NEAR DARK (1987) / JENNIFER’S BODY (2009)

neardark:jennbodymarquee
Near Dark, and Jennifer’s Body double feature at the New Beverly. Photo: Matt Average

NEAR DARK (1987) 

Director: Kathryn Bigelow

Starring: Adrian Pasadar, Jenny Wright, Bill Paxton, Lance Henriksen 

JENNIFER’S BODY (2009)

Director: Karyn Kusama

Starring: Amanda Seyfried, Megan Fox, Adam Brody, Amy Sedaris, J.K. Simmons

Played to a sold out crowd at the New Beverly on May 4, 2019. 

BLOOD AND LACE (1971)

BLOOD AND LACE (1971)

Director: Philip S. Gilbert

Starring: Gloria Grahame, Melody Patterson, Len Lesser, Milton Selzer, Vic Tayback

Shout! Factory DVD/Blu-Ray

bloodandlace

Do not confuse this movie with the stylish slasher Blood and Black Lace from Mario Bava (reviewed elsewhere by Nate Wilson). There is nothing stylish about Blood and Lace at all. It’s very straight forward in being a movie that’s not afraid of getting down and wallowing in the muck with child abuse, lecherous men, and murder. Broken adults lording power over damaged young people, and reveling in destroying any potential of a future all for a paycheck.

The movie begins with a POV shot of the killer holding a claw hammer walking through a suburban home at night. Upon entering the bedroom of a sleeping middle aged couple the claw end of that hammer is put to use bashing their heads in before setting fire to the place. We then hear a scream, and we’re now in the hospital with Ellie Masters (Melody Patterson, F Troop, The Cycle Savages) waking from a nightmare. The murdered woman was her mother with a lover. She tells Harold Mullins (Milton Selzer), the social worker who’s getting her ready for placement in the Deere Home that she’s wanting to find her real father. In the course of the conversation it’s revealed that her mother was the town floozie, before turing professional, and “every drifter, traveling salesman and school boy over 16 knew my mother.” An interesting note about this scene is that Ellie is voiced by June Foray, the voice of Rocky from the Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoon series which adds another somewhat creepy level to this movie. She feels she has no need to go to the Deere Home, but Harold points out that whoever murdered her mother is still free and may be coming after her.

In the heat of the moment, and against court orders, Ellie leaves the hospital with suit case in hand and heads out, walking along the train tracks in hopes of finding her father. Not even a mile into the journey she meets Calvin Caruthers (Vic Tayback – Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, and Mel Sharples of Alice fame), former employee of the Bijou Theater, and now a detective for the county sheriff. His deep interest in Ellie is a bit strange and borders on creepy. It’s during a conversation with Harold Mullins in a bar, he’s asked why he has such an intense interest in Ellie, he says when men get to be his age “you start sniffing around for some good breeding stock.”

Harold delivers Ellie to the Deere Youth Home where it’s obvious it’s not a place safe for anyone, no matter their age. Our first introduction to the home is when a teen attempts escape and is chased by the alcoholic handyman Tom Kredge (Len Lesser, Shack Out on 101, Truck Stop Women, and best known as Uncle Leo from Seinfeld). The frightened teen foolishly attempts to hide behind a tree when one of his hands is chopped off by the meat cleaver thrown by Tom. This is also the most graphic scene in the film, and sets us up for the insanity that lays in store.

The Deere Youth Home is run by Mrs. Deere (Gloria Grahame, It’s a Wonderful Life, The Todd Killings, Mama’s Dirty Girls), who is cold hearted and manipulative to the core. She runs the home like a prison camp, reminding the kids that if they don’t work they won’t be around much longer, and she’s always ready to slap any of them for the slightest of what she sees as transgressions towards her authoritarian rule. She’s someone you want to see get her comeuppannce. With the help of Tom she keeps the corpses of all the dead children in a meat locker in the basement to later be placed in the infirmary when county officials drop in for headcount. Harold, the world’s sleaziest social worker, is well aware that Mrs. Deere runs a crooked operation, but looks the other way with the promise of sex as part of the unspoken agreement.

There’s some great dialog throughout the movie, such as when Ellie is looking to escape, and lecherous Tom says he will show her how only if she does something for him. He pulls a bottle out of his back pocket, leans into her face and growls, “The way to escape? Whisky!” and begins groping her. There’s also the the conversation between Ellie and Walter (Ron Taft) the orphanage heart throb (read that back, yes, such a thing exists in a movie like this), when he tells her to give up on trying to find her real father, “The only thing she ever said was the first man that ever made love to her got her pregnant and ruined her figure. The only feelings she ever had for me was blame!”. You have to love the exchange between her and Bunch (Terri Messina) as they fight on the bed:

Bunch: Tell us about your mother!

Ellie: We don’t know anything about yours, except that she has four legs and barks!

