Tattoo You

  • videoarchives
  • August 30, 2022

You can cut off our hand in a 300 year old Satanic ritual, but you can’t keep The Video Archives Podcast down!

Quentin, Roger & Gala gaze into the mysterious futures of The Illustrated Man, then stick with star Rod Steiger as he gets cuckolded in Claude Chabrol’s Dirty Hands. Finally, you’re not ready for “the greatest crawling hand movie ever,” Demonoid: Messenger Of Death! I’ve got tons of VHS covers and bonus material this week on Counter Talk, so let’s get right into it…

I’ll be straight with you, dear reader: I had not heard of The Illustrated Man until it was teased on KHJ Radio in Once Upon A Time In Hollywood. A Ray Bradbury anthology adaptation that not even Ray Bradbury liked very much, Jack Smight’s film handles chewy sci-fi stories in a Twilight Zone vein with a lot of pomp and portentousness. Of course, the film is worth watching for Rod Steiger’s wild-eyed opening performance alone (and today’s episode is worth listening to for Quentin’s performance as Rod Steiger alone).

The Illustrated Man’s awkward execution is matched by this awkward VHS cover from the Archives collection, where three different shots of Carl’s tattooed back (really, the same shot in varying degrees of close-up) look faded and unclear, the title treatment is small and cramped, and everything resists catching the eye:

This box description takes a lofty first swing for some movie marketing copy: “We look to science fiction to glimpse the future…”

This alternate cover has a little more clarity, giving us a glimpse at one of the stories within the story - but the tattoos in this design, shared with the earlier Warner cover, are so much less striking than Steiger’s actual marked-up body in the film.

Compared with the film’s original poster, this extremely-1969 doodle with Steiger in half-paisley silhouette, the VHS designs look all the more baffling.

Roger, the biggest sci-fi fan of the bunch, brought his well-loved copy of the Illustrated Man short story collection to our taping, referring to it at points throughout the discussion. I absolutely love this book cover, with a bald, large-headed depiction of the Illustrated Man that looks nearly alien, staring out at a freakishly red sky.

If you look up our next feature online, you’ll find that it’s best known here in the States as Innocents With Dirty Hands - but don’t you dare call it that at Video Archives! The tape cover is the supreme authority here, and our Wizard Video tape lists the film as, simply, Dirty Hands, with Romy Schneider lounging across Rod Steiger’s enormous disapproving face:

Claude Chabrol was easily the most prolific of the French New Wave directors, making over 50 films between 1958 and 2009. He was also much more keen to embrace genre and Hitchcockian crime stories than peers like Truffaut and Godard. It can be daunting to explore the work of directors with long filmographies, but Dirty Hands is a fun potboiler that makes a fine entry point into golden age Chabrol (though you won’t find it streaming, you’ll need to pick up a hard copy). Remember: “If it doesn’t gel, it isn’t aspic!”

Our final film was the find of the episode, and maybe our favorite exploitation film discovery so far. Demonoid (also known as Demonoid: Messenger Of Death) is a blast, hopping between locations across the world for set piece after set piece, with inventive direction and a central conceit that propels an unpredictable plot. If Quentin & Roger’s passion for the film didn’t sell you enough, just look at this unbelievable cover worthy of an 80s heavy metal act:

Let’s take a closer look at the poster used for this cover, in full color so you can appreciate the beautiful deep blue shading of the background face. My favorite detail: the warning that “certain scenes may be too shocking for those of you who are not true believers in the Devil!” As a confirmed non-Satanist who heedlessly watched this, I haven’t started crying blood or vomiting locusts yet, but I’ll inform you all if that changes.

Here’s Gala’s Video Treasures copy of Demonoid, brought up during the episode - it may be an LP tape but the blood red cover has really held up:

This week’s featured fan photograph comes from @tompaulwilson on Instagram and Twitter! There are a few Tarantino + Avary Easter eggs hidden in the photograph … can you spot them all? Be sure to let us know!

Finally, Did you all know that you can catch Video Archives screenings at The New Beverly? We love seeing pictures from your time at the theater, so make sure to tag us with your photos!

This week’s “At the New Bev” feature goes to @vhs_spectacular, who brought their very own VHS to the screening! They also shared a picture of the tip cups. Who would you give your money to?

And that’s it for this week! Do you know how to find the original Demonoid artwork? Tell us! Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, rate us on Apple and Spotify, and keep on listening, as we’ll have even more discussion of these films next week on the After Show.