Monday, February 22, 2010

The Blind Wolf in Interrogation: An Interview with Kurando Mitsutake

It's been a while since Macabresque was updated, but we return with a killer interview with Kurando Mitsutake, writer, director, actor of Samurai Avenger: Blind Wolf, whom our devoted (!) readers would remember from Macabresque diaries of Fantastic Planet. Kurando, who recently moved to Japan from L.A. to continue his film career there, has kindly taken the time in his busy schedule to answer a few questions for us.

How did you start your film career? Could you tell us about the films you have been involved in?

After film school, my first job in the film industry was to assistant produce DVD extras for New Line Cinema. I worked with one producer on behind the scene documentaries and audio commentaries for many films including Rush Hour, Lost in Space, and Blade.

Then I worked for a Japanese TV production company in Los Angeles as a production manager during which time I made a directorial debut with a Japanese TV program called @TV.

After a few years I was able to make my first feature film called Monsters Don't Get to Cry.

Around that same time, I worked as a visual effect assistant for The Grudge 2 and was the Assistant Director for the film’s reshoot sequence in Chicago.

I was also the director's assistant on 20th Century Fox's Shutter as well.

You also took part in several projects as an actor, including the popular TV series, Heroes and Ugly Betty according to IMDB. Could you tell us about your acting career? How do you find time to act in other projects while you also work on your own films?

My acting career started as an accident. After I finished my first feature, my friends and I made a short film called Samurai Avenger: Lone Wolf Blood. We did this short film to raise money for the feature version which evolved into Samurai Avenger: The Blind Wolf.

Since we had no budget for the short, I cast myself as a side character. When the short was done, one of my friends who is a working professional actor told me he wanted to introduce me to his agent. From there one thing led to another and I signed with that agent and got very, very lucky with my run as an actor in Hollywood.

But when I launched “Samurai Avenger: The Blind Wolf”, I had to stop taking auditions because I had to dedicate all of myself to the picture.

How did Samurai Avenger: The Blind Wolf come about? What were your inspirations? Could you also tell us a bit about the production process? How did you decide to write, direct and star in the film?

I always wanted to do a samurai movie, especially with a good kick ass revenge storyline. So the concept for LONE WOLF – THE SAMURAI AVENGER was with me for almost a decade.

I love classic samurai chambara films but they are so expensive to do them right. Costumes, wigs, props, and locations... So I decided to create a parallel world - Wild West meets Samurai East. In this world, I could tell a classic tale of revenge which I always wanted to tell but with a small budget, it was “everything is possible”.

In the low budget independent film making world, one must wear as many hats as possible. This is the reason why I ended up doing so much for this movie.
 The decision for me to play the lead character was purely an economical one too. It is very difficult to secure an actor who can commit to a long feature film shoot with a very small budget. So I thought since I'm there on the set everyday anyway, why not play the main character. Also the fact I had a very lucky career as an actor helped my decision.

Were you influenced by the revival of/homage to old exploitation films popularized by Quentin Tarantino?

I have always been a huge fan of those genre pictures from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s. I am happy to see the revival, but was already influenced by those films.

Do you think Samurai Avenger is an homage to exploitation/martial arts/spaghetti western films or does it parody them?

I guess it's both. But more homage with all my love and respect to those films, especially spaghetti western and Japanese chambara films.

Would it be safe to say there were some references to Jodorowsky’s El Topo aside from all the other exploitation film references? Is there a surreal/underground cinema influence in the film?

I love Mr. Jodorowsky's work but I'm a bigger fan of Santa Sangre than El Topo, if I had to choose.

Many people have seen influences from El Topo in Samurai Avenger, but it wasn't intentionally done. Samurai Avenger was influenced by such filmmakers like Kenji Musumi and Sergio Corrbucci.

How has the film been received? What is it like to make an exploitation film in an age mostly driven by political correctness?

Samurai Avenger has been received really well by the genre film fans from all over the world. I guess because mainstream films have gone very politically correct, there is a huge demand for edgier more exploitative films.

Samurai Avenger was screened at 9 film festivals in 5 countries in 2009. We received best picture awards from Fantastic Planet film festival in Sydney Australia and Indie Fest USA in Anaheim California. So far, we have secured distribution in several countries with many more hopefully to come.

