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Director’s Statement In   1975,   Kent   Smith,   29,   and   Bill   Paxton,   19,   produced   approximately   half   of   a   feature film   in   Wales   with   an   amateur   cast   and   crew   and   a   $20,000   budget.   The   script   by   Smith was   based   on   the   1973   kidnapping   of   John   Paul   Getty   III.   Their   stash   of   35mm   B&W negative   was   comprised   of   “short   ends”   from   Bob   Fosse’s   Lenny.   Their   camera   was   an old   Arriflex   adapted   for   Techniscope,   a   wide   screen   format   which   required   half   as much stock as Cinemascope. They   intended   to   shoot   in   Morocco,   as   dictated   by   the   script,   which   was   influenced   by the   work   of   William   Burroughs,   complete   with   illegal   drugs,   polymorphous   perversity, international intrigue, and existential paranoia. The   duo   flew   to   Spain,   where   they   rented   a   car   and   ferried   across   the   Mediterranean   to Tangiers,    where    they    were    arrested    for    attempting    to    make    a    movie    without government sanction. Kent secured their release with a bribe. Back   in   Spain,   Bill   remembered   he   had   friends   in   Wales   on   whom   he   could   rely.   They spent   the   next   six   weeks   in   Wales   casting   and   crewing,   adapting   the   script   to   fit   the locale, and running and gunning. Influenced   by   Italian   cinema,   they   recorded   no   sound   on   set,   intending   to   dub   the dialogue    with    professional    voice    actors    in    Hollywood.    After    money    ran    out,    they returned    to    LA,    where    I    was    privileged    to    see    all    ten    hours    of    their    dailies.    Kent attempted for several years to raise finishing funds to no avail. Four   years   later   in   my   last   year   of   film   school   at   UT   Austin,   I   persuaded   Kent   to   lease me    the    footage,    from    which    I    culled    60    minutes    of    provocative    footage.    After assembling   a   small   team   of   students,   faculty,   and   local   professionals,   we   rewrote   the story   setting   it   in   a   dystopian   future,   adding   themes   of   militant   feminism,   geo-political upheaval,   and   mind   control.   New   scenes   were   shot,   and   the   sound   was   built   from scratch. The   influence   of   William   Burroughs   grew   more   pronounced,   to   which   I   added   the counterbalance   of   Valerie   Solanas,   author   of   The   S.C.U.M.   Manifesto.   (SCUM   stands   for the   Society   for   Cutting   Up   Men.)   From   Burroughs,   I   secured   the   use   of   text   from   his novella Blade Runner (a movie), which was worked into the script. Completed   in   1983,   Taking   Tiger   Mountain   was   briefly   distributed   by   Horizon   Films   and exhibited   In   the   US   by   the   Landmark   theater   chain.   Despite   some   positive   reviews,   the critical   consensus   judged   it   a   noble   experiment   with   bits   of   brilliance,   fatally   flawed,   its back-story    more    interesting    than    the    film    itself.    My    inner    critic    aligned    with    the naysayers.   However,   through   the   decades,   I   held   the   belief   that   there   was   a   good movie longing to be born from the source material. In   2016,   Etiquette   Pictures   acquired   the   digital   rights   and   transferred   the   Techniscope original   to   4K.   This   inspired   me   to   revisit   the   project   with   the   aim   of   creating   a   version that   was   as   good   as   the   story   behind   its   making.   To   the   extent   that   was   achieved,   the film warrants consideration as a new entity. - Tom Huckabee, 9/14/18, Fort Worth, TX
Taking Tiger Mountain Revisited
Completed Dec. 2018
INTERVIEW WITH TOM HUCKABEE by Adrien Clerc for Beatdom (2014) The story of the making of Taking Tiger Mountain, released theatrically in 1983 but never on video, is one of the strangest I’ve ever heard. It all started in 1974, when director Kent Smith and actor Bill Paxton, based in Los Angeles, agreed to make a film together from a script by Smith. The story, loosely based on the kidnapping of John Paul Getty III, was influenced by Albert Camus’ L’Étranger and set in the casbah of Tangier.  The title was lifted from the communist Chinese opera, Taking Tiger Mountain by Strategy (1970).  Armed with with an Arriflex 35mm camera, ten hours of “short ends” from Bob Fosse’s Lenny, and $20,000, they flew to Spain, rented a car and ferried across the sea to Tangier.  Encountering resistance from Moroccan authorities, Smith and Paxton relocated to South Wales, where Paxton had friends, and shot about half of a movie before running out of money and returning to America.  Paxton enrolled at NYU to study drama with Stella Adler, while Smith attempted raise finishing funds to no avail.  Enter Tom Huckabee, a student at the University of Texas and friend of Smith and Paxton’s, who leased the footage in 1979 with the intent to finish it.  Unable to return to Wales, Huckabee had to rethink the project entirely. He jettisoned  the kidnapping trope in favor of a plot line inspired equally byWilliam S. Burroughs’ sci-fi novella, Blade Runner (a movie) and Valeri Solonas’ radical feminist tract, The Scum Manifesto.  Paxton’s character changed from a victim of kidnapping to that of a time-bomb assassin, programmed by feminist terrorists.  Yes, it sounds crazy, and it is.  In the following interview Huckabee reflects on the process that led to what is, perhaps, William Burroughs’ only screenwriting credit on a feature film. ADRIEN CLERC: Hi Tom. What interested you in Burroughs' work?  