Friday, April 20, 2012

NOSFERATU scary soundscape from John Zorn and Bill Laswell!

From today's Downtown Music Gallery weekly email:
(Tzadik 7397; USA)  Created for a modern Polish stage production of 
Bram Stoker's classic vampire tale, Zorn has created a music filled 
with nostalgia, tenderness, violent power and a great sense of 
mystery. Featuring the dark ambient bass tones of Bill Laswell, the 
sensitive keyboards of Rob Burger, Kevin Norton on drums, vibes and 
percussion and Zorn on sax, this is a moody and menacing program of 
music for late night listening. Romantic ballads, ambient soundscapes 
and hardcore intensity! Special Packaging. RELEASED ON THE 100TH 
Pick it up in human form @ New York City's incredible Downtown Music Gallery (in Chinatown) or order it

This should be killer!
After listening:  I've given the CD a few listenings now and can highly recommend it!  If you're looking for a full-throttle Painkiller type sonic assault, you will be disappointed.  Instead, this is a moody, often times romantically melodic score, once or twice, punctuated with brutal bursts and haunting dub grooves.   Zorn carefully composed this piece for a Polish stage play and the dominant instrumentation is piano and vibes with Laswell's semi-transparent fretless basslines and harmonics and Zorn's stuttering alto sax squeals making regular intrusions into the mix.  Overall, excellent!

Jonathan Frid (1924-2012) R.I.P.

Although I was never a DARK SHADOWS fan, I did like the first film and saw it first run as a kid.  I remember the theater full of screaming kids and it was my first time really seeing gore and old age make up effects (courtesy of the great Dick Smith) that really stood out as 'realistic' and effective.  After the movie, I reluctantly gave the TV show another shot but I just couldn't stick with it.  To me, it was still too much like the soaps that my mom watched.  Ironically, Frid died after making a cameo in the new Tim Burton redux.  On second thought, maybe it's better he never sees it? (NOTE: I met Frid at a mid-80s Fangoria convention in mid-town Manhattan where he signed free autographs.  Note how he mispelled my name as 'Carol')

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Cusack channels Edgar Allan and Sherlock in THE RAVEN

THE RAVEN (2012- U.S.) D: James McTeigue.  John Cusack is 'Edgar Allan Poe' as 'Sherlock Holmes' in this fast-paced and atmospheric period mystery.  When a series of murders blatantly mimic the most gruesome details of Poe's latest tales, the alcoholic author himself is called in by the Baltimore police, first as a suspect and then, as an expert to ascertain clues and lead the police to the deranged killer.  In between the race against the pendulum, Poe is trying propose to his beloved Emily (Alice Eve) and avoid her disapproving dad (Brendan Gleeson) until things take a turn for the worse and Emily is abducted by the killer and buried alive!  It's a race against the clock to save her before she runs out of oxygen or  the movie's running time.  Cusack brings a lot of energy and surprising depth to an historical literary character who's slamming back booze (his or anybody's) whenever its within arm-shot.  Cusack also seems to channel a bit of Downey's Sherlock Holmes and, oddly enough, some Nicholas Cage as well!  While the film is nicely staged and beautifully shot on sets and locations in Eastern Europe and the performances are all strong, the whole project seems to consciously ride the coat tails of the successful Ritchie/Holmes series with Poe merely substituting for the Baker Street sleuth.  While the pacing doesn't let up, the romantic angle is kept center stage but doesn't emotionally build and resonant as it should.  The actual who-done-it element of the plot is sadly extremely weak, a third-rate imitation Holmes mystery with a not-so interesting or believable villain.  This could have been fixed.  From the director of V FOR VENDETTA and the MATRIX.
Check out Bela Lugosi as a much cooler, fever-pitch maniacal Poe-inspired psycho in the more creative and romantically warped THE RAVEN (1935) directed by Louis Friedlander (aka Lew Landers).  Also co-stars Boris Karloff as a surgically mutilated but sympathetic brute.

Poetic Cosmic-ness From Sun Ra!

I just picked this crazy book up and rocketed through it in about two sittings!  Nutty, profound and very rhythmic this is the first time publication of the avant garde jazz genius' poetry and spoken word madness from editor Bhob Stewart and Norton Records' print division, Kicks Books.  They have also issued Sun Ra's psychedelic mutterings on vinyl LPs!  I'm not a huge poetry fan outside of Edgar Allan Poe but this book will proudly go next to my volume of Victor Buono poetry.

Hard Case reprints rare Robert Silverberg crime novel after 50 years!

I just picked up the newest Hard Case Crime release and just shot through the first 40 pages!  The prolific Silverberg was mostly known for his sci-fi works (although he produced a little bit of everything from non-fiction to porn!) so this is an especially appealing reprint from 1962 (only originally available in a men's magazine)!  Dig the classy new cover art by Michael Koelsch!  So far, the story hooked me from the beginning.  Set in Philadelphia, t's about a mysterious undercover agent infiltrating an elite counterfeit ring told in the tough-guy first person.  It has structural elements of RED HARVEST and a Continental Op-type protagonist pitting two gangster clans against each other.  Gripping and sleazy!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Cult Actor William Finley dies at 71! Best known for De Palma classics.

