WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 31 – 7:30 PM
ONE NITE ONLY! 16MM!
19??, ?? mins.
In English (????).
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 31 – 7:30 PM
ONE NITE ONLY! 16MM!
19??, ?? mins.
In English (????).
dir. Bill Bragg, 1988
76 minutes. Ohio.
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 3 – 10:00 PM
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 5 – MIDNIGHT
MONDAY, OCTOBER 22 – 7:30 PM
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 27 – 10:00 PM [*Q&A* w/ Bill Bragg (dir), Vicky Walsh, & Kim Akins]
Special thanks to Jon Dieringer and director Bill Bragg.
Two lunatics, Nick and Vick, celebrate their wedding day at the local asylum like any couple would – by kicking off a killing spree in style (with a gonzo, saxed-out theme song behind them.) After running a man down the two lovebirds hit the trail leaving the bodies of hitchhikers, fast-food employees, and local bowling champions in their wake. That is, until the duo cross paths with an old woman in the midst of a run-in with a creepy cult. After saving her, Nick and Vick find out she’s being set up by her son who wants to take all of her money. She takes them back to her house and the three hatch a devious plan…
With the vast catalog of cinema at one’s fingertips in 2018, the hunt for lost films often leads to dead-ends, headaches, and heartbreak. But sometimes, with a little luck and a lot of elbow grease, there’s still treasures to be found. Such is the case with 1988’s gore/comedy ROAD MEAT. In it’s sparse mentions around the World Wide Web this slice of homemade Ohio goodness only gets mentioned in hushed tones and is often cited as “unfinished.”
Directed by Bill Bragg, starring Nick Baldasare (THEY BITE), with DP duties by Spec favorite Jay Woelful (BEYOND DREAM’S DOOR) ROAD MEAT was all but a rumor for almost 30 years. While the only remaining 16mm print is being scanned for an upcoming blu-ray release we’re proud to present a version that absolutely no one knew existed – an alternate cut (peppered with extra scenes to entice would be distributors) from the 3/4″ video master provided by the director himself.
Poster by Charles Gergley (by way of Pettibon): available on Etsy
AT MIDNIGHT I’LL TAKE YOUR SOUL
(A MEIA-NOITE LEVAREI SUA ALMA)
Dir. José Mojica Marins, 1964
Brazil. 84 minutes.
In Brazilian Portuguese with English subtitles.
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 4 – 7:30 PM
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 7 – 7:30 PM
MONDAY, OCTOBER 15 – 10:00 PM
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 26 – 10:00 PM
“What is Life? It is the Beginning of Death. What is Death? It is the end of life. What is existence? It is the continuity of blood. What is blood? It is the reason to exist!” So ushers in both the twin obsessions of death and progeny in the cinema of Zé do Caixão, and the first incarnation of Brazilian horror cinema. José Mojica Marins entered into the iconographic canon a figure who is both constructed of pieces from other famous monsters and a wholly original, idiosyncratic, definitively Brazilian figure who has yet to be duplicated (possessing the most disgusting nails you’re likely to come across).
With Marins’ third film, AT MIDNIGHT I’LL TAKE YOUR SOUL, we are immediately familiarized with a fully-formed icon: the dreaded Zé do Caixão, whose reign of terror over the small mountain town in which he resides carries with it the certainty that the man is aided by the unnameable forces of evil.Operating on Nietzchean levels of religious irreverence and self-preservation, Zé’s main concern is the securement of an heir, an end in which the fury of his conviction knows no bounds. Cruel sadism defines his interactions with nearly person he comes across, acts aided by his diverse repertoire of violent methods, including his sheer strength, fueled by disdain (more often than not in misogynistic iterations), tarantulas and other creepy crawlies, and the manipulation of fear on display in all of Zé do Caixão’s appearances.While nothing in the diegesis explicitly reveals Zé’s powers to be sourced in the devil, the dark surrealism of Marins’ mise-en-scene never allows the film to leave the precarious position it holds on the edge of the supernatural.
Read over the years as an allegory for Brazilian military repression, a queer text, an epitome of paracinema, and countless other fields of discourse, AT MIDNIGHT I’LL TAKE YOUR SOUL undoubtedly kicks off one of cinema’s most singular visions of an extended universe, held together by the essentially DIY ethic and “dirty screen” aesthetic that defines much of the Brazilian underground, a movement for which Spectacle holds nothing but whole-hearted admiration.
Content advisory – This film contains scenes of traumatic violence committed against women. While we believe these acts are dramatized with a critical perspective, we realize the adverse affect seeing such imagery potentially has on viewers.
*U.S. PREMIERE OF THE REMASTERED VERSION!*
MONDAY, OCTOBER 1 – 10:00 PM
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 6 – 7:30
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 11 – 10:00 PM
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 27 – 7:30 PM
Directly between a slow burn haunting and a black-gloved giallo slasher sits NEXT OF KIN, Tony Williams’ grossly underseen (and hard to find) Australian horror film.
Linda Stevens has just inherited the Montclare estate, now functioning as a retirement home for the elderly, from her estranged and recently deceased mother. Shortly after moving in, strange things start to happen – taps turning on by themselves, power blowing out, a strange figure at the edge of the woods– and then one of the tenants is found dead in a bath. Linda searches for answers in her mother’s diary and finds startling similarities between the entries and the strange phenomena. Is Linda losing her mind, or is something deeply wrong with the Montclare house?
Favoring a thick mood over gore, though its not without its moments, it feels something like Peter Weir by way of Dario Argento. Featuring Ozploitation regular John Jarratt (WOLF CREEK) and a killer pulsing synth score by Klaus Schulze (coming off a brief stint in TANGERINE DREAM), NEXT OF KIN is a moody nightmare well worth a fresh look.
Poster by Tyler Rubenfeld! Available on Etsy
dir. Gus Trikonis, 1978
89 mins. United States.
MONDAY, OCTOBER 1 – 7:30 PM
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 19 – 10:00 PM
SUNDAY, OCTOBER 28 – 7:30 PM
MONDAY, OCTOBER 29 – 10:00 PM
Just when you thought you’d seen every ‘house built over a portal to hell’ flick, along comes Gus Trikonis’ THE EVIL.
