Darth Vader stands in the centre of Bristol

There’s been a genuine wave of affection after Dave Prowse’s sad death the other day, and in his hometown in Bristol there was erected a fitting tribute to him as the only, true Darth Vader.

It’d have been better to have The Green Cross Code Man because then the statue could have kept it’s Bristolian accent…

Sutcliffe! The musical.

Peter Sutcliffe is dead which is a good thing, but during all the talk of his and the women he murdered abanned sketch from Brass Eye came to mind. Brass Eye was a TV series produced by Chris Morris and a team of exceptionally talented team of writers and actors for Channel 4 in 1997. It is by far one of the great bits of TV satire/comedy ever produced in the UK, but during the first broadcast it suffered heavily from censorship, especially in Episode 6 which saw whole sketches lost including one about Peter Sutcliffe starring in his own West End musical.

At the time a Jack the Ripper musical was proposed, plus ‘Ripper tours’ of the murder sites were pulling in the money in the East End of London, which back then hadn’t gentrified to the state it has now so it wasn’t ironic hispters being mocked, but working class women. There was also a glamourisation of old gangsters, some of which commited crimes as bad as Sutcliffe. The idea this sketch was supporting Sutcliffe was a joke, but it was one pushed by the usual suspects.

However judge for yourself…

Debbie Harry was once a hippy

Whenever I think of Debbie Harry it’s her in her Blondie years looking and sounding like complete perfection. Even though I’ve seen here play only in the last decade or so I still think of her in her prime.

Before this she tried her hand in almost everything, but she started her mnusical career in a band called Wind in the Willows back in the 60’s and still very much a flower child. This 1968 album is a kitch mix of 60’s folk rock (I mean there’s a fucking kazoo on one track) but there’s a few good tunes however this is very much an album of its time. There is no other year in history this album could have been released.

The album is a confused oddity but a a bit of musical history it’s worth a listen. Just skip the kazoos…

Nothern Soul Girl meets The Joker

Levanna McLean made a name of herself seven years ago with this still gloriously joyous video of her dancing to Happy by Pharell Williams in the streets of Bristol. Since then she’s carved a niche for herself as the UK’s leading promoter of Northern Soul to a new generation which is quite fantastic. She’s become quite the minor celbrity in Bristol, and her latest video is just a stroke of bloody genius as she becomes Joaquin Phoenix’s Joker from last year’s film but on Christmas Steps in Bristol. Last time I went down those steps I was heroically drunk so it’s nice to see a decscent somewhat more graceful than mine.

So, here it is, enjoy…

Do I risk death for Christopher Nolan?

Christopher Nolan is one of our most unique filmmakers. Barring his Batman trilogy he makes original films from original scripts for a mass audience and is given lots of money to do so as he makes lots of money. At the start of the year, Tenet, his latest film, looked the film of the year potentially.

Since then we’ve had a global disaster hit in the shape of the Covid-19 pandemic, so the idea of going to a cinema to watch a film is something I thought I’d only do again once, if, we get a vaccine. I’ve shielded most of the last six months and the idea of sitting in a Glasgow cinema with people does not fill me with joy.

However I’ve always loved cinema, and so clearly does Nolan plus the fact is if we don’t support cinema now then all that’ll happen is screens will be purely full of Disney product in the years to come so we need to support the likes of Nolan so we get these types of original blockbusters, and if Tom Cruise can get up off his arse then by Xenu so can I.

The strange world of George Galloway

Galloway is an odd figure. A once-respected (well, from some)  firebrand of the left managed to destroy his reputation and image by a succession of increasingly unpleasant steps into politics that involved him becoming the sort of person he’d once rally against. His latest stunt is to ally with Tories and Unionists to oppose Scottish independence as a talking head for the Alliance For Unity party, who are a motley mix of hard/far right types and Unionists desperate for anything to fight the rise in support for independence.

He’s somehow managed to become a figurehead for these people as he goes full Farage as he too becomes Steve Bannon and Michael Gove’s latest glove puppet. The thinking seems to be that Galloway is left-wing (which is dubious), and most folk in Scotland are leftish so the people will flock behind him and chase the Nasty Nats out of town.  The problem is Galloway has an image problem and not just related to this insanity from Big Brother.

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Galloway is the act of a desperate foe. An attempt to unify the Unionist cause behind a Farageist figure who they think will win. but many soft Unionists or genuine undecideds, or simply No votes from 2014 will be horrified at his suggestion only born Scots should vote in a second referendum, and that Scottish born immigrants in the rest of the UK should have the vote. Essentially full-blown ethnic nationalism, something the Unionists accuse Indy supporters of.

The fact is the only way it should be decided is by those living in Scotland eligible to vote. Galloway is a desperate sad act who exists only for the furtherment of Galloway and this is purely his latest grift. Remember this in the months ahead as a small minority pretend he’s some sort of giant killer.

Sam Raimi versus UK censors on live TV

Back in the 80’s and 90’s there used to be a late-night talk show called Central Weekend, shown on the ITV network but based in the Midlands. It was an odd magazine format that would switch from deeply serious to flippant on the turn of a heel. Back in 1987 they had Sam Raimi on to defend not just his two Evil Dead films released at the time, as well as being the mouthpiece of anti-censorship.

