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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

CREEPLINGS one-sider now available! ...radio fill-ins COMING UP (like a flowa), and a promising season in film. ...

My self-imposed exile continues, not very successfully mind you! People keep showing up, making me "do stuff"—not that I'm complaining—I love it!

So much to discuss here, so my approach is to take things on chronologically.... First and foremost, Prison Tatt's long-awaited debut vinyl from Creeplings is here! Click on the LP cover above for details, a track sample, and to purchase. Here's a favorite live clip of the duo from 2009 >>>






...in other news, My Castle of Quiet returns to WFMU's airwaves for a two-week run, filling in for Evan "Funk" Davies on July 3rd and 10th, 9-12 p.m. ET. Look for the 7.3 show to be an exemplar of things to come, should I make my intended future return to the WFMU schedule (read: Kosmische-Kosmische-Kosmische.) ...July 10th, on the other hand, will be a festival of live black-metal art, that genre-term stretched to its very limits, as the Crepusculo Negro / Anahuac Tour 2013 visits our studio (second time for both Arizmenda and Volahn), with very special guests, the oft-played and greatly anticipated Verglas, from Montréal. (See flyer above for the July 7 show at Saint Vitus Bar in Brooklyn.) More details on the broadcast, and Facebook event here.

On to the subject of film, a promising Summer and Fall of releases awaits us (trailers linked within)...

The combination of director Michael Winterbottom and star Steve Coogan has always been a winning one, and their The Look of Love, a Coogan star-vehicle based on the life of Paul Raymond (the UK's sort-of Hugh Hefner) seems loaded with both laughs and pathos; we'll see.

I'm all for Hollywood horror, if done right, and Insidious Chapter 2 has all the earmarks of an amped-up sequel to what made for swell, unpredictable entertainment the first time around.

On that note, James Wan's long-awaited The Conjuring, charting the early career of real-life ghost-hunter-psychic-demonologists Ed and Lorraine Warren has my fingers crossed. The Warrens have always commanded respect in the field, it's high time a film about them surfaced, preferably a documentary, but again we find ourselves in the "we'll see" dept.

Luc Besson's The Family, a comedy/drama about a witness-protection family relocated to France, starring Robert DeNiro, also looks promising. From Taxi Driver, to The King of Comedy, to Jackie Brown, to the modern day, DeNiro admirably reinvents himself and to this long-time fan is typically a pure joy to watch when at his best. Again, we'll see.

Most promising of all, to this viewer, are the following three: Fruitvale Station, produced by Forest Whitaker, and based on a true story that will hit close to any current or former Bay Area resident, about a man who was shot to death by police at the eponymous Oakland BART station in 2008. Something went very wrong that day, and hopefully this film will flesh out the story in the greatest-possible detail. Trailer and main site here.  

The Act of Killing, a documentary produced by Werner Herzog and Errol Morris that looks like an amazing piece of film, where Anwar Congo, the perpetrator of Indonesian genocide in the middle 60s, said to have overseen the killing of over 1,000 people, is asked by the filmmakers to "recreate" his many acts of torture and murder for their cameras, as shocking and bizarre revelations surface. This film got the rare "100%" on Rotten Tomatoes, and looks to be a stirring, gut-wrenching, and oddly colorful documentary like no other. Trailer here.

Lastly, prepared as I am to "forgive" Adam Wingard for the cock-up of VHS 2's first segment (see last week's post), his "Quack" entry in The ABCs of Death was pretty amusing, and I'm hopeful for his new feature, You're Next—it's getting good advance reviews, which could mean nothing—but the trailer is exciting/enticing, and the film has the added bonus of starring AJ Bowen (star of The Signal and House of the Devil), a personal favorite of mine in indie horror, as well as Joe Swanberg (V/H/S), and Amy Seimetz, who starred opposite Bowen in Wingard's great A Horrible Way to Die (2010.)




Looking forward to the next chapters in our radio journey, and thanks for reading.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Metal macht frei—like the swift lash of a Samurai's blade.

Here are some free, exclusive tracks from My Castle of Quiet friends to metal-up your day; the first, an Abysmal side-project, devoted to Mercyful Fate cover versions, Etaf Lufycrem—A mix of modern, edgy death touches dress up the classic "Into the Coven" >>>

Etaf Lufycrem - Into the Coven

You can still get the hot-as-fuck 2012 LP reissue of Abysmal's two demos, from '92 and '05, in the Prison Tatt distro—an outstanding death / thrash / black collision, sounding mighty with a remaster-for-vinyl from Pirates Press, self-released by the band.

