Sunday, October 27, 2013

Kraut Funding

I know I've been... quiet, the last couple of weeks. It's not you, lovelies, it's me and my ridiculous, insomnia fueled, getting-ready-for-friends-to-stay-with-us rush that I've been locked in for a few weeks now. It's depressing how much I've actually written for the Kentai Blog in the last week and then not had a chance to publish because it requires more focus and time than I have to put the finishing touches on it.

That said, let's talk about BEYOND FEST '13 while it still feels relevant.
(There's some animoo at the bottom, too - trust me, it's tangentially relevant!)

I couldn't have gone to every show even if I'd tried, but I got to see Joe Dante present his own 35mm print of THE HOWLING, which was a charmingly similar experience to the recent Shout Factory Blu-ray release (a highly recommended pick-up, by the way). Joe Dante was his usual smart, charming self, ready to acknowledge his own short comings and talk about the less than stellar parts of the shoot, along with the triumphs of Rob Bottin's practical effects and John Carradine just being John Goddamn Carradine. He teased us with the news that he was working on a new project he wants to start shooting next month - but his producers were in the audience, and he was told couldn't share any details just yet.

Tuesday was an incredible experience, which started with me buying this beautiful piece of ass, created by minimalist poster artist extraordinaire Jay Shaw specifically for the event:

For the record, it's exactly 1cm larger than an 18" x 24" frame.
I know this because I wasted $30 on a frame slightly too small.
Get your prints framed professionally, ladies and gentlemen.

This marks the first North American tour for the recently (mostly) re-united GOBLIN, the Italian prog-rock band best known for having created the iconic soundtracks to Dario Argento's Deep Red, Suspiria and Tenebrae - which, incendentally, are the three titles they played on 35mm after each concert. I was a dedicated little bastard and got in for the first show which, according to the organizers, sold out in 64 minutes - which included a showing of "The Hatchet Murders" - or Profondo Rosso, as it's better known. Or "Deep Red", if you hate Italians and their not-quite-French, not-quite-Spanish language, but ironically still love their glorious fetishized murder-mystery films from decades past. It was for the best, as I've seen the American 35mm print of Suspiria before, and never having bothered to sit through the "Export Version" included on the Blue Underground BD release as a bonus feature*, it was a far more educational experience than a 35mm print of Tenebrae would have been.

* Well, I probably have, but odds are I was fiddling with a Nintendo handheld at the time and gave precisely zero fucks. After several years of having only seen the uncut DVD, it's a little disorienting to see how little screen time the protagonist of the film actually gets to spend developing relationships with anyone.

As you can imagine, seeing Goblin live - featuring three original members in the form of Claudio Simonetti, Maurizio Guarini and Massimo Morante - was an absolute treat, particularly for a Yank like yours truly who never thought he'd get a chance to see the band behind some of the most iconic music in horror film history on stage. I've developed a profound new level of respect for the Tenebrae score, which features Simonetti's vocals being voxed beyond recognition. You heard it here, friends; Claudio Simonetti is the original T-Payne!

For the record, as much as I wish I could justify the limited vinyl LP, offering four tracks for $25 is some ol' bullshit - new recordings or not. I'm not quite enough of an audiophile to own a turn table anyway, though I might be enough of an OCD collector

The set was a nice surprise as it features a handful of tracks from the 2005 album BackToTheGoblin (which was a Massimo Morante/Fabio Pignatelli project without Claudio Simonetti's involvement) and a number of ridiculous tracks from the band's LP releases through the 70s, particularly Roller. The second half was almost entirely taken up by the most famous tracks from their multiple collaborations with Dario Argento, and included Zombi, Suspiria, Tenebrae and Phenomena alongside their 2000 reunion score for Sleepless. I won't lie, I was a little bummed that they completely ignored the incredible stuff that either Goblin as a whole, or merely front man Claudio Simonetti composed for Buio Omega, Conquest, Hands of Steel and a dozen other incredible scores, but let's face it, 90% of the people who know who Goblin is know them as "The Argento Band", and as no other man has seemingly been able to patch over the divide that kept them from reuniting for more than a single score's recording from 1981 onward, I suppose that's fair.

There was another show on the agenda, however; a double feature of 35mm prints from director Jörg Buttgereit, most infamous for having unleashed NEKROMANTIK on the world in 1987. Shot on Super8 and featuring some of the most unpleasant sex acts in film history, it basically set a new standard by which no-budget independent splatter-punk film making would forever be held to. That's not to say the film is perfect - director Buttgereit himself seems to think it's all a mess, and he mioght be right... but the film is so grotesque, so dedicated to its own selfish vision of romance, and so honest about how disgusting the inevitably lifeless flesh we all inhabit becomes that it's impossible not to respect it on some level. Besides, one of the single most offensive scenes shot in the 21st century so far - the masculine climax featured in Lars von Trier's infamous Antichrist - owes its very existance to the quite literally explosively, sexually violent finale of Nekromantik. If Lars von Trier ripping your grand finale off with Willem DaFoe's stuntcock isn't praise for a a serious minded exploitation film later described by its creators as "Corpse Fucking Art", I can't imagine what is.

