Thursday, June 30, 2011

BUZZCOCKS: Their Last US Tour (1980)

Text by Joan McNulty, 1981
Introductory text by Robert Barry Francos, 2011, © FFanzeen
Other images from the Internet

The following article about The Buzzcocks’ East Coast tour was originally published in FFanzeen magazine, issue #8, in 1981. It was conducted by Joan McNulty, who was dating Pete Shelley at the time. She also published their official fan magazine, Harmony in My Head.

When Joan did this interview, her photographer friend Gay Fast took a photo of Willie at the top of a staircase wearing one of my
FFanzeen tee-shirts, which I still have and treasure. Oh, and I also have the photo of Pete Shelley.

The only time I saw the Buzzcocks play was at the Ritz show Joan describes below, with my pal Alan Abramowitz. It was indeed packed as I knew it would be (I didn’t even bring my camera because, as I correctly figured, I couldn’t get near the stage), but my memory of it is dampened by the over-zealousness of a fan behind me who kept stepping on my heels, purposefully bonking into me, and screaming in my ear (leaning into it). I don’t remember exactly why she was out to be a nuisance, but she delivered. At one point as we were leaving, she was frustrated that she did not achieve whatever it was she was aiming for, so she tried to kick me in a sensitive spot. Fortunately, she telegraphed the move and I somehow managed to catch her foot, lift it up, and she ended up on the floor. Then Alan and I left the building.

I did get to hang out with Pete Shelley and Steve Diggle, though, when I was videographer on a shoot for Alan’s cable access show, Videowave at some New York city hotel in December 1991. They were fun to hang out with for the afternoon.

Oh, and just to be clear about something Joan says near the end, I know from experience that yes, she does give terrible directions. While I haven’t seen her since the mid-‘80s when I had a lovely dinner over her parent’s house, I do know that she still lives in the Boston area. – RBF, 2011

Sunday, 11/16/80: Day 1
It was a windy, freezing afternoon and I was headed to the TWA [airline d. 2001] terminal at Boston’s Logan Airport to pick up Buzzcocks. Their flight was to come in around 3:30, and shortly after I got there, Michael Plen from IRS Records (the group’s American label) arrived as well. Within the hour, the band, sound/light crews, and tour manager Peter Monks, had gone through customs. Peter, Michael and the crew spilt from us to go and pick up the trucks and equipment in Somerville. In the meantime, I drove everyone else back into Boston to the Bradford Hotel, where after all the luggage was dropped off, we began to get better acquainted with one another and the hotel bar. A short while later, the rest of the crew joined us, and after a few more hours of steady drinking, we decided to call it a day, keeping in mind that the reason for their early arrival was to have excess time for interviews… and tomorrow’s schedule was already quite busy.

Monday, 11/17/80: Day 2
The day started off around 11:30 with an interview on The Late Risers Club at WMBR Cambridge. Albert O. was the host, and after quite an informative interview and the preview of Part 3 in the singles series, the band was asked to answer some teenbeat questions from people in the studio and people who had phoned in. A small excerpt:

Albert: Do any of you like girls?
Pete: It has been known.
Steve: Of course we like girls
Albert: They expected you to say no because after (the written question) they wrote, “What’s wrong with girls?” in capital letters.
Pete: Well, there’s two different things, you can say you like girls, but a few people know there’s lots of things wrong with them.
Albert: How often do you do your laundry?
Pete: It depends: if I go out to buy a shirt, I’ll buy a half a dozen of them, so…
Albert: Then you wear it once and throw it away?
Pete: No, then I’ll wait and stockpile them. I’ll wear them a day at a time and then I’ll just let them air out a little bit and then wear them again. Usually it’s about once every month or so.
Albert: What’s your favorite TV show?
Pete: In America, The Price is Right.
Albert: And isn’t Boston a great place?
Pete: Uh, if you say so; the thing is that you have to live here, we don’t…

After we finished, the photographer from Boston Rock [magazine] brought the band out in front of the Walker Memorial Building at MIT to take pictures for the upcoming article, and since we were all starving, we decided to go back to the hotel for something to eat and do the interview afterwards. After lunch, photographer Gay Fast, Steve, John, Paddy and the Boston Rock crew went up to Steve’s room to start the interview while Pete and I went back to his room so he could do a phone interview with a Rhode Island magazine, which lasted about half an hour. When it was finished, we went back to Steve’s room for more BR photos and then we returned with Marc to finish Pete’s side of the interview. Pete’s infatuation with animal / wildlife shows kept Marc reeling during the interview as he proceeded to explain how aphids and lobsters mate… After an hour or so of such ramblings, we decided we needed to stop in the bar, where we ran into everyone else.

At 5:00, we left everyone in a rush to catch Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood on TV (they couldn’t believe it was a real show) while Gay, Steve, John and Paddy left in Gay’s car to drive around Boston and check out the sights. I returned home to change and Michael Plen picked me up so we could get the band to their next interview on WERS Nightclub. When we arrived at the Bradford, Pete was the only one there, and he said Gay had called and said she’d bring the rest of the band there in her car. We got to the station and host Tami Heide began her interview with Pete, which continued for quite some time, fact being that the rest had been discovering “Happy Hour” at the bars, and Gay (although she refused to admit it) had no idea how to get to the station, and since it had begun to snow steadily, made it that much worse driving anywhere. The interview was going smoothly and all of a sudden, the station went on the blink, cutting out… and finally the transmitter blew and thus the interview ended abruptly. At about that moment, the lost crew finally arrived, covered with snow and out of breath from a multiple block run. The band spent some time chatting to some fans outside the studio and we then proceeded to head to WBCN for the next interview.

Being we had some time to kill, we decided to stop off and have a few drinks in the Fenway Motel. We got to the station around 12:30 to be greeted by the famous [WBCN DJ] Oedipus who, after making sure everyone had a beer, proceeded to discuss further plans while Jimmy Mack, the station’s music director, passed the Tension LP around for all of us to autograph. When the interview was finished, we piled into an adjoining studio so the band could do some station IDs, which almost became impossible as we were all exhausted, drunk, and silly. A short while later, we said our goodbyes and dropped the band back off at the hotel to get some rest, the following day being the start of the tour.

Tuesday, 11/18/80: Day 3
The first stop on the tour was Amherst, Massachusetts (a college town – University of Mass Is located there), in a large club called the Rusty Nail, located in a remote section. It took Gay and I three and a half hours to get there (an hour and a half ride by most people’s standards) and when we arrived, we met everyone at the Howard Johnson Motor Inn where the band was just finishing up an interview with a paper. We proceeded down to the dining room to grab some dinner and discuss the night’s show. The band seemed to be a bit nervous as it had been a while since they’d played live, especially here, so some champagne was ordered so everyone could try and unwind.

