Cretins, “Cretins EP” 7-inch

Posted in hardcore, punk, vinyl on December 2nd, 2014 by Nick – Be the first to comment
cover - cretinsIt's become something of a cliche to say that a band has stripped away all the excess and reduced songs to just the necessary pieces. At first listen, Richmond's Cretins seem to be reductive, but when you listen, you realize that they've stripped away nothing but the pauses. Cuts like "Piss On Your Pieces" and "Last Path" demonstrate this pretty effectively, as they open each side with a blast of hardcore, blowing out of your speakers with an intensity that frightens. Whereas any other band would let their guitars feed back a little, generating a little anticipation before launching into the next verse or iteration of the chorus, Cretins chooses instead to cut everything short, and just power ahead. The collective effect is to result in an EP which takes Motorhead's speed and uses it to funnel the no-frills gutteral hate of old-school hardcore directly into your head. Let's be honest: this could have been "Tunnel Vision" as a postcard flexi, and I would've played it 'til it disintegrated. The way the breakdown loops and returns a couple of times in its fading seconds makes this the most mosh-worthy song of the last few years. It's a pretty amazing throwback jam Cretins have created here, right down to the absolutely terrible artwork which graces the cover. Punk rock pointillism is certainly unique, but it's like looking at some underground east coast band's single from the late '80s. I almost expected the cover art to be photocopied. It's even got the lyrics on the inside of the sleeve. You need this, so snag it from the Grave Mistake store.

Podcast #122, “Holiday Hangover”

Posted in podcast, soundtracks on December 1st, 2014 by Nick – Be the first to comment
3 Turkey wine illustration It's so very cold, I'm so very busy, and these songs have been sitting, waiting for someone to do something with them for so very long. It's a mix of film score and assorted other instrumental bits, pieced together to sooth you after a weekend chock full of family, hectic shopping, and food. Podcast #122, "Holiday Hangover" Jerry Goldsmith - Capricorn One - "Break Out" Calexico - The Black Light - "Minas De Cobre (For Better Metal)" Gianni Ferrio - Djurado - "Djurado No. 9" Ennio Morricone - Il Gatto - "Gli Scatenati" Stelvio Cipriani - Concorde Affaire '79 - "Dangerous Flight" Calibro 35 - Calibro 35 - "Italia a Mano Armata" Christian Bruhn - Captain Future - "Der Bose" Espectrostatic - The Daemonium EP - "The 447" Daniel Mudford & Pete Woodhead - Shaun of the Dead - "Burn Down the Sun" Shooting Guns - WolfCop - "Spy In the Sky" John Ottman - X-Men: Days of Future Past - "Rules of Time" Boards of Canada - Hi Scores - "Hi Scores" Cristobal Tapia de Veer - Utopia Series 2 - "Satan’s Waltz (Metamorphosis Stage 1)" Roberto Donati - Cannibal Ferox - "Cannibal Ferox Theme" Fabio Frizzi - A Cat in the Brain - "Sequence One" Can - Ege Bamyasi - "one More Night" Danger Mouse & Daniele Luppi - Rome - "Theme of Rome"

