I'malways keen to give indie films a bit of a leg-up, and for those who have read any of the film reviews on BORDERLINE, you'll find that most reviews on here are either cult, little known, or independent flicks that are floating around out there.
With limited budgets, lo-fi production, and a DIY ethic, indie films have always been more of a labour of love than a money making venture, and the chances of an indie production making it or breaking it usually falls into the latter basket. Which I guess is why when something interesting comes along, I don't mind giving it a bit of a plug.
So sit back, and streeeeetch your sacks, while we go for a bit of a wander thru the darkened back streets of Walter Ruether's 2010 indie film "Nightmare Alley".
HIT IT UP
Essentially, what you've got is 7 short stories, joined by a brief monologue between each story, based on a number of ideas and concepts from the mind of one Walter Ruether, Director and Writer of Nightmare Alley. There's plenty of gore in Nightmare Alley: you get zombies eating brains, bodies being hacked to bits, axes to the head, cannibalism, decapitations, entrails being spilled, and lots of stabbings/slashing, all in the vein of Herschell Gordon Lewis and Ted V. Mikels films. And to top it off, all of it has been filmed with a grainy overlay to give it a "washed out" vibe.
1. A Fistful of Innards
For me, the Nightmare Alley story with the best possible scenario which could have in itself made for a great movie. Cowboys stumble across a meteorite that turns the dead into zombies. What's not to like? It started out great, but the ending kinda trailed off without any defining moment. Still, a great theme if only it would have been played out more.
A rat statue that turns evil when a pentagram necklace gets put around its throat. It's funny, and I really did like the story to it. And must admit that this vignette had a well defined start, story, and ending. And a kick-ass car!!!
3. Death Chat
Guy who cheats on his missus using the internet and gets more than he bargained for in the end. My least favourite story, and altho some of the make-up was kinda cool, it just didn't do it for me as a short story.
Up-sized dude in Daisy Dukes cut-off denims tries it on the next door neighbour down by the pool. Gets a leg in, only to have her old man walk in before it gets started. He bails, she kills the husband, and gets the Up-sized dude back for dinner the next night. Dinner just so happens to be the husband....
5. Closet Case
The token GLBT story of the bunch with the annoying gender dysphoric kid driving the dude at the bus stop over the edge to the point of getting a knife to the stomach. Did somebody order entrails? Over the top, but gore+++
6. The Great Damone
Piece about an artist entering his work into an art show who tries to do something new and is driven insane by his never ending nag of a wife who, eventually, ends up becoming a "part" of The Great Damone's new art project!!!
7. Slash of the Blade
Basically a kind of "Ghost of Jack the Ripper" story with lots & lots of slashings and blood, but without any real storyline or direction to the piece.
As an indie film punter, for the most part, indie movie's are either fully hit, or totally missed. Nightmare Alley really had some awesome potential in there, and I really would have like to see a few of the stories "played out" a bit more. Often, I felt like I had been left 'hanging', and the story just seemed to end without any really defined point. Which was a shame, because some of the storylines within themselves actually rocked. A number of the visuals and effects were pretty sweet, but the Grind-O-Scope effect was a bit of a hit & miss with me. Sometimes it became more of a distraction rather than enhancing the scene, but I do appreciate the idea. The music was a definite high point, and kudos to Ruether for incorporating some really great musical scores into the film. If you dig the whole Creepshow presentation style approach, then Nightmare Alley is right up your... ummmm.... alley! Overall, the concept for Nightmare Alley was a definite winner, I just would have liked to have seen a few of the stories fleshed out a bit more. Nightmare Alley is available right now at Blockbuster online.
SKULL SCORE OUT OF 5:
Directors: Laurence Holloway, Scarlet Fry
Writers: Scarlet Fry, Laurence Holloway
Stars: Vincent Bocchini, Scott Boyd and Tara Carlton
I can't believe it. THEY ARRIVED. In the mail. After only 2 and a bit weeks!!!
And even before they hit the store shelves....
Holy enchanted thoughtfist Batman, I have in my horrible little hands the long awaited very 1st Issues of two forgotten (and for the most part unseen outside of Canada & the United States) Cult Movie Classics in the form of 1990's TERMINAL CITY RICOCHET and 1999's THE WIDOWER.
For those who came in late....
TERMINAL CITY RICOCHET:
Never available on VHS and rarely shown outside of Canada, this dystopian vision is as timely as ever, and it includes the classic soundtrack that we released in 1989. This DVD + Soundtrack CD (and its sister DVD+CD, The Widower) is a must-have for anyone who loves punk, Jello Biafra, incisive media critiques like "Network" & "Wag The Dog," and/or dystopian nightmares like "1984" "Max Headroom" & "Brazil."
This instant cult classic is a surreal black romantic comedy featuring Jello Biafra, Joey "Shithead" Keithley, Ani Kyd, and Nardwuar The Human Serviette. The DVD comes with the star-studded, never released soundtrack featuring DOA, Neko Case And Her Boyfriends, The Evaporators, & more!
OMG.... did you read that bit too... NEVER BEFORE RELEASED!!!
And I have them. In my greasy little mits.
Right here..... Right NOW!!!
As soon as I've stopped jumping up and down and get a grip on myself (Yea stoner, get a grip... Ed.), I'll smack these thru the DVD "Player of Doom" and get an awesome "Double Feature Review" out for all you Jello-philes right here... on BODERLINE.
Y'know, when I look back over these pieces it's amazing that none of my heroes every actually uses their real names. Most of them have at least 3 or 4 pseudonyms or non-de-plumes they employ for varying purposes. And the scarier thought is that I often have done the same thing throughout my own life. Again as a line of demarcation, but sometimes it means more.
And Cat Stevens is no different. For me Cat Stevens falls into the same category as Malcolm X as far as the ability to change when change requires you to do so. The only difference is that Cat had a much bigger ego to deal with.
I draw a lot from Cat's passion. He put his whole heart into the words of his art. But hey, a lot of artists do that man, big deal. So yeah there has to be more involved...
