The Unarius Academy of Science, America’s zaniest UFO cult

At some point in the fall of 1992 Jello Biafra and I travelled to El Cajon, California with a small camera crew to shoot a short documentary about the Unarius Academy of Science for a Showtime pilot I was directing. The Unarius Academy of Science is a colorful (and quite harmless, no hint of a Heaven’s Gate vibe) UFO cult with their own cable access show, and was at that time housed across the street from both a center for recovering drug addicts/methadone clinic and a sleazy plasma center where you could sell your blood for cash. A Foster’s Freeze was a block or two away. There wasn’t much of anything else going on there. Just a bunch of empty parking lots and an occasional unoccupied building, some threadbare thrift stores and a funeral home. Not to say it was a ghost town, but minus the Unarians, and the junkies, in this part of town, there seemed to be almost no one else around.

To a certain extent, that might be the reason that people joined the cult in the first place: because there is next to nothing to do in El Cajon which isn’t related to gang activities, drug dealing, burglaries, car theft and crime in general. El Cajon’s crime rate is three times the national average. There are very few legitimate jobs for the people who live there, even at the best of times. Maybe some of the town’s residents looking for a little solace from a cruel universe that dealt them the shitty hand of ending up in El Cajon, might be an explanation for the goofy cult’s local appeal.

But then again, maybe nothing can adequately explain it.

The Unarius Academy of Science was formed by Ernest and Ruth Norman, a couple of dotty New Agers, in the mid-1950s. Unarius is an acronym which stands for UNiversal ARticulate Interdimensional Understanding of Science. The story I heard was that Norman was a traveling psychic medium who put grieving WWII widows in touch with their dead husbands and Ruth was one of his clients. One of his wealthier clients, whose dead husband had left her a restaurant chain or so the story went…

The two met and were married within weeks. Soon Ernest would start self-publishing channeled books and they began having public meetings in Glendale, CA, ultimately publishing over 100 books and garnering several hundred followers. After Ernest’s death in 1971, Ruth Norman moved Unarius to the San Diego suburb of El Cajon, where she also bought up several parcels of now valuable real estate so that a landing strip could be built for the “Space Brothers” of whom Archangel Uriel (as Ruth Norman now called herself) was their emissary on Earth.

The Unarian cosmology predicted that 33 planets would simultaneously send ambassadors in spacecraft that would lock together and form a futuristic city. Uriel taught that beings outside of our direct experience and comprehension exist—she was one of them!—and that one day the Space Brothers will help us silly humans evolve, turn deserts into vegetable fields, stop wars and improve our architecture. 

In the early 80s, “The Arrival,” an elaborate, seemingly high budget film about the Space Brothers showing up in the year 2001 was produced by the group, allegedly with the help of someone who worked for George Lucas doing special effects on the Star Wars films.

In the early 80s, certain members of the cult began to take an interest in making a cable access television program promoting the group’s beliefs: “Everything is energy.” “You, as a form of indestructible energy, possess a soul that has recorded data from past lives.” “All happenings to you currently have their origins in past lives and past actions.” “Negative acts must be compensated for by positive acts.” And best of all, Asians are Martians and vice versa (Unarians are not racists, this is seen as a good thing, i.e. proof that the aliens have been here for millennia!). The “star” of these programs, naturally was Uriel/Ruth Norman, who took to wearing clothing that would make Liberace blush, often made with Christmas tree lights that needed to be plugged in, thereby awkwardly limiting her mobility!

Some of the shows would just be Uriel talking to her followers and others would be like super low budget “psychodramas”—think Kuchar Brothers, early John Waters, Andy Milligan, etc.

These “psychodramas” were unfuckingbelievable, featuring full outer space costumes, zany make-up and and batshit crazy scenarios. For instance, Uriel might decide that a certain Unarian had been a murderous space captain or an evil sea serpent in a past life. So the group would do these semi-improvised and somewhat elaborate plays, that were designed to “drastically relive” these past lives, so that the Unarian follower would be freed from their karma (more or less). In the one with the sea serpent, they literally videotaped it next to a swimming pool and several people got into a crappy aquatic dragon suit fashioned from floating pool furniture and inner tubes and swam around as the rest of them held a trial and passed judgement on the “creature.” A lot of their psychodramas had a “trial by jury” aspect to them. Holy shit were they tweaked.

