CORPSE FUCKING ART: THE FILMS OF JORG BUTTGEREIT AND CARL ANDERSEN (PART 1)

Upsetting many an innocent audience’s stomach, NEKROMANTIK and NEKROMANTIK 2 have deservedly earned a cult reputation for their wanton necrophilia and general repulsiveness. Yet more than just isolated cinematic perversions, these films belong to a mini-movement of transgressive cinema pouring forth from Berlin during the late 80’s and early 90s. Spectacle is unfortunately proud to present a three month long mini-retrospective of two filmmakers from this milieu – Carl Andersen and Jorg Buttgereit. Perfect for spoiling even the most well thought out Valentine’s day date, Jorg Buttgereit’s NEKROMANTIK 1 and 2 will be playing all February followed by Buttgereit’s DER TODESKING and SCHRAMM to keep you feeling cold through March and Carl Andersen’s no-wave scored MONDO WEIRDO and VAMPYROS SEXOS (AKA I WAS A TEENAGE ZABBADOING) playing all April.

[CONTENT WARNING: These films contain scenes of explicit sexual contact, mutilation, rear female nudity, violence, frontal male nudity, dark humor, disembowelment, nihilism, decapitation, deviant sex, depictions of murder, frontal female nudity, documentary footage of the actual killing of an animal, ejaculation, mental illness, rear male nudity, criminal mischief, on-screen urination, sexual perversion, blood, adult language and necrophilia.]

Special thanks to Cult Epics and American Genre Film Archive.




NEKROMANTIK
dir. Jorg Buttgereit, 1987
Germany. 75 min.
In German with English Subtitles.

SATURDAY FEBRUARY 2 – 10 PM
THURSDAY FEBRUARY 14 – 7:30 PM
FRIDAY FEBRUARY 22 – MIDNIGHT
TUESDAY FEBRUARY 26 – 7:30 PM 

Guaranteed to make you gag, Buttgereit’s feature debut was concieved with a purely punk spirit in mind – how far can a film go before its maker would be arrested. NEKROMANTIK follows Rob and Betty – a lovely young couple fond of collecting body parts in jars and bathing in blood. When Rob brings home a mildly rotten cadaver from his job cleaning corpses off the street, the two fall rapidly in love with it – eating dinner dinner with it, reading bedtime stories to it, and initiating it into their sex life. However when Betty decides to leave Rob and run away with the corpse, Rob spirals into utter depravity.

Banned in nearly every country aware of its existence, NEKROMANTIK has rightfully become a cult classic of underground horror cinema. Yet it’s reputation as a gross-out sleaze-fest can betray a lot of the tenderness Buttgereit surprisingly lends the film. Shot on grainy 8mm and set to a soft romantic piano melody, the film feels more like a hypnagogic elegy than an exploitation quickie.



NEKROMANTIK 2
Dir. Jorg Buttgereit, 1991
Germany. 105 min.
In German with English Subtitles.

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 8 – MIDNIGHT
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 14 – 10 PM
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 23 – 10 PM
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 26 – 10 PM

“I want to master life and death” -Ted Bundy

NEKROMANTIK 2 begins right where the first film disgustingly left off, but it’s not long before the film finds its own sickeningly romantic direction. Monika has a proclivity for digging up corpses and taking them to bed with her, but when she meets Mark, a sensitive soul who dubs porn for a living, her heart is torn. The bizzare love triangle develops across romantic trips to the amusement park, an awkward movie date featuring an absurdist parody of MY DINNER WITH ANDRE, and more taboo sex than you would ever think to ask for.

Significantly longer than the first film (110 minutes compared to the previous 70) and made with a modestly bigger budget, NEKROMANTIK 2 feels less like a continuation of the original than an expansion of its ideas. Gone is much of the excessive sexual violence that made NEKROMANTIK a favorite amongst 80s German punks and in its stead comes a greater attention to psychological detail of Monika’s romantic frustration. With a balletic camera capable of gracefully spinning through the air in ways rarely achieved before the advent of digital and more deliberate narrative rhythms, the sequel seems to fully realize the original’s repugnant poetry.

 

SPLIT

SPLIT
dir. Chris Shaw, 1989

US, 84m/104m (extended cut)

NEW YORK PREMIERE OF NEW RESTORATION AND CUT
30th ANNIVERSARY

Extended Cut dates:
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 2 – 7:30 PM
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 6 – 7:30 PM
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 20 – 7:30 PM

Original Cut dates:
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 9 – MIDNIGHT
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 11 – 10 PM

Special thanks to Verboden Video, Warren Chan, and Chris Shaw.
The only film by mathematician Chris Shaw, and featuring frenzied, schizoid computer animation from MacArthur Genius Grant winner Robert Shaw, SPLIT is a once-in-a-lifetime oddity; a thoroughly-baked, paranoid foot-chase through the dumpsters of early-MTV Santa Cruz. Starker, would-be messiah and master of disguise, eternally attempts to evade the dystopian fascist forces hellbent on keeping him in a feedback loop of capitalist-driven order. As their surveillance systems are based off of “consumption” and Starker eats out of garbage cans and freeloads from gallery openings, he has so far been able to escape the clutches of the freakish, half-machine overlord.

Starker wafts of a Pynchon hero scurrying like a rat through the moribund, chaotic future as envisioned by Derek Jarman or Alex Cox. This 2K restoration of the cult headtrip is some kind of miracle — lovingly transferred by Verboden Video and the filmmaker after the discover of not only the film’s original 16mm negatives, but a print of a never-released, 20 minute longer cut of the film as well. We are ecstatic to be able to bring you both.

