Monday, 28 March 2016

HEAD CHANGER














































LA FEMME 100 TETES d. Eric Duvivier (1967)


A faithfully rendered adaptation of Max Ernst's seminal 1929 collection of surrealist collages, this 19 minute film was produced by Sandoz, the Swiss pharmaceutical company whose most famous product, LSD, has perhaps come to define 1967 more than any other person, event or movement. 

Thursday, 24 March 2016

YOU NEED HANDS
























THE CRAWLING HAND, d. Herbert L. Strock (1963) 

The Crawling Hand is a super low budget film which uses the space race to colour a fairly traditional horror story. A moon shoot ends in disaster when, on the return journey, the rocket goes haywire. Despite having run out of oxygen some twenty minutes previously, the Astronaut's frightened (and frightening) face appears on the mission control monitors, alternately hissing ‘kill!’ and ‘press the red’, i.e. the button that will destroy him and his ship. As the ship is about to crash into a populated area, mission control press the button and the ship explodes, showering debris all over the coastline including, on a secluded beach, the Astronaut’s arm, sheared off at the elbow, but still wearing its glove and spacesuit sleeve (I was reminded of J.G Ballard at this stage, although it’s too early for his work to have been an influence. Perhaps Ballard saw this film?)   

A brilliant but brooding young science student (‘I’m going to the top – and I’m making it on my own!’) discovers the severed arm, wraps it in a shower curtain and takes it back to his digs where it promptly strangles his landlady and then takes him over, forcing him to do bad things until he gets flu and his high temperature weakens the arm to the extent that he can break the link and stab the severed limb repeatedly with a broken bottle. Hungry junkyard cats finish the job. Or do they? No, not really. The uncanny is not so easily disposed of.      

There is probably a monograph to be written about crawling hands in the movies, from The Beast With Five Fingers through to The Evil Dead and beyond. They're mainly horror films, of course, severed hands don't normally creep around in anything else.

Monday, 14 March 2016

INDOCTRINATED IN A CULT CALLED SCIENCE

'Now the mirror lizard’s breath got the clones scared cuz / Woo, use your, use your common sense'

I’m a middle aged white English man. That’s my confession. As such, my interest in hip hop is fairly intermittent, and limited to a few tried and tested artists. I dabble, I dip, and am aware that there is a whole world of music out there that I haven’t got the time to scratch the surface of.

B.o.B is an artist that I hadn’t heard of before reading about him in The Fortean Times, not exactly the go to magazine for black urban music updates. BoB is convinced that the Earth is flat, and can get quite angry about it. This strongly held belief is the basis for his track ‘Flatline’, which is presented below. BoB is particularly annoyed with astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson, who he suggests should ‘loosen up his vest’, i.e. put aside everything he has ever learned and believed in.


The Internet, which seemingly promises so much in terms of Truth, is, of course, a breeding ground for Lies, particularly those backed up by half-baked theory and misinformation. A few years ago, I would have cared passionately about this, now I just let it go. The Internet once held the promise of making everyone knowledgeable and educated, which had the potential of cramping my style; I’m slightly relieved to realise that it mainly makes morons. I’m not suggesting that B.o.B falls under the category, by the way, he’s a young man with a long way to go, but he probably needs to broaden his browsing and stop smoking so much weed*.

* His admission, not my assumption.       

Thursday, 10 March 2016

INBETWEENERS


























More half absent abstraction from between the scenes of Hanna-Barbera's Josie and The Pussycats

Monday, 7 March 2016

WAITING FOR IMAM



Somewhere out in the Sahara desert, Tuareg super group Haso-Bambino-Koudede-Bibbi are jamming the fudge out of one of their songs. It would perhaps be very typically western to make a comparison, and say that their dedication to the groove and relentless guitar interplay remind me of The Velvet Underground, but I very much mean it as a compliment.  

Saturday, 5 March 2016

WHAT POSSESSED THEM?









POSSESSION, d. Andrezj Zulawski (1981)

I’ll be honest with you, I’m not entirely sure what Possession is about. I mean, I’ve watched it, and I could tell you what happens, and how I feel about it, but I have no clear and concise view on what it means. A film of crushing intensity soaked in blood and gore and goo, it starts with a marital breakdown, progresses to emotional and physical violence and then culminates in monsters, bestiality, madness and death.