Dr John Arnold and his wife Caroline have just purchased the Civil War-era Vargas mansion, with plans to turn it into a modern rehab center. As a motley crew of students and patients pile in to clean out the house, a ghostly presence makes itself known. Caroline tries to warn John, but the no-nonsense, all-logic, capital D-doctor will hear none of it.Of course it isn’t long before someone unlocks the portal to hell, night descends and the demonic force locks them in. Will any of them escape the grasp of THE EVIL???
Directed by Gus Trikonis (Indio in the original WEST SIDE STORY) and featuring earthquakes, at least two more electrocutions than you’d expect, and no less than one instance of a wire-gag-made-visible-by-
Dir. Henri Xhonneux. 1989
78 mins. France.
In French with English subtitles.
TUESDAY, OCTOBER 2 – 10:00 PM
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 6 – MIDNITE
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 12 – 10:00 PM
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 26 – MIDNITE
Clumped in your history book between the chapters on French Revolution and pioneering 18th century erotic fiction grows a horny, pornographic mold called MARQUIS.
Immersed in a world in which uncanny animal masks mirror the spirit of the character within, a canine Marquis de Sade serves a prison sentence for allegedly raping the bovine Justine… but the situation may be more complicated than it seems. In between bouts of banter with his anthropomorphic, meter-long penis Colin, the Marquis gets down to writing a few of his more infamous scenes—many depicted in surreal claymation. Before too long the Revolution has begun, but where will it leave the Marquis?
Co-written by Henri Xhonneux and Roland Topor—animator of 1973′s inimitable surrealist classic FANTASTIC PLANET — MARQUIS’s bizarre tone swings at will between irreverent perversion and clear-headed satire, never failing to entertain and utterly confound.
“This is one of the strangest movies I have ever seen. I found it to be discomforting and just weird. It makes you squirm in your seat and wonder what the people making this are like in real life. It’s definitely entertaining and it sort of sucks you in, especially if you don’t know French and have to read subtitles. It is certainly not American and it is certainly very peculiar. I have never seen a movie where everyone is wearing life-like animal costumes and acting like humans in very abnormal ways. This movie gives me the chills. However, I would watch it again just because it is so fascinatingly WEIRD.” –IMDB user ‘ethylester’
“NOT FOR THE PRUDISH.” -Variety
HORROR HOUSE ON HIGHWAY 5
dir. Richard Casey, 1985
Ohio. 91 mins.
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 4 – 10:00 PM
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 19 – MIDNITE
“They were young, and in love. He was crazy. She was dead.”
Trigger. Nazis. Nixon. Trigger. Nixon. Murder. Killer. Horror. Nixon. Kidnap. Reagan. Murder. Terror. Horror. Future. Torture, Murder. Never.
INVASION OF THE GIRL SNATCHERS
(aka THE HIDAN OF MAUKBEIANGJOW)
dir. Lee Jones, 1973
Kentucky. 93 mins.
WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 10 – 10:00 PM
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 27 – MIDNITE
New wave parody? Secret truth about UFOs? Stoned goof? INVASION OF THE GIRL SNATCHERS is all three and more to boot. Made using some of the same sets, equipment and crew as the William Girdler scuzz-epic THREE ON A MEATHOOK, this film was originally titled THE HIDAN OF MAUKBEIANGJOW (Hidan meaning “high place”) by Don Elkins and Carla Rueckert, two UFO researchers (see http://www.llresearch.org/default.aspx for more info) asked by director Lee Jones (who produced Supervan, Grizzly and Honey Britches) to write any script they wanted so long as it had sex and violence. With befuddled aliens, tracking devices hidden in bras, a safecracker named Freddie Fingers, body-switching, topless sorcery and more, GIRL SNATCHERS is like a zero budget MISSION:IMPOSSIBLE with metaphysical digressions, goofball puns and a lovely rural Kentucky quality that puts more self-conscious parodies to shame.
Can you believe it? You survived another miserable year on this wretched Earth, which can only mean one thing – it’s time for The 8th Annual Spectacle Shriek Show! A chance to reward all your hard work by allowing your brain to slowly turn into a big, wet blob and leak out of your ears as you subject it to sights so unholy, you’ll never be the same. You earned it, champ. So settle in to what one person (probably) called “the only comfortable chairs in any theater in New York City” for 12 to 14-ish hours of mutant cats, Filipino vamps, real (?) snuff footage, possessed psychics, lots of zombies, and one rampaging bear. We’ll have the usual cavalcade of shorts, music videos, and more and, as always, tickets are $25 for the full day or $5 for individual films!
NOON: THE DEAD TALK BACK
1:30 PM: THE BLOOD DRINKERS
3:00 PM: DR. BENDERFAX
4:30 PM: EFFECTS
6:00 PM: UNINVITED
7:30 PM : BLOODY MUSCLE BODY BUILDER IN HELL
10pm: FEAR NO EVIL
MIDNIGHT: TERROR A LA MUERTE
Poster Art by Benjamin Tuttle
THE DEAD TALK BACK
dir. Merle S. Gould, 1957.
USA. 65 minutes.
After a model is murdered **WITH A CROSSBOW** on the porch of her boarding house, metaphysical philosopher Henry Krasker (Aldo Farnese, best known as Philly UHF children’s show host “Dickory Doc” and “Adam Android”) uses the weapon as a means of communicating with the dead to find out who killed her! Toiling in his lab he sets up a seance so the spirits can speak…with, like, car horn sounds for some reason? Also, there’s a cool scene in a groovy record store featuring some heady bongo work. Meanwhile the murderer is still at large in their shared apartment complex – who can it be? The religious zealot? The pervy German? The local DJ? The old-ass landlord?
Made in 1957 but shelved until 1993, when it aired as part of beloved cult show MST3K, the film was originally set to be released by Headliner Productions, who were responsible for bringing such cinematic gems as Ed Wood’s THE VIOLENT YEARS and THE SINISTER URGE into the world. It was also one of the first movies to utilize Electronic Voice Phenomenon (EVP) recording, now a staple of ghost-hunters everywhere.
