Archive for the ‘News’ Category

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2014 MoCCA Artsfest

April 4, 2014

Hey, readers in the US, especially on the East Coast: This weekend sees Jamie and Erika of Loud Comix attending the 2014 MoCCA Artsfest in New York, and if you’re in the area you should definitely come by and show some support for independent, underground comics.

I checked the official page, and tickets are $5/day, it’s located smack dab in Manhattan (there are directions on the web site) and guests of honor include iconic artist Robert Williams (!!!) among others. Check it out!

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Censorshit (update)

April 2, 2014

Skärmavbild 2014-04-02 kl. 17.54.29

As indie DVD label Arrow Films & Video just posted it on their Facebook I figured I’d share it on my blog as well, hoping my readers based in the UK will take action.

Following an open letter by Moviemail‘s film critic and historian James Oliver on April 1st, there’s an online petition that in short asks Maria Miller - secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport – to amend the planned changes to the 1984 Video Recording Act.

Dear Minister

The forthcoming changes to the Video Recordings Act will harm UK small businesses and compromise a thriving industry that is admired around the world.

This is unintentional and can be avoided by refining your “Draft Video Recordings Act 1984 (Exempted Video Works) Regulations 2014″. These draft Regulations will make publishing comprehensive DVD packages – editions that dissuade people from turning to pirated copies – financially unviable.

In the light of these unintended consequences, please revisit the draft Regulations.

Now, even though things probably won’t turn out quite as dramatic as I wrote in my previous post on the subject, the new BBFC guidelines will hit the indie DVD labels pretty hard and affect us genre fans. In essence, the new law means that not only do you need to classify the main feature of your DVD/Blu-ray release, but every interview, documentary, featurette that comes with it as well – running up quite a tab if you’re planning a drool-inducing überfan edition, as the BBFC charges a flat fee for their (mandatory) service.

This will not be the end of the UK indie labels, but most likely the days of their beefy DVD editions of horror, cult classics and other films outside the mainstream that fans all over the world enjoy. If you’re a citizen of the UK, and actually give a damn about the smaller independent efforts in your country, please do sign the petition. All it takes is your full name, email and post code. Sign it here and please spread the information on your blog, Facebook etc. Cheers!

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Space Kitty 2000

March 24, 2014

It’s finally here! The second (but fifth in all) album from my oddity project Call Me Greenhorn. Entitled Space Kitty 2000, the follow-up to the 2013 album The Hit ‘In Sounds’ of Today’s Outside Crowd! offers eleven tracks written and recorded between December 2013 up to March of this year. No real reason for the title, it just struck me as “fun” – which in all honesty is at least 75% of the reason I’m doing this to being with.

Personally I am very satisfied with this collection of tracks. Listening to it now I think it has a nice flow and it seems that I finally arrived at a point creatively where all my influences – sans punk rock and 1980s American hardcore – blended together in a sound that showcase them all quite nicely. It’s all here; Old school soul, funk and R&B; cheesy Moog weirdness; lounge; retro-futur; Beastie Boys-styled breakbeats, 1980s new wave/synths (there’s even some Kraftwerk!) and I even managed to add some King Tubby-esque techniques into it all – including two dubs.

Available via Bandcamp and iTunes as of now, Amazon.com will be added next week with tons more to follow. If you’ve got Spotify or Last.FM you can stream the album here and here, and make sure to check out the Simian Walk video on YouTube (below) and Vimeo here!

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Censorshit

March 22, 2014

Well, as both a fan of horror and a believer in the independent D.I.Y. spirit, nothing makes me cringe more than when the hysterics starts to holler “think of the children” ’cause by now I am fully aware it’ll always come back and bite the adults as well as the independents right in the ass. Nothing makes this more clear than the announcement of BBFC‘s coming new guidelines in the UK. Reading all about it in Moviemail‘s great article BBFC changes: A major threat to indie DVD labels? it had me going “oh great, it’s the 1980s all over again.”

Earlier this year there was an outrage in the international horror community when the British Board of Film Classification announced a new ratings system as well as them monitoring material that used to be exempt from classification – a “well-meaning” government legislation ’cause, you know, think of the children. The reason for said act apparently being reality shows like The X Factor and artists like Lady Gaga and Rihanna. A sane person would of course say things like “if you don’t like the show – change the channel” or “don’t buy products by artists whose message/image/behavior you don’t approve of” or something really outrageous like “try parenting, you idiot!”, but we seem to live in an age when no one wants to take responsibility for anything and politicians couldn’t be happier to appease to that mentality.

