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Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970, USA)

Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970, USA)

It would not be an exaggeration to call Beyond the Valley of the Dolls one of the strangest movies ever produced. Looking to cash in on Jacqueline Susann’s deliciously trashy novel (and subsequent trashy big studio film) the movie is by turns funny, amateurish, gross, distasteful, misogynistic, exploitative and brilliant.

There are so many back-stories and interesting behind the camera plot-lines that Russ Meyer himself would be hard pressed to invent similar tales. Distinguished film critic Roger Ebert helped write the screenplay, surprising because, while Ebert would praise [the] occasional exploitation film, he generally held a dim view of horror and slasher cinema.

“This is not a sequel. There has never been anything like it!”

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Herschell Gordon Lewis: The Godfather of Gore

Herschell Gordon Lewis: The Godfather of Gore

In the pantheon of horror and exploitation geniuses, no star shines brighter than Herschell Gordon Lewis’s. He invented the splatter/gore genre single handedly and was a true auteur when it came to his approach to producing his films.

“Nothing so appalling in the annals of horror!”

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The Lair of the White Worm (1988, UK) Vestron Video Blu-ray Review

The Lair of the White Worm (1988)

Adapted from the Bram Stoker novel of the same name, The Lair of the White Worm was written and directed by Ken Russell (The Devils, Gothic), and released in 1988 by Vestron Pictures. Based upon the North East English ‘Lambton Worm’ legend, revolving around John Lambton and his battle with a gigantic ‘worm’, The Lair of the White Worm was the last novel released by Stoker before his death in 1912.

“Now, if you’re sitting comfortably, I shall tell you why you must not be afraid to die. To die so that the god may live is a privilege.”

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Torso (1973, Italy) Shameless Blu-ray Review

Torso (1973) Shameless Blu-ray

I corpi presentano tracce di violenza carnale; literally translated as The Bodies Bear Traces of Carnal Violence, is an Italian giallo directed by Sergio Martino. Released in the United States as Torso in 1973, Martino’s artistic direction combined feverish sexuality and visually striking violence into a film that predates the American slasher subgenre. Perhaps then, the slasher owes a lot more to the Italian giallo than it is usually given credit for?

“Enter… if you dare the bizarre world of the psychosexual mind.”

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Star of David: Beautiful Girl Hunter (1979, Japan)

Star of David: Beautiful Girl Hunter (1979)

Star of David: Beautiful Girl Hunter is considered one of the best films in the Japanese sub-genre of roman-pinku films. The term roughly translates to romantic-sexploitation, as opposed to the pinku eiga films which focused on sex frequently combined with violence.

The film was made by one of the bigger studios in Japan, and it shows in the production values and acting. However, the term “romantic” is used in a far different manner than Western audiences will recognize.

“I’m getting rid of you. You’re in the way.”

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Truck Stop Women (1974, USA)

Truck Stop Women (1974)

This film was typical of the drive-in features Claudia Jennings appeared in the early 1970’s, with one notable exception. Although Truck Stop Women demonstrated what audiences would identify as the quintessential Claudia Jennings character, this was no working class, feminist hero Karen Walker from Unholy Rollers… In this film, Claudia commits about every original sin and violates a few new ones. She could easily be considered one of the screen’s best villains- a living nightmare, having no feelings for fellow human beings, and perhaps the sexiest sociopath of all time.

“No rig was too big for them to handle!”

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Claudia Jennings: The Cult Icon Who Fell to Earth

Claudia Jennings

For Claudia, The Man Who Fell to Earth was a dream come true. She was working with a veteran, respected director on a major film. This is what she had been waiting for… While her role was unbilled and her screen time was very limited, her impact on the movie was much greater than her brief appearance would indicate.

“The tragedy of her death was quite shattering, but in a strange way perfection for the scene [in 1976’s The Man Who Fell to Earth] upon reflection.”

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The Neon Demon (2016, USA / Denmark / France)

The Neon Demon (2016)

Of all of the films released in 2016, Nicolas Winding Refn’s The Neon Demon is one that I have thought about most. The reviews of the film are polarizing. Some people loved it, others hated it. Films like this are exactly the kind that I love to watch, films that really bore into your brain; films that you can’t quite pin down into a genre or a simple one dimensional theme. I could feel the director’s narcissism through the screen… I am still not sure how to feel about The Neon Demon, but since viewing it some time ago, I still can’t seem to get it out of my head.

“Beauty isn’t everything. It’s the only thing.”

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David Bowie Day at Liverpool Small Cinema

David Bowie

In the United Kingdom, Liverpool Small Cinema presents David Bowie Day on Sunday 8th January! It’s Bowie’s birthday and we miss him so, so let’s DANCE and celebrate the man, the music and the magic.

“I’m an instant star. Just add water and stir.”

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Snuff (1976, Argentina / USA)

Snuff (1976)

One cannot discuss 1976’s most controversial theatrical release without first discussing the mythology of the ‘snuff’ film itself. You see, a snuff film is a filmed sequence that depicts the actual murder of another human being for distribution and financial exploitation. Morbid, yes?

Then came along Snuff: “The film that could only be made in South America…where life is cheap!”

The history behind Snuff however, is far more interesting than the film itself.

“Are the killings in this film real? You be the judge!”

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Another 6 Essential Japanese VHS Covers

Cannibal Ferox (1981)

During the videotape format war of the late 1970s and early 1980s, JVC’s VHS would compete for market share against Sony’s Betamax. Betamax was, in theory, the superior recording format but VHS would ultimately emerge as the preeminent home video format in 1986. Consumers could not justify the extra cost of a Betamax VCR, which was often more expensive that the VHS equivalent due to the higher quality construction of Betamax recorders.

“Decadence is their fate.”

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