Kendra Steiner Editions

January 26, 2014

now available from VCI: THE JERRY WARREN COLLECTION, Volumes 1 & 2

mayan

Among the most exciting and anxiously awaited cult-film releases of the year, VCI Entertainment and Kit Parker films have brought us TWO volumes of JERRY WARREN films as part of VCI/Parker’s POSITIVELY NO REFUNDS series, previous entries of which have included WHITE GORILLA (which resembles a Jerry Warren film in some ways) and CUBAN REBEL GIRLS.

THE JERRY WARREN COLLECTION, VOLUME ONE:

MAN-BEAST (1956), THE WILD WORLD OF BATWOMAN (1966), CURSE OF THE STONE HAND (1964)

jerry warren one

THE JERRY WARREN COLLECTION, VOLUME TWO:

HOUSE OF THE BLACK DEATH (1965), ATTACK OF THE MAYAN MUMMY (1963), CREATURE OF THE WALKING DEAD (1965)

jerry warren two

SIX of Jerry Warren’s mind-bending features in the finest picture quality we’re ever likely to see, at a cost of about $5 per film. If you are not familiar with the body of Warren’s work, here’s a quick filmography…

the films of Jerry Warren:

MAN BEAST (1956–original film)

THE INCREDIBLE PETRIFIED WORLD (1957–original film)

TEENAGE ZOMBIES (1959–original film)

INVASION OF THE ANIMAL PEOPLE (1959–patchwork film)

TERROR OF THE BLOODHUNTERS (1962–original film)

ATTACK OF THE MAYAN MUMMY (1963–patchwork film)

A BULLET FOR BILLY THE KID (1963–patchwork film–this feature is presently considered LOST although the Mexican source film survives and can be seen online)

FACE OF THE SCREAMING WEREWOLF (1964–patchwork film–this not only cannibalizes footage from two Mexican features, but it also borrows original Warren footage from ATTACK OF THE MAYAN MUMMY–in fact, it features only a few minutes of “new” material, yet it’s in many people’s view Warren’s most fascinating film)

CURSE OF THE STONE HAND (1964–patchwork film)

CREATURE OF THE WALKING DEAD (1965–patchwork film)

HOUSE OF THE BLACK DEATH (circa 1965–this was an unfinished film directed by Harold Daniels to which Jerry Warren added new scenes with his “stock company” players such as Katherine Victor,  so in a sense it belongs in the “patchwork” category)

THE WILD WORLD OF BATWOMAN (1966–original film)

FRANKENSTEIN ISLAND (1981–original film)

Warren’s films fall into two basic categories: those which were original creations  (using only occasional stock footage for scenes too expensive to shoot, which is standard operating procedure in any low-budget film); and the patchwork films, where the majority of the feature consists of footage from foreign films (Swedish, Chilean, or usually Mexican) which Warren “recontextualizes” though voice-over narration and through his American-shot scenes which impose a new “plot” onto the assemblage of foreign and Warren-shot footage. In these curious hybrids, Warren was following in the shoes of the makers of WHITE GORILLA (where newly shot scenes with Ray “Crash” Corrigan and a handful of others show the new actors “reacting” to scenes from a silent jungle feature) and, what probably gave Warren the idea for this method, the American release of Godzilla, where Raymond Burr and various Asian-American actors are cut into an edited version of the Japanese original Godzilla film. The American release of Godzilla was cleverly done, and if one did not know that there was a different Japanese original, one might believe that Burr was part of the original production. I believe that the example of Godzilla gave Jerry Warren the idea he could do the same with foreign films he could acquire inexpensively and put his personal stamp on, without having to go through the hard work of creating his own feature film from scratch, as he did with this first three features.

MAN BEAST, his first feature, an Abominable Snowman film, was somewhat ambitious for a low-budget independent 50’s monster film. While a number of rungs below a Universal 50’s monster film, or even an American International one,  it was an entertaining film. Warren’s next project, THE INCREDIBLE PETRIFIED WORLD, was an even more ambitious project, including underwater photography and name stars such as Robert Clarke, Phyllis Coates, and John Carradine–though it can be faulted in a number of ways when compared to higher-budgeted “monster” films of the period, it too was competent on a drive-in/z-grade level and showed Warren as someone who enjoyed playing with complex scientific ideas on a pulp level. Warren’s next film, however, TEENAGE ZOMBIES, though 100% his own creation, was a sloppily made film with lots of static master shots, but it has a zany over-the-top feel to it, it has that unique 50’s rock-and-roll teen feel that one loves so much about AIP films of the period, and it introduced some of the members of Warren’s stock company of actors,  including Katherine Victor and Chuck Niles. TEENAGE ZOMBIES, as Fred Olen Ray perceptively observed in his book THE NEW POVERTY ROW, showed that Jerry Warren was wanting to cut corners yet still “create” feature films.

With his fourth feature, INVASION OF THE ANIMAL PEOPLE, Warren purchased the North American rights to a Swedish sci-fi film, TERROR IN THE MIDNIGHT SUN, shot in English with American stars Barbara Wilson and Robert Burton, and directed by the American Virgil Vogel (of THE MOLE PEOPLE fame), but rather than release it as is (and it would have played just fine here in North America, as it was shot in English, had impressive Northern Swedish locations, and was fast-moving), Warren took about 60 % of the Swedish film (the most impressive looking parts of it) and with newly shot US footage, some of which included actress Barbara Wilson, who’d been in the original film, Warren grafted a new plot onto the hybrid creation and included long passages of John Carradine making vaguely scientific speeches and providing narration to “explain” the proceedings. The result was an odd creation, and although only about half of Jerry Warren’s films fall into the “patchwork” category, those were the films that, for better or worse, have come to be associated with his name.

