Friday, August 31, 2018

"The Crows are Laughin." Visiting Two SCARECROW Filming Locations

Last month I spent my final day, of one of the saddest years of my life, in a city I had grown to despise visiting two shooting locations of one of my favorite films...Jerry Schatzberg's magnificent 1973 work Scarecrow.  I had been meaning to visit these two spots since I had arrived in Denver nearly two years ago but this particular morning, still reeling from the news that my marriage of eight years was unexpectedly ending, seemed fitting.  "Guess what I'm a scarecrow" but the crows hadn't been laughing at me in Colorado only attacking...

What was once the Turk's Supper Club at 539 West 43rd is still standing...abandoned but I felt the ghosts of Hackman and Pacino as young men everywhere around me as I photographed the building.

The house where Max and Lion briefly stayed, at the second location at 4256 Elati Street, was long ago demolished.  In its place sits a depressing and ugly industrial storage unit...reminding me only of Trump's terrifying and bullshit once United States.  After snapping a few photographs I hopped in my car and left behind the life and future I thought I had forever.
I hope to never return to Denver again.

-Jeremy Richey, 2018-

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Frankie Teardrop Lives! Buddy Giovinazzo's COMBAT SHOCK on Blu-ray

"Frankie teardrop
Frankie put the gun to his head
Frankie's dead
Frankie's lying in hell
We're all Frankies
We're all lying in hell."

-Alan Vega, Martin Rev-

An absolutely stunning release from Severin films, the new Blu-ray edition of Buddy Giovinazzo's grueling 1984 masterpiece Combat Shock is perhaps the great archival release of 2018 amidst very stiff competition.  Limited to just 2000 signed copies, that are already out of stock at Severin, this new version of Combat Shock restores Giovinazzo's mesmerizing vision to his original American Nightmares director's cut in a package filled with hours of essential extras that put recent releases by the likes of Criterion to shame.  

The release history of Combat Shock should be fairly well-known to most fans of American independent cinema but a quick overview goes like this.  Buddy Giovinazzo was a student filmmaker from Staten Island when he began shooting his self-funded feature film debut, under his preferred title American Nightmares, in 1984 with family, fellow-students and friends.  After some early screenings, the film was picked up by Troma and retitled the more commonly known Combat Shock.  While Troma should be applauded for picking up such an uncompromising DIY feature, they did cut many of Giovinazzo's most extreme moments and added in stock Vietnam footage in an attempt to capitalize on the namsploitation movement of the mid-eighties.  The cuts and new footage neutered the film but Giovinazzo's haunting story of a shell-shocked veteran collapsing under the weight of the 'American dream', on the streets of New York, still managed to resonate.  Audience members tricked by Troma's poster promising a Missing In Action/Rambo style picture were shocked into submission by the most harrowing vision of the horrors of post war trauma seen since the The Deer HunterCombat Shock was dismissed by most 'respectable' critics while being championed by the likes of the great Stephen Bissette and other underground writers who recognized its importance.  Despite Giovinazzo never being granted his proper place as one of modern cinema's most important and visionary filmmakers, Combat Shock refused to die and by the mid-nineties the uncut American Nightmares became one of the most essential and sought after bootlegs on the grey market VHS circuit.

It was in this grey market area that I first encountered American Nightmares in the nineties via the mail order company Midnight Video.  Like many others I was completely shocked by the film and absolutely floored in every way.  While the film's scenes of horrific violence were what originally stuck with me, as I have aged and matured it is the film's heartbreaking heart and humanity that keep me returning to it.  As played by Buddy's brother Rick Giovinazzo (who also composed the film's remarkable soundtrack included as a bonus CD), the lead character Frankie remains one of the most moving creations in all of modern American cinema.  Much like Alan Vega's devastating title character in Suicide's 1977 jaw-dropping track off their legendary first album, Giovinazzo's character is a good man buried by a system designed to destroy the helpless and poor.  It's every sad headline of a man pushed to the brink of madness and murder brought to life.  Sadly American Nightmares plays better than ever now in this brutal era of Trump.  This film isn't just a prophetic time capsule.  It is instead a nightmarish depiction of NOW and I must admit that viewing Severin's recent collection reduced me to tears.  I saw Frankie every day during my recent sad stint in Denver where the streets are crowded with homeless veterans desperately in need of help they aren't receiving.   Giovinazzo knew ignoring our veterans in need was a criminal act by the American government in 1984 and it remains one today.

Of course American Nightmares doesn't just survive as a political and sociological statement as it stands as a glorious reminder to the power of film in the hands of a truly visionary artist who refused to back down no matter the financial and personal hardships.  The essential book that comes along with Severin's package, featuring Giovinazzo's shooting diaries from the time, should be REQUIRED reading for all young students of cinema.  It's a triumphant portrait of an artist not enslaved by the dollar and corporate sponsorship....our tragic current sell-out culture should take note...this is how it should be fucking done.