Marmozets’ Becca Macintyre on the two-way connection between band and fans

Posted in interview, metal on November 17th, 2014 by Nick – Be the first to comment
[caption id="attachment_18148" align="aligncenter" width="560"]credit Joshua Halling credit Joshua Halling[/caption] This summer, I broiled in an amphitheater parking lot to see if it was still worth it to attend Warped Tour. For the most part, it was not -- with the sole exception of the UK's Marmozets. Back in July, I described the quintet as such:
"The singer moves like Mick Jagger and can fucking wail, and the rest of the band locks into a groove while also just pounding out riffs. The low end sounds like Rage Against the Machine, but above it, the group rocks like nobody else. It's hard to explain, but suffice it to say, it roped in everyone who walked by. People were positively gobsmacked, and rightly so. I've never seen quite so many audience members shake their heads in disbelief at a discovery like this."
It still stands. Marmozets released their debut full-length, The Weird and Wonderful Marmozets, back in September on Roadrunner Records, and it's massive. They're currently touring in support of it, as part of the Journeys Noise Tour with Issues, I Killed the Prom Queen, and others. I was lucky enough to get a few minutes on the phone with singer Becca Macintyre last week, and a we talked about Marmozets' music and how it affects their audience. Rock Star Journalist: Why would you say your music is the way it is? Becca Macintyre: It's just the combination of what everyone wants to write, I guess. It's really hard to explain. We just write the songs that we want to, to be quite honest. Jack and Will [Bottomley] are the ones who have more influences in terms of music. Me, Sam, and Josh are all just kind of like, "Eh." We don't have that many influences. We just write what we want to write. Does it help being in a band where's there's the shared experiences of two sets of siblings? Oh, yeah. It's the best thing. We ended up becoming a band in high school, and we just kept with it, until we were just like, "We want to take a shot with this. This is our life." marmozets 01 Mamrozets has built its name by just playing so much. Does that help build the band – both in terms of popularity and musicality? Of course, 'cause you're living and breathing it. The more that you do that, the more the people are going to see you, and we really care about that, because we just want to show people what we're made of. It's almost like – we really believe that our music can help. It goes beyond what kind of genre we are exactly and into whether kids are going to love it. It's up to them whenever we play a gig, and that's just awesome. After Warped Tour, we did a tour with Lonely the Brave, and we swapped each day who would headline. It was a joint headline, and Lonely the Brave are an amazing band, as well. To go back [to England] and play to a thousand and up kids, screaming at us, it was quite a scary thing to go from where every single day, you played to a few dozen, and you had to catch people as they came by, and then – to go back to Britain and play to a thousand kids who are going absolutely insane for your music, and then to go back to America and start all over again. And then to go back to England – I just believe that every time we go back to England, it's just going to be a bigger crowd. I hope that it'll be the same every time we come back to America – more kids will understand us and come watch us. That was an interesting thing you mentioned – music as a thing to help people. Marmozets' songs have a hopeful aspect to them – am I catching what you're aiming for, there? Yeah. That is. We come from such a messed-up generation – that's what I believe, anyway. There's a lot of greatness coming out of it now, but I just feel like everyone's been brainwashed into society and the way that everything is. And with the music – the music that's being shoved down kids' throats these days – we kind of find it as a joke, and that's what helps us to keep going. All the fan mail we get at the moment is like, people who are going through depression feel like they're giving up on life, and they write to us saying that our music helped them get through that situation, and it's like, "Oh my gosh." You can't ask for anything like that, do you know what I mean? For kids to think of going that way, and then to buy an album that's encouraged them to get on through life, it's like, "What the heck?" I think that's what music should be about. That's what we believe, anyway. cover - weird and wonderful marmozetsThat's a really touching thing – that you're as influenced by the people who listen to your music as the people who listen to your music are influenced by you. Exactly. We wouldn't be where we are without people buying our albums, coming to our shows, and wanting to hang out with us. That works – it's a win-win situation. We can't do it all by ourselves. If you can have a message about something behind your songs, that helps people, that connection's a straight thread. I'm not on stage, with half my clothes off, you know what I mean? That's not what we believe. People come to a show, we talk about real shit that people need to touch hold of. Your stage presence – which is what drew me in to your music in the first place – is very dynamic. It's like you're a high priestess or a band leader conducting something. I'm just – I feel like I'm an emotional person, like I'm fighting. I feel like I'm always having to fight, and I can't wait until the day where I'm just, like – I don't feel like I'll ever be able to relax. I can't relax. My mind's always thinking all the time, and I just want the best for people because, growing up, everyone goes through their shit, and I just feel like I want to fight for people who are part of the weird and wonderful world of the Marmozets, I guess. That's what I feel like I have a responsibility to do: not just make money from music. There needs to be a joy behind it all, I guess. [embed][/embed] Marmozets play the Granada in Lawrence tonight as part of the Journeys Noise Tour, with Issues, I Killed the Prom Queen, Ghost Town, and Nightmares. Doors for the all-ages show are at 6:00pm, and more information can be found here. The Noise Tour runs through the end of the month, and more dates and information can be found at Marmozets' Facebook page.

