Tag Archive: underground film


This post should be better, more indepth, with more links. Maybe at some point in the near future.

Sometimes, very rarely, it is possible to watch entire films on youtube without them being cut into a million pieces. This is one of those instances…

This rarely seen, rarely known, underground film staggered out of the mess that was Berlin in 1984 (whether the release date was a deliberate reference to Orwell’s novel or merely synchronicity i do not know). You can look at as a critique of society, of media, of totalitarianism. As a treatise on the power of symbols, the way in which they pervade and control our lives and the ways in which they can be highjacked for alterior ends. I suppose it is all of those things. It’s a messy film made on not much of a budget and featuring such countercultural luminaries as William Burroughs and Genesis P. Orridge in cameo roles.

It is possible to get hold of this film on DVD but it ain’t cheap. There are other ways to get hold of it but I won’t be going into them here 😉

This might be your only opportunity to watch this astounding piece of cult filmmaking so, you know, pull the sofa up to your PC, turn out the lights and click play.

Dangerous Minds!
Dangerous Minds!
Why are all your links so fine?
youtube videos beyond sublime
I wish that all of them were mine!

That was my little ode to Dangerous Minds. Because they’re just so cool. Oh yeah baby. Sometimes I think about just blogging everything they blog so I can be cool too. But then, this would be Dangerous Minds and not Either/or/Bored, wouldn’t it? Not so cool.

I came across Lydia Lunch’s work several years ago whilst I was excavating the tombs of punk. See, I’m a cultural archaeologist. I like to explore things in the past tense. If something is paticularly cool and hip i like to wait until the bandwagon masses have forgotten all about it, and then figure out if it’s worthy. I tried reading harry potter once, the first book, way after the fact. You know, just to see if it was worth the hassle. I only got a few pages in before I got bored. Maybe I didn’t give it enough time but frankly there are so many books out there that give the impression of being infinately more worthy that why waste your time? It’s a limited commodity you know.

Okay, maybe I’m not strictly a cultural archaeologist. The internet is after all fueled by neophillia and this is a blog after all. What I’m saying is there are alot of things to dig and alot of them have already happened. The present is a playground but the past is a treasure trove – so grab a shovel. Also, don’t forget your rubber gloves. There’s alot of shit to wade through.

Anyway, lydia lunch . I dug some of her music. I read paradoxia (excerpt here), her confessional novelish of sadomasachistic peversions. And drugs, I think there were drugs in there too. Lydia was in the seminal NY nowave band Teenage Jesus and the Jerks who are totally worthy of a listen, even if this isn’t actually THEIR myspace page.

Fuck, you know, I dug this out of my draft bin and I’ve completely forgotten where i was going with it.

Oh yeah, there was an interview with lydia lunch posted on dangerous minds. I was gonna regurgitate it.


There, now I can lay this post to rest after its month in draft limbo.

No, wait. There’s more. It’s all coming back to me now….

So, i dug her music and read her book. Years stumble by like drunken & stoned little angels. Now i’m in the final year of uni and writing my dissertation. It’s on counterculture & film (and does not include, despite how much my lecturer told me to include it, easy rider) and I’m doing this whole section on the Cinema of Transgression – a New York underground film ‘movement’ (or maybe ‘moment’ is more apt).  From wikipedia:

The Cinema of Transgression is a term coined by Nick Zedd in 1985 to describe a New York City, United States based underground film movement, consisting of a loose-knit group of like-minded artists using shock value and humor in their work. Key players in this movement were Nick Zedd, Kembra Pfahler, Casandra Stark, Beth B, Tommy Turner, Richard Kern and Lydia Lunch, who in the late 1970s and mid 1980s began to make very low budget films using cheap 8 mm cameras.

An important essay outlining Zedd’s philosophy on the Cinema of Transgression is the Cinema of Transgression Manifesto[1], published pseudonymously in the Underground Film Bulletin (1984-90).

Perhaps the most famous transgressive artist, Richard Kern, began making films in New York with actors Nick Zedd and Lung Leg. Some of them were videos for artists like the Butthole Surfers and Sonic Youth.

Lydia Lunch appears in alot of the works of the cinema of transgression, some of which can be viewed over at ubuweb (lydia lunch filmography here).  If i remember rightly, Lydia Lunch and Nick Zed were going out for a while as all this was going on and it didn’t end well. Their relationship was an inspiration for several of his films.

One of the main sources for references in my dissertation were the books of Jack Sargeant whose work is indespensible to anyone who has an interest in underground film or the intersections of counterculture and film. His website is here and here‘s an interview with him.

