Artwork of the Day: Diagnosis: Homicide

by Raymond Johnson


Music Video of the Day: Far Side Of Crazy by Wall Of Voodoo (1985, dir. ???)

I’m Pilate and Jesus
And I wept when Lennon died
Yet I envied his assailant
When I visited the shrine
I cried for all those Beatle Fans
So old so quick they grow
I follow the example to destroy
What I love most

And I remain on the far side of crazy
I remain the mortal enemy of man
No hundred dollar cure will save me
Can’t stay a boy in no man’s land

I intended this to follow up my post on John Lennon’s Imagine as what could be called the dark flip-side to that video based on the events of 1980 and 1981. Health issues pushed it until today.

You might recognize the title as a line from a poem written by John Hinckley, Jr. He is the one who attempted to assassinate Ronald Reagan in 1981.

The video starts off almost like a reintroduction to the band for those who only remember the Western-inspired sound of the Stan Ridgway years. They are outside in the desert when they come across a clown sitting, not on a suitcase, but a television.

Those lyrics at the start kick in as we are introduced to our main character played by then lead-singer, Andy Prieboy.

He is a bit of an amalgamation of Mark Chapman, who killed John Lennon, and John Hinkley, Jr, who shot Reagan, wounded two agents and the press secretary. They also make several references to the character of Travis Bickle from Taxi Driver (1976), such as our main character going crazy while watching TV. Numerous psychologically pivotal scenes take place while Bickle is in his apartment watching television.

We pan over a family portrait where only his face is shown clearly before crossing their adjoining wall to see the light version of our character.

He sees himself as a budding musician sitting in his room practicing with his guitar.

Taxi Driver (1976, dir. Martin Scorsese)

It’s at this point in the song when we get the next verse:

I once hid my lust for stardom
Like a filthy magazine
I stroked the shaft on my guitar
And watched you on the screen
I’ve become now what I wanted
To be all along
A psychopathic poet
The Devil’s bastard son

The two sides start to blend. We see this begin to happen when the dark one is delivered a heart-shaped box with roaches inside…

while the other one has the box, but with chocolates inside.

Taxi Driver (1976, dir. Martin Scorsese)

This time he is watching the clown smashing a guitar on TV.

On the dark side, we see him laying down playing cards–kings–in front of the TV before he looks up as if God is speaking to him.

We see him get a gun in a scene reminiscent of another video.

Shooting Shark by Blue Öyster Cult (1983)

Then we get the equivalent to when Travis Bickle finally pushes his television too far, causing it to fall over and break.

Taxi Driver (1976, dir. Martin Scorsese)

The clown without makeup flips the cards through the screen to himself in makeup.

Note the TV on the left, in the background.

We also see the family portrait fall to the ground and shatter.

For the final verse, we get a reference to Hinckley, whose attempt to kill Reagan was done in order to try to impress Jodie Foster.

I shot an actor for an actress
But he lived to make a joke
Shot two other men who could have been
The bodies of my folks
I stagger toward the future
I stagger day to day
Plot revenge inside of darkness
I am withering in pain

Visually, we get another reference back to Taxi Driver (1976). The band walks down the street, our character walks alone looking normal, and finally we seem him in killer mode.

Taxi Driver (1976, dir. Martin Scorsese)

Taxi Driver (1976, dir. Martin Scorsese)

This is when the video pivots. Up till now, we’ve been building towards some tragic event. In Taxi Driver, it was when Bickle went into where Iris (Jodie Foster) was being held and killed everyone inside except her. Instead, we appear to get our character, before any madness, awakening to this all having been on television…

which he pulls the plug on.

The clown films the band and others in front of the Hollywood Boulevard “You Are A Star” mural.

Finally, the band is back in the desert walking away from the clown, a baby, part of the album title, and the dog from the music video for Mexican Radio.

Mexican Radio by Wall Of Voodoo (1983)

I can’t find a confirmed directing credit on this one. Still, I am pretty sure it was Francis Delia.

  1. He directed Mexican Radio by Wall Of Voodoo. That means he had a pre-existing relationship with the band. Also, while I haven’t seen it yet, I’ve read that Wall Of Voodoo music was used in Francis Delia’s first film called Nightdreams (1981).
  2. We got the callback of the dog.
  3. We got the bit with the gun from earlier that was also present in Shooting Shark. He directed that video.
  4. We see the iguana on a guitar alive. In Mexican Radio it was dead.
  5. Nightdreams (1981) is famous for a food sex-scene. Both this video and Mexican Radio feature food. In the case of this video, it’s the can opening on TV. It’s all over Mexican Radio. You can also see food featured in Somebody’s Watching Me by Rockwell–directed by Delia. He seems to have a thing for incorporating that into the films he makes.
  6. TVs play a role in Mexican Radio, Somebody’s Watching Me, and this one. He both produced and shot 1982’s Café Flesh. That’s the movie that was sampled by White Zombie for their song More Human Than Human. It is about a post-apocalyptic club where the few who can still have sex are forced to perform for those who can’t. All of these have to do with borders between viewing and performing.
  7. If you watch Delia’s material in general, this screams of his work.
  8. Finally, he made a movie called Freeway three years after this video. It had a psychopathic priest played by Billy Drago going around murdering people on the freeway because of some sort of holy mission.

