Archives for posts with tag: seventies
Laurence Merrick 2

Life imitating art?

One of the many unusual figures whose life trajectory intersects with the Manson Family saga is Laurence Merrick, an Israeli Defense Forces veteran who, as critic Bryan Thomas relates at Night Flight, was sent to the U.S. in 1960 “to speak in support of Zionism, and while he was fundraising in New York City, he met his future wife, a dark-haired aspiring Broadway showgirl and wannabe actress named Joan Huntington.” From there the pair “came out to the west coast, and set up the Merrick Studio, located at 870 N. Vine St. in Hollywood, California, and for a time it was an inexpensive place for actors” – including Vietnam veterans – “to learn lessons about their craft.”

The Merricks were subsidized by the government, too, which enabled them to make a lot of money running the school. They bought a nice house in Beverly Hills and then decided to put their studio profits towards making their own movies, which they could then cast with students from the school, a win-win situation for everybody.

Laurence Merrick

Merrick, Thomas writes, is “probably best known for co-directing the legendary 1972 documentary Manson with Robert Hendrickson, which […] ended up garnering an Academy Award nomination for Best Feature-Length Documentary.” The Israeli “was also well-known in Hollywood […] for the fact that one of his students, Sharon Tate, would later be killed by members of Manson’s Family, during August of 1969, the same year he spent fourteen days directing [the biker film] Black Angels.” Note the interesting choice of words, too, when Thomas relates that Huntington viewed her husband’s movies as “training exercises”.

A 1977 UPI article states that “Merrick became interested in the Manson Family because actress Sharon Tate, who was murdered with four friends by the group, had been a student at his school” – implying that Merrick only took an interest in Manson after the killings had taken place; but Merrick and Hendrickson had begun conducting interviews with Family members “before and after the shocking murders that rocked the nation in 1969,” Thomas indicates (italics added). As his account of the making of Black Angels tantalizes, the totality of Merrick’s involvements with this movie, Tate, and the Manson Family strains the limits of what can be dismissed as mere “synchronicity”:

In fact – in yet another example of the parallels that existed between Southern California’s biker and hippie countercultures – members of Manson’s Family would occasionally drop by Paramount Ranch, located at 2813 Cornell Road, in Agoura, California, and visit the set while Merrick and his cast and crew were filming scenes. […]

Merrick’s script focuses on two biker gangs at each other’s throats, a white motorcycle gang called Satan’s Serpents — led by Chainer (once again played by Merrick’s favorite leading man, Des Roberts) — and a black motorcycle gang, called the Choppers (their leader was played by Bobby Johnston, whose biggest role previous to this one was as a prison guard in In Cold Blood).

The film’s title, Black Angels is actually the name attributed to the highway patrolmen who observe the two rival biker gangs from a distance, waiting for the race-motivated war for turf to explode.

Merrick recruited a real black biker gang to play the Choppers in order to provide authenticity.

The main plot concerns one “Black Angel” in particular – a lieutenant for the highway patrol named Harper (Clancy Syrko, who also edited the film) – who wants to see all of the biker gangs wiped off the face of the earth, and he plots to pit the two gangs against each other so they will end up in a race war leading to both of them being destroyed. […]

Black Angels

It’s interesting to note that this film’s concept of pitting white against black in a race war, in the year 1969, is very similar in some respects to Manson’s concept which he called “Helter Skelter”, an apocalyptic war arising from racial tensions between blacks and white, which he believed was foretold in Chapter 9 of the book of Revelations in the bible (as well as hidden messages he believed he heard in the Beatles’ “Revolution #9”).

Makes you wonder what kinds of conversations they were having at Paramount Ranch between members of the cast and crew and some of Manson’s followers.

There were also many interesting cameo appearances, including a real member of Charles Manson’s gang, Mark Ross (he plays “Singer”), who later claimed to write a theme song for the film that was never used […]

The film’s tagline “God forgives, the Black Angels don’t!,” incidentally, was borrowed from the hugely successful 1967 Italian spaghetti western, God Forgives… I Don’t.

Another tagline – and perhaps another reference to Manson? – was “A portrait of the family.”

Speaking of Manson and his family, again, it was during the film’s production that Merrick was invited to head over to Spahn Ranch, with a 16mm camera, in order to film the Manson family on their own turf.

Merrick also shot footage of them at Devil’s Canyon, their Barker Ranch hideout in Death Valley, and then later – during the Manson trial – at the Hall of Justice in downtown Los Angeles, in addition to other locations.

Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Vincent Bugliosi, who did as much as anyone to shape the public’s perception of the Manson Family mythos, participated in the production of Merrick and Hendrickson’s documentary and appears onscreen.

Guess What Happened to Count Dracula

Des Roberts as Count Adrian in Merrick’s Guess What Happened to Count Dracula?

Merrick’s previous movie, Guess What Happened to Count Dracula?, concerns the occult, mind control, and, at least subtextually, acknowledges Jewish power in Hollywood – and it only intensifies the Tate-LaBianca resonance of Merrick’s work, even featuring a minor character named Sharon. Thomas continues:

The movie featured several of Merrick’s students in key parts, and chiefly concerned what happened to Dracula’s son, Count Adrian (Des Roberts, who plays the vampire while sporting a wicked John Carradine-style goatee). Roberts and his musical partner, Andy Wilder, also provided the film’s musical score.

