Monday, December 20, 2010

In Memoriam: Tribute to Don Van Vliet, John Leslie and Jean Rollin

Recently, a number of legendary artists have passed away, each one leaving both a void and a distinguished fingerprint behind. In addition to the great Leslie Neilsen and Blake Edwards, there have been three whose talents and vision have left a huge impact on me as a person and an artist. The three in question are Jean Rollin, Don Van Vliet (of Captain Beefheart fame) and John Leslie. 

Van Vliet from the fantastic Beefheart album, Ice Cream for Crow.

An insanely gifted painter as well as musician, was one of those rare birds who changed everything while never being able to be pinned down as anything. The only label you could put on this man is the genius one. 

John Leslie was a guy that wore many hats as well; actor, musician and director. An intensely underrated actor, Leslie was a multi-leveled thespian who could pull off likable, sleazy, sinister, polished, piggish and lovable rogue with equal ability. Whether he was playing commitment-phobe with a heart of gold Jack in Anthony Spinelli's NOTHING TO HIDE or the highly dysfunctional millionaire gone to seed Lee Balcourt in Cecil Howard's highly recommended FIRESTORM Trilogy, he could truly do it all. Even in lesser films, Leslie was always the best thing about them. He's truly one of my favorites and his star will always shine in this household. 

John Leslie in Dave Friedman's BLONDE HEAT. 

Last, but certainly not least, was the loss of French director Jean Rollin, who re-invented horror films and managed to incorporate a painter's eye for visual mixed with a strange and occasionally sad tone to his films. Some of Rollin's best films could be described as beautiful and haunting fever dreams. My first Rollin film was the intense and melancholy LIPS OF BLOOD/LEVRES DE SANG, thanks to Cultcuts having me review it. It made me a convert and in proper tribute, here's my original review in its full state. Though words do not really do full justice to this film and director. 


Few genres of horror have become creatures of convention like the vampire film. From decadent
Euro-type lady magnets to the soulful loner who walks the Earth guilt ridden, they have all been done to death and then some. Even in 1975, the vampire genre had already become one riddled with stereotypes.
So it takes an artist with a distinct vision and boatload of talent to use these conventions and bend them to create something fresh and effective. One such artist is French director, screenwriter and author Jean Rollin, whose film, LIPS OF BLOOD aka LEVRES DE SANG, is one of the best vampire films to
have come out in the past thirty years.

In fact, the film opens with that classic horror locale, the old graveyard. At night, no less!
A white van approaches an old Parisian graveyard, where two men and a woman, clad entirely in dust brown, right down to the veiled hat. The group starts to load in bodies, all of them ensheathed tightly by white sheets. These seemingly lifeless forms are taken into a beautiful and gothic tomb, and then placed
in plain wooden coffins. Just when you think this is business as usual, there is one of the most subtle but extremely effective shots in the film. The veiled woman, with a melancholy stare, looks at one of the
bodies as it starts to gasp for air through the sheet. It’s so simple but so creepy.

Immediately after that, we cut to a jazzy, in crowd type of party, which is where we meet Frederic
(Jean-Loup Philippe) and his doting mother (Nathalie Perrey). While talking to his date, Frederic
suddenly becomes entranced by a photo used in a Parfum Nordia ad. This photo is an image of a huge, foreboding castle, still strong looking despite the moss and the ruin. It is this image that proves to be a catalyst for not only Frederic but for the rest of the film.

When he was a young boy, Frederic’s father died, which had some how triggered a huge memory loss within him. Seeing the photo brings him back to when he was a young boy on the verge of puberty. He is lost at night, around the same ruins in the photo. He is rescued by a beautiful, young woman with short, dark hair, red lips and clad entirely in white. She covers him with her sweater and lets him sleep in the castle until dawn approaches, when she quickly sends him back to his mother. Young Frederic tells her he loves her and now adult Frederic is determined to find this woman. The one he may still love, after all
these years.

His mother immediately attempts to put this thought out of his mind and tries to convince him that it was just a fever dream of youth. But the wheels are already in motion and he quickly finds the photographer who shot the photo. This leads to the only scene in the whole film that seems a little out of place,
involving the lady photographer shooting a fully nude and amorous model. There is a nice contrast in the scene involving the image of the saucy model and the sole sound of the camera clicking. No music or dialogue, just a cold and mechanical sound.

The photographer originally plays coy, but agrees to meet him at the Aquarium at midnight, where she
has another shoot. She takes a liking to him and decides that she will tell him the information he wants then. The man’s got a few hours to spare, so he goes to a terrific looking cinema, whose outside walls
have this great, sort of Indian or Turkish inspired mural. He goes inside the theater, which is playing Rollin’s LA VAMPIRE NUE (1969), and soon sees the young girl. Naturally, he follows her and keeps doing so until he ends up in the graveyard that was in the beginning of the film. Unknowingly, he
unleashes four vampire women upon the city.

The scene of the vampire women arising is one of the most arresting and frightening scenes ever in a vampire movie. It’s hard to describe, but there is this quick rhythm to the scene that comes out of
nowhere. So that combined with the arresting looks of the vampiresses makes it memorable, to say the
very least. In firm Rollin tradition, the four of them are in pairs. Two of them are clothed only in long, sheer fabrics and, not unlike the sisters in REQUIEM POUR UN VAMPIRE (1971), are blonde and brunette. The other two, my personal favorites, are two flaxen haired twins (Catherine and Marie-Pierre Castel) whose ethereal beauty barely masks their own feral nature.

From there on, the audience, along with Frederic, is taken upon a strange and very surreal ride, involving
a hired hit man, strait jackets, a bonfire of bodies, and a final image that is haunting and sadly beautiful, which could very well describe the entire tone of the film. Unsettling but very lovely.

Jean Rollin has made a substantial cult career in making erotically tinged films, ranging from the horrific (LE VIOL DU VAMPIRE (1967) to the wholly erotic (BACCHANALES SEXUELLES (1974). What makes this interesting is that, aside from the camera scene, none of the nudity or even love scenes comes across as strictly erotic. That tinge is definitely there but there is purity and menace there that is
extremely hard to portray, even by usually competent filmmakers and actors. You just have to look at the Dracula’s brides scene in BRAM STOKER’S DRACULA (1992) to see that. The nudity and vampire women are there but totally lack the inherent scary sexiness that Rollin’s vampire femmes possess.

Visually, this is a gorgeous film. I’ve heard of it being compared to the works of Argento, in terms of
color. Both men are visual masters, but Rollin opts for more toned down colors that are striking without being overwhelming. There are a lot of light colors here, with the only noticeable dark colors being the ruddy mouths of the women and the purple fabric draping the nude blonde vampire.

