Thursday, July 14, 2016

A New Book On Sylvia Kristel Coming in 2017

I am happy to announce that I have begun working on my first book, which I am going to try and have ready to publish by Christmas of next year. Tentatively titled SYLVIA KRISTEL: FROM EMMANUELLE TO CHABROL, this book will focus on the European film career of Sylvia Kristel from 1973 to 1979. The book will extensively cover each movie Kristel made in Europe, with particular attention being paid to the striking series of films she made with some of the world's greatest filmmakers, including Walerian Borowczyk and Claude Chabrol, before an ill-fated move to Hollywood all but ruined her career. I will be drawing on years of research I have already done and the book will include some of my large personal archive of promotional materials I have collected. The book will also include interviews with some of the artists that worked with Kristel in this period and I am going to try and visit her home in Utrecht before its publication. Official pages will be set up soon to track the book's progress and some exclusive content is being prepared for ART DECADES as well. -Jeremy Richey-

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Cult Epics' Blu-ray Special Edition of Tinto Brass' PAPRIKA (Reviewed in the Upcoming Issue of ART DECADES)





The upcoming issue of ART DECADES will include my look at the excellent recent release of Tinto Brass' terrific PAPRIKA from Cult Epics.  PAPRIKA, starring the beautiful Deborah Caprioglio, is one of Brass' great films and this new disc features an absolutely beautiful uncut print of the film, as well as some splendid bonus features including trailers and an interview with Brass.  More information on the film can be found here at Cult Epics and the new issue of ART DECADES will be out at the end of the month. 

Miklos Jancso's PRIVATE VICES, PUBLIC VIRTUES Blu-ray Premiere (Coming Soon from Mondo Macabro)


The great folks over at Mondo Macabro have an extremely exciting Blu-ray premiere coming later this year with their special edition of Miklos Jancso's PRIVATE VICES, PUBLIC VIRTUES!  An official entry at the 1976 Cannes Film Festival, where it shocked both audiences and critics alike, PRIVATE VICES, PUBLIC VIRTUES is a film greatly worth rediscovering and this new Blu-ray is completely uncut and taken from the original negative.  For more information about the film and release please visit Mondo Macabro's blog, website and Vimeo page. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Life Rotates In 45 Revolutions Per Minute (David Bowie: "Drive In Saturday" with "Round and Round")


"Not only is it arguably the finest track on ALADDIN SANE, "Drive In Saturday" is also the great forgotten Bowie single...(it is) one of Bowie's most underrated classics."
--Nicholas Pegg, THE COMPLETE DAVID BOWIE-

"When the chorus came around there it was again, "Twig the wonder kid", and I thought, blimey.  I remember being absolutely bowled over and of course I rushed out and bought it." 
-Twiggy-


David Bowie's overwhelming run of great albums in the seventies often overshadows the fact that he was also one of the great Singles artists of the period as well. While many of his 45s can be counted among his greatest works, one for me stands above the rest as not only the best of Bowie's career, but as one of the greatest songs in rock history.
1973's "Drive In Saturday" was originally written for Mott The Hoople, who were coming off a sizable hit with Bowie's "All The Young Dudes". Thinking it was a bad idea to follow up that smash with another Bowie cover Mott turned the track down. Bowie would later admit that he was justifiably confused by the decision and said that, "I never understood that because I always thought that would have been a great single for them."
Bowie decided to put out the song himself and in April of 1973 the single was released a week before the masterful album it graced, ALADDIN SANE.
Written while Bowie was touring America promoting ZIGGY STARDUST, "Drive In Saturday" is a song about a future where people have become so isolated from each other that they have to look at images from the past to remember how to make love. The track manages to simultaneously be rooted in the rock from the fifties that Bowie had grown up with and yet still sound slightly futuristic and totally progressive.
The song features some of the most evocative and emotionally devastating lyrics that Bowie has ever written with its nostalgic nods to Mick Jagger, Twiggy and an idealistic sixties very much lost.

Backed by the Spiders from Mars and featuring some of the most impressive guitar work that the incomparable Mick Ronson ever delivered, "Drive In Saturday" is one of the definitive glam rock tracks. Perhaps only Roxy Music's "Virginia Plain" tops it as one of the most perfectly crafted song of the early seventies, with Bowie's altogether haunting synthesizer and saxophone playing adding to Ronson's extraordinary arrangement. Featuring the always crisp and incredibly layered Tony Visconti production,"Drive In Saturday"  plays perfectly as a stand alone single and an essential album track. ALADDIN SANE would be unthinkable without the song and it helps give the album an emotional pull that, to my ears at least, makes it the greatest Bowie album of the period and possibly the greatest Glam album ever.
Much like Nicolas Roeg's THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH, a film Bowie would star in a year later, there is something extremely prophetic about"Drive In Saturday". It seems to not only anticipate the Internet but also our increasingly closed off and isolated world. As more and more people live their lives with only their cell phone and social media as their only real sources of communication, Bowie's futuristic cold and emotionally cut off world might be much closer than just around the corner...in fact, it might already be here.

