Friday, September 30, 2011

Ladies Of Death Row Swimsuit Calendar

No, it's not some lost Russ Meyer film, it's my band. My friend Nafa and I have been in this strange band called Ladies of Death Row Swimsuit Calendar (old website) for 10 years now. We started back when I was in college (I'm not making excuses!). We're not exactly "motivated" or "productive" but we do exist. And in September of 2001, we started making weird guitar loops, obtuse 4 track experiments, and jokey shit. Sometimes we're even half serious. Or maybe I dreamed that part.

Here's some of our music:

LODRSC - McDonoughs (lots of old songs)

LODRSC - So Misled (more recent stuff)

Nafa's music

4 songs of my strangeness

Here's some videos of our videos:

Monday, September 26, 2011

Hello! This is the Doomed Show Episode #7: The Horrible Secret of Dr. Hichcock

Hello, my name is duder. You knew this would happen, didn't you? I did. Brad and I have survived all the way until episode number seven! We talk about the great flick, The Horrible Secret of Dr. Hichcock, directed by Riccardo Freda. Do we like that one or hate that one? You'll just have to listen to find out.

You can download or listen right here at Podomatic.

Or you can download the episode right here from Mediafire.

It's your call, homey!

We would love to hear comments on the episode or just tell us how you are planning to destroy us! Either way, leave comments here or at our Facebook page.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Killer's Nocturne

Killer's Nocturne
AKA Bat Ye Tin
Directed by Ngai Kai Lam
Starring Alex Man, Siu-hou Chin, Pat Ha, Yin Tse, Hseih Wang, Ki Yan Lam, Alex To
91 minutes

Mr. Yin (played by Alex Man) is taking over all the nightclubs in town and oh yes, he is doing it hostilely! Yin wants revenge on Mr. Law (Yin Tse) for beating him at mahjong gambling. It's because of the shame of this defeat that forced Yin and his brother Hoi (Alex To) to live in exile in Japan for many years. Yin kills Law but makes it appear as though it was a suicide. Law's son Fung becomes obsessed with getting revenge on his father's murderer.

Fung does have some time for matters of the heart as the woman he has been chasing for many weeks is none other than nightclub singer Miss Rachel (played by Pat Ha), who just happens to be Mr. Yin's main squeeze. After Fung is severely beaten by Yin's bodyguards, Rachel takes care of the guy and even falls for him which, of course, gets her killed. Fung then flees the country and gets into the boxing circuit, fighting dudes and sometimes kangaroos. When he returns, he heads straight for Mr. Yin's Endless Night nightclub to settle the score once and for all.

If you are familiar with the films of Ngai Kai Lam (AKA Nam Lai Choi) such as Story of Ricky, The Cat, or Seventh Curse then the fact that he directed a gambling gangster drama action kung fu period piece shouldn't surprise you. In fact, I am so used to this director's ability to raise my eyebrows and drop my jaw that my face is in a permanent state of surprise all day, every day. Killer's Nocturne is both melodramatic and intensely violent. It has some comic elements, romance elements, and even some fantastical elements all mixed together in one magical concoction. Many of Hong Kong's best directors blend multiple styles in one film but few are as satisfyingly cathartic, mind-blowingly kinetic, or emotionally confusing as Lam's.

My favorite character in Killer's Nocturne is Fung. Siu-hou Chin (of Mr. Vampire) plays a very likable and righteous duder who becomes so driven by his quest for vengeance that nothing in the world matters to him more than destroying Mr. Yin. I love how, while on the boxing circuit, he finds out that losing a fight earns him more money than winning. So he becomes a human punching bag to make mad cash and unintentionally trains his body to take all kinds of abuse. In fact, Fung becomes so tough that when he finally comes back to Endless Night, Yin's goons have a VERY DIFFICULT TIME trying to kick his ass. Trust me, you will be amazed by the finale of this one.

I strongly encourage adventurous viewers to seek out the films of Ngai Kai Lam. I have enjoyed every single flick of his that I have seen with the exception of Saga of the Phoenix, which is a little too kid friendly in an obnoxious and disturbing way. All of his flicks are entertaining and so damn weird. Killer's Nocturne has an especially depressing storyline but the action scenes are brilliantly staged and the characters are sympathetic. So in the end, you'll be left with a feeling of abstract ennui. Sounds good, right? An understanding of the rules of mahjong will help you out here as there are a couple of mahjong games that are part of the plot. If you, like me, don't know jack about the game, don't worry, the music queues and the actors' reactions to the outcome help immensely.

