DADAkitten: If David Lynch Did Comedy Sketches

Merry birthday to me! I hope all my little bits of confetti littering the streets are OK?

I’ve been trying to settle on a creative project which is purely for fun for a while now, and finally my friend Steve and I have settled on DADAkitten. I can only explain it as ‘imagine if David Lynch did comedy sketches. Sort of. Not quite, but a bit. Also Welcome To Night Vale.’ Follow our channel for more delights and daftness.

Anyway here are a couple of mine, from a series called The Drama Farmer which relates YouTube drama on people who don’t exist:

And here’s my favourite one of Steve’s:

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Massive Gothic Nonfiction Book Pile For Halloween

Hello all! Merry day once more!

All year I’ve been on and off reading a big pile of gothic nonfiction books. A couple you might recognise but the majority will be new.

The video is prerecorded and my hair actually looks like this now: 

Such is the magic of the digital era.

Books mentioned:

Caitlin Doughty: Smoke Gets In Your Eyes

Colin Dickey: Ghostland

Charlotte Gordon: Romantic Outlaws (Mary Shelley and Mary Wollstonecraft)

Malcolm Gaskill: Witchfinders

Stacey Schiff: The Witches

Phyllis Grosskurth: Byron

Ossian Brown: Haunted Air

Michael Lesy: Wisconsin Death Trip

Race, Drugs and Lynch Before Lynch – 7 Of The Weirdest Pre-Code Hollywood Movies

Good day my little vegetarian sausage sandwiches, here’s another dose of weird things to soothe the constant rumble of the sponges in your brains.

I love everything about pre-code Hollywood movies from dubious morals to glamorous women, especially if those women got their jewels and furs via nefarious means a la Red Headed Woman, Baby Face and Midnight Mary. Interesting tidbit, Red Headed Woman was one of many vehicles originally meant for Clara Bow which she turned down due to her lack of interest in Hollywood after sound hit.

However some pretty odd films emerged, strange to today’s eyes either because of attitudes (black people relegated to servants with one line is never an easy watch but some go even further), artistic weirdness or sheer incompetence.

  1. Kongo (1932)

An odd curio, fascinating for its unadulterated ugliness and gleeful wallowing in mankind’s lowest nature.kongoposter

A disabled man living in remote Congo is believed by the local tribe to be a God due to his parlour tricks, because of course the African natives are simpletons who would revere anyone who can produce birds from a small tin. He also speaks to them with the broken English usually reserved for Native American stereotypes. He lives for revenge, believing a girl he sent to a convent years before is the product of his wife’s affair with another man.

His plan comes to fruition when he has the girl, raised in purity and naivete, brought to his claustrophobic home for he and his small group to torture. She goes from sweet girl to alcoholic harridan in 0.5 seconds, her only hope being a doctor addicted to a local root.

Interestingly the gang includes ‘Mexican spitfire’ Lupe Velez, who either drowned in the murderatthevanitiestoilet after taking pills to commit suicide, cracked her head on the bowl or lay resplendent upon the bed, depending on which story you believe.

2. Murder At The Vanities (1934)

Murder at the Vanities is an entertainingly daft musical comedy about attempted murder.

While by no means a brilliant film (some of the songs are terrible!), it’s a ritzy, glitzy screwball story of backstage jealousy and lies. There’s enough pre-code moments to satisfy including almost nude ladies and the oddest Hollywood musical number I’ve ever seen (see clip below). It’s good fun and doesn’t really try to be anything else, with enough what the…? moments (or wtf if you want to be modern about it) to keep it entertaining.

Sweet Marijuana With Sing A Long Lyrics

3. Freaks (1932)

I couldn’t really make this list without Freaks, a classic of horror and sideshow cinema. You could dismiss it as Ableism, and you can’t deny their ‘otherness’ is used as a disturbing climax, a “primal, oozing nightmare” as Mark Gatiss so beautifully said in BBC series A History of Horror.

However director Tod Browning famously lived and worked in circuses and the performers are mainly depicted sympathetically. The real monster is Cleopatra, the beautiful Trapeze artist, who manipulates Hans the dwarf into marrying her and then slowly begins to poison him for his money. The merry nature of the ‘freaks’ contrasted with Cleopatra’s ugly soul is best shown in the famous and oft mimicked wedding dinner scene.

Despite the success of Dracula (featuring, of course, Bela Lugosi), Tod Browning lost his momentum when sound came in and faded from the business.

