Exploitation Retrospect | The Journal of Junk Culture and Fringe Media

Once again it's a holiday weekend, shocking since it seems like Memorial Day was just yesterday. The last month is sort of a blur, considering we spent the last couple weekends in May and the first few in June moving everything we owned from Pittsburgh to our new crib in Doylestown, PA.

Actually, that's not entirely true. A good chunk of stuff was donated to the local Goodwill ("thrift karma" donchaknow), there's a carload of boxes in storage at a friend's house, and the overflow of kitchen equipment (pots, pans, spoons, stirrers, and those Rubbermaid spatulas) made its way onto the curb as we were preparing to leave.

Where the hell was I going with this? Oh, right, the holiday. It seems like summer just arrived and now we're marking -- for me at least -- the unofficial mid-point. From here it's all downhill until the last gasp of the season on Labor Day. Hell, Thanksgiving's just around the corner! Whenever the Fourth rolls around I start inevitably thinking about freedom. Sure, in the past I bristled at the gov't's interference in my life -- the IRS, warning labels, the MPAA, the PMRC, etc. -- and even suggested I'd eventually move to Australia. That wasn't too much nonsense was it? Let's face it, despite its shortcomings, despite its flaws, this is the best country in the world.

You can stop humming 'The Star Spangled Banner' now wiseass.

That isn't to say other countries don't have a few things going for 'em. Sure, the recent World Cup was a disaster, but that's one of the few areas where we don't kick foreign ass. Well, maybe not in the brain-damaged cinema category. Yeah, we used to have inspired flickage spewing forth on screens around the globe like so much of Johnny Wadd's demon seed. Now we crank out generic blockbusters without any of the vim, vigor, wit, and insanity of, say, a BRUCE LEE VERSUS GAY POWER or THE WARRIOR AGAINST THE BLIND SWORDSMAN.

Thanks to Pete Tombs' new book, MONDO MACABRO, you can experience those films -- and tons more like them -- all over again. Or, perhaps for the first time. Tombs (who also co-authored IMMORAL TALES) traveled extensively to put together this exhaustive look at the sexploitation, horror, and action-adventure cinema of Hong Kong, The Philippines, Turkey, Brazil, Mexico, and more.

For those of us that recall MASTER OF THE FLYING GUILLOTINE from 'Kung-Fu Theater' or THE BIG DOLL HOUSE from the Super 130 Drive-In, MONDO MACABRO is a stroll down memory lane with some fascinating side trips. For those whose intro to the weird and wild cinema lurking on late night tv and on the shelves of indie video stores is just beginning, this book will make an excellent tour guide. (MONDO MACABRO is available through the ER On-Line Bookstore.)

The other day, a buddy and I were discussing the horrid state of the current musical scene. Pissing, moaning,and generally sounding the death knell for an industry that makes stars of such talentless hacks as Matchbox 20 and Fastball. The biggest sticking point, though, was when the subject of The Replacements arose.

We were in college when the Mats put out 'Let it Be,' still one of the finest rock albums ever recorded. It reshaped our musical world view and opened our eyes in a way no band before or since could match. As I slog towards 32 I realize that no band will ever capture my imagination like those lovable Mats.

However, if you want to reexamine those thrilling days of yesteryear, I know where to start -- with PLEASED TO READ ME: The Replacements Bibliography Version 1.0. Granted, I'm biased since editor Anita j Michel is an old pal and drinking buddy, and currently the owner of my beloved mushroom stereo. An outgrowth of a grad school research paper, the 32-page digest-sized zine collects about 350 entries on the Mats, their albums, live shows, and the solo career of the former members. Extensively researched and well-designed, PTRM is a must-have for an obsessive Mats fan...like me! $2 to Station A, PO Box 2574, Champaign, IL 61825-2574.

If bathroom reading is more what you're after, check out INTERESTING!, a zine which strives to be "The Best of Bathroom Reading." I don't know if that's the case since I'm only in the bathroom long enough to read once a day. Sometimes I like a nice lengthy interview, other times short burst of info like INTERESTING. And, is it just me, or don't women read in the bathroom? And, if you don't read in there, what are you doing the whole time? INTERESTING #12 collects quotes, short essays, and the type of info that might've passed you by (what sharks eat and what those tv ratings mean anyway) in a nice 20-page package. You can get yours by sending $1.50 to Rich Sagall at 747 S. 3rd Street, #3, Phila., PA 19147.

That's it for this week...stop back next Friday for more rants, plugs, and shameless self-promotion!

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