I was very fortunate to have been brought up + nurtured in a very artistic, liberal and non-judgemental home environment. My sister is a conservatorium trained pianist who teaches piano in her spare time, and my father is president + chair of a number of keyboard clubs n south east Queensland, and collects old keyboards and organs as a hobby. My mother sings, and has an incredible vocal range, and I loved as a child to hide in another room and just listen to her without her knowing I was there, coz she just goes right off when she thinks no one's around.
As for me, my artistic flair is manifest across a very wide spectrum. If i can put two objects together two make a mark, I will. Pencil, paint, ink, charcoal, airbrush....anything. Of course I also love to make music, and went on to belt on keyboards, violins, guitars and then turntables. I also have an awesome collection of clay ocarinas, and even have a theremin for when i really wanna take it to another level. So, I had a good grounding and importantly, lots of encouragement to express myself. Couple all of this with the fact that my earliest childhood memories consist of my father reading to me, and if i could say thanks to my dad for only 1 thing, that would be it. It provided me with an avenue to intelligently direct my artistic passions and flair. Which, um, is what I'm doing now I guess!!!
But hey, what's all this got to do with Cat Stevens dude?
Well, growing up I was always different, and even though I got to always hang with the 'in' crowd, I never did quite fit in. And I always managed to defy accepted thought and standards -
Nobody had earrings, I got my ears pierced
Everybody got earrings, I took mine out...
I had really long hair, everybody else had short
They finally grew theirs, hell, I shaved mine clean off...
All my friends covered themselves in ink, i stayed clean of ink
They all want to get rid of their tatts now, ah, sucks to be you....
But hey, I didn't do that stuff just to be different. I did that stuff because that's where my heart was. And I wasn't worried about being different. I was worried about being me.
And Cat Stevens did the same thing throughout his career. He constantly 'shot himself in the foot' from a corporate marketing point of view. And it's well known that he drove the industry executives insane because of either not following current musical market trends, or sticking with what was 'working' for him at the time. Yes Cat, what where you thinking? Creative expression and adventure? How foolish, considering the real aim of the music industry is how much money we can sell your ass for. Coz that's all the bean counters in the smoke filled boardrooms are concerned with. And of course the fans don't really care about the depth of artist's songs, which explains why we have Myley Cyrus selling out stadiums.
If you check out Cat's albums, you can clearly map out the progression, growth and change within the artist, even from the album titles themselves. And because he was writing about himself from his heart, you actually get to watch a person grow and change through his thoughts and feelings as laid out in the songs. How cool is that?
Big fucking deal starchild.
Heaps of dudes still do that kinda stuff today.
Hell, check out System Of A Down dude...
Um, yeah. Sure...
But (and this is the point), at the height of his career, his wealth, his fame, hell... even his ego, in 1976 at the end of his MAJIKAT Earth Tour, he walked off the stage and walked away from the entire industry. Literaly. Now, the reason behind why he walked away is common knowledge. He nearly drowned, did a deal with a higher power, made it out alive, and became a devout Muslim and then morphed into Yusuf Islam, who he still is today.
As I've stated before, I'm not interested in anyone's politics and religion. And I'm not interested in Cat's either. But, I do admire the fact that (regardless of being a right or wrong choice) the man made a promise, and he kept it. Regardless of the cost involved. And this promise cost him a lot. And that's what I find groovy about him. That kinda courage, to stick to your principles. To do what you promise despite the negative costs involved. That's hardcore. Coz keeping your promises is heaps important. It's about being true to yourself.
Today Cat Stevens uses his energies and money to finance education facilities for children in the UK. And as an adult educator myself, what better way to use your resources and expend yourself than by teaching, encouraging, inspiring and empowering tomorrow's leaders? Cat Stevens was very protective of his artistic output, and refused to have others dictate to him how his thoughts and feelings should be presented. And I admire that very much in a person. And that's kinda what I'm doing now. Sharing myself not as others would have me be, but rather it's me sharing myself as I truly am. It's all me....
Even the really boring crappy bits in there. That's me too...
Now, I don't recommend stuff to people, coz there's nothing worse than going "Dude, this rocks" to a mate, who then checks it out, misses the point and then says "nah, that sucked big time". So, I'm not gunna encourage you to check out a Cat Stevens album or anything. But hey, if you already have, or just so happen to check 1 out, let me know what you think. And for the real adventurous punters, there's always the movie 'Harold and Maude', which is the only movie Cat did the entire soundtrack for. A very, very black comedy. Very inspiring. And I know you've made the effort to see it now Ms Malvar, haven't you...
So, it's all about being true to yourself.
And others too.
But hey, it's not time to make a change, just relax, take it easy. You're still young, that's your fault, there's so much you have to learn........ *(1)
END OF PART 5
NEXT WEEK: HEROES - Part 6 - Conscientious Objectors
If you're still here... thank you.
Please feel free to comment on my pieces. I willingly accept constructive criticism and comments on all my work. Hell, I'll take non-constructive criticism too. It's not life or death stuff y'know... I believe in respect. I'm not asking you to agree with anything in this piece, but please allow me to have my opinion. Remember, I openly admit I don't read other peoples stuff. Hey, you don't have to read mine, and I'm happy to let you write yours.
Did i push your buttons? If I did, then share this shit with your friends. Go on, hit that forward button...
All the words & mindless ramblings in BORDERLINE (c) 2008 - 2010 stonerphonic unless otherwise stated. Find my punk ass - http://www.facebook.com/stonerphonic Write my punk ass - email@example.com
* (1) Cat Stevens. Father and Son - "Tea for the Tillerman" (Island Records)
Yea yea yea. I know. I promised a huge Argento-a-thon months & months ago in the form of a retrospective DVD box set film review of sorts. Been busy and went trippin the light fantastic. But I'm back. So... without further ado...
Let's have our asses some Argento, starting with DEEP RED...
Que the high pitched Moog intro...
HIT IT UP
1975's Profondo Rosso (also known as Deep Red or The Hatchet Murders) is probably Dario Argento's best know and most popular cinematic presentation amongst Giallo and Horror afecionados alike. Profondo Rosso provided Argento with international exposure, helped amass a legion of fans, and set industry standards for Thriller and Horror genres.
