Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Apocalypse According To Bouzikov


Andrei Bouzikov is a 31 year old painter and illustrator who emigrated to the US from his native Belarus in the mid '90s, eventually settling in San Francisco. I'd seen some of his eye-catching album covers around, but it wasn't until I stumbled on a link to his blog over at Illogical Contraption that I had a name to put to the artwork.

Using an eerie, ultra-lurid palette, he paints awesome cult SF/horror tableau's that sometimes remind me of classic Frazetta. There's also a kind of Death Rattle/Slow Death comic vibe to his work that I love (the ecological themes?). Comparisons aside though, Andrei manages to subvert all those old traditions a bit, and the result is something unsettling and uniquely his own.


The imagery is saturated with horror that for me recalls Bava, Fulci and Luigi Cozzi, but it's not all of the exploitation variety. The oppressive (and very real) spectres of tyranny, war and environmental destruction loom grimly over these apocalyptic vistas of bombed, burning cities and ravaged, poisonous landscapes. In other words, there's more going on here than meets the eye.

As well as doing amazing artwork for punk and metal bands/record labels the world over, Andrei plays bass in Oakland/SF hardcore band Deadfall. He's also a cool guy who had no problem with me posting his work here.

"Guts"


Nocturnal Graves/Hell Spirit split on Nuclear War Now! Productions


Lahar/Stolen Lives split on Insane Society/Phobia Records


Autopsy demo on Nuclear War Now! Productions


for a Peruvian psychedelic band


for Aussie pop-punk band The Decline


The Decline back


The Decline inner


Andrei's site and blog

Friday, March 19, 2010

Kicked!


Just an update to this post to say that the Popcorn Taxi screening of Kick-Ass was a lot of fun last night. The capacity crowd was probably the geekiest I've seen since going to Kraftwerk a few years ago, and the excitement in the lobby was palpable. It couldn't even be dampened by the overzealous security measures that saw everyone's phones confiscated at the door for the duration of the screening. Was that really necessary?

The movie mostly lived up to my expectations and the crowd ate it up, cheering raucously at the lethal bad-assery of Hit Girl and Big Daddy. Chloe Moretz really does steal the show, but Nic Cage is seriously back in "Sailor Ripley" form here and has by far the funniest moments in an already hilarious movie. It's good to have him back after 15 years of non-stop dreck, and I can't wait to see him devour scenery in Herzog's Bad Lieutenant. My one minor gripe was that it wasn't as gory as I'd anticipated, nowhere near the giddy heights of splatter seen in the comic. The film is very bloody but not overly visceral.

The Q&A afterwards was lively and Matthew Vaughn was affable and funny. He's excited about the prospect of a sequel, but hesitant to talk it up lest Kick-Ass gets it's ass kicked at the box office (It was almost completely independently financed - including mortgaging Vaughn's house - so there's a lot riding on its success). He did talk a little about the follow up comic series, and said that Millar and Romita are thinking of introducing a new (not so)superhero character named either Motherfucker or The Cunt. LOL.

He also talked enthusiastically about his use of almost entirely practical action in the movie, citing his hatred of modern action techniques such as shaky-cam, ADHD editing and an over-abundance of CG. Amusingly, they did switch to CG blood after just one day of shooting, because it was taking too long to clean the set and re-costume the actors after each take. I barely noticed it though, it's an effect that they are finally getting right (I'm looking at you Land Of The Dead!).

Having just screened The Wolfman and Daybreakers, Popcorn Taxi is being very friendly to genre fans so far this year. Next stop for the Taxi in April is Bad Lieutenant: Port Of Call New Orleans with Werner Herzog Q&A. Bring on the iguanas!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Day The Universe Ceased


I am Providence

So reads the inscription on H.P. Lovecraft's modest tombstone at Swan Point Cemetery in Rhode Island. Nick Blinko also invokes these most heavy words at the end of the song The Only Child on Rudimentary Peni's 1987 HPL concept album Cacophony.

When I wrote my last post acknowledging David Cronenberg's birthday on March 15, I was unaware that the date also marks the death of Howard Phillips Lovecraft (thanks to the excellent Lovecraftian cinema blog, Unfilmable, for passing on this eldritch lore). That makes the day one of ominous portent for me as the two men are respectively my favourite horror director and writer.