Freeway (1988, dir. Francis Delia)

Freeway (1988, dir. Francis Delia)

Freeway (1988, dir. Francis Delia)

Freeway (1988, dir. Francis Delia)

It isn’t a guarantee that he made it because Delia also worked with Stephen Sayadian who I’ve read directed the weird video for Wall Of Voodoo’s cover of The Beach Boys’ song Do It Again. But I think it’s a safe bet.

This is one of my favorite videos that I have covered so far. I think it does a good job of taking us into the madness of this person’s mind using two real world, and then recent, people as examples. Then pulling us back out. It’s not like the ridiculous ending to the restored version of Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange where Alex gives up his life of crime because you have reached the 21st chapter of the book–alleged age of maturity. We also don’t get the ending of Taxi Driver where we know it is only going to buildup again. It comes across to me as an embracement of being a little bit crazy, but ultimately leaving the child and the clown behind. We were just visiting, like the full title of the album says, “Seven Days In Sammystown”.


30 Days Of Surrealism:

  1. Street Of Dreams by Rainbow (1983, dir. Storm Thorgerson)
  2. Rock ‘n’ Roll Children by Dio (1985, dir. Daniel Kleinman)
  3. The Thin Wall by Ultravox (1981, dir. Russell Mulcahy)
  4. Take Me Away by Blue Öyster Cult (1983, dir. Richard Casey)
  5. Here She Comes by Bonnie Tyler (1984, dir. ???)
  6. Do It Again by Wall Of Voodoo (1987, dir. ???)
  7. The Look Of Love by ABC (1982, dir. Brian Grant)
  8. Eyes Without A Face by Billy Idol (1984, dir. David Mallet)
  9. Somebody New by Joywave (2015, dir. Keith Schofield)
  10. Twilight Zone by Golden Earring (1982, dir. Dick Maas)
  11. Schism by Tool (2001, dir. Adam Jones)
  12. Freaks by Live (1997, dir. Paul Cunningham)
  13. Loverboy by Billy Ocean (1984, dir. Maurice Phillips)
  14. Talking In Your Sleep by The Romantics (1983, dir. ???)
  15. Talking In Your Sleep by Bucks Fizz (1984, dir. Dieter Trattmann)
  16. Sour Girl by Stone Temple Pilots (2000, dir. David Slade)
  17. The Ink In The Well by David Sylvian (1984, dir. Anton Corbijn)
  18. Red Guitar by David Sylvian (1984, dir. Anton Corbijn)
  19. Don’t Come Around Here No More by Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers (1985, dir. Jeff Stein)
  20. Sweating Bullets by Megadeth (1993, dir. Wayne Isham)
  21. Clear Nite, Moonlight or Clear Night, Moonlight by Golden Earring (1984, dir. Dick Maas)
  22. Clowny Clown Clown by Crispin Glover (1989, dir. Crispin Glover)
  23. Black Hole Sun by Soundgarden (1994, dir. Howard Greenhalgh)
  24. Total Eclipse Of The Heart by Bonnie Tyler (1983, dir. Russell Mulcahy)
  25. Harden My Heart by Quarterflash (1981, dir. ???)
  26. Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This) by Eurythmics (1983, dir. Jon Roseman & Dave Stewart)

A Movie A Day #259: Take This Job And Shove It (1981, directed by Gus Trikonis)

Originally from a small town in Iowa, Frank Macklin (Robert Hays) is a hotshot young executive with The Ellison Group.  When Frank is assigned to manage and revitalize a failing brewery in his hometown, it is a chance for Frank to rediscover his roots.  His childhood friends (played by actors like David Keith, Tim Thomerson, and Art Carney) may no longer trust him now that Frank wears a tie but it only takes a few monster truck rallies and a football game in a bar for Frank to show that he is still one of them.  However, Frank discovers that the only reason that he was sent to make the brewery profitable was so that his bosses could sell it to a buffoonish millionaire who doesn’t know the first thing about how to run a business.  Will Frank stand by while his bosses screw over the hardworking men and women of the heartland?  Or will he say, “You can take this job and shove it?”

Named after a country music song and taking place almost entirely in places stocked with beer, Take This Job And Shove It is a celebration of all things redneck.  This movie is so redneck in nature that a major subplot involves monster trucks.  Bigfoot, one of the first monster trucks, gets plenty of screen time and, in some advertisements, was given higher billing than Art Carney.

