LET’S GET THE BANNED BACK TOGETHER! Ep 6: The New Adventures Of Snow White (1969)

“Grimms Marchen von lusternen Parchen


Who made it? Directed by Rolf Thiele | Written by Jacob Grimm / Wilhemlm Grimm (hardly) / Peter Laregh / Rolf Thiele | Director Of Photography Wolf Wirth | Special Effects (not credited)

Who’s in it? Marie Liljedahl | Eva Reuber-Staier | Ingrid van Bergen

If you weren’t watching this the week it came out, you might have been watching… Midnight Cowboy | True Grit | On Her Majesty’s Secret Service | Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid

Production notes and whatnot



What’s It All About?

The story, that that there is, of “The New Adventures Of Snow White,” is something of a mish-mash of a portmanteau of a fable of an episodic rambling chapter play. It brings together familiar tropes and tales from the brothers Grimm (Cinderella, poison apples, dwarves, handsome princes, lute playing folderol and lush arborial settings) and mixes it awkwardly with a cavalcade of painfully exhausting Chuckle-Brothers style knockabout gaffes and soft-focus topless Euro-porn smut.

If you require more detail than this, here we go…

We begin with our two fools. Bickering and falling over as they wend their way o’er German hill and dale like a couple of panto idiots. If you were to look up “clot” in an illustrated dictionary, it would be these two gurning twits. They act as our Greek Chorus of sorts as their mishaps and misadventures act as sort of chapter headings for each “Grimm” section.

Next up, to an odd iPod shuffle of Krauty country twang guitar and Hendrixy wah-wah meets jazz piano, we meet the first of our fairy tale heroines, putting the “tit” in “titular,” Snow White. Like almost all the women in the plot, she is running, all nubile and perky, topless through some fields. Camera gets very smudgy and soft-focus. If she was eating a Flake or washing her hair with Timotei, you wouldn’t be surprised.

Running as she is, a talking dog (honestly), a talking bear (yep) and an enchanted frog (also big on the chat) all ask if she wants to have sex. She declines and continues to lollop and gambol in soft focus.

Meanwhile (there’s a lot of “meanwhile” in this), a wicked witch or queen desires to have her killed. “Mirror mirror on the wall,” etc. dubbed over from the German into shouty Carry-On lingo. She rubs her nipples. Think Jonathan Ross’s wife Jane Goldman being extra vampy.

Dwarves suddenly appear in the forest. Seven of them. From magic toadstools in the shape of penises. Hendrix continues. Snow White’s top falls off. The Goodies seem to take over the soundtrack, having a crack at some bluegrass. Snow White shacks up with the dwarves and hangs out their tiny underpants on the line.

Meanwhile (told you) we enter a castle to find everyone splayed out, asleep (either from reading the script or from an enchanted spell, it’s not clear). They are of course all mediaevally in their garb, most of which is on the floor. They are largely nude. Our two dolts both kiss a sleeping beauty (possibly THE sleeping beauty) and she awakes! With her boobs out! And she has to marry one of the dolts, according to the king. There is an argument about some geese. The music goes all Dukes of Hazzard and we cut to the Ugly Stepsisters in a carriage. I can’t recall why. But they’ll be back towards the end when there’s some business with a slipper.

Its difficult in recollection to link a lot of what happens in these laederhosen-ladled shoutily dubbed vignettes, as plot seems to take second, third or even a fourth place to more nubile soft-focus foresty boob jiggling. But my notes tell me we are now in an obligatory cabin. Lumberjack types abound. Another nameless nubile European woman in her late teens is chased about with plenty of wobbly upskirt shots of thighs and gussets. In order, it would appear, to add some unwanted violence to the unwanted titillation, we find mutiliated and dismembered limbs strewn about the cabin. I assume this was the last girl to be caught in the cabin cocking about among the wine barrels.

We haven’t had a meanwhile in a while, so let’s have one of those. More wah-wah, more-soft focus, more silly men falling over, until we are back with the King. He has “decreed” as Kings must in such Grimm Fayre, that all the virgins in the village must congregate so his young son may choose a wife.

This is cause for maidens the town over to gather themselves in soapy water and splash about a bit, nips akimbo, to prepare for the ball. We see some 1970s pubes flash in a mirror for a moment. The Evil Queen or Wicked Witch (it’s not important) decides to cast a spell or two and our two clumsy dolts become doves. That can talk. Sleeping Beauty, now awoken, is unable to find any man to fall in love with her (or at least, have soft-focus waist-up sex). Even the bear and the dog and frog don’t fancy her much. It’s not clear why.

The doves tell Cinderella to dance about a bit in slo-mo and a magical party frock will appear. She does so. Her clothes fall off. She continues to run about waftily. A stage-hand off screen lobs a floaty cotton number at her. She is naturally aghast and enchanted.

The witch offers Snow White (we do seem, at this point, to be in about 9 fairy tales at once) an apple. Snow White eats the apple. And then very very slowly collapses. Very slowly.  As she is nude and standing on a cold rock and wants to be comfy and they haven’t got a stunt team.

The Evil Queen finds this most satisfying and legs it away, cackling. Oh, and taking her clothes off and flinging them into a hedge.

Then, for some respite from all the nipples, pale hips, doltish knockaboutery and buckly shoe business, it all gets a bit po-faced and some actual olde timey dancing happens in court. Much bowing and curtesying and fans and pomp. A flute. Maybe a tambor. And the villagers have lusty looks over velvet pantaloons.

At which point the party is over, it seems. Midnight or something. Cinderalla drops a shoe and everyone departs. It’s not clear why. Or I might have nodded off.

(by the way – if any of this is making sense, or indeed piquing your interest, or making you ponder that this might be a jolly harmless romp, you have misunderstood).

Then we rush towards the finish as the camera crew are losing light, losing film, losing money and losing most of the tired audience

The ugly sisters try and get into the slipper, as is de rugeur in this sort of sketch. And in a nod to the original Grimm story, cut each other’s toes off to jam their feet in the footwear. Much ketchup bloody and waxy fake toes.

Snow White is layeth in a clear Perspex box so she resembles just so much sushi. Pouting occurs by the Dwarves. They are not short of pouts. They are however, short.

Someone gets on a horse (by now it’s so tiring, so soft focus, so pale and wan and the sunlight fades between the autumnal fronds and the wiry pubes, it’s difficult to tell who or what. Or indeed why). But there’s some bouncy naked horse riding. Can’t be sure if they have sex on the horse. Or are just cocking about a bit. The sound track gets heavy on the wah wah.

The Prince waves a magic flower and lots of nature appears to transform. Into nude women. The 2 doves return to their natural state as 2 over-worked seaside children’s entertainers. The bear turns into the beardy man from the cover of The Joy Of Sex. The magic flower opens the box of sushi and Cinderella clambers out.

It now goes full “rolley-oh-doh” with the madrigal nonsense like very, very early Pink Floyd when they sung about goblins and pixies. Some heavy petting in a hedge.

And then it all wraps up with a hilarious comedy misunderstanding about some rocks, they burst into song and over the fields they go, into the sunset. Like that bit at the end of Indiana Jones & The Last Crusade. Except nude and giggling in German.

I think that’s it.

Is it any good?

Well who am I to judge. It’s a sex comedy. Not that it’s sexy. Or noticeably comedic. Perhaps the jokes are funnier in German. Or the boobs are sexier.

Sex comedies happened much when I did. That is to say, the nineteen seventies.

There have always been comedies and farces, be they Shakespearean, Chaucerian or Hogarthian, that rely largely on a man trying to get his end away, with hilariously disasterous results. Or lusty maidens and coy virgins and a variety of misunderstandings causing people to pop up in the wrong bed, in the wrong clothes, with the wrong partner. And we invented the word “bawdy” to cover most of these.

But it wasn’t until the 60s and the heyday of the 70s that the idea of popping along to the movies on a Friday night to catch some “cheeky” soft-core romping against the backdrop of sitcom silliness and swanee whistles really happened.

Original Cinema Quad Poster – Movie Film Posters
Original Cinema Quad Poster – Movie Film Posters

It saved the industry, some say. In the UK, as the British public began to settle in to cheaper and cheaper colour television sets to take in their daily dose of soaps, game shows, cop shoot-outs and quizzes, audiences began to stay home from their local cinemas. The flickering delights of the Roxy, the Odeon, the Gaumont and the Picture Palace lay empty on suburban Saturday nights. What was out in the rainy streets that you couldn’t get at home for free? And in the warm?

Well sex. Thanks to the BBC and the like having very strict guidelines on pre- and post-watershed content, the idea that dads could get a bit of cheeky tits and ass on television was zero. Maybe a bikini in a James Bond film? Maybe a daring cleavage on ITVs Miss World contest? But it was never going to be racier than that. The cinema however? Well, things could go a lot further. Disguised as “documentaries” or the catch-all “nature film,” much could be seen on the screen that would never been seen on the beeb. This all pre-VHS of course.

And for some reason, the silly, jokey, slap n tickly sitcom set-ups made the soft-core fumbles and bra-twanging rutting seem so much more harmless. A McGill seaside postcard rather than anything “sinister.”

So the 1970s saw an influx of these daft films. Too sexy to be funny, too silly to be sexy – falling between two stools and just ending up curios for the agitated, horny, drunk and bored.

When VHS, and un-regulated VHS at that, reared its head in the 1980s and suddenly ANYTHING was possible, the appetite for Timmy Lee’s Confessions and Eskimo Nell’s Igloo vanished.

Which leaves us with things like The New Adventures Of Snow White.

There is nothing sexy about this movie at all. It’s not porn. The woman are topless, yes. There is a little full frontal. A pale bum may wiggle. But it’s Benny Hill silly. Kenny Everett silly. Two Ronnies cheeky. Nothing raunchier, pervier, grottier or seedier than a Confessions’ movie, Keep It Up Jack or Beneath The Valley Of The Supervixens.

The jokes are none. Unless twits knocking themselves on the head, a frog asking “you ‘ad some?” or a toadstool looking slightly similar to a penis is what gets you guffawing. At one point the innocent girl tries to milk a cow. But doesn’t know how. So sucks it off instead. Sort of. Cue the bufoons scratching their heads and going cross-eyed like The Chuckle Brothers.

For reference, if you are – like me – new to this sort of motion picture and want to know what you’re missing, it’s Panto. Silly Panto. Or perhaps one of those “adult” pantos that drunk dads and darts teams go to. With Jim Davidson and Charlie Drake. You know the sort. That.

The cinematography is pure 70s slush. Over exposed and full of lens flare, the colours are sickly. Everything is shot in what one supposes is “dreamy” soft focus, but is in fact just “not in focus.”

So. Imagine renting a 4th generation VHS tape off a weird man in a pub. It’s an adult pantomime called something like “Pussy In Boots” or “Cock Whittington” or “Hansel & Genital” or something. It stars the Chuckle Brothers, Linda Lusardi, two girls from Hollyoaks and Brian Blessed. The sound is crackly. The lighting is poor. They chase women about shouting “to me! To you!! For about 90mins.

Yep. That’s about the size of it. Oo’er missus.


Nasty? Well I mean it’s lewd. In a bums and bushes sort of way. But as I say, no more than you’d get from the saucy postcard flared corduroy antics of Robin Asquith. But there is that one odd bit, where for reasons passing understanding (ratings and shock I assume) it goes all blood thirsty and rapey. Limbs being severed, knives flashing about, waxy fake arms and legs full of offal spilling out over the farmhouse table. And the ugly sisters really do give their toes a right good spurty, ketchup hacking when trying to get into the size 4s. Which is a little “uurgh!” and giggly. Close up, it’s grosser than Casualty. But so, so much less convincing as to make you wonder why they bothered. I suppose it helped, being able to describe it as having “sex and violence” when really it has neither worth the rental fee.

Ban worthy?

No. If the title might make a young parent pop it in the VCR for their toddlers to watch after Paw Patrol and Bob The Builder, then yes. Because it’s a rompy bum-filled double-entendre fest full of sex starved dwarves and horny toads. But the cover of the VHS is so painfully “cheeky” or “saucy” it might as well giggle like Babs Windsor when you open the case or blow a raspberry when you pop it out of the machine. You can’t ban something for being dumb.

