Tag Archives: Music

Geek To Geek Chic – 10 (but actually 56) Pop Culture References in Scott Pilgrim

11 Apr

The Scott Pilgrim series are one of, if not the, most favourite series of graphic novels of mine (Akira and Watchmen coming in a close second place) and I can’t believe that next year will mark ten years since the first instalment, Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life, was released. The series still captivates me, even now after reading it so many times. What is it, for me, that makes it so brilliant? That’s a hard one to answer but in a nutshell, and without spewing thousands of words on it, its pretty much that I’ve lived it, probably like so many other readers. I’ve had the giant ex that looms over a relationship, been in bands, pulled an Envy Adams-esque stunt, done the brothers thing, had an epically faithful cat, had gaming birthday parties, can name an equivalent of every character in the book in people that I know… I could, but won’t, go on. The main thing that strikes a chord the most is the number of pop culture references and the ease with which the characters use them to describe situations and feelings. Something that my friends and I have done for years, again probably like so many of you. So, in anticipation of its tenth birthday, here is a small run down of some of the pop culture references that feature in the graphic novel series. In no order of preference…

Film Title: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World

1) X-MEN
Scott has an X patch on his iconic Parker as an homage to the comic and television series, something which he has to explain to Ramona on one of their first dates. Later in book five, Scott Pilgrim Vs The Universe, Scott is seen trying to explain to Ramona the storyline in the Uncanny X-Men comic series which culminates in issue #251 in a moment where Wolverine is crucified on an X. Not that Ramona seems that interested…

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2) SEX BOB-OMB
Scott’s band, with Stephen Stills on guitar and Kim Pine on drums, is a clear reference to the explosive bomb enemies from the Mario game series and it’s not the only band in the series to have a gaming-inspired name. Scott’s High School band with Kim and their friend Lisa Miller was called Sonic and Knuckles,  his University band with Stephen and Envy Adams was named Kid Chameleon and Envy’s hipster major label group were called The Clash At Demonhead. The group’s drum logo is even a reference to the game; the symbol being a stylized ‘NO’ that appears whenever you shoot a friendly character. The band’s drummer Lynette Guycott is also named after the games skeleton boss Tom Guycott. Even local rival band Crash and The Boys were named after a game and Scott’s name suggestion, Shatterband, for Stephen Stills new group is an homage to game Shatterhand. Not that the Mario references stop with the band name. When Ramona asks Scott if they are an ‘item’, Scott’s brain response is to list items from the Mario games and when Ramona informs him about her subspace highway, the only example he can think of are the secret highways from the game series. At one point Scott is seen wearing a tanooki suit from Super Mario Bros 3.

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3) RIVER CITY RANSOM
When Scott was in High School and in order to win the heart of a teenage Kim Pine, he had to defeat a whole school of bullies and the ‘boss’ (Kim’s then boyfriend) in a scene that played homage to side-scroller game River City Ransom. Scott’s enemies also explode into coins, much like in RCR and a load of other games. When Scott tries to remember the names of the Katayanagi twins in book five, he calls them Andy and Randy Katamari instead. Andy and Randy at the names of the ‘infamous Dragon Twins’ who turn up towards the end of River City Ransom.

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4) STREET FIGHTER
During Scott’s first battle with Ramona’s first ex Matthew Patel, Scott pulls a Street Fighter reversal whilst also hitting Patel with a SF special attack Dragon Punch. Patel’s ability to levitate and throw fireballs is also similar to SF character Dhalism. The layout at the start of Scott’s fight with Todd Ingram in Scott Pilgrim & The Infinite Sadness is reminiscent of the beginning of each fight on the Street Fighter game.

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5) BONKS ADVENTURE
O’Malley’s title pages sometimes spoof game title pages with the characters from Scott Pilgrim filling in where fit. Scott Pilgrim VS The World riffed off Bonks Adventure, Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together see’s Ramona and Scott take on Sonic The Hedgehog and Scott Pilgrim Vs The Universe referenced the game Double Dragon III. The Katayanagi Twins hurricane kick attack is also a direct attack lift from DDIII. Second book Scott Pilgrim VS The World also shares its title with The Simpsons SNES game Bart Vs The World. Whilst not a title page, book four see’s a double spread during the fight between Scott and Roxy Ritcher that directly copies the opening of NES game Ninja Gaiden. Even the midair strike between the pair is a direct panel lift.

