Tuesday, September 24, 2013

An Ad Mat Post Dedicated to a Fellow Collector

I've collected ad mats since I was six or seven.I don't know why I started exactly. I have a sense of why I continue; it's the completist mindset, and I'm probably terrified of what I might miss if I stop. It's a hobby whose future is threatened by the death of the real newspaper, so I'm hoping newspapers survive.

It's not often I come across fellow ad mat collectors, but Fred Adelman (active genre fan par excellence), to whom I dedicate this post, has collected, collated, and scanned thousands of ad mats.

While I was cutting up newspapers in Melbourne, he was cutting them up Stateside.

This one's for you, Fred.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Return To Piedras Blancas

As I kid, I carried Ed Naha's HORRORS: FROM SCREEN TO SCREAM around with me like it was 'The Bible'. In a sense, it was. Although I also had Denis Giford's HORROR MOVIES and Alan Frank's books in non-stop rotation, Naha's irreverent spirit and occasional focus on obscurities always rubbed me the very right way.  Childhood often didn't.

This image, from THE MONSTER OF PIEDRAS BLANCAS ('59), always fascinated me: A Monster and his Severed Head. Horrible and sad at the same time. A little like Pedras Blancas itself.

This week, while shooting the Californian coastline for a UK doco, we drove through Piedras Blancas. Of course, it held no significance for anybody else, but I was determined to find a reason to rest there.

Fortunately, the weary producers agreed to stop for a bite, giving  me a half hour to snap off a few photos of the old lighthouse smothered in fog. It was a case of Going-Going-Gone because, within five minutes, the structure was obscured in ocean soup.

I thought long and hard of The Monster as the fog enveloped the lighthouse, and felt sad about his demise more than fifty years ago. It was a solemn experience.

The prevailing mood only intensified when I wandered down the road and discovered this long-abandoned motel. Broken on a craggy clifftop overlooking a scrappy beach...

... it felt like an echo of The Monster's final, gutteral moan.

The old motel smelt of decades-old urine and rot. The wind howled through its boards, and little light penetrated its musky dark. Nature was busy tearing it down. It was a deliciously creepy place. A cemetery of abandoned hopes.

After I'd explored the motel,  I noticed a chunk of gnarled wood sitting like an ocean sentinel out back.
As you can see, from the rear it looked to me like a defeated old man surrendering himself to the wind and sea.

Or perhaps he was waiting for The Monster of Piedras Blancas to return?

I hope so.

And I hope it does.

Pedras Blancas is too sad without him.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Compelling Work From Kiyoshi Kurosawa

Japanese director Kiyoshi Kurosawa's SERPENT'S PATH and EYES OF THE SPIDER, thematic twins,  were both strong example's of his considerable talent and ability to take a narrative in unexpected directions.

Both involve child killing, torture, and vengeance, but are primarily focused on behavior more than action. Made around the same time and approaching almost the same events from different perspectives, they make for a mind-bending duo.

The influence of Takeshi Kitano on Kurosawa is clear. SERPENT'S PATH plays, at times, like Kitano's VIOLENT COP, right down to its warehouse location, opening visuals, and matter-of-fact violence.

EYES OF THE SPIDER, which boasts a larger cast of characters, references Kitano's HANNA-BI, A SCENE AT THE SEA, and BOILING POINT. Its deep silences are effective, giving its violent explosions enormous impact. The husband/wife relationship is also reminiscent of Kitano's work on HANNA-BI.

Both films are well worth catching, and are available from UK distributor Third Window Films.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Scum Are Cumming Soon

Finally, after two years of shooting, POND SCUM is nearing the finishing line.

Thanks to a talented, dedicated cast, and devoted 'crew', this challenging cinematic odyssey will soon leave its creative womb and slither forth into the world.

Hopefully, those who enjoyed films of mine such as MARAUDERS and the BEYOND THE PALE (aka PENETRATORS) series will find something to like here.