The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Sex Doll Day *

*(restored/updated) ** texts collaged from numerous sources.





8 AD.The First Sex Doll Story Told. In Metamorphoses, Ovid wrote of a myth involving a woman sculpted from ivory by Pygmalion. Her name was Galatea and he became so obsessed with her, bathing her feeding her and of course sleeping with her, eventually Aphrodite made her into a real woman.



11th to 12th CenturyTouching of Naked Statues Encouraged. Naked women made of marble, called “Sheela-na-gigs,” were carved into the sides of English and Irish churches to ward off evil spirits. The carvings had exaggerated vulvas and a legend at the time said caressing these sexy busts gave you the power to heal others.



15th CenturyThe First Sex Dolls at Sea. Called “Dame De Voyage” in French, “Dama De Vinje” in Spanish or “Seemannsbraut,” in German, these female dolls made out of sewn cloth were used by sailors aboard their ships to occupy their time (and bodies) on long trips at sea.



1941Nazis Invent the Modern Sex Doll. The world’s first sex-dolls as we know them were created in Nazi Germany at the request of the SS leader, Heinrich Himmler. Called the “Borghild Field-Hygiene Project,” Himmler came up with the concept to stop the “unnecessary losses” of Nazi soldiers due to STD’s. The Project was considered ”Geheime Reichssache,” translated: ”More secret than top secret.”

The sculptor on the project, Arthur Rink, created three dolls. Typ A: 168 cm bust. Typ B: 176 and Typ C: 182 cm. According to Rink, The SS wanted the breasts “round and full” and SS Dr. Olen Hannussen insisted on “a rose hip form, that would grip well.” As for the face, the team agreed it needed a cheeky and naughty look. They asked to borrow the face of an actress of the time, Käthe von Nagy, for the doll, but she declined. Dr. Hannussen suggested an “artificial face of lust”, which he thought would be more appealing to the soldiers. Technician, Franz Tschakert agreed saying, “The doll has only one purpose and she should never become a substitute for the honorable mother at home… When the soldier makes love to Borghild, it has nothing to do with love. Therefore the face of our anthropomorphic sexmachine should be exactly how Weininger described the common wanton’s face.”

Going along with the Nordish Nazi vision of beauty, a tall leggy blonde rounded out the form. The first model of Borghild, Typ B, was completed in September 1941. Later, this blonde life-sized woman would inspire Ruth Handler to create the Barbie Doll for girls.



1955Bild Lilli. The first sex doll is marketed, which is 11.5 inches of plastic and is named Bild Lilli.



1975The Stepford Wives. A film about the quaint town of Stepford, Connecticut where men have beautiful robot wives that are all absolutely perfect … except for the fact that they’re creepy. Trivia: Diane Keaton turned the role of Joanna down the night before signing her contract, because her analyst got “bad vibes” from the script.



1977Hohoemi. The history the best Japanese sex dolls brand started in 1977 when the future CEO of Orient Industry decided to make the kind of doll that he knew men needed. He came up with Hohoemi. She’s a simple lady compared with the sophisticated silicone dolls of today but she certainly was a popular and durable creation. Made from urethane and PVC, Hohoemi was essentially a head, bust and waist with hole … and that’s it.



Early 80’sThe First Sex Robot is invented. British Company, Sex Objects Ltd. creates a sex robot, named “36C,” for obvious reasons. “She” also had a 16-bit microprocessor and voice synthesizer that allowed primitive responses to speech and push button inputs.



1985 The Term “Gynoid” Coined. The term “Gynoid” was a name given to a female robot designed to look like a human female. It was given to us by Gweyneth Jones in her 1985 novel, Divine Endurance.



1987Britain Lifts Prohibition on Importing Sex Dolls. In 1982 a blocked attempt to import sex dolls into Britain began a court case about whether or not to lift the import ban on all “Obscene or Indecent” items. The sex companies finally won the case in 1987, lifting all prohibitions. This opened the floodgates to all perversity in England.



1994Fleshlight. Back in 1994, Steve Shubin had a problem — his wife was pregnant with twins and, being over 40, her health was a concern. Sex was off limits during the course of the pregnancy so Shubin had to take matters into his own hands. But not by using his hand. Deciding he needed something else to use, he started daydreaming. Eighteen months and $750,000 later, the Fleshlight was born.



1995The Inflatable Sex Sheep Sold. Muttonbone Productions, Inc. creates a life-sized, anatomically correct inflatable sheep called the Love Ewe. It is sold mainly as a gag gift.



1996First “Realistic” Sex Doll Created. At 29 years-old, Matt McMullen stops making scary Halloween masks for a living and creates the first female sex doll that is anatomically correct in look and feel. Her name is Leah. McMullen goes on to create the company Real Dolls, one of the most popular sex doll companies in the world. The dolls have a poseable PVC skeleton with steel joints and silicone flesh, which is advertised as “the state-of-the-art for life-like human body simulation”. They are now available in 10 customizable body styles, with a choice of 15 faces and five skin tones. Prices begin at around $6500, with some models costing over $10,000.



2001 — Joe.



2002Guys and Dolls. The BBC produces a documentary called “Guys and Dolls.” It chronicles the industry and the men who buy life-size dolls them. A California company called Realdoll began making realistic, lifesized dolls back in 1996. Since then, they’ve sold thousands of them for upwards of $10,000 each. The men interviewed in the documentary talk about how the dolls influence their lives. While they sometimes feel isolated from real life, they say the companionship they feel with the dolls is worth it.



2004Inflatable Sex Doll Raft Race. Today (August 21st, 2004) the second annual Inflatable Sex Doll Raft Race will be organized in North Russia/Leningrad region. Anyone over 16, and of either sex, is allowed to take part in this second competition. The participants will have to swim in the complicated Losevsky rapids of the Vuoksa river near St. Petersburg. The rapids are usually used for rafting in canoe and catamarans. This competition isn’t a sexually chauvinistic event; in last year’s edition (real) women rafted on the dolls. All participants stated that these rubber ‘products’ are economical in usage, they float wonderfully. They gave some pet names to their dolls: Mary and her Poppins; Speedy Sterlet, Cleopatra… All participants must wear a helmet and a life vest. They also have to remain sober and those who are seen drunk are disqualified.



2005Japanese Company Begins Renting Out “Dutch Wives.” Dutch Wives is the Japanese term for high quality silicone sex dolls. By the end of 2005 the Japanese company Forest Dolls had over 40 shops nationwide. The hourly rental rate, in 2005 was 13,000 yen an hour, or $146.00. Wigs and costumes were also available to rent.



2007Lars and The Real Girl. A film about a man in relationship with a sex doll, nominated for an Oscar for its screenplay written by Nancy Oliver.



2007The “Sexual Audio System” Is Invented. A Japanese company adds an mp3 player attached to a built-in pressure sensor in the chest of its sex dolls. It takes 4 AAA batteries. The dolls also come with real pubic hair and detachable heads.



2006 – 2008Sex Doll becomes Art. Artist Amber Hawk Swanson commissioned the production of a life-like sex doll, a RealDoll, made of a posable PVC skeleton and silicone flesh, in her exact likeness. Her doll, Amber Doll, began as a Styrofoam print-out of a digital scan of her head. Her face was then custom-sculpted and later combined with the doll manufacturer’s existing, “Body #8” female doll mold. After completing, “The Making-Of Amber Doll” and “Las Vegas Wedding Ceremony” (both 2007), Amber Doll and Swanson went on to disrupt wedding receptions, roller-skating rinks, football tailgating parties, theme parks, and adult industry conventions. In the resulting series, “To Have, To Hold, and To Violate: Amber and Doll,” ideas surrounding agency and objectification are questioned, as are ideas about the success or failure of negotiating power through one’s own participation in a cultural narrative that declares women as objects. Swanson’s work with Amber Doll, herself a literal object, deals with such themes through an oftentimes-complicated feminist lens.



2009The First Male Android-Sex Doll. Germans make the first male Android-Sex doll, named “Nax.” It has an “automatically soaring penis” and “artificial automatic ejaculation.” It costs $10,000.