The film was shot at the Magic Castle in the Hollywood Hills, a mansion built in the 1920s which had been renovated for performances by magicians.

One of Merrick’s students owned the place, and had invited Merrick and his wife over for dinner, which left a lasting impression, and when the couple began thinking of locations where they could shoot their Dracula movie, they both remembered the Magic Castle, which was just about to undergo a renovation. […]

The movie also contains a subplot straight out of the then recent box office smash Rosemary’s Baby, when one character — an actor named Guy (just as John Cassavetes’s character was in Roman Polanski’s film), played by John Landon — is all too willing to sell his soul in return for being given a successful acting career.

It’s also interesting to note that Merrick’s film features a “surprise” ending that was clearly inspired by Polanski’s previous film, 1967’s The Fearless Vampire Killers, or Pardon Me, But Your Teeth Are in My Neck, when Polanski’s future wife Sharon Tate sprouts fangs in the film.

According to Horrorpedia, “more obscure X-rated edits of the film [Guess What Happened to Count Dracula?], with an emphasis on male gay sex, were released as Does Dracula Really Suck? and Dracula and the Boys.”

Adding to the mystique of Merrick’s Manson documentary is the fact that it features Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme caressing a rifle and explaining, “You have to make love with it; you have to know it […] so that you could pick it up any second and shoot.” This interview took place several years before Fromme was convicted of (supposedly) having attempted to assassinate President Gerald Ford in Sacramento. Merry Prankster and founding Yippie Paul Krassner claims that Manson sent him a letter instructing him to get into touch with Fromme around 1971:

I called, and we arranged to meet at her apartment in Los Angeles. On an impulse, I brought several tabs of acid with me on the plane. […]

The four of us [Krassner, Fromme, and her roommates Sandra Good and Brenda McCann] ingested those little white tablets containing 300 micrograms of LSD, then took a walk to the office of Laurence Merrick, who had been associated with schlock biker exploitation movies as the prerequisite to directing a sensationalist documentary, Manson.

Squeaky’s basic vulnerability emerged as she kept pacing around and telling Merrick that she was afraid of him. He didn’t know we were tripping, but he must have sensed the vibes. He may even have gotten a touch of contact high. I engaged him in conversation about movies. We discussed the fascistic implications of The French Connection.

Was Fromme “afraid” of the Merrick from the effects of the LSD – or did she have other reasons? This brief encounter, whatever its meaning, in combination with Fromme’s participation in Merrick and Hendrickson’s Manson constitutes another Israeli connection to an eccentric piece of American political assassination drama following the various Jewish and Zionist intrigues surrounding the murder of John F. Kennedy.

Bizarrely, Merrick himself was murdered in an outrageous episode further dissolving any distinction between reality and theater. Bryan Thomas relates the bizarre incident:

Dennis MignanoThen, in 1977, Merrick’s life would intersect fatally with a potential acting student named Dennis Mignano, who – much like Manson himself – had really wanted to have a music career, but when that didn’t pan out, the struggling rock singer decided to take acting lessons.

That decision had led him straight to Merrick Studio – which by now was teaching classes in acting, directing and cinematography – where he applied to be a student.

He believed that Merrick – due to his association with Manson, bikers, and magic – was the perfect person to help him launch a successful acting career (Mignano had reportedly been obsessed with magic as a child).

Mignano filled out an application to be a student, and then was told he was eligible for government assistance to pay for his tuition, but he had to wait for three weeks for the application to be processed.

Mignano grew irritated and felt like the delay was yet another setback and a disappointment, but he waited, and while he did so he watched episodes of a 1976 TV mini-series called Helter Skelter, which just happened to be re-airing on TV.

The TV series may have played a small part in reminding him that his life was now intertwined with Merrick’s and he then became obsessed with the idea that Merrick had actually placed a curse on him.

On January 26th, 1977, he went to the school and waited in ambush for Merrick to appear in the parking lot for a few hours and then pulled out a pistol and shot 50-year old Laurence Merrick in the back.

Mignano then fled the scene, and much like the opening scene of Richard Rush’s 1980 action film The Stunt Man – which, and get this, starred actor Steve Railsback, who had played Charles Manson in the Helter Skelter mini-series – he, by pure chance, happened upon a movie being shot mere blocks away, on Willoughby Ave., and the killer blended in with the crew (just as Railsback’s character did), pretending to be part of the film production team.

Merrick, meanwhile, staggered into his office at the studio, telling his students “Some son of a bitch shot me and I don’t even know why!” Some of the students thought they were witnessing an impromptu acting exercise, but quickly realized that their teacher was dying in front of them.

Merrick was rushed to Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital, but he was pronounced dead within an hour. Students at the Merrick Studio Academy of Dramatic Arts said that Mignano had been hanging around the building all morning, asking them questions about Merrick and his Manson documentary.

Mignano confessed to the crime in 1981 and was confined to a mental institution. Six months after his murder of Merrick, Mignano’s sister Michele, a topless dancer, was also murdered – a case that remains unsolved. Questions about Merrick remain, as well. Why was his actors’ studio receiving government funding? Did his work on behalf of Israel end after he left New York for Los Angeles – or did it continue in some capacity as he interacted with the Manson Family and completed his films?

Rainer Chlodwig von K.

