Black Sunday

THE event of the year, as far as exploitation films go, is the annual festival of depravity, “Shock Around The Clock”, held at the Scala towards the end of July. However, being annual, twelve months go by between one and the next, which is a long time to survive without seeing films such as “Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers”, “Nekromantik”, etc so it was good to find out about ‘Black Sunday’, the Northern equivalent, which took place in the Mayfair Cinema, Manchester on the last Sunday in January. I made the long trek up there – this is the report

While the South has one very interesting place (London) and lots of dull ones (i.e. Farnborough), the North has a few fairly exciting towns, and nowhere that stands out and says ‘Visit me!’. Never been to Manchester before. Looks like Leeds. Or Sheffield. Grey. Industrial. Tho’ at 7 pm on an overcast evening, anywhere would look grey and industrial. I arrived early. Didn’t know where the Mayfair Cinema was – the tickets did have directions on them, but they were brief. I needn’t have worried – after an endless bus-ride through housing estate after housing estate, the bus stopped about fifty yards from it. So there I was, four hours to kill in a suburb of Manchester. I did what anyone else would have done and headed for the nearest pub.

Photo by DavidSimpson, from

The ‘locals’ must have wondered what had hit them, as a bunch of low-lifes and assorted reprobates wearing unpleasant t-shirts and reading equally unpleasant publications descended on them. It was generally quite easy to spot the gore-hounds – they didn’t have whippets or flat caps… The rest of the evening passed smoothly, discussing great (and not-so-great) films, aided by the consumption of Tetley’s Bitter (complete with unidentifiable lumps). Addresses were swapped, fanzines bought/sold and the evening’s delights eagerly anticipated. However, a rumour began to spread that the most discussed film, ‘Bad Taste’, had been seized by the customs at Manchester Airport…

Eventually, we drifted down to the Mayfair, stood outside for a while wondering when we were going to get in unti we finally were. Bought our programs and found out ‘Bad Taste’ was indeed on the list of films to be seized – having seen stills from it, I can tell you it is RIDICULOUSLY splattery, but is entirely tongue-in-cheek and ‘ridiculous’ is a pretty good word for the film as a whole [see later].

Finally, after a brief word or two from the organisers, we were off…

OUT OF THE DARK – Michael Schroeder. A sleazy slasher movie about a phone sex agency whose employees are being murdered by a clown masked maniac. The police suspect a photographer who does work for the agency, so he sets out to prove them wrong by finding the real killer.

“Yawn! It’s all been done before. Nothing new or original in this dull psycho film. Of course, all the girls who work for the agency are young and pretty. Sex and violence with no imagination. (3/10)”

PAPERHOUSE – Bernard Rose. Anna is ten and suffering from glandular fever, which is causing her to have hallucinations. She finds she can control these through a sketch she is drawing – then she finds the picture taking on a life of it’s own.

“See Trash City 0. Though this wasn’t a new film, I still enjoyed it a lot – if anything it’s improved on a second viewing. (7)”

LAIR OF THE WHITE WORM – Ken Russell. A prehistoric skull is unearthed in the Derbyshire countryside and sets in motion a horrific chain of events as it is stolen by the local lady of the manor who is also the head of a pagan snake cult. “Brilliant. Superbly silly, especially Catherine [Dynasty] Oxenburg dubbed with a Derbyshire accent. Like a Hammer horror film on acid, with Boy Scouts, helpings of nudity and just the right amount of blood. (9)”.

ELVIRA – MISTRESS OF THE DARK – James Signorelle. Elvira is fired from her TV show and goes to collect her inheritance from a timely-deceased aunt. Unfortunately, this is in the New England village of Falwell, whose inhabitants are not happy with her dresses (low-cut), morals, or her approach to life in general, and try to get rid of her…

“Somewhere between “‘Allo, ‘Allo” and “Carry on Cleavage” lies Elvira, the ultimate bimbo, whose car has a registration of ‘KICKASS’. Comedy without any pretensions, just good, simple fun and fine mindless entertainment. (8)”

TO DIE FOR – Deran Serafian. Vlad Tepes, better known as Count Dracula, is undead and well and living in America. Another update of the vampire story, with the usual problems of convincing the police you’re not a lunatic, staking victims, etc. “ANOTHER modern myth. It’s tough to update the vampire – “Near Dark” was about the best – and this one doesn’t work. Nothing new/worthy here, save an impressive decapitation and Brendan Hughes makes a good Vlad. (4)”

THE LADY IN WHITE – Frank La Loggia. Frankie Scarlatti is locked in the school cloakroom as a Halloween prank, and sees the ghost of a young girl, who turns out to be the victim of a murder. He is then attacked by the murderer, but recovers, and decides to try and solve the mystery.