Podcast #121, “Can’t Feel Things”

Posted in podcast on November 17th, 2014 by Nick – Be the first to comment
ice tree It's super-duper cold outside here in the Midwest, meaning it's time to hunker down in the basement with wool socks and enough coffee to drown a small child. The songs are a bit slower, a bit sadder, and a bit darker, but I think you'll agree that they're quite wonderful. New music from the Kansas City Bear Fighters and Death to Tyrants, as well as a trip through the vinyl stacks with recent acquisitions and rediscovered favorites, makes this installment of Sunglasses After Dark a lovely start to your week, wherever you may be. Podcast #121, "Can't Feel Things" The Jayhawks, "Blue" (Tomorrow the Green Grass) Uncle Tupelo, "New Madrid" (Anodyne) The Old 97's, "Won't Be Home" (Drag It Up) --- The Shins, "So Says I" (Chutes Too Narrow) The Kansas City Bear Fighters, "You're In Kansas" (The Planet Where We Fell In Love) The Monkees, "You Just May Be the One" (Headquarters) --- Talking Heads, "Memories Can't Wait" (Fear of Music) Death to Tyrants, "So Far Above Sea Level" (Death to Tyrants) Rush, "Red Barchetta" (Exit ... Stage Left) --- Lou Reed, "Intro / Sweet Jane" (Rock 'n' Roll Animal) Alice Cooper, "Go to Hell" (Alice Cooper Goes to Hell) Cheap Trick, "Stiff Competition" (Heaven Tonight)

Celebrity Art Party with Rob Gillaspie

Posted in art, interview, rock 'n' roll on November 6th, 2014 by Nick – Be the first to comment
Celebrity Art Party is a semi-occurring feature, wherein the artists we enjoy interpret their favorite song. The first-ever installment features the one and only Rob Gillaspie, aka Scary Manilow. Gillaspie has fronted innumerable Lawrence bands: the Donkey Show, the Spook Lights, Pale Hearts, and Witch Jail, amongst others. He's also a writer, director, actor, and artist. He's a cat with many interests and many talents, which is why we were really curious as to what he'd select to interpret for Celebrity Art Party. Rob Gillaspie - Roy Orbison 'Crying' web Song title: "Crying" Artist: Roy Orbison Version of song (live, album, remix, etc.): Any version, but there's a live clip of him performing it in '67, not long after his wife Claudette was killed, that ESPECIALLY brings on the titular waterworks. [embed][/embed] When did you first hear it? I first heard it when I was realllly little -- maybe 5 or 6? -- at my grandfather's house. he had a bunch of country albums from the 50's and 60's. Most of them drove me nuts, but there was some definite overlap into early rock and croony stuff that struck a chord with me back then. CRYING was the first song I ever heard that made me actually, physically sad when I heard it. And I LOVED it, I wanted to hear his voice everywhere. I honestly thought it was a woman singing when I first heard him, ha ha ha. How does music such as this inspire you in your work? I've always had a tremendous camp sensibility that I've tried to incorporate into my work. Even when I was a teenage punk, screaming in shitty hardcore bands, I'd do shit like come on stage in a dress, or write songs about old romance comics... As I've gotten older and more savvy with my influences, I've found myself embracing the roots of that camp sensibility more and more. Old soap operas, lots of tragic, overwrought vocal groups. Roy was definitely a large factor in shaping that for me. How has this song changed for you since you first heard it? When I first heard "Crying," I was aware that it was coming from a place that I wasn't acquainted with yet, that crybaby side that everyone indulges in when they hit their early teens. Now I'm an old fart that appreciates it more in the context of the time it was written, where it fits in my own personal tapestry of influences, and what an iconoclast Roy was. A guy like him would NEVER have made it in today's market. He'd be getting beer cans thrown at him on the Replay patio or something. What upcoming projects do you have? A little of everything. My wife Emily and I have a surf-punk band called Witch Jail that will hopefully be ready to play again soon. We're also working on a recording-only project called Frankie Razer & the Wristcutters, which will be more 60's teen-tragedy and mopey lounge tunes than you can wring a hanky at. We're working on a series of shorts called Teen Troubles that are adapted from the pages of old Charlton heartbreak comics. I'm writing a detective novel about wig addiction and psychic cats. Something about a dumpster diver in love with a killer slime he finds in an old Walkman. Something else that I don't even want to talk about because I'm worried I won't ever finish it. I'm the busiest guy in KC right now, and nobody knows my name! In addition to all the stuff listed above, Gillapsie can be found by the lucky as faux-Lux Interior in the Cramps tribute band, Stay Sick.