Paul Morrissey

Paul Morrissey

Mention Paul Morrissey and movies about transvestites, heroin addicts, and other varieties of lowlife are likely to come to mind; but the director of such films as Flesh (1968) and Heat (1972) holds very different views than one might assume from a first impression of these films and from his professional association with Andy Warhol. “Staunchly conservative, Morrissey still frowns upon the moral and artistic state of America today,” writes Steve Ryfle, who interviewed the filmmaker in 2000. Rather, Morrissey’s vintage films reflect his view that “modern American life was going down the toilet.”1 David Bahr of The New York Times writes:

Paul Morrissey disdains rock music, abhors recreational drugs and thinks even less of liberal politics. When asked his views on sex, he pauses for a moment, looks his inquisitor in the eye and says: “I’m Catholic. I’m with Rome 100 percent.”

Such sentiments may seem surprising coming from a director whose films luxuriate in the libertine lives of heroin users, masturbating transvestites and polymorphous-perverse male prostitutes. Yet Mr. Morrissey – who from 1966 to 1972 directed more than half a dozen movies produced by Andy Warhol, discovered the avant-garde rock band the Velvet Underground and once saw a court label his work “obscene, vulgar and profane” – believes he’s misunderstood, to say nothing of misrepresented.2

Morrissey situates his work outside the counterculture and characterizes it instead as his disapproving reaction to the general collapse of morality as it occurred around him:

There’s something I realized years later, after I had made all the films, although I probably realized it at the time even though I wasn’t conscious of it. At that time, there was this idea that was just coming in – the media was just getting hold of it, and the music world was just screaming its lungs out about how great it was – saying you could do whatever you want. That was really idiotic, and stupid and foolish and silly, unbelievably stupid.

People, by the late sixties, were doing whatever they felt like, and nobody gave a damn.

“I understood that these people were good story material, good subjects to show where life had gotten to, and how pathetic it was,” Morrissey explains.3 Blood for Dracula (1974), for instance, imagines a future-shocked traditionalist vampire (Udo Kier) who despairs of finding virgin blood to drink in the sexually free and easy 1970s, while Trash (1970) depicts the boredom of heroin dependency. “So much of the culture glamorized drugs at the time,” remarks frequent Morrissey leading man Joe Dallesandro. “Paul wanted to show the seedier side, where it all led to.”4 Women in Revolt (1972), which utilizes a cast of transvestites for satirical purposes, mocks the increasingly noisy and confrontational feminist movement of the day. “I thought it would be funny if they were playing women who were converted to lesbianism by the women’s lib movement,” Morrissey says. “The whole women’s thing was so ridiculous. ‘We don’t need men,’ and all that.”5

The director envisioned his Madame Wang’s (1981) as a satire of nonexistent American values and the decline of Western Civilization:

The huge Masonic Temple was a Greek temple, it represented past culture, and it was abandoned and lived in by derelict female impersonators. That was my take on Americans, especially Southern California Americans. They couldn’t care less about anything, except maybe getting up in drag or doing a punk rock show and screaming and throwing themselves on the floor. And the poor Russian agent comes from East Germany and says, “I’ve got to meet Jane Fonda, we’re taking over this country one day, and we have to have all of our operatives in place and I’m one of them.” And everyone says, “great, so what?”6

Morrissey gives the following explication of his comedy flop Spike of Bensonhurst (1988), in which his “pain in the ass” protagonist (Sasha Mitchell) “treats everybody like dirt, and does whatever he wants”:

The little switcheroo, which I thought was the point of the story, was that finally when someone disciplines him it turns out to be the best thing that happens to him. The idea that there are some standards and a sense of order in the world somewhere […]7

Like so many avowed conservatives in American politics, however, Morrissey’s work reveals his complicity in the projects of the culture destroyers even as he professes traditionalism. The mundane drugs-and-drag depravity of his classic oeuvre, while successfully illustrating the emptiness of the revolutions in sexuality and consciousness that had been engineered during the 1960s, also serves to normalize the ascendant dysfunction.

“Life is so second rate now,” Morrissey assesses.

And that idea that life has degenerated to a second rate position was part of the story to all those movies. I still don’t see that as a story element in any other movies – the obvious fact that life today is so much poorer than it was before. And I don’t think you can tell that story unless you’re aware that there’s a difference now. Most people don’t even know there’s a difference between today and before.8

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

Endnotes

  1. Ryfle, Steve. “Life Is a Toilet: The Films of Director Paul Morrissey”. Shock Cinema 17 (Fall-Winter 2000), p. 18.
  2. Bahr, David. “Conservative Bard of the Demimonde”. The New York Times (February 27, 2000): http://www.nytimes.com/2000/02/27/movies/film-conservative-bard-of-the-demimonde.html?pagewanted=all
  3. Ryfle, Steve. “Life Is a Toilet: The Films of Director Paul Morrissey”. Shock Cinema 17 (Fall-Winter 2000), p. 18.
  4. Bahr, David. “Conservative Bard of the Demimonde”. The New York Times (February 27, 2000): http://www.nytimes.com/2000/02/27/movies/film-conservative-bard-of-the-demimonde.html?pagewanted=all
  5. Ryfle, Steve. “Life Is a Toilet: The Films of Director Paul Morrissey”. Shock Cinema 17 (Fall-Winter 2000), p. 20.
  6. Ibid., p. 21.
  7. Ibid.
  8. Ibid., p. 19.