FAMILY LIFE

FAMILY LIFE BANNER.jpg

FAMILY LIFE
(FAMILIENLEBEN)
dir. Rosa Hannah Ziegler, 2018
Germany, 97 min.

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 3 – 5 PM
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 7 – 7:30 PM
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 12 – 10 PM
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 18 – 7:30 PM

“First, you need to figure out what your life is worth to you and what you want to do with it.”

Denise and Saskia live with their mother, Biggi, and her ex-partner, Alfred, on a run-down farm in Saxony-Anhalt, Germany. The two sisters, one of them recently back from a foster home, are hindered by bouts of anxiety and depression, as well as a shared love interest. Alfred and Biggi try to give them stability, but they have their own demons- their dreams for the farm seem impossible without sufficient funds. Soon, their bucolic idyll of horses and dogs feels like the end of the world.

This somberly-shot, poetic documentary, directed by Rosa Hannah Ziegler, creates a close, sensitive relationship while allowing the protagonists the time and space to express their vulnerabilities, brokenness, and almost insufferable isolation.

“On the face of it, there is little to suggest that FAMILY LIFE is more than an observational portrait film. But this would understate how profoundly generous and affectionate Ziegler is in her depiction of this German family. Against all odds, Alfred, Biggi, Denise, and Saskia strive and aspire—and they have formulated a loving and caring family life to battle these odds. The film notes how humanity may have lost its capacity to provide accommodating (dare one say equal?) opportunities for all, even as it shows the resilience and courage of individuals living in precarious contexts.” Sander Holsgens, Cultural Anthropology

ROSA HANNAH ZIEGLER was born in Hamburg, Germany in 1982, and studied directing at the Academy of Media Arts Cologne. She won the German Short Film Award in Gold for her documentary CIGARETTA MON AMOUR – PORTRAIT MEINES VATERS (2006). She followed this with multi-award-winning short films ESCAPE (2011) and A GIRL’S DAY (2014) which both screened at numerous international festivals. In 2017 she made the television film DU WARST MEIN LEBEN which was nominated for a Grimme Award. FAMILY LIFE is her first feature-length documentary.

ROCKUARY 2019

The genesis of Rockuary has faded into legend, however it remains a February institution of music in film, music on film, the country love letter, and the occasional rock opera at Spectacle.

This Rockuary features Sarah Minter’s must-see punk dramas, the return of HEARTWORN HIGHWAYS (along with H.H. REVISITED), and Jim Wolpaw’s Rhode Island epic, IT’S A COMPLEX WORLD. THE THE’s INFECTED is screening alongside Too $hort’s classic era videos. You have one night to catch psych-rockers The Taj Mahal Travellers, Les Rallizes Dénudés, and D.C. rock legend Butch Willis!

I want to rock! (Rock!)
I want to rock! (Rock!)
I want to rock! (Rock!)
I want to rock! (Rock!)

Special thanks to FilmRise, Emiliano Rocha Minter and Claudia Bestor of the UCLA Hammer Museum.



AMATEUR ON PLASTIC
dir. Mark Robinson, 2018/19
90 min.

ONE NIGHT ONLY! FILMMAKER IN PERSON!
SATURDAY FEBRUARY 9 – 5:00 PM
SATURDAY FEBRUARY 9 – 7:30 PM

BUTCH WILLIS is a Washington, D.C. rock legend. Born and raised in Beltsville, Maryland, Byron Henry “Butch” Willis came of age in the late ’70s post-hippie subculture of Takoma Park. After sharing an apartment with infamous local music icon Root Boy Slim, Butch was inspired to become a rock’n’roll star himself.

The unique and unusual brand of “outsider music” that Butch Willis & The Rocks created captivated the local D.C. music scene beginning with their appearance at the seminal Primitive Night at the Psychedelly in Bethesda in 1984. AMATEUR ON PLASTIC chronicles Butch’s life and career from the ’80s all the way through to present day. It features a host of Butch-appointed band managers Joe Lee (Joe’s Record Paradise), Jeff Mentges (No Trend), Jeff Krulik (Heavy Metal Parking Lot), and director Mark Robinson (Unrest/Teen-Beat). Also co-starring is Al Breon, the Rocks’ innovative “throat guitarist.” The film combines archival footage, interviews with Butch, and performances of his hit songs “Drugs,” “The Garden’s Outside,” “TV’s From Outer Space,” and “The Girl’s on My Mind.”



THE TAJ MAHAL TRAVELLERS ON TOUR
dir. Matsuo Ohno, 1972
Japan, 102 min.

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 23 – 7:30 PM
ONE NIGHT ONLY!

A travelogue of the most expansive and mind-manifesting sort, Matsuo Ohno’s documentary follows the gargantuan yearlong 1972 tour of his fellow experimental-music frontiersmen, the Fluxus-associated action-artist Takehisa Kosugi’s acid-ambient ensemble Taj Mahal Travellers, as they set out from their native Japan with a rune-inscribed VW Minibus for Scandinavia, meander through Alpine Europe to Rome, Greece and Istanbul, traverse the Middle East via Iran, Kabul and Pakistan to end, finally, at the glittering palace of their namesake, the Taj Mahal itself! Along the way, the band plies its otherworldly improvisational art at areas of intense natural beauty, state-sponsored museums and ancient holy sights – ecstatically fulfilling their self-styled commitment to “play where ever there is a power-source.”

