Saturday, 23 May 2009


1. They let him do the new Halloween movie instead of you.

2. You have to pay to go to conventions. Conventions pay Rob to go to them.

3. He's shacked up with Sheri Moon. You're not.

4. Prior to that, he was shacked up with the bassist from White Zombie.

5. He has his own action figures, yet has no need to play with himself (See #3).

6. He can get his comic book ideas published without using a photocopier.

7. Sybil Danning acknowledges his existence. You...not so much.

8. He was on MTV before it sucked. Now you get to watch MTV while it sucks.

9. His resume reads: Porno Mag Art Director, Rock Star, Movie Director.

10. Your parents have told you that you're not getting tattoos and/or dreadlocks.


By Tom Weaver
272 Pages, B&W
Dimensions: H=22.9cm W=15.3cm D=1.5cm
SRP=$20.00 (US)

As the cover amply illustrates, we are going 'old skool' here, with such icons as the Gillman (AKA 'The Creature From The Black Lagoon') amongst others. The eagle-eyed amongst you may very well have spotted a familiar robot from various cliffhanger serials lurking in the bottom right hand corner too. Some people foolishly maintain that you cannot judge a book by the cover, but let's be honest here...monsters, killer robots and beautiful women make a persuasive visual shorthand which certainly triggered my buying reflexes. I mean, what else do you need to know, exactly?

The book itself is a collection of interviews (14 in all) with various famous names from the Golden Age of science fiction and horror, both from in front of and behind the camera. The fourteen names in question are as follows:
William Alland
Michael Ansara
Doug Benton
Bob May
Terry Moore
Bri Murphy
Patricia Owens
Cynthia Patrick
Peter Mark Richman
Stella Stevens
Joyce Taylor
Marie Windsor
William Witney
Irwin S. Yeaworth, Jr.
The interviews have all seen print in an abridged form at one time or another, in publications such as 'Starlog' and 'Fangoria', but this is apparently the first time they have been presented in all their unexpurgated glory.
It's a mixed bag (as you would expect), but all good. For me personally, as a fan of the serials, the William Witney interview is worth the price of the book alone. The bad news is it has me jonesin' to get a copy of Witney's book 'In a Door, Into a Fight, Out a Door, Into a Chase' for my reading pile, and books related to cliffhanger serials tend to priced at a premium., dammit!
While we're talking about the price of the book, you're probably asking yourself whether I think it is worth the $20 price tag? The answer is yes, I think it's very reasonably priced. I got mine for around the equivalent of $12-14 from Ebay, but had I have paid full price for it, I wouldn't have felt ripped off in any way, shape or form...$20 feels just about right, if I'm honest. It's a tidy little package, all told, and my first experience of Midnight Marquee's stuff. If it is any way indicative of their usual output, then suffice to say it won't be my last either.
If you're a fan of the movies and TV shows of that era, or any of the personalities featured, then I'd suggest you check it out.

Friday, 22 May 2009


To quote the immortal line, "What's wrong with this picture?".

Firstly, it's "Spider-Man", not "Spiderman". They have at least got this right on the UK poster.

Most importantly, if you were some hotshot Hollywood marketing exec, and you had a horror flick by Sam Raimi to promote, would you really choose Spider-Man from Raimi's back catalogue to promote it with? I mean, correct me if I'm wrong (...and I'm not. I never am.), but didn't Raimi helm the Evil Dead trilogy, the first of which scared the living shit out of the kindly censors over at the BBFC? Yes, I believe he did.

Do today's moviegoers really have such a goldfish-like attention span that you have to namecheck a more recent movie in favour of a more apt one, or is it just a case of the Hollywood brain trust thinking it is so?

Me personally, I'm looking forward to getting one of them there posters for Robert Rodriguez' "Machete" flick, hopefully with the legend "From The Director Of Spy Kids" proudly emblazoned upon it. After all, it's not like they're going to acknowledge the fact he directed "Planet Terror" now, are they...?

I should add, no knock on the movie itself (which I haven't seen yet) as I've heard encouraging things about it, but whoever thought "From The Director Of Spider-Man" was a good idea needs to be dragged to Hell (or perhaps a conveniently located alleyway somewhere) and have their teeth knocked out.

BOOK OF THE DEAD: The Complete History Of Zombie Cinema

By Jamie Russell
320 pages, B&W w/ Colour inserts
Dimensions: H=25.4cm W=19.2cm D=2.2cm
SRP £19.99(UK)

'The Complete History Of Zombie Cinema' it says on the cover, and believe you me, they ain't kidding. This is a fabulously in-depth exploration of the zombie genre that we all know and love. The opening chapters actually explore the genesis and introduction of the literary idea of the zombie, and chart the evolutionary path from page to stage to screen. It's exhaustively researched stuff, and extremely interesting from a historical perspective, and no stone is left unturned...suffice to say, those amongst us who think zombie movies began in earnest with Romero's 'Night Of The Living Dead' are going to be in for a lot of reading until they get to their perceived 'Year Zero'. Romero doesn't pop up until the end of Chapter Five, and these are some substantial chapters we are talking about here. Happily, when the more familiar names begin to enter the picture, Russell doesn't shy away from giving them the exact same treatment as some of the more obscure entries discussed in the book, as some authors more inclined to cinematic snobbery are often wont to do.