Acid Baby Jesus, “Selected Recordings” LP

Posted in garage rock, punk, reviews, streaming audio / video on November 4th, 2014 by Nick – 1 Comment
cover - acid baby jesus selectedAcid Baby Jesus' last proper full-length, 2011's LP was kind of a hodgepodge of '60s rock tropes. There were sludgy stompers, flower-power psych jams, and jangly bouncy things. It was fun, but never quite got into regular rotation the way their "Hospitals" single had originally hooked us. In the meantime, they did a teamup with Hellshovel for the Voyager 8 EP, which was fun, but never really gelled the way I wanted it to. The two bands seemed to be doing their own things simultaneously, rather than finding a joint sound together, which really kept otherwise-agreeable numbers like "I Went Down" from clicking. So, why should you listen to their upcoming full-length, Selected Recordings, out November 17 from Slovenly Recordings? Because it's amazing! It's been a solid two years since the band's released anything of note (not counting the "Vegetable" single they released in advance of this back in September), and they've changed, but in a good way. The whole psychedelic rock thing is 100% in the forefront. The album manages to remain thematically and tonally coherent, while also playing around with tempos and textures. A big part of the problem with LP was that it sounded like a collection of singles, but Selected Recordings sounds like an album (although the names seem to suggest otherwise -- weird). Acid Baby Jesus remains the band they once were. You can hear echoes of LP in this new album -- "I'm Becoming a Man" rocks that dirty fuzz the same way "Tomboy" did, and "Row By Row" echoes the stomp and freakout of "Tyrannosaurus Rex." Also, in addition to just being recorded more coherently, Selected Recordings is sequenced in such a way that the album flows, rather than jumping from B to X to G to V to Z. By the end, you feel like you've journeyed down the river of Lethe, and things are groovy and all right. [embed][/embed]

Podcast #120, “Psychedelic Sounds”

Posted in podcast on November 3rd, 2014 by Nick – Be the first to comment
mescaline cat After a brief break for that excellent (if I do say so myself) Halloween mix, we're back with the regular Sunglasses After Dark podcast. We discuss some recent shows, showcase some new releases, and hip you to what's coming soon. If ever there were a build to a podcast's sound, this would be it -- we start out rather mellow, and just go until we're blasting your brain through your eardrums. Podcast #120, "Psychedelic Sounds" Oils, "Waves We Feel" ("Waves We Feel" single) J. Roddy Walston & the Business, "Same Days" (Essential Tremors) Built to Spill, "Girl" (The Normal Years) Diarrhea Planet, "Platinum Girls" (Aliens In The Outfield) --- The Turtles, "You Showed Me" (Present the Battle of the Bands) The 13th Floor Elevators, "Roller Coaster" (The Psychedelic Sounds of...) Ultimate Painting, "Winter In Your Heart" (Ultimate Painting) Acid Baby Jesus, "All of Your Love" (Selected Recordings) --- 999, "Emergency" (999) Nothing, "Get Well" (Guilty of Everything) Protomartyr, "French Kiss" (Sub Pop 1000) Hossferatu, "Mountebank" (Hossferatu)

