Women In Prison [Box Set]

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Oh yeah, all my Christmases have just come at once – four W.I.P. Roger Corman productions in one box! Break out the cold spoons honey I’m gonna need ‘em. Corman takes the tried and true formula of the innocent gal sent to priz and amps up the violence, nudity, stupidity and fun with these drive in classics. With groovy 70s chicks, bamboo cages, tiny outfits, lots of Asian extras who seem to be doing their best to keep a straight face, mud wrasslin’, sadistic prison guards, food fights, sexual perversions and wonderful hair he really couldn’t go wrong…

BIG DOLL HOUSE (1971) Continue reading

Luther the Geek

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geek (gek)

n. Slang

Outrageous sideshow performer: A carnival performer whose show consists of bizarre acts, such as biting the head off a live chicken.

As a child, little hillbilly Luther once witnessed a sideshow geek doin’ his thing in a barn and was immediately transfixed by the man’s bloody antics. Now Luther is grown and incarcerated on three counts of murder, but he is about to be granted parole… Continue reading

Shut Up Little Man! An Audio Misadventure

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In 1987 two friends, Eddie and Mitch, relocated from their hometown in Wisconsin to San Francisco, looking to leave behind their small town beginnings and move onto something bigger and better. The first (and cheapest) place they found was a ramshackle apartment building in the Lower Haight district, so they quickly moved in.

It wasn’t until a few days later that they discovered their neighbours were two raging alcoholics who loudly hurled verbal abuse at each other into the wee hours of the morning. These neighbours were Peter Haskett, a flamboyant homosexual and Raymond Huffman, a violent homophobe. When these epic slinging matches began to sound out of control, Eddie made the decision to surreptitiously record the arguments in case the need for evidence may ever arise. But soon the boys realised that this was just the reality these two men lived: getting drunker and drunker until well into the evening when they would begin to goad each other into the inebriated trading of (often witty and hilarious) insults, one of Peter’s favourites being “Shut up li’l man!”.

Before long the boys had boxes of tapes filled with uproarious “audio vérité” which they began to make copies of for friends, encouraging them to spread it around. And before they knew it the tapes had made their way into the tape trading underground and sspiraledinto a pop culture phenomenon spawning plays, comic books, a film and even a puppet show. Shut Up Little Man! details this journey via interviews with Eddie and Mitch as well as anecdotes from personalities such as Dan Clowes, Henry Rosenthal, Ivan Brunetti, Mike Mitchell and Bob Mothersbaugh.

Before I saw this film I’d come across the Shut Up Little Man! tapes in various guises, whether it be via samples in music (John Zorn’s Cobra to be specific) or in Bananafish magazine. I knew the back-story and was curious to see how well it would translate into a feature length documentary… well, I’m happy to say that director Matthew Bate has nailed it. Bate takes the “found sound” concept and applies it to the film medium flawlessly – in between the talking heads we are treated to collage-style cut ‘n’ pastings of 1950s adverts with Ray’s homophobic rants edited over the audio, colourful cassette tape art, reenactments, animation, and numerous audio samples.

Aside from exploring the cult value these tapes have to so many people, the documentary also covers a 3-way battle for the film rights, the inevitable “exploitation or art?” question, and the hunt for Pete and Ray’s occasional tenant/spectator Tony.

All things considered, Matthew Bate has produced a highly enjoyable document that portrays humanity at its lowest point, both tragic and comedic.

An excellent release from Madman that includes 45 minutes of worthwhile extras.

Extras

  • Dramatic Recreations: Extended and New Cuts
  • “Return to the Pepto” – Eddie and Mitch revisit Steiner Street apartment
  • Art of Exploitation? Eddie and Mitch respond
  • “Eddie and Mitch On Set”
  • “Goodnight Sweet Princes”
  • Extended Interview with Dan Clowes
  • Extended Interview with Ivan Brunetti
  • Bob Taicher Interview
  • Detroit shock jocks Drew and Mike @WRIF Radio interview
  • “Peter and Raymond Confusion” – DOUG LEVY Music Video
  • Orson Welles – Frozen Peas Extended Animation Cut

Shut Up Little Man! An Audio Misadventure is available on DVD from Madman Entertainment.

William S. Burroughs: A Man Within

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Released under the ‘Arthouse Film’ series which focuses on “important artists from a variety of fields both contemporary and classic”, Madman bring us number 038 in the series – the 2010 documentary William S. Burroughs: A Man Within.

The film mixes archive footage, photographs, narration by Peter Weller and interviews from Burroughs’ closest friends, fans and ex-lovers. Some of the more notable people interviewed are: John Waters, Peter Weller, Patti Smith, Gus Van Sant, Genesis P-Orridge, Iggy Pop, Jello Biafra, Grant Hart, Thurston Moore and many more.

The documentary is not a chronological look at his life, it offers a brief overview of his upbringing before getting to the good stuff. The film touches on issues such as the censorship case around Naked Lunch but mostly focuses on the cultural impact his works have had and the profound influence he has been on other artists. It focuses on the drugs, sex, his love of weapons, Mexico and the shooting of his wife Joan Volmer and the loss of his son Billy. It also documents the people who littered their works and bands with references to Burroughs, everyone from Iggy Pop to Jello Biafra.

