Back cover

There you have it – issue 0 hasn’t QUITE turned out the way I planned, but since I didn’t have any idea what it would be like to start with, I can’t really complain! There’s been more about films in here than anticipated, though given I saw no less than SIXTEEN films at the cinema in the first week of December alone, it’s not surprising.

Hope you had a good Xmas. I had two weeks or so of sleeping, eating and watching TV but wasn’t too impressed with the festive T.V. – they claimed to be catering to ‘a family audience’, but seemed to me to be aiming more at the lowest common denominator; Russ Abbott, omnibus East Enders, etc. Mind you, it was always going to be a pretty tame Christmas after the BBC used up their entire gratuitous sex quota for the month in ‘The Rainbow’!

Anyway, here’s a memento of the nearest thing to trash sport I’ve seen…

Future Schlock

Assuming we do eventually get round to producing another issue, what will be in it? Depends on the sort of feed-back we get, what sort of articles are sent in, etc, etc. However, some of the things that are planned to go in at some point in the future (which may or may not be in Issue 1):

Classic Splatter – The World Heavyweight Psychopathic Championship of the World: Jason ‘Hockey Mask’ Vorhees versus Freddy ‘Floppy Hat’ Krueger, as we take a look at ‘Friday the 13th’ and ‘A Nightmare on Elm St’ [sidelight : did you know that Elm Street was where Lee Harvey Oswald shot JFK from?]

More Nastassja – Yes, we rambled on for far too long in this issue about her, so it’s had to be split in two and the rest of it will appear in the next issue.

Sleaze – A cinema up in London is showing La Ciccolina [apologies to any Italian readers for the spelling – French I can cope with, but not Italian!] in ‘Clockwork Banana’. There may be a review of this, but it depends on whether we can pluck up the courage to go, and also if we can find my dirty mac.

Letters – There will be some letters. If you don’t write them, then we will just have to print letters from the council, final demands from BT, internal memos from the company we work for and so on and so forth ad nauseaum. You have been warned.

The Incredibly Bad Film Show – Quite possible THE most awful film of all time, “Return of the Barbarian Women”.

Well, there doesn’t seem to have been a lot about Inter-rail holidays in this issue, so we suppose we’d better try and put something in the next one. How about ‘Great Railway Stations of Europe’? Or perhaps you would prefer ‘Why every train leaving Barcelona is packed’. Maybe we’ll wimp out and give you a lightning run-down on red-light districts, but there are a few gaps in my knowledge. Germany, for example. Has the Reeperbahn really been taken over by transvestites, as we have heard? Let us know. Anonymity will be preserved…

The Great Title Competition

“Trash City” as a name for this ‘zine has provoked much discussion, with about a 50/50 split between those who like it and those who can’t stand it! So we’re throwing the debate open to all – comments & alternative names would be much appreciated, now you’ve read it and know what it’s all about. Here’s a selection of ones we came up with :

Passion Flower HotelThe Perfect KissEscapist Quarterly
Blitzed By Beauty, Dead By DawnCenobite SandwichPhobophilia
The Lolita GazetteThe Ultimate ForceSlice Me Slowly
City of Dreams

Any of the above appeal? Sure you can come up with a few more…

Ok. That’ll do for now. I’ve got a train to catch [though given that I nearly came in on the one involved in today’s disaster, I don’t think I should be pushing my luck]. See you in three months.

Contributions

So there you have Issue 0. We hope to get round to producing Issue 1 in three months or so, but if before we do, we’d like to know what you thought about this one. If you enjoyed it, please let us know; it’s a great boost to our egos(!!) and it’ll be interesting to know what sort of people read our inane ramblings. If you didn’t like it, write and let us know WHAT you didn’t like and WHY not – ideas for the sort of things you’d enjoy are also especially welcome. You are warned NOW that any letters will be considered as possible material for publication, unless you say otherwise. Name & address will be withheld if desired, and added to the Blackmail File instead.

Better still, why not contribute? You’ve now seen the sort of topics that we’ll be covering, but we’ll consider anything (especially 3 days before the next issue’s due out), as long as it’s written with enthusiasm (a Biro is also acceptable). No money, just a brief moment of fame. It’d be nice if it was typed, but as long as it’s legible, we’re not bothered. It’s up to YOU to make sure that what you say is legal,honest and truthful (the decent bit is your option) – we’ll be fascinated to hear about Jeffrey Archer or Koo Stark’s indiscretion, but only if you either have photos to prove it, or a Plutonium American Express card for the libel settlement.

