Thank You, Tura Satana

Tura Satana as Varla in Faster Pussycat, Kill!  Kill! (1965)

Iconic cult actress and femme fatale Tura Satana passed away last week, at the age of 72.  The death was announced by her longtime manager, Siouxzan Perry, who said the cause of death was believed to be heart failure.

Born Tura Luna Pascual Yamaguchi in Hokkaido, Japan, to a father of Japanese and Filipino descent and a mother who was Cheyenne Indian and Scots-Irish, Ms. Satana had been a gang member, martial artist, burlesque dancer, actress, stunt woman, nurse, police radio operator, bodyguard, wife and mother – but it was her breakout role as the “brazenly violent but unapologetically feminine” Varla in Russ Meyer’s 1965  exploitative girl gang saga Faster Pussycat, Kill!  Kill! that earned her an enduring cult following.

Tura Satana
, by Molly Crabapple (2008)

Renowned film critic Richard Corliss called her performance “…the most honest, maybe the one honest portrayal in the Meyer canon and certainly the scariest.”

“A woman, like my character, was able to show the male species that we’re not helpless and not entirely dependent on them,” Satana said of Varla, in 2008. “People picked up on the fact that women could be gorgeous and sexy and still kick ass.”

Fables and Phantasmagoria: Christiane Cegavske

Blood Tea and Red String, 2006

Described as “a David Lynchian fever dream on Beatrix Potter terrain”, Christiane Cegavske’s exquisitely-crafted stop motion tale Blood Tea and Red String is a macabre delight  and a labor of love that was 13 years in the making. The film, a dialogue-free, avant garde “fairy tale for adults” follows  two groups of anthropomorphic creatures in fancy costumes -the aristocratic White Mice and the rustic Creatures Who Dwell Under the Oak – and the “struggle over the doll of their heart’s desire.”  This struggle, notes one critic, is so fascinating because the actions and emotions of these bizarre creatures “so uncannily resemble warts-and-all human behavior”. We find a “disturbing comfort” in these unconventional characters, and we see ourselves in this magic world that Cegavske creates.

This beguiling, nightmarish, deceptively whimsical world extends far beyond the phantasmagoric fable that is Blood Tea and Red String.  Cegavske, also responsible for the animation in Asia Argento’s The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things, began dabbling in film making and animation at an early age (5th grade!) with an oddly satisfying-sounding claymation short about trick-or-treaters whose candy is stolen.  Not only is she an extraordinary film maker, but a talented artist in several mediums and a self professed “Creator of Many Things” with an Etsy shop full of delightful oddities  as well.

See below the cut for our recent tête-à-tête with Christiane in which we parley on the subjects of  muses and myths, future dreamscapes, and fancy edibles.

A Requiem for Jean Rollin

image courtesy Fascination: The Jean Rollin Experience

Jean Michel Rollin Le Gentil, French film director fantastique and “gentle poet of sensual horror”,  passed away yesterday (December 15, 2010) at 72, after a long illness.

Much beloved by his fans and horror connoisseurs, lauded for his bizarre genius and the unique, intensely personal vision he brought to his films, Rollin leaves a legacy brimming with uncanny beauty and perverse, morbid delights.

Though his works contained elements of horror cinema,  Rollin insisted he did not make horror films; instead he prefers the label fantastique, which he described as “the opposite of the supernatural”.   His story telling, marked by “surreal sensibilities” and a “narcotic narrative drive”, made for mysterious (and at times maddening) viewing; but the imagery, oh, the imagery. Languid and melancholy, romantic and doom-laden, the dreamy atmospheres Rollin crafted were truly like nothing else in cinema: “…hermetically sealed worlds of desolate chateaus, solitary vampires and violent seduction”.

According to Rollin’s son Serge, who spoke with Fangoria shortly after his father’s death, “Jean was surrounded by his friends, and was looking at the photos of his two granddaughters when he died.”

Jean Rollin (via)

Rollin was calmly uncompromising and self-assured to the very end. The filmmaker’s own words about his work and perceptions of criticism are as fitting a closing statement as any:

“Honestly, I don’t care [what people call me]. Some people say I’m a genius, others consider me the greatest moron who ever stepped behind a camera. I have heard so many things said about me and my films, but these are just opinions.