What does it remind me of?

It’s a bit Dogtanian and his 3 Muskerhounds, it’s a bit Benny Hill, it’s very Flake advert, it’s got a touch of Shrek with the fairy-tale mash-up. And its as sexy as the underwear pages or shower-installation pages of a 1976 Kays Catalogue.

Where to find it?

For some reason, YouTube has it. I know. Must tell you something. Give it a whirl. Then give it a pause. Then give it a miss. As unfunny as Mr Tumble, as sexy as Are You Being Served. In German. And all done in an old fashioned way with swords and horses and magic.

Not so much Hogwarts, as Genital-Warts


LETS GET THE BANNED BACK TOGETHER! Episode 5: Love Camp 7 (1969)

“They must follow their orders, no matter what they wish…”


Who made it? Directed by Lee Frost | Written by Bob Cresse & Wes Bishop | Director Of PhotographyLee Frost | Special Effects Harry Woolman

Who’s in it? Maria Lease | Kathy Williams | Bob Cresse | Phil Poth | John Alderman | Carolyn Appleby | David F. Friedman | Bruce Kimball | Natasha Steel

If you weren’t watching this the week it came out, you might have been watching… Paint Your Wagon / Oh What A Lovely War

Production notes and whatnot



What’s it all about?

Well to be honest, summarising this motion picture effort for this blog is –and I’m going out on a (naked) limb here – probably the most writing this movie has been involved with. And I’m including the script, the receipts for Swatika flags and hiring an angry dog to bark at nude Jewish ladies.

Yep. It’s that sort of movie. So, if we must – and as I say, I watch these to stop you having to do so – here’s the “plot” of Love Camp 7.

So we start in the present day (1969) where a grey haired Britishy business man is “consummating” a deal with some American. Or just “closing” a deal, as humans say. Post contract chit-chat leads to talk of the WW2 map framed on the wall, at which point Mr Britishy Businesschap gets all misty eyed and the film is a narrated flashback (“fleshback? Ed) of his derring war “story.”

The 1940s. We’re in a bunker of some sort. Army paraphanalia from a local theatrical-prop store all about the place. Some top brass with a “Mind Your Language” school of accents are talking about a a daring rescue plot.

A scientist with some kind of plans for some kind of super rocket/jet thing has been captured. Or possible killed. It doesn’t matter which. His assistant, one Martha Grossman, has been captured and sent to a Nazi “Love Camp.” Essentially a French brothel type concentration-camp type torture chamber type barracks where tired and weary Nazi officers can take their furlough to relax and have violent whippy sadomasochistic angry slappy sex with naked female Prisoners Of War.

As you do.

Martha (not to be confused with Marcie – see below) has all the knowledge they need to build the rocket. If only they could somehow infiltrate the Love Camp and get all the details…

Cue the arrival of two female officers who have been trained to have eidetic memories and remember everything they hear and read. These two will be parachuted behind enemy lines, picked up, hopefully sent to Love Camp 7 where they can get all the info from Martha before the Allies burst in to rescue them after 3 days.

Okay, so far, so Where Eagles Dare. The bulk of what remains of the movie revolves around the women being brought to the camp, hosed down by a barky, overacting black uniformed SS-Type Commander and his troops while an Alsatian barks at their screams.

Picture Barry Kripky from the Big Bag theory. But fatter. And a peverted Nazi. And a comedy German accent.A violently abusive medical examination follows by a brusque Sapphic doctor (all naked screaming and plunging fists and wobbly cameras). In fact “Naked screaming, wobbly camera” would have been a much more fitting title for this piece of exploitative drivel.

Off to the dorm room where the other semi-naked prostitutes lounge around in open-chested boiler suits on iron bunk beds. One of the “spies” is being a bit “difficult” in the whole “let us beat and slap and violate you for kicks” game so is hung by her wrists by the ceiling. She screams and sobs a lot.

Now some Nazi guards come in like a cattle market and choose their “lovers.” Not much like a cattle market, to be honest. Unless when you get your dairy herd home you strip to the waist and rape it on an iron bed while it whimpers and twists and sobs.

One nazi (the names couldn’t be less important. Let’s call him Coburn, as he looks a little like a young James), gets all emotional and complains that he’s only doing his job. That he’s not a big fan of the slappy rapey boob-mangling humiliation that seems a prerequisite for is role. A spy thinks this is lovely of him to be so sensitive. I mean a high-ranking member of the Maser Race. But with a “soft side.” So they, of course, have proper sex. (This tender boob-noshing and gasping cut “cleverly” between as we watch the other spy get a teary assault. See what they did there? No, me neither).

Next up, Coburn goes to “Kwipky” in order to prove what a “nice” Facist he is and requests a transfer. SS Kwipky laughs this off and forces Coburn to go and work as an assistant in the gruesome “medical lab” where hard working lesbian doctors are trying to perfect sterility by pumping foam and gunk up women’s bits. Coburn is less than thrilled.

Oh I almost forgot. The spy tied to the ceiling? Remember her? She’s eventually cut down and made to crawl naked on the floor and like the Commandants boots, which she does with a lack of gusto. And then taken to a torture room to be stripped (again) and whipped.

Oh what next. And how much more of this awfulness is there?

Well the woman have all been “promoted” to see only senior officers. So they are marched tediously into another room (clearly the same set, just with some hardboard put up) where they are then assaulted and fondled by men in sharper Nazi gear. All caps and whips.

By the way, in case one was to accidentally mistake this pseudo “based on true events” harrowing “documentary” for just gratuitous “uniforms and boobs” tittiliating tripe, Mr Businesschap provides a clipped narration throughout. Like a young David Attenborough. But shit.

Where were we? Sadly still here. A tippity top Nazi SS chap then turns up for no reason, criticises SS Qwipky for his shabby treatment of his officers and promptly asks for recompemce. In the guise, natch, of 4 of the women stripping off and sort of half-heartedly lezzing up with ineffectual moans and gropes.

Meawhile (exciting isn’t it) spy number one is then left alone with…you guessed it, what are the chances, Martha Grossman! Martha spills the beans about the rocket/jet plans thing.

And then something amazing and unexpected happens! Seriously!

The YouTube channel I was watching this on (or streaming service or swastikas-and-sluts-on-demand.com site or whatever the fuck it was) suddenly had an audio problem. This was the most stimulating part of the whole tedious 96 minutes. So I was unable to hear the sparkling THX crystal clear sharpness of phrases such as “Jawohl” and “uhhhh! Ooooh!” and “you like zat you bitch?!” which was a shame. The woman who uploaded it (I assume it was a woman) just looped the audio track over so we got the last 15mins of pictures, mixed with the first 15 minutes of sound again. So there we are, watching lingerie draped waifs fake a mixture of bored and violent intercourse with some laxidasical Nazi officers in a sort of “compilation orgy best-of/Now That’s What I Call Munich” repellent romp, while we hear the title music and Mr Britishy Businessman seal his business deal again.

So I’m going to have to surmise the ending based on visuals alone.

The women plan to seduce all the generals and catch them off guard with their trousers down. At which point the allies can burst in to rescue them. And then, in some feeble “I Spit On Your Grave” justice/comeuppance, the women can despatch all the Nazis with beatings, shootings and a lovely skewering in the neck with a corkscrew. Lots of flailing and blood. Oh and boobs bouncing about.

They escape.

We cut back to the prologue where the old Brit is ending his hilarious tale of escapes, spies, intruige and violent genital violation. He leaves, gets in cab to go home. Meets up with his wife…who is one of the spies in old-age make-up. See! He married one of them! So, y’know, it sort of worked out. Except obviously this is all just revolting.

I’m going to stop now.

Is it any good?

Are we grading on a curve? Because “is it any good,” is a rather difficult question. Is it a good film, well crafted, performed, produced and displayed, demonstrating creativity and storytelling at its cinematic best? No. No it fucking isn’t.

Is it a harmlessly titillating pervy bit of soft-core boobs and whips nonsense designed to appeal to a certain type of lonely WW2 buff who has 96mins to kill and can get in a quick wank before his mum knocks on the door? Well no, it’s not really that either.

Is it a fine example of something called “Nazisploitation,” which Wikipedia calls “… a subgenre of exploitation film and sexploitation film that involves Nazis committing sex crimes, often as camp or prison overseers during World War II. Most follow the women in prison formula, only relocated to a concentration camp, extermination camp, or Nazi brothel, and with an added emphasis on sadism, gore, and degradation…”

Sigh. Yes, I suppose it is.

I was always slightly confused by films in the “exploitation” genre as a lad. Your John Waters style schlockers being tagged with this label. What was being “exploited” exactly? The cast? The crew? The audience? And when it came to genre offshoots with specific themes, such as “Blaxspolitation” and of course, “Nunspliotation” again, I was scratching my head. Is black culture being exploited to make this movie? Are nuns?

Reading a little further, it seems – and I’m sure there are ciniphiles and cineasts with their own definition – “exploitation” cinema simply exploits whatever is currently en vogue, to make some quick cash.

Take a newspaper fear, such as ASBOS and Hoodies, for example. Scaremongering stories of feral knife-weilding skate-boarding tearaways and ruffians fill the newspaper. The Daily Mail has a hysterical Op Ed about the state of the nation.

Quick thinking film makers can then, riding the wave of the cultural impact, release a movie like “Eden Lake” and cash-in on the mood of the people.

The theme, mood, class, grouping, politics or attitude you wish to “exploit” can of course be anything. Hence “Teenspolitation (Bikini Beach), Mexsploitation (Machete) and Sharksploitation (Sharknado) etc.

So who are being exploited in “Love Camp 7?” Well, it appears almost everybody. But the taboo, shock, terror, think-of-the-kiddies, hateful sadism of Nazi War Crimes and the fear of the unknown horrors of camps and doctors and evil SS maniacs is being exploited here to try and drum up some creepy, sweaty “fasctination,” I guess, for what is a rather humdrum, if toe-curlingly sadistic, beneath the counter grubby porno.

It’s incredibly cheap looking, what budget there was clearly going on renting convincing – albeit ill-fitting – Nazi uniforms. One assumes that historical accuracy is important to the porny-nazi crossover market and nothing’s going to put one off one’s stroke than a misplaced insignia or error in rank badge. Clearly all filmed in one small studio, on one sound stage, props (desks, swastika, Adoph busts, bunk beds) have been slid in and out of the one-camera set-up.

You remember Prison Cell Block H? The Australian women’s prison soap opera? Well make that on half the budget, strip all the cast down to their knickers and bung in some jackboots. That’s what we have here.

The acting and whatnot are as piss poor as you might imagine. Stilted, shouty, camp, dumb and over the top. Think Confessions Of A Window Cleaner meets Allo Allo on the set of Emanuelle.

The film has nothing whatsoever going for it. The Nazis are unconvincing, the sex is grubby, nasty, violent and unpleasant, the gore (in the final shoot out) just ketchup and reaction shots. A Maguffin of a “spy plot” cobbled together to string a load of slapping, fondling, crying and “Heil Hitler-ing” to make a nasty little piece of crap seem 2% more “taboo.”


Fuck. yes. I mean there’s all sorts of porn in the world. Apparently. Hard, soft, presumably something in the middle. Black, Latino, dwarves, POV, teen, bondage, threesomes, fetish… You name it. It’s difficult to imagine a word you could hyphenate with “-porn” and not get somekind of dark-web hit. “Animal-porn?” Probably millions of hits. “Bus-Driver-Porn”? Probably just as many. “Hassidic-Porn?” Uhm…well, I’ll trust you to check that out.

So it stands to reason that if you find some folk who like one thing (steam-trains, tuppaware, horse-brasses) and drape some boobs over the top, you have a niche bit of VHS to sell. What’s disturbing of course, is that films like these have added nudity and sex to “Nazism, violence, butchery, degredation, torture, rape and humiliation.” So our target market here is a viewer who’s either seen Confessions Of A Driving Instructor but was disappointed that Timmy Lee didn’t tie any of the buxom wives to an iron bed and whip them til they screamed. Or people who’ve watched The World At War and thought it could have done with a few more tits.

