Friday, 30 March 2012

Witchcraft '70 (1970)

The ultimate of infamous 60's shockumentaries, featuring fake native rituals, set-up occult ceremonies... and even couple of original rites from around the world. Italian director – Luigi Scattini, delivers gibberish footage from Europe, Asia and South America with a lurid voice-over meant to spike up the thrills. This basket of sleazy exploits was produced by Italians and initially titled "Angeli Bianchi, Angeli Neri", but when distibution got handled by Trans American Films ("Hallucination Generation"), it was repackaged as "Witchcraft '70" in USA and "The Satanists" in UK. In both countries it played as a typical exploitation picture, fixed for the youth market by yellow journalism sort of narration and sordid publicity. The topic at the time had all heads up with rising coverage of Manson's Family activity, great popularity of sexploitation movies and the success of "Rosemary's Baby". A right time to cash on satan related nonsense indeed!

Although this material was never praised seriously enough by anyone to become a big classic, much less a reponsible study of the subject, it got through the door of many occult movies collections anyway as a sort of B-class oddity. If you wonder, where's the contemporary lure, there's a rare opportunity to see on the screen such cult individuals as Anton Szandor LaVey or Alex Sanders. However, on the concept level this stuff is so miserable, that laughing might become difficult. Couple of absurd spoken sentences might bend you down a bit, but in general there's not much quirky humour going here. It's a blatant exploitation after all – a marathon of storytelling drivel, which unfortunately doesn't have much of a genuine, ritual footage to cover, instead packed in with so called tourist ceremonies - acted and directed versions of occult, tribal and religious rites, which overemphasize carnal elements and produce "sacred hysteria" going after Western expectations.

Not all of the sequences are fake though, but the real ones like a possession of a woman from south of Italy, who's mounted by spirit of Alberto and is thus able to pass the messages from the other world, are not very funky unfortunately. The same applies to "secretly captured on 8 mm camera" Candomble & native Indonesian ceremonies. The most valuable thing about this inane pile of bullshit seems capturing Alex Sanders and his wiccan coven's activities. This is one of very few video materials featuring this mythical personality, once called "King of the Witches" in England, who founded his own branch of wicca in schism with the original Gardnerian order. He let the crew watch his wiccan marriage ceremony, revealing the temple and his sky-clothed coven. Camera rolls while he's closing the circle with a sword and then kissing the body of The Goddess, but after that turns to shooting all the nice tits around!

But that's what this shockumentary is about (and the whole subgenre in general) – mixing sensational agenda about Satan worshippers popping up like popcorn all around the world with shots of naked cultists... and their beautiful breasts on the first plan. I don't know how successful this stuff was in drive-ins (or on TV), but it's dimy setting, paternal tone and rather slick pitch do not make for much entertainment nowadays. It's true, that they show some nice pieces of ass and from today's perspective nobody cares if they belong to a satanist, wiccan, hoodooist, neopagan or an Amish dropout. Still, narration is a real downslope, an essence of worn out gibberish, but there's an option of turning off the volume, if nothing else comes to mind. You might also try to read a book and turn your eyes when you hear something exceptionally gross, which happens every 15 minutes.

If you're here for LaVey, he comes on the screen by the end of this showcase opening the door of his San Francisco temple and then performing one of these famous pop-satanic rituals in his legendary outfit with flashing red horns on the top. Fascinating indeed! Nevertheless, from a necessary distance „Witchcratft '70” salacious agenda opens up to an interesting, off-screen analysis of the late 60's – creation of modern satanism by Anton Szandor LaVey, rising force of neopagan movement, exemplified by wicca covens in Great Britain and USA, sudden appeal of hybrid possession cults and the exposure of dark underbelly of the 60's counterculture, honked up by the media after Manson's Family gruesome acts. You definitely need to go around with this flick!

Full movie

Thursday, 29 March 2012

D'Wild Wild Weng (1982)

Weng Weng ardent followers definitely figure, that our tiny geezer went further ahead after scoring bigtime with his original classic "For Y'ur Height Only" (1981) diving into much weirder areas! While his cult spysploitation flick was taking over American nests frying the brains of their owners, Weng Weng proceeded with his career and did few more hectic B-movies, which unfortunately didn't make it all through Filipino border. One of these oddities, which luckily got imported and retouched for American public by the same mocking crew – these guys must've had plenty of fun doing the audio, no doubt – was wacky Pinoy western "D'Wild Wild Weng". Produced as usually on a shoestring budget by the same, famous film cook – Eddie Nicart, it dropped Weng Weng as Mr. Weng into bizarre, western setting with another off-beat character, 7 ft tall giant named Gordon (Max Laurel)... and the rest is a real trip, man!

While this superduo heads to Santa Monica and Mr. Weng shows off his kimono – "a very dangerous place", we get to hear from randomly encountered, midget Indian – our heroes find out, that town has just been raided by a merciless bandito named Sebastian, whose band butchered the mayor and his family, raped local women, live stock and then pillaged all that was to be pillaged. However, Mr. Weng digs it as his secret mission is to bring peace and harmony back to this once idyllic land. He's not the type to be messed with (oh no!), capable of killing motherfuckers with all deadly kung fu techniques you've seen in "Enter The Dragon" and being extreme marksman – on the top of that he's the master of art of being totally invisible. Nevertheless, to accomplish his assignment Mr. Weng will have to play it rough. He'll nick banana from the table (sitting in a sack under a bench), fight Sebastian's regiment of black ninjas, escape from the prison hidden under Gordon's frock and protect lady of his heart from being violated and butchered by the brutes.

But before our hot turkeys get down to it, they will sneak into the town and find mayor's deputy – Lupo with his tongue ripped off, being able to make only pathetic (but funny), squeeling noise. Somehow they manage to get what poor lad is jabbering and make the shit boiling. There it goes, man! It's a real ride – no matter what this plot is about – including martial arts combat, heavy machine gun massacre, a passionate romance, war tricks, strategy planning, tall grass chase, doublecrossing and absolutely unforgettable lines like: Keep your cool, sword of the samurai will not be used that way! Mr. Weng is all about latest fashion as well, running around and delivering justice in a mariachi suit and white, ruffled shirt. These scenes are certainly charged with great Mexican music, washing out Ennio Morricone's spaghetti themes. Retarded circus type of acting with frequent slapstick gestures and grimaces sneaking in – that's your kind of fruit, so don't worry about it! It'll put you on a rollercoaster of histerical giggle!

