Saturday, February 23, 2013

Sex, Death & Storytelling

I have just opened a FB group for my Sex, Death & Storytelling projekt. I won't "add" people to it as I will leave the option of joining up to you. Although I will welcome anyone with an open mind with open arms.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Stockholm Sex Report

Stockholm Sex Report
Original title: Rapport från Stockholms sexträsk
Directed by: Arne Brandhild
Sweden, 1974
Documentary/Mondo, 69 min
Distributed by: Klub Super 8

Mondo fans rejoice! You may know about Luigi Scattini’s Svezia, inferno e paradiso (Sweden: Heaven and Hell) 1968, but you have probably never seen Rapport från Stockholms sexträsk (Stockholm Sex Report), a smut fest that shows the real Sweden and it’s dirty, sleazy nightclubs, as they where in the early seventies. Just before the self-sanitation and clean up of several sordid areas.
Ok, so in all honesty Stockholm Sex Report was most likely shot with a documentary idea at its heart, but comes off as an exploitative curiosity relying on its sensationalistic content and a truly groovy, vinyl static ridden, soundtrack. It’s basically a series of lurid night club acts (think Bunny Yeager/Irving Klaw acts, but dirtier) where chicks strip down and shake their strut or hairy couples interact on stage, interwoven pseudo documentary footage telling of the many sex clubs in Stockholm, what goes on behind the closed doors, how the businesses are run, and what to expect during a visit. Pornographic comics and magazines are discussed, content and quality wise. Classified ad’s get a chapter and the obligatory tour of sex shops and all their kinky devices on display. There’s an interesting segment of where some geezer – possibly Brandhild - picks up prostitutes, drives them around Stockholm and candidly talks to them about sex trade of the day. The frank conversations become something of a fascinating interview and document of the oldest profession in the world, revealing what the prostitutes feel for their customers, what their ordinary life is like and how they emotionally handle the work. To some extent the narrative tries to give some kind of justification as the hookers come off as happy and content, and well off for dosh. One woman brags about her income and how she’s going to go buy a midnight blue Chrysler with a hard top. It’s possible that the dialogue is bogus and was written by Brandhild, but it’s certainly sleazy fare and one can only fantasize what a full fledged exploitation, or Swedish Sin film as they where to become know as, from Brandhild’s pen would have been like.
Arne Brandhild was a man of many talents. He was first and foremost a cinematographer who lensed stuff like Torgny Wickman’s Inkräktarna (The Intruders) 1975 and Ta Mig I Dalen (Girl on her Knees 1977 – both available from Klub Super 8), Ragnar Frisk and the Mats Helge Olsson produced Attentatet (Outrage 1980, which starred Christina Lindberg in one of her last roles before her twenty year absence from theatre screens).  He also edited several films for Mats Helge Olsson and Ragnar Frisk. But it didn’t stop there, he also wrote the script to Claes Fellbom’s Agent 0,5 och Kvarten – fattaruväl! But if’s mainly Brandhild’s camerawork and self made short films that make up his legacy if we where to designate him with one. There’s no real record of the amount of shorts he shot, but some of them are still around, and even one of them – Girlography, a 14 min short from 1986 where Brandhild cruises from inner city to archipelago of Stockholm checking out the chicks and sights – is included as a bonus on this release…
…and talking bonuses, holy fucking sleazebag, this disc is a treasure chest of filth, musky odours and sexy dancing. Funny loops, seedy reels and even a randy documentation of the nightclub show at the sex club Chat Noir. The short “Where the Action Is” was a strange souvenir film available to buy in the establishment after spending the evening watching live acts, stripteases and corny magicians to take home and watch at your own leisure. With this release you get Where the Action is a couple of Danish and Swedish stag loops, facsimiles of gentleman magazines of the time, an interactive map of the smut parlours of Stockholm, and the hilarious, Nana’s Christmas Cabaret, where strippers and nightclub dwellers sing Swedish Christmas carols.
Out now in Sweden, Rapport från Stockholms sexträsk (with a cover designed by yours truly) is obligatory viewing for Swedish sin and Mondo fans, or even those perversely curious to what really went on in the seedy underbelly of beautiful Stockholm in the seventies. English Subtitles in English are optional on this release, as they are on KlubSuper8’s other titles in this batch; Gunnar Höglund’s Vill så gärna tro (Want So Much to Believe) 1971 and a double shot of Mac Alhberg, Molly – Familjeflickan (Sex in Sweden) 1977 and Jag en Markis (The Reluctant Sadist) 1967.

