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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

DVD Review: “I Drink Your Blood” (1970)

An exploitation horror classic gets the deluxe treatment.

Posted By on Tue, Jan 31, 2017 at 1:30 PM

"I Drink Your Blood" was the first film to be rated X on sheer violence alone when it was released in the early 1970s. Now, it's almost entirely comical.
  • "I Drink Your Blood" was the first film to be rated X on sheer violence alone when it was released in the early 1970s. Now, it's almost entirely comical.

Ready to suffer “the tortures of the damned”? I know I am.

Regarding crap cinema, there’s a fine line between predictable grindhouse schlock and totally trashy fun of the “I-can’t-stop-laughing, no-seriously-I-can’t-breathe” variety such as “I Drink Your Blood” (1970), recently reissued on Blu-ray and DVD.

If you’re a connoisseur of exploitation classics, “Blood” has all the essential ingredients of a B-movie horror film worth your time: laugh-out-loud acting, incredibly ill-conceived dialogue, sloppy, low-budget special effects, a tweaked-out synth soundtrack and even a massive rat barbecue. There’s also a diverse cast and a touch of social commentary, but nothing resembling a moral lesson except, maybe, “death by hydrophobia is agony.”

But when it comes to deranged, murderous hippies run amok, this movie is a few sheets of loony bird acid above the rest -- not to mention a clear forerunner to shock fare like David Cronenberg’s “Rabid” (1976). Helmed and written by stage actor David E. Durston, "I Drink Your Blood" was originally titled “Phobia” and featured in a double bill with “Eat Your Skin” (formerly “Voodoo Bloodbath”).

“Satan was an acid head,” a hippie cult leader (Bhaskar Roy Chowdhury) says in the nude black mass opening scene. It's immediately clear that the film's tone was inspired by the paranoia surrounding the Manson family trial, which the director confirms in the extra features he was watching while writing this delightfully whacked-out script.

A quick synopsis: A smart-assed kid (Riley Mills), pissed that a roving band of satanic hippies have beaten his sister and dosed his grandfather, shoots a rabid dog in the woods and uses a syringe to draw infected blood from the corpse and spike his mother’s meat pies -- to be devoured the next morning by the hungry, hungry hippies.

Already psychos, they become full-fledged frothing zombies, spewing shaving cream from their mouths and going ballistic before a showdown ensues with the town’s only other inhabitants, a crew of rapey construction workers with guns. In other words, a simple little portrait of small-town American life in the early ’70s.

But oh, the dialogue! This is a movie in which the handsome leading man, a dam construction foreman, delivers serious lines like, “Honey, rape is a little out of an engineer’s domain.” But that comes only after his leading lady quips, “You and your damn dam!”

blood3.jpg

When the movie came out, it was the first film to earn an X rating on sheer violence alone by the MPAA. But the syrupy, goopy bloodshed is so low budget and hilariously overdone that it’s unlikely to offend anyone today in the age of high-definition torture porn.

A warning to vegetarians and animal lovers, though: There is one ritualistic scene where a real chicken is killed by “the sons and daughters of Satan,” led by the Indian Chief from the Village People, a Chinese dragon lady who throws fierce shade, a pregnant Mama Cass-like hippie who commits harikari on a tree stump, and an athletic, overly theatrical black man who can usually be found chasing white people through the woods with an ax. Another scene featuring a barbecue of rats was made using dead lab rats, according to the extra features, so it’s not quite as offensive.

Speaking of extra features on the new reissue, the best one by far is the “I Drink Your Blood Show,” featuring cheerful director Durston, who died several years ago before he could complete a sequel. He interviews the former stars and they reminisce about how strange and unlikely a film they made back in their stoned youth.

During these talks, a hilarious, off-hand line is delivered by one of the film’s co-stars, Tyde Kierney, after the director notes that two of the live rats used in filming were later featured in the oddball rodent classics “Ben” (with Michael Jackson) and “Willard” (without Crispin Glover).

“Yeah,” the actor says, wistfully. “Those rats went on to become stars.”

