Saturday, June 30, 2012

Obscuro! podcasts, part 1

Back by popular demand, here are the original podcasts from my Obscuro! radio program which ran on WIDR FM from January '09 to October '10. The main focus of the program was outsider music, but it expanded through its run to include private press albums, avant-garde stuff, and whatever general weirdness I could dig up.

For those interested, Forte has morphed into Bizarro Jerry's Trash Radio for this summer, and features similar music but with more focus on hip hop and lo-fi. You can catch it on WIDR FM from 11 pm to 2 am Friday nights.

Episode 1 - 1-17-09


Y. Bhekhirst - Dalmar
Eyeball Skeleton - Eyeball Skeleton
Dan Bull - Afterlife
King Missile - Cheesecake Truck
Abner Jay - Cocaine Blues
Roky Erickson - I Think of Demons
Hasil Adkins - She Said
Pat Morris - We're Diabetic
Wipers - No One Wants an Alien
Meregail Moreland - Head Cheese
The Fastest Group Alive - The Bears
Cloroform - Imaginary Girlfriend
Fun-Da-Mental - Cookbook DIY
Wild Man Fischer - The Taster
Gary Wilson - Linda Wants to Be Alone
Brian Wilson - H.E.L.P. is On the Way
The Lat-Teens - Now You Know
The Causey Way - Sweat (I Used To)
High Tide - Death Warmed Up
Bill Cosby - Luv Is
The Frogs - (Thank God I Died in) The Car Crash
Pansy Division - Touch My Joe Camel
Phil Phillips - The Evil Dope
Basehead - Split Personality
Jandek - Feathered Drums
Fred Blassie - Pencil Neck Geek
Yma Sumac - Kuyaway (Inca Love Song)
Bruce Haack - Electric to Me Turn
electric eels - Accident
Van Morrison - Ring Worm
White Noise - Love Without Sound
Rappin' With Gas - Rappin' With Gas
Red Krayola - Sherlock Holmes

Episode 2 - 1-24-09


MC J'Ro'J - Let's Jump
Fez - Crippled Thing
Pigmeat Markham - Sock it to 'Em Judge
Freddy Krueger and Friends - Do the Freddy
AxCx - American Woman
Alex Chilton - Walking Dead
The O - White Man at the Ice Cube Show
Athea and the Memories - Worst Record Ever Made
Daniel Johnston - Devil Town
Ruins - Black Sabbath Medley Reversible
Y'all So Stupid - Bowl of Soul
Brian Wilson - Smart Girls
Homer and Jethro - Gonna Send 'Em Home
The Killer Shrews - We Know Your Secrets
Paul Humphrey and His Kool Aid Chemists - Detroit
The Legendary Stardust Cowboy - Paralyzed
Alexander "Skip" Spence - Grey/Afro
Mike Patton - I Killed Him Like a Dog...And He Still Laughed
Jan Terri - Get Down Goblin
Residents - Hello Skinny
Lucia Pamela - Walking on the Moon
Guided By Voices - My Valuable Hunting Knife
Butt Trumpet - I Left My Flannel in Seattle
Nervous Norvus - Transfusion
Charm Farm - Pervert
Hampton Grease Band - Hey Old Lady/Bert's Song
Dead Horse - Hank
Edward C. Hayes - The Ronald Reagan Song
Chrome - Half Machine Lip Moves
The Billy Nayer Show - The Closer She Gets
Omid (ft. Xololanxinxo, Jizzm, Radioinactive, Awol One and Circus) - Farmer's Market of the Beast

Episode 3 - 1-31-09


Modern Lovers - Pablo Picasso
Young D Boyz - Sellin' Cocaine as Usual
Kenneth Higney - Rock Star
Paul Leary - Apollo One
Arcesia - White Panther
Crispin Hellion Glover - Clowny Clown Clown
Charles Manson - Sick City
Gary Wilson - 6.4 = Make Out
Nine Former Addicts - Without God I Would Be Nothing
Wesley Willis - I Broke Out Your Windshield
Del Close and John Brent - Introduction
Fat Boys - Crushin'
Audio Two - Get Your Mother Off the Crack
Bruce Haack - Motorcycle Ride
Solar Anus - Ondorogerosu
Bob McFadden and Dor - The Mummy
God Bullies - I Want to Kill You
Beach Boys - Shortenin' Bread
Harvey Milk - Brown Water
Hasil Adkins - No More Hot Dogs
Tom Wilson - Lesbian Seagull
Orange 9mm - Kiss it Goodbye
The Modds - Leave My House
B-Ice-Cool - Toothache
Geeshie Wiley - Last Kind Word Blues
The Fugs - I Couldn't Get High
Alex Chilton - Like Flies on Sherbert
Y. Bhekhirst - Hot in the Airport
Silver Apples - You and I
R. Stevie Moore - I Not Listening
OhGr - Cracker