The original Italian version kicks in at 126 minutes worth of film, whereas a lot of US versions remove around 22 minutes worth of footage. Most footage removed includes the graphic violence, all humorous scenes, almost all of the 'romantic interludes' between David Hemmings and Daria Nicolodi, and unfortunately part of the subplot regarding the house of the screaming child. Ripped off badly there my American friendos...
For the rest of the free world, the full-length Italian version (with English subtitles and one small cut by UK censors) is available on video in the UK. But for the hardcore Argento freaks out there, the only known widescreen print of this full-length Italian version can be found in... wait for it... Australia!!! This version is completely uncut and is screened on both SBS-TV and its pay-TV channel World Movies. And you thought all we had was Steve Irwin jumping on crocs and bloody kangaroos.
The basic story behind Profondo Rosso is we have music teacher Marcus Daly (Hemmings) as he investigates the violent murder of psychic medium Helga Ulmann (Macha Meril), which he witnesses in an apartment building. After his attempt to rescue the medium fails, Daly realises he could have seen the killer’s face among a group of portraits on the wall of the victim’s apartment but is unable to find or recognize it when the police arrive. Later in the film, he also initially overlooks another clue that causes him to discover a mouldering corpse walled up in a derelict house. In typical Argento fashion, one murder leads to a series of others as Daly’s obsession with this vital clue that he fails to understand endangers his life and that of everyone with whom he comes into contact. This inability of a character to interpret or comprehend what he has seen is a common theme in Argento’s films and was used repeatedly in Tenebrae.
Get back, or I'll knit you to death, I swear...
The killing of Helga Ulmann is prefaced by a child’s doggerel tune, the same music that accompanies the film’s opening sequence in which two shadowy figures struggle until one of them is stabbed to death. The music serves as the murderer’s calling card. When Daly hears it in his own apartment soon after becoming involved in the case he is able to foil his attacker. Later, he plays the tune to Giordani, a psychiatrist, who theorizes that the music is important because it probably played an integral part in a traumatic event in the killer's past. The doctor’s theory is of course correct, as the identity of the killer is finally revealed as Carlo’s insane mother Martha (Clara Calamai). When Carlo was still a child, he watched as she murdered her husband when he tried to have her committed, then entomb his body in a room of their house. Daly’s discovery of the corpse is one of the film’s most dramatic moments.
Mrs Bates, it's about your son Norman...
In the climax, Martha confronts Marcus and tries to kill him. Wielding a butchering knife, Martha chases him around the complex and into a room with an elevator. Marcus is stabbed in the shoulder by the knife, and kicks Martha toward the elevator shaft. A long necklace she wears catches in the bars of the shaft, leading to her death by decapitation when Daly summons the lift. The film ends with Daly staring into the resultant pool of blood.
Profondo Rosso follows fairly classic Italian Giallo plot lines, and as such for me is much more Argento Thriller than your Argento Horror styling. The film is violent (unless you're watching the US version... sorry...) and filled with massive amounts of suspense and "build up" moments, all focused of the machinations of murder. If you like your films with a fair degree of "ultra violence", for a 1970's film Profondo Rosso was certainly just that, ultra violent. Killing scenes were particularly drawn out and emphasised, and the blood flowed red. Stabbings, hot water scalding, bashings, decapitation, Profondo Rosso is replete with them all.
Argento was originally slated for the American History X remake
One of the cooler directorial aspects used by Argento through the film is the presaging of events by other minor, or seemingly insignificant events. As an example, the bathtub murder is "played out" by an earlier scene when Daly is scalded by an espresso machine. The same is seen where a child’s doll hanging from a noose and a brief cut to a dog fight foretells the killer's demise at the end of the film. The chain worn around the killer's neck becomes entangled in the bars of an elevator and lifts the killer into the air until they are decapitated.
Shaun, You've got red on you...
With Profondo Rosso, Argento started implementing many techniques that would become his trademarks in films to come. The very noticeable usage of odd camera angles, rolling cameras, and weird lighting techniques found their first usage by Argento in Profondo Rosso. Too, Profondo Rosso was the 1st of a number of films Argento employed Italian Prog Rock band Goblin in to rip out a more than memorable musical score for. Go on. Admit it. Don't you wish YOU wrote and performed the opening musical score? Yea, me too...
As far as horror/ thriller/ slasher films go, it's more than a hoot. Even Argento himself had a ball making it, so the stories go. Not only did he direct the film and write the script, he did actually act in it too. The closeup shots of the killer's hands, clad in black leather gloves, were performed by Argento. The film inspired him so much that he named his shop in Rome 'Profondo Rosso' after this film.
On the down side, on 16 May 2010 George A. Romero announced he planned the 3-D remake of Deep Red. The release is planned for 2011 an will completely screened in English-language. Let's hope it doesn't turn out like Romero's current utterly unforgivable excuse for a movie, Survival of the Dead (2010). Eeeehhhh....
No George, noooooooo......
SKULL SCORE OUT OF 5
Seriously kids, it's pretty damn hard to not give this piece of horror movie history anything but a perfect goddamn score. Even them hardass fuckers over at Rotten Tomatoes give this a damn perfect 100% rating. You honestly want me to go against that shit? Didn't thinkso...
The Mike over at From Midnight, With Love has unleashed a meme that has pulled me out of hibernation for all but a brief moment of time. I couldn't let this meme go untouched without adding my 2 cents worth to the deal for the simple fact that in The Mike's own blog post "Hey, Midnight Warriors! Wanna talk about some '70s Cult Films?" he states that a large number of bloggers out there weren't around during the 70's to actually enjoy these cult films on the silver screen when first released.
Well guess what boppers? I was....
Soooooo... not only am I more than qualified to spruik on my soap box about the glory of cult films from the 1970's, being the smartass that I am, my own TOP 5 list will only comprise of both "true" 1970's cult films that I personally got to "spy with my little eye" up there on the big screen AND have in my own movie collection. See. Told you I'm a smartass....
So, before I kick into my Top 5 list, let's set ourselves a half decent benchmark. Firstly, how the hell do we define a "Cult" film?