One Of Us Gooble Gobble

4. Maniac (1934)

The infamous Dwain Esper took his independent movies on travelling tours around maniacdwainesperAmerica, showing them in tents and burlesque houses. They include gems like How To Undress In Front Of Your Husband and the soporific Narcotic. However Maniac is arguably his most entertainingly bad film which 366 Weird Movies says “seems to be the work of an actual madman.”

I’d love to tell you what on earth is going on but I really don’t know. There’s a mad scientist and his assistant doing experiments on returning the dead to life in your average, run-of-the-mill Hollywood lab. There’s intertitles explaining various ‘diseases of the mind,’ then there’s cats fighting. Then the assistant kills the scientist, seems to forget he’s supposed to be bringing him back and decides to brick him up in the wall in a reference to Edgar Allen Poe’s Black Cat and, as though this reference reminds him, he gets offended by a nearby cat and plucks out it’s eye in a surprisingly well done piece of gory special effects.

At the same time there’s a nude girl they’ve taken from the morgue and a man they’ve injected with over-actor’s juice. They collide in one of the oddest ‘monster carrying off girl’ scenes I’ve ever witnessed – he seems to decide her boobs aren’t showing enough and puts her down to expose them further before carrying on.

The Entire Film

5. Murder! (1930)

From the deep, dark vaults of Hitchcock’s British films lurks this unassuming little who dunnit. A woman is killed and another is on trial for it, though she doesn’t remember committing the act. One of the jurors believes her to be innocent and begins his own investigation. Hitchcock himself wasn’t fond of who dunnits but he does the best he can, ensuring at least one visually arresting moment is included by way of a circus performance at the climax.

Spoiler:

What makes this film so uncomfortable is the reason behind the killing of one woman and theroadtoruinframing of the other – she was telling her the secret of one of the acrobats, that he is half black. Knowing the acrobat is involved in the murder somehow but not yet knowing why, the juror asks the imprisoned woman if she was in love with him. “No,” she says, horrified, “it’s impossible.” “Why?” he asks, before she explains he is ‘half-caste.’

Attitudes change, as we know, and perhaps it’s a plausible reason for killing. After all, it could have spelled the end of his career. However it’s not Hitchcock’s best film so you won’t be missing much if you decide to give it a pass.

6. The Road To Ruin  (1934)

Dirty books have a lot to answer for, leading to sex, drinking and ultimately games of dice. And death. Or at least according to this propaganda piece from 1934 they do. In fact the weirdest thing about this film is its lack of bad behaviour – a young girl makes a new friend who introduces her to drinking and a new boyfriend, though she gets tired of him and moves on to someone else.

After a party the girls are examined by a doctor and denounced ON PAPER as sex delinquents, and she dies in disgrace when an out of wedlock pregnancy forces her into a backstreet abortion. Should have stayed at home reading knitting magazines.

The Entire Film

The Story of Temple Drake (1933)

A wayward young lady (Miriam Hopkins, one of my favourite pre code ladies) spends her time teasing men and spurning the proposals of an upstanding but boring lawyer. One night she goes on a drive with a man and crashes in a rainstorm, and then things get weird.

MMDSTOF EC006

They make their way to a shack occupied by a rural family and a group of gangsters hiding out from the cops. The acting is dreamlike and strange and each male presence is sexually threatening, creating a nightmarish atmosphere. Finally one man, a gangster named Trigger, crashes into the shed she takes refuge in.

It’s never 100 per cent clear what motivates her afterwards and therein lies the most peculiar aspect of the film. Who is this lady? Is she a moll who willingly follows Trigger to the city, or is she a victim of kidnap or Stockholm syndrome? Is it, as often lies in dreams, somewhere in between? Not to mention the heavy symbolism laced throughout the narrative (when Temple falls in court it’s in the shape of one crucified).

Acidemic makes a fascinating case for this as an early Lynchian story of the subconscious, and there’s a great post on PreCode.com too.

The film itself is unavailable to buy but the whole thing is on YouTube. I’ve added it below because I’m brilliant and you love me.

The Entire Film In A Playlist

Surrealist Cinema Documentary Presented by David Lynch (BBC Arena 1987)

Hello my tiny emblems of creative pride!