See, I wasn't kidding!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Franco Friday: The End?

Franco Friday: The End?

Since the beginning of this whole Franco Friday thing, I kind of knew that I was probably the last person to be really diving into the world of Jess Franco. I have little or no tolerance for 'sex films' so it seems like I would have avoided the guy. But my ever-expanding movie queue is so tangled up with intersecting directors and actors from European genre flicks that I had no choice but see what old Franco was all about. What I found was baffling, exhilarating, and downright irritating. My goal of 52 films by one director reviewed in 52 consecutive Fridays will not be met this time. Maybe I'll do Takashi Miike Mondays! He's directed like 86 films and counting. No, I probably won't.

I will still give anything Franco directed before 1972 a chance but I am very wary about ANYTHING starring Lina Romay. Franco said to the world: 'Look at my wife! No seriously, look at her. No, I mean stare deep into her vagina.' One wonders about the nature of such a relationship. What drives a man to put his lady on display? What compels someone to direct pornos starring their dang wife? And what would motivate a woman to star in these films directed by her husband? I have a theory but I'll keep it to myself *.

For the record, I find Lina Romay attractive, very attractive, especially between the years 1972 and 1984. And I like her acting. Go figure. She has always been exactly what Franco needed: a vamp, a slut, a damsel in distress, an innocent corrupted, etc. Was she right for this role or that role? Did Franco overuse her? Frankly, it doesn't fucking matter because the films just kept getting made no matter what. If it hadn't of been her, it would have been someone else. At least she has a great rack and big beautiful eyes.

And now here's a photo of Jess Franco assaulting me:

(You can thank Nafa for this atrocity.)

I am particularly struck by Franco's ability to take a whole lot of nothing (or in some cases, less than nothing) and turning it into something magical. The man knows how to create feelings of dread and a sense of impending tragedy in both his horror films and his erotic films (and those hybrid creatures that are concoctions of both). One has to be willing to let go of any need for a cohesive story and open the senses to take in all of the accidental and always bizarre beauty that Franco throws into his work. And don't forget to open your heart because these are also some of the saddest films I've ever seen. Franco loves his damned characters and he loves to show us their last gasps of freedom and innocence.

But be wary, my friends, Franco does have a fatal flaw: sex. The man isn't anymore perverted than your average Euro-sleaze director but he is more persistent. Sometimes he will hamstring a perfectly good film with obvious erotic overtones or symbolism so frank that you'll feel stupid for giving the guy a chance. Yes, I'm talking about you, Mr. Giant Black Dildo of A Virgin Among the Living Dead. Honestly, I still feel a twinge of embarrassment whenever I post a review of a sex film on this blog. I need a break!

Here are my top 10 favorite films by Jess Franco (out of the 30+ that I have seen). These are also 10 films by this nutcase that anyone remotely interested in him should see.

10. Blue Rita

9. Dr. Orloff's Monster

8. A Virgin Among the Living Dead

7. Vampyros Lesbos

6. She Killed in Ecstasy

5. Venus in Furs

4. Rites of Frankenstein

3. Kiss Me Monster

2. Bloody Moon

1. Eugenie de Sade

Now look, I know that Franco has some interesting themes running through all of his films and he even reuses characters' names. Trust me, I like that. Lorna the Exorcist is a sequel to Succubus. Why not? But you know what? I'm so sick of this guy's schtick that I don't give a double wide fuck about it! If SOMEONE could stop doing constant closeups of VAGINAS for FIVE SECONDS maybe I wouldn't be FLIPPING THE FUCK OUT right now! Hey Franco, women's bodies are beautiful. No seriously, women's bodies are beautiful. WOMEN'S BODIES ARE BEAUTIFUL! How many of your films did I have to shut off, Mr. Sexy Franco? Hm... Do you think I'll ever review The Sexual Story of O? Or Night of a Thousand Sexes? Or Barbed Wire Dolls? Or Diary of a Gooch Princess? THINK ABOUT IT!

Here are my 5 least favorite Franco films:

5. Sadistic Baron Von Klaus

4. Count Dracula

3. Women without Innocence

2. Macumba Sexual

1. Lorna the Exorcist

So thanks to everyone who has been tuning in to these often painful reviews. There will be more Franco Fridays in the future (I am a Franco fan, after all) but I have to break the cycle (because I'm NOT a Franco kind of guy). I did not consider going 19 more films as the home stretch but rather an insurmountable thing that I was terrified of. I know it sounds ridiculous but it's true. But fear not, Franco-faces, every once in a while here at CinSom, you'll see a Franco Friday pop up out of nowhere. There are at least 5 more of his films that I want to see (and about 150 more that I don't) so keep your eyes glued to this old place.