This album freaked my friends and I out when it was released. We really just wanted another Death Church, so this weird assortment of in-jokes and occult ramblings was kind of baffling to us. At first I just latched onto the more rocking tracks like Architectonic and Dominant and Sunset for the Lords of Venus, but over the years I've come to love and appreciate the whole bizarre mess for the crazed genius that it is.

I know it's not very inspired of me to post Cacophony as a tribute to HPL, as it's probably the most obvious choice and has been posted on a hundred other blogs, but to hell with it - I love the Peni. Hit the Lovecraft baby.

Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn!


Monday, March 15, 2010

Insect Politician


David Cronenberg is 67 today.

This is an appropriate time to mention my favourite auteur, as I can't think of a better expression of his idea of the New Flesh than the visceral processes of procreation and childbirth (Other examples that spring to mind are the changes wrought upon the body due to cancer, and the increasingly mundane use of body-modification to transform ourselves in ever more bizarre ways).

Birth (and rebirth) is present in so many of Cronenberg's films: Nola Carveth giving life to her inner rage through the miracle of Psychoplasmic therapy. Tom Stall's reemergence as a new man - a hybrid of his two formerly separate identities. Unfortunate Seth Brundle, enduring his agonising journey of death and renewal that could be said to be three distinct rebirths: first as super-human, then as something less than human and finally as something utterly non-human.

The twitchy president of CIVIC-TV and a pair of brilliant twin gynecologists - all of these characters and more have been put through the wringer by Mr. Cronenberg and have come out the other side... changed. They're all here tonight at David's party, looking haunted and traumatised. It's not a very happy gathering, but it is the most fascinating and exciting party in town. So whether your poison is bug powder, Mugwump jism or the black meat; raise your glass and drink:

LONG LIVE THE NEW FLESH! LONG LIVE DAVID CRONENBERG!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Kick To Kill


11-year-old girls just aren't allowed to call grown men cunts. Nor are they allowed to eviscerate, dismember or decapitate them, but that's exactly what cute little Mindy Macready does in her guise as the supremely lethal Hit Girl.

I'm seeing an early screening of Matthew Vaughn's Kick-Ass at the ever-awesome Popcorn Taxi next week, followed by a Q&A with the 39-year-old English director. Having whetted my appetite for gory mayhem with Mark Millar and John Romita Jr.'s ultra-violent comic, I'm hoping that my bloodlust will be thoroughly slaked by the movie. To celebrate the impending bloodbath and whet your appetite too, here's issues 1-8 of the comic (comprising the entire first book). I've split the dl into issues 1-5 and 6-8. If you don't already have one, CoView is an excellent free comic viewer. Don't fuck with Hit Girl.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Shadow From Mordor


Ash nazg durbatulûk, ash nazg gimbatul,

ash nazg thrakatulûk, agh burzum-ishi krimpatul

In the history of film is there any imagery more overtly Metal than PJ's nightmarish vision of the relentlessly advancing hordes of Mordor? Sauron's unstoppable War Machine razing all in it's path, spreading darkness, death and misery throughout Middle Earth. His servants, the Nazgul, ceaselessly overseeing the machinations of His desires... genocide, annihilation... Total War. The demonic fire and fury of Durin's Bane unleashed at the Bridge of Khazad-dûm. The poisonous shadowland and it's places of evil beyond the Black Gate at Udûn: Gorgoroth, Cirith Ungol, Minas Morgul, Barad-Dûr. The Dark Lord Himself, resplendent in his battle armour, laying waste to all unfortunate enough to stand before Him.


Mordor is Metal, and for me there's no better expression of that than the song Shadow From Mordor by Birmingham's crusty thrashing doomsters Sacrilege. The ferociously pounding drums and grimly unrelenting riffage bring to mind the inexorable progress of a huge, lumbering army, and perfectly evokes the clinical coldness of Sauron's determination to conquer, subjugate, obliterate. Tam's vocals are the plaintive voice of the suffering, desperate peoples of Middle Earth held in thrall to His consuming darkness:

Like Durin's Bane, rising up from the deep
There is evil at work while the people do sleep
As they plunder the earth, still we sit back and watch
Their wrath consumes all that would stand in their path


In '86 or '87 this devastating six song 12" (with the Lovecraftian title of Behind The Realms Of Madness) was the record that jarred me out of my rigidly blinkered "hardcore rules, metal sucks" mindset. Motörhead followed, and I guess I've never looked back.

The runes below, written in the Black Tongue, are inscribed upon the foul helm of the Mouth of Sauron. They are evil. CLICK ON THEM PUNY HALFLING!