Next week I shall be the busiest I have been since the last time I was really busy so, to make up for the fact that I may not be able to post, I shall share with you a documentary on Surrealist Cinema that was shown on the BBC in 1987 for a series called Arena. If you haven’t watched the others you should; there’s a great one on silent actress Louise Brooks and another on Japanese writer Yukio Mishima and his bizarre end. I am fascinated by a bizarre end, I can’t help it.

I notice he possibly didn’t have time to include Bunuel or Un Chien Andalou, but you can’t include everything.

So, here it is: David Lynch on Surrealist Cinema:

Maddie’s bizarre book club 4: including Bad Mags, fiction inspired by David Lynch, Anais Nin and Under the Skin teaser footage

Welcome to another round of literary oddities. Come in, sit down, pull up a chair and start crying.

Me at a party flicking through The Mammoth Book of Erotic Photography
Me at a party flicking through The Mammoth Book of Erotic Photography

1. Under the Skin by Michael Faber. Michael Faber is the author of Crimson Petal and the White (which was brilliantly adapted by the BBC, very unlike your usual TV period romp).

I don’t want to say too much about this dark sci-fi else I give it away, but I read it in summer and truly felt the cold of the lonely Scottish highlands and was enthralled by the ideas behind it. The only other thing I’ll tell you is that it almost made me turn vegetarian again…

It’s apparently being adapted as a film by Jonathan Glazer (of Sexy Beast and Birth) with the very lovely Scarlett Johansson. Here’s a disturbing piece of teaser footage:

2. In Heaven Everything is Fine by Various. I love David Lynch and I love the fact that he inspires other people to be creative. I found some of the stories in this book pretty and thought provoking but others somewhat… impenetrable.

However that’s my own opinion and everyone will get something different from it. Just be aware that linear narrative isn’t always something Mr Lynch is strictly concerned with and neither should you be if you’re going to give this a try.

3. Incest by Anais Nin. One of the most famous diarists other than Samuel Pepys, Anais Nin was a creative bohemian who wrote of her affair with both Henry Miller and his wife June which later became the basis of her first ‘unexpergated’ diary Henry and June.

The next book released with all the exciting bits left in, Incest, includes a bizarre affair with her own father, possibly a result of the now recognised ‘disorder’ known as Genetic Sexual Attraction as they hadn’t seen each other for twenty years.

Though I was at first put off by her over-wrought style and inflamed passions I was soon drawn into her beautiful and poetic vision of the world, and came to love her writing for those very things.

4. Extra-Terrestrial Sex Fetish by Supervert. Partly a wry take on scientific musings of how a person may cope with a fetish for aliens – a fantasy that can never be realised due to their absence from this planet – and partly one man’s erotic journey through an alien world laced with philosophical pondering evoking the Marquis De Sade. The main character is even called Mercury De Sade.

There’s a lot of intelligence behind the daft humour and I liked this book very much. Plus there’s a video clip of porn star Stoya reading from his/her other book Necrophiliac Variations whilst something is going on under the table.

5. Bad Mags Volume 1: The Strangest, Sleaziest and Most Unusual Periodicals Ever Published! by Tom Brinkmann. I’m not sure how many volumes there actually are of Bad Mags, but I’m fairly confident that there are enough strange magazines out there to fill several copies of these reference books and Tom Brinkmann appears to know a lot about them.

Bad Mags focuses on the same places in pop culture that midnight movies live, featuring such publications as Official UFO, Mobs and Gangs, Bizarre Life, Shocker, Love-In, Horror Fantasy, Wildest Films, Freakout, Biker Orgy and literally tons more. How can there be more? You ask. Read it and find out.

Well, there we are, I hope your eyes have remained clean and your mind untroubled. Read them and try not to weep. Au revoir!

Maddie’s bizarre book club 2, plus porn stars reading aloud

Haunted Air 1
Haunted Air by Ossian Brown

Merry Spring! Tis the time for daffodils, blue skies and wildly raging hormones. But wait, get that poor nude fellow down from the Wicker Man, you can burn him later. First on the agenda is a new pile of extremely odd books.

1. The Hearing Trumpet by Leonora Carrington. One of the surrealist crowd and lover of Max Ernst, Leonora’s life seems as bizarre as any of her work. The book itself is intriguing and oddly refreshing – the main characters are all women in their 90s, an age group usually included in fiction to generate sympathy or to hilariously utter a swear word at the wrong moment. However these are real characters featured among the increasingly bizarre carryings on.

