Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Rogue set visit

No sooner as I'm back and I'm heading back to Melbourne to visit the set of Greg McLean's Rogue. McLean's previous film, the awesome Wolf Creek was a huge hit and hopes are high for his latest, all we know at present is the brief plot outline on IMDB, An American journalist on assignment in the Australian outback encounters a man-eating crocodile. Rogue stars Wolf Creek bad guy John Jarrat, Melinda and Melinda star Rhada Mitchell and Sam Worthington.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Real Horrorshow

It’s shaping up to be a very busy end of the year. Whilst in Melbourne as well as witnessing Ra Choi’s victory at the AGWIE’s I attended the press launch and gala opening of Stanley Kubrick - Inside the Mind of a Visionary Filmmaker. The exhibition is awe inspiring; items on display include Alex’s cane from A Clockwork Orange, ape costumes, space suits and the Starchild from 2001: A Space Odyssey, the typewriter and the axe from The Shining, costumes from Spartacus and Barry Lyndon and Tom Cruise's venetian mask from Eyes Wide Shut, the list is endless. We even get to see the great directors research work for his two great unmade films; Napoleon and The Aryan Papers. His library on Napoleon is the biggest in the world. With over 1000 artefacts on display you do indeed feel like you are walking through film history. If any readers can get to Melbourne before the end of January I heartily recommend you pay ACMI a visit. Malcolm McDowell was a warm and funny interviewee; the enthusiasm in which he still talks about A Clockwork Orange and Kubrick was a pleasure to hear. A Big thank you to Justin Rogers at ACMI for arranging everything.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a WINNER!

In a piece of Fantastic news, Ra Choi, against all the odds, beat Cate Blanchett's Little Fish, Three Dollars and the AFI winning Look Both Ways to win the BEST FEATURE FILM award at the AWGIE awards. Congratulations to writer, director and producer Michael Frank, Associate Producer Milli Howson and the rest of the cast and crew.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

RA CHOI preview screening tonight

Just a reminder to all those in the Sydney area that the first preview screening of RA CHOI - Coming Out to Play is taking place tonight at Film Australia in Lindfield. The screening is at 7:15 and anyone interested in attending should email me at RA CHOI has been nominated for best film at the Australian Writers Guild awards; the AWGIE'S will be handed out on Friday 25th November.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Viddy well my brother

I'll be heading to Melbourne on November 23rd to cover the opening of the Australian Centre for the Movie Image's Stanley Kubrick inside the mind of a visionary filmmaker exhibition. It promises to be an unmissable event featuring over 1000 props, posters and models spanning his entire career. I'll be interviewing Kubrick's wife Christiane along with Jan Harlan; producer of Eyes Wide Shut, The Shining and Full Metal Jacket, and the star of A Clockwork Orange Malcom McDowell. My coverage of the event will appear in a forthcoming issue of Cinema Retro. I'll also be doing a retrospective piece to mark the 35th Anniversay of A Clockwork Orange for Film Review next year. I'll be making a report on this site soon so keep posted.

In further news my interview with Tura Satana, the star of Russ Meyer's Faster Pussycat Kill! Kill! will be appearing in next months Filmink along with my delayed interview wth Bob Clark, the man who directed Black Christmas and Porky's. Joining my semi-regular DVD Down Under column in DVD World I will also be doing a regular Vox Pops piece from various Sydney cinemas for Film Review magazine. In more magazine news I'll soon be contributing to a new magazine Smoke and Mirrors. An Australian publication, the magazine will cover movie special effects and make-up and is aimed at both industry and movie goers alike. I'm very excited to be part of Smoke and Mirrors at such an early stage and look forward to telling you more, the first issue will be published in February 2006.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Dance Dance Dance

I'll be appearing on Eastside 89.7 FM's Between the Covers review programme again tomorrow (November 8th) at 11:30am. I'll be passing my judgement on Haruki Murakami's Dance Dance Dance.

For those who want to here my voice online; check out and look for the Australian music special for my views on whats happening with the music scene in Sydney as I join the shows host Marenco Kemp for an informal look at Aussie rock. For anyone interested in the independent side of music you could do a lot worse than check out Marenco's site, its a fantastic mix of obscure music, forthright views and a great way to keep abreast of the everchanging world of podcasts.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Ra Choi Preview Screening

The debut feature by M Frank RaChoi (Coming Out to Play) will be given its first screening on November 17th 2005. The cast and crew preview, screening at Film Australia, Lindfield, Sydney will also take place to introduce the film to distributors and industry members. If you are interested in attending the screening on a professional level please do not hesitate in contacting me at

On another exciting note Ra Choi has been nominated for the Best Feature award at the 2005 Australian Writers Guild - AWGIES. Its fellow nominees are Look Both Ways, Little Fish and Three Dollars. The awards will be presented in Melbourne on November 25, 2005.

After taking on publicity duties on the film, Ra Choi has been featured in Encore Magazine and Filmink and will be appearing in more UK and Australian publications so keep an eye out for more news. Please check out

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Bad Boy Bubby DVD Review

Rolf de Heer’s twisted little movie is a love or hate experience. It pushes many boundaries both visually and technically and is given life by a career defining performance by Nicholas Hope as the titular Bubby.

Living with his religious fanatic mother in a small claustrophobic bunker, Bubby is told by his domineering matriarch that he will die if he leaves the confines of his home. Locked in solitude his warped worldview consists of four walls, an incestuous relationship with his mother and wrapping his pet cat in glad wrap.

Inevitably Bubby breaks loose; he kills his parents and escapes into the “real” world, a child’s mind in an adults body, he has been incarcerated for so long he has no comprehension of good and bad, how to deal with people, pizza or pets.

The film shows how Bubby approaches his new life as much as how society spurns anyone who is different. Through naïve perseverance Bubby wins people over by being himself. He becomes the singer in a punk band and a martyr to the dissatisfied youth of today.

Hope is a revelation as Bubby, with his mad shock of hair, bulging eyes and ever twitching grin he is amazing, completely engulfed in the character from beginning to end. Not surprising when you discover that the film was shot exactly in order. The characters he meets are often found to be as mad as Bubby without the excuse of being locked up for years; it shows you exactly how bizarre the people who occupy this world really are. The rest of the cast are suitably strange and often make Bubby look relatively normal.

The film looks wonderful; not sure if De Heer really required 32 different cinematographers but the contrasts between Bubby’s worlds are expertly depicted. The film is extremely disturbing in places and makes for an unsettling watch but there is a delicious line in black humour that some viewers may pick up, especially when Bubby takes to the stage toward the films finale. It’s a shame they didn’t play gigs to support the movies, I’d have been first in the queue for tickets.

Full review appears on

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Kong is King

It may have only been 10 minutes but the footage of King Kong shown at the Supanova Fan Film Festival was amazing. Introduced on screen by Peter Jackson, we saw Kong battling three Tyrannosaurus Rex's whilst plummeting down a vine laden ravine as a panic stricken Noami Watts looked on. A mixture of finished footage and animatics, even in this unfinished state the result was awe inspiring, rest assured Jackson's King Kong will be the film of the year.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Gordons Alive!!

