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Dez Dickerson’s awesome blink-and-you’ll-miss-it song (featuring Prince) in ‘Purple Rain’
06.15.2018
08:51 am
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Prince and Dez
 
Less than 60 seconds of a tune called “Modernaire” is heard in Purple Rain, the 1984 film starring Prince. The group performing the song, led by Prince’s former guitarist, is on screen all of fifteen seconds. For my best friend at that time, those tantalizing bits left him—and others (myself included)—wanting more. My buddy became obsessed with hearing the full track, and hunted high and low for a copy, but to no avail. After a while, we had to wonder: Is it even for sale? This was the pre-web days, when finding answers to questions like this wasn’t so easy. Turns out, it wasn’t obtainable, and decades would go by before “Modernaire” was released.

Dez Dickerson was the lead guitarist in Prince’s band from 1978 until 1983. During this period, Prince usually performed all of the instruments on his records, but that’s Dez playing the guitar solo on “Little Red Corvette.”
 
UK picture sleeve
 
Dickerson departed the Prince organization after the 1999 campaign ended in the spring of 1983. Though Dez was leaving to pursue a solo career, Prince still wanted the guitarist to be involved in the Purple Rain project. Dez was offered screen time in the film, which would highlight his new group and one of Dickerson’s songs.
 
Dirty Mind tour
Prince and Dez during the ‘Dirty Mind’ tour, c. 1980.

It’s believed that “Modernaire” was recorded in May 1983 at Prince’s home studio. At the time, Dickerson was in Minneapolis for a performance at the Minnesota Music Awards on May 16, which would be his last gig with Prince. The recording of “Modernaire” was very much a collaboration between Dez and Prince, who co-produced the sessions. Prince played all of the instruments and sang back-up vocals. Jill Jones, who was part of the Prince camp, recited a couple of lines from Romeo and Juliet, which are heard in reverse on the finished track.
 

 
In the fall of 1983, Warner Bros. expressed their interest in releasing “Modernaire” as a single. Prince even arranged for his managers to represent Dez, but a deal couldn’t be worked out with the label or any other. There was also talk of including it on the Purple Rain soundtrack album, but in the end, only Prince’s material was included. During the subsequent Purple Rain mania, Dez received a call from the Warner Bros. requesting a B-side and artwork, as they planned to put it out. But, ultimately, a “Modernaire” 45 never materialized.

Though the song was shaped to fit with the other music in Purple Rain, and wasn’t really reflective of his style, Dez grew to like the tune. Dickerson has said “Modernaire” is about “someone who is not just ahead of the curve, but around it already.”
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Bart Bealmear
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06.15.2018
08:51 am
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‘Afros, Macks & Zodiacs’: Blaxploitation trailers hosted by Rudy Ray Moore as Dolemite
06.14.2018
07:11 am
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Afros, Macks & Zodiacs
 
It was recently announced that Eddie Murphy is playing comedian/actor Rudy Ray Moore in the upcoming Netflix bio pic, Dolemite Is My Name. Moore first gained notoriety for his ‘70s comedy records that were so racy they had to be sold under the counter. On these albums, he told raunchy stories about the larger than life figure, “Dolemite,” which he delivered in a rhyming fashion that influenced rap. Moore subsequently took on the role of the character in his act and on screen. He starred in such classic blaxploitation pictures as Dolemite (1975), Petey Wheatstraw (1977), and Disco Godfather (1979). Moore died in 2008.
 
Dolemite
 
In the mid-1990s, with renewed interest in blaxploitation cinema, Rudy Ray Moore experienced a career renaissance. In 1995, I went to a Detroit-area screening of Dolemite, featuring an appearance by Moore. Though he walked with a cane, once he hit the stage he became Dolemite, slinging rhyme after rhyme like in his prime, and hurling lewd insults at audience members who weren’t expecting to be roasted by the man. It was something else. Afterwards, he was selling merchandise and such in the lobby, incredulous that no one was interested in the unrelated porno tapes he was offering. Good times.
 
