Friday, August 05, 2005

EL GRITO DEL MUTILADO Roberta Findlay Refuses To Explain It All For You



For the less continental, that'd be Shriek of the Mutilated...

If you think the infamous film actor/producer/writer/editor/cinematographer/director Roberta Findlay would be impressed that you knew anything at all about her work, let alone that you knew she was the cinematographer on the nearly forgotten semi-shocker Shriek of the Mutilated (1974), or the credited co-director (with her late husband Michael) of the infamous exploitation movie Snuff, or that she’s made films using over 15 different aliases in her career, including Anna Rivas, Linda Michaels, and, yes, Bob Davis, be assured she would be unimpressed. In fact, she’d probably think you were a demented stalker, or perhaps just plain ol’ demented.
And you might think, look who’s talking. This detachment from artistic rationalization about her work, and her outright refusal to romanticize anything, is one of the things that New York Press writer J.R. Taylor discovered when he tracked her down for a little bitter nostalgia over the grimy old days of Times Square and the scratch-and-claw realities of grindhouse filmmaking in the ‘70s. To appropriate the famous country-and-western tune, Roberta Findlay was exploitation when exploitation wasn’t cool, and she harbors damn few illusions about the lasting value of what she continues to do. Take a look at Taylor's fascinating article for a visit with a filmmaker whose oeuvre may be, to some eyes, worthless, but who, if nothing else, would cock her head back and laugh a dismissive, throaty, nicotine-ravaged laugh if she ever heard anyone referring to her oeuvre, or if she was ever offered the kind of cushy Hollywood deal that seems to be the goal of most Sundance-oriented independent filmmakers in the post-Tarantino age.

And here, for those who don't mind reveling in some schlock movie memories, is the ad I remember seeing for this mind-numbing shocker in the Portland Oregonian around 30 years ago...


Blaaagh, don't you have a story about this unheralded classic? If so, would you mind sharing it?

(My apologies for being a bit late in pointing the way toward this article, which ran in the Press almost two weeks ago. Now, with this duty done, if I could just get to those Netflix rentals that mock me every time I walk into the living room, or the 12 or 13 books I’m a chapter or two into, or that back porch shelving project I can’t seem to get started, or…)

10 comments:

blaaagh said...

Unfortunately, my anecdote kind of requires audio to be appreciated: The year was 1976. I was in line with two of my high school semi-braniac/nerd friends at the Bagdad Backstage Theater, which was a crummy little rat-hole of a theater which the venerable old Bagdad Theater in Portland had made out of part of the actual backstage area; it was like a miniscule screening room with a pitfully small screen (and, I later learned when I worked there, projection equipment so old you'd expect to see it on display in a museum), worn loveseats and broken-down chairs for the audience, and a weary, knowing attitude among all the staff. They generally showed offbeat or second-run (or offbeat second-run) films, often in weary, worn and faded prints--but we were waiting to see Roman Polanski's new film, "The Tenant," along with co-feature Roeg's "Don't Look Now." Anyway, we were all smirking at the pretentious film chat going on among those in line with us, something like what you hear in that scene in "Annie Hall," only much more dour and ironic (we were semi-braniac nerd kids, maybe, but we weren't too big on irony or world-weariness). There was one tall, skinny, threadbare-corduroy-wearing college guy in line behind us who was holding forth in a monotonous nasal tone about what was and wasn't valuable in films today, and though we weren't listening very closely (for all I know, he was making some valid points; I was after all only 17) out of the muddle of his monologue came a title, sonorously and nasally pronounced, as a seminal something-something important blah blah genre piece or some such: "Shriek of the Mutilated." Suffice to say it was funny at the time.

Anyway, "The Tenant" freaked me out really badly, and for some reason I'll never remember or understand, we left halfway through "Don't Look Now," and I've never seen either of them since--nor have I seen "Shriek of the Mutilated."

Mojavi said...

hey I have a question for you...
If I describe a movie I saw when I was youner and I am dying to watch it again do you think you would be able to figure out the naem of it?? just wondering...

Dennis Cozzalio said...

Oh, sure! I'd love to give it a shot! Bring it on!

Loxjet said...

Sorry, I stopped reading after "mind-numbing shocker." Den-Den, my Netflix cue is dwindling! He'p me! He'p me!

