Friday, June 29, 2007

don't worry, Jenny is still wonderful!

okay, maybe I am bragging...

From: "John Landis"
Date: June 28, 2007 10:43:45 PM EDT (CA)
To: "Colin Geddes"
Subject: Re: XXX XXXXXX project

Colin - Great! I look forward to hearing from him. I just saw Jenny in London in the West End in the revival of EQUS, she's still wonderful. Onward and upward with the arts! - John

and we thought SHOCK WAVES was the best aqua nazi zombie film.

And the "Sticky Popcorn & Floors Award for The Best Trailer for a Movie That Doesn't Exist, but Could If They Finish The Script and Get a Producer" goes to:

(pssssst - follow this link to see the trailer)

David's so boss

Shit yeah!

Saturday, June 23, 2007


I recently took a small step up from all the other, lowly Navin Johnsons in the world and got my name secured in a second book and I wanted to tell you so that you'd know and also so that you could go and buy the book because it is quite something to behold and altogether too weighty for mere words.

It is...

Nightmare USA by Stephen Thrower

I answered an online request at FabPress (notified by my friend in posters, Armin) for advertising materials for certain films and they ended up using 16 or 17 posters that had to tripped over to the UK. And I got a free book back with them! And it's a signed copy! And to top it off, I am one of 6 singled-out thanks in the image acknowledgements section. For real! Check it out.

Here are some examples of what you'll joyously behold when you're reading about stuff like gore and sex and murder and dismembered heads...

So, get a copy and learn about underground exploitation/horror films from the golden era of American filth, just like me. I must admit to knowing little so I'm looking forward to my education in horror as I tend to favour the sex part of the sleaze recipe and now I see a long list of movies that need to be seen coming up in the near months.

And I'll gladly sign any copies that you bring to meetings with me and my handlers. Just let us know in advance, please.

Yours in particular,
Michael Greenwood

Thursday, June 21, 2007

It Rubs The Lotion On Its Skin

Old news for the web savvy, but saw a film (sorry, sworn to secrecy, but I will say that it was by the director of CHOPPER...) today with a cameo by Ted Levine aka Jame 'Buffalo Bill' Gumb and this came to mind. A catchy tune and great mashup vid by Greenskeepers...

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


Found this graphic in an issue of Variety from Cannes advertising a festival in Turin, Italy.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

The Bad Shepherd

Trailer for The Spook Who Sat By The Door (1973) - a pretty radical-looking bit of Blaxplo, courtesy of a major studio (United Artists) who abruptly yanked it out of the theatres three weeks after its release, not because it was a bomb (there were lines around the block in the inner cities) but allegedly due to FBI pressure that the film would spark race riots. Supressed ever since, it took Tim (WKRP) Reid to arrange the film's recent restoration and release on DVD. Can't wait to track a copy down for myself, because it looks awesome. Music by Herbie Hancock.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

The Smut Peddler

This is one of my favourite trailers ever.


At the risk of appearing to be the ultimate coattail riding blogger on the scene, I want to add my own little two-cents worth to the Curtis Harrington bit as there is an interesting point about film posters and marketing involving one of his films. I mean, I find it interesting anyway. ZZZZzzzz.....

So, when it came to selling Harrington's 1961 movie, Night Tide, the studio faced the, possibly profitable, fact that they would potentially be dealing with two distinct groups of moviegoers. First there would be the standard types who go to see supernatural thrillers/horrors and such and they could well be approached with a nice, garish poster promising thrills of their type as seen by the 'style A' one sheet here.

The other realistic faction of fans for the film would be those that had followed his earlier, more artsy work and his associations with Kenneth Anger and the movie-worlds' more avant-garde group of filmmakers. They were heralded into their cozy little arthouses with the much more beautiful and chilling 'style B' that we see here. A poster, I must add, that is much rarer (as well as just plain strikingly designed) than the alphabetically earlier style and therefore highly coveted in the collecting world and I was much pleased when I finally acquired mine for a reasonable sum. And it's mint, y'all.

Now, wasn't that a fascinating look into how movie advertising is created and stuff? I couldn't agree more.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Curtis Harrington RIP

From a friend of the blog, Dennis Bartok (a man whose wedding guest list included: noir actress Ann Savage, Max Rosenberg, producer of DR. TERROR'S HOUSE OF HORRORS, distributor Harry Novak (MANTIS IN LACE), actors Frederic Forrest (APOCALYPSE NOW), directors Richard Fleisher, Werner Herzog, Andre De Toth (HOUSE OF WAX!!!), Curtis Harrington, Monte Hellman, Joe Dante, Adam Rifkin, Val Guest and film critic Leonard Maltin), comes this reflection on the passing of Curtis Harrington this past May:

