(Belated) BTC: 60 Years of the Wilhelm Scream

The fine people of Cinexcellence have toiled countless hours to bring us the most comprehensive compilation of “Wilhelm Screams” to date:

Even if you don’t know it by name, chances are you’ve hear the Wilhelm Scream more than once! A film/television/video game stock sound effect first used in the ’51 Western film Distant Drums (during a fatal alligator attack scene), its use has continued to grow in popularity over time. At this point, the Wilhelm Scream’s got to be of the most persistent in-jokes in pop culture history. We should all buy Ben Burtt a drink; he’s the brilliant sound designer who got into the habit of sneaking Wilhelm into various action flicks he was working on, like Star Wars and Indiana Jones.

Via Wiki:

The sound is named for Private Wilhelm, a character in The Charge at Feather River, a 1953 western in which the character is shot with an arrow. This was believed to be the third movie to use the sound effect and its first use from the Warner Brothers stock sound library.

Research by Burtt suggests that actor and singer Sheb Wooley, best known for his novelty song “Flying Purple People Eater” in 1958 and as scout Pete Nolan on the television series Rawhide, is likely to have been the voice actor who originally performed the scream. This has been supported by an interview in 2005 with Linda Dotson, Wooley’s widow. Burtt discovered records at Warner Brothers from the editor of Distant Drums including a short list of names of actors scheduled to record lines of dialogue for miscellaneous roles in the movie. Wooley played the uncredited role of Private Jessup in Distant Drums, and was one of the few actors assembled for the recording of additional vocal elements for the film. Wooley performed additional vocal elements, including the screams for a man being bitten by an alligator. Dotson confirmed that it was Wooley’s scream that had been in so many westerns, adding, “He always used to joke about how he was so great about screaming and dying in films.”

In 2010, a Wilhelm Scream App was released on the Apple iPhone. As of 2011, it is still free to download.

Screaming Private Wilhelm from The Charge at Feather River, 1953. (Third known example of the scream’s use, from whence it gets its name.)

Orson Welles and Jim Henson and Frank Oz Share a Too-WTF-For-TV Moment


“Things take an unpleasant turn at the end of Orson Welles’ interview with Jim Henson and Frank Oz… and stay tuned for Miss Angie Dickinson!”

Not really sure what’s happening, here, or whether this footage –all presumably taken from the unaired pilot for Orson Welles’ prospective 1978 talk show– has been doctored or edited in any way. (Does anyone who’s seen the bootleg have more info on it?) Whatever’s going on, though, watching these three geniuses sharing such a sublimely awkward moment has gotta be the best thing since sliced bread frozen peas.

[Via Jim Sclavunos, thanks!]

The Feasts of Tre-Mang

Author and gourmand Eli Brown is writing the first-ever ethnic cookbook of Tre-Mang, a small Atlantic island you’ve definitely never heard of.

Around the turn of the 20th century, the islanders of Tre-Mang celebrated a complex and lively heritage, and prepared some truly mouthwatering traditional cuisine: moist cakes, savory side dishes and breads, frothy pâtés, fresh compotes, hearty chowder pies, and much more. Tre-Mang’s people and dishes also happen to be figments of Eli Brown’s imagination. The Alameda, California-based storyteller readily admits that his entire manuscript is an elaborate, loving fabrication.

Fruitless attempts to sell his “real recipes from an imagined island” to timid publishers have prompted Brown to create a Kickstarter campaign. He is going to produce and print his cookbook on his own:

After several prominent publishing houses told me that my latest work was “too lovely and literary to make it in this market” and “exciting and unlike anything we’ve seen. We’d take it if we knew how to market it” and etcetera, I’ve been forced to reconsider my place in the writing world. It would be one thing if I had been rejected because the work needed improvement. But to be told I was writing as well as I could, but that the industry had no place for my particular works, well, that was a shock. It’s a strange conundrum: Editors love my writing—marketing departments reject it on sight.

We all know that the literary industry is sinking, or, as my younger brother so succinctly puts it, “has auto-cannibalized itself.” And so we are left running about trying to catch crumbs from an ever shrinking pie. (This is why we don’t mix metaphors; a sinking, auto-cannibalistic pie should be avoided at all costs.)

