Category Archives: Uncategorized
Ah, the fifties, where a sexy pinup was appropriate for every holiday. This was a time when depictions of nudity was still resigned to the under-the-counter porn mags, but bathing suits and lingerie were completely acceptable and all the rage. A lot of these were promotions for young actresses and even established stars – that’s a young Yvonne DeCarlo (Lily Munster) in a cat suit on a huge pumpkin.
Freaks is a 1932 American Pre-code film (pre Hayes code censorship) in which the title characters were actually played by by sideshow performers with real deformities. Directed and produced by Tod Browning, whose career never recovered really from it. Freaks has been described as standing alone in a subgenre of one.
Because of Browning’s success as the director of Dracula, he was given a considerable leeway for a major studio’s first horror film. In the film, the physically deformed “freaks” are inherently trusting and honorable people, while the real monsters are two of the “normal” members of the circus who conspire to murder one of the performers to obtain his large inheritance.
Among the characters featured as “freaks” were “The Human Skeleton”, “The Bearded Lady”; Frances O’Conner and Martha Morris – The armless wonders”; and conjoined twins Daisy and Violet Hilton. Among the microcephalics who appear in the film (and are referred to as “pinheads”) were Zip and Pip (Elvira and Jenny Lee Snow) and Schlitzie, a male named Simon Metz who wore a dress mainly due to incontinence. Also featured was Johnny Eck, the legless man; the completely limbless Prince Randian and Koo-Koo – The Bird girl, who had Virchow-Seckel syndrome or bird-headed dwarfism (?!).
Following disastrous test screening in January 1932 (one woman threatened to sue MGM, claiming the film had caused her to suffer a miscarriage), the studio cut the picture down from its original 90-minute running time to just over an hour. Much of the sequence of the freaks attacking Cleopatra (the villain), as she lays under a tree, was removed, as well as a gruesome sequence showing Hercules (The Strong-Man, & Cleopatras lover) being castrated. It’s current running time is just 64 minutes. No matter how much was cut it still managed to negatively effect people and lose money. The Kansas City Star said “There is no excuse for this picture. It took a weak mind to produce it and it takes a strong stomach to look at it.” Harrison Reports – “Any one who considers this entertainment should be placed in the pathological ward in some hospital.” With these kinds of reviews Tod Brownings career was doomed and he would never recover the fame he had pre-Freaks. It is indeed creepy and disturbing and absolutely great. If you’ve seen American Horror Story Freak Show recently you’ll see the impact this film has made (and sort of know how it ends).
THE FINAL REVENGE – CRAWLING IN THE RAIN
This is not the source material for these movies and TV shows, oh no, these are all written after the fact to squeeze one last tiny bit of cash out of the public. Nothing wrong with that. Who doesn’t want to read the novelization of, say, Childs Play 3 to get just a bit more exposition about Chuckie’s motives and thought process. I doubt that these are still being written today (though Star Trek and Star Wars both have tons of ‘inspired by’ novels) but from the 60’s through the nineties they were everywhere, most notably the used book bins of Goodwill and Salvation Army.
Brian Duffy (15 June 1933 – 31 May 2010) was an English photographer and film producer, best remembered for his fashion and portrait photography of the 1960s and 1970s. With fellow photographers; David Bailey and Terence Donovan, Duffy was a key player in Britain’s “Swinging Sixties” – a culture of high fashion and celebrity chic.
Socialising with actors, pop stars, royalty and the notorious gangsters, the Kray twins, they represented a new breed of photographer and found themselves elevated to celebrity status. Duffy commented on the culture shock the three were to the industry: ″Before 1960, a fashion photographer was tall, thin and camp. But we three are different: short, fat and heterosexual!″
Duffy’s relationship w/ David Bowie yielded one of the most iconic photos in pop history – the Alladin Sane lightning bolt cover. He’d go on to shoot 2 other Bowie covers – Lodger and Scary Monsters and Super Creeps.
In 1979 Duffy abruptly gave up photography attempting to burn many of his negatives in his studio yard but fortunately neighbours objected to the acrid smoke, the council were called and much of his work was saved. Although a large number of his images were lost. Duffy moved onto television commercials and in 1983 Duffy directed the music videos for Spandau Ballet, ABC and The Human League. By 1990 Duffy retired from all image making and followed his lifelong passion for furniture restoration and became an accredited BAFRA (British Antique Furniture Restoration Association) restorer. Duffy died on 31 May 2010, after suffering from degenerative lung disease.
I came to The Manic Street Preachers both early and late. I liked some of their early Glam stuff (with Richey James), didn’t care for their middle period (without Richey) and love their current stuff. The Manics formed in Wales (?) in 1986 as a quartet – James Dean Bradfield (Guitar & Vocals), Sean Moore (Drums), Nicky Wire (Bass) & Richey James (Guitar & Vocals). They broke (sort of) big w/ their first LP, Generation Terrorists, selling 250,000 copies. When interviewed about their new sound (they started as a punk outfit) Richey James carved the words 4Real into his arm to prove his sincerity. Hospitalized w/ a bunch of stitches, the cracks in Richey’s sanity were starting to show. On February 1st, 1995 Richey left his London hotel and was never seen or heard from again. He was declared presumed dead on 23 November 2008 by his family. Manic Street Preachers was put on hold for six months and disbanding the group was seriously considered, but with the blessing of Edwards’ family, the other members continued. Over the last 20 years the band have put aside a percentage of the royalties should he return – which they recently paid to his family as he was officially declared dead last year. To compress their music and careers into one LP and the death of Richey James is a disservice to the band. Check them out for yourselves. Special attention to their recent 2013 LP Rewind the Film, it’s great.