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by Bill Gibron

25 Mar 2009

Stephen King has said that he’s often shocked by people’s initial reaction to him in person. Since he creates horrific nightmares of blood curdling and spine chilling terror, tales that traumatize the very marrow in your bones and scar the substance of your soul, fans assume that he is an equally dark, diabolic person. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth, whether or not his imagination holds such demonic thoughts. Making people frightened is merely his job, as it is for writers like Clive Barker, or filmmakers like Wes Craven or Dario Argento. They all suffer from a contextual confusion which suggests what they create is the same as who they are.

Lucio Fulci clearly felt a similar sense of personal misrepresentation. As the man infamous for putting more arterial spray than art on the silver screen, the mind behind such blood-soaked epics as Zombi, The Beyond, and City of the Living Dead was, by 1990, in the twilight of his career. And yet even during these final, inconsistent years, a new fanbase devoted to his guts and grue dynamic were clamoring for more. In the mesmerizing meta-experience, Cat in the Brain (released as Nightmare Concert internationally, and back on DVD from Grindhouse Releasing), the glorious goremeister takes said reputation as a splatter savage and literally turns it upside down and sideways. The results speak volumes for how we watch scary movies, and how we view those who make them. 

While working on his latest film, Fulci finds himself slowly coming unglued. At his usual lunching spot, a suggestion of steak tartar makes him physically ill. Upon returning home, a gardener with a chainsaw causes him concern. Convinced he is losing his mind, he visits Professor Egon Schwarz, a psychiatrist with a knack for hypnosis. As part of the proposed cure, Fulci will let himself be “put under”. Unfortunately, Professor Schwarz is a psychopath who wants to go on his own sinister killing spree. Tricking Fulci into thinking that he himself is committing the crimes, the maniac medico begins murdering hookers with unhinged abandon. All the while, our flustered filmmaker experiences visions from his past films, disgusting, gruesome hallucinations that convince him he’s a monster.

Cat in the Brain is either the laziest excuse for a movie ever made by a true Italian giant, or one of the most unusual and unique films ever crafted by a fading cinematic icon. By utilizing clips from movies he either directed or produced, including The Ghosts of Sodom (1988), Don’t Be Afraid of Aunt Martha (1988), Touch of Death (1988), Bloody Psycho (1989), Escape from Death (1989), Massacre (1998), and Hansel e Gretel (1990), Fulci fashions a formidable tale of personal torment and professional assessment. Convinced he is nothing more than a cinematic circus geek, the filmmaker puts himself in the place of his audience and stands in revulsion over what he sees. To witness a man who makes atrocities for a living play at being equally insulted by their outright repugnance is a bit disconcerting at first. It’s like watching your favorite chef gag on his own cooking.

But Fulci knows that’s how we’ll react, and he keeps driving home the point to make sure it sticks. There are disturbing murders - including a couple involving Leatherface’s favorite power tool - that are simply nauseating in their cruelty. At other instances, we laugh as holdover actor Brett Halsey (he’s featured prominently in the clips) plays lethal lothario, killing various women with a combination of sadism and satire. In fact, the material that’s the least effective here revolves around Professor Schwarz and his wide-eyed, over the top sense of slaughter. When actor David L. Thompson puts on his murder’s mug, we’re not sure if he’s crazy, or just advertising the dentist who polished those sparkling pearly whites. It’s as gratuitous as the Nazi orgy sequence which goes on for far too long.

As a result, it would be easy to consider Cat in the Brain to be self-indulgent, self-centered, and self-aggrandizing. This is Fulci paying tribute to his forgotten legacy, the later period films long after The Beyond, Zombie, and The House by the Cemetery created a firestorm of loyal fans. Indeed, many of the movie reference will be completely foreign to even the most dedicated lover of the Italian icon. Still, there’s no denying the man’s way with special effects. While some of the sequences seem dated by today’s standards (Fulci even rejects an eyeball gag which he professes still fails to look “real” to him), the brutal natural of their visual aggression cannot be denied. Sure, the bodies look like latex and stage blood, but what Fulci does to them is beyond belief.