A Man Within doesn’t really linger on the killing of Joan or the death of his son, it briefly touches on these tragedies in his life, nothing more. If you’ve read his books and devoured anything you can about the guy you’re not going to get a whole lot of new information but what makes this worthwhile are the stories about him. I never really got much insight into him as an old man and with plenty of home footage and stories from his last boyfriend you get to see a side of him – a vulnerable and lonely side – that you may not get anywhere else.

Although it exposes his more ‘tender side’ if you will, there’s some excellent and somewhat bizarre footage featured from his later years. It’s wonderful watching him stumble around his house with guns and knives whilst drinking, I am amazed that he never killed anyone else. There’s also footage of him creating shotgun art: a method where he would put a spray-paint can in front of a canvas and shoot it. He often wears army jackets and although he appears frail and tired he looks like a bad ass with the army jacket and guns.

Unlike a lot of Hunter Thompson documentaries which have started to become cash-ins this movie is lovingly crafted. The music is done by Sonic Youth and Patti Smith and is very creative in itself. There’s some really neat chapter-introducing animation sequences of Burroughs’ head made out of coat-hanger wire, these figures are often gun or sword-cane toting and are a nice change from cartoon animation segments.

An impressive first feature from director Yony Leyser who devoted five years of his life to the film. A must see for any Burroughs fan, an even bigger must see for those who know little about him.

Extras:

There’s loads of extras (83 mins worth to be exact) which makes this DVD even more appealing. There’s three deleted scenes of Burroughs’ art, 17 minutes of home movies where Burroughs hangs out with famous people. A 3 minute Super 8 clip shot by Husker Du’s Grant Hart of Burroughs creating shotgun art, a 3 minute Super 8 clip Narrated by Lee Ranaldo of Sonic Youth visiting Burroughs. 15 minutes from the Naked Lunch 50th Anniversary, “Rub Out the Word” music video, a Patty Smith reading, a 12 minute Q&A with the director, a 24 minute short film by the director and finally the theatrical trailer and a selection of Madman trailers for other titles in their Arthouse Film series.

William S. Burroughs: A Man Within is available on R4 DVD from Madman Entertainment.

The Gun is Loaded

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The Gun is Loaded is a 36 minute spoken word manifesto from musician, poet, writer, actress, provocateur etc… Lydia Lunch. Until recently the footage was long out of VHS print and thanks to MVD Visual you can now enjoy Lydia’s in-your-face rants on DVD.

Set amongst various staged sets such as a podium, a white picket fence, a restaurant and also inter-cut with cinema verité footage, Lydia works her way through her violent and anarchistic rants set to a score by J.G Thirwell. Text such as “why kill time when you can kill yourself” and “kill your neighbour” also flash throughout. Continue reading

Beautiful Darling

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I’m not a massive fan of Andy Warhol as an artist but am intrigued and fascinated with the people he surrounded himself with. Jackie Curtis, Holly Woodlawn and Mary Woronov are some of my favorites but my absolute favourites are the gorgeous Joe Dallesandro (he’s got a documentary too called Little Joe) and Candy Darling. I’ve been desperately trying to find a second hand copy of her out of print book My Face for the World to See: The Diaries of Candy Darling, so when I heard about this documentary I was really psyched to see it and hoped to find out more about her early life.

Candy Darling was born James L. Slattery on November 24th 1944 and grew up in a household with a violent alcoholic father. As a child James was obsessed with Hollywood movies, glamour and starlets such as Kim Novak. As a teen he started to wear makeup and dresses and in an anonymous interview with an old childhood friend she tells of seeing James on the train in a dress and how she no longer accepted him as a person or friend. James wanted to be a movie-star from the get go and although Candy Darling did achieve some fame – more notorious than rich and famous – she achieved this goal, although it seems that life was still a struggle and she wasn’t living as glamorous a life as she wanted.

The documentary benefits greatly from Candy’s friend Jeremiah Newton who produced the film. After her death he conducted audio interviews with those who new including Tenessee Williams and her mother. Jeremiah also received most of Candy’s belongings from her mother and has kept her legacy going with these artifacts. His photos, archive footage and interviews offer some really great insights and information about Candy.

The film uses archive footage, interviews, photos, audio transcripts of interviews and there’s also narration from Chloe Sevigny reading excerpts out of Candy’s diary. There’s a tonne of interesting interviewees including: Jeremiah Newton, Fran Lebowitz, John Waters, Paul Morrissey, Holly Woodlawn, Gerard Malanga, Taylor Mead, Penny Arcade, Julie Newmar, Jayne County and loads more.

There’s some wonderful archive footage of Candy rehearsing, hanging out at the Chelsea with Dennis Hopper and acting out scenes from Picnic (1955). There’s also some clips of her rehearsing and performing in Broadway shows. I enjoyed seeing pictures of her as a young boy and of her not being so well manicured with her five o’clock shadow showing underneath thick layers of foundation.

