Friday October 28 through Thursday November 3 at IFC Center: $14.50
I’m hoping at least a few of you out there, like me, are cursed/blessed by a bizarro Pavlovian response to the words “No Fun”– whenever they’re uttered, even in passing, you immediately drop whatever or whoever you’re doing, wherever you may be, and start thrashing around like a seahorse at the tail end of his week-long soak in a Benzedrine bath.
Just as that excitable armless sea creature should be very careful not to hurt himself during his ecstatic celebration, try and exercise some restraint on this joyous occasion: Jim Jarmusch, fellow Stooges fan and certifiable weirdo, has made a documentary about “the greatest rock n’ roll band ever.”
We first told you about Gimme Danger aka The Stooges documentary back in September, when it was set to premiere at the New York Film Festival, but starting tomorrow when the movie opens at IFC Center, us proles will finally get a chance to see it too.
It’s true that rock docs are a dime a dozen these days, and what’s more, a whole bunch of critics have called Gimme Danger a rather “straightforward” film, as far as Jarmusch movies go, anyway. (Another article apparently written by a fortune teller boldly declared it’s “probably the most straightforward thing Jarmusch will ever make.”) But that’s the funny thing about the Stooges: Iggy and the Asheton brothers made aggressively uncomplicated music– aka “three-chord train to hell”– which legit laid the groundwork for the rock n’ roll, punk, post-punk, noise rock, you name it.
Jarmusch goes way back to the late ’60s, when the Stooges were just getting started in Ann Arbor, Michigan, a place where stories of their epic drunken careening still live on. My personal favorite completely unverified story and quite possibly an urban legend, offers an explanation as to why there’s a huge dent in an old train track overpass: as legend has it, the Ashetons were speeding down Liberty Street late one night, and caught some air when they hit a bump, which caused them to crash into the low-hanging bridge. Like magic, no one was hurt.
But maybe the most surreal scenes in Gimme Danger are the ones where Jarmusch and Iggy are sitting in a laundry room, discussing the immeasurably huge impact that the Stooges’ pioneering sound has had on rock music and music as a whole. The filmmaker introduces this wrinkly, skinny older man– who it seems will forever be immediately recognizable as Iggy Pop, no matter how old– not as Iggy Pop, as we might expect, but as Jim Osterberg. It’s jarring, but important because Jarmusch demonstrates that Iggy– excuse me, Jim– is/was a regular guy, who still speaks with a thick Midwestern accent and who somehow, by the grace of someone down in Hades, has survived to tell the tale of how four scrappy guys changed music forever.
It’s the ultimate Halloween-time event for film nerds, Spectacle’s sixth-annual Shriek Show. This year, they’re doing a seven-film marathon with around 14 hours of horror. Soak it all up or choose from one to any number of flavors on offer, from an old-timey haunted house movie (The Screaming Skull), to an ultra-low-budget murder rampage called Splatter Farm, there’s a bit of everything nasty to satisfy even the most perverted palettes.
There are a couple screening portions in pariticular that have me frothing at the mouth in the throes of hangry anticipation. These include a set by Radical Hardware, a group of film lovers who screen rare and underground features and shorts with an emphasis on 16mm and super 8, who recently got ahold of some Twilight Zone archival prints, which they’ll be sharing with all you Shriekers as part of their “Spare The Rod” presentation.
Another no-brainer is Women’s Flesh: My Red Guts, a super freaky Japanese horror film shot in 1999, which even Spectacle warns “is not for the faint of heart.” And they sort of sound serious, guys, so be careful out there. This baby features “finger eating, tongue slicing, dismal bathroom lighting, and flashbacks” among other HORRIFYING things. So get out there, but don’t go dangling your hands off the edge of the seat unless you’re cool with your neighbor munching your pinky off. It could happen.
Scorpio Rising and The Death Wheelers
Monday October 31, 7:30 pm at Light Industry: $8 at the door (box office opens at 7 pm)
It wouldn’t be a proper Halloween without Kenneth Anger, and lucky for us, Light Industry’s doing it right– in addition to Scorpio Rising they’re screening The Death Wheelers, a natural partner for their shared horror-biker vibes. It’s all happening on actual Halloween, which unfortunately falls on a godforsaken Monday/No Fun Day this year which means that even if you’re a sellout, you can attend, thanks to the very low risk of getting shit tanked at a movie. (I mean, unless you’re a total heathen, in which case, cheers!)
If you’re not obsessed with Kenneth Anger’s output already, Scorpio Rising is probably his best-known film, and maybe his most gorgeously hypnotic love letter to a Anger’s ultimate triangle of lust– bikers, boys, and the biggest, baddest Daddy Boy Toy himself– Lucifer.
The Death Wheelers, on the other hand, is not so much an occult art house film, as it is an under-appreciated cult, but it’s equally impressive for its own reasons.
Light Industry writes that Tom, “the leather-clad leader of a juvenile delinquent motorcycle club,” and golden boy of his Satanist family, is at the center of the film. He sets a fine example for his teenaged biker bros when “he kills himself and is interred, seated on his bike, in the middle of an ancient megalith circle.” The rest of the gang follow suit, and in no time at all Lucifer’s baby boys set off on a rampage of destruction and debauchery.
Truly, they’re setting an example for what all of us should be doing on Halloween. But don’t be deterred if you leave the theater feeling inspired, and just a little lost on where to begin your very own streak of mayhem. Just call on Satan, something tells me he’ll be able to help you out.