Wednesday, 20 May 2020

The Chameleons - View From A Hill

Shoegaze Began Here - Part I


The Chameleons - View From A Hill (1983)
I was going to do do a whole thing with 7 or 8 different bands and their legacy on shoegaze/dreampop but once I get The Chameleons on the stereo I'm stuck for days. This tune from 1983 is magnificent! Its contemporaneous with the likes of The Church, Cleaners From Venus, The Blue Orchids, The Cocteau Twins, Durutti Column, The Sound etc. The only thing is hardly anyone knows who The Chameleons are. For those who don't know: They formed in Manchester circa 1981 and I guess they were in the realm of dark yet uplifting post-punk and neo-psychedelia. The three LPs from their original 1981-87 era are all excellent. They even signed to Geffen for the Strange Times (1986) LP but broke up a year later. Interestingly Clive Davis signed the The Church to Arista around the same time David Geffen signed The Chameleons. There must have been something in the air. Anyway this song View From A Hill is from the debut Chameleons album Script Of The Bridge (1983) and is one of my nominations for my upcoming proto-shoegaze post.


The Chameleons - Silence, Sea & Sky (1985)
Maybe I need to start a Dreampop Began Here segment as well. This tune is totally Blue Velvet/Twin Peaks Angelo Badalamenti except it's a year before Blue Velvet and four years before Twin Peaks. You expect Julee Cruise to come in at any minute. Anyhow Silence, Sea & Sky was composed on a Solina which is an ARP string synth. Brilliant stuff.


The Chameleons - Caution
Now lets just get down to the rock! As I said I get stuck on The Chameleons so it might be a couple of weeks before anything else crosses my eardrums. Here's a mammoth and mighty tune from their third LP Strange Times (1986). This is how majestic and intense I always thought Echo & The Bunnymen should have been but they were disappointing poseurs. It didn't matter though because we had The Chameleons.


The Chameleons - Soul In Isolation (1986)
I'm surprised this didn't become the COVID19 anthem. Anyway it was interesting to read in the comments that guitarist Dave Fielding wrote this tune even before the first album Script Of The Bridge (1983) was recorded. It's another dark intense epic. Sometimes they reach a Husker Dü like fever pitch except amongst the claustrophobia there is space for respite until you realise that is dread filled too. Classic.


The Chameleons - Second Skin (1983)
Oh man I've got it bad now I can't stop. The Chameleons are so so fucking good. This song might just be their most satisfying and best. It's got such a wonderful soaring 80s melody and those lyrics... "I dedicate this melody to you... No wonder I feel like I'm floating on air" fit perfectly. Second Skin is a song about great songs that make you feel elated that is a great song that makes you feel elated. What a fucking conceptual triumph! The duel guitar interplay, that insistent mystic rhythm and the round and back again backing vocals fuse together for a swirly trip where you feel like you're "walking on air". Second Skin is just so delicious, delightful & euphoric. I just noticed this tune has had over a million youtube views so perhaps some people are finally catching on to the delectable greatness of The Chameleons. Maybe the mysterious youtube recommendations algorithm has weaved its magic once again (?). For a band that never cracked the top 40 anywhere in the world that's impressive. A true cult band! "This is the stuff dreams are made of."


The Chameleons - Perfume Garden (1985)
Another fine tune with an ecstatic buzz.

When Interpol first came out I was hearing them on the radio all the time and kept thinking "Oh Chameleons must have reformed I'll have to find that cd next time I'm in a record shop." A week or two later my mate brought around some cd burns and one of them was that first Interpol album. So I was shocked and a little disappointed. For a Chameleons tribute band though Interpol did alright. I must admit I never heard any of their following records. I always thought Interpol were what you would have wanted your ultimate high school band to sound like: The Chameleons as your blueprint then chuck in bit of Television, some Died Pretty, a splash of The Sound, add a slice of The Church, a dash of The Smiths with a twist of Joy Division.

Thursday, 14 May 2020

Shoegazi


Original - Leftfield (1995) 
There's been a bit of chatter over at Energy Flash about the cross pollination of shoegaze, ambient and techno in the 90s and beyond due to the imminent reissue of the self-titled LP from The Primitive Painter. They were a German duo I'd never heard of until a fortnight ago. Their one and only LP was released in 1994. They had a love for house and 80s indie-pop and noise-pop. Anyway Simon posted a bunch of "SHOEGAZETRONICA" the other day including a FSOL remix of Curve. It put me in mind of the above track which features vocals from Curve's Toni Halliday. I loved it at the time but it's not as exciting as I remember. In fact it kinda feels as dull as say Groove Armada. Am I right?



The Primitive Painter were duo Roman Flügel and Jörn Elling Wuttke better known as their techno aliases Acid Jesus then they became the chartbusting Alter Ego from 94 onwards. The Primitive Painter LP was somewhere in-between. This album got lost in the 90s glut but has gone on to become a cult record. Original copies (only 500 pressed) now go for crazy money on the internet and I can see why, that above tune Hope is exquisite.


Anyway I ended up writing a whole thing on Curve over at Energy Flash which is funny considering I only ever had their first three EPs. I do however find failed major label pop stars who then change their style in a second, third or fourth chance at success/fame fascinating. I've touched on this before but whatever. People I can think of who fit in this category off the top of my head are Guy Chadwick, Matthew Sweet, Alanis Morissette, Robin Thicke and of course the two ladies mentioned below Toni Halliday and Shirley Manson. There must be stacks more people in this category though. Some groups who went on to be glam bands had second chances. Mud were a psych-pop band originally and Sweet were maybe some kinda pub blues band. Once in the hands of the right songwriters and/or producers these musicians get reinvented. A book on this kind of thing would be fascinating. Below is what I wrote in Simon's comments box.


The mark Curve have left on music history is via who they influenced ie. Garbage who sometimes sound uncannily like Curve except Garbage were million selling alt-pop titans. Both groups though were kind of phoney manufactured groups chasing alternative trends (nothing wrong with that The Sex Pistols were a boy band). Other parallels include second chances for both front women, well actually for Shirley Manson it was her third bite of the cherry. She had been in 80s/90s band Goodbye Mr McKenzie then Angelfish who were a record company manufactured vehicle for Manson. One of the Garbage dudes saw her on MTV and that was that.

Toni Halliday had several bites of the cherry too. She was in group State Of Play with members of Eurythmics live band. They did an LP in 1986 which nobody cared for. More Eurythmics connections continue here as Toni was then signed to Dave Stewart's label (Anxious Records) for a solo LP that failed to make an impact on anybody despite engineering and production from Flood and Alan Moulder. Toni then formed Curve with State Of Play/Eurythmics bass player Dean Garcia and their wild card was Alan Moulder on production, mixing, engineering and sometimes guitar duties. Curve were also signed to Anxious Records during their most successful period 1991 to 1993 where they did catch some chart action in the UK. They had 5 UK top 40 singles and the first two LPs went to 11 & 23 respectively.


Blindfold - Curve (1991)
Curve's first single Blindfold took MBV's Soon template and made it less good in an aim for chart domination.


