Wednesday, 16 May 2012


Hi all,

I've just started the painful move to my own domain. I've almost sorted all the posts from this year and am slowly working my way back. But, from now on you can find this blog on:

Hope to see you there and thanks for reading. Do let me know what you think...if it looks better, worse, works, doesn't work etc.


Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Cheryl 'Rainbeaux' Smith

Earlier this year I watched Jonathan Demme's debut feature, the women-in-prison classic Caged Heat for the first time. Afterwards I went on imdb to read about the cast, to see what else they'd been in etc. It's what I normally do after watching a film, especially after something as awesome as Caged Heat. It really is one of the better WiP films, with a really great cast. Clicking through the names I was really surprised to see that many of the leads were already dead, despite the film being less than thirty years old. Juanita Brown died at the young age of 30 and Cheryl 'Rainbeaux' Smith only made it to 47. Ella Reid died at the age of 55. Even the legendary Roberta Collins passed away relatively early at the age of 63.

But, it was Cheryl 'Rainbeaux' Smith's death that really resonated with me, I guess because she always looked so sweet and innocent on every film I'd ever seen her in anyway...a bit of a goofball with a sparkle in her eyes. So, I googled her name and started looking into what happened to that little blonde girl who never seemed to get any older.

Cheryl in Caged Heat (1974)

There's a not a huge amount of information available about Rainbeaux, but much of what there is has been collected on her "official" website This is mainly a text-based site, featuring a collection of pieces from friends, fans and acquaintances, along with a few photos, links etc. I'm not going to go into detail about her life. All I know I read on that website, so if you're curious I suggest you do the same. What's immediately clear is that hers is not a happy story. In short...after starting to make a bit of a name for herself in the mid to late 70's something went wrong. She fell in with the wrong crowd, disappeared from the movie world and spent much of the 80's and 90's battling a heroin addiction, going in and out of rehab/prison and sometimes resorting to prostitution or shoplifting just to keep going, eventually losing her battle with liver disease and hepatitis.

Looking back at her movies, it's difficult to imagine Cheryl that way. From the creepy and strange Lemora: A Child's Tale Of The Supernatural in 1973 to the erotic musical version of Cinderella in 1977 she always came across as so innocent and so...I don't know...proper? And that's even even true in her slightly raunchier films.

Lemora: A Child's Tale Of The Supernatural (1973)

Cinderella (1977)

Last night I watched Revenge Of The Cheerleaders (1976). Allegedly, when Cheryl was approached for the role by director Richard Lerner, she informed him that she was pregnant and as such probably not suitable for the role of a high school cheerleader. But, instead of moving on to the next pretty girl in line Lerner was determined to have her in his film and rewrote the script to feature a heavily pregnant cheerleader. I guess if Rainbeaux Smith wanted to be in your movie you made sure there was a part for her. As a result she spends most of the film in the background, looking slightly uncomfortable and out-of-place in a cheerleader's outfit with her pregnant belly. As she described the experience herself: "Here are these beautiful girls with all this energy and me waddlin' 'round like a fat duck"

Revenge Of The Cheerleaders (1976)

Revenge Of The Cheerleaders (1976)

This didn't mean she had a bad experience making the film. It was her favourite of her cheerleader movies. She made The Pom Pom Girls that same year and a couple of years earlier she had made The Swinging Cheerleaders, another raunchy addition to the genre and something she said she would rather forget.

The Swinging Cheerleaders (1974)

One of the last films she did was Gary Sherman's incredible Vice Squad (1982), where she has a small speaking part and is credited simply as White Prostitute.

Vice Squad (1982)

She has thirty acting credits on her imdb page, some of which saw her venture into mainstream territory. She was in two of the Cheech & Chong movies (Up In Smoke (1978) and Nice Dreams (1981) and also in Robert Aldrich's The Choirboys (1977).

I haven't seen all of her films, but there is always something special about her. She's just instantly likeable and always really fun to watch. Watch any of the ones mentioned above and you'll see what I mean.

Cheryl's star shines on and many of her films have gathered a cult following. Quentin Tarantino is a big fan and rightly so. She was an extremely charming and talented actress, who just happened to make some bad decisions. It's so easily done.

Someone should really do a Rainbeaux Retrospective. Now there's my suggestion for the next Scala Forever season.

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Not pretty at all....Poor Pretty Eddie (1975)

I'd been meaning to watch this for a while, but just never got round to it. I knew it was meant to be extremely bleak and I guess you just need to be in the right mood for that kind of thing.

Elizabeth 'Liz' Wetherly is a professional singer. With some time to spare before her next engagement, she decides to take a bit of road trip, get some space and just escape from it all.

Unfortunately, her car breaks down in a hick town in the middle of nowhere. She tries to get some help in a small diner/bar/guest house. This is where she meets Eddie, a wannabe country and western singer, with a slight resemblance to Elvis. He lives there with the owner/his mistress Bertha and the gentle giant Keno. I'm not quite sure what Keno is meant to be, some sort of caretaker perhaps?

Eddie and Bertha

Liz just wants some privacy while she's waiting for her car to get fixed, but Eddie has other plans. He becomes convinced that Liz has eyes for him and eventually he forces himself on her. She tries to report the rape to the local sheriff, but he is every bit as bad as Eddie.

It's a dark film, both in subject matter and in the way it is filmed. With no way out and no chance of help from any of the locals, Liz's only option is to 'play along', take the repeated abuse and wait for an opportunity to take her revenge.

Keno and Eddie

Poor Pretty Eddie is violent, surreal and very sleazy. It's interesting up to a point, as it at least tries to do something slightly different with an often used formula, but it's not a great film by any means. Many of the scenes are in truly bad taste and difficult to watch (rape scene inter-cut with random shots of dogs mating and children giggling anyone?). The whole thing is saved by a solid cast, who all do pretty well with what is at best an ok script. I guess you're not supposed to 'like' a film like's definitely an odd one, worth watching if you like your redneck-revenge-sleze....which it certainly delivers. And there's that legendary ending...which is every bit as surreal as it is violent.