I first heard DRIVE IN SATURDAY as a teenager and I must admit that it wasn't one of my favorites at first. It wasn't until I heard him do it live in the late nineties on his HOURS tour that the song really hit me. Backed by the lovely and talented Holly Palmer, a singer whose voice melded in perfectly with Bowie's, his HOURS tour versions are majestic sounding and at times nearly top the original single. With over thirty years of loving Bowie under my belt, "Drive In Saturday" has become one of my favorite tracks by him and truth be told one of my favorite songs of all time.

The b-side for "Drive In Saturday" is an exciting cover of Chuck Berry's "Round And Round". Originally recorded for the ZIGGY STARDUST record, "Round and Round" is a gloriously sloppy Spiders From Mars run through of a track from Bowie's youth. While not one of Bowie's greatest covers or B-sides, it does seem a fun and perfect companion for the moving and nostalgic"Drive In Saturday" .

"Drive In Saturday" has been covered by several acts over the years with the most notable being probably Morrissey's powerful live stabs at it. The song still remains a bit hidden as one of Bowie's great works, with other masterful singles like "Life On Mars garnering most of the attention. To me it is the equal of anything Bowie has ever recorded and one of the emotionally devastating songs I have ever heard with the line, "She'd sigh like Twig the wonder kid" never failing to tear me up. Twiggy, "Twig the wonder kid herself", would appear on the cover of Bowie's next album (PIN-UPS) and she still speaks of how overwhelmed she was the first time she heard DRIVE IN SATURDAY. While the song only managed to make it to number three on the charts and has been forgotten by many, I suspect that for myself, Twig the wonder kid and for more than a few others, the track will always remain an overwhelmingly important and special one.

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Monday, July 27, 2015

ART DECADES (Issue 4) featuring Lush is Now Available


The new issue of ART DECADES, featuring brand new interviews with Emma Anderson and Miki Berenyi of Lush, is now available on Amazon.

Copies can also be ordered from us for 15.00 postpaid in the U.S. (via paypal at mooninthegutter(at)gmail.com).



Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Jess Franco's THE SADISTIC BARON VON KLAUS (1962)

While I have never been prone to jealousy, I must admit that I am sometimes awash in that ugly emotion when I think about younger cinema fans who have discovered the great works of the late Jess Franco in the digital age. This has been especially true in the last several years when it seems like hardly a month goes by without some jaw dropping special edition release of what were once some of Franco's hardest to see works. 2015 has already been a banner year for Franco releases and the year is just barely over half over. One of the newest discs is Kino Lorber/Redemption's Blu-ray and DVD release of the terrific early gem from Spain's greatest cinematic outlaw, The Sadistic Baron Von Klaus. Originally released in 1962 as La mano de un hombre muerto, The Sadistic Baron Von Klaus isn't as famous or as well regarded as Franco's other 1962 masterwork The Awful Dr. Orlof but its a supremely well-crafted beautifully composed work that more than stands the test of time. Punctuated by the beautiful black and white photography of Godofredo Pacheco (who also shot Orlof), The Sadistic Baron Von Klaus is for the most part one of Franco's most restrained and traditional works but it's sustained by a tone that is both surprisingly humorous and predictably sinister throughout. Plus it has an unsettling set-piece late in the film that is still as shocking and transgressive as ever.
A number of Franco regulars are present in front of and behind the camera for The Sadistic Baron Von Klaus including the always memorable Howard Vernon as Max Von Klaus and the great Daniel White is also on board providing the film's evocative score. Fans mostly familiar with Franco's later more unhinged films might be surprised by just how controlled and steady Franco's work here is but it is undeniably a work that could have only been made by Jess Franco and it has his stamp all over it from the first frame to the last.
Unlike a number of their other Franco releases from the past couple of years, The Sadistic Baron Von Klaus arrives on Blu-ray without any notable extras. The film's trailer is the only supplement fans are granted with this release but the new HD transfer is mostly very pleasing and is a marked improvement over Image's original DVD that was a part of their late nineties Euroshock Collection line.
-Jeremy Richey-

Monday, May 18, 2015

Tenfold More Wicked: Arrow Films Unleashes Walerian Borowczyk's THE STRANGE CASE OF DR JEKYLL AND MISS OSBOURNE