As Frederic, Jean-Loup Philippe does a really great job of portraying a haunted man with good
intentions, who thankfully lacks the naiveté one would expect with this type of character. (See
Jonathon Harker.) He also assisted in the writing of the film, which makes one wish he could have done
more work with Rollin. Like everyone else in the film, he is physically interesting to look at it, with his
tall frame, blue yes and boyish, permanent messed up hair. Bizarrely, Philippe’s other best known film is the 1975 sex film LE SEXE QUI PARLE, which among other things, is known for inspiring the US
cult film, CHATTERBOX (1977).

Like so many notable filmmakers before and after him, Rollin tends to use some of the same people over and over again. Both the Castel twins and Annie Belle (who was the young girl that haunted Frederic)
were in BACCHANALES SEXUELLES. Plus, the former were also in Rollin’s PHANTASMES
(1975) and LA VAMPIRE NUE. Belle would go on to be in such movies as Joe D’Amato’s ABSURD (1982). Nathalie Perrey continued to work with Rollin for many years, including his most recently
released film LA FIANCEE DE DRACULA (2002).

Redemption did a terrific job with this disc, being the first Pal DVD release of LIPS OF BLOOD in the United Kingdom. In addition to a still and cover art gallery; there are two trailers for THE SINFUL
NUNS OF SAINT VALENTINE (1973) and THE BLOODSUCKER LEADS THE DANCE (1975). There is even a music video for The Nuns “White Slaves.” (Which will definitely appeal to the Goths
with a heavy fetish bent out there.) My only real complaint about this disc is that there are two instances
in the film where there are lines of dialogue without subtitles. Thankfully they are brief and don’t ruin
the film, but it is still a minor nuisance.

LIPS OF BLOOD is perfect for the art film lovers who also happen to love horror and visa versa. Not
only that, but it is a great hallmark in the long, colorful career of one of France’s greatest genre filmmakers.

Updates? We don't need no stinking updates!

But alas, you're getting them anyways!

Hope you're having a good or at least a non-depressing Holiday season and keeping warm out there. If you've been wondering what I have been up to between the Mike White interview (Seriously, buy his book y'all. It is worth it.) and now, here are a few links that will fill in the gap. Enjoy and stay tuned!

In addition to my steady work with the great film review site Cultcuts, I also was interviewed for the second time around by the one and only Frank Cotolo for his internet radio show, the Cotolo Chronicles. In addition to being a radio personality extraordinaire, he's also a fab interviewer and fine writer to boot. If you're curious, you can access a link to the show here.  

I've also started contributing to the relatively new but already going strong site, Cinema Head Cheese. Check out both sites for some fun and fine film writing a go-go. (Plus they are great guys too.)

The biggest news is that I have recently joined the staff at Video Watchdog. This is a huge pleasure for me, especially since VW was one of the big film magazines that helped open my eyes to the colorful world of cult and foreign films back in my early teens.

I've made my debut with issue #160, which is fresh from the printers and uber-lovely. In addition to my two BYTES of Troma's BIGFOOT and Media Blaster's LEMON GROVE KIDS MEET THE MONSTERS, there are some terrific articles about Friday the 13th, including the underrated series with Robey, an interview with June Lockheart and a ton of great reviews.

I also got to contribute to the Best DVDs of 2010 list on the Video Watchblog as well. All of the contributions are really good and a near-painful reminder that I need to find a bag of money asap!

There are other projects cooking, but more on those when the time comes. Thank you everyone for reading and keep fighting the good fight and support great, fringe culture.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Don't Eat the Popcorn, But Enjoy the Ride!: An Interview with Mike White

To create a zine of any type takes a certain type of creative spark and energy. After all, you're doing something that is DIY, so you gotta make it count. Now to keep said zine going after its initial run takes an especially precious and resourceful blend of focus and energy. Take, for example, Mike White's great film zine, Cashiers du Cinemart, which began operation in 1994. Many a zine from this era has died with a whimper, especially once the age of the Internet and Blogging took a stranglehold in the writing community. (For better and worse.) But Mike kept his creation going, featuring many a strong writer and some wickedly diverse content. This is not your average cult film zine, a fact that shines brilliantly in the newly released tome, IMPOSSIBLY FUNKY: A CASHIERS DU CINEMART COLLECTION.

Even if you've read this noted zine or are still scratching your head over the beautiful bastardization of the classic cineaste periodical Cahiers du Cinema, the odds are damn fine that you will still enjoy this book. It's got more variety than a holiday Whitman's sampler and tastes better too. With articles ranging from Dr. Demento and Crispin Glover to superhero films and the cinematic works of crime author James Ellroy, there is something here for everyone. I was very lucky to get a sneak peek at the book, along with author, filmmaker and mastermind Mike White. Take a step behind the curtain and enjoy!

Impossibly Funky - The Book Trailer from Mike White on Vimeo.

How many books have their own trailers? Not many!

First of all Mike, thank you so much for thinking of Mondo Heather for the Impossibly Funky promo tour a-go-go! Now to start things off, what exactly spurred you into the wooly world of film zines?

Mike: Like just about everything in my life, it was a confluence of events that finally pushed me over the edge. I’d been a big fan of Factsheet Five ( and loved reading about various film and work zines but didn’t have anything to trade for these. While working at a movie theater I got the idea to do my own zine of life at the cinema. This idea languished until I graduated from college and landed a shitty job where I worked some crazy hours, including a few overnight shifts. Add to that the strange events surrounding a documentary I made (WHO DO YOU THINK YOU’RE FOOLING) and everything resulted in the messy birth of Cashiers du Cinemart.

-Keeping in that vein, are there any particular inspirations for your writing?

Mike: Style-wise I write far too stream-of-consciousness. I used to bury a lead so deep that it took a back hoe to find the start of an article. I’ve tried to change this over the years by learning how to rewrite my own material. I took a page from Charles Willeford’s The Woman Chaser there with the idea that the biggest part of writing is rewriting. Content-wise, I think that I was influenced a lot by Colin Geddes and Rich Osmond with the joy they showed in their zines Asian Eye and Teenage Rampage.

-You've got a great assortment of writers in the Cahiers du Cinemart league. How did you round up everybody?

Mike: It was kind of like The Dirty Dozen, I found all of them in jail, waiting for death. Actually, over the years I approached and have been approached by a lot of folks. Nearly all of them have turned out to be terrific writers. When people have come to me and asked for an “assignment,” I tell them to write about what they love – preferably something I’ve never heard about. That helps capture their enthusiasm as well as expand my cinematic frontiers (and hopefully those of the reader as well).

-What was the big pull for putting this book together?

