SHOOT THE WHALE

SHOOT THE WHALE
dir. Philip Makanna
1972, USA
78 minutes

Filmed throughout 1970-72 around Death Valley and Mono Lake, Shoot the Whale follows a madcap troupe of hippies, philosophers, outlaws, and Nazis in something like an endless American purgatory. Dubbed by the filmmaker as “the one and only WWII Cowboy Circus Electronic Musical Comedy,” it’s a gonzo street-theater take on Alejandro Jodorowsky and Sergei Parajanov by detour of midnight movie.

Philip Makanna came to filmmaking through sculpture, teaching a spectacularly early course on fine arts approach to TV/video at the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland in the late ’60s. He was commissioned by Jim Newman of the Dilexi Foundation to make his first foray into broadcast television, The Empire of Things for KQED, described by Gene Youngblood as an “Expressionist painting of green shadows and purple highlights quivering in a liquid mosaic of hues.” In Shoot the Whale, Makanna continues to experiment with de-beamed video and other film chain manipulations, interspersing the fully-improvised action with pointilist footage of circus performance.

The film enlists an intriguing array of Bay Area counter-culture fixtures. Performing duties are taken up by the East Bay Sharks, an acting troupe that includes Darryl Henriques (later of Jumanji and Star Trek VI) and members of the infamous Greil Marcus Masked Marauders hoax. The score was composed by Robert Ashley and “Blue” Gene Tyranny of the nearby Mills College. Jim Newman, its producer, followed up Shoot the Whale with Sun Ra’s Space is the Place the next year.

Though the film was screened at Cannes and enjoyed some rabble-rousing midnight screenings around the Bay Area, it’s largely gone unseen until the recent re-discovery of its masters from the American Zoetrope archive–this marks the NYC debut of its restoration.

Special thanks to Unseen Worlds.

TERROR


TERROR
dir. Norman J Warren
UK, 1978

Family can really be a drag.

Norman’s bloodline is supposedly cursed by witches from 300 years ago, and he’s just made a horror film about it. After a wrap party at their primary location (which also happens to be Norman’s family home where the legend of the curse began), crew members start dying one by one – are the stories true, or is Norman losing his mind?

An unabashed riff on Suspiria, Norman and crew clearly had a blast playing with light, color, and not giving a damn about the barebones plot. With the release of Suspiria-reimagined this month, we thought it would be the perfect opportunity to air this less-known but (almost) equally entertaining sibling from across the pond.

ANGORA RISING: TWO FROM ED WOOD



GLEN OR GLENDA
dir. Edward D. Wood Jr, 1953
USA, 61 min.

“In the making of this film, which deals with a strange and curious subject, no punches have been pulled– no easy way out has been taken. Many of the smaller parts are portrayed by persons who actually are, in real life, the character they portray on the screen. This is a picture of stark realism– taking no sides — but giving you the facts — ALL the facts — as they are today… YOU ARE SOCIETY — JUDGE YE NOT…”

Opening with and extended monologue by The Scientist (Bela Lugosi, dead) he “explains” that in humanity’s search for the unknown many startling things come to light. While investigating the suicide of a transvestite, Inspector Warren seeks the help of Dr. Alton who tells him the sordid tale of a man named Glen (Ed Wood). Glen’s wife Barbara (Dolores Fuller, Ed Wood’s real life girlfriend at the time) accuses him of having another woman in his life but little does she know the “other woman” is Glen’s female counterpart – Glenda! Recounted in flashback we see Glen wearing his sisters clothes for Halloween and then never wanting to take them off. Shunned by his family, Glen must keep his desires a secret. Now it’s up to Glen to decide if he should tell his blushing bride-to-be about his double life…

One of 3 films directed by Ed Wood in 1953, GLEN OR GLENDA was shot in just 4 days, propped up by almost 14 minutes of stock footage, and padded out with erotic vignettes by producer George Weiss. The film was initially to be a profile of Christine Jorgensen who had dominated the headlines only a year before. After Jorgensen turned the filmmakers down they decided to go a different route, though many of the films promotional materials still tried to sell it as a profile of Jorgensen. Though no official sequel was ever filmed Glen/Glenda would show up in two of Wood’s novels later on. After film fell into public domain it was released dozens if not hundreds of times garnering quite a reputation along the way. David Lynch is such a fan of this film that he used the “blowing wind” sound effect from it in his film ERASERHEAD!




TAKE IT OUT IN TRADE
dir. Edward D. Wood Jr, 1970
USA, 77 min.

“Ed gave you free reign, he let you do your thing. You showed him what you could do and then you went ahead and did it. Eddie let you improvise a lot. A lot. Because he was not stuck to any one particular concept or idea.”
– Michael Donovan O’Donnell, “Nightmare Of Ecstasy”

A private dick named Mac McGregor (Michael Donovan O’Donnell) is brought in to help Frank and Donna Stanley, a couple search for their missing daughter. The trail leads him to a house of ill-repute. Inside are all manners of perversions and titillating sights to behold…can he keep his nose to the grindstone and bring the girl home?