Or Prince William.

People like this exist and the Nazisploitation market blossomed from the 70s until it dies out around the mid eighties.

I assume no animals or people were harmed during the making of this motion picture. But what it says about the viewer’s tastes could lead to some troubling psychotherapy sessions.

Ban worthy?

Would banning it help? I mean I feel about this stuff like I do about many niche interests. Make it very very hard to find by accident. Make it viewable at a cost for adults on some kind of subscription set up. Get it off the shelves of WHSmith certainly. Will folk who “get-off” on this stuff resort to recreations, violent re-enactments and rape if they can’t find this sort of 2D outlet for their lusts? I don’t know. But for Chrissakes if you have to make this stuff, make it better. It may be politically appalling, the worst taste and unforgiveably exploitative. But then cinema often is. You could at least write in some jokes and light the damned set properly.

What does it remind me of?

As I said, Prisoner Cell Block H meets Confessions of a Gestapo Cleaner vs Allo Allo. Shot over a weekend by some amateur dramatic wannabes who’ve got pissed on Liebfraumilch.

Where to find it?

Must you? Oh well. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Youtube has it I think. Protected under age restrictions. And…

Actually…no. Find it yourself. Christ the last thing I need right now is accusations of nazi-porn distribution. Will no-one think of the children?


Next up? Let’s see…

Oh ffs…

LETS GET THE BANNED BACK TOGETHER! Ep. 4 Tomb Of The Living Dead (aka The Mad Doctor of Blood Island) – 1969

““We thought it was one of the worst things we ever did… I can’t account for it.”


Who made it? Directed by Eddie Romero  & Gerry DeLeon | Written by Reuben Canoy| Director Of Photography Justo Paulino| Special Effects “Not recorded”

Who’s in it? John Ashley | Angelique Pettyjohn | Eddie Garcia | Ronald Remy

If you weren’t watching this the week it came out, you might have been watching… Easy Rider / Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed / Oliver / The Longest Day

Production notes and whatnot



What’s it all about?

Well it starts with a warning. Classic William Castle style gimmick. (see John Goodman in “Matinee” for a sense of the silliness of these tingle-o-vision gimmicks).

Viewers and cinema goers are asked to imbibe a green liquid and chant the initiation rites oath of Green Blood, which will protect them. (Green liquid available in the foyer next to the Butterkist and Kia Ora, I assume).

Then we’re straight in to a sudden murder on a tropical island. Not clear who or what and no idea why. A small glimpse of a human-ish creature is all we get. A ship arrives at what we discover is Blood Island where a mixed group of seafarers are all here with their own motives: family reunions, research, the usual. One looks to meet her father, another to get their mother home. The ship’s captain warns the new arrivals of a curse, green-blooded men escaping into the sea.

Now pretty much trapped on the island until the boat returns for them, the travellers meet the suspicious Dr Lorca, (imagine Dr Moreau being played by a fat Cuban cocaine dealer) who refuses to give too many details on why the inhabitants refuse to leave or what caused the death of one of the islanders. But an eerie atmosphere invades the jungle, and there is much tribal whispering.

We discover the woman’s father is an alcoholic who is virtally bedridden by drink. Evidence comes to light that son’s mother refuses to leave since the death of her husband, Ramon. However investigation reveals upon opening his coffin, no body to be found. Perhaps there is more to Ramons’s death than meets the eye?

Meanwhile the island is stalked by the monster from the opening scene. Green skinned but humanoid, there are random violent attacks on tribes-people in the jungle throughout.

After a number of chases, deaths and puzzles it is revealed Dr Lorca has been conducting experiments on the island, working on a cancer treatment based on chlorophyll. A victim of one of these experiments is Ramon, who has transformed into the green-blooded beast that terrorises the island.  

In the final confrontation with the monster, folk are killed but the monster briefly is redeemed when it recalls its humanity. A fire in the laboratory lays waste to the evidence of the weird experiments as the few survivors depart on the ship. Although are they alone..?

Is it any good?

Hahahahaha. No. This was a treat for none of the reasons it should be. First of all, I found a copy free on YouTube (which is helpful, because the last damned thing I want is to spend a fortune collating knock-off DVDs to put in the bin after a £9.99 plus shipping). But then not a great sign, as movie available free on YouTube do tend to have a “fuck it, watch the damned thing, I don’t give a shit” attitude from the producers. Which tends not to happen with classics.

But I found the movie under the title “Tomb Of The Lving Dead (1969) hosted by Elvira Mistress of the Dark (full horror movie).

S0 let’s talk about this, as it’s a darn sight more entertaining than the messy, unwatchable, zoomy silly, underlit drivel that is Tomb Of The Living Dead.

Elvira I had heard of. Mainly, to be honest, as a plastic clip-together figurine one might find in a toy or model-shop. There was a spate of these in, I think, the 70s. Made by Aurora and advertised in the back of horror comics and annuals. Wolfmen, Dracula etc.

All Hammer favourites for you to build and paint to decorate your bedroom and stop girls coming to visit. In my head (I’ll check now) there was one of a very vampy, voluptuous, bee-hived vixeny maiden called Elvira. Or was that a “Mobius” model? Rings a bell. Let me see.

Ah yes. Here you go. These sorts of delights always appealed to a young me. I never got one. But this is who I knew Elvira as. Just a sort of sexy Morticia Adams type. It turns out Elvira was a US late night cable TV host who would “introduce” late night monster movies with sarcastic, cheeky, valley-girl sass as she lounged on a chaise barely visible over her teutonic cleavage. For many, she was the face of late-night-tv and the face of horror movies.

This version, with the intros and – it turns out – interruptions for cheap puns and hoary old gags at the movie’s expense – is the one on YouTube. So it was this version I “enjoyed.”

Oh who am I kidding. There is nothing realty to enjoy about this early slasher/splatter. Or very little at least.

The opening gimmicky “drink the potion” warning is fun. And apparently was, in limited cinemas, distributed to patrons as a sickly drink. The titles are the first I’ve seen to actually be in that “drippy blood” font, which fans of the Young Ones will recognise from their horror episode “Nasty.”

Our two heroes on the boat – destined of course to fall in love – are played with hammy gusto by actors who resemble the love child of Shakin’ Stevens and Hawaii 5’0s Jack Lord. plus a young Yootha Joyce-a-like.

However it’s the production, once again, that makes it almost unwatchable. The lighting of the sets is blindingly harsh, making the dark shadowy scenes pretty much a pure black screen. The odd flash of colour or light, but endless chases and confrontations, murders and fights take place in almost glaring white or ink black. Among the leaves and fronds of the jungle, or the corners and shadows of laboratories, it’s almost impossible to see what’s going on.

This helps a bit, of course, when one is trying to save money on effects. The monster, when finally revealed, is an odd looking fucker. Clearly the “man in a boiler suit” type, the face and head are such a mess of prosthetics, what looks like a leather gimp mask and who knows what as a hairstyle, the creature – all flailing arms and growling – belongs more happily in the Cantina on Tatooine, chatting with Obi Wan Kenobi and Chewbacca about Kessel runs.

The other aspect of the production and cinematography which had me squinting and clutching my temples is the murder “effect.” Director of photography Justo Paulino had either fought and lost a battle with the director and was forced to employ an absurd, vertigo inducing woozy camera effect every-time the monster made a kill. Or he’s just discovered a new “zoom in/zoom out” button on his camera and wanted to get his money’s worth. But the camera whips in and out and in and out by an inch like a lusty teenager after too much Diamond White, making the viewer positively air-sick.

The score is impossibly thundering and camp, like having someone shout “dun dUN DAAAHHH!” in your face every fifteen seconds. Strings and brass going full bonkers at every opportunity to suggest thrills that simply aren’t there.

Oh and there are no living dead. Clearly a title conjoured up to take advanteg of George A Romero’s hit, plus a director with the surname was bound to have punters queuing up for what they thought might be a part-two chiller, only to find a limping, lame, noisy mess of an unwatchable clunker with the contrast turned up to eleven.


I mean not pleasant. Not pleasant at all. But certainly not stomach-churning, or “turn away” shocking. The effects are the usual cheap standby of “film a flailing limb or sweeping knife. The film a screaming face. Then the angry face of the killer. Then zoom in on a close up of fake-looking bones and blood and gizzard bits in a pile of bright blood lying strewn on the jungle floor.”]

It’s all “before” shots and “after” shots, when true gore fans are hungry for the “during.” There are no “during” shots.

Ban worthy?

Tasteless, in its relentless staking and picking off. You could ban it for being boring, but that’s not a crime. A case of “ban it because it “looks” nasty and “sounds” nasty,” but honestly, it’s campy gore that would look unconvincing in an episode of Buffy.

What does it remind me of?

Nothing really sticks out. It has the aesthetic of the other cheapies we’ve seen so far, (Blood Feast /Blood Rites) and we will be back in the jungle soon enough when we hit the zombies of the eighties. But honestly, I spend so much time tipping and dipping the laptop screen to try and get the glare off to see what the hell was going on, I didn’t have the time or interest to engage enough.

Where to find it?

It’s here on YouTube for free! Featuring Elvira and her sarky inerruptions.

LETS GET THE BANNED BACK TOGETHER! EP. 3 Night Of The Living Dead (1968)

“If you want to see what turns a B movie into a classic … don’t miss Night of the Living Dead. It is unthinkable for anyone seriously interested in horror movies not to see it.”


Who made it?

Directed by George Romero | Written by George Romero & John Russo | Director Of Photography George Romero | Special Effects Marilyn Eastman and Karl Hardman

Who’s in it?

Duane Jones | Judith O’Dea | Marilyn Eastman | Karl Hardman | Judith Ridley | Keith Wayne

If you weren’t watching this, you might have been watching…

Bullit / The Odd Couple / Hang ‘Em High

Production notes and whatnot



What’s it all about?

A brother and sister arrive in a southern cemetery to put flowers on their father’s grave. Attacked by a lumbering stranger, the brother is killed by a blow to the head. Terrified, his sister makes her escape and hides out in a farmhouse. Hysterical, she is joined one by one by other townsfolk who are in hiding from what appear to be the living dead. Surrounded by flesh-eating zombies who relentlessly attack the house, hungry for food, they barricade themselves in as best they can, using guns and flaming torches to keep the horrors at bay. Radio and television tells them a probe from Venus has returned to earth but was destroyed due to a dangerous level of unknown radiation. The radiation has appeared to have awaken the recently deceased who are now attacking the feeding on their victims.

The farmhouse characters are plagued with distrust, arguments, paranoia and rage as they fight and struggle over the best way to protect themselves. A young black man takes control, squabbling and yelling with an older family man who has his own ideas of survival and failed methods of escape. Finally the house is overrun by zombies and the body count begins to rise. Finally the National Guard and local police descend on the house to wipe out remaining zombies with tragic results.

Is it any good?

Now we’re talking. Seriously. This, THIS is what it’s all about.

I believe it was movie legend Roger Corman (House Of Usher, Pit & The Pendulum, Little Shop Of Horrors) would always give the same advice to new filmmakers. In order to learn the trade, the techniques, the tips and the tricks of getting a movie made, make a low budget horror. Take a group of people, trap them somewhere remote, and then kill them off one by one. I’m paraphrasing. But this was the advice. A low-budget horror is simple to write, easy to direct, you can get friends to be in it, you only need 1 camera and 1 location and you can learn how it all gets done.

Now this is good advice. Just ask Amy Holden Jones, Tom Holland or Clive Barker who’s first features The Slumber Party Massacre; Fright Night and Hellraiser did precisely that.

Or hell, why not ask the always chatty Quentin Tarantino, who did exactly the same single-location pick-em-off cheapie with a crime bent with his debut Reservoir Dogs.

This trope has always been terrific horror-fodder. Be it a haunted cabin (The Evil Dead), an Artic Research Centre (The Thing) or a distant space-cargo ship (Alien), a boat (Jaws); there’s nothing quite a simple – or as satisfying – as a mixed group of characters (the hero, the coward, the bombshell, the nerd, the joker) and locking them somewhere for a killer/robot/alien/zombie/vampire/whatever to terrorise them all night.

