Friday, December 30, 2016

Curtains (1983)

Curtains is a Canadian horror/suspense film that began production in 1980, but due to problems (tensions between producer and director perhaps chief among these difficulties) did not premiere in the United States until early 1983. The vibes were so bad that upon completion of the film, director Richard Ciupka had his credit changed to Jonathan Stryker, the name of the director in Curtains.

The movie did not find much of an audience theatrically but gained a second life through cable showings and video rentals, which is where I found it on a video store shelf around 1984.

Samantha Eggar stars as Samantha Sherwood, an incredibly committed actress who has herself thusly committed to a mental institution as method preparation for the title role in director Jonathan Stryker's (played by ham handed favorite John Vernon) newest film Audra. When Samantha finds out that Stryker has tapped several actresses to audition for Audra at a secluded estate; she breaks out angry and with revenge on her mind.

Curtains makes great use of the wintry setting and creates an increasingly chilly atmosphere with highlights being a creepy doll and a mask wearing murderer, wielding a nasty sickle.

the trailer

the feature

The Birthday Party - 1983 - Minneapolis

The Birthday Party
6 April 1983 
First Avenue 
Minneapolis, Minnesota 

01. Hamlet (Pow Pow Pow)
02. The Six Strings That Drew Blood
03. Deep In The Woods
04. Dead Joe
05. Swampland
06. Fears Of Gun
07. Wild World
08. Big Jesus Trash Can
09. Sonny's Burning
10. She's Hit
11. 6" Gold Blade
12. Pleasure Avalanche

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Asparagus (1979) Suzan Pitt

Hand drawn over a span of five years, Suzan Pitt's animated short Asaparagus was released in 1979. Full of lush saturated colors and heavily sexual symbolic scenes that flow effortlessly and dreamlike amongst a surreal backdrop that is also in near constant motion. Non linear, the film presents many questions and leaves much to be interpreted by the viewer themselves.

Asparagus found an additional audience when it played at early midnight runs of David Lynch's similarly surreal and symbol heavy debut film Eraserhead. Pairing the films together was a genius move.

Asparagus (1979)

Persistence of Vision 
Suzan Pitt a film
by Blue and Laura Kraning

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Butthole Surfers - 1988 complete SNUB-TV interview

Butthole Surfers
complete interview
at home in Texas 
19 May 1988 
portions were used for a segment on 

Monday, October 24, 2016

Willard (1971)

Directed by Daniel Mann (Our Man Flint, The Revengers, Playing for Time) and released in 1971, Willard preceded, perhaps even helped influence, a wave of movies that followed highlighting either wild animals on the attack (Jaws, Grizzly, Bug) and/or social misfits getting violent revenge on their tormentors (Carrie).

Bruce Davison stars as the title character, a sad sack who deals with beratings and belittlings from all avenues of his life, especially from his widowed mother and domineering boss. After the emotional defeat of coming home to a birthday party his mother has thrown, populated by her older friends exclusively, Willard bonds with a rat in his backyard. This one rat quickly becomes a multitude, with Willard developing a bond and establishing communication with his rodent pals. Willard then puts the rats into service righting the many wrongs he feels have burdened his existence. 

The film was popular at the box office, inspiring a sequel and years later a Crispin Glover led remake. Sondra Locke appears in one of her earliest film roles as a love interest for Willard while Elsa Lanchester appears in one of her final cinematic roles as his over bearing mother. Ernest Borgnine pushes Willard around as the duplicitous, business stealing boss.

the trailer

the feature

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Häxan: Witchcraft Through The Ages (1922)

Released in 1922, the film Häxan is a Swedish/Danish co-production that was written and directed by Benjamin Christensen and it remains his most discussed as well as most viewed film. The director also gave himself the notable role of the Devil in the film.