Mike-I felt like I’d come to a breathing point in terms of putting the zine in its grave and wanting to look back and update some articles while combining others. Plus, there were a few things I had left to say that never made it into Cashiers du Cinemart. Some people were of the opinion that everything should go into the book verbatim—warts and all—while I was more of the mind to rewrite everything. At the end I think that it was a mix of both.

-How was the decision making process for the chapters and individual articles?

Mike: I got together with two of my friends, Mike Thompson and Lori Hubbard-Higgins, and laid out a huge spreadsheet of everything that had ever been in the zine before. They volunteered their favorite pieces while I did the same. By the end of a long evening of coffee and weepy reminiscences (we all had coffee, only I did the weeping) we had a workable list that was pared down until we got to a place that wouldn’t make an insane amount of pages. Likewise, I picked authors with whom I knew I could get in contact. Some people have fallen off the face of the earth since they sent in their pieces and I wanted to get sign-off to reprint their stuff. I didn’t want to be chasing some author around to beg for permission.

-There's definitely a weird dynamic in the book between you and Chris Gore. He gives a nice introduction but comes across as bit of a jerk in the Tarantino subsection. How are things in that camp currently?

Mike: I gave up holding a lot of grudges. It’s just so “September Tenth,” ya know? I kind of regret that I didn’t have my take on the whole Ultimate Film Fanatic show in the book. It might have made a good comparison piece to Gore’s Introduction. Things seem to be fine between me and him. We still have yet to ever meet in person but I’m up for buying him a beer if I ever do.

-Speaking of Tarantino, what is the strangest reaction you have had from either the articles or the two short films, WHO DO YOU THINK YOU'RE FOOLING and YOU'RE STILL NOT FOOLING ANYBODY?

Mike: I still laugh about the guy who asked me how I got all those Asian dudes to be in my film. The hate mail still keeps coming in, usually via drips and drabs on YouTube. You don’t know how many times I’ve gotten people trying to quote the line about good artists creative and great artists stealing to me. Yet, they can’t even agree on who said it first. 

Thanks to the wonders of Youtube, you can watch and judge for yourself.

-Out of all the film people you have dealt with personally, who were the biggest surprises, both good and bad, to interact with?

Mike: I suppose that the people that surprised me most were the filmmakers who didn’t want me to review their films. You wouldn’t believe how many folks I talked to over the years that had I sought out to ask for copies of their movies, only to have them tell me their bizarre marketing strategies didn’t have zine or internet reviews in mind. Luckily, I ran into far more nice people than nasty. I was always surprised by how down-to-earth some of the celebs I interviewed have acted.

-The whole BLACK SHAMPOO section is really great and strangely sweet. What other creative things bent your brain in your youth, making you the great fringe culture guy that you are today?

Mike: Gosh, I wish I knew! It was probably due to being raised by the light of a Cathode Ray, hanging out in my basement with the television as my only friend. Like other kids my age I played for hours with Star Wars toys but I would mix Star Wars with disparate ideas like The A-Team, The Dukes of Hazzard, and The Blues Brothers.

-Something that I love about this book is the variety and the fact that you have figures and films that have not really been properly covered in any other film books. The Charles Willeford section is a terrific example of this. Is this a conscious decision on your part or is it the natural trajectory of the zine/book?

Mike: That’s very much a conscious decision. I love reading about authors or seeing movies that I’ve never heard of before and wanted to share that same idea with my readers. While I was doing Cashiers du Cinemart I always thought about the kid stuck in some crappy Midwestern town with no access to culture who happens to pick up a zine and read about someone or something that they never heard about that blew their mind; that’s because I was the same kid. Pieces about Harry Stephen Keeler in Murder Can Be Fun or on hopping Chinese vampires in Asian Eye opened my world up in directions I’d never thought possible.

-Seeing a filmmaker like Shuji Terayama get noted and written about made me smile. His works are ripe for proper discovery over here in the States. While I do disagree with writer Andrew Grant about FRUITS OF PASSION, I loved what he wrote about EMPEROR TOMATO KETCHUP. How do you personally feel about Terayama's works?

Mike: Here’s a filmmaker that needs to get some notice in the U.S. that just isn’t getting his due. I personally feel that his work needs to be seen and enjoyed, along with more of the Japanese New Wave. I’ve done all I could to help get these films more notice, even working with native Japanese speakers to subtitle Terayama’s movies for the gray market to get more American eyes on his movies. It’s like a treasure just waiting to be discovered.

-Out of all the articles you have personally written for the zine, what's your most and least favorite and why?

Mike: My most favorite piece is probably the Willeford. I was deathly afraid of writing this at first as I thought I’d never be able to do him justice. I finally sat down one Saturday and just started at it, writing down everything I could before beginning an arduous editing/rewriting process. In the end, I’d like to think I did a pretty okay job.

My least favorite piece might be my interview with Alex Winter. I’d been trying to get an interview with him for years and, when I finally did, it was around the release of his film Fever. If you just asked yourself, “Fever?” you’re not alone. It was kind of a psychological thriller with Henry Thomas. Despite meeting him under the guise of covering Fever, I should have thrown caution to the wind and just talked to him about the movies of his I love like Squeal of Death and Freaked.

-For any piece that I work on, I always take little notes while watching or reading whatever I am covering. One of notes here only says three words; “Paul Fucking Williams!” That's with complete seriousness since I love Paul Williams and is one of those artists who found great commercial success but yet I feel still deserves some critical love, which is most definitely found in this book. In fact, I think Leon Chase's piece was touching and perfectly fitting.

Mike: I love Leon’s piece. It’s so well-written and told me about someone I thought I knew but didn’t. Leon’s piece really made me appreciate Williams and even track down some of the movies with which he’s been associated—though I have yet to brave Ishtar.

Amazing clip of Paul performing "The Hell of It" from The Phantom of the Paradise.
We love you Paul!

-Another comment is that I love how well-researched and downright dense (in a good way!) the articles are. One could expand almost any of them into a book in their own right. Which do you think would make the best book?

Mike: Oh, geeze. I don’t even want to think about that. I try to think that I properly employed the “Lady’s Skirt” rule for these pieces—they’re long enough to cover the subject but short enough to keep it interesting.

If anything, I could see busting out the section on unproduced or misdirected scripts into its own book as I’ve still got a pile of a few dozen scripts that I need to read and research.

-Reading the Superman article, which was excellent by the way, you gave a great peek not only into the snake-eating-its-tail machina that can happen in the pre-production process in Hollywood, but also the scariness of fan boy culture. Namely the endorsement of the Kevin Smith script, complete with some semi-hokey dialogue. What do you think are some of the sins of fan boy community?

