Tuesday, 16 October 2018

More On Movies VIII

RECENTLY RE/WATCHED


Mr Majestyk (1974)
Classic. It's all about the ford cars, the double denim, the melon massacre, curtains with horsey patterns, the car chases, the hair and the stunning landscape of rural Colorado. Terrific Elmore Leonard screenplay perfectly realised. The pace and the tone were spot on. I believe this is now my fourth Charles Bronson film I like and this just might be my favourite. That's 4 out of 7 now, his average is growing. The soundtrack from Charles Bernstein is excellent up there with his other great scores White Lightning and The Entity. Why is Mr Majestyk not rated along with other 70s canonical shit? I get that director Richard Fleischer was old compared to the new Hollywood brats but hey so were Sam Peckinpah and John Huston. Perhaps it's the whole thing of auteur theory being valued above all else in film criticism particularly when it comes to American cinema in the 70s. Whatever.

The Last Run (1971)
The Last Run is an ok lil crime movie if a tad too slow. An ageing criminal getaway driver Harry (George C Scott) plans to retire after one last caper. Will he walk away cashed up and happy or will things go haywire? Spectacular Spanish setting.


The Tenant (1976)
The first time I saw this I thought it was silly, the second time I thought it was cool and this time I thought it was brilliant. Roman Polanski directs and acts in this psychological horror movie. Trelkovsky (Roman Polanski) moves into an apartment previously occupied by a suicide victim. Things get very bloody strange and Trelkovsky gradually becomes unhinged. This is a wonderful time capsule of Paris in the 70s that also stars Isabelle AdjaniThe Tenant is an amazing meditation on paranoia. The sense of unease created here is palpable. Quite possibly Polanski's best film.


Shivers aka They Came From Within (1975)
A parasite experiment gone wrong causes an epidemic of unstoppable orgy/rapey maniacs. There is some pretty deranged shenanigans going on in this film but it's also pretty funny. At the time of release this was an enormously controversial movie in Canada. It almost feels quaint now but it's still a transgressive  classic. David Cronenberg created one of the greatest ever final scenes in the history of cinema at the end of Shivers.


All The Colors Of The Dark aka Tutti I Colori Del Buio (1972)
I like Gialli with masks and black gloves but I also like it when they go unconventional and don't use them. This Sergio Martino movie is in the later category. Three icons of Gialli Edwige Fenech, George Hilton and Ivan Rassimov star. All The Colors Of The Dark is Jane Harrison's (Edwige Fenech) paranoiac nightmarish vision that includes car crashes, dead babies, satanic cults, black masses, a stalker with a knife and more. Excellent Bruno Nicolai score too.


Una Sull'Atra aka One On Top Of The Other aka Perversion Story (1969)
An incredible Lucio Fulci Giallo shot in San Francisco in the late 60s. Is this the only bona fide giallo to be shot in America? Top crime jazz score with occasional psych interludes from legendary composer Riz Ortolani! French actor Jean Sorel who is the star of my favourite Giallo Short Night Of Glass Dolls and the Buñuel classic Belle De Jour plays George a shonky doctor who ends up on death row. Is the dodgy doctor being framed for insurance fraud and murder or did he do it?  We've got double identities amongst some classic Giallo shit like inheritances, sexy shenanigans, police, sleaze, detectives, exquisite interior design, airports, people being drugged, photographers and even black gloves.


Mandy (2018)
You know you are in for something different if a movie starts out with a tune from prime 70s King Crimson. This is a fucking mental movie like a queasy bad acid trip. I dunno if I liked it but I didn't switch it off so I can't have hated it. In 1983 Red Miller (Nic Cage) and his girlfriend Mandy Bloom (Andrea Riseborough) are living off the grid somewhere in the wilderness but an absurd hippy Christian cult leader Jeremiah Sand (Linus Roache) has spotted Mandy. Jeremiah wants Mandy for himself but his seduction technique doesn't work so the cult wreak havoc upon the couple. That first half of this film is very bloody slow going but the second half is more compelling with Red seeking spectacular vengeance on the lysergically altered cult members. The saturated colour scheme used in this film would make Michael Powell, Mario Bava, Dario Argento, Marty Scorsese and Michael Mann proud. Mandy is some kind of arty cosmic black comedy action revenge horror film, that has instant cult status written all over it.

Mandy is a truly anomalous film. I really have never seen anything quite like it. The first film from Panos Costmatos Beyond The Black Rainbow was much more indebted to his influences ie. Kubrick, Lynch, Cronenberg, Tarkovsky etc. If that was his hypnogogic/vapourwave film Mandy is his prog rock/black metal movie. Seedy, unhealthy, gross, sickly, fantastical, icky, psychedelic, nightmarish, hallucinatory, languid, gory, feeble, uneasy, squeamish, nauseating, peculiar, queer and aberrant are all words that could be used to describe Mandy but I feel like we need some new language to elucidate more perfectly what this movie is like. Sorry, you'll just have to watch it but don't blame me if you hate it. Look out for the chainsaw sword fight plus tiger and big black insect. The late Johan Johannsson's gloomy drone score, which is frequently reminiscent of 90s post-rock legends Labradford and atmospheric black metal, is outstanding and this film would be nowhere without it.

