Archives for posts with tag: electronic music

Phteven 0

Phteven Universe, for the uninitiated, is the musical project of Pilleater, one of the more individual and idiosyncratic racial thinkers to have carved out a niche for himself online. An original, challenging, confounding, and often obnoxious figure, Pilleater in his now substantial body of Alt-Leftish critical and creative work explores a wild frontier at the margin of the Alt-Right without ever really being of it, putting in occasional co-host appearances on Robert Stark’s Stark Truth podcast, writing books, and doing everything from comedic impressions of Alt-Right figures to music reviews on his frightening YouTube channel.

Pilleater

Pilleater

Musically, the oeuvre of Phteven Universe is not entirely separable from its creator’s perverted boutique ideology of “Asian Aryanism”. Even the name, referencing as it does a grotesque viral canine meme and a Japanese-influenced Cartoon Network TV series, is expressive of Pilleater’s interest in internet subcultures and Asiatic hybridism, conveying as well the sense of whimsy that characterizes much of Pilleater’s output.

The first, self-titled Phteven Universe album advertises itself as a vaporwave release – and there is certainly some memorable vaporwave on here – but to pigeonhole Phteven Universe as a vaporwave artist, while this perhaps is useful as a marketing niche, is to do a disservice to the eclecticism of the tracks. This one opens with effervescent waves of peace, melancholy, and inspiration wafting in with wetness and the sounds of birds – only then to plunge the listener into a morbid cityscape with soundbites expressing contempt for the soulless corporate mentality.

Phteven 1Then comes a sassy succession of late-80s-sounding Terminator-X-style hip-hop sounds and quaint computer noises. Keeping the scenery in flux, the album evokes a windswept expanse of blue desert followed by a slick retrofuturistic club beat, after which the listener is treated to a truly inspiring vapor track sampling the Commodores’ “Easy” over determined pulses of synth ascending into triumph. The vocal is spaced out – way out – so that the listener can believe it and feel it when told, “I wanna be high – so high.” This moment alone was so glorious that I actually felt a bit bad about having paid so little to own this awesome tape.

The second side of Phteven Universe is another eclectic nostalgia trip, launching from a disorienting opening into a sample of the once-ubiquitous “You’ve Got Mail” announcement and leading into an earnest, ballad-style piano number, followed by the inarticulate moan of a man ripped painfully out of a comfortable but no longer accessible past, both sad and soothing. Then the album gets crazy again and shifts into some oriental synth cutesiness followed in succession by slick, ritzy, high-rise vanilla elevator funk, a track with aggressive percussive elements resolving into a pastel chill session, and then “Fuck Off Melissa”, a nasty track evocative of a futuristic mutant sex club and reminiscent of Cabaret Voltaire of the era of The Crackdown.

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The second release, おさかなといっしょ – which, if Google Translate can be trusted, comes out as “With Fish and Lettuce” – consists of a first side inspired by primitive video game soundtracks and a second side that recreates what I have to imagine a night out at the gay disco must have sounded like in the early nineties. It had me thinking of C+C Music Factory, but Pilleater is very particular and autistic about his club music obsessions and probably has something else altogether in mind. The creepier and more interesting first side, which apart from nostalgia bears no immediately apparent relationship to the second, gives the haunted impression of bad AM radio reception and a lonely, neglected vintage Nintendo game that seems to ask with a touch of menace, “Hey, kid … why don’t you play me anymore?”

Illicit, the third Phteven Universe release, opens with some busy, hectic, alien-sounding material somewhat reminiscent of Prodigy or Ministry’s classic “Stigmata”, warning the listener, “There is no future.” This is followed by more distorted video game sounds in keeping with the material on おさかなといっしょ, but this time mining a more baroque melodic vein. From here Illicit turns dark again, with chaotic, repetitive cacophony evocative of a malevolent universe. As eclectic as Phteven Universe, however, Illicit never settles into a single style for very long and progresses through guitar discordance, African chanting, more homoerotic club music after the fashion of おさかなといっしょ’s second side, some funky programming and S&M percussion, industrial sounds, high-NRG dance, and a disjointed jumble of childhood memories, blips and beeps, gothic electronica, KMFDM-style angst, and – most hilariously – a sample of Jamie Stewart’s Stark Truth appearance in which the Xiu Xiu artist hissily unleashes on the Alt-Right.

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Side B continues with the eclecticism, getting underway with some pleasant hypnotica before launching into machine-gun-like percussion followed by more throbbing homo nightclub shenanigans. Next some breezy synth washes over an unobtrusive beat – one of the few soothing moments in Phteven Universe’s oeuvre – but the respite is brief, as the horizon darkens and gloomier tones return, followed by hip-hop and trance-like obsessions. It must be noted, too, that some of the ambient explorations and the disquieting ruminations on Illicit’s second side would seem to belie Pilleater’s cultivation of a clownish persona, so that the album is far from a mere hodgepodge of carnival weirdness. This is an album that at times expects and receives a listener’s serious attention. The creepy voice comes back again before Pilleater apostrophizes a “dream girl”, and ends on a bit of a Wendy Carlos note, with some classical synthesis.

