Sunday, October 23, 2011
Thursday, October 20, 2011
The woman above is none other than Solveig Andersson. The stunning, intriguing and mesmerising Solveig Andersson. Now take a few minutes to look upon that face. Let it sink in. Absorb it if you will. Christina Lindberg and Marie Liljedahl in all respects, but for me the only real star of the Swedish Sin movies is Solveig Andersson.
I haven’t really read that much, and heard even less, about Solveig more than the few times she’s mentioned in interviews given by others about the genre.
Andersson dreamed of breaking through and becoming the next big Swedish star, which god knows she could have, but at the tender age of twenty-two she found herself cast in Torgny Wickman’s Eva – Den Utstötta 1969. This part led to other parts and if I where to list the quite frankly moderate list of movies she starred in you will see that Solveig starred in Bo A. Vibenius Thriller – en grym film (Thriller - a cruel picture) 1974, Arne Mattsson's Smutsiga Fingrar (Dirty Fingers)1973 and Torgny Wickman's Kyrkoheden 1970, Eva - den utstötta (Eva, Everything but legal), Ur Kärlekens Språk (Swedish Marriage Manual), both 1969, and my all time favourite Swedish exploitation flick, Skräcken har 1000 Ögon (Sensuous Sorceress) 1970, which I still demand an uncut version of by the way, and frequently panicky regret ever loosing that uncut vhs I had two decades ago.
If you know stuff about Swedish genre, then you will know that several of those titles above easily qualify as entries on some kind of top ten list.
Andersson left the movie business after finding faith in the lord. Now normally I would laugh that off, but in Solveig’s case, it’s so damned fitting. The main ingredient that draws me towards her movies and characters is that I find them and her to be the same person. I don’t really think there was that much difference between the woman and the characters she portrayed. There’s sadness and a frustration in all her characters. It’s almost as one can see the desperation in those blue eyes. As said, Solveig really dreamt of being a star, but sadly – probably due to her starring in the movies that she did – never really made it.
Despite never breaking out into the mainstream and becoming that shining star she dreamt of, there is some poetic justice in the fact that she apparently found her way in life and the few movies she did leave behind, have become cult classics on their own. So in some weird way, Solveig Andersson did become a star, and in my book the brightest shining star of them all.
Now get thy self off thy ass, and grab this smoking compilation of music from the movies you know and love as The Swedish Sin!
Monday, October 17, 2011
Now I’m not going to waste your time telling you about these smutty little movies or divulging into some pseudo analysis of narrative and characters, because that’s not gonna happen, despite how interesting it might have been. Instead, I’d like to tell you about these smutty little movies and why they should be part of your collection.
Naked Scandinavians, funky soundtracks, pristine restored prints, come on it’s fun!
If you like movies in the Swedish Sin fold, then these will be right up your street. Not only is Ta mig i dalen (Girl on Her Knees) 1977 the last of Swedish sexploitation king, Torgny Wickman’s movies - his importance is so understated in the annals of Swedish history - but it’s also a movie that shows the break between kinky soft sexploitation and the start of the deep end. One frisky take on the ways of life on a farm. Think Emmerdale with a healthy lashing of shagging, Yes Emmerdale and shagging, because Chris Chittell, who plays Eric Pollard in British countryside institution Emmerdale Farm since 1984 to now, starred in Ta mig i dalen as Richard.
Chittell appears under the stage name Charles Canyon that he used on all three of the Swedish blue movies he starred in. Ta mig i dalen was the second for Wickman - the first being The Intruder (Swedish Sex Games) against eminent stars such as Stellan Skarsgård in 1975, and Mac Ahlberg’s Molly (Sex in Sweden) 1977 against Marie Forså and Eva Axén… yes the same Eva Axén who get stabbed in the gut in the start of Dario Argento’s Suspiria 1977. See the Swedish Sin is our version of Six degrees of Kevin Bacon, everything in Sweden connects back to the Sin flicks.
Fans of doe eyed starlet, Christina Lindberg, might want to give Swedish/Danish co-production Nyckelhålet (The Keyhole) 1974 a gander, as the leading lady of that movie, Marie Ekorre, is definitely a worthy competitor for the title of queen of Swedish Sin, and here in her first leading role. You may have seen her in bit parts in Arne Mattsson’s still missing from a decent release masterpiece, Smutsiga Fingrar (Dirty Fingers) 1973, or Mac Ahlberg’s Jorden runt med Fanny Hill (Around the World with Fanny Hill) 1974, in which she co-starred as a fashion model with none other than Ms. Lindberg.
I’m happy to see distributor KlubbSuper8 return from a lengthy hiatus, as they are an important part of preserving Swedish cinematic heritage – come on, there’s so much more to Swedish cinema than Ingmar Bergman, and if you are a frequent reader you will know that I hold no grudge to Bergman and the fantastic legacy he left us with, but I do have issues with the shadows he casts upon the rest of Swedish cinematic history.
