They Live

Written by Joe D on August 31st, 2007


Before there was The Matrix, before V for Vendetta, there was John Carpenter’s They Live. A super cool concept, alien mind control working through Television, Billboards, Newspapers, all media. The Aliens run everything and they keep the humans hopping like hamsters on a wheel. I watched some of Halloween last night and I started thinking about John Carpenter, I really like Starman my old pal Jack Nitzsche did the score for that movie and it’s very cool. Mark Boone Junior , star of One Night With You and prominently featured in the upcoming 30 Days Of Night is in Carpenter’s Vampires. He gets cut in two by a vampire when he answers the door and he slowly slides apart. I saw Carpenter once at Musso and Frank’s, the oldest restaurant in Hollywood. I had gone there with Boone to meet a producer when Carpenter called Boone to his table. His hair is white as snow, he wears jet black welders goggle type glasses and he can’t stand sunlight, kind of like a vampire from his film. I guess he got over exposed to ultra-violet radiation while making The Thing ( his masterpiece) and now he must stay covered like a Bedouin when outdoors.

Look Familiar?

But back to They Live, like I said a great idea, the film is crazy, there’s a fight scene between Rowdy Roddy Piper and Keith David that goes on for a very long time, I found it on Youtube so I’m including it and the trailer. Roddy finds some sunglasses that enable the wearer to see the aliens among us and see their mind control techniques in action. Also Roddy has one of the best action lines in action movies. ” Gentlemen, I’ve come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass. And I’m all out of bubblegum!” A guilty pleasure.


World’s Longest Fist Fight

The Born Losers

Written by Joe D on August 30th, 2007


I guess the biker movie motif has got me. Writing about The Wild One got me thinking about this other biker flick The Born Losers. It’s pretty badly made, some of the worst grade Z lighting in any flick ever! Especially the scenes with Jane Russell. ( What is she doing in this movie???) But what it does have going for it is , Billy Jack, the first appearance of this drive- in icon. Part Indian, part Green Beret he’s a back to nature ass kicker. There’s a scene where he’s standing off the whole biker gang at a gas station, he uses the cardinal rule of street fighting, make a weapon out of whatever’s at hand, ( car antenna, bottle, etc.) in this case he douses a downed biker with gas and threatens to light him up with a Zippo unless they let him and his chick get away. The lead chick , Vicky Barrington, is a strange one, she rides around on a motorcycle in a bikini and boots, she’s a spoiled rich brat, she is constantly wisecracking, even to the bikers that want to rape her! And she wrote the script! Several young girls get raped by the polymorphously perverse biker gang. Vicky gets it from a singularly unappealing deaf mute who goes around making noises like ” Unnnggghhhhoooouuuuggggnnn!” Wacko!


Dig those white shades on The Leader Of The Pack
The gang members tounge kiss each other and one hirsute member is always asking the other guys to take a shower together! Where other movies skirt around the piratical homosexuality this movie embraces it with a big sloppy kiss! The greatest scene by far though is where a badly beaten Billy Jack returns to rescue Vicky from the bikers, he’s got a gun and he tells the leader he’s going to count to 3. Danny calls his bluff, Billy Jack: “One!” Danny:”You can’t get all of us”Billy Jack :”Two!” Danny: “I’m going to rip your guts out, half breed” Billy Jack: “Three!”, BLAM!!! He shoots Danny right between the eyes! Splitting his groovy white sunglasses in two! Insane! We’ve all seen this scene before, it never ends with the bad guy getting shot! Except this time! It’s a mind blower! This movie was very successful, it was made for zilch and looks it but it raked in mucho dinero at the box office, probably at Drive-Ins across the USA. I can’t really recommend it, it’s up to you, I’m posting the trailer YOU make up your mind. It definitely falls into my new category: CRAPTASTIC.

Lee Marvin Blog-A-Thon/ The Wild One

Written by Joe D on August 29th, 2007


Today is the 20th anniversary of Lee Marvin’s death, to celebrate the greatness of Mr. Marvin a group of bloggers are writing about him and some of his films. I’m taking on The Wild One. Wait a minute, you might say, isn’t that a Brando film? Well yeah but Lee comes in and steals the show!

