The Friday Afternoon Movie: The Last Man On Earth

This week the FAM continues its Vincent Price-a-thon (Did we mention, this is a Vincent Price-a-thon? No? Well, it is.) with 1964′s The Last Man on Earth, directed by Ubaldo Ragona and Sidney Salkow. It is based on Richard Matheson’s classic novella I Am Legend which would later be bastardized into 1971′s The Omega Man with Charlton Heston, the 2007, Will Smith shit-fest I Am Legend as well as I Am Omega, the “Mockbuster” of that same year distributed by straight to video empire The Asylum.

The Last Man On Earth has two distinct advantages over these efforts. The first is that the script was partially written by Matheson himself and, as such, it most closely follows his original story. In the end, though, he was not particularly pleased with the effort and had himself credited as “Logan Swanson” (a combination of the maiden names of his mother and the mother of his wife):

I was disappointed in The Last Man on Earth, even though they more or less followed my story. I think Vincent Price, whom I love in every one of his pictures that I wrote, was miscast. I also felt the direction was kind of poor. I just didn’t care for it.

The second is, of course, Vincent Price, because everything is automatically made a bit better when he’s around. That said, I would agree with Matheson’s take that Price is a bit miscast here. He’s not the hero type, at least not in the way that the story requires Richard Neville (Morgan here) to be. His interactions with the hordes of undead outside the confines of his house, then, are usually pretty laughable, including scenes of Morgan going about his business of staking vampires while they sleep, in which Price halfheartedly waves a hammer around to pantomime the act of driving a stake into a body. I can’t help but wonder if this may have been a part of the reason why Richard was rewritten as a milquetoast scientist from the blue-collar factory worker in the story. That said, I still find his performance to have some great strengths, most obviously his ability to bring Morgan’s internal monologues to life. Price manages to instill these voice-overs with a palpable sense of sadness and desperation which is good because, much as I adore the book, it is mostly a story about a man talking to himself. This may be why Hollywood has shied away from doing a straight adaptation.

The differences here are fairly minimal, with one exception. The vampires here are shuffling, wrecks, whereas in the book they were agile and fast. This change would seem to have little impact, though it did make an impression on one George A. Romero, who would acknowledge the impact of both the film and the novella on his Night of the Living Dead. Other changes include, Richard’s last name and pre-apocalypse occupation (as previously mentioned) as well as the specifics of his interactions with the woman Ruth and the dog. The largest change, of course, is that of the title and, subsequently, its use in the final line of the story. I Am Legend very much elevates itself with that last line and, though The Last Man on Earth makes an effort, it cannot match Matheson’s twist. Regardless of any shortcomings, however, it’s worth giving The Last Man on Earth a look. It’s a solid film, starring one of the great horror masters and a worthy entry in the history of end of the world cinema.

Ground Control To Major Tom: You’re A Dipshit

Killing My Lobster and David Bowie explain just why we do not, indeed, let British people into space anymore.

Via Laughing Squid

People And Parcels, Sent Via Rails And Propellers

Gaze in awe upon the majesty of the Bennie Railplane, designed and built by Scotsman George Bennie (more details about which can be found linked below). Capable of producing a a steady 60 brake horsepower, it was projected it would be able to reach sustained speeds of 120 mph. By 1930, a prototype of this weird not-a-monorail was running on a 130 yard test track at Milngavie near Glasgow, transporting thrill-seekers from one end to the other. By 1937, however, Bennie had gone bankrupt (no doubt due to the fact that his machine only traveled 130 yards) and, in 1950, the line was demolished for scrap, thereby closing this ridiculously impractical great chapter in land-based, propeller driven transportation.

Not long after the Railplane began its brief service, another strange wonder emerged from Europe: Germany’s Air Torpedo. Developed by Richard Pfautz, it was meant to transport mail from one side of the country to the other. The claim was that such a trip could be made in 40 minutes, the sleek, propeller driven bullet riding on rails (you can see a larger image here). The cost? Six cents. And here we are, sending our mail by truck and plane when, instead, we could be building air torpedo rails. Shameful.