These programs made it as far as New York’s cable access weirdo home, Channel J. I used to have dozens of them on tape (which were tragically all stolen, along with the camera originals of the shoot with Biafra, from a car parked inside the old Playboy building in Beverly Hills. Who would steal goddamned hand-labeled tapes?)

Biafra and I never did get to meet Ruth Norman herself, her health didn’t permit it, but he did speak to her on camera via a speakerphone. The next morning, in their parking lot, we shot their Interplanetary Confederation Day, where far fewer than 33 Unarians marched around in a circle with fewer than 33 banners representing the (hilariously named) 33 planets who were supposed to supply all 33,000 of the Space Brothers who would arrive here in 2001. A tin spaceship contained 33 doves who were supposed to spill out into the sky at the ceremony’s climax, but they didn’t figure on it being as hot as it was on the day and most of the birds could barely dribble out of the thing. Some probably fried inside as the fully-costumed Unarians marched around their parking lot to the amusement of the folks, like myself, who were there to gawk at them in amazement. Spectacular it wasn’t, but you had to admire their commitment in the face of mainly disinterest, secondarily people driving by and shouting insulting things at them the whole time and that it was boiling hot that day and they were all in their layered interplanetary garb.

I believe they still do the Interplanetary Confederation Day every year. Frankly, I’m just amazed that 20 years after Ruth Norman’s death that the cult still exists. But they do. And even with their leader long gone, her prophecies that didn’t even remotely come close to passing and the sheer pointlessness of the whole thing, the Unarians persist, although the ones who we met 22 years ago are a bit longer in the tooth now (aren’t we all?) What’s weird is that they never grew out of their quirky belief systems even after the Space Brothers failed to arrive—the WHOLE THING that their belief system hinged on—in 2001. Uriel herself was supposed to return then, too. She didn’t even send a text!

If you think of the Unarians as characters straight out of a Daniel Clowes comic, it might make a little more sense.

This weekend at Cinefamily in Los Angeles, Jodi Wille, co-director of the acclaimed documentary on The Source Family hippie cult of the Sunset Strip has arranged a THREE DAY spectacular screening of rarely seen films and videos from Unarius. This “full-immersion” weekend includes core Unarius members onstage for live Q&As, the world theatrical premiere of Unarius’ 1979 film The Arrival, highlights from their massive archive of public access videos — plus a Unarius costume exhibit, Uriel’s space Cadillac, a pop-up reading room stocked with Unarian literature, workshops and tea house on Cinefamily’s back patio.

Here’s the trailer for the event:

After the jump. the trailer for Bill Perrine’s feature-length Unarius documentary, Children of the Stars…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘Staying Fit with Jim’: Enigmatic cable access fitness guru with a ‘little body’

Last night during the fourth (or was it the fifth?) session of the (incredible) two day Everything Is Festival at the (awesome) Cinefamily establishment here in Los Angeles, they had a “Found Footage Battle Royale.”

Now what that means is that the entrants had to submit 2 minute clips and then they’d face off against each other with the audience “applause-o-meter” deciding the winner of each round, who’d then move on to the next. The winner was a fellow named Uneven Eagle who presented clip after clip of an enigmatic Wausau, Wisconsin cable access fitness instructor named “Jim.”

Once “Jim” was unleashed, no one else stood a chance.

There is next to nothing about this cinch-waisted fitness guru on the Internet, just a brief listing on the local cable access station’s website. The show is aired there, amidst Lutheran and Baptist televangelists, the teachings of “Eckanar” (with Living ECK Master, Sri Harold Klemp) and The LaRouche Connection. Even in that company, Jim must stand out, as you can see from the following clips.

For over 20 years, “Jim” has hit record and videotaped himself brandishing a scimitar, his monological musings on having a “little body,” “fat farm boy hands” and the price of magazines, pork chops and apples, as well as his thoughts on the films of Arnold Schwarzenegger. Because “Jim” edits his show “in camera” (i.e. starts and stops the camera between scenes) he has to hold still for several seconds after each set up to avoid the camera preroll erasing the previous scene. So he just stares into the camera. The winner of the contest had a final clip of these moments all cut together. Maybe it was the free beer, but the entire audience was shrieking in hysterics. The clips below are pretty much arranged in the order that the audience saw them in.


