Posts Tagged Teleport City

It’s Essential You Have Thunderball Fists

THE SUPER INFRA-MAN

inframanThe greatest compliment you could pay an exploitation film is to say it looks like they designed the poster first and then recreated it on screen. This formulation describes Inframan perfectly. Every one of its scenes could be bullet-pointed with the word “SEE!” in front of it (“SEE! Hong Kong engulfed in flames! SEE! The evil sorceress with an army of kung fu monsters!”) It is, in many ways, a perfect film, in that it is resoundingly successful in achieving what it sets out to do—which is transport its audience into a hyperbolic comic book world and entertain them beyond their wildest dreams. Its production values are high enough that it never seems to be striving beyond its means–its art direction, set and costume design all combining to create a seamless alternate reality. As such, it never once betrays its commitment to being a nonstop celebration of color, speed, style, violence and the joyous suspension of disbelief. In short, it is cinematic escapism in its absolute purest form.

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Keith Allison is the chief Bacchanologist at Teleport City.

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31 Days of Horror

Every October, I do the 31 Days of Horror/Halloween with the intention of chronicling my journey. And every year I never get around to it. But this year…THIS YEAR…things will be different!

31 DAYS OF HORROR 2015, PT. 1
babadook2“This year’s orgy of entertainment included a lot more recent horror films than I normally watch, but I figured it was time to return tot he genre I loved so much but felt exiled from by all the found footage and torture porn films. Turns out this year I went heavy on “lad meets monster girl” and “grief of a parent”. We also got in a lot of short stories, mostly by Robert E. Howard. And then I went to Ireland.”

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Keith Allison is the chief Bacchanologist at Teleport City.

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Cat Demon Blues

We’re celebrating Halloween early on TC.

KURONEKO

kuroKuroneko is a film that feels older than it is. Shot in 1968, five years after Shindo’s more famous horror movie Onibaba, Kuroneko hearkens back to the more humanistic period pieces and sword-fighting films of the 1950s. Kuroneko is also one of my favorite films. And not just because it has cat demon ladies in it. Though, really, cat demon ladies should be an enormous draw for anyone. Cat demon ladies and ghost cats have been around long before Ju-On / The Grudge or even before Utagawa Kuniyoshi illustrated a sweet party of a lady, two cats dancing with handkerchiefs on their heads and a giant cat monster interrupted by some guy in 1835.

 

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Keith Allison is the chief Bacchanologist at Teleport City.

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The Golden Age of Egyptian Cinema

WELCOME TO CAIROWOOD

afrita04“Examples of Egyptian filmmaking date back to the beginning of the 20th century, with Cairo becoming a hub of commercial filmmaking in the Arab world with the introduction of sound. It was there that the country’s first “Hollywood-style” film studio, the well-funded Studio Msr (a project of wealthy financier Talaat Harb) was established in 1936. From that point until the mid-60s, when the film industry was nationalized by President Nasser, a vibrant commercial aesthetic prevailed, with a pantheon of glamorous stars churning out genre entertainments calculated for mass appeal. It was a time during which Egypt turned out a staggering majority of the Middle East’s Arab language films—nearly a hundred a year—and did so with a level of technical sophistication easily on par with that of any Western film industry.”

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Keith Allison is the chief Bacchanologist at Teleport City.

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Madness at the Sanatorium

THE HOURGLASS SANATORIUM

hs1“A gloriously perverse carnival air permeates The Hourglass Sanatorium, the sort of atmosphere that would be similarly at home in an Alejandro Jodorowsky or Fellini film. Bent figures in the threadbare finery of yesteryear — tattered cloaks, rumpled suits, crooked top hats — rub elbows with topless strippers amid the ruined relics of bygone splendor and in an atmosphere not of the timid and tempted soul seeking sin, being beckoned into the shadows by the luring finger or the sideshow barker’s promise of forbidden fruit; but instead of the brothel, the sideshow, the theater after hours, when those who labor to create our fantasies and illusions gather together to relax, to blow off steam, to end a long night’s work by unwinding in the company of one’s peers who, while not always pleasant, at least exist in the same frame of reference.”

 

And as a bonus, in case you are so inclined to read it, I moonlight as the Science Fiction Guy on a site called The Cultural Gutter and recently wrote about the first time I saw Rocky Horror Picture Show.

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO SATURDAY NIGHT?

featrhps“Our intention, besides parading around and making the scene, was to see The Rocky Horror Picture Show. I’d been preparing for this trip for days. Laying the groundwork that would allay any potential parental suspicion. Picking out the appropriate outfit. With very little in the way of codified punk rock to guide me, I had my own interpretation of what was appropriate attire for such a sojourn, whichwas a t shirt I’d sliced open in the back and stitched back up using old shoelaces. I’d then written “Joy Division” on the front in bright neon pink glitter puffy paint pen, because I thought that was a clever subversion of the gloomy melancholy one expects. I thought about fashioning some manner of Dracula cape, but it never came together. Finished off with a pair of ripped up jeans and a lot of Dep hair goo. Lookin’ cool. Or something.”