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6) MUSIC
Scott teaches himself the bassline to Final Fantasy 2 to show off to his band mates, not that any of them seem interested. Similarly, Ramona doesn’t seem all that interested when Scott quotes As Long As You Love Me by the Backstreet Boys to her to explain his love in Scott Pilgrim VS The Universe. One of Sex Bob-Ombs songs is called Launchpad McQuack, named after a character from the Ducktales television series and SNES game. The Smashing Pumpkins also get their fair share of references. Not only does Scott wear their iconic SP t-shirt during the book, he dons their zero t-shirt. The title of the third book is a direct homage to their album Mellon Collie & The Infinite Sadness, whilst chapter sixteen in the series is titled Frail and Bedazzled after one of their songs. The main stage at The Chaos Theater in the final book Scott’s Finest Hour is a reference to Daft Punk’s pyramid stage. Scott is named after a song by the band Plumtree, Stephen is named after musician Stephen Arthur Stills and Young Neil is named after… Neil Young.

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7) PARAPPA THE RAPPER
Scott utters Parappa’s immortal line ‘I gotta believe!’ to himself during a realisation and he’s not the only one to speak lines from games in conversation. When Knives Chau grazes Ramona’s face she responds with the line ‘You fight like a cow’, a line from the Monkey Island series of games. Scott also shouts another Monkey Island line at roommate Wallace Wells to try to insult him; ‘I am rubber, you are glue!’.

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8) CHARACTER TRAITS
Scott’s younger sister Stacey is rated ‘T for Teen’ in her introduction, one of the ratings established by the ESRB. When Scott defeats Ramona fourth ex Roxy, she explodes into cute fluffy animals like Dr Robotnik from Sonic The Hedgehog. Envy Adams is referred to as ‘she who will not be named’, a direct reference to Harry Potter villain Voldemort. Evil ex number two Lucas Lee is a skateboarder and his moves and their layout in the book are modelled on the Tony Hawk videogame series. So much so that Scott wants to train to defeat Lucas by playing the game itself. His name is even a direct reference to Jason Lee, a pro-skateboarder turned actor, like… Lucas Lee. Scott wishes he could morph into a ball and roll around instead of having to get up in a direct reference to the ability from the game Metroid. Much to everyone’s surprise, Scott gives Ramona the nickname ‘Rammy’, who just happens to be a character from the game Um Jammer Lammy. Clash At Demonhead drummer Lynette has a bionic arm that directly riffs off the game Bionic Commando. Scott’s attempts to get Ramona’s cat Gideon to come back is a direct reference to Breakfast At Tiffanys, just as his name of Gideon is a reference to the cat with the same name in Pinocchio. In book one, Ramona wears shoes that are an exact copy of those worn by Mr. Silly in Mr. Men.

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9) THE LEGEND OF ZELDA
Scott has to face a doppelgänger of himself, Nega Scott, much like the character of Dark Link, a double of main character Link, in The Legend of Zelda. Final ex Gideon Gordon Graves wears a t-shirt that resembles the inverted Triforce logo from the game The Legend of Zelda. Scott has a dream in which he aimlessly wonders around a forest looking for a cheat code which is a direct reference to the maze-like forests of the game.

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10) AKIRA
Ramona’s third ex Todd Ingram is related to Tetsuo, the main character from epic manga Akira numerous times. Like Tetsuo, Todd was taken to a lab in his teens for testing and returns home with bandages wrapped around his head. During his fight with Scott in Honest Ed’s, Todd screams the line ‘Its my brain! What have you done?!’, a quote from Tetsuo. In a ‘display’ of his love for Ramona, Todd punches a hole in the moon, and then does the same for Envy when they are together. This is a direct reference to the two holes in the moon that Tetsuo punches on behalf of Akira to show his followers his powers. Ramona takes it further by stating that after Todd punched the moon the first time, about fifty pages of tidal waves and explosions happened, which is exactly what happens in the manga.