Episode 4 - 2-7-09


Jack Margolis and Jere Alan Brain - Listening to Music
Randy Holden - Fruit and Iceburgs
Trigger Tha Gambler - My Crew Can't Go for That
The Frogs - President No. 9
The Scramblers - Mister Hot Rod
Sun City Girls - Tarmac 23
Robbie the Werewolf - Lucifer
The O - Da Burbz
Peter Grudzien - White Trash Hillbilly Trick
Groove Holmes - Groove's Groove
The Body - Hearts Ache, Even in Dreams (City Eater)
Vienna Vegetable Orchestra - Excerpt
Fat Boys (ft. Beach Boys) - Wipeout
The Shaggs - That Little Sports Car
Brainbombs - Die You Fuck
X-Cetra - Idiotic
Dave Bixby - Drug Song
The Apollo Stars - We're Moving In
TISM - (He'll Never Be an) Old Man River
Bill Franklin - Mr. K and Mr. D
Edan (ft. Dagha) - Rock and Roll
Psyclone Rangers - Tilt-A-Whirl
Van Morrison - Have a Danish
Wynona Riders - Pack Rat
Jim Nabors - Shazam!
Wipers - When it's Over
Esham - 666
Wendell Austin - L.S.D.
Skip Spence - Land of the Sun
R. Stevie Moore - Technical Difficulty
Alice Donut - My Boyfriend's Back
Andre Williams - Greasy Chicken
David Peel - I Like Marijuana

Episode 5 - 2-14-09
(This one apparently got messed up...a few tracks at the beginning are missing)


The Showboys - That's What I Want for Christmas
David Lee Roth - Runnin' with the Devil (Isolated Vocal Track)
Shifted Grimm - You're Scene
Virgin Insanity - In the Eyes
Bloodrock - Melvin Laid an Egg
Residents - Picnic Boy
The Nite Hawks - Chicken Grabber
Fushitsusha - Magic IV
Coven - Choke, Thirst, Die
Ween - Pass the Bong
Flipper - Ever
MC Paul Barman - Burping and Farting
Ed Askew - Fancy That
Jimmy Durante - We're Going UFOing
Beach Boys - Hey Little Tomboy
Hampton Grease Band - Halifax
Matt Motzell - Oh
King Missile - Sensitive Artist
Kenneth Higney - No Heavy Trucking
Bennett L. Gemson - Gonna Get a Shot
Simply Saucer - Nazi Apocalypse
White Noise - Firebird
Daniel Johnston - Don't Play Cards with Satan
Strawberry Shortcake - Strawberry Rap
Abner Jay - I'm So Depressed
Clowns for Progress - Martian
Red Television - Witchfinder General
Nancy Walker - I Hate Men

Episode 6 - 2-21-09


The Explorer - Mr. Bach Meets Batman
Shapeshifters - Run the Crowd
Mike Rep and the Quotas - Mama was a Schitzo, Daddy was a Vegetable Man
Lucifer - Ride of Aida (Voodoo)
The Legendary Stardust Cowboy - Who's Knocking at My Door?
Beach Boys - Never Learn Not to Love
The Detergents - Leader of the Laundromat
Boots - City of Fear
The O - Get Wasted Time
Sonik Omi - Ree Baba Ree Baba
Raven - Raven Mad Jam
Soul-Junk - Vesuvius
The Novas - The Crusher
The Frogs - Cherub Rock
Crispin Hellion Glover - These Boots were Made for Walking
Butthole Surfers - American Woman
Edith Massey - Big Girls Don't Cry
Violent Onsen Geisha - Going Up the Country
Countryside Unitarian Fellowship - No Room for You
Jandek - I Passed by the Building
Mix-O-Rap - Mix-O-Rap Groove

As you can guess, only the first 6 podcasts are up now. I will try to put more up tomorrow.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Michael Haaga - 'The Plus and Minus Show'

As promised before, here's former Dead Horse frontman Michael Haaga's solo outing. Recorded in 2003, this is A LOT different than the Demonseeds album I put up earlier, and way way way different than the old Dead Horse recordings. Haaga claimed he was listening to a lot of Radiohead and the Shins when he made this album...I hate the shit out of both those groups, though, so obviously this isn't really similar.

To me, it sounds like Haaga was rockin' some Pumpkins and Nirvana...a lot of the tracks have a Pixies/grungey kinda vibe, and his voice is way too hardcore for this to be a 'soft' record. Granted, there are a lot of piano-driven ballads, but I never got the feeling he's 'mellowing out' or some shit. I dunno, just good alt-rock....not as impressive as the Demonseeds stuff, but 'Looking Beyond' 'Four Letter Words' are up there with some of his best compositions. Fuckin' dig it, cuz you won't find it anywhere else. Dunno if he's doing anything now, but he sure as fuck should be.

Michael Haaga - 'The Plus and Minus Show'

1. Same Old Strings
2. Looking Beyond
3. Mountains Fall Down...
4. If and When
5. Four Letter Words
6. Serious
7. Supernaive
8. Baby
9. Anything is Real
10. Belong
11. End of the Day


Sunday, June 24, 2012

135 greatest proto-punk songs, part 5


135 greatest proto-punk songs is completed.
part 1
part 2
part 3
part 4

This part is called 'garage.' I said before that I don't really think a lot of the 60's garage-rock stuff qualifies as proto-punk because that was just the sound then, and this compilation isn't necessarily garage-rock. Basically, these songs embody the idea of some dudes rocking out in a garage and not giving a shit about anything. These aren't the 'smart,' era-conscious musicians, or the angry, drug-fueled anti-hippies...just some fuckers playing sloppy rock music.

