Recent Posts from my Official Site

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

The Robert Kerman Fundraiser

An actor and man I greatly admire, Robert Kerman (aka R. Bolla) is in a very bad way and is need of our help this holiday season.  Please click on this link for information on the Robert Kerman Fundraiser.  Any, and all, donations, are greatly appreciated!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Jason Banker's TOAD ROAD (2012)

Among the most damaging and devastating American films I have seen in quite some time, Jason Banker's haunting Toad Road is one of the most original and startling works in recent memory.  An almost entirely improvised micro-budgeted production shot mostly in Pennsylvania, Toad Road is just the second feature from Banker but he is already clearly one of the most visionary young filmmakers in the country.  While the influence of figures such as Harmony Korine and Gus Van Sant can be felt throughout Toad Road's slim running time of just over 75 minutes, it is one of the most unique productions I have had the pleasure of viewing in some time.  Part horror film, part existential youth-drama, part cautionary-drug tale and finally part love story, Toad Road defies easy categorization and I haven't been able to shake it since experiencing it a number of days ago. 


With these opening words, spoken in an eerily hushed tone by the remarkable Sara Ann Jones, the non linear Toad Road begins and the viewer is immediately pulled into the aimless world

Friday, December 6, 2013

Celia Rowlson-Hall's MA at Kickstarter

Since starting Moon in the Gutter a whopping seven years ago this month I have had the great fortune to come into contact with many great young filmmakers, a number of whom I have featured here. While they have all inspired me in many ways, none have had quite the effect on me as Celia Rowlson-Hall. In the past couple of years Celia's brilliant and visionary short films have consistently thrilled, challenged and moved me beyond words. Her work is both breathtaking and transcendent and stands as a reminder of why I fell in love with film in the first place. Celia recently started a Kickstarter campaign to fund her first feature, a silent work entitled MA. Please take a moment and pledge anything you can and share the video below on your own pages. Imagine if you could go back in time and help fund works like Fernand Léger's Ballet Mécanique or Maya Deren's Meshes of the Afternoon. We are being given the very unique opportunity of helping fund a major work by a truly unique young voice in cinema and I really hope all reading will join me in doing so.


Saturday, November 23, 2013

Help RESTORE DETOUR at Kickstarter

Please take a moment and help out this very valuable project at Kickstarter by pledging and sharing this link.  Thanks!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

A Moon in the Gutter Q&A With Author and Film Historian Casey Scott

Today I am very happy to welcome another one of my favorite writers and film historians to Moon in the Gutter, Mr. Casey Scott.  Many of you will already be familiar with Casey due to his online writing (from DVD Drive-In to The Grrrl Can't Help It) to his work with DVD companies (ranging from Media Blasters to Vinegar Syndrome) to his academic work.  I know Casey as a friend as well and I consider him on of the most knowledgeable film historians on the planet whose work has provided a lot of inspiration.  Casey can now add film-curator to his long resume as he has a truly exciting and important program coming up at New York's Anthology Film Archives called In The Flesh.  To celebrate this event Casey kindly agreed to answer a few questions for us here at Moon in the Gutter.  I hope everyone enjoys the interview, will check out some of Casey's work and, if you are in the New York area, please attend In The Flesh December 5th through the 8th. 

Hey Casey, thanks so much for taking time out of your schedule to participate in this! First off, can you tell us a bit about your background?

      Thanks so much for approaching me for an interview! This is my first time being on the other side of an interview, and I’m honored it’s for a blog I really love. Well, I’ve been a film enthusiast since I was a kid and, like so many of us movie nuts, it stuck with me into adulthood. I dabbled with the idea of making movies for a time during middle and high school, when I shot a few amateur efforts with the family camcorder and took a TV production course, where I really loved the editing process. I still do. But I decided writing and research was what I most enjoyed about the film world, so I pursued my M.A. in cinema studies at NYU and just graduated in May, so watch out, world!
Was there a particular film, song or artist that initially sparked your interest in the arts as a child?

      I can honestly say I was always an artistic child, very into books and music, and film kind of transformed my life after I started digging into the classics from the studio era. All About Eve (1950), Gone with the Wind (1939), the usual big name titles. I’m still a hardcore classic Hollywood fanatic. Turner Classic Movies is my best friend, which may surprise some people who learn I’m obsessive about adult films. Barbara Stanwyck is my favorite actress, Cary Grant my favorite actor, I love Capra and Wellman and Ford, the list goes on and on…
A behind the scenes moment in 1941 with Barbara Stanwyck and Preston Sturges.
     The classic Hollywood films of the sound era are probably the most discussed in the world but lets switch gears and talk about sadly the least discussed, namely the adult and exploitation films of the seventies and eighties.   You are one of the leading film historians on this period in the world. How did you first get interested in the genre?

