‘Pulgasari’ - Kim Jong Il’s Comsploitation monster movie in full (with subtitles)

The late Kim Jong-Il was a notorious film fanatic, but did you know that in the 70s he kidnapped a movie director called Shin Sang-ok, brought him to North Korea and forced him to make feature films? The most successful of these films is Pulgasari from 1985, a Godzilla-inspired monster movie-cum-allegory for capitalism run wild.

I was unaware of this incredible story until details of Kim’s life started emerging after the announcement of his death on Monday, but in 2003 Shin Sang-ok spoke to the Guardian about his ordeal:

In 1978, he fell foul of the frequently repressive government of General Park Chung Hee [South Korea], who closed his studio. After making at least 60 movies in 20 years, Shin’s career appeared to be over.

What followed, according to Kingdom of Kim, Shin’s memoir, was an experience that revived his career in an unbelievable way. Shin and his wife were kidnapped by North Korea’s despot-in-training, Kim Jong-il, who sought to create a film industry that would allow him to sway a world audience to the righteousness of the Korea Workers’ Party. Shin would be his propagandist, Choi his star.

Shin’s story is as fantastical as many of his movies. He writes of being caught trying to escape, and spending four years in an all-male prison camp as a result, left to assume that his wife was dead.

Then, just as suddenly, he was brought into the inner sanctum of Kim Jong-il, the would-be successor to his father, Kim Il-sung, who ruled the country for nearly 50 years. Shin’s talents then officially fell to the service of North Korea, and he made seven movies before he and his wife made a breathtaking escape in Vienna in 1986.

That entire piece is well worth reading, it’s fascinating! For those of you wondering what Pulgasari is like, here is the full, 94 minute film (in 9 parts, with English subtitles.) The story of a doll made of rice that comes alive after contact with human blood, and feasts on raw metal, the production values actually aren’t that bad - it’s certainly not the worst obscure B-movie I have ever seen (although admittedly I didn’t make it to the end.) But we will let you decide for yourselves, dear readers, whether Pulgasari is the crowning achievement of the Supreme Leader’s legacy:

Pulgasari, part one

Thanks to Simone Hutchinson!
Pulgasari parts two to nine are after the jump…

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Bizarre Top Of The Pops dance routine for ‘O Superman’

As if it wasn’t weird enough that Laurie Anderson’s “O Superman” got to number 2 on the British charts in 1981, here’s a really strange dance routine by Zoo from Top Of The Pops to accompany the vocodered, beatless wonder. YouTube uploader Sambda says:

“A spectacularly bad dance routine. An extreme example of “Top Of The Pops” choreographer Flick Colby’s habit of taking all lyrics (including obvious allegories) at face value. So we have to have a judge, a mom-and-dad etc. I suspect the only reason Superman himself didn’t appear was down to a rights issue.”

I think he may be onto something. It’s also worth watching for Peter Powell’s bizarre chain-mail sweater at the start:
Laurie Anderson - “O Superman” Top Of The Pops 1981

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Cats playing a Mini Theremin

The Theremin is a unique musical instrument that, according to WIkipedia;

“[was] originally known as the aetherphone/etherophone, thereminophone or termenvox/thereminvox [and] is an early electronic musical instrument controlled without discernible physical contact from the player. It is named after its Russian inventor, Professor Léon Theremin, who patented the device in 1928.”

A cat is a four legged feline animal that, according to Wikipedia;

“[is] also known as the domestic cat or housecat to distinguish it from other felines and felids, [and] is a small, furry, domesticated, carnivorous mammal that is valued by humans for its companionship and for its ability to hunt vermin and household pests. Cats have been associated with humans for at least 9,500 years.”

According to WIkipedia, the word “awesome” means: “...that which inspires awe.”

You can see the “prequel” (Cats and Mini Theremin Part 1) here.
If you were not aware of the existence of these Mini Theremins, they come in kit form, are cheap ($30) and look relatively easy to build. You can purchase a kit (and watch a video demonstrating the building process) at Maker Shed.

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