Saturday, 27 February 2010

A look inside Shock Festival

This hefty over sized hardcover book arrived from Amazon this week - Stephen Romano's Shock Festival is a wonderful collection of stunning fake exploitation movie posters (complete with little details like folds, tears and stains). I must admit I ordered the book thinking it was a American style Art of Nasty, but this is actually something different. Subtitled 101 of the strangest, sleaziest most outrageous movies YOU'VE NEVER SEEN, and with titles like Shark Women of Sex Island or Universe of Bloody Zombies, you'll wish these were available at Blue Underground or Code Red. Luckily, author Stephen Romano has put together a triple-disc Shock Festival DVD which contains a number of fake trailers for the posters in the book, as well as well known classic exploitation trailers. I've only dipped into my copy of the book so far, but its a beauty with its eye-popping, eye-gouging full color artwork. I'll report on the DVD as soon as it arrives in my letterbox but in the meantime, here are a few pics I took of the book earlier...

Saturday, 20 February 2010

Back to the Future with Laserdiscs !

I've been visiting eBay daily for the last few weeks, mostly looking for elusive issues of Video Watchdog, and among the weird and wonderful things I've discovered, are laserdiscs, specifically, a seller from Tokyo, who was offloading some of his Japanese lasers. More about that in a minute. Laserdiscs as film collectors will know were the missing link between VHS and DVD. It was the first format to offer a digital presentation of a film, along with special features (trailer, making-of's and commentaries), issued on a shiney 12" digital disc, and packaged like a vinyl soundtrack. Laserdiscs were a leap forward from VHS, but they were limitations - image and audio quality were not nearly as advanced as DVD, and with only so much information able to fit on one-side of a disc, lasers had to be flipped over (with longer films issued in multi-disc sets).

Last Monday, some lucky guy won an auction for a sealed Japanese laser of Cronenberg's Shivers, and what a beauty it is with its full-on gore drenched sleeve. A deal was struck when the bidding reached $41 - which was a bargain - a laserdisc price guide recommends just over $100 for this edition. Similar prices were paid for a Japanese laser of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, again with a striking sleeve...

Friday, 19 February 2010

Under the Dome

A new Stephen King novel always fills me with excitement, especially so of his latest novel, the apocalyptic Under The Dome, a one thousand page epic which promised to rival The Stand. I read the novel over Christmas and January, and I must say it was disappointing. The story concerns a small US town that becomes encased within a gigantic transparent dome, and the struggle for power that ensues within the isolated town. The problem with Under The Dome is that the book is flat. Not dull - King can still spin a yarn, but the story is so lite on horror and sci-fi, when I finished the book I felt I had waded thru a very long Twilight Zone sketch that Rod Serling could have knocked out in the early 60's (think The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street). Even a bit of necrophilia thrown in early in the novel feels a little desperate.

I've heard rumblings that the plot is close to the Simpsons Movie but I haven't seen it so I don't know. Apparently King was working on the book in the 80's under the title The Cannibals and it does feel like every bit a Stephen King novel, with a small town coming under attack by mysterious forces, and the town folk with their own dark secrets coming to the surface. Irish readers like me will get a kick out of one sequence in the book where an Aer Lingus jet (or Air Ireland, as its known in the novel) smashes right into the impenetrable wall of the dome. Finally, and I say this as a lifelong Stephen King fan, his dialogue is absolutely awful. I mean I don't know anyone from Maine, but does anyone actually talk like a character from a Stephen King novel ?