takes place in an empty parking lot which is a symbol of our singularly isolated posts but placed in a location where it can be easily seen by many.

See more of ANTISOCIAL and Campau’s work here.
 
More lonely planet, after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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02.20.2018
11:05 am
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A whole bunch of flamboyant clothing worn over the years by Russell Mael of Sparks
02.20.2018
09:04 am
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Of all the acts that are featured regularly on Dangerous Minds, Sparks might be the one for whom the term “wags” is the most appropriate. For the brothers Russell and Ron Mael are nothing if not clever. For their project with Franz Ferdinand, the name they chose, “FFS,” is already clever, in that the letters usually mean “for fuck’s sake.” One of the tracks on that album is called “Collaborations Don’t Work.” Sparks’ idea of a Christmas song is called “Thank God It’s Not Christmas.”

Also quite clever is the title of their 2013 career-spanning box set, which is New Music for Amnesiacs. (Told you.) Sparks released two flavors of that title in 2013, a generous 2-CD compilation with 40 tracks called the “The Essential Collection,” but that worthy product is hardly anything next to “The Ultimate Collection,” a brain-melting box set with many extras, including 4 CDs, a hardbound 64-page “coffee table book,” “never-before-seen proof-sheet photo outtakes of the Big Beat photo session shot by renowned photographer Richard Avedon,” a laminated AAA pass, a lanyard, a sticker. a “badge,” and who knows what all.
 

 
The box set cost £99 from the Sparks website, but it’s sold out. You can get it for more than $300 on Amazon today, however.

Page 29 of features a whole bunch of crazy shit Russell used to wear on stage in the 1980s. It looks like this:
 

 
We figured the Sparks fans in the audience deserved a closer look. There are a couple doozies in there.
 

 
Get a much closer look after the jump…...
 

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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02.20.2018
09:04 am
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The surreal psychedelic art of Giovanni Forlino
02.20.2018
08:14 am
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A painting by Giovanni Forlino.
 
Giovanni Forlino is a young artist who works out of a studio in Manhattan. Before he turned twenty, Forlino was well into developing his striking, psychedelic style of illustration and painting—and his artistic evolution continues to inspire his fans as well as his 34.3 million followers on Instagram.

In the summer of 2017, Forlino created an 84-page coloring book called Giovanni Forlino’s Fantastic Coloring Book full of his hallucinatory paintings and drawings. The book retails for just $2.49 here and I’m sure after you check out the images of Forlino’s far-out art, you’ll want one for your very own. His style is reminiscent of John Kricfalusi—or John K. as he is better known—the man who gave us the gift that never stops giving, The Ren & Stimpy Show. Lest you still have any lingering doubt of Forlino’s skill and appeal, his artwork has been displayed on the walls of prominent museums such as The Getty and Guggenheim—a remarkable accomplishment for any artist regardless of age. Some of the images that follow are NSFW.
 

 

 

 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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02.20.2018
08:14 am
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‘I Got You Babe’: The Rolling Stones camp it up miming to Sonny and Cher, 1965
02.19.2018
11:39 am
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Hosting Ready Steady Go! in September of 1965, The Rolling Stones camped it up in this “mime contest” version of Sonny and Cher’s hit—then at the top of the pop charts—“I Got You Babe.”

First Ready Steady Go!‘s co-host “Queen of the Mods” Cathy McGowan stands in for Cher before a vest-clad Brian Jones puts on his sunniest Sonny impression (and quite charming it is). Keith, on tuba, puffs away nonplussed.

Then it’s Mick’s turn to flounce around coquettishly taking Cher’s part to manager Andrew Loog Oldham’s turn as his decidedly more butch duet partner. Charlie and Bill just look suitably embarrassed to be a part of these shenanigans.

All but forgotten now, young Cathy McGowan was a hugely influential style icon of “Swinging London” and the idol of Twiggy and Vogue’s Anna Wintour. She had her own fashion line at British Home Stores and helped popularize the miniskirt. McGowan’s Mary Quant-ish look seen on television every week is said to have been one of the key factors opening up the minds of young British working class women to the world of fashion in the 1960s. Her tenure on Ready Steady Go! was described by writer George Melly as what “made pop music work on a truly national scale ... It was almost possible to feel a tremor of pubescent excitement from Land’s End to John O’Groats.”

In the words of British historian Dominic Sandbrook, in his 2006 book White Heat: A History of Britain in the Swinging Sixties 1964-1970:

The show’s most celebrated presenter, McGowan was the same age as the national audience; she wore all the latest trendy shirts and mini-dresses; and she spoke with an earnest, ceaseless barrage of teenage slang, praising whatever was ‘fab’ or ‘smashing’, and damning all that was ‘square’ or ‘out’. ‘The atmosphere’, one observer wrote later, ‘was that of a King’s Road party where the performers themselves had only just chanced to drop by.’