As many of you may have already heard, director Curtis Harrington passed away on Sunday at his home in the Hollywood Hills. Although Curtis had no children of his own, his extended “family” included dozens and dozens of filmmakers, authors, movie buffs, dancers, actors and just plain fascinating people who converged on his house at irregular intervals for one of Curtis’s famous salon-like parties. Curtis was an astonishingly sweet man – this may sound strange describing the director of such macabre treasures as NIGHT TIDE, GAMES, WHAT’S THE MATTER WITH HELEN? And THE KILLING KIND – but it’s true. There was a wonderful elegance and generosity of spirit about him – and also a wicked sense of humor and the absurd. Like his own home, his movies were filled with odd bric-a-brac (the severed hand in a jar in NIGHT TIDE, the sinister amusement machines in GAMES) and wonderful, eccentric characters – who could forget the surreal sight of dozens of little moppets training to be the next Shirley Temple in WHAT’S THE MATTER WITH HELEN?, or the great Agnes Moorehead as an evangelist in the same film. (Curtis’s parents had gone to see the real Sister Aimee back in L.A. in the 1930’s, and he loved repeating her famous admonition to her faithful: “I don’t want to hear the clink of coins – I only want to hear the rustle of DOLLAR BILLS - !”)

Curtis was a true lover of Los Angeles and a brilliant chronicler of its beauties and frailties, from his early experimental shorts such as the exquisite “Fragment of Seeking,” through the melancholy side-shows and desolate beaches of NIGHT TIDE, and on to the seedy Hollywood underbelly of HELEN?, surely one of the darkest portraits of this town ever put on film. Even his final film, USHER – with the unforgettable image of Curtis in drag as Madeline Usher (!) – is a twisted love letter of sorts to L.A.: it was filmed at Curtis’s house, and evokes a kind of “hidden strangeness” lurking behind the facades of those vine-covered Hollywood mansions. Curtis was a sweet man but he was also unflinchingly honest, in person and on film: he may have sympathy for Ann Sothern’s tyrannical mom in KILLING KIND, or Shelley Winters’s hopeless, pathetic Helen Hill in HELEN? – but he understands that they’re monsters, true monsters of a very human kind, and that’s part of what makes them so haunting.

Curtis was a devoted film-lover and movie-goer, endlessly curious about what other filmmakers were doing here and around the world. He was a familiar sight at screenings at the American Cinematheque, UCLA Film & TV Archive, the NuArt and many other venues around town. He also took great pride in his work as a film scholar and writer in the 1950’s: he wrote some of the first serious articles on James Whale, director of BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN, and became Whale’s friend and supporter at a time when the great director was almost completely forgotten by the industry. Curtis was instrumental in helping to save one of Whale’s finest films, THE OLD DARK HOUSE, from being lost forever: he discovered that there was one decent lavender print of the film, neglected and forgotten, and insisted that protection copies of it be made and sent to several archives. He also remembered and mourned the movies he’d seen in his younger days that are now vanished: Curtis wrote the first monograph on the films of Josef von Sternberg, and clearly recalled seeing a now-lost film of his, probably THE CASE OF LENA SMITH, in a nitrate print at Paramount in the late 1940’s.

Curtis and I had lunch a few months ago on the Sunset Strip. We sat there, surrounded by beautiful young things in insect-shades and artfully-ripped jeans – today’s equivalent of the Shirley Temple wanna-bes in HELEN?, I guess – and Curtis shared stories of old Hollywood … Of his friend Jean Howard, ex-wife of Charlie Feldman and thrower of fabulous parties in the 1940’s and 50’s… Of visiting Marlene Dietrich in Vegas after her cabaret act (he’d desperately wanted Dietrich for GAMES but the head of Universal replied “Dietrich?? Nobody remembers her!” and insisted he hire Simone Signoret instead … And then the conversation side-tracked to Signoret, who Curtis had invited to a screening of TERROR AT TINY TOWN – she stood up halfway through the movie and launched into a Leftist tirade about the exploitation of the midgets in the movie and then stormed out … That was how it was talking with Curtis: so many stories, so many hidden doorways with wonderful, eccentric people behind them.

We love you and we’ll miss you, Curtis.

lets get back on track...

What does Global's tv programming have to do with paying the rent on this rundown little light box? Now advertising a "Female Explosion" will get them lined up around the block! And check out the "video tape" action that Cinema 2000 has got going on! And they somehow bypassed the Ontario Censor Board! (From Toronto, circa 1975)

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Night Walk

Back in the eighties, the Global Television Network had an ingenious idea to run 24 hour programming that wasn't an all-night Christian call-in show or a series of infomercials (that would come later), while also saving money on syndication acquisitions. They ran a three hour block of programs called Night Walk, Night Ride and Night Moves - super smooth Clint Eastwood-end-credits jazz (but Canadian! Featuring Guido Basso!) playing over steadicam footage of the empty Toronto streets. When we all saw it for the first time we were at a party - we were convinced it was airing live and were trying to pinpoint their coordinates and general direction so as to jump in a cab and intercept the broadcast.

Night Moves
was by my recall the more experimental of the three but only visually; sometimes there they would show the footage in slow motion or backwards. Either that or I was hammered every time I came home and flipped it on.

There was only one episode of each and Global ran them all night every night well into the nineties. To see it again now is to get even more bitter about the continuing Fifth-Elementization of downtown. We had it good....

