A GOOD TIME FOR NERDS

Between pondering as to why there’s been no Roberto Duran biopic made, I’ve been nerding out lately. For us b-movie geeks, somebody up there likes us. If you like horror films, beyond the wonderful work of Arrow Video (mentioned here last week), there’s more treats out there. Incidentally, if you don’t pick up ‘Destroy All Movies!!!’ on Fantagraphics, you’re a fool and we have little in common…but that’s another entry entirely.

I’m still waiting to pick up Christian Sellers and Gary Smart’s ‘The Complete History of the Return of the Living Dead’ but in the meantime, if you’ve got even the slightest leaning towards the realm of cinematic bloodshed—and I don’t want to even commence debating the imbecilic “torture porn” label here—you may well enjoy ‘Teenage Wasteland: The Slasher Movie Uncut’. I thought I knew a fair bit about teens getting sliced and diced until I picked up J.A. Kerswell’s knife, javelin, pitchfork and kitchen sink wielding tome. If you’re a lazy designer—or even a motivated one—looking for inspiration, the lurid posters and stills here might fire your imagination. So far I’ve only scratched the surface and I’ve already noticed that I know nothing. At all. Kerswell is my new teacher.

You can’t pick the former up without grabbing the triple-disc box set of Jake West’s ‘Video Nasties: Moral Panic, Censorship and Videotape’ documentary, which in itself is a fascinating watch, that makes our moral guardians look dafter and more corrupt than ever. But it doesn’t stop there – this entire package has a thirteen hour running time with deleted scenes, bonus supplementary footage, more trivia than is strictly necessary, trailers for everything on the hallowed 1980s BBFC “video nasties” list (that’s seventy-two films) and for the truly dysfunctional (or for more graphic designers on an idea pilfering mission), no less than fifty minutes of frequently animated video identities for onetime VHS powerhouses from a time before those pesky MPs put age limits on masterpieces like ‘Anthopophagus The Beast’…also known as ‘Man Beast’ or ‘The Grim Reaper’ or ‘The Savage Island’ or ‘The Zombie’s Rage’. I love the lawlessness of the era that allowed for repeat renaming dependent on distributor and/or territories.

If you like anything that goes a little too far in its exploration to the point where it becomes a worrying, single-minded quest for comprehensiveness and even if horror cinema isn’t your main focus in life, it’s worth picking up the ‘Video Nasties…’ to set as a gore-drenched marker as to how far too far actually is.

Even though the new wave of killer croc films let me down, Australian cinema’s been responsible for some fine genre pieces lately. Making full use of the location, ‘Animal Kingdom’ was a great little movie that cranked up the intensity with a certain expertise. ‘Red Hill’ carries the same level of technical savvy and works that scenery in, even if it’s a little heavy-handed in its modern western theme of perceived evil riding into town to settle scores. It’s hugely enjoyable, with some nasty deaths and a pervading sense of darkness throughout. Did it need the spiritual overtones? Probably not, but it’s still gritty as hell. At times, some stylized shots had me reminiscing over Russell Mulcahy’s ultra stylized killer-pig flick, ‘Razorback’. That boar on steroids effort might be dumber than multiple barrels of monkeys, but it’s also beautiful. However, ‘Red Hill ‘ director Patrick Hughes leaves a little more meat on the bones of his effort than Russell’s heavily gnawed, flawed masterpiece.

Finally, cheers to Nike for this shoebox-themed creation created in the Innovation Kitchen and made from an old basketball court. The fact that organization has people on campus who think up and create this kind of thing gives them a substantial edge over the competition. I have no idea what I’ll keep in it, but it’s something that spits in the face of cardboard anonymity and is—in its own labour-intensive way—fairly ecologically sound.