The cast are uniformly excellent, and are encouraged to take their characterisations to the very edge: Isabella Adjani is so fragile that you fear for her health all the time, even when she’s doing terrible things. Sam Neill, resembling Peter Gabriel, is so odd and intense that he seems likely to catch fire. Mind you, he had just played The Antichrist in Omen III: The Final Conflict.     

Director Andrezj Zulawski died in February, so I’ve re-watched a few of his films and been amazed at their consistently nihilistic, hysterical tone. Not surprisingly, his work in his native Poland was considered controversial enough to be banned on a number of occasions by the communist authorities, so Possession was made in West Germany, albeit in the shadow of the Berlin Wall. It’s a frenzied, dread filled piece of work, a true horror film. It took me three attempts to watch it, not because it was bad, but because it was overwhelming and I wasn’t in the right frame of mind to deal with it.  

Watch it, please, but make sure you’re in a safe place and feeling good about yourself. It’s strong stuff, take with caution.   

Thursday, 3 March 2016

ASSIGNED

 







Has there ever been a stranger prime time television show than Sapphire and Steel? That’s not even a question. Interdimensional medium weight elements are given human form in order to investigate and repair anomalies in time. It wavered between terrifying and ridiculous,but, for better or worse, it was out there, so much so that it is full of odd, irrelevant shots and details, as if even the director didn’t understand it, so filmed everything just in case it was important. 

Here are some screenshots from their third adventure, The Creatures Revenge, which can be summarised as ‘people from the 35th century get trapped in 1980 and are attacked by a malevolent force representing the extinct flora and fauna of the future’. It’s very odd telly, but standard Sapphire and Steel.

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

2016 FILM DIARY, PART TWO
















From Saxana, Girl on a Broomstick

01.02.16 - 29.02.16

Veerana, d. Shyam Ramsay / Tulsi Ramsay (1988)
This World Is Unreal Like A Snake In A Rope, d. Robert Millis (2011)
Ginger Baker In Africa, d. Tony Palmer (1973)
Be Glad For The Song Has No Ending, d. Peter Neal (1970)
Little Murders, d. Alan Arkin (1971)
Deadhead Miles, d. Vernon Zimmerman (1973)
Freebie and The Bean, d. Richard Rush (1974) 
White Line Fever, d. Jonathan Kaplan (1975)
Sweet Revenge, d. Jerry Schatzberg (1975)
The Grapes Of Death, d. Jean Rollin (1978) 
The Escapees, d. Jean Rollin (1981) 
On The Silver Globe, d. Andrejz Zulawski (1989)
The Rainbow Thief, d. Alejandro Jodorowsky (1990)
Crimson Peak, d. Guillermo del Toro (2015)
It Came From Kuchar, d. Jennifer M. Kroot (2009)
Ascension, d. Karim Hussein (2002)
The Story of Ricky, d. Ngai Choi Lam (1991)
Death Dimension, d. Al Adamson (1978)
Welcome Home, Brother Charles, d. Jamaa-Fanaka (1975)
Possession, d. Andrzej Zulawski (1981)
The Devil, d. Andrzej Zulawski (1972) 
Mariken of Nieumeghen, d. Jos Stelling (1974) 
Witchhammer, d. Otakar Vavra (1970)
Saxana, Girl on a Broomstick, d. Vacalav Vorlicek (1972)
Simon, King of the Witches, d. Bruce Kessler (1971)
Suicide Cult, d. James Glickenhaus (1975)
The Killing of Satan, d. Efren-Pinon (1983) 
A Gun For George, d. Matthew Holness (2011)
Get Carter, d. Mike Hodges (1971)
Flash Gordon, d. Mike Hodges (1980)
Dune, d. David Lynch (1984)
Aaaaaaaah!, d. Steve Oram (2015)
Phi Ta Kon: Ghosts of Isan, d. Robert Millis and Richard Bishop (2004)
Sumatran Folk Cinema, d. Mark Gergis and Alan Bishop (2004)
The Queen of Black Magic, d. Liliek Sudjio (1979)
The Warrior, d. Sisworo Gautama Putra (1981)
Seeding of a Ghost, d. Chuan Yang (1983)
2020 Texas Gladiators, d. George Eastman (1982)
Among the Tuareg of Libya, d. Hisham Mayet (2004)
Niger: Magic and Ecstasy in the Sahal, d. Hisham Mayet (2005)
Breakin', d. Joel Silberg (1984)
Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo, d. Sam Firstenberg (1985)
Band of the Hand, d. Paul Michael Glaser (1986)