2009Air Doll. Air Doll is a 2009 Japanese drama film directed by Hirokazu Koreeda. It is based on the manga series Kuuki Ningyo by Yoshiie Gōda, which was serialized in the seinen manga magazine Big Comic Original, and is about an inflatable doll that develops a consciousness and falls in love. The movie debuted in the Un Certain Regard section at the 62nd Cannes Film Festival. It opened in Japanese cinemas on 26 September 2009. Director Koreeda has stated that the film is about the loneliness of urban life and the question of what it means to be human.



2010The First Sex Doll with a “Customizable Personality.” At the Adult Entertainment Expo in Las Vegas, Doug Hines, owner and designer for TrueCompanion, revealed Roxxy. She costs a mere $7,000 and reacts to tactile and verbal stimulation. Personalities range from “Wild Wendy,” an outgoing party girl to “Frigid Farrah,” the shy librarian type. Her interests can be modified according to the owner’s conversation preferences.



2010Sex Doll Fashion. A Dutch artist named Sander Reijgers is recycling inflatable sex dolls into the most bizarre clothing. Perfect for a rainy weather, these waterproof hoodies were made by customizing existing tracksuit tops with heads, breasts and other pieces from 50 blow-up dolls that Sanders received from a “sponsor”.



2010 – Laurie Simmons “The Love Doll”: In the fall of 2009, Simmons ordered a customized, high end Love Doll from Japan. The doll, designed as a surrogate sex partner, arrived in a crate, clothed in a transparent slip and accompanied by a separate box containing an engagement ring and female genitalia. Simmons began to document her photographic relationship with this human scale “girl”. The resulting photographs depict the lifelike, latex doll in an ongoing series of “actions”, shown and titled chronologically from the day Simmons received the doll, through to the present. The photos reveal the relationship Simmons develops with her model. The first days depict a somewhat formal and shy series of poses with an ever increasing familiarity and comfort level unveiled as time passes. A second doll arrived one year later. This new character, and the interaction between the two, reveal yet another dynamic in composition – both formally and psychologically.



2011 – A music teacher has been arrested after he was caught in a sex act with a child-like doll outside an elementary school. Officers were called to the school in Tennessee, following reports of a naked white male on school property. Daniel Torroll, 56, a private music teacher, was seen performing sex acts on the doll under a bridge that links the Spring Hill school from the main road. The responding officer said he could be seen by people driving to the school. Police later discovered Torroll had cut holes into the doll, News 2 reported. Torroll claimed he did not know he was on school grounds.




2011 – These high-heeled shoes that look like inflatable sex dolls are part of a collection of footwear by Tel Aviv designer Kobi Levi. The Blow shoes were designed to highlight how high heels are synonymous with sex and accompany a second pair where the heel illustrates the act of sex itself.



2012Just-in Beaver. US adult toy manufacturer Pipedream Products has produced an unofficial Justin Bieber blow-up sex doll. Named ‘Just-in Beaver’, the not-related-to-Mr-Bieber-in-any-way product retails at around $26. The company’s advertising blurb – which rather dubiously fixates on ‘Beaver’ recently turning 18 – describes ‘Beaver’ as a “barely legal boy-toy who’s waited 18 long years to stick his lil’ dicky in something sticky! When he’s not busy beating up paparazzi or beating off, he’s up to his high-tops in hot Hollywood tail!” The company also produces a ‘Dirty Christina’ doll modelled on Christina Aguilera, and a doll named ‘Finally Miley’ modelled on Miley Cyrus.



2012Dollstories.net. “Doll fetish is the desire to be transformed in to a doll or transforming someone else into a doll. This can be a living being such as a rubber doll or an inanimate object such as a lovedoll. The attraction may include the desire for actual sexual contact with a doll, a fantasy of a sexual encounter with an animate or inanimate doll, encounters between dolls themselves, or sexual pleasure gained from thoughts of being transformed or transforming another into a doll. This website was born out of a love of reading doll stories, and the thoughts, fantasies and desires to become one. Whilst this site deals mainly with Doll transformations and people turning into dolls, there are a few mannequin, fembot & objectification stories here.”



2012 – Turkish rescue workers rushed to retrieve an inflatable sex doll from the Black Sea after panicked residents mistook it for a woman’s body floating offshore. The country’s Milliyet newspaper said police cordoned off a wide stretch of beach in northern Samsun province and sent a team of divers into the water to rescue what appeared to be a drowning woman. The team quickly discovered it was in fact a blow-up doll, which they tactfully deflated before throwing it away.



2013Missy is launched into space. An inflatable sex doll named Missy was recently launched into space making history as the first sex doll to have entered the earth’s outer atmosphere. Check out the video and watch Missy being hooked to a hydrogen-filled balloon then shot towards the cosmos at a speed of 426 metres per minute when, at an altitude of 31,090 metres, her balloon burst and she shot straight back down to the ground.



2013Student arrested for posing by Russian WWII memorial with an inflatable sex doll. A university student has been jailed in Russia for posing for a photograph in front of a Second World War memorial – arm in arm with a blow-up sex doll. Anastasia Polnikova, 23, was charged with hooliganism after she and three friends took the inflatable sex aid to the memorial near the Federal University in Stavropol, Russia. Wearing WWII head gear and waving a Russian flag, the drunk students borrowed the doll from a friend and walked through the park to take the pictures before posting them on the internet. Detectives are hunting Miss Polnikova’s three unnamed friends who went on the run after police issued arrest warrants for them all. Stavropol’s Ministry of Internal Affairs spokesman Eugene Nuykin said: ‘The identities of all the people who appeared in this photo are known to us and they will all be punished.



2013Sex Doll Commits Suicide In Czech Online Dating Ad. An ad for the popular Czech dating site Lidé is called “the bleakest thing you’ll see this side of an Ingmar Bergman film”. It features a sex doll, devastated now that her man has found a real human to have sex with, jumping off a balcony as she replays in her mind the bittersweet moments the two of them had shared.



2013Chinese Site Sells ‘Child-Sized’ Sex Doll: Protest Group Launched. A Chinese website is under fire for selling disturbingly life-like child-size, sex dolls. The disturbing advert, spotted by an advocacy group on Facebook called Dining for Dignity, shows the model of a girl, who does not look much older than 9 or 10. Described as a “beautiful young girl sex doll for men,” the item costs $178 and is available to ship worldwide. Worryingly 57 of them have been sold so far to customers in the US, UK, Japan, Germany, and more, the advert shows. The product listing boasts that it is highly flexible, and that “all three holes can be used.” Dining for Dignity has now set up a protest page to pressure DHgate – one of China’s top global merchants platforms – into removing the item or banning the seller. Its petition reads, ”This negligence is fueling human sex trafficking, pedophilia, violent rape, and more.”



2014Synthetics. Synthetics launches a new line of male sex dolls with removable parts depicting the various boner stages. “We are proud of the beautiful, hand-crafted items we produce,” writes Synthetics publicity department, “and we want them to be appreciated as multifunctional rather than simply pigeon-holing them into the easy go-to connotation of the word ‘sexdoll.’ We view our products as usable art, and our clients as art collectors.”



2014 – Stacy Leigh “Average Americans that Happen to be Sex Dolls”, series



2014Sexflesh Full Sized Sammy Sex Doll. There are a lot of positive things going on with this sex toy. First of all, washboard abs. While not structurally relevent it’s a nice touch and speaks to the meticulous detail molded into the rest of the toy. The penis is stiff but moldable, which is a VERY nice touch. It’s 7.5 inches in length, 5.75 inches in circumfrance and 1.8 inches diameter – a nice large penis without being a monster! There are two holes for fucking. The anus and mouth. Both are ribbed and both have “exit holes”. This means the tubes you fuck on the doll are open ended. This makes cleaning it VERY easy and is definatley something you should look for in any high end sex doll (ie. more than $150). The anus is tight and gives a great amount of pleasure. One of the best things about it is that when it gets lubed up, SexFlesh feels very close to the real thing. The outer layer is covered in it, which gives the whole thing a nice skin like feel. Admittedly, the eyes are a little shocking, but if you’re looking for a high end men’s sex doll, this is the one.