THE BLOOD DRINKERS
(aka KULAY DUGO ANG GABI, BLOOD IS THE COLOR OF THE NIGHT)
dir. Gerardo de Leon, 1964
Philippines. 88 minutes.
Ronald Remy plays a bald, hoity-toity doctor (who also happens to be a vampire) who’s heartbroken by the deteriorating health of his wife Katrina. And so he sets forth to traverse the countryside with his dwarf assistant, sexy vampiress, and floppy rubber bat in search of blood to aide her revival. They also have to obtain her twin sister’s heart; you know how twins are.
When it comes to THE BLOOD DRINKERS, the devil truly is in the details. Though it’s often touted as the Philippines’ first color horror film, THE BLOOD DRINKERS’ rich tapestry is ironically due to full-color film stock being scarce in the region. To compensate, many scenes were color coded with rich tints of red (during vampire attacks) and blue (when things are safe), adding visual depth to a film already rich in symbolism.
Director Gerardo de Leon had an actual medical license he eschewed to become a filmmaker and racked up over 80 directing credits in his career, including the stellar MAD DOCTOR OF BLOOD ISLAND, also starring Remy. Producer Cirio H. Santiago and actor Vic Diaz went on to be involved in the 1978 chef-kiss worthy John Carradine film VAMPIRE HOOKERS.
Dir. Tom Hosler, 1997.
USA. 85 min.
Special thanks to director Tom Hosler!
The titular Dr. Benderfax (Nigel Hazeldine) is an esteemed researcher (read: mad scientist) willing to go the extra mile for his experiments investigating a rare psychic phenomenon known as the “Telefaximial Field.” Unfortunately for the good doctor and his lovely assistant Nurse Clench (Caroline Hazeldine), many of the “volunteers” end up in the morgue. Actually on brief reflection, it’s probably more unfortunate for the patients. After some finagling the medical duo end up in a local nuthouse and use this fresh batch of patients to further their research. Just as they’re on the verge of a major breakthrough, in saunters Dr. Andrew…
Fresh out of college in 1992 Tom Hosler decided to make his “first and only feature script worthy of production.” Armed with a savings account and several credit cards, the film was shot over the course of many weekends. After multiple years of post-production, the film finally saw the light of day in 1997. Fans of last year’s Joe Sherlock double-up MONSTER IN THE GARAGE/DIMENSION OF BLOOD take note – DR. BENDERFAX is a true-blue Shriek Show entry if there ever was one, and it’s chock full of schlock, gore, yuks/yucks, and a genuine feeling of fun.
Dir. Dusty Nealon, 1980.
USA. 84 min.
Special thanks to American Genre Film Archive.
RIP producer Pasquale Buba (April 16, 1946 – September 12, 2018)
Deep in rural Pennsylvania (aka Romero Country), a film crew is holed up making a low-budget horror movie. Helmed by director Lacey Bickel (real-life filmmaker Tom Harrison of TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE fame), the crew is plagued by scheduling hiccups and close quarters. At first, not everyone is having a bad time, as the cinematographer and gaffer begin a romantic entanglement.
Suspicions arise when, during a late night hang session fueled by cheap beer and plenty of cocaine, some of the director’s early work gets passed around. The gritty footage shows what appears to be an actual murder of a woman by a man in an executioner’s hood. Tensions flare up and the line between fiction and reality blurs – is anyone safe?!
A cinematic love letter to practical effects and regional horror, EFFECTS is the product of many Romero Regulars with ties to MARTIN, DAWN OF THE DEAD, and CREEPSHOW. Though the material enters some very dark territory, it’s clear the crew were friends having fun covering each other in as much stage blood as they could handle. An underseen gem that, like THE DEAD TALK BACK and BLOODY MUSCLE BODY BUILDER FROM HELL, was shelved for almost 25 years (due to a distribution error), until it was finally released by Synapse on DVD and later picked up by our friends at American Genre Film Archive.
dir. Greydon Clark, 1988.
USA. 90 min.
Strange things are afoot at the lazily named Genetic Laboratories when two chowderhead scientists discover a mysterious growth in their test subject – A CUTE CAT! The cat escapes and while trying to make its way out of the lab attacks many a security guard with some help from the grotesque mutant living up in its guts.
Meanwhile, it’s Spring Break, baby; time to get wild with Suzanne (Sharri Shattuck from DEATH SPA) and Bobbi (Clare Carey from WAXWORK) in that famous party city – Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The two get kicked out of a fancy hotel for loitering and are “saved” by wealthy Wall Street tycoon Walter Graham (TV star Alex Cord), who invites them aboard his yacht. The ladies meet up with some bozo dudes (including SILK STALKING’s Rob Estes!) who they invite along for the ride. On the way to the yacht, they just happen to pick up a stray cat…and carnage ensues.
As evidenced by past programming we here at Spectacle are suckers for a killer cat movie, so when you combine that with director Greydon Clark and the one-two punch star power of George Kennedy and Clu Galager – you know you’ve got something special on your hands.
BLOODY MUSCLE BODY BUILDER IN HELL
(aka JIGOKU NO CHIMIDORO MUSCLE BUILDER)
dir. Shinichi Fuzakawa, 1995
Japan. 62 min.
In Japanese with English subs.
Heartbroken over a recent breakup Naoto (director Shinichi Fuzakawa) turns to working out to soothe his worried soul – and to get jacked in the process. One day mid-workout, his photojournalist ex-girlfriend calls him up with hopes he’ll help her investigate a haunted house.
Joined by a local psychic, the trio make their way to the property once owned by Naoto’s deceased father, who decades ago murdered someone on the grounds! Upon their arrival the presence of evil is all around them, and soon after demons take hold of the psychic. It seems the angry spirit of Naoto’s stepmother isn’t going to let them off easy – or maybe at all!
Another entry in this year’s lineup that almost never was – BLOODY MUSCLE BODY BUILDER IN HELL was made in 1995, edited in 2005, finished in 2009, and not released until 2012. Clocking in at just over an hour, BLOODY MUSCLE BODY BUILDER IN HELL doesn’t waste any time getting to the bleeding heart of the matter. Although it’s often compared to 1977’s HOUSE or described as “the Japanese EVIL DEAD,” the film manages to subvert all expectations and take viewers on a ride unlike anything they’ve ever seen. Truly one of a kind.
