Tokyo Gore Police: A Masterpiece of Mutilation

What happens when you bring together the leading actress from Audition, the FX artist behind The Machine Girl as a first-time director, the screenwriter of Uzumaki and the action star of Versus as fight choreographer? You have a cinematic supergroup that makes the geysers of blood you’ve come to expect from violent Asian films look like minuscule popping zits. Behold, the 5-minute trailer for the upcoming J-splatter film Tokyo Gore Police:

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The trailer starts off kinda slow, but gets better and better as it goes along. Gore and body horror await: exploding heads, sliced-off faces, penises instead of noses, borg-like facial implants and a mermaid-from-hell with a chomping crocodile head instead of legs. There are also some hyper-detailed fetish costumes by the latex designer duo Kariwanz.

One of the mutants looks like she escaped from Kurôzu-cho

The plot: future Tokyo is plagued by bio-mechanical a virus. People who contract the virus turn into “Engineers,” named so for their ability to assemble weapons out of their infected flesh wounds. A special privatized police force (the gore police, also known as “Engineer Hunters”) exists to wipe out these beings, but if they’re wounded by one of the engineers, they quickly join their ranks, horrific implements of death quickly spawning from their own flesh. The protagonist is Ruka, one of the strongest members of the police force. Ruka appears to be the archetypal cute Japanese girl with a sword, but one thing I found interesting about her character is that according to one review, she’s a cutter. There are not many films that I’m aware of in which a main character suffers from self-mutilation, other than the French film Dans ma Pau, or In My Skin (definitely not a ‘feel-good movie’… and since we already got the ball rolling on the horrors of the flesh, here you go)

The main storyline of the film is peppered with faux commercials, reminding me of the fake trailers in Grindhouse. As reviewer Mike Skurko describes it:

We flash back and forth to some extremely demented and hilarious public service announcements as T.V. commercials throughout the film. My personal favorite being three cute school girls singing “Let’s go stylish with wrist cutting!” Just enough “Engrish” charm and realism to make this scene as cute as Hello Kitty while they morbidly introduce a new design that is “rounded for a cleaner cutting edge that school girls love!” Oh, this can’t be beat. More great T.V. ads: “Remote Control Exterminate!!” is a demented Wii that lets the viewer slice and dice a tormented player. Complete with all the spraying blood we’ve come to expect from just about everything with the Tokyo Shock label.

If you’re in New York or San Francisco this weekend, you are among the lucky few who can catch this film’s on-screen North American debut. It will premiere this Saturday at the New York Asian Film Festival. In San Francisco, you’ll be able to see it this Sunday at the Brava Theater as part of the Another Hole In The Head film festival, which looks like a lot of fun. A little bit later on, this film will also be premiering in Montreal.

Solitary Sister, is Seal a Cyberpunk?

These days Seal‘s better recognized by his shiny dome but there was a time, long ago in the decade we call The Nineties, when that very cupola hid in the shade of undercut dreadlocks, best admired under sparse flashing light of an underground techno laboratory. In addition to an edgier look young Seal kept some interesting company. Take Adamski for instance: punk-turned-rave-enthusiast with a fondness for cyber-turbans, who worked with everyone from Johnny Slut to Nina Hagen.

Please turn your attention to Seal and Adamski’s video for Killer, their 1990 crossover hit. The plot revolves around Seal’s disembodied head, a lot of static and the aforementioned techno lab either birthing Seal from its circuits or, alternately, feeding Seal virtual reality visuals in the form of dancing loons. Note the neon, striped pants, amazing CG and broken down technology offset by Adamski’s shiny but vurt-addled antics. Could Seal be a secret Cyberpunk or was he merely lucky to be making music in the early 90s?

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Somewhat related: George Adamski – the ufologist from whom Adamski took his name.

[Thanks, Terra!]

Low Self-Esteem: Self-Portraits by Katie West

Oh no she dint! Oh yes she did! Go, Katie, go!

Sensual, challenging, awkward and sublime in turns, Katie West‘s self portraits readily draw comparisons to folks like Cindy Sherman and Aaron Hawks, although I personally find her output more endearing. She is vulnerable and toothsome, and an unrepentant goofball. It’s been such a joy to watch her vision deepen and ripen over the years. Fellow brave, wee wonkettes of the world, you’ve found your muse. Buy her book.

“The Dancer’s Fall” by Katie West.

