See You Next Wednesday!

Horror movies have always been my bread and butter. As a kid I had two older brothers who had no problem subjecting me to stuff like the Toxic Avenger. Yeah, I know its lame comedy NOW, but I didn't know that while watching the seeing eye dog getting blown to pieces with a shotgun (while it's female blind owner CRIES IN TERROR) or when a little kid gets his head run over like a wet melon.
The stuff scared me, but I loved it all, and I still love it.
That said, there's not that many truly great movies that happen to be horror movies. There's many with charm (From Beyond, The Beyond), good gore (Day Of The Dead), or something or other that makes it awesome. But great? Great like Black Narcissus or Lawrence of Arabia great? It's a minor list. I thought it might fun to list some of these particular masterpieces. I honestly can't think of what else to write about here right now.
so first up is An American Werewolf In London. From the beginning of the movie you believe and like David Naughton and Griffin Dunne's characters and friendship. The're good actors and play it right-as two young guys sorta awkward as adults because they barely are adults. After they have been kicked out of the Slaughtered Lamb, we follow them getting more and more freaked out in the dark listening to the howl of a wolf. Landis keeps the camera on them and the tension is paltable. you like both of the these dumb shmucks equally, you dont know who the lead is supposed to be, but you know something is going to happen. And when it does landis pulls no punches we get straight up superwolf on mang action.
its fucked up. Landis, in those first minutes of the movie, sets the bar of how gnarley this could get and he sets it high. The rest of the movie we follow Naughton's character, David, slowly getting more and more concerned he is is turning into a wolf, while at the same time starts fall in love with a nurse he met at the hospital. Yeah, it is a bit far fetched, but if any couple could make it work its sweet jewish boy david and modest lass jenny....

In many ways landis gets carried away with the humor. and I think he was probably envisioning a more humorous movie than what he ended up with. But all his jokes, from every song on the radio being some wolf/moon reference or the porn movie or even griffin dunne's one liners can't get in the way of the tragedy of the story. If anything they dont relive the tension but rack it up, because the humor is always character based. He never really makes fun of the situation. It's amazing but the movie does everything just right, especially the gore were you can practicaly hear Landis giggling behind the camera-is there anything more sadistically satisfying than the zombie nazi pillage of the suburban home?

It gets revealed to be a dream, but it doesn't even matter. And of course it has the most satisfying tranformation scene ever. a scent hat works partly because of rick baker's prosthetics but mainly because of everything that's come before. Its frightening, funny, ironic, and exhilarating.

posted by sammy at 3:34 AM


we will be carrying the 'edie' book.

posted by TAHLI at 12:08 AM

Black Narcissus part 3.

The most immediate thing that strikes when watching Black Narcissus, is the color. Or rather, the Technicolor. Some reckon it's the finest use of color ever used. I want to agree, but I haven't seen The Red Shoes yet.

I wonder how much thought Powell put it into the cinematography for this film as compared to the others. A film about nuns, about denying the physical, about the lure of the physical, well you would think that would be a film to shoot as striking as you could, to get that idea at least floating in the viewer's head. But then again, maybe its just the genereal setting of the story, northern India, high mountains, all that jewelery, all those crazy outfits combined with the whole artificiality of shooting the entire film on sets in england (After learning that, my yearning to go to northern India was replaced with an urge to go London....). That gives it that extra spark that maybe A Matter Of Life And Death or Peeping Tom doesn't have. Jack Cardiff's work here is remarkable, but it's always remarkable.
Maybe it's everything-the setting, the story, Cardiff, the sets, and sheer height the technicolor process itself was in that adds up to make such a beautiful LOOKING picture.
I am not quite sure.

posted by sammy at 6:16 AM

Rege Mural Done!

R.R. stands in front of his fine handiwork.
The guy who did the mural for the store is Ernesto, a laid back, part-indian, life long L.A. DUDE in his late fifties, but a real healthy fifties. He seemed more like a smirking 15 year old stoner then someone who could be our dad. But then he would tell us about coming to fairfax in the late sixties to check out all the black light stores and seeing hendrix play at the roxy up the street....and taking peyote in the desert.
kramer would call him and try to get a set deadline for the mural to get done and it would go basically like this:

Hi Ernesto, it me David Kramer, from Family, you know, the store on Fairfax? I was wondering if maybe we could get you to come in to do the mural. When we gave you the check, you said you would be here friday to start and its already the following wednesday...

Hey man...How you doin'? I'm good man, I am good...Taking it easy you know.....hey Kramer! I'm in Long Beach!