Up next, a new track from Netherlands' Smoke-madman Kenneth vH, constantly reinventing himself, rigorously active in both the noise and extreme-black universes, also running the staggeringly quality-consistent tape label The Throat. Godsamme is K's latest raw-black guise, and he brings us a cover version from Haat - "Dood Aan De Christen," with added filth >>>

 Godsamme - Dood Aan De Christen

Smoke have a roaring one-sided LP, their swan song, coming up in the not-too-distant future on Prison Tatt.

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My week in film had its ups and downs, a very big "up" being Takashi Miike's 2010 Shogun-era period piece 13 Assassins. Having moved on from the intense, colorful insanity of brilliant early works like Ichi the Killer and the D.O.A. trilogy, Miike—another ultra-prolific genius who's constantly reinventing himself—brings us an epic, bloody tale of vengeance and honor, in flat, overcast hues—with lots of mud, blood, clouds and long journeys over land. Apparently a remake (orig. 1963), Miike easily claims this Samurai-Wild Bunch tale, with his own, unique intuitions of horror and the absurd, whilst keeping the overall presentation very traditional. though it's never boring or bogged-down. For more info on 13 Assassins, click on the screen capture up top.

13 Assassins rocked my week, making up for the relative disappointment of V/H/S 2.  For those who shared my enthusiasm for V/H/S (2012), that film was all about great story ideas, and a terrific over-arcing concept. Now a self-aware "franchise," V/H/S 2 generally suffers from a lack of those very smart and shocking ideas that made the first movie great. What do we have instead? (minor spoilers ahead) ...a prosthetic eye that can "see dead people," a truly tired retelling of the damned organ-transplant in film (an idea that goes all the way back to The Hands of Orlac (1924)), and audaciously featuring a little ghost-girl in pigtails, a white dress and church shoes. The very-welcome surprise of the first film was that it in essence avoided such horror clichés, "like the plague." ...And what next? Zombies. A very-predictable, rapid-spread living dead sequence. Need I say more? The producers saw fit to make the above-described the first two sequences in the film, a most-tragic proposition, especially to a jaded but always hopeful deep horror fan such as myself. The good news is that V/H/S 2 starts to pick up considerably from the midway point, with two very-impressive segments, that again remind us of how and why V/H/S the first was so dazzling: a Filipino tale that gets started in Jim Jones/Heaven's Gate territory, but rapidly moves on to pure insanity; an exploding guru, fully grown demon-birth, and some raucously hanging snot (the latter an over-the-top wink to The Blair Witch Project.) It's this Filipino short that carries V/H/S 2, and without it I would have been so restless as to not even finish watching, missing out on the truly scary, and very-cleverly-done alien abduction scenario that makes up the film's last big chunk. And here's an idea: this latter sequence, "Slumber Party Alien Abduction," is all shot on dog-cam (!), forcing the point of view to linger at human-calf height, one of those very smart touches that V/H/S 2 needs a whole hell of a lot more of. I have no doubt that if there is a V/H/S 3, it WILL be in 3-D, but hopefully will also overcome this sophomore slump of a sequel, that's generally starved for fresh, raw concepts.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

A Week of Fucked-up film and more ...

Tumbleweeds will not roll over this space, despite the absence of weekly My Castle of Quiet broadcasts. This blog existed before the radio show, and it was my enthusiasm and "branding" expressed here (with the acknowledgment that the latter, quoted term is a simply terrible word) that led up to my radio shenanigans in the first place.

Music first; three fire-hot, new releases graced our program last week, two on the Texas-based  Out-Of-Body Records; the new tape and digital album by Compactor, a festival of fuzzed-out beats, to enrapture your mind and challenge the elasticity of your neckbone, and the vision-questy clickfest Psychosexual Spiritual by house favorite OPPONENTS (Telepathic Times full LP by OPPONENTS drops next month on Prison Tatt, and promises to be a landmark release for both artist and label.)

The third new release worthy of singing about is a piece of 7" vinyl that finally brings together two of my favorite grind bands currently strafing the globe, The Kill (from Melbourne, Australia) and The Communion (their Prison Tatt one-sided LP, A Desired Level of Unease, is almost sold out from the label, with 4-5 copies remaining.) EP available on Fat Ass Records out of Poland.