"With its throbbing, doomy electronic soundtrack, claustrophobic atmosphere and a genuinely evil performance from Gerard Zalcberg as Hyde, Bloodbath of Dr. Jekyll is a difficult film to forget. It's slow to build, but once it gets there its grip never relaxes. The bloodbath of the title is a literal one; rather than drink a potion to transform himself into Hyde, the good Doctor immerses himself in a bath of blood-coloured liquid to release his evil desires. At the climax of the film his fiancee follows him into the bath and emerges a voluptuous, sparkling eyed femme fatale. As dawn breaks the two of them ride off in a carriage, tearing at each other's flesh." -Cathal Tohill and Pete Tombs, Immoral Tales-


The passage quoted above served as my introduction to Walerian Borowczyk's magnificent and unforgettable 1981 film The Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll And Miss Osbourne.  It was the summer of 1995 and I had just turned 22 years old.  As I have written before the book Immoral Tales and the publication I would discover soon after, Video Watchdog, had a profound impact on my life and by the end of that year I was fully immersed in the grey market VHS tape trading scene along with my movie buddy Dave, who had been a frequent customer at the video store I managed in Lexington, KY. 
Like junkies who were experts at the hustle, Dave and I made an art-form out of finding and trading as many rare films as possible on the limited budgets we had.  At least a few times a month a new update from the likes of Video Search of Miami, Midnight Video, European Trash Cinema, Luminous and countless other mail order companies, we would order from, would show up in our mailboxes.  We'd devour the listings looking for insane new titles we had never heard of, uncut and/or upgraded versions of favorites we already had and films we had read about but had only dreamed about seeing.  To take advantage of the quantity discounts most of these companies offered we'd pool our money together, send off a money order and wait impatiently for our new package of dreams to arrive.  We were pirates and we quickly learned all the pros and cons of each company.  Video Search had the largest selection but they were the most expensive and often had the worst quality.  Midnight Video had the best upgrades and catalogs, E.T.C. had the friendliest and quickest service while Luminous offered those gorgeous custom color sleeves and featured the cool as hell tape intro that copped a memorable moment from Let Sleeping Corpses Lie.   It was a fun and exciting period and it was in this atmosphere of discovery that The Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll And Miss Osbourne first came into my life.
My first copy of Borowczyk's legendary masterpiece came courtesy of one of the companies listed above.  Time has taken away my memory of exactly which one it was but I do remember it was one of the worst quality tapes Dave and I got in that period.  No matter how atrocious the print was, or how much footage it was missing, The Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll And Miss Osbourne was a devastating experience.  Here was a work that more than lived up to its legend and throughout my twenties it became one of the key films that I continually looked for better copies of.  Dave and I invested in several different versions of it with no real satisfying results.  As the nineties gave way to a much darker decade and VHS was phased out by a new digital format, that took up a lot less shelf space, Borowczyk's great late-period shocker became almost like a murky fantasy that a number of dedicated dreamers around the world shared.   
As our twenties became our thirties, our VHS libraries of lost, missing and unknown films were replaced by official DVD versions.  While many of our favorite films were finally given official releases there were some works that just seemed destined to stay lost and Borowczyk's The Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll And Miss Osbourne was one of those films.  We thought we almost had it at one point when Anchor Bay mentioned it as a possibility in the early 2000s but William Lustig deemed it 'too arty' and it was taken out of consideration.  It was extremely frustrating but in hindsight I get Lustig's reasoning as business man because, sadly, for many Euro-Cult lovers Borowczyk's film will indeed seem impenetrable.  Of the many labels given to The Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll And Miss Osbourne over the years the only one that really sticks is that it is indeed an art-film.  More than that, and as others have noted, it stands along with Andrzej Zulawski's Possession (also 1981) as perhaps the last great European Art-Film of the seventies.  It was the end of a marvelous period of film-making that had been marked by daring originality and fierce non-conformity.  

Finally seeing
The Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll And Miss Osbourne the way that it was meant to be seen twenty years after I first viewed that barely watchable VHS copy is like having my distant dream transformed into a shockingly coherent memory.  Arrow Films haven't just released the most important Blu-ray/DVD of the year, they have delivered the art world one of its great lost treasures in a version that is jaw dropping in its execution and presentation.  This exhaustive special edition disc that now houses Borowczyk's once lost film is absolutely stunning and film lovers everywhere owe a sincere thank you to its chief creator Daniel Bird and his entire team, including co-producer Michael Brooke.  Arriving on disc with pristine picture quality and sound,  The Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll And Miss Osbourne can finally be seen as Borowczyk originally intended.  Watching this version was an absolute revelation to me and, while I hate to use this cliche, it really was like seeing it for the first time.