Halloween Horror Marathon: Danny Boyle’s Frankenstein

Posted in reviews on October 30th, 2014 by Nick – Be the first to comment
poster - Frankenstein (Boyle) A little something different for this second-to-last installment of the Halloween Horror Marathon. Last night, the wife and I took in a theatrical rebroadcast of the Nation Theatre's 2012 production of Frankenstein. Directed by Danny Boyle, this was a production starring Johnny Lee Miller and Benedict Cumberbatch, which repeatedly sold out its stagings. Part of that was due to the fact that, each night, Miller and Cumberbatch would switch the roles of the creature and the doctor. The version we saw last night featured Cumberbatch as the doctor and Miller and the creature. It was absolutely wonderful. It's not an easy watch, given that the creature raises horrible questions about the nature of man, given his immediate abandonment upon birth, followed by people treating him based on his looks, rather than the content of his character. The staging is a masterful use of spare sets whose skeletal aspects give you just enough idea of what's to be portrayed, while also allowing you to focus on the performances themselves. Miller and Cumberbatch are riveting, and you can't but marvel at the physicality of Miller's performance. The play is absolutely mesmerizing, and both Miller and Cumberbatch do exceptionally well in their performances. Despite the play's name, it's so much more about the creature and his attempt to join humanity, while all the while being rejected by it. The creature's part is far more meaty, and I'd be quite curious to see the other version, but, alas, I wasn't aware of the Monday screening until afterward, so missed that particular version. When the old man De Lacey spends a year teaching him, the creature grows in intellect and does good deeds for the man's son and daughter-in-law. They, upon seeing him, beat him and drive him off. He returns, and burns them alive in their shack. It's heartbreaking to see how the creature has been wronged, and to see kindness on both sides repaid with violence and cruelty. The creature learns all lessons taught him, it seems, and the ones taught most often are lies, cruelty, heartbreak, and deception. That particular portion of the play is the entire production of Frankenstein in microcosm: the monster learns a terrible lesson, gains hope, and then has his hopes dashed, and each time, becomes closer to being more like his creator than anyone could've ever expected. For as learned as both men are -- and they are, as the play repeatedly proves, equals -- the creature and the doctor are both flawed in ways that are not so obvious, and more alike than pure physicality would otherwise indicate. [embed][/embed] If you get a chance to see this, please do. It's never going to be released on DVD, so these movie theatre screenings are the only way to see it, and that's really as it should be. Director Boyle and musical performers Underworld mean this is far more cinematic an experience than most nights at the play, and seeing it in an immersive, communal environment means that attention must be paid to what's going on. It's an uninterrupted arc, not something you can pause or look at your phone while experiencing.

Halloween Horror Marathon: Pumpkinhead

Posted in movies, reviews on October 29th, 2014 by Nick – 2 Comments
poster - PumpkinheadAn unjustly overlooked classic. A strange film that manages to be a creature feature, revenge flick, and supernatural horror picture all in one. My mom's favorite horror movie. These are all apt descriptions for Pumpkinhead, Stan Winston's 1988 movie starring Lance Henrickson. It's funny -- I know I saw this movie over and over when I was younger, but I might as well have never seen it, for as vague as the plot was in my memory. I don't remember it being as hallucinatory and freaky-looking as it is. There are angles and elements of Pumpkinhead's shooting that make it look like Sam Raimi had control of the camera. They contrast nicely with the almost pastoral scenes early on, before everything goes violent and revenge-y. In addition to the crazy camera movement and light streaming through backlit fog for its nighttime shots, Pumpkinhead looks like Texas Chainsaw Massacre during its daylight scenes. I watched this on a full-screen, untouched DVD from 2000, and it still managed to look frickin' great, despite the fact that Scream Factory put out a pretty excellent reissue of this on Blu-ray earlier this year. Honestly, though, the grainy, slightly blown-out look of the release I have only lent to the terrifying, awful aspect of everything. In terms of pacing, it's more early '70s than late '80s. You've got to be patient with this one. Pumpkinhead's slow build of southern gothic horror to an all out slaughter means that, while there's a good tease in the first scene to get your blood pumping, it's not until nearly halfway through that things get going. pumpkinhead This being a Stan Winston film, the creature effects are unsurprisingly amazing. It's a great looking film, even if it's pretty terribly acted, with the exception of Henrickson. Granted, he's just doing the quietly tough thing he does in everything, but it's especially suited to this picture. The creature is like a backwoods Giger creation. I can see how there were three sequels: the premise of Pumpkinhead as some kind of avenging reaver makes this an open-ended franchise of infinite possibilities. Why there were, however, I don't know. It's not particularly exciting unless you get an emotional resonance in the revenge, and killing a kid at the start of every picture will endear you to no-one. Still, despite all the striking parts about how it looks, and the delightful way in which the film brings a sort of pastoral British horror (a la The Wicker Man) to the American south, and the ways in which its pacing mirrors '70s horror, the plot's pure '80s horror, with the obnoxious young people in a convertible being punished. While being a fun romp, Pumpkinhead is ultimately just another movie which proves the horror movie rule: young city folk ought not be jerks in the country, or they will die terrible, violently bloody deaths. It's almost to the point nowadays that, should I see a nice sports car loaded with 20-somethings, I wonder who's going to be the first one to go, and how it'll happen. [embed][/embed]