Long Beach? But your supposed to be here.

yeah man! got some crazy gig working for the city! big job for the man!

Huh. So when do you think you can come in to finish the wall here on fairfax?

Yeah man you know, I take it one step at a time. Maybe I'll see you next week, Kramer my man.

Well, that shouldn't be a problem, though I will be away for a couple days- going to San Francisco.

Frisco? that's a hell of place man, a hell of a place.....You enjoy yourself, Kramer.

And on and on. It was fun working with Ernesto though, because he looks like someone who enjoys his life. Really. he's still curious and interested in whats going on around him. And really there was no rush for the mural to get done.
And look at it, it's beautiful.
Ernesto, We Salute You!

posted by sammy at 5:38 AM

Black Narcissus part 2.

Tahli loves nuns. Ever since she was a kid. Her favorite t.v. show growing up in australia was something called Brides Of Christ with young versions of Naomi Watts and Russel Crowe. Personally, they make me a bit scared. We got a copy of Black Narcissus and it sat on the shelf for at least year, while I reluctantly eyed it every couple days knowing it was by the same people who made A Matter Of Life And Death (my favorite movie) and Peeping Tom, another great movie, but I dont know, it just looked boring and tedious. Nuns? Ugh.
We eventually did watch it and then we watched it again and then again. There is alot of truly remarkable things about this movie that stay with me-the awesome sets and cinematography, the color, the guru on the hill, kathleen byron's unhinged, heartbreaking portrayl of Ruth, etc etc , I mean ALOT in this thing is super superb. but possibly the one thing that makes Black Narcissus so distinct to me is probably David Farrar as Mr. Dean.
He reminds me of someone who I could have met at a sephardi synagogue in Australia. A weird dude who travelled and lived all over and just ended up somewhere. He has a strange blend of anglo saxon and middle eastern looks-white skin, prominent nose, sorta leathery skin. I dont know, I just feel like I know him or something and watching him is to watch someone truly at ease with themselves. There's a casualness to his presence, the way he sits on his donkey, or slyly toys with the head nun, that just breathes this air of cool. And the guy is wearing goofy shorts the whole time dont forget. Michael Powell, in his commentary, mentions that Farrar was not a career driven man. He could take or leave the film industry, and that he could have been a huge star if he had the desire. Watching him in BN, it's an opinion hard to disagree with. I sorta wish he played James Bond just once. or was the doctor in A Matter Of Life And Death. Or was in Lawrence of Arabia covered in makeup playing an arab. Whatever. Who cares. Anything would do.
Looking at the rest of his films on IMDB, I have seen none on the list or even heard of them. Who knows if they're any good. I am gonna try to search some out and I figure that, at the very worst the films might be horrible, but I am certain it'll still be cool seeing Mr. Dean in some new setting. the only other guy who comes to mind like that is good ol' Raymond Massey. if he's in it, I am sold.
so yeah, I'll let you know what Farrar movies rule. Hopefully they'll be a couple.

posted by sammy at 5:32 AM

black narcissus

this is a perfect movie.
from imdb: "Five young British nuns are invited to move to a windy "palace", former house of the concubines of an old general, in the top of a mountain in Mopu, Himalaya, to raise the convent of Saint Faith Order, a school for children and girls, and an infirmary for the local dwellers.The lonely and exotic place and the presence of Mr. `Dean awake the innermost desires in the flesh of the sisters, and Sister Ruth becomes mad with the temptation."
it has all my favourite things:
cool costumes
lovely jewellery
+ it is by micahel powell, the guy who made peeping tom & a matter of life and death!

posted by TAHLI at 4:17 AM


Mat Brinkman is The visceral artist. His form is his content. Hard, confident scraggily lines of skulls, monsters and castles. His work rises above the genre trappings because of its innate visual power, humor, and inventiveness. He works on a lot of projects, but very little is hard to come by if you dont live near by (which, sadly, I don't). Every once in awhile I look around the lousy internet trying to find a crumb of his somewhere. Today I found these two screenprints featured in a show in october 2005.

