Friday, April 29, 2011

FFB: A Nightmare on Elm Street: Dreamspawn

I don’t often read tie in novels, but when watching the extras for the Nightmare on Elm street Documentary Never Sleep Again (recommended) Christa Faust mentioned her Elm Street book and I figured I needed to check it out. I know Ms. Faust as a crime writer, and one that I really like, her book Money Shot has improvised me and lead to my having a bookcase of just books by publisher Hard Case Crime.

The plot of Dreamspawn is pretty straightforward, a group of girls at a high school in southern California who have been harassed, abused, bullied and dehumanized enlist Freddy Kruger to take out their tormentors. The main character is Jane the new girl in school. She’s smart, she is introverted and she just wants to get though high school. Having moved a couple of times over the years she has never really had any friends, and with her fathering having died several years earlier from cancer, home isn’t the happiest place in the world. However Jane quickly attracts a gang of other misfits and soon finds herself with a male suitor as well. Just as things start to seem ok, Rose the newest member of the gang is attacked and the girls’ call upon Freddy to avenge all of the wrongs they have suffered.

Faust is really good at providing a narrative drive along side character moments. She seems to know the torment of High School girls and at the same time have the distance to put those feelings in perspective. I really like that she was able to devote almost half of the book to talking about high school popularity, unpareneted kids, and girls body issues. She also mentions one of my favorite punk bands T.S.O.L. whose Dance with Me is one of the great Horror Punk records of the 80s, and describes a slumber party where the girls watch videos like Carrie giving young readers a mini guide of films about young women getting revenge.

Over all it’s a great pulpy tale that is more than just another tie in book. If you have read Money Shot, Hoodtown and her entry in the Hunt for Adventure series and need something to tide you over until Choke Hold arrives.. Dreamspawn is Faust in top form.

The FFB Round Up can generally be found over at Patti Abbotts blog HERE

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Final Thursday Forgotten Music: The Shadows: Shadows are Go!

The Shadows were to the UK what the Ventures were to the USA, or the Ventures were to the USA what the Shadows were to the UK…. Which is all to say that they were an instrumental rock group who were popular in the UK and other parts of the world during the 1960s. Sound wise they were more laid back and less raunchy than Link Wray and even Duane Eddy.

Shadows are go is a solid compilation of their recordings from the 60s. It’s a well put together over view of a band in their heyday. It has several of their hits and other tracks of note. The danger with instrumental music is that it can all sound too much the same or too all over the place. The Shadows are go is a nice mix of sounds that never wander too far afield. It also avoids gimmicks and pandering cover songs. If you like instrumental rock, or if you want to expose a young person or old person for that matter to something different.

More forgotten Music can be found HERE

Monday, April 25, 2011

show review: Aaron Dresner & Van Houten

Aaron Dresner

Van Houten

Hiss (who didn’t get to play)

23 April 2011

It’s been a while since I was at a small show, and a longer time since I had seen the debut of a new local band. Saturday night I was among the medium sized audience at a party in one of those small weird spaces in town. It all started very low key with people hanging out and talking. Right away I could see that this was and older group made up mostly of people in their late 20s and early 30s, which is all to say that there was little of the teen and YA posturing and tension…. We were all there to see friends, to hear the music and check out what was going on.

Aaron Dresner started the show with an acoustic set of Alt Country, Indie Folk Blues originals. It was very much in the vein of the music covered by No Depression ( or the 9 Bullets blog ( It was silent while he was playing and there were cheers between songs, I found myself hearing something familiarly in the songs, but I couldn’t put my finger on it…, which is a good thing. The two artists that did come to mind while Dresner was playing were Alela Diane ( and Sea Wolf I would definitely like to hear more of Dresner in the future.

There was a pause while VAN HOUTEN took their places at the front, and a film started to be projected behind them. It was a 60s educational film on birth and a very graphic view of childbirth at that. Now I have been going to shows of all kinds since the mid 90s, and this was the first time that I saw an audience react to a film being shown in the way they did to this one. It was just jarring and several people turned away and finally the film was turned off. I just figured it was the birth control part of the evening.