Above: “We can pretend we’re Hercules and we’re crushing…something. Something evil.”

More “Staying Fit With Jim” clips after the jump…

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Nightmare City: The Sound of Horror
04:39 pm



Tonight as part of their ambitious month-long Nightmare City festival, Cinefamily presents a perfectly paired double bill:

THE SHOUT – 8:00pm

A gonzo gothic fantasy played straight, The Shout showcases Alan Bates as an unspeakably chilling dark stranger who emerges from the dunes of a sleepy English seaside village, to wreak havoc on an avant-garde composer of musique concrète (John Hurt) and his wife (Susannah York). Insinuating himself as an unwanted houseguest, Bates regales his hosts with tales the “terror shout,” his ability to shriek so penetratingly that any creature within earshot will be struck dead. As Hurt cannot resist this sonic novelty, and as York develops an irresistible desire for the lurking sorcerer, the narrative in impossible directions, while also finding time for extended synth montages, inexplicable role reversals, wild symbology, frame stories within flashbacks, and at least one false ending!
Dir. Jerzy Skolimowski, 1978, 35mm, 86 min.

There is no better sonic pairing for The Shout than world-renowned Danish soundmaker Jacob Kirkegaard, who tonight brings us two astounding performances focusing on the reactivity of acoustic spaces, and phenomena usually imperceptible to the ear. Past “instruments” have included a geyser, a sand dune and the abandoned rooms of Chernobyl, but tonight, Jacob harnesses sounds from both the Silent Movie Theatre itself, and from our own inner ears! First is the impossibly cool LABYRINTHITIS, in which Jacob collects the frequencies resonating within his own ear canals, then processes and orchestrates them to tweak frequencies within the audience’s own eardrums.

Then, it’s the world premiere of THE VISITOR, commissioned exclusively for Nightmare City. With inspiration from Alvin Lucier’s pioneering “I Am Sitting in a Room”, Jacob will record the seemingly silent auditorium, play it back, record that, play that back, and so on. This looping condenses the aural space until it reverberates in a sonic invocation, making the Silent Movie Theatre (and perhaps the spirits of its “storied” past) speak to the audience in its own resonant tones. THIS IS SOME AMAZING STUFF!

Tomorrow night Cinefamiy presents The Hands of Orlac, the haunting 1924 silent German Expressionist horror classic directed by Robert Wiene (of The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari fame) with a live score by prepared piano maestro Hauschka.

And on October 28th, they’ve got a special event planned with composer Claudio Simonetti (the original keyboardist of Goblin) including a dinner, Q&A and a screening of Dario Argento’s Tenebrae struck from one of the world’s few remaining fully-uncut 35mm prints. More information at Cinefamily’s website.

Buy tickets here. Nightmare City is co-presented by The Woodshed Horror Company and Cinespia.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘Vampyr’: Live score by former Banshee Steven Severin

Tonight in Los Angeles, as part of the ambitious, month-long Nightmare City horror film fest co-presented by Cinefamily, The Woodshed Horror Company and Cinespia, Steven Severin will be performing two sets of his live score to Carl Dreyer’s Vampyr.

I’m pretty sure Severin’s show at Cinefamily last time completely sold out, so if you snooze you’re likely to lose.

Steven Severin (acclaimed solo artist and founding member of the legendary Siouxsie and the Banshees) returns to the Cinefamily in person, giving audiences a rare opportunity to hear his new score for Carl Dreyer’s Vampyr: the third in his ongoing film accompaniment series “Music For Silents.”

Though Hitchcock called it “the only film worth seeing twice”, the mysteries of Vampyr couldn’t be untangled in a thousand viewings. Dreyer’s film set a precedent for psychological horror, deploying mood and technical wizardry to render the strange logic of a nightmare on the screen. Shot with a silent film aesthetic despite being filmed in the sound era (and a year after Lugosi starred in Universal’s Dracula), Vampyr finds a perfect aural counterpart in Severin’s suitably textured score: a synthesized, highly atmospheric soundscape that draws the viewer rhythmically into a strange, horrifying dimension just outside our field of vision.

