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Dangerous Men

Drafthouse / MVD

Dangerous MenJohn Rad‘s Dangerous Men is probably, unfortunately for me, review-proof. Made on a shoestring by Rad, an Iranian who moved to America literally 24 hours before Khomeini got in and — understandably — decided not to go back, it’s a crazy slice of slam-bang crime action, and it may just be the Deadly Premonition of moves when it comes to asking “is it any good?”

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Sun Ra – A Joyful Noise

MVD

Sun Ra - A Joyful NoiseRobert Mugge’s film A Joyful Noise is like stepping into a time machine. He has captured a unique insight into a particularly mystical bubble of 1980s African American counter-culture. Although, thinking about it, our main protagonist Mr Mystery, AKA Sun Ra, might not be too interested in limiting himself to any earth-based ethnicity.

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WIDT – WIDT

Zoharum

WIDTPresented in a double-disc package containing both CD and DVD versions, the former holding the music in standalone album format, while the latter combines it with the visuals, which are not merely an addendum, but integral to WIDT‘s work.

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Eaten Alive

Arrow Films

Eaten AliveAs I write this, the horror community is mourning the loss of Gunnar Hansen, whose turn (yes, that one, round and round with a buzzing saw in the middle of the road in the blazing sun) as Leatherface helped put Tobe Hooper on the map, Texas Chainsaw Massacre having not only been a huge hit, but unbeknownst to anyone having also changed the face of horror forever.

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Hard To Be A God

Arrow Films

Hard To Be A God DVD coverAleksei German‘s Hard To Be A God is sci-fi in the Tarkovsky tradition, very much a state of mind rather than flashy tech and shiny spaceship CGI. The film is based on Arkady and Boris Strugatsky‘s 1964 novel of the same name, and was completed after the director’s death by his son Aleksei German Jr.

The back story is that a group of earth scientists (although they don’t seem very scientific) have been sent to a alien world, a planet whose evolution is currently entrenched in the unprecedented filth of mediaeval squalor, their mission to help (or is it just to observe?) this fledgling civilization.

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The Decline of Western Civilization Collection

Second Sight Films

The Decline of Western Civilization CollectionPenelope Spheeris‘s epic three-part documentary series about the shifting scene in music in LA in the ’80s and ’90s makes even more interesting viewing now than it did before. Well, I’m mostly talking about the first two movies, as until now I’ve never seen the third.

The documentary form, as well as Spheeris’s hands-off style (of which more later) mean that instead of becoming dated, or simply frozen as historical artefacts, they’ve grown new layers of meaning as context has changed all around them. (Just for some context for those of a less American disposition, filming on Part I concluded in the same month that Ian Curtis of Joy Division died).

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Circle – Silta

Ektro

Circle - SiltaShot over two nights in February 2011, at the Dynamo in Turku and the next day at YK-Klubi in Helsinki, Silta is one of the few Circle DVDs1 released so far which give the viewer a close approximation of the live experience of this most uncategorisably outré of bands.

The Dynamo footage which forms the first part is filtered in sepia tones and framed within an oval vignette effect which keeps the focus on the band tight and fixed, and captures Circle at their most triumphant, bombastic, even, guitars brandished towards the sky while Jussi Lehtisalo and Julius and Pekka Jääskeläinen toss their shaggy manes with the determined rhythmic intensity of the true metallers that they are.

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In The House Of Flies

MVD

In The House Of The FliesGabriel Carrer‘s In The House Of Flies is an ’80s movie, made in the second decade of the twenty-first century designed around a trope from the first which became a cliché and eventually a sub-genre all of its own, though it does a bloody good job of avoiding cliché and in the process returns the trope to its ingenious origins.

Remember Saw? The first one, I mean. The one that had that wicked premise of the two guys, the handcuffs and the hacksaw and which promised to be a twisted psychological thriller? And to an extent actually was one, but which also spiralled out on a more ghoulish trajectory and gave birth the the oh-so-soon-to-be-completely-played-to-death mainstream torture porn craze? Imagine if it had stuck to that premise, or

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Devo – Hardcore DEVO Live!

MVD

Devo - Hardcore DEVO Live!This review is based on the CD and DVD releases; the set is also available on vinyl and blu-ray.

Before rising to fame, Devo experimented in basements and garages in Akron, Ohio during the years 1974–1977. This was a time whenthey were just doing whatever they wanted, and as they say themselves, they made “raw, unfiltered songs with no commercial intent”. Many of the songs that were created at that time, according to themselves, they never played again. Not until last year; then they decided to go on tour, to honour to the departed Bob “Bob2” Casale, following his idea to give new life to the creativity that brought them all together as a band. This album documents one night in Oakland at the Fox Theater on 28 June 2014.