Special thanks to Wild Eye Releasing.
FEAR NO EVIL
dir. Frank LaLoggia, 1981.
USA. 99 min.
“One can only say that if George Eastman had lived to see the use to which his cameras and film, which brought prosperity to the city, have been put, he might have gone into another line of work.” – Tom Buckley, The New York Times (Feb. 6, 1981)
Outside a castle in upstate New York, Father Damon kills a man he believes to be Lucifer, but not before he promises to return. Flash-forward to the early 60’s when a child with the unhallowed name of Andrew is born, paralyzing his mother in the process. A local priest is visited by a woman named Margaret claiming to have knowledge of the late Father Damon, saying not only did he strike down Lucifer but that he himself was the angel Raphael. Could another angel be in their midst?
Now a senior in high school, Andrew is an awkward nerd who gets constantly bullied. In his daydreams he feels drawn to the looming castle set to be demolished to make way for a new golf c(o)urse. Strange things begin happening to Andrew’s tormentors – their guts explode, they’re plagued by terrible nightmares, they feel…inclined to…make out with him in the showers of the locker room.
The night of the big dance Andrew finally makes his way to the castle, where he summons undead monsters and wreaks havoc on his classmates. Margaret arrives with backup wielding the cross of Father Damon, and the battle to save the world is ON!
The debut writing/directing/producing effort of then 26 year old Frank LaLoggia, FEAR NO EVIL certainly doesn’t get as much praise as it deserves. A psycho bible study with wild effects work (that cost $250,000 to produce!), and a soundtrack featuring the likes of Patti Smith, The Rezillos, The B52’s, The Talking Heads and more!
TERROR A LA MUERTE
(aka: MIEDO A LA MUERTE, SCARED TO DEATH)
dir. Mario Alcantara, 1989.
Mexico. 98 min.
In Spanish with English subs.
Famed martial arts instructor (and one-time Chuck Norris student) Ruben Gonzalez plays famed martial arts instructor Ruben Gonzalez, whose daughter is mauled to death by a bear while meeting her boyfriend. A loco local named Nestor becomes convinced she’s his lost love, so he takes her body home and puts her in a dress. Nestor whiles away the hours talking to the corpse and feeding the ghoulish undead creatures he keeps locked in his basement.
Gonzalez sets out with a team to get his daughter’s body back, managing to piss off law enforcement and biker gangs alike along the way. Upon their arrival, Nestor won’t go down without a fight and sets the zombies on the rescue team. Luckily for everyone (but especially Gonzalez), the zombies also know martial arts. Don’t worry, the bear shows back up too.
TERROR A LA MUERTE is listed in some places as a sequel to Gonzalez’s earlier film GARRA DE TIGRE, but information on either film is hard to come by, making this rare screening a must-see!
SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 22 – 5 PM
ONE NIGHT ONLY! FILMMAKER Q&A!
(This event is $10.)
THE SHORT FILMS OF CHRISTOPHER JASON BELL
Various. Approx 80 mins.
Critic, programmer and longtime Spectacle comrade Christopher Jason Bell has been a fixture of the NYC independent filmmaking scene for the better part of this last decade. This selection of short films (hand-picked by Bell, promising a few surprise inclusions) features a Manhattan-set meet-cute with a remarkable slice of real talk at its core, a magic-realist meditation on loneliness inspired by a racist remark made by Ridley Scott to The Hollywood Reporter, a single-take metamovie called THE MOVIE, a hilarious paean to American society’s brain-pureeing embrace of the STAR WARS franchise starring Carl Kranz, a docudrama (?) about one man’s mission to turn his 60th birthday into a live reenactment of the courtroom scenes from MY COUSIN VINNIE, and a lot more.
For whatever reason (probably related to his fidelity to the “slow cinema” techniques of Tsai Ming-Liang, Abbas Kiarostami and many more), Bell is underrated; among critics and programmers, the lion’s share of the hype has transferred instead to directors whose quirk-tastic output is littered with obvious cinephile signposts, and who may also be the children of millionaires. That’s a damn shame: Bell counterbalances a rib-bruising sense of humor with a startling humanism, and his prolific output suggests a filmmaker restlessly experimenting with finding new ways to reconcile cinema with that crazy problem known as “real life” and the people who live within it.
THE WINDS THAT SCATTER
2015. 79 mins.
In English, and in Arabic with English subtitles.
In just a few years, Bell’s feature debut THE WINDS THAT SCATTER (named from an obscure Qu’ranic verse) would prove eerily prescient: it’s the story of a Syrian immigrant named Ahmad (Ahmad Chahrour) who resettles in New Jersey, but struggles to find a steady job. While the film chronicles his boredom and alienation, Ahmad’s diffidence in search of employment belies a greater despair, the creeping awareness that everything available to him is entry-level at best, the kind of work that was once made available to teenagers. Ahmad’s paralysis gives way to a sad and low-key majestic meditation on the disjunction between highfalutin American ideals and the reality facing people without the privilege of being born here. Set against the landscape of the anonymized corners of the tri-state area, THE WINDS THAT SCATTER is transformed by the cajoling, caustic humor of Ahmad’s friend Mohammad (played by Mohammad Dagman), and Bell’s sensitivity to working with these unconventional leading men, both of whom contributed to the film’s screenplay.
“In casting Ahmad Chahrour, Bell hit a proverbial goldmine of actorly riches; but not only does Bell deserve credit for this casting decision, he also deserves kudos for providing us with such an honest prospective of an abundantly plain, Muslim man. All the while, Bell forges intelligent comments about the impoverished economic state of rural America. Sure, Ahmad’s ethnicity and citizenship limit his employment opportunities, but The Winds That Scatter reflects more than just the Muslim immigrant experience. Sadly, this is a story of modern day working class existence in the United States.” – Hammer To Nail
CHRISTOPHER JASON BELL is a former critic for the blog The Playlist and an active filmmaker. His first feature THE WINDS THAT SCATTER premiered at Northside Festival and went on to play in Madrid, South Korea (winning Best International No Budget Feature Film at the KIXFF), Cambodia, Chile, Argentina, and numerous places in the USA. His latest short film, MOHAMMAD SO-AND-SO, premiered at Sarasota Film Festival in 2017 and can now be viewed on Amazon Prime. He has completed his second feature INCORRECTIONAL and hopes to premiere the film in 2018.
