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By Alan Hewetson
A fond memory of my childhood in Glasgow was the occasional trip to a musty old second hand book shop near Partick where amongst all the yellowing printed tomes was a vast selection of Alan Class comics (Creepy Worlds, Secrets of the Unknown et al) and every so often the odd copy of alluring forbidden fruit in the form of horror magazines with names like 'Nightmare', 'Creepy', 'Psycho' and 'Eerie'. Uneasily scanning the taboo contents of which you would do before a grown up noticed you were no longer looking at the latest Marvel or DC hero collection.
As the years passed my memories of such lurid magazines faded (much like my youth) until recently when a copy of the Headpress tome 'Skywald Horror-Mood' arrived at SGM Towers. Skywald (for those like myself who are less informed) is in fact the publisher of some of those much missed horror comic magazines, in particular 'Nightmare', 'Psycho' and briefly 'Scream' (not to be confused with the UK IPC comic of the same name). Spearheaded by guru 'Archaic' Al Hewetson in what would be later titled as the 'horror-mood' comic genre, the Skywald line would not only be a swift welcome slice of competition to main runners Warren (of 'Eerie' and 'Creepy' fame) but tragically begin now what looks like a growing resurgence in the 'horror-mood' scene. I state 'tragically' as Skywald's main player and author of this Headpress book Alan Hewetson passed away just as this tome was about to be unleashed (so the poor guy will tragically never know the legacy he will inevitably be leaving behind).
Before he left this mortal coil to head off into his inevitable own world of the beyond Al Hewetson through this book though has left the genre community one of the finest comic book retrospectives ever to see print. 'Skywald Horror-Mood' is not only an intimate and intensely definitive guide through the publishers line (written in a manner that only Hewetson could have written it) but lovingly presents us with a glorious collection of some of the finest 'horror mood' strips in their entirety (19 in all) for newcomers to savour for the first time and for the long running fans of old to revisit with affection.
Amazingly, for a line of magazines that are so memorable for the odd classic strip ('The Human Gargoyles' and recently revived 'Heap' and 'Saga of the Victims') I was astounded to note that the Skywald line was not that long running in issue count (we'd be lucky if there was anymore than 60/70 odd issues published in total for the 'horror mood' lines). This is more so impressive for the obvious influence that Skywald (along with competitors like Warren) have had on the rest of the genre publishing industry (including by default us here at SGM and highly evident in modern variants such as the hyper cool 'Bedlam' and 'Usher' comic magazines).
If you've ever been a fan of comic books (especially the lurid exploitation type of the 1970's) then 'Skywald Horror Mood' is an essential purchase for you. Archaic Al Hewetson may have left the building but his legacy will proudly live forever now in the pages of beautiful books such as this one from Headpress. This is a damn fine book and here's hoping we get to see more 'Skywald' fun heading our way soon (full on reprints would be very welcome!) - check it out!
UK £14.99/US $24.95
By Jack Stevenson
There is a certain type of magazines, where, if you claim you buy them "for the articles", people will shake their heads and smile knowingly. And no, I'm not talking about PLAYBOY, which in this age of silicone might actually be worth buying more for the articles than the photos (not that I would know, officer!). Instead, I mean publications like THE BIG REEL, which consists almost exclusively of advertisement for movie ephemera. Here, collectors submit crudely handwritten or meticulously typed advertisements for posters, lobby cards, trailers, 16mm prints, projector lenses and everything else you need to run your own little movie house. It is an essential meeting place for the few film-obsessed souls who have not yet figured out how to get on the Internet.
But THE BIG REEL did in fact sometimes have readable articles, that were not just about what to do when your treasured film prints "go vinegar" (they really do, you know). Occasionally, an interesting article about an odd cult film or phenomenon would pop up. And every time, those articles were written by Jack Stevenson, US citizen, Danish resident, film collector, Scopitone expert and cult movie historian. Some of those texts, together with a whole lot more, have been collected in this volume. And fortunately, now you don't have to wade through pages of half-literate hand-written advertisement to get to them!
The book is divided into five thematic sections, covering cult film history, unusual people, cinemas and cinema managers, the phenomenon of "camp", and tales from the road. Some of these sections are more successful than others, and there is sometimes a little repetition indicating that this is more of a collection of individual texts than a monograph, but Stevenson's style is always readable and, when the topic allows, very funny.
