Charles Milles Manson was a notorious criminal and cult leader living a commune lifestyle in the peace and love era of the 1960’s. The Mason Family was his communal cult following that squatted in the outskirts of Californian desserts and self indulged in hallucinogens. Radicalized and dangerous, Manson exploited their unwavering loyalty to his radicalizing behavior of a hippie way of life. Filmmaker John Aes-Nihil, a collector and lionizer of all things Charles Manson, shoots a recreation of the daily activities of Mason’s cult members, filmed at infamous Manson locations that gave a taste of commune life while also providing shuddering atmospheric insights of kill spots. To Aes-Nihil, Charles Manson lived and breathed through interpretation of their, so called, home movies.
Filmed between 1974 to 1979, three years after Charles Manson was convicted of first degree murder, director John Aes-Nihil filmed his rather homage-life rendition of what he calls the “Manson Family Movies.” Not released until 1984, Aes-Nihil also brings legend to fruition of a rumor that Manson and his followers filmed much of their daily rituals and societal deviancies, giving “Manson Family Movies” more stigma to the already controversial obsession the filmmaker already made mania in such a short turnaround from Manson’s conviction finale. “Manson Family Movies” is also a silent film, a rarity for a late 70’s, early 80’s that was just in an industrial transitional point of visual special effects and larger than life performances; yet Aes-Nihil’s remains silent and crudely finesses his interpretative documentary with stage play performances and badly scrawled title cards that instill an engrossing affect of internal sliminess toward the already visceral nature.
The cast consists of many unknown faces who have come and gone even before “Manson Family Movies” was first viewed by the public. Their involvement begs the question of their pride for subject matter involving the brutal stabbing murder of a pregnant woman with the senseless and, almost, toying deaths of couple as their listed names are more than likely pseudonyms, credited as if themselves were a part of a hippie commune with names like Rick the Precious Dove as Charles Manson, Krista Meth (Crystal Meth?), Porn Michael, Miss Sheila Star, and Sister Audress just to name some of the more eye-catching credits. As aforesaid, performances are choreographed indiscriminately that much of the violence goes by the waist side, but as characters go, more than most look the part with the exception of some transvestism as some actors and actresses don multiple roles in the bottom of the money barrel feature. Other dime actors included Katie Lazarus, Knarly Dana, Mr. Jacquetta, Judy, Ms Mule, Danny, Lori, Miss Head, Ms Brad, Moka, Chucky, Rusty, King Mama, and The Cosmic Ray. Seriously…
Not much is first-rate about the “Manson Family Movies” aside from a couple of exceptions: 1) Cult Epics amazing two-disc re-release that’ll be covered later and 2) the fact that Aes-Nihil constructed home like movies using what looks like 8mm negative film complete with deterioration and defects, providing a desensitizing and demoralizing halo around the heavy material. “Manson Family Movies” won’t be many audiences cup of historical tea and many folks will probably point out that this is only an interpretation of events, but was the raid on “Pearl Harbor” accurately depicted by Jerry Bruckheimer or did James Cameron give every minute detail correct in “Titanic?” I think not. Not to compare apples to oranges to blue berries, but as base observation, Aes-Nihil did what any director would have more than likely done with an influential historical moment, a little embellished reenactment no different from the stud Hollywood filmmakers.