I am perfectly happy with what I do, because it has always been my choice.”

Transcendent Sensory Walls of Sound

thisquietarmy, “Melted Lead on Ashen Fields”

Hypnotic auditory chaos: ethereal and majestic, vast and layered, reshaped and looped, and wound throughout with intertwining melodic passages – Eric Quach’s  transcendent soundscapes are the “kind of sound that droneheads and ambient fans dream about”.

Guitarist and founding member of the Montreal-based instrumental shoegaze & post-rock band Destroyalldreamers, the self-taught auditory/visual experimentalist  is also known for his work as thisquietarmy, a solo effort which started as a side-project of Destroyalldreamers in 2005, and became his main project in 2008. On various labels in Europe and North America, Eric has released several albums, a handful of EPs and several collaborations with artists such as Aidan Baker (Nadja), Scott Cortez (lovesliescrushing) & Yellow6.

Mains de Givre is a recent side-project of thisquietarmy that began in 2009, with violinist Émilie Livernois-Desroches (formerly of Profugus Mortis). The dark fruit of this union, Esther Marie, released in 2010 , was reviewed by Silent Ballet as a “… beautiful, haunting journey through swirling textures and moods…” ; an eerie snippet from the opening track can be heard in the short promotional video below, created by Meryem Yildiz.   Coilhouse readers with long memories may remember Meryem from a previous feature.

Quach is also involved in a number of  other projects, to include Parallel Lines, a ‘krautgaze’ trio where he’s joined by Ryan Ferguson on synths and Pascal Asselin on drums , and Ghidrah, a noise trio featuring thisquietarmy alongside Aun and Maggot Breeder.

On collaborative efforts, Eric shares:

“…the resulting chemistry and musical surprises of collaborations are often completely unmatched as they can exceed my artistic vision and expectations, and that’s what I thrive for when it comes to collaborating with one or several other artists. It usually either works really well, or it doesn’t at all.

“The more there are people involved in my projects, the more my artistic vision becomes impaired, and the more I lose control of the entity. I am a control freak, but I don’t possess the leadership ability to impose dictatorship upon others. The best way to remedy this issue was to have a project of my own and work strictly alone. Naturally, thisquietarmy became the project that has the most leeway in every aspect, and that I’ve put the most miles on so far.”

A Telling of the Tale of Tales

The PATH —– Launch Trailer
from Tale of Tales on Vimeo.

Belgian avant-garde Game Developers Tale of Tales have made a name for themselves as an independent game development studio, creating genre defying art-games. Armed with ambitious vision and an unrelenting sense of artistic integrity, Tale of Tales co-founders Michaël Samyn and Auriea Harvey cater to an audience outside of mainstream gamers providing complex, meaningful gameplay experiences, and offering a “different kind of story” for “a different kind of people”.

One of their first offerings, The Endless Forest, is a multi-player game set in a soothing, bucolic landscape; there are no goals to achieve, or rules to follow – “just run through the forest and see what happens.”

The Graveyard, launched in 2008, is a short tale which places the player in control of an old woman traversing a straight and narrow path  across a gloomy graveyard. It is described as “an icon” of the studio’s work as a result of the game’s “apparent simplicity and vagueness”.

Tale of Tales next endeavor, The Path, is loosely categorized as “adventure-horror”  and was inspired from the classic fairy tale of Little Red Riding Hood.  There is one rule in the game, which needs to be broken. There is but one goal. And when you attain it, you die. It is  “a  game about playing, and failing, about embracing life, perhaps by accepting death.” The legendary SWANS member Jarboe, along with multitalented co-composer Kris Force, provide an dynamic, unsettling narrative and score.

Based on Oscar Wilde’s Salome, a  play banished from the stages for over 50 years, Fatale is the studio’s latest gaming project.  An interactive 3D vignette, it offers the same sort of “observational immersionist” approach that Tale of Tales has become known for.  The player is encouraged to “explore a living tableau filled with references to the legendary tale and enjoy the moonlit serenity of a fatal night in the orient.”