Haunted Air by Ossian Brown
Haunted Air by Ossian Brown

2. People With Holes by Heather Fowler.  The nominal first story in this collection made my brain crackle, which is my way of saying I found the thoughts it induced exciting. I will say there were perhaps one too many ‘people turning into animal’ stories but that’s my own opinion obviously, and there are plenty of other varieties of story. For any fans of magic realism or anything a bit different this is for you, and the way she writes pulled me right in.

3. A Million Versions of Right by Matthew Revert. Definitely an odd’un, this is also very funny. If your mind can take the battering from this surreal short story collection (one character’s job is to insult walls) I promise you chuckles a plenty.

That nice actress lady Stoya
That nice actress lady Stoya

4. Haunted Air: ‘A Collection of Anonymous Hallowe’en Photographs America c. 1875 – 1955‘ by Ossian Brown. Haunting, weird, fascinating and a little disturbing, this is literally a bunch of photos from various sources on Halloween, and yet it’s much more than that. Who are they? What did they do just seconds afterwards? With photos reminiscent of Diane Arbus, needless to say the foreword is by David Lynch.

Well, there we are! A few books to be going on with until next time. In the meantime here is a post about some lovely pornographic actresses, including that nice Stoya Doll, reading poetry and prose aloud. NSFW, kind of.

All you need for spooky Christmas viewing

It’s definately wintery here; sometimes snowing, then raining, then both at once. Christmas will soon be upon us! I’ve decided in future to put up Halloween decorations for Christmas rather than the traditional although I’d still have a tree, just an unusually adorned one. I don’t abide by all this ‘I hate Christmas’ cynicism, put tinsel in your hair and run through the streets naked and weeping I say! I’m not remotely religious but there’s always time to do that. Unless you’re Jewish. Or Muslim. Or Hindu. Or Budhist. Or Sikh or…something else.

Anyway…rather than watching repeats of Only Fools and Horses for the 500th time I’ve concocted a witch’s brew of eye goodies to make Christmas a spooky, strange or otherwise unusual affair, as I often do each year. If you don’t own any of these things I recommend them.

1: The Last American Freak Show. A documentary by Richard Butchins covering the exploits of a modern day travelling freak show. Reality, as is often the case, never quite lives up to expectation and Richard, a disabled man himself, struggles with the implications of the show and the haphazard way its run.

2. Freaks. It just makes sense to watch it after viewing the first one. Made in 1932, Tod Browning’s film is as good as ever.

3. Psychoville Halloween special. I love all of psychoville, particularly the librarian, but the Halloween special is a good spooky/funny standalone hour.

4. The League of Gentleman Christmas special. Same as above but different and more Christmas orientated. And brilliant.

5. Amicus horror compilations. The above two are heavily influenced by such films as Tales from the Crypt and The Vault of Horror. Entertaining fun!

6. The Others. I love this film. Alejandro Amenábar’s direction is extremely atmospheric with enough fog for an early Hammer horror. Plus Christopher Eccleston’s in it and I love him.

7. Oddities. It’s ridiculous fluff in the style of Pawn Stars for weirdos but I enjoy it, I think its fun. Watch it online somewhere or on Discovery Realtime.

8. Coraline. It’s cute! From a story originally by Neil Gaiman and directed by Nightmare Before Christmas’ Henry Selick.

9. Black Mirror. Disturbing viewing and best avoided during the festive dinner, but otherwise Charlie Brooker’s three stories are amazing and necessary watching.

10. Dr Who. The disturbing episodes are my favourites, usually either by League of Gentleman co-writer Mark Gatiss (also have a look at his History of Horror on BBC 4) or head writer Steven Moffat.

11. Dead Set. Again by Charlie Brooker its tense, atmospheric and Derren Brown co-writer Andy Nyman gets to spout some very inventive insults.

12. Derren Brown. Is it wrong to find him hammering nails up his nose and walking on glass slightly erotic? My favourites are the disturbing series Trick or Treat, live show Something Wicked This Way Comes, his latest offerings The Experiments and the third series of Tricks of the Mind.

13. Twin Peaks. Zavvi are currently selling the gold disc set of both series plus lots of extras of Twin Peaks for just over £20. Woo hoo!

So there concludes our festive list of fun. There’s bound to be things I’ve forgotten, but try not to wail and rend your garments until you’ve at least opened your presents. Farewell!