Coast Is Clear - Curve (1991)
I do however recall thinking their 2nd single Coast Is Clear was undeniable despite how derivative/generic it was ie. Nirvana's Smells like Teen Spirit. You can hear where Garbage took some inspiration with regard to melody, gloomy vocal tone & petulant lyrical content right here. I've enjoyed listening to this one again.


Frozen - Curve (1991)
er...another one cut from the same cloth. I quite like this one too. I must admit I never followed them past the initial run of EPs and I guess The Frozen EP is their peak. EPs were where it was at for shoegazers. Imagine if Slowdive's Just For A Day or Ride's Nowhere where cut down to just the four or five essential tunes that hadn't appeared on any previous releases?


Want More Need Less - Curve (2001)
Didn't know about this one until today. Kevin Shields plays on two tracks on Curve's 2001 comeback LP Gift. If you took the vocals off this, it would sound like a Loveless (1991) outtake. Perhaps it should have been titled "Want Less Need Less". This might have been a strange experience for Shields as Curve had cribbed most of their ideas from him or maybe he was just flattered. Flattery gets you everywhere. Toni Halliday is married to legendary Glider/Tremelo/Loveless engineer Alan Moulder so I guess they would have probably all known each other.


Vow - Garbage (1995)
I fucking loved this when it first came out. It still sounds damn fine. I always thought this was somewhere between peak psych Beatles (Tomorrow Never Knows/I Am The Walrus), MBV via Curve with classic grungy riffage, pop hooks and production. They never topped this did they?


Shoegazetronica Began Here Part I.
Instrumental B - My Bloody Valentine (1988)
The near mythical tune that came free on a 7" with the initial pressings of the vinyl version of Isn't Anything (1988). I bought the cd so I thought I'd missed this forever until that great compilation EPs 1988-91 surfaced in 2012. That breakbeat mixed with Kevin Sheilds' eerie fx make this track so much more as it also predates Aphex Twin, Seefeel, Boards Of Canada, Hauntology etc.


Shoegazetronica Began Here Part II.
Blue Bell Knoll - Cocteau Twins (1988)
From the 2 minute 20 mark to the end of the opening title track of the Blue Bell Knoll LP The Cocteau Twins set down a template for funky drumming amongst gusts of guitar bliss. This slice of music of just over a minute is a concise blueprint for what was to become shoegaze and a jump off point for Shoegazetronica. Other tracks and sections of tunes on Blue Bell Knoll reiterate this vibe especially Carolyn's Fingers & A Kissed Out Red Floatboat.


Shoegazetronica Began Here Part III.
A Love From Outer Space - AR Kane (1989)
This just opened up a whole other expansive universe of sound along with several other tunes from the LP "I" (1989). You can hear the seedling of Saint Etienne here. In the youtube comments of the video clip version somebody calls it R&Bgaze.


Spirea Rising - Spirea X (1991)
Anyone remember this? I thought they were gonna be great and push the boat out on the whole rhythmic dubby shoegaze thing but it turned out this was the only half decent tune they did. I still really like this particularly that bass. An LP of tunes in this style would have been awesome. We had to wait a year or two for Seefeel then a year or two more for Bowery Electric's Beat LP.


Semtex - Third Eye Foundation (1996) 
Then there was this guy Matt Elliot who took it all to a less idyllic place although there is some kind of bliss in its nihilistic abyss. 


Sleep - Third Eye Foundation (1996)
The stories were circling in the mid 90s that Kevin Shields was making a jungle inspired My Bloody Valentine record but Third Eye Foundation beat him to the punch. This is still quite a rush and a blueprint for a genre that never happened.



Untitled/Get Out #3 - Pita (1999)
Does this track somehow fit amongst the whole shoegazetronica? For me it does! Untitled #3 from Pita's Get Out album is kind of like a Slowdive instrumental put through a virus ridden laptop. This is like a distant cousin to My Bloody Valentine's To Here Knows When. It's all about the euphoric amorphous noise and the spires of splintering sound reaching for the heavens. Rejoice in this crackin track. [Added Entry 16/5/20]


Soon - My Bloody Valentine (1990)
For reference's sake here's a little tune that was slightly innovative and influential.

Friday, 1 May 2020

Mo Movies May


Escape From New York (1981)
I was always indifferent to this film. I thought it was alright but didn't understand everyone's devotion to it, perhaps because I didn't see it when I was 10. I guess I've had a lil' change of heart. For a start the cast is absolutely stellar Kurt Russell, Lee Van Cleef, Isaac Hayes, Adrienne Barbeau, Harry Dean Stanton, Donald Pleasance, Ernest Borgnine, Tom Atkins, Charles Cyphers etc. Most movies from 1980/81 are still 70s movies and this is no exception as it's all about lost illusions in the USA after Vietnam, Kent State and Watergate. Set way in the future of 1997 when America's crime rate has sky rocketed by 400%. Manhattan Island is now an a maximum security prison where anarchy rules. Terrorists have stranded the US president (Donald Pleasance) on the Island. Snake Plissken (Kurt Russell) a former special forces soldier is given a chance to have his prison sentence pardoned if he can rescue the president within 24 hours otherwise the apocalypse awaits. The movie now gets extra gravitas as there is a scene where Snake lands his plane on top of the World Trade Centre. Escape From New York is a bit of good ole dystopian action fun from back in the day when it wasn't reality. Snake Plissken's disillusion and utter nihilism is what it's all about. Plus his name is Snake Plissken.


Female Prisoner Scorpion: 701's Grudge Song (1973)
I was not expecting much from the fourth and final flick of The Female Prisoner Scorpion series as it was not directed by Shunya Itō who did such a splendid job on the first three. Then I read that Grudge Song's director Yasuharau Hasebe had been Seijun Suzuki's apprentice for eight years. He had also directed Meiko Kaji previously in Alleycat Rock: Sex Hunter (1970) & Alleycat Rock: Machine Animal (1970) where he was instrumental in making her the star of these films, not just the supporting actress that she had been in the first two flicks in the Alleycat/Straycat Rock series. So my hopes were raised and I was very excited as this was obviously a devoted and sympathetic director for Kaji. Disappointed I was not.

This might be the strangest film of the series and that's saying something. It feels the most OTT and sadistic. Nobody can top Shunya Itō's art of film and stylistic flourishes but Hasebe gives it a good crack in the final couple of scenes. The film stock colour palate in those scenes is crazy. In the opening minutes of the film the cops find Nami Matsushima (Meiko Kaji) capture her and then she escapes. Nami is rescued by Teru Kudo (Masakazu Tamura). This is a dangerous game though as she opens up emotionally to a man for the first time since the first film in the series. They have a hideout in a car wreck yard. It's not long before the duo are dobbed in to the authorities though. Kudo is captured again and again. Soon enough the insanely violent police beat a confession out of him as to the whereabouts of Nami. She is once again betrayed and is sent to prison. Is Nami going to get out of her death sentence and exact some groovy vengeance? Or is she doomed this time? While the scores were very good if quite minimal in the previous three films, this fabulous score is more ubiquitous with its heavy synth-fuzz-psych and suspenseful soundz. The best thing about 2020 so far for me has been discovering this series of films and properly discovering and fully appreciating Meiko Kaji (I'd seen 1970's Blind Woman's Curse a few years ago...). In 701's Grudge Song I think Kaji gets one entire sentence but her range of strong silent type acting is pushed to exquisite levels in this series finale. How she can convey so much meaning and emotion with one eye, while the other eye is covered with her hair, is astounding and a mystery to me.