Van Houten started to play and it was clear that they were hooking into the whole Garage Punk rattle and roll groove. They had a sloppiness the was fun and engaging. The short set featured a selection of originals and a couple of covers, my favorite was the original just called Western which started with a dusty epic feel before raving up into a blast of full throttle punk noise. The covers included Have Love will travel and a Beat Happening song that I don’t know the title of… but was great. If they are going to do any more Beat Happening, they should consider Red Head Walking as being ideal for them. Over all I liked their performance and sound and look forward to hear more from them in the future.

Hiss did not play due to someone near by calling the police about the noise. I can only assume it was a get off my lawn type of deal, anyway, I hope to check them out next time.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

26 soundtracks: No Small Affair

The film No Small Affair stars Jon Cryer as a teen photographer who is oblivious to the girl at school who can’t keep her eyes off him and instead finds his heart captured by an older singer played by a young Demi Moore. The film really is a fun Rom Com with a real heart that is worth checking out for those looking for another dose of 80s pop culture.

With a singer as a lead character in the film there is plenty of music for a soundtrack and No Small Affair delivers. Starting with several new wave pop ballads sung by Fiona, a couple of Twisted Sister songs and then some other odds and ends.

The soundtrack is a treat for those looking for the nostalgia of their youth, but who have seemingly exhausted the better know sources. I have to admit that I was a little shocked at how well this soundtrack holds up. In an era where over production ruined so much music, some how this collection of songs are produced in a way that works for each one. I can recommend this soundtrack for anyone who was a fan of the era.

01. Fiona - Love Makes You Blind (Love theme)-movie version

02. Chrissy Faith - Itchin' For A Fight

03. Chrissy Faith - Hot Headed

04. Chrissy Faith - My Funny Valentine

05. Rupert Holmes - No Small Affair

06. Twisted Sister - I'll Never Grow Up

07. Zebra - Hard Living Without You

08. Paul Delph - Only One Thing

09. Twisted Sister - Shoot 'Em Down

10. Malcolm McLaren and The McLarenettes - Eiffel Tower

11. Twisted Sister - I'll Never Grow Up (Live)

Monday, April 18, 2011

26 fIlms: The Trojan War

84 Minutes


The Trojan War has a simple premise, a high schooler Brad is asked by the girl he has lusted after for years to tutor her, and then she ends up wanting to have sex with him. There is only one problem he lacks a condom. Brad heads out into the night to find a condom and ends up having a series of largely wacky adventures. Along the way Brad figures out that his best gal pal from all these years might just be the one that he should be with.

Sounds like a pretty simple idea, and as with any set up like this, it’s all in the execution and the cast. Boy Meet’s World’s Will Friedle plays Brad,Jennifer Love Hewitt plays his best friend Leah, andMarley Shelton is Brooke the object of

his crush. I want to take a moment to talk about Friedle, who has a very likable screen presence, and I am not sure why he wasn’t cast in more films during this time period or since. Marley Shelton has made interesting career choices appearing in Planet Terror and Women in Trouble in the last couple of year. I don’t think I need to say anything aboutJennifer Love Hewitt, other than I just want to mention that she was also in the teen romcom, Can’t Hardly Wait around the same time, which is also worth a look.

Obviously the title is a reference to Trojan Condoms, but there is also the aspect of the series of adventures that Brad has to make his way though to get back to the Brooke. There was a spate of teen films at the time that were based on classic literature. Ten Things I Hate about You and Clueless both have roots in the classics.

It’s a fun, fast, and little teen comedy of the variety that they don’t seem to have an interest in making any longer. It's also worth noting that the director George Huang was also the director of Swimming with Sharks , a cracked black comedy about Hollywood.

Friday, April 15, 2011

FFB: The Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film By Michael Weldon

Just as Black Sabbath’s early albums were a blue print for heavy metal to come, so was the Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film the blue print for cult Film Encyclopedia’s and guides to come. The books was an outgrowth of the psychotronic magazine, which started out as a newsletter before morphing into a zine, and then magazine. It was originally a guide for the kind of low rent junk that would show up on the late late late show, but as the VCR made it’s in roads, and more and more films became available to watch when ever you wanted, Psychotronic was thee place for those looking for something more than; recent hits, classics, or award winners.