Best score since Mica Levi's Under The Skin

Friday, 5 October 2018

More On Movies VII

RECENTLY RE/WATCHED



Short Eyes (1977)
I saw this in the 90s but totally forgot about it until I got a few minutes into the blu-ray. This obscure prison drama is a lost gem. A middle class white pedophile is chucked into a prison. Will he find his comeuppance while inside or have his flimsy case dropped? Short Eyes is very very realistic because they used actual criminals in the cast à la The Wire. Rough, hard boiled and highly recommended. Look out for Curtis Mayfield as an inmate.

At Close Range (1986)
Stan added this to their movie list the other day so I thought I'd give it a go. Turns out I had never seen it. At Close Range is pretty slow to the point of being boring. But it does star Sean & Chris Penn with Christopher Walken as their criminal low-life father. The soundtrack kept making me think it was gonna break out into a Madonna song, I thought I was just being mental until the final scene where it does break out into Live To Tell. An 80s curio worth a look if you dig the aforementioned actors and Mary Stuart Masterson, whatever happened to her? Oh....and Crispin Glover.

Deliverance (1972)
Had not seen this since I was a teenager. I must be conflating it with another movie because I thought there was going to be cannibalism along with the buggery rape. Deliverance is so well done it keeps you transfixed from the start right up until the very end. John Voight, wow! The rest of the cast are great too. Deliverance is a timeless masterpiece. I'm never going bush for the rest of my life. No canoeing for me thank-you.

48 Hrs. (1982)
Wow imagine if this film was released today? Imagine the think-pieces! 48 Hrs. is a sometimes entertaining buddy cop film with Eddie Murphy & Nick Nolte. Not as good as I remember....still...I remember Another 48 Hrs. being a lot worse. One for the nostalgists only.

North By North-West (1959)
Thoroughly entertaining conspiracy thriller from Alfred Hitchcock. It's a tad long innit? He most definitely could have trimmed some fat off here and there. North By North-West contains some of Alfred's most spectacular scenes, you know, the drunk driving, the crop-duster and Mount Rushmore scenes. A film that oozes cold war paranoia and nefarious tones.

Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (1978)
I was expecting to love this but er...it's just not my bag. Why it's much loved by twits and legends is lost on me. 70s remake of a 50s Sci-Fi horror flick. I liked the human dog things. I found the rest rather tedious for some reason despite the best efforts from Donald Sutherland, Brooke Adams and Jeff Goldblum plus an outstanding performance from Leonard Nimoy. Maybe if Cronenberg or Carpenter had directed it I might have liked it. I'll give it a year or so then give it a Space Debris reappraisal. It's mainly that me and sci-fi just don't get along anymore or maybe I was a bit grumpy.


In The Mouth Of Madness (1995)
This is the best movie that nobody ever says is the best movie. I remember going to see it in a cinema in Bourke St. Melbourne. Shout out to SJ who used to call me Philippa Hawker* because I was such an opinionated critic. Anyway we left this film saying 'What was that???'  but ultimately agreeing it was silly rubbish. Hey, I'm still perplexed but now I love it. The only other film that has any kind of parallels to this is Lost Highway. John Trent (Sam Neil) is hired to go find missing blockbuster horror author Sutter Kane which takes him on a journey to an apocalyptic non place and back again. In The Mouth Of Madness is a gripping film right from the get go and Sam Neil is at an acting apex. Quite possibly John Carpenter's finest hour.

Death In Brunswick (1990)
They were the days. Alright this one is a bit of a nostalgia trip for me but maybe it's a good film....I just dunno. It's all too close to my heart as I lived in Brunswick for most of the 90s. Good lil story and top performances from Sam Neil and Zoe Carriddes though. This was an instant cult classic in Melbourne at the time like Romper Stomper was. 

Prince Of Darkness (1987)
Kinda silly but funny satanic horror from John Carpenter. He's not at his best here but not at his absolute worst either. I'm not sure any of it makes a hell of a lot of sense but there are some truly memorable scenes. Death by half a bicycle, the chosen evil one's head is chopped off but she just grabs it and puts it back on, lots of gross spitting of evil liquid into each others mouths and Kelly & Catherine getting lost forever to the other side through a mirror. Then there's the great shared dream sequence that changes slowly in small increments throughout the movie. Donald Pleasance, Victor Wong and Dennis Dun are great but fuck me the rest of the cast suck. This feels rushed, a lost opportunity.

Blue Thunder (1983)
Is this the best action movie ever made? It's unbelievably impressive. Blue Thunder must have been such a dangerous film shoot. These helicopter stunts are mental. Warren Oates, Roy Scheider and Malcolm McDowell star in this OTT 80s action epic.