Meiko Kaji is totally mesmerising.


Il Gatto Nove Code aka Cat o Nine tails (1971)
Dario Argento's second directing gig and it's another Giallo. Cookie (Karl Maldon) a blind man is out walking with Lori (Cinzia De Carolis) his little niece one night when he overhears a nefarious conversation from a parked car. He soon finds himself embroiled in espionage and murder. He is all too willing to become the archetypal Giallo amateur sleuth. He teams up with fellow amateur sleuth Carlo (James Franciscus) a newspaper journalist to try and figure out what all this murder malarky is all about. We get to see many shots from the murderer's point of view and close ups of hers/his/their eyeballs. We get Blow Up (1966) homages, decapitated heads, several Hitchcock references, groovy chic apartments, rooftop bars, strangulations, pipe smoking, barber shop shaves, Euro pop star Catherine Spaak's wig, death, a car chase, 70s wallpaper, a gay bar, telephones, murder, blind cooking, incest, many spiral staircases, graveyards and a peak era Ennio Morricone score. One of the more upsetting scenes is when Cookie puts his just cooked pan of bacon and eggs straight under the tap in the sink because he has sleuthing to do, what a god damn waste! The convoluted plot contains many red herrings and some absolutely hilarious mumbo jumbo science. Everyone is chasing the breakthrough formula which reveals if you have the criminal gene or not but they all keep getting murdered in the process. Just who do those murderous eyes belong to?


The Flying Guillotine (1975)
Netflix & Amazon Prime have both just added a motherload of Kung Fu Movies. My first pick was this top chop socky flick that is more about a decapitating frisbee than kung fu choreography. The titular weapon is based on an ancient Chinese design. You chuck it like a frisbee at your intended victims head. When it lands on their head a net drops down and as the blades reach their neck you yank the metal chain & voilà decapitation. You can then retrieve the head which is neatly collected in your little net. Ma Teng (Kuan Tai Chen) the emperor's number one assassin becomes disillusioned with the ethics of his job and goes AWOL. The tyrant emperor wants Ma Teng dead for being a traitor. Let the violent antics begin. This is a whole lotta head rolling fun. Late night movie of the week.


The 36th Chamber Shaolin (1978)
I can't believe I've never watched this movie or its sequel before today considering the debut albums from Wu Tang Clan and Ol' Dirty Bastard (RIP) are two of my favourite hip hop recordings of all time. Liu Yude (Gordon Liu) is a rebel who wants to learn how to fight from the Shaolin monks so he can exact revenge upon the tyrannical Manchu government who have killed some of his friends and family. He is initially dismissed by the monks but they eventually give him a go. Liu Yude changes his name to San Te as he goes through many trials and tribulations while he trains to become awesome at kung-fu. San Te takes six years to quickly becomes an outstanding student (?!). Will San Te be able fulfil his dream with an uprising of vengeance against the Manchu government or will it all go pair shaped? Top Chop-Socky.


Flying Guillotine 2 aka Palace Carnage (1978) 
Not as good as the first instalment but it's still fairly entertaining. There's just an insufficient amount of guillotine action and decapitation. The action does pick up towards the end though. The tyrannical emperor Yung Cheng (Feng Ku) demands that the guillotines be modified and this is the film's main problem. The guillotine becomes just too overly complicated and cumbersome. Nah Lan (Szu Shih) is hired by the Emperor to train a gang of lady assassins but where do her true allegiances lie? There will be blood, heroes and villains.


10 Rillington Place (1971)
Well this is truly grim. I'd only ever vaguely heard about this film and that there was a recent BBC series remake starring Tim Roth, I think. So I took a punt. I mean how can you lose with a cast that includes John Hurt, Richard Attenborough and Judy Gleeson directed by the legendary Richard Fleischer. If you thought fucked up stories of grisly murder were only for current Netflix docu-series think again. This is an horrific and gruesome true story from London in the mid-20th century. That's not a spoiler by the way as we learn within the first minute of the film that John Christie (Richard Attenborough) is a cold blooded killer. The skint Tim (John Hurt) and Beryl Evans (Judy Gleeson) move into a flat above John & Ethel (Pat Heywood) Christie at 10 Rillington Place with their new born baby Geraldine. The Evans family become entangled in John Christie's dark and depraved world when Beryl reveals to him that she is pregnant. A Brilliant creepy vibe of morbid inevitability is created right from the get go that doesn't let up until the very end. The pacing, acting and execution here are all right on the money. This is one blood curdling and tragic tale that needs to be seen to be believed. Is this considered a classic? because it is one!


Fright Night (1985)
I totally missed this in the 80s so it was the first time I'd watched this cult vampire movie. It's certainly was not what I was expecting. The tone for a start was all over the shop. I was not expecting any sort of quirky comedy or such American cheesy 80s-ness so it took me a while to adjust. The second half is definitely better ie. I loved it when the vampire slaying began. There were some spectacular practical visual effects in these battles and death scenes that made it all worthwhile. A couple of blokes move next door to teenager Charley Brewster's (William Ragsdale) family home in suburbia. Charley thinks they might be Vampires but nobody believes him. Having not seen this when I was 13 (this was totally made for my demographic at the time), I don't think I'm going to become attached to this movie at any stage. I get that people who saw it as a teenager would have a big nostalgia for it. This is why you constantly see it being rated highly by horror enthusiasts in their 40s. I wonder if today's kids would dig it? Fright Night must have been a big influence on Buffy The Vampire Slayer. For nostalgists and Horror historians.


The True History Of The Kelly Gang (2019)
Intense biopic drama. I'm not a very good Australian. All I know about the Ned Kelly is that he was a smelly drunk bearded hipster who was a murderous thug. He was probably a bit thick too as he was captured by the coppers for killing other Johnny Hoppers. He was hanged at Melbourne Gaol where he uttered his final words "Such Is Life". That's all I know. I've never read one of the hundreds of books on his life and I didn't do Bushranger Studies for my HSC (Year 12). I saw the Ned Kelly film with Mick Jagger when I was small and recall thinking it was a terrible picture with an even more terrible lead actor. So I don't know what's true and what isn't in this flick. Were the Kelly Gang cross dressers? Was Ned bi-sexual? Was he ever sober? Did he ever hang out in the snow? Was he ever clean shaven? This was a pretty good, watchable and fantastical epic. George MacKay the dude from 1917 (2019) plays Ned Kelly and he has a magnetic screen presence, you cannot take your eyes off him. He is a bona fide old school movie star just like Rusty Crowe who is fabulous as elder bushranger Harry Power. Special mentions must go to Essie Davis as Ned's mum and Nicholas Hoult as Constable Fitzpatrick for their brilliant performances...oh and it co-stars Nick Cave's son as Ned's brother.


