It Must Be True…

Tidying up on a story from a previous issue; the Sunday Times, in their review of the year, mentioned the story about Cicciolina and the squashed dove. According to them, it took place in AFGHANISTAN and not Hungary, but since they described Ms. Staller as a “dancer” (euphemistic, to say the least), I’m taking their version with a pinch of salt! They did restore their credibility a little in a recent colour supplement, with “A Day in the Life of Ilona Staller”, which was superb. A few quotes from it here are essential :

“Very often I wake up in the clouds without nearly as much sleep as my young body needs [ she’s 38! ] and the only remedy is to plunge straight under an ice-cold shower. It’s good for my breasts… I want to build love parks all over the world. I’m hoping Mrs. Thatcher will want several… Catching people’s attention is easy – going past the Colosseum on a float, I just lifted up my blouse and showed the crowd my titties, then my skirt to keep their interest, and they all listened to what I had to say”

Thief of the Year award goes to the man who tried to rob a store in America while carrying two guns. The assistant pointed out that two guns were not really necessary and offered to buy one off the robber. Following some negotiation, a price of $300 was struck and the pistol handed over in exchange for the cash. The shop-keeper then offered to buy the OTHER gun for the same amount – after some agonising, the thief agreed, snatched the second lot of $300, threw the gun at the assistant and headed for the doors. The victim pressed the button that automatically locked these and refused to let the villain out until all the cash was returned. This the robber did, and he was freed, leaving the store with a net gain of two pistols.

Only in America. Indiana University doctors attributed a patient’s anaemia to his having swallowed 80 quarters and $1.32 in loose change. He believed it was necessary “to prevent a gun in his stomach from firing”. Also, David Burling, 19, was acquitted on a charge of manafacturing the drug ecstasy because it’s scientific name, methylene-dioxymethamphetamine, was misspelled in the state law.

Pennsylvania state is planning a law that will make ‘deviant’ records and tapes carry a sticker, labelled as follows : “WARNING: May carry explicit lyrics descriptive of or advocating one or more of the following: suicide, sodomy, incest, bestiality, sadomasochism, sexual activity in a violent context, murder, morbid violence, illegal use of drugs or alcohol. PARENTAL ADVISORY. Clearly no-one has considered this might ENCOURAGE people to buy the records…

Trash sport. Robert Vance, playing cricket for Wellington in the New Zealand equivalent of the County Championship, conceded a world record SEVENTY-SEVEN runs off one over. 69 of these went to Lee German of Canterbury, who was caught out off two of the over’s seventeen no-balls, hit 8 sixes and 5 fours and whose score went from 75 to 160 in two overs. The umpires lost track and stopped the over after only five legal balls had been bowled. The reason for this odd behavior was to try and tempt Canterbury to go for a win – in the end, however, the match was a draw.

So you think TC’s bad for printing gratuitous pictures of Nastassja. Recently, the “Daily Express” had a short article on Italian actor Marcello Mastroianni and his love life, accompanied by some pictures of him and his past lovers. Mastroianni’s pic was 10 square cm, Faye Dunaway and Catherine Deneuve each got 8 square cm but the pic of NK was 14.5 by 8, or a meaty 116 square cm. Not bad going, given the only mention of her was second place in a list of his mistresses!

From the Independent, via ‘Time Out’: ‘Swaziland is to deport a self-confessed Moroccan cannibal because he has been demanding the bodies of road accident victims for his meals. The authorities feel unable to satisfy the appetites of Hitler Sharin [ sic ], a self-style mercenary soldier, who has just spent six months in prison for the illegal possession of arms’. Not to mention a couple of legs and the odd internal organ, no doubt.

For once, most of the stories on the opposite page don’t really need any explanation from me. However, the “vibrator play’ one might do (I’m indebted to Glyn Williams from bringing this piece to my attention). To quote the article:

“Aussie soap fans have blasted a Prisoner Cell Block H play which includes refence to vibrators and uses language such as ‘vinegar tits’… Fan club organiser Roz Vescey said ‘We believe this would be offensive to many genuine fans who turn up to the show expecting it to be like the series'”

Vinegar tits! Gosh! Even speaking as someone whose knowledge of the female penal system is confined to ‘Reform School Girls’, I think it might be just about possible that you would hear such language behind bars. Mind you, Prisoner Cell Block H has never really been about reality to any extent!