Getting off to a fun start with some Moonman and dis rap samples and some soulful, moaning retard scat, Asian Girlfriend further develops the styles established on the previous Phteven Universe releases, with more naughty club thumping, baroque video-gamey electronica, discordant lo-fi dystopian cuteness, atmospheric electro-percussion worthy of old-school New Order, and more dark and whimsically primitive gaming, some of it sounding almost sentimental – or it would, at least, without the mutated robotic muttering over it. As with the previous albums’ smatterings of vocal passages, Pilleater seems not to be too concerned with whether or not the words are heard – except when it comes to needing help with his algebra homework; that bit gets the proper enunciation it deserves. The highlight of Asian Girlfriend, however, is easily the nasty dance number “Consent”. If you don’t like this one, it’s probably just because Pilleater can do, as he puts it, so many things – “and you’re just jealous!” The artwork alone would make Asian Girlfriend worth owning.

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Phteven Universe, again, is much more than a vaporwave fad-follower; but Pilleater’s commentary on the sociopolitical significance of vaporwave is key to understanding what he is attempting with his music and new Apocalypse Culture. “At its core, the vaporwave genre nostalgically admires the past: VHS tapes, electronic synthesizers, retro-futuristic cars, vector grids, vintage arcade games, bad consumer products, Japanese culture, etc.,” he writes in his essay “Fashwave Sectarianism vs. Vaporwave Hegemony”. At the same time, he concludes, vaporwave is “the music of the future.”

If vaporwave is inherently reactionary, nostalgic, and retro-futurist, it is already Right-wing. The whole thing is Right-wing. Not just the fashwave secession. What I would like to see is a critical discourse that accompanies and interprets the vaporwave genre as an essentially anti-liberal art form sprung from a sincere longing for the future we were promised but denied, without cutting itself on edgy National Socialist and Evola memes. Sure, people will try to trot out Capitalism and Schizophrenia, but it’s up to us to call out such errors in thinking. It is up to us to construct a dominant anti-liberal paradigm to eventually turn vaporwave discourse, and the music itself, against the globalist nihilism and transhumanist philosophy of Eccojams and Floral Shoppe.

Fashwave is dead! Long live fashwave!

Do Pilleater’s Phteven Universe project and Apocalypse Culture revivalism lend themselves to the construction of this anti-liberal paradigm? As Varg might suggest … let’s find out!

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Rainer is the author of Protocols of the Elders of Zanuck: Psychological Warfare and Filth at the Movies – the DEFINITIVE Alt-Right statement on Hollywood!

 

 

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KMFDMAdios

Adios – the “final” piece in constructing the “Columbine Matrix”?

On Hitler’s birthday, April 20, 1999, the abrasive German electronic pop group KMFDM (depending on the source, either “Kill Mother Fucking Depeche Mode” or “Kein Mehrheit Furh Die Mitleid,” which means “No Pity for the Majority”) released what was supposed to be its final album, Adios. This would be a comparatively insignificant footnote in history if not for the fact that this was also the day of the Columbine High School massacre. Eric Harris, a fan of the band, took notice of what he seems to suggest is something more than a simple coincidence. “Heh, get this,” he wrote in his journal. “KMFDM’s new album is entitled ‘Adios’ and its release date is in April. How fuckin appropriate, a subliminal final ‘adios’ tribute to Reb and Vodka [i.e., Harris and Klebold], thanks KMFDM…”

“The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, amid pressure over the long delay in publishing their investigation’s findings, released a report in May 2000 including over eleven thousand pages of lead sheets, ballistics and eyewitness reports and other attack-related media,” Evan Long states in the introduction to his essential documentary challenge The Columbine Cause. “The length of these reports did not lend them to rapid digestion, and the 9/11 attacks and overall shift in the American political climate of 2001 obscured many of the pressing domestic troubles facing America,” Long continues. “Perhaps the dust of the Twin Towers has settled enough by now for the people of the world to take a fresh look at the attack launched on Columbine.”

Was the “Trench Coat Mafia” something other than what mainstream media outlets reported it to be in 1999? Was the Columbine massacre something other than what it appeared to be? “Now, as far as the involvement of the Central Intelligence Agency or some type of brainwashing network, we have to be careful here in terms of avoiding that which our convictions may prejudice us to believe,” Michael A. Hoffman II cautions in “The Columbine Matrix”, a lecture he recorded shortly after the event.

In other words, a good researcher doesn’t act a priori. He doesn’t establish what he wants to see in a story and then look for those things. But rather, he goes to a story with an open mind, even if that report, even if the news details, contradicts his own convictions about something; and, therefore, to the very best of my knowledge, I have not yet seen evidence of an organizational brainwash going on against these two boys. In fact, I think we need to understand what happened in Littleton at a higher level of mind control than what has been previously put forth.

Trench Coat Mafia

Note the KMFDM hat.

Notwithstanding the absence of concrete and credible evidence of intelligence agency involvement, Long, using material released after Hoffman delivered his lecture, presents a compelling case for a cover-up of testimonies concerning disturbing aspects of the Columbine event. The details are beyond the scope of the present essay, which the reader should supplement with a viewing of The Columbine Cause. A further quotation may, however, whet the appetite:

According to an unnamed individual in the JCSO report, the attack had been “the big rumor for two years.”