White Of The Eye (1987)
All I knew about this one was that it was a crime movie or maybe a slasher that was rated by the VHS nerds as a high watermark in batshit crazy film making. Halfway through I was nearly falling asleep but yeah I gotta say by the end I was thinking 'WTF?' I dunno if I liked it but the second half was so engaging and just fucking bizarre. What does it all mean? I'm not sure. I definitely have to watch it again then probably again after that. I'm not even gonna try and do a mini synopsis of White Of The Eye suffice to say whether it makes sense or not it's truly bonkers. I think it was based on a bestselling novel(?). This one is for the out there and cult film buffs.

I Spit On Your Grave (1978)
One I had to check off my list before I died. But did I? This is the most brutal movie I've ever seen. I Spit On Your Grave is the ultimate rape revenge movie which is totally compelling from start to finish. Only people who think they are hardcore need apply. I spit On Your Grave is a beautifully shot and tightly made film.


The Mechanic (1972)
Wait a minute here we have another Charles Bronson film I like. Sometimes I wish all movies were like this ie. plenty of action and crazy stunts that I'm pretty sure were seriously dangerous. Then you've got all the early 70s glamour of the beautiful interior design, houses, cars, fashions and hair. Not forgetting that the spectacular action is taking place in exquisitely shot exotic locations. Of all the Michael Winner films I've seen so far this is at the top.

Maniac (2012)
Very excellent cover version of the classic disturbing 1980 slasher Maniac. It's POV all the way from Elijah Wood's character Frank Zito. I can't remember if the original was like that or not. This is a primo example of how to do a remake. 2012's version might even be better than the original. Oh the Sacrilege. What will the VHS nerds say? Love the score from Rob too. Now I wanna watch the old Maniac. Which I remember being very creepy, perhaps a bit crap and maybe just a tad too unpleasant but with a great score.

Death Wish 3 (1985)
Vigilante shit is so satisfying innit? This is now the third Charles Bronson film I like. Charles Bronson goes OTT with his WW2 weaponry as he takes on a neighbourhood of young hooligans who are running amok in 80s NYC. I'm even thinking about watching the first Death Wish movie again just to see if maybe I'll like it this time. The freedom of being able to change your mind and not be a slave to a certain set of aesthetics is an exhilarating feeling.

What We Do In The Shadows (2014)
Totally missed this when it came out. It features 4 vampires from 4 different classic eras living in a share house in current day Wellington. New Zealand. Clever little light comedy that vampire fans will love and everybody else will get a laugh from. Hey, It's got Jermaine Clement and Rhys Darby from Flight of The Concords.

Maniac Cop 2 (1990)
Another spectacular horror/action hybrid written by Larry Cohen and directed by Bill Lustig. The indestructible Maniac Cop Mathew Cordell befriends a serial killer who specialises in the murder of strippers. Look out for remarkable scenes of Cordell attacking others whilst being fully on fire amongst an array of other memorable scenes. This is where the style meets the sleaze and creates riveting entertainment.

Hereditary (2018)
Another mega mix pastiche horror film. This movie doesn't know what it is.  Don't waste your time on this bollocks. The berserk swelling drones of the score were very fucking cool though. Best soundtrack of 2018?

Mother (2017)
Oh dear....anyone wanna be sledgehammered to death with a biblical and climate change allegory? I'm pretty sure this an insult to my intelligence and yours.

Maniac (1980)
Onya once again Bill Lustig. The original Maniac is way better than I remember (I love it when that happens). Joe Spinell is so fucking great as the creepy yet charismatic serial killer Frank Zito. Frank has a variant of agalmatophilia where his mannequins have to have human scalps, hair included. I've gotta say this movie is also excellent like the remake and not one bit crap as speculated above. None of this is POV, so the 2012 version of Maniac is quite different but still very faithful to the original story. Joe Spinell should have been bigger than Jack Nicholson. The score is still in top 10 territory for me, onya Jay Chattaway. Maniac goes into to the Space Debris movie hall of fame!


* Philippa Hawker was a critic and a sex/relationships columnist for The Age newspaper in Melbourne during the 90s or was it The Australian?

**I'm aware of the run-on sentences but hey I'm mentally rusty and it's a blog.

Monday, 17 September 2018

More On Movies VI

RECENTLY RE/WATCHED


Over The Edge (1979?)
Before Harmonie Korine and Larry Clark put real kids in movies there was Over The Edge, one of the cultiest of the cult films. Bad town planning leads to a bunch of bored kids running amok in a new housing estate with dire consequences. This is the third or fourth time I've seen the movie and it keeps gaining in my estimation, in fact it's quite an astonishing film. The teen actors are fucking amazing. There's some choice tunes on the soundtrack from Cheap Trick, The Cars, The Ramones etc. Why isn't this in those (hilarious) top 100 canonical film lists?* One of the greatest films of the 70s.

Notting Hill (1999)
OMFG! Two of the worst hours of my life. I would rather have listened to Celine Dion's entire discography than watch this tripe. Emma hated it way more than I did.

Scream For Help (1984)
Totally weird movie. It's a bit like a Disney film gone demented. A seventeen year old girl tells us she suspects her stepdad is out out to kill her mother then the movie unfurls from there. Scream For Help is an absurdly melodramatic horror film that's strangely compelling, at least for its duration anyway. Michael Winner of Death Wish fame directs.

