Sunday, April 29, 2012

Daily poster: The Haunted Palace.


The Haunted Palace.
Roger Corman's film version of H.P. Lovecraft's novella, The Case of Charles Dexter Ward. Distribution company, AIP, changed the name of the film to The Haunted Palace to fit the film into Corman's series of Edgar Allan Poe films. The only relation the film has to Poe's poem is the title and a few lines of voice over at the end of the film.

The Haunted Palace is Corman at his finest. The sets are clever and grand. The script is well written (I've heard that a young Francis Ford Coppola actually had a stab at cleaning up the dialog.) The acting is a bit punchy and melodramatic, but all right. Vincent Price is enchanting. I'm a huge sucker for Lon Chaney Jr. too. I just want to hug him; he makes me feel so sad. The villagers are fantastic. Leo Gordon is intense and raving. Big eyed Elisha Cook Jr. fosters the fear that Leo Gordon turns to hatred. A terrific group of actors.

The film is slow. This would be a prime candidate for a remake. Liam Neeson in the Price role.
I watched the film on DVD recently. I had only seen an old, crappy VHS of the film. On the DVD, the actor's makeup looks horrible. Grey-green against the actors flesh hued necks. Does not look good.

If you're an H.P. Lovecraft whore, like me, you have to see the film. Just to hear someone say Cthulhu and Yog-Sothoth in a film made in 1963 is thrilling.

Poster courtesy of Wrong Side of the Art.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

In Bed With Invader.

Shot in winter 2011, this movie invite you to spend one night in Paris with the street artist Invader.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Speaking of Rollins.

Someone sent this to me a while back. It hits.

Daily poster: Son of Frankenstein.



Son of Frankenstein.
Kharis used to be my favorite Universal monster. In recent years, he has been replaced by the flute playing, sadistic, sociopath, Ygor. I believe Ygor is Bela Lugosi's finest role and the character deserves to rank up there with The Monster, Dracula, The Wolf Man, and all the other classic Universal monsters.
This poster is striking. Karloff's face is beautifully rendered and while the girl is straight out of some other film, she adds a certain amount of peril and excitement to the poster. Karloff's emotionless mug isn't exactly thrilling.



Vince sent me this funny email recently regarding Son of Frankenstein:
A couple of weeks ago I watched Son of Frankenstein on Turner Classic Movies. Now an interesting criticism of that movie came from writer Tom Weaver in an article he did on the Universal Frankenstein series in one of my magazines. He says that director Rowland V. Lee screws up the Monster's height, making him appear shorter than Wolf Frankenstein and Ygor. I saw for myself this isn't entirely true. He certainly isn't the shortest of the three. BUT Wolf IS the same height and Ygor is real close! Yet in all the other films, the Monster is easily a full head to a head and shoulder taller than anyone else.
What's screwy too is that the Monster is bulkier here than in any other film. He may not be fat but he sure looks like he has eaten both sides of the menu. I guess this is the reason Peter refers to him as a giant! At least in the sequel, The Ghost of Frankenstein, the Monster really does appear to be a giant.
And yes, I checked, Boris Karloff was wearing his big Monster boots and Basil Rathbone was still able to look him in the eye. For shame!
Plus in this ponderous (for Universal) horror96-minute picture, the Monster doesn't get off his rear until an hour into the movie. All I can say is Thank God for Ygor! Lugosi saves this movie just liked he saved Dracula.


Hahhahah, the pictures don't lie, The Monster looks a bit wee. I also completely agree with Vince that The Monster is oafy looking in Son of Frankenstein and like so many of the mid to late Universal monster movies, the monsters hardly get any damn action. Monsters are monsters through their actions, not through people talking about them being monsters!
Ah well, it's a decent outing, and like Vince and I both mentioned, Lugosi's performance as Ygor twists the wrist into giving Son of Frankenstein a thumbs up.


Poster courtesy of Wrong Side of the Art.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Texting during films, yeah, it's cool.


 
In a move that The Onion could not make up, a recent panel on film industry issues debated the concept of allowing theater patrons to text while watching a film. Billy Donnelly has a mind-bending, furiosity-inducing article over on Ain't it Cool News, HERE.
Sony Pictures, Regal Entertainment, and IMAX are all mentioned as endorsing the idea. Donnelly writes that the majority of those in attendance were keen on letting audience members text. The only real dissent was from Tim League of The Alamo Drafthouse chain of theaters. The topic came up as a possible way to woo young folks into theaters. Everyone involved seems to wax nostalgic for the old days, but they seem to forget the concept of reasonable ticket and snack prices for young people and the thing that really drove us to the theater, double features.
As theaters make the unfortunate move to digital projection, studios are saving boatloads of money on printing and shipping 35mm prints. Will the rental of films become cheaper for theaters? Once the hump of re-equiping is paid for, they should. But I think we know better.
Donnelly's article is well written and appropriately passionate. I love his take on IMAX's reaction to the new idea:
However, leave it to Greg Foster from IMAX to be the icing on the cake. His 17-year-old son always has his phone on him... I guess that makes him special from the rest of the population that also does, but Foster's theory on the matter is this: "We want them to pay $12 to $14 to come into an auditorium and watch a movie. But they’ve become accustomed to controlling their own existence.” He also believes they may “feel a little handcuffed" by not being able to use their phones during a movie. Good!! They're supposed to feel handcuffed. It's a rule that's been established for the greater good for the greatest number of people... not just for your kid. I guess people might feel a little handcuffed by their ability to just walk into a bank and take whatever money they want, too, regardless of whether or not it belongs to them, but guess what? That's the rule, unless you want to take the chance of winding up in handcuffs. Maybe it's my abundance of common sense, but I'm not seeing why anyone would want to cater to this particular crowd, when the majority of people who do follow the rules on not using your cell phone during a movie also have $12 to $14 they're willing to pay for a few hours of entertainment.