135 GREATEST VOL. 5 - Garage
1. Kim Fowley - Animal Man
2. Los Saicos - Demolicion
3. Fendermen - Mule Skinner Blues
4. High Tide - Death Warmed Up
5. Dies Irae - Lucifer
6. The Rabble - The Crushing Hand of Mother
7. Randy Holden - Fruit and Iceburgs
8. 13th Floor Elevators - Earthquake
9. Radio Birdman - I-94
10. The Holy Modal Rounders - Half a Mind
11. SRC - Black Sheep
12. The Shocking Blue - Love Buzz
13. Desmond Dekker - Get Up Edina
14. Link Wray and His Ray Men - Rumble
15. The Seeds - Can't Seem to Make You Mine
16. Third World War - Rat Crawl
17. The Godz - Radar Eyes
18. Jack Starr - Show Me What You Do
19. Beauregarde - Testify
20. Pentagram - Lazylady
21. 3/3 - Always
22. Styrenes - Grey Haired Rats
23. The Dictators - (I Live For) Cars and Girls
24. Bango - Rock Dream
25. Doctors of Madness - B-Movie Bedtime
26. Baby Grandmothers - Raw Diamond
27. My Solid Ground - The Executioner

***RE-UPLOADED 5/24/14***


It might be of interest that Beauregarde is a former pro-wrestler who decided to make a rock album for his entrance music, and that his guitarist is none other than a teenage Greg Sage of the Wipers. Also, Desmond Dekker's music isn't really similar to punk at all, but with fans like Op Ivy, The Clash and Rancid, he's definitely a punk influence. Lastly, Jack Starr was supposedly a special effects guy for a lot of 50's and 60's B-movies who recorded his crude garage-rock in the bathroom of his apartment.

135 greatest proto-punk songs, part 4

Woooo, down to 2 entries...this took a lot longer than I thought it would.
part 1
part 2
part 3

We're gonna call this one 'smarties.' The idea is that these musicians knew EXACTLY what they were doing, and how innovative they were being. German groups like Can and Faust set out to make revolutionary music, and 'mericans like Fifty Foot Hose and Chrome were working with exciting new technology to get new sounds. A lot of these folks are the 'art school' crowd...lotsa glam-rock and experimental stuff.

135 GREATEST VOL. 4 - Smarties
1. Can - Oh Yeah
2. Beautiful Losers - Nobody Knows the Heaven
3. Chrome - Sun Control
4. Les Yper-Sound - Psyche Rock
5. Guru Guru - Der LSD-Marsch
6. Alien City - Get Away
7. Bill Bissett and th' Mandan Massacre - My Mouth's on Fire
8. T. Rex - Mambo Sun
9. Fifty Foot Hose - Rose
10. Faust - The Sad Skinhead
11. Jonathan Halper - Leaving My Old Life Behind
12. Sweet - Ballroom Blitz
13. Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band - Moonlight on Vermont
14. Os Mutantes - A Minha Menina
15. Sparks - Barbecutie
16. Red Krayola - Hurricane Fighter Plane
17. Hampton Grease Band - Hey Old Lady/Bert's Song
18. David Bowie - Suffragette City
19. Lucifer - What was that Thing I Saw You with Last Night
20. Pink Floyd - Astronomy Domine
21. Roxy Music - Re-Make Re-Model
22. The Electronic Hole - Love Will Find a Way III
23. Zolar-X - Mirrors
24. The 101'ers - Rabies
25. Peter Hammill - Modern
26. Rocket Men - Rocket Man
27. Zerfas - You Never Win

***RE-UPLOADED 5/24/14***


I can dig some of the art-rock stuff alright...not the biggest Roxy Music or Bowie fan, but it just wouldn't be right to leave that stuff off the proto-punk list. I really like Can and Faust...more than most actual punk music. There are also some obscure tracks like the Electronic Hole (father of the American Taliban guy) and Jonathan Halper (unknown artist who did soundtracks for Kenneth Anger films). For those who don't know, the 101'ers is Joe Strummer's first band, and the Les Yper-Sound track was the basis for the 'Futurama' theme song.

135 greatest proto-punk songs, part 3

...should be able to finish up this mega-post today since I have fuck-all to do at work. Here's the third 27-song installment of the 135 greatest proto-punk songs (according to me.)
part 1

part 2

This one's kinda similar to the 'speed' post, except these bands' abrasive and uncompromising sounds were influenced more by anger than drugs...hence the title.

135 GREATEST VOL. 3 - Anger
1. Screamin' Jay Hawkins - I Put a Spell on You
2. Big Star - Thank You Friends
3. Michael Yonkers Band - Boy in the Sandbox
4. Rotomagus - Fightin' Cock
5. Bob Thompson and Doug Snyder - Hit and Run
6. Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention - Trouble Every Day
7. The Fugs - CIA Man
8. Question Mark and the Mysterians - 96 Tears
9. electric eels - Accident
10. The Kinks - Brainwashed
11. Nihilist Spasm Band - Destroy the Nations
12. Death - Keep On Knocking
13. The Dogs - X-Ray Me, Baby
14. Love - Seven and Seven Is
15. Memphis Goons - Indian Giver
16. The Beatles - Helter Skelter
17. Saint Anthony's Fyre - Get Off
18. The Phantom - Love Me
19. David Peel and the Lower East Side - Here Comes a Cop
20. Crushed Butler - It's My Life
21. Oliver - Cat and the Rat
22. Simply Saucer - Bullet Proof Nothing
23. Creedence Clearwater Revival - Commotion
24. Ozzie - I'm So Stupid
25. Roger Rubin and Rotfree Anderson - Tribute to Hypocrites
26. Chico Magnetic Band - Cross Town Traffic
27. Alice Cooper - I'm Eighteen

***RE-UPLOADED 5/24/14***


Another nice mix of the standards (Jay Hawkins, Kinks, Alice Cooper) and the oddball shit (Ozzie, Roger Rubin, Chico Magnetic). Some people might have some qualms with my inclusion of 'Helter Skelter,' which I guess is more proto-metal than anything, but I dare you to find a John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band song that's better than this one. Also, if you don't see that Creedence is proto-punk, then I guess the Minutemen aren't punk. Something interesting is that the Bob Thompson and Doug Snyder album was recorded immediately after the two saw the Stooges play live.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

135 greatest proto-punk songs, part 2

....aaand right into part two. This one's a little more exciting than part 1, I think. I'm calling this one 'Unintentional,' because most of these folks didn't know exactly what they were doing. However, the music they made either influenced punk rock, or sounded a LOT like it years in advance. You'll find everything from misguided Christian records to shit made by flat-out-crazy people. Enjoy.