But where the spotlight really should be directed on these current releases is that the new titles – unlike the previous releases – all have English subtitles so that fans of Swedish Sin outside of Sweden can enjoy the dialogue too! But that’s not all, because if you take the time to go through the extra features, you will find, rare press materials, production documents, short movies, tons of trailers, and deleted scenes! Who the hell seeks out deleted scenes from an old skin flick? Yes, the dedicated troops of KlubbSuper8, and that's the kind of enthusiasm that I can admire!
The release of Ta Mig I Dalen is something of a treasure trove of lost material as they have also assembled the remaining material of Wickman’s never completed 1975 film Drömdoktorn (The Dream Doctor). After finding Wickman’s original shooting script and the uncut original negative, KS8, have reassembled the movie, which was discarded when the camera broke after 70% of the movie was in the can. This painstaking feat took two years of hard work to reassemble, and bring to life. Think about that the next time you rush through the special features on your discs, there’s someone who’s dedicated hours of hard work to get that on there. But it doesn’t stop there, because there’s also three tracks composed by George Riedell and Janne Schaffer.
Nyckelhålet also has its share of extras, not only a remastered version but also enclosed is a shoddy dodgy American grindhouse version complete with trashy film grain and shoddy tracking distortions. But keep in mind friends this is the real deal, no contemporary digital effects tampering, but authentic trashy grindhouse quality. And to make your acquaintance with Ms. Ekorre more pleasurable, there’s the gallery of her gentlemen magazine photographs for you.
Among the last batch of releases you can also find Blåjackor (Sailors) an Arne Mattsson musical from 1964, Bengt Blomgren’s moral dilemma drama Hällebäcks Gård 1961 (with the recently deceased Sif Ruud) where modern technology and lost love cause serious problems on the farm… without people shagging each other.
Finally the last release of this batch is another lost movie salvaged by KlubSuper8, Arne Ragneborn’s presumed lost forever anti-drinking propaganda movie Paradiset from 1955. On the bonus features here’ you’ll find interviews with colleagues, friends and co-workers who discuss just what a badass Ragneborn really was. Of the five movies he directed the most of them ended up being banned as they all dealt with topics like violence, criminality and the ever-popular Swedish pastime alcoholism… you have seen Luigi Scattini’s 1968 documentary Svezia, inferno e paradise (Sweden: Heaven and Hell) haven’t you?
Now for overseas or, “utanför tullarna” readers, I can see that this might be a tad on the narrow side even for you (not the skin flicks of course), but if you do live in Sweden then you should be picking these up anyways because these movies all have a part to play in our cinematic heritage, and if nothing else we should support KlubSuper8 as they have some really interesting titles hidden away for future releases, and we don’t want them vanish before the Dante movie or those fantastic Calvin Floyd movies are released now do we?
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Monday, October 10, 2011
Original Title: Proie
Directed by: Antoine Blossier
For a guy who doesn’t really like monster animal attack movies, I managed to hit the jackpot as I surprisingly saw two giant wild pig flicks in the same weekend.
One of them, James Isaac’s Pig Hunt (2008), was definitely worth the watch and took a not too original humoristic approach to the material, spicing up the narrative with not only monster boar’s but also stereotype Deliverance hillbilly’s… Antoine Blossier’s Proie (Prey) on the other hand is all about being serious. There’s no room for gags, nods or ironic dialogue, this is all dark, brooding and terrifyingly grim in it’s horror come social commentary bout with the gigantic boar.
Nathan [Gregory Colin] and his pregnant wife Claire [Bérénice Bejo] have just spent a weekend in the countryside at her family home. On the morning of their planned departure, something attacks deer’s in the woods and Claire’s father Nicolas [François Levantal] arrives with some urgent distressing news. The men of the family, Nicolas, his brother David [Joseph Malerba] and their father Eric [Fred Ulysee] all pack up to chase after the wild boar that is stalking their lands, and Nathan reluctantly get’s dragged along. But what starts out as a seemingly easy pig hunt, will soon shift from a hunt to a fight for survival… and the boar’s are not the worst enemies in the woods.
As said earlier, I’m not much of a fan of animal attack movies, but sometimes I do get round to watch them and sometimes they are worth writing a few lines about. I primarily picked up Prey as it was a French flick, and I’m really enjoying the French genre films, and this is very much their take on the wild animal genre, but with that sinister dark European tonality to it all.
The movie starts with an initial attack to set the mood frame. The mystery of the woods is presented when a pack of deer have died as they tried to escape over the electric fence surrounding the Leman land. The huge boar tooth that David finds gives him logic reason to brag about his hunting skills and talk about the size of the boar hiding somewhere out there. It get’s the movie off the ground before the subplot is presented.