Rudy Ray Moore
 
It was during this period that Something Weird Video put out Afros, Macks & Zodiacs – Volume 1 , a compilation of blaxploitation trailers featuring Dolemite himself as the host. He’s joined by three young women, who act as a kind of captive audience for Rudy Ray’s X-rated routines.
 
Moore, after the jump…

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Posted by Bart Bealmear
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06.14.2018
07:11 am
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Bloody brilliant Nintendo TV ads from the early 90s starring Rik Mayall
06.12.2018
08:04 am
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A photo of actor Rik Mayall (RIP) as his namesake Rik in UK television show ‘The Young Ones.’
 
Actor Rik Mayall, whom we lost four years ago this past Saturday, will never be forgotten thanks to his lasting gift of making us laugh at his own, beautifully executed expense. During his career, Mayall played wild fictional characters with enviable viciousness especially his highly-quotable namesake Rik on UK series The Young Ones and for most American audiences, his role in the much-loved doleful comedy, Drop Dead Fred. So when Nintendo made a power play in the UK in the early 90s to try to compete with popular rival Sega, they hired Mayall to appear in a series of television commercials. According to the website Nintendo Life, the company hoped using Mayall as a spokesperson would help them appear less “family friendly” to consumers.

Not only the star of the commercials, Mayall helped write dialog for many of the ads along with Black Adder producer John Lloyd. At the time Mayall was one of the biggest celebrities in the UK, and Nintendo lined his pockets generously for his work which Mayall used to buy a house he nicknamed “Nintendo Towers.” Seven or so spots were shot over five-weeks, and more were planned, but Nintendo’s Japanese owners didn’t “get” Mayall at all and ended his contract with the company. Since I’m fully confident our Dangerous Minds readers get Rik Mayall I’ve posted footage of his nutty Nintendo commercials below. Game ON!
 

 
HT: Nintendo Life

Posted by Cherrybomb
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06.12.2018
08:04 am
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The Fool: The Dutch artists who worked for the Beatles (and made their own freak folk masterpiece)
06.12.2018
06:32 am
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“It appears that some part of Slothrop ran into the AWOL Džabajev one night in the heart of downtown Niederschaumdorf. (Some believe that fragments of Slothrop have grown into consistent personae of their own. If so, there’s no telling which of the Zone’s present-day population are offshoots of his original scattering. There’s supposed to be a last photograph of him on the only record album ever put out by The Fool, an English rock group—seven musicians posed, in the arrogant style of the early Stones, near an old rocket-bomb site, out in the East End, or South of the River. It is spring, and French thyme blossoms in amazing white lacework across the cape of green that now hides and softens the true shape of the old rubble. There is no way to tell which of the faces is Slothrop’s: the only printed credit that might apply to him is “Harmonica, kazoo—a friend.” But knowing his Tarot, we would expect to look among the Humility, among the gray and preterite souls, to look for him adrift in the hostile light of the sky, the darkness of the sea…)”

― Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow

Although they are hardly household names today—and they should be—the Dutch art collective The Fool created some of the most potent, striking and exotic imagery of the psychedelic era. Their hippie-gypsy clothing was seen on the Beatles and their wives, Cream and other rock stars and their album covers and other creations have today become iconic. They also recorded an incredible, but long-forgotten album—its limited edition vinyl re-release is the occasion of this post—but more on that below.
 

Marijke Koger
 
The Fool, before it was so named, started with just with two members—Marijke Koger the visionary psychedelic artist who was the collective’s leader and Simon (or Seemon) Posthuma—and later Josje Leeger, Koger’s friend from art school. Englishmen Barry Finch and photographer Karl Ferris were also involved.
 