An absolute must have for Candy Darling fans. This documentary shows her life warts and all, its intimate, critical yet tender and most importantly (to me) documents a time when “freaks really were freaks”. Candy and the New York drag-queens and trans-genders were not a part of some fad, they risked being arrested and being beaten up on the streets every day. If you’re not a fan of Candy Darling then it’s still worth checking out for the incredible time-period the documentary covers. Well worth the purchase price.

There’s not much in the way of extras, there’s only a theatrical trailer and inside there’s a mini poster with the chapter index on the reverse of it. The content of the documentary is well worth the price so don’t let this aspect put you off buying it.

Beautiful Darling is available on R1 DVD from Corinth Films.

Showgirls [Blu-ray]

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Violent lap dances, horrific sex scenes, betrayal, greasy strip clubs… sleazy and at times repulsive seduction… Showgirls is the ultimate mainstream exploitation film and Umbrella Entertainment have now brought this trash-fest monster of a film to us all in Hi-Def.

I have already reviewed this title (but could go on and on about it forever) so for those of you who haven’t read my review of Umbrella’s DVD release of Showgirls you can do so here.

So how does the Blu-Ray compare to the DVD release?

Presented in a 2.35:1 / 16:9 widescreen print the film looks stunning. The image is far more crisp and the colors are far more lurid and garish – especially Berkley’s trashy makeup and nails. I observed no artifacts but the garish costumes and makeup colors (or maybe just breasts) could have drawn my eyes away from any miniscule flaws. All the neon, costumes and dance sequences are greatly enhanced by the 1080p Hi-def and it just feels so Vegasy – loads of sparkly glitz and glam.

I’m pretty bad at judging audio but I definitely noticed an improvement with this release. The film is presented in an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track and the music – especially during the dance scenes – had my speakers rattling, and although the dialogue seemed quite low compared to this, overall it was a marked improvement from the DVD’s Dolby 2.0 soundtrack.

It’s a bit of a shame that there’s no extras on this release considering there are other releases of the film that contain commentaries and other features, although admittedly none of those extras are affiliated with any of those involved in the film. But hey the Showgirls (VIP Limited Edition) comes with shot glasses, a deck of Showgirls cards and a game called “Pin the Pasties on the Showgirl” – a crude version of “Pin the Tail on the Donkey”. The Umbrella DVD comes with a trailer so you’re not missing out on much if you don’t want to upgrade to the Blu-ray release.

Image and sound wise this release is a vast improvement from the DVD release but ultimately if image and sound isn’t worth the purchase price then stick with the DVD. Hopefully one day us Showgirls fans are treated with an upgrade of this Blu-ray that features a commentary from either Berkley or Verhoeven. Please pretty please!

Showgirls is available on DVD and Blu-Ray from Umbrella Entertainment.

 

Last Shop Standing [Deluxe Edition]

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Graham Jones, Author of the 2008 book Last Shop Standing joins director Pip Piper to tell us the story of the rise, fall and resurrection of the UK’s Record Shops. Talking with shop owners, musicians, fans, radio djs and industry folk we start with the 50’s where a shop could sell 500 copies of Bill Haley and ship Elvis by the boxload through to the golden 60’s era of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones and then the 70s with the rise of punk and small pressings, money being thrown around by record companies, dodgy chart fixing and the beginnings of the independent stores, a backlash to the whitegoods stores that sold records on the side and the big bucks of a corrupt industry.

Act 2 is the decline, the 80s and 90s when CDs took over, when supermarket chains got in on the act and it was only the big boys that could survive. By the naughties it was downloads and MP3s and a shop like Hudsons which had existed since 1906 was forced to shut its doors in 2012. Sadly just before the rebirth of vinyl as Indy shops rose again, International Record Store Day kicked in and the kids discovered what us old farts always knew, a record is better than a CD, a download or an i-tunes card any day! Continue reading

A Bay of Blood

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From legendary Italian director Mario Bava comes the granddaddy of splatter flicks, (also known as Twitch of the Death Nerve and Carnage amongst other names) this is the precursor to all those masked killer, revenge laden, chock full of blood movies that we all reveled in during the heady days of the early 80s – hell, a couple of the murders were pretty much stolen frame by frame by the Friday the 13th franchise (Double impalement, machete to the face, even the sweater that Mrs. Vorhees wears!!). The one big difference here though is that there is more than one killer, in fact it isn’t a stalker film per se because damn near everyone gets in on the act. The other difference is the skill and craftsmanship that Bava brings to this movie. Continue reading

Fear the Forest

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“Some time ago” (no, really, the movie’s that unspecific) two teenagers were killed in the Northern Valley in upstate New York. The locals had long reported sightings of a strange giant humanoid creature, and an anonymous local philanthropist put out a 2.5 million dollar bounty for anyone who could catch or kill the beast. Two locals claimed to have shot and wounded a creature fitting the description, but lost it in the forest and the hunt was otherwise inconclusive. Now, Barbara Sanders (Anna Kendrick) and her group of teenage friends go into the same woods on a camping trip and encounter… something…. Continue reading