1 Blackie Is...
2 The Sore Losers
3 Modern Day Freak
4 Invader Ace
5 Hoodlum, A.D.
8 Alien Brains
9 Mike Was Always...
10 Funky Kuntry Capers
11 Gotta Let Your Spirit Ride
13 No Teasin' Round
14 Bump & Grind
15 Vice Party
16 Kerine Loved To Bang...
17 Solar Prime
18 Rock N' Roll Band
19 Spi-Fi (Subsonic)
20 Smack Dab (In the Middle)
21 Shovel Fight
22 Wild Sound
23 African Cowboy
24 Bad Man
25 D'lana Is... Was...
26 Go Go Goliatha
27 Suicide Wipers
28 Time of Day
29 (I'm a) Sore Loser
CEASE AND DESIST RETRO FILMS!
Recently, through this review posted by "Movie Collector" on YouTube, I learned that a company called RETRO FILMS in Germany had released an illegal bootleg version of THE SORE LOSERS. Not only did this company make no attempt to reach out to me, but they also go as far to claim the copyright on my film THE SORE LOSERS which they do not own. This edition also includes my Sony videos for Guitar Wolf which RetroFilm does not own. This is public notice to RETROFILMS to Cease and Desist from the illegal duplication and distribution of THE SORE LOSERS.
If anyone knows how to get dvd copies of this rare and intriguing edition (as well as other rumored European Sore Losers bootlegs) please contact email@example.com
"Night Crawler" by Silke Tudor
The warmth of a Tuesday night in spring and the promise of never-before-seen "sexploitation" has brought all the would-be hooligans out of hiding. A group of six or seven gathers outside the Transmission Theatre, checking out the broads and flicking Lucky Strikes into the gutter. Their motorcycle jackets and uniform 2 inch cuffs are straight out of The Wanderers. Unfortunately, 11th Street is not. Between smokes and off-color barbs, the gents decide to ogle a little blonde sporting a French twist. When Miss French Twist turns out to be a short man with a five o'clock shadow, the lads take it in stride. "That's the way it goes," says one, leaning coolly against the bricks and running a 4 inch comb through his greasy do. "The selection is probably better inside."
The greaser is not mistaken. Tonight's "Vice Party" - presented by August Ragone - and Memphis' Big Broad Guerrilla Monster - promises music, movies, and mayhem for the crowd, but more important, it promises an opportunity for the ladies. Neo-sexploitation director John Michael McCarthy is looking for girls - future starlets who won't mind baring a little flesh for the sake of Super 8 - and by the looks of the turnout, McCarthy will have more than a few busty vixens from whom to choose.
"Oh, I don't know what I'm going to say to him just yet," says 25-year old Nicole Stroop as she adjusts her bright red, vinyl pedal pushers, "It just sounded interesting." Stroope, known in burlesque circles as Miss Cherry Jubilee, is one of the prettier girls in attendance - what with her well-coiffed Bettie Page and her perfectly manicured eyebrows - but still, there is some very stiff competition.
"There is no denying the talent behind The Sore Losers. Neither is there denying McCarthy's queer grace, his campy savor-faire."
"I'm a dancer," says Lola Sweet, a recent L.A. transplant who has had more than one, "but I've done a little porn. Just a little." Miss Sweet laughs "sweetly" and saunters past one of the three large movie screens depicting naked women almost masturbating. In the background, Ragone spins some classic swing.
"It's vintage porn," says a handsome 28-year-old over his cocktail. "That makes it's art."
McCarthy, looking like a younger, straighter, blonder John Waters, takes the stage, and, cigarillo waving, announces his need for big broads. "Of course there won't be anything in it for you, but..." The crowd, which now fills all of hte theater seats as well as most of the bar area, laughs appreciatively and the projector rolls.