Mike: I think it’s the prejudice against certain films/filmmakers/actors without giving them a chance. By the time a movie comes out it’s already been scrutinized via all of its elements and not the final product. That’s a great way to condone crappy movies while condemning good ones. I mean, it took six months before anyone would even think to say that The Phantom Menace sucked. Everyone was still too busy kissing George Lucas’s ass to think differently.

-IMPOSSIBLY FUNKY contains what I think is probably the best interview I have ever read with Crispin Glover. How was the experience of putting together that interview?

Mike: I can’t tell you how many times I emailed and cajoled Glover about this. Finally, out of nowhere, he emailed me back to say that he was available for an email interview. Again, after I sent questions, it was a lot of wheedling to get the answers. I’m glad that the interview turned out as good as it did as he’s very high maintenance.

-Lastly, name a group of artists, films, books and records that will change our readers’ lives in three easy steps.

Mike: Books: A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole (the audio version read by Barrett Whitener is incredible), The Abortion by Richard Brautigan, and Of Tender Sin by David Goodis.

Films: The Spook who Sat by the Door (Ivan Dixon), Boxer’s Omen (Chih-Hung Kuei), and Once Upon a Time in the West (Sergio Leone).

Records: A Night at the Hip Hopera by The Kleptones, Silence! The Musical by Jon & Al Kaplan, and Metal Box by Public Image Ltd.

Many thanks to Mike for his time, great work and friendship. He's what we in the industry call a helluva guy and you can read more of his work at his main website,

IMPOSSIBLY FUNKY is a great read and one of the best fringe cinema culture book to have come out in years. Support your indie writers and read some great articles while doing it! 

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Update City

Greetings Everybody! Sorry about the tumbleweeds around here of late. In between now and my last post, I finished a 10 page article related to one of my previous pieces on here. (Mum is the word thunderbirds until I have more definite news.) Even bigger is that the hubby and I ended up moving out of our previous digs. We had far outgrown our tiny apartment. So that coupled with the fact that the building was starting to look like a cross between George Romero's THE CRAZIES and one of Roberta Findlay's 1980's era movies, we knew it was time to get out. We're loving our new hacienda and have spent the last 2-3 weeks setting up shop. Plus now I can give good tips on which packing tape to use, so everything is a lesson if you're open to it.

Anyways, consider this your coming attraction post for future pieces to be featured in this space. Including....

-Impossibly Funky: A Cult Film Writing Extravaganza  (An article about writer Mike White's latest book. For more info on that, then look no further than here.)

-A Bite-Sized Tribute to the Roughies

-Devo Round-Up...and so much more!

Until then, here is some video goodness to keep you a little sated. Thank you all so much for reading my blog!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

We Want the Airwaves!

If you enjoy fringe cinema or great talk radio, please feel free to tune in to the net radio show "Cotolo Chronicles" on Thursday, July 1st at 9pm Eastern time. Yours truly will be interviewed by legendary radio personality and author Frank Cotolo about all things weird, wonderful and cinematic. Just clink on the link above for more information. You can either listen live or listen to the archived version if you miss it. Either way hope you enjoy it!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

“Live longer, Live Healthier, and let thy arse make wind! A Video Round-up and Tribute to Timothy Carey”

“Live longer, Live Healthier, and let thy arse make wind! A Video Round-up and Tribute to Timothy Carey”

By Heather Drain

“We slip, we bleed. The truth is, I never really cared about conventional success. I was probably fired more than any other actor in Hollywood.” –Timothy Carey

Very few people have it and most of us do not. It’s the division between the Greek Gods and the mere mortals who are left to the farm, goats and vomitoriums. No, I’m not talking about religion or goat farming, but that tiny handful of artists who are so brilliant that they leave the rest of us in their dust. Years after they are gone into the ether of the afterlife, we are the ones eternally trying to catch up to them. Salvador Dali was one of them, as is Alejandro Jodorwosky, Clu Gulager, Bukowski and most definitely, Timothy Agoglia Carey.

On paper, Carey was a memorable character actor who worked with the likes of Stanley Kubrick (Paths of Glory, The Killing) and John Cassevettes (Minnie & Moskowitz, Killing of a Chinese Bookie). He also had a sizable body of work, often popping up on shows ranging from Gunsmoke to Mannix. The reality is that but so much more. Carey was a maverick of the biggest order and an artist who, like Sinatra, Elvis and Sid Vicious, did it his way. An artist and a man with true huevos who never took the easy way out on anything. This is the fabric, ladies and gents, of someone who will always be my hero.

Carey, as both an actor and director, possessed that incredible, rare human kinesis where you cannot take your eyes off of him for one second. There could be chimpanzees on fire while circus clowns openly weep, but if Carey is anywhere in the shot, he is the man you’re going to be looking at. Physically alone, he stood out. Most screen actors are pretty much on the wee side but not Carey, who was an oak of a man and stood around 6’5. Top that with jet black hair that often transformed itself into a pomp gone to seed (For the perfect example of this, see The World’s Greatest Sinner) and a pair of piercing, light blue eyes and you had a man whose looks alone commanded your attention.

But looks are like icing and are not substantial if you don’t have something underneath it for balance. Carey had that “it” factor, that presence that no amount of training, experience or plastic surgery can give you. It’s like being cool. You’ve either got it or you don’t. Give him a two-minute role in an hour and a half movie and trust that the main thing you will be talking about afterwards will be that guy. There have been and still are some great actors, but a tiny few can even come close to matching Carey’s intensity and sheer brilliance.

Unfortunately, the price one pays often for being ahead of their time is being majorly misunderstood by their peers, bosses and society at large. Eccentric at best and heaven help you if are not wealthy or charming enough to be given that moniker. Artists are communicators and have to fight, sometimes literally, to get their work out there and seen. Not everyone has to love it and in fact, sometimes they will utterly despise it, but if you are able to move their blank-eyed stares into some sort of emotion, then you have success. But people often loathe what they do not understand. Sometimes this is the fault of the filmmaker, but in this instance it’s more of a case of the man being ahead of the game by leaps and bounds.

Judging by his sole completed effort, the life changing The World’s Greatest Sinner and the glimpses of the works in eternal stasis, especially Tweet’s Ladies of Pasadena, Carey’s approach to filmmaking was unlike any others. The biggest fight for any artist, other than the communication breakdown, is being able to have a unique thumbprint. Especially when you realize cinema is often a daisy chain of inspiration. And while I’m sure Carey had his own inspirations, by the time he got behind the camera, every bit of it has his DNA in it a 110%. You can’t even fully compare it to the underground cinema of the time. If anything, Carey influenced a lot of those guys, not the other way around. This film is its own animal, all the way.

