Thursday, May 27, 2010



by Jacques Boyreau

As an admirer and something of a collector (but by no means a completist) of early exploitation/horror/sleaze films on VHS, I keenly picked up this book when I spotted it on the racks at Alternate Worlds (Chapel St, Windsor). Unfortunately, despite it’s great title and novel design (the cover looks like a VHS cassette and comes in a blood-splattered slipcase like an old sell-thru video tape), this colour compendium of vintage 1980s American video box art misses the mark almost as frequently as it hits it. With each video sleeve taking up a double-page spread (reproducing both front and back covers) author/compiler Jacques Boyreau certainly comes up with a few rare, lurid gems (The Legend of the Wolf Woman, The Black Panther, Nightmare Circus, Night of the Strangler, One Armed Executioner) he also throws in a few choices that had me scratching my head as to just what exactly Boyreau’s idea of a ‘grindhouse’ film may be (with the inclusion of baseball, war and hunting documentaries, Saturday morning cartoons, Jerry Lewis comedies and even a Barbie and the Rockers video and a Gary Coleman home safety instructional tape!). The text is minimal and limited to just a few page introduction, making Portable Grindhouse something more for the casual fan who wants something to display next to their shelf of Tarantino DVDs rather than the exhaustive study which the subject deserves.

(Fantagraphics Books/USA/2009/200 Pages)

Review Copyright John Harrison 2010