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Friday, August 19, 2016

A Final Audience With Lilli Carati and A Look At Reel Gore's First Release VIOLENT SHIT

When Lilli Carati tragically passed away, after a long battle with Brain cancer, just before Halloween in 2014 the Italian genre cinema lost one of its most fascinating and mysterious stars. Born Ileana Caravati in Lombardy, Italy in 1956, Carati grew up loving the arts, film and music and began working as a model as a teenager. Before she was even twenty, Carati was appearing in a number of Italy's most popular magazines and in 1975 she was nearly crowned Miss Italy. 1975 is also the year that she would first begin her soon to be blossoming acting career with a brief appearance in Sergio Corbucci's anthology film Di che segno sei?. Carati quickly became an in demand figure in the Italian film industry and throughout the mid to late seventies she appeared in a slew of pictures ranging from Italian Sex Comedies to Police Action works. Carati was beautiful and vivacious and by 1978 was even beginning to attract some filmmakers in the art house world such as Lina Wertmüller, who cast her in a small role in her 1978 production A Night Full of Rain. It was a different 1978 production that Carati would most be remembered for though in a film as far removed from Wertmüller's world as imaginable.

Fernando Di Leo's To Be Twenty remains one of the most disturbing and shocking films of the seventies, mostly due to a vicious ending that will leave even the most jaded genre film fan reeling. Carati, along with her co-star Gloria Guida, gives an unforgettable performance and the film remains the high water mark of her career. To Be Twenty is a troubling work but Carati really shines in the film with a performance that is funny, provocative and very sexy. Following Di Leo's controversial work Carati would continue working throughout the eighties but personal problems coincided with a dying Italian film industry and by the end of the decade Carati found herself broke, depressed and desperate...three factors that led her into hardcore work that she clearly didn't want to be doing. Disillusioned by the film industry she had once so much loved, a heartbroken Carati all but retired in the early nineties and disappeared from the public spotlight nearly for good.

According to the liner notes of the inaugural Blu-ray/DVD set from Reel Gore Releasing Violent Shit, Italian filmmaker Luigi Pastore tracked Carati down in 2012 and "attempted to revive her career" with a role specifically written for her in his Dorian's Dark Fairytale. Sadly, Carati became very ill around that time the first footage was shot and "Pastore was unable to complete the film without her." Thankfully, as a tribute to her memory, Pastore decided to use the footage in his newest film, Violent Shit, and Carati's final moments on celluloid can now be viewed on Reel Gore's extravagant first release. Fans, like myself, can also watch the final moving interview that the still glowing Carati gave before she became sick, on the set's exhaustive special features, where she is clearly excited and happy to be returning to film. The interview is a poignant viewing experience and is a highlight of Reel Gore's first release.

As a film, Violent Shit is a bit all over the place. An updating of the notorious no budget German shocker, Pastore's film is meant as a tribute to the great Italian Giallo productions of the seventies and eighties and is filled with as many references and cameos as it can pack into its under 90 minute running time. Fans of the genre will no doubt have a blast trying to catch all of the references, which range from the obvious to the sly, but the film doesn't really go anywhere until its final half hour when it finally does live up to its title with a series of vicious killings that will prove very pleasing to both gore hounds and special effects enthusiasts. David Bracci's old-school practical effects are the major pleasure the film offers along with the very pleasing, if plundering, Claudio Simonetti soundtrack, which is thankfully included as a CD Bonus.

While the film is only marginally succesful, Reel Gore's delivery of it is out of this world. Arriving as a 3 disc set, with a lavish full color booklet, Reel Gore have announced themselves as a major new player on the home video scene with this release. Containing interviews, documentaries, trailers, a collectable card and the aforementioned soundtrack, Reel Gore's release of Violent Shit is among the most noteworthy of the summer. Issues with the film aside, all of the supplements are fascinating to watch and the Simonetti soundtrack is a strong and vibrant listen. Cult Epics founder Nico B and film producer Steve Aquilina’s new horror label is one to watch and their second packed release, Masks, is just around the corner.
More information on Reel Gore can be found at their official site, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

-Jeremy Richey, 2016-

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."

"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." 

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 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.