So what’s the big deal? Well, here’s the bite-yer-ass part: As an unexpected result of these new regulations, any video material needs to be classified – documentaries used to be exempt – especially if it might be considered unsuitable for children. At a cost, of course, meaning that if you were planning to release, say, a behemoth anniversary edition of Tobe Hooper‘s Texas Chain Saw Massacre you need to classify not only the feature but the trailers, TV-spots, any interview that includes clips from the feature etc. etc. – in short, running up a pretty hefty bill while trying to make us nerds salivate. This won’t be a problem for the majors – and this is the part where I’m really struggling not to believe the tin foil hat crowd – but it will strike a huge blow to the indies that are already in a tight spot financially.

This happened back in the 1980s as well when the Video Nasty hysteria hit the British Isles circa 1984 (oh, what a fitting year!) For a short while starting around 1979 and up to the mid-80s, cult classics like Lucio Fulci‘s Zombie Flesh-Eaters (released by VIPCO, natch!), Tobe Hooper’s 1974 chainsaw opus (that was banned from cinemas until 1999!) and Ruggero Deodato‘s Cannibal Holocaust etc. were readily available in UK video stores – completely uncensored – since the BBFC only had authority to classify theatrical releases. Long story short a lot of conservatives like MP Graham Bright and socialite Mary Whitehouse (who proudly announced on television that she, in fact, hadn’t seen any of these videos and didn’t need to in order to know they were harmful to children – never mind the fact they never were intended for children to being with) drummed up public outrage, newspapers like The Daily Mail and The Sunday Times added to the hysteria and soon The Video Recordings Act of 1984 was rushed through the House of Commons and came into effect in 1985.

The reason there is a lot of odd conspiracy theories regarding this sudden reaction seems to be Palace Pictures and their 1983 video release of Sam Raimi‘s 1981 Evil Dead. Run by young mavericks Stephen Woolley and Nik Powell, Palace focused on distributing not only horror and cult classics, but international art films as well (emulating Roger Corman‘s New World Pictures). Stephen himself has stated in interviews that the video release was the hit of the year, selling an estimated 50,000 copies at a sell-through of £40-£50, netting the “upstarts” a whopping £2-£2,5 million (approx. $3,2-$4,1 million) – earning them, as well as the VHS format, industry attention that in the end might’ve been what changed the market forever.

You see, as ludicrous as it may sound today, the majors’ attitude when it came to VHS was in essence that it was a joke. I wish I remember the gentleman’s name ’cause he is the film industry’s equivalent of Dick Rowe Decca Records‘ A&R man who forever earned his place in music history as the man who passed on The Beatles, telling Brian Epstein “Guitar groups are on their way out” – but he saw the video rental market as less than secondary and that the majors couldn’t be bothered with it. “People don’t wanna experience movies at home” was the (paraphrased) decree. With this move the majors opened up the market for the independents – as people did wanna watch movies at home and stores needed tons of product to supply them with – creating a golden opportunity for anyone with a bit of cash and enough chutzpah to go for it. Unless I’m completely misinformed one UK video label was in fact started up by an ex-plumber.

That all changed with the Video Recordings Act that brought down a lot of these smaller operations as they just couldn’t afford the fees that came with the now-mandatory classifications. The market “cleared up” and in its wake the majors and corporate video chains moved in. Conspiracy or not, that was the effect. Parallelling that some thirty years later, the new BBFC classifications fee is flat, meaning that both Universal and a UK indie label like Arrow Video – known for their amazing editions of both horror, cult and independent films that’s just crammed with bonus material – pays the same amount for having their releases cleared with the British censor. Even though the law goes into effect in May 2014, and we’ve yet to see how it will affect independent horror releases, Nucleus FilmsMarc Morris already stated that their 3-disc DVD box release of Jake West‘s 2010 documentary Video Nasties: The Definitive Guide will not be reissued as just reclassifying it would cost them somewhere between £6,000-£7,000 (approx. $9,800-$11,500) – making it too expensive to release and impossible to sell due to needing an unrealistically inflated price in order to recoup the costs. I urge you to get it now as it is mandatory viewing for any horror fan.

To sum it all up the new classification system is moot at best unless the UK government is planning to revert its whole country back to a pre-internet age where information wasn’t readily available at the click of a button. In Kirby Dick‘s 2006 documentary This Movie is Not Yet Rated, director John Waters says something along the lines of how futile censoring movies at all these days is since most teenagers in their curiosity have gone online to look up more outrageous violent and sexual content than their parents would like to believe or admit – or do they really think they’re doing their homework for that many hours a day? – and with physical formats in all honesty being a thing of the past that mostly us old farts cling to, I kinda draw the conclusion that it’ll only affect 1) those of legal age while 2) adding another nail in the coffin of the already-narrowing independent market of an already-narrowing, “assorted” content – but maybe that’s what these conservatives have been wanting for these past thirty years. Think of the children? Babysitter society.