That sort of informal attitude is certainly on ample display here in this fun clip.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger
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02.19.2018
11:39 am
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Branded to Kill: Japanese cult director Seijun Suzuki’s deepest cuts
02.19.2018
11:34 am
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In early February, I attended a weekend of rare Seijun Suzuki films at the American Cinematheque here in Los Angeles. Although big screen showings of his work are happening more frequently and Arrow Films is putting many of his films out on disc, when these mind-melting cinematic explosions come around they ALWAYS fall into the “cancel everything else you had planned and get tickets for every show” category for me. This particular retrospective was almost all 35mm, early work and many were flown in especially from Japan. There was no way I was skipping it.

A few films were the most stunning prints I have seen in ages. The theatrical experience of Suzuki’s first color film Fighting Delinquents (1960, also titled Go to Hell, Punks!) was better than any date I’ve had in ten years. Provided by the Japan Foundation Film Library, this 35mm print was in excellent condition; its color exceptionally deep and rich. The film preservationist in me was going apeshit while the film fan was swooning like a teenager at a Beatles’ show. Shot in Cinemascope, Delinquents filled the screen, allowing Suzuki to exploit every goddamn inch. Seijun Suzuki’s cinema should be experienced in a theatrical space if possible. His female characters are tough and nuanced, his Yakuza guys are bizarre but kickass, and the music is always amazing. Seijun Suzuki makes a lot of films that seem like fever dream surrealism (he’s known for being “crazy”) but I experience them as wild and exciting takes on traditional genre work. He makes THE BEST juvenile delinquent, crime and Westerns movies. He just synthesizes them through Japanese and his own patented “Seijun Suzuki-ness.” 

I am grateful that my friend and colleague, Will Morris, a programmer at the American Cinematheque who planned and executed this magical series in tandem with another wonderful Will—Will Carroll.  Carroll made the magic of this Suzuki Retrospective happen in the first place and is a fascinating human! I spoke briefly with him about how these prints came to the US in the first place, picking his Suzuki-riddled brain. Will is currently a PhD candidate in Cinema and Media Studies at the University of Chicago. His dissertation, Suzuki Seijun and the Redemption of Cinephilia, deals with Suzuki Seijun and the fallout from his firing by Nikkatsu Studios in 1968, focusing particularly on the ways in which his films were subsequently championed, or perhaps commandeered, by various groups of film theorists. Sounds awesome, right???

Dangerous Minds: Thanks so much for organizing such an amazing retrospective of rare works. Can you give a short account of how this process occurred?

Will Carroll: A few years ago, Tom Vick released his book on Suzuki and put together a traveling retrospective. I ended up going to New York and Boston to see some of the films that weren’t playing in Chicago (we had a very abridged version of the series: the only rare films that screened here were Carmen from Kawachi and Clandestine Zero-Line) and I decided to put together an event on campus to bring another one of the rare films to us. I contacted Tom Vick (whom I had never met before) and he very generously put me in touch with Japan Foundation and helped me put the event together, and came out to do a Q&A for it. After that, I made inquiries with Japan Foundation about what other rare Suzuki films they had in subtitled prints. For the series, I just picked all of the rarest films that they had: either films that didn’t screen as part of the traveling retrospective in North America a few years ago, or really good ones that had played in other places but not Chicago and weren’t widely available (notably Eight Hours of Terror, A Tale of Sorrow and Sadness, and Capone Cries in His Sleep).

Why is it so difficult to see Seijun Suzuki films? What would you say the most difficult one(s) are to see?

Suzuki gained the attention of student cinephile circles in Japan starting around Gate of Flesh (Nikutai no mon) in 1964. There had been a little bit of interest in him before then (Kanto Wanderer got a single vote for Kinema Junpō‘s ten best list in 1963), but it was really after that film that interest took off, and newly emerging student film groups like Tokyo Cine-club began hosting retrospectives of his films in the mid-1960s, but with the emphasis always being on the later Nikkatsu films…The interest in Suzuki really took off when he was fired by Nikkatsu and Cine-club tried to hold a complete retrospective of his work, but Nikkatsu blocked the release of his prints. It led to large student demonstrations, and the involvement of filmmakers like Ōshima Nagisa, Matsumoto Toshio, and other new left filmmaking figures. The event was somewhat analogous to “the Langlois Affair” in France the same year (which wasn’t lost on observers in Japan—in 1968, film journals like Eiga Hyōron had entire sections dedicated to “The Langlois Affair and the Suzuki Incident”). The irony was that at the point he became this famous, nobody could watch his films because Nikkatsu was blocking their circulation. I think this moment might have aroused interest in some of the earlier films, and some of the films that hadn’t gotten so much attention yet, but since no one could watch them, the emphasis in all the writings that came out about Suzuki at the time were on the films that his defenders already knew: Youth of the Beast, Kanto Wanderer, Gate of Flesh, Tokyo Drifter, Fighting Elegy, and Branded to Kill. He didn’t become known in the West particularly until the Taisho films traveled on the festival circuit in the 1980s, and eventually some of his Nikkatsu films began playing at retrospectives in Europe and North America, but again the emphasis was always on these same films.

