October Music Series: Nokturnal Mortum – Lastivka

And so my month of folk and folk/pagan/black metal indulgence comes to an end. Of course they’re the styles I listen to the most throughout the year, but October always holds a somewhat special status for the genres. It marks the height of fall and the coming of winter, the commencement of the six months of the year I enjoy most, and also the start of the holiday season. Halloween is something of the anti-holiday–an all-encompassing celebration of everything that is not modern Christian/Muslim/Jewish culture. It’s that one break in year-round social norms where people can dress and act in ways that, despite representing the human experience for the vast majority of our species’ existence, are strictly taboo in the today’s world. Sure, plenty of pagan practices may have lurked their way into Christmas and Easter. Sure Thanksgiving, despite its name, remains a fairly uncompromised belated harvest festival. But on Halloween we sugar-coat nothing but the candy, sending our children down the streets as ghouls and ghosts and all sorts of counter-cultural guises, embracing primal human nature with no need for repentance. It might be highly consumer-centric, but a little unrestrained gluttony seems thoroughly appropriate for the occasion. From death and the old gods to vampires and zombies, everything falling beyond the accepted sphere of modern religion has its day on October 31st.

Lastivka, alternatively titled Swallow, is a rather ridiculous rendition of what I gather is a traditional Ukrainian folk song. It first appears on Nokturnal Mortum’s Marble Moon ep, released in 1997. Enjoy.

Happy Halloween Shattered Lens.

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow

Another October here at Through the Shattered Lens is coming to a close and I must say that everyone’s participation in this month’s horror/Halloween themed month has been an unqualified success. Here’s to waiting another year til we visit that most scary, terrifying, horrifying and darkly mysterious month of the year.

What better way to close off the month than sharing one of my favorite childhood Halloween rituals. Every Halloween during the 1980’s I would eagerly wait for the showing of Disney’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Trick or treating wasn’t my thing at that age though I did do my share of dressing up and going door-to-door for sweets and snacks, but it was watching this classic Disney short film that made my Halloween.

I don’t know why I kept watching this year in and year out since after each session I would be scared out of my wits and could barely sleep a wink. This coming from a young lad who was already into watching slasher films and zombie gorefests. I think the genius of the film comes from how innocent the film is when it first begins but gradually shows it’s darker side until we get to the climactic appearance of the Headless Horseman himself. I wouldn’t be surprised if this film scarred for life some kids who saw it the first time. For a Disney film that was produced in 1949 it definitely had a high-level of scare when put in the context that it was advertised as a kid’s film.

If this film had been produced in this day and age I don’t think it would’ve made it out of the ratings board with a G-rating. They definitely don’t make animated films like this nowadays and that is a shame.

So, until next October sit down, relax and watch one of the things that helped shaped this site.

James Bond Review: Octopussy (dir. by John Glen)


We’re at the home stretch in the Roger Moore-era of Ian Fleming’s James Bond film series. During his time in the role as Britain’s super spy extraordinaire we’ve seen him put his own personal stamp on the role. It was a daunting task seeing the role had been played by Sean Connery early in the film series and had done such a great job of making the character such a cultural icon that anyone following him would forever be compared. Moore doesn’t just hold his own, but has built such a loayl following in the role that many consider his portrayal of Agent 007 as the best in the series.

His Bond when compared to Connery’s portrayal was more the witty charmer who tried to use his wits and brains to solve problematic (usually dangerous ones) situations he finds himself in. Connery’s Bond was more the physical type whose charm belied a much darker personality streak that Moore’s portrayal could never pull off no matter how the writers tried.

The Roger Moore-era also redefined the franchise as more more about action and less and less thriller with each new film. This culminates in Moore’s most action-packed film in the role with the 13th Bond film (produced by EON) in Octopussy.

The film begins with one of the more impressive opening sequences in the series as we find Bond in the middle of an undercover mission in Cuba. This intro’s stunt work with Bond piloting a mini-plane in and around Cuban airspace to escape and, at the same time, fulfill his mission remains a highlight in the series where each new film tries to raise the bar in terms of well-choreographed and very complicated action scenes.