His most widely available thing is the book TERATOID HEIGHTS (see below) that has most of the short strips he has done in mini comics and in Paper Rodeo, the free comics tabloid he edited and published. It's a beautiful little book-the cover is silver ink on black paper with a wrap around paper band being the only place with the title. inside stories about monsters pissing off other monsters, hugging, being goofy, fighting, bored. Basically stories about mudane human life, but given a new perspetive by doing away with exterior parts, seemingly, and dwelling on universal human folly.

this is from his recent story Multiforce (aka TWO DUDES). it ran in Paper Rodeo.

to read a bunch of short strips go to the Fort Thunder website.

posted by sammy at 6:34 AM


From a 1997 interview with Salon:

SALON: You say that imagination is very important in your works. Sometimes your novels are very realistic, and then sometimes they get very ... metaphysical.

MURAKAMI: I write weird stories. I don't know why I like weirdness so much. Myself, I'm a very realistic person. I don't trust anything New Age -- or reincarnation, dreams, Tarot, horoscopes. I don't trust anything like that at all. I wake up at 6 in the morning and go to bed at 10, jogging every day and swimming, eating healthy food. I'm very realistic. But when I write, I write weird. That's very strange. When I'm getting more and more serious, I'm getting more and more weird. When I want to write about the reality of society and the world, it gets weird. Many people ask me why, and I can't answer that. But I recognized when I was interviewing those 63 ordinary people -- they were very straightforward, very simple, very ordinary, but their stories were sometimes very weird. That was interesting.

S: Did you ever sit in the bottom of a dry well, like your hero, Toru?

M: No. But I've always been attracted by wells, very much. Every time I see one, I go over and look in.

S: Do you think you'll go down one some day?

M: No, no.

S: Too scared?

M: Too scared. I read some writings by people who dropped down wells. One story, by Raymond Carver, was about a boy who dropped into a well and spent a day at the bottom. It's a good story.

S: He's a very realistic writer.

M: Yes, very realistic. But the subconscious is very important to me as a writer. I don't read much Jung, but what he writes has some similarity with my writing. To me the subconscious is terra incognita. I don't want to analyze it, but Jung and those people, psychiatrists, are always analyzing dreams and the significance of everything. I don't want to do that. I just take it as a whole. Maybe that's kind of weird, but I'm feeling like I can do the right thing with that weirdness. Sometimes it's very dangerous to handle that. You remember that scene in the mysterious hotel? I like the story of Orpheus, his descending, and this is based on that. The world of death and you enter there at your own risk. I think that I am a writer, and I can do that. I am taking my own risk. I have confidence that I can do it.

But it takes time. When I started to write this book and I was writing and writing every day, then when that darkness came, I was ready to enter it. It took time before that, to reach that stage. You can't do that by starting to write today and then tomorrow entering that kind of world. You have to endure and labor every day. You have to have the ability to concentrate. I think that's the most important ingredient to the writer. For that I was training every day. Physical power is essential. Many authors don't respect that. [Laughs] They drink too much and smoke too much. I don't criticize them, but to me, strength is critical. People don't believe that I'm a writer because I'm jogging and swimming every day. They say, "He's not a writer."

S: Do you scare yourself when you write these dark things?

M: No, not at all.

S: Not even in the scene when the evil being is coming through the hotel room door to get Toru, or when the soldier is skinned alive? Doesn't writing those scenes upset you?

M: OK, yeah, I get scared. When I was writing those scenes, I was there. I knew that place, I knew. I can feel the darkness. I can smell the strange smells. If you cannot do that, you are not a writer. If you're a writer you can feel that in your skin. When I was writing the scene of the skinning, I was so ... it was so horrible, and I was scared. I didn't want to write it, honestly, but I did it. I wasn't happy when I was doing it, but it was so important to the story. You can't avoid that. It's your responsibility.

posted by sammy at 6:45 AM

Rege taking over Fairfax!

Ron Rege Jr. is one of the most interesting cartoonists who has ever lived, and also one of the most interesting people I have ever met. He has created this distinct visual language in his comics and his art. It's over the top in emotion and action, sometimes ridiculously so. Every one of his characters is always making a crazy grimace of some kind or going through some crazy experience from putting jumoer cables on their tits to seeing god to making art out of garbage. but he balances this emotional intensity with a real understanding of the fine details and is pretty great at breaking down a moment to its poetic essence. As a person he is inspiring in his clear eyed energy and integrity. rege doesn't do things to 'get ahead', or for his career, or big bucks, or art world pestige. he does things that interest him. Super mainstream things like designing toys for medicine companies to odd jobs like drawing patterns for italian board shorts to doing a mini comic project with someone he has never met just because. There wasn't anybody else we even considered to have painted on front of the shop. Here is his painting, custom to FAMILY, with the line art done, with only about a third 'colored' in. Even incomplete it sure warms the heart doesn't it?
and check out his new book from Drawn and Quaterly Books, THE AWAKE FIELD, it's another mind breaker.