Articles can be of any length, but generally the shorter they are, the better a chance they have of being published. Particularly welcome are neat little space-fillers to drop in at the end of things that aren’t an exact number of pages long. Clippings, quotes, cartoons and so on – if you’ve ever been to the doctor’s and read Reader’s Digest you’ll know the sort of thing but we’re looking for something a little more, er, shall we say “alternative”… Lists of ‘Top 10’ films, books, sex objects, beers are always wanted. It’d be a help if you could let us know about a big article in advance so that we can plan ahead and hopefully avoid getting three on the same subject, but this isn’t too vital – when it comes to reviews, we’d like a good few on the same thing so that we can get a range of opinions.

If your article can’t be fitted into one issue, it might make it into a future one. Obviously, it’ll have more chance if it’s still relevant – a film review that is nice and topical now, will be a little less fresh in three months…

Artwork is also wanted, but please remember that we’re rather restricted by what we can put through our copier! Black & white line drawings are probably O.K. – you’d be best to try photocopying them at home first. We can handle up to A3 size illustrations, by reducing them on the copier. We’ll do our best to return all work, but can’t accept any responsibility for loss, damage, etc however caused, etc, etc. Sending your stuff with an SAE will help stop it getting hidden underneath a Nastassja Kinski video because we can’t remember who sent it in.

Even if you don’t feel up to having anything published, write us a letter anyway. We can’t promise to reply to them all, but they’ll all be read and appreciated!

Look forward to hearing from you…

The Trash Patrol.

Best of 1988

Well, 1988 is nearly at an end (it will be by the time you read this), and so it’s the customary time to look back over the past year and pick out a few highlights and lowlights.

Top 10 films seen in ’88 (no order – eleven really!)
  • The Hidden
  • The Seventh Sign
  • Reform School Girls
  • A Fish Called Wanda
  • Jean de Florette/Manon des Sources
  • The Gruesome Twosome
  • Brain Damage
  • Nekromantik
  • Prison Ship Star Slammer
  • Robocop

Not all these were released in 88, but they all first brushed across my consciousness in the year past. I was torn about including a couple of the films I saw in an all-nighter on the 30th of December 1987, but in the end I decided to be strict with myself!

Top 10 Records released in 1988 (LPs or singles)
  • Laibach – Let It Be
  • Transvision Vamp – Sex Kick (Ciao Portobello)
  • Eighth Wonder – I’m Not Scared
  • Act – Laughter, Tears and Rage
  • Age of Chance – Take It!
  • Siouxsie and the Banshees – Peep Show
  • Thomas Dolby – Aliens Ate my Buick
  • Devo – Some Things Never Change
  • Tiffany – I think We’re Alone Now
  • Laibach – Sympathy for the Devil (Who Killed the Kennedys?)

Not a good year musically. Too much garbage, not enough bad taste, with only the rise of the bimbo and the continuing steady improvement of the remarkable Laibach giving much hope for the future.

Nightmares in a Damaged Brain

Questions framed themselves in my mind.

Disorderly, sure, but a pattern began to emerge. Ok, so I wasn’t bothered that the guy was reading some splatter fanzine. Guess it’s pretty dull between Tottenham Court Road and Kentish Town on the Northern Line. I mean, Mornington Crescent is not exactly a cultural oasis in a sea of decrepitude. More kinda the other way around.

Oh yeh – anyway, some woman was giving this guy (the one with the gruesome black and white picture book) the kinda frown usually reserved for a kid at boarding school using the wrong spoon, or something. Not that I went to boarding school of course. But I could sympathise with some of the aims – you know; know yourself, accept yourself and then the mastery of self can begin. Jeez, are spoons really important? Then why did British Rail coffee come with a stirrer so short you generally got wet fingers?

Perhaps it was her attitude I disliked. Then again, gore movies had a tendency to the kinda society decent people like to think they uphold in rather a bad light. Saw this movie one time. Something to do with living dead and split dogs. Anyway, they eat the medics and the police who don’t have the brains to stay away, so the military nuke the entire area. Not that I’m implying anything about standards of taste over the fish-pond, just that America is the only country in the wprld that could make (good) films about it’s own headlong plunge into the Cro-Magnon era. Various parts of the New York underground are already inhabited by tribes of kids who never really grasped the Robin Hood concept, and who paint their cave dwelling with Chrysler and Ford touch-up colours. George Clemenceau was right about the Ewe Ess of Ay. He said it was the only nation in history to pass from Development to Degeneration without passsing through Civilisation. Smart guy.