The first presentation is a McCarthy short, Jack the Dipper *, which centers around a construction worker, who, feeling challenged by his foreman, fornicates with heavy machinery. The second presentation is the feature-length The Sore Losers, which features a wholesome-looking killer from another dimension and his sociopath dominatrix cohort, who have an unfortunate run-in wtih Guitar Wolf (the Japanese noise rock band cleverly disguised as "The Men in Black" from outer space). Like Faster Pussycat, Kill, Kill, Sore Losers lends itself well to a night-club atmosphere complete with hard booze and burning cigarettes. At times the script is tedious, barely driving the action, but for the most part it is very funny, and much to the chagrin of future directors in the audience, the movie already smacks of "cult classic" status.
As the chairs are cleared from the dance floor in preparation for the first band, McCarthy makes one final bid for auditions. "Just so you know that I'm not a creep or something," he says turning toward a female supporter, "I've been happily married for eight years now. I just want to see you naked and film you on Super 8. That's all."
His call for babes seems a waste of breath, for no sooner has McCarthy stepped from the stage than his table is swarmed with beauties in a variety of suggestive attire. McCarthy takes care of business quickly, passing out release forms and giving an address where the photo shoot will be held on the following day. "The photographer will be a woman," he assures. Then McCarthy turns on the charm, smiling at each girl, talking to them individually, drawing them out as any good direction would.
"You don't have to dress like a man to have control. If you take your clothes off, men lose control."
While the spiel is not unique, it is nearly impossible to find fault in McCarthy's approach. There is no denying the talent behind The Sore Losers. Neither is there denying McCarthy's queer grace, his campy savor-faire. In fact. when he tells me in confidence that he wishes his wife were here, I am more than ready to believe him. Bullshit detector be damned.
(* Silke's apt descriptions contain only one error, I did not make the Super 8 short "Jack the Dipper". We owe that cultural oddity to none other than Frugal Film's Emmy Collins. I produced played Jack Chick. Emmy followed it up with the infamous "Headshot" in 1998 and "The Egoist" a few years later.)
ON THE TRAIL OF THE ARCHETUPE
The Sore Losers is about Elvis numerology. It's about killing hippies. It's about a Southern Satan. It's about the decline of of Western civilization. It's about the end of the world.
This is what local filmmaker Mike McCarthy tells me as we mill around the aisles of the Megamarket at Poplar and Avalon, near the "bad meat" section where they put the ground beef that has hung around too long and mark it "reduced for immediate sale." This is where he wanted to meet.
"This is a heavy magnetic spot right here. There are several heavy magnetic spots in Midtown and this one of them right here," he says, before wondering out loud if "bad meat" is a hippie term. When I suggest that the people at MegaMarket probably don't call it that, he just smirks. "They don't call it Deathweek either," he says.
McCarthy, of course, is a character, as anyone who's seen his previous two movies, "Damselvis, Daughter of Helvis" and "Teenage Tupelo", can attest. And he's probably putting me on to boot. "I'm just fucking with you," he says early on in the interview. "And fucking with Memphis in general. Memphis has fucked with me for 12 years, so I'm going to fuck with Memphis."
It's less about plot than about style - a certain campy style inspired by garage rock, underground comic books, and exploitation movies of the '50's and '60's.
Actually, he does more than that. The Sore Losers ends with the annihilation of the Bluff CIty in an apocalyptic flash of light. I know it's lame to give away the ending, but this isn't that kind of movie. It's less about plot than about style - a certain campy style inspired by garage rock, underground comic books, and exploitation movies of the '50's and '60's. "Rock-and-roll, sex and violence, UFO's, you know," explains McCarthy.
The basic idea is that Blackie, played by Jack Oblivian of the local band The Oblivians, is a juvenile delinquent from space who first visited the Earth in 1954 to kill beatniks, the first manifestation of post-war youth rebellion. he returns in 1996-because he didn't bag his limit the first time around-and finds things have changed. He falls in with Mike, played by Mike Maker of the garage-rock band The Makers, and Kerine, played by West Coast performance artist/chanteuse Kerine Elkins and possibly the first performer McCarthy has come across with a persona outrageous enough to fit his over-the-top aesthetic. The three kill some hippies and other people in an attempt to satisfy "The Elders", all the while fleeing the "Men In Black," portrayed Tokyo trash-rockers Guitar Wolf. Along the way there's plenty of gore, cars, bare breasts, and rock-and-roll.
