Tuesday, April 25, 2017

LOST GIRLS: THE CINEMA OF JEAN ROLLIN (Indiegogo Campaign Now Live)


The Indiegogo campaign for Spectacular Optical's upcoming book Lost Girls:  The Cinema of Jean Rollin is now live and taking donations.  Head over to the campaign to see samples from the book and read about the exciting 'perks' that are being offered to contributors.  Be sure to donate if you can and please help spread the word via social media and your own sites.  Here is a preview of the book, featuring editor Samm Deighan, that Spectacular Optical have just released.



Sunday, April 23, 2017

Mike Figgis' STORMY MONDAY Special Edition Blu-ray Coming from Arrow!


Among the most welcome reissue announcements this year is that Arrow Films will be releasing Mike Figgis' incredible Stormy Monday as a special edition Blu-ray here in the United States and Britain!  One of the eighties most evocative and original works, Stormy Monday has been in long need of a reappraisal and this new Arrow release looks incredible.  From the press release the disc's contents include:

• High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations 
• Original stereo audio (uncompressed on the Blu-ray Disc) 
• Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing 
• Audio commentary with Mike Figgis, moderated by critic Damon Wise 
• New video appreciation by critic Neil Young, and a “then and now” tour of the film’s Newcastle locations
• Theatrical trailer 
• Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Jacey 

FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Booklet featuring new writing by critic Mark Cunliffe

More information can be found at Arrow's US and UK sites and please follow along at Facebook, Instagram and Twitter as well.

-Jeremy Richey, 2017-

Donate to the Cult Epics Indiegogo Campaign

There are just a few days left to donate to the Cult Epics Indiegogo campaign and there are still a number of great rewards remaining including the upcoming Cult Epics hardcover book and the all new Blu-ray special edition of Death Laid An Egg! Head over to Indiegogo to support Cult Epics and help spread the word at Facebook and Twitter. Thank you!

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

ART DECADES Issue 11 Featuring Ian Preston Cinnamon of aTelecine is Now Available


Issue 11 of ART DECADES is now available on Amazon! Our feature piece is a 26 page spread of unreleased photos by aTelecine founder Ian Preston Cinnamon, who is also responsible for our beautiful cover photo of Belladonna. The issue also contains several tributes to William Peter Blatty, including a moving piece by Bryce WilsonKelley Avery-Richey interviews the hip-hop trio Loyal-TMarcelline Block interviews photographer Miles Ladin and Tara Hanks interviews author Michelle Morgan. Original photospreads are also included along with some additional surprises. Thanks so much to our contributors for their great work and readers for the continued support!

Copies are available at Amazon , Createspace and eBay.

Follow us at Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and Instagram.  

Monday, April 17, 2017

ARE YOU IN THE HOUSE ALONE?: A TV MOVIE COMPENDIUM 1964-1999 edited by Amanda Reyes

The much anticipated new book from Headpress, ARE YOU IN THE HOUSE ALONE?:  A TV MOVIE COMPENDIUM 1964-1999, is now shipping via Amazon and your favorite bookseller of choice.  Two versions of this Amanda Reyes edited guide are available via Headpress as well, the trade paperback and the deluxe hardcover.  




This beautiful book contains a number of original pieces by Made For TV Mayhem's incredible Amanda Reyes as well as contributions from the likes of Kier-La Janisse, Daniel Budnik, Lee Gambin, David Kerekes, Jennifer Wallis and many more.  

I am currently working my way through this informative and valuable book and I highly recommend it.  Also, keep a look out for a new interview with Amanda Reyes in the upcoming summer issue of my own publication, ART DECADES.

Friday, April 14, 2017

A Week Beats A Year: In Tribute To Toshio Matsumoto and FUNERAL PARADE OF ROSES (1969)


We have lost yet another movie-making giant. Toshio Matsumoto, one of the great cinematic rebels and non-conformists, passed away this week at the age of 85. Matsumoto was a great artist and fierce boundary pusher who challenged his viewers as much as he enlightened and entertained them. For my own little tribute, here is a piece I wrote about his absolutely breathtaking 1969 work Funeral Parade Of Roses back in 2013. It's a film unlike any other and Toshio Matsumoto was a filmmaker like no other. 