Severin's release is the kind of true deluxe edition that great films deserve but rarely get anymore.  Powered by a 4k scan of the fully uncut American Nightmares, an essential commentary by the Giovinazzo brothers (along with make up effects artist Ed Varuolo), hours of interviews with the makers of film and the critics who championed it, short films and Troma's original terrific extras it is an absolute triumph for Severin and Giovinazzo.

Although it came out just over a month ago Severin's release is already becoming near impossible to find so the curious and established fans are advised to seek it out now.  Earlier this year I thought Criterion's way past due Dietrich and Von Sternberg collection would be the release of the year but that frustrating dropped ball pales in comparison to Severin's Combat Shock.  I keep hearing physical media is dead but you sure as hell wouldn't know it watching Severin's grand slam new releases.

-Jeremy Ross Richey, 2018-

 "He's just trying to survive
Well lets hear it for Frankie
Frankie Frankie..."
-Rev, Vega-

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Please Support Brandon Colvin's A DIM VALLEY at Kickstarter

The extraordinary filmmaker Brandon Colvin has just recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to help fiance his upcoming film, A Dim Valley, and I would greatly appreciate if everyone would share the campaign's link and pledge if you can.  

The Kickstarter page can be visited here and Brandon's work at Moon in the Gutter can be read here.  Good luck to Brandon and I am excited to see this, his third feature after Frames and Sabbatical.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017


Jill C. Nelson's long awaited memoir, Tapes From California: Teenage Road Tripping, 1976, is now available to order in hardcover and soft cover editions from Bear Manor Media and Amazon. Nelson, whose previous works include John Holmes: A Life Measured In Inches and Golden Goddesses, has been working on Tapes From California for years and I am thrilled that it is now out for us to all enjoy. Copies can be obtained from the links above and my own interviews with Nelson, where she discusses this book and her others, can be found here and here.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

ART DECADES Jean Rollin Tribute Issue Is Now Available

Issue 12 of ART DECADES is now available on Amazon. This issue features a near 40 page tribute to Jean Rollin which includes a brand new interview with Francoise Pascal, the star of THE IRON ROSE! The tribute also contains interviews with several contributors of the upcoming book on Rollin, LOST GIRLS, including Samm Deighan, Michelle Alexander, Virginie Selavy and Marcelline Block. Thanks to all who order and can help us spread the word about this special Rollin themed issue and viva independent print media!

Thursday, June 29, 2017

A New Interview With Françoise Pascal in the Upcoming ART DECADES

One of the highlights of my time writing online was getting to interview the amazing Françoise Pascal, the star of my favorite Rollin film The Iron Rose, for Fascination: The Jean Rollin Experience just over 7 years ago so I am very excited to announce that I recently had the chance to interview Françoise again for a follow-up chat for my print only publication Art Decades. This new interview with Françoise focuses on a number of topics including her thoughts seeing Rollin for a final time, more on The Iron Rose, her autobiography, recent work, future plans and more. This 13th issue of Art Decades also includes an exclusive sneak preview of Spectacular Optical's book on Rollin Lost Girls featuring a number of contributor interviews and an excerpt. The issue will be available to order via Amazon and eBay in July and I will be unveiling our special Francoise Pascal cover here very soon. In the meantime, head over to Francoise's official site for more information on her and her remarkable career.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Francis Lai has been interviewed for my upcoming book on Sylvia Kristel!

When I first started work on my book about Sylvia Kristel last year one of my main dreams was to interview the legendary Oscar winning composer Francis Lai about his memories of working with Sylvia on his mind-blowing EMMANUELLE 2 soundtrack, so I am bubbling over with euphoria because this dream has become a reality. My extremely valued ART DECADES contributor Marcelline Block has conducted a lengthy phone interview with Francis about his memories of recording that landmark soundtrack, his time with Sylvia in the studio and at Cannes. To my knowledge this is the first time Francis has discussed in detail his memories of working with Sylvia on one of the most mesmerizing theme songs of the seventies. This interview would not have been possible without the incredibly gracious Mr. Lai and his unbelievably kind wife Dagmar and, of course, Marcelline.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

R.I.P to the legendary Roger Moore

The incredible Roger Moore has sadly passed away at the age of 89.  Sir Roger George Moore was one of the most charming, charismatic and talented actors of the past fifty years and he excelled in an astonishing range of genres from action to comedy to drama.  He appeared in nearly 100 films and television shows throughout a career that stretched from the mid-forties all the way up to the present.  My very best to his family and friends.  He was a truly unforgettable actor and human being.  

Monday, May 15, 2017

A Chat on Jean Rollin At Electric Sheep

I recently had the honor of being interviewed by editor, film historian and writer Marcelline Block about the career and films of Jean Rollin and that chat can now be read over at Electric Sheep.


Thank you very much to Marcelline for the questions and I hope our talk proves enjoyable.