“We just wanted to make small, good films and raise a family. A terrific life.” – Faith Hubley
This August, animator and filmmaker Emily Hubley will be at Spectacle for three discrete presentations of moving image work. The first is a selection of short films by her parents, the legendary animators John and Faith Hubley; the second is a survey of Faith’s solo works, spanning from 1975 to 2001. Finally, Emily will present a selection of her own animations, many of them made in collaboration with her mother and siblings. All three screenings will be followed by Q&A.
John Hubley was an art director at Disney who would do innovative work in Hollywood before being blacklisted and moving East; like Theodore Geisel, he worked on some 1940s cartoons which are, in hindsight, jawdroppingly progressive: he produced and storyboarded Chuck Jones’ United Automotive Workers’ short HELL-BENT FOR ELECTION (1944), which features a burly laborer not dissimilar from the ones in Russian Constructivist murals, and production-designed United Productions of America (UPA)’s THE BROTHERHOOD OF MAN (1946), an anti-racism PSA that would later serve as evidence that the company was steeped in “un-American” politics. But it was Hubley’s partnership with his wife Faith (herself a lifelong feminist and antifascist who had worked a number of jobs in Hollywood) that would result in some of the most beguiling alternative cartoons to emerge from the postwar period. Their careers straddled old-guard animation under the protectorates of Disney and Warner-size studios, and the emergence of avant-garde, experimental forms; their style was suffused with the kind of flat, jazzy modernism those same companies would ape in later years in order to save money on animation.
Working as a team, the Hubleys’ collaborators included Dizzy Gillespie, Benny Carter, Herb Alpert, and Garry Trudeau and Ella Fitzgerald; they designed segments for Sesame Street and The Electric Workshop, and fielded a number of Academy Awards (as well as nominations.) Frequently casting their children as voice actors (notably in 1959’s MOONBIRD, 1967’s A WINDY DAY, and 1972’s COCKABOODY – animated around audio recordings of the kids), the Hubleys strove to push animation ahead of what John called “pigs and bunnies”. They continued to do that even after his untimely death at the age of 62 – in the middle of working with him on A Doonesbury Special, which would be finished by Faith and broadcast on NBC the following year. Faith Hubley would continue the family business, but with a style that broke off from the collaborations with her late husband. Her solo credits – starting with 1975’s W.O.W. (WOMEN OF THE WORLD) – bundle together international forms and ancient mythologies. She would make 25 films between John’s death and her own in 2001, including the metaphysical feature THE COSMIC EYE in 1986.
Much of it hand-drawn, Emily’s animations pick up her parents’ thread of drawing inspiration from everyday life: while her most famous work is probably the “Origin of Love” sequence in John Cameron Mitchell’s HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH, her 2009 feature THE TOE TACTIC toured nationwide and she has done music videos for her sister Georgia’s band Yo La Tengo (“Before We Run”) as well as Kate Vargas (“Call Back The Dogs”). Her shorts from the 80s and 90s betray a punk sensibility, but with a wry tenderness that’s consistent with the movies she collaborated on as a child. We’ll be showing a selection curated by Emily herself, plus her latest, BRAINWORM BILLY (made in collaboration with Max Rosenthal.)
( from MOONBIRD, 1959 )
FRIDAY, AUGUST 10 – 7:30 PM
Q&A with Emily Hubley
(This event is $10)
( from MY UNIVERSE INSIDE OUT, 1996)
SHORT FILMS BY FAITH HUBLEY
SUNDAY AUGUST 19 – 5pm
Q&A with Emily Hubley
(This event is $10)
Total runtime: 75 mins
SHORT FILMS BY EMILY HUBLEY
SUNDAY AUGUST 19 – 7:30 pm
Q&A with Emily Hubley (This event is $10)
ONLINE TICKETS HERE
Nostalgia just isn’t what it used to be. Remember dystopian Spectacle classics like STEEL DAWN, NEON CITY and DIGITAL MAN (RIP Philip Roth)? They’re all left in the dust by Lance Mungia’s irrepressible SIX STRING SAMURAI, a breakout chopsocky-musical that effectively hip-swayed stage left at the end of its theatrical run two very long decades ago. Featuring music by the notorious Siberian surf rock band The Red Elvises, SIX-STRING SAMURAI takes place in an alternate U.S.S.A. (like, alternate to this one) where the Russians dropped The Big One in 1957, leaving spotty electricity and a radioactive desert hellscape in their wake. Vegas is the last holdout of American civilization, and Elvis its supreme ruler – until Buddy, a lone swordsman patterned off of Buddy Holly and Ogami Ittō, hears on the radio that “Vegas needs a new king”.
A long travelogue ensues, dotted in encounters with Death (a metalhead patterned after Slash) and an extremely irritating Kid (Justin McGuire, iconic) who affixes himself to Buddy in classic adventure-movie fashion. Apart from the shredding tunes (which crescendo into a battle of the bands that’ll flash-fry your eardrums) and the uncannily prescient depiction of a post-wet America abandoned by the side of the road, Mungia’s spectacular action scenes are what make SIX-STRING SAMURAI stick – anchored by the full-body performance of leading man Jeffrey Falcon, a bona fide Kung Fu master who appeared as weibo heavy in many a Hong Kong actioner from the 80s and 90s.
