Monday, December 26, 2011


New issue of COLLECTABLES TRADER magazine (Jan-March 2012), featuring my article on 60s monster movie memorabilia, is now on the newsstands (in Oz, at least)!


Tuesday, December 6, 2011


A new review of HIP POCKET SLEAZE has now been posted on the Polari Magazine website at:




Survived a midnight viewing of Human Centipede 2 - nice to see a horror sequel try something a little different, a brave play on the perceived 'horror film as evil influence' themes which the safe media often love to play-up. Stark, bloody and disturbing, very evocative in B&W and dominated by an incredibly unsettling (and virtually silent) performance from Laurence R. Harvey - one of the great performances in modern horror cinema. Despite its confrontational visuals and themes, does NOT deserve its Australian banning - although that will only help to increase the film's notoriety (though on the negative side the filmmaker's pockets will unfairly suffer thanks to online downloads).


Saturday, November 26, 2011


My recent appearance on ABC Radio National's The Book Show, discussing Hip Pocket Sleaze and the vintage paperback genre, is now available to listen to/download at the following link:




by Kirk Demaris
(2011 Insight Editions/USA/156 Pages)


Growing-up as a kid obsessed with American comic books, I was always fascinated by the advertisements for strange and cool gizmos, gadgets, toys and other goodies that would fill the pages of every new Marvel and DC title I would pour through. From x-ray vision glasses and miniature spy cameras to hypno-calls and 100 piece toy soldier sets, it seemed as if there was a lifetime of fun and adventure to be had, and all for usually less than a couple of bucks a pop.

Of course, living in Australia, these products always seemed so exotic and agonizingly out of my reach. There were never any ordering instructions for people who lived outside the US, and even if there were, the coupons were so tiny I don’t know how anyone could have fit their whole address on it. Eventually, as I reached my mid-teens and started an after-school supermarket job, I did start sending away some of my hard-earned cash to Captain Company, the mail-order department of Warren Publications in New York, who sold a plethora of great monster related merchandise through the pages of their classic Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine. But over the years I would still look back over some of the ads from my collection of old comic books, and wonder just exactly what kids received when they bought these items.

Now, I need wonder no more, thanks to Kirk Demaris' marvellous new book Mail Order Mysteries: Real Stuff from Old Comic Book Ads!, which blows the lid on the reality behind more than 150 of these far too good to be true items. Divided into eight categories (Superpowers and Special Abilities, War Zone, House of Horrors, High Finance, Better Living Through Mail Order, Top Secret, Trickery and Oddities), each item covered includes the original advertisement accompanied by at least one photo of the actual item being hawked. Text is kept to a minimum, with each item receiving a brief ‘What they promised’ and ‘What they sent’ blurb, as well as a brief, satirical summation of imagined customer satisfaction (or, usually, dissatisfaction).

Needless to say, the majority of these items could not live up to their promise. The classic x-ray vision spex were nothing more than cheap plastic (later, cardboard) glasses with bird feathers pressed between the lenses (which created a ghostly outline around objects when held up to bright light). The seven foot long Polaris Nuclear Submarine was a couple of painted cardboard boxes that usually fell to bits as soon as it touched some dewy grass, while anything that was advertised with a ‘You control it!’ blurb usually meant that the item came with a long piece of string for you to pull it along with. Sometimes, however, the companies did deliver on their promise. The famous miniature spy camera did indeed work (although finding replacement film was apparently a pain the ass), while anyone who ordered the six foot tall ‘Monster Size Monsters’ received a beautifully rendered colour portrait of either Dracula or the Frankenstein monster.

In many ways, these products were no different to the exploitation and drive-in films being produced at the time, where the advertising and ballyhoo was always much more important than the actual product delivered. In the words of pioneering sexploitation film producer David F. Friedman: “Sell the sizzle, not the steak.”

Mail Order Mysteries is a wonderful trip down memory lane, and rather than spoiling some of the magical memories of my childhood, it has only made me appreciate these items all the more. In fact, I’m off to trawl eBay for some of them right now...

Review Copyright John Harrison 2011


Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Really enjoyed Jon Hewitt's new film X, an intense, violent erotic thriller set in the seedy underworld of police corruption and the red light district of Sydney's Kings Cross. In turns grimy and slick, it features great performances by the two female leads, a nice ambient soundtrack, some impressive cinematography and editing, and a pretty tight script by Hewitt and Belinda McClory. Hewitt's best works since 1999's Redball. Proof that Australian filmmakers can still do great things on a tight budget. Starting in a limited release in Aussie cinemas this week...check it out!