A Conversation with Mark Mothersbaugh of Devo

I have this dear old chum in NYC who’s a bit of a troublemaker in the best possible way, and I’ve been pining to bring him into our Coilhouse endeavor for months now. A brilliant writer, teacher and libertine, he’s not afraid of asking difficult questions or enduring awkward silences, and has a knack of getting to the juicy, palpitating core of an ethos more swiftly than you can say “subvert the dominant paradigm.” He will make you smile, he will make you think, he will make you shift uncomfortably in your chair. Ladies and gents, he’s “Double Agent Oh No, Your Spy in NY”, and here is his premiere piece for Coilhouse, a provocative interview with Mark Mothersbaugh. Stay pruned for more upcoming features. – Mer

Mark Mothersbaugh. Photo © Randall Michelson.

De-evolution in the 21st-Century: The Avant-Garde as Derriere-Garde

Whereas the “modern” sensibility envisions a future of ever-greater human freedom and understanding brought about by political, scientific, and aesthetic avant-gardistes who lead, educate, and shock us, some “post-modernists” mock these notions as harmful delusions. The concept of “de-evolution,” introduced by the postmodern “sound and vision” cultural cabal known as DEVO, suggests that human dependence on technology renders us increasingly dependent and dumb. Just recently, Mark Mothersbaugh of Devo showed some of his recent visual art at The Third Ward Gallery in Brooklyn. His show occasioned a conversation between me and Mothersbaugh on art, the culture of consumption, and the aesthetic avant-garde in post-modern times.

The avant-garde in the arts is historically rooted in the early 19th Century financial emancipation of artists from their patrons; Beethoven had the freedom to explore dissonance in his later works whereas Mozart wrote commissioned works.* Immediately, art came to occupy a place of greater personal expression and has had an enhanced potential to join the political avant-garde in challenging the received wisdom of the day. What, then, becomes of art and the avant-gardiste in 21st Century America?

Devo-Beautiful World by adiis
“It’s a beautiful world… for you. Not me.”

Does de-evolution turn the avant-garde on its head so that it is now the derriere-garde? In other words, in a society growing dumber, do the most mass-produced and contrived artifacts of pop culture actually contain its most advanced ideas? Under de-evolution, are commercials the most revolutionary art form? Is the way to change a society based upon consumption through a “rear-garde” action – by planting subliminal messages through the subconscious, the Freudian backdoor?

SpaceNazis Must Be Stopped!

You’ve probably at least heard of Star Wreck – a parody that launched Energia Productions into the public eye beyond internet stardom. Now from the same creative team comes a new production. If you, refined reader, like Doctor Strangelove and maybe Spaceballs, prepare to dig Iron Sky.

Towards the end of World War II the staff of SS officer Hans Kammler made a significant breakthrough in anti-gravity.

From a secret base built in the Antarctic, the first Nazi spaceships were launched in late ‘45 to found the military base Schwarze Sonne (Black Sun) on the dark side of the Moon. This base was to build a powerful invasion fleet and return to take over the Earth once the time was right.

Now it’s 2018, the Nazi invasion is on its way and the world is goose-stepping towards its doom.

What’s particularly inspiring about Iron Sky is the way it’s being created. To start, just look at this crew list! In an effort of what director Timo Vuorensola is calling “collaborative filmmaking” the project is semi-automated, gathering large numbers of volunteers and acquiring financing through Wreck-A-Movie intends to “blend the Internet and the film industry together by unleashing the creative potential of Internet communities, and changing the whole chain of filmmaking”. Yes! This here, peeps, is someone using the Web’s power for good, someone Doing It Right.

The footage in the gorgeous teaser below isn’t from the film, more of a taste of what’s in store. If you like what you see you can help bring this film to life by joining the production, buying War Bonds or submitting your resumé, here.

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[thank you, Kate!]

Nixa: The Kirk/Spock of Our Generation

“Blixa sighed and rolled sideways, his arm reaching unconsciously into the space where Nick should have been. The absence of an expected touch was enough to pull him out of sleep, and he blinked rapidly as his eyes adjusted to the dim light in the room. The faint orange glow from the streetlamps outside allowed him to pick out Nick’s silhouette against the window. He was looking upwards, naked, framed by the open curtains.”

Yes, Virginia. There is such a thing as Nick Cave/Blixa Bargeld slash. Of course! So what is that makes this celebrated pairing – affectionately titled “Nixa” by fans – so hot? Is it the fact they’re a couple of tall, brooding preternaturally beautiful men? Perhaps it’s the fact that both exude a type of sizzling intensity, so that there appears to be a constant electrical tension between them. Whether you’re a Nixaphile or just a Bad Seeds fan, the video above – a piece of live concert footage that originally aired on German television – is very touching. The crowd evidently expected Kylie Minogue to appear on stage and sing Where The Wild Roses Grow with Nick Cave like she does in the music video, but guess who took her place? That’s right. Blixa. The Aragorn to Nick Cave’s Legolas. The Lee Adama to to Nick Cave’s Romo Lampkin. The Lord Voldemort to Nick Cave’s … oh, just watch the video.

