Saturday, December 6, 2008

Forrest J. Ackerman 1916-2008

Forrest J. Ackerman, editor/publisher of the legendary "Famous Monsters Of Filmland" magazine, and celebrated horror/sci-fi (he coined the term 'sci-fi') author and overgrown fan-boy (he reputedly owned one of the most comprehensive collections of horror/monster memorabilia in the world), passed away Thursday, December 4, 2008. He was 92. I was a huge fan of his magazine (subscribed for many years in my childhood/adolescence) and 'Forry' was an inspiration to many other horror film fans. He counts names like Stephen King, Steven Spielberg, Joe Dante, John Landis, and countless others, as his fans. (above photo by Alan Light)

Famous Monsters Online magazine

A superb historical article can be read here.

Pete M. Wyer - "Stories From The City At Night" CD

Brighton, UK-based composer/sound designer Wyer here creates a series of vivid and cinematic spoken-text tracks, accompanied by lush and filmic atmospheric backdrops. Wyer's use of field recordings provides a real-life and dirty vibe for his otherwise well-orchestrated mini-soundtracks. Each song here is a part of a puzzle, or possibly an independent vignette - dissecting life within New York City. It's all done in a romantic and stylish, almost beat-poetry fashion. From the gruff and resonant voice of Wally Burr (on the 18-minute opener 'Rain At Night') to the smoky jazz/lounge vibes of 'Somebody', with Carol Lipnik. 'Dina's Diner' is a cool beat-jazz poetry piece with Caryn Havlik's voice and Matthew Shipp's piano, among others. 'Night Ride By Subway Car' is a more ominous bit of late-night (near-industrial) ambiance, with words by Thirsty Ear label-head Peter Gordon. 'Pray For Me' features award-winning actress Jenny Agutter on a sorrowful and dramatic goodbye, and 'Imprint' ends it all with a brief and hopeful whistle. A tasteful and artful set of urban soundtracks that are well worth a listen. (Thirsty Ear)

Pete M. Wyer site

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

"Repo! The Genetic Opera"

Thought I'd give some space/time to helping promote this new horror/sci-fi/musical with some rather interesting musical ties. It's playing in select cities (not national distribution as yet), but watch for it on DVD in the coming months. The film features Alexa Vega, Paul Sorvino, Bill Moseley (Texas Chainsaw Massacre II, Rob Zombie's movies), Paris Hilton, Ogre (of Skinny Puppy), Sarah Brightman, Anthony Stewart-Head (of Buffy fame), and others. It's directed by Darren Bousman, who's probably best-known for directing several of the 'Saw' movies. The soundtrack includes contributions from folks like Eric Powell (of 16Volt), Joseph Bishara (Drown), Poe, Rich Patrick (Filter), Melora Creager (Rasputina), and members of bands like Jane's Addiction, Bauhaus/Love & Rockets, Slipknot, Guns 'N Roses, Rob Zombie's band, and others.

official website with more info

And here's the official theatrical trailer:

"Blood Harvest" (director: Bill Rebane)

This 1987 low-budget slasher/horror flick is notable really only for starring the inimitable Tiny Tim (as the weirdo clown-dressing brother Mervo who sings his odd little songs throughout the film), as well as an early appearance by Peter Krause, who would, years later, go on to play Nate on the superb HBO series 'Six Feet Under'.
Otherwise, there's not a lot to go on. Itonia Salchek plays Jill, a lovely young lady who returns to her small hometown only to find her parents missing. Her creepy childhood friend (and his freaky aforementioned brother) appears, and makes the usual advances on her while her boyfriend (Krause) goes missing, too. Things get hairy for Jill, culminating in a finale that's pretty typical of 80's slashers. Nothing extraordinary as far as blood/gore goes (it's pretty mild, really), and the nubile Salchek appears topless a few times, but really, this film would barely garner an 'R' rating these days. Nah.