With the understanding that I still love my metal, but am also effervescing over some lighter stuff as well these days, the great Desire Records, from Île-de-France, has released a swell compilation of neo-darkwave tracks by artists that will put you firmly back in the era of angular haircuts, b&w-photo heroin chic and films like Christiane F. and Luc Besson's Subway. Excessively retro? Without a doubt. A good overall listen, that features some great songs, which will assure you that the Dominatrix does in fact sleep tonight? Absolutely, yes. The highlight, without a doubt for me, is Linea Aspera's "Attica", with its "you're never gonna let me sleep" refrain. You may buy the reissued LP (300 press) from Desire, or stream / download the whole album at the embed below. >Desire Records' Twitter feed<


The second musical milestone I'd like to share here is the soundtrack to The Taint, a film that Todd Watson insisted I see, a labour-of-love gorefest of exploding cocks, crushed heads, funny dialogue and clever visual ideas. Director Drew Bolduc has an elaborate page of Taint-related merch to sell; love the t-shirts, posters and hand-painted, one-of-a-kind VHS editions (!), and the score m4a download is a steal, at a mere $5. Again we're back in 80s analog territory, this time mostly instrumental, with some very cool melodies/themes, and well worth checking out, especially if you're married to things like John Carpenter's score for Assault on Precinct 13 (which I am), and/or you love the overall sound, but the vocals on the previous embed make you cringe.
My friend Tracy Widdess, who also co-hosted our last weekly broadcast, stuck around for the week, sharing with me some amazing films, a few I didn't know existed, and some others I'd always wanted to see. She has incredible access, via a closed-server, online film-fanatic community, where just about anything you could think of from decades past is likely available.

First up, a riotously debauched sin-fest of a movie, the Swedish Breaking Point, from the same director that brought us the unforgettable Thriller: A Cruel Picture. Over-archingly better, depending on your need for female or male protagonists / antagonists, Breaking Point is the story of man who, at least temporarily, loses all touch with any sense of socially acceptable "moral" behavior, raping random women and hitchhikers, killing cops and mobsters, even hiding his cum-load in a sexy co-workers' morning coffee. Taken with more than a few grains of salt, it's the proverbial "wild ride," placed somewhere between drama and intense, unbelievable male fantasy.

Next, and very highly recommended, is Death Bed - The Bed That Eats, which I admittedly resisted for years, as the title and premise just seemed so ridiculous, but boy-oh-boy was I wrong! The 'net-wide lambasting of this film as "the worst film ever made" is completely unfair and unwarranted, especially with unintentionally appealing, artless fumbles like The Room out there. ... A voracious, evil entity, borne of a demon's tears (!) lives inside an antique bed, devouring any and all consumables that set upon its mattress—humans especially, in addition to the woebegone 70s "bucket" of chicken, bottles of wine, dogs, and of course the occasional necessary dose of pepto. While this may still sound silly, the film is a visual treat; colorful, dark and eerie all at once, with the added plus of a narrator—the departed spirit of a thinly veiled Aubrey Beardsley, trapped behind a painting, the death bed's eternal and snidely unwilling companion. The overall mood and visual palate of Death Bed - The Bed That Eats will bring to mind classic 70s films like Equinox and the Jean Rollin vampire features.

Next up, a film I'd been waiting years to see, the Japanese head-scratcher Violated Angels (1967; see screen capture up top), by director Kôji Wakamatsu, known, amongst other titles, for Go, Go Second Time Virgin, a film readily available on DVD, but in my view a lesser work. ...Angels uses the 1966 Richard Speck case as its jumping-off point—a nurses dormitory under siege from a single male antagonist, hell-bent on murder with no rhyme or reason—and reimagines those basic facts in a decidedly Japanese fashion, with shocking murders, minimal dialogue, pregnant, impressionistic pauses and image collage, and leaps back and forth from color to black and white. This man is tormented by beautiful women, we never find out exactly why, as almost nothing is explained or delineated, and the film itself is framed at beginning and end in still images of Japan's political unrest of the time. A triumph of understated Japanese exploitation film, up there with things like Naked Pursuit.

Lastly (though Tracy and I watched a great deal more, and I'm cherry picking here, by necessity) comes two great, disparate works of cinema by director Jerzy SkolimowskiThe Shout, a creepy, surreal tale of two parallel events—a cricket match on a hot Summer's day, and a weird, Bergman-esque power struggle at a country cottage between a sound artist (played by John Hurt), his wife, and a most-unwelcome and mysterious traveler, played to the very hilt by the great Alan Bates. Also by Skolimowski, the fantastic Deep End, a colorful, raucous sex comedy / tragedy, perhaps most famous amongst music fans for including the song "Mother Sky" by Can. I can't even begin to describe the rich palette, fast-paced dialogue, and hilarious scenarios that fill this film almost to the point of bursting, its situations all too funny and its tragedies all too real. Deep End is a cinematic masterpiece, and in an ideal world, should be as heralded as any great British-made film of the time, from O Lucky Man! to 2001: A Space Odyssey. That Deep End is not available on Region 1 DVD is nothing short of criminal.

For now, I leave you with this. My dear friend Doris, from Vienna, slicing a decidedly phallic obelisk with a Samurai sword. Gentlemen, cross your legs!

video

Friday, June 7, 2013

Let the blood-letting begin!