‘Beyond Your Average Remake – Modernising the Guys and Dolls’ by Paul Davis

3 Mar

Lydia and I have often had conversations broaching the idea of recasting movies we adore on a strictly ‘if you had to’ basis, and Beyond the Valley of the Dolls is one that’s come up often due to the large ensemble cast. Made in 1970, BtVotD’s (as it shall be referred to from here out) tells the story of an all female rock group and their misadventures in being ‘discovered’ in Hollywood at the tail end of the ‘free-love’ era. The film was auteur Russ Meyer’s first studio production in a two-picture deal with 20th Century Fox. Originally planned as a sequel to Fox’s 1967 hit Valley of the Dolls, the film was forced to distance itself from Mark Robson’s picture after author Jacqueline Susann was appalled by the prospect of a ‘soft-core porn’ director making a sequel to her original story. This, and an X-Rating courtesy of the MPAA, did not stop the film’s pulling power at the box office, however, grossing nearly ten-times it’s $900,000 budget upon it’s release. To this day, according to screenwriter Roger Ebert, BtVotD has grossed over $40 million in theatrical and video sales to date.

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I learned a long time ago that nothing in Hollywood is sacred. If there is money to be made with a remake, then you bet it will get made. When I think of BtVotD however, I can’t imagine it ever being remade. The original was so completely outrageous that I think even if it didn’t exist, it wouldn’t be made today. That itself made the ‘fictional’ task of re-casting the movie for a modern remake problematic for me. Not only do I hold the film very dear to me, but also I just can’t see it ever happening. For me this is like being asked to re-cast Twin Peaks. You just couldn’t do it. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not citing BtVotD as Citizen Kane here; far from it. The performances are very hit and miss at best and I’ve never been a huge fan of Russ Meyer’s editing technique. However, I don’t think it is unreasonable to suggest that no other movie exists that can compare to BtVotD. As a motion picture it is a wholly unique experience – which is something I can only say of maybe a half-dozen movies. It’s a musical, comedy, horror, drama, thriller! All it needs is some aliens and an animated sequence and you’ve nearly got all bases covered. How many movies can you name that tick as many boxes? Above and beyond all of this, the film is remarkably entertaining. Despite the pitfalls and dangers that come with fame and excess lifestyle the characters soon become entangled in, I still gaze upon the ‘fantasy’ Hollywood and almost cartoon-like characters as created by Russ Meyer and Roger Ebert with envious eyes.

All that said, it has still been my task to cast a fictional remake of the film. So with a gun to my head, here are my casting choices, were I to direct Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.

Kelly Mac Namara (Dolly Reed) – Isla Fisher

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Isla Fisher has that perfect blend of girl next door with a dash of firecracker to make Kelly work in a modern remake. Plus, I can easily see her as the lead vocalist of the Carrie Nations. It wouldn’t be her voice of course, for that I’d hire Florence Welch.

Casey Anderson (Cynthia Myers) – Jennifer Lawrence

casey

Like Cynthia Myers, Lawrence oozes sex appeal without having to do or say very much at all – this is pretty much the essence of Casey. Her failure to adapt to the excess lifestyle makes her the ‘tortured soul’ of the group – something I think Jennifer Lawrence would own, given her God-given acting ability.

Petronella Danforth (Marcia McBroom) – Rosario Dawson

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I’m a huge Rosario Dawson fan and loved her in everything I’ve seen her in. She has the looks, the attitude and the style to bring Pet to the 21st century. She would be my Russ Meyer/Quentin Tarantino nod for the film.

 Ronnie ‘Z-Man’ Barzell (John Lazar) – Cillian Murphy

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This was a bit of a no brainer for me, and perhaps the easiest to cast. Now, I don’t take John LaZar’s performance as Ronnie ‘Z-Man’ Barzell lightly, as he’s without a doubt my favourite character, but I just can’t see ANYONE else in today’s talent pool delivering the line “You will drink the black sperm of my vengeance!” better than Cillian Murphy. Plus, I think he’d really enjoy calling someone a ‘buggery knave’.

Lance Rocke (Michael Blodgett) – Dolph Ziggler

lance

Here is my wild card casting for the film. For those unfamiliar, Dolph Ziggler (real name Nick Nemeth) is a professional wrestler for World Wrestling Entertainment. Those who ARE familiar will get exactly why I’ve cast him. The character of Lance Rocke is pretty much the character of Dolph Ziggler. He not only has the looks and the body to carry out the role, but the calibre of performances Ziggler delivers on Monday Night Raw every week are no further a stretch than that played by Michael Blodgett in original movie. Except for the gold digging part. Not much of that in pro-wrestling.