PATIENT ATTACKS DENTIST WITH HIS OWN DRILL. “Easygoing Al Hartman writhed and squirmed for 90 minutes as a bumbling dentist nearly ripped his mouth to shreds. Then the peeved patient leaped from the chair – and turned the drill on the dumbo doc! ‘He tore my gums bloody just cleaning my teeth and when he started to drill, the drill kept slipping off and boring holes in my gums and cheeks… I grabbed him by the shirt and shoved him down in the chair and started drilling away at his teeth. He started screaming his head off and I loved every minute of it. I know it was the wrong thing to do, but right then I just wanted to make the little twerp pay.'”

That’s what you get for having Steve Martin as your dentist.

Nightmares in a Damaged Brain: Nightmares 5, Sanity 2

The phone rang.

I leant back on the beach, swept up the nearest crab and moaned ‘Yeargh’ into it like a cellar door in need of liquid refreshment. A thin and insufferably cheerful voice chimed back “Your early morning call, Sir”. I asked for extra chilli on my kebab, replaced the crab and rubbed some more intoxicatingly aromatic oil into Nastassja’s thigh. Waves of fluorescent azure licked contentedly at the starfish shaded sand.

The crab rang again. “You told me to ring twice, Sir”, the voice piped cheerily. “Now why would I do a stupid thing like that?” I replied, instantly pleased with the logic. “I don’t know, Sir, but you were very insistent”. Mmmm. Sounded like me alright. I asked Nastassja to roll over so I could work the oil… “I am sorry, Sir” the creature twittered insincerely “but you know no house guests are permitted”. I told the crab to scuttle off somewhere moist or I’d pull it’s legs off, but it seemed to be attached to the beach by a length of coiled plastic flex…

Reality slid slowly sideways, capsised and sank, it’s iridescent colours and exotic smells vaporising in flame like a burning photograph, leaving me with a stiffness in the groin and a puzzled hotelier. I told him I’d be down for coffee. “I’ll make it strong, Sir” he intoned flatly. There were some days when it would be better to stay in bed. This was one of them, so I got up.

Fighting my way to the window with a hangover so big you could camp under it when it rains, I was greeted by Burton Latimer . The town has ostensibly been laid out by someone who longed to build Arndale Centres, but didn’t have the imagination. It smelt of casual slacks, Volvo estates and Sainsbury’s carrier bags.

The room was furnished with what appeared to be the result of a five minute frenzy in an MFI Closing Down Sale, and assembled by someone who didn’t know if he was going to live through the day. The colour scheme had evidently been chosen by someone who didn’t care either way. There had, I reckoned, better be a bloody good reason for my being here. _________________

Burton Latimer is very near to the Weetabix factory. Car drivers going from Northampton to Burton Latimer often get stuck behind it’s big yellow lorries. On their way home, they often get stuck behind Carlsberg lorries. Contrary to popular belief, Carlsberg is probably the best lager in Northampton. It’s an exciting place to live, Burton Latimer…

The hotelier’s expression came straight out of a Dario Argento flick. He was looking at a face worse than death, so I smiled back. I figured that his idea of living in the fast lane was probably the six items or less checkout at Sainsbury’s. With a voice like stormtroopers tap-dancing on a honeyed gravel drive, I ordered my coffee black as a moonless night and sweeter than a stolen kiss. He replied that it would be made by Dawn, which I hoped was a lady rather than a sunrise deadline. She approached my table like an extra in a Kylie Minogue promo, and I am not suggesting that Kylie is either particularly pretty or graceful.

The coffee leaked away through the table without wetting my knees, and a second cup performed the same trick. I toyed with the idea of keeping some in a sample bottle in case I ever needed a positive pregnancy test, but too much thinking like that would get you a long stay in a room with soft walls. I reckoned that I belonged here about as much as the Skin Two matchbook belonged in my pocket. The address on the flap was opulent, expansive and exquisite and that was just the handwriting, so I made a move.

The taxi driver decided I needed to see both town halls, so I decided to keep the tip. I expected someday to hear intelligent conversation from a cabbie, but I sure wasn’t dumb enough to hold my breath. The shop windows were blacked out, which was fine enough, but the nameboard was Japanese,which wasn’t. Knowing as much abiut the Bushido code as a geranium, I crossed the desert of cracked paving slabs, nostrils assailed with black bean sauce, and entered the oriental emporium.