Can you tell us about your future projects? It looks like there might be a sequel to Samurai Avenger…

My next picture might be a "Mondo" style fake documentary on Japan. Another homage to the exploitation genre film.

Another picture that's in the works is a hard boiled gun action movie. After a sword fighting movie like Samurai Avenger, I really want to do a gun fight movie.

I am hoping to do a sequel to Samurai Avenger too. We have to see how well it does commercially in the world first. If it does well, I'm sure we can raise money for the sequel.

Any advice to aspiring filmmakers?

The life of both a commercial or independent filmmaker isn't an easy one. So I wouldn't recommend it to anyone. But if you must make a movie, do a feature not a short film. If you plan well and execute the plan well, you might get lucky and the film might be distributed. That won't happen for short films.

Any last words?

Please find and watch Samurai Avenger. If you enjoyed it, recommend it to your friends. With the strong word of mouth, it might ultimately lead us to make the sequel. Thank you!

PS: To find out more about Samurai Avenger and Kurando's work, visit

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Fantastic Planet Sydney Science Fiction and Fantasy Film Festival, Diary # 4

The next day of the Fantastic Planet Film Festival was also the last day. The closing night film was Franklyn (UK), directed by Gerald McMorrow (2008). It was described in the festival catalogue as “Part steampunk fantasy, part super-hero adventure, part love story, Franklyn takes you on a unique cinematic journey to a place where fantasy and reality blur.”

Franklyn intertwines the stories of four characters in contemporary London and the fictional Meanwhile City, where most of the steampunk fantasy/superhero adventure takes place. Jonathan Preest (Ryan Philippe) is a masked vigilante a la Rorschach from Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' Watchmen. He relentlessly looks for his archenemy known as the Individual in the religion driven urbanscape of Meanwhile City. Milo (Sam Riley), who has been through a nasty break up, starts looking for his first love. Emilia (Eva Green), a troubled and suicidal art student, is in the process of creating a very personal work of art while trying to resolve family issues with her mum. Peter (Bernard Hill), looks for his son who has escaped from a mental institution. Their lives are brought together in a climactic final scene.

Franklyn might be a bit disappointing for people who expect more of the promised steampunk/superhero action, but rewarding for people looking for a psychological drama with some fantasy overtones. The scenes which portray Meanwhile City are quite visually stunning, and show evidence of a detailed concept design. Considering the acting is mostly sub par – or maybe intentionally downplayed - one kind of wants to see more of those scenes rather than the dramatic lives of the London characters. Yet, I should say that it is quite an unusual film and might deserve a second viewing.

After the screening, I stayed for the awards ceremony and the after party and had a chance to chat with the organizers as well as some of the filmmakers. And this, sadly, brings us to the end of yet another successful film event. Nothing left to do but wait for the next A Night of Horror!


Here’s a list of films that won awards in the festival:

Short Films

Best Animation: Deconstruct

Best Australian Short: Oxygen

Audience Choice: The Drawing

Best Short Film: Intoxicant

Best Visual Effects (of both short and feature films): Burden

Feature Films:

Best Special Effects: Samurai Avenger: The Blind Wolf

Best Performance: Julie Carlson and Jadin Gould (Cryptic)

Best Australian Performance: Chris Baker (1 and 0 nly)

Best Director: Faye Jackson (Strigoi)

Best Australian Film: Eraser Children

Best Film of the Festival: Samurai Avenger: The Blind Wolf

Best Screenplays:

Short: Kitten

Feature: Time and Again

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Fantastic Planet Sydney Science Fiction and Fantasy Film Festival, Diary #3

On November 5 Thursday (when we all remember, remembered!), I went to see two sessions of the fantastic Fantastic Planet film festival. The first of these was the Shorts Program # 4: Future attacks, and the other one was the “sushi western” Samurai Avenger: The Blind Wolf, directed by Kurando Mitsutake.