Hot of the press after my previous post we can confirm we have Flash himself, Sam Jones, introducing a special screening of Mike Hodge's Flash Gordon at the Supanova Fan Film Festival. Check out for details.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Latest News

A long overdue update; it’s been a busy couple of months so lots to report. For starters I visited the set of Superman Returns for Starburst magazine and interviewed Bob Clark; the director of Porky’s, Deathdream and the classic Black Christmas for Filmink. My article Quentin Tarantino and the Re-invention of the Martial Arts film will now be appearing in the November of Metro Magazine.

I have just been commissioned to write a regular news column DVD Down Under in DVD World magazine which now has an Australian version hitting the shelves. I will also be chatting to the makers of Hidden, an action packed shocker from New Zealand, for Shivers magazine.

Over the last few months myself and Hilton Howson have been helping to organise a film festival with the guys at the Supanova Pop Culture Expo. The Supanova Fan Film Festival will take place over October 15th and 16th and features a fine selection of trailers, previews and features. At the moment we can confirm we will be showing a selection of previews from UIP including Aeon Flux, Doom and a 20 minute preview of Peter Jackson’s long awaited King Kong. Two months before the film is released the Kong footage is a major coupe and we can’t wait to show it. We also have the Australian premiere of Dungeons and Dragons entitled The Elemental Might. More news soon but keep checking this site or for news.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

The Fearless Freaks DVD review

Fifteen years in the making, The Fearless Freaks follows the lives and musical careers of Wayne Coyne, Steven Drozd and Michael Ivins, collectively known as The Flaming Lips, probably one of America's finest musical exports.

Director Bradley Beesley, band leader Wayne Coyne's art school neighbour, was given unlimited access to the band for almost 15 years. Following the highs and lows, the heartaches and the tragedies he has put together an enthralling look into the lives and careers. Somehow, against the odds, the self-proclaimed hillbilly punk version of The Who have become one of the rock worlds most engaging and much loved acts.

Looking at their early career as atonal punks through their guest appearance on Beverly Hills 90210, their first hit single years into their career with She Don't Use Jelly. Its still quite astonishing that a group with barely a hit to their name managed to persuade Warner Brothers to finance Zaireeka, a four album set that could only be listened on four separate stereos playing at the same time is amazing, the fact that they toured the album by conducting an orchestra of boom boxes during their car park experiments is even stranger.

The Soft Bulletin and Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots both brought the band critical acclaim but their modern day concerts featuring giant dancing inflatable suns, people dancing on stage dressed in furry animal costumes, glitter cannons, singing nun hand puppets and blood capsules have become the stuff of legend for anyone who has seen them perform.

Steven Drozd, an ex-heroine addict gives a shockingly detailed account of his battles and the bands tough love approach in trying to make him stop. A musical genius and multi instrumentalist, it is distressing to hear him discuss his addiction whilst he graphically shoots up in front of the camera. It's a brave move on Beelsey's part to include the footage but it gives the band an even human side, as does footage of front man Coyne dealing with his fathers death. The shots of Coyne helping the roadies set up the bands stage set and adjust the stage lighting just makes you love him and the band even more.

In these days of pop prima donnas it's amazing that possibly the strangest and most beguiling band working today are also the most human. The film is a joy from beginning to end and a must for anyone with an interest in vibrant and daring music. This reviewer may be slightly biased having seen the band on numerous occasions but The Fearless Freaks is a five star triumph.

Complete review available at Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Latest News

As mentioned earlier my article on Ra Choi and interviews with Jessica Harper and Troma's Lloyd Kaufman all appear in the August issue of Filmink magazine on shelves now. I also contributed a small Q&A with Kaufman for the DVD distributor Stomp Visual's winter catalogue.

In August I'll be visiting the set of Superman Returns presently shooting at Sydney's Fox Studios. The film stars Brandon Routh, Kevin Spacey and Kate Bosworth and is directed by Bryan Singer of X- Men and The Usual Suspects fame and I'll hopefully be talking to them all. Posted by Picasa

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Radio Ga Ga

I'll be on the air again this Tuesday, July 19th, on Sydney's Eastside 89.7 FM. I'll be reviewing Adam Roberts Stone for the stations "Between the Covers" radio show. Tune in if you're in the area.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Sydney Film Festival: Report

Well the Sydney Film Festival has finished for another year. As always there was a wonderfully eclectic mix of films on show with something for everyone. Amongst my favourites this year were Greg Araki's Mysterious Skin, the documentary Inside Deep Throat, You, Me and Everyone We Know, Kontroll and Mean Creek. The Rock film selection was a joy; it was great to see Wattstax, The Love-ins and The Girl Can't Help It up on the big screen and any festival that schedules a screening of Russ Meyer's Beyond the Valley of the Dolls is good with me. A special mention must also go to One Night in Mongkok, B420 and 36 Quai Des Orfevres, all offered a new perspective on tried and tested genres and were thoroughly entertaining in their own right. Documentaries were the big thing this year and played to packed houses, in fact it goes to prove that while the Sydney Film Festival may well miss out on the big films its diverse range of movies continues to get more popular every year. During the festival I also interviewed Fenton Bailey, co-director of Inside Deep Throat and the fascinating chat will be appearing soon, watch this space. Click on the links to read my reviews at Posted by Hello

Monday, June 20, 2005

Sydney Film Festival: Mysterious Skin review

Directed by Greg Araki, USA, 91 minutes, Rated R

Those familiar with the work of Greg Araki will know what to expect. The Doom Generation was a wild road movie full of graphic sex, cheesy gore and a career defining performance by Rose McGowen and Nowhere introduced the directors obsession with aliens and vaporized Christina Applegate and Traci Lords in the process. Mysterious Skin is the director's most assured work; it retains the explicit sexual drive that runs through all his films but adds an unexpected maturity to the proceedings.

Mysterious Skin is beautifully crafted, light years beyond his early work like Totally F***ed Up. Every scene looks perfect and the uninhibited performances are breathtaking. The leads are astounding; those who recognize Joesph Gordon-Nevitt and Brady Corbet from Third Rock From the Sun and Thunderbirds respectively will be amazed. The supporting cast also do wonders, Elizabeth Shue gives one of her finest showings since Leaving Las Vegas as Neil's mother and Michelle Trachtenberg, Buffy The Vampire Slayers little sister, is all grown up as Neil's best friend Wendy.

The film shows the boys early lives using their adult voices that make the shocking storyline even more disturbing. No matter how they decided to show the scenes as the baseball coach seduces the nine year old Neil with Atari's Asteroids and Kellogg's cereals, it was going to be squirm inducing and the film ranks as possibly the most disturbing film I have watched since the similarly themed Happiness. Like Todd Solondz's film, Mysterious Skin handles one of cinemas taboos with pitch-black humour and is an incredibly brave piece of cinema.

For full review check out Posted by Hello

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

On the Air

For those of you in the Sydney area I will once again be appearing on Eastside FM 's Between the Covers show. This time I'll be reviewing Neil Gaiman's American Gods. Tune in to 89.7 FM at 11:30 am on Tuesday 21st June.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Latest News

The next issue of Filmink will feature a report about the forthcoming film Ra Choi - Coming Out to Play directed by M. Frank. I'm going to handling some of the publicity duties on the film so look out for more news soon. The issue will also include more of my interview with House of Wax star Elisha Cuthbert. I have also recently interviewed Jessica Harper, the star of Dario Argento's Suspiria and Brian DePalma's Phantom of the Paradise and Lloyd Kaufman, head of Troma. Both interviews will be appearing in a future issue of Filmink.