Harris Allsworth (David Gurian) – James McAvoy

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James McEvoy has an annoying quality of being instantly likeable in whatever role he’s in. What’s interesting about the idea of him playing Harris is that his character seesaws throughout the story – we like him, we hate him and then BAM! He can miraculously walk again and we all cheer. I’d love to see McEvoy handle this type of character.

Ashley St. Ives (Edy Williams) – Christina Hendricks

ashley

Christina Hendricks is THE quintessential ‘Meyer girl’ for the movie and who better than her to fill the crocheted dress of Ashley St. Ives? Who wouldn’t pay good money to see Hendricks as a hyper-sexed porn star? Mad men, I tell you. MAD MEN! *Sorry!

Roxanne (Erica Gavin) – Liv Tyler

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This casting was based solely on who I could see paired up with Jennifer Lawrence in the more intimate scenes between Roxanne and Casey. After a couple of Empire Records flashbacks, I settled on Liv Tyler. She has a very sultry and almost tender nature that would be key to the seduction of Casey. I think the chemistry between her and Lawrence would be off the chart.

Susan Lake (Phyllis Davis) – Sherylin Fenn

susan

Who didn’t fall in love with Audrey Horne in Twin Peaks? Raise your hands… I see no raised hands. Point proven. This one is a bit of indulgence casting. I was on a bit of a Peaks revival while writing this and well… Fenn could do this role with her eyes closed. Although I wouldn’t ask her to do the role with her eyes closed. That’d just be weird.

Emerson Thorne (Harrison Page) – Columbus Short

emerson

Naturally if I was doing this in the mid-90s, the role would have gone to Alfonso Ribero, but now that he’s older, I just picked someone I figured could A) tame a rock n’ roll Rosario Dawson and B) convincingly not stand a fucking chance of winning a fight against Randy Black – although when you see who I cast as him, that pretty much could have been anyone…

Porter Hall (Duncan McLeod – Bill Murray

porter hall

It’s Bill fucking Murray. End of discussion.

Randy Black (James Iglehart) – Terry Crews

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At first I considered another wrestler for this role –even changing the character to a professional wrestler rather than a heavyweight boxer (Randy Black being based on Mohammed Ali). Then it dawned on me that this guy, in this day and age would be a cage fighter and the body that Terry Crews is rocking, hell, you’d believe he could beat up the Moon! Not really a difficult decision here. With Crews’ dynamic personality to boot, he’d own the role of Randy Black.

Baxter Wolfe (Charles Napier) – Kurt Russell

baxter

Despite the fact that I love Kurt Russell and want to see him in more stuff, I’m going with the Meyer ‘square-jaw’ trait on this one. Kurt Russell is a man’s man. And if anyone was going to step into the boots of Charles Napier, it’d be Snake Plissken… Or R.J. MacReady… Or Jack Burton… Or Stuntman Mike… Or Dean Proffitt.

Otto (Henry Rowland) – Udo Kier

otto

Seriously, who the fuck else?

Paul Davis is a writer and filmmaker from London. His short film Him Indoors starring Reece Shearsmith and Pollyanna McIntosh is finally available to watch online and his next short The Body is currently in production.

MEYER MONTH – Top Ten Meyer Homages V.2

2 Mar

#10 – LADY GAGA – TELEPHONE (MUSIC VIDEO)
Whilst Gagaliscious’s video owes more to women in prison films than the sexploitation genre per se, there’s no denying the visual influence of Tura Satana’s Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! character Varla on Beyonce’s attitude and costume design.

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#9 – SCOTT PILGRIM VS THE WORLD (2010)
Putting all other references aside, director Edgar Wright includes one nice little reference to Meyer’s Beyond the Valley of the Dolls in his 2010 feature. When Lucas Lee (Chris Evans) cracks his neck we hear the musical signature of Universal Pictures, the studio that made his picture, just like when Z-Man beheads Lance Rock and we hear the Fox Studio fanfare, the studio that made Meyer’s first studio release.

#8 – NRA – SHE’S DRIVING (MUSIC VIDEO)
This cool little song not only visually pays respect to Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! but lyrically too.