A cult film (also known as a cult movie/picture or a cult classic) is a film that has acquired a highly devoted but specific group of fans. Often, cult movies have failed to achieve fame outside the small fanbases; however, there have been exceptions that have managed to gain fame among mainstream audiences. Many cult movies have gone on to transcend their original cult status and have become recognized as classics; others are of the "so bad it's good" variety and are destined to remain in obscurity. Cult films often become the source of a thriving, obsessive, and elaborate subculture of fandom, hence the analogy to cults. However, not every film with a devoted fanbase is necessarily a cult film. Usually, cult films have limited but very special, noted appeal.
Cult films are often known to be eccentric, often do not follow traditional standards of mainstream cinema and usually explore topics not considered in any way mainstream—yet there are examples that are relatively normal. Many are often considered controversial because they step outside standard narrative and technical conventions. (1)
So with that thought in mind boppers, let's take "a jump to the left, and then a step to the right" back into the 70's and kick out a list of -
MY TOP 5"MOST ESSENTIAL CULT MOVIES OF THE 1970's"
Logan's Run is a 1976 science fiction film based on the novel of the same name by William F. Nolan and George Clayton Johnson. It depicts a dystopian future society in which population and the consumption of resources are managed and maintained in equilibrium by the simple expediency of killing everyone who reaches the age of thirty, preventing overpopulation. The story follows the actions of Logan 5, a "Sandman," as he "runs" from society's lethal demand.
The film version, directed by Michael Anderson and starring Michael York, Richard Jordan, and Jenny Agutter, was shot primarily in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex (including locations such as the Fort Worth Water Gardens and the Dallas Market Center) between June and September 1975. The film only uses the basic premise from the novel (everyone must die at a specific age, Logan runs with Jessica as his companion while being chased by Francis). The motivations of the characters are quite different in the film. It was the first film made using Dolby Stereo.
Since 1994, there have been several unsuccessful attempts to remake the film. (Thank fuck for that....Ed.)
Sometime in the 23rd century...the survivors of war, overpopulation and pollution are living in a great domed city, sealed away from the forgotten world outside. Here, in an ecologically balanced world, mankind lives only for pleasure, freed by the servo-mechanisms which provide everything. There's just one catch: Life must end at thirty unless reborn in the fiery ritual of Carousel.
The Really Cool Shit
The movie is often eclipsed by science fiction movies which came after it, such as Star Wars, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Blade Runner, and Alien. However, for a few years following the film, science fiction conventions sometimes featured "Runs" (either organized by the convention or done ad-hoc by fans of the film); these were a chase game similar to Tag, in which the Runners (most in costume) fled from a handful of Sandmen (also in costume). These decreased in popularity following several occasions in which police responded to frantic calls made by observers who mistook them for real chases.
The Low down
Westworld is a 1973 science fiction / thriller film written and directed by novelist Michael Crichton and produced by Paul Lazarus III. It stars Yul Brynner as a lifelike robot in a futuristic Western-themed amusement park, and Richard Benjamin and James Brolin as customers who are attacked by the park's robots when they malfunction.
Westworld was the last movie MGM produced before dissolving its releasing company, and was the first theatrical feature directed by Crichton. It was also the first feature film to use digital image processing to pixellate photography to simulate an android point of view. The film was nominated for Hugo, Nebula and Golden Scroll (a.k.a. Saturn) awards, and was followed by a sequel film, Futureworld, and a short-lived television series, Beyond Westworld.
The story is set sometime in the near future, in Delos, a high-tech, highly realistic fictional adult amusement park featuring androids that are almost indistinguishable from human beings. For a price of $1,000 per day, guests may indulge in any fantasy, including killing or having sex with the androids. The androids are programmed to act in character for each of the park's three themed zones: WesternWorld (the American Old West), MedievalWorld (medieval Europe), and RomanWorld (pre-Christian Rome). One of the main attractions in WesternWorld is the Gunslinger (Brynner), a robot programmed to start duels. Thanks to its programming, humans can always outdraw the Gunslinger and kill it. The guns issued to the guests also have temperature sensors that prevent them from shooting each other or anything else living but allow them to 'kill' the room-temperature androids.
The Really Cool Shit
Westworld was the first feature film to use digital image processing. John Whitney Jr. and Gary Demos at Information International Inc. (aka "Triple I") digitally processed motion picture photography to appear pixelized in order to portray the Gunslinger android's point of view. The approximately 2 minutes and 31 seconds worth of cinegraphic block portraiture was accomplished by color-separating (3 basic color separations plus black mask) each frame of source 70mm footage, scanning each of these elements to convert into rectangular blocks, then adding basic color according to the tone values developed. The resulting coarse pixel matrix was output back to film. The process was covered in the American Cinematographer article Behind the scenes of Westworld.
HAROLD AND MAUDE
The Low Down
Harold and Maude is a 1971 American comedy film directed by Hal Ashby. It incorporates elements of dark humor and existentialist drama, with a plot that revolves around the exploits of a young man intrigued with death, Harold (played by Bud Cort). Harold drifts away from the life that his detached mother prescribes for him, and develops a relationship with an elderly woman named Maude (played by Ruth Gordon).
The film is ranked number 45 on the American Film Institute's list of 100 Funniest Movies of all Time, and was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress in 1997 for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant." The film was a commercial flop in its original release, and critical reception was extremely mixed. However, it has since developed a large cult following.
Harold Chasen (Bud Cort) is a 19-year-old boy obsessed with death. He regularly stages elaborate suicides, attends funerals, and drives a hearse, all to the chagrin of his mother, socialite Mrs. Chasen (Vivian Pickles). At services for a total stranger, Harold meets Maude (Ruth Gordon), a 79-year-old woman who shares Harold's hobby of attending funerals for fun. He is entranced by her quirky outlook on life, which is bright and excessively carefree in contrast with his own morbidity. The pair form a bond, and Maude slowly shows Harold the pleasures of art and music (Harold is taught to play banjo), and teaches him how to "[make] the most of his time on earth." Meanwhile, Harold's mother determines, much against Harold's wishes, to find him a wife to settle down with. One by one, Harold frightens and horrifies each of his appointed dates by appearing to commit gruesome acts such as self-immolation, self-mutilation, and seppuku.
