More action to come…

For those of you wondering or disappointed that there hasn’t been much activity on here in awhile, I apologize.  There is a reason- my scanner crapped out and I haven’t had the money to get another one (you might have noticed the quality of scans going downhill over the time the blog has been around.  I certainly did).

Believe me I have tons and tons more ‘zines and things to scan and put up, and getting a new scanner is a high priority.  I also have some movies to review (saw a sneak preview of an upcoming movie called Bloodsucking Bastards that was pretty damn good, among others), but I didn’t want this to become just another damn review site.

While I’ve been off of here, one person asked why I only scan and upload part of the ‘zines.  The reason I do this is because I don’t have permission from the creators of the ‘zines to post the whole thing.  I am in touch with some of them (Mark Sawickis (Uniforce), Nick Cato (Stink), Steve Fenton (Killbaby), Dan Taylor (Exploitation Retrospect), and a few more, but most of them I have no idea how to get ahold of.  But I am looking forward to getting back to the action soon…

One last thing- I don’t know if any of you have a Tumblr or not, but Post Modern Trashaeology is on Tumblr.  There aren’t any reviews or ‘zine scans that haven’t already been posted here, but there’s lots of post modern trash on there to look at.  It is here.


“The Scarlet Gospels”

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I have to admit, I was pretty excited when I heard Clive Barker was writing a new novel about the characters from Hellraiser.  I’ve never been a huge fan of the movie itself (and particularly not of the sequels) however I’ve always liked the characters and ideas behind the movie, so I figured that if Barker had 100% creative control and no limitations (budgetary or otherwise) he’d write one hell of a Pinhead story (pun intended).
When I found out that not only was this to be the ultimate (as in last) Pinhead story, and that it would tie in with another Barker character (Harry D’Amour, the supernatural detective who also got his own movie in 1995’s Lord of Illusions), the excitement increased exponentially.
Unfortunately, all my hopes quickly drained away as I began reading this fairly bad bit of lackluster prose.  I wanted to like it- I even fooled myself into liking it for a bit, but that didn’t last long.  It was just an illusion of me telling myself it was better than it was.
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The story is basically about the Hell Priest (who hates to be called Pinhead) gathering all of the magical power in the world so he can take over hell.  Harry D’Amour (and friends) is pulled into this mess and eventually Pinhead enlists him (unwillingly) to write a witnesss to his actions, to be called The Scarlet Gospels.
Barker has been writing for over 30 years, so it was a big surprise how amateurish and limp the writing was in this.  I really don’t think he was into writing it, and was just doing it because he figures it’s what his fans want.  And to be fair, it does have quite a bit of crowd-pleasing gore scenes, but not much in the way of disturbing ones (he flirts with some truly disturbing events a coupe of times, but never really lets loose).
I also think that knowing more about Pinhead (some of the other Cenobites are mentioned briefly) and where they come from makes them lose some of their appeal.  I think it’s a much cooler idea that they come from a pain dimension that no one can understand (and they can’t understand not knowing pain) than finding out they are priests in hell or demons.

So I wasn’t too keen on this one.  It’s just missing something… some thoughtfulness or dark nuance that he had previously that he’s somehow lost here.  Most of the scenes described are unbelievably ridiculous (not in a good way) and the characters are mostly cardboard and unengaging.

It’s really too bad, since Barker was supposed to be the “future of horror”.  I know he hasn’t been well in awhile, and that might affect his writing some, but I know he can do betteer than this.  Hopefully he will in the future (this would be a horrible book for him to go out on).

The Uncanny (1977)


With the recent passing of author Michel Parry (who wrote the novelization of Countess Dracula, as well as writing for Castle of Frankenstein magazine and publishing quite a few horror anthologies) I thought it was time to take another look at the one movie he wrote a screenplay for, The Uncanny.
Tho it stars several high profile old school horror and sci-fi actors, it is virtually unknown in the U.S. because of it’s very limited distribution (I remember seeing it on a late night horror TV show as a kid, and liking it quite a bit).  It still hasn’t had a U.S. DVD or Blu Ray release.

It’s a three part anthology story of the sort put out by Amicus in the late ’60s and early ’70s (it’s so much like one of them most people probably assume it is one, but tho it was produced in part by Amicus‘ Milton Subotsky, it was actually put out by a small Canadian company called Cinévidéo).
It stars Peter Cushing as a writer who has had several books published on conspiracy theory-type subjects like U.F.O.’s and the pyramids. He is trying to get his new book released by publisher Ray Milland in which  he claims that humans are being controlled and manipulated by cats, who are highly intelligent and in conspiracy with each other to rule the world (if only he could see the internet circa 2014).
He details 3 stories that are supposed proof (and he has all the eyewitness accounts and police records) of this.