I am not willing to surrender. I believe that if editors love my work, readers will, too. And so I’m turning to the grass roots. […] I’m starting a Kickstarter campaign! I’m combining my love of fiction with my love of cooking. The result is an ethnic cookbook based on the cuisine of a culture that doesn’t exist.

The Feasts of Tre-Mang is a most delightful and nourishing premise from yet another internet crowd-sourcing pioneer. Check out this interview with Brown for more background information, and click here to support his Kickstarter drive in its final days for as little as one dollar. (Or as much as $550… and be crowned an Honorary Governor of Tre-mang!)

Pamatala Jad-zum: Storm Chowder Pie.

The Unyielding Mystery of Catalog No. 439

EDITOR’S NOTE: Yet another wonderful post from our longtime contributor, Jeffrey Wengrofsky! This past year, he’s been keeping busy with all manner of projects, and this Sunday, April 3, his Syndicate of Human Image Traffickers will be screening “The Gospel According to Reverend Billy” as part of the Prison is an Angry Father fundraiser at Goodbye Blue Monday (1087 Broadway, Bushwick, New York). It’s a benefit for a prisoner’s rights project created by the Sanctuary of Hope. The event will include live performances of an almost musical variety, as well as the screening of several more short films in addition the Syndicate’s. Doors open at 8pm. Showtime for “The Gospel According to Reverend Billy” is 10pm. This event is free of charge.

Last year I spent my summer vacation working on a feature film in Detroit.  While creeping around the city, I could not help but notice its mountainous Masonic Temple – the largest in the world – whose muscular shoulders rise above its environs as if Charlton Heston’s urban fortress in Omega Man were carved into Yosemite’s El Capitan.  I was even able to arrange a private tour of the windowless monolith by its hospitable and wily Grand Master, including many meeting rooms and a majestic 4,004 seat auditorium (numerologists take note), all of it a visual feast for anyone with a taste for dramatic architecture, grotesque beauty, or even cryptography for that matter.  While in the lobby, our guide offhandedly revealed three levels of meaning behind a seemingly random painting, and the stately oddities awaiting us in floors above and below nearly exploded with symbolic resonance.  Unfortunately, the photographer I brought with me was so spooked by the whole experience that he ran screaming into the long night, ever since unreachable by phone or email.

And who can blame him? The uninitiated public can never comfortably claim to understand the true raison d’etre and inner machinations of secret societies because any scholar or spokesperson or self-declared defector may actually be a shill for the organization, planting seeds of misinformation and spreading misleading rumors.  Even joining such a society does not entitle one to understanding the ways of its upper circles.  Circles within circles, dear reader.  Are you getting sleepy?  The cinematic accoutrements – vaulted iron doors, masks, handshakes and cloaks – provide the perfect canvas for our fears of the unknown and desires for hidden order beneath evident chaos, conjuring a veil behind which we may never knowingly trespass.   Consequently, it can never be definitely settled as to whether any or all such societies are actually: cults of mystical inquiry; wholesome gatherings of those serving laudable Enlightenment values of science and public service; the core of a dastardly “power elite”; congresses of people who enjoy rituals involving aprons (not that there’s anything wrong with that); or some combination thereof.

Last year, Fantagraphics reproduced Catalog No. 439 of the DeMoulin Brothers– the most extensive depiction of initiation contraptions and ritual outfits used by Freemasons and other fraternal orders, like the Odd Fellows, the Knights of Pythias, and E. Clampus Vitus. Bearing the title Burlesque Paraphernalia and Side Degree Specialties and Costumes, this wacky book may shed a shred of light into the outer sanctum of these associations – unless, of course, it is actually a hoax disseminated to lead us astray.  Bracketing but never disregarding this notion, the readership of Coilhouse may discover certain Truths regarding these quasi-mystical clubs from perusing its glossy pages.  Even if Enlightenment should, as always, prove ever elusive, the illustrated designs of Edmund DeMoulin and the handiwork of his brothers Ulysses and Erastus, as reproduced in Burlesque Paraphernalia, will still deliver amusing, if sadistic, anthropology.

John Murray Spear Builds a Machine God

A depiction of the New Motor. Artist unknown.