As they become closer, Harold announces that he will marry Maude, resulting in disgusted outbursts from his family. Maude's 80th birthday arrives, and Harold throws a surprise party for her. As the couple dance, Maude tells Harold that she "couldn't imagine a lovelier farewell." He immediately questions Maude as to her meaning, and she reveals that she has purposely taken an overdose of sleeping pills and will be dead by midnight. She restates her firm belief that 80 is the proper age to die.
Harold rushes Maude to the hospital, where she is treated unsuccessfully and dies. In the final sequence, Harold's car is seen going off a seaside cliff, but after the crash, the final shot reveals Harold standing quite calmly atop the cliff, holding his banjo. After gazing down at the wreckage, he dances away, picking out on his banjo Cat Stevens' "If You Want to Sing Out, Sing Out".
The Really Cool Shit
Harold and Maude is #45 on the American Film Institute’s list of 100 Years... 100 Laughs, the list of the top 100 films in American comedy. The list was released in 2000. Two years later, AFI released the list AFI's 100 Years... 100 Passions honoring the most romantic films for the past 100 years, Harold and Maude ranked #69. Entertainment Weekly ranked the film #4 on their list of “The Top 50 Cult Films.”
In June 2008, AFI revealed its "Ten Top Ten" - the best ten films in ten "classic" American film genres - after polling over 1,500 people from the creative community. Harold and Maude was acknowledged as the ninth best film in the romantic comedy genre.
The Low Down
The Warriors is a 1979 American cult action/thriller film directed by Walter Hill and based on Sol Yurick's 1965 novel of the same name. Like the novel, the film borrows elements from the Anabasis by Xenophon.
Cyrus (Roger Hill), leader of the Gramercy Riffs, the most powerful gang in New York City, calls a midnight summit of all New York area gangs, all of them asked to send nine unarmed representatives to Van Cortlandt Park. The Warriors, from Coney Island, Brooklyn, are one such gang.
Cyrus tells the assembled crowd that a permanent citywide truce would allow the gangs to control the city, pointing out there are 60,000 of them and only 20,000 officers in the NYPD. Most of the gangs laud his idea, but Luther (David Patrick Kelly), leader of the Rogues uses a smuggled gun to shoot Cyrus. Panic ensues and the NYPD rushes in. Fox (Thomas G. Waites) one of the Warriors, sees Luther commit the shooting, but in the chaos, Luther screams that the Warriors are responsible. While the Riffs beat their leader Cleon (Dorsey Wright), the other eight Warriors escape the melee and debate their next move, knowing they are deep in enemy territory.
Meanwhile, Masai, second-in-command of the Riffs, takes charge, and declares a bounty on the Warriors. This sets the city's gang population out hunting for them, with a seemingly omniscient radio DJ (Lynne Thigpen) reporting on the events.
The Really Cool Shit
Over the years, The Warriors has developed a significant cult following. At Seattle’s Grand Illusion Cinema, programmer Zack Carlson remembers, “people were squeezed in, lying on the floor, cheering". Entertainment Weekly named The Warriors the 16th greatest cult film on their "Top 50 Greatest Cult Films" list. The magazine also ranked it 14th in the list of the "25 Most Controversial Movies Ever".
The Low Down
Stone is a 1974 Australian film, produced and directed by Sandy Harbutt. It was a low budget movie, written by Sandy Harbutt and Michael Robinson.
Police officer Stone goes undercover with the Gravediggers outlaw motorcycle gang, to find out who is murdering their members, one by one.
The film stars Ken Shorter and features Rebecca Gilling, Bill Hunter and Helen Morse. The film's soundtrack was composed by Billy Green and featured some members of his group Sanctuary. Motorcycles featured include the legendary Kawasaki Z1(900). Stone initially rides a Norton.
The promotional trailer clip on YouTube features narration by radio and media personality John Laws. The film was featured in the documentary, Not Quite Hollywood about Australian exploitation films.
When several members of the GraveDiggers outlaw motorcycle club are murdered, Sydney detective Stone (Ken Shorter) is sent to investigate. Led by the Undertaker (Sandy Harbutt), a Vietnam war veteran, the GraveDiggers allow Stone to pose as a gang member. Leaving behind society girlfriend Amanda (Helen Morse), Stone begins to identify with the Undertaker and his comrades Hooks (Roger Ward), Toad (Hugh Keays-Byrne), Dr Death (Vincent Gil), Captain Midnight (Bindi Williams), Septic (Dewey Hungerford) and Vanessa (Rebecca Gilling), the Undertaker’s girlfriend. Amid violent confrontations with the Black Hawks, a rival gang the GraveDiggers hold responsible, Stone uncovers a political conspiracy behind the killings. When the truth is revealed, Stone must choose between his job and his loyalty to the GraveDiggers.
The Really Cool Shit
I was lucky enough to have a really cool dad who would take me to see alternative and off-beat cinema all through the 70's. But Stone stood as being 'different' for a number of reasons, not only because it's a piece of Australian iconic underground and alternative cinema from the 70's. For me, even at an early age, Stone was a life changing viewing experience. It was the first time I had ever heard the word "cunt" in any movie, let alone any movie outside of a pornographic film. Stone was almost the Australian equivalent of the American "Easy Rider", but with a cultural flavour unique to the "Down Under" life style and experience in the 1970's. It was a film that captured a piece of our alternative and underground lifestyle, it showcased upcoming Australian acting talent, and remains as it was then, a confronting visual and thought provoking cinematic story. It took me ages to find a copy of it as I hit my teenage years, because it became one of those 'forgotten' movies that only a handful of people knew or cared about. Even today, it's still hard to locate a decent transfer copy of the film onto DVD. I only have it on VHS!!!
