Friday, July 3, 2020

June 2020 Seen/Read

1- Sweet Sweetback's Badassss Song (Melvin Van Peebles, 1971) (R)
    Maximum Overdrive (Stephen King, 1986) (R)
    The Literary Conference by Cesar Aira (1997)
2- Emma Mae (Jamaa Fanaka, 1976)
    If Beale Street Could Talk (Barry Jenkins, 2018) (R)
3- Def By Temptation (James Bond III)
4- The Big Racket (Enzo G. Castileri, 1976)
5- Sugar Hill (Paul Maslansky, 1974)
    Mayhem (Joe Lynch, 2017) (Last Drive In with Joe Bob Briggs)
    Tetsuo: Iron Man (Shinya Tsukamoto, 1989) (Last Drive In with Joe Bob Briggs) (R)
6- The Strange Vice of Mrs. Wardh (Sergio Martino, 1971)
7- LA 92 (T.J. Martin and Daniel Lindsay, 2017)
9- Deadline (Mario Philip Azzopardi, 1980)
11- Greetings (Brian DePalma, 1968)
      The Wedding Party (Brian DePalma, 1969)
12- Scare Package (Various, 2019) (Last Drive In with Joe Bob Briggs)
      Hogzilla (Diane Jacques, 2014) (Last Drive In with Joe Bob Briggs)
14- Da 5 Bloods (Spike Lee, 2020)
     And the Band Played On: Politics, People and the AIDs Pandemic by Randy Shilts (1987)   
15- Black Panthers (Agnes Varda, 1968)
      The Watermelon Woman (Cheryl Dunye, 1996)
16- The Naked City (Jules Dassin, 1948)
      Hitch-Hike (Pasquale Festa Campanile, 1977)
17- A Cat In the Brain (Lucio Fulci, 1990)
      Cats (Tobe Hooper, 2019)
      Escape From New York (John Carpenter, 1981) (R)
18- Mikey and Nicky (Elaine May, 1976) (R)
      Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story (Jake Kasdan, 2007) (R)
19- 13th (Ava DuVernay, 2016)
20- Death Race 2000 (Paul Bartel, 1975)
      Hellbound: Hellraiser II (Tony Randel, 1988) (Last Drive In with Joe Bob Briggs) (R)
      Hell Comes to Frogtown (R.J. Kizer, 1988) (Last Drive In with Joe Bob Briggs)
21- Daddy Longlegs (Josh and Benny Safdie, 2009)
      The Last Laugh (F.W. Murnau, 1924) (R)
      Her Name Was Lisa (Roger Watkins, 1979)
22- The Lost Boys (Joel Schumacher, 1987) (R)
      I Always Said Yes: The Many Lives of Wakefield Poole (Jim Tushinski, 2013)
      Jeanne Dielmann, 23, Quai du Commerce 1080 Bruxelles (Chantel Akerman, 1975)
23- Eric Andre: Legalize Everything (Eric Andre, 2020)
      Deep Throat (Gerard Damiano, 1972) (R)
24- And the Band Played On (Roger Spottiswoode, 1993) (R)
25- Video Nasties: Moral Panic, Censorship and Videotape (Jake West, 2010)
26- Melvin and Howard (Jonathan Demme, 1980)
      Boogie Nights (Paul Thomas Anderson, 1997) (R)
27- The Great Escape (John Sturges, 1963) (R)
28- Cliffhanger (Renny Harlin, 1993) (R)
      Spasmo (Umberto Lenzi, 1974)
      Blonde Death (James Robert Baker, 1984)
29- Sole Survivor (Thom Englehardt, 1984)
30- Rad (Hal Needham, 1986)
      Big Wednesday (John  Milius, 1978)
      Point Break (Katherine Bigelow, 1991) (R)

(R)- rewatch

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Vinegar Syndrome: The Haul

I remember first going to the Vinegar Syndrome website and being only vaguely familair with a couple titles. It was at first a mystery and then an exhilaration. The well of horror and exploitation is bottomless. There are always titles waiting to be discovered.