When I first saw Warren’s films on television back in the late 60’s and early 70’s, I was fascinated by them. As most of them used a similar font on the opening credits, it was easy to spot a Warren film even before the directorial credit came up. Believe it or not, at one time Warren was second only to K. Gordon Murray as an importer and exhibitor of English-language versions of Mexican horror films. However, unlike Murray, who had a staff of Spanish-speaking workers at his Soundlab studio in Coral Gables, Florida, and who worked hard to create relatively faithful dubbed versions of the Mexican originals (yes, the dubbing is cartoonish, but that was certainly intended) and who showed a lot of respect for the original films, Jerry Warren picked sections out of the Mexican films the way a finicky eater might pick the meat out of a stew, while leaving the vegetables. And, what’s even more odd, he rarely dubbed the Spanish language scenes–instead, he had voice-over English narration explaining what was happening in those scenes, as they had been recontextualized into his new plot (so he was not at all telling us what was happening in the original, in most cases).

For the rest of his career, Warren alternated between original productions and the patchwork films, leading up to the outrageous WILD WORLD OF BATWOMAN in 1966, which has been widely viewed and enjoyed. That film generated a lawsuit from DC Comics, and whether the sting of the lawsuit or just changes in the marketplace motivated him, Warren did not release another film for 15 years, until FRANKENSTEIN ISLAND in 1981, a color film with an excellent cast (old favorites such as Katherine Victor, John Carradine, and Robert Clarke, joined by Cameron Mitchell and Andrew Duggan), and a film that re-visited a number of earlier motifs and plot elements–in some ways a remake of TEENAGE ZOMBIES.

Warren passed away in 1988, but fortunately the indefatigable Tom Weaver tracked him down for an interview prior to his passing, and that interview showed a complex man–has any independent filmmaker ever written off his own work in the manner Warren did? Yet at the same time, he was trying to impress his interviewer by making claims that were not true (such as his working with Lon Chaney Jr. on FACE OF THE SCREAMING WEREWOLF…all of Chaney’s scenes in that were taken from the Mexican source film, LA CASA DEL TERROR).

Say what you will, Warren’s films are instantly recognizable, they have fascinated cult-film fans for decades, the man had a unique METHOD of making films (or cobbling them together, if you will), and films such as Warren’s could only have been created during the 1950’s/1960’s period when drive-ins were still hungry for B&W indie horror films and television horror packages welcomed the kind of product Warren created. Continuity inconsistency and confusing plots did not matter much when the films would be watched ONCE and not rewound on VHS or freeze-framed on DVD—what mattered was a good title and a haunting  (or at least odd and off-putting) atmosphere, and Warren delivered both of those.  When he said in the Weaver interview that you didn’t need to make it “good,” you just needed to make it “weird,”  he was truly showing his hand. He did not have the opportunity to make higher-budgeted films and he did not make the effort to create better-crafted films (in the traditional sense), but what he did create is a body of work that’s unique and strange and puts one in what’s almost an altered state of consciousness. With this new two-volume set from VCI and Kit Parker Films, a good number of Warren films can now be seen in the best quality they are ever likely to be seen in and Warren can now be appreciated alongside other independent filmmakers such as Andy Milligan, Phil Tucker, Al Adamson, Coleman Francis, Ray Dennis Steckler, and Larry Buchanan as part of the Golden Age of z-grade independent auteurs whose works came out of left-field and provided viewers of the period with a cheap (and/or confusing!) thrill. Like a garage-band rocknroll record or a paperback original crime novel, the films of Jerry Warren are fascinating artifacts of an age long gone, and they show evidence of an inquiring mind and of considerable risk-taking as an artist—-can anyone deny that FACE OF THE SCREAMING WEREWOLF is a truly avant-garde creation? Whatever Warren’s intentions (and they may well have been that ‘confusing equals mysterious”), the world would have been a less interesting place had he NOT made these curious and still-enjoyable films. And with that in mind, as readers of this blog know by now, I am co-writing a book on the films of Jerry Warren, we have an interested publisher, and my co-author Rob Craig and I hope to have the book finished by early 2015. I hope you’ll look for it in a year or two…

jerry warren creature

Now, what’s on these new JERRY WARREN COLLECTION dvd’s from VCI/Kit Parker Films?

First of all, the quality of the transfers on these is superb. Of course, these were VERY low budget films and in the patchwork films little effort was put into the shooting of the “new” footage, but the films look as good, if not better, than the first day they played theatrically, and they look fine on large-screen televisions. Warren’s films have never been regularly available since the dawn of the VHS age…CREATURE OF THE WALKING DEAD was available on a slow-speed Goodtimes VHS back in the day, ATTACK OF THE MAYAN MUMMY and MAN BEAST and WILD WORLD OF BATWOMAN were available on Rhino VHS and then DVD, but those were adequate at best. I don’t believe CURSE OF THE STONE HAND has EVER had a legitimate release, and most of the grey market copies floating around are taken from murky dupe 16mm prints. STONE HAND literally looks like a different film here. The Chilean film from which the first half of STONE HAND was adapted had top-notch production design (for a low budget film), and one can savor that in this new restoration. You can throw out any previous editions of the film. The 1950’s and early 1960’s were a Golden Age of horror filmmaking in Mexico, and the men and women making these films clearly studied the 1940’s Universal horror films closely while adding their own unique Mexican gothic touch. Jerry Warren knew the quality of the visuals in these source films (no matter what he might have said in his interview with Tom Weaver), and he knew that a few impressive scenes can “make” a horror film—-maybe not make it a classic, but make it something the undiscriminating viewer and/or the horror film addict will feel positively about. All the crispness and richness of the Mexican films comes through clearly in these DVD’s.

