WHERE IS JOHNNY YESNO? – Cabaret Voltaire’s Long Lost Film

by Red Cell

Where is Johnny Yesno?

The oft spoken of, but seldom seen, video of dream-time Industrial paranoia from the Godfathers of Electro, Cabaret Voltaire, has been promised a vast re-release and has yet to see the light of day. Sometime late 2009 or early 2010, a short re-edit of the video was released named Johnny Yesno Redux (see vid below), and at the end it touted Summer 2010. Lies! All lies! OK Mute records or Mute Films, whichever of you is actually overseeing this, what happened?

This 1983 video masterpiece was filmed in and around Manchester / Sheffield and released by Cabaret Voltaire on VHS on their own label, Doublevision, before quickly falling into obscurity. You were supposed to release it on DVD last summer as a box set with lots of extra footage and a new edition of the soundtrack. Ken Hollings of Wire magazine even introduced a rare screening of the film in April 2010 at the Sensoria festival in Sheffield! So where is it? Word on the street is, maybe this Summer, maybe not. One last note, it looks like the “new version” has a LOT of new scenes! So does this mean it is a re-imagining or just adding to the original?

Check out this short video montage of Johnny Yesno scenes:

Johnny YesNo (1982)
Genre: Experimental | Music
Country: UK | Director: Peter Care
Language: English | Subtitles: None
Aspect ratio: 1.33:1 | Length: 56mn
Vhs Xvid Avi – 512×384 – 29.970fps – 557mb

From My Duck Is Dead –
This early short film by director Peter Care (later of videos by Depeche Mode, R.E.M., episodes of “Six Feet Under” and “Red Shoe Diaries”, and the film “The Dangerous Lives Of Altar Boys”) is a long-forgotten cult favorite, which hasn’t got it’s due (though it seems a remake/re-imagining is imminent?). Anyhow, gaining most of it’s notoriety through the soundtrack by Cabaret Voltaire, “Johnny Yesno” is a hard-boiled, eerie, and gritty noir film depicting the streetwise Johnny, who gets himself mixed up with some seedy characters — all in the interest of a lady whom he finds himself mesmerized by upon first sight.

The dreamy hallucination sequence is spectacular, with groundbreaking camerawork most certainly appropriated by Darren Aranofsky for his critically-acclaimed films “Pi” and “Requiem For A Dream”. And there are hints of David Lynch’s surrealism in here as well, perhaps inspiring or inspired by his left-of-center visuals. Care’s tough, urban environments are enhanced exponentially here through the prominent use of Cabaret Voltaire’s sound environments. This is prime period CabVolt (with Chris Watson still in tow), in their delightfully dirty, urban, post-industrial, proto-funk phase. The soundtrack is still available, and can be found for reasonable prices, but this film has been all but forgotten and hasn’t been reissued onto DVD as yet. A few Cabaret Voltaire videos by Care (he was basically their third member and created the group’s entire visual persona) are appended to this film (at least in the copy I gleaned from nontraditional sources). A fine work, tough, unsettling, and cerebral. Do some searching and treat yourself to this one!

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3 Comments

  1. Peter Care says:

    Hello Red Cell.

    Thank you for all compliments. The piece you’re referring to above is just one of the trailers I had made for the 2-disc DVD package. MUTE has just arranged for the 16 minute short – which is a complete reworking of the original 22 minute film – to be screened at Malmo Festival. I have no idea when the DVD set will be released but I’m guessing this year.

    xx Peter

    • Red Cell says:

      Thank you, Peter! It is an honor to have your comments. Please, if you gather any further behind the scenes info, send it our way. As you may be able to tell, we are huge fans!

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