26 March 2013

Flaming Creatures is the notorious, experimental film created by Jack Smith in 1962 that went on to cause controversy around the world and established the director as one of ‘the great visionaries of American film’. 

On a rooftop above one of New York’s oldest (and now demolished) movie houses, characters disrupt gender and sexual norms as they act out carnal fantasies on a set resembling an Arabian harem. Lux describes the film as a ‘a delirious home-movie’ featuring ‘Arabian odalisques, Spanish dancers, blonde vampires, and sultry beatniks’

With the film seized at it’s premiere in New York, and then going on to be officially determined to be ‘obscene’ by a New York Criminal Court, Flaming Creatures has always been one of the most provocative and controversial films produced in the 1960s. The director Jack Smith however insisted the film is meant to be funny, describing it as ‘a comedy set in a haunted music studio.’ 

With the film being banned around the world, underground and unofficial screenings began to take place as the film's reputation grew. After a film festival in Belgium refused to show the film, Jean-Luc Godard, Agnes Varda and Roman Polanski were all invited to a secret hotel room screening hosted by the Lithuanian artist, photographer and film maker Jonas Mekas. 

Describing the filming process, Tony Conrad who produced the film’s soundtrack said ‘There were lots of weird substances being consumed and strange people arriving on the scene’

The film that ‘defined underground cinema for a generation’ is still rarely shown in cinemas. It screens as part of The Art of Pop Video film programme, in collaboration with Tate Liverpool, tonight at 6.30pm, tickets are available now online, by phone on 0871 902 5737 or from the Box Office.

The Art of Pop Video film programme continues on 10 April with All Tommorrow's Parties, a documentary charting the rise of the legendary alternative festival.