Twitch of the Death Nerve

Our Movie of the Week went under many different titles when released in 1971, including Bay of Blood, Carnage, Chain Reaction and Last House on the Left Part 2. Director Mario Bava broke tradition, both of with his own oeuvre and with film in general, by showing a string of gruesome murders with little buildup of suspense, making for a movie that disturbs in its seeming indifference to the well-being of its characters. Hardly anything like this had been done before, and wouldn't be again until, maybe, the release of Friday the 13th many years later. In fact, many of the set pieces in 'Friday' are lifted directly from this film. Not on DVD, so see it here while it lasts.

Here's a gorgeous trailer for its original American release, done entirely in duotone and solarized film:

Trailer Trash: Bad Girls

This was in my 'recommended for you' page on youtube, for some reason.


Enter the Mainframe

In case you're interested in what "Ram Plus to mega charge your (Atari) VCS for three times the excitement" looks like, here you go:


Saturday Morning Stupor: Electra Woman and Dyna Girl vs. Glitter Rock

Hey look, The King of Touremburg is played by "Lance Rock" from my number one favorite movie, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. And now I know where Electra and Dyna's secret hideout is located; that's Bronson Canyon out here in Griffith Park, a.k.a The Batcave.


Sounds of Earthquake Tower

Things were different in the mid-70's. Before Star Wars, the disaster-themed movies of Irwin Allen were the closest thing to action films in the theaters.

Here's the 45 record that came with the playset, to really spark the imagination. Listen to that score, sounding like a serial from the 30's, playing on an endless tape loop while chaos reigns supreme in the foreground.

(thanks to plaidstallions.com)


Movie of the Week: Chained Heat

It's the 1983 Women-in-Prison Classic, starring Linda Blair, Sybil Danning, John Vernon and even Stella Stevens.

Still not on home video, and still getting pulled shortly after it shows up on youtube on a regular basis. In fact, I just checked all nine parts, and part seven has already been intercepted. But the rest are still available, so catch it while you can.


The Chicago Picasso

The Chicago Picasso was unveiled in Summer of 1967, two years before I was born. My dad (1931 - 2005) wrote this poem at the time. He wasn't a big fan of modern art.

Upon First Seeing the Chicago Picasso

The jagged steel lacerates the sky
And shocks the sight of all who gaze upon
The blank, dumb face and stark, ugly form
The puzzled crowds mill 'round the ungainly beast
Awaiting revelation, as if this
Repulsive figure had a tale to tell
Some cryptic meaning they cannot perceive.

Some say a horse, while others feel a bird
Is represented here; still others think
A woman's form is what the sculptor meant.
And thus they stand in reverential awe
Convinced that it's a newfound deity
Then a shrill voice (that only poets hear)
Comes shrieking through the still-dumbfounded crowd:

CALL ME MEDEA. Let it be proclaimed
That I have roamed from time immemorial
Condemned to never rest until I've found
A habitat conducive to my soul.

I was banished from my native land
(for evil was not honored at that time)
When I betrayed my father and then brought
Unto my lover Jason agony and sadness
For I killed our children when I learned
That Jason's love had been untrue.
Then, as the poet wrote, my tale being done,
I quick ascended on a fiery steed.
Heaven would not have me, so I roam
These thousand years until I find a home.

And thus have I descended here today!
For I have found your hearts akin to mine
You betrayed your founding fathers when
You advocated war in Vietnam
Though Jesus, God of Love, was not untrue
You brought agony to his heart
By bloodying the mud of Vietnam
And, just as I, you kill your own children
You dispatch them to their doom in Vietnam.

Now I am fit to reign supreme,
The pagan saint of all you idolize:
Deceit, Betrayal, Murder, these you adore;
This is in your hearts, so worship here.
The hideousness that now disturbs your sight
Is but your heart's corruption brought to light.

- J.D. Bell

Slithis 3

An unexpected improvisation in Clark S. Nova's shack, using just his own equipment. I'm doing a Martin Rev impression on the rhythm machine, string synth and rhodes piano, with Clark playing analog synth and circuitry.


Trailer Trash: Shakma

(hat tip to J. Furmanski)


Linnea Quigley's Horror Workout

This afternoon, we waited in line at the entrance to Monsterpalooza for over an hour before giving up and going home. But I went last year, and the combination of horror geekery, independent film industry people and the San Fernando Valley location makes this video the next best thing.