Wednesday, November 2, 2011


Sounds like this would be well worth checking out if you are in the New York area over the next few weeks...



Wed, Nov 2nd to Sun Dec 4th

265 Canal St, #601, New York, NY 10013

For press inquires contact: Heidi Sanders

The antiquarian mystique surrounding Edward Davis Wood Jr.’s career as an author of pornographic pulp fiction is legend. He wrote under a variety of pseudonyms, books were published and re-published under different titles, and occasionally under different author names. Multiple authors would share the same pseudonym, and the companies that published the titles weren’t the kind of operations that kept any kind of records, nor paid royalties, nor really existed in the manner that most are to expect of book publishers.

The paperbacks are truly rare, even in an age of mass-searchable used book engines, and google ferocity. Ed Wood’s sleaze fiction is also as strange, idiosyncratic and out of step with his times and mores as his infamous movies. Wood would write porn inter-spliced with lengthy philosophical, sociological and psychological discourse, he’d write first person narratives of life as a transvestite in the buttoned up America of the 1950’s. He’d riff on psychosexual themes, and unleash his id, his ego and his superego in turn, sometimes in the same chapter. He’d write about sex and the human condition without veneer or filters, offering up the damaged and anguished voice of a desperately soul-searching drunk with a sense of self-worth that would stand in dichotomy to his self-pity.

His descent into alcoholism and poverty was mirrored by the publishers that employed him. Towards the end of his life he wrote pornography with decreasing amounts of the strange flourishes of his eccentric personality. He died in 1978 of an alcohol-induced heart attack. His friends say the porn killed him. For further information see Rudolph Grey’s masterful biography Nightmare of Ecstasy.

This is the largest assembly of Ed Wood publications exhibited to date. Boo-Hooray has tracked down roughly seventy of his books and publications. Some collectors claim that he wrote dozens more. Entrepreneurial book dealers often indulge in Ed Wood pseudonym speculation. A ten dollar paperback can thus become an antiquarian rarity, even with flimsy or non-existent evidence. A handful of these are in the show.

The collection has been sold to the Cornell University rare book library where it will become a part of their human sexuality archive.

The exhibition is curated by Michael Daley and Johan Kugelberg.

An illustrated and annotated exhibition catalogue is available in a regular and deluxe edition. The deluxe edition of 250 numbered copies comes in a silk-screened slipcase with a 7-inch vinyl record of Chain Gang vocalist Ricky Luanda performing two homages to Ed Wood.

The exhibit will be open everyday 11-6 from November 2nd to December 4th. Closed Thanksgiving weekend Nov. 24 - Nov 27.

Exhibition opening night will be Nov. 2nd 6-9. Attendance for opening night is limited, an RSVP is required for admittance. Please RSVP to attend at this link:

Catalog and Deluxe Edition available in Webshop

This exhibition is dedicated to enthusiast and scholar

Robert Legault 1950 – 2008

For more info please visit the Boo-Hooray website at:


Tuesday, November 1, 2011





A couple of early reviews for Hip Pocket Sleaze:

It's hard to believe time really happened; under tall oaks the text-covered leaves... Is then is then and now is now? When I contemplate the spellbinding Mysteries behind old school adult exploitational pulp-print I'm not so sure... I go there with them. Anyhow, if you share my obsession with this lovely garish genre you will thrill to Hip Pocket Sleaze, a "celebratory overview" of said genre from the 1940s onwards. It's truly a wonder, a marvel. Evoluting out of the author's digest fanzine that he began in 1999, the most capable Mr Harrison has cultivated nearly 400 pages chock full of fascinating reviews of choice examples, interviews and essays concerning the major pulp writers, artists, imprints and collectors, and useful lists of what's out there, augmented by many b&w reproductions of the fantastic front covers of these publications and the advert-smut they contain.

It's wide in scope: a short history of the phenomenon; lesbian and gay material, Armed Services Editions, drugs and counterculture, horror tie-ins, gore novels, witchcraft and the occult, offbeat and esoteric titles, the sex film mags, plus a look at porny Super-8, photo sets and audio. It also confirms the organised crime involvement in this murky trade, including rumours of people snuffed for demanding withheld payment - art imitating life and vice versa as the characters step out of and into the magic pages.