When we arrived at the club, it was already pretty packed (with a typical collegiate crowd). While the band made their way backstage, I decided to set the tape recorder up and Gay went to take a look around at the layout because she was approached by a man who worked at the college newspaper and was asked if I’d give him some background on Buzzcocks and answer some questions before the show. The band took to the stage about 45 minutes later and although the first few songs were a bit shaky, they soon regained their confidence and followed through with the new parts, as well as a long string of old favorites. The crowd brought them back for two encores and, all in all, the evening turned out to be a good start.

We got into a conversation with some fans standing in the back and a short while later finally made it backstage. A reporter from a magazine (which I can’t remember) made his way back to do a short interview with the band. After having difficulty opening his beer (instead of using the opener attached to the wall, which we surmised he just didn’t see), he attempted to open it on the door handle, and then sped nervously through his questions only to realize that when he finished, he had forgotten to put batteries in the recorder. John, trying to be of help, suggested he go home and put batteries in, that way when he rewound the tape he could listen back to the interview. He quickly thanked everyone and left, while Gay and I got questioned as to whether most Americans were like him. After making numerous excuses, we got started on our long ride home.

Wednesday, 11/18/80: Day 4
Since I wasn’t organized enough to continue on the tour from the night before (I left my luggage at home) I had to take the train down to Willimantic, Connecticut, for tonight’s show. After I checked into the motel, I made my way up to Pete’s room where everyone was gathered, discussing the trip they had made earlier in the afternoon to the nearby mall, and how they got talked into staying a while at the record store there to sign autographs. A short while later a group of people from WRTC in Hartford showed up to do an interview, and we all got into a long conversation about music and radio, which went on for a couple of hours, in the middle of which Gay showed up unexpectedly, having decided at the last minute she’d rather be at the show than at work.

Shaboom was the name of the club for the night’s show, located way out in the middle of nowhere, and when we arrived it was already full. It was a strangely laid out hall, fact being that the ceiling was very low and the stage unusually high, so if you weren’t five rows up in front, you couldn’t see the band’s heads. Gay (who was on the side of the stage shooting photos) and I, after a short while, retreated to the back of the club and somewhat cooler air. The band encored two times, and after the show went backstage. There was a large gathering of fans waiting to meet the band, so after they had a chance to relax, Peter Monks told the person at the backstage door to let everyone file in, in a group at a time, so they’d have a chance to talk with them all. This lasted a couple of hours, after which we went back to the motel and watched some late night TV and tried to block out the screams coming from Paddy’s room. We decided to turn in and get some sleep.

Thursday, 11/20/80: Day 5
Having both the day and night free, after breakfast, we began our drive to New York. We arrived at the Gramercy Park Hotel mid-afternoon, and after we had checked in, we gathered in the hotel bar (to many of us a favorite place – very intimate) to talk for the remainder of the afternoon. Since it seemed like it was celebrity week in New York, in the bar along with ourselves were some of Rockpile, Captain Beefheart’s band, and the Banshees san Siouxsie… so there were plenty of people to talk with. Richard Boone, the group’s manager, had just flown over from England, so he joined us late in the afternoon.

Shortly after we moved into the adjoining dining room to have dinner, after which the group went on to catch David Bowie in the play The Elephant Man (which was sold out, but Michael had reserved tickets for them earlier) while the rest of us retired back to the bar to discuss the tour and upcoming dates.

When the band returned, we decided to go out for the night, first stop being the Ritz as the band wanted to see the size and type of place they’d be playing later in the week. For a Thursday night it had a medium crowd (the Rockats playing) and the video at least was entertaining. We stayed a while and piled back in the car (nine of us) to go to the opening night of the Peppermint Lounge where, after we arrived, we were informed we’d have to wait in line with the others (and we had personal invitations… NY doormen…), so we said the hell with it and left. Half of us went back to the hotel and the rest went to the Mudd Club to catch the Bush Tetras. Another day…
Friday, 11/21/80: Day 6
After breakfast, we split up in groups while some of us went out record buying and shopping… so by the time we started our drive to Long Island for the night’s show at My Father’s Place, we were already running late. The heavy late afternoon traffic was no help, so when we arrived, there was only a short time for a soundcheck. We all went to a nearby steak house for dinner (taking up an entire corner of the place) and the staff from MFP sent over a case of Heinekens. We stalled through dinner as we were waiting for the arrival of Michael from IRS, who was to take the band to a radio station interview, and who was delayed a few hours, knocking us back off schedule for the night. The band did the interview, even getting to play their own personal favorites, and then we rushed back to make it in time for the show. Michael (not the world’s best driver), nearly smashed the car into a stone wall and were lucky to get back alive. The place was sold out when we arrived and Buzzcocks put on a great show, including three encores, the funniest of which during “Times Up,” the lines were changed to:

I was smoking in the smoking room
I was living in the living room
Now I’m dying in the dining room
Waiting for Mike Plen’s like waiting
For the man on the moon…

The backstage room was as small as a closet and it was crammed with fans and well-wishers, which took hours before we could leave. We drove back to the Gramercy late that night and went straight to bed.

Saturday, 11/22/80: Day 7
We checked out of the Gramercy and began our drive to [Cherry Hill,] New Jersey for the show at Emerald City [Now the corporate headquarters of Subaru America – RBF, 2011]. A stop for a late breakfast at Howard Johnson got us sidetracked at a computer Biorhythm machine (where we learned that Peter Monks’ sex life was a total wreck) and that, coupled with terrible directions, got us there late. We checked into the Rickshaw Inn (interesting place [demolished in 2002 – RBF, 2011]) and rushed over to the soundcheck. When we returned to the Inn about an hour later, a chauffeur-driven limousine was waiting to take the band to the Rock Ages Flea Market (a type of record collectors convention) where they were expected for an interview with a station transmitting live from there. Arriving some three hours late (someone gave us the wrong time schedule), we were greeted by the promoters and a gathering of fans. The interview went smoothly and the band spent time talking with fans and signing autographs before deciding to shop around. Paddy got his hands of some Cream LPs to complete his collection, Steve picked up some pretty groovy sunglasses, and Pete got some multi-designed prism paper which, upon arrival back at the hotel, he sat up under the fluorescent light in the bathroom to create a rainbow effect.

We went down to dinner, accompanied by numerous bottles of champagne and then we went pack to Pete’s room with three people from Newsound magazine for an interview. All three were very nice and we engaged in conversation and photo-taking up until it was time to leave for the show. We arrived at Emerald City, dropped our belongings backstage, and went out to the floor to have a look around. The fans seemed to be extremely friendly (possibly because I can’t be objective as the EC is a personal favorite of mine), and the lighting and sound is incredibly precise. It’s a huge place, but well set up for viewing from any corner – and it was packed full of Buzzcock fanatics. No fan was to be disappointed as the gig clicked with razor-tight precision. From the second they took the stage they whipped the huge crowd into a frenzy. When it was all over, I’m sure there was no one who didn’t believe. We went backstage, and talked with fans for a short while and proceeded back to the hotel exhausted. Steve, Paddy and John were interviewed until the early morning hours by a magazine, while the rest of us turned in to catch up on lost sleep.