Via Modern Mechanix and Gear Wheels

The Tango, the Quark, and the Allegory of Love

Please welcome guest blogger Eden Gallanter! Eden is a painter and writer. She also works on sustainable urban planning and restoration ecology in landscape architecture. In addition to these talents, Eden is an accomplished tango dancer. In this article, Eden tells tales of subatomic physics and Mannerist painting – and what they have to do with tango, a fascinating dance form not yet covered on Coilhouse. Enjoy! - Ed.


Article and illustration by Eden Gallanter

Argentine Tango is the most difficult of all partner dances.  Intimidating, overwhelming, and endlessly complex, one may reasonably wonder at the continued prominence of social Tango dancing.  After all, beginners can expect to spend many months in practice before venturing out to a Tango dance (called a Milonga), and even then, most dancers must endure a few years, at least, of rampant unpopularity.  Even those who are skilled in other partner dances, such as Swing, Salsa, or Waltz, usually find themselves disconcertingly back at beginner level when learning the Argentine Tango.  Everything you hated about your middle school dance instruction (whether this involved a finishing school-style class in ballroom dancing or just a traumatic experience at a school dance) is amplified, all of your insecurities lining up to greet you if you decide to learn Tango, the most demanding of all social dances.

Then what are people coming back for?   The truth is, it’s the very qualities that make Tango so difficult that also make it so rewarding.  Tango isn’t hard because of all the moves you must learn, it is hard because it relies on the partner connection more than any other dance.  If you’re dancing a Viennese Waltz and your partner doesn’t know what he or she is doing, you can at least dance the correct steps anyway and hope that your partner catches on– but if you’re dancing a Tango, this is next to impossible.  You can’t move a single step if your partner can’t feel where you are, or where you’re going.   Leaders have somewhat more control over this connection than followers do, but the lesson is the same: without a physical understanding of the position and direction of your partner, there is no dance.  In Tango’s closed position, the two of you are leaned against one another, the centers of your chests aligned.  You are sharing a single gravitational axis, and, for better or for worse, you move as one.  This is precisely what makes this dance both terrifyingly difficult and, at the same time, perilously, wonderfully, heart-stoppingly intimate.


Bautiful tango video to post from a festival in Montreal set to Cat Power’s weird, moody cover of “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction.”

This heavy emphasis on partner connection doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of moves to learn in Tango.  There is an amazing array of styles, steps, and decorations to learn, though all depend strongly on the partner connection in order to work.  The boleo contra (“throw against,” in Spanish) is made with a bent knee while the whole body rotates, drawing a graceful circle in the air with the toe.  The boleo contra results from an abrupt change of direction between you and your partner, releasing the energy of opposite motion; done quickly, it feels like the beating of wings, each partner using the other’s momentum to execute a series of brief kicks.

The partner connection is not the only relationship that matters on the dance floor, though it is of the most vital importance.  The best instructors in Buenos Aires teach that there are in fact no less than five “partners” in a single dance: the partner, the floor, the other couples, the music, and yourself.  Tango dancers (called tangueros) must constantly pay attention to all of these.  For instance, if a follower does not move to the tempo of the music, the leader will not be able to stay on beat either, and a vital framework for the communication of one another’s movements is lost.  Negotiating relationships with all five “partners” is essential to the dance, even though all do not require equal attention (and, in fact, for the follower there are only four partners, as it is the leader’s job alone to manage their spatial relationship to the other dancing couples).  If tangueros look overly serious when dancing, it is only because their attention is engaged fully in the demands of the dance.

The Tokyo that Tumblr Forgot

When I saw this striking image of Tokyo while riffling through my RSS feeds, my heart stopped. Supposedly, it’s a still from a forgotten video game made in 1995.

There’s something about this cityscape. I’ve been coming back to stare at the large version of it for two days now, marveling at all the details: that puffy-cheeked man and that lobster, the people on the streets, the density of the buildings, the beautiful pixel weave that makes up the clouds, and that ominous yellow moon. I want to know the story of this game world and its makers. If it’s a still from a mid-90s video game, very few people would have considered that art at the time. Now, in the world we live in, I could easily see this image selling at an art opening. If it turned out that this image was done by a contemporary pop artist, emulating/exaggerating the aesthetics of retro games, I would not be surprised. However, this image feels even more compelling to me precisely because it’s not that, but a forgotten relic, a lost gem, a genuine artifact.