Rollins interviews V. Vale.


"Your curiosity is you."

V. Vale is one of my heroes. I honestly don't know much about the man, but I respect the hell out of his work. He created Search and Destroy, the bay area's grandaddy of punk 'zines in 1977. The 'zine was started while Vale worked at City Lights, with seed money from Allen Ginsburg and City Lights founder, Lawrence Ferlinghetti.

Vale later went on to write and publish the amazing RE/Search line of books.  

RE/Search #10 Incredibly Strange Films was my bible as a teenager. It is a book of interviews with independent filmmakers and and handful of essays on independent cinema. For me, it created an entire pantheon of filmmakers that I had never heard of, and have spent my life learning about. Mikels, Robins, Steckler, Lewis, Friedman, Sarno, on and on. Life changing stuff. I got V. Vale to autograph my copy a couple of years ago and he said, 'Wow, I've never been asked to sign one of these books. You've got a real rarity there.'   

V. Vale is a real inspiration to me. Stay curious. I'm glad I got to tell him to his face how important his work is to me.

I like Henry Rollins, but if you hate him, you'll probably hate this interview. He talks a lot.
V. Vale starts out a bit shy, but he eventually rips it up. Stick with it.

Sadako throws out first pitch.

WTF! Japanese culture never ceases to yank the crap from mine internals.

Sadako from Ringu (the original, Japanes, version of the film, The Ring) threw out the first pitch in this baseball game. Uh, all right.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Interrrogation: Happiness Bastard.

Happinessbastard1

I'm pretty picky when it comes to designer toys. Happiness Bastard's Pewkies kicked me in the groin with delight. Kewpie dolls mixed with Universal horror icons; what could be sweeter?

Unfortunately, Happines Bastard's toy runs are super duper small and he sells out quickly. I'll do my best to post when the new Pewkie colorways hit his shop.

Thanks to Happiness Bastard for taking the time to answer my questions.

Happinessbastard2
1. Who or what is Happiness Bastard? Are you a squad of hearty toy-making soldiers or a single badass? Where is your HQ?
Happiness Bastard is me, Bernhardt, just Bernhardt like Prince or Cher.  I chose the name because I saw it as the title of some old pulp paperback and love the thoughts is conjured up, I also think it may have been the name of the ultraman hero on this show called Shin Chan (I think that's the name).  I made my first toy (Shedorah) when I moved to Louisville Kentucky about 2 years ago.  It had been in the works for awhile but I was too broke to pull it off until I got settle in Louisville.

2. Talk about the roto-casting process. What materials do you use? Was it hard to learn or are you a roto-casting savant?
Roto Casting is a great process, it allows you to use alot less material than a solid cast would and eliminates the need for a vacuum pot.  The final product is a hollow cast piece that is pretty close to something that you get produced in a factory.  I spent at least one solid year studying casting in general, I poured over the mold making handbook on lunch breaks at a string of jobs I hated, and would stay up all night planning in my mind a good way to execute a great mold.  I found that Smooth on made a starter kit which was a huge help.  For about $80 dollars you get all you need to pull off a decent silicone mold, I had too buy 2 because I tend to think big (Shedorah is about the size of a bowling pin).  The resin I use is made specifically for rotocasting because it gels and then hardens, I am starting to experiment with other types and so far the results are great.

I don't think it was hard to learn the process, but I studied and planned and tried to really have the bugs hammered out in mind before I began.  Like anything you learn as you go, I still make mistakes and will always be my worse critic.  Either way it always ends with me having a cool new piece of plastic.

Happinessbastard3
3. Who are your toy/art influences?
So many!!!!  I really love bootlegs and old dimestore toys.  The shabby and random paint jobs and mismatched colors and generic packaging are a huge inspiration for what I do.  The Pewkies were actually inspired by an old toy called Monster-niks, they are basically a troll doll with the head of Frankensten, Wolfman, and King Kong.  I had always wanted to do something with the soakies and I had wanted to make kewpies with gross heads so it just came together that way.  I am big on Kaiju, love the bizarre old ultraman characters and the like.  

As far as art goes the list is long and varied, I have always been a fan of Charles Burns, I would love to produce something like the teenage plague figure he did years ago.  I also really like Archer Prewitt's  Sof' Boy stuff, and definitely am inspired by the packaging and goodies he made up to go with it.  The prints I make, I like to think are half Gilbert and George and half Famous Monsters of Filmland.  I like to gravitate towards things with bright colors and dark subject matters, anything between garbage pail kids to Ivan Albrecht.  I see and consume so much that it is hard for me to settle on one particular. I have new favorites everyday. 

4. Can you talk about your 4" Vagina Mary? Who was the model? It really is a thing of beauty. The marbling is fantastic as well.
With the Mary there isn't much to say, its a found piece that I recast and has sort of took off.  The original is plaster with metalic paint, I can't find another one anywhere or any info on the original, its too good not to be put out there.  I am really happy how the marbled ones turned out, I think the marbling matches its texture very well.  I have thought about making them scented also but that may be too much.  
Happinessbastard4
5. Universal monsters, talk about them.
I think the universal monsters are almost a gateway drug for counter culture.  They have been around forever as far as our generation is concerned, my grandmother is almost as old as Frankenstein.  They are fairly accessable and from there god only knows how far a horror kid can grow and in what direction.  