Ah, the 1800s were a simpler time. Before that whole Civil War mess, America was in the throes of the Second Great Awakening, with the Northeast so thoroughly scorched by religious fervor that a swath of New York was dubbed “the Burned-over district.”

Amidst this, Spiritualism was all the rage, too, so it didn’t initially attract much notice when John Murray Spear, a middle-aged Universalist pastor in Massachusetts, claimed to be receiving messages from dead men. Sure, it was somewhat strange that instead of talking to a deceased relative for comfort, he claimed that a “Band of Electricizers” made up of Ben Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and others, had chosen him to bring a messiah into the world. But, in a twist fitting a new era, this savior was a machine, one that would, Spear relayed, “revolutionize the world and raise mankind to an exalted level of spiritual development.”

Those who already knew anything of the man might have figured he had simply snapped. Spear’s outspoken views on abolition and women’s rights, among other topics, led a number of churches to drive him out, and, in 1844, after a particularly vigorous denunciation of slavery, he was beaten and left for dead in Maine.

A picture of Spear, and the title page of a tome of the Electricizers’ revelations.

He recovered, and, in 1851, with the Electricizers’ plans dancing in his head, quit the ministry. Two years later, he began his work on the machine, with a result stranger than fiction.

The Forgotten Arms Race

The reels of footage from America were, to say the least, a cause for concern. So concerning, in fact, that Serov personally presented the official report to Khrushchev. Witnesses in the room claim that the First Secretary of the Central Committee looked visibly shaken, the blood draining from his face. The idea that the enemy would be in possession of such an animal, empowered with such advanced situational awareness and capable of communicating with humans was astonishing. His first question upon composing himself was to ask just how the KGB could have been unaware of a program to create such a creature; a question for which Serov had no answer. It was a spectacular failure of intelligence that would haunt the rest of his career and, some speculated, would ultimately be the reason for his dismissal (unfairly, one might point out, as the experiment had come to fruition before his appointment as the Ministry’s head).

Needless to say, work began almost immediately on a response. The canine was smart, yes, and agile but it was still a dog and, therefore, still susceptible to all the dangers that might befall the squishy, fragile body of a living creature. Dr. Sergey Sergeyevich Bryukhonenko had already laid the groundwork for what Russian scientists were proposing, and they wasted no time in putting it into practice. No such head-start was afforded them in the construction of the mechanical body, however, and yet the team still managed to build a working prototype in the span of two years.

Franchised Goodies for the Children of Dune

In light of the charming Goodnight Dune children’s book that’s making the rounds online right now, today seems like a great time to share some treasures from my personal stash of weird, random, off-color, No-Seriously-WTF-Were-They-Thinking movie franchise ephemera.

These, for your delectation, are scans and photos of various pages from the astoundingly age-inappropriate Dune activity book series, published in 1984 to promote David Lynch’s movie adaptation of the classic Frank Herbert novel, produced by Universal Studios.

You know, FOR KIDS:

Yes, that’s a coloring page of Dr. Yueh preparing to assassinate Duke Leto with a dartgun. And up at the top there, that’s a floppy, diseased sex organ-reminiscent Guild Navigator, presented a-la la la “Connect the Dots”.

And here’s another cheerful coloring page of the fresh corpses of Duke Leto and Piter:

Heeeeee! Who the frak was in charge of marketing? More to the point, what kind of Melange were they smokin’ during the merch meeting, when it was decided that producing this series of vengeful activity books for a K-through-8 demographic made good business sense?

Well, whoever they were, Coilhouse salutes them.

Explore the childlike wonderment murder, intrigue, suppurating boils, phallic symbolism and knifeplay after the jump.

In Remembrance: Kenneth Grant (1924-2011)

Artist and researcher M.S. leDespencer has kindly written the following obituary in honor of Kenneth Grant. The more esoterically inclined readers of Coilhouse will immediately recognize that name. Those who are unfamiliar –but curious– may wish to click the many hyperlinks attached below and begin to explore Grant’s strange and beautiful work. Condolences to Grant’s widow, Steffi, their family, and friends. ~Mer

Portrait of Kenneth Grant by Austin Osman Spare

“So life takes fire from death and runs. Whirling amidst the suns.”
~A. Crowley
Liber Pyramidos

It was announced today that occultist, author, artist, and gentleman Kenneth Grant passed away after an illness on January 15, 2011. He was 86 years old.

