Received my contributor's copy of the new BOX OF BURT Blu-ray set from Umbrella today. I had a lot of fun writing the 32-page fanzine/booklet that comes with this set, in which I take a look at various aspects of Burt's life and career. The Umbrella folk did a terrific job illustrating the booklet, and the films themselves look to have a wealth of great extras, including contributions from Andrew Nette, Lee Gambin, Nathaniel Thompson, Adam Devlin and others!
SIN STREET SLEAZE
The Pulp & Pop Culture Writings of
Thursday, March 30, 2023
Saturday, March 18, 2023
NEW HAMMER HORROR
Umbrella's new Hammer Blu-ray box set hit the stores a week or so ago. I was thrilled to contribute a 16-page booklet essay for this limited release, which contains PARANOIAC! (1964), NIGHTMARE (1964), and THE EVIL OF FRANKENSTEIN (1964), all directed by the great Freddie Francis. The set also includes a bonus Blu-ray packed with Hammer trailers, and each of the individual films includes new audio commentaries, relevant podcast episodes, and other cool extras.
ART FOR ART'S SAKE
Umbrella's new TERRIFIER box set is now making the rounds, featuring the two films as well as the original ALL HALLOW'S EVE. I was thrilled to contribute a ten-page essay for the THIS IS ART book that is included with this amazing set, in which I take a look at evil and scary clowns, predominantly on film but also in comic books, pulp paperbacks, and even true crime.
Thursday, March 2, 2023
CINEMA OF THE 70s No. 8
Clint as Josey Wales graces the cover of CINEMA OF THE '70s No. 8, hot off the press and featuring my ten-page article on the disaster movies of that decade. Lots of other great-looking stuff in this 100-page issue, including articles on HAIR, NORMA RAE, THE SPY WHO LOVED ME, STARCRASH (with Marjoe!), Woody Allen, DEATH WISH, SORCERER, cinematic demon children of the '70s, and much, much more! Available from Amazon in most regions
Tuesday, February 28, 2023
I take a sneak peek at Chris Alexander's excellent upcoming Headpress book, examining the eight Edgar Allan Poe film adaptations which Roger Corman directed in the 1960s. New over at FilmInk, click on the link below to read. CORMAN/POE Book Review
Very much enjoyed Denise McKinney latest novel. The story of a handsome, rich British vampire and his adventures in 1982 Hollywood, SUNSET CAPRI creates a pleasing, singular voice with its mix of eclectic influences - think a mélange of Anne Rice, Ian Fleming, and Quentin Tarantino, as if written by an MTV VJ who also freelances for the L. A. WEEKLY. Apart from the undead Nigel, McKinney populates her novel with a roster of intriguing Hollywood fringe characters, like Veronica the punk rocker/struggling writer, and Peter the wanna-be big-shot showbiz agent, characters who live within the apartment walls of the mid-century modern block that give the book its title.
Wednesday, December 21, 2022
NEW WORK ANNOUCED!
Excited to announce I will be providing the booklet essays for these two upcoming Blu-ray sets from Umbrella Entertainment, due out in February 2023 and now up for pre-order.
New WE BELONG DEAD featuring Carnival Horror!
Received my contributor's copy of the new WE BELONG DEAD (#32) from the UK today. 88 glossy full-colour pages, including my nine-page article on circus, carnival and amusement park horror/exploitation cinema (taking in such films as FREAKS, CARNIVAL OF SOULS, SHE-FREAK, Steckler's INCREDIBLY STRANGE CREATURES, FUNHOUSE, and more). Looks like lots of other good stuff that I am looking forward to getting into over a cup of hot tea later tonight, especially anticipating the pieces on THE NIGHT STALKER, Robert Bloch's cinematic chillers, the interview with Judy Matheson by Simon J. Ballard, and a look at Clint Eastwood's genre contributions by Ian Taylor (a timely article for me, since I have been on a bit of a Clint kick of late).
CHOPPED MEAT is Here!
Just in time for Christmas! Santa delivered my contributor's copy of CHOPPED MEAT, the massive new full-colour tome from editors Darrell Buxton and Eric McNaughton. I was thrilled to contribute a number of essays to this book, and proud to be included alongside many other fine writers in the finished product, which looks stunning. Covering British horror cinema of the 1970s, including British co-productions filmed outside of the country, the films I have written about for this book are: HANDS OF THE RIPPER (1971), FRENZY (1972), THE POSSESSION OF JOEL DELANEY (1972), HOUSE OF WHIPCORD (1974), FRIGHTMARE (1974), TINOTERA (1977), and ALIEN (1979).
Monday, October 10, 2022
WEREWOLF BY NIGHT
Monday, September 12, 2022
CINEMA OF THE 80s DEBUTS!
With six issues of their excellent CINEMA OF THE '70s magazine under their belts, publishing dynamic duo Dawn and Jonathon Dabell have branched out into the next logical direction with the brand spanking new CINEMA OF THE '80s. The first 100-page full-colour issue is now out, featuring my seven-page look at FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH (which recently celebrated its 40th anniversary). Elsewhere, this debut also takes in Jonathan's cover piece on the Arnie CONAN movies, Darren Linder delves into MANHUNTER, Ian Taylor covers WHO DARES WIN, Rachel Bellwoar examines BROADCAST NEWS, Simon J. Ballard takes a RETURN TO OZ, and David Michael Brown provides an overview of 80s De Palma. There's LOTS more, as well, including pieces on DEATH WISH II, FITZCARRALDO, THE NINTH CONFIGURATION, Woody Allen in the 80s, and Dawn's interview with writer/director Steve De Jarnatt (CHERRY 2000, MIRACLE MILE). Check Amazon for a listing of complete contents and ordering details.