Anyway, I dried my fingers while I watched the cleavage of the woman behind me in admiration, or to be precise, in the window. Well, they had given us the horror movie, but I was hard pressed to think of anything else that didn’t make you fat. Nastassja Kinski wasn’t American, but maybe that proved my point.

It was then that I noticed the girl with the reflection was holding one of those CD sized plastic bags. The ones you feel such a dick carrying. I figured it probably contained one of those horribly commercial love-song compilations from the dreamy look in her eyes. You know the type – a passing extra-terrestrial would be forgiven for believing that sex and love are merely consumer durables, as clean, polished and translucent as a smoked glass coffee-table, and ultimately as useful. But that was the ad- man’s dream, the notion that love and sex note only are, but ought to be, contactless, bodyless. By inference, sex is dirty in a CD world. Hell, heavy metal guitars don’t burn your ears and fry your brains any more.

I figured a good quantity of cherry yoghurt would help her sort it out. But I figured wrong, her boy-friend could obviously buy her things I couldn’t spell. The guy learning anatomy had the right idea. I reckon he had discovered that Pop-Art was all trash anyway. Pop-Art, one of those doublespeak words like Fresh Frozen and Military Intelligence. He was seriously into self-exploration, or seriously sick.

But why did I care? I guessed if you scratch the surface, you might just find out what’s underneath. The guy in the book was a mess, and I had a sneaking feeling that below the product and packaging of our conveyor belt existence things were pretty much the same. I mean the woman with the attitude problem had probably got more hang-ups than a cloakroom.

I sorta read this ‘graphic novel’ (what?) recently. There was this Public Spirit character who shot anabolic steroids and tried to ice his wife for getting a touch pregnant while defending the American Dream, and I mean that both ways. But the funny part was the hero – a leather and barbed wire clad sadist upholding ‘Justice’. Shit, it was good stuff. Exactly the kinda breakdown I was talking about. Some guy with a smile that would get most people locked up in a room with soft walls said that ecstacy is having the sweat licked from your armpits by a leather-clad dwarf on a Harley Davidson.

So was I crazy or was all hell gonna break loose sooner or later. I figure if you don’t accept the shit you’re told is ‘good’ for you, then can you accept anything? Rome fell into the pits of decay by people so far removed from reality they didn’t see it happen. Here I am, 368 years almost to the day since Cromwell was publicly denounced for playing cricket, with a head full of crazy questions, like I said, and I can’t even ask the guy with the ‘zine where he bought it. It’s not, well, done to talk to strangers.

Guess it’s best I don’t know, my world is fragile enough with all these contradictions already.

Classic Splatter

When the subject of horror movies comes up, certain films are sure to be mentioned with a sort of reverential awe. They range from the ‘artistic’ to straight out-and-out exploitation, but their common link is that they have gained a reputation for being, in one way or another, ‘classic splatter’. However, how many of these films are actually worthy of the title? Are they still capable of horrifying an audience today? Why did they become classics? That’s what this section is going to be about – we have no doubt some people will disagree with much of what is said as we merrily slaughter a few sacred cows and look forward to hearing your opinions and alternative viewpoints.

The Texas Chainsaw Massacre – Tobe Hooper (1974)

EVERYONE has heard of this film – even those without any interest at all in gore know the name. I suspect that if ‘Family Fortunes’ asked the question “Name a film with buckets of blood”, this would be well up the list of most people.

But you’d be wrong.

It is almost totally bloodless. Almost all the violence happens out of shot. True, someone gets hung from a meat-hook. No blood. Someone else is carved up with a chain-saw. No blood. It all happens out of shot. For some reason, it has achieved this reputation of being splattersplattersplatter while barely spilling a drop.

