Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Video of the day (Säkert - Fredrik)

One of my most highly anticipated albums of 2010 is the 2nd album from Säkert. It is called Facit and is due for release on 15th September. If the first single is anything to go by it should be great. Now, if only Annika could make some more Hello Saferide songs as well.

Beautiful song, beautiful video. That's all that needs to be said really.

Säkert on myspace

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

The Centerfold Girls

The Centerfold Girls / USA 1974 / Directed by John Peyser

"Killing me won't do any good. There are lots of pretty girls in the world. You can't kill the whole world"

This is the desperate plea for mercy offered by one of the victims in The Centerfold Girls, John Peyser's severely underrated 70's slasher. She makes a fair point, but psychopathic killers aren't really known for their willingness to reason. This really is a film that deserves to be seen. On the surface it may not seem that exciting; a male psychopath killing pretty girls is hardly an original concept when it comes to slasher films. But Peyser's film is so much more than that and will keep you intrigued (and baffled) from start to finish. It's safe to say that some serious thought has been put into the cinematography. The film is both beautifully and unusually photographed, making constant use of unconventional camera angles and movement to keep the viewer visually entertained at all times. What we get are the kind of expressionist camera angles that are often used excessively by young film students only to be abandoned as they get more serious about the craft. It should be annoying, but here it just works. It does take a while to get used to, however, and you have to convince yourself that it's not just a cheap gimmick to make up for the admittedly thin plot. But, stick with it and it just makes the film a pleasure to watch. As expected from a film called The Centerfold Girls, there is also plenty of flesh on display.

The casting is also pretty spot-on, especially Andrew Pine and his extremely creepy performance as the depraved, but oh so stylish killer, Clement Dunne. Looking more like a 60's hipster in his smart slim-fit suit, black and white brogues and Beatles-style shag haircut, it's no wonder that he manages to get so close to his victims. In the real world you'd never suspect him on anything. Of course, as viewers we know from the start that he is severely messed up and on some sort of religious crusade to rid the world of filth, but it's hardly surprising that he gets to inhabit the world of the film without arousing suspicion.

There are always things that don't make sense in horror films and The Centerfold Girls have its fair share of oddities, or just elements that are bit badly thought out. For example, the killer's 'Centerfolds of the year' magazine is designed in a way so that you get one girl on each page. When the killer is "finished" with one victim and symbolically cuts out her face from the magazine, he automatically cuts out the girl in the next month as well. He then moves on to the next girl with an intact picture in the magazine. So, Miss January, Miss March, Miss May become victims, while Miss February and Miss April gets away. Letting the layout of a magazine determine who deserves to die seems a little lazy and does make one doubt his "reasons". This is even the case in the promotional posters (see above) where February and April are left out.

There's also a rather confusing and almost experimental second act. It is told in images from the present, as Dunne breaks into a house where his next victims are sleeping. The soundtrack, however, is taken from a later portion of the film and goes on for quite some time. It is a strange technique and from just one viewing I'm not quite sure of the intended effect. Personally, I spent most of this part wondering if there was something wrong with the soundtrack.

But these are all minor irks and just make the film more mesmerising. Despite its flaws, The Centerfold Girls is simply quite awesome. It's sleazy , gritty, disturbing, confusing and beautiful at the same time. It doesn't always make sense, but who cares?

The Centerfold Girls on imdb

Tuesday, 24 August 2010


Psychomania (aka The Death Wheelers) / UK 1973 / Directed by Don Sharp
I don't know what I expected from a film that had been described to me as a British biker-zombie movie, but Psychomania is, well, a bit weird. Set in an unnamed British town (apparently it was filmed in Walton-on-Thames) in the 70's it follows a young biker gang, who are calling themselves The Living Dead. They wear helmets/masks with skulls on them and cause all sorts of havoc on their bikes, riding round cemeteries, scaring the crap out of the locals and annoying the police. So far, so good. That's the kind of behaviour you'd expect from a teenage biker gang. But, then there's Tom, the gang's leader. He's a handsome young man with a pretty girlfriend, but he also has an unhealthy obsession with death and a mother who dabbles in the occult. To cut a long story short, his mum basically tells Tom that if you kill yourself without being scared of dying, you will not only return to the land of the living, but you will also be invincible. Tom's father apparently tried, but didn't believe strongly enough, so he just died. This of course sounds perfectly reasonable to Tom and his friends, so they start killing themselves in all sorts of crazy ways. And then they return. The Living Dead! See what they did there? If there's anything worse than a bunch of loud idiots on motorcycles, it's a bunch of invincible idiots on motorcycles. Apparently, if you're gonna be invincible, you also have to be mean, so they up the ante a bit. They ride their bikes through supermarkets, running over prams and things.