“Married to punkified STAR WARS plot by way of THE ROAD WARRIOR, Messrs. Mungia and Falcon have successfully reworked the same bedrock myths (fathers and sons, journeys, destiny, yadda yadda yadda) with unassuming giddiness and funked up style, served up so effortlessly that you never think about these mythic foundations through this grunge journey.” – Sean Axmaker, Nitrate
( poster by Jake Armstrong )
Made in piecemeal payments while director Andrew Horn was working as a graphic artist in Koch-era Manhattan, DOOMED LOVE is a delectable hunk of sunken downtown treasure ripe for rediscovery. Painter Bill Rice (SUBWAY RIDERS, THE VINEYARD) stars as Andre, an aging professor of romantic literature who decides, in the film’s doleful introductory passage, to commit suicide after losing the love of his life. Andre is tragicomically unsuccessful, but the attempt leads to a new acquaintance with a psychiatric nurse named Lois (Rosemary Moore), with whom he uncorks a kind of under-acknowledged romance of the soul. Whatever margins that once separated Andre’s work as an academic and his reasons for going on (or not) have completely dissolved; Rice’s monologues – scripted by the great playwright Jim Neu – set a tone of droll monotony and piercing repetition. During a slide show of pre-Raphaelite paintings, Andre provides a clue to what Horn and his collaborators are up to:
“You can say what you want about the past / I think that’s true / But, not to pay attention is not to be immune / I think that’s true/ It may be finished / But it isn’t over / Where have I seen that before?/ Believe me / Many of our most cherished dreams… / Believe me / Many of our most cherished dreams have a life of their own/ Where have I seen that before? Look around / Look around / Believe me / I could really let myself go / The world history of emotion / You don’t know the names / But you remember the stories.”
“Life goes on, so to speak:” Horn’s vignettes from Andre and Lois’ – trapped in a state of paralyzing reverie, and newly married to Bob (Allen Frame), respectively – play against jawdropping 2-D backdrops mounted in the Lower East Side’s Millennium Film Workshop where DOOMED LOVE was filmed. Amy Sillman and Pamela Wilson’s muslin and cardboard “sets” make Horn’s film a dourly sweet exercise in epic theatre, a self-reflexive essay on Western amativeness, buttressed by an sparkling minimalist score from Evan Lurie (of The Lounge Lizards.), with original songs by Lenny Pickett. This summer, Spectacle is pleased to resuscitate this no-wave classic for its first NYC repertory run since it played Spectacle in 2016.
“DOOMED LOVE was my first feature film. It was made in the midst of what was then New Wave Cinema, but instead of the East Village I was taking my cues from Daniel Schmid and Werner Schroeder. I wanted to make an opera – without much knowledge of what opera was – and it became a musical. I wanted to make something mythic and only later discovered just how personal it was. I wanted it to be on a grand scale, which could only play out in a confined and artificial space. In those days we perversely wanted to alienate the audience and dare them to leave. In that I (thankfully) failed miserably.” – Andrew Horn
“Steeped in bittersweet camp, 19th Century imagery and free floating Jungian equivalences. Undeniably sensitive… goes beyond romantic angst.” – J. Hoberman, Village Voice
“The way I look is part of it. It sounds affected but I do see myself as a piece of living art. People do accuse me of being just decorative or an escapist. Well, I am. That’s what I do. So long as they realize that I am other things as well. I do kind of transcend the song and give it a different meaning. But satire would be too simple. There are moments in my show which are very moving as well as amusing. People should allow me to be many things, really give me room to put things in another dimension.”
Looks like an alien, sings like a diva – Klaus Nomi was one of the 1980s’ most profoundly bizarre characters. He was a cult figure in the New Wave underground scene, a genuine counter tenor who sang pop music like opera and brought opera to club audiences and made them like it. He was a performer with a “look” so strong, that his first audiences went wild before he even opened his mouth. Klaus presented himself as “the perfect video star” yet his star burned out just before the mass explosion of MTV. On the verge of international fame as a singer, he became instead one of the first gay artists to die of AIDS. In the end, his recorded output consists of re-reissues, in various forms, of only two LP’s and a live album. For those who do know him, the reaction he provoked was so strong, that he is still unforgettable, even 20 years after his death. Even now, Klaus is somehow still winning new fans among those too young to have known him when he was alive. And a quick check of the Internet reveals that all his records are still being sold.
Part documentary, part music film, part sci-fi, THE NOMI SONG is a “non-fiction film”, or maybe even an oral history. It’s not just the tale, it’s the telling. But it is also visual, partly because Klaus himself was so visual, someone who’s main concern was putting forth an image of himself in everything he did – literally illustrated by the photos, films, videos and artworks that go with it and featuring many never before seen live performances. However, there are also the images that the stories conjure up, images that no actual picture could capture, that emerge out of impressions, memories and even exaggerations, fermenting in somebody’s brain for twenty years. It’s like a novel with a whole cast of characters and supporting players – revealing themselves as much as (and sometimes more than) they do Klaus – with subplots, background stories, flashbacks and contradictions.
What unifies the various elements of interviews, performance and various visual elements is Klaus himself, not only the all-pervasive image he put out, but, more importantly, his effect on others. It’s a story that grows out of a group of people who influenced him, loved him, idolized him, felt pity for him and felt guilty because of him; people who felt used, cheated yet, over all, inspired by him. It’s a story of love of music and love of performing and a time when it seemed as though everyone was struck by a sense of urgency to make something – or anything – and the feeling that “somewhere in the great cosmic plan we all knew that we only had a finite amount of time together and we had to make the most of it.”
Nomi is, of course, a manufactured personality. But by all accounts the character he created for himself was clearly more significant, more “real” than the man behind it. If he was a mystery, he was completely open about it. He constructed his own myth out of elements so completely “wrong”, yet so deliberate, that it all seemed oddly possible. And right up to the end, it almost was. He was as much a genuine talent as he was – however naively – the engine of his own destruction. He was an alien amongst the outcasts and an obviously tortured soul who, at the same time, radiated optimism at a time when optimism was “officially” out of fashion. His appeal is not easy to explain in words. He has to be seen – and heard – to be believed. Whether you knew him personally, saw him perform, discovered his music or even just saw his picture, one has to admit, he is pretty unbelievable.
Featuring the music of Wire, The Marbles, The Bongos, Pylon, The Mumps, Chi Pig, and, of course, David Bowie, not to mention numerous live Klaus Nomi performances, many never before seen, and including Klaus’ ultimate performance of The Cold Song with full orchestra.