This doesn’t mean it isn’t a good film. However, it also manages to break the one main rule of horror – YOU MUST SYMPATHISE WITH THE VICTIMS. Now, I don’t know what it was like when it came out, but at the screening I saw it at, the audience cheered wildly every time one of the teenagers was murdered – every time Leatherface appeared, there was a round of applause. And I can see why. Sitting here in 1988, I find the victims an entirely unpleasant, unworthy group of leftover hippies who wear such absolutely ridiculous clothes, including the widest flares I think it has ever been my misfortune to see, that they DESERVE to die.

That’s the bad news out of the way. The good news is that there are some extremely impressive touches. In the house, a fully grown hen is crammed into a canary’s cage. The chase sequences are excellently managed, despite the ludicrous images of Gunnar Larsen not so much carrying the chainsaw as being led by it as if it was an Alsatian on a leash. A landmark film, no doubt, in that it’s influence has been felt down the years by almost every splatter movie director. Homages to it are still being paid now, 14 years later (notably in “Hollywood Chainsaw Hookers” [ British title “Hollywood {PICTURE OF A CHAINSAW} Hookers” ], which was a bit gorier, rather funnier and a lot sexier than the original).

Overall, this film should be thought of in much the same way as the Sex Pistols – quite outrageous for it’s time, and deserving of a place in history, but looking back at it now, with the benefit of hindsight, you can’t help wondering what all the fuss was about…

Driller Killer – Abel Ferrara, (1980)

Now we’re getting into the SERIOUS video nasties, with this one which is on the DPP’s magic list of 30 or so films worthy of prosecution, along with such other gems as “Blood Feast”. However, once again, this one has to be classed a severe disappointment to the student of splatter, with only one of the killings taking place in anything like the detailed close -up suggested by its reputation.

It is a tale of madness. An artist working in a studio is gradually driven mad by the pressures of work and the intolerable racket resulting from living next door to an extremely poor sub-punk rock group. His agent rejects his master-work, a painting of a buffalo, and he finally starts killing various vagabonds, tramps and winos with the aid of (surprise, surprise) a power drill. The reason WHY he does this is never crystal clear; one possibility is that he fears them, or rather fears BECOMING one of them. Who can say with insanity?

Is it ‘liable to corrupt or deprave’? Frankly, no. Having sat all the way through it, I found it an immensely depressing film, with very little in the way of excitement. To some extent, it COULD be considered corrupting in that the murderer is the only person shown as anything else other than a bastard – we are encouraged to identify with him, certainly a lot more than the victims, who only appear for the sole purpose of being killed.

As video nasties go, this is probably the nearest I’ve seen to one that can be justified artistically. Taken as a film about the descent into madness, it is certainly a worthy film, being both convincing and fairly unpleasant simultaneously, but as a piece of splatter, or even a piece of entertainment, it is very sadly lacking in anything that would make me want to watch it again.

Nightmare Movies – Kim Newman, Bloomsbury Press, 12.95

Finally for this issue, not a splatter movie, but a book ABOUT splatter movies (though the range covered is a lot wider than just the pure gore film). Quick review this, as I’ve not had much time to look at this one properly, but it comes with an impeccable pedigree (supposedly Clive Barker’s favourite book), and what I’ve seen of it so far seems to support this view.

It is a survey of the horror film, roughly from ‘Night of the Living Dead’ until the present day (he says the last film he saw before finishing the book was in May 1988). It’s written from more or less a single viewpoint, which is both an advantage and a disadvantage – I disagree with about half of what he says in the book, but he does at least JUSTIFY his views, which is more than a lot of writers do.

There is a nice sense of the fan throughout – he clearly enjoys watching films, and this comes across well. A sense of humour is obvious, even in the little things like photo captions. If this book has a fault, it is perhaps in that it takes a little too snobbish a view, claiming that a film of pure effects is of virtually no merit – while this may be true in an artistic sense, it is certainly not true when it comes to entertainment (which is, after all, the main reason I go to the cinema).

There are many photographs liberally scattered throughout the book. These vary widely in quality and atmosphere, though they are unfortunately all in black and white (critics rail against colorisation of old b/w movies, but nobody seems too bothered when still pictures from a colour film appear in monochrome!).

Taken as a whole, I’m looking forward to reading it, even if I’m going to have to restrain myself every time he tells me how EXTREMELY good George Romero is!!

C*ns*rsh*p

If we are strictly accurate, there is no film censorship in Britain today. This may surprise you, especially if you have heard of the big problems encountered by films like “Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2” (a rumoured TWENTY minutes of cuts required by the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC)), but there is no obligation upon a film company to submit its product for certification. Virtually all do so though, and will make the cuts necessary to ensure the film gets the ‘right’ classification.