Reagan Devil

Regular readers of icareviews are aware of this writer’s interest in shadow government and conspiracy lore. Here, then, if only for the benefit of a chuckle, is a theory that is admittedly rather loony, but nevertheless possessed of a certain poetic charm and appropriateness. It comes from attorney Richard J. Bisbee’s novel Capitalism Imperfectly Understood:

In 2000 I met my favorite client, a woman of about my age, Angela Churchill. True to her name, she was a “church lady,” a regular at the local Catholic Church. […] In 1973 as a young adult she was profoundly affected by the movie, The Exorcist. A few years later, she began hearing “spiritual voices.” She became convinced that she was “demon possessed.” […] Her psychiatrist concluded that she would only cooperate with him if exorcism was tried. He convinced the local Bishop to authorize an exorcism for “therapeutic purposes.” […] Amid much drama, no doubt inspired by the movie, the “demon” was drawn out and expelled, sent “back to Hell.” […]

By 1976 her life was back on track. […]

But Angela’s “vision” was not limited to the afterlife and world of spirits. During her “demonic possession,” she believed that she had been given a special insight into American politics. It all went back to the 1973 movie, The Exorcist. The book of the same name was based on a real life story, the alleged “possession” of a boy. In the movie, a girl named Regan who lives in Washington D.C., is possessed by a spirit that arises from an artifact dug up in Northern Iraq.

Angela’s special insight was that this movie was actually a “coded message” from “Hollywood insiders” regarding the “demonic possession of the American Presidency.” Regan is but a variation of Reagan. In the sixties, Ronald Reagan had been Governor of California, and by 1973 was already being touted as an eventual President. […]

Exorcist

Angela was convinced that Reagan was “demon possessed.” That dark, Satanic powers guided his every move. And that he worshiped Mammon, a pagan god from the Old Testament who was now a demon. Pagan gods were often relegated to demon status in Catholic mythology. Angela was convinced that Reagan, once President, would turn the country over to Mammon, the god of money and greed. […]

Years later when Reagan won election, she was not surprised. It was all coming true, just as she had foreseen. Reagan’s deregulation of the financial industry led directly to the Bank and Savings & Loan bailouts. Their association with mobsters and reliance on astrologers confirmed Angela’s conviction that the Reagans were not true Christians. And that they had given the country over to mobsters turned financiers. […] Even Reagan’s name presaged evil: Ronald Wilson Reagan, three names with six letters each, or “666.” […]

Her disapproval was not limited to the Reagans. Indeed, Angela believed that “the demon” or “demons” continued to “possess” subsequent Presidents and other politicians. The trend toward a “Wall Street government” continued under George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Increasingly, speculators on Wall Street were gambling with the life savings of the people, both in America and worldwide. Usury laws were rescinded. Increasingly, the rich were allowed to prey at will upon the people. Greed was everywhere, corrupting the people with false values and “idols.”

Hmm …

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

Endnotes

Bisbee, Richard J. Capitalism Imperfectly Understood. Bloomington, IN: AuthorHouse, 2011, pp. 251-254.

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Black Mass poster

A decidedly drab and unglamorous but still magnetic Johnny Depp appears as South Boston gangster James “Whitey” Bulger in Black Mass, a true crime film from Scott Cooper, the director of the excellent Out of the Furnace. As much as it constitutes a crime saga, however, Black Mass is also a cautionary study of ethnonationalism. The film’s handling of the material is mostly sober, but veers dangerously close to the glorification of violence in more than one sequence – with, for instance, dance floor booty intercut with the discovery of a body in the trunk of a car. Depp maintains a controlled burn throughout, and the other players – Joel Edgerton, Rory Cochrane, and Dakota Johnson among them – are also commendably strong. Definitely worthwhile for crime film fans.

4.5 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Black Mass is:

6. Pro-miscegenation. Joel Edgerton enjoys a lewd dance with a black woman.

5. Anti-Christian, but not as vociferously so as one might be led to expect by the film’s title and the promotional trailer. Christian paraphernalia loses its meaning in the context of remorseless murderer Bulger’s participation in empty rituals.

4. Anti-drug. Aspirin doses debilitate Bulger’s son (Luke Ryan) with Reye’s Syndrome, which leaves him braindead. Bulger, while heartbroken by this, shows no concern for the neighborhood kids who buy his drugs. Learning that Bulger participated in government LSD experiments, the viewer is left to speculate that this might have exacerbated his madness and criminal inclinations.

3. Euthanasist. Bulger’s wife (Johnson) prefers to take their son off life support rather than see him continue as a vegetable. “He’s never gonna be our little boy again, ever. […] He’s braindead. He’s on life support. He can’t move, and I don’t want him like that. I can’t have my little boy be like that. I’ll pull the plug myself. I will.” Clashing with the mother’s reasonable assessment of the situation is Bulger’s irrational anger as he curses his wife, kicks over a chair, and knocks a table on its side, with the heavy irony here being that a gangster and murderer, of all people, has become the advocate for the sanctity of human life.

2. State-skeptical. Government is only as worthy as the men who fill the responsible posts. The Winter Hill Gang bribes “local street cops, feds, whatever” in exchange for the cooperation of authorities.

