Frabjous Tidings, Brothers and Sisters of the Psychotronic Video World! When Wes asked me to write an end-of-the-year wrap-up piece, I found myself in a little bit of a pickle. I didn’t watch most of the new horror released this year, haven’t been watching THE WALKING DEAD or AMERICAN HORROR STORY, in short, I’ve been something of a piss-poor horror nerd this year. C’est la vie. I ultimately decided to recreate the spark I had last year when I wrote up quickie capsule reviews of the 10 best books I’d read that year.
I didn’t read quite as many Bloodsprayer relevant books this year, in part due to spending two months studying paralegalism, and in part due to a sudden compelling interest in the Middle Ages. That being said, I still got quite a bit of good reading in, and I bring you 2011’s list of the 10 Best Bloodsprayer-Relevant Books I Read.
10.) Forbidden Fruit: The Golden Age of the Exploitation Film, by Felicia Feaster and Brett Wood. One thing I’ve truly fallen in love with this year, readers, is exploitation film, especially some of the sleazy stuff to have come out of the 1930s and 1940s. Midget westerns, drug-scare propaganda (REEFER MADNESS, anyone?), VD scare propaganda, monkey suits, and the pinnacle of raw, honest American filmmaking, FREAKS. Feaster and Wood do an excellent job not just cataloging these films, but also at presenting the zeitgeist of the era.
9.) Kong Unbound: The Cultural Impact, Pop Mythos, and Scientific Plausibility of a Cinematic Legend, edited by Karen Haber. The original 1933 KING KONG is consistently in my “Top 3” list of greatest movies ever made. Everything about it is just absolutely spectacular. This book, released in conjunction with the 2005 remake, is a collection of essays by the likes of Ray Bradbury, Harryhausen, William Stout, Phillip J. Currie, Maurice Sendak and more, exploring KONG not just on the surface, but also deeper themes such as sexual repression, race relations, the triumph of technology over the natural world, etc.
8.) Unruly Pleasures: the Cult Film and its Critics, edited by Xavier Mendik and Graham Harper. Ever find yourself in an upper level collegiate course without having taken the prerequisites? That’s how this book feels to me, and I think it would have ranked higher if so much of it hadn’t gone over my head. With essays covering topics ranging from the original ROLLERBALL to the politics of female ejaculation-pornography, it’s a pretty heady read.
7.) Shambling Towards Hiroshima, by James Morrow. Exploring an alternate history in which, Plutonium production being considered too costly, the United States embarked in a biogenetics experiment to produce giant, fire-breathing reptiles to use against the Japanese in WWII, Shambling Towards Hiroshima is a somber, sorrowful story told through the eyes of Syms Thorley, a B-movie actor hired to play “Gorgantis” when the experiment hits a snag, in a demonstration designed to hopefully convince the Japanese to surrender. Much more serious and heart-wrenching then it sounds, especially with the framing story around Thorley’s narrative.
6.) The Elric Saga, by Michael Moorcock. Elric of Melniboné being pretty much the polar opposite of Conan the Barbarian — a sickly, albino sorcerer-king of a prehuman race, cursed to slay everyone he ever cares for, betrayer of his entire species and harbinger of the doom of the world — Moorcock’s prose is an amazing blend of Victorian gothicism, 1960s psychedelica (he wrote lyrics for Hawkwind and Blue Oyster Cult!) and classic fantasy adventure fiction. The entire series, written over a period of over four decades, has recently been reprinted by Del Rey in omnibus editions.
5.) Strange Histories: The Trial of the Pig, the Walking Dead, and Other Matters of Fact from the Medieval and Renaissance World, by Darren Oldridge. A nonfiction book dealing with the beliefs and superstitions of Europeans from the 10th through the 17th centuries, Oldridge offers a fascinating insight into our ancestors’ (well, if you’re of European descent like myself) worldview and belief systems. Much of it is fairly mind-blowing (Medieval Europeans, by and large, did not believe in werewolves, on the grounds that only God could transform one body into another), though Oldridge seems a little too intent on his argument that the people of the 10th century were every bit as rational and reasonable as those of the 21st century — glossing considerably over witchcraft trials, for example.
4.) Trash Cinephile, by Blake Ryan. An excellent collection of reviews, arranged by theme, and covering a wide variety of films ranging from sicko 1970s exploitation to classic horror. Ryan’s opinions are well-thought out and delivered with panache — though there’s a little bit of poor proofreading on the part of some galley-preparer marring the book.
3.) Cinema Sewer Collected Vol. III, by Robin Bougie. Do you believe in magic? I do, and it comes in the form of the Bougieman’s transcendentally hilarious and thoughtful hand-lettered prose and sensual, sexy artwork. I’m probably going to gnaw my own face off waiting for Vol. IV. Some highlights of this issue are a tribute to 1970s porn star Rene Bond, a sordid piece on white supremacist porn actress Bianca Trump, a tribute to Vanity, Women in Prison, and one of the finest illustrations of Queen Victoria I’ve ever seen.
2.) My Year of Flops: The A.V. Club Presents One Man’s Journey Deep into the Heart of Cinematic Failure, by Nathan Rabin. Reading Rabin’s review made me want to watch WATERWORLD. ‘Nuff said.
1.) Swedish Sensationsfilms, by Daniel Ekeroth. I rushed out and bought a copy of this after reading Wes’ glowing review here. And I was not disappointed. Christina Lindberg in her own words, the bizarre history of “Glacier-Westerns,” Viking movies, the birth of western theatrical pornography…all told here in sly, entertaining prose. A must read for any with an interest in international Psychotronic Cinema.
Tags: Cinema Sewer, Daniel Ekeroth, Elric, exploitation, Forbidden Fruit, Godzilla, king kong, Kong Unbound, Michael Moorcock, My Year of Flops, Reviews, Robin Bougie, Shambling Towards Hiroshima, Strange Histories, Swedish Sensationsfilms, Trash Cinephile, Unruly Pleasures