Sunday, 11/23/80: Day 8
After a huge breakfast, we split up into two cars and began our drive back to New York and the Gramercy. We arrived mid-afternoon and shortly thereafter were met by some people from New York Rocker for an interview. A while later we gathered in the hotel bar with some friends to chat, and an interviewer from Relix magazine joined us to ask some questions. Before dinner, we made our way to the Ritz for the soundcheck (on time!) and were informed that Human Sexual Response from Boston were replacing the Rattlers – the support band for this tour – as they were banned from playing there.

When the soundcheck was finished, Steve, Gay, John and a friend left for Benihana’s [restaurant] where they discovered they had a great liking for sake. Pete and I headed to the hotel restaurant for steaks and we all met back later in the lobby to start out for the show. When we arrived, the Ritz was jammed with an over-sold crowd and the heat was close to unbearable. After the usual hassling by the Ritz staff concerning our wanting to tape the show (permission and all – we were denied), Richard, Michael and I attempted to find somewhere to stand in the back where it was a little cooler, but it was impossible as we were packed in like sardines. From the start of the show to the finish, the crowd went crazy. Despite the conditions, everyone was jumping around (it was hard to actually dance) and “I Believe” found us all screaming, “There is no love in this world anymore…” as the crowd had joined in on every chorus from the first song on. By the end of the show (including four encores, one of them dedicated to us) the fans looked to be exhausted, sweaty and happy.

By the time we made our way through the crowd to get backstage upstairs (half hour later), it was packed with fans waiting to get in to meet the band. Every time the door was opened, everyone crushed forward to try and squeeze in, and Richard actually had to grab me by the arm and pull me in through the sea of bodies. After everyone had a chance to rest awhile, the doorman started to let groups of fans through, and it wasn’t until after two hours that we finally emerged.

We were met by some students of a video school (I think) who had cameras set up in another room and wanted to shoot a short interview with the band, who obliged, and the rest of us sat down to chat while we waited. They were out about an hour later and we headed back to the hotel. We gathered in Peter Monk’s room for an after-show party, along with some fans and friends, and the drummer from Captain Beefheart’s band (a really nice guy with some fascinating inside stories about the Captain). Early morning we crawled back to our rooms to grab a few hours sleep.

Monday, 11/24/80: Day 9
After packing and a quick breakfast, we collected ourselves in the lobby to check out. Realizing that we were down to one car (since the next stop was Rhode Island and not everyone from the previous stops were joining us – including the person with the second car) and we had more people than would fit, Pete, Richard and I decided to take the 1:30 Amtrak there and the rest would drive. We ate lunch on the train, and numerous comic books later, we arrived in Providence, in the pouring rain. We grabbed a cab to the Holiday Inn and checked in (we arrived first as the others had done a bit of record buying in the Village before departing) and we decided to get some rest while waiting for the others. After they arrived, we made our way to the Brown University auditorium for the soundcheck and were greeted by a number of young fans and some early arriving friends (real fanatics) from Boston. Some sandwiches were brought up (which served in place of dinner) and we went back to the hotel to relax before the show. When we returned, a large gathering of people were there (some quite young, in fact), anxious for the start of the show. The auditorium had no seats and was medium size; therefore the acoustics were quite good. The show went really well and the fans seemed to really enjoy themselves (even the kids knew the words) and so did the band. A group of friends came backstage and we sat around for an hour or so discussing previous shows and the very important end-of-the-tour show the next night: Boston. Exhausted, we returned to the hotel to try to get a night’s sleep.

Tuesday, 11/25/80: Day 10
The wake-up call came around 11:00, and we gathered in the hallway with our luggage to make our way downstairs to check out. As we were heading towards the elevator, we were approached by two fans who had spent the night there in hopes of having a chance to meet the band, so we stopped to talk for a short while. We asked at the desk for the closest place to grab some breakfast and were given directions to a nearby Howard Johnson (is there really any other place to eat?) where we stopped, and after eating, began our drive to Boston. We arrived back at the Bradford mid-afternoon (this time it was my bad directions – you’d never know I was a native) and after we got settled, we went to the bar for a drink. It was election night [Ronald Reagan chosen for president – RBF, 2011], the place was jammed with people, so a short while later, we retired back upstairs to talk. A few hours later, we decided to go downstairs where the ballroom was located, to take a look around before the soundcheck. Large groups of people were already in line waiting and we made our way through to find a very large size hall with a totally unobstructed view and a good size stage.

When the band finally took to the stage for the check, shocks were coming through some of the instruments so, after checking out the wires to no avail, an electrician was sent for. The wait began. Hours passed and cancellation of the concert was discussed as it was getting late and the gathering of fans in the hallway outside were banging on the doors and getting a bit anxious. A short while later, the problem was solved and after a rushed check, we decided to go to the hotel restaurant for dinner.

Everyone was a little nervous because the night’s show was very important for many reasons: the last time Buzzcocks were scheduled to play Boston, they cancelled, which meant it had been two years since the last time they played. In the meanwhile, we had started the newsletter (Harmony In My Head) and done assorted radio specials… only to realize there was a huge fan following there and that, coupled with a lot of promotion concentrated on this show, made it extremely important that it turn out well. Although everyone was confident, watching the people file into the hall from where we were sitting did make things a little uneasy, so we went back upstairs to have a few drinks. The night being a three band bill, joining the Rattlers as support was La Peste from Boston, so we didn’t proceed downstairs until around 11:30, via the freight elevator. The band went backstage and Gay and I went wading through the immense crowd (including kids because it was an all-age show) to talk to some friends. The moment Buzzcocks took to the stage, our nervousness dissipated. Within seconds they had the crowd in a frenzy as they seared through both new and old favorites. The song list was as follows:

What Do I Get
Fast Cars
Fiction Romance
(dedicated to Oedipus at WBCN)
Everybody’s Happy
Ever Fallen in Love
Something’s Gone Wrong
Airwaves Dream
Strange Thing
Noise Annoys
What Do You Know
I Believe
Love You More
Times Up
Oh Shit

Again, during the chorus of “I Believe,” the audience joined in as it had every stop previous, making it a magic moment.

Another highlight came after the final encore when John knocked over his drumset and instruments were bashed around, and he then pulled the American flag from its stand and threw it on top of the wreckage. It couldn’t have been more perfect as it was the last night of the tour. Fans and friends jammed backstage for a champagne celebration and Michelle Kirsh from Take-It magazine was doing an interview with Pete in the corner of the room. We stayed backstage and chatted about the show for a while. Pete even gave some romantic advice to the editor of Take-It, who had recently split up with his girlfriend, and then went back upstairs with a group of friends to carry on for most of the night.

Wednesday, 11/26/80: Day 11 – Last Day
Michael came and rushed us out of bed around 11:30, as the band was expected to be at WBCN at 12:00. They were guests of Ken Shelton’s on Celebrity DJs of the Week. We arrived a little late, and after the introductions, the band got to go through the record library and pick out some favorite groups to play. Pete chose the Residents and the Walt Disney soundtrack to Dumbo the Elephant; Steve chose the Clash and XTC; Paddy chose Cream; and John, the Dance and the Seeds. During the playing of cuts and the talking in-between, Michael drove me back to my house to pick up my car as he was leaving afterwards to go back to New York and I had to drive everyone to the airport later that night.