135 GREATEST VOL. 2 - Unintentional
1. Cromagnon - Caledonia
2. The Keggs - To Find Out
3. Randy Rice - Mrs. Bitch
4. The Shaggs - Who Are Parents
5. Charles Manson - Sick City
6. Skip Spence - Grey/Afro
7. Silver Apples - Ruby
8. Residents - En-Er-Gee (Crisis Blues)
9. YaHoWa 13 - Fire in the Sky
10. Simon Finn - Jerusalem
11. The Novas - The Crusher
12. Henry Flynt and the Insurrections - I Don't Wanna
13. Wild Man Fischer - The Taster
14. Debris - Witness
15. The New Creation - Sodom and Gomorrah
16. George Brigman - Don't Bother Me
17. Pip Proud - Purple Boy Bang
18. The Blue's Men - Hermosa Nena
19. Kenneth Higney - No Heavy Trucking
20. Stephen David Heitkotter - Fly Over the Moon
21. Virgin Insanity - In the Eyes
22. Modern Lovers - Pablo Picasso
23. The Church Mice - Babe, We're Not Part of Society
24. The Legendary Stardust Cowboy - Paralyzed
25. First Chips - Pieces
26. Circuit Rider - Forever Angel's Proud
27. Hasil Adkins - She Said

***RE-UPLOADED 5/24/14***


So, you've got the crazies (Heitkotter, Wild Man Fischer, Hasil Adkins, Kenneth Higney, Skip Spence, etc.) who probably didn't have any idea how revolutionary the music they were making was, along with the misguided (The Blue's Men, Modern Lovers, New Creation. First Chips) who, in attempting to do 'regular' rock, came up with something new and exciting. Some of these folks can't play their instruments too well (Shaggs, Henry Flynt, and Circuit Rider, I'm lookin' at you) but nonetheless do some interesting stuff. Check out the proto-synth-punk madness of Debris' 'Witness' and the drunken garage rock of the Keggs' 'To Find Out.' Oh  yeah, and uncle Charlie, too. He might've made folk music, but what's more punk rock than dropping acid and killing celebrities?

135 greatest proto-punk songs, part 1

Yep, as you can guess, this is going to be an EPIC post. Some of you may know that I co-host a show on WIDR FM called Society's Fault, where we do segments on proto-punk, punk, and post-punk. Between that and the Obscuro! radio program I did a while back, I'm pretty sure I've uncovered ALL the proto-punk there is to hear. I'm not bragging; it's pretty depressing, actually. Where do I go from here? Welllllll, organization and sharing, of course! So here's the first installment of the 135 Greatest Proto-Punk Songs of All Time. Why 135? Because I was aiming for 100 and went way over.

I'm going to try splitting them up in a coherent manner, but we'll see how that goes. I'm calling this first installment 'Speed,' because these are all artists who notoriously did a lot of amphetamines. Maybe that influenced their music, maybe not, but the groups in question tend to be louder and faster than the average 60's/70's fare.

135 GREATEST VOL. 1 - Speed
1. Mad River - Amphetamine Gazelle
2. Pink Fairies - Do It
3. Pere Ubu - Life Stinks
4. The Monks - I Hate You
5. The Sonics - Strychnine
6. Wicked Lady - Sin City
7. Stooges - I Wanna Be Your Dog
8. Sleepy Sleepers - Liuskis Layskis Lepakko
9. Rocket from the Tombs - Ain't It Fun
10. The Who - My Generation
11. Edgar Broughton Band - Why Can't Somebody Love Me
12. Blue Cheer - Parchment Farm
13. Destroy All Monsters - Vampire
14. Three Souls in My Mind - Amphetamine
15. Mahogany Brain - Silkskin Dawn
16. The Elastik Band - Spazz
17. Black Sabbath - Paranoid
18. The Deviants - I'm Coming Home
19. Runaways - Cherry Bomb
20. MC5 - Kick Out the Jams
21. Raven - Raven Mad Jam
22. New York Dolls - Frankenstein
23. Hawkwind - Time We Left This World
24. Groundhogs - Junkman
25. Hot Poop - Always Play with My Food
26. Night Sun - Plastic Shotgun
27. Velvet Underground - Sister Ray

***RE-UPLOADED 5/24/14***


So, there are obviously some pretty well-known tracks in here, but also hopefully some shit you've never heard. I couldn't rightly create a 'greatest proto-punk' list without the Stooges or the Who, and I was going to arrange them by well-known and lesser-known, but this seems better to me. Some notorious speed users are the Pink Fairies/Deviants crew, Rocket from the Tombs, Sabbath, The Monks and VU, but then there are some guesses on my part. I would be very surprised, however, if the Elastik Band and Night Sun tracks weren't speed-influenced. And yes, you can debate some of these choices...

Saturday, June 16, 2012


Hey y'all. If there are any albums you want re-uploaded, please give me a shout at

I would be more than happy to update links, but I don't have time to update them all constantly, so most will be unavailable a few weeks after posting, unless I'm asked otherwise.