     Wow, well first of all, thank you for speaking so highly of me. It means a lot! I have had a photographic memory since an early age, and that helps with absorbing and processing so much information about the genre. I just love these movies and the people who made them! My interest in classic adult stemmed from my ongoing fascination with exploitation and sexploitation of the pre-hardcore era. I followed favorite filmmakers from the soft and horror world, like Gary Graver, Roberta Findlay, Doris Wishman, Roger Watkins, and Dave Friedman, into the hard world. Before that, though, the first three adult films I ever saw were Jim Clark’s The Good Girls of Godiva High (1979), Svetlana’s Bad Girls (1981), and Gerard Damiano’s Deep Throat (1972), which were secretly recorded on unmarked Beta tapes a family friend gave to me since he knew I collected them. Based on those three films (though I have soft spots for the first two) I really had no interest in looking further into the genre. It wasn’t until I saw Damiano’s Devil in Miss Jones (1973), Graver’s Coed Fever (1979), and Findlay’s Angel on Fire (1974) that I realized there was so much more to classic adult than what I had previously encountered. Then the floodgates opened and I’ve really never stopped since.
A shot of the lovely Annette Haven around the time she shot Coed Fever.
      This genre and period has typically been all but ignored in film studies and film history in general but this thankfully seems to be changing. Do you feel like the tide is finally beginning to change and that these films, and the artists who worked on film, might finally start to get some long overdue acknowledgement and recognition?
      I definitely think the tide is turning and reappraisals are in store for the genre and specific filmmakers in general. Radley Metzger has been receiving the lion’s share of attention, but other directors like Chuck Vincent, Rinse Dream, and performers-turned-directors like Candida Royalle and Annie Sprinkle have been discussed in serious academic pieces. That said I don’t know yet if we’ll see someone seriously tackle, say, Phil Prince or Alex de Renzy outside of the book I’m working on. I’d love to be wrong! Kevin Heffernan is the man for the job if anyone does a de Renzy project. The big problem with writing about any part of the “golden age” of erotica is it’s a grossly under-documented genre. Where major studio films and even independent commercial films have some kind of paper trail and press coverage, adult films generally don’t. Primary sources are the way to go, and they unfortunately are not always around to present the full picture to researchers, or aren’t willing to depending on how far they’ve moved on from the industry. Plus some writers don’t want to go that extra mile and talk to a large number of people before writing something. The great thing about adult film criticism and scholarship is that there are many different voices out there working with varied approaches to the genre, and frankly I don’t think we can ever have enough people doing that.
      There is of course a lot of mainstream opposition in the critical community to even discuss this genre. Have you felt any of that opposition to your own work?
      Oddly enough, I personally have never felt any overt opposition to my work writing about and documenting the genre except from other similar researchers. But yes, there continues to be general opposition from different corners of the academic and critical community. In the academic world the fundamental argument of whether these films should exist is still being fought decades after Linda Williams’ “Hard Core” established a definition of the genre and why its existence matter. Authors like David Flint and Jack Stevenson, Gloria Brame and Constance Penley, and many others continue the dialogue in important and interesting ways. In the critical world, people tend to equate all adult films with the contemporary state of the industry, which is so different from how it used to be. It’s easy to forget Variety, New York Times, Newsweek, etc. reviewed adult titles when it was considered hip to do so. Now that it’s becoming hip again to like the classic films, maybe they’ll start getting more mainstream respect. Until then, the cult surrounding them is very loyal and dedicated to their favorites, as the filmmakers and performers learn.
      Okay, lets talk up about In the Flesh, the exciting program you a curating at the Anthology Film Archives! Tell us about the program.
      I’m giddy with excitement about this series! It all started when Anthology Film Archives, which is in my opinion the edgiest repertory theater in New York City, scheduled two back-to-back sexploitation series this summer, a Russ Meyer series and a Something Weird Video series. I approached Andrew Lampert, one of the masterminds at Anthology, and suggested the natural progression in the history of sex in cinema was to do a hard series. To my surprise, he’d always wanted to do one! So I offered to program the series for them, working with Steve Morowitz at Distribpix and Joe Rubin at Vinegar Syndrome, since the three of us work really well together and share such passion for these movies and their history. The great thing is that this is not a one-time series. It will be a recurring quarterly series, so in every Anthology calendar, there will be an “In the Flesh” event. Working with Steve and Joe, the possibilities are endless. The March series is already scheduled, featuring four “adult noir” titles, and Joe and I are hashing out the summer series to be a departure from the previous series. Jed Rapfogel, the head programmer at Anthology, has been tremendous to collaborate with on shaping and scheduling the series, and their publicist Ava Tews has been a dream, too.

                                                      Why did you pick these particular films?

      When you’re brainstorming a series like this, of course you have titles that jump to the front of the queue, especially when working with Distribpix and their incredible catalog of films. Two important factors made the job easier: the films needed to be screened on 35mm and they needed to have guests present to provide historical context. So we eliminated any films that were only available on 16mm (sorry, Taking of Christina) and I knew films with cast and/or crew who would possibly attend a serious appreciative screening of their work. High Rise and Through the Looking Glass were always at the top of my list, and thank God 35mm prints exist! Take Off was a major title, and I knew I wanted a Larry Revene movie because his great book just came out, he is a gifted storyteller, and the world needs to be aware of what a treasure it has in Larry. I would have been happy to show his first directorial effort, Fascination (1979), if there was a print of it, but Wanda Whips Wall Street is better-known and just as good, if not better. Veronica Hart and Tish Ambrose always make everything better.
      The program looks wonderful and I so wish I could be there. Through the Looking Glass and Wanda Whips Wall Street are two particular favorites of mine. I hope it is very successful and the first of many. What do you hope viewers take away from the series, particularly those who are newcomers to the genre?
      I wish you could be there, too! The bummer about the series is that it’s not a traveling roadshow. I’d love to take these films to different venues around the country so that all their loving fans could see the classics on the big screen, as they were meant to be seen. Maybe if you or any of your readers suggest screenings at the local repertory or independent theater, we can head to you! I think it’s a strong possibility if the interest is there. The reason I wanted this series to happen was specifically so these films would find a wider audience. Anthology’s audiences tend to be inquisitive and adventurous, and have great taste, so I hope they discover some new favorites and might develop curiosity into what else the genre has to offer. If the audience comes away singing the High Rise theme song, with goose bumps from the ending of Through the Looking Glass, moved by Take Off, and cheering for Veronica Hart after Wanda, I will be a happy man.

      As a wrap-up I was hoping you might share some personal favorites with us. Could you perhaps name ten or so vintage adult films that you think are seriously in need of rediscovery. Also, are there any particular performers of filmmakers that you would particularly like to see rediscovered?
       Wow, that’s a great question, and so different from the expected “list your favorites of all time”! Um…I’m gonna cheat and give you a lucky thirteen.
High Rise (1972) – We’re showing it in the Anthology series and it’s the least-known of the four, but should be wider regarded as the best early adult comedy. The soundtrack is Hollywood-caliber.
Resurrection of Eve (1973) – It’s way better than the Mitchell Brothers’ better-known Behind the Green Door and is also Marilyn Chambers’ best film.
The Seduction of Lyn Carter (1974) – Anthony Spinelli’s most neglected masterpiece, where Andrea True blows my mind as a housewife in an abusive affair with Jamie Gillis that she secretly enjoys.
Easy Alice (1976) – This is a marvelous meta film about the off-screen adventures of a San Francisco adult star, Joey Silvera, who also reportedly directed the film.
Punk Rock (1977) – Carter Stevens is all around underrated, and I think this is his best film tied with Pleasure Palace (1979). See both, they’re quintessential “adult noir”.
Skin-Flicks (1978) – Damiano’s most underrated film, wall-to-wall great performances, with special note made for Sharon Mitchell as an adult star eager for true love.
Tropic of Desire (1979) – Bob Chinn weaves a fascinating story of a WWII-era brothel in Hawaii. A personal favorite of Bob’s and I concur.
Randy (1980) – The one adult film from Phillip Schuman, this sex comedy following a clinical study of ‘anti-orgasmic’ women seeking a solution to their problem is one of the best films you’ve never seen. The theme song is a catchy gem.
The Seductress (1981) – Another of Bob Chinn’s most underrated, out of a filmography that needs more attention in general.
Mascara (1982) – Lisa de Leeuw and Lee Carroll are superb as, respectively, a sexually frustrated working woman and the prostitute she enlists to help her broaden her horizons.
Nasty Girls (1983) – Ron Sullivan’s most unsung “day in the life” film, following a group of people over one night at a bar as their lives intertwine.
American Babylon (1985) – The Roger Watkins film too few people have seen.
Getting Personal (1985) – Ron Sullivan directing Herschel Savage and Colleen Brennan as mismatched con artists. Funny, touching, beautifully acted. One of the last great FILMS in the genre before video took over.

