Posts Tagged Teleport City

Blow-Up

The next in our two-month long spotlight on giallo…

BLOW-UP

On the surface, Blow-Up is a simple enough film about a fashion photographer popular among London’s hip Soho crowd. David Hemmings stars as the photographer, Thomas. Though successful, his life is directionless and shallow. Similar people, artists who seem to have no meaning or desire for meaning in what they do, surround him. When he’s not earning a living shooting waifs for fashion spreads, he wanders the streets of London in search of art with some sort of meaning. He never finds it, or really, seems to look particularly hard. While wandering through a park snapping candid shots of people, he accidentally photographs a murder. He doesn’t realize this until later, when a frantic woman (Vanessa Redgrave) shows up demanding he turn the film over. This is the plot that serves as the basic description for the film, but anyone who goes in expecting a thriller is going to be either pleasantly surprised or severely disappointed.


Keith Allison is the chief bacchanologist at MEZZANOTTE.

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Blood & Black Lace

Revised and revived on Mezzanotte for the two-month long giallo spotlight:

BLOOD & BLACK LACE

When it came time for Mario Bava to turn in his version of a Hitchcock movie, he picked up on that underlying current of malicious giddiness and ratcheted it up. In Blood and Black Lace, Bava is a peasant let loose to demolish a nobleman’s home during the Russian Revolution. There is unbridled celebration in the carnage, but there’s also unsettling tragedy. Bava employs a subtle absurdity, taking delight not just in demolishing the vacant aristocrats in his cast of characters but also in wreaking havoc with the language of cinema and expectations of what was, then and now, acceptable. Blood and Black Lace gave giallo the element that made it so much different from the early whodunits from which it evolved: the snarl.


Keith Allison is the chief bacchanologist at MEZZANOTTE.

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Out with the Old

There’s a new wind blowing, and it smells exactly like the stale old wind. As Teleport City counts down to its 20th anniversary (good gravy, Charlie Brown), it’s become a little burdensome and full of writing I did in my 20s and am not entirely excited about. So in the service of staying in the game as Teleport City shifts into archival mode (it will remain online), a new site is being launched that will take its place and do mostly the same thing, though with a little more structure. The site, called MEZZANOTTE, is based around themes that run for two months (all of which will be compiled into an ebook/print book at the end of the year). For our inaugural theme, which officially launches in February, we’re tackling giallo movies and soundtracks.

The new site doesn’t officially launch until Feb. 1, but you can get a sneak peek now, since the B-Masters has been Teleport City’s home since that fateful day a madman named Dr. Freex said to the council, “What about Teleport City?” And where better to start an exploration of giallo than with the film most often referred to as “the first”?

THE GIRL WHO KNEW TOO MUCH (1963)

Judging Mario Bava’s The Girl Who Knew Too Much from its first scene, it would be reasonable to assume one was watching a Fellini movie, or at least a reasonable imitation of Fellini. The opening shot of a TWA plane in flight toward Rome, the bustling capital of high style, suggests the dawn of the age of the jet set, as does the introduction of the film’s main character, stylish but somewhat naive American Nora Davis (Leticia Román, in Russ Meyer’s version of Fanny Hill as well as the Elvis film G.I. Blues) who is being pestered by her Lothario seat-mate (while she is trying to read a giallo novel, no less).

You can read the soundtrack reviews here.


Keith Allison is the chief bacchanologist at MEZZANOTTE.

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Psychic Kids & Sinnin’ Socialites

Teleport City remains in a state of suspended animation, but I’m managing to squeeze out articles elsewhere that might be of interest.

First, an article actually on Teleport City: Holiday Entertainment Extravaganza is a summary of some of our Christmas traditions, which includes episodes of The Avengers, Man from UNCLE, and the BBC’s Ghosts for Christmas specials, as well as music and drinks.


On the Cultural Gutter, my examination of science fiction in folk horror continues with These Lonely, Haunted Places, a look at the controversial British TV movie Penda’s Fen; and concludes with Into the Woods, a reflection on growing up in an American version of a folk horror location as well as a look at three things I think form a foundation for American science fiction folk horror (Phantasm, Halloween III: Season of the Witch, and Stranger Things).


While I normally don’t tout my booze writing on Alcohol Professor here, a few of the more recent ones tie directly into Teleport City material (or at least obsessions). Martini and Myth is a four-parter about the origins of the Martini, it’s many variations, and how James Bond came to prefer them shaken and made with vodka. Spies at the Savoy, similarly, is a history of London’s historic American Bar at the Savoy Hotel, the cocktails invented there, and the role it played in World War II. Night of Booooozy Tales was my Halloween article, pairing cocktails/liquors with horror authors (Bram Stoker, Mary Shelley, Lafcadio Hearn, Margery Lawrence, M.R. James, and Edgar Allan Poe) and one of their famous books or stories. And most recently, Christmas with Nick and Nora is a guide to cocktails you can make over the holidays to make sure your Christmas is a booze soaked as The Thin Man movies.

