My introduction to Ben Wheatley was Sightseers, a film based on characters so hilariously loathsome I wasn’t even sure I actually liked the movie until days later. That’s when I knew that Wheatley, who already had two other features under his belt (Down Terrace, Kill List), was destined for greatness.
Wheatley has only directed three films since then—A Field In England, High-Rise, and Free Fire—and is still working, so he might seem an odd subject for a career retrospective. This is something that film critic Adam Nayman acknowledges in his new book Ben Wheatley: Confusion and Carnage. It’s a clever bit of self-deprecation that puts the reader at ease.
By Tim Murr
Fernando is a drug dealer from Mexico living in Austin, Texas. He works for a man named Guillermo and is doing all right for himself since crossing “la frontera.” Then one night he’s attacked, shoved into a trunk, and presented to a man named Indio. Indio isn’t the kind of man you usually find in Austin; a large, powerfully built monster, covered in so many tattoos that his skin is almost black. He wants to take over much of Guillermo’s territory and wants Fernando to deliver a message. Part of that message involves having to watch the torture and murder of his colleague Nestor. So begins Zero Saints, a fearful, fast-paced descent into what may be the final few days of un hombre invisible.
By Tim Murr
Lucio Fulci’s Zombie comic from Eibon Press
Stephen Romano and company have made a huge splash with their first series, an adaptation/on-going series based on the Lucio Fulci classic Zombie, the infamously gory 1979 Italian flick that served as an unofficial sequel to George Romero’s Dawn Of The Dead. The comic features fantastic art in glorious color and comes packed in sturdy slipcases. Only available through the Eibon Press website, this series is a great way to create niche collectible comics. With adaptations of Gates Of Hell and Maniac and the original series Bottomfeeders coming soon, it looks like Eibon Press will be the publisher to beat in 2017. (Read more.)
Dark Palms, Hoxbar Ghost Town
The debut album from the Pacific Northwest band took goth and post-punk and created a highly entertaining, propulsive slab of rock and roll. (Read my full review.)
Phantasm RaVager directed by Don Coscarelli
The fifth and final film in the Phantasm franchise arrived in October and was a worthy farewell to a group of characters who phans have loyally followed since 1979. There has been some knee-jerk negativity directed at the film, but I found that on repeated viewings the movie gets better (but I liked it right away!).
High-Rise directed by Ben Wheatley
Starring Tom Hiddleston, Sienna Miller, Luke Evans, Jeremy Irons, and Elisabeth Moss, High-Rise is a dizzyingly moving adaptation of the JG Ballard novel from 1975. Set in a fictional mixed-use high-rise building, it’s a microcosm of class struggle in an alternate historical 1970s Britain. Brilliantly cast, beautifully shot, and fairly fucked up, High-Rise is one of the few book-to-film adaptations that lives up to its source.
Sherlock Holmes And The Servants Of Hell by Paul Kane
Paul Kane is the world’s leading expert on Hellraiser and powerhouse of a writer. In this book, Kane does a pitch-perfect Conan Doyle as he mixes the world of Sherlock Holmes with the world of Clive Barker’s Hellraiser, pitting the world’s greatest detective (not named Batman) against The Order Of The Gash. It is a very cool book and it’s a lot of fun to see Holmes and Watson going up against Cenobites and… an “old friend.”
1. Some new record releases that were thrilling in 2016:
David Bowie, Blackstar
Syd Arthur, Apracity
King, We Are King
Parquet Courts, Human Performance
Kendrick Lamar, untitled unmastered
A Tribe Called Quest, We Got It From Here… Thank You 4 Your Service
Emitt Rhodes, Rainbow Ends
Mudcrutch, Mudcrutch 2
John Beasley, Monk’Estra Vol. 1
Eric Bachman, Eric Bachman
Luther Dickinson, Blues & Ballads
Sturgill Simpson, A Sailor’s Guide To Earth
East Of Venus, Memory Box
Still making sense out of Bon Iver’s 22, A Million (but I think I like it a lot) and still can’t stop listening to The Epic by Kamasi Washington, a 2015 release but a towering achievement!
