After the demise of Throbbing Gristle in 1981, former sound engineer Chris Carter and performance artist Cosey Fanni Tutti formed Chris & Cosey. Pioneers of industrial music, they were among the first bands to fuse electronic and acoustic sounds, and went on to become hugely influential in techno and electronica, releasing albums through Rough Trade, Nettwerk and Wax Trax. They have continued to release albums on their own label, Conspiracy International, while staging a number of works at museums worldwide, performing as both Chris & Cosey and Carter Tutti. We had the pleasure of catching their live scoring of Murnau’s Faust as part of the Scanner: Lachrimae night at the BFI last December. For Record Store Day on April 19 they release a limited edition CD of Carter Tutti remixes of Chris & Cosey. They play in Copenhagen on May 16, Stockholm on May 18, Barcelona (Sonar Festival) on June 12 and Berlin on August 2. For more information, please visit the Carter Tutti website. Below Chris and Cosey tell us about the 10 films that mean the most to them.
1. The Ladykillers (Alexander Mackendrick, 1955)
Cosey: An Ealing classic is always perfect to provide the atmosphere for a relaxing Sunday afternoon’s viewing. The film evokes the kind of warm humour of that time – no game play, no hidden agendas, just great, understated comic interaction between wonderful actors (Alec Guinness, Herbert Lom, Peter Sellers, etc.) playing loveable rogues trying, and failing, to outwit their sweet elderly landlady (Katie Johnson). So very British and so of that era.
Chris: I love this film for all the reasons Cosey has said, but for me, being a North Londoner brought up in the 1950s, the locations give it an even deeper nostalgic resonance that harks back to naive, lost, rose-tinted days.
2. A Clockwork Orange (Stanley Kubrick, 1971)
Chris: One of my all-time favourite films, including probably the best electronic soundtrack… ever. When I left school my first job was as an assistant sound recordist, and this was one of the very first films I worked on. Well, when I say worked, I spent maybe two days ‘helping out’ on location at the Chelsea Drugstore in the King’s Road for the record shop scenes.
Cosey: Aaaah, the film that spawned the copycat skinhead gang in my hometown of Hull. The sight of white rolled-up trousers, braces, cherry red boots, etc., was a sight to behold. Though the violence that came with it wasn’t welcome – albeit quite the norm in Hull at the time. Thankfully they were acquaintances of ours, alongside the Hells Angels of the time. All ‘outsiders’ together. An amazing film that I happily revisit.
3. Star Wars (George Lucas, 1977)
Chris: This was one of the first really big-screen, 70mm, Dolby Surround blockbuster movies Cosey and I went to see at the Odeon Leicester Square in London – very romantic. I remember everyone in the auditorium ducking when the Star Destroyer first came on the screen. Later, I managed to get hold of the audio from the film, and if you listen carefully to some of the early Throbbing Gristle recordings (the live tracks) you can hear all sorts of Star Wars clips that me and Sleazy (Peter Christopherson) were spinning in from cassette – bleeps, explosions, bits of dialogue. Here’s a funny six degrees of separation: in 1977 I was also working part time in a furniture store in Hampstead, London, when a buyer from Lucas Films came in and ordered a dozen or so expensive Italian black high-backed chairs. I was tasked with delivering them to Elstree studios, which I did, right onto the Star Wars set. The chairs were used in the ‘Death Star conference room’ scenes with Darth Vader and Peter Cushing.
4. Alien (Ridley Scott, 1979)
Chris: I sometimes wish I could un-see or un-remember certain movies, just so I could watch them again, as if for the first time, to re-experience that combination of dread, awe and wonder of a really great thriller or horror film. It’s an amazing movie – even more so considering it was all done without CGI.
Cosey: Chris and Nick (our son) were avid fans of the Alien movies. They went to the all-nighter and the ‘Alien War’ experience together at the Trocadero Piccadilly Circus, where the Alien films were brought to life. It was scary as hell – I heard the screams from outside, and some people who couldn’t cope were spat out early. The actors were from nearby West End shows, and were fantastic and took to their roles with great relish.
5. Apocalypse Now (Francis Ford Coppola, 1979)
Chris: We saw the original 70mm print in 1979 in San Francisco, at The Northpoint Theatre, I think. It was one of Throbbing Gristle’s many regular film outings. From the first surround sounds of the helicopter and strains of The Doors’ ‘The End’, we all kept looking over at each other while the movie was playing and we were like… WTF! Monte Cazazza was with us, Vale from Research, there were about 10 of us. It was one of those unforgettable ‘shared experiences’, like when you drop acid with friends. We were all a bit speechless afterwards.
6. Blade Runner (Ridley Scott, 1982)
Chris: An iconic movie in so many ways – the concepts, the art direction, the production values and of course the music. As with 2001: A Space Odyssey and Alien, in my mind at least, it was one of the first non-CGI future-set films that was presented in such a way that it all seemed utterly believable and required almost no suspension of disbelief.
Cosey: Such atmosphere, the coldness, the fear, and deeply sad. It just hits so many emotional trigger points for me. We wrote our track ‘Raining Tears of Blood’ after watching the closing sequences with Rutger Hauer’s ‘tears in the rain’ speech.
7. Blue Velvet (David Lynch, 1986)
Cosey: I was so drawn into this world, partly by my own tendencies, but primarily by Lynch’s amazing ability to present the depths of desire, despair and beyond. I love films that inspire me and stay with me until that inspiration has been fulfilled. ‘Deep Velvet’ (from our 1989 album Trust) was a direct result of watching this film.
Chris: Classic Lynch. Weird characters, surreal imagery, uncomfortable scenarios, thought-provoking and sexy as hell… probably his best – well, of that period.
8. Boogie Nights (Paul Thomas Anderson, 1997)
Cosey: When I first watched this I was in two minds whether I could enjoy it simply because it captured the 70s porn industry I’d experienced first-hand quite well. But I soon got over that, and it was precisely because I had such specific reference points and empathy, that the film is kind of special for me… all the craziness of those times. The seduction/manipulation techniques, sexual performance expectations and cavalier attitudes. That’s not to say it wasn’t fun too. So the balance is pretty good.
Chris: Love it! We watched this (again!) recently and it’s held up wonderfully well as a pretty accurate time capsule of the period. Though watching it with Cosey can be ‘interesting’ as she’s constantly analysing and deconstructing the scenes.
9. Ringu (Hideo Nakata, 1998)
Chris: One of the only horror films that freaked me out so much the first time I saw it that I had to close my eyes. The soundtrack is a masterpiece of creepiness too. Dark Water (2002, also by Hideo Nakata) had a similar effect on me. The Japanese do horror so well.
Cosey: Spine-chillingly scary. One of the most iconic and referenced horror films.
10. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (Peter Jackson, 2001–03)
Chris: Being fundamentally a hippy at heart, my later teenage years naturally involved dropping acid and reading LOTR countless times, and when the trilogy was released I wholeheartedly embraced the films too. They are wonderfully well-made, totally engrossing films, especially when viewed as a single body of work. We’ve watched the extended versions, in one sitting, a few times, including once with Sleazy. He wouldn’t admit it to many people (it probably wouldn’t sit well with the Coil mythology) but he liked nothing better than to have a tray of snacks, a bottle of port, a large-screen TV and an evening of Lord of the Rings – well, that or Transformers: The Movie (yes, seriously!).
Cosey: I always think of Sleazy when we watch these. He was totally overwhelmed by them to the point of tears, and proclaimed that in his view all children should see these films so they had an understanding of humanity as an alternative to organised religion and consumer culture.