Sunday, September 14, 2014

An important message about my book, Funky Bollywood

About my book Funky Bollywood I have good news and bad news. Fortunately, it is only mildly bad news and very, very good news. I have just signed with the UK's FAB Press, those reputed purveyors of high quality niche cinema books, to publish and distribute Funky Bollywood throughout North America, Europe and the UK. This puts it in the company of some of the finest books on cult cinema in recent memory, such as Stephen Thrower's Nightmare USA, Jasper Sharp's Behind the Pink Curtain, and Mark Schilling's No Borders, No Limits: Nikkatsu Action Cinema, to name but a few.

Needless to say, this is an announcement I am very proud to make. With FAB's support, not only will the reach and accessibility of Funky Bollywood be greatly increased, but also its quality. The book, which I had originally planned to self publish in black and white in order to keep costs to both me and the consumer down, will now have the benefit of full color printing. This means that both Bollywood and the stunning design work of my good friend Andrew Nahem will get the lavish treatment that they so deserve. Good news, indeed.

And now for the bad: In order to give the book the treatment it deserves, in terms of both production and advance promotion, FAB has requested a delay of the release date. Thus, my original release date -- which was, um, next weekend -- has been cancelled, replaced by a date sometime in 2015 that is to be announced. To those who were looking forward to having the book in their grasp within the next week, I offer my humblest and most sincere apologies. But, as consolation, please know that, at the end of that longer wait lies a product of a much higher quality than what you would have had otherwise.

I am also sorry to be delivering this news so late. Sadly, my experience as a musician has made me cynical and loathe to shoot my mouth off about any kind of "deal" until the ink has dried. Well, now it has dried, and all you and I have to do is wait for the publication date, which I will notify you of as soon as I know. And please know that I am every bit as impatient as you are, but that I will strive mightily to keep us all distracted with all the cool stuff that I have coming up on 4DK.

And on that note, I want to thank all of you for your continued readership and support, without which I am sure I would never be in the position to deliver this thrilling -- albeit, for you, perhaps somewhat disappointing -- news. Stick with me, people! We can do this!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Of wild women and were-beasts

They came from as far away as Tokyo for last night's Shout Down, and The Twilight People rewarded them generously. Simmering bromance, Pam Grier writhing sensuously in tiny clothes, and a literal batman were among the wonders on display. And now those of you who missed the "live" experience can witness it via the neatly condensed Storify transcript linked below:

The 4DK Monthly Movie Shout Down:
The Twilight People on Storify

And now a preview of next month's feature, as the 4DK Monthly Movie Shout Down celebrates Halloween with class:

It's all happening Tuesday, October 7th at 6pm PT. For my thoughts on Bloody Pit of Horror, a tremendously fun and stupid movie, see my Teleport City review here.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Tonight! The 4DK Monthly Movie Shout Down goes hybrid with THE TWILIGHT PEOPLE!

It could be said that participating in the 4DK Monthly Movie Shout Down has slowly stripped the Shout Down crew of its humanity, reducing us to an animal state in which we roam the internet in packs, hunting for ever more bizarre films to sink our teeth into.

Tonight, the steaming carcass on which we will feast is THE TWILIGHT PEOPLE, a Roger Corman-backed U.S./Philippines co-production that pays lurid homage to "The Island of Dr. Moreau". All you have to do to gorge along with us is sign on to Twitter at 6pm PT sharp and, using the hashtag #4DKMSD and the handy link below, tweet your reactions to the wonders unfolding before you.

To be honest, this is actually a pretty entertaining film, as I pointed out in my Teleport City review , so, if you can, you should at least join us for the watch-along aspect of the evening, even if you are not moved to comment. We'll be looking for you.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Next Tuesday: The 4DK Monthly Movie Shout Down goes dark with THE TWILIGHT PEOPLE!

Most 4DK readers would head for the hills at the slightest mention of Twilight... Wait! Come back! You see, The Twilight People, the subject of next Tuesday's Monthly Movie Shout Down, is not that kind of a Twilight movie. Instead it's one of those Philippines-shot, Roger Corman produced horror fantasies that happens to feature a young Pam Grier as a ferocious -- albeit sexy -- human/cat hybrid. It's actually very entertaining, blissfully free of sparkly vampires, abstinence messaging, or hollow-eyed Hollywood ingenues. For further testimony as to it being tolerable, why not check out my review of the film over at Teleport City. Or, hey, just check out this trailer I made on my phone:

Sold? Good. Then join us on Twitter, next Tuesday, September 9th, at 6:00 pm PDT as, using the hashtag #4DKMSD, we tweet along to this choice piece of Pinoy-sploitation. It would behoove you to do so!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Friday's best pop song ever

Likely to reoffend

Last night's Pop Offensive was not perfect. There were a couple flubbed cues, some ill-advised planned "bits", and an unpleasant digression on the subject of Justin Bieber-themed dental supplies. Still, where else will you find pop icons like Brigitte Bardot, Paul Revere & The Raiders, and The Bobby Fuller Four rubbing elbows with such far flung, bygone international stars as Turkey's Ajda Pekkan, Cambodia's Houy Meas, and Japan's The Golden Cups under the same musical roof? You can now either stream the episode from the 9th Floor Radio's archives or download it, podcast stylee, here.

Now, don't forget to brush!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Pop Offensive returns this Wednesday!

Pop Offensive's tireless battle to make the internet airwaves safe for nuggets of every shade and tempo continues this Wednesday, August 27th, as Jeff Heyman and I once again take over the studio at Peralta College's 9th Floor Radio to bring you two hours of rowdy pop, dance and movie tunes from around the world. The fun starts at 7pm and can be streamed live from the 9th Floor site (and, hey, if you miss it, you can always stream the archived version of the episode, podcast style, here.)