VOLUME ONE contains MAN BEAST, Warren’s first feature, built around stock footage of the Himalayas he’d acquired, a solid third-tier 50’s sci-fi/monster film which shows that Warren could make a standard genre film, and it did quite well at the box office, no doubt inspiring Warren to continue in the business, for which we all should be grateful. The Himalayan footage and the location shooting at Lone Pine look impressive in this remastered version—throw out the old Rhino VHS. Also, as an extra, Kit Parker includes from his archives about 8 minutes of footage that was included in a dubbed Spanish version of the film that played in Latin America but was not included in the American release footage.

Next in this set is the patchwork film CURSE OF THE STONE HAND, which combines footage from two Chilean (I believe) features from the 1940’s (yes, the source films were ALMOST TWENTY YEARS OLD when Warren released his film). This is NOT typical of Warren’s method in the patchwork films, and because of that, it might be a good starting point for an investigation of Warren’s work. He essentially cuts down the source films to about 30 minutes each, shoots some framing footage about a cursed estate that is related to the characters in each of the stories/source films, so it plays somewhat like an anthology film and is far less fragmented and surreal than most of Warren’s patchwork films. CURSE looks about 2000% better than any version I’ve seen before. All previous versions, probably taken from 16mm dupes, were dark and murky. I was not looking forward to “analyzing” this film in our Jerry Warren book because it was so hard to see in detail what was happening, but now the film is crystal clear–and the two Chilean films are well-mounted and quite attractive with period settings. Warren has tacked an outrageous ending onto the two edited features to “tie things up,” the kind of ending you could only get away with back in the pre-VHS/DVD days when people could just watch a film ONCE and not go back and re-view scenes. The outrageous out-of-the-blue ending happens, you scream “what!?” and then the film is over. You can find a detailed discussion of this film at the Braineater website.

batwoman03

Closing volume one is Warren’s 1966 THE WILD WORLD OF BATWOMAN. This film is often attacked and was the subject of an MST3K episode, and in the interview re-enactment included with the disc, star Katherine Victor seems embarrassed by the project (she was promised it would be in color and have a significant budget—it wasn’t and didn’t), but any lover of over-the-top screwloose cult films can’t help but love the film. It’s closest in spirit to a Ray Dennis Steckler film—-one might say that this film is to Columbia late 1940’s Sam Katzman movie  serials what Steckler’s LEMON GROVE KIDS was to the Bowery Boys. Warren does borrow a little footage from the Swedish drama NO TIME TO KILL, with John Ireland (an English language film that he distributed in the US), but otherwise, it’s a 100% original creation. If you can imagine a SUPER cheap, b&w, “outsider” attempt to cash in on the Batman TV series with its cartoonish pop-art ambiance, and you realize that the film was MEANT as a comedy, you should find it very entertaining. After a lawsuit, Warren changed the title to SHE WAS A HIPPY VAMPIRE, and this package contains trailers for both versions.

VOLUME ONE of the Jerry Warren Collection contains a diverse sampling of Warren’s work and is a good introduction to this much-maligned but fascinating cult film-maker. You get his first film, you get the most coherent of the patchwork films, and you get Batwoman—-all in sharp, clear transfers and with trailers. It’s an essential purchase.

Then we move into VOLUME TWO of the Jerry Warren Collection, and this one digs a little deeper and is definitely the stranger of the two sets, with THREE patchwork films from the 1960’s, once Warren had this cut-and-paste technique down to a science. He had a definite method to his madness, and that’s something we’ll be going into in detail in our Jerry Warren book. The technique might have grown out of finding the cheapest possible method of cobbling together a feature film with the least effort—-but it was a technique he turned to again and again, and now that the principals involved with the films are largely gone, all we have are the works themselves. And for the hardened cult/outsider film devotee, something like ATTACK OF THE MAYAN MUMMY, the first film on this set, is truly jaw-dropping—-if you like the films of Al Adamson, or Creation of the Humanoids, or the films of Andy Milligan or the films of Godfrey Ho, you will howl with joy when you see ATTACK OF THE MAYAN MUMMY, which is perhaps the one Warren film I would screen to an audience of cult film devotees. Warren takes footage from the Mexican horror classic LA MOMIA AZTECA (and now that the three original Aztec Mummy films from Mexico are available on DVD for study and enjoyment, you can see how Warren appropriated and recontextualized the footage–we’ll be getting into that in the book) and inserts it into a tale of a scientific researcher and science journalist who is burned out and looking to tell his story of the scandal at “Cowan Research” (an outfit also used in Warren’s next film, FACE OF THE SCREAMING WEREWOLF) to newspaper editor Bruno VeSota. This frame story allows a series of flashbacks to tell the convoluted story of past-life regressions and mysterious goings-on in the Yucatan. There are a number of impressive visuals of Aztec rituals (for some reason Warren changed that to Mayan, though that really did not matter with his target audience) and Yucatan pyramids. Seeing this film on television as a child, I was quite impressed with its eerie feel, and the “mystery” elements of the US footage seemed mysterious (or more likely, confusing, which equaled mysterious to a child, and to most of Warren’s target audience)—the film plays fast and loose with traditional concepts of continuity, but that just adds to its weirdness appeal. And once again, there is an ending out of left field that’s totally a cheat and somewhat nihilistic, but the film is so elliptical and so unlike a traditional narrative that one would not expect any kind of well-developed and properly-seeded payoff at the end. ATTACK OF THE MAYAN MUMMY should be high on cult-film lovers’ lists of favorites. If you are the kind of person who has watched MONSTER A GO GO more than a few times, you will be glad to make the film’s acquaintance…and it looks SO MUCH better than the previous Rhino issue.