One of my favorite toys as a kid were the 4" Remco universal monster figures and I pined for the whole set of aurora monster models.  The soakies seem to be the next logical step for that collection.  I would really love to do a Dracula soaky head based on the Remco figure, Dracula isn't really my cup of tea but that figure has a great expression.

The old toys were simpler and much cooler than the highly detailed figures they put out today. They were fun and had imagination, not to mention marketing was not as sophisticated as it is now.  Todays toys are so protective, They wouldn't release a bubble bath bottle with a wolfman dripping blood from his mouth for a kid to have at bath time and are based on movie or TV show and then are gone as soon as the movie is gone or the show is off the air.  The Universal Monster toys didn't really start happening until long after the movie was out of the theater and its still going strong today for kids and adults alike.

6. What is your favorite possession?
I have alot of really great stuff, art, toys, etc., I love it all, but my favorite thing to come home to is my dog Belvedere.  He is awesome!
Happinessbastard5
7. What is the next project for Happiness Bastard?
My head is always full of ideas, right now there are some new colorways in the works for the pewkies, I am really excited about the frighting lighting set.  Also I have some new Pewkie heads in the works that are based on a series of cut out prints I did last Halloween that should fit well with the original sets, as well I am dying to make a gorilla head to fit on them.  I did do a set of small one inch Pewkies as junk mold that I may release.  As well looking for some artists to collaborate with for some painted versions and packaging.  I am also working on a figure called fright wig based on an old skull pencill sharpener I have and love.

VHS covers of gold.


 
Can you remember walking through the dusty shelves of your local video rental shop? All the wonderful covers staring at you, begging you to take them home. Collecting old VHS tapes and covers has a pretty solid undeground (as much as anything can be "underground") hobby for the last several years.
I walk along the fence of VHS collecting. I love old VHS cover art, it feels like home. But, it would take a lot of space and some of the more beautiful tapes are hella expensive.
VHSCollector.com just published their Top 16 Most Valuable U.S. Horror VHS'. Here is PART 1 and here is PART 2.



A lot of the choices fall into the so-bad-they're-good category for me. The reasons for each tapes value is different. An uncut edition of the film; wonderful or horrible artwork; extremely limited print run; an absolutely, must be seen to be believed, horrible film. In nearly all cases supply and demand dictate the collectibility of the tape. Extreme graphic violence on the cover also plays a strong part. VHSCollector.com writes, "The rule of thumb is if it shocked renters at the video store, its prices are sure to shock on eBay."
A really fun and informative pair of articles.



Sunday, April 22, 2012

Happy birthday, Rondo Hatton.



Rondo Hatton was born on April 22, 1894. Rondo's parents were both teachers.
Rumor has it that Rondo was voted handsomest boy at Hillsborough High School. In the picture below, Rondo looks handsome enough. It notes that his nickname was "Krum." I also love the quote from Julius Caesar, "Yon Cassius hath a lean and hungry look; Such men are dangerous." I can't see how it fits in any way. Perhaps Rondo picked it. If not, it seems mean.
Rondo was also a punter for the football team.


Rondo worked as a reporter after high school. He then served in the Army during World War I. After the war, while Rondo was working again as a reporter his face began to slowly swell up. He was diagnosed with acromegaly.
Acromegaly is associated with gigantism; the anterior pituitary gland produces an excess of growth hormone. Soft tissues in the face grow, feet and hands grow, the skull can sometimes grow. Soft tissue in some internal organs may grow. The soft tissues of Rondo's vocal chords grew, creating a deeper voice. The disease required him to get extensive surgery on his teeth and at one point his cheekbones were replaced with metal braces.
Even with all of the horriblenes acromegaly delivered to him, Rondo was usually very upbeat. He once said, "In a veteran's hospital, you will see so many guys so much worse off than you are that.. well, if there's anything left in you, you quit feeling sorry for yourself."


In 1930, a Hollywood director, Henry King, spotted Rondo while he was working as a reporter and hired him. Rondo appeared in two films and then went back to reporting.
Rondo married a woman named May, who, ironically had previously been in an extremely unhappy marriage with a dashing young man. Within a few years, Rondo's condition got much worse. The bones in his feet deteriorated so bad, he couldn't walk for a short time. He needed money and decided to move to Hollywood to pursue acting full time. With his beautiful mug, Rondo quickly secured work and paid for braces.
Rondo acted in more than a dozen films, mostly uncredited. In 1944 he played The Hoxton Creeper in the Sherlock Holmes film, The Pearl of Death, and began making a name for himself.
My buddy Vince did a lot of research for this article. He adds, "Even in his supporting roles in films like Jungle Captive and The Spider Woman Strikes Back, Hatton received exploitational billing on the movie posters as Moloch the Brute and Mario the Monster Man."
Rondo became a star when he stepped into the role of The Creeper in Universal's horror film, House of Horrors. Universal had the idea that The Creeper would be their next famous monster, advertising him as the first monster to not need makeup.
The 'no makeup' slogan was true. However, Universal makeup artist, Jack Pierce, did build up Rondo's slim shoulders with stocky, padding for The Creeper role.
The Creeper's second outing was The Brute Man. Rondo really had problems with his dialog at this point. Some people believe the acromegaly was affecting his brain. His co-star in The Brute Man, Jane Adams said, "His mentality was just-average. He had an awful time remembering his lines."
Unfortunately, shortly after Universal filmed The Brute Man, Rondo died. It was heart problems brought on by the acromegaly.
Universal had a change in management and direction in 1945. They cut out their B-Picture productions and sold off their films which ran under 70 minutes. A company called PRC released The Brute Man eight months after Rondo died, in 1946.
Here is the entire film. The quality is pretty darn good, but watch it on YouTube in a larger size.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Post Apocalyptic Bart Simpson.