I can’t say that it’s the first curated video guide, but it was the first successful one that I can recall. It’s success lies in its depth and range. And the simple idea that the films it covered were worth pointing the cult movie fan towards or a way from. While your Leonard Maltin or Roger Ebert covered as much as they could, Psychotronic focused in on the forgotten, the cheap, the z-grade, the cult and the just plain weird films, it was a place where you could read about 60s Biker Films, and 50s Monster Movies, that might not get the time of day in the other guides. This was a book for fringe film fans, and for those who would make MST3K a hit a decade later.

Today, it’s a dated guide; published in 1983 it’s missing almost 30 years of films from where we sit in 2011. However it’s merit as a guide and it’s coverage of the films that it includes make it well worth checking out. A Psychotronic Video Guide was published in the 1996, and Psychotronic Magazine continued through out the decade. It’s gone now, but not forgotten. It looked like the Internet was going to kill the need for guide books with its easy access to information about films, filmmakers and even access to films themselves via Hulu, Netflix, and youtube. However in the last year we have seen the publication of both Destroy All Movies and Swish Sensationfilms both of which owe a debt to the one and only Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

26 soundtracks: Wristcutters A Love Story

26 Soundtracks: Wrist cutters: OST

The Film Wrist Cutters was one of my discoveries of last year. Ostensibly it’s the tale of a boy who has lost his girl and kills himself to find her. He ends up in a limbo where he finds himself along side others who have taken their own lives. It’s a drab world where things are low rent, falling apart and there is a black hole beneath the seat of his car that eats anything that happens to get dropped under it.

The music in the film is of note because aside from Gogol Bordello and one Bobby Johnston (a name that freaks me out as I was once deeply smitten with a woman named Reberta “Bobbi” Johnston) each of the artists on the soundtrack ended their lives on one way or another via suicide. The soundtrack features classics by; Joy Division ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’, Screamin Lord Sutch ‘She's Fallin in Love with a Monster Man’ and Del Shannon ‘Cry Myself to Sleep’. The film contained more artists like Joe Meek and Christian Death who do not appear on the soundtrack. Over all I am torn about the disc, on the one hand there are some classic tracks, on the other the fact that so much of the score and the gypsy punk of Gogol Bordello (who I am really not a huge fan of) in place of some of the odd ball tracks of artists who killed themselves weighs it all down. Over all it is worth checking out.

Track List

Miracles - Bobby Johnston

Through the Roof 'N' Underground - Gogol Bordello

Even Worse Place, An - Bobby Johnston

Are You Sorry Now? - Bobby Johnston

Love Will Tear Us Apart - Joy Division

Ex-Girlfriend from an Ex-Life, An - Bobby Johnston

One Good Reason for Living - Bobby Johnston

Occurrence on the Border (Hopping on a Pogo-Gypsy Stick) - Gogol Bordello

Love Song - Mikal Portnoi Lazarev

We're All Immigrants - Bobby Johnston

Cry Myself to Sleep - Del Shannon

Zia and Mikal - Bobby Johnston

Beach, The - Bobby Johnston

Huliganjetta - Gogol Bordello

He Feels So Close - Bobby Johnston

You Remember What It's Like - Bobby Johnston

She's Fallin in Love with a Monster Man - Screaming Lord Sutch

Kneller and the Happy Campers - Bobby Johnston

Parents, Prisoners and the Pic - Bobby Johnston

Gloomy Sunday - Artie Shaw

You Look Exactly the Same - Bobby Johnston

Everything Reminded Me of You - Bobby Johnston

Brennan's Theme - Mushman

People in High Places - Bobby Johnston

Song for You, A - Gram Parsons

Monday, April 4, 2011

26 FIlms: Living in Oblivion Trailer

26 Films: Living in Oblivion

Looking back almost 20 years it’s strange to see how far we have come. Once upon a time there were a lot of up and coming actors and film markers who toiled in the indie film world. Some made it and some didn’t but I can’t imagine that there were many who didn’t leave some part of themselves on the films they made

Living in Oblivion, made in 1994 just on the up tick of indie film, is a simple story that plays with the limitations of indie film making by setting it’s action on the set of a low budget production. Anxiety on the set and Anxiety Dreams fill out the three acts in which the story is told. Nick is a director who is making some kind of film, the exact nature of which we never learn, other than it involves an actress named Nicole as she plays out a scene with her mother, a scene with a man she supposed to be in love with and a scene in which she has a dream. Damien is the character that is opposite her in the middle section, Played by James LaGros (Phantasm II) is your typical womanizing Hollywood type who in the course of the film is tags as a Hostess Twinkie.