In Under Andy's Shadow related news I've just interviewed Geraldine Smith, she featured in Paul Morrissey's Flesh, Spike of Bensonhurst and Mixed Blood as well as Scorsese's Raging Bull. Posted by Hello

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Paul Morrissey on DVD

With his work often over shadowed by his association with Warhol, it's a pleasure to see the volume of worldwide DVD releases of Paul Morrissey's films. With the wider availability of his movies maybe now he will be respected as the independent and innovative filmmaker he truely deserves.

The director approved French four disc box set of Morrissey's La Trilogie puts the individual US discs of Trash, Flesh and Heat to shame. Each film is given a new transfer and Morrissey provides commentary on a selection of little seen deleted scenes and out-takes. Three rarely screened Morrissey shorts, All aboard the Dreamland Choo Choo, Like Sleep and The Origin of Captain America round off the main features but it is the fourth disc that provides the most interesting extras. Each of the films is given a short making of featurette and Morrissey's career is profiled in series of revelatory interviews. Various aspects of Warhol's infamous Factory are discussed, from fashion to The Velvet Underground, a wild array of footage has been sourced by the filmmaker and the disc makers Carlotta. The disc also features Morrissey's About Face, excerpts from the Jonas Mekas documentary Scenes from the Life of Andy Warhol and remarkable footage of The Velvet Underground performing in Exploding Plastic Inevitable. Raro Video in Italy have now produced their own box set of the three films along with a double bill featuring the first ever DVD release of The Velvet Underground and Nico and Vinyl.

The Chelsea Girls has also been released in Italy by Rarovideo in a glorious two platter set. The packaging features a deluxe 66 page booklet featuring essays in both Italian and English by Silvia Baraldini and Mario Zonta. The feature looks glorious using widescreen split screen methods to depict its original twin projection method. The main extra is the complete documentary by Jonas Mekas only exerted in the French box set. A delightful additional interview with Mekas by Morrissey is a sweet reminiscence of a long gone age. It's a must for every Warhol aficionado or independent film scholar alike.

Morrissey's Blood for Dracula and Flesh for Frankenstein have been released in a double disc set by Germany's Marketing Film. The prints and extras match those of the now deleted Criterion discs at a much cheaper price. There are however additional promotional materials and a fine gallery of foreign video releases included. Bizarrely the discs also include the running commentary by Morrissey and star Udo Kier that was originally used on their laser disc release of the films.

The UK is the next port of call with the release by CDA Entertainment of his much-maligned spoof on British comedy in The Hound of the Baskervilles. This bizarre combination of Carry on slapstick, Peter Cooke and Dudley Moore's own surreal comedy and Morrissey's New York cool never quite works but the disc provides both the UK and US cuts of the movie to help us better understand what the director was trying to do. The widescreen print looks good and Morrissey is interviewed about his take on the great British literary sleuth. A trailer completes the extras.

Morrissey's low budget foray into the seedy side of New York prostitution, Madame Wang's is being given its worldwide DVD debut in Australia by Force Video. Part of a release of seven of the director's films by the company, all bare bones releases; a seven disc box set including a bonus disc of supplemental extras has also been released.

It will be interesting to see in which part of the globe will release the rest of Morrissey's catalogue as many of his later film's barely made it to video. Beethoven's Nephew, Forty Deuce and Mixed Blood aren't too far away.
Posted by Hello

Friday, May 20, 2005

Video Killed the Radio Star

I'll be reviewing horror and sci-fi books on Sydney radio station Eastside 89.7 FM on the show Between the Covers from Tuesday May 24th at 11:30am. The first title I'll be discussing is Douglas Adam's The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. Please tune in! Posted by Hello

Monday, May 16, 2005

Coffy DVD review

Directed by Jack Hill, 1973, USA, 90 minutes, R 18+

Coffy's (Pam Grier) life is shattered when her young sister is doped up and freaked out by a evil drug pusher who thinks nothing of addicting a child to hard drugs. Out for revenge she hunts him down and vows to follow his trail to the very top of the narcotic trail. Is Coffy willing to enter this sordid world and is she ready for who she will meet.

Director Jack Hill, a veteran of such cult classics as Spider Baby and The Switchblade Sisters, was instrumental in bringing the world the delectable form of Pam Grier. She made her debut in Russ Meyer's Beyond the Valley of the Dolls and after Hill cast her in his trashy Philippine Women in Prison films, The Big Bird Cage and The Big Doll House, she went on to become a Seventies icon with performances in films such as Foxy Brown and Sheba Baby. It's no wonder that Quentin Tarantino cast her in his reverential blaxploitation tribute Jackie Brown. You can see why he called Coffy "One of the most entertaining movies ever made" High praise in deed for a revenge film full of action, violence and naked flesh.

A voluptuous vision in hipsters and an afro, Grier is electrifying in the lead role. Whether seducing a pimp before she kills him, hiding razor blades in her hair or stripping to prove her worth as a call girl, she oozes sex appeal. What Pam adds to the mix is attitude, arse kicking, karate chopping attitude. You get on her wrong side and she'll whip your ass. It's no wonder she became one of poster icons of the Seventies.

Jazz legend Roy Ayer's soundtrack, always an integral part of the enjoyment of any good blaxploitation movie, is sublime, everything you could want in a Blaxploitation soundtrack; Wah wah guitars, blaring trumpets and funky drumming.

Many argue that the stars of the films were being exploited. That the studios, mainly owned by whites in the Seventies, were jumping on the band wagon started by the independent thrills of Melvin Van Peebles Sweet Sweetbacks Baadasss Song and the studio hit Shaft. But you talk to Grier, Fred "The Hammer" Williamson, Rudy Ray Moore amongst many, and they'll tell you they loved it, to quote the tagline to Superfly "He had a plan, to stick it to the man."

If you want to discover the wonderful world of blaxploitation films then Coffy is a good place to start. Along with the equally fine Foxy Brown, Coffy has it all. Dodgy pimps, jive talking dialogue, action and excitement along with Pam Grier, you really can't go wrong. Posted by Hello

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Latest News

I have three interviews lined up for my book Under Andy's Shadow: The life and Films of Paul Morrissey. Next week I'll be talking to Nat Finkelstein (a photographer present during the heyday of the Factory and The Velvet Underground), Anne de Salvo (one of the female leads in Morrissey's final film Spike of Bensonhurst) and Jane Birkin (the Sixties singer songwriter who appeared in Morrissey's Beethoven's Nephew.)

Following my recent cover feature in Shivers#120 further interviews from my visit to the set of House of Wax will feature in the June issue of Film Review. These will include chats with the director Juame Collet-Serra and Executive Producers Herb Gains and Erik Olsen.

Interviews with Herschell Gordon Lewis will be featured in a forthcoming issue of Shivers as well as a really great discussion with Rod Hay, the producer of arguably the first ever Australia horror films, Night of Fear and Inn of the Damned.

To round up my website work, film reviews regularly appear on and , I also make irregular reports on and review CDs on .
Posted by Hello

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Purple Rain 20th Anniversay DVD review

Directed by Albert Magnoli, 1984, USA, 111 minutes, R

The Kid (Prince) and his band The Revolution are one of three house bands at the Minneapolis club First Avenue. When a beautiful girl, Apollonia (Apollonia Kotero), appears on the scene she causes a rift between The Kid, The Revolution and his arch rivals Morris Day and The Time. Meanwhile his family is breaking apart and his father commits suicide. Things aren't looking good for the kid and soon he is fighting for his career, his band and his girl.