And Martin Middleton, who had been in the Jefferson County area in the mid-90’s, at that time encountered an individual talking about the attempted bombing that would take place on Hitler’s 110th birthday who also told him that the Trench Coat Mafia which would be attempting it was not just a bunch of lonely depressed kids, but something much larger.

Indeed, we were told after the attack that the Columbine attackers had planned to not just shoot and maim a few dozen students, but to kill 500 people, level the school with bombs, hijack a plane from Denver’s New World Airport and, despite their total inexperience with aviation, fly it over 2000 miles where they would perhaps lodge it into skyscrapers in New York City, a plan which may have sounded foreign to audiences of 1999 but which today seems all too familiar.

KMFDMAdios2

Natural selection, a concept that interested Harris in the social Darwinist context, is also referenced in “Rubicon”, a song by KMFDM, one of the boy’s favorite music groups.

KMFDMParty

Original artwork for the Coup’s album Party Music. A few promotional copies of the CD were sent out with this cover before the official release.

Those acquainted with 9/11 conspiracy lore will be aware of the theories of eerily prescient content in the entertainment media during the years leading up to that event. Such films as The Siege (1998) and Fight Club (1999), in addition to the notorious pilot episode of the short-lived Fox TV series The Lone Gunmen, furnish examples of these alleged indications of foreknowledge of the World Trade Center attack, as does the scrapped artwork for rap group the Coup’s 2001 release Party Music, which depicts the Twin Towers being remotely detonated. Similarly, with Columbine, conspiracy-oriented researchers like Hoffman and Long have pointed to the proliferation of a violent trench coat goth image and sensibility in Hollywood productions like The Crow (1994), The Basketball Diaries (1995), Blade (1998), and The Matrix (1999), which was released a mere three weeks before the shootings in Littleton, Colorado.

As with Warner’s Party Music, the cover of TVT Records’ suspiciously synchronized KMFDM release displays a startling parallelism with the events of that day. Mimicking comic book artwork, the Adios imagery created by Aidan “BRUTE!” Hughes shows two gunmen being rammed and run over by a scowling driver. The content of at least one of the songs is strangely relevant to the Columbine massacre, as well. The lyrics of one track, “Full Worm Garden”, go in part as follows:

Tincture of lead be said with no remorse full of confusion
Wish to enjoy this weightlessness lay me out full worm garden

A noose-knit put on sweater tie it up around the arm
Looks to grip along the trigger down the barrel of a gun

KMFDM

KMFDM’s Sascha Konietzko models the trench coat look.

Another song on Adios, titled “R.U.OK?”, concludes with these interesting lines:

For a moment you might question what you see
For a second your whole world will disappear

This is mind control and you know it
This will shut you up and you know it

Mind control

This is mind control
Mind control
This is mind control
Mind control
This is mind control

That’s all you get
It’s all you need

“That’s All”, meanwhile, features the enigmatic phrases “Get defamed in isolation two plus one negate divine”; “News-print news-peak nevermind”; and “Free the hostage situation taken as a simulation”. “Rubicon”, another of the tracks on Adios, has this to say:

Violence for inner-peace
Bombing for therapy
Terror is everything you need

Cross the dotted line
Fake your destiny […]

Natural selection is based on deception
The ignorant elder empowers the youth

KMFDMAdios3

KMFDM fans

Both boys were known admirers of the group and were photographed wearing KMFDM apparel. Eric Harris made multiple references to the group’s body of work in his writings, and it is difficult, in retrospect, to listen to KMFDM’s output in the years leading up to the Columbine massacre without psychologically hyperlinking much of the band’s imagery back into the Trench Coat Mafia’s “Columbine Matrix”, as Hoffman terms it.

KMFDMNihilMore than one of the songs included on KMFDM’s 1995 album Nihil conveys an angry anxiety coupled with a lack of agency. “Flesh” declares “I am the thing that I can’t control”, while “Beast”, the following song in the album’s sequence, screams “I got no choice / I’m out of control / And the kids just love it”. The listener can only expect to “get respect / When you’re kickin’ ass,” the singer explains. “Some people call them terrorists,” says the sample of an unknown man’s foreign-accented voice that opens the track “Terror”; but “these boys have simply been misguided.” Repeated lines in the song describe a fragile mental state: “I’m close enough to trip the wire / I cannot keep my hate inside.” “Our societies are saturated with bloodlust, sensationalism and violence as a result of alienation from oneself’s reality,” explains another of the sampled voices in “Terror”. Nihil’s next song, “Search & Destroy”, asks, “Are we victims or winners / Believers or sinners? / Do we sit in the saddle / Or are we just cattle?” Here again, as would be the case with much of the public discourse that followed the Columbine massacre, the lines separating automaton and deliberate actor, victim and brutalizer, are blurred.

