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Devil in Disguise

September 25, 2011

Scorpio Rising (1964)

Tuesday, September 27th 9pm

Otto’s Shrunken Head

538 E. 14th street (A & B)

For Black Gold’s collaboration with Cine Meccanica, it seemed only natural to choose Kenneth Anger’s 1964 masterpiece Scorpio Rising.

Scorpio Rising is essentially a theatrical reenactment of an occult ritual, using the “ceremonial garb” of leather, chains, and skulls. Amidst the Death Cult shenanigans of the biker gang is the fetishization of pop culture, with comic books, the recurring visage of Marlon Brando in The Wild One, and walls bedecked with images of James Dean. The complex montage of imagery is completed with the first “found” soundtrack, which paved the way for future films like Scorcese’s Mean Streets to Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction. The soundtrack is comprised of 50’s and early 60’s pop songs by the likes of Ricky Nelson, The Crystals, The Angels, Elvis Presley, and more. This event is free and is not to be missed!

Black Gold

“When Scorpio Rising was — we’ve forgotten, in a sense, that it was a groundbreaker, legally. Because there are only a few flashes of nudity, genitalia, whatever in the film, I mean, they’re very, very short and, if you blink, you won’t even see them. At any rate, when it was shown, at the Cinema — it was called the Cinema on Western Avenue in Hollywood — the premiere run, someone denounced it to the Hollywood vice squad and they raided the theater and took the print. And the case had to go to the California Supreme Court to be freed and then it became, like, a landmark case of redeeming social merit. That was the phrase that was used to justify that it wasn’t pornography. And, indeed, there’s nothing pornographic about it. Somebody had to break the ice and have that kind of case at that time to establish the freedom, because, before then, the police could seize anything they wanted to. What I was doing on the West Coast, Jack Smith was doing on the East Coast with Flaming Creatures. The two films happened at about the same time. – Kenneth Anger

Scorpio Rising is considered by some to be the first drama film to feature a rock & roll soundtrack

  • Wind-Up Doll
    Written by Leslie Merrill
    Performed by Peggy March

Kenneth Anger’s short Kustom Kar Kommandos which will also be screened, was originally to be an eight part, 30 minute film which Anger described as an erotic vision of a contemporary American (and specifically Californian) teenage phenomenon, the world of hot-rod and customized cars. Anger made the episode presently shown as Kustom Kar Kommandos to raise funds to finish the film, but was unable to do so and the project was abandoned.

– Corinna

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