 

Daily poster: Dawn of the Dead.


Dawn of the Dead.
Happy 4-20!

When some people think of 4-20 they think of happy things, like getting lobster eye stoned. Some people think of horrible things like the Columbine massacre or Hitler's birthday. Me? I think of Dawn of the Dead.

The film opened on April 20, 1979 in the United States. It had opened eight months earlier on September 2, 1978 in Italy, under the name Zombies. The Italian version of the film is ten minutes shorter and has a few different music cues.

Dawn of the Dead (hereafter, DoD) is my favorite zombie film. It barely makes the helicopter blade to the top of the head over Night of the Living Dead. The remake of Dawn of the Dead is my third favorite. Tom Savini did the makeup effects on DoD and wrote about it in his masterpiece of non-fiction, Grande Illusions. Like all of the films in that book, I read about DoD, studied the makeup effects, and knew just about every act of violence, well before I was able to see the film. When I was old enough to see it, I was gleefully gutted. The film is a masterpiece of horror cinema.
The story follows two employees of a local Philadelphia television station and two Philadelphia SWAT cops in their effort to survive a zombie apocalypse. The group finds a newfangled indoor shopping mall and sets up camp inside. They do pretty well securing the location until a group of chaos injected bikers screw up everything.

The first third of the film sets a dark tone. Humanity can beat this if we would only stop screwing around and focus on the issue. Some heavy things happen, but the first act ends with some light.
The second act adds kindling and is uncomfortably light in tone. The group of four are making a go of it all. They are managing to keep control of their surroundings. The kindling catches fire.
In the last act, however, humanity catches up with the group's good intentions. Moments of impetuousness turn disastrous, infighting, cockiness, and greed take a boot and stomp out the fire. The end of the film burns like a match in the wind.

Director, George Romero's style is finely clunky. The 70's color palettes and realistic design add a foreign sort of feel. The film is not a slick Hollywood production, the costumes and sets feel real. They probably were. The film also has those 1970's independent film moments of randomness that create a realistic, chaotic mood. Dialog overlaps. Characters sometimes do things that are seemingly random or sudden. They don't talk about everything before they do it. A goofy smile, an explosive emotion (both positive and negative,) unexpected choices. All these elements make DoD endlessly re-watchable and fresh.

And the mall. There's just something about having run over a whole mall, that appeals to the kid in a person. Being where you're not supposed to be, when you're not supposed to be there. When I'm feeling dark, the lighter scenes in DoD almost bother me. But, the teenage thoughts of having a mall of zombies to hack up in relative safety brings me back and makes me feel warm and cozy.
It may sound sick and a bit too timely, but taking over a zombie infested mall with my friends and a bunch of guns is my Thomas Kincaide painting.

There are a million little anecdotes about the film: The brightness of Savini's blood recipe; the alternate ending; the actual screams of a zombie victim when the zombie actor bit too far on a makeup appliance; how they shot the film at night while the mall was open during the day; Italian director Dario Argento sequestered Romero away in Italy, while Romero wrote the script; the kid zombies in the film do not shamble. They RUN!; the film was released in the U.S unrated as the MPAA had given it an X. These anecdotes are interesting, but superfluous. The DVD sets all have "making of" features and endless amounts of extra material, but like Night of the Living Dead, the films stand on their own. Looking behind the curtain doesn't necessarily add value.

"When there is no more room in Hell, the dead will walk the Earth." Good times.




Thursday, April 19, 2012

Untitled

Merzphysics
Old school noise fans listen up (all six of you.)

Noise master, Merzbow, is releasing a 10-CD set of recordings from the acoustic, pedal produced era of 1994. The set comes out on April 25th and can be purchase from youth-inc or on merzbow.net.

Here's the Japanese blurb processed through Google Translate:

BOX Disc 10 of this time, with a focus on sound in 1994, which focuses on Pure noise before the introduction of electronic musical instruments such as synthesizers, playing style with a sense of speed was linked with such as grind core has been characterized. The sound source that caused the mastering from the cassette was recorded all live, it is all unreleased. Although the release of a collection of 12 CD set recording of ambient style of the early 1990s called "Merzbient" two years ago, this work is that of the character also say this sequel.

Merzbow (Merzbow): from the year 1979 Merzbow - start an ongoing musical activity (Merzbow). Keiji Haino, as well as escape from, say pioneer is the presence of (japa noise) noise music scene in Japan. As musical features, other noise, whereas those taking advantage of improvisation, Merzbow is oriented toward the noise of industrial machinery in the cold synthesizers and texture, and inorganic electronic sound by sound. In the year 2000, will be released, such as CD50-Disc label in Australia than the noise, noise sound that is violent is highly regarded in Europe and the United States, have always attracted attention. Respect has attracted support from many artists overseas thick, beginning with Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth.

Merzphysics2

A Space Time! Adventure told on your torso.