As the tagline states: “Reveals all, shows all!” Get it here!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013


Directed by: Jon Wright
UK/Ireland, 2012
Horror/Comedy/Sci-Fi, 94min
Distributed by: Noble Entertainment

Tentacles are go! I love tentacle monster movies, and Grabbers is tentacles and aliens from another dimension galore. This is a real treat for fans of easy-going sci-fi with some laughs and sticky horror with a heart at the core.

On the remote Irish island, Erin Island, peace and calm is the way of the world. But then, and there’s always a but, something falls into the sea just off shore, something from another world. Three fishermen go missing when the unseen something attacks them from out of the water. A new day dawns, and Garda Lisa Nolan [Ruth Bradley] steps of the ferry to spend a two week vacation from her regular position as Garda in Dublin, only to be met by her, for a fortnight temporary colleague Garda Ciarán O’Shea [Richard Coyle]. O’Shea nursing a huge hangover as he’s a raging alcoholic takes her right out to the beach where a pod of stranded whales – with vicious lacerations – have been swept ashore. Marine Biologist Dr. Adam Smith [Russell Tovey] has no sane explanation for the lacerations or why the whales have died… but the audience has already started putting pieces together as they know from the initial attack that there’s something out there in the water. (But not for long!) Later that night drunken fisherman Paddy [Lalor Roddy] tells Shea of the strange beast he caught in his nets the night before, a monster that he has captive in his bathtub at home. Not much more need be said before Paddy get’s back to his home and is attacked by the beast. After stomping it to what he thinks is to its death, he takes it to Smith who calls in Nolan and Shea. When the creature comes back to life and starts lashing out at them, they know they have a problem on their hands… a problem with two dozen tentacles and an appetite for human blood!
Grabbers is a fine piece of sci-fi horror meshed with Saturday afternoon matinee a dash of comedy. It's not to scary, not too much sci-fi, not to schlocky and not to demanding of its audience. It’s an easy ride and gentle fare with some really outstanding special effects.

Playing by all the rules, the movie takes its time to set up the lead characters – even tossing in a red herring to explain certain of their traits, keeps the alien space monster off screen as long as possible and when it brings it on, oh my god what a beautiful sight! As far as CGI monsters go this one is a real delight, the design, the way it moves and the way it is used is top notch.
The comedy angle is subtle, and plays off prejudice that Irish are drunks. Well in this case it works to their benefit, as being drunk is what can save the inhabitants of the small island from being eaten by the alien. Interaction between locals is fun and despite all their flaws and motifs for animosity, there's a mutual respect and affection for everybody when push comes to shove.
There’s something of a classic rom-com subplot where Shea falls for Nolan more or less from square one, and talking about squares, his rival is found in stiff British marine biologist Dr. Smith. Obviously Nolan shines a keen eye to Smith and Shea finds himself in a position where he needs to develop as a character to gain her heart… which he does when he decides to quit his alcoholism in an act of nobility so that he can save his fellow villagers.
Richard Coyle is getting some interesting and cool parts these days after playing second fiddle for a long time. Central characters of versatility such as Wallace in Outpost: Black Sun, Frank in the Pusher remake, and Garda Clarán O’Shea in Grabbers. He’s come quite far since being the goofy welsh lad on Coupling, and hopefully we will get to see him progress with further great parts to come.

Grabbers, out on DVD from Noble Entertainment now, perfect for the weekend.

Movie News! [Kingdom Come]

Last year I had the pleasure of catching Greg A. Sager’s Devil Seed (The Devil in Me in the UK), a possession tale that has some really good moments of storytelling and pretty intense scares.