Savage Streets (1984)
Pretty nuts rape revenge flick. Made by an ex-hardcore porn director. If you need to see Linda Blair have a bitch fight in a crowded gym shower, kill a man with a crossbow, lie in a bath with her ample bosom on display and set someone on fire then Savage Streets is for you. Mucho John Farnham on the soundtrack doing what sounds like power metal(?).

The Second Gun (1973)
Golden Globe nominated documentary on the RFK assassination. Why isn't the world obsessed with this case? The evidence against Sirhan Sirhan just does not add up.

The Stone Killer (1973)
This has everything I like about 70s movies: Bad cops, cesspool NYC, seedy LA, cars chasing motorbikes, hippies in the desert, trumpet playing bisexual drug dealers, Vietnam vets, people opening fridges upon dying, the mafia, dangerous stunts and a brilliant Roy Budd soundtrack. So why was it so unsatisfying? It's like they chucked in all the cool 70s ingredients plus the kitchen sink but forgot to add a good story or anything to mesh it together. Worth watching at least once though if you're a 70s crime film buff or Charles Bronson fan.

Coffy (1973)  
Now this what the 70s is all about. The revenge, the clothes, the Pam Grier, the cars, the interior design, the cinematography, the script, the acting and the pacing. It's all perfect. There's a reason Coffy is a bone fide cult classic. Still number one blaxploitation flick, for me, with Superfly coming in second closely followed by Truck Turner.


Foxy Brown (1974)
This really could have been a sequel to Coffy. It's another 70s revenge film starring Pammy and directed by Jack Hill, see above. Foxy Brown is slightly more grim though as Pam goes through some major abuse before gaining vengeance this time. Quality Blaxploitation. Just a quality movie actually. Not for the faint of heart.

The Ambulance (1990)
I'd never seen Larry Cohen's 1990 quirky thriller The Ambulance. Remember when films didn't have to blow your mind or change your life? All you needed was a good little story and some good cinematic shit to entertain you for 90 minutes? A mysterious vintage ambulance is picking up sick people off the streets of NYC who then disappear. Look out for Victor Newman from Young and The Restless as very creepy doctor. Good fun stuff.

Drive-In Massacre (197?)
I came across this on the youtubes one night when I couldn't sleep. I don't even think I'd ever heard of it. It starts out great with the gory murders of a frisky couple in their car at the Drive-In but then oh boy.....

Maniac Cop (1988)
Never bothered to watch this before but after hearing director Bill Lustig on the fabulous Supporting Characters Podcast I thought I'd give it a go. Maniac Cop's written by the aforementioned Larry Cohen. Very entertaining movie about an indestructible ex-cop serial killer in NYC toward the end of the cesspool era. Top score from Jay Chattaway too.

The Mack (1973)
Still on my blaxploitation kick. Here's another top 10 Space Debris entry, probably number four or five. The version with the Willie Hutch score of course, which is one of the great funky soundtracks. The Mack is dark yet sometimes goofy as it dips in and out of different tones on a whim. Goldie (Max Julien) gets out of jail and sets his sights on becoming the number one player 'the king of the pimps' but there are many people in his way including his conscientious 'right on' brother, his old boss plus a couple of knucklehead cops. A lot of it feels real because it must be improvised. Worth watching for the fashions alone...oh and not forgetting Richard Prior and the cars and...

The Naked Kiss (1964)
Haven't watched Samuel Fuller films since the 90s at the Melbourne Cinematheque. This crime drama takes on taboo matters that films rarely do today. The script, pacing, story, tone, acting and the kids bad singing are all on point. The Naked Kiss is terrific stuff from the original director to lift the lid on small town America to reveal its seedy underbelly.

Messiah Of Evil (1973)
OK my obsession with this film continues. I know I've mentioned it before but I've just watched it for the umpteenth time. I reckon David Lynch was probably influenced by this along with Silent Night, Bloody Night, Samuel Fuller movies etc. Messiah of Evil just has the best atmosphere ever created in a film. You feel like you are in the windy, creepy seaside town of Point Dune. Just about every scene is iconic, inexplicable or totally memorable. The small town Americana of supermarkets, movie theatres, gas stations etc. is caught with an eye to put you at great unease. The sound design and Philllan Bishop's electronic score all add to the eerie one of a kind tone captured in this movie. More mystifying than ever.

Hickey & Boggs (1972)
I thought I'd seen everything the 70s had to offer on film but hell no. Robert Culp, that's Bill Maxwell from Greatest American Hero to you and me, directs his only feature film. Hickey & Boggs is one of the best private eye films ever. Bill Cosby is tremendous as Al Hickey, he should have been nominated for an academy award. Culp does a bloody good job acting too as his Hickey's partner Frank Boggs. This movie is meticulously directed. Robert Culp had major talent in that department and could have gone on to an illustrious career but that was not to be. The Kino Lorber blu-ray made me feel like I was in the cinema in 1972 on opening night, it's beautiful. Walter Hill wrote the script, need I say more. This film is an absolute revelation.