Thought lost for years TAKE IT OUT IN TRADE was rediscovered by Ed Wood biographer Rudolph Grey while doing research for his book “Nightmare of Ecstasy.” Additionally, in the 1990’s 3 reels of bloopers, behind the scenes footage, and alternate takes were discovered in a theater in Santa Monica, California. Not screened in NYC since Anthology’s massive retrospective in 2014, TAKE IT OUT IN TRADE is finally set for home release by AGFA later this month.

Note: Both of these films contain scenes of sexual violence which may be offensive. Viewer discretion is advised.

MORAL PANIC: DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW + HOUSE OF THE DEAD


This November, as we gear up for the start of the nightmare that is HOLIDAY SEASON, Spectacle is serving up two heaping helpings of MORAL TERROR – films with black and white visions of good and evil, where every transgression is followed by a lesson (usually deadly).

Both of these offerings are made for TV, but that doesn’t lessen the thrills – including haunting scarecrows, nightmare children, and the hobo-ization of a Wall Street scumbag.




DARK NIGHT OF THE SCARECROW
dir. Frank Felitta, 1981
96 min, USA

‘Mar-vel-ous! I was terrified!’ – Vincent Price

Dark Night of the Scarecrow is a made-for-TV horror film about a subject we’ve all become a little too familiar with lately: a gross miscarriage of justice.

When word spreads around town that little Marylee has been killed by gentle giant and local dullard Bubba (Larry Drake – Darkman, Dr. Giggles), five good-ol-boys decide to take ‘justice’ into their own hands by organizing a flash-mob and murdering Bubba in cold blood. Literal moments after the deed is done, word comes over the radio that Marylee is fine – in fact, Bubba saved her.

The murderers are acquitted on the grounds of ‘self-defense’ (lol) but its not long before a scarecrow turns up on the property of the ringleader…

If you like moody, creeping thrillers and a healthy serving of true karmic justice, this one is not to be missed. A true gem of a film.

Screening the blu-ray remaster courtesy of CALIFORNIA PICTURES INC.




ALIEN ZONE aka THE HOUSE OF THE DEAD
dir. Shannon Miller
1978, USA

A rarely seen American anthology that attempted to capture the glory of the Amicus days in the UK, Shannon Miller directs this series of five alternately creepy and hilarious shorts, with a wraparound story centered on an adulterer who’s car breaks down outside of a funeral home.

After asking to use the phone, our adulterer is given a tour of the funeral home’s current residents by the caretaker, who takes him through each demise in great detail, each one addressing a different ‘sin’ of sorts.

Though it doesn’t quite reach the heights of Scarecrow, it is definitely a unique ride, featuring everything from evil trick or treaters to a hidden-camera-serial-killer to a cat-and-mouse game between rival Private Investigators.

MUSCHA, CHA-CHA


DECODER
Dir. Muscha, Trini Trimpop, 87 min.
West Germany, 1984

This film should be watched stoned, on whatever substance, as both a tribute to William S. Burroughs and to ensure complete and proper absorption. DECODER is a quiet bureaucratic surveillance drama, but then it’s a color-soaked, Benjamin-tinged struggle over information and control. It stars Bill Rice (who you know from Andrew Horn’s DOOMED LOVE), a man impeccably sensitive and equally expressive under vibrant colored lights. There are fast food joints,  great tunes, Genesis P-Orridge, Christiane F, and the true answer to whether music recorded from frogs in distress can incite revolution.

“Information is like a bank – some of us are rich, and some of us are poor. ALL OF US CAN BE RICH.”



HUMANES TÖTEN
Dir. Muscha, Trini Trimpop, 90 min.
West Germany, 1980

The young butcher’s assistant gets lost in a gloomy, cold alienated world…

BURNING FRAME: A MONTHLY ANARCHIST FILM SERIES

CALLING ALL RADICAL LEFTISTS! Come join us for a welcome respite from endless organizing work. The past two years have been a whirlwind: exhausting, invigorating, and ever ripe with potential. It can be difficult to find moments of pause and reflection when in the thick of it. Especially when “it” refers to the rise of fascism on a global scale with any number of future cataclysms hovering just past the horizon. But we digress.

The films in this series (presented as double-features) have been specially chosen by anarchists for anarchists, but really anyone far left-of-center in their beliefs and actions will find much to identify with and mull over. Come for the great works of radical political filmmaking, stay for the generative discussions, or even just to commiserate about how little has fundamentally changed over the past 50 years (the span of time which the films in this series will cover). The overriding hope is that these films, and their authentic representations of successes, defeats, and the messy work of direct action will help grant us the willpower and imagination to break through cycles of repeated structures.

