Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Sleazoid Express

I am not fascinated with New York. Could it be that living in Florida has made me immune to the place where all the snowbirds seem to come from? I've never been there and I'm very comfortable in my ignorance. What I have discovered from my reading is that the heyday of the grindhouse era sounds totally repellent to me. From the authors of Sleazoid Express, I get the impression that 42nd Street from the late 60s throughout the early 80s was like The Old West except the prairie dust was vomit and sperm. Um, anyway...

Sleazoid Express gets major points for attitude. This very opinionated book perfectly captures the bygone grindhouse days when trash ruled and the only thing scarier than the films were the audience often composed of junkies, pimps and perverts. The best thing for me when reading about exploitation films is not having to watch them. I'd rather get the synopsis of one of Micheal and Roberta Findlay's "roughies" from a book than actually sit through one. And I would prefer slamming my fingers in a drawer than attempting to watch an Andy Milligan film. Luckily for my vanilla tastes, Sleazoid Express covers a variety of genres in each chapter from unforgivably offensive Blaxploitation epics and Eurosleaze offerings from Jess Franco to the notorious Mondo films (another genre I'd rather read about).

Italian horror and giallo fans might be a tad annoyed with this one as many of the reviews tend to be situational. A film's bad sound at the time of its release will affect the review it gets which I find pretty amusing since Italian films aren't exactly known for their great sound quality. Perhaps the 1970s and 1980s grindhouse audience should have watched the DVD of Zombie with remastered sound instead of watching it in some shitbox theater. Maybe they couldn't afford a DVD player or perhaps DVD players hadn't been invented yet. I'm not sure. Also, some of the reviews are based on the authors' drug addled memory and the plots are incorrect. This I will forgive because plot and I have stopped being friends years ago. Clearly, I love gialli too much.

Who am I to argue over Italian cannibal films, anyway? I don't even like them! But I was intrigued when the authors actually split hairs over who is the more repugnant human being, Umberto Lenzi or Ruggero Deodato. Are you fucking kidding me!?! Any director who slaughters animals on camera for the "entertainment" of the audience is a dick and a dumbass so what is the point? But if I had to choose between Cannibal Ferox and Cannibal Holocaust, I'd pick Holocaust because it made me want to seek counseling. Ferox made me want to wash my DVD player but otherwise there was no lasting psychological damage. Or was there? Wow, I'm being a contradictory ass today.

Gory horror films are given a great deal of attention so you know I'm pleased. The films of Herschell Gordon Lewis are explored thoroughly as is Wes Craven's Last House on the Left and all of its ripoffs. All things considered, Sleazoid Express is an essential slice of trash reading and is a sleazy good time (as the title promises). It is more than just a nostalgic trip through a pool of sick, the book just friggin' rocks in every way. And don't think I didn't appreciate the audience reactions recorded in the film reviews. That's just good stuff.


  1. I'm guessing here (having never read the book or watched any cannibal movies), but I think Lenzi only used footage from other cannibal films in Ferox, so maybe that's why some might consider him to be "less repugnant".
    Glad to see that I'm not the only one who doesn't think that the original grindhouse experience sounds all that great too.

    Btw.: It seems like I always have to press the post comment button twice (no verification pops up on the first try), don't know if that's intended or some sort of bug, but thought you might like to know.

  2. I've watched three or four cannibal films and I have to say the whole sub-genre just sucks. Other than inspiring great death metal bands like Impetigo, I don't see why they're so special. You may have a point there about Lenzi using stock footage but real animal violence is so annoying. How the hell am I supposed to enjoy a film when animals who often have more personality than the cast themselves get killed for real?

    As for who is more repugnant, I'd rather read a debate over who is the better filmmaker (and obviously Lenzi wins by a landslide (though Deodato has produced a few gems like Cut and Run and Phantom of Death)).

    My old blog was overrun with spam so I use the comment moderation function here. It is probably what is making things more difficult for commentators. If it continues, let me know and I'll turn it off.