If you have cable, and love cool shit, you must seek out the EL REY network (if you have Time Warner, its channel 797, at least in Brooklyn). The man who gave the world some of my favorite post-modern grindhouse epics - including PLANET TERROR is behind it, Roberto Rodriguez. The big series being launched is a TV version of FROM DUSK TIL DAWN, which has a great pace, spreading the events of one night into the entire season, with hallucinations, ancient curses, Spanish conquistador heritage, reptillian blood lines, Mayan sacrifice, a snake cult hierarchy that connects forever CURSE OF THE SNAKE WOMAN to the writing of David Icke and even a dash of inverted SNOW WHITE and the poster art below is beguiling as is the actress in the much more fleshed-out role of Santanico Pandemonium (Eiza González Reyna), the queen of the whatever (dig the subliminal resemblance of her neck blood to some ornate Aztec queen frill color - but also the way it looks like rather than blood drippings, it looks like flesh colored paint is dripping down her blood-colored neck). A second season is in the works, and it's all just the beginning for El Rey, which has channel ads that are smash cut vintage grindhouse images all layered with celluloid stresses, lines, cigarette burns, emulsion scratches, and bright, flashy colors. Between this channel and the Alamo Drafthouse, Texas is officially becoming the last bastion of the drive-in.
One of my pet fantasies is having my own cable channel, wherein I could just show all my favorite stuff, and I love that one man, whose taste in trash is impeccable, basically has such control over a channel, so we have cherry-picked shit stretching back to the 70s through to now: reruns of STARSKY AND HUTCH, X-FILES, and DARK ANGEL to name a few (he's tight with the hot Latina American goddess Jessica Alba, and fellow indie auteur Cameron, presumably). Not that I'm a fan of all them, but look at the overarching theme - badassitude!
For example, right as I write this he's interviewing Carpenter, showing some of the best of his early stuff (not HALLOWEEN or THE THING interestingly): THE FOG, ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13, ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK and BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA. Damn right. I can hardly wait to see who's next! His choices for Grinhouse Fridays show a definite familiarity with the good stuff vs. the dross: NIGHT OF THE COMET, SHAFT, HEAVY METAL, FROM BEYOND, DAY OF THE DEAD... the kind of cherry picked greatness only one familiar with the genre would know, and one with a keen eye would appreciate. In short, it's a fan's dream. Then there's the kung fu, shown in English but with quality sound effects and dub jobs, which somehow makes it all right, especially as they're all in widescreen, from the Dragon Dynasty versions released by Miramax a few years ago, shit like FIVE ELEMENTS NINJAS and EIGHT-DIAGRAM POLE FIGHTER. Again, it's the fan's eye view. But it's clear that like me Rodriguez is a Hawksian to his core. HAWKSIAN!
|My new hero, the 21st century's JC|
What's been so strange is the way the press junkets Rodriguez has been on focus the channel's name and 'Hispanic' or 'Latino' aspect, as if the show's Telemundo or something. It's in goddamned English, and its Mexican-American aspect exists only via Roberto's chosen filmic locations and the multi-racial, Tex-Mex-American slant of el casto. It's way off the mark, this is simply a cool channel, reflecting--which is rare even in our allegedly post-racist age--an accurate depiction of America. With programming that reflects what Rodriguez would put on when his drinking buddies come over for a party weekend. The channel's still pretty young --the advertising is mostly junk like those scrunchy hoses, Flex-Seal, and Rosetta Stone, but I couldn't be more excited for this gonzo channel's future, or devoted to the great Robert Rodriguez for this ambitious move. And I've never been happier to see car commercials, the first sign El Rey rides... to victory!