Videodrome :: The Killing Of A Chinese Bookie

Considered a monumental flop at the time of its release, The Killing of a Chinese Bookie has since developed a vehement cult following. It’s widely regarded as one of John Cassavetes’ best films and Ben Gazzara’s greatest on-screen performance. Part of the delayed attraction may be that audiences have finally caught up to what Cassavetes was attempting to do. At a time when other American directors such as Coppola and Scorsese were releasing films that would serve as the consummate blueprint for future genre films, Cassavetes was already eradicating pre-conceived narrative standards and deconstructing archetypical characters, searching for the unaffected moments where these histrionic gangsters and gamblers could be vulnerable, flawed, and resolutely human.

Videodrome :: Urgh! A Music War

Released in May 1982, Urgh! A Music War is one of the most salient artifacts from the musical movement that would later be dubbed “new wave.” Clocking in at just over two hours and featuring over thirty live performances, the anthological concert film showcases artists in their prime as well as their infancy.

Videodrome :: Doctor Death (1989)

Doctor Death isn’t your typical Halloween fare. More sci-fi than horror, it’s a post-apocalyptic Super 8 film from 1989, made by a teenaged Webster Colcord and starring his friends and family. Featuring homemade special effects that would make Rick Baker or Tom Savini smile, the nuclear fallout has dissipated as our titular anti-hero cruises around in his tricked-out school bus, tossing chemical bombs out the window, terrorizing anyone (or anything — poor dog) unfortunate enough to cross his path.

Videodrome :: Deadlock (1970)

A mysterious longhaired man in a tattered suit is stumbling his way through a barren and blazing-hot landscape. He’s been shot in the arm. The sun is cooking him alive. In one hand is a gun, in the other is a metal suitcase. Inside the suitcase? A bunch of money and a vinyl record by the cosmic rock trailblazers CAN. This is the opening scene for 1970’s Deadlock, the second feature-length film by the underrated West German auteur Roland Klick, and a movie that not only features a soundtrack by CAN, but also manages to incorporate that music into its cryptic storyline.

Videodrome :: Jammin’ The Blues (1944)

Produced underneath the guidance of Verve Records founder, Norman Granz, Jammin’ The Blues was released on May 5th, 1944. Granz’s objective was to showcase the top jazz musicians of the day and shed light on the shifting musicality of the genre, which had begun transitioning away from the populous swing arrangements of big bands in favor of smaller groups experimenting with rhythm & blues and free form improvisations.

Videodrome :: Cold Eye | Helmut Newton & Jun Ropé

(Welcome to Videodrome. A recurring column plumbing the depths of vintage and contemporary cinema – from cult, exploitation, trash and grindhouse to sci-fi, horror, noir, documentary and beyond.)

In 1980, German-Australian photographer, Helmut Newton, partnered with Japanese fashion brand Jun Ropé to direct Cold Eye…offering a rare glimpse into an alternative reality where Newton transitions from photographer to director, producing orphic films that straddle the line between the worlds of Alain Resnais and Peter Greenaway.

Videodrome :: Straight to Hell (1987)

Using most of the standard yardsticks employed for cinematic evaluation, Straight to Hell isn’t a good movie. You could look at it as an indulgent, half-assed waste of time, money and talent — an excuse for a bunch of friends to hang out in Spain, drink wine and play cowboys and bandits. But if you tilt your head ever so slightly, you can also see this haphazard homage to spaghetti westerns as a gloriously bizarre, metatextual experiment wherein some of the greatest artists of the 1980s got together to make a DIY, punk rock movie about coffee, cigarettes and American intervention.

Videodrome :: Time Bandits

Videodrome. A recurring column plumbing the depths of vintage and contemporary cinema – from cult, exploitation, trash and grindhouse to sci-fi, horror, noir, documentary and beyond.

Now showing: Terry Gilliam’s 1981 fantasy-adventure Time Bandits — the first installment in his “Trilogy Of Imagination” series…

Videodrome :: Last Year At Marienbad

Welcome to Videodrome. A recurring column plumbing the depths of vintage and contemporary cinema – from cult, exploitation, trash and grindhouse to sci-fi, horror, noir, documentary and beyond.

Now showing: Last Year at Marienbad — a film without a home. It exists within a grey area of European cinema, which further complicates comparative analysis.

Videodrome :: Half-Cocked

Is anything more 90s than a movie where Tara Jane O’Neil plays the sister of Ian Svenonius, steals his van and equipment, goes on tour with her friends and learns how to be in a functioning indie rock band? Bear in mind, this movie features a Matador-released soundtrack that features the likes of Unwound, Slant 6, Versus, Smog, Kicking Giant, Codeine, Polvo, the list goes on. As you might guess, it’s not a big movie. It’s not a blockbuster. It’s Half-Cocked.