Friday, 30 October 2015


THE MANITOU, d. William Girdler (1978)

The first film I ever saw on VHS. The whole experience blew my mind to the extent that it only occurred to me how terrible the film was about three years later.

Wednesday, 28 October 2015


Spencer Clark makes strange, abstract music under a number of (pretty silly) pseudonyms*, perhaps the most prevalent one being Monopoly Child Star Searchers. His oeuvre consists of rambling percussion and electronics pieces that sit somewhat uncomfortably between ethnic field recordings, New Age glissando and the sort of music they used to have on VHS head cleaning tapes, and lo fi as hell, as if heard through or a wall or recorded on a phone with a waning battery. The titles of the tracks (where they are given) tend to be chance juxtapositions of pseudoscientific buzz words, and it is telling that he sometimes uses the alias of Charles Berlitz, the writer who produced an endless series of books in the seventies and eighties about strange and unexplained phenomena.
Clark’s ‘career’ seems fairly haphazard by 21st century terms: he retains a mystery and unavailability rare in the over saturated internet era. Much of his back catalogue is out of print, or spread across a number of labels. He likes cassettes and CDR’s and limited editions, so even his most recent work is sometimes difficult to get hold of. But I’m on it. If you needed any further incentive, it’s worth pointing out that his first release as Monopoly Child Star Searchers was an alternate soundtrack to the 1978 Tony Curtis clunker, The Manitou, a pretty awful film that, nevertheless, achieves greatness in its climactic fourth dimensional cosmic mind laser battle between a psychic and a four hundred year old Native American medicine man.  

* Vodka Soap, Black Joker, Fourth World Magazine, Egyptian Sports Network, Monopoly Star Child Searchers, Typhonian Nightlife...  

Friday, 23 October 2015


Pierre Clementi has a brief but striking cameo in Luis Bunuel's 1969 film La Voie Lactee (The Milky Way) playing either the Devil or the Angel of Death, depending on how senior you think he looks with his bum fluff beard and trendy suit. In any event, he is responsible for the death of a man in a flaming car crash, simply because another man wished him ill and the forces of evil and chaos apparently hang around waiting for opportunities to do bad things. It's a weird little vignette, but then this is Bunuel, the greatest surrealist in cinema, and Clementi, an actor who always went out of his way to find interesting films to be interesting in.

Saturday, 17 October 2015


'The queen grasps an inxcuintle (the hairless dog used as a hot water bottle in illness and also eaten)'.


Thursday, 8 October 2015


Ah, Space 1999: the Moon is blown out of Earth’s orbit, and subsequently flies through the universe getting into scrapes and adventures like an out of control 81 quintillion ton wrecking ball. There are three hundred human beings living on it in a climate controlled, hermetically sealed hellhole, Moonbase Alpha. Bizarrely, it has functional, opening windows. They have enough food and drink to live out their lives, but no way of going home, ever. It’s pretty depressing. 
In The Guardian Of Piri the inhabitants of Alpha find a planet that will support human life, a wonderful candy coloured ball of oxygen and water and all they need to begin again. The problem is that, once you arrive, you can’t leave, as The Guardian, an all-powerful super computer, won’t let you. It is The Guardian’s job to serve its people, and it won’t allow them to do anything. Instead, you are expected to spend your days in a blissful torpor, lounging around in your pyjamas and staring at a mesmerising illuminated hole in the red sky. It’s a form of slow death, but it’s not a bad life, especially if the alternative is eking out your days on a miserable mobile Moon.
Naturally, Commander John Koenig stops all the nonsense, overthrowing The Guardian and dragging his bewildered crew back to their airless plastic prison. Given their tragic history and limited future it seems cruel to take them from Piri. Rightly or wrongly, they were happy there. But then Space 1999 is about an endless struggle for a pathetic facsimile of ‘normal’ life, not about sitting on your silk clad arse and staring happily at the sky all day, so the bleak metaphysical circus continues.   

Saturday, 3 October 2015


Cleon Peterson is a contemporary artist from Los Angeles who specialises in starkly rendered depictions of epic violence: a mix of graffiti, mythology and fantasy. His semi-naked, shaven headed figures battle constantly amongst themselves, or commit atrocities to others. They remind me of the Brutals in Zardoz, heavily armed savages bred to kill and rape and keep the world a savage and terrifying place.  

Peterson's art stirs in me the memory of when I was a child and would spend hours drawing enormously detailed scenes of dead soldiers, crocodiles, murder, pools of blood, people being thrown into pits full of spikes, that sort of thing. It was probably the peak of my creativity. If I'm honest, I've ploughed rather an arid furrow for the last forty years.