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#7 – THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW (1975)
Not quite an homage but Rocky Horror shares a very similar dinner table scene to Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! Both scenes include a dimwitted muscular blonde who continues to eat meat at an awkward dinner  party after a revelation has disturbed all else at the table.

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#6 – SCOOBY-DOO! MYSTERY INCORPORATED – IN FEAR OF THE PHANTOM (2010)
The recent episode of this popular television show includes the manager of a band who looks a lot like Z-Man, the manager of the girl band The Carrie Nations, in Beyond the Valley of the Dolls.

#5 – FROM DUSK TIL DAWN (1996)
So vampires never appeared in a Russ Meyer film but From Dusk til Dawn features a similar bar, stripper and ensuing madness to the one shown in Up!

Norah Jones Mudhoney

#4 – NORAH JONES – LITTLE BROKEN HEARTS
In a visual homage to the poster for Mudhoney, the album cover for Norah Jones’ Little Broken Hearts is almost a replica.

#3 – BENNY BENASSI – SATISFACTION (MUSIC VIDEO)
Girls with big boobs and lots of cleavage? Check. Power tools that clearly stand in for sex? Check. Monotonous narration full of double entendre? Check. It’s as if Russ Meyer took his core elements of Mondo Topless and made a music video.

#2 – WHITE OF THE EYE (1987)
White of  the Eye shares a fair amount with Supervixens. Aside from the beautiful lush locations of both, you have a girl unknowingly bedding a serial killer, a serial killer targeting women, an attempt to kill someone at the top of a rocky area and lovers being chased in an attempt to murder them.

#1 – STAR AND DAGGER – YOUR MAMA WAS A GRIFTER (MUSIC VIDEO)
The music video for Your Mama Was A Grifter by Star and Dagger has Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! written all over it. Three girls, sound waves at the start of the video, black and white photography, a Go-Go bar location, near identical costumes, a fast car, a ride out in the desert, a desert ranch… You do the maths.

‘I Think We’re Alone Now’ (2008)

31 Jan

Whilst a certain percentage of stalkers might not really come under the banner of ‘horror’, there are certainly a few that are more than a bit scary. Documentary I Think We’re Alone Now (2008) showcases two huge fans of the 1980s pop-star Tiffany, fifty year old Jeff Turner and thirty-eight year old Kelly McCormick, as they reveal just how much they love the singer.

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There are elements of the picture that certainly come across as rather scary but the overwhelming feeling that you are left with is one of sincere sadness. Jeff Turner has aspergers syndrome, has never had a girlfriend and has clearly struggled to make friends or maintain few existing relationships long enough to really last. Yet Turner is convinced that spiritually him and Tiffany have some sort of pseudo relationship and that she loves him (her Playboy shot was a ‘silent gesture of her love for him’ because she is married according to Jeff…). Turner was once arrested for trying to give Tiffany chrysanthemums and a samurai sword and was ordered to stay away from her on another occasion for three years. He also uses a radionics machine to spiritually communicate with the singer.  As we walk around his house we see stacks of magazines and cuttings related to the redhead and Turner constantly refers to her as ‘his close friend’. The truth is he isn’t and its very easy to see why a seventeen year old Tiffany would have been scared shitless of him in the late 80s. Whilst it is very hard to completely empathise with a scenario that you really do not know anything about, it does seem that the media has sensationalized and labelled Turner as a stalker in somewhat of a derogatory way. Whilst he does seem very obsessive (and one can understand why you’d be a bit terrified if someone you didn’t know showed up out of nowhere to give you a sword whilst professing their love for you), he does come across as nothing more than a big softie – an honest fan that happens to know a lot. During the documentary itself we see the singer give him a lot of time, something the director Sean Donnelly feels Tiffany may have come to peace with the older she has become.

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Stalker number two, Kelly McCormick, is a different kettle of fish altogether. Someone who identifies herself as intersex (although would seem to be a woman trapped in a man’s body as opposed to having some form of hermaphrodism) and has clearly faced many difficulties in her life. McCormick isn’t just a fan, she is in love with Tiffany and believes they are destined to be together. What makes her all the more of an interesting case is that she is mentally and emotionally unstable (she refers to it as a form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, she was involved in an accident which left her in a coma and felt she was visited by Tiffany herself which led to her waking up) and far more psychosexually and emotionally involved with her Tiffany obsession than Turner. McCormick appears more than unhinged on a few occasions and I feel that this is where some claims of  exploitation of the director’s part arise from. Whilst one can understand why people might view it that way, I think Kelly’s behaviour, at times, speaks for itself and she probably doesn’t do herself any justice in her behaviour and beliefs. That said, one can’t help but feel like she shouldn’t be a part of a documentary with this sort of focus, rather seeking help or being helped in a more proactive way.