The argument is bizarre. At one point Howarth is arguing for parental control while saying that parents are so weak they can’t exercise control over their children and it’s the fault of folk like Sam Raimi but being a Nazi, which is one of the arguments used.  Of course the likes of Howarth have never seen all the film, and also people argue that people see films just for kicks which is basically the entire fucking point of any entertainment.

Raimi spent most of the early part of his career in the UK arguing for his films and in this, he looks weary as he realises that he’s being set up as the fall guy. The amount of venom thrown at him by the like of Howarth over the years would wear anyone out but the fact is Raimi is now one of Hollywood’s most respected directors and the Evil Dead films are regarded as classics, with the first being respected across critical boundaries while Howarth is best remembered for being a homophobe who was roundly skewered by Chris Morris on Brass Eye.

 

What if there’d been a toy line for the 1979 Caligula film?

One of my guity pleasures in the very porny, very gory, very bizarre 1979 film, Caligula.

This was my introduction into the world of Tinto Brass, not to mention seeing actors like John Guilgud who in this film seems to be walking around in a haze counting how large his bank account is going to be once he gets through everything. It is also a mess as producer Bob Guccione rewrote scenes, not to mention inserted hardcore sex scenes filmed on set at night when the actors were away, as he felt it needed more sex to perhaps offset the violence.

Anyhow, the film is a mess but like one of the setpieces, it’s a mess one can’t help but be intrigued by, depending on what version of the film you see as there’s multiple versions depending how how much porn and gore you want. However imagine a line of toys to go along with the film that was made in 1979? Didn’t happen of course but what if it did?

Here you go…

The Poughkeepsie Tapes is the found-footage film that disturbed me

 

Back in the 2000’s things were all over the place for horror films. There weren’t that many great ones (the footprint of 911 cast itself over the first part of the decade) but as the decade progressed things improved especially on the independent film front. I’m a horror fan since a wee boy, so the odd gem that’d come up I’d swallow up like a hungry prisoner, and by the end of the 00’s most of the once-banned video nasties were coming out on disc either uncut, or close to uncut.

Tracking down video nasties used to be fun, but now everything was easy to buy from your local HMV or through Amazon. Then in 2007 a rumour flew around the internet about a film which was deeply disturbing even if it was a found footage film which even by 2007 was wildly overused and full of awful, awful films. The Poughkeepsie Tapes was a low budget film in the found footage/mockumentary style which was familiar by now but what made it attractive was it was bloody hard to get in those pre broadband days. Sure you could find it on P2P sites but it took ages to download, and when it did there was less than an hour of the film. It wasn’t until checking online that you had to use VLC Player to watch it. In short, it was a bit of a hunt to watch the bloody thing in an age when media was readily available at the click of a mouse.

Once I did see the film it was clear this was, well, fucked up. From the off the entire film felt wrong, in a deeply disturbing WTF type of way. Yes there were easy shocks but the entire thing uneased me and even the sometimes awful acting in these films washed me by as another disturbing set-piece came up. I can’t say I enjoyed the film, but I certainly remembered it afterward.

And so it passed into memory only to pop up in conversation during those drunken ‘what films freaked you out’ conversation you’d have. Then the other day this video popped up in my recommendations.

Apart from being a pretty good review of the film, it brought back that slightly disturbed feeling so I found my copy of the film and watched it again. Yes, it still disturbed. The crap bits are still crap. However, there’s that tone and feel that this is right, in that, the film is designed to make you walk away from it feeling like you need a shower which is the sign of a good horror film, but maybe not one you’ll watch over and over again.

So give it a go, but do it in the dark.

 

 

 

The Crazies

The world is going to shit, and that was before the coronavirus. Now we’re in a world where entire countries are quarantining themselves, Real Madrid are all self-isolating, while Donald Trump tries hard to sit and read a statement to camera but fails to do even that properly. Meanwhile in the UK we’re not banning events where people can meet and spread the disease but we are buying toilet paper in such quantities that by now there must be households where entire rooms are bulging with the stuff.

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Though I can see why people are stockpiling toilet roll. In the event of a real genuine breakdown of civilisation what’s the point of looking all cool, moody and hard like Norman Reedus if you smell like shite because you can’t wipe your arse properly.

And now today hordes of London-based hacks are going insane not over Boris Johnson’s inept handling of the crisis (where we should be shitting down for a week at least)  because Nicola Sturgeon is giving early, clear warnings of what is happening. We live in the time of the Crazies where sanity has been replaced by a barely restrained hysteria and one might ask why am I not panicking as after all, I’m one of the coronavirus’s target audience seeing as my immune system is fucked after the cancer, stroke, etc, etc…

I’m not in a panic because after flirting with death you get used to living with it in the same way you get used to an unwelcome visitor shitting on your couch. The fact is you put your faith in the NHS to do what they can do, and if they can’t well, at least I don’t have to see people panic over whether their arse will be clean enough in the apocalypse.