Scene Stealer
Brando looks like he was drawn by Tom of Finland. His costume is so fetishized , boots, tight jeans, black leather jacket, black leather gloves, motorcycle cap, tee shirt, slave bracelet! Did this film give birth to this homoerotic costume? Guys were wearing this in Friedkin’s Cruising.

Vision Of Homoeroticism

But Lee is all crazy macho clown prince of anarchy. The coolest striped shirt in Cinema. A WWII leather flight helmet and goggles. He’s like the Trickster character of Mythology.

The Trickster
Crazy, violent, with a wild sense of humor. His first words to Brando are ” Hello Sweetheart!” and he keeps saying ” Johnny, I love you. Let’s drink some beers and then I’ll beat the Christmas out of you!” Crazy man!

Let’s drink some beers and I’ll beat the Christmas out of you!

These bikers are sort of like crazed Beatniks, more than savage killers. They’re almost proto-hippies, talking jive, dancing, playing. This film was a huge cultural phenomenon.

Slip me Some Skin, Pops!

The Juke gets a lot of Screen Time. Dig that crazy 78 it’s playing

One of my older friends told me that when lt came out, his older brothers went to see it and the next day they all bought motorcycles. Brando is driving a 1951 Triumph Thunderbird. A cool machine.

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, That’s where the band got it’s name

I heard he was taught to ride by a black stuntman named King Kong. I also heard that Mr. Kong was having a red hot love affair with blonde bombshell Barbara Payton! Back in the uptight 50’s, Zowie! Lee looks to be driving a stripped down Harley Flathead. Also cool. The movie starts off with the usual motorcycle antics. Riding, run in with the Law, terrorizing a tiny town, then Brando meets the uptight girl. They’re about to leave, the energy’s getting low when Big Bad Lee Marvin shows up! He kicks the film into overdrive, really boosting the octane with his crazed, funny, dangerous portrayal of Chino. Once he and Johnny were in the same gang but alas no more. Now they must kick the shit out of each other everytime they meet. Super Psycho Timothy Carey shows up as a henchman of Lee’s, he throws a beer in Lee’s face to wake him after Brando knocks him out.

Wake up Chino!
Carey is great in Kubrick’s Paths Of Glory and really chews up the scenery in de Toth’s Crime Wave, another noir in the Vol. 4 collection I’ve been writing about. But really this movie is more important as a cultural landmark than a great piece of Cinema. It changed our society in several ways. It was based on a story in Life magazine about a group of bikers that terrorize a small California town and from what I’ve heard the story was exaggerated to sell more magazines.

Ring Around the Square Chick!

The top stars of this time, at least the ones that appealed to the teenagers like Brando and James Dean, exposed their sensitivity, they cried,they were a bit gender confused, Brando always wanted to be beaten in every role he played back then.

Beaten Brando

Not Lee Marvin, he was 100% macho, take it or leave it. Michael Parks, one of the stars of my film One Night With You and star of the late 60’s motorcycle Television series Then Came Bronson told me that when he saw The Wild One he didn’t care for Brando, it was the other guy, Lee Marvin that he wanted to be like. Happy Anniversary Lee, we miss you down here on Terra Firma.
p.s. Check out more Lee Marvin blogs at:

Save me a place in Valhalla, Daddio!

Forbidden Games

Written by Joe D on August 27th, 2007


Bridget Fossey

Once in a great while a film comes along that rocks you to your very roots. Forbidden Games is such a film. It is by the great Rene Clement. He created several master works like, Purple Noon (The original Talented Mr. Ripley), and Rider On The Rain with Charles Bronson but this one is my favorite . I first saw this film when I was a young lad, it played on The Million Dollar Movie back in New York on WOR Channel 9. I must offer thanks to the unknown programmer of that show. I saw Peter Brooks Lord Of The Flies, Bergman’s Virgin Spring, De Sica’s Two Women, Bunuel’s Robinson Crusoe, Losey’s Boy with The Green Hair, and Fellini’s La Dolce Vita all on The Million Dollar Movie and it made me a cinephile for life.