The last time I briefly talked with Sager late 2012, he told me that he was gearing up for his next movie, and as I enjoyed Devil Seed, we agreed that he’d keep me in the loop.

So here you go! This press release was just released from Matchbox Pictures.


LONDON, ON. February 19, 2013. With the success of Devil Seed under their belt, Matchbox Pictures is gearing up for principal photography on their next feature, Kingdom Come. Principal photography will begin on Monday February 25, 2013. The movie is about a group of strangers who wake up in an abandoned hospital and find themselves stalked by a supernatural force with sinister intentions. As they begin to question the coincidences that link their pasts, they soon realize that the decisions they make will seal their fates forever.
Filming will be taking place in a million square-foot location in the Southwestern Ontario area. “We were blown away by the offer to film here,” said Greg A Sager, director. “We were looking for the right amount of creepy – both visual and auditory – and this place has got it.” Filming will take place over a period of 30 days with the main cast for Kingdom Come shaping up perfectly. Ryan Barrett (Neverlost) and Camille Hollet-French (Making ‘The Domino Effect’) will be playing the lead roles of Sam Becker and Jessica Martin, respectively.
Other main cast members include Jason Martorino (Angela’s Eyes), Soroush Saeidi (Curious and Unusual Deaths), Jo Jo Karume, Chelsey Marie, William Foley, and Katie Uhlmann. Making her debut in the film industry with Kingdom Come is Elle O’Brien.
In addition to the stellar production crew, Matchbox Pictures will be welcoming students from Fanshawe College’s Advanced Filmmaking Program for the duration of the film shoot to provide valuable hands-on experience in the movie making industry. Fanshawe’s Advanced Filmmaking Program Coordinator, Adamm Liley sees this as a phenomenal opportunity for their students, “They’re getting the chance to take what they have learned so far in the program and apply it in the real world under the mentorship of industry professionals.” Gary Elmer, producer for Kingdom Come says Matchbox is happy to be collaborating with Fanshawe College, “The amount of things these students will see and do will give them an advantage as they go forward in developing both their skills and careers.”

Let the anticipation begin!

(And kudos to Matchbox Pictures for bringing students onboard to secure the future of genre cinema)

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Mr Bricks: A Heavy Metal Murder Musical

Mr Bricks: A Heavy Metal Murder Musical
Directed by: Travis Campbell
USA, 2011
Crime/Musical 71min
Distributed by: Troma

Musical… yeah, a musical, a heavy metal musical. I’m not much of a fan of musicals. Sure I’ll enjoy Rocky Horror Picture Show, Tommy, Phantom of the Opera (for it’s sheer gothic values) and even Grease because I love fifties/sixties music. But it more or less stops there… perhaps even The Sound of Music for it’s Nuns and Nazi angle which I definitely watch in a completely different way than my mom, but that’s about it.

When you take a step back and look at the titles above, it becomes apparent that they are all tied together through the horror/outsider angle that predominates the genre films I dig too. So when I had a chance to check out Mr Bricks – a movie that Lemmy says, “you must see this film” about – I gave it a shot.
 In short it’s a monster muscle man with something of a magneto helmet tattoo that covers his head, who smashes the skulls of his enemies whilst trying to find the woman he loves… well what’s not to dig?