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Keith Allison is the chief Bacchanologist at Teleport City.

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A Good Night’s Sleep

VALERIE AND HER WEEK OF WONDERS

valDespite intense social and political messages, Valerie and Her Week of Wonders is not a grim, oppressive movie. It is not about defeat, but triumph. The film’s final scene, in which nearly every version of every character parades through the village streets and Valerie finally gets some rest, is in a way a premonition of the jubilant Velvet Revolution that would remove the Soviet yoke once and for all some nineteen years later. It is a testament to the determination of the Czech people to be true to their own character no matter the attempts to force upon them some external system of behavior fundamentally at odds with their own — a character perhaps best summarized by how all of this political symbolism passed by resurgent Soviet dominance without being caught. Overarching it all is Valerie‘s ability to remain steadfastly optimistic, hopeful, and curious despite all the attempts to control her, subjugate her, or own her. It is the story of whimsy’s triumph over the grim, of liberation’s victory over oppression.

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Keith Allison is the chief Bacchanologist at Teleport City.

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Ghosts and Gangsters

I’m running behind on my Roundtable contribution, but in the meantime, here’s what’s been happening lately on Teleport City…

CHINESE GHOST STORY

feat14Chinese Ghost Story is one of the first Hong Kong films I watched, and certainly one that got me interested in the incredibly vibrant and imaginative cinema of that small island nation. I knew, at the time, basically nothing about Hong Kong or the Hong Kong film industry, but a tape containing Project A, Once Upon a Time in China, the final shoot-out from A Better Tomorrow 2, and Chinese Ghost Story launched me into a crash course on both the films and the history of what is now the former British colony of Hong Kong. Throughout the earl 1990s, I devoured Hong Kong cinema with a voracious appetite, often to the exclusion of just about any other type of cinema.

GANGS OF WASSEYPUR
gowWhen writers tag Gangs of Wasseypur as the next big Bollywood cross-over hit, they seem to be missing the point. First, Gangs of Wasseypurwasn’t a hit in India. It made a profit purely because the budget was tiny (US$3 million; in contrast, the budget for slick, shiny Bollywood action blockbuster Dhoom 3 was US$25 million, at least $10 million of which went to buying derbies for Aamir Khan’s Sahir), but it wasn’t loved by audiences, who — perhaps by design — found it too dark, too depressing, too violent, and too willing to show filth and misery instead of dazzling them with aspirational scenes of cleanliness and wealth. But more than that, Gangs of Wasseypur isn’t a potential Bollywood cross-over hit because it isn’t a Bollywood film. If anything, it is the antithesis of a Bollywood movie.
ASAMBHAV
feat1It’s been said that in an effort to appeal to as massive a population as possible, the average Hindi film tries to cram every film genre into a single movie. Asambhav is the rare entry that maintains a relatively narrow thematic focus — this is an action film, stripped of the romantic comedy and estranged mother that appear in almost every other film, be they action or horror or whatever — but it makes up for its lack of schizophrenic genre-hopping by trying to cram every single editing and camera trick from the last fifteen years into one film, and often into one scene, and occasionally into a single shot.
OH WHAT A LOVELY WAR
oh-what-a-lovely-warAttenborough’s film differed from Littlewood’s play in a number of notable ways — so much so that the playwright considered the film a complete ruin of her work. Firstly, it used historically accurate costumes and military uniforms. Secondly, where the play had been an absurdist comedy played out on top of harrowing statistics and battlefield photographs, the movie realistically depicted things like trench warfare and poison gas. And there is death, lots and lots of death. In the play, no one died. Littlefield wanted people to laugh at the pointlessness of war, wanted to highlight that head-shaking absurdity rather than explicitly depicting it. She was horrified when she saw that the cinematic adaptation of her play was positively caked in the filth and blood of the First World War.
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Keith Allison is the chief Bacchanologist at Teleport City.

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Little Devils and Deadly Dames

Hooray, it’s update time! A couple articles salvaged from the past and spruced up for 2009 or so.

DEADLIER THAN THE MALE
featConsider that Deadlier that the Male opens with legendary Elke Sommer skydiving from a jet seconds before she blows it up, plunging into the water to be picked up by another European beauty, Sylvia Koscina (from the first two Hercules films, among others), in a skimpy bikini. Seconds later, both bikini-clad women emerge from the ocean and find a man lounging on his seaside patio, whom they promptly impale with a shot from a spear gun. Now that is how you get the viewer’s attention.
THE DEVIL RIDES OUT
droutde Richleau spirits Simon away. It’s difficult to say whether or not he rescues or kidnaps the young man, since we’re unsure whether or not Simon was dabbling in the black arts of his own free will or because he was under the spell of local occult bigwig Mocata (Charles Gray, probably most recognizable as the narrator from The Rocky Horror Picture Show). Eventually, the film leans toward “under the spell,” but the whole thing seems very fuzzy, which allows the viewer to interpret the movie either as a straightforward “good versus evil” tale or a more subversive look at the subjugation of free will and intellectual curiosity at the hands of the ruling elite.
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Keith Allison is the chief Bacchanologist at Teleport City.

