Friday, June 28, 2013

Detroit Ad Mat Massacre

When you live in Detroit and love exploitation movies, this is where the action's at.

Caught this dubious double at the NORTHGATE, my Saturday afternoon hangout in the years I spent in the Motor City. I couldn't get enough of the NORTHGATE's sticky floors, shitty projection, and unbeatable double bills. 

The first saw I saw an uncut XXX-rated flick at a theater was in Detroit. The venue was the KRIM (Woodward and 6 Mile), a sleazy dive in a sleazy part of town. That place was a trip, and I patronized it at least twice a month.  Manhattan Mistress was a solid sex flick shot on film.

Melbourne, my home town, had many adult theaters, but in my heady teen years when I was 'forced' to sneak into these churches of ill repute, all the movies had their hardcore scenes scissored. 

Great cast, pretty decent film. Caught this at the ADAMS in Downtown Detroit. 

Not sure why I didn't see it at the NORTHGATE, which was closer to where I was living at the time, but that's life.

The good stuff also played at the famous BEL AIR DRIVE-IN, another preferred haunt of mine at the time.

More KRIM excellence. It was always tricky parking in a safe place in this area. I never did get broken into,  but I often worried about it while enjoying these feasts of flesh.

Eventually, I began attending the CAPRI on Gratiot for my XXX-rated needs.

NORTHGATE for this one. Not a bad waste of time. I never liked Leon Isaac Kennedy much. Found him kind of wimpy. Still, Penitentiary II was good stuff, and I remember getting into a conversation with some black dude about what I, an Australian, was doing watching this movie at the NORTHGATE in Detroit. It was a long story.

Dallas School Girls: not so hot. Centerfold Fever: fantastic. Another fine Saturday afternoon at the KRIM.

The ONLY place to see this was the ADAMS. Saw it on its opening Friday night and loved every trashy minute. A couple weeks later, I saw it again at the NORTHGATE.  

Super hot flick starring the beautiful Kandi Barbour. According to my diary, caught this on a Wednesday night at the KRIM. Not sure what I was doing in that part of town on a Wednesday night. Looking for a pimp job? 

NORTHGATE again. How I loved that place! I remember Satan's Mistress being  plodding, but I didn't leave disappointed because The Slumber Party Massacre was decent stuff. 

Caught at the ADAMS. Tried convincing wife of the moment to join me, but she'd have none of it. Not a damn morsel. So, off I went to spend the evening with the lovely Jayne Kennedy and her husband Leon Isaac.  This Cirio D. Santiago flick is a fun actioner with Leon as a bad guy. Very good stuff.

I don't know why I still have a soft spot for John Russo's Midnight; it's a bit of mess, really, but it boasts a sleazy, nihilistic tone that always rubs me the right way. It has Larry Tierney, too. Catching it at the NORTHGATE made it ten times better, I suppose. That joint had atmosphere to spare. The audience was mostly black and they loved it. Heaps of really young kids in the audience, too. 

Naturally, I stayed for William Fruet's Funeral Home, which was OK, and licked up a second screening of Midnight. I got so much into Midnight, I even bought the LP, which was fuckin horrible "'re all alone, you're on your own, and midnight's at your door..."  

I worked for Orion Pictures in Detroit in the '81-'83 period, and once met the guy who programmed the NORTHGATE and a basket of other hardtops . His name was Bill Brown. I struck up a pleasant conversation with Bill, and he expressed some shock that I wanted to see ANYTHING at the NORTHGATE when there were much better theaters around. I had to point out to him that it was the movies I cared about , not the theaters. Bill, a pretty conservative guy, didn't quite understand that. 

Come to think of it, the THEATERS were a consideration, especially when they were fleapits. 

Even though this rotten pile of shit played at the ADAMS and NORTHGATE, I saw it at the SHOWCASE STERLING HEIGHTS for some goddamn reason. Looking now at the venues it played at, I'm shocked, and  must conclude that somebody behind this had some major influence with the local bookers. Unbelievable that this played so many quality theaters; it even played the ABBEY, which was only a mile or two from the SHOWCASE. Today, a flick like this would be lucky to get a DVD release.