When it comes to cinema showings the BBFC is purely an advisory body. They classify films, or can refuse a certificate altogether, but the final decision on whether a film can be seen or not rests with the local council who can overrule the BBFC, if they see fit, as has happened recently in some areas of the country with “The Last Temptation of Christ”. However, they will normally agree with the BBFC and will not permit uncertificated films to be shown.

There are some important exceptions to these rules. One is the private cinema club, which can show films that have not been passed by the BBFC to it’s members (presumably they have to be over 18). The legal technicalities of why they should be exempt are a mystery to me – my entire judicial experience is two years sharing a flat with a student lawyer – but I’m quite willing to accept the benefits!

The opposite is true when it comes to videos. Here, the BBFC are not just advisory, but are the regulatory body – it is an offense, punishable by quite severe fines or even a jail sentence, to sell or hire videos that have not received a certificate. This came in via the Video Recordings Act of 1983 and was responsible for the disappearance of “Cannibal Ferox”, “I Spit On Your Grave” and a huge number of totally unmemorable porno films from the shelves of your local friendly video shop.

The BBFC do not apply the same standards to cinema films as it does to video releases, which causes endless anguish to fans who eagerly rent or buy a copy of their favourite film only to find that half the bits they remembered with great fondness have been removed to get the film passed. Even more is likely to be lost if the film is shown on television ( with the remarkable exception of “The Thing”, which made it onto ITV with its effects intact, only missing the odd swear-word here and there ) – more on this later.

The most glaring point of contradiction is that it is only films that have to go through the certification process. There is no similar system for books ( can you imagine the furore if a scheme was set up through which a government organisation would monitor all written works? ) – there is nothing to stop anyone from publishing a book containing stills cut from films, although the obscenity laws could be invoked ( but when was the last time you heard of a book being seized because of it’s violent, rather than sexual, nature? ).

Another problem is that the censors rely heavily on images rather than attitudes. To their credit, the situation here is not as bad as in some places where the system is almost a ‘scorecard’ one, with so many points for a decapitation, so many for a “shit”, with the total giving the certificate, or the cuts required for a certificate. Here, the reputation of the director is taken into account, which is why films like “The Fly” and “Hellraiser” were passed uncut (for cinema release), but neither Cronenberg nor Barker are immune, with “Videodrome” being hit especially heavily on video, and Clive Barker not being overly optimistic about the chances of “Hellbound” [see review]. Even if the scenes are not at all gratuitous and the attitude is admirable, the image is the thing.

Counter examples are possible. A graphic portrayal of someone being sliced up by telegraph wires into five or six sections would not normally be allowed, but when it’s in a Tom & Jerry cartoon, no-one seriously wants a ban.

One problem with censoring by attitude is that it is rather more difficult to censor a film’s attitude than if it is images that are considered undesirable – you can’t change the feeling of a film by trimming a few scenes. This means you have to ban films entirely, and you are then onto pretty dangerous ground in a democracy.

I don’t think that any image is capable of causing an anti-social act in any sane individual, and that even in a madman, it is just as likely to be a ‘normal’ image that tips the balance as any sex or violence. Case in point; remember John Hinckley Jr, the guy who tried to assassinate Pres. Reagan a few years back? Who did he claim as his ‘justification’? Jodie Foster – to my knowledge SHE hasn’t appeared in any video nasties.

However, there can be no doubt that images can affect people, as is clearly shown by what happened when news reports of the Ethiopian disaster led to a massive wave of public concern and charity. Almost all adults are capable of telling fact from fiction, but I still feel that even totally fictitious scenes, whether on TV, in the cinema or in a book, can still alter your viewpoint, though to a much lesser degree naturally.

To the vast majority of people, this is no problem. They have a wide enough variety of ‘input’ that the overall effects tend to balance out – any ‘anti-social’ effects of watching “Rape is Nice”, are cancelled by everyday input from TV, newspapers, etc telling you ‘Rape is NOT Nice’. This attitude, by the way, also negates the argument which asks why it is alright for the censors to see a film, but not alright for us. The danger does not lie in watching a broad range of films, but if you watch nothing but hard-core sadistic sex, it’s bound to alter your viewpoint.

