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May 16, 2018:

KILLER BABIES

Bruce Kimmel Photograph bk's notes

Well, dear readers, a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, namely 1974, I got my very first 16mm projector.  This was a very exciting day for me that would have been even more exciting if I’d actually had any 16mm film to run on it. I’d been going to my friend Mark Haggard’s apartment because he collected 16mm films so he showed them occasionally.  Of course there was no home video so that was pretty unique and I wanted in, I wanted to collect, too.  I was, at that time, separated from the wife (we had a year off for good behavior) and living not too far from where I am now, on a street called Dickens.  The projector happened towards the end of that year, and as a gift, Mark gave me a reel with some trailers from current films and even a couple of clips from more recent movies.  I sat there in my own apartment and watched that reel over and over again.  I had people over to watch it and they were properly impressed.  There is a point to this that I shall now reveal.  One of the clips, about seven minutes’ worth, was from a little recent motion picture entitled It’s Alive.  There were three or four short bits from the movie.  I’d missed it at the theater but I was mesmerized by the clips – just the fact that anyone had dared to have the chutzpah to make a killer mutant baby film.  The film had been a surprise hit.  I was enamored of the not too revealing shots of the killer baby itself, and I didn’t know what to think of the weird performance by the lead actor, one John P. Ryan.  Of course there was no way for me to actually see the entire film unless it showed up on TV or something.

So, I didn’t actually catch up with it until I actually purchased a print of the film several years later.  And it was as wacky and outré as I remembered it being, even more so.  The best thing it had going for it was the wonderful score by Bernard Herrmann.  But the writing and directing was so quirky that the minute I saw the name Larry Cohen I would go see whatever film he’d made. And he rarely disappointed, I have to say, and the films just got weirder and wackier and more outré. There was Q, The Winged Serpent, God Told Me To, The Stuff – crazy movies with crazy performances and premises. And even much later, the movie Phone Booth came out – I wasn’t so big a fan of its director, Joel Schumacher, but there was something about the film that worked for me, and it was funny when its writer turned out to be the selfsame Larry Cohen.

All that by way of saying that Shout Factory has just released Larry’s three Alive films – It’s Alive, It Lives Again, and Island of the Alive.  So, last night I treated myself to the first two movies.  It’s Alive has not changed a whit – it’s still wild and wacky and outré, and John Ryan’s performance is still like no other.  The Herrmann score is still great.  It’s cheesy, it’s low budget as can be, but it’s just such a fun viewing experience, with much chewing of scenery by both actors and the killer mutant baby who pretty much chews anything in its path.

The sequel, made several years later, is even goofier, with three killer mutant babies.  The plot makes no real sense, the dialogue is hilariously risible, the performances are of the over the top variety and yet, despite all that, it’s still fun – not AS much fun as the first, but you just have to give Mr. Cohen the chutzpah award every time.  I’m saving the third film for this evening and it will be fun because I’ve never seen it before, even though for a short period of time I was very close with its art director – we dated for about eight months back in the mid-1980s.

Of course we get to Flash Forward and now I’ve had the pleasure of becoming very close to Larry thanks to Levi, which he wrote and which I revised.  He calls me every week to tell me how much he misses me, we lunch, and he’s just as wacky as you’d want him to be.  There is a documentary about him that’s been playing festivals – it came out during the Levi run – King Cohen.  I haven’t seen it yet but am very much looking forward to it.  I think I’ll reminisce more about my crazy film collecting years in tomorrow’s notes.

Yesterday was a very odd day – I can’t even really say whether it was good or bad or ugly.  It felt good, it felt bad, and it felt ugly to varying degrees although I can’t really say why.  A good deal of it was spent trying to get all the soundtrack release elements to the licensor – the booklet, the master, and whatever else they needed.  The master was approved early in the day, but then we got one little comment and fix that was so nit-picky and had to do with hiss at the end of one track.  So, we fixed that, then they wanted a different kind of hi-rez file – we’d sent AIFFs and they wanted WAVs, so we did that.  But they now have everything and the plan is for them to hopefully get it into production by Friday.  If that happens, then we’ll announce it this Friday along with a show release.  I also spent a good deal of the day working on the song – I like the one verse I’ve written a lot, in terms of the lyric.  And the tune is fun, but I’ve been waffling about it because it’s a little too similar in feel to a song that happens two slots before – that’s why I’ve been playing with the feel and the vamp so much, but at the end of last night, I came up with a whole different tune and feel and I’m kind of liking it better, so I recorded it and I’ll see how I feel this morning.  I also got the track for the song that’s two slots before it and it’s quite wonderful. Richad Allen is doing a really great job with these orchestrations and tracks.  We’re talking about maybe having Grant play real guitar on them once they’re finished – we could do that in a couple of hours and the synth guitar doesn’t sound very real, whereas everything else sounds pretty great.  So, he’s moved onto the next song.  I think he has three more after that, and then he’ll be caught up and I can give him another four to do.  And I’m adding a bridge and additional verse to one song because Doug said “I want more,” because he liked it and I realized it was indeed not complete and too short.  The song that follows it is also very short – just one verse, so I may add to that, even though some of that one will be danced rather than sung.

I picked up a package, then made six ounces of pasta with butter, cheese, onions, and mushrooms.  I don’t think I ate more than three ounces of it – it just didn’t thrill me and was kind of gross, so I tossed the rest of it.  Of course, that wasn’t enough food to eat, so later I did a run to Ralph’s and got a couple of drumettes, a quarter-pound of turkey, some low-cal sesame buns, a lot of different kinds of fruit bars, and a teeny-tiny thing of potato salad.  I made one turkey sandwich – very low-cal, and had the potato salad and then some Swedish Fish.  I listened to some music and that was about it.

Today is more of the same.  This week is a Freshly week, so those should arrive by five or six and I’ll go retrieve them, but won’t begin eating them until tomorrow. Since I have no lunch or dinner plans for the rest of the week, I can do two a day and that’s usually right around 1000 calories in total.  I’ll write, and one gal for the Kritzerland show didn’t pan out so I’m still on the hunt but all the other songs have been assigned.

The rest of the week is more of the same – want to finish the song and move on to the next one.  I do absolutely need another good ballad and am just trying to find a good place.

Well, dear readers, I must take the day, I must do the things I do, I must, for example, do more of the same, eat, hopefully pick up packages, write, find our final gal, and then watch the final killer mutant baby movie.  Today’s topic of discussion: It’s Ask BK Day, the day in which you get to ask me or any dear reader any old question you like and we get to give any old answer we like. So, let’s have loads of lovely questions and loads of lovely answers and loads of lovely postings, shall we, whilst I hit the road to dreamland, happy to have reacquainted with some serious killer babies.

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