When George A Romero decided to set aside his advertising job and shake things up (his career, and ultimately the world) embarking on his 1968 zombie horror movie (initially planned as a comedy), he could not have possible known the impact it would have. Shot with investors’ money who were contacted and hyped up and offered a slice of the profits, Romero and his new production company gathered $114,000. There was an appetite for “bizarre” cinema and enough doctors and dentist with savings who fancied a credit, maybe an acting part and a slice of the burgeoning cheapie-horror genre.

And armed with cast, crew, cameras, cars and an old Pennsylvanian farm-house he and his team set up shop and created what Paul McCullough of Take One calculated to be “most profitable horror film ever … produced outside the walls of a major studio”

Within ten years the $114k outlay had created between $12 and $15 million at the U.S. box office. Dubbed or subtitled into more than 25 languages and released across Europe, Canada and Australia, Night of the Living Dead grossed $30 million internationally.

Why? Because George Romero, with no more experience, equipment or budget than most amateurs at the time, simply had created a script as tight as a drum, gathered a cast who could play tension, suspense, horror, fear and violence with earnest, straight-faced honesty. He knew (as Spielberg proved with his giant shark a decade later and Ridley Scott demonstrated with his illusive Alien) that keeping the monsters off screen and filming reactions, noises, bangs, screams with merely the glimpse of a creature meant the audience would fill in the blanks.

It wasn’t my first viewing of this, when I set it up with headphones and a laptop on a pub table on Tuesday night. I had 2 hrs to kill before delivering a pub-quiz in my home town of Kingston, so with a pint of Naked Ladies bitter, some caramel cashews and a slowly emptying packet of Camel Blue cigarettes, I snuggled in to enjoy the tension and thrills.

It has everything, to be honest. Easy to criticise as relying on “corny tropes,” one has to keep in mind that many of the shock and thrill techniques we are now all too familiar with, were being tried and tested for the first time on Romero’s set.

The screaming hysterical single woman on the empty road, running and crying as she is chased would later be borrowed for The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Rescuers being attacked as they are mistaken for the monsters. Creepy tinkly child-like music box playing eerily against the tense silence would later become “one two…Freddie’s coming for you…”

Romero also knew to steal and borrow from the best. There are touches of Hitchcock’s Psycho in the DNA of Night Of The Living Dead, with its dumb-staring stuffed taxidermy looming like woodland witnesses from the walls. The incredible photography that creates death-dark shadows and blinding moonlight as characters shift from dark to light, from yin to yang, from heroics to hysteria and moral righteousness to moral cowardice.

Tone wise it’s about as far from the thundering giallo red drenched tropical zombie movies til now. Shot in black and white (to keep costs down) it has the Pathe Newsreel on-the-spot broadcast quality that adds a touch of “foundy footagey” documentary feel. This is ably assisted as I said by a cast who are playing it dead straight.

Docu’ style mounts as we have – which is all too rarely seen – smart people making smart decisions as the creatures begin to pound and punch the flimsy barricades. This is not a movie of silly risk taking, wandering around in fraternity underwear, exploring the spooky basements, running into the woods or dumb-ass slasher decisions. The cast do what we would do. Abandon a broken car, lock doors, try phone, stay low, hide in basements, try and get news from radios and televisions. Smart people in a terrifying situation, just as it should be.

The tension s what grabs and shocks. It’s far from a “gore fest.” (see below).

In fact tonally, and attitude, the nearest movie I can think of that has the tense, sweaty, shouty, panicky claustrophobia of Night Of The Living Dead is not a horror movie at all. One could easily enjoy comparing and contrasting this movie with the single-room legal thriller “12 Angry Men.”

In fact if the 12 Angry Men, all shirtsleeves and desk fans and humid macho bickering, was about a dozen guys arguing how to keep zombies out, then you’d have Night Of The Living Dead.

A fucking masterpiece, astonishingly early, astonishingly accomplished. Knife edge and shocking with jumps, shocks and shudders throughout. Horror kept going, but it very rarely got better than this early classic.

Oh and the ending? Well. If you thought the ending of Darabont’s “the Mist” or “Wolf Creek” left you feeling hopeless? Brace yourself for this one.


Scary, yes. The pounding and the drooling and the slavering and moaning and groaning of the stumbling zombies, all pale moonlight skin, moth eaten clothes and scarred faces all are enough to give sick panic of approaching dread. But if we’re talking “nastiness,” which of course will be bloody, vicious, gratuitous, spurty, gloopy, rapey, screamy helpless stalk and slashing? Nope. Nothing like that.

Well…not nothing. The zombies have a touch of the rot and scars that are gruesome. There is a bloody skull at the top of the stairs, but nothing you couldn’t get in a joke shop or Halloween costumer. It’s the entrails and grue that the living dead devour and much and drip like a KFC bargain bucket that might be the “ewwww!” for some. But to be fair, given the beautiful silvery black and white photography, the chocolate sauce Marilyn Eastman deployed for blood and bleached out bones don’t resemble anything more gory than a Walls Vienetta.

Ban worthy?

I mean come off it. Is it suitable for young people? I mean toddlers and teens? Probably not. But then that’s also true of a Swiss Army knife, a carrier bag, a cheese grater or a smart phone. No, I wouldn’t put it on at a kid’s party for 8 year olds. But then I wouldn’t put on Citizen Kane either. Nothing corrupting or disturbing in a single frame.

What does it remind me of?

As I said it’s got a touch of Psycho, a touch of The Birds. But the “trapped and hunted” strangers is such now a well-worn trope that it rings bells with Assault On Precinct Thirteen, Halloween, Die Hard and every zombie movie from Sean Of the Dead to Scooby Doo.

Where to find it?

Hooray! Due to a snafu with copyright licensing with reissues and whatnot, the legal wrangling has slipped and allowed the whole movie fall in to Public Domain. So YouTube will give you a fine version here! Enjoy!

LETS GET THE BANNED BACK TOGETHER! Appendix a. Paying in blood – aka “Freaks-o-nomics” – an essay on the cost of doing bloody business

“Everybody wants money. That’s why it’s called ‘Money'”

HEIST (2001)

Hello. We’re taking a short break before I set up my TV and nestle in with a cuppa , some TUC biscuits, a notepad and George Romero’s 1968 black and white horror zombie cheapie classic Night Of The Living Dead. For a number of reasons.

First up, this movie is one that needs a little respect. Out of the 166 movies on the coming list, some fall firmly into the (summer) camp, marked “drivel.” Only notorious or even discussed because of their banning or reputation, without the Mary Whitehouse Experience, they would have vanished into nothing. Crumbled and faded and discarded into the trash-bag of pulpy nonsense. We’ll be visiting them, of course (I am nothing if not thorough, as no-one who has ever slept with me has ever said). But they are, like reading Chekov, a “tick-box exercise. (That’s a very clever Russian Literature pun. I hope you enjoyed it. Check Off. See what I nearly did there).

Others however are destined to live on forever as some kind of benchmark. Maybe the camera work (Evil Dead), maybe the shock-value (Cannibal Holocaust), maybe the ground-breaking genre invention (Friday The 13th) and so on. Night Of The Living Dead is one of these. I’ll watch it (not for the first time) in a bit and we can have some fun discussing why it is heralded the way it is.

Oh forgive my tone by the way. There are certain tropes in movie writing that the best reviewers and critics can side-step from time to time. However the art (if an art it is) of film criticism comes with its own clichés. Words like sweeping, epic, masterful, visual-feast, “doth-not-an-epic-make”, scenery-chewing and “not without flaws” are bread and marmite to the movie writer. We do our best not to employ them. But nobody, as someone once told Tony Curtis, is perfect.

I want to discuss the idea of “cheap” or “low budget” when it comes to film making. Because it’s a phrase that’s wafted about cack-handledly often enough. As if it explains everything. Or forgives everything. Or allows everything.

Listen. When we watch “Bay Of Blood” or “The Ghastly Ones” is very, very easy to wave away their faults and flaws and lighting and clunky dialogue with a “well it’s a low budget” picture. As if that’s all right then.

The fact is, shut up. C’mon, you don’t know much, if anything, about what movies cost. You don’t. You’ve read headlines. You’ve seen promo claims. Million dollar this, hundred million dollar that. But be honest, it’s almost impossible to understand the amount of cash that needs to change hands to get even the worst 90 mins of transparency flickering up on a public screen with audible sound and recognisable colour.

To help understand what we’re talking about, I’m going to share some reading I have done on this. Not much. In fact, one book. But it’s a good one. A very good one. It’s by a journalist you may have, but unlikely to have, heard of. It’s by Joe Queenan.

Joe Queenan is a grumpy American journo’ hailing from Tarrytown in New York. He has made his name and his fortune writing on every subject under the sun for every newspaper, periodical and magazine you can think of. He is best known, I believe, for his movie writing. He is a “take no prisoners” scathing, sarky, high-bar holding critic who has pulled to pieces blockbusters, art house flicks, comedies, horrors, dramas, actors and directors over his career.

The book of his I reference here is called “The Unkindest Cut” and I could not recommend this more highly for ANYONE remotely interested in the practise of film-making. The premise of the joyful romp through amateur movie-making is to put to bed the preposterous claims made by “guerrilla film maker and media darling” Robert Rodgriguez who burst onto the scene with his, ahem, “low budget” western El Mariachi in 1992.

The reason Rodriguez was so hailed was he claimed to have made this movie for $7,000. Now this was the nineties, so for inflation, we’re looking at a claim that people queued at their multiplex and payed their $5 and sat and watched a film that went from script to screen for the cost of what would now be $13,000.

Now this claim had many a person re-mortgage their house, take out a dozen credit cards, sell their prize possessions and come to Hollywood thinking the same. If he can do it, I can do it.

Joe Queenan’s book is a hilarious attempt to debunk this myth. As Joe decides to – with as little money possible, using local friends and free locations and rented equipment – make his own short movie for the same amount. Hilarity, chaos, arguments, over-spends, spiralling costs and nature all appear as Joe’s cheapie attempts to get his crime comedy “12 Steps TO Death” onto, if not a big screen, but at least some screen or other. For the same amount of money.

In a word, a-hahahahahahaha.

Spoiler alert, you CAN’T make a watchable film for $13k. You CAN’T. At least, not then. (the book was published in 1996. Nowadays? With digital and phones and laptop editing? Sure. Maybe. But in the nineties? Never. In the eighties? Nope. In the seventies? You can fuck right off. And the 60’s? Hahahahahahahahaha etc.

So why not? Where is the cost? Why are films so damned pricey to make? Get a camera, get some film, write a story, ask some friends to learn some lines, spend a weekend getting it shot. Stick a microphone on the end of a broom and hold it over their heads. Take the film to Boots (showing my age now). Come home with a reel. Pop into the Odeon and ask them to spool it into the machine. Badabing.  What’s the biggie?

Well we’ll discuss this now. Because as we enter into film 3 on my 166 film list, I’m going to need you to understand that “good” is “expensive.” It’s that simple, as Jack Nicholson once said. Are we clear? Are we CLEAR?!

Good (by which I mean remotely watchable) is FUCKING EXPENSIVE.

Sidebar. Quick fact. A big movie. I mean a HUGE movie. A worldwide tent-pole franchise of a glossy SFX blockbuster (eg, Avengers Endgame) has 10,000 people in the credits. Yep. Ten Thousand names. To produce an extravaganza of dazzling Marvel Franchise Blockbuster amazingness, 10,000 people were hired to do some work. Not all big budget actors. Infact very few of the 10,000 appeared on screen. Only 32 actually. 32 people were in front of the camera. Leaving 9,968 folk behind the camera doing their best to make the movie event of 2019’s biggest hit.

So let’s imagine they all did 6 months work. Each. Just 6 months. I mean the movie was in production for YEARS. But for the sake of simplicity, let’s say everyone turned up to the studio to do their editing, carpentry, painting, lighting, make-up, programming, sewing, pyrotechnics, sound and everything else for just 6 months. And then let’s put them all on minimum wage. I mean these people are NOT on minimum wage. But for the sake of the exercise, let’s put them on the now USA minimum wage. Which is $7.25 per hour.