The title of this piece is "The Most Essential Cult Movies of the 1970's", and although we've kinda focused on the 'Cult' aspect, really, the key word in the meme for me is actually 'essential'. Movies you owe yourself to check out before the bucket list checks in. You may have seen The Warriors, hell, you might even have seen a few others in my list. But I can guarantee that whilst none of the movies falls into my preferred genre of Horror, all of my Top 5 Most Essential Cult Movies of the 1970's are indeed exactly that. Essential. Worth making the effort to hunt down and lose yourself in for an hour or so with the damn cell phone turned off, in homage to the fact we didn't have them annoying fuckers in the 70's to ruin our movie viewing experience anyway...
You couldn't sell? Sadly, no. We had one serious offer on the table but it didn't work out. Our only choice is now to liquidate our entire collection and organize for new tenants to take over the lease as quickly as possible.
When's the final day? Sunday 29th August. This Friday night is the Official Wrap Party: a screening at Tribal Theatre, followed by a rock'n'roll extravaganza at the Step Inn (details are a little further along this email).
What happens to the left-over stock?We will continue to do what we have always done with excess stock – sell them via email lists and Ebay. Trash will continue as an internet presence, but without the public store front, and by selling rather than renting. So PLEASE stay on our email list, there's a lot more good stuff to come. To paraphrase the words of Fu Manchu, “The world shall hear from Trash again!”
What will you do with all of your spare time? WHAT spare time? Ha...but seriously, not running the store means more time to finish off the PhD, work on more film projects, and perhaps do some freelance stuff here and there. I'll keep programming Tribal Theatre screenings and our Schlock Treatment TV show on Briz 31 until I drop dead of exhaustion. Ultimately, though, life will be about new creative challenges, and I'll keep my eyes and ears wide open for new opportunities. If anyone's in need of the services of a scruffy ex-counter monkey, please drop me a line.
So...how are you feeling about the last fifteen years of your life drawing to a close? Weird beyond words. It's like being forced to make the decision to turn off the life support system on your fifteen year old child. But, as so many of our loyal readers have pointed out, it's about endings and new beginnings, and despite appearances I'm a born optimist, though Lord knows why...
And so, my friends, I ask you all to join us over the nest 13 days to drop by, pay your last respects, take a piece of Trash with you, and hope to see you this Friday night, at Tribal or the Step In or both venues, for a good old fashioned Irish style wake.
Viva! Andrew (co-owner, manager)
“COME AND GET 'EM!” EVERYTHING, AND I MEAN EVERYTHING, MUST BE SOLD BY SUNDAY 29th AUGUST
Posters, books, magazines
Shelves and shop fittings (even our couch is up for auction!)
EVERYTHING IS NEGOTIABLE but please be mindful that we are selling off our fifteen year collection reluctantly, and that many items are long out of print and considered quite valuable.
THIS FRIDAY: “FAREWELL TRASH VIDEO” OFFICIAL WRAP PARTY (or PARTIES!)
After fifteen years of unapologetic cultural terrorism, Trash Video finally closes its doors on Sunday 22nd August, and they're having the wrap party to end all wrap parties...
#1:Trash Video’s ARTHOUSE 101 presents the OFFICIAL TRASH VIDEO WRAP PARTY! Tickets only $8
8pm FRIDAY 20th AUGUST at TRIBAL THEATRE, 346 George St Brisbane
ESCAPE FROM THE PLANET OF THE TAPES (dir. Anthony Mullins & Kris Kneen, 2003)
Half-hour SBS documentary by husband-and-wife team, BAFTA-winning director Mullins and acclaimed author Kris Kneen, filmed during Trash Video’s turbulent evolution in 2000 from Valley hole in the wall to its current West End home.
“Reality and fantasy crash head on in this innovative documentary about Andrew Leavold, Australia’s leading cult video collector and his desperate attempt to save his life’s work. Andrew's alternative video store will close unless he can find an investor and move to a bigger premises. But will this expansion mean selling his soul to the corporate devil? Escape from the Planet of the Tapes tracks this crucial time in the history of Trash Video as Andrew wrestles with the future of his dream store. Gritty documentary realism melds seamlessly with elaborate ‘film noir’ style dramatisations of key events to capture Andrew’s unbridled passion for film and fun. This is a unique documentary experience, as stimulating as it is inspiring.”
LESBO-A-GO-GO (dir. Andrew Leavold, 2003) Trash Video’s feature film debut!
Review by Lachlan Huddy: “2003’s Lesbo-A-Go-Go, Leavold’s no-budget homage to 60s sexploitation icon Doris Wishman (a woman oft-referred to as the female Ed Wood) is ‘porn without porn’, a cheap, tawdry faux-morality play that propels hapless heroine Sugar from one hideous travail—cemetery rape, drug addiction, rape-during-abortion—to the next before having her stabbed with a syringe and condemned by a priest as she’s dying on the footpath. Shot in grainy black and white and featuring no sync sound, Lesbo is as trashy in its delivery as it is vile in its content, and leaves you in need of a shower and a good stiff drink—right on the money, in other words. It’s elevated by a soundtrack just this side of kick-ass and a frankly awesome psychadelic colour sequence, and is a tremendously fun, sustained in-joke for Wishman fans.”
Lesbo features a stunning array of underground film and music identities: a terrifying-looking Geoff Corbett (Sixfthick), Melbourne’s Fred Negro as the Vision from Hell, Richard (MUFF/Bloodlust) Wolstencroft as a backyard abortionist, Gazoonga Attack as an all-girl gang, and The Aampirellas (featuring Evil Dick from HITS!) as drag act.
“…more entertainment value in its miniscule budget than a hundred Matrix Reloadeds” (Boris Lugosi, Girls, Guns and Ghouls)
“Ugly, reprehensible and morally repugnant. And I MADE the film.” (Andrew Leavold)
#2: "IT'S THE END OF TRASH VIDEO AS WE KNOW IT (AND I FEEL BLIND!)"