 
Posthuma and Koger met in 1961 and participated in a nascent counterculture boutique in Amsterdam called Trend. Posthuma staged a “happening” in 1965 called Stoned in the Streets featuring an “electronic striptease” from a bodypainted Marijke, future Firesign Theatre member Peter Bergman reading poetry and weirdo medical student Bart Hughes revealing the trepanation hole he’d drilled into his own skull to grossed out hippies. The two were living on Ibiza selling posters and making clothing when they were “discovered” by Ferris. His photos of them and their work caused quite a stir when they were published in England, which was then starting to turn from drab postwar black & white to swinging psychedelic day-glo. The pair relocated to London and began to design clothing and more for bands like Cream and Procol Harum. Cream manager Robert Stigwood had Koger and Posthuma paint Eric Clapton’s Gibson SG—one of the most iconic guitars in history—as well as Jack Bruce’s bass and Ginger Baker’s bass drum head, the stage clothes and posters for Cream’s first US tour. They did album covers for the Move, the Hollies and the Incredible String Band and an illustration for the concert program at Beatles manager Brian Epstein’s Saville Theatre in Covent Garden. Of course it’s not surprising that the Beatles themselves wanted to work with such forward-thinking and creative young people. One day, as Simon told it, John Lennon and Paul McCartney simply turned up at their home:

During John and Paul’s first visit to our house in Bayswater, they saw the ‘Wonderwall,’ a composition consisting of a decorated armoire and a bust, against an arched wall, painted in the style that was up until then new to the world. “I love it, I want to live in it,” John said when he saw the ‘Wonderwall’, and Paul agreed. Afterwards, Marijke laid the tarot cards for Paul. It turned out to be his inspiration for writing “The Fool on the Hill.”

Although you can see Marijke and Simon’s fashions on the Beatles during the “I am the Walrus” sequence in Magical Mystery Tour, it was not until a bit later, when the Beatles asked them to work on the Apple Boutique on Baker Street that they formed, and so named, the Fool artistic collective with the others. It was a big job, with the Fab Four basically charging the Fool to design the exterior of the store (including a controversial mural on the outside of the building that was painted by the duo over the course of a weekend with some art students including Mickey Finn, later the bongo player of T.Rex, assisting them), the interior, and all of the clothing sold there.

Film director Joe Massot was also inspired by the “Wonderwall” cabinet and it became the title of a psychedelic film he created of that name to showcase their striking vision starring Jane Birkin.The Fool, who also appeared in the quirky cult favorite, served as the art directors for the film and it’s clearly as much their vision as it is Massot’s. Indeed it was they who got George Harrison to do the Wonderwall soundtrack.

And speaking of soundtracks, the Fool made their own. Having met Hollie Graham Nash when they did that band’s Evolution album cover, they tapped him to produce their eponymously-titled psychedelic freak folk album that was released by Mercury Records in 1969. Whereas it’s a fascinating document of the era no matter the angle of regard, it also happens to be REALLY AMAZING MUSIC. The first time I heard it, my initial thought was “Oh, it sounds like an Incredible String Band kinda thing” and indeed it does, from the (fairly cack) singing to the use of exotic instrumentation, including tabla, Moroccan stringed instruments and Scottish bagpipes. One song even sounds like an ISB pastiche done by the Residents. But here’s the thing, also like Incredible String Band, you have to give this one quite a few spins before you really “get” it. Had I written this review a few days ago, it wouldn’t be such a “rave” review—because that’s what this is, in case you were wondering, I’m unexpectedly NUTS about this album—but after listening to it a couple more times over the weekend, well, I’ve totally fallen in love with it. I went from a generally positive, but lukewarm appraisal to thinking The Fool sounded like an album I’d known and loved since childhood. Every song on it forced its way into my head where they will now reside forever. Had I written this post last week, let’s just say it still would have gone over my head. At that point the magic of this album had not reached me. But then it did. This is one of those play-it-until-you-get-it things—like ISB, like Frank Zappa, like Pink Floyd even—that is absolutely worth putting the effort into. Even if you are initially turned off at the idea of flower children visual artists dabbling in pop music, get over it. This record is the real deal. I mean look at these people. Look at their artwork. They are authentically psychedelic!!! You can’t fake this!