A mix of low comedy and sentimental drama, Take This Job And Shove It is better than it sounds.  In some ways, it is a prescient movie: the working class frustrations and the anger at being forgotten in a “booming economy” is the same anger that, 35 years later, would be on display during the election of 2016.  Take This Job And Shove It also has an interesting and talented cast, most of whom rise above the thinly written dialogue.  Along with Hays, Keith, Thomerson, Bigfoot, and Carney, keep an eye out for: Eddie Albert, Royal Dano, James Karen, Penelope Milford, Virgil Frye, George “Goober” Lindsey, and Barbara Hershey (who, as usual, is a hundred times better than the material she has to work with).

One final note: Martin Mull plays Hays’s corporate rival.  His character is named Dick Ebersol.  Was that meant to be an inside joke at the expense of the real Dick Ebersol, who has the executive producer of Saturday Night Live when Take This Job and Shove It was filmed and who later became the president of NBC Sports?

A Lot Going For “It”

Trash Film Guru

As a general rule of thumb, when you give Stephen King material the “Spielberg Treatment,” good things happen — just ask Rob Reiner, who did it twice and found critical and box office success on both occasions. Admittedly, the opportunities to make nominally “family-friendly” populist blockbusters based on novels by a guy billed as the “Master of Horror” are few and far between, but still — when you can find ’em, you gotta take ’em. Especially when there’s (for reasons I can’t really fathom, but that’s neither here nor there) a bona fide 1980s revival going on. So, yeah, in a very real sense, director Anthony Muschietti’s cinematic adaptation of It has all the pop culture stars aligned in its favor. And yet —

Plenty of other sure-fire “successes” that were served up equally easy slow pitches over the middle of the plate somehow managed to swing and miss, didn’t they?…

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Music Video of the Day: Star Trekkin’ by The Firm (1987, dir. Pete Bishop & Marc Kitchen-Smith)

Seeing as an episode of Star Trek: Discovery is going to air once tonight, I thought I would spotlight the “classic” ear-worm, Star Trekkin’. This thing was unleashed on the public back in 1987 by a group who did novelty songs called The Firm.

The story on the video is that the song was such a success that they knew that it would be expected of them to appear on Top Of The Pops. They didn’t want to do that since, as one of their members put it, a “bunch of balding thirty-something’s…would kill the whole fun element of the thing stone dead!”

The video was originally going to be animated. They went to several production companies, but it was too expense and they needed the video quickly. Luckily, one of the companies they approached were a team of art college graduates who put this claymation video together for them. Each of the characters were based on different kinds of food.

They were so rushed that they only had hours to spare after they finished it before it was set to air on Top Of The Pops. I think they did a pretty job considering the rush.

I love the ants.

It reminds me of the famous animal-selfie case with Naruto as well as people discovering that technically national parks can fine you if you use any picture you take on their land for commercial purposes. I’m not kidding.

The origin of the song comes from a parody of the song I Am The Music Man.

It became I Am The Star Trek Man.

I’m not what you would call a Trekkie. Regardless, I am looking forward to the new series…sort of. I guess I will be able to see the first episode–usually awful–and then nothing else??? It’ll end up somewhere. I’ll see it eventually. I’m not signing up for a single channel’s service though.

Enjoy! The music video at least.

A Movie A Day #258: The Hunting Party (1971, directed by Don Medford)

Old west outlaw Frank Calder (Oliver Reed) wants to learn how to read so he and his gang ride into the nearby town and kidnap Melissa Ruger (Candice Bergen).  Because he saw her reading to a group of children, Calder assumed that Melissa was a school teacher.  Instead, Melissa is the wife of a brutal cattle baron and hunter named Brandt Ruger (Gene Hackman).  Even after Calder learns the truth about Melissa’s identity, he keeps it a secret from his gang because he knows that they would kill her and then kill him as punishment for kidnapping the wife of a man as powerful as Brandt.  Stockholm Syndrome kicks in and Melissa starts to fall in love with Calder.  Meanwhile, Brandt learns that his wife has been kidnapped and, with a group of equally brutal friends, he sets out to get her back.  In Brandt’s opinion, Calder has stolen his personal property.  Using a powerful and newly designed rifle, Brandt kills Calder’s men one-by-one until there is a final, bloody confrontation in the desert.

Coming out two years after Sam Peckinpah redefined the rules of the western genre with The Wild Bunch, The Hunting Party owes a clear debt to Peckinpah.  Much as in The Wild Bunch, the violence is sudden, brutal, and violent.  What The Hunting Party lacks is Peckinpah’s attention to detail and his appreciation for the absurd.  Instead, The Hunting Party is just one shooting after another and, devoid of subtext or any hint of a larger context, it quickly gets boring.

Fans of Oliver Reed, however, will want to watch The Hunting Party because it features one of his best performance.  For once, Reed is actually playing the nice guy.  He may be an outlaw but he still cries when a mortally wounded member of his gang begs Calder to put him out of his misery.  Gene Hackman is also good, even though he’s playing one of his standard villain roles.  (The less said about Candice Bergen’s performance, the better.)  The Hunting Party may be dully nihilistic but Oliver Reed shines.