      Performers in need of rediscovery: I mentioned Tish Ambrose earlier and she was a tremendous actress that needs a stronger following. She is easily one of my picks for best adult film actress of all time. So is Sharon Mitchell, who I think many take for granted given her years in the business. She hits all the right notes in her acting performances; so does Lisa de Leeuw. Merle Michaels is a favorite cult icon with superstar quality, and I’d say the same about Sue Nero and Desiree West, Suzanne McBain and Nicole Noir, Misty Regan and Jeanne Silver, the late Arcadia Lake and Kandi Barbour.

The much missed Kandi Barbour, who we lost in 2012.

      I’ll stop there! As a gay man, there are underrated studs like Jeffrey Hurst, Ron Hudd, Mike Ranger, and John Seeman I would follow anywhere. Their wives are very lucky!

      Directors in need of rediscovery: Alan Colberg was consistently great, as was Jeffrey Fairbanks, and both only made a handful of films so their names are not widely known as they should be. Two directors who are big names yet still don’t get the full credit they deserve are Bob Chinn and Ron Sullivan (Henri Pachard). But the most underrated are the French classic directors, like Claude Mulot, Gerard Kikoine, Francis Leroi, Didier Philippe-Gerard, and Claude Bernard-Aubert. Their films aren’t widely available here but they are almost always a guaranteed bargain.

Awesome Casey!  Thanks so much for participating in this and I wish you all the best of luck with In the Flesh and all of your upcoming work.  I look forward to doing another one of these down the road to discuss more of your upcoming projects. 






Friday, November 1, 2013

Sanskrit Read to a Pony: A World Without Lou Reed

A Sunday morning ago I awoke to my usual routine.  The alarm went off and I quickly silenced it as not to disturb my wife Kelley, who usually sleeps a bit later than I do.  Our dogs, Molly and Maizie, excitedly scurried around my feet as I put on the pajamas that always inevitably get kicked off during the night.  After a quick stop in the restroom, the three of us head downstairs where I let them take care of their business outside and then we all rush to my cat Mazzy's room, where he is anxiously awaiting, as he knows our morning arrival signals his breakfast time.  I flip the coffee on, feed the animals and then pick out some music.  My selection this past Sunday was my well-worn, but much-loved, autographed copy of Lou Reed's LP The Blue Mask, the very same copy my father had brought home for me more than twenty years ago from a trip to New York.  With the first cup of coffee poured I flipped my turntable on, dropped the switch, and waited for the opening moments of "My House" to fill the room but nothing happened.  I tried again but the needle strangely wouldn't drop and just remained in its resting position.  Frustrated, I manually picked the needle up and dropped it on the still shiny black vinyl but the sound coming out of the speaker was foreign to me...draggy...not right.  I verified the speed was at 33 1/3 and tried again but got the same result.  After a couple more attempts I gave up, figuring the belt needed replacing, even though when I tried again later in the day it played perfectly. 

A life is filled with Sunday mornings.  I have been thinking of a number of them these past few torturous days like the Sunday in the fall of 1987 when I found a copy of Lou Reed's Growing Up in Public in my father's record collection.  I was fifteen and within the span of just under forty minutes my life was forever changed.  It's funny, as many truly defining moments can happen without a person realizing it but I knew instantaneously.  I had found the voice I had been looking for...the meaning.  I had found the voice that I knew would be there from that day on and I knew I would never really be alone again. 

Kelley came down about an hour after I got up this most recent Sunday morning.  We quickly got ready to go out to get some final supplies we needed for the Halloween party we were having that evening.  I was feeling pretty rough due to an emergency root canal I had had the day before and I took some prescribed pain medicine to help forgot how uncomfortable I was.  We got back in the early part of the afternoon from the store and, as we were unpacking the groceries, I noticed I had a message on my phone.  Opening the notifications tab I saw it was a Facebook message from my friend John Levy.  Without opening the full message all I could see was "Hey Jeremy, I'm sorry to report that Lou Reed has..."  I didn't have to open the message to see the rest.  Stunned and feeling sick I made my way over to the steps next to our door and fell against them.  The tears didn't come immediately although I would have preferred them to the terrible feeling that surged through my entire body.  Our little dog Maizie sensed that something was wrong and came up to check on me.  I grasped on to her and whispered, "my voice is gone" and then the tears came...

The first time I ever got my heart broken came on a Sunday morning as well.  Getting your heart broke by an unrequited love is a necessary part of  growing up.  The first time I ever had my heart truly fractured came around the winter of 1992 when I was rejected by a very special young lady who had been my best friend for the better part of a couple of years at that point.  There is something really dramatic about being in love in your late teens and I was, of course, convinced the world would end.  After the Saturday night rejection I had made my way to my friend Trace's house as the sun rose on an extremely cold and snowy Evansville, Indiana morning.  The snow was beautiful, the roads were treacherous and a cassette dub of The Blue Mask, with Coney Island Baby on the flipside, kept me warm physically and spiritually that morning.  Before we lost touch for a painful spell in the mid nineties (due to a fall off the planet earth that I took) Lou Reed was able to offer some solace to her as well, on another Sunday morning, when I sent her the lyrics to "Magic and Loss" to help her deal with the passing of one of her grandparents.  On Sunday she was one of the first people to send me some much needed words of sorrow with, "I thought of you immediately. I can't believe he's gone."  I got similar messages from many friends throughout the week, all of which were greatly appreciated.

I did my best to put on my own personal blue mask during our Halloween party, as the last thing I wanted to do was ruin it for Kelley.  I had originally planned to dress as the mom from Psycho but changed my mind and attempted to morph myself into Candy Darling as my own internal tribute to Lou and a time that now seemed more far away than ever.  I laughed, I socialized and I watched Kelley's friends make their way in all through the night...all of them much prettier and younger than I.  I wondered what they thought of me, as the seven hour Halloween mix I had spent the week before creating played in the background.  I couldn't hear it though, I could just hear Lou's voice in the distance but instead of having a Peter Laughner type breakdown I maintained my cool and somehow even managed to enjoy myself even though I dreaded waking the next morning.

Years before I stopped speaking to nearly everyone I had loved, and that had loved me, I would spend many a Sunday morning with friends and lovers.  Late Saturday nights that bled into those mornings have been filing in and out of my brain all week.  An impossibly late night with my friend Ryan listening to different versions of "Heroin" in his basement room with his father occasionally interrupting wanting to know what we were doing.  A Sunday morning in 1994 spent with my most corrosive and passionate partner Shayna making love and listening to the Live in Berlin bootleg I had picked up the day before at a local Bloomington, Indiana record shop walking distance from her place.  Introducing Take No Prisoners to my friend Dave, who just recently recalled a bit of his favorite between song banter to me again all these years later, and seeing Lou for the first time live with my oldest friend Kimbre.  Memory after memory of hundreds of Sunday mornings have been coming back to me starring so many people from my past, a number of whom got in touch with me this week via phone-calls, texts and emails making sure I was okay. 