Friday, January 27, 2017

Pick: Our House Farewell Show at the Camel on Jan. 28

Mitch Kordella talks about the future of do-it-yourself spaces in Richmond.

Posted By on Fri, Jan 27, 2017 at 11:20 AM

Local favorite, Toxic Moxie, which includes Our House inhabitant Mitch Kordella, far right, on bass and synths.
  • Local favorite, Toxic Moxie, which includes Our House inhabitant Mitch Kordella, far right, on bass and synths.

For many, 2016 was a year of loss. And this would end up being the case for fans of the beloved, independent house show venue and communal safe space known as Our House. The Jackson Ward house venue announced via social media that it would be bidding adieu after the costs of managing the rundown space began to mount.

We’re still feeling the void from this vital missing piece of the Richmond music scene; the list of artists that have played at Our House could go on and on. A few names that come to mind are No BS Brass, Lady God, Houdan the Mystic, Venus Guytrap, Lightfields, the Milkstains and even Lucy Dacus.

“We reached this apex where we couldn't progress the quality of the space,” says Our House inhabitant Mitch Kordella, also bassist and synth player for Toxic Moxie. “An unresponsive landlord was great for the beginning in that it allowed us the freedom to grow and expand and take chances. But we became constrained by the physical limits of the 150-year-old house and not having the authority or resources to make the necessary big improvements to the space.”

But the house known for throwing absurdly fun and ridiculous shows will be giving it one more hurrah this weekend – although in a more traditional concert venue.

With the help of local promotional company Jets Trail Media, the Camel is hosting a proper farewell to Our House this Saturday, Jan. 28. The line-up features a number of Our House alumni and residents of the creative haven. These including the dizzying, electronic pop of Toxic Moxie, the acid psych rock dreamscapes of Ashes, the thunderous, anthemic rock outfit Imaginary Sons and the slimy, funky space jams of HeadLessMantis.

With the interest of bettering the community at large, proceeds from the show will be donated to Rags and Bones Bicycle Co-Operative. The Scott’s Addition site offers a do-it-yourself community workshop for anyone in need of bicycle repairs who may lack sufficient funds. This will be sure to be a show that will go down in the books for how it represents the rich tapestry of bands that were birthed from the rundown, but glorious confines of Our House.

For Kordella, the future for local house shows is bright.

“We have a radical and inspired core group of us who are dedicated to promoting the [do-it-yourself] scene in Richmond and abroad. We are working on opening a new space, stay tuned, but in the meantime I hope to see more people out there take matters into their own hands and create the environment to facilitate music, art, creativity, progressive values, and community. Especially with the fucked up direction our government and society as a whole is heading, it's now more important than ever to build from the ground up and be the change you want to see. DIY will never die.”

The Camel hosts A Farewell to Our House featuring Toxic Moxie, Imaginary Sons, Headlessmantis and Ashes. A Benefit for Rags and Bones Bicycle Co-Op on Saturday, Jan. 28. Doors at 8. Show at 9. $7 Advanced Tickets/$10 Day of Show Tickets.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Scream Much Lately?

VMFA's Jasper Johns and Edvard Munch Exhibit Free For Next Three Sundays

Posted By on Thu, Jan 26, 2017 at 4:50 PM

Edvard Munch, "The Scream," 1895.
  • Edvard Munch, "The Scream," 1895.

The internationally acclaimed exhibit, "Jasper Johns and Edvard Munch: Love, Loss and the Cycle of Life" will be offered free of charge at the VMFA as part of "Scream Sundays" for the the next three Sundays, Jan. 29, Feb. 5 and Feb. 12.

Visitors must still have timed entry tickets, which can be picked up any time at the Vistor Services desk, or reserved online or by phone at 804.340.1405. The exhibition closes on Feb. 20.

Read our contributing editor Edwin Slipek's preview of it here.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Hard Working Americans and SteelDrivers Headline Dominion Riverrock 2017

Posted By on Tue, Jan 24, 2017 at 11:30 AM

Hard Working Americans featuring Dave Schools (far right).
  • Hard Working Americans featuring Dave Schools (far right).