The unscrupulous Oriental behind the counter smiled like someone who had a Magnum pointed at my balls, so I figured that my name wasn’t Robert Robinson. There was enough hardware in the place to make any gun collector/Mercenary magazine reader wet himself with delight, but none of it was projectile. It was like standing in the Shogun Assassin props room. “I have been expecting you, Detective Sahn”, he breathed, and unwrapped a shining shuriken from an oiled paper sheet as if it were made of ice and not hammered steel, never breaking eye contact like a gunfighter in a Sergio Leone movie.

“A woman”, he whispered.

An Evening with Troma

THE TOXIC AVENGER PART III – THE LAST TEMPTATION OF TOXIE

Dir: Kaufman & Herz. After shooting Part II, the Troma team found themselves with a lot of unused footage and with ingenuity only they possess, decided to turn it, with a few additional scenes, into a fully fledged movie. What’s even more remarkable is that the result is a good deal better than the film from which it’s the left-overs. While it showed that II was partly funded by Lorimar (despite Lloyd Kaufman assuring me they’d no creative input into it, “though I wish they had!”), III returns in part to the original; not quite as much poor taste, perhaps, but still an acceptable film.

In plot, it’s exactly the same as II. Tromaville is threatened by Apocalypse, Inc who try to destroy Toxie. The difference is this time they try to bribe him, rather than sending him off to Japan – he goes to work for them in exchange for $350,000 to pay for an operation to get Claire, his blind girlfriend, to see again. It’s almost as if II never happened; Toxie has totally forgotten all the evil things Apocalypse, Inc did in the last film. He becomes a yuppie before seeing the error of his ways and discovering the head of Apocalypse, Inc is Satan in disguise.

The first third is a joy, in the spirit of the original. The tone is set in the opening scene, a thinly veiled attack on the big boys who rule the film industry: a video shop, full of Troma product naturally, is attacked by Apocalypse thugs (the Warner brothers!) who demand the removal of all but the top 20 titles; one customer who asks for variety & choice is blown away and left twitching on the floor. Enter Toxie. One baddie’s intestines are pulled out and used as a skipping rope, another has his face erased and a third gets a hand shredded, in merciless detail, by a VCR.

The film can’t sustain this for too long – it slides, ever so gently, down-hill with the last third being almost down to II standard. Toxie as a yuppie is a nice idea, and is about the only joke that isn’t over-played. Phoebe Legere, as Claire, has improved drastically and has something of a character now, though her tendency to lie around with her legs splayed wide is slightly distracting.

Directorially, it’s good stuff by Troma standards, at times almost psychedelic with the dream sequences being especially effective. The special effects are about as you’d expect; not expensive, with trick photography and lots of cutting away at appropriate moments – the original Toxie at least showed heads being crushed, for just enough time to allow your imagination to fill in the blanks without realising it was a cheap effect. The soundtrack, loosely based on Dvorak(!), also stood out, though it occasionally doesn’t fit in with the tone of the film.

Overall, not bad. You could edit II & III together and get one great movie; roll on IV (“Mr Toxie goes to Washington”) but will it be as naff as II or as good as III?

TOP TEN TACKY TROMA TEAM TITLES

  1. Nymphoid Barbarian in Dinosaur Hell
  2. I was a Teenage TV Terrorist
  3. Ferocious Female Freedom Fighters
  4. Sergeant Kabukiman, N.Y.P.D.
  5. Sizzle Beach, USA
  6. The Nymphoteens
  7. Surf Nazis Must Die!
  8. Death to the Pee-Wee Squad
  9. Fat Guy Goes Nutzoid
  10. Rabid Grannies

Founded in the mid 1970’s by Michael Herz and Lloyd Kaufman, two graduates of Yale University (Kaufman majored in Asian studies!), Troma films have acquired an odd status among trash fans – some people swear by them, others about them. Their best known product is “The Toxic Avenger” which pulled in worldwide over $15 million on a budget of less than $1 million. It became notorious after receiving the most cuts in the history of the BBFC, though this is still better than the Ontario film review committee, who refused point-blank to watch the second half! Despite never having had a hit film in big company terms, Troma kept plugging away, releasing an average of five or six films a year, both made by the Troma team, and bought in from outside. LLoyd Kaufman was over in the country recently for a Guardian discussion on exploitation films. The other panellists were Nigel Floyd, film critic specializing in schlock/exploitation, Andrew Keyte, head of Film Rental at Virgin Video who have bought the rights to several Troma films and Derek Malcolm, ‘Guardian’ film critic.