McCarthy says the movie is "10 times technically better" than his previous effort - Teenage Tupelo - and he's right. Shot all in 16mm color, it even includes some pretty impressive morphing effects that make it his best -looking movie yet.
"Conceptually, he explains, everything that happens in the movie is dictated by the Elvis archetype, or what he now calls the "archetupe" in order to emphasize it's connection to Tupelo, Mississippi, where he, like Elvis, grew up. "The movie is about Elvis numerology and the way that everything is built upon 3, 5l and 8 - and 42, since Elvis lived 42 years," he explains. "Blackie leaves the Earth the night before Elvis is first heard on Dewey Phillips 'Red Hot, and Blue, and he comes back 42 years later. So all the things have happened within the sphere of time that Blackie is unaware of has been the decline of Western civilization. The irony is that hippies are responsible for the decline of Western civilization."
In the last few months, McCarthy has taken the archetupe on the road, touring the country to hawk the movie through a series of "Vice Parties." so far he's shown it in 15 cities to wath he says has been a positive response - a response that included interest from distributors, including Orion. All told, the movie cost $75,000 to make, and he hopes to land distribution deals for that amount so he can pay off various investors and get on with making movies. Among his ideas for future projects are Cadavera, a movie about a woman made out of the parts of dead movie stars; and IggyZIggy, a concept based on 2,001: A Space Odyssey in which proto-punk Iggy Pop is portrayed as primitive man and David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust persona comes back from Mars to see Iggy and find out what rock-and-roll is really all about.
In the meantime, he'll unveil The Sore Losers in Memphis this week with three show at a downtown studio space called Parallax, and give at the High Point Pinch. "I'm having eight, because eight is Elvis's favorite number," he says. "Three and five are eight because Elvis was born in '35."
Again, I figure he's putting me on.
Outside the store, however, as the interview draws to a close, his tone turns earnest for what seems the first time. "Everything I'm telling you, he says, "I'm very sincere about it."
Having seen the movie, I believe him.
The Devil's Music
"The Devil is what this movie is all about," says Mike McCarthy, running through one of his many interpretations of his latest movie. "Garage rock, Jeff Evans, Guitar Wolf, '68 Comeback, The Makers, The Oblivians, It's all about the Devil."
Although all of his movies to date have included soundtracks of local and national underground bands, none of them have been as thoroughly wrapped up with rock-and-roll as The Sore Losers. Two of it's main characters, Jack Oblivian and Mike Maker, are rockers, and the Japanese band Guitar Wolf put in a cameo as the movie's antagonists. And that's not all. The New Orleans based Royal Pendletons appear as a lounge band and the Jack Taylor Experience, featuring former member of '68 Comeback, star as the entertainment at a doomed hippie shindig.
"...a veritable Who's Who of trash-rock...a must-have..."
The soundtrack, which is on the California-based Sympathy For The Record Industry label, features 26 songs that are the perfect compliment to McCarthy's "lo-fi sci-fi" movie, and a veritable Who's Who of trash-rock. From locals like '68 Comeback, The Oblivians, Poli Sci Clone, and Cris Clarity (Shelby Bryant of the Clears) to national acts including The Drags, The Makers, and Gasoline, it's a must-have for fans of the genre.
Particularly nice are the two theme songs: the Velvet Underground-inspired "The Sore Losers" by the Jack Taylor Experience, and the Royal Pendletons organ-driven whirligig "(I'm a) Sore Loser." And on the off chance that you've ever dreamed of having a music-box that plays The Oblivians, check out Greg Oblivian's minimalistic and downright pretty reprise of "Bad Man"off their album "Popular Favorites."