“ILLUMINATING AND MOVING! Offers a wealth of information about Klaus Nomi’s career, the construction of his space-alien persona, and the new-wave scene he sprang from. With Klaus Nomi as the focus of our attention, all conventional notions (and notions of convention) are altogether burned away. Dazzling!” – Ernest Hardy, LA Weekly
“Andrew Horn’s strange and fascinating documentary about the late New Wave singer and art object, Klaus Nomi, gives off a rich whiff of the New York punk bohemia of the late 1970s and early ’80s.” – Kurt Loder, MTV
“A strange personage – sad clown to some, incomparable genius to others. (…) He deserves a special mention in the annals of rock history as the first who dared sing an operatic aria to the habitués of Max’s Kansas City.” – Le Matin, 1983
The Beatles’ trial by fire was those two years playing in the bars in Hamburg. For Twisted Sister, it lasted for 10.
Back then, they were the Grand Funk of Glam and the NY Dolls of Metal. Some considered Twisted Sister a joke, others called them the greatest bar band in the world. While the microcosm of Punk and New Wave was taking over downtown New York in the mid 70s – early 80s, Twisted Sister was battling their way to the top of a vast suburban, cover-band bar scene that surrounded Manhattan in a 100 mile radius, yet existed in a parallel universe.
The film follows them from their beginnings as a cross-dressing glam band, playing cover songs for 4 shows a night, 6 nights a week – from New Jersey bowling alleys and Long Island beach bars, to the suburban mega-clubs of the late 70s/early 80s, and on to their bust-out appearance on the UK rock TV show, “The Tube”. Through it all, Twisted stood ready to do or die, not just for the music, but also “the show”. They refused to play the usual bar band role of “human juke box for drunk and horny teens”. Every night, the band would give their all to the crowd, and mounted a full frontal attack on anyone not participating. They were going to force you to pay attention – and you were going to have fun whether you liked it or not.
They regaled their audiences with comedy rants, dragging them on stage for vomit inducing drinking games, engaging them in fits of disco record smashing and, at their most extreme, whipping them into club-destroying frenzy. The performances were low on style and heavy on the humor and attitude – but behind it all, always smart and full of self awareness. Spinal Tap may have been clueless but Twisted Sister knew exactly what they were doing.
It was both a great living and a dead end because once you reached the peak – headlining clubs attracting audiences of 2, 3 or 5 thousand a night – there was nowhere left to go. As big as Twisted got on that circuit, in the eyes of the world, ie the music business establishment, they were nothing but a bar band.
If you’re expecting a tribute film recounting the well known events of Twisted Sister’s rock star career, be prepared for something very different. This is not about their hit songs, the MTV videos and their massive stadium shows, rather it’s the untold story of how they became that band – one full of strange, and often hilarious, twists and turns. It’s a story of Rock ‘n Roll and the business of Rock ‘n Roll. It’s about perseverance and things blowing up in your face. It’s about finding yourself, finding your audience and doing literally anything, however wild, to connect with them. And even though we know how it ends, the roller coaster ride of getting there is what it’s really all about. A mesmerizing, and wickedly funny story of a 10 year odyssey to overnight success.
Twisted guitarist, Jay Jay French, sums it up, “the history of Twisted is really those 10 years in the clubs. The years we spent clawing our way through the bar scene. It was learning how to make order out of chaos and how to win in bad situations. And it was unique to Twisted. I talk to hundreds of bands and nobody’s ever gone through what we went through. It’s who we are, and it’s why we are, and why we do what we do.”
“‘One of the most surprising movies I have seen in quite some time.(…) a film for everyone, not just fans, one which [imparts] a deeper understanding of and respect for the men who lived it.” – Pamela Glasner, Huffington Post
“Hilarious and revealing interviews (…) as well as plenty of riotously entertaining footage from the band’s Seventies Tri-State club heyday. Immensely compelling.” – Dan Epstein, Rolling Stone
“The time flies by, director Andrew Horn concocting a compelling, take-no-shit tale of Twisted Sister’s stuttering rise to stardom.” – Geoff Barton, Classic Rock Magazine
“I’m not a Twisted Sister fan and, in fact, knew very little about their scene in general—but this is a fascinating documentary.” – David Hudson, Fandor
“Noise, mayhem, pathos, endless reversals and plenty of uproarious comedy.” – The Independent (UK)
Nick Quested’s DRAMATIC ESCAPE is a documentary transporting viewers into the lives of maximum security prisoners at Sing Sing in Ossining, NY, as they mount a stage production of A Few Good Men. From auditions through curtain call, the men reveal their personal stories, their everyday struggles and the importance of the arts in their journeys. Sing Sing is a maximum security prison on the east bank of the Hudson River, 30 miles north of New York City.
The film is hopeful and inspiring, despite the gritty reality of maximum-security prison. Meet the self-described street thug in his second prison term. “Not convinced” by the short sentence in his previous bid, he immediately returned to crime, and is now serving 16 years. Meet a gang leader whose people thought he was crazy for giving up violence, or an RTA member in an “Aha!” moment, as he catches himself reacting angrily to an innocent situation and realizes that acting on impulse is exactly what landed him in prison. Witness their everyday struggle with what they have done and listen as they contemplate whether redemption is ever achievable either to themselves or to the outside world.
The mission of RTA is to use the transformative power of the arts to develop social and cognitive skills that prisoners need for successful reintegration into the community. Rehabilitation Through the Arts also seeks to raise public awareness of the humanity behind prison walls. Most importantly, RTA reduces recidivism. Nationally, the recidivism rate is more than 60%. In NY, it’s 43%. With a twenty one year history behind them, RTA’s is 7%!
Following DRAMATIC ESCAPE, Charles Moore and Clarence Maclin – both alumni of RTA in Sing Sing – will join the audience for a live Q&A. (Clarence is the central focus of the documentary, and Charles is RTA’s first formerly incarcerated staff member.)
