Saturday, 19 March 2011

...and all I got was this t shirt.

Tonight we unleash the dogs.

Well, not really dogs, more like shirts.
Not even "like" shirts, they are actual shirts.

For each film we screen at the Rio Cinema, we will release a shirt in celebration of that film.
All designs are hand illustrated by Mark Mitchell, the shirts are all hand printed with love and are strictly limited.
If they sell out on the night, that's the end of them. If there are any left over I will let people know via our twitter feed and on facebook, so get following and liking.

In honour of tonight's Ms. 45 screening, we proudly present:

White and red on black, with white and red sleeve print.
Only 30 printed, so you best make your way to the Rio if you want one.

Next month, we'll be screening Shogun Assassin... What magic will Mark bring? Only time will tell...

Saturday, 12 March 2011

Ms. 45 - Monthly Film Bulletin review by Kim Newman

Found, tucked in a box in Tony Paley's attic was this little gem, a cover story on the 1984 video release of our upcoming feature, Abel Ferrara's Ms. 45 - Angel of Vengeance. And so, culled from the pages of the BFI's long running Monthly Film Bulletin, since merged with Sight & Sound is Kim Newman's review:

Spoiler WARNING!

Ms. 45: Angel of Vengeance
U.S.A., 1980
Director: Abel Ferrara-

Thana, a mute girl who works as a seamstress in Manhattan's garment district, is attacked and raped by a masked thug while walking home. When she reaches her apartment, she finds it being rifled by a housebreaker who also tries to rape her. Defending herself with a paper weight and an electric iron, Thana kills him, then carves up the body and stores it in the fridge for gradual disposal. While on one of her dumping expeditions, she is accosted by a street punk whom she promptly shoots dead with the burglar's .45. Later, a pushy photographer tries to pick Thana up with hollow promises of a career in modelling, and she returns with him to his studio before shooting him. Thana's boss Albert and gay/feminist workmate Laurie become increasingly worried about her erratic behaviour and moodiness. By night, stalking the city in a whorish outfit, she continues her crusade, gunning down various sexists-a violent pimp, a kerb-crawling Arab, and a threatening street gang. While she is trying to execute a barfly who has been lamenting his wife's infidelity, Thana finds that the gun has jammed, whereupon the victim takes it from her and shoots himself. Albert prevails upon Thana to accompany him to a Halloween party, during which he intends to seduce her. He finds her gun concealed under a fancy dress nun's habit, and she shoots him. She proceeds to pick off all the men in the room, but is stopped when Laurie stabs her in the back. Unable to shoot a woman, she utters a single word ("sister") and dies.

While it is undeniably true that the splatter/nasty genre, in its treatment of female flesh as meat to be carved, tends to exhibit a particularly unpleasant brand of sadistic sexism, the form does contain possibilities for militant feminism unmatched even by the likes of A Question of Silence or Born in Flames. In I Spit on Your Grave, the leader of a gang of degenerate rapists is allowed to express to the heroine the theory that, by wantonly displaying her body, she has "asked for" her violation. His uncharacteristic intellectualising of the issue is immediately undercut by the most physical retort possible -the girl castrates him in the bath and leaves him bleeding to death. With The Driller Killer, his first feature, Abel Ferrara acknowledged the sexism of the splatter movie by explicitly avoiding it, presenting a psycho whose preferred victims were not desirable young women but undesirable old men. In Ms .45 (a film whose very title has proved too much for many audiences), Ferrara, aided by the presence of the extraordinary Zoe Tamerlis, gives a rigorously feminist reading of the always problematic revenge-for-rape genre. The film signals the seriousness with which it will tackle the subject in its treatment of the initial rapes. While the incidents are profoundly shocking, they horrify mainly because of their abruptness (at least in the currently available, slightly trimmed version) and the monstrosity of the performances. Ferrara, who appears as the first rapist under his Jimmy Laine pseudonym and pops up throughout the film in nightmare flashes as the incarnation of masculine evil, presents the two unconnected assailants as merely less restrained examples of the _ attitudes espoused, not only by the chattering street people who proposition every passing woman, but by the smooth-talking photographer, the paternally lecherous Albert, and the shoe salesman who proudly admits that he reacted to the discovery of his wife's bisexuality by strangling the cat. With such a relentless parade of unsympathetic male characters, the film has little need of explicit sexual violence to make its points. The complete absence of nudity, and the remarkably soft-pedalled violence, compare strikingly with I Spit on Your Grave-which drags out the rape sequence for over half its running time--or even with such mainstream, male-oriented versions of the same basic story as Hannie Caulder, Death Weekend and Sudden Impact.
A Polanski connection suggested by the decaying rabbit in The Driller Killer is furthered here by a few clutching hands and a body in the bath out of Repulsion, and by Tamerlis' resemblance to the Nastassia Kinski" of Tess. However, while Polanski cannot refrain from making fetishes of his striking heroines, Ferrara presents Tamerlis' Thana as a neutral figure whose power over her victims derives from her ability to inspire and then contradict their fantasies of femininity. In the case of the shoe salesman, who pours out the story of his marriage to the mute girl in a bar, the moment of Thana's failed attack on him coincides with his own dawning awareness of his shortcomings; hypnotised by her silent reproach, he acquiesces in his own execution. The usual escape clause in the genre has the raped woman turning into an avenger by assuming masculine qualities (Raquel Welch learning gunfighter skills in Hannie Caulder, Brenda Vaccaro exhibiting her un-womanly technical aptitude in Death Weekend, Sondra Locke competing with Clint Eastwood in Sudden Impact). But Ferrara has Thana become more seductively feminine in appearance as she transforms into a feminist vigilante. The reductio ad absurdum of this process-and indeed of the whole genre -finds Thana murdering such varied male stereotypes as Count Dracula, a cowboy and a drag bride, while incarnated as a furious, gun-toting nun.