A disfigured man with a claw hammer finally shows up at the orphanage for the final act and brings this to a close with some light violence. But none of that is as good as what happens at the very end. While not tilting into full on sleaze due to the lack of nudity, sex and excessive graphic violence, Blood and Lace does deliver on the shocks promised in the poster art. This is worth repeated viewing, especially the second or third time where the movie becomes even more interesting and slimy when you know how this all ends up. (MA)

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Nate Wilson: NW  Devon Cahill: DC  Heath Row: HR  Matt Average: MA

SLEEP Live at Third Man 4 x 12″ box set

Sleep – Live At Third Man Records 4×12” Box Set

Released in March of 2019

Third Man Records

Sleep box set

For those living under a rock for the last couple of decades Sleep is a three piece stoner rock/doom band who worship the almighty Black Sabbath.   I, like many folks, am a huge fan, and pretty much like and own their entire discography.  

From the get go upon hearing of this release I some how got it in my head deciding that I wasn’t going to order/buy this because it was ridiculously expensive and gimmicky (a club edition).  It seemed like a cash grab to me.  From the moment I heard about it I just wanted to hate it.  Four records, all different colored wax (Blue, Green, Purple, and Orange).  Locked grooves… packaged in a box jacket,  live songs recorded at Jack White’s venue in Nashville.  It all just seemed like utter nonsense.  Like a RSD product that nobody needs.  

Well I did not buy it as I previously said but I managed to get a copy to review.  I immediately fell in love with it.  This, of course, after a build up of me wanting to hate it for months and months.  I went into this thinking it was going to somehow suck.  It doesn’t suck, its very well done.

The reality is that it’s so beautifully put together that its hard not to just spend time looking at every aspect of the packaging and being mesmerized by the quality of the product as the music pounds through your speakers.  

Sleep box set details

The recording is straight up dope.  I’ve seen them live and this sounds like being in a room with them while they mosey through their set.  I cranked this while doing late night mailorder, and immediately had my wife came down stairs and reminded me that we had a sleeping baby in the house.  Uh-oh!!  

The sound quality is killer.  It was recorded in front of a bunch of dirt heads.  They used a direct-to-acetate system and then mixed/mastered in real-time.  I don’t fully understand what all that means, but it is pretty insane sounding.  

At any rate I don’t think this is a necessary part of their discography that one needs to own.  After a few listens I’d guess I’d become fairly lazy with being able to get the right records back into the right sleeves, and into the box.  It seems like a lot of work to basically listen to one or two songs per side, flip it over and then go through the same process over again through all 4 records.  

The tunes…

A
Leagues Beneath 

B
Dopesmoker (Part One) 

C1
Dopesmoker (Part Two) 

C2
Holy Mountain 

D1
The Clarity 

D2
Aquarian 

E
Sonic Titan 

F1
Marijuanaut’s Theme 

F2
Giza Butler 

G1
The Botanist 

G2
Dragonaut

(NW)

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Justin Dratson: JD   Nate Wilson: NW   Matt Average: MA

THE HIRED HAND (1971)

THE HIRED HAND (1971)

Director: Peter Fonda

Staring:  Peter Fonda, Warren Oates, Verna Bloom

Viewed On Starz

Great Transfer

hiredhand

This is not your typical run of the mill Western.  There is so much more going on here.  If you are like me and just looking for another killer spaghetti Western this one probably isn’t for you.  The film starts off slow but there is still some violence that creeps in, some of it is sort of shocking, but it’s not done gratuitously, and it happens between a more complex story (for a Western of this time period).  Everything about this is different then most the Westerns that come out during this period.  The film is artsy in a way that is hard for me to explain.  

The cinematography with the slow dissolves, Fonda’s eye for every single detail is pretty amazing as a director/actor. The dialog is just perfect.  The shooting locations are great and look beautiful and are totally believable.  Fonda’s character “Harry” speaks plainly and rarely.  To me he looks a lot like a young Clint Eastwood with his scruff and cold demeanor.  

This is another “buddy” flick in which Fonda and Warren Oats are companions who have traveled the west for seven years together.  Fonda decides its time to return home to his wife and child who he had walked out on seven years prior.   He brings along his buddy “Arch” played by Warren Oats.  Oats in my opinion steals the show.  He’s completely lovable and a great actor who never really got his due.  Unfortunately he died in 1982 at 53 of a heart attack.  

