Thursday, July 2, 2015

The Good Sport (Shooting Soon)

As we have just completed 120/80: STRESSED TO KILL (see art and trailer a few posts down), the next film to go into production -- with partner Tom Parnell -- is THE GOOD SPORT, a fast-paced, bloody thriller set in the world of Little League sports.

We're currently exploring shooting scenarios, and trying to pick the best state for filming from both a creative and financial perspective.

Production company is Delirium.

I'll post updates here.

The Erotic Scent of The Duke

Peter Strickland, the man behind BERBERIAN SOUND STUDIO, a film I liked somewhat, returns to the screen with THE DUKE OF BURGUNDY,  a softcore, semi-sleazy yarn set in a world of women. The masculine title, according to Strickland, is meant to be ironic.

The film's initial spurt of inspiration was Jess Franco's LORNA THE EXORCIST: Strickland contemplated remaking that film for a couple of weeks before losing interest and leaving well enough alone. He did, however, stay on-topic, and delivers here a lesbian love story within a half-assed S/M structure; I say half-assed because one of the pretty asses in this movie doesn't seem quite as keen on the game as her "partner". Still, plenty of carnal fireworks emerge from the pairing, and there's a reasonable amount of nudity, some sex acts including a nice cunnilingus sequence, and bouts of imprisonment and servitude.

BURGANDY's women-only world is an interesting one, and forges a tone not unlike the world of Lucile Hadzihalilovic's INNOCENCE, a film exclusively featuring young girls adrift in a type of purgatory on earth. The women in Strickland's film are middle- to upper-class and enjoy meeting in stately drawing rooms to discuss insects. Although none but the central duo have sex with each other, one assumes there's plenty of lesbian sex going on behind closed doors.

Jess Franco's obsessions do seem to color BURGANDY, even though, technically, the film is more rigid and even-tempered than anything Jess ever made. The featured ladies think about sex a lot, which is good for the audience, and nobody seems to do anything terribly productive to fund the lifestyle they're enjoying (like Jess's ladies). The setting is the European countryside, and the true location (Hungary) is never referenced; probably a wise choice because this uncertainty gives the film a more fantastique vibe.

Actress Chiara D'Anna, who was also in BERBERIAN, is exquisitely carnal and subtly threatening in her role as Evelyn, the deceptively submissive actor in this little game. Her lover, Cynthia, is played with impeccable restraint by Sidse Babett Knudsen, a busy actress who appeared previously in television's BORGEN and the Mads Mikkelsen feature AFTER THE WEDDING. Both women carry the movie on strong shoulders, and make us believe in what is essentially very rich, dark nonsense.

Special mention goes to the film's opening title sequence; it captures quite perfectly title sequences from British thrillers that used freeze frames and often suffered visually (becoming dark and grainy) when dissolves were employed. Here, the technical deficits of these films are used as stylistic devices, and the result is sumptuous and atmospheric. The band, Cat's Eyes, provide a stunning score (available on CD), although nothing is quite as stunning as "The Duke Of Burgundy" title song ("Black Madonna" perhaps?), produced to replicate the sound and sweet fever of an old Carpenters song with Karen's gorgeous voice. It's just magic.

I'm dead against revealing plots and detailing story points, so I simply urge you to seek out and lap up this rare cinematic treat that was produced by Andrew Starke (currently making the superbly titled THE GREASY STRANGLER) and Exec Produced by Ben Wheatley. There is also a connection here to Pete Tombs and the Mondo-Macbro video label (that label did release LORNA THE EXORCIST).

Jess Franco would have been partial to this fine film and its proud obsessions.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Whipping Up Some Golden Age Book Bondage

From WR (Whip and Rope Publications) comes a title that triggers no confusion: A. deGranamour's MELISSA'S BONDAGE DEBUT.

The author was prolific in this niche, and often branched into erotica with a historical perspective such as SADISTIC PIONEERS.

This also featured pencil drawings by a "Ms. Jackie".

A title that purported to be a serious examination of spanking culture, but was little more than juicy anecdotes.