$7.25 x 8hrs x 5 days a week x 20 weeks x 10,000 people = any idea?

Well I’ll tell you. Paycheques for Avengers Assemble would have been $58m dollars. FIFTY EIGHT MILLION DOLLARS. And that’s just wages. Without spending ANY MONEY at all on ANYTHING, your budget is already absurd. To earn this amount yourself, on a £20,000 a year job, would take 2000 years work.

Now. These people need feeding. Catering carts. Travel. Lunch. Coffee. $10 a day each? That’s another TEN MILLION DOLLARS.

Now okay okay okay, I’m talking big movies here. Very few motion pictures have the epic scale or the 3hr 2m runtime. But regrettably, or perhaps not, it is this kind of gloss and quality and sparkling sharpness and slick digital effects and lush look that now passes for “ordinary cinema.” This is what movies are now “supposed” to look like. Hey, even I have been guilty of watching a movie like, say, Spider-Man III (on a budget of $250m) and whined that “it looks a bit cheap.” I am an idiot. A spoiled little tantrummy idiot.

Okay. So let’s bring it back. The shlocky gruesome splattery bloody nasty grimness of Night Of The Living Dead, Friday The 13th, Bay Of Blood, Driller Killer are NOT comparable to Avengers Endgame. Obviously.

The budget of the 1981 classic The Evil Dead for example, was a reported $375,000. In today’s money, about $800k. Or the price of this house in London:

Or this house in Dorset. For fuck’s sake…

This amount of money would have paid for 0.26 minutes of the Avengers. Seriously. A movie with a cost of $208,333 a minute. 30 seconds. THIRTY SECONDS of the Avengers Endgame is enough money to make The Evil Dead.


Why do movies cost so much? Well that brings us nicely back to Joe Queenan and his honest attempt to try and make a 90 min movie, in his home town, with borrows locations, borrowed costumes, free “actors” and a whole bargain-bucket worth of goodwill. Based on Rodriguez’s claim, he figured it could be done for $30,000. And promptly put that amount on his credit card and went forth. An example of some of the “unexpected” costs that befell him. (This doesn’t happen to the TickTock generation with their iPhones and YouTube uploads).

Do you have a camera? Want to rent one? Plus a camera operator? And just one? And a sound man? Here’s some of today;s numbers. And this is just the staff. Not the kit…

Swing Day Rate: $385 to $435

Camera Operator Day Rate: $285 to $535

Digital Image Technician Day Rate: $535 to $785

Gaffer/Key Grip Day Rate: $535 to $635

Director of Photography Day Rate: $1,035 to $2,535 

Grip/Electric Day Rate: $435 to $535

Sound Recordist Day Rate: $335-$735

Do you have quality film stock? Need to buy some? Here’s some costing for you:

“A good estimate for a 90 minute movie shot on Super 16 at a 4-1 ratio would be $8,865.00 for film stock if you pay $197 per roll from Kodak.”

By the way, you can’t show that film. It needs to be processed and transferred to the right format.

Oh and while we’re about it…

Development or Scripting:

As the name suggests, the filmmaking cost begins with a script. If you are looking at adaptations or buying scripts, these costs add up here. Usually, the development charge is approximately 5% – 10% of the total expense. It includes the licensing, hiring of the leading casts, producers, and the director.


While making the film, the production stage eats into the significant chunk of the budgeting pie. Whether it be the salaries of the crew, the equipment, shooting logistics, hiring services, buying insurance, or food, production covers it all. It is the most significant chunk of the film’s cost. It is estimated somewhere between 35-40% of the full cost

Post – Production:

Nowadays, post-production plays a critical role in bringing down the costly production by putting colored screens behind the actor. Those backgrounds are created under the special or visual effects category. The post has become expensive, but it saves a lot of money as a whole. Post-production also includes editing, sound, music, and printing costs. Estimation is about 10 to 15% of the total cost.

Marketing & Distribution:

Marketing and distribution is key to a low budget indie. It needs a lot of dollars to market a film. In today’s estimate, producers spend around 30% of the total cost towards marketing and distributing the film. Many consider not to include this cost in the total cost of production. But imagine if the movie grosses $500000 in profits and the marketing and distribution cost were the same. So in actuals, it just breaks even. The whole economics of moviemaking changes if the cost is not taken into account.”

And on and on and on…

The fact is, Joe Queenan’s little short film (sadly not available on YouTube) that was under-lit, lots of bad-takes, fluffed lines, wobbly shots, wigs and stand-ins and was largely comically unwatchable, ended up costing him $60,000. Because, and I believe I mentioned this, film-making is FUCKING EXPENSIVE.

Okay. So that’s why films without major budgets, studio backing and crew running into the millions of dollars worth tend to have the giveaway signs of cost-cutting. Dull lighting, wobbly cameras, odd focus pulling, iffy make-up, cheapy thrift-store costumes, one-take shots of performances, fluffed lines, hurried shooting. If you;ve ever tried to film your friends on your phone in a way that wasn;t silly and shaky and didn’t need re-doing, then you’ll know what a horrible labour getting a film shot is.

And anyone who’s ever said “do another one,” after a photo or video at a party or wedding (when doing another one is £1000 a second, will understand why sometimes one-take is enough.

Watch “Bay Of Blood” again. They’re doing what they can.

Which brings me to my more interesting point. Performances. Acting. Line reading. Being on screen.

Now. There is an argument here, and a well worn one, that it’s things like scripts and acting that surely have no cost. You know what I mean. Standing infront of a camera, waiting for some clapper loader to yell “aaaaaaand, action!” and then saying the words you’ve learned, doesn’t cost any money.

You know what I mean. Technically. Talk is cheap. Talking is free. It costs no electricity, gas, programming, RAM, lighting. It’s just humans doing that jaw-jaw yacking thing.

So why should “budget” or “cost” have any impact on whether the acting is good?

It’s a fair point. I mean, it’s nonsense. But it’s fair nonsense. Let’s dig in…

Hugh Laurie wrote a marvellous comic spy thriller back in 1996. A gloriously sarcastic boys-own Robert Ludlum-meets-PG Wodehouse romp of girls and guns and conspiracies and exotic locales and derring do. I cannot recommend it highly enough. Jeeves meets James Bond. Jeeves Bond, if you will.

I have many copies of this book and continue to recommend and push it on friends and colleagues as a great beach read.

Anyhoo, why are we talking about British comedy actors’ novels.

There is a scene in the book that has stayed with me for 25 years. The hero, Thomas Lang, is facing a classic brassy femme fetale and she’s spinning him some bad-luck story. Im going to paraphrase, but the dialogue goes a bt like this:

“Sarah, do you know who Meg Ryan is,” I interrupted.

Sarah nodded.

“Well Meg Ryan gets paid millions of dollars a movie to do what you’re trying to do now. To pretend. It’s a very very difficult thing to do, especially up close. And there are only about a half dozen people who could do it convincingly at this range. Tell me the truth.”

Something like that. Apologies to lovely Hugh for mangling his words. But you get the idea.

This idea, of how staggeringly difficult it is to be “convincing” up-close, has lingered. Mainly because it’s a great tense scene. But also, and perhaps more obviously, because it’s true.

Acting is hard. To act well, and I mean really well. To be able to say words that aren’t yours in make-up that feels weird under lights that are too bright infront of people you don’t know in a cavernous room you’ve never been in while being watched by 20-30 people who know, just as you do, that it’s costing $208,000 a minute to film you.

There are probably, like legendary sports stars, only about a dozen people who can do it. And do it over and over again, in character after character, year after year, take after take. On a screen 100ft wide. Every single one completely mesmerising, captivating, gripping, believable and extraordinary. It’s impossible. Honestly. And if you’ve seen TV Dramas or stagey theatre or Soap Operas, you’ll have seen talented people “have a go.” But it’ll be “actory.” Or “stagey.” Or “wooden.” Or “phoney.” Or all the other cruel words we come up with to criticise people who are trying their best to do the impossible.

Point is, if you can do it? And do it well? You can charge the fucking earth.

A quick google search on actor earnings. Will Smith, $40million. Jennifer Lawrence $25million. They’ve given RobertPattinson $3million to play Batman. They’ve given Keanu Reeves $13million for the 4th Matrix movie. Nobody WANTS to spend this much. But actors’ ability to keep us coming back, film after film, sequel after sequel, to watch them 100ft high in painful close-up pretending to be other people and buying every damned second of it? If you are one of the few lucky enough to have this gift, this look and this opportunity? The world is yours.

Or in other words, of COURSE acting in cheaper movies is bad. Of course it is. Good actors are expensive. And they get other work. They won’t work in bad conditions for low wages and long hours in poor productions with no hope of making profit or making an impact. If you;ve got, as the makers of the Evil Dead did, only $375,000 and Director Of Photography cost $2500 a DAY? Well you ain;t bothering Meryl Streep ($15m per movie) or Brad Pitt ($20m per movie) with your jiffy bag full of script.

So. What have we learned.

Well watching these horror movies is going to take some…what? Consideration? Forgiveness? Allowances? All of the above. If one starts up every cheapie slasher or cannibal craving craziness and start kvetching about production values, scenery, lighting, focus, one-take fumbles and shoddy effects, I think one has to pause. Comparing “modern” multi-million dollar productions of the last 20 years that spend more on their catering budget than Dario Argento, Sam Raimi, Tobe Hooper or Wes Craven had to write, cast, shoot, produce, market and distribute their entire picture? It’s not even apple and oranges. It’s apples and…pips. Apples and…shit. Apples and…a bit of dust in a ball you found under the bed when you were reaching for your slippers.

If you can’t cope with the change of aesthetic? No problem. If you have taste buds and likings for the modern movie and just have no damned PATIENCE for the slow, the lumbering, the out of focus, the badly written, the hastily shot, the cheaply lit? Then god bless you. Go forth. The world has plenty of delights to await. Don’t mind us.

Oh, and anyone judging these people? Oh you can piss off. Taste is taste. Life is short. Watch what makes you happy, what makes you laugh, what makes you weep or whimper or wail. No-one is impressed with your snooty film-snobbery. You happen to like those movies, just as some people like Marmite. It doesn’t make you smart or wise or clever or educated. Some people enjoy the cheapy clunk, others find it irritating. Live and let live.

Unless you’re a Video Nasty. Then letting people live is the last of your aims…


“The only horror film where the aspects of the film-making are far more frightening than the slayings themselves”


Who made it? Directed by Andy Milligan | Written by Andy Milligan & Hal Sherwood | Director Of Photography Andy Milligan | Special Effects

Who’s in it? Veronica Radburn | Maggie Rogers | Hal Borske | Anne Linden | Fib LaBlaque | Carol Vogel

If you weren’t watching this, you might have been watching… Rosemary’s Baby / 2001:  A Space Odessy / The Thomas Crown Affair

What’s it all about?

So here we go. Next up, I spent about half an hour on Sunday typing “Blood Rites” into various search engines. Does ANYONE still say “search engine?” It’s right up there with Information Superhighway. But I digress. I tried Google and Bing and even asked Jeeves at one point, trying to see if this movie was available online. It seemed not to be. At least not in a legitimate “pay us £3 and you can see it” way. No Netflix, Amazon, NOW, iPlayer, ITunes or YouTube.

But then there is was, nestling in the search results. Under the title “The Ghastly Ones 1968 (watch full movie)”

So I clicked and clicked and opened and closed and opened and closed and yesses and no-ed and accepted and blocked and on and on. And then there it was. A lurid red opening credit sequence. Crackly, grainy, probably tenth-generation old VHS upload. So I made a cuppa, dimmed the lights and pressed play.

The story is a very simple one. Too simple really. I mean a twist or revelation wouldn’t have killed them. Turn of the century New York. All high collars and corsets. A dead man’s will is read aloud. His 3 daughters, now they have come of age and are settled and married, must spend a night or two at his old house on a private island as “married couples.” (Eg, they’re expected I assume to have sex at some point. Not in a group. Just, y’know, as couples). AT which point, the last part of the will shall be read, a trunk brough down from the loft, and the house and estate divided up between them.