The only one with the knowledge and powers to put an end to the mayhem is Tom's mum, but that will mean sacrificing her son. The drama! Oh and then there's Tom's pretty girlfriend, who decides she doesn't want to commit suicide, something which doesn't go down so well with the rest of the gang. It's all perfectly enjoyable, but also more than a little baffling. Fair enough that the people become invincible, I can buy that…but the motorcycles? There's a scene where Tom says: "I've always wanted to drive through a brick wall" and then he does. He survives and the bike is also left without a scratch. I don't know much about motorcycles, but I imagine driving one through a brick wall would at least damage the bike a bit. Anyway, I suppose it's not a documentary. So, what is it? I think that is the film's main flaw. It doesn't quite know what it is. You get horror elements next to slapstick comedy, a pinch of occultism and some scenes that are purely for bike fans to drool over. It is an odd mix, but somehow it kind of works. It never gets boring anyway.

So, despite all its flaws Psychomania is a lot of fun and well worth a watch.

Here's a clip.

Psychomania on imdb

Saturday, 21 August 2010

A new Allo Darlin video is on the way

It's very exciting picking up developed super-8 footage. I don't really have a clue when it comes to this type of film, so it's always (touch wood) a surprise when things turn out nicely. I picked up the footage for the next Allo Darlin' video the other day. It's for If Loneliness Was Art and could've been done by now if it wasn't for the lab messing up the scan. They scanned the film at 24 frames per second rather than the 18 fps that it was shot in, so the whole thing looks a bit Benny Hill.

But, but...the good news is that the footage looks quite pretty. While I wait for the film to be re-scanned, here are some screenshots that may or may not appear in the finished video.

Monday, 16 August 2010

Gig flashback - Help She Can't Swim (18th March 2006)

A conversation on twitter (with Eddie from the lovely Another Form Of Relief blog) just made me re-visit my old photo bucket account. I re-discovered Help She Can't Swim the other week, especially their brilliant first album Fashionista Saper Dance Troupe. I knew I had taken photos of them at some point and while harddrives have died, computers have been thrown out and/or updated and photo-CD's have been lost over the years, my old photobucket account remains...a bucket full of memories if you like. I have no idea why I uploaded such small versions of the photos at the time, but that's all there is.

Help She Can't Swim - live in-store at the old Rough Trade in Neal's Yard on 18th March 2006.

It was cramped, sweaty and completely awesome.

What can I say? Fermez la fucking bouche! The band broke up in 2007, but Tom still makes music under the name Lonely Ghosts.

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Oh the horror!

When I was a teenager I was into horror films big time. My opinion was usually the gorier the better, so naturally I drifted towards the not-scary-but-really-messy side of the genre. Top of the list were films like Braindead or anything made by Troma Studios (The Toxic Avenger, Tromeo and Juliet etc). Then, at some point during university I lost interest in the genre and started obsessing about "normal" low-budget indie films instead. Thinking about it, I hadn't really gotten any sort of kicks out of a horror film for many years. Modern horror flicks just don't do it for me. I really have zero interest in watching the Saw or Hostel films. Then, just the other week, I picked up a book in Waterstones entitled Nightmare USA: The untold story of the Exploitation Independents and that's been my bed-side reading for the past week or so. As a result of reading this awesome book (just the size and weight of the thing is seriously impressive) I've been watching nothing but low-budget horror/exploitation movies from the 70's and 80's all week....and I've been loving it. Here's a bit of a round-up.

Savage Streets / USA, 1984 / Directed by Danny Steinmann
I had never heard of Savage Streets until I came across the DVD in a shop in Sweden the other week. I'm really glad I did, cause it's a surprisingly well-made and thoroughly entertaining little film. As usual with these types of films there's not much plot to talk about, but the dialogue, camera work, even the acting is well above what you'd expect from an 80's indie rape/revenge thriller. It's even paced pretty well. Sure, it's sleazy and a bit rough around the edges, but that's to be expected and it would be disappointing if it was to slick. Linda Blair (of Exorcist fame) plays Brenda, one of the tough girls in school. When she and her girlfriends mess with the local drugdealers, they fail to see the funny side. They respond by raping Brenda's younger, deaf sister and also kill Brenda's best friend, just as she's getting ready for her wedding. So, yes, it's fair to say that Brenda gets a bit pissed off. Revenge time! It turns out Brenda is seriously good at kicking ass and is also an expert in the art of handling a crossbow. How she picked up this skill we'll never know, but I guess you shouldn't really question these things. Things don't always have to make sense.

So, yes, Savage Streets comes highly recommended. It's got plenty of action, alot of nudity and even an awful (yet amazing) cheesy new-wave soundtrack.

Savage Streets on imdb

I know it's a while to go and normally I wouldn't start watching Christmas films in August, but I spotted this in a Copenhagen video shop and just couldn't resist.