7.30pm til late, FRIDAY 20th AUGUST at STEP INN, Fortitude Valley
The NEW JACK RUBYS
MAIN STREET BRATS
and emcee WAYNE KEYS
Plus BIG-SCREEN MADNESS! DANCERS! PRIZES! Tickets $12/$10
THIS WEEK'S PRESS BLITZ
Brisbane readers can find articles this week in the Courier Mail (Tuesday) and 3D World (a Sydney magazine only recently launched here). One of the most comprehensive pieces ever on the shop, however, is by Lachlan Huddy for a new e-magazine soon to be launched by former Empire Magazine and SBS Movie Show scribe Michael Adams:
“Schlockbuster” was one title jockeying for the prize. “I Spit On Your Video” and “Video Sleazy” were all in contention, too. In the end, though, simplicity carried the day, and Brisbane’s first, finest and filthiest alternative video store was baptised Trash Video.
“It’s a good filter,” says owner-manager Andrew Leavold of the evocative moniker. “That kind of passive, mindless consumption that categorises most movie-watchers. It’s a good filter to scare them off.”
Since 1995, Trash has been the proud purveyor of everything beyond the flow of cinema’s mainstream. Shock, schlock, art, grunge, indie, cult, foreign, rare, grotesque or sublime—if it exists outside the realm of casual moviegoing, Trash is the place to find it. Burning to take in Microwave Massacre, the self-declared worst horror movie ever made? It’s in the Trash stash. Can’t track down Leni Reifenstahl’s 1930s Nazi propaganda Triumph of the Will for that modern history essay? Pick it out of the Trash. And while you’re there, why not indulge some nostalgia and plump for the Twin Peaks Season Three double-VHS pack? Yes indeed, Trash is everything the modern video shop isn’t: cluttered with obscurity, disorganised, and bursting with character.
But to speak of Trash is to speak of Leavold, its indefatigable founder; the store is but an extension of the man himself, for whom the creation and consumption of culture—popular and otherwise—is more than a business or pleasure: it is a way of life. And has been for a long, long while.
“Basically this was an idea that I had when I was ten,” Leavold says. It’s a July afternoon and we’re talking over the counter of Trash’s current store in Brisbane’s West End. To the left sit neat piles of rental DVDs stacked thirty and forty high; to the right the store computer is near-buried under posters and VHS and other bric-a-brac your local Civic would’ve sold off by now. There’s a touch of gloom in the air, but we’ll get to that later—for now there’s only Leavold in a Coney Island T-shirt, with his errant blonde hair framing a wild-eyed face, telling Trash’s tale. It is, he says, “a story of childhood obsession taken to ludicrous extremes.”
The son of a civil engineer, Leavold spent his early years globetrotting with a father who tended to accept “filthy overseas jobs” throughout the Middle East. Starved of pop culture care of the slim pickings on Arabic television, Leavold took his first step along the road to Trashy treasure with the advent of betamax (a videotape format, for all you post-Gen X-ers). Late-night gems like “old Vincent Price films” and “the most grotesque horror films that were just coming out as part of the Italian New Wave” infiltrated the Middle East through pirate video networks, the “betamax grapevine”—and found a spellbound audience in ten-year-old Leavold.
“The Indian guys who used to run the local video store used to wait for me to come in,” he recalls fondly. “I’d pedal up on my bicycle and they’d go, ‘Ah! We have a new zombie film for you. But don’t tell your mother!’ And they would feed me vile garbage… It got to the point where my mother had written to every one of the video shops I was a member of saying, ‘Do not give my son any more horror films’.”
But it was too late for little Andrew: an idea had taken root. “All the time, I kept dreaming about having a video shop that had all these movies that I loved in it. This kind of anal obsession as a ten-year-old to control culture.”
It was an obsession anal enough to persist throughout high school and into his first job, during which he was “blowing every paycheck on a pile of VHS.” When his trove hit critical mass—at somewhere around 2000 tapes—Leavold went public and Trash Video was born, its first home a little walk-up over indie music club The Zoo in Brisbane’s Fortitude Valley. It was a fine neighbourhood to raise an alternative video store: grungy, unpretentious and not quite suitable for the under-twelve set. But time waits for no cult film fan, and after five years, when Trash’s stock had more than tripled, the Valley had mutated.
“Trendy fuckheads on bad drugs,” Leavold laments. “When all of a sudden you find yourself surrounded by stores that sell $80 can openers, it’s time to go. The lease was up; we thought it was either sink or swim time. We either try to do this somewhere else on a larger scale or give up. And luckily one of our readers on our email said, ‘Why don’t we try West End?’ That was ten years ago.”
And what a decade it’s been. Trash’s stock has swollen to a horde of more than 16,000; a silent partner has come onboard as co-owner; a 2003 documentary—Escape From the Planet of the Tapes—has been made about the store and about Leavold; and a loyal, close-knit community of renters has entered Trash’s orbit. In the few hours I’m here, Leavold greets every walk-in with a smile, easy conversation or a few flicks reserved just for them: “Have I got something for you?” is a regular refrain. No clinical efficiency here; just a shared love of the movies, a gentle reminder of how unifying a force cinema can be.
Still, this is retail. It can’t all have been sugar and spice and everything nice. Can it?
“I’ve seen you rip up someone’s membership,” a friend and regular customer says to Leavold, smirking, before quoting, “‘Just get out!No! No, I don’t care what you say! Just get out!’”
Leavold is reflective. “Yeah. There have been a number of those public meltdowns...I hate a lot of people for years. I carry grudges. Anyone who transgresses the rules of politeness here.”
And what are those, I wonder?
“It’s based on ever-changing brain chemistry,” Leavold grins, with a good-natured twitch of the nostril.
Outside Trash’s hallowed aisles, meanwhile, the past decade saw Leavold cement both himself and his store as cult cinema icons with Film Club, weekly screening nights across Brisbane that ran until 2006 showcasing the best, worst and weirdest of Trash’s back catalogue. He also launched Schlock Treatment, his weekly cult film TV show on Brisbane’s Channel 31—and added his own cult curios to the world of cinema.