The discussion opened with people trying to define an exploitation film. Nigel Floyd described it as a movie that cashes in on a current trend, where art comes second. This same man went on to describe ‘Henry, Portrait of a Serial Killer’ as the best exploitation film of the last ten years, and completely failed to describe what trend it was cashing in on or how art came second in it. Floyd launched into an attack on The Toxic Avenger for conforming to standard values while the best exploitation films preached non-conformity; Lloyd Kaufman replied, “If we’re guilty of promoting bad values like loyalty, decency and being true to one’s girlfriend than I am very sorry!”. The conversation turned to marketing and it was suggested that for Troma, the title played a large part and marketing was used to sell second rate films. Here, it turned out that “Rabid Grannies” was the original title of the film and not a Troma device – the dubbing, too, was done in Belgium.

The subject of censorship came up, and Keyte described how the BBFC’s blanket ban on martial arts weapons was posing problems for ‘Toxic Avenger 2′, despite the Ninja Death Star used in the film actually being a star-fish, the BBFC wanted it cut. He went on to say there is a lot of caution in the video industry just now, as they want to avoid a crackdown leading to a similar situation to Germany where ’18’ rated videos are now only available from licensed sex shops.

Lloyd Kaufman was asked for the Troma formula, but replied that they didn’t go by one, beyond trying to keep the budget modest. They find a lot of subject matter in the newspapers and treat it in a new way – about the only common theme running through their films is that they are nearly all comedies (this obviously excludes bought-in product like “Combat Shock”). They’re not keen on bigger budgets; ‘Sgt Kabukiman, NYPD’ is their biggest ever at $4 million. Kaufman suggested it was the big companies that really pulled the wool over people’s eyes with marketing, quoting ‘Batman’ as an example of the power of advertising.

By now it was becoming clear that Kaufman didn’t take anything too seriously, Keyte was a company mouthpiece, Malcolm a closet trash fiend and Floyd a total prat. The man purported to be a fan of exploitation films yet, even by his own terms, the films he liked couldn’t be so described. He accused Troma of trying to create cults, failing to deliver the goods and having a ‘glib and superficial’ attitude. Then he went on to criticise their attitude towards women and homosexuals, but was totally unable to justify the latter accusation. Kaufman responded by saying it was taken to obvious extremes, but skipped neatly round a question from the floor about Senor Sida, the AIDS-ridden bad guy in “Troma’s War” (Kaufman regards the unrated version of it as a the nearest thing Troma has to a masterpiece!). He did admit that he might not distribute “Blood Sucking Freaks” now, a movie he described as being harder to watch now then when it came out and made the comment that he disliked violence to children – since this is a feature of both “The Toxic Avenger” and “Rabid Grannies”, it seemed a little odd!

After a discussion on why there hasn’t been a British equivalent to Troma since the demise of Hammer(!), which came to no real conclusions, Kaufman was asked where he saw Troma going. He said he’d never been so worried about the place in the market of the independent film-maker and warned that it was quite possible that the large amount of films on the market was no lasting trend but just the overhang from the home video explosion.

Perhaps the most chilling thing to come out of the whole evening came at the end, when it was claimed that Colorbox had come under pressure from some major video chains following the passing of “Bad Taste” uncut, threatening to withdraw other Colorbox movies unless ‘something’ was done. They resisted, so let’s hope that this is an isolated case; if the video companies start slapping their OWN censorship on top of that of the BBFC (and there’s no reason to think it’ll work the other way, with video chains stocking uncut versions of films they consider have been unfairly censored), then it’s another kick in the teeth for ‘freedom’…

A Xmas (on the) box

BBC1 made a late, and ultimately telling, bid to snatch the ‘Censorship of the Year’ award away from BBC2 (for their scissoring of ‘Repo Man’) by cutting seven sorts of celluloid out of ‘Crocodile Dundee 2’. Not only was the dialogue doctored but whole scenes were removed: when Croc’s at a party, he goes to the toilet and sees a guy snorting coke, which leads to some highly amusing confusion. Not in this version – that whole scene never existed. And the only reason this was done, since I can’t believe they’d have bothered otherwise, was so they could show the film earlier and get better ratings for it. Meanwhile, on ITV things are getting weirder. Just before Xmas, they showed Kubrick’s “The Shining”, totally uncut. Since New Year, they’ve been showing Bond films, and the knives have been out, with cuts, clips and clumsy commercials breaks inserted in an effort to prevent PG-rated movies from corrupting the audience. Can I suggest they sack Timothy Dalton and replace him with Jack Nicholson, since it seems that neither side dares tamper with HIS films!