The first one is the old chestnut about the wealthy elderly woman (played by Mysterious Island‘s Joan Greenwood) who spurns her family and leaves all her money to her cats.  Her nephew decides to take action with the help of her maid, but the cats have other ideas.

The second story is about a little girl who lost her parents in an airplane accident.  She has a black cat named Wellington that she adores, and together they move in with her cat hating aunt and uncle and their spoiled daughter who enjoys bullying her.  As it turns out, the little girl is a witch, so things turn out bad for her tormentor.

The last story is about a classic hammy horror actor (Donald Pleasance) who rigs an accident to kill his actress wife so he can replace her with his mistress.  His wife’s cat takes revenge.

It is kind of hard to understand  Cushing’s extreme fear of cats and insistence of their malevolence, since in the stories all of the people they hurt were bad people who deserved to be punished in a Tales From the Crypt-type fashion.  The story is simplistic but pretty original overall- there just aren’t enough cat-themed  horror movies around if you ask me.

I guess the main difference between this and the above mentioned Amicus anthologies is that this one doesn’t quite have the style or charisma of those, which is mostly the fault of the fairly bland direction.  To be fair, it is a ambitious project for a low budget movie made in a time before CGI.  All the actors are well trained British character actors and take the fairly silly material seriously (Cushing, in particular, sells his paranoia and fear of cats with a nervous, twitchy performance full of dread).  Donald Pleasance takes the opportunity to overact, clearly enjoying the role of an aging melodramatic horror star.  In fact, I’d say it’s possible that he and his constantly mugging co-star Samantha Eggar might have been competing to see who could overact the most.  And since their segment shows them filming a Poe adaption in 1930s Hollywood, I suppose the fit is right.
There is a multitude of cats in this, which was probably hard to film and control (there are a couple of humorous scenes where an obviously fake cat’s paw appears from off screen to scratch someone’s hand).  The special effects are rough, even for this time period, but they get the job done.
Despite the bland direction and unexciting special effects, it’s all fairly charming and entertaining (the score, composed specifically for this movie,  makes it even more so despite a slapsticky little pratfall number during Pleasance’s segment I could have lived without) mainly due to the delightful actors involved.  By 1977 this sort of quaint little charming horror movie wasn’t really made anymore, so it’s sort of an anomaly.

As previously mentioned it’s all a bit silly but worth watching for fans of cats, Peter Cushing, Donald Pleasnace, or British anthology films.

Wet Paint ‘zine #29


Wet Paint was another film (mostly horror/ thriller/ action, but not limited to those genres) ‘zine from the late ’80s early ’90s.  It was very consistent, and put out a lot of issues on a regular basis.
Their ‘zine was mostly reviews/ long discussions of film, but they had interviews on occasion (this issue had one with Cheryl “Rainbeau” Smith), but they were mostly all about the discussion of obscure (and not so obscure) film (something we take for granted now, since you can go online and find discussion and reviews on most any film ever made in seconds).

Here’s some pages:
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Cheap but good read: The Fearmakers


I’ve read a ton of non-fiction books about horror, gore, splatter, slasher, and exploitation movies and their history and directors, and this is one of my favorites.  It’s put together by John McCarty, who’s has written several books about movies and horror movies in particular.  The writing style is very easy to read, somewhat academic but without being boring, and there are a lot of very nice black and white photos from classic horror movies included.
It focuses on 20 directors who have made a strong mark in the horror film genre.  It was released in 1994, so it only follows their careers up until then, but let’s face it- most of these director’s best work was made before that point.
Read the introduction:
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You can find it on Amazon for only 1 cent (plus shipping of course) here.
Some sample pages:

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They also came out with a double DVD that isn’t as good (it’s mainly a talking head show) that you can also find on Amazon used for fairly cheap.

Good, cheap reads to curl up with- you can’t beat that.

The Babadook (2014)


I have just returned from “Dismember the Alamo”, an 8 hour horror festival in which they show 4 films in 35mm, but don’t announce what they are until right before they show them.  It was put on at the Alamo Drafthouse and hosted by Barbara Crampton, who was very nice and gracious (and dressed up like a witch for Halloween season), answered questions, talked about the movies, signed autographs, and seemed like a very pleasant individual.

All the Drafthouses that participated played different movies.  I know other Drafthouses played everything from Halloween III to Ernest Scared Stupid, Friday the 13th Part 4 to Of Unknown Origin, so I wasn’t sure what to expect.
I think our Drafthouse showed one of the best line-ups, with:
1) Rosemary’s Baby
2) Castle Freak (which Barbara Crampton chose herself because she felt it was her most underrated movie)
3) Ginger Snaps
4) The Babadook

Of the four, the only one I had never seen was The Babadook (tho I haven’t seen any of them in an actual theater, so that was a treat).
It has evidently only been shown once, at a film festival, and will be coming out in wide release this December.
The presenters all made a big deal about how scary it is, and I’ve read a few reviews of it that also said it’s incredibly scary, which I figured was a bunch of hogwash (people said that about The Conjuring and many other movies, and it usually turned out to be bunk), but I have to admit, it has some effective moments.