2003’s Lesbo-A-Go-Go, Leavold’s no-budget homage to 60s sexploitation icon Doris Wishman (a woman oft-referred to as the female Ed Wood) is “porn without porn”, a cheap, tawdry faux-morality play that propels hapless heroine Sugar from one hideous travail—cemetery rape, drug addiction, rape-during-abortion—to the next before having her stabbed with a syringe and condemned by a priest as she’s dying on the footpath. Shot in grainy black and white and featuring no sync sound, Lesbo is as trashy in its delivery as it is vile in its content, and leaves you in need of a shower and a good stiff drink—right on the money, in other words. It’s elevated by a soundtrack just this side of kick-ass and a frankly awesome psychadelic colour sequence, and is a tremendously fun, sustained in-joke for Wishman fans.
Like any cult film worth its salt, Lesbo offended audience sensibilities and ignited a riot of ire amongst the moral majority—particularly when a drunken interview that Leavold gave to Brisbane newspaper The Courier Mail left the mistaken impression that there’d been more than just simulated sex going on during a shoot at Toowong Cemetery.
“The article basically said we were filming gangbangs on open graves,” Leavold deadpans. “And immediately there was a shitstorm.” Quite sensational for a film which, Leavold thinks, could have scraped in with a PG-rating. “None of what you see on the screen is explicit. There’s no profanity whatsoever. There’s no onscreen salaciousness. It’s all implied.”
After three years the shitstorm had slackened enough to allow Leavold back behind the camera for 2006’s Bluebirds of Peace and Destruction, a fictionalisation of the lesbian vampire killing in Brisbane’s Orleigh Park in 1989. With $2000 from a generous Trash customer, Leavold set about crafting the tale of three damaged women who abduct a family man and murder him to drink of his blood.
“I thought, right, the only way to do this is to totally improvise it,” Leavold says. “Get two genuine…” He pauses, selecting his words.
“Crack whores?” offers the teenage work experience girl, familiar with the story.
“I wouldn’t say crack whores,” Leavold replies. “No, I would say two girls who are no strangers to the sex industry.” He cackles infectiously.
The girls may be no strangers to the sex industry, but they’re no strangers to credible emotion, either; Bluebirds’s documentary aesthetic is complimented by engaging naturalistic performances from its lead actresses—friends of Leavold’s then and still—and a fantastically foreboding score. Assembled with taut editing, it’s a snappy, authentic and brutally effective ride into Brisbane’s seamy underworld.
Then there’s the upcoming The Search For Weng Weng. If there’s a magnum opus in Leavold’s life so far, this is it: a guerilla doco about Weng Weng, star of For Y’ur Height Only, a Filipino spy thriller about a kung fu-kicking midget James Bond.
“Weng Weng was, I think, was one of those catalytic moments where cinema changes forever,” Leavold says. “Literally a bolt from the sky. I’d never come across a film that was so inadvertantly a masterpiece… Somehow that absurd image of a kung fu-kicking midget had a weird kind of humanity about it and I wanted to know where he came from, what his real name was, I wondered if there were other Weng Weng films.”
Filmed over four years and as many trips to the Philippines, Search is now in post-production, Leavold struggling to “get across the surreal nature of the Philippines and the bizarre way that things just literally fell out of the sky during the search for Weng Weng in order to piece that story together… that layer of weirdness and serendipity that covers everything.”
In the meantime, his work on Search gave birth to Machete Maidens Unleashed!, the new documentary fromNot Quite Hollywood’s Mark Hartley, which had its premiere at the Melbourne International Film Festival on July 24.
“I signed [Search] over to a producer here,” Leavold explains. “She approached ABC. ABC went, ‘We’d rather have a more conventional, essay-based documentary on B-filmmaking in the Philippines, like Not Quite Hollywood, so why don’t we get that nice chap who made Not Quite Hollywood to make it?’ And I went, [sighs] ‘Fine’, graciously stepped aside, and Mark came onboard.”
Leavold’s time in the Philippines also seeded the idea for a fittingly spun-out feature film, which is now at second draft stage and has secured partial funding. “It’s about an Australian who goes to the Phillipines to try and make a dwarf kung fu remake of The Harder They Come, the Jamaican Spaghetti Western. Ends up losing his shit, you know, Francis Ford Coppolla-style.”
And is there any better way to lose one’s shit?
Amid it all, his exhaustive research into Weng Weng caught the eye of Brisbane academia, and landed him a place in—of all things—a doctorate. “Griffith University said, ‘Why don’t you just turn it into a thesis? You’ve done all your research. Now just write the damn thing.’” So the directorial credit for The Search for Weng Weng just might read Dr Andrew Leavold…
With so many balls to juggle, it’s a miracle that Leavold can keep them all in the air and still have time for the store that started it all.
But can he?
“You know,” he says, gesturing around the shop, “you spend seven to ten hours here, you have very little enthusiasm for anything else.”
Ah. Remember the touch of gloom in the air we were speaking about earlier? Here it is.
According to Andrew Leavold, digital’s killed the video shop. After fifteen years as Brisbane’s—and Australia’s—largest cult video store, Trash Video is closing its doors against the harsh light of a changing media landscape, in which the likes of Foxtel IQ, Netflix and Bigpond Movies are rendering quaint local video stores, with their physical contraints and limited stock, all but obsolete.
“The idea of an old-fashioned video shop has well and truly had its day,” Leavold says, and it isn’t the voice of bitterness, nor defeat, but the voice of a man content to move on. “The onus now is on ownership.It just means that we’re consuming culture in a different way now. Much more immediate. And, I think, with the switchover of technology, that’s our cue to exit as gracefully as we can.”
With the day winding down, I finally take my leave from Trash. I’ve stayed far longer than I’d planned, but it’s an easy place to get lost in. I pause, peering down the aisles at the rows and rows of VHS and DVD, thinking of the films inside each, the weird, the enchanting, the scandalous. Somewhere here is the mutant fish baby from Corman’s Humanoids from the Deep; the mad, murderous, Buddhist Jew-burner from the nutso Czechoslovakian horror The Cremator; the prehistoric stop-motion wonders from dino-western The Valley of Gwangi. Soon they’ll need to find new shelves from which to ply their strange nightmares and stranger dreams—and perhaps no-one will take them in. It’s a mournful thought, and I almost feel that words should be said, some goodbye prayer.
TRASH VIDEO:“We all thought the end of the world was 2012, and for Trash at least it comes two years early!”