Being a real dyed in the wool maverick, Carey was bound to irk some people. There are near legendary stories of Carey pissing off actors ranging from Kirk Douglas, whom starred along side him in Kubrick’s war film Paths of Glory to Seymour Cassell. Why? Because he was some ego driven male diva? No because he tended to overshadow everyone on the screen. This was something never intentional and in fact, part of his drive as an actor was to heighten the quality of whatever project he was working on. It was this lack of ego that makes Carey all the more of a rare creature, especially with actors.

But if Timothy Carey was dynamite as an actor, then he was one neutron bomb of a director. His best-known work and only completed one is the one-of-a-kind religious rock and roller surrealist masterpiece, The World’s Greatest Sinner. The filming reportedly started as early as 1958, wrapped up in ’61 and was debuted in 1962. Watching this movie now is an intense experience but it must have felt like Stravinsky’s riot inducing performance of The Rites of Spring at its debut. This tale of a seemingly normal middle class salesman who turns into rock & roll playing evangelist who changes his name from Clarence to God Hilliard. God’s bad deeds include committing adultery with both an elderly woman and a teenage girl, then becoming completely disenfranchised with his family. The religious imagery is a real standout as well, with the most startling being God challenging the real thing by piercing a Eucharist that ends up bleeding.

This is some heady stuff. Showing something like this now to the unsuspecting spuds could elicit a charged reaction, but back in the early 60’s? Holy shit! Between the smart observations of both the weakness and power of one power-fueled man and an absolutely searing musical performance with a gold suited Carey gyrating to hordes of screaming fans, this is a movie that will brand itself on your psyche for a long, long time. It’s a revolutionary piece of work, then and certainly now.

It’s important to also keep in mind that this is an era where Elvis was censored from the waist down and guys like Pat Boone were raping the catalogs of good rock and roll records to make them less threatening to “proper” white families. A lot of kids today will see someone like the King and wonder what all the fuss is about. But I think anyone seeing Carey’s gyrations and instantly see the almost anihilistic lack of inhibition and fire that is going on in that man. You know, church never moved me that much but World’s Greatest Sinner? You better believe it!

Brothers and sisters, Mr. Timothy Carey was ahead of his time. Too ahead of his time as it turns out, since the film was very poorly received. Even its composer, a young Frank Zappa, famously ripped on it on the The Steve Allen Show. As ubersmart and gifted as Zappa was, he should have known better. This is the man that was responsible for films like 200 Motels , for crying out loud. (For the record, I am actually a Zappa fan and love his music for TWGS.) Carey actually stated on an episode of the West Coast public access show Art Fein’s Poker Party, that the only person that liked TWGS was the equally legendary John Cassevettes. Which is a shame and far from the truth now. At least Cassevettes put his money where his mouth was, since he cast Carey in both Minnie & Moskowitz and the great Killing of a Chinese Bookie. But more importantly, he also gave Carey film and editing equipment, along with trying to help him snag cast, crew and backers. It’s a tragedy that someone as special as Carey had to go through his life often misunderstood by so many.

That said, this is no sob story and someone like Carey deserves something better than trite pathos. His warpath of creative brilliance continued with a string of unfinished projects, starting with Tweet’s Ladies of Pasadena. No amount of description will prepare your eyes for this corneal cornucopia. The basic plot has Carey as the titular Tweet Twig, the only male in a knitting club called “Don’t Drop a Stitch.” He’s surrounded by knitting old ladies, a blowsy weightlifting cockney blonde for a wife (whom at one point bellows “Oh no! More bloomin’ animals!”) and a horde of the aforementioned animals whose nakedness will be clothed by Tweet and his ladies’ creations. If anything will ever make you want to flash your collective asses to network television as a whole, it is knowing that this was turned down. Yes, this was a TV pilot and in my Utopia, this is what would be on TV 24/7. Forget Lost, I’d much rather see Timothy Carey as this lovable bumble Tweet knitting and dressed up as a Native American Indian for no discernable reason. Do not fear Dada, folks.

Another project was A.L. and before you start having images of Franken or Capone drift in your heads, it is LA backwards. Quite fitting given that the plot revolved around a young midwestern couple that gets lost on the Los Angeles freeway while the wife goes into labor. Along the way he runs into your average person wandering the streets of LA; the worker, the illegal immigrant, the bums, the street kids, etc. Undoubtedly, it would have been great especially given that everything happens in one day. This was one of the big projects that Cassevettes tried to get backed for Carey, but was kyboshed when studio execs would only accept it if a lot of changes were made. This was unacceptable for an artist like Carey and the film was never made.

His last big project was a play/film entitled The Insect Trainer, in which he played the lead character, restaurant dishwasher Guasti Q. Guasti ends up being on trial for murder after letting out a ballast of flatulence so strong that it physically knocks over an old woman. Her fall proves to be fatal and at some point, Guasti realizes he has a talent for training insects. The Insect Trainer was inspired by the twin figures of Salvador Dali and Le Petomane, the famous French Fartiste. Footage of this film exists and is certainly very, very high on my personal wish list. Apparently Martin Scorsese donated $3,000 to the production, which just highlights the fact that Scorsese is the real deal. (Taxi Driver alone has forever and always sealed my love for the man. No matter how many times he uses Leonardo Dicaprio in his films.)

Timothy Carey was taken away from this plane on May 11, 1994 after suffering a massive stroke. Our bodies will always ultimately fail us in the end but it is the marks that we leave here that can be the testament of the spirit. Timothy Carey’s legacy is huge, as actor, writer, director and man. He was that rare force of nature whose power and beauty will never be equaled and always admired by anyone smart enough to be open to it.

Now onward ho to the audio/video celebration of this supernova of one man’s vision, talent and spirit. Always remember those that you may write off, so called madmen are sometimes the most perceptive of us all. (Except for that guy in your front yard wearing a ski cap on his genitals and singing “Oh Susanna.” He’s just batshit crazy.)

Anyways, on to the Video Round Up!

Ah yes, the infamous dance from the 1957 drive-in cult classic "Bayou" aka "Poor White Trash." It starts out as cute but as soon as Carey enters the scene, you know you are witnessing something really special. Note the way he grabs on to leading lady Lita Milan's hair, even deftly switching hands when he takes his shirt off. Wow!

One of my favorite moments in "World's Greatest Sinner." This is one of the most truly rock and roll moments ever committed to celluloid. I would love to watch this scene back to back to the Cramps doing "Tear it Up" from "Urgh! A Music War."

This is like having your psyche hugged by an angel. Enjoy!


Carey as "Moose" on the 70's chestnut, "Mannix." Nuff said!