The first blu ray boutique label that caught my attention was the Criterion Collection. It introduced me to a bevvy of beautiful movies that I otherwise would have been ignorant of. It had the hooks in me from the start with catalog titles like Videodrome, Dazed and Confused, The Silence of the Lambs, Do the Right Thing. What excited me about these releases was not just the presentation (the cover art on some of these blu rays can be hung on walls!) but the wealth of extras on every disc. The care put into every one of their releases remained unmatched. My obsession deepened outside of American film and into Japan, France, Italy, Germany, Russia. Criterion was not just restoring film history. They way I looked at it was they were throwing up signal flares illuminating the connections between American and International Cinema.

And still, I wanted more...

As with most obsessions, the hunt widens. The appetite becomes insatiable. The cinephile side of me was more than pleased. But the genre fan in me- the one who collected EC Comics and worshipped at the altar of Carpenter- wanted more. Blue Underground, Synapse Grindhouse Releasing, Severin, Scream Factory and Arrow would help me on that front. All the horror I wanted a special edition for, those companies eventually released. New York Ripper Deluxe Edition with soundtrack? You got it!

And still, I wanted more...

The hunt for a good horror film never really ends. It may look depressing looking forward at the state of genre cinema. What boutique blu ray labels have promised us fiends is that the wait needn't be in vain.

Then Vinegar Syndrome happen. It didn't just have things I had no idea existed, it wet my exploitation appetite. Sex films, hardcore, adult movies, the stuff you'd only find in the backroom of a video store. Like Criterion, the presentation and care they put into these blu rays is astounding. Unlike Criterion, they are shameless when it comes to releasing the hard stuff. Sure, Criterion is giving us Russ Meyer and John Waters. But it hasn't quite dug into Gerard Damiano. And why should they? That's the beauty of these labels. People can enjoy Let My Puppets Come and Jeanne Dielmann under the same roof.

These releases present a whole new world of cinema for viewers. In the case of VS, I would have never known about a film like Sudden Fury. Their Halfway to Black Friday and Black Friday sales have continually shown they are the best in the business.

And still, I wanted more...

Friday, June 26, 2020

Top 50 Albums of the 2010s

Coming into 2010, my obsession with progressive rock reached its peak. The cracks in my obsession made themselves present. The genre as a whole going forward wasn't...progressing. Dream Theater, a band I once championed to the rooftops, had fallen into a formulaic prog metal band. 10 minute song, guitar solo, keyboard solo. Rinse and repeat. Nothing was exciting me in a genre that once upon a time, had Peter Gabriel go up on stage in a Slipperman costume.

Exiting the decade, prog rock made the least amount of impact on my decade list. Or to be fair, prog rock that can be defined as 15 minute epics with as many time changes as you can fit. This isn't to say I abandoned my love of the genre. The classics still found a way into my playlist. As far as new music goes however, the one artist who maintained a consistency and willingness to play around within the genre was Steven Wilson.

Metal showed its multiple subgenres expanding in a forward direction. Liturgy and Deafhaven added new takes to the black metal genre. The latter smuggling in shoegaze. Vektor proved there was still blood left in thrash.

As much as I love the two aforementioned genres, no other music filled me with inspiration this decade as much as Hip Hop. A type of music I foolishly discarded in the past. I reached back into the past and put on 36 Chambers by Wu Tang Clan and that was it. An album now nestled in a top ten spot. It opened doors into newfound appreciation for the current scene. Kendrick Lamar, J Cole, Kanye West.

Lastly, there were sorrowful goodbyes. 2016 claimed 2 music giants and personal heroes. Leonard Cohen released You Want It Darker in a year that was considered obsidian black in its darkness. David Bowie perfected the art of waving goodbye with Blackstar. Nick Cave suffered a devastating tragedy with the loss of his son. Recording his most personal albums in Skeleton Tree and Ghosteen.