The late Gary Graver (aka Robert MacCallum) directed and produced. His porn flicks were much more interesting.

It was a toss-up between the ADAMS and the BEL AIR for this one. Like a good boy, I went with the ADAMS. 

It turned out to be a slice of badly choreographed Godfrey Ho nonsense. I drove home in a depressed state through sleet and snow and questioned the direction my life was taking.

That lasted for about six hours; I was back at the NORTHGATE for another putrid outrage a day later.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Crimson Celluloid and Aussie Zines

CRIMSON CELLULOID was a great little Aussie 'zine (from Sydney) that covered porn, Asian cinema, horror, American exploitation, and everything lurid and bloody in between.

Editors were Brett Garten, the great David Nolte (all-round genre and serial killer authority), and Ant Timpson. I knew Brett and David personally, but didn't meet Ant at the time the mag was being published because he wasn't in Sydney when I'd visit the CC boys. He went back to New Zealand, I think. I later met him and his brother at a couple of Melbourne Film Festivals.

Still, what a stellar mag from a rarefied period just before the internet changed a lot of things.

The review below of Nekromantik is by the indefatigable Michael Helms, who went on to create and edit FATAL VISIONS, the legendary Melbourne-based 'zine. I wrote a Hong Kong film column myself for FV called 'Chinatown Beat'.

Below is an early Australian review for A BETTER TOMORROW written way before almost any Westerner was writing about Woo films. 

Tony Egan, who became a solid friend of mine, wrote often for CC, and was a die-hard HK film fanatic. Tony is also a film director/writer/sharp editor. He cut my film SENSITIVE NEW AGE KILLER with MASTURBATING GUNMAN actor Robin Brennan.

Also below is a Timpson review of the Sammo Hung vehicle DEAD AND THE DEADLY.  

As noted below, other contributors to CC were Joey Inferno (aka Wally Ramborama aka Peter ?), who also went on to create his own 'zine, PSYCHO IN THE DARK. Years later, he'd open a collectible store in Melbourne, and rumor has it, the store is still going strong.

Shane Harrison contributed to FV also; and Richard Kuipers went on to produce SBS's 'The Movie Show' and edit the Australian arm of Variety.

Another interesting 'zine from Melbourne was SEPSIS. 

Consistent with its title, it focused on the grislier side of life, dishing up porn reviews, galleries of deformed Brazilian babies, and articles on flesh-eating diseases. 

The mag was also one of the first to cover the European 'Shit Lovers' series from Choc, a real company. These VHS's (pirated, of course) were even sold from a South Australian PO Box for a while.

I'd post scans if I could find my collection of SEPSIS, but I don't have the energy right now to move fifty boxes of shit. 

Another terrific Sydney-based 'zine was BETTY PAGINATED. A fantastic mag with a strong focus on porn -- although the issue below also featured a great piece on Mark 'Chopper' Reid.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Takeshi Miike's LESSON OF THE EVIL

Takeshi Miike's LESSON OF THE EVIL, just seen fairly recently, blew me away. In many respects, this is as bonkers and audacious as ICHII THE KILLER, and throws in elements of COLD FISH, BATTLE ROYALE, ELEPHANT, AMERICAN PSYCHO,and VIDEODROME.

Simple set-up sees a teacher saddled with the task of eradicating cheating during exams at a high school. When the task proves an impossible one, he takes drastic measures. To put it lightly.

No synopsis can do justice to LESSON's parade of perversion, blackmail, bullying, bloody violence, and outright insanity.

A couple of reviews have criticized the film's pacing, a charge I don't understand at all. From frame one, Miike creates a creeping, cloying sense of tension as he deftly sketches the lives of both teachers and students, and imbues every scene with a shattering inevitability that is paid off in spades.

In light of recent school shootings and reports of increasing campus violence, the film is so utterly relevant, it will be tough going for many, if not most, viewers

Although there is harsh violence throughout, the climax depicts one of the most merciless rampages I've ever seen, and I've seen plenty. It is not a menu of 'creative killings', a fact one moronic reviewer lamented, but is shocking for its brutal banality, its relentless nihilism, its sickening force. 