THE SORE LOSERS
10 p.m. Thursday May 15th - Saturday through Saturday, May 17th
9 p.m. Sunday, May 18th through Thursday, may 22nd
Monday, May 19th: Lucy Nell Crater and Birdie Martin
30 SECOND FELCH #1
"In every instance, good shall triumph over evil and the criminal punished for his misdeeds..."
Comics Code Authority of America, 1954
"Blackie" (Jack Oblivian) plays an alien "immortal" from the killer frequency. In 1954 He was sent to the American South to randomly kill 12 people. He ends up only killing 9 and is sent back to "the invisible wavelength" a loser. 42 years later he escapes and returns to Earth to kill the remaining 3 victims (and only 3!). If he succeeds he will be sent back and be faced with a hero's death. During his journey he joins up with a motley crew of criminal types (one an old friend "Mike (Mike Maker) also now an immortal) and finds himself in more trouble than he bargained for when one person more than needed is murdered.
From there the story goes on to become a quite complicated, convoluted tale but, nonetheless, highly entertaining. The flick definitely delivers the exploitation goods: decent amounts of violence and the usual T&A we expect from a JMM film. Visually the film is a feast of bizarrely violent and sexy imagery. We're treated to electric chair catfights, rotting corpses, Guitar Wolf abducting D'Lana (Tunnell), hippie murder, tits, and EC comic nailed to a hot chicks face, global apocalypse, etc etc.
The special video FX are quite creative, especially the transformation in the opening scene of "Blackie's" spacecraft into a four-wheeled hot rod. Also impressive is the gravesite scene with the transparent crosses. There are many other interesting special FX. The editing is also solid, as are the camera angles. The integration of the music and the sound effects are also pretty good. Unfortunately there are moments where the dialogue had to e dubbed in and these moments weaken what is, for the most part, a highly satisfying low-budget flick.
I should also mention the dialogue which is creative though-out (particularly during the character narration segments). The constant references to the U.S. governments banning of William Gaines' EC Comics horror titles (Tales from the Crypt, Vault of Horror, Haunt of Fear, etc.) is quite interesting, as is the importance which these comics play to the lead characters. It's almost as if JMM is adapting the governments theory of what these comics could do to the youth of America (turn them onto mindless and random violence) and applying that to his lead characters "Blackie" and "Mike". This is how I chose to read the element of the film, regardless of how ridiculous it may seem and far removed it probably was from JMM's vision and/or intent.
The main cast is quite good with Jack and D'Lana (as "D'Lana / "Goliatha") shining brightest. D'Lana brings an element of subtlety to her performance which really makes it work. She can handle deadpan humor rather well and is, of course, quite photogenic. The lady has star appeal in spades. Jack travels through the films with a creeping sense of doom & desperation very evident in his performance. Kerine (Elkins) is suitably over the top throughout the film, delivering plenty of energy in a somewhat one-dimensional character. Mike is fine but isn't given a lot of opportunity to stand out amidst the other lead roles, and is therefore eclipsed by the others.
Of the 'smaller part' performers Guitar Wolf (as the aliens / "Men In Black") are wicked fun (and visually steal the show). Sexploitation film pioneer / producer / icon David F. Friedman plays "the Elder" (essentially playing himself as a cigar-chomping, wise old patriarch) and is good. Hugh Brooks and Ghetty Chasun also put in solid performances (Hugh was great in "Teenage Tupelo" as rockabilly star "Johnny Tu-Note").
Torontonians should hit Suspect Video and check the film out for themselves. Call 'em up, tell 'em ya want it, and tell 'em Glenn sent ya. Suspect Video (416) 588-6674 & (416) 50-7135.