1. Anti-white. Black Mass opens with an interrogation conducted by a federal agent resembling Eric Holder. James “Whitey” Bulger’s nickname is highly significant, as well, as is brought to the fore in a brief scene in which a black man tells him, “This ain’t your neighborhood, Whitey,” and receives a brutal beating in reply. Bulger is an Irish nationalist determined to retake territory from Boston’s “oppressor” Italians, and he and his gang have nothing but contempt for an Irish-American “turncoat motherfucker” like Officer Flynn (David Conley), who works for the other side. Bulger, as his empire grows with the help of childhood acquaintance and FBI investigator John Connolly (Edgerton), who sees to it that the Bureau overlooks his activities, even assists the IRA with shipments of arms. “What is written on a piece of paper [i.e., law] is less important than blood,” Connolly excuses his actions.

“The only time he ever seemed happy was when he was talking about the IRA,” one of Bulger’s associates remembers – the implication being that European ethnic exclusiveness holds a special attraction for gloomy people with unsatisfying lives. The name of the boat, the “Valhalla”, used to transport the weapons, carries associations with Nordicism and Nazism, and that Black Mass should be largely concerned with discrediting ethnonationalism is hardly surprising when Hollywood Zionist sleazoid Brett Ratner’s name shows up in the end credits as an executive producer. Ethnic solidarity is framed as a hollow ideology providing protection for white crime and terrorism. Bulger’s “code of honor”, furthermore, does not prevent him from introducing drugs into his own neighborhood. A Jewish actor, Corey Stoll, plays the upstanding FBI investigator who finally brings “Whitey” Bulger to justice.

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

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[Ideological Content Analysis is pleased to present a guest review of the psychoactive pseventies TV artifact The Point by Germanicus Fink.]

PointThe Point was the ABC movie of the week and aired on February 2nd, 1971. Since television was the most popular form of home entertainment at that time one can easily deduce that they wanted as many people as possible to see it. Also, since it was broadcast on a Tuesday evening rather than on a weekend, it’s also safe to assume they wanted young people to see it because, Tuesday being a school night they knew that most kids would be stuck at home.

This film was such an obvious instance of social engineering it’s actually kind of redundant that I’m even bothering to review its ideological content, but I think the fact most people have either long forgotten it or are too young to ever have seen it makes the endeavor somewhat worthwhile.

The movie was allegedly based on the Harry Nilsson album of the same name; but, considering the movie aired only a month after the album’s release, clearly the two projects were more closely intertwined than that.

PointNilssonNilsson, at least according to my facile research, was not himself Jewish, but Norm Lenzer who wrote the screenplay for the television movie, obviously is.

According to Nilsson, who was a pretty popular songwriter and musician in his day, the idea for this album was conceived when he was on acid and he had an epiphany where he said to himself, “Oh! Everything has a point, and if it doesn’t, then there’s a point to it.”. It must have been some weak acid if that was all he got out of it.

Actually, the acid story was likely a lie. It was very popular at the time to ascribe inspiration for well-known contemporary artistic works to drug experiences. The thinking was that these ideas were already out there, floating around in the zeitgeist, and that certain substances made you more sensitive to these ‘cosmic trends’. However, anybody with any idea of what’s actually going on knows this is nonsense and that really all these subversive concepts were deliberately injected into the mass consciousness by manipulative little Semitic trolls.

So, contrary to what your old, burned-out hippie aunt or art teacher tells you, things didn’t change all by themselves because the “time was right”. That kind of talk is all just empty-headed, new age baloney.

The feature is animated in that intentionally sloppy and scribbly style which was pretty common in the late 60s and early 70s. The songs were made to sound sedate and old-fashioned. There was a “nostalgia craze” around this time, an obvious reaction to all the new toxins our hostile elites were starting to force-feed us in ever increasing doses. Naturally, faced with all this new insanity most people pined away for simpler times when life actually made some sort of sense. Of course those Chosen hacks also cleaned up on exploiting that aspect of the madness they choreographed. They never miss an opportunity to turn a buck.

I’ve provided a link to this movie on Youtube. This version is narrated by Ringo Starr. They used Dustin Hoffman in the televised presentation, which I thought worked much better, but due to a contractual conflict they had to ditch him for the video release.

Anyway, on to the actual film:

PointOblioWe are shown a town where everything has a point, even the people. Everything and everyone has a point directed at the heavens until one day a child is born named Oblio, who has no point at all, just a round head. To compensate for his deformity, he wears a pointed cap while out in public.

Oblio is a happy, sociable, and well liked kid until one day, after being challenged to a game of “triangle toss” by the Count’s evil son, he soundly defeats him in front of a cheering crowd of their school mates. Triangle Toss is the official sport of the Pointed village and is played by catching a triangle on the point of one’s head. Since Oblio suffers an obvious handicap here, he is permitted to play assisted by his dog Arrow who has a long pointed snout.

Interesting side note here, keep in mind this was the early 70s so all these communist ideas had yet to take firm root in this country. Although all the pointed townsfolk are orange, the evil Count and his son are dark purple and the good guy, Oblio, is bright White. LOL!

The count is so outraged that Oblio defeated his son in front of all the young men in the town that he holds a tribunal and insists Oblio be banished from the town for “not having a point” which violates the letter of the law of the Pointed Village.

While this meeting is in session, we hear one of the women in the audience say to another woman who confessed to feeling sorry for Oblio, “Listen, neither one of us were born yesterday, and we both know that if we let one of Oblio’s kind stay, ugh, before long the whole village will be crawling with…”  I like how the opposition likes to quote things we may have said or thought back at us in a mocking way while always neglecting to explain exactly what is wrong or mistaken about such sentiments. This is a psychological trick they use. It’s enough to make us look or feel ridiculous. There is little need to give a cogent explanation of the facts of the matter after successfully having done that. Again, they always play directly on the emotions and entirely bypass rational thought.