Kosugi’s rambling, spontaneous and worldly compositional method is perfectly matched by his open-ended touring approach, with a heavy emphasis placed on pure immersion in local culture and music. The resultant cinema-verite of the sticklike ebullient longhairs taking in the sights, trying the local fare, jamming on seaside cliffs and hanging with historic heavies like Don Cherry makes for a meditative and mimetic biopic of the entire touring experience, replete with an ever-shifting language-barrier. Ohno, a longtime mentor and collaborator of Kosugi famous for his own pioneering electronic music, proves to be the optimal observant eye for a performance-centric film about, ultimately, the joyous negation of sonic, cultural and music-business protocol.



LES RALLIZES DÉNUDÉS
dir. Ethan Mousiké, 1992
France, 88 min.

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 15 – 7:30 PM
ONE NIGHT ONLY!

Left behind in a legacy of bootleg destruction stands this “ambient documentary” on the mythical Japanese political psych-noise pioneers Les Rallizes Dénudés, the ultimate revolutionary cult band whose bass player was a member of the Japanese Red Army “terrorist group” and part of the faction that hijacked a plane with samurai swords and pipe bombs and got away with it, achieving refugee status in Commie North Korea, thus sending the unsuspecting guitarist, leader, auteur and songwriter, Takashi Mizutani, into a paranoiac downward spiral and eventually into hiding, wherefrom he would emerge every half-decade to demolish adoring crowds with sheets of noise, feedback and naive songcraft.



THE THE: INFECTED
dir. Tim Pope, 1987
UK, 47 min.

with

TOO $HORT: BORN TO MACK
dir. Various, 1988-1995
USA, 50 min.

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 4 – 10 PM
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 8 – 7:30 PM
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 19 – 7:30 PM
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 27 – 10 PM

In celebration of THE THE’s comeback tour, Too $hort’s release of The Pimp Tape, and Tim Pope’s plan to direct a new documentary on THE CURE, we present a special program for your tired eyes: TOO INFECTED.

In the words of Matt Johnson, “I tried so hard to be myself, I was turning into somebody else”. THE THE got an enormous budget from CBS Music and permission to work with Tim Pope, which turned into a 45 minute music video travelogue between Bolivia, the American desert, NYC, and the UK. Johnson is trapped, or rather, infected by his position in the world and experience of being a Westerner, a pale British man in the big 80’s. This collection of videos was only released to VHS, so you can’t find it anywhere else!

“If you live my life, you’ll be fighting to live.” – Too $hort, from “Life is… Too Short”

The music videos of Too $hort take you through the highs and lows of life, from house parties, to car rides, to police harassment, to the ghetto during the crack cocaine epidemic. Where Matt Johnson wants to tear down the myth of his identity, Too $hort (Todd Anthony Shaw) is trying to build it up. He’s a true player, he rapped with the heavies, and he’s a survivor. His music was always bass heavy and dirty as hell, and this selection showcases the best of the best.


HEARTWORN HIGHWAYS
dir. James Szalapski, 1976
United States. 90 mins.

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 1 – 7:30 PM
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 5 – 7:30 PM
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 13 – 7:30 PM
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 24 – 5 PM

In 1976, producer Graham Leader and director James Szalapski documented the outlaw singer/songwriter scene that extended from Austin and Nashville. Included were then relative unknowns Steve Earle, Rodney Crowell, and John Hiatt, plus their musical mentors Townes Van Zandt and Guy Clark. Born was HEARTWORN HIGHWAYS, a cult classic film among fans of the genre. In the relaxed manner of the handmade documentary, we’re given a tour of Townes Van Zandt’s backyard, where we see dogs running loose while he is chugging whiskey and shooting guns. Townes picks up a guitar and sings the poignant “Waitin’ Around To Die” in his kitchen, an elderly neighbor breaks down in tears. We follow David Allan Coe to the Tennessee State Prison to watch a performance; we see Charlie Daniels on a small stage in front of a crowd of near-riotous fans. A gang of buddies, including Rodney Crowell, gathers around a table at Christmas time to sing and pick guitars, showing us some very early work by Steve Earle. The structure of the film is very loose; at times almost surreal, especially viewed through the fish-eye lens of time. There is no real story to the movie, only the tales which are told in the lives of people who love music and make it not for a living.

HEARTWORN HIGHWAYS REVISITED
dir. Wayne Price, 2017
United States. 87 mins.

WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 13 – 10 PM
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 19 – 10 PM
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 24 – 7:30 PM
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 28 – 5 PM

Fans of HEARTWORN HIGHWAYS can rejoice! More than 40 years after the original, director, Wayne Price, has taken up the mantle, and created another chapter. HEARTWORN HIGHWAYS REVISITED is focused on exploring  the current alt country community of musicians inspired by outlaw country in Nashville. Following the same intimate & loose non-structure, HH Revisited ambles from musician to musician, while we listen to their stories and songs. In HEARTWORN HIGHWAYS REVISITED, the filmmakers reunite with HEARTWORN originals Guy Clark, Steve Young and David Allan Coe while focusing on the next generation of “outlaws”: John McCauley, Jonny Fritz, Josh Hedley, Justin Townes Earle, Shovels & Rope, Langhorne Slim, Robert Ellis, Andrew Combs, Shelly Colvin, Phil Hummer and others who honor the traditions of their predecessors while forging a highway all their own.


NADIE ES INOCENTE
(NO ONE IS INNOCENT)
dir. Sarah Minter
55 mins. 1985-87.
In Spanish with English subtitles.