Saturday, June 9, 2012

Films 4

According to my 'stats,' people seem to like these film reviews, so here's a few more while I'm bored at work.

'The Groove Tube' - 1974
Maybe you know Richard Belzer from TV's 'Law and Order.' His character Detective John Munch has been on pretty much every cop show ever...even 'The X-Files.' So, perhaps it's surprising, then, that Belzer used to be a foul-mouthed, drug-fueled standup comic. This culminated in 'The Groove Tube,' an hour-and-20-minute sketch comedy film. Yeah, Chevy Chase is in it too. He's pretty good, but Belzer steals the show, especially in the sketch called 'The Dealers.'

If you dig 70's stoner humor like 'Cheech and Chong,' or 'Kentucky Fried Movie,' you'll definitely dig this. I don't remember much of the indivual sketches, but I remember Belzer being particularly hilarious as a black prostitute. Just some good, crude fun.

'Pink Flamingos' - 1972
If you like trashy, weird cinema, you're probably already familiar with John Waters' mega-offensive early films. Yes, 'Hairspray' and 'Pecker' are hilarious, but I've always been partial to the no-budget pictures Waters made in the 70's with the Dreamland crew. First of all, most of these actors are dead. One stepped on some glass while on PCP and bled to death. Another from AIDS. Divine him/herself died from obesity, basically. While working on these films, John Waters was expelled from college for smoking dope.We're talking about a pretty trashy bunch of people.

The first time I watched this film, it was with a roomful of people who had never seen it. By the end of the film, only three of us were left. It's pretty gross. But, if you can find the humor in a pervert tying a sausage to his dick or a white trash hair-farmer yelling 'Do my balls, mama!' then you'll be able to stick it out.

Basically all of Waters' films are worth checking out, if you're looking for something tamer than this, 'Hairspray' or 'Polyester' would work.

'Bubba Ho-Tep' - 2002
Don Coscarelli's 'Phantasm' tops many 'weird film' lists. This one is his lesser-known horror-comedy with Bruce Campbell. By putting this on here, I avoid the two obvious choices of 'Phantasm' and 'Evil Dead II.' You've read 1,000 reviews for those ones, I'm sure, so I don't need to throw in my 2 cents.

What's notable about this film is that, while it's about an Elvis impersonator (possibly the real Elvis) and a black dude who thinks he's JFK meeting in a retirement home and fighting a mummy, it's not really all that funny or cheesy. It's actually pretty serious. Leave it to Coscarelli to turn an unbelievably stupid idea into legitimate art.

While there are some funny one-liners, suspense is the most important mood here. It's low-budget, sure, but no more so than 'Phantasm.' Plus, it doesn't move quite as slowly as that film. And, it's got Bruce Campbell in one of his last respectable roles. 'The Man with the Screaming Brain' was just awful, I thought.

Anyhow, this is like the b-movie equivalent of a supergroup, so if you're into cheap horror, you'll wanna pick this one up.

'Repo Chick' - 2009
Alex Cox's 'Repo Man' is one of my favorite films ever. The only reason I haven't posted it up here yet is because it's one of the better-known 'strange' films, and I felt I could clue y'all into some more obscure stuff (I mean, this IS Obscuro, after all.) If you haven't seen 'Repo Man,' definitely check that out first. It's a punk-rock-action-scifi-comedy that's apparently an allegory for nuclear war. After seeing this in high school, I immediately sought out all of Cox's available films...the punk-rock spaghetti western 'Straight to Hell,' the slow, Jesus-story 'Three Businessmen,' and the historical work 'Walker.' Oh yeah, and 'Sid and Nancy.' All are good, but I was promised a 'Repo Man' sequel, right? I mean, Alex even wrote the script ('Waldo's Hawaiian Holiday') in the 80's.

Then, I heard that Cox was planning a sequel finally...nothing to do with the original script, starring only Miguel Sandoval from the original, and entirely shot on a green screen. Could be really shitty, right?

But sometimes you gotta just have faith that people don't get shittier at things as they get older. This shit is wild. Really wild. Totally maintains the spirit of the original, while doing something completely new. It reminded me vaguely of Mike Judge's 'Idiocracy,' but more colorful and cartoonish. And, Cox's token oddball dialog is still intact.

I think this is finally available on DVD, too, so you don't have to wait around for it to come to some tiny theatre in your town. I played that game for like two years to no avail. Basically, Alex Cox definitely hasn't lost his touch. This one's gonna be a classic.

'The Happiness of the Katakuris' - 2001
I see lots of Takashi Miike films on 'weirdest' lists...'Visitor Q,' 'Gozu,' 'The Audition,' etc. But not much love for this one. I saw this in high school before I knew about this guy and his reputation for completely fucked cinema. I'd still say it's ten times weirder and more enjoyable than any of the aforementioned titles. Like the tagline says, it's pretty much a horror musical. Lots of crazy violence, lots of catchy 80's-style songs, and lots of full-cast dance numbers. There's also a completely deranged claymation intro for some reason.

If you've seen any of Miike's other films, you know they can be uncomfortable to watch. This one is a bit more tame, and I think is a really good introduction to his work. Even better maybe than 'Ichi the Killer.' Whatever the case, it's a mind-blower.