It was indeed all those incredibly kind messages that I have gotten throughout the week, from people (some of whom I have never even met) who recognized that this wasn't just another celebrity passing for me.  Lou Reed was family, the brother I never had, the best friend who I didn't let go of, the voice that helped me through every crisis (small and major) I have faced in my adult life.  For the past quarter of a century the knowledge that there would be more lyrics and music from him to help get me through the most difficult nights, and darkest days, has always been there.  Now that knowledge is gone and I don't know what to do.  What am I going to do without Lou Reed?  That thought has plagued and troubled me all week.  One friend noted that the music and words will always be there to offer their help and support but the idea that there won't be more coming, that the voice I have depended on for so long has been silenced, is absolutely devastating to me.  I still haven't been able to process the news of Lou Reed's passing.  I recall the story that Jerry Schilling told about Brian Wilson's reaction to Elvis Presley dying.  "What do we do now? I don't know what to do."  I know I am not the only one feeling that way right now. 

The world has felt and looked strange since Sunday October 27th.  Feelings of anger and despair have mixed with a strong sense of gratitude and love the past few days.  I feel different, dazed and not sure what my next move should be.  I am grateful for Kelley, and our little furry family, and I am grateful for the memories...grateful for all those Sundays since that fateful day more than 25 years ago when I first discovered the artist who would have the greatest impact of any on my life.  Lou Reed blew open my mind and introduced me to artistic, cultural and spiritual worlds I had never known of before.  Attempting to imagine what my life would have been like if I hadn't discovered and fell completely in love with his work is not only impossible but also unthinkable.  The Jeremy Richey I am today simply wouldn't exist...I wouldn't be married to Kelley, there would be no Moon in the Gutter, I wouldn't have the memories and friends that I do...none of it would be the same.  More than likely I would have become that middle class conforming douchebag I have always hated and, while I ultimately might not be worth a damn, I can at least look myself in the mirror each day with the knowledge that I am still, deep-down, that transformed 15 year old kid in Indiana discovering and embracing a world I found in the dusty grooves of a cut-out record my father had buried in his collection. 

I wish I could write a proper tribute to Lou Reed but I am just not capable right now.  I loved this man so much and his work meant everything to me.  I honestly thought he would never least not in my lifetime.  If there is an "over there" then I hope Lou has seen all of the incredible tributes that have been pouring out of people he touched, all over the world, and I hope that he can feel all of the love.  We have lost the most important figure in popular American music since Elvis Presley and one of our finest poets.  I, and many other folks around the world, have lost a friend, mentor and spiritual guide.  Lou Reed taught us to see the light and we can all take some comfort in the thought that while the source is gone the reflection can still be found in the people touched by him. 
-Jeremy Richey, 2013-

Dedicated to Laurie Anderson and my Father.

Two New Jean Rollin Related Releases

Our friends at Finders Keepers Records have just issued Pierre Raph's incredible score to The Iron Rose on vinyl.  Details on ordering can be found here
Also the Jean Rollin limited edition Bobblehead is now available to pre-order over at Cult Collectibles

Thursday, October 10, 2013

A Long Line of Crosses: Sergio Garrone's HANGING FOR DJANGO

While he never gained the notoriety of many of his peers, director Sergio Garrone carved out a most interesting place in Italian Cinema history with just over a dozen films that spanned the late part of the sixties up into the early eighties.  A more prolific writer than director, Garrone's career behind the camera didn't begin until he was already in his forties.  He established himself, almost immediately, as both a filmmaker to watch and as a unapologetic trend-hopper in 1966 with his directorial debut, the Italian Western "Se vuoi vivere... spara" (If You Want to Live...Shoot). 
From the get-go, Garrone's films had an strangely surreal and oddly oppressive feel about them.  His filmmaking touches were wonderfully rough around the edges but there were striking signs of finesse and style.  In his best films, such as 1969's "Django il bastardo" (Django the Bastard), 1974's "Le amanti del mostro" (Lover of the Monster) and his infamous S.S. Camp movies of the late seventies, Garrone created  frenzied hallucinatory works that still sets him apart from more recognizable genre giants.  Simultaneously jarring and oddly poetic, Garrone's best moments behind the camera had an urgency that stood with some of the finest Italian exploitation works of the seventies.  One of Garrone's key, if little-seen works, 1969's Una lunga fila di croci (Hanging for Django) is getting ready to make its Blu-Ray premiere here in the states via a fine edition from Raro Video and Kino Lorber. 
Operating as both a seriously sympathetic portrait to the plight of Mexican Immigrants in the old west as well as a deliriously violent exploitation picture with an absolutely dizzying number of gunfights throughout, Hanging for Django is one of Sergio Garrone's more striking and, relatively speaking, sedate works.  While not as nightmarish as the more well-known Django the Bastard, nor as off the chain as his later Naziploitation films, Hanging for Django still casts its own very distinctive spell.  Featuring a number of beloved genre icons, including Anthony Steffen, Nicoletta Machiavelli, Mariangela Giordano and a terrific William Berger (who delivers one of his best screen-performances as a bounty hunter preacher named Murdoch) Hanging for Django might not stand with the best European Westerns ever made but it has a number of great moments that will surely delight fans of the genre. 
While the cast alone would have assured that Hanging for Django was a fully-loaded production the real stars of the show are editors Cesare Bianchini and Marcello Malvestito, whose superlative cutting work here is unbelievably creative and consistently surprising.  The duo's wildly audacious editing services Garrone's off-kilter, and often unexpected, angles and framing incredibly well.  Hanging for Django suffers at times, due to a rather pedestrian script from Garrone (centered an admittedly intriguing premise) and a clearly lower than needed budget that hampers a number of interior sequences, but it is a good film and its return is very welcome. 
Bianchini and Malvestito aren't the only great behind the scenes artistic duo fuelling Hanging for Django as strong words of praise must go to cinematographer Franco Villa (who would shoot a number of the seventies great Italian genre films) and the legendary Aristide Massaccesi (Joe D'Amato) whose work here as a camera operator is extraordinarily ballsy (check the incredible mid-film gunfight where D'Amato expertly (and literally) flips the camera to match the action creating one of the most exhilarating moments I have seen in some time. 
Hanging for Django is ultimately a good film made up of a number of truly great moments (Berger's eerie introduction is particularly mesmerizing) but it never quite reaches the excellence of the finest European westerns of the period.  The pros far outweigh the cons though and I would recommend it without reservation to even casual fans of the genre.
Raro's new Blu-ray is absolutely beautiful.  The print is immaculate and both the English Dub and Italian language track are wonderfully preserved and presented.  The excellent quality of the disc perhaps, at times, makes the films low-budget a bit more transparent than it needs to be but Raro and Kino have done an impressive job here.  Two extras are available with the first being a small unattributed booklet and the second being a featurette entitled "Bounty Killer for a Massacre", which is in reality a 2007 fifteen minute chat with author and film historian Manlio Gomarasca.  The disc will be released later this month and can be ordered at the links above, at Amazon or at any number of your preferred retailers. 