Halloween Horror Marathon: Bay of Blood (with special guest!)

Posted in links, movies, reviews on October 28th, 2014 by Nick – 3 Comments
poster - Twitch of the Death Nerve Today's post features special guest commentary from Cinapse's Liam O'Donnell. He and both do this "watch a shit-ton of horror in October and write about it" thing, and so we've decided to team up on a few films this month. His column his entitled "Journal of Fear," and you should totally read it. He also does a podcast called Cinepunx with Joshua Alvarez, and it’s super-fun. Go listen. On to the film ... bay of blood cleaver Nick Spacek When you watch a movie that has influenced so many other pictures, it's hard to separate what it was from what it now is. A Bay of Blood (aka Blood Bath, aka Twitch of the Death Nerve) was Mario Bava taking the violence of giallo and making it the focus of a film, rather than yet another stylistic element. However, seeing how much of Bava's film would shape the next three decades of slasher pictures, one can't help but see how many tropes were lifted from A Bay of Blood, as if its plot was the Ten Commandments, written in stone for later directors to use: teenagers getting offed in a decrepit location, overly-complicated deaths, a creepy character in the background, and even the one kid who's super-awkward and weird around girls. Divesting one's self of the "oh, well, this has all been done before" attitude is paramount for enjoying A Bay of Blood, because in 1971, it hadn't. This was all new, and watching it through unfiltered eyes makes it pretty astonishing. While gore'd been done before -- Herschell Gordon Lewis' films certainly set the standard a decade before -- it'd never been done so realistically and so up-front. Bava set the stage with Blood and Black Lace, but that film's an emotional step away from A Bay of Blood, and is as prototypical a giallo as this is a slasher. It's a strange and powerful movie that Bava's crafted here, and the cross and double-cross plot keeps things moving along at a brisk clip, leaving you wondering who's going to die next and how. Any character's up for the killing, and the kills still shock. Bobby getting a cleaver to the face had me gasping aloud. A good portion of A Bay of Blood's shock potential has to do with the absolute contrast between the pastoral long shots and sweeping piano pieces which accompany them and the tight, up-close and personal attacks. The atmosphere is absolutely crafted, and while there are a few moments of levity early on with the teenagers and their frolics, it only serves to make the shocks which follow that much more intense. Liam O'Donnell I carry the great and unavoidable shame that I have not seen nearly as many Bava films as I should have. This is only my third, and yet even with that little experience with his work, this felt like an intense shift. The violence in Bay of Blood is quite pronounced. It is in these shocking scenes I guess the film had the most influence on the forthcoming slasher subgenre. Indeed, some films, like Friday the 13th Part II -- which I reviewed for this series -- borrowed quite obviously from these kills. Strange though, because while I noticed the violence as an intense shift, and I could see how the way it was portrayed was such an important part of the future of filmmaking, it was largely insignificant for me. You so astutely point out, Nick, how difficult it is to see a work which has been so influential for what it is rather than for what it would become reflected in other films. That is true of this movie, but for me perhaps it allowed me to see how unique Bava's film is compared to the horror films I am accustomed to. There is something I am having trouble describing about the film, in that I am not sure if it is something anarchic or something nihilistic. That is specifically the way there is no good or bad character in the film, but rather a great net of murder and selfishness which cover the whole. Yes, one could argue the young people caught in the wrong place at the wrong time represent "innocent victims," but do they really? It seems to me that Bava goes out of his way in this film to show something negative or grating or frustrating about most of the characters on the screen. More importantly, though the film plays at first as a giallo style mystery, it very quickly becomes a tale of murder which includes many many people. In spreading out the iconic role of "the killer" across so many, it is true that Bava creates some dynamic tension to a slightly over burdened script. No one could accuse Bay of Blood of being