In the early Eighties Prince Nelson Rogers produced a succession of albums that enjoyed critical success but somehow never quite hit big; Prince, Dirty Mind and Controversy all featured the rock edged funkiness that he is renowned for but lacked that certain spark to send him to the big league. 1999 pushed him closer but no one could have foreseen the huge hit that Purple Rain, both the film and album, was to become.

It was a big risk for anyone to back a film starring a relatively unknown name; they even started filming without any financial support or a distributor but the moment When Doves Cry was released as the first single from the soundtrack album Prince hit the big time. With over 10,000,000 copies of the album sold and earning millions at the box office, its no wonder that Quentin Tarantino recently announced at the 2004 Grammies that Purple Rain is the greatest rock film ever made.

Combining Hendrix style guitar histrionics and James Brown dance moves, he went on to become one of the most influential artists in the Eighties. Looking back at Purple Rain now the music still packs a punch; from the epic opening riffs of Let's Go Crazy to the dance pop of Baby I'm a Star every track is a winner, each musical set piece perfectly serving the film and propelling the story forward. The Beautiful Ones and Darling Nicki in particular work wonders as Prince first woos and then berates Apollonia from the stage of the 1st Avenue Club.

The performances are surprisingly good for a mainly first time cast; Prince excels as the brooding Kid. Much like Madonna in Desperately Seeking Susan and David Bowie in The Man Who Fell to Earth it seems famous rock stars are good for one great performance playing a character very similar to themselves. Prince went on to make Under the Cherry Moon, a film ripe for rediscovery, and the truly terrible Purple Rain sequel - Graffiti Bridge.

Morris Day and Jerome from The Time provide the slapstick humour to counter the brooding sad life of the Kid. His family is breaking up, his father on the verge of suicide. The relationship between the kid and his father is the core of the film. His fathers chilling statement "never get married" is actual paternal advice Prince was given as a young man by his own father. This gives Purple Rain something lacking from most Eighties music, a soul. All the usual vacuous "Me generation" trappings of the decade are present, the questionable fashions, cheesy keyboards, bizarre haircuts and Purple Rain does indeed use every cliché in the book to tell its story but the minute the band start playing the films awesome title rack there won't be a dry eye in the house.

Presented here for the first time in widescreen, Warners have given the disc a fine selection of extras. Director Magnoli, producer Robert Cavallo and cinematographer Donald. E. Thorin all supply a commentary. Trailers for all of Prince's films are also included but the four featurettes make this disc a must have. First Avenue: The Road to Pop Royalty pays a visit to the club where Prince started and Purple Rain: Backstage Pass tells the story of the making of the film. Both feature all new interviews with Magnoli, Wendy and Lisa, Apollonia and other members of the band and the films crew. We also look at the films legacy in Riffs, Ruffles and a Revolution: The Impact and Influence of Purple Rain.

A live report from the MTV premiere of Purple Rain from Mann's Chinese Theatre in LA is retro heaven. Featuring catwalk appearances and interviews with Eddie Murphy, Weird Al Jankovic, John Cougar Mellancamp, Lionel Ritchie, Joan Jett and Prince's band The Revolution. It's worth buying the disc purely for the appearance of Pee Wee Herman arriving at the theatre in a toy car.

To round things off you get the music videos for Let's Go Crazy, Purple Rain, When Doves Cry and five others by Prince, Apollonia and The Time. Posted by Hello

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Blood For Dracula review

Directed by Paul Morrissey, 1974, USA, 106 minutes, rated R 18+

Dracula is in a bad way, there is a shortage of virgins blood in his home land of Transylvania. Looking for a pure bloodline to ravage he heads to Italy with his assistant, he needs a devout Catholic family with a fine selection of daughters. Little does he know that no sooner does he find one than the Marxist gardener is deflowering the four daughters. Sickened by the tainted blood "The blood of these whores is killing me" he has to fight a bloody battle to survive.

Udo Kier cuts a sad forlorn figure as the Count, not surprising as the actor was shooting Blood for Dracula the afternoon after he and director Paul Morrissey had just finished the films companion piece Flesh for Frankenstein. A quick haircut and Kier changed character, his skinny figure created by simply not eating. Kier reportedly fainted on numerous occasions whilst filming. Joe Dallesandro is hilarious as the gardener Joe, barely attempting to hide his thick New York drawl as he spouts out his dialogue with clueless venom "That Dracula is no good for anyone and he never was!" its no wonder the film was re-released as Young Dracula to capitalise on the success of Mel Brooks horror comedy Young Frankenstein.

The film looks wonderful, gone are the grim static shots of his early New York work. This film revels in it's lush European vistas and gothic architecture; the accompanying score by Claudio Gizzi is sumptuous and give the film a class feel that is only belied by some of the frankly terrible performances on show. The hapless display of acting will be tough for some to take; it's fairly obvious that Morrissey wrote the script over breakfast every morning while he was shooting the film.

Often known as Andy Warhol's Dracula, Blood for Dracula was the penultimate film produced by the legendary artist, the final movie being Jed Johnson's Bad. Interestingly enough Johnson was Morrissey assistant on Blood for Dracula and Flesh for Frankenstein. The two horrors were a grotesque horror comedy that replaced Morrissey's usual political rhetoric with sex and violence.

With Flesh, Heat and Trash, Morrissey was already used to his film's being preceded by the legend "Andy Warhol's," a misleading moniker as Warhol was barely on set let alone behind the camera. Blood for Dracula and Flesh for Frankenstein were also misappropriated in Europe by second unit director Antonioni Marghetiti. Apparently in Italy distributors get tax breaks if the film is directed by home grown talent so they changed the credits on Morrissey's film to make a bit of extra cash. Unfortunately many textbooks still list Marghetiti as the director, which is a disgrace as the film is one of Morrissey's finest.

First appeared on by Hello

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Latest News

Lots to report this month, the latest issue of Filmink features my interview with Jamie Kennedy from the set of The Son of the Mask and a chat with the Godfather of Gore himself, Herschell Gordon Lewis. My first report from the set of House of Wax will be the cover story of issue #120 of Shivers featuring interviews with Elisha Cuthbert and Chad Michael Murray. My first Australian news report will soon appear on, these reports will tie in perfectly with my Paul Morrissey book. Set visit wise things looking good for a possible trip to the set of Superman Returns being shot in Sydney's Fox Studios and expecting confirmation of my Ghost Rider trip to Melbourne soon. Posted by Hello

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Baadasssss! review

Directed by Mario Van Peebles, USA, 108 minutes, Rated R

Mario Van Peebles plays his father, the legendary Melvin Van Peebles, the director of Sweet Sweetback's Baad Asssss Song. A low budget classic that was an independent trailblazer in its day; it showed the much put upon blacks of urban America fighting back and sticking it to the white man. A dangerous concept in the early Seventies where cinematic racism was high on the Hollywood agenda; no one would touch the film so Peebles risked his family and life to finance, star, write, produce and direct the film itself. This film tells the tale of a film that changed a generation, the culture that made it and the filmmaker who risked all to get it made.