Greenwood, you in particular are going to lose your shit on this one - you will want them to invent that Brainstorm machine pronto. This clip has been specially edited to highlight record store row. And Tough Enough at the Rio!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Be Afraid of The Dark

It's that scary-trailer-voice-guy from the seventies! It's William Devane slouched in a Corvette looking like Michael Douglas and talking like Willem Dafoe! It's lasers coming out of eyeballs! It's... The Dark (1979)!

Saturday, June 09, 2007

More dusty old things to keep

And just to update again on the demise of the institution I love. Oddly, last Saturday after posting here, I went for a quick bike ride and then remembered that I had received a message that the library had been given some of the 'types of films you like' and that I was to jump in a grab what I wanted before the unwashed masses could sticky them up. This means film films and this batch were on 8 mm and it's hard to discern just what they are but they look like the belongings of an oldies fan. Something about Chaplin, Pickford and Laurel & Hardy as well as one that has the label designated as 150th Anniversary of Steam, Grand Prix and British Monaco South Africa. So, who knows?

But the real baby and piece that made me wonder in a drifty way for a second (the one librarian's daughter giving smiles in big sunglasses helped) was this box of audio tape which I quickly secured and pushed into the 'take' pile.

It's so old it has the original telephone exchange! Anyway, it made my day and I have no way of knowing if it is blank or what the deal is. The leader bears no markings and there is the handwritten word 'French' inside the box. C'est la vie.

Friday, June 08, 2007

There's A Rainbow In Toronto....

It's not Goin' Down The Road, but it's pretty close. Presenting Sam's in all its glory, as seen on SCTV!

Bonus beats: The RIO!

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Saturday, June 02, 2007

A requiem

By now, all those in the Toronto area have heard the (depending on where you feel from) terrible news that the long-standing Yonge Street fixture of neon and Canadianism, Sam The Record Man, will be closing at the end of June due to ongoing financial crises not limited to just online shopping.

I'll take my chances being off topic here but as a music nut who loves movies, I have to affix the same emotions to this building as those who knew so well all the way-gone cinemas of Toronto's yesterday. Trips downtown from out-of-town and just downtown when living there were always, at some point, moved to the confines of the store as well as Cheapies, which we hit through high school because they had the best prices. Back when local townie Dave Holden worked at Sam's on Saturdays (free tickets to the Dead Milkmen!) and the walls and ceiling were covered with the autographs and 8 X 10s of the famous and briefly known. The original skinny store (before the sideways growth) and the chief competition (A & A) right next door with an equally cool frontage. Those were the days, my friend. Gavin and I could hop down, grab a cocktail, do a quick Lenny and Squiggy to passing treats and I could get some records at either, although I sometimes favoured the latter due to Nadine giving me staff prices. Apart from the other lesser sellers on the strip, you could hit Sam's and A & A and Record Peddler (Carlton or Yonge...even Queen East, if you hustled) all within a good forty-five minutes to an hour or so of shopping on foot! And that included a brief jump into Flash Jack's as well! When I took the bus back and forth, it was always there for a casual pre or post-ride browse (and normally a buy) along with the World's Biggest Book Store. I even found some stuff there that was basically out of print but still in the bin. Hello Scott Walker's 'Climate Of Hunter' and the 'Cookie Puss' cd single! Also, I don't think there are many who carry and champion such items as Glenn Gould's Solitude Trilogy which I happily bought at Sam's in a well stocked Gould bin.

I watched the rapid growth of the compact disc via Sam's. The removal of the opening space of racks of vinyl and the bins. The difficulty in getting anything on record seemingly instant, although it did take a couple years, and my willingness to adapt and then my eventual return to my vinyl first love years later. And I guess I am partly to blame with my widening and more obscure tastes leading me away from downtown, commercial sellers and into the indies in the neighbourhoods where I troll and online where it was all ready to be shipped if you could beat/stand customs.

Sam Sniderman was a tireless supporter of Canadian artists and afforded them the luxury of being on display alongside the bigger and better selling international stars of any era, but especially in the 60s and 70s, I believe. For that reason alone, I was a stalwart supporter of the shop and would spend more on something at Sam's rather than buy at HMV in the same way that I tend to disregard big stores on any and all possible occasions and support the heart of retail instead. Plus, Sam's staff tended to be cooler. The hipsters worked elsewhere and some knowledge walked the floor at 347 Yonge. Don't get me wrong, there were good staff at other places too, but I was built-in ready to find fault there. He also had a large part in helping develop Canadian Content regulations but this is a tough one to champion, depending on your feelings. Yes, it gets Canadian artists on the radio and helps stem the tide of American cultural smothering but it also tends to help those that help bigger companies make money and that is why I change the station when I hear another goddamned Guess Who song or whatever and rarely got to listen to the Rheostatics or Change Of Heart or any similarly minded bands of today on commerical radio although CFNY was as close as we could get back in the early days of Brampton. The oldies format and CanCon does have it's payoffs in the Poppy Family, Rush and Pagliaro though.

With my ever-growing deposits of sickly sentimentalism on board, I am not looking forward to my final walk in and out of the store and the removal of it's sign (cliche, I know but a big deal here) from the strip that I disregard so much these days. It is going to be very, very sad for the music lover in me who always left that shop happy whether armed with records or not. How could you not?