 
Space Time! is an adventure story never really told, but highlighted in a series of shirts, produced by Threadless. Jeffrey Brown created  and wrote the Space Time! adventures. Artists, Paul Hornschemeier, Jeff Lemire and Anders Nilsen (who created one of my favorite graphic novels, Dogs and Water. I'll review it here, someday) drew the stories to life. Check them out HERE.
Space Time! is the fifth volume in Threadless' Comics on Shirts series. All of the series' can be seen HERE.
Meet the Characters:
Commander Konstantinov: The male human mission commander
Commander Nancy: The female human mission commander
Txlolgt: A small highly intelligent alien who serves as the ship's engineer and mechanic
Fein: a hermaphroditic alien scientist
Grof: A huge furry alien who acts as the team's muscle and heavy lifter
HowbyBowby: A young alien prodigy who leads the team's research projects
ST-7: A robot who records the mission and takes on tasks too dangerous for biological team members
Tee 1: Across Space-Time by Jeffrey Brown
The first issue of Space-Time! established the crew and their mission, ending with them boarding their ship which would launch from earth's moon. Featuring members from most of the intelligent life forms across the milky way, the crew's mission is to travel to and explore the andromeda galaxy.
Front: The team of explorers walk across the boarding gantry to the ship, waving and smiling. Each is highlighted with a close-up shot.
The excitement is tangible as the best scientists from across the milky way begin their historic mission - to travel to another galaxy!
Back: As the team approaches the ship they seem unclear how to open the door to board.
Commander Konstantinov: So we just. Um.
St-7: Here we go.
Txlolgt: Don't put pressure on yourself, that makes it worse.
Commander Nancy: Maybe we're supposed to wait...?
St-7(raising arms): This is going to be great.
Grof scratches his head.




Wednesday, April 18, 2012

PEWKIES!!!




I had never heard of Happiness Bastard before I read about them on ToysREvil today. Mix the mugs of Universal Soaky Monsters with the body of an ever-hateable Kewpie Doll and you get the incredible Pewkie.
The Happiness Bastard store lists them as "Coming Soon" for $25 each. However, ToysREvil posted this press release today:
PRESS: New from Happiness Bastard comes the Pewkie! He has been hard at work in his lab creating these. Each one is roto-casted by hand. These will be available as a set (Creature, Frankenstein, Mummy, and Wolfman) for $100 on Saturday (4/21) via the Happiness Bastard store @ 11:00 am EST. Each set will come blind bagged, so you will not know what color combinations that you will get until they arrive. Don't worry they are all awesome! Only a few sets are going to be avaialble so get yours before they are gone!
Happiness Bastard also have a Mummy soaky recast that looks like George Bush Sr. and a hilariously beautiful 4" Vagina Mary piece.

Alan Moore talks hard.

Alan Moore interviews can get sort of repetitive. He is usually asked the same two or three questions. This interview is all about the "Hard Talk" so Moore is pressed a bit more on his opinions.
Unlike most talking heads, Moore also steps a bit back from statements he has made in the past, "I'm obviously in quite a bad mood when I'm saying things like that." He is more human than most people on television.
Aside from the basics, the interview covers his pornographic tale, Lost Girls. He talks a bit about the thuggish history of the major comic book publishers in America. Hard to argue with Mr. Moore. The V for Vendetta mask and its link with Anonymous.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

7th Annual Secret Film Film Festival.


 
My wife and I just got back from the 2012 Secret Film Festival at the Del Mar Theater. This year had another fine selection of soon-to-be released films.
The festival itself is apparently not a secret to the locals, like last year, it was sold out. The real secret is that the line up of films is unknown. The host gives a few spare details just before the projector rolls.
In some cases, a second feature starts upstairs, five minutes after the main feature. The festival runs from midnight until noon.
Before the festival a show of hands revealed that only one person in the audience had been at all seven Secret Film Festivals (I guess it was called something different years ago.)
The only negative that I found at the festival was that vocal pockets of the audience complained loudly at having to watch so many films with subtitles. I'm not sure what they expected, but I straight up heard complaints at having to read, at least a half dozen times. Some complaints bordered on racism. "I don't speak foreign!" one fuckface yelled.
If you read this and are thinking about going to The Secret Film Festival, if you don't like subtitled films, stay home!