Unexpected little gem was one of the Channel 4 short films, entitled “The Zip”, about a man who wakes up to find said zip running down his chest. Only ten minutes long, it had some impressive special effects and lot of good, dark atmosphere. Lowlight was “The Woman in Black”, ITV’s ghost story; they seemed to be trying to do a BBC style costume drama, but the period feel was so forced, and they had forgotten about the need for a decent script. I spotted the ending half-way through. Finally, it was galling to discover on Hogmanay that BBC Scotland (I was home at the time) weren’t showing “Hazard of Hearts” with Helena Bonham-Carter, but instead had “The Ipcress File” with Michael Caine. Not QUITE the disappointment of 1989 (that was thinking “Arsenal will never win by two goals at Anfield, I’ll go and watch ‘The Blob’ instead”), but a few kicks were aimed at the cat that day…

Contrived namedropping, #1: Your editor (right) with Manfred Jelinski (left), the producer of ‘Nekromantik’, a film unlikely to appear on TV next, or any, Xmas.

Film Blitz

The Barbarian Women (Al Bradley) – ‘Compared with the Barbarian Women of the Middle Ages, the Amazons of ancient Greece were as horrific as the vestal virgins!! The blood flows in torrents as the result of savagery beyond belief. Orgies of rape & torture, their cruelty has no boundaries. These barbarous and beautiful women will both excite the animal in you and chill your blood to freezing!!’ This blurb is wrong in every important aspect and several unimportant ones. Not even as stupidly bad as the sequel, this is a ‘Magnificent 7’ rip-off, not quite rescued by some well staged fight scenes. Something of a disappointment, 4/10

Blue Sunshine (Jeff Lieberman) – A batch of bad acid at Stamford University has unfortunate side-effects ten years later – the users’ hair falls out and they start killing people. It’s impossible to take bald killers seriously – otherwise, it’s not a bad movie which conceals it’s low budget well. One of the better movies you can buy for 3.99. 6/10

Casualties of War (Brian de Palma) – Michael J. Fox in more American angst about Vietnam, as a soldier disgusted by the behaviour of his comrades who kidnap, rape and kill a Vietnamese girl. Well-made no doubt, with Sean Penn especially good as the leader of the platoon, but the whole film revels in nastiness; characters are introduced solely to get blown up, you get too many over-long shots of corpses and the rape scene is also stretched beyond reason. Quality 7, attitude, 3/10.

Cat Chaser (Abel Ferrara) – Ferrara’s career drifts steadily towards the main- stream; for all it’s many faults, “Driller Killer” was at least original. This is a standard thriller about a millionaire, his bimbo (Kelly McGillis in a variety of skimpy costumes) and her lover (Peter Weller); the last two plot to relieve the former of his money (an irrelevant sub-plot about Central America can be ignored). Takes a long while to get going; when it does, Ferrara’s eye for impressive violence just about salvages it. 6/10.

Deathstalker (John Watson) – Bimbos. Muscle-bound lunks. Swords. Chains. Evil Mud- wrestling. sorceror. Hell, I’m sure there was more to the film than that – damned if I can remember though. Nice, undemanding sword and sorcery fare. 6/10? Evilspeak (Eric Weston) – Terminally dumb “Carrie” rip-off; nerdish military cadet picked upon by all and sundry uses his computer to summon up the ghost of a Satanist ( not bad going for an Apple II, hehehe!) for the standard revenge purposes. The cuts to get it off the banned list means it loses all coherency at the end, it takes far too long to get going and the whole thing’s just stupid & amateurish. 3/10

The Exterminator (James Glickenhaus) – After his friend is attacked and almost killed, John Eastland (Robert Ginty) gets vigilante and becomes The Exterminator, tracking and killing those responsible. From then on, he’s an army exterminating ( for want of a better word) the bad guys who get in his way. His catchline is “If you’re lying, I’ll be back” and the police plus the CIA are out to put a stop to his antics. This gritty and often violent action/thriller also contains one of the most sickening decapitations ever, not that you see it in the BBFC version, naturally. 6/10. (MM).