Cult Epics’ re-release of the “Manson Family Movies” is now presented in a region free, two-disc set complete with a slip illustrated with the same composited Charlie Manson head cover art by Brian Viveros and the same disc art by Charles Manson himself from the 2005 release. The film is presented in a 4:3 aspect ratio with the black bars on either side of the frame and, as previously mentioned, the image clarity is marked by scratches, flares, and dirt. Surely, for visual stimulation. Billed a silent film, the dual channel mix of the redux and remastered score is resoundingly poignant and strangely vibrant with Charlie Manson and his Manson Family recorded music as the soundtrack. Plus, there are actually less aesthetically audio tracks from Sloppy Titty Freaks, Beyond Joy and Evil, Glen Meadmore, and some sampling of the Beatles from, you guessed it, Helter Skelter. Special features include John Aes-Nihil commentary track, outtakes with director’s commentary, last interviews with Charles Manson, the original LADP crime and morgue photos, and the second disc contains Sharon Tate’s home movies without an audio track. After watching “Manson Family Movies,” John Aes-Nihil comes to suspicion as perhaps one of Charlie’s commune followers as he depicts a chilling look into the past, through a window of ghastly sovereignty over impressionable young people, and champions a real home movie approach that makes the entire package, along with a invigoratingly haunting score, a black gem.
After years with struggling with fame, Susan finds solace in an idyllic and solitude Netherlands’ farmhouse near the waterfront. Her peaceful lodging transforms in a youth hostel as she welcomes three refuge women – Sandra, Olga, and Julie – and one man – Albert – into her life and in exchange for a place to stay, Susan embraces the company after her entanglement with loneliness. Despite Sandra and Olga’s sex-crazed psychopathy and an unhinged Albert’s voyeuristic habits, Susan has been able to maintain an even keel quality of life. That’s until the handsome Anton shows up. His arrival stirs the nest of sexual desires and has Susan questioning her reclusive lifestyle. Anton’s presence also riles up Piet, a crazed women living in a shed on the outskirts of the farmhouse. To make matters more complex, Anton becomes mixed into a murder mystery involving a dead American. Was it the mischievous sexual delinquents Sandra and Olga? Or did the wild Piet finally snap her moral conscious?
During the height of the 70’s sexual revolution, the Dutch seize the opportunity to piggyback their own free love films. Pim de la Parra’s 1978 “My Nights with Susan, Sandra, Olga, & Julie is an epitome example of the Dutch sex wave genre that shares the tantalizing groping, succulent squeezing, fornicating spooning, and …well, you get the idea. Originally titled as the longwinded My Nights with Susan, Olga, Albert, Julie, Piet, & Sandra (whew), this film is the last production of Pim de la Parra’s Scorpio Films from a script co-authored between Parra, Harry Kumel from Belgium, David Kaufman from America, Charles Gormley from Scotland, and Carel Donck from the Netherlands in a melting pot of cultural creativity. “My Nights with Susan, Sandra, Olga, & Julie” sizzles the screen with nudity in characters just walking around or riding on a child’s rocking horse stark naked that’s ostensibly organic for a story beginning with cold blooded, arbitrary murder.
Before partying the circumstantial matron of a youth hostel, Netherlands’ Willeke van Ammelrooy was Eva in “Frank & Eva,” another film by Pim de la Parra. She was also Alicia in “Blue Movie” director Wim Verstappen’s “Alicia” and also played Mira in Fons Rademakers’ “Mira.” As the evidence provides, Ammelrooy is very experienced as the leading lady role, portraying three titular characters from 1971-1974 by post-humorously acclaimed Netherland directors. Yet again, Ammelrooy plays a titular character in Susan, a country cloistered luminary seeking to be a forgotten face, but Ammelrooy steely performance of a woman pretending not to be hiding secrets is a fascinating insight into a character’s personal shielding; however, when Anton, “Wet Dreams’” Hans van der Gragt, their hot and cold dynamic creates a formidable hard love rigidity influenced by forces internal to Susan and external forces from those her immediate life at the farmhouse. Olga and Sandra have more intoxicating behaviors that run the story amok and what’s more interesting about the actresses, Franulka Heyermans and Marja de Heer, is that they’re amateur actresses according to Pim de la Parra. Cold and, yet, lively, Heyermans and Heer have mountainous ration and serve Parra genuinely. Marieke van Leeuwen, Serge-Henri Valcke, Jerry Brouer, and Nelly Frijda round out the small cast.
