Monday, May 30, 2011

The Count

We had Dracula auditions here at the Cavalcade this afternoon, for the all-cat rendition. It will be a musical, of course. Who wore it better?



Or Moochie

You decide!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Dear Glenn,

Dear Glenn, thank you for letting us come to your show tonight. It was nice to see you when I wasn't staggering through a blackout, as is so often the case when I've come to see you in the past. A good time was had by my company and myself and I happened noticed several things in my lucid state.

People still really like 'MOTHER.' I think everyone paid thirty bucks just to see you guys do that one. They also really like the stuff off Danzig I. But why wouldn't they? It's your best stuff as Danzig and you guys should totally do one of those tours where you play Danzig I in its entirely.

I also noticed that as you sweat, your hair is really thinning. It's almost to Crypt Keeper levels. But I commend you for still rocking the long hair. I'm quite disappointed though, that you didn't wear the black fishnet shirt. You opted for a more conservative black muscle tee. I suppose the mesh isn't as flattering these days. So be that.

Your fans these days have the collective IQ of negative five. The crowd was almost at a Slayer-fan-level IQ. Almost. We did meet a charming gentleman outside who just recently, as in before the show, discovered you used to sing for The Misfits. We acted way too cool and didn't dignify that one with a response. I also made friends with a seventeen year old in a tuxedo that had left his date at the prom to come see you. That is dedication. How his date felt about it, I've no idea.

I still really like CIRCLE OF SNAKES. I liked it back in 2005 and I like it still. That chorus on 'BLACK ANGEL/WHITE ANGEL' is pretty fucking awesome. I don't even consider it a guilty pleasure, but a real one. I do not, however, really want to see any of the songs off DETH RED SABAOTH performed live again. They are okay on the record and I was about to say this was a return to form of sorts for you, but then I heard these live (and sober). I'll still listen to the record. But reconsider that Danzig I tour, would ya?

It was also interesting to hear of your food choices, as my friend works for the catering services at the venue, and I am very interested in these sorts of things. I heard you had chicken and broccoli and the only stipulation on your food rider was no seafood. I guess you are from Lodi and there isn't really good seafood in Jersey. Makes sense. It was also fun to hear that you were the first one to the catering line, as my friend said the headliners don't usually come down to eat until after the openers. You were first in line. You need a full tummy to perform well. I understand that.

I AM DEMON is a great song for an encore. Thanks for not being predictable and making MOTHER the encore. SHE RIDES would have been another excellent choice.

Again, thanks for letting us come. I know you're like in your mid-fifties now and shit, but this Danzig line-up is pretty solid, way more solid than the current incarnation of the Misfits. I know both bands have been more brand that band for over a decade or so now, but at least you still seem somewhat serious and still committed. The last time I saw the Misfits, everything was sped up to unrecognizable levels and Jerry's ego overtook the room. But I'm sure you grow weary of hearing about Jerry's exploits of late, even though you and Doyle are still on good terms. Think about maybe doing SKULLS again next time, since you performed it in 2005 on the CIRCLE OF SNAKES tour. Which was awesome.

Love, Jenn

P.S. I know you probably don't remember, but I met you on that '05 tour and you were just as everyone describes. Interpret that as you may.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

The Bat People

Read carefully. If you have the following symptoms or have found yourself in the some of the following situations, you may be well on your way to becoming one of THE BAT PEOPLE.

1. You've recently found yourself trapped in a cavern because your wife wanted to have sex with you in said cavern but you fell down and got bit by a bat instead.

2. After the bat bite incident, you and the wife continue with your honeymoon, which is peppered by insane blackouts and lots of skiing.

3. You feel the need to deliver a very campy performance when going into the rabid blackouts.

4. You are experiencing fever dreams where a couple in an abandoned truck is dry humping each other, but the tryst is cut short abruptly when the male of the couple ejaculates prematurely in his pants and then you go smash a mannequin.

5. You must change jackets with more frequency than necessary.

6. You befriend a hobo, and because of your medical background, you fix his broken hand. After fixing his broken hand, you kill him.

7. You think you are actually turning into a bat person, but it remains ambiguous because it could be taking place ALL IN YOUR MIND. Fits of insanity may occur.

8. You steal an ambulance, lead the police on a high speed chase, and crash the ambulance after the hobo abuse.

9. You have sex while turning into a bat monster. Maybe. Because it might be all in your mind.

10. You father a possible bat child and have an undying need to spend time in caves.

11. Your hand keeps turning into a bat claw and your wedding ring keeps falling off.

If you haven't experienced any of these behaviors, you're probably not a bat person. But you could be. IN YOUR MIND.

Okay, my only complaints with this movie:

1. More bat people sex, intoned or full on.

2. More on-screen human-to-bat-person transformations.

3. More hobos.

4. More undying bat love.

That is all.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Spider Baby

It's oftentimes hard for me to write about something I really love. It's also hard to write about something everyone else really loves too. What can I say that hasn't been said previously and said better? What can I add to the conversation besides my undying love? It's a lot like this with Jack Hill's SPIDER BABY (1964). I've loved this film for years, yet never written about it or really had a good conversation about it with like-minded folks. Case in point, I've never put it into words why I love it so much. I just know that I adore it, with out really flushing out why.