If you still need to ask what it is, I'd say something of Sergio Corbucci's spaghetti western crossed with "Enter The Ninja" and "The Freaks". Whets your appetite? I thought so! Don't hesitate, I'm sure you wanna see a scene with banana. And the ninjas on the desert? That's like a cherry on a vanilla shake. Midget Indians more effective than SAS, Navy Seals and X-Men altogether – head down here! Western town looking like a typical Filipino village with chickens creatively enriching the landscape – you got it now! This distinctive Asian exploitation flavour is unmistakable in "D'Wild Wild Weng" – a feast for the nerds, stoners and exploitation fishermen. Ass-cracking high pitch whistle of all, that is too bad to be true in a low-budget cinema! Eddie Nicart confirms his status as a chaplain of trash by getting it all covered here – he even directed the stunts. If you ever find anything weirder than Weng Weng's exploits, let me know. This guy was Peter Sellers of camp – small in height, but big in style!

Full movie

[The movie can be purchased from Cinema de Bizarre]

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Hell's Belles (1969)

An excellent biker drama with a sentimental touch, which firmly holds onto it's core due to wittily recycled screenplay, borrowing the best from a classic western "Winchester '73" starring Jimmy Stewart. A writer for the movie was James Gordon White, who rewrote the old, but nevertheless very sharp story and changed the original winchester to a motorbike, making "Hell's Belles" one of the strongest players in biker league. On the top, it does have a brilliant psych-biker-soul music by Lex Baxter, who partly took over the job when Davie Allan & The Arrows were dropped from Sidewalk Records after "Wild In The Street" soundtrack failed to sale (which doesn't seem strange as it was completely stripped from the usual fuzz) and it features beautiful Jocelyn Lane, who's acted in few films feigning American accent just to get married finally in 1971 and quit movie business. What can I say? It's definitely one of my favourite drive-in fodders from AIP.

Plot focuses on a biker named Dan (Jeremy Slate), who decides he wants to quit going where the wind blows and settle down instead. Luckily enough he wins $2,000 worth Triumph bike in a sand chase, that would pay his land's mortgage. Bike gets jacked though by a young stud, who doesn't want to get over his failure in the race and strongly desires the prize. However, the same day luck is to leave him, when mocked by a gang of randomly met biker dropouts, led by a ruthless and edgy dude – Tampa (Adam Roarke), he's eventually forced to make a non-negotiable deal and exchange the bike. It's gonna be between Tampa and Dan now... and nobody really wants to throw a towel. Dan wants his baby back, so tails the gang, but unfortunately gets caught in a desperate attempt to lay hands on it.

He gets fixed pretty good at first, but after that he's offered live biker stock, a chick named Cathy (Jocelyn Lane) as a sort of pay from Tampa. Although girl is a sex bomb (oh yes, yes, yes!), she's a nasty pussycat, who'll try everything to cut loose from her new papa. As the pursuit moves ahead, intimate feelings start to bloom between them both, brought up in few cheesy scenes – still very warm accent for a biker movie in my opinion. After the savages burn a local gasoline station and escape to the desert, Dan's luck is up again as he's entering the area known well as his own pocket, which will be used for his end. He's practically the master of the game now and without any mercy will crack down on the ugly bunch with inventive guerilla techniques, raising havoc and undermining morale to clear the ground for his final assault!

This salacious take on a classic western is very good one indeed and Maury Dexter ("Maryjane", "The Young Animals") directs the movie with a certain B-grade brilliance. Shots are precise, natural and highly involving, dialogues filled with hope and beauty (ok, they're soapy, but enjoyable) and acting is one of the best, you'll ever see in AIP movie. In fact, Adam Roarke, who's been sort of Lee Van Cleef of 60's biker movie, gives juicy performance in "Hell's Belles". I'd say he tops his much better recognized role of Buddy from "Hells Angels On Wheels", which is fine but lacks the effort he're strikingly obvious. Jeremy Slate's role is not bad either, he definitely digs this whole biker-cowboy vibe coming through with a mash of old school machismo and romantic depth. Apparently, Jocelyn Lane's acting cannot match any of the leading roles, but her mini-skirt beauty is such a kick here anyway... even when she utters cheap lines like: Bikes are like men. They're all the same, pouting like an angry teenager, she's such a cool babe.

Backdrop is this genre's classic – 80% of the time we get through the desert, visit deserted cabin or ruins, but at least we're doing it listening to some awesome music. Since it's been out of print for over a decade, it's a very rare record now! Worth having in collection though – a fantastic mix of cinematic soul, biker sound fuzz and chilling psych by Lex Baxter is a perfect artifact of the high 60's. It's very different from all that stuff, you usually get in biker movies and it kicks ass! While "Hell's Belles" effortlessly steps over usual exploitation brainstorming, featuring bikers getting around, having love-in, smashing clubs and killing random people, with it's quality story and all-rounded characters, the final scene is a real act of pagan genius. Two men on their bikes, like horses... and a girl. Furious, desperate and loaded with testosterone they will beat the shit out of each other keeping their dicks up no matter what. And it all happens in the desert, where rattlesnakes can kiss you goodnight or moon can sing you a song.

For my money 1969 pretty well wrapped up the biker stuff, exemplified by this shit, "The Hells Angels '69" or "Easy Rider", which kicked up a genre gig to the auteur level. With the 70's going pure baroque and bringing dumber and dumber low-budget productions to the screen, which in the end stopped making any fuckin' sense or were so miserable and repetitive, that failed to tap into the shifting market – now reigned by women-in-prison movies – flicks like "Hell's Belles" were sort of last products of very particular cheap thrills delivering school.

Monday, 26 March 2012

Rockin' at the Red Dog: The Dawn Of Psychedelic Rock (1996)

Attention, all 60's psych crazies! No matter whether you're a greenie San Francisco sound fan, a thorough West Coast scene completist or all obscure psychedelia collector, this film will definitely meet your needs. "Rockin' at the Red Dog: The Dawn Of Psychedelic Rock" is one hell of a documentary, directed and edited by Mary Works and John Nutt – experienced filmmakers, who grabbed an amazing opportunity to link all threads of early psychedelia together and showcased them in a mind-blowing string of extensive interviews, rare footage and on-screen insights – clearing up all daisy-chain connections, which eventually gave birth to San Francisco scene. After all, they had one in a lifetime situation to pull it off by witnessing the reunion of owners, workers and friends of legendary Red Dog Saloon in Virginia City, Nevada after 25 years from it's opening in 1965 – the original underground bunch, who's been nothing less than a missing link to psychedelic culture of the high 60's and whose deep passion marked a real change of the times!