We'll get some minor bad things out of the way first. My interest wavered considerably during a few chapters, like the history of Copenhagen's art house cinemas (no surprise there), and it is clear that not even Stevenson's enthusiasm can liven up certain topics. The book could have done with a little extra proofreading, not just to eliminate repetition but also to weed out some obvious mistakes (e.g. I'm sure Stevenson doesn't really think Stuart (RE-ANIMATOR) Gordon directed all those giant monster movies in the 50's (p. 18), especially as the director's correct first name Bert is used a few pages later!). Finally, if you are well read on cult film history, the content of some of the articles - such as that on William Castle - may seem overly familiar.
However, most of the book is a lot of fun and very informative, especially those where Stevenson can contribute both enthusiasm and unique knowledge. The opening chapter on REPTILICUS, and how director/producer Sidney Pink swindled the entire Danish film industry into making one of the worst giant monster movies ever made (complete with "the Reptilicus song" performed by a Danish comedian), is a joy. To realize that people in Denmark really thought this train-wreck of a film had a chance at the Oscars makes the mind boggle! The fact that Stevenson resides in Denmark certainly helped him with the research, and it's great to have this unique piece of film history documented.
Two of Stevenson's collecting specialities seem to be industrial films and Scopitone reels - a sort of film jukebox that was a fad in the 60's. The chapter on futuristic films (industrial and otherwise) is all too brief, and I have a feeling there may be a whole new book buried in this topic. But the chapter on the rise and fall of Scopitone tells the whole story very satisfyingly and compactly, and best of all, makes you yearn to see some of these surreal pre-cursors of the MTV music video. Filmed in garish colours, with exaggerated choreography and conservative music (the Scopitone owners were firmly sceptical to rock and other "long-hair" music, which led to the company's demise in the late 60's) these shorts seem to be beyond irony. I'm already searching the Internet for DVD collections.
But Stevenson is at his very best when telling stories from the cult film front lines - of theatre owners, film club organizers, projectionists and all sorts of odd people who brought strange films to the masses in 16 and 35 mm form. I used to be one of them, but just like many others, the availability of every scrap of American B-movie, Japanese monster flick, scratchy underground opus and Italian giallo on pristine DVD editions has made me throw in the towel. People simply don't go to theatres to see this kind of movies any more. Which is a shame, because the home "theatre" experience can never match the flickering magic of real film, threaded through a rattling projector, perhaps splicy, scratchy and faded, but alive. I have a feeling Stevenson's band of enthusiasts know what I'm talking about, and hopefully a few of them are still at it.
The chapters on experiences on the road - touring and screening cult films in Europe, the US and even Russia - are a lot of fun. The story of how Mike (THUNDERCRACK) Kuchar went AWOL during a tour of Europe, forcing Stevenson to sit in on an interview in Denmark, thus meeting his future wife, is priceless. And the tale of an impromptu visit to Moscow to screen the anti-communist classic RED NIGHTMARE is so bizarre, every word must be true. But my favourite is the Nyback Chronicles, about what must be one of the most stubborn, single-minded and downright crazy enthusiasts in the business. Dennis Nyback ran a series of cinemas in Seattle and New York, one more dishevelled than the next. Audience apathy at his innovative programming (HONG KONG HODGE PODGE consisted of the screening of five unrelated reels of black-and-white Chinese movies found in a garbage dumpster!) was the least of his troubles. Water leaks, stabbings in the next-door apartment, and visits from the public building inspectors (who needs a permit anyway?) should not bother a true movie lover. Last I heard, Nyback was touring Europe showing odd cartoons from his own collection - including the banned Donald Duck World War II short, DER FUHRER'S FACE, much to the dismay of Disney lawyers!
The final chapter in the book brings us full circle, by giving a worrying glimpse into true madness: the world of the avid film collector. I know, because I have been there, obsessively scanning THE BIG REEL for that elusive find (most people just don't know that the line "REVENGE OF DEAD, 35 mm, turning, some splices, $50" roughly translates to "you just hit Eurocult paydirt!") Stevenson brings us into this world of retired theatre projectionists, dumpster diving, and illegal transactions in apartments stinking of cat piss. I'm not sure why he consistently calls the magazine THE BIG SPOOL, but it's clear that we both once inhabited the same place. In fact, we even traded prints on more than one occasion: we showed his prints of Jon Moritsugu's underground epics and FOXY BROWN to stunned Gothenburg crowds, and he in turn treated Danish connoisseurs to the delirious delights of Lucio Fulci's ZOMBIE FLESH EATERS ("35 mm, good colour, $75"). I was too weak: I sold off the 500 kilos of celluloid in the attic and checked out of the cult film business. Stevenson is still there, looking for that pristine third reel of VIVA LAS VEGAS, keeping his projectors in shape, and hatching schemes of new screenings and tours of ever more obscure subjects, none of which will ever make any money. You should pay him a visit - by reading this book!