The film came to me years ago. My friend, Rachel, had the shirt of the now common (to me and other film fans) poster art but had bought it movie unseen. It was a kickass shirt and she just liked the art work. Now I usually equate this behavior as poseur-ish, like painting band names on your leather jacket when you're not really a fan of the band, or haven't even really heard the band. But there's a lot to be said about aesthetics, and if something speaks to you aesthetically, why not rock it? So yeah, I saw this shirt and was like, wow, that seems cool. Maybe one day I'll check that movie out.

Years later, I bought a big lot of VHS films from eBay. Having forgot about Rachel's shirt, SPIDER BABY was among some of the fifty odd movies I procured in that lot. I can't recall when I actually first saw it, but I loved it from that moment. It was such an interesting little thing, with the sum of its parts (outstanding performances, dark humor, outlandish scenarios, Psycho-homages, etc.) making it great. Why isn't this up there with midnight movie brethren?

SPIDER BABY tells the story of the Merrye family, Virginia (Jill Banner), the youngest sister who fancies herself a spider and eats bugs, Elizabeth (Beverly Washburn), the middle child and the most 'normal' of the bunch, and Ralph (Jack Hill regular Sid Haig), as the oldest and strangest member of the clan. You see, the children suffer from Merrye Syndrome, defined by the Encyclopedia of Rare Peculiar diseases, as a progression deterioration of the mental faculties, a rotting of the mind. The older they get, the more they regress into infantile dementia, thus resulting in strange behavior, not limited to cannibalism. It's all an unfortunate side effect of inbreeding and these three kids are the last of the clan. Bruno (Lon Chaney, Jr. in one of his last roles) is the family chauffeur turned guardian of the clan and swore to the children's father, Titus, he would care for them until their dying day.

While psychotic and sociopathic (the kids often kill people that come by the house with seemingly no remorse - take for instance, a hapless delivery man just coming to deliver a letter - Virginia traps him in her spider web and 'stings' him with two butcher knives), the Merrye family is intrinsically likable. They're quirky and strange, Ralph reminds you of Schlitze the Pinhead, but that doesn't mean you don't root for them. You see, after we meet them Merryes, distant cousins Peter and Emily (played perfectly by ice queen bitch from HOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL, Carol Ohmart), have arrived to take over guardianship of the children and sell the house for a great profit. Titus, although insane, was quite wealthy and Emily wants to cash in on this for her own gain.

When threatened by these outsiders, the Merrye family does what they have to, which is frighten and kill and seduce these distant family members so their world can remain as is. The family is close knit and they could just go on about their business eating cats and playing with tarantulas, but 'normal' society had to step in. I just can't help thinking the entire time these people, who are supposed to be family, need to leave the Merryes the fuck alone. You feel for them, even if they are murderous cannibals. But somehow that never even figures into the equation. They're lovable psychos and you love them just as Bruno does.

Speaking of Bruno, Chaney brings this totally ingratiating-ness (is that a word? oh well, it is here) that's hard not to feel sadness towards. He loves those kids, even though he can't control them and his word is as good as his honor. Chaney was definitely on his last legs here, riddled by alcoholism and looking pretty long in the tooth, but I'd wager to say this is one of his best performances, albeit it, a lesser known one. I read somewhere he didn't touch a drop of booze for the eleven days they were filming SPIDER BABY, but the night the film wrapped he and Jack Hill stayed up until the four in the morning getting plastered.

Sid Haig is just as wonderful. He's very young here and almost disappears into his role. He's not one of those guys you normally think of as someone that can really bring any character to life, he's so recognizable. But here, he's straight out of FREAKS, is mute, and is absolutely perfect as Ralph, the most-gone of the Merrye clan.
The performances from the girls are just as great - Virginia (Jill Banner) is creepy, seductive, flirtatious, and dangerous all rolled into one, and Elizabeth (Beverly Washburn) is just as sinister, if not completely polite, but with a total darkness to her. It's a shame Jill Banner didn't go on to do more. I think she would have been a hit on the B-movie circuit.

The performances are dead on and the whole things sounds morbid and disturbing, but is actually quite darkly comic. I'd love to see this one with an audience and see when and where the movie elicits laughter. Ralph, for sure, would garner a few chuckles based on appearance alone.

SPIDER BABY, made four years after PSYCHO, contains plenty of similarities, although you wouldn't think such immediately about a black comedy about cannibalism and rare diseases. From the rotting Victorian mansion on a hill where outsiders come to ultimately perish, to the father's corpse rotting in a bedroom and referred to as alive, to the warped family values, SPIDER BABY owes a something of a debt to Hitchcock's film. I don't know whether the homage is intentional, since the movie was written and shot at a breakneck pace, but it's there.

I might not have totally done this thing justice, as I'm sure there are more points of discussion. Please feel free to expound upon them in the comments.