Hip Pocket Sleaze is a top notch tutelary goldmine that will gift hours of fruitful delight to the newcomer or seasoned connoisseur alike. A pervert's bible kind of trip, surely destined to become (or already be) a standard reference work.

Reviewed by Mark Reeve

People interested in the world of adult paperbacks and trashy novels (most not really porn) have had to glean information from obscure journals, and quite a few of those accounts end up in John Harrison's excellent book. But there is also a tremendous amount of original research. You'll find checklists, writers, artists and publishers. It's really a look back at the way America used to be, back in the days when it was possible to be sleazy; now, all the strictures of society have fallen away. What's taboo anymore? This is a wonderful examination of a time when our morality was delineated by what we kept under the counter or in plain brown wrappers. This book is a great resource for both the collector and the social historian.

- Ralph Vaughan (70s/80s adult paperback publisher)


Tuesday, September 13, 2011


My review of the tacky 1970 Manson-inspired paperback The Hippy Cult Murders now posted over at Headpress as the first instalment in their Hip Pocket Sleaze Files. Check it out at the link below...



Saturday, September 10, 2011


Check out Mitch O'Connell's blogger page for some absolutely incredible, vintage photos of New York's 42nd St in it's sleazy, lurid prime! So stark, beautiful and haunting...and sadly, now lost forever.




Have had several new reviews (written under my 'Graveyard Tramp' pseudonym) posted over at DVD HOLOCAUST, including my latest on for the double-disc JFK COLLECTION.

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HIP POCKET SLEAZE is now available via Amazon US:


Was delighted to see it hit #11 on Amazon's Best Sellers in Books : Antiques & Collectibles Category!




Finally caught up this morning with The Real Dirk Diggler: The John Holmes Story (actually a UK doco from 2000 originally titled XXXL: The John Holmes Story), which I’d recorded off Foxtel earlier in the week - covers most of the same territory as the great Wadd documentary from 1998, and revealed nothing really new about Holmes fascinatingly sordid and surprisingly complex life, but was still worthwhile for some of its great clips of old Sunset Strip motels and Pussycat adult cinemas, and some rare memorabilia and behind the scenes footage from one of Holmes’ Johnny Wadd porn film sets. Not to mention the interview footage of Holmes’ last significant partner, poor deluded Laurie Rose (aka ‘Anal Queen Misty Dawn’), who moments after telling us she never touched drugs points to the bathroom window of the old Hollywood house she lived in and refers to it as “a great room to freebase in”. She remains convinced that Holmes truly loved her, displays painful inner turmoil and denial when being confronted with hearing that he loved having ‘warm-up’ sex with his co-stars, and still believes he treated her like shit for “my own protection”.


Friday, August 19, 2011



Was saddened to hear of the passing of screenwriter Jimmy Sangster at the age of 83. Best known for his work for Hammer Film Productions in the UK, Sangster wrote the scripts for X: The Unknown, The Curse of Frankenstein, Horror of Dracula and many other horror classics. He also directed The Horror of Frankenstein, Lust for a Vampire and Fear in the Night in the early 70s, and penned the scripts for many popular American genre TV shows throughout that decade, including The Night Stalker, Wonder Woman, Ironside, McCloud and The Six Million Dollar Man. Probably the first screenwriter whose name I first started recognising and taking notice of as a kid discovering horror movies on late-night TV.



New from Headpress:

The Lurid World of Vintage Adult Paperbacks
by John Harrison

and more....

Your comprehensive guide to the original pulp fiction
Nearly 400 pages bursting with timeless smut...
An essential companion to the Bad Mags books...
Click here to buy Hip Pocket Sleaze for just £14.39
( )

Click here to watch an outrageous selection of Hip Pocket Sleaze illustrations in our exclusive photobook
( )

Click here to learn more about Hip Pocket Sleaze author John Harrison
( )

Click here to read an exclusive extract from Hip Pocket Sleaze, When Softcore Hardened and the Sleaze turned Sick
( )

HIP POCKET SLEAZE is an introduction to the world of vintage, lurid adult paperbacks. Charting the rise of sleazy pulp fiction during the 1960s and 1970s and reviewing many of the key titles, the book takes an informed look at the various genres and markets from this enormouslyprolific era, from groundbreaking gay and lesbian-themed books to the Armed Services Editions. Influential authors, publishers and coverartists are profiled and interviewed, including the "godfather of gore" H. G. Lewis, cult lesbian author Ann Bannon, fetish artist parexcellence Bill Ward and many others.