It’s about a single mother (played by Essie Davis, who I only knew from a very small role in the Matrix movies as a medic who gets killed by the Agent who possessed the body of a human) of a little boy with several psychological and emotional issues, presumably stemming from the fact that his father died while driving his mother to the hospital to have him.
The boy finds a book on his bookshelf called Mr. Babadook and asks his mother to read it to him as a bedtime story.  The book tells of a boogyman called Mr. Babadook who feeds on fear and torment, and eventually posses  people, making them do terrible things.
The kid becomes obsessed with the Babadook, and starts seeing him (even tho no one else can) everywhere.  The mother tears up the book and throws it away, but it appears on their doorstep taped back together, and with new depictions of her being possessed by the Babadook and doing terrible things.
What follows is in the highly tread tradition of The Shining, but is so well done and nicely filmed with a lot of very cool and creepy scenes (especially in the mother’s dream sequences.  Now most of you know I generally do not like dream sequences, but these are not cop-outs and fake scares like in most movies) that you may forgive it being yet another ghost/ possession movie in a long line of ghost/ possession movies that have been coming out for the past 10 years (at least it doesn’t look like all the other ones.  It has a very old school and original look and feel to it).

But the main thing to recommend about this movie is the acting.  Every person in it, and particularly the main characters (even  the young boy) do incredible jobs.  The dialogue and direction are fine as well.  I do have a few quibbles- the budgetary constraints are slightly felt, it’s just a little bit too talky (perhaps some small edits might quicken the pace a little)  and I really wish we had learned more of the mythology of the Babadook (mysterious is cool, but I love it when characters discover some engaging mythology about an interesting monster or boogyman).  Also the ending needed… something (it was a little goofy), but these don’t really take away from the overall enjoyment of the film.
In conclusion, this is nothing you haven’t seen before, but the level of character building, believablility, and fantastic acting as well as it’s overall theme of grief, regret, and resentment push it into the ‘a bit above average’ zone.

Island of Terror (1966)


By the time I watched Island Of Terror, around the age of 7 or so, it had become a staple on afternoon sci-fi theater type TV shows.  I had seen many horror and sci-fi movies, from The Fly, Creature From the Black Lagoon, Jaws, and Kingdom of the Spiders to stuff like The Exorcist and Night of the Living Dead.  None of these movies scared or bothered me, but for some reason Island of Terror did.  It actually gave me nightmares, which very few movies have ever done in my life.

Directed by the prolific Terrence Fisher (who directed some of the most notable British horror films of the 50s, 60s, and 70s including a ton for Hammer (such as The Curse of Frankenstein, Horror of Dracula, The Hound of the Baskervilles, The Gorgon, Brides of Dracula, The Mummy, The Earth Dies Screaming, and many more) and starring Peter Cushing, it’s another story of scientific research gone wrong.

On a remote British island, the body of a man is discovered with no bones left in it (“He’s like jelly” remarks the constable).  A couple of specialists (played by Peter Cushing and Edward Judd (from First Men In the Moon, The Day the Earth Caught Fire, and The Vault of Horror to name a few)) are brought in and discover that a researcher who was trying to find a cure for cancer created a new life form which can dissolve bones and suck them out of a person (or animal’s) body.  These creatures are also virtually indestructible and divide into two every 6 hours or so (which means that the island would be overrun by them in less than a week).
After trying to shoot them and blow them up with dynamite, they discover a possible weakness and hatch a desperate plan to destroy them for good.  But with their numbers diminishing and no place to run, the odds of surviving are pretty low.

In contrast to some of his Hammer work, Fisher’s direction here is fairly subdued, making me think a bit of Tod Browning’s style (in which he generally would set up a camera and let all the action happen in front of it, rather than moving around a lot or utilizing a plethora of cuts, zooms and close ups. Of course with Browning this was mainly because of equipment available at the time, but he still seemed to favor a “sitting back and filming a play’ direction style).  He’s never really had the flair or atmospheric touch of fellow Brit director Freddie Francis, but he seems more subdued on this film than most of his others.  The acting is decent, tho the main ‘hero’ (played by the aforementioned Edward Judd) is lacking in charisma quite a bit.  The unnecessary love interest (played by Curse of the Fly‘s Carole Gray) is a fairly annoying character as well, but everyone else plays their parts perfectly.   The setting is used nicely with the remote island and old school feel of everything.  Basically this is like a zombie movie- the creatures move very slow, but keep multiplying and are unstoppable.  The main characters end up barricading themselves (tho not very well) in and under siege.

