In Which Italy’s Kirlian Camera Splashes The ‘Queen Of Blood’ With A Dark Wave

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Italian dark wave ensemble, Kirlian Camera, pays tribute to the 1966 sci-fi horror classic, Queen of Blood.

 

Song: ‘The Path Of Flowers’ – From the 2005 album release, Invisible Front).

Queen Of Blood was released in 1966 by American International Pictures. The film is considered one of ‘the best of the “Corman Cut-Ups” – the spate of films produced during the sixties by cobbling together footage pirated from Russian science fiction films and new material shot by [any one] of Roger Corman’s stable of up-and-coming film-makers, in this case Curtis Harrington.’*  In Queen Of Blood, Harrington uses footage from the Russian film Meshte Nastreshu, ‘A Dream Comes True’.

The Plot: (Set in the year, 1990) After aliens contact Earth via radio to inform humans of an impending visit, their ambassador spaceship crashes on Mars. Astronaut rescuers recover only one green-skinned survivor – a female with insatiably vampire-like appetites.*

The film features John Saxon, Basil Rathbone, Judi Meredith, Dennis Hopper, and Czech actor Florence Marly as the Alien Queen.

A Fantastic Voyage – Charles And Ray Eameses ‘Powers Of Ten’

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Charles and Ray Eames (Photo via Library of Congress)

Charles and Ray Eames (Photo via Library of Congress)

Charles Ormond Eames, Jr and Bernice Alexandra “Ray” Eames were American designers who worked in and made major contributions to modern architecture and furniture. They also worked in the fields of industrial and graphic design, fine art and film.
– Wikipedia

That’s a very brief and simplified summation of the amazing accomplishments of Charles and Ray Eames. Entire tomes could be written about each area of their influence – indeed, such is the case. But today we’ll only look at one of their really mind expanding projects – the 1968 documentary short film, Powers Of Ten.

…rereleased in 1977. The film depicts the relative scale of the Universe in factors of ten…The film is an adaptation of the 1957 book Cosmic View by Kees Boeke, and more recently is the basis of a new book version. Both adaptations, film and book, follow the form of the Boeke original, adding color and photography to the black and white drawings employed by Boeke in his seminal work.
– Eames Office

Powers Of Ten is an amazing journey to the outer reaches of space back to the deep reaches of inner space. In fact, this is what makes it so mind blowing – by traveling through every scale the viewer is left with a wondrous realization of how relative our experience of reality is.

Sounds like pretty heady stuff, and it is, but this is what makes the Eameses film so marvelous. In Powers Of Ten, the complex becomes simple. Instead of struggling with convoluted philosophical details regarding the relativity of perception, the viewer is taken on a visual adventure that brings it all home. In fact, this is the signature of Charles and Ray Eameses work in every field – making the complex easier to perceive and enjoy.

If by the end of the film you wish to explore more of this fascinating subject, the Eames Office has set up a terrific interactive website sponsored by IBM. You’ll find it by clicking here.

So, without further ado, this is Powers Of Ten:

Directors: Charles Eames, Ray Eames
Running time: 9 minutes
Narrated by: Phil Morrison
Music composed by: Elmer Bernstein
Story by: Charles Eames, Kees Boeke

Soundies, Scopitones, And Cinebox Films – The Gift Of Sounds And Visions

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This is a Mills Panoram. This fantastic machine was first produced in 1939 by the Mills Novelty Company of Chicago, Illinois. The fabulous wood cabinetry houses a 16mm projector that plays special continuous loop films (Soundies) that typically show jazz and other musicians of the day.

‘This is a Mills Panoram. This fantastic machine was first produced in 1939 by the Mills Novelty Company of Chicago, Illinois. The fabulous wood cabinetry houses a 16mm projector that plays special continuous loop films (Soundies) that typically show jazz and other musicians of the day.’ – via jayandwanda.com

Picture yourself in your favorite tavern. You’ve had a couple cocktails. You drift over to the Panoram, drop in a dime. The 24″ screen comes alive with action. You’re taken to a world of sound and vision.

Happy Feet – Edited as a soundie, 1941
From the 1930 film, ‘King of Jazz’
Bing Crosby and The Rhythm Boys (Harry Barris and Al Rinker)
One of the few color soundies.

Panoram was all about the music. In 1941, Soundies attempted to introduce the comedy sketch but the viewers weren’t convinced – they wanted their machine music. From 1940 to 1947 the Panoram could be found anywhere people congregated – soda shops, taverns, restaurants, bus and train stations, etc. WWII slowed the production of soundies – but some 1800 had been produced in a six year period. The popularity of television would lead to the Panoram’s ultimate demise.

Fast forward to France, 1960. Enter the Scopitone. With similar technology as the Panoram – but this time equipped with a magnetic soundtrack – the 16mm music film jukebox begins a comeback.

Le Scopitone - French promo brochure

Le Scopitone – French promo brochure

The popularity of the Scopitone spread across Europe, the UK, and the States. The content, known as scopitones, combined creative visual expression with modern and pop music in particular. It’s in this way that they have come to be known as the forbears of the music video phenomena that emerged via MTV in 1981. The Scopitone faded from the scene by the end of the sixties. Fortunately, many of the gems have been preserved and can still be appreciated today.

Robot performed by The Tornados, c. 1964
Produced by Joe Meek

The Cinebox was another visual music jukebox that appeared in ’59 – ’60. This one was produced by an Italian company, Ottico Meccanica Italiana.

Cinebox promoted on a cigarette pack.

Cinebox promoted on a cigarette pack.

Cinebox didn’t catch on like scopitones – the works are fewer and more difficult to find. Below is a Cinebox film from the highly unusual, Screaming Lord Sutch. It was produced in 1963 and its influences to future visual music recordings are significant.

SCREAMING LORD SUTCH – Jack The Ripper (Cinebox film, 1963)

For the people of the time, visual jukeboxes presented a novel and interesting way to experience music and other entertainments. Musicians who would never be known on a large scale found a medium that afforded them the opportunity to reach out to more people. As it turns out, that reach has spread across the decades.

For an extensive list of Soundie films, visit the Romano-Archives here. For all things Scopitone and Cinebox, visit the Scopitone Archive here.