Get Carter (1971)
Still perfection. Brutal British revenge film of the highest order. Michael Caine is at an extraordinary peak of acting prowess as the charming yet menacing Jack Carter. Get Carter is a snapshot of Britain in the early 70s. It's cold, grim, wet and nasty. I love the way the pub, architecture and urban squalor are captured on film. The Roy Budd score is fantastic too.

Blue Collar (1978)
Writer of Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Rolling Thunder and director of American Gigolo, Hardcore, Comfort Of Strangers Paul Schrader may well be a miserable bastard but he is one woke motherfucker. Blue Collar is just as meaningful and pertinent to today as it was forty years ago. A central theme is how the establishment divides and conquers the people to retain stasis and power. Three hard working car factory dudes decide to stage a robbery to stick it to the man but they get way in over their heads. This is quite possibly a perfect film. There's no fat in the script, acting or direction. Special mention must go to Richard Prior for an outstanding performance as Zeke. Hey, Harvey Kietel as Jerry and Yaphet Kotto as Smokey are terrific too. The blue spray paint lock in scene has got to be one of the grimmest ever caught on celluloid. An incredible directorial debut from Schrader.

Breaking In (1989)
You might think 'Oh really a Burt Reynolds movie from the late 80s?' but this is a little gem of a film. Breaking In is a tight, low key crime film of considerable charm. John Sayles wrote the script. Bill Forsyth directed. Burt plays an ageing career criminal who is interrupted during a house break in by another bloke who is also breaking in, the story unfolds from there. Highly recommended. RIP Burt.

The Fog (1980)
Funny little ghost story slasher movie about a sinister fog that encroaches on the seaside town of Antonio Bay. John Carpenter creates a fabulously gloomy atmosphere with sound and vision. It gets particularly exciting when he amps up the the pounding doomcore score. Special mention must go to Adrienne Barbeau's hair. Is this the only film to star Jamie Lee Curtis alongside her mommy Janet Leigh?

Sole Survivor (1983)
Wow what a load of crap. I've gotta stop listening to the VHS nerds. Fell asleep in the last 20 minutes....enough said.

Straight Time (1978)
70s crime movie gold right here folks. This is a masterpiece. Can you go wrong with Dustin Hoffman, Harry Dean Stanton and Gary Busey as your trio of crappy robbers? Well yeah you probably could but all performances are understated and spot on. It also stars Theresa Russell and a young Kathy Bates. Perhaps the most outstanding performance though is from M Emmet Walsh who plays Max's (Dustin Hoffman) cunt of a payroll officer Earl. Look out for spectacular scene of Max handcuffed and dacked in the middle of a freeway!

The Long Good Friday (1980)
The second best British gangster film behind that one mentioned above. The Long Good Friday's got the lot: Mental criminals with a nostalgia for a lost Britain, a gay bathhouse murder, Helen Mirren, car bombings, the IRA, pub bombings, the Mafia, Helen Mirren's hair, racism, sexual tension, brutal violence, Bob Hoskins taking a shower and betrayal. It's all set to the backdrop of London's late 70s decrepit docks. The soundtrack from Prog Rock/Library Music legend Francis Monkman** is ace too.



*
**

Thursday, 13 September 2018

Found In The Supermarket



Heard this in the supermarket the other day which was quite odd but it made my day. You don't hear bands like this on oldies radio here in Australia but somebody cool must have been programming the muzak airwaves at Woolies the other day. Pretty sure this did not trouble the Australian charts whatsoever.



Then it was followed by this which I'm pretty sure was not a top 40 hit in Australia either (only made it to number 155 for God's sake). Jesus it only just scraped into the UK top 40 peaking at number 39! Strange (great) days at the supermarket.

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

More On Movies V


The Hitcher (1986)
Rutger Hauer is John Ryder a Psychopathic hitchhiker on the desert highway who gets picked up by the young Jim Halsey played by C Thomas Howell. The shit then hit the fan for the rest of this horrific thriller. Chuck in guns, knives, blown up gas stations, severed finger fries, a dog eating a dead cop and a bad arse Jennifer Jason Leigh as Nash and 'voila!' you've got yourself an 80s horror road movie classic. All round impeccable performances and film making.

Cockfighter (1974)
I'm looking forward to Kier-La Janisse's monograph on Cockfighter because as many times as I've seen it I'm not sure I fully understand it. On the one hand it's about the brutal bloodsport of cockfighting and on the other it's a love story apparently(?). Of course Monte Hellman directs legends Warren Oates, Harry Dean Stanton, Laurie Bird, Patricia Pearcy and Richard B Shull in this strange film. He captures with masterful skill the social intricacies of an underground subculture, where the backwoods hustlers and deadbeats roam in nowheresville USA.