There were 6.1 films downstairs and 2 separate films upstairs. The links embedded in the titles should take you to the respective film's trailer on YouTube.
  • God Bless America - Falling Down meets Super. Just be nice and you won't be killed. Bobcat Goldthwait directed and Joel Murray stars as a guy brought to the edge. It is a fantastic film. Mean and wonderful. Joel Murray's acting is solid. The film doesn't get hung up on technicalities and police work. It just follows a pair of spree killers trying to save the world. Good stuff.
  • Pac-Man - This was the .1 film. A short film about scientists making a Pac-Man game/simulation/real life digitial version. It was cute. Click on the link to watch the short.
  • Morgan Spurlock's San Diego Comic-Con documentary - I'm too lazy to look up the actual title. It's what you would expect.
    If you're interested in this kind of a thing, just go to an actual comic, anime, GI Joe, Star Trek, whatever con. You don't need rich and famous people telling you how to feel. If you're not interested in this kind of thing, you won't go see this movie anyway. A perfectly good waste of time.
    Penumbra - This played upstairs and I did not see it. A gentleman in front of us said, "So bad, dude, so bad." He ended up putting down all the other films, hated foreign films, and made racist comments about showing English only films (he's not the one who made the "I don't speak foreign!" remark.) So, I have no idea about this one.
  • Juan of the Dead - A Cuban zombie/comedy. Started out very unfunny, but picked up quickly. The characters are dimensional and super well conceived. Juan is not dumb, he is a smart rascal (there is that latino hero-type again, I've written about it before, I'm too tired to look it up.) There is an amazing scene with Juan and his best friend sitting on a rooftop waiting for the sun to rise. Just hilarious. It's a great mix of lowbrow and smart.
    Beyond the Black Rainbow - I have wanted to see this film for months but it didn't work out. I'm a little bummed that I didn't get to see it. Afterwards, whenever the host mentioned the title, everyone booed, so it's probably a great film.
  • Sound of Noise - This Swedish film was a shocker. It should never have been made, it's just slightly off beat. It's not Lynchian weird. It's not crazy. It's not dark or strangely upbeat. It's not surrealistic or abstract. A tone deaf cop from a family of famous musician/conductors gets on the trail of a group of criminal, avant garde musicians. They conduct large scale crimes in order to create percussive music. It's a blast. The film is smart, a touch confusing, and fun. Like I said, it's not normal and it's not crazy, it's just odd enough to make you do a second take at what you're seeing. It will get looked over, but I recommend it.
    Kill List - I didn't get to see this showing of it. Before you get too sad, read on.
  • The Raid - My dear friend, Derrick, has been on about this film for the last few years. He was waaay ahead of the curve on this one. That being said, I didn't watch it. HA.
    The film actually came out to local theaters today, a week early, so I will see it, I just didn't see it here. Instead, the programmer asked if anyone wanted to see anything else upstairs since The Raid was released a week early and some people had already seen it. We voted for....
    Kill List - Oh yeah, baby, I finally got to see it. Matt did a write up about this fine film HERE. Go read it.
    This was my favorite film of the fest. It's a hard one to explain without ruining it, but let's just say it builds and builds and builds. What a fine film. The music cues are fantastic. Oftentimes they mislead and build inappropriately. The story is confusing and debatable, but I have it mostly figured out for myself, and that is fine. It is super slow, then super violent, then super confusing. In other words, super duper. Bring your strong stomach and watch it.
  • Goon - What was left of the crowd (about 75%. Less people made it through than last year) met up in the main theater for the final film. The host said, "It's an easy movie." It was. I never would have seen Goon myself. It's a hockey film about a horrible player, who can barely skate, but packs a mean punch. The film is based on a true story and there are even clips of the real fella during the end credits.
    Goon is really good. The script is super well written with awesome dialog. You will laugh and relate all the way through this thing. Seann William Scott is fantastic. He is wound way down for the role and he pulls off this team-first, honest, slow, guy, just amazingly. The film is worth seeing just for the dialog. I'm not into hockey, but I didn't feel like a mark. I got it. Worth your time.
After the films there was a raffle. We didn't win anything and that was all right. We did see local artist Frank Trueba and Lauren from Marini's there.
Thus ends another Santa Cruz Secret Film Festival. Thanks to the Del Mar and our host, Scott. They did a fantastic job. I can't wait until next year.




Friday, April 13, 2012

Daily poster: Friday the 13th part 4.


 
Friday the 13th part 4. The Final Chapter.
Happy Friday the 13th!
Not sure why the image is reversed, Jason took an axe to the left side of his melon at the end of Part 3. It is a fine slasher poster nonetheless. Simple, to the point, gratuitous.
Part 4 is my favorite film in the franchise. The teens are mostly interesting. The Jarvis family is interesting. Tommy Jarvis, played by Corey Feldman, is actually pretty likeable. Jason is still a human, monster, killing machine. This was touted as the final in the series, and for a couple of years, it was. When Jason comes back from his "death" in this film, it is through lightening and hate magics. The Jason in Part 4 is still something of a man.
Goremaster Tom Savini came back to provide special effects. He created Jason in Part 1 and got to "kill" him in this one. Savini was on the top of the world at this point. I remember watching him on David Letterman with the Jason head during promotion for this film. The kills in the movie are slasher film gold. There is a fantastic throat slashing near the beginning. Jason's death is fabulously way over the top gory for the franchise and time period.
The film opened on April 13, 1984.


Here is Tom Savini's appearance on David Letterman. Major spoiler, though. It shows Jason's face and the nature of his "death" at the end of Part 4.



Poster courtesy of Wrong Side of the Art.

Plastic Galaxy.


Plastic Galaxy: The Story of Star Wars Toys SNEAK PEEK TEASER FOOTAGE! from Plastic Galaxy on Vimeo.

When Star Wars landed in the theaters in 1977, it introduced audiences to a galaxy filled with heroes and villains, robots and space ships, and a dizzying variety of alien life. But when the lights came up, they all disappeared…

Unless you had the toys. In which case, the adventure never needed to end.

Plastic Galaxy is a documentary about those toys.

They raised moolah on Kickstarter and are hard at work finishing up their documentary.

I remember leaving the theater in 1978 and seeing a poster for the action figures and thinking. "Oh my God, there's toys."

With hundreds of toys and products yanking on kids to get their attention today, it is hard for people to realize just how integrating into our lives Star Wars was.
We woke up in our Star Wars Underoos, in our beds with Star Wars sheets and pillowcases, covered with Star Wars blankets and Star Wars plush toys. We ate our Star Wars cereal and brushed our teeth with our Star Wars toothbrush and dressed in our Star Wars shirts. We grabbed our Star Wars backpacks with our Star Wars pencils and folders and Star Wars lunchboxes. We went to school and played Star Wars every recess. We didn't have the attention span of goldfish, we did this for YEARS. (I didn't mention the Star Wars erasers, soap, trading cards, plastic heads filled with candies, Halloween costumes, wood that our dad painted to look like light sabers, or the hundreds of damn toys. Everything I'm mentioning I had and we were a middle-class family.)

I don't know if the documentary will capture this or if they are focused on the Kenner toys.

Their website is HERE.