A companion to Bad Mags, Headpress' guide to sensationalist magazines of the 1970s, HIP POCKET SLEAZE also offers extensive bibliographical information and plenty of outrageous cover art.

Find out more about Hip Pocket Sleaze at Worldheadpress

( )
Suite 306, 2a Abbot St.
London, E8 3DP, UK
Office: +44 (0)208 888 0781 / Orders: 0845 3301 844




Phillipa Berry is a Melbourne based artist whose passionate admiration for personalities who exist primarily on the fringes of cinema and rock & roll - along with a healthy worship of Mexican masked wrestling - manifests itself in the amazing shrines which she creates in honour of those who have entertained, influenced and intrigued her. Many of the people she pays tribute to in her shrines are names which have either been long-forgotten by the mainstream, or were never acknowledged by them in the first place. As Berry says, “The world doesn’t need another shrine to Elvis...”

Below is a cool little documentary on Phillipa and her work, as well as her amazing collection of memorabilia...

The Astonishing and Fantastical Shrines of Phillipa Berry! from SundayDriversPress on Vimeo.

Sunday, August 14, 2011


A few great vintage 1960s Mexican comic books featuring the adventures of their beloved masked wrester/film star, the Blue Demon!





Thought Captain America: The First Avenger, while hardly anything ground-breaking or visionary, was a solid and fun comic book movie, one of Marvel's better efforts so far! Highlighted by it's retro 1940s set design and period setting, nice nods to the character's long history, and enjoyable performances from all of the main leads. A well-deserved success for the often-malinged (and often deservedly-so) director Joe Johnston.



A peak at my little collection of vintage 'war stuff'....always loved a good Sat afternoon war movie matinee as a kid, followed by a backyard G I Joe battle when I got home!



As a big Apes fan and collector since I was a kid I thought Rise of the Planet of the Apes was an enjoyable enough film, solid without being spectacular. Much more faithful in concept and tone to the original films than Tim Burton's 2001 remake, and it's nice to see it doing well with critics and audiences as I'm certainly up for more big-screen Apes adventures! I do miss John Chamber's Oscar winning make-up though, and it's unfortunate that the trailers pretty much gave away the entire plot of the film, and the human characters and actors (apart from John Lithgow) were very wooden and little more than caricatures.

I also found that the abundance of references and in-jokes to the original films went too or two are fine, I liked the bit with Caeser building the Statue of Liberty model and the news clip of the Icarus lift-off, but the others were a bit too forced and obvious, and the "damned dirty ape" line should never have been used - it is such an iconic line and it belongs to Heston alone, not handed down to some kid who was probably the worst actor and most cliched character in the entire film.


Rise of the Planet of the Apes got me thinking of the fourth film the original series, and the one which this new film most resembles in tone and theme, 1972's Conquest of the Planet of the Apes. Conquest was the first Apes film I saw in a cinema, when my English teacher took me and a couple of other classmates to a screening of it at the old Airport cinema in Melbourne (this was back in the days when a school teacher taking a few of his 12 year-old students to the movies on a weekend wasn't considered anything to get overly suspicious or concerned about). He was a bit of a Star Trek/sci-fi nerdy/buff-type and I guess in us he maybe recognised (and took pity on?) a few like-minded kids. The only other Apes film I had seen up until then were Beneath the Planet of the Apes (a 16mm screening in our class thanks to a student whose dad had a bit of pull at the Channel 7 TV studios) and about the first half of the original Planet of the Apes when it aired on Sunday night television (was forced to go to bed just after Taylor spoke - school the next day).

So I hadn't seen Escape From the Planet of the Apes and knew very little of what Conquest was about and it was quite a shock to see the apes roaming not a primitive wasteland but a modern city, and the humans talked but most of the apes didn't? I suppose at the time it was something of a let-down, as the imagery of the talking, powerful apes roaming this eerie, barren Forbidden Zone strewn with the ruins of nuclear-ravaged cities, was one of the aspects of the first two films that most appealed to me, and Conquest obviously lacked that tone. But I was still sitting in a cinema watching an Apes film so I certainly still loved the experience, and over the years Conquest has definately improved for me, I appreciate more it's tone and themes now than I did as a kid, it has that great early-70s American sci-fi vibe, and I love the cold concrete feel of the Century City locales. The original can't be touched, but Conquest runs very close with Beneath as my second favourite entry in the Apes saga.