Curious about the subject after purchasing a copy of the Malleus Maleficarum, a 15th-century German guide for inquisitors battling demonic forces, Christensen wanted the film to illustrate how long standing superstitions along with ignorance of the many forms of mental illness combined to fuel anti-witch hysteria.

Ostensibly a documentary, the film also contains many elaborate set pieces that rival most horror films and for the time of it's production Häxan was a proto-blockbuster and the costliest Scandinavian silent film made, with costs soaring to near two million Swedish kronor.

the trailer

the feature

Friday, October 14, 2016

Einstürzende Neubauten - 1984 - Chicago

Einstürzende Neubauten 

at the Exit 
1 March 1984

  1. (Unknown) 
  2. Zum Tier machen 
  3. Vanadium-I-Ching 
  4. Affenroulette 
  5. (Unknown) 
  6. Sehnsucht 
  7. Negativ Nein 
  8. Armenia 
  9. (Unknown)
  10. Abfackeln! 
  11. Die Genaue Zeit 
  12. (Unknown) 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

God Told Me To (1976)

Written and directed by Larry Cohen (Bone, It's Alive, Black Caesar, The Stuff), 1976s God Told Me To (aka Demon) is a thought provoking horror/science fiction hybrid.

Tony Lo Bianco stars as a NYPD detective who tries to figure out the motives behind a series of seemingly random bursts of deadly violence which are connected by all of the perpetrators stating the reason for their transgression was that "god told them to." Eventually he traces everything back to a cult like organization headed by the always intriguing Richard Lynch. Things get darker and more complicated from there, ultimately leading to an explosive climax.

Keep an eye out for Andy Kaufman's first film appearance as a NYPD patrolman who becomes motivated to commit violence during a parade detail.

the trailer

the feature

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Four Flies on Grey Velvet (1971) aka 4 mosche di velluto grigio


Dario Argento's 1971 feature Four Flies on Grey Velvet is the final film in his "Animal Trilogy", which began with The Bird with the Crystal Plumage and The Cat o' Nine Tails. Another genre notable, Luigi Cozzi served as assistant director. Due to some disagreements over music selections, this would be the last Argento film scored by Ennio Morricone until the 1990s.

Italian film favorite Bud Spencer, plus Americans Mimsy Farmer and Michael Brandon top the films cast. It was picked up by Paramount Pictures for it's United States release but little was done with the film in the U.S. after an initial run.

The plot is convoluted, perhaps a bit too complicated, but overall Four Flies on Grey Velvet rewards a viewer with well shot color saturated and outstanding cinematography (most noatbly what may have been the first use of high-speed camera equipment to film the path and trajectory of a bullet), as well as heaps of Argento's "edge of your seat" cinema. The scene where a woman finds herself locked inside a walled park after closing and is pursued relentlessly stands out for it's memorable and rapidly escalating tension.

the trailers

the feature

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

The Crazies (1973)

Released in 1973, The Crazies (aka Code Name: Trixie or The Mad People) was directed by George Romero with many of the same crew/production staff from his ground breaking feature Night of the Living Dead and has since been the subject of a Hollywood remake.

The plot plays out as an unknown, untested bio-toxin is released into the drinking water supply of a small Pennsylvania town after a military plane crashes nearby. The toxin causes strong, visceral reactions in those exposed as it creates an unrestricted id with extremely violent urges. The government storms into town, establishes martial law, and begins a round up of the townspeople. Some folks are understandably leery of the occupying force and find themselves caught between the infected "crazies" and the increasingly trigger happy "peacekeepers" sent in to maintain order. Screen time is also given to scenes illustrating the government/military's ongoing attempts to quell and localize the growing problem by any means necessary.

the trailer

the feature

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Butthole Surfers - Nov. 1987 - Los Angeles

Butthole Surfers

Variety Arts Center
Los Angeles, CA

The beautifully demented sights and sounds
from a stop during touring
in support of their 1987 release
Locust Abortion Technician.

