Nico B. has directed the underground shorts Pig (1998) and 1334 (2012) and the feature Bettie Page: Dark Angel (2004). He has been running Cult Epics, a distribution company with a deep catalog of obscure, extreme, and downright weird movies, for the past 25 years.
TWO FILMS BY ONE DIRECTOR
1. & 2. I Was a Teenage Zabbadoing AKA I Was a Teenage Zabbadoing and the Incredible Lusty Dust-Whip from Outer Space Conquers the Earth Versus the 3 Psychedelic Stooges of Dr. Fun Helsing and Fighting Against Surf-Vampres and Sex-Nazis and Have Troubles with This Endless Titillation Title AKA Vampiros Sexos (1988), and Mondo Weirdo: A Trip to Paranoia Paradise AKA Jungfrau im Abgrund (1990), dir. Carl Andersen
I Was a Teenage Zabbadoing‘s long title alone says this must be the weirdest movie ever, but it’s nothing you expect. In 1989 we invited the director Carl Andersen to the Cult Club in Amsterdam to show this movie, but instead he gave us the premiere of his next film, Mondo Weirdo. Teenage Zabbadoing, shot on 16mm, is in part the Austrian answer to theof Richard Kern and , but even more it’s a European punk rock hardcore sex vampire film, stylistic and trashy at the same time, with an excellent no-wave score by Model D’oo.
Mondo Weirdo, Carl Andersen’s second film, is in the same style as his debut, with a script likemeets It surpasses the first one in obscenity: straight, lesbian and hardcore gay sex in a world of vampires, punk rockers, and surrealism, again with the electro music of Model D’oo. Carl sadly died a few years ago, nearly forgotten.
Advertised in Europe as a Western, El Topo, Jodorowksy’s trippy masterpiece, is my favorite surreal esoteric film, along with Holy Mountain. I met Jodorowsky in the early 1990s at his home in Paris and asked him if the rights for these two films were available and if we could make a deal. He closed his eyes and meditated for 10 minutes while I stood there, and then said “yes.” Little did I know he did not own the rights, nor did he have any 35mm materials, so nothing ever came of it. Years later he finally settled his dispute with Allen Klein (manager of the Beatles) and the films became available for the first time officially on video.
5. & 6. Viva la Muerte (1970) and I Will Walk Like a Crazy Horse (1973), dir. Fernando Arrabal
I was a fan of Arrabal at once after someone brought me a VHS tape from Spain of Viva la Muerte for my birthday. Little did I know it would change my life. A year after, when shooting Miles, my next film after Pig, with Jodorowksy, I asked him what ever happened to Arrabal, his partner in crime in the Surrealist-influenced Panic Movement in the 1970s (was the third member). Jodorowsky told me Arrabal was in Paris, and the next day I met with him. We connected and made a deal to release Viva La Muerte, which was the start of a seven year journey to release all seven of his films, including his documentaries. Viva la Muerte is a surrealistic political masterpiece, and the followup I Will Walk Like a Crazy Horse is a surreal journey of self discovery through nature. Both films include some of the most provocative scenes ever filmed.
7. & 8. Attraction (1969) and The Howl (1970), dir. Tinto Brass
Tinto Brass, the Maestro of Erotica who became famous for taking his director’s credit off the movie Caligula, previously made two surrealistic masterpieces. Attraction is an avant-garde cut-up technique erotic film about a woman meeting a black man in London in the 1960s, with and excellent psychedelic score by the band Freedom (a Procol Harum spinoff group). The film inspired Paramount to offer him the chance to direct the adaptation of Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange. This never happened because Tinto was eager to direct The Howl first, an anarchistic punk rock surreal work, starring the gorgeous Tina Amount, daughter of Maria Montez.
ONE TIME DIRECTORS
9. Death Bed: The Bed That Eats (1979), dir.
In 2003 a journalist named Stephen Thrower contacted me and recommended I should see this film, an obscure never-released US horror film. I remember seeing it the first time; after 10 minutes I thought it was your usual horror film, something companies like Blue Underground or Synapse Films should release, not Cult Epics. But was pleasantly surprised that as I watched it, it became one of the strangest films I have ever seen. People die and red roses start blooming in the gardens of an abandoned house in this surreal film featuring the ghost of one of my favorite artists, Audrey Beardsley (illustrator of Oscar Wilde’s “Salome”). Obviously it was never released because it was too weird, made by an intellectual who later ran a book store. Death Bed became known as an arthouse film meets b-horror movie, made famous by a sketch by comedian Patton Oswalt shortly after the DVD release. George Barry film career ended right there, as it took 30 years before the film was finally released. See it to believe it.
10. Angst (1983), dir. Gerald Kargl
In 1985 I saw Angst. It became one of the top ten most disturbing film experiences I would never forget. Using experimental but engaging camerawork-on-acid, the film follows a murderer on a killing spree through Austria a day after being released from prison. It includes one of the most shocking scenes in film history. It took me thirty years to finally find the film rights to be able to release it. Little did I know when I first saw it that Klaus Schulze composed the score, or that it was based on a true story of the Austrian serial killer Werner Kniesek (making it the Austrian predecessor to Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer), or that Gaspar Noé considered it one of his favorite films. Gerald Karl made only one movie, as Angst lost the equivalent of half a million Euros. He never recouped his investment because the fact that film would be banned in UK, rated X or NC-17 in US, and was too weird for general audiences. Now a classic serial killer film can finally be seen.
Cult Epics is a film distribution company, originally founded in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, in 1991, specializing in controversial art films with a cult following. The first works Cult Epics acquired for distribution were The Exotic Dances of Bettie Page; Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer; Cannibal Holocaust; and Tokyo Decadence. In 1998, Nico B, the company’s founder, moved to the US and continued acquiring rights and releasing cult movies on video in the art-house, horror and erotica genres, specializing in the work of such directors as Walerian Borowczyk, Tinto Brass, Jean Genet, Fernando Arrabal, Rene Daalder, , Radley Metzger, and Irving Klaw, among others. The Cult Epics releases Viva La Muerte, The Beast, School of the Holy Beast, Un Chant d’Amour, In a Glass Cage, and most recently Angst have been distributed theatrically across North America, screening at the American Cinematheque, Cinefamily, Lincoln Center Film Society, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, UCLA’s Hammer Museum, and other venues. A retrospective of Cult Epics releases was shown at Harvard University in 2011. Cult Epics has since made over 150 movies available on home video in the USA & Canada distributed through Ryko/ADA (Warner Brothers), Entertainment One and CAV.
Cult Epics founder Nico B directed the 1998 underground horror film Pig, the last work from acclaimed singer/songwriter Rozz Williams (Christian Death) before his passing. Pig premiered at the American Cinematheque in Los Angeles and went on to play at film festivals around the world, including the highly regarded Rotterdam Film Festival. Nico B directed a follow up film, 1334, in 2011. In 2004 he wrote, produced and directed the biographical movie Bettie Page: Dark Angel, which premiered at the San Francisco Film Festival. Between 2005-2009 he wrote, produced and directed the film SIN.
Cult Epics is based in Los Angeles and continues to release rare cult films, both the sought-after and the unknown, the mainstream and the underground, for a new generation of hardcore fans.