In keeping with our presentations of clásicos tropicales góticos by Luis Ospina and Ivan Cardoso, Spectacle is pleased to exhibit two Eighties rarities by living legend Jairo Pinilla, the so-called “Ed Wood of Colombia”. Also reigning from Cali (Ospina’s hometown, as well as the late Carlos Mayolo’s), Pinilla pioneered a form of acerbic camp cinema in constant struggle with Fono Cine, the government agency providing funding for some of his movies. While the films are well known among cineaste circles of Colombia, little is published in English about Jairo Pinilla. His most notorious works (like the temporary-death medical thriller 27 HORAS CON LA MUERTE, or AREA MALDITA – about a marijuana crops protected by a monstrous, weed-addicted python) remain sadly unavailable on these dark shores. We hope this series begins a bigger inquiry into Pinilla’s work which, despite its languorous pace and phantasmagoric theatrics, retains the innocence of the best zero-budget cinema of the macabre.
Last December Pinilla told The Miami Herald that ‘“You have to have a good ending first,” he said, taking a deep drag on a cigarette. “Then you start stacking all the other elements behind it like a funnel.”’ The funnels capping both THE GOLDEN TRIANGLE and EXTRAÑA REGRESIÓN must be seen to be believed – affirming Pinilla’s late night tales as low-key pulp masterpieces.
An ostensibly straightforward mystery thriller riffing on a bygone generation’s worth of toxic whispers about the Bermuda Triangle, this film (also released as LA ISLA FANTASMA) uses the Panama Canal Zone as a jumping-off point, from whence a young girl and her father vanish out on the high seas. Jack Mendelson, her swollen uncle (who may also be a mercenary/private detective?) decked out in a leather vest and ripped bell-bottom jeans, goes searching for them, with the remaining nephew in tow. Their axes form a puzzle, leading them to a moss-ensconced island housing a mythic miniature pyramid made of solid gold – but the triangle is treacherous, and exposure to it begins to cost Jack his sanity.
Well before a man-eating plant has taken center stage, you’ll agree that EL TRIANGULO DE ORO is one of the wildest and most imaginative horror movies ever made, including at least one set piece that should be legendarily famous: a showstopping martial arts throwdown between Jack and a cadre of shady characters in a seaside cantina. The bar patrons’ horrified reactions teeter between tragedy and farce, another example of Pinilla’s surprisingly un-rushed editing style: Pinilla builds mystery through gorgeous location photography, decking each scene out with more telephoto zooms than you’ll find in most contemporaneous Hollywood thrillers. Speaking of which: both films in this series betray Pinilla’s penchant for overlaying snatches of music from overhyped American movies of the day. An insaniack final twist (complete with flashing strobes and bedraggled first-person long takes tiptoeing through walls of ivy, reeking with death) adopts the perspective of a child, played by Pinilla’s real-life son Jorge, to dreamy, haunting and hilarious effect.
A beautiful medical student named Laura is orphaned in two fell strokes of awful fate: first her father dies, then her jeweler’s mother is murdered by her sociopathic cousin Rodolfo (alongside his equally free-spreeing sister, who soon uses her witness status as a cudgel against the culprit.) Laura becomes obsessed, both with seeking vengeance for her mother’s murder, and with the idea of reoccupying her still-fresh corpse – egged on by her compatriots, whose are only interested in modern medicine for the promise of a ramshackle bridge to the other side. Soon Laura has decided to be killed so her spirit can commingle with her mother’s, but her boyfriend Ray disapproves – and Rodolfo, by now moved into Laura’s empty family home with his deadbeat father, may have other designs.
Finding Colombian audiences disdainful of his Spanish-language movies, Pinilla sought to disguise EXTRAÑA REGRESIÓN as an American production, and thus dubbed it in English – giving a ludicrous innocence to the overdubbed line readings during on-campus discussions of science, morality and life after death. EXTRAÑA REGRESIÓN becomes a hypernatural revenge thriller in its final act, stacked with double-crosses and uncanny coincidences than a telenovela: a hyperintelligent baby is born to host Laura’s soul, tracking down both Rodolfo and her old boyfriend Ray (now played by Pinilla) for a reckoning from the other side – sure to haunt the hell out of Rodolfo, Ray, and perhaps also the captive audience.
(poster by Tom Henry)
The Borroloola Aboriginal Community is made up of four language groups from the gulf region of the Northern Territory. The people live within a tribal structure and all decisions concerning this film were made within this structure.
The opening words of TWO LAWS are spoken by Leo Finlay, a prominent member of the Borroloola community:
“I suppose you know these two, Alexander and Caroline. Last year was in Sydney and asked them to come down to make film in Borroloola for our own people. They’re here in Borroloola now and we’re glad that they came to make this film. They been apply to the government to get some money to make this film which was real good. So its our film and we’re going to make really good film out of it.”
TWO LAWS is not a conventional documentary – it comes from a different perspective, from Aboriginal community commitment, and in doing so it also challenges notions of filmmaking practice, of history, of ethnography, of objectivity.
The Aboriginal people of Borroloola have a traumatic history of massacres, institutionalisation and dispossession of their lands. Reflection upon this history is increasingly part of the Borroloola people’s basis for action and the consolidation and definition of aims. The request for this film to be made is part of this process.
The film is divided into four parts but although this arrangement is roughly chronological. TWO LAWS is not a straight linear narrative, nor are its four parts kept entirely distinct from one another: interconnections between past and present are dealt with through an investigation of both history and its construction, storytelling and its processes.
“The way Aboriginal people approach history is very different from the way we see history as located firmly in the past. People talk about history in the present tense, use the first person, employ dialogue, reenact events. In everyday life people tell stories that happened yesterday or happened one hundred years ago.” – Carolyn Strachan and Allesandro Cavadini
“TWO LAWS has scripted moments and re-enactments but is entirely transparent in its presentation; much of it is shot, wide-angle, from a seated position among a circle of people, in visual sync with Indigenous storytelling traditions. I haven’t seen anything like it in honesty of feel or form, though it’s an obvious precursor to the sleeker fictional drama TEN CANOES (Rolf de Heer, 2006).” – Lauren Carroll Harris, Realtime
“So substantial in achievement that it makes breathless praise undignified.” – Meaghan Morris, Financial Review
“No other documentary has come anything like as close to uncovering the richness and the everydayness of modern aboriginal life, without every romanticising it.” – John Hinde, ABC
“A breakthrough of major significance in ethnographic film.” – James Roy McBean, Film Quarterly
Special thanks to Facets Multimedia.