"Entertainment wise, this ones a Mutherfucker!" As Van Peebles desperately tries to sell Sweet Sweetback's Baad Asssss Song to potential financers he perfectly sums up his son's mockumentary on the making of his father's classic exploitation film.

The film is funny and enjoyable but isn't afraid to show the darker side of filmmaking; the inherent racism that Van Peebles and many other black actors and directors had to deal with, Melvin Van Peebles descent into megalomania as he fires his desperate staff and forces his thirteen year old son Mario, to perform a sex scene in the films opening. All show a braveness on Mario Van Peebles part to show his father as an enigmatic demon who would stop at nothing to finish his masterpiece.

Baadasssss! recalls P. T. Anderson's Boogie Nights in it's depiction of a seedy side of the Californian dream; full of colourful characters, funky soundtracks and outrageous fashions and will definitely appeal to a wider audience that the film on which it is based. Melvin Van Peebles even went to the pornography industry to find his crew after Union trouble, "If you can make an ass look good, faces are a snap" he figures when he hires his camera man.

Van Peebles uses footage from the original film, interviews with the actors in character and gives the film an authentic feel. His recreation of Sweet Sweetback's Baad Asssss Song's major scenes are a joy and show how well the film has been cast, especially the introduction of Earth, Wind and Fire, the unknown group that provided the films funky soundtrack, the hallmark of every great Blaxploitation film.

Baadassss! is an obvious labour of love and a heart felt tribute to his father, one of the unsung hero's of independent cinema. It's fitting that this tribute to Melvin Van Peeble's has been made by his talented son.

Review originally written for Cinephilia after screening at The State Theatre on Saturday 12th June as part of The Sydney International Film Festival. Posted by Hello

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Remake/ Remodel: A Hollywood Obsession

2004 saw its fair share of Hollywood remakes including The Manchurian Candidate, The Stepford Wives, Shall We Dance, Taxi and The Grudge; some were good but many were bad. 2005 promises to be no different. The Pink Panther, The Amityville Horror, The Bad News Bears, Assault on Precinct 13 and King Kong are just a few of the films that will be making a reappearance this year as Hollywood continues its trend of remaking classics for the modern market. It is often a brave move as the originals are fondly remembered and often have a verbose and hard to please following. Its also argued that Hollywood digs into its history due to a complete lack of any fresh new ideas, but then again many of these stories are seen as well worth revisiting for today's cinema audience. Many are financial successes but for every winner there are many that should never have left the cutting room.

The original Manchurian Candidate released in 1962 was directed by John Frankenheimer who himself had a hand directing a truly dreadful remake of The Island of Dr Moreau. Taking over the directorial reigns from the fired English "enfant terrible" Richard Stanley, the film was everything that is wrong with remakes. A self indulgent star vehicle, in this instance Val Kilmer along with Marlon Brando and his Mini Me, that fails in everyway to reproduce what was loved in the original version. The Manchurian Candidate remake director Jonathan Demme also had the same problem with The Trouble with Charlie, a modern retelling of the 1963 romantic comedy thriller Charade. Wasn't it obvious from the start that the limited acting talents of Thandie Newton and Mark Wahlberg could never revive the on screen spark between Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant. They were so embarrassed by the final product they changed the name to divert the audience away from original This film marks the middle film in a trilogy of terror, the curse of the Wahlberg. The unfortunate actor also had the dubious pleasure of starring in Tim Burtons worst ever film, his abysmal re-imagining of the classic 1968 sci-fi epic The Planet of the Apes. Not content with trashing one Sixties cultural icon he also starred in The Italian Job managing to project none of the charm and cunning of a young Michael Caine.

Nor is Europe safe from Hollywood's clutches either. The remake of the Danish thriller Nightwatch failed to generate any form of tension that the original carefully built up despite the presence of Ewan McGregor and also Jan De Bont's The Haunting was a travesty of epic proportions. The starry Diabolique even failed to recreate any of the sexual tension of the 1955 French original, despite starring Sharon Stone and the gorgeous Isabella Adjani. It's not all bad; Chris Nolan's Insomnia had Al Pacino and an excellent Robin Williams eking out every ounce of suspense in the nocturnal murder mystery.

The much maligned horror genre has offered us two recent examples of Seventies classics that have been re-imagined with style and panache adding modern themes while never loosing the revolutionary grit that made the originals such genre defining moments. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and this years Dawn of the Dead are perfect examples of how to do it right. Japanese horror has also faired well, Gore Verbinski's The Ring was an almost carbon copy of Hideo Nakata's creepy ghost story of the same name, in fact so successful was the remake that Nakata will be remaking his own sequel for western audiences. A similar situation to the devilish Ju-on which was reshot as The Grudge starring Sarah Michelle Gellar; once again lensed by the originals director Takashi Shumuzu. 24's Elisha Cuthbert and Paris Hilton have been lensing a remake of the Vincent Price starrer House of Wax from 1953, itself a remake of the 1931 Terror at the Wax Museum, in Queensland. It's the latest release from Joel Silver and Robert Zemekiss helmed Dark Castle studio and follows in the footstep of their William Castle remakes House on Haunted Hill and 13 Ghosts, both of which upped the gory violence but lost the enigmatic charm of one of the horror genres finest showman. Even two of the genres most legendary stars have had a stab at the remake game. Canadian auteur David Cronenberg turned into Jeff Goldblum into a bug in The Fly, Tobe Hooper revved up his power tools with The Toolbox Murders and John Carpenter used gallons of blood and rubber to remake The Thing from Another World from 1951 with The Thing. Not that Carpenter's name is a guarantee of quality; his Christopher Reeve starring Children of the Damned is truly dreadful.

Pierce Brosnan and Rene Russo set the screens alight in 1999 with John McTeirman's The Thomas Crown Affair. A high art version of the Sixties crime flick of the same name starring Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway, it lacked the revolutionary swinging style of the original but upped the smouldering sexual tension. In modern times permissive sexual displays have also been joined by political freedom. Philip Noyce's adaptation of Graham Green's The Quiet American isn't afraid to point the finger at the Americans as the cause of the Vietnam war, the 50s original was far more vague in its political leanings, not wanting to rock the vote, much to Greene's disgust. The modern day film is less a remake than a truthful adaptation of a classic piece of literature.

Even Disney hasn't been afraid to dig into it's vaults, the Hayley Mills starring The Parent Trap in 1961 was remade to a lukewarm response but Freaky Friday was a box office smash. Replacing Jodie Foster and Barbara Harris with Lyndsay Lohan and Jamie Lee Curtis was a masterstroke and both give likeable and funny performances that helped invigorate their careers. Lohan will again join Disney, along with Mat Dillon and Michael Keaton in Herbie: Fully Loaded, a modern interpretation of the 1965 comedy The Love Bug.

These comedies also bring to mind the recent The Stepford Wives. The original was a dark, brooding and often disturbing take on the Seventies womens lib movement and was shocking for its time. Obviously on these liberal times the remake starring Nicole Kidman, Christopher Walken and Glenn Close turned these horrific notions on their head and played the film as a comedy, adding further twists to add a frission to the stories conclusion. It works well but shows how far modern tastes have changed. Looking back the original is a solid little thriller with a black comic edge that only became apparent with the passing of time. Its doubtful that the remake of The Pink Panther starring Steve Martin will stand a chance, he's already blotted his copybook with the terrible Sgt. Bilko. Throw in the truly bizarre The Wiz, an all black remake of the Wizard of Oz starring Michael Jackson and Diana Ross and it has become obvious that the remake game is a lottery at best.