The Fool has been lovingly packaged and released as a numbered limited edition turquoise vinyl longplayer (with an extra track) by Holland’s mighty Music on Vinyl label. They’ve pressed up just 1000 of them so if this is something that sounds intriguing to you—and I hope that it does—you might want to get on buying one stat before it’s sold out and selling used for $80 on Discogs. A final thought about the album is that Graham Nash did a remarkable job producing it. I realize that he got pretty busy right after this (it came post Hollies, but before CSN had ramped up) but this album is a lost masterpiece in so very many ways. It’s a pity that he didn’t have a parallel career as a producer like Todd Rundgren.

The Fool even made an American tour, but disbanded as a working entity in 1970, leaving Posthuma and Koger, who were married for a time, to continue as a duo, Marijke & Seemon. They relocated to Hollywood where they painted a psychedelic mural on the exterior of the Aquarius Theater on Sunset Boulevard for the 1969 production of Hair. Today, Posthuma is based in Amsterdam—he’s also written his autobiography A Fool such as I - The Adventures of Simon Posthuma, but so far it’s only in a Dutch edition—and Marijke is based near Los Angeles. She still paints guitars and in recent years has been commissioned to do some outdoor murals in Europe. She is open for designing album covers and can be reached at her website. Finch and Leeger married on the day man landed on the moon, had six children (each named for a color) and remained together until her death by stroke in 1991. A store in Amsterdam inspired by their mother’s work was opened by two of their daughters.

Although the Victoria & Albert Museum has some of the Fool’s creations in their permanent collection, there needs to be a full-on Fool museum-level survey. And a coffee table book! SURELY a museum in the Netherlands should be looking into this!?!?! Look at the work below. This art (and history) deserves to be cataloged and respected; and preserved for future generations to enjoy.  (I’m assuming that Karl Ferris took many of the photos below, but I’m not sure which ones.)


Painting John Lennon’s piano
 

Inside the Apple Boutique
 
Much much more after the jump…

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Posted by Richard Metzger
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06.12.2018
06:32 am
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‘Avoid all systems’: Dangerous Minds interviews Damo Suzuki
06.08.2018
09:57 am
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via energythefilm.co.uk

Damo Suzuki, the legendary singer of Can, Dunkelziffer, Damo Suzuki Band and Damo Suzuki’s Network, is the subject of the upcoming documentary Energy. Director Michelle Heighway’s Indiegogo campaign to finish the movie runs through June 20. I never imagined I would speak to Damo Suzuki, and I leapt at the chance to call him by long-distance videophone, Los Angeles to Cologne, earlier this week.

When he said authority was against God’s will, I thought of the English Peasants’ Revolt, and John Ball’s sermon at Blackheath on June 13, 1381:

In the beginning all men were created equal; servitude of man to man was introduced by the unjust dealings of the wicked, and is contrary to God’s will. For, if God had intended some to be serfs and others lords, He would have made a distinction between them at the beginning.

I understand if you’re tired of talking about your health, but if you can just briefly tell us what’s been going on with you over the last few years…

It was end of August until last year, March. But I’m not still 100 percent good condition. I had really heavy-duty during that time—I had cancer. After the cancer, they made some mistakes, and things like this, so that’s why I have to stay so long. And still not that good. Maybe two hours after I wake up it’s not such really good condition, I must take medicine. Then this effect comes, maybe, after two hours, then I feel okay. I can live quite normal. But many things are handicapped, because I cannot carry stuff. More than 20 kilograms, maybe less, I cannot carry. So my work is quite limited. So it’s not sort of really like Californian sun [laughter].

It must be frustrating for you, because you’ve traveled so much and you play music all the time. Has it been hard for you to tour?

No no no, it’s not so bad like I thought. Actually, it’s good, because it’s kind of a therapy that [gives] me a little bit of motivation and enjoyable moment that I’m together with the audience, and I make things which I really like to make. So that way I feel really comfortable. So that’s my answer, not so bad to have this time.

But actually it’s not me traveling. Everybody’s traveling, you too, you are traveling too, every day, in a way. My thing is both sides: geographically and also spiritual way, so I am traveling quite hard. But it’s okay; I survived it already twice. I had once, also, in the middle of the Eighties, I had same sickness, and I survive after that 30 years. So now I survived, maybe I can live for another 30 years.

