Category Archives: mp3

Cannibal Holocaust, Riz Ortolini, Exploitation & Video Nasties

One of the (if not the) most notorious exploitation films of all time, Cannibal Holcaust (directed by Ruggero Deodata) was banned in several countries upon its theatrical and subsequent video releases. The splendidly named Deodata was arrested in his homeland of Italy and charged with obscenity of making a ‘snuff’ film, a situation he brought upon himself by allowing viewers to believe that the film was actually a documentary on a tragic Jungle expedition.

Wiki has a rather good article on the film, and here is some of it;

Cannibal Holocaust (1980) is a controversial exploitation film directed by Ruggero Deodato and is based on a screenplay written by Gianfranco Clerici and Giorgio Stegani. Filmed in the Amazon Rainforest, it focuses on a team of four documentarians who head deep into the jungle to make a documentary on the primitive native tribes that live there. After two months and no word from the team, a famous anthropologist is sent on a rescue mission in hopes of finding the team alive. The film stars Robert Kerman as the anthropologist Harold Monroe, Carl Gabriel Yorke as director Alan Yates, Francesca Ciardi as Alan’s girlfriend Faye, Perry Pirkanen as the cameraman Jack Anders, and Luca Barbareschi as fellow cameraman Mark Tomaso.

Cannibal Holocaust is one of the best known exploitation films due to the controversy it caused upon its release. After premiering in Italy, the film was seized by the local Magistrate and Deodato was arrested for obscenity. He was later accused of making a snuff film based on circulating rumors that the film’s actors were slain for the camera. Though Deodato would be cleared of these charges, the film was banned in Italy, the UK, Australia, and several other countries for graphic gore, sexual violence, and for the genuine slayings of six animals featured in the film. While many nations have revoked the ban, it is still banned to this day in other countries around the world. Despite this notoriety, Cannibal Holocaust is seen by some critics as a social commentary on civilized society.“

When VHS top-loading videos were the thing to have in the early 80s, we were lucky enough to get one (rented, from Granda Rentals, because they cost about £500 to buy in 1982). The scene was set, one Friday evening in October, for my mother to go to the local Video Rental shop ‘Replay’ in Fazeley, and rent out a couple of videos (after paying the £25 joining fee, which entitled you to the first 2 rentals for free, as I recall – after that, rentals were £2.50 each). Their was palapable excitement as we waited for my mum to reveal what she had rented. She produced 2 brick sized VHS cases, with blank blue covers. On the spines were typed

Clash of the Titans (A)
Cannibal Holocaust (X)

This was in the days of the old ‘U’, ‘A’, ‘AA’ and ‘X’ film ceritifications – see the link;
Film certification 1970-1982

so we (me, brother, sister) knew we were going to watch Clash of the Titans, and that was it. As a 12 year old at the time, I wasnt going to get to watch an X rated film. I dont really know what made Cannibal Holocaust appeal to my mother (she seems such an innocent soul);

Anyway, that cover used to haunt me as I went around the aisles and viewed the display cabinets at ‘Replay’ and the several other Video rental shops (and one video rental van) in and around Tamworth, Staffs in the early to mid eighties. My mum said that she couldnt watch the film because it wasn’t ‘what she had expected’ (???). That just added to the intrigue. When, in 1984, the Video Recordings Act took Cannibal Holocaust (and many other ‘Video Nasties’) from the rental shops, it only made its murky glamour ever more appealing.

I finally got to watch the film in 1998, when, at a car boot sale in Buckinghamshire, I chanced upon a man selling reasonable bootlegs of all the Video Nasties, with the original cover art (in washed out photocopy colour). I purchased Cannibal Holocaust and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and got a typed-up list of all the goodies he sold, a list over several pages long. He did mail order, £5 per film. I got a couple more videos via the post, including a grainy copy of Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2, but then he never got back to me when I requested Clockwork Orange and The Beyond. Never found out what happened to him. It is amazing to think that only 10 years ago this was how you had to go about obtaining a relatively gory horror film. It seems like it could be than 50 years ago when you look at how the internet has revolutionised how you obtain films, either through the likes of play.com and amazon, through to torrent sites and youtube and other video hosting sites.