The Conjuring (2013)
Mr Wan has been quite prolific hasn't he? This was the first of the Conjuring/Annabelle franchise and the second time I've watched it. I wish it had more of the Annabelle doll, as the scene with the ghostbuster's little daughter and Annabelle was my favourite bit. It tips its hat to several horror classics like The Exorcist and Amityville Horror. The Mrs loved it saying 'Very scary but the very limits of good scary'.

Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me (2012)
Another day another rock doc. You either love Big Star or you've never heard of 'em. So you're either gonna hate these whinny depressives, discover a great new band for yourself or remember why you love Big Star in the first place. Kim Salmon, Rowland S Howard, This Mortal Coil and The Replacements all alerted me to Big Star in the 80s but I guess it was Teenage Fanclub's fans who were djs on Melbourne's 3PBS and 3RRR who eventually made me buy their albums in the early 90s.

Annabelle (2014)
I've watched these all out of order but it doesn't really matter I don't think. Scary Annabelle doll causes destruction once again, this time on a young couple and their new baby plus their priest and a friendly neighbour. Throw in some maniacal satanic cult members on a killing spree, paranormal events, demons and you've got yourself an el cheapo horror mega-blockbuster. Don't go looking for impeccable historical detail in the set design, hairdos, speech, timeline etc. but I guess you're not watching this for the period detail are you? It's not exactly The Crown.

The Thin Blue Line (1988)
Fascinating Errol Morris true crime documentary from the 80s. A cop gets shot and drifter Randall Harris is convicted of the crime. I don't know the full history of true crime documentaries, so forgive my ignorance, but is this the first film to help overturn a sentence? If this wasn't real you might think some kooky director has assembled this bizarre cast of characters (detectives, witnesses, lawyers etc.) for a mockumentary. Director Errol Morris was previously a detective and he goes through a bunch of different scenarios of how this crime may have been committed. Interesting fact: Due to use of re-enactments The Thin Blue Line wasn't eligible for Oscar nominations in the best documentary category. 

Calibre (2018)
Gripping rural horror from go to woah. This is set in the highlands of Scotland and it goes from dark to darker to darkest. It's astonishing film-making. The tension created is visceral, I felt the torment of protagonist Vaughn. Suffice to say I had to watch two episodes of Curb Your Enthusiasm immediately afterward. Best movie of 2018?

Rituals (1977)
Fantastic Canadian rural horror. A bunch of grumpy middle aged Doctors go bush for a bit of boys only camping in the isolated Canadian wilderness. These five doctors are dropped off by plane into an eerie unforgiving terrain. Their boots go missing and the mystery and terror spin out of control from there. Top horrifying story skilfully captured on film with actoring of the high quality.


Skip Tracer (1977)
More gold from Canada in the 70s here. I'm pretty sure this a a masterpiece of filmmaking from the great pacing, the tone, the terrific acting that encapsulates the sociopathic and desperate nature of the characters, the cinematography that captures the gritty urban atmosphere and the soundtrack. A gifted repo man takes on an underachieving newcomer as his helper. Nastiness leads to violence which leads to indignity that leads to remorse...er...it's also kinda funny.

The Conjuring 2 (2016)
Way too long. The Conjuring 2 should have been cut down by at least 40 minutes. Some very cool funny supernatural scares. It's worth a look if you've enjoyed the other movies in The Conjuring/Annabelle series.

Insidious (2010)
More James Wan. The first in The Insidious series of which there are four now. Some prefer this franchise to the The Conjuring/Annabelle/The Nun continuum.  Insidious is a horror movie pastiche mega mix. Too much going on in this one, I reckon. Some excellent jump scares though plus great performances from Rose Byrne, Barbara Hershey and particularly Lin Shaye.

Amanda Knox (2016)
Pretty poor documentary on this sensational case. We've been spoilt with great true crime documentaries recently ie. The Staircase, Making A Murderer, Evil Genius etc. but this film doesn't come close to those . Despite having interviews with a lot of the main players in this case they don't go deep into the details of the trials. They hardly examine what they think may have even occurred. Don't bother with this, it's bullshit.

Body Melt (1993)
I thought I'd never seen this but hang on I have. Legendary Australian writer/thinker/artist/musician Philip Brophy directs his one and only feature film. Dare I say early David Cronenberg, Larry Cohen or pre-Hollywood Peter Jackson? Body Melt is a satire that indulges the highbrow with the low. Body Melt's got plenty of gross exploding body parts to make you feel queasy. Hey, it's got Gerard Kennedy, Lisa McCune plus Harold from Neighbours. This one's for the horror fanatics looking for the deep cuts/future cult movies.

Nerve (2016)
Fantastic premise. A teenage girl gets caught up in glitz and glamour of a social media dare game. I was gripped to me seat as Nerve goes along perfectly right up until the end really. This is a story that's new and deserves your attention despite what you may think of the ending.

Ritual (2017)
Four British dudes go hiking in the wilderness of northern Sweden. What could go wrong? Well quite a lot plus monster.

Nighthawks (1981)
Surprisingly Nighthawks is a really enjoyable OTT 80s terrorist thriller starring Sylvester Stallone and Rutger Hauer. NYC captured once again in that great cesspool era. Muggings, disguises, knife wielding hoods, department store bombings, Subway chases, machine guns, ariel tram catastrophes, helicopters, busses driving into rivers all culminate in a movie that scoots along at a frantic pace with no chance of you ever getting bored. Great soundtrack too.