Thinking of Toshio Matsumoto's 1969 cinematic powerhouse Funeral Parade of Roses...a brick hurled through a window of complacency...a raging kick to the face of traditional narrative cinema...a retelling of Oedipus that transforms that classic legend into something altogether new.
The questions one gets asked after typically viewing a film are mute in regards to Funeral Parade of Roses.  "What's it about?" and "Did you like it?" have no place here and are like asking someone if they had 'fun' at a protest against oppression. 
Product of its time?  YES but in the best way possible.  This has the kind of passion and anger that simply no longer exist in today's cinema.  We've traded soul and intensity for a day at the mall glued to small films on small screens that fit in our pockets. 
The Plot of Funeral Parade of Roses doesn't hold my attention...instead it is the elements that it transcends in every frame that hits me (I beg for its punch time and time again).  Opening shot...blinding white light.  Is that a boy and a girl?  Boy and a boy?  Unclear until it pulls into focus and we are thrown into a labyrinth of confusion that questions gender, sexuality, family, life, death and beyond.
Relations?  Warhol, Morrissey...their deconstructive techniques are apparent.  Rollin's Rape of the Vampire is its bloody sister in arms from a year before.  Brakhage (sure), Deren (of course).  How about Kubrick, who loved Funeral Parade of Roses so much that he paid tribute to it stylistically and spiritually in his A Clockwork Orange a few years later.  Ultimately this is punk rock before the term was coined, exploited and made meaningless.  That brick through the window reflecting the student riots happening in Paris, Japan and all over the free thinking world in 1969. 
The art of deconstruction....destruction of our scripted roles in life, love and death.  It's that final shot of Godard's Weekend with the ominous "End of Cinema" flashing on the screen taken several steps further.  It's a beautiful monster that no modern special effects house could muster.
It's a party film with a wild youthful abandon breaking through every moment...Superbad for the art house as a celebration of questioned gender roles and rampant unhinged sexuality.  And that ending has the kind of visceral impact only perhaps Deodato later stumbled upon. 
It pops with an eye gouging intensity that builds and builds until a wonderful moment when an old man stumbles exhausted onto the screen and thanks everyone for attending.  Thank you and you are very welcome!  A little moment that could have derailed the film completely but this bold and audacious act is like the film itself...a joyous revolution turning a mirror back to the audience.  Toshio Matsumoto stating Lou Reed's "My Week Beats Your Year" in the purest cinematic way imaginable. 

-Jeremy Richey, 2013-


Funeral Parade of Roses remains unreleased on disc in The United States.  Region 2 imports are available. 

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Michael Ballhaus R.I.P



R.I.P to Michael Ballhaus, one of the great cinematographers in film history.  The Berlin born Ballhaus had a remarkable career that saw him lending his incredible talents to filmmakers as far ranging as Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Martin Scorsese, Irwin Winkler, Steve Kloves and Francis Ford Coppola.  One of cinema's great visionaries, he changed the way movies looked and the way we saw them.  He will be greatly missed.

Jeremy Richey, 2017

Dust Off Those Grooves (Chapter 25) The Gregg Geller Supervised Elvis Presley Albums

"Elvis Presley was the person who awakened me to music and records when I was very young, and there had always been all these things I had dreamed of doing if I ever got the chance."-
-Gregg Geller-



Elvis Presley was the most important and successful artist of the 20th century.  He was also the most mismanaged, mismarketed and mishandled.  Perhaps nowhere is this sad fact more grossly apparent than in the immediate years following his untimely passing at the age of 42 in 1977.  As they had done throughout his career his record company RCA failed to know what exactly to do with the recorded legacy of Elvis Presley in the days, months and finally years following his death.  As during his life, RCA and Colonel Tom Parker failed to recognize just how truly important and valuable Presley's musical contributions were and less than a year after his death they were putting out insulting and head-scratching releases like Elvis Sings For Kids and Grownups Too.  Even potentially valuable projects, focusing on unreleased material, like the Our Memories of Elvis collections were soiled by cheap artwork and a general lack of vision.  It's hard to imagine any other major artist being treated quite as shabbily as Elvis Presley was in the years after his death with perhaps the worst offence being 1981's Guitar Man, a countrified 'remix' album that destroyed some of his greatest American Sound Recordings of 1969.  At times it seemed like RCA had nothing but disdain for their top selling artist and these shoddy releases, combined with the release of Albert Goldman's near criminal posthumous assignation biography Elvis, unfairly damaged Elvis Presley's reputation for years to come.  Ironically the surprise savior waiting in the wings was a man whose name was more synonymous with Costello than Presley when he arrived to change the tide in the mid eighties.  


Before he began to salvage the recorded legacy of Elvis Presley with a series of expertly packaged releases timed to coincide with what would have been Elvis' 50th birthday in 1985, Gregg Geller was probably best known as the man who had signed the astonishing other Elvis to Colombia in the late seventies.  Geller had spent most of the seventies with CBS working with a number of popular and influential artists for both Columbia and Epic.  By the early eighties he found himself working at RCA and the confusion regarding what to do with their biggest selling catalog proved to be one of his biggest challenges.  As he would tell an interviewer years after his time with the label:


"My job at RCA was to be the head of A&R, but after hearing me complain about the generally poor quality of the label’s Elvis releases in the years following his death, my boss, Jose Menendez, said to me, in effect: “if you’re so smart, why don’t you do something about it?” So I did."



Geller recognized that Elvis Presley was far from just the guaranteed cash cow that most of the executives at RCA saw him as, and knew there was not only a market for unreleased archival recordings but also a need to put some of his past mishandled releases in proper perspective.   Geller's first step towards reestablishing Presley as the force of sonic nature that he had been was the 1984 six record set A Golden Celebration, a massive collection of mostly unreleased material that would set in motion the more well-known and acclaimed Ernst Jorgenson archival releases of the nineties and beyond.  A Golden Celebration was a solid hit in the days when box sets were viewed as more of a novelty than anything else and the stage was set for a series of startling releases for Elvis' 50th.