50. The Body- No One Deserves Happiness (2016)
49. Bjork- Vulnicura (2015)
48. Radiohead- A Moon Shaped Pool (2016)
46. St. Vincent- Strange Mercy (2011)
45. Swans- The Glowing Man (2016)
44. King Grizzard and the Lizard Wizard- Nonagon Infinity (2016)
43. Agalloch- Marrow of the Spirit (2010)
42. Beach House- Teen Dream (2010)
41. Vektor- Terminal Redux (2016)
40. Converge- All We Love We Leave Behind (2012)
39. Flying Lotus- Cosmogramma (2010)
38. King Grizzard and the Lizard Wizard- Flying Microtonal Banana (2017)
37. Ulver- The Assassination of Julius Caesar (2017)
36. Leviathan- Scar Sighted (2015)
35. A Tribe Called Quest- We Got It From Here...Thanks 4 Your Service (2016)
34. Mastodon- The Hunter (2011)
33. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds- Skeleton Tree (2016)
32. Steve Wilson- Hand. Cannot. Erase. (2015)
31. Joanna Newsom- Have One On Me (2010)
30. Anna von Krauswolf- Dead Magic (2018)
29. Shining- Blackjazz (2010)
28. Behemoth- The Satanist (2014)
27. Queens of the Stone Age- Like Clockwork (2013)
26. Fiona Apple- The Idler Wheel... (2012)
25. Kamasi Washington- The Epic (2015)
24. Janelle Monae- ArchAndoid (2010)
23. Julia Holter- Have You In My Wilderness (2015)
22. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds- Ghosteen (2019)
21. Baroness- Purple (2015)
20. Kids See Ghosts- Kids See Ghosts (2018)
19. Tim Hecker- Ravedeath, 1972 (2011)
18. FKA Twigs- Magdalene (2019)
17. Deathspell Omega- Paracletus (2010)
16. Kanye West- My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy (2010)
15. David Bowie- Blackstar (2016)
14. Death Grips- Bottomless Pit (2016)
13. Run the Jewels- Run the Jewels 2 (2014)
12. Kendrick Lamar- Good Kidd, m.a.d.d. City (2012)
11. Danny Brown- Atrocity Exhibition (2016)

10. Swans- The Seer (2012)
9. Steve Wilson- The Raven That Refused to Sing (2013)
8. Lingua Ignota- Caligula (2019)
7. Father John Misty- Pure Comedy (2017)
6. Sun Kil Moon- Benji (2014)
5. The Knife- Shaking the Habitual (2013)
4. Death Grips- The Money Store (2012)
3. Kendrick Lamar- To Pimp A Butterfly (2015)
2. Daughters- You Can't Get What You Want (2018)
1. Swans- To Be Kind (2014)


10. It Follows by Disasterpiece

9. Sicario by Johan Jahannson

8. First Man by Justin Hurwitz

7. Uncut Gems by Daniel Lopatin

6. Dunkirk by Hans Zimmer

5. The Hateful Eight by Ennio Morricone

4. If Beale Street Could Talk by Nicholas Britel

3. Interstellar by Hans Zimmer

2. Under the Skin by Mica Levi

1. Phantom Thread by Jonny Greenwood

Thursday, June 25, 2020

Book Review: And the Band Played On

We're changing things up. Well, just a little bit.

Video produced for this blog has been absent since the blog's inception. Today, this will no longer be the case. The video I'm posting is a review of one of my favorite books I read this year. While the content is raw and unedited and done on the fly, this first video is more or less of a trial run. A warming up to bigger and better videos. There's a whole list of ideas. Film, music, books, magazine, even merchandise.

This shouldn't take away any of the importance of the book being reviewed below. In putting this out there, I welcome constructive criticism. What needs fixing, what works.

Stay tuned. More good things to come.