The shorts program included seven films, all of which were, I think, quite good, but some more so than the others. The first film of the session, Burden ( (Michael David Lynch, 2009 – 10 minutes), was one of the most visually stunning films in the festival (and won the best visual effects award in the festival). The film tells the story of a ‘watcher’ with super powers called Calik, who decides to take action when the earth is invaded by aliens. Michael David Lynch (that’s a killer name for the film industry, I reckon) was there to present his film and answer some questions at the end. We’ve learnt that this was a student project and it cost around 50.000 USD to make and that he’s hoping to turn it into a feature length film.

Burden was followed by Spaceman on Earth (Shant Hamassian, 2009), which was a live action/animation parody of 50s sci fi films, and particularly their main characters. Next, we watched Marooned? (Ryan Nagata, 2009), which had a similar approach to 1950s sci fi, as it was shot in b&w and featured two space traveler characters in marooned (?) on a planet with savage inhabitants, it had a twist which turned into a terrorizing tale of amnesia, murder, and geekery!

After the first three films, which were all from the US, we watched the 26 minute long short from Taiwan: Intoxicant by John Hsu (2008). The film re-imagines the internet forum setting as an actual room where the real life people put notices in a board where their actions are controlled by moderators, then turns this into a setting for a tale of mystery, in which the forum is under threat of an attack by a hacker. Intoxicant won the best short film award, and probably deserved it, too!

The Un-gone (Simon Bovey, 2006) hailed from the UK and was set in a future when molecular transportation is possible. However, there is a dark secret behind this form of transportation, which Julian Salinger, the protagonist, finds out to his utter displeasure. The Un-gone was followed by the Australian short Oxygen (David Norris, 2008) was a dystopia, in which the world’s oxygen supplies are in shortage, and people live in airtight houses, in which air is supplied by the government. Xavier, a maintenance worker, is free to get out of his house with a special suit and fix people’s oxygen supply machines. Gradually, he finds out about a terrible plot to keep the society under control. I thought it was really well-made and the costume and set design was really successful. (It can be watched in its entirety on imdb)

The last film of the session was The Attack of the Robots from Nebula-5 (Chema García Ibarra, 2008) was short little film from Spain, about a disabled young man, and his fixed belief in an imminent attack by

Robots from Nebula-5, for which he tries to warn his parents, to no avail.

After the shorts session, I went on to see Samurai Avenger: The Blind Wolf (Kurando Mitsutake, 2009), which I have been looking forward to after reading the blurb in the festival program – “imagine a Kill Bill on steroids!”. The film has a basic storyline, in which a nameless Japanese man, sets out to kill the man, Nathan Flesher, who has blinded him and killed his wife (after raping her) and his daughter. While Nathan Flesher is in prison, the nameless man (Kurando Mitsutake) learns the ways of the samurai and becomes a swordsmaster despite his blindness. On his way to kill flesher upon his release from prison, he learns that he’ll have to encounter seven deadly assasins and kill them. In his quest, he meets an American swordsman who calls himself the Drifter and who decides to help the “Blind Wolf’s” cause. So they start killing the assasins one by one, till they reach Nathan Flesher.

The writer/director/star Kurando Mitsutake defines the film as a sushi western, drawing its influences from the martial arts and spaghetti western films as well as 70s exploitation films. He cited films/series like Lone Wolf and Cub and Django among the films that inspired him to make this films during the Q&A. It’s easy to compare his films to Quentin Tarantino’s homage films like Kill Bill and Death Proof, as with the martial arts/western mixture in the formula and with the ‘restored grindhouse film’ aesthetic he is going for. However, Mitsutake made a short film called Samurai Avenger Lone Wolf Blood – Episode 24 as early as 2004, which formed the basis of the Blind Wolf and he claims he had thought about the “restored look” prior to the release of Grindhouse, and was worried upon hearing that Tarantino was making a film like the one he had in mind. Setting the questions of originality aside, Samurai Avenger provides a good 90 minutes of fun for the exploitation film aficionado, with its over the top violence (including a scene which involves a c section with a samurai sword!), litres of gushing/spraying blood, zombies, witches, and flashback explanations of several martial arts sword techniques, cheesy acting and one-liners etc. Although Mitsutake didn’t mention it among his influences, I thought the film also had an El Topo vibe going on with the Blind Wolf’s costume, the desert setting, and the general surreal mood.