2014New Japanese sex doll looks just like a real woman with ‘new level’ of realistic artificial skin. A new sex doll has been created in Japan that is so realistic they are ‘barely distinguishable from real women’. The £1,000 doll, made by Orient Industry, is made from a high-quality silicon, hailed as the ‘next level’ in artificial skin. This gives each figure an unbelievably realistic look, especially in the eyes – previously a problem area for doll-makers. The fake women also have moveable joints so they can be placed in any position and owners are even able to tailor their woman in bust size, hair colour, and physical appearance. Company spokesman Osami Seto said: “The two areas we identified as really needing improvement were the skin and the eyes. We feel we have finally got something that is arguably not distinguishable from the real thing.”



2017 – Sexbots are the new generation of realistic silicone sex doll for adults. Molded to resemble the body and face of a woman or a man, these realbots are also infinitely customizable. As opposed to Japanese love dolls, these sex dolls have artificial intelligence (AI) which enables them to speak (only in English), to answer and to adopt all the expressions of the human face. The first humanoid sex dolls that are proposed are able to wink, to smile, to move their lips, to speak or to groan. All the models are tested for several days before discreet shipping to your doorstep.



2018 – siliconed masked and legs guy has fun with sex doll athlete



2019 – Selling sex is said to be the oldest profession in the world. But now a new take on prostitution is causing controversy. Brothels full of sex dolls are opening all over Europe. Clients go there and instead of paying for sex workers…they pay to spend time with incredibly realistic silicone dolls. In this film, Sofia Bettiza travels to Northern Italy – where Europe’s only chain of doll brothels has opened its latest establishment.



2020- IRONTECH DOLL is a premium TPE sex doll maker specializes in making male sex dolls. They released their first full silicone dolls in 2021.03. Their products have a full range of body shapes from macho, slim, giant cocks to small cocks, bubble butts to twink butts to meet different needs. They release new heads every quarter and their color proportions on light tan and tan skin are very natural. They have realistic and diversified male sex dolls in comparison to other doll brands.




p.s. Hey. Further greetings from SoCal. Things continue to move forward here. We’re now working with the Director of Photography I mentioned last time, an amazing young Russian cinematographer, and gradually figuring how the film is going to look. We’ve cast a couple of more roles. We’re in the unfun phase of making the budget precise, figuring out how much we can pay the crew and cast, and getting ready to do the contracts and all of that. There’s still a lot to do, and time is starting to run out, so it’s getting a bit stressful. We need to find housing for everyone out in the desert near the shooting location in Yucca Valley that we can afford, and that’s proving to be pretty difficult. We’re heading back out there this coming week to figure that out and nail down as many of the other locations (various rooms, a gas station, a high school whose facade we can shoot in front of, etc.) as we can. It’s not very interesting to talk about, unfortunately, but we need to get this grunty part finished before the exciting part starts. So, we’re getting there albeit with more difficulty than we’d hoped. Hopefully, I can be more illustrative and entertaining in my next report. ** David Ehrenstein, Hi, David. What’s ‘Rust’? I don’t think I know that? ** T. J., Howdy, T.J.! Me too, about those films, and, yeah, I’m a big fan of McGuane’s earlier work in various mediums. ‘Dirty Little Billy’ is no masterpiece, but it’s pretty charming. All good with you? ** Cody Goodnight, Hey, Cody! I’m kind of very busy, but I’m good really. ‘El Topo’ is pretty fun and very period-trippy. Congrats on the initial smoothness of the last semester. What’s next for you after that, do you know? The Faulkner, yeah, totally. I too absolutely love ‘Three Women’. I think that’s my favorite Altman too. Shelley Duval is an utter god in that film. I’ve managed to see a few films out here during breaks. I saw Albert Serra’s ‘Pacifiction’. I really like the first two hours of it, but I kind of hated the last forty-five minutes. I saw ‘Skinamarink’. I completely loved it, and the fact that such an experimental, abstract film got a major theater release made me feel hopeful, but it’s very particular, and I can see why people cant stand it. My friend/collaborator Zac absolutely hated it. So, that was interesting. And I saw ‘All the Beauty and the Bloodshed’ which I thought was really good, concise and powerful. That’s been my non-work pleasure. You have a lovely day, night, and week too. What’s new? ** CAUTIVOS, Hi, C. Good to see you too. haven’t read ‘The Shards’ yet, but I’m going to pick up while I’m here, for sure. He’s reading here this week, and I might go say hi if I have the time. I hear really good things about it. No, I don’t have Instagram, just Facebook. Great week ahead to you! ** Bill, Hey, B. Greetings from down south. There’s tons going on, but it’s unfortunately not very interesting to talk about so far, or it would take many tedious paragraphs to describe basically. I would majorly love your Alex van Warmerdam post if you can and want to, yes! My head cold is hanging on unpleasantly, but it’s just mostly a ton of annoying and unnecessary phlegm at this point. There’s decent coffee in LA for sure. Not Paris level, mind you. I just haven’t managed to make a decent cup of coffee with my little home coffeemaker yet. It’s my fault. How’s your post-recent comment life going? ** shadeoutMapes🥐🍄, Hi, pal. I have friends who get agonising migraines, and, oh man, I’m so sorry. I hope it’s bit the dust, or, I guess, brain tissue by now. Have you managed to work on your book and/or imbibe some books? Are you writing on paper? I wrote all my books on paper for a long time, but then I tried writing one (‘The Sluts’) on the computer because it seemed more appropriate, and now I mostly write that way, which is kind of sad. Oh, our film is about a family that builds a haunted house attraction in their home and weird things that happen as a result, just to give you the basic overlay. Funerals are so confusing. I never feel like I’m feeling what I’m supposed to feel at them. And I don’t think I understand what you’re supposed to feel at them even. Awesome about the now non-obscured good news! How’s that so far? I like animals, yeah. I had dogs when I was young but they all died tragically, so I stopped having pets. I really like pigeons for some reason. There’s a bunch that live outside my Paris apartment windows and I feel fond of them. I totally get your panic about the club thing. I always feel really anxious in places like that unless it’s a music gig kind of thing where everyone is standing facing the same direction and don’t really pay attention to each other. But I get why clubs are fun, and you going with older friends sounds like a solution. Did you try it? Was it okay, if so? There were ROTC kids back in the day, yes. I’m actually kind of really surprised they still exist. Weird. Hang in there, my friend. xo. ** Dominik, Hi!!! I’ve missed you. Yes, we got the house, so that part is all good. I’ll try to share some photos of it soon. We’re going out there to give it a close study this week. As I said up top, yes, we got the DoP and he’s great! We’re thrilled to bits. No, I’ve never heard of Matt Ox. So, some rapscallion used his photos? It’s always a little sad when that happens. He looks cool in the teeny bit of the video I’ve watched so far. I guess it’s too much to hope that he’s secretly a slave. Thanks! Anything more interesting or even exciting happen with you since we last exchanged? Sorry to be gross, but love actually could eat my head cold with a spoon it’s so fucking goopy if he really wanted to. Love custom designing you a sex doll to your exact specifications, no limits, G. ** Steve Erickson, Hi. Ahh, cool about ‘Infinity Pool’. If it opens while I’m here in SoCal, I’ll zip to the theater. I’m pretty excited to read ‘The Shards’ and happy to hear that. When he’s good, he’s awfully good. Everyone, Mr. Erickson has reviewed the latest albums by Meg Baird, here, and White Reaper, here. Enjoy seeing your parents at long, long last! ** _Black_Acrylic, Hi, Ben!! I’m glad the birthday dinner went really well. I think I’ll not ask what the very un-vegan meal was. No, wait, I can take it. What was it? Eeek! Hope you’re doing really well in general, my pal. ** Ian, Hey, Ian. Things are good here, or busy at least. Awesome about the Mexico sojourn. Where are you going? Take care, man. ** alex, Hey, alex. First of all, I got the ‘Safe’ zine. It’s amazing. It looks so great, better than the original. I’ve been carrying it around to show people. I’m blown away that you did that, crazy, thank you! The plane flight easily could have been my cold’s culprit. It’s okay-ish now, just irksome. Me too, i.e. big on acid and not so much on westerns. But they do make for a strangely fruitful combo sometimes, I’m not sure why. ‘El Topo’s’ pretty fun. Very dated, but in an enhancing way maybe? Any especially marriage-made-in-heaven film + acid experiences? I hope all’s way, way good with you. ** malcolm, Hi! Late happy b’day! How are things progressing with your film? We’re doing okay with ours, it’s just crunch time and we’re feeling that. I think one could probably fit all of my novels inside ‘Infinite Jest’s’ covers, yes, but it’s pretty great if you ask me. Is it holding you? Really terrific to see you. I look forward to the days of much less delay. ** Sarah, Hi, Sarah! My week has been okay. It’s the least fun phase of making our film at the moment, and way too much about money and things, but what can you do? I’ll try to keep my eyes open for someone who’s looking at me like he wants to say hi. If you’ve spent a good portion of your week writing,that’s definitely a good week. I say that as someone who has no time to write at the moment, and, when I’m not writing, I always feel little quasi. So far I haven’t found a single thing about Machine Gun Kelly that makes me want to do more than barely glance in his direction, oh well. I’ll check out ‘Jetlag’. I do like Chief Keef, yes, do you? I hope you get to keep writing as well as doing non-literary stuff of excellence. ** Nick., Hey, hey, Nick! I’m good. Good enough. Hm, this isn’t that fun or odd, but it’s the only thing I can think of. I went to this sort of famous restaurant called Guelaguetza whose thing is mole sauce. They put it on everything. Anyway, it was nice, and there was this overly loud band ‘entertaining’ the patrons playing Mexican-ized versions of, like, Taylor Swift songs and stuff, and their bass player was literally at least 7 or 8 feet tall. And he just stood there staring angrily at everyone who was staring at him, which was pretty much everyone. That was odd. Boy trouble + fun + learning stuff … sounds kind of ideal? Oh, wow, scary force … when I was a little kid, I had this recurring nightmare where there was a tall building in my city, and, once a year, the city had to let that building rip itself from its foundations and walk around the city stomping on and killing anyone it wanted to for 24 hours, and of course in my dream it wanted to kill me, so I guess I’d pick that, even though it sounds kind of stupid as an adult. I’ll have to think about something especially memorable from the Nelson days because the whole period seems pretty memorable. Let me think for some days. I don’t think I had an imaginary friend, but, not really related, but I think one of the reasons I’m fucked up is that when my parents thought I was being bad, they called me Harold instead of my name, and they would tell me to go away and let Dennis come back, and they were really serious about it, and that kind of scarred me, I think. Did you have an imaginary friend? You have best week ever, my friend, and let me know what made it the best, okay? ** Loser, Hi! Nice about your week, that does sound exciting. What kind of avatars? Obviously, I think that’s awesome about you possibly helping out on your friends’ films. I highly, highly recommend it, obviously. What will/would you be doing, do you think? ** h now j, Thank you, buddy. Fingers crossed. it looks good. How are you? ** Caesar, Hi! Of course I remember you! That’s okay, I’ve been hectic too. I’ll check out ‘Genshin Impact’. My roommate has been playing ‘Elden Ring’, so I’ve been watching him do that. Our film is a lot of work at the moment, and it’s a little stressful, but it’s going okay, no gigantic problems. I’m in LA, yeah, mostly, and out in the desert too, which is where we’ll shoot the film. Mm, I’m not sure what my personal Oscars would go to. Maybe I’d give best picture to ‘Skinamarink’ just to piss a lot of people off. I’m blanking. I do hope Michelle Yeoh wins. And I’d be good with the guy from ‘Aftersun’ winning best actor. I cant think of one apocalypse movie, but you could look through this recent post and see if anything intrigues you. I send you a big hug and kiss right back! ** Okay. The post you see up there actually isn’t all that old, only from a few years ago. The reason you’re seeing it is because (1) This blog’s hosting site made me clean up my blog’s archive a while back, and this post accidentally got decimated by the cull for some reason, and (2) Someone coincidentally asked me if I would restore it because they’re working on some kind of dissertation thing and thought the post might help. So, there you go. I will see you all again a week from today, and I hope your next seven days extremely rock.