Sunday, June 7, 2020

May 2020 Seen and Read

1- Big Trouble In Little China (John Carpenter, 1986) (R)
    The Champ (King Vidor, 1931)
    Just Before Dawn (Jeff Leiberman, 1981)
    Maniac (Bill Lustig, 1980) (Last Drive In with Joe Bob Briggs) (R)
    Heathers (Michael Lehmann, 1988) (Last Drive In with Joe Bob Briggs) (R)
2- Massacre Mafia Style (Duke Mitchell, 1974)
3- Pee-Wee's Big Adventure (Tim Burton, 1985) (R)
    Child's Play (Tom Holland, 1988) (R)
4- Camera Buff (Krzysztof Kieslowski, 1979)
    Roadgames (Richard Franklin, 1981)
    The Candy Snatchers (Guerdon Trueblood, 1973)
5- Gloria (John Cassavates, 1980)
    The Beastie Boys Story (Spike Jonze, 2020)
    The House On Tombstone Hill/The Dead Come Home/Dead Dudes In the House (James Riffel, 1989)
6- The Killing of America (Leonard Schrader, Sheldon Renan, 1981)
7- Dark of the Sun (Jack Cardiff, 1968)
    Secret Rendezvous by Kobo Abe (1979)
8- Phase IV (Saul Bass, 1974) (Saul Bass turns 100!)
    Brain Damage (Frank Henenlotter, 1988) (Last Drive In with Joe Bob Briggs) (R)
    Deep Red (Dario Argento, 1975) (Last Drive In with Joe Bob Briggs) (R)
9- Annihilation by Jeff Van Der Meer (2013)
    Gretel and Hansel (Osgood Perkins, 2020)
10- Mother (Bong Joon-ho, 2009) (R)
      Psycho (Alfred Hitchcock, 1960) (R)
11- Beyond the Door (Ovidio G. Assonitis, 1974)
12- The Firemen's Ball (Milos Forman, 1967)
13- Parents (Bob Balaban, 1989)
      Crimes of Passion (Ken Russell, 1984)
14- Revival by Stephen King (2014)
      Into the Night (John Landis, 1985)
15- The Cremator (Juraj Herz, 1969)
16- Master of the Flying Guillotine (Jimmy Wang Yu, 1976)
      Hard Ticket to Hawaii (Andy Sidaris, 1987)
      Toby Dammit (Federico Fellini, 1968)
17- The McPherson Tape (Dean Alioto, 1989)
18- Thirst (Ron Hardy, 1979)
      The New York Ripper (Lucio Fulci, 1982) (R)
19- 3 Ninjas (Jon Turtletaub, 1992) (R)
     The Grand Budapest Hotel (Wes Anderson, 2014) (R)
20- The Peregrine by J.A. Baker (1967)
      Fire (Pozar) (David Lynch, 2015) (short film)
      Salesman (Albert and David Maysles, 1969) (R)
21- The Daytrippers (Greg Mottola, 1996)
22- The Exorcist III (William Peter Blatty, 1990) (Last Drive In with Joe Bob Briggs) (R)
      Deadbeat At Dawn (Jim Van Bebber, 1987) (Last Drive In with Joe Bob Briggs) (R)
23- Edge of the Axe (Jose Ramin Larraz, 1988)
24- Hot and Saucy Pizza Girls (Bob Chinn, 1978)
      Wadd: The Life and Times of John C. Holmes (Cass Paley, 1998)
      The Deuce (2 episodes)
25- The Deuce
      Two Lane Blacktop (Monte Hellman, 1971) (R)
26- A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James (2014)
     The Deuce (2 episodes)
27- There's Nothing Out There (Rolf Kanefsky, 1991)
      Husbands (John Cassavetes, 1970)
28- Picasso Trigger (Andy Sidaris, 1988)
      Savage Beach (Andy Sidaris, 1989)
      Welcome Home Brother Charles (Jamaa Fanakaa, 1975)
      The Vast of Night (Andrew Peterson, 2020)
29- Do the Right Thing (Spike Lee, 1989) (R)
      Dead Heat (Mark Goldblatt, 1988)
      Cannibal Holocaust (Ruggero Deodato, 1980) (R)
30- What's A Nice Girl Like You Doing In A Place Like This? (Martin Scorsese, 1963) (short)
      It's Not Just Your Murray! (Martin Scorsese, 1964) (short)
      The Big Shave (Martin Scorsese, 1967) (short)
      Italian American (Martin Scorsese, 1974) (short)
      American Boy (Martin Scorsese, 1978) (short)

Monday, May 25, 2020

SKULL SESSIONS: Rob Zombie Should Do A Hangout Movie


  I love hangout movies, it's a genre that doesn't get talked about often enough as its own genre. I cut my teeth on Clerks and Dazed And Confused and became obsessed with characters talkin' shit and shootin' the shit. And if there's a genre that's perfect for our age of Quarantine, it's the talky one

  Rob Zombie has an ear for casual dialogue without having to resort to the sedated faux-naturalism of mumblecore nor the boastful stylistics of Sorkin. The Devil's Rejects is full of personality and funny conversations, sometimes outright clever examples of how Rob can handle tonal shifts like a dab-hand juggler. He can navigate a scene of chaotic tension right into a funny argument about a sequined jacket. Now, Rejects isn't a hangout movie but, like all of Rob's movies, it has these fleeting little hangout 'shorts' within it where he'll pair characters up (whose actors always have instant, undeniable chemistry), find their idiosyncrasies, and let them go at it. Those tragically-brief little pockets of conversation are what he's best at and what I always look forward to.