too kinetic, I don't think. However, he also takes apart the structure of these kinds of movies, intentionally or no, that does not translate to the slasher films he seems to have inspired. While classic slasher films do like to show us the moral failings of many of the victims of their insane murderers, they still maintain a classic good and bad structure. There is the killer and their are the killers victims. Perhaps we feel a certain sympathy or a certain disdain for the killer's various victims, but of course they are victims. I am being a bit too broad, as there are certainly exceptions to this idea, though those films usually spill over into revenge narratives or wish fulfillment narratives. The point is that not only do so many characters kill in this film, they do it for so little. There is not even the noble wronged person but, rather, awful people killing each other. This seems in one way anarchic. It overthrows, possibly, our assumptions about relationships of power and good. Yet, it is also nihilistic, as it seems to assume that almost every person, given enough reason, could decapitate someone or embed a machette in their skull. Of course, I am getting a bit too heady. At base, it seems that Bava was doing exactly as you suggested, that is highlighting the violence of the Giallo genre above all else. Do you think then there is more to the film then that? Should we thank him for the history of movies he spawned or regret his unintentional creation? poster - Bay of Blood (Gorgon).jpegNick: I think that the innumerable variations on the theme created by Bava demonstrate so very well the flexibility of what he created. Given that the slasher genre has been shown to take place in any locale, with any character, with any victim, and still manage to provide new and interesting twists over forty year on, I'm amazed that it took as long as it did for someone to combine the masked killer story with the Rube Goldberg deaths of b-movies. All the ingredients were there for decades, and yet, it took decades before someone thought to combine them. I think your point of nihilism isn't too heady at all. This film came at the very start of the ‘70s, and that was a decade of movies absolutely loaded with moral ambiguity. Be it Jake in Chinatown, almost any character in The Godfather, Travis Bickell in Taxi Driver, or even Han Solo in Star Wars, the decade became defined by characters who operated in moral gray areas. This was just a bit more black and white -- well, almost purely, darkly evil. Do you think this is due to an Italian way of thing, like Sergio Leone's pictures? Liam: Well, one thing that did not originally occur to me was humor. In other words, is it possible that this stunningly dark turn is not -- in some sense -- comic? Certainly, the film has some comic moments, and I don't think that would be outside of the Bava style. Then again, a darkly comic take on something so morally grey, or rather so intensely evil, would not be too far outside of Leone either. I can't help but wonder if, as an American, I am inclined perhaps to take the film too seriously, which is perhaps to take it not seriously enough. That is, am I not peering below the surface to how utterly comic it is to have a "murder mystery" where many of the supposed red herrings are still actually killers. There is just simply not one main killer, a sort of focus of our intention. Is Bay of Blood some sort of comic farce? Or is the film simply having fun with a genre Bava was, at this point, one of the pioneers of? Is it too simple, when it comes to these Italian films, to look for genre clarity at all? Nick: I'm astonished at how many layers this movie ends up having, when you take a look at it. I didn't even think about the humor. Upon further consideration, it really is almost a parody of giallo, if you really think about it. Rather than one killer, masked or otherwise hidden, you've multiple, all of whom are easily tied to the deaths they cause. The deaths aren't shown in artily-framed shots, lit like a dream (or nightmare, depending), but are instead presented in a stark manner. This is almost the lead-in for the cannibal films which would later follow, as well -- death as shock in and of itself, as opposed to some greater artistic statement. In this case, death is the statement, and it's blunt: "Here, this is what you seem to enjoy the most." And -- going back to the humor -- I don't think it's a coincidence that the future films which took this template and not only succeeded, but are still considered worth seeing, also have that strange sense of humor to