TOM HUCKABEE: I think it was because, as an artist, social scientist, and human being, he inhabited the fringes between acceptable and non acceptable. He was an explorer of dangerous worlds and ideas. There was a transgressive thrill to his work in subject and form. He expanded my mind,  in the same way that psychedelics did. Just like acid, it’s great for about eight hours every once and awhile, but I don’t want to stay there. My comfort zone is more with Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Timothy Leary, William Faulkner, Herman Hesse, Gurdjieff and Ouspensky. I was never into opiates or boys, or pulp fiction for that matter. ADRIEN CLERC: The idea you had – not to make an adaptation, but a movie set in the world of a Burroughs' novel - is very interesting. Did it come to your mind before you saw Smith's footage, or afterwards? TOM HUCKABEE: I saw the footage first in 1974 right after it arrived from the UK. I may have heard of Burroughs back then but hadn't read anything. In September 1975 I  enrolled at UT Austin and started reading Burroughs shortly thereafter. I got the footage in 1979, ten hours of silent 35mm Techniscope and it's corresponding anamorphic work print. I started building scenes using Kent’s script at first, which was based very loosely on the true- life kidnapping of John Paul Getty III. There was no futuristic element, no assassination, prostitution, feminism, nor brainwashing.  It was like a dream or nightmare about a young American waking up on a train with amnesia - who wanders into a  Welsh town, meets a lot of people, has adventures, sexual encounters bad dreams,  and then gets killed on the beach. Or does he?  It was a dyed-in the-wool, art house cross of surrealism and neo-realism.  Bunuel, Jordorowsky, Pasolini,  Resnais, Chabrol, Kurosawa, Kubrick, Felini, and Godard come to mind as touchstones for the vibe they were going for. Kent was ten years older than Bill and much more experienced in filmmaking. He was highly motivated, somewhat introverted, drawn to whimsy, obliqueness, irrational gestures, classical art, and societal outliers. And a master pianist. Bill at 19 was full of lust for life and a burning desire to make art, willing to do just about anything, too, even risk his life, as long as someone was recording it. His motivations were sex, drugs, rock and roll, adventure, fame, and fortune, while consuming and producing as much art as possible. He loved all things macabre, plus Clint Eastwood, Stanley Kubrick and Buster Keeton. He possessed a combination of looks, drive, industry, good humor and charisma that most people found irresistible.  He was a daredevil on every level. Kent and Bill complimented each other remarkably well and came back from Wales with some pretty amazing material that equally reflected their individual and mutual sensibilities and obsessions. If I had had the money at the time in 1974, I would have happily funded the remainder of their vision. But when I got the footage in 1979, I had to make do with what they shot and the resources I had at school in Austin, which, at first for about a year, included no money, but a 16 to 35mm Steenbeck flatbed, which no one else had claimed. Once I had assembled all their footage into what seemed like a narrative flow, I ruminated on what it might be about. I'd been reading Burroughs and other avant garde, transgressive and erotic literature. The Story of the Eye by George Bataille was a big  influence. From a book of interviews with Burroughs called The Job, I first read about Hassan i Sabbah, philosopher king of the assassins, I got the idea that Bill’s character should be an unwitting assassin. Other people who made significant contributions were Paul Cullum, a journalism student, who wrote most of the ubiquitous radio broadcast material and my faculty advisers, Tom Schatz and Loren Bivens. There was this mysterious, iconoclastic guy named Ray Layton from California, who acted like a cult leader, but only had one follower (and I think he paid her), who was hanging  out in Austin doing ominous conceptual theater pieces.  He had the idea to make it about  feminist terrorists brainwashing Billy to murder a minister of  prostitution. I don't know who came up with the idea that Billy was a draft dodger, but probably me. I’ve always wanted to make a movie about my older brother’s generation who fled to Canada to escape the Viet Nam War.  The main character would be Jesse Winchester, the singer/songwriter associated with Big Pink and The Band. Anyway, then I read Blade Runner (a movie) and realized it was exactly the kind of  apocalyptic world which would be happening in America, while our events were unfolding in Wales. At the same time, I lucked into finding a backer who promised $30,000. And suddenly, shit got real. I could afford to shoot the wrap around sequence I’d written with the feminist terrorist cell,  to hire voice actors for the Welsh characters, and pay for all the laboratory work at the end of the process. By this time, I'd acquired a photocopy of the CIA’s MKUltra  documents about their experiments using psychedelics for brainwashing, torture and warfare, which I relied on heavily for the script.  After adding the new scenes, the running time was just over 60 minutes. And the world had no use for a 60 minute, wide-screen, black and white, experimental art film.  I needed 75  mins minimum for it to be a feature. So, I went back to the well and found 15 minutes of outtakes which fit the new paradigm, mostly in the form of nightmarish visions experienced by Paxton’s character, who today we would recognize as suffering from severe PTSD. In a stylistic nod to Burroughs, I created one new sequence by cutting equal lengths of film and tossing them in the air, assembling them as they came down, but cheating a lot. I should mention that during this time I was fairly regularly, like once a month, taking acid, mushrooms, or baby woodrose seeds, an exotic psychedelic from Hawaii. This, added with all the art house and experimental films I was seeing, avant garde, erotic, left wing, and feminist art and literature I was consuming, and new music I was hearing and playing kept my mind open to outre themes and formal tropes.   If a scene wasn't working, I could always run it upside down and backwards. After shooting the wrap around sequences and building new scenes out of outtakes, I finally got around to writing a full length script and doing story boards. And addressing the dialogue. It was like mixing pre-production, production, and post-production all in one big stew. I forgot to mention Woody Allen's Tiger Lilly as an influence. See, there were quite a few dialogue sequences in Kent’s script and the footage he brought back from Wales, but no sound.  The script was only partly useful and much of it didn’t match what the actors were saying.  I hired a lip reader to tell me what they were saying only to find out many of them were speaking Welsh.  So, it didn’t really matter. I put whatever I could into their mouths which seemed to fit, and held the most important dialogue, containing plot points, for the cutaways. ADRIEN CLERC: How did you make contact with Burroughs.  