This extended family of individuals was essentially a hot mix of underground entrepreneurs, musicians, drug dealers, hookers, go-go dancers, light/poster artists and all other sorts of countercultural dropouts... so called quality people. As history is being told, in the summer of 1965 three friends (Chan Laughling, Mark Unobsky, Don Works) decided to fork out their pocket money and get a start-up running. That's how Red Dog Saloon was born – a weird, retro-psychedelic venue, which quickly became a direct inspiration and a blueprint for the whole phenomenon of free form dancing events in San Francisco. This smooth transition on the other hand was enabled by a trio of free individuals, who spent the summer in Virginia City tasting psychedelics and having fun with new music and liberating atmosphere... they felt a new smell was definitely in the air. When the summer was gone, they rolled their sails and eventually drifted back to San Francisco, where they started a small collective – Family Dog, which today is considered a historical glue of San Francisco scene. By organizing dances to rock music with bands such as: The Great Society, Big Brother & The Holding Company, Quicksilver Messenger Service, The Grateful Dead, Family Dog quickly established itself as the first truly alternative event agency!

Connection was made initially by Chan Laughlin, who's been scoring drugs in San Francisco for the whole team as they couldn't find acid in Nevada at that time (and probaby many other goodies). This was obviously the same acid, that Stanley Owsley has been manufacturing since March 1965, making Ken Kesey's Acid Tests possible and flushing whole Height Ashbury district as well, which around late 1964 transformed into flourishing area with new rock'n'roll bands, artists and hipsters popping like spring onions. One of these acts was early psychedelic group – The Charlatans, whose manager bumped into Chan around North Beach – a famous Beat Generation district – and proposed his band as a leading act for the Red Dog Saloon. As The Charlatans became regular contributors to Red Dog Saloon ambience, new bands formed around USA and few of them have flown to Virginia City. Among these obscure acts – some recognized only by ardent 60's psych diggers – were such bands as: PH Phactor Jug Band, The Final Solution, StoneGround and early Big Brother & The Holding Company. Although not all of this great music was registered, a heavy fusion of old school country, folk, Southern blues and rock'n'roll played live at the Red Dog Saloon, eventually mutated into what became known as psychedelic rock!

Especially The Charlatans with their vintage, circa 1890 dress code sprang a sense of new style – the fashion creation of "real me"! That was to evolve soon enough into a general hippie look, which flashed with LSD-inspired colours, Native American or Indian rags and circus uniforms (which went down on San Francisco streets like a hurricane, when a local theater has sold out it's costume department). Rolling on the wave of cultural, political and music revolutution, Height Ashbury district by 1967 became a flaming enclave of radical thinking, LSD culture, new forms of rock music, experimental theater, alternative press and full-blown commune living... but as David Getz and Peter Albin (Big Brother & The Holding Company) claim on the screen, this innocence started wearing off with people being overcome by their own self-importance just around when Summer Of Love finished. Before 1968 it was over and by 1969 it went baroque!

As they say, the psychedelic culture of the 60's was a great thing to live in and it gave an unique sense of cosmic identity, but eventually it spiralled downwards... the beginning and the end were divided by not more than 3-4 years, but even this short period mirrored the cyclical nature of the universe in a way, with golden age being the peak (1965-66), silver age carrying the first wind of inevitable downfall (1967) and iron age being the bottom (1968-69). On a personal level, many of Red Dog Saloon workers feel that LSD changed their lives blowing the lid off irreversibly... you weren't able anymore to simply tolerate being stuck in a traffic jam, because you needed to get to work, which you didn't know why you were doing and that apparently nudged a response. The end came down when The Media bought this news, digested it and passed it on as a fad for rebellious youth. As the effect a whole throng of teenagers, criminals and businessmen jumped on the bandwagon washing it out with their lack of commitment and pass the buck ethics. Still, all persons interviewed in this documentary claim they were profoundly transformed by the 60's and many found their way into things they didn't know anything about beforehand. A must-see for 60's researchers and 60's psych collectors, containing never seen before rehearsal footage of The Charlatans and The Final Solution + many rare photos by such a cult figure as Jim Marshall. Absolutely brilliant work!

[This documentary can be purchased from Monterey Media]

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Hallucination Generation (1966)

A rare drugsploitation classic from small, independent shop – Trans American Films. The script veers away from usual West/East Coast setting, proposing Ibiza filled with black-dressed beatniks instead, who are heavily into drugs – LSD, weed, heroin, seconal... anything goes. Young Bill is the center of these titillating exploits hanging around with a gang of freeloaders on his family's tab. A luck dries out though when his auntie flies over from USA and tells him he needs to go on his own straight away. As Bill faces further life in Spain on a shoestring budget, he falls into a deep depression and even starts abusing his Spanish girlfriend. Eventually it comes down to the only solution – getting high and robbing the rich bastards!

An opportunity promptly pops up, when a girlfriend tells him about an older chap in Barcelona, who gets robbed at least once a week and doesn't even need to be held at a gunpoint – a real sucker. That sounds promising, but Bill with his artistic soul and moral dilemmas cannot just go for it. Here, where Eric comes into the game. Being a kind of spiritual godfather of all local beatniks, smuggling and slinging drugs from Morocco and turning everybody on to the tune of "new world is coming, brothers and sisters" rap, he's a perfect man to convince Bill, that it could be safe & clean gig. Eric's persona resembles sort of Timothy Leary and Howard Marks cross – creative in a cheesy way, just try to imagine! He has a girlfriend, who nags him all the time about the cool cats kicking back in their pad, but he doesn't give a shit getting around anyway.

While Eric advises heroin and LSD as a way to expand your consciousness (whou would coin such a gibberish in 1966?), he cannot sell the word to Bill, who basically likes to get high on weed and is afraid to get hooked on hard stuff. But when poor boy eventually breaks down from all the misery, Eric will pour a kool-aid down his throat effectively brainwashing his mind and tuning it to the crime note – he'd like his share after old man is shaved off. Still high on LSD, Bill and his friend get down to it, but the trip goes South and becomes a terrifying ride! What a bummer, man! Although I wouldn't consider this dumb flick by any means essential for 60's exploitation fans, the addicts should try to check it out, even if solely for "believe me, revolution is coming" wacky type of dialogue lines.

"Hallucination Generation" has an interesting pre-hippiesploitation feel as well – the last of retarded ones sort of vibe – cause who's been doing beatnik B-movies at this point? It features occasional 60's garage music and offers some lousy, cheapish visuals, particularly when LSD is kicking Bill's neurons, but on the top it's shot in black & white, which retains some vintage appeal. However, do not expect nothing but a drugsploitation drivel, no cinematic fireworks and definitely no nudity. If you manage to sit back and relax, you'll catch some laughable scenes, but that's it! Who would watch any of those ones seriously anyway? Acting is not that bad and these beautiful beaches or night lights of Barcelona somehow do the job. Edward Mann, who directed the movie, was kind of a minor cult individual for American experimental theater and that's a real news. The framing seems also very peculiar for a B-movie with long, dynamic shots, inevitably picturesque or even romantic if you like.

