nedjelja, 19. kolovoza 2012.

Jed Johnson - Andy Warhol's Bad (1977)

Loš film o odvratnim ljudima.

Andy Warhol's Bad (Jed Johnson, 1977)

In a perfect world, unwanted pets and babies would kill themselves more often. If only they could leave this mortal coil by their own hand, or, in this case, by their own furry paw or tiny baby hand, as it would allow the rest of us to not have to worry about buying food, clothing, flea collars, yarn, chew toys, diapers and other miscellaneous items for their stupid, annoying asses. Unfortunately, that world doesn't exist yet, and since pets and babies rarely ever commit suicide, you're gonna have to hire an assassin to take care of the problem for you. Sure, you could kill them yourself, or hope that the pet, baby, or autistic seven year-old you want dead might slip and fall down a mind shaft, or, even better yet, accidentally eat that bowl of cyanide you left by their bed. But let's be realistic, with the sheer volume of pornography, and, not to mention, mounds of sweet cocaine floating around out there (two things that were practically crying out for your undivided attention in the late 1970s), who's got the time or the energy to murder or hope anymore? I know I sure don't, and I don't even like pornography and cocaine. If the premise I'm sort of describing is in anyway appealing to you, seek medical attention immediately, you deranged lunatic. However, when you get back from getting the help you so desperately need, set aside some time and make sure to check out Bad (a.k.a. Andy Warhol's Bad), and not just because it features a redheaded pyromaniac, one whose attempt to playfully wield a pistol-shaped dildo is thwarted by a humourless brunette, but because it's unwholesome cinema at its finest.

Spilling, not oozing, as for something to "ooze" implies that there's a slow leak transpiring, no, spilling, definitely spilling haphazardly from the unwell brain areas of screenwriter's Pat Hackett and George Abagnalo, and directed by interior designer Jed Johnson, this film is replete with the kind of loathsome people I adore most: Troubled outsiders who kill for money and look fabulous while doing so. Funny in a Desperate Living meets Eating Raoul sort of way, the dark humour, hilarious anecdotes about hideous éclairs, despicable acts and politically incorrect dialogue featured throughout the film really know how to rub their inflamed genitals against the inner thighs of good taste.
While it's true I did imply that pets and babies are put in jeopardy in this film, that does not mean that everyone else is safe. Far from it. Diner washrooms, one-armed mechanics, Jane Forth's dress, foreign film fans, ketchup bottles, Grandma's not-so precious pills, and the feet of hunky 29 year-olds are all at risk at one point or another during this film's chaotic run-time. Now what someone might have against a diner washroom is beyond me, but the assassins in this film do have a couple of things in common: 1. They're mostly women, and 2. They all split their cut with Hazel Aiken (Carroll Baker), an unassuming stay-at-home hosebeast who operates a hair removal salon out of her modest home in Queens (she can zap 360 hairs in an hour). Performing electrolysis, placating corrupt homicide detectives (Charles McGregor), and scheduling hits via her wall-mounted rotary telephone (some times doing all three simultaneously), Hazel struggles to make ends meet in a house she shares with her sickly mother (Mary Boylan), and her shy daughter-in-law Mary (Susan Tyrrell) and infant son.

Complicating matters somewhat is the arrival of L.T. (Perry King), a male assassin/kleptomaniac who literally likes to ride the back of the bus. Awaiting the call to spring into action, that "action" of course being the murder (they're calling it a "retraction") of a helpless autistic child with a plastic bag, L.T. is begrudgingly allowed to rent a room in Hazel's house (she frowns upon having male killers live under her roof). Ignoring the rules laid out for him, L.T. pops pills (even one's that have been swirling around inside Hazel's toilet bowl), is unapologetic about his tendency to ejaculate prematurely, watches loads of television, and behaves in a manner you'd expect a male sociopath who finds himself living in a house frequented by a steady flow of female killers, especially if one of them happens to sport an Italian accent.