The Master of The Flying Guillotine aka The One Armed Boxer vs. The Flying Guillotine (1976)
So after watching the above Flying Guillotine movies Mr Tarantino turns up on the Pure Cinema Podcast talking about Kung Fu movies. He states that Master Of The Flying Guillotine is the only flying guillotine film worth watching. He is wrong of course. The guillotine here is a much more compact version of the one in The Flying Guillotine (1975) but it's just not used efficiently or sufficiently during this flick. There are only a few decapitations which was disappointing however if you can get past that fact this is a brilliant Chop Socky movie. For starters the soundtrack is pure fucking gold. It's a Krautrock fest featuring Neu, Kraftwerk & Tangerine Dream. Neu on a 70s kung fu soundtrack!? This is the best use of Krautrock since Can's great tune Mother Sky was featured in Jerzy Skolimowski's film Deep End (1970). The One Armed Boxer (Jimmy Wang Yu) runs a kung fu school and is invited to a martial arts tournament. The competition features an incredible array of duels spotlighting different styles of martial arts which have to be seen to bee believed. The Indian fighter for instance has crazy go go gadget extendible arms, one dude stands on the tips of knives etc. Fung Sheng Wu Chi (Kang Chin) turns up at the event to assassinate The One Armed Boxer. Let the battle begin and what a sensational set piece the rest of this picture is. This film's title should always be known by its alternative name as it makes much more sense ie. the perfectly apt The One Armed Boxer vs. The Flying Guillotine.



One Armed Swordsman (1967)
This film apparently revolutionised Hong Kong cinema. It was the blockbuster of its day breaking box office records across Asia. This is fucking epic, action packed and suspenseful. The direction (Chang Cheh), set pieces and overall visual aesthetic are stunning. Jimmy Wang Yu stars as the titular character. While this is bloody swordplay at its finest it's also about romance, revenge, honour, existentialism etc. The One Armed Swordsman Fang Kang was orphaned when his father sacrificed himself to save his master teacher Qi Ru Feng (Tien Feng) at The Golden Sword Kung Fu School. In gratitude for this heroic feat Feng brought up Kang. Even though Fang Kang's arm was chopped off by Feng's belligerent daughter Qi Pei-er (Pan Ying-zi) he still one day returns to the school to defend his master from a rival gang of nihilistic swordsmen. This posse have been tinkering away at designing innovative new weapons to counter masterful swordsmanship and have thus become superior assassins. Will the One Armed Swordsman be able to overcome The Long Armed Devil (Yeung Chi-hing) and his disciples of evil? On the soundtrack front there's a tune that sounds like a cross between freakbeat, Ennio Morricone and the Velvet Underground that was very cool. This chop-socky classic lives up to its reputation.


Return Of The One Armed Swordsman (1969)
Bloody sword fights! Once we get past the talky exposition at the beginning  of this sequel the splendiferous action really picks up momentum that rarely lets up until the climax. The Eight Demon Swordsmen challenge The One Armed Swordsman Fang Kang (Jimmy Wang Yu) and all surrounding rival kung fu schools to join in a duelling competition and they will not take no for an answer from anybody. This ain't gonna be no martial arts tournament. It's a nefarious invitation to a blood bath for all of the eight demon school's rivals. The inventiveness of weapons, stunts and sword fights here are next level and this was made in 1969! Director Chang Cheh really ramps this flick up to full tilt compared to the original. These big, bold & bloody battles are astonishing. Wrap your eyeballs & ears around this movie from the legendary Shaw Brothers studio. 


Creature With The Blue Hand (1967)
It's been said many times before that the German/Danish Krimi films were a precursor to the Giallo movies and who am I to disagree because this Edgar Wallace story had me flashing back to a 'batshit crazy' Giallo Slaughter Hotel (1971). Both films not only have Klaus Kinski in a main role but they are both set in mansions with Knight and weapon artefacts. Both flicks have asylums and sexy shenanigans although this isn't anywhere near as sexually graphic as Slaughter Hotel which sometimes goes by the title Asylum Erotica. Mainly though both films have a killer on the loose and bodies piling up. Creature With The Blue Hand also has proto-slasher stylings such as a body count, a disguised murderer, many shots taken from the killer's point of view and the killer's weapon is a hand of knives (Hello Freddy Krueger). Dave (Klaus Kinski) escapes from an asylum and returns to his family mansion to prove he is not an insane killer. Dave quickly takes on the identity of his identical twin bother Richard (Klaus Kinski) who seems to be missing. An absurdly convoluted plot develops in the labyrinthine mansion with many a red herring not unlike a giallo film once again. Special mention must got to the suspenseful Euro-crime-funk score which will have your toes tapping. While this may not be a great (it's alright) film it has to be seen to put into context its influence on the evolution of several sub-genres of horror movies.   


Tuesday, 14 April 2020

MOVIES XXXI

CRAP CORONA VIRUS PANDEMIC EDITION
In this time of confusion, fear, perplexity, anxiety, governmental hesitation, sheer idiocy, tension and isolation I bring a somewhat lesser version of mo movies. A big shout out to my peeps in Italy & America (my two biggest demographics) my thoughts and prayers are with you along with everyone else too.


Female Prisoner #701: Scorpion (1972)
The first in the four Female Prisoner Scorpion film series from Japanese studio Toei. This is great gripping stuff. I failed to mention last time that the spectacular manga stories upon which these pop art exploitation extravaganzas are based were created by Tōru Shinohara. Nami Matsushima (Meiko Kaji) gets entangled in espionage. Once she discovers that she has been betrayed by Sugumi her detective boyfriend she attempts to stab him to death in broad daylight but to no avail. Matsu gets sent to prison where there are inventive antics, sadistic violence, sexual abuse, escapes and a prison riot. Will Matsu Prisoner #701 rise up to avenge her wrong doers? Or will it all go awry? Female Prisoner #701: Scorpion is a stunning directorial debut for Shunya Itō.


Blood & Flesh: The Reel Life & Ghastly Death of Al Adamson (2019)
This is terrific lil doc about Z grade exploitation movie maker Al Adamson. Just because he was a schlock-meister didn't mean he wasn't successful. He seemed to do quite well financially out of the drive-in and grindhouse circuits. Most of this film covers his absurdly fun boobs, blood and biker movies, his career and personal life while the last quarter turns into a true crime documentary as horrifying events about his death unfold. One of the best documentaries I've seen in a while. The question is will I ever watch an Al Adamson movie in my remaining time on this mortal coil?  


Rewind This (2013)
I think I've spoken about this before. It's a good documentary on the rise and fall of VHS. If you haven't seen one of the other hundred docs on this topic check this one out because it's got Phil Blankenship as an astute talking head. Side note: There are two very cool co-producers of Rewind This Panos Cosmatos and good ole John Carpenter.