Octopussy sees Bond traveling to India, East and West Germany to halt the nuclear and warmongering ambitions of a Soviet general who sees his country’s nuclear disarmament talks with the West as inviting defeat for the Soviet Union. We also have the theft of priceless Russian treasures like the Faberge Eggs being used to finance this general’s plan to complicate bond’s main mission. The plot for Octopussy is a reminder of the time it was filmed in. Reagan and Thatcher had a strong control of the West and their confrontational attitudes towards the Soviet Union and it’s satellite states made people believe that the world was on the brink of war. This public sentiment affected the fiction and entertainment of the time with Cold War thrillers becoming ascendant once more.

As much as the basic outline of the film’s plot looked to be impressive on the face of it the way the story unfolded was quite a hit-and-miss affair. I put some of this on the shoulders of it’s director John Glen who seemed more interested in moving the story from one action scene to the next while paying just the minimum of lip-service to the quieter scenes that occur in-between.

This being Moore’s sixth Bond film we pretty much know how his Bond operates. So, it falls to fleshing out his rivals and enemies to help create a much more interesting film beyond the extravagant action scenes. We learn about the agendas and personalities of Bond’s rivals through too much exposition info dumps. Even the title’ character of Octopussy (played by Maud Adams) we don’t get to learn much of other than a brief personal history dialogue she has with Bond the first time we meet. Of Bond’s two enemies in the film one is the warmongering General Orlov (played by Steven Berkoff) who comes off like an over-the-top caricature with a distinct speech pattern to match. The other is the exiled Afghan prince Kamal Khan who comes off a bit more fleshed out as Octopussy’s covetous partner-in-crime. Louis Jourdan as Kamal Khan plays the role with a sense of panache and joie de vivre that at times he’s able to match Moore’s Bond in the charisma department whenever the two share the screen together.

What should interest people about Octopussy are the very action scenes I spoke about earlier. From the opening sequence in Cuba to a thrilling race against time that traverses from East Germany to West Germany to stop a nuclear weapon from detonating it’s no wonder some people consider Octopussy as a favorite. I enjoyed the film for these very sequences despite missteps in the overall execution of the plot and inconsistencies in the performances of the cast. Yet, the film had the DNA to be much better and after repeated viewings one could see that in the hands of a different filmmaker and changes in the cast this sixth Moore-era Bond film had the potential to be one of the best.

Octopussy would mark the start of the franchise’s decline in the face of much more violent and action-packed action films of the 80’s. The film tried to keep up with this rising trend in action filmmaking during the 80’s. It was able to succeed in a fashion in making the series much more action-packed (though quite bloodless in comparison to what was about to come out of Hollywood in the coming years), but in doing so the film’s storyline and characters suffered that the film doesn’t hold up the test of time unlike some of the early Connery and Moore films.

On a side note, the film did have one of my favorite Bond song’s with Rita Coolidge singing “All Time High” in the intro sequence. A song title that was quite ironic considering that the film definitely didn’t hit an all time high.

October Music Series: Townes Van Zandt

Townes Van Zandt lived a troubled life, characterized by constant alcoholism, drug abuse, and failed relationships. He finally passed away of heart failure in a state of delirium tremens on January 1, 1997, at the age of 52, cryptically 44 years to the day after the death of perhaps his greatest influence, Hank Williams, under similar circumstances. As a song writer his music was inconsistent, but at his finest moments he tapped into his inner demons with an acute awareness that he was living more in dream than reality. He created his own folklore both in life and in song. The latter was quite deliberate, emerging sometimes from scratch and sometimes with attention to older legends. Narrated in the first person, always at night, bridging a gap between sleep and consciousness, he painted strikingly vivid images of personal confrontations with foul spirits and terrifying monsters physically imbued with emotional states which could never take on material form outside of a dream, or a song.

To call Spider Song a metaphor would do it a disservice. Of course it is about overcoming some inner demon, whatever that may be, and yes, through the battle against the spider we gain some insight into Van Zandt’s personal struggles, but that’s trivial. He’s not just beating that old dead horse again. The spider begins “in his dreams”, and at no point does it definitively leave them, yet the song is structured in such a way that Van Zandt’s dreams come to characterize more and more a real, physical monster encountered collectively by the narrator and the audience. What you get is a subtle transition from a nearly explicit metaphor (it’s in his dreams) to, by the end, momentary belief that a real, heroic, pitched battle against a giant spider is about to ensue. You don’t fully forget that the spider originated as a sort of representation of emotional states of fear, depression, or whatever you read into the first few stanzas of the song, but nevertheless here it stands, a menacing physical object. No, this song should not be regarded as a metaphor. Rather, our recognition of metaphor is employed to, over time, trick the senses into visualizing something supernatural.