Flesh Gordon (Michael Benvenista) – The makers of a porn pic got more budget than expected, so they threw in a few effects and silly jokes to get an amusing little satire on Flash. Now shorn of it’s sex scenes, it has to rely on the humour to survive, and just about does so, even if the target subject matter is almost too stupid to parody. The stop-motion animation is surprisingly decent and the acting, if not ‘good’, is no worse than the original! 6/10.

Hellgate (William Levey) – Starts off well, piling cliche on cliche in a parody of the teenagers-in-a-mountain-cabin- telling-ghost-stories genre; phantom bimbo hitch-hikers, ghost towns, magic &l84crystals, crummy effects, the works. Unfortunately, half-way through, you suddenly realise that it’s NOT a parody, and that the makers are, in fact, serious. From then on, it ceases to be of any interest at all. 3/10. Jesus of Montreal (Denys Arcand) – This is a damn good film. Having expected something “Last Temptation”-ish (dull!), I was shocked how brilliant it was. Tho’ there is a religious element (it’s about an actor trying to put on a passion play who finds his life paralleling Christ), it’s not overbearing and is convincing, un-preachy and done with humour. The rest of the film (most of it) aims at a range of targets including lawyers, porn films and method acting, hitting them unerringly with superb wit. Any film that can describe the IQ of the average beer drinker as “10 points less and they’d be a geranium” has got to be seen! 9/10.

Last Exit to Brooklyn (Uli Edel) – Set in 50’s Brooklyn, this is grim soap-opera, with a cast of hookers, gays, thugs, drug addicts and union officials. Edel’s original cut was considered “too violent” by the production company (who gave us “Rambo”, so they’re not bleeding-hearts) and even in the trimmed down version, life seems brutal, with survival of the fittest being the rule – there are some vicious moments, besides which even Jennifer Jason Leigh ‘taking on’ the entire clientele of a bar, pale. Well-acted and compelling, though not an enjoyable picture. 8/10.

The Lift (Dick Maas) – Psychopathic elevators may sound a silly idea – after all, it’s difficult for them to stalk lingerie clad teenagers – yet this manages to be a neat and stylish movie. Lightning strikes an office block, changing the experimental software in it’s lift and turning it into a killer. The scenes with the machinery in killer mode are great and have a real ‘frisson’ to them – if the humans, such as the lift engineer investigating the deaths, have less character it can be put down to the atrocious dubbing, quite the worst I’ve seen in a while. 7/10

A Man In Love (Diane Kurys) – Ok, so what if the only reason I rented this was ‘cos Greta Scacchi’s in it? Menage a trois between a weird actor (Peter Coyote), his weird wife (Jamie Lee Curtis) and a weird actress (Scacchi). Not half weird enough – all the interesting bits, such as Coyote screaming at Greta’s belly-button, take place in the film they’re shooting and Miss Scacchi has a nasty tendency to resemble Kylie Minogue at times, though it must be said she exhibits severe chameleon tendencies and does a convincing NK impression too. 4/10.

Monster (Barbara Peeters) – Genetically frigged salmon escape, rapidly evolve into ‘things’ and attack a fishing community. Gets a point for having the first rape scene ever to make me laugh; the sight of human/salmon hybrids (strongly resembling “The Creature from the Black Lagoon”) mauling bimbos in bikinis was just too silly for words. Never a dull moment, though, thanks to Roger Corman beefing it up by adding attack scenes whenever he felt it was getting dull. Doug McLure is one of the many cardboard characters on show, Rob Bottin did the creatures and it’s messily entertainingly, if totally undemanding intellectually. 6/10.

Not of This Earth (Jim Wynorski) – Traci Lords, who gained notoriety in the States by becoming a porn queen at the age of 16, tries her hand at straight acting in this Roger Corman remake of a 1956 film as the nurse to a vampire from outer space, after Earth’s blood to save his race. Directed with just the right tongue-in-cheek style, Arthur Roberts is great as the alien and Traci Lords keeps her end up well[!], even if the hero is wafer-thin and the title sequence is the most irrelevant I’ve ever seen; ignore it TOTALLY! 7/10.