KMFDMXtortKMFDM’s 1996 effort Xtort declares itself the “Industrial soundtrack to the holy wars” and, in its opening number “Power”, prescribes the use of “Excessive force”: “The children of fear / Are not alone / Rivers of tears / Flesh and blood / An eye for an eye / That’s all we’ve got”. “Craze”, a particularly evil-sounding song on this same album, is especially interesting in consideration of Hoffman’s advancement of his theory of “Revelation of the Method”, or “Must Be”, as James Shelby Downard termed it, according to which a shadow establishment openly mocks its intended audience, both confirming and strengthening its control over a population by “telling you what they are doing to you”. “There’s nothing like giving the game away / All the people are feeling the same today,” asserts a demonically processed voice in “Craze” that goes on to command, “Take a hammer and break a bone for me / There’s nothing like giving the game away”. Whether intentionally or not, the song expresses the wicked delight an elite manipulator would presumably feel in dropping such cryptic hints as to his doings and intentions. Also notable on Xtort is “Son of a Gun”, which describes a “Massive attack” by a “Son of a gun” who has been “Born to kill”. “All are equal” to this “Superhero #1”, who exercises “No discrimination” in his murders – a characterization that prefigures Salon writer Dave Cullen’s description of Harris and Klebold: “They were equal-opportunity haters, railing against minorities and whites, praising Hitler’s ‘final solution’ – and then ranting against racism.” Harris said “Son of a Gun” was one of his favorite songs.

The song “Stray Bullet” from KMFDM’s 1997 album Symbols is known to have been of interest to Eric Harris, who made reference to it on at least one occasion. A “Stray bullet / From the barrel of love” is both an eroticized explosion of violence and an apotheosis: “Stray bullet / From the heavens above […] I’m the illegitimate son of God”. “Megalomaniac”, another track from Symbols, declares “Terrorism our trade” and “Chaos our mental state”. “Anarchy”, a song from Symbols mentioned in Harris’s entry in classmate Nathan Dykeman’s yearbook, evokes a character motivated by revenge who has “made a God out of blood”. Had Harris and Klebold, as Hoffman suggests with reference to the desensitizing content of The Matrix, taken their “MKULTRA marching orders” from KMFDM?

Konietzko

Konietzko

KMFDM snarler-songwriter Sascha Konietzko has complained that “a giant shitstorm came down on KMFDM” after the Columbine horror, and it is entirely possible that Konietzko is justified in his outrage at the band’s being falsely implicated. It is not this essay’s intention to charge that the personnel of KMFDM or Rammstein or any other group are Mossad or Central Intelligence Agency contractors bent on programming America’s youth for commission of acts of mass murder. Easy answers may never be forthcoming where the Columbine massacre is concerned, with more mystery and convolution emerging the more one examines the case. This essay is purely exploratory.

A lack of conclusive information does nothing to dispel the number of anomalies and bizarre circumstances surrounding the event, the release of Adios being one of many of these. Evan Long cites “an unnamed individual in the reports [who] called up accounts of a Denver-area culture well outside the bounds of humanity.” He continues:

This individual, who attended another high school in the area, related that he had been to parties attended by goths and Trench Coat Mafia individuals in their 20’s across the area, and that most of the Trench Coat Mafia individuals were out of school and that there were not very many who were still in school. He stated that they were into bloodletting, cutting and violence.

He also was questioned on sexually explicit photographs found in his backpack which were homosexual in nature, and stated that he had been to the house of an individual known to some in this circuit as “Pedophile Bill”, a homosexual man who was, quote, “not nice sexually” and had given him these pictures and also showed him photo albums which made him sick to his stomach. The albums, he said, contained sexually explicit photographs of small children up to the age of fourteen.

Who was “Pedophile Bill” and what was his connection, if any, to the events at Columbine High School? How extensive was the Trench Coat Mafia, and what was its organizational structure – if indeed it had any to speak of? If Long’s film The Columbine Cause demonstrates anything, it is that the public does not know what happened April 20th, 1999, in Littleton, Colorado, and that further research, much of it on the ground, must be conducted before the case can be closed to any critically conscious observer’s satisfaction. As Sheriff Ted Mink’s reported destruction not only of weapons and shell casings from the crime scene but also the infamous “Basement Tapes” of Harris and Klebold indicates, the authorities are determined that no independent investigator will ever be able to challenge establishment narratives with the aid of this key forensic and psychological evidence.

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

American Johns

Natalia-Christabelle Serrano in American Johns (2015)

This 12-minute short from writer-director C.L. Hoffa depicts a few episodes in the life of Melissa Masters (Natalia-Christabelle Serrano), a former child actress who now works as a call girl. Unfortunately, the story is told entirely in images and a couple of captions to identify the principal characters, with the viewer left to connect the dots of whatever semblance of nonlinear narrative is to be had. Melissa specializes in boring kink, alternately crawling around on the floor like Ai in Tokyo Decadence (1992) – though the director cites The Canyons (2013) as an influence – or playing the dominatrix and stepping on masochists. Unfortunately for her, this results in one of her johns lying face-down dead on the floor of a hotel room, which brings the creepy and haggard Detective Steve Scott (Christopher Loring) into her life.

Lyle

When Lyle Lovett attacks! (Rey Marz and Natalia-Christabelle Serrano in American Johns)

A man who appears to be a slumming Lyle Lovett (Rey Marz) is shown being confrontational and then more adoring of her, but the exact nature of the transaction remains unclear. Hoffa advertises American Johns as “experimental“, so one assumes that any ambiguity is intentional. Minimalist electronic music abstractly suggests moods for the episodes, but one is sometimes unsure how to feel. Not much interest, for instance, attaches itself to scenes of Melissa walking around and chatting on her cell phone outside Bob’s Big Boy – particularly when the viewer has no idea what she is talking about. Maybe the idea is that men see her as fast food?