This film isn’t just a western.  It’s a story about love, commitment and yup….revenge. It’s sad and brutal.   I can’t express enough how much I enjoyed this one.  It’s one that I somehow kept avoiding forever because it wasn’t on my radar as the type of gunslinger movie I usually enjoy. Don’t sleep on this like I did.  It’s a true American masterpiece. (NW)

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Nate Wilson: NW  Devon Cahill: DC  Heath Row: HR  Matt Average: MA

THE EYES OF LAURA MARS (1978)

THE EYES OF LAURA MARS (1978)

Director: Irvin Kershner

Starring: Faye Dunaway, Tommy Lee Jones,  Brad Dourif

Viewed On Amazon Prime

Great Transfer

eyesoflaura

Well I was hoping that this was going to be a terrifying movie.  It was indeed a terrifyingly corny movie.  Faye Dunaway plays Laura Mars, a fashion photographer, who for some reason has the ability to see the murders of her friends and colleagues as they are happening in NYC.  A very young Tommy Lee Jones plays a cop who is investigating the slaughters.  The murderer uses a ice pick to the eye to pick off the victims.  Unfortunately its not gruesome, or even scary.  It blows my mind that two years later the director would direct The Empire Strikes Back.  

My buddy Mark told me that apparently John Carpenter was the original writer, and was kicked off of the film.  Apparently he wrote the original screenplay but it underwent heavy rewrites (mainly by (David Zelag Goodman) because they didn’t trust him.  As Mark said “Imagine if he got to make the film he envisioned?”  Mark is probably right.  This predates Halloween.  All he’d done up until then was Dark Star and Assault On Precinct 13.  I can honestly say the best thing about this is a scene where Faye is driving around frantically in a fucking Pacer. A Pacer!! I got a chuckle out of that.  (NW)

PS: The theme song is horrid.  

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Nate Wilson: NW  Devon Cahill: DC  Heath Row: HR  Matt Average: MA

ISOTOPE SOAP Monitored by Zu Tze 12″

ISOTOPE SOAP – Monitored By Zu Tze (17 track 12″, played at 45 nonetheless)

Compilation of two EPs and a 12″ EP

Available through Emotional Response Records

isotopesoap

I should start by saying that I pick up everything that Emotional Response Records puts out. Jen and Stew, in my opinion, have created a label that doesn’t follow a particular sound but rather a level of creativity and freshness. I blindly order everything they put out.  Sometimes it’s hardcore (Lögnhalsmottagningen), or twee (Ginnels), or an incredible comp (Typical Girls Vol 1-4) or even an odd recently discovered tape of some 70s punk bloke doing Beat poetry over a kazoo and a person making animal noises (not joking, I think I have a record like that they put out). The short of it is that they don’t get stuck in a genre so I know what comes inside the package is something that I won’t expect.  And, to be clear, I’m not grizzled, grumpy, jaded, etc., I buy new records by new bands almost weekly. However, it does take something unique to pique my ears and this Isotope Soap 12 inch does that perfectly. This record is frightening. It could as easily be aliens on meth or a Scandinavian teenage cult. It pulls on ropes of early Devo and then goes sideways into swirling keyboard mayhem. Everything about this is challenging in all the right ways. I’m continually fascinated with people that can create such oddball amazing things without sounding contrived but rather compelled to create this chaos.

When I put the needle down on side one, I jumped as the frantic pace of disjointed keyboards, and straight ahead fast drums hit me square in the face. Before I could flip the sleeve over to read the name of the song, “Pussy Riding Cowboy Buddhas”, it was over in 39 seconds.

Seventeen songs clocking in at under 22 minutes and ranging in length from 33 seconds to under 3 minutes.  

Six songs in, I was just getting used to their structure and direction, I thought I’d figured these guys out and then I’m hit with “Magnetic Abortion of a Black Hole”. I’m terrified once more. The vocals are working some creepy pitch shift machine and by the time the song was over I thought I was in a dark torture movie and was about to be kidnapped.

“The WOW! Signal”, track 9, would have to be the most familiar song but only because I’ve been listening to a lot of Tones on Tail lately and this could be an instrumental B-side on one of their 12 inches. But that is it.  Just a 2:48 long song sorta sounds like a dark post punk instrumental band from of the 80s and no other comparison. Oh, also the Feederz.  Something about this is Feederz-ish, maybe not so much in sound but for the call to chaos.

The people that are in this band have done a decent job of hiding their identity. I have searched and found that there is a connection with the mid 80s band Raped Teenagers, Pusrad and I’m sure a bunch of others. Here’s the thing, I don’t think they kept their names off it because they are embarrassed. I think they kept their names off of it because they don’t want to be named as a co-conspirator when world starts to crumble.

 Hit the link at the top to check it out or just grab one while you still can.

1.      Pussy Riding Cowboy Buddhas

2.      Frontal Disorder Post Mental Border

3.      Hate

4.      Fancy Inbred Humans

5.      Circle Jerk

6.      Magnetic Abortion Of A Black Hole

7.      Dad Attack

8.      High One Wildlife

9.      The Wow! Signal

10.  I Saved You From Jesus

11.  Reversed Big Bang

12.  The Roof

13.  Human Invasion

14.  Trump Des Willens

15.  Pinata Chaos

16.  Radiated Head

17.  Emdrive Thruster

 (JD)

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Justin Dratson: JD   Nate Wilson: NW   Matt Average: MA