1968/Directed by Kinji Fukasaku


I’m sure I wasn’t the only monster-loving kid on the verge of puberty who was entranced by the cover art for Famous Monsters of Filmland No. 57, which featured a shapely female astronaut in a skin-tight spacesuit being menaced by a typically lurid, green one-eyed space creature. The art was a detail from Vic Livoti’s original poster for The Green Slime, a 1968 American/Japanese co-production which was one of those films that I never got a chance to see until I recently acquired the widescreen DVD released by Warner Archives.

When a huge meteorite is discovered on a collision course with Earth, a space team mount an operation to land on the object and destroy it with explosives. The mission succeeds, but the team unwittingly bring back a pulsing, luminous green ooze which quickly mutate into an army electricity-shooting tentacled monsters who take over the revloving space station Gamma 3. The obligatory love triangle is provided by Richard Jaeckel, Robert Horton and Italian stunner Luciana Paluzzi (my favorite Bond bad girl) Featuring some elements later found in big studio films like Alien and Armageddon, The Green Slime is a fun slice of swingin’ sixties sci-fi, with mini-skirts and beehives, a colourful pop-art production design, cool monsters that would not have looked out of place stomping across a miniature city in a Toho production, and a classic psychedelic-tinged theme song composed by Charles Fox that was later covered by the Fuzztones!

What more could you want?


Tuesday, July 19, 2011


Had to send off to Italy to get a copy of this 1955 Jerry Lewis/Dean Martin combo on DVD, but it was worth the effort. Directed by Frank Tashlin and filmed in glorious VistaVision, Artists & Models was always my favourite of the Lewis and Martin comedies when I was a kid - its mixture of slapstick comedy and comic book industry setting made it irresistible, and having not seen it for a good 20+ years I was happy to see how well it held up. Like many of the pair's films it has some embarrassing moments, and some of the musical numbers and extended Lewis comedy skits become a bit torturous, but it has some genuinely likeable characters, beautifully lush production design, and a terrific performance from Shirley MacLaine that is as sexy as it is kooky (not to mention energetic). 56 years after it's release, it has also transformed itself into a nostalgic and endearing time capsule that reflects the moral outrage and concern that was directed towards violent crime and horror comics at the time.


Thursday, July 14, 2011


(1984 CBS/Fox)
Directed by Danny Steinman

Along with Chained Heat (1983), the trashy, violent vigilante flick was responsible for giving former child star Linda (The Exorcist) Blair a second career shot and the grindhouse cult stardom she enjoyed for a period in the mid-eighties. It’s set in Hollywood, where Linda and her high school friends cruise the streets looking like extras who were rejected from Pat Benatar’s Love is a Battlefield music video. When her innocent, deaf sister (future scream queen Linnea Quigley) is gang raped by a bunch of sorry looking street punks. Linda dons black leather and stilettos, arms herself with a crossbow and goes after the lowlifes responsible. As the school principal, John Vernon tells the female students how well their bodies are developing and has lines like "Go fuck an iceberg", while the teachers allow the kids to smoke in class and have discussions on giving head, and the girls in gym class dress like they are on their way to a part-time job in a local brothel - no wonder I used to daydream about going to school in America when I was a kid!

Savage Streets is a prime example of mid-eighties exploitation fodder, and was heavily cut on most VHS releases around the world (including the Australian release on the CBS/Fox label). Surprisingly, a pre-Whispering Jack John Farnham provides several of the songs on the soundtrack LP, which was released by MCA (and is probably the only Farnham related recording I am ever likely to own). Director Danny Steinman made Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter the same year.

(USA/Colour/89 mins)

DVD Availability:
Released uncut (93 mins) in the UK in 2011 by Arrow Video, with audio commentaries, interviews with cast members, booklet, fold-out poster and reversible sleeve.