2.5 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that American Johns is:

3. Pro-gay and pro-miscegenation. Melissa appears to enjoy a non-platonic relationship with a tattooed black woman.

2. Misandrist. Men, in their relationship with women, are either customers or inquisitors. Melissa’s past as an actress finds a continuity in her work as a prostitute, in that men expect her to play a role – they do not accept the real Melissa, in other words. The tramp, in the course of her duties, discovers that even the most seemingly masculine man is only a writhing maggot at heart – they, too, are actors.

1. Feminist (i.e., anti-human). American Johns, unlike The Canyons, appears to aim not for an implied moral judgment in its portrait of soulless squalor, but to aspire to some sort of seedy chic, a de facto glorification of the protagonist’s AIDS-tempting lifestyle. Mise-en-scene of the character’s introduction to the audience – framing her through and against the vertical lines of blinds and railings that convey the impression of bars of a cage – suggests that Melissa is a prisoner; but the heroine’s final moment onscreen indicates that she is in control – she is the zookeeper minding the cage – and firmly in command of the men in her life. Her nihilism and capitalist degeneracy, it seems, are some form of women’s empowerment – a realization of some mutation of the American Dream.

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

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Future Sodom

Future Sodom (1987) ****

An initial viewing of Future Sodom may be a disappointment if viewers allow the stylish cover photo of Laurel Canyon to lead them to expect a dark, creative vision of a futuristic world. When friends Mickey (Frank James) and Morgan (Jesse Eastern) find themselves transported into an unknown place and time – “to grow, to advance” in their sexuality – their sylvan surroundings resemble the idyllic woods around a summer cabin more than a dingy, urban vice capital. What follows is mostly a plotless succession of sexual encounters between the visitors and the carefree inhabitants of this sunny natural paradise.

First, Mickey and Morgan double-team a blonde beauty (Canyon), Mickey receiving a boisterous blowjob as Morgan bumps her from behind, all while ethereal synthesizer and mechanized tribal beats convey that this is the future – either that or the 80s. After trading orifices and having their fill, Mickey and Morgan relax indoors and exchange philosophies about sex. Morgan, a hopeless romantic, is disillusioned with what seems to him to be the mechanical nature of sex; but Mickey is perfectly content to screw anything that moves. “It was so impersonal, man, it was hot as hell,” he says, describing why phone sex gets him excited.

Group play follows: first an enthusiastic threesome set to languid electric guitar with Laurel Canyon, Britt Morgan, and Peter North, who find that an open door policy spices up the boredom of marriage; and later a more elaborate session conducted by a toga-bedecked Instructor (gross Jew William Margold) who sets a proper orgy in motion – complete with oral and anal sex and disgusting asshole-licking – before joining the fray himself, ultimately slurping his own semen off of a woman’s back. All of this unfolds to some drab 80s disco.

In one of Future Sodom’s few acknowledgments of the notion that this is all supposed to be taking place in some kind of futuristic setting, one of the sordid celebrants is a tattooed, freakish “robot”, Lucy (played by Viper), who has been “specially programmed as an anal participant.” This bargain basement production’s idea of an android, alas, is a tramp in a Mardi Gras mask, with chains strapped across her chest, nipple and clitoris piercings, and obscenities like “motherfucker” and “eat shit” scrawled all over her body. Lucy explains that mischievous Boy Scouts are responsible for the physical graffiti. “They raped me anally and I castrated ten of them,” she says in Future Sodom’s most outrageous scene. “Yes, I programmed myself to castrate Boy Scouts.”

In the second of Future Sodom’s two standout performances – the first being newcomer Laurel Canyon – Frankie Leigh plays the mysterious “Woman”, a sexual chameleon who suits her behavior to the fantasies of her partner of the moment. This cute but thoroughly debauched brunette has the best scene in Future Sodom, sneering her needs at horny Mickey: “Nah, I don’t think you fucking understand. I want dick, dick, and more dick,  you hear that? And I want buckets of fucking cum. I wanna fuckin’ swallow it, I wanna choke on it. I wanna fuckin’ wallow in it. I wanna fuckin’ bathe in the fuckin’ shit, you know? I want you to turn my mouth into a fuckin’ sewer, into a goddamn toilet.” Leigh then proceeds to blow three guys in creepy transparent plastic masks like the ones in Last House on Dead End Street.

Underlying the flimsy excuse for a story, specifically in the old-fashioned Morgan character, is an awareness of a discomfort left in men’s hearts in the wake of the sexual revolution. Now that moral constraints are no longer an issue, do men really want their women to be voracious sexual beasts? What do women want? Paula Damiano’s script, unfortunately, leaves this speculative thread underdeveloped, the only semblance of resolution to Morgan’s uncertainty being his sullen resignation and determination of, “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em.”

