One Very Full “Dust Pam”

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

One of the crazier things to come down the pipeline in recent months — as well as one of the most endearing — has to be Thu Tran’s Dust Pam, a compact little 72-page Risograph-printed book published by Sweden’s Peow Studio that in many ways defies expectation, classification, perhaps even description. But around these parts we’re pretty goddamn hard-headed, so we never let that stop us from trying —

Presented in various gradations of white, mustard yellow, mouthwash green, and salmon pink, the aesthetics of Tran’s book are as singular as its subject matter : our protagonist is an anthropomorphic dust pan/cat hybrid who’s obsessed with keeping both her home and her workplace (Best Snacks Factory, where she cleans up cheese dust all day) absolutely spotless, but is constantly at war with a veritable army of insects that seem to pop back up as soon as she removes them…

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Ulmer Out West: THE NAKED DAWN (Universal-International 1955)

cracked rear viewer

A Technicolor modern-day Western noir directed by legendary low-budget auteur Edgar G. Ulmer ? Count me in! THE NAKED DAWN probably wouldn’t be remembered today if it weren’t for Ulmer, who had a knack for making silk purses out of sow’s ears. Ulmer uses the outdoor locations and his trademark tight shots to disguise the budgetary restrictions, and creates a small gem of a movie. It’s not THE SEARCHERS  or anything, just a compact little drama with a rare starring role for actor Arthur Kennedy .

Kennedy plays Santiago, an ex-revolutionary turned bandito. He’s a drifter, unfettered by societal norms, whose lust for life and freedom are constantly threatened by the powers that be. A metaphor for Ulmer himself, perhaps? Santiago robs a train of some merchandise, and his friend Vicente is killed in the process. Stumbling upon God-fearing Maria and her husband Manuel on their modest farm, Santiago’s roguish…

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Film Review: Hard Ticket To Hawaii (dir by Andy Sidaris)

I absolutely love Hawaii.

Years ago, my family spent a wonderful summer in Hawaii.  I’m not a swimmer and I have a morbid fear of drowning but oh my God, I loved walking along the Hawaiian beach.  It was the most incredibly beautiful place that I had ever seen.  The water was so blue.  The trees were so green.  And the people … oh my God, the people were so friendly and generous!  I have never had more drugs randomly offered to me than when I was walking on the back in Hawaii.  Even the screaming homeless people in Hawaii seemed nicer than the screaming homeless people on the mainland.

Of course, the truth is that no place is perfect.  Undoubtedly, Hawaii had its dark side.  I mean, just look at the 1987 film, Hard Ticket to Hawaii.

Directed by Andy Sidaris and officially the second film in his Triple B (Bullets, Bombs, and Babes) franchise, Hard Ticket To Hawaii has been described as being the greatest B-movie ever move.  I don’t know if I’d go that far but it’s certainly the only Andy Sidaris film to ever air on TCM.

Hard Ticket To Hawaii tells the story about … well, actually, it tells a lot of stories.  This is a Sidaris film, which means that it’s collection of bad puns, double entendres, cartoonish violence, and totally random scenes that don’t really link up to anything else in the film.

For instance, there’s a scene where a sportscaster interviews two former football players and has a panic attack when he thinks that the N-word has been broadcast on national television.  But then it turns out that the feed went out before the word was uttered so … hey, problem solved.  And it’s never spoken of again.

And then there’s an aging actress and a sleazy producer and they have a few scenes before they vanish from the film.  I’m not sure why they were in the film in the first place.  Maybe they were friends of Andy Sidaris.

And then there’s the giant mutant snake.  It says something about the narrative strangeness of Hard Ticket To Hawaii that the giant mutant snake is just a relatively minor subplot.

The actual plot begins when two innocent Molokai cops are executed by some smug drug dealers.  “Ah!” you say, “it’s going to be a film about drug runners!”  No, actually it’s a film about diamond smugglers because the whole drug things get abandoned fairly quickly.

A stash of stolen diamonds is accidentally recovered by Donna (Dona Speir) and Taryn (Hope Marie Carlton).  Donna and Taryn work for Molokai Cargo.  They transport packages and they take tourists around the island.  Except, Donna is also a secret government agent and apparently, Taryn is in the witness protection program.

Anyway, they not only find the stolen diamonds but they also lose the aforementioned mutant snake.  With the smugglers determined to get the diamonds, Dona calls in Rowdy Abeline (Ronn Mass), cousin of Cody Abeline who was the lead character in Malibu Express.  As soon as Rowdy arrives on the island, he is targeted by an assassin on a skateboard.  The assassin is carrying a gun and sex doll but he didn’t consider that Rowdy would have a bazooka in the back of his jeep.

Meanwhile, there’s a guy named Shades who just hangs out on the beach while holding a submachine gun.  He’s guarding something and Rowdy knows that he needs to get by Shades.  Fortunately, a local woman always play frisbee with Shades.

“Good,” Rowdy says, “I can use that.”

And use that he does.

Now, this may all seem incredibly stupid but last year, the Alamo Drafthouse showed the frisbee scene before a showing of Free Fire and the audience went crazy.  Seriously, it’s an iconic scene, even if it doesn’t make any sense.  And hey, now I know what to say that next time a total stranger tells me that I have a nice ass.

You too, Pilgrim!

Hard Ticket To Hawaii is insane.  (I haven’t even mentioned half of the crazy stuff that happens in this movie.)  It makes absolutely no sense but it’s so quickly paced that it doesn’t matter.  Hard Ticket To Hawaii cheerfully embraces its weirdness.  It may not be any good but it is a lot of fun.