Pim de la Parra’s influences stem heavily from Alfred Hitchcock. The filmmaker implements voyeurism and the wrongfully accused that are essential to the Hitchcockian style. I also find it hard to believe that on the first day of shooting on Hitchcock’s birthday, August 13, that Pim de la Parra’s first scenes are that of birds on a beach. Coincidence or a little salute to the master of suspense, either way, the now retired filmmaker unifies a harrowing score with birds and a beach to not only by respects to Hitchcock, but also sets the tone of the film of an erotic thriller with blotches of dark comedy strewn in.
Cult Epics proudly releases “My Nights with Susan, Sandra, Olga, & Julie” onto a new high definition two-disc Blu-ray/DVD combo set. Presented in a widescreen, 2.35:1 aspect ratio, in a 1080p transfer from the original 35mm print, preserved by the Eye Film Institute in Amsterdam. The original print is nearly pristine with a palatable amount of stock grain and with only a minor amount of film wear. No observations of border enhancing or sharpening that would dilute the bona fide quality. The Dutch DTS-HD 2.0 Master Audio track nicely accompaniments the film with depth and range and the Dutch dialogue upfront and present and the very Hitchcock-esque soundtrack by Elisabeth Lutyens (“The Skull”) provided a perfect suspense drive score in her last composer post. Supplements includes an introduction by Pim de la Parra, poster and photo video gallery, Scorpio Films’ shorts that includes “Heart Beat Fresco,” “Joop,” and “Joop Strikes Again,” and Scorpio Films’ theatrical trailers. Cult Epic’s region 1 DVD and the all region Blu-ray release favors another Dutch sex wave cinema flavor with just modernization of an intertwinement of erotically charged lust and lives with repulsive and deadly temperaments and with Pim de la Parra at the helm, you’re going to get primo framing and angles sure to captivate.
After spending five years in incarceration for being convicted of having sexual relations with a 15-year-old girl, the now 25-year-old Michael has been released and is in the hands of a parole officer, Eddie. Eddie arranges housing for Michael in an apartment block, providing some pocket cash and job prospects to get the reserved demeanor parolee back on his feet and reintegrate him back into society that has radically changed in his favor in half a decade. Though having these advantages at his fingertips to start a new life, non-violent sexual urges still race through Michael’s blood and Eddie has nested him right smack in the middle of many young women with hefty promiscuous appetites. Michael must try to keep up the tiresome façade of clean living when Eddie’s sudden pops up as he continues his sexual escapades through the likes of married women, threesomes, and kinky block flat neighbors.
Viva la revolucion! Or should I say, “Lang leve de revolutie” in this censor ban breaking Dutch sex-comedy, “Blue Movie,” from breakthrough writer-director Wim Verstappen alongside cowriter Charles Gormley. Verstappen and Gormley’s experience on the 1971 feature forms a long time collaboration through an immense body of work of films in the 1970’s including “Dakota,” “Alicia,” and “Don’t Worry Too Much.” Masked an adult romance, “Blue Movie” exploits sex to be the symbolism of choice when exhibiting the Netherlands antiquated view on censorship that bogged down their local film industry and led a bold, new Dutch filmmaking expanse that goes onto dismantling the Dutch Censorship board.
