Monday, July 30, 2007

Bergman Rock

Today we mourn the passing of Sweden's most internationally famous filmmaker, Ingmar Bergman. Just like anyone remotely interested in films, I love Bergman's works. Of course, I always preferred his earlier, funnier movies. Smiles of a Summer Night is my favorite - a delightfully light comedy with the cream of the Swedish acting elite. Several of the other mid-50's films are also fantastic and well worth revisiting, like The Seventh Seal and Wild Strawberries.

What many don't know is that in the 1950's Bergman did his bit to create Sweden's filthy reputation (i.e. the one we are celebrating in this blog). The great exploitation maverick Kroger Babb bought the rights to Summer with Monika and turned it into something a lot more salable: Monika - the Story of a Bad Girl. This was done by cutting out most of the dialog while retaining all the sunbathing and skinny-dipping. The result was the most widely seen Ingmar Bergman film in the US to this day. While Svensk Filmindustri initially complained bitterly about what had been done to the film, they changed their tune when it started raking in the cash. Thus Monika was eventually released in the US in two versions: Bergman's original cut for the art house circuit, and Bad Girl for the raincoat crowd. The latter made such an impression on a young John Waters that when he visited the Göteborg Film Festival, his only request was to meet the film's star, Harriet Andersson (who seemed quite puzzled by the attention). Unfortunately, the exploitation version of Monika will never be seen in public again - at least not until the current copyright holders grow a sense of humour.

I'm afraid I don't own a single Ingmar Bergman poster, but I do own a few for a film by Bergman's assistant director on Persona - Bo Arne Vibenius.

Sunday, July 29, 2007


Some stamp collectors concentrate on specific themes, like butterflies, sports, or Elvis. I have a particular weakness for posters featuring rats. Rats tend to look a little scary in movies, but believe me, they make wonderful pets!

Run for the hills!

I'm not going to turn this into an MP3-blog (there are plenty of those around) but on a Sunday afternoon it might be nice with some soothing music. Enter Hellsongs, the Göteborg, Sweden, band that does what The Cardigans did to Sabbath Bloody Sabbath - on repeat. My favorite is their version of Judas Priest's Breaking the Law but their take on another Sabbath number works too.

Vampires, vampyres and vampyros

One of my favorite poster genres is vampire movies of all sorts - it seems they just bring out the best in poster artists, even when the movies themselves are so-so. Some of the best posters around are for movies by Continental auteurs such as Spain's Jesus Franco and France's Jean Rollin, but there are also great examples from UK's Hammer films and of course Mexico. Check 'em out - there are plenty more bloodsuckers where these ones came from!

Saturday, July 28, 2007


Thanks to Michael and the other guys over at Popcorn and Sticky Floors for an accurate summary of exactly why Sweden rocks, and some choice posters to boot! Us native speakers don't think about it, but there are some pretty odd-sounding words in the Swedish language - or as Posteroid put it: "RAGGARE! Sounds like a battle cry..." Another useful word, first picked up by Mrs. Bigfatass over at NSFGE, is of course "FARG". Farg (or actually "färg" with an umlaut) simply means "color", something which was apparently a draw for cinemagoers as late as the mid-70's. Check out thes FARG-tastic wonders for a sampling of what FARG really means!

Friday, July 27, 2007

...and more!

OK, just talking about posters gets boring after a while. So meet my new favorite band, Los Campesinos! from Cardiff, UK! Sticking Fingers Into Sockets is out now, and the last time I enjoyed an EP by a new band this much was probably at the time of Tokyo Police Club's legendary debut...


West German movie posters were among the ugliest in the world - fact! Bad art, bad graphics, just bad.. but there were exceptions. This abstract poster for Leone's A Handful of Dollars could almost have been designed by an East German or Polish poster artist.

And this sensational piece for Russ Meyer's "ode to the violence in women" Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill! is an acceptable alternative for those of us who can't afford the US original.

Italian horror movies faired pretty well too, like these two Mario Bava classics - The Whip and the Body and Kill Baby... Kill! (though it's anyone's guess what "Dr. Dracula" has to do with the latter!)

And while they're not the prettiest posters around, these two spy pieces are still a lot of fun, with a distinct German feel...

Strange bedfellows

One of the most baffling practices of Swedish cinema exhibition in the 1970's was to pair up hardcore pornography with what would today be considered typical matine fare, such as silent comedy shorts. The canonical example is the one-sheet for Deep Throat which promises not only "The film that shocked USA - The world's most explicit sex film" but also "Laurel and Hardy in Liberty - perhaps their funniest!"