TOM HUCKABEE: In 1980, the bass player of my band, The Huns, had an out of town visitor, Adam Block, who said he knew Burroughs. By then I knew I wanted to use material from Blade Runner (a movie) as part of the ubiquitous radio broadcasts and propaganda you hear in the film, BBC-style reports of the apocalyptic calamity around the world, but especially in America. Adam said he would hook us up.  Negotiations with Burroughs was very easy, due to the conviviality of his manager, James Grauerholz, now the executor of Burroughs’ estate. ADRIEN CLERC: How did you became aware of the making of Ridley Scott's Blade Runner ? TOM HUCKABEE: I was killing  time in a book store in Austin, where Burroughs was signing books, perusing movie magazines, when I came across a big spread on Blade Runner in Cinemafantastique. We had just watched Taking Tiger Mountain on the flatbed across the street at the film school.  Burroughs like it and we concluded the negotiation, signed contracts. I handed them a check for $100.00 and we walked across the street together to the signing. They had made no mention that the same book I was adapting, Blade Runner (a movie), might be used in some way, if just the title, for the basis of a mega budget sci-fi by the genius who had brought us the most  popular film among punk rockers like myself: Alien. My jaw dropped... I walked it over to Grauerholz... and his jaw dropped. He wasn’t worried about being ripped off,  though. There had been talk about them using the name, and a price already discussed: $5000.00, I think it was. ADRIEN CLERC: That's an amazing story! I'm a big fan of Alien too - in fact it was one of the first movies that got me interested in cinema, it's one of these films that creates a new dimension of space. I saw Blade Runner a few years ago when it was reissued for the big screen, and some of it is amazing, but I was a bit disappointed. The narrative is very conventional. What do you think of Blade Runner? TOM HUCKABEE: I love story, the look of it, the action sequences, and most of the characters, especially Rutger Hauer’s. Harrison Ford’s part was mostly thankless. I guess that was the point to make him sort of drone, to give the villains and the rebels all the color and the best bits, but did he have to be a cliche of a hardboiled movie detective?  Was that a nod to Aphaville? The mix of genres didn’t quite jell. I don’t think it was Ford’s fault. I’ve loved him in most of his films.  And Ridley Scott is a genius of high octane cinema, like James Cameron, Clint Eastwood or Martin Scorsese. I should watch the director’s cut. I had dinner with Ridley Scott and Bill Paxton one night in 1998 to pitch a story idea of mine. I can't remember if we discussed Taking Tiger Mountain’s relationship to Blade Runner, probably not, for fear it might derail the pitch, which he didn’t buy anyway. Lately, I’ve submitted a new script, a mini series about Timothy Leary, to his production company.  It’s made it over the first hurdle. We’ll see. I met Leary through Burroughs and Grauerholz, then worked with him for a year on his life story, which I call The Second Greatest Story Ever Told; or “not yet told,” rather.  Ridley’s brother, Tony, was one of Leary’s best friends. But I digress into shameful and pointless namedropping. ADRIEN CLERC: Do you know if Burroughs knew that Scott's movie wouldn’t be based on his book, just the title would be used? TOM HUCKABEE: I think he knew the script was based on “Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?” ADRIEN CLERC: Are you aware of Burroughs' work with Antony Balch, movies like “Towers Open Fire” or “The Cut-Ups? “  TOM HUCKABEE: No. But I’ll check them out. ADRIEN CLERC: Were you influenced by any other movies or filmmakers then, or were you just trying to create your own path? TOM HUCKABEE: Influences were all over the place, since I was working with acquired footage and trying to make it tell a story that it was not designed to tell. Things that spring to mind are Alphaville, Scorpio Rising and Fireworks by Kenneth Anger.  Meshes in the Afternoon.  Dog Star Man. Every post apocalyptic movie ever made. Manchurian Candidate, of course.  El Topo, The Prisoner TV series. Bunuel and Dali.  Stanley Kubrick, Dusan Makavejev, Twilight Zone, David  Lynch. Truffaut, Pasolini, Antonioni, Roger Corman, In the Realm of the Senses. Last Tango in Paris.  Robert Altman.  John Boorman, especially Zardoz ... Bruce Conner!  Hollis Frampton, Michael Snow! Bergman’s Persona. Ken Russell’s The Devils. The Wicker Man, Viva La Muerte! The movies of John and Yoko. ADRIEN CLERC: And outside cinema? Your movie seems to be heavily influenced by music. TOM HUCKABEE: Oh, yes!  The film is wall-to-wall, low-fi techno just about, from my friends Radio Free Europe: Brian Hansen, Dan Puckett, Stephen Miller, and Dave Maya. Plus bits by David Boone and Randy Kelleher. Brian, Boone, and Kelleher were all brilliant filmmakers who died young. There is also a song by my band, The Reversible Cords. Outside musical influences on all of us were Throbbing Gristle, Devo, Talking Heads, Philip Glass, Steve Reich, John Cale, David Bowie, Brian Eno, Robert Fripp, The Doors. Other influences at the time: Antonin Artaud, Otto Muhl, Hunter Thompson, Carl Andre, Merce Cunningham, John Cage, Andy Warhol. Rimbaud, The Book of Revelation, Foucault… Jean Genet,  Hustler Magazine, Mark Rothko... Man Ray and Duchamp... Cocteau! Eisenstein! Conspiracy Theory, Cattle Mutilations and The Anarchist’s Cookbook, Jim Morrison’s Poetry. I was also thoroughly enmeshed in punk rock and it's intellectual preoccupations… Genesis P. Orridge .... situationism... ReSearch Magazine... The Clash.... turmoil in London, all that went in the stew. It's interesting to me that Orridge actually became a woman like Billy does at one point in the film.  Radio Free Europe, were Texas' answer to  Throbbing Gristle. I was drawing on every avant garde thing I'd ever known to try to make a horse race out of the footage Bill and Kent had shot in Wales...  using every trick in the micro-budget, experimental, minimalist, transgressive handbook. It had it's admirers back then, more now, but the best  review I ever got was from Burroughs, who said, "I think ya got  something there, kid."  