Graham's Number will literally turn your head into a black hole.

Numberphile manages to round up some pretty interesting and enthusiastic folks to talk about mathematics. If you like this video, check out 3 is everywhere and 666. Heck, check out all their videos. Math is not my cup of tea and I've watched about a dozen of them with great interest.

 

(thanks to lampcommander on Whitechapel for turning me on to this series.)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Moneyballing mixed martial arts.


 
The Boston Globe has an interesting article on the Moneyball-ization of mixed martial arts fighters. The article is HERE.
The movement from Martial Arts to Martial Sciences strikes me in a negative way. It knocks at tradition and attempts to explain something we don't necessarily want explained. We were fine, for thirty years, not knowing that mitichlorian levels determined a person's ability to control The Force.
The article hits back at these base emotions:
...when people worry about the effects of quantification, they’re worrying about something that has already happened. Nineteen years ago, at the dawn of the sport, matches only ended when one fighter knocked the other one out or forced him to submit. Today most fights end with a state-appointed judge’s decision and a hug in the middle of the ring.
Fighters are not really fighting to win a fight. They are fighting to win a UFC (or other company) sponsored, state sanctioned, hand to hand contest.
To do this, fighters cross train in striking, grappling, and conditioning. As much as some fans want them to be two dimensional, sole representations of a particular discipline, it cannot be the case anymore. Fighters need to score points.
In a hundred years, when MMA has become the same as professional wrestling was in the 1960's, someone will come along and want to see a 600 pound ninja fight a 'roided out kenpo kung fu expert.

Daily poster: Fritz the Cat.


Fritz the Cat.
Happy 40th birthday to Fritz the Cat. The film opened on April 12, 1972.
The trailer has drawn nudity, animated fornication, and the n-word.



Poster courtesy of Wrong Side of the Art.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Weapons of war.

Weaponsofwar
Found this in an old Sgt. Fury comic from the silver age.

I would have done a back flip to find this in a comic as a kid. I spent hours drawing people's faces and guns. I guess I still do.

Sitting in Silence with Johnny Depp.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Matt Groening talks about the real Springfield.

Screenhunter_01_apr
Smithsonian.com has a fantastic interview with Simpsons creator, Matt Groening, HERE.

The interview will hit the serious press soon, as Groening talks about the location of the real Springfield.

OK, why do the Simpsons live in a town called Springfield? Isn’t that a little generic?
Springfield was named after Springfield, Oregon. The only reason is that when I was a kid, the TV show “Father Knows Best” took place in the town of Springfield, and I was thrilled because I imagined that it was the town next to Portland, my hometown. When I grew up, I realized it was just a fictitious name. I also figured out that Springfield was one of the most common names for a city in the U.S. In anticipation of the success of the show, I thought, “This will be cool; everyone will think it’s their Springfield.” And they do.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Talkboy - Extended commercial.

Warning: There will be blood.

Invisible headed apes.

Race over to the Monsterhero shop (HERE) and snag one of these $75 Headless Ape figures. They are the coolest toys I've seen this year.
They came out on Saturday and some of them apes are sold. They also had a handful of the bloody heads pictured above, but they are all sold out.
Here's a wee section of their press release:
They utilize a special double resin pour and each is unique (1 male and 1 female for each blood color). These guys will be $75 each with one or two surprises randomly showing up on the shop.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Leatherface Loves Leia.


 
Leatherface Loves Leia.
Acrylic on paper in wooden frame. 8"x5"

An Infinite Comic Book of Musical Greatness.


 
The first Kickstarter project that I pledged money to was the production of Daniel Johnston's Space Ducks graphic novel. I finally got my grubby mitts on the book last week. It is a thing of beauty. There is a companion iOS app which I will download tonight.
In their first outing, the Space Ducks battle Satan in a surrealistic epic. If you don't know Daniel Johnston and/or you don't appreciate outsider, simplistic art, this isn't for you. It is raw and crudely hilarious. The ducks murder a lot of demons and party hard with hotties and 7-Up.
Here's a bit from the press release:
SPACE DUCKS: AN INFINITE COMIC BOOK OF MUSICAL GREATNESS is Johnston’s debut graphic novel. Johnston, a long-time and dedicated fan of comic books, realizes his life-long dream of being a comic book artist with this release.
SPACE DUCKS is more than just a graphic novel, it’s a one-of-a-kind interactive comic book experience, complimented by the Space Ducks album and iOS App. The companion app will virtually take readers through Daniel's Outer-Space world of Ducks and Devils, with games to play, surprising voices from different talents, animations and videos from the comic book, links to exciting new Space Ducks merchandise, and a slew of Easter eggs, including contributions from some of the critically-acclaimed musicians who number amongst Daniel’s biggest fans. The app will also debut Daniel Johnston’s first new album since 2009.
The book was put out by BOOM! Town. It is 96 pages, hardback, $19.99 and available HERE.




Friday, April 6, 2012

Daily poster: Hospital Massacre.


Hospital Massacre aka X-Ray.

Hospital Massacre is one of my favorite tier-2 slasher films. I saw it when I was younger and was deliciously horrified. Honestly, I thought Barbie Benton was first class Hollywood royalty. I just didn't know who she was. I couldn't understand why this famous movie star would be in a slasher film. Well, she gets pretty naked in the film and I was completely blown away, thinking I had discovered some secret movie. HA.

Hospital Massacre opened thirty years ago, sometime in April 1982. I cannot find the exact date.
The film has some tonal consistency issues. Surrealistic comedy is thrown in to the film at a couple of points. These pit stops are confusing and if you can't ride these out, the film breaks down. The motivation of the killer is a big stretch as well.