Future Sodom, though nothing particularly special, does have a few things to recommend it. The hair is big, the action is hot, and the actors are clearly enjoying themselves; and, with the exception of Viper, whose damaged goods and devilish scowl are a little intimidating, the principal actresses are exquisite. 80s aficionados will appreciate Jesse Eastern’s mullet, and may also be interested to learn the ultimate fate of Ronald Reagan. Viewers, however, should expect nothing profound from a film which, after all, was produced and directed by Deep Throat auteur Gerard Damiano.

4 out of 5 stars.

Load Warriors

The Load Warrior aka The Load Warriors (1987) ****1/2

From the first bleak, synthesized notes queuing up The Load Warrior’s ugly orange pixelated opening credits, all the makings of a 1980s pornographic classic are present: movie parody premise, pun title, hokey electronic music, garish eye makeup, and big, beautiful, puffy manes of whore hair. Peter North portrays the titular titillationist in this post-apocalyptic tale of a world devastated by a “great fire” (i.e., nuclear holocaust) followed by the “invisible fire” of radiation that causes fertility to plummet. The result is a wasteland in which “seed became money and men became cattle”, with female barbarians unceremoniously milking their slaves like farm animals, the old ways of love, foreplay, and even vaginal penetration having been forgotten by most – all but the Load Warrior.

The Load Warrior satirizes the seeming reversal of sex roles effected by the sexual revolution, the entry of women into the workforce, and the cold commoditization of reproduction through sperm banks. “‘Married’?” Willow (Krysta Lane) asks, puzzled at hearing the word for the first time. “What’s ‘married’?” Men, reduced to utilitarian sex slaves, are left wanting foreplay, affection, and some sense of sexual autonomy, while women have become violent, impersonal brutes, as typified by ruthless businesswoman Queen Humongous (Lois Ayres), who reigns like a callous CEO over a “bustling rat hole” called Motherload. Here the remains of the wasteland’s men come to sell their sperm at the trading post of Dr. D (Jesse Eastern), who hands out “antique” broccoli and rotten chicken (“Of course it’s got maggots in there. That’s the nutritious part.”) in exchange for their more or less ineffectual sperm. Fortuitously, the Load Warrior comes and pounds into the women an important truth: “A load in the bush is worth far more than any in the hand.”

Sharon Mitchell, who participates in an ambitious fivesome (!) with Eastern and others in the “Blow the Man Dome”, is typically tough and charismatic as the aptly named Wilde, who threatens to cut off a woman’s tits and make lampshades out of them. Too much time is spent on an interracial scene between Eastern and Angel Kelly; but the sex, if not consistently scorching, is solid, and for the most part tastefully photographed, greatly enhanced by the scuzzy art direction of “C.L. Jaz”. Much of the action in The Load Warrior plays like a music video, with the imitation Tina Turner theme song smoothing North’s scene with delectable Gail Force being a definite highlight of the show. Also, the manner in which the hero dispatches the bitchy Queen Humongous is not to be missed! Hot, heavy, and humorous, The Load Warrior is mandatory sleaze for 80s strokers.

4.5 out of 5 stars.

 

Only God Forgives

Ryan Gosling, fresh off of a revelatory turn in the excellent Place Beyond the Pines, unfortunately chooses to squander his talent in Only God Forgives, playing Julian, an American expatriate in Thailand whose boxing club fronts for a narcotics ring. When his immoral brother Billy (Tom Burke) kills a girl and is murdered in turn, Julian’s disgusting mother (Kristin Scott Thomas) arrives from the States and insists that Julian seek revenge – even if this means eliminating a formidable police detective, Chang (Vithaya Pansringarm).

In a pretentious feat of style-over-substance showboating, director Nicolas Refn and his collaborators place so much emphasis on their ostentatious color schemes, self-conscious compositions, and generally gratuitous visual flourishes that they very nearly succeed in ruining what, in less limp-wristed hands, could have been a solidly gritty story of a family vendetta. Worst is that most of the actors in this nearly dialogueless drama appear to have been instructed to behave as robotically as possible, never smiling, as if every movement of every muscle is meant to convey existential angst, every second of every moment an endless Holocaust of the soul which, rather, screens as overly deliberate soullessness. The copious music of Cliff Martinez, a mixture of organic and synthesized sound, is both a blessing and a curse, as some lackluster scenes receive energy from these contributions, while others seem overly noisy where silence would be preferable.

The film does contain some very good scenes and in places achieves an adequate level of suspense. Those looking for action or for any kind of hero will be disappointed, however. An odd performance notwithstanding, the compulsively watchable presence of Ryan Gosling is, ultimately, at least half of what makes this idiosyncratic effort work to the modest extent that it does.

3.5 grudging stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Only God Forgives is:

[WARNING: POTENTIAL SPOILERS]

6. Drug-ambivalent. The film passes no apparent judgment on the brothers’ drug trafficking. Different characters smoke in an indifferent manner, though Julian’s mother’s exhalations at a restaurant table would seem to be intended to parallel her disrespectful words.

5. Slut-ambivalent. While the film shows the physical danger that goes with a prostitute’s lifestyle, the representative whores are graceful and beautiful creatures who conduct themselves with elegant composure.

4. Pro-miscegenation. Julian engages in voyeurism and limited sexual contact with whores, not from any apparent apprehensions of disease, but out of a misplaced reverence for oriental pussy. His mother enjoys ogling Thai musclemen.