ADRIEN CLERC: I think he was right, you had something - the only problem was, I guess, that the "thing" it was is not an easyto-sell product. It's interesting that you mention The Job. The makers of “Decoder” also said it was The Job and Electronic Revolution that were the major inspirations of their work, not the novels.  You were interested in the control theories that Burroughs developed, the power of the image and sound combination in mind-control? TOM HUCKABEE: Yes, sound  frequencies that can make you vomit and whatnot. ADRIEN CLERC: Speaking of Hassan i Sabbah, the way the woman's group control the mind of the character is directly taken from the old man of the mountain's legend, isn't it? TOM HUCKABEE:  It’s a combination of Hassan I Sabbah, The Scum Manifesto,  Manchurian Candidate, and the MKUltra documents. ADRIEN CLERC: I love the idea of a cross-over between SCUM and Hassan i Sabbah! By the way, as you said you were influenced by The Job. Were you interested in Burroughs' views on women, the idea that they might have come from another planet, that we should build two distinct societies, male and female. TOM HUCKABEE: I see it as a flaw in his character. So, maybe that's the secret sauce of Taking Tiger Mountain, that it was equally influenced by Valerie Solanas, the brilliant militant man- hater vs. Burroughs, the brilliant, militant misogynist, although he had plenty of women friends. Didn’t he? And didn’t shoot anyone on purpose. Did he?  While I was editing Tiger Mountain, I took a class in feminist art and literature, which left a lasting impression, especially Margaret Atwood, Judy Chicago, Lynda Benglis, Yoko Ono, Nikki Giovanni,  and Adrienne Rich. When it comes to women, I'm much closer to Timothy Leary's views than Burrough’s. ADRIEN CLERC: And what about the homosexual undertones of the movie? TOM HUCKABEE: Homosexuality in Taking Tiger Mountain? I think it’s more like polymorphous perversity.  That aspect was supplied by Kent Smith, I believe. ADRIEN CLERC: You predicted in your eulogy for William Burroughs printed in the Austin Chronicle that there will probably be Hollywood movies made from Junkie and The Wild Boys. Do you still think that’s likely. TOM HUCKABEE: Junkie, for sure.  Wild Boys, why not?  James Franco would be the likely producer... he seems to be the patron of all things outré and literary at the moment. ADRIEN CLERC: Taking Tiger Mountain hasn't been easy to see, to say the least, during all these years. Do you plan on re-releasing it? TOM HUCKABEE: Someday,  It would be great to go back to the original Techniscope negative, which would mean that the film would probably look better than it did on 35mm.
Taking Tiger Mountain Revisited
I n    a    dystopian    future,    Europe    is    unified    under    a    totalitarian patriarchy,     where     each     town     is     assigned     a     single     economic purpose.    In    Brendovery,    Wales    the    occupation    is    prostitution. Arriving   by   train   from   London   is   Billy   Hampton,   a   young   American expatriate    and    draft    evader    (Bill    Paxton    in    his    first    lead    role), ostensibly   there   to   enjoy   a   sex-filled   holiday.   Unknown   to   him   he   is a   time   bomb   assassin,   programmed   by   a   feminist   terrorist   cell   to assassinate the local minister of prostitution
Press Kit
William   S.   Burroughs,   Tom   Huckabee,   and   James Grauerholz,      Burroughs’      manager,      editor,      and executor,   on   Burroughs’   65th   birthday   Feb.   5,1979, Austin Texas.
Click  here
     Blog review:  {3-6-17}
Photo   by   Will   van   Overbeek.   Maloney,   a   trained Griffon   vulture,   eats   sheep   guts   off   of   Bill   Paxton’s chest,     as     the     bird’s     owner,     Gerald     Summers, observes. Photo by Kent Smith, 1974.
Bill Paxton. Tom Huckabee Location: San Francisco, Ca. March 21, 1983 Photographer Unknown
9 Best Film Intl. Film Awards  2019 Official Website
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In a dystopian future, Europe is unified under a totalitarian patriarchy, where each town is assigned a single economic purpose. In Brendovery, Wales the occupation is prostitution. Arriving by train from London is Billy Hampton, a young American expatriate and draft evader (Bill Paxton in his first lead role), ostensibly there to enjoy a sex-filled holiday. Unknown to him he is a time bomb assassin, programmed by a feminist terrorist cell to assassinate the local minister of prostitution
Director Statement In 1975, Kent Smith, 29, and Bill Paxton, 19, produced approximately half of a feature film in Wales with an amateur cast and crew and a $20,000 budget. The script by Smith was based on the 1973 kidnapping of John Paul Getty III. Their stash of 35mm B&W negative was comprised of “short ends” from Bob Fosse’s Lenny. Their camera was an old Arriflex adapted for Techniscope, a wide screen format which required half as much stock as Cinemascope. They intended to shoot in Morocco, as dictated by the script, which was influenced by the work of William Burroughs, complete with illegal drugs, polymorphous perversity, international intrigue, and existential paranoia. The duo flew to Spain, where they rented a car and ferried across the Mediterranean to Tangiers, where they were arrested for attempting to make a movie without government sanction. Kent secured their release with a bribe. Back in Spain, Bill remembered he had friends in Wales on whom he could rely. They spent the next six weeks in Wales casting and crewing, adapting the script to fit the locale, and running and gunning. Influenced by Italian cinema, they recorded no sound on set, intending to dub the dialogue with professional voice actors in Hollywood. After money ran out, they returned to LA, where I was privileged to see all ten hours of their dailies. Kent attempted for several years to raise finishing funds to no avail. Four years later in my last year of film school at UT Austin, I persuaded Kent to lease me the footage, from which I culled 60 minutes of provocative footage. After assembling a small team of students, faculty, and local professionals, we rewrote the story setting it in a dystopian future, adding themes of militant feminism, geo-political upheaval, and mind control. New scenes were shot, and the sound was built from scratch. The influence of William Burroughs grew more pronounced, to which I added the counterbalance of Valerie Solanas, author of The S.C.U.M. Manifesto. (SCUM stands for the Society for Cutting Up Men.) From Burroughs, I secured the use of text from his novella Blade Runner (a movie), which was worked into the script. Completed in 1983, Taking Tiger Mountain was briefly distributed by Horizon Films and exhibited In the US by the Landmark theater chain. Despite some positive reviews, the critical consensus judged it a noble experiment with bits of brilliance, fatally flawed, its back-story more interesting than the film itself. My inner critic aligned with the naysayers. However, through the decades, I held the belief that there was a good movie longing to be born from the source material. In 2016, Etiquette Pictures acquired the digital rights and transferred the Techniscope original to 4K. This inspired me to revisit the project with the aim of creating a version that was as good as the story behind its making. To the extent that was achieved, the film warrants consideration as a new entity. - Tom Huckabee, 9/14/18, Fort Worth, TX