Dominion Riverrock announced today the full list of music acts performing at its ninth festival on Brown's Island and Historic Tredegar this May 19 through 21. All concerts are free and open to the public.

On Friday, May 19, the bluegrass of the SteelDrivers takes the stage at 8:30 p.m. On Saturday, May 20, Hard Working Americans, featuring Richmond native Dave Schools (Widespread Panic), will be the headliner, taking the stage at 8:00 p.m.

Many local bands are also included, such as Camp Howard, Trongone Band, and Jouwala Collective.

Here's the full schedule: Friday, May 19

Front Country: 6:00 – 7:00 p.m.

Larry Keel Experience 7:15 – 8:15 p.m.

The SteelDrivers 8:30 – 9:45 p.m.

Saturday, May 20

The Bush League: 1:00 – 1:45 p.m.

Camp Howard: 2:15 – 3:00 p.m.

Jouwala Collective: 3:30 – 4:15 p.m.

Los Colognes: 4:45 – 5:45 p.m.

The London Souls: 6:15 – 7:30 p.m.

Hard Working Americans: 8:00 – 9:30 p.m.

Sunday, May 21

The Folly: 1:00 – 2:00 p.m.

The Trongone Band: 2:20 – 3:20 p.m.

Cris Jacobs Band: 3:40 – 5:00 p.m.

The Pixies Returning To The National In May

Posted By on Tue, Jan 24, 2017 at 10:10 AM

The Pixies with new member Paz Lenchantin to the far left.
  • The Pixies with new member Paz Lenchantin to the far left.

Indie rock legends the Pixies will be performing at the National on Tuesday, May 9 in support of their sixth album, "Head Carrier."

The pre-sale for the American tour begins today at 10 a.m. via the Pixies' website using the password MASHER. Tickets are $43 plus applicable charges.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Goochland Drive-In Planning Expansion In May

First phase in a larger expansion for Central Virginia, owner says.

Posted By on Mon, Jan 23, 2017 at 12:25 PM

The Goochland Drive-In Theater opened in 2009 and has plans to continue expanding over the next five years.
  • The Goochland Drive-In Theater opened in 2009 and has plans to continue expanding over the next five years.

Fans of that old-school movie going phenomenon known as the drive-in theater take notice: the Goochland Drive-In Theater announced that it is adding another screen, with a target opening in May.

John Heidel, owner of the theater, told Style that the new screen has been in the works for awhile, and that it's a small step in the first phase of a three to five-year expansion plan not just for Goochland but also the central Virginia area.

Here's an excerpt from the original post on Facebook:

Our official 2017 Season kicks off on March 17 and we're looking forward to seeing everyone again!

**THE BIG NEWS**

Coming in May is the addition of "THE GROVE" - a second movie screen complete with its own concession stand and restrooms! It's the first phase of expansion plans for the GDIT.

The Grove will enable us to show a separate double-feature on its screen while simultaneously showing a different double-feature on our other screen :) this means more movie options for you guys!

And...with its own Snack Bar and Restrooms, no worries on the lines getting overwhelmed ;))

Heidel also noted that the new screen will utilize as many "green" options as possible, including recycled and repurposed materials. It will be on the same plot of land they own, attached to the current facility, he says.

Drive-In owner, John Heidel
  • Drive-In owner, John Heidel

"We're excited. It will look different, a little bit smaller set-up, more of a picnic-type atmosphere. But the food will still be great and there will be a state-of-the-art digital projector," says Heidel. "It's going to allow us to offer more [film] choice for customers."

Heidel says customers have requested more romantic comedies and indie fare, but that those films didn't pull crowds as large as the blockbuster comic book movies, for example. "This will allow us to get our feet wet showing more [of the smaller, indie fare]."

May is the target opening month, but Heidel cautions that it may vary by a few weeks depending on how much rain we get this spring. The theater is celebrating its 8th year this August, making it one of the youngest drive-in theaters in the country -- and one of the relatively few left in operation.