-Jeremy Richey, 2013-

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Monday, September 30, 2013


I am currently in the process of giving Moon in the Gutter a much needed upgrade.  This will include changing the look of the blog, updating the links sections and ironing out a few other kinks.  This will be a work in progress but I hope to get the majority done this week and then get some new posts rolling out.  Thanks for your patience and continued support!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Keep a Look Out For...

I wanted to take a moment and share some information about some upcoming releases I am very excited about. 

First up, my friend and past Moon in the Gutter Q&A participant Jill Nelson is working on an exciting new book entitled 1976:  Tapes From California and she has just started a new blog dedicated to it.  Jill is one of my favorite writers and is a terrific person so please give a visit to her new blog and support her upcoming book. 

Next up we have the much anticipated re-release of David Hess' incredible soundtrack to Wes Craven's Last House on the Left. I have just pre-ordered the limited to 1000 CD and can't wait to hear it.  Here is the link for American readers and a different one for International followers

Back to the bookshelf, legendary actress Seka is getting ready to release her sure to be essential autobiography Inside Seka.  I am expecting my copy from Amazon next week and look forward to covering the book here after I read it.  Here is the Amazon link for those interested, as well as a recent New York Daily News article on it

On the DVD and Blu-ray front.  Severin Films has some amazing new releases coming up including a special edition of one of my favorites House on Straw Hill and a limited edition package dedicated to Jess Franco's The Hot Nights of Linda.

Kino Redemption continue their incredibly valuable Mario Bava collection with two key films just released on DVD and Blu-ray, A Bay of Blood and Five Dolls for an August Moon. Both discs look incredible and contain essential Tim Lucas commentary tracks. 

Two of my favorite bands, Goldfrapp and Mazzy Star, return this month.  Both releases are a major cause for celebration. 

Finally the great Kathleen Hanna has recently resurrected her band Julie Ruin and the new EP is a real jaw dropper.  Visit their site here and give a listen. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A New Project and the Return of an Old Friend

After about a year of being totally burned out and exhausted I have started to feel like I am back in business as the summer is drawing to a close.  I have several writing projects I have been working on (more details soon) and I am feeling reenergized, reorganized and revitalized personally, professionally and spiritually.  To capitalize on this I recently started a new project and am restarted an older one. 
First up we have the long gestating Jean Rollin Forum, a message board I recently created to go along with my Rollin blog Fascination.  Two weeks in and we already have over a dozen members and a number of great conversations going.  If you are interested in Rollin please visit the board and send me a membership request to access all of the forums. 
Also, I have just relaunched Harry Moseby Confidential, my tribute to the figures, films, sights and sounds of the seventies!  Consider this Moseby 2.0 as I am expanding it to include not just the seventies but the fifteen year period between 1968 and 1983, probably my favorite stretch of time in popular culture. 
So, pay me a visit to both places and Let's Rock Again!

We are Waiting for You at The Jean Rollin Forum!

Just a couple of weeks into my Jean Rollin forum and it has already been a real blast. We are up to about 15 registered members and have had dozens of fun Rollin related chats going. As a little sneak peek to the kind of stuff members have been sharing, here is a detail from the International 3-sheet pressbook from SHIVER OF THE VAMPIRES that was posted in our Scrapbook section just earlier today. So, if you love Rollin please stop by, set up an account and send me a members request to access all the forums.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Into the Black: Jess Franco's THE AWFUL DR. ORLOF (1962)

It's one of the most brilliant and shocking openings in horror film history.  As we are greeted with the first flickering of celluloid we see a seemingly abandoned alley only visibly lit by a lantern in the foreground.  The black and white photography is immediately jolting and that, combined with the deadening silence on the soundtrack, makes us think we are perhaps watching an expressionistic film from the silent era.  As the camera begins to pan down to the street we suddenly hear a the sound of a woman singing and the first strains of the film's audacious and dissonant jazz score.  A lady of the night comes into frame as the camera pans down even more.  She is holding a purse in one hand and a wine bottle in the other and she is clearly intoxicated.  She sings, and even twirls, as she stumbles down the street to a door as the camera lingers and the music on the soundtrack gets progressively more percussive, more intense.  The credits begin to roll as she opens her door...L'Horrible Docteur Orlof or The Awful Dr. Orlof depending on which version you are watching.  What an utterly bizarre title that is and yet even before we are even a minute into the film it seems to capture the sheer oddness of everything that is beginning to play out in front of our eyes.  The woman makes her way into her flat but our eyes are left on the alley, once again seemingly abandoned, as the credits continue to roll.  After a moment the camera begins to slowly pan up the side of the building and we notice the first edit in the film and it is almost a subliminal one.  A light appears in the window and BOOM edit number 2 but this one is jolting...even harsh.  We are suddenly in the woman's apartment and the dark oppressive lighting outside has been transformed into something brighter but somehow even more menacing.  The woman continues to sing and stumbles around her room as the camera quickly pulls back, its stillness replaced by a sudden frenzy.  She takes yet another drink and is then momentarily entranced by her own reflection in a mirror.  The music takes on a brief eerie stillness as our unnamed heroine shuffles to her closet where, upon opening, she is greeted by a truly horrifying sight as the soundtrack swells into a deafening shriek.  Another jolting cut, a zoom-in on a man in the closet, his eyes bulging and lifeless.  Is he wearing a mask or is he horribly disfigured?  We only get a glance before another cut, this time a close-up of our female victim before another edit takes us back into the room where we witness a brutal attack.  A fight ensues, the man pushes the woman towards her window and then we are suddenly back to our spot on the street looking up.  The edits then take on a frenzied rapid fire approach cross-cutting rapidly between the fight, a shocked boy staring out of his apartment window and a man awakened by the sounds of his neighbor screaming.  We see the lamp in her apartment knocked over in the scuffle as the as of yet unnamed assailant renders her unconscious and carries her possibly lifeless body out of her apartment back to our abandoned alleyway.  Our attacker wanders aimlessly down the alley way until the sound of cane tapping against a nearby wall alerts him to follow.  We see a stranger in the distance waiting and then leading this mysterious monster, and our doomed lady, down another isolated alley way into the deep dark black of the night. 