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 1 – 10 PM
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 5 – 10 PM
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 10 – 5 PM
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 25 – 7:30 PM

No hay
no hay futuro
No hay
No hay amor
No hay
No hay cemento
Yey yey
Los mierdas soy yo

Sarah Minter’s no-future classic NADIE ES INOCENTE is a fictionalized document of the chavos banda (youth gang) punk community in the slums of Mexico City’s Ciudad Nezahualcóyotl (also known as Neza York) shot on Betacam over a number of years. Minter structures the film around bad trip of a reformed punk named Kara as he takes the train from Neza back to the main city; delivered in both flashback and voiceover monologue, his memories serve as desolate testimony from an apocalyptic adolescence. NADIE ES INOCENTE was written and performed in collaboration (Minter would later say, complicity) with the young Mierdas Punks who play themselves onscreen, and betrays Minter’s extraordinary access. The film also repurposes 16mm concert footage from her collaboration with Gregorio Rocha SABADO DE MIERDA (SATURDAY OF SHIT), using slow motion and inventive sound editing to give big-screen gravitas to handheld shots of desert throwdowns as Kara’s self-extinguishing memories. Shown and distributed locally on VHS in New York City by Karen Ranucci’s Downtown Video for years before it was seen in, NADIE ES INOCENTE is a remarkable and unsentimental depiction of teenage life and urban displacement.

screens with

SAN FRENESI
(SAINT FRENZY)
Dir. Sarah Minter and Gregorio Rocha
34 mins. 1983.
In Spanish with English subtitles.Starring Maribel Mejia as a young woman who goes on a road trip reeling from a string of heartbreaks and bad relationships, Minter’s early collaboration with her then-partner Rocha feels more apiece with the French New Wave influences of a successive generation. (She spoke admiringly about Godard in an interview, but described her later ideas as more directly influenced by Dziga Vertov.) There isn’t a ton of evidence of the staccato editing that would mark NADIE ES INOCENTE, but one prolonged sex scene – in which a furiously edited sequence of sound effects takes center stage over abstracted imagery – can only hint at the individual liberation to follow.


ALMA PUNK
dir. Sarah Minter
56 mins. 1991-92.
In Spanish with English subtitles.

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 3 – 7:30 PM
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 15 – 10 PM
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 17 – 5 PM
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 27 – 7:30 PM 

Part-improvised and starring a cast of nonactors led by real-life punk Ana Hernandez (as Alma, which also means “soul”), ALMA PUNK traces the tortuous path of a young riot grrl from the Mexico City punk scene as she moves north to Tijuana and, eventually, towards the United States. It confidently breaks with the rules of staging docudrama with an unsparing look at Alma’s love life, unfakeable scene bohemianism and extensive location footage of Mexico before NAFTA and after the 1985 earthquake. “I feel like no one is supporting me,” Alma says. “Guys want everything and give nothing in return. Isn’t that so?” Like NADIE ES INOCENTE, this film uses the intimacy and flexibility of video (this time, 3/4″) to wring innovation in the editing room, this time to give Alma a similarly alienated and jittery headspace.

(screens with)

SABADO DE MIERDA
(SATURDAY OF SHIT)
dirs. Sarah Minter and Gregorio Rocha
25 mins. 1988.
In Spanish with English subtitles.

Bookended with snippets of This Heat’s classic 1979 slow-burn “Twilight Furniture”, SABADO DE MIERDA is a classic rockers-versus-punks story set in a near-autonomous version of Neza York in the year 2000, lorded over by teenage punk gangs. The movie plays at once like riveting docudrama and sprawling music video: capturing one massive crowd scene, Minter and Rocha paid off police officers to stage an intervention that sends dozens of punks scattering between the floodlights. The desert depicted is at once a Mad Max-influenced arena of brawling moshpits and mob rule, but also a permanent freedom from the rules and demands of society.

SARAH MINTER (1953-2016) was a pioneering video and installation artist, a photographer, curator and avant-garde theater performer from Mexico. She spent her early 20s collaborating with Juan Carlos Uviedo, an exiled Argentinean theater director who had migrated to Mexico City after many years heading the Living Theatre at La Mama in the East Village. Her contemporaries included her longtime partner Gregorio Rocha (co-director of two of the films in this series), the cinematographer Emmanual “Chivo” Lubezki (THE NEW WORLD, CHILDREN OF MEN) and video producer and theorist Pola Weiss (who once said “For me, film would be the epic; television, the novel; and video art, poetry.”) Minter’s video works are bitter, unforgettable dispatches from the margins of society, drawn in opposition to the tropes and food chains of TV documentary and theatrical distribution; she later experimented with looped installations shot over the course of many years. This is how she described her approach to video as opposed to film:

“I learned to edit and resolve things technically on my own. Creative and financial independence are very important to me, especially if we remember that in the 1980s there was practically no existing support of any kind. I saw people trying to get things done and it took them ten years to make their next movie. That was basically the panorama. They were all failed attempts, and on top of all that, independent film was totally hermetic… If you got money to film, you had to do it with a high percentage of union workers, and if not, you had to pay replacement fees. And once you’d pulled it off it wasn’t easy to show your work. There weren’t festivals in the same quantity as there are today; in Mexico there were hardly any at all, and there were very few in the rest of the world—it wasn’t easy even for famous people. The only kinds of film that kept getting made were Mexican sex comedies and totally commercial movies, which controlled
< everything.”


INTREPIDOS PUNKS
dir. Francisco Guerrero, 198?.
92 min. Mexico.
In Spanish with English subtitles.