What were they thinking??? To put on a show for the whole family? Or that depictions of one kind of physical activity on film are as good as another? It is clear that it was not an isolated event; the insert poster for The Devil in Miss Jones features not only critical accolades (and even a complete review!) from major Swedish newspapers, it also promises "and... Charlie Chaplin!"

Maybe the exhibitors finally discovered that this kind of catch-all approach didn't quite work, because a few years later we find a slightly more sensible pairing: the 1975 "orgy of sex" The Wetter the Better matched with a heavy-weight boxing match featuring George Foreman! The local exhibitor has helpfully added a clarification: "Saga cinema shows: Boxing + PORN"!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

I Spy

In the wake of the first James Bond movies in the 60's, spy movies were all the rage and European producers rushed to produce their own variations complete with suave agents, cool music, hot action and glamorous women. And of course the poster artists went wild! Here are some great Italian spy-themed movie posters:

In Sweden, poster artists did not have as much freedom (or, frankly, as much talent) but the graphics on these spy items is quite striking - and the tag lines are hilarious (if you read Swedish, that is!).

Variations on a theme

The title image for this blog is taken from the Italian locandina for the obscure thriller The Devil Has Seven Faces. It is interesting to compare the locandina with the Spanish one-sheet, by prolific poster artist Jano, as it re-works the theme of the screaming face to great effect.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Sweden... where the facts of life are stranger than fiction!

While Vilgot Sjöman's talky artfilm I Am Curious Yellow and Torgny Wickman's heartfelt documentary The Language of Love did their bit to spread the picture of Swedes as sex-crazed maniacs, the one film that really solidified the image was not even Swedish! As you can see from the Australian daybill (left), the mondo (i.e. mostly fake) Italian "documentary" Svezia: Inferno e Paradiso depicts a country of teenage suicides, violent motorized gangs ("raggare") and stripping meter maids. A few well-know Swedish actors can be seen in the supposedly "real" footage, and the American voice-over is priceless! Incidentally, Piero Umliliani's score is probably more famous than the movie; the song Mah Nà Mah Nà was later used in a recurring sketch in The Muppet Show...

The movie was very successful and screened all over the world. In my collection I have material from the United States, Japan, Belgium, Germany, Australia and of course Italy, but paradoxically the movie was never shown in Sweden except in very shortened form on television. To this day, misconceptions created by the film live on in popular memory abroad, for instance the idea that Sweden has the most suicides per capita in the world (maybe they confused us with Switzerland?) But sometimes I wish I really lived in the exotic and wondrous country that only exists in this film - where violent "raggare" roam the street, where people dance wild to topless guitar bands at every basement club, where dozens of girls running from the sauna straight into the snow is a daily sight, and where the most common form of exercise are those nutty rubber balls seen on the Japanese one-sheet (above)!

Below are a few other choice posters: the evocative German one-sheet and two different variations of the Italian locandina - original and re-release - all based on the same art concept.

The film has been hard to see for many years, but all that will change soon. The unstoppable enthusiasts at Klubb Super 8 are preparing a DVD release which will include the English narration and lots of memorabilia, including the posters seen here and many more. Until then, the party is right here on YouTube...

Monday, July 23, 2007


Well hello there! This will be a blog about things that interest me: cult movies, indie music, cool comics, odd books, weird Japanese T-shirts... you know the stuff, right? Maybe not, but you'll get the idea. I travel a lot in my work so perhaps I'll talk about that too. Anyway, the one thing I really want to get up here are pictures of movie posters from my own collection, including lots of wild exploitation art from Mexico, Italy, Japan and of course Sweden. If you like that kind of stuff stick around - there will be a lot of clickable images that have not been seen anywhere else!

I'll start off by explaining the name of the blog. It refers to the Swedish film Rymdinvasion i Lapland, aka Invasion of the Animal People, aka Terror in the Midnight Sun. This is the kind of stuff that makes me proud to be a Swede. Even though it is officially one of the worst movies ever made, this 1959 monster/sci fi epic, set in the northernmost regions of Sweden, played in cinemas all over the world! Pictured here is the Spanish 1-sheet poster. I love the crazy kid-with-crayons art style, and even more the fact that for many people, this was probably what defined their view of Sweden: snow, pine trees, skis, reindeer, and the occasional man in a furry monster suit. All that would change soon enough, thanks mainly to some enterprising documentary and art film producers, but that's a different story...

This indispensable film is out on DVD from Something Weird Video and Klubb Super 8 - here's a sample!