Afterall, my exposure to exploitation (sex and violence) at a very early age, and subsequent addiction, is part of what compelled me to make some films of my own, as minor as they are.
"PULP AS A WAY OF LIFE", my description of this blog, ought to cover how pulp has affected my life, and my work. If it doesn't, it's derelict in its duty.
One's passion for literature and film and illustration (and variations thereof) permeates our everyday lives.
Not an hour goes by that is not colored by a thought, a memory, a recollection, or a recreation (in our minds) of something fantastique that has moved us.
It is always there.
It lives and grows and mutates inside us, giving rise to a fresh, new synthesis of its purest elements
Until very recently, Australia was a heavily censored country. The theatrical releases of The Hills Have Eyes, Dawn of the Dead, Maniac and Zombie Flesh Eaters were all cut.
Last House on the Left was banned for almost thirty years.
When I was a young boy, even a teenager, I could only imagine the true extent of the grisliest, most violent content released overseas. I could only dream of and speculate about what I was missing.
Or maybe I could create it myself... within the walls of censorship? .
In the late 70's, I got hold of an American X-rated film periodical called Adult Cinema Review.
In it, a film called Weekend Fantasy ('84) was reviewed. The film starred a bloke named Bill Margold as the leader of a gang of miscreants (male and female) who kidnap and sexually enslave various women as part of a secret sex club. According to the review, the film's standout scene of degeneracy featured a rape by Margold in a chicken coop. During the scene, Margold's penis really got bitten and blood spurted out of it. Like a trooper, he continued with the scene through to its conclusion.
After reading this account, I felt like I'd been tapped on the shoulder and anointed with a mission to create a Weekend Fantasy of my own, a home-grown strike against Australia's draconian censorship laws.
The descriptions of the film's sexual anarchy touched a nerve in me. They lit a wicked fire.
All X-rated films were banned in Australia at the time. There wasn't any possibility that I would get to see Weekend Fantasy or its ilk anytime soon. How far these films really pushed the envelope I didn't know. I only had stills to go on, and stills can be deceptive.
But these images of long ago (which I have no access to now) inspired me to take a crack at creating my only sexually violent hell on Earth... on Super-8!
Simple-set up: Three friends on a cross-country walk stop to relax in the ruins of an old house.
Almost immediately, they are attacked and raped by two savages who reside in the ruins. In the process of destroying the bodies of their victims (who are predominantly male), the savages gain great physical power and an extension on their mortality.
Most importantly, the victims who are witness to the destruction of their friends, begin to enjoy what they are witness to, and become reluctantly "infected" by the sexual violence, as if it is some kind of contagion.
The victims become the voyeurs...
... and the voyeurs become the new aggressors, embracing their primal natures.
None of this is explicitly stated in dialog (there is no dialog), and the film has no hardcore sex, but this theme of submitting to perversion's power is what drove the concept.
When my brother and I screened these films at a well known community film festival in Melbourne's St. Kilda area, we were shown the door. Although we had been accepted into the festival, nobody had watched the films themselves. Screened beside meaningful lesbian love stories and accounts of community do-gooding, our poems to sexual anarchy got no respect (and rightly so).
Because the festival was government subsidized, there were complaints to government administrators about the single screening of these films with complainants arguing that such "rubbish" had no business being screened at a tax payer-funded festival.
Although I had made close to forty Super-8 shorts before these two, these were the most satisfying of my experiences in filmmaking.
The simple scenario permitted total creative freedom.
At the time I was obsessing about contrast and juxtaposition in art, so here was a great opportunity to experiment with the beauty/brutality mix that was firing my passion; finally I was stepping beyond simple depictions of aesthetically satisfying mayhem (not that there's anything wrong with that!)
When the films were screened at various festivals, my brother and I were always asked by audience members why the film's sexual violence was mostly homosexual. Surely there were complex, deeply considered reasons?
Whether you're male or female, rape is a terrible, invasive act, even if only imagined.
If I wanted to depict it, gender wasn't especially relevant to me.
The fact is, as a Melbourne teenager, I simple didn't know any girls who would agree to participate in such a film.
The guys I knew didn't have a problem doing anything. They just loved making movies.
They turned up and did their part.
End of discussion.
Interestingly, whenever these films were screened, males either loved them or got mad at me for making them.
The male/male rapes bothered some men a lot.
One guy threatened to hit me at a New Year's Eve bash when a friend suggested I screen the films in a lead-up to the the Witching Hour. I did try to explain that the films weren't really an appropriate entree into the New Year, but the ears of my friend (God bless him) were clearly painted on that night.
Richard Wolstencroft, creator of the infamous Melbourne
Underground Film Festival (MUFF), rebels against
Underground Film Festival (MUFF), rebels against
I don't like a lot of what I've done. I'm very, very critical. Much of it feels compromised and uneven.
I do like the Beyond The Pale flicks , though, which I made with my brother.
They're my example of Fuck You! Filmmaking, a type of filmmaking that the worship of the almighty dollar has virtually destroyed.
But, you know what? It's coming back! It's coming back because the old distribution ways for indie films are no longer working.
Our beloved classics of pulp in film, literature, and illustration (and variations thereof) were forged with a Fuck You! attitude and no concessions to mediocrity.
For anything truly original, no other approach will do.
You'll only have to kowtow to the mediocre when the mediocre are funding you.
I was inspired by the "idea" of Weekend Fantasy, but what I ended up with was something entirely different, a pure synthesis of personal perspective and diverse influences.
He smiled, walked me to his office, and introduced me to his collection of Garfield-like stuffed cats. He called me "Kid" a lot, and talked about Viper, the love of his life, a woman (now gone) for whom he still carries a flaming torch nothing will ever extinguish.
I have caught up with Bill on several occasions and am always so impressed with his brutal honesty and capacity for tenderness and humor.
These are traits I find often in most true apostles of pulp.
I must confess, however, that it can be hard sometimes to reconcile Bill with the chicken coop of my teen dreams.