The monsters are pretty cool looking, kind of like turtle/ snails with a tentacle coming out where their head should be.  They also make a creepy, radioactive synthy sound (and a comical slurping one when they suck someone’s bones out).
The film is a little slow moving by today’s standards, but fairly fast paced by 1966 horror/ sci-fi movie standards.  I found myself getting into the story and enjoying it (tho it didn’t scare me like it did my 7 year old self.  I have no idea why it affected me so).  People these days are so overstimulated I doubt a lot of them could watch a movie like this and get into it.  They would be looking at their phone, texting, filling the chip bowl, doing laundry, looking at the iPad, etc. way before it got going.  I like movies that take their time building to something.  I like to see these small villages and old ways portrayed in detail.  It was a simpler time, and if a movie can show it realistically it often fascinates me (it doesn’t hurt that this movie was filmed not too far into the future from when times were really like this).
So some of me liking it might have more to do with the period setting than the actual plot, but I still found it a good watch after all these years.   It’s never been released in a Region 1 DVD or Blu Ray, so it might be hard to track down, but you can’t consider yourself a classic British horror/ sci-fi film connoisseur, even if you’ve seen all the Hammer and Amicus films, until you’ve seen some of these offbeat titles (this one done by a small company called Planet Film Productions), and this is a good one to start with.

Peardrop ‘zine #1


Peardrop was one of my favorite old ‘zines, put out by my old pal Laurent Merle (who did USD ‘zine, and now does Listenable Records)..  He has a great sense of humor, and it comes through in his writing.  Even when he doesn’t like a band he finds a funny way to talk about them.  It was full of wacky interviews with death metal, grindcore, thrash, and hardcore bands.  Here’s some pages for you to peruse:

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Society (1989)


Here is a crazy, ambitious, and underrated film that mixed the paranoid thriller and body horror genres with a 1980s teen comedy.  It was Brian Yuzna’s (The Dentist, Return of the Living Dead 3, Bride of and Beyond Re-Animator) first film as director, and definitely one of his best.

It starts off as a typical ’80s screwball teen movie- Bill (Billy Warlock, son of Dick Warlock who played Michael Myers in Halloween II) is a typical Beverly Hills teen- he comes from a rich family, and is popular at school, but is seeing a therapist because he feels paranoid and alienated from his family.  He has a standard issue blonde cheerleader girlfriend (played by the girl who Jason kills by dragging under the water in Friday the 13th Part 7), and a typical goofy ’80s best friend, but he feels something is not right with his parents and sister.

When his sister’s jilted boyfriend brings him proof of some twisted, underground weirdness (of the type most normal people imagine decadent rich people do behind closed doors), he begins to suspect that there’s some creepy, foul secrets his family is involved in and keeping from him.  By the end he finds out that there’s much more to it than just a bunch of rich perverts, and most of the influential people in Beverly Hills (and most everyone he knows) is in on it.  It turns out he wasn’t paranoid enough, and by the time it reaches it’s grotesque denouement, the movie has transformed from a coming-of-age teen movie into a full on horror film (tho still a bit screwball) that’s more than a little fucked up.

Yuzna keeps the humor going all the way to the end, and unfortunately some of it is goofy and full of bad puns (another ’80s staple). This makes the horror less effective, but it’s still got enough twisted humor to keep the mood black overall.  The effects are insane, and tho the body count is quite low, it’s still worth watching just for how fucked up it gets.  The first two thirds of the movie, tho mostly a teen comedy, still has a darker edge- like a teen comedy with some weird stuff going on, slowly building from the subtle to in-your-face insanity.  I once saw it described as “Lovecraft as filmed by John Waters”, and tho it’s not quite THAT cool, it still kind of fits.  The effects by Screaming Mad George (of excellent late ’70s punk band THE MAD, who has a very recognizable and bizarre style of twisted latex and slime) are somewhat cartoonish, but that just enhances the freak show.

The social commentary is quite loud and clear, and just a bit heavy handed, but certainly not outdated considering the plutocracy we live in these days.
What’s not so timely is the fashions, hair styles, and setting- this movie is as ’80s as it can get.  This might be a joy for some, and a detriment to others.  It’s also lacking in nudity for a screwball ’80s teen movie (there is just a tiny bit.  That’s an observation, not a criticism.  This movie is plenty entertaining without it).

You cannot defeat the mullet!

You cannot defeat the mullet!

We’d definitely recommend it to anyone into body horror, ’80s teen comedys, freak shows, and grotesqueries in general.  I first saw it by tape trading in 1990 or so (it was released in Europe in 1989, but not in the US until 1992).  Movies like James Gunn’s Slither owe a lot to it, so if you like that a double feature might be in order.