Next in this set is CREATURE OF THE WALKING DEAD, which takes an atmospheric Mexican horror film called LA MARCA DEL MUERTO (which you can watch online…just google for it) and adds Jerry Warren-shot scenes which attach themselves to the original film the way a tapeworm attaches itself to a dog. Because Warren rarely dubs the Spanish originals (he prefers to have his American actors NARRATE what’s going on in his re-contextualized usage of the footage), there are long periods in this film without dialogue, and with the deep, shadow-filled, gothic feel of the source film, along with the grandiose and repetitive musical score, CREATURE truly creates an eerie feel in many scenes. I would imagine that if one had seen this at a drive-in in 1965, it would make a serious impression. This got wide distribution in the VHS era on a slow-speed Goodtimes Video release, but once again, the film is much brighter and clearer here, which really helps with a film that has so much atmosphere. One can’t really praise Warren’s new footage in this one—it has the infamous eight-minute “massage” scene with Bruno VeSota—-but the cheap, cinema-verite feel of Warren’s static talky exposition scenes create an almost documentary feel in texture, which doesn’t really sync with the long soliloquies the actors are reading in a single take. It’s that unique feel that makes a Jerry Warren film INSTANTLY recognizable. With so much CGI and so many interchangeable films playing at today’s multi-plexes, Warren’s z-grade cinema is a refreshing change of pace that cuts through all traditional “standards” of film-making the way an off-key 60’s garage-band 45 cuts through all standard of professionalism, yet retains an odd sense of “outsider” appeal and uniqueness. Warren’s films were odd when they were released, and time has only heightened their uniqueness…the world in which (and for which) they were created is long gone. CREATURE may seem slow-moving to some, but it’s a film about atmosphere, and when you slow down to its funereal pace, it can be quite entertaining.

Sabrina (Norma Sykes)

The final film on this set is not really a Jerry Warren film….it’s a z-grade horror/witchcraft film directed by Harold Daniels (of My World Dies  Screaming, Port Sinister, and Roadblock fame) that starred Lon Chaney Jr. and John Carradine and Tom Drake and Sabrina (of Satan In High Heels and The Phantom Gunslinger) called HOUSE OF THE BLACK DEATH. Evidently the film was not finished, or not finished in a way acceptable to the producers/ investors, and Jerry Warren (known for being able to cobble together a feature film in an inexpensive manner) was called in to shoot some new scenes with members of his stock company such as Katherine Victor and create something that could be released on TV and on the lower-rungs of multi-film horror packages at drive-ins  (I remember it playing in the Denver area as BLOOD OF THE MAN DEVIL on a four-film BLOOD package, and in his book THE NEW POVERTY ROW, Fred Olen Ray remembers seeing it as part of a FIVE-film “Blood” package at a Florida drive-in). With Warren’s signature opening credits and library music, and with the opening narration (which is in rhyming verse and in the persona of Satan!)  done by Warren regular George Mitchell (over footage shot by Daniels of close-ups of Chaney, Carradine, Drake, and Sabrina), Warren’s stamp is on the project from the first frame. However, only about 15 minutes of the film are from Warren—-mostly, two long scenes of a Satanic Ritual featuring Katherine Victor and George Mitchell and a few young ladies who are pledging allegiance to the devil, accompanied by Orgy of the Dead-style dancing. One such sequence runs until about nine minutes into the film, and then another runs from 46:39 through 52:15. Two aspects of these scenes are especially of interest: one, the “vow” is quite reminiscent of the pledge to Batwoman at the beginning of WILD WORLD OF BATWOMAN; and two, the scenes were clearly shot with two cameras and have a much more dynamic look than Warren’s static expository dialogue footage in the filler sequences in his own films.