The Peasant and The Princess

Forbidden Games starts with a long line of people on a country road, they’re fleeing Paris as the Nazi’s approach. We meet a young couple with a beautiful daughter, the little girl has a puppy she cherishes. Suddenly a sound from the sky, a German Messerschmidt fighter plane, it strafes the refugees, killing the girls parents and the puppy. The girl wanders away in shock carrying the tiny dog. She’s found by a farm family and brought into the farm house. These rough hewn folk marvel at her finery and her beauty. The young son of the farmers immediately falls in love with this rare jewel that’s appeared like a vision in their midst. The little girl tries to cope with her parents demise in a strange way.She and the boy create a fantasy cemetery burying the puppy and any other deceased creatures they come across. The imagery is powerful, romantic, emotionally intoxicating. It’s like a fairy tale come to life.


A Fairy Tale Come To Life

Clement understands that by using children as protagonists, we (the audience) experience the film as children. We re-experiance the time of our innocence and our most vivid impressions of life. The music is by the wonderful guitarist Narcisco Yepes. I had the good fortune to see him play at Alice Tully Hall in New York and he was incredible. He played a 10 string classical guitar of his own design.

Check out his music, it’s great and check out this film it’s tragic beauty will touch your soul. Below is a clip from the film, sorry about the lack of subtitles.

Film Noir Classics Collection, Volume 4-Part 2

Written by Joe D on August 24th, 2007


A limping figure comes out of the fog

Wow! I just watched an incredible film! Act of Violence directed by Fred Zinnemann, superb cinematography by Robert Surtees, excellent music by Bronislau Kaper, and magnificent performances by Van Heflin, Robert Ryan, and Janet Leigh. This film falls into that sub genre, Screwed Up Veteran Noir. A guy who got his mind bent by WWII tries to fit into his home life back here in the States but he can’t! When we first see Robert Ryan he’s just a shuffling silhouette coming out of a pre dawn NY cityscape, we follow him into a crummy Brownstone and up the steps to his apartment. The camera tracks following him in and tilts down as he opens a dresser drawer revealing the 45 automatic he pulls out from under his undies. Then it tilts back up showing his face for the first time.

A genius at portraying the dark and twisted

Zinnemann has defined this character with two elements , his limp and his gun, before showing us his face, Brilliant! Let me take a second to talk about Robert Ryan. He looks like a grown up Howdy Doody but grown up twisted, dark. American as apple pie but the apples are rotten, there’s a worm eating at the heart of them. Ryan portrayed racists, psycho veterans, Anti- Semites, Gay bashers, and he did it in a way that allowed you to see his humanity, he wasn’t ever a stereotype, he was always real. This was at a time when very few films took on these controversial subject matters. Not only did it take guts for Ryan to play these parts it also took a hell of a lot of talent! He exposed the dark underbelly of the American psyche, when everybody was blowing the happy horns of victory after the war, Ryan and some dedicated filmmakers(like Zinnemann ,Wyler, Dymtrk) dared to talk about the problems the returning Vets faced. And dared to portray some Vets as something less than heroes. Here he’s an obsessed veteran charged with a holy mission, to avenge his comrades savagely cut down in a P.O.W. camp during an escape attempt. He is like Ahab stalking the white whale Van Heflin, relentlessly pursuing him, the sound of his dragging foot striking fear into the hearts of those who hear it and realize it’s significance.

The Hero with a Terrible Secret

We first see Van Heflin at an awards ceremony, this brings to mind the scene in Rolling Thunder where William Devane, a returning POW is honored in his small town. Van is married to the delicious Janet Leigh, they have a darling tow headed son, they live in a Craftsman house in a picturesque small town.

The Beautiful Dream of the Returned Veteran

They’ve got it all until Ryan shows up , an evil reminder of a dark deed , a mortal sin Van committed in a POW camp.