Our Mother The Mountain is laden with hints at the supernatural from the outset: The woman’s esoteric claim to have come from her mother the mountain, her mysterious medallion, the refrain “singing tu-a-lu-ra-lai-o” with an emphasis on “lu-ra-lai”… “Lorelei”… The music feels like a dream, and the lyrics too, until the narrator stops observing the dream and tries to interact, reaching for her hand. The woman’s response is a manifest nightmare–a completely nonsensical appeal to pure foreboding terror captured in her physical actions. The narrator never sees her again, but he swears that it wasn’t just a dream, and as the listener you can’t help but believe him.

Spider Song

There is a spider in my dreams
Long and silent is his name
Cold as lightning is his smile
Final is his sting

His curse is deep as seven skies
Boys, I wouldn’t tell you lies
The legends say he never sleeps
and he’s never hungry long

He’s got us boys, I believe it’s true
But I’m fighting til he lays me down
Run his foul black body through
Cleave him all asunder

Think of your women, won’t you boys
Think of your mother growing old
Think about your darling son
Spit in the spider’s eye

Up at ease, against him ride
We’ll not take him by surprise
Give a scream down in your dreams
Let him know we’re coming

There is a spider in my dreams
Long and silent is his name
Cold as lightning is his smile
Final is his sting

Our Mother The Mountain

My lover comes to me with a rose on her bosom
The moon’s dancing purple all through her black hair
And her lady’s-in-waiting, she’ll stand ‘neath my window
And the sun will rise soon on the false and the fair
Singing tu-a-lu-ra-lai-o

She tells me she comes from My Mother The Mountain
And her skin fits her tightly, and her lips do not lie
She silently slips from her throat a medallion
Slowly she twirls it in front of my eyes
Singing tu-a-lu-ra-lai-o

I watch her, I love her, and I long for to touch her
The satin she’s wearing is shimmering blue
And outside my window her ladies are sleeping
My dogs are gone hunting; their howling is through
Singing tu-a-lu-ra-lai-o

So I reach for her hand, and her eyes turn to poison
And her hair turns to splinters, and her flesh turns to brine
She leaps ‘cross the room. She stands in the window
and screams that my first-born will surely be blind.
Singing tu-a-lu-ra-lai-o

Then she throws herself out to the black of the nightfall
She’s parted her lips, but she makes not a sound
I fly down the stairway and I run to the garden
No trace of my true love is there to be found
Singing tu-a-lu-ra-lai-o

So walk these hills lightly, and watch who you’re loving
By Mother The Mountain I swear that it’s true
And love not a woman with hair black as midnight
and a dress made of satin all shimmering blue
Singing tu-a-lu-ra-lai-o

My lover comes to me with a rose on her bosom
The moon’s dancing purple all through her black hair
And her lady’s-in-waiting, she’ll stand ‘neath my window
And the sun will rise soon on the false and the fair

6 Trailers For The Day Before Halloween

Hi there!  Well, it’s the day before Halloween and that can only mean that it’s time for another edition of Lisa Marie’s Favorite Grindhouse and Exploitation Film trailers!

1) How To Make A Monster (1958)

This movie, which involves the danger of angering a Hollywood makeup artist, seems especially appropriate for Halloween.

2) Halloween 3: Season of the Witch (1982)

This is a movie that generated some debate on this site just a few weeks ago.  I happen to like it but I’m in a minority.  What can I say?  I’m a sucker for any film that features an Irishman destroying the world.

3) Hatchet For The Honeymoon (1970)

This film is from the great Italian director, Mario Bava.

4) The Toolbox Murders (1978)

This film is proof that you should never trust a man with a toolbox.

5) The Initiation (1984)

“They pledged themselves to be young, stay young … and die young.”  Well, I guess that’s one way to stay forever young.

6) Night of the Zombies (1980)

Finally, how can you do a Halloween trailer post and not include at least one zombie film?

What do you think, Trailer Kitties?