Lost Soul: The Doomed Journey Of Richard Stanley's Island of Dr Moreau (2015)
The bizarre and true story of the shooting of The Island of Dr. Moreau, the 1996 film that was a disaster. Lost Soul is an Incredible story that is stranger than fiction. The Island of Dr. Moreau was shot just outside of the tropical Cairns in Queensland Australia. The film shoot went haywire right from the get go as young up coming autistic rock star director Richard Stanley had his project hi-jacked by arsehole actors, stupid film company people and was eventually usurped by veteran director John Frankenheimer (The Manchurian Candidate, Seconds, I Walk The Line, Ronin). I get the feeling we're only getting part of the story here though, the one seen through the side of team Richard Stanley. I mean we don't really get to the bottom of why Richard taken off the picture. Was he mentally ill or unstable? Was he indulging in too much drugs and alcohol? He certainly wasn't quite right as he had to be coaxed out of his house to attend the set. Anyway that's a minor quibble as the rest of the gone troppo antics are also totally mental. Why would anybody become a film-writer or director? Their lives and art are put in the hands of absolute morons who don't seem to give a damn. I am constantly amazed that any good movies ever get made. So 2019 was a huge surprise in film-making because it was the best year in film since 2003 or maybe even 1999 with many finely made films and entertainment on offer ie. Parasite, Uncut Gems, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, Joker, 1917 etc. Anyway this is well worth a look.

Baby Driver (2017)
It was on Netflix so I thought I'd give it a go somewhat reluctantly. The movie lasted less than 10 minutes maybe. The car stunt work at the start had me excited. Then the kid driver had this sequence where he was walking down the street for several minutes and I think it was meant to be cool or something but it was fucking horrible. I felt like it was meant to be some kind of homage to the so called cool kids in John Hughes movies but they were never cool. They were so phoney and scratchy as in I wanted to scratch my eyeballs out and I was a teenager during the 80s. This kid walking scene made me want to vomit like I'd accidentally put on a fucking Wes Anderson show. It felt like someone who's old and definitely not cool trying to film a cool scene of a cool kid but he has no idea what that could be because he's like 40 so it was fucking embarrassing. I didn't wanna miss out on a car chase movie because I love 70s car chase movies like Vanishing Point (1971), The Driver (1978), Two Lane Blacktop (1971), Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry (1974), Hooper (1978) etc. but... You know what's wrong with Edgar Wright these days? No Simon Pegg. Those early films are fucking classics because they are Pegg films. Wright was just lucky to get to be part of them! Hot Fuzz (2007) & Shaun Of The Dead (2004) Rule. Baby Driver though?


Final Cut: Ladies & Gentleman (2012)
I'd never even heard of this until someone mentioned it last night on Josh Olsen and Joe Dante's Movies That Made Me podcast. This is a mash up of hundreds of historic movie scenes that ends up telling a cohesive romantic tale. This is an incredible feat in editing and film knowledge. Final Cut contains scenes from some of Hollywood's worst films, some of the best movies ever made plus plenty of foreign and silent films too. Final Cut is riveting from the get go and is a film buff trainspotters dream. It's undeniable experimental film-making innovation. Depending on how much romantic cheese you can hack you just might like it. I hate rom-coms but this is a spectacle that has to be seen and it was 85 minutes well spent. It's got creepy shit too and violence, something for everyone. The only other major precursor to this I can think of is Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid (1982) but there are no Steve Martin inserts here, just a great idea executed wonderfully. Of course this could never get commercially released as it would be a copyright nightmare but you can find it on Vimeo and it looked great.


The Yellow Sea aka 황해 (2010)
This is long journey so you have to be prepared and amped for an epic of the South Korean horror-action-thriller variety. If you thought Park Chan-wook and Bong Joon-ho were THE dark souls South Korean cinema forget it because writer/director Na Hong-jin (The Chaser and The Wailing) takes that crown hands down. This is a monumental tale of absurd incompetence. The Yellow Sea contains bad gamblers, inadequate spouses, neglectful parents, crap criminals, totally inept police, shit gangsters and even worse rival gangsters. I hope I haven't made that sound bad as it is all framed in a strange sometimes funny blood soaked criminal underworld between China and South Korea. Knives and axes are the weapons of choice here with nary a gun in sight. Gu-nam (Ha Jung-woo) is a bad father/husband who is a degenerate gambler in the border-town of Yanji, China. His wife  has gone to South Korea in the hope of finding work but he hasn't heard back from her. He loses his job as a taxi driver. His life is in utter turmoil and he's mentally tormented. He gets an opportunity to wipe his huge gambling debt slate clean by going to South Korea as a hitman to kill some bloke otherwise his family will be in diabolical danger. This is just the tip of the iceberg as unexpected shit then begins to unfurl. Look out for spectacular car chase/crash sequences, bloody knife wielding fight scenes, many a foot chase, bloody axe violence and even some stunning truck action. Gu-nam is no tough-buff Schwartzenegger type of specimen so it is pretty funny and amazing that he gets though so many close scrapes with the gangsters and cops. This is one lucky unlucky fella but there is pathos too. Will he find his Mrs? Will his hit sort everything out? Will he end up a happy man? All these questions will be answered in this saga that gets pretty fucking convoluted at times but thankfully coalesces in the end.


Female Prisoner Scorpion: Jailhouse 41 (1972)
The second in the Female Prisoner Scorpion series. Shunya Itō once again directs Meiko Kaji as Nami Matsushima aka Scorpion aka Matsu and we are blessed once again with a terrific movie Jailhouse 41. Meiko Kaji has become my new favourite actress this year. I just love her minimal bad arse style. I'd love to see her script for Jailhouse 41. I can't recall if she even muttered one word throughout the entire movie. Nami is being kept in solitary confinement in quite a sadistic manner but one day she is brought out into the yard while the prison is being visited by dignitaries so she attacks the head Warden Goda (Fumio Watanabie). A riot begins but soon a bunch of six of the worst and most degenerate ringleaders are sent off in a bus to a hard labour camp along with Nami. How do you think that goes down? Fucking chaotic, strange, bloody and rapey events unfold. If you like your revenge on the edgiest and most demented side of the genre this is for you. This is so outrageous you will hardly believe your eyeballs. Once again we get high art meets the scuzziest of exploitation which is of course a delicious combination. Late Night Movie of The Week.


Annabelle Comes Home (2019)
Emma and I have tried to watch this like 10 times but something kept coming up to stop us from watching it. So by the time time we got around to watching it, it was on Netflix and let's face it we probably only finally watched it because of COVID-19. So it is with much disappointment that I have to say it just didn't live up to expectations. Perhaps the pandemic is part of the problem ie. I'm already so tense and terrified that the usual cheap and cheerful jump scares of this movie weren't even doing it for me. How can you build tension for me when I'm already in need of two valium every minute of every day? A movie like this might just be for when your life is on a relatively normal even keel and you are in need of thrills. The baby sitter at the house where the Annabelle doll is kept and her friends become involved with the the spooky doll but due to Corona Virus our minds were on far more horrific things.