It always helps to list an M.D. on the cover.

Author G. Bennett Lockwood sounds serious.

"The Well-Spanked Farmgirl" from Wyndham Press (writer not noted), a publisher not affiliated with a similarly-named firm specializing in educational tomes, is adorned with some simple, evocative art. Of course, one could argue that the above is an education.

Again, no author mentioned, although some sources identify the author as Jaime Maran.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Armand Assante's 120/80: Stressed To Kill (first trailer)

My fringe film career marches on.

Here is the latest trailer and art.

Film stars Bill Oberst Jr. and Armand Assante.

Starry Eyes

The best edition of Dennis Widmyer's STARRY EYES is the 3-disk German version from Turbine. It includes a BluRay, a DVD, and a CD of the score by Jonathan Snipes.

As a big fan of electronic music, I'm encouraged by a raft of recent electronic scores for horror flicks such as MANIAC, THE GUEST, and IT FOLLOWS.

I liked STARRY EYES immediately, and enjoyed its set-up, and the surprisingly brutal route it took.

The score is a beautiful work, and articulates the film's themes of lost dreams, desperation, loss of innocence, and the death of naivety.

The transformative nature of the climax is deftly communicated via the score.

This German edition is the only one to get.

Friday, March 13, 2015

I Became An Instant Fan of Der Fan

One of the funniest scenes in Eckhart Schmidt's DER FAN ('82) shows the film's heroine, Simone (Desiree Nosbusch), accosting her mailman on the street and beating him up because he wasn't in possession of a letter she was waiting for. This scene reminded me of a time in my own life when my brother pointed an air rifle at our mailman because he failed to deliver a processed Super-8 monster film we were hanging out to see.

DER FAN is about a young woman who's obsessed with a Gary Numan-/John Foxx-style pop artist named "R". This fellow has the on-screen charisma of ice (which makes him cool, I suppose), and sings in a strange monotone with unique electronic backing that sounds like a cross between Kraftwerk, Serge Blenner, and an el cheapo Pet Shop Boys. The band credited with the film's tuneful music is Rheingold.

Schmidt made the movie after witnessing the way young pop music fans interact with their idols. He captures the madness and loneliness of obsession with authenticity, and, lucky for him, managed to cast a young lady who was just right for the job of portraying a sexy teenage psycho. A striking creature, Ms. Nosbusch takes her character from immature juvenile to nihilistic viper without missing a beat. And her voice-over documents a descent into greater madness that manages to feel logical and complete.

I had never seen DER FAN (also known as TRANCE) before, so my first viewing, on Mondo Macabro's BluRay, was a most satisfying experience.  Never released in the US, according to the jacket copy, it packs a punch content-wise, and earns its Unrated tag with some surprising violence, and nudity that would surpass any R-rating today.

It was released in the UK, but I'm uncertain if it was uncut. I'm sure a British reader could answer that question.

The film is a favorite of Japanese cannibal Issei Sagawa, and was released one year after he killed and dined on a female student in France.

Director Schmidt also made the fascinating LOFT. Perhaps Mondo-Macabro will give that a BluRay spin, too, if this one does some business. So don't pirate it, folks, buy it, or your options will soon diminish.

This excellent film from a by-gone era (which is a damn fucking shame) would make a fine double feature with DON'T DELIVER US FROM EVIL, another sweet tale of teenage temptresses gone nuts.

The distributor's Red Box BluRay is limited to 500, although it may remain available beyond the 500 as a standard issue disk.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Books of Note in 2014

Another great year for books.

Some of my favorites.

Suehiro Maruo's Tomino Jigoku

Toshio Saeki's Yumenozoki

Best Blu-Rays and DVD's of 2014

Another amazing year for DVD's and Blu-Rays.

Hollywood may be kissing off media you can hold in your hand, but many enterprising disk companies are keeping cinema history alive, and fueling what can only be described as a Golden Age for collectors and the cinematically passionate.

This round-up is by no means definitive, but I hope it directs you to some treasures  you might have missed.