Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Hamlet Mash-Up, by Geoff Klock

And now for something completely different. I created a Hamlet Mash Up on YouTube: 65 clips from 65 different movies from or about Hamlet, and no clip longer than 23 seconds. Captain Picard, Billy Madison, Jack Skellington, and the cast of Gilligan's Island are among the 65. Enjoy, and share.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Kill Bill and Miltonic Allusion: Grease

I continue to tell people that Kill Bill's debts to other films are totally intentional and interesting. Tarantino alludes to film history like John Milton alludes to poetic history. Because he wants to stake a big claim in the genre he is working in.


(from 1:00-1:10)

This is the song Grease Lightning from the musical Grease. Grease is a musical about a summer fling between a nice girl and a cool guy and whether than fling can translate into the rigid world of high school cliques in the 1950s.

About a minute in you will hear John Travolta call the car "a really Pussy Wagon." Thurman's car that she gets from buck is the prominently labeled Pussy Wagon.

Though the allusion here is slight I still think it worth talking about. For one thing Tarantino is obviously a huge John Travolta fan, and successfully revived his career for a minute in Pulp Fiction. Second, Tarantino is on record saying that people who do not like violence in movies are the same people who do not like dance sequences in movies. The musical is how he justifies his love of violence in purely aesthetic terms, just something very "cinematic," as he says. He is not making a social commentary. He is making a fun movie, a work of art, an aesthetic thing. So I think the allusion to Grease is actually kind of important given the orgy of violence that is about to follow.

Thursday, June 02, 2011


[From Troy Wilson!]

Comics legend, Stan “The Man” Lee, and Emmy award winning artist, Dean Haspiel, have joined forces to close out Panels for Primates with a bang. “Collaborating with Stan Lee is a dream come true,” says Haspiel. Their comic strip, Even Gorillas Have Pride!, viewable only at ACT-I-VATE from June 1st onward, can be found here:

Panels for Primates is a charity anthology of primate comics curated and edited by Troy Wilson and facilitated by Mike Cavallaro that has been updating with new material every Wednesday since October 2010 at ACT-I-VATE (, all to benefit the Primate Rescue Center in Nicholasville, KY. Like every webcomic on ACT-I-VATE, the Panels for Primates archive can be viewed absolutely free. But if Panels for Primates readers like what they see, they are strongly encouraged to swing over to and make a donation.

Other prominent contributors include Fred Van Lente (Cowboys & Aliens), Mike Carey (The Unwritten), Rick Geary (Treasury of Victorian Murder series), Stuart Moore (Namor: The First Mutant), David Petersen (Mouse Guard), Colleen Coover (Gingerbread Girl), Faith Erin Hicks (Zombies Calling), Carla Speed McNeil (Finder), and Roger Stern (The Death and Life of Superman). In all, 56 generous creators from seven countries have donated 127 pages of all-new material for the cause.

The mission of the Primate Rescue Center is to alleviate the suffering of primates wherever it occurs by:

providing sanctuary or referral to appropriate facilities;

working to end the trade of primates both in the United States and abroad;

educating the public to the plight of primates caught in the breeder/dealer cycle;

assisting researchers and zoo personnel in finding appropriate placement for surplus primates;

encouraging compliance with applicable local, state, and federal laws and animal welfare statutes.

They currently provide lifetime care for 11 chimpanzees and over 40 monkeys.

ACT-I-VATE, the premiere webcomics collective conceived by Dean Haspiel, debuted February 2006, features original, serialized graphic novels, and is updated daily. ACT-I-VATE’s hand-picked artists produce their signature work sans editorial oversight and offer their personal comix for free to an ever-growing audience of loyal readers. The site is known for having lifted the veil between creation, creator, and reader by providing a forum for spirited dialogue between audience and auteur.

Stan "The Man" Lee has quite possibly exerted more influence over the comicbook industry than anyone in history. He created or co-created 90 percent of Marvel's most recognized characters, which have been successfully licensed and marketed since 1965.

His famous co-creations include Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk, X-Men, The Fantastic Four, Thor, and Iron Man, among many others. Lee, known to millions as the man whose superheroes propelled Marvel Comics to its preeminent position in the comicbook industry, first became publisher of Marvel Comics in 1972, and is presently the Chairman Emeritus of Marvel Enterprises, Inc. Lee is also the Founder, Chairman, and Chief Creative Officer of POW! Entertainment.