Review by Lars Erik Holmquist
UK £13.99/US $17.95
edited by David Kerekes
David Kerekes is a name that should be very familiar with SGM readers, as well as being one of the key players in the Headpress publishing line he's also the writer behind some massively (and rightly so) popular genre tomes including the phenomenal 'See No Evil - Banned Films and Video Controversy' (a must have for every fan of the Video Nasty era) and 'Sex Murder Art - The Films of Jorg Buttgereit' (a personal insight into the seminal German genre film maker).
With this hopefully first volume in a series of ongoing genre fan book/zines Kerekes indulges in his love for vintage classic British horror with a sly tip of the hat to the long dwindling fanzine scene. 'Creeping Flesh' presents a collection of overviews, reviews and interviews by various genre scribes covering everything from the long lost BBC horror archives to the most obscure of underground forgotten British films. Of course there will be sections that may be familiar to regular readers of genre books and fanzines (the BBC Ghostwatch and Dr Terrible's House of Horrible coverage is welcome but all too familiar) this is by far overcome by the masses of articles on films and teleplays that we wont have seen and sadly wont have any chance to do so (thanks to the sickening disregard by archivists back in the 1970's).
The extensive coverage of the old tradition of original BBC horror production (and not so fortunate print destruction) is one of the highlights of this edition and for myself the delightfully alluring review/interview articles of Alan Birkinshaw's virtually unseen perverse UK shocker 'Killer's Moon' which will have you screaming for a re-release on the DVD format for all to rediscover it's very British exploitative wonders (and a release of 'Assault' wouldn't go amiss also!?)
Rounding off this sizeable (160 pages or so) book is a collection of reviews of small press fanzines and books, carrying on the tried and tested format used in the publishing houses ongoing mainstay Headpress collection. No bad thing as it works well and here is improved upon specifically due to its selfish indulgence in our beloved genre.
'Creeping Flesh' is very reminiscent of those great old UK horror fanzines that indulged in their producers love for the real British underground scene and steering clear of the easy route of mainstream coverage. Each of the contributors cant be faulted for their obvious dedication and love for their particular retro faves (even though if truth be told films like 'Sleepwalker' don't merit such indulgence) and hence you cant help but be caught up in their excitement for these old gems, 'Creeping Flesh' captures this love for the British genre scene perfectly. Don't let 'Creeping Flesh' go the same route of those beloved fanzines of old (i.e. out of production after two or three editions), go pick up a copy and be there with what will hopefully be the start of something special for those of us that still love all that is wondrous in the British horror genre. Nice one!
UK £13.99/US $17.95
by Stephen Sennitt
Creatures of Clay is a collection of short works by author Stephen Sennitt. I've called them works, as 'story' is too precise a term for what they are. Sennitt writes in a style all his own and to be quite honest, it's quite hard to define what it is he writes. These are not conventional tales as we would usually be accustomed to reading; these are more 'flow-of-conscious' scribblings. That's not to say that that's a bad thing, it's not - this is an extraordinary collection of writings by an extraordinary author who is gifted with a supreme talent for tapping into the worlds of the bizarre and the fantastic.
As I've said, it's quite hard to describe what Sennitt writes about. The best way I can do is by saying that each segment is like a snapshot of an ephemeral world populated by strange landscapes and otherworldly people and creatures. They're very Lovecraftian in nature and also, as I was reading, I was reminded of William Burroughs' Naked Lunch. The style is very abstract and doesn't follow the usual narrative paths, and yet is compelling reading. It's like the fleeting glimpses of other universal possibilities that we sometimes catch in dreams and nightmares. The sense that there is something lurking at the door, but we never quite get to see what it is - but we know it is there. Each tale is written as if something is not quite right, everything seems as it should be, but we know that it is not.
It's a strange little book, but it's excellently written and Sennitt uses 'old world' style English to great effect without overdoing it. He manages to draw the reader in and engulf them in his nightmarish, yet oddly beautiful, visions of a netherworld that is seemingly just beyond our grasp.
Creatures of Clay is wonderful book and I would definitely recommend seeking out a copy. It may knock you off-balance at first, as it's an unusual writing style, but I would encourage you to persevere, as once you're into it you'll find within its pages a collection of richly imaginative tales that you will find strangely haunting.