2. Reissues, boxed sets & previously unissued music that I was happy to hear, happier to own:
Crooked Fingers, Crooked Fingers and Bring On The Snakes reissues
Midlake, The Trials Of Van Occupanther 10th Anniversary Edition
The three-LP “Loser Edition” of Wolf Parade’s Apologies To The Queen Mary
The Crowded House catalog reissued in deluxe fashion
Fleetwood Mac, Mirage (finally!)
David Bowie, Who Can I Be Now?
Gillian Welch, Boots No. 1
Art Pepper & Warne Marsh, Unreleased Art Vol. 9: Live At Donte’s; April 26, 1974
My Morning Jacket, It Still Moves (deluxe edition)
Patti Smith, Horses: Live Electric Lady Studios
The Meters, A Message From The Meters: The Complete Josie, Reprise & Warner Bros. Singles 1968-1977
3. Various Artist compilations that make me glad that in the digital/Internet/technology-will-be-the-end-of-humankind era we live in, curation of various artist compilations still happens:
Celestial Blues: Cosmic, Political And Spiritual Jazz 1970-1974
The Girls Want The Boys! Sweden’s Beat Girls 1966-1970
Tanbou Toujou Lou, Haiti 1960-1981
Various Artists, (The Microcosm): Visionary Music Of Continental Europe 1970-1986
4. Favorite records that I produced or worked on (that finally came out in 2016), of which I’m particularly proud:
Big Star, Complete Third
NRBQ, High Noon: A 50-Year Retrospective
Judy Henske & Jerry Yester, Farewell Aldebaran
Game Theory, Lolita Nation and The Big Shot Chronicles
JD Souther, John David Souther; Black Rose; and Home By Dawn
The Crowded House deluxe reissues
Buddy Guy & Junior Wells, The Criteria Sessions
5. Best shows of the year (no order, all awesome):
Emitt Rhodes, Grammy Museum
Systema Solar, SXSW
The Bangles & The Muffs at the Whisky
Case/Lang/Veirs at the Greek
Three nights of Wilco at the Theatre at the Ace Hotel
Judy Henske & Jerry Yester, at both the Grammy Museum & McCabe’s and Jimmy Webb actually performing on a lovely summer evening in MacArthur Park!
And this just in: sneak Beyonce performance at the Lemonade screening with a full all-female band complete with strings, horns and background vocalists!
6. Music books that were super cool:
Bruce Springsteen, Born To Run
Robbie Robertson, Testimony
Guy Clark, Without Getting Killed Or Caught: The Life And Music Of Guy Clark
Trouble Boys: The True Story Of The Replacements
Patti Smith, M Train
Under The Big Black Sun: A Personal History Of L.A. Punk
7. More about Bruce’s book Born To Run:
As a life-long Bruce fan, the surprise of an autobiography (both book and audiobook!) and accompanying book tour, was a bit mind boggling. Coolest thing? None of it sucked, in fact, the book is charming, funny, arresting, insightful, honest and human. While I and a truckload of other super nerds would have liked more insight into the recordings and songwriting, a book by Bruce was something I never thought I’d see. Just like all his musical work in the past, Born To Run is life affirming and a place from which to draw inspiration in difficult times. We all deserve some transcendent rock and roll as we peer over the edge of 2017, I find some of mine here.
8. Runner up in Bruce-ville
The release of the Christic Benefit shows from November of 1990. It was my first Bruce show as a fresh L.A. resident (I was there the 17th). A mind-blower in that he had not performed solo since the early 1970s—before he had a record deal with Columbia. He was nervous, but still managed to debut brilliant new songs like “Real World” and “Soul Driver” among others. The solo versions of these songs performed on these two nights, remain the definitive versions. Extra bonus, a photo by Greg Allen, my partner at Omnivore adorns the cover of the Nugs release!