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Creepy feelings aside, I Think We’re Alone Now is a great portrait of just how much some people can really touch our lives and make a difference in way’s that they might not expect. Whilst serious stalkers are dangerous, it’s not hard to admire the fact both McCormick and Turner have stayed such loyal fans for so long in an industry that is incredibly fickle at times. Without fans, where would many people in this world really be….?

Geek To Geek Chic – Film Inkorporated

12 Aug

My latest dilemma happens to be one of my most vain; trying to sort out my next tattoo. Now, I know they’re not everyone’s cup of tea but I have been a lover of body ink since I were a child, much to the dismay of my father… I’m always looking at other people’s, admiring the artwork of the tattooist (when it’s a good obviously) and being intrigued as to the story’s or reason behind people’s choices. I have always known I was going to get one, it has been an inevitability that I, Lydia, would one day turn up at home and go ‘Hey Ma, look what I got!’. And I have, five times so far. To varying reactions.

So my recent problem, if you can call it, has been planning number six. Question number one, where to put it? The older I get, the more I start thinking about this one more seriously. I have always wanted sleeves, I haven’t got there yet but know that some people like to attach a slight amount of stigma to arm tattoos on show in the workplace. So that’s arms out of the equation for now. I’d always thought about my feet, until it hit me that Quentin Tarantino may not like tattooed feet and if I ever wanted my dream of a foot rub from him to come true, my best bet would be to leave them clear. So that’s no feet. Ever. Wrists, calves, thighs, back of my neck? Maybe. My back? Potentially. Although that’s another dilemma in itself. I think my back is kinda sexy (hey, we all need to have something we like about ourselves right?!) but there’s also this huge, beautiful tattoo of a frigate ship that I’ve wanted since I was eighteen that would fit perfectly in the centre of my back above two swallows I already have (what can I say, I love nautical tattoos…). But enough of that problem, unlike some women, I can’t multi task. Then there’s the issue of symmetry. Right now, everything is sort of symmetrical and my ex always used to moan that I should keep it that way because it looked nice. Then again, he was a lying cheat. Fuck symmetry (and for that matter people who take pride in telling others that ink makes them look ugly, everyone is different and beautiful in their own way, okay).

Putting the location aside, the next thing has been what the hell to get! When I was a teen, I’d always pictured myself with tonnes of film and music tattoos, Tim Burton iconography mixed together with artwork from Rancid and Deftones album covers. Luckily for me, times really do change. I still love Rancid as a band, did get Deftones album artwork tattooed a few years ago and, praise the Lord, the idea I had for a Nightmare Before Christmas sleeve has firmly been washed down the drain (I blush with embarrassment still thinking about it). Eventually film overtook my love for music, and film related tattoos have always been something I’d thought about, a way to celebrate and show my love for the medium. But how? Being a huge sexploitation and Russ Meyer fan I’ve often thought about getting a beautiful pin-up done but, sometimes, they don’t always come out looking beautiful if you know what I mean… Which is why I went and got Stuntman Mike’s car logo from Death Proof tattooed on my ankle instead. As a fan of slasher films (which the film essentially is), Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (which Death Proof homages the shit out of) and skull and crossbones, it was the best fit.

Which got me thinking, why don’t I just turn my right calf (over time) into a horror leg of sorts. Not only would it provides hours of entertainment in watching my father groan about how disgusting it is (the Death Proof tattoo went down very well…) but would really encompass everything I’d always loved about tattoos; beauty, personality, individuality and artwork. Which is why I’m now getting a gorgeous, bleeding zombie forearm inked on the other side of my ankle. The fact that it was designed by legendary film poster artist Graham Humphreys, someone we know, for a film that involves other people we know, just makes it that little bit more personal. Excited doesn’t even begin to describe it. And who knows where I’ll go from there. I’ve always wanted a Creature from the Black Lagoon pin-up and the odd panel or so from the Scott Pilgrim books… One thing I know for sure is this, Jack Skellington ain’t setting a single bone near my skin.

