Saturday, January 22, 2011

Twin Peaks

Wednesday was David Lynch's birthday.
I had the absolute pleasure of watching the pilot for Twin Peaks on a big screen. Very very cool.
That single episode of TV is extraordinary. Maybe the most impressive pilot ever.

I checked it out back in '90 and it didn't grab me ..or rather I didn't let it. I knew who David Lynch was and had heard the show was really interesting but... ...girls..
Anyway, some years later I met a cool cat named Tom Naugler. Can't remember the exact genesis of events but we ended up watching the whole series in his basement, two episodes at a time, whilst sipping rum and cokes. Great times. Great show.
The whole period sticks with me now as it's the last "social" thing I did regularly before my mother's death in '97. For that and the just plain fun of it - heading up from Mom's place, walk through the park - have a look out at the arm - think about Twin Peaks ..walk home, buzzed, thinkin' about girls and Twin Peaks. Say "goodnight" to Mom. Have really weird dreams.
Again, fantastic days.
I figured the times had enriched my memory of the show.
it's far better than even I remembered ...the catch being that I'd secretly decided to never watch it again ..keep the memory pristine ...naive thinking, I know but cut me some slack - I had a cool mom and it was a tricky time.
Well Mom, I gotta watch the whole series again...
I'll think of you and Tom and of being young, and I'll smile at amazing days...

God, I love that intro.

As I re-devour one of the most artistic works I've ever seen/heard.
What a pilot episode...
It takes maybe 60 seconds to get "hooked" so to speak. Watching it now I would attribute a big part of the show's affect to the soundtrack. An incredible thread of what became the 3 classic Twin Peaks "pieces" of music layer the show so well - so many things coming together in such a rich experience - the visuals with that score ...amazing synthesis. My favorite blend of imagery and song ever in a show - I can't think of anything that compares.

tbc ..I must think..

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Super Soundtracks

The Soundtrack - boyoboy, how many movies have been saved by super duper music? Jaws, Star Wars, and Raiders would be verrry different without John Williams. Imagine Halloween with a different score...
I dare say Verna Fields and John Williams are the other two equal thirds of Jaws.

a little
like this: no order..

The Straight Story - Angelo Badalamenti - So much emotion locked into this music - from one of the most beautiful films ever made.
Tron Legacy - Daft Punk - Film good. Soundtrack brilliant.
Superman - John Williams
Zodiac - Various/David Shire - As if Rod Stewart's "(I know)I'm losing you" in that trailer isn't enough, the whole soundtrack rocks but Donovan's "Hurdy gurdy, hurdy gurdy, hurdy gurdy, gurdy he sang. Here comes the roly poly man and he's singing songs of love.." - I have the chills...
9 ½ Weeks - Various - It still works, and you know what I mean...
Brimstone and Treacle - The Police/Various - it's excellent - Listen to the whole thing...
& "I Burn for You" rocks!! ...kinda sexy creepy - Very cool song.
The Terminator - Brad Fiedel - That main theme is perfect.
Batman - Danny Elfman - "Memories, from the corner of my mind..."
Austin Powers - Various - Fun.
Psycho - Bernard Hermann
The Crow - Various
Pulp Fiction - Various ...I know it got played too much...
Highlander - Queen
...and at #14 is my favorite 80's theme... "Blade Runner Blues" from THE #1 ...Blade Runner by Vangelis

A soundtrack is a powerful thing can "raise up" or "truly undermine" a film...
On True Romance and To Live and Die in LA...
If Tarantino did the soundtrack for TR it'd be a bigger cult film - fact. Okay, "You're So Cool" is an incredibly nice little piece of music, and the signature tune of the movie for me, but the fact that "Take me to the Other Side" by Aerosmith isn't on it means the album has one only one really good track. Not enough.
If To Live and Die in LA didn't have a painfully lame score it'd be far better remembered. The film itself is fantastic, and the title track is the best song Wang Chung ever did ...but again, this is not a particularly high bar. To quote another LA-featured film "In this town I'm the leper with the most fingers."
One hit soundtracks are often the ones we remember.

...and Tubular Bells still scares me...

Then there's the X-Files first movie soundtrack - none of the tunes are in the film. Strange.
I don't really like soundtracks "inspired by"... Gimme a break.

But # 1 was Star Wars way way back ...I called my friend, Jim and played the whole album. It remains my longest telephone call ever.
Okay, longest call with a guy friend..

Music puts you in the moment again like a smell in the fall - it's magic.

"It's a Kind of Magic" anyway...
..ha haa..


Sunday, January 2, 2011


Of every character and every story I've ever read I have good confidence that Swamp Thing will remain #1 forever.