posted by sammy at 7:10 AM

The Best Reason to Keep your Needle Fresh

Not much to write. Woke up, went straight to the phone, since it was already mid-day in Los Angeles and had to catch some people at their work before they left. One thing into another, and it turned into a day where I sat in my pajamas ordering books and movies, tracking down italian soundtrack LP's and preparing t-shirt designs for the printer, listening endlessly to Goblin's Dawn of the Dead score. I found the score, oddly enough, in a small boutique shop in Sydney's Surrey Hills area after continuely searching for it for months while in L.A.
And not only did I find it, but the edition is awesome. Just look at this front cover, a thing of stark, almost serene, beauty:
Yeah, thats right, zombies on an goddamn ice rink.
Gatefolded, 180 grams on red vinyl, this thing is perfect. Released by an italian company I have never heard of, DAGORED. Looked around the great, glorious, mostly useless, internet and finally found a complete listing of their catalogue. Good lord if its not an amazing list, with loads of little heard Morricone, like his score for the WWII nazi movie GOTT MIT UNS, John Carpenter's early film scores, stuff from John Barry (Game of Death), Fabio Frizzi (The Beyond), and Alex North (South Sea adventure...which reminds me I still have to get copies of his unused 2001 Space Odessey score for the shop......)! That these recordings were in print would be a great thing unto itself, but they're also beautifully designed and put together at the highest quality. Totally great reminder of the joys of vinyl and why sometimes vinyl is the only way. I am slowly putting together a list of this stuff for the store, but am trying to go slow, forcing myself to hold out a bit. I actually have no idea if any one will actually like this stuff besides me and Kramer and Tahli. I hope people buy this stuff, so we can carry all of it. It's stuff like this that got us excited to open FAMILY in the first place.

posted by sammy at 6:10 AM

Lsd Morning

I can't remember which one of us took this polaroid, me or brook. Anyway it was nice sight to end a nightmarish evening in 1998 in Australia with-one that started with watching fantastic planet and (d)evolved from there.

posted by sammy at 2:25 AM


Espers - II.
personally, this is like Black Sabbath in their Planet Caravan Zone if they had the female vocalist of Pentangle and were on heroin. Meaning guitar led, slow, deiberate, lush, mysterious. Judging from the photo on on the jacket everyone in this band has hair down to their ass. Yeah its like that. But with all the best things of the post hippy moody seventies folk and none of the wank. very beautiful record. I like this on vinyl because the cover art is beautiful and the c.d. printing does not do it justice.

Bonnie 'Prince' Billy - Cursed Sleep.
Like all Bonnie 'Prince' Billy records, this yields more and more with each listen. At the outset what is striking is the use of a string section, the general lush production, and it's adherence to "classic" song structure/form (not that weird, but when one considers "arise therefore" or "hope", you realize how much things have changed). it sounds like a million bucks. But then you forget about the surface and what stays are the haunting lyrics, Dawn McCarthy's amazing voice that complements Oldham's voice probably better than any of his past duet partners, and the sheer emotional weight of the song. One of Oldham's greatest stengths is how he uses words. It seems any of his sentences can mean inumerable things in inumerable tones and still read devoid of any outerward effort for symbolism. It's straight forward AND elusive. He is like the Nabakov of music. Combine that with a talent for songwriting that seems timeless and formed out of the very ether, and you have some the best music being made now and ever.

Isley Bros. Featuring Ron Isley as Mr. Big - Body Kiss.
This whole record was produced and written by R.Kelly and its genius. just real perfect R&B. Ridiculously sexed up and catchy. A friend pointed out how each song is plotted in a way to tell an overall story. Track five, "Busted" is duet between Ron Isley and Lil Kim where has all the lyrics to song serve as dialogue to Isley's character, Mr. Big, confronting her cheating ways and her singing her rebutal. Totally beautiful and exciting. I hear since that the subsequent Isley/Kelley collabortations are just as great.