We will be hosting a rare London screening of Ms. 45 at the Rio Cinema in Dalston on 19th March. You don't want to miss this!

(Extra thanks to Tony's lovely wife for the scans)

Saturday, 5 March 2011

Equinox and beyond...

What were you doing at age 17? Fast Forwarding through a VHS of Eurotrash to the saucy bits? Searching for a pub that ignored your fresh face and served you without ID? Or were you, like the makers of Equinox, applying the German holistic-art concept of gesamtkunstwerk to stop-motion animation? In 1962, accomplished pianist, student of classical literature, precocious little shit, and special effects enthusiast, David Muren joined an effects-nerd collective advertised in the back of influential American magazine Famous Monsters Of Filmland. Together with part time film journo Mark McGee and animator Dave Allen, Muren and gang experimented with various effects in their back garden for years. Honing their skills before finally deciding (via an injection of cash that was due to be spent on Mullen's education) to make the leap into making a full length feature.

Armed with a 16mm Bolex camera, a crew of friends and a script by cthulu-nut McGee they set out into the woods and over the next 2 and a half years of weekends, school holidays and light evenings, they filmed the story of a wholesome group of young kids who head out for a lovely day in the country, get given an evil book by a cackling old man (Mullen's Grandad), which then unleashes creatures from the very pits of hell. These hell-pit creatures were then constructed and lovingly animated in a makeshift studio in Mullen's dad's shed: making The Equinox... A Journey into the Supernatural, quite literally, a Backyard production.

Although intended as a way to exercise their special effects skills, and perhaps get a few bucks from a late night horror tv show, The Equinox... A Journey into the Supernatural was spotted by Jack H Harris, producer of The Blob, who saw the marketability of the kids vs. demons flick, and got his mate Jack Woods, a professional sound editor, to shoot some extra footage to pad out the film to a sell able length. He added and edited in a whole new plot line about a creepy mounted policeman, starring himself as the leering law man.
This new fuller version of the film had the title shortened to just Equinox and went on to be a success on the drive-in circuit.

While a little-watched film, Equinox's legacy is undeniable. Mullen went on to revolutionise special effects, working as visual effects supervisor on the Abyss, Terminator 2, and Jurassic Park and all pivotal films in the development of CGI, and shaping many of our childhoods, working on the visual effects for the proper Star Wars trilogy and E.T. He won 6 Oscars and is the only effects artist to have a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame. Dave Allen went on and had a career producing fantastic, and characterful, stop motion such as the little Batteries Not Included aliens, the Young Sherlock Holmes graveyard confectionery attack, the Puppet Master's puppets and the Demonic Toys. McGee carried on writing and directing genre fare such as Sorority Party Massacre II and Bad Girls From Mars.

Of the four main stars, only Frank Bonner, the slightly more devil-may-care male lead, carried on working in show business. He made himself a healthy acting career with various American TV sitcoms, including a regular gig as one of Screech's fellow teachers on Saved By The Bell: The New Class. Jack Woods went back to sound editing and ended up working on such sequels as Critters 2, Look Who's Talking Too and Naked Gun 2 1/2

But legacy: Schmagacy. Is this flick worth a watch or what?

Fuck yes.

Even if you are not charmed by the effects of yesteryear there is still tons to enjoy. The characters were obviously created by a bunch of bookish young men with little real world experience. The men in Equinox, tackle the increasingly bizarre situations with hilariously stoic good sense while the women are pretty young things who will wander off and get into trouble when there's not a man around to tell them what to do. Evil Dead fans will have a field day. With it's teenagers find necrotelecomunicony thing and unleash all manner of terrors plot, Equinox can easily be viewed as a prequel. Deadites will also see echoes of Sam Raimi's camera work in some of the scenes, most obviously in an early crucifix-related freakout scene early in the picture.

So, whether you want Evil Dead 0.5, a chance to see hoe today's top FX bods got started, or just an enjoyably clunky creature feature, Equinox will show you a good time.

Join us as we visit this classic tomorrow evening at the Mucky Pup.