  I got so excited for that hockey movie he announced ages ago, Broadstreet Bullies, because I knew he'd make something brutal, earnest, and human. And I say 'human' because the bulk of criticism against him is that his characters are profane and sleazy, to the degree that he's diagnosed as being pseudo-edgelordy. My entire life I've lived with and hung around with shit-kicking trailer-trash who talk and act exactly like the side characters in Rob Zombie's movies; he clearly did, too, soaking up the 'vulgarity' in their humanity and vice-versa. That said, he also has a sadistic necrophiliac lazily throwing knives at someone who's tied up, next to his Grandpa bitching about The Munsters, and they banter back and forth like...there's not a man tied up on the other side of the room. Then there's the chit-chat between the scarf-clad yuppy Francis Matthais and his Wife in Lords Of Salem, and the banter between Laurie Strode's suburban, adoptive parents in Halloween. My point being that Zombie can sit anyone down for a gab-sesh and make it worth listening to.

   One of my favorites (of many) is the van scene in Halloween II: Zombie has this funny, flirty, and dirty moment between a Sweet Transvestite and a shy Wolfman. Wolfy's clearly nervous, flexing and posturing with all his might. She's teasing him to make him more fidgety as his confidence drowns in alcohol. The whole scene is wonderfully awkward and would be right at home in a Linklater flick. Unfortunately, Michael Myers bursts in and kills them... AND kills the moment, which sucks because I could have watched their ticklish banter go on for 30 more minutes. Zombie does that a lot and I get why: he's humanizing characters before they're dispatched, just look at how much time is devoted to Banjo & Sullivan before Otis and Baby fuck up their world.

  RZ's said before:
  "if you have faceless characters getting killed by a faceless killer then you have a faceless movie" - which is the tragedy of 31

  The first 20 minutes of that movie are some of his best character interactions. It's so charming and funny and pervy. ...and then it turns into an obnoxious and sappy bore once it becomes a 'horror movie'. It's choked with plot once the shit hits the fan and the characters either shrink to nothing or get hammed the fuck up. To paraphrase Joe Bob Briggs: there's too much plot gettin' in the way of that movie. House Of 1000 Corpses opens with its best scene but then it's all down music video/Texas Chainsaw pastiche hill from there, but it was his freshman effort so I forgive it. There's no excuse for 31. Where Devil's Rejects put Rob on a more mature path from Corpses, Halloween II saw him pull off onto more experimental roads and, from there, I hoped Lords Of Salem would follow the logical progression. And it did: it was a huge leap forward, a whole shift in pacing, tone, and temperament without losing his winning personality (and that's not sarcasm). 31 was a step back, a crowd-funded movie made for, and quite literally BY, his fans. They paid him for a product and got exactly what they cashed out for: same shit, different movie.

   It got even worse with 3 From Hell.

   Rob threw a poll up on Facebook asking fans whether or not they'd like to see a sequel to Rejects; the demand was in and he followed suit. That doesn't sound like an artist who's ready to grow, it sounds like someone content to detour ambition so they can keep playing their greatest hits. On that note: I feel like he can bounce back from this, I hope he does, but between 3FH and 31...he's fallen from grace in a big, bad way; holstering his very real talent in favor of literal fan-service.

   If he were to try--like really try--he could make a punk-rock, hillbilly American Graffiti and it would be fucking sublime.