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 1 – MIDNIGHT
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 15 – MIDNIGHT

Even without our presentation of Mexican video artist Sarah Minter’s VHS-era punk docufictions NADIE ES INOCENTE and ALMA PUNK, there’s never a bad time to resuscitate Francisco Guerrero’s jawdropping midnight movie epic INTREPIDOS PUNKS, (nor its irrepressible sequel LA VENGANZA DE LOS PUNKS).  This was the original pitch from when INTREPIDOS PUNKS played Spectacle in August 2012:

Described in INTREPIDOS PUNKS is about a sexy apocalyptic biker gang led by a ruthless luchador pushing drugs, racing choppers and killing the police who are helpless to stop them. And partying. Featuring the song “Intrepidos Punks” along with an unabashed rip-off of “Sweet Emotion” that improves significantly upon the original.

“I found this VHS in a box of tapes someone left on the sidewalk. I was surprised it was a cool movie.” – Anonymous, The Internet

“It’s 99.9% certain that this is the most gleefully assaultive display of a misappropriated cultural movement in history, which is by no means a criticism. […] This film isn’t recommended… it’s MANDATORY.” Destroy All Movies!!! The Complete Guide to Punks on Film

“It wouldn’t be entirely beyond the pale to say that my entire life has been leading up to the moment I first heard of, then tracked down and watched this overwhelmingly fantastic slice of punk rock exploitation. […] INTREPIDOS PUNKS is a colossal juggernaut, a true giant striding across the landscape of sleazy movies. If you have not seen it, you will notice there’s probably a little hole in your soul. A hole shaped exactly like a busty blonde in a chainmail bikini, sporting gigantic hair and a grenade launcher. Let INTREPIDOS PUNKS plug that hole and finally make you complete.” Teleport City




IT’S A COMPLEX WORLD
dir. Jim Wolpaw
1991, USA
81 minutes

MONDAY, FEBRUARY 4 – 7:30 PM
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 16 – 7:30 PM *With Director Q & A!*
FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 22 – 10 PM
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 28 – 10 PM

It’s a complex world—so hard for a casual guy like me—or so goes the dead-pan hook of The Young Adults’ signature 1979 single, a local Rhode Island hit that encapsulates the mid-’70s art-school wastoid scene from whence, say, the Talking Heads (whose David Byrne once auditioned to be a member of the band) emerged. “Complex World” doubled as the unofficial theme song for the first Lupo’s Heartbreak Hotel, a popular nightclub destination in downtown Providence, and one of the few dive bars in America legendary enough to have an anarchic feature-length comedy made in its honor.

In the vain of regional cinema (like a madcap cousin of Eagle Pennell’s LAST NIGHT AT THE ALAMO) and ’80s New Wave midnight movies, IT’S A COMPLEX WORLD the film takes place over the course of one night at Lupo’s as the whims of a hostile terrorist folk-singer (Stanley Mathis), a neo-fascist presidential candidate (Bob Owczarek), a mercenary biker gang (lead by Captain Lou Albano), street preachers, and more intersect, soundtracked by local color The Young Adults. Keep your eye out, too, for appearances by NRBQ and Roomful of Blues.

Though The Young Adults are not quite a household name outside of the Ocean State, their influence was significant. The Fabulous Motels, an earlier incarnation, launched the career of Charles Rocket (of Saturday Night Live and DUMB AND DUMBER) while Rudy Cheeks was cast in the Farrelly Brothers’ later Rhode Island picture ME, MYSELF AND IRENE. A documentary about the group’s 9-day sold-out stint as the backing band for Bo Diddley is captured in the 1978 short COBRA SNAKE FOR A NECKTIE—it will screen alongside COMPLEX WORLD on February 16th, following a Q&A with director Jim Wolpaw.

Special short for 2/16 screening:
COBRA SNAKE FOR A NECKTIE: BO DIDDLEY AND THE YOUNG ADULTS
dir. Jim Wolpaw
1978, USA
28 minutes

B-SCHEMES FROM SOUTH AFRICA (PART 2)

In partnership with Gravel Road Distribution, Spectacle is thrilled to exhibit a handful of deep cuts from the heyday of South African blaxploitation cinema, excavated and restored by Cape Town-based Retro Afrika Bioscope. Many of these were developed under a government subsidy spearheaded by one Tonie van der Merwe, the white owner of a construction company who realized there was an opportunity to produce and screen inexpensively made genre films in impoverished Black townships. (In a 2015 Guardian interview, van der Merwe said, “We used all of my equipment as props. My diggers. My airplane. My cars.”)

The ensuing “B-Schemes” are complicated: they star entirely Black casts, yet the movies are apolitical genre thrillers, melodramas, adaptations of South African novels – Van Der Merwe himself is estimated to have worked on nearly 400 of them, a quarter of what was produced until the end of the white-supremacist regime in 1990. Here’s how Bevis Parsons, director of CHARLIE STEEL described the “B-Scheme” pipeline:

“Distribution was informal to say the least in that a film copy was supplied to an independent (Black) distributor who drove into the countryside far from large cities with a small pick-up truck with a projector, a generator and a portable screen. Posters were usually put up at the rural school and films were generally shown for one night only before moving on to the next venue. I know this sounds primitive but at the time there was little or no infrastructure to do otherwise. Ticket stubs were returned to us to claim subsidies on each movie and these returns were carefully audited by the department of Trade and Industry, which oversaw the B-scheme subsidy.”

Retro Afrika Bioscope is dedicated to saving, restoring and distributing these films worldwide, including making each of them available streaming on their website.



UMBANGO
(THE FEUD)
dir. Tonie van der Merwe, 1986
68 mins.
In Zulu with English subtitles.