By the time we got back to the station, they were wrapping things up so we said our goodbyes and made our way back to the hotel to grab some lunch. We went upstairs and moved all our luggage into one room and made our plans for the afternoon. Steve and Gay left to go shopping for bolo ties, and Pete and I made our way out to Medford to spend the day at the Child World toy store. It’s a huge place, almost as big as a warehouse, and by the time we made it back to the checkout counter, Pete had collected 80-some-dollars worth of toys, including a Monopoly game, a snap-together Good Year blimp, and assorted Mickey Mouse games. It was so much fun; I even ended up getting an Etch-A-Sketch.

We were supposed to meet in the lobby of the hotel before 5:00 (flight departure was at 7:30) and even though we left by 4:00 to get back in time, we got stuck in so much traffic we didn’t arrive ‘til 5:30, and everyone was in a panic. The rental car was filled with all the suitcases and everybody piled into my car and headed for the airport, which at rush hour took us extra time to get to as well. I drove to the door to drop everyone off and by the time I had parked the car, everyone had gotten their boarding passes and we made our way to the waiting room until departure time.

We reminisced about the tour and how well it had gone (even with the problems) and made plans for the next time they were coming. It was also very sad because we had all become good friends and we didn’t want to see them leave. Seven-thirty seemed to roll around quicker than usual that evening, and as the lines were filing to board, we kissed and hugged goodbye, and with a last wave, they were gone. All we were left with were memories of a wonderful time.

Now: The Altercockers
The Buzzcocks

Next time I heard from any Buzzcocks (letters aside) was late in March when I received a phone call from Pete Shelley informing me of the breakup. I felt a great sadness and an even greater anger that my dream of flipping on the car radio to hear “What Do I Get” blaring out might never come true. Any of their songs would have made the radio a better place, but that’s not to say a valuable contribution wasn’t made. Singles Going Steady doesn’t compete with any of the best Greatest Hits albums; it joins them, and as their manager Richard Boone once said, and I agree, every time you listen to the radio, you can hear snatches of “Love Bites”; and the list goes on and on..

Buzzcocks were the best thing to happen to pop music in the last decade; nostalgia for an age yet to come. And there is more to come. Pete Shelley has signed a new solo contract with an album slated for release this fall, full of wonderful, bright electro-pop tunes; Steve Diggle is busy in the studio working on his own solo material to put together for release in the upcoming future; Paddy Garvey has started a new band entitled Motivation who have been gigging around and hope to sign a new dead soon; John Maher has recently joined the group WAH!, as well as continuing studio and roadwork with Pauline Murray and the Invisible Girls, and other assorted projects.

The future holds wonderful things. Believe…

Sunday, June 26, 2011

DVD Review: The Puppet Monster Massacre

Text © Richard Gary / FFanzeen, 2011
Images from the Internet

The Puppet Monster Massacre
Written, puppeteerd, edited, executive produced, and directed by Dustin Mills
MVD Visual, 2010/2011
70 minutes, USD $14.95

There is a sub-sub-genre of puppet-charactered horror and exploitation films that goes back a few years. Some titles include Mad Monster Party (okay, that one was rated G), Peter Jackson’s early Meet the Feebles, parts of Night of the Living Dead: Reanimated (reviewed in an earlier blog), the all-out hardcore Let My Puppets Come, and now this new splatterfest. These are hardly Puppetoons you would show along with Frosty the Snowman to the kiddies.

With tongue in cheek (and hand in felt) writ large, Dustin Mills does an homage to the early plethora of cheesy video-era horror flicks; this one takes place in 1985. Some of the puppets, which look similar in style to the Henson variety, were created by Dustin’s mother, with varied and imaginative looks. It’s not just the gore (of which there is plenty, some of it CGI splatter), the nudity or the sex, it’s the writing that that truly makes this something worth seeking out...other than the novelty of an all puppet exploitation film, of course.

The central theme is that the evil scientist Dr. Wolfgang Wagner (voiced by Steve Rimpieri) and his sidekick penguin, Mr. Squiggums (aka, the comic relief), has built himself a monster parasite that he plans to feed through inviting some town teens to come stay at his house under the premise that if they spend the night, they get… one million dollars.

The first teen (and main character) is Charlie (Ethan Holey), who is afraid of his own shadow, especially compared to his apparently loony World War II hero grandpa (supposedly, grandpa kicked Adolph in his Hitlers…actually – and I doubt this would make Final Jeopardy – the German leader actually only had one testicle, FYI); shame Grandpa (Bart Flynn) couldn’t have been in the movie more as he is so much fun (the crusty and vulgar old man film stereotype that Alan Arkin has embodied so well), though he is actually in the film just the right amount for the story. However, Charlie wants to restore the family honor by reopening the family dollar store (what, you’re looking for sense in a horror puppet movie? What is wrong with you?).

Also invited is Gwen (Jessica Daniels), the hoodie-wearing girl Charlie has been in love with since kindergarten and is now his best/only friend, but is afraid to ask out. We all know where that relationship is heading (some cliché’s remain true), if you’ve ever seen any of a thousand Sixteen Candles kinds of flicks. She comes across smarter, braver and more logical than him, but remains unassuming.

Third is Raimi (an obvious tribute, voiced by Mills), an Elmo-colored film geek/freak who talks in quotes and references. He is buck-toothed, has what I’m assuming are pimples (though they could be blotches; they move from one side of his face to another in different scenes), and has a Wolowitz kind of relationship with his mother (also unseen here). Actually, his oversexed, under-experienced annoying nature is also similar to the Big Bang Theory character, but is hardly a rip-off.

The fourth invitee is a bald tough guy named Iggy (of course) with a too-thick Cockney accent and lots of piercings, who is obviously monster fodder (ah, but will he have a comeuppance? Or is that a comeupuppetance?). Iggy (also Bart Flynn) brings his uninvited gothic, mohawked girlfriend, Mona (portrayed by Mills’ real-life girlfriend, Erica Kisseberth; also the voice of Raimi’s mom), who supplies the “nudity” in a couple of occasions. She is tough as nails and has more than a larcenous streak to her.

The five show up at the Rocky Horror-inspired house, turrets and all, of course on a rainy Friday night. Plot-wise, what happens from then is highly clichéd, but there are moments of lunacy equivalent to the Bugs Bunny cartoon where a horse is walking in the middle of the air who states, as Bugs flies by in Superman style, “A rabbit? Up here?” There are bunny farts (actually there are a lot of farts from numerous characters) and, well, isn’t bunny farts enough? But there is more.