Yes, you heard right, there's an Italian woman in Bad, and her name is Stefania Casini, and, yes, she is the same Stefania Casini who wore an orange bathing suit in Suspiria (she also has a nasty run-in with a room full of barbed-wire). Playing P.G., Stefania's character is an extremely sarcastic, no-nonsense woman who maims with a subtle grace. Hired to disfigure a mechanic with one arm by his two-armed girlfriend, Sara Leachman (Renee Paris), P.G. is told specifically to push him in front of a moving subway. Except, she decides instead to crush the his legs with the car he was working on and remove one of fingers with a pair of pliers. I guess she didn't think it mattered how she dismembered him. Anyway, she bags the finger, takes a photograph of the body, and collects her money at a local bar. What did she end up doing with his finger? Well, let's just say Hazel's gonna find a nasty surprise the next time she wants to spice up her eggs.

The nonchalant way P.G. went about her grisly business, and the fact that the guy she targeted clearly had both his arms, set the tone early on. Of course, the sight of a hyper-feminine (her tight curves drive all the waste collectors wild) Cyrinda Foxe defacing the inside of a diner washroom for no apparent reason in the film's opening scene was a tad on the bizarre side, and no slouch when it came to setting tones (you just don't get much of a washroom vandalism vibe when you look at Cyrinda). However, up until Stefania started to inflict actual suffering on her victim, all the talk of killing and dismembering was just that, talk.

Glamorous, tough, and scrappy as fuck, Geraldine Smith and Maria Smith are dangerously alluring and alluringly dangerous as Glenda and Marsha Montemorano, a pair of murderous sisters with heavenly voices who routinely get into fights with one another over the cleanliness of their panties. Let me quickly explain the pantie dilemma: While in the middle of torturing some guy tied to a bed (lucky bastard), Marsha notices that Glenda is wearing her panties. The pale-kneed Glenda tries to calm things down by suggesting that the panties were dirty, but this only seems to exacerbate the situation, as Marsha takes offense to having her panties besmirched in such a public forum. Okay, one guy tied to a bed ain't exactly a "public forum," but still, she was mortified by her sister's statement. At any rate, Marsha and Glenda start to slap each other in a frenzied attempt to save face. Oh, and if you really want to know what Glenda and Marsha's "heavenly voices" sound like, try to imagine Fran Drescher reciting the lyrics to "Warm Leatherette" with her mouth wrapped around the base of Susie Essman's strawberry-flavoured vagina.

The sinister task the Montemorano sisters are asked to carry out involves the killing of the dog owned by a man (Lawerence Tierney) who lives across the street from Estelle (Brigid Berlin), a misanthropic, gassy gal with some serious anger issues. You see, Estelle's still upset over an unflattering comment she overheard the dog man make about the way she looked in shorts the previous summer, and, after much soul searching, decides the sanest course of action is to hire Glenda and Marsha to rub out his dog in the most vicious manner possible. Fueling her desire for blood to be shed is the fact that he's been wearing the same blue pants everyday for two years straight. Actually, the more I think about it, the more I think it was the blue pants, and not the dog man's shorts slight, that sent Estelle off the deep end, as she really seemed to despise those blue pants.

I think Tab is the most aesthetically pleasing soft drink ever created. Everything from the design of its can (best font ever) to its straightforward name are immensely appealing. All right, I know what you're thinking: "While I agree with everything you're saying, why on earth are you talking about Tab?" Well, the film opens with the line: "Tab, Tab, Tab, why does it always have to be Tab?!?" And, seriously, how can you not love a film that begins with that many Tab references straight out of the gate? The child in the film who says the line obviously hates Tab (I know, what a little asshole), but his mother orders it for him anyway because she might want to drink it if her son doesn't want to finish it. While I'm on the subject of Tab, make sure to keep an eye out for the can of Tab languishing in the back seat of the car the Montemorano sisters steal.

