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Multiple versions of several mythical looking characters look up at the camera

Invasion of Thunderbolt Pagoda

Invasion of Thunderbolt Pagoda

The Invasion of Thunderbolt Pagoda, Dir. Ira Cohen, USA, 1968, 22 mins

Beat poet Ira Cohen’s now infamous and wildly psychedelic film odyssey feeds one’s own seeing apparatus through beautifully warped and distorting mylar mirrors, resulting in a film dense and rich with visual arcana and poetry.

The piece’s soundtrack is a droning improvised workout by legendary musical outsiders Angus Maclise (a founding member of the Velvet Underground: he left in disgust upon finding out they would be paid for a gig) and Tony Conrad, of the Theatre of Eternal Music and one of LaMonte Young’s co-conspirators in the Dream Syndicate.

At KYTN we were lucky enough to have Ira in attendance for the screening and to perform at reading on the piece.


As well as the cinema screening of the film, Acid Mothers Temple (in the formation of Atsushi Tsuyama, Tatsuya Yoshida and Makoto Kawabata) performed a live soundtrack to the film as part of their participation at the festival. The subsequent recording was then released on a 2006 DVD publication of the film alongside three other soundtrack versions; the original soundtrack by The Joyous Lake; a soundtrack by Sunburned Hand Of The Man recorded in 2006 whom Ira met at KYTN 03; and a commentary by Ira Cohen. The release was reviewed by The New York Times.

The link below is offered as a reference only and if you are interested in seeing or screening the film in its original glory please contact the distributors.


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