As many of these films it did the grindhouse/drive-in circuit for many years and kept getting rereleased under a variety of titles. Here's a selection.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

What a, music and more music

I spent most of yesterday on the sofa recovering from what was a brilliant bank holiday weekend, only leaving the flat once to go to Tesco next door to buy food and shitloads of popcorn.

But, wow...I can't remember the last time I saw so many awesome bands in such a short space of time.

On Saturday I headed down to Brixton for the first day of The Oddbox Weekender. It was a great line-up, but I only stuck around for Fever Dream and Humousexual. They were both great!

Fever Dream


I left Brixton early to go home and drop off my own gear (I had been playing as well, you see). Then I headed over to Power Lunches in Dalston, where Trash Kit were playing a rare show. I love their album ALOT, but had never seen them live, so it was something I really didn't want to miss.

I've been without my proper camera for a month now, so apologies for all these terrible phone pictures. Somewhere in that red blur is a hazy outline of Trash Kit's drummer.

On Saturday it was time to do some Camden Crawling. I'd never been before and it always looked a bit horrible...but a friend was playing as part of a Fence Collective showcase, so I headed over to the Earl of Camden on Parkway. I managed to catch a glimpse of Rozi Plain, who was joined on stage by members of Francois & The Atlas Mountains and it was all very pleasant indeed.

Rozi Plain

Then it was time for The Pictish Trail to turn up the noise levels a notch and they were great....really good fun! It wasn't the best of venues or time slots, but they managed to pull it off.

Back on the tube to Islington and the Buffalo Bar for the second day of the Odd Box Weekender. We got there in time for The Middle Ones, who were absolutely brilliant as usual.

Then it was time for Martha, a pop-punk quartet from Durham, whose EP I've been listening to rather obsessively for the past month or so. Really, these guys are soooooo good. Great songs, great lyrics, really tight and just really nice people (which is always a bonus). They have an EP out and you cen listen to it below! And it! NOW!



Anguish Sandwich were up next. They also have a new EP out...and again, it's absolutely brilliant.

Anguish Sandwich

Finally, when I thought I couldn't handle any more music, it was time for Standard Fare. Those guys just keep getting better and better, which is quite incredible considering that they have been brilliant since the very beginning.

Standard Fare
Back to Camden...this time the Jazz Cafe (yes, really) and Rolo Tomassi. I'd heard a lot of good things about those guys, but maybe I had already reached my band limit for the day.

It's not really the kind of venue I feel comfortable in and definitely not one suited for that type of music. The bouncers threw out the first crowd-surfing kid before the first song had even finished.

We finished off the night at some Camden Crawl closing party at The Cuban Bar. It was all kinds of awful. We should have gone home.

That's all really. We made it home eventually, ears ringing and liver hurting.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Video of the day (Japanther - Come Back Home)

Another video from the band that just won't stop being all kinds of awesome.

Great song, beautiful video!

Do yourself a favour and buy Beets, Lime & Rice now...the yellow/orange vinyl is absolutely gorgeous as well (get it from Recess Records)

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Video of the day - This Many Boyfriends (I Should Be A) Communist

A few weeks ago I went up to Leeds to make a music video for the band This Many Boyfriends. It was a beautiful day, which was extra exciting since I was shooting it all on super-8.

We had a basic idea, but I wanted to keep it relatively loose. There's a fine line between being too organised and being too unprepared. I always feel it works best if you keep things a bit shambolic and just try to have fun. People enjoying themselves are so much more fun to watch than people deperately trying to look cool. And it's a music video. It doesn't have to make sense. So what if there's an accidental jump cut here and there. This happens more frequently when you're using super-8, especially if you don't have a shot list and don't write down what you've already shot.

A few hours later it was all done. Then the only thing you can do is wait. That's the horrible part, just waiting for two weeks. What if nothing comes out? What if there's something stuck in the camera gate?

Eventually, I got the film back and could relax. No problems, just beautifully saturated super-8.

You just can't beat super-8 on a sunny day. There's nothing quite like it.

(I Should Be A) Communist by This Many Boyfriends is released on seven-inch vinyl in May on Angular Records

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Bare Behind Bars (1980)

Bare Behind Bars is possibly one of the most insane Women-in-Prison movies I've encountered. It's just completely bonkers. Set in a Brazilian women's prison, we follow a number of inmates as they go about their daily business. This mainly involves having sex with other inmates or the prison staff or just anyone that happens to be available…oh and they take a lot of showers. There's not really any plot at all, apart from some sort of rivalry between inmates, resulting in some unfortunate stabbings. And eventually, when the inmates have had enough of the bizarre and sadistic treatment from the staff, they attempt an escape. The prison warden is a sex-obsessed lesbian, the prison nurse is an ether-sniffing loon bag (also sex-obsessed of course) who likes to eat watermelon in the nude.

With heaps of nudity and sex scenes that occasionally slips into hardcore territory, Bare Behind Bars is definitely not for everyone. But, it really is a weird one. The bizarre and completely over-the-top behaviour of some of the characters makes it difficult to take any of more horrible elements too seriously. The prison nurse is so loopy she wouldn't feel out of place in a Benny Hill clip. When she finally gets dismissed, her main concern is not being allowed to wear her nurse's hat again.

Bare Behind Bars is a completely mind-boggling experience.

The film is available uncut from Blue Underground on Region 1 DVD. It is available in the UK from Arrow Films, but this version of the film has had the hardcore snippets removed by the easily offended peeps at the BBFC (Details here).