[The movie can be purchased from Cinema de Bizarre]

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Surf Nazis Must Die (1987)

This highly entertaining chunk of trash lunacy shoves us an apocalyptic story of Surf Nazis – a gang of ruthless surfers, who step up to power when the great earthquake buries Los Angeles under thick pile of rubble and causes general havoc! A script looks kind of "The Golden Breed" meets "The Warriors" with pre-FSOL type of electronica, so if you're tense, keep reading. 80's kids watch out, this is something you might have missed during your salad rental days 25 years ago – a genuine VHS classic, well grasping a fever of the time as far as costumes and fighting sequences are concerned. Easily takes you back to those days, when you were going through a heap of freshly rented 20 kung-fu movies and still didn't know what "Mad Max" was about. Although acting is shit and budget limitations corner director on every step, bending him for very low-budget solutions, "Surf Nazis Must Die" throws you at least handful of absurd and ridiculous scenes.

As law doesn't exist anymore, these thugs are now ready to kill all the competition, till this point blocking them from absolute power over sunny beaches and the surf spots of California. Surf is up and Surf Nazis customize their surboards, mounting nose switchblades to kill other surfers while the waves roll high. Those ones, who get to the shore, will be executed on the beach with brutal krav maga (or hap-ki-do, or ju-jitsu) techniques, strangled or slaughtered with knife.... but hard comers were sending the message before to all these beach brutes and they didn't listen – surf or die, motherfucker! This movie watches like made between surf workshop and the nearest pile of beach rocks – that's Troma, they say! It features all these cheesy dialogue lines as well, like: "Hey, we're the hottest gang on the beach!" and family scenes, but what can you do? I loved it anyway.

After all, when you're 20 minutes through this inane flick, you suddenly start to rediscover what the 80's were about. Yuppie hair cuts, speedboats, Roland synthesizers, cyberpunk and post-apocalyptic B-movies all come back to you in a flash. This movie is soaked in this sauce with particularly interesting soundtrack of John McCallum, which lifts many sloppy scenes – they wouldn't probably make it without this little help at all... and there's the wreckage of the civilization with few fishermen still trying their luck around Santa Monica pier (or wherever it is) and the only remaining pawn shop. When camera rolls over these sunny beaches and palms again and again while surfers jump around with swastikas, you just cannot stop giggling. However droll this movie seems and that includes surfing sequences frequently cutting into the action – they basically turn the story into a surf TV – you just cannot miss on these cheap thrills.

Surf Nazis are not gonna survive long anyway. When during one of their beach frenzies, they kill a poor chap – Leroy, his big, black mama is gonna pick up a gun and eventually clean the mess herself. This makes the picture another absurd take on "Death Wish" storyline and delivers few over the top crumbles. Tough lady has what it takes, she'll toss a bunch of granades and then chase the last living suckers down the beach boulevard, even switching for a speedboat in the end. They say it's hard to make a dark picture under California sun and maybe that's not far from the truth, but these guys weren't really trying and delivered a Z-grade pot boiler instead. Plenty of fun and occasional nudity though, carrying a spirit of classic Corman's formula. I have to admit, there were these flaky minutes, which could have been polished, but the effect will be definitely enjoyed by lame obscenity witnesses.

Saturday, 17 March 2012

Two-Lane Blacktop (1971)

Four people coming from nowhere, drifting, heading nowhere but rich in stories to tell, even if there are no words to describe them as their life is embodied solely in their racing vehicles or their never ending journey. This fiery classic by Monte Hellman has all the ingredients of a great cult movie: brilliant screenplay with extremely weird characters, passion, dark underbelly, fantastic photography and music. It's one of these late 60's & early 70's artifacts, which made to the silver screen only due to the fall of Old Hollywood, using created gap. Financed by Universal, Hellman's film flopped at the time of it's release against high expectations and very favorable press reviews, which dubbed it "the best movie of 1971". A blame in this case has been definitely on the studio executives, who folded the marketing machine promptly after the premiere and then tossed the picture down from big theatres to the drive-in circuit, where it played with exploitation goodies of freshly founded New World Pictures.

Nevertheless, the film eventually found it's public by becoming an obscure night player on American TV. This was fortunate and helped a lot to shelter Hellman's vision in fandom, which slowly has put it up to a cult status. By 2000 it was finally released on DVD after members of The Doors agreed to pass on the royalties to Moonlight Drive, one of many classic songs featured on the soundtrack. Since then "Two-Lane Blacktop" has begun it's second, glorious run, discovered by next generation of movie geeks and die-hard diggers of auteur cinema. Justice has been definitely reclaimed as next to "Easy Rider" and "Vanishing Point", this ravishing road flick is the shit, which shouldn't be missed by any serious cinema fanatic... and it's viewing is highly rewarding, bringing you these uncanny emotions of embracing the acid vision or a dream – both important levels of the epoch's speech. "Two-Lane Blacktop" is indeed an unique piece of creative lunacy.

Monte Hellman was initially another chap, stepping up the ladder of Roger Corman's "shoot today & edit tomorrow" film school in the 60's, which served as a catapult for such personalities as: Francis Ford Coppola, Dennis Hopper, Martin Scorsese or Peter Bogdanovich. He was actually one of this legendary crowd, who glued together "The Terror" (1963) when Corman left it after shooting few nonsense scenes on leftover props from "The Raven" (1962). In 1965 Hellman managed to get $150,000 from Corman to direct two westerns almost simultaneously. They were "The Shooting" and "Ride in the Whirlwind", both starring Jack Nicholson, released in 1968 and considered first "acid westerns" in history – today explained as a bizarre cross of revisionist western and hippiesploitation movies. Although these pictures never made a huge blast leaping high over exploitation pot boilers with their enigmatic plot structure, they are fascinating works, which have lead directly to Hellman's early 70's cult classics like "Two-Lane Blacktop" or "Cockfighter" (1974).

By the time Universal agreed to finance the production of "Two-Lane Blacktop" and forked $850,000, Monte Hellman has been already loking into a firm script by William Corry, but felt it's essence was kind of subpar and should have been reworked to match his ideas. This was assigned to Rudolph Wurlitzer – a fresh writer who just published his experimental novel, Nog (1969) – and Floyd Mutrux, who never got the credit by losing his case in Writer's Guild. Wurlitzer rewrote the screenplay completely, coming up with a copy of a more sophisticated nature, leaving a lot of symbolic space to play around for Hellman. Almost all shots were taken on Route 66, before it was transformed into a transcontinental highway and lost it's mythical allure, and then... the main actors were actual cars: heavily tuned up Chevy '55 and a brand new Pontiac G.T.O. '70 – both machines representing diverse values of car culture.