Review by CJ
a guide to sleazy, mindless movies
by Steven Puchalski
Back in the 1980's, long before the advent of the DVD format, beer swilling genre fan Steven Puchalski trawled through all the mom and pop video stores to discover the many delights (and disasters) that were literally pummeling the video market...B movies, Z movies, schlock horrors, biker flicks and blaxploitation gems - you name it, Steven was watching it and sharing his opinions through his long defunct fanzine 'Slimetime'.
Thankfully the team at Headpress publishing persuaded Puchalski to gather together all his reviews (and some more) for publication here in this weighty and vastly impressive tome which like his fanzine is also titled 'Slimetime'.
Mere months after I had salivated openly over the stunning FAB Press volume 'DVD Delirium' along comes yet another simply essential guide to the genre scene - this time though covering all that's good and bad about hundreds of genre movies that have yet to see the light of day on the DVD format. Like Puchalski, I too spent years watching countless trash movies on rental video back in the video boom 1980's, many of which I had completely forgot existed (or perhaps blanked from my mind) but with 'Slimetime' you can rediscover the grade Z delights that the low budget genre movie can bring. Sure there's some of your favourite gut munchers in here along with Godzilla and his monstrous chums but there's stacks you won't know about...for myself personally, I was delighted with the extensive blaxploitation coverage - so much so that I immediately purchased Brentwood's 10 flick blaxploitation DVD set to rediscover such bewildering movies as The Black Gestapo, and this was purely on the power of Puchalski's excellent coverage.
Now what is it that makes Puchalski's work so entertaining? Well, quite simply it is his refreshingly honest approach to the genre - brutally honest and often highly amusing, Puchalski's reviews are some of the best you're likely to read and with 'Slimetime' you get a whopping big collection of his cross genre work.
This latest edition of 'Slimetime' is welcomingly an update of it's previous printing with more than 150 additional reviews and three extensive articles covering the genre histories of Biker Movies, the Blaxploitation scene and Hallucinogenics in Films (need I say anymore!) Fully illustrated throughout, 'Slimetime' is one of the best genre books to come out in 2002 and hence should be top of your reading shopping list - film fans will thrill at the cool coverage and DVD producers should be using this as a guide to what to license for future release. Simply brilliant - buy this one now!
UK £15.95/US $24.95
by Johannes Schonherr
One of my pet hates through life has been the devil may care attitude of students who 'take a year out' to go travelling, lazy good for nothings I say - well that was until I read Johannes Schonherr's 'Trashfilms Roadshow'. And perhaps I should apologise to Johannes in advance for initially categorising him with those wayward academic drifters. You see Johannes is an entirely different beast indeed. Born and raised in East Germany, he realised his love of exploitation and trash cinema by submersing himself into becoming a sort of one-man crusader for the low budget extreme cinema genre.
Travelling around the globe, turning up in cities world-wide with some reels of film under his arm he would set up impromptu screenings of the works of such luminaries as Nick Zedd and Richard Kern to a bewildered audience (and if you've seen some of these films you'd understand why!) 'Trashfilms Roadshows' is an engrossing account of Schonherr's travels and while some may think that perhaps this would inevitably just be some sort of glorified travelogue you'll find that this couldn't be further from the truth.
The book goes into thrilling detail about such delights as the riots following Zedd's arrival in Germany and the unintentionally amusing reaction to Kern's appearance, then there's Schonherr's bizarre escapades in Moscow, the tragic last days of G G Allin, his travels across the States and his truly surreal trip to North Korea. As well as the fact that Schonherr seems to recognise no boundaries, his delivery here telling you about his many adventures is done in such a frank manner that you can do nothing but be wholly engrossed as soon as you start reading through this fascinating journal.
For a few years now I've known many folk that work in the film festival circuit and on occasion when helping out I've noted the vast amount of work that these folk put into such ventures, but it is only when you read about the life of a guy such as Johannes Schonherr that you can appreciate not only are these static festival programmers doing some job but that this guy blows them all away with his deep rooted passion and unquestionable commitment to his cinematic love. I tip my hat with nothing but complete respect to Schonherr and I'm very sure that once you've delved into this stunning book that you'll do the same also.
If you're a fan of underground cinema then you'll have no doubt read the 'Cinema of Transgression' book that hit the market a few years back and no doubt like myself you probably found it a rather dry and clinical read, 'Trashfilms Roadshow' redresses the balance with some very personal tales of Schonherr's time spent with the film makers at the fore of the scene.