Fatal Attraction (1987)
The sort of film that is just taken for granted. Lumped in with a hundred other late 80s/early 90 erotic-thrillers. After re-watching this I'm pretty sure it's a masterpiece though. Director James Dearden makes it look easy in that seamless lose yourself engagement, where you don't realise you're watching a film kind of style. Fatal Attraction has a simple premise executed with absolute precision. Dan (Michael Douglas) meets Alex (Glenn Close) while his wife and child are out of town and psychotic antics begin to unfold. If you haven't seen it since the 80s it's well worth another look. Oh and there's a bunny.


Profondo Rosso aka Deep Red (1975)
Profondo Rosso is Dario Argento's fourth Giallo film which many consider the  best he did in the genre but for me it's probably his directorial debut The Bird With Crystal Plumage (1970). I prefer the other two in the Animal Trilogy Il Gatto E Nove Code (1971) and Four Flies On Grey Velvet (1971) more than this one as well. That doesn't mean Profondo Rosso isn't very good, I like it and love the immense style, the grand cinematography, the acting and the phenomenal soundtrack from Goblin. A British musician Marcus Daly (David Hemmings) working in Italy witnesses Helga Ulmann (Macha Méril) get murdered with a meat cleaver. Marcus becomes the classic Gialli amateur sleuth as he puts the pieces of the mystery puzzle together. More murder ensues with black gloves no less. The mystery is all neatly tied up and solved in the end befitting the genre.

Swallow (2019)
Emma has misophonia so this film didn't last long. Also do I wanna see someone do number 2s wipe her bottom then fish a marble out of her faeces? Nah that's shit.


The Awakening (2011)
This is how you do a good spooky ghost story. This was a first time watch for me and it was surprisingly excellent. It's not like I had a reason to believe it wouldn't be good though, I just missed it at the time. The Awakening is set in the early 1920s in an empty isolated British boarding school. Florence (Rebecca Hall) is a professional debunker of charlatans with their phoney supernatural shenanigans. However she gets a case that's not so easy to shrug off. A top notch story that doesn't miss a beat. The best cinematic ghosty thing I've seen since The Orphanage (2007). Also stars The Wire's Dominic West plus Imelda Staunton and that kid from Game Of Thrones.  

Wednesday, 8 April 2020

Arrows - I Love Rock 'n' Roll


You can't go wrong with a Chinnichap tune produced by Mickie Most in 1974 can you? This reached No 8 in the UK hit parade.



Mickie Most produces this Chinnichap composition which is a glam meets Bo Diddley blues ditty. It only made it to #51 in the UK.


Although Arrows were an English group they had two American Members Alan Merrill on vocals and bass plus Jake Hooker on guitar. The drummer Paul Varley was British. I love Rock 'n' Roll was a Merrill/Hooker composition. It became an all time classic hard rock/glam anthem when Joan Jett recorded a brilliant version of it in 1982 that went on to become one of the biggest hit singles of the 80s. The story goes that Jett saw Arrows perform the song on their own TV show while she was on tour in the UK in the 70s. This version sadly was not a hit anywhere. Yes according to the interweb Arrows had a show on the telly (?!). Anyway co-writing I Love Rock 'n' Roll makes you a rock legend. So onya Alan Merrill!

Thursday, 2 April 2020

Get Tropical While You Go Troppo

DJ TIMMY'S GONE TROPPO DISCO
While a lot of you are self isolating and getting cabin fever by now, why not hold your own Gone Troppo Disco at home while you still have food, money and your life. I know a lot of people are struggling financially, food-wise, toilet paper-wise, job-wise and health-wise. My heart and prayers go out to you. I'm scared, I'm sad, I have ill elderly parents and relatives. I'm trying to send out some love and joy into the enveloping darkness. Just tryin to keep my chin up.



Haiti Direct: Big Band, Mini Jazz & Twoubadou Sounds, 1960​-​1978 -Various
This came out on the great Strut label seven years ago and I missed it completely. It's raw garage latino jamz from the 60s & 70s. It's non-stop dancing time music to soothe the soul. Apparently this combines tunes from the two big Haitian scenes of the day, the Twoubadou & Compas scenes. Not being au-fait with music from Haiti one iota all I can say is if you love your French Caribbean, Peruvian, Columbian & Panamanian music of the same era you are bound to dig this. For those musicology minded Twoubadou is a guitar based latin music that fuses Méringue and Cubano Guajiro genres. Compas is a scaled down style of Méringue that literally means beat. Compas music was made by the small bands or mini jazz combos that were the happening thing in the mid 60s. No matter what, you know it's gonna be killer grooves all the way. In isolation of course, perhaps you and your loved one/s should get a shindig started by raiding the liquor cabinet or partaking of something more mind enhancing. Then push back the table, put on your dancing shoes and cut the rug.


Cadence Revolution: Disques Debs International Vol. 2Various
Now this one was released just a couple of months back on Strut and it's killer Afro-Latin grooves. If you loved Disques Debs International Vol. 1 from last year you are gonna love this too. It's actually just a continuation of the Disques Debs International label's output as it picks up where Volume 1 left off  at the end of 1972. Cadence Revolution is once again put together by legendary compilation curator extraordinaire Hugo Mendez and features many of the label's best tunes from 1973-1981. This is more fabulous latin jamz, this time from Guadeloupe and Martinique in the French Caribbean. This compilation focuses on the Cadence sound which was a creole melting pot of genres such as compas, salsa, biguine, Dominican influences, Congolese styles, quadrille, gwo ka, reggae etc. It's just good vibes all round and you know what do do once the needle hits the groove on this baby. It's party time to forget about COVID-19 for a moment. Apparently there is going to be one more compilation in this series so I can't wait for that!


The Ranil Stay Safe & Sound Selection - Ranil
If you've been following Analog Africa on social media you will know they have been dropping one tune per day from this fantastic little compilation for the last ten days on bandcamp. They are giving out the love in these horrifying and weird times by giving away this compilation of Ranil tunes for free. You can also donate however much you like and they are going to put that money into a Peruvian health charity. Raúl Llerena Vásquez aka Ranil is a mysterious and fiercely independent musician from the isolated city of Iquitos which is surrounded by the Amazonian wilderness in Peru. Iquitos is the largest metropolis in the world that cannot be reached by road. Ranil's info online is pretty sketchy although he does appear on three Peruvian chica/cumbia compilations that I have. On Discogs they have some of his records listed but no dates for most of them. I'm assuming most of what is compiled here is from the 60s and 70s. Ranil plays his own idiosyncratic style of cumbia that is a latin-psych delight to the ears. Effervescence for your feet and body.


Ranil y su Conjunto Tropical - Ranil
Once you've heard the above freebie you'll have to get this one. It's another recent Ranil compilation from the great Analog Africa label. Cumbia party time to forget the bad time. Deep Peruvian twangin-psych-grooves of the Amazonian Gods!