If you'd like to read our piece by Don Harrison when the theater opened in 2009, click away.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Preview: Grouped Art Show in Forest View Heights

Open house this Sunday, Jan. 22, features local artists.

Posted By on Fri, Jan 20, 2017 at 11:45 AM

The Grouped Art Show is set in a home partly out of a desire to attract those who may not feel comfortable in traditional art gallery settings but could be seduced by the unique. - MICK ANDERS
  • Mick Anders
  • The Grouped Art Show is set in a home partly out of a desire to attract those who may not feel comfortable in traditional art gallery settings but could be seduced by the unique.

Pop-up art shows are nothing new, but hanging one in a recently renovated house about to hit the market may just be a Richmond first.

Curated by artist and freelance curator Mary Fleming, "Grouped: Art Show" opened Thursday night at a midcentury modern house in Forest View Heights, with DJ Marty Key spinning vintage R&B 45s on a vintage Latec double turntable and an astounding 86 pieces of local art on display.

Represented in the show are local artists of all stripes, including eight colorful pieces by well-known muralist Mickael Broth, Adam Juresko’s familiar yet more refined collages and James Callahan’s distinctive Barf comic stylings. Fleming was familiar with all the artists before inviting them to participate, but she also encouraged them to work outside their comfort zones, in some cases by creating larger work than they typically would.

Prints, photographs, sculpture, neon, drawings, ceramics, wall hangings, paintings and even bird feeders line the walls of the three-bedroom 1955 house painstakingly restored by owner Casey Smith. Thomas Burkett’s large-scale bird feeders, looking like vibrantly painted rectangles with small wire boxes to hold seed, have hollow backsides for refilling seed and can be hung outdoors, but look stylishly at home on interior walls, too.

“I wanted to keep the focus mixed and fill the walls as intensely and densely as possible,” Fleming says of trying to have fun and be playful about choosing the art for the house. “I love the installation part of curating, creating groups within groups on the walls.”

Part of her inspiration for setting up the show was a desire to attract people who may not feel comfortable in traditional art gallery settings but could be seduced by the unique.

Leigh Suggs’ “Blue Sculpture” is composed of five pieces of steel shaped into geometric forms and wrapped in hand-dyed blue wool, but its beauty is how the five pieces can be reconfigured to make shapes of varying heights.

“It was fun to work in this construct because it’s a different way to make people a little more understanding of art’s role in their lives,” she explains. “This show makes people realize that art can live in everyone’s house.”

Best of all, the art remains up through this weekend’s open house, allowing prospective homeowners and art lovers alike to stop by and see how a house staged with art comes alive. Every piece is available for sale and several sold at the opening, but they’ll remain on the walls through the open house while the rest are still up for grabs.

“I like to support local artists, plus I’m showing that art is everywhere and everything,” she says. “Hopefully this is a way people can see that.”

And if the art isn’t enough to capture a buyer’s interest, owner Smith isn’t worried about it. “If it doesn’t sell, I’ll be glad to move in here.”

“Grouped: Art Show” open house, 708 Byswick Lane, Jan. 22, 1-3 p.m.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Ryan Adams Performing Two Nights at National in March

Posted By on Thu, Jan 19, 2017 at 4:50 PM

ryanadamspaxampress.jpg

Finely disheveled rocker Ryan Adams is performing for two nights, on Sunday, March 5 and Monday, March 6, at the National. Tickets are $43 to $48 and go on sale Friday, Jan. 27. See the National's website for more.

Adams has a few connections to the area: Richmond keyboardist Daniel Clark has toured with his band and Adams has also performed in the past with acclaimed local musician, Natalie Prass. He's also twttted his love for local band, Sleepwalkers.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

VMFA Acquires Romare Bearden Painting

Will be on display on second floor from Feb. 1 to March 6.