2010 saw the release by Tale of Tales of Vanitas,  an app for iPhone and iPod touch.  Referencing the still life paintings from the 16th and 17th century, Vanitas presents one with a  3D box filled with “intriguing objects…to create pleasant arrangements that inspire and enchant”, and is touted as a “a memento mori for your digital hands.”  The app includes random quotations on the topic of life and vanity and music by avant cellist Zoë Keating.

Michael and Auriea graciously gave of their time to provide a thought-provoking look into the passionate philosophies behind Tale of Tale’s creative projects. See below the cut for the full interview.

Monster as Metaphor: John Allison, Webcomics Genius

Art by John Allison

Devoted and cultish readers extol John Allison as “a rare gem in the often hard-to-navigate web comic underbelly.” Though you may not presently be reading John Allison’s current endeavor, Bad Machinery, chances are that you are perhaps already familiar with him through his older works, Scary Go Round (2002-2009) or Bobbins (1998-2002), or as an artist/chum linked to through one or more of his contemporaries.

Fans of Jeffrey Rowland’s Overcompensating for example, will recognize Allison as “The Englishman” , a British gentleman of dubious distinction who  occasionally happens upon the scene to politely antagonize the regulars. Or, through Dumbrella Collective alum, R. Stevens, mastermind behind Diesel Sweeties and 8-bit illustrator of our charming editrixes here at Coilhouse. Maybe  even through one of the dynamic guest strips he has provided over the years to one of your long-time favourite web comic artists.

Marked by clever, peculiar dialogue, absurdist humor, dotty characters (and delightful ladies fashion!), mysterious happenings and hi-jinks, and a dense mythology (though compelling and completely addictive, to which  anyone who has begun to peek  through his archives can attest)  –  John Allison’s story-telling genius is unmistakable.  And  in a medium where visuals are the reason most viewers show up in the first place, the exquisitely charming, highly stylized art is “as big a draw as the comedy”.

Scary Go Round, “Bulgaria”

Described as “postmodern Brit horror”,  Allison’s previous comic, Scary Go Round followed the hapless denizens of Tackleford, a fictional British town beset by all manner of supernatural activity including, but not limited to: zombies, space owls, the devil, and portals to other dimensions.  Though Scary Go Round ended in 2009, a few of his beloved characters have moved on to Bad Machinery, which picks up in Tackleford 3 years later.  The focus is on an entirely new cast of sleuthing schoolchildren attending Griswald’s Grammar School, whose well-intentioned energies may be causing more problems than the mysteries they solve  – but they throw themselves into it all with much vigor and aplomb.

Bad Machinery Flyer Art for Thought Bubble

Coilhouse recently caught up with John Allison about his new endeavor; see below the cut for our Q&A in which John talks about the transition between old stories and new, the state of web comics today, and the meaning behind the monsters.

Stimulating Juxtapostions: The Art of John Coulthart

Yog-Sothoth, from The Haunter of the Dark

Discerning seekers of rare or obscure artists will eventually stumble upon John Coulthart’s Feuilleton at some point in their virtual journeys. An artist himself, and a blogger “of some repute”, his site is a veritable Holy Grail treasure collection of luminous paintings, ornate illustrations & woodcuts, and salty vintage photographs that run the gamut from fin de siecle European art magazines to antique occult bookplates to queer themed eye candy from a bygone era for which to titillate our salacious modern sensibilities. One with an interest in such things could literally lose hours perusing his archives. It is with the striking of a dazed and dreamy midnight hour, head filled with inspiration and amazing discoveries, that one realizes where the time has gone.

John is perhaps best known for his own striking and complex “genre-defying” artistry; working with various styles and media in his singular, chimeric aesthetic, he is a successful graphic designer for a variety of mediums including album covers, book covers comic books and graphic novels.

“As a comic artist John produced the Lord Horror series Reverbstorm with David Britton for Savoy Books, and received the dubious accolade of having an earlier Savoy title, Hard Core Horror 5, declared obscene in a British court of law. … His collection of HP Lovecraft adaptations and illustrations, The Haunter of the Dark and Other Grotesque Visions, was republished in 2006 by Creation Oneiros.

