Archive | August 11, 2019

Middelboe Chronicles, Part 32: The Magic Paintbrush

As with yesterday’s The Story of Flax, so with today’s The Magic Paintbrush (“Animated Tales of the World,” 2002, from China), a cruel and unreasonable ruler hungers for gold. This is a particularly beautiful film, drawn in the style of traditional Chinese art:

The film is so pretty that I can forgive the fact that the painters are all holding their paintbrushes in the Western way rather than in the Chinese way:

SciFi SongFest, Songs 85-87

85. David Bowie, “Future Legend / Diamond Dogs” (1974):

The line “Fleas the size of rats / sucked on rats the size of cats” is reminiscent of the gigantic mutated animals in H. G. Wells’ story Food of the Gods:

The line “With your silicone hump and your ten-inch stump” is reminiscent of William S. Burroughs’s reference to “electronic attendants who carry the weapons that are screwed into their stumps” in The Wild Boys: A Book of the Dead. (Bowie mentioned Burroughs as an influence on the song.)

Bowie and Burroughs, before reading my blog

Bowie and Burroughs, after reading my blog

The line “Hunt you to the ground they will / mannequins with kill appeal” is reminiscent of the deadly animated store mannequins in the Third Doctor story “Spearhead From Space” (1970):

The line “ten thousand peoploids split into small tribes / coveting the highest of the sterile skyscrapers” anticipates J. G. Ballard’s 1975 novel High-Rise (as well as the Seventh Doctor story based on it, 1987’s “Paradise Towers”):

The line “The Halloween Jack is a real cool cat / and he lives on top of Manhattan Chase / the elevator’s broke, so he slides down a rope / onto the street below” anticipates Tyler Durden’s prophecy in Fight Club: “You’ll climb the wrist-thick kudzu vines that wrap the Sears Tower”:

The line “This ain’t rock and roll! This is genocide!” anticipates the line “This ain’t no party! This ain’t no disco! This ain’t no fooling around!” from the Talking Heads’ 1979 song “Life During Wartime” (featured in an earlier installment of this SciFi SongFest, but the live version below is more fun than the version I posted before – indeed this is one of my favourite videos in this SongFest):

I don’t think David Byrne gets enough exercise though.

86. Michael Jackson, “Thriller” (1982):

From Bowie’s “Diamond Dogs” with “red mutant eyes” that “hide between trees” and “hunt you to the ground,” it seems a short step to the lines in Jackson’s song:

Creatures crawl in search of blood
to terrorize y’all’s neighborhood ….
Stand and face the hounds of hell
and rot inside a corpse’s shell

And Vincent Price’s spoken section for “Thriller” likewise parallels Bowie’s spoken intro for “Future Legend / Diamond Dogs.”

The line “There’s no escaping the jaws of the alien this time” is an obvious reference to 1979’s Alien, but perhaps a reference to 1975’s Jaws as well.

The music video for “Thriller” is both an extended homage to 1957’s “I Was a Teenage Werewolf” (as well as to various zombie movies) and a major influence on 1985’s “Teen Wolf.” The way Jackson breaks through the door may also be a nod to The Shining.

It is a great weight off my mind to know that Michael Jackson did not endorse a belief in the occult.

87. Jon Pertwee, “Who Is the Doctor” (1972):

Finally, what with Doctor Who references and songs with spoken-word sections, it’s a natural segue to this spoken-word Doctor Who song, from Jon Pertwee, the Third Doctor. The music is from Delia Derbyshire’s iconic arrangement of Ron Grainer’s Doctor Who theme:

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