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 9 – 10 PM
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 11 – 7:30 PM
SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 16 – 10 PM
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 25 – 10 PM

The 1986 western UMBANGO is a lovingly crafted spaghetti-style epic, and probably the most ambitious B-Scheme in this series; van der Merwe’s pulse-pounding closeups on hands gripping revolvers and eyes squinting in harsh desert sunlight demonstrate him as a keen student of filmmakers like John Sturges and Sergio Leone. Such as it is, the plot follows a ruthless cowboy-businessman with a Hitler moustache named Kay Kay, who wages total war on two drifters named Jet and Owen after mistakenly accusing them of killing his brother. The two friends – heretofore inoffensive cowpokes – must defend themselves against KK’s cadre, but at what cost? Like Moustapha Alassane’s 1966 short film THE RETURN OF THE ADVENTURER – wherein a young African man returns to his home village with a trunk full of gallon hats, leather chaps, pistols and bandanas, upending centuries-old tribal dynamics in a few broad Western strokes – UMBANGO plays like a dispatch from another world.



CHARLIE STEEL
Dir. Bevis Parsons, 1984
80 mins.
In Afrikaner English with English subtitles.

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 2 – MIDNIGHT
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 7 – 10 PM
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 20 – 10 PM

Building on the momentum of JOE BULLET, Bevis Parsons’ CHARLIE STEEL plays like a page-turner in the spirit of E.M. Crumley or Charles Willeford, staring Sol Rachilo as a down-but-never-out private dick named CHARLIE STEEL. When the daughter of Charlie’s friend Dlamini is kidnapped by small-time hoods working under a mobster named Sonny, Charlie must infiltrate their inner circle in a daring attempt to bust her out – leading to a nailbiting showdown-cum-road trip in the forest outside Sonny’s headquarters. CHARLIE STEEL’s best moments are triumphs of no-frills, on-the-fly genre filmmaking. Despite some rough-hewn line deliveries and Parsons’ near-claustrophobic reliance on a handful of locations, the film plays it straight – climaxing in shocking acts of violence (ala JOE BULLET & BULLET ON THE RUN), AND buoyed by an unforgettable psych-rock soundtrack that screams out for a vinyl rerelease.



LOLA
Dir. Brett Owen, 198?
75 mins.
In Xhosa with English subtitles.

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 12 – 7:30 PM
SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 17 – 7:30 PM

Brett Owen’s LOLA is the quietest of the B-Schemes presented in this series, concerning a volleyball team and its star player Lola (Constance Shangase) who must address a challenged proffered by a rival team. Shangase’s warm performance and the lilting group dynamics of the volleyball team make for a warm slice-of-life dramedy about a kind of social circle (complete with agonizing group discussions and a great makeshift nightclub scene) perhaps never before depicted onscreen, all-the-while asking a foundational question: Can LOLA have it all?



FRIDAY’S GHOST
dir. ????, 19??
72 mins.
In Zulu with English subtitles.

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 8 – 10 PM
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 18 – 10 PM

A paranormal chiller-comedy in the tradition of TRULY MADLY DEEPLY, THE LAKE HOUSE, WHITE NOISE, GHOST, FREQUENCY, STIR OF ECHOES and BEETLEJUICE, (director unknown)’s FRIDAY’S GHOST follows three friends – Simon, Friday and Ntombi – who come to terms with the fact that the house formerly owned by Simon’s late father is haunted by a ghost (albeit a genial-enough one, who kinda just looks like the deceased, albeit in facepaint and a bedsheet.) A local thug named Rufus with an unbeatable wardrobe becomes obsessed with Ntombi, and the trio must inevitably conquer their fear of the ghost in order to unlock an important lesson from the other side to preserve the family home and/or Ntombi’s dignity.



JOE BULLET
dir. Louis de Witt, 1973
79 mins.
In Afrikaner English.

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 16 – MIDNIGHT

The first South African film with an all-Black cast, JOE BULLET was shown twice before it was banned by government censors – producer Van der Merwe would later say that “in those days, it was taboo for a black man to have a firearm.” Anchored by the steely yet mega-charismatic performance of Ken Gampu, JOE BULLET is an apartheid-era answer to SHAFT and SUPERFLY, a must-see for any connoisseur of international action cinema. Gampu plays Joe as a karate master with a cocky sneer, an indefatigable wardrobe and an uncanny grip on logistics; his supervision of the safety of the neighborhood soccer team (The Eagles) runs him afoul of mobsters who want to bump off the top players, thus preventing the team from winning the championship. A number of run-ins ensue, dazzling miniature set pieces blending wooden acting with hushed asskicking (martial arts and otherwise), and fascinating snatches on-location naturalism. Among Gampu’s claims to fame was convincing the racist Afrikaner government to allow a stage performance of OF MICE AND MEN; he would later star in films including ZULU DAWN, Cornel Wilde’s THE NAKED PREY and THE GODS MUST BE CRAZY.



BULLET ON THE RUN
dir. Tonie van der Merwe, 1982
90 mins.
In Afrikaner English.

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 23 – MIDNIGHT

This time, Bullet stakes his reputation on the line by infiltrating one of South Africa’s toughest prisons to unfold the mystery of a police corruption ring lorded over by a mob boss known only as “Snake”, with whom Bullet has deep – and bitter – roots. What initially starts as a funky shoot-em-up goes full courtroom drama, crime procedural and finally becomes an archetypal prison film, as Bullet must band together with other ripped-off inmates to fight Snake’s minions. BULLET ON THE RUN expands the world of the first film, including more elaborate stunts, and setting Joe up with a bashful folk singer named Patience (Thandi Mbongwe). As in JOE BULLET, the blood is neon-fluorescent while every moment of violence (including car chases, a dam crossing, one character getting sand thrown in their eyes, another falling backwards and hitting their head on a rock) lands with jarring brutality.