house_of_black_death_poster_01

HOUSE OF THE BLACK DEATH is actually a quite engaging, genuinely eerie feature. Except for Warren’s sequences, it doesn’t really play like a Warren film. The quality of the acting is above average, with former MGM star Tom Drake giving the role his best effort and attempting to make the character (the semi-normal member of the Desard family) three-dimensional, something we don’t usually expect or get in such a low-budget genre film, and Lon Chaney Jr. and John Carradine do what they did best at this point in their careers, providing the needed horror-film star power, here playing battling warlocks who are both patriarchs of the Desard family. Both Chaney and Carradine always raised the quality of whatever they were in, and they do that here. Some reviews of this have mentioned the films lack of continuity, but compared to Warren’s usual patchwork films, it’s a somewhat linear narrative. I first saw this on local TV in Denver in the early 70’s, and I found it to be quite atmospheric and effective. Clearly shot on a few cheap sets, any film that begins with a close-up of Lon Chaney Jr. staring into the camera while being lectured by Satan is off to a good start, and as with Monogram horror films of the 40’s (some of which John Carradine himself was in), the low budget helps to create a barren mood that works to the film’s advantage. With the faux-Satanic vibe, the B&W photography, the fog, the occult rituals, and the presence of Chaney and Carradine, HOUSE OF THE BLACK DEATH should appeal to fans of the z-grade horror and of Lon and John. I don’t know how much editing Jerry Warren did of the footage shot by Harold Daniels, or how much if any Warren put the film into its present order/structure, but Warren doesn’t seem to get in the way of the core story. His original characters, played by Victor and Mitchell and the young ladies, basically comment on the action as members of the same coven—-they are “outside the action,” commenting on how they are related TO the action. This is not just an entertaining horror film; it also shows us some insight into Warren’s method, and as such, it fits well on this set…and if nothing else, Kit Parker’s transfer of this film, which has ALWAYS been murky in the past, will have you throwing away your old copies. Of course, we don’t know how much Warren re-ordered or edited the Daniels-shot footage, or how much if anything from the original footage he did not use. Also, one perceptive online commentator mentioned that the initial shots of the four major characters staring into the camera were possibly test shots or for costume purposes and not intended to be in the actual film. As Warren is a master of putting commentary on top of footage meant for other purposes, perhaps that’s what he’s done here.  I hope someone is able to find a shooting script for the original film, so we can discover what Warren’s role was beyond shooting new footage. He must have done SOMETHING with the original footage, since his new scenes could be discarded and the film would still hold together, somewhat (another possibility is that the film simply was not long enough and that Warren shot footage to extend it, the way B-movie makers would extend their 59 minute features to 75 minutes for TV syndication packages, usually with talky, static, and unnecessary footage that ruins the flow of the films). In any event, though Warren himself did not work with either Carradine or Chaney on this project, if the thought of a film with those two actors AND Jerry Warren involvement gets you as excited as it does me, you’ll want to check out HOUSE OF THE BLACK DEATH.

mayan mummy poster

While Jerry Warren claimed that he never aspired to create something worthwhile, merely something adequate for the lower rungs of the genre-film marketplace, when we are confronted with the actual films, and when we ignore the usual condescending “bad film” mindset that some bring to films of this style, we find that they are curious and unique creations. Warren’s monologues put into the mouths of his characters often dance around a number of deep topics, enough to make us wonder what issues interested Warren the man. What kind of books did he read? What was his personal philosophy of the cosmos or of government? Also, as we get further away from the decades that produced these films,  it is hard to not admit that Warren’s film grammar has a curiously post-modern flavor. Whether or not Warren had read about the aesthetic theory behind the concept of BRICOLAGE,  or whether or not he’d seen the films of Jean-Luc Godard or Alain Resnais  (and my guess is that he had not read or seen them), Warren’s works feature the ruptured narratives, overlapping and contradicting points of view, incorporation of found elements, and incorporation of randomness and chance into the finished work that we associate with post-modern works. Warren’s intentionality should not matter in our evaluation of the work. Once the work enters the marketplace, it no longer belongs to the man who created it (or threw it together, if you prefer). A lot of the eerieness and mystery that radiates from a Warren film is due to illogical/a-logical construction and the manipulation of images….also, Warren certainly knew what buzzwords to drop in his advertising. And he knew how a good title can condition us to view a work in a particular way. On the low level of poverty-row genre film where Jerry Warren worked, the standards might not have been high, compared to mainstream Hollywood efforts, but one was also allowed a lot of freedom, as long as your film had an exploitative title, a hysterical poster and ad campaign, and a name like John Carradine. No exhibitor really cared what the product was like, once you got the customers in the door…or through the drive-in gate. This gave an outsider film-maker such as Jerry Warren (or Andy Milligan or Godfrey Ho or Phil Tucker or Ed Wood or Doris Wishman) a lot of creative freedom, and love him or hate him, you must admit that JERRY WARREN TOOK ADVANTAGE OF THAT. How else to explain the chutzpah of someone getting a totally strange and avant-garde creation as FACE OF THE SCREAMING WEREWOLF in front of paying audiences.

It’s about time Jerry Warren receives the attention his unique work is due. We intend to illuminate the Warren method and Warren’s body of work in our book on THE FILMS OF JERRY WARREN, which we hope to have available in 2015. Until then, why not get these excellent collections from VCI and get to know these odd and fascinating works. You’ve got a good and representative chunk of Warren’s body of work right here. If you like these, you can find TEENAGE ZOMBIES, FRANKENSTEIN ISLAND, FACE OF THE SCREAMING WEREWOLF, and the others online or on DVD. And who knows, maybe some company like Vinegar Syndrome (if they can discover Albert Zugsmith’s THE PHANTOM GUNSLINGER, which was thought lost until recently) can dig up a copy of BULLET FOR BILLY THE KID…

These two sets are MUST purchases for the cult-film fan and will surely rate among the most important releases of the year to those who enjoy the work of outsider film auteurs such as Andy Milligan, Godfrey Ho, or Ray Dennis Steckler. Let 2014 and 2015 be the years of Jerry Warren! Kit Parker has done the same great job with the Warren library as he’s done with the Lippert films catalogue (check out the various HAMMER NOIR volumes) and the Weiss Global archives. Now that the films are out there in excellent shape and at an attractive price, let the Jerry Warren Revival begin…

stone handWhy not order BOTH volumes of the Jerry Warren Collection from VCI right now!