Alright, I think that's enough for now. Enjoy this week's movies, and here's a tip: Veehd and Stagevu have most of these up. If you google the film title and 'Veehd' or 'Stagevu,' you'll probably be able to find them pretty quickly. Good quality, too.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Films 3

Okay, by request, here's some more films that are well outside-the-norm. On a similar note, I haven't seen 'Branded to Kill' yet, but it sounds great so it'll probably get posted here at some point.

'Combat Shock' - 1986
Yeah yeah, it's a Troma movie, and I said I would hold back on the horror comedy genre, but this is most certainly NOT your average Troma picture. Don't watch this movie unless you're kind of pissed off at the world, otherwise it'll bum you out really bad.

On the surface, 'Combat Shock' is a pretty regular post-Vietnam film. Guy gets back from the war, nobody is happy for him, he's kinda crazy, he can't find work, and he's got a newborn to take care of. Only problem is the newborn suffers from Agent Orange poisoning and looks more like the baby in 'Eraserhead.' In fact, this film has quite a bit in common with 'Eraserhead.' It's kind of like a streetwise, tougher, more linear version of that film. It's also, if possible, more disturbing and depressing, and definitely more violent.

I won't give too much away, but if you want to see something that's so realistic it almost hurts, check this'un out.

'Solaris' - 1972
This one is a lot more well-known than some of these weirdo films. That doesn't mean it's any less weird, though. Maybe you're familiar with the 2002 remake by Steven Soderbergh, which I haven't seen, but this is the OG adaptation of Stanislaw Lem's novel by Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky.

So, we're in space, some folks are investigating a recently-discovered planet called Solaris. One dude starts seeing his dead wife walking around the space station, and gets a little too attached to her. Yeah, there's really not a whole lot going on. That doesn't matter though, because in the right mood this film will really get inside your head. It's slooooowwww, but not in a boring way...lots of unusual effects, like different film colors (sepiatone is featured heavily, I think) and weird future stuff. Maybe 1972's idea of the future seems a little outdated, but it kinda seems cooler than what actually happened...

Lem, the author of the 'Solaris' novel, didn't think this version of the film (or the remake, for that matter) stayed true to his original idea of extraterrestrial communication, but I think the message carried through. Basically, it's saying that if an alien lifeform tried to communicate with us, we would probably have no idea what to do because its communication form would be nothing like ours. Pretty interesting stuff. Calmly weird, whereas some of this stuff is beat-you-over-the-head fucked up.

'Xtro' - 1983
In the early 80's, EVERYONE wanted a piece of 'E.T.' Right down to the fact that someone decided to make 'Mac and Me,' an even more commercialized version of the E.T. story. Yeah, nobody like that shit. However, lots of Italians and Brits wanted to make 'negative' E.T. know...'Alien' knockoffs without all the money, and with more 'familial'-type settings than a bunch of astronauts fucking around.

I dunno about some of the others, but 'Xtro' is pretty damn cool...and also surprisingly surreal. Let's see...some kid's dad gets stolen by aliens...a few years later, the alien comes back and gets his wife pregnant, then she gives birth to her full-grown husband and she obviously dies. The kid and his new alien-dad start hanging out and doing alien things to people. The kid also has a bad habit of making surreal clowns and shit appear when he's mad.

I wouldn't blame you if you started dozing halfway through this gets pretty slow in the middle, but then the weirdness kicks in. I'm guessing the director was influenced quite a bit by Dario Argento's pictures, because it has that same surreal look, but it's definitely not an Argento ripoff.

'Fantastic Planet' - 1973
I thought this was a pretty popular 'weird' movie, but maybe not. I guess if you're into 'adult' animation and its origins, you've probably heard of this one, or maybe you just stick to 'Family Guy.' Anyhow, the 70's were a really good time for animated pictures...Ralph Bakshi was doin' 'Fritz the Cat,' 'Heavy Traffic,' 'Wizards,' and 'Coonskin,' and the French were just ripping through fucked up sci-fi stuff like this.

'Fantastic Planet' seems like a really anti-human film to me, which is kind of cool. In the distant future, humans are kept as pets by giant blue aliens with dead eyes. Some of them rudely escape (really, you don't feel any sympathy for them...I felt way worse for the little alien dude losing his pet) and go live in the weird-ass 'forests' of their new home planet. There isn't much dialog, which is good because I've only been able to find this film with subtitles for the French. Maybe it makes me an ugly American that I hate that, but if I'm watching an animated film, I want to be paying attention to the action, not reading.

This one's got a weird cutout animation style that's kind of like bizarro-proto-'South Park.' Plus, whereas most modern-day adult animation is humor-oriented, this isn't really funny at all, just creepy. I only put this film up here, but director Rene Laloux did two other badass animated features in the 80's called 'Time Masters' and 'Gandahar' (aka 'Light Years.') Both of these are definitely worth checking out, too. It was a little easier to follow the story in 'Time Masters,' but it's not quite as creepy as this one.

'Putney Swope' - 1969
I've seen Robert Downey Sr.'s 'Greaser's Palace' and 'Pound' on a lot of weird-film lists, but this one not so much. Yeah, 'Greaser's Palace' is totally incomprehensible and hilarious and 'Pound' has people acting like dogs, but neither of them have a dope-smoking German midget as the US president or a fucked-up biker dude telling a roomful of advertising execs that a glass of beer is 'pee-pee dicky.'

Downey, the guy who reportedly made his 3-year-old son get high, wrote and directed this completely stoned comedy about a black dude working in an advertising firm who ends up taking over when the president dies. The joke is that all the other execs vote for him figuring no one else will, in an effort to throw their votes away. He then turns their company into the 'Truth and Soul' firm and starts making street-smart commercials.