There’s an interesting life and death theme running through the movie, especially reflected in the pregnancy of Claire and how both she and her father react to the news when then need Clair to go back into the chemical plant and sort things out. The life of her unborn child is not as important as her loyalty to her father. This is something that her father points out to Nathan several times whilst they are in the woods, and as the movie climaxes it becomes painfully obvious that he was right.
Part of the trick to making me enjoy this movie was in the fantastic subtext. Making everyone around Nathan a complete bastard, yes, even his beloved pregnant wife, the audience obviously empathize with Nathan. He’s the one who reacts to the fact that their unborn child will die if Claire goes back into the chemical plant.
The relationship between Nathan and Claire’s dad, Nicolas, is ingenious, and an important ingredient to making this movie much more than just a “monster in the woods” flick. The tension between the two men is indicated early on when Claire and Nathan talk about their unborn child and when they should tell Nicolas. Nathan makes a small joke about his father in law now officially finding out that he’s been sleeping with his daughter, and there’s unease in the air. This tension is apparent whilst Nicolas reluctantly brings Nathan with him into the woods on the pig hunt, and is amplified when Nathan confronts Nicolas about Claire’s pregnancy and the effects working in the chemical plant will have on it. The two men more than dislike each other and setting them together in a stressed situation with loaded weapons is fascinating as it creates a threatening atmosphere the audience awaits snapping.
You could actually say that Prey more or less is a French version of Spielberg’s Jaws, but set in a forest with a wild boar instead of at sea with a huge shark. Thematically there’s the “misplaced man” trait Chief Brody [Roy Schneider] and Nathan are the same kind of character, both forced into a situation that they have no control over. Brody is terrified of the sea and all that goes with it; Nathan doesn’t like the woods and can hardly handle the hunting rifle he’s handed. They are both in a threatening location, beyond their control. In both movies, a large beast is killed, an uncomfortably large beast but still not the one they are searching for. The big one is still out there.
Both movies keep the monster off screen as much as possible. Sure, Jaws may have been the result of a faulty machine, but keeping it off the screen makes the threat so much more intimidating. Just like the big wild boar in Prey, the less the audience see of the monster, the more their imagination will fill in the blanks and obviously come up with the most terrifying wild pig ever…
The special effects are rather impressive. Not only the recurrent gore, but also the animal effects are really effective and never once do I catch myself thinking “that’s only a puppet”, not even when the band of hunters come upon the rotting carcasses that are found strewn around the lake which is obviously contaminated.
Yes, there is a subtle message in here too. A message to take care of our planet, and not to pollute the fuck out of it. The referents to Jean Rollin’s Les Raisins de la Morte (Grapes of Death) 1978 are not to far away; both movies use the same basic idea, don’t fuck around with nature, and take care of mother earth. Don’t pollute her, because if you do, she will fuck you up bad.
Thursday, October 06, 2011
The very sad news on the passing of the patron saint of Turkish cult Cinema enthusiast Vassilis “Bill” Barounis just reached me a few hours ago. I’m still trying to compute it, despite subconsciously understanding that this moment was rapidly crawling its way closer, I was really hoping for a last minute miracle. Bill was a man I associate with miracles, given the many tales of last minute escapes and haunting curses he believed where laid upon him.
Years ago, when I was a young man… yeah like twenty years ago or so in the decade we called the nineties, I used to work at an underground shop that specialized in distributing uncut videotapes. The old letter and a few quid for a catalogue of ex-rentals to Greece was one of the cornerstones of that business. Three men made it possible, Cordas, Alex and Vassilis. I never made the connection that Bill was the same Vassilis until late last year after several years of talking to Bill and his Onar Empire, buying a lot of movies and constructing several advertisements. I questioned his email as it had a similarity to one of the old Greek tape distributors used to have, and the connection was made all over again.
I will always remember Bill with a smile, no matter how down he was, no matter what fate tossed in his face and no matter how beat he seemed, he always came back with an even bigger smile and even more enthusiasm. He'd take a beating, but he never let it break him.
I’ve mentioned before that Bill even offered to go visit my father earlier this year after he took ill during holiday in Athens. This is the way I will remember Bill. The guy who swallowed the hard times and pushed on through, and could offer friendship to people he didn’t even know. If you liked movies, then Bill was your friend, and today I feel that I lost a really good friend.
The world is one eager enthusiast poorer. A re-animator of curiosities we otherwise never would have seen, a warrior of lost cinema, a Pantheon of Yesilcam knowledge. Cineaste heaven just got a whole lot richer, and their movie nights will be so much better now.
Rest in Peace Bill.