To butcher the title of a great film for the sake of a mildly applicable pun: “Throw away your dogma, rally in the cinema.



REBELLION IN PATAGONIA
(aka LA PATAGONIA REBELDE)
Dir. Hector Olivera, 1974.
Argentina. 110 minutes.

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 29 – 7:30 AND 10 PM

REBELLION IN PATAGONIA represents a sterling work of Anarchist memorialization bravely brought to the screen by it’s director, Hector Olivera. Based on Oswaldo Bayer’s historical novel Patagonia Rebelde, about an anarcho-syndicalist labor union’s insurrectionary uprising against the Argentinian elite in the 1920s, which was banned and publicly burned in the 70’s along with the aforementioned feature film adaptation.

The film begins with an anarchist-led hotel workers’ strike so successful one forgets how the working class could ever lose sight of its inherent collective strength. But soon after the workers’ victory, cold reality swings back into sharp focus as the landowners conspire with the government to violently repress the strikers and rollback the gains made, a turn which the strikers had not foreseen. A cautionary tale for trusting state powers to uphold hard-won gains in worker’s rights.

For decades, Argentinian politics swung between the Nationalist populism of Juan Peron and a series of military coups, eventually centrally coordinated under Operation Condor, aimed at suppressing the socialist elements that made Peron so widely popular.

In 1976 the military seized power once again, ushering in a brutal 7 year dictatorship in which the film was banned, Bayer, Olivera, and several of the film’s actors were blacklisted, and Cepernic was imprisoned. In jail, he asked his warden if he deserved such cruel treatment simply for being a member of a Left-of-center party. “No, you’re not a prisoner because of your affiliation,” the warden reportedly said. “You’re a prisoner because you allowed Rebellion in Patagonia to be filmed.”

This film will be followed by a special MACC Encore Program at 10:00.

GET REEL: UNHOLY COMMUNION

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 19 – 7:30 PM

FB EVENT

October rings in the next GET REEL with heavy church bells. GET Reel, the movie-based comedy show, returns with the theme “Unholy Communion.” Come pray away the un-Christian abomination of H*llowe’en. Comedians will live-dub over movies that fit the month’s theme, and hosts Joe and Max will ensure everyone has a very sacred evening.

CONGRATULATIONS DEBBY

D E E P PRESENTS: CONGRATULATIONS DEBBY
dir. Roger Hayn
2018, 77 mins

WORLD PREMIERE! *FILMMAKER IN PERSON*
(This event is $10.)

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 25 – 7:30 PM
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 25 – 10:00 PM

ONLINE TIX
FB EVENT

D E E P is a showcase of experimental films, web videos, and art pieces unearthed from the darker side of the internet, lovingly curated by filmmaker Chris Osborn. Founded in 2013 by Osborn during his time working as a Vimeo staff member, D E E P began as a channel that existed to showcase a burgeoning community of artists making groundbreaking work designed with the internet in mind. Now, with over 100,000 followers online, four years of IRL screenings and a monthly webseries in collaboration with Memory, D E E P is suiting up to premiere its first feature length film: Roger Hayn’s CONGRATULATIONS DEBBY.

Debby, already a proud mother of three, is overjoyed to learn that she is pregnant once again. Thrilled with the bright possibilities of the future, she is determined to share her good news with friends, family, and acquaintances. Yet despite the magnitude of her announcement, nobody in town seems to be quite as excited as Debby. To make matters worse, her children are too busy to even return her phone calls. The further Debby pushes to surprise her loved ones with the news, the faster her world hurtles in a direction she never imagined. A warped, uncanny melodrama which plunges into the depths of its protagonist’s interiors, CONGRATULATIONS DEBBY is both a shape-shifting mystery film as well as an exercise in formal distortion.

A conversation between Hayn and Osborn will follow both screenings.

DEAD THE ENDS

DEAD THE ENDS
Dir. Benedict Seymour, 2017
UK, 106 min
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 3 – 7:30 PM
ONE NIGHT ONLY! FILMMAKER Q&A!
(Tickets for this event are $10)

ONLINE TICKETS HERE
FB EVENT

“Plagiarism is necessary, progress implies it. But is all looting progressive, are all copies an improvement on their originals? What if the future came to depend on the looting of the professional looters ‒ of the class that multiplies financial, legal, and cultural claims to capital ‒ by those with ever less to lose

Bookended by the London riots of 2011, DEAD THE ENDS is a dizzying, urgent retelling of the story at the heart of Chris Marker’s La Jetee.