1) -noise-
2) Something
3) Rocky
4) Sweat Loaf
5) Ricky
6) Graveyard
7) Paranoid
8) 100 Million
9) Backass
10) scream sequence
11) Julio
12) Cherub
13) Gary Floyd
14) Psychedelic Jam
15) Pittsburgh To Lebanon
16) Johnny Smoke
17) Jimi
18) 22 Going On 23
19) X-Ray

Monday, September 26, 2016

Venom, Slayer, + Exodus - 1985 - Sudio 54, NYC

The Ultimate Revenge: Combat Tour Live 
Recorded  on April 3, 1985 at Studio 54 in New York.

Wild look back at a truly classic line up of heavy hitting, extreme, and underground metal acts. The footage of Slayer and Exodus comes directly from the filming done at the April 1985 Studio 54 show, but the Venom performance clips come from earlier releases. Not sure why this the case but I vaguely remember hearing Mantas was sick and Venom used replacement guitarists for this gig, so perhaps that's the reason. Backstage interviews provide some comic relief as well as insight into band dynamics and attitudes.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Misfits - 1983 - Boston


at The Channel
Boston, Massachusetts 
20 March 1983

  1. Halloween
  2. 20 Eyes
  3. Wolfs Blood
  4. All Hell Breaks Loose
  5. Mommy, Can I Go Out and Kill Tonight?
  6. Devil's Whorehouse
  7. Demonomania
  8. London Dungeon
  9. Die, Die My Darling
  10. Violent World
  11. Astro Zombies
  12. Green Hell
  13. I Turned Into a Martian
  14. Skulls
  15. Devilock
  16. We Are 138
  17. Nike a Go Go
  18. Hatebreeders
  19. Braineaters
  20. Attitude
  21. Rise Above
    (Black Flag cover)
  22. Horror Business
  23. Bullet

    While in Boston
    The Misfits filmed a promo video for
    "Braineaters" at a local venue/restaurant,
    pretty sure it was Cantone's.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Vice Squad (1982)

Released in 1982, Vice Squad initially came into my orbit thanks to a less than flattering review from Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel that peaked my interest. Didn't make the scene while it played theaters, but I immediately grabbed it for a rental when it popped up in my local video store.

Directed by Gary Sherman (Raw Meat, Dead & Buried, Poltergeist III); Vice Squad delivers a dark, slimy, and violent experience for the viewer. The movie offers more than one might expect from similar genre films and reportedly received strong praise from celebrated director Martin Scorsese.

Taking place on the mean streets of downtown Los Angeles, the film centers on Princess (Season Hubley), a street prostitute who is pressured to aid the police in apprehending the psychotic and hyper violent pimp Ramrod (Wings Hauser) after he murders a prostitute named Ginger; this cameo is played by Nina Blackwood. Of course this simple plan is further complicated when Ramrod escapes police custody with murderous revenge on his mind.

 the trailer

the feature

Monday, August 22, 2016

The Children (1980) - Repost

Repost with updated, working movie + trailer links. 

I'm dating myself here, but once upon a time before cable television there were pay tv channels that broadcast movies, specials and "adult" fare over uhf signals. In the metro Chicago area, one such service was named ONTV. You had to have a decoder box to sort out the signal, but that never stopped my pals and I from attempting to catch a glimpse of the nudity and forbidden films on display with out the decoder. I was lucky enough to have a buddy whose parents subscribed to ONTV and were cool with him and his pals watching the R-rated flicks, usually with them watching as well. Several of the movies I first caught in this pre-cable set up have always brought back memories of that channel and time with 1980's low budget horror flick The Children being one such film.