Tickets are $15-$90 and free for Cinefamily members. There are two shows scheduled, one at 7:45pm and a second set at 10:00pm. Order tickets here.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Cinematic Titanic: ‘Mystery Science Theater 3000’ alums riff on ‘The Doll Quad’ (1973)

Just a reminder to our Los Angeles readers that tonight marks the start of the third annual Everything Is Festival, co-sponsored by Everything is Terrible!, Cinefamily and Cinespia

Tonight the festivities kick off with the former cast members of the much-loved Comedy Central cult hit Mystery Science Theater 3000 who now go by the collective name of Cinematic Titanic:

Join us at the gorgeous Saban Theatre, where we’ll watch our favorite Mystery Science Theater 3000 stars and writers — Joel Hodgson, Trace Beaulieu, Frank Conniff, J. Elvis Weinstein and Mary Jo Pehl — in their new incarnation Cinematic Titanic, riffing their way through Ted V. Mikels’ The Doll Squad (the 1973 film that has been rumored to have been the inspiration for “Charlie’s Angels”) on a gigantic screen, in a newly-restored 1930s movie palace. It’s fair to say an entire generation of comedy fans are deeply indebted to these gurus of riffery for their reference-heavy jokes, their goofy spirit, and the thousands of hours’ worth of good times they gave us all. As well, the fact that many of us Earth citizens were exposed for the first time to otherworldly mutant film classics like Pod People, Manos: The Hands Of Fate and the Joe D’Amato sword-and-sorcery anti-epic Cave Dwellers (aka Ator, The Flying Eagle) makes MST3Knot just a landmark of experimental television comedy, but a tireless missionary of B-movie culture. They truly brought all these cinematic oddities to the masses! Plus, our partners at Cinespia are bringing DJs, Cinefamily’s gonna bring the crazy pre-show action and plenty of special surprises, and there’s gonna be a huge afterparty!

Back at Cinefamily home-base, the festival picks up again on Monday night with more MST3000 shenanigans when Joel Hodgson takes part in Cinefamily’s Show & Tell series.

The Saban Theatre, 8440 Wilshire Blvd., Beverly Hills, CA, 7pm

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘Phantom of the Paradise’ Tribute Concert & Paul Williams live at Cinefamily!

Holy-motherfucking shit, our friends at Cinefamily (here in sunny Los Angeles) have outdone themselves (yet again) for what looks like an incredibly fun time this coming Saturday night:

An Evening With Paul Williams
Why are there so few songs about rainbows? Because Paul Williams wrote the absolute definitive one for all-time with “The Rainbow Connection”, and no one else since has dared to go near the rainbow zone. This one feat alone doesn’t make a career—but the theme song to “The Love Boat” and huge chart hits for The Carpenters, Barbra Streisand, Helen Reddy and Three Dog Night sure do, as well as the smash soundtracks for Phantom of the Paradise, Bugsy Malone, Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas and A Star Is Born, all in conjunction with an incredible acting career in which he’s played boy geniuses (The Loved One), sleazy businessmen (Smokey And The Bandit) and monkey dudes (Battle For The Planet of the Apes). WHEW!

Short in stature but towering in talent and charisma, Paul Williams was one of the faces of 1970s American pop culture—you couldn’t tune into late-night TV without seeing his joyful, bespectacled grin. Deserving of every accolade every bestowed to him, Paul is a national treasure, one fully deserving of rediscovery. Join us as we sit down with this living legend for a juicy career-spanning convo, moderated by Steven Kessler (director of the brand-new doc Paul Williams: Still Alive) and peppered with rare archival footage of Paul at his best! 

Phantom of the Paradise Tribute Concert
One of the most intense, baroque and satirical films of Brian De Palma’s filmography deserved an equally shimmering, catchy and reference-laden rock score—and that’s exactly what Paul Williams bestowed upon De Palma’s 1974 movie musical masterpiece Phantom of the Paradise. Starring in the film as well as singing several of its cult-hit earworms, Paul cemented an unforgettable legacy as “Swan,” the Svengali-like evil spirit chairman of Death Records—in addition to penning other soulful, memorable numbers for his co-stars, tunes that giddily run the gamut from glam rock sleaze to doo-wop parody, singer-songwriter sensitivity and beyond. The Phantom songbook is instantly hummable and forever meaningful to lovers of pop pastiche—and after our live Q&A session with Paui, it’s time for a full-on live tribute show to this epic showstopping soundtrack! The evening’s vocalists include Eryn Young, Django and Sam Stewart, Sierra Swan, Tim Young and Heather Porcaro—and the band is manned by Tim Young, Kaveh, Aaron Sterling and Steve Porcaro. Thrill to this ace team’s renditions of “Faust,” “Old Souls,” “The Hell of It” and more!