Movie of the Week: Tuff Turf

Saturday Morning Cartoon: Revolt in the Fifth Dimension

Smoke some Salvia Divinorum if you have it, 'cause here's the infamous Spider-Man episode that ABC never aired a second time, most likely because it's a terrifying drug-soaked phantasmagoria.

Much of the artwork and voice tracks were re-used from an episode of Rocket Robin Hood, which was produced by the same animation studio. The experimental music was a track titled "LSD", licensed from the KPM music library. This and more Spider-Man library music can be listened to here on a Futurechimp playlist.


Griffy's Top 40

The following is excerpted from artist Bill Griffith's 40 tips for comics creators. As I was unable to find this as anything but in JPEG form online, I've typed out just a few of them. But you can read the rest here.

Occasionally I put parenthesis around words to show that they're interchangeable with "writing", "music", "photography", "video", "blogging", "sculpture" or whatever you do.

It can take years to find the right art supplies.

It can take years to find something to write about.

Punchlines are optional. They can also come anywhere in a story.

The best laugh is the one the reader has been unknowingly waiting for.

(Cartoon characters) have souls.

Rhythm is everything: the pacing of drawing, punchline and especially the "beat" of dialogue. Something can be truer or funnier if it's told with the right rhythm. "The right rhythm" is the one that just sounds best when you "hear" it being spoken.

The cartoonist is an auteur movie director. You write the strip, you cast it, you light it, you edit it, you have final cut. Problem is, you don't control distribution. You need a publisher for that.

When starting out, try to get in (print) as quickly as possible. Seeing your work in (print) is tremendously educational. All your mistakes leap out. Educational, but painful.

If your interest is in "real world" detail, keep a "morgue" (a file of photos of people, objects, landscapes, etc.) Take photos of things and people yourself, too. Remember, Google is your quickest image and data source assistant.

Camera angles are important. Move around the panel as you draw the story, looking at the same scene from different distances and angles. Use wide shots, one-shots (character alone in a panel), close-ups, dream sequences, surrealism, expressionism.

Disney is great - to make fun of.

Never send original art through the mail. Copy machines and high-rez scanners make perfect reproductions for sending purposes, through mail or online. Always keep copies of your stuff if you sell or give away the original art.

When you sell, tell the buyer they have no reproduction rights.

Don't think of the (readers) when you make your (comics). Please yourself and a few of your friends, and hope for the best.

Don't reach all the way out to the (reader) - don't worry about being obscure or ambiguous - if you're sure of what you're doing, ask the (reader) to meet you halfway.

Create a website. Print your website address somewhere in all of your work. Sell stuff through your website. Cut out the middleman.

Sitting at a (drawing) table for 37 years can be hard on the neck and upper back. Get up every half hour and stretch. Do neck and upper back stretching exercises every day as you get older.

Don't just look at (comics) for inspiration and education. Look at great drawing wherever it appears. I love to stare at: Reginald Marsh, Edward Hopper, Rembrandt's etchings, Callot's etchings, Thomas Rowlandson, Lucian Freud, Albrecht Durer, Alberto Giacometti, Rene Magritte, Jose Guadelupe Posada, Hiroshige and Hokusai.

Last but not least: Never listen to anyone else's advice on (cartooning).

Saturday Morning Stooges: "I'll Never Heil Again"


Movie of the Week: Alligator

It's on netflix, but this youtube version is nice quality and divided up into a mere six chapters. This is what a creature feature should be; thrilling, fast-paced and funny. Universally loved by all, critics and Joe Blows alike. Wikipedia sez:

While the film is both low-budget and derivative of the formula established by the 1975 film Jaws, it has regularly received praise from critics for its (intentional) satirizing and wit, lack of pretension, and the performances of the human stars. Vincent Canby of the New York Times praised the film, saying, "The film's suspense is frequently as genuine as its wit and its fond awareness of the clich├ęs it's using."

Screenwriter John Sayles also penned "Piranha" and "The Howling". With "Alligator", that makes for a trifecta of enjoyable horror films if there ever was one. Listen closely to his dialogue to pick up on film and TV references. And when the Alligator finally shows itself, it's an extremely impressive animatronic. Unlike CGI monsters, it has real screen presence and star power.