Sounds like some SNL/Rodney Dangerfield type shit, right? But this is the most off-the-wall, bizarre comedy I've ever seen. Chock full of memorable one-liners, you'll probably end up watching this one a few times just because the jokes are so hilarious. I'll give a few examples:
-Two Asian fellows are randomly throwing firecrackers in the hallway before their meeting with Truth and Soul. Putney (the black dude) walks out and says 'What's their bag? Do-it-yourself Pearl Harbor?'
-A fake ad for box fans that features a woman dancing to psychedelic music and saying 'You can't eat an air conditioner!'
-The tiny German president inviting Putney to 'shoot up in the big city' with him.

If that's not enough, Louis C.K. cites this film as a direct influence on his short films and TV show.

'Ginseng King' - 1988
We're gonna finish things out today with one that's so obscure it's probably impossible to find. I got this film on a VHS rip from a pirate video website years ago, and was not disappointed, aside from some of the subtitles being cut off.

This is a low-budget horror-comedy-action-fantasy from Thailand, so you know it's gonna be fucked. I can't tell you too much about the plot because it doesn't really make that much sense, but it's some kid saving his mom with the help of a living ginseng root that follows him around, THEN the ginseng root gets kidnapped by a three-headed monster and the kid has to help it. Then, there's a Nazi zombie. I dunno, a lot of it is filmed in the woods because it's REALLY low-budget, but it's got some completely incomprehensible computerized special effects as well.

If you are into b-horror films, and especially the ill-advised foreign ones, you'll wanna track this down. There's a brief article on it at this blog.

That's it for today...

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Films 2

A sequel to this post.
So, I've been scouring the internet while bored at work, trying to find some unusual movies to watch and came to the realization that I've probably seen all of them. Yup. I can only find a handful of challenging, strange-sounding films I haven't seen, and this is disappointing. I mean, granted, some of my favorite films are pretty 'normal,' like 'Wonder Boys,' 'Chinatown' and 'Evil Dead,' but the majority of movies I really like are kind of out there, and that's what you come here for anyhow.
So, here's a brief list of some totally fucked up movies that are worth checking out:

'House' (aka 'Hausu') - 1977
Reportedly, the director of this film was asked to make a 'Jaws'-style movie for Japanese audiences, and somehow this is what came out. Director Nobuhiko Obayashi was involved in television commercials before this, and the movie has a LOT of commercial-type stuff...quick jump-cuts, purposely unrealistic special effects, and amateur actors.

Basically, it's about a girl who is pissed at her dad for wanting to bring his new girlfriend (her mother has been dead a while) on their summer vacation, so she goes to visit her mom's sister with her friends instead. Turns out her mom's sister is actually dead, and needs to eat all the unmarried girls in order to set her own soul free. Or something like that. Or it's her cat who's evil/dead. Yeah, it's nothing like 'Jaws.'

'What Is It?' and 'It Is Fine! Everything Is Fine.' - 2005 and 2007 respectively

Crispin Glover is fucking insane. I mean, he's also probably one of the best character actors in the world, and a brilliant filmmaker, but that's beside the point. These films don't appear on too many 'weirdest films' lists, probably because Glover refuses to release them on DVD, preferring instead to travel the country's small arthouse cinemas doing question-and-answer sessions. I managed to catch these in a double feature in Grand Rapids, and found Mr. Glover to be a really nice and intelligent fellow, if incredibly awkward. The films, on the other hand...

'What Is It?' is pretty's got lots of Nazi imagery, and the entire cast has Down's Syndrome except for Glover. It's also the only film I've ever seen to feature music from both racist country singer Johnny Rebel and cult leader Charles Manson. Yeah, it's completely offensive on every level, and bizarre to the point of alienating almost everyone. I loved it, though. I guess it helps if you've seen Glover in 'River's Edge' or heard his album from the late 80' me, what really made the film work was the contrast of a really nice, quiet guy casually putting unbelievable offensive shit out there.

'It Is Fine! Everything Is Fine.' is mayyyyybe a little more 'tame.' It's pretty much the film-equivalent of a Wesley Willis album or something. Glover somehow got hold of a script written by a creepy amateur guy with cerebral palsy. The script was all about a guy with cerebral palsy who the women can't get enough of, even though he gets really pissed off when his dick doesn't work and kills them. I think he intended it to be an afterschool-special type drama, but Glover turned it into something else entirely. Oh yeah, and he put the author of the script in the starring role. They actually just barely finished the film before the dude died.

The film does have elements of 70's television, but it's more like a sitcom. Well, the sets and the delivery of the actors anyhow. The film itself is more horror than anything. I dunno, I can't really even convey how fucking gone this one is. You'll just have to look it up on Netflix, er.....nevermind. Seriously though, see it if you can, and talk to Crispin afterwards. He's super cool.

'Easy Wheels' - 1989
Speaking of 70's television, here's Sam and Ivan Raimi's biker parody film. Obviously, this is kind of cheesy--I mean, it's coming from the bros who made the 'Evil Dead' trilogy, as well as 'Darkman.' I'd say this is a little more fucked than 'Evil Dead,' though. It's about two rival biker gangs, a girl gang and a guy gang. The girl gang are kidnapping babies in order to have wolves raise them, creating a super wolf-girl race. Why? Because the main biker girl was in fact raised by wolves. The guy bikers are trying to solve the baby-nappings, and find good light beer. Huh?