October Music Series: Forgotten Woods – The Principle and The Whip

This is by far the most disturbing song of my series, but what’s wrong with this picture is not remotely obvious from a distant, inattentive listen. On the surface you’ve got a pretty dark, melancholic guitar; soft, soothing female vocals; a love song’s refrain; and a slow transition into a sort of Planet Caravan chill out. Relaxing and mournful. Is that all?

But what’s this business about a whip? And what exactly is Anne Lise Frøkedal, frontwoman for Norwegian indie pop band Harrys Gym, saying? And what the hell is she doing singing with Forgotten Woods?

Let me preface this with something else that shouldn’t be remotely obvious. Forgotten Woods are a lo-fi Norwegian black metal band. Don’t just take my word for it. Pause the song and click. The song I’m linking here appears on the same album. (Race of Cain, released in 2007, is also the source of the avatar I’ve been sporting on most sites for the past year or two.)

I hope you clicked. Just in case you didn’t:

Are we good and thoroughly confused just yet? Go ahead, put the song back on again from the start, and pay close attention now. “Indeed, we’ve seen the serpent rise. Six-legged triumphant reptile”? Is that guitar slide just an effect, or is it simulating a bomb falling through the sky? What exactly is this love song about, really?

Founding member “R” had this to say about the song in a Vampiria magazine interview: “The track itself is about discovering your true self, shedding your former suit of denial and fear and simply embrac[ing] the ultimate ego. Individuality, intolerance, indulgence. That’s what it’s all about in that song.”

They’re juxtaposing humanity at its most brutal to humanity at its most tender and calling attention to the similarities. Make what you will of them. The medium as best I interpret it: A woman reflecting on her experiences in the Third Reich with a sense of nostalgia. She acknowledges that it was the total social upheaval, dehumanization, and mass destruction, not the shallow ideologies used to justify them, from which she derived the highest state of personal fulfillment. But she has no regrets.

Indeed, we’ve seen the serpent rise
Six-legged triumphant reptile
Success! Chakra! I love you like no other
Totalitarian regards
The principle and the whip
Silence the mutant mind
Success! Chakra! I love you like no other
Inside, inside this dormant cyst
Outnumbered, writing in his presence
Reinventing the myths
Reversing the symbols
It is inevitable

James Bond Review: Never Say Never Again

With the release of the latest James Bond yarn, Skyfall, imminent, the Shattered Lens has been looking back at every single James Bond film ever created – the entire history of the franchise. Today’s selection for review is 1983’s Never Say Never Again. Unlike the overwhelming majority of the franchise, this film was not produced by EON productions, but rather by an independent studio. It is an adaptation of Ian Fleming’s Thunderball, much like the 1965 film that shares the novel’s name. It also marks the return of Sean Connery to portray the film’s lead, 00-agent James Bond, 12 years after appearing in Diamonds Are Forever.

I have to say, when I entered into reviewing this film I was certain that I had seen it before, but it took only ten minutes or so of film action before I realized that this film, somehow, had completely flown under my radar.

I have to say, it does not make a strong first impression. We don’t get a cold open with Bond, but rather launch directly into the credit sequence with what I have to admit may be the worst opening theme song of the entire franchise. I haven’t even posted it here, I’m so embarrassed by it, but I’m sure a quick youtube search will yield some results. It’s lengthy, slow, and weirdly incongruous with what proves to be a fairly action-packed Bond adventure.

The story here is sort of needlessly complicated. Addressing the long lapse between Connery appearances as bond, M (Edward Fox) notes that he has recalled James Bond to service against his will, and that after failing a routine training exercise, that Bond is in unacceptable physical condition. His first assignment? To proceed to a health spa to be placed on an exercise and dietary regimen to bleed all of the toxins out of his system, with a strong implication that Bond’s behaviour and mind-set are as much of a problem as his physical condition. While at the spa, of course, Bond becomes privy to a strange interaction between the beautiful nurse Fatima Blush (Barbara Carrera) and an accomplice with a bandaged face, one Jack Petachi (Gavan O’Herlihy). The duo spot Bond, and attempt to have him assassinated, but 007 is able to overcome the assassin and lives to fight another day.

