Sunday, February 17, 2013



The current issue of Australia's Filmink magazine (March 2013), features a small article and interview with me, discussing my new Blood on the Windscreen book.

Also nice to read artist/writer Stephen Bissette's comment on the publications: "Just finished reading John Harrison's excellent little chapbook BLOOD ON THE WINDSCREEN (that's "WINDSHIELD," Americans!), which provides a perfect overview of the 1950s-1970s Driver's Ed movies that were inflicted upon us in driving classe...s and/or "Shop" (Mr. Murphy showed us one at Harwood Union High School in Shop class) back in the day. Modest but definitive book, recommended—and just the sort of history I was calling for in one of my brief FILM THREAT articles back in 1990."

Saturday, February 9, 2013


Finally filled-in a couple of gaps in my collection of Cinema Sewer magazine, which I used to pick-up from one of the local comic book shops in Melbourne until it became a bit scarce to find. I’m always happy when I see an old-school fanzine still doing the rounds in hard copy, and Canadian Robin Bougie’s is (and always has been) up there with the best of the exploitation/trash film zines.

Published in standard comic book size (as opposed to the digest format of early issues) the most recent issue of Cinema Sewer (#25, February 2012) features a stunning piece of pulp cover art that heralds the issue’s main article, which looks at the much-loved genre of sleazy Nazi concentration camp horrors (The Beast in Heat, SS Camp 5, Gestapo’s Last Orgy and, of course, the infamous Ilsa movies).

Elsewhere within the issue’s forty pages, we have coverage of daredevil documentaries (Death Riders, The Devil at Your Heels), reviews of everything from Sissy’s Hot Summer (1979) and Monkey Hustle (1976) to Megaforce (1982) and Streets of Fire (1984) and lots more that is designed to not only entertain and amuse, but potentially outrage and offend those who pick the magazine up by mistake . And as usual, the whole issue is handwritten by Bougie himself, who also provides the bulk of the magazine’s original illustrations. It’s an approach which gives Cinema Sewer a unique personal touch and sets it apart from just about every other film magazine out there (also gives me RSI just thinking about all the work Robin puts into each issue!).

At a measly four bucks, Cinema Sewer is well worth your money and support. Issue #26 has just been published, you can order it, along with back issues and the three Cinema Sewer compilation books published by FAB Press, over at the magazine’s website at:

Friday, February 8, 2013


Directed by Herschell Gordon Lewis
USA 1969/71
Studio: Vinegar Syndrome
Number of Discs: 2 (Blu-Ray/DVD)


 While the majority of Herschell Gordon Lewis’ films were unearthed and released to the public (by the likes of Midnight Vide, Palace Explosive and Something Weird Video) in the 1980s and early-nineties, three titles from his oeuvre continually eluded his loyal band of fans and collectors. Now, thanks to the efforts of Process Blue (a film restoration facility), the Lewis filmography is one giant step closer to being complete, with the discovery and subsequent release of three of the Godfather of Gore’s obscure and previously lost sexploitation films: Linda & Abilene, Ecstasies of Women (both 1969) and Black Love (1971).

The pick of the litter here is definitely Linda & Abilene, which features the lovely Sharon Matt and was filmed at the infamous Spahn Ranch in California, an archaic location that was the setting for many western movies and television shows, and was being used as a hideout by Charles Manson and his band of counterculture followers at around the same time that Linda & Abilene was being filmed there (in fact, Lewis has claimed in several interviews over the years that members of the Manson gang were spotted wandering around in a psychedelic haze at various times throughout the filming). This morbid little anecdote aside, Linda & Abilene is a western sexploiter, but unfortunately an overlong and not very exciting one, especially considering some of the rougher adult westerns that were doing the flea-pit rounds at the time (such as Van Guylder’s The Ramrodder). The highlight is easily the lesbian interlude between Linda (Roxanne Jones) and Abilene (Matt), though unfortunately this doesn’t come until ten minutes from the film’s so-called climax.


In Ecstasies of Women, sleazy lingerie salesman Harry (Walter Camp) and his three pals celebrate his last night of bachelorhood at the most sparsely decorated strip joint in town, watching a couple of bored women gyrating on stage ("They must have ball-bearings for bone joints", one of his boozy pals comments). In between rounds of groping the topless waitresses, Harry affectionately thinks back to some of his more memorable female conquests, all of which take place on his yacht the ‘High Life’ (which remarkably has an interior at least four times the size of the exterior). By the end of the night, the whole gang (including the waitresses and strippers) end up back on the yacht enjoying a little group action, with Harry waking up the next day and deciding to leave his bride-to-be at the altar so he can continue his wicked, wicked ways. Filmed in Hollywood, Ecstasies of Women is basically a 1962 nudie film with some 1969 bush shots, and once again features Sharon Matt, along with some cool music (a mixture of guitar and sleazy lounge).

The final film on the disc, Black Love is essentially a ‘white coater’ (i.e. - a sex flick disguised as a documentary in order to get racy material passed the local censors). It is also the only hardcore sex film that Lewis is known to have directed (under the pseudonym R. L. Smith), and is a very grotty ‘document’ (complete with borderline offensive narration) of the sexual practices of African Americans, who apparently have different desires to other folks. Consider it the filmmaker’s contribution to the burgeoning blaxploitation genre, which was just starting to find popularity at the time.

