Purveyors of lo-fi psych Sic Alps have just released their third album, ‘Napa Asylum’, on Drag City. With themes that range from reincarnation to magic and schizophrenia, the trio’s new offering is a collection of lyrical and bittersweet tunes with addictive killer hooks. For more information and to download the album, visit the Drag City website. Below, Noel, Mike and Matt tell us about their favourite films.
1. Blind Beast (1969)
This Japanese film by Yasuzo Masumura must be one of my favourite films of all time. Why this is so is a mystery to me as I really don’t relate to the subject material at all. A blind sculptor goes to check out a nude life-size sculpture of a woman that he becomes obsessed with. She’s a struggling model and he convinces her to come back to his ‘studio’ to work on a piece. She is kidnapped and held captive in this bizarre warehouse (with no light) where the artist’s mother has been forced to take care of him. Each of the walls is covered in oversized body parts, one with ears, one with noses, one with arms, one with legs, etc. (I suppose there are more than four walls in the montage). In the middle of the room is a giant 50-yard-long sculpture of a female body that eventually becomes the terrain for a gradual descent into sado-masochistic sensory deprivation which escalates to result in mutilation and eventually a double suicide. I really have little interest in these sorts of themes but the film’s heavy tones and campy way just work. I’m glad that my nightmares are much tamer than this.
2. Stripes (1981)
This is one of the few VHS tapes that my folks purchased and had around the house while I was a kid. I was way too young to understand a lot of this kind of comedy at the time (‘Oh, I’m sorry, it must be all that cough syrup I had for breakfast…’) but I caught onto it in a strange way. It made me realise that Bill Murray is one of the most hilarious comedy actors of my time and helped me to develop a very skewed and irreverent view of the military at a very young age. I think I’ve seen this film 1,000 times.
3. Zachariah (1970)
Remember when you saw a young Don Johnson in A Boy and His Dog and kinda freaked out? Rewind five years and you’ve got DJ co-starring in this bizarre and wonderfully flawed psych-out Western, directed by George Englund. You’ve got cameos from the likes of the James Gang, Country Joe & the Fish, Doug Kershaw, and… wait for it… ELVIN JONES! EJ’s bit is brief and he plays the owner (and ‘man in black’) of an isolated mountain top saloon (the outside walls of the building are covered in skulls). Inside, the James Gang is playing but Elvin gets an itch and wrestles the drummer from his stool to take over and take a dominating drum solo for what seems like a solid, sweaty and monumentally cinematic five minutes! Just afterwards, there is a pretty important gunfight with the aforementioned DJ… no spoilers here. I’m serious, this film exists.
4. Mean Girls (2004)
Classic early Lindsay Lohan jam. Perfect for a rainy day.
5. Broadway by Light (1958)
Photographic short film of the lights of Times Square from the American photographer/satirist William Klein.
6. Eat the Document (1966)
By D.A. Pennebaker. I love to edit film and sing Bob Dylan songs.
7. The Hours and Times (1992)
Beatles fact or fiction? A short (60-minute) film that ponders the rumour that a 1963 pre-Beatlemania vacation to Barcelona by John Lennon and Brian Epstein may have involved a little more than just a little rest and relaxation. That the two went on holiday is fact. What happened in those four days is where this film takes some interesting liberties. Acted with nuance, its strengths lie in three-dimensional characterisations and solid dialogue. Ian Hart would play John Lennon again in Backbeat, but his handling of the role here is far superior.
8. Out of the Blue (1980)
Dennis Hopper’s third feature as director (in fact ‘hijacked’ from original producer Raymond Burr, and filmed during an admittedly low point in his personal and professional life), this is an unflinching study of the failures of the 60s generation and the irreparable ill-effects they have on the youth of the late 70s. It’s a sure bet that Linda Manz’s performance here is the reason why she was picked to play an unhinged mom in Harmony Korine’s Gummo (yes, consider this a double recommendation). Tough, dark, visceral.
9. Safe Men (1998)
One of the biggest sleepers of all time. My introduction to Sam Rockwell, Paul Giamatti, Steve Zahn, and Mark Ruffalo. A hilarious case of mistaken identity set in the Jewish-mafia-ridden town of Providence, R.I. Wait, that doesn’t make any sense, you say? This one is off the charts on its own logic, but by no means is it insufferably ‘weird’. On the contrary, the themes are quite ordinary, but the dialogue is hilarious and the premise is just enough off-kilter to allow for characters like Giamatti’s ‘Pork Chop a.k.a. Sasha’.
10. Withnail and I (1986)
This is a Mike and Matt favourite for what should be obvious reasons.