New Trailer Click  here “Bill Paxton,William S.  Burroughs” Blade Runner (a movie),  and the Making of Taking Tiger Mountain” Click  here        Blog review:  {3-6-17}
INTERVIEW WITH TOM HUCKABEE by Adrien Clerc for Beatdom (2014) The   story   of   the   making   of   Taking   Tiger   Mountain, released   theatrically   in   1983   but   never   on   video,   is   one of   the   strangest   I’ve   ever   heard.   It   all   started   in   1974, when   director   Kent   Smith   and   actor   Bill   Paxton,   based in   Los   Angeles,   agreed   to   make   a   film   together   from   a script     by     Smith.     The     story,     loosely     based     on     the kidnapping    of    John    Paul    Getty    III,    was    influenced    by Albert    Camus’    L’Étranger    and    set    in    the    casbah    of Tangier.        The    title    was    lifted    from    the    communist Chinese    opera,    Taking    Tiger    Mountain    by    Strategy (1970).      Armed   with   with   an   Arriflex   35mm   camera,   ten hours    of    “short    ends”    from    Bob    Fosse’s    Lenny,    and $20,000,   they   flew   to   Spain,   rented   a   car   and   ferried across   the   sea   to   Tangier.      Encountering   resistance   from Moroccan   authorities,   Smith   and   Paxton   relocated   to South   Wales,   where   Paxton   had   friends,   and   shot   about half    of    a    movie    before    running    out    of    money    and returning   to   America.      Paxton   enrolled   at   NYU   to   study drama   with   Stella   Adler,   while   Smith   attempted   raise finishing    funds    to    no    avail.        Enter    Tom    Huckabee,    a student   at   the   University   of   Texas   and   friend   of   Smith and   Paxton’s,   who   leased   the   footage   in   1979   with   the intent   to   finish   it.      Unable   to   return   to   Wales,   Huckabee had   to   rethink   the   project   entirely.   He   jettisoned      the kidnapping   trope   in   favor   of   a   plot   line   inspired   equally byWilliam   S.   Burroughs’   sci-fi   novella,   Blade   Runner   (a movie)    and    Valeri    Solonas’    radical    feminist    tract,    The Scum   Manifesto.      Paxton’s   character   changed   from   a victim   of   kidnapping   to   that   of   a   time-bomb   assassin, programmed   by   feminist   terrorists.      Yes,   it   sounds   crazy, and   it   is.      In   the   following   interview   Huckabee   reflects on   the   process   that   led   to   what   is,   perhaps,   William Burroughs’ only screenwriting credit on a feature film. ADRIEN     CLERC :     Hi     Tom.     What     interested     you     in Burroughs' work? TOM   HUCKABEE:    I   think   it   was   because,   as   an   artist, social    scientist,    and    human    being,    he    inhabited    the fringes    between    acceptable    and    non    acceptable.    He was   an   explorer   of   dangerous   worlds   and   ideas.   There was    a    transgressive    thrill    to    his    work    in    subject    and form.   He   expanded   my   mind,      in   the   same   way   that psychedelics   did.   Just   like   acid,   it’s   great   for   about   eight hours   every   once   and   awhile,   but   I   don’t   want   to   stay there.   My   comfort   zone   is   more   with   Bob   Dylan,   John Lennon,     Timothy     Leary,     William     Faulkner,     Herman Hesse,    Gurdjieff    and    Ouspensky.    I    was    never    into opiates or boys, or pulp fiction for that matter. ADRIEN   CLERC:    The   idea   you   had   –   not   to   make   an adaptation,   but   a   movie   set   in   the   world   of   a   Burroughs' novel   -   is   very   interesting.   Did   it   come   to   your   mind before you saw Smith's footage, or afterwards? TOM   HUCKABEE:    I   saw   the   footage   first   in   1974   right after    it    arrived    from    the    UK.    I    may    have    heard    of Burroughs    back    then    but    hadn't    read    anything.    In September   1975   I      enrolled   at   UT   Austin   and   started reading   Burroughs   shortly   thereafter.   I   got   the   footage in   1979,   ten   hours   of   silent   35mm   Techniscope   and   it's corresponding anamorphic work print. I    started    building    scenes    using    Kent’s    script    at    first, which     was     based     very     loosely     on     the     true-life kidnapping     of     John     Paul     Getty     III.     There     was     no futuristic      element,      no      assassination,      prostitution, feminism,    nor    brainwashing.     It    was    like    a    dream    or nightmare    about    a    young    American    waking    up    on    a train   with   amnesia   -   who   wanders   into   a      Welsh   town, meets     a     lot     of     people,     has     adventures,     sexual encounters   bad   dreams,      and   then   gets   killed   on   the beach.   Or   does   he?      It   was   a   dyed-in   the-wool,   art   house cross      of      surrealism      and      neo-realism.            Bunuel, Jordorowsky,    Pasolini,        Resnais,    Chabrol,    Kurosawa, Kubrick,      Felini,      and      Godard      come      to      mind      as touchstones   for   the   vibe   they   were   going   for.   Kent   was ten   years   older   than   Bill   and   much   more   experienced   in filmmaking.     He     was     highly     motivated,     somewhat introverted,    drawn    to    whimsy,    obliqueness,    irrational gestures,    classical    art,    and    societal    outliers.    