Friday, April 29, 2011

The Ventures in Space

A friend of mine asked me to recommend a good Ventures album. You can't go wrong with 1964's IN SPACE!

It's a great "space" themed album.

Some songs of note: Man of Astroman cover War of the Satellites. The Bat can be found on the LAIF series. The Fourth Dimension may sound familiar to fans of fellow Dolton label instro kings, The Frantics.



Sunday, April 3, 2011

Human Fly Film Overview

The film opens with a countdown and a placard with: Vengeance Productions Presents a Film by Alex de Laszlo. It immediately cuts to a shot of Ivy walking down the street, transistor radio glued to her ear (The Way I Walk is playing), blowing bubbles and holding a glass bottle coke. Cut to a somber looking Lux in a smoking jacket sitting on what appears to be a leopard print sofa. He’s prepping a huge hypodermic needle by lighting a match and holding it under the needle.

Lux then gathers up some flesh from around his throat and slowly injects himself.

The result is immediate; he begins a transformation!

Again, we see Ivy walking down the street as the film cuts back to Lux as his transformation deepens.

And deepens.

His transformation is complete.

Ivy stumbles and drops her radio down a flight of stairs. She looks down in to the foreboding space and reluctantly goes down them to retrieve her radio. There is one last cut to the Lux monster as he gets up off the couch. Ivy bends down to pick up the radio as the opening riff from Human Fly begins. We follow the camera down the stairs toward Ivy as she screams!

She runs down a hallway (past Nick’s drum kit) into a room with a door. She opens it and out comes Dracula Nick!

As she reacts, there is a jump cut to Bryan smoking. As his head slowly turns you can see that his face is sort of…melted.

Lux lurches into view holding what appears to be a Barbie doll.

He sort of looks around and then throws an evil smile and lurches towards the camera. They way he moves in this shot is really great. It’s kind of hard to describe other than “lurches”.

Ivy is horrified at the monsters around her. Nick, Byran and Lux surround her and drag her to the ground, the Lux Monster drooling and Melt Faced Bryan’s face actually dripping on Ivy. The Lux Monster is swinging his Barbie doll around by the hair, laughing and have a great time.

After a few moments there is a close up of Ivy’s face. As she turns towards the camera we see that she has been transformed into: Skull Faced Ivy!

She slowly gets up as there is a bunch of quick cuts of Dracula Nick smoking, turning on a radio, slowly bopping his head. Monster Lux grabs the transformed Ivy and leads her towards a piece of broken mirror so she can see her new form. She looks at the camera and begins a slow grooving dance with the rest of the monsterous group. The look on her face is great, like she’s excepted her “new look.”

There are more quick cuts of the group having fun as the song ends. Melt Faced Bryan drinking some liquid and “skittering” across a mattress. Monster Lux doing a fly dance, and sucking his thumb over a record player with a 45 on it.

And a final close up of each member.

Then there is a close up of the artwork for the picture sleeve of Human Fly (though only Lux and Ivy are really visable).

Well, that’s it. I think it’s a brilliant piece of Cramps history. Thinking about the time period that this came out, it’s pretty extraordinary. They made this film at a time when something like this wasn’t really logical. It’s not like it was going to air on MTV or something. Jim Marshall chimed in on the last post and said that it had been shown before one of their shows at CBGB’s back in 1979.

So that’s it. I hope it gets a legitimate release someday.

Thanks to Kevin Compton for sending this my way.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Human Fly Film

In 1978 The Cramps decided to make a short promotional film using their song Human Fly as the back drop. Other than that I really don't know the history of the film at all. The first I heard about it was when the Ian Johnston book about The Cramps that came out in the early 90’s.

The book said that the film was so rare, that The Cramps themselves did not have a copy.

It’s pretty much considered the rarest bit of Cramps ephemera. Many don't even know about it all. It is any serious Cramps fan’s Holy Grail as it were. The Cramps footage that no one seems to have seen.

Since reading about it in the Johnston book, I've always had an eye out for any mention anywhere about the film. Back in the early 90’s, which was pre-Internet for me, the odds of hearing about the film or running across it were pretty slim.

As the Internet began to play a larger roll in my (and everyone else’s) life, I thought surely a mention of the film would pop up at some point. But still there was nothing about it anywhere. When Youtube hit the scene, I figured it would show up over there. Something so rare had to be in the possession of somebody that would upload its grainy b/w goodness so that people could finally see the film that Cramps fans had been talking about for years.

Still there was nothing.

Over a decade after starting the Lux and Ivy’s Favorites series something extraordinary happened. The film turned up!

Here’s how it went down. A friend of mine from Boston had been telling me about a friend of his who was a HUGE Cramps fan. He said that we totally had to meet because we would hit it off immediately, because of our love for The Cramps.

Years went by where this friend of his and I would never meet. During that time he found out about the LAIF series and enjoyed them so much that he emailed me asking if there was anything I was looking for Cramps related. Like a jerk, I pretty much said I had everything readily available (all the releases, tons of bootlegs, etc). He admitted that he was kind of out of the loop regarding any of the newer live recordings that had popped up over the years, but he felt that he needed to thank me for my efforts with the LAIF series. I was humbled that he thought so much of the series that he felt the need to repay me.

The last sentence in his email went something like this; …”Well, I also have this video of The Cramps turning into monsters in some basement….”

This of course elicited a sound from me akin to 96 eyes popping out of 96 eye sockets!

This HAD to be the Human Fly film! That tiny description was like nothing I had ever read about before. Legend had it that it was a film of Lux “turning into a fly” but I think that was an assumption by someone that had not seen the film.

Here’s a short version about how it came into his possession. When he was in high school he made a short film with this other guy. Years later they wanted to have the super 8 film transferred to VHS so they could watch it again without the need of a projector. Somewhere along the line his friend had come into possession of the Human Fly film. All they knew at the time was that it was somehow Cramps related. Since they were both Cramps fans, it ended up on the pile of items to be transferred to VHS.

Details are a little sketchy at this point, apparently his friend knew Alex de Laszlo, the Human Fly director, and de Laszlo had lent the film to this guy. The film itself eventually made its way back to de Laszlo.

So they ended up watching the film, but at the time since there was no outlet to really show this to the world, it ended up kind of being forgotten. Basically, the tape ended up in his attic and forgotten. He had absolutely no idea that the video in his attic was on every crazed Cramps fan’s Halloween wish list.

Flash forward to about a year ago:

In what seemed like a few hours, I was watching something I have no idea how many people have actually seen. I must have watched it a few dozen times, first on my computer monitor and later on my television. The film has more ideas per frame than the average modern horror flick has in its entire running time.

Soon, various friends were swinging by to feast their unbelieving eyes on the film. Everyone that saw it was speechless. Everyone said the same thing: “WHEN ARE YOU PUTTING THIS UP ON YOUTUBE!?!”

Well, sorry to say, I’m not. This isn’t me saying; “Hey, look at me! Look what I have and YOU don’t!” This is me, or more to the point, US saying some things are meant to be seen at the right place and the right time. If Ivy wants this released, she’ll release it. There’s no way we want to get in the way of an eventual release by doing something as callous as uploading it to Youtube, right next to talking babies, football’s to the groin, and various other time killers; This was too special.

But what I will do is write a review of the film, as well as post some screen shots so you can see that the film actually exists in some form.

For those keeping score, the film is no longer lost, according to an interview I read somewhere Lux and Ivy found the film in their attic (an appropriate place) and at some point intend on releasing it (this was of a few years ago). As of this writing there is no news (that I know of) about any official Cramps release on DVD.

End of Part One