As a book designer and illustrator John continues to work for Savoy Books, and in 2003 designed the acclaimed Thackery T Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric and Discredited Diseases edited by Jeff VanderMeer and Mark Roberts.

John’s work has been showcased via Rapid Eye, Critical Vision, Clive Barker’s A-Z of Horror, EsoTerra, and the Channel 4 television series Banned in the UK.”

See below the cut for a Q&A in which John discusses fleeting fascinations, enduring enthusiasms, how the mystical and macabre manifests itself in his projects, and the mercurial nature of design.

Mr. Crowley’s Rice

Aleister Crowley, prescription known to many as “The Great Beast” and thought perhaps “The Wickedest Man in the World” was an English Occultist, ampoule mystic, ceremonial Magician… and amateur foodie?

See below for Riz Aleister Crowley, a delectable rice dish. Redolent with aromatic herbs and spices, almonds and green pistachios (rendering it a “Poem of Spring”, Crowley raves), it is meant to be eaten with a lovely curry.  This carnal knowledge comes to us courtesy of Professor Jack, who recently conducted some sleuthing in the Crowley Archives at Bird Library, Syracuse University, and generously shared the fruits of his efforts. Should you wish to attempt this recipe in your own kitchen, be forewarned –  volumes and weights are virtually non-existent here; Prof. Jack notes that Crowley appears to have been “… less fond of precise measurements than he was of Sex Magicks and defiling nice carpets.”

Martin Millar’s Lycanthropian Soap Operas

Curse of the Wolf Girl, by Martin Millar / cover art by John Coulthart

“In London, Kalix is on her way to remedial college to try and improve her reading skills, Vex is going too, and Daniel is still pining over Moonglow. Yum Yum Sugary Snacks are refusing to rehearse, Dominil is getting annoyed and Decembrius is wondering what to do with himself. In Scotland, Markus, now thane of the Werewolf Clan, is wondering if he should tell his girlfriend about his habit of cross-dressing. Malveria, Queen of the Fire Elementals, and Thrix, Werewolf Enchantress, have some important fashion engagements coming up, but the werewolf hunters haven’t forgotten about them, and neither has Princess Kabachetka, Malveria’s deadly rival.”

The above is the author’s  own spirited synopsis of Curse of the Wolf Girl, a follow up to his previous effort Lonely Werewolf Girl, which introduces and follows the tale of  Kalix, the titular lonely werewolf girl, and a cast of gloriously oddball and yet remarkably compelling characters.  Their story – fraught with grunge and gore and violence galore, and underscored by a strange dark humor somehow both sly and ingenuous at once – makes for a gleefully irresistible read.

Martin Millar’s complex series – a veritable lycanthropian soap opera –  features said oddball characters, along with “multiple races, enchanting fashion trappings, business, family dynamics, music, sex, enduring love, romance, business, eating disorders, drug addiction, back-alley fights, epic battles, politics, and, most prominently, the contrary nature of werewolves”.

Millar has also authored The Good Fairies of New York, Suzy Led Zepplin and Me, and The Thraxas series (as Martin Scott) for which he won the World Fantasy Award in 2000.  See after the jump for our Q&A, in which he thoughtfully discusses past and present influences and future endeavors, while hitting The Sex Pistols, Jane Austen and T Rex in between.

Beatriz Martin Vidal: Between Dreams and Reality

First Encounter

A young girl in a scarlet hoodied romper stares gravely up into the heavily furred, ferociously fanged face of a black wolf.  A lesser creature might be shamed by the child’s frank gaze – her features set earnestly, courageously, eyes alight with curiosity, and perhaps, even compassion.

Is the wolf to be deterred by this sweet faced thing, obviously unafraid?  Will it stray from it’s monstrously predictable fairytale course?  No, it is not. Will not.  Cannot — after all, that is what it wolves do, isn’t it?

And before you can blink it has swallowed the girl whole.

But, wait…