Mainly I perform in England, UK, and I have quite a young audience. Some of them is really teenagers. So I can perform another 40, 50 years, until they get old. [laughter] Maybe they can find their grandkids, you know, things like that, will come to my concert. So it’s really a nice thing, because I don’t have any kind of a special epoch, you know? I’m always quite into the times. I like it, because I just improvise music, so you cannot say, “This is old, but this is new”—actually, these are not the things that people like to hear in improvised music. They like to hear just what Damo Suzuki is doing, is all. It’s not a matter of “30 years before” or “30 years later,” the main thing is that I’m doing something, because I’m not singing every day the same songs 300 or 400 times. That I cannot make. Like everybody else, I’m doing things which are, for me, easier to make. So life is as simple as possible this way. What I’m doing for myself is the best way. Then I don’t get so much stress.

Much more after the jump…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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06.08.2018
09:57 am
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Joy at Sea: That time the Meat Puppets and the Minutemen played a show on a boat (A DM premiere)
06.07.2018
07:28 am
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Kirkwood and Boon
Curt Kirkwood (Meat Puppets) and D. Boon (Minutemen) [photo: Ann Summa]

Wait, the Meat Puppets and the Minutemen played on a boat?! Yep, it happened. The outing was part of a series of events staged by the Desolation Center, a Los Angeles collective guided by a pioneering punk promoter, whose creative concepts resulted in some of the most memorable punk rock shows of the 1980s. There’s a fantastic new documentary about this subject in the can, though it’s not ready to set sail just yet.

The Desolation Center concerts were organized by Stuart Swezey. He started out booking punk bands into the usual venues, but once the intimidating presence of the LAPD became commonplace at punk shows, Stuart began to think of non-traditional sites. This led him to come up with the idea of putting on a concert in the Mojave Desert.
 
Mojave Exodus
‘Mojave Exodus’ [photo: Mariska Leyssius]

The first of these happenings, dubbed the “Mojave Exodus,” was held on April 24, 1983. Minutemen and post-punks Savage Republic performed, and the ticket holders—who were clueless as to the location of the gig beforehand—were bussed in. Though there were unforeseen circumstances, like sand blowing into band members’ faces as they played, it was an extraordinary affair for all concerned. Stuart had pulled off what had previously been unthinkable: a punk rock show in the desert.
 
Minutemen
Minutemen (photo: Bob Durkee]

For “Mojave Auszug,” which took place on March 4, 1984, Stuart booked the German industrial band, Einstürzende Neubauten, Savage Republic-related group, “Djemaa el Fna, and performance art outfit, Survival Research Laboratories—who blew shit up.
 
Blixa Bargeld
Blixa Bargeld (Einstürzende Neubauten) [photo: Fredrik Nilsen]

A few years back, we told you about the final Mojave Desert concert, “Gila Monster Jamboree.” Held on January 5, 1985, it featured Sonic Youth, Meat Puppets, Redd Kross, and lots of free LSD. Psi Com, the opening act, was fronted by a young Perry Farrell. It’s no coincidence that Farrell later conceived the traveling outdoor festival, Lollapalooza, as he was very much inspired by his desert experience. Other events like Coachella and Burning Man also owe a debt to these Desolation Center concerts.
 
Gila Monster Jamboree
‘Gila Monster Jamboree’ (Spy the Blue Öyster Cult logo?) [photo: Bob Durkee]

After two events in the desert, Stuart started brainstorming other ways the Desolation Center could present shows. He thought, ‘What’s the opposite of desert? Water.’

Stuart had gone to a number of backyard parties in San Pedro, a neighborhood of L.A, and the hometown of the Minutemen. The Port of Los Angeles is partially located in San Pedro, and on his evening drive home from these parties, Stuart would pass the illuminated harbor, the giant cranes positioned there lit up in the night sky. It looked incredible. This is where the next Desolation Center event would be.

Stuart invited the Minutemen to play on a boat as it went around the harbor. The band, who rarely had proper gigs in their hometown, jumped at the chance, and told Stuart they could get the Meat Puppets to do the gig, too.