“See Trash City 0. Stayed awake all through this one, which is more than I did for the films on either side – given I’d seen it before, this shows how engrossing it is. STILL think the ending sucks! (8)”.

FRIGHT NIGHT 2 – Tommy Lee Wallace. Charley Brewster has recovered from the ordeal of the first film, and now believes he made it all up, at least until some strange people move into vampire hunter Peter Vincent’s apartment block. Once again, battle commences.

“A real sequel, building on the events of “Fright Night”, with just enough original touches to make it worthwhile. About as entertaining as the first one; Roddy McDowall steals the (over)acting honours again. (6)” DEAD HEAT – Mark Goldblatt Seemingly unkillable robbers are terrorising a city. Turns out they’re zombies. One of the cops on the trail is killed, and is revived to try to solve the case before the resurrection wears off.

“Another neat twist on the buddy cop theme. Lots of shoot-outs, the obvious jokes about being dead tired, and a brilliant scene in a Chinese restaurant where the meals come to life. Highly enjoyable (8)”.

Just so you know what we missed, and to give you some idea why it was seized at the airport:

BAD TASTE. “In a small, quiet seaside town, all the inhabitants have disappeared. Could someone have chopped them all into pieces? Their fate, it seems, has been caused by a small contingent of violent aliens. They have arrived on Earth in search of human flesh to use as hamburger meat in their chain of inter-galactic fast-food stores.

Before the last inhabitant of the small town breathes no more, a panic stricken call is made to the outside world pleading for help. It is time for the newly formed Alien Investigation and Defence Service, or AIDS as it is known, to come into the scene. Systematically, they begin to deal with the aliens when they can find them.

Their problem escalates when a charity worker arrives in the town. He wants to collect for a good cause. Instead, he finds himself being marinated in preparation for the aliens’ farewell feast. The AIDS team set out to rescue the marinating charity worker. One of the team begins wreaking his personal vengeance on the aliens. The aliens are finally defeated by the leader of the AIDS team in a macabre, gory ritual that takes place in outer space.

Watchout aliens… here comes A.I.D.S!! The ultimate in bad taste.”

The latest info we have on this film is that is has finally got into the country, and is going to be Colourbox Video’s first stab at a cinema release – from what I’ve seen it may well be a short film after the BBFC have gone through it!

Ah, some space to discuss a couple of things that have cropped up since writing the editorial. Firstly, thanks and apologies to everyone whose sent reviews or other pieces in – the former for taking the trouble, the latter because I failed to include ANY of them, which after my plea for contributions is a bit off! I took two weeks holiday over Easter, and went home (as in the North of Scotland); much of my time was spent working on this issue, writing, getting formats straight, looking out pictures, etc. I came back to Farnborough, with it almost all ready, to find a vast pile of articles – rather than trying to put them in this one (and probably making us the first ‘zine to have a late Issue 1!), I’ve held them all over – they should appear in Issue 2. Please keep sending them in; a rough latest date for next time is the start of July.

The other point came up in a letter from Cathy Barwick, who noticed the ‘masculine bias’ [Ouch! She’ll love the back cover!], and wondered whether I couldn’t write what women would think of, for example, a film. An important point. However, when it comes down to it, all I can do is give MY opinions – if the results show masculine bias, it is simply because THEY do, and I refuse to apologise for them. Also, I would never dream of attempting to generalise and say ‘Men/Women would like this’; I feel it would be condescending to tell anyone what to like, given the wide range of tastes the people I know of BOTH sexes have. All I can do is say what I like and why – if I say a film has good acting, I hope this is useful to both men and women; similarly, if I say the leading actress takes her clothes off a lot!

However, there are definitely articles, such as the NK piece, which could well be described as sexist. I write about the things I most enjoy; female beauty is one of them, male beauty is not – again, no apologies. I try and write in a spirit of self- parody and hope no offence is taken by ANYONE to ANYTHING. Finally, I am JUST as happy to print female chauvinist drivel as male chauvinist drivel – I appreciate there is something of an imbalance in these pages…!