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The Madness of Wild Boys Howling on the Streets

Got a lot to catch up on, but here’s the latest pile of Teleport City articles.

These three have been salvaged and revised from the murky past:

STREETS OF FIRE
street2“The dialog is stilted and phony, but in a weird way that is totally believable. It’s fifties tough guy slang but with the rapid-fire panache of the eighties, or maybe of a forties film noir. So really, not so much how tough guys talked as it is how we think tough guys talked, playing once again to the concept of American mythology. Hill’s rock ‘n’ roll tough guys stand as tall and symbolic as the cowboys of a John ford western. Every line is a carefully crafted homage to the concept of rock ‘n’ roll rebel. It’s corny in spots, but never unintentionally so — and even though that stilted corniness may be intentional, it’s never ironic or overly wink-wink the way modern films are.”
HOWLING II: YOUR SISTER IS A WEREWOLF
featAnd yet, as undeniably bad as it all is, there I am, every time it’s on television. And what makes it worse is that I own the DVD! I own the goddamn DVD and still I watch it whenever it’s on television. Let this be a lesson to anyone who ever takes my advice on anything; if you ever find yourself faced with a difficult decision and ask yourself, “What would Keith from Teleport City do?” then your immediate next thought should be, “Watch Howling II: Your Sister is a Werewolf.”
THEY WERE 11
theywere11_1There is really only one action scene in the entire movie, and that’s a pie fight. Yet despite the dearth of robots on roller skates shooting cannons at each other, They Were 11 is an engaging, tense, and engrossing piece of science fiction that makes you feel like it’s action-packed even though it isn’t. The basic premise was derived from an old Japanese story about a group of children at a playground who suddenly realize that there is one more child there than there should be. There’s a good chance the extra kid, whichever one he may be, is some sort of monster.
And these two were written for The Cultural Gutter, a site for which I am writing on a monthly basis:
WHERE IS ALL YOU ANGELS
wb14-300x225Mulcahy’s big idea was to make a film version of Wild Boys, which seems rather a challenging project. Disregarding the self-indulgent structure and juvenile crudity of the book, Wild Boys is still a pulp adventure about a collapsing society that gives rise to gangs of violent, feral homosexual boys who spend all their time killing people, screwing each other, and masturbating. Not MPAA-friendly storytelling.
YOU CAN’T MAKE A MASTERPIECE WITHOUT MADNESS
gallery2-500x369Jodorowsky’s vision of the film was vast, an epic on a scale science fiction film had never attempted. A psychedelic mind warp that Jodorowsky himself said he wanted to be like taking LSD without taking LSD. He wanted his film to be nothing short of a cultural uprising, a trumpet for the legions of youth who had risen up against the establishment in the 1960s. He wanted Dune — in story, in philosophy, in daringness, in design — to be a revolution. Pavich’s documentary tells the story of how this movie never actually got made.
And finally, I am writing a book. It’s about booze and James Bond, and this is a sneak peek at the introduction, which poorly explains my concept.
BOND VIVANT: INTRODUCTION
james-bondWhen retired British Naval Intelligence commander Ian Fleming retired to his modest villa, Goldeneye (“Goldeneye, nose and throat” quipped his neighbor, the entertainer Noel Coward, who was unimpressed with Fleming’s abode) in Jamaica to write his first novel, he didn’t expect it to be much more to society at large than a passing trifle. It was an attempt to make good on a desire that boiled up in him during his wartime service, perhaps as a way to try and one-up his popular brother, Peter, who was a well-known much beloved adventurer, war hero, and writer.
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Keith Allison is the chief Bacchanologist at Teleport City.

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Deadly Art of Survival

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Teleport City’s roundtable contribution is in effect:

das6DEADLY ART OF SURVIVAL

Amid the ruin and confusion of 1970s New York, a group of (primarily white) young artists, freaks, punks, and weirdos decided they were going to become movie makers, the cinematic branch of No Wave, new wave’s slightly stranger, more chaotic sibling. At the same time, uptown and in The Bronx, a group of (primarily black and Hispanic) young artists, freaks, dancers, and weirdos were pioneering a creative lifestyle that would become known as Hip Hop. The two scenes intersected frequently, and when no wave film maker Charlie Ahearn was stopped by a group of black kungfu students who wanted to know what he was doing with a movie camera, DEADLY ART OF SURVIVAL was born. It’s more interesting as a historic piece than an actual film, a fascinating (to me) cocktail of punk, New York, black culture, martial arts and the role kungfu films played in black urban life, and a celebration of a dude who was being paid in pizza but was still willing to get kungfu kicked into the 1978 East River.

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Keith Allison is the chief Bacchanologist at Teleport City.

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