Saturday, July 2, 2011


Publication date for Hip Pocket Sleaze grows slowly but surely nearer. Hopefully I should be seeing a pdf proof of the final layout in the coming week. Keep an eye on the Headpress website, who have added a brief bio of me to their author profiles page:


Saturday, June 11, 2011


Directed by André Barcinski & Ivan Finott

Though somewhat short on length (an extra 15 minutes could have been devoted to some uncovered/glossed-over periods) and rather cheaply shot on video, this documentary provides an excellent overview on the life and career of Jose Mojica Marins, with a heavy emphasis of course on the films of his most famous creation, the charismatic and primal undertaker Zé do Caixão/Coffin Joe, the onscreen alter-ego of Marins himself, who went on to become an icon of Brazillian horror cinema and something of a folk hero to the people of Brazil itself.

Via interviews with regular early collaborators such as actor Mario Lima, screenwriter Rubens Lucchetti (whose house resembles a library, with its labyrinth of shelves harbouring neatly stacked movie and pulp magazines), editor Nilcemar Leyart and cameramen Virgilio Roveda and Isaac Floor – as well as input from his aunt Conceircao and son Crounel – The Strange World of Jose Mojia Marins traces Marins’ life as a poor youth growing up in an old movie theatre in Vila Anastacio, an environment which naturally helped develop an intense love of – nay, obsession for - cinema, through to his early filmmaking efforts like the 1958 western The Adventurer’s Fate and 1961’s My Destiny in Your Hands, to the creation and popularity of Coffin Joe. After finding himself under heavy fire from police, politicians and censors in the late-sixties, Marins subsequently struggled to fund projects throught the 1970s, eventually turning to alcohol for solace and hardcore pornography to pay the bills, in a decline which eerily mirrored that of American filmmaker Ed Wood. However, unlike Wood, Marins was able to pull himself through his tough times to enjoy the rennaisance and cult status which his early films received when they were finally released in the US by Something Weird Video in the early 1990s

Of course, Marins himself is also interviewed at length, wandering around his small apartment cramped with videos and 16mm film cans, showing off his bound collection of Marvel comic books (and dismissing Batman because of the perceived homosexual connotations he had with Robin), and visiting the studios and cinemas of his youth (all of which have been sadly turned into decaying parking lots or garages). Laconic and enthusiastic, and often clutching a cigarette between his long-nailed fingers, Marins reflects back on a career that was creatively rewarding but financially disastrous, discussing his filmmaking techniques (which often involved ingesting substantial amounts of amphetamines to make it through long shooting sessions, and ‘testing’ the resolve of his actresses by having poisonous snakes and spiders crawl over their often naked bodies), and the aura of superstition that often hung over his productions (highlighted by the sudden deaths or serious illnesses of several of his actors and crew members).

Some of the most revealing moments in The Strange World of Jose Mojia Marins are provided by the rare archival footage which the filmmakers have uncovered, including his visit to a Spanish horror film festival in the early- seventies (accompanied by his big, black and bald bodyguard Satan) and an amazing sequence from 1980 where Marins – in full Coffin Joe regalia – conducts an acting class to a large auditorium full of students. Whipping his students into a frenzy as he commands them to imagine that they are aboard an airliner that is about to crash, Marins directs the crowd with the fervour of a revival tent preacher, sweat dripping down his face as his pupils convulse wildly as if in the grip of an exorcism. Incredible stuff, which goes a long way in helping to cement the Coffin Joe myth.

The Strange World of Jose Mojia Marins is available as part of Umbrella Entertainment's 4 disc Coffin Joe box-set.

Review Copyright John Harrison 2011


Note: The above review was originaly written for the New Zealand website DVD Holocaust. Check out more of my reviews (posted under the name 'The Graveyard Tramp') on their website at:


Friday, June 10, 2011


Was quite impressed with Matthew Vaughn's X-Men: First Class, a cool reboot/prequel with a 1962 setting that gives it a nice James Bond/Cold War thriller flavour to offset its more fantastical elements. Highlights were January Jones as the lovely Emma Frost, Kevin Bacon as Nazi villain Sebastian Shaw and, above all, Michael Fassbender, who injects the young Magento with a definite pinch of Don Draper debonair. He is a shoe-in the be the next 007.


Wednesday, June 1, 2011


(1994 Forge/USA)

One of the more bizarre pieces of Manson related literature published, this fictional novel sets up the premise that Columbo (the scruffy, bumbling detective played on television in the 1970s by Peter Falk) was one of the first cops on the scene at the Tate murder at 10050 Cielo Drive, and had been in personal contact with Manson during his initial interrogation (where Charlie gave Columbo the nickname Crisco). The story then cuts to the present, where wealthy department store owner Joe Khoury and his mistress murder his wife and lover, planting clues at the scene which will hopefully lead police to believe that it is a Manson copycat killing (a tactic planned after Khoury learns that one of his secretaries is a still loyal Manson girl named Cathy Murphy – or Puss Dogood, as Charlie has dubbed her).

