Monthly Archives: September 2009

Freak of the Week: Banana Street

Ideally, our Freak of the Week feature is related to a face-melting movie and tied to an upcoming screening.  But the Internets are a fascinating series of tubes with their own brand of freakish videos too good to pass up.  And often these come from Japanese television.

A Japanese riff on Sesame Street‘s Bert and Ernie, Banana Street has made the viral video rounds at least once or twice before, but its creepiness is timeless.  It’s also further proof that Bert is evil.

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Revisited: Freddy’s Nightmares

by Tony Nigro

I love a scary movie as much as the next nerd who uses the word “superhero” in a URL — maybe more.  Interest in the genre began in my junior high years, the midst of the 1980s slasher franchise trend when Freddy and Jason ruled all and straight-to-video cheapies were bountiful.   With that kind of training, I quickly overcame childhood fears and dove in for all the blood and guts I could.   Then came Freddy’s Nightmares.

A Nightmare on Elm Street spin-off, Freddy’s Nightmares was an anthology series in the tradition of The Twilight Zone and the Tales from the Crypt comics.  In place of Rod Serling or the Crypt Keeper stood Freddy Krueger, killer of children, offering witty asides and on occasion participating in the story.  The show ran two seasons from 1988-1990, airing in Los Angeles in a late night slot on KHJ channel 9 (now KCAL).  The stories were like TV for the blind, a show-and-tell Scooby-Doo approach that led you by the nose from shock to shock.  The production value was as corny as Freddy’s one-liners. And the show scared the crap out of me.

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The Long Arm of the Law

by Lewis Manalo

Looks like Roman Polanski has finally been arrested after jumping bail nearly 30 years ago. And he’s been arrested by the Swiss. According to the Guardian, Polanski “was detained at immigration in Zurich on Saturday night at the request of the US justice department and was in custody awaiting extradition.”

Everyone agrees that the timing is strange. Evidence that his case was mishandled came out last year with the release of Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired, and even the victim of his crime, who was 13 years old when Polanski had sex with her, wants Polanski’s case to be dismissed.

One thing’s for sure for this Holocaust survivor, widower, criminal, and filmmaker: life is certainly interesting.

Freak of the Week: Machine Girl

by Tony Nigro

Noboru Iguchi’s Machine Girl on DVD certainly delivers on its fetish of a promise: a one-armed schoolgirl and her MILF sidekick whooping a whole lot of ass.  Although my taste for culty ultraviolence has waned over the years, I appreciated the movie’s absurd take on snowballing revenge — that is, revenge upon revenge upon revenge.  It plays out as a minor step toward the climax, when our heroes battle the Super Mourner Gang, comprised of parents of some of the children they killed.

Machine Girl is available on DVD from Tokyo Schock.

Pre-Make Mash-up

by Lewis Manalo

This isn’t real, but it’s fun. And what more can you expect these days?

(Yes, that’s right. I put two hyphenates in the title.)

1,006 Words: Charade

Charade (1963)

Put your lips together and blow.

Fucking Trash Humpers

by Tony Nigro

I have to admit a crude fascination with Harmony Korine and his movies, despite the facts that I 1) don’t enjoy watching them, 2) am turned off by his self-mythologizing and elusive bio, and 3) lost my taste for provocateurs a while back.  But I do love a good trainwreck, and Korine’s work usually amounts to that, intentional or not.  The trailer for his latest, Trash Humpers, and Dennis Lim’s Cinema Scope piece about it, intrigue me less for the characters’ effed-up antics and more for the bargain basement video look Korine nails down.

Video signal and decay were a brief obsession of mine in 2006, when I worked alone at night and went insane seeing the Stan Brakhage-like qualities of component video decay — the same type of trails seen at the beginning and end of the above trailer.  This is a strictly analog-only effect, which is to say that the slow-but-sure full digitization of video will eventually render them as outdated as the pops, hisses and scratches of a vinyl LP — or scratches on film.

Korine seemingly went this way to enhance the crap aesthetic of Trash Humpers, but I can’t help thinking of the BBC experiment in which the 13-year-old traded his iPod for a Walkman and went three days before realizing he could turn over a cassette tape.  Put in that light, the look of Korine’s film is no longer trashy.  It’s antique.