It was surprising to find out that the budget was “way way way below half a million USD” (Mitsutake didn’t disclose the actual budget) as the special effects looked really good, but Mitsutake informed us that there were quite a number of volunteers and interns involved, so that kind of explains it. The film won the best film award and best special effects awards, quite deservingly. I got to have a chat to Kurando Mitsutake and had my picture taken with him too!

The diary will be concluded with the closing night of the festival. Coming soon!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Fantastic Planet Sydney Science Fiction and Fantasy Film Festival, Diary #2

The official opening night of the Fantastic Planet film festival on October 30, hosted the world premiere of the Aussie sci-fi dystopia Eraser Children (Nathan Christoffel, 2009). I arrived at Dendy Newtown about half an hour earlier and got a chance to see the pre-screening activities, such as actor Jonathan Welsby interviewing the cast and the crew in his stockings and make up with a gun shaped microphone – possibly for a DVD featurette. The walls were decorated with Misner Corporation posters, and there were promotional badges sitting on one of the tables for us to pick. Around 7 pm, Dean Bertram (PhD) ordered us to go to the theatre in his dystopian policeman attire, shouting “Hail Misner!

Eraser Children is set in a future where a corporation called Misner rules the world. Misner Corporation erases people’s memories to turn them into more effective workers. There is a long list of violations that govern the society, including dreaming and having original thoughts. There are people who refuse to live in these conditions, called the resistance and they live underground as social outcasts. The protagonist, Finnegan Wright (Fionn Quinlan) is a low rank worker in the Misner Corporation who proofreads the violations written by Maximum Blizzard (Jonathan Welsby). One day he is kidnapped by Alfred Fleemort (Shane Nagle) who is part of the resistance movement and who tries to help him regain his memories persuade Wright to kill Misner.

The film, presenting a dystopic future, has obvious references to the masterpieces of the genre such as 1984 and Brazil. During the Q & A, director Christoffel pointed out Brazil as their main influence. So, in terms of the message, it is hard to say Eraser Children is saying anything that hasn’t been said before – a totalitarian regime ruled by a corporation, headed by a man who can associated with Hitler (“Hail Misner”), however, it has a compelling plot, and also details – both visual and narrative – that makes it worthwhile to watch – such as the intercutting advertisements, which give the audience a feel of what it would be like living in Misner’s world. Also, the use of super 8 cameras in dream sequences have led to some visually stunning scenes – and the cinematographer Adrian Kristoffersen deserve some praise for his work not only in those sequences but throughout the entire film.

One of the gems of the Fantastic Planet, for me, was the UK production Strigoi (Faye Jackson, 2008), which was set in Romania and introduced to many of us the title monster that we haven’t come across before. A strigoi is a vampire-like creature in Romanian folklore. They can be either dead people returning from the grave (strigoi morti) or born that way (strigoi vii). In Strigoi, A young man called Vlad, who has been living in Italy, goes back to his village in Romania to find out about a conspiracy of land ownership that involves everyone including the priest, the villagers, the mayor, the rich landowners and the police. There has been some suspicious deaths, and some of the deceased insist on rising from their graves at night to haunt the villagers, suck their blood and, err… eat all the food in their fridges. Young Vlad is resolved to solve the mysteries and fight the undead.

You might think, “just the thing we need, another bloody vampire movie, as if we don’t have enough of those already” but Strigoi brings a refreshing light to this tired old genre. It has a feeling of authenticity to it, being set in Romania and using folk myths specific to that geography. It also has that rare quality of being able to carry a humorous tone all throughout and at the same time being creepy as hell. Imagine one of your deceased neighbours coming to your house at night when you’re alone, and eat all the food in the fridge in grotesque manner and imagine yourself trying to cook more food, because you know when there’s no more food left, she will come and suck your blood! It is kind of funny in a bone chilling way. In that sense Strigoi reminds me of one of my favourite films of all times, Cemetery Man (Dellamorte Dellamore, Michele Soavi, 1994) and I think anyone who likes that film will like this one too.

