The Ace of Hearts, In The Noir Hotel…

Noe undergarments, by Paola & MurrayMore Scenes From The Noir Hotel: It’s all that wasted time getting gussied up in her fanciest frillies and frocks, even though the dress usually ends up hanging on a hook on the door soon after she gets there. It’s all that lounging about in another one of these by-the-hour hot-sheet hotels they end up in, ‘cuz they’re the only ones that’ll still take cash and keep these rendezvous of theirs off the credit card statements. It’s all that anxious waiting alone there in just her skimpies, till he can make some excuse, get away for a couple of hours to meet her here, where she’s been sipping from a pint bottle of rye whiskey that she doesn’t even care for, emptying a pack of Marlboro Longs, and tossing cards onto piles in a painfully long game of solitaire, which may be the only way she’ll ever draw an ace of hearts in this goin’ nowhere affair…

(Paola & Murray for Noe Lingerie)

“The light of one unique moment”: Victoria Selbach

1Victoria Selbach’s website doesn’t offer much in the way of background or bio, but the artist’s statement tells us much about her aims with her large format acrylic on canvas paintings. She explains, “I am captivated and drawn to the human form, the glow and spirit that comes from within…the human presence stripped bare of pretense and accoutrements is simply alive, revealing a deeply personal identity, present in the light of one unique moment.” There’s more, but who can argue with the artist’s interest in exploring figures, and specifically, how they are seen in dramatic light and shadow. The poses are usually quite still and sedentary, but the paintings don’t lack for visual drama, since the subject’s are illuminated by harsh light, and partially hidden by mysterious shadows. The work is stark, the figures often quite unglamorous, but undeniably beautiful as rendered by Selbach’s brush. Do go to victoriaselbach.com and view more for yourself.

234victoriaselbach.comThe artist

Still “transgressive”, or just more ‘Vamp-erotica’ now?

tumblr_nbvhirijbB1thrcsao1_500Fangoria’s #334/July 2014 (mentioned a couple posts back) had more to offer vampire enthusiasts than just its excellent interview with filmmaker Werner Herzog about his 1979 remake of F.W. Murnau’s classic Nosferatu. Editor Chris Alexander also penned a full page update on yet another vampire film remake, Spanish director Victor Matellano’s soon-to-release version of countryman Jose Ramon Larraz’ cult-classic Vampyres from 1974.

Several years after its release, I had the pleasure to see that film on a big screen in, of all places, a huge old downtown movie palace, by then on its very last legs and running a truly bizarre bunch of films before it finally closed its doors. I won’t say that Larraz’ Vampyres is a ‘great’ piece of cinema. I’ll leave filmmaking analysis to the film studies students and qualified critics. But, speaking as an ardent fan of vampire films, I’ll definitely say that Vampyres is a truly memorable film, even if it accomplished this as much by happy accident as by its artistic merit. It lured me into its web (as it was intended to) and then genuinely shocked me (also as it was intended to), and re-watching it on the small screen a number of times since hasn’t changed that one bit. (Skip back to my multi-part post on that 1974 exploitation classic — ‘My Guiltiest of Guilty Pleasures’ posts from September 201)).

tumblr_nbvhirijbB1thrcsao2_1280As for the remake…well, I really don’t understand remakes at all. In this case, are sexy naked omni-sexual vampires really so unique a concept that a filmmaker couldn’t just come up with his own scenario, slap together a script and start shooting?

tumblr_nbvhirijbB1thrcsao3_500Director Matellano explains that Larraz’ original is a “cult-movie masterpiece, and the reason it has resonated so greatly is that, for its time, it was incredibly transgressive. Vampyres set aside the traditional canons of the vampire genre, providing more realism and explicit sex…” Fair enough. But still…why a remake? Matellano provides no explanation. He did co-write the screenplay with the original’s maker, Jose Larraz (who passed away in September 2013), and in it, they tried to provide some character motivation and coherence that the original lacked (the original’s screenplay was cobbled together in 6 days, which may actually be a leisurely pace for Euro-sleaze sexploitation films).

tumblr_nbvhirijbB1thrcsao4_1280The remake apparently tries to out-do the original in some aspects. Matellano notes, “The big contributions of the first Vampyres were the sex and the blood. This version preserves the sex, the blood and the perversion, but we tried to go beyond. This one is more violent, gorier and very sexual…watching footage in the editing room, I wondered if we had gone too far.”

Do get your hands on a copy of Fangoria #334 (July 2014) and read the full article for yourself.

 

For me, Larraz’ Vampyres was memorable for its blend of dreamy yet explicit eroticism set amidst beautifully shot Gothic settings (one of the same estates and grounds Hammer and other UK horror filmmakers used, in fact), all of which would be violently and shockingly interrupted by some incredible acts of vicious vampirism. Seeing it the first time, and raised on revered but comparatively tepid Universal, Hammer and sundry other vampire films, I was genuinely shocked, and I’m not easily shocked. But it’s not 1974 anymore. Nearly forty years of horror cinema have rubbed our noses in virtually every conceivable bit of gratuitous violence and gore, aided and abetted by continually refined digital EFX that enable filmmakers to show things that were impractical, if not even inconceivable, forty years ago. As for ‘sex and perversion’? I don’t know if mainstream cinema actually has advanced much further in that realm, but a lazy scroll through On-Demand and DVD horror films can provide anyone with an overabundance of redundant boobs-n-blood non-theatrical release vampire films that are little more than soft (or hard) core sexploitation flicks with mail-order fangs, blood-smeared breasts, and boy-girl, girl-girl, girl-boy and boy-boy blood-drenched oral sex, whether its relying on victims’ menstrual blood for the vampires’ sustenance, or using the gents’ privates like a handy pop bottle straw. Frankly, I’ve pretty much given up on even trying them any more, unless I’ve read something encouraging online or in the horror press to recommend a new low-budget vampire flick.

The original’s stars, Marianne Morris and Anulka Dziubinska don’t even get cameos, though for some reason, 70’s horror icon Caroline Munro has a part, though I can’t imagine what it would be from my recollection of the original film’s cast of characters.

tumblr_nbvhirijbB1thrcsao5_1280Somehow, I won’t be surprised if Matellano’s Vampyres remake doesn’t make it to my local mall’s multiplex. But it’ll surely pop up in a RedBox or the cable companies’ on-demand services at some point. All right, I’ll be a dope and plunk down my coin to give it a fair viewing. But for some reason, I’m not expecting the same experience as the 1970’s original shocker provided…’transgressive’, indeed.

Still Waitin’…At The Noir Hotel

Kacie Marie by Damon LobleMore Scenes From The Noir Hotel: Time was she had a life. A decent job behind the notions counter at the department store. A tiny little flat in Uptown, a couple of sticks of furniture she didn’t owe anything on. Some groceries in the cupboard, decent clothes in the closet and stockings that didn’t come from the dime store. But that was all before she met Frankie, with his bedroom eyes and his magic hands that did things to her she never even imagined before. Frankie, with a sap in one pocket, a switchblade in the other, and big ideas ‘bout how she could dip into the cash register at work and no one would even notice. But they did, of course, so now the job’s a memory, the uptown flat’s gone and she’s marking time in this fleabag hotel, where she waits…waits and wonders how she let it all go bad, waits and wonders if Frankie will ever come ‘round again now that the two of them worked through that dough in a two-week binge, and those hands of his are probably working their dark magic on some other dumb frill…

(Kacie Marie by Damon Noble)