Anyway, I watched the film. Some parts were pretty repulsive (the animal death and cruelty scenes are horrendous, and Deodata has since admitted in an interview (that was bundled as an extra on a DVD release of the film) that he regrets including these scenes. Apart from that, the film is brutal, exciting and very gory. There is an atmosphere of dread and desperation within the film, and inevitability as the cast meet their fates.

Critical response to the film is mixed;

Critics remain split on their stances of Cannibal Holocaust. Supporters of the film cite it as serious and well-made social commentary on the modern world. Mike Bracken called it one of the greatest horror movies ever filmed, and also stated, “Viewers looking for a film that’s powerful, visceral, and disturbing have a new title to add to their must-see list.” Sean Axmaker praised the structure and set up of the film, saying, “It’s a weird movie with an awkward narrative, which Deodato makes all the more effective with his grimy sheen of documentary realism, while Riz Ortolani’s unsettlingly lovely, elegiac score provides a weird undercurrent.”Jason Buchanan of All Movie Guide said, “…while it’s hard to defend the director for some of the truly repugnant images with which he has chosen to convey his message, there is indeed an underlying point to the film, if one is able to look beyond the sometimes unwatchable images that assault the viewer.”

Detractors, however, counter with the genuine animal slayings, questionable acting, and hypocrisy that the film presents. Nick Schager criticized the brutality of the film, saying, “As clearly elucidated by its shocking gruesomeness — as well as its unabashedly racist portrait of indigenous folks it purports to sympathize with — the actual savages involved with Cannibal Holocaust are the ones behind the camera.” Schager’s racism argument is supported by the fact that the real indigenous peoples in Brazil whose names were used in the movie — the Yanomamo and Shamatari — are not fierce enemies as portrayed in the movie, nor is either tribe truly cannibalistic (although the Yanomamo do partake in a form of post-mortem ritual cannibalism).

Robert Firsching of All Movie Guide made similar criticisms of the film’s content and claimed that the “…pie-faced attempts at socially conscious moralizing make it rather distasteful morally as well. The fact that the film’s sole spokesperson for the anti-exploitation perspective is played by porno star Richard Bolla should give an indication of where its sympathies lie.” Slant Magazine’s Eric Henderson said it is “…artful enough to demand serious critical consideration, yet foul enough to christen you a pervert for even bothering.”

Cannibal Holocaust currently has a 57% rotten rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with an average rating of 4.7.[20] The film came 8th on IGN’s Top 10 Grindhouse films.“

(taken from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cannibal_Holocaust#Critical_response)

The mention of Riz Ortalinis “unsettlingly lovely, elegiac score” brings me onto that very thing – the theme tune for the film. Ortalini is an Italian film composer, whose work includes the soundtrack for Mondo Cane (a documentary film that consists of a series of travelogue-vignettes that provide (the intended) Western audience with a shocking glimpse into cultural practices around the world). In some respects, it could be said that Mondo Cane was an influence on Deodata and his making of Cannibal Holocaust. His work has also been used by Tarantino, in the excellent Soundtracks for Kill Bill.

Here it is, in all its unsettling loveliness;

Cannibal Holocaust Main Theme – Riz Ortalini

and here is the trailer for the film;

Links

Full Wiki entry on the film

Riz Ortolani info

Mondo Cane info

A few years ago David Kerekes (of Headpress) and David Slater produced a book that explores the history of death on film, and there is a section on Cannibal Holocaust in there. It’s fascinating and well worth tracking down – amazon have it;

By the way – do snuff films actually exist?