Macabresque Diary of Fantastic Planet will continue with reviews of sci-fi shorts and Samurai Avenger: The Blind Wolf!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Fantastic Planet Sydney Science Fiction and Fantasy Film Festival, Diary #1

Last Saturday was a good day for sci fi. We kicked off the day with Moon (Duncan Jones, 2009), which I’ve been meaning to see for the last few weeks. I’ll put off writing a review for that one, since this post is about the first – of, we hope, many to come – Fantastic Planet Sydney Science Fiction and Fantasy Film Festival. Organised by the masterminds of A Night of Horror Film Festival, Dean Bertram (PhD) and Lisa Mitchell, Fantastic Planet promises a wide range of sf&f features and shorts, forums and parties. What a great occasion for yet another Macabresque diary!

We found out about the pre-festival event before we went in to see Moon. Upon learning it was taking place in the inimitable Mu Meson Archives, we decided to go and immerse ourselves in more indie sci-fi goodness. The night’s program included screenings of La Crème (Reynald Bertrand, 2007) and 1 and 0 nly (Martyn Park, 2008) as well as a Q&A with director Martyn Park and producer/star Christopher Baker.

The French film La Crème is a fantasy/comedy about an unemployed salesman, François Mangin, who receives a mysterious jar of facial cream, which seems to have magical qualities, as a Christmas present. Whenever he uses the cream, people seem to think that he is a celebrity and he starts to use this as an advantage. There are side effects of course, like being accused of rape during sex when the effect of the cream wears off, and the danger of losing his wife because of the attention he gets from women.

An obvious satire on the celebrity culture, this indie French film had the feel of a rather light-hearted early Godard film. The performances of the actors were quite successful, especially those of Nicolas Abraham and Laurent Legeay, who had a nice chemistry as two rival, unemployed, almost nihilistic characters. I believe La Crème would work better as a short film, as it seems like the point is to make a commentary about the superficiality of celebrity culture, rather than telling a story. It was enjoyable enough, but you won’t miss anything if you don’t see it. That being said, we haven’t actually been able to see the end of the film because the dvd jammed, but Dean Bertram and Jack Sargeant (writer of many wonderful books such as Deathtripping and Naked Lens) mimed and narrated the last two minutes of the film for us, which I think, was better than the whole film.

The second film was the much more interesting Australian indie feature 1 and 0 nly by Martyn Park. It is one of the smallest feature films I have seen, with a crew of four – the director, the actor, the composer and the production designer (and a bird named Sir William Wallace). It tells the story of genius scientist and environmentalist Frank James Morley, who develops a way to eradicate all humanity off the face of the earth (by targeting their DNA codes only), deciding that human beings are no longer a part of the biodiversity of earth. As the 1 and 0 in the title suggests, there is a cyberpunk aspect to it as well – man converging with the machine, the rise of the digital flesh!

I must admit I was kind of annoyed and irritated by this, kind of ‘artsy’ sci fi film at first, mostly because of the constant banging of the electronic beats of the soundtrack in my eardrums, and there being no dialogues, or monologues for that matter. Sometimes there is a very thin line between a quiet, contemplative film and pretentious wankiness, and I think this film zigzags on that line. The influence of such genre films as 2001 and Solaris are obvious, but it’s not in the same caliber as they. Still, I enjoyed watching it, and I wasn’t bored despite the elements I just mentioned. The film managed to draw me in

itself in the end.

During the Q & A, the director Martyn Park talked about how he wanted the audience to think about what’s going on with the world and the environment, as it is something not everybody takes as seriously as they should. He also talked about other influences, such as Ghost in the Shell and other animes. Christopher Baker said they were making two different films in 1 and 0 nly – Christopher and the production designer Ray Rotton thought they were making a sci fi film whereas Martyn Park thought

he was making a more psychological film with the implication that Frank James Morley could actually be crazy, rather than a genius scientist and could be imagining that he killed the entire human race. I think I like the latter version better.

The Fantastic Planet is starting tonight at Dendy Newtown. You can find all the information you need at The macabresque diary will continue!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Trasharama - Dick Dale Retrospective (17-10-2009)

One cool October evening, we set out for the Mu Meson Archives in Annandale. Mu Meson is an underground cinema venue run by Jay Katz and Miss Death and they have events on every day of the week – not just film screenings, but also fun stuff like Texas Chainsaw Trivia, a trivia quiz for ‘the rest of us’ and Miss Death’s knitting, where even “boys are welcome as long as they do a craft or something useful”.