Funny side note here: It seems that this movie is saying negroes are pointless.

In another scene soon after the above mentioned, some other woman was going on about what a polite kid Oblio was when a man interrupted her by saying, “Yeah, but would you want your daughter marrying one?”, and the woman responded by saying, “You are baiting me! You are deliberately baiting me!”, which, again, evades answering the question, “How would you feel about your offspring mixing your genes with a freak?” Concerns like these are not altogether as groundless as they would have you believe.

PointRingoThe tribunal decides, although reluctantly, to banish Oblio and his dog into the Pointed Forest which surrounds the village.

In the next scene we see the whole town gathered at the gate to see Oglio off. “Stay loose O!” we hear one person shout as he is leaving to the Pointed Forest and all the contrived adventures that await him.

Upon entering the Pointless Forest the first entity they encounter is a three-headed being called the Pointed Man who checks in with Oblio and his dog from time to time throughout the film. Evidently, even in the Pointless Forest one needs someone with a point to point things out to you, but according to this character himself, “To point in every direction is the same as having no point at all”. I really don’t know how people back then were able to even stomach this pretentious crap.

Later Oblio encounters a rock man who tells him, “Us stone folks are everywhere, just open your eyes and look around you. There’s a whole family of us rock folk”, and, “You don’t have to have a point to have a point”. I think by now we can all see where this is going and what the message is they are trying convey to the young people of 1971. It was only seven years since the Civil Rights Act, and six years after the Open Immigration Act so they were busily paving the way through the American mind toward that jewtopian, multicultural, gender-fluid Nirvana that was looming large on our collective horizon!

Then they discover a bottomless hole that throws a pie into their faces after singing them a song about loneliness. This one segment epitomizes the Semitic entertainment industry as a whole in my opinion.

After they venture deeper into the forest they meet an enterprising Jewish tree who claims to be in the leaf business and doesn’t want to let anyone step on his leaves claiming it costs him money because he turns “green leaves into greenbacks”. The Jewish tree then offers Oblio and Arrow what he assures them is a golden opportunity in the leaf business. However, when they inform him “they have no roots”, the Tree man retracts this offer.

PointCoverAfter this Oblio and his dog are abducted by a giant bird that deposits them on a giant egg. The huge egg then hatches, revealing an exceedingly small bird, whom Oglio tries to converse with. He interprets all his various squawks as questions and he strives to answer them all. This is the whole movie in a nutshell, answering questions nobody has bothered to ask in the first place.

The Pointed Man then shows up, and during the course of the mostly one-sided conversation he mockingly tells Oglio he’s “thinking”, and that “thinking is very destructive indeed! If a person does enough thinking, knowledge is sure to follow. The results, Sonny Boy, is a life of misery!”  That certainly would not result from this kind of ersatz thinking and questioning, which is more along the lines of a guided tour through a nursery. It avoids hard-hitting questions and, most importantly, does not question or interfere with the powers that be. Shoot a bit higher, however, and the results could be fatal! However, it’s perfectly safe to question your parents and religious leaders (unless you happen to be Jewish). Hell, you should question ALL authority! At least, that’s what they were telling us young folks back in the 1970s before these aliens completely commandeered the establishment.

After this corny exchange the Pointed Man again vanishes. Oblio wonders aloud where he always vanishes to and he pops back briefly to inform him, saying, “The Vanishing Point, naturally!”

Right after this he has to rescue Arrow, who has somehow slipped into this hidden dimension. (For some reason Jooz are obsessed with hidden dimensions and alternate realities. Something about their own deceptive natures possibly?) “That vanishing point. Hmpf! It only made it so I couldn’t see you, it didn’t make it so you really weren’t there!” Oblio muses to himself. Then he goes on to say, “I’m starting to think that the Pointless Man, as nice as he was, was the only pointless thing in the forest…I don’t think having a point on your head is so important after all. It’s what’s in your head that’s most important!”

After Oblio arrives at this disingenuous conclusion he heads back to the Pointless Village where he is accepted back with much boisterous fanfare and announces to the ecstatic citizens that everything has a point, exclusive of whether or not they display a physical point on their bodies.

All the while the Count frantically tries to shout everyone down like an overexcited, irrational hothead. Anybody who dares question the social conditioning is always portrayed as a frothing, senseless lunatic.

After Oblio presents his piece, the Count knocks off his pointed cap in a fit of anger, revealing that now Oblio actually has a point on his head! Then the points disappear from the heads of the evil Count and his son who immediately run and hide from humiliation and fear!

Inexplicably, after Oblio had grown his own point, all the people and buildings in the village lost theirs! This all makes even less sense than Oblio being welcomed back into the village after he was officially banished. This is never explained as it occurs at the tail end of the film, nor can I think of any rational reason for such an outrageous and unexpected turn of events!

The only explanation I can concoct to answer for this is that this film was an autobiographical effort about the Jews themselves and how they were exiled from various European countries and how they managed to turn everything upside down after they had managed to worm their ways back in the last time. Of course this was done through deception and trickery but don’t expect them to confess to that.

3 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that The Point is:

4. Pro-family. A father reads a story about a kid who lives at home with his mother and father to his own son.

3. Anti-drug. The film shows no drug use or drinking, which is pretty amazing since everyone in the entertainment business at the time was hopped up on something! [But the fact that Nilsson acknowledged LSD as an inspiration makes The Point, if not explicitly, then implicitly, an extrafilmically pro-drug effort. – Ed.]