Once Upon A Time they were Friends

The issues in this film are so real it elevates the story from the genre to a lofty psychological plane. Once it starts I dare you to try and stop watching it! Noir was a B genre, they were made fast, a lot of the conventions of noir , the stylish shots were partly created to save time as for example when you have two characters talking to each other but both facing the camera, this saves the time of doing reverses, moving the camera, relighting, etc. There is an incredible shot early in the film. Robert Ryan has just arrived in California, he gets off the bus and starts to cross the street, a cop stops him because a Veterans parade is coming by, he waits but cuts through when there’s an opening, the camera pans with him revealing that it was in a hotel lobby shooting through the picture window, it catches Ryan coming through the entrance and tracks back with him to the desk where he checks in. This is all in one amazing shot! Yet done in such a natural way that you might not notice it. Check it out! parade.jpgoner.jpgparase5.jpg

All One Shot

Zinnemann is an actors director. 16 vastly different performers got Academy Award nominations for their roles in his films. Van Heflin is great in this film, the best work I’ve ever seen him do. I think Gregory Peck is excellent in Zinnemann’s Behold A Pale Horse , the list goes on and on. Another interesting aspect of Film Noir, for that matter any B genre film. Due to the lower budget, their was less risk for the studio. The filmmakers could try things they wouldn’t dare on A pictures, like the subject matter of this film. It’s only by taking chances that you reach the stratospheric heights. Compared to Act Of Violence Zinnemann’s From Here To Eternity is a soap opera. Don’t get me wrong it is a very good film but the studio is making a huge investment in that project, they can’t take chances, they have to make it appeal to as many people as possible.

Taking Chances on a Noir Track

The locations are great, at one point Van flees to Los Angeles to escape Ryan. Ryan tracks him and almost gets him, Van runs into the streets and passes the touchstone of great LA noir, Angel’s Flight! I didn’t know this was in there, what a great surprise!

The Quintessential Noir Landmark, The Train To Nowhere

Later Van is running from himself, he enters the 2nd street tunnel. He’s flashing back to his men in the POW camp trying to escape through a tunnel they dug. The entire flashback is executed with voices ringing in Van’s head as he runs, stumbles through the tunnel. It works amazingly well! Another noir budget cutting device, a creative solution to the flashback needed at this point in the film, it’s better than showing the Stalag, the dead men, the SS officer! It’s great! Also pay attention to the editing, jump cuts bringing us closer and closer to Van as he cracks apart, forced to face what he’s kept hidden inside. This is 1948 years before the French New Wave.

Flashback in a tunnel

The 2nd Street Tunnel

By the way I used this same tunnel as a location in my film One Night With You. Van goes down the mean streets of LA stumbling into a bar where he meets Mary Astor, an aging hooker, looking for kicks. She is incredible, the real deal, a woman pushing 40, not an ingenue with a wig. She’s terrific!

Mary Astor, once she chased the Maltese Falcon

The end of the film is sort of played out like a noir Western, with a shootout at the train station, it’s very good , maybe not up to the incredible heights of the rest of the film but very well done. The train station location if I’m not mistaken is the Glendale station dressed to be Santa Lisa, the fictional small town of our story. That station still exists, it’s a beauty, used in many films, even a silent Buster Keaton opus.

Next Stop, Glendale!

So please check this film out. I love stories about problems from out of the past showing up and haunting guys, about the problems of returned Veterans, about obsessed, relentless pursuers, about people trying to run away from themselves on the dark streets of a dirty noir city.

Down these mean streets…

The Woman in The Window

Written by Joe D on August 23rd, 2007


Obsessee, obsessor

I worked on restoring Fritz Lang’s Woman In The Window a few years ago with my friends over at Triage Motion Picture Services. For some reason or another ( probably an idiotic executive decision) the original negative had been destroyed. “Abernathy, what are all these old cans taking up all this valuable space at our studio?” “Those are the original negatives of the films the studio produced in the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s, sir” ” Get rid of that trash!” Anyway in the case of Woman In The Window all that was left was a Fine Grain made in the early 60’s and a nitrate release print from the original 1944 run. I compared the two elements and picked whatever shot was best to create a new negative.