Tumblr tells me (for once) that this striking image is from a video game called “Power Slave,” produced by Jellyfish Software in 1995. I’m not sure if I believe that; the only game titled Power Slave game I could find was this first-person shooter set in Egypt, released by Lobotomy Soft in 1997. Nothing in the game descriptions suggested the appearance of this scene. I checked out a couple of Power Slave playthroughs - not all 17 levels, but enough, including the intro and end, to be fairly sure that this scene was never among them. And the only Jellyfish Soft release that came up in my searches was Aerokid, an aviation game for kids, released in 1998. But then I read somewhere that on the Saturn conversion of PowerSlave included a hidden game. After some Googling, I found that name: Death Tank Zwei. With a name like that, I thought it sounded promising. But after looking through the entire game thanks to some guy’s research video for a Port-to-PC project on YouTube, I came to the conclusion that this game wasn’t the source of the image, either.

And that’s where the trail grew cold. Maybe I missed something. Maybe it’s just another beautiful Tumblr scrap I’ll never find the source of. Anyone have a clue?

Update: mystery solved, thanks to Coilhouse reader Fmtownsmarty. It’s Power Slave, a hentai first-person adventure/strategy game from Japan. “Tetsuya is a rather ordinary Japanese teenager, who prefers hanging out with his sweetheart Rika than going to school. His passion are 3D video games. The newest game machine which allows the player to completely submerge into the virtual world, modeled according to his desires, has captured his heart. But one thing is strange: lately, Tetsuya keeps seeing himself as a killer and rapist. Dreams begin to haunt him. Is this just a side-effect of the game, or does he have a dark side he knows nothing about?” Oh, Japan, don’t you ever change. <3

Occupy Everywhere: Political Carnival

This installment of Kim Boekbinder’s ongoing Occupy Everywhere series is supplemented by our longtime chum, photographer Neil Girling. Neil recently traveled from California to New York to document various aspects of the Occupation there. Check out his Flickrstream for dozens more OWS/NYC pictures. ~Mer


All photos and photo captions for this post © Neil Girling.

I’m sitting on a wall in the South West corner of Liberty Plaza, across from a solar energy truck and a CNN van, listening to snippets of conversations as people pass me by.

“I’ve been waiting my whole life for something like this to happen” is the thing I hear the most.

“This is so much nicer than a protest.”

“This is the real America.”

“This is leverage.”

The weather is beautiful and the park is full of people, jam-packed today; it’s too many to be comfortable, but the growth of the movement is amazing. Tourists and hippies are all together: arguing, dancing, taking pictures of each other.


An estimated 3,000 showed up at Zuccotti Park at 6am Friday morning (10/14/2011) to defend the occupation against the intended eviction by NYPD.

Everybody is talking to everybody else here, and they are not always agreeing.

Next to me, a woman from Armenia explains that poverty is the fault of the people who are poor. Not only that, but people who are poor are poor by choice; they want to be poor. The man she is talking to has large hoops in his stretched ears, he holds a sign that says, “Fuck: money, war, police brutality…”


Protester, Times Square (10/15/2011).

The drum circle is jubilant and loud. Attractive and dirty young people lounge on plastic-wrapped mattresses, smoking hand rolled cigarettes. There are lots of funny haircuts and piercings. Some of the people sleeping here look like they’d be sleeping on the street anyway.

Occupy Wall Street is a political carnival, a free-for-all of information, misinformation, good times, protest, and personal political expression. The drum circle never stops, not even for the General Assembly. It’s annoying and frustrating to some organizers. But it’s not any louder than NYC is at any time – subways, hovering helicopters, sirens, jackhammers, traffic.


Guy Fawkes-masked protester. October 14, 2011.

There are people here trying to end capitalism, people who want to end Columbus Day, people who want to end meat-eating, war, or the war on drugs. There are artists and musicians, politicians and writers; there are mini-celebrities looking to enhance their image, activists looking to garner support for their own objectives, hippies just getting high on the revolutionary life. Everybody is trying to co-opt the movement, for fun or profit or cool factor or political gain.  But Occupy Wall Street shrugs them all off: all of the celebrities, all of the politicians, even the free-loving, drum-circling, dreadlocked occupiers.

While Occupy Wall Street embraces the spectacle it has become, it is also not letting the spectacle undermine its status as a powerful agent of change.