Geller's concept of how to rescue Elvis Presley's recorded legacy is so obvious in hindsight that it's almost ridiculous that it took nearly ten years for RCA to capitalize on it.   Geller's plan was a deceptively simple one:  Release a series of 'concept' albums made up of almost entirely of previously released material each designed to introduce a different side of the once and future king to a whole new generation...and to a whole new format, the Compact Disc.  Starting in late 1984 and throughout 1985, Geller would present 4 sides of Elvis Presley to new and established fans:  The ferocious rocker, the raw bluesman, the balladeer and the heartbroken deep soul singer.  These 4 releases would successfully began to shift the conversation back to where it belonged, namely the music and would help lead the way to the legendary Jorgensen releases and finally Elvis 30 #1 Hits.

The first release Rocker landed in late 1984 and focused almost entirely on tracks from 1956, with a couple from '57 thrown in for good searing measure.  Opening with "Jailhouse Rock" and closing with "Hound Dog" the compilation was a perfect introduction to the frenzied recordings that blew apart the fifties and American popular culture in general.  The back to basics album, featuring an iconic photo of Presley channeling Brando in The Wild One, sold much better than RCA expected and most surprisingly landed Elvis in heavy rotation on the exploding MTV via the ready to go "(You're So Square) Baby I Don't Care" clip from Jailhouse Rock.  After nearly a decade of botched releases Rocker was a swift kick in the face to critics and fans who had forgotten the genius of Elvis Presley and it set the stage for the next three releases Geller had in mind.





If Rocker had a fault it was in its perhaps necessary obviousness.  Geller's follow-up collection, focusing on Elvis' greatest love songs, A Valentine Gift For You was the more surprising album and it is in many ways a more rewarding listen.  Expertly mixing some of the most moving performances Presley gave in the fifties and sixties, the pressed on red vinyl A Valentine Gift For You is equal parts haunting and lovely.  While the album is filled with some of the most beloved Elvis hits it is the lesser known tracks like his stunning near six minute Bob Dylan cover "Tomorrow is a Long Time" that would have the biggest impact on fans new to Elvis' remarkably deep back catalog back in 1985.  


If A Valentine Gift For You sounded surprising to many ears in the mid-eighties then its follow-up Reconsider Baby was a downright shocking experience.  One of the great Elvis Presley albums, Reconsider Baby would prove to be the weakest seller of the Geller releases but it remains the most justifiably acclaimed.  Focusing mostly on recordings Elvis made in the sixties, when he was supposedly just recording poor quality soundtrack recordings, Reconsider Baby still packs a major wallop.  From the jaw-dropping opening title track to the smoldering epic unedited closer "Merry Christmas Baby", Reconsider Baby is one of the great albums of the eighties and its relatively obscure status today is downright tragic.  Few albums in Elvis' discography are quite so ideally sequenced and perfectly thought out.  With its eerie cover photo and masterful Peter Guralnick liner notes, Reconsider Baby was exactly the kind of grand slam project that RCA should have been putting out in the years leading up to its release.  It's one of the definitive Elvis Presley albums and had it been the only release Geller supervised in this period it would have been enough.




The final 50th anniversary release of 1985 is fittingly enough Always on My Mind, an exquisite collection focused on some of the most evocative tracks Elvis recorded in the seventies (save for "Don't Cry Daddy" from the sixties).  Pressed on purple vinyl and again expertly chosen and sequenced, the album remains one of the most devastating in Elvis' canon and represents an ideal entryway into his most complex and controversial period of recording music.  If the music Elvis recorded in the seventies was his most autobiographical then Always on My Mind is its most important chapter.  It's a heartbreaking listen focused on isolation, depression, divorce and rage and is as far away from the jump suited caricature that Elvis in the seventies is often portrayed as.  It's the sound of a great artist at his peak and on the edge.

Gregg Geller remains one of the most unheralded figures in the history of Elvis Presley's music.  His work would turn things around at the most pivotal point possible and would help lead the way to the phenomenal archival work that continues to this day through the Follow That Dream label.  We should all be grateful to Geller for actually giving a damn about the legacy of one of our great artists.  Music lovers everywhere owe him a great debt.

Jeremy Richey, 2017

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Dario Argento's Masterpiece THE STENDHAL SYNDROME Restored and Coming to Blu-ray!



Blue Underground has dropped the extremely exciting announcement that they will be re-releasing Dario Argento's stunning 1996 masterwork The Stendhal Syndrome as a special 3 disc deluxe Blu-ray/DVD combo later this year!  The film has been restored from the original camera negative in a new 2k transfer and will feature a number of yet to be announced extras including a brand new interview with its extraordinary star Asia Argento.  Keep an eye on Blue Underground's official page and their Facebook profile for more upcoming details.

JEREMY RICHEY-2017