If you're looking for a pretty picture book with lots of witty repartee, this isn't it (although the monochrome of the standard text and pictures is broken up by two lavish colour inserts). This is an altogether more serious and scholarly work, and if at any point you are planning to write an essay or dissertation on zombies or horror cinema in general, then this is a book you should own, not only to see how it should be done, but also as a great resource for stealing ideas from to flesh out and corral yourself an easy 'A'. It also affords the reader some intelligently-argued material for putting those folks who are dismissive of the horror genre firmly in their place.

You'll notice I haven't used the term 'academic' at any point thus far in the review, and that's because I did an MA and it totally turned me off academia and literature in general (in the decade since, I've read three works of fiction, and two of those were small paperbacks. I've learned a great deal from reading non-fiction books in that time, but that's beside the point.). Ergo, when people start throwing around terms like 'critic', 'commentator', 'theorist' or refering to concepts of 'otherness', I generally feel like kicking someone in the balls. Russell does stray into this territory on a number of occasions, but thankfully keeps it very brief. If nothing else, I think you should consider buying this book to keep him in gainful employment so he doesn't have to slide down the slippery totem pole which invariably leads to him selling the Socialist Worker (oxymorons, eh?) outside the Student Union or somesuch. I truly believe it's not yet too late to save him.

The other reason you should buy this book is that it is extremely good value for money. Again, I got my copy via a loyalty card points redemption, so it didn't cost me anything per se, but had I paid the SRP (£19.99) for it, I would not have felt short changed in the slightest, and I personally think that £20 is a lot of money to spend on a book. The reality is that it is a lot of reading for the money, and damned informative reading at that. currently has it for £12.99 brand solemn advice to you would be to make like a ravenous zombie and bite their hands off at this price before they come to their senses, as I would consider paying £15 for this to be a bargain in any man's language!

Not to put too fine a point on it, but for me this is the definitive book on the subject. I've got a couple of other books from FAB Press on my reading pile, namely 'Beasts In The Cellar' and 'Nightmare USA' (a review of which will not be coming's like a bloody phone directory on steroids! It looks damn good though, and I hope to be able to finish it before I shuffle off this mortal coil), and suffice to say, they've got a lot to live up's hoping!

Friday, 1 May 2009

CANNIBAL: The Most Sickening Consumer Guide Ever!

By John Martin
Introduction by Quentin Tarantino
162 pages, Full Colour.
Dimensions: H=29.8cm W=21.1cm
SRP: £19.99 (UK)
Now here's a book to get my teeth into...a lovingly in-depth exploration of the Cannibal genre courtesy of the good folks at The Dark Side and John Martin (Seduction Of The Gullible, Giallo Pages, etc.). The cover image is a suitably bastard hybrid comprised of iconic images from such flicks as Zombie Flesh Eaters, Last Cannibal World, and Cannibal Apocalypse. They say you can never judge a book by its' cover, but this one seems to buck the trend quite graphically!

The running order follows that of a menu, with 'courses' instead of chapters and 'hors d'oeuvre' standing in for the introduction, which is delivered in the characteristic, rambling and thoroughly enthusiastic style of one Quentin Tarantino (in full-on former video store clerk geek-out mode) as he reminisces about some of his favourite slices of Italian genre cinema, providing something of a thumbnail sketch for what lies ahead.

Martin begins by tracing the cinematic lineage and subsequent evolution of the cannibal film as we know it, from its' roots in the Mondo movies such as 'Mondo Cane' and 'Africa Addio'. What made the Italian Cannibal movies so shocking in their day was not the subject matter at hand, but the way in which it was presented, with a distinct onus upon replicating the realism of the Mondo movies, such as the inclusion of real-life animal slaughter. He also frames the cannibal genre in socio-cultural terms as well, being at first a comment on Western exploration and exploitation, and latterly a comment on Western consumerism in general when the cannibal movies 'came home', which is to say ditched the jungle as a location.

The meteoric rise and inevitable fall (precipitated by the decline in quality that usually follows when everybody and their Mother jumps on a particular genre bandwagon) of the Cannibal genre is charted thus, and just like the ancient Chinese proverb which says 'Even the fiercest Tiger must one day submit to the Worm', even the most exquisitely-prepared gourmet meal is inescapably destined to turn into shit. Such was the lamentable fate of Italian Cannibal cinema, as Martin deftly outlines in the sobering chapter 'Too Many Cooks...'

It's a really well-written book, but its' greatest strength may also be its' greatest weakness. I had to exercise a little self-discipline and pace myself lest I read through it one sitting. The phrase "An evening read" is one that often gets tossed around a little too readily for my liking, but this will very likely prove to be the real deal unless you set yourself some strict reading limits and adhere to them. Suffice to say, such is the quality of the prose within that I shall definitely be making it a point to check out some of Martin's other work as a matter of priority.