That brings us nicely back to The Manchurian Candidate. The big name cast; Denzel Washington, Meryl Street and Leiv Schrieber all give wonderful performances. Jonathan Demme directs with vision and displays a firm hand on the wayward plot. The acid tinged flashbacks are often horrific and the film transfers perfectly to its modern setting of the Gulf War. It is leaps and bounds above Demme's previous remakes but it's still not a match for the original. The shock denouement looses all of its impact for those who are familiar with the storyline. It succeeds in proving all arguments against the remake while an enjoyable film in itself. A rare achievement indeed and one we hope that Tim Burton's forthcoming Johnny Depp starring remake of Willy Wonka, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, will endeavour to recreate. Posted by Hello

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Beyond the Valley of the Dolls DVD review

Beyond the Valley of The Dolls (5 stars)
Directed by Russ Meyer, 1970, 105 minutes, R

All girl band The Carrie Nations hit LA in search of fame and fortune but all they find is sex, drugs and rock 'n roll. Seduced by the salacious charms of Ronnie "Z-Man" Barzell, a record producer and raconteur, the film follows the girl's downward spiral into the cesspool of the rock industry. Relationships are destroyed as the bonds that tie them together are stretched to breaking point. Suicide, orgies, abortion, fellatio with a handgun, sexually confused superheroes, the films unpredictable denouement leaves almost the entire cast in meltdown, all in the name of rock.

Russ Meyer stunned 20th Century Fox when he handed them Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. Written by film critic Roger Ebert as an unofficial sequel to The Valley of the Dolls, the studio was not expecting the sordid drug filled epic that Meyer gave them. The film was given the dreaded X rating by the censors and an incensed Fox buried the film. Quite a bizarre move as they must have known the type of films that the breast obsessed director had been making. Full of blatant nudity, shocking violence, jive talking dialogue and outrageously proportioned young ladies it shouldn't have been a surprise.

Until this point in his career Meyer had been fiercely independent. From the early days as the King of the Nudies in the Fifties with The Immoral Mr Teas through to his torrid Sixties romps like Faster Pussycat Kill! Kill! Meyers work had been groundbreaking. His résumé reads as a step-by-step history of sexploitation films; Vixen, however, was the film that made him a rich man. Hugely successful for a limited budget the studios took notice and Fox put Meyer on a contract, which lasted two just films. Beyond The Valley of the Dolls failed at the box office and The Seven Minutes faired even worse; ironically as Meyer retreated back to his own mammary filled independent world he was soon making one of his biggest ever hits Supervixens.

Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, however, revels in its decadent budget. The character of Z-Man is the films decadent trump card, foppish in style with groovy banter to match; it's no wonder that Mike Myers borrowed so much from this film for his Austin Powers movies. Whole lines of dialogue are matched word for word by the International man of Mystery in Myers homage to this wonderful film, "This is my happening baby, and it freaks me out!"

The tunes, written by Lynne Carrey are funky, the girls are gorgeous and Russ Meyers ex wife Edie Williams positively ravenous as party girl Ashley St. Ives "You're a groovy boy; I'd like to strap you on sometime." Meyer's directorial flourishes are abundant; rapid fire editing, candy coloured cinematography, inexplicable Nazis and lashings of naked flesh. The film is a joy from beginning to its astounding end and a must see for any aficionado of Cult Cinema.

Review first appeared on

Posted by Hello

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Interview with Edgar Wright - Director of Shaun of the Dead

Fresh off a coast-to-coast American promotional trip, director Edgar Wright took time out of his busy schedule to talk with David Michael Brown about Shaun of the Dead, George Romero and casting 100's of Zombies.

How did the press junket across the States go?

It was great, across 17 different cities. The response has been really good; being somewhere where people don't necessarily know you and have the film go down well. Each night they'd be a couple of hard-core Spaced fans, people who watch it on region free DVD players but apart from that everyone was watching it completely cold so that was really nice. It was good that there wasn't anything that the Americans didn't get apart from a joke about Cornetto's but aside from that they really took to it.

What was it like seeing the film on the big screen for the first time? I was at the London Frightfest Festival a couple of years ago when you showed some footage and it went down really well.

Absolutely, I suppose in a way we've been slightly starved of an audience for a while as Spaced didn't have a laughter track at all. I started of making shorts and I showed them to audiences. That was the first thing that got me really excited having some form of palpable reaction or noise from an audience. It was funny, we were at Comic Con in San Diego, we showed the trailer and talked about Shaun, we also showed 10 minute clips of Spaced and it was amazing watching it with 3000 people, they were really laughing, it brought it home that we hadn't had this reaction for ages.

Watching Shaun of the Dead it reminded me of American Werewolf, half the audience laughing, the other half hiding under their seat.

Cool! There are lots of other horror comedies that I love like Evil Dead 2 and Braindead, both of those go further into the comedy side. Both of them are very cartoonish, more live action Looney tunes that horror. American Werewolf probably plays its scares a little straighter. In a way, even though it's a comedy we wanted the horror aspect to have a straighter edge to it. It is a nice mix and in a way I think every horror comedy going to be different, there's a world between Shaun of the Dead and American Werewolf or Evil Dead 2 and American Werewolf. Even Young Frankenstein and American Werewolf. They all work in slightly different ways and that's what's interesting about them. Other ones such as Scary Movie are much more of a spoof; you wouldn't call it a horror film in any regard.

You mentioned Evil Dead 2 and Braindead, were Sam Raimi and Peter Jackson big influences on Shaun of the Dead?

Well not specifically in terms of humour, if anything both of them were an inspiration to me as a director, specifically in the way they started. We were really lucky that both of them have actually seen the film, they both loved it and gave us press quotes. Peter Jackson said it was his favourite film of the year and Sam Raimi said "Shaun of the Dead Rules!" I came back from the States to find a German Evil Dead 2 poster signed by Raimi and Rob Tappert which was really sweet. They saw it in LA whilst we were touring and really liked it.

Another obvious inspiration is George Romero's Dawn of the Dead. All the way through the film we get snippets of Goblin music, Shaun works at Foree Electronics, lots of scenes are played out from his Zombie films, has Romero seen it?

He was the first to see it once we finished it and he loved it. He's bigged us up on several occasions now which is very sweet. He watched it on his own; he just really went for it. I think he didn't now what to expect, he'd heard it was happening and when he actually watched it he was like "Oh right! Its like a proper film." I think he was kind of expecting it to be like a student film. It was really cool that he really liked it, he gave us two different press quotes and his name is on the poster and that means the world to us.