So what should be censored? The two main areas deserving of consideration are violence and sex. We’ll take these in order and start with violence. There are several points which I’d like to see considered:

  • i) Is the violence by people on people? This is the ‘fantasy’ aspect, of cartoons and many horror films – people will find it very difficult to imitate a film like ‘Re-Animator’!
  • ii) How are the people commiting the acts shown? If the heroes are seen to be violent, it is more likely to make people think that violence is in some way acceptable than if violent people are depicted as ‘bad’. The ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’ films seem to me to be on dodgy ground here, even if Freddy is an anti-hero, people identify with him more than his victims.
  • iii) The reality of the violence, and the attitude with which it is shown. If we showed the REAL effects of a shotgun wound, I think it would have a BENEFICIAL effect ; most people would take it a lot more seriously. At the other extreme, when violence is clearly not real, when it descends into slapstick, I doubt if anyone’s attitude will change. If violence is depicted ‘casually’, like any other everyday occurence, people will start accepting it, instead of it being a shocking event.
This is an anti-censorship cartoon which appeared in The Film Mercury magazine circa 1926.

Only when all three guidelines are violated show a film be considered to be possibly worth banning – Laurel and Hardy fail i) & ii), but are clearly such pure slapstick that they easily pass iii). Some more examples prove extremely interesting. ‘Rambo’ fails the lot, while virtually all horror films pass at least the third section – part of their horrific nature is to show unpleasant things such as the result of violence – and many are also detached enough from reality to let them through the first as well. This seems about right to me, as I personally find it very disturbing that films which seem to me to ‘glory in slaughter’ and advocate thoughtless violence as a solution to all problems, are passed with no cuts and a 15 certificate, while horror films, even those clearly based in fantasy, and where the violence is depicted REALISTICALLY, are continually sliced ‘n’ diced by the men with the scissors.

Sex is, if anything, an even more touchy area – the range of opinions on the subject is enormous. Some countries are very touchy about sex, for example the United States, while others are very liberal – France shows hard-core pornography on TV. I tend to the conservative (small c!) point of view, not least because 95% of sex scenes are totally gratuitous, but a lot of people confuse sex and nudity – we should remember there IS a difference! However, I can’t get all worked up about it, probably because I find most sex films pretty dull!

TV and cinema have different standards of what can be shown, which can provoke the occasional howl of outrage when the censoring is less than subtle, but from a moral,rather than artistic, point of view I can see why it’s necessary. Cinema is both an active and controlled entertainment, in that it takes an effort to go to your local Odeon (it’s difficult to accidentally see a film), and the owners can prevent children from seeing films meant for adults. This removes the risk of being accidentally ‘offended’ by something that exists with TV (although I haven’t yet seen anything I found offensive – perhaps I’m watching the wrong programs?) and also corrupting the young and innocent.

The situation is considerably more delicate when we consider television made FOR children, where the viewers are more easily influenced and are seeking role-models. If you watch TV on a Saturday morning, and see ‘He- Man, Master of the Universe’ or his sister ‘She-Ra, Princess of Power’, you’ll see casual violence by the hero/ines on a scale that far surpasses most programmes for adults (with the possible exception of professional wrestling). Although these programmes are clearly not a representation of suburban life in the 1980’s (unless you live in a very different suburb from me!), children are less capable of telling the difference between fact and fiction. Although there are many worthwhile and perfectly harmless programs on TV I don’t like to ponder what might happen when the children weaned on He-man grow up…

I fear this piece has raised more questions than it has answered. I’ve neatly avoided important issues like the morality of censorship in a democracy, but hopefully this piece will stimulate some of you out there to think about this important topic, before it’s too late…

It Must Be True…

Recently, people have begun to realise that not all papers are as much guardians of the truth as we’d like to believe. Certain papers will print anything they care to make up, if they think they can get away with it – fortunately, they sometimes get it very wrong as several libel cases have shown. However, not all newspapers believe that it is necessary to print hurtful lies about people to produce an entertaining and successful publication – one example of this is “The Weekly World News”.

It’s an American paper – in tone, it is similar to the Sunday Sport, but it doesn’t have the naked women on every second page that it’s British cousin does. The two papers do share a close relationship – many of the stories printed in the Sport first appeared in the Weekly World News i.e. “World War 2 Bomber Found on Moon!” & “World War 2 Bomber Found on Moon Vanishes!”. It’s actually an off-shoot of “The National Enquirer”, but while that paper concentrates on ‘celebrity’ stories, the WWN has no bounds set to it.

I like the WWN. It strikes me that it is much less harmful than certain papers I could mention for three reasons :

  • It makes things up consistently – the gutter press leaven their poison with just enough truth to make it plausible.
  • Its fabrications are entirely harmless – no-one is ever hurt by them, and the odds of an alien from Mars suing for damages are pretty minimal, I’d have thought!
  • The ‘journalists’ (and I use the term loosely) on the WWN have far better imaginations than most. Instead of being obsessed with X having an affair with Y, their stories are a wider range of fiction than is found in most local libraries.

Somewhere near here you’ll see a few example stories from recent issues of the WWN. I feel a few of them require a little more explanation… :

WORLD WAR II BOMBER FOUND ON MOON HAS VANISHED – “An American warplane that was found on the moon last spring has vanished, thwarting a multi-national probe that was to determine how it got there in the first place. The moon-bound World War 2 bomber first made headlines when a Soviet probe photographed it at the bottom of a crater in late March. Dr Wilhelm Greder of the Swiss UFO group CONTACT said it is almost certain that space aliens are somehow connected with the plane. “It would have taken a space-ship of enormous size and sophistication to move it. We’re just about 99% sure that is what happened. It’s almost as if someone or something was aware of our investigation and took the plane before we found out too much”.

HIS DOCTOR DAD… ‘Rick Gibson eats tonsils like they’re going out of style: on crackers, with cheese or straight. He just opens wide and scarfs [I assume this is some obscure Americanism for eating! Ed.] them down! “They’re not much to look at but they sure are tasty” said the 36-year old man from London, “They go great with anything’. Turns out his father is a doctor and can keep him supplied with these delicacies. As for the taste, the very best ones taste like hard oysters, the worst ones like pencil erasers…

WOMAN WITH TWO HEADS… “A female communications student is suing her local TV station, claiming officials there discriminated against her when they denied her a job – just because she had two heads”. The job she was going for was as an anchorwoman on a news programme! One of the quotes of the year has to be “I was twice as intelligent as any other candidate they considered, and although I have two heads, both of them are pretty”. The case has touched off a major debate in Bulgaria, whre it happened – station chief Kiril Mihailov’s comment ; “We are not in the business of providing jobs for freaks”.

HOW TO TELL IF YOU ARE DESCENDED FROM A SPACE ALIEN.
  • Eye color green or blue, and set wide apart in the head
  • Feet smaller than normal with longer toes
  • Ears large and close to the head ( is Prince Charles half-alien? )
  • Hand and fingers long and slender. Nails perfectly formed but weak
  • Face delicate, but sharply chiselled. Lips full or very thin
  • Hips fuller than average or downright wide.
  • Hair red or blonde
  • Body build small to average. Bones are usually weak and thin.
  • Personality – smart, perceptive & intelligent, but likely to be a dreamer.

Beep, beep. However their biggest scoop deserves to be reported in full…

The Incredibly Bad Film Show: Passion Flower Hotel

The tone of this film is set in the very first shot, which is a close-up of a breast. Yes, this film is 100% sexploitation, right from the off, and doesn’t really let up, through a continuous series of shower scenes, shots of school-girls in their nighties and sundry other gratuitous pieces of nudity until the end, when we finally get our reward for sitting through it all in the extremely droolworthy form of an unclothed, 16 year old, Nastassja Kinski.

In the first scene, we have the inhabitants of a dorm in St Clars’s school for girls attempting to find out what heavy petting is like by the odd method of making their arms go numb and then touching themselves… Of course, such anti-social behaviour can not go unpunished, and the leader is moved to another dorm, leaving the remaining four to worry about the problems of being “four blossoming virgins who can’t get rid of it”.

Help is at hand though, in the shape of Deborah Collins (NK), a new American girl. She is first seen on the train to the school where she meets Frederick Irwin Benjamin Sinclair Reynolds (knows as Fibs, for obvious reasons), who is going to be a pupil at the boys’ school, handily located just across the lake. This blossoming relationship is rudely ended when they are separated by their respective head teachers, both of whom look like ex-Gestapo agents.