"For although Nepenthe has calmed me, I know always that I am an outsider; a stranger in this century and among those who are still men. This I have known ever since I stretched out my fingers to the abomination within that great gilded frame; stretched out my fingers and touched a cold and unyielding surface of polished glass." —H.P. Lovecraft, from The Outsider

"Through the grease-streaked windows of an all-night café, we watched the arrested get taken away; and the flickering neon stands ready to fuse, the wind blows away all of yesterday's news ... you're Better Off Dead if you haven't yet died ..." —Bernie Taupin

"Asteroooooiiiiiddd...coming in from the void!" —Jaz Coleman

Call it a healthy sense of self-hatred, but don't call it negative. At almost 49, an age where you're "better off dead," my impish, playboy youth, and happy-husband years all behind me, it's time to bash that ego in the back brain with a shovel, and wake up sometime later, dust myself off, and figure out what the fuck the next goddamn thing is going to be.

The playlist comments last night were overwhelming, a flood of heartfelt goodbyes, uproarious praise, and hopes for the future. It's very gratifying to know that, as listener blee put it, "MCoQ is an amazing labor of love, the time you put into this program really does shine." Yep, it is, I do, and it does, so thanks for that. Every time I get that feeling that my life has been a miserable waste (happens less and less as I get older, btw) I'll look at this playlist page of comments, and remember.

Nothing lasts forever, and nothing deeply fulfilling is designed to last very long at all, not without growing, changing, becoming something else. You wouldn't appreciate it if it did. Or at least I wouldn't.

And so it was. ...
Psychic Limb crackled the air and fissured the earth with their mighty and succinct blast of a performance, and I couldn't ask for a more apropos guest for what I wanted to be a brief, yet impassioned, good-bye.

Thanks again to the band, and to everyone who commented on their set, wished me well, etc. I'll be soaking up the appreciation for years to come, be assured. ... We needn't stand on the pier too long; one of my goals for the future is to keep posts here more to the point, less head-scratchy and belabored. Besides, I'll be back sooner than expected, with two fill-in shows for Evan "Funk" Davies on July 3rd and 10th, 9 p.m.-midnight ET.

Watch this space for more information on those upcoming programs, as well as my other activities. And please remember, you can always contact me with comments, friendly hellos, music and film inquiries, whatever, at castle@wfmu.org.

Thanks for listening; you've made the show what it is, for art without an audience, especially on radio, just floats without a base station, and the Castleheads have been the most appreciative and generous landing field a creative person could ever ask for. Huge thanks to all the great musical guests and co-hosts who've adorned the My Castle of Quiet airwaves with their presence, talents, and good humor. Very special thanks to Frank Henenlotter! I'll be putting up direct links to all the Castle live sessions and other special programming here eventually. ...It's a solid four-year body of work, and I'm proud; 195 shows, all archived at that link three or four lines above, thanks to the good people at WFMU.

Click on the end card up top, to reach the archived audio, playlist and comments for last night's full-stop horrorcast™. The devil rides out, for now, and will be back before you or I know it.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

TONIGHT! My Castle of Quiet FINALE, with PSYCHIC LIMB, live! ...and special guest co-host Tracy Widdess!!

Hearing Psychic Limb's "Queens" (2011) is nothing short of a grind revelation, like the first time one hears Circle of Dead Children's The Genocide Machine, or Pig Destroyer's Terrifyer. The record is a sonic rollercoaster, pulling you forward in a thrill-ride of shameless intensity and gutsy human energy, a musical trip akin to poring through your first Bukowski novel. This band has flawless chops, and great songs to spare.

A live Psychic Limb appearance on My Castle of Quiet has been long in the discussion phase, almost didn't happen, but as fortune would have it, the band will be guesting on the last-ever MCoQ weekly broadcast, and I couldn't be happier to have a band of such great prowess escort our four-year run off of WFMU's weekly airwaves.

Also THRILLED to announce that MCoQ ultra-supporter Tracy Widdess, one of my dearest, closest friends, flew from NJ from BC to co-host the last show with me. Over the years, Tracy has contributed much music to show (she turned me on to Haare, for example) and has done almost all of the amazing photo-manipulations for the live-music posts. She also knitted my custom goat-demon mask, which I wore at the 2010 WFMU Hoof 'n' Mouth gathering. Here's her site, Brutal Knitting.

That gorgeous flyer, up top, designed by Casey Moore of Psychic Limb.

I endure the excruciating transformation from man into lycanthrope, one last time before being riddled with silver bullets, @ 12 midnight.
PL @ 12:30 a.m. approx.
WFMU 91.1 FM
WMFU 90.1 FM (Hudson Valley)
in Rockland County @ 91.9 FM
wfmu.org live on the Web, with real-time accu-playlist and message board.