Acid Westerns Day *

* (restored)


‘The term “acid Western” was first used by Pauline Kael in her 1971 review of El Topo. The film had just received its formal premiere after having played for some six months straight at a shabby theater in downtown New York named the Elgin, at which it received essentially no advertising and played exclusively at midnight. Nevertheless, the film did peculiarly strong business and became a curious fixation. El Topo was pulled from the Elgin and armed with a national distributor who aimed to replicate its success in other U.S. cities. Its belated premiere, at a theater in Times Square in November of 1971, is when Kael and other critics from the mainstream press would see the film for the first time, and it is here where they found themselves amid the film’s most integral component: its audience, perceptibly under the influence of some mind-altering substance.

‘For Kael the acid Western was a derogatory allusion to the pothead audience that extolled the film—an audience she admittedly did not belong to. In her review she expends many words in describing those in attendance with her, whom she observes unjudgementally but alertly, as one would animals at a zoo. J. Hoberman and Jonathan Rosenbaum elaborate on the phenomenon in their 1980 book Midnight Movies, in which an entire chapter is devoted to El Topo:

Although hip film buffs objected to El Topo’s graceless amalgam of Luis Buñuel, Federico Fellini, Sergio Leone, Sam Peckinpah, and Jean-Luc Godard, the movie bypassed cinematic sophistication to address the counterculture directly.

‘Rosenbaum reprised the term in his review of Jim Jarmusch’s 1995 film, Dead Man, and in conjunction with Kael’s writing delineated the rough parameters of the makeshift subgenre. For Rosenbaum the acid Western refers to Jarmusch’s film foremost, and retroactively to a slew of films from the late 60s and early 70s that share Jarmusch’s inversion of the Western formula. These films generally posit an individualist journey that ends not in triumph but often in suffering and death—a narrative trajectory Dead Man summates in its very title. Rosenbaum elaborated thusly:

What I partly mean by ‘acid Westerns’ are revisionist Westerns in which American history is reinterpreted to make room for peyote visions and related hallucinogenic experiences, LSD trips in particular. […] Both ‘acid Westerns’ and ‘pot Westerns’ depend on reevaluations of white and nonwhite experience that view certain countercultural habits and styles in relation to models derived from Westerns, but where they differ most, perhaps, is in their generational biases, which lead them respectively to overturn or ironically revise the relevant generic norms.

‘At the time of their conception, acid Westerns extended the already-incipient trend of Western revisionism that was underway in Hollywood, sometimes by the genre’s most popular and radical practitioners. The most abrasive of these would be Sam Peckinpah, whose 1969 The Wild Bunch itself appealed to the counterculture’s more politicized faction for its potency as an analogy of violence in Vietnam. “The Western is a universal frame,” Peckinpah remarked, “within which it’s possible to comment on today.” Traditionally, the Western was an index of America’s exceptionalism, a document of the U.S.’s imperialistic growth. Acid Westerns are a response to this tactic, in that they’re generally more concerned with the suppression and hostility enacted to facilitate that growth. The first and purist examples were made in the late 60s, in which the counter-culture asserted a brief yet emphatic hold on the Hollywood machine.

‘This audience engendered the success of films in which heroes were decidedly anti-authoritative (The Graduate) and their plights strewn in prejudiced opposition (Easy Rider). But unlike its mainstream counterparts, the acid Western caters more specifically to a bohemian audience befitted by the influence of a hallucinogenic substance of some sort, the same audience that would give birth to the ritual of the midnight movie in the 70s. It is in this regard that the acid Western is exemplified in Alejandro Jodorowsky’s El Topo. Kael describes the film’s phenomenon as such:

Jodorowsky has come up with something new: exploitation filmmaking joined to sentimentality—the sentimentality of the counter-culture. They mix frighteningly well: for the counter-culture violence is romantic and shock is beautiful, because extremes of feeling and lack of control are what one takes drugs for. What has has been happening, I think, is that the counter-culture has begun to look for the equivalent of a drug trip in its theatrical experiences. I think it still responds to non-head movies if there’s a possibility of direct identification with the characters, but increasingly movies appear to be valued only for their intensity.