Tonight’s program is world’s first ever Dick Dale retrospective as part of Trasharama A-Go-Go: “Australia’s Nastiest Short Film FESTERval and Competition”, dedicated to trash, horror, sci fi films, and general low-brow entertainment. Dick Dale hails from Adelaide, where he’s been part of the punk scene for more or less the last two decades and has been organizing the Trasharama A-Go-Go festival since 1997. He made his first film in 1993, with his mates from the local punk scene, and since then, he’s been producing DIY gory horror and sci-fi films with ultra trash/punk aesthetics.

We climb the stairs to the Mu Meson Archives, and there is Jay Katz and Dick Dale conversing happily. They say hello to us and Jay Katz lets us in. We are the first ones to arrive. We find the most comfortable couch in this warehouse-turned-movie-theatre, full of totems and sculptures, old circus posters, dusty reel boxes, and various other paraphernalia, and start watching video works of Emergency Broadcast Network.

When we finally have two digit numbers in the venue, Dick and Jay introduce tonight’s programme: Along with the Dick Dale retrospective, we’ll be watching two documentaries on Dick’s oeuvre and the Trasharama festival.

The show starts with footage from an ongoing documentary project, Australian Trash by Daniel Knight. It focuses on Trasharama A-Go-Go and includes behind the scenes material from Dick Dale’s latest film Family Bizness. It also features interviews with friends of Dick - filmmakers, actors and sfx artists and other misfits, such as Jero Cocksmith, Barry Cree and Mike Nichols among others. This is a timely documentary, considering the good reviews Mark Hartley’s Not Quite Hollywood received last year. Not Quite Hollywood showcased low-budget Aussie films of the 70s and 80s, and Australian Trash seems to be giving us a glimpse of what happened to low budget/no budget filmmaking films in Australia in the 90s and 2000s.

Australian Trash is followed by a series of Dick Dale films, the first of which is Space Yobbysey (1996). Inspired by Thunderbirds, and starring action figures, the film is about a futuristic Australian yobbo couple landing in Mars, and annoying the hell out of a local by such activities as having sex, and a barbecue party.

We then move on to a DVD titled Cheesy Knob Nasties, which collects Dick Dale’s works from 1997 to 2004. The first of these is The Beast From Bomb Beach, made with a budget of 500$ - obtained from Social Security. It appears that the film is about a sea monster attacking a kid on the beach, but as the DVD freezes, we’re not able to watch the whole thing – at this point Jay and Dick start ranting about digital technologies and yearn for the beauties of VHS. Dick tells us that The Beast came second in Foxtel’s Graveyard Shift competition and won 1000$, which provided the budget for his next film (after Dick organized a keg party for his crew with some of that money).

His next film, Flies can be described as a psychedelic mad scientist movie. An LSD experiment goes wrong – a scientist is stabbed in the eye with a syringe *ouch* and hallucinates that this lady is, in fact, a giant fly. He kills her and takes her for a drive. When he’s about to have his way with her corpse, the drug wears off and he finds himself in the car with hundreds of flies (which were actual, not sfx, flies!) It’s easy to see this film has a higher budget from the great giant fly and the corpse models. It is sad – but also kind of hilarious – to hear that the fly model was eaten by rats.

Up next, we have Yowie, which was made in either 98 or 99 according to Dick. It is an eco-horror/mutant soldier film. After John Yowie, a soldier who fought in Iraq and then turned into a mutant because of some experiments performed on him, kills an innocent boy, his commander – in true First Blood style – hunts him down in the outback with the help of and aboriginal tracker. They think they’ve got him, but they fail to take some friends of Yowie’s – what seem to be drop bears – into account. Dick says this forms the base of his current feature project, which we look forward to seeing!

Yowie is followed by a music video Dick made for his band Kamikaze: Swamp Baby Succubus. It was shot

at 5 pm in a graveyard in Adelaide, and it captures the performance of a naked woman with vagina dentata and a huge snake around her neck to the catchy punk tunes of Kamikaze. Dick says the shooting was completed hastily, giving no time to the police to come and interrupt. Listen to the song on Triple J Unearthed website!