Michael is a cool cucumber, who just step one foot free out of prison. On parole and looking to restart his life again from the generous assistance by a parole-like officer, Michael is set up an a apartment block with a view of the land, but the ex-con looks inward, at his neighbors, his beautiful, succulent, and promiscuous flat mates that hone in the fresh meat. Hugo Metsers captures Micheal’s essence, a gentle ex-con, even when Metsers’ sporting thick, under-jowl mutton chops. Then there’s Eddie, whose in a parole officer type position, yet tries eagerly to be puritanical guardian angel on Michael’s sordid shoulder. Seemingly part of some foundation that helps ex-cons get back on their feet, as I assume this to be a Netherlands’ societal reform program of sorts, Eddie solicits his steer clear and keep your nose clean advice, randomly checks in at all times of the day, and even makes furniture purchases for Michael’s bare flat. Eddie’s nose is so intrusive, he oversteps his position in an attempt to sweet talk a building tenant on Michael’s behalf, right out outside the parolee’s flat door. Helmert Woudenberg, another actor in Wim Verstappen’s cache of talent, does annoyingly helpful well. Woudenberg, who later had a role in Dick Maas’s “Amsterdamned,” portrays Eddie’s antiquated beliefs on Netherlands sex culture with such poised conviction that the character does feel like a lonely satellite cut off from progressing mothership. The women characters are extremely important in Blue Movie because they’re key to Michael’s motivation to not be only rooster in the hen house but to help him find actual love and while not one actress plays opposite to Michael, Ine Veen’s Julia stands out as the pivotal moment in Michael’s stagnant and sleazy stint. Julia is beautiful and coy as she’s casually noted to Michael upon their first exchange that she rather listen than to talk, but Julia comes with baggage – a child. The only child in Verstappen’s film is the main obstacle in Michael’s conquering of the opposite sex in the entire apartment block. He even backs out of a date with Julia upon seeing her tending to the child’s need first, transferring his needs into being very brash and childlike, but once Michael sustains and profits from his transient lifestyle, an obvious void is left unfulfilled until Julia strolls back into his life. Veen’s blue eyes are striking and could be theorized why this movie is titled “Blue Movie” as she’s truly the object of his affection. Ursula Blauth (“Sex is Not for Virgins”), Kees Brusse, Carry Tefsen (“Diary of a Hooker”), Marijke Boonstra (“Obsessions”), Monique Smal, and Mimi Kok from “De mantel del Liefe” costar.
While Verstappen’s film was an influential piece during the Netherland’s anti-censorship and freedom of expression movement that allow creativity and taboo material to flow less restrictively, the filmmaker, or rather Jan De Bont, was a technically careless cinematographer. Sure, “Blue Movie” was on produced on micro-budget shot in a cramped location that’s very intimate and authentic for the material, but Verstappen and Bont let slide various goofs in the final cut, such as boom mic shadows, the boom mic itself, and, I believe, the director’s hand going in and out of frame twice in one scene. Along with the crew and equipment mishaps, the script or scheduling shooting has perplexing timing issues that defy the natural order of passing time. Michael goes through a series of events in, what is assumed, his initial weeks at the apartment block and even the jump between having elicit affairs with a married women and being the third party of group sex in a romping montage have plausible time possibilities. Yet, Michael’s story teleports into his money-making scheme of selling the sexual lifestyles of the rich and horny. There was no brainstorm light bulb that sudden illuminates his status from no job bed wanderer to the CEO of variety sex shows staged in his 2 bed, 1 bath flat.
From the company that delivered “Frank & Eva,” Cult Epics presents another Netherlands film, “Blue Movie,” onto a Blu-ray/DVD combo release. Shot in a 1.37:1 aspect ratio, aka Academy Ratio, the original negative has remained virtually unvarnished and Cult Epics presents a new high definition restoration and transfer by the Eye Film Institute. Natural grain looks great. The coloring remains stable throughout and the hues border the natural and just below slightly too brilliant – Ine Veen’s blue eyes could be made a case. The Dutch and German Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track is, again, a fine transfer with clear dialogue and not a pinch of pops or crackles. The optional English subtitles are well synched without translational error. Bonus material includes pre-debut film interview with director Wim Verstappen, interview with producer Pim de la Parra at the Sex Wave Festival, interview with Hugo Metsers Jr. about his father later in life and his erotically charged moment on the first time he saw his father’s film, Eye Film Institute featurette, “Blue Movie” HD poster and photo video gallery, and the original Scorpio Films trailer of the film. Wim Verstappen pioneered the Dutch Sex Wave with “Blue Movie,” a controversial artistic brief rendition of the Netherlands’s breakneck cultural upgrade to a more fluid and modern lifestyles and cinema sauté.
