Thursday, July 10, 2008



This is the biopic of legendary Joy Division crooner Ian Curtis, who tragically shot himself in 1980. Shot in black and white, as befits a drama of this arty mo(u)ld, the film begins with a teenage Ian taking pills in his bedroom with his best friend, Mark E Smith. Mark has his own vibrant powerpop outfit, 'The Fall', who're tipped to be the next Bay City Rollers - until Ian nicks Mark's girlfriend, Debbie. This act of betrayal causes Smith to metamorphosise into a furious, snarling iconoclast and The Fall suddenly become a ranting, noisy rockabilly machine, dripping with schadenfreude. In fact, Smith's paranoia and mistrust lead him to spend the next 50 years firing people from his band (for psychically attacking him in his sleep, allegedly).

Meanwhile, Ian gets married and lands a job in social services, teaching hairless dogs to speak. But it's not enough, man! He meets up with his mate Bernie (played deftly by Malcolm McDowell) who lets him join his band, Joy Division. Ian sweats a lot and catches epilepsy off a groupie. He then cheats on his wife with a sulky Belgian fanzine editor, who asks bands questions like "WURT IS ZUR FAVORITE COLOUR?" This isn't surprising, Belgian fanzines are generally pretty crap. Then he gets sick of playing to audiences with beards and £200 Toni & Guy 'punk' hair flicks, so he sends a goth onstage in his place, which causes a load of skinheads to riot - ? Yeah, I couldn't figure out what was going on either. Ian returns from his tour a hungry man, but his wife's pissed off down the bingo with the kid, and there's no bloody bacon in the fridge, so he throws a seven. Cue Atmosphere and some right moody shots of smoke billowing from a crematorium.


OK 70s kung fu flick, notorious for its ropey dubbing and hilarious voiceovers. Mr Mong is the village chief, whose unruly daughter wants to learn kung fu, much to his mirth - it's not for girls, apparently. Anyway, a load of bandits turn up, as Mong's got a treasure map, and they want the loot. So they kill him, using a combination of 'Rat' techniques, and then beat up all the villagers, shortly before mockingly asking the daughter, "Does Mr Mong....normally sleep in a coffin?" Much bad man laughter. They kick her head in and she falls off a cliff...only to float down a river several miles, conveniently winding up at the home of some old kung fu master and his idiot sidekick boy pupil.

Anyway, he decides to train her as a proper kung fu warrior. Cue loads of torturous exercises and him rubbing his beard and whacking her with a stick when she doesn't move quickly enough - oh, and a completely pointless 'comedic' sub-plot which sees the idiot boy trying to woo her, but inevitably falling out of a treehouse on every attempt - like, 5 times. Anyway, she learns the Eight Strikes of the Wild Cat and goes off to mullah her dad's slayers. The fight scenes aren't realistic and are mostly sped up, but the rat and cat noises when they fight make up for it, and the film ends on a socialist note. Definitely worth a look, though I couldn't be bothered to sit through it again.


The early 80s video boom saw all sorts of tat make it onto VHS, little of which was weirder than "Private Spy". Originally advertised as a "News of the World on video", this is an astonishing piece of Cold War sleaze from 1982. Apparently, back then, a copy of this cost £25! Which, in modern currency, probably comes to £70, or something. Despite its moralistic overtones, it was obviously punted at blokes who wanted to glimpse a bit of tits and snatch, without having to justify brown paper packages from Amsterdam to the wife.

It starts off with (now dead) BBC newsreader Reginald Bosanquet (I'm not making this up), who appears to be even more drunk than usual, introducing the first item - an expose' of "Lord Rodney", a young Chelsea toff who apparently forced his maid to smoke drugs, and who was implicated in a girl's smack overdose in 1977, but walked free. There's an interview with the chambermaid, in which she confesses that he got her so high she ended up giving him a spot of gobsausage (it also seems she's about to burst into laughter at any moment). They honeytrap him on hidden camera, and the slimy aristo's exposed for the murdering cunt he is.

But better's to come - you haven't lived 'til you've experienced the sheer joy of "PUNTER HUNT!" Basically, the Private Spy team head down to King's X (and we're talking about when the place was an utter shithole) and spend a whole night winding up prostitutes, punters and police officers. Kerbcrawlers frantically cover their faces, mid-hand job, as the team pull up alongside them, shining a light into their cars, taking the piss and reading out their registration numbers. Boasting some of the shabbiest clothing and worst haircuts in history (this is a side of the early 80s you'll never see on any retrophilia shows), the punters brick it, though the prostitutes seem happy to chat. Some of the dialogue's superb, particularly, "What, she cost you £20 mate? You could have spent that on your car!"

The other cool thing is the way the Private Spy team handle the filth, who keep interrupting the filming and, at one point, arrest the hacks. Requests to turn the camera off are met with, "No officer, my camera remains rolling! I'm not having a word on the quiet - these people are committing indecent acts in public places!" One hapless bobby, sent to get the team off the street, is even grilled about the police harrassing prostitutes for free sex. Ghost-like women pound the beat against a backdrop of industrial wasteground, faces caught in lights like death masks, the local residents' committee promising they'll get rid of the "old toms", strips of durex littering the backs of flats...and all the while, punters burying their faces into their laps, pleading, "GO AWAY...GO AWAY", while the team leer, "Come and talk to us! We just want an interview! Children play here during the day, aren't you ashamed? Go on, stick the fucking light on her!" And all over a rubbish 'sexy' Latin/ jazz funk/ exotica soundtrack. Priceless. There's also an advert for "Private Spy 3", apparently featuring John Mc Vicar doing an expose' of corruption in Scotland Yard, though I've never seen that one.

WINNER: "Private Spy 2"
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