And    a master   pianist.   Bill   at   19   was   full   of   lust   for   life   and   a burning    desire    to    make    art,    willing    to    do    just    about anything,   too,   even   risk   his   life,   as   long   as   someone   was recording   it.   His   motivations   were   sex,   drugs,   rock   and roll,    adventure,    fame,    and    fortune,    while    consuming and   producing   as   much   art   as   possible.   He   loved   all things    macabre,    plus    Clint    Eastwood,    Stanley    Kubrick and    Buster    Keeton.    He    possessed    a    combination    of looks,   drive,   industry,   good   humor   and   charisma   that most   people   found   irresistible.      He   was   a   daredevil   on every level. Kent   and   Bill   complimented   each   other   remarkably   well and   came   back   from   Wales   with   some   pretty   amazing material    that    equally    reflected    their    individual    and mutual sensibilities and obsessions. If   I   had   had   the   money   at   the   time   in   1974,   I   would   have happily   funded   the   remainder   of   their   vision.   But   when I   got   the   footage   in   1979,   I   had   to   make   do   with   what they   shot   and   the   resources   I   had   at   school   in   Austin, which,   at   first   for   about   a   year,   included   no   money,   but a   16   to   35mm   Steenbeck   flatbed,   which   no   one   else   had claimed. Once    I    had    assembled    all    their    footage    into    what seemed   like   a   narrative   flow,   I   ruminated   on   what   it might be about. I'd    been    reading    Burroughs    and    other    avant    garde, transgressive   and   erotic   literature.   The   Story   of   the   Eye by   George   Bataille   was   a   big      influence.   From   a   book   of interviews   with   Burroughs   called   The   Job,   I   first   read about     Hassan     i     Sabbah,     philosopher     king     of     the assassins,   I   got   the   idea   that   Bill’s   character   should   be an unwitting assassin. Other   people   who   made   significant   contributions   were Paul   Cullum,   a   journalism   student,   who   wrote   most   of the   ubiquitous   radio   broadcast   material   and   my   faculty advisers,   Tom   Schatz   and   Loren   Bivens.   There   was   this mysterious,    iconoclastic    guy    named    Ray    Layton    from California,   who   acted   like   a   cult   leader,   but   only   had   one follower   (and   I   think   he   paid   her),   who   was   hanging    out in   Austin   doing   ominous   conceptual   theater   pieces.    He had    the    idea    to    make    it    about        feminist    terrorists brainwashing   Billy   to   murder   a   minister   of      prostitution. I   don't   know   who   came   up   with   the   idea   that   Billy   was   a draft   dodger,   but   probably   me.   I’ve   always   wanted   to make   a   movie   about   my   older   brother’s   generation   who fled   to   Canada   to   escape   the   Viet   Nam   War.      The   main character        would        be        Jesse        Winchester,        the singer/songwriter    associated    with    Big    Pink    and    The Band. Anyway,    then    I    read    Blade    Runner    (a    movie)    and realized   it   was   exactly   the   kind   of      apocalyptic   world which   would   be   happening   in   America,   while   our   events were   unfolding   in   Wales.   At   the   same   time,   I   lucked   into finding   a   backer   who   promised   $30,000.   And   suddenly, shit   got   real.   I   could   afford   to   shoot   the   wrap   around sequence   I’d   written   with   the   feminist   terrorist   cell,      to hire   voice   actors   for   the   Welsh   characters,   and   pay   for all the laboratory work at the end of the process. By    this    time,    I'd    acquired    a    photocopy    of    the    CIA’s MKUltra        documents    about    their    experiments    using psychedelics    for    brainwashing,    torture    and    warfare, which I relied on heavily for the script.  After   adding   the   new   scenes,   the   running   time   was   just over   60   minutes.   And   the   world   had   no   use   for   a   60 minute,   wide-screen,   black   and   white,   experimental   art film.      I   needed   75      mins   minimum   for   it   to   be   a   feature. So,   I   went   back   to   the   well   and   found   15   minutes   of outtakes   which   fit   the   new   paradigm,   mostly   in   the   form of      nightmarish      visions      experienced      by      Paxton’s character,   who   today   we   would   recognize   as   suffering from severe PTSD. In    a    stylistic    nod    to    Burroughs,    I    created    one    new sequence   by   cutting   equal   lengths   of   film   and   tossing them   in   the   air,   assembling   them   as   they   came   down, but cheating a lot. I    should    mention    that    during    this    time    I    was    fairly regularly,   like   once   a   month,   taking   acid,   mushrooms,   or baby    woodrose    seeds,    an    exotic    psychedelic    from Hawaii.     This,     added     with     all     the     art     house     and experimental   films   I   was   seeing,   avant   garde,   erotic,   left wing,   and   feminist   art   and   literature   I   was   consuming, and   new   music   I   was   hearing   and   playing   kept   my   mind open   to   outre   themes   and   formal   tropes.         If   a   scene wasn't   working,   I   could   always   run   it   upside   down   and backwards. After   shooting   the   wrap   around   sequences   and   building new    scenes    out    of    outtakes,    I    finally    got    around    to writing   a   full   length   script   and   doing   story   boards.   And addressing     the     dialogue.     It     was     like     mixing     pre- production,   production,   and   post-production   all   in   one big stew. I    forgot    to    mention    Woody    Allen's    Tiger    Lilly    as    an influence.     See,     there     were     quite     a     few     dialogue sequences   in   Kent’s   script   and   the   footage   he   brought back   from   Wales,   but   no   sound.      The   script   was   only partly    useful    and    much    of    it    didn’t    match    what    the actors   were   saying.      I   hired   a   lip   reader   to   tell   me   what they   were   saying   only   to   find   out   many   of   them   were speaking    Welsh.        So,    it    didn’t    really    matter.    I    put whatever   I   could   into   their   mouths   which   seemed   to   fit, and   held   the   most   important   dialogue,   containing   plot points, for the cutaways. ADRIEN     CLERC :     How     did     you     make     contact     with Burroughs.    TOM   HUCKABEE:   In   1980,   the   bass   player   of   my   band, The   Huns,   had   an   out   of   town   visitor,   Adam   Block,   who said   he   knew   Burroughs.   By   then   I   knew   I   wanted   to   use material   from   Blade   Runner   (a   movie)   as   part   of   the ubiquitous   radio   broadcasts   and   propaganda   you   hear in   the   film,   BBC-style   reports   of   the   apocalyptic   calamity around   the   world,   but   especially   in   America.   Adam   said he   would   hook   us   up.      Negotiations   with   Burroughs   was very   easy,   due   to   the   conviviality   of   his   manager,   James Grauerholz, now the executor of Burroughs’ estate. ADRIEN    CLERC:     How    did    you    became    aware    of    the making of Ridley Scott's Blade Runner ? TOM   HUCKABEE:    I   was   killing      time   in   a   book   store   in Austin,   where   Burroughs   was   signing   books,   perusing movie   magazines,   when   I   came   across   a   big   spread   on Blade Runner in Cinemafantastique. We    had    just    watched    Taking    Tiger    Mountain    on    the flatbed   across   the   street   at   the   film   school.      Burroughs like     it     and     we     concluded     the     negotiation,     signed contracts.   I   handed   them   a   check   for   $100.00   and   we walked across the street together to the signing. They   had   made   no   mention   that   the   same   book   I   was adapting,    Blade    Runner    (a    movie),    might    be    used    in some    way,    if    just    the    title,    for    the    basis    of    a    mega budget    sci-fi    by    the    genius    who    had    brought    us    the most        popular    film    among    punk    rockers    like    myself: Alien. My   jaw   dropped...   I   walked   it   over   to   Grauerholz...   and his   jaw   dropped.   He   wasn’t   worried   about   being   ripped off,      though.   There   had   been   talk   about   them   using   the name,   and   a   price   already   discussed:   $5000.00,   I   think   it was. ADRIEN   CLERC:    That's   an   amazing   story!   I'm   a   big   fan   of Alien   too   -   in   fact   it   was   one   of   the   first   movies   that   got me   interested   in   cinema,   it's   one   of   these   films   that creates   a   new   dimension   of   space.   I   saw   Blade   Runner   a few   years   ago   when   it   was   reissued   for   the   big   screen, and   some   of   it   is   amazing,   but   I   was   a   bit   disappointed. The   narrative   is   very   conventional.   What   do   you   think   of Blade Runner? TOM   HUCKABEE:    I   love   story,   the   look   of   it,   the   action sequences,    and    most    of    the    characters,    especially Rutger     Hauer’s.     Harrison     Ford’s     part     was     mostly thankless.   I   guess   that   was   the   point   to   make   him   sort of   drone,   to   give   the   villains   and   the   rebels   all   the   color and   the   best   bits,   but   did   he   have   to   be   a   cliche   of   a hardboiled     movie     detective?          Was     that     a     nod     to Aphaville?   The   mix   of   genres   didn’t   quite   jell.   I   don’t think   it   was   Ford’s   fault.   I’ve   loved   him   in   most   of   his films.        And    Ridley    Scott    is    a    genius    of    high    octane cinema,   like   James   Cameron,   Clint   Eastwood   or   Martin Scorsese. I should watch the director’s cut. I   had   dinner   with   Ridley   Scott   and   Bill   Paxton   one   night in   1998   to   pitch   a   story   idea   of   mine.   I   can't   remember   if we    discussed    Taking    Tiger    Mountain’s    relationship    to Blade   Runner,   probably   not,   for   fear   it   might   derail   the pitch,   which   he   didn’t   buy   anyway.   Lately,   I’ve   submitted a   new   script,   a   mini   series   about   Timothy   Leary,   to   his production   company.      It’s   made   it   over   the   first   hurdle. We’ll     see.     I     met     Leary     through     Burroughs     and Grauerholz,   then   worked   with   him   for   a   year   on   his   life story,   which   I   call   The   Second   Greatest   Story   Ever   Told; or   “not   yet   told,”   rather.      Ridley’s   brother,   Tony,   was   one of   Leary’s   best   friends.   But   I   digress   into   shameful   and pointless namedropping. ADRIEN   CLERC :   Do   you   know   if   Burroughs   knew   that Scott's   movie   wouldn’t   be   based   on   his   book,   just   the title would be used? TOM   HUCKABEE :   I   think   he   knew   the   script   was   based on “Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?” ADRIEN   CLERC :   Are   you   aware   of   Burroughs'   work   with Antony   Balch,   movies   like   “Towers   Open   Fire”   or   “The Cut-Ups? “   TOM HUCKABEE:  No. But I’ll check them out. ADRIEN    CLERC:     Were    you    influenced    by    any    other movies   or   filmmakers   then,   or   were   you   just   trying   to create your own path? TOM    HUCKABEE :    Influences    were    all    over    the    place, since   I   was   working   with   acquired   footage   and   trying   to make    it    tell    a    story    that    it    was    not    designed    to    tell. Things   that   spring   to   mind   are   Alphaville,   Scorpio   Rising and    Fireworks    by    Kenneth    Anger.        Meshes    in    the Afternoon.      Dog   Star   Man.   Every   post   apocalyptic   movie ever   made.   Manchurian   Candidate,   of   course.      El   Topo, The    Prisoner    TV    series.    Bunuel    and    Dali.        Stanley Kubrick,   Dusan   Makavejev,   Twilight   Zone,   David      Lynch. Truffaut,    Pasolini,    Antonioni,    Roger    Corman,    In    the Realm    of    the    Senses.    Last    Tango    in    Paris.        Robert Altman.        John    Boorman,    especially    Zardoz    ...    Bruce Conner!     Hollis    Frampton,    Michael    Snow!    Bergman’s Persona.   Ken   Russell’s   The   Devils.   