With the exception of Hazel Aiken (kill all the babies and dogs you want, but don't shortchange the blind), the ladies of Bad are some of the most enchanting people to ever to grace the silver screen. I won't lie, some of things they do in this film are a tad abhorrent, but their innate loveliness somehow manages to rise above their acts of cavalier cruelty at every turn. Is it possible for someone not to fall completely head over heels for Renee Paris's Sara Leachman the instant she starts complaining about a pesky nose hair? I don't think so. Not only did I find her brash demeanour and strident speaking voice to be exhilarating, I thought Renee's "If we're lucky he'll fall right and be dismembered" was one of the funniest lines in the entire film, as the manner in which it was uttered was so wonderfully deadpan.

How about the scene where Ingrid Joyner (Tere Tereba), the frustrated mother of a young autistic boy, wonders aloud to a friend (Kitty Bruce) if she aborted the wrong child? You can't help but feel all tingly in your underpants for Mrs. Joyner as she plans to the death of her son. Yeah, I'm sure some of you can totally help it (your downstairs tingle has been replaced with upstairs scorn). But you've got to understand, I'm inherently drawn to demented women, especially one's who are gorgeous in a decidedly off-kilter way and periodically conspire to have their disabled offspring murdered.

Another reason why I didn't like Hazel was because she was rude towards Mary, and like I've always said, those who treat Susan Tyrrell badly, whether it be in a movie or in real life, are no friend of mine. Of course, P.G. and the Montemorano sisters aren't exactly friendly to Mary, either. But at least their nastiness is out in the open, Hazel's hostility, on the other hand, lingers underneath the surface, slowly gnawing away at Mary's frayed nerves. Anyway, wearing a yellow plastic bow in her hair (which did a competent job of keeping her greasy bangs in check), a ratty housecoat, and constantly clutching onto this dead-eyed baby (it was like a purse, only instead of holding loose change and oral contraceptives, it cried, burped and occasionally soiled itself), Susan Tyrrell (Forbidden Zone), despite her suspect parenting skills, is the moral conscience of the Bad universe (she's the only one who openly disapproves of the murder of pets and children). Her appeal as an actress has always been her ability to convey emotion by simply raising her head and looking at whatever hr character happens to be looking at. After she does that, her warm, inviting eyes and killer cheekbones do the rest.

If I had my choice of being murdered by any of the amoral characters who populate Bad, it would definitely have to be Geraldine Smith's Glenda Montemorano, and, no, not just because she looked divine in red knee socks. Well, actually, now that I think about it, that's a pretty sane reason to choose her as the sexy cause of my untimely death. I mean, who doesn't want to murdered by a crazed woman from Queens who wears red socks? Nobody I know, that's for damn sure. Anyway, I also liked her habit of setting fires and penchant for blinking.

The infamous baby tossing scene, infamous because the words "baby" and "tossing" shouldn't ever really be put together, is a brief yet comically horrifying slice of over the top unpleasantness. A stressed out mother (are there any other kind in this movie?), played by the luminous Susan Blond, can be seen arguing on the telephone with the father of her infant son over who's gonna pay the assassin (Barbara Allen) that is currently on her way to kill their baby. Growing impatient with the tardy assassin (and the baby's crying ain't helping, either), she decides to take matters into her own hands and throws her baby out the window of her high-rise apartment.

While I was shocked by this wanton display of irregular childcare, I was more concerned about the structural makeup of Susan Blond's exquisite chin. Standing in profile, I couldn't help but notice what a bodacious chin she had as she flung her baby (a baby that produced more arterial spray than a broken fire hose), it was like staring at a mind-blowing work of art (the chin, not the fountain of baby blood). My hope is that Susan took pride in her chin and wasn't tempted to mess with it as she became more successful in 1980s (she went to found the publicity agency, Susan Blond, Inc.). Of course, some of you will say that by focusing on her chin, I found a clever way of shielding myself from the horror transpiring on-screen. It's a good theory and all, but don't ever underestimate my love of chins. Oh, and just for record: I love pets and babies, and don't think they should ever be harmed. -