We learn that both Blush and Petachi are agents of the infamous terrorist organization, SPECTER, headed by Ernst Stavros Blofeld (Max Von Sydow). In a convoluted plot, Jack Petachi will use a surgically implanted false eye to replicate the retinal scan of the President of the United States. Using this eye, he is able to arrange for two nuclear warheads to be placed aboard cruise missiles. Using strategically positioned transmitters, SPECTER’s agents then guide the launched missiles remotely, driving them into the sea where their agents can retrieve the nuclear weapons. With the warheads, Blofeld plans to hold the world hostage, forcing world governments into paying an annual tribute to SPECTER, or risk the annihilation of world cities in nuclear fire. Soon after, Jack Petachi is murdered by Fatima Blush, who throws a snake into his speeding vehicle, causing him to lose control and crash through a wall. She then plants a bomb in the vehicle and blows him sky high.

Responding to the crisis presented by SPECTER, M reluctantly reinstates the 00-agents, including James Bond. Bond is immediately assigned to track down the missing warheads.

From there, we’ll travel from the Bahamas, home of SPECTER agent Maximillian Largo (Klaus Maria Brandauer)’s massive yacht, Flying Saucer. Bond meets Domino Petachi, Jack Petachi’s sister, and Largo’s lover (Kim Basinger) and comes into conflict with both Fatima Blush and Largo himself. Bond will chase Largo from the Bahamas to France, into the Mediterranean, and out to the Middle East, with help from noted CIA agent Felix Leiter (Bernie Casey). The action sequences, once they get rolling in the second half of the movie, don’t really let up, and take us to an underwater finale where Domino finally kills Largo in revenge for the needless death of her brother.

For all that this film does right, I have to confess that this was definitely not my favourite James Bond film. The pacing seemed brutally uneven for much of the film, with the action sequences spaced too far apart. The film does spend a little effort winking and nodding at the earlier Connery Bond films, probably in part because Never Say Never Again was not developed by the franchise’s principle producers, EON. Although this film is a far cry from the extremely gadget and superscience-y Bond films that dot the landscape after Connery’s original departure, there is a definitively 80s quality to this film – especially in the film’s score, which at times is loud and invasive, and other times oddly subdued – which prevents it from ever fitting right in with the other Connery films.

The performances are pretty good all around. Sean Connery himself might never have taken a 12 year vacation from playing 007, the women around him are beautiful, and Brandauer is a flamboyant villain in the classic Bond style. Max Von Sydow is excellent in presenting yet another take on supervillain Ernst Blofled, though I thought he was more or less wasted in a very limited role.

If you are waxing nostalgic and just can’t live without one more trip with Connery as James Bond, you probably won’t find this film disappointing. Something about it never really struck a chord with me, however, and I came away thinking of it as a bit of a slog.

Join us tomorrow as we continue our odyssey through the history of James Bond with the slightly-silly but always-fun Octopussy. Until then, against my better judgment, I’ll leave you with the theme song to Never Say Never Again … remember what I said about the music score before you chance it though!

Horror Scenes I Love: Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer

Last night we saw the return of Michael Rooker as Merle Dixon in season 3 of AMC’s The Walking Dead. He’s been one of those actors who has made a living in genre film and projects and for this he has gained quite a loyal and zealous fan-base which includes myself. Not many people actually know that he starred in one of the most disturbing piece of filmmaking in the last quarter-century. Many people will throw the word “most disturbing” all the time, but with the film I’m taking the latest “Scenes I Love” entry it’s been a consensus amongst genre fans and just film-lovers in general that it’s a film that deserves all the praise thrown it’s way.

It’s not a film that’s really enjoyable. In fact, it’s a film that’s made to elicit a reaction that ranges from disgust to plain creepiness. The film I’m talking about is John McNaughton’s classic horror film simply titled Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer.

The film has so many sequences that has become etched in the minds of those who have seen the film. Whether it’s the opening of the film where we see Henry going about his business like some average joe interspersed with scenes of violence and degradation left behind. Another infamous scene that many has decried the film for being tasteless and is the home invasion scene. Even the final scene of the film is disturbing for the fact that we don’t see the redemption we thought the end of the film was going for, but instead just another start in a new cycle of violence and death for the title character.

The one scene I picked and saying I love this scene is pushing it. Let’s just say that this is the scene that really solidified the film to me as a horror classic. It’s a scene between Henry and his old pal Otis on a double date and it’s a date that horrible goes awry. The horror of Henry killing people is enough for some, but the reaction afterwards of both Henry and Otis just shows that these events do happen in real-life and that the banality of evil in everyday life is more horrifying and disturbing than any horror fiction people can come up with.