Okay, I actually have not heard this record. and I sort of don't want to. That cover is just so beautiful. That measily jpeg does nothing for it. I look at that cover and think it has to house the best rock music ever. so why ruin it? it's a J. Mascis record, and I am not really a Dinosaur fan, at least not in any non-nostalgic real way. but dude, what a cover...

posted by sammy at 3:55 AM


we're having a baby in a couple of months. tahli's taking this really serious for some reason. she read a bunch of books, after all that she only recommends is: mayo clinic guide to a healthy pregnancy. so if your pregnant, thats the one. it has a week by week description of how your baby is growing and then small sections of what is happening to the mothers body. sick and weird.

posted by sammy at 7:16 PM

Forever Oates

Is there another movie like Monte Hellman and Rudy Wulitzer's Two-Lane Blacktop? That weird mixture of being really laid back and ripe with subtext, quiet and serious but also really funny and dumb? Why doesn't Warren Oates have his own channel, for goodness sakes?
The friend who initally recommended Two Lane said to watch Bresson's Lancelot Of The Lakes for a similiar watching experience. And he was right. They work amazingly well together. It's late period Bresson, and like Two-Lane Blacktop, the picture is ripe with tension in it's basic plot structure.
In Two-Lane you have the love triangle between the breezily arogant Laurie Bird and "friends" James Taylor and Dennis Wilson. As well as the race for pink slips with Warren Oates' character (all unnamed in the film. The most we get is Bird's character is refered to by the name stitched on her army jacket). In Lancelot, there's Lancelot cheating with the queen, everyone knowing about it, except his trusty young friend who is willing to duel for Lancelot's (non existing) honor.
It's almost because of this innate drama, Bresson and Hellman can get away with shooting everything almost passively. They linger on open spaces of people coming in and out of frame. Tension building and subsiding in a world that stays unmoved.
Its a fine line between making everything feel small and doing the exact opposite and making (accidentaly) everything overtly precious. The Brown Bunny is a disaster for this reason. Gallo's movie divolves into just shots of him crying listening to Gordon Lightfoot, indulgent in the worst way. Worse, it's just plain boring. And the blow job comes way to late and the explanation of the crying and the driving makes everything even DUMBER. After seeing that movie at the New Beverly, I was filled with even more admiration for Two-Lane Blacktop, Gallo's obvious inspiration, because it showed how easily that style of storytelling can be the worst.
Its interesting to me which films I catagorize in this open/laid back/pulsing-with-tension style of film making: Badlands, Straight Time, Aguirre, Wrath of God, Days of heaven, Paris Texas, Julien Donkey-Boy, Morvern Callar and Dawn Of The Dead. They are all different, but all seem just as concerned with texture and world building as they are with furthering plots. I mean, do I ever think of HOW Aguirre takes over the expidition and who he conspires with? Whereas the scene of the slave playing his reed flute on the raft (while breaking the third wall and looking into the camera) I think of all time. even though it has nothing to do with anything! seemingly.
Anyway, back to Two-Lane. I am fairly convinced that Warren Oates' approprietly nameless character (listed as GTO in the credits for the car he drives) has got to be one of the all time great film characters and that Oates' performance is one the finest ever. What's amazing is that the character and performance constantly reveals more with each viewing. He's is at once a man without a past, someone in the throes of a midlife crisis, a clown, an overgrown child, a villian. Constantly lying, trying to be what he thinks people want him to, he has no identity of his own ( he wont even reject the advances of a gay man honestly, only "I dont have time for that now!"). He becomes the perfect vehicle of all that is vulnerable in us. There is no subtext: He literally wanders around an Eggleston America, a lost soul, without connection, rarely a respite. Near the end of the picture, he picks up two hitchhickers, an old lady and her young granddaughter on their way to the cemeterey to visit the girl's recently deceased parents. GTO watches them in the cemeterey, lingering just outside the low chain link fence, it's raining slightly. He watches, struggling to feel something, frustrated and lonely. Hellman's camera just sits there bluntly staring, not giving us anything concrete. To me this is the center of the movie. Somehow everything before it has piled up for this scene. And you feel this man's intense longing, staring out at his own mortality, at his own confusion. Warren Oates plays this sad baffoon pitch perfect, constantly at odds with himself, a literal walking contradiction: delivering his lines fast and overtly confident, GTO is betrayed by that raised worried brow of wrinkles. He flashes that huge fine smile, but his eyes remain sadder than ever. even when angery, Oates does this thing where he sort of plays it big, pointing his thumb to his chest, deflating whatever agression is being presented. It's sad and beautiful and honest. It's the heart of the whole picture and what makes it work.

Oh yeah: 1) Fuck Easy Rider.
2) Hereis a neat article from 1971 published before the film came out.
3) And when oh when will two lane blacktop be re-released on dvd already? THROW US A BONE, WORLD!

posted by sammy at 4:52 PM


its how we feel on the inside!

posted by sammy at 4:40 PM