Johannes Schonherr is one of those guys that you could listen to for hours tell his many wild and wonderful tales - but he's no doubt out there somewhere travelling around with his film cans under his arm, so we'll have to make do with reading this fine tome. Perhaps one of the most gratifying film journal books that you'll ever read, 'Trashfilms Roadshow' is essential reading - buy it now!
UK £14.99/US $19.95Headpress 23: Funhouse
Edited by David Kerekes
You would have thought that the excellent Factory 2000 special edition of Headpress 22 would be a hard cat to follow but not so with the release of this latest edition that concentrates on the insanity that is the 70's shocker 'Last House on Dead End Street'!
While fans have been waiting for quite some time to get their hands on Barrel's impending very special edition DVD release, Headpress have published the definitive companion guide to this infamous movie. This extensive coverage by David Kerekes is without doubt the final word on the subject with in depth interviews and overviews on not only director Roger Watkins but his movie career outside of Dead End Street (mainly of the porno variety) and interviews with some of the key players involved in Last House's production. Kerekes handling of this is lovingly executed beginning with Watkin's resurfacing on the FAB press message board, their email communications through to his apprehensive journey to the US to meet up with this long elusive cult director. No stone is left unturned throughout the process and you'll never need any other insight into Watkin's work after reading this exhaustive overview. Informative and delightfully entertaining.
But being as Headpress is there's a lot more to this publication than just a Dead End special as along with the usual vast and varied collection of 'culture guide' reviews (books, comics, movies from all genres - they're all here) there's some more great articles in a similarly diverse vein of genre fun. This edition kicks off with an excellent festival report by Barrel Entertainment's John Szpunar as he and Barrel partner Brian Krueger head off to Vancouver for the Cine Muerte film festival. What appealed to me most about Szpunar's report is that it really bangs the nail on the head of the festival experience, well for me anyway! Whilst you would expect to read reviews of the countless films screening what you actually get is an account of two industry guys out on the piss, checking out local bars and their inhabitants - forget sex and death, this is booze and Buttgereit and great fun reading it is too (and now I realise that it's not just me that suffers at these events!)
Other articles of interest include a piece on the bizarre but little discussed UK gem 'Mutations' (the scene with Popeye in action has never left my memory), an amusing tale of violence with Marilyn Manson, a worrying account of lap dancing in Greece and a very freaky graphic depiction of the perverse act of the Bukkake. Add to this some great additional interviews with porn starlet Justine Romee, cult novelist Tom Robbins and popular art icon Joe Coleman and you have an amazing package that not only represents a stack of great reading but damn good value for money too!
Headpress continually surpasses itself in terms of high-end quality reading and being priced at only £8.99 you really shouldn't have any reason not to pick it up. If you're planning to pick up Barrel's 'Dead End' special edition then you really must get this too. A contender for the best genre publication available, 'Headpress' is an essential purchase for SGM readers.
UK £8.99/US $14.50
Inside the American Hardcore Film Industry
by Anthony Petkovich
Let's get things straight right away, I enjoy a bit of porn but I'm still stuck in the retro joys of 70's porn ala French classics starring Brigitte Lahaie and US gems like the vastly underrated 'Femmes de Sade' and 'Babyface'. My opinion of the new generation of porn has been somewhat lacking...that was until I read Anthony Petkovich's labour of love (or should that be lust) 'The X Factory'.
'The X factory' is without doubt one of the most comprehensive inside looks at the people behind the adult film industry scene. What is obvious from the outset is that Petkovich is a connoisseur himself, his knowledge and appreciation of the scene is vast and deservedly admirable and respectable. The book is a massive collection of intimate interviews with both the stars of the porn video boom and the directors/producers of said movies. The candid chat is amusing and at times quite sad...on one hand you get great yarns like Isis Nile's strip dance freak out for starlet rebellion but also you will note the number of starlets whose earliest sexual experiences where of forced sexual assault. Though one thing you will find from reading this engrossing tome is that each and everyone of the parties involved are very much honest and Petkovich does a sterling job of portraying perfectly an insight into their true being.
It's not just the lovely ladies of the scene that we get inside the minds of here but also some of the key male players also. There's a great interview with the legendary John Holmes, again a very open and thoughtful conversation that will please his many fans no end and an great piece with the new wave porn svengali Gregory Dark. In honesty I had never heard of the mans work (shame on me) but after reading the fascinating coverage of his Dark Works Productions I'm positively gagging to check out the bizarre but stunning looking 'Sex Freaks' movie (anyone fancy a SGM review?)