The film hits as an experimental theatre on the road featuring two hot rodders without a name: The Driver (James Taylor – a cult singer) & The Mechanic (Dennis Wilson – The Beach Boys drummer) going after any fluke in their Chevy '55. They're not really into money when dragging, they're just simply looking for means to make next part of two-lane blacktop... always ahead in their machine, which seems undoubtedly a centre of the world due to Hellman's witty frames, catching it as purely alienating space. Director seems to say with his camera: "That's it, man. There's nothing else" as dialogues are scarce and usually involve running a car or it's technical problems (very nerdy stuff, understandable only for club members). Even when guys meet a young hippie girl – another Summer Of Love dropout – who sneaks into their car to get a lift, they are not destined to end in some place with her. It's just another part of the game.

Action gets raised when they meet Mr. G.T.O. (fantastic role by Warren Oates) - a Pontiac driver, a guy who takes the road challenge and a compulsive liar, who keeps fabricating exploits about his life, passing them to hitchhickers... all for sake of going further down the road as if he'd like someone to cover his lack of purpose. The only moment when he starts to unveil his identity happens during the race, at front of The Driver, who squashes him immediately... as nobody really cares on the road, especially if they're racing for the wheels and the only thing that matters is the moment – very 60's psychedelic, hot rod ZEN message indeed. As they travel across America, the emptiness of their lives becomes strikingly apparent, but it's the only thing left after countercultural dreams went under... a freedom to ride.

This bitterswitness, soaked in post-revolutionary depression is a crucial undercurrent here, making "Two-Lane Blacktop" such a great picture. Even if we desperately try to grasp the meaning, it sneaks away as soon as the characters make another 100 miles. We basically run in the passenger's seat for this whole time just to get, that there are no simple answers, light always comes with a shadow and life will keep carrying on, no matter if you've already moved on or you're still hanging in there... the ending of the movie stands out as one of the greates scenes of American auteur cinema movement being correspondingly bold and confusing.

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Cult Of The Damned (1969)

Another scary example of what could have gone through AIP filter in the late 60's. Originally released as "Angel, Angel, Down We Go" it was written and directed by practically unknown Robert Thom, and produced by unfamous master of trash – "Jungle" Sam Katzman, whose first exploitation picture distributed by AIP was legendary "Riot On Sunset Strip". None of these were ever officialy released on DVD and the reasons needn't to be explained. Before this gruesome flick hit the drive-ins, Katzman proclaimed he finally turned his back on B-movies and wanted to offer something with "depth and meaning" instead. Well, it wasn't exactly an Oscar step, Sam.

Although "Angel, Angel, Down We Go" premiered in one of the most prestigious Hollywood theatres to comply with Katzman's vision of going bigtime, it was yanked off by the distributor just a week later and shelved without any mercy. It re-emerged in 1971 under new title "Cult Of The Damned", which didn't have anything in common with the content, except it was a part of AIP perfect sales pitch, aiming to push the new double feature including Hammer lesbian vampire flick. As I'm not in possession of any sources, explaining later fate of this "masterpiece", it would be quite safe to presume it got shelved againg after dancing around American drive-ins for couple of months, just to be brought to you again by brave bootleg distibutors.

The story is something of an acid trip gone raped by fevered fantasy of a half-witted schizophrenic. As Tara – obese daughter of a filthy rich industrialist meets Bogart – a rock star, who pops her cherry and promptly becomes a spiritual guide, dozing her with halucinogens and effectively brainwashing, her miserable life gets a completely new spin. She decides almost immediately to hang out with her new guru and his buddies 24/7, loafing in a mansion with wacky, psychedelic decor, featuring pictures of Humphrey Bogart, Charles Chaplin and other Hollywood stars. Eventually, she gets turned on the path of "evil yoga", getting superpowers like laying on the ceiling. As she's a skilled pilot (hmmm...), she gets to fly a private Cesna while the band goes sky diving, uttering satanistic affirmations before jumping off the plane.

In the end, "the cultists" have enough of her, thus turn to tormenting Tara's mother (played by Academy Award winner - Jennifer Jones. They mock her porn business past (although she never faked an orgams in a movie) and lack of commitment to her shitty family... hanging out by the pool. Eventually Bogart fucks her, steals her precious jewellery and then offers sky diving session as an incentive to put her back on the track. She dies unable to open a parachute and Tara drowns in madness. However fascinating this plot might seem, "Cult Of The Damned" is a piece of insipid gibberish, which makes even worse impression by coming up with experimental tools like non-linear narration or footage of static collages as a way to externalize what's happening in poor girl's head. Unfortunately, director lacked Bob Rafelson's talent and couldn't pull off another "Head" (1968). Does it havy any value at all? Possibly an obscurity factor... on second thought, it could be probably sampled for rave visuals.

As Robert Thom said in an interview for Variety in 1969: Here again I want to say something about society. It deals with a court reporter who concentrates on tax evasion to get the Mafia. If you've read this review carefully, you must've noticed an obvious contradiction to these words. Apparently, AIP recut the movie so extensively, that it didn't carry any resemblance to the original version... or maybe they just tried to sell this flick to the public as a criminal drama, being convinced that diabolical version of The Rolling Stones might not pass in the press. In this case, you're absolutely free to choose what you want to believe in!

[The movie can be purchased from Cinema de Bizarre]

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

For Y'ur Height Only (1981)

When Corman's New World pictures eventully cut their ties with Filipino film industry in the beginning of the 80's due to hazards of social turmoil in the country, there were couple of native directors, who picked up exactly where Americans left off. One of these brave lads was Eddie Nickart, who gained his experience working with Eddie Romero, Jack Hill and Joe Dante on their low-budget goodies. Soon, he was to blow the lid off with one of the wackiest exploitation productions ever made, which not only marked the limit of going over the top on the screen, but eventually became a big cult classic in the exploitation fandom. This outstanding example of B-movie sick fantasy features amazing Weng Weng as 3 feet tall secret agent 00, sex machine and martial arts adept in one! Although it was gross even for exploitation standards, Weng Weng with his natural charisma and large spirit in small body made it a real killer giving a brand new meaning to "loved it" sentence.