I don’t want to get into too much of the specifics of the film, because it is one of those gems of the 90s that really is worth checking out for anyone who recalls the era or has an interest in the wave of indie films from the time. I will just say that I noted that the scene in each of the three sections is scene 6, that it was a kick to see a young; Steve Buscemi, Catherine Keener, Dermot Mulroney, James LeGros, Peter Dinklage and Kevin Corrigan.

I wonder what happened to Danielle von Zerneck (also in one of my fave 80s beach films, Under the Boardwalk, which I am shocked hasn’t popped up in a Millcreek DVD set as of yet)? There is something about her that I find an appealing screen presence. It’s not that she is a It girl, she is attractive, but not supermodel attractive. What I like about her on screen is that she comes off like the girl next-door type, and this seems to be the last film of note that she was in.

Whatever (see I still recall the great slang of 90s youth), it’s a solid indie that understands the world in which it was created, and explores the magic of film as well as the hell making film. It’s a film that is well worth checking out for anyone that recalls the era or is interested in a view of indie film making of that time.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

March 2011 Monthly reads

Books March 2011

Vampire A Go-Go by Victor Gischler

Gischler takes the reader on a fun romp through Prague with a Vampire looking for; well I don’t want to spoil it. Allen Cabbot is sent off with a professor to assist in researching a bogus article on Kafka. He quickly get’s swept up in the search for some secret hidden somewhere in the city. On the journey joined by witches, shape shifters and battle priests trying to unravel the mystery of what everyone seems to be looking for. There are some great comic moments, and Gischler is a master at reminding the reader of the importance of Coffee to the modern action hero. Fun and recommended, I am looking forward to cracking open my copy of The Deputy.

Stark House Press novel of the Month: Like Mink Like Murder by Harry Whittington

A fast tough noir that is part David Goodis part Richard Stark. Sam Baynard has been out of the stir for close to a year. He’s got a square job and a good girl, only she and her family don’t know about his past. He’s trying to leave that past behind, only someone won’t let him be. First it’s the girl, and then her master, and after telling his girl Lois and her father about his past everything is set in motion. Throw a cop who can’t believe that he’s gone straight, a black mail and you have a nice short, direct tough piece of noir. There is nothing groundbreaking about the story, but it’s told with a strength and knowledge that is atypical. I especially liked the way in which Sam was able to see the world in terms between the saints and sinners, and the deep pain he feels at having been thrown out of the paradise of squaresville. Stark House has another volume of Whittington’s work slated for release, and I will be picking up a copy. Like Mink, Like Murder is highly recommend, it’s a great entry point into the work of Harry Whittington

Lawrence Block book of the Month:

Sins of the Father

The first Matthew Scudder book.

Scudder is hired to find the back-story on the murder of a semi-MIA daughter who is found apparently slashed to death in her apartment by the man she’s been living with. It’s a great start to the Scudder series, as the darkness of humanity that Scudder faces time and time again is present, along with the Hypocrisy of humanity.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Friday Forgotten Books:Swedish Sensations films: A clandestine History of Sex, Thrillers and Kicker Cinema by Daniel Ekeroth

It’s not really a forgotten book, as it really only hit this week, but outside of the small circle of film fans I associate with on line, I haven’t seen much press about the book. It’s a over view of exploitation films from Sweden from 1951 to 1993. If you have seen the film Not Quite Hollywood or the more recent Machete Maidens Unleashed which covered the history of Australian and Pilipino exploitation films, this is the Swedish version of those documentaries only in book film.

Honestly I haven’t seen more than one of the film in the book, and have only heard of a couple of others, but I will be sitting down with the book and my Netflix queue soon. The books is a slick volume, filled with reviews, a glossary of Swedish cultural terms and biographies of many of the bigger names in Swedish Exploition cinema. Then there are the stills and posters reproduced in the book.

If Destroy All Movies was the must have film book of last year, then this is the must have film book of this year.

The FFB Round Up can generally be found over at Patti Abbotts blog HERE