'The X factory' is without doubt one of the most fascinating books that I have read in a long time. As a fan of porn I was personally engrossed by this overview of a scene that I had obviously lost track of (man, why are US porn aficionados so into anal penetration these days though? - not my bag at all!) Not just a book about gang bangs, double penetration and taking it up the ass (that's not to say that there isn't lots of stimulating pics for you to peruse...as there is) but a honest and refreshing peek inside the minds of the people involved in bringing this lovely entertainment to us. This is one that you'll keep picking up for a long time to come and an essential read for anyone with even the slightest interest in the adult entertainment scene. Buy it!
UK £14.99/US $19.95
and other stories of rock 'n' roll excess
by Andrew Darlington
If like me any of you folk are heading creaking towards the older codger side of life (i.e. 'Top of the Pops' starts to sound like the bewildering mess that your parents always ranted about) then you'll remember the halcyon days of 70's rock and the growth of the punk/new wave scene (and hey some of you probably have even earlier cherished memories). One of the pleasures of the old days of rock 'n' roll was delving into doses of cool music journalism from countless fanzines and rags like 'Sounds' et al - proper interviews with 'real' rock personas.
Now some of you are thinking what the hell is he dribbling on about this for? Well, Andrew Darlington's tome 'I Was Elvis Presley's Bastard Love-Child' takes you swiftly back to those long lost days as he journeys through decades of 'real' rock 'n' roll interviewing a diverse selection of some of the lesser discussed (but highly interesting) artists.
From the bathroom pop scene of the late Joe Meek right up to the latter day rebels the Stone Roses, 'I Was Elvis Presley's Bastard Love-Child' digs deep into the thoughts of many of rocks unrequited heroes, their music and their excesses during their times in the spotlight. Whilst not always a 'Rock Babylon' there are plenty of fun eyebrow raising antics going on here, ranging from the wanton sexuality of Grace Slick who almost screwed the whole of her band Jefferson Airplane to the somewhat sad tinges of Peter Green and his world outside of Fleetwood Mac. This one covers it all with such a widespread of artist involvement that it would be impossible to list them all here (my own personal favourites though where the aforementioned Slick, chummy Mark E Smith of The Fall and the wise words of Ralf Hutter from Kraftwerk).
What I can say though, if you've even half an interest in the nitty gritty of the minds of the real musos behind the rock scene then 'I Was Elvis Presley's Bastard Love-Child' is a wholly engrossing read and one that you'll be delving into for quite some time too. Highly recommended - check it out!
UK £13.99/US $19.95
When the latest edition of 'Headpress' (no.22) arrived here at SGM I had a quick flick through it then promptly buried myself away with it for the rest of the night. I openly admit that I'm a big fan of the Headpress line and this latest edition of their in-house series amazingly surpasses all that have gone before...
One of the key differences with this particular volume is the fact that editor/publisher David Kerekes has made a welcome change to the books format with an extensive (62 pages!) spotlight section which this edition covers the work of the cool folk at Factory 2000. If you haven't heard of the Factory's work then you really should correct that right now! They're a small bunch of independent film makers who make some of the craziest low budget sex/exploitation flicks out there at the moment (and their entourage includes the simply gorgeous Misty Mundae). The extended coverage of Factory 2000's work contained in this latest Headpress edition really is the most definitive overview of their work delivered in an informative and highly entertaining manner with reviews, interviews and drunken reportages on all their work. Simply late night perfect reading!
But that's not all that's going on here, there's still an additional 100+ pages of all sorts of diverse reading that should peek everyones interest. There's a engrossing piece on the BBC's bizarre 'Ghost Watch' TV show that caused some furore when first broadcast, a cool interview with ex-porn star Jeanie Rivers by an obviously smitten fan and stacks more interviews, reviews and short fiction work. As well as the aforementioned I personally thoroughly enjoyed the great retro article on the comic-book/vinyl fun from Power Records back in the 70's (remember them gang?) and the excellent short story by Jane Graham which takes a snapshot peek at the lives of some ladies from the strip club scene. The Reviews section of Headpress is always stuffed to the guddles with an amazing amount of goodies for the genre fan (and some cool off kilter stuff) - everything from the legendary (and now censor friendly) 'Salo' to the wild head shaving world of 'Yankee Clipper'.