Never daunted, Deborah phones his school and arranges to meet him that night, but he is caught, leaving her to sit around feeling melancholy, in a touching scene. At least it is touching, until a sea-gull craps on her, in one of the most surreal moments in cinema history.

Deborah, being an American girl, is treated as the fountain of all wisdom by her dorm-mates – she knows about rock & roll, successfully convincing the head girl that it is the latest exercise scheme, as used by the U.S. Olympic team (this movie seems to be set in the mid-50’s, but it isn’t easy to tell)! Equally, it is assumed that she knows all about s*x, and her friends ask her advice on how they too can lose their purity.

Deborah & Fibs She comes up with the novel idea of forming a company, Club Love Unlimited to offer sex to Fibs and his mates (with a small m, pun not intended), with the school-girls acting as the hookers. They draw up a price list –

  • “1: Just looking;
        above the waist, 5 Francs,
        below the waist, 7 Francs,
        both, 10 Francs.
        Time limit 15 minutes.
  • 2: Touching;
        above the waist, 8 Francs,
        below the waist, 10 Francs,
        both,15 Francs.
        Time limit 15 minutes.
  • 3: All the way; 20 Francs.
        No time limit”

and send a letter to their prospective clients, who understandably are enthusiastic about the idea. The first customer is dispatched, chosen in the time-honoured method by an eating contest (grasshoppers, to be precise). It is the ‘fat boy’, Plum Pudding, disliked by his fellows – they reduce his appeal somewhat by dropping a dead fish in his blazer pocket. The location of the meeting is a boat in the middle of the lake (before launching, there is a gorgeous parody of the life-jacket demonstration in planes). The obvious occurs (this film is never subtle!) and the boat capsizes,nearly drowning Plum Pudding.

Another attempt is made. Another eating contest (dumplings) – complete with dramatic piano music, but this time Plum Pudding is beaten. Following the previous fiasco, the location is terra firma, the boathouse, decked out with cushions & curtains, and renamed “The Passion Flower Hotel”. This is no more successful though, as a series of accidents (“It’s my fault, I’m left handed”) and the after-effects of the dumplings take their toll…

Not from PFH - but it's nice... To restore their reputation, Fibs sends in a sub – their head boy, wise in the ways of the world. Unfortunately, the girls’ art teacher (male) and his girl-friend have also arranged a rendezvous there. Things are not helped by the Club Love Unlimited employee OD-ing on Dutch courage – she ends up being carried unconscious back to the school by the art master, while the substitute gets off with the girl-friend.

St Clara’s head teacher is aware that something is going on, and moves the head girl into the dorm. They convince her one of the boys is passionately in love with her, and she rushes down to the boat-house to meet him. No luck here either – she ends up leaping into the lake for some reason or other that managed to get lost in the dubbing.

This disheartens the directors of Club Love Unlimited so much that they decide to close down, but decide to go out with a bang and arrange a strip -tease contest with the boys as judges. This is arranged for the annual prize-giving at St Clara’s, and the teachers are removed from circulation by putting “disinhibiting pills” in the punch (as in Carry On Abroad).

From here on, things get chaotic, but the end result is that everyone gets someone, even Plum Pudding, who falls for St Clara’s head girl. Deborah and Fibs are, of course entwined, in a soft-focus sex scene, accompanied by some particularly sickly piano music. The next morning comes the reckoning. Deborah is expelled, but saves her friends from the same fate by threatening to tell the newspapers, and the film ends with her leaving on the train, swearing her love for Fibs.

There you have the plot, possibly one of the most ridiculous ever? It is just so tacky – there is no way a comedy about school-girl prostitutes could be made now, with the current problems of AIDS and child abuse. In it’s 80 or so minutes, it manages to trample on almost all of society’s corns but does it in such a manner that you have got to laugh.

Poster The director, Andre Farwagi, knows he has few cards to play, basically nudity and more nudity, but he does so with some skill – you are always kept hanging on, hoping for some more flesh. The humour is pretty basic, relying almost totally on slap-stick, but I still find it a highly amusing and entertaining film. It does get shown on television now and again – Thames showed it about nine months ago, and TVS a little while after – so I’d suggest that you keep an eye out for it. If you have an interest in ‘bad’ movies or even if you just want to enjoy some gratuitous sex (which is getting harder to find these days as censorship clamps down), this is one film I’d certainly recommend.