I picked up Saga of the Swamp Thing #1 at my "Lawtons" drugstore in the Spryfield Mall back in good ol' 1982(oh, I love you). It was a number one ...had to check it out. Hooked.
I loved the character instantly. I was eleven years old and a superhero/monster made of plants really appealed to me idea why I loved this character so much but I did ..I did. By the time issue #2 came out I'd discovered Swamp Thing's 1970's roots ...the genius of Berni Wrightson and Len Wein. The artwork matched the moody macabre writing ...just fantastic, as was meeting Len Wein in New York in 2008 chat Swamp Thing with his creator - I was eleven again, and sooo happy fact, that three days in NY was heavenly...and damn if Len Wein isn't as nice as Swamp Thing is awesome.

Some pop-culture properties grow up with you and when they do they're like an old friend who's been around so long you almost forget you were young together too. Alec Holland is one of those old friend.
He's also an old friend of the Swamp Thing himself or rather this idea was the radical concept introduced by UK genius Alan Moore when he took over writing duties for Swampy on #20 - an issue that remains a specific dark memory for me. I waited eagerly for this new writer everyone seemed excited about(at least the few adult nerds I talked to at Wilkies were..) and what did this "much-vaunted" Alan Moore do? Killed my favorite character. I can still hear the music to Vectrex's "Minestorm" playing in my head when I think of that day ...a hail of bullets ripping my character apart ..who did this guy think he was? ...what the hell kind of good story was going to come out of this mess?
Alan Moore changed my childhood, but I'll return to him...

Swamp Thing the Movie:
Fun. Best word for it, and amazingly the first Wes Craven film in my writing here. I love A Nightmare on Elm Street - love it - favorite single series starting slasher film, but his Swamp Thing is a funny little movie ...most of the comic book beats are here and the fact that it was shot in Louisiana helps plenty but many decisions are in the cheesy b-movie style. The suit took a lot of flak but I like the design and rubber suits are more charming than pixels no matter how many zippers you see. As a boy it was a blast to have human characters like "Ferret" and "Bruno" from Len Wein's original bouncing around - causing trouble for Swampy but even at eleven I wondered "Why not make 'em cooler ...more gothic like the original?" ..but hey - I was young. I think we watched it for my friend Bill's birthday ...perfect for a couple super-nerds, and then the re-discovery of the film as an adult. There are two versions. One has a topless Adrienne Barbeau and the other is ...well, useless.
Adrienne Barbeau - Holy moley ...what a woman. The Fog - Escape from New York - Maude ...I've had a ginormous crush on her since birth essentially.
Then comes 1989's The Return of Swamp Thing ...yowsa, I heard/read the idea that this movie was inspired by Alan Moore's run on the book - that's like saying acid wash jeans were inspired by tuxedos..
I have to watch it again but I'd guess it's release was only motivated by Tim Burton's Batman fever and the fact that the comic book had become extremely popular. No one who made this film ever read Alan Moore's work on Swamp Thing - perhaps I should say they didn't grasp it if they did peruse. When I do view it again I'm sure I'll find a few good moments but I don't remember too many ...Gothic tragic hero = comedy with Heather Locklear = bad math. Buuut the suit in this one is a pretty wild improvement and if anything came from the 80's run it was Swampy's new look ...not too shabbadoo. Rest of it ...well, you decide. It's fun, but a far younger fun than the first film.
Next came Swamp Thing the Series...
I have to get this again - it's cheap and cheesy 90's but more of a Littlest Hobo/story of the week vibe than either film.
Weird part is that the show lasted 72 episodes...

Wein/Wrightson - Wow, this is the original Swamp Thing team and incidentally two of the most talented cats ever to grace the industry. Fall of '82 I started picking up the original series - a new and wonderful obsession. Fell into this gothic macabre world these two men created way back in the early 70's ..and I've been there since. I adore Wrightson's art ...and I still prefer him to even Frazetta who may be the pinnacle of his realm. His anatomy is so dramatic yet simple ...beautiful lines that evoke emotions..

Great story..

Wrightson owns the macabre.
If I could go back in time and watch Berni Wrightson draw those pages ...I'd never come back - I'd just go get him coffee. But I guess I'd have to bring one for Len Wein too...
Bloody Writers!! As a young boy, I was naive enough to believe the artwork to be more important than story - 'til Swamp Thing that is. This is the team that made me aware of teams ..that two or more people could do their best and come up with something ...amazing together ...greater than the sum of it's parts.
"..muck-encrusted mockery of a man..." It doesn't get any better than that.

Yikes, this is a really long one. In favor of not losing my few readers halfway through I may just have to do a second Swampy post ...or even a third.