I feel compelled to begin my review by clarifying that I am better than you. I am smarter. I am better versed in all cultures, philosophies, religions, and mass-mediums. While you are certainly entitled to your own opinions, chances are they're wrong. I would hazard to guess that there are less than a hundred people in the world that will appropriately understand and appreciate Sore Losers. Statistically, it is unlikely that you'll be among them. Statistically, you're probably an inferior film-goer. But hey, you've got a one in sixty-five million chance of being as spectacularly flawless in taste as yours truly.
Luckily, you don't have a worthy forum for your opinions. Your diseased taste can only affect the pimps and pigs near and dear to you, creatures beyond help as it is. But I, on the other hand, sing songs that make the Furies weep. As Orpheus, my words are pure and true. And truly, Sore Losers is the single most important film of the past ten years. It has single-handedly renewed my faith in the waning format. For eighty-nine minutes, I was engaged in an epiphanic indiscretion with cinematic genius, sexy and unrestrained. This holy visage is something akin to the maximalist contempt of Gregg Araki, but with the playful filthiness of a John Waters exploit. Surely this film is a treasure misplaced by angels.
It goes like this: A men-only alien race, the invisible Lo-Fi Frequency, send assassins to earth under the guise of preserving western culture. The missions are of the highest social importance, and failure on the part of an assassin would leave him labeled a loser, or worse, exiled to earth forevermore. Lo-Fi elder David Friedman (yes, motherfucking sexploitation legend David fucking Friedman!) dispatches Blackie to Memphis, Tennessee in 1955 to kill twelve beatniks. Trouble is his time is short, and the coffeehouse subculture isn't exactly thriving in the area. He only manages to kill nine and returns in disgrace.
Forty-two years later, he is sent back to earth to finish the job. He tracks down his blood brother, Mike Maker, and the two promptly kill a nurse and a convenient shop owner. Fate joins them with Kerine, a voluptuous, leather clad hermaphrodite with a propensity toward murder. Blackie grants him/her immortality, and he/she offers to kill his/her mother, thus completing the assignment. But in the heat of passion, Kerine kills both her mother and father, thus bringing the death count to thirteen. Blackie is once more a loser.
The elders give Blackie one more chance to redeem himself. He is ordered to sacrifice Goliatha, a motorcycle-riding strongwoman, thus raising Kerine's mother (the thirteenth victim) back from the dead, effectively resetting the count to twelve. Simple enough. Or it would be without the meddling of a team of an intergalactic FBI agents and mysterious Men in Black (played by the beloved members of Japanese punk band Guitar Wolf!!!). Also in the mix is a topless angel and a boa-constrictor whom dispense beers of knowledge, another Lo-Fi loser, and enough 1950s comics and Johnson Smith catalog goodies to give collectors a four-hour erection.
You see, I told you you wouldn't fucking get it. Why don't you go revisit Jaws or Princess Bride and leave the intelligent viewing to me, huh?
What makes this film so incredible isn't the acting, or the sound work, or the editing, or the DVD cover art, or even the soundtrack, though the soundtrack is quite impressive. No, this film is amazing simply because it exists at all. To say I am overly skeptical of the future of film would be an understatement. The trends are depressing, to say the least. Studio productions are created solely by marketing surveys, marginalized for maximum appeal until they are stripped of anything distinctive or creative. Independent filmmakers, meanwhile, are drowning in a world where affordable DV equipment and YouTube promotion means every five-year-old with a lawnmower can manufacture a biography on his fucking cat. There simply isn't room for inventiveness, nor has there been for thirty years. Finding this experimental and gritty gem was like discovering a living fossil. But as amazing as the carnivorous amphibian Koolasuchus is, it doesn't even begin to approach the value of Sore Losers.
Obviously, my pretentious diatribe is mostly in jest, though I really am better than you. But it is true, most people will not like this film. But I loved it, so I wholeheartedly encourage you to seek it out, which could be tricky. The Guerrilla Monster homepage is as good a place as any to start.
The Moral of the Story: When space alien elders tell you to kill hippies, you should stop to ponder their motives.