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

25 comments:

  1. Wow.

    Amazing.

    It doesnt seem any harm could come from celebrating the find by sharing it. Of course any Cramps fan would buy the official release anyway to have it in it's purest form. It's nearly cruel to read about or share a few teasers. It's better to not know it exists at all.

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  2. Keep it holy - keep it rare.

    Ivy! Please! The world needs this badly!

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  3. yes, but if it were some how leak onto the internet, 2 things would happen: one, bootlegs would immediately pop up and land on ebay where people would immediately buy them...which would directly lead to number two -- ivy would be less likely to release it if it were already available...

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  4. Yeah, the fact that the Cramps had discovered the footage was published a few years ago, so its existence isn't even news. But THANKS SO MUCH for letting everyone know YOU'VE got a copy. Enjoy being the tallest midget.

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  6. Hey jerry, feel free to stop reading this blog...

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  7. Nah, tell you what, when the main thrust of a post is simple vanity, I'll feel free to comment. Don't speak for "US." You haven't got what it takes.

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  8. um, the us i'm referring to in the above post are the 3 or so people that actually do have a copy and have agreed not to share it.

    i can kind of see what you're saying if this was a blog page that never shared anything, but that's not the case. you can check page after page of shit that i've posted on this site for people to download and enjoy.

    i decided to post about this because people kept asking me about it. now it will be part of the publiuc record what the film actually is. if you don't find that valuable in any way that's your problem.

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  9. Whatever, nothing you've "shared" has been yours with which to do so. Now suddenly the air gets rare way up on that high horse you've mounted. I'll admit it, I've been waiting to see the fucking thing well over 20 years. Lux and Ivy- god love them- were strangely remiss when it came to getting their shit together beyond their amazing albums and even more awe-inspiring live performances. Look how long "How to Make a Monster" took and consider the fact they updated their Web site about once every 18 months (when they finally decided to put one up, that is). A supposed video collection has been in the offing about for at least the last 14 years, so I'll turn blue, but it won't be from holding my breath. Just spare us the whole na-na-na boo-boo routine, regardless of whether or not you couch it in a whole bunch of moral caveats, that's all. So you can have the last word if you like (it's your place), that's all I'll say about it.

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  10. I remember seeing it around the fall of '79 when the Cramps used it as an intro to their set at CBGB. It starts w/Ivy walking down a NYC street w/a transistor radio to hear ear, she drops her radio into a manhole and when she goes down there to retrieve it the rest of the band is waiting for her, I remember Bryan looked quite amazing in his first close up.
    People get all upset about not having something you have, but it's just a three minute film. Once Ivy finally puts it out, everyone will watch it once or twice and forget about it. Hell, it took fifty years for the un-issued Link Wray Cadence session to come out, folks can wait a few more years for the Human Fly film.
    BTW, there are a few other copies out there.

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  11. Jim, in addition to CBGB, I very vaguely recall seeing it at Club 57 (St. Marks, not Irving Plaza), maybe during a Monster Movie Club night -- any recollection?

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  12. I never missed a monster movie club night @ the '57 (first place I ever dj'd), but the amount of drugs taken during those nights makes it all somewhat hazy. I do remember what the guy who directed and paid for the film looked like, but I can't remember his name.
    Amos Poe is sitting on some good Cramps footage, outakes from I think The Foreigner, where the Cramps have a cameo, Lux went a bit overboard with the switchblade....most of it ended up on the cutting room floor. That would have been when Miriam was still in the group.

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  13. Kogar, can you also get me The Pied Piper of Cleveland, and The Day the Clown Cried?

    Thanks in advance.

    ***seventy five dollars***

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  14. I have a copy I'm putting it on YouTube now

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  15. Thanks for sharing Kogar great blog! Keep up the good work! - Paulie

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  16. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rI1WZNan6bQ&app=desktop

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    Replies
    1. Just made my day! week! month! fuck it, the entire year!!!

      Delete
  17. C'MONNNN! PLEASE SHARE!! someone uploaded the video @youtube at took it down already!! I was at work!!! Cramps Fans have a right !!!

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  18. It just went up on YouTube. Channel was named Celluloid Cinemacabre but now renamed to Paul Silver (as with his Facebook). The Cramps page on Facebook (which is run by Mr. Silver as well as Michael Purkhiser, Lux's brother) also shared the video. Maybe something to do with Ivy given the obvious connection?

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  19. Download it and save it so this mystery is laid to rest.

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