Creamy Love was intended as an entry for Tropfest for the producers who funded it, yet it ended up being rejected as it is a bit low brow (as you would expect). It tells the story of an encounter between unsuccessful porn actor Ricky Wilderbeast and the Devil. The Devil, clad as an ice-cream salesman, offers Ricky fame and success in return for his first born. Thinking he’ll never have any children Ricky accepts, but things take an unexpected turn when his girlfriend Bianca Bang Bang gets pregnant.

Dick’s next film is not a film but a faux trailer for a non-existent film called Pelican Boy, which was inspired by Storm Boy and Surf Nazis Must Die – a heartwarming story of a boy and his pelican. As we watch this coming of age story infested with nazi pirates and zombie pelicans, we can’t help but wish that there were a feature length version of it. Mic Bradshaw must have thought the same thing, as he made a 37 minute “making of” documentary for this five minute trailer, which we watch right after Pelican Boy.

Mic Bradshaw’s documentary is titled Social Security Spielberg, and it tells the story of Dick Dale making films on social security loans while he’s working in day jobs or on the dole. Again, there are interviews with Dick’s circle of friends and colleagues, and fun stuff like how the special effects for Pelican Boy, such as the flying/exploding garfish, and the undead pelican, were made, and the details of a police raid on the set.

We have a brief interval while Miss Death serves her homemade pumpkin soup and rants about people RSVPing to the Mu Meson events but not showing up. Things don’t seem to be looking up on the Mu Meson front – they need more attendance, or the venue might be shut down. Hence, the Save the Mu Meson Archives on facebook.

As Dick is talking to Miss Death, I approach him and introduce myself. I tell him I will be writing a piece about him and the retrospective and ask him if I could take a picture. Jay Katz joins in the conversation, we talk about the Turkish Star Wars and the Turkish Exorcist, and they both say good things about the films. I take their pictures and take my seat as they prepare for the second part of the program.

It’s Dick’s latest film, Family Bizness, or in his words “his Michael Jackson film”. An homage to Lovecraft and Stuart Gordon’s Re-Animator, and - well - Michael Jackson, the film opens with Michael singing a mock version of Beat It and dancing on the street with his gang. He goes home and his father slaps him and tells him off for being late and they start their hideous experiments of re-animating the dead. It turns into a family drama when Michael’s father kills his pet freak/lover Bubbles for the experiment and mother gets involved in the situation. What’s interesting is this was made before Michael Jackson’s death.

Tonight’s last and maybe the most special film is Blue Dog, made in 1993 on a VHS camera (that Dick reckons was stolen by the guy who sold it to him) with zero budget. Directed by “Dick Disease” and infused with grained images, awful sound recording, a booming punk soundtrack, a cast of punks high on hallucinogens with faces painted blue as part of their roles as zombies, this film was a masterpiece of lo-fi/punk/DIY filmmaking. We’re informed in the end credits that all the animals in this film were raped and killed – and said animals are comprised of a toy blue dog – a dangerous alien which triggers the zombie epidemic by attacking one of the punks. Blue Dog hasn’t been released anywhere in 16 years, and it is near impossible to watch it anywhere else. So, I consider myself lucky to be there to experience what Dick and Jay defines as one of the first films ever made.

I think Blue Dog is important in certain aspects. As well as being Dick Dale’s first film, it marks the beginning of Trasharama A-Go-Go festival, and in that regard, paved the way for Australia’s new generation of trash filmmakers… Also, it gives signals of what route Dale’s filmography would take over the years. We come across zombies, aliens, punks, and iconic elements of Australian culture – rugby balls, Hills Hoist, barbecues and lawnmowers; indigenous people, koalas (drop bears) and others in Dick Dale’s films that follow Blue Dog.

As the night comes to an end, Dick tells everyone to go and make their own films. He humbly says that he’s just one guy among many that makes films like this but people know about him because he has a big mouth, and suggests that we do the same - go out and make films instead of sitting around and complaining.

We say goodbye to Dick and Jay and walk towards the exit. Dick shouts from behind as I go out:

“Turkish Star Wars and Turkish Exorcist rule, man!”

* To check out the Trasharama website and buy the Cheesy Knob Nasties DVD and/or Trasharama merchandise, go to