Finally, if you are at all interested in the curious witch hunt that got Britain in a state about some (mainly bland or bad) horror films, you should check out John Martins’ book, “The Seduction of the Gullible: Curious History of the British “Video Nasties””. Its been reprinted twice, but is currently out of print, but you can find copies out on ebay or amazon. He also released a sequel, but the book I have mentioned remains definitive.

There are also some good resources on the internet for this curious slice of British History;

Wiki entry for Video Nasties

Critical Film analysis

The Video Nasties furore detailed

The brilliant Melon Farmers site gives an account of the Video Nasties saga

and absolutley it seems as if even now, in 2008, when we are hardened to the graphic ‘torture porn’ of the likes of ‘Saw’, ‘Hostel’, ‘Vacancy’ and ‘Paradise Lost’, someone has not forgotten about the good old days….

The video nasty debate rears its ugly head again

Radiohead – In Rainbows

So we know that Radiohead released an album a few days ago, and you could buy it for FREE. After about 10 minutes of deliberating I paid a fiver for it (the average, apparently, is £4). This isn’t a review, but I think it’s the best thing they have done since OK Computer. Previous to last week, I thought they would never better Kid A with a new release (especially after ‘Hail To The Thief’ which i purchased and ignored once I had got bored of listening to ‘2+2=5’). This album is more about presenting a strong set of tunes, ditching some (not all) of the studio trickery and sheer bloodymindedness that characterised their previous noughties output. Thom Yorke sounds energised, which is good news for the band, the listener and the album. I have played it constantly over the last few days, and if you are a Radiohead fan, then pay a reasonable sum into their online ‘honesty box’ and download it, because it bridges the gaps between all their previous work, and all the moods of Radiohead, into a satisfying, coherent set of songs.

I love it. Thanks Radiohead.

Drowned in Sound have a lively messageboard devoted to the question ‘How much did you pay?’;

Drowned in Sound

Here is the Radiohead site;

DEAD AIR SPACE

Here’s where you get ‘in rainbows’;

in rainbows

modpoppunk archive!

A quick post to tell of a fantastic site I have been visiting in the last couple of days. It’s French (going by the domain) but all in English, and describes itself as;

Welcome to The ModPopPunk Archives!
This web site feature Mod ’79-Power Pop-Punk Pop ’77 bands biographies, discographies, line-ups…
Loads of picture sleeves,bands pix, sounds, links. The bands listed here were active between mid 70s to mid 80s .

There are lots of resources here, with biographies, pictures and mp3s to play, plus many, many links. If you are into power pop, punk, mod or music in general from the late 70s / early 80s, this is a must see site, so check it out here; the punkmodpop archive

Police Woman Intro – 1974

A groundbreaking television show – a 40-something female cop (played by the brilliant Angie Dickinson) in a very male environment, probably paved the way for the likes of late seventies shows such as Charlies Angels.

Wiki entry for Police Woman

For me, it’s all about that theme tune, which is up there with the best. A track thats been used several times over the years (RZA used it on Masta Killas brilliant ‘No Said Date’ album).

There’s a nice blog out there by a guy in Macedonia, and it’s called Lazars Lounge. On it, he has a few Henry Mancini theme tunes as mp3’s. Well worth a look;

Lazars Lounge – mp3 of Police Woman

One of the sites I link to , Diddy Wah, has the theme in a ‘disco’ mix, though I don’t think its neccesarily very disco (although it (Police Woman Theme) seems to get labelled as lounge as well, which I don’t think is appropriate.