An Evening With Paul Williams begins at 6:00pm and the Phantom of the Paradise Tribute Concert begins at 8:30pm, Saturday June 16th. Get tickets here.

(The evening prior, Cinefamily will be screening a Paul Williams double bill of The Muppet Movie and Phantom of the Paradise. Info here.)

Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Paul Williams sings in his ‘Planet of the Apes’ make-up

Below, Paul Williams sings “Just an Old-Fashioned Love Song” on The Muppet Show:

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Harlan Ellison live webcast this Thursday
02:26 pm


Harlan Ellison

Above, Harlan Ellison in 1977

Last November, Cinefamily held an event called “The Glass Teat” with writer/raconteur Harlan Ellison. The evening was such a success that they’re doing a second installment this Thursday:

One of America’s most prolific and dangerous writers, Harlan Ellison radicalized science fiction from the 1960s onwards with swirling, shouting, freaky, psychedelic and sexual visions realized across over 1,700 short stories, novellas, screenplays and essays. That would be enough for most — but Ellison is also one of the great TV writers, responsible for iconic episodes of The Outer Limits and Alfred Hitchcock Presents, to penning the most popular episode of the original Star Trek, and much, much more. And, somewhere in there, he even found the time to write “The Glass Teat”, a seminal work still considered one of the most important and scathing books ever written on the nature of television. Join guest moderator Josh Olson (Oscar-nominated screenwriter of A History of Violence) for a very special evening, as Harlan makes a very rare and highly spirited personal appearance at Cinefamily to discuss his love/hate relationship with TV, followed by a screening of several of his best episodes!

Get tickets here.

Cinefamily, 611 N Fairfax Avenue, Los Angeles, 90036

If you aren’t in Los Angeles, fret not, for you can tune it to a live webscast of the entire event on the Cinefamily blog at 8PM (PST) on Thursday, January 19th.

Below, Harlan Ellison talks revolution, reality and “speculative fiction” in the late 60s/early 70s:

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘Battle Royale: Could You Kill Your best Friend?’
01:55 pm


Kinji Fukasaku
Battle Royale

There are still several screenings left of Kinji Fukasaku’s bloody, over the top cult film, Battle Royale, at Cinefamily in Hollywood this week:

The most controversial Japanese film of the millennium comes to The Cinefamily over the extended Xmas weekend in its first North American theatrical run EVER! In A Clockwork Orange for the 21st century, the late, great Japanese auteur Kinji Fukasaku tackles the anti-authoritarian Battle Royale — a gorefest with a purpose, an astonishing opus of teen rebellion, generation-gap satire and gleeful bloody anarchy. Seasoning the time-honored “Most Dangerous Game” scenario with an adults vs. teens twist, Fukasaku tells the dystopian tale of a depressed society run rampant with teen violence, as the government decides to tame insubordinate youngsters by shipping entire 9th-grade classes to a remote island for the ultimate test in survival. Whether goody-goody or troublemaker, the kids must prepare to kill or be killed. Shocking, hilarious and as thrilling as any classic Spielberg or Scorsese epic, it is one of the most incredible and explosive action films of the last few decades, made even better by a devious, ice-cold performance of a lifetime by Beat Takeshi (one of Japan’s greatest movie stars). Withheld from U.S. distribution since its original release in 2000 due to its disturbing teen-on-teen carnage, Battle Royale will blow you away. Whether it’s your favorite film, or you’ve never before witnessed this masterpiece of mayhem, join us for the theatrical experience of the season!

Below, the Cinefamily-created trailer for their exclusive theatrical run of Battle Royale:

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Cinefamily’s Fantastic Elastic 24-hour Fundraiser Telethon
07:03 pm

Pop Culture


As a proud Los Angeleno, I like to brag about the great things the city has to offer, like Cinefamily. This weekend the heroic programmers have cooked up an insane 24-hour telethon for their year-end fundraiser, which you’ll be able to watch online live as it happens at their website (I’ll post it here also).