Joanie B. and Eddie G.

Edward G. Robinson is a college professor who sees a portrait of a woman in the window of a store next to the club where he hangs out with his buddies.

Fritz Lang in a publicity still from Le Mepris, that’s Godard working the clapper

The woman in the window is the lovely Joan Bennett, she was married to producer Walter Wanger, but I guess he wasn’t wanging her enough so she had an affair with her agent, Jennings Lang. Wanger found out about it and waylaid the two, waiting for them outside their trysting place, Marlon Brando’s Beverly Hills apartment! Walter blasted the agent with two bullets one of which nicked Jennings nutsack. Wanger later said he was aiming for JL’s gonads, he wanted to make him a castrato!


Herr Lang, Joan Bennett, Walter Wanger

But enough digressions. Woman In The Window is an excellent film, it’s beautifully made and the scene in Joan Bennett’s apartment where Eddie G. kills Bennett’s older jealous sugar daddy is a tour de force, powerful as a nightmare from which you can’t wake up. I’ve often wondered if this scene is so strong because Fritz Lang has been accused by one of his biographers of murdering his first wife in an apartment in Berlin. Is he wrestling with his own demons? His own guilt?


Then the ultra slimy ( and I mean that as a compliment) Dan Duryea shows up and begins blackmailing Bennett. These scenes are great as well, the beautiful, sexy Joan B. forced to be nice, to pretend she’s attracted to a man she hates, it’s cheap, degrading, sleazy. You’ll love it! The only thing that hasn’t stood the test of time is the ending, I don’t want to give it away but all it needs is a trombone going “Wahhh Wahhh” to really make it bad. In defense of Lang I guess it was a new, novel idea in 1944 and the technique used in the transitional shot is amazing. Without giving it away totally , Edward G. is sitting in a big overstuffed chair in an apartment, the camera tracks in to a tight close up of his face, then it tracks back revealling him in an entirely different location. There’s no dissolve so you know the crew was flying walls in and out, changing furniture, replacing props, all in a few seconds. Really a great effect.


The Magic Close Up

Back in the mid 70’s I was in LA, I went to UCLA to see a program of Fritz Lang’s American films. It was hosted by the distinguished film critic Charles Champlin. Introducing The Big Heat he made a comment that Lang’s American films were his best work. I took exception to that, Metropolis, M, these are towering giants of world film, among the greatest films ever made! I like Lang’s American stuff but come on! How could this clown say such a thing! Was it American chauvinism or what. So I spoke up and told him what I thought, he tried to dismiss my comments in a rude “you don’t know what you’re talking about” way. Well, Mr. Champlin you were wrong and you’re still wrong.

I’ll kill you, Charles Champlin

Edward G. prepares to dump the corpus delecti

During the restoration of this film I noticed a difference between the two versions I was using as source material. In the Nitrate print from the 1940’s there’s a scene where Eddie G. is pulled over by a cop while driving with the body of a dead man in the trunk of his car. The cop asks for his ID and Eddie gives it to him. Upon examining it the cop says ” Wanley huh, what is that Polish” Whereupon an angered Eddie G. snaps back “No, it’s American!” This exchange was excised from the Fine Grain version made in the 60’s maybe because of sensitivity to Polish jokes. They had blown up a shot to get rid of the line by creating a new cutaway. I had to be creative to get it to cut back in but I did it, so if you watch a new release of the film it’s in there. See if you can tell how I did it. In any case it’s a great honor for me to have made an edit in a Fritz Lang Film.