While not amongst the highlights of Lewis’ career, it’s terrific to see these finally out there, and packaged together at a reasonable price. A definite must-have for Lewis collectors and fans of late-sixties skinema.

Vinegar Syndrome’s Blu-Ray/DVD release of The Lost Films of Herschell Gordon Lewis features crisp, original camera negatives that have been scanned and restored in 2K. It obvious that the original negatives Process Blue discovered were rarely used and in remarkably good shape for their age. Also included are the original trailers for all three films, reproductions of the lab cards, and a 10 page illustrated booklet featuring liner notes by Casey Scott.

Reviewed Copyright John Harrison 2013


Sunday, February 3, 2013


Golden Goddesses:
25 Legendary Women of Classic Erotic Cinema 1968 - 1985
by Jill Nelson

"I made it a rule, an absolute rule for all of the films that no women were allowed on the crew except for make-up. The technical crew: cameraman, gaffer, grip and sound — I never hired a woman. I don’t like women." (Roberta Findlay)

There is a continuing, undeniably voyeuristic fascination with people who were involved in the golden age of adult cinema (both in front of and behind the camera). Perhaps it’s the fact that they were both pioneers in a field of phenomenally popular (and perennially profitable) entertainment, yet also looked down upon as outcasts by the majority of mainstream society, who were happy to inwardly look but outwardly condemned. Or perhaps it’s partly because the people then had definitive personalities, looks and styles, unlike the mostly cookie-cutter, fake blonde and siliconed boobed porn starlets of today.

The co-author of the definitive John Holmes bio, Inches, Jill Nelson returns with Golden Goddesses: 25 Legendary Women of Classic Erotic Cinema 1968 - 1985. Told in an oral history format, Nelson has selected a diverse range of names to interview - including not just performers but also screenwriters, directors and costumers - which not only give us a terrific insight into the adult film industry during this rapidly evolving outlaw period, but allows us to know them as women, individuals and human beings. The bulk of the credit for this, of course, belongs to Nelson herself, who has obviously been able to win the trust of her subjects enough for them to open up a lot more than they would have in the pages of publications like Adam Film World back in the day.

Picking out highlights is a tough ask. The interviews conducted with actors who have since passed on (Marilyn Chambers, Juliette Anderson, Barbara Caron Mills) resonate with a certain sadness, but also serve as fitting epitaphs. Likewise, the chapter on actor/director Ann Perry (House on Bare Mountain, The Toy Box, Sweet Savage) also has an emotional timbre to it, since Perry’s battle with Alzheimer’s meant that her son had to do most of the talking for her. Elsewhere, Jody Maxwell (often billed as ‘The Missouri Stick Licker’) talks about losing her film virginity to Jamie Gillis and her unique talent for being able to sing while performing oral sex, and Laurie Holmes remembers her life with John and her disdain at the current state of the porn industry.

If I had to pick a favourite chapter, however, it would have to be Nelson’s interview with the normally publicity-shy Roberta Findlay. Along with her husband Michael, Roberta Findlay was responsible for some of the more notorious of the sexploitation black & white ‘roughies’ that emerged from the New York underground of the mid-to-late 1960s, including Satan’s Bed (1965, starring a pre-Lennon Yoko Ono), Take Me Naked (1966, written by and starring Roberta) and the infamous Flesh trilogy (The Touch of Her Flesh, The Curse of Her Flesh and The Kiss of Her Flesh). They later turned to the drive-in and grindhouse circuits, producing the 1971 Manson-inspired film Slaughter, which had footage added to it by Allan Shackleton and re-released in 1976 as the notorious Snuff (‘The film that could only be made in South America...where Life is CHEAP!’). After Michael Findlay was killed in a 1977 helicopter crash, Roberta went on to direct hardcore features such as Mystique (1979) and Shauna: Every Man’s Fantasy (1985, a tribute to Shauna Grant, who had committed suicide a year earlier), as well as returning to exploitation and horror with the likes of the grimy Tenement (1985) and Blood Sisters (1987). An impressive oeuvre indeed, and Findlay relays a lot of great anecdotes and memories, from hiding film reels at the bottom of a well to avoid the authorities, getting a cyst in her breast removed (a result of years of filming with a 40 pound Panaflex camera) , and her love for dialogue and disdain at actually having to shoot hardcore sex ("I was always disgusted by the sex scenes so I’d say "Okay, everybody screw". That would be it").

Other names covered in Golden Goddesses include such well-known names (at least within the industry and it’s supporters) as Seka, Kay Parker, Georgina Spelvin, Christy Canyon, Nina Hartley, Annie Sprinkle, Ginger Lynn (whose chapter touches on the industry-changing Traci Lords underage scandal), Veronica Hart, Kitten Natividad and Serena.

At 950 pages, Golden Goddesses is an expansive and exhaustive tome, heavily illustrated with over 300 black & white photos (including many candid and childhood snaps), and an essential addition to the library of anyone with more than a passing interest in its subject matter. I only hope that Nelson returns to the adult genre in the near future, as her two works on the subject so far have provided welcome breaths of fresh air in a field filled with uninspiring, sensationalistic and inaccurate studies.

Review Copyright 2013 John Harrison

Golden Goddesses: 25 Legendary Women of Classic Erotic Cinema 1968-1985 is published by Bear Manor Media ( You can also visit the Golden Goddesses blogger page at: