Cameron Jamie: Kranky Klaus / BB / Spook House
Three films by Cameron Jamie with live soundtrack music from The Melvins.
UK Tour November 2003
In these powerful films, underground US filmmaker Cameron Jamie explored the spook houses of Detroit in the days running up to Halloween and unearths unseasonally violent behaviour by a legendary beast called the Krampus at Christmas time in Austria. Jamie’s vertiginous takes on vernacular rituals are heightened by the sounds of highly influential band The Melvins.
Filmed in the white working-class suburbs of Detroit, Spook House reveals a community revelling in the macabre. Front lawns are transformed into cemeteries, kitchens become mausoleums and dismembered ‘bodies’ are prepared for cannibal feasts. Jamie’s camera tracks the celebrants as the nights become longer and darker.
In the snowbound villages of central Austria on 6 December, villagers congregate in homes to await a visit by a benign St Nicholas bearing seasonal gifts. They are also waiting for the Krampus, strange mythical beasts with shaggy coats and serious attitude. As St Nicholas rewards the good, so the Krampus punish the bad. Kranky Klaus tracks a herd of Krampus as they work their way through the village mauling and menacing to the very limits of acceptable intimidation.
Jamie’s acclaimed film of LA teenage wrestlers, BB, completes the trilogy. Kids jump from the tops of garages and slam into each other with chairs and ladders. Jamie’s raw black and white footage fuses with The Melvins’ pounding soundtrack to make what Jamie called “a purgatory state of being”. The primal and pre-modern confront the ‘civilised’ world in works of ominous intensity.
In the first UK tour of their collaboration, The Melvins performed the soundtrack music live with large-scale projections of Jamie’s films in music venues across England, culminating at The Forum in London on 28 November 2003.
A programme of talks and events accompanied Spook House, BB and Kranky Klaus including Cameron Jamie in Conversation with Alex Farquharson, Cameron Jamie and The Melvins, Noël Noir, an alternative Christmas panto and Backslang, a short film responding to Jamie’s BB project.
Kranky Klaus and Spook House are included in The Artangel Collection.
This project was supported by Arts Council England, Special Angels and The Company of Angels