"The House Of The Rising Punk" DVD (director: Christian Dreher)

This 1998 documentary chronicles the early-mid 70's New York pre-punk music scene, told via a series of firsthand accounts from some of the great artists who helped to spawn it (Patti Smith, Tom Verlaine, Richard Hell, Jim Jarmusch, Alan Vega, Legs McNeil, etc.). Of course, this tale involves Hilly Kristal and his Bowery club, CBGB's, which gave these artists and others (Blondie, Talking Heads, Television, Suicide, Ramones, New York Dolls, Wayne/Jayne County, Stooges, etc.) a place to play and grow. 'Rising Punk' is brief (60 minutes), with no extra features, but it doesn't need more. There are tons of rare photos and film clips to illustrate the importance and relevance of New York's CBGB's scene, and it's relation to the 'punk' explosion in general. An excellent and informative look at a counterculture that was (at the time) untainted by commercial pressures or corporate marketing. Recommended for anyone wondering about the genesis of punk rock and alternative music in general. (ABC Entertainment via MVD Visual)

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Die Warzau - "Vinyl88" CD

Who would've thought that the finest electronic-rock (aka 'industrial') album in recent years would come from an almost-forgotten duo of producers/artists who've only released 2 albums in 14 years?
Chicago's Die Warzau, consisting of programmer Van Christie and vocalist Jim Marcus here unleash a torrent of classic heavy funk-laced electro-stompers with finesse and a keen socio-political conscience.
'Vinyl88' is a kind of 'best of' set, but these mostly-90's-era dancefloor greats are remixed and remade, and wow, do they smoke! Beginning with the previously download-only 'Insect', which has some of the most stunning production I've heard on a track of this nature in many a year (this one is great to work out/test speakers with), Christie and Marcus prove they have the songwriting chops as well as production skills to spare (a necessity in this genre) . I can't forget to mention that 'Insect', while being ultra-aggressive and bruisingly heavy from start to finish, has a killer melody underlying it all - a superb and effective combination.
The moldy oldie 'Land Of The Free', which was written in the late 80's, is here transformed into a thunderous and fearsome dance beast, while an obscure KMFDM remix of 'All Good Girls' (surely the band's melodic tour-de-force) is welcome, and certainly a must-hear. New track 'Glare' is a pop-oriented piece with accents of trip-hop and old jazz (check the wild and scratchy vinyl brass solo in the middle). The groovy remake of 'Funkopolis' forces you to shake that booty, and 'Kleen', another new track, is one of the smartest and catchiest slices of electronic pop you're likely to hear anytime soon. 'Smackdown' (reprised from an old vinyl-only 12") includes vocals by the always classy and stylish Scot Chris Connelly (of Revolting Cocks and solo fame). And speaking of guest vocals, how about George Clinton himself on the album's closer, 'Hitler's Brain'? Die Warzau 2008, where have you been? A mammoth, massive, and unmistakeable success. (Rosehip/Pulseblack Records)

Die Warzau website

Monday, December 1, 2008

Deerhunter - "Microcastles / Weird Era Cont." 2xCD

Atlanta 4-piece Deerhunter, led by the prolific Bradford Cox, drop their second full-length here, and it's surprisingly their most commercial offering to date. Taking pieces of shoegaze, sixties pop, weird folk, and indie rock, Cox and co. concoct a catchy yet hallucinogenic collection of homespun recordings with melody and woozy affection. 'Activa' is a soft, narcotic lullaby, with 'Nothing Ever Happened' (being the first single) being a driving rock song. This sums up the diversity of 'Microcastles', and like their friends in Animal Collective, there's something for everyone here. Nice pop songwriting and out-there sounds congeal like My Bloody Valentine meeting the Beach Boys and then being produced by someone from Pavement. I like this one a lot. And there's a second disc attached, titled 'Weird Era Cont.', featuring 13 more tracks of 'ambient garage punk' (as described by Cox himself). Here flow more textural soundscapes, happy singalongs, and everything in-between. 'Weird Era' seems more raw and intimate than 'Microcastles', and may well be demos or home recordings. Regardless, there are some lovely tunes here, and 'Microcastles/Weird Era Cont.' is more than a worthy deal. (Kranky)

Deerhunter site

Bradford's blog (with many free demos/singles)