First Blood (1982)
Ted Koetcheff sets an incredible tone right from the start of this film. A mentally fucked up Vietnam veteran loses the plot and wreaks havoc on a small town and it's police force. First Blood is more heavy handed than I remember and just really fucking depressing. You've all seen it, you don't need me to tell you whether it's a masterpiece or not.

Rollercoaster (1977)
Epic opening scene of a fun park that culminates in a spectacular rollercoaster crash. Fabulous performances from George Segal and the incomparable Timothy Bottoms. The brilliant arty glitter rockers Sparks make a live appearance doing Big Boy. Bottoms is a terrorist who is holding a bunch of Theme Parks at ransom. Slow but suspenseful movie that features beautiful cinematography of amusement parks. Perhaps with half an hour of fat removed it may have become a classic instead of a curio.

The Real Manchurian Candidate (????)
For those of you who are obsessed with the girl in the polka dot dress and the RFK assassination this one is for you and you only. If you're into this case you know it's way cooler than his big brother's. There's been a bunch of stuff lately on the RFK conspiracy theory ie. The RFK Tapes podcast, episode 4 of the not so great docuseries Bobby Kennedy For President on Netflix and a couple of months ago film maker/true crime historian Shane O'Sullivan uploaded this jewel of a video to youtube. It's basically Dr. Daniel Brown and Sirhan Sirhan's lawyer Laurie Dusek talking for over an hour on what they have recently gleaned from talking to RFK's convicted killer. Very inter-esting!

Birdemic: Shock And Terror (2010)
This event has been waiting in the wings (sorry actually meant that pun) for years and I finally did it. I sat through the entire Birdemic. My back being out and being off me lil head on painkillers helped. Hey, it was rather entertaining, especially once the Birds arrived. This is a 'WTF? Movie' or a 'Batshit Crazy film' or whatever other term you may use for this type of film. I guess it's a porno quality disaster/horror movie that was made in earnest but is unintentionally funny, so the theory goes. The only way I'm going to able to portray what this show is all about is to show one of the more exciting scenes from the film (er... don't be fooled by the trailer though which makes Birdemic look 100 times better than it actually is).



Saturday, 11 August 2018

Miles



He still Miles ahead. I remember seeing this on the telly 20 years ago. For those who love their Miles Davis from Bitches Brew through to his mid 70s retirement period.



Now I'd never seen until the other night and fuck me it's pure gold. There are some truly off the wall transcendental moments during this concert. He is still the future. I never tire of electronic Miles. If you have those Miles LPs from the 70s Get Up With it, Live/Evil, Big Fun, Agharta, Dark Magus etc. you'll recognise certain passages here. Diggin on those fashions too.

Sunday, 5 August 2018

Jungle Mix



Pearsall from sonicrampage never lets you down with his jungle mixes. This one's called Rolled In The Jungle (Summer Ready Jungle Mix) All Killer No Filler. Just in time for a beautiful & unseasonably warm day in the North-West of Victoria down here in the Antipodes. Loving it...ooh that segue from DJ Krust's Poison to Origin Unknown's Mission Control, nice. Many a mid 90s legend here ie. Goldie, Foul Play, Babylon Timewarp, Tom & Jerry, Dillinja, Run Tings, Roni Size etc. Pearsall presents an Amen-free zone full of rugged soul, ambient drum'n'bass and tough breaks. He's mixing it up with some big tunes and a sprinkling of lesser known trax, all choice cuts. As the brief states Rolled In Sunshine is pretty much all rollers in that exquisite transitional zone before jungle splintered and either got too smooth, too harsh or too boring.

Big ups to Pearsall!



A sweet spot for me is when the jungle gets dubby and Poison certainly does that with a choice bit of sampled(?) reggae.  


The unmistakable sounds of Origin Unknown. Mission Control is pretty minimal and dubby too. A sumptuous trip into a long dark tunnel, know what I mean? 

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Nice Strong Arm - Reality Bath

BLOG POST REDUX


Now here's a record that is truly lost. Nobody talks about it, it's forgotten. It's in my record collection and I've barely considered it as anything. I was reading a blog (sorry forgotten the name) the other day and there it was with a little spiel and a dead download link from like 7 years ago. In Melbourne in the early 90s I picked up a stack of records on the Homestead label for next to nothing in a bargain bin . Live SkullUT, Great Plains etc. I'd heard or heard of those bands but I'd not heard of these guys, I bought it anyway (probably due to the cover). It sat alongside my Live Skull record as a good noisy LP but it couldn't really compete with you know who, could it? So it rarely got played. Well that's what I thought.