INCREDIBLE clip of Carey on Art Fein's show. Bless this man for sharing such a rare gem with us. Notice the reference to Carey's scene stealing turn in "Beach Blanket Bingo!" And yes, the farting.

Carey's hilarious and demented turn in the Monkees' cult classic "Head." Attaboy Mike!  

Here are some very fascinating links to interviews and articles dealing with the man.


Monday, April 19, 2010

The Artist Within the Murderer

Art and death are so perfect together that the union at times is wholly symbiotic. Art is all about creation. Some artists even use birth-related terminology when creating new works, such as referring to their various creations as “my children.” Where you have birth, you must have death. Ah yes here they are folks, the bookends of our lives. Death fascinates and frightens us, which is why it can be such a huge thread in so many works of art.

Now there are common ways for death to co-mingle with art. People in their lives die and that naturally will have an effect on their art. The fear of death or even the embracing of it can also be a big ingredient too. But the artist as a man and woman being the literal bringer of death has been a pretty rare thing. You have the obvious examples, like Varg Vikernes from Mayhem and Burzum, Phil Spector and of course ole Charlie Manson.
But to have an actual serial killer get legally released from prison because of the strength of his creative talent is practically unheard of. However that very thing happened in the early 1990’s in Austria with Johann “Jack” Unterweger aka the Poet of Death.

If ever there was one with a classic prone to serial killing childhood, Unterweger was it. His mother had been a prostitute and his father an American soldier that was long out of the picture before his son was officially in the picture. At some point early on, young Johann was abandoned and sent to live with his grandparents. Allegedly, his grandfather was a severe alcoholic with violent tendencies, though Jack’s Aunt came out later on to say that he had a poor but loving upbringing. Whatever the case, he certainly had a troubled childhood that begat a very troubled young man, whose first crime was roughing up a sex worker at age 16.  It was only a matter of time that a serious transgression was bound to happen.

And happen it did, as a young woman was found dead in the woods. According to Unterweger himself, that before his first killing he had already committed numerous rapes and burglaries. It was the murder of 18 year old Margaret Schafer, whom he strangled to death with her own bra, that got him ultimately convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

Where this story starts to get really weird is that going into prison, Unterweger was reportedly illiterate. While there, he began to devour book after book and educated himself, as both a reader and a writer. The even more amazing thing is that he unearthed a talent strong enough that he started to get notice from the outside word. Poems, plays and short prose started coming out of him, but much like Jack Abbot before him, it was his autobiography Purgatory (Fegefeur) that got him the biggest notice and ended up being a bestseller. His work even garnered him literary prizes.

By the time he was up for parole, he had a bevy of prison reformists, writers and critics championing for his release with the reasoning that this sexual sadist and murderer had been reformed by art. This man’s intellect and creativity along with some well meaning but extremely naïve people got him out of prison and back into society.

Jack Unterweger went into prison an illiterate, poor, ex-pimp psychopathic murderer and came out a media darling and was immediately welcomed into high moving social circles. Book launches and society parties all welcomed the now stylish and handsome ex-criminal. Fegefeur even became a movie, making Unterweger one of the few serial murderers to have a writing credit on the IMDB. To anyone with any real logic about crime, it will come as absolutely no shock that prostitutes started showing up dead yet again in Vienna, a city with a usually very low crime rate towards sex workers in general.

The police suspected him immediately, but despite the surveillance, they couldn’t nail him on any suspicious behavior. Of course, Unterweger, like a lot of serial murderers was far from stupid and knew better than to do anything shady as the heat grew. Also like a lot of his fellow bloodthirsty spiritual kin, he quickly got very cocky, even challenging police about what they were going to do about this string of fresh murders. All of this bravura being displayed under the guise of a probing journalist. An act such as that either signifies brass balls or brass ignorance. In Unterweger’s case, it was a little bit of both.

Nevertheless the police had nothing solid on him until Unterweger flew to Los Angeles for research on an article about crime for a local Austrian magazine. During this five week period, the killings in Vienna stopped and suddenly three prostitutes were found strangled with their own garments in the City of Lost Angels. What followed after this was a fascinating case of hubris and fear, with the collaborative efforts of the Austrian police and the LAPD ultimately sealing Unterweger’s fate. He was convicted of murdering 9 women and was sent to prison, where he hung himself with some string he pulled out of his jumpsuit. The ultimate irony was that he utilized the very knot that he had used to murder so many women on himself.

 Falco looking uber-suave.

There is something else tied to this figure that makes the story even stranger, all thanks to the very unlikely form of Austrian pop star Falco. In 1985, he released his massively successful Falco 3 album, which included his biggest known song “Rock Me Amadeus.” Also on that album was a creepy and completely overlooked in the US pop song called “Jeanny.” (In fact, it was never released in the United States as a single, despite it being huge in Europe.) This song, inspired by the Unterweger murders, went all the way to number one in Austria, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Switzerland and the Netherlands. All that despite being banned by some radio stations and being protested by various groups, including some dumb “feminists.” (Side note, I am a proud feminist but I do not need a bunch of reactionary fundamentalists trying to represent me and my biology. Just saying.) 

Eerie Picture Sleeve for the "Jeanny" Single

  Falco is an underrated artist, especially in this country where he pretty much is regarded as a “one-hit wonder,” despite having some moderate success with both “Der Kommisaar” and “Vienna Calling.” He did some really strange things under the pop music umbrella that still makes him stand out and “Jeanny” is further proof of this. The chorus is in English while the spoken word parts are in German, giving the listener a weird dysphoria especially given how near desperate sounding the speaker sounds. Just one look at the lyrics should tell you that this is not your momma’s pop tune:

NOTE: Lines in italics were in English in the original German version.
Jeanny, Jeanny...

[spoken] Newsflash, newsflash...

“Official government reports...” (all in English)

Jeanny, Jeanny...

Jeanny, come, come on
Stand up please
You're getting all wet
It's getting late, come
We must leave here
Out of the woods
Don't you understand?

Where is your shoe?
You lost it
When I had to show you the way
Which of us lost?
You, yourself?
I, myself?
Or... we ourselves?

Jeanny, quit livin' on dreams
Jeanny, life is not what it seems
Such a lonely little girl in a cold, cold world
There's someone who needs you
Jeanny quit livin' on dreams
Jeanny, life is not what it seems
You're lost in the night
Don't wanna struggle and fight
There's someone who needs you

It's cold
We must leave here
Your lipstick is smeared
You bought it and
And I saw it
Too much red on your lips
And you said, “Leave me alone”
But I saw right through you
Eyes say more than words
You need me, don't you, hmmmh?
Everyone knows, that we're together
From today,
Now I can hear them, they are coming!