MEYER MONTH – Top Ten Meyer Homages

22 Mar

#10 – PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE  (1974)
So not a homage or direct reference but similarity and sort of brotherhood, Phantom of the Paradise and Beyond the Valley of the Dolls have two of the best film soundtracks of the 1970s, if  not the entire history of film. Brian De Palma’s 1974 release also features a scene in which a bevy of beautiful ladies (and one man) are are lying on top or around each other on a circular bed, draped in underwear just like the promotional shots for Meyer’s Beyond. Both also happen to have a singer taken under the wing of a big music producer…

#9 – AMAZON WOMEN ON THE MOON (1987)
Okay, so maybe not a reference so much as a cameo, but this top ten wouldn’t be complete without Meyer’s fifteen seconds in the 80s comedy anthology Amazon Women on the Moon in which he plays a video rental store owner trying to persuade a guy to rent a video date VHS. With a giant Supervixens poster visible in the background, one can only imagine some of the X-rated wonders Meyer would have had in his video store if he’d owned one. Well, we can wonder because we know there wouldn’t be any hardcore and everyone would have big boobs…


#8 – SPICE GIRLS – SAY YOU’LL BE THERE (MUSIC VIDEO)
As much as a lot of us probably don’t want to admit it, the Spice Girls music video for Say You’ll Be There has plenty of Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! lashings on its back. The desert, girls chasing boys, leather, fast cars, costume aesthetic, girl power. Whilst I admit that I learnt more about feminism from Meyer than this band of half wits, this has a more deserving place in a top ten than Lady Gaga’s Telephone which owes FAR more to the women in prison genre.

#7 – THE DOUBLE D AVENGER (2001)
If Russ Meyer were to do a superhero movie, it would probably have gone something like The Double D Avenger. The only film which has a ‘reunion’ of-sorts of Meyer stars Kitten Natividad, Raven De La Croix and Haji, the picture see’s an incredibly busty woman fight crime with her breasts. Laced with tonnes of exaggerated cleavage, incredibly bad lines and a scene involving giving a plant/banana a blow job, I have no doubt in my mind that had Meyer been asked to keep doing films in his later years, he would have churned out something like this. In an incredibly polite way, it isn’t worth checking out.

#6 – SLEEPAWAY CAMP (1983)
At the end of the film we find out the killer has gender issues. No Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, no Sleepaway Camp.


#5 – SUPERVIXENS (1975)

It’s well known that Meyer liked to reference his own work and one of the instances of this is his reference in 1975’s Supervixens of the snake bite scene from earlier release Motorpsycho (1965). After being bitten by a rattlesnake out in the desert, the bitten men then shout at their female companions to ‘suck out’ the poison. With lots of emphasis on the ‘sucking’ part. Not that you’d expect anything less from the director of sleaze…

#4 – SCOTT PILGRIM VS THE WORLD (2010)
A small town band of three members find their way into a music scene run by a hot shot producer who drives a wedge between each member and crushes their dreams of stardom, the film’s soundtrack is music by the said fictional band, the band’s biggest fan starts out being their friend before being ostracised and returning for the final battle at the end of the picture, the lead girl gets led astray by the record producer, there are parties and gigs. Yep, its pretty much Beyond the Valley of the Dolls without the murderous ending. Although the producer does die at the end…

#3 – GRINDHOUSE (2007)
Both films in Grindhouse riff off Meyer’s masterpiece Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!. Rodriguez’s opening to Planet Terror is an inverted copy of the go-go club opening of FPKK. Instead of hypersexual, gyrating women dancing to salivating, screaming men, Rose McGowan’s character pole dances to a barely packed room and cries tears of unhappiness at the end of her routine. Tarantino’s effort Death Proof is a more obvious love letter to the feature, taking the cars, the women and the attitude and putting them all back on the big screen to kick some sweet butt!


#2 – PERVERT! (2006)
A film which has a stupid amount of Meyer references, so much so that your stick will be snapping after ten minutes of shaking, Pervert! is a perfect example of how to take the grindhouse/sexploitation genre tone/feel and play it out right. Boobs, porn stars, fast cars, desert ranches, hypersexual women, familial bed swapping, dinners filled with innuendo, yes, it’s all there. If you like Meyer, chances are you’ll love this.


