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