Friday, 27 March 2020

Marc Acardipane Feat. Marshall Masters - Stereo Murder (Perc Remix) 2020


Just in time for the Corona Virus. 2017 may not have delivered Apocalypse-wise but 2020's giving it a good crack! First Australia was on fire before the year even began and it lasted for months. Meanwhile the US assassinated some Iranian bloke Qasem. Next Iran retaliated causing 110 Americans brain injuries but no deaths. Strangely World War 3 didn't eventuate. Then a virus COVID 19 spread like wildfire in China but they withheld this information from the world for a while and by the time the cat was out of the bag it was too fucking late. The virus is in every corner of the globe now and could potentially kill over a billion people! Isn't that great news? So why not get off yer fuckin head and get into the delightful hardcore gloom & doom sounds of legend Marc Acardipane before your body shuts down and dies, all in self-isolation of course. Maybe this is your last chance to gleefully spit in the face of the abyss that awaits us all. By the way this is an incredible remix. Jolly good tune.

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

Throbbing Gristle

GRISTLEVISION*




*Stole that title from Simon Reynolds' piece on TG & Industrial here

Saturday, 14 March 2020

Mo movies - March

RECENTLY RE/WATCHED


Jaws (1975)
SPOILER ALERT. I hadn't seen this for over 20 years and couldn't remember a thing about it so I thought I'd give it a whirl considering Emma bought me a Jaws t-shirt the other day. Amity Island has a killer shark roaming its beaches. How are they going to combat this commerce/people killing machine. The best part of the film is when it's just Brody, Quint and Hooper in a vessel out at sea to battle the Great White. Some very cool spectacular shit happens plus a ye olde drunken sailor sing along and eventually BOOM! there goes the shark. Robert Shaw as Quint the old salt and the shark as The Shark are the two outstanding creatures here. I will now wear my t-shirt with pride.


The Witness aka 목격자 (2018)
This was a first time watch for me as I only came across it one Sunday arvo on Stan. I'd never even heard of it. It's beginning to sound like a cliche but the South Koreans have done it again: This is a masterpiece. The Witness is where the serial killer thriller sub-genre is turned on its head. As I've said before eventually these films will be called Tangent movies and this one is no exception, many a tangent is gone off on. It never loses its pacing or entertainment value though. In fact it just keeps gaining in intrigue right up until the mortifying climax. Sang-Hoon (Lee Sung-min) witnesses a murder in his apartment complex but the killer Tae-ho (Kwak See-yang) sees him up in his sixth floor window. Sang-Hoon thinks he's going to be next on the killer's hit list so he doesn't report the crime to police. This is probably not the best of moves as shit soon hits the fan. Sang-Hoon is an infuriatingly spineless but believable character. Look out for a sterling performance from Kim Sang-ho as Detective Jae-Yeob. Kudos to the cast and crew who collectively pull off a piece of astonishing cinema. Totally recommended.


Big Bad Wolves (2013)
Excellent Israeli movie. You don't hear that sentence too often do you? This is some kind of violent crime/horror film. The plot here goes off in many unexpected directions and it's wonderful, darkly comic and brutally violent. A young male teacher is accused of paedophelia. The cops try to beat a confession out of  him but to no avail then things go apeshit. Who are the good guys? Who are the bad guys? Who's this bloke on a horse? Big Bad Wolves is a shocking tale executed to perfection. Creepy Israeli revenge horror anyone?


The Man With Two Brains (1983)
I was feeling very ill during the watching of this so I haven't got a hell of a lot to say except that this silly sci-fi comedy is pretty funny and even the occasional dated un-PC jokes are even funnier. Kathleen Turner is fabulous as the raunchy gold digger Dolores BenedictSteve Martin was on a remarkable roll back in the late 70s/early 80s. It might be time to revisit teen favourites Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid (1982) and The Jerk (1979).


The Chaser aka 추격자 (2008)
Is this South Korean cinema's darkest film? It's certainly unrelentingly grim and horrific but it's still incredible film-making. This is an absurdly frustrating flick as the inept cops don't do their jobs properly and keep making things way way worse. A scumbag ex-cop turned pimp Eom Joong-ho suspects someone is selling his girls into slavery so he's on the look out for this scumbag Je Yeong-min only to discover that this scumbag is a way worse scumbag than he ever could have imagined. There's a lot more of police procedural in The Chaser than in (ab)normal South Korean terrifying thrillers. Na Hong-jin made an auspicious debut feature here and has gone on to direct two other highly regarded movies The Yellow Sea (2010) and The Wailing (2016). The Chaser is a hell of an experience that you won't forget too soon. Grisly fun for all the family.

Funny Games (1997)
I thought I'd never seen this attempt at a deconstruction of a thriller but then soon disappointingly realised I had. This is a really boring home invasion movie that feels like it was made by a bunch of year 11 students in the 90s. These kids would have thought we're gonna blow people's minds man by talking to the camera, blurring reality and fiction, fucking with linear narrative and timelines etc. Haneke thinks he's being oh so provocative and meta (man) but this is just amateur, dull and lame bullshit. An attempt at an intellectual exercise that falls flat on it obvious and bland face. I can't believe how many so called smart people have been sucked in by this but then again... Anyway if you are looking for a mental scuzzy home invasion type of film check out Canada's Death Weekend (1976) directed William Fruet. This is actually thrilling, horrifying and exhilarating ie. it's a successful thriller.


BUT THEN TV SHOWS STOPPED THE MOVIE VIEWING.
BANSHEE (2013-2016), LODGE 49 (2018-2019), CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM (SEASON 10) & INSIDE No 9. (SEASON 5).

I got hooked on Banshee pretty quickly well I mean I'm seven years too late but whatever. I had to watch the entire first season with nothing else in-between. As I commented to KB Banshee is like primo 00s Alan Ball (an executive producer here) but like he's making an absurd ultra violent 11.30 pm time-slot 90s crime/action/cop show. A winning combo in my book. For others perhaps not. To put it another way it's like a HBO drama crossed with the aesthetics of Claws (2017- Corona Virus Panic). The finale of season one goes full Death Wish 3 (1985). Awesome trash.

Lodge 49 insidiously grabbed my attention and before I knew I'd watched the entire first season of that too. The key word of the moment in telly seems to be absurd and Lodge 49 isn't lacking in that department. This is treading a line between charming and stupid. It's a story of a small beach-side suburb where people's lives seem to be going nowhere but the mysterious Lodge 49 brings the disparate lives of the community together. I can't for the life of me figure out how it has managed to engage me for ten 40+ minute episodes. I have been watching it very late at night though...

I've been slowly working my way through season 5 of Inside No. 9 and season 10 of Curb. Saving and savouring each precious episode though. These two splendid shows are still the best telly has to offer.


Female Convict Scorpion: Beast Stable aka 女囚さそり けもの部屋 (1973)
Stop The Presses: MIND BLOWN! I've tried over the years to dig Japanese cinema but I just found much of it to be dull as fuck, just not for me. You can't like everything although I liked some stuff from the 70s, 80s & 90s that I saw on SBS-TV in the 90s which I only have vague recollections of now. Seijun Suzuki was the first Japanese director to make an indelible impression on me with the brilliant Tokyo Drifter (1966). Then I went through his filmography when the Melbourne International Film Festival held a retrospective of his work and down at the old video shop. Then I saw Hausu (1977) the fantastic off the wall cute psychedelic/comedy/horror directed by Nobuhiko Obayashi which is a work of pop art genius like no other. I didn't get into all that 90s/00s J-horror gear but hey maybe I need to give it another chance.