The Manson connection in Columbo: The Helter Skelter Murders is almost superfluous, since Columbo decides to immediately start concentrating on Khoury and his mistress Kimberly Dana (a beautiful but talent starved aspiring actress). Naturally, in order to rule out the Manson girl, he does talk to her several times, as well as interviewing another – and younger – Manson girl named Melissa ‘Boobs’ Mead, who is revealed to have also spent some time as a Khoury employee. Columbo also travels out to Folsom Prison to pay Charlie a visit, but the subsequent (and very brief) face-to-face between the fictional detective and the real convicted killers is hardly riveting or disturbing material:

“Remember me, Charlie?” Columbo asked.

“Lieutenant Crisco,” said Manson, grinning. “I don’t forget anybody. I remember everybody. Everything….It’s gonna make a difference to you someday whether I remember you as friend or enemy. The day comes, you know. It comes. For sure.”

Columbo: The Helter Skelter Murders is written in a style that successfully reflects the characters and style of the television series - like the TV show, we know from the start who the killers are, so the interest in generated not by the mystery but the way the seemingly incompetent and bumbling detective pieces together the clues. Author William Harrington, a former criminal layer, also penned Columbo: The Grassy Knoll, which had the detective cracking the JKF assassination conspiracy!

(285 Pages/Hardcover/ISBN 0-312-85537-0)

Review Copyright John Harrison 2011


Monday, May 9, 2011


Thoroughly enjoyed James Wan's Insidious, a refreshingly non-gory horror film that mixes elements of The Exorcist, The Amityville Horror, Poltergeist, Sam Raimi and Peter Jackson into something that, if not wholly original, is certainly creative, atmospheric and genuinely creepy. Listening to Tiptoe Through the Tulips will never be the same again...


Wednesday, May 4, 2011


For Aussie folks in Melbourne...can't wait for this! And at the grand old art deco Astor, only 10 minutes walk from me...this screening is part of the St. Kilda Film Festival. Each state in Australia had their own Deadly Earnest on least one has passed on. The Deadly that is showing up for this event is the original Melbourne one, as played by Ralph Baker.

DRIVE IN DELIRIUM'S HORRORPALOOZA! - a selection of trailers from the 60s and 70s


SATURDAY 28 MAY 10.30PM - 12AM

He’s back! From late night Fridays, way, way, back in the 1960’s, the one and only DEADLY ERNEST, Australia’s pioneering horror host, will emerge from his creaking coffin to introduce this program of blood-drenched, flesh-filled, skull-splitting terror that’ll stand your hair on end.

Come join us for this eye-popping, jaw-dropping trip back to the gory days of big screen exploitation with the most insane horror film trailers ever to up-chuck on to the giant Astor screen!

Horrorpalooza guarantees ninety delightfully depraved minutes of non-stop violence, monsters and Scream-Queen mayhem — not to mention numerous undead armies of flesh-feasting freaks running amok.

Programmed by Mark Hartley and Jamie Blanks, the makers of Not Quite Hollywood and Urban Legend, a mind-numbing cinematic orgy you won’t want to miss!



Monday, April 25, 2011


Some new reviews have been posted over at DVD Holocaust, including the following (click on the titles to access the review):





Monday, March 7, 2011


As with Scary Monsters and Little Shoppe Horrors, it's always great to see a new issue of Monsters from the Vault sitting on the racks of the local comic book store, keeping alive the tradition of the old-school, printed monster movie magazine. With its thick, glossy stock, superb photo reproduction and gorgeous original cover art, Monsters from the Vault is as near a pro-zine as you can get, and is clearly a labour of love for publisher/editor Jim Clatterbaugh.