A LAST KISS TO REMEMBER
Saturday, June 11, 2022
MY LIFE WITHOUT REGRET
By Delilah Jones (aka Doris Gohlke)
Born in Germany during the height of World War Two, Doris Gohlke survived the horrors of allied bombing raids, and the complete annihilation of her childhood home, to find success in America as one of the most popular, and most photographed, pin-up models of the 1950s, posing for such acclaimed glamour photographers as Keith Bernard (of Bernard of Hollywood) and Russ Meyer (director of Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! and Beyond the Valley of the Dolls). A statuesque brunette with a genuine, infectious smile, dark eyes that could be both playfully innocent or temptingly wicked, and an exotic presence borne from her European background, it is not hard to understand why Gohlke was such an in-demand model for magazines like Modern Man, Satana, Knight, Now, and Adam.
In her recent book, My Life Without Regret, Doris Gohlke presents
us with not just a wonderful visual scrapbook of her amazing career, but also delivers
a candid oral account of her life story, which is engrossing and never less than fascinating, and
at certain points quite harrowing. There isn’t a lot of structure
to the narrative of the book, with it coming off more like a free-form, stream-of-consciousness, extended spoken word piece. As stated in the foreword, Gohlke insisted upon this approach for the book, with her words being left exactly as is, save for any grammar or
spelling corrections. But it does flow in chronological order, and the style of the narrative does lend a unique tone to the book, and
actually serves it quite well, allowing Gohlke’s personality to come through
and really guide the reader on their journey into her world. The writing style also makes it a lot more personal and intimate, with the reader feeling at times like they are peeking inside a private diary, where no secrets have been hidden and every experience, good and bad, has contributed to Gohlke's personal strength and appreciation of life.
At over 200 trade
paperback pages, My Life Without Regret is heavily illustrated with many
wonderful black & white photographs, both candid and professional, taken of
Gohlke throughout her life. While it is wonderful to see the photographs of her
on stage performing, and those taken by professional photographers for magazine
covers and layouts, it is the more spontaneous and candid photos, snapped in
cramped backstage dressing rooms and on various vacations and road trips across
America, which are the most fascinating, capturing their moments in time with a
simple authenticity that makes the era seem so alive and palpable. It provides
a remarkable social document for that reason alone, regardless of the subject.
CINEMA OF THE '70s No. 6
The latest issue of CINEMA OF THE '70s has just been published, featuring my cover article on LIVE AND LET DIE (1973)...not the first Bond movie of the 70s, but the one that really reset the character, and the franchise, for that decade. Issue #6 should now be available from Amazon in most countries, looks like some other fab features in this one also, TWO-MINUTE WARNING (1976) is one of my fave underrated 70s thrillers, and Jane Fonda was firing on all cylinders during those years.
Friday, June 3, 2022
TONI BASIL IN "MR. NOVAK"
Continuing my deep dive into the career of Toni Basil, last night I finally got to watch her earliest television appearance, and first known onscreen credited role, in an episode of the one-hour drama series Mr. Novak, which ran for two seasons and sixty episodes on the NBC network between 1963-1965. Created by E. Jack Neuman, Mr. Novak cast the handsome James Franciscus in the title role of John Novak, an idealistic young English teacher making his way through his first year on the job at Jefferson High School in Los Angeles. Co-starring Dean Jagger as Principal Albert Vane (replaced later by Burgess Meredith), Mr. Novak tackled a lot of serious and controversial topics during its run, and is considered one of the first television shows to depict teacher/student relationships in a realistic and meaningful way. The first season of the series received a Peabody Award in 1963 for, amongst other things, “restoring dignity and honor to the popular image of the American schoolteacher”.
Toni Basil’s appearance on Mr. Novak comes in
the first season episode “One Way to Say Goodbye”, which first aired on March
17, 1964. Written by Boris Sagal and directed by the great Richard Donner, the
episode guest stars Tom Nardini as Tony Sinclair, a troubled – and troublemaking
– student of Mr. Novak, who gets into even more trouble when his father berates
him after the teacher reports his disruptive behaviour (and even subjects him
to the most horrific of parental punishments: the taking away of car privileges).
Playing Tony’s girlfriend, Randy, Basil only has one
scene in the episode, which comes about two-thirds of the way through, but it
is an important and pivotal moment in the story. As Novak and his date Jenny
Peterson (Kathryn Hays) are enjoying an evening coffee in a small café, Tony
and Randy arrive from out of the rain like a whirlwind. When Tony spots Novak, he
begins to taunt him and hurl threats, blaming him for having lost use of the family
car, and even making sexual insinuations towards Jenny, suggesting a bit of partner
swapping (still a rather taboo topic in 1964 America). Rather than try to
placate Tony and diffuse the tension, Randy instead does her best to manipulate
him into taking things even further, her wide, playful eyes and the teasing
lick of her lips suggesting she enjoys orchestrating mischief and trouble.
Even at this very early stage in her career, you can already see so much strength and unique creativity evident in Basil’s acting techniques, not just in the delivery of her dialogue (where she makes the most of her minimal lines), but also in her facial movements and body language. Toni’s extensive background in dance no doubt influenced some aspects of her on-screen movements and postures, which makes her young character here seem all the more assured. Her Randy is emotionally much stronger and more manipulative, as well as more intelligent, than Tony. Basil imbues Randy with a taunting and teasing toughness, in that classic pulp bad girl way, but she also manages to convey the suggestion of inner doubt and turmoil, and the fear of rejection or being unloved, which is what makes her performance so interesting and effective.
Copyright John Harrison 2022
|Above: Behind the scenes photo of Toni Basil on the set of Mr. Novak.|
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