them. Given that, is there a film that came later that you think a worthy heir to this progenitor? Liam: I am actually not sure. From one perspective there are many, be they the F13 series or The Burning, slasher films that take a lot from this movie. However, to focus on them as directly from Bay of Blood does exactly what seems to have not been the point. It almost seems that Bava made a film similar to Hanneke, in that it pointed a finger at its audience and asked what it was they wanted to see. It then played with the feeling of tension, the fear and drama of the piece, until it becomes farcical. It pushes the boundaries between what is the dramatic real that we can accept, and when the performance goes beyond that. Not that I think Bava is attempting to make so complicated a point, but it is still the direction the film seems to go. Then again, Bava also claimed this was his favorite of his films. Perhaps this tension, between what is plausible and not, and between what the audience wants or does not want to see is the point. In that way, I am reminded of, say, Funny Games or similar films. However, those movies are more literally "meta," in that this commentary on a genre or condition is the entire point and content. Bava has made a suitably horrifying giallo, certainly one that bends and even transcends the genre, but is still what it is. The question is, are there any films that seem to push so far, but are not clearly satirical. I am reminded of another unlikely film, Mothers Day, but this is also more clearly a satire. The question for me, and perhaps you can give your insight on this, is whether Bava is laughing with the audience or at them. If we are supposed to be in on the joke, so to speak, then I think Nightmare on Elm Street might be an interesting comparison. Not a comedy, but with some real humor injected. However, if he is laughing at the audience, something I think the ending suggests a bit, then I am at a loss as to what might be related. Do you think I am being too harsh on Bava? Is Bay of Blood a cynical commentary or simply a good time playing with gore and violence? If anything, does it say negative things about us that we enjoy the movie so much? I found it fun if a little confusing at times, and I am now wondering if I should have! poster - A Bay of BloodNick: I think it's meant to be fun. Given that everything else I've seen of Bava's -- Black Sunday, Blood and Black Lace, Kill Baby Kill, and Black Sabbath -- has some element of humor to it (especially Karloff's parched desert dryness of delivery in Black Sabbath), I can't but imagine that this is supposed to be the film that's an exercise in ridiculousness. Maybe Bava's laughing at you while you laugh at the film, because that ending is just over-the-top in terms of one last absurd plot twist. However, I think he's willing to let the viewer enjoy themselves, showing nudity, showing blood, and just generally amping up the ridiculousness inherent in giallo to an extent that he accidentally created a new genre along the way. Liam: I think you are right and perhaps that is what he also did, as far as innovation: commentary with humor. That is to say, it really feels like Bava is in some way satirizing the audience's desire for this violence, but I don't think he is judging it. The film is having so much fun with it's bevy of ridiculous villains, the various ridiculous character traits and odd ways they interact. In fact, even the kills are amazing, and done in such a way that I cannot believe Bava is not enjoying his art as much as we are in watching it. Yet that ending does seem to suggest to me some silly nod to his audience, he is not just performing at his art, which is creating this intense murder film. No, we are part of it, he acknowledges us, and thus implicates us in his fun I think. He is going over the top, to new heights of blood. Granted, here we are some 44 years later and it may not seem like much. It was a rough year for movies though. Bay of Blood was one of many to face backlash and censors for its extreme content. Bava, I think though, hints not just that he is pushing his art form to new extremes, but that this is where it is going. It is in many ways a watershed moment not only for film and the horror genre we both love, but for the culture as a whole. Bay of Blood is still powerful in it's intensity, and while it may not be as extreme as it seemed then, it is an incredibly well executed bit of brutal fun. [embed][/embed] Christopher Brown's Video Nasties podcast did an excellent episode on the film, and you can listen to that here.