As the book progresses, it takes in other movies which may or may not pass your own personal acid test as to whether they constitute 'cannibal movies' or not, such as films featuring flesh-eating zombies. Some might complain that this is a somewhat tenuous link, explored only to further pad out what is already a slim volume. However, the author's assumption that fans of Italian cannibal cinema will also be fans of Italian zombie cinema (and indeed, by extension, Italian exploitation cinema in general) certainly holds true with this reviewer, and is probably true for you too...after all, you're here reading this, aren't you? Purists and pedants may wish to split hairs, but personally I am all for the inclusion of it.

After the main body of text is done, and the chronology completed, there's a whole host of goodies yet to come, including a feature-length interview with John Morghen ("The Perfect Victim") as well as a plethora of supplementary interviews with a literal "Who's Who?" of Italian genre cinema (...and when I say a literal "Who's Who?" of Italian genre cinema, I mean it: Fulci, D'Amato, De Angelis, Deodato, Lenzi, Margheriti, Martino, De Rossi), and a filmography.
Unfortunately, I don't have a full collection of The Dark Side or Giallo Pages, so I have no way of knowing whether these interviews have seen print before, although I would certainly suspect this to be the case given that some of the subjects are now sadly dead. Still, they're all new to me, and I enjoyed them greatly.

As you might expect, the text throughout is complimented by the usual stunning array of rare promo stills, candid behind-the-scenes shots, and obscure foreign one-sheets and lobby cards, the cumulative effect of which is a sensation somewhere between extreme envy, homicidal rage, and a burning desire to spend a lot of money on Ebay because you suddenly realise that you don't have enough rare genre movie collectable stuff in your life...or your spare room, garage, or attic.

If you have the merest inkling of an interest in this genre, then I'd say it's an essential purchase (although you're hardly spoilt for choice in this area...the only other book I am aware of is Jay Slater's 'Eaten Alive', which I shall be reviewing shortly). The question is weighing up your enthusiasm for the genre against the price you are willing to pay. Personally, I'd wouldn't pay £20 for this, as whilst I can appreciate that it's a highly specialist subject and thus one must pay a little over the odds for it, I still think it's slightly overpriced. If someone offers you a copy for around £15 or less, then bite their hand off!

I think the most telling verdict I can give you is this: It cost me nothing (obtained it by redeeming points on a supermarket loyalty card), I've already read it cover to cover, but I won't be putting my copy up on Ebay any time soon, even though I could no doubt turn a handsome profit on it.

In short, it's a bona fide keeper...I just wish there was more of it!


If you would like to send me an item to review, please email me first. This way I can tell you whether or not I have it already, and if not I can give you the address to send it to.

My email address: occulusorbus(at)yahoo(dot)com.

Just replace the bracketed text with the appropriate symbols '@' and '.'

I don't discriminate between professional and amateur, so anything sure to send along details of where, when, and how my readers can get your product, and most importantly how much it will cost them to do so.

Most of the reviews here will be good because I usually choose to buy and review stuff I like (or think I'll like), but they will also be honest as well.

So, I hear you ask, what is it exactly that you like? Here's a brief snapshot...

Any sort of low budget genre film, Horror, Sci-fi, action, Martial Arts (especially Ninjas!), Zombies, Cannibals, Giallo, Spaghetti Westerns, Women-In-Prison, Japanese monster movies, Exploitation, Sexploitation, Blaxploitation, Nunsploitation, Ilsa and related Nazi flicks, Softcore, Hardcore (Features, not Gonzo), Hammer, Amicus, Russ Meyer, Roger Corman, Dario Argento and all the other Italian greats, Coffin Joe, Foreign Films, bizarre niches and fetishes like Superheroines, Sword & Sorcery, John Carpenter, George A. Romero, Pulps and Cliffhanger Serials, Comics, Seduction Cinema, Full Moon, The Asylum, Jean Rollin, Salvation Films, Cannon, and much, much more besides.

If we share any of these in common, then it's fair to say that we will see eye to eye somewhere along the line in terms of taste.

Rather than attempt to make money from my blog, some of my items will earn me store credit with Amazon if people click through and buy them...this means I can re-invest my ill-gotten gains in more cool books and movies to review, rather than taking the cash and frittering it away elsewhere in less wholesome pursuits, like hookers. I don't have an Amazon Wishlist because I'm not a hot chick, and every red-blooded man knows the easy way to get something for nothing is with a vagina, or rather the lingering promise thereof. Also, I find the whole concept of them to be kind of creepy (wishlists that is, not girls and their vaginas...well, unless they have tons of 'intimate piercings', that is!), and the online equivalent of a 'gateway drug' for nascent cyber-stalkers, or indeed any kind of stalker for that matter.

Thus, I will instead be sharing my thoughts about what item I plan to buy next with the accrued credit, and soliciting reader opinion on what to go for via polls, and am more than happy to go along with the majority vote. But for now I've got a stack of my own awesome books and movies to plough through and review, so let's get to it!