It’s all very amusing, and I can understand why this won the 2011 Motor City Nightmares Film Festival’s Best Animal Film award. In the end credits, Mills lists some who inspired him to make films, such as Guilliamo Del Toro (imagination), Kevin Smith (zippy dialog and lower-level humor situations; even in Smith’s best film, Dogma, there’s a shit demon, or “poopy-boy,” as Muse/Selma Hyack calls it), Robert Rodriguez (action pacing and editing; his Planet Terror is a joy to watch for that), the aforementioned Peter Jackson (certainly not for his Lord of the Rings work, but rather his also excellent early films), and Jim Henson (well, that’s kinda obvious, doncha think?). Bugs Bunny (hey, bunnies run through the film, so why not this review?) and/or Scooby Doo can be added in such scenes as when Raimi and the monster duck around each other in varied directions.

There are two commentaries, one by Mills alone, and one by him and assistant director Brandon Salkil. While Mills mentions that he feels the one both of them is better, in actuality, they are both excellent. In either/or, he details how the film cost $3500 (for copyrights, camera, computer, software, felt), and goes on to explain that “An average day of filming was two Jackasses [Mills and Salkil] in my living room with a green screen and bunch of puppets.” Two of the characters are portrayed by professional (i.e., as Mills explains, they’ve done it for money before) voice actors: Rimperi and Flynn; they emailed in their readings, and Mills has never actually met them at the time of the commentary).

Mills goes on to explain why he made the film, his plans for the future, scene by scene his finest and least favorite (a certain CGI shot) moments, and the experience as a whole. He does a better job than most in keeping in the moment on both tracks, which is appreciative as so many other commentaries are wastes of time (including by one of his inspirations, Kevin Smith). There are also two short examples of monster styles that were not used, the second not too bad.

You really have to be of a certain type to like this kind of film, and I’m fortunate that I am, because I had a lot of fun watching the whole she-bang, and listening to all of the two commentaries. Whether there is a sequel or not (there is a typical ‘80s-style hint of it at the end), I hope these guys keep going. Texas Puppet Massacre? Last Puppet on the Left? Night of the Puppet Dead? Puppetzilla (Mills mentions that he has a thing for giant monster films)? It! Puppet From Beyond Space? The Puppet of Gore? Incredibly Strange Puppets Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed Up Marionettes? Okay, I’ll stop now while you order this film…

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Life gets in the way of life

Thanks to glorious weather, a garden that needs tending, events that need capturing in my camera, etc., blogs may be a just a bit sporatic for a bit, but I will review every piece of music, every DVD, every book, every event, etc., but please be a bit patient. Now I'm heading off to the Media Ecology Association conference for the next four days. More photos to come of the Saskatoon Pride Fest, as well.

Soon, I promise!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

DVD Reviews: Two More by Creep Creepersin: he and Peeping Blog

Text © Richard Gary / FFanzeen, 2011
Live image © RBF
Cover images from the Internet

As promised in an earlier blog, here are a couple more of Creep Creepersin’s indie, shot-on-digicam full-length releases. He is fast becoming one of my favorite DIY directors, showing an artistic side to his releases. The reason I put these two reviews together is for a number of reasons: they co-star both Ariauna Albright (who RBF met in the early 1990s at a Chiller Theatre show in Rutherford, NJ) and Creep, himself, is the main actor. In both, they are unnamed. These are more psychological in nature than most of Creep’s works, and if fact, Peeping Blog could easily be considered as he’s sequel.

Written, produced, directed by Creep Creepersin
MVD Visual, 2009 / 2011
70 minutes, USD $14.95

”…and drop a smile passing in the hall
But there’s no laughs left ‘cause we laughed them all
And we laughed them all in a very short time…”
- Paul Simon

“You oughta scratch from the human race
You are a waste of a name
A waste of time and a waste of space
You’ve only one claim to fame:
I don’t like you.”
- Stiff Little Fingers

For the opening of the “making of” short, director (etc.) Creep Creepersin states, “I don’t remember really writing it or doing it; I just remember we decided we were going to make a movie, and we made the movie.” From the detail given by him during the commentary, however, that is obviously not the case, but is Creep playing mind games in a film full of mental questions.

This is the third film of Creepersin’s I’ve seen in a row. While it’s one of his early full-length efforts, it’s also among his best. he is a tight psychological drama about an unnamed man and his ever increasing descent into mental illness.

When we first meet “he” (as the character is listed in the credits; apparently it is always lower case), played by Creepersin himself, he’s just gotten out of bed as we watch him bring his very crunchy feet into the shower, while still wearing his glasses. This is to symbolize, I’m assuming, his tenuous connection to what’s really going on in the world though he does his best to see it.

His long-suffering wife (listed in the credits as “the wife”), both touchingly and scarily played by scream queen Ariauna Albright, comes to the bathroom door in a thick leopard print robe open over a black, cleavage-exposing bra that she wears for most of the film. She is obviously unhappy and dour in her life, especially the one she shares with him. Wait, is that a kitchen knife in her hands?

As the credits roll over yet another Creepersin breakfast eating scene (is he obsessed with this meal and tooth brushing, or what?), we start to see how the cracks in the relationship are imbedded, as he obliviously drinks his coffee with long, loud slurps, and mashes the food into his mouth. Not a turn-on for her (or us), as we watch her winch at every sound and action. We also shortly learn that she wants a baby, and holds him responsible for her lack of progeny (despite neither having ever been tested). It becomes explicitly clear quite quickly that they both are having psychological problems. It almost seems like she has a form of severe depression, or PTSD.

After believing the wife has a kitchen knife early on, it become increasingly clear that he’s becoming delusional. For example, after being out of work for an undisclosed period of time (though the impression is it’s been quite the while), he receives a letter that to him says “Proceed,” in big, handwritten letters, but when she reads the same paper (i.e., the real world), it’s a job offer. The viewer gets the distinct impression that he is not exactly excited about it.

Along with these little bits of weirdness, he starts envisioning a hit man (Matt Turek) after him (supposedly hired by his wife who, as we see, gets the idea from doing crossword puzzles; question is, is the puzzle his delusion, or hers?), two business men who hide in the house, a silent watcher with a thick head scarf over her face, a radio dj that talks directly to him in his car, and a couple of times he even sees himself laughing at him and taking physical control of a situation. His most frequent vision is a woman (Malina Germanova) who speaks only in Russian (with English subtitles, but he understands her and answers in English) and will only answer questions, between demanding he run out and buy her cigarettes. It is during this exchange that the viewer starts to realize the extent of his damage, as he keeps pleadingly asking her, “What am I supposed to do?” And then, of course, he’s convinced he’s being watched, in one of the few funny dialog moments that leads into a tense scene.

There are goofy moments here and there that could easily be snipped, such as he singing a nonsensical vagina-referenced song during an extended, unedited close-up shot of him driving for those cigarettes. This reminds me of a similar shot of the Doug character in Ding Dong Dead; it’s definitely the same car, too, by the “grey” alien figurehead on the dashboard.