Film Noir Classics Collection, Volume 4

Written by Joe D on August 21st, 2007


Young Nick Ray

I just got the 10 film set Film Noir Volume 4. the first film I watched was Nick Ray’s They Live By Night. This was Ray’s first film and it’s a very impressive debut to say the least. I have been wanting to see this movie for years! i couldn’t ever find a copy of it so when I saw it as part of this collection I grabbed it. I was not disappointed. This movie is excellent. The acting is great especially the scenes between Farley Granger and Cathy O’Donnell. Their innocence and emotional transparency is moving, beautiful.

Young Farley

I recently watched a giallo starring Farley Granger called Amuck. It also starred the lovely Barbara Bouchet. A cool movie and interesting to compare to They Live By Night if only to see Farley as an innocent on the run in the rural south versus a decadent rich semi aristocrat in Venice.
A friend of mine took a film course Nick Ray taught at SUNY Purchase in the mid 70’s. He said on the first day of class Ray shows up with sunglasses so black they looked like they were spray painted, his hair was shocking white, as white as the snow he was chopping on the desktop and shovelling up his nose. “From now on this class will meet at midnight!” Ray barked, and they did meet at midnight from then on, making a class film with Ray directing.

Young Cathy O’Donnell

They Live By Night does bear comparison with Citizen Kane. Both were made at RKO, both were by first time directors and Night was produced by John Houseman who had been Welles producing partner at the Mercury Theater. There is a sense of experimentation in them both, a refreshing breaking of rules, unconventional angles, fresh ideas. Greg Toland asked to shoot Kane. He knew Welles had never made a film, he also knew Welles was a super talent uninhibited, full of crazy ideas, and Toland knew with his skill he could realize them. We have that dynamic of an unorthodox talented newcomer here in this film. Years later around the time of 55 Days at Peking Ray saw Bunuel’s Nazarin. He was blown away, excited by the film. He arranged for it to be distributed in the US. Ray asked Bunuel how much the film had cost. Bunuel replied” 50,000 dollars.” Ray responded” I wish I could make a film like that, with that freedom.” Bunuel said” Why don’t you do it. Make a film for $50,000.” Horrified Ray answered ” I can’t do that! Everybody would think I was washed up!”
The rest of the cast is excellent as well. Great character actors, great faces. Jay C. Flippen, the frog faced tough guy who started in vaudeville was never better. Howard Da Silva plays a one eyed psycho and is thoroughly despicable.

Flippen & DaSilva

She made a deal with the Devil, I mean the F.B.I.

Helen Craig, a tough broad that will do anything to get her husband out of jail,is as traitorous as a rabid rattlesnake. Great!
The filmmaking is top notch, the locations, the sets, all superb. The attention to detail is so real, so alive, it’s like they got real tools from a working garage for the gas station and the diner feels greasy and neon lit in a truly unique but real way.

The magic of Neon
I must comment on the fact that one of the two credited art directors is Albert S. D’Agostino. I am a huge fan of his work and I’m planning on posting about him soon. Also we share similar last names. He was the head of the art department at RKO, my favorite studio.And this is the earliest use of a helicopter shot I can think of, very cool.

Ultra Romantic Imagery

There are some beautiful shots and wonderful lighting effects, a close two shot of Farley and Cathy in the flickering firelight, shots through windows with neon signs, the creepy shot of Farley leaving the pseudo justice of the peace’s office, heavy with tragic foreboding.

Heavy with Tragic Foreboding

But one shot that really stood out to me is the final shot of the film. It’s a Close Up of Cathy, she’s framed in a doorway, highlights in her hair, her face suffused with a soft light, slowly the light on her face fades out, this was done on the set with a dimmer for as her features get darker and darker the highlights in her hair stay the same, a beautiful in camera effect. I believe the script says something like “she is swallowed by darkness.”

She is swallowed by darkness

I saw another film from this set at the Film Noir Festival at the American Cinematech 2 years back, Crime Wave, an excellent noir by Andre de Toth. I’ll write about that one soon. But so far it’s thumbs up for this collection. Check it out!

One Night With You at New Filmmakers LA

Written by Joe D on August 20th, 2007


Made it Ma! Top of The World! I mean A+D Museum!

