Theda Bara Silent Era OG Goth Vamp Queen
Conjured by SeMeN SPeRmS on May 28, 2014
Story of a Junkie is a 1987 drama film directed by Lech Kowalski and starring John Spaceley. Distributed by Troma Entertainment. Filmed in documentary-style, the film follows the character of Gringo, a young man looking for fortune in New York, only to fall into heroin addiction.
The movie has amassed quite a reputation in certain circles for its depictions of hard drug usage in New York City’s East Village area. Many of the cast members, including leading man John Spaceley, are actual junkies. The numerous shooting-up sequences are reportedly entirely real, as are many of the drug dens and their denizens. Perhaps even more notable than the cinema verite structure is the almost total lack of moralizing on the part of the producers or its characters.
Lead actor Spaceley died in the early 1990s, reportedly from AIDS, which he contracted through intravenous drug use. His final moments are chronicled in yet another Lech Kowalski film, “Born to Lose: The Last Rock & Roll Movie”, a documentary about deceased former New York Dolls guitarist Johnny Thunders.
Troma Entertainment hails Story of a Junkie as one of the company’s best films; it’s one of the most well-known outside of the films directed by Troma founders Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz.
A harrowing, bloody story of heroin addiction that puts films like Trainspotting to shame, Gringo mixes documentary footage with staged scenes to show the life of addict John Spacely.
Perhaps you’ve seen him somewhere and just can’t remember his name. The face is about an enigmatic as they come: classic Roman features topped by a greasy dyed matt of slicked back blond hair, pirate-style patch covering his right eye and cigarette dangling from an ever-present smirk. Or maybe you’ve never really noticed him and could frankly care less who he is or was. To you, John Spacely is just another loser, a human being throwing their life away by indulging in the most shameless of self-satisfactions: drug abuse. The minute you learn he’s a card-carrying member of the Riders of the White Horse, you’re thoughts turn to how selfish and stupid he is, how addiction is for the weak and lazy. You now no longer wish to know anything about him, his life, or how he ended up strung out in New York City. Instead, you sneer down your self-righteous nose and blame him (and his kind) for all the problems of the world. Maybe it would help you to learn a little about who John Spacely is. Perhaps your perceptions will change when you learn what drove him to drugs and what he has to do on a daily basis to survive. One thing’s for sure, the minute you see the horrifying docudrama Story of a Junkie, you will think twice about ever attempting to use drugs. This film is as successful a PSA warning about the terrors of dependency that you will probably ever see. It makes the Hollywood glamorization of such struggling souls that much more laughable.
GRINGO Story of a Junkie is about as close to pure European neo-realism as an American movie is ever likely to get. It is also a stunning example of the cinema vérité style of filmmaking, the capturing of events as they happen without concern about continuity or performance. Part documentary, part confessional, this occasionally brilliant but always brave movie is an incredibly searing indictment on the use and abuse of drugs.
Whereas Tinsel Town tripe likes to romanticize the ritualistic intake of mind and or mood altering substances as a photogenic character flaw, Story of a Junkie tells it like it really is. Never once white washing or trivializing the life of a heroin addict, director Lech Kowalski and his cast of real life drug users draw us directly into the warped urban war zone where the vast majority of pusher and partakers exist. Never cringing from the sights, the sounds, the smells and the surreality of the real drug culture, the desperation is palpable and the danger, predominant. From how fixes are “cut” to the hierarchy in a shooting gallery, you’ll be hard pressed to find another film that tackles this terrible subject with more authenticity. It is drug abuse as slasher film, a frightening, sometime funny and often fatalistic representation of people living a life with a maniacal monkey on their back.
It’s impossible for us non-addicts to understand the struggles and the will to survive (if only for the next score) of the person hopelessly obsessed with using. But for some reason, we are no longer a society that accepts brutal honesty. Everything needs to be sugarcoated with a small fraction of hope inserted to keep us feeling safe and secure. Frankly, the plain truth is all that Story of a Junkie has to offer. Without its integrity, its desire to get to the very heart of this corrupt cosmos, all we’d have is a carnival sideshow, a scandalous showcase of pure exploitation. But because of the tales it tells and the people who tell them, Story of a Junkie transcends its trappings to become a work of astounding power.
Conjured by SeMeN SPeRmS on May 25, 2014
Dawn: Portrait of a Teenage Runaway is a dramatic made-for-television movie, which premiered on NBC on September 27, 1976.
The story follows a 15-year-old girl named Dawn Wetherby (Eve Plumb) who runs away from home to Hollywood and becomes a prostitute to support herself. Dawn finds herself taken under the wing of a tough-talking pimp named Swan. The film’s soundtrack features the song “Cherry Bomb” by The Runaways.
In Randal Kleiser’s telemovie Dawn: Portrait of a Teenage Runaway, Eve Plumb (The Brady Bunch) stars as Dawn, who leaves home at 15 for the glamour of L.A. Friendless, she is taken in by the smooth line of Swan (Bo Hopkins), who offers to be her protector. Before long, Dawn has become a streetwalker, with Swan taking a sizeable chunk of her earnings.
She finds true friendship in the form of another runaway, male hustler Alex (Leigh McCloskey) — whose own story would be delineated in a 1977 sequel, Alexander: The Other Side of Dawn. Having learned a lesson with its controversial airing of Born Innocent, NBC preceded the September 27, 1976, premiere of Dawn: Portrait of a Teenage Runaway with a “parental discretion” disclaimer.
Conjured by SeMeN SPeRmS on May 20, 2014
Marvin J. Chomsky directs this drama about a young girl (Linda Purl) who escapes her oppressive mother only to wind up on the lonely streets of Hollywood. Broke and with nowhere to turn for help, Hailey becomes trapped in the service of a pimp (Clifton Davis). With the help of his partner Russ Garfield (Louis Gossett Jr.), can detective Lyle York (David Soul), a former pimp himself, get Hailey off the streets?
The sister of ex-pimp and current Los Angeles Police detective Kyle York was murdered working the streets a few years ago. Since his reform, he has teamed with Officer Russ Garfield to clear the streets of under-age girls working in prostitution. Pretty, young runaway Hailey Atkins has been turned out. Down deep she wants to go straight but has had great difficultly escaping her pimp and doesn’t even have a place to go. York and Garfield go out on a limb to try and help.
Actors: David Soul, Louis Gossett Jr., Linda Purl, Clifton Davis, Carolyn Jones, Kathleen Quinlan, Lana Wood
Director: Marvin J. Chomsky
Writers: Hal Sitowitz, Ted Morgan
Producers: Aaron Spelling, Hal Sitowitz, Leonard Goldberg, Shelley Hull
Filming Locations: Los Angeles, California, USA
First Broadcast: Jan 16, 1977 (ABC TV movie of the week)
“Well, it was an eye-opener for me. I went with a male friend—a large male, physically strong friend—and we hung out in Hollywood and met and talked to some young prostitutes. Oh, the vacant stares in their eyes; the hopes for who they wanted to become. They wanted to become actresses. They had come to Hollywood, and they were sure that they could succeed. This was Hollywood Boulevard. You didn’t have to go far to look for this stuff going on” – Linda Purl on “Little Ladies of the Night”
Conjured by o~ SeMeN SPeRmS ~o on May 18, 2014