Saturday, 28 March 2015

MOMENTS FROM 'THE HOLY MOUNTAIN'














001: Chimpanzee Guru


Alejandro Jodorowsky's 'The Holy Mountain' may be the greatest avant garde feature film ever made. At the very least, it is a beautiful, savage, mind warping work full of incredible energy and astonishing imagery, so much so that this series will more than likely outlive me.

Friday, 27 March 2015

THEY'LL LOVE THE VERY LIFE OUT OF YOU





















INVASION OF THE BEE GIRLS, d. Denis Sanders (1973)

For a long while, 'Invasion Of The Bee Girls' requires a great deal of perseverance. A patchy story about a series of unexplained deaths in a small town with a large biological research centre, the key point of interest is that the victims are exclusively men, specifically middle aged scientists, most of whom have some form of ingenious and elaborate comb across. Their sudden demise is attributed to being (using the 70s vernacular) 'balled' to death. Are their murders linked to the top secret work they are doing? And isn't the town (brilliantly, called Peckham) notorious for being a swinger's paradise? And why do all the women in town wear such big sunglasses?* 

After an hour, however, there is an extraordinary sequence in which a group of very short white coated women perform a strange procedure on a naked, half conscious lady stood in front of a Buckminster Fuller-style geodesic dome made of electrical cable. They bombard her with radiation, smear her in latex, then lock her away in a compartment filled with bees, which cover her entirely. After this, they peel off the plastic and flash her with a heat ray. The soft light and warmth of the light unlocks something sensual within her - and does the same for the other women in the lab - and there is much wistful self-fondling. One lesbian kiss later and the subject's eyes turn completely black. She is now a bee girl. Her mission: to fuck an ugly old scientist to death. The reason: less clear cut, but it has to do with chauvinistic and irresponsible experiments causing female sterility or something. 

When the film was released on video in the UK it was re-titled 'Graveyard Tramps', which only makes me think of cider and public urination.

* The credits read 'Bee Come Beautiful Sunglasses by Foster Grant'.

Monday, 23 March 2015

TWEET


KEEP YOUR NOSE CLEAN




Kleenex were a punk band formed in Zurich in 1978. Under threat of legal action from the tissue company, they changed their name to Liliput, and were promptly sued by the vengeful spirit of Jonathan Swift. 

Saturday, 21 March 2015

FUCKING BBC




















An occasional series.

It’s pointless to be permanently angry about the BBC’s disastrous historical policy of wiping programmes after transmission to re-use the tapes to record 'The Black & White Minstrel Show' but, every now and again, I come across a specific example that pinpoints just what a stupid and short-sighted practice it was.
Case in point: ‘Out Of This World’, a 1962 sci fi anthology introduced by Boris Karloff. Of the fourteen episodes that were produced, only one survives.
Particularly infuriating is the loss of ‘The Cold Equations’, an episode based on a short story by Tom Godwin. In it, an astronaut transporting vital medical supplies to a planet colony is horrified to realise that he has a stowaway, a teenage girl. The girl threatens everything as the ship’s weight has been worked out so exactly that any additional ballast will cause it to crash on impact, killing everyone on board, destroying the cargo and condemning the six people waiting for medicine to death. In the end, after much soul searching from both characters and ground control, the girl walks into the airlock and is jettisoned into space.   
But this show is lost now, having been removed from this world at the press of a button, like a stowaway in an airlock. For the record, the girl was played by Jane Asher, and the pilot was played by Peter Wyngarde, one of my heroes, and an actor of uncommon presence and charisma. It really bothers me that I can never see this show, that no-one can ever see it. What a waste! Fucking BBC.

Friday, 20 March 2015

TO THE LAST MAN




















THE OUTER LIMITS: DEMON WITH A GLASS HAND, d. Byron Haskin (1964)
One thousand years into the future, Earth is invaded by a vicious race called The Kyben. Overwhelmed, the humans completely disappear from the planet, unleashing a radioactive plague before they do so. One man, Trent, is transported back into the past, pursued by the invaders, who believe he knows where the population of Earth has gone. Trent has only a ten day memory and a glass robotic hand, missing several fingers. The hand tells him that he will need to retrieve the other fingers from The Kyben in order to find out the secrets of his mission. He’ll wish he hadn’t bothered.  
The notion of the Last or Eternal Man is a familiar one, having appeared in mythology since people started writing legends down. Here, writer Harlan Ellison pimps up the notion with time travel , and the idea that sometimes heroes are not always in charge of their own destiny, that they do heroic things in spite of themselves, or because they simply have no choice. It’s an amazing episode of a very good series, and the ending is brilliantly poignant. The Last or Eternal Man will always lonely, as no-one else can wait or live as long as he can.

I’m particularly fascinated by the way Trent disposes of the Kyben villains: having travelled through a time portal from the future, they wear medallions to anchor them in the past. When Trent tears the medallions from them, they disappear. This doesn’t kill them, nor does it return them to their own time. Instead, it sets them adrift in time, a fate worse than death, and one that will last forever - and they will feel every single second.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

THIN AIR

























THE BODY STEALERS, d. Gerry Levy (1969)

How to disappear: get aliens to help you.

Monday, 16 March 2015

Friday, 13 March 2015

IT'S FRIDAY 13th AND MY PSYCHE IS ON FIRE






PSYCH BURN, d. J.X Williams (1968)

The story goes that this period piece was made to illustrate the content of a proposed ABC TV hippy cash in show called Love-In Tonite. It was apparently presented sight unseen to executives at a board meeting about the new season, and some people got fired.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

BACK AND FORTH, SIMULTANEOUSLY





















ROOM 237 (d. Rodney Ascher, 2012) pulls together some of the madness out there in fandom about Stanley Kubrick's true intentions for 'The Shining'. It's actually about the Holocaust, it seems, or the genocide of Native Americans, or about minotaurs and labyrinths, or sex, or a confession that the Apollo 11 Moon landing was faked and Kubrick directed the footage.

It's also a film that is apparently designed to be shown backwards as well as forwards, and here's the proof, some juxtapositions that may or may not be imbued with meaning, but, nevertheless, occasionally achieve a pleasing symmetry. Would this work for any film? Perhaps, but who wants to do it for other films?   

SHINE ON

I have an unhealthy interest in 'The Shining'. I also have this blog, so I'm going to combine the two things. Synergy, they call it, or is it therapy?
























The Shining is a masterpiece of composition, as precisely put together as a Swiss clock. But it also has depth, even in its most meticulously engineered sequences. Take the scenes in Dick Halloran's Florida condo, where he is relaxing prior to unexpectedly receiving Danny Torrance's psychic SOS. The symmetry of the room, the careful, utilitarian colour scheme, the matching lamps, the piles of books, the records either side of the chest of drawers - Halloran is a man who clearly lives alone, perhaps held back from society by his peculiar gift. The erotic pictures are the clincher: he's not expecting anyone to ever share this room with him, so he can hang whatever he likes on the walls.

I like Dick Halloran, and I feel sorry for him. After all, he travels 2,000 miles by plane, car and snow cat on a mission of mercy, only to get hacked to death by a maniac two minutes after he arrives at his destination. Still, at least he left his place neat and tidy. Don't know what his executors are going to think about his art collection, though.