While Gritos en la noche, or The Awful Dr. Orlof as it is more universally recognized, wasn't the first film that Jesus Franco Manera had directed it was the work that would forcefully announce him as one of the most daring and distinctive filmmakers of the sound era.  Viewed now more than fifty years after its original 1962 release date The Awful Dr. Orlof stills feels as perverse and shocking as ever.  While it is much more controlled and subtle, mostly due to the rigid censorship that was in place in the early sixties, than Franco's most personal later works it remains one of the most progressive horror films ever made.  As Cathal Tohill and Pete Tombs would write in their indispensable Immoral Tales, "there was nothing old hat about this dank masterpiece, it pulsed with a new freshness, ransacking the annals of cinema with a deviant vigor."

I must admit that I have never felt the remaining portion of The Awful Dr. Orlof ever quite matches the absolute genius that is on display during its opening few minutes.  Aspects of the film have a certain procedural quality that I don't completely respond to but there is no question that it is one of the most important films in Jess Franco's unbelievably prolific career and one of the most important films of the sixties.  While actors Howard Vernon, Diana Lorys and Richard Valle (so unforgettable as the monstrous Morpho) all give star-making turns my favorite aspects of the production remain Franco's daring direction (which transcends the film's incredibly low-budget and chaotic shooting schedule in every shot), the incredible black and white photography of Godofredo Pacheco (which manages to tip its hat to decades old classics while being totally transgressive) and the ferocious cutting of editor Alfonso Santacana (who would put many of the skills he had learned working with Franco to iconic use a couple of years down the road for Sergio Leone's A Fistful of Dollars).  Despite its budget, and forgiving some continuity errors that were caused by the varying versions of the film prepared, The Awful Dr. Orlof is an incredibly well-made and effective film.  It remains perhaps the easiest, and most natural, entry-way into the world of Jess Franco even though ultimately I think he would perfect many of the films themes and stylistic touches in later works. 
The Awful Dr. Orlof has recently been released as a splendid special edition DVD and Blu-ray by Redemption/Kino Lorber.  Containing the more explicit French-language cut (with the English dub offered as a separate audio-track) this newly struck print of The Awful Dr. Orlof looks quite good.  Some print damage is apparent throughout the film but I have never seen a version of this work that is visually as detailed and intoxicating.  Like their other most recent Franco releases (A Virgin Among the Living Dead and Nightmares Come at Night) The Awful Dr. Orlof comes armed with some really splendid extras including a David Gregory directed and Elijah Drenner produced interview with the much-missed Franco and a terrific new near 20 minute documentary on the film from director Daniel Gouyette.  A trailer for the film, and other Franco titles, is also on hand as well as a photo gallery and the very moving Gouyette work Homage to Jess that also graces the other new Franco releases.  Last but certainly not least we have a wonderful new Tim Lucas audio-commentary, that is a wonderfully detailed and an essential listen for fans of the film, Franco and horror-cinema in general.  If I have one complaint about this new special edition release of The Awful Dr. Orlof it is that it doesn't contain the longer alternate Spanish version that is mentioned numerous times on the film's supplements.  Otherwise this is a stellar new release and a major upgrade for an undeniably important film. 
-Jeremy Richey, 2013-



Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Jean Rollin Message Board is Now Live!

I am very happy to announce that my new Jean Rollin Message Board is now active and ready to use.  I will be sending out personal invites soon to all those who expressed interest but for those who want to go ahead and sign up here is the link.  I will be tinkering around with this board quite a bit in the upcoming days so any suggestions are most welcome.  Also, please let me know if you have any specific questions, problems or concerns.  I want this to be a fun community where we can share our love for Jean and his work and I hope many will join up.  So head on over and sign up.  Please be sure to check out the rules and send me a request to join the group so you can access all of the forums. 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Coming Soon: The Jean Rollin Forum

Since starting this blog back in 2008 I have met many incredible online friends who share my passion for everything connected to Jean Rollin.  It has been incredible getting to interact with fellow fans, co-workers and friends of Jean and I hope I hear from more and more.  Over the past several years I have had several readers here ask me about possibly starting an online forum dedicated to Rollin and his films.  I have been hesitant due to both time constraints and inexperience but I have decided the time has come for this new chapter for Fascination.  So, coming very soon I will be introducing Fascination:  The Jean Rollin Experience Forum, a message board dedicated to the fantastic world of our main man.  Business as usual will continue here but I do hope this new venture brings out some fellow fans for some fun, meaningful and thoughtful discussions about Jean.  I am working on the board right now and hope to have it set up within the next week.  I will post the link, and information, as soon as it is live.  Thank you to my readers here for their friendship, loyalty and patience!  You are all awesome...

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

My Look at Michel Lemoine's Seven Women for Satan at Mondo Macabro

I was recently invited to submit a piece for Mondo Macabro's great blog focused on one of their past releases.  I chose Michel Lemoine's terrific 1976 feature Seven Women for Satan and my look at the film is now available to read for those interested.  Thanks to Jared over at Mondo for asking me!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Jean Rollin Fans Take Note of Redemption's new A VIRGIN AMONG THE LIVING DEAD disc

While it isn't part of their Jean Rollin line, Redemption's newest Jess Franco release A Virgin Among the Living Dead will be of great interest to Rollin enthusiasts.  This terrific new special edition of one of Franco's most satisfying films includes as an extra the entire Zombiefied cut of A Virgin Among the Living Dead, featuring the footage Rollin shot years after its first release.  This footage was previously only available on its own on disc as an extra and this marks the first time Rollin's 'cut' can be seen its entirety since the Wizard VHS  (In America at least, a friend at Facebook has pointed out that the cut was available on the 2 disc X-Rated Kult DVD set).  The disc also includes two tremendous extras by former Rollin assistant Daniel Gouyette and a great commentary track by Tim Lucas (all of which mention Rollin at various points). 
This new DVD and Blu-ray of A Virgin Among the Living Dead is one of Redemption's best and I know that many readers here will absolutely want to order a copy from Kino, Diabolik or Amazon
In other news, The Escapees has been announced on Redemption's Facebook page as part of the 2014 line-up!  Hopefully that will not be the only new Rollin release but it is a welcome one. 