THE JACKSON BOLLOCKS

THE JACKSON BOLLOCKS
Dir. Hanna Utkin, 2018
USA, 18 minutes

THURSDAY, JANUARY 24 – 7:30 PM

“We were just having an argument about whether it’s important to know the words.”

Join The Jackson Bollocks, made up of Robert Leslie and Edward Pankov, for the world-premiere of THE JACKSON BOLLOCKS, a short documentary directed by Hanna Utkin, following the band as they prepare for their first (and last) show.

Program followed by a discussion of music and memes with the band.

B-SCHEMES FROM SOUTH AFRICA (PART 1)

In partnership with Gravel Road Distribution, Spectacle is thrilled to exhibit a handful of deep cuts from the heyday of South African blaxploitation cinema, excavated and restored by Cape Town-based Retro Afrika Bioscope. Many of these were developed under a government subsidy spearheaded by one Tonie van der Merwe, the white owner of a construction company who realized there was an opportunity to produce and screen inexpensively made genre films in impoverished Black townships. (In a 2015 Guardian interview, van der Merwe said, “We used all of my equipment as props. My diggers. My airplane. My cars.”)

The ensuing “B-Schemes” are complicated: they star entirely Black casts, yet the movies are apolitical genre thrillers, melodramas, adaptations of South African novels – Van Der Merwe himself is estimated to have worked on nearly 400 of them, a quarter of what was produced until the end of the white-supremacist regime in 1990. Here’s how Bevis Parsons, director of CHARLIE STEEL (coming February), described the “B-Scheme” pipeline:

“Distribution was informal to say the least in that a film copy was supplied to an independent (Black) distributor who drove into the countryside far from large cities with a small pick-up truck with a projector, a generator and a portable screen. Posters were usually put up at the rural school and films were generally shown for one night only before moving on to the next venue. I know this sounds primitive but at the time there was little or no infrastructure to do otherwise. Ticket stubs were returned to us to claim subsidies on each movie and these returns were carefully audited by the department of Trade and Industry, which oversaw the B-scheme subsidy.”

Retro Afrika Bioscope is dedicated to saving, restoring and distributing these films worldwide, including making each of them available streaming on their website. The favored masterpiece is 1986’s Zulu-language desert western UMBANGO – THE FEUD – coming to Spectacle in February.



JOE BULLET
dir. Louis de Witt, 1973
79 mins.
In Afrikaner English.

WEDNESDAY JANUARY 2 – 7:30 PM
THURSDAY JANUARY 10 – 10 PM
MONDAY JANUARY 14 – 7:30 PM
THURSDAY JANUARY 17 – 10 PM

The first South African film with an all-Black cast, JOE BULLET was shown twice before it was banned by government censors – producer Van der Merwe would later say that “in those days, it was taboo for a black man to have a firearm.” Anchored by the steely yet mega-charismatic performance of Ken Gampu, JOE BULLET is an apartheid-era answer to SHAFT and SUPERFLY, a must-see for any connoisseur of international action cinema. Gampu plays Joe as a karate master with a cocky sneer, an indefatigable wardrobe and an uncanny grip on logistics; his supervision of the safety of the neighborhood soccer team (The Eagles) runs him afoul of mobsters who want to bump off the top players, thus preventing the team from winning the championship. A number of run-ins ensue, dazzling miniature set pieces blending wooden acting with hushed asskicking (martial arts and otherwise), and fascinating snatches on-location naturalism. Among Gampu’s claims to fame was convincing the racist Afrikaner government to allow a stage performance of OF MICE AND MEN; he would later star in films including ZULU DAWN, Cornel Wilde’s THE NAKED PREY and THE GODS MUST BE CRAZY.


BULLET ON THE RUN
dir. Tony van der Merwe, 1982
90 mins.
In Afrikaner English.

SUNDAY, JANUARY 20 – 5 PM
THURSDAY, JANUARY 24 – 7:30 PM
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 30 – 10 PM

This time, Bullet stakes his reputation on the line by infiltrating one of South Africa’s toughest prisons to unfold the mystery of a police corruption ring lorded over by a mob boss known only as “Snake”, with whom Bullet has deep – and bitter – roots. What initially starts as a funky shoot-em-up goes full courtroom drama, crime procedural and finally becomes an archetypal prison film, as Bullet must band together with other ripped-off inmates to fight Snake’s minions. BULLET ON THE RUN expands the world of the first film, including more elaborate stunts, and setting Joe up with a bashful folk singer named Patience (Thandi Mbongwe). As in JOE BULLET, the blood is neon-fluorescent while every moment of violence (including car chases, a dam crossing, one character getting sand thrown in their eyes, another falling backwards and hitting their head on a rock) lands with jarring brutality.

BEST OF SPECTACLE MIDNIGHTS



DEAD GIRLS
dir. Dennis Devine, 1990
105 min, USA

FRIDAY, JANUARY 4 – MIDNIGHT
SATURDAY, JANUARY 12 – MIDNIGHT

Lucy Lethal, Cynthia Slayed, Nancy Napalm, Randy Rot and Bertha Beirut are all members of the metal band Dead Girls. These girls are not fucking around either. All their songs are about murder, suicide, death, and carnage. This whole schtick comes back to bite them in their collective ass when a fan tries to commit suicide while listening to their latest single aptly titled YOU’VE GOT TO KILL YOURSELF on repeat. No ones ass is more bitten however than lead singer Bertha when she discovers this fan is none other than her younger sister.