The plot concerns a bus load of little ones who pass through a cloud of toxic gas released from the neighborhood nuclear plant. This turns them into black-finger nailed killers driven to decimate the adult population with killer hugs. You might recognize actor Martin Shakar from his earlier role as the conflicted priest/older brother of John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever.


the feature 

Monday, August 1, 2016

Rush - 1974 - Ontario


with their original drummer
at the 
Laura Secord Secondary School 
St Catharines, Ontario

1. “Need Some Love”
2. “Before and After”
3. “Best I Can”
4. “I’ve Been Runnin’”
5. “Bad Boy”
6. “The Loser”
7. “Working Man”
8. “In the Mood” (partial)

Geddy Lee – lead vocals, bass
Alex Lifeson – guitars, backing vocals
John Rutsey – drums, percussion, backing vocals

Thanks to BrunoSamppa for posting

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Caveman (1981)

Carl Gottlieb is best known as a screenwriter for films such as Jaws or Which Way Is Up? and it was the success of his screenplay for The Jerk that allowed him the opportunity to direct and write the 1981 feature Caveman.

Aside from all dialogue being spoken in a form of a caveman language two other factors make this film notable: the stunt casting of ex-Beatle Ringo Starr and the special effects dinosaurs. Also filling out the cast are: former football player John Matuszak, Barbara Bach (who would begin an on-set romance with Ringo Starr which continues to this day),  Dennis Quaid, and Shelley Long in her first major role in a motion picture. 

Special effects artist Jim Danforth began work creating the dinosaurs as well as making other contributions but according to IMDb trivia after two thirds of the film was finished, Danforth had to leave the production because "the Directors Guild of America allegedly disallowed his already contracted co-director credit alongside director Carl Gottlieb. As such, Danforth is not credited as a director on this picture, only for special effects and second unit director."

the trailer

the feature

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Carny (1980)

Starring Gary Busey, Jodie Foster, and Robbie Robertson; 1980s Carny is another film I have repeat showings on cable television during the 80s to thank for my initial viewings.

The movie follows Busey and Robertson as carnival folk who survive by working/hustling all the angles both on and off the midway. Things get tricky for the pair when an 18 year old (played by Foster) runs away from home, joins the carnival first as a dancer before moving to the midway, and subsequently becomes entangled in a charged triangle with the men.

While I can't claim to have any specialized insight into the carny existence, Carny illuminates the peculiar (and often illegal) deals the carnival owners have to contend with as they hammer out the specifics with each town's leaders and/or underworld types. In his July 22, 1980 review in the Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert wrote, "Carny is bursting with more information about American carnivals than it can contain, surrounding a plot too thin to support it. ...Inside this movie is a documentary struggling to get out."

the trailer

the feature

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Deranged (1974)

Distributed through American International Pictures, 1974s Deranged was a Canadian/U.S. co-production which told the tale of the profoundly disturbed Ezra Cobb. After the death of his mother, Cobb became completely unhinged, first digging up body parts and corpses from the local cemetery for decorations in his home before then killing local women to further his cause. Deranged was based on the real life exploits/horror story of Ed Gein's morbid and murderous ways in Wisconsin.

Co-directed by Jeff Gillen and Alan (Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things, Deathdream) Ormsby,  Deranged also had Bob (Porky's, A Christmas Story, Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things, Deathdream) Clark working as an uncredited producer on the film.

Veteran actor Roberts Blossom plays Ezra Cobb and among his many film credits he is often most remembered as the foul tempered old man who sells Arnie the title car in Christine or as Old Man Marley, the scary neighbor who with a shovel smack down, saves Kevin from the evil doers in Home Alone

Sorry about the French subtitles on the feature.

the trailer

the feature

the making of...

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Insomniac with Dave Attell - Best of - Vol.2

And here's Volume Two of "The Best of Insomniac with Dave Attell - Uncensored, a video travelogue of after-hours experiences. Comedian and host Dave Attell heads out into the night for an uncensored look at the eccentric mix of people who work and play long past the midnight hour. Insomniac spotlights the local nightlife in all its raw and gritty glory, as Dave checks out area hot spots, neighborhood bars and the twisted activities that keep people from getting a decent night of sleep."