Silent Night, Deadly Night / USA, 1984 / Directed by Charles E Sellier Jr
It's hard to beat the cheap thrills of a well-made slasher film. SNDN is just that, but with a bit of a difference. Here, the killer isn't some super-natural monster or an escaped mental patient wearing a mask made out of human skin. No, no, no...here's we get the symbol of goodness himself, everyone's favorite person, Santa Clause. Well, almost anyway. The plot is fairly standard. When Billy, aged 8, sees an escaped lunatic dressed as Santa killing his parents on Christmas Eve, he grows up with some serious yuletide-related issues. He fails to see the jolly side of Christmas, if you like. Fast forward ten Christmases of misery in an orphanage under the watchful eye of Mother Superior. Billy has just turned 18 and gets a job working in the store room of a local toy store. Everything is going pretty well until, well you know, Christmas time. The shop owner asks Billy to fill in for the in-store Santa and the shit really hits the fan. Billy makes it through the day, but as the store staff Christmas party kicks off, so does Billy. You really don't want to mess with Billy as Santa, cause armed with an axe he will probably put a ho-ho-hole in your face. There's some really grisly killings in this one, including one death by reindeer antler. You just have to see it. The nice nun who helped Billy get the job realises that something's wrong, but will she able to get help in time? Will she? Billy's eyes are set on the orphanage and his old "friend" Mother Superior. Great holiday slasher and well worth hunting down.

Silent Night, Deadly Night on imdb

Don't Go In The Woods / USA, 1981 / Directed by James Bryan
This film is mostly known for being one of the infamous video nasties and was banned in the UK under the 1984 Video Recordings Act. Having watched it, I can't really find any explanation or justification for the ban. Yes, it's violent and yes it's gory, but far "worse" films managed to escape the censors. There's absolutely zero nudity, which makes the ban even more surprising. Anyway, a ban is usually a good thing for horror films, provided that it gets lifted at some point. Thanks to being labelled a video nasty by the UK government, the film now enjoys cult status and will have reached a far bigger audience than the filmmakers could ever have dreamed of. As a fan of the slasher movie, I guess this is entertaining on a a very basic level, but it is far from a good film. It's never boring though. A crazy wild-man living in the forest is killing hikers. That's about it. We're not given any reasons for anything. He looks like a crazy wild-man and he is a crazy wild-man. He kills alot of people and eventually he is killed himself. Sorry to ruin the ending, but that's all there is to it. There's also some seriously shambolic acting, which in the end only makes the film more entertaining.

Don't Go In The Woods on imdb

Don't Look In The Basement / USA, 1973 / Directed by S.F. Brownrigg
This was a surprisingly creepy little film, with some plot twists that really caught me by surprise. A young nurse comes to work at a psychiatric hospital in the middle of nowhere. Unfortunately, the doctor in charge has just been killed by one of the patients, so things are a bit chaotic when she arrives. Another doctor helps her get settled and she soon gets into her daily routine, building up relationships with the various patients etc. But, let's just say that things are not as they seem at the hospital. Someone is stealing drugs out of the doctor's room and one of the patients have their tongue cut off in their sleep. And that's just the start! The DVD I watched was a terrible transfer, but the film provides some very uncomfortable viewing. Great acting from all the patients and the mega-saturated colours gives the film a very distinctive look. Recommended.

Don't Look In The Basement on imdb

Saturday, 14 August 2010

Video of the day (Best Coast - When I'm With You)

Everything about this song and video is just perfect.

Last night at the Wilmo

Just some phone mobile photos from last night. Hexicon were great as usual, we played a rather shambolic show and The Lovely Eggs were awesome. All in all a lovely evening.

Thunder Rains and Elizabeth


The Lovely Eggs

I do have some longer posts coming up with photos and tales of awesomeness from the Allo Darlin/Smittens European tour. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Some scandi-tour mobile pics

So, I spent last week on the road with Allo Darlin' and The Smittens. It was all very lovely and I'm a bit sad being back in cold and miserable London. It always takes some time adapting to "normal life" and I haven't quite settled into work and things yet. I took alot of photos, but haven't got round to developing them yet. Come to think of it, I haven't actually unpacked my bag yet. Anyway, this is a quick recap of the week consisting mainly of low-res pictures taken on my phone.

In Copenhagen, Bill Moustache found his new favorite poster.

Slutspurt! No you are! Really, this is most definitely only funny to a non-Danish-speaking person.

In Malmö we played in a cafe called På Besök (meaning 'on a visit' or 'visiting') and they had amazing artwork in their bathroom.

Awesome lamp!

They did not, however, have more than one mic stand, so Katie had to be like an indiepop MacGyver and save the day.

Mic stands are over-rated anyway.

Then we headed to Gothenburg....

...where Max Smitten joined Allo Darlin' on stage for duet duties on Dreaming...

...and The Smittens sported some unusual on-stage foot fashion. From left to right, that's shoes, socks and bare feet.

Eventually we made it to Stockholm, where Paul found some time for a quick snooze in a cafe.


David Smitten

Eventually it was time for The Smittens to head back home and for the majority of Allo Darlin to drive to Amsterdam, leaving just me and Bill in Sweden. The final Moustache show was at infamous punk venue Gula Villan in Haninge, just outside Stockholm.

Gula Villan backyard.

I met up with an old friend I hadn't seen for around seven years. He showed me this tattoo of the first "proper" drawing his daughter ever made.

It's an owl!! Pretty much the best tattoo ever!

Me and Bill had to get back into Stockholm, so we had to leave early. We left just as Tiger Tape (formerly Moofish Catfish) hit the stage.

Completely awesome as usual!

Another fun summer in Sweden. It really is a lovely place.