Forget about James Bond, forget about A-Team or Indiana Jones, forget even about all these vintage ass-kickers like Billy Jack, Django or evil bikers from „Satan's Sadists” as with agent 00 you're gonna go for a ride risking death by massive laugh attack. This spysploitation masterpiece is one of these pictures, where every scene is precious instantly screwing your frontal lobe. Weng Weng has the license to kill and stomps on the crooks, thugs and punks of any sort using his deadly martial arts skills, high-tech gadgets like a flying pork pie hat, ring with a poison detector or stock jet pack, apparently made out of hoover pipes and a fire extinguisher. He's short, but he's a real badass and that definitely gives him the edge. He can run between your legs or squat in the bushes, jumping out like a grasshopper in the most unexpected moment just to finish your miserable life with three slaps and a kick. You never know where Weng Weng is hiding and he might be after you just now as his natural hunting instinct cannot be tricked!

Did you ever see a movie, where screenplay is so bad, that it doesn't even make sense for a half-brainer? Well, you got it here, except this movie is so wildly entertaining, that it stops being any problem. Low-budget creativity has probably never given birth to anything likewise brilliant, excluding modern campy imitations. Weng Weng is the king of the streets and his reputation precedes him everywhere he goes. He's strolls a bit like Shaft, however he's much shorter and uses customized, awesome machine guns matching his size. He's Japanese sword expert too and he won't leave any chances in a duel cutting and thrusting to kill... but after heavy day he likes to hang out in a local disco den downing coca-cola bottles to the rhythms of Salsoul Orchestra. The way he looks in these innocent moments, doesn't reflect who he is at all – a 3 feet tall death machine! Can you dig that potential?

"For Y'ur Height Only" is a wonderful movie on many levels and remains killing fun even after multiple watching (which I strongly advise). It's upside is a combination of low-budget action solutions like people shooting from umbrellas or speaking to the blinking mirror and cheesy set production utilizing local entertainment park, scruffy disco club, cheap hotels and all the other low-profile Filipino landmarks. Without these contrasting qualities, that flick would probably never break through like it did, leaving a smoking hole in the brain of every grindhouse cinema addict, who watched it after sucking on a bong and downing six pack just to be blown off the couch and pass the word. In fact, you cannot really stay unshaken by lines like: "You're such a little guy, very petit like a potato" or scenes where Weng Weng shows off his bravado by flying on the umbrella from 5th floor, landing on the top of a car. These are genuine B-movie nuggets, which simply cannot stay overlooked, so if you don't know what flicks with Weng Weng are about, you definitely cannot afford missing the opportunity to seriously and irreversibly fry your brain.

Monday, 12 March 2012

Don't Torture a Duckling (1972)

Among many Fulci's exceptional flicks, there are maybe three or four, considered his masterpieces. Although nobody will settle on the ultimate shortlist, almost everybody will point to "Don't Torture a Duckling" as his most important film! Whatever you'll put below is all right, providing this gem will make a top of the podium. I usually pair it with "One On The Top Of The Other" (1969), which is another overlooked nugget from maestro's ouevre, except the latter one loses in favour of "Don't Torture a Duckling" due to deus ex machina ending and extra narrative filling, overlaying the final scenes. Other than that, it's almost as yummy as the winner!

Italians often like to juxtapose "Don't Torture a Duckling" to Fellini's "Amarcord" (1973) on a level of playing with a picture of local community, strongly embedded in traditional culture. Certainly, these movies have come from different reigns and schools, but they've been fruits of the same period and offered akin takes on microcosm of social relations in Italy. Then, Fulci's work definitely retains occult thriller's quality, while Fellini's piece chooses to be more of a comedy-drama, not saying their aspirations and markets are totally different. Still, Fulci blew up a giallo drawer into space with his ideas, crossing the lines drawn by Mario Bava, Sergio Martino, Dario Argento and himself. What he landed with, was a movie undeniably guided by artistic sense of beauty and cinematic debauchery, underpinned by quaint scenes of sheer brutality and perverse comments on Italian traditionalism, which is why it should be considered a league jumper in my opinion.

This wasn't just another sleazy "whodunit", but skilful application of an outstanding talent to a genre movie. Fulci's work was a milestone and till this day easily beats other giallo flicks. "Don't Torture a Duckling" steps over Bava's "Blood & Black Lace" (1964) or "Bay Of Blood" (1971), Argento's "Four Flies On a Grey Velvet" (1972), "Deep Red" (1974) and "Suspiria" (1976) and other good gialli like "Death Laid An Egg" (1968), "Your Vice is a Locked Room and Only I Have The Key" (1972), "Black Belly Of The Tarantula" (1971) or Fulci's own genre works like "Lizard In Woman's Skin" (1971), "Black Cat" (1981) or "New York Ripper" (1982). Whereas all mentioned above play within giallo net, Fulci's picture breaks away from it's fixed limitations, offering instead a way of opening to a larger perspective, which in this case has become a real swansong.

Obviously, Fulci still welcomes the occult thriller as his chosen movie convention, but he goes after bigger butterflies now by playing up the expectations, squeezing the last drop of sweat from the cast, taking long, artistic shots, which are no longer simple tools of enclosing a few characters tangled in their own intrigue, but serve to outline them as living elements of a bigger community, pictured with all raving density. As none other picture, "Don't Torture a Duckling" is carried by maestro's unequivocal poetics – director carefully plays out both acts, into which the film is divided, saturating them with doubts, superstition, ethical choices and red herrings on the top. Significantly it's here, where Fulci starts to develop his trademark style, distinguished by deep camera movements, frog and half-frog perspective frames – applied en masse to his later slasher, gore & occult horrors.

The movie was shot around Sant'Angelo and Manziano in Puglia (deep south of Italy) making use of stunning, natural backdrop of the area. In fact, profound light of Italian summer is visible everywhere here, making "Don't Torture a Duckling" an exceptional picture from the side of set production and photography. Moreover, it was Fulci's first movie digging deeply into traditional, Italian folk culture – blowing these themes to a quasi epic, mythical dimension – which has been kind of a higher call ground for most of the Italian directors. On the top, the story seems inspired at large by anthropological analysis of Southern culture, ambitiously capturing pagan beliefs and fears of the local community within screenplay.

As young boys from the local town die one by one, slaughtered by mysterious, psychotic maniac, a police hunt begins, quickly returning first results, which are unfortunately of a hesitatant nature. Although they all provide precious insight into the state of mental affairs of the local community, they remain worthless in terms of pinpointing the killer. As investigation moves forward, a journalist (Tomas Milian) arrives to town, tempted by a great story. He soon joins forces with one of the local outsiders – a gorgeous daughter (Barbara Bouchet) of a famous Italian industrialist, who's been forced to inhabit a countryside exile in order not to bring more exposure to the pending corruption affair of her father. In the meantime a local witch – Maciara (Florinda Bolkan) falls under suspicion taking the blame, but easily gets off the hook after being caught in crossfire of interrogation and confessing all she's been doing... were black magic rituals!

