There Is No 13 An Editorial By Mike White. During the early part of 2001, I took a hiatus from Cashiers du Cinemart. This unplanned vacation came about when I was searching for a video online: Blast of Silence...
During the early part of 2001, I took a hiatus from Cashiers du Cinemart. This unplanned vacation came about when I was searching for a video online: Blast of Silence. Using my knowledge of keywords and my bratty attitude toward getting what I want, I finally happened upon “Pimpadelic Wonderland”. This site includes an amazing examination of ’70s cinema as well as a terrific list of videos owned by the site’s honcho, Tom Fitzgerald. Not only did Fitzgerald list Blast of Silence, he had scads of other hard-to-find titles. My greed began to grow as I scrolled through his list with envy.
What could I provide to Tom in order to score a trade for Blast of Silence? Luckily, there was a link at the top of this web page that took me to an equally long list of “wants.” Again, my jaw dropped at the sight of these amazing titles. There were a few films listed here that I had heard about such as The Ameriacn Dreamer, a never-on-video documentary about the making of Dennis Hopper’s The Last Movie. But, what on earth could The United Family Awaits The Visit of Hallewyn be?
I was hooked.
I printed out this immense list of desired videos and began to search through the catalogs of some of my advertisers. That uncovered a few of these rarities but led me to ask my advertisers, experts in the rare video field, what they had on their “want lists.”
One list became five. Quite a few of the titles overlapped. It seemed that almost everyone was looking for Kentucky Jones’s 1976 film, Manson Massacre. Strangely, each of these tape hounds listed a different alternate title for this flick—I Demoni, House of Bondage, The Cult††.
At first, this immense listing of rare films overwhelmed me. Yet, I felt compelled to research these titles. I wanted to discover as much as I could about them. I’m always interested in learning about films, and how could one go wrong looking for a flick called The Sin of Jesus†††? Of course, the more I found out about these films, the more I wanted to see them myself. I began co-opting some of the titles into my own “want list” such as Robert Stevens’s Change of Mind starring Raymond St. Jacques. It’s the story of a man who undergoes a brain transplant and sounds like a mix of The Watermelon Man and The Thing with Two Heads.
Surprisingly, my digging around actually helped to excavate a few of these films! Sometimes they were stashed away in libraries, guarded by cranky university staffers. Often they resided in the collections of ardent “TV tapers” – marred by station identification tags or overzealous editors. But, on occasion, they’d be pristine first-generation copies from fellow video enthusiasts.
Just when I would think that I was being duped—that I was searching for a make-believe title like Boatman by Gianfranco Rosi—I’d come across a mention of them, which would only push me to endeavor further. There are some mighty dangerous tomes out there that bespeak of movies that have been long lost to the light of day. The best offenders include Amos Vogel’s Film as a Subversive Art (ISBN: 0297766740), Pete Tombs’s Mondo Macabro (ISBN: 0312187483), and Jack Hunter’s Eros In Hell. These three books made the biggest impact on my “want list” and made me wonder how in the hell these authors had seen the films they’d written about.
On occasion I’d run across the films that I read about only to find that they were startlingly different from their write-ups. This was more than just a Laura Mulvey brainfart in making bits of Peeping Tom fit with her theories on the male gaze in cinema; these were outright mistakes. Initially I’d think that I had been misled and that the tape I was watching wasn’t the movie it was supposed to be. However, the more these discrepancies occurred, the more I could isolate them to one writer in particular, making me wonder if he’s ever seen any of the films about which he’s written or if he’s just relied on second hand translations… Suffice to say, I enjoy Thomas and Yuko Mihara Weisser’s Japanese Cinema Essential Handbook (ISBN: 1889288500) as a work of fiction more than a reliable film guide††††.
By the middle of June, I found that I had done nothing but scant preliminary work on CdC #13. I had devoted an obsessive amount of energy (and cash) to tracking down these cinematic oddities. Evenings became hours devoted to scouring pages, making phone calls, and sending faxes to filmmakers, collectors, and other “leads.” I was a videotape dick. I had tasted the forbidden fruit and wanted more.