That all being said, the film has some good slashings and a curious plot that resonates like a nightmare that you can't escape from. Most slasher fans would probably disagree with me, but I think it is a fine entry into the slasher genre.

I can't find a trailer for the film, but here is the entire movie, Benton boobies and all. The only available versions of the film that I know about, are sourced from old VHS tapes. The quality isn't going to get much better than this.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

1/6th scale Joker mug.


 
BobbyC1225 posted pics of this incredible 1/6th scale sculpt he did. I almost cannot believe my eyeballs.
this is a 1/6th scale head to replace the hot toys doll heads , people want realism that is what I deliver.

(via reddit.)

Sci-Fi fandom in the 70's.

If you recognize all of these interview subjects, you're bona fide.

Extreme fandom of any sort is usually pretty interesting and seeing people create for themselves is inspirational.

The DVD can be ordered HERE for $15.

Here's the YouTube blurb:

This feature-length documentary film tells the story of the 1970's Bay Area Sci-Fi conventions called Space-Con. Told by the original organizers and fans. Includes celebrity interviews, costume contests and over 40 minutes of rare convention footage. See the Federation Trading Post in Berkeley and very first Star Trek convention in San Francisco. A real treat for any Star Trek or Star Wars fan. Film stars Bob Wilkins, John Stanley, Ernie Fosselius, and many more.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Kiss your idols.

Posters that kiss you back, or whisper, "I love you."

I found this via oldhat on Whitechapel, who added, "Japan: The champions of Forever Alone." HA.

Use more paint.

I don't know who this guy is. I don't know his painting. He's long winded. He's basically trying to sell his DVD training set. But, he makes some excellent points. He's got three tips to "cure amateurish looking painting."

1. Preserve integrity of brushwork. Don't make little feather-like strokes with your brush. Paint the damn line.

2. Be authoritative. Even if the line is wrong. Make it strong. Strong brush strokes.

3. Use more paint. Don't make a stained canvas. Make a painting.

Good stuff.

Daily poster: The Mummy's Ghost.


 
The Mummy's Ghost.
The Mummy's Ghost is the third film in the Kharis series. It is one of the first films I saw on Creature Features and one of my favorite Universal horror films.
The film boasts one of the grandest and rarest honors in all of monster movie history. The Mummy wins! He gets what he desires, while the townsfolk and distraught boyfriend can only look on and cry in anguish as the starlet dies.
Lon Chaney Jr. is ever-imposing as the slow but unstoppable Kharis. John Carradine is miscast but rises to the role of, Yousef Bey, a priest of Arkan. Is Bey related to Ardath Bey, the name that Imhotep used in the original The Mummy? Carradine's wide eyed acting is hammy and wonderful. His voice will melt your ear drums. The hero of the film isn't too annoying. Ramsay Ames plays the reincarnated Ananka. She was one of the true Hollywood starlets, likeable, troubled, and beautiful. George Zucco does a fine job playing the crusty high priest, who sends Yousef Bey to America to fetch the mummies of Princess Ananka and Kharis.
The truth of the matter is that nearly all classic mummy movies, both Universal and Hammer, have the same basic story. This is one of the finer outings with some legendary horror actors, a few twists along the way, and a fantastic ending, which I have un-remorsefully ruined for you.
Here's the trailer. Murdering! Destroying!


Monday, April 2, 2012

Barbarian Brothers wear.

While looking for a trailer for todays daily poster, I found this commercial for The Barbarian Brothers' line of clothing.

If you know anything about me, you know that I love the Barbarian Brothers.

revok.com found this fantastic 3:33 commercial at the end of the rental VHS of The Barbarians.

Daily poster: The Sword and the Sorcerer.



The Sword and the Sorcerer.
Happy 30th birthday to The Sword and the Sorcerer, which was released in April 1982 (I can't find the exact date.)
I remember being blown away by the commercials as a kid. A THREE-BLADED SWORD! Wait a second, did that blade just SHOOT OUT!!!
When I saw the film as an adult, there was no way it could live up to the legendary masterpiece I had in my head. However, within the 80's, Rated-R, fantasy flick genre, The Sword and the Sorcerer is pretty darn close to a classic.
The film was released at the same time as Conan, so it never really had a chance, in terms of box office gold. The Sword and the Sorcerer is hazy, dark, gory, and has a good pace. It is good, corny, fun. I mean come on, it's got Richard Lynch, Lee Horsely, and Richard Moll all covered in gore.
The end of the film has a title card:


The sequel was finally made and released in 2010. It stars Kevin Sorbo. I haven't seen it yet. I'll have to see if they kept it in the Rated-R realm or softened it up.
Here's the trailer. "Dungeons and dragons. Serpents and splendor. Danger and desire."


There is a much better poster over on Wrong Side of the Art, but their site seems to be down at this moment.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Grisly reminders.

Skull1
Make your shopping list in style with a chalkboard skull.

iamhome's etsy store has human and gorilla chalkboard skulls in all sorts of colors. Human skulls will set you back 46 bones and the gorilla skulls are $66.

They also have little trees to turn your refrigerator into a forest and animal skull goat's milk soap.

Now you know where to do all your Christmas shopping next year.

Skull2
Skull3
Skull4
(via jeremyriad.)

Big score at the flea market.


 
We did pretty good at the flea market today. My wife got some clothes and the kids each got little ponies. I got three frames for my paintings and a couple of real treasures.
Ridiculously cool, lifesized, clay head - $10
RAW magazine #3 - $3