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Keith Allison is the chief bacchanologist at MEZZANOTTE.

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Deep End (1970)

It’s election day in America, so here’s a British film from a Polish director about sexual and ideological disillusionment.

DEEP END

deep-end2There’s a song by Peggy Lee called “Is That All There Is,” in which she wearily reflects on the mundane reality of most of the emotions and events humans consider milestones. Tragedy, love, loss, entertainment, and ultimately death. In every case, upon enduring and coming out the other side, she shrugs and simply wonders, “Is that all there is?” Her realization, the idea that the most important events of our lives often turn out rather mundane when you step back and think about it, would make a perfect theme song for Deep End, a film in which the promise of cultural and personal revolution turns out to deliver a rather drab reality.


Keith Allison is the chief bacchanologist at MEZZANOTTE.

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Taiwan rips off a Thai rip-off of a Japanese Ultraman rip-off

MARS MEN
feat-marsmen“One thing noteworthy about Giant and Jumbo A, as it relates to Sompote Sands’ larger body of work, is that, because it relies so much on recycled footage, it provides little room for Sands to express the perversity that would later become a marker of his work. As such, it may be one of the very few films Sands made that is actually family friendly, free as it is of gratuitous nudity, violence against children, and graphic scenes of animals shitting on people. It is also worth noting, however, that scenes from Giant and Jumbo A later made their way into Sands’ film Magic Lizard, which contains all of those things.”


Keith Allison is the chief bacchanologist at MEZZANOTTE.

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Black Leather, Black Leather, Kill Kill Kill

I’m moonlighting over on the Cultural Gutter, writing about Oliver Reed, folk horror, and atomic annihilation in a quasi-follow-up to the article about Quatermass.

hqdefaultFOLK HORROR FOR THE ATOMIC AGE

These Are the Damned is a curious film that effectively pulls off the difficult stunt of starting off as one type of story but ending up a very different type. As one nears the end of These Are the Damned, one wonders how the hell it ended up where it did — but upon examining the progress of the film, it makes sense. It is equal parts crime melodrama, science fiction, and “atomic age” folk horror within the realm of pioneered by Quatermass 2. There is the remote setting, here the seaside resort town of Weymouth that despite its tourist trade still feels isolated. There’s the naive outsider in the form of American wanderer Simon Wells. There’s suspicious locals, headed up by juvenile delinquent Joan and her over-protective brother and gang leader King (Oliver Reed, who probably counts as an ancient and primeval force of nature).


Keith Allison is the chief bacchanologist at MEZZANOTTE.

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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.


Keith Allison is the chief bacchanologist at MEZZANOTTE.

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When Quatermass Met Robert Lippert

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OK, so we’re a little behind schedule, but I’ll try to make up for it by rambling on about three films, with a special guest appearance by Peter Cushing…

FIGHTING THE UNKNOWN: ROCKETSHIP X-M & QUATERMASS

quatermassThe Quatermass Experiment was broadcast in six half-hour episodes during July and August of 1953. Set in the very near future, It revolves around, well, an experiment being conducted by a scientist named Bernard Quatermass. Played by actor and former Royal Air Force squadron leader Reginald Tate, Professor Quatermass is an odd balancing act between compassionate and amoral in his pursuit of scientific discovery. Or rather, he is more than willing to accept that risks (including death) are involved if one wants to achieve scientific greatness. His current experiment, and the one that will launch the serial’s story, involves the development of a rocket capable of space exploration. As the series begins, Quatermass and his team are in a quandary after their most recent manned space flight vanishes without a trace, only to turn up later when it crashes into a farmer’s field. Rushing to the site, Quatermass is baffled to discover that of the three astronauts launched into orbit, only one is still in the ship. no trace can be found of the other two, no clue to their fate.

 


Keith Allison is the chief bacchanologist at MEZZANOTTE.

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Attack of the Fur Coats

REVOLVER

revolver4Oliver Reed is a cop, Fabio Testi is a criminal, and between the two of them, the winter coat game is through the roof in one of the best and bleakest entries in the Eurocrime genre. In between fur coats and shoot outs and Oliver Reed seething with anger, director Sergio Sollima also packs in a political message that boils down to, “Basically, we’re all hopelessly screwed.”


Keith Allison is the chief bacchanologist at MEZZANOTTE.

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