Andy Warhol’s Bad (1977) directed by Jed Johnson is indubitably a bad movie. Not bad in the banal or unwatchable sense, but a sincerely mean-spirited work that contains some of the most repellant, deplorable, and eclectically appalling people ever captured on celluloid. Warhol (or at least his hired filmmakers) was no stranger to depicting human depravity and emotional disfigurement, but out of all the films he was involved with, Bad is easily his most callously misanthropic and pessimistic work and one of few X-rated films that is conspicuously anti-erotic in nature, but like most of his previous efforts, such seedy and surly portrayals are executed facetiously with a most biting satire. Indubitably, Paul Morrissey was Warhol’s greatest director, Danny Williams is all but forgotten, and pop-art capitalist himself seemed like nothing more than an uninspired mentally-defective dilettante while in the director’s chair, but Jed Johnson – a man who never directed a film before (nor would after) – assembled what would prove to be the Warhol Factory’s masterpiece. Before directing Bad, Johnson had helped with the editing on Andy Warhol's L'Amour (1973) and Blood for Dracula (1974) aka Andy Warhol’s Dracula and even interior decorated a townhouse that he and the Factory dictator would call home. Of course, Bad features a different sort of domestic living than the ever so dainty and urbane homophile sort probably shared by Warhol and Johnson, as one might describe the film as somewhat misogynistic, but it is most certainly a wanton work of exceedingly eremitic extremes and sardonic snipes. Bad centers around a beauty salon owner named Hazel Aiken (played by Carroll Baker of Giant, Baby Doll) who also happens to be a slumlord that supplements her income by pimping out ferocious criminally-inclined white trash girls that rent rooms from her. Hazel also hires these boorish broads to carry out extremely profitable contract “hits” on everything from pet dogs to seemingly retarded school children. As a supremely ballsy bourgeois bitch and bottom-feeding capitalist who virtually enslaves the more debauched members of the fecund proletariat, Hazel even makes Martha Stewart seem like less of a soul-sucking cunt. 

 Hellish Hazel has a variety of dejected human-garbage gals and jaded Jezebels staying with here, including a humble (if mentally-feeble) and aesthetically displeasing daughter-in-law named Mary (and her equally annoying infant child), two wopesses R.C. and P.G., and a duo of bitchy brawling sisters named Marsha and Glenda. On a trial basis, queen harlot Hazel also takes in a wop bohunk named L.T. (Perry King) who acts as a hustling Joe Dallesandro-clone of sorts (apparently, the real Dallesandro declined to be in the film as he was working on pictures in Europe). Although Hazel is an eristic nag that treats most of the girls as emotional punching bags, she seems to hold her most marvelous malice towards L.T., probably due to his flagrant handsomeness and her seemingly sexually-repressed disposition. Undoubtedly, L.T. is a delinquent philistine who does not think twice about stealing and selling odious Hazel’s expensive perfume, but at least he is an unintentionally humorous fellow whose petty criminality and lack of manners acts as a haphazard stand-up comedy routine of sorts. Whatever the true merit of their acting abilities, all the actors featured in Bad certainly get the job done as I indubitably found myself anticipating their much warranted downfalls, but I fond Hazel’s delightful descent – which involves an emotional Negro who does not take kindly to the word "Nigger" – to be the most comical and befitting. Essentially, Bad is one of the finest cinematic documents depicting the innate despitefulness of the fairer sex and the assets of such female viciousness and coldness within a domestic criminal network. The film also highlights the intuitive materialistic nature of the female gender and how such mercenary behavior is all the more evident in our unspiritual post-modern Capitalist world, especially in New York City of all places; the home of Wall Street and the world capital of international bloodsucking capitalism. Ultimately, it is from L.T.’s selfless empathy for a helpless autistic boy that leads to the much deserved demise of she-bitch Hazel’s smutty and intrinsically amoral enterprise. Had Hazel remained the cold gutter baroness that she always was and characteristically resisted the charismatic charm of suave con-man L.T. from the get go, she probably would not have gotten herself into such an unbecoming and easily avoidable situation that would inevitably lead to her demise. 