2. Pro-pedophilia. The candy shop owner gives Oblio a candy bar as he leaves for the Pointed Forest, and on his return he shouts out to him,  “Come by the shop Oblio! I have some butterballs for you! Round! Completely round!”

1. Pro-Diversity. I don’t think I should have to explain why since that’s a no-brainer.

Germanicus Fink

[Read Germanicus Fink’s review of Party Monster here.]

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The Ideological Content Analysis 30 Days Putsch

30 Reviews in 30 Days

DAY TWENTY-SEVEN

Eaters

Five friends taking a road trip through New Mexico find themselves reduced to four after taking a bathroom break at a desert rest stop. Assuming a gang of bikers to have been responsible for the abduction, the friends go in pursuit of the hellraisers in the desperate hope of locating the missing woman. What awaits them when they arrive at a literal tourist trap, however, is much more frightening than a bunch of drug-dealing motorcycle enthusiasts in denim jackets. Eaters is, as its title hints, essentially a rip-off of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre; but as rehashed Texas Chain Saw Massacre coattail-riders go, Eaters is passable fare, if not particularly meaty.

4 out of 5 stars. Ideological Content Analysis indicates that Eaters is:

3. Liberal, reinforcing the notion that the cities are the refuge of psychological health, while what lies out in the country is creepy, criminal, patriarchal, and pathologically white.

2. Anti-war. One of the friends (Robert Dean) is a Vietnam veteran (the story is set in the seventies) and recalls his loss of a friend in the war. He later draws a comparison between the inhuman brutality he observed in combat and the titular antagonists’ mean cuisine.

1. Anti-Christian. A discordant music box rendition of “Amazing Grace” plays in the redneck cannibals’ home, the insinuation being that they are some sort of religious nuts. Their clothing also vaguely suggests the Amish.

Rainer Chlodwig von Kook

Cat Creature

The Cat Creature (1973) ****

A suspenseful TV movie with a solid genre pedigree, The Cat Creature was written by Psycho novelist Robert Bloch and directed by Curtis Harrington, whose previous forays into horror included the Shelley Winters classics What’s the Matter with Helen? (1971) and Whoever Slew Auntie Roo? (1972). The Cat Creature‘s hokey but involving story melds elements from old standards Dracula (1931), The Mummy (1932), and Cat People (1942), for a film that reverentially prowls familiar territory, but also marks it with a distinctive musk.

A young Meredith Baxter stars as Rena, a shy woman who takes a job working for sinister Hester Black (Gale Sondergaard) in her occult curiosity shop in Hollywood, catering to dykes, eccentrics, and satanic dilettantes. Things seem to be going well for her until a police detective (Stuart Whitman) comes to question her about a missing Egyptian amulet and drops the bombshell that her predecessor jumped to her death from a balcony.

People have been succumbing to strange, cat-related deaths ever since a “part-time handyman, full-time wino”, and burglar (Kung Fu‘s Keye Luke) stole the amulet from a mummy’s coffin. Meanwhile, the police have brought in a charming archaeologist (David Hedison), who hopes to put the moves on Rena while also solving the mystery of the amulet and all the horrible catty crimes associated with its discovery. Will the professor be able to figure it all out before more are murdered and Rena falls prey to an ancient and evil Egyptian agenda?

The Cat Creature is a relatively classy (albeit low-budget) affair until a high-camp climactic twist knocks it straight into the gonzosphere. Laughable ending notwithstanding, the film has enough going for it to warrant horror aficionados’ attention. The future hippie mother of Alex P. Keaton looks sweet and innocent enough to munch, while Whitman lends the film some weight with his usual air of cool, haggard authority and experience. John Carradine also has a cameo appearing alongside a drunk midget whore.

4 out of 5 stars.

Manhattan Baby poster

Manhattan Baby (1982) ***1/2

This Poltergeist-inspired spaghetti chiller has a reputation as something of a bastard stepchild among the works of gore specialist Lucio Fulci. This is unsurprising, considering that most of the movie is bloodless and comes up short in the scares department. However, for those who appreciate the director more for his stylistic tendencies – his unsubtle closeups, languid pacing, tedium punctuated with shrill hysterics, and spacy evocations of vague sensations and dreamlike states of being – Manhattan Baby finds the master mining the mother lode. Great gore there is, though, particularly toward the end, when a flock of taxidermied birds spring to life and swoop into ravenous action, pecking and ripping some sad Italian greaseball to shreds.

What plot there is concerns an archaeologist (Christopher Connelly) whose daughter becomes possessed by something evil in Egypt after receiving an amulet from a blind beggar woman in a desolate square; but Manhattan Baby is less concerned with plot points or logic than with atmospherics and strange set pieces, sometimes seeming less like a narrative feature than a series of otherworldly, disconnected episodes. Certainly, this one is going to be a difficult sell to anyone other than devoted Lucio Fulci fans and hardcore Italo-horror buffs, who will also enjoy the sight of familiar faces like Connelly (Raiders of Atlantis), child actor Giovanni Frezza (The House by the Cemetery), and Fulci himself in a cameo. Anybody who does have a taste for such fare, however, really does need to see the aforementioned scene of the man-eating birds.