‘This “intensity” is a response to the violence in Jodorowsky’s film, but in a general sense it describes the tone of a true acid Western: a film that amalgamates the violent with the absurd in such a way that the result, to a specific audience, achieves a certain profundity.’ — Rumsey Taylor, Not Coming





Special Monte Hellman issue of ‘La furia umana’
The Mondo Esoterica Guide to: Sergio Corbucci
Andy Warhol Films
The Shrine to Don Knotts
Sam Peckinpah @ Senses of Cinema
Pagina Oficial de Alejandro Jodorowsky
‘Zachariah: The Quintessinal Hippie Movie’

Audio: Listen to Robert Altman discuss his career
‘Luc Moullet, a Bootleg Filmmaker’
The Films of Robert Downey Sr. @ Persistence of Vision
In Praise of Michael J. Pollard
Westworld Headed Back to the Screen
‘THE AVENGING CONSCIENCE: An analysis of philosophical themes in Clint Eastwood’s HIGH PLAINS DRIFTER
Lady of the Cake: A Mel Brooks Site
‘Rancho Deluxe’ @ The Internet Movie Database
Welcome to Arthur Penn Fansite


Responding to some questions about “Acid Westerns”


We’re approaching the acid Western as if it could satisfy a chapter in your book, Midnight Movies. At the time of its writing, how might you and J. Hoberman have denominated the films that have retroactively become known as acid Westerns (The Shooting, Greaser’s Palace, The Last Movie, El Topo, et al.)?

Jonathan Rosenbaum: I can’t speak for Jim Hoberman. As nearly as I can remember, I simply coined the phrase in order to group together several countercultural westerns — which included, by the way, some of the novels of Rudy Wurlitzer as well as some movies.

The first instance I’ve found of the term “acid Western” occurs in Pauline Kael’s review of El Topo in 1971, and she employs it in derogatory fashion, alluding to the pothead audience that extolled the film — an audience she admittedly did not belong to. Being that your use of the term is more academic, do you think that the acid Western was meant to be viewed under the influence of hallucinogenic substances?

Jonathan Rosenbaum: Maybe Kael used the term before I did and I unconsciously borrowed it. I certainly was a pothead in that period, but I probably disliked El topo as much as she did. I don’t know what you mean by “more academic,” unless maybe you mean more thoughtful or accurate. But since Kael or I coined the term, I can’t see how one can ascribe intentionality to the Westerns she or I or both of us might have been talking about. “Meant to be”? I don’t get that. But yes, some of these movies–as well as other movies, of all kinds–were viewed under the influence of hallucinogens.

How do you feel the more acid-centric, drop-out faction of the counterculture aligns with the politically engaged, anti-capitalist, “make love not war” wing? Wouldn’t these factions have been largely opposed, or is the acid Western perhaps emblematic of their common aims?

Jonathan Rosenbaum: You’re speaking in journalistic and/or academic categories — clichés, actually — that correspond to advertising pitches, not people. Some people I knew took acid and/or “dropped out” and/or were politically engaged and/or were anticapitalist and/or countercultural (to varying degrees) and/or wanted to fuck rather than fight. To some extent, I belonged to all of these categories, and so did some of my friends and acquaintances, but I’d hate to reduce any of us to these slogans or demographics. You might belong to any one or two of these labels and still not like any of the “acid westerns,” or you might like one or two or all of them. Fortunately, there were several possibilities, because, rightly or wrong, we all tended to think we were free and not simply suckers in an advertising campaign.

One of your postulations about the acid Western is that it uses the Western genre as a framework in which to advance a critique of conventional models of capitalism. Wouldn’t this make the acid Western adjacent to some of Sergio Leone’s Westerns, specifically Once Upon a Time in the West, which is in a general sense a critique of Hollywood imperialism?

Jonathan Rosenbaum: Maybe it was that, but I didn’t take it as such at the time — I took it as a sadistic form of high opera that valorized macho violence as well as capitalism and was liked for pretentious and/or campy reasons. But my response probably wasn’t at all typical. I recall liking the Morricone theme song, but not much else.

Do you think that the acid Western has its most integral component in a 60s counterculture audience, and as such may no longer exist in its truest form? The poor commercial performance of Dead Man, for example, indicates that the film may have been orphaned from its proper context.

Jonathan Rosenbaum: It’s my own impression that Dead Man actually did quite well commercially, at least over time. (Somehow, I suspect that my Dead Man book wouldn’t have gone into a 2nd edition and been translated into French, Czech, and Persian if its subject had flopped commercially.) Don’t confuse the obtuseness of Harvey Weinstein at the time of the original release with the world market between then and now, or even necessarily with the American market. And what about the Native American market, which the film explicitly addresses? I think the film did and does address some countercultural currents in its audience, wherever and whenever these currents happen to be, which doesn’t make either it or any of its fans orphans. It never played for or to any 60s audiences, so it’s fruitless to speculate about that, but when it came out three decades later, it clearly wasn’t speaking to a void.


22 films (1964 – 1976)

Oldřich Lipský Lemonade Joe (1964)
Lemonade Joe is an unhinged take on western tropes going all the way back to the days of silents, shot through with song, joyful lunacy, and a wry mocking of the capitalist thirst for profit. Featuring the toning effects of the early 1900s, undercranked fights, rapid editing, and wild camera angles, the film’s techniques are as kitchen sink as its tropes, all to its great benefit.’ — sakana1

the entire film


Monte Hellman The Shooting (1966)
‘Hellman’s masterpiece asserts that individual choice is often subverted by the moral objectivity of others. The film’s ending is a favorite among cinephilles and serves as a paradigm of Camus’s thinking—both stoic and humane, it champions the power of nature over violence. Rather than exaggerate the likeability of his characters, Hellman is more concerned with their very human flaws. We mourn their deaths because of this realism. Hellman fabulously fools around with western archetypes—here we have a faithful sidekick with a penchant for comedy, a scruffy yet likeable hero, an obnoxious yet empowered female, and a mysterious man in black. Hellman’s spatial dynamics are disorienting and his compositions remarkably political. In one shot, Hellman uses a tree trunk to split his frame in two: on one side stands the character played by Perkins, on the other stands Oates and Hutchins. Most startling, though, is Hellman’s refusal to give evil a definitive face.’ — Ed Gonzalez, Slant Magazine

the entire film


Giulio Questi Django Kill… If You Live, Shoot! (1967)
Django Kill… If You Live, Shoot! was described by film historian Howard Hughes as “difficult to pigeonhole”, noting it encompassed the Western, horror film, psychedelia, and splatter film genres, describing it as “the weirdest Italian made Western”. It is well known for the surrealistic violence and for the psychedelic editing of Franco “Kim” Arcalli. Phil Hardy defines it as “the most brutally violent spaghetti western ever made”. Describing the film, Christopher Frayling says that “the violence was of an extraordinarily savage kind”. Antonio Bruschini writes that “this film is the first western to offer a sample of truly horrendous scenes”. Marco Giusti defines the film as the most violent and bizarre ever filmed in Italy.’ — Wiki

the entire film


Sergio Corbucci The Great Silence (1968)
The Great Silence (Il grande silenzio, 1968), or The Big Silence, is an Italian spaghetti western. It is widely considered by critics as the masterpiece of director Sergio Corbucci and is one of his better known movies, along with Django (1966). Unlike most conventional and spaghetti westerns, The Great Silence takes place in the snow-filled landscapes of Utah during the Great Blizzard of 1899. The movie features a score by Ennio Morricone and stars Jean-Louis Trintignant as Silence, a mute gunfighter with a grudge against bounty hunters, assisting a group of outlawed Mormons and a woman trying to avenge her husband (one of the outlaws). They are set against a group of ruthless bounty hunters, led by Loco (Klaus Kinski).’ — thespinningimage.com



