The problem isn’t coming up with ideas, it is how to contain the invasion. My ideas are like uninvited guests. They don’t knock on the door; they climb in through the windows like burglars who show up in the middle of the night and make a racket in the kitchen as they raid the fridge. I don’t sit and ponder which one I should deal with first. The one to be wrestled to the floor before all others is the one coming at me with the most vehemence.
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Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill, Long Island - Herzog & de Meuron

The museum board’s decision was clear, the new Parrish Museum was not to take the form of an extension of the existing building of 1897, but was to be designed as a new complex on a new and undeveloped site. This seemed to make the task all the more interesting for us, because it meant we could operate freely without having to take any existing structures into account. On the other hand, it is often the case that having to respect an existing structure actually sets the starting point for an architectural design. In this regard, the freedom of building from scratch is often a real challenge, rather than a constraint, for architects. Horror vacui – what is to be done with so much freedom? Now, although the undeveloped site on the outskirts of Southampton does offer just that kind of freedom, the more intensely we studied the history and collection of the Parrish Museum, the more strongly we tended towards the idea of a small-scale pavilion complex. Other architectural typologies soon began to look less promising. 

Photographs by Matthu Placek via Archdaily

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Fangoria’s #334 (July 2014) had more to offer vampire enthusiasts than just its excellent interview with filmmaker Werner Herzog about his 1979 remake of F.W. Murnau’s classic Nosferatu (scroll back a few posts for that one). Editor Chris Alexander also penned a full page update on yet another vampire film remake, Spanish director Victor Matellano’s soon-to-release version of countryman Jose Ramon Larraz’ cult-classic Vampyres from 1974.

Several years after its release, I had the pleasure to see that film on a big screen in, of all places, a huge old downtown movie palace, by then on its very last legs and running a truly bizarre bunch of films before it finally closed its doors.

I won’t say that Larraz’ Vampyres is a great piece of cinema. I’ll leave filmmaking analysis to the film studies students and qualified critics. But, speaking as an ardent fan of vampire films, I’ll definitely say that Vampyres is a truly memorable film, even if it accomplished this as much by happy accident as by its artistic merit. It lured me into its web (as it was intended to) and then genuinely shocked me (also as it was intended to), and re-watching it on the small screen a number of times since hasn’t changed that one bit. (I’ll repost an old Tumblr post abut Larraz’ original film that’s still lurking on my regular blog at kylemarffin.com shortly…just give me a chance to locate it).

As for the remake…well, I really don’t understand remakes at all. In this case, are sexy naked omni-sexual vampires really so unique a concept that a filmmaker couldn’t just come up with his own scenario, slap together a script and start shooting?

Director Matellano explains that Larraz’ original is a “cult-movie masterpiece, and the reason it has resonated so greatly is that, for its time, it was incredibly transgressive. Vampyres set aside the traditional canons of the vampire genre, providing more realism and explicit sex…”  Fair enough. But still…why a remake? Matellano provides no explanation. He did co-write the screenplay with the original’s maker, Jose Larraz (who passed away in September 2013), and in it, they tried to provide some character motivation and coherence that the original lacked (the original’s screenplay was cobbled together in 6 days, which may actually be a leisurely pace for Euro-sleaze sexploitation films).

The remake apparently tries to out-do the original in some aspects. Matellano notes, “The big contributions of the first Vampyres were the sex and the blood. This version preserves the sex, the blood and the perversion, but we tried to go beyond.  This one is more violent, gorier and very sexual…watching footage in the editing room, I wondered if we had gone too far.”

Do get your hands on a copy of Fangoria #334 (July 2014) and read the full article for yourself.

For me, Larraz’ Vampyres was memorable for its blend of dreamy yet explicit eroticism set amidst beautifully shot Gothic settings, all of which would be violently and shockingly interrupted by some incredible acts of vicious vampirism. Seeing it the first time, and raised on revered but comparatively tepid Universal, Hammer and sundry other vampire films, I was genuinely shocked, and I’m not easily shocked. But it’s not 1974 anymore. Nearly forty years of horror cinema have rubbed our noses in virtually every conceivable bit of gratuitous violence and gore, aided and abetted by continually refined digital EFX that enable filmmakers to show things that were impractical, if not even inconceivable, forty years ago. As for ‘sex and perversion’? I don’t know if mainstream cinema actually has advanced much further in that realm, but a lazy scroll through On-Demand and DVD horror films can provide anyone with an overabundance of redundant boobs-n-blood non-theatrical release vampire films that are little more than soft (or hard) core sexploitation flicks with mail-order fangs, blood-smeared breasts, and boy-girl, girl-girl, girl-boy and boy-boy blood-drenched oral sex, whether its relying on victims’ menstrual blood for the vampires’ sustenance, or using the gents’ privates like a handy pop bottle straw. Frankly, I’ve pretty much given up on even trying them any more, unless I’ve read something encouraging online or in the horror press to recommend a new low-budget vampire flick.

The original’s stars, Marianne Morris and Anulka Dziubinska don’t even get cameos, though for some reason, 70’s horror icon Caroline Munro has a part, though I can’t imagine what it would be from my recollection of the original film’s cast of characters. 

Somehow, I won’t be surprised if Matellano’s Vampyres remake doesn’t make it to my local mall’s multiplex. But it’ll surely pop up in a RedBox or the cable companies’ on-demand services at some point. All right, I’ll be a dope and plunk down my coin to give it a fair viewing. But for some reason, I’m not expecting the same experience as the 1970’s original shocker provided…’transgressive’, indeed.

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Chushingura (1997)

Directed by Werner Herzog, Sets and Costume design by Eiko Ishioka

Above: Kimonos designed by Eiko for the prostitute characters. As the costume and set designer, Eiko brought her minimalist aesthetic to the lush opera. Her visual tableau was inspired by Japanese ukiyo-e art, the most illustrative cultural source for the Edo era; at the same time abstract touches rendered her design utterly modern. Visually and essentially the opera Chushingura brought a new dimension to this three-hundred-year-old story. - Eiko on Stage

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Gaming With My Mom

A few days ago we asked you guys for vids of you playing video games with your moms. Then we put them all together in this hilarious supercut. You guys are stars! Especially your moms!

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