If you’re going to be in LA on the 17th and 18th, admission will be free, given out on a first-come, first-serve basis, but new audiences will be rotated into the theater every 4-5 hours (see schedule). You can always get right back in line, though, just like at Disneyland, (and also like Disneyland, donors/members get the “fast pass,” and get in first to these shows, i.e. the best way to get in is by donating or becoming a member).

Yes indeed, the idea is to sell as many Cinefamily memberships as possible, and there is a private event on Sunday that is only for new and renewing members that should sell several: Actor Michael Cera will be presenting a special selection of mind-blowing shorts, crazy commercials and other rarities from the early career of Jim Henson.

Cinefamily members will get priority admittance to the event. It’s free but donations will be gratefully accepted.

Opening: 12pm – 4:15pm (Saturday Dec. 17th)
- Spike Jonze live!: Spike takes us on a trip through his work from the very beginning to now!
- Jake Austen (Roctober Magazine) will present a special video show on Outsider Music, hosted by Neil Hamburger, and followed by live performances by Guy Chookoorian & Paul Zone (of The Fast)

Primetime: 4:15pm-9pm (Saturday Dec. 17th)
- Jonathan Gold (L.A. Weekly’s Pulitzer Prize-winning food critic) will give a lecture on “Food and Film”!
- Shadoe Stevens presents an encore presentation of “The Best of Fred Rated & The Commercials of The Federated Group”!
- Surprise guest Q&A!
- Benicio del Toro presents Kaneto Shindo’s masterpiece The Naked Island!

Midnight Madness: 9pm (Saturday Dec. 17th) – 1am (Sunday, Dec. 18th)
- Doug Benson and surprise guests will do a specially-constructed multi-movie Movie Interruption
- Everything is Terrible! takes over
- Cinefamily’s Mondo Christmas Special!

The Nite Owl: 1am – 6am (Sunday, Dec. 18th)
- No Age & Friends (including Lance Bangs, Doug Aitken, and Patrick O’Dell) will play, and curate a show at 1AM.
- Thu Tran (Food Party) will show a new short film about her experiments in black-light food, and will set up a special black-lit restaurant on our backyard patio!
- Stephin Merritt of The Magnetic Fields will host a program at 3AM that we’re calling “Films You Can’t Go To Sleep To”, with original ditties on the uke to intro each short film!
- “We Program In Public”: Cinefamily’s call-in talk show w/ guests!

Good Morning Cinefamily: 6am – 11am (Sunday, Dec. 18th)
- Dawn Salon: a meditative morning of rituals & visuals, with live sitar, soundbath and other musical accompaniment! (Performers include Paul Livingstone (sitar) & Homnath Upadhyaya (tabla master from Katmandu, Nepal), DJ Carlos Nino, Build An Ark, JR Robinson, and members of The Melvins, Pit er Pat and The David Grisman Quintet!)
- A sneak peak at the new documentary on The Source Family by Process Media’s Jodi Wille, who will also conduct an authentic Source mind-expanding ritual and exercise
- Cinefamily, Jr: hosted by DJ Lance Rock from “Yo Gabba Gabba” and featuring Saturday morning cartoons, kiddie commercials and other Sunday funnies!

Finale: 11am – 2:30pm (Sunday, Dec. 18th)
- A Conversation With Elliott Gould
- NEW-&-RENEWING MEMBERS-ONLY EVENT: Michael Cera presents “Jim Henson: Commercials & Experiments” + Members-Only Donor Lunch (provided by The Foundry on Melrose!)

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘Wavelength’ live score with members of Jesus Lizard, The Melvins & LCD Soundsystem
06:01 pm



This Friday in Los Angeles, Cinefamily and Cinespia present Michael Snow’s 1967 experimental film masterpiece, Wavelength. There will be two screenings that evening: the film as it is normally screened in repertory movie houses; and accompanied by a new live score created by members of The Jesus Lizard, LCD Soundsystem and The Melvins:

Elemental, uncompromising, physical and yet completely intangible – explaining Michael Snow’s 1967 Wavelength is like explaining light itself. The 45-minute tracking shot is one of the most influential experimental films of all time, elegantly cutting to and straight through the essence of the filmic experience. This is a purely formal world, where the unalterable path of the camera – not human concerns like story or time – is what forms the experience.

