Wednesday, July 23, 2014


2014/Published by FAB Press

A large 144 page trade paperback, Robin Bougie’s lovingly-assembled Graphic Thrills takes us on a journey through the world of classic XXX adult film poster art produced between 1970 to 1985, the years widely considered to be the golden age of the genre, before the home porn video market really exploded and the artwork was gradually replaced by generic VHS photo boxes (just as the movies themselves made the eventual transition from being shot on film productions to one-man camcorder cheapies). 

Assembled chronologically, and featuring one poster per page, with a review and insightful notes on each title (often including quotes from some of the performers or filmmakers involved), Graphic Thrills covers such well-known landmark titles as Deep Throat (1972), Behind the Green Door (1972), The Devil in Miss Jones (1973), Insatiable (1980) and CafĂ© Flesh (1982), but the bulk of its pages are devoted to more obscure movies such as Barbie’s Fantasies (1974), Midnight Hustle (1976), Hot Cookies (1977), Hot Lunch (1978), Pussycat Ranch (1979), Honey Throat (1980), Carnal Olympics (1983) and many more. For uniformity of design, all of the posters in the book are American one-sheets (typically around 27 x 41 inches in size).

Some of my favourite titles featured in Bougie’s study are the ones which capitalised both on popular social trends (i.e. - CB radios in 1977's Breaker Beauties) and mainstream cinema hits (like the Rollerball riff Rollerbabies, the Shampoo parody Blow Dry, the Westworld/Futureworld spoof Sex World, and the obvious Star Wars cash-in, Star Babe). Along with all the fun, however, some genuinely noteworthy and/or controversial classics are included, such as Alex de Renzy’s Babyface (1977) and Pretty Peaches (1978), William (Maniac) Lustig’s The Violation of Claudia (1977) and Roberta Findlay’s The Playgirl (1982). And of course, familiar names like John Holmes, Seka, Vanessa Del Rio, Jamie Gillis and others pop-up regularly on the poster credits (as does the obvious visage of Farrah Fawcet on the poster for 1978's Little Orphan Dusty).

Accompanied by an introductory essay that provides the reader with a nicely concise rundown of the history of pornographic cinema during the years which the book covers,  Graphic Thrills is a stunning tribute to this immensely popular ‘porno chic’ period of adult entertainment, and a must-have for anyone interested in the history of the genre, and of exploitation poster art in general. The artwork on some of these posters  is incredibly beautiful - like the best vintage paperback covers, they are gaudy, titillating and lurid but often remarkably well-realised, and it’s a pity that many of the artists who provided the work remain unknown. Author Bougie briefly discusses the frustration of trying to track down any information on many of these artists - people who in most cases probably did not care or want to be remembered for their work in this field, but at least the results of their genuine talents can now be appreciated by collectors and celebrated within the pages of this book.

The US $35.00 price tag might seem a little high, but like all FAB Press books Graphic Thrills is beautifully put together and printed on high quality glossy paper stock, and Bougie has clearly taken a lot of time and effort to clean-up and restore each poster for maximum visual impact. A terrific effort from the author and publisher of the cult Cinema Sewer magazine (and series of compendium books, also published by FAB Press), and well worth adding to your film or graphic art library shelf (or just to your collection of dirty books hidden under the bed) . A limited (500 copies) hardcover, signed edition is also still available while stocks last. I believe a follow-up volume is in the works.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014


I missed out on the original hardcover printing of Master of Monsters, August Ragone's 2007 book on Eiji Tsuburaya, so was great to see it getting a recent softcover reprint. It's a stunning and very photo-heavy bio of the special effects maestro behind most of the classic Japanese monster and sci-fi movies of the 1950's and 60's - including Godzilla, The H-Man, Battle In Outer Space, Ultraman, War of the Gargantuas and so many more. Definitely worth seeking out if you are a fan of Japanese fantasy cinema or old-school special effects, the amount of rare behind-the-scenes photos included is remarkable.


A few minor quibbles aside, I think Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is fully deserving of the mostly great positive reviews it has received so far. I was a little worried that 2011's much better than expected Rise of the Planet of the Apes was going to be a one-off fluke, especially since director Rupert Wyatt wasn't returning, but incoming director Matt Reeves - along with returning screenwriters Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver - has crafted what I think is a superior sequel, filled with terrific action, spectacle, drama and genuine emotional conflict. Koba - as played superbly by Toby Kebbell in motion capture - is probably the most frightening ape in the history of the series, and provides some moments of real tension and fear. And I loved how Michael Giacchino’s score had moments that reflected Jerry Goldsmith’s classic 1968 soundtrack (particularly in the sequence where the apes first make their way into San Francisco).

Dawn is one of the all-too-rare sequels that not only tops an already-excellent film, but expands on the concept and scope immeasurably, in much the same way as The Dark Knight did after Batman Begins. Nothing will ever top the classic concept, look and feel or the original film series - they were what I grew-up with and were instrumental in me developing a love of genre cinema - but I'm impressed and pretty happy with the way the Apes saga has been successfully re-imagined for a new generation, while still being able to stay respectful to its roots and satisfy so many of the original fans.

Already excited by the prospect of where this series will head next...


Monster Mag is back! This notorious UK poster magazine was published by Top Sellers between 1974 - 76, and featured articles on horror cinema on one side, opening up to a giant poster on the other side, for young horror kids to tape to their bedroom walls and horrify their parents and visiting relatives.

Usually featuring a strong Hammer content, the second issue of Monster Mag ran afoul of UK censors when customs intercepted copies shipped from Italy, where the magazine was printed. Most copies of the second issue were destroyed, making it one of the most valuable monster movie magazines around (subsequent issues had 'For sale to adults only' noted on the cover, in a bid to placate censors). 

Now, Dez Skinn - who took over as publisher on the last few issues before moving onto Hammer's House of Horror and Starburst magazines - has produced an (almost*) exact reprint of the ultra-scarce second issue of Monster Mag, with plans to reprint some of the other more notorious issues in the near future (next up is the planned but never published XX issue, featuring a poster of a bloody and bare chested Yutte Stensgaard from Lust for a Vampire).

My copy of issue 2 arrived today and it's a beauty. I was too young to have bought this publication at the time, and have never come across any back issues during my many bookstore and online digs. The format is larger than I anticipated (though I believe the dimensions of the magazine changed over the course of its 17 issue run). The images aren't as gruesome as I expected, no doubt time has diminished its impact. But the fold-out poster of the funnel mouthed creature from The Mutations is great, and this is certainly a cool relic of early-70's UK horror publishing, without the exorbitant 2014 collector's prices.

* The reprint does have a website address listed on its interior masthead, along with a 'Digitally remastered by Dez Skinn' credit, to stop unscrupulous dealers trying to fob it off as an original printing.