Saturday, February 19, 2011


The Unseen, 1980 (*****)
don't miss out on meeting 'Junior' waiting in the basement for you in this criminally underrated classic early 80s sleaze by High Rise director Danny Steinmann, never will you see mentally retarded done better; the only slight weakness for me is comedic thesp Sydney Lassick whose cheeseball horror-comedy performance seems incongruent with the otherwise darker mood of the film

Maniac, 1980 (***)
more creepy is less creepy: Joe Spinell overplays his role as the serial killer protagonist and never really convinces; that said, Tom Savini's effects and, in particular, the scene design of the maniac's small apartment are fantastic

Cruising, 1980 (*****)
William Friedkin's Cruising is not really such a rarity, indeed it stars Al Pacino, but it always surprises me to learn how few people have seen it; a cop goes undercover in the New York gay scene to investigate a serial killer preying on homosexuals, and what begins in sleazeball giallo territory ends in pure, yet oddly satisfying, enigma; top soundtrack too, a pertinent reminder that 70s/80s underground gay club music was far more eclectic than extended Donna Summer and Patrick Hernandez mixes and other stereotyping revisionism would credit it

Savage Streets, 1984 (*****)
incredibly enjoyable rape revenge sleaze masterpiece with Linda Blair and scream queen Linnea Quigley plus a perfect mid-80s rockin' AOR soundtrack to match

Silent Night, Deadly Night, 1984 (**)
the makers' ambitions were far greater than their budget or abilities, the acting is so bad (particularly the lead), the sets so cheap, and the script is so dull, that all the nice sleaze and gore moments ultimately fall rather flat; that said, the initial scenes with Billy in the convent school are superb

Crimes Of Passion, 1984 (****)
it's the captivating performance from the god that is Anthony Perkins that makes this (often overlooked) Ken Russell film so watchable; AP plays Rev. Shayne, a man riven with internal conflicts and demons, a man who becomes obsessed with China Blue, a part-time hooker


Wednesday, February 16, 2011


Just as mysterious as the Turin Shroud is the Voynich Manuscript (enter Voynich into the search string), a handwritten and illustrated book which is likely to also have been created in the early 15th century by author/s unknown. It is written in a language or code that, despite extensive research and theorising, to this day nobody has identified or deciphered. The book's contents appear to be subdivided into several sections that cover areas such as the astronomical, pharmaceutical, biological and so forth - indeed many of the favoured topics of the era's alchemists.

As you begin to survey its pages, the pareidolia kicks in hard as you vainly try and make sense of it all; just as the potential value of its meanings and revelations increase in direct ratio to its tantalising incomprehensibility. It's an undeniably fascinating process. Yet not only must we accept ignorance of what's being said, in what language or code, we neither know whether it says anything at all.

In the case of the Voynich Manuscript, the range of theories put forward are impossibly, exquisitely balanced between the plausible and implausible. Exotic, hybrid, or constructed language? Meaningful or meaningless? Glossolalia? Outright hoax, ancient or modern? None of them entirely convincing, yet all make a little bit of sense. To each our final preference, to each our personally honed romantic notion.

In contrast are the shelves of texts and books for which we'll never demonstrate the slightest interest, their crime merely to be in a familiar acculturalised form.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011


There may not have been many posts recently, but, to those that have written in asking, rest assured that (contrary to wicked rumour) I'm still alive! It's been a difficult few weeks with a combination of not feeling too great and assiduous, if not downright pedantic, attempts to finalise the mixing of the last two Cut Hands album tracks, Stabbers Conspiracy and Shut Up And Bleed. Fuck, I hope it'll be worth it.