9. Music Film: The Beatles, Eight Days A Week: The Touring Years
Never having had a chance to see The Beatles live (I don’t think I’ll be able to say this for much longer, but I’m too young to have seen The Beatles live), it was a treat to see this documentary in the theater. The film itself was fun, but the really great part of motivating my ass to the theater (and not waiting for streaming, on-demand, Blu-Ray, DVD or whatever method the ones and zeros bring us our entertainment these days as we calcify on our couches), was seeing the bonus concert at Shea Stadium on the big screen. It was large, it was loud, and it was glorious good fun!
10. Favorite album design/packages
I love music. I love it so much, I made it my life’s work. I also love all the things music comes in—the packaging, the artifact. Yeah, yeah, I know, streaming. Whatever. I really like all my cool records and don’t really like the idea of renting music. Just ain’t for me. I love art, photography, liner notes, and package design and how powerfully they co-mingle with music, each amplifying each other.
A few I dug the most this year were…
David Bowie, Who Can I Be Now? LP set
Various Artists, Waxing The Gospel: Mass Evangelism & The Phonograph 1890-1900
Radiohead, A Moon Shaped Pool deluxo-LP/CD
Sloan, One Chord To Another LP/45 set
Grateful Dead, July 1978: The Complete Recordings
Pearl Jam, Live At Third Man Records vault package
The Band, The Last Waltz 40th Anniversary
Check out our reviews of 2016 releases from Ominvore Recordings.
Book: Swing Time by Zadie Smith—Friendship and class collide is an insightful and moving way.
Movie: Moonlight, directed by Barry Jenkins—Amazing performances chronicle the coming of age story of a young man in Miami.
Album: Rabbit Hole by Billy Crockett—Master producer releases his own collection of heartfelt and poetic songs.
Television: The Crown on Netflix —Who knew that history was so interesting? John Lithgow is amazing as Winston Churchill.
The show’s creators do a great job of keeping to the book with this episode. While I typically enjoy a good healthy dose of political intrigue, having read the book is becoming a little bit of a curse as I sit through the build-up of this season’s action. It’s a necessary evil, however, as there is much that has to take place both on screen and behind the scenes to build to the crescendo that’s coming.
I have had the pleasure, nay, honor of being able to review the book Hunting Witches by our very own Jeffery X Martin. This “non-vel”, as he calls it, took many months of work, blood, sweat, and alcohol to construct, and it is more than worth the wait since the last installment of the happenings in Elders Keep. The Elders Keep anthology began as a series of short stories, released individually on Amazon, and can now be acquired in the form of Black Friday, which includes the stories that started it all: “Be Sweet,” “Mouth,” and “Candy.” “Mouth” personally had me cringing, which is not easily accomplished from words on a screen or paper. You can bet, I will be giving that book another read just to fit everything together again.
Perhaps it was just the fact of real-life obligations getting to me, but it seemed to me that this episode dragged. I’m not even kidding; it took several hours to work through it from start to finish. But I got through it, and it’s worth the watch. Much of what takes place is plot-building rather than action or character growth.
I like the idea of collecting the musing and essays from individual Arrow releases into a single bound book. In theory, that is. In reality, if I’m interested in reading analysis on a specific film, like Dressed to Kill, wouldn’t I already have that Blu-ray in my collection?
There’s a chance the answer to that tug of war will color the amount of value you’re able to find in Cult Cinema: An Arrow Video Companion. I flip-flopped on this as I meandered through its pages. When faced with a piece on Zombie Flesh Eaters I struggled to muddle through. Perhaps a mix of topic and writing style, I just couldn’t commit to paragraph after paragraph on a movie I didn’t have much interest in, and that was my reaction to the majority of this book.
With the second episode of season 2, it becomes evident that Jamie is not fully healed, neither mentally nor physically. Jamie, Claire, and even Murtagh come to the realization that things in France are quite different from what they’ve experienced in Scotland.