#1 – THE PIPETTES – PULL SHAPES (MUSIC VIDEO)
One of the best homages to Meyer’s work, the music video for The Pipettes single Pull Shapes riffs Z-Man’s party scene in Beyond the Valley of the Dolls. Introduced exactly like The Carrie Nations, the band have got all the points in the scene down to a T, starting off with a backing group that are wearing similar clothes to The Strawberry Alarm Clock in Meyer’s feature. All the major characters are there; The Pipettes playing The Carrie Nations role, the Harris-esque boyfriend/manager, a Z-Man type party host, the Emerson Thorne bartender, the attention seeking Ashleigh St. Ives. Even the minor characters and bit players are referenced such as the dancing hippy, Princess Livingston’s Matron, the Nazi bar man, Z-Man’s assistant Natalie (wearing what looks like a total knock off of the gold dress actually worn in the film), Porter Hall, the girl who’s dancing naked. Top it off with a 60s sound and some great dance moves and even Meyer would be proud. Well, maybe with a little more tit action…

MEYER MONTH – Confessions of a Horny 13 Year Old Catholic Schoolboy

20 Mar

Matt Stacey talks about the first time he ever caught Russ Meyer classic Beyond the Valley of the Dolls

The name ‘Russ Meyer’ first came to me through another director, the great John Waters. I had been a fan of his since I was eleven when Hairspray, his 60s dance movie, had been released. I ate up everything Waters had to say in every television appearance and magazine interview. I can remember seeing him on The Jonathan Ross Last Resort (the talk show that started Ross’s career) and loving his pencil moustache. It was whilst on this show that Waters was asked a question. That question was ‘Who Are Your Biggest Influences?’ Amongst the names that Waters gave, the directors and films he mentioned, one stuck out in particular. Russ Meyer & Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!.

I spent many years desperate to see this film but sadly, back in the late 80s, Meyer’s work wasn’t as easy to get a hold of as it is today (being eleven years old also didn’t help…). Fast forward two years to when I was thirteen. I had my very own TV in my room (although I wasn’t supposed to watch it past eleven), and most importantly, I had an old but still working Beta Max video recorder with a pile of tapes (we had this old thing in our front room right up until 1989). I searched the TV listings every week for films. If they were on late, the video timer always came in handy. 

I’d taped all the films that got shown too late for me to watch (my parents bedroom was right next door and they had the hearing of bats). Porkies, Creepshow and Southern Comfort all come to mind as films I taped and watched over and over again. Then, one day, I saw a film advertised. Showing at 1am, on Channel 4, it wasn’t the film that interested me but the name of the director. Russ Meyer.

As soon as I could, I had the Beta Max ready. I can remember hearing the machine spring into life as I lay in the dark. I had no idea what to expect from this film. The title, Beyond the Valley of the Dolls, sounded pretty stupid to me but if Waters liked this stuff then I’d give it a go. The next day was a school day so the viewing would have to wait until later. I got home, went straight to my room, played the film, and became a life long lover and fan of all things Meyer. 

I loved everything about it. The tragic plot of an all female rock band and their manager coming to the big city, their eyes filled with hopes of fame and stardom, only to be used and abused, finding only betrayal and heartbreak, was both moving and thrilling (I could go into the plot in more detail but I’d hate to spoil it for anyone). But, for me at least, it was the other elements that made this film. The awesome music, the groovy parties, the ending and, of course, what I would find to be the Meyer stable. A bounty of beautiful and sexy big breasted babes! Oh! The women!! (remember I was thirteen at the time and attending a Catholic school, I didn’t get to see stuff like this very often!).

I lapped up this camp, sexy melodrama with gusto and made it a mission to seek other Meyer’s flicks. The reach of this film has been far. You only have to watch a mainstream film like Austin Powers to see that (the line that Austin says during the party scene at the start of the film, “It’s my happening and it freaks me out” is directly lifted from a scene in Beyond). Watch it and enjoy the wild craziness of it, the swinging 60s feel of it and the sad tale of money, fame and far too many drugs. I love this film! It’s not my favourite Meyer film (that goes to Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!, which I finally got to see a few years later), but it’s an easy 8 boobs out of 10!!