Despite being innocent, she gets promptly executed by local peasants, who still consider her guilty by default. The famous scene of her death in the cemetery is filled with deep passion and cruelty, but counterweighted by Fulci's satirical agenda, who used 60's soul and Italian pop music in the background achieving a tragicomical effect. Before she dies on the side of the road, we're being loaded with subtle, social commentary on the nature of modern, Italian society. That scene doesn't come alone in this showcase of genre's possibilities, but stays in your mind for long. While plot moves ahead and more red herrings die, the only possible killer comes forward. The finale uncovers not only the source of his psychosis, but also gives an opportunity for Fulci to strike another, electrifying social critique.

Although amazing in terms of artistic vision, "Don't Torure a Duckling" didn't have an easy life after the premiere. Fulci has been tried by the court, accused of exposing the child to Barbara Bouchet's nudity on the set. He had to prove, he was shooting the scene with her naked body from different angles, which technically let him do it with both actors playing it separately! Catholic church didn't like the movie either, disputing it's anti-religious allusions and alleged, occult agenda. Then came the usual onslaught after Fulci's love for on-screen violence, this time concerning exploitation of violence against minors. The fallout affected European distribution of the movie, making it a rather smalltime player, which got shelved shortly. As in the USA it was released for the first time in 1999 - although English audio was ready in 1972 - only recently it had a real chance to finally reach the public. Nevertheless, the revival of film's popularity confirmed it's status and brought it back to a critical acclaim, for which it fully deserves!

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Ring Of Darkness (1979)

Very rare satanic horror (Italian title: "Un'ombra nell'ombra") directed by Pier Carpi – a recognised author of giallo novels, who shot only two feature movies – shining with beautiful synth-psych soundtrack of Italian composer, Stelvio Cipriani. A strong genre classic, which undoubtedly falls behind such masterpieces as "Possession" (1981), "The Devils" (1971), "Mother Joan Of The Angels" (1960) or "AntiChrist" (1976), but on the other hand doesn't come up with any pretensions of high-end artistic work, efficiently exploring it's own niche instead. What catches an eye at most is a skilful cinematography, fantastic in it's gloominess, that has a decisive grip on the dark atmosphere... blow by blow pushing the action towards a focal point. What sets it up though is hectic, vibrating Cipriani's music of almost psychedelic quality, at ease pulling the viewer into the diabolical ring.

The story is simple, but easily grabs you by the balls. As secret coven of the witches finds it's purpose in satanic ceremonies offering bodies to the Lucifer, all children they give birth to, inherit satan's peculiar, dark traits. That becomes a real problem, when one by one they start to reveal daemonic powers. Especially one girl – Daria, seems to be in very close contact with the evil one. She kills her miserable father using black magic and then starts to terrorize school mates and a teacher, slowly killing them with the help of satan. That eventually brings the attention of her witch-mother, who decides, that her daughter needs to be seriously dealt with and calls for the coven's quick intervention.

The witches prepare a banishing ritual, for which a presence of the priest is necessary, who is to help in cleansing child's soul by stepping in with holy communion... but it's too late as Daria's evil powers made her immune for any magic and The Lord Of Darkness himself gave her an important mission to fulfill. Sturdy with his support Daria torpedoes coven's effort to strip her off dark powers and then wins over her own mother, who draws the magic ring and evokes the powers of light trying in a desperate attempt to purge the child. When all barriers are broken, Daria can finally follow the call of satan and get the job done! Film gains a lot by it's sudden and unexpected ending!

"Ring Of Darkness" is obviously one of these 70's pictures, which rolled on the high wave of commercial success of "The Exorcist" (1973) spinning and blowing themes, which made Friedkin's flick a box office blast. Nonetheless, satanic horror as a form was worked out earlier by Roman Polański in his brilliant "Rosemary's Baby" (1969), which on the other hand owed a lot to the primal one, a real blueprint of "satan on the reel" – "Mother Joan Of The Angels" (1960), directed by Jerzy Kawalerowicz. Although this masterpiece of Polish Film School was never meant to pass as a horror – going rather down the line of historical drama, spiked with extraordinary psychology of the characters, pulled off exuberantly by great actors with deep theatrical background – today it's commonly dubbed a genre classic. Despite there was never a chance for "Ring Of Darkness" to reach this level of professional commitment, it undeniably shakes the pulse... even if in a sappy way.

Despite a lead being played by Anne Heywood, a great treat for B-cinema lovers is a small role of Marisa Mell – one of Lucio Fulci's favourite actresses cast in unforgettable "One On The Top Of The Other" (1969), who beforehand acted in Mario Bava's "Danger: Diabolik" (1967). However vague a screenplay of "Ring Of Darkness" might seem, scouting "Suspiria" meets "The Exorcist" potential, the occult/witch undercurent surpasses both by opening wide to frontal nudity and EXPLOITING ceremonial magick with traditional rituals of daemonology and hint of wicca. That's one of the reasons, for which this movie could be addressed to those ones dwelling mostly in occult cinema and to Anton Szandor LaVey followers as well. Moreover, the movie stands next to giallo flicks, which paved the way for modern Italian and American gore, occult and slasher horrors. Satanic themes diggers will definitely enjoy it!

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Ilsa: The Tigress Of Siberia (1977)

One of the last spinoffs in "Ilsa" series was produced in Canada and directed by Jean LaFleur. Although not as bright and bold as the original – "Ilsa: She-Wolf Of The SS" (1975), it definitely has a potential of delivering some cheap thrills to Dyanne Thorne's ardent fans. And we know for sure, they're out there, right? The movie breaks down in two acts – first one being set in Siberian gulag, in 1953 and second one in Montreal (Canada), in 1977. Ilsa is modelled again as a sadistic bitch, but this time she's a Russian officer having deep affinity for Stalin's and Beria's political line, including their glorious PR management. She has a lot of fun in the camp when tossing prisoners – who were out of line – to her dear tiger. Other kicks of Ilsa are pulling poor inmates under ice and private vodka drinking contests for her accomplices – two bravest chaps, who can drink shitloads and still stand on their feet, will nail her pussy together the same night in privacy of her bedroom.

Problems for Ilsa start when a stubborn prisoner – Yakurin, defies Stalin's and Beria's call to conform and shape up for the glory of the USSR. Virtually nothing can break this fucker and bring him to a flashpoint, neither cold showers nor electroshocks, not even hot body of Ilsa herself, who offers it in a desperate pass at him. But even these petty games soon fade away as Stalin kicks the bucket and his ideas for making everybody happy suddenly get revised pushing Ilsa and her torture loving helpers to burn the camp to the ground and flee to Canada in the saddle (probably through ice)... but Yakurin survives, first killing the bloodthirsty tiger with a shovel.

