Movies Till Dawn: Programming Notes – Summer Bummers

81dfrRHrzjL._SL1500_Everything you need to know about Artsploitation Films is summed up in the company’s moniker: the new North American film distribution label offers international titles that explore the link between arthouse and grindhouse features. The subgenres share more than a few square feet of common ground: it doesn’t take a protractor to draw a connecting line between the visually striking, taboo-breaking work of directors like Luis Bunuel, Lars von Trier and Werner Herzog (to name just a few) and filmmakers like David Cronenberg, George Romero, Larry Cohen and Jack Hill, whose output is usually consigned to the root cellar of blood-and-guts and trash movies. Artsploitation’s initial DVD/Blu-ray offers travel a similar path between raw and refined, though with varying degrees of success. The most audacious of the batch is German director Till Kleinert’s “Der Samurai,” a genre-bending psychological thriller about a by-the-books police deputy who discovers that a cross-dressing psychopath (a very intense Pit Bukowski) is dispatching the locals with a samurai sword. Amidst the references to werewolf movies and Japanese swordplay and copious amounts of gore, there a layer of subtext about sexual identity and male roles that keeps the whole thing from tipping into deliberate camp territory. The same can’t be said for “The House with 100 Eyes,” which purports to parody found-footage and serial killer tropes with a story about married lunatics struggling to capture their latest atrocities on camera. It’s neither inventive nor humorous, and the endless shaky-cam scenes of torture will wear down all but the most hardened horror fans. Continue reading

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Milk and Cookies in an Edible Shot Glass at The Dirty Cookie in Tustin’s Grand Opening Today

Cookies and Cream Shot glass filled. Photo by Ed Simon for The Los Angeles Beat. Filling cookie shot glass. Photo by Ed Simon for The Los Angeles Beat

A new concept in desserts comes to Orange County today at 6pm when the Dirty Cookie holds its Grand Opening TODAY at 6pm. The first 75 people in line receive a free cookie shot, and the first 10 get a free t-shirt.

So what is the Dirty Cookie’s specialty? A cookie, in flavors like chocolate chip, cookies ‘n’ cream and red velvet, baked in the shape of a shot glass. It is lined with chocolate so it doesn’t leak (and for more decadence too!). Then comes the fun part, you get it filled with your choice of almond milk, chocolate cream or vanilla cream and ‘Voila!’, cookies and milk on the go!

The Dirty Cookie is located inside the Union Market in Tustin’s The District. The street address is 2593 Park Avenue, Tustin. Come on out and have your cookies and milk!

Instagram @TheDirtyCookieOC

(949) 324-1574

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Velvet Margarita: Hollywood’s Kitschy Cantina

drinksHollywood Boulevard between La Brea and Gower is like show business Disneyland. With El Capitan, The Roosevelt, Hollywood & Highland Center and the Wax Museum, the neighborhood is a tourist mecca. Not to mention the stars on the Walk of Fame. Most locals only go there to see movies at The Egyptian and to eat at Musso & Frank’s.

If you do find yourself ferrying out-of-town relatives around the glamorous Boulevard, you can always duck into the Velvet Margarita for a respite. Sure, it’s still kind of like Disneyland inside, but it is a cool Disneyland. Walls and ceilings are adorned with sparkly silver sombreros, Dia de los Muertos figures and the velvet paintings for which the restaurant is named. The music is a mixture of inoffensive punk rock (The Ramones) and 70s guilty pleasures (The Piña Colada Song). The service is extremely friendly and there is a huge patio in the back that features live music.

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Stiff Little Fingers Takes Over the House of Blues this Weekend

Jake Burns in Seattle (Photo from There's Something Hard in There. Used with permission).

Jake Burns in Seattle (Photo from There’s Something Hard in There. Used with permission).

“It’s been thirty-[six] years since Stiff Little Fingers launched their debut album, Inflammable Material, into a severely agitated United Kingdom. A first-hand account from the heart of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, the band’s righteous spirit and urgent delivery established them as one of the brightest lights of second-wave UK punk.” Still standing tall under the leadership of singer/guitarist Jake Burns, the band – which also includes original bassist Ali McMordie, drummer Steve Grantley and guitarist Ian McCallum, will be playing the House of Blues on Sunset Friday night supported by The Briggs and Ricky Warwick, and the House of Blues Anaheim on Saturday night with local punk stalwarts Channel 3 (CH3). Do not miss this one.

Above quote from Bob Lee’s 2014 interview with Jake Burns.

To check out a write-up of their Seattle show, check out There’s Something Hard in There.

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The Big Bite Bacon Fest is Coming to the Queen Mary this Weekend with a New Young Chef

Dia de los Puercos crew 2014. Photo by Ed Simon for The Los Angeles Beat.