Female Convict Scorpion: Beast Stable is the third film in a series of four about Scorpion the female convict played by Meiko Kaji. It's a strange place to start but it's still a fucking good place. This has got be the most appealing style of film-making I've ever seen so thank-you director Shunya Itō for your rare and sublime aesthetic vision. Once again the epic scale of a greek tragedy clashes with pop culture exploitation to create a totally distinctive specimen of a movie. Scorpion aka Nami Matsushima aka Matsu breaks free from detective Kondo (Mikio Narita) in a jaw dropping moment of cinema. She eventually finds refuge with a prostitute Yuki and her mentally challenged brother. A game of cat and mouse ensues between Nami, the cops and Nami's nemesis Katsu (Reisen Lee) amongst taboo sex, brutal violence, nightmarish horror, surrealism and ethereal sequences. The adult themes are of the disturbing and very adult variety. Make no mistake though this is a cinematic masterpiece. I am curious now to see what else is waiting out there for me amongst the hundreds of Japanese exploitation films and whether they'll be this captivating?


Katalin Varga (2009/06)
This is a rural revenge film of the highest order. Right out of the gate the setting and cinematography (Márk Györi) here are fucking breathtaking. What a tone that sets for this utterly exquisite and idiosyncratic piece of cinema. The sound design (Gábor ifj. Erdélyi & György Kovács) and soundtrack are in complete harmony with the vision, narrative and atmosphere. This has got to be one of the best sound designed films ever. A soundtrack featuring Nurse With Wound, Roj, Xylitol, Steven Stapleton & Geoff Cox, David Tibet, The Csavas Band, Alan Burbridge, Sonic Catering Band, Adam Bohman etc. is a subterranean music lovers delight. To add to the peculiar tone Peter Strickland, an Englishman, directed this film in foreign languages he didn't understand. Katalin (Hilda Péter) is banished from her home and village as her husband discovered their child Orbán (Norbert Tankó) is not his. So Katalin and Orbán set out on a crusade for revenge somewhere in the exotic Carpathian Mountains in Romania. An extraordinary low budget DIY cinematic feat.


Shirkers (2018)
A bunch of young and naive film lovers become film-makers (Sandi Tan, Jasmine Ng & Sophia Siddique) along with an older male mentor (Georges Cardona) and make a movie in Singapore in the early 90s. The film was called Shirkers. These upstarts were set for world domination with their punk-ish and quirky DIY debut feature film. One day though, the film canisters disappeared along with their fellow film-maker Georges Cardona. In this documentary Sandi Tan, a unique and rambunctious individual, reveals a strange and mysterious story that will have you intrigued and probably infuriated for the duration of the movie. What happened to the film? Can it be rescued? Who was Cardona really? Was the movie actually any good? What has happened to this trio of ladies in the last 25 years? Some of these questions will be answered while you watch this fascinating 25 year journey. I recommend.


Lady Snowblood aka 修羅雪姫 (1973)
After watching Female Convict Scorpion: Beast Stable (1973) the other day I finally had to track down the most famous film starring Meiko Kaji Lady Snowblood. Perhaps I shouldn't have watched them so close together as I was comparing film styles way too much instead of just going with the flow of this film. It was like comparing MBV to Gang of Four. Two brilliant innovative bands who are nothing alike. Anyway Lady Snowblood turned out to be astounding anyway. This is where the Shakespearian Japanese folklore meets the absurdity of pop culture and it's irresistible. Splattered and spurting with ketchup coloured blood this is vengeance of the most fun variety although it's done with a serious straight-faced tone which makes it all the more glorious. Yuki Kashima (Meiko Kaji) is born in 1874 with a legacy to hunt down and kill three people who tormented and ruined her mother's life. From the age of eight Yuki is rigorously trained in the art of sword-fighting so by the time she is a young lady she is a flawless and ruthless assassin. Let the shenanigans begin. Will Yuki aka Lady Snowblood be able to fulfil the brutality expected of her? This is a great Japanese flick based on a Manga series. Oh and Quentin Tarantino ripped off swathes of this movie wholesale for his Kill Bill shows. Don't let that put you off though Lady Snowblood is a hundred times better than those empty homage flicks. Essential viewing.


Green Fish aka 초록 물고기 (1997)
If you are curious about the rise of South Korean cinema in the 21st century look no further than this right here. South Korea was so cool that they had a film director in their ministerial cabinet. Novelist and film director Lee Chang-dong was the minister of Culture in the early 00s. He directed his first flick, this terrific little gangster film in 1997, just before the pop culture blockbuster phenomenon of Kang Je-gyu's Shiri (1999) ignited the current new wave of South Korean cinema. Green Fish is a charming, bittersweet and rough around the edges family drama/gangster movie. This is not the super-slick South Korean cinema we all know and love in 2020. The violence here is is so shonky it's almost at Dolemite (1975) levels. The story however is a lil bewdy which more than makes up for any shortcomings this movie might have. Mak-dong (Han Sook-Kyu) is discharged from military service. Whilst travelling back home on a train he becomes embroiled in the life of Mi-ae (Shim Hye-jin) a gangster's moll. The directionless Mak-dong ends up working for this gangster who goes by the name of Bae Tae-gon (Moon Sung-keun). Things then start to unravel in this uncertain, bewildering and disillusioned time despite an economic upturn. Look out for two unforgettable gangster death scenes one in a toilet and one on the windscreen of a car. Green Fish was an auspicious debut for Lee Chang-dong who has gone on to further acclaim directing another five films including Peppermint Candy (2000), Poetry (2010) and Burning (2018).


Confessions aka 告白 (2010)
21st century vengeance Japanese stylee. This is on the artier side of the revenge movie genre, much of which is informed by dance, movement and choreography, so it's not going to be for everyone as its not action packed. Confessions is a top shelf cerebral, dark, atypical and mental revenge tale. I am constantly amazed at the inventiveness of revenge stories in this day and age. You would think you'd seen and heard it all before by now but nope here is another slice of unique Asian revenge cinema. A high school teacher's child is murdered by some of her pupils, further incredible, grim and devastating events unfold from there.


Mother aka 마더 (2009)
One of only two Bong Joon-ho films I had seen previous to Parasite (2019). I don't know why I never followed up on his other movies in that 10 year gap. I think they just didn't sound like they'd be up me alley like Mother (2009) and Memories of A Murder (2003) were. Anyway I feel like there's a definite theme running through the last few blog posts. Here's another epic tale of tragedy and vengeance of the biblical proportions. Sophocles with cell phones. Yoon Do-joon (Won Bin) a mentally challenged young man is charged with the murder of schoolgirl Moon Ah-jung (Moon Hee-ra). Do-joon's Mother (Kim Hye-ja) knows he's innocent though, so she sets out on a mission to find out the real facts as the police and even her own lawyers are content to just lazily blame her son. Kim Hye-ja puts in a dazzling performance as Mother and Won Bin is impeccable. Bong Joon-ho and his cinematographer Hong Kyung-pyo were already at the peak of their superior powers here. Ten years later the American mainstream took notice. Mother is a 21st century classic.