Andy Warhol Lonesome Cowboys (1968)
Lonesome Cowboys was shot at the end of January 1968 in Tucson Arizona – on location in Old Tucson and at the Rancho Linda Vista Dude ranch 20 miles outside the city where some John Wayne movies had been filmed. It was edited by Andy while he was recuperating from the gunshot wounds inflicted by Valerie Solanas on June 3, 1968 and won Best Film at the San Francisco Film Festival in November. Unable to find a major commercial exhibitor, Warhol rented the Garrick Theatre where it opened on May 5, 1969. According to Morrissey, the film grossed $35,000-40,000 during its first week, with only $9,000 spent on advertising. It was also booked at the 55th Street Playhouse at the same time where it broke the “single-day housemark”, taking in $3,837 at $3.00 per ticket. In the same day it made $2,780 at the Garrick. It also ran for twenty weeks at various art houses in Los Angeles, and 2 1/2 months in San Francisco under distribution by Sherpix.’ — Gary Comenas, Warholstars

Watch the entire film here


Alan Rafkin The Shakiest Gun in the West (1968)
‘This is a Don Knotts movie—and that says it all. It says, for one thing, that the plot deals with a weak little worm who turns and triumphs, after ten reels of old-style pratfalls. It also says that Universal City Studios will almost surely make $3,000,000 on an investment of $1,200,000. For Don Knotts comedies are what the trade calls “regionals”—movies turned out for rural audiences. In New York City, Chicago .and Los Angeles, the film Shakiest Gun was buried as a second feature after a Japanese-made disaster called King Kong Escapes. But it will pack them in as a feature in other areas, where Don Knotts is known and loved for his grape-eyed, slack-jawed frailty in the face of just about anything life sends his way.’ — Time Magazine

the entire film


Sam Peckinpah The Wild Bunch (1969)
The Wild Bunch (1969) is director/co-writer Sam Peckinpah’s provocative, brilliant yet controversial Western, shocking for its graphic and elevated portrayal of violence and savagely-explicit carnage, yet hailed for its truly realistic and reinterpreted vision of the dying West in the early 20th century. Peckinpah had earlier directed another classic western about the West’s passing, Ride the High Country (1962) and the epic western film Major Dundee (1965). Many of the film’s major stars, including William Holden, Edmond O’Brien, Robert Ryan and Ben Johnson, were veterans of westerns with a more romantic view of the West in the 40s and 50s. This hard-edged, landmark masterpiece of the Western film genre was beautifully shot in wide-screen by cinematographer Lucien Ballard. The film’s lasting influence has been seen in the imitative graphic violence of the films of Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, John Woo, and others.’ — Tim Dirks, filmsite


Excerpt: Final shootout


Alejandro Jodorowsky El Topo (1970)
‘With its druggy wanderings and inscrutable reveries, El Topo would be part of the revolutionary, post-’60s movement if its private mythology didn’t belong so obviously to its maker’s acid subconscious. “I am God,” El Topo at one point intones, and Jodorowsky completely means it: Playing deity in front of and behind the camera, the director uses film as a direct pipe into his own mind, and the bursting valise of ideas, images, and sounds that results is a veritable blur of ridiculous and sublime (and ridiculous-sublime) moments that defy ordinary readings while inviting (demanding, really) audience involvement via active interpretation. Whether one takes it as a staggeringly visionary work or a sadistic circus procession making an opportunistic grab for every artistic base (Buñuel and Zen, Eisenstein and pantomime, Antonin Artaud and Russ Meyer), there is no denying the immersive being of the film.’ — Fernando F. Croce, Slant Magazine



George Englund Zachariah (1971)
Zachariah (1971) is a film starring John Rubinstein as Zachariah and Don Johnson as his best friend Matthew. The film is loosely based on Herman Hesse’s novel Siddhartha, surrealistically adapted as a musical Western by Joe Massot and two members of the Firesign Theatre comedy troupe. The band Country Joe and the Fish perform as an inept gang of robbers (more adept as musicians) called “the Crackers,” who are always “looking for people who like to draw.” In the same vein, Zachariah boasts: “I can think, I can wait, and I’m fast on the draw.” This is a parody of Siddhartha’s famous line: “I can think, I can wait, I can fast.” This film is defined as being part of the Acid Western genre. More precisely, in its own publicity releases, it was called, “The first electric western.” This was, in no small part, because this film featured several appearances and music supplied by successful rock bands from the era, including the James Gang and Country Joe and the Fish. The movie also features former John Coltrane sideman Elvin Jones as a gunslinging drummer named “Job Cain.”‘ — jclarkmedia.com

the entire film


Robert Altman McCabe and Mrs. Miller (1971)
‘If Robert Altman’s movies in the early Seventies –- M*A*S*H, Brewster McCloud, McCabe and Mrs. Miller, The Long Goodbye –- reveal the overall impact of dope on movie consciousness, representing a halfway house between the softer dope influence of the Sixties and the harder edge it would take on in the early Seventies –- this is because they reflect so many of the stylistic changes reflected above, at the same time that they frequently allude to drugs in their plots. The use of overlapping dialogue and offbeat musical accompaniments (such as the Leonard Cohen songs in McCabe, the bird lectures in McCloud, and the multiple versions of the title tune in The Long Goodbye) created a dense weave that made each spectator hear and understand a slightly different movie -– and, given that these were crowded, widescreen features, see a different movie as well.’ — Jonathan Rosenbaum


Excerpt: Opening Scene


Luc Moullet A Girl is a Gun (1971)
‘In 1971, Moullet made his first color film, Une aventure de Billy le Kid, also known by its English title, A Girl Is a Gun. A psychedelic Western starring French New Wave icon Jean-Pierre Léaud, the film was never released in France, but was instead shown abroad in an English-dubbed version. The dubbing, conceived by Moullet as a tribute to the “shabbiness” he always admired in American genre films, is intentionally bad, and the short, slight Leaud is given a mismatched deep voice. Despite most Cahiers du cinéma critics admired many western authors, when they themselves became filmmakers few dared to overtly revisit that genre. One year after Alejandro Jodorowsky’s El topo and as Sergio Leone premiered A Fistful of Dollars, Moullet charges full steam ahead with a wild western starring Jean-Pierre Léaud, taking this genre and one of its key characters to unexpected territory.’ — mubi




Jim McBride Glen and Randa (1971)
‘Post-apocalyptic movies were, apparently, quite popular in the late 60s and early 70s. Glen and Randa (GaR) is very different from ’71’s big post-apocalyptic film: The Omega Man. Yet, the indie production of GaR is as obscure as the big studio film OM is famous. There are no hoards of zombies to battle. Instead, the story focuses on the two title characters (more clueless than heroic) and their quest for a mythical city. The film, which has been described as a psychedelic post-Western, got an X rating for its full frontal nudity. GaR shares with OM, the use of Biblical imagery woven into this view of post-apocalyptic earth.’ — collaged



Peter Fonda The Hired Hand (1971)
‘The following is said of Peter Fonda’s character in Steven Soderbergh’s 1999 film The Limey: “You’re not specific enough to be a person. You’re more like a vibe.” That sentiment also applies to Fonda’s trippy 1971 Western, The Hired Hand, which is the closest anyone will come to getting inside of Fonda’s head without going blind on ’shrooms and pharmaceuticals. Having delivered a huge hit for Universal with Easy Rider, the studio did what studios in the ’70s did: It gave full artistic control to a hippie visionary with no commercial instincts whatsoever. Not surprisingly, Fonda’s phantasmagoric Western bombed at the time, but it’s since been revived as a fascinating curio, one that thoroughly upends a genre built on action and machismo. It’s the most gentle of the post-Wild Bunch anti-Westerns, and one of the more gorgeously abstract.’ — The AV Club

the entire film


Dennis Hopper The Last Movie (1971)
‘Edited with a jarring, lyrical style, the movie has more in common with the psychedelic midnight movies of the late ‘60s and early ‘70s, like Alejandro Jodoworsky’s “El Topo,” than anything produced by a major Hollywood studio. However, in the wake of “Easy Rider” hitting the cultural zeitgeist and raking in box office receipts at once, Universal was all too eager to pick up Hopper’s tab. As a result, the actor went over budget and schedule, holed himself up in a private editing suite in New Mexico, and tore apart a more conventional edit to arrive at the final version. The shoot itself was as chaotic as one might expect from viewing the final product, infused with ample cocaine provided by the locals and free love antics. Ultimately, it became a documentary about its own production, the most meta movie in American history. The result may have been seen as a cautionary tale at the time, when it was maligned by critics and considered a flop. In retrospect, it’s a small wonder Hopper got away with completing the movie at all — and, decades later, it deserves to be seen as a rebellious masterpiece from a visionary artist at odds with the system consuming his fame.’ — Eric Kohn