The full version of this interview appears on
Posted by Hello

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Under Andy's Shadow update

Lots to report on my Paul Morrissey book. I will be interviewing one of the stars of Women in Revolt, Penny Arcade in Sydney next month, she is over for Sydney's infamous Mardi Gras celebrations and is performing at The Studio at the Opera House. I have also been in discussion with photographer Gretchen Berg and hope to be using a selection of her never before seen photographs from the set of the film, including shots of Warhol and Morrissey at work and on the streets of New York. In additional news I will also be interviewing Nat Finkelstein about his memories of the Warhol Factory and his recent contributions to the New York show Edie: Unseen Photographs of a Warhol Superstar. I have also recently visited the London offices of the British Board of Film Classification where I viewed the files for Morrissey's films Flesh and Trash; both of which caused major controversy when they were first released in the UK, it makes for fascinating reading and extracts will feature in the book.
Posted by Hello

Friday, February 04, 2005

Takashi Miike's Ichi the Killer DVD review

Ichi The Killer
Directed by Takashi Miike, Japan, 2002, 129 minutes, Rated R18+

Even if you are familiar with the work of maverick Japanese director Takashi Miike nothing will prepare you for the shocking horrors of Ichi The Killer. Most will have first heard his name after the psychological nightmares of Audition, many would have seen the stylised ultra violence of Fudoh: The New Generation, a few will have seen the sing-a-long a zombie comedy of Happiness of The Katakuries but nothing from Miike’s world compares to this.

Frankly its hard to recommend everyone to see Ichi the Killer; profoundly disturbing on almost every level, a vain attempt is made to add a humour element to the film but nothing can tame the retina scorching imagery on display, once you’ve seen Ichi, you’ll never forget him. Beautifully crafted, Miike’s attention to detail is remarkable, especially considering he often makes up to five movies a year.

Kakihara is a sadomasochistic yakuza with a grudge. His gangland boss has been killed. This dastardly deed was perpetuated by Ichi, a truly psychotic killer under the control of Jijii, an ex-cop who is determined to end the yakuza’s control of his hometown of Shinjuku.

Bizarrely almost all of the add campaigns for the film focused on Kakihara, the blonde sado-masochistic yakuza who is patchwork of piercing and scars topped with blonde shock of hair. In one alarming scene he saws off the end of his own tongue to prove his allegiance to the yakuza, not surprising once you’ve seen him puff smoke out of the slashes in his cheeks when he smokes a cigarette.

The character of Ichi is even more unsettling; a timid shy young man who cry’s when shouted at until he snaps and heads on a killing rampage. His history, sexual desires and the general depiction of violence against women is at odds with all that is acceptable but one has to look at the film in context. Based on a violent Manga cartoon that is sold to children in Japan, it is interesting to compare what is and isn’t acceptable in the cinema’s of the East and West. Full frontal nudity is very rare in Japanese film, there is none in Ichi the Killer, but it is ok to smash a body to pieces in shockingly graphic detail. I’m sure if this had been a Western film it would have been cut to shreds but as it is sub-titled and therefore not going to be seen by the masses, it is ok. It’s a strange world we live in.

Ichi the Killer will be a must see for fans of Miike’s work and fans of extreme cinema and Siren’s uncut DVD is an excellent way to see it. Anyone else with an interest in the bizarre should probably start with some of the directors other films and build up an immune system first!

Siren’s excellent Region 4 DVD features a small collection of extras including a Photo gallery, behind the scenes footage and the trailer make up the extras. On the audio side the film is available in Japanese with subtitles and in a dubbed English version, both in 5.1 Dolby Digital. Miike also contributes a running commentary.

Review first appeared on

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Martin Scorsese's After Hours DVD review

After Hours
Directed by Martin Scorsese, 1985, USA, 96 minutes, M 15+

Paul Hackett (Griffin Dunne) is stuck in a dead end job and feels his life is going nowhere. After a chance meeting with a beautiful young girl Marcy (Rosanna Arquette) he calls her up and goes on a date. To say things go wrong is an understatement; after the disastrous date the distraught Hackett just wants to get home but finds every avenue to get there is blocked. “I just wanted to leave my apartment, maybe meet a nice girl and now I’ve got to die for it?”

The only way for Martin Scorsese was down; having given us arguably some of the finest films ever made with Mean Streets, Taxi Driver and Raging Bull he had at last been given a chance to direct his long cherished dream project The Last Temptation of Christ. A big budget epic, the devout Catholic director was distraught when the film fell through at the last minute. Needing to get back to his roots he wanted to make a low budget film back in his hometown of New York and looked back at a script he was offered by Griffin Dunne and producer Amy Robinson, After Hours.

The film benefits from these relatively low budget trappings; only shot at night this delirious black comedy is a succession of excruciating events as our hapless hero desperately tries to get to the other side of town. Scorsese’s direction is extraordinary, his camera flies in every direction, the nervous energy as he pushes his actors and crew to the edge is apparent in every frame. The films calling card shot, as a set of keys are thrown from a tall building down to Dunne is still breathtaking in its ingenuity.

The films trump card, however, is Griffin Dunne who gives a wonderful performance as Hackett. A veteran of such cult classics as An American Werewolf in London his career never really built on, unfortunately he will be better known by younger readers as Madonna’s romantic foil in the dreadful Who’s that Girl? He has since had a successful career as the director of Practical Magic and Addicted to Love

The rest of the cast including Rosanna Arquette, Teri Garr, Linda Fiorentino, John Heard and Cheech and Chong all play excellent cameos as they all contribute to our hero’s nocturnal nightmare. Even Roger Corman regular Dick Miller makes an appearance as a homage to the man who first gave Scorsese work.

After Hours falls in a strange place in Scorsese’s oeuvre of work; more King of Comedy than Raging Bull it shows a very weird and dark side of New York and benefits from its wilfully obscure view of the directors beloved city.

Warners excellent Region 1 disc features an excellent featurette called Filming For Your Life featuring new interview with Dunne and Macdonald. Dunne recalls how he auditioned for the part of an eleven year old in Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore aged eighteen, failed completely but got a chance to chat to the great man. You also get a great running commentary by the director, star and producer, a nice selection of deleted scenes and a trailer.

Interview with Tura Satana, Lori Williams and Haji - The stars of Faster Pussycat Kill! Kill!

"Faster Pussycat Kill! Kill! Is beyond doubt, the best movie ever made. It is possibly better than any film that will be made in the future" Fine praise indeed as Pink Flamingos director John Waters so eloquently put it, there is no other film like Faster Pussycat Kill! Kill!. The film has named LA rock groups Faster Pussycat and Tura Satana, the title track has been covered by The Cramps and original poster won't leave you much change from $2000 but why is this initial box office failure cited by many as the ultimate cult film? The women!

Tura Satana, Haji and Lori Williams starred as a trio of go-go dancers, high on life and wild for kicks. These actresses were the living embodiment of breast obsessed Meyer's ultimate women, outrageously proportioned, sexually liberated nymphs who knew what they wanted and always got it! By turning the tables on the usual stereotypes, Meyer’s gang of go-go dancers tore around in fast cars, kidnapped young girls and broke men’s backs. Everything about the film worked: the beat-driven dialogue, the out of place Fifties monster movie soundtrack and the stunning black and white cinematography.

Tura Satana, an astonishing half-Japanese, half-Cheyenne Indian voluptuous karate expert, played the leader of this jive-talking girl gang, Varla. She steals the show and has developed into a cult figure and feminist icon "I think that the film became so popular with the public, because it shows that women can be just as tough, if not tougher than some guys. Women love to see some guys get their butts kicked instead of the women getting knocked around. Russ always says that the film was basically a flop when it was first released, but nothing that is a flop can achieve the status that Faster Pussycat Kill! Kill! has achieved over the years." Haji, who played Varla's lover Rosie has different views on the reasons for the films cult status "Well because we all have large breasts! and there are lots of fast cars, female domination, lots of fantasies for men, but without the women being taken advantage of, so it was for women also" Lori Williams agrees “I think one reason is that women didn't "Kick Ass" in film when Faster Pussycat was made in 1965. It seems to have really picked up momentum since Thelma & Louise. I also feel it was shot in a very unique style and the Black and White film makes a strong statement.”