All goes well until they all start, one by one, being bumped off in a number of clumsily blood-thirsty ways. But who is doing the bumping off? And so on…

Production, cast and whatnot



Is it any good?

Well it’s short. About 71 minutes. Which is a god send. As I must have checked my watch 40 times during it. It’s not good. I mean it just isn’t. Call it “campy” or “charming” or “delightfully naïve” if you’re that sort of person. But it’s just terrible. The story is competent and not an un-trodden dramatic path (wills and inheritances and murder plots and “It’s mine I tell you! Mine!” style outbursts). Plus revelations of secret children and evil step moms. It holds up.

But the production values and – more importantly, the performances – are so hammy, hackneyed, scenery chewing, stagey, shouty and amateurish as to make one hide behind the cushion UNTIL a murder happens.

Remember Victoria Wood on UK TV. Her spoof sitcom Acorn Antiques? With all the wobbly sets and banging into furniture and blocking each other’s view and cue-card reciting. Well its THAT. Exactly like THAT.

But not on purpose. And with no sense of humour. All done in chintzy period costume under bad lighting so it’s too bright and too dark at the same time.


Well. What I’m learning as I embark on this project is that there is a certain “look.” And it comes up a lot so far (well, in the last 2 movies). I confidently expect it to come up a lot in the next few dozen. It’s this: Imagine you took a lasagne. Mashed it all up with some rubbery entrails. Drowned the whole lot in ketchup. Right? Now hollow out a large fat church candle and pour the mixture in. Paint the candle a fleshy pink. Zoom in close. Chop the candle in half with a big knife so it all spurts and sploshes and jets out like…well, like a waxy candle full of lasagne. If you can get a squeezy washing up liquid bottle in there too, off camera, for some “spurty jets” that’d help.

Perhaps in 1968 this was face-coveringly macabre. But now it’s purile and silly. It might startle a maiden-aunt or a timid grandad. But certainly no worse than an average episode of Holby City or E.R.

The nastiest parts to be fair are the casual face-slapping of “hysterical” women. All of whom are seen topless, wandering about in their bedrooms, getting playful fondlings from their idiot husbands and shifting under semi-see-through night-dresses. It’s sexy, if Kenny Everett and Minder was sexy.

Ban worthy?

Not in the least. No more pairs of boobs than you’d get in Porky’s Revenge or a feature length episode of The Sweeney. Dull periods of swooning maidens and brandy-swigging menfolk. A backwards/backwoods “Egor” like gardener. And a half dozen jumpy stabbings with household equipment that, as I say, are silly rather than gory. As gruesome as the Great British Bake Off “Sponge Cake Mix” episode.

What does it remind me of?

Victoria Wood’s “Acorn Antiques.” This Fry and Laurie Sketch. And, I suppose, the squirty red paint dismemberment of Blood Feast (1963). See earlier episode.

Where to find it?

If you want to bother, and it’s for completists only. Remember, I’m doing this so you don’t have to, it’s here, if you can wade through the pop ups.

Also available on DVD on Amazon, Ebay and the usual places.



“The worst horror movie I have ever seen.”


Who made it? – Directed by Herschell Gordon Lewis| Written by Allison Louise Downe | Director Of Photography Herschell Gordon Lewis | Special Effects

Who’s in it? – Mal Arnold| William Kerwin | Connie Mason | Lyn Bolton | Scott H. Hall

If you weren’t watching this, you might have been watching… Cleopatra / The Birds / The Great Escape

So this, ladies and gentlemen, is apparently where it all began. Not the first movie with a murder, not the first movie with bloodshed, not the first movie with Egyptian sacrifice. Probably not even the first movie with all of them. However, it you study your literature, read your web pages, check your books and ask Mark Kermode and Kim Newman nicely, they’ll probably tell you. There once were just movies. Then in 1963, all of a sudden, there were “splatter movies.”

Ladies and gents, I present Herschell Gordon Lewis’s BLOOD FEAST

So, before we dive in. Some background. Why this one. Why this one now?

Well I went to a few websites and found that essentially, the world agrees that the Video Recordings Act of 1984 drew up lists of types of films likely to “deprave and corrupt persons who are likely, having regard to all relevant circumstances, to read, see or hear the matter contained or embodied in it”.

This list breaks down 166 (yep, 166) movies into 5 categories. And this puts the “gories” into catagories:

7 just “seized” by police, presumably because they looked a little nasty and probably had lurid boxes or titles (Blood For Dracula, Terror Express etc).

5 banned by the BBFC (British Board Of Film Classification) but not catagorized as “nasties” (Straw Dogs, Mother’s Day etc

82 “Section 3 Nasties” that could be seized and destroyed if found to be being owned or distributed (Dawn Of The Dead, Scanners, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre etc)

Next up were the films that were never prosecuted of which there are 33 (Evil Dead, Toolbox Murders, Don’t Look In The Basement etc)

And finally, what became the holy grail for horror fans in the 80s, the 39 prosecuted films (Cannibal Holocaust, I Spit On Your Grave, Love Camp 7 and so on and so on).

So having found these lists, I then spent an afternoon sticking them all into a lovely spreadsheet so I could keep a tally. Buddha always said all suffering came from attachments. I believe this Excel attachment was what he was talking about.

List done, I then went online to find the directors and the years of release. I didn’t really know what to expect. Would there be some true oldies from the vaults? Might the black and white Hammer movies of the 50s and 60s have turned enough heads and/or stomachs to have some classics branded as “corrupting?”

Well it turns out no. Once I had got all the directors and dates, a simple mouse click put them in chronological order. From the very earliest banned movie, to the very lastest (spoiler alert, Lamberto Bava’s Demons).

Which has given me, for want of a better method, a way of approaching. I mean I could have done this other ways. By director, (starting with Dario Argento and Deep Red, ending with Andrzej Żuławski’s “Posession.” Or by theme. Maybe all the Cannibal movies first, then all the “psycho on the loose” tales, followed by anything with “Don’t…” in the title (there are five of them).

But I have figured that chronological is best. Does this mean the movies will get steadily better? Gorier? More disturbing? Slowly improving production values and acting? Are early 1970s movies clearly grainier and more amateur and clumsy than slick mid 80s efforts? Well I don’t know. We’ll find out together.

But anyhoo, that’s why, boys and girls, we’re kicking off with the very earliest. As I say, Herschell Gordon Lewis’s BLOOD FEAST.

Now this isn’t a library entry, nor an encyclopaedic detailing of production details. If you want things like that, here are the Wikipedia page and IMDB pages



Almost ALL the movies these. I’ll supply as we go. This is where to go for minutae of cast and crew and dates and whatnot.

What’s it all about?

A simple and short tale (just 67 mins) of a crazed food caterer. Crazy eyebrows, crazy hair dye, crazy walk. He worships an Egyptian God. There is an unconvincing plastic effigy of her in his basement he seems oddly fond of. To bring her to life, he must perform rituals and whatnot with props and swathes of cheap fabric and candles. These rituals require body parts of young women. They don’t have to be from Miami, or in bikinis. Or be appalling actors. Although this apparently helps. Some bumbling cops are on the case.

That’s it.

Is it any good?

Well it’s too early to say. Given this is my first “Video Nasty” and as much part of history as a piece of art, I’m hoping this is the shoddier end. Because hell, if this is one of the “top quality ones” then we’re in for a fucking long ride.

The effect is rather like watching total amateurs. I mean proper no-talent, non-union pedestrians, who happen to be passing n their way to work and stumble in front of a Super 8 cine-camera on a wobbly tripod. Embarrassed, they start reading aloud cue cards in loud voices.

Honestly. It’s got a stagey “am-dram” feel to it all. All done in one take. Lines written on the backs of chairs and taped to the camera so the cast can read them aloud. The lighting – notoriuously hard to get right on a budget and usually the give-away for a low-cost picture – is glaring and bright, causing double-shadows on the walls. Imagine a man up a step ladder with a huge torch just off screen.

If you’ve ever seen 8yr olds do a shouty nativity, bellowing “and it came to pass…” while having teatowels on their head, then you’ll be in the ball-park.

The cops are wooden as wood. They make Chief O’Hara and Commisioner Gordon from the Batman TV show look like an outtake from Heat.


Well as the earliest on the list, I suppose it was never going to be all-out Rob Zombie torture porn or Italian gore fest of Ruggero Deodato (he’s coming up soon. We have to wait til 1980. But it’s bloody worth it).

It’s got that ectochrome bright coloured red-paint blood effect. All runny and sticky and like it’s from a Dulux tester-pot. It has thrusty and lusty stabbings, mostly shown as it were, from the waist up. So plenty of gurning and scowling, only to pull back to reveal the waxy, plastic looking fake body parts.

The most unwatchable thing about it is actually the performances. Panto villain with stick-on eyebrows and a Keyzer Soze limp (spoiler). Dialogue delivered in a slow, deadened eastern European sing song, like a bad Peter Lorre impersonator.

Ban worthy?

Well this is going to be interesting because what does that even mean? Too repulsive in its execution, imagery, themes, attitude and delivery to be able to be seen by consenting adults in private? No, of course not. And I’m going to be fascinated if we actually come across one.

But the deaths are vicious and prolonged and there are dangly animal-innards waved on forks like spaghetti. Imagine watching a terrible episode of Tales Of The Unexpected mixed with Hawaii Five O, while cleaning a dead badger off your car. If that sounds fun, then go nuts with this.

What does it remind me of?

Well nothing on the list yet, as it’s the first. But as I say. It’s clunky and shoddy and slow and daft. It’s a 1960s home movie made by your idiot cousins when they got drunk and found a grey wig, some Indian Restaurant decor and some left over Nandos.

Where to find it?

Well it’s available on Amazon Prime currently (14.11.21).  And also it seems in full, free, here on YouTube.

As well as the usual clips and trailers


“I fell in love with a Video Nasty…”



My history when it comes to your regular horror movies is much like most I think. I would not call myself by any means a “horror fan.” Or at least not a horror-fanboy.

I mean I like Horror movies the same way I like Tirimasu. I’ll take a good one if offered. I remember the best ones. I don’t recall the bad ones. I spend very little time thinking about them unless I’m enjoying on. (This is a terrible analogy). But the point is, I don’t know the ingredients, the history, have Tirimasu t-shirts or cookbooks.

But I suppose that’s not only an absurb way to talk about movies, but also not true. Because I have always – ALWAYS – been drawn timidly towards them. (Horror films, that is. Not coffee-flavoured desserts).

If I think back, which is at my age, with my hip, pretty much all I can do these days, to my first memories of horror movies and tv shows and the like, my memories are screamingly vivid.

Scariest things of all time (small screen): Well I found The Incredible Hulk TV show terrifying. Those wide, white-iris scenes of Bill Bixby’s pre-tranformation still stay with me.

It was never the green Hulk that was frightening. He was a silly man in make-up running around the dust of Southern California pushing over prop cars and lamp-posts. But the uncontrollable “transformation” by David “you wouldn’t like me when I;m angry” Banner was very scary indeed. What if this really happened? To my dad? Would he come thundering, bellowing, up the stairs to my room? He couldn’t help it! It’s the gamma!

When I was growing up, I knew nothing about “gamma.” Aside from it wasn;t good. And it was the only fucking idea Stan Lee could come up with. Which is why Marvel may be fun, but DC is better.

Rewind, or fast forward, to a TV screening, somewhere between 1974-1980, of Carry On Screaming. Now, I have not seen this movie since I watched it at the old family house (pre-1980 when we moved, thus enabling me to place the period). I could not have been any older the 8yrs old. And to this day, even NOW, I would hesitate to watch until the last frame, when a frozen waxwork of Joan Sims winks at the camera. Fucking hell.

The Hammer-House gothic-ness of a shrieking Kenneth Williams, all wasitcoats and nostrils, and the gruesome Tom Clegg’s role as the looming, half werewolf, half Frankenstien’s Monster OddBod. I can remember, wrapped in my dressing gown, crying in front of my mother. Too terrified to go up the stairs to bed. I don’t know what I was particularly scared of. That monster I think. But it was enough to make, even today, me have second thoughts about watching. God even the theme tune is enough to have my shivering. No no no. Begone Carry On Screaming. I was too young and it was too goulish.