As part of the new DVD from Grindhouse Releasing, we get a chance to hear Fulci defend himself in a rare and very revealing interview. The man is very open about his career and very candid about his work within the genre (i.e. - would people go to his films if he made comedies, he wonders out loud). There is also a chat with actor Halsey that’s a lot of fun, as well as a look at Fulci’s appearance to the 1996 Fangoria Weekend of Horrors. Just watching him bathe in the warmth of his frenzied fanbase is reason enough to check out this intriguing featurette. Toss in a wealth of additional content, including a few more Q&As, a bunch of stills and poster art, the original theatrical trailer, and a collection of liner notes penned by Antonella Fulci, novelist David Schow, and director Eli Roth, and you’ve got a wonderful digital presentation of a complicated, controversial film.

by Nikki Tranter

25 Mar 2009

We’ve waited—what’s it been? A year or more?—for any kind of confirmation that Spike Jonze’s film adaptation of Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are was anything more than a little boy’s dream. Well, we’re dreaming no more. EW.com, today, posted the film’s official teaser trailer, advertising its release date as 16 October this year.

It’s a little bit Dark Crystal, a wee bit Neverending Story, but it also looks supremely dark (as the story often is), especially towards the end here, with the song building and pumping and the monsters flying through the trees creating all sorts of spooky drama. I don’t think I’ve been as engrossed and excited by a trailer, well, since Dark Crystal and Neverending Story. And I’m completely excited by how real it all looks—I’m no CGI expert but this does not look too heavily computer animated. Another reason it hits that Jim Henson nerve—making the pretend so real it rarely feels like fantasy.

So, 16 October—you think it’s too early to camp out for tickets?

by Christian John Wikane

25 Mar 2009

Felipe Rose might be known to the world as “The Indian” from Village People but to his native Sioux tribe, he is known as “Swift Arrow”. Long a presence in the Native American recording community, Rose has earned a number of NAMMY (Native American Music) Awards for his songs, including “Best Historical Recording” and “Songwriter of the Year”. Recently, Rose returned to the studio to record new material for his Tomahawk Records imprint. “From the East to the West” is among the first completed tracks written and recorded with Rose’s longtime producer/collaborator Frosty Lawson. The spirit of the song, Rose explains, asks the question, “Where are we going?” It is a prelude to the end of the Mayan calendar: 12/21/12. The song features Lawson on piano and Eddie Three Eagles (Rose’s father) on native flute. An established painter, Felipe is also developing an art piece to accompany the song.

 

by Sean Murphy

25 Mar 2009

I’m trying to think of something I don’t love about this.

I’m not having much luck.

Overhearing a conversation between the boy’s mother and his teachers about his love for comics and superheros, Somchai rushed back to the fire station to change into a Spider-Man costume before swinging into action.

“I told him Spider-Man is here to save you. No monster will hurt you now,” Somchai said. “Then I told him to walk slowly toward me. I was very nervous that he might have slipped if he got too excited and ran.”

Somchai, who keeps costume of Spider-Man and a Japanese superhero Ultraman to liven up fire drills at schools, said the teary-eyed boy broke into a smile and started walking into his arms.

With all proper respect to the (late, great) Mikey Dread, I hereby declare Somchai Yoosabai a legit Jumping Master!

Mikey Dread - “The Jumping Master”

by PopMatters Staff

25 Mar 2009

Heavily tipped Passion Pit are releasing their full-length debut Manners on May 26th and they have just posted the first single “The Reeling” over on MySpace. They also have a load of upcoming concert dates beginning at Sasquatch and ending at the Bowery Ballroom in NYC.

Passion Pit
“The Reeling” [Stream]

TOUR DATES
5/23 - George, WA @ Sasquatch! Music Festival
5/24 - Portland, OR @ Wonder Ballroom
5/26 - San Francisco, CA @ Bimbo’s
5/28 - West Hollywood, CA @ Troubadour
5/29 - Los Angeles, CA @ Echoplex
5/30 - Pomona, CA @ The Glass House
6/2 - Dallas, TX @ Granada Theatre
6/3 - Austin, TX @ Emo’s
6/4 - Houston, TX @ Warehouse Live
6/5 - Baton Rouge, LA @ Spanish Moon
6/6 - Atlanta, GA @ The Drunken Unicorn
6/8 - Richmond, VA @ The National
6/9 - Washington, DC @ Black Cat
6/11 - Manchester, TN @ Bonnaroo
6/13 - Covington, KY @ Mad Hatter
6/14 - Chicago IL @ Empty Bottle
6/17 - Buffalo, NY @ Mohawk Place
6/18 - Boston, MA @ Paradise
6/19 - New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom
6/20 - New York, NY @ Bowery Ballroom

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