Originally scored to a simple sine wave drone, Michael Snow’s 1967 Wavelength converted the tenants of ambient, experimental music to the visual realm. For this special evening, sound artist J.R. Robinson – who has exhibited his ambient tonefields in museums around the world – will pay tribute to Snow’s pioneering visual experiment with an original sonic creation by his ensemble Wrekmeister Harmonies, accompanied by a list of friends and collaborators that includes members of LCD Soundsystem, The Melvins, Jesus Lizard, Priestbird, L.A.’s Big Business and Qui, and, of course, a projection of Wavelength itself!

Wavelength with original audio track, 7:30pm/Wavelength with live Wrekmeister Harmonies score, 10:00pm/Cinefamily, 611 N Fairfax Avenue

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Giorgio Moroder’s ‘Metropolis’

A new HD presentation of the Giorgio Moroder-scored version of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis will take place at Cinefamily in Los Angeles for ten screenings from October 7th through October 11th:

The legendary rockin’ alternate version of Fritz Lang’s silent sci-fi classic, on the big screen for the first time in almost thirty years! In 1981, electronic music pioneer/three-time Oscar-winning composer Giorgio Moroder began a years-long endeavor to restore Metropolis, the very first attempt since the film’s original 1920s release. During the process, Moroder gave the film a controversial new score, which included pop songs from some of the biggest stars of the early MTV era (Pat Benatar, Billy Squier, Freddie Mercury, Bonnie Tyler, Adam Ant, Jon Anderson and more!) Missing footage was also re-edited back into the film, intertitles were removed and replaced with subtitles, and sound effects/color tinting were added, creating an all new experience, and an all-new film. But for more than a quarter century, Moroder’s Metropolis has remained out of circulation, until now. Utilizing one of the few remaining prints available, Kino Lorber has created a brand-new HD transfer in the best possible quality — just as it was seen in its August 1984 release!

More information at Cinefamily’s website. Tickets are $10, free for members. Kino Lorber are going to release the Moroder version of Metropolis on DVD and Blu-ray by year’s end.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
‘Snuff Box’ invades Los Angeles

This weekend, Matt Berry (The IT Crowd) and Rich Fulcher (The Mighty Boosh) will descend upon Los Angeles to promote the release of their BBC cult comedy series Snuff Box on DVD by Severin Films. The DVD (which includes a bonus CD of Matt Berry’s excellent soundtrack music) will be in stores by October 11th, but Los Angelenos will be able to pick it up early at Amoeba Records where there will be a DVD signing October 1st at 4:30pm (You might want to get there earlier to see Rich in action as auctioneer for Amoeba’s Monthly Charity Auction at 4pm, I’m sure that will be memorable…).

Berry and Fulcher will also be appearing that night at The Upright Citizens Brigade at 10pm for a screening of two Snuff Box episodes and a Q&A. (Earlier that day, I’ll be interviewing them for the Dangerous Minds talkshow).

On Sunday, October 2nd at 7pm Berry & Fulcher will be appearing at Cinefamily for a screening and panel discussion co-hosted by Steve Agee and Rob Schrab of The Sarah Silverman Program (which both Matt and Rich have appeared in). Some live musical numbers are promised as well.

Below, an awkward date… Her last line is a stone classic, isn’t it?

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Richard Metzger’s ‘Show and Tell’ tonight at Cinefamily
05:34 pm

Pop Culture

Richard Metzger

Photo by Peter Berberian

Tonight at Cinefamily in Hollywood, I’ll be doing the second presentation in their “Show and Tell” series:

“A new Cinefamily series that invites artists, filmmakers, musicians and other cultural heroes to divulge their deepest, darkest media obsessions by opening their closets, digging through their attic and plundering their garages to curate an evening of whatever they want to share! From thrift store finds to late-night Tivo, from foreign film bootlegs to home movies, from the popular to the perverse –- all media will be presented live by the honored guests, as they take us on a personal tour of the audio, video and other ephemera that has inspired them, delighted them, or just plain freaked them out.

For September’s session, we’re thrilled to present a friend who is not only a true warrior collector of amazing one-of-a-kind artifacts, but also a fantastic chronicler of hidden underground culture: Richard Metzger, creator of Dangerous Minds and co-creator of Disinformation!