The films opens with our girls hard at work, go-go dancing their audience into a carnal frenzy to the power pop tunes of the Mighty Bossweeds. Racing their Porsche’s for cheap thrills they come across a couple, Tommie and Linda, playboy playmate Susan Bernhard, in the middle of the desert flats racing time trials. The trio challenge them to a race and the resulting skirmish results in a dead boyfriend and a kidnapped waif. Using the girl to infiltrate their way into a local household, the girls come across a wheelchair bound, dirty old man, played with relish by Meyer regular and war buddy Stuart Lancaster, and his sons Kirk and the Vegetable. Legend has it that the old man is sitting on a fortune and the girls decide to use their womanly ways to seduce the cash from out of his hands. The delirious denouement ends in violence and tragedy as the inner turmoil’s and raging passions of the girl gang boil over.

Where would Meyer find women who could play such venomous roles? In his own inimitable style, he found his actresses from all walks of life. “I was dancing at a nightclub and someone sent Russ to see me.” purrs Haji “Russ saw the show and said he was a director with a small part in a film, and would I read for it. I read for the opening of Motor Pyscho and ended up getting the lead. This terrified me. Before I had never even considered acting. I ended up doing four more films for Russ. Also helped him cast films. I also worked behind the scenes as production assistant, hair, make up and wardrobe. It was a great education on how to make movies with a five man crew”

Haji also had a part in getting Satana the role of Varla “I got a call from my agent, and went to the interview. Later I heard my role was gotten because Haji had mentioned my name to Russ. This was never mentioned to me. So, I can’t say for sure, but I do know that I went to the interview in my costume for Irma La Douce wedding scene. It was a little rough being Varla in a skin tight pink dress, with a pink pillbox hat with a tulle flower on it!”

"I met Russ at an Audition” recalls Lori Williams “my agent Paul Kohner sent me on for the movie. They wanted one girl completely the opposite of Haji and Tura. It was a cattle call and I had 2 call backs before I got cast in the part of Billie. No, I wasn't a Go-Go-dancer. I worked in the Beach Party films and a few Elvis movies as a dancer.”

Williams remembers filming with fondness “The atmosphere on the set was very good. We all got along very well Susan Bernard and I kind of stuck together and Haji and Tura were friends from before this film. I think they danced together for a while” Satana, however, did not make friends with everyone on set. “Pussycat was filmed in the Mojave Desert and it was extremely hot there. Everything was a ball on the set. We had fun, but there were times when there was some tension on the set with Susan Bernard's mother. It became necessary for me to make Susan very afraid of me, in order to get the reaction that was required of her.”

Haji agrees ”All the girls were great to work with, but Susan Bernard was young and whiny, and it drove Tura crazy. I used to find it amusing. No complaints about the crew. Russ never put sexual pressure on anyone, no uncomfortable feelings, not even a little” Contrary to Russ’s legendary sexual appetite he was on best behaviour as Williams recounts “Russ ran a very professional set and was more like a father image to me at the time. I really enjoyed working with him! Russ ran the whole show. He would listen but he made all the calls. I didn't want to do some of the lines the way he called for. At the time I thought they were too camp! Well, time has certainly proven me wrong. That is exactly what sells this film.”

Satana also made the most of Meyer’s distinct film making style “Russ was a teacher in any of the films that he has done. When you worked with Russ, you learned to do all kinds of things from being a Grip to being an assistant director. You learned al the different aspects of a production company.” Haji wasn’t quite so forgiving of the hard working director “Russ was tough to work with. There is no other word for it. He yelled, was very demanding, long hours and no one could leave the set, even if your scene was over. Even though we were miles from any towns, he would keep an eye on us, even at night. No one could even go for a drive. We would live and shoot on location, with rattlesnakes, tarantulas and lots of scorpions.”

Where do you go after a film like Faster Pussycat Kill! Kill!? Satana appeared in Ted. V. Mikel’s Astro Zombies and The Doll Squad but her appearances dried up “I quit acting and went back to dancing for awhile as a tassel twirling go-go dancer. It was a combination of my strip routine and go-go dancing. I stopped acting because I was not one to go sleeping with any of the casting directors.” Williams also followed with a career in dancing “I went to Las Vegas after FPKK to dance in a show at Caesar's Palace. I then went to Italy to do a few movies so wasn't really around for Russ's movies. He did try and get me for Beyond the Valley of the Dolls , but I was already committed.” Haji was the only member of the gang to continue working with Meyer, she appeared in Good Morning and Goodbye , Beyond the Valley of the Dolls and Supervixens as well as working with the likes of sleaze merchant David Friedman in Ilsa, Hareem Keeper of the Oil Sheiks and John Cassavetes in The Killing of a Chinese Bookie “My favourite director was Cassavetes, he was always a gentlemen, he made me very comfortable with improvisation. He was ready to use me again and then he died, that was a very sad day for me”
With talk of the girls getting together for two films, Kill kitty Kat Kill and Vixen Highway we may well see the girls together again but they will always be remembered as the kittens with the sharpest claws in Faster! pussycat Kill Kill!

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Go Baby Go! - The making of Faster Pussycat Kill! Kill!

I am also researching a book on the classic Russ Meyer film Faster Pussycat Kill! Kill! I have interviewed the three stars Tura Satana, Haji and Lori Williams and am trying to locate more members of the cast and crew. Obviously Meyer has sadly passed away but it is still a project I would love to complete.

If anyone has any information, contacts or promotional materials that they think would benefit the book please do not hesitate in contacting me.

Under Andy's Shadow - The Life and Films of Paul Morrissey

I am presently researching a book on director Paul Morrissey entitled Under Andys Shadow: The Life and Films of Paul Morrissey. I am collecting together interviews, promotional materials and information on Morrissey and the Warhol Factory scene.

I have already spoken to a wonderful group of people including Mary Woronov, Gerard Malanga, Holly Woodlawn and Morrissey himself as well as conducting e-mail interviews with Billy Name, Ultra Violet and others.

If anyone has any information or contact details that they feel may of interest please do not hesitate in contacting me.

Latest News - Feb 2005

I have begun contributing book reviews for Australia's Metro Magazine. I will also be writing a major article entitled Tarantino and the Re-invention of the Martial Arts Film for the magazine later in the year. Interviews with Son of The Mask producer Erica Huggins and visual effects producer Susan Macleod will follow on from my Jamie Kennedy interview in Starburst #321. A brief chat with Kennedy also features in next months Filmink. My House of Wax set reports will soon begin to appear in Shivers and Starburst.

Latest New - Jan 2005

My recently published articles include an interview with Paul Morrissey in the latest issue of Filmink to tie in with the Force Entertainment's DVD boxset and my regular columns in Internet AU. Overseas a report on my set visit on Son of The Mask at Sydneys Fox Studios will be appearing in issue number 321 of Starburst including an interview with star Jamie Kennedy. Talking of set visits I'll be heading to Melbourne soon to interview the cast and crew of Ghost Rider starring Nicholas Cage and John Voight. I'll also be visiting the set of an independent horror film set in Sydney called I Know How Many Runs You Scored Last Summer; I'll keep you posted.