Diddy Wahs disco mix (with Police Woman Theme)

As an aside, there’s a review of some of Mancinis work, and a whole glut of excellent soundtrack archiving (with some mp3’s to check out), here;

scorebaby.com

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

He Who Dares, Rodney


Another May Day Bank Holiday has come and gone. Didn’t do a lot, to be honest, but it got me thinking again about May 5th, 1980. That was a Bank Holiday Monday. It was also the day the Iranian Embassy siege came to its bloody end, and the Special Air Service (SAS) became etched into the British Public consciousness. The fantastic BBC website covers the story with its usual style and grace;

BBC websites account of the siege

My memories of the end of the siege are still quite vivid. This was pre-24 hour rolling news coverage, so an ITN newsflash (which always interrupted the usual/mundane programming with its harsh blue background announcing ‘News Flash’) was an event, and enough to fill young boys with excitement and dread. The footage of the SAS going in to the embassy accompanied by bangs, flashes, smoke and gunfire was watched by my family accompanied by ice creams all round, as the ice cream van man was a nightly occurence, and an event in itself. Obviously I dont want to trivialise the bravery of the SAS or the seriousness of the siege (the hostage takers killing a hostage had initiated the SAS response), but the rum and raisin cornetto I was eating that night added to the cinematic atmosphere. It was very exciting.

After that night of heroics, the SAS were (reluctantly) all over the media. Not much was known about them, and the surface was only really scratched on who they were, what they did etc. Inevitably, a film was made about the SAS, loosely based on the Iranian Embassy Siege. Released in 1982, ‘Who Dares Wins’ told the story of a commando with the SAS who infiltrates a radical political group who are planning a terrorist operation against American dignitaries. Lewis Collins plays the lead role, and equips himself well enough (he’ll always have a store of goodwill for his part in ‘The Professionals’. The movie climaxes with the SAS taking out the hostages and rescuing the hostages, with the action based on the events of May 1980.

Lewis Collins. I found out that he was also in a 60’s group with Klaus Voorman, who was one of the Beatles mates and designed the cover of ‘Revolver’ for them;

Lewis Collins at IMDB

I think he should be geting the same amount of respect (and work) as his buddy in The Professionals, Martin Shaw, but he doesn’t. Maybe it was the wrong career moves (he ended up in Italy in the mid eighties making classic video trash like Commanddo Leopard & Operation Wild Geese).

The theme tune was composed by Roy Budd, a Brtish composer probably most famous for the soundtrack to ‘Get Carter’. The theme to It is a fast, furious, funky number, and a credit to the composer, and, in my opinion, a lot better than the film. See what you think.

Roy Budd – Who Dares Wins Theme

Every Day Of The Week


We should be getting the final few episodes of The Sopranos sometime over the next few months. As it is something I have been watching avidly since the turn of the century, I have mixed emotions about the fact. Its a bit like when you get a huge book on holiday that is really good and you really don’t want it to end, and when it does you wish there were a couple of hundred more pages that could appear NOW so you can continue….

The end of The Sopranos. How exactly will it end? I don’t even want to think about it. There are going to be some deaths for sure. Now, one of the (many) wonderful things about the show is how they use music. I remember the opening shots of the second season, where we catch up with the activities of Tony Soprano and his ‘families’ – all set to the music of Frank Sinatra singing “It Was A Very Good Year”. I thought that was fabulous and went out the next day to purchase my one and only Frank Sinatra album, “The September Of My Years”.

At the end of an episode from the first half of this last season (episode no.70 overall) “Mr. & Mrs. John Sacrimoni Request”, there is a vibrant doo-wop number running over the closing credits. Its all the more startling as the episode has just ended with Tony Soprano beating one of his gang members, and then going to the toilet to vomit from the exertion of it. The song is called ‘Every Day Of The Week’ by The Students. I love the song. It’s also good to know that Julian Cope loves the song too;

http://www.headheritage.co.uk/unsung/review/219

So there you have it. I think Julian Cope writes like a poet, and I applaud his taste in doo-wop, which tends to be marginalised nowadays, yet has some of the most life affirming elements of r&b and rock & roll, and has produced some outstanding, timeless tracks (‘Why Do Fools Fall In Love’, ‘In The Still Of The Night’). I hope you will agree that this piece of music is amongst the best doo-wop. It reminds me of being young and happy.

The Students – Every Day Of The Week (you need real player to play it)