24 years went fast and it's 1977 now! Yakurin is a KGB agent, taking care of Russian sportsmen druring Olympic games in Montreal. They're just about to leave back home, but guys want to get laid first, so they head to the best brothel in town. The action promptly pumps up when this quiet hideout occurs to be under Ilsa's command – in the meantime she became the head of Russian mafia in Canada and handled ruthlessly all the foreign competition (we even get to see one of these poor Italian mafiosi quitting extortions to grow tomatoes on the farm). She orders to capture Yakurin, but when that's done, KGB operatives recognize old Siberian warden and Moscow orderes to solve the problem immediately. The brutes finally go belly up and you'll even see Ilsa crying like a baby!

Although there are many cracks in the screenplay, in the end you have to look at it as another silly sexploitation/prisonsploitation flick, which this time got enriched with international espionage & organized crime themes. It's not that bad if you focus on Dyanne Thorne's big booobs occasionally swinging out in threesome scenes – nice ones by the way. Even fighting and shooting sequences make sense from time to time and that includes featured usage of medieval weapons. Despite initial backdrop poverty – my thoughts were like: "This gulag looks so cheap, cause all the budget went into getting and feeding a tiger" – while the movie goes ahead, it's actually getting better and better. Whorehouse has a nice design and very 70's feel and Ils'a residence was well scouted. It's still level down comparing with the original mentioned above, but all fans of "Ilsa" series should enjoy it.

[The movie can be purchased from Cinema de Bizarre]

Wednesday, 7 March 2012

Cocksucker Blues (1972)

As it was likely to happen and eventually it did, the most notorious documentary about a rock group ever made never got a chance for a public release. While an artistic vision of Robert Frank embodied in "Cocksucker Blues" doesn't offer any justification itself, it's potentially damaging effects on the image of the group who ordered it, definitely do. Despite coming through as one of the grittiest documentaries you'll ever see, it grabs The Rolling Stones by the balls handing these lads over on a hot smokin' plate. However it's more than that as one of the most famous photographers of the last century and a real Beat Generation documentarist not only shot ravishing footage of famous British rock stars, but also stamped his persona on the reel. What he said about "Cocksucker Blues" afterwards appears very significant too: What goes on on the tour was worse than what you see. Even if after watching the movie it hits as a strong statement, it's probably true anyway.

Although definitely a masterpiece of beat cinema, it was actually made when Beat Generation cohorts have already burnt out as comets while the remaining ones – whose pieces of life-as-art have flown freely around and inspired the others – joined the second circuit of culture. Still, it might be seen as the ultimate prank of counterculture's godfathers. "Cocksucker Blues" was initially ordered and produced by Marshall Chess, the president of freshly started Rolling Stones Records and filmed on multiple locations in United States, which The Rolling Stones were passing on their Exile On Main Street '72 Tour. Being first US tour of the group since 1969, when they played infamous gig on Altamount Higway in California (during which 4 people died), the expectations of the American public were very high. It shows clearly in the movie when die-hard fans are being interviewed outside local venues sometimes declaring their need of seeing the group is strongest than will to live... My life is half-wrecked anyway – we get to hear from one of the hippie burnouts.

"Cocksucker Blues" underground fame has been rising for a long time and finally achieved a real cult status. It's scarcity helped! First screening of the film in 1976 was closed to the public as Robert Frank has got involved in a long lawsuit over the rights to it's release with The Rolling Stones themselves – musicians tried to block it, scared to death by it's nihilistic agenda. The court ruled in favour of Frank's demand eventually – the movie could have been shown... but only if director was present in person. This ruling obviously stopped it's theatrical release and was a primal reason why "Cocksucker Blues" never made to DVD. As screenings became very rare, the only existing copy of the movie was finally bootlegged (as usually by these cool anonymous film lovers) and effectively circles around in the Internet today. This is our luck as this shit is a real must-see for those who have a passion for drug fueled madness rarities from the epoch of spiraling hedonism.

Robert Frank's insider, homemade 16 mm style is a foggy tunnel of casually edited scenes from the tour. A camera jumps in and dives into the hotel rooms where The Stones sleep and do drugs, where they fuck and play cards, where they drink and mumble to the camera... usually strung out or zipping up their pants after a good dick wetting, or just waiting for a quick fix and a bottle of whisky to be delivered. The king of decadence and intravenous drug use quickly pops forward – it's Keith Richards, who occasionally rumbles around throwing TV sets from hotel balconnies for fun. Otherwise he's just getting fucked on junk, continually cooked on demand by one of his skinny girlfriends. In one of the best scenes he cannot even stand... he's just there on a bench zonked out like a can of mushed peas, leaning on his girl who's equally wasted.

Except hotel footage, The Stones are captured on stage usually giving a top notch performance. When they join forces with Stevie Wonder and his band, the scene goes on fire while Uptight becomes Satisfaction and Mick grabs Stevie and together they kick off a live soul dance to a romping, cracking-ass work of extended brass, rhythm and guitar section. Steamy stuff, which becomes a cloud of blurriness when band comes off stage to get loaded all over again. Frank catches genuine moments of ultimate bendover as Mick Jagger gets so washed up that his monologues become nothing more than worn humming without any sense or clue. In the meantime roadies go on a frenzy of fixing their veins or coke snorting with occasional group fucking – a famous scene of screwing stripped groupies on a private plane would be probably enough to wake up most of The Stones fans. We even get some famous drug fiends featured – Terry Southern is cleaning his nose passing the bump to Tina Turner and then being involved in a long chat over precious qualities of white powder. Mick Jagger comes through as a coke fan too... but from time to time he'll pass a joint and get hungry.

60's were over for The Rolling Stones, guys! Hard stuff dominates in "Cocksucker Blues" and while lads are tumbling down, their golden period wears off, they get to be seen as a bunch of not so highly aspiring rock'n'rollers with simple vices. Frank's approach is great as it doesn't sugarcoat the shit! His film is very dark and gloomy lacking any voice-over with the only exception being a quote from William S. Burroughs in the end of the movie. A very witty choice indeed as the life of the band has just become a non-stop sex and drug party with rollercoaster amplitude of moods and sliding concentration on music matter. Occasional, non-verbal commentary like showing TV with '72 presidential campaign going on or dexedrine ad, fills this picture of a killing music tour by the biggest rock stars remained on stage. You wanna find out what The Stones got into when the 60's went down crashing? Just grab this and forget about other documentaries.