But wait, that's not all! In another example of us constantly trying to improve the Pop Offensive listening experience, those who want to reach out to us during the show can now do so with even more ease by tweeting us at the official Pop Offensive radio Twitter account at @PopOffRadio. And if that doesn't give you enough access, feel free to post on our Facebook page. It's the next best thing to having Jeff and Me right there in the room with you, serenading you in your bed... and probably a lot less creepy.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Agente 00 Sexy (Mexico, 1968)

If I have mentioned Agente 00 Sexy many times before, it is likely because of pictures like this:

That picture promises a lot, as does the title Agente 00 Sexy. And because of that, you will probably be just as surprised as I was to find that Agente 00 Sexy, out of all the goofy spy spoofs to come out of Mexico during the 1960s, is among the most sedate. It is bloodless, in fact, and very low on thrills, aiming instead for a comic amiability that, were it not for the rich helping of cheesecake supplied by former Miss California and current California real estate agent Amedee Chabot, would render it downright -- gasp! -- family friendly.

What it does share with other Mexi-spy capers of its era, aside from an appreciation for Chabot’s curves, is the unique conviction that a campy espionage thriller provides the ideal platform for showcasing the current pop acts of the day. The chief beneficiary of this is Mike Laure, practitioner of a tropically influenced breed of Latin American pop known as Cumbia, who not only stars as himself but also performs a generous selection of musical numbers.

Agente 00 Sexy begins with hapless nice guy Ernesto (Fernando Lujan) arriving in Mexico City with a guitar in his hands and dreams of stardom in his heart. He makes haste to the television studio, where he soon meets cute with nice girl Gloria (Irma Lozano), who introduces him to Laure and helps him get an audition in front of the studio bigwigs. This would seem like good news for Ernesto, until he opens his mouth to sing, at which point issues forth something that sounds like the audio of a snuff film starring Fred (and, seriously, to give Fernando Lujan credit, his rendering of Ernesto’s wounded mewling is legitimately hilarious). Meanwhile, every studio in the building is buzzing with the latest sounds from teen town, as the cameras capture an extended procession of guitar-slinging pretty boys. You’d think the telenovela had never been invented.

His dreams handily smashed, Ernesto takes his guitar and wanders out into the night, where he is soon caught in a shootout between police and what I honestly believe is meant to be a gang of Nazi Mafiosos. The gang mistakes him for their leader, Louie -- who we will later learn, in a very Bollywood twist, is an exact double for Ernesto -- and hustles him into their getaway car. Soon he is ensconced at their penthouse hideout, where he meets Ernesto’s blonde bombshell of a girlfriend, Angora (Chabot). Angora is played not only as a dumb blonde, but, even worse, as a dumb gringa, spouting dialog that’s a noisome combination of yelled English and mangled Spanish. (Chabot, who had speaking roles in many Spanish language films without embarrassing herself, is clearly acting here.)

Ernesto’s repeated attempts to escape the gang fail resoundingly, as do his efforts to alert various authorities and passers-by to their criminal designs. Still, the suspicions of his thick witted gangster companions are never roused. Finally, he is sent to Costa Rica with a case containing the loot from the gang’s latest robbery. There he meets up with Angora, along with Louie’s gullible toady El Nervios, who is played by Mexican comedian and radio personality Hector Lechuga. More bungling escape attempts follow, this time punctuated by nightclub musical numbers, until Ernesto returns with the gang to Mexico, only to be arrested by police as soon as his feet hit the tarmac.

Police official Colonel Gomez (Pancho Cordova) lets Ernesto in on the fact that the real Louie is in police custody and places it upon him to continue his masquerade in order to gather intelligence on the gang. And it is here, well into Agente 00 Sexy’s second hour, that we finally see it sleepily make a nod toward the genre that it is putatively lampooning, in that Ernesto is tricked out with a spy camera and microphone watch before being sent off to tremulously do his duty. Meanwhile, in an occurrence for which the phrase “as luck would have it” was minted, the real Louie is freed when a van he is being transferred in crashes, setting the stage for the two doubles to pair off against one another. This occurs at a fancy dress party at which Amedee Chabot models the skimpy cat costume in which all surviving publicity materials for Agente 00 Sexy picture her.

Those many posters and lobby cards, by the way, would lead you to believe that Amedee Chabot is the touted Agente Sexy, and it is only via a last second twist that they are given veracity. This, of course, is lazy and a con, yet we are still not left totally wanting for a protagonist. Fernando Lujan, it has to be said, is an interesting comedic presence -- especially when viewed alongside the mugging of quotation mark dependent purveyors of Mexican comic relief like Antonio “Clavillazo” Espino, German “Tin Tan” Valdez, and Eleazar “Chelelo” Garcia. Unlike them, he is not clownish in appearance, and is, in fact, delicately handsome, yet affects a blasé demeanor that gives him a quirky fascination. When we first meet him, riding in the back of a taxi to the television studio, he is literally rolling his eyes. It is only the event of his ear-flaying vocal audition that clues us in that he is a man separated from the world more by childlike naiveté than by jadedness. His being forcefully pulled into that world, with all its attendant mess and chaos, is thus given that much more comic bite.

It is true that Agente 00 Sexy lacks the rambunctiousness of more enjoyable Mexican spy spoofs like Cazadores de Espias, yet it is still a hard film to dislike. There’s an oddball appeal to its very 1960s notion of the spy film and rock and roll as being complimentary bedfellows, despite James Bond’s famous unwillingness to take on The Beatles without earmuffs. This is no doubt due more to both being signifiers of modernity than a reflection of reality. For, as we know, there is nothing less “rock and roll” than spies, who, in life, are emissaries of the cursed Establishment at its most malign and insidious. A buxom blonde in a revealing cat costume, however…