Robert Downey Sr. Greaser’s Palace (1972)
‘I am about to embark on the most pointless exercise known to man and I’m not talking about teaching a pig to fly. (Which actually works with a mildly sedated porker and a small trebuchet.) I’m going to try and explain Greaser’s Palace to a group of people who probably have not seen the movie. Heck, even if you have seen the movie it’s pointless. You are probably thinking to yourself, “It couldn’t be that outlandish. Could it?” The entire movie is an anecdotal allegory for religion, Christianity to be precise. If you want to start splitting hairs, I think Catholicism is the basis for everything that comes to pass. Greaser’s Palace is a huge saloon in some tumbleweed town out west; we can identify it as being “a church” since people come running to watch the show whenever bells begin ringing. Seaweedhead Greaser is the Catholic Church as represented by a gunslinger with itchy trigger fingers. Why in the world does he have a mariachi band and his mother locked in wooden cages?’ — Badmovies.org




Stan Dragoti Dirty Little Billy (1972)
‘This is no typical, Tinseltown western. It’s more like The Making of a Sociopath, with Michael J. Pollard starring as displaced, 17-year-old Billy Bonney, in the days leading up to his evolution into the notorious Billy the Kid. Leaving New York City with his mom and (asshole) step-dad, the trio is first glimpsed arriving at a tiny Kansas cesspool named Coffyville; a DJANGO-like shanty town which keeps the entire cast continually ankle deep in dried mud, and with cinematographer Ralph Woolsey (THE MACK) bringing out the worst in the place. This is a true anti-western, without a character that you can totally warm up to, since they’re either inept, crazy, stupid or ruthless. Even the occasional moment of violence — like a barroom blowout — is quick, brutal and totally convincing. Unlike any western you’ve ever seen, this is McCABE AND MRS. MILLER’s evil brother.’ — Shock Cinema Magazine




Michael Crichton Westworld (1973)
‘Welcome to Westworld, where nothing can go wrong…go wrong…go wrong….Writer/director Michael Crichton has concocted a futuristic “Disneyland for adults”, a remote resort island where, for a hefty fee, one can indulge in one’s wildest fantasies. Businessmen James Brolin and Richard Benjamin are just crazy about the old west, thus they head to the section of Westworld populated by robot desperadoes, robot lawmen, robot dance-hall gals, and the like. Benjamin’s first inkling that something is amiss occurs when, during a mock showdown with robot gunslinger Yul Brynner, Brolin is shot and killed for real. It seems that the “nerve center” of Westworld has developed several serious technical glitches: the human staff is dead, and the robots are running amok.’ — Hal Erickson, Rovi




Clint Eastwood High Plains Drifter (1973)
‘Though occasionally amusing, in ways similar to A Fistful of Dollars and Akira Kurosawa’s Yojimbo, in which tough protagonists also manipulate weaker townspeople to humorous effect, High Plains Drifter is a brooding, surprisingly artistic Western, accented by a haunting score. Vigilante justice and broad depictions of good and evil tend not to work as well in stories set in the present day, because we’re all too aware of the damage Dirty Harry-style justice can do to the social fabric of the contemporary world. But it does work in Westerns, where the only law is the law of the gun. It’s a genre made for severe parables of justice and retribution like High Plains Drifter. At the end, Mordecai remarks that he still doesn’t know the stranger’s name. The stranger simply responds, “Yes, you do.” Mordecai understands, as do we. We understand that there are several ways to answer the question of the stranger’s identity, all equally valid.’ — AboutFilm.com



Sam Peckinpah Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973)
‘A companion picture to The Wild Bunch, being set in a similar period, Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid takes an entirely different approach. Here the focus is upon people rather than situations, with the title characters casting inky shadows over a memorable selection of ruffians. Completing Peckinpah’s complex and all-inclusive vision, John Coquillon’s photography remains striking. Filling the generous screen width with people and their trappings, Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid is beautiful in a downbeat way. The biggest weakness is the unstructured narrative, a major barrier to comprehending the story’s central third. Here the tale is difficult to follow, wandering aimlessly across the plain, intent on introducing a stream of bit parts. Interesting maybe, but also spotty and further clouded by the often-indistinct dialogue. In fact this last point is a real disappointment, given that the script is attractively dirty and direct — people say what they have too with little elaboration. So, Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid is a terrific Western with rather too many studio battle scars. Oh for what might have been!’ — Damian Cannon, Movie Reviews UK




Mel Brooks Blazing Saddles (1974)
‘Vulgar, crude, and occasionally scandalous in its racial humor, this hilarious bad-taste spoof of Westerns, co-written by Richard Pryor, features Cleavon Little as the first black sheriff of a stunned town scheduled for demolition by an encroaching railroad. Little and co-star Gene Wilder have great chemistry, and the delightful supporting cast includes Harvey Korman, Slim Pickens, and Madeline Kahn as a chanteuse modelled on Marlene Dietrich. As in Young Frankenstein (1974), Silent Movie (1976), and High Anxiety (1977), director/writer Mel Brooks gives a burlesque spin to a classic Hollywood movie genre; in his own manic, Borscht Belt way, Brooks was a central player in revising classic genres in light of Seventies values and attitudes, an effort most often associated with such directors as Robert Altman and Peter Bogdanovich.’ — Robert Firsching, Rovi


Excerpt: ‘I’m Tired’


Frank Perry Rancho Deluxe (1975)
Rancho Deluxe is a comedy western film that was directed by Frank Perry and released in 1975. Jeff Bridges and Sam Waterston star as two cattle rustlers in modern-day Montana who plague a wealthy ranch owner, played by Clifton James. The film also stars Harry Dean Stanton, Richard Bright, Elizabeth Ashley and, as the aging detective Harry Beige hired to find the rustlers, Slim Pickens. The script was by novelist Thomas McGuane, who was married to Ashley. The film was described as a form of “parody Western” by critic Richard Eder in his Nov. 24, 1975 New York Times review. “It is so cool that it is barely alive,” he wrote of the film’s general tone. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave Rancho Deluxe only one-and-a-half out of four possible stars. He wrote: “I don’t know how this movie went so disastrously wrong, but it did.”‘ — imdb.com



Arthur Penn The Missouri Breaks (1976)
‘On first release, Arthur Penn’s 1976 western found itself derided as an addled, self-indulgent folly. Today, its quieter passages resonate more satisfyingly, while its lunatic take on a decadent, dying frontier seems oddly appropriate. Most significantly, the film provides a showcase for a mesmerising turn from Marlon Brando as the regulator hired to wage war on Jack Nicholson’s reformed horse rustler. At the time of shooting, Nicholson was fresh from an Oscar for One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, his star in the ascendancy. And yet he appears happy to cede centre stage to his one-time acting idol. Not that Brando needs much invitation. Improvising his lines from beneath a series of comedy hats, he embarks on a merry dance from burlesque to menace and back again, while the picture frantically plays catch-up behind him.’ — The Guardian