It was of course just inspired by all the old Hammer horror “haunted house” Mummy / Dracula / Wolfman characters and tropes. None of which I considered scary as a boy. Perhaps I didn’t watch them? Perhaps they were on “too late?” But I don’t even remember pestering parents to be able to watch them.

But other key horror memories of my youth include, in no fucking order whatsoever:

Going to bed during the  1957 Incredible Shrinking Man. Which I found spectacular in a wowzers special effects “how did they do that?!” way. I watched about half. But then, knowing as I did (donlt know how) there was a spider attack, I bottled it and went to bed early.

Being on holiday with my pal Simon. I would holiday with him and his parents some summers as his and my folks were churchy pals and we were similar age and temperament. We knew Ridley Scott’s Alien was playing on TV that night in the guest house. And we knew that something bursts out of something else at some point. And we were teasing and tickling and behind very “aww maaaaan, I’d love to see that!” about it. We were sent to bed. I don’t think we minded that much.

Halloween III – Season Of The Witch. I don’t know if I was re-watching this. Or maybe for the first time. But it was on telly late. I mean, 12.30am late. So I went to bed and set my alarm for midnight so I could then get up, sneak downstairs, close the heavy white front-room door, put the volume on 3, and enjoy the gore and jumps. I never made it. By halfway through, I was nodding off, my heavy head dropping and jolting me awake. I recall masks, that song (3 more days to Halloween, Halloween, Halloween, Silver Shamrock!), snakes coming out of eyes, punching synth stings, a scary villain who wasn’t quite Donald Sutherland but had a go.

I think a lot of this was about purpe eyed yawny bragging rights. To be able to say “and then THIS! And then THIS!” on the train to school infront of jealous pals and chums. I recall none of them giving a shit as they weren’t those types. Maybe Brian was? Hmn. Yes. He defiantly saw a porno before I did.

The Omen/ Damien II / III Final Conflict. Well all three fell beautifully in what I like to call “The Sanctus Series.” This is any cod religious movie that has churches, candles, devils, screaming and – most importantly, a thundering latin choir with echoey “sanctus, dominus, christus, meribus!” nonsense over the top.

I even enjoyed the ad for Old Spice as a boy because “it was a bit Sanctus.”

So none of these were “wet the bed, mummy read me a story, leave the light on, screamy nightmares.” They just gave me chills and a bit of a Catholic “God Is Watching!” spookiness. Enough to have one clutching a rosary under the duvet.

Sitting jaw agape as John Carpenter’s The Thing unspooled on the TV one night. Dogs becoming men, heads becoming spiders, chests becoming bear-traps, flesh becoming everything… Still wit the power to make the audience join in with the cast with a “you gotta be fucking kidding …” it remains, to me anyway, the pinnacle of in-camera latexy goey, non CGI real-life plastic effects.

And trying to describe the transformation scenes at length on a train to school to those boys not fortunate enough to have seen it was a ghoulish delight.

Finally I’ll give a nod to two nasty little chillers that, again while not nightmare inducing, have been dark and looming and suspenseful enough to have stayed with me years and years later. Both of these would have been watching on a bix bog wood-panelled television in the lounge, possibly on a late Friday or Saturday night, possibly with family in tow. Dark Night Of The Scarecrow, a 1981 Made For TV American stalk-n-slash jump-scare gore-less screamer about the ghost of a special-needs chappy (I don’t know what the word is. Slow? Retarded? Touched?) who is murdered when he hides inside a scarecrow to escape the town mob.

And then returns to pick each mob member off with farming equipment. Those huge pale scared eyes of Larry Drake within the hessian sacking of his scarecrow mask? Still gets me.

And of course The Medusa Touch (1978). A thriller, rather than a horror I think. Although some blood splatter and head wounds and comical crushing death under polystyrene church pillars.

Richard Burton in his later years, being top menacing Mauler, bellowing at a post Omen Lee Remick about disasters and catastrophes and finally, much to and alarmed Gordon Jackon’s horror, a shaky handed “Windscale…” written by a dead hand. Brilliant.

Movie posters as I grew up in my pre-movie going teens oft caught my eye. Never EVER to the point of trying to “sneak in” or anything like that. But the glorious posters for An American Werewolf In London, Halloween, A Nightmare On Elm Street, The Fly, Alien etc. Always made me stop, stare and wonder.

I had a thing of Special Effects. That I do remember. I was absolutely captivated by any kind of behind-the-scenes, or “making of” I could catch on TV. Watching balsa wood Tardis’s being handled on Swap Shop, make your own Blake’ 7 blaster on Blue Peter, tiny stop-motion mine-carts in the documentary about The Temple Of Doom. Model railways, remote control cars.

Anything illusion I adored. I would rather have watched “The Making Of…” than any of the movies. Clash of the Titans, Superman, Star Wars. If it had miniatures and trick photography and latex make-up and masks and whatnot, I was IN. I remember as a shorts wearing, smudged faced pre-teen, hours on the lino in my bedroom with my “useful box” (paints and crafts stuff) covering a plastic toy zoo gorilla in plasticine to try and recreate a Dark Crystal/King Kong movie monster of my own devising. To what end, I have no idea. Even then, fantasies of Hollywood SFX and Industrial Light and Magic and Stan Winston and Jim Henson…

Teens arrived of course, and with it…well. This brings us to now. Because I was born at “almost” exactly the right age for the prime years of the VHS Horror Movie.

The British Board Of Film Censors – who were responsible for slapping U, A, AA and X certicates on movies on general release, had no authority for “home movies” when rental VHS and Betamax machines hit the market in the late 70s.

The machines were expensive so few folk owned them, however your local Rumbelows or Radio Rentals would let you hire one for a weekend so you could plug on into your mammoth PYE, Grundig or Trinitron and then go tripping down to your newsagent to pluck a choice item from their gloomy shelves.

And what a selection there was! Unlicensed, unregulated, uncertificated, unlawful, unwatchable (often) and unrestrained to eager teenage paws, the lurid black, rotting reds, garish greens and yucky yellows – these were handmade, home-made, often Italian, often down right nasty, often soft porny slash and stalk horrors of every stripe. And only the discernment, attitude, morality, conscience or profit line was there to help the bespectacled news agent make their renting decisions.

All of this came into the public light of course in the early eighties two things happened. Firstly the distributers of Abel Ferrara’s Driller Killer took out very large newspaper ads in grotty video-rental magazines that began to catch the eye of John Q Public.

Plus one too many 8 year olds were caught bunking off school on sunny summer afternoons, curtains drawn, high on Monster Munch and Tizer, glued to grainy bleached copies of Cannibal Holocaust, The Burning, SS Experiment Love Camp and Don’t Go Into The Woods on the family Hitachi.

With great red-top fury and Daily Mail righteousness, Mums and dads banded together under the flag of campaigner Mary Whitehouse to, as the headline read, “ban this sick filth!”

Hastily brought in to quell the hysteria, the British Government rapidly swept in with the Video Recordings Act (1984). This allowed police to raid, search and seize, prosecute, fine and jail peddlers, distributers and renters of movies considered “corrupting.” Of course, given the efforts the producers had put in to the titles, boxes and cover-art of the garish monstrosities to try and tempt the gore-hungry teenager, deciding which movies should be banned outright from sale wasn’t too tricky. Pretty much the rules went:

Anything with Cannibal in the title. Anything with “Don’t…” in the title. Anything with screaming women in their underwear on the box. Anything mentioning a power-tool of any type. And bung in something satanic and witchy. And you had – ladies and gentlemen – The BANNED 72!

These 72 of course quickly became absurdly well-known, notorious, discussed, debated and most importantly, hunted down, watched and collected. The Act had essentially given Britain a “must watch” list and ticking off titles such as Mad Doctor Of Blood Island, Snuff,  Cannibal Ferox, Death Weekend and I Spit On Your Grave became the 80s equivalent of swapping Pokemon cards. Had you seen this one? Did you know someone who had a copy of that one? How many beheadings in that one? How much blood in the next one?

I knew nowt really of these movies. This all happening when I was about 12 years old. And I wasn;y one of those kids. I didn’t have cheeky mates or cousins or cheeky older boy mates of cousins who could get cheap beer, fags, porn mags and dodgy VHS knock offs. And I would have steered clear of the opportunity if it arose.

I remember now the embarrassed, red faced sweaty awkwardness of being a teenage boy (14, maybe 15) and going round to a social club owned by Robert O’Malley’s father one afternoon. There was about 20 of us. Lots of fizzy pop and crisps. And Robert wheeled out a boxy telly (no doubt used in the club for Wrestling or Darts or something, this being pre-SKY). And in he slipped what was no doubt a dad’s copy of the legend “Confessions Of A Window Cleaner.” Breathless and confused, we all sat, bent cocked and light headed in the dark, munching our Skips and sipping Quatro, while ACTUAL WOMEN showed their ACTUAL TITS and PUBES to us while Robin Askwith fannied about with swannee whistles and denim jackets.

I found the whole thing terribly exciting, this being my first exposure to “adult entertainment.” But I did spend most of the time trying to relieve the palpable tension with stupid jokes and sound effects, praying we wouldn’t get caught.

Which tells you how much of a rebel I was.

But it was the allure of the boxes that clung to me. The garish covers of magazines like Fangoria. Blindingly bright lurid letters and bloodied gore-streaked stills of monsters and zombies and skulls and killers. How Evil was the Evil Dead? I had no idea. But I’d heard stories. How much of a Massacre WAS the Texas Chainsaw Massacre? Not a clue. Who LIVED in the last house on the left? Nope. Why did the hills even HAVE eyes? How much drill would actually kill? All of these questions tempted me. But I never caved.

But then I got older. And suddenly it wasn;t up to mum how late I stayed up. Or up to dad what I spent Saturday job wages on. And little portable colour TVs, made by Currys and Dixons under the Saisho and Tokai labels – with built in noisy VHS players – were affordable for the bedroom.

I’m not saying I dived head first into gore guts and grue. Most of my nights in with Philias Fogg tortilla chips (made in Medomsely Road, Consett) and 2 litres of coke, were cop movies and comedies.

But once in a while, from the corner of Blockbuster or, as it was then, Home-Run Video, on Station Road in Harrow, something a bit “scary” might be taken home for my £2.50.

This was where joys such as The Evil Dead, Texas Chainsaw, Halloween sequels, The Thing, The Fly, Fridays of the thirteenth variety, Christine, Salem’s Lot, Fright Night, Videodrome and Demons were finally consumed. Along side silly Billy Crystal and steroided Stallone.

So, to make a long story even longer, time to put that right I think. I am fascinated to know a number of things about the 1980s Video Nasty scare, and have downloaded a couple of books which cover the subject. I have already read plenty of Kermode on Horror. Kim Newman’s definitive guide is another that lurks in the depths of my Kindle. I am wading through Schlock Theatre 1&2 and the very chatty, yet screamingly repetitive VHS Nasty.

So I what I’m looking for in this project which will take me chronologically from 1963’s Blood Feast to 1985’s Demons is

:1. A change in sensibility. What did we – or the government – find shocking then, that – 30 years later – we either still are repulsed by, or now just laugh at.

2. Are there very very good horror movies that got on this list that deserve to be seen?

3. How have special effects, visual effects, latex effects and body horror gore effects improved over the 20 years of the banned movies.

4. How good can a Video Box look compared to the poor quality of the product inside. Hooray for marketing.

5. Do these movies deserve the reputation they have?

6. Is an academic reading of a film in which a girl in a nighty has her head sawn off a desperate attempt to just legitimise juvenile titillation?

7. Are there, as Joseph Campbell once said, only 7 stories in the world. And if you add zombies, does that make 8?

So. There we are. Along side my regular updates on Comedy and Quizzes and such, I’ll post a movie review once in while. These aren’t going to be long academic treatise with a lot of film theory. Just what I think. I’m not a reviewer. Just an eager spectator. Perhaps folk might join me along the way.