Monday, September 12, 2011

Hello! This is the Doomed Show Episode 6: Symptoms

In this all new, all rad sixth episode of Hello! This is the Doomed Show, Brad and Richard discuss Symptoms by Jose Ramon Larraz. It stars Donald Pleasence's frickin' daughter, yo!

You can listen or download the episode right here.

Or just download it right here.

Those are two options!

Tell your friends about us.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Franco Friday #33: Succubus

Franco Friday #33

Roughly seven and a half months ago, I entered the wild world of Jess Franco. And now I am ready to leave, at least for a little while. When this started to feel less like an endurance challenge and more like plain old torture, I had to stop. Unfortunately, I'm not ending on a better note. A sour note? Not exactly. Let's turn up the volume so that even the imperfections become melodies.

AKA Necronomicon - Getraumte Sunden
Directed by Jess Franco
Starring Janine Reynaud, Jack Taylor, Adrian Hoven, Howard Vernon, Nathalie Nort
79 minutes

Lorna Green* (played by Janine Reynaud) is an S&M dominatrix in a nightclub owned by her boyfriend William (Jack Taylor). When she's not whipping the crap out of people, she's out partying, dropping acid, and getting all sexually frustrated and stuff because William is usually too drunk to fuck (like the Dead Kennedys song). Next thing ya know, Lorna descends into a dream world where all kinds of freaky shit happens. Everything goes all soft focus and she goes to a castle. She also stabs a guy (Howard Vernon) in the eye with a needle and kills some people. Oh, and her collection of mannequins come to life. Are these only fantasies? Or is this mysterious stranger (Michel Lemoine) have some devious plan for Lorna?

Mr. Jess Franco drops us into his dreamworld of soft focus sexual perversion and fantasies bathed in diffused light. This film is bizarre, silly, practically plotless, and mannequins do come to life but this film is crippled by it's artsy-fartsiness. Awkward stripteases, murder, J&B sightings, and LSD trips abound but I am still bored. I need to stop making these friggin' list sentences. Sorry.

One thing I am thankful for is Franco introducing me to Janine Reynaud. Before this film and Kiss Me Monster, I just thought that Miss Reynaud was just that weird looking lady from The Case of the Scorpion's Tail. Now I know she's that weird looking lady from all kinds of movies! But seriously, Reynaud is always a welcome sight to behold and her performances just warm my dang heart. Other great faces in this movie are Howard Vernon (who looks awfully comfortable in that bar that employs hot and naked dudes), Oregon's own Jack Taylor (who is becoming one of my faves), Adrian Hoven (and his rakish good looks), and actor/director Michel Lemoine (who is totally creepy).

So where does this film go wrong? The writing! I have sat through Franco's unique brand of improvised saxophone solo type of filmmaking many times before but rarely has pretentious dialog turned it into an almost unbearably embarrassing experience for me. From the blatantly obvious themes hammered into the viewer's brain to a super snooty word association/name-dropping game (that just about made me vomit), this film has its head way, way up its ass. That being said, all of this pretentious shit is very funny so if Franco meant it as a joke... GOOD!

Here's an obnoxious yet hilarious clip (NSFW):

I do enjoy the visual aspects and the score of Succubus. Because of those aspects, this is a lovely and enjoyable cinematic poem. In his introduction to Obsession: The Films of Jess Franco, Tim Lucas refers to this film as the beginning of Franco's peak years and the first film where he was given complete freedom. So I'm not surprised this would be both great and slightly full of shit. Succubus is incredibly dated and a bit of chore to sit through but fans of Jess Franco will dig it. It's like John Coltrane. You know you're supposed to dig Giant Steps for what it is but you've already moved on to A Love Supreme. There! I'm like Franco now.

"Will you always stay?"
"I will stay until the end."

*I still think this is a veiled reference to Lorne Greene.

But this IS my modest robe!

Soft focus really isn't my thing.

We know you're voice is dubbed, Howard. Stop trying to embarrass us.

What is this on the wall, Franco? ANOTHER VAGINA?

Two words: vegan caterer.

I don't care how you spell it, that shit is overrated!

Let me carve you a chin like mine.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Franco Friday #32: Vampyros Lesbos

Franco Friday #32

Ahhh, this feels like coming home. For many years, Vampyros Lesbos was my favorite Jess Franco film, mainly because I had seen exactly three Franco films all together. But you know, had it not been this one film getting stuck in my brain, I might never have ventured so deep into the world of Franco. Coming next week... the last Franco Friday!