Continues after the jump…

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Posted by Bart Bealmear
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06.07.2018
07:28 am
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Title screens for made-up Nintendo games we’d like to see
06.06.2018
12:52 pm
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After the video game crash of 1983, it was Nintendo more than any other manufacturer that showed the way forward for video games. Today there is a whole generation for whom Nintendo Entertainment System games from the late 1980s that supplied the key formative experiences, with such homegrown hits as Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda. Unlike its main predecessor Atari, Nintendo was highly aggressive about pursuing licensed games based on movie and TV franchises, such as Teenage Muntant Ninja Turtles, Batman, The Simpsons, and Gremlins 2: The New Batch.

A while back a blog called VGJunk created some amusing title screens for licensed NES video games that never existed.

In some cases (Alien) it’s all too easy to imagine what the gameplay might be, but in many of the others, it’s a little harder to imagine. Does The Shining have a level in Dick Hallorann’s bedroom? In Ghost World, is the final boss Blues Hammer? Does They Live have a no-fighting bubble gum mode? So many questions!
 

 
More of these delightful NES games that never were, after the jump…...
 

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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06.06.2018
12:52 pm
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‘Kamikaze 89,’ the cyber-thriller in which Rainer Werner Fassbinder plays a cop who solves murders
06.05.2018
11:38 am
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The great German director Rainer Werner Fassbinder was no Alfred Hitchcock, in that he did not stick himself gratuitously into every movie he made. He did, however, appear in a lot of his own movies, so if you’re a Fassbinder freak you can amuse yourself by observing his insouciant brutishness on camera.

Fassbinder did act in other people’s movies on occasion. I didn’t know until recently that Fassbinder’s last starring role occurred in an amusing cyberpunk “thriller” (ahem) called Kamikaze ‘89 directed by a close friend of his named Wolf Gremm. The movie was released in 1982 but (as the title suggests) is set in far-off 1989, when Germany has become a totalitarian dystopia in which all problems are purported to have been solved (there hasn’t been a suicide in four years) and “everything is green,” whatever that means. The mandated diversions of the “bread and circus” formulation come in the form of state-sponsored “laughing contests.” In this edenic setting we follow a police lieutenant named Jansen (played by Fassbinder) who is trying to solve a string of murders mysteriously connected to an all-powerful conglomerate (“der Konzern”) which is run by a man calling himself the Blue Panther.

Introduced working on his squash game, Jansen wears a red shirt and a wonderfully garish leopardskin jacket in every single scene. (In this Germany alcohol is banned but he scores a furtive swig whenever he gets the chance.) Kamikaze ‘89 features plenty of faces familiar from Fassbinder’s work, including Fassbinder staple Günther Kaufmann as well as Brigitte Mira, the female lead of Ali: Fear Eats the Soul. The plot of the movie is confusing (possibly just confused), but even if the project was a lark Gremm still did a pretty admirable job of adapting Swedish author Per Wahlöö’s 1964 dystopian novel Murder on the 31st Floor

Oh yeah, I almost forgot: in addition to certain passages from The Barber of Seville by Gioachino Rossini, all of the music is composed by Edgar Froese of Tangerine Dream. (Yes, the soundtrack is available.) The high point of the movie, in fact, comes about halfway through, when Jansen is investigating on the rooftop of a tall skyscraper and beholds the misty cityscape of Berlin, scored to one of Froese’s endlessly mesmerizing melodies.
 

 
Godard’s Alphaville is the ur-text for futuristic crime movies, of course, and the general territory of Kamikaze ‘89 cannot fail to call to mind various movies by David Cronenberg and John Carpenter, although I kept thinking of Repo Man and Tapeheads too. Of course the movie that it wanted to be (without any way of knowing it) is Blade Runner, which in a quirk of synchronicity had its US premiere about three weeks before Kamikaze ‘89 was unveiled to West German audiences. Sadly, Fassbinder passed away of a drug overdose at the age of 37 about two weeks before Blade Runner opened. 