More on the subject:
Ban the Sadist Videos Pt. 1 (top) and Pt. 2 here.
Draft Video Recordings Act 1984 (Exempted Video Works) Regulations 2014 here.
The BBFC online fee calculator here.
Video nasty (wiki) here.
Blue Underground‘s Discovering Evil Dead here.
Video Nasties: The Definitive Guide trailer here.
Pre-1984 uncensored UK VHS videos have a cult following and are popular among certain collectors. Called “pre-certs” they sometimes fetch impressive sums on eBay UK. Find ‘em here.

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Quijada

March 2, 2014

Well,  I finally got around to get a page on SoundCloud for my Call Me Greenhorn project, adding at least one song each from the over a dozen releases I did last year. As an added bonus I decided to upload the recently finished track Quijada from the coming Space Kitty 2000 album.

Also, make sure to check out Gorilla Film Magazine‘s debut podcast episode of The Bunker featuring Veronica Simmonds, Tim Dalling and BAFTA winning animator Mikey Please, with music by Keir Docherty, Jonathan Day and yours truly.

Give ‘em a spin at https://soundcloud.com/callmegreenhorn and spread the word! More teasers from the coming album:

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John Brito Films

February 25, 2014
copyright John Brito Films 2013

copyright John Brito Films 2013

It’s official: I am teaming up with John Brito Films to create the intro theme for his upcoming horror/sci-fi/fantasy web series. Demos were created and sent and now we’ve agreed on a concept and sound that works for what he envisioned.

Posted earlier on the official Facebook page, John made the following statement:

Heading towards the finishing line with episode 1 (“The Cellar”) of our horror/sci-fi/fantasy webseries! Retro-Dark-Wave-Elektro Genius Magnus Sellergren will compose the sound for our Webseries-Intro. Yeah!

The concept for the series looks awesome, John has assembled a great cast and crew and I am very thrilled to be involved in the process.

More info at http://www.johnbrito.net/ and http://johnbritoblog.com/

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R.I.P. Bob Casale

February 18, 2014

signed

So, this is turning out to be the day when we receive news of musical visionaries dying or what? Just found out via Rolling Stone Magazine that Devo guitarist Bob Casale passed away unexpectedly at the age of 61. Rumors state that he was found by his brother, but so far that’s just something I’ve seen posted on social medias, so take that bit of information with a grain of salt.

Other members were shocked by the news. His brother (and co-member) Gerard Casale offered the following statement:

As an original member of Devo, Bob Casale was there in the trenches with me from the beginning,” Gerald said in a statement. “He was my level-headed brother, a solid performer and talented audio engineer, always giving more than he got. He was excited about the possibility of Mark Mothersbaugh allowing Devo to play shows again. His sudden death from conditions that lead to heart failure came as a total shock to us all.

Rest in peace.

UPDATE: Lead vocalist Mark Mothersbaugh just released a short statement on both Mutato.com and Devo’s official Facebook page.

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R.I.P. Marty Thau

February 18, 2014

I’m sad to say that via Pitchfork I just found out that legendary producer – and founder of Red Star RecordsMarty Thau recently passed away at the age of 75. Starting out working in promotion for such labels as Cameo-Parkway Records and bubblegum pioneers Buddha Records in the 1960s, he managed The New York Dolls and started Red Star Records in the 70s – helping launch the careers of Suicide, Blondie, The Real Kids and The Ramones.

martyA true visionary, Marty was as passionate about music as the artists he worked with. When mid-70s New York started to rumble with the new vanguards of rock ‘n’ roll he was there to witness them at CBGB’s and Max’s Kansas City – and he saw it as the future, roughly 20 years ahead of the majority of the world I might add.

Although always keeping an eye out on the bottom line – he was a business man after all – he was never as motivated by money. “I’ve always believed that money shouldn’t be one’s motivator. If your creative instincts are superior to others then you’ll make all the money you’ll ever want” he stated in an interview with Frieda’s Whip, “Some disagree with that premise. I can only be guided by what I like and not what any marketing strategist tells me what the market wants.”

He will be missed.

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Wattie Buchan heart attack

February 15, 2014

Legendary street punk outfit The Exploited – that pretty much provided the soundtrack for my 1980s – made it official on their Facebook page that their tour has been cancelled after vocalist Wattie Buchan suffered a heart attack on stage during a gig in Lisbon this Thursday.

As shown in the fan footage, the band had to cut their gig short and take the lead singer off stage, after which he was reportedly immediately taken to hospital. The band was one week into the seven-month Tour of Chaos with Hatebreed and Napalm Death. More via STV News.

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R.I.P. Riz Ortolani

January 23, 2014

Oh man, today’s a sad day for all fans of Italian genre films. The word just started spreading on Facebook with this Italian article being shared, and now it has been confirmed by Bloody Disgusting.com that composer Riz Ortolani passed away in Rome at the age of 87.

With a most impressive list of credits to his name, genre fans will probably remember him for composing the score for Ruggero Deodato‘s infamous Cannibal Holocaust. R.I.P.

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