Just stay on the path. Beware the moon. And don’t go into the woods… etc

Hobbies and habits and hope

“Arnold Layne…had a strange…hobby…”


Good morning. Well it’s Sunday the 14th Nov. It’s just after 11am and I’m up. Which is unusual for me. Weekends are normally a post-noon rising time, to make up for silly late nights, strenuous work, boozy pub nights and quizzes and clubs. This morning however, sweaty under a heavy duvet, I lay awake , mind spinning like a roulete wheel of “things to do today.”

As ever of course in the plodding walk to the grave that we call life – or a least my life – almost none of them are important. I have no charity work to do, I have no children begging for homework help or trips to swimming, I have no vital novel to finish, no lawn to mow or car with which to tinker. No, it’s my usual nagging feeling of “do SOMETHING” which normally inspires a 2 week flurry of activity that then withers and drops off and I can’t understand why I was interested in.

Past pieces of bi-polar-ish twitchy mania have included: a police procedural crime novel about a troubled cop called Jack Prophet (full plan and 1 chapter written); a meta comedy thriller called “Crisis” where a thriller writer sends his own creation on a mission to find meaning in his own life (lots of research, no title); A Rockabilly catalogue (lets listen in chronological order to all the best and most influential Rockabilly songs ever recorded, making notes of things like labels and years and artists and influences. (Started this, spreadsheet began to be filled, listened to about 150 or so records. Since abandoned). Online animated Jeff Goldbum Funko Pop series. Hilariously silly stories of plastic Jeff Goldblums, 4 inches high and trapped in the real world Lengthy animation and editing required. About 7 episodes made. All online.

Also with trailer and facebook page, also with own merchandise. Haven’t gone near it in 6 months. And my 9 month Army Fitness regimen which saw me, initially at least, pounding pavements in early mornings, sit-ups and press-ups and all sorts of stretchiness. Tried it three times I think. Never got more than 2 months in before cake and telly and sleepiness and lack of immediately rippling results drove me to the couch.

And on and on we go. Not to mention the literary “Gone Girl-esque” crime thriller. My 4th novel.  I have been tinkering with this for eleven years. It shows no sign of going anywhere.

How do I feel about all this? Well it depresses me, of course. As each one is a “what if..?” story that ends with unknown hope. Could any of these things “been” anything? And what does that even mean? To BE something? What kind of nitwit bar am I holding myself to, where unless something becomes a huge cash-cow worldwide internet/publishing/stage sensation allowing me to retire in idle luxury between chat-show appearances and university lectures, it’s a pointless exercise? Why can I not simply do what I enjoy and not have to make everything a “new career opportunity project,” doomed to failure? How can a hobby “fail?” You see what I mean? These grandiose plans that never come to the target mysterious and intangible “fruition.” Why does a hobby need fruition? How long does the chubby dad have to pant and puff about a Sunday league 5 a side team, before he stops glancing for Touchline Talent Scouts? I mean it’s feeble isn’t it.

One answer could be it is merely the curse of the time-rich. If one is going to shun evolution and mammalian instinct and not pair-up to reproduce and raise a loving healthy family, one is destined to have a fuck lot of time on one’s hands. And perhaps one is driven, albeit subconsciously, to justify oneself and say “well I didn’t have kids. But I did do…THIS!” and then, with a triumphant swoosh of the curtain, reveal a life well lived.

Folk have obsessions. I know. Men I think especially. Train sets, comic books, football, golf, motorcycles, lepidoptery, modern jazz vinyl. Things that consume them. I however continue to hunt. Because napping and toast can’t be all there is.

Which is a very long long long winded way of saying, guess what? I’ve got a new project!

(Oh has the fool learned nothing).

Four Moldovans & A Funeral

“We gotta go back in time…”


Okay, so we’re still here. Have moved inside the coffee shop now. Table is a bit high so I’m going to grab a cushion. One moment.

Oh, that’s surprisingly better. As I say, Claire just left. It’s just after 2pm. I have 3hrs free. No tennis on TV tonight so we might continue our exploration into the Spider-Man universe.

In expectation and preparation for the upcoming new Spider-Man movie No Way Home (released mid December), Claire and I are ploughing our way through the back catalogue. I love to do this. Recap on a franchise so it’s all fresh for the new release. Easy to do with Marvel. Slightly longer to do with Star Wars. Fucking impossible to do with James Bond.

SO perhaps tonight it will be the second of the poor Andrew Garfield efforts, The Amazing Spider-Man 3. A movie about which I remember nothing, aside from Jamie Foxx playing a feeble Electro, who looked NOTHING like the Electro I remembered fondly from my 1980s Spider-Man annuals.

Superhero costumes almost NEVER resemble their comic-book origins. I think it’s clearly that, what looks muscly and amazing in the hands of inkers such as Steve Ditko and Ross Andrew and John Romita Snr (look them up), look fucking daft in real spandex and leather. I mean look at Adam West. They did their best to model the classic Dick Sprang/Bill Finger outfit in the 1966 series. But it looked all satiny and camp.

Spider-Man has done his best to stick to his classic outfit and the current Tom Holland version is the best they’ve ever done. The Christopher Reeve Superman of the 70s/80s was also an honest attempt. But X-Men? Captain America? Oh piss off.

So meanwhile, I got an email you’ll recall. An auto response from a site called “giggag.” This appears to be a “book yourself into a comedy open spot” bit of wizardry. No need to speak to people. Just click the boxes of venues and dates and the computer spits out an available slot. This was how I heard about “the Groovy Grove” in Hammersmith, where I dragged myself two nights ago.

Well what to say. My 2nd gig in what nobody is calling, the Richardissacne. Oooh that’ll catch on. Having contacted 1 dozen venues 2 weeks ago, awaiting a flurry of bookings, I have – to date – had 1 response. And it was this.

A webcheck and a Google Images search and a Facebook whatnot told me that the Groovy Grove is a nightly Stand-Up Comedy venue, upstairs in The Grove pub about 10mins walk from Hammersmith station. They appeared to do a new night every week, each pone packed full of a set group of compares and a revolving group of established acts, newish performers and utter newbies.

So it was comedy gear on “jacket, shirt, tie, jeans, boots” to go to work in. Much “oooooh, job interview?” responses. No, I explained. Stand-up show tonight. Oooooh, etc. And the day dragged on until about 5pm when I set off. Was horribly early so had 2 quick pints in Whelans Irish pub in Kingston before clambering aboard the Richmond bound train. Richmond to Hammermsith and then a walk to the venue.

Nice pub. Ish. I mean, roomy to the point of cavernous. Lots of pale wood. Widely spaced tables.

Some eastern European bar staff of the charming and smiley variety. I introduced myself and they tried to give me the keys to open up the room. I said I wasn’t running the place. I was just a performer. Just. Ha. So I sat and got the laptop out and starting compiling quiz questions as the clock creeped from 6.45 around to 7.15.

Compare arrived, all smiles and bouncy energy. Chap called Lucien Jack. Purple suit like he was Heath Ledger. All glee and energy.

Introduced self. One by one other comics arrived. I was the oldest. And the only one eager to make chit chat. Maybe it was the 2 more beers? So there were about, I think, 7 of us? One black guy, one mixed race, couple of whiteys like me, and three women. This seems like an appalling way of describing people. And sounds like a Daily Mail column. I don’t know I decided to say it like this. 4 guys and 3 womens? Or just 7 comics? I don’t know. Maybe because soooo much of material these days is political and revolves around race and gender and identity it seems odd NOT to mention it? Or maybe I’m trying to be woke – or unwoke – or something and I;m getting myself in a tizz? Anyhoo, about 7 comics. Maybe 8.

The “room” was a chilly upstairs. Medium sized room. Suitable for a parish council meeting or some such. School dinner style tables and chairs. A mic and a banner. Everything you need.

Sparce. But workable. The comics dotted themselves about the room and we all chatted nervously, hoping some actual audience members might turn up. And thankfully, they did. About 7 of them. 3 guests of the comics. 4 actual humans bullied upstairs from their pints.

And we were off! Lucien has a larger than life camp onstage persona and was lively and engaging, lots of audience interaction and such. “Camp”, as it says on the poster, would be an accurate sum-up. Much material about Grindr and hook-ups and such. I was set to be penultimate act in the second half so I had most of the other comics to sit and watch.

A real mix of experience and try-out styles. One chap had a notebook he constantly riffled through. Others chatted away. There were actual jokes that worked and got middling to good responses. Some were more lively conversation, the sort that causes a fixed half-smile and nodding approval, rather than out and out cracks of laughter.

Second half however. I set up my little handy “phone holder” thing and clipped it to a front seat to try and record the show. Was told this was the best way to learn and improve. Others spotted this with an eager “oooh, if you’re filming yourself, would you mind…?” and I promised I would leave it recording for the whole 2nd half.

And then it fell apart. Not the stand. The show. For me at least.

4 of the audience members didn’t come back for the second half. So now it was an echoey room full of comics and 3 people. The 3 people were all guests of one of the comics – a young lady from Moldova – who she had brought along.

Now you can say what you like (or don’t like) about my set. But “aimed at Europeans” ain;t gonna be something accurate. Given the amount of material that requires a knowledge of very English culture, idioms, terms and slang…this was never going to go well. I don’t know if terms like “sticky fingered / dogging / splash out” mean much to the average Moldovan. But I was about to find out.

I then further arsed it up by – after being invited on stage – I began to faff and fiddle with my phone in its holder. Screen on. Screen off. Sound up. Sound down. Mic on. Mic off. Focus. Unfocus. It was all taking too long and I was getting irritated and aware of an impatient crowd. I was trying to be loud and comically “klutzy” as I fiddled with it. But seconds ticked by. Lucien offered to “invite me on again” – kindly – to make the video better. But I was all tetchy and waved him away with, which I thought was a comically-Basil-Fawltyish “no no no Fuck off, I’m fine…”

Which – according to Lucien afterwards – was when I lost the crowd. “Don’t insult the compare” he told be briskly afterwards. “It was when you told me to fuck off” you lost the audience. And of course, in the harsh light of the next day, he may well have been right. It was meant in a silly fussy fusspot sort of way. Like I was a fumbling twit. But of course, if you don’t know me, it came across – as you would imagine – as just “fuck off.” Lesson learned there. You can befriend a compare and complement his suit and act and buy him all the shots you want. But a misplaced “fuck off” is pretty much going to piss all over that.

The material proceeded to get a very lukewarm response. They’d gone off me. And all the puns and British idioms in the world wasn’t going to get them back on side. So a poor experience all round. A mix of irritability at tech, short tempered frustration, silly phones, misjudged “banter” and a set designed for middle aged middle class Britishers.

Smattering of “county cricket club” applause as I took my seat. Grumpy and self-critical. Twit.

Oh and the phone recording didn’t work. Fuck.

In the cold light, as I say? Well I may well have burned my bridges with Lucien Jack. And I deserve that. With Groovy Grove? I’m not sure, as he hinted the club might be lessening its comedy nights in the future. That is to say, not trying 5-7 nights of live comedy a week. Which one must assume, if attendance and a zero cover-charge is anything to go by, is a smart economic move.

It’s knocked my energy levels, of course. As you would think. And the whole thing made me feel very, very fucking old. Cold rooms upstairs in pubs, unpaying punters, empty chair after empty chair, echoes of no-laughs. Polite chit-chat and awkward smiles. I have moved on not one bit from 1991 when I was in EXACTLY the same position. Except I was younger, had only 1 chin, and a career ahead rather than a career behind me. Hmmm. Not exactly set me up for another one.

So what now? And I mean that in every sense? It’s 3pm. I could apply for 10 more jobs and 10 more comedy spots. Or I could have a beer and a podcast and a nap. Oh I don’t know. Reliving last Thursday has put me in a sore-headed bear grump a bit. My skin is remarkably thin. Eyelids, rather than heels.

Oh well. Tired now. I think a pint and a nap would suit me as a Sat afternoon “closer.”
So time to pay for my 347 lattes, my sarnie, and pop the headphones in for some Mayo and Kermodian podasting. Although with my luck it will be 2 guest presenters. And as I listen for the wittering, not the movie reviews, this is always a crushing disappointment.More tomorrow I expect. Wish me ….something. Now, in a lovely way, fuck off.