So I pulled out Nice Strong Arm's Reality Bath after over 20 years of ignoring it and guess what? It's a little lost gem from the 80s underground. They obviously loved their Joy Division and MX80 Sound. They didn't sound unlike their peers Flipper, Bailter Space etc. Nice Strong Arm also predate/influenced Pavement, Trumans Water, Unwound and in particular Polvo. Looking through what info I could find on the interweb, one common criticism aimed at the group is that their songs were directionless. They're songs are definitely not directionless. Like Throwing Muses circa mid/late 80s Nice Strong Arm's guitars just took a different route to the rest. The guitars turn down strange paths exploring uncharted nooks and crannies, then new harmolodic vistas open up seemingly out of nowhere. This is the most compelling aspect of the band. You get the feeling the critics and public alike (including myself) missed the point. Sure the name Nice Strong Arm has got to be one of the most pox names ever for a group, so that can't have helped their chances. They moved from Austin to New York after this album and recorded 2 more records before breaking up in 1990 which is all news to me. Reality Bath never got issued on cd and isn't even a cult record as far as I can tell.

*I wrote this piece back in Jan 2014 but only just discovered the full LP on youtube the other day. So this time you can actually have a listen to what I'm talking about. It still hasn't been reissued since the 80s but there are a couple of copies going cheap on discogs. Snap one up before the Reality Bath cult begins.

Friday, 6 July 2018

Giallo & The Movie Posts


Six or seven years ago I explored Giallo movies beyond what I'd discovered in the 90s ie. Dario Argento videos and stuff that would screen on SBS TV. I undertook an intense investigation of the genre and watched like 90 or 95. Giallo films in less than that amount of days. There are still many I have yet to view which excites me a little. I filled a 100 page A4 notebook with all my reviews and thoughts and whatever. It was a private little hobby I had while I was going through a severe depression. My relationship with the genre was a total love/hate thing. I came up with some kind of equation along the lines that somewhere between 31 & 37 percent of these films were worthwhile, actually it may have been less than that. More like 21%. The soundtracks however are usually always fucking fantastic. I ended up overdosing on this whole film style. I went off Argento quite a bit in favour of Umberto Lenzi, Luigi Cozzi, Sergio Martino & Mario Bava and the other dudes that only directed one or two Gialli.


At that time my blog was a purely a music one. I didn't know what I was going to do with my Giallo knowledge and that notebook. I thought about sprucing it all up and perhaps doing something serious with it but it was rather polemical and who wants that? So I forgot about it for a year or two. One day, I then thought, fuck it I'll just put up the writings on a separate blog under a different pseudonym. I did a quick search of the net to find there was already some fabulous material on Giallo films out there. Two outstanding pieces of work in particular. First was Samm Deighan's terrific Giallo Blog Series to be found on her Satanic Pandemonium website. The second was a paper, written by Michael Mackenzie from The University Of Glasgow, titled Gender, Genre & Sociocultural Change In The Giallo: 1970-1975. PHD Thesis. There was other good fun stuff out there too particularly The Giallo FilesSo the whole idea got permanently shelved. I think now I wouldn't be as harsh as I once was on the entire genre but I dunno I'd have to re-watch what I saw as the bottom 60-80% just to make sure. Hey, I really like the much maligned 5 Dolls For An August Moon so I really don't think my negativity on the genre would hold up strongly. I think I've only watched a couple of Giallo films since that initial deep examination but I feel the time has come to track down the bunch I haven't seen. I might do a minimal abridged post on my Giallo favourites as part of the More On Movies series in the future.


Anyway I have started loving movies again and have been posting little reviews of the films I've recently watched or re-watched. I find it a really enjoyable challenge trying to condense the essence of a film into a couple of sentences. You don't need in-depth analysis from me because there's plenty of deep dissections of movies out there particularly in the podcast world ie. The Daughters Of Darkness, The Projection Booth, Pure Cinema, Unspooled, The Cannon, F This Movie, The Hysteria Continues, Wrong Reel et al. So go here where it all started I Love/Hate Movie. Then continued here with More On Movies. Next was Movie Part III. Followed by Movies Again. And More On Movies Part III. Then continued here More On Movies Part IV. Most of these movies are American with a few Australian, Canadian and British films sprinkled throughout. Not one Giallo in sight, I might add. I intend to continue the More On Movies series for now.

Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Primitive Calculators - On Drugs

The Primitive Calculators have released a new LP. It's the follow up to their stunningly abrasive 2013 comeback long player The World Is Fucked. The new record On Drugs is available here.


I read a while back that this album was going to be like a pop record influenced by The JBs, or did I dream that? There was also talk of a psychedelic space folk album from the Calculators too but did I get that wrong too? I do recall like 17 years ago Stuart saying he loved The Beach Boys and ABBA but this stuff never really seems to seep into their one chord noise boogie sonic assaults. Although maybe it does because to me they've always had pop sensibilities in that snarly neanderthal 60s garage sense albeit speeded up to the max with a fucking relentless futurist drum machine and awash in a brilliant nihilist noise guitar/synth chug. There is a ballad, however, on the new LP but the sentiment is so malicious it could only come from The Primitive Calculators who are self proclaimed outer suburban Melbourne scum. Funny bastards to boot!

*I'll write a proper review later.