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House Of Tudor 

B-movie actors, pop culture purveyors, and internationally minded folkies.

Wednesday, Jul 11 2001
Bruce Campbell's role as co- producer and star of the cult classic Evil Dead makes him a living legend. While he could've just lived on his laurels, Campbell is a "working" actor, a blue-collar thespian who doesn't turn down jobs for the sake of false pride or misguided vainglory. He's appeared in such fine films as Congo, Escape From L.A., and The Love Bug, as well as a little-known masterstroke called Bubba Ho-tep, in which Campbell is an aging Elvis impersonator who teams up with an elderly black man (who thinks he's JFK) in order to stop a 2,000-year-old mummy who is stalking the halls of a convalescent center. In his autobiography, If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B-Movie Actor, Campbell takes the same approach to writing as he's taken to living and acting: He's down-to-earth, honest, funny, kind, and somewhat ridiculous. While you won't get juicy Hollywood scandals, you will get pragmatic advice on independent filmmaking from one of the nicest guys in the business when Bruce Campbell reads Thursday, July 12, at the Booksmith (1644 Haight at Cole) at 7 p.m. Admission is free; call 863-8688.

Subtitled "A Sci-fi/Pop Culture Escape From a World Gone Mad!," Planet X magazine is a return to a more optimistic time when every child wanted to be an astronaut and ice cream trucks were second in importance only to monster-movie matinees. In his Planet X interview with Sea-Monkeys and X-ray Spex inventor Harold Von Braunhut, contributor Erik Lobo admits, "Maybe we can't all find our state on a map or properly fill out a job application, but we can all name the three Rice Krispies guys." Rather than disparaging that fact, Planet X celebrates the giddy innocence of a childhood spent before disco. The magazine is obviously a labor of love -- Publisher Scott Moon saves up all year to release a single issue that will never pay for itself. A typical copy has only a handful of advertisements amongst dozens of articles and interviews with folks who live in grainy memory -- Creature Features host Bob Wilkins, Diver Dan star Frank Freda, Horror of Party Beach director Del Tenney -- as well as countless black-and-white images that will make you hop up and down on one foot and blow Yoo-Hoo through your nose.

The most recent "outer space" issue features space babe Vitina Marcus, the seductive "Green Girl" who appeared in two memorable episodes of Lost in Space, as the cover-girl for an issue that unanimously dismisses what contributing writer Will "The Thrill" Viharo calls "the dystopian vision of the future popular in current cyberpunk culture." Inside are comparisons of early space-espionage movies (from Project: Moonbase to Agent for H.A.R.M.); an in-depth analysis of the oft-overlooked British sci-fi puppet series Space Patrol and the seminal Angry Red Planet, which inspired future Oscar-winning special effects artist Robert Skotak; interviews with Rocky Horror Picture Show creator and star Richard O'Brien; and tributes to the Spotnicks (Swedish space-surf music from 1960), Starman (the Japanese answer to Superman), and Rocketman (the film serial that gave rise to Commando Cody, Spy Marshall of the Universe). There is also an informed roundup of sci-fi B-movies from the late '50s through the mid-'60s; a comprehensive breakdown of the varying guises of space menaces, from robots and gods to spores, goo, and ghouls; and reviews of early space-style music by the likes of Mel Torme, Ferrante and Teicher, Les Baxter, and Dick Hyman. From beginning to end, Planet X smacks of slingshots and chewing gum, which is all one really needs to save the world. "Thrillville" hosts a release party for the current issue of Planet X on Saturday, July 14, at the Werepad (2430 Third St.) with 16mm prints of the TV shows The Outer Limits, Lost in Space, and Space Patrol showing at 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $7; call 824-7334.

While guitar is the only instrumentation on Zeroone, the delicate and withering voice of Mia Doi Todd saturates those empty spaces left on the record (and in your bedroom) with peculiar textures and disquieting thoughts that vibrate in the air like wood moths. Written while Todd was studying butoh dance in Japan, the songs on Zeroone bear the lingering impressions of foreignness: an urgent stillness captured in a single note, phrasing that transforms the simple word "I" into tragic Gaelic verse, and the notion that the human experience is elevated through breath and tone. Lyrically, though, Todd is a Westerner -- albeit a Western expressionist -- disturbed by the complexities of sex. "Digital" describes procreation as a binary system and takes a view of fornication of which D.H. Lawrence would have approved. "Throw your body to the edge of crisis," she sings sweetly, "paradise is everywhere." In "Poppy Fields," the young Yale graduate sings about sitting on a bidet, showering her "flower of the decay that sets in/ When she lets in/ A guest for recreation/ No creation." In "Ziggurat," Todd laments her passing innocence, moaning, "They will take my island/ Of that much I'm sure/ The tides roll in from Thailand/ To pilfer my shores/ Grain by grain," before begging, "Hey you otter/ Crack open my shell/ Hey you oughta/ Dive deep for my pearl." Such words in the care of a more common voice might be repellent, but, unlike folk singers who depend on words, Todd has a gift that is almost entirely visceral.

Which makes her a perfect opener for the Clogs, a classically trained instrumental quartet led by Australian violinist/violist Padma Newsome. Like Todd's, Newsome's compositions are largely influenced by location and education. The son of an Adelaide poet and dingo expert, Newsome spent seven years in isolation on an ashram in the heart of the Outback before winning a Fulbright award to the Yale School of Music. While his works for bassoon, saxophone, guitar, percussion, and his own instruments bear the casual, loose-limbed shamble of Western improvisation, they are largely grounded in the classic folk musics of India and the Jewish Diaspora. At once familiar and alien, comical and disquieting, soothing and overwrought, the Clogs' music walks a fine line between radiance and darkness that is rarely achieved outside Hindu culture -- and even more rarely in a nightclub setting. Mia Doi Todd opens for the Clogs on Tuesday, July 17, at Cafe Du Nord at 9:30 p.m. Tickets are $5; call 861-5016.

About The Author

Silke Tudor


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