Film & Television Series SkeletonPete Says

Blood On Satan’s Claw

What a pre-All Hallow’s Eve treat. The newest issue of Little Shoppe of Horrors, Dick Klemensen’s Anglo-centric horror film fanzine, arrived in my mail box this afternoon. I’ve been waiting for this issue with some anticipation since it was first announced that its focus would be “Blood On Satan’s Claw” (1971). LSoH is noted for their in depth coverage and loving attention to detail (bordering on obsession) that often produces the definitive texts on their chosen subjects. Though their output is low (25 issues in 40 years) it is always worth the wait and the issues are packed with interviews and information found nowhere else. In preparation for settling down and reading this volume of forgotten lore, I decided to unearth my musty VHS copy of BoSC (Paragon, circa 1982) and give it a fresh look.

Of the small group of period horror genre flix that came out of England in the early 1970’s “Blood On Satan’s Claw” happens to be my favorite. The plot follows the happenstance of a young farmer who inadvertently plows up a piece of the dark lord and triggers a chain reaction as the teenagers of the village “harvest” Satan’s skin from those it begins to grow on in order to reconstitute their evil master. While not as brutally sadistic as Michael Reeve’s “Witchfinder General” (AKA “The Conqueror Worm”) 1968, the malevolent glee which the youngsters exhibit as they carry out their duty is quite unnerving. The young cast gives really effective performances, sometimes with only a knowing glint in the eye, or an evil smirk.

Whereas the similarly pastoral “The Wicker Man” (1973) portrays a cat and mouse game of Pagan naturalism vs. Christian repression the nature of BoSC’s sexuality is the perversion of teenage curiosity into heightened morbidity. Linda Hayden plays central baddie Angel Blake and pulls off the portrayal with an amazing balance of subtle guile and flame eyed hysteria. While Angel’s attempted seduction of the local minister is probably the most talked about scene in the film (at least in fanboy circles) it is the ritualized rape/murder of character Cathy Vespers (Wendy Padbury) that is most alarming. Her bewilderment that the “game” she participates in with her young friends has gone terribly wrong is palpable. In other word’s this ain’t the “Twilight Saga”. It’s more like “Spring Awakenings” – with rusty garden shears.

There are lots of wonderful character faces here, particulary Howard Goorney as the doctor, and director Piers Haggard utilizes them to great effect. They often peer down the lens at you bringing to mind Carl Theodor Dreyer’s “Passion of Joan of Arc” or “Vampyr” (1928). I love the punky teen who looks like a cross between Michael J. Pollard and Butch from “The Little Rascals”.

While some of the Hammer period films present sets that often feel too well kept (kind of like those clean Western streets of “Bonanza”), the pastoral setting and interiors of BoSC are well executed with the feel that someone took a handful of sod and tossed it at a Vermeer. The crow image underneath the main titles always reminds me of the cover of the first Black Sabbath album.

Marc Wilkinson’s score is superbly creepy and memorable (especially the opening title motif) and stands on its own as a listening experience, though some of the cues are quite short. I was thrilled to find I could stream it on MOG and have been listening as I write this piece.

Little Shoppe of Horrors #25 is available here, as are all back issues of the fanzine – some original, some reprint. If you have any interest at all in Hammer, Amicus, Tigon films they are worth your consideration. Klemensen is also taking orders for the two volume “Last Bus To Bray” a compendium of information on unrealized projects by the Hammer Films company.

Music Photography

Yo La Tengo @ Bklyn Bowl MOG CMJ Event (Oct. 19, 2010)

Brooklyn Bowl, yo la tengo, cmi, mol

James, Georgia and Ira kicked off the 2010 CMJ Marathon at MOG’s Brooklyn Bowl blow out. Only the second bowling alley gig of their career, they played to an audience of appreciative fans while folks on the alleys threw “Jersey-side” strikes in their honor.

They dumped a Farfisa in front of me but I got some nice shots anyhow. Hope you dig them.