After repeated attempts at getting the girls to switch it up and go in a direction that’s less gore and more Leslie Gore, Bertha decides the Dead Girls are in need of a vacation. So to hit the reset button the band high-tails it out of town to a cabin in the woods for some sun and fun.

Little do they know that lurking in the shadows is every woman’s nightmare – a man in a fedora. He also has a skull mask, but still. The band members are picked off one by one in manners related to some of their more ghastly tunes. Who is this masked killer???




THE HANGING WOMAN (La orgía de los muertos)
Dir. José Luis Merino, 1973
Spain, 95 minutes

SATURDAY, JANUARY 5 – MIDNIGHT

Akin in spirit and substance to the Italian atmosphere-heavy Gothic horror of the late 60s, THE HANGING WOMAN (known in its home country as La orgia de los muertos) takes that template to Franco-era Spain. There’s a genuine mystery at the heart of the film, but director José Luis Merino takes the inspector-investigating-a-crime-at-a-spooky-castle theme and adds a bit of, well, everything: a secret laboratory for the maddest of science, nightgown-clad midnight strolls by candlelight, schemes and double-crosses over the inheritance of a mysterious Count, a crypt with fog machines on full blast, devil worship, reanimated frogs and none other than El Hombre Lobo himself, Paul Naschy, in a supporting role as a necrophiliac gravedigger! In an excellent restoration thanks to our friends at Troma, THE HANGING WOMAN is the perfect film for sweaty June midnights.




BIGFOOT: THE MYSTERIOUS MONSTER
Dir. Robert Guenette, 1975
USA, 90 min.
English

SATURDAY, JANUARY 19 – MIDNIGHT

“The facts that will be presented are true. This may be the most startling film you’ll ever see.”
Schick began a series of paranormal expose’ style films with THE MYSTERIOUS MONSTERS, in which Peter Graves (not to be confused with James Arness) visits isolated tribes, watches hypnosis, considers digital voice frequency analysis (in 1975!), and asks people around the world: is Bigfoot real?




DIVINE EMANUELLE: LOVE CULT (Die Todesgöttin des Liebescamps)
Dir. Christian Anders, 1981
West Germany/Cyprus, 98 min.
In dubbed English

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 21 – MIDNIGHT
FRIDAY, JANUARY 11 – MIDNIGHT
FRIDAY, JANUARY 25 – MIDNIGHT

Before you get too worked up about the professed Emmanuelleness of this film, note the one E — that title is just a bit of bait and switch because Laura Gemser of the Black Emmanuelle films is our co-star, along director/writer/actor/composer/martial artist Christian Anders, who here presents a breezy sex romp/retelling of the Jonestown massacre.

Still with us? There are great bombastic disco-pop songs, karate expos, hypnosis headtrips, and best of all Gemser in her most Femme Domme Babylon role: if Anders is the pie-eyed naif, Gesmer is the enforcer, playing her role to the hilt.

AN EVENING WITH COURTNEY FATHOM SELL

ONE NIGHT ONLY
JANUARY 3RD
7:30PM

This screening is dedicated to the Philosophical Research Society.

A film school drop out after his first semester, Sell began traveling the country with nothing but a bag of clothes, a few dollars, a laptop and his beloved Hi8 camera. Covering 42 of the 50 states in a whirlwind Kerouac-esque style, Sell obsessively and extensively documented his travels and the people he met along the way before he even turned 22.

From sleeping in parks, graveyards and the many floors of his friends apartments, Sell would shoot and edit simultaneously on his broken laptop wherever he could and present the works wherever they would have him. Previously being distributed on DVD by small labels, these early short documentaries never gained much public attention but were recognized for their gritty style. Fans of SHRIEK SHOW 6’s DON’T LET THE DEVIL IN take note – presented here are some of Sell’s earliest and rarest works.

* THE HOLE (2010) // 10 min.
Co-Directed by Billy Feldman
A look at a mysterious neighborhood on the Brooklyn/Queens border known for being a mafia body dumping ground, thirty feet below sea level and the home of the Black Cowboy Federation.

* WHITE CLOVER (2007) // 9 min.
A day in the life of New Orleans resident ‘Squirrel’ which includes driving through the city with a loaded gun and dealing with elements of drugs months after Hurricane Katrina.

* MY DYING DAY (2007) // 10 min.
An award-winning short documentary based around an the Rev. Bradly Sell’s struggle with an aggressive form of prostate cancer.

* AN AFTERNOON WITH WALT CURTIS (2013) // 12 min.
A portrait of poet Walt Curtis – the inspiration behind Gus Van Sant’s first film MALA NOCHE.

* LIVING LIKE A KING (2013) // 10 min.
A portrait of the “Lower East Side Minister of Information” John King.

GET REEL: ORPHAN’S WISH

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 14 – 8:00 PM

GET REEL is a movie-clip based comedy show, where comedians voice over movie clips live. This month’s theme is ORPHANS’ WISH. Holiday cheer, the spirit of giving, and joyous blessings. Hosted by two horny orphans, Perky Swallows & Thimble Tauthole, this month’s episode will put you in a mood so merry, you may just break out into song. Or sores.

Featuring:
Rob Haze
Drew Anderson
Jo Firestone
Marcia Belsky
Andrews Govea
Eudora Peterson

Hosted by:
Max Wittert & Joe Castle Baker

$5 @ Spectacle Theater
124 S. 3rd Street
Brooklyn, NY 11249
(Williamsburg)