In the first early years after they

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The Orb – History Of The Future Part 2

Malicious Damage

The Orb ready History Of The Future Part 2There’s something gratifying about the way that The Orb‘s music has both progressed (in all senses of the word) and stayed within its own vaguely-defined parameters over the last quarter century. Pick any one of the tracks on History of the Future Part 2 or set it to shuffle play, and a certain number of slightly off-kilter vocal samples, blips, bloops and chunky shuffling beats from the second chapter of their trip are likely to emerge from the speakers, the only imponderable being just how much bass pressure they’re going to bring to the party along the way.

From inner/outer space to the corners of a farmer’s field which be be forever raveland, The Orb are still ideally placed at the interface between ambient floating and festival-friendly dub techno as they’ve

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20,000 Days on Earth

Film 4

20,000 Days on EarthHis wife mostly hides. I think she knows what he’s going to say, or rather what he’s not going to say. She’s central and peripheral in this tale and that seems about right since so is Nick. He’s in every scene and every scene is about him (or, more properly, for him) but we don’t get anything as ‘startlingly frank’ as you’d imagine. He’s there but he’s not there. 20,000 Days is a visit to the Court of Cave and, whilst gently mocking in places (the ‘Lionel Ritchie’ moment is a stand-out scene), it doesn’t attempt to get to grips with anything except what Cave thinks of himself. Nothing here is unguarded, especially the unguarded moments. It’s all as real as a fake therapy session.

Now, to be fair, no one’s

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Oil City Confidential

Cadiz Music

oil city confidentialAlthough Julien Temple’s film about pub-rock heroes Dr Feelgood dates from 2009, it is only now receiving a DVD release (through Cadiz Music) in the US, and it’s this new edition that is reviewed here, although I’m not aware of any difference between this and the original release.

Nevertheless, the fact that this is intended for an American market immediately invites focus on an intriguing aspect of the high-energy four-piece who were, for a brief period circa 1975-77, one of the biggest live draws in the UK: the way in which their music, rooted almost entirely in American styles and tropes, was nevertheless a peculiarly British phenomenon. Indeed one can narrow the locale down much further than that, to Canvey Island, Essex: a bleakly atmospheric place

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Magma – Epok 5: Mythes & Legendes

Seventh

Magma - Epok 5: Mythes & LegendesFive DVDs into Magma‘s series of live sessions at Le Triton,we find the pioneers of Zeuhl way out there beyond the Theusz Hamtaahk trilogy and exploring some of the stranger byways of their œuvre along with some dazzling new material. The entire programme runs to about two hours. There are a few interludes during which audience members, including Steve Davis, are interviewed about their relationship to the Magma legend, but mostly what you get is an all you can eat feast of pitch-perfect Magma.

There are two numbers from 1978’s Attahk album, “Dondai” and Maahnt,” as well as an opener entitled “Attahk (Retrovision)” which was not actually part of that album but is a composition from the same period. Digging further back there is “Rïah Sahïltaahk” from the 1001° Centigrade album from 1971, and

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Bath Salt Zombies

MVD Video

Bath Salt ZombiesBath Salt Zombies sets out its stall pretty early on; which is just as well, seeing as how it’s probably not really for everyone. It opens with a great animated spoof public information film about the dangers of bath salts (the drug, not the actual toiletries) which sees a trashy teen given the drug by a foul-mouthed Satan, with predictable murderous consequences. By the time the announcer says “Bath salts may seem like a crackerjack time, but believe you me, sonny Jim, they’re nothing but a menace”, you’ll probably have a fair idea of whether you’re going to like this one or not. And then, before the opening credits, we get some drugs, some gratuitous nudity, a couple of murders and an idea of just how low-budget this movie is.

And it’s REALLY low-budget. Think somewhere between

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Van der Graaf Generator – Live in Concert at Metropolis Studios, London

Convexe (N America)/Salvo (Europe)

Van Der Graaf Generator ‎Live In Concert At MetropolisAt the end of 2010, the Metropolis television company organized a series of intimate concerts at their London studios, each showcasing a ‘heritage’ act to 140 people, each of who paid £175 for the privilege. Apparently a glass of champagne and a meeting with the artist was also included in this price. The series included Caravan, Barclay James Harvest, The Zombies, Roy Harper, Bill Nelson and Van der Graaf Generator. The idea was to professionally film the performances in a studio environment and broadcast them on national TV. Each audience member would get a DVD of the show, which would then made available to the public at some later date.

In the event, the TV showings never materialized, with DVD

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