Simply put, Richard’s one of the world’s foremost experts on all things counterculture, conspiratorial and just plain crazy. From a childhood in West Virginia spent obsessively digging through libraries (“There wasn’t a whole lot to do except to tip cows and to read”), to a grown-up era of showcasing the work of folks he respects and admires on TV (Disinformation), in blogland ( and in print (“Everything You Know Is Wrong”), Richard’s amassed a personal archive that overflows with impossibly cool items. This evening will be a closet-rummaging bonanza, as Richard shows you everything from his incredible archival print materials to priceless time capsule footage of the groundbreaking ‘80s NYC club scene (of which he was a part!) Plus, join us for excerpts of Richard’s music video work, highlights from the Disinformation TV show, and so much more!”

I’m going to be screening footage from my own collection and from the archive of the late NYC-based video artist Nelson Sullivan, who videotaped hundreds of hours of the East Village art scene and night life of the 1980s. A clip of Andy Warhol signing books at Fiorucci in 1987 with a wild cast of characters surrounding him, video of of the real life “outlaw party” thrown by “club kid murderer” Michael Alig in the Times Square McDonald’s as depicted in Party Monster, Bongwater, John Sex, and some other surprises and rarities.

It’s a double feature, first the “Show and Tell,” then a screening of a 2-hour interview with Robert Anton Wilson conducted by me and Genesis P-Orridge in 1997 for my old “Infinity Factory” talkshow. Ironically, what was once seen as the size of a postage stamp in a 56k modem world will be screened as if it’s Ben Hur…

Get tickets here.

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Coming soon: ‘Show & Tell’ with Richard Metzger at Cinefamily
03:50 pm


Richard Metzger

On Tuesday, Sept. 13th, I’ll be doing a special ‘Show and Tell’ presentation at Cinefamily in Hollywood, screening “deep cuts” from my personal video collection, including rare footage of NYC nightlife of the 1980s, Andy Warhol, and Michael ‘Party Monster’ Alig. Afterwards I’ll be showing a 1997 appearance by Robert Anton Wilson and Genesis P-Orridge on my Infinity Factory cable access talkshow. The evening will be streamed live with an HD webcast on Stickam. Watch last month’s Miranda July ‘Show & Tell.’ Get tickets here.

Photo by Peter Berberian

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Jean-Claude Vannier, French pop’s great arranger
11:32 am


Jean-Claude Vannier

Another stellar only-in-Los Angeles evening courtesy of the mighty Cinefamily, with a live appearance by French music great Jean-Claude Vannier, arranger of Serge Gainsbourg’s Histoire de Melody Nelson and so many other classics.

“Vannier’s string and choral arrangements have a total sense of OTHERNESS and are indeed unlike anyone else’s.” — Tim Gane, Stereolab

If you’ve ever in your life heard French pop music from the last four decades that moved you, then you’ve been touched by the genius of Jean-Claude Vannier. JCV’s not only responsible for arrangements for virtually every Gallic pop star of note (from Gainsbourg to Francoise Hardy, Michel Polnareff, Brigitte Fontaine, Jane Birkin and Gilbert Becaud, to name but a handful), but also for several startling and wholly unique albums under his own name, and countless French film and television soundtracks to boot! Jean-Claude’s done it all, has collaborated with all, knows everyone in the whole of French music — and (can you believe it?) will be with us live on the Cinefamily stage, for an in-depth Q&A moderated by Andy Votel of Finders Keepers Records that takes us on a guided tour of his impeccable career. You’ll also see clips from films Jean-Claude has scored, his early-’70s work with fashion maven Yves St. Laurent, and you’ll hear some exclusive tracks from Jean-Claude’s two new LPs on Finders Keepers. No tried-and-true music fan can go without missing this one-of-a-kind special night!

Make sure to see Jean-Claude Vannier, appearing with Beck, Sean Lennon, Mike Patton, and more at the Hollywood Bowl on the Serge Gainsbourg Tribute, Sunday, August 28!

Co-sponsored by B-Music
Below, watch Jean Claude Vannier’s “L’Enfant La Mouche Et Les Allumettes” accompanying early 70s Yves Saint-Laurent fashions:

Posted by Richard Metzger | Leave a comment
Page 1 of 3  1 2 3 >