Dennis Cozzalio said...

You stopped reading after "mind-numbing shocker"? Well, then you missed the best part, all about my back porch shelving project, and the hidden link to the story about how I accidentally learned to split the atom over the weekend while changing the batteries in Emma's Disney Princess karaoke machine. As any good Dodger fan knows, it never pays to leave early... (although these days I hear they're handing out 20s at the turnstiles to get "fans" to stay, so that old cliche may just have to be retired.)
Netflix and I have been in low gear this month too, but I have caught up with a couple that I've wanted to see ever since I was a pup: La Grande Bouffe and Costa-Gavras' Z. Turns out it was a good thing I missed 'em as a kid. They're both good movies that I would have been totally grossed out and/or bored by (La Grande Bouffe)or been inadequately prepared for on a sociopolitical/historical basis (Z) if I'd seen them in junior high/high school, when they came out. Also caught up with Robert Altman's Kansas City, which I was underwhelmed by. It has a wonderful, rich atmosphere and a terrific bunch of musicians playing great jazz throughout, and a listless story that is played out in two very strange performances by Miranda Richardson and Jennifer Jason Leigh. Right now we have Bresson's Au Hasard Balthazar, Almodovar's Bad Education and John Waters' A Dirty Shame, but I'm heading to Oregon for the weekend, so it might be a while before I'm able to spin any of those platters. I'll try to be a better Netflix friend and send you some other reccomendations on the site itself. How's the Big Sky?

Mojavi said...

awesome- ok now the warning is this is from my memory as a child....
ok it was a mid-evil movie, about kings and queens. In the start of the movie a young girl and a young boy eat from some root, that is suppose to bind them together for life, then some guy comes along and takes the girls castle hostage and apparently takes advantage of the young girl/princess and she apparently falls in love with him or something, but the guy who ate the root with her swears revenge etc.... in one scene the girl and the guy who took the castle hostage are in a tub together and I think the young girl looses her virginity or something.... that is all I remember... like I said good luck *wink*
I really hope you can figure out the movie. I have tried to forever because I remember watching it and it has driven me crazy over the years not knowing what movie it was. Sucks remembering a movie when you have no idea what that movie was!

Dennis Cozzalio said...

Okay, Mojavi, I think I have it. The movie you're referring to is on my Netflix queue, and I'm only slightly embarrassed to say I've not yet seen it myself-- Paul Verhoeven's Flesh + Blood (1985), a real bodice (and intestinal tract) ripper starring Rutger Hauer and Jennifer Jason Leigh. Here are links to a New York Times capsule review and a more detailed plot synopsis on DVD Savant that may prove helpful. I'm not 100% sure that I've got this right-- having not seen the movie myself, and not being able to find any references to root ingestion of any kind in either article-- but I'd be willing to put, say, a fiver down that this is the movie you're looking for. If it is, I'll bump it up on my Netflix queue and give you a holler when I finally get to it. I like this game! Got any other ones? Anybody?

Mojavi said...

OMG you are seriously amazing! How did you do that? That is it, do you think I can buy it at a local store or do I have to order it???? you are my hero, I am stunned and awe stuck!

Dennis Cozzalio said...

Well, hey, that's a 1.000 batting average so far! I rented it long ago and far away-- on Beta, no less-- but my Betamax was on its last legs at the time and was unable to run through much more than about five minutes before the audio became just too muffled and inaudible to bear. Flesh + Blood actually has a pretty good reputation among cinephiles with a taste for excess (though I'm not sure I'm looking forward to all the rapes the movie allegedly has in store) and gets written up occasionally in film magazines with good reputations of their own. You can get it here or probably just about anyplace else (Best Buy, but probably not Wal-Mart-- it's a little fleshy, but probably not too bloody, for that particular customer base), and at a damn reasonable price too. OKay, I'm bumping this movie up to the number-one slot on my Netflix queue. My wife has seen it, for cryin' out loud, but I haven't? That just ain't right... Glad I could ease that brain itch for you, Mojavi!

Mojavi said...

I am on the hunt for it :) I want to watch it tonight..... I called target and they have it on line but not in the stores I am going to call all the places that sell dvd's till I find it tonight :) your the best