You can find volume 1 here…   http://www.vcientertainment.com/JERRY-WARREN-COLLECTION-1                                                                               ….then just search within VCI’s online store for Volume 2…

January 25, 2014

DECCA SOUL DIAMONDS (Buried Treasure CDR, France)

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 2:20 pm
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decca

various artists, DECCA SOUL DIAMONDS, Buried Treasure (France) CDR

In the 1960’s Decca Records was a relatively unhip company. In terms of the youth revolution in music and culture, they were clueless—-some good bands made some good albums on Decca,  and many more bands made great singles on Decca, but the label had no idea how to handle them. The Who’s US success was very much IN SPITE OF being on Decca rather than because they were on Decca (undoubtedly, the Who’s exciting live shows and word of mouth helped a lot too—at least Decca could get the product into stores, having national distribution). Even an established Decca artist such as Rick Nelson did not find his label up to the task of helping support his growth into a singer-songwriter and a country-rock performer. Decca was best-suited for its country roster (including Ernest Tubb and Loretta Lynn) and artists such as Bing Crosby or organist Lenny Dee who had an older following. Similarly, Decca was not a label that was tuned in to the Black youth and Black radio and promotion network of the 1960’s. However, since SOUL music was selling, and selling big, it was inevitable that Decca, a label that wanted to be all things to all people but was not on top of the particulars of the various sub-genres of popular music, would want to release some soul singles to throw them against the proverbial wall to see what would stick. A single did not require a significant investment, and most regional performers would probably be ecstatic to get their music picked up by a major label. Thus, DECCA SOUL DIAMONDS, a collection of material (except for the final two tracks, more on that later) released on 45’s in the US on Decca, pretty much all of which are obscure, although many of the artists will be familiar to the fan of regional 60’s soul.

decca sea

The random collections of US 1960’s soul 45’s that have been compiled over the years for the European “Northern Soul” and “Popcorn” markets are quite fascinating, showing the depth and breadth of the Black music scene in the 1960’s, the many regional variations, and the many subdivisions within the “soul” music marketplace. While labels such as Brunswick and Atlantic had an identifiable core of producers/songwriters and thus an identifiable “sound” (not to mention in-house production companies as one had at Stax), a label such as Decca licensed in, or at most commissioned, sessions from regional producers and regional labels, or hustling producers (such as Jimmy Curtiss, of Hobbits fame, who seemed to have an “in” at Decca) who were located in their homebase of NYC. Therefore, an album like this provides a fascinating and enjoyable archival dig that’s like a core sample of soul styles of the era, none of which most of us have ever heard…like a grab into a pile of radio station 45’s that one would have found at a junk store in the early 70’s, singles that had been sitting there for a few years that you had to blow the dust off of. Journeymen (and women) performers/writers such as Eldridge Holmes and Leon Haywood rub elbows with previously-famous talents such as Clyde McPhatter and established local talents such as Louisiana’s Katie Webster and out-sized characters such as The Mighty Hannibal. Besides Louisiana and New York City, we find random tracks from Atlanta, the Carolinas, Texas, Los Angeles, Memphis, and Philadelphia. The effect is almost like a delicious smorgasbord of obscure soul from all over. Decca being a relatively conservative label, you don’t really hear performers in the vein of, say, James Brown or Syl Johnson or Alvin Cash or Andre Williams or Otis Clay, but there is a wide variety of styles from R&B flavored workouts to supper-club soul, from Deep Soul to orchestrated elegant Soul to tracks with a girl-group feel. The liner notes explain that one track here, by the Free Movement, was actually on the soul charts (It’s the slickest song here and my least favorite), but everything else is rare, and if you are basically a record collector at heart who enjoys an hour-long set of music that is new to you, but from the mid-late 60s Golden Age of American Soul, then this collection is VERY welcome. Alas, only a “collector” label is going to issue something like this, and I thank Buried Treasure for excavating these soul diamonds for all of us to share.  And the good news is that the liner notes suggest there will be further entries in this series! If you are just a casual soul fan, there are no absolute classics here,  few songs the casual fan will be humming after hearing, but it’s all above average and covers a wide range of styles, so the person like me who is always hungering for more new vintage soul 45’s should get this NOW.

decca anna

Oh, what about the last two tracks? Well, as this is a European release,  two tracks come from foreign Decca releases. Track 16 is by Pic and Bill (well known for their work on Major Bill Smith’s labels Le Cam and Charay, with some tracks also appearing on Mercury’s Smash and Blue Rock subsidiaries), and appeared on Smash in the US but on Decca in France, and track 9  is a British recording (produced by Mike Vernon, of Blue Horizon fame) by British/Jamaican vocalist Errol Dixon, which appeared on UK Decca. Both are deep and soulful tracks and fit well on the collection.