Mr Bricks opens with a moment of initial violence when the namesake of the film, Mr Bricks [Tim Dax] awakes after being shot in the head at close range. Dazed on the dirty floor of an abandoned warehouse, as blood pulsates out of the hole in his cranium. He struggles to get up and grabs one of the red stilettos heeled shoes lying next to the filthy matrasses next to his bloody body. A series of black and white flashbacks recap the story so far for us, showing Bricks and his female kidnap victim who now is nowhere to be found. He breaks out in a song that is more or less a synopsis for the film we are about to see – “You can’t kill me, I’ll find you again!” And so starts Mr Bricks search for Scarlet, the woman he is so profoundly in love with that it keeps him at arms length from the realm of death.
Mr Bricks is basically a revenge flick with a triangle drama at the core. Mr Bricks Officer Carmine Dukes [Vito Trigo] and Officer Scarlett Moretti [Nicola Fiore] – Bricks object of desire. A triangular drama that comes bursting out with some serious moments of violence. After all, they call him Mr Bricks because his preferred weapon of choice are concrete bricks that leave a gooey mess when forcefully brought together with some poor victims head in between them. The revenge angle plays out in three different ways, Bricks revenge on Scarlet and Dukes for taking his love from him, Scarlet’s revenge on her captor Bricks, and Dukes revenge on Bricks for taking Scarlet away form him. Complex web, but it works when you get to know the characters and the motivation for their actions.
The narrative of Mr Bricks is an interesting one as it’s mixes classic straightforward dialogue, backstory told through flashbacks and several moments of hard singing to declare the emotions that the characters are feeling at the moment – and I have to say that some of these songs are really catchy bits. At the same time thats kinda what makes a musical a musical isn't it, sharing inner thoughts with the audience.

Bricks is driven by the Love he holds for Scarlet, the same love that gives him the power to seal up bullet wounds with a staple gun. When it all comes around it’s a noble cause, and in it’s own way also one that makes Mr Bricks a rather complex lead character. He’s still a badass bad guy, but his quest is one we can relate to – even if we perhaps wouldn’t kidnap the woman of our dreams. It’s all about dimension kids, and without dimension in characters, they mean nothing.
But that’s not all,  there is a last act reveal, a last act reveal that actually makes the narrative even more complex and gives a deeper, and stranger, insight into what more drives Bricks love for Scarlett. An insight that shakes things up a bit and may possibly be part of a set up for a sequel or even a prequel.

Using a love triangle, not necessarily a chosen one, but forced as we are dealing with kidnapping captivity and obsession, Mr Bricks is much more than your average love story.  I use the word love story as that’s basically what is at the core of the film, and it’s the same love that drives Mr Bricks, in some magical way it’s also what keeps him alive, despite close range shots to the head, to the body and knife rammed into his tender flesh on several occasions. From Scarlett’s perspective there’s a whole bag of emotions concerning her feelings for Mr Bricks, especially when she learns that she’s pregnant and has some delightful pregnancy nightmares.
The musical numbers bring something kind of unique flavour to the piece – I seriously believe that it wouldn’t have worked at all if the songs hadn’t been the forceful songs that they are, as the rawness f the songs pretty much work metaphorically to describe emotional states and feelings that you wouldn’t ever want to hear in dialogue, because a guy walking down a street singing how angry he is or a chick singing how repulsed she is would be completely crap in dialogue.                                      

A detail that popped out on the second viewing was that there’s a fucking awesome montage of Mr Bricks life passing him by just before the bullet shatters his skull. Details like that really earn movies points in my book.
I love the grainy gritty cinematography (I don’t know if it’s processed, but it looks great and this is the way I think of New York when I hear the words low budget indie cinema from the big apple. It’s no coincidence that Buddy Giovanazzo’s Combat Shock comes to mind) I’d call it, gritty low budget cinema with some rockin’ tracks which invite it’s audience to sing along, and who knows, this may just be a cult classic in the making!

Coming out of Troma one could expect Mr Bricks to be more of the novelty, schlocky, fun shit kicking kind, as something like Cannibal the Musical was or indeed as many of the films under the Troma banner. But Mr Bricks is a serious film, there’s no quirky comedy or fart gags, or witty innuendo dialogue. It plays for keeps and in it’s own universe it works really well. It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but despite that we need films like this, we need companies like Troma who dare give independent filmmakers a chance to get their stuff out there, and we definitely need independent filmmakers like Travis Campbell who dare stick to their guns and see their dream through.
This is what independent cinema is all about, telling a story in your own unique way, creating memorable characters, leaving an imprint and if we get a few catchy tunes along the way, then that’s a welcome bonus!

Mr Bricks: A Heavy Metal Musical is currently available from Troma on DVD 

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