3. Pro-police. Chang, a karaoke singer, exemplifies the law enforcer as fetishized performance artist.

2. Anti-white/anti-racist (i.e., pro-yawn). Several scenes juxtapose white characters’ rudeness, vulgarity, and presumption with Asians’ dignity, good manners, or superior fighting ability. Americans and Europeans, from a sense of their own superiority and Asians’ expendability, go to Thailand to exploit its people, causing them to prostitute themselves or hire themselves out as killers. Making no secret of her feelings, Julian’s mother refers to a “yellow nigger”. The film’s perpetrators also give clear expression to their European inferiority complex and belief in the awesomeness of things Asian by giving the title and credits in Thai, with subtitle-style English credits in smaller type beneath, so that no belching American privileged to enjoy Only God Forgives will get the mistaken impression that his entertainment is any more important than some Thai guy’s.

1. Anti-family. Grotesque family relationships abound in Only God Forgives. Julian, his lascivious mother relates, was envious of her sexual relationship with his brother Billy, and lives in exile after having murdered his father at her behest. A Thai man prostitutes his daughters and may be more aggrieved by the loss of revenue than the loss of his child after one of them is killed. The sight of a retarded boy, meanwhile, reminds viewers of the potential perils of unchecked procreation. Chang appears to have a loving relationship with his daughter, but the brief screen time devoted to this is too little to counterbalance the overwhelming abundance of family dysfunction. Julian acquiesces in his mother’s call for revenge only reluctantly, and with good reason, as his acknowledgment of a pointless blood obligation precipitates his downfall.

yourenextposter

Inexplicably neglected since 2011, with no wide release until now, You’re Next is not only one of the finest film surprises of 2013, but one of the greatest slasher movies ever made. Affectionately versed in its 80s genre heritage, Adam Wingard’s film is a combination slasher and downbeat, darkly comedic family melodrama, almost as if Noah Baumbach had decided to direct a horror movie.

Middle-aged couple Paul (Rob Moran) and Aubrey (Barbara Crampton) are celebrating their wedding anniversary, for which occasion their grown children and their significant others are gathering for a celebration at their country house. Before very long, old sibling rivalries and resentments resurface, both to the family’s chagrin and the audience’s delight; but the funny display of dysfunction at dinner is disrupted when an arrow flies through a window, lodging itself in one guest’s head, and the group realizes that the house is being attacked by an unknown entity or entities. What follows is a Straw Dogs-style siege, a tour de force of storytelling, creative suspense, and invested work from an excellent cast led by Sharni Vinson as Australian heroine Erin.

You’re Next has clearly been crafted with love by people devoted to the genre, and nearly everything in the film is perfect. From delicious moments of tension to elegant use of slow motion, unexpected bits of humor, the obligatory final girl structure, and the reverent casting of genre favorite Barbara Crampton as Aubrey, this is a film by and for those who appreciate the 80s horror inheritance. The experience is further intensified by a supremely effective soundtrack of gothic noise and energizing and inhuman electronica courtesy of scorers Mads Heldtberg, Jasper Justice Lee, and Kyle McKinnon. Director Wingard and writer Simon Barrett are also collaborators on The Guest, a film presently in production, so one can only hope for more morbid magic from that one whenever it gets its release.

5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that You’re Next is a horror which, in the grand old slasher tradition, has a pronounced sense of morality, and also indicates that it is:

[WARNING: SPOILERS]

11. Anti-drug. Vicodin abuse is a sure invitation to victimhood in a slasher film.

10. Anti-police. A police officer, arriving on the scene of the horror too late, gets the wrong idea of the situation in the house and makes what the audience can only view as a fatally tragic error.

9. Anti-miscegenation and anti-Arab. One of the young women is involved with a quiet (or is that aloof? – and presumably somewhat pretentious) “underground” documentary filmmaker named Tariq (Ti West), whose name (“to reek”) suggests offending armpits. These miscegenators are among the first to die. It is worthy of note, however, that this minor character seems to have been designed so as to contradict stereotypical depictions of Arabs (cf. no. 7).

8. Anti-Christian. Paul and Aubrey’s faith is formal and superficial and not shared by the younger set, who give evidence of their contempt as prayer is said at dinner.

7. Immigration-ambivalent. Erin, of tough, self-reliant Australian stock, is the sort of immigrant that the country arguably needs. Tariq’s death is undignified and will not be mourned by the audience (cf. no. 9).

6. Anti-state. The resourceful Erin, the audience learns, was raised by an extremist survivalist father in the Australian outback. Though she is somewhat embarrassed by her past, her father’s doomsday scenario teachings definitely come in handy (see also nos. 3 and 10).

5. Anti-slut. In the film’s opening scene, a couple has what is obviously loveless sex. The shameless woman then gets up and goes to a window without even bothering to cover up her semi-nudity. Naturally, this wanton specimen is the first to die. Goth girl Zee (Wendy Glenn) is a far worse degenerate and demands to have sex next to her boyfriend’s mother’s corpse.

