Jonas from Invisible Guy contacted me about a project he’s working on. I’m not quite the right fit for it, but I had to check out his site to see what he was all about. As his About page explains; “This blog is generally a platform for unknown bands to get promoted and interviewed.” That’s pretty awesome in itself. But as I browsed the site, I saw that in his post Invisible Guy recommends: 80s Post-Punk – 1982 (Part II) he includes not only The Birthday Party but also The Virgin Prunes. Much respect there (especially for someone who wasn’t alive when those records came out!).
But the bulk of his site is full of really obscure bands (lots of bands that I’ve never heard of). He interviews band members (sometimes in Swedish!) and has quite an impressive list of publications that he’s worked for.
So head on over to Invsible Guy for a wonderful collection of punk and hardcore music as well as some iconic (and really obscure) new wave and post-punk tunes. He’s also got some great stuff on death metal too. Not bad for a site that’s only a few months old. Invisible Guy has a lot of samples and videos as well as a bunch of streaming music from unreleased or just-released albums (like this demo from the Swedish band Regimen called Välkommen hem).
And here’s a video for the Swedish stoner metal band Skraeckoedlan. The song is “Apple Trees” and no you can’t understsnad the words because they are in Swedish. I love that.
It’s a great site.
[READ: June 15, 2012] “A Psychotronic Childhood”
The more I read Colson Whitehead, the more I like him, not just as a writer, but as a “person” (the person he presents to us anyhow. Although I met him briefly at a convention and he was super friendly and very nice). This essay shows that he and I occupied some of the same headspace when we were kids (we were born in the same year)—watching sci-fi and horror movies on Channel 7 & 11 after school and on the weekends. Of course, I didn’t really get into horror movies until much later them him (his first time was when his parents took him to a horror film in the theater at the age of 5). FIVE!
These early horror movies really shaped his outlook. He lists about 70 movies in this article, of which I have seen at least half (although more from MST3K than actually sitting through them unaccompanied) and his summaries about them (four or five parenthetical words) are apt and often hilarious:
- Food of the Gods (giant chickens rain pecking doom on a small island)
- Alien (an outbreak of tummy trouble among space miners)
- Demon Seed (rom-com about a horny computer that wants to impregnate Julie Christie)
- The Devil’s Run (A negligible and mind-numbing film, notable only for the utter ineptitude of its attempt to cash in on the brief occult-movie fad that followed Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist.
The Devil’s Run is the first movie he saw, back in 1975, in the theater. He says that there was something good in it, that it really captured the element of terror when your loved one turns on you. And he tapped into this for his novel Zone One.
Then he reflects back on 1981, when his family bought a VCR and he and his brother would head to Crazy Eddie (remember Crazy Eddie?) to rent 5 movies for the weekend (I didn’t even know they rented movies!). The movies were inevitably 4 horror movies and one mainstream film. And the family would gather by the TV and watch together. How wholesome! Except when you read what they were watching (I can’t IMAGINE my family watching these together when I was a kid–even now, Sarah hates horror films). This is getting into the era of Friday the 13ths and Halloweens as well as classics like Terror Train, Prom Night, Slumber Party Massacre, Silent Night, Evil Night, Mother’s Day and My Bloody Valentine (“not even the holidays, hallmark or otherwise were safe”).
Then he moves on to the magazine of horror films–Fangoria. I never subscribed but I knew of it. He describes it as a geek love for horror and sci-fi (articles about special effects guys!–ads for The Blood Boutique to make your own effects at home). Fangoria loved B movies. Sure “real” directors ventured into horror films too: Stanley Kubrick with The Shining, Roman Polanski with Rosemary’s Baby. But next on the list were the Masters of Horror (Fangoria loved them), like John Carpenter, George Romero, David Cronenborg (this was right around Videodrome, a movie that has haunted me for thirty years).
After Fangoria, and before the internet came Michael Weldon’s The Psychotronic Encyclopedia of Film. It started as a weekly Xerox and managed to grow to 800 pages long. It was the source for all things horror/sci-fi. And Colson devoured it (and no doubt called it the Bible, as I used to call the Golden Retriever VideoHound Guides…before the internet). While most people claim Plan 9 from Outer Space as the worst film of all time, Weldon gave the title to The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies!!? (which I have seen via MST3K). Whitehead explores the mind behind the film–Ray Dennis Steckler–an earnest 20 year old who believed he was making the first horror movie/musical. And then he compares it to his own mind when he wrote his first novel: The Intuitionist (which involved rival elevator inspectors and an elevator that delivered people to the future–which sounds awesome and which I must read).
His comparison suggests that he too was earnest and sincere, but how far from insane was he really?