I’d love to embed this, but i can’t. restriction of wordpress.com i’m afraid. Still, all you have to is click the link and it’s there for your viewing pleasure. Pull my Daisy. By Robert Frank (although, actually, that’s a point of some debate — whether you believe it or not do check the photographs from his book ‘the americans’ which are awesome. Plus kerouac wrote the introduction for it. Neat, huh?). Beat cinema. Enjoy.

Pull my Daisy – Robert Frank, Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac

I have actually seen fragments of the film that is spoken of here. I found them in a torrent of kenneth anger’s films.


In 1955, Kenneth Anger made a voyage to Cefalu in Sicily to shoot a documentary about Aleister Crowley’s erotic frescos, Thelema Abbey.
“The film was made for Houlton Television which was  a branch of Picture Post an extinct British Magazine. They lost it. I tried to find it and it’s untraceable. I lived in Crowley’s house, alone, but that kind of thing doesn’t bother me. I had to. It was the only way to get it done. I spent three months there scraping the whitewash, which had turned to stone, off the walls. It was a big job, but one of the most exciting things I have ever done. They were still there – all those hyper-psychedelic murals: goblins and demons in fabulous color, scarlet and pumpkin-red. Actually they were good paintings, similar in feel to Ensor.”

Well, this film seems to be lost, but here you can find another film from Anger about Crowley’s paintings. And here is a montage of photos (not from Anger) showing Thelema Abbey and its frescos.

I Put a Spell on You « OMBRES BLANCHES.

Sometimes in my web wanderings I will come across something worthy of bloggage but yet, either through distraction, lack of focus or general apathy, i won’t throw it up.  Kenneth Anger’s latest short film would definately be in that catagory.

For my film-school dissertation I decided to focus on the counterculture and film which by its very definition exposed me to alot of avant-garde work. Kenneth Anger is probably one of the most famous of these types of film makers and I’ve said in the past that i would do a post devoted solely to him and his work. Needless to say, such a post has yet to be written, but if you have yet to be exposed to his filmmaking i urge you track down more of his stuff, perhaps on youtube, and read some of the writings on him if you can find it. Either that, or, you know, wait for me to do that post.

In the film, Anger, Gallo, and Butler depict an occult ritual that symbolizes the stage of ego death in the process of spiritual attainment.

Brian Butler, Kenneth Anger, and Vincent Gallo’s “Night of Pan”.

I first stumbled upon the name Anais Nin in my teenage years. I was reading alot of  early to mid 20th century american-european literature. You know, Henry Miller,  Charles Bukowski, Kerouac. It was very much the era of the confessional, although frankly that term carries a little too much of a catholic guilt undertone for my liking.  A more apt expression would be to say that these writers were documenting a lifestyle (often bohemian, definately on the fringes of society) and time period through the lens of their experience and under the influence of writers who had come before them.  Nin herself is perhaps best known for her diaries and was very much part of bohemian circles wherever she went, being invovled socially and romantically with writers and artists.  She appears in films by both meya derren and kenneth anger; two prominant underground film makers of the time, the former being especially important culturally for creating avant garde works in the predominantly male-dominated  counterculture although to reduce both Anais and Maya’ contributions to their paticular gender is to pay them a great disservice. I mean, Kenneth Anger is also pretty damn vital too,  especially considering his representations of homosexuality, but to say that this is all there is to his work is as bad as just giving props to Deren and Nin for being female.

Anyways,  barely structured and formless ramblings aside, Nin is also known for her Erotic Writings. I’ve only read one book by Nin, much to my shame, and it was a collection of such writings called Little Birds and was a well worth while read. I urge anyone who has the opportunity to read any of her works to seize the chance.

fuck, where was i going with all this? My head keeps telling me that i need to write posts on Deren and Anger but that’s not where this started.

Oh yeah, Nin. She write good. She lived interesting life surrounded by interesting people. She documented a vital time in 20th century society, art and counterculture in a frank manner.  She’s a damn fine writer of erotic fiction. She held her own in social circles dominated by men.

This is her talking about drugs, specifically LSD, taken from one of her diaries:

[Huxley] reminded me that drugs are beneficial if they provide the only access to our nightlife. I realized that the expression “blow my mind” was born of the fact that America had cemented access to imagination and fantasy and that it would take dynamite to remove this block! I believed Leary’s emphasis on the fact we use only one percent of our mind or potential, that everything in our education conspires to restrict and constrict us. I only wished people had had time to study drugs as they studied religion or philosophy and to adapt to this chemical alteration of our bodies.

[LSD’s] value is in being a shortcut to the unconscious, so that one enters the realm of intuition unhampered, pure as it is in children, of direct emotional reaction to nature, to other human beings. In a sense it is the return to the spontaneity and freshness of childhood vision which makes every child able to paint or sing.


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