The   Wicker   Man,   Viva La Muerte! The movies of John and Yoko. ADRIEN     CLERC:      And     outside     cinema?     Your     movie seems to be heavily influenced by music. TOM   HUCKABEE:    Oh,   yes!      The   film   is   wall-to-wall,   low-fi techno   just   about,   from   my   friends   Radio   Free   Europe: Brian   Hansen,   Dan   Puckett,   Stephen   Miller,   and   Dave Maya.   Plus   bits   by   David   Boone   and   Randy   Kelleher. Brian,   Boone,   and   Kelleher   were   all   brilliant   filmmakers who   died   young.   There   is   also   a   song   by   my   band,   The Reversible Cords. Outside   musical   influences   on   all   of   us   were   Throbbing Gristle,   Devo,   Talking   Heads,   Philip   Glass,   Steve   Reich, John   Cale,   David   Bowie,   Brian   Eno,   Robert   Fripp,   The Doors. Other    influences    at    the    time:    Antonin    Artaud,    Otto Muhl,       Hunter       Thompson,       Carl       Andre,       Merce Cunningham,   John   Cage,   Andy   Warhol.   Rimbaud,   The Book    of    Revelation,    Foucault…    Jean    Genet,     Hustler Magazine,    Mark    Rothko...    Man    Ray    and    Duchamp... Cocteau!       Eisenstein!       Conspiracy       Theory,       Cattle Mutilations      and      The      Anarchist’s      Cookbook,      Jim Morrison’s Poetry. I   was   also   thoroughly   enmeshed   in   punk   rock   and   it's intellectual     preoccupations…     Genesis     P.     Orridge     .... situationism...      ReSearch      Magazine...      The      Clash.... turmoil    in    London,    all    that    went    in    the    stew.    It's interesting    to    me    that    Orridge    actually    became    a woman   like   Billy   does   at   one   point   in   the   film.      Radio Free Europe, were Texas' answer to  Throbbing Gristle. I   was   drawing   on   every   avant   garde   thing   I'd   ever   known to   try   to   make   a   horse   race   out   of   the   footage   Bill   and Kent   had   shot   in   Wales...    using   every   trick   in   the   micro- budget,        experimental,        minimalist,        transgressive handbook. It   had   it's   admirers   back   then,   more   now,   but   the   best     review   I   ever   got   was   from   Burroughs,   who   said,   "I   think ya got  something there, kid."  ADRIEN   CLERC:    I   think   he   was   right,   you   had   something -   the   only   problem   was,   I   guess,   that   the   "thing"   it   was   is not    an    easyto-sell    product.    It's    interesting    that    you mention   The   Job.   The   makers   of   “Decoder”   also   said   it was   The   Job   and   Electronic   Revolution   that   were   the major   inspirations   of   their   work,   not   the   novels.      You were   interested   in   the   control   theories   that   Burroughs developed,     the     power     of     the     image     and     sound combination in mind-control? TOM    HUCKABEE:     Yes,    sound        frequencies    that    can make you vomit and whatnot. ADRIEN   CLERC :   Speaking   of   Hassan   i   Sabbah,   the   way the   woman's   group   control   the   mind   of   the   character   is directly    taken    from    the    old    man    of    the    mountain's legend, isn't it? TOM    HUCKABEE :        It’s    a    combination    of    Hassan    I Sabbah,   The   Scum   Manifesto,      Manchurian   Candidate, and the MKUltra documents. ADRIEN   CLERC:  I   love   the   idea   of   a   cross-over   between SCUM   and   Hassan   i   Sabbah!   By   the   way,   as   you   said   you were    influenced    by    The    Job.    Were    you    interested    in Burroughs'   views   on   women,   the   idea   that   they   might have   come   from   another   planet,   that   we   should   build two distinct societies, male and female. TOM   HUCKABEE:    I   see   it   as   a   flaw   in   his   character.   So, maybe   that's   the   secret   sauce   of   Taking   Tiger   Mountain, that   it   was   equally   influenced   by   Valerie   Solanas,   the brilliant   militant   man-hater   vs.   Burroughs,   the   brilliant, militant   misogynist,   although   he   had   plenty   of   women friends.   Didn’t   he?   And   didn’t   shoot   anyone   on   purpose. Did   he?      While   I   was   editing   Tiger   Mountain,   I   took   a class   in   feminist   art   and   literature,   which   left   a   lasting impression,   especially   Margaret   Atwood,   Judy   Chicago, Lynda   Benglis,   Yoko   Ono,   Nikki   Giovanni,      and   Adrienne Rich. When   it   comes   to   women,   I'm   much   closer   to   Timothy Leary's views than Burrough’s. ADRIEN     CLERC:      And     what     about     the     homosexual undertones of the movie? TOM     HUCKABEE:      Homosexuality     in     Taking     Tiger Mountain?      I      think      it’s      more      like      polymorphous perversity.      That   aspect   was   supplied   by   Kent   Smith,   I believe. ADRIEN    CLERC:     You    predicted    in    your    eulogy    for William   Burroughs   printed   in   the   Austin   Chronicle   that there   will   probably   be   Hollywood   movies   made   from Junkie and The Wild Boys. Do you still think that’s likely. TOM   HUCKABEE:    Junkie,   for   sure.      Wild   Boys,   why   not?     James   Franco   would   be   the   likely   producer...   he   seems to   be   the   patron   of   all   things   outré   and   literary   at   the moment. ADRIEN   CLERC :   Taking   Tiger   Mountain   hasn't   been   easy to   see,   to   say   the   least,   during   all   these   years.   Do   you plan on re-releasing it? TOM   HUCKABEE:    Someday,      It   would   be   great   to   go back   to   the   original   Techniscope   negative,   which   would mean   that   the   film   would   probably   look   better   than   it did on 35mm.
Taking Tiger Mountain Revisited NEWS
Completed dec. 2018 Press Kit ARFF Amsterdam Official selection
William   S.   Burroughs,   Tom   Huckabee,   and   James Grauerholz,      Burroughs’      manager,      editor,      and executor,   on   Burroughs’   65th   birthday   Feb.   5,1979, Austin Texas.
Photo   by   Will   van   Overbeek.   Maloney,   a   trained Griffon   vulture,   eats   sheep   guts   off   of   Bill   Paxton’s chest,     as     the     bird’s     owner,     Gerald     Summers, observes. Photo by Kent Smith, 1974.
Bill Paxton. Tom Huckabee Location: San Francisco, Ca. March 21, 1983 Photographer Unknown
Taking Tiger Mountain  Revisited Official Website