Friday, May 1, 2020

April- What I Watched/Read

1- The Virgin Spring (Ingmar Bergman, 1960) (R)
    Andrei Rublev (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1966)
2- Spookies (Genie Joseph, Thomas Doran, Brandon Faulkner, 1986)
    Under Seige (Andrew Davis, 1990) (R)
    She Killed In Ecstasy (Jess Franco, 1971)
    Machete Maidens Unleashed! (Mark Hartley, 2010)
3- Malabimba (Andrea Bianchi, 1979)
    Emanuelle and the Last Cannibals (Joe D'Amato, 1977)
5- Misery by Stephen King (1987)
    Misery (Rob Reiner, 1990) (R)
    The Fan (Eckhart Schmidt, 1982)
6- Chilly Scenes of Winter (Joan Macklin Silver, 1979)
    Stay Tuned (Peter Hyams, 1992) (R)
    California Split (Robert Altman, 1974)
    Better Call Saul
7- Kings of the Road (Wim Wenders, 1976)
8- Dolemite (Rudy Ray Moore, 1975)
    The Big Bird Cage (Jack Hill, 1972)
    Twin Peaks: The Pilot (David Lynch, 1990) (R)
    Eyes of Laura Mars (Irvin Kershner, 1978)
9- The Crimson Kimono (Samuel Fuller, 1959)
     Sudden Fury (Brian Damude, 1975)
     Pixote (Hector Babenco, 1981)
10- Confessions of A Mask by Yukio Mishima (1949)
     A Generation (Andrzej Wajda, 1955)
     Kanal (Andrzej Wajda, 1957)
     Ashes and Diamonds (Andrzej Wajda, 1958)
     House (Nobuhiko Obayashi, 1977) (R)
11- Hot Fuzz (Edgar Wright, 2007) (R)
     Live Like A Cop, Die Like A Man (Ruggero Deodato, 1978)
     The Killer of Dolls (Michael Skaife, 1974)
     The Corruption of Chris Miller (Juan Antonio Bardem, 1973)
12- Taipei Story (Edward Yang, 1985)
      Shampoo (Hal Ashby, 1975)
      Mishima: A Life In Chapters (Paul Schrader, 1985) (R)
13- Savage Dawn (Simon Nuchtern, 1985)
      Running Scared (Peter Hyams, 1986) (R)
      Bunny Lake Is Missing (Otto Preminger, 1965)
      Better Call Saul
14- Swimming to Cambodia (Jonathan Demme, 1987)
      Documentary Now
      Harlan County USA (Barbara Kopple, 1976)
15- Tremors (Ron Underwood, 1990) (R)
16- Dolemite Is My Name (Craig Brewer, 2019)
      The Human Tornado (Cliff Roquemore, 1976)
      Adaptation (Spike Jonze, 2002) (R)
17- Odd Man Out (Carol Reed, 1947)
      Devs (5 episodes)
18- The Tough Ones (Umberto Lenzi, 1976)
      Scream, Queen! My Nightmare On Elm Street (Roman Chimienti, Tyler Jensen, 2019)
      Devs (3 episodes)
19- Hail, Caesar! (Joel and Ethan Coen, 2016) (R)
     Winter Light (Ingmar Bergman, 1962) (R)
      First Reformed (Paul Schrader, 2018) (R)
20- Touch of Evil (Orson Welles, 1958) (R)
      Better Call Saul Season Finale
      Fleshpot On 42nd Street (Andy Milligan, 1973)
21- Last Evenings On Earth by Roberto Bolano (1997)
      Fat City (John Huston, 1972)
      4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days (Cristian Mungiu, 2007)
22- The Hidden (Jack Sholder, 1987) (R)
      Polyester (John Waters, 1981)
      Out of the Past (Jacques Tourneur, 1947)
23- The Asphalt Jungle (John Huston, 1950)
      Pharos of Chaos (Manfred Blank, Wolf-Eckhart Buhler, 1983)
      Short Eyes (Robert M. Young, 1977)
24- Finished Community Season 2
     Chopping Mall (Jim Wynorski, 1986) (R)
     Bloodsucking Freaks (Joel M. Reed, 1976)
25- Paper Moon (Peter Bogdonavich, 1973)
26- Prometheus (Ridley Scott, 2012) (R)
      Alien (Ridley Scott, 1979) (R)
      Aliens (James Cameron, 1986) (R)
27- Swag by Elmore Leonard (1976)
28- Finished Justified Season 4
      Destroyer (Karyn Kusama, 2018)
29- The Killing Kind (Curtis Harrington, 1973)
      Suture (Scott McGehee and David Seigel, 1993)
      The Face of Another (Hiroshi Teshitahara, 1966) (R)
30- Revenge: Eleven Dark Tales by Yoko Ogawa (2013)

(R)- rewatch