ONWY screened as part of the 2007 New Filmmakers Series on Thursday August 16th. The screening took place at the Architecture and Design Museum of Los Angeles and was a rousing success despite some technical malfunctions.

The Screening Room

The space was packed and the air conditioning was off due to construction but even though it was broiling in there no one left! They all stayed till the end of the film! One viewer told me he has a major cigarette addiction, he runs outside to grab a smoke every 20 minutes or so, yet he was so wrapped up in the story that he forgot to go out and smoke. That was music to my ears, a sign that the mechanisms of the film are working properly. We want to thank the brave souls that baked for 91 minutes and didn’t flee the theater. We want to thank New Filmmakers LA for choosing our film to launch the series. They are dedicated talented people that love film! Our next scheduled screening is in Estes Park Colorado on Sept. 15 as part of the Estes Park Film Festival. We will be screening a 35mm print at the oldest theater west of the Mississippi! If any of you Film Forno Fans are near there please come on down to check it out. For more information about our screening go to:
P.S. Estes Park is home to the Stanley Hotel, made famous in Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining.



Perfumed Nightmare

Written by Joe D on August 20th, 2007


I saw this film when it was first released around 1978 or so, I believe it was at Film Forum in New York City. I heard how this Philipino guy just begged, borrowed and did whatever was needed to make it. Werner Herzog gave him some old film stock he had laying around. ( I think Wim Wenders did the same thing for Jim Jarmusch on his chef d’oeuvre Stranger Than Paradise) Francis Coppola released Perfumed Nightmare through his short lived but admirable Zoetrope Films.


Baby, You Can Drive My Jeepney

The film is told from the point of view of Kidlat Tahimik, a young Philippino cat that drives a jeepney and worships all things American. Especially Rockets , American Space Penises that represent Progress, Power, The Future and specifically Werner Von Braun, the godfather of the USA space race, snatched from Nazi Germany at the end of WWII and chockful of experience from his V2 launches at Peenemunde. Kidlat even forms a Werner Von Braun fan club!


1st Meeting of The Werner Von Braun Fan Club

But as the film progresses Kidlat grows disillusioned with “progress”, his innocent voice over expresses his doubts and finally he disbands the Fan Club. The film is shot on many different film stocks, Super 8, 16mm, color reversal, whatever Kidlat could get his hands on and it adds a stylistic edge that works for this project. It’s like the jeepney that he drives, these are made from left over jeeps from WWII and the ingenious mechanics transform them into fantastic creations and keep them running with baling wire, chewing gum, anything at hand. Here creativity is used instead of money, to me a sign of a good film, actually a good anything! There’s a circumcision scene that’s hard to watch ( In the Phillipines it’s performed at puberty in a ritualized fashion out in the jungle.)


That’s gotta hurt!

Kidlat Tahimik is Tagalog for “Quiet Lightning” and that’s what this film is. A guy from out of nowhere creates a film from almost nothing and it rocks the World Cinema Scene.

The Fat and The Lean

Written by Joe D on August 19th, 2007


Roman Polanski’s short film Le Gros et le maigre (The Fat and The Lean) is a masterpiece. The filmmaking is superb but it is Polanski’s acting that amazes the spectator. He gives an incredible physical performance worthy of comparison with Keaton or Chaplin, brilliant physical comedy with an Eastern European twist.


Young Man With A Goat

The story is simple yet powerful, a social comment on the inequities of life. Descended from the ancient dramatists it shows the servant being capable, creative, full of life while the master is a fat slob that does nothing except expertly control the servant.


Krzysztof Komeda, looking like a Polish James Dean

The music is by the genius composer Krzysztof Komeda, ace Polanski collaborator. Komeda studied to be a medical doctor but his love of jazz and his success with Polanski allowed him to be what he wanted to be, a composer. Check out the music from The Fearless Vampire Killers or Cul-De-Sac, super genius, unique stuff! His life was tragically cut short by a bizarre accident. Komeda and a fellow Pole artist were drunk and walking in the Hollywood Hills, Komeda tripped and fell, injuring himself. His drunken friend picked him up to carry him and dropped him on his head. He lingered in a hospital bed for a few months, never regaining consciousness.