p.s. Hey. Greetings from Los Angeles. First of all, I warn you that I have a bad head cold and the tail end of jet lag, so this will not be the most scintillating p.s. you’ve ever read for sure. Otherwise, for those interested in the film-related goings on, I’ve basically spent the week doing location scouting out in the desert area and lots of auditions and meetings, and all goes well so far. There are a bunch of potentially good things that are still little up in the air at the moment. I think we might have found our Director of Photography, which has been the most pressing task. He’s great, perfect really, and he seems enthusiastic to work on the film, and I’m hoping that’ll be cemented in the next day or so. We found a house location — 90% of the film takes place in one house — that we really like, and we’re waiting nervously to see if the owners will let us use it for a price we can afford. And we’ve found some exciting new people for the cast. And other stuff. So, so far so good. I’ll be able to be more concrete and say more in general the next time I see you here. ** CAUTIVOS, Hi. Yeah, those posts are a bit like ‘The Sluts, part 2’. But better written because I didn’t write them. Thanks, man, hope you had a good week. ** David Ehrenstein, Hi, David. That is quite a claim right there! Everyone, If any of you are in a position to help out the great writer and critic David Ehrenstein who’s going through rough period, please use this link to a Gofundme account set up for him and be as generous as your circumstances allow. Thank you! ** Bill, Psst, I had to look it up too. How was ‘I See Water’ all in all? I made it to here. My plane movies: ‘Elvis’ (attention filling and kind of very irritating), ‘Fast and Furious 9’ (fun enough), ‘The Woman King’ (okay), and ‘Ex Machina’ (did not like). What’s new on your side? ** Cody Goodnight, Hi, Cody! Thanks for coming back! Well, I love and share your tastes, so that’s cool. And me too: strangeness = comfort. How was your week? Find or read or see anything that knocked you out? ** Sarah, Hi, Sarah! Mm, I have the exact opposite of fondness for Machine Gun Kelly, and, like you, I can’t really explain that. Strange, isn’t it? I did like ‘Holy Mountain’. I think, ultimately, ‘El Topo’ is my favorite of his. How are you? What’s going on? Really nice to get to talk with you. ** Dominik, Hi!!!! Yeah, pretty busy and getting busier, but I guess that’s the point. Thank you for the wish. And for the love since I too wish I could figure out that escort’s name choice. What’s new? Tell me. Love making my head cold not prevent me from thinking of a clever form of love other than the good old fashioned kind, G. ** Kyle, Hi, Kyle! It’s very good to meet you. I’m very honored that my work impacted your film. And, sure, I remember Ryan, and I really like Maggie’s writing. Yes, I’d love to see the film, of course! Thank you! You can email it to me at denniscooper72@outlook.com. I’m excited to discover it! I hope everything is great with you, and thank you again very much! ** _Black_Acrylic, Hi, Ben! You’re an Oz ex-virgin, awesome. I’ll watch the Lynch/Oz doc as soon as my brain cells allow me to. You had a fine week, I hope? Fantastic news about the course! Listen, ‘Ben-like’ is an amazing compliment. Having something in your writing that’s recognisably yours may be the most important single thing a writer can possess. Great, congrats, man!!! ** Misanthrope, Thank you, kindly, sir. Me too! It’s make or break time. And your week? ** Cap’m, Cap’m! Way, way too long no see! HNY to you! How are you? What’s going on, old friend? Love quadrupled from me! ** Jamie, Hi, J! Apart from a very annoying head cold, things are good. We’re getting stuff done so far. The weather is very pleasant. People here think it’s cold, but, trust me, it ain’t if you’re from where we’re from. My week was not unlike a dark ride but not one designed by me unfortunately. Love having read that Madonna tickets are $1500 and wondering why you’re even considering forking out that much to see her. ** Robert, Hi, Robert. Things are pretty good, thanks. Still a little up in the air, but the signs are good anyway. My favorite place I’ve even been on a trip to? Japan, I think, pretty much hands down. I went to Antarctica, and that was pretty intense. But, yeah, I think Japan just in general. Iceland’s pretty amazing. Thanks for the train hoppers videos. I’ll get all over them. You good? I only drove through Mississippi, but it was pretty weird in the good way, at least from a car window. ** Ellie, Hi, Ellie! I have a very annoying head cold, but I’m good otherwise. Good lines you pulled out there. Um, I don’t know if they’re getting sweeter and funnier? I think it’s a crap shoot. I’m always looking for good sentences, nice or scary. The most exciting thing so far has been maybe finding our DP, this young Russian guy who’s so totally aligned with our thinking. Meeting with him was really invigorating. I hope he says yes. And getting to eat actual, really good Mexican food again was pretty great. What about you: excitement? I think of you as a friend too, so, yeah, let’s treat each other like ones. Oh, good, I’m really glad that meeting was chill and fun and even witchy. Very cool. I’ll look for Kenji’s new book, obviously. How curious. Oh, wow, the tumblr thing is awesome. Even with my horribly clogged head. You’re so nice and generous. Thank you! What else is new with you? ** shadeoutMapes🥐, Hey! This weekly schedule is weird. It reminds me of when you had to communicate with friends through delayed postal letters. Busy here too, but it’s going well. Given the money-determined smallness of our crew, I may have to end up getting people’s sandwiches. The ‘south’ is full of fiction writers, and some of them pretty good too, it’s weird. Or not? Great about the positive outcome of your obscure good news! Hm, how do you make coffee? Like what method? I just use one of those drip machines, and, yeah, the coffee is never better than serviceable/does its job. Can I just say the coffee here in LA is so much poorer than even the bleh-est coffee in Paris? I guess that’s not a controversial opinion. I think the person here who had the breakdown is or was about to return to school, so hopefully they’re okay or will let us know. I get up in California. I’m a big fan. It’s pretty much all over the place. You’ve got your gorgeous parts, you’ve got your very kind of ugly parts. I like SoCal/LA because it’s supposedly the only city on earth that’s famously two hours drive from every type of landscape the world has to offer. What do you especially like or not about NC? I hope you have a superb week, and talk with you soonish! ** Steve Erickson, Hi, Steve. If we shoot at the house location that looks likely at the moment, which is in Yucca Valley, near Joshua Tree, that’s about a 2 1/2 hour drive from LA. We’ll likely use people from the area for the smallest roles and as extras, but the main roles are played by people based in LA except for one French person we’ll be flying over from Paris. We’ll need to house the main cast and most of the crew, yes. As pleasantly for them as possible but very economically given our budget. We’re looking into that now. The weather’s very nice now, cool and only rainy in short stints. I haven’t seen any damage personally. Interesting and kudos about the B. Cronenberg interview. Have you see his new film? ** Nick., Hi, Nick.! Yeah, I was just saying to someone it’s like going back to snail mail. It’s interesting. Honestly, the highlight so far was finding a great DoP or cinematographer, this young Russian guy who has really great, wild ideas for the film and is exciting to talk with. Everything’s about the film work right now, and not much else, so that’s really the best thing so far. Food, hm … maybe this great Armenian/Lebanese food I had at a restaurant last night even though I ate way too much and am still suffering from that a little. Did you eat anything extraordinary lately? Awesome about the new friends and, of course, the cute boys. Nice, man! Your Kevin wish is very tender. I can feel the feeling from your wordage. Maybe you could find him? And Nelson Sullivan! I knew Nelson a little. I lived in NYC at the time he was shooting a lot of his videos. I saw him around a lot, and I think I’m in one of his videos, although I don’t know if that one saw the light of day. His archives, meaning all of his videos, etc., are at NYU/Fales Library. They have my archive too, and if you ever want to go look at them or anything, let me know, ‘cos I can probably get you in. Those were great, heady days in NYC, as you can tell. Thank god for Nelson or else so much would have just disappeared. I’m good, my friend, and you sound really good, which is awesome to hear here in my blackout phase. I would definitely be a silver guy and not a gold guy. Very nice about your silver accoutrement. I used to wear rings for a while. I liked them, but I don’t think I’ve worn anything jewelry-like in ages. I’m not sure that I could pull wearing them off at this point. I think I’m too much of a schlumpy dresser now. I should try, though. Hm. Here’s a question: if you ever made or were going to star in a horror movie, what would the evil villain/force be like? What or who, I guess? So lovely talking with you. Have an even better this week than last week. xo ** Ash Barrett, Hi, Ash! Welcome. First, amazing that my stuff inspired you. That’s like the dreamer’s dream. Your name sounds familiar, so maybe I’ve heard your work, but I’ll go find out for sure and investigate fully when I’m out of the p.s. and actually awake (I’m still in early coffeeing stages as I type). Yeah, if you play here, let me know. I’ll be in LA and/or environs a lot until late April, and unless I’m locked into film shooting out in the desert, I’ll love to meet and see you play. My email is denniscooper72@outlook.com if you need me that way. Anyway, thanks so much, and, yeah, I hope we can talk more at the very least. Love on and off camera back to you. ** Right. Maybe because I’m spending a lot of time right now out in desert area or because I was talking with someone here recreantly about LSD or both or neither, I seem have decided to restore an old post dedicated to Acid Westerns for you this week. I hope it suits. See you next Saturday.

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