Continues after the jump…

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Posted by Martin Schneider
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06.05.2018
11:38 am
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Of flying monkeys & Fellini: Seattle movie mecca Scarecrow Video turns 30 (help them stick around!)
06.05.2018
07:05 am
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“I love movies. It’s still my candy store, and I’m the biggest kid in it.”

—Scarecrow Video founder and owner, the late George Latsios

In the early 90s, Scarecrow Video founder George Latsios would spend every Saturday night behind the counter of his store, offering movie recommendations to customers he knew by their first and last names, including young Kurt Cobain and Krist Novoselic of Nirvana. Scarecrow buyer for the last 25 years Mark Steiner fondly recalls his former boss and friend saying, “There was no other place George would rather be on a Saturday night.”

In the early 80s, Latsios started loaning out selections from his 600-800 title collection of giallo and horror VHS tapes through Backtrack Records and other locations. By 1995 Latsios and his then-wife/Scarecrow co-founder Rebecca Soriano had amassed approximately 26,000 titles (noted in the book Videoland: Movie Culture at the American Video Store). 1995 would also mark the year Latsios received a life-altering medical diagnosis—he had brain cancer and only six months to live.

At the time of his diagnosis, Scarecrow had been doing business at their 5030 Roosevelt Way North East location for several years and was in dire financial trouble. Instead of shuttering Scarecrow’s doors, Latsios focused on expanding the store’s video collection. He also aspired to open other stores not just in the U.S. but globally in destinations like Japan—one of Latsios favorite spots for buying trips. To some, Latsios’ spending habits and his aversion to paying taxes in a timely fashion appeared reckless. But as Steiner plainly states, this was far from the truth. Latsios was very “level-headed,” and those who knew him didn’t confuse actions driven by his passion for film as symptoms of failing health. Was George in denial about his spending habits? Perhaps a little bit. This chapter of Scarecrow Video’s history sounds like the plot of a gritty-yet-endearing film, which seems fitting as it illustrates Latsios’ love of cinema and his desire to share it with everyone. Here’s more from Steiner, who I spoke to in Scarecrow’s homey in-store screening room last week, on what made George Latsios tick:

“He spent money to curate the store he believed in. It was his baby, and we (the employees of Scarecrow) were all his family. He treated us generously like you would treat your actual family. We’d have meals together, and they were always special. If your paycheck bounced, he’d turn on a dime and ask you how much money you needed to tide you through and go get it from the till. One of the most telling things about George is when you consider the name “Scarecrow.” You see, the endearing Scarecrow was his favorite character in 1939’s The Wizard of Oz. He often wore an old t-shirt with the Scarecrow’s famous quote/lament “If I Only Had a Brain.” One of my favorite memories of George was the time a woman and her young teen daughter came to the store and struck up a conversation with him. At some point, the woman asked George to help her understand the difference between an R-rated film and an NC 17 one. After a brief pause, George replied, “An R-rating = titties with no bush, and an NC 17 rating = titties with bush.”

By 1999 Latsios was over-burdened with financial woes, and reluctantly put Scarecrow up for sale. Then, as if from a movie, two Scarecrow customers who happened to be making a pretty good living during the day over at Microsoft, John Dauphiny and Carl Tostevin, joined forces and bought the store. Though they told George they would love for him to stay on as long as he’d like, Latsios declined and moved back to his native Greece where he passed away at the young age of 44 in 2003. For three decades, Scarecrow has been a come-one-come-all custodian of pop culture for Seattleites and host to avant-garde and counter-culture heroes of the movie industry like John Woo, Troma‘s Lloyd Kaufman, Alex Cox, and Alejandro Jodorowsky. There was also the time director Quentin Tarantino, in town for the SIFF International Film Festival and without a car, called the store to ask for walking directions, noting he was “not going to take the bus, alriiiight.” Later, as Steiner was jawing with a friend while on his way to work, he noticed a very sunburned Quentin Tarantino striding up Roosevelt Way North East and into Scarecrow. During his visit, Tarantino asked permission to browse through the store’s vast library, which he did for several hours, later hanging out with the staff.
 