Psych Out (Richard Rush) – Groovy, man! Jack Nicholson playing bass guitar and Susan Strasberg as a deaf girl looking for her brother, a drugged out hippy character called Steve Davis (any resemblance…), in the San Francisco of 1968. Lots of dippy slang like “It’s all one big plastic hassle”, HIDEOUSLY dated as you’d expect – great fun nonetheless, thanks to a sense of humour and it even made me feel nostalgic for the 60’s which isn’t bad since I was aged three when they ended! 8/10.

Stuck on You (Herz & Weill) – Probably about the closest Troma will get to making a romantic comedy, though the setting of a couple taking a palimony case to court is a thin guise for a quick romp through history according to Troma, plus a few jokes about chickens – having NINE scriptwriters clearly wasn’t enough, as nearly every joke goes on for twice as long as is funny. In the end, there’s about enough childish humour to justify watching it once. 5/10.

The Trip (Roger Corman) – “In the wrong hands, a tremendous advertisement for LSD” says James Furman, head of the BBFC. Could have fooled me; this was a disappointment since I thought there was more to an acid trip than getting stuck in a kaleidoscope. Few things are duller than watching someone else’s mind expand; after 25 minutes of watching Peter Fonda’s mind, I cut my losses and had an early night. 2/10.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being (Philip Kaufmann) – The first ninety minutes are sorta fun; some inane dialogue (“Other womens’ bodies will be our playthings”) and a lot of designer Czech sex. Then, after some striking editing of documentary film of the Russian invasion and footage of the characters, it just dies. The loose ends are all tied up, but it goes ON and ON and ON for 153 minutes. The dramatic highlight of the second half is a dog being put down. First half 6/10, second 2/10.

The Witch (James Robinson) – 1784: a possessed witch is crucified and drowned in a lake but promises revenge. We find this out half way through the film. In the first few minutes she does just that, killing two jokers, one by decapitation (she then cooks the head in a microwave, causing it to explode) and another is cut in half while trying to get out a window. Into this friendly enviroment move a family all set for a new life; needless to say they meet with the wraith of the witch, and by the climax, most of the cast have been offed in the usual variety of ways. The movie offers nothing new, but is worth a look. Also known as ‘Superstition’. 6/10. (MM)

Top 10 Films of 1989

NewRediscovered
Lair of the White Worm (above)
Rabid Grannies
Edge of Sanity
Elvira, Mistress of the Dark
Ghosts of the Civil Dead
Dangerous Liaisons
Parents
The Cook, the Thief…
Bad Taste
Crazy Love
Videodrome
Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill
Flesh For Frankenstein
The Fourth Man
Supervixens
Salome’s Last Dance
The Devils
The Lift
Shogun Assassin
A Clockwork Orange

Honorary mentions: Earth Girls Are Easy, Monkey Shines, Life on the Edge, Dead Heat, Die Hard, Virgin, Kamikaze, Nightmare on Elm St 4, They Live, Licensed to Kill, Legend of the Holy Drinker, Dr. Alien, Getting It Right, Heathers, I’m Gonna Git You Sucka, Alice, Santa Sangre, Teenage Doll, The American Way & LA Bounty.

Letters

Firstly thanks to the people who sent me Xmas cards – it won t surprise you to learn that it was TC readers who were responsible both for the ‘Pirelli Advent calendar’ and the card featuring Santa whipping his reindeer with Rudolf begging for more.

I asked for your opinions on whether going pro-printed was a good thing or no. and I got them – not that there was a unanimous viewpoint

  • Martin Murray. Waterford – ‘The reproduction is definitely improved’
  • Richard Owen, Skewen – ‘I didn’t notice any difference’
  • Glyn Williams. Mickleover – The printing is nice and crisp’
  • Paul J. Brown, Huntingdon – ‘The printing is much better and worth every penny’
  • Simon Owen. Newcastle – ‘There is only a slight improvement in quality but… it’s probably a good idea… if only for the sake of your blood pressure’.

Which is about the best summing up of the actual situation. Meanwhile. other readers have taken great delight in making me mad with envy.