A one and A two!

The co-star of The Fat and The Lean is Andre Katelbach, in Cul-De-Sac Jack MacGowran and Lionel Stander are waiting for orders from their mysterious boss, never seen only vaguely heard over a primitive telephone. His name is also Katelbach.




The Saragossa Manuscript

Written by Joe D on August 18th, 2007


Enemy soldiers forget War when confronted with The Saragossa Manuscript

Calling all DeadHeads! This was Jerry Garcia’s favorite movie! As a matter of fact he and Martin Scorcese paid for it’s restoration! I saw it at a revival theater a few years back and it is very cool.


What’s for Dessert?

The Saragossa Manuscript was originally a strange, mystical book written in 1847 by Jan Potocki. it’s full of occult symbolism, picaresque adventures, plots within plots within plots and was reportedly a favorite among Surrealists. (Luis Bunuel cites it in his autobiography, My Last Sigh). The film version was made in 1965 by Wojciech Has.


Didn’t we meet in a haunted cave?

I think it’s very difficult to pull off the story within a story trick, but this film manages to do it over and over again. A character meets another, the new man begins telling a story, within that story a new character appears and he begins a story, then somehow we’re whisked back to our original character either in bed with two beautiful haunting princesses or waking up next to a hanging corpse! It’s out there!


Zbyszek Cybulski is Alphonse

Great production value, stunning Black and White Cinematography by Mieczyslaw Jahoda (before Polish DP’s were all the rage). An excellent score by the master of atonal serious horror movie music Krzysztof Penderecki. You should check out this movie, it’s like a mystery wrapped in an enigma shrouded in Illusion and hidden behind a gravestone at Midnight. There is something about it that’s difficult to put into words, mystical I guess, it comes from the Book but somehow through all the years and various translations it is distilled into the movie in a rare and alchemical way.


So scoop yourself some Cherry Garcia ice cream, load the bong with Panama Red and take a magic carpet ride deep into the brain of Captain Trips.


Read Me!

Female Yakuza = Pinky Violence

Written by Joe D on August 16th, 2007

Once Upon A Time in Japan there was a sub genre of movies that came to be known as Pinky Violence. Back in the Late 60’s, early 70’s people in Japan weren’t flocking to the theaters so filmmakers upped the ante with nudity, violence, killer chick gangs , rampant crime,etc.

Reiko Ike fights bare breasted

The first installment Sex and Fury was a huge hit, packing them in like gangbusters so within no time flat they started rolling on this epic Female Yakuza Tale. It starred the same bare breasted , samurai sword swinging kick ass chick, Reiko Ike.

Super Cool Overhead shot on a street set in the studio

These films were made for a strictly theatrical release in Japan, they didn’t come to the States for quite some time. They had pretty good production value and were obviously made by talented people, the aesthetics are high caliber.

Red Sky at Night, Yakuza’s Delight

The music is way out there too, bizarre instrumentation, finger cymbals, wah wah guitar, analogue synth. Very Groovy! There’s also a killer nun- “When I Pray, I Kill!”

Praying Mantis

The story is insane , drug smuggling up the hoochie coo , revenge for Yakuza finger chopping gambling debts, wacko to say the least. Our heroine seduces the toadlike sweating pig of a Boss, just to lull him into a sense of complacency, I hope she was well paid.

Are the Krugerrands in my Swiss Bank account? You may proceed.


Excellent Erotic Imagery

Then there’s a battle royal with an army of naked sword swinging chicks taking on the Yakuza gang.

Attack those chauvinist Pigs!

There’s another brand of Pinky Violence that deals with Tough Girl Gang Leaders, I’ve seen a few of them and they’re good too. These films are very well made, a lot of fun to watch and they give a kind of insider view to 1970’s Japanese culture. I recommend them.
P.S. Kimberly over at Cinebeats has just done a super cool piece on Pinky Violence, her blog is killer, check it out!