William Finley has passed away but he leaves behind a slew of memorable performances and characters, most notably as the title character in Brian De Palma's PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE (1974).  He also creeped up SISTERS (1973) and Tobe Hooper's EATEN ALIVE (1977) among many others.  He always stood out when he stepped into a scene and you never knew what to expect from him.

I'll never forget how I met Mr. Finley once, during a Jeremy Irons directed music video shoot in Manhattan in the early 80's at the Limelight, the notorious church-turned-night club.  I was doing some on-set special effects work when a voice from behind me spoke, "What's going on here?"  I turned around and instantly recognized the tall, lanky William Finley (I think he had a briefcase in his hand).  I told him we were shooting a music video and then went into how much I enjoyed his work in numerous De Palma films.  He was nice, shook hands and left moments later.

Check out his NY TIMES obit here:  (Different sources state his age as 71 or 69 at the time of his death.)

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Exclusive, Limited Hammer Horror Soundtrack release on 7" blood red vinyl!

On Saturday 21 April a very special limited edition will feature original soundtrack music from Hammer’s Dracula A.D. 1972 and The Satanic Rites of Dracula. This collectors’ item will only be available through independent record shops as part of Record Store Day, the annual campaign to provide customers at UK and US shops with unique releases. A list of participating shops can be found at the Record Store Day website.
The 7” EP is pressed on red vinyl and strictly limited to 666 numbered copies. Side A features three tracks from Mike Vickers’ score for Dracula A.D. 1972, and Side B features three tracks from John Cacavas’ equally funky score from The Satanic Rites of Dracula. This will be Hammer’s first vinyl record release since 1974, and will not be available on any other format.

The record is released by renowned label Music On Vinyl, who have worked with soundtrack specialists Silva Screen. “We decided to focus on the two Dracula films from the 1970s as these scores were enjoyable blends of traditional horror and funky contemporary sounds,” says Silva Screen’s David Stoner.

David adds that the EP will be highly sought after. “The nature of Record Store Day is that these limited editions are only available on the day and through indie stores signed up to the event. Some copies will be available from but we can only offer them for sale one week after the event and only while stocks last. Once they’re gone, they’re gone!”

Dracula A.D. 1972/The Satanic Rites of Dracula: Original Music from the Classic Hammer Horrors
Catalogue number: MOV 7013
Barcode: 8718469530755

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Big Heat steams up blu-ray!

The more Fritz Lang in HD the better!  One of Lang's best American noirs will make its BD debut as a limited edition release as part of the Twilight Time line.  This is good and bad.  Twilight does excellent work and brings less commercial studio titles to the new format usually with isolated music scores.  On the downside, I sort of hoped that the archival potential of BD discs would be maximized and allow the studios to release multiple movies on a single disc at better prices.  This limited edition $30 SRP release limits the quantity of potential consumers for these type of films.  I think THE BIG HEAT is now the third U.S. Fritz Lang blu-ray.  METROPOLIS and SCARLET STREET have been previously released.  Regardless, this is a 'must-have' for fans of Lang and the film noir style.

Read more!

Friday, April 13, 2012

Hard Case continues to unearth pulp literary treasures and showcase jaw-dropping cover art!

A rare find from James Cain!  Read about it! and
Hard Case is re-defining the current sad state of paperback book cover art and restoring it to its rightful place!  Check out the covers for all their past, present and future releases at:

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Original FRANKENSTEIN manuscript pages in the flesh! First time on display in the U.S.!

Last evening, I unknowingly stumbled upon a limited run exhibit, SHELLEY'S GHOST, at the New York City Public Library focusing on the life and work of poet Percy Shelley and, lo and behold, there is a section devoted to his wife Mary and her monumental work, FRANKENSTEIN (1818/1831)!  On display for the first time in the U.S., from a private collection, were a few original pages in Mary's own handwriting with changes and deletions by Percy's pen as well as some of the earliest book editions!  Amazing, mind blowing stuff!  Never in my life would I have expected to gaze upon any original manuscript pages from FRANKENSTEIN!  The exhibit runs now through June 24th and they stress that photography is forbidden!

For even semi-serious gothic literary fans, you must own THE ORIGINAL FRANKENSTEIN (Vintage) edited by Charles E. Robinson.  This book presents Mary's original draft and includes the revisions by Percy.  Essential!  Oddly, this edition was not even for sale in the library book shop though it matches the draft pages exactly!

Monday, April 2, 2012

GRAND DUEL & KEOMA double feature blu-ray!

From the fine folks at Mill Creek!  $10 SRP!! This is the f#$% way to go.  I'm so not into thirty-forty dollar special editions with rambling fanboy commentaries and worthless 'extras' anymore.