Among the major things that I admire about The Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll And Miss Osbourne is what an incredibly flexible piece of filmmaking it is.  This is Borowczyk at his most ambitious and The Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll And Miss Osbourne vaults, with apparent ease, between a Victorian horror film to a savagely witty satire to a feverish surrealist nightmare.  Borowczyk achieves so much in just 90 minutes and his work here is an awe-inspiring.  Add on to the fact that he was working with a relatively limited budget, on a tight shooting frame, and The Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll And Miss Osbourne becomes an even more remarkable achievement.  Every shot is expertly composed and the amount of thought that is apparent in even the film's most seemingly unimportant moments is astounding.  No filmmaker has ever successfully forced an audience into a more voyeuristic mode than Borowczyk.  Even a key sequence like the reading of Jekyll's will is filmed through a doorway as if we are peaking in to an event that we are not supposed to be privy to. Among the most remarkable achievements on hand in The Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll And Miss Osbourne is that, despite how dialogue driven the mid-section is, it manages to recreate the bewitching spell and mood of a great silent film.  Also, just about an hour in, Borowczyk delivers one of the great 'how did they do that' effects in all of cinema during the film's first transformation scene.  It's one of those moments, like the last shot in The Passenger, that cinephiles will return to again and again. 
Among the things that surprised me the most revisiting The Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll And Miss Osbourne was just how devilishly witty it is in its middle section thanks to Borowczyk's sharply satirical stab at a repressed upper-class and legendary Patrick Magee's wonderfully over the top turn as the bumbling patriarchal General.  Be sure to watch the English dub of the film to see the full power of Magee's delicious turn. 

The whole cast is quite extraordinary and was one of the best ensembles Borowczyk ever got to work with.  While such Euro-Cult favorites as Udo Kier and Howard Vernon will be the most recognizable it is the mesmerizing Marina Pierro, as Miss Osbourne, who commands the most attention.  There is a clear and special bond between Borowczyk and Pierro that only comes around once in a great while in film and this stands as their key work together.  Pierro's final transformation (a resounding feminist statement against male repression and stereotyping) is one of Borowczyk's great moments and no description of Pierro in the film's pulverizing closing seconds will suffice.  No longer keeping us peering through half closed doors, Borowczyk brings his audience inside the frame as The Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll And Miss Osbourne comes crashing to a close to the point where we are no longer just watching but we are actually experiencing the film.  The final half hour of The Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll And Miss Osbourne is, simply put, unlike anything else ever put on the screen and stands with any great cinematic moment you care to name.  
The Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll And Miss Osbourne has been granted a Criterion Collection style release and contains a number of absolutely essential bonus features, most of which were created by Daniel Bird.  First up, the disc has an engrossing and fascinating commentary track made up of a 1981 archival discussion with Borowczyk and new interviews with cinematographer Noel Very, editor Khadicha Bariha, assistant Michael Levy and filmmaker Noel Simsolo.  Expertly put together by Bird, this is one of the most rewarding commentary tracks I have heard in ages. 
Two short films can be found on Arrow's disc including a newly discovered Borowczyk animated work called Happy Toy, a charming and surprising film from 1979.  Also on hand is the startling Himorogi, a 16 minute 2012 homage to Borowczyk by his greatest muse Marina Pierro and Alessio Pierro. 
A number of interviews are included on this special edition as well including a touching chat with Udo Kier and a thought-provoking talk with the fiercely intelligent and intense Pierro (who appears off-camera).  We are also treated to a discussion with Alessia Pierro on Himorogi and the charming collaborator Sarah Mallinson.
Rounding out the superlative extras on The Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll And Miss Osbourne are a number of featurettes including a terrific 30 minute introduction to Borowczyk, which is both wonderfully informative and personal, by the disc's co-producer Michael Brooke.  An insightful video essay on Borowczyk by Adrian Martin and Cristina Alvarez Lopez entitled Phantasmagoria of the Interior follows as well as two terrific Daniel Bird works, Eyes That Listen (a profile of the daring composer Bernard Parmegiani) and Return To Melies:  Borowczyk and Early Cinema (an ingenious look at how silent cinema helped shape Borowczyk and especially The Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll And Miss Osbourne).  The theatrical trailer and a long booklet is also included.
Arrow's special edition The Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll And Miss Osbourne is not only an absolutely essential purchase for Borowczyk fans but also for art and cinema lovers in general.  The Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll And Miss Osbourne is one of the most important films of the past fifty years and with Arrow's Blu-ray/DVD combo it has finally been given the proper release and respect it has been deserving of for such a very long time.  A distant dream no more, The Strange Case Of Dr Jekyll And Miss Osbourne is finally a reality for us.  Please open your eyes and see...

-Jeremy Richey, 2015-

***My stills above are taken from the DVD and do not represent the amazing quality of the Blu-ray.  Read More About this release at Arrow's site and please order/review at Amazon or your favorite retailer.