Cult Epics has announced in a press release the upcoming Blu-ray/DVD combo of Marco Ferreri’s 1991 romantic black comedy and cult film “The Flesh” set for a September 12th release date. For this first time ever, the Italian film will be release with an upgraded HD transfer from the 35mm negative and exclusive bonus material including Behind the Scenes of The Flesh, Interview with Marco Ferreri, Francesca Dellera, Sergio Castellitto from the Cannes Film Festival 1991, Original Theatrical Trailer, The Flesh Lobby Cards photo gallery, Original art Slipcase with newly commissioned artwork by Gilles Vranckx – limited to first 3000 copies!!!
“THE FLESH (La Carne) is a romantic black comedy about a divorced piano player named Paolo (Sergio Castellitto) who meets and falls in love with a most beauteously busty woman (bombshell Francesca Dellera), who uses her special powers to turn the man into her sex slave. The film depicts the oftentimes torturous nature of carnal desire and the erotic power of women in a cinematic work where Francesca becomes a symbolic representation of male desire, with her voluptuous figure and sex appeal being intoxicating to Paolo. While he is completely taken by his desire for Francesca, she eventually gets bored with him and decides to leave. Unfortunately for Francesca, Paolo loves her and has no intention of allowing her to go.“
Cult Epics have launched a new campaign for the Hardcover Book “CULT EPICS – COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE” at INDIEGOGO
Celebrating the 25th anniversary of Cult Epics, this commemorative book covers 150 essential releases from filmmakers such as Tinto Brass, Fernando Arrabal, Radley Metzger, Walerian Borowcyzk, Jean Genet, Abel Ferrara, Rene Daalder, Olivier Smolders, Jorg Buttgereit, Nico B, Irving Klaw, and pinup legend Bettie Page.
The book is divided into chapters on specific directors or genre (such as arthouse, horror, erotica, and music), and includes over 100 extensive in-depth reviews, essays and interviews by top writers – Mark R. Hasan, Michael Den Boer, Nathaniel Thompson, Ian Jane, Heather Drain, Rayo Casablanco, Matthew Whoolery, David Kerekes and Marcus Stiglegger, among others. The book will be fully illustrated in color with rare photos, poster art, and memorabilia – including images and rare personal notes from Bettie Page. Size is approximately 8.75″ x 11.25″ x 1″ with 256 full color pages (and over 200 pictures).
Here are some exclusive perks:
1. CULT EPICS – COMPREHENSIVE GUIDE TO CULT CINEMA. HC BOOK.
Cult Epics Hardcover Book + Your Name in the Acknowledgements + Digital Book – $50.00
2. CULT EPICS HC BOOK + DEATH LAID AN EGG BD/DVD/CD COMBO
Cult Epics Hardcover Book + Limited Edition of 3 disc Combo (Blu-ray/DVD/CD) of DEATH LAID AN EGG (Director’s Cut), a giallo film by Giulio Questi, starring Jean-Louis Trintignant, Ewa Aulin, Gina Lollobrigida. We offer our next upcoming release only through INDIEGOGO with EXCLUSIVE SOUNDTRACK CD (only 300 to be made) with fantastic score by Bruno Maderna, numbered, not to be available in stores + Your Name in the Acknowledgements + Digital Book – $75.00
3. CULT EPICS HC BOOK – SIGNED BY 10 DIRECTORS!
Cult Epics Hardcover Book – Ltd. ed. of 20 copies Exclusively Signed by the following filmmakers: Tinto Brass, Radley Metzger, Fernando Arrabal, Agusti Villaronga, Jorg Buttgereit, Gerald Kargl, George Barry, Anna Biller, Nico B + 10th director t.b.c. + Your Name in the Acknowledgements + Digital Book – $250.00
This gorgeously vivid illustrated book will be printed in July and ready to ship in August! Better hurry and get those awesome perks and grab a Limited Edition copy! Only 1,000 in stock!