Probably the two main reasons why 'Headpress' is one of the most entertaining reads out there just now is the fact that a) Kerekes and his contributors obviously love the material their working with so intensely you can't help but be drawn in and b) the wide spectrum of material covered in each edition makes it a deeply engrossing and diverse read. 'Headpress 22' is available now - waste no time and order it immediately (in fact you would be better taking out a subscription as the next edition will have massive coverage on Roger Watkins and his soon to be rediscovered film 'Last House on Dead End Street'.
UK £8.99/US $14.99
Sex Drugs low Art in Sixties & Seventies Britain
by Martin Jones
I have to admit I was scratching my head a bit when Headpress/Critical Vision's latest tome landed on my lap. At first glance, 'Psychedelic Decadence' seems to be a bit of a hodge podge of all sorts of subjects, covering everything from the cheesy old 'Confessions...' films to Biker pulp novels, from Fawlty Towers TV show to Dracula AD 1972!
It's not until you scratch under the surface of this fine publication that you are immersed in a trip down memory lane, travelling with author Jones as he reminisces about the oft bizarre pop culture of the UK (or possibly more precisely Imperial England) in the sixties and seventies. Both wholly engrossing and enjoyable, 'Psychedelic Decadence' shows us now just how niave and fun the media culture of the days of old really could be.
As well as covering a very varied types of themes (as mentioned earlier), there is a great amount here that will be of great interest to genre movie fans. Highlights include sections on folk like director Michael Reeves, Dracula AD 1972, Ingrid Pitt, bizarre cult fave 'Psychomania', equally bizarre cult actor Mike Raven and lots more. Additionally I personally got a great kick out of the sections on the comic book '2000AD' and the excellent section on Seventie's UK Porn : "Alexandra is very purposeful-looking; her face suggests that she wants to fuck you to death...and beyond" Too right!
Possibly my only criticism of this fine book would be that I wish there had been more depth to each of the covered subjects. At times you get a taste of a particular subject and you wish there had been more. A small downer though as the wide variety of subject matter alone should keep any reader more than justifiably happy. Soak up the decadent vibes man and chill out in a sub culture than died long ago. Very cool!
UK £12.99/US $19.95
by David Huxley
Now in just about every genre movie fan there's a comic geek, tucked away in the recesses of their childhood. No denying it, part of growing up was the wonder of comics and more so when you'd stray off the beaten track of Marvel and DC to come across one of the more lurid 'underground' titles. A slice of subversive graphic eye candy that could easily be hidden from parents prying eyes in the midst of your Spiderman books.
David Huxley's 'Nasty Tales' takes you on a journey through the history of Britain's 'underground' comic book press, from the 60's to the 80's. Covering not only the 'history' of the scene but it takes a long hard look at the key areas that found the core of what it's all about - Sex, Drugs and Rock 'n Roll. And with that in mind, there is the side that is familiar to us movie freaks also - Censorship. The book covers the lot, and in fine detail too - surely a first for this particular area and a welcome one.
For me, 'Nasty Tales' truly was a wondrous trip down memory lane. Long had I forgotten about such printed delights as 'Graphixus', 'Warrior' and 'Ally Sloper' - mags I thought had ran for years (but actually hadn't), the backgrounds to their creation, the troubles with distribution, printers and censors. It's all here in this highly enjoyable tome of the British Underground Comic Press.
If you're one of the unlucky ones that only ever has came across the likes of 'Viz' and the 'Freak Brothers' (they're here also!) give yourself a wee treat and see what you've been missing. The only 'bummer' to a book like this is when you're reading it there's loads of cool comics that you'd love to actually read (for me it has to be Antonio Ghura's 'Truly Amazing Love Stories' and Dez Skinn's 'Warrior' magazine) but the chance of actually tracking some of these down must be nigh on impossible ! And the ideal opportunity is there now for a follow up to this fine book to reprint some of the best strips from the British scene (go for it Headpress!)
But I digress, 'Nasty Tales' is a thoroughly enjoyable read from someone who was obviously right inside the heart of the scene. David Huxley has done a very thorough job, especially considering the scarcity of much of the UK underground magazines.
So, take a fun trip down comic geek memory lane or discover what you missed first time round. Either way, you'll have great fun reading about it !
UK £13.95/US $19.95
by David Kerekes
What have we here then ? A book about the films of Jorg Buttgereit, producer of such golden grim gems as Nekromantik, Der Todes King and Schramm. Wow, what can I say, Buttgereits film are so off track and rarely seen I was suprised (but thrilled) to see a book about his work available.