Posted By on Wed, Jan 18, 2017 at 4:10 PM

"Three Folk Musicians," 1967, Romare Bearden (American, 1911-1988), collage of various papers with paint and graphite on canvas, 50 x 60 in. Art © Romare Bearden Foundation/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY
  • "Three Folk Musicians," 1967, Romare Bearden (American, 1911-1988), collage of various papers with paint and graphite on canvas, 50 x 60 in. Art © Romare Bearden Foundation/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

From the press release desk: VMFA has acquired one of the better known works by African-American artist Romare Bearden (1911-1988) for its mid-to-late 20th Century Galleries on the museum's second floor.

"Three Folk Musicians" (1967) will go on view for a limited time from Feb. 1 to March 6.

The acquisition was proposed by two VMFA curators, Sarah Eckhardt, associate curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, and Leo G. Mazow, Louise B. and J. Harwood Cochrane Curator of American Art.

According to a press release from the museum: “Three Folk Musicians is as culturally relevant as it is formally beguiling,” Mazow said. “It appeals to us for aesthetic reasons, as well as its connection to cultural and social issues.”

“It is impossible to tell the story of 20th century American art without a 1960s collage by Romare Bearden. Not only does Bearden engage and synthesize many key art historical strands and movements from the first half of the 20th century – such as Cubism, the Harlem Renaissance, and Abstract Expressionism – but countless artists working today cite his work as a major influence,” Eckhart said in the release. “This piece will function as a bridge drawing together several areas of the collection at VMFA.”

Here's more from the press release:

This large-scale collage – which depicts two guitar players and a banjo player – is frequently cited in art history books and has been featured in every Bearden retrospective, including the 2003 exhibition organized by the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. This work also graces the cover of Sharon F. Patton’s African American Art, which was published in 1998 as part of the Oxford History of Art series from Oxford University Press.

“This monumental collage painting is a landmark addition to our collection,” said Alex Nyerges, VMFA Director. “Three Folk Musicians bolsters our effort to represent a diverse range of cultures in our galleries and allows us to explore a full range of American stories with rich context and a broad eye.”

After working in mixed media in the 1940s, Bearden started experimenting with collage techniques in the late 1950s, but he did not begin making the brightly colored compositions depicting African American life, for which he has become best known, until 1963. That same year, he and a group of African American artists formed a collective known as Spiral to discuss their role in the civil rights movement. Their first meeting took place just one month before they attended the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom on August 28, 1963.

Incorporating hand-painted papers and photographs torn from magazines, Bearden’s collages of this period present complex images of African American life from multiple perspectives. As a result, they are often understood in the context of African American art and are placed in a lineage from Aaron Douglas and Augusta Savage from the Harlem Renaissance to contemporary artists like Wangechi Mutu and Mickalene Thomas. However, Bearden was also engaging with the assemblage and found imagery techniques that he shared with many artists of his generation, including Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns and Andy Warhol. The initial installation of Three Folk Musicians at VMFA will therefore take place in a gallery that features important works of pop art to place Bearden’s work within the larger context of American art in the 1960s.

Scholars have identified the setting of Three Folk Musicians as the artist’s native Mecklenburg County, N.C. According to Bearden, the work also pays homage to a scene he often witnessed in his grandmother’s boarding house that he visited in Pittsburgh: “After supper, the boarders would sit in front of the house and talk, or play checkers, or plunk out ‘down home music’ on their guitars.”

“Three Folk Musicians demonstrates how Bearden created visual correspondence for rhythm, syncopation, improvisation, and other musical sensibilities,” said Dr. Michael R. Taylor, Chief Curator and Deputy Director for Art and Education. “It thus honors the jazz and blues music that inspired African American artists – and modernists in general.” About the acquisition

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Ween Performing in Charlottesville on April 20

Posted By on Tue, Jan 17, 2017 at 11:00 AM

ween_4.jpg

Legendary stoner jam band Ween will be performing at the Sprint Pavilion in Charlottesville on April 20. Tickets are $45 and go on sale on Jan.20 at 10 a.m. at sprintpavilion.com.

The band recently reunited for three shows each in Broomfield, CO and New York, NY that sold out instantly and, according to a press release, were “fucking mind-blowing.”

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