I'd seen Nekromantik 2: Return of the Loving Dead on DVD, but seeing the filthy, grainy as hell 35mm blow-up of the original was a special treat I can't rightly put into words. Buttgereit mentioned that - if it's in the budget - he wants this old girl scanned and included on the Blu-ray alongside a fresh HD scan of the original negative, and if they do, I won't see a need to go back to the "Remastered" print under the circumstances. Buttgereit also laughed at the fact that, despite three separate American distributors having bought the rights over the last two and a half decades, not one of them have ever requested an English dub. "It wouldn't be very hard, I think there's only about three lines in the whole movie!" Say what you will about Buttgereit's films, but he's a charming, intelligent, and incredibly witty man who can't help but revel in all the awe, offense and critical discussion his masterpiece of the disgusting have caused, considering he literally shot it without a script or a clue with his friends over the weekends for two years. He meant what he said, to be sure... but the process was such a clusterfuck he still thinks it's all one, brilliant joke, with Germany's repressed culture of violence being the ultimate recipient of his epic, state endorsed raised middle finger to their weird obsession with burying violence.

Pictured: Jörg Buttgereit.

They also played a 35mm print of his final feature, SCHRAMM, which I have all sorts of conflicted feelings towards. It's certainly not a bad film by the standard of low-budget European art-splatter fare, but its core question - "How does a serial killer live with the things he's done?" - has been explored numerous times, with some of the best examples I can think of being Michael Rooker in Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, Anthony Wong in The Untold Story, and Thomas Kretschmann in Grimm Love. The lead performance by Florian Koerner von Gustorf is pretty damned impressive though, with a level of humility and intensity that makes the acts of brutal violence (some of it self-inflicted) alongside the scenes of abject self-loathing seem natural, but at the end of the day, the so-called "Lipstick Killer" just isn't as interesting as the dramas woven from the true stories of the films I've outlined above. It's certainly a unique and somewhat nuanced take on the question of what drives a man who's already been consumed by psychopathy, but - unlike his previous films about corpse fucking - it just doesn't go deep enough beneath the surface to find anything particularly original or shocking to say about the atrocities is revels in.

It's also worth pointing out that, while Nekromantik is a rough 'round the edges exploitation milestone, its follow-up Nekromantik 2 is easily Buttgereit's masterpiece. It takes the amoral atmosphere of the first film and applies a feminine prism to the proceedings, crafting a genuine arthouse forbidden romance... where the third wheel happens to be a rotten corpse.

But one of the reasons he's touring again with his battered prints of Corpse Fucking Art is because he's MAKING A NEW MOVIE... or, he's hoping to, at the very least. Having seen the teaser for GERMAN ANGST, a three part anthology film from which Buttgereit has crafted a short subject called "Final Girl" seemingly about a survivor visiting the same misery back on her tormenter she's been forced to suffer. He's joined by a pair of directors I'm not familiar with, Andreas Marschall and Michal Kosakowski, and they're giving away some pretty bitchin' Kickstarter Rewards for anyone who wants to throw in. To surely misquote Buttgereit: "If you want to support the film, buy the original Nekromantik painting for $10,000. Or you could be cheap and buy some books and DVDs instead." I want to see this project succeed and see Buttgereit's first original film project in over 20 years, but with only two weeks to go the Kickstarter's looking a bit aenemic at this point at less than $3,000 of the $100,000 they're asking for.

And now for something completely different...

For better or worse, at the other end of the spectrum AnimEigo's seemingly unprecedented - but long in the making - BUBBLEGUM CRISIS BLU-RAY kickstarter has secured nearly 50 G's less than a day! Goddamn, I forget how enthusiastic old-school anime fans are... too bad micro-budget gorehounds are a different animal altogether, or we might see some new titles instead of a 10th release of a show that was good, but was only ever as perfect as our nostalgia tells us it must have been.

Don't get me wrong, I'm throwing in for both of these, no questions asked. But it's still a frustrating sight, isn't it?


Kriztoffer Swank said...

Fuck my butt, I wish I had known about that Bubblegum Crisis Kickstarter a little sooner so's to get myself into the $40 slot. Still, $50 for a complete set is badass and quite the bargain compared to the non-subbed Japanese release.

Given AnimEigo don't somehow bork up the existing HD master, of course. I actually sent a few inquiries to Mr. Woodhead before I can of which being the subtitles. Those multi-colored subs on the remastered DVD box are so fugly and hard to follow, especially with the song lyrics being jumbled amongst them. A fansubbed 720p rip I have does it right in that the subs are all white and the lyrics are regulated to the top left corner, out of the way of action. I'd love it if AnimEigo did something similar, or even had an option to view the show sans lyrics.

Kriztoffer Swank said...

Just heard this back from Robert Woodhead:

"We will only do noise reduction (not grain reduction) if that is what the supporters want, and it's clear via blind A/B testing that it's an improvement. But I'm 95% sure that the final result will be to use the Japanese compression or a new compression from the same HD master."


Also asked if the Blu-ray would later be made available commercially and he replied, "This set will only be for the supporters. We may do a commercial Blu-Ray release later (2015 or so) but it won't have all the extras."