 For a man who directed a scene of an infant falling to its death from a 12-story building, barefaced animal cruelty, and a toilet overflowing with what seems to be a couple gallons worth of feces, it is almost fitting that Bad director Jed Johnson himself would die tragically in the Trans World Airlines TWA Flight 800 plane explosion of 1996. Not since the brutal murder of Pier Paolo Pasolini in 1975, shortly after directing his final and startlingly self-prophetic film Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom (1975) has a filmmaker’s art so tumultuously and appalling imitated his death. Bad may also be the only film featuring a scenario where a number of filmgoers are burnt alive in a movie theater, so to say the film also pokes fun at the viewer would be a glaring understatement. I find this scene to be awfully farcical when I consider that fact that out of all of Warhol’s films, Bad had the most lavish and celebrity-celebrated film premiere as actors as famous as Warren Beatty, Julie Christie, and Jack Nicholson attended the film’s debut screening in May 1977. In reflection, Bad was not a bad way for Warhol to end his career in filmmaking, particularly when considering that he was the same man behind the all but unwatchable A Clockwork Orange adaptation Vinyl (1965). As Vinyl demonstrated, Warhol may not have understood male violence nor masculinity, but he was certainly savvy about what makes women tick as so candidly, if venomously, portrayed in his completely worthwhile masterpiece Bad; a sordid cinematic spectacle of screwy spite. -

A kad je već spomenut Warhol, dokumentarac o njemu u cjelini je na YouTubeu:

DVD cover art for Andy Warhol: The Complete Picture

Directed by Chris Rodley
Narrated by Julian Rhind-Tutt
Features:Chronology of Andy Warhol and his "Superstars" - Andy Warhol Filmography

My Advice: Get it at the library.
Artists can take a normal situation (a woman sitting, a bowl of fruit, an outdoor scene), add their talent and inspiration, and create something more. So is Andy Warhol duly famous for making a bunch of soup cans into art or did he con the art world with attitude and bohemian eccentricity? He even called his own art studio "The Factory" and most of his work is photos transferred to canvas by silk-screening and slapping some color on them. So is it art or is it bullshit? Regardless of your answer, Warhol's efforts in art, music, film, and publishing still influence today's media. The documentary Andy Warhol: The Complete Picture tries to understand the man who used artistic pretension as a shield and his own self-image to hide behind.
Andy Warhol from Andy Warhol: The Complete Picture
It can't be easy to make a documentary about a man who so successfully blended his hype with himself, whose art was done by others and was torn whole cloth from popular culture. But the producers interviewed many of his former colleagues and hanger-ons to get a sense of the man. They even talked to Warhol's brother as he talks about a shy frail boy who collected movie star photos. Through the interviews, we get a sense of Warhol's obsessions with celebrity, sex, and death. However, a complete picture of Warhol, as the title suggests, is impossible. Warhol worked diligently to produce a brand name, a public persona to interact with the outside world. It's as if he wanted just the message and none of his own personality in his product. Even his autobiography was ghostwritten. While the public part of Warhol enjoyed the years of hippy anarchy at the Factory and the years of disco excess at Studio 54, that private part seemed content to take notes. The point of this show is present the evidence of Warhol and let the viewer decide.
The special features are spare, but what's there is rather good. The chronology of Warhol and his band of artists, actors, and other freaks known as his "superstars" is quite complete and detailed with bits of trivia thrown in. The filmography details which movies Warhol was director, writer, producer, and cinematographer as well as his appearances in film and television through the years. I would have liked some extended interviews with the participants or maybe a photo gallery of Warhol's work. Still, The Complete Picture gives us a glimpse into the artist and his world. What we made of him is, like art, open to interpretation. -

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