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Music Photography

Screaming Females @ MOG Music Network Event (October 19, 2010)

screaming females, Brooklyn Bowl, college music journal, cmi

I never to miss an opening act. I learned that lesson on my first concert adventure in June of 1971 at The Fillmore East. I attended a show by headliners Bloodrock. Bloodrock you might not remember unless you’re my vintage and even then probably for one radio hit, the dirgy “DOA”. Opening for them was a scraggly batch of Arizonans who were in the process of interpreting bits of the guignol and inventing horror rock. They were called Alice Cooper (as in the band, not the man). You get the point.

Once again – just this week at MOG’s CMJ event – I was blown away by a great opening band, Screaming Females. Screaming Females are in reality one screaming female, Marissa Paternoster, who lets her guitar do most of the screaming. Michael Abbate is on Bass and Jarrett Dougherty is the drummer.

It’s about big chunky distorted riffs you’ll actually remember, sleek not ploddy, punky vox with an interesting vibrato, nimble guitar solos that are integral to their songs melodic structures. Their CMJ set featured a healthy helping of tunes from their newest album. It’s called “Castle Talk” and it was released just weeks ago on Don Giovanni Records. I bought a copy at the merch table and have been enjoying their other albums on MOG the past few days.

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Amped Up for MOG @ CMJ Brooklyn Bowl Event (October 19, 2010)

I’m already a big fan of MOG, so it was a treat to be invited to a special CMJ show sponsored by the music subscription service. The event was held at Brooklyn Bowl and featured The Screaming Females, DOM and much loved Yo La Tengo.

Though MOG began as an online social network to help music fans share their likes and discoveries it has in the past year expanded into a full fledged music delivery system. For the nominal fee of $5.00 a month ($10 to be mobile) you have legal access to the continuously growing ocean of music on their servers These are not 30 second snippets from which you must choose to purchase, this is fully streamed tunes and albums.

As an inveterate collector, people have been surprised to hear me espousing the virtues of a subscription routine as my current source of music. I can only say that though I still have love of the “objects” of music delivery (LP’s, Cassettes, CD’s, 45rpm’s, even 8-Tracks) one issue arises after years of collecting – space. MOG comes along at just the time I have to ask the question “Where would I put the fruits of 50 years of collecting music if the physical collection continues to grow?”

What I find most rewarding about the MOG site is the ability to experiment to my heart’s delight. MOG effectuates its social origins to offer “moggers” playlist building and sharing options, as well as Facebook style friending of those who share similar tastes should they choose to do so. The “radio slider” on its player allows expansion of artists you’re hearing based on ID tags, therefore upping the likelihood you’ll find something new to enjoy.

Screaming Females tear it up at MOG CMJ Party

Most importantly MOG offers the mobile user the ability to download as much music as their device can fit for those instances when connection is impossible or impractical, like when I’m driving through the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel on the way to a concert. At this moment in time that is the clincher, the “cake-and-eat-it-too” feature, that makes MOG the best choice of current subscription services.

So thanks to the MOG folks for creating a way for me to continue to feed my ravenous music appetite without welcoming a visit from the producers of “Hoarders”, thanks for turning me on to the Screaming Females (a band I love today which I did not know on Monday) and thanks to Abigail of MMN for the invitation and kind greeting. Yes, we really are considering MOG 6 month starter subscriptions as Christmas presents.

Music SkeletonPete Says

Rory Gallagher: “Ghost Blues” and Bottom Line Memories

I just finished my review of the newest Rory Gallagher DVD (Eagle Vision) for PiercingMetal. It’s called “Ghost Blues” and is a documentary on Gallagher’s life, including a bonus disc loaded with live performances from Beat Club in the early 1970’s. I love it. You can read why here.

Writing this review brought back memories of seeing Rory do his thing at The Bottom Line Club back in February 1976. That was an amazing night in a small 450 seat venue and a blistering performance. I remember he came out and plugged into a small amp that was simply propped on one of the club’s even then decrepit wooden chairs. I remember the incredible runs of false harmonics he plucked and a performance of my favorite acoustic number “Out On The Western Plain”. I also vividly remember that Roger Taylor, John Deacon and Brian May of Queen were in attendance and my friend Bill and I actually managed the bravado to go up and get handshakes and autographs.

Rory was supporting his Against the Grain album that tour and I still have the ticket taped to the back of the LP. $4.50 for a night of rock n roll nirvana.