Friday, June 14, 2013

Weekly Mondo Round-Up: Plan 9 From Las Vegas Edition

This has been one of the weeks where wanderlust has been striking me big time. (Note about myself, this happens every other week!) With the heat starting to creep up as the air grows denser, hitting the open road and going out West has never felt more appealing. Driving on the oil-stained highway, throwing on Department of Crooks' criminally underrated “Plan Nine from Las Vegas” and feeling the scorch of burned gas station just sounds so perfect. The reality of such an excursion is not possible right now, but at least I have “Plan 9” and endless cups of strong Joe.

Dreams of pavement and open skies aside, I finished and posted a little article on Dangerous Minds about the formerly-lost, Canuxploitation film that combined flesh, fangs and very little filigree, entitled “Sexcula.” As a born and bred preservationist at heart, seeing anything that was originally written off as lost get found is a wonderful feeling. Plus, who doesn't love free loving vampires flashing the peace sign during coitus? It gives me some hope that a print of “Convention City” could still turn up. Dreaming is free.

The great thing, for me at least, about delving into titles like “Sexcula” is it gives me the chance to write and explore the types of cinema that a lot of film writers avoid like the plague. Which is really absurd. A lot of “serious” dramas that garner all sorts of awards are no less exploitative, in fact usually moreso, than most “skin flicks.” Manipulating audiences dramatically is too easy. Most people do not want to see sick children or their sad families, so both are easy elements to throw in. But to actually confront them with anything that truly takes them out of their comfort zone is both brilliant and extremely needed. The only kind of elitism I'll put up with usually involves one of two questions: a) Is the work good? b) Is it interesting?

Anything else usually borders on flat out snobbery and in some instances, cultural classism. Forget it. Who has time for that? 

Speaking of Department of Crooks, let me sing the joys of Marc Moreland. One of THE best guitarists you will ever hear and who will never get some cheesy cover or centerfold in any type of Guitar Monthly magazine. (Yet, if you're a metal guy that goes wheedly-wheedly-wee with your arpeggios, they will soil themselves to kingdom come.) For me the real sign of a genuinely great artist is their thumbprint and with everything that Moreland played on, you can instantly tell it is him. Blending such stellar influences like Ennio Morricone and Dick Dale into his own creative blender, there will never be another like the man. Best known for being in Wall of Voodoo, his side projects are also worth checking out, especially the aforementioned Department of Crooks and his final band, the Marc Moreland Mess.

And if all you know about Wall of Voodoo is “Mexican Radio,” then I beg you to please get your sweaty little mitts on a copy of “Seven Days in Sammystown.” The Andy Prieboy era of that band is brilliant and merits ample listening. 

Upcoming project wise, I'm about to work on a contribution for a special upcoming tribute to one of the greatest showmen in the history of film, as well as the usual one-two step review work. Stay tuned kittens.

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