Grant, long a compelling figure in the world of occultism, has a legacy that extends back over half a century. He was the last man alive to have close ties to Aleister Crowley, having served as personal secretary to “The Beast”, and having been initiated into the Ordo Templi Orientis and Argentum Astrum by Crowley himself. After Crowley’s death, Grant and his wife Steffi were among the few attendees at Crowley’s funeral service. Subsequently, Grant became well known for helping to keep Crowley’s concepts and philosophies alive in the troubled decades following his death, and for the further continuation and expansion of Thelemic ideas over six decades.

Kenneth Grant’s occultism was not the fervent, dry adherence of the ideologue. Rather, he fashioned a deeply personal, fantastical, dynamic, and intricate system of magic woven together from syncretic elements of Tantra, Voudon, Gnosticism, Surrealism, fiction and a variety of other exotic threads. Building on the foundations of Crowley’s work, Grant expanded the current understanding of the meaning and implications of the “Law ofThelema”. Much like the mystic William Blake, Grant forged his own path beyond esoteric speculation, writing first-hand accounts of what he perceived to exist outside of the range of mundane experience.

Over the course of sixty years, Grant cataloged his evolving exploration of Crowley’s system of Magick and philosophy across a series of nine books that came to be known as the Typhonian Trilogies. Grant had stated that he wanted the act of reading these books to be an esoteric experience in and of itself. Certainly, the trilogies contain a maelstrom of esoteric ideas, dream imagery, and highly technical esotericism that, for the receptive reader, can border on a consciousness-altering experience. In addition to these seminal works, Grant wrote a variety of articles, fiction, and poetry, all of which are being made available via his official publisher, Starfire.

Portrait of Steffi and Kenneth Grant by Austin Osman Spare

Grant is also responsible for the enduring legend of the occultist and artist Austin Osman Spare, who had a profound influence on both his and Steffi’s art and world view. As Spare’s executor, Grant helped to catalog and publish Spare’s paintings, drawings, and writings, securing his friend’s art the long-term influence and respect it wields today. Were it not for the Grant’s loyal championing, the world would most likely lack knowledge of the rich, haunting body of work that Spare left behind.

Mr. Grant is survived by his aforementioned wife, the artist Steffi Grant –who has been an integral presence in Grant’s work since the beginning– and their family. His work continues via the Typhonian Order and individual explorers the world over. Through whatever strange spheres or iridescent geometric shapes he may choose as his vehicle among the scintillating transplutonian stars, may his journey continue!

Long Lost Ballets Russes Film Footage Discovered!

Film still taken from footage discovered in the British Pathe archives. Click here to watch.

The BBC reports:

An important part of ballet history has been discovered – 30 seconds of the Ballets Russes dancing in 1928.

It is the only film ever found of one of the best known and most influential companies in dance history.

The silent black-and-white news reel was spotted wrongly labeled in the British Pathe online archive by a dance enthusiast, and then verified.

AMAZEBALLS! So exciting! This news comes to us via reader Sarah Hassan, who literally just turned in a massive article about Sergei Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes earlier today. (Apophenia in da’ HAUS.) Keep your eyes peeled in the coming weeks for Sarah’s sprawling, comprehensive Coilhouse blog feature on one of the most fascinating and influential chapters in ballet’s history.

Previously en pointe on Coilhouse:

BTC: “I Need A Bambulance”

While several harried members of the staff of Coilhouse, frantic to meet our rapidly approaching content deadline, could probably do with a WAAAHMBULANCE this morning, that fact does not make for half as entertaining a BTC post as this legendary “Bambulance” bootleg:

Various cuts of the ridiculous, expletive-rife conversation between (supposedly) a 9-1-1 operator and a man named Joe (trapped in a mutha fuckin’ phone booth outside of a mutha fuckin’ Stop n’ Go after being bitten by a mutha fuckin’ deer, and then a mutha fuckin’ dog) have been circulating for well over thirty years. According to Snopes, it’s yet to be determined whether the call is a hoax or not, or where it originated from. In any case, it’s comedy gold. Y’all have a beautiful GOD DAMN week, y’hear?