Yeah, it's silly, slapstick, and kinda low-budget, but it's also incredibly weird. I don't think I've laughed this hard at a movie in a long time. And the laughs are intentional, which is even better.
'Hair High' - 2004
First off, the Simpsons wouldn't exist without the work of Bill Plympton. It's well-publicized that Matt Groening was a huge fan of this dude's early work, and you might've even seen it on MTV back in the day. He did '10 Ways to Quit Smoking' and 'Your Face,' both pretty popular during the 'Liquid Television' era. His full-length films are all pretty messed up...lots of things morphing into other things, senseless violence, and scatological humor. But it's all so artistic that you never really notice how low-brow most of the topics are.

This one is like 'Grease' in hell. Popular girl falls for shy, nerdy guy...her football player boyfriend runs them off the road killing them right before prom, then tries to steal the prom-king crown. Girl and nerd dude come back to live and scare the shit out of everyone. It's kind of like 'Superjail,' 'South Park,' the work of Ralph Bakshi and 'Happy Days' all thrown in a blender together. If you're a fan of 'adult' animation like the previously mentioned stuff, you need to start watching Bill Plympton's films now. Matt Groening even does a character's voice in this one.

'Street Trash' - 1987
If you can't stand low-budget stuff, prolly stay away from this one...I don't think I've seen many lower-budget films....however, if you like trash cinema like John Waters' early works and the Troma library, you'll love the shit outta this. From melting hobos to blatantly racist comments to fat guys exploding, there isn't a second of this movie that doesn't make you feel dirty. Almost the whole thing is filmed in back-alleys and dumps, and there's not really a single likeable character. That's okay, though, because this is the ultimate work of 1980's VHS-haze. This stuff is probably the reason Harmony Korine made 'Trash Humpers.'
Oh yeah, the story...basically, a cheap Jew of a convenience store clerk (hey, THEY said it, not me) starts selling some gut-rot liquor he finds in his basement. Hobos love it because it's cheap, but turns out it melts them. While this is happening, a crazed Vietnam vet has declared himself king of the homeless, and is fucking shit up left and right. The two stories eventually come together violently. Lots of other offensive garbage happens along the way, and it's all great. An hour and a half of the sleaziest stuff you'll ever see on film.

'TerrorVision' - 1986

Okay, I'm trying to do a diverse list of films here, but I couldn't resist putting one more cheesy 80's horror-comedy. Granted, a lot of films that fall within this category are just shitty, but Full Moon Pictures has been known to put out some gems. Check out 'Trancers' or 'Puppet Master' if you want to see zero-budget done right. This one doesn't seem to have a much larger budget, but it's more colorful and humorous than either of those films. So, then. We've got a gun-crazed granddad who eats lizard tails because 'it's a self-regenerating food source,' an obnovious 80's girl and her punker boyfriend named O.D., an alien television signal terrorizing a yuppie-swinger family, and a goofy soundrack by Cali art-rockers The Fibonaccis.

If that doesn't do it for you, how about the fact that, while rated R (I think,) the movie goes WAY out of its way to not use any curse words. This makes for some downright ridiculous dialog, which doesn't even make sense because there's nudity and tons of violence. Charles Band is a fucker, for sure. The plot is just as silly--yuppies get a fancy satellite TV which accidentally pulls in a signal from outer space. I guess it's where some extraterrestrials trapped a criminal alien, because he shows up and starts killing the family one by one. Hilarity ensues.

'Forbidden Zone' - 1982
I love Oingo Boingo, and I grew up with Danny Elfman's soundtrack work, so I was floored when I first got to college and found out that Danny and his brother Richard made an Eraserhead-style musical comedy before forming their acting troupe into the Oingo Boingo band. This was especially true when I read that the only other film Richard made was a whacked-out horror-comedy called 'Shrunken Heads' (a Full Moon release, actually) that I had seen on VHS in grade school.

Like I said, it's a lot like 'Eraserhead'....AND 'Rocky Horror Picture Show.' Somehow. I'm sure these folks were all into the works of Luis Bunuel and David Lynch, but it's not just some surreal black-and-white knockoff. There is nothing else like this movie. Rapid-fire jokes, totally fucked characters, and obviously great musical numbers make this probably the coolest thing Danny Elfman ever did.

The plot, while not really important, involves a family disappearing into the 8th dimension, which is actually in their basement. They meet the king and queen of said dimension, piss them off, get incarcerated, and get involved in a number of scandals. Like I said, not really important. The plot is mostly an excuse to have all sorts of fucked up stuff going on. Trust me, if you are a fan of the surreal and can track down this film, you will not regret it.

'Kill the Moonlight' - 1994
This one isn't so much weird as it is quirky. The first feature film of Steve Hanft, who went on to direct some great music videos in the mid-90's, this film is the embodiment of 90's slackerdom. If you're a Beck fan, it's notable that this is where the 'I'm a driver, I'm a winner' line in 'Loser' comes from, and was also a big inspiration for the lyrics of that song. It's about a slacker guy who wants to be a famous stock car racer, but can't really get his shit together. We follow him around as he smokes dope with his friends, argues with his dad and cleans up toxic waste.

I's kinda slow, and reminds me of Linklater's 'Slacker' film, but it's got a vibe all its own. As an added bonus, Beck composed the majority of the soundtrack, along with Hanft's own band Loser. It's got a couple laugh-out-loud moments, but is mostly just a subdued piece of 90's weirdness. If you dig 'Slacker,' or Beck's early musical output, you'll get into this one for sure.

Alright...I think that's it for now...I'll probably post some more movies soon because I've got nothing to do at work and that seems to be the norm.