The most difficult film of his to see is There is a Bird Within a Man (Otoko no naka ni wa tori ga iru), a television project he made in 1969 that was completed but never released…There are a few films of his available on DVD in Japan that haven’t been released in the U.S. or the U.K., though some of them in limited pressings: Harbor Toast: Victory is Ours, The Age of Nudity, Carmen from Kawachi, Capone Cries in His Sleep, and a few others that are now coming out with the new Arrow box sets. In general, though, you have to rely on repertory screenings of the films either in Tokyo or on Nikkatsu’s movie channel (Neco) to see a lot of the earlier films.

So these new Arrow Films DVD/Blu-ray box sets—Seijun Suzuki: The Early Years. Vol. 1 Seijun Rising: The Youth Movies and Seijun Suzuki: The Early Years. Vol. 2. Border Crossings: The Crime and Action Movies —are being released very soon. As a Suzuki scholar, what are your thoughts?

The fact that Arrow has now released two Suzuki Blu-ray box-sets in the past year and are scheduled to release another one later this year is certainly promising. I actually ended up swapping around a few films that were in the series after they announced the first box-set…The one I kept in was Born Under Crossed Stars, because I think it’s too good…

The one film that’s part of the second upcoming set that has never been officially subtitled (as far as I’m aware) is Tokyo Knight (which is great fun, by the way). I’m glad that with these new box sets of the early work, we are starting to see some attention drawn to some of the earlier films that have thus far been largely written out of the Suzuki narrative. There are some really odd items among his early films, including quite a few that aren’t among the ones getting released. But there are also some films from his late Nikkatsu period that haven’t gotten as much attention that I’m hoping to see a wide release of at some point as well, notably The Call of Blood (a.k.a. Our Blood Will Not Forgive) from 1964 and Carmen from Kawachi from 1966, which are, to my mind, two of his best films. I guess all I can say for now is: I’m hopeful.
 

 

 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Ariel Schudson
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02.19.2018
11:34 am
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Frankenstein and his Bride get mind-melting makeovers


Frankenstein’s monster reimagined as Franken Berry (the General Mills cereal monster mascot) by Michael Burnett.
 
In 2011, 80 artists were invited to create their own version of Hollywood’s most famous monster of filmland—no, not Harvey Weinstein, but rather the creation of author Mary Shelley, James Whale and Boris Karloff, Frankenstein’s monster—for a charity art endeavor called the It’s Alive Project. For the show, the artists were simply required to utilize a bust of actor Boris Karloff in character as Frankenstein’s monster and do whatever they wanted. Over the next few years the It’s Alive Project would take on the monster’s better half, as famously portrayed by actress Elsa Lanchester in the 1935 film, Bride of Frankenstein. Updates to the monster’s made-to-order bride and her black and white look were quite imaginative—such as depicting Lanchester as a punk rocker with a dangerous looking blue mohawk or a sinister-looking version of Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz.

The impressive life-sized busts were sold for equally impressive prices in various auctions—some going for several thousand dollars each. All proceeds from the sale of the various tricked-out monsters and his bride were donated to the St Jude Children’s Research Hospital, which provides cost-free treatment to children diagnosed with cancer and other life-threatening diseases. Some of the images that follow are slightly NSFW.
 

Frankenstein’s monster as Spock from ‘Star Trek.’
 

“The Bride of Oz” by John Allred.
 

“Punk Bride” by Barry S. Anderson. Other work by Anderson can be seen in the 1986 film ‘Day of the Dead,’ and 2001’s ‘Jeepers Creepers.’
 
More monsters after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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02.19.2018
09:23 am
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‘Re-Animator’: Get a Herbert West action figure with bonus dead cat and Dr. Hill’s head
02.16.2018
09:58 am
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I’ve never been a huge fan of comedic horror, but there are three movies (all from the ‘80s) that I think got the formula unquestionably right: Street Trash (1987), Brain Damage (1988) and the best one of all, 1985’s Re-Animator.

Re-Animator, based on H.P. Lovecraft’s short story, Herbert West - Reanimator, has stood the test of time and maintains a solid cult following. It spawned two sequels, Bride of Re-Animator and Beyond Re-Animator and even an outrageously campy (and extremely bloody) musical, directed by the film’s creator, Stuart Gordon. Arrow Video has recently released some absolutely incredible special edition Blu-rays of both Re-Animator  and Bride of Re-Animator that get my highest recommendation. You can tell a lot of love went into those reissue packages.

You can also tell a lot of love went into the newly announced Re-Animator action figure which will be released by NECA this summer.

The set contains an eight-inch retro-style action figure of Herbert West as well as a bottle of reagent, a bloody shovel, Rufus the (un)dead cat, and Dr. Hill’s undead head in the metal tray.

NECA’s official announcement indicates that the clothed figure will come in resealable clamshell packaging.

This isn’t the first time we’ve seen a Re-Animator action figure. Amok Time put out a 3.75 inch Herbert West figure a couple of years ago which is still available. It’s not nearly as cool as this one though:


 

 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Christopher Bickel
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02.16.2018
09:58 am
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