Audacious and brilliant, LESSON THE EVIL is simply the best film of the year so far, and, as Miike flicks go, right up there with ICHII THE KILLER, VISITOR Q, GOZU, 13 ASSASSINS, GRAVEYARD OF HONOR, THE MAN IN A WHITE SUIT, and THE CITY OF LOST SOULS.

I fuckin loved it!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Paper Beasts On The Rampage

Not to be confused with Nick Sharman's THE CATS, this is Berton Roueche's first person account of cats gone wild on Long Island. Very brief at 126 pages, it moves at a quick clip and dishes up some vivid grue.

I've always liked the bloody-faced kitty on the cover.

Roueche's effort was the first cat novel out the gate, and though it is copyrighted 1974, the same year Herbert's THE RATS appeared in the UK,  I can't find an American copy to confirm whether it was published that year. It was first published in the UK in 1975.

Published in '79 when mad animals, insects, and reptiles were all the rage (thanks to James Herbert and Guy N. Smith), this Hamlyn paperback original focused on the building of a resort on top of a snake colony. No points for predicting some resistance from the creepy crawlies.  

A new copy of the American/Signet paperback of this book is rushing out the door for $193 this week at Amazon. 

More killer cats in D. Gunther Wilde's CLAWS (Leisure; 1978), a novel that came after  Roueche's THE CATS, but before Nick Sharman's attempt to demonize the little fluffs in the early 80's.

Quite a fun read.

If you're looking for the best in killer mantis fiction, you've hit the mother lode, old chap.

I fail to find another novel in existence that I can compare to Nace's EAT THEM ALIVE. 

As the cover blurb screams, it really is A NEW PEAK IN HORROR.

One of the best reads ever. Much better than ULYSSES.

Wonderful Guy N. Smith-style horror about a mad fungus infecting, mutating, and ugly-fying all and sundry.

Lots of funny stuff, too.

Harry Adam Knight was Aussie writer/film critic/novelist John Brosnan, who died in 2005.

The first of his non-fiction books I read was THE HORROR PEOPLE ('76), then FUTURE TENSE - THE CINEMA OF SCIENCE FICTION ('78).

THE FUNGUS is also known as DEATH SPORE.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Joy of Sex (Pulpy Porn Style)

It's a sexual smorgasbord out there, with the emphasis on 'bored', I'm afraid. It's a deluge. We have graphic images. We have mountains of explicit pornography. We have machine gun-style fucking and sucking. It's all just a few mouse clicks away. 

Still, there is nothing quite like the written word. Nothing. And there's nothing like a lurid illustration to accompany it.

Roll up, roll up, brothers, sisters, and feast your eyes on these artifacts of a bygone era, these lost exhibits of the lavishly lurid.

The sex novels of the 60's, 70's, and 80's tackled subjects that are off-limits today -- 'politically incorrect' -- because some tit-sucking momma's  boy, some blubbering milquetoast with his wife's panties on his head and balls in her pocket, decided to become a 'victim' of them, decided he'd  'clean up' society by demonizing them... all the while taking bribes for political favors, and using his elevated station in life to  rob, rape, and Reverse Robin Hood the people who voted him in.

There was a time, not long ago, my friends, when there was a clear distinction between fantasy and reality, when 'victims' were the physically and mentally abused, when sex was a playground, and make-believe was just that.  It was a simpler time.   You knew where you stood.  The agendas were clearer.

Now, despite the propaganda that it's an 'anything-goes' world, the reality is that anything will offend somebody, and that somebody is gonna cash in.  

It's a sadder world today when a Wall Street banker cops a slap on Rolex for his mass destruction of middle class lives while prosecutors are aggressively busting children for trading 'naughty pictures' with each other on their cell phones.

Makes sense in a way: Sex has always been an easy target for those engaged in distracting us from their crimes of opportunity. It's become the indefensible, the accusation that turns the old 'innocent 'til proven guilty' mantra upside down. It may appear we have more freedoms, but we really have more rules, more policing of our thoughts, our fantasies, and our dreams.  

Hopefully, the world will turn full circle again, and the hysteria and hypocrisy associated with depictions of human sexuality will dissolve, and pulpy porn excellence, almost quaint now, will make a welcome return.