Into the Ether with Jess Franco's A VIRGIN AMONG THE LIVING DEAD

Among the finest creations found in the lengthy filmography of late Spanish auteur Jesús Franco Manera, and one of the most startling films of the seventies, A Virgin Among the Living Dead makes its Blu-ray debut this month via a terrific special edition from Kino Lorber/Redemption
While I have often picked A Virgin Among the Living Dead as my absolute favorite Franco film I came to the work later than most of his others I first encountered through grey market VHS copies throughout the nineties.  For whatever reason, A Virgin Among the Living Dead wasn't among the Midnight Video or Video Search of Miami tapes, that Tim Lucas mentions on his tremendous new commentary track, that either me or my movie buddy Dave ordered back in the day.  While I had read much about this film I didn't finally get a chance to see any version of it until just over a decade ago when it first made its way to DVD as part of Image's Euroshock line. 
I fell in love with Franco's hypnotic 1973 masterpiece during that first viewing in my late twenties.  Watching it that first time I felt like I was, in a way, collapsing into the film and all these years (and viewings) later it still mesmerizes me in a way that few fantastic works of art do.  It's a remarkably meditative work that is as compelling as it is strange and as surreal as it is oddly grounded. 
Pulsing with a soothing narcotic feel punctuated at nearly every turn by Bruno Nicolai's absolutely gorgeous score, A Virgin Among the Living Dead is an incredibly singular experience.  While it was marketed both as a horror and sexploitation film during its various theatrical runs, A Virgin Among the Living Dead is very much one of the great European Art Films.  It's breathtaking in both its thematic scope and its punctuated brevity and it has a striking emotional core that is sadly missing from most modern 'genre' films.  A Virgin Among the Living Dead is among the richest and most rewarding films in Jess Franco's canon as well as being one of the most fully realized, a fact that is made all the more remarkable when one considers just how consistently tampered with the film was through the years. 
Redemption's excellent new DVD and Blu-ray offers up A Virgin Among the Living Dead under the title Christina, Princess of Eroticism, the 79 minute cut of the film which is the closest we have to Franco's preferred version of one of his greatest works.  The disc also offers the infamous 'horror' version, as an extra, featuring all of the padded out Zombie footage French filmmaker Jean Rollin shot years later, which I wrote a bit about here at my Rollin blog.  The new disc also offers up some extremely strange 'alternate erotic footage' featuring Alice Arno, that would have been just as out of place in Franco's soulful work as Rollin's undead were.  While Christina, Princess of Eroticism is extremely close to Franco's original cut, it shouldn't be forgotten that A Virgin Among the Living Dead is still a compromised work, a sad fact that points to how much Franco had to work against throughout his combative career. 
I am hesitant to write too much about A Virgin Among the Living Dead as it really is a work of art that needs to be experienced and I don't want to spoil anything for readers who might not have seen it before.  I will say that it has a number of images and moments that even if I had only seen once would have eternally stuck with me.  If I am ever asked what it is that I love so much about this particular period of esoteric European filmmaking A Virgin Among the Living Dead is one of the key works I would point to.   More importantly it is one of the pictures I would suggest to less adventurous film fans who still think of Jess Franco as a lesser, or even poor, filmmaker.  I defy anyone to watch this film and not be impressed by the amount of passion, skill and thought that can be found in each frame. 
Redemption's new discs offer up the best looking print of the film to date.  While it is noticeably more grainy and scratchy than Image's older DVD it has a much more consistently vibrant and warmer feel throughout.  Skin-tones are much more natural, the day for night shots more sinister and the new disc has finally just a more cinematic look about it.  To go along with this struck from negative print we have three audio tracks; the preferred French, the atrocious English dub and the aforementioned Lucas commentary, which is among the best he has ever done. 
Along with the alternate version and footage I mentioned earlier, Redemption's new discs have several other extremely valuable extras including trailers, a photo gallery and one of the final filmed interviews with Franco by David Gregory and Elijah Drenner.  Best of all are two featurettes from former Jean Rollin assistant Daniel Gouyette, The Three Faces of Christina (which chronicles the various different versions) and Jess! What are You Doing Now? (an incredibly moving tribute featuring friends and collaborators conjecturing on Franco's role in the great beyond).  All in all Redemption's new release of one of Jess Franco's key films is an absolute knock-out in every way and one of their best releases so far and can now be ordered from Kino, Diabolik and Amazon.

-Jeremy Richey, 2013-

Monday, July 22, 2013

More Than Just I: Lou Reed's BERLIN at Forty

"He could have made Transformer 2, Transformer 3, "Walk on the Wilder Side", Walk on the Not so Wild Side" but, instead, he elects to take one of the bravest steps I've ever seen, in pop music history anyway, and he goes out to make a seminal work that digs deeper inside the soul of the artist than any other work that had been released, certainly into the American music scene, in fifty years."
                                                                 -Bob Ezrin, Producer-


Before I ever heard Berlin I had read it.  It was the fall of 1989 and I had just begun my sophomore year at Castle High School in Newburgh, Indiana.  My life had been forever altered a year or so previously when I had found Lou Reed's 1980 LP Growing up in Public in my dad's record collection and since then I had totally immersed myself in every Lou related recording, book and article I could get my hands on.  These were the days before the internet made everything so readily available and, while nearby Evansville had several solid record stores, I had been unable to track down Lou's 1973 concept album Berlin.  Finally, hoping it would push my family forward into the CD generation, I picked up a copy of Berlin and Deborah Harry's Def, Dumb and Blonde on disc at Evansville's long since vanished Track Records before we even had a CD-player.  With no way to play to play the disc I only had the booklet and lyrics to obsess over.  Early in that school year I would keep a copy of that Berlin booklet in my school folder and I immersed myself in Reed's dark tale of the doomed lovers Jim and Caroline like the great literary work it was at its core.  By the time I finally heard the time the album, later that year at a friends house who had gotten a CD player before me, I already knew all the lyrics by heart. 
Berlin isn't my favorite Lou Reed album, that distinction belongs to 1979's The Bells, but to deny that it is among the most important works in his collection would be extremely misguided.  Released forty years ago this month, Berlin remains one of bravest, most inspired, most influential and most daring recordings of the seventies.  It is an album that has inspired a countless number of artists from David Bowie to Bat for Lashes and it foreshadowed the post-punk movement by nearly a decade.  As popular music becomes more and shallow, plastic and unnecessary Lou Reed's epic tale of abuse, addiction, redemption and romance becomes more resonate and more mythic with each passing year.  I can't imagine my world without it and when I listen to it today it still infuses me with the same kind of passion and intensity it inspired in me more than twenty years ago when I first heard it. 

Critic Michael Hill pointed out in the liner notes that graced the 1998 remaster of Berlin that even though while rock listeners in 1973 were, "primed for a masterwork", Reed's album was, "met with confusion, revulsion and anger" upon its initial release.  Reed had scored an worldwide smash a year before with the David Bowie and Mick Ronson produced Transformer and, despite that fact that Rolling Stone predicted that Berlin would be "the Sgt.Pepper of the Seventies", the collection was indeed mostly greeted with indifference or outright hostility.  It was the most grown-up album rock music had ever seen and most were simply not prepared for it. 