  • Stuart Adamson. Keefe – ‘One of my friends here has met Nastassja Kinski… He met her at a flash party a few years ago when he was doing Tarot readings and such professionally in London. Feel free to grind your teeth and turn green – I know I did!’
  • Steve Moss. Liverpool – ‘…the same Jon and another mate from Norfolk both had very small parts as soldiers in ‘Revolution’ and… met herself(‘ She apparently came over to a group of ‘soldiers’ and said something like 1 feel really sorry for you standing out here in the cold’ before disappearing back into the warmth of her caravan!’
  • Daniel Cox, Greenford – 1 had her once, but I don’t remember the circumstances – I can’t rule out the possibility that it may have been a dream… ‘

I have dreams like that too. He continues with a nastier claim to notoriety

DC – ‘I once met Dennis Nielsen at a party – of course that was before someone called in a plumber ‘

All of which makes anything I might say involving Linnea Quigley pale into insignificance. Mr Adamson has another unique quality. that of being the only TC subscriber know of who plays in a band named after a technique used for detecting sexual abuse of children

SA – ‘The band I play in, R.A.D (Reflex Anal Dilation), are (un)doubtedly the fastest, sickest band on Earth. Well, actually. I’m not so sure that we are, but we enjoy ourselves anyway. Basically we play songs of a somewhat risque nature, badly, though we have improved beyond all recognition since our inception in ’87… Please give us a plug, say how marvellous we are and stuff like that’

Whaddya think this is. ‘Wogan’? Moving on through a random selection of topics raised from previous TCs:

SO – ‘I beat the record for the fewest people in a cinema on Friday afternoon when myself and another bloke watched ‘Mystic Pizza’ at Newcastle Metro Centre”

Phil Taylor, Birmingham – “Have you come across… ‘The Incredibly Strange Fanzine’?.. {have not been able to obtain a reply to my letter (l have written twice). I learned from my bank that it costs 5 to cancel a cheque. therefore | will have to stand the loss if | do not receive the aforesaid “zine”

GW – “I recently look a long while devising a tortuous tale about a man who tues reef knots who discovers a strange ridge across the top of his leg, whereupon his doctor instructs a medical photographer to photograph and enlarge a picture of the peculiar mark. The doctor’s instructions, as you’ve no doubt guessed. were to blow up the ‘Ridge on the Reefer’s Thigh’. I wouldn’t dare, however, inflict this upon you.”

And a good job too The second piece is interesting, as it’s not the only letter I’ve had about that zine – if anyone has sent for it or any other ‘zine, and not received anything. do let me know. We mightn’t be able to help. bul it’ll save other people from making the same mistakes.

What follows ts an unedited chunk of letter, in which Alun Fairburn tries to dig himself out of the hole I was partly responsible for putting him in a couple of issues back

Alun Fairburn. Ammanford – *I loathe the current state of censorship in this country (the mere fact that the BBFC call themselves the Board of Film Classification now, makes my blood boil) and cannot agree with any forms of censorship in film or other media (fanzines, etc). The point that ft tried to get across is that the British Govt’s methods cannot work and will never work. Censorship just cannot work in a democracy. They should leave things bet!!! Nevertheless, | am of the opinion that if the govt. wants to intervene, then at least do so in the most deserving case(s). the torture video(s) that you referred to some time ago for example. I think there are a great majority of people all around the UK who can accept gore for what it is, bul just how many can advocate a torture video? There are some extremes that I couldn’t care less about, but the problem is that tge current system doesn’t stop there. The world is progressing, gore and violent horror gains wider acceptance, but the system in this country seems to stand siill.

Jim’ll Fix It section:

Andy Waller, Bromsgrove – “t hope that I’ve earned some kind of mention in the letter column…”

Yep, think I can just about manage that. However. Mr. Waller made the mistake of writing TWO letters to me, one full of useful. interesting thoughts about TC, the other commenting on “Passion Flower Hotel”. I will now embarrass him by quoting from the latter :

AW – °The words I could use to describe it are perhaps innocently exploitative’ Yeah, the naivete and innocence of the young aspiring actresses. their Ideas and the exploitative nature of the movie were quite unbelievable… Oh, such a beautifully naive perception of sex!

You mean it’s not like that? A plea for help & info now:

Bethany Rhys-Morgan, Manchester – “Do you know anyone that has any information on George Eastman? I’m trying to find out a complete filmography and am especially interested in an English language version of “Erotic Nights of the Living Dead’ & any stills of the said person”

And you thought Roland Rivron was obscurist! For those who don’t know, Georgie is probably best known for playing the title role in “Anthropophagous, the Beast’, a messy film even by Italian standards. Any info should be sent to me and I’ll pass if on. Let me finish with a P.S. that was both amusing and worrying.

Christopher Samms, Rickmansworth – “Please keep up the good work, | don’t know anybody else without any morals!”