4. Anti-weenie. Generation X/Y men are worthless and incapable of defending themselves.  Drake (Joe Swanberg) is a spoiled brat and philistine, and one senses that devious brothers Felix (Nicholas Tucci) and Crispian (AJ Bowen), apart from being motivated by the fortune they stand to gain (see no. 2), are haunted by a sense of having been insufficiently nurtured as children. Both devoid of anything resembling a work ethic, neither man has the taste for doing his own dirty work. Crispian is a struggling writer who fails to meet with his father’s approval and has probably grown a beard partly to cover up his pudgy features, but also so as to seem to be more of a man, which may also explain his lame tattoo (cf. no. 1). The relativistic hypocrisy of the neutered liberal American male is also spotlighted when Crispian, after having his family slaughtered, actually claims to be a pacifist. (For more on Generation X/Y, see Creep Van)

3. Antiwar. Just as, in the years during and after the Vietnam war, movies exploited the phenomenon of psychologically scarred and dehumanized veterans taking the terror of foreign conflict back to the streets of America in Motor Psycho, Forced Entry, Rolling Thunder, First Blood, Combat Shock, and others in this vein, a wave of films including recent entries Savages, Jack Reacher, and You’re Next has emerged to continue this simultaneously salacious and critical tradition. In You’re Next, a team of coldblooded mercenaries, probably veterans of Iraq or Afghanistan, have been hired to exterminate most of the family for the father’s fortune. Mild-mannered “fascist” Paul, who acquired his wealth as a public relations shill for a defense contractor, has surely guaranteed for himself a painful demise in the unforgiving moral universe of You’re Next.

2. Anti-family/anti-marriage. A wedding anniversary is the occasion of a massacre. Parents Paul and Aubrey are self-absorbed, faintly distant, and perhaps inconsistently affectionate with their children. Felix, along with girlfriend Zee and brother Crispian, plot murder against their parents and brother Drake. The man murdered in the film’s opening scene has, it is later revealed, left his wife for a college girl.

1. Feminist. Erin is forced to lead the home defense and proves to be quite the adept at forging makeshift MacGyver-style weaponry. Of interest is that she uses kitchen wares, the trappings of traditional woman’s work, for violent self-assertion (cf. Vile). Also interesting, though, is that Erin makes a kitchen blunder that might, were she not the final girl, actually have cost her her life. Imagining she has flung boiling water on adversary Felix, she forgets that she earlier turned off the heat. “The water’s not even hot, you dumb bitch,” Felix tells her. Erin, however, quickly recovers and handily dispatches this sexist swine (with his insensitive expectation that women ought to know how to cook) with a triumph of poetic justice, taking advantage of a blender’s exposed mechanism to give him a gruesome homemade lobotomy. Zee, in a parallel characterization, is more ambitiously wicked and assertive in her villainy than wimpy co-conspirator Felix.

Katherine

Katherine aka The Radical (1975) ****

Originally broadcast on television, this worthwhile film asks how a rich college girl from a respectable family could grow to so hate the society that has given her every advantage that she winds up as a bitter domestic terrorist and founding member of the murderous Weathermen Underground.  A pre-Carrie Sissy Spacek stars as the title character, with an unusually energetic Henry Winkler playing her quirky lover and fellow subversive.  To its credit, the film stops short of glorifying revolution, but it does humanize the aspirants in giving a glimpse into their experiences and motivations.  Balancing this, however, is the sympathetic portrayal of Katherine’s conservative parents (Art Carney and Jane Wyatt), who disapprove of their daughter’s decisions but love her and only want to help.  Rounding out the cast is Julie Kavner, future voice of Marge Simpson, as one of Katherine’s college friends whose life follows an entirely different course.  Some of the music is poor, but the film is recommended to anyone interested in the young stars or the radical politics of the period.

4 out of 5 stars.

 

KGB Connections

The KGB Connections (1982) ****1/2

Before Michael Moore and reality television programs popularized the obnoxious, attention-grasping gonzo approach, the documentary used to be a consistently fascinating and dignified form of filmmaking. Thankfully, The KGB Connections, an old-school black-and-white CBC documentary, hails from the days when stark truth was all that was necessary to hold the viewer’s attention. Consisting largely of interviews with CIA men and defectors from communist intelligence services, the film exposes shocking breaches of national security by the KGB, which utilized diplomatic missions (particularly the UN, described as a “nest of spies”) and “illegals”, spies smuggled into the country under false identities, to increasingly undermine U.S. interests throughout the sixties and seventies and into its last decade of existence.  If the film is to be believed, the Soviets even had the ability to monitor the phone calls at the White House and the Pentagon using harmless-looking antennae mounted on their consulate buildings.

The most amusing interviewee is easily Hedda Massing, who during the 1930s was one of the Soviet Union’s most distinguished recruiters of influential American citizens.  Massing and former communist Nathaniel Weyl dish the dirt on traitors Laurence Duggan, Noel Field, and Alger Hiss.  Also of interest is KGB proxy activity through Cuban intelligence and the recruitment and training of young American terrorists like the Weathermen.  There is a spareness to The KGB Connections that will probably not appeal to those with short attention spans, but history buffs and the politically aware will want to take the time to digest its abundance of information.  The unsettling electronic musical stings that introduce the different segments do much to enhance the film’s real eeriness.

4.5 out of 5 stars.

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