Author David Kerekes doesn't let the reader down at all with this excellent in-depth retrospective of Buttgereit's work. Opening (and setting the scene beautifully) during the filming of 'Schramm' with Kerekes reporting from a dank disused bedsit used for stashing JB's film prints (fearing the authoritys reaction to his work), we're taken on an extra-ordinary journey with Jorg and his ensemble whilst making their movies. Kerekes work is great, you really get the feel for all involved in the film making process - a very honest and thoroughly interesting read.
Everythings covered here - all the films, the screening troubles, the bootleggers (see horror buff Chas Balun in a new light) with stacks of great stills throughout (boy, that Buttgereit likes to be around some very beautiful women !)
An exhaustive tome, that really leaves no stone unturned going over every detail of Buttgereits film career. Stuffed to the guddles with brilliant anecdotes (both funny and some down-right bizarre), 'Sex Murder Art' is not only an essential purchase for any fan of Buttgereits work but is highly recommended to anyone with an interest in the independent film-making process. Facsinating, fun and informative - buy it !!
David Kerekes and David Slater
Now, let me start by saying this - if you're only going to be buying one film book this year, then buy this one !! Yeah, I know, a strong statement indeed - but an excellent book this is...
'See No Evil' is a sprawling testament to the the whole 'video nasty' era, starting with the introduction of video movies to the UK market, taking you through to the Video Recordings Act in 1984 and the consequences (including the black market) that followed. To say this book is detailed is a vast understatement, every little nook and cranny from the era is discussed, backed up with interviews and images to strengthen the scenario. Producers, distributors, bootleggers - they've all got a story to tell, and they're all here.
Obsessive fans of the old 'Video Nastie List' will absolutely love the comprehensive look at each horror film contained on the list - complete with backgrounds, reviews and print variations available. The section on the Black Market is very entertaining and captures the feel of the scene very well and the overview of the media and horror film culture is both intelligent and informative.
For myself, reading 'See No Evil' is a trip down memory lane to what was a very exciting time for horror fans in the UK and the book captures that beautifully. To this day, folk across the globe are interested in the whole censorship controversy here in the UK and this book is the only one you'll ever need on the subject. One of the best genre publications available - but it now !!
Now, here's where I hang my head in shame - 'Headpress 20' lands on my lap and I regretably have to admit I've been absent for the previous 19 editions (Shame !!). Headpress publication's flagship magazine come book is published sporadically and each edition comes packed with a varied collection of articles, news and reviews covering various sub-cultures that generally are a bit off the beaten track (and all the more pleasurable for it!)
'Headpress 20' includes among other things pieces on Pulp mags, female boxing, sex, Elvis, The Exorcist, sex, Godzilla, The Wicker Man, sex, Exploited Films, interviews and a more mini reviews than you can shake a stick at.
Horror fans will be particularly impressed with the pieces on 'Exploited Films' that not only covers all their releases but has a great interview with the guys behind the company also. There's also a great piece on the 'The Wicker Man' which will get you warmed up nicely for next years Anchor Bay re-release and Jorg Buttgereit pops up also to interview rubber monster maestro Shusuke Kaneko about his films.
A very admirable publication that impressed me no end, bags of fun and fascinating too. There's lots going on here so there really is something to please everyone, why this isn't stocked on the magazine/book shelves of every sane newsagents is beyond me !
Do yourself a favour and pick a copy up, but I'll bet the urge to subscribe will soon follow. Nice one !
Ahh - we do enjoy our comic books here at SGM ! And when 'Killer Komix 2' arrived here, a satisfied smile stretched across my face. 'Killer Komix 2' harks back to the old days of comic book publishing when artists, writers and publishers where a bit more willing to take a chance when it came to more challenging and powerful material.
A selection of comic book adaptions based on real life killers and their activities including Bible John (SGM local boy), the Yorkshire Ripper, Fred West, Jack the Ripper and an amusing literal take on Ted Bundy. The style throughout the book varies greatly but always consistent in its strong underground feel.
Strictly for people with a wicked taste in comic book entertainment, as it continually pushes the boundaries of both visual and scripted so-called acceptability. Though sadly one of the strips suffers from fear of the UK's Obscenity Laws with the editing of penetration/oral shots (though please note this in no way detracts from your reading pleasure!)
Don't go picking this one up because of the subject matter involved, yeah, I know the forbidden fruit element of its content makes it a highly attractive package to some of you out there. But do indeed buy it because it is in fact a great slice of comic book entertainment which in quality and style hasn't been seen since the good old days of the underground hey-day. Check it out fright fans !!
For more details on Headpress and Critical Vision publications and how to order your own copies, head on over to their official-unofficial website here.Back