Speaking of Creepersin-isms, there are some stylistic choices that are reminiscent of his excellent Frankenstein film here, such as someone talking another language with subtitles (in F, it was the voice played backwards) or just nonsense (as an open box does here) without any reference, but in both cases, the protagonist understanding and responding normally. I actually like this gimmick, but hope he doesn’t overdo it in the future. And as for the filming itself, Gary Griffith does an outstanding job of cinematography (or as it is put in the credits here, “shot, edit and manipulation”).

[Ariauna Albright in the early 1990s – photo © RBF]

Creepersin does well to elicit the right emotions from the audience, and though he does a bit of scenery chewing here and there, his inexperience as an actor works for him as the clueless and frightened “he.” Albright absolutely shines as his long-suffering wife, her own anger and resentment usually held just below the surface. Despite the minimal dialog through the film, she is clear in her state of anxiety through her face and body motions. She really should be doing larger films (this being said though this is sadly the first of her in action I’ve seen, despite her long list of indie horror flicks).

There is an interesting 13.5 minute short on the “making of,” with Creep, Turek, and Griffith, who tell anecdotes of the filming. But the most attention-grabbing for me, in a bemused way, was how both Turek and Griffith say Creep’s real name, which is overdubbed by Creep himself saying, in a deep and creaky voice, “Creeeeep.” Of course, it’s easy enough to lip read that they’re actually saying [CREEEEEP]. There are also trailers to some of Creep’s releases.

In the solo director’s commentary, Creep describes in loving detail how the house used for this shoot was not only his home at the time, with his wife/producer Nikki Wall (who also plays one of the voices, as she did in Frankenstein) and their kids, but it’s where he grew up in Cypress, California. The house was also used in Ding Dong Dead and Peeper Blog (they have since moved to Burbank). It takes place at Christmas time (or, as “the wife” insists in the film for an unexplained reason, Xmas), and actually was filmed in December 2008, after a three-week pre-production, yet the house is full of Creepersin’s family horror memorabilia, making it look more like Halloween; this isn’t a complaint, just an amused observation…heck, I’ve had my share of posters, imitation skulls and monster models on my shelves during my day.

Creep goes on to point out continuity errors that would most likely be missed, like while he’s standing outside observing his neighbor’s (real) Christm…Xmas decorations, comparing it to his own, the audience can see the silhouette of his son in the upstairs window watching the filming. I love the humanity of that kind of thing, when a director not only admits to the flaws in his own films, but actually embraces them, as he should. It was also brave of Creep to admit that, “Watching it was harder than making it.”

Peeping Blog
Written and directed by Creep Creepersin
MVD Visual, 2011
75 minutes (bonus: 30 min), USD $14.95

Let me start off by congratulating Creep for this film winning a Jury Award at the 2010 Polly Staffle Grindhouse Fest (aka Pollygrind), in Las Vegas.

That being said, lets discuss the film…

Didja ever see the Family Guy where Peter wins the Golden Ticket and runs home, tripping on the sidewalk in front of his house, and he sits there for a good minute or two holding his knee in pain, going “Oooo, ahhh”? Well, if you found that tiresome, you may want to hesitate before viewing this. Personally, I found that particular scene hysterical, even after numerous viewings.

After a brief intro where the unnamed protagonist (whom I shall refer to as the Peeper) creates a stalker blog site online (looks like Blogger to me, home of this very review), we are introduced to a scene that is one continuous shot that lasts for nearly 20 minutes. Filmed on digicam in the Peeper’s car (from the alien head on the dashboard, it’s obviously Creep’s car in real life, which was also used in he and Ding Dong Dead mounted on the dashboard, it follows another car (probably also belonging to the Creepersin clan, judging by the pirate skull head decal on the back window; perhaps Nikki Wall’s?) into a mini-mall full of chain stores. We then sit and watch the stalker’s prey (I’ll call her the Peepee…er, let’s make that Peeped), played by Ariauna Albright. She stops into a shop (won’t say the name, only that it is probably a Seattle First-Nations’ word for “bitter coffee”) and we watch sits at an outside table as she drinks her cup and talks to someone outside the camera range (perhaps a real-life fan?). After finishing the drink, she walks back to her car and we follow her out of the lot. Through all this, the only sound is the Peeper’s breathing and some minor ambient noise filtering through the car window.

That is one of the cool aspects of this film, that all the audience gets to see and hear is what the Peeper sees and hears through the very camera he’s using to stalk (hey, saves on having a camera and sound crew, too; this must be one of his lowest budget efforts yet).

The next extended shot is of the Peeper cooking what looks like either a hot pocket or burrito in a nuker (aka microwave oven), and we watch him eat it in extreme close-up (lifting a home-made full-face mask to do so). Yes, once again, a Creeper film where we get to watch someone eat a meal by themselves. He’s consistent, I must say, though I’m grateful we don’t watch anyone brush his or her teeth again. The following shot is as the Peeper hides behind a coat rack and the Peeped walks into a very white-motifed living room. She also nukes her food and eats it alone, perhaps a commentary on their mutual loneliness? A lot of Creepersin’s characters are lonely, even when they are with someone (such as in he). It’s then the audience becomes aware that the plate she is using has the same design as the one he used, and he’s inside her apartment. How he got there is unexplained, and why she can’t see him standing behind a coat rack even though she walks directly past it a number of times is, I guess, a suspension of disbelief. Meanwhile, he watches her sit on the couch in front of the television while eating. When she steps out of the room, he runs out to smell her knee-high boot, and then runs back to behind the coat rack.

After a phone call, the Peeped leaves and the masked Peeper walks around the apartment and into her bedroom, opening drawers, smelling intimate objects, and laying down on her bed. He’s in his usual spot when she arrives back, but she is not alone. Her sister (I’ll call her Sister, played by indie scream queen Elissa Dowling), who has just had a big fight with her boyfriend, is with her. Sister is invited to stay while the Peeped she goes out to work.

When the Sister steps out for a ciggy-butt, the Peeper walks around the apartment, putting down the camera to smell the Sister’s jacket. And, of course, the Sister comes back sooner than the Peeper expects. At that moment, things pick up more than a notch. Also, this is the point where I stop describing the plot (didn’t think I’d tell ya the whole story now, didja?).

If I had to describe this film in single words, what comes to mind is “dreary” and “humorless.” In fact, this is the least pleasing Creepersin release I’ve seen to date. With minimal editing, dialog, or any pleasantry whatsoever, it is a difficult show to watch, and it is all one chapter on the DVD, so you cannot jump to another scene. While not torture porn per se, such as the Saw or Hostel films, the violence of misogyny, both internalized and acted upon, makes this more than uncomfortable and claustrophobic. By putting the audience inside the camera with him, we are equally peeping voyeurs as well. For this reason, I think this is my least favorite of Creepersin’s work that I’ve seen to date. I’m not saying it’s badly done, and cinema violence is not something that I’ve shied away from in the past, but I was prickly watching this to its conclusion. Perhaps that’s the point? If so, then it is effective, and therefore not a bad film, just uneasy.