3.5 of 5 possible stars. (Only earning a solid three stars, Manhattan Baby receives an extra charity half-star for featuring blue 80s lasers that zap Christopher Connelly in the eyes.)

Ideological Content Analysis sorrowfully presents

60swomanfunicello

90swomanmadonna

The American Woman Through the Years

A scarifying and sobering stroll through serial sociological horrors!

(click for slideshow)

Naturally, everyone prefers a pleasurable moviegoing experience to a sharply unpleasant one; and yet, as adventurous, seasoned, and discriminating cinephiles already know, there is something instructive and salutary in an occasional trip to cinema’s Dark Side and a philosophically minded sojourn in the Movie House of Pain.  This is the tenebrous, nightmarish place (think Hellraiser and picture hooks and chains slowly swaying and clinking in unfathomable darkness) where nothing worthwhile is ever projected, where filth alone adorns the screen, and where Boredom and Loathing wait like lewdly lip-licking Cenobites to bind and eviscerate the viewer.  These are the experiences, after all, which give good and great movies their significance, just as, without the darkness, light itself would be impossible.

A case in point is Betty and Coretta, a Canadian-made Lifetime Network movie about Betty Shabazz (Mary J. Blige) and Coretta Scott King (Angela Bassett), the respective widows of martyred rabble rousers Malcolm X and Martin King.  Superfluous beyond belief, this most recent hosanna out of the Martin King Cult is exactly the film one would expect it to be: a stoic, vapid, stylistically sterile, and self-congratulatory cardboard reenactment of highlights from the lives of two not particularly fascinating women as they bravely continue to live their lives whole decades after the touted events that made them even tangentially relevant to anyone other than themselves – much of it punctuated, of course, by a soundtrack of the obligatory soulful moaning.

Considering the inconsequential nature of the women’s stories following their husbands’ deaths, Betty and Coretta understandably suffers from a lack of interesting event or forward narrative momentum.  Follow Coretta Scott King as she boldly faces reporters who have the nerve to question her about the FBI recordings.  Follow Betty Shabazz as she bravely raises a daughter troubled by nightmares after her father’s murder. Follow Coretta Scott King as she graciously gives multiple inspiring speeches and lobbies to get a holiday named after her husband.  Follow Betty Shabazz as she boldly hosts her own radio talk show.  Follow Coretta Scott King and Betty Shabazz as they admirably persevere, eat lunch, exchange brave mothering insights, move on up, and boldly shop for shoes together.  Betty’s public accusation that Louis Farrakhan (Alex C. Askew) had a hand in Malcolm X’s murder is as confrontational as the movie ever gets, and even this subplot fails to engage.

Worse, screenwriters Ron Hutchinson and Shem[p?] Bitterman’s script is rock-hard stale bread all the way, with Coretta Scott King sounding every time she opens her mouth as if she suspects the pious stenographers of black historical destiny may be hiding behind a curtain and recording her every word, calling her husband a “vessel for greatness” and arguing that “we need to consecrate his legacy.”  Angela Bassett’s wooden performance perfectly mirrors the empty verbiage she recites, and Malik Yoba is just as boring as Great Doctor Junior Himself.  Mary J. Blige fares better in her role, coming across much more naturally, but the dialogue does the actress no favors.  Lindsay Owen Pierre is unworthy of note as Malcolm X, and Ruby Dee, who narrates the film as a pseudo-documentary interviewee, gives evidence of incipient senility as she delivers her lines in halting, awkward syllables and sometimes even appears to read from cue cards as her eyes dart unsettlingly from side to side.

A star and a half.  Ideological Content Analysis, after being stretchered out of the Movie House of Pain like a wounded and bloodied trooper, indicates that Betty and Coretta is:

8. Pro-bastard.  Betty’s daughter keeps it real and skips the marriage bit.

7. Anti-gun.  Betty’s daughter has nightmares about men with guns.

6. Anti-miscegenation.  Betty’s daughter’s white live-in guyfriend, as if wiping his nose before offering to shake hands with Betty is not bad news enough already, also turns out to be a dastardly spy for the FBI.

5. Selectively anti-state.  The FBI is an antagonist, as are the congressmen who oppose the creation of the national King holiday.  (All the FBI probably needs, though, is a quota system, for it to become a tool for progress.)

4. Egalitarian.  Coretta campaigns for “economic justice” and identifies poverty as one of the evils plaguing America.

3. Statist/pro-NWO.  “Can you believe it?” Betty says, exasperated.  “Another round of budget cuts.  When are taxpayers gonna learn?  Pay a little now or a whole lot later.”  The film opens with witness to history Ruby Dee gushing at the momentous dedication of a King statue by President B.O.  Coretta longs for “a new world [order], a just world, a world dedicated to fayuhness and equality for awl.”  The UN is referenced as a weapon for forcing social change in America.

2. Feminist/black uber alles.  “You don’t need a man to survive,” Betty tells a student.  “You just need some trainin’ so you can get a good job.”  Addressing herself to black women, Coretta defiantly intones, “Weeee awwww a powuhful fawss.”

1. Anti-racist (i.e., pro-yawn).  Imagine that.  And yet, in an unintentional irony, as soon as Betty has enough money, she gets “a nice home, away from the city [and her fellow blacks, presumably], where Betty could give her children the sheltered life she had dreamed of.”  Still, “Every time a neighbor see us, they think we gone blow somethin’ up.”  Bigots!

BettyPin2

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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