I immersed myself in an odd underground of folks who dealt with videos as currency. Or, currency as currency. Or, videos as a status symbol. I encountered altruistic folks who merely wanted to see movies they couldn’t see otherwise. Hiding among these good apples, I discovered myriad moochers and weirdos. I had never filed a mail fraud form before but I became overly familiar with the process in this sojourn.
There were times where I ran into “traders” who merely kept lists of their movies as if to gloat over people who couldn’t find them. “I had to sweat blood to get this tape so I’m not about to trade it,” they’d offer as a defense. Why they would keep these on something called a “trade list” I’ll never know. I began to feel like a hippie; “Videos should be free, man!”
Being pissed off at these tight-fisted folks probably served me right: the karma wheel turning. I certainly had managed to step on some toes along the way. One group of films in my sights starred members of The Cockettes. Every person that I spoke to about obtaining copies of these various films went back to David Weissman (co-director of The Cockettes documentary) to ask permission about dubbing copies for me. By the time I worked my way up the food chain, I came home to find a bitchy message on my answering machine about my “underhanded” tactics†††††. This merely strengthened my resolve and made me realize to what extent I’d go in order to get what I wanted for the good of Cashiers du Cinemart. By any means necessary, baby.
Occasionally I would feel a pang that I hadn’t been spending enough time on CdC. I dislike putting issues out late, especially when I’m wholly to blame! After a few conversations with CdC’s Rich Osmond, however, I discovered that I was actually helping the magazine by taking this “time off.” Though cinematic rarities aren’t CdC’s bread and butter, Osmond observed that in recent issues I had been concentrating on “features” and straying from single film reviews.
I suppose that the overabundance of features derived from a desire to separate CdC from my other favorite film magazines: Shock Cinema, Video Watchdog, and Psychotronic Video. I didn’t want anyone to claim that I was copping their styles. Thus, “capsule reviews” suffered. With any luck, Cashiers du Cinemart #14 will mark a return to single-film reviews under the dubious guise of unearthing “lost” films. I’ve always tried to cover items in CdC that need to be seen and appreciated by more folks; it’s only appropriate to give additional coverage to these oddball films. Not every issue will be rich in rarities—I can scarcely afford the time / effort / energy / money to keep up with this archeological expedition. Also, I’ve managed to shorten that long, long list of rare titles. Now there remains a core group of movies that appear completely buried (if not mythological).
But, as I’ve learned in these few months of hunting, just when it appears that a title has been swept from the halls of cinema, something always crops up.
† Not only was I afraid that there’d never be an issue #13 of CdC, but I’m looking for this oddly-named feature by William Sachs.
†† Manson Massacre came out on German DVD as Die Tocher Des Satans in early 2002 only to go out of print within moments. It’s currently available on video from Shocking Videos.
††† I found a fair copy of this 1961 flick directed by Robert Frank.
††††Excerpt from an email from Chris Casey: “Have you ever wondered if Tom Weisser ever watches any of the movies he reviews? I am speaking most directly about the Nikkatsu films of Suzuki Seijun. For instance, having just recently watched Dandan-Ju No Otoko (AKA Shotgun No Otoko) I realized that, once again, his “review” of this film in the Asian Cult Cinema “Suzuki Spectacular” issue was completely wrong in regard to the plot! Tom states that Nitani plays a “Trucker hero”. He does not—he plays a drifting “keisatsu” or cop. Tom states that Nitani plays the guitar in the picture. He does not—he does, however, break into song and rip a few notes out of an accordion! Tom also states that Nitani’s girlfriend is raped. No one gets raped in this film. I wonder what film Tom saw that he thought was Shotgun No Otoko. Then there’s Tom’s (mistaken) claim that Youth of the Beast is some kind of sequel to Detective Bureau 23: Go to Hell, Bastards!”
†††††Excerpt of an e-mail from Weissman: “You have gone behind my back, saying insulting things to my friends and co-director, you have completely disrespected what I have told you about when and how our film is being released, and you have just generally behaved like a pest. To write a letter to Michael Kalmen boasting that you have obtained a bootleg copy of his film [Elevator Girls in Bondage – Ed.], what are you thinking??? How many people can you insult at once? There are ways of getting what you want by being polite and respectful – as it stands you have only alienated everyone involved with this project.”
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