Fab Ciraolo’s Old School Heroes

Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore broke up this week, ending a 27-year partnership. This brought on a huge wave of 90s nostalgia, calmed only by the sight of my favorite Saturday morning-cartoon superheroes chillin’ in at home in their PJs, slippers, and smoking jackets. I don’t know why. But here they are.

The series “Old School Heroes” by Chile-based illustrator Fab Ciraolo is all about what happens when favorite childhood superheroes from the 90s and earlier relax at home (if home is an ambient retro starfield). See all the images here.

[via Empty Kingdoms]

Angeliska & Amelia & Vintage Vivant

HUGE congratulations to our darling, dollfaced Angeliska Polacheck! She and her consummately scrumptious partner-in-parties, Amelia Foxtrot, are gracing the cover of the current Austin Chronicle, representing their Vintage Vivant shindig for the Best of Austin 2011 awards:

Vintage Vivant is a beautifully presented monthly celebration of Jazz Age culture in Austin, Texas. “A night for glamourous anachronists to dance, drink and delight at the bevy of 1920′s and 30′s themed entertainment. Join us on the last Sunday of each month as we celebrate with vintage cocktails, vintage or vintage-inspired attire and free dance lessons.”

VV regularly compiles 8Tracks mixes to get their attendees in the mood, pre-party. Here’s an addictive assortment of saucy 1920s/30s innuendo songs, presented for their Storyville Bordello party earlier this year:

Angeliskittenhead, who has written multiple pieces for Coilhouse (both in print and on the web) over the years, is also the co-creator of Gadjo Disko and Tranarchy! Amelia helms the Austin chapter of Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School. Then there’s DJ Shorty Stump, and Westen Borghesi, who both spin musical selections from the 1920s and 30s.

Austinites, if you aren’t already, join them all at the Swan Dive on the last Sunday of each month to celebrate with vintage cocktails, vintage, or vintage-inspired attire. Plus, free dance lessons!

Congrats again, ladies.

The Friday Afternoon Movie: House On Haunted Hill

It’s October, that time of the year when, with Fall in full…fall, we are sanctioned to gorge ourselves on a year’s worth of high fructose corn syrup. Knowing you’ll no doubt take care of that on your own, today the FAM provides you, instead, with a healthy heaping of camp and Vincent Price as we present House on Haunted Hill from 1959, directed by William Castle.

The setup is fairly simple: Eccentric millionaire Fredrick Loren (Price) has invited five strangers to attend a “party” for his fourth wife Annabelle at a supposedly haunted house. The power will be off and the doors will be locked at midnight. Each of the guests is given a .45 pistol for protection. Any guest that makes it until morning will receive ten thousand dollars. As the night progresses his guests will learn that there is more to fear than ghosts.

Two things really make House on Haunted Hill: Price, of course, at his schlocky best and the house itself. Say what you want about the acting or the special effects, but the atmosphere conjured up by those sets is strikingly foreboding, especially the wine cellar, home of perhaps the films most famous apparition, the old crone who twice scares the crap out of poor Nora.

Castle was well known for heavily promoting his films with a number of gimmicks, and this one was no different. House on Haunted Hill was marketing as being filmed in “Emergo” or “Emerg-O” in some theaters. What this meant was, during the film’s penultimate scene (in which the scheming Annabelle meets her demise) a glowing, inflatable skeleton would emerge from above the screen and float above the audience via wires. This was known to elicit more laughs than scares and the skeleton often became a target of flying confections.

House on Haunted Hill is a quintessential Halloween movie. It is a typical, haunted house experience put to film (it even starts out with a series of generic haunted-house-spooky sounds) hosted by Vincent Fucking Price. If you’re in the mood for some B-movie thrills, it doesn’t get much better than that.

“SKWERL”

Director Brian Fairbairn and concept writer Karl Eccleston present a short film in fake (and uncannily Dawson’s Creek-accented) English:

Via The Daily What, who says “If you understand this video, I’ve got some good news and some bad news. The bad news is, you’ve gone insane. The good news is, you’re gonna splaish mabeleen furgo mistation.”

It’s extra fun to watch with YouTube’s Beta CC Translator option on (and, as many folks online are noting, would make for a fab double feature with Adriano Celentano’s Prisencolinensinainciusol).