Before the days of downloads and streaming, the first thing a listener would have taken in upon getting an album would be the sleeve.  The original LP of Berlin just feels HEAVY.  A gatefold with a pull-out booklet, Berlin was graced with a beguiling and mysterious design by Pacific Eye and Ear and featured a number of haunting Saint-Jivago Desanges photos.  Reed himself appears on the cover of this incredibly cinematic collection armed with a guitar and a look that could cut through steel.  As David Fricke of Rolling Stone would point out in the 1998 documentary Rock and Roll Heart, while other popular artists of the day were making records of the time Reed was making records, "of his time" and you can just feel the absolute audacity of Berlin before the needle even drops. 

Despite the fact that Berlin is one of the most cohesive concept albums ever made a number of its tracks had been recorded previously by Lou as far back as the mid-sixties.  Early versions of "Men of Good Fortune", "Caroline Says", "Oh Jim" and "Sad Song" had all been worked on by The Velvet Underground and an extended version of the haunting title-track had appeared on Lou's self-titled debut lp a couple of years previously. 

Certainly Lou's personal and professional relationship with Nico had informed the album as well.  Nico would later claim that Lou, "wrote me letters saying Berlin was me."  The album would really be a tribute to Lou Reed's literary background and his dedication to writers like Delmore Schwartz, Hubert Selby and Raymond Chandler.  Berlin would represent Lou's goal of presenting characters as sharply-drawn and well-rounded as those artistic mentors in the medium he was working with in 1973.  Reed would state that, "the real important thing is the relationship between the two major characters" and, "the narrator is filling you in from his point of view, and his point of view is not particularly pleasant." 

The behind the scenes tales of Berlin are as legendary as the album itself.  Berlin's brilliant producer Bob Ezrin discovered heroin while recording the lp and suffered a, "chemical breakdown", upon completing it.  He recalled that, "we were all seriously ill" and that Berlin, "put me out of commission for quite a while."  Reed recalled that, "we killed ourselves psychologically on that album", and that they had, "went so far into it that it was kind of hard to get out."

Berlin is indeed one of the most damaging listens in all of popular music.  From the mysterious distant echoes of the riotous birthday celebration that opens the album to the remarkable string section that closes it (a string section Ezrin would later revisit on Pink Floyd's The Wall) Berlin is an unbelievably intense work that never lets up its incredibly tight grip.  Lester Bangs would famously call it, "a gargantuan slab of maggoty rancor that may well be the most depressed album ever made" in the pages of Creem a couple of years after Berlin originally shocked listeners who dared to take its ominous journey. 

Reed and Ezrin created Berlin utilizing the largest cast of supporting players that Reed would ever work with.  Everyone from famed jazz musician Michael Brecker to Cream co-founder Jack Bruce to legendary Traffic leader Steve Winwood makes a contribution.  It's ironic that a recording that sounds as unbelievably out of step and isolated as Berlin had so many well-known hands in the mix.  Reed was thrilled with the results and he would state in early 1976 that Ezrin, "did a great job" and in fact, "everybody on that album did a great job."  While all the supporting players are indeed fine Berlin's shining stars are ultimately Reed (whose nearly always underrated vocal stylings have never been quite as effective and sinister as they are here), Ezrin (nobody produces with this kind of passion anymore) Dick Wagner and Steve Hunter (whose ferocious dueling electric guitar playing remains an absolute highlight). 

While Reed's lyrics for Berlin have been rightly celebrated time and time again one of the great things about it, that isn't stated enough, is just how well-played and produced it is.  It's a record that influenced generations of musicians and yet there still isn't anything that sounds quite like it. 

Years before the great Julian Schnabel finally made Berlin into a film cinematic connections were already being made.  One of the artists most effected by the album was legendary Kraftwerk co-founder Florian Schneider, who would mention in 1975 that he felt, "Berlin is projecting the situation of a spy film, the spy standing in the fog smoking his cigarette."  Lou would say of the album in 1977 that Berlin, "was a movie in sound" and by 1979 he admitted that he would, "love to see Polanski make a movie" of it. 
Polanski never did make that movie but when Schnabel and Reed triumphantly revisited Berlin on stage and on film in 2008 it was fitting that it was Polanski's greatest creative and real-life muse Emmanuelle Seigner who would finally so brilliantly bring tragic Caroline to life. 

Who exactly Caroline was based on has been conjectured about for years.  Was it Nico?  Was it Reed's wife at the time Bettye Kronstadt?  Author Chris Roberts likely nailed it in his mostly disappointing Walk on the Wild Side: The Stories Behind the Songs that, "Caroline is a composite", that, "manifests as a fevered brew of vulnerability, paranoia, suffering and bullying."  She is certainly one of the most unforgettable characters in rock history and she inspired some of the most penetrating a memorable lyrics of Lou Reed's career.  Reed's understanding of the importance and power of the lyrics he penned for Berlin led him to reproduce them for the first time with an album.  He would later recall that even though, "people don't deserve good lyrics because they never listen to them" he chose to have them printed with Berlin.  Like the music they took rock to that very adult level Lou had been striving for since he first played John Cale an early version of "Heroin" in the mid-sixties.  Reed would state in 1976 that, "Berlin was an album for adults", and, "the whole thing started because (he) wanted to write songs about something that was relevant." 

Berlin is indeed relevant.  It isn't a stretch to say that without it the course of popular music would have been much different.  Would we have a Low, Lust for Life, Dub Housing, Metal Box, Psychocandy, Daydream Nation or Kid A without Berlin?  Perhaps but I doubt any of those albums would have sounded quite the same without Reed's visionary recording.  Lou Reed's pulverizing portrait of a lost couple in a divided city, he had never even visited before recording, had an effect that went beyond critical acclaim or mass commercial acceptance (although time often forgets it remarkably went Top Ten in the UK).  Berlin has never been an album for all tastes but those who are touched by it are never quite the same...
I was two months old when Berlin was released in the summer of 1973.  It's strange for me these four decades later to picture Lou Reed and Bob Ezrin finishing up touches on this piece of work, that would come to mean so much to my life, as I was first coming into this world.  While I am one of many who discovered Berlin in isolation an odd community has formed around the album.  While it is too corrosive and dark to take its deserved place among rock music's most celebrated albums, this community that holds Berlin close to their hearts share a special bond and when we pass down the sometimes ominous and dark corners of our lives we can greet each other with a knowing nod and understand, as Reed so eloquently wrote, that we are indeed "more than just I". 

                                                                -Jeremy Richey, 2013-

The quotes for this piece were taken from the American Masters documentary Rock and Roll Heart and the books Beyond the Velvet Underground by Dave Thompson, Lou Reed Between the Line by Michael Wrenn and Walk on the Wild Side:  Lou Reed The Stories Behind the Songs by Chris Roberts.

Moon in the Gutter (Month By Month)

BLOG CREATED, EDITED and WRITTEN BY JEREMY RICHEY: Began in DEC 2006. The written content of all posts (excepting quotes from reviews, books, other publications) COPYRIGHT JEREMY RICHEY.