Coming up this weekend is the 2nd Annual Big Bite Bacon Fest. Due to popular demand, the event this year has been expanded to both Saturday and Sunday sessions. Last year’s favorite Chef Rick Garcia of the Dia de los Puercos Truck will be there, but this year Chef Rick is also mentoring the youngest chef at the event, Chef Isaiah Rosario. Chef Isaiah, at age 16, is in charge of his own truck at the event, the FryFry Truck, but he will also be working with his mentor, Chef Rick. I caught Chef Isaiah for a few minutes to interview him about the Big Bite Bacon Fest.

Q: How’s it feel to be the youngest chef at the Big Bite Bacon Fest?

You know, it’s pretty good and I’m competing with all these great chefs, but I’m also using this as an experience.

Q: What special dish are you making for the Big Bite Bacon Fest?

I’m making a Deep Fried Bacon-stuffed Twinkie. It’s a Twinkie that has bacon and it’s fried–you don’t have one every day! Continue reading

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Grindhouse Classics Maniac Cop 1 & 2 Screen Next Wednesday at the Egyptian Theater with William Lustig

“Maniac Cop” was originally intended to be a solid no-frills drive-in horror film with lots of guts, both literally and figuratively, and it succeeds with gritty abandon. Despite the artistic and intelligent overlay of its creators, director William Lustig (Maniac, Uncle Sam) and screenwriter Larry Cohen (It’s Alive, Phone Booth), at the time of its inception there wasn’t too much to be read into the film. The cries of “police brutality” from the sixties were long gone, and the film goes to great lengths to not delve into stereotypes of the NYPD. Instead, it stays faithful to this new horror character of a silent slasher comparable to Jason Voorhees of “Friday The 13th,” or Michael Meyers of “Halloween” fame and dresses him up in the seemingly safe uniform of a police officer.

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Listen to LA Beat Writer Ed Simon Discuss the Blues Friday on the Laguna Blues Radio Show at KX93.5 FM


UPDATE: The show has been moved to August 7th

On July 31st at 7pm, our own Ed Simon will be the guest of the Laguna Blues radio show, hosted by noted local blues musician Kenny “Big Daddy” Williams. They will discuss the influence the blues has had on American music and Ed will tell some of the stories about musicians he’s known. The show will be broadcast live on KX93.5 FM and streamed on

Ed’s various careers and hobbies have always centered around music and sound. A longtime lover of the blues, at age 14, Ed was loaned a Hofner Bass from a friend. Playing gigs every weekend, he soon earned enough money to buy his prized Fender Precision Bass. He was off into the world of blues and rock and earned a spot as a music major at CSUN as one of the few electric bass players then playing.

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Thursday Night: Back of the Hand All-Stars Play Mrs. Fish in DTLA with CeeKay Jones & the Wylde Bunch and Marley Munroe

Back of the Hand All-Stars thursday-flyer

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Let’s Rock This Joint! The Mick Rock Interview At The Morrison Hotel Gallery

Mick Rock

Mick Rock

Were the earth to suddenly start spitting out creative geniuses in the world of music photography, surely they would materialize at the Morrison Hotel Gallery.  The works of some of the most seminal photographers in the annals of music photography have either passed through these doors, or will be someday.

Recently I had the opportunity to meet with legendary photographer Mick Rock. With a name tailor-made for what he does, a bit of swagger, and a charm that’s irresistible, he sat down with me to tell me about his show premiering on Ovation, and his works past and present.

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Movie Review: “Dark Was The Night”

darkwasthenight“Dark Was The Night” is a thriller directed by Jack Heller, starring Kevin Durand and Lukas Haas. The movie, shot mostly in cold, blue lighting, is the story of a small town called Maiden Woods that is suddenly plagued by a vicious creature. The town’s defenders are Sheriff Paul Shields (Durand), who is grieving in stoic silence for a son whose death he blames himself for, and his quiet, thoughtful deputy, Donny (Haas), recently relocated from New York after surviving a gunshot incident.

After a logging crew is attacked in the woods, elsewhere in the area, the Maiden Woods residents wake up to discover large, strange footprints in the snow all over the town (a reference to this legend, apparently). Farm animals go missing and the game in the woods starts to disappear, and a local bar owner who is part Shawnee starts spreading stories he heard as a child about spirits in the woods. The movie is engaging as it builds on this creepy atmosphere, allowing us only glimpses of the monster until the very end. Paul and Donny are also likeable, realistic characters,  neither of them cocky action heroes or super sleuths. There are some nice touches here and there, such as when the tall, lumbering Paul meets his wife (Bianca Kajlich) and surviving son at a diner, and he crouches over the little table awkwardly, due to his size. Much is made of the town’s expectations of Paul to protect them, contrasted with the shame he feels at failing to save his son, so it seems appropriate that his family is small in stature.

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