20 classic tracks from rare 45’s….can’t wait for volume 2!

decca 45

1. EVERYDAY WILL BE LIKE A HOLIDAY – LEON HAYWOOD
2. THAT’S CUZ I LOVE YOU – LOUIS JONES
3. A LOVE PROBLEM – ELDRIDGE HOLMES
4. CHECK YOURSELF – DEBBIE TAYLOR
5. SOMEONE’S KNOCKIN’ AT MY DOOR – GROVER MITCHELL
6. I’VE FOUND SOMEONE OF MY OWN – THE FREE MOVEMENT
7. ARE YOU READY FOR THIS – JACKIE VERDELL
8. THE RIGHT TO LOVE YOU – THE MIGHTY HANNIBAL
9. TRUE LOVE NEVER RUNS SMOOTH – ERROL DIXON
10. I’LL BELONG TO YOU – CLYDE McPHATTER
11. THE LIFE OF THE PARTY – ANNA CRAIG
12. SEA OF LOVE – KATIE WEBSTER
13. I FEEL LIKE CRYIN’ – SAM & BILL
14. IF YOU LET ME MAK ELOVE TO YOU THEN WHY CAN’T I TOUCH YOU – JIVE FIVE
15. I’VE BEEN LOVING YOU TOO LONG – LARRY DAVIS & THE MARVELS
16. SAD WORLD WITHOUT YOU – PIC & BILL
17. I’M GIVING UP BABY – RAYONS
18. I CAN GET YOU ON T.V. BABY – RAY SCOTT & THE SCOTTSMEN
19. I’LL GO CRAZY – TONY ASHLEY
20. WANDERLUST – RAY POLLARD

January 19, 2014

DEREK ROGERS returns to Texas for a rare concert appearance…TONIGHT…in Austin

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Very excited to welcome DEREK ROGERS back to Texas for a rare concert appearance,  tonight in Austin. Derek was one of the two (along with Sir Plastic Crimewave) original KSE recording artists when we branched out into experimental music CDR’s, and since relocating from Texas to Los Angeles, he’s continued to issue a stream of fascinating forward-thinking albums on a myriad of labels in many different countries. If you are free tonight, head on over to Calles St. at East 6th, Austin…welcome back, DR!!

DEREK POSTER

poster by Lee Noble

 

January 4, 2014

STOP REQUESTED by Wyatt Doyle (New Texture Books, 2010)

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STOP  REQUESTED

by WYATT DOYLE

published 2010 by New Texture Books      

www.newtexture.com

illustrations by Stanley  J.  Zappa

Stop-Requested-Wyatt-Doyle-9780982723906

I’m a little late getting to this book from 2010, but quality doesn’t age.  I first discovered Wyatt Doyle many years ago through his DVD commentary (done with Chris D.) on the amazing film DEATH SMILES ON THE MURDERER. I then became familiar with his blog New Texture and the books he’s published by other authors under his New Texture imprint (the wonderful collection of over-the-top, hard-boiled “men’s magazine” fiction, WEASELS RIPPED MY FLESH is a must-read). Wyatt is also a fascinating photographer, and KSE used one of his pictures on the front cover of Doug Draime’s 2013 poetry chapbook DUSK WITH CAROL.

dusk with carol

However, I had not read his fiction until I stumbled across a copy of STOP REQUESTED. The book is a collection of short, linked pieces set on the buses and at the bus stops of Los Angeles…and for me, the book is a wonderful addition to the literature of the lost and the doomed in the City of Angels. However, there is no whiff of tragedy or of condescension in STOP REQUESTED…no philosophizing narrator, no ironic detachment. What Wyatt Doyle has done with this book is to re-create on the page a complete world, the world of those who do not or cannot afford to drive and who rely on public transportation and those who drive the buses. This is a world not noticed or seen by those driving by in air-conditioned cars with the windows rolled up…and like most worlds, it has its hierarchy, its people consigned to (or choosing) roles, its territorial grabs, its people full of dreams and regrets and passions and pain, its people acting on a stage for the view of others—-sometimes fooling them, sometimes not. As the press release for the book states, “Public transportation is a great equalizer.” It’s one of those places like a hospital emergency room or the DMV Office or  a jury room at the county courthouse or at a parade where a wide variety of people are thrown together and they are forced to jockey for position. For some of the characters in this book, making the right impression on the bus is as important as a corporate takeover is to a captain of industry. In a self-effacing, lean literary style that shows the influence of the men’s magazine authors Doyle has edited/compiled but also has the elliptical, post-modern zen understatement of a Richard Brautigan, Doyle presents these mini-dramas and mini-comedies and slices of urban life with a poet’s gift for the carefully-chosen detail and a playwright’s gift for dialogue that rings true yet has a sense of both menace and comedy, like what one would hear in an Edward Albee play. This is 21st Century America. Someone who wants to understand this age 100 or 200 years from now should read this book. It’s all here. As an author, Doyle does not step on the page and pontificate. He has read the tea leaves of everyday urban reality, and he has fashioned a collection of details and situations that comes alive for us, and allows the readers to come to whatever judgments they choose to. Some will find the book funny….some, tragic…some, a biting critique of capitalism and the class structure….some, an insightful window into mental health concerns….some, a work of sociological significance…some, an installment in the proud tradition of Los Angeles fiction. Like life, it’s there, it’s all around you, and you can choose what to do with it and how to view it.

To create this kind of understated yet pungent urban poetry is a real achievement. Many of these pieces are primarily dialogue, and the first-person narrative persona is a kind of cipher and thus a window for the reader. He is laid-back, tolerant, and one with the world in which he’s living. That’s also a hard trick to pull off as a writer, but it works very well here and puts us on that bus  in the narrator’s shoes (and jeans), seeing through his eyes, hearing through his ears.