They're coming!
They are coming to get you.
They won't find you.
Nobody will find you!
You're with me.

Jeanny quit livin' on dreams...

[spoken] Newsflash:
In the last months the number of missing persons has dramatically increased. The latest account from the local police reports another tragic case. It is a matter of a nineteen year old girl who was last seen two weeks ago. The police have not excluded the possiblity that a crime has been committed.


Jeanny, quit livin' on dreams...

Pleasant dreams, right? The best part is that the video is equally unsettling with Falco playing the part of the predator. For anyone used to seeing the man all suave and dapper will be very surprised as Falco lets go of the pop ego and immerses himself into character. It’s actually reminiscent of Golden Earring’s brilliant and disturbing clip for “When the Lady Smiles” minus the black humor. There’s no humor here to cushion just subtle queasiness, especially when thinking about the true crime connection to boot. 

Sadly, Falco left this plane on February 6th, 1998 after having a fatal auto collision in the Dominican Republic. But he got to leave behind a truly special thumbprint in the pop landscape of the 80’s. It’s sad to think of some of the crap that hit it big in the US while “Jeanny” was darkening up the European airwaves and dancefloors.

As for Jack Unterweger, perhaps one of the best lessons that one can learn from this is the importance of separating the art from the artists. Phil Spector is a genius that forever changed the soundscape of music but he is also an egomaniacal, abusive individual who murdered Lana Clarkson. Roman Polanski has made some of the best films in the past fifty years but he also drugged and raped a 13 year old girl. And yes, despite what the Modern Lovers claim, a lot of people called Pablo Picasso an asshole. Every human being on this planet is capable of great acts of kindness and beauty as well as total horror. Even the Nazis had loved ones and pets and there are no born monsters, just man-made ones. 

For more information about this case, check out Katherine Ramsland's, author of the excellent Piercing the Darkness, in-depth article here

Monday, April 12, 2010

Seltsame Soda !

Spring is here and we have another installment in the "long awaited" series of weird soda reviews. Your mouth is dry so let it be moistened with the cola flavored brew from the Sprecher Brewing company. Tonight's unique soda is the wonderfully titled Puma Kola. Enjoy!

Puma Kola

Description: An all natural “gourmet soda” that is fire-brewed in a gas-fueled kettle for “distinctive flavor and character.” A semi-healthy alternative to mainstream colas featuring a cute yet surprised looking black puma with big fangs. Yes and you too dear drinker will be surprised by the weird jungle bite of this drink.

Fun Facts: This soda features kola extract, real vanilla, pure honey, yucca extract and a pinch of cinnamon. Unfortunately it also has high fructose corn syrup, which is known, around these parts as giving you “el grande liver.” That said yucca extract is reputed to have some health benefits ranging from hair growth to relieving sore muscles. Who knew?

The Gist: Fancypants soda that offers you better ingredients than your average soda.

The Smell: Like a sweet but oh so slightly medicinal version of Coke.

The Taste: The initial reaction is cola but that is immediately followed by a partially potent sweet aftertaste. But it’s a thick kind of sweet, not unlike you get with artificial sweeteners though thankfully not as foul.

Overall: It’s all right and gets the job done if you are looking for a cola with a slight bite to it. Honestly, I didn’t care for the aftertaste and if I were going to go the Fructose route I would rather have a bottle of Bawls or a good old-fashioned coke.

2 ½ Worried looking Pumas out of 5

Monday, February 1, 2010

Death to False Vampires!

I’m a firm believer that one of the most pressing matters in our society today is the pussification of..well….everything. Playgrounds are totally kid-proofed, so gone are the days of big metal slides and swingsets, yet in a swift move of retardation, a lot of them have kept those wood chips that are fantastic for nasty splinters and eye gougings. But hey, at least you won’t have a bruised knee! Mainstream creative culture is massively guilty of this and no creature has been hit harder than the vampire.

Bela Lugosi in Tod Browning's 1931 classic, "Dracula."

The mythology and belief in the vampire, in all of its assorted forms, is ancient. In fact, the Greeks believed that having red hair was a symptom of vampirism. (Yes, we ginges have been discriminated against for a longass time.) The Lamia were believed to be women who wore snake skin and were used as a threat by parents to keep their kids in check. The lamia are even connected to Lilith, who was believed to be the biblical Adam’s first wife who was run off because of her unwillingness to submit to him. The Ewe people in West Africa believed that vampires could take the form of fireflies and specifically prey on their young. Now, is anyone going to use some glittery, metrosexual dandy to scare their hell spawn into cleaning their room? Hell no!

How did these creatures of the night go from being baby eating, blood slurping, vein eating, fanged, hideous monsters to Teen Beat fodder? While Twilight (2008) might seem like the obvious example, the direct root lies more with Anne Rice’s group of beautiful and tragic creatures. But at least Rice’s vampires had literal fangs and were halfway complex creatures capable of real villainy. (Except for Louis, who was a bonafide pussy that should have jumped into the sun before the second book was even published.) The vampire with human type fragility has popped up in great movies (Herzog’s 1978 remake of Murnau’s classic Nosferatu), underrated TV series (Forever Knight) and entertaining, though highly flawed films (Coppola’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula.)

The main cast of the vastly underrated "Forever Knight."

Truth be told, any Twilight hater out there could also probably blame Joss Whedon and the success of his shows, Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Angel. Of course, this can get a bit like the bible. Todd Browning’s Dracula (1931) begat Terrence Fisher’s The Horror of Dracula (1958) which begat Dan Curtis’s Dark Shadows (1966) which begat Forever Knight (1989) which ultimately begat Angel (1999), who was begat by Buffy The Vampire Slayer (1997). Yes, it can all make one’s head explode into a sanguine froth, but the creative arts in general are like this.

But you know who truly is to blame? It’s not Rice or Whedon, especially since both have done some good work and are capable of talent. It’s not even Stephenie Meyer, the creator of the Twilight books. Heck, seeing people, certainly kids, getting excited about reading is reassuring and gives writers like myself some hope. No, it’s the one-two punch of public demand and the major studios. The public needs to demand vampires with fangs and balls. If you want great cinema in general, then demand it because money talks. And for my money, one of the best vampire films in the past 20 years was the underrated Subspecies (1991).

Radu was charismatic and ghoulish. He had a heart but he also delighted in such wonderful activities as staking his own brother and then drinking his blood as it spurted out of his quickly decaying chest. Now that is a proper vampiric protaganist! Not to mention his striking physical appearance, with the long, spindly claw-like fingers of Nosferatu and the skin color and lanky hair of someone who has been in an eternal stasis of rot. It’s been noted that the hair and nails continue to grow post mortem, which is the visual effect you get with Radu. Having a highly talented Dutch actor in the form of Anders Hove doesn’t hurt any and he is able to give the monster a human side without sacrificing any of his nightmarish qualities, which is exactly how it should be.