Add to that, Hawaii, as always, looks great!

Book Review: Live and Let Die By Ian Fleming

(Minor Spoilers)

Having recovered from both the horrific torture he suffered in Casino Royale and the suicide of Vesper Lynd, British secret agent James Bond is ready to return to the field.  His latest mission takes him to America, where his job is to investigate Mr. Big.  Mr. Big is Harlem-based gangster who is suspected of helping to finance Russian operations through his criminal enterprises.

(Specifically, Mr. Big has been selling 17th Century gold coins that are believed to be a part of a legendary pirate treasure that was buried somewhere in Jamaica.  Ian Fleming knew his pirate lore and devotes a good deal of the beginning of the book to discussing Sir Henry Morgan.)

In America, Bond partners up with his old friend Felix Leiter but he soon discovers that taking down Mr. Big is not as easy as he thought it would be.  Using the fear of voodoo to control his minions, Mr. Big has agents all across America.  As well, Mr. Big also has the services of Solitaire, a beautiful Creole fortune teller.  The case takes Bond and Felix from New York to Florida to Jamaica.  It also costs one of them a leg and an arm.  In order to maintain some suspense, I will refrain from revealing who gets attacked by a shark.

Reading the original James Bond novels can be enjoyable but it can also lead to a good deal of culture shock.  Because Bond is constantly changing in the movies and the role is regularly recast, we tend to forget just how long the character of James Bond has been around.  In the movies, Bond is forever the same age and his villains and their plots continually change to reflect whatever’s going on in the world.  In SPECTRE, Blofeld was even reinvented as a bored Christoph Waltz.

The books, however, are frozen in time.  They all reflect the attitudes and concerns of the time period in which they were written.  That can often make for a fascinating read but it can also leave modern readers cringing.  Ian Fleming was a man of his time and he shared both the strengths and the weaknesses of his time and his class.  That’s a polite way of saying that, in the Bond novels, Fleming tends to treat anyone who is not British, white, and male with, at best, a patronizingly condescending attitude.  (At worst, Fleming treats them with outright disdain.)  That’s especially obvious in Live and Let Die, in which Mr. Big and all of his henchmen are black.

Live and Let Die was first published in 1954.  Interestingly enough, Fleming doesn’t come across as being as prejudiced as some of his contemporaries.  For instance, even when the action moves the American south, the n-word never appears in the book.  (Then again, neither do any redneck sheriffs.)  I wouldn’t call Fleming a racial progressive but, at the same time, it’s obvious that he means it to be the highest compliment when Bond describes Mr. Big as being the “first great Negro criminal.”  But then Fleming introduces us to two sympathetic black characters who do nothing but happily take orders from Bond and then he starts writing dialogue in phonetic dialect and you just find yourself cringing and saying, “Oh my God, Ian, stop it!”

Here’s what does work as far as Live and Let Die is concerned: Mr. Big is a great villain, far less of a wimp than Casino Royale‘s Le Chiffre.  As well, James Bond is a far more active character in this book and less whiny than he was in Casino Royale.  Bond once again gets tortured but he doesn’t threaten to quit the service just because his finger gets broken.  Instead, he seeks revenge.

As an American, it was interesting for me to read Fleming’s thoughts on my home country.  While Bond seems quite comfortable in New York, both he and Felix are absolutely miserable in Florida.  In fact, Fleming portrays Florida as being Hell on Earth, hot and full of ill-tempered old people.  It’s impossible not to be amused by just how viscerally Fleming disliked Florida.

Finally, Fleming’s skills as a storyteller were even stronger in Live and Let Die than in Casino Royale.  I mean, whatever else you might say about the book, who can resist that perfect one line dismissal of a opponet: “He disagreed with something that ate him.”

Tomorrow, we take a look at Moonraker!

Music Video of the Day: Doctorin’ The Tardis by The Timelords (1988, directed by ????)

Today’s music video is for the song that Melody Maker called “”pure, unadulterated agony!”

Recorded in 1988, Doctorin’ The Tardis was produced by Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty, who would later be better known as The KLF.  The song is a mash-up of the Doctor Who theme music, Gary Glitter’s Rock and Roll (Part Two), Sweet’s Blockbuster, Steve Walsh’s Let Get Together, and the famous Dalek war cry.  The song was Drummond and Cauty’s attempt to write a number one hit single, as opposed to the more esoteric and socially conscious work for which they were better known.

As Drummond explained it,  “We went into the studio on a Monday, thinking we were going to make a house track, a regular underground dance house track using the Doctor Who theme tune… [but] we [then] realised it was in triplet time and you can’t have house tracks in triplet time. The only beat that would work with it was the Glitter beat. By Tuesday evening we realised we had a number one and we just went totally for the lowest common denominator.”  Drummond also later said that Doctorin’ The Tardis was, “the most nauseating record of all time.”

While the critics may have agreed with Drummond, the music-buying public loved the song and Doctorin’ The Tardis spent a week as number one on the UK pop charts.  Drummond and Cauty responded by writing a book called The Manual (How To Have A Number One The Easy Way), which was advertised as being a guide to how to have a number one hit record without having any musical talent whatsoever.  Among The Manual‘s advise: Be on the dole and, if you’re already a musician, stop playing your instrument and sell it.  The Manual also warned that all of its advice will be obsolete within twelve months.

The video, which cost £8,000 to make, was filmed in Wiltshire and features Cauty’s 1968 Ford Galaxie police car being pursued by some poorly constructed Daleks.


This is what a real Dalek looks like, son.