I spent many years as a bus rider. I did not own a car during my many years in Colorado, as the Denver metropolitan area had excellent RTD bus service, and as long as I was a high school or college student, I could get an unlimited monthly bus pass for $12 or $15. And once I moved to Oklahoma, I needed the bus for inter-city and inter-state travel, and THAT world is an entirely different story, a world of E1 and E2 poor military recruits, young unwed mothers, persons with disabilities who cannot drive, migrant workers, elderly folks going from one small town to another, kids with guitars headed to Austin armed with a dream, etc.

I once gave the following advice to a young poet who gave me his work for critique, and his work was nothing but a bad channeling of things he’d read, with no jagged, felt, or REAL-seeming particulars. I told him, “I think a good exercise for an apprentice poet would be to limit yourself to a small area…the alley behind your apartment, the parking lot of the convenience store in your neighborhood, a city park…and take notes on the THINGS of that environment. The ground, the walls, the trashcans, the insects, the animals, the patterns to the discoloration of the paint, the ripped screens, the smells, the sounds, the textures. Then use those notebooks as the raw material from which you sculpt your creation, with each particular resonating and functioning as a deep image in your well thought-out, intelligently designed construct. That’s how poetry is constructed, and it’s hard work.”  Wyatt Doyle captures those kind of deeply felt particulars in STOP REQUESTED. He captures the voices, and thus the hopes and dreams and fantasies and pain and joy of the kind of characters that folks coming out of MFA programs pass by on the street on their way to spend $5 for a cup of coffee. This is almost like a Los Angeles-set version of John Dos Passos’s MANHATTAN TRANSFER for the 2010’s, but minus the self-conscious literary experimentation. Doyle’s style does not call attention to itself. As with the work of a quality craftsman in any field, form and function are indivisible.

Anyone who appreciates the poetry published by KSE would be sure to enjoy STOP REQUESTED. I actually felt inspired at the end of this book. The author has a deep love of humanity and the book radiates an “everything that is, is holy” vibe. Grab a copy while you can…

January 3, 2014

last call for KSE 2013 releases…very few remaining on most…

KSE has a strong release schedule of both music and poetry lined up for 2014 beginning in February with our EGG, EGGS album, but until then, we still have some great 2013 items available in limited quantity–no wholesale on any of these. About a dozen other 2013 releases are sold out and/or have been deleted from the catalog in the last week (Forbes Graham, Unmoor, Bill Shute & Marcus Rubio, Venison Whirled, etc.). Here’s what you can still get if you act fast:

————————————————————————————

CHAPBOOKS/CDR’s  NOW AVAILABLE: 

full-sized CDR’s ($8.00 each, ppd. in US—outside US $11 )

ALL ARE AVAILABLE FOR IMMEDIATE DELIVERY

tom creandjin pcw everafter r6fossilsA23H  4ERNESTO LIVE ALBUM .    .

KSE #240 (CDR) SPRILLS OF ORE (Eva Kelly), “Time Mirrors”

SPRILLS OF ORE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

KSE #260 (CDR) TOM CREAN, “Wired Love” (solo guitar and banjo explorations)

KSE #255 (CDR), ERNESTO DIAZ-INFANTE/LISA CAMERON/LEE DOCKERY, “Live At the KSE 6th ANNIVERSARY CONCERT”

KSE #257 (CDR),  ALFRED 23 HARTH, “Micro-Saxo-Phone, Edition  IV.”

KSE #254 (cdr), DJIN AQUARIAN/SIR PLASTIC CRIMEWAVE & THE EVERAFTER, Live in San Francisco 10/2011

KSE #239, (CDR) FOSSILS, “Bells and Gulls” 

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SPECIAL EDITION POETRY CHAPBOOKS from Lambkin and Krefting ($7 each US postpaid…or $8 each postpaid outside US)—VERY LIMITED STOCK ON THESE TWO

KSE #258, GRAHAM LAMBKIN, “SLIMERS VERB”

graham cover

KSE #259, MATT KREFTING, “THE PRINCESS OF KNIGHT AVENUE”

dusk with carol

OTHER poetry chapbooks ($6 each, ppd. in the US, $7 elsewhere…):

KSE #265 (art-and-poetry chapbook), BILL SHUTE, ‘The Language of Construction”

KSE #263 (poetry chapbook), BILL SHUTE, “Worried Men and Wooden Soldiers”

KSE #250 (poetry chapbook), DOUG DRAIME, “Dusk With Carol” (cover art by Wyatt Doyle)

KSE #249 (poetry chapbook) A. J. KAUFMANN, “Hosannah Honeypots” (Sound Library Series, Volume 72)

KSE #236 (poetry chapbook)  JIM  D.  DEUCHARS, “Thelonious Fakebook”  (Sound Library Series, Volume 71)

KSE #261 (art-and-poetry chapbook), DANIEL HIPOLITO & BILL SHUTE, “Meditations on a One-Way Trail”

KSE #249 (poetry chapbook), A.J. KAUFMANN, “Hosannah Honeypots” (Sound Library Series, Volume 72)

HOSANNAH, cover

KSE #256 (poetry chapbook), BILL SHUTE, “Led Along”

Thelonious

MEDITATIONS...

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led along

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