During an interview on the extras, Creep comments that Ariauna wanted to do a project where she was victimized because during all the years of her making indie horror films, she’s never been in that situation. Apparently, there was no script (despite Ariauna wanting one) to Peeping Blog, all of the dialog being spontaneous. Creepersin also goes to great lengths to show that the mask worn by the Peeper is not the same one worn by the imaginary he in he. Making masks, by the way, is one of Creepersin’s hobbies, he explains in a different film’s commentary.

Other than the trailer, another bonus feature is a 21-minute behind the scenes – err – documentary? Ariauna and Elissa lounge around the living room between shooting, and Ariauna comments on the hardness of a dildo she is smacked with in the film by the Peeper. That takes up a couple of minutes, and the rest of it is a very shaky camera following Ariauna around a Ralph’s supermarket (she even looks directly into it and smiles at one point as she passes by). Most of the image, however, is of the shelves, the ceiling, or Creeper’s thumb over the lens. Not the most exciting footage. Then they both get into their respective cars, and we watch as Ariauna sits in hers for a while (well, actually, we get to see the back of her car; is that the sound of Creeper’s real impatience I hear during this?), and then takes off. While the camera follows her out of the lot, she makes a left and the car with the camera makes a right. We follow along a few blocks until we get to the house Creepersin grew up in, where they filmed both he and Ding Dong Dead.

While this feels like a one-day project from inception to completion, it is at the least effective, even though I was turned off by the ending. And yet, I still look forward to more work by Creepersin.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

DVD Reviews: Two by Creep Creepersin: Ding Dong Dead and Corporate Cutthroat Massacre

Text © Richard Gary / FFanzeen, 2011
Images from the Internet

I was pretty blown away from writer / producer / director Creep Creepersin’s Frankenstein, which was reviewed earlier on the FFanzeen blog. So, I was grateful to get the chance to review a couple more of his indie, shot-on-digicam releases. The reason I put these two together is that they were filmed bam-bam-bam, and have some overlapping features, such as being comedy mass murders, and they both contain Elina Madison.

Ding Dong Dead
Directed by Creep Creepersin
MVD Visual, 2009/2010
70 minutes (bonus: 9 min), USD $14.95

In the commentary, Creep posits that this has been his most “funnist” film to make. It’s also kind of silly, actually. The premise is the story about Doug, a guy who is hanging on by just a thread on many levels. He is targeted for pranks by a gang of beautiful “Mean Girls” after he calls the cops on them for hanging around his neighborhood and being a nuisance. Their revenge on him? Well, they, keep ringing his doorbell and running away (hey, even Groucho mentions this practice in an early Marx Bros. film). Apparently, it’s called ding dong ditching. But they ring this doorbell one too many times, and after a misunderstanding, this escalates until the story lives up to its title.

While other films are referenced by Creep during the commentary as influences, possibly the one it comes closest to it – and is not mentioned – is Peckinpaw’s amazing Straw Dogs (mousetraps included… hmmm wonder if it’s available on DVD…).

Luke Y. Thompson stars as Doug, the main character of the film, playing him with just the right amount of pathos, hopelessness, and anger. Creep lights him mostly in a blue hue, reflecting his life. Doug’s running diatribe during a long driving scene, complaining about other drivers and pedestrians, is telling (though I admit to doing that myself). He may occasionally walk kinda funny, but it’s easy enough to put that in as part of the character. With loud shirts and a short temper, the film starts off with him losing his job (overslept) with few future prospects, or the will to do anything about it. Doug lives a life of both inertia and hostility, living alone, with his mother being the only one who phones. A long clip of Doug brushing his teeth (seemingly a Creep signage) perhaps shows his loneliness, as it did in another of his films, Creepersin’s Frankenstein.

Doug has a crush on his neighbor across the street, played as an extended cameo by Elina Madison, who also stars in Creepersin’s Corporate Cutthroat Massacre (reviewed directly below). He imagines himself being suave and turning her head, but in reality he’s a shy, fearful man. Besides, she’s too distracted by the loss of her husband who was killed in action. Just one more frustration for Doug to help build up his anger.

And the pranks by the mean girls (all of whose names reflect the doorbell practice, such as D.D. Diane, D.D. Debbie, D.D. Dana, and my favorite, D.D. DeeDee) are just what push him over the edge into insanity, which leads to an obvious conclusion, well at least to someone who watches a lot of crime dramas.

It’s hard to feel any sympathy for any of the characters, as they are just plain nasty. The gang gets knocked off one by one by various methods; however, I thought the fate of the leader of the D.D.s was a bit much, even for the now clearly insane Doug (you know he’s nuts because he keep referring to himself in third person, such as “Doug is going to war” or “Doug likes to play games.”). While all the other assassinations are of the moment, her fate is more deliberate, which seems out of character to me.

There are some really nice shots in the film, two of my favorites being Doug sitting in his living room chair watching television while the girl gang view him through a big picture window behind him. It reminded me the Tall Man standing over Mike’s bed in Phantasm (in my mind I hear: “We’ve been waiting to ring your doorbell…boy!”). Another great shot is as Doug is walking past the kitchen door, and one of the gang is standing in the shadows of that room, unnoticed by the dull-witted Doug.

The locale for this film is the same house as in he (i.e., Creep’s childhood home in Cypress, California; review to follow. No, I’m not that observant about the house, but Creep mentions it in the commentary (in-between near-constant throat-clearings; perhaps time to put down the ciggy-butts the listener can hear you lighting up a few times?). There are actually two commentaries, one by Creep and one with Creep and star Luke. Both keep up the interest on the filmmaking process with anecdotes, and the story of how Luke met his real-life girlfriend, one of the D.D.s, is pretty cool, since the first time they met was her death scene; supposedly she was genuinely scared of him. Now they live together. Nice. If you visit, though, be sure to knock.

Corporate Cutthroat Massacre
Directed by Creep Creepersin
MVD Visual, 2009
70 minutes (33 min bonus), USD $14.95

This near-bloodless black comedy slasher film is based on a 17 minute short co-written by Tyger Torrez and Elina Madison, the later of whom plays the same lead character in both (the original short is included here, in the extras).

The original, The Late Shift, is strong and never lets up, hardly a comedy. And while there are elements in the earlier version I find superior to the full lengther (e.g., revolving around the Rusty/Crusty character), Creep did a fine job filling out the story into a feature. He adds more characters, more plot lines, and elongates some scenes, usually with success.

In his commentary…hell, even on the box, Creep mentions how much his additional material was inspired by the US version of The Office, of which he and his partner/wife, Nikki Wall (listed as Mrs. Creepersin on some of his films) are fans. He even declares which characters in this film are based on which ones in the show (some are pretty obvious).

Elina Madison plays Brandy Babcock (spelled Brandi in the short), a hard-nosed boss who states firmly that she “expects perfection” from her employees (“Is that so much to ask?” she further queries, rhetorically). The company she works for is going down the tubes, and she has to fire two people, so she makes her handful of fuck-up employees stay after hours and do sales reports until she decides who stays and who gets axed. Elina, who played the unrequited love neighbor in Ding Dong Dead, handles her character here chillingly well. Creepersin gives her a more human side than is presented in the short, which is a nice touch, though I thought that scene should have been earlier in the film; without giving anything away, before the scene where she shouts, “Will someone answer that phone!” When you see the entire film, you’ll understand. The only nit-pick I have about Elina is, in this film, she tends to add an extra “ah” vowel at the end of some words to show disgust, which is distracting (“What are you doing-gah?” “Get back to work-kah”). Perhaps it’s a California thing? I notice Penny does that on Big Bang Theory, as well.