Emmy award winning artist, Dean Haspiel, created the Eisner award nominated BILLY DOGMA and the semi-autobiographical, STREET CODE. Dean has drawn many great superhero and semi-autobiographical comic books for major publishers, including graphic novel collaborations with Harvey Pekar, Jonathan Ames, and Inverna Lockpez, and illustrates for HBO's "Bored To Death."

Kill Bill and Miltonic Allusion: Lady Snowblood

Tarantino steals lots of stuff, sure, but in a good way. He takes from the past in order to write the future -- and Kill Bill is his bid for the future.


This clips has several other things mixed in as well, and the clips chosen are not always the best, but the Lady Snowblood ones are going to have to do. It is at 1:22, 2:22, and 5:21.

Lady Snowblood may be THE major influence on Kill Bill. The parallels are LOADS, some small and questionable, others FOR SURE. Here is a list

-- Female with a samurai sword hunting down several people for revenge one by one
-- she cuts someone's arm off
-- music
-- divided into chapters
-- the story is not told chronologically
-- the camera freezes at each bad guy, and they are labeled on screen with a name.
-- there is a hand drawn section
-- 4 figures, those upon whom she will take her revenge, loom in the exact same camera shot
-- a woman is having sex with a guy and kills him with a Samurai sword
-- there is a training sequence with an old man and a girl.
-- one guy begs for mercy because he has a daughter
-- she tells one of her victims "we have a little business to take care of" -- Thurman says "you and I have unfinished business."
-- there is a fight with her and the sword vs a bunch of guys and wire-fu leaps in order to get to her female prey.
-- the big showdown is at a party
-- she dies in the snow (sort of -- there is an epilogue where she gets up again, but it is clearly made to justify a sequel)

Some have gone as far as claim that Kill Bill is a remake of Lady Snowblood. This is going to far, but there are a lot of links.

Lady Snowblood is about a woman whose husband and son were killed and she was raped by three men. She gets revenge on one of them, but is sent to jail. In jail she has sex with everyone she can to get pregnant -- because her child will need to finish her revenge. That child grows up to be Lady Snowblood. She meets each villain and dispatches them but the first one has a daughter, and after she kills the last and is badly wounded in the process the daughter comes running up to her in the snow and stabs her. She dies in the snow but in an epilogue wakes up again because somebody smelled sequel.

Obviously Uma Thurman is Lady Snowblood in this equation. That is how we are to read the allusion. The parallels are numerous. This is Tarantino doing his version of Lady Snowblood. All the Kung Fu movies have this Japanese Chinese rivalry, and by aligning Thurman so heavily at the House of the Blue Leaves with both Bruce Lee and Lady Snowblood he is uniting Chinese and Japanese before taking both back to the American West for volume 2. Hence Lucy Liu's half-Chinese half Japanese American Army brat thing. It's like a metaphor for the whole movie.

But there is another way to look at the Lady Snowblood connection and that is to figure Lucy Liu as Snowblood. It is easy to forget but Lucy Liu's parents were killed and she took her revenge killing one guy in a bed while having sex with him. Lady Snowblood's parents were killed and her mother killed a guy in a bed while having sex with him. Also there is a flurry of Lady Snowblood references just as we begin the Origin of O-Ren as we see her face -- We see the four figures looming down at Thurman in a shot taken from Lady Snowblood, we the freeze frame on Liu's face and a label just as in Lady Snowblood, we transition to a hand drawn section just as Lady Snowblood does, and we get a chapter title just as in Lady Snowblood. And it is Liu in the traditional Japanese garb who will die in the snow as Lady Snowblood does (sort of), and who is killed by a woman she probably forgot all about, just as Lady Snowblood does.

In that second reading then the whole ramp at the House of the Blue Leaves, the battle with the crazy 88s and GoGo and more crazy 88s, all to get to Liu was really Tarantino fighting his way through all the movies that have influenced his project, taking each down quickly, before getting to the big one: Lady Snowblood. It is worth noting here the way Liu is killed -- scalped with a Samurai Sword. Again you get the Chinese-Japanese-America pattern -- Thurman, as the Avatar for Chinese Bruce Lee, takes down Japanese Lady Snowblood with a big American fuck you -- a scalping.