The latest issue (#28) highlights a marvellous retrospective of James Whale’s classic The Bride of Frankenstein on its 75th anniversary, with essays on the film contributed by a variety of writers, and filled with some incredibly rare photographs (including some great behind-the-scenes shots supplied by Ronald Vorst). Complimenting the article is Daniel Horne’s stunning cover painting of Elsa Lanchester as the Bride. Elsewhere in the issue, articles cover director Roy William Neil (Frankenstein Meets the Wolfman, The Spider Woman, Sherlock Holmes and the House of Fear), a retrospective of the 1931 John Barrymore thriller The Mad Genius and an intriguing look at a stage production of Dracula starring Bela Lugosi which was held in the auditorium of a Florida high school in the early-1950s.

A great read, although not quite as enjoyable as the issues which cover some of the more B-grade or exotic/oddball fare, such as the previous issue’s articles on Don (The Giant Gila Monster) Sullivan and The Monster of Piedras Blancas, or the coverage of Mexican monster movies featured in issue 24 (my fave issue of MFTV so far).

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Saturday, February 26, 2011


A pic of my latest completed model kit - Revell's reissue of the classic Aurora Monsters of the Movies Frankenstein Monster from the early-70s.



Below is a sneak peek at the first couple of pages of my article on Batman memorabilia, which will be published in the upcoming March 2011 issue of the Australian magazine Collectables Trader.



A couple of my new reviews have recently been posted over at DVD Holocaust, check 'em out at the following links:




Sunday, January 2, 2011


1980/USA/Directed by Barbara Peeters


It’s not too surprising that Humanoids from the Deep would prove to be one of the bigger hits of producer Roger Corman’s prolific career. Like Joe Dante’s Piranha (another Corman production released a year earlier in 1979), Humanoids from the Deep contained all the elements that brought kids and young adults to the drive-in and suburban cinemas in droves during those last few glorious years of the grindhouse, before the burgeoning home video market exploded and enabled many of us to indulge our cinematic perversions in the comfort and privacy of our own lounge room.

And paramount among these elements was, of course, the melding of sex and horror, precariously balanced so that the women averted their eyes in terror and revulsion while the male sitting beside them try to desperately hide (or relieve) their hard-ons.

Inspired by The Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954), Jaws (1975) and the aforementioned Piranha, as well as Del Tenny’s fun 1964 romp The Horror of Party Beach, Humanoids from the Deep follows a similar plot device used in many of the ecological horror films of the 1970s. In the small Californian fishing village of Noyo, a conglomerate planning to build a huge canning factory nearby has been experimenting with a growth serum designed to increase the size of the local salmon, but instead succeeds only in creating a school of green, humanoid-like creatures who rise out of the ocean to tear apart the men and (surprise) mate with the women. Naturally, by the time our hero (fisherman Doug McClure) and heroine (scientist Ann Turkel) figure what is going on, it’s too late to stop the creatures from going on a rape and kill rampage during the opening night of the annual village carnival.

While it’s an overall enjoyable romp that hits all the exploitation targets, Humanoids from the Deep unfortunately stops short of being a genuine cult pleasure. Joe Dante’s Piranha worked so well because it combined the director’s genuine love for the genre with John Sayle’s witty screenplay and a roster of actors who bought the characters to life - including Bradford Dillman, Dick Miller, Barbara Steele, Kevin McCarthy and Heather Menzies. In Humanoids from the Deep, the cast seem to be mostly going through the motions, alternately looking bored and confused, with only Vic Morrow as a gruff, booze-swilling fisherman providing any real frisson.

When director Barbara Peeters handed in her finished cut of the film, Executive Producer Corman felt the film was lacking in the required exploitative elements, and had second unit director James Sbardellati beef-up the sex and blood quota, including some explicit shots of the humanoids raping bikini-clad beach gals which left Peeters very unimpressed.

Highlights of Humanoids from the Deep include the creature costumes designed by future make-up/FX superstar Rob Bottin, James Horner’s music score, the sight of young ventriloquist David Strassman getting torn apart just as he (and his dummy) are about to score with a young nubile nude in a tent (this will please those who found Strassman’s frequent appearance on Hey Hey It’s Saturday throughout the 90s to be extremely grating), and an all too brief appearance by bubbly blonde (and criminally underused and underrated) Linda Shayne as the Salmon Queen.

Shout! Factory’s 30th anniversary DVD release of Humanoids from the Deep gives the film the full treatment, including a new anamorphic widescreen transfer of the uncut international version of the film (which bore the simple title of Monster), deleted scenes, making-of featurette, trailers and radio/TV ad spots, a short clip of Leonard Maltin discussing the film with Corman, and a color booklet.

Copyright John Harrison 2011