As for the employees, there’s the married couple who want to go home and fool around, the alcoholic looking for her next drink, the two screwing in the copy room, and Bernie, the smartass (though not expressed, I’m guessing based somewhat on the Dwight character). One by one (or two-by-two in some cases), they start to mysteriously disappear. The name of the film should somewhat answer any curiosity.

Creepersin definitely has some auteur moments. While no one eat breakfast or brushes their teeth at length here, as in other films of his, there is a long unbroken one-shot of Elina putting on a fresh layer of make-up in a bathroom mirror.

The ending is a nice twist and handled well in both short and long versions. The whole The Office homage is a bit overdone, including the shaky camera, but just taking this film for what it is, it’s a good effort by the extremely prolific Creepster. Each of his films usually take two-three days to shoot, so adding pre- and post-productions, he could conceivably do a film a month. I know since seeing these two films and having reviewed another, I’ve already received another. And I’m happy about that.

There are two making of shorts in the Extra section, the first of which is a pretty extraneous one with short interviews with various cast members. Much of what is said by Creep and actor Charlie Vaughn had already been said in the commentary, so it feels redundant. The second short, obviously shot the same time as the first, is a bit more interesting that has them all talking about their own jobs from hell.

The first film-length commentary is Creep by himself, and he does an excellent job getting the viewer into what was happening on the set at the time of the scene, or what technical issues were behind others. In the second commentary, Creep is joined by Vaughn, who plays the Dwight-ish ne’er-do-well Bernie. He is good in the film, but I’m not sure why he is on the comment track, other than being a friend of Creep. Personally, I would have liked to have Creep joined by either Elina (first choice) or Tyger Torrez (second), as she was the executive producer of both films, and Torrez was the original director; it would have been interesting to compare notes on the shoot, especially as there are a couple of scenes where Creep actually used the footage from the short (which he verbally acknowledges).

For the kinds of films Creepersin makes, he has a keen eye and a way of telling a story. He also consistently gets some good work out of his actors. Sure there are continuity issues, which he is willing to address in commentaries, unintentional cameos in reflections, and the like, but one thing I learned from working as an usher in a cinema, no matter what the budget, there is no such thing as a perfect movie in that way. Every film contains some errors. Now, I’m going to watch Creepersin’s Peeping Blog, which will be reviewed here anon with another of his films, he.

Friday, June 3, 2011

ConsentFest and SlutWalk, Saskatoon, May 28, 2011

Text and photos (c) Robert Barry Francos
Photos can be enlarged by clicking on them
If anyone wants Hi-Rez copies, please write

Also, if you see your photo and want to be credited/identified, let me know
Earlier this year, a Toronto constable who led a campus safety talk told his audience that "women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized." In a rightful wave of protest, this blaming-the-victim statement led to what has become known as the ConsentFest, which is punctuated by a multi-gendered march called the Slutwalk, to pronounce that anyone has the right to say no, no matter what the garb. These fests have, in a very short time, become a worldwide movement. Hopefully, it will become annual.

Under a cloudy sky ripe with the threat of rain, people were gathering in the park behind Saskatoon's Farmer's Market. While most appeared to be college students, there was a wide range of participants of all ages, and varied levels of "sluttiness." While making signs, greeting old and new friends, and playing music on found instruments, a feeling of liberation was in the air.

After an announcement from one of the ConsentFest organizers (all of whom wore red sashes), Saskatoon Police Chief Clive Weighhill came up and said that unlike that police representative in TO, the law enforcement of Saskatoon take assault seriously, so please do not be afraid to let them know.

With that, the march was formally on its way. Going North on Avenue B South and turning east on 19th Street, the chanting walkers continued north on 3 Ave S to 21 Street, across the core to Spadina Crescent, turned south at the landmark Bessborough Hotel, and then on to River Landing.

As we all gathered at the open-air amphitheatre, there were a series of speakers as the weather turned wet. People started to leave at this point, as the sibling country band started. After one song, they had to stop because of the weather. A couple of more speakers went to the mic while some dieharders stayed to listen (I was smart / lucky enough to have an umbrella with me).

Due to the storm, the Fest part was cut short, and rather than it really starting to get into the swing around 3 PM, we were all out of there shortly before that time. I'm hoping this is just the start of these marches, and they turn into a positive alternative to the Take Back the Night ones (I stand by their message, as well). This Fest had only one booth that sold some liquidfaction, and at some point I'm hoping it will be as raucous as the Pride Festival and March.

I have added some comments to some of the photos below, to explain either the moment or why the photo is included.

Gathering the marchers.

Ashley Wills, a reporter from the conservative talk radio station interviews one of the organizers, Leah Horlick.

Leah is also interviewed by Charles Hamilton of the CBC.

An organizer talks to supporter Chief Clive Weighill (right), while Joanne Horsley of The Avenue Community Centre for Gender & Sexual Diversity (center) looks on.

People were so happy to be there, they were levitating.

Rhythm musicians, who accompanied the marchers along the way, played a drum and found instruments, such as empty wine bottles and cooking oil cans.

I am assuming that Batman is a representative of Unreal Comics, one of the corporate sponsors of the event.

Did you notice the water bottle?

A quick announcement before the start of the SlutWalk.

Chief Weighill gives the endorsement of the city's police. He participated in the entire march.

Co-organizer Debbie Rye

The SlutWalk begins

Nykea Marie Behiel

There was a police escort for the entire march, including officers on bicycles who helped with traffic through the city.

The "Solidarity" sign gets lost among billboards with the same color. However, these signs do not actually have anything to do with the SlutWalk, but rather with one of the many union contracts that are currently under threat of strike in the province. Sort of like when Al Sharpton marched in Brooklyn, and there were some with Socialist Party signs among the crowd that had their own agenda.

Along the way, people applauded and car horns were honked in agreement. These drew large rounds of cheers from the marchers.

We passed this sign and I couldn't resist.

This sign seemed appropriate.


The march passed the statues of the city's founders, at the base of the now-closed Victoria Bridge (also known as Traffic Bridge).

The Broadway Avenue Bridge.

As the march concludes, the organizers take the stage at River Landing, led by Becca Geisler.

Guest speakers discussed the likes of what to do if abused, safe sex and safe houses.

The country group of three siblings made it through one song before the rain became too much for the open-air show.

A soggy Nykea Marie Behiel

More speakers...

When the rain started coming down hard, people took off.

Co-organizer Debbie Rye

The conclusion of the ConsentFest was a bit earlier than expected due to weather conditions, and rightfully so as the crowd was given a big thank you.