Deploying dystopian sci fi, animated gifs, emojis and La Jetee ‘derivatives’ such as 12 Monkeys and The Edge of Tomorrow, it creates a nervous montage inspired as much by Ponzi fraudster Bernie Madoff’s forged trading receipts as Eisensteins’s notes for a film version of Marx’s Capital. Beginning in a future London ravaged by global war, the film time-travels back to the suspension of dollar-gold convertibility in 1971, and forward to the cop-infiltration of activist groups in the 1990s, ending with the urban insurrections that flamed the UK in August 2011. Recursive-convulsive, structure-busting-looping, Dead The Ends is militant cinema at its wildest.”

BENEDICT SEYMOUR is a filmmaker, writer, and musician. His published work includes video, fiction, and criticism, as well as several film soundtracks with artists such as Melanie Gilligan and Maija Timonen. His (mostly collaborative) music projects include Petit Mal, Antifamily, Traum and 트G. He is a long-term member of the editorial collective of Mute Magazine and Lecturer on the Fine Art MFA at Goldsmiths. He lives and works in London. His feature-length film, Dead the Ends, premiered in LUX’s Experimenta strand at the London Film Festival last year.

A FEAST OF MAN

A FEAST OF MAN
Dir. Caroline Golum, 2017.
United States. 82 min.

*FILMMAKER IN PERSON*
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 12 – 7:30 PM [Q&A w/Hillary Weston]
MONDAY, OCTOBER 15 – 7:30 PM
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 21 – 7:30 PM [Q&A w/Andrew Lampert]
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 26 – 7:30 PM [Q&A w/Cristina Caccioppo]
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 28 – 5:00 PM

ONLINE TICKETS HERE

FB EVENT

Caroline Golum’s rosé-refracted debut feature A FEAST OF MAN is a hilarious drawing-room comedy that pushes its audience to ask unspeakable questions of itself, performing a ruthless re-exhumation of THE BIG CHILL by way of Whit Stillman, Henry James and a pinch of Bette Gordon. Laurence Joseph Bond stars as Gallagher, a wealthy ne’er-do-well sitting on preciously guarded millions; when Gallagher dies in an untimely accident (kept mysteriously offscreen), his valet James (Zach Fleming) summons the late aristocrat’s closest friends (a murderer’s row of a cast including Frank Mosley, Marleigh Dunlap, Chris Shields and Katey Parker) to the family home in upstate New York, where he presents them with Gallagher’s final will and testament via videoconference. It’s revealed that the tony young codger will bequeath his fortune to the group, split evenly, but only if they agree, unanimously, to eat his corpse. A weekend of flashbacks, double-crosses and coastal-elite hand-wringing ensues: some characters retreat further into forced juvenilia while others, remembering all the slights and jealousies of their near/post-adolescent years, find an opportunity to avenge their lost youth. But throughout, the clock ticks with one question: will they go through with it?

A FEAST OF MAN is not like other movies: Golum’s screenplay (co-written by the prolific Dylan Pasture) is at once laden with one-liners and hijinks, yet keeps the audience guessing how blackened its heart really is, how low its comedy of rich people’s poor manners can, and will, go. While the leaves begin to wither and summer’s haze turns to polluted dust, Spectacle is thrilled to invite Golum, Pasture and their cast for a handful of special A FEAST OF MAN screenings with Q&As to follow.

CAROLINE GOLUM is a filmmaker, programmer, and critic living in New York. Her work has screened in venues from Birmingham, Alabama to Brisbane, Australia. As a writer she has contributed to Variety, Little White Lies, the now-defunct alt-weekly L Magazine, and Bright Wall/Dark Room. She is a senior correspondent for Screen Slate and her weekly radio feature, “The Movie Minute,” can be heard every Friday morning on WFMU’s drive time morning show, “Wake and Bake with Clay Pigeon.” Her next film, about 14th-century mystic Julian of Norwich, will begin production in 2019.

Cristina Cacioppo has been working as a programmer for almost twenty years, starting out at her campus cinema at University of Florida. Since then she has worked with Ocularis, Women in Film & Video/New England, 92YTribeca and for the past five years with the Alamo Drafthouse, now heading programming at their Downtown Brooklyn location. She is a devoted fan of the works of Agnès Varda and Jean-Claude Van Damme.

Hillary Weston is a New York-based writer. She is the social media director for The Criterion Collection, as well as a staff writer for their online publication, and has written for Film Quarterly, BOMB, Interview, BlackBook, MUBI, Teen Vogue, and others.

Andrew Lampert is an artist who primarily works with moving images and performance, but he also teaches, writes and restores artist and independent films.

NOTE:

We are pulling this month’s screenings of a R**** P******* film, previously slated to pair with Caroline Golum’s A FEAST OF MAN. As a collective of programmers operating in a space constricted by budget and time, there was not a enough internal discussion about this film. We have received some considerate and fair criticism, particularly in light of the activity in the Supreme Court, which has moved us to suspend the three screenings. We appreciate the feedback.