A very sunburned Quentin Tarantino hanging out at Scarecrow Video in 2001. Photo courtesy of Mark Steiner.
 
As a testament to Latsios’ unrivaled love of film, the vast majority of Scarecrow’s employees and volunteers have been working there for decades, ensuring Scarecrow can continue to provide access to the largest publicly accessible video collection in the world. A staggering selection of 130,000+ titles can be found inside, including thousands you can’t stream anywhere else (sorry, Netflix). Some titles in Scarecrow’s catalog can only be viewed on the premises, such as a series of John Frankenheimer television dramas gifted by the director personally, and Japanese 70s superhero series Spectreman on VHS in its entirety which is extremely rare. Latsios mused about Scarecrow being a candy store of sorts for film buffs, and I can attest from first-hand experience, it is absolutely a magical labyrinth full of motion picture treasures, including a well-curated selection of movie soundtracks you can purchase on vinyl. Films are expertly categorized not only by genres, but also by region of origin, director, and a dizzying array of sub-categories with intriguing classifications such as “Little Bastards” (anything small wanting to kill you), “Rock Hell” (heavy metal themed horror films), as well as both a “Women in Prison” and “Men in Prison” sections. Scarecrow has something for everyone. Even the extensive XXX section is broken down with care including by director.

As of this writing, the now non-profit is turning 30 and is in the midst of a fundraising campaign to help keep them in business for the long haul. Trust me when I say anything helps, including sharing this post to spread the word. Right now your financial contributions will be doubled thanks to a recent $25K donation from a generous Scarecrow supporter. I’ve posted photos of the store as well as some neat artifacts from Scarecrow’s past including a rare video that hasn’t been seen since the early 90s (and only then if you were watching the tube in Seattle), which drives home the importance of keeping Scarecrow, and other champions of pop culture like them, around.
 
Much more after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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06.05.2018
07:05 am
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A bloody good time: The weird 1979 supernatural horror film, ‘The Queen of Black Magic’
06.01.2018
09:00 am
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DVD
 
Last November, we told you about the bonkers Indonesian supernatural horror flick, Mystics in Bali (1981). Well, dear readers, we’ve found the perfect companion film for you all to enjoy. We think you’ll agree that this one is a bloody good time.

Like the aforementioned film, The Queen of Black Magic (1979) is an Indonesian horror picture that deals with the supernatural, and features fantastic, often grotesque imagery. Both movies are filled with atmospheric shots, which are often pleasingly colorful.
 
Moon
 
The Queen of Black Magic concerns a young woman, Murni, who is believed to have sabotaged her former boyfriend’s wedding using witchcraft. Though she has no such power, her ex rounds up some of his friends, who kidnap Murni and throw her over a cliff. But Murni survives the ordeal, and will soon become what she was thought to be—a witch—so she can exact her revenge.
 
Training
 
The actress known simply as Suzzanna is great in the lead role of Murni. The character is initially reluctant to engage in the dark arts, but once she becomes “the Queen of Black Magic,” she delights in her power to slay her enemies, which Suzzanna conveys with understated zeal.
 
Murni
 
There’s even some overlap in casting with Mystics in Bali, as W. D. Mochtar—he plays the hermit who trains Murni to be a witch—appears in both pictures.
 
Hermit
 
The men who tried to kill Murni are all offed by her in unique fashions. In the first of these death, Murni makes the guy’s skins bubble and then burst, with blood spraying all over the place—truly gnarly stuff!
 
Bubble
 
There’s lots of blood-spilling in other scenes, too, though those aren’t the grossest parts, if you can believe it. Okay, close your eyes:
 
Gross
 
The film is not perfect by any means. It has its share of plot holes and unintended comedy, but, really, that only adds to the fun.
 
Black Magic
 
The Queen of Black Magic was one of the first Asian horror movies to be distributed in the States on home video. Its shocking moments helped earn the film a cult following, though it’s less known today than Mystics in Bali.

More after the jump…

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Posted by Bart Bealmear
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06.01.2018
09:00 am
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