I love the part where Nick gives Blixa a flower! So romantic. And just ’cause, here’s a hot picture of a younger Blixa:

Pencil drawing by Paul Komoda

Where’s Mer? Part III

Nils Frykdahl & Dawn McCarthy of Faun Fables

Summer winds are here and they’re sweeping our Mer away once again. This time she’s headed south and then all over the US, on extendo-tour with the Faun Fables. This could be your chance to catch one of these performances! Having witnessed this intense phantasmafolk first-hand I suggest you mark these dates in your calendars, dress to the nines and go rock, hard. In the meantime we’ll be standing by the window, clutching a handkerchief and longingly gazing at the open road until she returns to us.

The Black Oven: Tasty, Tasty Doom

Call of the Wintermoon Lemon Curd Cookies. “These are best enjoyed while basking in the self-righteousness of your own obscurity.”

You know, there’s really nothing I enjoy more than banging my head to relentless black metal. Unless it’s making and consuming baked goods. Fucking A, dude, I love cookies. In some parallel universe, a far more brutal and satanic Mer than I is seated on an obsidian throne atop a baronial mountain built from the bones of her enemies, gorging on bottomless trays of red velvet cupcakes and snickerdoodles while truly epic tremolo-picked riffs reverberate through the charnel canyons. Occasionally she pauses to issue forth a soul-rending shriek. Dark chocolatey death spews from her corpse-painted mouth. HAIL.

Yet even this nightmarish Mer incarnation would grovel in terror before a certain gastronomical overlord known to worshipful initiates as All-Devouring Megan the Bae Korr. Megan currently resides in this world (in Oakland, California, no less! I must find her and become her minion!) and recently started a baking recipe blog called The Black Oven. It is kvlt as fuck. An excerpt:

Frostbitten Molasses Cookies Entombed with Ginger

Boiled down to its very essence, metal is nothing more than a mixture of molasses and alienation. By that definition, these cookies are black fucking metal. Packed full of grim and evil spices, they will leave you feeling despondent and isolated within their stronghold of flavor.

Make it:

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup molasses
1/8 cup honey
1 egg yolk
1 cup crystallized ginger pieces
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
pinch of salt
1 1/2 tblsp cinnamon
1 to 2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp nutmeg

Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Cream together butter, sugar, molasses, and honey. Beat in egg yolk and ginger pieces.
Sift together flour baking soda, baking powder, salt and spices.
Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients in thirds.
Chill for an hour.
bake 8-10 minutes
DO NOT OVER BAKE. To do so would not be brutal.

Enjoy, and sacrifice one to Space Odin.

I’ve just made a batch of her “Where the Chocolate Beats Incessant” brownies. Doom never tasted more delicious. Megan, I raise my fist and my flour sifter to you!

Immortal, in the throes of a grim sugar rush.

Let Miss Hagen Teach You German

Quiet, everyone. Ruhe, bitte! Teacher’s in and you must make room for her hair. Today’s lesson is a crash course in German. Your aids will be Kraftwerk, a parrot and the color red. Sharpen your pencils and brains as you pay close attention to this 80s TV treasure.

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Perhaps if my French classroom had been black, and my teacher were Nina Hagen, I’d be fluent by now. Alas.

If You Ever Need to Find The Road to Kadath


From the great folks at Slave Labor Graphics comes the Map of Humanity. The brainchild of comics creator and artist James Turner, this wonderful piece just recently arrived in my mailbox and is proving to be all a good carto-fetishist could ever desire.

It’s all here: real cities rub shoulders with fantastic ones lumped in countries such as Beauty, Love, Realism, Hate, Abomination or Fool’s Paradise. If you want to pore over it in detail (warning: you will miss appointments, work and the outside world), do so here. On this map Chicago dwells in the lands of both Depravity and Industry, Dr. Doom’s Latveria borders Riyadh and Utopia is the waypoint between the continents of Wisdom and Reason.

There are a wealth of connections, allusions and little jokes strewn throughout, all – as the best things should – rewarding multiple ponderings. It’s also on ridiculously glorious-feeling super-paper too, for those out there that have that kind of fetish (such as certain editors of this publication who shall remain nameless).

Strange Maps: A completely unrelated site, save that it’s also addictive for cartofetishists