Of course in this era of severe media retardation, ghouls don’t really sell that well to the libidos of adolescent girls or middle-aged women. Radu didn’t have six-pack abs nor was he some kind of sad panda-faced dandy. You can couple that with the character being in a low budget, independent film and it’s no surprise that people do not mention the name Radu next to wimps like Louis or any of the Twilight twinks. All that said, the Subspecies series does not get enough love. The first three films are highly recommended and really managed to blend the gothic imagery of the classics of vampire cinema with an old European world approach to the undead.

Radu, the main anti-hero from Full Moon's Subspecies series.

Which brings me to the aforementioned Bram Stoker’s Dracula. On one hand, it is visually lavish with one of the best cinematic scores courtesy of Polish composer Wojciech Kilar. Half of the cast are terrific, especially Tom Waits as the best Renfield this side of Dwight Frye and Klaus Kinski, the always dependable Richard E. Grant as Dr. Seward and Gary Oldman as the titular character. Despite the mention of Stoker in the title, this version is about as far removed from the classic piece of literature as the 1931 Lugosi film. Stoker was totally a creature of his environment and being a Victorian gentleman, the film’s romanticism and positive eroticism of the monster that is Dracula would have more than likely repelled him.

There is an underlying sensuality to the novel’s vampires, but it is a polluted one. Sexuality back then was something that was viewed as poisonous that if unbridled in any way could lead to disease and downfall. Some have theorized that the vampire is a metaphor for venereal disease and it is not a far out theory when dealing with this classic Victorian novel. Mina Harker is the prototype of the ideal Victorian woman, which makes Dracula attacking her all the more horrific, even if it is inadvertently dirty and sexual.

Coppola’s Mina is a winsome tart that is played horribly by Winona Ryder. She is to Mina what Kevin Costner was to Robin Hood. She looks lovely but was very ill suited acting ability wise for this character. This is especially obvious next to Sophie Ward’s Lucy, who is not only authentically British but actually has a natural warmth on screen. There’s nothing wrong with Mina having a sensuality to her but the problem is that Ryder is inherently an un-sexual performer. Peta Wilson had way more heat as a half-breed vampire version of Mina in League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003) and was more compelling to boot. Ryder is just too bland and underdeveloped. Why would a guy like Dracula be excited by her? Jonathon Harker maybe, especially when he is played by the equally thespian challenged Keanu Reeves, but not some powerful, supernatural creature like Dracula.

Keanu would do anything for love but he won't do that.

Speaking of Reeves, the whole scene with him and the three oversexed vampire brides has moments of unintentional hilariousness, especially when he starts screaming. It’s eerily similar to one’s half-baked roommate finding out that their dog ate the rest of their stash.

One of the most annoying things about Coppola’s retelling, though, is the whole “love never dies” ploy. Granted the romanticism has garnered it a lot of fans and with better writing and a better lead actress, it could have really worked. Oldman is fantastic as this haunted creature that is still at heart a lonely man. In fact, while there are things I absolutely love about this movie, it is often frustrating because of the promise it holds and yet doesn’t automatically deliver. Plus Stoker’s name never should have been added to the title. Seeing a bad actor get his nipple licked was probably never on Stoker’s agenda for his masterwork.

Eileen Daly as vampire hitwoman Lilith Silver in the cult classic Razorblade Smile.

One 90’s era vampire film that did deliver all the goods in spades was Jake West’s Razorblade Smile. It’s a helluva lot of fun and manages to balance the gothic trappings of the myth while incorporating bits of wit and Hollywood action film style violence. Eileen Daly stars as Lilith Silver, a raven-haired beauty who is a sexy assassin with a brain who is constantly trying to stave off boredom, whether it is having bloody lesbian sex or bumping off members of the Illuminati.

To properly cover all the great, flawed and horrible vampire films out there, one would and many have, written books about it. The undead in cinema has made circular progressions; going from monster to sexy monster to sexy romantic monster and back to monster all over again. Whether it is the bloodthirsty and captivating creatures from True Blood to the boy band twinkleness of the Twilight films, it will be interesting to see what the cinematic landscape holds for one of the oldest mythological creatures.

Bonus! My Personal Top 10 Favorite Vampires Films*

  1. Martin
  2. Subspecies 1, 2, and 3 (tie)
  3. Nosferatu (Murnau original)/Nosferatu (Herzog Remake) (tie)
  4. Near Dark
  5. Dracula (1931)
  6. Blood for Dracula
  7. Razorblade Smile
  8. Blood and Donuts
  9. Lips of Blood
  10. Fright Night

The amazing John Amplas in one of the best films to have come out in the past 50 years, George Romero's Martin.

*My opinion is known to change according to mood, the position of the moon and how much my memory is willing to behave. Some honorary mentions should go to Taste of Blood, anything Franco has done, House of Dark Shadows, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Dance of the Damned, Love at First Bite (I actually had a crush on Arte Johnson as a kid because of this movie), Sundown: the Vampire in Retreat, The Return of the Vampire, Rockabilly Vampire among many others.

The infamous Project:Vampire. The cover would be cool if this was really bad early 90's porn, which is an insult to really bad early 90's porn. Ugh.

My Personal Top 7 Worst Vampires Films Ever or How I Stopped Worrying and tried to be more discriminating.

  1. Project: Vampire
  2. Dracula 2000 (Good basic story idea horribly raped and mutilated by lazy filmmaking. Plus why does Dracula like Monster Magnet? Wouldn’t he be more into something genuinely good and dark, like Christian Death or Bauhaus? Kiss my ass! TM Whitney Houston)
  3. Witchcraft 7: Judgment Hour (Yes this is a vampire film and yes it is god-awful. It will make you hunger for the mise en scene of Night Eyes 2.
  4. Blade
  5. Queen of the Damned (Despite my snarking on dandies, I did enjoy “Interview with the Vampire” but this piece of simpy crap was terrible. Jonathon Davis??? Really??? Why did the production people hate Lestat that much?)
  6. It’s a Troma film that I dare not type its name because just doing so could possibly send me into that spicy mix of anger and narcolepsy. Have you ever tried flipping off the TV while sinking into uncontrollable slumber? I don’t recommend it and I refuse to give them any publicity.
  7. Subspecies 4 (While the first three are exceptional films, the fourth one is severely lacking with them neutering Radu and Ash, the Jonathon Morris character from Full Moon’s Vampire Journals (1997), being equally diminished. The crossover potential of characters was great but ended up being a huge let down.)