Vampyros Lesbos
Directed by Jess Franco
Starring Soledad Miranda, Ewa Stromberg, Dennis Price, Heidrun Kussin, Jose Martinez Blanco, Andres Monales, Paul Muller
89 minutes

An indiscernible voice prattling through a megaphone over some toxic jazz segues into a relentless blast of organ music. The first images we see? A striptease. A brunette in a red scarf takes off what little lingerie she is wearing and dresses a living mannequin on the stage with her. The mannequin suddenly comes to life. A blond woman in the audience is particularly affected by this display. This is Vampyros Lesbos. Fasten your ill-fitting braziers, it's gonna be a funky night (day, actually).

Linda Westinghouse (played by Ewa Stromberg) has been haunted by dreams of a woman she has never met. This woman beckons to her. While she and her boyfriend are staying in Istanbul, Linda is called in to draw up the estate of the Countess Carody AKA Nadine (Soledad Miranda). I think she's a lawyer or whatever. It should be no surprise to anyone watching this film, the Countess is the woman from her dreams. Much like the title promises, the Countess is a lesbian vampire and she wants to drain Linda dry.

Linda's boyfriend Omar (played by Andres Monales) is very concerned for his lady who seems to be fading away before his eyes. He contacts Dr. Seward (Dennis Price) who is convinced that vampires are real and that Linda is in grave danger. Locked up in his hospital is Agra (Heidrun Kussin), one of the Countess's previous victims/girlfriends, who has completely lost her mind. She spends her days writhing around in her bed with a very phallic-looking rubber clown and prophesying the Countess's imminent return. Agra is the Renfield of this movie. Nice work if you can get it.

Of course, Dr. Seward is an unethical motherfucker who wants the vampire's power of immortality. He tries to trap the Countess in some lame scheme but he doesn't count on her manservant Morpho (played by Jose Martinez Blanco) showing up and wrecking shit. Did I mention that Linda is being held hostage by a madman named Memmet (Jess Franco)? No? Oh well. I probably forgot to talk about how Linda is special (she's strong willed?) and that the Countess has decided to bestow all the powers of the vampire upon her. Yeah, sorry. ANYWAY, Omar and Linda's therapist (Paul Muller) show up to save the day. Will they be too late?!?!

Director Jess Franco delivers a pervasively moody, if uneven, film with Vampyros Lesbos. The adventurous cinematographer Manuel Merino does not disappoint delivering a lush and very pretty film full of vibrance in even the most washed out sets located in Istanbul, Germany, and Spain. Merino also makes great use of lots of colored gels and inexplicably bizarre lighting setups, giving the film even more spice. The soundtrack by Manfred Hubler, Sigi Schwab, and Franco himself is overwhelming and should just about melt your ears off.

Even after all the Jess Franco films I've seen, Vampyros Lesbos is still pretty damn weird. Vampires that go sunbathing in the nude, mysterious blood dripping down a window, a scorpion drowning* in a swimming pool, and candles burning in broad daylight are just a few bafflements in store for adventurous viewers. The only major complaint I have is the striptease at the beginning of the film is repeated pretty much in its entirety late in the running time. I can't help but wish this had been abbreviated. It's a poignant scene in its own way but the Countess's act is so elaborate that it's a little dull the second time around. Here I am, complaining about naked women again! Maybe Franco just ain't for me.

I love this silly, silly movie but I suspect that without Soledad Miranda's super-cool performance, I doubt this would be as highly revered (or perhaps just remembered thanks to Synapse's 2000 DVD**) as it is. This is certainly better than Franco's own Daughter of Dracula, released the following year. This film does have some laughably outrageous overacting (Kussin) and forehead slapping underacting (Monales) but Miranda and Stromberg help you forget about all that. As far as starting points for Jess Franco, Vampyros Lesbos is an excellent place to begin. Just don't tell a newbie that this is his greatest film. That just wouldn't be true.

"My friend is the Queen of the Night."
"I see."

*Scorpions can't fucking swim, Franco!

**After INTENSE RESEARCH, I found that Vampyros Lesbos was actually part of the second wave of Franco's films available on DVD in the US in 2000 alongside titles such as She Killed in Ecstasy, Wanda the Wicked Warden, Female Vampire, and The Awful Dr. Orloff. In 1998, during the first wave, the only Franco DVDs you could get your hands on in the States were Succubus and Kiss Me, Monster (thanks to Image DVD).